Dec. 18, “Newport opts for electric heat over gas” reports endorsement by the City Council a National Grid solution for end-of-the-line gas that shut down homes winter 2019. Endorsed: remove Natural Gas, replace with electric heat pumps.
Our cold-homes-exploding fear will succumb to exploding costs if City proceeds with costly retrofit electric heat pumps in three decades and transition to biogas(?) and hydrogen in the century. This allows a “ dream pipe” for National Grid: The conversion to hydrogen requires new piping and storage. As a lifelong energy engineer I think those pipes will carry predominately NG and a small red herring amount of lower energy hydrogen.
The study makes reference to RI’s politically driven, ill-founded plans to continue building renewables (solar and wind). RI has created the perfect marketing storm for solar and National Grid to further disadvantage RI ratepayers whose electricity is 75% higher than national average due to taxpayer funding of renewables. (MA, CT and RI tied for the top) . Solar is inefficient in the Northeast. Offshore wind is a far too costly, unreliable, maintenance nightmare.
Yes decarbonization is the mantra of the decade – but for little Aquidneck to spend $100s of millions on heat electrification tied to renewables is scientifically illogical. Yet Council wants to be the guinea pig to test if renewables can produce hydrogen gas from “renewable energy from increased solar and off shore wind power …” quoting the study. This is ludicrous to engineers.
Here is the bigger picture from National Grid’s reports 2016 to present for percent of energy use in RI:
Solar increased 0.7 to 1.7% (It remains less than 1% of energy worldwide.)
Wind increased 0. 9 to 1.7%
Natural Gas provided about 40 % level over the 5 years
Nuclear was the green hero: it increased from 9% to 21% carbon free without building any new plants.
“Imported power” (energy from neighbor grids) remained constant at about 20%. It is composed of NGas and Nuclear.
Bottom line: Natural Gas and Nuclear (in- state and imported) provided 80% RI electric energy.
Questions for the City Council:
What fuel do you endorse to run all our electrical loads if you convert to electric heat? RI refused to build or replace gas generation infrastructure. Do you really think renewables are capable of preventing winter brownouts?
Will you endorse new nuclear power stations to replace the few that now supply 95% of Rhode Island green energy and 35% of all RI energy? If not what are your choices to replace nuclear power used in Rhode Island? Wind alone? (can’t be done). Wind with storage batteries? (can’t be done). Wind with natural gas peaking plants? (Yes -Being done now wherever wind farms grow).
Michael Armenia, Newport