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Sunday, September 14, 2008
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September 8, 2008
An electrical engineer friend pointed me to the study of the impact of wind power done by GE for ERCOT.
The most recent version I've found so far is 3/21/08 "Final Report_draft for review" in the ZIPfile linked from the bottom of the body of this page:
There are problems with using wind power to feed the grid, beyond those of it needing lots of transmission facilities to collect power from geographically dispersed generators.
Wind power cannot be "dispatched" like other methods of generation -- you cannot bring more wind power online on short notice, when you find you need more. Rather, wind-generated electricity behaves like a *negative*load*: it varies both randomly and systematically, and the systematic variation is highly correlated with weather.
The bad news is that wind power tends to be *negatively* correlated with demand: for example, in the summer, wind generator output tends to be greatest at night, when demand is lightest, and to be least in the afternoon, when the demand for power for air conditioning is heaviest. This might not be as much an issue, if we move to a system in which there's lots of *demand* that can be dispatched. For example, we might some day have zillions of battery-powered cars that can be recharged overnight under control of the grid dispatching authority.
The other bad news is that the structure of the correlation between wind power availability and demand is such that putting more wind power on the grid makes the ramp-ups and ramp-downs in net demand (i.e. demand minus wind power) *steeper* than they would be *without* wind power. That means that, if you put lots of wind power on the grid, you also need to put lots of generation that is rapidly dispatchable, to handle the steeper ramps.
This has implications for the Pickens Plan, which claims it will replace natural-gas-fueled generators on the grid with windmills, so we can divert the natural gas to transportation. It turns out that, until we get some better electricity-storage tech, natural-gas-fueled generators are the best rapidly-dispatchable generators. So we might need *more* natural-gas generator *capacity* on the grid, not less.
The ERCOT study does, however, find that putting more wind on the grid *would* decrease natural gas consumption: there would be more generators, but they would be less often used. Of course, that increases the capital cost of the whole system, just like building more transmission capacity does.
There's one final gotcha: the natural-gas-fueled generators whose outputs can ramp up quickly, making them suitable for grid regulation, are *not* the most-efficient "combined cycle" generators, but the less efficient pure-gas-turbine generators.
I don't know whether Pickens has cranked the numbers for the whole national grid; the ERCOT study covers only part of Texas. I saw him give Congressional testimony in which he seemed to be pretty much blowing off the issue of grid regulation as somebody else's problem: his expertise, he said, is in geology, not electrical engineering. Pickens said he was confident that private capital would be available to finance the building of the additional transmission facilities his plan needs, *if* Congress passes the new laws needed to keep environmentalist challenges from making it impossible to predict construction costs, but my impression is that he *personally* is investing only in windmills and in new oil and gas wells.
"The goal of the participants should be to design an explosive with a militarily significant yield."
-- Roland Dobbins
Much of the talk about wind power (and many of the readers' contributions to your site) have been about the practical problems in using it. Does wind power present practical challenges in application? Yes? Is that a reason not to use it? Maybe in the energy market right now, but ultimately, no.
All power that we can generate with present or foreseeable technologies, is, just like wind power, ultimately solar power. Oil is just delayed solar power. Nuclear fission is solar power too -- via supernova, something we can't cause to happen just because we're running out of uranium someday. Fusion might theoretically be the one exception, but that presupposes that we can technically reproduce phenomena that to our knowledge have only ever happened deep in a star's gravity well. (I'm not holding my breath.)
So it seems to me that the question isn't whether or not we should be using wind power, but how to best leverage it, and all other forms of solar power that don't have an end date (like oil and even nuclear fission) stamped on them.
Come now. The details matter. Wind has its uses, and the Danes are doing everything they can with it. It's a question of economics and those change with where you collect the power and where you need it.
As to alternatives, there are breeder reactors and space (including lunar) solar power.
Soldier denied lodging at hotel:
A Kent teenager was threatened with an £80 fine for putting up lost cat posters:
Wind turbines are not the solution:
The UK is the only G8 nation now expected to go into recession (6 months of negative growth). The boom during the Blair years was built on three things: international business expansion based on London, a housing bubble, and Labour's free spending. The first has now been shut down by recent changes in the UK tax law, the housing bubble was a typical bubble, and Labour ran out of money to spend:
Telegraph story <http://tinyurl.com/55slgj> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7599402.stm>
Soak the rich a bit more:
Financial Times story <http://tinyurl.com/6ddoy5>
Environmental rules could be causing plane crashes:
FUBARs help, too:
London Times story <http://tinyurl.com/59jefw>
Educational reforms anything but:
Arguments on topping up medical care:
Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
"This is socialism for the rich."
- Roland Dobbins
September 9, 2008
Windmills have the cardinal advantage that they very publicly show that the government is doing something. Quibbles about base load, line losses in getting the power to the grid, and other technical arcana only influence a very small section of the electorate. One place where windmills could be used to advantage is as a supplement to existing pumped storage hydro-electricity schemes. The grid is already there for direct output and the power line between the high storage lake where the windmill would be and the bottom of the dam is short when the power is used to replenish the lake. By switching pumps in and out a wide range of wind speeds could be exploited. Last but not least, the storage lake would be a useful buffer between times of supply and times of demand.
Such schemes would only make a tiny contribution to our energy needs but absent some astonishing development like room temperature superconductors or a storage battery with comparable power to weight to petrol, all we can hope for is lots and lots of tiny improvements.
Rod Montgomery writes: "The bad news is that wind power tends to be *negatively* correlated with demand: for example, in the summer, wind generator output tends to be greatest at night, when demand is lightest, and to be least in the afternoon, when the demand for power for air conditioning is heaviest. This might not be as much an issue, if we move to a system in which there's lots of *demand* that can be dispatched. For example, we might some day have zillions of battery-powered cars that can be recharged overnight under control of the grid dispatching authority."
You could do much the same thing with an internet-driven "load shedding" plan. Let's hypothetically divide all electricity use into, say, five - pr five hundred - categories. Hospitals and critical infrastructure, Cat 1. Residences, Cat 2. Industry, Cat 3. Less critical industry, Cat 4, and lob everything that isn't especially time-sensitive into Cat 5. Devise some simple internet-connected devices that will accept a shut-off command and program each device with a random-number generator and the category. When the wind blows, there's lots of power and all Cat5 devices are enabled. When the wind fades, the control grid (here in California, it could be CalISO, the "Independent System Operator" in Folsom, CA) generates enough random numbers to shut off enough Cat5 devices to balance the supply. As the wind continues to fade, the grid operator shuts down more and more of the non-critical electrical load to keep the supply and the load in balance.
Let me give you an example. I'd be upset if my computers and internet connection went down; I consider my internet connection to be Cat2. I'd rather have the chest freezer, a Cat5 device, turned off. (The freezer will stay frozen for several hours without power.) With this sort of net-based system, I can make these sorts of value judgments myself in cooperation with my neighbors around the country. A friend of mine named Tom Tamarkin actually designed and builds utility meters designed to be remotely controlled either for load-shedding or for time-of-use metering. (His web site, if anyone is interested, is at http://www.usclcorp.com. )
Add irregular wind power to a net-based control system and you could shut down - or throttle back - your natural gas powered "peaker" plants and perhaps even some oil-fired power plants, too.
--- Ken Mitchell
Pumped storage is environmentally awful most of the time. It creates a lake useful for very little (the level changes constantly, and the fish get shredded in turbines) but it certainly is efficient. The Continental US stretches over four time zones. That's enough to allow some averaging, but peak loads happen in summer daytimes, and in many places the wind comes up at night.
I don't pretend to be an expert here; but it's clear that the devil is in the details.
Jerry, as usual your brain is quite sharp ... best wishes for a continued recovery.
Wind energy needs to be stored - all forms of storage involve efficiency losses, but hey ... the wind is free right? Store an appropriate percent in a battery or a flywheel or pump water uphill and let it run back downhill and turn the turbines when the wind isn't blowing.
WIND ENERGY, SCIENCE, BATTERIES, etc.
As is typical in engineering ... multiple "discoveries" and issues seem to be converging all at the same time.
Wind turbines (depend on carbon fiber, invented for the Manhattan project) Better batteries (battery technology has been driven by small consumer electronics) Ultra High Price Oil (China makes the electronics which gives them enough money to buy cars which require petrol ... increasing demand in a market with limited supply) Electric cars - everybody wants one if they are cheaper to operate
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/27/denmark_agassi_ev/ ... exerpts below ...
Denmark has become the second country to sign up to Shai Agassi's ambitious plan to wean the world off petrol-driven transportation, with the announcement of a deal between Agassi's Project Better Place and Danish utility Dong Energy. As with the Israeli deal announced in January, <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/22/israel_electric_car_project/> the latest venture will involve mass production of electric vehicles and the rollout of an extensive recharging and battery swap infrastructure.
Aside from powering cars, the Danish infrastructure is also intended to act as storage capacity for the country's wind power generation capability. On average around 20 per cent of Denmark's electricity comes from wind, but this can be substantially higher or lower, depending on conditions, meaning there's a need to sell off surplus power to neighbouring countries, and to maintain a substantial standby capacity to fill the gap when the wind is low. Two million electric cars in circulation, however, would give provide a standby capacity around five times the size of Denmark's needs, says Agassi. This he says is being designed into the infrastructure from the start, with smart charging systems charging batteries when the power's plentiful, and even feeding power back into the grid when necessary.
== Jim Coffey
Directly related to my previous thoughts today......
Unfortunately, I hear now that we will punish the Russians by pulling out of talks to work with them vis-a-vis nuclear technology, yet we have sold high technology to the Chinese. The Russians don't need help building nuclear weapons, yet they are interested in seeking help in the civilian field. I heard the aforementioned on the radio so unfortunately, I don't have a link to give you. It just doesn't seem logical.
And, as I type, I hear the Russians again threaten to help Iran's nuclear program. I would surmise that this means increase assistance when they were reluctant to help too much before.
Just as I see something that makes sense with India, it seems we pull another dumb one with the Russians. As I said before, I hope behind the scenes, a little more realpolitik is occurring.
So do I.
Some big doings here in my opinion, but will our government have the vision to do the right thing?
Bush to Press Nuclear Deal With India
Nuclear industry revival in the U.S.? We can only hope!
I would suggest that opening up India economically makes perfect sense. Also consider now that Musharref is gone, does India become a more viable ally strategically? And, consider the strategic implications vis-a-vis warming relations with India as Indian-Chinese relations cool.
China state paper lashes India-U.S. nuclear deal
Is the deal worth the fallout?
I'm not seeing the downside here at least compared to the upside. I'm sure I'm missing something unfortunately.
I truly wish people could realize the upside of a revival of the industry. Building and support for the industry at home, exporting our nuclear expertise again, what an upside.
Inferno and Escape from Hell
Just wanted to drop a quick note and say thanks for putting Inferno out in a Kindle edition. I bought it yesterday and am eagerly awaiting Escape from Hell. I started a thread in the Kindle forum to let fellow Kindlers know about the release:
Hawking bets against the LHC finding the Higgs
Hawking hopes the experiment at the LHC will not produced the expected result. The tone of the article gives me the sense that Hawking wants the universe to remain mysterious to the physicists.
I hope Hawking is right.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
<http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080909150154.yzfml9cn&show_arti cle=1> "...."The LHC will increase the energy at which we can study particle interactions by a factor of four. According to present thinking, this should be enough to discover the Higgs particle," Hawking told BBC radio....
"....I think it will be much more exciting if we don't find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of 100 dollars that we won't find the Higgs," added Hawking...."
....Whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe," he added...."
Well, according to a German chemist it won't matter since they will create a Quasar in the center of the Earth, and in a few years we'll see light beams coming out of the oceans, after which we are all doomed.
I take consolation that Europe is even crazier than the U.S. For now.
At about that time I told Newt Gingrich that the Head Start program specifically forbids teaching reading to kids as a Head Start. He tried to get something done, but the DOE people and others kept everything in a state of confusion. The Act states "developmentally appropriate" and the Educrats have decreed that reading instruction is not educationally appropriate, but the act itself does not forbid reading instruction.
No study has been able to show any difference between Head Start kids and kids who didn't get Head Start; in other words, all those efforts to overcome developmental problems have been a waste. It is still my opinion that if you taught kids to read they'd have a real head start. The education establishment hates that thought because it would show their incompetence at teaching reading: that is, some would actually teach the kids to read because teachers really wish they could do that and some would stumble across programs like my wife's reading program that actually work. So you will never see the educrats allowing any kind of intensive reading instruction for poor kids.
No doubt Obama gets his information from education professionals and has no real reason to doubt that what they tell him is the absolute truth.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
Steve Jobs settles stock options lawsuits
Evidently Apple's settled the stock option lawsuits (alleging that the backdating hurt investors).
The telling point though it is this:
"The $14 million resolution, revealed in court documents obtained by The National Law Journal, will also see the officers pay $7.3 million in attorney fees, $300,000 to plaintiffs in the federal actions, as well as $1.2 million in attorney fees and $50,000 to plaintiffs in state actions."
Let's see: $9.2M to the lawyers and $350K to the plaintiffs. And this is after they were cleared of wrongdoing!
I only have two words: Tort Reform.
Shakespeare had it right.
Yes but it will never happen short of a military takeover, and even then probably not. The Democratic Party is owned in fee simple by the trial lawyers; the Republicans keep hoping they can be bought so they don't do anything when they have a chance to do so.
And in most cases what the plaintiffs get is worthless coupons. The lawyers get cash.
September 11, 2008
"I think I've mentioned it here before, one of my favorite novels is Niven and Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer, which is the finest example of apocalyptic fiction. I first read it when I was in my teens and if you've read it, you know why this case made me think of the book's San Joaquin Nuclear Project. Civilization, represented by the people who literally keep the lights on, is confronted by a vast and relentless (not to mention cannibalistic) horde led by a charismatic preacher of a false religion. The book was published in 1977. Those guys are geniuses."
I thought you'd enjoy that paragraph, the last in the article, which illustrates part of the British version of Heinlein's Crazy Years.
September 12, 2008
You probably already know about this, but it's interesting to see and read.
The Internet has changed much of that, of course. But last time I visited Robert and Ginny a few weeks before his death they had a large box which Ginny much regretted: it was labeled "unopened mail." And of course Robert was well aware that Lovecraft starved while answering fan mail...
I've thought to reproducing Robert's FAQ with some revisions, but the mail here serves much the same purpose, and of course almost all the mail I get now is electronic.
The subscriptions make it worth while answering and commenting on mail. If they stop I'll have to stop.
In case you hadn't seen this:
September 10, 2008
Consensus on Global Cooling
Randall Hoven The latest Old Farmer's Almanac predicts
Based on the same time-honored, complex calculations it uses to predict weather, the Almanac hits the newsstands on Tuesday saying a study of solar activity and corresponding records on ocean temperatures and climate point to a cooler, not warmer, climate, for perhaps the next half century.
"We at the Almanac are among those who believe that sunspot cycles and their effects on oceans correlate with climate changes," writes meteorologist and climatologist Joseph D'Aleo. "Studying these and other factor suggests that cold, not warm, climate may be our future."
These predictions match those of Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin
The latest data, obtained by Habibullah Abdusamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory space research laboratory, say that Earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012. Real cold will come when solar activity reaches its minimum, by 2041, and will last for 50-60 years or even longer.
I think we can now say there is a consensus for Global Cooling. Although we can count on the deniers to persist in their Chicken Little ways.
My own view is simple: I am far more afraid of Global Cooling and Ice than I am of Global Warming and rising sea levels. I am not certain that we know which is our fate, but I do know I'd rather have higher seas and longer growing seasons than a kilometer of ice.
Incidentally, it went from deciduous trees to a a foot of ice in a couple of years, and to a kilometer of ice in under a hundred years. That's scary.
Subject: Politicians and private schools
"As usual, Bruce Fuller and Lance Izumi , my fellow Education Watch contributors, make some fascinating points, none more startling to me than Lance's casual throw-away that Barack Obama sends his children to private school. As a rabid public school Democrat, I crumpled in despair at the news."
You've noted this trend in education before. The writer notes that Biden and McCain's kids also went to private schools. Palin's kids went to a public school, Iditarod Elementary.
"The school's score on www.greatschools.net is a 4. That's a lot of street cred, for a gun-totin', snow-mobilin' creationist-lovin' lady."
It may be that Alaska has decent public schools. I certainly never sent my children to public schools.
Education bankrupts the middle class with taxes, then presents them with awful schools. See Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.
That *chuff* of air you felt yesterday was the government increasing in size, potentially by a great amount.
I wonder if the new copyright cops will get tanks and guns or will be a part of DHS so they can make warrantless house intrusions and take equipment before evidence is destroyed. It’s all perfectly logical how they would NEED certain military style hardware and no-knock entry authority to do their job, right? After all, their JOB will absolutely require unannounced home intrusion, just like you’d expect against violent criminals, gang hideouts, and drug labs.
Hell, if these guys show up *without* SWAT style tactics, they might reasonably expect to get shot by homeowners objecting to people busting into their houses to steal their computers.
Who is it?
Copyright cops. Let us in and we’re going to take your stereo, all your CDs, all your computers, and all storage media in the house, both analog and digital. Trust us, we’re from the government, and we’re coming in whether or not you give us permission since if we wait until you get warrant confirmation, you might have erased all evidence.
Gunfire follows as homeowner defends property from intruders without proof of law enforcement status
The obvious solution is to give the cops a tank and disarm the homeowner…
We sow the wind.
Lifting a toast to your continued recovery.
This is a youtube presentation of the Clovis Comet discussion at the Pecos Archeological Conference, held August 8, 2008, presented in ten ~10 minute segments.
"The Younger Dryas Impact Event, postulated here by researchers Ted Bunch, Richard Firestone and Ken Tankersley, may have led to the extinction of large mammals, such as mammoths, saber tooth cats, and 33 other species of large mammal 12,900 in the past. Perhaps more disturbing is the effect the event had on the first inhibitants of America, the so-called Clovis people. The Clovis culture disappears at the same time the animals do. This short excerpt provides some background on this cosmic incident and the evidence supporting it."
At today’s MSNBC page:
Space solar power proven possible by experiment.
No surprise; we've known it was possible since the Goldstone experiments a long time ago.
September 13, 2008
I had appointments and then we went to the Opera.
|This week:||Sunday, September
RE: Space Power and Duesburg.
Perhaps I could suggest another of Pournelles' Iron Laws? Hang around long enough and you'll be proved right. Alternate, and all your dreams will start to come to pass?
Small, but a start? I don't know, your call.
I would like to think that a remarkable scientist like Duesburg may at last be able to opine on such matters again?
From small beginnings.....
Subject: Wind Storage
Jerry; I have a solution for the unevenness of wind power! <http://mail.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/tsmileys2/11.gif>
Underneath every wind farm build a large circular frictionless tunnel. With suitably placed and directed surface scoops, build up a VHVW (Very High Velocity Wind) in the tunnel. When the surface wind drops, open suitably directed outlets to drive the wind vanes. All fixed! <http://mail.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/tsmileys2/04.gif>
Brian Hall Master of the Impossible
I will forward that to the Journal of Irreproducible Results...
How I shot down VisiCalc.
- Roland Dobbins
An interesting account of computation in the 50's and 60's. I also lived through that era, and developed a number of FORTRAN model of global conflict as well as working with the Freidan Calculator. We could get sums of squares with the Freidan, and you needed that for statistical analysis and reliability predictions.
--- Roland Dobbins
I could do without the music, and I think a good Power Point presentation would be more effective, but there is some vary good data in this.
Subject: Some Thoughts On the Sept 8th Column
What Leo Laport was saying about Vista being better for workgroup networking was just that. For workgroups, not domain controller connected machines.
I still think you would be far better off making a new server with Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 than Windows Server 2008 but I'm tired of trying. And with Small Business Server 2008 coming out in November SBS 2003 won't be available much longer.
In regards to only worrying about educating the top 10% of students I can't in good conscience agree with that. Do we want to live in an elitist society where only 10% of kids go to school ? You might as well just execute the rest. There have been many many times in history where someone who was thought to be stupid has gone on to do something great. I know that there are many kids who are never going to be educated but I can't believe that it's 90%.
I have never in my life said that 90% of the population ought not go to school, and I have often said that the point of education is to teach people to do things they will actually be doing. We already live in an elitist society in wihch the ruling class does not send its children to the schools that are supported with enormous amounts of money -- about half the California budget goes into schools, and California taxes are high enough to be quite onerous. The highest California income tax bracket kicks in at $45,000 a year, and the California income tax is among the highest in the nation. Few California politicians send their children to the public schools they ruin the middle class to pay for.
As to University education, why should taxpayers be hounded to pay for an IQ 95 kid to go to a university class in sociology (he certainly won't be in engineering. Education major, perhaps?)
We are now going to require a passing grade in Algebra for a high school diploma. That will help keep the low IQ kids out of college (except that as the numbers in colleges fall the colleges will find ways around this requirement) but does it do much for the high school student who knows he will never pass Algebra?
Speculations on numbers are pointless anyway: the proper thing to do is set entrance examinations and pass levels, and allow anyone to take the exam. Then provide a curriculum for training to pass that exam, but also have a curriculum available for those who don't intend to take the exam but still have to make a living. As to shooting them, why in the world would I do that? But if we don't teach them anything other than Algebra and other college prep stuff, what are they likely to do other than ask if you want fries with that?
Nor is this just speculation. We used to have high schools that taught a lot of non-college-prep subjects. But that was in another country. We have forgotten that we used to do that.
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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