May 7th, 2013
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its 2012 Long Term Reliability Assessment last November. This rates a BIG SIGH, I have yet to post it. How can that be? Well, November was a hectic time, to put it mildly, but then I look and it’s the same thing last year. Anyway, here we go!
And in case you missed it:
Now, as to some of the specifics in the 2012 Reliability Assessment. I was recently asked about “wind replacing coal” which is a popular fallacy, because it doesn’t replace coal, not physically, not electrically, not legally, no way, no how.
And NERC Report p. 107 – Retiring coal plants are the old small ones (divide the MW by units)
When you’re hearing people crowing about less coal generation, about using less coal, and about generating less CO2, that’s all because there’s less demand, they’re not needing the old, expensive smaller coal plants to meet demand.
Another view of retirements –dispatch is on “economic” basis, meaning cheapest first. That means big coal. The old small coal plants are very costly to run and usually don’t. What this means is that they can shut down the small inefficient and uneconomic plants without suffering because they don’t need them for demand, and they’re high priced to operate and usually sit idle anyway. Now that natural gas is so cheap, it also means natural gas, although in Midwest, they don’t use gas for baseload, as they do on east coast. So the gas here is peaking power, and is usually more expensive because it’s owned by IPP and under Power Purchase Agreements for peaking (high price). Though Xcel owns its own gas now, remember it repowered a couple old coal plants, and they probably could use that more often and don’t have to pay the higher prices of peaking PPAs. See Retirements, NERC Report, p. 8 of 335:
And remember, not one Renewable Energy Standard “replaces” anything. It is a mandate to generate more electricity ON TOP OF the surplus. And the mandate is needed because there is no market. It’s adding surplus to surplus. Not one RES in the nation says “generation X MW of renewable and decrease fossil by X or X-Y or ?.” There is no replacement intended or accomplished. Further unlike solar, wind is off peak, when they’re doing their market transactions, selling all the coal they can. How much can they sell? Well, it’s not reported in the MISO section of the NERC report, which states that only internal transactions MISO are reported (again, click for larger view):
Anyway, bottom line is that reserve margins are twice what they need to be (click chart for the big picture):