Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas, NY - Hope You Like Low Wind Speed Turbines

Introduction
What do you give to a U.S. State for a holiday present? How about a new high speed train line or two, a decent sized array of tidal turbines for Long Island Sound, or maybe factories that make products that are useful and in demand and which replace foreign imports? Or, if you don't like that state, perhaps a lump of coal in the form of a new nuclear reactor (which has to be paid for by the residents of the state)? Or maybe even more mass unemployment on top of the really bad unemployment that we already have in NY? Or maybe two lumps of coal in the form of even more grabs for the money made in NY by those numerous welfare queen red states which somehow get more money spent in them by the Federal government than is taken out in taxes, while NY State bleeds out at least $20 billion/yr to those "Red (welfare) Queen" states like Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Alaska?

But, ever since George Bu$h got selected as President, "mean" has been the main refrain by much of America (the "Heartland", like we have no cardiac activity in NY State) towards NY's people, as well as by a lot of NY Republicans and wealthier types towards the vast majority of NY's less wealthy citizens. No doubt in some cases this ire and resentment may be deserved (Carl Paladino, Pedro Espada, Hiram Monsarate, Joe Bruno... actually, it could be a pretty long list). But it seems like NY State in general and the vast majority of its people in particular just can't catch a break, especially with things like falling median real income and a rising real cost of living for most people (oil, college education, health care and food prices), even though most of those items do not count towards the "overall cost of living". We've even been told we have wimpy renewable energy resources, and that to maintain energy supplies we need to invest in other places (the Canadian Maritimes provinces, Quebec, the U.S. Great Plains States) to get our renewable, non-polluting electricity and/or have NY installed nukes (16 new ones according to one of the NY Climate Plan options) for "homegrown" electricity. The proverbial "River of Slime" (Ghostbusters 2 - http://ghostbusters.wikia.com/wiki/Psychomagnotheric_Slime), a stream of "negative energy" that feeds off of the misery of many and in turn increases their susceptibility to do bad things/think bad thoughts (autocatalytic evil) just never seems to end...

So, here's a discussion of a very positive trend - something with the capacity to make NY a much nicer place. Like provide us with jobs, homegrown renewable energy at affordable prices, and a way to avoid the massive export of money for energy imports to NY (from other states, from other countries). This can be done with/via Low Wind Speed (wind) Turbines (alias LWST), which have only recently been commercialized, and are now sold by two companies in the U.S. (and made by one of them in the U.S.) - Vestas (made in Colorado) and RE Power. There will be other companies joining in on the fun (= major market opportunity) in the very near future, and a few shades of them (very low speed, low speed, medium low speed, medium speed) that can be tailored to a given wind resource will be marketed and sold in large quantities throughout much of the western world (Europe, USA).

And while these LWST may not drop the cost to produce pollution-less electricity, they vastly increase the area of land on which electricity can be made at reasonable costs - especially in places like NY State. For some fast wind states like Nebraska and Minnesota, LWST are largely irrelevant, since there is so much fast wind speed land area that can vastly over-produce electricity for such states. And while exports of some of that electricity can be done (on "wind plantations"), it turns out that by the time that Great Plains electricity is delivered to markets where people live, it is probably cheaper just to make most of that electricity near where it would be consumed using LWST units. It certainly makes more economic sense to make, install and operate those LWST in more populated, low wind speed regions - at least for the people living in those regions. After all, local manufacturing, local service jobs land lease payments, local property taxes/PILOT payments and local grid improvements (more manufacturing and construction jobs, etc). But whether economic sense will prevail is another matter altogether.

So, cheer up, NY, if only until the Republican's take over control of the U.S. House of Representatives in early January of 2011. The LWST phenomena is about to hit our state/the NE part of the U.S., and there is a lot of potential to do good by ourselves, and our planet. It's sort of like a Christmas (or choose your religious/lack of religious happy day) present for NY State. And given recent events and recent trends, it's about time something nice happened around here.

Discussion
The secret behind a LWST versus a "regular" or or a high wind speed turbine is really not all that mysterious. In order to tap faster winds at any given site, one way to do this is to increase the height above the ground where the winds are tapped (i.e use a taller tower). Similarly, to obtain a larger quantity of energy from a given wind speed (i.e. from a specified site and height), the best way to do this is to increase the size of the rotor blade (which is the same as increasing the swept rotor area) for a given generator size. A bigger blade and taller tower also go together very nicely, since wind speeds near the ground (as encountered by a blade at the bottom part of its rotation) are both more turbulent and slower than those at the top part of the rotor circle. To complete the picture, the wind turbine is customized for low to moderate wind speeds, and set to ignore some wind speeds which are more common at high wind speed locations (i.e. have a wind speed cut-off of 20 m/s instead of 25 to 30 m/s). Once this is done, the manufacturer has to figure out how to manufacture this system at a reasonable price. A LWST will cost more to buy and install than a Medium Wind Speed Turbine (MWST) for a given rated capacity, and in turn a MWST will cost more than a High Wind Speed Turbine (HWST) for a given capacity, but the cost of the product of these turbines (the electricity) can actually be lower for the higher cost unit - it all depends on the available wind resource.

Math-wise, the power extractable by a wind turbine is proportional to the cube of the wind speed, the square of the rotor diameter and the wind speed increases logarithmically with the height. A big blade on a short tower will spend a lot of its time in low power regions of the "rotor circle", which is also not good for power and energy production. But a big blade that is mostly exposed to a faster wind is good for power production. This is why LWST units tend to use taller towers than corresponding fast or medium wind speed turbines.

Because the power in moving wind rises so steeply with the increase in wind speed, wind turbines tend to be less efficient at capturing energy as the wind speed goes past some value (depends on the turbine model), and when winds are too fast, the units go into a stop mode, with the rotor blades pitched so that they don't move. For most commercial units, the cut-off speed is near 25 m/s, though for LWST units it is near 20 m/s. The ratio of the cut-out speed (between 20 to 25 m/s) and the cut-out speed speed (3 to 4 m/s) is between 6.67 to 6.25, but the ratio in power tapped (at cut-out speed to cut-in speed) is between 296 and 244 to 1. In general, really fast wind speeds don't happen that often, especially in low wind speed regions. If turbines did not "shed" efficiency as wind speeds get faster past some optimal point or have a cut-out speed, those rare but quantifiable high wind speed events would tear the unit to pieces.

For example, consider a location like the Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota - one of the windier places in the U.S., with wind speeds 60 meters above the ground often averaging 8.5 meters/second (m/s). Then consider SUNY Buffalo's Amherst campus, where wind speeds at 60 meters above the ground average 5.8 m/s. A fast wind speed turbine like GE's 1.5 MW unit with 70 meter rotor diameter and a 60 meter tower could easily get an average power output of 40% to 45% of rated capacity on those Lakota lands, but that same turbine would be hard-pressed to get 20% of rated output at the SUNY Buffalo Amherst Reservation. But, put a turbine designed for the slower winds (like the SUNY Buffalo Amherst Reservation), and such a unit could average nearly 30% to 35% of its rated output.

In the 2010 US wind Map, estimates were made of the available wind power that could be expected to be produced for each state - NY's can be found in this graph: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/images/windmaps/ny_wind_potential_chart.jpg. Note: some of the raw numbers for some wind speeds can be seen in tabular form at http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/wind_maps/wind_potential.pdf. This graph allows one to estimate the installed wind turbine capacity for NY at a given net output for a standard wind turbine model, which approximates a GE 1.5 MW x 77 (1.5 sl model) meter rotor diameter unit (now the most popular one in the U.S., or at least the model most often installed in the U.S.). For example, at a 25% capacity rating, 67 GW worth of wind turbines (or about 45,000 of them) could theoretically be installed on 80 meter towers and still meet the criteria used in this wind model (lots of them, see http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/wind_maps/wind_potential.pdf). The average output would be about 16,750 MW, or about the same as NY's present average electrical usage (about 16 GW = 16,000 MW). At a 100 meter tower height, NY's installed capacity would be about 113 GW, equal to about 34 GW on a delivered basis, or about twice NY's non-hydroelectric average demand.

In Figure 1, this curve is numerically simulated, but with the range extended down to the 20% net output level (commonly used in Germany, very rare in the U.S., as we have vastly superior wind resources, more land and cheaper electricity prices, which means that low wind speed sites are rarely used to make wind derived electricity). NOTE - this is just a math projection of the existing data points, and probably can't be extended too much further. This extrapolation corresponds to an estimate of between 21% (80 m height) to 29% (100 m height) of NY's land area available for a minimum allowable 20% (MWST) wind turbine net output or more.

Figure 1

As can be seen, there is a considerable difference in the delivered output (= wind turbine capacity multiplied by the % net output) at the 25% net output levels for a GE 1.5 sl wind turbine. Just by using towers that are 20 meters taller, the rated capacity increases from 67,000 MW (67 GW) to 113 GW, and the average delivered power output would increase from about 16 GW (present average NY consumption level) to nearly 34 GW.

In Figure 2, the use of a wind turbine more attuned to lower wind speeds is shown (in this case, a Vestas V100 x 1.8 MW unit (100 meter rotor diameter) is compared to the GE 1.5 sl unit. Due to the larger size of these turbines, they cannot be placed as close together as the smaller GE units (77 meter rotor diameters). As can be seen, the LWST achieves a higher percentage use at a given wind speed, notably at the lower wind speeds, or the same net output but at lower wind speeds. And since the rated capacity of the V100 unit is 1.2 times greater than that of the GE unit, much lower wind speeds can result in the same average power output. (Note: the V100 comes with an option of an 80, 95 or 119 meter tall tower; the wind speeds at 95 meters are very similar to those at 100 meters above the ground).

Figure 2

The wind speed/percent capacity relationship of a normal turbine (GE 1.5sl in this example) vs. a LWST unit (the V100 in this case) is shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3


The LWST option allows the use of much more potential area in NY to economically generate electricity. For example, the GE units, if 100 meter tower heights were generally used, could be used at net output levels of 25% or more across 9.2% of NY, where average wind speeds are at least 6.1 m/s at a 100 meter height (about 75,00 potential sites). Average wind speeds required to produce a 25% net output with the Vestas V100 are only 5.3 m/s. And while this does not sound like much of a change (only a 15% change), this LWST could provide a 25% net output using wind speeds with only 67% of the power as comparable ones would be for the GE 1.5 sl turbines.

In the 2010 US Wind Map, the estimated wind power density was given as 5 MW of wind turbine capacity per square kilometer (km^2), and this holds regardless of the size/rated capacity of the unit, assuming a roughly similar rotor size to generator capacity. This correction factor for the Vesas V100 and the GE 1.5sl units needs to be kept in mind (0.77).

When the wind turbine capacity is converted to usable land area, the following relationship for the GE unit can be seen (Figure 4). This also allows the wind speed versus allowable land area relationship to be estimated without the proprietary GIS data used for the 2010 US Wind Map.

Figure 4

The estimated usable area listed for the US Wind Map for NY was 22,587 km^2 at a 25% capacity, and 11,610 km^2 at a 30% rated output. Estimating this down to the 20% rated output level (with hub height wind speeds at 100 meters averaging 5.64 m/s) gives a value of 34,671 km^2 of usable land surface, or about 29% of NY State land. Note: this also includes provisions to exclude parkland, steep slopes and many urban areas. And it also does not mean that turbines would be placed at a density of 5 MW capacity per km^2 on all 34,671 km^2 (about 13,543 square miles).

Using these areas (29% of NY State) as potential places for commercial scale wind turbines but using LWST units instead of medium wind speed turbines, the following relationship develops:

Figure 5

As can be seen, LWST units have much higher net outputs at the low wind speeds that much of NY's usable lands have as a wind resource. As a result, there is more potential for electrical energy production using LWST, and this is shown in Figure 6:

Figure 6

(Note: dots are in the "middle" of "wind bins"; numbers correspond to minimum wind speed for that "wind bin" corresponding to 2.5% of net wind turbine output).

It turns out that using the GE turbines with 100 m tall towers and at average wind speeds of 5.64 m/s (20% net output) would provide a potential of 47.1 GW of electricity on a delivered basis. Since NY has an average need for 13 GW of non-hydro power (plus 3 GW of hydro/biomass), there is plenty of potential to replace all of NY's pollution derived electricity (gas, oil, coal, nukes) just using these medium wind speed units, or roughly 3.6 times the present need. However, switching to LWST units, the NY State delivered electricity potential is 62.6 GW, or roughly 4.8 times the present need.

It also turns out that LWST are less expensive to operate when average wind speeds are less than 6.7 m/s, based on an installed cost for the GE unit of $3 million ($2 million/MW capacity) versus $4.5 million for the V100 ($2.5 million/MW capacity). This is shown in Figure 7:


Figure 7

While these cost numbers ($100/MW-hr = 10 c/kw-hr) may seem high, that is due to the "unsubsidized" term - where all tax avoidance and other incentives (such as NY's Renewable Portfolio (RPS) incentive) are NOT included. With the NY RPS, the subsidies for a V100 operating at a site with a 6.6 m/s average wind speed at hub height would amount to nearly $5 million ($200,000 more than the installed cost of the unit) during the initial 10 years of operation; over a 20 year period, these would average at least $250,000 annually (much more when the time value of money is included), or $41/MW-hr, dropping the needed break even electricity price to near $51/MW-hr. Obviously, a higher price would be needed to provide a reasonable profit to the owner, so required electricity prices of at least 6 c/kw-hr ($60/MW-hr) would be needed as long as these subsidies are maintained; without them, a price of near $100/MW-hr (10 c/kw-hr) would be needed.

The 10 c/kw-hr to 12.5 c/kw-hr unsubsidized price needed for LWST is actually much less than UNSUBSIDIZED costs of coal, oil, old nukes and most especially new nukes. As for natural gas sourced electricity (assuming the marginal price needed for new gas (about $10/MBtu) is employed), fuel prices equating to $83/MW-hr need to be added to CO2 pollution costs of about $35/MW-hr, resulting in a price of $118/MW-hr that represents a viable break even price. However, natural gas prices are presently averaging about $4.50/MBtu (well below the price needed to justify new exploration and production activity), and are notoriously fickle, and natural gas prices have become completely disconnected from oil prices on a thermal basis. And at present there is effectively no price paid for dumping CO2 pollution into our atmosphere. Trying to relate a long term electricity price to short term natural gas prices is just plain meaningless....

Conclusion
Of course, the electricity production capacity only has to be as large as electricity consumption (and this consumption term also includes the losses incurred by electrical energy storage via pumped hydroelectric systems, and other marginal energy storage systems). For land based systems, NY State only requires about 10 GW on a delivered basis for land-based wind turbines. When added to the existing 3 GW of hydroelectric/biomass, as well as the potential of 2 GW of tidal and anywhere from 2 to 10 GW offshore based turbines, all of NY's electricity could be supplied, in the aggregate, without CO2 or "rad-waste" pollution. Of these "new" renewable systems, the onshore wind turbines would be the lowest cost approach.

10 GW on a delivered basis of land based wind turbines is about 25 to 36 GW of rated capacity for LWST (depends where they are placed). This would be around 14,000 to 20,000 wind turbines of this variety, or about one turbine per two to one per three square miles. However, this would translate into large regions with no turbines and some regions of a more concentrated nature. For example, this could be arranged as 1600 square miles (3.4% of NY's land area) where the wind turbines are placed at 12.5 MW capacity per square mile (about 7 V100's per square mile).

And then there is the NY Climate Plan(s). Even at their most green form (and that is not much), only 1.85 GW (delivered basis) of wind derived electricity is planned. That is less than 5.5% of NY's "MWST" capacity (similar to the GE 1.5sl) where the 25% minimum capacity is employed, or less than 4% of the "20% or greater" MWST capacity. That (4% to 5.5%) is not exactly straining the capacity limits of NY using commonly implemented wind turbines - NY State has over 500 of the GE 1.5 sl units already operating.

But, the cowardly approach of NY's Climate Plans become even more evident when LWST units are examined. After all, 1.85 GW is only 3% of the 62.6+ GW (delivered basis) that could be made using LWST at costs vastly less than new nukes or PV systems, and at about 50% less than the cost of offshore wind units. A whole 3% of NY's on-land wind turbine capacity - whoopee!

One thing should be quite apparent with regards to those NY Climate Plans - they seriously did not even try to employ wind turbines to take the pollution (CO2 and nuclear waste) out of NY's generation capacity. Coming up with 10 GW on a delivered basis should be no problem at all - that would use only 16% of NY's windy lands, which are only 29% of NY's total land area (total of less than 5% on NY's land area would have a turbine in sight). And this would provide something like 1 million job-years of employment, much of which could be captured by NY with this $74 billion capital improvement to the state over a 20 year time frame. Those in charge of the Climate Plans just never bothered to go Green, sufficiently, at even a fraction of our state's capacity. Odds are they were overly concerned with keeping electricity prices low, in spite of the fact that any use of fossil fuels even a decade from now would be economically foolish, due to their high cost, as well as the FACT that predicting future prices is a poor crapshoot, at best, and a bad bet if the wrong assumptions (like there will be plentiful low priced fossil fuels available...).

And if you don't use it (the Green Energy Approach), well, you lose a major chance at economically revitalizing the state. Instead, the only significant source of income will be that which can be stolen from within the state and from outside the state by Banksters and their friends in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate businesses. And we probably only have one other massive fraud-fest similar to the mortgage mess of 2002-2008 before the rest of the world wises up and decides to go gamble at some other casino. So it would be nice if our leaders wise up.. Meanwhile, places like Quebec and Ontario will be "eating our proverbial lunch" as their systems allow wind turbine derived electricity to be priced at a level that justifies such investments.

But, sometimes our leaders can be our own worst enemies. And that would be unfortunate at the current time due to the fragility of our economy in the aftermath/continuation of the Great Recession of 2007-2010 and the official arrival (as announced by the International Energy Agency) of Peak Oil.

DB

Friday, December 17, 2010

Climate Plan Comparison - New York State vs. Denmark

Introduction
The preliminary NY State Climate Plan is out and available for public comment. It was a year in progress, with the "fully monty" coming in at 418 pages and is over a 17 MB download. It has lots of good graphics when needed to explain things. A sectional-ized link to it can be found here:
http://www.nyclimatechange.us/InterimReport.cfm. There is also a link where you can send comments on this document to the entity that is charged with producing a final document.

The recent Denmark Climate Plan can be seen here, and at 160 pages, it's an easier read than NY's tome:
http://energy.plan.aau.dk/IDAClimatePlan-files/BV_Mathiesen_UK_IDAs_Climate_Plan_2050_Background_Report.pdf

And there is also a "lighter" version on how wind power can provide energy and yet not destroy the climate control part of our ecosystem (56 pages):
http://www.e-pages.dk/energinet/126/fullpdf/full4d0b6ec69ea78.pdf

In particular, the NY Climate Plan document has some excellent sections concerning our present energy consumption patterns, facts of which most NY residents are probably largely ignorant. All three documents spell our the current problems associated with a fossil fuel dependent future, including all of that CO2 pollution currently emanated but without a proper disposal site. The defacto immediate disposal site is the "mixing layer" of the oceans - the surface of the ocean is getting saturated with CO2, measurably becoming more acidic (due to a lot the CO2 being absorbed/dissolved), and besides, it is a RATE issue. The rate at which CO2 is being dumped into the atmosphere is greater than the rate that it can be removed (mostly by dissolution into the top 100 meters of the oceans, and then the gradual diffusion of that into the depths) from the atmosphere. "Goes into the air" is greater than "goes outta the air" means net accumulation in the air, and that is why the rise in the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere is seen. See http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ - read it and weep, so to speak - November 2010's CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa is 388.59 ppm. The NY Plan even mentions Peak Oil, but not in a very realistic (i.e. the NY Plan is much too mild to propose anything significantly meaningful in the required time to deal with Peak Oil and related Peak Ngas) way. But hey, it's a start, and every journey begins with a first step, and a first step is a bit better than no step at all.

Unfortunately for us in NY, our plan is REALLY LAME compared to that of the Danes, even though we have so much more in the way of renewable energy resources. Of course, this may be a tragedy born of low expectations, but it is what it is. By 2050, Denmark has a plan of no use of fossil fuels - their energy supply will mostly come from wind turbines (~ 50%) and biomass (~ 50%), and no nukes will need to be employed to achieve this goal. NY's inadequate climate response may partly be explained by a strong desire to keep short term energy prices as low as possible - even if this spells long term disaster for NY State. It also may be an unwillingness to properly invest in the future - i.e. keep tax rates low for the wealthy and ultra-wealthy of NY, and also not to stimulate the industrial sector of our economy (that is where renewable energy systems get made) and instead to keep resources pouring into the "Vampire Squid" (see http://fdlbooksalon.com/2010/11/27/fdl-book-salon-welcomes-matt-taibbi-griftopia/) part of our economy - the financial sector. In the competition for investment funds within NY State, the gambling/fraud sectors (Wall Street financial speculation - or FIRE, alias Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) have won out in the last few decades versus the productive sector for a variety of reasons, and now the FIRE sector exercises dominant political control in NY State of both major political parties (Republican, Democratic). The inordinately large financial sector may also result in and result from a bifurcated income and wealth distribution - as increasing financialization results in a society composed of less of a middle class/more of a society with a small percentage of very rich and a large majority of increasingly poorer people - see http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/12/inequality-and-economic-collapses which references the mathematical proof of this concept in a 30 page paper (for those not math or graduate level economics savvy, just read the introduction and conclusion):
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2010/wp10268.pdf. And this just shows how complicated the energy and climate problems as well as solutions can be (also called "Wicked Problems"); for example, why would the wealthiest and most profitable section of NY's economy wish to relinquish any domination, even if this leads to a general improvement in the economy/well-being of MOST NY'ers? The answer is - the FIRE sector won't, and if this results in another perilous financial crash very harmful to most so that the few "main movers" in and owners of the FIRE sector get tremendously rich by these repeating economic crashes - so be it.

In contrast to the Danish plan, the NY Plan is, aside from lame, loaded up with nukes. Instead of a 100% replacement of CO2 pollution (fossil fuel burned for energy), the best of the 3 plans (in terms of CO2 pollution alleviation) only takes care of 80% of our CO2 pollution. And that one uses 16 new nukes, which would probably cost at least $320 billion even with the catastrophic insurance subsidy (Price Anderson Act, without which nukes would not be possible), and still also would be without a proper garbage disposal site for the high level nuke fuel rad-waste (and at close to 256 tons/yr of spent fuel rod rad-waste that nobody (except for those who want to make nuclear weaponry) wants), that should be interesting. Even more critical is that fact that there is no VIABLE way to achieve the extremely wimpy renewable energy goals of the NY plans.

Note: For $110 billion, you could completely replace all polluting electricity in NY State with 10 GW of onshore wind (delivered basis) of onshore and 3 GW of offshore (delivered basis) plus 5 GW of pumped hydroelectric on a delivered basis (which would consume an average of 5 GW and return 4 GW). And that assumes no economies of scale, no local manufacturing advantage, etc.. But more on that later.

Oh well, if you never try, odds are, success will elude you, and once again, defeat may be snatched from the jaws of victory. Maybe that is the unifying theme behind this year long effort undertaken in NY.....

Discussion
For those of you who don't know much about Denmark, it is a small country in Europe that sits on the north of Germany, where the Baltic Sea empties into the North Atlantic/North Sea (the bathtub of northern Europe). It has 5.5 million people and a population density of about 348 people per square mile on 16,640 square miles of land - only 1.6% is water surface, though it has a lot of coastline. The climate is a bit colder (due to the 55 degree latitude) than NY's and topographically speaking, it is a very flat place - no hills to speak of. Sort of like Long Island/New York City (NYC), when oceans rise due to melted Greenland ice sheets/glaciers, Denmark is going to be significantly screwed - and destined for either fish farm status, or else some massive dikes will need to be constructed to protect it from 2o ft higher average ocean levels resulting from "Global Meltdown" (an aspect of Global Warming). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark for more details on the country of Denmark.

NY State has a high population density ONLY because of the New York City (NYC) region (about 12 million people), but 19.5 million people are located on 47,213 sq miles of land (also with title to 7343 square miles of ocean and lake surface - about half ocean BTW). On a land basis, the population density is about 413 per square mile, but when the NYC region is removed, the average population density drops to less than 170 people per square mile. Most of upstate NY is sparsely populated, with many (more than half) counties averaging less than 50 people per square mile. However, NY State is mostly hilly, and since we are in the temperate rainforest climate, the combination of water and hills means no shortage of electrical energy storage potential. Denmark relies on agreements and arrangements with Norway, Sweden and Germany for short term electrical energy storage.

Land wise, both countries have similar wind resources, but the offshore wind resources of Denmark (west coast) are definitely better than NY's. But since we have over 7000 square miles of windy waters (Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Atlantic Ocean, some of Long Island Sound), NY's offshore wind resource is very significant. There is also a 2 GW tidal energy resource in Long Island Sound, which Denmark really does not have (wimpy tides in the Baltic Sea). Because NY is on average 10 to 15 degrees or more in latitude to the south of Denmark, we have better solar/agricultural potential. In addition, because of the high concentration of people in the NYC region and the extensive mass transit (much of it electrified) system in that area, NY is among the most fuel efficient and least polluting (via per capita CO2 pollution) states in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) is significantly under-invested in, and may be on the edge of financial oblivion, especially due to the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives/NY State Senate in the 2010 elections... About one fifth of NY State is forested and hilly/mountainous parks (Adirondack, Allegheny, Catskills). While Denmark is extensively farmed, much of NY's farmlands have been abandoned due to the collapse in dairy prices/other prices.

Denmark presently has the highest wind energy usage of any country; with the completion of the last two offshore wind farms, more than 26% (see http://www.ens.dk/en-us/info/factsandfigures/keyfigures/sider/danishkeyfigures.aspx) of the country's electricity is now supplied by wind on average. In fact, Denmark in 2010 now has half of the electrical production that is expected for 2050. Of the commercial scale wind turbines, most are community owned/owned by local residents, and this is a significant reason why most Danes are very pro-wind energy (that, and the huge number of jobs involved in making wind turbines and related components, mostly for export). Most wind turbines in Denmark are paid off or are close to being paid off, and ones paid off now provide amazingly inexpensive electricity (1 to 3 c/kw-hr for a paid off - alias no capital cost - wind turbine). These turbines range is size from ~ 1 kw to 1000 kw. Over half of the turbines are between 500 to 1000 kw in capacity. Denmark now has 868 MW of offshore units (out of 3730 MW), and almost all of these are relatively new and large in size (2 MW to 3.6 MW); in contrast, relatively few new large-scale units are located onshore. They register every operating unit in Denmark (see above link), and there are now 5036 of them operating. They range in size from 1 kw to 3600 kw, average size being 745 kw, and the median size (half smaller, half bigger) is 600 kw; wind turbines of that size have been largely commercially obsolete for close to a decade. Of course, while bigger and newer ones are more efficient, those are more costly, and smaller ones are easier to own with regards to scrapping together the money to buy/install them. Very few of onshore wind turbines are owned as part of large scale wind farms/wind "plantations" and owned by large companies. Even with significant incentives to "trade up", in general, only the very old very small (< 200 kw) units have been replaced with modern, large units (for example, replacing 40 x 150 kw units with a single 2 MW unit would result in greater annual energy output). In NY, almost all wind turbines are corporate owned, part of large scale arrays, and they are all less than 10 years old. The eventual goal in Denmark is to produce 50% of the country's electricity with wind turbines, and the rest via biomass/garbage/biogas. However, they might actually exceed the wind number; the latest offshore farm in the North Sea (Horns Rev 2, 209 MW)) has a listed capacity factor of 45%, due to the amazingly fast average wind speeds (more than 10 m/s on average) at that location. The Danes are firm believers in co-generation. They have pioneered the use of straw/hay as a biofuel, as well as community scale co-gen systems. Many of the presently natural gas fired systems will be converted to straw/hay as a feedstock by 2050. With respect to transportation fuels, the plan is to use more electric powered rail lines, and to convert to electric powered automobiles. They also plan to use some electrolysis based hydrogen to make liquid fuels (biomass plus H2, or H2 for fuel cells). Most liquid fuels would be used for farming, construction, shipping and trucking in the Danish Plans by 2050. With regards to wind turbines, Denmark has pioneered the use of Feed-In Laws that allow for a predictable and bank-finance-able installation that does not require tax avoidance subsidies, or other subsidies/grants. In addition, the large offshore wind arrays are usually financed via Power Purchase Agreement/bids which are also subsidy free. NY's three official plans all assume that the gravy train of relatively cheap and plentiful (plentiful keeps them cheap) fossil fuels will continue, despite the fact that so much of the state's income no longer comes from the "real" sector (mining, farming and manufacturing), and instead it relies on the presently high profit "unreal" sector (FIRE). How long the state, the country and the rest of the world will allow the value-less added fraud, theft and scamming that seems to be the highest profit parts of finance is unknown, but odds are, there is a limit, and once that is exceeded, Wall Street profits and revenues will shrink considerably. At that point, how do we pay for energy imports, notably oil?

This is not really addressed in this report. Some of the NY plans have up to 50% of electricity provided by renewables, starting with 20% provided by (mostly) existing hydroelectricity (mostly Niagara Falls/Masena). This most optimistic of their plans are based on the following:

Wood/biomass ... 1.02 GW ............................... = $2 billion investment
PV ....................... 1.14 GW = 11.4 GW capacity = $80 billion investment
Onshore wind ...... 1.85 GW = 6.2 GW capacity = $12.4 billion investment
Offshore wind ...... 1.05 GW = 2.62 GW capacity = $10 billion investment

The approximately 5 GW average delivered worth of power would be equal to 31% of NY's present electricity usage (~16 GW), and would cost $103 billion. The high price for PV investments coupled to the low energy return for that financial investment skews that total investment number significantly (not much energy made for that investment, though a lot of NY jobs if those are made in NY State). Obviously, $80 billion for the PV (at $7 million average per installed MW of PV capacity) if spent in the same ratio (wood:onshore wind:offshore wind) could deliver an additional 12.85 GW on a delivered basis, which would bring the total wood/wind combination to 16.7 GW, or more electricity than is currently consumed. Adding in another 3.2 GW of hydropower, plus the 2 GW of tidal, would mean complete net independence from pollution based electricity (nukes, natural gas, oil, coal). This would even allow for considerable consumption via electrical energy storage (pumped hydro), where approximately 20% of the electricity invested in storage is never recovered (cost of doing business renewably). If the PV monies were reapportioned (and any PV installed was assumed to mitigate summer peak demand, where air conditioning electricity demand could be partly supplied by sunshine derived PV), the new values for energy production would be:

Wood/biomass ... 3.4 GW ............................... = $7 billion investment
Onshore wind ....... 6.1 GW = 20 GW capacity . = $40 billion investment
Offshore wind ...... 3.35 GW = 8.4 GW capacity = $33 billion investment

Unfortunately, almost none of this can happen, because the pricing for this renewable electricity is still assumed to be tied to fossil fuel pricing via the NYISO auction/marginal pricing system, which results in unknowable long term future electricity pricing. The renewables are also still assumed to be partly subsidized by tax avoidance schemes, such as rapid depreciation (MACRS) and the Production Tax Credit (PTC). As a result, nothing is finance-able to speak of, as equity investors and bankers (providing loans) will never agree to invest/loan for projects with hugely unknowable future cash flows (due to variable prices) unless at very extreme interest rates/short term (for loans) and very high required rates of return for equity investors, all due to the financially risky nature of such loans/investments. In addition, the ability to hedge electricity prices for long time periods (such as the length of loans) at reasonable prices no longer exists, and is not likely to ever exist again. The inability to get low cost equity and loans coupled to the inability to hedge electricity prices for long time periods (needed to deal with variable NYISO electricity pricing) also results in significantly higher cost/priced renewable energy, which in turn removes much of the financial motivation to install renewable energy systems. What is needed is predictable electricity pricing and coupled to priority access to the grid (as there is no use in getting a stable price if this energy can't be sold whenever it is made).

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) option (in effect, CO2 pollution taxes, where tax rates are set at auctions) is also supposed to provide meaningful help to renewables by raising the cost to emit CO2 pollution into the atmosphere. However, RGGI pricing is presently extremely insignificant, and is now less than $1.80/ton of CO2, or less than 0.16 to 0.2 c/kw-hr for coal derived electricity. There is no significant demand destruction on the use of coal to make electricity provided by present RGGI prices, or on the use of natural gas (about 0.08 c/kw-hr), especially since the real cost of onshore wind electricity (without subsidies) is around 8 to 12 c/kw-hr. Another demand destruction mechanism would be the "cap and trade" or "cap and dividend" mechanisms mention in the Waxman-Markey ACES Bill (which are also awesome revenue generation schemes for investment banks like Goldman Sachs). However, with the ascendency of the Republicans in the 2010 U.S. House of Representatives elections, that route is effectively closed for many years. Thus, demand destruction on fossil fuels used to make electricity via payments of even some nominal CO2 pollution fees/taxes will be negligible, and so renewable energy will still be competing with highly subsidized fossil fuels (via their avoidance of the external costs of CO2 pollution). Only the "market mechanism" of peak world oil pricing and peak Chinese coal production is likely to cause fossil fuel prices to rise. The inability of China to produce domestic coal at rates needed to fuel their economy (now about 3 billion tons/yr) will force them to buy coal on world markets (Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, South America, USA), and for the U.S., this means coal located near ocean export terminals (East Coast, especially). Such buying could raise coal prices from $50/ton (West Virginia now near $70/ton - see http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/coalnews/coalmar.html - click on historical button) to near $150/ton, but this will only raise electricity prices by another 3 to 4 c/kw-hr, and it will still keep coal as the low cost electricity option as long as the generation facilities for this coal are old and fully paid for/depreciated. Natural gas (Ngas) is currently highly undervalued (selling for $4.50/MBtu) but the marginal price needed to extract Ngas from tight shale formations like the Marcellus is actually closer to $10/MBtu. And with crude oil prices edging past $90/bbl ($19/MBtu once refinery losses are factored in), the incentive to convert Ngas into refined petroleum (bulk gasoline is now going for $2.32/gal, or also $19/MBtu) is growing more and more intense with time. Once significant Ngas to gasoline/diesel conversion facilities are constructed in the U.S., Ngas will once again become price connected and close to price equivalent with crude oil. And when that happens, wind derived electricity at 10 c/kw-hr will become a bargain compared to Ngas.

But, the progress towards price equivalency between crude oil and Ngas is analogous to a landslide/avalanche. For a long time, nothing happens, and then all of a sudden the event occurs. The event will cause a significant economic shock to places like NY, where a considerable amount of Ngas is used to make electricity, and this shock will once again first spike and then collapse the price of electricity (so that old nukes/old coal burners and coal derived electricity from Ohio and Pennsylvania will once again provide most of NY's electricity). The price collapse once again will remove the motivation for installing low cost renewables, since electricity pricing for renewables in the NY Climate Plan are still tied to pollution based generation approaches.

Another failure of the NY Climate Plan energy (the PSD, or Power Supply and Delivery) section is concerned with the prices of wind turbines and PV systems. The NY Climate Plan assumes that wind turbine pricing will continue to drop; however, this trend stopped in 2005, and prices have steadily risen since then, or in periods of collapsed demand (like 2010), they have stayed constant as manufacturers attempt to maintain market share by selling at cost or even below cost. Since there are so many other places they can sell wind turbines, manufacturers will avoid a mony-losing state like NY with it's collapsing/spiking electricity prices, and concentrate on regions with a more mature electricity pricing system (such as Feed-In Laws). One of the most important trends in wind turbine technology is the development of Low Wind Speed Turbines (LWST), which are characterized by taller towers (= more costly) and longer blades (= more costly) for a given generator size. The LWST units are ideal for most of NY inland sites (and there are equivalent ones available for offshore sites on Lake Erie/Lake Ontario), and they dramatically increase the land area on which electricity can be made at prices near 10 c/kw-hr. However, the LWSTs do not necessarily result in lower cost electricity, and they are not appropriate for fast and medium wind sites (there are more suitable systems for such wind conditions).

The same trends work on PV systems - required prices similar to those now in effect in Ontario will also be needed in NY (very similar latitudes, climate, insolation, cloudiness), and those range from 50 c/kw-hr (for near 10 MW capacity arrays) to 80 c/kw-hr (house roof sizes on 1 to 5 kw capacity). Until realistic pricing is obtained, PV prices must be subsidized or paid for by other means, including ratepayers (via NY's RPS system), "solar RECs", direct taxpayer grants, grants from NYPA, PPA's from NYPA and LIPA, tax credits (only practically useful for those who pay lots of taxes, = wealthy people, and which are paid for with other people's taxes, usually lower income people's taxes). Since between 5 to 10 times more electricity can be produced for the same investment with wind turbines, biomass systems or tidal energy systems as with PV, the utility of massive PV electricity purchases comes into question. The only way that that the PV option makes sense is as an employment mechanism (putting some of NY's 2 million or more (real basis) unemployed people to work), but this would require that the PV systems (PV materials, PV modules, other module components, inverters, switchgear) be made in NY. If this mostly does not occur, then the PV installation also becomes a means of massive export of money to buy and import items manufactured elsewhere to make extremely expensive (real, unsubsidized basis) electricity.

The failure to come up with stable pricing systems (Feed-In Laws and/or long term Power Purchase Agreements with NY State owned utilities such as NYPA, LIPA, as well as municipal owned ones) dooms the possibility to achieve electrical renewable energy installations on a significant scale. And then there are no massive investments by government revenue in electrically powered mass transit, and without this funding, these simply will not happen. Without these government investments (since no private industry mass transit systems are going to occur as these can't make a profit) no mass transit improvements are likely to happen. And without these, NY will continue to export huge quantities of money for petroleum/liquid fuels, and thus continue to become more impoverished on a real basis, especially since petroleum and liquid fuels that are price related to petroleum will rise at rates much faster than inflation. This will act like a tax on most (i.e. the bottom 90% of income earners) NY residents, but a tax for which there are NO benefits derived other than the transportation of people or goods, and also which provide essentially no multiplier effect. With this defacto tax, the ability to sustain a viable economy in NY becomes more and more of a nebulous concept. And without a viable economy, the ability to finance and thus install new renewable energy systems, and in particular, the low delivered cost and large energy supply ones like wind farms, also becomes nebulous, despite all of the good intentions provided by "portfolio standards" and energy plans. This leaves us with a climate plan for NY State with effectively no real possibility of significant new renewable electrical energy installations. So, if we want to cut back on CO2 pollution from electricity manufacture, this means less electricity consumption and/or more nukes. Since the required price needed to justify the $12 billion per delivered GW of nuke electricity project costs for a 10 year installation per plant is quite high, this will lead to really expensive electricity - more than 20 c/kw-hr from these new nukes, and whose cost is only exceeded by PV in NY State. Such high prices will definitely lead to demand destruction for electricity, which in turn will lead to less demand for the newer nukes in the first place. And since nukes are one of the best ways to spend tremendous amounts of money to make very few manufacturing jobs in NY... there won't be that much improvement in the real, (= non-financial) economy of NY, there won't be that much added wealth with which to purchase this pricey electricity. Maybe that's the real secret plan.....

However, given the large weighting to costs in this document, and especially to minimizing costs, that is probably not the case. And the incredible fantasy like treatment of the real costs of nukes, the deferred costs of nukes and the inability of nukes to pay for their catastrophic insurance and garbage disposal is a truly disturbing display of ignorance by some otherwise very smart people. Finally, using 4 high temperature nukes to make hydrogen from water by vapor phase electrolysis (something not comerically tried/in operation) is only matched by the idea that H2 would be a good transportation fuel (it is a horrible idea to use H2 fuel cell powered cars, especially is a region where it sometimes gets cold). How did that idea make it past the audition? Why not use liquid phase electrolysis, which has been demonstrated on commercial scales for decades. Why not use non-polluting energy to make this H2? And why not use the H2 to make useful things, like the ammonia needed to fertilize biofuel crops (even growing cellulose needs help), or crops that combine food and energy production. Or why not use NH3 in fuel cells? Or use NH3 itself as a fuel/hydrogen storage mechanism. Or why not use some or most of the H2 to reduce CO2 (from biofuels combustion) back to easily stored, easily used liquid fuels like methanol, ethanol, and hydrocarbons? Ugh...

Grading the Plan
The 2010 NY Climate Plan has many good sections with regards to current energy use patterns, and for things that affect our CO2 pollution rates. So it gets an A for describing the current state of affairs. It gets a C for at least mentioning Peak Oil (the International Energy Agency now says that this occurred in 2006, or FOUR YEARS AGO!). But it gets an F (as in Fail) for the renewable energy section, despite the good intentions. The stated goals are pathetically wimpy, and far below what are needed (as in complete production of NY's electricity by renewable means by 2050, or sooner). And for the proposed 30% of NY's electricity production in the most optimistic plan represented by new renewables, there is simply no viable way to get this financed via private industry using the NY RPS system. And there is too much use of ultra expensive PV based electricity planned with no plan to make sure that it is all made in NY, which is the only way to justify this monumental PV effort of approximately $80 billion. Meanwhile, that $80 billion could provide most of the wind/tidal/pumped hydro/biofuel capacity needed to repower NY from polluting electricity sources to one considered civilized in the 21st century.

The plans fail to realize that PV manufacture and installation's MAIN benefit is not in the electricity made but in the jobs created, and that with regards to the energy made by PV, deferall of natural gas usage during peak consumption times (hot summer days when air conditioning usage is getting maxed out) is the main PV benefit. As for the plans for all those nukes, there is great silence with regards to "Black Swan Events" like partial or complete core meltdown events, garbage disposal, terrorism (nukes make for great blackmail), the social (and financial) costs of the police state needed to prevent such nuke terrorism/mischief as well as the enormous financial costs of financing those 16 nukes and then exporting money paid to the out-of-state and probably out-of-country owners of these nukes (as well as those now making many of the costly, specialized parts for them), or at least owners of the debt incurred by installing these nukes. A failure of ANY nuke anywhere in the world would render the "nuclear option" as useless, as no one would finance these, and the only source of financing would be either NY State and/or the Federal Government (which are broke or less than broke). Or of the "opportunity cost" lost by spending $320 billion (plus interest - lost of interest...!!!) on 16 new nukes. Too much of the plan assumes that nukes are "clean" - they are not - and that investments in nukes will not crowd out investments in lower cost/more job creating renewable energy systems like onshore and offshore wind turbines. Wasn't West Valley (at $14 billion and counting) enough fun?

The liquid biofuels conundrum is also not dealt with, either. NY uses close to 5 billion gallons/yr of gasoline and 2.5 billion gallons/yr of diesel at present, not all of which could be made via growing crops and either fermenting or thermally cracking these materials into liquid fuels. But, a large portion could be made in NY, especially if average per vehicle fuel efficiency was upped to at least present day European standards, and the number of vehicle miles traveled per year was dropped by at least 50% (mass transit, telecommuting). For example, consider if 20% of NY's land surface (about 6 million acres) were used for biofuel/mixed food/biofuels (skimming the sugar/starches/fats/cellulose from these crops for energy, using the protein/complex carbs/vitamins/minerals/some simple carbs for food). If an average of 200 gallons of liquids was made per acre (corn to ethanol makes about 400 gallons), that is 1.2 billion gallons/yr made. If current use is about 6 billion gal/yr, and fuel efficiency doubles, only 3 billion gal/yr is needed; cut (fuel consuming) vehicle miles traveled/yr by 50 % and demand drops to 1.5 billion gal/yr. However, fuel production costs are going to be higher than present oil prices are (which are near $90/bbl) - they would probably be more like an average of $6/gal (gasoline energy density basis).

Of course, this $7.2 billion/yr new market in NY's rural/agricultural zones would be a godsend, and end the debilitating heavy dependence on dairy for income, and in turn have a huge multiplier effect (of at least 3 in economic terms). But instead, we continue to export $18 billion/yr out of state for liquid fuels at the present LOW price of an average of $3/gallon. The insistence that biofuel prices be related to oil prices instead of the cost of production plus a reasonable profit is, in effect, doom to significant NY biofuels industry. Also worth noting are the wimpy plans for mass transit investments, despite the enormous benefits that NY State receives from the NYC based mass transit systems. Of course, some of these investments will need to be paid back with taxpayer monies, and without more manufacturing jobs to generate the additional income/wealth to pay these taxes, well, that makes things difficult. Obviously, lots of jobs in the renewable energy sector would be nice, but those won't happen in NY State until the electricity and liquid fuel pricing issue is properly dealt with in a mature (non-gambling) manner, and there seems to be little likelihood of that happening unless Feed-In Laws and or direct state investment in renewable projects (as in LIPA?NYPA ownership of on and offshore wind farms/tidal energy farms) takes place.

Conclusion
There needs to be a NY Green Climate Plan. The Yellow, (Cherenkov) Blue and Ultraviolet Plans are a recipe for economic self destruction, and they don't get the job done - that is, create lots of jobs and effectively replace all of the CO2 pollution made as an unwanted by-product in making electricity, creating heat and moving people and goods around. The UV plan of an 80% Co2 pollution rate reduction is absurdly dependent on nukes - they may as well of insisted on the commercialization of a Star trek-like Anti-matter Engine Drive (see http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Antimatter_engine) by 2030. We need a better plan, and one correctly color coded, too.

DB

ShareThis

 
Web Analytics