Thursday, February 27, 2020

Another Busy Morning

     In a rush.

    I had occasion to look up some interesting stats this morning -- someone on Facebook was chiding Canada's government for not going to 100% renewable energy, as Portugal is reputed to to have done.

     This is interesting.  There's a lot of hydroelectric power in Canada.  The population is about three, three and a half times as large as Portugal's.  Could Canada do it?

     There's one little problem.  Portugal has a much friendlier climate.  The mythical average Canadian* uses nearly five times as much energy as the average Portuguese.  They're gonna need a whole lot more dams and windmills.  Solar?  I'd need to see the numbers but it may not be practical in most of the country.

     It's nice to dream, but to make dreams come true, you have to do the math.
* As we all know, most Canadians are above average, but too modest to admit it. 


Unknown said...

in the last couple of years Portugal tends to approach or exceed 100% renewables in March, for the month on average. This is net, with electricity exports of renewables compensating for the times when sun isn't shining and fossil fuel generation is supplying more of the instantaneous load, and gas and coal together actually total close to half for the year in full.

Part of the reason they can do this is that like Canada, they have a pretty big chunk of their supply from hydroelectricity, which can be turned up or down, on or off as needed by the current load demand.

Utility operators are big into "grid stability", and while wind and solar are great, and distributing wind and solar inputs over a wide area tends to make their input more stable and predictable on average, they are still a source that pays no attention to demand, and that means that one has to balance the intermittent sources with stuff that has controllable generation. I read a good industry article about 18 months ago that in Ontario they are just about at the limit of what they can handle for intermittent sources without it being detrimental to grid stability - basically inviting widespread blackouts from grid failure as we've seen in Australia.

That threshold does keep moving up, however, as utilities learn to deal with intermittent sources. My employer is part of a demand-side compensation, for example, we've got a bunch of centrally controlled HVAC equipment that can be shut-off pretty much immediately and the thermal mass of the buildings is going to keep us OK until the utility sends the all-clear.

That's one of the Weird things about Portugal. Their Mwh of generation and demand tends to peak in January and be lowest in June, and their rainfall tends to peak in January and be lowest in June. That could of course be heating-season corresponding to rainy season, but I wonder if as a fairly underdeveloped industrial country they've had some large industrial users who have taken advantage of low wholesale electricity prices when there is an excess of capacity in the winter in order to concentrate their most electricity-intensive parts of their production to those times.

Rick T said...

You also have the simple issue of scale building the required distribution system.

Portugal has 10.3 million people and covers 35,603 sq mi for 298 people/sq mi.
Canada has 35.2 million people and covers 3,511,023 sq mi for 10.15 people/sq mi.

Canada's population is much clumpier than Portugal but it isn't trivial to get hydro power from Quebec or BC in to the central provinces.

Doug said...

Rick t has a grasp of some of the power transmission issues, but his gripping hand is short a few fingers.
Manitoba (where I live), has a history of electric power export (mostly to Minnesota), my physical location is roughly 1600 miles to the Pacific, 1700 miles to the Atlantic and 1200 to the Arctic oceans. Winters can be cool, (minus 40 C or F) summers hot (30-35 C or 85 to 95 F).
We typically use 24-24,000 Kwt hrs per year, at a cost of $0.0875 per Kwt hr. Canadian funds. Call it 6 cents US. Roughly 2300 bucks Canadian for heat, light etc. All generated within this Province.
We have heavily subsidized Solar and wind-power generation, which could not survive with out the subsidies, and are a drag on our economy.
Got a power-hungry business? think of Manitoba. Hunting, fishing,summer and winter sports, PLUS POLAR BEARS.