Mythical Hybrid Beast To Battle Climate Change

Chimeric solutions to the climate crisis are getting some attention in the US Congress. A testifying "energy analyst" has suggested that the US Federal government consider hybrid power technologies as the way forward:

It might be best to make incremental gains now, energy analyst Kevin Book told Bingaman's Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday. Book, senior vice president at FBR Capital Markets, suggested US spending on "hybrid" measures that improve the energy/environment picture although they do not ''transform'' it.
So like...if hybrid cars are cool, something like that for power generation might be cool too? What, specifically, might the Centaurs have on the drawing board?Could be beneficial to join a 'coal-fired power plant with wind or solar facilities', it was suggested.

As always with such clever and powerful beasts, devils may lurk in the details. For example: plugging a hybrid vehicle into a hybrid power supplied grid, do you then become a Medusa?

Out-Of-Box Solution
What if we just build a lot more solar thermal plants and pretend they are conjoined with old coal fired plants that we are going to phase out, later. Because they are all on the same grid? Problem solved.

Parting Shot Over The Shoulder
I always wanted to visit Congress. Where can I get a degree in Energy Analysis?

UPDATE: It might help if I point out why the derisive tone.

Coal utilities lack expertise in wind farm or solar thermal facility siting and operation. These are not core competencies. One work-around would be if Congress created incentives for mergers and acquisitions between the sectors. There would be no assurances, however, that messing with corporate structure and size would speed up adding of renewable energy capacities and ensure profitability. Pretty socialistic too.

There was already strong demand for capacity additions in both wind and central solar capacity (they couldn't issue permits fast enough before the banking crisis which is the limiting factor for any generation plant add on). Why, then, should Congress create special incentives for renewable electricity projects to be co-located with coal utility plants, existing or new? Whats' the driving force? I can think of several practical reasons why it would be a bad idea to push that notion.

Few existing coal-fired generators are located where wind speed is strong and consistent enough to warrant co-installation of wind turbines.

Optimal sites for wind farms also frequently lack adequate grid access. And few have rail access for fuel delivery and ash removal. Adding a coal plant to a wind farm proposal makes it a horse of a different environmental color, which certainly would boost opposition to the overall plan. Can you imagine a coal plant next to the Kennedy compound on the beach as part of Cape Wind. Come on!

Where is the cooling water to come from on a ridge top?

Adding a few daytime steam turbine efficiency points with a thermal solar pre-heater bolted onto an new coal fired plant means you are still adding coal combustion to meet the demand in growth. Its just another coal plant with a bolt on process enhancement. No more coal plants please: we have a climate crisis in front of us.

Why could not coal-dependent utilities instead be required to buy carbon offset credits in worthy renewable energy projects? Has the same effect and would work with a Cap and Trade system too.

What is really going here? My guess that the analyst is playing monopoly defense. Just a guess.

Via:Platts, Power Lines, Hybrids: not just for vehicles, maybe

Image credit:Libra Rising, Centaur, Art and Myth: a pictorial

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Tags: Coal | Solar Power


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