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Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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geebee,

It's not a situation of being unable to build more. It's not durability, etc. It's not even cost (though that is a factor).

It's stability.

I'm talking specifically of wind and solar here. Geothermal, hydro, biomass, etc. are renewables that can be much more stable, and thus are mostly immune to this issue.

Since the wind isn't always blowing, and the sun ain't always shining, you need to have enough capacity to cover their share anyway. Now, if you build enough of them over a large enough area, you may not have to cover their share entirely. Statistical treatment of their outputs over time can give you their LOWEST expected output. That lowest output is all you can "count" on. You must have capacity to cover the rest. You don't always have to USE that excess capacity. i.e. when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining you can shut down a coal plant or two as needed. But nor can you let ANY plant sit unused for long periods and start it up on demand.

Also, the transmission grid has to be able to handle the peaks and valleys. If you need X amount of electricity in PA, that's all fine and good. But there's a big difference in the way the grid operates between bringing it from sources in the NE vs., say, solar sourced in the SW. Making that switch on the fly isn't an easy matter.

Based on our grid, most estimates say solar + wind can max out at about 10% of capacity. That's a VAST improvement over today. Add that to the roughly 20% of hydro we already have, and 30% of capacity for renewables ain't too shabby at all. Further, that's not considering geothermal and bio, which both have plenty of room to grow.

Germany's weather and grid may be different, and their max may be different, but they likewise have a max for solar+wind.

Energy storage could also improve our situation. However, batteries are a long ways from being able to handle this amount of power output. That said, there are other methods of energy storage. For instance, you could build a dam. Let wind+solar pump water up into it at their own pace. Then you can release it through a hydro turbine on demand. Or, you could let wind + solar generate electricity separate from the grid, and use it for hydrolysis of water. i.e. make hydrogen. That hydrogen can then be used on demand as a fuel for transportation or electricity generation, as needed. There are many other such examples of energy storage.

Posted on: 2013/10/29 8:49


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2009/2/10 16:30
From SE PA
Posts: 4525
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
geebee,

It's not a situation of being unable to build more. It's not durability, etc. It's not even cost (though that is a factor).

It's stability.

I'm talking specifically of wind and solar here. Geothermal, hydro, biomass, etc. are renewables that can be much more stable, and thus are mostly immune to this issue.

Since the wind isn't always blowing, and the sun ain't always shining, you need to have enough capacity to cover their share anyway. Now, if you build enough of them over a large enough area, you may not have to cover their share entirely. Statistical treatment of their outputs over time can give you their LOWEST expected output. That lowest output is all you can "count" on. You must have capacity to cover the rest. You don't always have to USE that excess capacity. i.e. when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining you can shut down a coal plant or two as needed. But nor can you let ANY plant sit unused for long periods and start it up on demand.

Also, the transmission grid has to be able to handle the peaks and valleys. If you need X amount of electricity in PA, that's all fine and good. But there's a big difference in the way the grid operates between bringing it from sources in the NE vs., say, solar sourced in the SW. Making that switch on the fly isn't an easy matter.

Based on our grid, most estimates say solar + wind can max out at about 10% of capacity. That's a VAST improvement over today. Add that to the roughly 20% of hydro we already have, and 30% of capacity for renewables ain't too shabby at all. Further, that's not considering geothermal and bio, which both have plenty of room to grow.

Germany's weather and grid may be different, and their max may be different, but they likewise have a max for solar+wind.

Energy storage could also improve our situation. However, batteries are a long ways from being able to handle this amount of power output. That said, there are other methods of energy storage. For instance, you could build a dam. Let wind+solar pump water up into it at their own pace. Then you can release it through a hydro turbine on demand. Or, you could let wind + solar generate electricity separate from the grid, and use it for hydrolysis of water. i.e. make hydrogen. That hydrogen can then be used on demand as a fuel for transportation or electricity generation, as needed. There are many other such examples of energy storage.


Correct. Wind and solar have high peak to average ratios. thus you pay for the peak but you only realize the average.

Posted on: 2013/10/29 10:15


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2013/10/30 20:12
From Ebensburg, PA
Posts: 3
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Hi all,

I'm new to the site as a member but i have appreciated all the great content this site offers for some time. Since there seems to be some pretty knowledgable individuals posting on this thread i thought i'd jump in and pose a couple questions i've been pondering for some time.
1.) The common belief perpetuated by the industry is that injected fracturing fluids will never return to the surface (except from the well bore as produced water). My question is, if oil is able to migrate from source rock deep below (thousands of feet) into sandstone reservoirs as it has in many of the prolific oil and gas basins around the country, why can't water migrate in the same way? I can understand that the timeline for this upward migration very long but how long? Won't this water eventually make it's way upward?

Posted on: 2013/10/30 20:32


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 12959
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For the most part, those oil reservoirs are still well below the water table. No?

Yes, water can theoretically come up in time. For instance, via a fault line. But keep this in mind. Most of the bad stuff in fracking fluid is natural. It wasn't added by company X. It was added by the earth. At the depths we're talking about, there's all kinds of nasties, like radium, heavy metals, etc. that you would not want in your rivers and streams. The stuff that company X added may be somewhat toxic, but it is in miniscule concentrations, and really a small part of the problem.

So deep underground, you're adding contaminated fracking fluid, to essentially, contaminated fracking fluid that nature put there. Something like a fault line, well, that fluid is likely to come up at a slow pace anyway with or without drilling. Nature has a way of handling things that happen at a slow, natural pace. For instance, the natural oil seeps on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, over time, add far more oil to the water than did the DeepWater Horizon. But they do it slowly and over a very large area.

Where drilling/industry make problems is when it fantasticly outpaces natural pollution. Say, dumping millions of gallons of oil into the gulf in a couple of weeks, instead of a year, and from a single point, rather than over thousands of square miles. Spilling tanks of fluids on the surface which suddenly enter a small stream. Punching a hole (huge, unnatural fault!) to that deep, nasty water, temporarily pressurizing it so that it rises, and failing to seal off the surface layers. What would have naturally been a very slow seep over centuries or more turned into a geyser which unloaded all those nasties in a matter of minutes!

Consider AMD and coal. The sulfuric rock which causes AMD is natural. When water touches it it makes sulfuric acid. And adding some of this sulfuric acid to streams is a very natural process, it would happen if people never set foot on this Earth. But very SLOWLY. It turns out when you build caverns through this rock, abandon them, let them fill them with flowing water, and release that water directly to streams without being buffered, well, it might be the same contaminate, and the same process, but it's still a horse of a different color. The pace is far beyond what nature can handle, and it's very damaging.

IMO, except for maybe general "development" leading to the shrinking of habitats, I think the days of routine overt pollution are gone. The type that turn streams burnt orange as a matter of plan. Now, everyone wants to prevent pollution, and has plans to do it. Now, it's about preventing accidents. BP didn't INTEND to have a platform blow up, have it's blow-out preventer fail, and spill millions of gallons of oil into the gulf. But it happened. And that driller didn't intend to have it's cement casing fail and allow millions of gallons of frack fluid to get into the nearby stream, but it happened.

And also, keeping tabs on things that were maybe not fully considered. Maybe a relatively unkown, but still important contaminant was overlooked in the treatment plans. Sure, you did a heck of a job removing X, which was your plan, but nobody thought Z was also a problem. Turns out it is.

Posted on: 2013/10/31 9:35


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2012/10/24 19:22
From Da 'Berg, PA
Posts: 1245
Offline
Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
geebee,

It's not a situation of being unable to build more. It's not durability, etc. It's not even cost (though that is a factor).

It's stability.

I'm talking specifically of wind and solar here. Geothermal, hydro, biomass, etc. are renewables that can be much more stable, and thus are mostly immune to this issue.

Since the wind isn't always blowing, and the sun ain't always shining, you need to have enough capacity to cover their share anyway. Now, if you build enough of them over a large enough area, you may not have to cover their share entirely. Statistical treatment of their outputs over time can give you their LOWEST expected output. That lowest output is all you can "count" on. You must have capacity to cover the rest. You don't always have to USE that excess capacity. i.e. when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining you can shut down a coal plant or two as needed. But nor can you let ANY plant sit unused for long periods and start it up on demand.

Also, the transmission grid has to be able to handle the peaks and valleys. If you need X amount of electricity in PA, that's all fine and good. But there's a big difference in the way the grid operates between bringing it from sources in the NE vs., say, solar sourced in the SW. Making that switch on the fly isn't an easy matter.

Based on our grid, most estimates say solar + wind can max out at about 10% of capacity. That's a VAST improvement over today. Add that to the roughly 20% of hydro we already have, and 30% of capacity for renewables ain't too shabby at all. Further, that's not considering geothermal and bio, which both have plenty of room to grow.

Germany's weather and grid may be different, and their max may be different, but they likewise have a max for solar+wind.

Energy storage could also improve our situation. However, batteries are a long ways from being able to handle this amount of power output. That said, there are other methods of energy storage. For instance, you could build a dam. Let wind+solar pump water up into it at their own pace. Then you can release it through a hydro turbine on demand. Or, you could let wind + solar generate electricity separate from the grid, and use it for hydrolysis of water. i.e. make hydrogen. That hydrogen can then be used on demand as a fuel for transportation or electricity generation, as needed. There are many other such examples of energy storage.


Elon Musk thinks his batteries are 2-3 years away - don't forget he has the cash from Tesla AND Solar City being put into it, Tesla is already supplying hybrid batteries for the RAV4 and Boeing have consulted them re the Dreamliner battery problems.

I understand your arguments about peaks and flows and stability and they are valid - the same peaks and flows hydrocarbon based steam powered regional stations face every day.

But there is a vital vital difference - the consumer is the producer or the provider of his own power rather than buying it from another producer and in fact he sells it to a reseller like National Grid rather than the power production co's - so when he needs power he can get it from another provider, even across the atlantic soon, the UK buys and sells power to France and Germany all the time.

And we are going to have to agree to disagree about your 10% - today, First Solar blew the doors off its results, its now doing $5.2bn of sales this year and is adding 25% capacity by next year.

That is just one player in the field- which someone remarked tonight now has the same sales value as Heinz Ketchup and sauces division....or a month of Amazons sales.

so in short, i see fracking as a short term stop gap with inumerable environmental dangers, and unneccessary with what we will have coming online in 5-10 years.

I spoke to my BiL who is a Seismic Manager at BP Amoco Expo and he is in charge of 3D Depth imaging, he stated that all fluids will eventually reach the surface one way or another - as liquid, gaseous or solid material.

His view is that fracking fluid should be treated like nuclear waste - buried very deep, incased in metres of concrete in geologically stable areas, which is obviously not the case and imposible to do on a practical basis due to the fissures being mined.

GB


Posted on: 2013/10/31 17:54


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

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2008/1/31 17:19
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Posts: 12959
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Elon Musk might be right. For cars. The power grid, where most of the demand is from business, is a different story. You always hear # of homes comparisons. But the bulk of non-transportation power is from business. One, say, car factory, uses more power than entire cities. The amount of power a car uses is a lot, but so is the amount of power needed to make that car. From melting the steel to all the machining and assembly and welding and so forth. Most Americans use far more power at work than they do at home.

I do think electric cars will take off. I'm not sure they'll become "standard", but they'll become "common". There's still a good contingent that, even when batteries are better, they just are not a good option. That said, if they can take 30-40% of the car market, well, that's nothing to sneeze at. And I think in 20 years that will be the reality. Not sure whether it'll be pure electric or various hybrids, though.

First Solar, and all the others can blow the doors off of expectations, and I hope they do. They can grow 25% per year, for 50 years. And I hope they do. That still will not make 10% of the grid.

Are you honestly trying to impress an engineer with % increases in an industry that measures it's share in fractions of a percent? When you double a really low number, you still have a really low number. You can keep doubling it, and still have a small number.

Consider (making up numbers to show point):

Current demand: 1000
Current solar share: 5
Non-solar = 995.

Now, fast forward a year. Make demand go up, say, 3%. And hell, lets say a 100% increase in solar.

New demand = 1030
New solar share = 10
Non-solar = 1020 = higher than last year!

See, you can grow in your share, but note, the non-solar portion grew as well. You're not chasing a static number in regards to demand. It's growing too. And even if it's by a lesser %, year on year, since its so much larger a number, you're gains in solar are still not coming close to keeping up with increased demand, much less cutting into the current usage. i.e. you still need MORE coal/oil/gas next year. You're going after a growing market, and it's likely that ALL sources grow simultaneously. If one shrinks, say, coal, then even if solar/wind is growing by leaps and bounds, it's not replacing coal. Something with a current larger share, like gas, is the bulk of the replacement. The answer to the power problem, for the foreseeable future, is all of the above. That INCLUDES solar, wind, etc., but is not limited to them.

I am a proponent of solar, wind, etc. I really am. I'm just realistic about it, and how long it takes. A century down the road, with grid upgrades and so forth, maybe. Hard to know. But the panels and wind turbines which are starting manufacture today won't even be online in 3 years. If you design a new one, it'll take 5 years to settle the design and patents, and another 2 or 3 to develop, and another few years to manufacture, etc. It'll be a decade before it goes into use. And you're talking 4, 5, maybe 10 iterations of that down the road, while depending on similar upgrades in support infrastructure such as power lines, substations, batteries, etc.

Posted on: 2013/11/1 9:26


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2011/8/25 8:58
From Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 12
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Pcray, I've seen many of your posts on other topics and you are usually very well informed, but you've got this all wrong. First of all, let’s go back to your example regarding demand growth vs. solar supply growth. Ok, so the first year’s increase in solar doesn’t even match your estimate of 3% increase in demand. However, by continuing to use your figures of 3% annual increase for demand vs. 100% annual increase for solar, solar power would be providing 100% of demand in just 8 years. Using a more conservative number of 25% annual growth of solar and it would provide all our supply in 28 years. That’s how exponential growth works.

And the assumption of a 3% annual increase in demand is high, though a pretty decent guess considering you were just making it up. But a difference of 1 or 2 percent makes a big difference taken over the course of a few years. From 1997 to 2007 (just before the economic collapse) the total electricity demand increased from 3,302 to 3,890 billion kW-hrs., or 18% over ten years. Since that time it’s been flat.

Germany, a country significantly further north than Pennsylvania, provides 5% of their electricity from solar. This is up from zero (or perhaps “fractions of a percent”) ten years ago. And assuming Germany began this effort about ten years ago, the technology has already progressed significantly beyond what it was when they started. Also, the United States includes large areas in the Southwest and Southeast that have significantly more sunlight than Pennsylvania. Improvements to the grid can be made to take advantage of these conditions to provide power in PA, and I fail to believe that it would take anywhere near 100 years to do so.

In fact, the large size and geographic diversity of the U.S. mean that we are well positioned for renewables. I don’t believe we would use solar alone. We would use a combination of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and other renewable sources. By tying together a large grid that uses a wide variety of these sources, a constant supply of electricity is assured.

Posted on: 2013/11/1 12:01


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2013/10/30 20:12
From Ebensburg, PA
Posts: 3
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pcray,

I agree with your point that natural pollution does occur whether it be from AMD or from natural oil seeps. One point i disagree on is that that hydraulic fracturing is simply adding polluted frac fluids to naturally occurring polluted frac fluids in the formation. While i have heard anecdotal reports that there is some naturally occurring water within the Marcellus, it is likely not in high volumes or the rates of flowback water post-frac would be much higher than around 20% of injected volumes (natural water encountered in the formation would likely flow back due to the pressure of the gas flowing out) resulting in a lot more flowback. Coal seams generally have a lot of naturally occurring water, evidenced by the significant amount of pumping required to keep an underground mine in operation. Additionally coal bed methane (CBM) gas wells usually flow back a significant amount of water prior to entering production.

Hydraulic fracturing shale helps to mobilize the "nasties" by dissolving them in water. This mobilization would occur at much lower rates in a natural setting. Additionally, out of formation fractures (fractures propagating above the targeted shale interval) are a relatively common occurrence in fracturing shale. Reports from the Marcellus indicate that out of formation fractures have extended up to 1,000 feet above the Marcellus. Given this is very dependent on geologic conditions in a given area (faults or large natural fractures make this possible).

When you combine mobilization of "nasties" with increased conductivity to formations above the Marcellus, i think it may result in the overall timeline upward fluid migration increasing. I am not a geologist so any perspective on these issues from a geologist would be appreciated. In summary, i am not satisfied with the industries assertion that all fluids injected underground stay in the place they were injected to.

Salt water disposal opens up a whole new area for discussion because the volumes injected are significantly higher and there is no pressure outlet for the formation as there is in a shale formation with the well bore allowing a release of pressure.

Posted on: 2013/11/1 12:07


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 12959
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Quote:
Ok, so the first year’s increase in solar doesn’t even match your estimate of 3% increase in demand. However, by continuing to use your figures of 3% annual increase for demand vs. 100% annual increase for solar, solar power would be providing 100% of demand in just 8 years.


Understood, but it's not exponential growth. Achieving 100% year on year gets much more difficult as the bottom line number grows. If I sell 1 hot dog, it's real easy to make the jump to 2. It's MUCH harder to make the jump from 100 to 200.

If you double from 5 to 10 this year, you'll likely NOT get to 20 next year. You may beat 15 (i.e. increasing growth each year), but not 20.

For the same reason that Joe's general store may be able to double it's business just after startup, but it's impossible for Walmart to do the same.

All I was saying that with the current infrastructure (aside from solar specific stuff), current operators peg wind+solar to max out somewhere around 10%. Don't get me wrong, 10% is a huge improvement, and with hydro, geo, etc. you could be looking at 40% renewable or more. I personally think geo has huge potential on the west coast for power production (and even elsewhere for holding usage in check in the form of geothermal heat pumps and the like), and is thus far largely untapped.

I do hope you're right on the grid increasing quicker than that. Past infrastructure has not proved this to be the case. We're still using very old bridges, water, sewer, etc., and power lines and substations have not been all that different. We're quick to put in NEW equipment in places that haven't had service. But we seem awfully slow in repairing or upgrading existing infrastructure.

Posted on: 2013/11/4 16:50

Edited by pcray1231 on 2013/11/4 17:06:38


Re: We won't see profits from Shale Gas.

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 12959
Offline
mgw, I don't claim there to be tons of it in the Marcellus formation itself, but there's several layers rich in it already above that formation.

1000 ft is a lot, but considering that's still WELL below the water table. Keep in mind, these places they are mining are well below sea level.

I think in the case of large, unmapped faults and such, yes, it is possible for the water to migrate on it's own. I still think the most pressing danger is the bore hole itself, any legacy boreholes that are unmapped, and the danger of spills on the surface. I am not discounting any dangers, just saying that you prioritize. If it's more likely, or more damaging, it moves up the priority list of stuff to focus on. IMO UNNATURAL migration looks to be first priority, as it is much more damaging. Natural migration is perhaps reasonably likely on a small scale, but on a small scale, i.e. in small concentrations that are less damaging.

Posted on: 2013/11/4 16:55



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