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Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

(OP)
I've heard a lot lately about what a wonderful success story the Orkney Islands is for renewables. One guy recently told me that if they can generate all of their needs from renewables there is "no reason why the rest of the world can't also get rid of nasty hydrocarbons". I started digging into it and found some interesting facts that I put together into an article on ENGINEERING.com.

Orkney Islands use Renewables to Generate 103% of their Power

The thing that jumped out at me is that most of the new articles I found on this omit the word "electric" from the 103% and say that the islands generate 103% of their energy needs. Not nearly true since electricity represents 28% of the energy they consume. That is a much bigger percentage than any industrial location will ever reach, but but it means that 2/3 of their power requirements come from nasty old hydrocarbons. I found a lot of very disingenuous reporting on the power load on these islands. Hopefully the linked article sheds some light on the scalability of their successes.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

Well done.

Minor point on the penultimate paragraph.

Quote (/david)

The installation of renewables would still require running the current generating capacity at idle, waiting for the inevitable night and/or the wind stopping, without saving anything.

Night is reasonably predicable.

Turning a diesel powered generator at near zero load doesn't take much fuel, so I think there would be savings vs. running the same generator at full load.

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

(OP)
It doesn't take much fuel, but running at idle for hours at at time is really hard on the long-term reliability of engines.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

is the point that the output of a limited number of renewable sources is unreliable (and unlikely to match demand), but many sources (and sinks) dispersed over an area, interconnected, can sustain one another ?

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

(OP)
There are a lot of points, but I think my main point is that one-size does not fit all. Lauding an agrarian fishing village as the model for Scotland, the U.K, or the world is a mistake. Intermittent power sources have to be level loaded some way. It used to be that the level load came from point-of-generation storage. Increasingly it comes from idling reliable capacity and running it in backup. This idle capacity requires installing nameplate generating capacity that is 6 times the expected peak load (the industry calls for both wind and solar nameplate capacity to be 3 times expected peak load, I think that is optimistic and use 5 times in my projects, and then match peak load with a non-intermittent source), which is poor use of capital.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

Thanks for this piece of article.

One size does not fit all, very possibly. On the other hand, the subject Islands, especially because of limitation inherent to their location, are not representative of all the potential renewable sources. For instance solar power (concentration, photovoltaic), geothermal etc. are not at their best there. I guess wind / wave power sources are the most adapted ones for the example under consideration.

In Sahara desert for instance the solar radiation/flux (direct type) can reach up to 1000 W/m2 [resource aspect] and is available for an extended period during the year (say up to 6 months); this is an exceptional potential considering landscape is desert and thus offering plenty of footprint and ground area for erecting very large solar power plants [economic aspect]. If this is set to be the reference (optimum from both the economical and resources stand points combined) then we could consider using an index where any location of less favorable conditions would get an index lower then 1.

I think we could suggest to explore the "Low /High scenario" for this scaling study, that is exploring scaling to other countries (UK, US, etc. electric needs coverage) departing from an other example and location which is at its best in term of its index (so great economic advantage and most favorable case for renewable resources available) to see how costly will it be to get rid of the nasty HC on low and high sides.

Also and independently from the above, what about two other economic factors and their possible effect on the scaling figures:
- Economy of scale if we were to use the Orkney Islands power systems and facilities on a very large scale;
- Learning curves (massive deployment of new technologies leading to further reduction of costs with increase of systems efficiency)

Of course, this is not meant to say that the article would be biased towards showing oil and gas shall remain a vital or a necessity; this is more to trigger some points of debate.

Interesting and valuable article by Zdas. Thanks.

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

(OP)
rotw,
I did a project in the Libyan Desert (in Egypt they call it the "Western Desert"), very deserty. It was a data project and the data collection equipment was all solar powered. 60% of the records were null values because the PV system on that well was below 8VDC. I asked the automation tech why the panels were all messing up, were they old? He said that none was a year old yet, and he never sees panels that survive 3 wind storms because of sand blasting. I understand that all of the desert area of Northern Africa are very much subject to even light winds having a large sand load.

No place is ideal for solar, and I haven't yet seen a location where I would rather have solar than anything else. It doesn't work well in the desert because of sand blasting. It doesn't work well on the sea coast because of bird droppings and salt accumulation. It doesn't work in jungle because of bird droppings, lizards/iguanas nesting on them, and mold. According to Amazon's new app it doesn't work anywhere.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

Thanks Zdas for sharing.

I guess all the world need then is brilliant engineers like the ones here in the forum to solve the technical challenges posed by desert conditions :)

This is an example of a mega project using solar concentrators (parabolic mirrors) and it just went live.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/26...

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

(OP)
rotw,
That looks like a very clever lash up. I hope it works. They didn't say what pressure that steam plant operated at, but I'm wondering if "running 3 hours into the night" and then ambient cooling for the rest of the night makes the system unavailable for most of the morning while the media heats back up?

One really cool thing about this technology is that most PV panels that fail due to sandblasting fail electrically before the optics are completely occluded. This system is more [appropriately] brute force and should work until the mirrors are completely fogged.

Another nice thing is that it wouldn't take much engineering to add a natural gas heat exchanger to the process to let the same system work with or without the sun shining, that heat exchanger wouldn't have the idle-running problems that back-up ICE systems have. I think I'm going to try to watch the development of this system, I like it.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

rotw that looks similar to the one at Kramer Junction in California https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Energy_Generat... that I drive past on my way down the 395 every few weeks/months.

My understanding was they'd never been very reliable and had issues with dust coating the mirrors leading to much lower performance than planned but maybe they've fixed some of that as I don't see much info on the first couple of links that come up.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Orkney generates 103% of Electric needs from Renewables

If you can't make PV panels last in a desert, imagine those daft morons who keep going on about paving roads with them? Saw an article about 1000km of roadway planned in France...some dumb ideas seem to never die!

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