Saturday, March 15, 2014

Power Grid Can Handle More Renewable Energy -- Google Seeks 100%

Nation's Largest Grid Operator: Huge Renewables Expansion Won't Be a Problem

By John Moore

PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest power transmission grid organization, announced last week that wind and solar power could generate about 30 percent of PJM’s total electricity for its territory covering the Mid-Atlantic region and part of the Midwest by 2026 without “any significant issues.” That’s engineer-speak for “no big deal.” Even better, we would see more clean power at less cost and with far less pollution than our current mix of coal and natural gas power plants.

PJM’s new renewables integration report, prepared for it by General Electric, is required reading for anyone who questions the ability of the electric grid to handle large amounts of wind, solar, and other renewable energy. GE estimates that about 113,000 megawatts (MW) of installed wind and solar power resources (including distributed/generation), could produce about 30 percent of the region’s total energy. That’s enough energy to power 23.5 million homes annually. Here’s the breakdown of the resource mix in one of the scenarios studied in the report:

Resource Mix.png Significant benefits from more clean energy
The report estimates that 30 percent wind and solar power in PJM would bring the following benefits:
  • 40 percent less carbon pollution than “business as usual.”
  • Lower average energy prices across PJM’s footprint – because wind and solar would avoid $15.6 billion in coal and natural gas fuel costs.
  • Very little additional power (only 1500 MW) needed to support the minute-to-minute variability of the renewable power (like when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow).
  • No additional operating (known as “spinning”) reserves needed for backup power. (Wow!)
  • 44 percent less gas-fired generation and 21 percent less coal-fired generation—which also reduces the amount of carbon pollution emitted into the atmosphere.
The benefits, which really are stunning, derive primarily from several facts: 1) solar and wind power have zero fuel cost, which makes up most of the price of energy; 2) these resources are now commercially available and competitive with other power; 3) they produce zero carbon and other pollution; and 4) PJM’s large size over 14 states significantly reduces the magnitude of weather-caused variations in power output that can occur during the day and night.


Google Exec: 'Our Goal Is To Be 100 Percent Renewable Powered'

by Khier Casino

Google spent $2.25 billion in its last quarter on data centers and infrastructure, giving it a reason to use solar, wind and other alternative energies to cut everyday costs for the company.

"We've invested over a billion dollars in 15 projects that have the capacity to produce two gigawatts of power around the world, mostly in the US, but that's the equivalent of Hoover's Dam worth of power generation," Needham said.

Google recently opened the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, located on federal land on the California-Nevada border southwest of Las Vegas. The field of mirrors rein in solar and energy and cuts energy costs.

"The fact is that all of these things, procuring power for ourselves, investing in power plants, renewable power plants, they all make business sense, they make sense for us as a company to do. We rely on power for our business," Needham adds.

Other companies in Silicon Valley are as devoted as Google in investing in sources of renewable energy.

"Silicon Valley is leading the charge to be more efficient, to work on solutions to some of these problems," said Ben Schachter, senior Internet analyst at Macquarie Securities. "Google is ahead of the pack and we'll have to wait and see how it works out. They are certainly trying many different initiatives to figure out how best to manage their footprint in the environment, as well as how to manage the cost of all their energy."

The original article is here.

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