Study: The solution to unreliable wind and solar power? Build more!

From the “twice as expensive, half as reliable” department comes this paper from SPRINGER where they seemed to have figured out (finally) that wind and solar just isn’t all that good for reliable power. Their solution? Overbuild. To me, that’s laughable, because regional weather patterns (such as a rex block high) can easily shut down not just dozens, but thousands of wind systems over a large area. Likewise, a persistent low pressure system (such as a cutoff low) can make clouds and rain over a wide area for an extended period, making solar power next to useless. It doesn’t matter how many wind and solar plants you build, weather will still make it unreliable at times. – Anthony

100 percent renewable energy sources require overcapacity

To switch electricity supply from nuclear to wind and solar power is not so simple

Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar – or photovoltaic (PV) – power could replace nuclear power. However, these sources depend on the weather conditions. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Fritz Wagner from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany analysed weather conditions using 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 data derived from the electricity supply system itself, instead of relying on meteorological data. By scaling existing data up to a 100% supply from intermittent renewable energy sources, the author demonstrates that an average 325 GW wind and PV power are required to meet the 100% renewable energy target. This study shows the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply with electricity from intermittent renewable sources, which would inevitably need to be supplemented by other forms of CO2-free energy production.

Intermittent sources are, by definition, unsteady. Therefore, a back-up system capable of providing power at a level of 89% of peak load would be needed. This requires creating an oversised power system to produce large amounts of surplus energy. A day storage to handle surplus is ineffective because of the day-night correlation of surplus power in the winter. A seasonal storage system loses its character when transformation losses are considered; indeed, it only contributes to the power supply after periods with excessive surplus production.

The option of an oversized, intermittent renewable-energy-sources system to feed the storage is also ineffective. This is because, in this case, energy can be taken directly from the large intermittent supply, making storage superfluous. In addition, the impact on land use and the transformation of landscape by an unprecedented density of wind convertors and transmission lines needs to be taken into consideration. He also warns of the risk that it will intensify social resistance.



F. Wagner (2017), Surplus from and storage of electricity generated by intermittent sources, Eur. Phys. J. Plus 131: 445, DOI 10.1140/epjp/i2016-16445-3

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January 27, 2017 10:55 am

There must be 100% fossil or nuclear back up at idle waiting for the wind and solar to fail. So, the big lies is that wind and solar is more cost effective – hint they do not count the subsides, higher guaranteed electric rates paid by utilities. Oh, and they do not count the cost of the fossil and or nuclear plants.
They also leave off the cost to have switching gear on the grid to bring on 24/7/365 sources without major power interruptions. This all cost big money and we have not even added in the very high maintenance costs.

Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 10:59 am

Their solution? Overbuild…

Overbuild would be overkill.
We could actually see the extinction of many breeds of raptors and other large birds if they build even more of the bird killing monsters. We need to dismantle and scrap the existing horrific bird killers, not build more.
If you want to see what windmills actually do to birds see this 30 second video. It’s very disturbing:
Large bird killed by green energy:

Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 12:10 pm

It is actually a very thorough study that says that creating a power system reliant on intermittent renewable energy systems (iRES) to reduce CO2 emissions by 100% is technically infeasible.
From the conclusions section:
“A complete supply requires an installed iRES power which is about four times the peak load.”
“The impact on land use and the transformation of landscape, e.g., by wind convertors and transmission lines at an unprecedented density will intensify social resistance. Therefore, it is mandatory to consider also other forms of CO2-free energy production to supplement iRES.”
In plain language: If you want deep decarbonization, you need nuclear power plants and/or fossil fueled plants with CO2 capture equipment. Wind and solar won’t cut it. No way, no how.*~hmac=cae7966d4128e94249f6ac5d075ef057f5d10e5c56a8e85512304f55780bcd6e

Bryan A
Reply to  vboring
January 27, 2017 12:18 pm

We are the Gor’b
Your power will be transformed
Resistance is Futile

Reply to  vboring
January 27, 2017 7:24 pm

Leave out the CO2 capture equipment. We’re already getting enough earthquakes from injecting relatively low pressure fracking fluids back into oil wells. I can just imagine the consequences of pumping large quantities CO2 at 5-10,000 psi into a well like the Deepwater Horizon. The slightest weakness or failure would like lead to an explosion and a mini tsunami.

Reply to  vboring
January 28, 2017 8:49 am

We’ll just have to add more carbonation to soft drinks

Reply to  vboring
January 28, 2017 5:12 pm

The only industry large scale wind and solar will be good for is the metal salvage companies that will have to take all this junk down.

Reply to  vboring
January 30, 2017 10:40 am

Actually, phil, the earthquakes are being attributed not to fracking fluids, but the water that is co-produced from an oil well, separated from the oil and then injected into a wastewater well.

Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 12:22 pm

Eric…for solar…I have to agree with them 100%
When it’s dark here…it’s day light on the other side <———- snark

Stewart Pid
Reply to  Latitude
January 27, 2017 2:00 pm

Elon has his best men working on solar panels that work at night 😉

Reply to  Latitude
January 27, 2017 4:44 pm

Stewart, I think they fixed that in Spain, didn’t they?

Reply to  Latitude
January 27, 2017 7:25 pm

Not just his best men, I’m sure Elron is working on it personally while sleeping in his factory office, digging a tunnel.

Reply to  Latitude
January 28, 2017 8:51 am

If only we could make the Earth transparent.

Reply to  Latitude
January 28, 2017 5:16 pm

Solar panels can work at night if you fire up the diesel generators to power the high intensity lights aimed at the solar panels… 🙂

Reply to  Latitude
January 28, 2017 7:25 pm

Well there you go. Just build reversible solar panels. ;~}

Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 2:52 pm

From the way I read it, they are refuting the idea by showing the full extent that implementing it would cost and the impacts that it would have. I’m not certain if this was deliberate or not, but the result is well known. The costs are astronomical and you still would be unreliable by today’s standards. They just showed how uneconomical and impractical it would be.

Greg Woods
Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 4:00 pm

It would seem simple enough for Trump, by executive order, to begin fining the owners of windmills and solar panels for wildlife destruction…

Carbon BIgfoot
Reply to  Greg Woods
January 27, 2017 4:28 pm


Darrell Demick (home)
Reply to  Greg Woods
January 27, 2017 10:44 pm

The Syncrude oilsands project in Alberta was fined $3 million (Canadian) in 2010 for the very unfortunate loss of 1,606 ducks and geese, when the deterrent system on a tailing pond was inoperative. Based on my perusal of the internet, there are between 140,000 to 300,000 birds killed annually by power generation wind blade strikes in the US. Do the math, the fine as it currently stands should be a very big number, between $260 million to $560 million.
Yet it is merely swept under the carpet as “renewable” energy.

Reply to  Greg Woods
January 28, 2017 7:27 pm

Don’t even need an executive order. Just enforce existing law.

Margaret Smith
Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 27, 2017 4:59 pm

Thank you Eric. Excellent! When I tell people these monstrosities kill raptors and bats they simply don’t believe me thinking if that were so they would have heard about it – on the BBC. Now I can show them this.

Eric Simpson
Reply to  Margaret Smith
January 27, 2017 11:39 pm

Maybe the video should be part of an ad to let be know how horrible the wind killers are. The ad would have to have a PG-13 rating. Actually, if children are unable to see the reality of the wind monsters than the wind monsters shouldn’t be operating. Period.

Ore-gonE Left
January 27, 2017 11:00 am

So energy costs that are at least three times more expensive should do wonders for the German economy.
German people can’t be that silly. Up coming elections in Germany may have something to say about that crazy idea.

george e. smith
Reply to  Ore-gonE Left
January 27, 2017 12:47 pm

Well the media are screaming out that DOE claims that we have reached the $1 per watt cost target, and a full three years ahead of Obumma’s target date.
And their investment in that Solyndra scam has so far made 1.5 billion dollars for the feds; despite the fact that it has made NO solar panels available to the public so far.
So a typical home sized solar array would be 3 KW peak capacity.
So for a mere $3,000 you can buy your own home PV solar unit already installed.
And that is without the Federal Subsidy that some home owners have received for purchasing the more expensive solar PV setups.
That is really wonderful news. I might just rush off down to Fry’s at lunch time and buy myself a three kilowatt solar installation and have them install it this weekend.
Obumma and Steven Chu had nothing whatsoever to do with getting the cost of PV solar down or down to $1/watt. Industry did that on their own. Yes they benefitted from the federal subsidies given to purchasers, who otherwise wouldn’t have purchased them.
You’d be surprised to see how many “conservatives” will gladly swill at the public trough given the chance.
But now do we get $1 per watt from Ivanpah ?? That would be the crucial test of government advantaged renewable energy.

Kaiser Derden
Reply to  george e. smith
January 28, 2017 1:23 pm

and you liberals NEVER stop swilling at the public trough … ever …

Reply to  Ore-gonE Left
January 27, 2017 2:32 pm

No,no I am sorry but our local State (VIC, Australia) energy minister has assured the populace that the presence of renewable energy is a downward force on energy prices. I have written to her asking where in the world this has ever been demonstrated. I have yet to hear back from her.

Reply to  yarpos
January 27, 2017 3:49 pm

I trust you are not holding your breath for a response.

Reply to  Ore-gonE Left
January 28, 2017 10:35 am

I am afraid that history shows the German people to be a lot sillier than that.

Reply to  Ore-gonE Left
January 28, 2017 5:18 pm

No wonder the Germans lost WWII – they did not have a chance.

January 27, 2017 11:07 am

Beyond stupid. Overcapacity does not solve intermittency. And in the US the LCOE for CCGT is under $60/MWh while the true LCOE for onshore wind is over $145/MWh. Overcapacity at 2.5x the cost is NOT a good deal. LCOE corrections to EIA 2015 guest posted at Climate Etc as ‘True Cost of Wind’ for those interested in seeing how grossly biased Obama’s DoE was.

Reply to  ristvan
January 27, 2017 11:51 am

Correct Rud – And the more wind energy that is added to the grid, the lower the Substitution Capacity of the total wind power in the grid. Substitution Capacity is defined as the percentage of conventional power generation that can be permanently retired by adding new wind power to the grid.
From memory, Substitution Capacity in Germany was 8% circa 2004, dropping to 4% circa 2020. At 4%, you have to add 25 units of wind power to permanently retire 1 unit of conventional power generation.
Here is my post from 2009:
SEE E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005 at
formerly at
In 2004 two major German studies investigated
the size of contribution that wind farms make
towards guaranteed capacity. Both studies
separately came to virtually identical conclusions,
that wind energy currently contributes to the
secure production capacity of the system, by
providing 8% of its installed capacity.
As wind power capacity rises, the lower availability
of the wind farms determines the reliability
of the system as a whole to an ever increasing
extent. Consequently the greater reliability of
traditional power stations becomes increasingly
As a result, the relative contribution of wind
power to the guaranteed capacity of our supply
system up to the year 2020 will fall continuously
to around 4% (FIGURE 7).
In concrete terms, this means that in 2020,
with a forecast wind power capacity of over
48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of
traditional power production can be replaced by
these wind farms.

Reply to  ristvan
January 27, 2017 1:47 pm

Apparently my comment is lost in the ether – trying again:
I agree with Rud. Here is the proof – as Germany adds more wind power to the grid, the Substitution Capacity declines from 8% in 2004 to 4% in 2020.
“As a result, the relative contribution of wind power to the guaranteed capacity of our supply system up to the year 2020 will fall continuously to around 4% (FIGURE 7).”
That means 96% back-up from conventional power generation – fossil fueled since Germany has phased out nuclear.
Regards, Allan
SEE E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005 at
formerly at
now at
In 2004 two major German studies investigated
the size of contribution that wind farms make
towards guaranteed capacity. Both studies
separately came to virtually identical conclusions,
that wind energy currently contributes to the
secure production capacity of the system, by
providing 8% of its installed capacity.
As wind power capacity rises, the lower availability
of the wind farms determines the reliability
of the system as a whole to an ever increasing
extent. Consequently the greater reliability of
traditional power stations becomes increasingly
In concrete terms, this means that in 2020,
with a forecast wind power capacity of over
48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of
traditional power production can be replaced by
these wind farms.

Reply to  ristvan
January 27, 2017 2:12 pm

Over capacity just means you have twice as many turbines not turning.

James Bull
Reply to  MarkW
January 27, 2017 9:16 pm

Last weekend 21/22nd Jan in the UK we had a grid load of at times high 40s GW due to the cold weather and our wonderful windmills were able to support 0.83% of that load. The few remaining coal plants were running flat out with no wind over nearly the whole country how are more windmills going to help?!
Oh and in cold weather the windmills draw power to run heaters etc to stop them freezing BRILLIANT.
James Bull

Reply to  ristvan
January 27, 2017 2:53 pm

It won’t solve it 100%, but you can get to 99% IF you have enough generation and IF you can store enough of it to coast through the luls.
The costs get insane, but you can correct fundamental errors with ad-hoc increases of power. You won’t like the costs, though.

Reply to  benofhouston
January 27, 2017 3:56 pm

Aren’t the costs part of the great plan – bleed the economy to get 98 or 99%.
‘Destitution 2030’, Agenda Genocide 21?
[I may have missed the exact details of the names. Sorry.]
Then indicate to the starving masses that they are surplus, so can expire anytime they like, since the ‘gifted’, the watermelons’ favoured, seek a global population well under 1 billion.
Not sure if China and India are signed up to that bit of the Paris ‘Agreement’ (that was not, ever so not, a Treaty)?

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 8:29 am

Hi Ben – I disagree with your above post – please see my above post re the futility of adding more and more wind power, at
Also, the only practical “super-battery” for grid-scale electricity storage is pumped storage and there are very few sites in the entire world that are suitable for that. There are none in all of Alberta, in fact I know of no suitable sites in all of Canada, and we are the 2nd largest country on the planet.
Ironically, our socialist NDP government of Alberta believes that a super-battery will solve the problem of wind power intermittency in Alberta. They also believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
Regards, Allan

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 8:46 am

Allan M.R. MacRae January 28, 2017 at 8:29 am
Also, the only practical “super-battery” for grid-scale electricity storage is pumped storage and there are very few sites in the entire world that are suitable for that.

What about flywheel storage?

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 9:06 am

Allan M.R. MacRae what about solar thermal storage? One example is Andasol:

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 10:40 am

I actually did the calculation once, for the UK, taking the ‘lowest wind output ever recorded’ and matching it to the ‘highest demand ever recorded’ after subtracting UK hydro etc.
It worked OK, although the entire north sea from the UK to Norway would need to be full of turbines, and the cost came to around £10.00 a unit.
As against current wholesale prices of £0.04p
You just need more of it 🙂

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 11:34 am

Phil – Sure, if you disregard economics, and build a flywheel the size of Manhattan.
Martin Clark – From your wiki reference:
The developers say Andasol’s electricity will cost €0.271 per kilowatt-hour (kW·h) to produce.
This is grossly uneconomic – about ten times the cost of natural-gas-fired fully dispatchable power in North America.
Besides, the Andasol site is unique in terms of altitude, aridity, insolation – so this technology will cost even more elsewhere.
In general, grid-scale electricity storage is wildly uneconomic.
“If we had a practical super-battery, we could solve the intermittency problem of wind and solar energy, ”
“If frogs could fly, they wouldn’t have to bounce around on their butts.”
Regards, Allan 🙂

Reply to  benofhouston
January 28, 2017 10:37 pm

Alan, I’m sorry if I was unclear in my initial post. There’s a big difference between possible, feasible, and practical. What I meant to say is that this is possible, but it’s neither feasible or practical. As the technology, while it exists, would not scale well and as you and everyone else has mentioned, the costs quickly become absurd.
Another restriction is that I don’t know if the world’s current reserves of 14 million tons of lithium would be sufficient for the number of batteries needed. Pumped storage isn’t possible on this scale as there aren’t enough dammable rivers, and the losses from compressed air storage are insane.

Reply to  benofhouston
January 29, 2017 3:35 am

Good points Ben.
For pumped storage, you need a hydro project with a large reservoir at the BOTTOM of the dam as well as at the top, and such sites are very rare. At most hydropower sites, there is a river at the bottom with no significant storage volume, so once you start pumping the water back uphill you will drain the lower reservoir within minutes.

Reply to  benofhouston
January 29, 2017 9:49 am

Leo Smith January 28, 2017 at 10:40 am
After installing a 5Kw system in Melbourne I recorded a low during one cold cloudy rainy winters day of 330 Watts.
That is WATTS not Kw.
As I have 27 solar panels that cover most of my house how many acres of panels would I need to generate my required 14 Kw of power? I have had the suggestion from a Greenie to install batteries, absolute genius.

Reply to  benofhouston
January 30, 2017 3:13 pm

Allan M.R. MacRae January 28, 2017 at 11:34 am
Phil – Sure, if you disregard economics, and build a flywheel the size of Manhattan.

Hardly, fusion research facilities use flywheels, the JET uses two 775 ton flywheels which each store 3.75 GJ and can deliver at up to 400MW. Beacon power has been testing a flywheel energy storage system at a wind farm in Tehachapi, California. They also operate a 5MWh system in NY and a 20MWh system in PA.

Reply to  Phil.
January 30, 2017 3:50 pm

Hardly, fusion research facilities use flywheels, the JET uses two 775 ton flywheels which each store 3.75 GJ and can deliver at up to 400MW. Beacon power has been testing a flywheel energy storage system at a wind farm in Tehachapi, California. They also operate a 5MWh system in NY and a 20MWh system in PA.

I was thinking about this, this morning, anything big enough to be useful is going to make a really big bang if they go really wrong, like take out a city block or worse, BOOM …..

Reply to  benofhouston
January 30, 2017 7:07 pm

micro6500 January 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm
“Hardly, fusion research facilities use flywheels, the JET uses two 775 ton flywheels which each store 3.75 GJ and can deliver at up to 400MW. Beacon power has been testing a flywheel energy storage system at a wind farm in Tehachapi, California. They also operate a 5MWh system in NY and a 20MWh system in PA.”
I was thinking about this, this morning, anything big enough to be useful is going to make a really big bang if they go really wrong, like take out a city block or worse, BOOM …..

The JET ones have been operating for nearly 40 years so they’re very reliable. I wouldn’t expect that you’ll find them installed in a city block anyway.

Reply to  benofhouston
January 30, 2017 7:53 pm

3 GJ sounds like a lot until you realize that a kWh is 3.6 MJ. 833 kWh could power my home for the majority of the month, but my block would eat it up in hours, and my plant would consume that in minutes. You’d need a lot of those multi-million-pound flywheels to carry a city through a single windless night, much less three days of overcast, windless weather. Plus, how much friction are you generating keeping those things spinning? Keeping that sort of motion going isn’t cheap.
It’s not residential power that’s the big concern. It’s industrial. A power blip lasting seconds can have devastating effects on a chemical plant. A power loss of an hour can easily cost several million dollars and horrible amounts of pollution as you lose compressors and everything that can react has to be vented to a flare. These plants take enormous amounts of power to run, and there is no margin for error in the electrical supply.

Reply to  ristvan
January 28, 2017 8:57 am

The obvious solution to intermittency is to store the power, a huge low-pass filter.
Unfortunately, such devices would be huge targets for terrorists, as their peak power levels could level small cities.

Reply to  Neo
January 28, 2017 10:42 am

Again I cant recall the exact figures, but IIRC the UK generates about 5 Hiroshima sized bombs worth of electricity per diem.
Don’t want all of that stored anywhere – its dangerous enough in a gasometer ….

Reply to  ristvan
January 30, 2017 10:53 am

Equally as damaging is the overcapacity at times of high wind and/or sunlight. Germany’s neighbors are upset with because the German over generation spills into their grids, destabilizing them. This happens when you are required to use the renewable power over the dispatchable sources. So the traditional power sources can’t sell as much power and earn enough to be profitable. They either shut down or they have to be given a subsidy to remain available when the wind don’t blow and sun don’t shine. More $$$.

January 27, 2017 11:08 am

Most people confuse the issue of energy and power (power = energy per period time.) It takes between 300 to 500 kWh of energy to produce a one square meter solar panel based on semiconductor process capability. Although that energy can be paid back in 2 to 4 years, solar cells can not generate enough power to “reproduce” themselves; i.e. power the process capability required to make more of them. Assume 400 kWh per square meter of PV. Assume a solar generation system located at the equator where approximately 150 watts per meter squared can be generated for a few hours each day. In these ideal conditions it would require 3,3333 one meter squared panels to produce 1, one square meter panel. Batteries and step up DC to AC electronics not included. DOE provides the solar PV energy production requirements data at:

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
January 27, 2017 12:28 pm

Economy of scale only works in your favor if each individual unit makes a profit, whether that be financial profit or energy profit. If not, building or selling more of the unit just scales up your net losses. ;]
I am once again reminded of this classic Order of the Stick strip:

Reply to  drednicolson
January 27, 2017 1:33 pm

What potions have the Progressives been taking? Magical thinking is rife on the planet Nernie-Bernie.

Reply to  drednicolson
January 27, 2017 2:34 pm

you mean like Tesla producing more loss making cars?

Reply to  drednicolson
January 27, 2017 7:26 pm

All part of The Third Way

bill johnston
Reply to  drednicolson
January 27, 2017 8:16 pm

Sure. We lose money on individual units so we will make it up in volume.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
January 27, 2017 1:06 pm

“… solar cells can not generate enough power to “reproduce” themselves …”.
Although not having the technical knowledge to make the calculations that fact has always been apparent to many like me, I think it comes under the category of common sense.
If solar was a viable everyday power source, not just a ‘boutique’ application under special conditions, I would expect the manufacturers would be the first to apply it to their own manufacturing plants.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 28, 2017 4:26 am

”DUH”, the Chinese manufacturers of the solar panels that are sold to the US are not the least bit interested in using those solar panels themselves.

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
January 27, 2017 2:14 pm

“solar cells can not generate enough power to “reproduce” themselves”
And that’s before you consider the cost needed to build the frames that hold the things.

Reply to  MarkW
January 27, 2017 3:59 pm

Or ship them. Or install them . . . . .

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
January 27, 2017 2:55 pm

The URL to DOE you provide contradicts your assertion:
Based on models and real data, the idea that PV cannot pay back its energy investment is simply a myth. Indeed, researchers Dones and Frischknecht found that PV-systems fabrication and fossil-fuel energy production have similar energy payback periods (including costs for mining, transportation, refining, and

Reply to  brians356
January 27, 2017 3:11 pm

PS They do not address “reproducibility”. How does the concept of “reproducibility” hold up for, say, a barrel of oil? Does a barrel of oil produce enough energy to extract another barrel of oil?
I’m on your side, I just don’t understand the ultimate implication of PV not being able to reproduce.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  brians356
January 27, 2017 7:57 pm

‘How does the concept of “reproducibility” hold up for, say, a barrel of oil? Does a barrel of oil produce enough energy to extract another barrel of oil?’
As I understand it the drilling and pumping on an oil rig is powered by diesel oil engines.
Are you asking if, over a set period of operation, the engines consume more oil than the well extracts?

Reply to  brians356
January 27, 2017 8:59 pm

“…I just don’t understand the ultimate implication of PV not being able to reproduce.”
As a cabon-based life form, I am quite happy that the technology-based forms aren’t able to reproduce. For examples why, try Terminator.

Reply to  brians356
January 28, 2017 7:39 am

Again most people confuse energy and power. You can not generate enough power (energy per period time) to make more solar panels from a solar only generation system, This is a different matter than energy payback.
To calculate payback, Dutch researcher Alsema reviewed previous energy analyses and did not include the energy that originally went into crystallizing microelectronics scrap. His best estimates of electricity used to make near future, frameless PV were 600 kWh/m2 for single-crystal silicon modules and 420 kWh/m2 for multicrystalline silicon. Assuming 12% conversion efficiency (standard conditions) and 1,700 kWh/m2 per year of available sunlight energy (the U.S. average is 1,800), Alsema calculated a payback of about 4 years for current multicrystalline silicon PV systems. Projecting 10 years into the future, he assumes a solar-grade silicon feedstock and 14% efficiency, dropping energy payback to about 2 years.
An often overlooked fact is that solar generation cannot provide enough power (energy per period time) to produce useful quantiles of solar panels. As an example it would require 3,333 1 m2 panels located at the equator to provide the necessary energy to fabricate 1 new 1 m2 panel per hour.

Reply to  brians356
January 28, 2017 7:44 am

To learn more about the implications of a solar only system to supply baseload power in the U.S., see our article “Going Solar.” This is based on the science, math and engineering details. At:

Reply to  brians356
January 28, 2017 10:44 am

THis is known as EROEI. Energy return over energy invested. Fossil and nuclear are massively positive. They are, given adequate resources, sustainable. Renewable energy is barely sustainable at all., and sometimes is actually negative EROEI.

Reply to  brians356
January 29, 2017 9:56 am

We could make it a requiement that manufacturers of renewable energy use only renwable energy in the manufacturing process.

January 27, 2017 11:13 am

Even the greens in germany are are starting to wonder if wind power is the right way, when they litter all the nature.
This is a document that was shown in germanys TV channel 1

PS If the english subtitles does not come on, press the CC -button in the lower right.

January 27, 2017 11:15 am

Good article, but it is not the first time an authoritarian state has done stupid economics.
A long economic boom ended in the early 1600s.There was hardship and the British Crown went for a “make work” program.
Holland was the financial and commercial center and had established the finishing of cloth, which was a big industry. A promoter explained that England could get the “value added” by duplicating Holland’s capacity.
Wise London merchants viewed the proposed scheme and called it “Tyrannical Duncery”.
With the crash that began in 1618 the scheme fell apart.
The issue is similar to now. State ambition driven by wild schemes and political pressures..
There is even more amusement, but space does not permit.

Reply to  subtle2
January 27, 2017 6:36 pm

I worked in a tropical area some years ago near to a World Bank funded coconut project. Although near the coast the area was too high to grow coconuts successfully. Phase One could not be run profitably.
The answer was to double the size of the project.
With economies of scale you could double the losses

January 27, 2017 11:16 am

Export the stupidity to minimize damage to yourself. This is the necessity and maybe, maybe what we can stop here in the US. If the Germans and others suffer enough they will relent. If we allow them to push us down this same path we will essentially be joining them in the big economic cook off. Remember folks, the people pushing this are the exact same people who plowed Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy under with cheap money. They lied about the numbers then and they are lying about the numbers on energy now. Once things blew up they shrugged their shoulders and said “more Europe” was the only sensible solution.
This Administration has the opportunity to block them in every possible venue. We know that they will fight hard and long with other peoples money but they cannot get it done without US. Hold on tight.

Reply to  troe
January 27, 2017 3:12 pm

Absolutely right, toe. Although energy costs have risen 100% and the biggest part clearly is attributable to renewables they claim that energy providers are responsible for the costs. These people are clueless and relentless. They try to silence opposition by calling the real data fake news and the opposition post fact or post truth politics. Does this sound familiar to you? Germany has become the biggest lab for post truth politics itself. Merkel has created a political nightmare by stealing and applying the left’s ideas. Thus there is no real opposition anymore inside the country. The only opposition can raise from abroad by refusing to join the totalitarian transformation they are planning in order to carry out their global energy revolution.
You are also right to point to the european debt crisis. Germany just tried to bail out german banks and pension funds by pumping fresh money in big holes instead of letting the countries go bankrupt in dignity and write their debt off. This would have saved the fresh money and it would have helped the people in those countries to make a restart. When they realized that the austerity led to even bigger problems incl. riots and anti german protests (you saw pictures of Merkel in Nazi clothing) Merkel decided to let the refugees in in order to white wash her image. After the other european countries complained that they weren’t asked and refused to take significant numbers of refugees from Germany the german media and government criticized those countries for being not cooperative.
You will see the same thing with energy politics. Create a big mess and blame others for it. Russia, Trump or Brexit might be good candidates for a scapegoat.

Reply to  troe
January 29, 2017 4:02 am

Europe’s goose is cooked – there is only so much energy and economic stupidity that a society can sustain.
Brexit was brilliant – the common Brit is much more sensible than his rulers.
If it continues on its current course, Europe will become a museum, a later Luxor (Thebes). A society can only sustain so many foolish policies.
Best, Allan

Bill Taylor
January 27, 2017 11:19 am

this is the liberal mindset, socialism has failed everywhere it is tried because there isnt ENOUGH of it……ignoring its fatal flaws.

Reply to  Bill Taylor
January 27, 2017 4:52 pm

And 1984 has sold out on Amazon, bought by a bunch of maroons who will probably never realise that it is a warning about socialism 🙂

Chuck in Houston
Reply to  Jer0me
January 27, 2017 4:57 pm

As Glenn Reynolds @Instapundit frequently writes “1984 is not supposed to be an instruction manual.

Bill Powers
January 27, 2017 11:23 am

Build even greater capacity for energy sources that don’t work when the wind won’t blow and the solar rays won;t penetrate the atomsphere. Sources of energy that can’t be dialed up on demand but must be collected, when available, with environmentally damaging and energy inefficient high capacity battery storage.
Why increase capacity for superior forms of energy (coal, oil, gas, nuclear) when it so much more costly to add inferior sources of renewable that require coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy for expansion?. Hey why don’t we invest more in ethanol at a net increase to our CO2 footprint?
You can’t teach Stupid. Oh wait they do! It’s called public school education.

Reply to  Bill Powers
January 27, 2017 2:18 pm

Our grid needs an upgrade, but moving generation across the country doesn’t work, there’s too much loss in the grid, it’s not going to be stable, when we can string superconducting grid wire, across the country we can do more, but we can’t do that now.
And then there’s the reliability. you can use this, put some estimated values since none of the manufacturers have published their reliability figures
But, even with 40 year panels a system with 10 panels will have a good chance of a failure by year 10 or 12.
And we should end power companies having to buy home solar back, unless we want nonstop power outages, and frankly, I don’t.

January 27, 2017 11:26 am

Long distance transmission helps. The longer the distance, the more it helps.
Two of the infrastructure projects Trump is supposedly fast-tracking are to bring Midwestern wind energy to load centers. China and Europe have similar proposals for intercontinental supergrids.
With or without wind and solar, these sorts of projects may pay for themselves. Transporting coal by electric wire is much cheaper than transporting it by train. Wyoming and the Dakotas would be happy to host a few hundred more mine mouth coal plants to keep the lights on for the coasts. China’s supergrid proposal would similarly give Europeans access to cheap electricity from Chinese coal plants.

Reply to  vboring
January 27, 2017 12:05 pm

I like the idea of meaningful federal tax incentives going to people for private installations of wind and solar together with assistance to utilities to enable them to absorb excess generation. This allows the public to decide. I do not think that taxpayers subsidizing wind and solar farms owned by the utilities ever made much sense, but that is the way that corporatocracies like our own in the US have always worked. They exist to serve the needs of the big corporations rather than the needs of the people.

Another Doug
Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 12:38 pm

I like the idea of no tax incentives, period. If you won’t do it without a tax incentive, then it’s not a good idea.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 12:56 pm

For every honest participant in an incentive system, there’s two others gaming that system. At least.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 1:03 pm

Yes, tax incentives for inefficient and unreliable projects make about as much sense as tax disincentives (regulations) that make otherwise efficient and reliable projects less economical. Trump is committed to fix the later and I only hope he fixes the former as well. In fact, allowing hybrids to use car pool lanes is an unfair tax on the time of people like me who need 4wd trucks to navigate through heavy snow and back country trails. Besides, hybrids already get good gas mileage in stop and go traffic, so how is allowing them in the car pool lanes ‘green’? Doesn’t that defeat their one and only advantage?

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 1:50 pm

Corporatocracies. Yatta-yatta-yatta. They sure beat government by stupid.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 2:16 pm

Subsidizing corporate owned wind/solar makes no sense.
But the same subsidies sent to consumers is the bees knees.
Do you have any idea what you are talking about?
If it’s being subsidized then by definition the public isn’t deciding, government is.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 2:17 pm

drednicolson, I would challenge the concept that there are any “honest” participants in any subsidization scheme.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 2:19 pm

jorgekafkazar. it has always amazed me the number of people who are 100% convinced that corporations couldn’t care less about their business, but on the other hand big government actually cares about them.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 4:14 pm

But MarkW –
The Government ‘tells’ them it does care about them.
And this must be right. Right?
It is in the Grauniad, and all . . . .
Mods, a little scintilla of /SARC there I guess.
just in case it passed unnoticed.

Reply to  Jbird
January 27, 2017 4:57 pm

Jbird, any tax incentives or purchase subsidies for private use of renewables is a direct transfer of wealth from poor to rich (ie from those who cannot afford it to those who can). If you approve of them, you approve of this wealth-transfer, and shame on you.

Reply to  Jbird
January 28, 2017 5:09 am

I like the idea of meaningful federal tax incentives …….

Does anyone remember the “Cash for Clunkers” incentive program that the US politicians created to benefit the low wage earners to upgrade to a better, more fuel efficient vehicles?
Read more @
Only problem was, …… the low wage earners couldn’t afford to trade for a “new” vehicle.

Reply to  Jbird
January 31, 2017 3:04 pm

Subsidy always decreases the macro-economy. It’s a math problem. There is a dead weight welfare cost. Subsidies should never be used.

NW sage
Reply to  vboring
January 27, 2017 4:19 pm

Long distance transmission has its own set of VERY difficult problems which are as yet unsolved. The energy in solar magnetic flares has extremely negative impacts on very long wires across the countryside. This is known to be a big issue and almost none of the existing network, as short as it is, is adequately protected. The longer the network, the greater the amounts of energy that must be dissipated. Example, during a flare event in the 1800s the steel rails on some lines got hot enough from the induced current to catch the ties on fire, railroad telegraph lines melted and arced and telegraph operators were electrocuted. And those were lines that did NOT go half way across the continent! It takes a LOT of current to get a piece of steel rail hot enough to catch the ties on fire!

Reply to  NW sage
January 27, 2017 9:37 pm

“ties on fire” please cite the source.

Andre Lauzon
January 27, 2017 11:32 am

A giant wind-mill goes into every politicians back yard or front lawn and other sources of electricity are cut off to their home(s). . Maybe they’ll understand…………..

Reply to  Andre Lauzon
January 27, 2017 12:26 pm

Agree that is my “you go first” mantra for the politicians. You want us to to reduce fossil fuel consumption, lead by cutting yours first and see how that works. Similarly I suggest that Trump resend the waivers Obama gave to congress releasing them from the horrors of being on Obama care. Democrats and Republicans would work together quickly to fix the problem if they had to live under it.

Reply to  Catcracking
January 27, 2017 12:30 pm

Similarly, how many migrants were dumped in Hollywood, Nantucket, Chappaquiddick, or Chappaqua, etc. The elites should be treated equally.

Reply to  Catcracking
January 27, 2017 2:19 pm

There are a lot of migrants in Hollywood, etc.
Someone has to do the lawns and laundry.

Reply to  Catcracking
January 27, 2017 3:08 pm

Yes, good point, but they don’t live there or collect welfare from the officials there and they probably speak Spanish, not Middle Eastern dialect.

Schrodinger's Cat
January 27, 2017 11:34 am

It is called learning from your mistakes.
How to make bigger and even better ones.

Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
January 27, 2017 11:55 am

It think it falls under the general category of “If it doesn’t fit, use a bigger hammer”.

Bryan A
Reply to  Trebla
January 27, 2017 12:24 pm

Or the OJ inspired mantra
If it doesn’t fit, you mustn’t quit

Mark - Helsinki
January 27, 2017 11:37 am

Springer published papers made by MIT’s junk paper creator software that just grabbed random bits of papers from all over the internet and compiled absolute junk nonsense papers. Quite a few made it past Springer peer review, never ever will I trust anything from that publisher again

January 27, 2017 11:37 am

The problem is selfish consumers. They should be told not to use electricity when its not sunny or there is no wind. Do they not understand their duty?

Reply to  Lawrence
January 27, 2017 1:02 pm

Not sunny? No wind? Sounds like a cold night in the dead of winter. Apparently, not wanting your toes to freeze off is a selfish motivation. ;|

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 27, 2017 11:57 am

Apparently they teach in Green business school that If you lose money on every transaction, you can make it up on volume.

Thomas Homer
January 27, 2017 12:12 pm

Extracting Wind and Solar energy is a function of earth’s surface area and therefore neither is scalable.

January 27, 2017 12:16 pm

“Their solution? Overbuild.”
I don’t see where that is said, and I don’t think it is Wagner’s solution at all. He says “The option of an oversized, intermittent renewable-energy-sources system to feed the storage is also ineffective.”
It is actually a rather pessimistic article. It ends with:
“The comparison of the greenhouse gas emission of Germany withthe specific CO2-emission by electricity production (fig. 22) shows the challenge of this task and the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply based predominantly on chemically stored energy by electricity as future source also for other forms of energy use. Here, we have argued that overproduction by iRES may not be the right way to go. The impact on land use and the transformation of landscape,e.g., by wind convertors and transmission lines at an unprecedented density will intensify social resistance. Therefore, it is mandatory to consider also other forms of CO2-free energy production to supplement iRES”

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 27, 2017 12:34 pm

Wait a minute, This would seem to indicate that the IRES problem is solveable with what??
Hydro (not ECO friendly) requires reservoir sized water storage (large footprint)
Geothermal (very limited locations available)
Biomass (Still not ECO friendly) depletes Carbon Sinks and produces CO2 (large footprint from wood/processing requirements)
Nuclear (not ECO friendly) Smallest possible footrprint relative to available energy density

Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2017 12:44 pm

He’s not saying it’s solvable. He’s saying we have to look.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2017 1:30 pm

“He’s saying we have to look.”
But we DON’T need to look,
Modern coal fired power is cheap, reliable and the CO2 given off is a massive BENEFIT to the planet.
It is only this TOTALLY IRRATIONAL anti-CO2 religion that is getting in the way.

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2017 2:08 pm

Well, The Anit-Vaxers can have their way and when the next Smallpox or Measels pandemic arrives it is only their kids that will get sick from it. If the Anti-CO2 crowd think CO2 is so bad, perhaps they could demonstrate their strong beliefs by holding their breath for a couple of hours

Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2017 4:55 pm

January 27, 2017 at 1:30 pm
Plus whole shedloads, and more!
Absolutely spot on.
The fr4ud of the CO2 religion is, surely, one of the biggest crimes against humanity ever.
In the Top Ten, I suggest.
Mao’s 80-100 million dead in the Cultural Revolution is probably still #1.
Hitler and his War; Pol Pot, Stalin, the continuing Mugabe-Murderer [and many others] affected many fatally. But CAGW affects almost the entire human race – at least a bit.
Since much of the human race is struggling to survive, that will – does – make a ‘Tipping Point’ difference for many, and some folk will die.
But the watermelons want that – so no crocodile tears, even, from them.
A managed population of under a billion [compared with the current over-7 billion ( ) give 7.48 billion at time of posting) ] is their aim.
Lots of folk need to die.
Auto – not relishing this!
But perhaps President Trump has something to say . . . .

Reply to  Bryan A
January 28, 2017 11:11 am

Nuclear is the most eco friendly technology there is.
Very little impact per generated unit.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 27, 2017 12:38 pm

OK, Nick –
In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Fritz Wagner from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany analysed weather conditions using 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 data derived from the electricity supply system itself, instead of relying on meteorological data. By scaling existing data up to a 100% supply from intermittent renewable energy sources, the author demonstrates that an average 325 GW wind and PV power are required to meet the 100% renewable energy target.
– plasma physics is none of your business and why should you believe in the conclusions of just another scientist.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
January 27, 2017 12:46 pm

And your quote continues:
“This study shows the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply with electricity from intermittent renewable sources, which would inevitably need to be supplemented by other forms of CO2-free energy production.”

Bryan A
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
January 27, 2017 2:10 pm

And what other forms of CO2 free production would you propose?

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
January 27, 2017 2:43 pm

“And what other forms of CO2 free production would you propose?”
One of the bizarre things here is that people are tribal, but keep forgetting what their tribe is saying. This post started out saying that Wagner foolishly said the answer to windmill problems is more windmills. I pointed out that he isn’t saying that at all. Then JW berates me for disrespecting the word of a plasma physicist (Wagner), and now I am supposed to defend what he is saying, which is the opposite of the post. I actually don’t think Wagner is right, but that isn’t the point. The pint is that he isn’t saying “Build more!”.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
January 27, 2017 8:02 pm

I’ve got to agree with Nick here. From the paper it looks like Wagner is correctly explaining why trying to “Build More” isn’t going to be economical. And it’s honestly refreshing to see someone on the other side looking at this problem rationally.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
January 29, 2017 5:30 am

Sorry, missed something: 325 GW is how many % instead of 100% conventional?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 27, 2017 1:53 pm

Actually, it’s mandatory to abandon the global warming hoax and start to install more coal power plants.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 28, 2017 4:34 am

…it would take cutting off funding from sources that are trying to convince the West that nuclear is bad, bad, bad, and those sources also want to see the annihilation of cheap base-load power sources.
China is still building coal-fired power plants and are investing heavily into nuclear while the West is being brow-beaten into abandoning both.
Something really communistic is going on here, and it smells to high heaven.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 28, 2017 7:00 pm

There’s only ever been two non-CO2 alternatives:nuclear power and hydro. Greens reject nuclear power so comprehensively that one must conclude CAGW is a scam, and green organizations are disinterested in saving the environment. Whatever the real green agenda is, their support for renewables tells us they are misrepresenting energy issues to the public.

January 27, 2017 12:18 pm

Ammonia can be used as a transportation fuel. In theory it can be made from water, air, and electricity. Here’s a link to a project that seeks to make ammonia economically without using fossil fuels.
Based on web pages produced in the last month, I would say there is four or five times as much activity for ammonia fuel as there is for thorium reactors.
IF ammonia becomes practical it would solve a whole lot of problems. As a storage medium, it would drastically reduce the number of windmills and solar panels required. Of course there would be the need for fuel cells or other generators (to be fuelled by ammonia) but there would be yuge savings in real estate and transmission infrastructure. link

Chuck in Houston
Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2017 12:30 pm

I suppose, but how is it to be transported. A tanker truck full of anhydrous ammonia went off a freeway overpass here in Houston a number of years ago. A number of people were killed in the plume, around 70 were admitted to area hospitals. It was pretty awful.

Bryan A
Reply to  Chuck in Houston
January 27, 2017 12:36 pm

Heaven forbid it should crash into a truck carrying Chlorine

Reply to  Chuck in Houston
January 27, 2017 1:03 pm

Commie – From what I read, Ammonia production relies on Hydrogen. Usually this hydrogen source is from methane or natural gas. To make “green” ammonia, hydrogen would have to come from another source assumedly H2O. So water would have to be split and then more energy spent to convert it to ammonia. Only way this is viable is if you have a constant excess of unusable power. Sure, a dam might have an excess of water in the spring but the ammonia plant would sit idle for the other 10 months. Much cheaper to sell the electricity directly at that point. Cool idea, economically I can’t see how it would work.

Reply to  Chuck in Houston
January 27, 2017 8:11 pm

I can see it working. Don’t think ‘excess’ energy production, think ‘dedicated’. This is one possibility for using Nuclear power to create Transportation Fuels. Probably more workable then Electric Cars, at least for the time being. Although personally I’m still hoping for Synthetic Fossil Fuels.

Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2017 1:18 pm

ammonia is a very dangerous thing. much more than petrol.

Roger Knights
Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2017 2:15 pm

About 25+ years ago Time had a cover story on a company near Buffalo that was making ammonia based fuel derived from coal (i think) for use in locomotives. Some sort of internal fighting brought down the venture.

Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2017 2:28 pm

Way back in the day…….
Ammonia was used as the working fluid in commercial and industrial refrigeration units. Explosions were a constant danger and maintenance people were constantly getting injured and killed by leaks and blow-outs.
The constant danger of ammonia was a primary motivation for developing safe, non-toxic, non-reactive Freons as a replacement refrigerant.

Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2017 2:29 pm

Bad conversion yield… If you use hydrogen from water electrolyses (nowadays over 95% from natural gas here), that has an energy content after conversion of ~80%. Hydrogen back to power is currently ~50% in fuel cells (less in other ways of conversion like motors or turbines). Thus average conversion factor power to power (PtP) of ~40%. Modern Li-Ion batteries do much better with 75-80% but don’t ask for the costs if you need MWhs of storaged power…
If you go further by converting it to ammonia, the loss of PtP is a lot worse. The only advantage is that it needs low pressure to keep it liquid, while hydrogen needs hundreds of bar pressure to have some minimum storage and making it a liquid (at -252,9°C!) needs again a lot of energy…
Indeed it is a quite toxic gas: in the old school days in our chemistry lab, a large (60 l) glass container with concentrated ammonia solution broke on the floor. I haven’t timed how fast everybody was out of the room, but I suppose it was in less than 10 seconds. Lucky it is highly soluble in water and with spraying lots of water the problem was cleared…

Roger Knights
January 27, 2017 12:20 pm

There is a a principle of diminishing returns here. Overbuilt sites will be less productive or more costly than the originals, because the best sites were chosen first.

Bryan A
Reply to  Roger Knights
January 27, 2017 12:37 pm

Perhaps a combination site with Windmils above and Solar Panels below

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2017 10:24 pm

Diesel gennies only for those calm nights

January 27, 2017 12:41 pm

Thank God for oil. Thank God for oil companies.

Ian Macdonald
January 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Wouldn’t work. The UK wind fleet sometimes gives only a few percent of its nameplate output for several days in succession. If you say 5% as a ballpark figure that would mean building TWENTY TIMES as many turbines as are needed in strong wind conditions, in order to have some degree of confidence in achieving the target output most of the time.
Put it this way, the typical max UK demand is 55GW. The currently installed wind nameplate capacity is 14GW. So, to provide the full 55GW demand with reasonable reliability in light winds would call for a turbine fleet EIGHTY TIMES the size of current deployment.
I doubt if there is enough suitable land to build 80 times the current fleet, but even if there is, the cost would be hideous. Not to mention, the view.

Reply to  Ian Macdonald
January 28, 2017 4:37 am

I’d like to see the ROI for that proposal. It sounds like a Soros-sponsored approach to energy.

Reply to  Ian Macdonald
January 31, 2017 3:11 pm

You underestimate. Add the line losses. Add the battery inverter losses. Add the DC to AC conversion losses…

January 27, 2017 12:47 pm

The Profession Engineers of Ontario put out a great case study a while back of what has gone wrong with electricity in that province. I provides a good, somewhat technical, overview of why intermittent generation such as wind & solar haven’t worked.
What strikes me is that Ontario is produces over 85% of electricity from Nuclear & Hydro. Emissions per MW are 1/3 that of the U.S. and the world averages, yet politicians insist on adding more wind & solar, which will only increase CO2 emissions due to the addition of natural gas backup, displace low cost nuke & hydro generation, and drive up costs.

Reply to  lokenbr
January 27, 2017 3:14 pm

Lokenbr…I live in Ontario too and have made the exact same argument here as well. We have an abundance of hydro & nuclear, a lot of times many hydro plants sit idle in preference of ‘renewables’. Gas generation just takes up the fluctuations in on-demand requirements. I have come to terms, this is not a CO2 reduction issues, it is a ideological issue only. When it is windy, they just dial back on the hydro in preference for the wind power. *face palm*
Great site if you want to explore. Click on the supply tab.

Reply to  Duncan
January 28, 2017 8:54 am

Duncan & lokenbr … I also live in Ontari-owe (which has more than double California’s debt per capita) and am glad to see you’ve posted those links – they are great sources of information. Note also that the provincial auditor general reported on the problem as well (referred to in the engineers’ presentation), and said in summary: no “green” jobs, no “reinvented” economy, no CO2 reductions, but extremely high electricity costs. [Sorry I don’t know how to post a link here.]
The “green” movement generally seems to be willfully blind, preferring to ignore or avoid thinking about actual outcomes here and elsewhere in the world. The old saying “dam* the torpedoes, full speed ahead” comes to mind, except its first use was in a context where it made, or could have made, perfect sense.
But the problem of excess wind generation here goes beyond economics and the unnecessary high costs that result. However, people are beginning to connect the dots – nothing like a choice between paying your electricity bill or buying groceries to focus your mind!
The looming issues after economics are electricity system reliability and stability. These are critically important but generally not understood by the public. The result of this is that they are generally just taken for granted. However, it is a fatal flaw to assume that electricity system reliability and stability somehow just happen independent of the sources of generation.
On a minute-by-minute basis, each electricity system that is interconnected with another one must always ensure that supply and demand are in balance, including exports and imports. There must also be sufficient capability to respond instantly and seamlessly to changes in demand (such as when I plug in my tea kettle, retail store lights are turned on or off, a large motor in a factory trips off, a generator in another utility is switched on and brought up to speed, or a transmission line somewhere trips off). These are examples of every-day occurrences that rarely have noticeable impacts on the average electricity consumer.
In Ontario, we already have far too much production from wind turbines. Frequently, this requires reductions such as those mentioned by Duncan and discussed in the engineers’ presentation (reductions in hydraulic generation by letting the water flow over the dam instead of through the turbines). Sometimes even nuclear units are backed down.
But as more wind turbines were built here, these steps weren’t enough. So to abide by the “rules” of interconnected systems, Ontario began to deal with excess wind energy through commercial arrangements (mainly with New York and Michigan utilities that have fossil-fired generators that can be backed down, even though these units are kept operating). In these circumstances, Ontario sells the wind surplus at a loss, since we pay much more for it than the cost savings resulting from the reduced fossil generation in New York or Michigan.
Even when selling surplus wind energy at a loss, Ontario still has to keep gas units operating so as to be able to respond to reliability and stability requirements as explained above. More losses.
But it is getting worse because Ontario keeps building wind turbines. Now, Ontario sometimes has to PAY New York and Michigan to take some of the surplus. This is becoming necessary more frequently because the surplus (that must be disposed of to maintain electricity system stability here) is beginning to impose costs or create risks for interconnected utilities.
As the surplus here grows, there will be a point at which the interconnected utilities will not accept further cost-related risk. And they certainly won’t accept risks that threaten their reliability and stability.

Reply to  massieguy
January 28, 2017 9:21 am

If the politicians continue to require it by law, they will be constructing the fall of the modern world, they people in Baghdad will have better power than we do.
Great post, but the morons who have no clue how the power grid has been the modern miracle it is, are doing their best to destroy it.

Reply to  Duncan
January 28, 2017 10:28 am

micro6500 …
I do not believe for a minute that the operators of the Ontario electricity grid failed to provide full information to the politicians who made the decisions.
A “modest” proportion of intermittent energy from wind turbines (perhaps a quarter of what we have here now) could have made some sense in the Ontario system. There would have been higher costs, of course, and perhaps some CO2 reductions, but not nearly as much as was widely touted at the time.
I also do not think that the operators initially would have imagined that the politicians would go as far as they have down the present path. If a little is OK, more must be better, eh? The former Premier of the Province obviously felt the need to be seen to be “doing something” to “save the planet.”
The shame of it is that the hole we are in is now almost impossibly deep, as you imply, and the present Premier doesn’t have the brains, the will or the moxy to do anything but carry on carrying on. However (and to mix metaphors), the unimaginably huge expense to drain this particular swamp (for example, getting out of 20-year contracts) might well be less expensive and better in the long run than the alternative of watching the whole thing go down the toilet.

Reply to  Duncan
January 30, 2017 8:10 pm

In Ontario renewables such as wind and solar are first in line to access the grid. Hydro and nuclear have to be curtailed to accommodate renewables first.
When wind has to be curtailed, it still gets paid a set amount for unused production.
Otherwise renewable projects would not be built if not first on the grid. A constant stream of money is required to attract investors to renewable energy projects.

Bruce Cobb
January 27, 2017 12:47 pm

Oh, I see, they want to back up the intermittent green energy sorces of wind and solar with “other”, more reliable sources of green energy. If such an animal existed, why wouldn’t they just use those sources to begin with? The stupidity, it burns.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 27, 2017 2:47 pm

You are using logic. That is a warmunist nono.

January 27, 2017 12:50 pm

They are so scared of the ultimate renewable energy source, and it has no CO2 outputs. Do like France and build build build nuclear.

Reply to  stephana
January 27, 2017 1:28 pm

France turned green stupid long ago, too: plans to reduce nuclear plants. One is currently being build but several will shut down.
Anyway gas plants are now cheaper, thanks to huge production and, on the other hand, insane safety regulations of nuclear plants.
bottom line: nuclear industry is dead in Europe. May survive and even thrive in China, where they are not that mad.

Conodo Mose
January 27, 2017 1:03 pm

For more on the health problems turbines bring, the dissatisfaction with wind turbines, see….…..European Platform Against Windfarms……to see just how much Europe hates its wind turbines, with its health effects, hates the damage wreaked on their countries.
Here in the U.S., the Washington and Oregon wind turbines, with capacity of 4780 MW, and I refer to the entire system of 46 windfarms, produced no power whatsoever for, on average, 9 days each month in the first half of 2015. In 2014, from January 5 to January 29, the wind turbines produced no power whatsoever for 25 days straight. I have written that wind power offers up seven (7) fatal flaws. Building more will not overcome these.
Countries are going bankrupt for renewables, Spain, Italy, Germany cites a threat of “deindustrialization”, UK is building power it cannot afford. If Obama were still in charge the US would continue blind, headlong into this madness as well.
For more bad news about wind power, a short list:
“Human Rights and Wind Energy Projects” -Peter Mitchell, March 2016
“A problem with wind power” – Eric Rosenbloom, at
“Speaking truth to wind power” – Michael Trebilcock, SPPI Reprint Series, April 2009, explains reasons this green act is anything but green for Ontario
“Electricity costs: The folly of wind-power” – Ruth Lea January 2012, Civitas,
“Wind energy: Facts and fiction-A half truth is a whole lie” – J.A. Halkema, electrical engineer
“Wind report 2005” from E.ON, a German electricity company, cited by Halkema, that operates 7000 turbines provides insight into its almost unsolvable problems caused by Germany’s extensive use of wind energy.

January 27, 2017 1:21 pm

This doesn’t surprise me. The left’s answer to problems cause by government has always been more government,

Walt D.
Reply to  MattS
January 27, 2017 1:46 pm


January 27, 2017 1:37 pm

Unicorn: The unicorn hitch is a three horse hitch, with a pair behind a single horse. This is a very difficult hitch to drive.

January 27, 2017 1:38 pm

“twice as expensive, half as reliable”
Wait a second, you can’t just cast that as a negative, on a positive note that philosophy has been very effective in getting democrats elected. Well maybe not lately…but it worked for quite awhile.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Alx
January 27, 2017 1:51 pm

It also tastes great and is less filling.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 28, 2017 4:39 am

Have you ever tried “fat-free” half-and-half in the dairy products section of your grocery store?
If you do, also buy a real one as a replacement for when you throw it out in disgust.

January 27, 2017 1:54 pm

Just had a discussion about the “solution” of the intermittent energy sources: connect whole Europe with each other and the problem is “solved”.
In theory, indeed the probability of a European wide none wind is quite low, but even then there are many hours that the wind is less than 10% of average capacity (not nameplate capacity, which is much worse) in whole Europe. Solar in winter is ~10% of production in summer and peak hours are after sunset…
Two interesting works on that:
in French, but Fig.5 gives the difference between 1 country and 6 interconnected countries.
From Euan Mearns, a similar work, including solar:
Thus to fulfill the needs of whole Europe you need a 10-fold of real capacity in every country and a network that can have loads as high as what near all Europe needs, as the overcapacity may be generated e.g. in Scandinavia and must be distributed via all countries, which all need some part of it down to Portugal, or reverse. Or from Ireland to Bulgary or reverse…
The current target of Europe is that the interconnections between countries gets up to 10% of what a country needs…
Some interesting simulation taking into account all possible failures in the European countries and the probabality of a real shortage/blackout can be read here:

Bryan A
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
January 27, 2017 2:18 pm

Anothet hhing to consider though is Population Densities. You could fairly easily power a rural location from Solar Panels using strictly Roof Top mounted devices with extremely limited (but still necessary) interties to Grid Power. But, If you were to try it with Manhattan Island, due to Population Density you would require an area that is 4 to 8 times the area of Manhattan Island to repower that city. Likewise for many other population centers.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
January 27, 2017 2:24 pm

Transporting electricity over long distances means much of it lost in transmission.

Reply to  MarkW
January 27, 2017 3:40 pm

Most long distance transport and in under sea anyway is done by high voltage DC lines, as these have much less losses through capacitance with the surroundings. China is building UHVDC lines over thousands of km westward and maybe reach Europe in a decade or so to sell their surplus (coal!) power to Europe… Even with a loss of around 30% over such a distance, it still can be profitable…
See the infocommercial of ABB:

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
January 29, 2017 8:57 am

Food for thought re long-distance undersea interconnects:
All nations with an extensive sea-power, and quite a few others, are feverishly developing remote underwater technologies. Ponder for a moment what that means for any nation which relies upon undersea interconnects to supply industry and household power.

January 27, 2017 2:11 pm

If they think that they can use windmills/solar arrays on one side of the country to power the other side depending on what regions are getting wind/sun today, then they are forgetting about the huge losses involved in trying to send electricity long distances.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
January 27, 2017 2:19 pm

Naw, They will just Fed-Ex it

Reply to  MarkW
January 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Days like this there would be no wind powered energy for all practical purposes in the continental US.

January 27, 2017 2:18 pm

Important as needed.

January 27, 2017 2:21 pm

How much to overbuild wind or solar can never be fully satisfied.
If a given area assumes that it will acquire power from an adjacent area if its wind stops, then that adjacent area has to overbuild sufficiently to supply both its own power and the first area. And the first area must do the same. But what if wind outage could extend over many adjacent areas? Then each area would have to overbuild to supply power to all other areas. To be 100% secure the overbuilding would have to be tremendous.

Reply to  donb
January 27, 2017 4:49 pm

I can answer that question, the overbuild ratio is 25, that is to provide secure 24 x 7 reneweable energy with 5 days ride through you need 50 times the nameplate. Put another way once you provide for the intermittency a 200 Watt Nameplate Solar supply can be relied upon to deliver just 4 Watts at something approaching grid equivalent reliability. Wind can’t be used to generate grid equivalent reliability at all because it can be becalmed for months.
The unspoken issue though is that weather conversion schemes like Solar and Wind need to be exposed to – well – the weather. That means Cyclones, Floods, and Sand Storms. The risks of widespread catastrophic failure of weather exposed generation can’t be understated. Coal/Gas generation can be built anywhere and protected from the weather.

Reply to  bobl
January 27, 2017 8:13 pm

oops 50 not 25

Gunga Din
January 27, 2017 2:43 pm

What’s that phrase? “Don’t throw good money after bad.”
What that phrase doesn’t include is “the middleman”.
My guess is “the middlemen” are behind this. 😎

January 27, 2017 2:47 pm

My vote for low CO2 “other generation” is nuclear. It seems to me that if you believe CO2 is a real problem (as I do) then the problems associated with nuclear energy (which we have been operating quite successfully for decades) pales into in significance. France has used nuclear for decades and has had no problems on a “global crisis” scale.
I find it very frustrating when “greens” try to prohibit nuclear. I am a believer in science and evidence. The evidence strongly points to CO2 being a big problem and nuclear energy being a very small problem on a global scale.
The economics of nuclear is another issue, but nuclear power should not be discouraged on environmental grounds.

Reply to  seaice1
January 27, 2017 2:56 pm

Seaice1, even if CO2 is a big problem in the distant future, we should take the time to move to 4th gen from the present 3rd gen. Fourth gen isn’t just passive safety, it is about spent fuel and operating efficiency and capital cost. Get the TransAtomic Power white paper for a thoughtful example analysis. Suggests envineering problems rather than needed inventions. Five year engineering moonshot program, then build and test a ‘standard’ pilot, then roll out. In current nuclear environment, no private company can do that without gov assistance.

Reply to  seaice1
January 27, 2017 3:48 pm

Seaice1. Good to see your level headed approach to the ‘problem’ but why is not every other ‘green’ promoting this as a viable solution, short or long term? Many others see nuclear power, being so cheap and effective at maintaining the status quo, allowing humans to still thrive, expand and consume. They want us to dial back, reduce, in some cases fade away. If you can answer why nuclear is not promoted widely to resolve this CO2 issue, I think this will lead you to the heart of the problem argued here.
As well, it is counter productive to the ‘green’ values, as history has shown when any society or country has cheap, reliable power, birth rates are reduced and with an excess of time and money, this is spent on improving the quality of the environment (quality of life) as everyone is not just concerned with their next meal, killing endangered animals to eat or cutting forests to cook.
I was a Star Trek fan, with Warp Reactors, aka unlimited energy, there may come a time what we don’t even care if we get paid. Money is a unit of energy, if you can synthesize food (or anything) with energy, no need for money.

Reply to  seaice1
January 27, 2017 4:07 pm

seaice, I am impressed with your approach. I’ll post a link to talk which I believe you will find both interesting and troubling as soon as I get to my computer. I didn’t know you could engage as more than a troll and am impressed.

Reply to  seaice1
January 27, 2017 4:20 pm

Duncan. “but why is not every other ‘green’ promoting this as a viable solution, short or long term? ”
I don’t know, it seems common sense to me. There is anti science on all sides. Anti GMO activists also abuse science. There may be problems with GMO but they are not the ones promoted by many activists. I believe we should follow the evidence and not let ideology cloud our judgement.
Hunter; I am disappointed that you view my alternative views as trolling. I had thought I was engaging in occasionally productive discourse.

Reply to  seaice1
January 27, 2017 4:56 pm

Seaice..I don’t believe we will all die tomorrow (not saying you do) due to CO2. I see cheap, reliable, energy as the fix for all man ‘sins’, regardless of your/their CO2 concerns. Imagine the farmer in Afghanistan forced to grow poppies (heroine) to feed his family. Imagine if he could get enough energy to send his daughters to school, irrigate his fields to grow alternative crops, the internet for education, excess money to pay for a police force. Energy will fix many of these problems. He will no longer be held hostage to sustenance living. Drug addiction, Taliban taxes, etc. fade away. Unfortunately depriving these people of energy, hydrocarbons or otherwise just perpetuates many of the problems we see today.
To Hunters “non-troll” comment, take it as a compliment.

Reply to  seaice1
January 28, 2017 5:15 am

seaice, the earlier comment was meant as a compliment and I should have worded it more diplomatically.

January 27, 2017 2:49 pm

So when the clouds roll in and the winds die, you can have four times as many idle generators…

January 27, 2017 3:12 pm

boondoggle – noun (North American; informal)
Work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

January 27, 2017 4:03 pm

Well by the laws of inverse squares if you build twice as many wind mills, it’s only half as calm on a windless day. And if you build twice as many solar panels, it’s only half as dark at night. We’re talking economies of scale, man! This will be as effective as spending our way to prosperity. I really hope President Trump gets these climate fraudsters shut down hard.

January 27, 2017 4:28 pm

Second week of low/no wind energy production at BPA.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  RichardT
January 27, 2017 7:37 pm

“A slight chance of flurries and freezing drizzle after 10pm. Patchy fog before 10pm. Patchy freezing fog. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 31. Calm wind.
We are snow birds. Currently our RV in the Mojave desert. Summers will be in the PNW sailing.
However, the wind in the PNW is also unreliable on hot summer days. Breakout the 500 hp ski boats and beer.

Philip Schaeffer
January 27, 2017 5:50 pm
Philip Schaeffer
January 27, 2017 5:56 pm

Also, the text in the article here is the press release from European Physical Journal, and is not part of the paper.
Here is the source for the text presented here.
[no, not quite – Eurekalert is the source, most all science press release come from there -mod]

Philip Schaeffer
Reply to  Philip Schaeffer
January 29, 2017 5:24 pm

“Eurekalert is the source, most all science press release come from there”
You may have got it from Eurekalert, but the original source is the European Physical Journal. Nobody at Eureakalert wrote any of that text.
I believe that it is good practice to provide references to primary sources.

Horse Feathers
January 27, 2017 7:25 pm

Sounds to me like a classic example of diminishing returns. Like trying to keep an old car on the road, eventually, it becomes cheaper to buy a new one.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Horse Feathers
January 27, 2017 8:04 pm

No reason to get nasty about old cars. Since wind and PV does not work very, the value of power does not justify fixing them.

Bill Taylor
January 27, 2017 7:39 pm

strange world we live in now, those claiming they want to use “green” energy oppose putting co2 into the air which makes the earth GREENER, and promote less co2 in the air which makes the earth LESS GREEN.

Retired Kit P
January 27, 2017 8:12 pm

‘the wind is always blowing someplace’
Usually out of the mouth of idiot college professors at places like Stanford based on a study done by students. What do you want to hear professor to get a good grade?

January 27, 2017 8:47 pm

It just seems that the wind power proponents think that the future for humanity is a constantly changing minute to minute wishing dependency on hoping that the weather is beneficent enough to let us have, oh please, some power today because I need to, oh please, charge my heart p,a,,c,,e,,,r. . . .

January 28, 2017 12:01 am

You need a reliable storage for electrical power. And you need a mix of different resources. (wind, solar, biogas, natural gas, coal, oil) That’s all. In Germany we produce about 30% electricity by wind. Not 100 % and nobody calls for 100% wind. Believe me it works well! We don’t have blackouts as i.E. the USA. That’s because of the advanced grid we use.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  marty
January 28, 2017 3:47 am

Marty: May I suggest you take a read of Pierre Gosselin’s blog post on German wind.

Reply to  marty
January 28, 2017 5:21 am

marty, Merkel and the greens appear to have fooled you. Wind on a really really perfect day might produce 30% for a small period of time. Additionally, what can possibly be considered “green” about something that destroys so many square kilometers of the environment to make so little unreliable energy?

January 28, 2017 12:06 am

“First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?”
S.R. Hadden, “Contact”, 1997

January 28, 2017 2:23 am

This requires creating an oversised power system to produce large amounts of surplus energy.
Wouldn’t an “oversized” power system be even better?

January 28, 2017 2:54 am

Re above: France shutting nuclear plants down, looking at their power outputs, I do not think France will be shutting any nuclear plant anytime soon.
They are currently producing 76% of their electrical output using nuclear, with hydro and gas making up most of the remainder. It would cost an inordinate amount of money too denuclearize their system.
for no positive benefit.
uk grid here:

Reply to  steverichards1984
January 28, 2017 4:05 am

Well you are wrong: French policy is to reduce nuclear and increase renewables. They are facing an enormous bill to keep their nuclear plant running -it is all reaching its design limit at the same time.

Reply to  Griff
January 28, 2017 3:09 pm

Not really,Griff.

Reply to  steverichards1984
January 28, 2017 5:32 am

steverichards, never underestimate the stupidity if the arrogant greens.

Harry Passfield
January 28, 2017 3:12 am

My local Council is promoting the installation of two large solar farms in fields near my village. One of the Councillors for the scheme had the gall to tell our local press that he welcomes the solar farms as a means of ‘slashing fuel bills and poverty’ and telling them that the ‘[community] should benefit from this plan [with lower bills]’. I cannot think of a more technologically illiterate statement from a person who was voted in to office in order to help and support his constituents. Needless to say, a sharp letter has been sent to the local press on the subject.

January 28, 2017 4:12 am

Well, this is just a projection: current German policy doesn’t call for more than 80% of electricity from renewables, by 2050. They are already at 32% and well on the way thus to their 2020 35% target.
(They closed one nuclear plant last year, plan to close a few GW of coal by 2020 and have built their last ever coal power plants -one of which has never switched on)
and of course there is no need for the wind and solar to actually be in Germany, what with their being a connected grid and shared electricity market across W Europe.
The first cross border Danish/German solar tenders went in this year: the new Danish/German/Swedish shared grid windfarms are going in in the Baltic and new German HVDC lines to Netherlands and Norway are building.
There are new trends such as wind farms with built in pumped hydro and many grid storage schemes too…
Really, difficult though it is technically, Germany will get to 100% renewable and no nukes. Certainly no issue with targets after 2025 when their North/south HVDC finally arrives.

Reply to  Griff
January 28, 2017 5:27 am

When it comes to “green” predictions Grif is gullible as those folks who watch some televangelist explain how they have unlocked the prophecies of the second coming and sends in money to help that televangelist. Grif simply ignores reality and prefers to cling to the repeatedly disproven predictions big green cynically produces.

Reply to  Griff
January 28, 2017 7:03 pm

Germany is unlikely to ever get even 40% of its energy from renewables. German energy policy is pure politics.

January 28, 2017 4:57 am

This site shows the hourly production and consumption of all the sources of electrical energy in Germany.
It also shows how the prices per MWh vary wildly depending on the supply of green electricity.
You can select any timeframe to see the results
Anybody still thinks solar and wind alone can do the job?

Reply to  Henk
January 28, 2017 5:31 am

Reality is not something the climate true believer really wants to face. California, home of the strongest “green” energy laws lags the nation in carbon reduction. Wind destabilized a large grid in Australia so badly they are going to reduce wind.

Marlene Weingart
January 28, 2017 6:32 am

“When Plans fail, the Planners Plan” Ronald Reagen

January 28, 2017 6:42 am

This is the same reasoning the dunces use babbling on about technological innovation with solar and look how much the cost has come down already skeptical folks? When you have solar panels on your roof due to a generous FIT scheme and you can read the output inverter output for yourself, you know exactly what middle class welfare it really is. On top of that you already know your system is only 16-17% efficient at turning the sun’s rays into electricity but don’t worry the men in white lab coats will get us to Green Nirvana.
Bollocks! Even if they can suspend the laws of physics and reach 100% efficiency, all that will do is multiply all those inverter readouts around six times what you get now and six times nothing at night is still nothing dunces. We just get 6 times the variability and even if it cost 1c per kilowatt maximum output, that’s 1c too much at night dummies. What do they teach in arithmetic at primary school nowadays?

January 28, 2017 8:45 am

Has anyone ever looked at the costs of these green proposals? They are measured in multiples of WORLD GDP!!! That isn’t a joke.
Just How Much Does 1 Degree C Cost? image

Retired Kit P
January 28, 2017 1:59 pm

“Well you are wrong: French policy is to reduce nuclear and increase renewables. They are facing an enormous bill to keep their nuclear plant running -it is all reaching its design limit at the same time.”
Griff seems to be confused between what politicians say they are going to do and what engineers actually do.
The US is the world leader in nuclear power. Everyone else is a distant second. For this reason the Japanese and French bought all the US reactor builders. The 40 year design life of nuke plants is not a design limit. In the US, many plants have been evaluated to operate longer and at higher power since the design limits were very conservative 40 years ago. The US industry is now working on making plants last 80 years.
The French thinking was to replace existing French plants with the 1600 MWe EPR designed for 60 years. I am not sure if this was not a make work project of the socialist government. The French were also going to build 7 US EPRs in partnership with US utilities.
Culturally, the French are lazy and arrogant. The first lesson they learned from the US is how to make existing reactors last longer. They have also found that regulators are much harder on the arrogant than they used to be. Even in France.
I have been told that the first EPR make come online this year in China. I worked on this plant in China before retiring. Meeting the original schedule would have been a huge accomplishment. Now it is a case of limiting the embarrassment for the French.

Derek Colman
January 28, 2017 5:07 pm

Germany is already proving it does not work. They have installed too much wind and solar and shut down nuclear plants. As a result they are having to rely heavily on imported power from neighbours at times, which mostly comes from fossil fuels and nuclear. In order to stave off the inevitable Big German Blackout Day, they are now frantically building brown coal power stations and keeping their fingers crossed they get online in time. The result of all this nonsense has been an increase in the average household electricity by 200 Euros pa, and over 600,000 homes disconnected because they can’t pay their bills.

Krisztina Lackey
January 28, 2017 10:14 pm
Sometimes renewable energy can provide more reliable energy.

Reply to  Krisztina Lackey
January 29, 2017 3:05 am

Sure. For remote islands with no large scale power generation, negligible consumption, reliant on very unreliable and costly shipments of diesel, with a benefactor to provide solar cells and batteries at effectively infinite cost per MW at no charge to the users, and with no mission critical applications such as hospitals exposed to the vagiaries of solar, I heartily recommend renewables.

Reply to  Andrew
January 29, 2017 3:16 am

Although I guess you also have to be indifferent to defoliation and destruction of agricultural land on a mammoth scale (indeed, place no value on your land at all), not care about killing animal life, by indifferent to the heat island, and completely ignore the disposal of incredibly toxic materials after the end of the useful life. And be prepared to allocate massive resources to cleaning and maintenance.

January 29, 2017 2:16 am

These people are quite literally mentally ill. They are completely incapable of seeing that there’s ANY problem at all with renewables. They don’t cost more. They aren’t unreliable. They aren’t unstable. They don’t require crippling capital cost (and massive grid duplication). They don’t kill birds. They aren’t ugly. They don’t consume a yuuuge amount of steel and concrete, roughly offsetting any abatement potential. They don’t require idling coal base load. They aren’t subsidised. Da Fossil Fuels ARE subsidised. Electric cars won’t be unfeasible when there’s more than 10 due to the extreme shortage of supercharge points. Climate data isn’t fudged to promote Big Wind. It doesn’t export jobs to China. It didn’t cause the Spanish economic collapse.
There’s literally nothing that can be said to these people.

January 29, 2017 4:17 am

If one utilizes all options, it is possible to get 100% (or 90% or 80%) of power from intermittent renewable energy sources. All options include:
1) Overbuilding. If average production is 30% of nameplate capacity, then build a nameplate renewable capacity that is perhaps 10X peak demand. With this much overbuilding, the periods when output will be less than 10% of nameplate capacity will be relatively short. (In some locations, perhaps as little as 5X nameplate capacity may be practical.)
2) Diversify where possible. Solar helps meet greater demand during the day and where peak demand occurs during summer. If available, hydroelectric can be used when wind and/or solar can’t meet demand.
3) Storage: Build enough storage to get through short periods (typically a few days) when renewable output falls below 10% of nameplate capacity. Pumped hydroelectric is already practical. (Many dams in the Alps have installed pumps to send water uphill when surplus German renewable electricity is cheap and the water is released on calm winter days – when Germany is willing to pay a high price for power.) Underground storage of compressed air in natural caverns appears promising. After decades of effort, major breakthroughs in technology for renewable electricity PRODUCTION appear unlikely, but (except for batteries) breakthroughs in energy storage may be possible.
4) Use surplus electricity. About 2/3 of nameplate capacity will not be used to meet current demand and storage is/will be too expensive to save much of this surplus. In theory, the surplus can be used to make hydrogen and/or liquid fuels. Since this power would otherwise be wasted, its price will be cheap and efficiency will not be critical.
5) Demand management: Charge customers less if they are willing to curtail their demand during times of shortage. For the right discount, many customers will adapt and shift their demand to periods when electricity is in surplus.
6) Reduce overall demand through efficiency.
7) Put up with outages. 24 hours of outage per year (99.7% reliability) is common in developed countries today. It will be cheaper to accept somewhat lower reliability in return for cheaper electricity.
8) Long-distance power lines may be too expensive, have too little capacity (and be too vulnerable to attack) to be of much use.
All of these are EXPENSIVE, but technically feasible. It’s all about the cost. For British scenarios, see:
Is 100% or 90% or 80% renewable worth the cost? Not for developing countries. Developed countries are rich enough to pay perhaps 3-5X more for renewable electricity IF THEY WISH (and are willing to subsidize their less affluent citizens). Or if they are swindled by green politicians. Nuclear would certainly be cheaper. At the moment, adaptation appears to make more sense than expensive mitigation (IMO).

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Frank
January 29, 2017 6:13 am

You first.

Reply to  Rainer Bensch
January 29, 2017 10:13 pm

As our supply of fossil fuels shrinks and becomes more expensive, we will make more use of renewable energy. The only questions are: 1) How much CO2 will be in the atmosphere when we do make significant use of renewable energy? 2) How much warming will that CO2 have caused?

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
January 30, 2017 1:34 am

1) No.
2) No.

Alex Mason
January 31, 2017 7:14 am

Wasn’t there are UK Civil Engineer guy who worked out that despite the UK tripling the wind capacity over a number of years, the actual average output for the year didn’t increase much at all. Surely over building has to be viewed with healthy skepticism. And not just from the capacity vs output argument, but from the efficient use of materials argument. Over building just seems incredibly wasteful and a poor use of resources.

Reply to  Alex Mason
January 31, 2017 3:41 pm

It’s called diminishing marginal returns, or, even negative marginal returns. Actually all renewables have negative marginal returns, and, in all likelyhood produce much more carbon dioxide on a 100% guaranteed delivered kilowatt (or whatever measure one uses), than, conventional power. I took a gander at the EIA data from 2014 recently. First of all, they lie, or, can’t add particularly with regard to overnight capital costs of solar. Hint: they thought single axis trackers and fixed rack trackers had the same overnight costs. But, that is not the point. I calculated, that, the overnight capital cost of solar, for a given 100% guaranteed delivered electron like conventional sources, is, 30X greater than conventional sources on average.
If they continue, they will disrupt the grid and destroy us. It needs to stop now.
Wind line drop costs are twice conventional line drops. Ever try to dig in mountain rock or caleche? And, they are far from the delivery point. So, the line drops costs get very large. Reality, not pie in the sky. Wind is driving merchant single site nuclear out of business with it’s productions credit — particularly in non-regulated states with stand alone reactors. They have to sell under their variable cost curve. And, you just can’t regulate reactor output. So, we have 50gw of planned nuclear shut-in in the next 6 years.
And, our new generation installs are running behind our overall shut-ins of clean reliable conventional fuels. In a few years America’s grid will get unstable. Already sub-grids have less than the necessary 25% surge capacity necessary for winter, but, particularly summer operations. There are hints of grid instability in the fire insurance data as well. And, when the grid goes down so does our electronic economy.
This scam needs to end now. But, methinks we waited too long.
That being said, I am a big advocate of solar for where off-grid is the only choice. And, new R&D needs to be sunk into it. There is a tantlyzing prospect out there — Perovskites. But, even if this technology makes it out of the lab, and, into mainstream at great cost effectiveness, the Balance of System costs will still leave solar as a niche technology —- even with a breakthrough in battery technology.

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