A Simple Tale About Switching To Renewable Power: Requirements & Consequences.

A comparison of coal, nuclear, combined cycle gas turbines, and wind power for the morning of Friday August 7th. 2015 Source: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

A comparison of coal, nuclear, combined cycle gas turbines, and wind power for the morning of Friday August 7th. 2015 h/t “jeremyf” on Twitter. Source: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Don Bogard, © 2015 (published here with permission)

The tale below is fictional, but every one of its elements and issues has been or will be experienced somewhere in the process of switching electrical power production from fossil fuels to renewable wind and solar. Hopefully this tale will illustrate in a non-technical way some of these complications and potential issues that can and often will arise. My reference to “city” and “government” and “city fathers” are generic and could apply to different entities and scales.

Visualize a medium-size city with two very functional electrical power plants, each producing 500 Mega-watts of electricity, with one fueled by coal and one by natural gas. (About 2/3 of U.S. power is produced from these two sources.) The government decrees that this city must reduce its CO2 emissions. The city fathers decide to retire their coal-fired plant because it generates more CO2 and replace it with 350, General Electric (G.E.) 1.5 Mega-watt wind towers (total rated capacity 525 M-watt). The entire city celebrates over their good fortune in moving into a modern era of green energy. The mood is jovial.

The city planning begins. Each of these G.E. wind towers consists of 116-ft blades atop a 212-ft tower for a total height of 328 feet, and the blades sweep an area just under an acre. Each tower weighs 164 tons and is mounted on 1,000 tons of concrete and steel rebar and must be outfitted with flashing red lights.

City Problem #1. These 350 wind towers are expensive, about $2 million each. Luckily the government will subsidize most of the cost (paid by taxpayers elsewhere).

City Problem #2. Whereas the coal plant occupies fewer than 20 acres, each GE 1.5-megawatt turbine requires a minimum of 32 acres and needs 82 unobstructed acres in order to optimally utilize wind from any direction. This is a total of 28,700 acres, or about 45 square miles of land. That much space is way too expensive to purchase, so the city fathers convince the county and state to fund subsidizes to surrounding farms to host such towers, or decree eminent domain to force their location on unwilling farmers.

City problem #3. The coal plant was located close to town. To service these new wind towers new expensive access roads and power transmission lines must be funded and constructed.

Some grumbling begins, mainly among those whose farms were forced to accept the towers, among coal plant workers who are soon to be fired, and among those long range planners of future city budgets.

The wind towers are finally constructed and tied into the city power grid.

City Problem #4. Before the coal plant is retired, which operated 24/7/365, the city planners realize that the wind does not always blow. Further, even when it does blow, it often does not blow enough, and at these times the wind towers generate less than their rated electrical output. Often some towers will be out for maintenance.

The city fathers decide to keep the coal power plant in operation (after all, it was paid for) and only use it as back-up power for when the wind does not blow.

City Problem #5. It is discovered that when the coal plant must be fired up to replace wind power that has suddenly diminished, it cannot come to power quickly enough to prevent brown-outs (voltage drops), even an occasional black-out (no power). Further, these times of rapid cooling and heating of the boilers are degrading them much faster than when they operated continuously.

Citizen grumbling increases over the power issues they individually are experiencing.

The city fathers decide to build another gas-fired plant to replace the coal plant.

Grumbling increases among city dwellers over the increased taxes and electricity costs required to pay for the second gas plant. For the first time in many years, serious challengers arise in the upcoming city council election.

The second gas plant is constructed. One gas plant operates continuously, and the second plant operates in a near idle mode (but still burning some gas and producing CO2) so that it can be rapidly fired up when the wind dies. Keeping both gas plants operating, even at lower level for one, is more expensive than expected, but now they offer adequate back-up for when the wind-towers generate too little power.

Some city citizens forget that they are now paying sizably higher electricity bills and are happy that their CO2 production is now somewhat lower than originally. But many other citizens grumble and discuss recall elections.

Time passes. The city grows and needs more power. Further, the government gives a new decree to lower CO2 emissions even more. The city fathers decide to construct more wind towers. The reasoning is threefold: a) adequate power would still be available when the wind blew only lightly; b) extra power generated by wind could be sold to the surrounding cities; and c) the city’s gas plants would not have to operate as often, thus lowering CO2 generation. The plan sounded reasonable to city council.

City Problem #6. Large citizen protests erupt. The city mayor and two city council members are recalled. Yet under demands from the government, the new city government barely convinces the annoyed citizens to proceed. Active animosity develops between those who support this rapid move to renewable energy and those who do not.

City Problem #7. With the prospect of large flows of energy among various cities, extra and expensive long-distance transmission lines must be constructed.

The city goes even much more heavily into debt and several hundred extra wind towers are constructed. Counting total power capability from two gas plants and many hundreds of wind towers, the total potential power production is much more than twice what the original power capability was, although the city has only grown by 20%.

City Problem #8. The city is now sharply divided over this issue. The “green” citizens emphasize the good that wind power is doing in reducing CO2 emission and think that good justifies the many extra costs. Financially practical citizens complain that city electricity costs are now much higher than before, that much more open land is being compromised, and that the wind towers are noisy and unsightly, whereas CO2 emissions have only modestly been reduced.

The city fathers argue than the extra wind power produced by the new turbines can be sold to ally some of their costs.

City Problem #9. However, when the wind blows hard and extra wind power is produced, the city fathers discover that surrounding cities, which by now also have converted heavily to wind power, often also have too much wind power and are not in the market for any more. The city cannot sell its unused power, and having no way to store the extra power, must simply “dump” it unused. City fathers also realize that sometimes the wind quits blowing not just over a local region, but over a very widespread one. In these cases most or all of the local cities produce too little total power, and regional brown-outs develop.

The city fathers have a new idea — develop solar energy. Often the Sun shines when the wind does not blow and the wind often blows at night. But the city citizens would never permit a huge central solar power facility, and there is no suitable place to locate such a facility. But, the city fathers learn that the government heavily subsidizes PV-solar equipment for individual homes and businesses. The city fathers again decide to utilize government subsidizes paid for by others elsewhere. The city fathers appeal to the “green” citizens to use some of their funds along with the government subsidies to install PV-solar systems on their roofs. To give further enticements, the city fathers decree that the city electrical power company must purchase at full retail prices all excess solar power than these “green” citizens may produce. Many “green” citizens comply and a few hundred extra M-watts of solar power becomes available.

City Problem #10. However, the city fathers soon discover that when the Sun is brightly shinning, these PV-solar panels feed so much solar power into the grid that sometimes either the gas-fired plants or some wind towers must be curtailed in their power production. This produces further complications in keeping power fed into the local grid precisely in balance with the local and total power demand, as it must be if equipment damages are to be avoided. The city power company strongly complains about the new problems it has been handed.

City Problem #11. Further, the city power company discovers that on sunny days, it is buying so much solar power at retail prices, that it must raise power rates to those customers who do not have PV-solar grids.

Citizen complaints about power costs increase. Some prospective new industries with sizeable power demands decide to locate elsewhere.

Surrounding cities, which have also encouraged rooftop PV systems, find themselves with similar problems.

The city finds itself in a catch-22 situation. Both producing too much power and too little power, both at significantly increased prices, have negative and unintended consequences.

MORAL OF THE TALE. Conversion of electrical power generation from fossil fuels to renewable wind and solar is a process that can readily be both quite expensive and filled with unexpected negative consequences. For governments to rush into such a transfer too quickly or without a fully thought out a plan may be a recipe for higher electricity costs, customer dissatisfaction, social disruption, and ultimate political consequences.

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196 thoughts on “A Simple Tale About Switching To Renewable Power: Requirements & Consequences.

      • Yeah, but he will not tell you is the truth.
        All UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured. This is bespoke mining, not the industrial mining in S. America or Australia. This is why at the height of the coal boom in the UK there were a million workers in the industry. And modern long-wall mining is not much better than anual labour, if you have to disassemble, move and reassemble the long-wall every week. You end up fiddling around for longer than you are actually mining and producing.
        The result is that we can mine UK coal, but you will have to pay quadruple the cost for it. UK coal cannot compete on the open market, without high subsidies. And the problem then becomes – can the nation afford those high subsidies?
        Our products compete on an open market with the likes of China and even the US, who have much lower energy costs. If we subsidise coal to compete, that subsidy must come from somewhere. It could be done of course, all you need to do is close the NHS and we could easily afford to subsidise UK coal production.
        So which is it to be – King Coal or the Sacrosanct NHS??
        Ralph

      • Silver ralph:
        No, as usual, you are wrong.
        Some “UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured” but not all.
        A more serious limitation is that the Tory closure of the coal industry damaged the strata where the closed mines were, and this makes modern deep mining impractical in those places.
        However, coal has been mined from beneath the North Sea for generations and the recent finds of coal under the North Sea could power the UK for centuries to come.
        Unfortunately, as this article reports the government has been duped into funding an attempt to access the North Sea coal by in situ gasification. The article does not report that the underground gasification cannot be made to work and is only being funded because Tories are embarrassed at the need for coal mines especially when the coal could have been accessed by extending undersea mines they shut.
        Richard

      • Read very carefully. Corbyn is advocating reopening the Welsh coalfields for EXPORT, not domestic consumption.

      • Ralph, could that be any worse than Britain swiching over to wood-pellet fired boilers? BTW, there are dedicated forests in the southern US where all trees are harvested, ground up into pellets, loaded onto ships and sent to the UK, to feed their boilers. Insane policies lead to insane “solutions”.

      • >>Read very carefully.
        >>Corbyn is advocating reopening the Welsh
        >>coalfields for EXPORT, not domestic consumption.
        Listen very carefully, I will say this only once. It does not matter whether it is for domestic or overseas consumption, it will still have to be subsidised.
        Australian coal is running at $60 a tonne. You would be lucky to get Welsh coal out of the ground for less than $300 a tonne. So who will buy Welsh coal in preference to Australian coal?
        Now you may buy into liberal unicorn economics, but you can be sure that an industrial user will not – they will go for the cheapest and most reliable power source – Australian coal. But Corbyn is right, we could sell Welsh coal on the world market if it was subsidised. All we need to do is close down the NHS, and it is easily achievable. Oh, I forgot, the subsidy would also go against EU rules. And so Corbyn would have to leave the EU as well.
        But that is an easy sell for a Communist politician, surely. “Leave the EU” “Close down the NHS” You know it is a vote-winner….
        Ralph

      • >>Some “UK coal seams are thin and
        >>highly fractured” but not all.
        Give us a surveyor’s report of a UK mine that has deep, consistent, unfractured seams, on a par with Australian or American seams.
        Put up, or shut up.
        The image below is of a Powder River Basin coal seam. What is the depth of that seam – 12 m? 15 m? And strip mined on the surface too. In the UK, you are lucky to get a highly fractured 2 m seam 1,000 down in a deep pit. The cost of UK extraction would be ten or twenty times the cost of the Powder River seam – even with the amount of overburden that has to be moved in the latter.
        .
        >>A more serious limitation is that the Tory closure
        >>of the coal industry damaged the strata.
        What utter bull.
        Firstly, Labour closed down many more coal mines than the Tories ever did. Why not blame Labour, eh?
        Secondly, how on earth does closure ‘damage strata’? Are you on the same planet as everyone else?
        You do not intentionally mine near old working anyway. You try to chose a new seam on a different level, there are many to chose from. In addition, the 1950s to 1980s mining operations were ALWAYS coming across old mine workings that had not been documented. It was a perennial hazard of the job, causing many a flood. The situation now would be no different than the 1980s, because records of the later mine working have been retained. And nobody in their right mind would want to follow the haphazard and unprofessional mining that was going on in that era.
        .
        >>However, coal has been mined from
        >>beneath the North Sea for generations
        Give us survey details of the seam thickness, continuity and fracturing of these North Sea seams.
        Put up, or shut up.
        In addition, please tell us how much it would cost to bore a drift 100 miles out under the North Sea, to manually extract the coal. How much it would cost to get a high speed train down there, to take the men and material out 100 miles and bring the coal back. This is an equivalent of constructing the Channel Tunnel, but 1,000 underground instead of at the surface, with all the additional costs that entails (think of the added strength required for the tunnel wall – because coal lies in very weak shale strata). The Channel Tunnel cost £15 billion in today’s prices. I estimate this would cost something like $50 billion, simply for constructing the main drift (the tunnel) to the mine. Plus another £15 billion to construct the mine. And for what return? How big are the seams, to justify this expenditure?
        So yes, this is typical left-wing unicorn economics. Socialism is a great philosophy, until they run out of other people’s money. Although this could be done, if we close down the NHS.
        So which is it, Richard – King Coal or the Sacrosanct NHS?
        Ralph
        A Powder River Basin coal seam:
        http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/784/78487.ngsversion.6b0d8a7bf889d0cf2c87d6eb008759e5.adapt.768.1.jpg

      • **Silver ralph
        August 9, 2015 at 11:55 am
        Yeah, but he will not tell you is the truth.
        All UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured. This is bespoke mining, not the industrial mining in S. America or Australia. This is why at the height of the coal boom in the UK there were a million workers in the industry. And modern long-wall mining is not much better than anual labour, if you have to disassemble, move and reassemble the long-wall every week. You end up fiddling around for longer than you are actually mining and producing.**
        Sell the coal fields to whose who figure how to mine it economically..

      • @ ralfellis
        Not only Australian coal, but Indonesian
        Indonesia has now overtaken Australia as a coal producer.
        As an Aussie, all I can say is, well done Indonesian.

      • richardscourtney August 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm
        /////////////////////
        And don’t forget that Harold Wilson (Labour) closed more mines than Thatcher (Conservative). It was economic reality that caught up with both Wilson and Thatcher caused to a large extent by the unions that decimated shipbuilding and the car Industry and thereby severely restricted domestic demand for coal. .
        I am all for coal as long as it is economic and can be mined without subsidy and compete in whatever market it may be sold in.

      • Mongolia has about 500,000,000,000 tons of coal and are selling it to China for $12 a ton at the border. They have seams 100 feet thick. $300 a ton scrabbled by hack and hew from under shale is not a competing business case.

      • Silver ralph aka ralfellis aka &etc.
        You made the untrue assertion

        All UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured.

        And followed that with comments which demonstrate you know nothing of mechanised mining in the UK.
        I replied by pointing out that

        Some “UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured” but not all.

        And I pointed out that recent finds of coal under the North Sea alone are sufficient to power the UK for centuries.
        As usual, you have replied with a load of irrelevance. And you have added to that a demand saying

        Give us survey details of the seam thickness, continuity and fracturing of these North Sea seams.
        Put up, or shut up.

        YOU made the untrue assertion that “All UK coal seams are thin and highly fractured” so – you said – could not be mechanically mined economically. I refuted it and also cited the recent North Sea finds. So, Silver ralph aka ralfellis aka &etc., give us survey details of the seam thickness, continuity and fracturing of productive and profitable modern mines (e.g. Selby) that were closed for political reasons.
        Put up, or shut up before making demands of others.

        And your irrelevant political claptrap includes this nonsense (that was repeated by Richard Verney who added more untrue and irrelevant historical revisionism)

        Labour closed down many more coal mines than the Tories ever did. Why not blame Labour, eh?

        Labour closed many small mines (horses and men digging with picks) and concentrated production in fewer highly productive and profitable mechanised mines (longwall faces).
        The Tories closed the coal mining industry by shutting the productive and profitable mechanised mines. All mines eventually exhaust, but that is not relevant to the political issue (i.e. the Ridley Plan).
        Your demand that I choose between the UK having either
        (a) a sensible energy policy based on indigenous energy economic supplies
        or
        (b) the NHS
        is on a par with your usual daft demands.
        I CHOOSE BOTH.
        Richard

      • richardscourtney
        August 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm
        In an oblique way I believe you have a point about “the Tory closure of the coal industry” but for completely the wrong reason. I’m not going to engage on the subject of whether or not the situation in the coal industry in the 1980s was down to Thatcher or Scargill – that way madness lies! However, it seems to me that one major reason for the demise of coal mining was the B.R. (railways for our American friends) Modernisation Plan, which was, of course, instituted in the 1950s by the then Conservative Government.
        That plan envisaged, amongst other things, the replacement of steam traction with a more modern alternative. For whatever reason, and unlike, say, France, the Plan adopted diesel traction as their preferred alternative, rather than electricity. Steam locomotives, lovely though they may be to look at, are extremely inefficient so their replacement was justified on those grounds alone. However, replacing them with diesel traction meant a huge loss of domestically produced energy and its replacement by imports.
        Of course, had the government opted instead for electric traction, that would have required a large increase in the requirement for generated electricity, which, in those days, would have required more coal fired power stations. That this didn’t happen led, inevitably to a decline in the domestic coal market, such that consumption in the UK declined from 224 million tons per year in 1955 to 121 in 1977. Clearly the loss of all those steam engines was not the only reason for the decline in those figures but it must have had a major impact on the economics of coal production.

      • But Corbyn would not alter Ed Miliband’s ban on building any new coal fired generating capacity without “carbon capture” from the get-go. And as long as full cycle carbon capture – including the provision of accessible CO2 storage facilities – remains a pipe- dream, no one in their right mind is going to build new UK power plants to burn imported coal, let alone domestic production.
        The UK doesn’t have coal seams to compare with those being stripped in big open pits in the U.S., Oz, Indonesia, etc. And where there are good (for UK) seams near the surface their development is hindered by surrounding settlement.
        There is still coal underground that would be fit to work (and the picture given by one respondent of kit needing to be dismantled and rebuilt weekly is plain wrong – one the kit is installed, a long wall can operate for eighteen months).
        But no-one invests without a reasonable hope of a market for at least the period of production, and successive UK governments have embraced “green” energy policies which tax coal-fired electricity into oblivion in any case, another reason why new stations with “carbon capture” will never be built to use UK coal that will never be mined..

      • richardscourtney August 10, 2015 at 12:35 am
        ….(that was repeated by Richard Verney who added more untrue and irrelevant historical revisionism)…
        //////////////////
        I do not normally engage in debates of this nature, but what I said was true.
        1. Wilson closed more mines than Thatcher.
        2. Economic reality caught up with both Wilson and Thatcher.
        If you contend (as would appear from your remark cited above) that either or both of these statements is untrue, please cite your evidence, not your opinion. If you are unable to cite evidence then I would suggest that you withdraw your remark (as cited above) which is patently wrong and unjustified.
        You further state:
        “Your demand that I choose between the UK having either
        (a) a sensible energy policy based on indigenous energy economic supplies
        or
        (b) the NHS
        is on a par with your usual daft demands.
        I CHOOSE BOTH ”
        I make no such demands of you.
        To the extent that I make any demand of you, that is limited to you being truthful and objective, and should you have a chip then to leave that chip on your shoulder. I seek no more than that, as I would expect from all those who post articles or make comments on this site.
        Personally, I have no quarrel with (a); that makes sounds sense to me.
        Whether (b) is feasible in the long term or whether economic realities will catch up with the NHS with an ever aging population, more than half the UK receiving one form or another benefit/welfare payments and competing needs for government money taken by taxation to be spent on infrastructure due to a growing population, and the rise of the East in a global market is something that only time will tell. However, unless the UK adopts (a) it will inevitably exert ever increasing strains on the NHS and the budget available to support the NHS.

      • Economics of coal vs oil
        barrel of oil currently at $50 (£32) produces ~ 1600 kWh
        ton of coal ( £ ?) consumed at an electric power plant produces about 2000 kWh

      • >>gbaikie
        >>Sell the coal fields to whose who figure how to mine it economically.
        They are still there, available to anyone who can try. In fact, they are still closing down, because they cannot be made to pay. And nobody will try, because nobody has figured out how to make UK coal economic.
        I am all for coal and coal power, but UK coal cannot compete on the world market. So you do not have very many choices. You either:
        a. Cut yourself off from the world, like North Korea.
        b. Subsidise production, to compete in the world market.
        But if you go for option b. you also need to:
        a. Withdraw from the EU, because they have banned subsidies.
        b. Make good profits elsewhere in the economy, or risk the entire nation going bust (like North Korea).
        Richard Courtney is a Communist, who wants the UK to be like North Korea. But that is hardly the route to wealth and prosperity for the average worker.
        Ralph

      • >>Richard Courtney
        >>And followed that with comments which demonstrate
        >>you know nothing of mechanised mining in the UK.
        You have shown us nothing.
        Give us a surveyor’s report of a UK coalfield that has deep, consistent, unfractured seams, on a par with Australian or American seams.
        Put up, or shut up.
        .
        >>Richard Courtney
        >>And I pointed out that recent finds of coal under the
        >>North Sea alone are sufficient to power the UK for centuries.
        You have shown us nothing.
        Give us a surveyor’s report of a North Sea coalfield that has deep, consistent, unfractured seams, on a par with Australian or American seams.
        Put up, or shut up.
        Ralph

      • Wow, ralphellis, your ad hominems reveal the weakness of your arguments and mind. Laughing at you, cheers.

      • As an American reading this stream it is totally apparent why the Empire fell and what is happening in my country as well, Brits argue about everything and don’t care what works, in America it used to be someone would find what works and the market would drive it. Now like Britain we have to wait for the stupid political argument before we do anything.
        When did we start hating ourselves so much?

      • >>RD
        >>Wow, ralphellis, your ad hominems reveal the weakness
        >>of your arguments and mind. Laughing at you, cheers.
        It is not a weakness to ask for documentary evidence of an empty assertion. And neither is it an ad hominem to ask for documentary evidence of an empty assertion. You do know what an ad hominem is, I presume…
        I also presume that RD is a pseudonym for Richard Courtney, who cannot provide the evidence I asked for, and is running away from the question.
        Ralph

      • Corbyn just wants to open the coalmines to curry favour with the unions. However, this has annoyed his greenie friends as he has also claimed he wants to keep fossil fuel “in the ground”:
        http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-corbyn-could-bring-back-6213691
        He claims that coal-fired powered stations could be ‘carbon neutral’ – completely impossible without ridiculous carbon capture technology. He also wants to re-nationalise the power companies, something that could cost the UK Govt as much as £185 billion:
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/11791434/Jeremy-Corbyn-Labour-could-reopen-coal-mines-and-nationalise-gas-and-electricity-sector.html
        Back in the early 80s, Corbyn spent time hob-nobbing with the coal-mining unions who tried to hold the country to ransom, led by the odious Arthur Scargill. Scargill was a nasty piece of work, who tried to secretly funnel money from the Kremlin to the NUM (National Union of Miners):
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-448602/How-Scargill-begged-Kremlin-fund-miners-fight-Thatcher.html
        However, like all good socialists, Scargill hasn’t been afraid to embrace capitalism when it suits him. For years he has been living in an expensive central London flat, with the rent paid by the NUM. When the NUM wanted to stop this perk, Scargill attempted to purchase the flat by using the “right-to-buy” policy introduced by the Conservatives during his arch-enemy Margaret Thatcher’s time of office:
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10573027/Arthur-Scargill-tried-to-buy-his-London-council-flat-under-Tory-right-to-buy-scheme.html
        MCourtney seems to be taken in by Corbyn and his ridiculous brand of naive Marxism, but those on the moderate left quite rightly understand that Corbyn and his childish economic policies could spell the end of the Labour Party in the UK. One such person is Tony Blair’s old spin-doctor Alistair Campbell:
        http://www.alastaircampbell.org/blog/2015/08/10/nice-guy-good-mp-making-the-weather-but-it-has-to-be-abc-anyone-but-corbyn-labour-is-finished-if-he-wins/
        Socialism might seem like a good idea to the young, the gullible, the Green Party, and MCourtney, but it always fails when it “runs out of other people’s money” as Margaret Thatcher once famously declared. Corbyn is a figure of ridicule in the UK and conservatives such as myself are buying huge bags of popcorn, sitting back, and watching the Labour Party eat itself.

      • @ Ralph
        You say “Richard Courtney is a Communist, who wants the UK to be like North Korea. ”
        I say it’s weak ad hominem. Besides, you’ve lost the argument pretty badly.

      • ralfellis August 10, 2015 at 11:59 am
        You do know what an ad hominem is, I presume…
        >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
        Umm, ya I even took a class in logic LOL. Above you assert “Richard Courtney is a Communist, who wants the UK to be like North Korea.” Looks ad hominemy to me. With your aggressively ignorant style of argument you ought to be careful presuming too much there ralfellis. Cheers, RD

      • richard verney:
        You say to me

        1. Wilson closed more mines than Thatcher.
        2. Economic reality caught up with both Wilson and Thatcher.
        If you contend (as would appear from your remark cited above) that either or both of these statements is untrue, please cite your evidence, not your opinion. If you are unable to cite evidence then I would suggest that you withdraw your remark (as cited above) which is patently wrong and unjustified.

        I stated the facts when I replied to the multiply named ellis and to you by saying

        And your irrelevant political claptrap includes this nonsense (that was repeated by Richard Verney who added more untrue and irrelevant historical revisionism)

        Labour closed down many more coal mines than the Tories ever did. Why not blame Labour, eh?

        Labour closed many small mines (horses and men digging with picks) and concentrated production in fewer highly productive and profitable mechanised mines (longwall faces).
        The Tories closed the coal mining industry by shutting the productive and profitable mechanised mines. All mines eventually exhaust, but that is not relevant to the political issue (i.e. the Ridley Plan).

        And I object to your implication when you write saying to me

        To the extent that I make any demand of you, that is limited to you being truthful and objective, and should you have a chip then to leave that chip on your shoulder. I seek no more than that, as I would expect from all those who post articles or make comments on this site.

        My posts ARE truthful and objective.
        And my posts on the closure of the UK coal industry are knowledgeable.
        I was the Vice President of the British Association of Colliery Management (BACM) whose Members
        (a) elected me as BACM Vice President in each of five successive elections.
        and
        (b) were tasked with conducting the closure of the industry by application of the Ridley Plan.
        If you want to know about the closure of the UK coal industry industry then ask me and I will tell you what I can and I will say what I cannot. And don’t pretend that your historically revisionist political claptrap has any relationship to being “truthful and objective”.
        Richard

      • Silver ralph aka ralfellis aka &etc.:
        I never “run away” which is sometimes my strength and sometimes my weakness.
        I often reply to people such as your self then sit back and watch their self-defeating squirming. Simply, I refuse to engage with people declaring they are nutters by saying of me such ridiculous untruths as

        Richard Courtney is a Communist, who wants the UK to be like North Korea.

        My refusal is because I accept Napoleon’s advice that one should never interfere with an opponent when he is making a mistake.
        Another of your idiocies is your suggestion that I am RD and I answer it in defence of RD.
        No, Silver ralph aka ralfellis aka &etc., RD is NOT me. I always post under my own name and no other. As usual with your posts, your suggestion tells about you and nothing else.
        Richard

      • Mr Green Genes:
        There is some truth in your post because the electrification of the railway system was said to be “coal by wire” and the amount of such coal use was reduced by adoption of diesel-powered locomotives and natural gas as power station fuel.
        However, that effect was not significant. There was more than sufficient UK demand for UK coal which was the cheapest coal at the UK power stations (n.b. it had no subsidy).
        The history of UK energy policy is an important lesson for the UK and for others. The closure of the UK coal industry and the attempt to adopt wind and solar power to provide substantial electricity generating capacity were both adopted for purely political reasons. In both cases there are people who try to pretend the reasons were other than political.
        Richard

    • I like the very blunt and realistic comment in the last reference above
      ” The energiewende does manage to do some good by serving as a cautionary tale to the rest of the world: this is what happens when you let starry-eyed greens take the reins.”
      The same starry -eyed grens are leadin America’s energy plan astray

  1. I would ask those who defend the expense by citing the good done by reducing CO2 to define precisely what comprises that good and what the benefits are.

    • Yep – City problem #12:
      The citizens eventually discover the blatant lies of the Greens, that CO2 has little or nothing to do with atmospheric temperatures, their prognostications of doom never came true throughout the previous decades, the data tampering by major organisations to force the CO2 charade and all the money and jobs down the drain to destroy what was once a fundamentally well-working energy system.

  2. Problem #12: The country declares bankruptcy, thereby ending all subsidies to renewable energy sources. Since reliable forms of energy were phased out long ago and no money is available to bring them back to life, civilization reverts back to the Stone Age. Millions (billions?) of people die from starvation or exposure to the elements. Al Gore, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt as well as the rest of the indulgent bums declare “Mission accomplished.”

    • This has already been tested in Spain.
      The big funds lost money and now should understand the financial risk associated with subsidies.

      • Speaking of Spain, the CSP tower project (Palen Project) in California is sucking another Spanish corporation dry because the US government contribution is no longer in play.

        • from rogerknights link:

          Back to the village
          “In my opinion we can use solar PV energy, as far as it is available and we can afford it for specific applications,” says Prieto. But he now views solar PV systems as “non-renewable energy systems that can only capture a portion of the renewable energies temporarily.”
          Moreover there is no way solar power can sustain “our present wasteful way of living.”
          In Spain where nearly a quarter of the workforce sits idle and political unrest smolders in the cities, there is much talk about “La vida buena” or what the French call “decroissance” or degrowth.
          The grassroots movement is all about living better by consuming less and sharing more. Prieto suspects the future may be determined more by behavior change than by investments in renewables.
          “In general terms, I would suggest we make every possible effort to move towards a lower consumption and lower mobility society,” sums up the 62-year-old.
          “We need to deurbanize and localize as much as it is possible, and to return to the countryside, as much as it is possible, and to use more animal draft force.”

          A permanent Flaming Hippy festival, how could any one refuse? La Vida Buena. There you have it.

    • kamikazedave if that is Problem #12: then I guess problem #13 would be the population notices that temperatures are not going up or very possibly going down and come to realize that CO2 has so little effect to temperature they begin to wonder who fooled them to start the whole CO2 is bad campaign. Pitchforks, tar and feathers soon follow.

    • I have to say Dave, that I have recently been thinking that the whole “thinking” behind the AGW gang is that of global population reduction. Most of the folk I bump into elsewhere seem very concerned about consumption, food shortages, water shortages, land carrying capacity and so on. The AGW scare seems to be a means to an end other than climatic.
      This makes Barbara’s “Final Solution” quip quite apposite.

  3. Sounds about right… I’d only add regional conflicts as some regions try to dump their excess to the neighbor. Note Poland putting in powerflow limiting equipment at the German border…
    Gee, Germany getting mad at Poland, what could go wrong…

    • I believe that they altered the phase on their grid so that it was different to that in Germany and so prevented the Germans using their transmission infrastructure to transport their excess electricity to southern parts of Germany through Poland. That would stop them dead. It would be very exciting to see someone connecting high power out of phase AC from one grid to another!
      John

  4. Willmar, Minnesota…west central part of the state…cold country, obviously. My brother lives nearby in New London, and he kept me in the loop about Willmars foray into politically correct power generation.
    A few years ago the city erected 2 windmills. IIRC they were to supply power for an auditorium and some other city/county facilities. Anyway, they finish installation in late fall, it gets cold, windmills won’t turn. The generators had the wrong grease, and they froze up solid. Even after being retrofitted the next spring, they rarely turned. A multi-million dollar investment has become a local joke and sore spot with taxpayers. Of course, they’ve not worked as planned…electrically or financially.
    The really important information in this post is the acreage requirements necessary to erect these monstrosities. Now, exactly how much usable farm land do you suppose we’d need to produce even 10% of our total power needs? But, hey, it’s “green”. Who cares about trivial things like reliability and land use?

      • Turbines do need to turn, the weight of the blades will either slowly or quickly bend the shaft depending the design. If you leave them stalled in random positions the bends tend to cancel out, stalled in one position too long they will never turn again. Sometimes a windfarm will have turbines that are turning under electric power under calm or no wind just to avoid bent axle shafts.

      • Interesting, Paul. So the power generating windmills actually become power-consuming windmills sometimes when the wind isn’t blowing? I can see the day in the future when the entire electic output of (conventional) power plants will need to be used to maintain the windmills. The rest of you can just sit there in the dark. You can’t make this crap up, it’s too stupid on its very own.

      • Ed,
        AFAIUI all power stations consume some of their output (maybe 10%) internally, known as parasitic load. This is used to pump water, move fuel, energise electromagnets etc. To enable the power station to start up it has to drawn in this power (at least some of it) from the grid. For real power stations this is a transient event and so they do not measure the amount of external power that they consume.
        The same approach was taken on wind turbines of not measuring the amount of external power that they consume. However they may well consume some external power every day.
        So the figure for any given wind turbine is that overall it produces X% (10%? 20%?) of the nameplate value. However that figure s/b reduced by the external electricity it consumes but that cannot be done as noone actually know how much each wind turbine consumes.

      • Sometimes a windfarm will have turbines that are turning under electric power under calm or no wind just to avoid bent axle shafts.
        Oh my God. That is a new one on me. You have to use electricity to turn the darn blades! SOB!

      • The shafts do not bend on large windmills ! If they sit and do not rotate something happens in the main bearings of the drive shaft called brinelling. Brinelling can happen when a windmill does not rotate and the whole weight of the shaft and blades is resting on the stationary bearing for an extended length of time. The result is a permanent dent or “brinell mark” in the raceway of the bearing which leads to vibration and failure eventually !. A lot of US windmills have diesel generators attached to rotate the blades when there is no wind to avoid brinelling.

      • Bechtel built a $500m power generation plant in India which India refused to pay for when they realised the cost of natural gas had gone up (because of machinations in the industry reputedly by Enron trying to gain a monopoly on the US gas market – though I don’t know why that affected India so much). Anyway, long story short, the main turbines are mounted on very good bearings such that the huge thing can be turned by hand – and turned they must be, every few weeks.
        Unfortunately this was not done and the main shafts were left in one position for more than a year which permanently bent them beyond recovery. Mucho $ down the drain.
        Bechtel sued and eventually got paid. The plant is still standing.
        It would have been cheaper to put in solar panels.

    • There are a lot of problems with wind energy, but land use isn’t a significant one when done properly. Wind on ranches barely impacts production. The ranch owners love them. They make much more off the wind lease than they lose from cattle production impacts. Similarly, utility scale solar typically gets built on low value land.
      There are good and bad ways to apply any technology. My only objection is their preferential treatment through mandates, subsidies, market structures, permitting processes, and tax status.

      • Who pays for the lease? Cost effective…no way! It’s just like the ethanol boondoggle, but worse.
        Wildlife deaths are in the hundreds of thousands in the US alone.

      • Ric,
        I have gone to the WW1 Maginot Line in France, the WW2 German artillery bunkers at Point Du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Imperial japanese army bunkers on Okinawa. I simply could not imagine sitting in those looking out on an overwhelming army coming at me. The stupidity of an era. A generation of human effort and toil lost and wasted to time. UYet I also manned nuclear equipeed missiles in England as missile launch officer during the Reagan/Gorbachov Cold War of the early 80’s. Thankfully I did not have to do my trained job. But I could have and would have if the orders came.
        Sadly I have no doubt that our ancestors are going to look on those ridgelines, at the then rusting and quiet hulks, with their briar overgrown concrete bases, and ask, Theose construction workers, their bosses and the companies they work for build wind turbines because that is what they are seemingly supposed to do. Like a Japanese soldeir manning aisland bunker … as a pair of US marines with machine guns approaches with a flame thrower and ….
        Doing what they think they time and era called for them to do.
        Every age asks of the previos age:
        “What the Fu## were they thinking??!!”

      • Wind equals madness, really. Land use and subsidies are a huge problem, as is the devastating effect on our feathered friends. And they don’t generate much reliable power.

      • The subsidies are the problem, without them wind power will only be used when and where it makes sense.

    • Don’t forget how much wildlife the “wind machines’ kill too! Estimates in the US Bird/Bat populations are in the hundreds of thousands. The “Ivanpah” project Google set up in the Nevada/California desert literally fries a bird every two minutes. And that project too is requiring gas fired plants to keep it up to speed in the early morning and late afternoon. Google has categorically stated that Wind and Solar can NEVER make up for coal or gas or nuclear.

    • About half of what would be required to create (2) pumped storage ponds to ensure power 10 hours of backup power when those turbines quit turning.

    • http://www.Gridwatch.ca
      for Ontario, Canada.
      Note that it always show an export:import surplus which is sold to neighbouring USA states, Hydro Québec & Manitoba Hydro.
      Some say that this surplus is the result of Wind, but Wind often does Not produce (eg. summer breeze) and there’s still a surplus. Perhaps it’s because someone designed our 3 Nuclear generation plants (55-70% of our electricity) to Not be able to reduce production as can coal & gas!
      Note that Solar doesn’t yet show on http://www.Gridwarch.ca , despite ~8 years of FIT & microFIT programmes where the contract prices for solar production are often less than the peak spot market rate (business daytime).
      Ontario, like the UK, has taxpayer-paid Medicare. When the Ontario Liberals decided to close Nanticoke, the largest coal pollution point in North America, and bring in the Green Energy Act, they stated that they would save $3B /Year in Medicare costs. I’ll never know whether my mother’s Alzheimer’s death was caused by the Mercury in Nanticoke coal smoke, but asthma is better.
      Of course, electricity ratepayers now pay more & several companies have emigrated (they don’t need passports). Rates continue to climb at 5-8% /year so that home hybrid Renewables (Small Wind/Solar/Batteries) now bring ~10% ROI with No tax credits/subsidies.
      Unlike the USA, Canada hasn’t had an oil baron as ruler to introduce a 30% tax credit (matched by most USA states). George W Bush did this to create ‘Security of Supply’ and despite the usual Sociology of Established Groups and Disruptive Technology difficulties, Renewables are on the way to cleaning our environment, hopefully worldwide.
      => Note that all of this is independent of the scepticism surrounding CAGW. <=
      As well:
      – RE costs have declined dramatically since the 2008 Crash
      – Storage methods have risen from ~5 in 2006 to 50+ in 2013 (USA Dept of Energy). These range from Pumped Water (long-used at Niagara Falls) through various new batteries (Elon Musk, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan), to huge Compressed Air Underwater Balloons to be used in Lake Ontario to store surplus electricity at off-peak for use later at peak times (Hydrostor).
      Are there problems with all of this?
      You bet:
      – political promises (buying votes by moving natural gas generation from NIMBYs)
      – corruption (favouring friends for FIT contracts),
      – driving away business jobs & taxes
      – etc.
      But we're going to need Renewables to replace Nuclear as we retire our Ontario plants after only ~50 years of use with irregular, unexpected refits. Nuclear is:
      – unaffordable (always over-budget, plus original financing costs were hidden in Stranded Debt, & Refurbishing costs are hidden in the Wind & Solar FIT section of the Global Adjustment rate mechanism, making Wind & Solar look worse than they are.
      http://www.ieso.ca )
      – uninsurable (our PM Harper forced them to carry $500M liability limits in 2013, from $100M set in 1960; this is the expected settlement amount of the Lac Mégantic oil tankcar explosion)
      – undisposable/unstorable (they still don't know how to store a mere 50 years of radioactive spent fuel & demolished buildings for 10,000 to 300,000 years! Imagine building such equipment before solving this 'simple' problem. "Whom the gods will destroy, they first make proud.")

  5. The problem that trumps them all is that with electricity prices ‘necessarily’ skyrocketing, industry and the jobs it supports go abroad, but until the country is totally bankrupted demand for the products they produce continues. As the products are now being made in countries with less efficient energy production, the CO₂ emitted goes up, and that’s before you factor in the extra transport costs. Bottom line, massive costs for diddly squat benefits.

  6. Don.
    This is a must read for any level of government, bureaucrat, green energy dreamers and most important for the citizens who have to pay the bills through higher taxes, higher energy bills Etc..
    One thing to note this is actually happening in Canada’s largest province Ontario. The amount of government bullying , pressure and rule changes that restrict any kind of local descent against green policies, green at any cost is not the answer and in the end cost twice as much, it also epitomises a top down government approach – Our way or the highway!
    This is how 3rd world government act – only this is in North America . Im sure there are similar examples all over the USA and the world?

  7. “The city fathers decide to build another gas-fired plant to replace the coal plant.”
    ” plant operates in a near idle mode”
    Not going to happen. It costs way too much to build a power plant to have it run in “near idle mode.” Should renewables reach a significant portion of the supply, backup generation becomes financially impossible.

    • One would think. But in the “Green World”…… Germany has coal plants running 24/7 just waiting to balance the load. They run full tilt. Yes they get paid 3 or 4 times the previous rate just to be on standby. I understand they are building more. This is a war Obama wants to lead to see which country can produce power at the highest cost.

  8. UK name plate capacity for wind generated electricity is approximately 12GW.
    Average amount of electricity generated annually for years 2011, 2, 3, & 4 is less than 20% of that much vaunted 12GW or in other words 2GW and then on the usual sporadic basis and often hardly a thing for days at a time.

  9. I notice that for some strange reason Don doesn’t mention some of the standard answers to the questions he poses in his cautionary tale. “Storage” and what we here in the once Great Britain refer to as “Demand Side Management” and “Demand Side Response”.
    Why is that?

    • V2G Limited (@V2gUK)
      You ask:

      I notice that for some strange reason Don doesn’t mention some of the standard answers to the questions he poses in his cautionary tale. “Storage” and what we here in the once Great Britain refer to as “Demand Side Management” and “Demand Side Response”.
      Why is that?

      “Storage” is not possible because there is no method to do it at the required scale. If there is appropriate geology then some pumped storage would be possible but would be an additional cost that would not overcome any of the problems.
      “Demand Side Management” and “Demand Side Response” are addressed in the above article. They are covered by this

      City Problem #5. It is discovered that when the coal plant must be fired up to replace wind power that has suddenly diminished, it cannot come to power quickly enough to prevent brown-outs (voltage drops), even an occasional black-out (no power).

      People subjected to frequent brown-outs and black-outs respond to minimise the effects they experience.
      Richard

    • V2G Limited “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course storage is possible. Scale and cost are worthy of discussion, but not “impossibility”.
      Scale and cost are vital to implementing an erratic power addition to the grid from wind and solar. Supposedly some theoretical studies have been done showing that the if the whole North American grid were rebuilt as a “smart grid” it could be powered mostly by wind and solar power. The cost would be immense making electricity prices “necessarily sky rocket”. The smart grid requires virtually all power users attached to the grid be controlled by it and be designed and fitted to be controlled in such a way that the supplied power can be stabilized- so your air conditioner, refrigerator, stove, will be turned up and down by the power company as needed, same for electric heat.
      The power losses associated with long distance transmission are higher. Currently long distance losses range from 6-10% over distances well under 1200km. These losses will rise significantly when power will be shifted routinely 3-4000 km.
      The grid will still require a large fraction of power supplied by coal, gas, or nuclear both for base load and infilling where required.
      None of this is impossible, just seriously complicated and more expensive than the current methods.
      “Likewise with problem #5. Firing up a “coal plant… to replace wind power that has suddenly diminished” is a ridiculous suggestion. FYI here’s the DoE’s “Demand Response 101″: The DOE article is typical government fudge speak or political propaganda. They blithely assume that demand response pricing will result in automatic load leveling at minimal cost. the only way to do that is for every company and every person working to change their working hours and when they do routine tasks(laundry, meals, etc) so there aren’t any big load peaks. It will never happen since most people work best in teams during day light and sleep best at night in the dark.
      The article also assumes that millions of separate pieces of equipment can be centrally and reliably controlled without additional costs to production, people, or equipment.

      • Phil,
        DSM currently costs $4 per appliance up front, and zero thereafter:
        http://www.amazon.com/Sylvania-SA048-Lamp-Appliance-Timer/dp/B00EJQSJFO/
        As was pointed out to me on LinkedIn recently:
        Consider the inherent dispatchability of the largest type of existing home energy storage – electric water heating. Which today can be estimated at ~5 TWH / mo of dispatchable energy and another ~100 GW of theoretical peak dispatchable power.
        The marginal cost to utilize these resources is close to zero and there are zero technological or regulatory barriers to their utilization.

      • V2G Limited (@V2gUK):
        I have NOT resorted to ad homs.
        You have not cited any method for electricity storage at adequate scale.
        Your sales pitch for wind powered and solar powered subsidy farms complained that the above article made no mention of “storage”. As I said, it was not mentioned because there is no known method to do it.
        I again repeat
        “Storage” is not possible because there is no method to do it at the required scale. If there is appropriate geology then some pumped storage would be possible but would be an additional cost that would not overcome any of the problems.
        Your sales pitch is not good enough to convince people who read WUWT that your snake oil is worth the cost.
        Richard

    • V2G Limited (@V2gUK):
      It seems that you are yet another anonymous troll attempting to sell the ‘snake oil’ of expensive, intermittent and unreliable energy supplies.
      I had said to you

      “Storage” is not possible because there is no method to do it at the required scale. If there is appropriate geology then some pumped storage would be possible but would be an additional cost that would not overcome any of the problems.

      Those statements are true and you have not provided any example of any method for storage at the required scale. Indeed, if you knew of such a method then you would make a fortune from it because it could be used to reduce need for power stations to provide peak demands.
      You responded with twaddle and I said in total

      I told you that “I am NOT being “ridiculous” but you are as Phil Cartier explains in part to you”.
      Please take my reply as being my suggestion that you read his response to you and try to understand it.

      The “in part” refers to him not mentioning storage.
      But you have replied

      Phil tells me “None of this is impossible”
      Q.E.D? Richard,

      Don’t be daft. Phil was referring to the ‘demand side’ points he discussed.
      There are no methods to conduct the required storage at the required scale; none, zilch, nada. Make a fortune from your invention of such a method or try to sell your unreliables ‘snake oil’ elsewhere.
      Richard

  10. You might have also added the problem that bats are being chopped up by the wind turbines, causing increases in insect population and a resulting loss of income from surrounding farmers.

  11. City problem #12
    Knurled Widgets Inc is the largest employer in the city, employing 18,000 people making essential components for the auto and aerospace industries. But the manufacturing is energy intensive, and costs have gone through the roof.
    Knurled Widgets Inc moves the entire operation to China, where it can source cheap coal-fired energy and cheaper labour. Profits at Knurled Widgets Inc soar, but 17,000 of its workers are made redundent, as are 22,000 workers at local suppliers. Worse of all, another 34,000 workers are made unemployed in sevice industries, everything from local supermarkets to local garages, who find spending in the town is greatly reduced since these high-value jobs and incomes were lost.
    The city fathers then discover that local taxes have decreased by 20%, while spending on welfare has doubled. In short, the city can no longer service the huge windpower debts, or the equally huge wind subsidies. And so the city goes bankrupt, and the entire civil administration of the city ceases. After a week without a viable police force, there is widespread looting and arson, with many suburbs now no-go areas. After thousands of the most vulnerable citizens die from a multitude of causes, the National Guard is called in to restore order, and the city effectively becomes a police-state.
    However, all is not lost. The military, being pracrical adults rather than idealistic children, identify the core problem in the city, and order a huge new coal-fired power station to be built ASAP. After ten years of instability, order and prosperity are finally resored to the city. And the new power station is christened “The Phoenix” to celebrate the rebirth of the city.
    And they all lived happily ever after….
    The End

      • You are probably right.
        Unfortunately, once an industry has moved to China, it will be a devil of a job to get it back. Corporations get used to the low Chinese wages, and lack of industrial action. Besides all the necessary skills and motivation have been lost in the US. And then US universities pride themselves in training more Chinese students, so they can continue to steal yet more industries.
        Is the West suicidal?

      • How about this (increasingly hypothetical) ending…
        Frustrated citizens throw the city fathers and managers out, and replace them with fiscally competent people. The new managers recognize that it’s cheaper to purchase excess green power from the surrounding municipalities, often at distressed prices (sometimes even “negative” prices), than it is to generate their own. With green municipalities paying you to take their excess power, the city rebuilds and the citizens get rebates on their electricity bills.
        The End.
        (Yeah, I know it’s goofy. But hey, the greens seems to be living in a through the looking glass world so, who knows?)

    • I’d amend…. The military, being practical adults under the super vision of children, bring in the Corp of Engineers and build a big power dam, drowning several square miles of productive bottom land — and several hundred wind turbines, But at least now there is reliable power to serve a devastated, once proud to the point of audacity, city.
      — Until the next drought.

    • When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion. When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing.
      When you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours. When you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you.
      When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.
      Ayn Rand 1957

  12. The wrong type of grease ……. sounds like the wrong type of leaves on the line ? …… the slow train to power cuts !!!

  13. That story has already played out in the province of Ontario in Canada. However, the large city governments and the provincial politicians think that all is just fine. The large cities have liberal governments and a liberal (Liberal) government is in power provincially. They see nothing wrong with the various scenarios since they have foisted all the wind turbines and solar plants on the rural population. Further they force higher taxes and energy rates on the rural populations to pay for everything.
    Out of site — out of mind. (in more ways than one…)
    Go figger!

  14. The second paragraph implies that the city fathers think 525 M-watt rated capacity of towers ought to replace 500 M-watt of coal. I could not suspend my disbelief. If this has happened some place, can we get a reference?
    Ellensburg, Washington (USA) officials used some of the city’s money and other people’s money (OPM) in an “experiment” and installed 5 small different-looking turbines but the monitoring of energy produced never worked. If there was a return on investment, no one knows. Then, a moderate wind blew one of the towers over.
    https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/05/01/wind-topples-turbine-in-ellensburg/
    With no OPM available, fixing the issue (cost unknown) would have been up to the local taxpayers. 5 months later the City passed a vote and soon all the towers were gone – and not a word since.
    http://www.dailyrecordnews.com/members/city-of-ellensburg-removing-wind-turbines/article_75e8100a-3da1-11e3-95d2-0019bb2963f4.html

    • Very telling: “Assuming 20 years of financing for a turbine with no interest or operating costs, the best turbine produced power at an average cost of 90 cents per kilowatt hour. The going retail rate for residential power customers in Ellensburg is 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

      • Excerpts from “The Law Complete” by C. Northcote Parkinson, chapter 14 on Palsied Paralysis:
        The first sign of danger is represented by the appearance in the organization’s hierarchy of an individual who combines in himself a high concentration of incompetence and jealousy. … The next or secondary stage in the progress of the disease is reached when the infected individual gains complete or partial control of the central organization. … If the head of the organization is second-rate, he will see to it that his immediate staff all all third-rate; and they will, in turn, see to it that their subordinates are fourth-rate. … The institution is for all practical purposes dead. It can be found afresh, but only with a change of name, a change of site, and an entirely different staff.

    • A turbine shouldn’t fall in those winds. There was case in the UK when two hotly-contested turbines fell one after the other in moderately strong winds. They were of the type with the tower externally bolted to a base, and it would seem they were given a little help with a spanner.

  15. The future problem of more frequent brown and black outs will be the greatest In North America during extreme power peaks like January / February and again July / August. This is the period when most areas have their peak sustained load and the ability to purchase from the grid will be more limited . It will be more of a problem for those states where significant component of their existing coal generated power is being replaced by mostly renewables . It will get worse as the renewables are mandated to be 28% or double the current levels. US in 2013 had 61.1 GW of wind capacity, second to China’s 91.4 GW. If this is to doubled by 2030, the level will be close to 120,000 GW . What happens when there is little wind ?. Where are you going to buy this level of back up support ? At what price ?. What is the impact on the people and the economy .? In my opinion it is totally wrong to replace base load power with renewables . Renewables because of their intermittent power output ( only 25 % of the time) should not be considered as replacement power but only additional power . Older coal fired plants should not be replaced by wind or solar but by only modern coal , gas or geothermal Our problem is that the technology choices are being dictated by alarmist politicians and climate scientist not power generators or grid operators as they used to be.

  16. There is an interesting and somewhat sceptic look at the energy costs and energy payback time for Si based PV units at Science of Doom:
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/08/03/renewables-ii-solar-and-free-lunches/
    It attempts a quantitative analysis of the costs , in energy terms , of the manufacture and siting of solar units , compared to the return. Some of the figures are surprising , eg the cost of Si single crystal manufacture and slicing , for those not involved in semiconductor manufacturing . The figures are based on a 5 year old academic report so may have been overtaken by improvements.
    Needless to say the payback times (without the energy credits back to the grid), of 5- 20years depending on location are vigorously debated in the comments that followed.
    It seems that the approaching summit is focusing attention on not just the climate science , but also the financial and general economic penalties that are almost certain to impact the taxpayers of US, UK , Eu , Canada and Australia.

  17. Here in New England, states like Connecticut and Massachusetts are willing to pay so much for RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) but so unwilling to build wind projects that that contract with developers in New Hampshire and Maine to build wind projects and sell them the electricity.
    Meanwhile, local towns get talked into accepting “PILOT” programs (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) based on something like half the cost of the turbines because that’s still a financial windfall. However, the state’s valuation is a full value, and that sets the county tax rate and homeowners tax rates go up anyway.

  18. I suspect one or more of the irate farmers, forced to lease their land or otherwise lose it to eminent domain, due to these wind monsters, discover newly unearthed tar pits. Meanwhile, those same farmers, and ripped off electrical consumers, and squeezed dry taxpayers, all get together and begin to pluck feathers from all the sliced and diced bird carcasses at the bases of those wind monsters. The city fathers, hoping that the citizens they allegedly served would accept living in the 1800s discover that they themselves would also have to accept an unappealing aspect of the 1800s – being tarred and feathered.

    • It might even start a new fad? Instead of “cow tipping”, it would be “wind mill tipping”…..:-)

  19. Not fiction. Not fiction at at all.
    http://i57.tinypic.com/e04zd2.png
    Sadly, it extends far beyond GE. Billionaire crony-capitalist Elon Musk’s ventures for sure are in on the action. As well as the green hedge funds, run or invested in by the of Tom Steyer and his ilk. Meanwhile they they host $32,000/plate fund raising dinners for the Worst Presiden ever, so the he can fly AF1 out to California for a few million into his OFA SuperPAC. Then they complain about Koch private money in superPACs, while the green crony capitalists money comes from soaking taxpayers.
    Go figure.

    • I love the way the put up World Wide profits of $14 billion, as if GE was supposed to pay US taxes on profits earned in say, Europe. Also no mention of taxes paid elsewhere.

  20. Was the writer thinking of Austin when they wrote this? Maybe. Maybe not. Austin still gets a good deal of power from the south Texas nuclear project. Re wind power, Texas has a lot (10Gw?). BTW, We have G Bush, R Perry, and Ken Lay to ‘thank’ for our wind ( see master resource blog). Lots of people show their greenness with solar rooftops. I try not to get discouraged by all this…

  21. I’m not a AGW supporter, but you left out an important option.
    Instead of building a second Natural Gas plant, the city fathers decide to buy batteries capable of holding 6 hours of coal plant production. The batteries cost the same as a new Natural Gas plant, but it allows the Coal plant to run for extended periods once it is turned on thus reducing the wear and tear somewhat.
    Also, when the wind blows too hard, they first use the excess to fully charge the battery, then they shutdown the coal plant. If after shutting down the coal plant they still have too much power, they shutdown the natural gas plant. When the battery gets low enough they fire the natural gas plant back up until the battery is fully charged.
    The end result is:
    – no wasted electricity being dumped
    – all available wind power is leveraged
    – the coal and natural gas plants run at optimum loads during the times they are running
    fyi: MWh batteries are on the market now. New generation ones from Tesla and EOS will likely be in the market a year from now. 6MWh of the EOS batteries are being pre-sold now at $1M for 6MWh. Thus a 6 hour capable battery is the same price as a natural gas turbine.
    Obviously the city still spent the same capitol cost as in your story, but they are much more efficiently using that wind power to reduce fuel usage (and CO2 generation).

    • What the city fathers should do Mothball the coal and gas power plants, and rent or buy a pair of Russian nuclear subs. (if they have a river drive them up that, otherwise truck them by road) Then plug them in to the grid, voila problem (sort of) solved.
      I’m not sure if this is Sarc.
      michael

    • GFM, see my post on Intermittent Grid Storage over at Climate Etc (Dr. Judith Curry). Or read essay California Dreaming in my ebook. The most charitable perspective is that you are sadly uninformed on these matters.

        • Batteries also require regular maintenance.

          But they are only a chemical means of energy storage – And that only by an ineeficient series of multiple, also-needing-maintenance-and-replacement, short-lifetime ADDITIONAL processes. Thus, you generate electricity. Once.
          Then you lose energy transmitting that high-volt electrical energy to the battery site. 98 – 96% efficient.
          Transferring it to high-energy-dc-voltages and very-high dc currents. 85-90% efficient.
          then to low energy chemical reactions. 70-85% efficient.
          It stays as low energy chemicals for a while.
          You convert it back to low-voltage dc, high-amperage dc currents from chemicals. 70-80% efficient.
          You convert it back to high energy ac currents and very high voltages. 90-95% efficient perhaps.
          You transmit that high energy ac back into the same high energy ac energy that you started with back at the same location!
          With a LOT more low lifetime chemical residue and contamination STILL being added to the world’s waste streams.
          Wasted HV and low volt cabling and transmission fabrication, purchase, and installation. Wasted copper, steel, concrete and manpower that could be building roads, dams, sewer pipes and refrigerators and lightbulbs and useful materials.

    • greg, you have miscalculated badly. You are going to have to buy enough batteries to replace the output of the windmills for a week or so, and then use the output of the coal plant to charge them up.
      Of course you’re going to lose between 5 to 15 percent of your available power charging and discharging those batteries, so your already bad economics gets worse.

    • I believe that a newspaper would paint such a pretty picture, but never an engineer. You can’t turn coal and gas plants on and off. A coal plant will suffer millions in damage. They can be throttled back a bit, but not much. Natural gas is a bit more flexible, though not a great idea. Nuclear is best at load balancing. Nothing to date can instantly load balance. The batteries you speak of take a little over 8 hours to fully charge. They will run about 6 hours. You just lost 25% of your load. So if batteries cost the same as a natural gas turbine, how many sets of batteries will be needed to last as long as one gas turbine? As I recall, Austin has become quite progressive. My son is a petroleum engineer living in Midland. He designs the fracking process for quite a few wells out that way. I hope no state money went into this genius idea. He pays enough taxes.

    • “Instead of building a second Natural Gas plant, the city fathers decide to buy batteries capable of holding 6 hours of coal plant production.”
      Engineers who design systems with tomorrows products usually end up unemployed.
      Jus’ sayin’

  22. This sound very credible to me. Not based on the specifics but knowing how “city fathers” act. Here in Sarasota Florida, they have been unable to build a traditional sewer lift station for that was started four years ago, the project was supposed to take six months, they still can decide on a new design after they learned the old design wouldn’t work.

  23. This is why Elon Musk is working on storage. A good chunk of these problems are solvable with relatively cheap storage.
    I didn’t say he would succeed in making the price reasonable. I only say that he’s working on the correct problem. I’d strongly prefer if he did it without my tax dollars.
    Peter

    • Musk is NOT working on storage fundamentals. He is hyping his heavily subsidized ‘gigafactory’. Guest post Intermittent Grid Storage at Climate Etc. covers Powerwall plus all the other technical bases.

    • The big question is, will a revolution in energy density occur before a revolution in cheap energy?

    • Don’t I recall that Hitler was also working on that problem?
      If you didn’t experience it 32 volt light had its points – and its down sides

    • “A good chunk of these problems are solvable with relatively cheap storage.”
      Preposterous. There is nothing to store.

    • “social disruption”
      Isn’t “social disruption” another problem alarmists claim will be caused by climate change, along with “climate disruption”? It may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Climate change won’t cause it, but the switch to renewables driven by alarmist fear mongering very well could.

  24. Renewables account for 14.8% or 171 000 MW of the US total electrical capacity of 1,151,812 MW in 2013 . So if the renewables are to go to 28 % of the total capacity by 2030, there will have to be a doubling of the renewable capacity or additional renewable power of at least 171,000 MW for a total of about 340,000 MW by 2030 . During the 5 years 2008-2013, the last period for which data exists, about 51,424 MW of renewables capacity was added. So in the next 15 years , they should be capable to add another 171,000 mw based on the most recent experience . I understand that about 25,246 MW of coal generated power will be phased out due to new regulations and obsolete plants . Germany’s renewables capacity is about 29.4 % of their total capacity , but their overall capacity is only about 177,000 MW in 2012 and wind and solar renewables account for a about 72,000MW , much smaller than that for US . Europe is 30 % in 2012 for renewables with an overall capacity of about 1,075 000 MW So it is much more easier for Germany to purchase back up power from a grid that is 6 times bigger than they are. Germany is already having problems with their smaller grid with almost 3000 grid adjustments / In North America , US is 85 % of the grid so the ability to purchase out side is more limited . Canada’s total capacity is only 135 000 MW their outside sales capacity is relatively small. For example in Ontario , Canada’s biggest province ,. the forecasted capability at winter peak load is 28,000 MW, the total installed capacity is 33771 MW ., thus limited surplus capacity.


    • So it is much … easier for Germany to purchase back up power from a grid that is 6 times bigger than they are.

      This is what Germans might call their energy “Liebensraum”.

    • Is that “nameplate” capacity or actual produced power? Assuming for the moment that it’s all wind, and based on Great Britain’s experience, we can expect that the best you’ll get out of that is about 24,000 MW of effective capacity.

    • Jeepers Herk, I read these numbers in your comment and I realise just how gigantic the US economy is. Well done America I say, that is truly awesome.

  25. There is an excellent article in Forbes titled “The Clean Power Plan Will Collide With The Incredibly Weird Physics of the Power Grid” by Mark Mills. It captures in one read that the Clean Power Plan is a goal that cannot be reached even if you wish to fall on the sword of loss of efficiency for solar and wind. Not just more expensive…unobtainable. As far as this fictional write up I think there is a little too much confidence expressed in the dissatisfaction of the voters to set things right. If the alternative is between the devil and the deep blue sea the voters will pick wrong every time!

  26. City problem #12
    Guy and his friends start investigating the energy properties of finely ground charcoal, sulfur and an alkali metal nitrate possibly with the addition of finely ground aluminium. They also investigate tunneling under the local Palace of Wishfulthinkers as an ideal place to conduct their experiments.
    Roll on the 5th
    p.s. irony alert for the slow.

  27. City Problem #12: ” the inability to obtain additional natural gas as the only pipeline into the area is already fully subscribed due to the other cities building extra combined cycle or combustion turbine plants to cover the wind and solar derates.”
    HT to a commenter to my linking to this WUWT over at the Navy Nuke Facebook Page. He wrote “As a generation planning analyst, this article hits the nail squarely on the head. The only part that is missing is the inability to obtain additional natural gas as the only pipeline into the area is already fully subscribed due to the other cities building extra combined cycle or combustion turbine plants to cover the wind and solar derates.”

  28. For sure, we need some new technology.
    We can get an idea of what may be in the offing by looking at the fringes, in this case places beyond the grid. Alaska is seriously looking at ammonia as an energy currency. link
    The pilot project was started in 2013 so we should soon see results. In fact it’s a bit worrying that we haven’t heard the project’s success trumpeted by now.

  29. “City Problem #9. However, when the wind blows hard and extra wind power is produced, the city fathers discover that surrounding cities, which by now also have converted heavily to wind power, often also have too much wind power and are not in the market for any more. The city cannot sell its unused power, and having no way to store the extra power, must simply “dump” it unused.”

    No one would want to add to Problems, but there are a few more Honorable Mentions:
    The city gets an education in Constraint Payments to worthless windturbine owners. These are ostensibly payments for turning off turbine supply, payable at several times the going electricity rates.
    The city gets an education in futiility, when it adds fleets of electric cars, totally arbitrarily increasing demands, as supplies become intermittent and prices become volatile.
    The children get an education. Common Core Occupational Education trains unsuspecting youth that some of them must become Turbine Cowboys, who work at dizzying heights to repair worthless wind turbines.
    When shortages, rising costs, and disruptions occur, the gullible hipsters who are used to economic and social stability realize this is not what they were told by the sly grey progressive foxes (b1942-1960) about renewables. They complain that the poor are being hit worst, including many of them. So the sly grey progressive foxes say, “My my, how right you are. We will put everyone on an energy-use tier system and ration use and cost so its FAIR FAIR FAIR!”
    The hipsters break their arms patting themselves on the back and a caste system is created in the USA.

  30. I am pretty confident the idiots are in charge of things. Depressing, I know, but in charge. You should probably plan on buying a good backup generator just for the power interruptions and brownouts.

  31. One more Honorable Mention:
    The plants in the city would be unable to process ores and perform other high temp/intensive energy tasks under this regime.

    • If you cannot smelt ores to create a wind turbine using all wind power, then it is not renewable. And it is not sustainable, in the true sense of the word.

  32. Here’s what’s happened in Ontario:
    1. Actual and predicted electricity cost increases have made it easier for manufacturers to source from China.
    2. Goods which used to be produced in Ontario with clean nuclear and hydro power are now made with coal generated energy.
    3. These goods are shipped back to Ontario half way around the world on diesel powered ships.
    4. Global emissions have increased significantly.
    5. Ontario has lost jobs and taxes.
    6. Ontario government proudly celebrates reduced local emissions.
    Insane.

    • Political Junkie
      I think there are a couple of clarifications needed:
      The ships burn bunker fuel which has higher CO2 emissions than diesel.
      I don’t think Ontario reduced CO2 emissions. Someone is fibbing if they are relating it to ‘energy policy’.
      They have definitely invested pointless billions in PV and wind boondoggles, but those boondoggles did not reduce CO2, overall. Those technologies have to be built, transported, installed, maintained, connected and decommissioned . The CO2 involved is greater than any ‘offset’.
      From a systems point of view, I can’t see how they produce power, on a net basis. They cannot function on the grid without building a power station to go with them (like the cancelled Oakville plant now being build again in Napanee). That CO2 and energy has to be included in the system analysis. There is no reduction I can find. Any reduction in Ontario is because of the general downturn in business.
      The PV system proposed for Napanee:
      http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/solar-flares-how-renewable-energy-is-raising-hackles-in-rural-ontario-and-across-canada
      will provide electricity (some, at least) for $0.275 per kilowatt hour, or 10 times the price of power from Darlington.

  33. interesting that no one to this point has addressed the issue that the impact on global temperature is less than 0.02C, i.e. not measurable.

    • Of course, Marty, we have to calculate the billions of dollars needed to support elimination of 0.01C!!! And Sea-Level rise is the major cause of fear. Of course, in the Gulf of Maine (tectonically inert, BTW), Sea-Level is identical today with that directly (Tide Gauge) measured in 1947. Ups and downs over the years, but Identical, the same, no change, congruent, etc., etc., “ad nauseum.”
      Worry not, folks! As long as EPA insists that you do NOT need to see the data which their proposed regulations are based upon, you can stay in the dark. And when their proposals achieve their end results, you will BE in the dark, ’cause the grid will be down for the count!!!
      Hats off to Don B. for enlightening the world, while we still have lights that go on when we throw the switch!

    • We all know that wind and solar do not reduce CO2 emissions to any measurable extent because of the need for back up and this includes (or should include) politicians and the green lobby group and salesman..
      Wind on average may produce about 25% of its nameplate capacity suggesting that it can supply the grid with 25% of its needs thereby reducing CO2 emissions by 25%, but that is not so. Often when it can produce the power it is not needed, and because of the need for back up, the back up is either running continuously ie., capable of supplying 100% of grid capacity thereby producing 100% of its normal operating CO2 emissions, or it is being used in ramp up/ramp down mode which is very inefficient such that it consumes as much fossil fuel in this mode of operation as if it had instead been running continuously at normal full power operating mode. Once again, in the ramp up/ramp down mode of operation, the back up is producing as much CO2 as had the back up been used to supply 100% grid capacity.
      By the time one takes account of the CO2 consumed in manufacture of the wind turbines, in transporting to site, in erecting (large concrete foundations are required and concrete produces a lot of CO2 in manufacture), site preparation and constructing service roads, coupling to the grid etc there is no significant CO2 reduction at all.
      This is the problem with renewables; they do not result in the significant reduction of CO2. This is an obvious and patent fact that any school child of around 14 ought to readily appreciate.
      So if one were concerned about CO2 emissions (which I am not but which some people are), constructing windfarms achieves nothing of substance, and only produces unreliable and expensive energy. Solar in one or two places may have a role particularly in sunny low latitude climes where peak demand for electricity coincides with mid afternoon sun, but in most places it too does not achieve its primary goal of reducing CO2 because of the need for conventionally powered back up to cover the situation when the sun does not shine or clouds and weather patterns interrupt the incoming solar.
      The only form of energy production that produces near zero CO2 emissions is nuclear. Switching from coal to gas is a short term halfway house, but going nuclear is the only option if the goal is to reduce significantly CO2 emissions in the production of energy/electricity/power.
      However, planet Earth is a water world on which all life is carbon based and the plant variety (upon which all land based life relies) requires CO2 for its very existence. burning fossil fuels produces water and CO2, and given the nature of the world in which we inhabit there is nothing to dislike about that. Burning fossil fuels provides the 2 ,of the important ingredients for life on planet Earth What’s there not to like about that.
      And if by some lucky chance it produces some warming then that is a real bonus since planet Earth is too cold. Life likes warmth and wet conditions and abhors cold arid conditions and that is why most bio diversity can be found in warm wet conditions such as tropical rain forests and least bio diversity in cold arid conditions such as the Antarctic plains.
      We are not wearing clothes because of modesty. The reason why we wear clothes and not just a loin cloth is because most of planet Earth is far too cold for the human species to survive and it is only our ability to adapt ourselves (by putting on clothes) or to adapt our environment by building homes/shelter and fires (central heating) that we are able to inhabit the majority of the planet. But for that unique skill humans would be restricted to very few places on planet Earth.
      It is noteworthy that there are no major metropolis in cold climes, and that is because we as a species (just like nearly all other species) do not like the cold.
      Planet Earth would be much better for all if it was several degrees warmer. So however, one looks at it, the clean (scrubbing) burning of fossil fuels is a good thing, and if by some lucky chance it was to lead to some warming (and presently there is no hard evidence that it does) that would be an added bonus.

      • Richard , i agree .
        When people ask me what i think of global warming , my standard reply : I like warm and i am as near the equator my money would take me , how bout you ?

      • We know renewables don’t reduce CO2 because oil, gas, and coal production have not fallen. If governments were the tiniest bit serious about reducing CO2 they’d all agree to put a cap on fossil fuel production. It is really that simple. Those bureaucrats are not interested in losing tax revenue secondarily to losing their jobs, so they’re keeping the taxable fossil fuels around to keep going what industry is still alive while they pander to the green votes to keep their jobs. Greens, if you’ve noticed, are bad at math and don’t understand they’re being used.
        We know with certainty the Obama government isn’t interested in energy roll-backs because he’s turned the US into an open borders nation. Those new voters need homes, hand-outs, a leg up, and all the generosity a government can shed on a new voter demographic. That takes energy and renewables can’t keep up. It’s a con.
        Keep this in mind – all energy storage systems are net consumers of power. That is a form of tax and a waste of energy. Why are we doing this? The madness is driving down the quality of life we’re owed because of our lifelong investments in affordable energy. That affordability is being stolen without any rational justification. Where is the outrage?

  34. This it what theoretical Green has to learn. For get about the Climate extremists though, they are so happy with themselves about being “Right” that they don’t want to hear or see anything else.
    If not it is going to be a similar learning by trial and error process for various countries and states, Denmark, Germany and California in the lead ha,ha ha.

  35. having no way to store the extra power, must simply “dump” it unused.
    ===================
    you can’t simply “dump” power anymore than one can dump the excess water from a river. if you could, wholesale power rates would not go negative when there is too much power available. when there is more power than needed, power companies have to PAY to produce power.
    windmills on the other hand get paid to produce power, even when there is already too much.

    • actually you can dump power.
      Into cooling systems or the atmosphere, with a thermal system anyway.
      With renewables you just feather the turbines or let the solar panels sit in the sun and don’t draw power

      • With renewables you just feather the turbines or let the solar panels sit in the sun and don’t draw power
        ============
        Why would any business in their right mind do this? With FIT programs for renewable’s they are guaranteed a price regardless of demand. So you would only feather the windmills because of excess wind, not excess power.
        In the case of solar and wind, if you are making power you are going to keep producing power regardless of demand, forcing wholesale prices down during peak periods until they are negative, driving baseline load systems out of business because largely they cannot respond quickly to fluctuating demand.
        The existing power system works only because the price mechanism ensures that generating systems will shut down when supply exceeds demand. As soon as you isolate renewable’s from the pricing mechanism as is done via FIT, there is no reason for them to shut down, even if they burn out the entire grid.

  36. You left stuff out.
    Since the second gas plant was not in use very often, it was decided to save costs by building a cheap open cycle gas turbine. These burn far more gas per unit electricity generated.
    It was then discovered that the total emissions of the renewable energy plus intermittently utilised OCGT gas turbine actually exceeded those of the coal plant it replaced.

  37. This sounds suspiciously like Canberra. The Labor party needs the Greens votes so much that they will do anything, no matter how stupid, to keep them on side. A solar power farm in the middle of the suburbs? Yes, master. Another wind farm (in the middle of NSW, talk about long-distance power), yes master. And yet it is still impossible to vote the stooges out.

    • Augh, forgot to mention the stupid tram that isn’t a tram. A tram shares the road with cars, so you get double the benefit from a single infrastructure cost. But our government can’t do that, because it inconveniences the bicyclists. So, it is building the tram lines on dedicated land. Like a railway. All the combined disadvantages of a tram and a railway, with none of the benefits.

  38. Some more interesting new facts about renewables in Germany . Wind and solar electrical capacity now account in 2015 for about 78,000 MW or 40% of their total electrical capacity of 180,730 MW . However in 2014 they generated only 16 % of their electricity . Most of the load was still carried by coal , gas and nuclear . In 2015 the conventional generators of coal , natural gas and nuclear are still generating 25 to 33 TWh per month while wind is mostly around 5 with occasional 5-10 TWh per month and solar is less than 5 TWh per rmonth. So wind and solar combined despite being 40 % of the capacity are only generating about 20-25 % of the power. All that wasted renewable’s capacity doing nothing but draining money and driving up costs. Where Germany is smart is that they are not shutting down their coal or gas plants as US is doing but converting from nuclear to coal even more.

  39. The problems with so-called “renewables” or “green” energy are numerous indeed. The idiocy of shutting down perfectly good plants producing (relatively) cheap, reliable power in favor of the opposite is mind-boggling. Indeed, one has to wonder, “is mankind getting dumber”?
    One other problem of many, which I don’t believe was mentioned, is that people, and those businesses remaining (who may be unable to move elsewhere) are forced to purchase and use generators for times of blackouts or brownouts. And generators, as we all know, are far less efficient, far more expensive, and far more polluting (both the real and faux pollution, CO2). They can also be quite noisy. So, you can add the prospect of increased levels of smog to the woes of the city.

  40. When the wind blows too hard, you don’t always get surplus energy which has to be dumped. The reality is, of the wind blows to hard or is too gusty (rapidly changing direction) the windmills will shut down to protect themselves from being damaged. Times of high wind are often times of low solar as well – leaving entire states out in the cold during a severe winter storm.

  41. I believe we will continue with this idiocy for some time yet. Ultimately, there should be a major commission of inquiry into engineering of these systems. An inquiry into the collapse of the Quebec Bridge over the St. Lawrence River in 1907 while under construction formed a foundation of such inquiries worldwide. Canadian engineers wear a steel ring made from the collapsed bridge that killed 30 workers as a reminder to exercise diligence, experience and skill, and not to proceed with a project lacking these. I’m a mining and mineral processing engineer (and geologist) and even I could see immediately the obvious problems of going ahead with such major, renewable systems.
    A Canadian engineer has his first allegiance to his craft, the safety of the public and industry workers and fit-for-purpose design and construction. He is obliged by law (the Engineering Acts of the Provinces) to refuse to accept direction from his client or his boss that he believes is a negative compromise in a project that violates proper engineering practice. He is also obliged to report inadequate design, skill and experience and unacceptable engineering practices by other engineers that come to his notice. This may start with a word to the engineer in question and, if necessary, reporting the individual and company to the association of engineers. Surely engineers should not involve themselves in the types projects that have the outcomes of this article.

  42. “…each GE 1.5-megawatt turbine requires a minimum of 32 acres and needs 82 unobstructed acres in order to optimally utilize wind from any direction.”
    Source, please? The 32 acres spacing between turbines sounds right, but the 82 “unobstructed” acres sounds excessive or possibly redundant.

  43. You forgot one thing – committed capital.
    No coal plant in the United States is ever fully “paid for”. No utility has the $500 million laying around to build the plant. They borrow the money at low interest, then pay it back slowly over the expected lifetime of the plant (30 years) by adding a little bit to everyone’s rates. This is very fair, because everyone uses the plant, therefore everyone pays a little bit of the capitol costs and interest for the plant. Usually by the time the loan is paid off, the plant is worn out, and the next generation of rate payers pay for a new plant.
    If you decide to prematurely retire the pant, you still must pay back all the capitol and interest. Ergo, the minute you close a plant before it is thoroughly worn out (and paid for), you have lost a substantial chunk of money that must be recovered via rate increases. Also, anytime anyone leaves the grid, all the remaining payers must be charged a little more to cover the cost of the committed capital for the plant. Each rooftop solar installation, even if they NEVER contributes to the grid, increases the costs for everyone without a rooftop solar installation.
    Really, renewable power is the most selfish thing imaginable – it favors those with lots of land, their own homes, and excess capital. It punishes those who live in apartments, don’t own land, and otherwise are capital poor.
    I’m always struck by how little our power cost at the socket is actually “fuel” costs such as coal, natural gas and uranium, versus capital costs, O&M, and construction costs. Maybe 20 to 30% is the maximum savings even if fuel was completely free.

  44. The Australian Government has just put out a statement to reduce CO2 emissions by 26% by 2030.
    My question to the politicians is, if we decide to go down the path of spending several billion dollars of tax money on reducing CO2 emissions is that we must have a unit of measure to show the results of that expenditure. We cannot spend that sort of money just to feel warm and fuzzy. That unit of measure could be for example be a reduction in global CO2, (that currently stands at around 400ppm) and a corresponding reduction in global temperature.

    • Don’t forget that Australia is a strong carbon sink. It is not a net polluter, and should be entitled to recompense for being a net sink.

  45. Then there are the power companies….
    Mid American Energy is seeking approval for 2 more wind farms (they won’t tell us where they’re going to put them) and they’re wondering whether they should share the savings with their customers – the taxpayers who paid for the subsidies.
    “At issue is whether the company should keep savings from the wind farms for future use or directly pass them on to consumers.”
    http://www.kcci.com/news/900m-iowa-wind-energy-project-awaits-final-approval/34670680

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