Renewable energy cost and reliability claims exposed and debunked

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin


A new paper  published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) from NOAA’s Earth System Laboratory, Boulder Colorado exposes and debunks the contrived claims of a recent renewable energy study which falsely alleged that low cost and reliable 100% renewable energy electric grids are possible.

The new paper concludes that the prior study is based upon significant modeling inadequacies, is “poorly executed” and contains “numerous shortcomings” and “errors” making it “unreliable as a guide about the likely cost, technical reliability, or feasibility of a 100% wind, solar and hydroelectric power system.”

Additionally the new paper harshly chastises the previous study by noting “It is one thing to explore the potential use of technologies in a clearly caveated hypothetical analysis; it is quite another to claim that a model using these technologies at an unprecedented scale conclusively shows the feasibility and reliability of the modeled energy system implemented by midcentury.”

The new paper describes in detail many flaws and failures of the prior study to address and appropriately deal with critical electric system reliability requirements as follows:





The government mandated requirement that renewable energy generation has priority “must take” status whenever offered to the electric grid thereby exempting it from free energy market competition has created extensive energy market price distortions which are unacknowledged and concealed from the public by renewable energy activists, owners and their biased mainstream media supporters.

These government driven energy market price distortions are directly related to the inability of non-dispatchable renewable energy to provide electric system reliability and stability capabilities.

Renewable energy resources cannot provide predictable load variation, spinning reserves required for system regulating margin and load changes nor do they have synchronous generators needed to stabilize electric grid system frequency.

Additionally renewable energy resources are unable to provide black start capabilities in the event of a system wide power black out.

All of these critical electric grid reliability and stability needs must instead be provided by dispatchable generation resources including fossil, nuclear and hydro power plants.

These dispatchable generation resources provide electric system regulating requirements that manage and control both load and frequency variations and planned and unplanned changes without which the electric system collapses and fails.

Because of the “must take” provisions of renewable energy the number of operating hours available for dispatchable power plants is significantly reduced which drives up the unit costs of production for these plants without which the electric system cannot be reliably operated.

The increased costs imposed on dispatchable power plants created by the politically driven “must take” provisions of renewables are not assigned as a responsibility of renewables but instead are assigned to the dispatchable generation resources.

This politically driven practice completely distorts free energy market pricing and acts as a government mandated subsidy which hides the true costs of non-dispatchable renewable energy.

The most recent PNAS study shows the prior renewable paper was an attempt by renewable energy activists to try and coverup the long standing and extensive price distortion of free energy markets created by the inability of renewable energy to provide electric system reliability and stability capabilities.

These energy market price distortions have been in existence for decades, were created by the governments politically driven mandate of “must take” energy from renewable energy resources, grossly undervalue electric system reliability and stability attributes provided by dispatchable resources and hide billions of dollars in increased costs that are created by the mandated use of non-dispatchable renewable energy.

The world of government driven renewable energy promotion is built upon a foundation characterized by two huge fundamental deceptions.

First and foremost is the deception that man made CO2 emissions are controlling global climate. This deception has been exposed as wrong as clearly demonstrated by flawed and failed climate models, failed projections of coastal sea level rise acceleration, failed projections of increased extreme weather and failed politically driven efforts to expunge the decades long global temperature hiatus.


Second is the deception that renewable energy is cost effective and reliable both of which have been exposed as wrong as demonstrated by the need for massive and decades long government “must take” mandates and huge cost subsidies.


Owners of dispatchable generation which provide all electrical system reliability and satiability provisions have been badly energy market disadvantaged and had the their generation resource assets significantly devalued based upon the flawed and absurd government driven politics of mandated and subsidized renewable energy use. It is time for this to stop.

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Tom Halla
June 21, 2017 7:50 pm

Open market pricing of non-dispatchable power sources would be deeply discounted, not subsidized, if any significant value is placed on the reliability of the network. Currently, prioritizing non-dispatchable power sources leads to situations like South Australia.
The defenders of “renewable energy”, wind and solar, will claim it does work anyway, and dismiss all evidence to the contrary.

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 21, 2017 8:00 pm

Tom, you were thinking like me.

Reply to  Clay Sanborn
June 21, 2017 11:20 pm

Additionally renewable energy resources are unable to provide black start capabilities in the event of a system wide power black out.

This problem was highlighted in the S.A. blackout but it does not mean that a black start capability could not be included in wind or other “renewable” systems. It is just that they were too stupid to ensure this could be done before creating a highly unbalanced grid, most of which could not black start.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 21, 2017 8:17 pm

Long term contracts for electricity between utilities (sellers) and municipal grid operators (buyers) are where you find the cheapest prices for electricity, which are wholly based upon available capacity. With wind and solar there is no “available” available. That elephant is so large that it can’t even get in the room to not be noticed.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  mairon62
June 22, 2017 7:37 am


ron long
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 22, 2017 2:48 am

It’s worse than that Tom. Not only will the defenders of wind and solar dismiss all evidence to the contrary, they also will turn a blind eye to the daily carnage occurrring at wind and solar sites. I have personally watched birds fly into the glow around the liquid sodium canister atop the tower at the solar plant near Barstow, California, and turning into smoking death spirals, but also stood underneath the large wind turbines northeast of Casper, Wyoming and was amazed at the dead bird collection, including protected raptors, littering the ground. You cannot imagine how big those wind turbines are and how fast the blade tips move until you stand underneath one. I remember Security found a dead crow alongside one of the cyanide pregnant ponds at the Florida Canyon Mine in Nevada and phoned the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and were instructed to place the dead bird in a refrigerator and wait. Three different agencies sent two “man” teams to check out the crow. So the wind and solar advocates just accept the bird deaths as what? OK for me but not for you? Bad Birds? Kamikazee Trump supporters?

Paul Mackey
Reply to  ron long
June 22, 2017 4:53 am

I find it sickening how much environmental damage the greens will promote.

Reply to  ron long
June 22, 2017 6:49 am

Here’s what Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke says about the bird choppers:
“Speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke speaks on the high environmental costs associated with the nation’s wind and solar industries: “You know wind chops around 650- or 750,000 birds a year. Wind comes at a cost. […] If you’ve been outside of Las Vegas and looked at that solar field, it kind of looks like a scene from Mad Max. Is that the future of having these three or four eighty foot towers with reflector cells the size of garage doors where it makes this cone — this sphere of death — so as birds go through it they get zapped.”
end excerpt
President Trump also had some disparaging words for windmills and what they do to birds, last night in his speech in Iowa.
This wholesale killing of our wildlife should be banned. We don’t need windmills and solar thermal for any number of reasons, including killing wildlife.
Nuclear can do anything and everything better than windmills and/or solar thermal. The people focused on reducing CO2 should move to promoting nuclear power generation, and windmills and solar thermal should be banned and existing facilities should be removed.
Look at all the destruction this CO2 dishonesty is causing, all over the world. Slaughtering the wildlife and on top of that making things worse for the electrical grid than better, and more expensive rather than less expensive. Lose, lose. The alarmists are on the completely wrong track.

Reply to  ron long
June 22, 2017 2:13 pm

You are completely right.
But the religion of Central Control – of World Government, a sort of EU on steroids (lots of them) – will not relent.
Oh – one side effect of (some) steroids, in the sort of doses taken in the 1970s, was Erectile Dysfunction in men.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 22, 2017 8:23 am

Rather than relegating dispatchable power generation to second class status the non-dispatchable generation facilities should be made to provide for the system capacitance and frequency controls necessary for grid integrity.
The must-take requirement is completely backwards as it promotes the more expensive and less reliable over the more reliable less expensive methods of energy creation.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 22, 2017 8:46 am

beyond reasonable
inertia is always an afterthought if that

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 22, 2017 10:25 pm

Its simpler to build a wind farm or solar array that provide reliable energy (baseload) when government forces the purchase of renewable energy at higher prices than a coal fired power station. Add batteries or pumped storage and the price will go higher.
Fairies at the bottom of the garden used to kill you. People were afraid of them. Now we teach our children that fairies are good.
In Australia we are doomed. No Donald to save us. Fully in the hands of the money printers awaiting the inevitable housing price crash in Sydney and Melbourne. A US 2009 re-run. The immigration rate of 5% is slowly but surely eating away at middle class incomes. No real pay rises since 2012.
The chairs are few and the music will soon cease. Those with ring side seats have already cashed out to enjoy the show.

Clay Sanborn
June 21, 2017 7:58 pm

Can we all agree to contact our respective congress people and let them know we are sick of politics on this issue, and inform them on the other salient info regarding “renewables” vs energy market forces.

Reply to  Clay Sanborn
June 21, 2017 11:21 pm

Yeah, contact your political representative and tell him you do not want any more politics. That’ll fix it !

Reply to  Greg
June 22, 2017 12:55 am

Yeah, Greg . . . best not to say anything to anyone . . that’ll fix it !

Reply to  Greg
June 22, 2017 6:33 pm

“JohnKnight June 22, 2017 at 12:55 am
Yeah, Greg . . . best not to say anything to anyone . . that’ll fix it !”

What an intelligent strawman distraction false argument giffiepoo!
Specious, erroneous false argument style known as “red herring” strawman.
giffiepoo’s words, giffiepoo’s specious strawman argument.

June 21, 2017 8:03 pm

Owners of dispatchable generation which provide all electrical system reliability and satiability provisions have been badly energy market disadvantaged and had the their generation resource assets significantly devalued based upon the flawed and absurd government driven politics of mandated and subsidized renewable energy use. It is time for this to stop.

The free market will take advantage of this. Nobody will build new dispatchable generation. Old generation will leave service earlier because it is no longer economically viable.

Reply to  commieBob
June 21, 2017 8:17 pm

The free market will take advantage of handle this.

Jurien Dekter
Reply to  commieBob
June 21, 2017 8:23 pm

Currently in Australia, the banks won’t lend you money if you want to build a coal-fired power station. So the free market is non-existent. Hopefully that will change.

Dave Fair
Reply to  commieBob
June 21, 2017 11:40 pm

Wrong-o, commieBob! As the predictable decrease in system reliability manifests itself, governments will (and currently are) step in and pay a premium for the good old reliables. What the government mandates in expensive unreliables, it will add more costs to provide reliability. Doubly expensive.
Don’t think the government will step in? Then you do not understand politics.

Old England
Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 1:02 am

In the UK the National Grid has been giving out contracts for ‘standby’ diesel electicity-generating plants which can be brought on stream immediately to meet supply drops / demand increase. This has had to be done because of the increase in intermittemt and unreliable wind power.
Another illustration of the fact that wind power does not reduce CO2 emissions – it serves to increase them even with conventional gas-fired generation as back-up. This was studied 2 or 3 years ago using the Irish national generators and the Dutch and a per-reviewed paper was published on this.
The need to use diesel as a backup in the UK means that the more wind power there is the higher will be CO2 emissions. That is well known and from that I conclude that there are those in Government who know full well that CO2 is not an issue where climate change is concerned But it is an issue in the minds of AGW brainwashed voters – and that is hardly surprising after decades of preaching the climate change religion in schools.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 3:34 am

It was late and I wasn’t very clear. What I was getting at was:

… their generation resource assets significantly devalued …

Depending on how you look at it, it’s something akin to theft.
In capitalism nobody has a right to make a profit. Businesses thrive or go bust depending on their performance in the market. Having said that, I think most people would agree that having the rug yanked out from under them by the government isn’t even close to being fair. Anyway, no business is going to build new capacity under those circumstances. If existing operators can’t meet the cost of doing business they will go bankrupt.
You’re absolutely right, of course the government will have to step in. The chorus of voices pointing out that renewables aren’t viable should become deafening. It hasn’t happened yet because standing up to the CAGW alarmists costs votes. Even Donald Trump seems to be backing off.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 6:50 am

Old England “This was studied 2 or 3 years ago using the Irish national generators and the Dutch and a per-reviewed paper was published on this.”
Do you have the reference for this paper?

Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:07 pm

I see renewables still have one fan:
“President Trump on Wednesday pledged to crack down on immigration and to use solar panels to help pay for a promised wall on the Mexican border.”

Jurien Dekter
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:20 pm

Scott Adams has an interesting blog entry on this issue. He calls it persuasion.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:24 pm

So what? He says a lot of stupid things and has many poorly formed ideas. At least it’s not quite as ridiculous or damaging an idea as you and your brethren’s world socialism dream though.
I love how liberals quote their most hated enemies the very few times they agree, as if it somehow vindicates their viewpoints. How about just make a logical case, instead of falling back on your standard operating procedure of hero worship/vilification.

Reply to  imamenz
June 22, 2017 4:48 am

I see you haven’t caught up to Trump’s play yet.

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:27 pm

I think Trump was just trolling Green-Left types.

Reply to  Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia
June 22, 2017 3:26 am

I took his comments as very facetious and I loved every minute of it.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Ej
June 22, 2017 9:07 am

Too true. Trump’s nasty sense of humor has been taken to mean his sarcastic line that the investigators should ask the Russians for Hillary’s missing emails meant he was advocating Russians should hack Hilary. There are some people on this thread who also seem to lack an ability to detect sarcasm , Nick Stokes for one.

Reply to  Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia
June 22, 2017 4:16 am

In addition to trolling, perhaps he was pointing to the fact that if it seems ludicrous to install it on the border wall why is it not stupid to install it any where else?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:27 pm

“The higher it goes, the more valuable it is,” Trump said. “Pretty good imagination, right? . . . We could make it really look beautiful, too.”

Definitely pretty good imagination. He clearly has the soul of an artist, like Christo for instance. The beauty of the concept brings a tear to my eye.

Michael darby
Reply to  commieBob
June 21, 2017 8:51 pm

He may have the soul of an artist, but he’s got the disposition of a 13 year old. The futility of the concept brings a laugh to my soul.

Michael darby
Reply to  commieBob
June 21, 2017 8:53 pm

The higher it goes, the more it costs, and Mexico has said it ain’t gonna pay for it.

Reply to  commieBob
June 22, 2017 7:44 am

I’m skeptical that solar panels would be a viable option for hanging on a border wall. I can see the kids now, aiming their slingshots at the panels.
One might be able to use the heat absorbed by a wall to generate some kind of energy, but I don’t think solar panels are going to cut it.
They could string some flexible black plastic piping along the wall and provide nice hot baths for those near the wall. 🙂 I suppose black plastic piping would be less suseptible to vandalism, and easier to repair.

Reply to  commieBob
June 22, 2017 7:51 am

“The higher it goes, the more it costs, and Mexico has said it ain’t gonna pay for it.”
Mexico doesn’t really have a say in whether they pay for the wall. Trump has all sorts of ways of gettting money out of them, that they have very little control over.
Trump, for example, can pay for the wall by reducing or eliminating the $45 billion trade deficit the U.S. has with Mexico. Trump is already in meetings with Mexico and Canada to renegotiated the NAFTA agreement and reduce the unfair trade deficit.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:29 pm

Nick Stokes, “President Trump on Wednesday pledged to crack down on immigration and to use solar panels to help pay for a promised wall on the Mexican border.”
Is that a new tax on solar? That is the only way I can see solar generating income for the US Government. A new tax on solar, assuming they are talking large arrays, will impact the poor by driving up prices.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  lee
June 21, 2017 8:55 pm

The Donald speaks like a New Yorker speaks (learn what that means) and those that did not vote for him haven’t a clue.
Here is what he said: Trump Solar Wall
President Donald Trump is musing about putting solar panels on his proposed wall on the Mexican border.
Trump is suggesting at a rally Wednesday evening in Iowa that a solar wall would “create energy and pay for itself.”
He then joked it would mean Mexico “will have to pay much less money” to build it. Trump claimed as a candidate that Mexico would fully fund his impenetrable border wall — a plan Mexico rejected.
Trump also suggested the panels would make the wall “beautiful” and then praised himself by saying, “Pretty good imagination, right?

Note: joked & imagination
He’s from Brooklyn, not Bryn Mawr

Nick Stokes
Reply to  lee
June 22, 2017 2:11 am

“He’s from Brooklyn”
Queens, actually. Jamaica Estate. Not so remote from Bryn Mawr.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 21, 2017 8:52 pm

Nick, I think that means he plans to build his wall out of solar panels.

Reply to  Bartleby
June 21, 2017 8:54 pm

Maybe it could be a three pronged approach; he could put in a row of bird choppers low to the ground, followed by solid wall of solar panels, then finished off with razor wire?

Reply to  Bartleby
June 22, 2017 8:29 am

A wall of bird cooking concentrators would be interesting. 🙂

Reply to  Bartleby
June 24, 2017 9:10 pm

Mmm! Instant seagull pate!

Reply to  Bartleby
June 24, 2017 9:13 pm

If you did the razor wire right, you could end up with packaged instant seagull pate!
Taking out the feathers, beaks and feet could be problematic…

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2017 7:00 am

Wanna bet?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2017 3:32 am

Nick = Brain-washed AGW STUPID.
I don’t think the disease can get much worse than in his case.. !

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 24, 2017 9:14 pm

Come now. We’re all Engineers here. 🙂

June 21, 2017 8:35 pm

The political left are like little children that believe in magic. Just open the tap and water will come out. Just flick the wall switch and the lights will come on. Don’t they realize that on all those windless days, overcast, cloudy days, from the late afternoon until late the next morning, THERE WOULD BE NO GRID ELECTRICITY AVAILABLE??? Stating this simple fact is akin to making death threats against Santa. There is no magic grid. There is no alternative that does not include a massive environmental footprint…of course we could return to a pre-steam, pre-industrial economy? Sorry for the rant.

Tom Halla
Reply to  mairon62
June 21, 2017 8:44 pm

There is a faction of the hard-core greens that do want to return to a pre-industrial economy (for everyone but their precious selves). Paul Ehrlich’s comment that having cheap, unlimited power would be like giving an idiot child a machine gun is an exposition of that attitude.

Reply to  mairon62
June 21, 2017 10:31 pm


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 5:32 am

I guess you don’t recall the cold days of the 1970’s, no wind and lots of cold and frozen pipes, engines etc etc…

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 7:01 am

I remember a couple of wind towers that collapsed a few years ago because it got too cold.

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 7:28 am

From the linked piece:
“During winter in the UK, warmer periods are often windier, while colder periods are more calm, due to the prevailing weather patterns. Consequently we find that in winter as temperatures fall, and electricity demand increases, average wind energy supply reduces.”
“Finally the study highlights the risk of concurrent wide-scale high electricity demand and low wind power supply over many parts of Europe. Neighbouring countries may therefore struggle to provide additional capacity to the UK, when the UK’s own demand is high and wind power low.”

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Griff
June 23, 2017 3:03 am

“James Bolivar DiGriz June 22, 2017 at 7:28 am”
You really don’t expect Griff to read anything he posts do you?

Reply to  Griff
June 23, 2017 3:34 am

If you spray enough heat from helicopters, maybe you can manage a de-ice. !!

Leo Smith
Reply to  mairon62
June 22, 2017 1:39 am

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright
The stars shine out
In the night time sky
Cos the lights are all out
There’s no energy
From windmills or panels
Across the whole state
The batteries ran out
at half past eight
There’s no more nukes
To keep the lights on
Since the preachers spoke
of Satan’s radiation.
They didn’t want coal
and they didn’t want gas
So its candles only
at midnight mass.
Freeze in heavenly peace
Freeze in heavenly peace

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 22, 2017 2:28 pm

Leo Smith
Plus lots.
Many thanks!

Reply to  mairon62
June 22, 2017 7:01 am

Leftists believe that their desires trump reality.

June 21, 2017 8:49 pm

At this point it should seem patently obvious that “renewable” power systems just don’t work for base load energy.
It isn’t as if power was a niche market. Everyone needs it, everyone buys it. If renewable energy systems actually worked it would be obvious to everyone and we wouldn’t be talking about it. Why this is so difficult for folks to understand isn’t even interesting anymore.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Bartleby
June 21, 2017 11:52 pm

As energy costs rise due to renewables penetration, people will take notice. When people take notice, politicians take notice.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 2:48 am

Doubtful… People will continue to feel powerless to do anything about it, as they do with so many other things today. It’s why Trump got elected.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 7:03 am

They will only notice if they are given accurate information.
More likely the politicians will blame the price increases on greedy businessmen. The news media will back them up.
Then when the politicians start demanding the nationalization of the electric grid, the myrmidons will cheer.

Reply to  Dave Fair
June 22, 2017 7:55 am

“Doubtful… People will continue to feel powerless to do anything about it, as they do with so many other things today. It’s why Trump got elected.”
Yeah, but you know what, now that Trump has been elected, I don’t feel so powerless any more.

Reply to  Bartleby
June 22, 2017 12:24 am

I have just listened to UK’s Centrica power generation company spokesman on the radio explaining why his firm is selling large power plants and how local renewable generation is the future… (Radio 4 news)

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 7:04 am

Griff is a perfect example of the left’s eagerness to put their beliefs above reality.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 1:15 pm

You mean delusions.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 9:29 pm

…and how local renewable generation is the future…
Let’s keep it that way.

Reply to  Griff
June 24, 2017 8:29 pm

Well, at least as far in the future as possible…

Leo Smith
Reply to  Bartleby
June 22, 2017 2:05 am

At this point it should seem patently obvious that “renewable” power systems just don’t work.

John F. Hultquist
June 21, 2017 9:10 pm

Larry Hamlin,
How did I miss that original study?
I used to read a lot of science fiction, …
{Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, Le Guin, …}
… but that one is pure fantasy.
Thanks for the post.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
June 21, 2017 11:39 pm

I also used to read a lot of Asimov. In one book he said something to the effect that:
A society that respected bad philosophers (because they’re highbrow) over good plumbers (because they’re practical) was doomed to fail. Neither their theories, nor their pipes would hold water.
This can be said, doubled, for global warming.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
June 22, 2017 2:15 am

Jacobson & Delucchi 100% RE fantasy piece was published in Scientific American in 2009 as credible plan ( Unfortunately, that journal has become Politicized Science Fiction American over the past decades. in hot pursuit.

June 21, 2017 9:48 pm

So Trump is going to invest taxpayers money in solar panels. OK: Who is going to provide the subsidies? I thought he was supposed to be business savvy.

Reply to  cognog2
June 22, 2017 7:58 am

I think Trump’s plan is in the preliminary stages right now. We will have to wait to see if it amounts to anything.

June 21, 2017 10:02 pm

Hi from Oz. One example of how wind ‘farms’ are subsidised here in Australia – the latest annual report of a small rural cooperative (see: states that 62 % of their annual revenue came from renewable energy certificate sales (priced at A$74.54/MW, forcibly purchased by energy retailers), the remainder (38%) from the actual sale of wind-generated electricity (at A$42.73/MW), probably to those same retailers. The net profit of this co-op was a tidy A$213,961 (or 18% of gross revenue), for generating 9872 MWh of non-despatchable electricity over the year at a Capacity Factor of 27.5% of Nameplate. No wonder there are so many snouts in this trough!

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
June 22, 2017 2:19 am

The opposite of a free market. The real value of uncontrollable, unreliable, intermittent, remote, diffuse, low-density, low capacity-factor, low-EROI, non-synchronous energy to a delicately-balanced power grid is next to nothing.

June 21, 2017 10:07 pm

The politicians who are strong proponents of renewable energy comes swinging in the morning preaching their cause but in the evening prays hard there will be no wind and sun to reduce the renewable energy output so they could get cheap fossil fuel power dispatched outside their political boundaries otherwise the cost of power will be politically unpalatable to their constituency. Dispatched power across the political boundaries should be priced at par or higher than the renewable energy in the consuming state. There could be a number of reason available to the dispatching state to price the dispatched power equal or higher than the cost of renewable energy in the importing state most of which are coming out of the mouth of the renewable energy proponents.

Leonard Lane
June 21, 2017 10:53 pm

Those that do not want understand and those robbing the taxpayers (because government rules and subsidies under Obama and the Democrats) did not want to understand. Votes for the politicians and money for the crooks; and for Bubba the chicks are free.
Money for nothing, that’s renewable energy.

June 21, 2017 11:10 pm

This should be compulsory treading for all politicians in the UK. Unfortunately, with the exception of <<3% of them, their eyes would glaze over and they would continue with their policies based on green ignorance. Phrase like "ancillary services" and "grid stability", with words of more than one syllable, are well beyond their comprehension.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
June 21, 2017 11:29 pm

Solar in the UK is very reliable: it produces nothing almost all year round. You still get paid because production is not metered, you get a fixed income based on installation boilerplate capacity.

Reply to  Greg
June 22, 2017 12:20 am

It has been producing 6 to 8 GW daily for well over the last month… on several days wind plus solar has provided 30% or better of UK power during a working day.

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 3:45 am

It has been producing 6 to 8 GW daily for well over the last month… on several days wind plus solar has provided 30% or better of UK power during a working day.

My point is made: You don’t know what days of the month it will produce useable power of that magnitude, how many hours on what days of what month it will produce how much useable power, and when that useable power will suddenly vanish. It is a mandated failure, a fairy tale power of once upon a time in never-never land.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
June 22, 2017 12:22 am

…but not the National Grids. do look at their recent proposals on balancing services (linked from here:

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
June 22, 2017 2:51 am

It should be compulsory reading for the voters.

kevin a
June 21, 2017 11:57 pm

Media Release: Renewables with storage now cheapest form of ‘reliable’ energy supply, surpassing gas.
Can some body Fact Check this FREE energy machine

Reply to  kevin a
June 22, 2017 6:57 am

That will be predicated on rising CO2 costs if you read between the lines as they’ve already plucked the low hanging fruit. If it were so already then the Finkel Report wouldn’t have had to recommend mandating despatchability for future renewables. Just proudly announce the price point has been reached and mandate despatchability for existing renewables to applause all round.
Here’s the problem for existing wind power output in Australia at present in a calm before the storm of winter-
and compare that with windier May output-
which is more like the industry’s 34% average of installed capacity over a year according to last year’s figures.
But what a multitude of sins that 34% figure hides, not least for that 3 weeks in June where wind power is struggling to average one eighth of installed capacity, let alone that third. From that you can see what sort of battery smoothing storage you’d need to even attempt to reach annual average output as you’d have to store power for weeks if not a month or so. Reduce battery storage capacity to a few days and you’ll be lucky if wind could reliably despatch 10% of installed capacity and what does that do to their bottom line compared with their dumping returns at present? That’s the elephant in their room.

June 22, 2017 12:19 am

Except that the UK grid and the various German grids are already managing grids with high levels of renewables, often with significant variations over a day, with a very high level of grid reliability. (Germany’s grids are either the most or second most reliable, depending on whose figures you take… some of them have a 70% renewable load)
Frequency response is increasingly being provided by grid storage as well as conventional means – the UK National Grid is now tendering for even more of this.
Practice trumps theory, here.
[?? .mod]

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 4:52 am

As relates to the discussion here Germany does not have “grids” nor is it an independent grid. It makes up a part of a larger integrated grid which is supported by significant hydro and coal based resources. (For an analogy think of a large bridge, Germany is a part of the bridge that is held up by other parts).
Distribution is separate from transmission. The concern is transmission reliability. The reliability and statistics associated with distribution networks does not say anything about the reliability of the transmission grid. People who repeat the canard are not well informed. Those who formulated it where either ignorant or deliberately deceitful.

Reply to  aplanningengineer
June 22, 2017 6:07 am

It has more than one grid operator domestically, but yes, it is part of the connected power market of western Europe

Thomas Homer
Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 5:23 am

The ability of Wind and Solar to produce energy is a function of Earth’s surface area. You cannot decide to ramp up production from existing Wind/Solar installations, you can only build more in an effort to create more energy. So how will Germany/UK double its energy production? It would require doubling (at least) the installations. Now consider doubling it again, and again …

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 5:36 am

“… depending on whose figures you take …”.
Yours are reliably wrong or misleading, like the 70 %, which is not an average value. In reality wind and solar together did dip below 0.3% of demand or rose up to 100 % in a grid. Thats why one head of a grid called the situation “several times nearly collapse”.
Reality proves wishful thinking wrong, not only here.

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
June 22, 2017 12:48 am

They just ‘did it wrong’ technically.
They should not have let the renewables connect directly into the grid. In fact they’re actually mandated to do so.
Renewables make energy, in the purest sense that can only be good but their intermittency only creates a series of pot-holes, Z bends and other hazards for a well oiled and efficient system.
Huge amounts of ‘computer grade’ electric is used for crushing rock and compressing gas – about 30% in the UK.
To do either of those tasks only needs one or more dirty great big fook off DC electric motor. It doesn’t need accurate voltages or frequencies. They’re like diesel engines, will burn almost anything electricity wise.
Not only that, piles of crushed and sorted rock for roadstone & building, or tanks of liquid nitrogen/oxygen will keep. They can be made ‘in advance’ and kept for when they’re needed. Effectively storing your renewable energy.
Or, send the RE to existing fossil power stations.
Look at Carnot’s thoughts and the efficiency calculation for any heat engine.
Use the incoming RE (as electricity coz its easy to move around) as an after-heater on the existing steam boilers. Add 100’C to the steam coming off the boiler just before it goes into the turbine and your entire power station efficiency rises.
(Steam temp of 300’C gives ~50% effy. Steam at 700’C gives 58%, What Is Not To Like?)
And gawd, don’t we endlessly hear about ‘efficiency’ (Just a real shame no-one ever mentions Jevons though)
A big old power station will absorb as much RE as you can throw into it, more/less sunshine or wind simply means they shovel less/more coal into the fire. Just like they do when the evening soaps, cup finals, Wimbledon etc on TV have their commercial breaks and a lot of peeps bugga of and make cups of tea.
It keeps the station hot & ready to roll, improves its mechanical life, grid voltage and frequency stability are in the hands of people who’ve done it for decades, you retain black start ability, burn less coal, gas, wood whatever and everything is win win win.
But no. They tried to make it simple and as a result, created an expensive and total hash – the only beneficiaries being the cronies.
And how did it come about?
Government was panicked into action. It was/is maniacal.
How long before, like diesel cars, we get to hear an apology?
Not until they’ve created a raft of new taxes, that’s how long.

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
June 22, 2017 2:30 am

You make excellent points about varying power quality. However, one of the efficiencies of a grid system at huge scale is uniformity of product. We flush toilets with drinking water for same reason — it is more expensive to segregate out varying qualities and deliver them independently. Wind and solar power should be like rainwater. Collect it at home or work for your own purposes if you want, but have legal and physical backfeed barriers to keep it from mingling with the common system unless it has been purified to utility standards and competitively marketed against existing capacity.

Reply to  Ike Kiefer
June 22, 2017 3:02 pm

“We flush toilets with drinking water for same reason ”
….and I thought it was out of concern for my dog!

A Different Gareth
Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
June 22, 2017 3:15 am

I’m surprised conventional power suppliers haven’t been doing this for years already, regardless of government interventions or taxpayer funded incentives. Power stations that can soak up all the cheap renewable energy as fast as it can be produced would reduce operator fuel bills and protect their supply contracts.
I’d guess it isn’t happening as the dogma is for lowering energy consumption rather than making existing levels of energy consumption ‘cleaner’.

Mariano Marini
June 22, 2017 12:52 am

He then joked it would mean Mexico “will have to pay much less money” to build it.

I think it was ironic. Solar panel must be mounted on the Mexico side (south) so it will be Mexico that would made maintenance and use the power not USA. This would double pro: Wall and “renewable” power for Mexico.

Nigel S
Reply to  Mariano Marini
June 22, 2017 1:20 am

Yes, Mariano I think you’re right, otherwise there are a lot of stones on the Mexican side and no shortage of frustrated people.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Mariano Marini
June 22, 2017 2:08 pm

Uh, Mariano. Don’t you realize the wall will be well within the border of the U.S.?

Robin Pittwood
June 22, 2017 2:22 am

A while back I started writing a series on power system stability with a focus on the technical requirements. Some of you might be interested in how things hang together, and fall apart. I’ve tried to describe the requirements in reasonably simple terms and not too much math.

June 22, 2017 2:37 am

Most telling part of the debunking study is that it will take 14 times the current rate of capital spending on the power grid to sustain a 100% RE scenario. That means providing electricity would consume the entire GDP of nations and the entire incomes of residential customers — obviously not viable. Another way of stating the same thing is that the energy return on investment (EROI) of wind and solar is about 1/14th of the existing grid mix, wherein >90% is provided by fossil fuel, nuclear, and hydro. No sane investor would make that trade.

Reply to  Ike Kiefer
June 22, 2017 4:20 am

Thank you for pointing out that renewable energy is capital intensive. However, I think that is already known. The value proposition for renewables is that although their capital requirements are high the variable cost of fuel is 0. In some cases trading capital for fuel is worth it. For example, your oven has a high capital cost compared to a fire pit, but you don’t cook over a fire pit partly for the convenience and partly because it would be bloody expensive

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 7:10 am

The fact that the capital costs for renewables is so high, is why they will never be cost competitive.

June 22, 2017 4:16 am

Yet again I point to ERCOT. If the cost of renewable integration was truly as high as claimed then Texas ought to have some of the highest electricity prices in the nation. Instead even as they are adding capacity and transmission they still remain in the lower half. Louisiana is lower, but is not expanding capacity. Renewable when done correctly do not drive up electricity prices.
Personally I don’t care whether my electrons come from a wind turbine, gas turbine, coal fired steam turbine, or a PV array – doesn’t matter to me in the least. My suspicion is that on an isolated grid there will be substantial resistance to wind penetration >20~30% or solar >25%. I also suspect that the combination will need to be <40%, but below these levels I would be willing to bet that unless you're stupid you can bring the price of the grid down.

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 6:06 am

This grid operator is running with 42% of its output (not capacity) from renewables…
Says 70% would not be a problem.

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 6:09 am

This German grid operator runs with 42% renewables and says 70% would be no problem…

Reply to  Griff
June 22, 2017 10:51 am

sorry about the repeats… the site was having one of those slow downs where the comments vanish!

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 6:11 am

According to Wikipedia, Germany’s wind and solar contribution to electric power production was roughly 15%. But that does not take into account the imported nuclear power from France etc. and the imported hydro power from Scandinavia. So the actual contribution is no doubt less than 10%.
See here and here.
Germany is nowhere close to sustained 20% penetration, and skyrocketing costs are already creating millions of energy paupers and growing. Taxpayers are being reamed by this fantasy approach to saving the world.
If one knows anything about the nuts and bolts of large power grids, he will not indulge in blithe dismissal of the life and death difficulties involved.

Reply to  alfin2101
June 22, 2017 6:45 am

Also – Germany exported more to France than vice versa last year and its connection to Norway isn’t complete yet.

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 6:46 am
Grid operator now on 42% renewables says 70% no problem…

Sam Orland
Reply to  Griff
June 23, 2017 2:16 am

Germany’s electricity is second or third most expensive in the world.
Furthermore there’s a tremendous problem with renewable: they can’t be secured.
As soon as the local vandals find out they need to destroy something all they have to do is set a bunch of boys loose with slingshots and their solar power is shot to shit.
If you’re solar power dependent, BB guns can cripple your power generation INSTANTLY.
This isn’t the case with hydrocarbons and nuclear.

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 7:11 am

YOu are ignoring the subsidization of renewables.

Cliff Hilton
Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 7:35 am

Hi there chadb
Are you a Texan? I am. I did purchase wind energy at a competitive price while living in Houston for 30 months. Otherwise, where my home is, I don’t have the option of picking my provider.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all other Americans for sending Texas your tax dollars; to build and subsides wind and solar. That’s why electricity, in Texas is lower than it otherwise would be, with solar and wind installed. If someone removed the mess today, our rates would not change. Well, they could go down.
Texans get their electricity from solar arrays, wind turbines, nuclear, oil, coal, NG and who know what else.Texas is in the electric business. We sell to our neighbors. We’re building out grid capacity into Mexico. Cause wind does blow and sun does shine; we need the energy to go somewhere. But please, lets stop building renewables with all the funding gimmicks, let it stand on its own. As if it could.

Reply to  chadb
June 22, 2017 8:22 am

“Personally I don’t care whether my electrons come from a wind turbine, gas turbine, coal fired steam turbine, or a PV array – doesn’t matter to me in the least.”
It *does* matter. Some of those methods of producing electricity end up slaughtering millions of animals annually.
I cringe every time I even see a windmill farm on tv. It’s sickening to think what is going on at those locations. I would opt out of getting my electricity from renewable sources, if given a chance, even if it meant I had to pay higher prices. I don’t want my money going to the wholesale, unnecessary slaughter of the Earth’s wildlife.
It’s not necessary for us to get our electricity from windmills and solar thermal, and we should stop doing it. There are better ways to accomplish the goals of those promoting these animal disasters, that don’t require the slaughter of birds and whales.

Reply to  TA
June 23, 2017 12:59 am

Except that wind farms aren’t actually killing birds or bats in the numbers claimed and bird/bat deaths are avoidable with wind farms.
and they solved the solar CSP bird frying problem.

Reply to  TA
June 23, 2017 3:37 am

Yes they are.. many more than published.
You are a gullible little worm when it comes to the green scam, aren’t you griff. !!

I Came I Saw I Left
June 22, 2017 4:55 am

Trying to wrap my mind around how proponents of 100% RE even think it’s possible. Due to its intermittency and unreliability, without feasible storage capability it’s merely a pipe dream, no matter how much solar/wind capacity is built. Not interested in conceptual deflections, or hope dressed as fact. How do they plan to actually accomplish it?

June 22, 2017 5:12 am

This seems to me to be the basic understandings of utility engineers explained in a scientific journal. The prestige of the source (it’s tie to science not industry) and 21 authors may help give this understanding better credence.
I’m glad for the support in this case and I do think it will help promote better thinking. But the utility understanding has been under assault from “sciencey” studies burnished with science and prestice such as the challenged “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes”.
What is the role of “academics” versus “practitioners”. I have blogged on the utility understanding for a number of years and one form of criticism/challenge is what do the scientists at major prestigious universities say. There are so many different disciplines where “experts” can expound on the grid where they have so little experience.
Not sure of the answer here but grappling with other endeavors. Who know more about making a blockbuster book, move or song – “practitioners” or “academics”. Is it that different for agriculture, mining, industry? Academics certainly can play an effective role as advisors, but do you trust them to build a ground up project that departs from the past when they have no real experience?

Reply to  aplanningengineer
June 22, 2017 6:16 am

Excellent insight. It doesn’t matter what the people think who keep this life-saving technology (the power grid) going. If the popular media can present only one side of the debate — the rah! rah! renewables side — then the naive public will assume that all safeguards are being seen to. If even a few honest and intelligent journalists of courage cared enough to examine the facts on the ground and had loud enough bullhorns, they could sound the alarm which needs to be sounded.

June 22, 2017 6:58 am

“Owners of dispatchable generation which provide all electrical system reliability and satiability provisions have been badly energy market disadvantaged and had the their generation resource assets significantly devalued based upon the flawed and absurd government driven politics of mandated and subsidized renewable energy use. It is time for this to stop.”
What has happened to The English language that such unalloyed crap as this is able to be presented as acceptable?

Rod Everson
June 22, 2017 7:38 am

So a new paper from from NOAA’s Earth System Laboratory. I wonder if it sat on the shelf unpublished for a few years because the author’s couldn’t get it released under the Obama regime? Anyone know? Elections do make a difference.

June 22, 2017 8:28 am

It could be more easily understood if there were more explanation of why “must take” rules have a negative effect. A power plant’s unit costs (here kWhrs ) are determined in large measure by its current operating capacity. When all of its output is not bought, due to buying renewable instead, the plant’s income is reduced,but its operating costs aren’t reduced comensurably – at most there will be some fuel savings, although this does not even happen for the case of a nuclear reactor, which was designed to operate at max capacity (as a baseload producer) except when shut down for refuelingand cannot load follow. All this means that buying renewable power instead of power plant power will increase the per unit cost of the power the plants produce. That means increased costs for the consumer. Renewable power also costs because it cannot replace dispatchable power generation, and therefore the system will have duplicative capacity . Duplicative caapcity means higher grid costs – those backup plants, even if seldom used, cost a lot to keep up and running and ready to produce power – their unit costs wil be sky high. THAT is one of the main reasons why renewable wind and solar (and to a lesser extent, hydro) cost way more than is often claimed by their supporters. There is also the issue of disposal when the lifespan is over. How much does it cost to remove one of those mammoth concrete blocks sunk into the ground as a base for the wind turbine tower?

Reply to  arthur4563
June 22, 2017 8:15 pm

I will use the term freeloaders.
I once had a job where I was paid less because I would come and go as I felt like it.
People who always showed up to work got paid more per hour than I did.
Greedy capitalists.

Gustaf Anthony Keen
June 22, 2017 1:58 pm

Power grid operators should only purchase dispatchable power . The onus is upon generators to make their power dispatchable – they can either do this themselves or contract out this function but the generator takes responsibility for making his power dispatchable . The grid operator is relieved of the job of trying to balance out dispatchable and non-dispatchable power . Then the true levelised cost of electricity generation by whatever technology will be revealed and market forces will dictate who survives .
Thus wind/solar farms will have to include standby generating systems or storage systems in their price to the grid . Renewables are expensive but do have a very important role to play : wherever grid is unavailable or too expensive to bring in , that is the place for renewables today .

joe - non climate scientist
June 22, 2017 7:10 pm

Over at skeptical science – they are going hysterical over the quality and the feasability of converting to 100% renewables along with touting the much lower costs of renewables. This is from the premier AGW science website.
I am struck by those that lack the basic analytical skills in math and science yet somehow possess the superior intellectual capacity to ascertain the validity of climate science

June 22, 2017 9:46 pm

Thanks Larry Hamlin for another superior post.

Sam Orland
Reply to  MRW
June 23, 2017 2:19 am

Indeed, another + 10 Larry

June 23, 2017 8:15 pm

Call it free-riding or dumping but this is what they do and simply require thermal generators and grid operators to pick up the insurance tab without their just premiums-
You can see the bleeding obvious that they’re all in denial over here in the first 3 weeks of June-
While their combined annual average last year was 34% of installed capacity you can see there they’d be lucky to be averaging around 12.5% or one eighth of their capacity but when the wind blows stronger they get to dump on the grid and make up that longer term one third average-
but look at the one whole week in May that mirrors the pathetic performance in June.
If car manufacturers sold cars with sort of performance these same spruikers of unreliables would be screaming for lemon laws to protect consumers.

June 25, 2017 2:02 pm

Caltech’s Nate Lewis, Argyros Professor of Chemistry, whose work is at the leading edge of research on solar power, has said publicly that “I need to dissuade you up front from one important notion, that some low-cost process is magically going to take us away from fossil energy within the next 20 or 30 years. That’s simply false.” Lewis estimates that population and GDP growth could triple energy demand by 2050. He has concluded that “solar is … far and away the most expensive way we have of making electricity today, with costs ranging from 25 to 50 cents per kilowatt-hour for photovoltaic systems, that is to say solar panels. Solar thermal systems, … run 10 to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is still too expensive. Nobody is going to pay that much for a substitution product, when they can get the original one for four cents a kilowatt-hour.”

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