The Beginning of the End for Grids
Events in Vietnam show us what is in store for grids worldwide
An article “After renewables frenzy, Vietnam’s solar energy goes to waste” published yesterday in Al Jazeera shows us what is coming for grids worldwide.
The grid in Vietnam has been found to be unable to keep up with the rate of solar power adoption.
As a result, suppliers of solar power to the Vietnamese grid are being told to switch off their power, for up to 50% of the time.
This comes about following an initiative in Vietnam to expand solar capacity, in 2018.
Vietnam sets out green ambitions with bold targets for solar, rare earth
Vietnam plans to more than triple the amount of electricity it produces from renewable sources.
The original target was for 850MW capacity solar.
What they got, by offering guaranteed rates for power generated from solar, was 16.5 GW.
That is a truly astounding result, showing the rest of the world what is possible.
But apparently, the preferential rates from the grid are now capped to 2GW.
The investors involved are villagers of communities who have invested in building local solar farms, all over Vietnam.
So now they are in danger of having made losses rather than gains by their investments, with court cases against the government beginning to appear.
In their experience, solar farms requiring a year to build then need three years of development in Grid infrastructure to support it.
This spells the beginning of the end for Grids worldwide, as it is apparent there is actually no real need for a national grid, if each solar farm has appropriate hydrogen generation and backup, and local “Mini-grid”.
Where Hydrogen Fits In
A solar installation backed up by hydrogen based fuel cells, fed by an electrolyzer driven directly from the solar cells DC, provides an excess of hydrogen. All power not used by the microgrid is used to create more hydrogen, which is a very valuable clean fuel, functionally replacing fossil fuels with none of the pollution, even cleaning the air and supplying water in the combustion.
The Money-Fuel Tree
Could this be the answer to all of the problems?
This can be stored onsite, and transported to external consumers as valuable product.
With that capability, the power not sold to the Grid would still be available to sell to others.
This is what is missing from the Vietnamese solar farms as stands.
As a Systems Engineer of thirty years practice, often involving Grid based Industrial Electrical systems, a full member with the Institute of Electrical Engineers as it was when I became Chartered, I was until very recently committed to the idea that we would eventually need a worldwide grid, to ensure uninterruptible worldwide power from solar.
But with the analysis carried out myself mostly here in Medium since around 2017, I have come to the realisation that no Grid is needed.
In fact we would do well without them.
All they do is tie us into the impossible scenario of continued extracted capital energy consumption.
What we are seeing in Vietnam is confirmation of that fact.
Whichever way we look at it, Grids are becoming something of an unnecessary behemoth, a hinderance to the rapid uptake of solar energy that the world needs so badly.
We should be ready to let them go.
The nature of solar power is that it is distributed.
There is no longer any technical reason to maintain centralised grids.
By Frederick Bott