Need for more wind power in California to replace Natural Gas
The Porter Ranch methane leak disaster has substantially increased the carbon emissions footprint for the whole state and will impact the carbon budget for decades. It highlights the vulnerability that natural gas imposes on California's plans to cut carbon emissions.
Since the San Onofre Nuclear plant shutdown, CA has become more dependent upon natural gas generation. Natural gas is also the main swing producer to mitigate the variability of solar and wind. Natural gas is supposed to have a lower carbon footprint than coal, but this is somewhat controversial. Coal, being mostly carbon with little hydrogen, is nasty, but at least it does not leak.
Solar generation capacity in CA reached 11.5 GW in 2015, of which 3.5 GW was installed this year. At this pace CA will reach 20 GW of solar in several years. Wind power tends to peak in the evening and decline during the day, so it tends to complement the solar power daily profile. However, growth in wind power in CA, now at 6 GW, will not keep pace, because the best onshore wind sites are already taken. This means that the Duck Curve shown at the beginning of this thread in on track to get worse
in the next few years, forcing larger daily swings in natural gas generation. If Porter Ranch forces a cutback in natural gas in CA, what low carbon alternatives can replace it?
1. Advanced nuclear.
3. Offshore wind, conventional.
4. Offshore wind, floating.
5. Inport wind power via new HVDC transmission lines from midwest.
1. Advanced nuclear. Not available on this time scale, cost and risks unknown, a big subject for another post. It can never be a complete solution because it cannot ramp up and down.
2. Storage. Batteries are the holy grail, but I believe their cost has to decline an order of magnitude to be viable at utility scale. I have covered hydro power storage in a post above on this thread.
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... 98#p415925
3. NREL has a map that shows that there is a lot of offshore wind power potential on the west coast, including CA.
Europe has about 9 GW of offshore wind power, with new expansion coming in the UK and the Baltic. It is high quality wind that blows more consistently than onshore wind.
The US currently has zero
offshore wind, with one small wind farm under construction off the east coast. A major reason is that the Baltic sea and UK waters are shallow, while our coastal water is deep. Europe is also willing to pay the higher costs of offshore wind. The towers are more expensive to install, maintenance is more expensive, and transmission to shore is more expensive, but these costs are all coming down, approaching $.12/kWh, which is over twice what onshore wind can deliver in the US today.
On the map, Lake Michigan has obvious wind potential, and its waters are easily shallow enough. Political opposition has blocked this wind project for 5 years.
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/inde ... shore.html
4. Utility scale floating wind power is under advanced development. There are only a few operating floating wind turbines around the world. A university in Spain has patented a new floating design called WindCrete:
http://phys.org/news/2015-11-patent-low ... rbine.html
5. There is a proposed HDVC project that would deliver wind power from WY to a hub in Las Vegas, from which it could connect with the CA transmission grid.
It would have a capacity of 3 GW for a price of 3 $bill, $1 per watt. DC lines have lower losses than AC and beyond a certain distance AC lines have too much reactive capacitance. It proposes 600kV, but state of the art today is 800 kV DC. There is also concern that in some states the political leadership is so hostile to renewable power that they would block the construction of such a transmission line over their territory. That is sad.
$1 per watt is not cheap, and this project has been "under development" since 2005. California would need several lines this large.