…Another Dangerous Proposal…
From Load Shedding to Demand Response to Virtual Power Plants (VPPs).
Isn’t progress wonderful?
At least on paper. But what about reality?
And what’s the purpose of VPPs as proposed by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)?
VPPs are to eliminate the need for building new natural gas power plants and thereby prevent the use of fossil fuels.
But first, as background, what is Load Shedding and Demand Response?
Load shedding, is a long standing tactic for dropping load when there is an unusual spike in demand or a failure of equipment. It has always been prearranged with large users of electricity, such as grocery stores, in contractual agreements, where the utility can automatically cut electricity to the load that’s to be shed.
A grocery store, for example, can have half the store’s lighting turned off without affecting safety.
Demand response took the concept of load shedding one step further by allowing utilities to connect a control circuit to the thermostat in homes and businesses, which allowed the utility to shut off air conditioning or heating units.
At least one utility has used control of people’s thermostats to keep air-conditioning from operating, thereby allowing temperatures to rise above the homeowners setting. Or conversely, to keep heating from operating as the homeowner desired.
What is a Virtual Power Plant?
A Virtual Power Plant combines control of people’s appliances, including air-conditioning and heating, with other appliances, such as dryers and dishwashers, to shed load, while also connecting to any method the homeowner or business has for producing electricity, such as rooftop solar, or their BEVs and storage.
As explained by RMI:
“Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are the next new innovation that can change the landscape of the global energy transition. Essentially, they link and aggregate hundreds of thousands of households and businesses to manage their electrical devices. Their thermostats, EVs, appliances, batteries, and rooftop solar arrays are coordinated to ensure loads, charging and discharging is optimized.”
Presumably, the homeowners and businesses would agree to this arrangement.
The simplest way to do this is at the service entrance where all circuits can be controlled at the same time. Presumably, all circuits except for essential lighting, refrigeration and cooking would be disconnected to shed load, while connections to solar arrays, BEVs and batteries would be established to transfer power to the grid.
Other more complex schemes could be adopted for individualized control of all the necessary circuits, but control at the service entrance is the simplest.
Clearly, any homeowner or business agreeing to this arrangement is ceding control of his home or business to government control, which raises many other issues.
But, could VPPs replace a baseload power plant that can be relied on 24/7, 365 days of the year?
To illustrate why a VPP won’t be available when needed, assume conditions such as those experienced in Texas and New England during past Januaries when there was freezing weather and too little wind or sunshine to generate electricity.
With freezing weather, and little or no electricity from wind or solar, the grid will be on the verge of collapse and more power is urgently needed to prevent blackouts. However:
Homeowners and businesses with solar arrays wouldn’t be generating electricity either, so only BEVs and storage batteries might be available to send electricity to the grid.
Homeowners and businesses would freeze if their heating was turned off.
Therefore, there would be no load shedding and the amount of electricity from BEVs and battery storage would be questionable.
In other words, the VPP would be unavailable when it’s needed the most and can’t be relied on to prevent blackouts.
A VPP is the figment of RMI’s imagination, rather than a real world method for guaranteeing a safe and reliable electric grid.
It can be added to a long list of dangerous proposals from RMI that are highly suspect. For example:
- RMI’s 2003 publication, Twenty Hydrogen Myths, that contradicts the report published by NREL in 2013 on the dangers associated with the tiny hydrogen molecule that can sneak through the tiniest of spaces, including through plastic pipe, and also cause embrittlement of steel pipes. In spite of the NREL report outlining the dangers of hydrogen, RMI’s report is still available from its website at bit.ly/3Ky9FeZ
- RMI’s proposal for identifying the greenhouse gas content of each step in the process of producing a product or service, which is best viewed as a “value added tax” on each step in the process. Imagine the bureaucracy needed, and the costs incurred by companies, to administer such a requirement. See bit.ly/33eZsO9
It’s amazing how far climate extremists are willing to go to eliminate fossil fuels.
Where is their concern for people? Why are they interested in schemes allowing them to control Americans?
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