In the war between gas companies and electrical companies-here is some news. First the good news. The technology to fight and end Global warming and climate crisis was introduced years ago. 🙂
Now the bad news: Spokespeople from the energy sector are still ignoring the gas company’s achievements. At the last Green Building and Energy conference I attended, the focus was on what was called “the Duck Curve”. If one draws a graph of our community wide electrical use during the day and then on the same graph draws the ability of solar to generate electricity each passing hour of the day–one sees the obvious problem. When the sun starts going down, we are still using and needing electricity. There are solutions to this. One is lots and lots of batteries. Another is using bio-gas. Bio-gas means taking trash and sewage that was going to the landfill to release harmful vapors and sending it instead to a processing plant that basically ferments it into useable energy.
Note here that Bio-gas can provide energy rain or shine, and certainly as needed for the dreaded Duck Curve.
Here in the Inland Empire (the easternmost parts of LA area) we opened just such a plant that takes manure from the dairy farms, lawn and yard waste, and food scraps from the kitchen. It grinds it down into a slurry and ferments it in pressurized tanks. Just this week, the garbage we sent to the city dump is around 25% of what it used to be. What used to generate air pollution now generates power. What a deal! Never-the-less our local gas power station is being decommissioned and then utilized for a massive pile of batteries. Let’s look at the particulars.
This power plant is practically brand new (10 years old). It is state of the art in efficiency. It has many many serviceable years ahead of it (decades). So the $800 million that got spent to build the plant gets carted off the the landfill. Lots of diesel exhaust involved in that. Now lots of batteries have to be made. So there’s industrial pollution involved in that. The Energy Commission stated that the plant was not making money so this was a good thing. The Energy Commission did not mention in the article that the power plant was built based on their lengthy and involved approval process based on their market analysis and forecasts. I don’t know what the cost will be for all of the batteries but you see how a huge amount of money is being wasted here that will necessarily drive the cost of energy up for all of us bill payers. Who is to say the Energy Commission’s analysis and forecasts for the battery system aren’t as flawed as the analysis and forecasts to build the gas plant?
If you look at this chart of how cost effective different power plants are, the small advantage of solar does not include the costs for batteries. My point being that solar power is great but it benefits from renewable gas.
In conclusion, if you have a trash service that allows you to send your kitchen scraps to the power plant–by all means do it. It is a tiny inconvenience that literally has the power to save the world.
And when you hear propaganda for a future of all electric buildings and cars-keep the concept of renewable gas powered buildings and cars in the back of your mind.
Please refer also to my previous blog on this subject.
The graphs above are courtesy Electropedia (Generation Efficiencies), EIA (Average Construction Costs), and Informed Infrastructure (Capacity Weighted Construction Costs).