Lake Powell inches towards deadpool

Originally published at: Lake Powell inches towards deadpool | Boing Boing


“deadpool” a level wherein the generators stop being able to supply power

Oh, I wasn’t aware. I only knew the betting game where you guess who will die. (And the comic book character.)


Not sure this really needs to be called out but Lake Powell is not the same as Lake Mead.


edit made. thanks.

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I’m going to Lake Powell in a few weeks to explore some of the emerging formations that haven’t been seen in decades.


yeah, we broke up but we’re back on tour now. honestly, i’m surprised anyone even remembers our band



I wonders, what the equivalent solar powered solution would look like. For example, how many solar farms it would take to replace at least a single turbine’s output, and whether that idea is a dud or not.

Dang. What are the backup plans, if any?

The simple-but-wrong answer is:

Lake Powell annual output: around 4 700 GWh
Solar Farm capacity factor (with single-axis tracking): 0.28-ish
Therefore: required nameplate output: 4700 / 0.28 = about 16 700 GWh.
Hours in a year: 8766
Required namplate AC capacity: 1.9 GW.

Currently, that would be the fifth largest solar farm in the world, and over twice the size of the biggest solar farm in the US.

So, do-able. But huge.

Also: wrong.

Solar will surely play a part - every professional has already thought of that. We used to get our energy from rain falling on high mountains, and store it behind a dam, then use it when we needed it. We can now get energy directly from the sun. But we need a place to store it.

In the video, they describe how the dam’s main role is grid stabilization - filling the gaps when clouds roll over a big solar farm, etc. You can’t replace this with only a solar farm and keep a stable grid.

You could make one of the world’s biggest battery installations. But batteries are deployed when you need backup for hours. Hydroelectric dams are used when you need backup for weeks. This one can’t do that anymore, so you need to take measures that will replace it, somehow, on the aggregate. And that’s really complicated.

Options include:

  • Big battery (mentioned above)
  • Bigger transmission networks - use solar from the East Coast morning when it’s still dark in the West, pull power from Canadian hydro, etc.
  • Distributed storage - lots and lots of little batteries
  • Distributed micro-hydro - lots and lots of small hydroelectric generators
  • Massive water efficiency program for consumer and agricultural users
  • Massive electrical efficiency program (not as much low-hanging fruit here as there was 10 years ago)

This is a really complicated problem, with lots and lots of candidate answers. There won’t be a single answer.


Maybe now is the time for George Hayduke and his pals to take a crack at the dam.



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