A few months ago, South Africa looked set to shackle itself to a cripplingly expensive fleet of Russian nuclear power stations. Overblown coal development was ongoing, and attempts to get private renewable power plants feeding into the grid were stalled due to state-aligned vested interests. By February, all that has changed, writes Leonie Joubert.
Just as COP23 was getting underway, French minister Nicolas Hulot said France was not abandoning its goal of switching partly from nuclear to renewables, just postponing it. Craig Morris says more time won’t help: nuclear may keep the lights on for now, but the French remain in the dark about nuclear’s conflict with wind & solar.
What can be done when it is dark (no solar power) and there is no wind either, but power demand is high? German analysts took a look at the worst combination in recent history – from 2006 – and found a way to bridge the gap. But is it affordable? Craig Morris’ main takeaway: The Germans know the Energiewende’s weak spot, and they have modeled it, modeled it, modeled it.
In the US, a debate on “deep decarbonization” is raging: going nearly zero-carbon in energy supply. Journalist David Roberts says we will need “dispatchable” nuclear. Via Twitter, he told readers that, to refute his argument, people need to move beyond their anti-nuke rant and show that we won’t need “dispatchable nuclear.” Craig Morris has a different take: Roberts needs to define “dispatchable.”
Over the long weekend of April 30 to May 1 (International Labor Day), low power demand joined forces with strong wind and solar power production. As a result, coal power in Germany hit a record low. But by focusing on coal, we might be missing the big story: the country’s nuclear fleet may have ramped more than any in history.
Yet again, an expert – this time, a German – says Germany’s energy transition cannot succeed. He has a surprising insight for Energiewende proponents: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. How could we have missed that? Craig Morris takes a look.
“The duck has landed,” writes California-based energy expert Meredith Fowlie about renewables pushing demand for conventional power at midday below the overnight level. But what Californians call a technical limit is, in reality, a political one, as Craig Morris’s comparison with Germany reveals.
“Texas and California have too much renewable energy,” writes Technology Review this month. “California has too much solar power,” Vox.com chimes in. Nonsense, says Craig Morris, a political arrangement is being passed off as a technical issue. Stop protecting nuclear and coal; get rid of baseload.
The Swiss and Danish electricity sectors have quite a bit in common. Both are flooded with electricity from all sides. Yet, their power mixes are very different. The Danes have mainly wind and coal; the Swiss, primarily nuclear and hydro. The power lines were mainly built for coal and nuclear. Craig Morris takes a look.
Traditionally, power production has followed demand. Due to the growth of renewable power production, it is increasingly becoming lucrative to actively manage demand to profit from fluctuating power prices. Benjamin Bayer reports about first experiences with demand response in the US and explains how the regulatory framework needs to change in Germany.