Baseload is an intellectual crutch for engineers and utility managers who cannot think dynamically

This is an awesome presentation by Professor Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technological University.

(h/t Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week)

The same idea, that “baseload is a shortcut for engineers who can’t think dynamically”, was similar in the early days of robotics. In those days, engineers didn’t want to do a lot of computation, primarily because they did not know how. So the arms of early Puma robots were massive compared to anything they expected to lift. Why? Because the engineers designing the control laws and loops for the robots did not want to have to solve, in real time, the nonlinear sensing of the mass and moments of inertia of the thing they were picking up. If they made the arm so more massive, they could ignore the physical characteristics of the item they were maneuvering.

That kind of thinking no longer works for robots.

That kind of thinking no longer works for rocketry, especially if you want to make boosters that are recoverable and land.

And that kind of thinking no longer works for the energy grid.

Apparently, “strong currents” engineers, to borrow a term from the work of Norbert Wiener, aren’t versed in ideas and methods of control theory. (Specifically, it’s Starkstromtechnik versus Schachstromtechnik.) Now, the strong are subject to the weak, and that’s good. Nietzsche would not approve but, then, what did he really know about anything?

This also provides a comeback in public forums to engineers, policy leaders, or business people who tout “baseload” or equivalently the need for electricity when “the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow.” That is:

Just because you and some engineers cannot think dynamically does not mean there are no engineers who can.

(h/t Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week)

There are other costs of business looming over the heads of fossil fuel intensive companies.

About ecoquant

See Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in American Solar Energy Society, an ignorant American public, Bloomberg Green, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, CleanTechnica, control theory, controls theory, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, differential equations, dynamic linear models, dynamical systems, electrical energy engineering, electrical energy storage, electricity, Kalman filter, optimization, photovoltaics, rate of return regulation, solar domination, solar energy, solar revolution, stochastic algorithms, utility company death spiral, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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