During a recent radio interview where I was discussing PV rooftop solar electricity, a caller said he had saved money by using the sun to heat the water used in his home, rather than using an electric or gas fired hot water heater.
Using the sun to heat water for household use, or to keep the swimming pool warm, can be, and often is, a good decision, but using the sun to generate electricity is probably a bad economic decision in the United States.
A recent article in PowerMagazine lauded the use of electric water heaters for demand response, and touted a report by the Brattle Group, “The Hidden Battery: Opportunities in Electric Water Heating”
It also touted a program by the Great River Energy (GRE), electric cooperative, for incorporating electric water heaters in its demand response program
It should be made clear however, that for the most part, this is nothing new.
Demand response has historically been used by electric cooperatives, such as the GRE, and utilities in general, to dump load during peak periods of demand. It used to be called “load shedding” but “demand response” (DR) is more glamorous in this day and age of fear of climate change and CO2.
The only feature that is new in the Brattle Group’s report, is the use of electric water heaters for frequency correction.
While it’s a fairly simple matter to incorporate demand response with electric water heaters, using them for frequency correction requires new water heaters or new controls, which increases costs for the utility and homeowner, unless new water heaters and controls are subsidized.
Calling electric water heaters a “Hidden Battery” is another eye catching phrase, but is obviously a distortion of the facts. It will confuse people who will jump to the conclusion that something new has been invented and added to the arsenal to fight climate change.
In fact, virtually nothing has changed except the rhetoric.
Water heaters are not batteries and cannot produce electricity.
They store thermal energy, which can be manipulated by timing when the electricity is used to heat the water.
Unfortunately, in their quest to promote CO2 as the cause of climate change, Power Magazine, and the proponents of the Brattle Group report, are willing to distort the facts by calling electric water heaters “Hidden Batteries.”
Whether using electric water heaters to control frequency is the least costly or best method for frequency correction is another question. There are other methods, such as flywheels.
However, there wouldn’t be the need for new frequency correction methods if unreliable wind and solar weren’t being added to the grid … at tax taxpayer expense, with subsidies.
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Nothing to Fear explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared, why politicians are harming Americans by pushing the CO2 agenda, and that mankind has benefited from using fossil fuels and can continue to do so, perhaps for 1,000 years.
Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.
Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy
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