Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cold and Dark

But Steven Chu, Jeff Immelt and the anointed of Washington DC will not be.

If 60 of the 1100 gigawatts available in the US are shut down, the results will be devastating.  That is 5.4% of total capacity.

There is only enough energy out there in the power lines to feed all the loads plus the losses.  The system is self-regulating to maintain voltage and frequency with the variable being current.  Since Power (watts) is the product of voltage and current, if voltage is held constant, varying power can be maintained by varying current.  There is more to the regulation of power than this, but in oe of this is the ability to meet versimplified terms, this is it.

Generation of electricity consists of base load, rolling reserve, hot standby and cold iron.  Base load runs at full capacity all the time and is the lowest cost generator.  Right now, coal and nuclear plants run base load.  There is some natural gas in that mix, but not much.  Rolling reserve consists of plants running at less than full capacity, but have the ability to ramp up almost instantaneously.  Hot standby is not connected to the grid, but can be connected in a matter of minutes to supply power.  Cold iron is the most expensive and only operates during excessive peak times.

If 60 gigawatts of coal is retired by 2020, more expensive units will have to take their place; new nuclear capacity to replace 60 gigawatts is 20-50 years (or more) away at current construction rates.

The other side of this is the ability (or lack thereof) to meet peak load.  There is little enough reserve to meet peak in many places now and this will make a very thin system anorexic.

If this is not adequate evidence of "high crimes and misdemeanors" against this president for intentionally undermining the security and economy of the United States, I don't know what is.

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