No, the pumped hydro scheme reservoirs are not underground. The planned lengthy connecting tunnel and pump/turbines go underground. The projected costs keep rising, so causing significant division among the Australian decision makers.
Although not the extended Australian grid, the much smaller grid around Perth is suffering from the so-called California duck curve; too much solar: The rise of solar power is jeopardizing the WA energy grid,and it is a lesson for all of Australia Daniel Mercer 2019 Dec 01
DBB, can you get a message to author Mercer and have him contact me? I have what looks like just the aspirin for that power-management headache, and he can no doubt put me in touch with the people who actually run things.
EP-- David Benson can, of course, answerer for himself. It seems to me, though, that you can probably find the reporter's contact information equally well. Should you wish to email Adam McHugh, who figures prominently in the article, you can get an address here. Or you could contact one of the agencies directly.
Sometime I'd love to hear a few sentences about what you would propose, if you can do so without disclosing proprietary information.
Post by engineerpoet on Dec 3, 2019 11:37:23 GMT 9.5
Since I'm abandoning the idea of patenting this concept, I'll just tell you like I told McHugh:
Take the excess power and dump it to resistor banks in the combustion-air feeds of the existing steam plants. Western Australia has a couple GW or so of them still running, and if their heat rate is anything close to the typical 10500 BTU/kWh they consume upwards of 6 GW of fuel when running at full power; the transformers and wires at the plants won't be rated to handle that much, but it's a hint of what's possible. If the plant is already running at minimum, this cannot over-stress the boilers because the extra heat is a small fraction of their rating. This takes care of the "smart" mess with "dumb" systems. The turbines still spin, the generators still generate, reactive power and system inertia are all still there. (This works for gas-turbine plants too, but they're much trickier to modify.)
The control problem moves from thousands of households to a few utility plants. Instead of having to control the household PV to reduce its output, all the utility has to do is not pay PV producers for the excess that has to be dumped.
The second step is to cut back the fuel feed to the plants to compensate for the heat coming from the resistors. The boilers get the same total amount of heat, but less fuel is burned. At this point the PV producers can be paid more than zero for their excess output; they can be paid for the fuel they offset.
This neatly ties up the grid stability problem. All the systems still run, all the inertia and reactive power are available, the people trying to cram all kinds of un-needed power onto the grid get market discipline and incentives to do something worthwhile like store their excess in batteries or ice or something. And something else: every watt going into a resistor bank is a watt that can be left on the grid as fast as you can turn off a switch. This is the best possible spinning reserve you could have; you could get hundreds of MW in as little as half a cycle.
EP--Thanks so much for sharing the information. I'm just a layman in technical matters, but to me your idea appears to have great potential. After looking up "resistor bank" (it's like a big hair dryer) I could follow pretty well what you are proposing. If the idea helps WA, and then others, you will have accomplished something significant.
Actually, the Parliamentary Enquiry had very low-key terms of reference. Interested parties were invited to submit arguments on what preparations might have to be taken well in advance of any decision to lift the Australian ban on nuclear. It explicitly referred to small nuclear reactors. Correspondingly, most of the pro-nuclear submissions were very low-key, some explicitly excluding consideration of conventional large reactors. The anti-nuclear submissions largely chanted off the populist nonsense about reactors being too big, too slow to build, too costly, too thirsty, too dangerous and renewables can do the same job anyway.
Most of the arguments in my own submission were expressed much more professionally in other submissions. There was a particular concern to get nuclear engineers and operators trained. My most assertive argument, research for tables of expected casualty rates for each (accidental) level of fallout, was quietly ignored, almost certainly because it was too provocative. I was happy just to be quoted on the issue of deconstructibility. That is, if an SMR can be trucked in to a job on say, a minesite, it can equally be trucked out at the end of the job. (Yes, yes I know – after a couple of years cooling down.)
There was a paucity of responses from industry. Possibly this is because shareholders don't like employees planning to break the law, or because the industries don't want to disturb sweetheart deals with the government. The Final Report of the Enquiry could see no technical reason why Australia should not install SMRs. Hence the recommendation for a partial lifting of the ban, allowing industry to plan using SMRs. However it also provided a whole library of preparations we should make if we didn't lift it now, but might decide to lift it later. I hope and believe that those preparations have now been set underway.
I saw an ambush by the ABC TV, hoping to catch Minister for Energy, etc (Taylor) thinking heretical thoughts in a nation that makes gigabucks from coal and gas. He hastily chanted off the familiar conservative stance, that nuclear had always been out of the question in Australia and would always remain so. The leader of the (left-wing) Opposition saw the ABC coming and emulated a truck driver on the coalfields, asserting that reactors are - gosh - too big, too slow, too costly, too thirsty, too dangerous and renewables can do the same job anyway. Both of them were more concerned to be seen to be protecting the present than protecting the future. However, I think the ball has started to roll.