by David Wojick, CFACT, ©2021
(Feb. 5, 2021) — Virginia’s 100% renewables mandate has been estimated to cost its people billions of dollars, but a more realistic estimate is trillions.
Dominion Energy, the big Virginia utility, must know this, but they are hiding it so they can build a lot of expensive wind and solar generating facilities. The more money Dominion spends under the mandate, the more it makes for its shareholders. The Legislature has no clue it is being conned.
The law in question is called the Virginia Clean Economy Act or VCEA. (Does Virginia now have a dirty economy?) It mandates 100% non-fossil fueled power statewide by 2045. Given the old age of their nuclear reactors this could well mean 100% renewables.
Here is a simple back of the envelope estimate of what the real cost might be. For simplicity we initially assume 100% wind power, because wind is the renewables workhorse. We will use big round numbers as they are easier to read and remember.
The huge issue that the public is in the dark about is the astronomical cost of batteries to supply power when the wind generators do not. As a benchmark we will look at the 7 day heat waves that Virginia gets every few years. These heat waves are due to massive stagnant high pressure systems called Bermuda highs.
With temperatures around 100 degrees these are periods of peak power usage. But they are also times of low wind, so low that there is no wind power. The standard wind turbine requires wind speeds of around 30 mph for full power and 10 mph for any. During a week long Bermuda high heat wave folks are lucky to get a 5 mph breeze.
So what might it cost for batteries to supply the desperately needed power to get through one of these awful heat waves?
Here comes the math:
A. Virginia consumes about 100,000,000 megawatt hours a year (rounded down from 118,435,380 MWh in 2019).
B. This works out to about 11,500 MWh an hour.
C. A week has 168 hours which gives roughly 2,000,000 MWh of no wind power.
D. The average cost of grid scale batteries is reported to be around $1,500,000 per MWh of storage capacity.
E. The 2 million MWh of storage required will cost a staggering $3,000,000,000,000
That is THREE TRILLION DOLLARS just for the batteries to get through a heat wave.
Nowhere is this stupendous sum mentioned. Neither the People of Virginia, or their Legislators who passed the VCEA, has heard about the horrendous cost of batteries. Dominion Energy’s plan for VCEA compliance does not mention it, but the numbers are so simple that they must know about them.
No doubt Dominion is happy to let this horror slide, while they build tens of billions of dollars worth of unreliable wind and solar power facilities. After all, the more they spend the greater their profits. Keeping Virginia in the dark is a trillion dollar con game.
The profound ignorance of the Legislature is demonstrated by the truly strange power storage requirements in the VCEA, which deems 2,700 megawatts (MW) of storage to be in the public interest.
To begin with, MW is not a measure of storage capacity. It is actually the discharge rate. It is how fast you can poor the juice, not how much is in the container. It is true that grid batteries come with a MW rating, but this is for when they are used to stabilize the erratic output of renewables generators. For stabilization you need a lot of power really fast so every MW counts. For storage it is the MWh that matter.
Stabilization is not storage so this 2,700 MW number tells us nothing about how batteries might supply a low wind heat wave. However, as a rule of thumb the MWh of battery storage capacity is typically from two to four times the MW of discharge capacity.
Read the rest here.
David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.