Author Topic: Uncontrolled Frequency: Why Intermittent Wind & Solar Are Wrecking Stable Power Grids  (Read 373 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Stop These Things 12/9/2023

Designed by engineers, our electricity grids are remarkable, but finely balanced affairs, being wrecked by the chaotic delivery of wind and solar power.

There are 3 electricity essentials – that the power source and its delivery to homes and businesses be: 1) reliable; 2) secure; and 3) affordable. Wind and solar score NIL on all three counts. Wind is wholly weather-dependent and solar is both weather and sunshine dependent, despite the hype the occasional power they generate can’t be economically stored at any scale. And, adding the staggering cost of the subsidies they attract, cost multitudes more than coal, gas or nuclear power.

But the bigger problem is in the nature of the product delivered when the sun is up and the wind is blowing just right.

Ed Ireland explains the critical difference between the generators around which our power supplies were designed, and those which are perfectly designed to wreck those supplies.

FERC calls for reliability standards for wind, solar and battery storage systems
Ed Ireland
2 November 2023

Inverters are targeted but grid instability problems require a much broader approach.

When Thomas Edison was tinkering with electricity and the idea of what would become the electricity grid, he focused on direct current. Edison’s first electricity generation station, the Pearl Street Station, in Manhattan, New York, started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, using steam engines powered by coal-fired boilers. The Pearl Street Station served an initial load of 400 lamps at the locations of 82 customers, providing electricity at 110 volts DC.

While Edison preferred direct current, partly because he received earnings from his direct current patents, he ran into competition from George Westinghouse, who had licensed Nicola Tesla’s polyphase AC induction motor patent. Westinghouse won the bid to power the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, leading to Edison accepting alternating current. Tesla’s experiments had convinced him that electric motors were most efficient at 220 volts AC with the generators running at 3,600 RPM, which is 60 revolutions per second, or 60 Hertz, or 60 Hz. The American standard became 120-volt alternating current at 60 Hz, although most homes have 240-volt alternating current at the service entrance. [In Australia, the standard is 50 Hz, which means generators run at 3,000 RPM]

To this day, the critical factor underlying the integrity of electricity grids is maintaining a frequency of 60 Hz. If the frequency of the electricity moves outside the range of plus or minus 0.25 Hz, immediate countermeasures are taken to restore 60 Hz. This can be seen on the ERCOT grid between the hours of 8 PM and 10 PM on a recent evening in October, which shows the immediate countermeasures that were taken to maintain the frequency of the grid between 59.975 and 60.025.