Amory Lovins and Gordon Johnson sort of debate energy issues

Perhaps debate is the wrong word, but an interesting array if issues are raised, especially in the 2nd half of this clip The arguments are a bit complicated, but worth checking out. I will point out that Johnson appears to use the term “distributed” to refer to flexibility around the time of day of production (meaning you can turn on a gas plant whenever it’s needed as opposed to a solar facility only when the sun shines or a wind facility on when the wind is blowing). Unfortunately he’s a little confusing when he talks about wind and solar being “peak” resources and he doesn’t answer the question from the host about storage. It’s noteworthy that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the intermittent nature of wind and solar because people’s gut instinct is to think about clouds or wind from the perspective they have always experienced them – from a single place in time (we are, after all, all individual people, with our own set of sensory organs). But this is not how the electric grid experiences wind and solar (or the opposite of clouds) – the vast geography of the grid is such that only some of the grid is experiencing windy conditions or cloudy conditions at any given moment. Just as you would never say the entire human race is getting rained on just because at one particular moment you need an umbrella, it’s wrong to think of all intermittent resources as being controlled by a single switch (with the exception, of course, of the sun itself rising and setting for solar). In reality there is a mathematical formula to explain the smoothing effect of distributed intermittent generation. Another way to think of this is if you are in a room with four walls and no ceiling and you flip a 100 Watt light switch on and off randomly you are either experiencing 100 Watts of light or are in darkness. If however you are looking at a grid of 100 rooms with 100 people randomly flipping lights on and off, there is very low probability that you will ever be in total darkness (or that it will ever be totally bright). You can however describe the probability of a particular amount of brightness. Similarly, you can describe the probability of a particular amount of wind or solar electricity even though there are clouds and gusts of wind happening all of the time.
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