Offshore Wind Turbine Project – Statoil’s Hywind Scotland–A Positive Viewpoint

By Roger Sowell (1)

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Figure 1 Artist’s Depiction – Hywind Scotland credit Statoil ASA Environmental Statement

Background

This article is the result of a request by Charles The Moderator (ctm) for me to write a more in-depth piece on my views of wind energy systems. About one week ago, WUWT had an article bashing the Hywind Scotland wind farm (7/28/2017, see link) on which article I offered a few comments. I also added a link on the Tips and Notes page to the Hywind Scotland project’s Environmental Statement (ES). That ES is the rough equivalent to an Environmental Impact Report in the US. Many technical details are included in the ES. That note in Tips and Notes prompted ctm to ask me to write this article.

Having withstood for several years the slings and arrows (including libel) of many commenters and guest bloggers at WUWT, I was reluctant to write a positive piece on wind energy. I reserve such articles for my own blog. But, ctm is a persuasive and charming fellow, and I agreed to write this. I have attempted to use plentiful references and citations throughout, and those only from reputable sources. For example, Statoil’s claims to 40 years offshore experience, built and operated more than 40 offshore oil and gas structures, some of those offshore structures are powered from shore by undersea cables, and the details of their Troll platform, are from Statoil’s own documents online. If those facts are in error, the fault is theirs. However, those facts also align with my memories of working with Statoil guys over the years.

Forging ahead, it should be remembered that another article of mine is online at WUWT (and my own blog), on the serious consequences of breaking the libel laws online. See link to “Climate Science, Free Speech and Legal Liability – Part 1.” In plain English, it is OK to disagree, but argue your points with facts, and argue politely.

Introduction

This article’s overall topic is part of the questions, what should a modern civilization do to look to its future electrical energy needs? Then, what steps should be taken now to ensure a safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective supply of electricity will be available in the future? These questions have no easy answers; they occupy a very great deal of time, energy, and written words.

More to the point, what should an advanced society do in the present, when it is very clear that two of the primary sources of electric power will be removed from the generating fleet with 20 years, and half of that removed within 10 years?

Two scenarios are discussed: first the world electric generating situation, then that in the United States.

The basic facts are these: at present, worldwide electricity is provided by six primary sources: coal burning, natural gas burning, nuclear fission, hydroelectric, oil burning, and a mix of renewable energy systems. Of the renewables, most of the power is from wind turbine generators (WTG), second is solar power, and the rest is from a few other sources that include geothermal, biomass, biogas, and others. (source: EIA and other reputable entities). For approximate percentages, in 2012 the world’s electric power was provided by Coal 39.6, Natural Gas 22, Hydroelectric 17.6, Nuclear 10.7, Oil 5, Wind 2.4, Solar 0.5, and Other 2.1. Figures for different countries are available from various references.

In the United States, however, the mix of energy sources is changing rapidly over the next two decades. The essential facts in the US are a great number of nuclear plants will retire; many coal-fired plants will retire, many natural gas plants will be built; and a great number of wind turbine generators will be built. Within 20 years, almost every one of the 98 nuclear plants in the US will retire. Half of those will be shut down within 10 years. That is most significant, because coal plants produce 30 percent and nuclear plants produce 18 to 19 percent of all the electricity in the US. With most of those shut down in 20 years, the US is facing a deficit of almost one-half of the electricity supply. In energy terms, coal and nuclear provide approximately 2,000 million MWh per year. (EIA for 2016). For the shorter term, ten years from now, one-half of those shutdowns will occur, leaving a shortfall of 1,000 million MWh per year.

An aside to look more closely at coal burning power plants and their rapid closures in the US. Coal is no longer king, no matter what anyone says about the matter. The fact is, as I have long stated and written, that coal burning power plants were intentionally given a pass on environmental issues. They were not forced to comply with many of the environmental requirements of the US Clean Air Act. Instead, the coal industry found ways to “perform maintenance” that added capacity, while retaining the grandfathered status. Only a few coal burning power plants were required to comply with the pollution laws. Recently, that all changed. Now, coal burning power plants are closing in record numbers because the owners cannot afford to install the expensive pollution control equipment. (Reference: MIT paper, 2016, MITEI-WP-2016-01; also see http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/2016-ELI_Grandfathering.Coal_..Power_.Plant_.Regulation.Under_.the_.CAA_.pdf) I am aware that this is a controversial statement at WUWT, having made this statement before and receiving blistering comments on that. Yet, facts are very stubborn things; they do not care one bit what anyone thinks of them. Facts just are.

The facts of US nuclear power plants are just as plain: the fleet of 98 plants is aging. Almost half, 47 out of 98 still running, are between 40 and 47 years old. (reference: https://www.eia.gov/nuclear/spent_fuel/ussnftab2.php ) Within 10 years, it is almost certain that all of those reactors will be shut down permanently and retired. Many of the nuclear plants are losing money and have done so for a few years. Some have received direct government subsidies recently to keep running. These direct payments are in addition to the numerous other subsidies that US nuclear plants receive, such as for indemnity from radiation releases, federal guarantees on construction loans, softening of safety regulations, laws prohibiting lawsuits during construction, and others. .

In the arena of electricity generation at grid-scale, conventional and new technologies contend for market share. Over the past decade, new technologies that use renewable energy as the motive force have become more prevalent. Wind and solar technologies are two that are presently at the forefront of market share and development effort. As the traditional mix of generating technology changes in the next two decades, wind energy will certainly play a greater and greater role. In early 2017, combined output from hydroelectric and renewable sources slightly exceeded nuclear power plant output (Figure 1 from EIA, figures in billion kWh per month). Also notable from Figure 2 is the almost complete absence of energy from wind (dark green area) before 2010.

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Figure 2 US Renewables with Hydro v Nuclear

The growth of wind energy has been substantial in only 7 years, from almost zero percent to 7.5 percent of US total electricity. The growth in wind energy is shown also in Figure 3, where wind energy, for the first time, was the same as the output of hydroelectric plants in 2014-2015. As an aside, Figure 3 is the real hockey stick. The data is from EIA, but the graph is my own. This graph made quite a splash on Twitter on 5/2/2016 among the #windenergy crowd. (@rsowell is my handle)

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Figure 3 US Hydro v Wind Energy

The US has more than adequate wind resources and natural gas resources to fill the generating gap from retired nuclear and coal power plants. Onshore wind capacity at present stands at a bit more than 84,000 MW, (windexchange reference) with another 25,000 MW under construction. Natural gas power plants of 190 GW could easily be built to meet the need. Wind turbines of 170 GW could be installed and remain well below 20 percent of all electricity generated annually. The added 170 GW of wind is well below the estimated 11,000 GW of wind capacity that exists onshore in the US.(Lopez, A. et. al. Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-51946, July 2012) These figures, 190 GW for natural gas, and 170 GW for wind energy are found as follows. The need is for new natural gas power plants to generate 1,000 million MWh per year. By dividing 1000 million by 8766 hours per year we obtain 114,076 MW (and multiply by 1 million). By then dividing by 0.6, the natural gas power plant capacity factor, we obtain 190,127 MW or 190 GW to install.

The 170 GW of wind capacity to install over the next decade is found similarly, but using 0.35 as the capacity factor. The desired result is to have wind energy make up 20 percent of the total electricity in the US annually, the “penetration” as it is known. With existing wind energy already at 7 percent penetration, the need then is for 13 percent from new wind turbines. Multiplying 0.13 times 4,000 million MWh/y we obtain 520 million MWh/y. As before, we divide by 8766 and multiply by 1 million to obtain 59,320 MW. This divided by the capacity factor of 0.35 gives 169,486 MW, which is rounded nicely to 170 GW of new wind capacity.

The nice result here is that total installed natural gas power plant capacity would exceed wind plant capacity. Therefore, when wind speed declines below generating speed, the natural gas power plants have plenty of capacity to make up the power deficit. Wind generating capacity at present is approximately 84 GW, and the new capacity to install is 170 GW. The total of 250 GW is less than existing natural gas power plant of approximately 260 GW. When the new natural gas power plant is added, there is 260 (old capacity) plus 190 (new capacity) which yields 450 GW of natural gas power plant capacity.

This gives a viable solution for the first ten years. Natural gas capacity would be 450 GW total, wind would be 250 GW total, and wind penetration would be a nice, round figure of 20 percent.

The second decade would require similar added capacity. An additional 170 GW of wind capacity would add 13 percent more to the penetration. That would then be 20 plus 13 for 33 percent total. That would present almost zero problems on the national grid. Total wind capacity would then be 250 GW plus 170 GW, which yields 420 GW. (reference DOE Wind Vision site states slightly more than 420 GW can be added by 2050 in their analysis. https://energy.gov/eere/wind/maps/wind-vision ) Natural gas capacity would be another 190 GW, for a total then of 450 plus 190 to yield 640 GW. With 640 being comfortably greater than 420, there is adequate natural gas power plant capacity to take over when the wind speed declines.

One question arises, then; can wind turbine generators be added at a rate necessary to achieve 170 GW over ten years? That is an average of 17 GW per year. From actual history, it is noted that in 2012, US wind capacity of a bit more than 13 GW was added. Also, 10 GW was added in 2009. It is clear, then, that 17 GW per year should be no problem. The US wind energy supply chain would be required to increase output by 4/13 or approximately 30 percent.

A second concern sometimes is expressed, as the land area required for a large number of wind turbines. That is not a problem, however. Studies of actual, modern, efficient wind farms found that on average, total land required is 85 acres per MW installed capacity. (Reference: Land Use for Wind Farms Technical Report NREL/TP-6A2-45834, August 2009 http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/45834.pdf ) The study used hectares, giving 34 h per MW. Converting appropriately, we obtain 85 acres per MW installed. The total land area, then, for 420 GW or 420,000 MW of wind capacity is 85 multiplied by 420,000 and divided by 640 acres per square mile. The result is then 55,800 square miles when rounded up a bit. For perspective, that is almost exactly the area of the state of Iowa, which has 56,272 square miles. Of course, the wind parks would be spread out over the states and not all concentrated in Iowa. Another consideration is almost all of the land with wind turbine generators can and would be used for its original purpose.

Why the focus on wind and natural gas? One might prefer to build sufficient nuclear plants or more coal power plants instead of wind and natural gas power plants. Nuclear and coal power plants are discussed below.

It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire. Recent news (7/31/2017) shows that the two new nuclear plants under construction in South Carolina at the V.C Summer plant have been halted with no intention to finish building them. (see https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/scana-to-cease-construction-of-two-reactors-in-south-carolina ) The South Carolina plants are approximately 35 percent complete, many years behind schedule and several $billion dollars over budget. The projects were halted when the revised estimate to complete showed $26 billion. In order to start up 40 to 50 nuclear plants ten years from this date, the 40 to 50 plants must be approved and under construction today also. Clearly, that has not happened. New nuclear plants also have a very high price for electricity produced.

It would also be unwise to build new coal-burning power plants since the remaining amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit is limited to 20-30 years or less at current prices. (Reference: Luppens, J.A., et al, 2015, Coal geology and assessment of coal resources and reserves in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1809, 218 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/pp1809 ) If coal prices rise, perhaps by increased demand or subsidies, more coal can be mined. However, high coal prices require a coal burning power plant to have higher electricity sales prices. That simply would not occur with natural gas and wind power at such very low prices as today. New coal-fired plants would lose money, just like the new nuclear plants would.

World-wide, the numbers are similar. Coal production is limited to no more than 50 years, unless some force increases the price at the mine-mouth. (Rutledge, David, “Estimating long-term world coal production with logit and probit transforms,”  International Journal of Coal Geology, 85 (2011) 23-33  http://www.its.caltech.edu/~rutledge/DavidRutledgeCoalGeology.pdf )

Why onshore wind?

Why, then, the big push for wind technology? Below are listed a few reasons in support of wind power. Following that is a description in some detail the new 30 MW Hywind wind park being installed off the northeast coast of Scotland by Statoil.

Onshore wind farms have benefited greatly from private and public funding over the past decade. The wind turbine generators are already low-cost to install and operate. Projects are profitable in the Great Plains region of the US where the sales price for power is 4.3 cents per kWh. (source: 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/2015-windtechreport.final_.pdf ) The federal subsidy is to end in 3-4 years. Most importantly, the installed cost has steadily decreased over the years, by a factor of 3 in the past 7 to 8 years. The low capital cost is the primary reason that wind power is being installed at 8 to 13 GW per year in the US. It must be acknowledged that the reductions in capital cost per kW occurred only because the federal and state subsidies for wind technology allowed developers to design, build, and install better and better designs. Whatever arguments there may be against subsidies, wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially from the subsidies.

Installed costs will continue to decrease as more improvements are made. Designers have several improvements yet to be implemented such as larger turbines, taller towers, and increased capacity factor. Oklahoma just announced a 2,000 MW project with 800 turbines of 2.5 MW each. Onshore wind farms will soon have the larger size at 4 MW then 6 MW turbines similar to those that are installed now in the ocean offshore.

Wind repower projects have even better economics. Repowering is the replacement of old, inefficient wind turbine generators with modern, usually much larger, and much more efficient systems. The wind will not have changed, was not used up, in the same location. In fact, the taller turbines reach higher and into better wind that typically has greater speed and more stability. The infrastructure is already in place for power lines and roads. Repowering may be able to incorporate legacy towers as the upper section of new, taller towers for larger wind turbine generators.

Wind power extends the life of natural gas wells. Wind power creates less demand for natural gas. This reduces the price of natural gas. That helps the entire economy, especially home heating bills, plus the price of electricity from burning natural gas. But, this also reduces the cost to make fertilizer that impacts food, since natural gas is the source of hydrogen that is used to make ammonia fertilizer.

Wind power is a great jobs creator. Today, there are more than 100,000 good jobs in the US wind energy industry. Many of the wind industry jobs are filled by aeronautical engineers. Instead of designing airplanes with two wings that fly in a straight line, they design wind rotors with three wings that turn in a circle. There are approximately 1.2 jobs per MW of installed capacity, with 84,000 MW and 100,000 jobs. That’s approximately the same ratio as in nuclear power plants, with 1 job per MW.

Wind provides security of energy supply. No one can impose an embargo on the wind. There are no foreign payments, and no foreign lands to protect with the US military.

Wind provides a good, drought-independent supplemental income via lease payments to thousands of families nationwide, due to the distributed nature of wind turbine projects. Almost 100 percent of the land can continue in its original activity, grazing cattle or farming. Marginal land with no economic activity now produces income for the landowner. 85 acres is required for 1 MW of WTG.

Wind power promotes grid-scale storage research and development. Wind energy generated at night during low demand periods can be stored then released when demand and prices are higher. As always, some losses occur when energy is stored and released later. Storage and release on demand has spinoff into electric car batteries. EVs will reduce or eventually eliminate gasoline consumption, and that will spell the end for OPEC. The entire world’s geopolitics will change as a result. Recently, the CEO of BP, the major international oil company, predicted that the next decade or two would bring such a surge of EVs that oil demand would peak, then decline. The CEO is right, too. When it becomes patriotic to drive an EV rather than a gas guzzler, EV sales will zoom. A gas guzzler will be seen as an OPEC enabler.

Wind power hastens nuclear plant retirements as electricity prices decline. Nuclear plants cannot compete with cheap electricity from cheap natural gas. As stated above, wind energy keeps natural gas prices low by reducing the demand for natural gas.

Power from wind is power without pollution. Wind power has no damaging health impacts from smoke, particulates, or noxious sulfur or nitrogen oxides. The American Lung Association encourages clean, pollution-free wind power.

Summary to this point.

The utility-scale power generation mix in the US will change substantially, even dramatically over the next ten and twenty years. Nuclear power will be almost non-existent. Coal power will also be greatly reduced or almost absent. Wind power will be four to five times as much capacity and generation compared to today. Natural gas power will grow to replace the nuclear and coal production, but will loaf along as wind generation occurs. Only when the wind dies down will natural gas power plants roar to life at full throttle. This describes the US situation.

Several other nations also have similar issues to face. Of the approximately 450 nuclear power plants still operating world-wide, roughly one-half will retire within 20 years, and for the same reasons as do those in the US. Old age, inability to compete, and safety concerns will shut them down. A similar analysis can be done for each major nuclear power country with aging reactors, including Japan, France, Canada, UK, and Germany. On average, with 20 years being exactly 240 months, that is roughly 1 reactor per month to be retired. The booming business of the future will be reactor decommissioning.

Next is part two, the specifics on offshore wind and the Hywind Scotland wind park.

Why, then, offshore wind?

In addition to all the benefits of onshore wind power listed above, offshore wind farms have a few benefits of their own. First, a couple of drawbacks that exist with offshore wind power. It is well-known that offshore wind power has higher costs to install, and higher operating costs due to accessibility issues when compared to onshore wind farms. However, these drawbacks are somewhat offset by the much larger wind turbine generators that can be installed, taller towers, and better wind as measured by both velocity and stability. Lease payments do not flow to private landowners, typically, but to the government that controls the local part of the ocean.

For areas that do not have the very good onshore wind that exists in the interior of the US, offshore may be an ideal place to develop wind energy.

Larger turbine designs for offshore wind projects can be evaluated and adapted for onshore projects.

Much of the world’s population lives in cities near the ocean. Transmission lines to bring the energy from the offshore wind turbine generators to the cities may be shorter, compared to running long distances overland.

For those who cannot see the beauty in a technologically advanced wind farm, an offshore wind farm can place the systems out of sight.

The marine industries get a boost with offshore wind farms.

Offshore wind farms are ideally situated for a few forms of grid-scale storage. In particular, one of those is pumped storage hydroelectric with the ocean as the lower reservoir and a dedicated lake higher up onshore. Another form is the MIT submerged storage spheres.

Offshore wind farms very recently, Spring of 2017, won an auction in Germany that contained zero government subsidy as part of the bid. With more and more advances in the technology, the era of subsidized offshore wind farms may be over. Time will tell.

Offshore wind farms bring additional capacity to play. Using the US for example, the government estimates 11,000 GW of wind capacity is economically feasible onshore. An additional 4,000 GW of wind capacity is economically feasible offshore. Offshore wind power increases the US total by a bit more than one-third.

Finally, offshore wind power brings affordable electricity to islands that presently have very expensive electricity due to burning oil in power plants, or diesel in piston-engine generators. Offshore wind power is a mainstay of Hawaii’s plan to obtain 100 percent of the electricity in the islands from renewable sources. Some storage will be necessary to balance out the fluctuations in demand.

The Hywind Scotland floating wind farm uses the moored spar technology, appropriately modified for the single-tower system of a wind turbine generator.

Hywind Scotland Project

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Figure 4 Conceptual Layout From Hywind Environmental Statement

 

Technology

As depicted in Figure 4, Hywind Scotland has five floating, seabed-moored spar-type wind turbine generators rated at 6 MW each for 30 MW installed capacity. Note, these are the same size as the offshore wind park in Rhode Island in the US. Block Island system offshore Rhode Island started production in 2016. Note, however, the Block Island system’s towers are not floating, but are anchored to the ocean floor.

Each Hywind Scotland WTG has three mooring lines anchored to the seabed. These mooring lines split into two, so there are six anchor points on the floating tower. (ES 4-5) see Figure 5 below.

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Figure 5 Undersea Mooring Schematic – from ES

WTG has a proprietary motion compensation system to ease the load on critical bearings. (ES 3-1)

WTG has three rotor blades. The rotor blades are pitch-controlled. Rotating speed varies with wind strength, from 4-13 RPM (ES 4-19).

The WTG are provided by Siemens, a major vendor of offshore wind turbine generators. The model is SWT-6.0-154. Access is available by boat and a ladder system inside each tower.

Hub height for the WTG is 101 meters above sealevel.

Cut-in wind speed where power generation begins is 3-4 m/s. Cut-out wind speed for WTG protection is higher than 25 m/s. (6.6 mph – 55 mph) (ES 4-19) See Figure 6 for wind direction and range of speeds at the site. Wind speed is higher than cut-in speed more than 95 percent of the time.

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Figure 6 Wind Rose Showing Direction/Speed – from ES

Power is collected from the 5 WTGs and brought to shore via a single cable along the seabed, length approximately 25 to 35 km. The power is tied into the national grid. Power is at 33 KV, 50 HZ and AC. Undersea power cable to shore is armoured and 0.5 m diameter. Power can be drawn from shore if the need arises. Diesel-powered generators can also be used at any WTG (ES 4-6)

Each WTG is connected via inter-array cable, 33 kV at 50 HZ and AC. Cables are armoured and approximately 0.5 m diameter. The temporary loss of any one WTG for repairs or maintenance will not affect the output of the others. (ES 4-5)

A smaller floating WTG prototype operated 10 km off the west coast of Norway since 2009 to 2014 and withstood 20 m waves and 40 m/s winds (approximately 88 mph). The prototype was a single WTG with 2.3 MW capacity. (ES xi and 3-1)

Seafloor area required is 15 km-2. With capacity of 30 MW, the ratio is 2 MW per km-2. (ES 4-2)

Water depth is 95 – 120 meters (ES 8-8)

Each of the WTG Units will be equipped with code-compliant navigational lights for marine operations and aviation that will automatically turn on in the dark. (ES 4-7)

Statoil ASA, a Norwegian oil and gas company, is the designer, and investor. Statoil has more than 40 years of offshore oil and gas experience with more than 40 separate offshore installations, most of which are in the harsh conditions of the North Sea. Statoil designed and built the world’s largest object that was ever moved over the Earth’s surface, the Troll A platform. Troll A was designed in the late 1980s, approximately 30 years ago. It began operating in 1996. Troll A is a complex concrete and steel structure that sits on the ocean floor in more than 300 meter deep water. The platform itself is far above the ocean surface. Troll A is more than 470 meters from top to bottom. Statoil also has long experience with power cables along the ocean floor from shore to offshore structures.

Hywind Economics

Economics are improved over the initial one-turbine, 2.3 MW prototype. The prototype generated 40 GWh over several years and demonstrated a 50 percent annual capacity factor during one year. Lessons learned at Hywind Scotland’s 30 MW system will be employed in future, large-scale wind parks. Hywind Scotland’s installed cost is GB £210 million (approximately US$276 million. $/kW = 9210.) But, this includes undersea cables. Note, this is just a bit less than the Block Island 30 MW system in the US, which cost US$300 million.

The unsubsidized economics for the small, 30 MW Hywind Scotland system gives a sales price of electricity at $215 per MWh sold for a 12 year simple project payout. This is based on 45 percent annual capacity factor and investment as above. Revenue would be an average of $23 million per year. With public funding sources as described in the Environmental Statement, the economics are very likely substantially better. This price point, $215 per MWh, is competitive with peaker power prices.

With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh. At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used.

Bird Collisions

The environmental impact on numerous species are included in the Environmental Statement. The impact on birds is summarized here.

Avian collision mortality was predicted in the Environmental Statement for species that commonly fly at rotor height (101 m) using a range of modelling scenarios. This showed that the predicted additional mortality was negligible compared to the numbers of birds that die from existing background mortality causes. (ES 11-1)

With one exception, predictions of the size and duration of potential impacts shows that for all species for all times of year effects would have negligible impact on receptor populations. The exception is razorbill, for which a potential disturbance effect of low impact for the breeding population is identified owing to the very high densities sometimes present in August, a period when individuals of this species have heightened vulnerability to disturbance. This impact is nevertheless judged not significant. (ES 11-1)

The negligible impact conclusion is consistent with studies in the US on bird mortality from wind turbines. In the US, approximately 1 billion birds die annually from various causes. Ninety-six percent of those are caused by collisions with buildings, power lines, automobiles, and encounters with cats. Less than 0.003 percent were due to wind turbine impacts. (Erickson et.al, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-GTR-191 (2005), Table 2 https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/psw_gtr191_1029-1042_erickson.pdf ) In addition, bird fatalities decline as older, truss-style support towers are demolished and modern, monopole support towers are installed.

Conclusion

There is a need for electric power generation technologies to replace the rapidly aging and retiring nuclear power plants in several countries within the next decade. Also, coal at today’s prices has a limited horizon of 20 to 50 years. In the US, coal power plants are shutting down due to pollution equipment costs. It is prudent to develop safe, reliable, and affordable means of generating power. Wind power has improved dramatically in the past decade to take its place as such – safe, reliable, and affordable. More improvements are identified and already in the pipeline. In addition, wind as an energy source is eternally renewable and sustainable. The benefits of reduced natural gas demand, lower natural gas price, less air pollution, improved human health from lung diseases, economic benefits for land owners with wind farm leases, increased jobs, increased domestic manufacturing and service businesses, all make wind energy desirable.

The offshore, 30 MW Hywind Scotland floating spar wind energy system is built and backed by the very experienced Norwegian company, Statoil ASA. Even though it has subsidies, the project’s unsubsidized economics would make it attractive against peaker power plants. The improved economics due to economy of scale will make this competitive with main gas-powered plants where LNG is imported for fuel. The Hywind Scotland technology for wind turbine generators, floating moored spar supports, and undersea power cables is already proven. The location chosen, off the eastern seaboard of Scotland, has excellent wind with 40 to 50 percent capacity factor.

A 600 MW or larger offshore wind farm using the Hywind Scotland design can be expected in the next decade. Wind energy technology continues to improve with demonstrated, year-over-year reductions in cost to install.

 

Additional References:

http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/hywind-scotland-pilot-park-united-kingdom-uk76.html

Abbreviated in this article as ES: https://www.statoil.com/content/dam/statoil/documents/impact-assessment/Hywind/Statoil-Environmental%20Statement%20April%202015.pdf

 

 

Footnotes

(1) Roger Sowell is an attorney in Science and Technology Law. Since earning a BS in Chemical Engineering in 1977, he has performed a great many engineering consulting assignments worldwide for independent and major energy companies, chemical companies, and governments. Cumulative benefits to clients from his consulting advice exceeds US$1.3 billion. Increased revenues to clients are at least five times that amount. He regularly makes public speeches to professional engineering groups and lay audiences. He is a regular speaker on a variety of topics to engineering students at University of California campuses – UCLA and UC-Irvine. He is a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. He is also a Council Member with the Gerson Lehrman Group that provides advice to entities on Wall Street. He publishes SowellsLawBlog; which at present has more than 450 articles on technical and legal topics. His widely-heralded Truth About Nuclear Power series of 30 articles has garnered more than 25,000 views to date. Recently (2016), he was requested to defend climate-change skeptics against an action under the United States RICO statutes.

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641 thoughts on “Offshore Wind Turbine Project – Statoil’s Hywind Scotland–A Positive Viewpoint

      • Because most of the discussion is about US wind power and much of that about onshore. Not a big deal, but the title does not really say what the article is about which is “Wind power –A Positive Viewpoint”

      • A positive viewpoint of offshore wind power is a positive viewpoint of wind power in general because the economics of offshore wind are much weaker than onshore.

      • The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.

        Many do not accept it’s fake logic and it may not remain a “fact” for long.

      • That’s one of the most common flaws in pro-renewables arguments.

        They also fail to grasp the fact that coal & nuclear are only “on the ropes” due to the crash of natural gas prices.

      • Kudo to Roger for presenting his arguments in favour to what will certainly be a hostile audience. It’s interesting to have an alternative to the very biased views usually presented here on this subject.

      • The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act….

        From a US national security standpoint coal beats natural gas (NG) hands down. Coal plants keep about a 30-day supply of feedstock on site making them less vulnerable to a disrupted supply chain. NG plants go offline as soon as the pipeline supply is interrupted (which could result from any number of scenarios).

      • Also not really addressed is the hidden subsidy to renewables; the laws that make conventional steady state considerably more expensive via not utilising their power production when wind and solar are contributing the most, requiring steady state producers to spin up and down, in affect stealing their business volume and increasing their costs, while granting wind and solar 100 percent sales on all their energy, even when not needed. I saw no solution for the variability issues here as well.

      • For Greg,

        “The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.”

        This article has zero to do with CO2 as pollution. I do mention actual pollutants that wind power does NOT produce. The argument posed here is that nuclear and coal power plants will soon be retired, that represents 25 percent of all US electricity sold in 10 years, and 50 percent by 20 years.

        The merits of wind energy, both on and offshore, are the low installed costs (for onshore), high capacity factors, and most importantly, decreased demand and price for natural gas.

        Also, coal for power generating fuel in the US is limited to 20 to 30 years at present prices. This is not controversial, it is a fact. References were given to support that fact.

      • “Greg August 5, 2017 at 8:02 am

        The main flaw in this presentation is the way it dismisses coal based on claims about “pollution” and the Clean air act. This wilfully confounds CO2 and REAL pollution. The endangerment finding and Obama’s clean power plan are both being contested. So presenting the current situation as a “fact” which should just be accepted, is not reasonable.

        Many do not accept it’s fake logic and it may not remain a “fact” for long.”

        I wish the misrepresentations were so few in number.

        Multiple sections gloss over details, supply off metrics, use absurd assumptions to dismiss valid criticism, etc.

        Ooh! The twitterati were agog over this graph.

        The EIA graphs the numbers differently.

        Note that wind follows biofuel and hydro. Even of the “renewables” category, actual wind electricity generation, not capacity, is rather minor.

        Beefing up that “renewables” category is EIA’s “estimate” for all of the privately owned renewables, especially solar.

        Regarding the entire “renewables” category, with the exception of hydro-electric; EIA states:

        “Natural gas and coal are expected to fuel about the same amount of generation in 2018, with each providing slightly more than 31% of total U.S. generation. Renewable energy sources other than hydropower are forecast to supply nearly 10% of U.S. generation in 2018, up from slightly more than 8% in 2016. ”

        That 10% includes biofuels, solar, geothermal, wood, waste and finally wind.
        With Wind second to biofuels, that places wind below 5%.

      • If we are going to discuss the alleged pollution problems with coal, why not also discuss the way in which wind turbines decimate bird populations, especially endangered raptors?

      • ATheoK, your figures are pretty far off.

        “That 10% includes biofuels, solar, geothermal, wood, waste and finally wind.
        With Wind second to biofuels, that places wind below 5%.”

        I don’t know where you got your figures. The first, 10 percent for total renewables is not far off. For 2016, it was 11 percent.

        The EIA website shows total biofuels as about half of wind energy production. For 2016, full year, wind was 5.6 percent and biomass plus wood products was 3.1 percent. Recently (March and April, 2017), wind energy has exceeded 8 percent on a monthly basis for the entire US.

        The obvious point is that wind energy is growing very rapidly, while nuclear and coal are each declining, almost as rapidly. Wind is building capacity at 10 to 15 GW per year, while nuclear is dropping 1 to 1.5 GW per year.

      • The title IS misleading, since Roger and his “reputable sources”, spend a much greater portion of their essay; not presenting a “positive viewpoint ” of wind turbine generators (off Scotland) or elsewhere; but instead presenting a “Negative Viewpoint” of essentially ALL other existing power and energy sources. It’s a virtual bash job that the reader can’t avoid seeing.

        That is why it is misleading.

        I did have other more specific criticisms to make, but won’t bore the readers with a number of things I noticed. The emphasis on negatively portraying the competition, was too apparent to ignore.

        G

      • George
        Coal is not good because of the poisons, i.e. SO , SO2, SO3, NO, NO2, CO in the exhaust and Hg and other heavy metals in the ash. Then we have the dust when you mine the coal which is a killer.
        Nuclear is going down in w-europe due to ageing reactors and prohibitive costing for repairs and maintenance. One of the graphs earlier on Germany should this quite clearly. It is being replaced with wind there, quite siccessfully. I am here in germany now for a visit.
        Roger is merely stating the reality of what is and what will be. Live with it. Hydro is good. Wind is good. Gas is best.

      • What a can of worms offshore wind is in the U.S.

        Destroy the Great Lakes with offshore wind turbines. Great Lakes, one of the wonders of the world. And source of fresh drinking water for millions of people.

        Is beginning with Lake Erie offshore Cleveland, Ohio.

      • NREL/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

        ‘Offshore Wind Power in the United States’, Sept. 2010, 215 + pages.

        “Assessment Of Opportunities and Barriers”

        Reports such as this have been and are being used to promote offshore wind in the U.S.

        Note the references used to prepare this report.

        Report also contains Canadian content.

        http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/40745.pdf

  1. 7.4 people in the world. 6.2 billion are improving their lives installing the cheapest, most reliable sources of electricity available. The other 1.2 billion people (North America and Europe) are installing the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity. The outcome must ultimately mean a lower standard of living for the 1.2 billion.

    • We can afford to backup “the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity” with coal, natural gas & nuclear power. The other 6.2 billion are still working on being able to afford coal… /Sarc.

      • David Middleton August 5, 2017 at 5:51 am

        We can afford to backup “the most unreliable and expensive sources of electricity” with coal, natural gas & nuclear power.

        YOU can afford to pay to “backup unreliable and expensive sources of electricity”. YOU can also afford to pay the expensive ‘feed in tariffs’ to those like YOU who can afford to put photovoltaic cells on their extensive roofs. However there are many in energy poverty who cannot afford the increases in costs of electricity to allow YOUR virtue signalling. Tens of thousands in UK alone die of cold in harsh winters because they cannot afford to keep warm as the power costs include taxes to pay to rich subsidy farmers and for feed in tariffs for those solar roofs. Several hundred thousand families in Germany are now living ‘off grid’ as they cannot afford power.

        Living the Malthusian dream?

    • Lowering of living standards has already started in the UK with salary increases still low or non-existent for many as increased electricity costs impact on overheads and profits. Already many industries have closed down and relocated to somewhere cheaper.

      • …. a 12.5% increase in the price of electricity announced by British Gas recently. With zero justification.

        The production of energy (electricity) should be ‘for everyone at the LOWEST possible cost’. A free market would make this so. As usual, political interference in any area of business only ever succeeds in increasing cost. Society exists on energy and cannot survive or grow without it. It is a STAPLE of modern life.

        Forcing the price towards unaffordability puts more and more people at risk. It doesn’t raise anyone out of poverty – quite the reverse – and any justification whatsoever of systems of production that DO increase costs can NEVER be justified.

      • Do you think that maybe this is the green fascist plan? /sarc. Have you ever read Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030 documents? Obama spent 8 years trying to destroy the American economy while blathering on about job growth, etc. The Democrat congress passed legislation, including Obamacare, to facilitate the destruction. After the oil and gas boom took off faster than the left ever thought possible the next move was for EPA to declare the stuff of life on the planet a pollutant. The EPA has been forced to back off from closing plants as polluters because they produce CO2. I’m betting it is going to be “not so fast” on the closing of coal plants.

        The Hywind project might actually work in this one situation. Most wind farms in the US, particularly in California, are too quickly approved and sited and anytime you drive past these things half are not even producing. That means an expensive standby generator is producing the power to keep them alive and supply the grid. California consumers are paying the price for that. For the rest of us, not so much.

        California will soon be an example of what happens when you embrace green socialism. We have examples from Detroit and, and next up, Chicago/Illinois. I am one of those who says let California exit the union and have to negotiate expensive electricity from the neighboring US. Watch how fast businesses flee the coming disaster.

        My advice for anyone who embraces Western culture and ideas and desires to improve their lives, never vote Globalist.

      • In NZ onshore wind is a good addition to our generation mix. Being in the Roaring Forties we get about 20% higher utilisation than average, and after geothermal wind is the next cheapest new generation source given the high levels of hydro in the system.

      • And in many parts of NZ, such as Wellington and the Wairarapa it simply is too windy for significant amounts of time.

    • What could possibly be wrong with an energy supply that is intermittent, has a maintenance profile more akin to an aircraft at 200′ than a power plant, a short life expectancy, high vulnerability to storms, a big environmental foot print and kills a lot of birds?

      • LOL. You just laid the whole sustainability problem out in 3 lines and 1 word. Really impressive writing to be appreciated by English teachers who are actually teaching English.

      • Mr. Sowell says, “It is clear, then, that 17 GW [of new wind turbines] per year should be no problem.”

        I find this a very naive statement from an attorney practicing in the energy arena. In some areas of the county, placing a new wind turbine is an increasingly contentious endeavor. Or, if you find a place that has the resources and welcomes wind turbines, how do you get approvals to locate the transmission lines to get the power to the load centers?

        And this is just one of the places that Mr. Sowell glosses over problems the more and more intense opposition to these new projects causes. Be skeptical.

    • Well thanks for the lesson, Henryp; I had no idea that coal was so bad. And to think I actually used to handle that stuff as a kid; and me with my asthma. I can’t breath on SO, SO2, SO3, SO4, NO, NO2, NO3, CO, CO2, CO3 , or any of those other poisonous gases.

      Whoever it was who started people getting hooked on coal addiction should be shot.

      I would wager, that COLD kills a damn side faster than COAL.

      And ALL of those “heavy metals” that you mention, are actually elements in the periodic table, so we know all about them, and we USE virtually ALL of them for useful purposes, so knowing we can get them out of coal is a plus for coal.

      Coal fired the industrial revolution, that got us to where we are today, and billions of persons on this planet, would give their eye teeth to get their hands on a lump of coal.

      It’s much more useful than the dung of a Brahma Bull.

      Have a good time in Germany; I did.

      G

      • I might nitpick the economics when I get a chance… but this was a very thoughtful analysis.

      • Very good article Roger. Well presented. The only question I had on my quick reading is the megawatt/gigawatt numbers you attach to the wind farm capacities early on. Are these nameplate ratings or expected actual output? Just like any other generation source the nameplate capacity is never achieved over the long haul and the nature of the windmills is inherently much more variable ie worse, than any other. even solar has a predictable 24 hr cycle.
        Lots of very fancy engineering (and expensive back up power sources) has to be done to make sure system stability (over a large grid) is acceptable. The ONE thing ‘grandma’ wants is to make sure the electricity to her lift chair is available when she wants to get up go to the bathroom!

  2. I see this as propaganda for the Renewable Industry – why wasn’t it headlined as to its real purpose. I won’t repost as first it is too long and no one has time to read long one-sided blogs; secondly I won’t be a conduit for promoting the false narrative of Al Gore.

    • I’m one of the biggest crirics of renewable energy on this blog, and I don’t see how you can call this propaganda.

      Rog definitely comes at this from a pro-renewables perspective; but it’s a generally well-balanced analysis.

      • its was still alot of cheerleading not facts backed up evidence … and stating facts not in evidence … such as “It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire.” gives no evidence that 40-50 nuclear plants are being retired in the next decade.

        but building a sufficient number of windmills to cover the same energy wouldn’t be hard its assumed ????

      • Dave Middleton: I don’t agree that Sowell is balanced, he is a wind enthusiast who doesn’t hide his enthusiasm. He acknowledges a few problems (so as to give an appearance of balance) but does not address the fundamental facts proving wind power to be uneconomical and foolish. Try to pin him and he harks back to his main theme here: We’re closing and will keep closing coal and nuke, and we’re gonna need elec. so gotta be wind. I have not seen him address this point- can we meet our future needs without wind? The answer is yes, easily, cheaply and less environmental degradation than wind (19th cent tech) with 20th cent tech, coal and nuke, if only enviros would be reasonable. He talks about clean air act and coal, but does he ever address the historical fact that EPA purposefully tightened clean air act so as to kill coal? I say “fact” because I recall Obama could not get carbon tax, so EPA went after particulates far beyond any provable health affects, and they were quite open about it being a war on coal. Does he ever address that coal plants did meet clean air act standards which actually cleaned the air? In other words, if EPA went back to clean air standards that actually cleaned the air, coal plants would come right back and wind would be too costly. Mr. Sowell thinks that can’t happen, but it’s actually easy to foresee. Smart guys like W. Buffet will pick up coal assets at bankruptcy sales (thanks to EPA and wind enthusiasts), then lobby feds to back off particulate regs. and coal will be king again. Why? Because it will be far more profitable than wind. Pull these regs and end wind subsidies, and even Mr. Sowell will see what is perfectly obvious to others like me- it cost more to build and operate a wind farm (with necessary back up) than it costs to build and operate just the back up. I do appreciate that he is willing to post and comment here, and apologize for any abuse. I’m happy to abuse those who deserve it, especially Steve, who asks so nicely. But Mr. Sowell deserves respect.

      • I appreciate a balanced approach. Similar to US foreign policy I’ve always wanted to see the power point presentation where we think this is a good idea because….

        My opinion is that it boggles the mind to take a stupid solution (to a non-problem) on land and then put it over salt water where it’s infinitely more corrosive and harder to maintain. And isn’t this in the North Sea where the weather is always ridiculous. The good news is when the sea reclaims (recycles) these, at least they will be good artificial reefs.

      • I almost choked when I read that wind power will add 100,000 jobs, and then a mention was made of aeronautical engineers. Most of those 100K jobs are temporary installation jobs that require a person to be on the road most of the time.

      • For Kaiser Derden,

        ” “It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to build a sufficient number of nuclear power plants – 40 to 50 of them – in the next decade to replace those that retire.” gives no evidence that 40-50 nuclear plants are being retired in the next decade.”

        Here is a list of the 47 US nuclear plants, by reactor, that in 2017 are age 40 years or more. (source: EIA and nuclear plants, link from article above) The 21 retired reactors in the US all shut down at less than 40 years of operation, except three: Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee, and Fort Calhoun. Those were 40, 42, and 43 years old, respectively.

        Your view may be different, but my view is that none of those 47 listed below will still be operating in ten years. That is based on the proven history of US nuclear reactor retirements. Twenty one plants all shut down, even some when the industry was making tremendous money. In this environment of great losses each year, it is doubtful that any will survive to see age 50, unless given huge subsidies by government.

        Dresden 2…………. 48 yrs in 2017
        Ginna……………….. 48
        Nine Mile Point 1.. 48
        Oyster Creek……. 48
        Monticello……….. 47
        Point Beach 1….. 47
        Robinson 2……… 47
        Dresden 3……….. 46
        Palisades………… 46
        Point Beach 2…… 46
        Pilgrim 1………….. 45
        Quad Cities 1……. 45
        Quad Cities 2……. 45
        Surry 1……………. 45
        Turkey Point 3 …….45
        Browns Ferry 1….. 44
        Indian Point 2……. 44
        Oconee 1……….. 44
        Oconee 2………… 44
        Peach Bottom 2…. 44
        Prairie Island 1….. 44
        Surry 2…………….. 44
        Turkey Point 4….. 44
        Arkansas Nuclear 1 .43
        Browns Ferry 2….. 43
        Brunswick 2….. 43
        Calvert Cliffs 1.. 43
        Cook 1……………. 43
        Cooper Station…… 43
        Duane Arnold…….. 43
        Fitzpatrick……….. 43
        Hatch 1…………… 43
        Oconee 3…………. 43
        Peach Bottom 3…. 43
        Prairie Island 2…… 43
        Three Mile Island 1. 43
        Indian Point 3…… 42
        Millstone 2……….. 42
        Beaver Valley 1…. 41
        Browns Ferry 3….. 41
        Brunswick 1………. 41
        Calvert Cliffs 2 ……..41
        Salem 1……………… 41
        St. Lucie 1…….. 41
        Cook 2…………… 40
        Davis-Besse…….. 40
        Farley 1…………… 40

      • Kaiser, windmills do not receive the scrutiny that nuclear plants do. The former are relieved of many Federal rules and regs (including avian life protection, disposal planning, etc.), while the latter must defend against a barrage of dingbat suits for additional environmental impact studies, re-reviews of earthquake/tsunami/meteor/terrorist/(it never stops) plans, etc. Anyone can cause a stop of construction of nuclear, whereas windmills are protected by the Government.
        Yes, it is possible to build thousands of windmills instead of nuke plants because the former are condoned/protected, and the latter is a target of liberals who hate mankind in general – just not themselves.

      • Particularly with this detailed and informative analysis:
        “”””””…… Whatever arguments there may be against subsidies, wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially from the subsidies. …..”””””

        Why would the subsidizers (AKA Taxpayers) have ANY arguments against subsidies ??

        The fact that ” wind turbine generators have benefitted substantially”, is justification enough. No reason to air complaints of those forced to support those subsidees, against their will.

        G

      • George,

        I’ m not a fan of subsidies… But, right now, the existing regulatory and red tape environment has put us in a position where the only type of new power plant that can be built without subisidies, is natural gas combined cycle.

        I infinitely prefer coal & nuclear power over wind… but until the regulatory regime is fixed, there aren’t going to be many coal or nuclear power plants built in the US.

        On the “bright side,” the combination of regulatory relief that Trump can deliver without Congress and rising natural gas prices will enable existing coal-fired plants to operate at much higher utilization rates.

        Given a choice between subsidizing wind or solar… I’ll take wind. Its capacity factor can at least hit 50% on good days, at the right time of the year.

      • David , Subsidies; ANY subsidies, simply divert capital from engaging in productive enterprise, and divert it to already proven unproductive enterprise, so it is a NET LOSS of resources to the economic system.
        Nature herself does NOT tolerate inefficiency. Her rule selects against bad practices, in favor of ones proven successful.

        Subsides are the offspring of the “Broken window” thesis.

        You should describe your idea of the benefits of subsidies to Professor Walter E. Williams.

        I’m sure he would really be interested in your arguments for subsidies.

        Hint: Asset depreciation is NOT a subsidy. It is simply putting your pennies in a jar so you have money to buy a replacement, when a valuable asset, reaches the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. And useful assets do need to be renewed if you want to stay in business.

        The semi-conductor industry has an asset depreciation problem that would make your head spin. The way we put it is: “If it works; it’s obsolete !”
        If the government allowed the semiconductor industry to recover 100% of their costs, the day they opened their new wafer fab plant for business, they would still need 10 times that amount of investment to build the next one they will need to replace it. All because the pace of technological advance is so fast, merely recovering your capital in five years of depreciation will leave your business in a land fill.

        G

    • I congratulate Charles for seeking alternative views for WUWT, and I congratulate Roger for taking up the challenge. But the article is largely based on a false premise, namely that nuclear and coal plants that retire will not be replaced because they are not cost-effective or they pollute. Off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation are still cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting. If they are not used in future, the reason won’t be cost, it will be corruption. Well that’s what I call it when authorities make crony rules to favour ideologues. If authorities world-wide set proper level-playing-field rules for energy and for electricty generation, then wind power would certainly have a place, but natgas, coal and nuclear would still dominate electricity production.

      The really nice aspect of my opinion is that if you think I am wrong, you should campaign hard for a level-playing-field for electricity production, because that’s what will prove me wrong.

      • Okay, with coal and nuclear being retired and/or shut down to be replaced by “wind powered generation”, what will the energy source be that powers the economic endeavors who provide the money with which to subsidize the “wind farm” installations and operations.? Is it anticipated that subsidies will be provided using the fantasy fiat currency that central banks magically conjure out of their fantastic magic money holes in the air? Such fantastic dreams make good reading as the basis of fantasy novels that are written by talented novelists but the problem is that there is a reality and there is just one version of reality.

      • For Mike Jonas,

        “But the article is largely based on a false premise, namely that nuclear and coal plants that retire will not be replaced because they are not cost-effective or they pollute. Off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation are still cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting.:

        I believe the article is based on a true, fact-based premise that I described in some detail above (to read some of the comments, using far too many words to do so).
        If there are, as you assert, “off-the-shelf nuclear and scrubbed coal generation ” that are cost-effective and acceptably non-polluting, please provide a list of those power plants that are running in the US today and have been built recently.

        I looked, and could not find any.

        The four nuclear reactors under construction presently in South Carolina and Georgia are off-the shelf nuclear power designs, approved by the NRC and not unique designs. They are all from the same basic design. Yet, they each, all four, have failed spectacularly during the construction phase. That does not meet my definition of cost-effective.

        And, the same for coal-fired plants. I looked, and could find none.

        Perhaps you have a better source and can state the plant names and locations.

      • Reply to Roger Sowell:
        New coal : http://www.theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/328841/why-germanys-nuclear-phase-out-leading-more-coal-burning
        Germany is building new coal plants.
        One example of many.

        SMRs (Small Modular Reactors): http://newatlas.com/small-modular-nuclear-reactors/20860/
        One reason for government and private industry to take an interest in SMRs is that they’ve been successfully employed for much longer than most people realize. In fact, hundreds have been steaming around the world inside the hulls of nuclear submarines and other warships for sixty years. They’ve also been used in merchant ships, icebreakers and as research and medical isotope reactors at universities. There was even one installed in the Antarctic at McMurdo Station from 1962 to 1972. Now they’re being considered for domestic use.“. [my bold]

        Coal and SMRs face far more cost and delay from determined ideologues than they do from any real cost or technological issue. Until recently, SMRs were ignored for domestic use because of “big” thinking. Now it is realised that SMRs can be used in a fleet, with considerable advantages.

  3. Counting on averages is misleading, standard deviations gives you an idea how much capacity should be used for instant backup.

    • The use of conservative annual capacity factors, as I did here, provides for ample capacity. Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.

      • “In addition, wind as an energy source is eternally renewable and sustainable”. Maybe Rog can tell me how wind turbines are sustainable when they are manufactured products that consume huge quantities of raw “finite” materials to generate electricity indirectly when it is more economical and cost effective to generate electricity directly from coal and gas. Once coal oil and gas expire then you cant have wind turbines or solar panels or any other manufactured product either so using the word “sustainable” related to wind and solar is a myth. Wind and solar only exist as a means to enforce the idea that coal oil and gas have the potential to devastate the planet but the truth is that without coal oil and gas you cant even have nuclear.

        Unless Rog can tell me how we get iron ore from Australia across the oceans without bunker oil?

        Sustainability is a euphemism created by Maurice Strong to define his and Paul Ehrlichs beliefs about the right size for the planets population and population control it had nothing whatsoever to do with identifying manufactured products as being in any way sustainable. All Manufactured products are sustainable up until the point at which there are no raw materials left.

        Copper ore is just 1.7% copper and in one America mine it took 16 years to dig down to the next layer but when that doesn’t appear to matter.

        Thousands of wind turbines equate to just one gas or coal fired super critical generator, cheap low cost and reliable why devastate millions of acres of land for no good reason?

      • Roger says,
        ” Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.”

        So the cost to maintain this capacity for immediate use is what?…and who pays?

      • For David Wells, with lots of questions. I will try to give an answer.

        “Maybe Rog can tell me how wind turbines are sustainable when they are manufactured products that consume huge quantities of raw “finite” materials to generate electricity indirectly when it is more economical and cost effective to generate electricity directly from coal and gas. “

        First, the wind is the energy for wind turbine generators, and wind is what is referred to as renewable and sustainable. As far as we can know, the wind will never end for the foreseeable future. Manufacturing the products is a different issue. To the extent the materials in the products are recyclable, the products are also sustainable. There are a few materials that cannot be recycled after use, that category includes neutron-bombarded steel and other alloys in a nuclear reactor. But, the steel, copper, and other metals in a wind turbine generator can be recycled. The fiber-glass blades probably cannot be recycled into new blades, but there may be other uses for the material.

        Also, wind turbines generate electricity directly, not indirectly. And, in many instances, the electricity is more cost-effective than power from natural gas or coal.

        “Once coal oil and gas expire then you cant have wind turbines or solar panels or any other manufactured product either so using the word “sustainable” related to wind and solar is a myth. Wind and solar only exist as a means to enforce the idea that coal oil and gas have the potential to devastate the planet but the truth is that without coal oil and gas you cant even have nuclear.”

        The expiration date, or resource exhaustion date for coal, oil, and gas are not known with accuracy, but can be estimated. I did so for coal in this article by citing competent sources. Oil and gas have very long production lives measured in hundreds of years. Coal is more finite at less than 50 years worldwide. However, more coal is available at higher prices. As I stated in the article, natural gas price will remain low as long as wind energy is fed into the grid. That means coal prices will also remain low, and coal will be exhausted. No miner will bring up coal if he loses money doing so.

        Now to the point of why wind and solar power exist at all. There was no contention that the fossil fuels would devastate the planet. In the US, the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) laid out a number of new regulations, one of which was to promote the use of electric power from renewable sources. There was a false notion back then that the world was running out of natural gas. Also, that oil probably was a limited resource and on top of that, the price was far too high because a few producing countries had a cartel and gouged the world with high priced oil. All of that resource scarcity turned out to be false due to improved oil and gas exploration and production methods.

        The idea behind PURPA was that smart people could be motivated, and would eventually find a way or ways to make cost-effective electricity from the sun and the wind, and a few other sustainable energy sources. Although it took a few decades, the goal was achieved for wind and solar, in about 2010.

        “Unless Rog can tell me how we get iron ore from Australia across the oceans without bunker oil?”

        Shipping will be a consumer of oil products for the foreseeable future, in my view. Atomic power was tried decades ago with the Savannah, but it was not cost-effective. Even the US Navy cannot justify nuclear power on all its ships, but only the submarines and the larger surface ships.

        “Sustainability is a euphemism created by Maurice Strong to define his and Paul Ehrlichs beliefs about the right size for the planets population and population control it had nothing whatsoever to do with identifying manufactured products as being in any way sustainable. All Manufactured products are sustainable up until the point at which there are no raw materials left.”

        As I said above, materials can be recycled for the most part. The molecules do not disappear from the Earth. With cheap energy, they can be recycled over and over again. The aluminum, steel, copper, and glass industries do this routinely.

        “Copper ore is just 1.7% copper and in one America mine it took 16 years to dig down to the next layer but when that doesn’t appear to matter.”

        I’m not clear on what this means.

        “Thousands of wind turbines equate to just one gas or coal fired super critical generator, cheap low cost and reliable why devastate millions of acres of land for no good reason?”

        Actually, the numbers are a bit off. Wind turbine generators onshore installed in 2015 were approximately 2 to 3 MW each. With a coal-fired plant at 400 MW, that requires only about 160 wind turbine generators. The land required, as stated in the article above, is 85 acres per MW. For 160 wind turbines, 34,000 acres or 53 square miles is required. However, more than 99 percent of the land in a wind farm is perfectly suited for its previous use, grazing, crops, or something else.

        As I wrote above, there are more than 20 good reasons for wind energy. Primary among those is the reduced demand for natural gas, and therefore lower prices for natural gas. Many good things flow from that single benefit.

      • Even if all 250 GW of installed wind capacity ceased for a week, in the ten-years’ hence scenario, there would be more than adequate natural gas-fired capacity to compensate.“. Why does it always have to be stated this way round? If the market was open, ie. no subsidies and no mandates, would electricity companies choose to build both wind and gas (keeping gas idle on still days), or would they just build gas (and maybe coal and nuclear)? Let’s move to a level playing field and find out. I would think that gas etc would be heavily preferred, but I would be very happy to be proved wrong. While the market is heavily skewed, the logical perception is that consumers are being screwed.

      • As I wrote above, there are more than 20 good reasons for wind energy. Primary among those is the reduced demand for natural gas, and therefore lower prices for natural gas. Many good things flow from that single benefit.“. That’s tosh. Cheap gas is more beneficial the more it’s used. Forcing the price down by forcing people not to use gas is detrimental because they are denied the benefits. The only way it could be beneficial would be if wind was being preferred because it’s cheaper – but it’s easy to see that that’s not the case because greater wind generation is associated with higher electricity prices, not lower.

    • I don’t have ANY useful applications OR needs, that can utilize ” AVERAGE ENERGY ”

      My life depends on having “suitable and sufficient” energy available NOW / instantly /On demand / when I step on the gas pedal / whatever.

      When I turn a light switch on in the dark, and no light appears, I have an immediate and present problem, and I cannot wait until the supply catches up with the average.

      No physical system responds to the average of anything.

      “Average” does NOT mean “most likely” or any other euphemism. In fact I can describe in a few words, a very simple; the simplest kind of data set, where the “average” is NOT the most likely outcome of a future “test”, and in fact the “average” may be most unlikely to occur, and may in fact never occur except perhaps in the very first experiment.

      The average value of any data set, might be a value that was NEVER observed by anybody, anywhere, at any time ! There is NO ASSURANCE that the average value of a data set is even a valid member of that data set, let alone a value likely to occur most often.

  4. In the UK, the current price for offshore windmill generation is about £3.5m/MW; Hywind manages an absurd, eye-watering cost of £6.67m/MW. These costs have been rising over the last 17 years. In 2000, Blyth was £1m/MW, 2002 North Hoyle £1.3m/MW. But since then, costs have risen at 20 % per annum (nominal).

    (Don’t believe me? try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_offshore_wind_farms_in_the_United_Kingdom)

    There’s no sign whatsoever of offshore wind getting cheaper. Any claims as such are baloney.

    It’s little better onshore. 20 years ago you could manage to buy a windmill for £0.8m-£1m/MW; now it’s crept up to about £1.5m/MW.

    Meanwhile, you can buy a 60 % efficient CCGT for £0.5m-£0.7m/MW. And gas is abundant, cheap as chips, and low on emissions.

    The point of all of the above is to support the observation that we should cease renewable deployment, shift renewable energy back to the research lab, and only deal with the technologies that have a proven performance – gas, and perhaps even coal (fitted with ash scrubbers, and de-sulphurisers). I would also urge persistence with the new, type 3 nuclear generators (such as the AP1000, and the already operating Hitachi ABWR).

    If renewables comes good: then deploy it. If not, bin them.

    • What does concrete recycle into besides landfill ??

      I have bought Eveready rechargeable (AA) batteries (cells) that are built from recycled materials.

      Yes they are somewhat more expensive than the ones from the exact same manufacturer, that do not include recycled materials.

      These ones contain a whopping 4% of recycled materials.

      I believe you can recycle aluminum cheaper than fresh from the ground.

      A lot of paper is recyclable into paper products; but then a lot of it is not.

      Precious metals like gold and copper or platinum are recyclable.

      What do printed circuit boards and automobile tires recycle into.

      G

  5. I don’t buy the bird mortality study referenced.

    1. It was by three people in a eco-energy company doing a survey of existing reports to defend wind farms. This is not exactly an unbiased summary, and no actual field research was done by the authors themselves.

    2. In my fairly long lifetime I have seen just one instance of a bird being killed by a cat. I have also seen a cat chased by a blue jay that was on foot at the time. I think the bird mortality rate from cats (only “estimated” in the reference study) is grossly exaggerated. The same is true for building collisions. I have never seen a bird collide with a building or a bird carcass next to a building.

    3. Birds killed by cats are small birds, not eagles. Conflating sparrow deaths with eagle deaths is equivalent to saying that the killing of elephants for ivory is insignificant because millions of rats are killed each year.

    • I have to disagree with 2 on factual grounds and with 3 on value judgment.

      ~2: The studies of bird deaths from feral cats are only a google away.

      Eg: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380

      The linked article estimates 1.3-4.0 bn birds killed in US annually.

      ~3: It’s nice that eagles are too large to be killed by cats. But many of us are concerned about ground such as quail and pheasant as well as warblers. Those are the ones particularly vulnerable to cats.

      I like cats! But outdoor cats really clear out their territory of many species.

      • Every measurement ever made is an estimate, and every quantity calculated from those measurements is likewise an estimate.

        So?

      • My cats have never killed a bird. I know because they bring everything they catch inside. So I estimate that the 1.3-4.0 billion figure is wrong.

      • Wait just a minute. Are you actually suggesting that an area equivalent to the land area of Iowa is needed in wind farms? This is simply out of the question!

      • My cat enjoys bringing live birds into the house and releasing them. He loves watching everyone run around trying to catch it.

      • “~2: The studies of bird deaths from feral cats are only a google away.”

        Indeed they are. Here’s what the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has to say on the subject:

        No scientific evidence
        Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.

        We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.

        It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

        Those bird species that have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland.

        https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines#yg4moErGCLGcfpUE.99

    • The Erickson reference itself has more than 100 references, perhaps you could read through those and see that a wide range of views are presented. Government agencies, environmental groups, and some consultants are included.

      And for the record, the US Audubon Society is on record supporting wind turbine generators despite the small number of birds killed.

      • “Government agencies, environmental groups, consultants(?)” are not a diverse range of views.

        And an environmental society willing to overlook the slaughter of endangered eagles is no surprise. The leadership of every environmental and scientific society has been taken over by the anti-CO2 crowd.

        I do think it was good of you to present your views here. But I still question the way rare bird deaths are ignored because they are low compared to “estimates” of deaths to sparrows (and plentiful quail) by other human sources. Windmills are still the only legal way to kill a healthy eagle.

      • When you hear the howls of dismay when a few ducks land in a tailing pond an have their feathers oiled, compare it to the strange silence following the death of a raptor that is minced my the blades of a wind turbine.

      • For the record: Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half. The lethal turbines, numbering roughly 6,000, are arrayed across 50,000 acres of rolling hills in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties.
        https://goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/birds-at-risk/avian-mortality-at-altamont-pass/

      • Birds , not bits.

        Although if the green fanatics are to be consistent ” all birds life’s matter”.

    • scarletmacaw

      I read an article about estimating bird deaths from coastal windfarms. It seems it’s almost impossible to gauge because the carcasses just get washed away.

      However, personally I think it’s’ a relatively minor problem and birds will eventually get wise to the fact that turbine blades are hazardous to their health.

      And my final point is that picking it as a subject of objection to windfarms makes we sceptics start to sound like rabid greens of old.

      • I Came I Saw I Left

        Like I said, those arguments make sceptics look like rabid greens of old. They are as inconsequential, and likely as exaggerated as the worlds entire population of pimple spotted, forked tongued newts being wiped out because a nuclear power station was built on an otherwise useless area of reclaimed marsh.

        We are still discovering species we had no idea existed. And like the birds, the bats will eventually wise up to exploding lung syndrome, they’re not one of the oldest existing flying creatures for nothing.

      • “However, personally I think it’s’ a relatively minor problem and birds will eventually get wise to the fact that turbine blades are hazardous to their health.”
        Unless you believe in reincarnation, a fatal mistake leaves little chance to learn anything about the encounter.

    • “Conflating sparrow deaths with eagle deaths is equivalent to saying that the killing of elephants for ivory is insignificant because millions of rats are killed each year.”

      +1e9

      It’s the usual legerdemain. We stopped DDT production, consigning millions of people to premature death, because it might, possibly, maybe thin the eagles’ eggshells. Now, we’ve just said to hell with the eagles to get some a pittance of intermittent, low quality power.

    • “I don’t buy the bird mortality study referenced”

      I don’t either. Secretary Ryan Zinke of the Interior Department said just a couple of weeks ago that the estimated bird deaths from windmills was between 650,000 and 750,000 per year in the U.S.

      This article seriously downplays the evironmental harm caused by windmills. And the environmental effects of off-shore windmills is just now starting to be studied.

      I personally don’t see a future for windmills. My home state of Oklahoma just passed a law eliminating windmill subsidies because it was going to bankrupt the state if they did not. Let’s see how many new windmill farms go up in Oklahoma in the future.

      One of these days people will come to their senses and realize windmills were the wrong path to follow.

    • Cats kill things. I live in the countryside and we always have cats or get overwhelmed by rodents.

      Strangely, cats seem to have a strong instinct for killing, even when removed from their mothers early and are fed, so it is not taught. They are also superb killing machines. The combination is devastating to anything that is small enough.

      The only things our current cat has not attacked is a 2m python (resting after a large meal) and a continually annoying bush turkey. They were both too big, although the cat definitely considered both.

    • The bird deaths are reported in total not per unit. There are massively more buildings, powerlines, cars etc than there are wind turbines. What we would really like to know is how wind turbines compare to equal cross sectional area of other structures or something like that. Wind turbines are equivalent to buildings and they result in more transmission line. One presumes they they have all the problems of existing structures plus those that stem from having a giant spinning chopper.

  6. When I Pass a wind farm I think, “The wave of the future.” But it’s an H.G. Wells future.

  7. The premise is that coal and nuclear are being phased out, so we have no choice but to look elsewhere. But there is absolutely no reason other than political to phase them out!!!

    Insanity.

    • For Eustace Cranch,

      Bringing this point to the fore is a main purpose of me writing this piece. Most people do not know that the US nuclear power industry is dying off rapidly. The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating. There is nothing political about that, but it is an economic result of low natural gas prices.

      It is an absolute fact that nuclear power plants are closing in the US. Only a few have persuaded their state legislatures to give them subsidies to continue losing money for a few more years. That part is, I agree, entirely political. The population of each state has to pay more taxes to support the high-paying jobs of a privileged few who work in the nuclear plants.

      One must wonder how that works in the race for votes. Tax a few million, lose their votes, and subsidize a few thousand?

      • I believe the point Eustace is making that wind power as well as other renewables are being encouraged is in response to a climate crisis. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this, Eustace. Most of us who view and respond on this blog question the supposed science supporting the conclusion that burning fossil fuels is causing any catastrophic changes in our climate.

        FWIW, I believe someday we will be forced to switch to another form of energy. I question whether wind and solar will play a large part due to its intermittent nature, and certainly politics is a poor judge to make this decision. However, thanks for your thoughtful analysis.

      • One reason nuclear is dying is because it is tasked as a spinning reserve for renewables. As more renewables go on line, nuclear facilities are squeezed financially. They have the same operating costs, but sell less electricity. The same is true for coal, gas, and hydro. This is the insidious hidden cost of renewables. But there’s no free lunch, so the hidden cost gets passed to the consumer. Or else the nuclear, gas, coal, hydro facility is shut down.

      • That is in the US and death by regulation, you left that part out. Nuclear is building all over the world.

      • Kami-Dave, that was exactly my point.
        I strongly disagree with the insidious idea that pretty soon we will have no choice but to bulldoze millions of acres of natural environment & habitat and/or fill the ocean with thrumming grinding pylons and/or crank out billions of solar cell with all the poisonous nastiness that entails.

        There are other less intrusive/disruptive choices.

      • We seem to be ignoring the mandates for renewables. Cost is not an issue for the politicians, it is not a free market but one where various credits, subsidies and environmental requirements on coal and Nuclear have tilted the table.
        I know from extensive experience in the oil and chemical business that properly maintained plants just don’t wear out. Periodic shutdowns, repairs and upgrades can allow a well maintained plant for extended periods. Some of the most profitable plants in the refineries were built in the 40’s and 50’s and are upgraded with latest technology. Look at the age of most refineries.
        Both my neighboring Nuclear plant and nearby coal fired plants are being shut down by environmentalist not by end of useful life.
        The canard is comparing the cost for a new plant rather than looking at the maintenance cost for keeping the existing plant safe and efficient.
        The Nuclear plant which is the oldest operating in the US survived Sandy but is being shut down because their option was to add cooling towers instead of getting cooling water from the large nearby Bay. One of the best winter fishing spots will soon be gone

      • Roger Sowell

        My understanding is that it takes 70 renewable workers to produce the same energy as a single coal worker.

        Which makes the entire, already heavily subsidised renewables industry look like a massive job creation scheme.

        I would also draw your attention to Matt Ridley’s analysis of wind power http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/

        And whilst I accept your numbers on energy production, a mass move towards Electric Vehicles and a growing population will place considerably more of a burden on electricity supplies than seems to be calculated for in your figures, but my maths is pants so forgive me if that’s wrong.

        There is also the question of energy provision in the event of windfarms becoming becalmed. Battery technology as it stands now would probably require storage areas of the same physical area as the windfarms themselves to supply a city with sufficient energy for, perhaps, a day. And whilst the mix of energy supplies must also be borne in mind, my understanding is that even gas powered turbines are required to run at something like 80% or 90% capacity to be efficient and profitable. So are these expensive options to be left idling, producing no energy and earning their owners no profit, just to be there for the periods wind can’t provide enough power and batteries are exhausted after a day?

        No privately held energy provider will go for that, which then points to the socialist idyll of nationalisation and the associated gross waste and mismanagement inherent within that. And as a Brit of the 60’s/70’s and 80’s generation I can attest to the civil disturbances that caused.

        The UK has been told it will be forced into EV’s by 2040 and, amazingly, almost the entire MSM said in unison, but where’s the 30% extra energy coming from to facilitate that? And that’s without the growth in population, the probable banning of cheap to run gas appliances in home and industry, which includes the vast majority of central heating systems switching over to expensive electric systems, even at today’s prices.

        These changes will also hit the poor hardest, which will in turn lead to increases in welfare to help with energy bills, which once again, must be met by the taxpayer.

        Crunching the numbers, as you have, on the pure output aspects of windfarms (which I must also question as my understanding is the actual output is invariably considerably lower than the stated capacity, even without transmission losses) fails to acknowledge the political, social and unacknowledged knock on expenses an arbitrary march to renewables will incur.

        Not to mention that the science isn’t even in place for half of what’s proposed at anything but extortionate prices. £100,000+ for a Tesla that can achieve 300 miles isn’t going to convince many people to switch, and 300 miles is about the maximum, most others are 100 miles or so on a charge. Excellent for commuting, assuming one has a driveway to park in, but a large proportion of Brits don’t. Nor does it address the question of traffic congestion as people will still be buying family saloon cars to take one person to work every day.

        In the UK and France the move to EV’s by 2040 is a socialist command from high. The problem is, the UK didn’t vote for a socialist government, but we seem to have one.

      • Roger

        PS

        I don’t think it was necessary to include the veiled threat about libellous remarks.

        Unless you know something we don’t, this is an anonymous forum and you enter it at your peril.

        Griff does daily and if anyone had any cause to complain about libellous remarks, it might be him.

      • That nuclear power (in its current form) will be gone in 20 years is music to my ears. Trump needs to be made aware of this and declare coal to be a national security issue. Wind and solar are much too unreliable.

      • Roger,

        Eustace remarked:

        “The premise is that coal and nuclear are being phased out, so we have no choice but to look elsewhere. But there is absolutely no reason other than political to phase them out!!!”

        Which sat me up with a jolt. Your piece is entirely US centric other than a blithe reference to Scotland’s as yet unproven success with offshore floating windfarms.

        The Chinese and Indians alone are planning, I believe, in excess of 1,200 coal fired power stations over the coming decades. Germany is shutting down it’s nuclear power stations and replacing them with brown coal burning facilities, and it’s the self acknowledged green nation of the EU.

        What you’re supporting is US industrial, commercial, social and economic Hari Kari for an idealistic principle.

        It’s my understanding that Europe at least, has sufficient coal for the next 300 years. I’m not convinced the US has only 30 years.

        Nor is there a single, credible, empirical study that demonstrates CO2 causes atmospheric warming in the last 40 years of this claim. Being that the alarmist climate change community demand 30 years of evidence from sceptics to demonstrate the planet isn’t warming, I think they should apply their principles to their own claims.

        And being that the entire principle of renewables is predicted upon CO2 driving up atmospheric temperatures, time’s well overdue for them to put up, or shut up.

      • Catcracking, good observations. I’m in the SOB myself, analyzed and debottlenecked many an FCC over the years.

        Re your comments, “Both my neighboring Nuclear plant and nearby coal fired plants are being shut down by environmentalist not by end of useful life.”

        I don’t know which plants those are, and don’t want to know here online. But, many industrial plants have the same issues, not just nuclear plants and coal fired power plants. As environmental regulations are implemented, a number of facilities close rather than spend the money to comply.

        “The canard is comparing the cost for a new plant rather than looking at the maintenance cost for keeping the existing plant safe and efficient.
        The Nuclear plant which is the oldest operating in the US survived Sandy but is being shut down because their option was to add cooling towers instead of getting cooling water from the large nearby Bay.”

        The coal fired and nuclear plants many times cannot justify the very expensive stay-in-business costs to replace critical equipment. This is particularly true of nuclear plants, where they know they will shut down within 10 to 15 years. They can not obtain a payout for the replacement equipment, so they shut down early. That is also the case for many of the coal fired power plants that recently shut down, but the issue was new pollution controls.

      • “The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating.”

        The total system cost of an advanced nuclear energy facility is $108 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced. This cost reflects capital investment, operating and maintenance costs, transmission investment and efficiency. The total system cost for a natural gas combined cycle plant is $65.60 per MWh; onshore wind is $86.60 per MWh; offshore wind, $221.50; and solar, $144.30. Unlike renewable sources, however, nuclear energy facilities produce electricity around the clock.

        Roger is an excellent lawyer. As an engineer .. what kind of engineer argues to replace a money losing plant by something twice as expensive?

      • For JD, re August 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

        “One reason nuclear is dying is because it is tasked as a spinning reserve for renewables. As more renewables go on line, nuclear facilities are squeezed financially. They have the same operating costs, but sell less electricity.”

        Actually, in the US nuclear plants do not reduce load as wind or solar generate power. The US nuclear plants run at a constant rate, usually 100 percent unless they have a mechanical problem or are down for refueling. The problem the nuclear plants face is the wholesale price of electricity is below their operating cost. In fact, a few nuclear plants lately have failed to sell any power at auction to their respective grids. They lose money by selling power at a loss, sometimes for year after year. Then, they either shut down permanently or beg for subsidy money from their state government.

        “The same is true for coal, gas, and hydro. This is the insidious hidden cost of renewables. But there’s no free lunch, so the hidden cost gets passed to the consumer. Or else the nuclear, gas, coal, hydro facility is shut down.”

        Here, you are closer to the mark. Gas and hydro certainly can follow the load, and do so when the wind and solar are fluctuating. But, there is no insidious hidden cost. Those plants are designed to change loads frequently. The benefit, as I wrote in the article, is less natural gas is burned while the wind turbines are generating,

        The consumer actually benefited in Nebraska after the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant shut down. That’s usually the case when an old, inefficient and uncompetitive plant is forced out of business. The more efficient, low-cost plants continue operating and the consumer wins.

      • It is not only that it is political, Roger, but also that that time is now over. Anti-coal etc is and always was nuts, given modern techniques. Wind must be subsidised and backed up. These factors are unsustainable if we wish to survive. So I am glad to see the worm has turned. Nice try though…..

      • “Bringing this point to the fore is a main purpose of me writing this piece. Most people do not know that the US nuclear power industry is dying off rapidly. The existing reactors simply lose too much money to continue operating. There is nothing political about that, but it is an economic result of low natural gas prices.”

        Ok,stop. This is why wind turbines will lose out to new ng facilities. Economics are in favor of ng. As far as off-shore: that would require use of federal lands. There wll be lawsuits – by those on nearby coasts, boaters, shippers, fishing concerns, as well as eco-groups that fight any ocean development. I see no way many off-shore turbines will be put online in less than a decade.

        Finally, wind turbines extract energy out of the atmosphere; the energy that drives weather systems which results in the world’s climate. Somewhere, someone has a computer model that shows…..

  8. This, to me is an eye opener piece. Gotta read it several times. Thanks for writing and posting.

  9. “With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh. At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used.”

    Assuming we could ever get the unsubsidized cost of wind down to $89 per MWh (which I do not believe), comparing it with base load gas using $10 per gallon LNG is ludicrous for the U.S., which is awash in piped natural gas currently selling at the Henry Hub for $3 per MMBtu. The simple fact is that a new CCGT plant operating at current U.S. natural gas prices pencils out at about half the (wildly optimistic, in my opinion) $89 figure cited for the idealized wind farm.

    • For Claude Harvey,

      Note that the economics in that part of the article are strictly for the Hywind Scotland offshore project, and projected reductions due to economy of scale.

      The $10 for LNG is $10 per million Btu, which is stated in the article. That is not the US price, but is typical of landed costs for Europe.

      I agree that a modern CCGT in the US has much lower operating costs. I write on this regularly on my blog.

      • Roger

        Surely the correct cost comparison is not total cost v total cost, but total cost of wind v the Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy (LACE) (effectively the marginal cost) of the dispatchable source (say CCGT).
        This is what the EIA recommends.
        https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/wind-power-avoided-energy-costs/

        The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
        Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense

      • For Paul Homewood,

        “The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
        Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense”

        Well, that’s one way of looking at it. My preferred analysis is what can anyone do to reduce the highest cost events, for example simple-cycle gas turbines as peaker plants. Those run only rarely, but when they do, they cost enormous amounts to supply power. Here in California, where wind is small and solar is great, we find that peaker plants are not run as often when the wind cooperates and generates during the evening peak period. Here, that is typically 4 pm to 6 pm. Having wind projects that require 10 to 15 cents per kWh generated is far better than those simple-cycle gas turbines. Also, the cost of the peaker plants does include capital, operations, maintenance, and fuel costs. Because they run so few hours in a year, their amortized capital costs are large. So, we built wind out here, pay the owners 15 cents per kWh, and don’t run peakers at 50 to 90 cents per kWh. That’s a winning situation.

        Even when the wind does not cooperate, we still have to run the gas-fired peaker plants. But, in CA the state (sometimes is not a total idiot; rare but true) legislated the removal of simple-cycle gas turbines. We must now have combined cycle gas turbine plants, each with a maximum heat rate. That corresponds to approximately 59 percent thermal efficiency. Wind costs cannot beat that, at least not out here and not yet.

        A long answer, but my point is we must compare apples to apples. If the total cost of wind energy plants is one one side of the equation, we cannot simply use the fuel costs for the gas-fired plants. It would make more sense to use just fuel costs for both technologies. But, if one did that, wind would clearly win due to absolutely zero fuel costs.

      • Roger

        “My preferred analysis”

        Sorry, that’s really not good enough. Analysis is not chosen as a preference to suit ones particular argument.

      • Paul: “The logic is that we still need CCGT as back up, and therefore will still need to pay all of the fixed and capital costs.
        Only if the total cost pf wind power is less than the marginal cost of gas (effectively just fuel) does wind make sense”

        Roger: “Well, that’s one way of looking at it.”

        Then let’s look more carefully, starting with those OC-Gas Peaker plants that CA is or has gotten rid of. The reason that technology was used for peak power production is that their capital and other fixed costs needed to be recouped from a plant that is only run perhaps 10% of the year. That makes capital cost far more important FOR THIS APPLICATION that fuel cost. OC-Gas is the cheapest plant to build. Now that CA has or will replace then with CC-Gas, the capital cost will double and be slightly off-set by lower fuel cost. CA customers will pay an extremely high price to reduce CO2 emissions using these plant – probably well above estimates of the SCC.

        Hopefully, those peaker plants will help you recognize that there isn’t a single market for electricity: All kWh are not created equal. When meet base load demand, you can afford a plant with a high capital cost (whose capital costs can be recoup by operating nearly 100% of the time) with low fuel and variable cost (which are also charged nearly 100% of the time). As plants produce for a smaller fraction of the time, their capital and fixed costs become more important their fuel cost becomes less important. Furthermore, these factors are mostly local, because high capacity transmission lines are expensive to build and have limited capacity.

        So where does wind (and solar) fit into this picture. They clearly have high capital cost, no fuel cost and low variable cost; so they compete most directly with nuclear. However, they aren’t dispatchable – we need to have a fossil fuel (or perhaps hydroelectric) plant waiting to take over. Customers are paying the fixed cost of that plant, in addition to the cost of the wind farm, the PTC, the feed-in tariffs, the subsidized financing, the guaranteed share of the market and other incentives offered by the government. This drives up the cost of electricity for everyone. Those incentives allegedly provide Warren Buffett a 4.5% annual return on invested capital in Iowa before he receives a penny from customers.

        The LCOE of wind power is a joke. Apply the law of supply and demand. The more wind farms that are built and the greater the market penetration of wind, the less valuable electricity from wind becomes. And the more valuable electricity from dispatchable sources will become. As a the owner of a decommissioned Alberta wind farm recently told the local newpaper: No one wants to buy electricity in Alberta when the wind is blowing. He is waiting for government incentives to guarantee him a market for his power before installing new turbines.

  10. Thanks very much for this clear, well written, summary and for the most part avoids being a wind sales pitch.

    If WTG’s can actually compete economically without ongoing subsidies, and if our (U.S.) grids can effectively integrate their intermittent production and if the green blob doesn’t end up raising their costs outlandishly (as they have done for nuclear power) then it will happen. Frankly I hope it does happen. Your outlook is rational and optimistic and if it comes to pass provides a sound foundation for US economic growth.

    • Thank you, Mark Silbert.

      My optimism is based only on the facts of the past decade, during which wind energy designers and innovators demonstrated their ability to bring down the installed costs, and bring up the annual capacity factors. However, 10 years ago I was not a fan of wind turbine generators solely based on the economics.

      Back then, US based onshore projects achieved break-even pricing of $300 per MWh (30 cents per kWh).

      I wrote a comment a few months back on WUWT about nuclear power, and the demonstrated results there are just the opposite. Nuclear engineers and designers have been unable to reduce the costs of their new plant designs even after 50 years of massive effort worldwide.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        I have been disappointed by the lack of progress in cost reduction in nuclear. My preconceived notion is that this is driven by staggering burdensome regulation and virulent opposition by the greens that has demoralized the industry. I would hope that this doesn’t happen to wind as well.

  11. What a lovely vision of our Utopian future. BTW, you forgot to add ‘ and they all lived happily after’, at the end

  12. 1. “The growth of wind energy has been substantial in only 7 years, from almost zero percent to 7.5 percent of US total electricity.”

    Please source your claims. The usual number I see for ALL renewables (excluding hydro) is 4-5% (http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/co1/), yet you claim wind alone is 7.5%? Is that based on nameplate capacity of every wind genny in the US, regardless of operational status and actual output to the grid?

    2. RE: Figure 3.

    Wind is providing 25 TERAWatt/hours (25,000 GW/h, per graph) per month? If US electricity production is around 4,100 TW/h (again: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/co1/), that puts wind at 0.61%.

    3. “Wind generating capacity at present is approximately 84 GW”

    Wait. 84 GW x 24 hours per day x 30 days is 60,480 GW/h or 60.4 TW/h, right? But your Figure 3 says wind is 25,000 GW/h. I’m confused. Or you may be confusing nameplate capacities with actual production.

    4. “Onshore wind capacity at present stands at a bit more than 84,000 MW”

    and

    ” the estimated 11,000 GW of wind capacity that exists onshore in the US”

    Is installed onshore wind 84 GW or 11 TW? Maybe that 11,000 GW is estimated available WIND energy rather than installed TURBINE capacity.

    5. “With 640 being comfortably greater than 420, there is adequate natural gas power plant capacity to take over when the wind speed declines.”

    OK, if wind power is scaled to hold the load at the average wind speed, and gas makes up the loss when winds are below average, what happens to the surge when wind is above average? Are your plans including a surge-regulating storage capacity such as batteries? Id so, wouldn’t that ameliorate at least some need for supplemental gas?

    6. “Onshore wind farms have benefited greatly from private and public funding over the past decade. The wind turbine generators are already low-cost to install and operate. Projects are profitable in the Great Plains region of the US where the sales price for power is 4.3 cents per kWh.”

    Something that’s profitable so long as it gets subsidized is only profitable for the company, not the customers who are paying electric bills AND subsidy tax bills.

    And speaking of operating costs, turbines typically of an expected lifespan of 25 years(http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/43817/the-end-of-the-line-for-today-s-wind-turbines/). The sad reality is that actual lifespans average maybe half of that (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/windpower/9770837/Wind-farm-turbines-wear-sooner-than-expected-says-study.html). And they’re lossing genarating capacity every year that they manage to stay in service (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148113005727). Are you counting turbine replacement and repair in operating costs?

    7. Bird kills

    http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/new/us-windfarms-kill-10-20-times-more-than-previously-thought.html

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-many-birds-do-wind-turbines-really-kill-180948154/

    The feds estimated 1.4 million birds kills per year by 2030. Studies around the world suggest that estimate low by at least an order of magnitude, and doesn’t count non-avians like bats.

    • For Bear, I’ll try to make some sense with all the figures. My apologies for any confusion.

      Almost all the figures in the article on Electricity in the US are from the US EIA, Energy Information Agency. see e.g. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/

      1 EIA gives annual total wind energy for 2016 as 5.6 percent of 4,079 TWh/y. My article states 7.5 percent, which is for a monthly average recently (February, 2017). All renewables (excluding hydroelectric) for 2016 amounted to 10.4 percent for the year. Those numbers are in MWh generated, either annually or monthly.

      2 Here, you are confusing monthly with annual energy quantities. 25,000 for wind is monthly GWh. For that month, US amount was approximately 320,000 GWh. Multiply your 0.61 by 12, and get a ballpark figure of 7.2 percent.

      3 On this one, multiply the wind nameplate capacity by the appropriate capacity factor, usually around 0.35. That is the amount of electricity actually delivered. That should result in around 21,170 GWh/month.

      4 No, both statements are accurate. There are approximately 11,000 GW of wind capacity, installed nameplate generating, in the onshore US. To date, first quarter of 2017, we have installed only a small part of that. There are 84,000 MW installed, or 84 GW of nameplate wind power installed at this time. So, 11,000 GW total we could install, and 84 GW actually installed at this time.

      5 Actually, wind turbine generators can never exceed the nameplate capacity. So, if 84 GW are installed, the most we will ever see is 84 GW in a moment’s time. That is an unrealistic number, because at least some of the turbines will be offline for repair or maintenance. The US entire grid would peak at approximately 600 to 700 GW, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen that figure published. It’s not what we worry about, as each separate grid worries about that. In California, for example, the grid operator, CAISO does annual capacity studies to ensure we have at least 50 to 55 MW of capacity each summer when the peak occurs. Other grids have different numbers, depending on their size. In the scenarios I describe in the post, wind never runs the entire country. After ten years, wind max capacity is 250 GW, far below the 700 GW for the entire country. It gets a bit closer in twenty years, with 420 GW wind and still 700 GW for the entire country. Still, it would be extremely unlikely for every wind turbine to be operating, and operating at maximum output at the same time. More realistically, on the windiest day 20 years from now, wind might produce 80 percent of the maximum possible, so about 325 GW.

      6 This one is about operating costs and maintenance. The published report for US for 2015 shows new turbines have approximately 0.3 to 0.5 cents per kWh O&M. That increases over the years to approximately 4 cents per kWh after 20 years. At that point, most of the wind turbine’s revenue is spent on O&M, so the owner shuts it down. See the 2015 Wind Technology report referenced in the article. Lots of good, factual information in there.

      7 There is a lot of hysteria in the bird killed figures for wind farms. Here are the facts. Early wind towers, the support for the blades and generator, were made with trusses or derrick-style that had hundreds of nice perches for birds to sit on. So, they sat. And watched for gophers or whatever ran across the ground. The birds, not knowing that blades were whizzing through the air in front of them, jumped off the perch to hunt the prey, but some got whacked by a rotor blade. Bad design.

      Wind designers like birds, too. So, they built all the new turbine towers out of a single, smooth pole that has zero places for birds to perch. Bird losses dropped to almost zero. The only place they can perch is on the top of the nacelle, and those now have anti-bird provisions to dissuade the birds from perching there.

      Still, a few birds that are flying through a wind farm are still hit by the rotating blades. We can’t do much about that, except put noise-makers on the towers and blade tips. Those work well to scare away the birds, especially with recordings of bird enemies.

      It must be discussed that all forms of power generation kill some birds. Coal fired plants, nuclear plants, they all do. It’s just a matter of degree and who hates wind farms in the first place.

  13. Most of the disagreement about windmills comes from the lies and deceit used by promoters to get government handouts in the form of subsidies and mandates. Windmills are not an economical source of power. They are not a reliable source of power. They will have no significant effect on the climate or the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, a trace gas essential for life on the planet.

    The article states, “The negligible impact conclusion is consistent with studies in the US on bird mortality from wind turbines.”

    This is a perfect example of government/corporate corruption. Just contrast this statement to what happens to anyone else who kills a few birds. Example:
    “One of seven oil companies charged with killing migratory birds during drilling operations in North Dakota has agreed to plead guilty and pay $12,000.Slawson Exploration Co. Inc., of Wichita, Kan., was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for killing 12 birds that died after allegedly landing in oil waste pits in western North Dakota from May 6 through June 20. Under a plea agreement filed in federal court Monday, Slawson will pay $12,000 – or $1,000 per bird – to the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.” By JAMES MacPherson | Associated Press Oct 24, 2011

    We have negligible impact for windmills but $1000 fines per bird from an oil company given to a NGO. Fines given to a NGO favored by a bankrupt government is more corruption.

    One isolated windmill is interesting and can be picturesque. Wind farms with blades turning at different speeds and phases with some stopped is distracting and ugly. Every time I see a windmill I think of the government subsidies, mandates, lies, corruption, and environmental damage.
    If you want to sell your windmills stop relying on the government. Operate in the free market.

    • Having said all I did earlier in this thread about sceptics sounding like greens if we play the bird card, this is a brilliant, and relevant example of the distortion of principles from the green brigade.

      So windfarms ought to add $1,000 dollars for every migratory bird killed, to their operating costs. Then conservation comes down to a simple case of economic viability of windfarms.

      I will add that to my list of unintended consequences Roger.

  14. First, let me congratulate both Mr Sowell on being prepared to pen an article for WUWT, and WUWT on being prepared to host it. We will surely only arrive at an answer to the energy problem when both sides can sit down at the same table, and the ‘Climate Scientists’ show no wish to move in that direction at all.

    Now, the bad news. First, you are posting under the assumption that our energy mix will have to drop nuclear, coal and oil rapidly, in order to drop CO2 emissions. This is not the assumption of most of the readers here. They would point out that the science – what there is of it – does not support the view that CO2 is harmful (rather, the opposite) and that the policy requirement to cut CO2 is being pushed by activists who treat their cause as a religion rather than a science. They would further state that when push comes to shove, as it is doing in Germany and South Australia, renewable energy will be found to fail due to intermittency, and the resulting collapse of the Grid system and hike in electricity prices will force a reversal of this policy.

    However, assuming that we do decide to move ahead with wind power, what will happen? Well, I note that you do not mention EROEI, which is a critical issue. EROEI shows that Wind and Solar are capable of supporting a culture somewhere between Mediaeval and Victorian, but not the more sophisticated one we have today, and certainly not the numbers of people we have today. So there are two fundamental flaws in the ‘renewables’ dream before we get off the ground.

    I note that you use the standard technique of stating ‘capacity’ without specifying the capacity factor. You must know that this is small, and will fall further as more turbines are built. The belief that a large installation ‘evens out’ generation has been disproven by the German experience, so intermittency and poor delivery will remain a feature of a wind-powered system.

    Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.

    The fact that you have left all the negative points out and presented an apparent rosy picture belies your true position – that of an advocate. But you are speaking, not to an untutored jury, but to an audience of persons well-educated in the kind of propaganda which the green activists present. We will happily listen to proposals which address our concerns. But in fact you have no answer to the problems that we know about, and therefore simply overlook them. This may work in a courtroom, but it does not in an engineering exercise. Perhaps you need reminding of the following quotation:

    ” For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled…”

    Richard P. Feynman

    • Richard,
      I couldn’t agree more and you have saved me from stating that this is entirely predicated on CO2 being harmful.

      There are two things which currently make me think that despite all the rhetoric and hand-wringing the ‘powers that be’ don’t actually believe that CO2 is harmful or presents any kind of a problem for global temperatures.

      The first is the Paris Climate Agreement which provided for global CO2 emissions to be increased by some 46% a year by 2030.

      The second is the recently announced policies in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars and only allow electric cars to be sold. Netherlands from 2025, France from 2030 and UK and Germany from 2040.

      Calculations based on the IVL research into CO2 emissions from the manufacture of electric car batteries show that the UK’s policy will increase CO2 emissions by 2048 by some 37% over 2015 levels. That number reduces to ~19% if 50% renewable energy is used in the battery manufacture.

      The CO2 emissions from the manufacture of each new electric car battery, with no use of renewables in manufacture, equals16 Years of driving a petrol or diesel engine car ! So it appears that European nations either don’t care about the increased CO2 emissions or, possibly, have simply not thought through the effects of these policies.

      Now consider the CO2 emissions from the manufacture of battery farms large enough to store the electricity needed to buffer times when the wind isn’t blowing or is too strong and you realise that CO2 emissions cannot matter to anyone proposing this as a ‘solution’. The IVL study found these to be 150 – 200 kilos of CO2 per kWh and hence why a Tesla may have emitted 15 – 20 tonnes of CO2 just from manufacturing the battery.

      The drivers of every Tesla are responsible for More CO2 emissions on the day they purchase than had they kept driving a petrol or diesel car for the next 16-20 years !

      • Alas, I am DG.

        If Richard Feynman were posting it would be more of a miracle than a country working off wind power…

    • But DG, renewable energy certainly has NOT been found to fail in Germany due to intermittency.. what concrete examples do you have of this? The German grid is considered very reliable, even with parts of it working regularly on 70% renewable energy.

      SA is also being consistently misrepresented: failures there were due to extreme weather hitting the grid: if European standards had been applied the wind farms would not have tripped and with battery storage in place, not only would a trip have been less likely, as grid storage has very fast frequency response capability, but it would have enabled more rapid black start.

      • I’ll go along with the trip settings and we all learn by experience but when you say- ‘and with battery storage in place, not only would a trip have been less likely, as grid storage has very fast frequency response capability, but it would have enabled more rapid black start.’ it’s like saying plane flights are uneventful with the right amount of fuel on board. Why do unreliable fans simply assume one day it will all be rosy and not to worry in the interim as it’s all under control?
        http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/august
        In South Australia we’re now paying AUD 50c/kwhr peak and we haven’t paid for the really BIG battery yet. Meanwhile the brains trust is busy installing diesel gennys-http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/state/2017/08/01/sa-beefs-up-energy-capacity.html
        Why not more precious windmills and solar panels Griff?

      • Germany, at 26 cents per kilowatt hour 3 times that in the US, what can go wrong, the elites like Gore don’t care but what about the peons that have to sacrifice somewhere or go cold.

      • Griff, Germany almost went dark last January. What saved them was the Norwegian hydro interconnect. And Gemany renewable surpluses are exported to severely stress the Polish and Austrian grids. SA went dark when wind tripped off because of high wind speeds and there was not sufficient grid inertia to bridge, so the Victoria interconnect tripped off. You do know about grid inertia, and that wind supplies none?

      • A major blackout almost occurred Jan. 24 and was only prevented when German energy suppliers “also took the last reserve power plant,” Michael Vassiliadis, head of the union which represents power plants IG Bergbauchemie Energie, told reporters. The country’s power grid was strained to the absolute limit and could have gone offline entirely, triggering a national blackout, if just one power plant had gone offline, according to Vassiliadis.

        “The renewables could not even offer five percent [of total power demand.] Coal, gas and nuclear power kept the country almost in the first place under the electric current,” Vassiliadis said.

        As a result of green energy’s rampant unreliability, Germany plans to cap the total amount of wind energy at 40 to 45 percent of national capacity, according to a report published by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Germany will get rid of 6,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2019.

    • Within this article I did not see CO2 directly mentioned as the driver to go from coal and nuclear, to wind and gas. I clearly got the impression his argument was economically driven. Politics may play a role in that economics but I did not get the impression his justification was save the planet.
      He did use some form of capacity factor in his calculations of around 35%.
      This article as well written and appreciated by me. I still think the problems lay in baseload and storage capacity.
      The second problem I have is with creating more jobs. Increasing jobs per unit of anything is a recipe for lower standards of living.

      • In reality if half the wind generation had not been installed there would only be more gas burnt.
        So a massive reduction in investment.
        The CCGT would also have a lower average cost so the conclusion is all about who pays for the backup. If it is the gas generators wind works if its the wind generators it fails.
        Watch the price of electricity fall as wind comes in the value of wind power is thus much lower than despatchable gas generation.

        I have a great regard for the technology’s of the future but not building those wind farms and just having cheaper electricity would produce far more that 100K in jobs in the US.

      • Redefining “clean coal” to mean include CO2 emissions instead of just pollutants is the driver to replace coal plants. Unless the EPA can be persuaded to rescind its endangerment finding it looks like we will have to live with it.

    • For Dodgy Geezer, I will attempt to address you multiple concerns.

      Now, the bad news. First, you are posting under the assumption that our energy mix will have to drop nuclear, coal and oil rapidly, in order to drop CO2 emissions.

      No. I make no mention of CO2, nor carbon dioxide. The driving force for more wind is to prolong the life of natural gas, and to reduce the price of natural gas.

      This is not the assumption of most of the readers here. They would point out that the science – what there is of it – does not support the view that CO2 is harmful (rather, the opposite) and that the policy requirement to cut CO2 is being pushed by activists who treat their cause as a religion rather than a science. They would further state that when push comes to shove, as it is doing in Germany and South Australia, renewable energy will be found to fail due to intermittency, and the resulting collapse of the Grid system and hike in electricity prices will force a reversal of this policy.

      I fully agree that alarmism over global warming is unjustified. As stated in my brief bio above, I am a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. Our group has met regularly for a decade, and exchanges views almost daily on how fellows with our experience can refute the false alarmism of unstoppable, catastrophic global warming due to human activities.

      However, assuming that we do decide to move ahead with wind power, what will happen? Well, I note that you do not mention EROEI, which is a critical issue. EROEI shows that Wind and Solar are capable of supporting a culture somewhere between Mediaeval and Victorian, but not the more sophisticated one we have today, and certainly not the numbers of people we have today. So there are two fundamental flaws in the ‘renewables’ dream before we get off the ground.”

      I do not agree that EROEI is a critical issue. After more than 40 years in the energy industry, EROEI is simply an academic ratio that industry professionals view as an idle curiosity. We deal instead with economics. For example, we simply do not care how much energy is required to extract the next 100 barrels of oil out of the ground. It is entirely immaterial. What matters is how much it costs to bring up that 100 barrels of oil, relative to the market price for the oil.

      The stark facts of wind energy in the US show that several entire states obtain more than 20 percent of their annual electricity from wind. With zero adverse affects; nobody is forced to live like a peasant in Medieval Europe. As an engineer, I can assure you that we know exactly how to proceed to keep the grid safe, reliable, and power affordable with 30 percent wind, even 40 percent and 50 percent wind energy.

      I note that you use the standard technique of stating ‘capacity’ without specifying the capacity factor. You must know that this is small, and will fall further as more turbines are built. The belief that a large installation ‘evens out’ generation has been disproven by the German experience, so intermittency and poor delivery will remain a feature of a wind-powered system.

      No, I most assuredly do specify the capacity factor for both the wind turbines and the gas-fired power plants. The US wind experience is an increase in average annual capacity factor, not a decrease. An increase year-over-year will continue as older, smaller, inefficient projects are torn down and replaced with turbines that have much higher capacity factors.

      Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.

      The wind hockey stick graph is simply a visible and understandable way of conveying the new truth: wind power is not a dream, it is not a fad, and it is not a minor player. The fact that wind energy has met and at times exceeded the output of large hydroelectric power in the US is something that should be widely stated. The proof is there, in the graph.

      As to ever more generous taxpayer grants, that too is part of my article. Those subsidies were put to good use, in bringing down the cost to install, and increasing the capacity factor of wind projects. The fact is that the subsidies disappear soon, as I stated in the article. The wind industry will forge ahead on its own.

      The fact that you have left all the negative points out and presented an apparent rosy picture belies your true position – that of an advocate. But you are speaking, not to an untutored jury, but to an audience of persons well-educated in the kind of propaganda which the green activists present. We will happily listen to proposals which address our concerns. But in fact you have no answer to the problems that we know about, and therefore simply overlook them. This may work in a courtroom, but it does not in an engineering exercise. Perhaps you need reminding of the following quotation:

      I stated at the outset that my piece would be positive, and the negatives were presented earlier. As ctm described the intent to me, this is a sort of Point-CounterPoint article. My presentation is of facts, well supported by references. If this were a courtroom, the jurors would be able to judge for themselves which facts are true, and which are not. Instead, this is for a wide audience (many anonymous) who have different opinions, that are many times not based on the facts. So many people blindly accept the words they hear without checking the truth.

      I am more than familiar with the usual litany of negatives about intermittent renewables; and I am confident that every single objection either has been satisfactorily addressed already, or soon will be.

      I do note that you make no specifics about your concerns, and “the problems that we know about.” If you care to write those out in a comment, I will try to address them with facts.

      • Why did you lump hydroelectric into the non-renewables category? It definitely doesn’t generate the eeeeevill CO2 gas, which is the foundational belief of the renewables cabal. Nor does nuclear power, which generates waste of a different category, but certainly not that clear, odorless gas that plants need to survive. As other commentators have pointed out, it appears that these “renewable energy” projects need massive transfers of wealth in order to be even close to economically feasible, and even then they require duplication of the power output from conventional generation for when they just aren’t producing any power. I also disagree with your contention that wind turbines have no negative impact on the environment. Firstly with the requisite mining of rare earth minerals for the generator magnets and also with the fact that in the US, the US Fish & Wildlife Service allows wind farms to kill raptors in numbers that far exceed any other industry. Couple that with the “streamers” of fried birds killed at solar sites like Ivanpah, the claim of zero impact to the environment is ludicrous.

      • For artslap9,

        “Why did you lump hydroelectric into the non-renewables category? It definitely doesn’t generate the eeeeevill CO2 gas, which is the foundational belief of the renewables cabal. Nor does nuclear power, which generates waste of a different category, but certainly not that clear, odorless gas that plants need to survive.”

        Good question on defining hydroelectric as non-renewable. Definitions of this vary. In the post, Figure 2 shows hydro as renewable, along with wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. I’m not sure I lumped hydro into non-renewables, although the official position of the State of California does that. Actually, California has a complicated definition, where Size matters. Large hydroelectric generators do not count toward the state’s renewable portfolio standard, but small ones do.

        “As other commentators have pointed out, it appears that these “renewable energy” projects need massive transfers of wealth in order to be even close to economically feasible, and even then they require duplication of the power output from conventional generation for when they just aren’t producing any power. I also disagree with your contention that wind turbines have no negative impact on the environment.”

        The “massive transfers of wealth” simply do not happen here in the US. The fact is, for wind projects, the federal government allows a tax credit on the income tax return, of 2.3 cents per kWh generated. That only kicks in if the plant owner has a tax liability from some source. Then, it only lasts for the first 10 years of operation. The way this is set up, the US government increases the federal deficit by the amount of the tax credits claimed. That deficit spending is by issuance of Federal Treasury notes, that have interest rates of less than 1 percent (depending on the year of issuance). The point is, the taxpayers end up paying almost nothing for the wind tax credit subsidy.

        About the wind turbines’ impact on the environment: the Statoil ES concludes the bird mortality is insignificant, but did not say zero impact. Regarding my statement on the spoiled views, that depends on one’s standard of beauty. I like the wilderness, too. But, I can see the beauty in a wind farm, just like I can see the beauty in a chemical plant, and a power plant, near the ocean. Some coastal lands were converted from pristine condition to allow those power plants and chemical plants to be built. Somehow, that environmental degradation gets no mention.

      • “That deficit spending is by issuance of Federal Treasury notes, that have interest rates of less than 1 percent (depending on the year of issuance). The point is, the taxpayers end up paying almost nothing for the wind tax credit subsidy. ”

        This is from the Robert Reich/Paul Krugman school of economics. Unless that debt is retired you are paying interest on it in perpetuity. And just because the rate is 1% now (actually the weighted average rate is higher than that), doesn’t mean that it will remain there forever, so essentially tax payers are on the hook indefinitely for interest payments as well as the principle (until we default/debase anyway)

        And to trivialize the 2.3c WPTC takes a bit of brass given that that’s about 20-25% of the retail price of electricity (less in the greentopia of California). Further, wind prior to 2020 is permitted to take the ITC instead of the WPTC.

        Wind farms remain subsidy farms. Eliminate them all and let the real market decide.

      • “The ‘massive transfers of wealth’ simply do not happen here in the US. The fact is, for wind projects, the federal government allows a tax credit on the income tax return, of 2.3 cents per kWh generated.” – Roger

        Surely you know this “production tax credit” is only a fraction of the wind subsidy. A 30% investment tax credit plus 5-year accelerated depreciation is where the great raid on the federal treasury (massive transfer of wealth) occurs.

      • It should be pointed out that the amount of subsidy to the US government supplies to wind has been almost constant during the entire time period of the wind Hockey stick graph. We are not budgeting more money to wind subsidies. In fact the current version of the subsidy as written in the law will slowly ramp down over time. Most subsidies for nuclear, coal , oil and gas have been constant for over 50 years. And a lot of non subsidy money has been spent via the military budget to secure a constant supply of oil from unstable rejoins of the world. The US wind subsidy is quite small when compared to other energy subsidies that wind does not receive.

      • Wind and solar have massive subsidies in the US compared to conventional energy sources.

        The military spending canard is tiresome. How much coal or oil have we imported from South Korea or Afghanistan?

      • 1 – The ‘driving force for wind is NOT to ‘reduce the price and prolong the life of natural gas’. We already have more than we know what to do with. I direct you to Julian Simon’s views on the false idea that we will run out of resources. https://www.wired.com/1997/02/the-doomslayer-2/

        2 – I am glad to see you working to quell alarmism, but so long as CO2 is seen as a pollutant rather than a beneficial gas the activists will still have a hold.

        3 – I see that you reject the concept of EROEI, and instead claim that as an engineer you can see how to run a Grid with 50% wind energy. As an engineer, that would be simple – you shape demand. When I was an energy trader, I couldn’t see how to do it without that. You might like to look at his ‘fact-filled’ paper from Eleanor Denny – http://erc.ucd.ie/files/theses/Eleanor%20Denny%20-%20A%20Cost-Benefit%20Analysis%20of%20Wind%20Power.pdf

        4 – ” wind power is not a dream, it is not a fad, and it is not a minor player. ” Strawman. Who is claiming that it is a ‘fad’? I claim that it is a highly inefficient waste of taxpayers money, and will collapse as soon as the teat is withdrawn. The wind industry thinks so too – it complains that it will collapse without subsidy and preferential purchase support. I see that your ‘fact’ here is the unsupported assertion that the ‘wind industry will forge ahead on its own. I would be happy to see them do that without CFDs.

        5 – I see facts in your piece, but not facts which address problems! For instance, you deal with the space requirements by happily claiming that allocating an area approximating Iowa would not be an issue. Maybe not in the US (though I doubt it) but it certainly would be in Europe. And have you considered the huge increase in Grid carrying capacity which will be needed to handle the irregular injections of power?

        5 – I see that you are confident that every objection ‘will soon be met’. That is not good enough for government work, and it is certainly not a ‘fact’. I see no mass storage technology capable of doing the job of smoothing renewable power inputs, I see no justification for the allocation of land to support incredibly low power generation densities, I suffer extortionate energy prices while you tell me that this energy will be cheap, and I hold that your belief is not a ‘fact’, and no substitute for proof.

      • Roger

        “No. I make no mention of CO2, nor carbon dioxide. The driving force for more wind is to prolong the life of natural gas, and to reduce the price of natural gas.”

        By subsidising renewables to price coal, gas and nuclear out the market? What possible reason can their be for that other than a phantom belief in something that makes renewables perceptibly acceptable to the gullible?

        Perhaps longevity of coal, gas and nuclear power? But there is limitless nuclear energy, and of all the power sources available, which has caused the least deaths despite Fukushima and Chernobyl?

        Why, nuclear, what a surprise!

        But of course greens don’t like nuclear because it’s beyond their simple comprehension of burning stuff. They eat green crap, and insist we all do the same, because they can’t be bothered to get off their backsides to hunt dangerous animals, the very source of protein that helped man evolve from veggie munching thicko’s to the worlds, and possibly the universes most advanced species.

        Yet they demand their share of the communities produce.

        Meanwhile, they invent the ridiculouse proposal that a trace atmospheric gas, vital to the plant and human existence, and currently around its lowest point ever in the planets history, is suddenly a poison.

        Please Roger. Most people on this forum have gone innumerable rounds with argument far more convincing than yours.

        Please don’t insult their intelligence by hiding behind the statement that you didn’t mention CO2. It’s what drives this whole subject.

      • Roger,

        Thanks for a very interesting article and good thoughtful replies to questions raised…this is what WUWT should be all about. Not sure if I agree with everything you have said but it is all useful food for thought.

      • For Alastair Brickel, re August 6, 2017 at 2:46 am

        “Thanks for a very interesting article and good thoughtful replies to questions raised…this is what WUWT should be all about. Not sure if I agree with everything you have said but it is all useful food for thought.”

        Thank you.

    • Your uptake figures are quoted as if they were heralding the start of a ‘wind revolution’. But they depend entirely on ever more generous taxpayer grants. if these were to drop, your ‘hockey stick’ would simply go into reverse.

      I wonder how much of the ‘hockey stick’ upward movement is as a result of the potential for the collapse in subsidies? Getting ‘in’ whilst the going’s good??? The state of many countries’ economies is now such that subsidies ‘must’ be addressed and soon.

    • Most deepwater oil platforms have a 20-30 year design life. This can be extended if economically justified.

      Hywind’s realistic operating life is probably 20-30 years, with an escalating maintenance cost.

      If they obtain 45% output and lock in $0.22/kWh, they’ll make a little money. But the NPV at a 7% discount rate would be as negative as coal with CCS or nuclear.

      • The design life of a oil platforms is not based on how long the equipment will last. Instead it is based on how long the project must stay running to produce a little more money then was spent to make it. This is to insure the investors get their money back plus interest. It is the same for wind nuclear, coal, and oil. Many of California’s wind and solar thermal project built in the 80’s have now exceeded there design life. And yet all of the solar projects from the 80’s are still one line and producing power. And to my knowledge only one of California original wind projects has been torn down and replacement turbines were installed. The main reason for the turbine replacement was fewer bird deaths and more power productions with fewer turbines.

        A 60 year design life is often sited by supporters of nuclear as a big advantage over renewables 20 to 30 year design life. However once you realize how the calculation was made the long design life for nuclear is not any advantage but a problem due to the enormous cost need the build, maintain, and operate them. If we found some magical way to eliminate these high cost the design life of nuclear would drop to 20 to 30 years. In fact many of todays reactors were designed with a 20 to 30 year design life when they were made. A sadly some didn’t even last that long.

      • The design life of a deepwater is not based on how long the project muat be kept running. That is not known at the time of sanctioning.

        The size and type of platform is based on the estimated volume of resource, the number of wells required and the water depth.

        If the design life was based on how long the project must be kept running, it would be infinite… because we do everything we can to postpone P&A costs.

        The design life is based on how long the platform can be safely operated. For deepwater platforms, this is generally 20-30 years. Which can be extended with extensive maintenance and service life extension work.

    • The first offshore wind farm was dismantled this year are operating for its 25 year design life from 1991.

      • Roger

        I believe the maximum capacity of windmills has been reached, according to a simple scientific principle I can’t member, but I’m sure someone on this blog will remind us of.

        In short, windmills have reached their maximum capacity by all but a few %.

      • Any figures available to compare fabrication, installation and maintenance costs with actual income received from their energy production?

    • For Andy May, thank you. The wind turbine generators have an expected life that varies depending on the local environment. An interesting point is the physical life is almost never achieved because economics bring the operation to a halt. I wrote on this on my blog. http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/wind-turbines-operations-and.html

      The onshore operating and maintenance costs increase year over year, until the wind turbine generator cannot operate profitably. That occurs usually around year 20 to 25. However, reductions in O&M are also occurring. That will extend the life to 30 years or more. What is also interesting is that after 25 years, an operator finds it much more attractive to tear out the old and repower with new technology. The economics for repowering are simply staggering. Therefore, the facts of wind energy suggest that stating “they only last for 20 years” is entirely beside the point, even if true. Note, I do not suggest that you have said that, but am just making the general point.

      The Statoil Hywind Scotland project states they expect to run for 20 years. Quoting the ES, page 1-4:
      . . . installation, operational and decommissioning periods of the Project, which is estimated to be 25 years. The operational phase of the project is 20 years.

      So, 25 years onsite, of which the middle 20 is for operations.

  15. Over its life, the Scottish project will receive £170m in subsidies.

    Enough said

    If projects like these can survive without subsidies and preferential access to the market place, then fine. But the fact is they cannot

    • But didn’t you see the reference to the German auction tenders this year which have come in without subsidy for offshore wind?

      New onshore wind in the UK, according to engineering firm Arup, is now cheaper than gas.

      • This is all typical nonsense and (intentionally?) misleading!
        When making comparisons between the unit power costs using different power generation systems you have to compare like with like! In this case it means comparing base load power systems which always provide power as needed. Wind Turbines will never be base load systems as their output is always governed by the capricious wind which when available gives 0-100% of its rated output!
        We are not interested in the unit power cost to the Operating Company but the resultant overall unit cost to the consumer! Where WT’s are used they need absolutely necessary ancillary works, solely because of the WT’s in-built engineering inefficiencies, inefficiencies that no amount of R&D study and investment will ever significantly reduce. As a result using WT’s involves massive additional direct costs of ancillary works expressly provided to overcome these inefficiencies. These extra costs are never mentioned by WT Suppliers and supporters:
        1. By their very nature, most WT’s are remote from areas of actual power demand. It is therefore necessary to provide extended and enhanced Power Transmission Works to connect the WT’s to consumers.
        2. Typically WT’s produce only 20-30% of their rated output of power every year due to no/low wind conditions and sometimes even too higher winds – the variation being largely the difference between off-shore and on-shore WT’s. That means 70-80% of WT’s rated output has to be provided by base load standby capacity power plants. Government studies have confirmed that only Gas Turbines can provide such a standby facility which, particularly where as now available WT outputs are given priority usage, regardless of cost, need to always be available and feathered running in anticipation of usage and capable of being flexible enough to be able to continually match varying shortfalls in WT output as dictated by the capricious wind and to meet ongoing power demands. Possible hydro-electric standby back up could possibly be used but at an even higher cost and this is not available in very many countries including the UK. As high power demands for considerable periods occur frequently during winter periods of extended low and even no wind, effectively these GT standby’s need to be of 100% WT rated capacity within any overall national Power Generation System. In other words, replacing 100 units of retired or replaced base load power system by WT’s requires not only 100 units of WT’s but also effectively 100 units of GT’s!
        3. These GT standby’s will operate very inefficiently, simply because they are required to operate with ever varying outputs well off peak efficiency. As such their unit power costs are very much higher, to the extent that GT operators demand and are paid subsidies. This is a bizarre situation, as these same GT’s could be used as base load units operating on their own, without subsidies and without WT’s which themselves are subsidised.
        4. The standby GT’s generate their own CO2 emissions, so using WT’s, to replace GT’s, as renewables to reduce CO2 emissions – even if this was necessary, would reduce CO2 emissions by only 20-30% of the GT’s previous emissions per unit power generated, and probably even less given their inefficient standby operation.
        All this is basic simple maths and engineering systems – something even our totally technologically ignorant politicians should be able to understand! Why, oh why, have we ongoing problems with this mission. Cut all subsidies, tax breaks and minimum guaranteed prices in the Power markets and re-introduce open and competitive free markets and the market itself will generate the increased efficiencies and lower power costs needed. For the UK, UK fracked gas will hopefully copy the US market and so drive down power prices to the consumer!

    • Griff

      So if the Germans tenders can be submitted without subsidy, why couldn’t the Scottish one?

      Perhaps because the German tender documents included a calculation for massive increases in electricity prices as coal, gas and nuclear are systematically priced out the market by windfarm subsidies, making for a profitable enterprise once they are gone and energy prices hit an all time high in 23 years time when the whole of Europe is running off electricity, including cars and central heating systems.

      Your comprehension of the tender process is, as with most of your comprehension, woefully inadequate.

      Must try harder.

      • Einstein would never have considered trying to explain his theories to the village idiots in his town, so why should you still attempt dialogue with people such as this?

    • It is an excellent article but the really salient comment is that of Mr. Homewood. Worth repeating:

      If projects like these can survive without subsidies and preferential access to the market place, then fine. But the fact is they cannot

  16. The relative economics of wind largely depend on mandated purchase rules giving priority to wind. Wind currently, and for the foreseeable future, requires “conventional” backup, and the cost of that backup is not allocated to the cost of using wind. The costs of that backup are dumped onto the “conventional” electricity suppliers, making them comparatively less “economic”.
    Failure by regulators to price suppliers on just how dispatchable their product is amounts to much of the “subsidy” to wind, using “subsidy” loosely to include policy effectively changing the pricing of one product over another.

  17. An interesting piece, but I don’t understand the comment on the economics of the project: “The unsubsidized economics for the small, 30 MW Hywind Scotland system gives a sales price of electricity at $215 per MWh sold for a 12 year simple project payout.” Well the wholesale price of electricity is currently £42 ($55) per MWh so the Hywind price implies an uplift of nearly 400%. Most renewable and nuclear projects are currently subsidised (via ‘strike prices’ by around 100% which is already having newsworthy consequences for consumer electricity prices, as strike prices are meant to be funded by the ‘green levy’ imposed upon power companies. Even if not funded by the green levy, they would need to be funded via general taxation.

    • Yes…this will be the eventual solution to the world needing more, cheap electricity, but there are still engineering problems that are significant. From what I understand, the Chinese seem to be in the best position to solve the issues.

      Will we have viable thorium reactors in the next 10-20 years? If we do, it completely changes the playing field for all electricity suppliers, and not in their favor. Wind, solar, coal and traditional nuclear will fade away, but the idiotic practice of converting food to fuel will hopefully stop immediately.

      The biggest issue with thorium may be the resistance of the current energy suppliers, from big oil all the way down to your local farmer. The propaganda and lobbying against thorium may be extremely intense for a while.

  18. Wind power requires ~100% conventional backup due to intermittency and lack of practical grid-scale storage.

    I do not believe grid-connected wind power is practical or economic at this time, because of intermittency, lack of economic storage and other problems.

    Forcing expensive, intermittent, non-dispatchable wind power into the grid ahead of cheaper, more reliable and dispatchable conventional power appears to be nonsensical.

    I would be pleased if someone could prove that I am wrong – but I require credible evidence, not the usual arm-waving.

    Regards, Allan

  19. Let wind prove itself in a market free from renewable mandates and other ham fisted government interventions.

    If wind is competitive, it will not need any help to dominate the market.

    But I strongly suspect the only thing keeping the wind turbines operating is BS, policy favouritism and taxpayer subsidies.

  20. Wind supporters and bird poachers always cite bird kills by cats as justification for bird kills. Cats don’t kill eagles wind turbines do.
    Wind farms have overtaken all other causes for mass mortality events for bats since 2000. Bats are the primary natural defense against mosquitoes as diseases like Zika, West Nile Virus etc. spread across the US and Europe.
    Wind farms are a subsidy driven environmental disaster.

      • I agree – all birds matter – outdoor cats and feral cats are a separate problem. Support for my claim about wind farms have overtaken all other causes for mass mortality events is from a Mammal Review paper in Jan. 2016″Multiple Mortality Events in Bats – A Global review”, O’Shea, Cryan, et al.

      • If the cats didn’t get them something else would.

        Two points:

        1/. I t needs around a 90% mortality of birds before breeding age to keep the populations stable.

        2/. A cat with a dead bird in its mouth doesn’t mean it killed it.

      • Leo does that apply to raptors? So a bird dies in a settling pound all hell breaks out. Let a bird especially a raptor gets sliced and diced well nothing to see here but it may feed a fox. A positive in world.

      • Griff sounds like a PR guy for big wind companies.

        After working for years trying to get wind farms to reduce cut in speeds (to reduce mortality of birds and bats) and then watching as nothing changed.

        He said this:

        “Distortions of truth are rampant. For example, in 2015 AWEA announced a voluntary plan to raise turbine cut-in speads in a manner that was made to sound like it would solve the problem of bats, which primarly occur on low-wind nights. But the moment I saw the word “voluntary” I knew that the largest companies would ignore it.

    • you may have missed an important element hidden in the article re bird deaths:

      “In addition, bird fatalities decline as older, truss-style support towers are demolished and modern, monopole support towers are installed.”

      The high bird fatalities in the US are only in a very small number of old multiple small turbine on trestle tower 1980s designs -principly the extraordinarily badly site Altamont Pass.

      The bird deaths from this well studied site are extrapolated to all US wind turbines, when newer, better sited, non trestle designs have very low bird mortality indeed.

      Additionally it may not be obvious from sections of the Statoil farm quoted that in UK waters detailed surveys have to be made to ensure siting does not harm birds…

      • Currently the Aliment wind farm is being reworked. Older turbines are being replaced with new once with monopoles. The wind farm exceeded its design life. In addition to killing fewer bird the new turbines will produce more power, need less maintenance and fewer wind turbines will be needed.

      • Griff,

        please stop presenting your ignorance for all to see.

        Bird deaths from offshore windfarms can’t be established because the carcasses either float away or sink.

        And birds are well acquainted with static trusses, multiple or otherwise, it’s the moving turbine blades they have a problem with.

        However, personally, I think it’s a non problem and not worth discussing. The real problem is that wind power is presented as the solution to the non problem of CO2 killing humans, not birds.

        Tweetie Pie will be around long after humans have gone, they survived the dinosaurs, in fact, I believe they are dinosaurs.

      • Griff what you miss is that killing birds is bad, killing bats is worse from a disease prevention viewpoint.

        Bats are the primary natural defense that keeps mosquito populations in check.

        Have you heard about Zika , West Nile Virus etc.

        Larger more powerful wind turbines are not safer for birds and kill greater numbers of bats and birds,about 2 bats for each bird murder. The latest wind turbine blade tip speed is faster than a table saw blade tip at 180 mph.

        Greenies have created a frankenstein monster that’s destroying wildlife.

        Really sick!

      • New Obama Admin. Death Panel – for Eagles

        The Fish and Wildlife concluded that the population of roughly 40,000 golden eagles in the United States could withstand the loss of about 2,000 birds annually. Bald eagles, estimated at more than 140,000, could sustain as many as 4,200 fatalities a year without endangering the species, it found.

        They gave wind farms a 30 year waiver for killing eagles – unbelievable!

      • hot scot

        There has been a detailed study using both observers and lidar of 2 offshore wind farms in Denmark…
        Here are the results:
        http://www.folkecenter.net/mediafiles/folkecenter/pdf/final_results_of_bird_studies_at_the_offshore_wind_farms_at_nysted_and_horns_rev_denmark.pdf

        In addition, before a UK/EU wind farm goes up offshore, there have to be detailed year long surveys of the bird life: several wind farms refused or modified due to potential bird impact (to pass, you need to have low/no impact)

        The pylon type wind turbines caused casualties because birds perched on them… shown by studies in California and Spain.

        tom
        wind is more of a potential problem in the Us because of the nature of its migratory bat population – nevertheless, mitigation strategies are already in place.

  21. Read the whole thing and picked off the following:

    There are approximately 1.2 jobs per MW of installed capacity, with 84,000 MW and 100,000 jobs. That’s approximately the same ratio as in nuclear power plants, with 1 job per MW.

    The fewer jobs it provides translates into less expensive power. Can you say spin? Besides, what’s the comparison to natural gas and coal, not just nuclear?

    Wind energy generated at night during low demand periods can be stored then released when demand and prices are higher.

    Easier said than done.

    When it becomes patriotic to drive an EV rather than a gas guzzler, EV sales will zoom. A gas guzzler will be seen as an OPEC enabler.

    I’ll drive one when it makes sense, not because I want to wave a flag.
    I would love to have a small two door electric hatch back to zip around in.

    Power from wind is power without pollution. Wind power has no damaging health impacts from smoke, particulates, or noxious sulfur or nitrogen oxides. The American Lung Association encourages clean, pollution-free wind power.

    Yes, wind is free but giant wind mills are not.

    Another form is the MIT submerged storage spheres.

    No link to whatever those are.

    Other than that, it was a well written sales pitch.

    • MIT submerged storage = giant underwater gas tanks, using sea water to provide pressure and a thermal reservoir.

      Not easy to build. Not easy to maintain. Pitiful energy density. Likely problems with ice buildup when drawing down the reservoir.

      • Fill ’em with gas and they would float or at least lose much of their anchoring mass. That’s so simple that I would think the egg heads who came up with the idea considered that, but you never know.

      • We are told at the link for the Storage Spheres:

        The spheres with their 3-meter thick concrete walls would weigh thousands of tons each, which would also make them suitable to anchor the wind turbines in place.

        Filled with compressed gas they would have only 15% of the weight of the concrete for anchoring due to buoyancy.

  22. It’s hard to believe that this poster seems to consider himself someone who’s knowledgeable about energy, present and future, considering his ignorant, misleading statements about nuclear power. As an aside, he seems to consider hydroelectric a “non-renewable” for some reason. “Renewability” is an almost meaningless characteristic to use in selecting energy sources. If the article wants low carbon emission sources, then it should say so, and not equate renewable with low (or no) carbon. Renewables certainly are nowhere near being no-carbon. Agreed that one might argue that renewable energy (wind,solar,hydro) will be around always, but that doesn’t have any particular significance when selecting an energy producer when their fuel will outlast the lifespan of the extraction apparatus. We select on the basis of emissions (harmful emissions, not CO2) and especially , economics. Actually, solar and wind generators have particularly short lifespans compared to the typical 60 plus years for a nuclear plant, for example. Back to nuclear. The article makes the claim that nuclear plants are receiving govt subsidies and have been losing money the past several years. As a general statement that is pure fiction. SOME nuclear plants have been losing money, always because the utilities have been forced to accept solar and wind into the grid whenever available (toxifying, potentially destabilizing the grid in the process). This means that the grid does not buy all of the power a baseload nuclear plant produces. These plants were designed and have always been operated as baseload plants – their typical operating capacities are over 90% overall and often at or above 100% during time spans when they are not shut down for refueling (during low-demand periods) So not buying their ooutput does not lower their operating costs, it only redcues their income, hence the losses.
    Our state’s nuclear plants for the most recent quarter, produced power cheaper than our coal and gas fired plants. Not only does the unasked-for acceptance of wind/solar power into the grid result in losses for nuclear plants, but it also increases the costs of the power they produce, sicne they are not operating at their normal capacity , caapcity having an enormous effect on output costs, especaily for nuclear.
    So THAT is the reason some nuclear plants (those on a grid that accepts large amounts of wind/solar) lose money. And the reason govts (NY state, for one) had to subsidize these nuclear plants is not from the goodness of their heart, but because the nuclear plant owners threatened to shut them down and force the grid to rely heavilly on wind/solar – Yikes !!! Notice that it was wind and solar power and stupid rules that force the grid to accept any and all solar/wind power and reject nuclear power that caused all these all of these problems. And the higher costs this all creates is yet another delightful side effect on allowing unreliable power onto the grid – in this case mainly wind and solar. While I believe that the LWR (Light Water Reactor) nuclear technology is about to be replaced by molten salt uranium/Thorium reactors for a whole host of reasons (speed of factory built construction, minor site preparation,safety,energy extraction from fuel, ability to load-follow, and ESPECIALLY low cost – levelized cost of less than 4 cents per kWhr, build costs less than $2 per watt), that DOES NOT mean that traditional LWR reactors are out of the picture. While the article is more or less in line with reality as to this country’s nuclear plants, that situation is quite different elsewhere on our planet. China and India and Russia and Korea are building LWR plants both for themselves and others. As I recall, currently over 70 plants are under construction, only a few plagued by the cost overruns that have killed our Westinghouse AP1000 reactors (due ,not to the nuclear company, but to this country’s inability to fabricate and weld steel, a century old-technology that has been lost by our non-manufacturing country). China and Russia can guarantee (and finance) reactors as low as $4 to $5 billion per 1 1/2 gigawatt and are contracted to build thoughout the Middle East. I would guess that plans are for well over 200 reactors, although I fully expect the majority of those contracts will disappear with the appearance of a commercialized molten salt reactor.
    Both China and India, and half a dozen private companies are developing various versions of molten salt reactors. Our Dept of Energy recently provided lab assistance and outright grants to two of these companies. Amongst the experts, discussions of future energy technologies does not include wind/solar or hydro, all of which embody 18th century technology. It is all about molten salt technology, which might commercialize as early as 2020 (Moltex Energy). I have to smile at the recent enthusiasm for batteries by the wind/solar folks, who foolishly believe that this will make their non-dispatchable power dispatchable. Someone please inform these folks that batteries only store (finite amounts) of energy – they cannot produce energy, nor recharge themselves. They also aren’t cheap and don’t last very long,as power generation equipment goes. Economics alone will result in molten salt reactor dominance in the energy arena. The same is true of electric cars – they will dominate and it has nothing to do with emissions.
    This isn’t rocket science, you know.

  23. In the end, the most efficient sources of energy will win.
    No amount of subsidies, guilt or other backwards thinking will change that fact.
    Attempts to harness the fickle flow of the wind, pale in comparison to the energy released by splitting the atom.
    Why are we even still discussing this ?

  24. Roger,
    Do you concede that the estimated construction cost of new nuclear has been artificially inflated by bureaucratic regulatory imposts?
    Would you reach a different conclusion to your essay if you modelled new nuclear on actual, present Chinese construction costs? The issue is not academic, since it is plausible that the Trump government has been making noises consistent with such a scenario.
    Geoff

    • Well, hello, Geoff Sherrington! Hopefully, today we can exchange views without the rancor.

      “Do you concede that the estimated construction cost of new nuclear has been artificially inflated by bureaucratic regulatory imposts?”

      No. After decades of study and actual experience, the facts are that regulatory requirements for nuclear power plants, as currently licensed, built, and operated, are not excessive. A few things should be noted on this. First, I highly recommend all the nuclear proponents to read the study on nuclear construction costs by Craig Severance from 2009. And, my article TANP – part six http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-six.html

      The Severance article is referenced here: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-three.html

      “Would you reach a different conclusion to your essay if you modelled new nuclear on actual, present Chinese construction costs? The issue is not academic, since it is plausible that the Trump government has been making noises consistent with such a scenario.”

      It must be noted that Chinese costs for building new nuclear power plants are lower than in EU, UK, and the US. The reasons for that are the lower labor rates in China, and the lower material costs in China. And, it may be that the Chinese’ total control of government information does not disclose the true costs of anything over there. Finally, my Chinese-American engineering associates, and I, all shudder when we are reminded that China is building new nuclear plants. We can only hope that their nuclear plants use appropriate materials, construction techniques, and competent, impartial inspectors with authority to reject substandard work. Based on some of the recent disasters in other areas of their infrastructure, the world should be holding its collective breath over the Chinese nuclear plants. The fact is, everybody may need a full face mask to filter out the radioactive particles, and very soon.

      It would be be illegal for President Trump to bring Chinese laborers to the US, pay them Chinese wages, and import Chinese-built parts to make nuclear plants in the US. The best the US can find, Westinghouse and their subcontractors, just botched 4 reactors under construction in South Carolina and Georgia.

      Even if Trump did authorize Chinese-designed nuclear plants (and the NRC must take years to give approval), the workers would be paid according to US labor laws. But, it would be fun to watch. A Chinese construction force working in Georgia.

      The point of this essay is, we simply do not have any time left to build nuclear. Not of any type. In 10 years, 50,000 MW of nuclear power will be off the grid. In 20 years, 100,000 MW are gone. We would need to license, get financed, and start construction on 100 nuclear power plants within the next 5 years to change that. Not even the Chinese have such an ambitious nuclear building program. More importantly, we would need to finish building 100 plants within 20 years.

      • Roger

        “The fact is, everybody may need a full face mask to filter out the radioactive particles, and very soon.”

        Oh dear God, the next green supported scare story.

      • Griff

        The Guardian? Seriously?

        Both you and I know they are at the top of the list for Politburo propaganda of the SSUK.

        Even you visit the right wing WUWT party to have some sense knocked into you.

      • Hey, Griff! re August 5, 2017 at 10:10 am

        Keep up the good work. You know you are winning, when the other side resorts to slings and arrows.

        I don’t usually respond, but would like you to know that I agree with just about everything I have read that you wrote.

        All the best,

        Roger

      • Roger
        The lower labour costs are aided in China because there are fewer people involved at levels like law, approval, lawyering, regulatory enforcement, legal matters, regulatory compliance, illegal objection, legality, insurance, forward provisions for spent fuel management, legal compliance with international conventions, forward provision for hypothetical damage and the like. This is part of my earlier cost assertion, that China does it better.
        On the occasions when I did business in China, I quickly formed an impression that the overall intelligence at the levels I worked, was higher there than in western countries. I guess it is a mild proof that they in China have conducted an economic revolution, including an energy revolution, far more efficiently than elsewhere. Thus, China has a vibrant nuclear industry while the USA struggles, France is about to suicide, UK is constipated and my home Australia remains virginal.
        Seen in this context, where energy policy is a measure of National success, now do you understand my earlier questions better?
        The Chinese are on track for 100 plants in 20 years. Is this what concerns you?
        Geoff
        PS. Face masks for filtering radioactivity? Aphysical for much that matters. Radioactivity safety is built on distance separation.

      • hotscot

        The guardian reports that stuff, while the Mail or the Sun or Fox news doesn’t. Which is why so often it gets cited.

        The fact that’s where the report is does not mean it is any less reliable.

        And you can find similar reports elsewhere, if you bothered to look instead of the tired old ‘its the Guardian/BBC/etc’ response.

      • For Geoff Sherrington, re August 6, 2017 at 5:43 am

        “PS. Face masks for filtering radioactivity? Aphysical for much that matters. Radioactivity safety is built on distance separation.”

        Are they? Then, do you conclude the NRC’s 166 page “Manual of Respiratory Protection against Airborne Radioactive Material” was just a waste of time and paper and ink?

        https://www.orau.org/documents/ivhp/health-physics/nureg0041.PDF

        The NRC seems to have great concern about radiation exposure due to humans inhaling airborne particles of “radioactive material.”

        Are they concerned about a phantom, a non-issue?

  25. It would be simpler, cheaper and better for the environment to build gas fired power stations and forget all about wind and solar. They are just unnecessary redundant generators.

  26. One beef I have about solar and wind cost calculations is that the cost for back up power is ignored. I have heard estimates that this nearly doubles the cost of renewables.
    Natural gas turbines seem to be the best solution for back up power. Hopefully a good storage solution will come along.

    • Well, rather than looking at backup, look at how the UK manages its grid around renewables.

      Remember in the UK the available wind power (and solar) is reliably calculated 24 hours in advance… this allows planned spin up or down of gas plant, plus deployment of pumped storage and hydro and in the near future grid storage. The need for spinning reserve and extra load on the gas plant is minimised.

      Wind is not the only available power -there’s also 10GW of installed UK solar power (and rising) plus interconnectors to France, Netherlands and (building) Norway, Germany and additional link to France.

      The UK already has the gas plant – much of which is idle outside 4 winter months – and which is paid for under the ‘contract for difference’ system.

      • The STOR programme was originally intended for grid outages… when a cable goes or a power station shuts down – and much of the diesel is still dedicated to that, not to demand surge or frequency response. It has extremely limited operating hours…

        anyway, grid storage does a better, quicker job on demand/frequency response and the diesel will, I predict, rapidly become history.

      • Griff

        stop being a pillock.

        A couple of weeks ago I was told by the BBC at 9am on a Sunday morning that the second British Superbike race at Brands Hatch less than 7 hours later would be a washout, thunderstorms etc.

        It was dry as a bone.

        The Met office employed a multi million pound computer to manufacture that forecast. My wife went out our back door at 8am and told me to take sun block.

        “Remember in the UK the available wind power (and solar) is reliably calculated 24 hours in advance… ”

        Hah!

        “there’s also 10GW of installed UK solar power (and rising)”

        Which barely works north of the Watford Gap, and is attracting the attention of regulators for miss selling, already!

        “plus interconnectors to France, Netherlands and (building) Norway, Germany and additional link to France.”

        So much for British energy security.

        “The UK already has the gas plant – much of which is idle outside 4 winter months – and which is paid for under the ‘contract for difference’ system.”

        Good example. Gas plants, designed to run 24/7/365 at 85% capacity forced to lie idle to accommodate windfarms. And the ‘contract for difference’? yet another taxpayer funded means of supporting an idle gas power station to make windfarms seem a viable solution.

      • Birds , not bits.

        Although if the green fanatics are to be consistent ” all birds life’s matter”.

      • Griff,
        Are the interconnectors you reference supplied only by wind and solar? If not, is your motto, renewables for me but not for thee? How are you going to insure that these countries don’t max out their renewables also and won’t be available to “backup” your renewables?

  27. Wind power is a great jobs creator.

    For some reason you seem to present that as a positive.

  28. There’s an ongoing assumption of virtually limitless fracked natural gas… this is a dubious assumption.
    https://www.nature.com/news/natural-gas-the-fracking-fallacy-1.16430

    Coal- nuclear seems the best net. But there has to be economies of scale. Building an artisan nuclear power plant will, naturally, be enormously expensive. There has to be a guaranteed demand stream for prices to fall. Spent rods need to be recycled.

    There are also new designs for fusion energy that are extremely cheap. Some effort has to be made in this direction.

    lppfusion.com

    • Only the big island has geothermal energy . The volcanos on the other island have been extinct for a very long time. They are no longer over the volcanic hot spot that supplies geothermal every to the big island. It is possible to export some via submerged cables to the other islands but at a cost and with some limitations.. And it is an open question as to how much Geothermal energy can be extracted on the big island.

    • The wind is extremely stable and fairly strong in Hawaii. Of all 50 states, Hawaii has the best annual capacity factor. That, high capacity factor, is a crucial variable in making wind power economic. The state has a 100 percent renewable energy plan with the various elements described. They give themselves a bit more than 20 years to do this, with 100 percent renewables by 2040.

  29. Hello Roger.

    To be fair I have to say that I did not go through all of your article.
    So in the case of any wrong understanding or a guff of mine in this comment please do accept my beforehand apology, and please do not mind and do tolerate any grammar or linguistic errors.

    Said all this, I must point out that your position and stand as per your blog post seems to me to be biased, significantly enough, which could get the whole argument to enough imbalance over time where the highlighted and proposed solution to the highlighted problem will end up and rendered as a “no solution”, with no much chance to be accepted as a possibly of solving the problem.
    And from this approached prospect ending up rejected instead of it being accepted as possibly realistic.

    It is obvious that your position favors wind turbines as a significant part of a solution to such a problem.
    Simply favoring or being in favor of something, whatever that be, is not a problem or wrong, or unacceptable, or biased. And simply looking only from that angle does not help much with a detection of any possible biases or significant problems.
    In a way favoring leads to biases, and the degree of favoring and the feverishness about it dictates to how much biased is a position towards a given condition….

    In a perfect world the biases suppose to be perfectly small and with no any consequences or side effect.
    But far we are still from that perfect world…….which actually makes our real one even more beautiful, so to speak…. :)

    And I know trying to evaluate the degree of favoring and favoritism seems to be complicated and may end up to be very complicated and messy, very much so indeed……….but I still use this simple mechanism to “analyze’ through it, with as less possible mess and complexity….

    You see, too me, favoritism and discrimination are Yin and Yang of each other, for not saying the same thing……

    So if I identify a position of favor towards the solution, I just have to check for any possibility of any discrimination in or towards the problem as per the way of it’s description…..

    And in the case of this blog post I find a discriminatory position in the highlighting of the problem,
    a significant
    enough one that may point to unacceptable biased position, when considering such as proposed solution, as in your case.

    Saying that coal is no “King” any longer, does not necessary mean that coal is dead……..and still it is more efficient, far much more stable, and much more realistic as a part of a solution for the energy problem than wind turbines….under any circumstances.
    So getting to a discriminatory position towards coal as to favor wind turbines, may render your proposed solution as too biased to be accepted, from the outset, without any further down the road real technical and economical aspects.

    And sparing both of us the pain of a hypothetical argument over this, I will point to a real life social “experiment” that has some results already out there.
    It is called Germany, which was pressed to solve such or a similar problem, for not saying far more serious.
    Germany did not rely on a solution of building or constructing more wind turbines as a means to fill the gap created by the Nuclear energy termination………the last time I checked…..so to speak…

    Am not quite sure what actually is built or constructed to fill that gap, but definitely, as far as I know and can tell, is not in the terms of wind mills and wind power……. :)
    Hope some one can help here with this…:)

    Now all this said, I honestly recognize the value of any point and any position taken in any given aspect.
    Only trying to forward my point of “criticism” about this blog post, if I may call it that.

    Still my general position about it is in favor of it being a good and informative blog post, honestly……..
    Thanks.

    cheers

    • The Germans contributed mightily to the continuance of the 120 years of CO2 greening and agricultural bounty that now feeds us with their bounty of lignite-burners! Danke schön.

  30. The reason nuclear power is so expensive is because we don’t haven’t built plants for 40 years. If we built plants at the rate to replace current nuclear plants and replace coal plants, the costs would fall dramatically. It is the only current feasible method of producing enough reasonably priced electricity that is CO2 free.
    if we had continued to built nuclear plants we wouldn’t be facing any of these problems and the technology would be light years from where it is today.

  31. All this predicated on the claim that co2 emissions cause warming but why do we never see published, the clear definitive scientific evidence of this.

    • I give Roger credit for not making CO2 emissions an important factor in his discussion. It was mostly argued from the standpoint of the competitive cost of the various energy sources and the impending reduction in nuclear and coal generated electricity. Even when he was taking about pollution from burning coal and oil, he left CO2 out of it. That was wise.

      It is true that increasing wind power is driven by a fear of CO2, but Mr. Sowell tried to argue in favor of wind without that bogeyman, which I found refreshing and commendable. Still, I remain unconvinced that wind can compete with other sources on a level playing field. I just wish we had level playing fields (no government machinations) to help make that determination.

      • jclarke341

        Oh come on!

        Roger comes onto WUWT, a forum predicated on the myth that CO2 causes global warming, and simply because he doesn’t mention CO2 in his submission means he’s not including it in his rational?

        The concept is ridiculous as the rational for windmills themselves is based on the mistaken assumption that CO2 causes global warming.

      • For HotScot,

        Re “Roger comes onto WUWT, a forum predicated on the myth that CO2 causes global warming, and simply because he doesn’t mention CO2 in his submission means he’s not including it in his rational?”

        You may want to go back and re-read the brief bio sketch at the end of the article. Play close attention to this bit: He is a founding member of Chemical Engineers for Climate Realism, a “red-team” style think-tank for experienced chemical engineers in Southern California. and this final bit: Recently (2016), he was requested to defend climate-change skeptics against an action under the United States RICO statutes.

        Then, to see my stance on global warming, try reading through this article: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/from-man-made-global-warmist-to-skeptic.html

        I have had roughly a dozen or so guest posts on WUWT over the years. You might go through the archives and read some of those, too.

        Legally speaking, “CO2 is Innocent.” – Roger Sowell

  32. From the article: “Now, coal burning power plants are closing in record numbers because the owners cannot afford to install the expensive pollution control equipment. (Reference: MIT paper, 2016, MITEI-WP-2016-01”

    Part of the question is whether the regulations on coal are justified. Mercury or particulates, maybe. CO2 not likely. Even if the standards are justified, retrofitting an old plant for its remaining life is something very different economically than building new: one would not add equipment with an expected life of 30 years to a plant with a remaining expected life of 10 or 15.

    If a new plant is faced with additional, unjustified CO2 standards as well as the others, it could very well be priced out of the market by the addition of very expensive technology of little value.

    • For Chris4692,

      Well -said. I agree entirely. Toxic emissions should be scrubbed and removed. CO2 is not in any way a pollutant, not at those concentrations. It can be lethal in higher doses, of course.

      Not many people understand the concept of “retrofitting an old plant for its remaining life is something very different economically than building new: one would not add equipment with an expected life of 30 years to a plant with a remaining expected life of 10 or 15.”

      One cannot justify the expense, typically, and it becomes a matter of throwing away good money.

  33. If you prefer renewable then go off grid. Install your own system at your own expense and leave the rest of us poor fools to live our lives unencumbered by your expensive and out moded fantasies.

  34. Even though it has subsidies, the project’s unsubsidized economics would make it attractive against peaker power plants.

    You are not comparing like with like.

    The whole point of peaker plants is that they can be quickly brought on line at times of high demand.

    Wind farms cannot do that.

    With economy of scale and 60 percent reduction in installed cost for a larger 600 MW park, and 12 year simple project payout, no subsidies, the electricity could be sold at $89 per MWh.

    Pure guesswork. If Statoil are so confident of this , they would be buidling Hywind without subsidy, in effect writing off the cost as R&D work. Other companies do that sort of thing all the time, eg drug companies

    At that price point, offshore wind becomes competitive with baseload natural gas power with LNG at $10 per MMBtu as the fuel used

    Again , you are not comparing like with like. Regardless of the “cost”, wind power is intrinsically worth less than baseload power

    • No, but the UK has pumped storage and (incresingly) grid storage batteries to replace peaker plant.

      • Presently the UK has just 1 pump storage facility (Dinorwig in Wales) with an installed capacity of 1,650 GW and cost just short of £1/2 billion. It was built in 1974 to 84, and it would cost far more than that today, if it had to be built today. Another 50MW facility is presently under construction at a cost of about £120 million (assuming no over runs) and will open in 2018.

        Rather expensive and unnecessary if the UK had kept to just coal and gas. Simply there are few sites that have the topography to make pump storage feasible. and the costs are prohibitive.

        Likewise batteries. These are not needed if the UK kept to fossil fuel generation and are another expense that is being incurred purely because of the pursuit of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar. Grid sized batteries are hugely expensive and provide very little amount of storage.

        If I remember correctly the grid battery being installed in Southern Australia is about US$1/2 billion and can supply full demand (ie., if the grid goes completely down as it did earlier this year) for just 4 minutes! More detail can be found on Jo Nova’s site where this has been discussed.

        ,b>For every 10 GW of wind, it on average only delivers some 2.3 GW of energy, and because of its intermittent and non despatchable nature requires a mixture of 10 GW of back up energy, by way of gas and/or coal generation and/or pumped storage and/or batteries, plus diesel STOR for balancing the grid.

        One has to create twice the infrastructure at huge additional expense, and in view of all the back up there is little if any saving in CO2 emissions. One might like to envisage just how much CO2 was emitted in the construction of Dinorwig..

      • climate here is a new small plant

        https://www.theengineer.co.uk/first-new-uk-pumped-hydro-scheme-for-30-years-given-go-ahead/

        and this is still progressing (see panel at bottom for increased size proposed)
        http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/CoireGlas/

        Here’s a report on the grid storage ‘pipeline’ in the UK
        https://www.cleanenergynews.co.uk/blogs/storage/the-uks-fast-moving-grid-scale-storage-pipeline

        This covers how National Grid is thinking about storage:
        http://nationalgridconnecting.com/thinking-positively-battery-storage/

    • And to compare like with like costs the only true way to establish that would be to only permit generators to ever tender electrons to the communal grid they can reasonably guarantee (ie short of unforeseen mechanical breakdown) 24/7 all year round. That would stop the unreliables engaging in what is now a pure form of dumping and relying on thermals to be their insurers without paying them their just insurance premiums. With a legislated level playing field the unreliables would either have to incur the storage costs to lift their average tender rates, or partner with thermals and pay them their required insurance premiums (actually the cost of lowering their average tender amounts). That would be a complete cost game changer as you can readily see here-
      http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/june

    • For Paul Homewood,

      “You are not comparing like with like.

      The whole point of peaker plants is that they can be quickly brought on line at times of high demand.

      Wind farms cannot do that.”

      This misses the point entirely. With wind power online, peaker plants do not have to run as much, and many times not at all. We see this over and over again here in California. Using yesterday (4 August, 2017) as a convenient example, the grid demand peaked at 1800 hours Wind power here was increasing steadily, and producing 3400 to 4000 MW between 1700 and 1900 hours. That represented 3400 to 4000 MW of incremental power, that would have been provide by the most inefficient or perhaps even peaker power plants ten years ago. And, with the wind farms being paid a flat fee, the utility pays them perhaps 12 cents per kWh, and avoids running a peaker plant at multiples of that.

      “Pure guesswork. If Statoil are so confident of this , they would be buidling Hywind without subsidy, in effect writing off the cost as R&D work. Other companies do that sort of thing all the time, eg drug companies”

      No. Statoil are no fools. The government has the subsidy program in place for their own reasons, and the 30 MW was deliberately chosen because the government limits the projects to that capacity. Statoil accepts the money because the government is offering it.

      “Again , you are not comparing like with like. Regardless of the “cost”, wind power is intrinsically worth less than baseload power.”

      That brings up a very complicated issue. Grid operators, and utilities in many areas, devote considerable time and money into computer software that tries to model and optimize their grid – generators, transmission, and loads, all over various times of the day. Part of that exercise is to determine what each generating increment is worth. It is well-known that baseload power is “worth” the least, typically commanding 4 or 5 cents per kWh. It is also true that peaking power is “worth” the most, sometimes 80 or 90 cents per kWh. One point of view is, what are my alternative means to provide power at that moment? If the only way to provide that last bit of power to avoid a blackout in a high-demand period is to fire up a simple-cycle gas turbine, then that is what the grid operator does. Wind turbine generators allow the grid operator to keep the peaker plant shut down.

      There is a reason that wind power in the US is sold for 4.3 cents per kWh delivered, in the Great Plains states. The utilities use that power to avoid running costly peaker plants. The wind turbine owners use that money to make a small but reasonable profit on their investment. Less natural gas is used overall, and the utility pays less than otherwise for natural gas. Everyone wins.

      • Now add in the 2.3c WPTC and you begin to get the real cost of wind (still missing the intermittency subsidies due to the low CF). And my utility rates certainly haven’t benefited from added wind even aside from the option to may extra for a dedicated wind buy.

      • You left out tie lines to other states to rely on their thermal and what some consider non renewable hydro.

      • Roger Sowell

        “We see this over and over again here in California.”

        And so the West US bias continues. Most of Northern Europe, indeed much of Europe, and in fact probably the rest of the world doesn’t have your wonderful climatic conditions favourable to skateboarding, bikini clad bimbo’s and well tanned, six pack hunks walking on the beach waiting for a beautiful sunset with a gentle breeze and lots of sunshine most of the year.

        We have winters in the UK when darkness descends at 4pm and the lights don’t go back on until 9am. And when the lights do go on in winter, it is invariably overcast, if not snowing or raining.

        Our summers are an event to be enjoyed between July and August, in between summer thunderstorms. Our times of glorious sunbathing sunlight are counted in hours, not months! Our wind frequently varies between nothing, and 80mph gales, with periods in between of, well, nothing.

        And what you need to appreciate is that an average of anything need not ever be actually achieved. We could swing between nothing and 80mph gales on any given day, over any given year, giving an average of an acceptable wind speed. The reality is that turbines never turn because the wind is either to low or too high.

        ‘Average’ is politico speak for ‘what I want things to be in my world’.

        Clearly, you just don’t get that the rest of the world is not the California idyll.

      • To HotScot
        Proper reply.
        Not that I don’t like what Roger Sowell prepared.
        Nice to have a civil discussion.

      • For HotScot,

        Why the bitter comment? I’ve lived in lots of places, some quite harsh. Central Poland in the dead of winter is just one of the places. And worked for many months over several years in much of the rest of Europe, from Spain to England. I know what the weather is like over there. I add comments about California, as appropriate, to illustrate that even in this wacky place, renewable intermittent power supplies work quite well. But, as I have said already elsewhere on this piece, each country and state must deal with what nature has given to them.

        We don’t have much wind at all out here. We do have lots of sunshine, though. So, we build solar panels and not many wind turbines. It works for us. It would be idiotic for Scotland or England to install massive solar panels. But, the local oceans apparently have some very steady winds at good speed to drive wind turbines.

        The Statoil guys appear to be showing the Brits how to build a robust wind farm offshore. I’ll be following the Hywind Scotland project with great interest over the next few years. Cheering on the Norwegians, as it were.

      • No. Statoil are no fools. The government has the subsidy program in place for their own reasons, and the 30 MW was deliberately chosen because the government limits the projects to that capacity. Statoil accepts the money because the government is offering it.

        What clearer statement can there be that these are just subsidy farms.

  35. Well Roger your individual arguments stack up on their own but there’s one big macro problem with the lot of them all adding up to this-
    https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=xQpKB3jM&id=CD923C2063577A72223E62E1867606957CFAE066&thid=OIP.xQpKB3jM8DBGssSp7WprvAEsDG&q=map+of+australia+over+usa&simid=607997775390967391&selectedIndex=1&ajaxhist=0
    and here’s you brave new world in a nutshell-
    http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/august
    and in June there was notable low wind right across Australia, albeit most wind farms are concentrated in my State of South Australia and you can uncheck various States and compare the outputs-
    http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/june
    Here’s a more normal July which helps give the wind turbine industry their typical 30% of installed capacity over a year-
    http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2017/july

    Now ask yourself what sort of storage would you need to simply guarantee that average 30% of installed capacity annually? Like your country we’ve already plucked the low hanging fruit of hydro dams and I’d remind you mankind’s history of storing energy is pitiful apart from in the form of pumping water uphill or in the form of calories. That largely leaves electrochemical storage and I’d remind you our cars still sport essentially the same lead acid battery Henry was plonking in the Model T. Good luck affording portable electronics or cordless power tools with your lithium battery based electrical world on such a massive scale you envisage.

  36. The only “improvements” in wind power economics are in their increasingly inflated capacity claims that are never realized in actual power production. Wind turbines continue to lose money even in their most favorable sitings, unless they are given subsidies or set-asides. In addition, they are a blight on the landscape, destroy acres of wildlife habitat, kill millions of birds and bats each year, cause health problems for people and animals that live nearby, and their open pit mining operations for lithium and rare-earth metals poison millions of gallons of ground water. There is nothing economic nor environmental about wind power.

  37. Unless I missed it, I fail to see a comprehensive analysis of a routine maintenance budget along with an emergency plan for weather related destruction of these structures. Also not addressed is a security plan to protect against some nefarious leader of an evil empire who will certainly have a military plan in place to create havoc with these off shore projects.

    • If we install enough of these gizmos, there will be no more CO2, and soon, no weather to speak of. But does Nefarious Leader have cool, color-coordinated uniforms? What about his retirement plan? And full medical?

  38. an interesting article, though the featured wind farm is an untypical/experimental installation – perhaps better to also consider a more typical current install like this one with its 8MW ‘fixed’ turbines…
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/17/mersey-wind-turbines-liverpool-uk-wind-technology

    and now with added storage:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/07/dong-energy-plugs-offshore-wind-farm-world-first-battery-system/

    (Out of interest, last Friday lunchtime UK wind was supplying just over 15% of demand, with another 15% from solar…
    Gas at 29% and coal at 2% exactly matched that, with 23% from nuclear and the rest from various bits and pieces.)

    • Then there was the day Australians installed capacity of over 4000 mws was only generating 25 mws with the surviving coal plants flat out to keep the lights on.

    • Griff

      FFS………the rabid socialist Guardian again quoting maximum capacity, nameplate production instead of real numbers that are likely half of what they theoretically produce.

      Quit the biased MSM references and try citing something substantial.

      Man you have a thick skin, but not half as thick as your head.

  39. At last a sensible analysis based mainly on data and analysis, not rhetoric and preconceived bias.

    There are a few points I would take issue with – in particular that nuclear will be phased out. I think there is a very strong argument for base load energy generation. There is also very little reference to PV which has largely matched falls in wind costs and may be more routinely installed at the construction stage rather than retro fitted.

    The proposition that use of carbon fuels – oil, gas, coal – have no impact on the environment it laughable. All sources impact – the only question is how.

    Electric vehicles will become the norm in urban areas as batteries become cheaper and higher capacity, and charging technologies or battery exchange improves.

    There will be situations which require petrol and diesel 4WD vehicles – towing boats, caravans, horses, unmade roads. But they may still be banned from urban areas or subject to swingeing charges.

    • Terry Warner,

      “At last a sensible analysis based mainly on data and analysis, not rhetoric and preconceived bias.”

      Think about that, just for five minutes, then get back to me.

  40. misleading title. Further, it rather jumps all over the place. An airy dismissal that “not all turbines will be in iowa” — well, no. Many of them will carpet california as they do now. And it’s not a trivial impact environmentally as anyone who has visited the Mojave area of CA can attest. http://clui.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/ludb-image/ludb/ca/4427/5663657988_a0d1e5a6d3_o.jpg The author assumes that coal will shut down and nuclear will shut down. Apparently there will never ever be any new technological developments to utilize these energy methods (like say, fusion power) . no one will ever find new oil deposits (http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/10/investing/alaska-oil-discovery-repsol-spain/index.html and http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/17/us/midland-texas-mammoth-oil-discovery/index.html). Or improve fuel efficiency in petroleum engines. no one will ever build anything using hydrogen (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170425124226.htm). Use of windmills has it’s place. It’s unfortunate that the article didn’t address it’s actual title topic — the idea of using an offshore windmill system in Scotland rather than veering off on “windmills are wonderful and can do no wrong” piece. No form of energy is without drawbacks and asserting that windmills are somehow uniquely blessed in that department makes any other claims suspect.

    • You hit the nail on the head. To date the charge of state utility commissions was to regulate power companies and grid design so that the CONSUMER paid the minimum for electricity. This article uses a rational that this is no longer considered appropriate. Otherwise the author would have assessed a power grid as one entity and done an economic analysis of what power generation systems would minimize the cost to the CONSUMER. Instead he tries to show that wind power is competitive (it is not when you add in the backup power needed).

      • Jim Gorman
        August 5, 2017 at 5:57 pm

        Instead he tries to show that wind power is competitive (it is not when you add in the backup power needed).
        ——————————

        Let me add to that the little tiny thing that is very clearly shown in the analyses of the article in question.

        The wind power is indeed competitive, as the death of coal for energy is imminent and certain.
        Obama during his legacy made sure of that by building and paving the road to the coal’ guillotine, and now Hillary Clinton will quick march the coal towards it in due time, and chop chop the coal head goes and dies……(which to be fair makes this blog post very informative by the way)

        Oh wait…..Hillary lost the elections…..gosh there is another type of sheriff in town……
        Oh shit I always have to pinch my self from this dream and wake to the reality of the President Trump in USA….

        Guys wake up from your dreams and nightmares……….actually really Donald Trump is your actual real President,
        Have faith guys, wake up, still Trump will be your President even after you wake……..it is not a dream actually…:)
        And sorry about the nightmarish people,,, same for you too, Trump still will be there your President if you decide to wake, ether you like it or not,,,, but at some point you too got to wake up to the reality and try your best to move on with your life within the reality, I guess.

        Sorry Jim, I am opening this in a plural addressing and not even sure if you are an American….:)

        cheers

  41. Just a thought that popped into my head: That these gigantic Windmills, besides being harmful to humans living nearby, have an extreme negative to earths landscape. The scenario reminds me of the Libya and Syria vista after the U.S. performs its Regime Change for democracy.

    • Not to mention the astronomical cost of wind power… He says it cheap, but forgets it heavily subsidized or the cost are paid indirect by the consumers.
      And ruining the face of the planet for saving the climate?
      Come on people, thorium is the way to go…

  42. Very thorough article, but I do resent being reminded of libel laws in the introduction.It seemed to be a poor way to begin a persuasive essay.

    I am not against wind turbines per se, but the following points still seem pertinent:

    1.Taxpayer subsidies that are very large on a per unit of power produced basis.
    2. Wind is often exempted from providing for its share of grid stability in order to encourage it. It’s another form of subsidy.
    3. In the mountain west where I live wind farms truly interfere with the beauty of the landscape. Perhaps they add interest to viewing the Great Plains region, but big really large wind farms will be an eyesore no matter that the land can be used for grazing or farming. They use a rather large fraction of view per unit of power.
    4. Replacing tax revenue from mineral production with wind extraction is an issue to resolve and will probably be a big fight in many places. I fear it will involve an unfair shift of tax burden from one entity to another.
    5. When the foundations are placed on hard rock infrasound becomes an issue.
    6. Comparing bird losses from turbines to those from cats is a dodge. One could see this clearly if people complained about bird losses due to wild predators, or try to use it as a argument to exempt oil and gas operations from killing raptors.
    7. They use a disprportionate amount of other resources–steel, concrete, and so forth, on a per unit of production basis
    8. Replacing 20%or so of power production with wind does not seem unreasonable, but the more wild-eyed environmentalists, and wind promoters like Mr. Gore speak in term of replacing all power production with wind or solar, which probably means predominately with wind, and seemed inclined to force it through elections.

    • Also the added infrastructure, roads, transmission lines for massively added generation seems to be glossed over by deflection by using existing infrastructure for rebuilding of existing wind.

    • K.kilty

      “Very thorough article, but I do resent being reminded of libel laws in the introduction.It seemed to be a poor way to begin a persuasive essay.”

      In other words, [snip] or I’ll sue you for libel, over an anonymous forum.

      You will of course note that the blog has become incredibly polite, until Griff sticks his beak in of course. But Griffs not a lawyer, so well above the disdain of the rest of the human race for that particular profession.

      And quite why anyone would announce themselves as a lawyer in their preamble to an article defeats me. The hiding to nothing begins right there.

      Ad Hom perhaps, but true nonetheless. I have dealt with lawyers all my life and have only met one that is trustworthy. He happens to be an ambulance chaser, he represents genuine cases of injustice, never charges his clients a brass farthing and negotiates his fees with the insurance companies. He’s also a human being first and a lawyer second, which is probably the real difference.

      My prospective son in law hasn’t qualified yet, but he will be in no doubt as to my opinion of his profession when he does.

      Lawyers exist to be instructed by their clients, a fact they frequently forget.

  43. As so often in the discussions on wind energy the problem of intermittency is neglected or thought to be easily solvable with electricity storage (which until now does not exist at a realistic scale and cost). I strongly recommend the German report titled “Windenergie in Deutschland und Europa” published in the VBG Powertech Journal in June 2017 (link: https://www.vgb.org/vgbmultimedia/PT201706LINNEMANN.pdf).
    This report shows that the German extraordinary high increase in wind turbine installations between 2010 and 2016 did not decrease the need for backup capacity, and reduced the overall contribution of traditional power stations only by a miniscule 100MW. Also, and not expected, the power delivered at minimum wind did not increase between 2010 and 2016. As a consequence in 2016 the German specific CO2 emissions were 425 gCO2/kWh, to be compared to 35 gCO2/kWh for (still) nuclear friendly France.

  44. I wonder about Figure 6 – The wind rose. I thought that wind mills could rotate to take winds from different directions. Why a wind rose?

    I wonder about the prediction of demise of coal. Hillary is not a US president. Coal is not inherently unclean.

    Roger wrote a nice piece about advantages of a new and unproven technology. We should not deploy a new technology on a large scale with a plenty of government subsidies, hoping that on an even larger scale subsidies might not be needed. He might argue equally well that subsidies should be directed to new nuclear technologies. BTW, I am old enough to remember the initial enthusiasm for nuclear.

    • George, thank you. I think

      The wind rose is simply a graph of wind speed and direction over various decades. The wind turbine does indeed rotate into the wind. What the wind rose shows is where the wind comes from, most of the time.

      It is also instructive to view the “blue part,” where the turbine will be at idle due to low wind speed. At that location, the idling time is less than 3 percent of the entire year.

      The technology for offshore, floating spar wind turbines is not new. It is proven after 5 years in a similar location. The subsidies are to further demonstrate the technology at 30 MW.

      Regarding coal, it can be made clean-burning to meet the pollution laws. That costs a lot of money, that coal companies are unwilling to spend. Also, cheap coal means there is only a 20 – 30 year supply left in the US. No utility will build a coal-fired power plant that needs coal for 40 years when only a 20 year supply exists.

      If you will notice, Trump is not saying the US coal miners will sell coal to US coal-fired power plants. His statement said we will export US coal to overseas buyers. He mentioned Ukraine specifically.

      I stand my assertions on coal plants shutting down in the US. The next decade will provide the necessary data.

      • Investors will probably continue to make decisions based on the previous decade, rather than the next one.

      • Roger Sowell

        “I stand my assertions on coal plants shutting down in the US. The next decade will provide the necessary data.”

        And you insane greens have been standing your ground on your insane predictions for the last 40 years, none of which have manifested themselves. Why should we believe this latest insane prediction by you, because you stand by it?

        You maintain that 30 years is the minimum timeframe over which climate conditions can be judged. OK, we sceptics have waited almost 20 years, watching the hiatus and been gagged from producing it as evidence to refute your fantasies.

        Meanwhile, you have had 40 years to produce credible, empirical studies that demonstrate CO2 causes the earth’s atmosphere to heat up.

        Isn’t it about time you mob put up or shut up?

        Start with the basics instead of jumping to the conclusion mate. Then you might have our attention.

      • “I stand my assertions on coal plants shutting down in the US”

        Certainly coal plants have continued to announce closures since Trump took office – and I am unable to find any definite plan to build a single new coal plant in the US.

  45. We had the technology to build nuclear plants in 6 years back in 1970. We have plenty of time to replace our nuclear capacity assuming the obstructionist factions don’t pointlessly delay every step of the process.

    • Rebecca, they tried. Tried hard, too. Obama’s administration even gave federal loan guarantees to the four nuclear reactors that are such a disaster, financially, in South Carolina and in Georgia.

      These are the best, most modern, AP-1000 Westinghouse designs, using the most advanced construction techniques and modern methods of modularized construction.

      And, they failed at all four reactor projects. All those guys from the 1970s are dead and gone.

      There was zero obstructionism with the Four Fiascos, as I like to call them. Instead, they were given every possible government assistance. No lawsuits were allowed during construction. (only for serious, demonstrable cause are lawsuits allowed.) Government -backed loans were provided. Interest on construction loans were avoided in South Carolina when the S.C state government passed a law that allowed the utility to bill existing customers for a share of the construction costs. That was a first.

      Unless you, or anybody else, can show how it can be done, we are finished in the US with building nuclear plants.

      Nobody is willing to risk the money now. Not after the Four Fiascos.

  46. Planning Engineer and I took a careful look at the LCOE of onshore wind compared to CCGT and USC coal, illustrating then fixing a number of not so subtle EIA biases in the ‘official’ numbers. We used Texas Ercot grid to estimate intermittency backup costs and extra transmission. The wind penetration on Ercot is ~10%. The result: CCGT $56/MWh, onshore wind $146/MWh. Guest post True Cost of Wind at Climate Etc. This offshore wind post does not address the fundamental economics. EIA estimates that offshore wind is 1.5-2x onshore. So Statoil’s project may be technically but not economically feasible without massive subsidies. According to the FT, Hywind received a massive ‘enhanced renewable’ subsidybunder a scheme that ended March 2017.
    Separately, the average age of the existing US coal generating base is 42 years, and the average age at economic retirement is 48 years. About 1/3 of the installed coal base (in MW) will be economically retired by ~2025. It will be replaced mainly by CCGT because of the economics, so long as natural gas remains below ~$5/mbtu, which is likely even with ramped LNG exports.
    Separately, the aging nuclear fleet will be forced off by two factors. Uneconomic to make needed repairs for stuff like neutron embrittlement or steam generator replacement (Zion, San Onofre). Again, CCGT is the likely replacement, not intermittent expensive wind.

    • In a purely rational economic world they will be replaced by CCGT. But this isn’t the best of all possible worlds, Doctor. Sadly.

    • The main point of the article, something that most people apparently missed, is that wind turbine generators decrease the demand for natural gas. That, as Ristvan must know as an economist, helps drive down the price of natural gas.

      Lower natural gas prices are a great benefit across a broad spectrum in the economy. I listed just a few in the article, home heating bills, electricity prices from gas-burning power plants, and ammonia-based fertilizers and the crops they produce. There are several other benefits of lower natural gas prices.

      For that reason, CCGT will not be the sole source of new electric capacity. Wind turbines have now reached an economic status where they can, and will be installed along with CCGT.

      • “Lower natural gas prices are a great benefit across a broad spectrum in the economy. I listed just a few in the article, home heating bills, electricity prices from gas-burning power plants, and ammonia-based fertilizers and the crops they produce. There are several other benefits of lower natural gas prices. ”

        This is a meaningless statement without quantification. We could lower natural gas prices by moving all electrical power generation to nuclear or coal as well. By definition wind will require some amount of reserve which will be more costly because that energy cannot be sold.

      • Ah but there is a budding movement to replace inexpensive gas home heating with expensive electricity. Who is behind this movement. Up here in BC there is 65 billion in contracts to Independent Power Producers, example run of river and wind. There a lot of money and connections behind these money making projects. The last Premier of BC was going to investigate these projects but then went silent, interesting.

        Oh for some reason the generation output by different sources is a secret.

      • “That, as Ristvan must know as an economist, helps drive down the price of natural gas.”

        Unbelievable!

        Drive down the price of natural gas, with taxpayer subsidised windfarms until the private gas business give up and go home. Then we’re left with unreliable windfarms and solar power.

        Seriously, what planet are you from Roger?

        Look at recent British history for an example of what you are driving the US towards. Thanks to 2 world wars, we were laughed at as the poor man of Europe. Our industries were nationalised, in no small part to answer the threat, collectively, of dealing with threats from abroad.

        In the 70’s Thatcher fought that self destructive stranglehold the US was heading towards under the Democrats of late and thankfully Trump has seemingly put the brakes on.

        Socialism is the most destructive political force known to man. In the 20th Century it’s worst excesses were manifest in the USSR, China, Cuba, Italy, N. Korea and, of course, socialist Germany amongst others.

        In case you hadn’t read the memo, Christina Figueres announced to the world that climate change was a cover for global wealth distribution, in other words, communism, and that the UN would be taking over international governance.

        I don’t know where you stand on communism, but that’s a pretty stark announcement to me, and one which I will contest to my dying day.

        Yet the western state of California, almost the birthplace of free America, individual rights, freedom of speech, freedom to trade, freedom to bear arms, amongst all the other freedoms enshrined in your constitution, is being held ransom by stifling socialist doctrines.

        As a Brit,I’m staggered, amazed, even gobsmacked that the US is selling it’s heart and soul of individual rights down the river for the con job that is socialism under cover of CO2.

        Individually, there is no better friend I would have than a cousin American. Collectively though, you mob are a complete nightmare.

  47. Goodness knows how Hywind can ever be economical. The specific capital cost for this project is £6,67m/MW. Assuming the usual life of 25 years, and a capacity factor set at a generous 45 %, the LCOE is £227/MWh. Add in system integration costs, transmission, etc, and the system integrated cost rises to £270/MWh. This is not competitive with nuclear – or anything else for that matter.
    Where does the author get the idea that CCGT’s can mitigate the intermittency of wind? CCGT’s do not like operating at part loads; it has a large impact on maintenance costs.

    • Capell,

      let me call your attention to a 940 MW, CCGT specifically designed to serve as wind-turbine backup, here in the US in Ohio. The project is under construction. The project is Lordstown. From my blog article on SLB, 5 May 2016:

      “”Siemens will deliver a complete power plant solution for the (Lordstown) facility, which will feature the record-breaking H-class (gas turbine) technology designed for fast, flexible operation to support renewable integration. The scope of supply includes two gas turbines, one steam turbine and three generators. Slated for operation in summer 2018…”

      A bit of math shows that the plant’s capital cost is approximately $900 per kW, which is less than one-tenth that of a new nuclear power plant (those costing upwards of $10,000 per kW). The construction time is also a bit more than two years, which compares more than favorably to a nuclear power plant that typically requires ten years or more. This power plant is essentially the same size as a new nuclear power plant, with 940 MWe compared to a Westinghouse AP-1000 of 1100 MWe.

      And importantly, the CCGT plant will achieve a bit more than 60 percent thermal efficiency. The heat rate (LHV) is 5690 Btu/kWh.

      Also, the plant will have design and control system features to provide load-following so that renewable energy systems can be more easily integrated into the grid. In the Ohio-Pennsylvania region, the renewable energy is mostly wind-turbines.

      The plant is located between Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania near the states’ border. The local grid is the PJM, a major grid on the US East Coast. PJM has wind-turbine resources that can produce in excess of 5,000 MW.

      This is exactly as predicted on SLB. This is the future of Midwest and East Coast generation, as coal power plants are retired, nuclear power plants are retired, and CCGT with wind-turbines are installed.”

      • So basically two different sources of power is required to supply the same load instead of just one source, interesting. Double the generation required. Therefore proving wind generation is unreliable, inefficient, non dispatchable, and expensive.

      • Wind and CCGT fit together nicely. A parable:

        This man wants a new suit, and he goes to a tailor. The tailor puts him up on the platform surrounded by all those mirrors, takes his measurements, and says “OK, come beck in a veek, I’ll heve de suit ready.”

        In a week the man returns to the tailor shop. “Here’s your suit,” says the tailor.

        “Well, I’d like to try it on,” says the customer. So he goes in the dressing room, takes his clothes off, and starts putting on the suit. It’s all but impossible to get into the thing! Finally, he has it on, comes out, and gets up on the platform again.

        He looks at himself, frowns, and says to the tailor, “This suit is terrible! Look at this! The jacket sleeves are so long they’re flopping! But the shoulders are so narrow I can’t even breathe! The pants legs are baggy! But at the same time, the pants squeeze my hips!” On and on he complains.

        “Vait a minute,” says the tailor, interrupting him. “Here’s vut you’ll do. You’ll go like dis…” And the tailor shows him how to hold in his sleeves, hunch up his shoulders, tuck in the baggy pants with one hand, all at the same time, to “make it fit”.

        A few minutes later the man emerges from the shop onto the street. He’s hobbling down the sidewalk, trying to walk while still holding his sleeve, hunching his shoulders, tucking the pants, etc, etc.

        Two old ladies waiting for a bus across the street notice him as he struggles along.
        “Oy!” says one of the ladies, shaking her head in pity. “Look at that poor man!”
        “Yes,” says her companion, also shaking her head. “But doesn’t his suit fit nice!”

  48. I’ll give you my 2 cents. Nice description of the narrative of why wind power is great. But step back and look at what you are saying. Wind + nat gas = win. Lets say for grid that at one time wind power can be only 100% and you have a 35% capacity factor. Wind can only be 35% of the grid. There would still need 100% natural gas backup which you promote, to be financially feasible unsubsidized wind would need to be cheaper than the fuel burned to make it valuable to turn off the natural gas generators. Wind also makes for more expensive lower efficiency peaker plants that have to ramp up very quickly increasing cost. The obvious question is why not just 100% natural gas?

    Now to your other assumptions.

    Nuclear is going to die? Why? Too expensive? Examples of Westinghouse is more of a tale of selling someone something that wasn’t the bill of goods that they were told. It was a pump and dump, sell the idea of a ready made drop in nuclear power station that would cut costs, then sold the “revolution” to make fat stacks. Kind of like AI and automated driving, hype it and sell your company for Billions – looking at you MobileEye. So what are nuclear plants around the world made for in competitive bidding? Koreans can do it for $2.5 Billion a GW, Chinese can do it for $2.5 Billion. Russians can do it for just a little more. What Westinghouse needed to do was make sure their design was good then implement but the purpose wasn’t to make nuclear power generators. Chinese hope to sell a Chinese design worldwide for $2 Billion a GW after all the bugs are worked out.

    Now coal. LNG is the future? But you have to compress it? It takes about 30% of the energy to compress it, it transfers the carbon energy intensity away from the end user to the seller. Why not just use coal it’s already compressed, no special boats and is much cheaper per GJ than LNG. It’s why Japan is building coal plants. EIA has coal back ahead of NG in generation as NG went to over $3 a GJ. Your projections on the availability of coal in the future is silly, yes it will cost more but more is there, right now we are using the cheapest stuff, just like NG. US has many hundreds of years of coal if required.

    Personally I think nuclear with natural gas and some renewables with some storage (when it becomes cheap enough) is the win for low carbon and price. Wind/solar would be less than 10% in this scenario, less than the 35% that you forecast but I think would be much cheaper and use much less CO2.

  49. So, as our power plants exceed their useful lives and are shut down, we will have no choice but to build windmills, which last forever.

  50. If this stuff were as good as they say, they would just do it. Period.
    Note how fracking in the USA just took off on its own, despite govt opposition.
    Note how fracking has been impeded in other countries by governmental opposition.
    I am tired of “projections” and govt subsidy (read corruption). Just do it. If it works, the whole world will be eager to copy it.

    • Agree fully. Note also the argument about it being very expensive to make coal-fired plants burn clean sidesteps the issue of “clean to what standard”. We can easily make a technology non-economic by applying excessive standards.

      The argument that wind tower surface leases help spread some of the wealth of energy production around applies as well to fossil fuels, and the lease payments at present go to land holders who are among the wealthiest; whereas, mineral estate leases and royalties go to whomever owns the mineral estate which is much more widely owned in the U.S.

    • The more complete statement of global warming theory is that there will be reduced winds, increased winds or no change in winds. Each of these possibilities will be catastrophic.

  51. Roger, this is the best essay on windpower that I have seen. Thank you. I note David Middleton, whom I respect highly, also had positive remarks.

    I have been strongly negative on wind and solar presented as a justified cost for fighting CO2 emissions to save the planet. Even so, I have commented that eventually we are going to have little choice on supply – price grounds but to go electric on transportation. I have seen a niche for clusters of wind turbines in remote seas for charging purposes and even solar where its sensible (unlike in Scotland or Germany).

    I’m also an engineer (and geologist) so I expect that tech does increase, in time, in reliability and cost and your analysis, if it is truly all in looks reasonable, although I would note that escalating costs you note for nuclear and coal are also a risk for renewable projects. Your well known trashing of nuclear I believe to be flawed. If windmills were just taking off the 17th century Dutch technology, they too would be fraught with problems. Our nuclear has been frustrated in development by activists and we have not had much freedom to develop a fifty year old miracle tech.

    Activists are also responsible for major unjustified redundancy costs that were designed to kill this tech off. With fewer than 100 people killed by the tech and most of these by one lousy soviet built plant (nuclear France only had one death – this in a spent fuel rod plant that could have been a forklift accident).

    Just as I am sure electrics are perforce where we will go in future, I see no long term future likely for power than mainly from the atom. I would ask you to red team yourself and try to think some positive things about the atom and what types of developments would be conducive to elevating it from its negatives. You’ve given me some positive thoughts about wind turbines. Oh and Im pleased that you and many activists are speaking more kindly about hydro. It is nature’s most compelling renewable – the beautiful (engineeringwise) hydrological cycle. I believe you have pointed the way to productive engagement on energy issues. Thank you.

    • For Gary Pearse, thank you. I’ll try to respond to your comments.

      “Roger, this is the best essay on windpower that I have seen. Thank you. I note David Middleton, whom I respect highly, also had positive remarks.”

      Thank you again. David Middleton did make some nice statements And, I thanked him too.

      “I have been strongly negative on wind and solar presented as a justified cost for fighting CO2 emissions to save the planet.”

      Me, too. Although, I don’t mind standing quietly while those guys help boost wind and solar. They are doing the right thing, even if for the wrong reasons.

      ” Even so, I have commented that eventually we are going to have little choice on supply – price grounds but to go electric on transportation. I have seen a niche for clusters of wind turbines in remote seas for charging purposes and even solar where its sensible (unlike in Scotland or Germany).”

      I agree that EVs for cars will be the future. For heavy trucks, I’m not convinced the batteries will ever get there. Those will remain a diesel consumer.

      “I’m also an engineer (and geologist) so I expect that tech does increase, in time, in reliability and cost and your analysis, if it is truly all in looks reasonable, although I would note that escalating costs you note for nuclear and coal are also a risk for renewable projects. Your well known trashing of nuclear I believe to be flawed. If windmills were just taking off the 17th century Dutch technology, they too would be fraught with problems. Our nuclear has been frustrated in development by activists and we have not had much freedom to develop a fifty year old miracle tech.”

      This is where I respectfully disagree. I have watched for 45 years or more, how nuclear engineers have tried and tried to devise a better, more efficient, more economic nuclear power plant. I wrote on this at length on my blog in the Truth About Nuclear Power. In particular, I addressed the history, present status, and likely future of large pressurized water reactors, small modular reactors, thorium molten salt reactors, high-temperature pebble bed gas reactors, and two types of fusion reactors. Those are the magnetic pinch bottle Tokomak, and laser inertial fusion energy LIFE at the national lab. I did another article on the boiling water reactor technology. All of these research and development efforts were done with government encouragement, too, and funding. After 50 years of effort by the best the industry could hire, they have developed exactly zero.

      Much of the trouble is related to materials of construction. The recent Four Fiascos of Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors in South Carolina and Georgia are prime examples of the most modern technology as a total failure economically. Those are not alone, either, as Finland and France cannot build the French’s best design, the EPR 1600.

      I simply look at the available, actual data and see that nuclear power has not made any progress in 50 years, despite billions in government research and thousands of talented people giving it their best. As I sometimes say, nuclear needs a genius solution. Us regular guys cannot figure out an economic, safe design.

      “Activists are also responsible for major unjustified redundancy costs that were designed to kill this tech off. With fewer than 100 people killed by the tech and most of these by one lousy soviet built plant (nuclear France only had one death – this in a spent fuel rod plant that could have been a forklift accident).”

      I disagree. The NRC has many regulations for backup and redundancy in nuclear plants, but those are entirely justified. I wrote on this, too. There are three basic layers of containment, because nuclear fuel makes dangerous byproducts in an overheating situation. Those were widely demonstrated in both the Three Mile Island melt-down, and the triple meltdowns at Fukushima. Back up cooling systems are entirely justified, again because nuclear fuel must be kept cool. Fukushima again demonstrated what happens when the backup cooling is not provided. Meltdowns and hydrogen explosions.

      The deaths are not the only issue, either. It is now well-established that operating nuclear power plants cause unusually high incidents of cancers in children living nearby.

      “Just as I am sure electrics are perforce where we will go in future, I see no long term future likely for power than mainly from the atom. I would ask you to red team yourself and try to think some positive things about the atom and what types of developments would be conducive to elevating it from its negatives.”

      Oh, my climate-science red-team of chemical engineers here in SoCal, for the most part, disagree with me over nuclear power. We have long and spirited discussions about this. Most of the time, I find that their basis for their arguments is simply out of date. Or, they lack more information that shows why they are not correct. They have slowly come around to my viewpoint. That is itself an amazing thing. 40-year chemical engineers do not change their minds much about anything.

      Re the future of splitting the atom, I wonder if you have read the article by Derek Abbot, a professor that looked into the long-term viability of atomic power? He concludes that the world can never, ever, be powered by nuclear energy, and lists more than one dozen good reasons. “Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?” Abbot, D., Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 99, No. 10, pp. 1611–1617, 2011.

      Re positives of atomic energy: I see only a few. It works, except when it doesn’t. It employs approximately 1000 people per reactor in the US.

      It requires full backup for 30 days or more every 18 months due to offline refueling. The reactors shut down in the US on average, every 3 weeks with unplanned, emergency shutdowns. That’s just with 100 reactors. Worldwide, with 4.5 times that many reactors, we can expect that more than one per week occur. That is playing with some awfully dangerous fire, there. It is very expensive, and risky, to have nuclear power follow the load. The French company EDF agrees, and has written papers on this.

      “You’ve given me some positive thoughts about wind turbines. Oh and Im pleased that you and many activists are speaking more kindly about hydro. It is nature’s most compelling renewable – the beautiful (engineeringwise) hydrological cycle. I believe you have pointed the way to productive engagement on energy issues. Thank you.”

      Thank you, too. I am data-driven in my views. If nuclear power can ever, ever, be demonstrated as safe, cheap, reliable, can follow the load, and affordable, I will be all for it. To date, nuclear power as we presently have it can not do all five. It can, at times, follow the load, but as I wrote above, the French hate doing that due to the higher cost and high risk. In the US, the reactors cannot do that due to their design. It would cost much more to achieve that capability. Also, the load-following plants would lose even more money than they do today, because their huge fixed costs would be allocated over a smaller quantity of kWh sold.

      • “If nuclear power can ever, ever, be demonstrated as safe, cheap, reliable, can follow the load, and affordable, I will be all for it. To date, nuclear power as we presently have it can not do all five.”

        And how many of the five can wind or solar do? Do you not realize how much of a hypocrite this makes you? Or do you simply not care?

        Wind is not cheap, not reliable, and cannot follow the load. Three strikes your out! LOL,

      • Roger

        “I simply look at the available, actual data and see that nuclear power has not made any progress in 50 years, despite billions in government research and thousands of talented people giving it their best. As I sometimes say, nuclear needs a genius solution. Us regular guys cannot figure out an economic, safe design.”

        Meanwhile, you look at the theoretical, unproven future of wind turbines, the theoretical unproven future of EV’s, and propose them as a solution.

        At the very least, nuclear energy production is a proven, relativity cheap technology, and you would abandon it wholesale for an unproven future based on renewables reliant on subsidies to become competitive.

        And whilst all new technology needs subsidy, to rush headlong into global windfarm and solar generation is a nice idea, it is utter folly to abandon reliability and evolution for forced revolution.

      • Please address something you glossed over. In order to replace petrol as a fuel for transportation with EV’s we will require quite a substantial increase in power generation. For an example, let’s say 3 times the current generation capacity. If replacing current power generation will require an area the size of Iowa. We are now talking about an area 4 times the size of Iowa. Where is all this land going to come from where there is sufficient wind?

      • ” It is now well-established that operating nuclear power plants cause unusually high incidents of cancers in children living nearby.”

        That is a very bold assertion. You’ll have to provide some real evidence of that. And while the increased cost for containment systems is essential for your narrative, passively safe designs, particularly those operating at atmospheric pressure, simply do not require the same massive structures as older LWR designs. The rest of your claims have been dealt with repeatedly in the past.

      • I almost missed this part:

        “Also, the load-following plants would lose even more money than they do today, because their huge fixed costs would be allocated over a smaller quantity of kWh sold.”

        And yet you think spreading the capital costs of CCGT over a smaller quantity of kWh sold works… Amazing.

      • I’ll just leave this here along with a bit from the abstract:

        In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.

        (emphasis mine)

      • For Jim Gorman, re August 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm

        “Please address something you glossed over. In order to replace petrol as a fuel for transportation with EV’s we will require quite a substantial increase in power generation. For an example, let’s say 3 times the current generation capacity. If replacing current power generation will require an area the size of Iowa. We are now talking about an area 4 times the size of Iowa. Where is all this land going to come from where there is sufficient wind?

        Good question. Great question, actually.

        I, too, was puzzled about all the hype surrounding EVs and recharging so I took a good, long engineer’s look into it.

        It turns out, we won’t need much, if any, new power generating capacity for a long while. For example, if ten percent of the gas guzzlers are traded in for EVs. It turns out that most of the electrical generating capacity in any country sits idle or loafs along, most of the time. In the US, for example, we have a little more than 1,000 GW of installed generating capacity of all types. But, on average, we use only about 45 to 47 percent of that. We only bring the marginal generating plants to life during the extreme peak loads, such as late Summer here in the US West Coast. And, that is the key. We already have more than adequate generating assets built and sitting there. We just need to use them in a smart manner.

        The numbers I ran recently for 10 percent EV, 90 percent gas guzzlers, and slow charging at night with 8 hours for each recharge, gives the national need at 33 GW more than the usual load at night. To put that in perspective, the US uses approximately 10 times that each night, or 310 GW. That would be less in balmy Spring and Autumn nights, perhaps 200 GW. Still, increasing that by 33 GW is not much of a problem. The plants are already there, the fixed costs are there, and all we need do is run more fuel through the plants.

        Recharging the EV batteries at night is the basis for the above example. Or, utilities could make the rule that especially on hot summer days, charging EV batteries must be done at night or pay a very high price for the charging. On the other 360 days each year, no one will care much when the EV batteries are charged.

        The situation changes quite a bit, as you suggest, as the EV market grows to say 50 percent or 80 percent of all cars. It also matters very much how long the charging process requires. We could very well end up needing to add approximately 50 percent or more to the generating capacity in some states that have high EV penetration, if I may use that term, and fast charging for most of them.

        An interesting question of a fair market price for charging the EVs arises, though. Since the EV charging at night requires no new generating assets, only more fuel, the cost per kWh should be just the incremental cost of running the plants at a higher rate. The utilities won’t do that, of course, as they see this as an opportunity to make a lot of profit. However, if the incremental fuel price were to be the EV charging price, that would be roughly 4 cents per kWh. Or, much lower if the wind is blowing strong.

        On the topic of land area for wind turbines, however, the area the size of Iowa is not what I said about replacing all the present capacity.

        I said that would be the incremental area, theoretically, for the added wind farms to take us from 7 percent of US generation to 33 percent, over 20 years. That is a much different thing than replacing current generating capacity.

      • “Roger Sowell August 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        The deaths are not the only issue, either. It is now well-established that operating nuclear power plants cause unusually high incidents of cancers in children living nearby.”

        Bogus claim. As far as I know there are no nuclear plants in Cornwall, south west England, yet high levels of radon gas exposure and cancer.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/96142.stm

      • Your comments about fusion are out of date. The laser inertial confinement program is being shut down and the massive tokamak project has been delayed into the 2030s… these are all beiult on antiquated and failed designs.

        The current generation of designs are far more promising, notable the micro firm LPPFusion.
        lppfusion.com

  52. I mentally stopped at where you have to deploy the same capacity twice – once for gas and once for wind.

    WTF? If we have infinite money supply then sure, whatever suits your fancy. I have all sorts of interesting hobbies I could do if I had infinite money supply.

    Why not just deploy the gas capacity ONCE and be done with it? There’s no ‘foriegn’ dependencies, USA is exporting the stuff.

    Peter

    • The author’s logic appears to be that deploying the same capacity twice is a GOOD THING because it will make the gas last longer. We have already been pre-emptively threatened with legal action so I won’t say any more.

      • Forrest Gardener

        Say what you want mate, it’s an anonymous forum, unless he has the inside track on data protection, he can’t do anything.

        Typical lawyer threat to stop anyone from dissent.

      • Not so HotScot. First, Anthony as proprietor is a target because he is publishing what I write. Second, Anthony can be compelled or may wish to disclose my identity.

        I know these things through my own legal practice (now retired). Believe it or not there are many lawyers who are disgusted by the poor behaviour so commonly seen in the industry. Not that I know anything about the author other than that he started with a legal threat.

      • Forrest Gardener

        With the greatest of respect to your legal qualifications, an anonymous individual named Roger, enters an ‘anonymous’ blog renowned for it’s combative nature, issues a veiled threat that anyone in the world daring to libel him will suffer the consequences, then under cover of that, makes his pronouncement on a subject.

        And in your opinion, a court anywhere in the world would consider that a just reason to prosecute because someone called him a wanker?

        Seriously, you’re telling me that courts will waste their time on that?

      • Not so HotScot. You are mis-characterising my opinions.

        First, it is up to the litigants how much time the court spends on a matter. The court is essentially passive in the process. Second, the greatest difficulty in defamation matters is proof of damages which in essence is loss of reputation. How does a court know that there has been no loss of reputation until the evidence is heard. By that time large amounts of a defendant’s money will have been spent. Financial ruin is a powerful motivator. Third, it is surprisingly difficult to have the court dismiss even what appears to outsiders to be a hopeless case.

        My response to you was simply to point out that none of us are as anonymous on the internet as we might think. That and it is almost trivial to find a defendant if you are motivated to harm somebody.

        It’s not called lawfare for nothing. It’s wrong but it is not going to change any time soon.

      • The author’s logic appears to be that deploying the same capacity twice is a GOOD THING because it will make the gas last longer.

        it’s a very stupid idea. But I”m very grateful to the author for bringing it out in the open for all to see the stupidity. Of course, the side effect if put into practice is to cause people on the margins to starve to death, so it’s not just stupid, it’s a horrifically inhumane idea.

        See, no libel there. I called an idea stupid, not a person.

      • No libel Peter? Can you afford the legal fees to defend yourself if the author feels differently? Being right can be quite expensive.

        Back to the subject at hand, I am far from convinced that it would be economic for anybody to build a gas powered plant knowing that other energy sources will be given automatic priority over the energy they produce. Fancy being shut down with around a thousandth of a second notice.

        Perhaps the solution is to require intermittent producers of power to also produce base load power. Then the true economic costs might be more easily understood. That will not happen through market forces while renewable power sources are mandated.

  53. I see a lot of bias in this post that makes assumptions and glosses over reality. Much too long to comment on.

  54. Nothing about changing energy sources is new. There is constant adaptation of the grid, or of energy delivery systems in general. For example before 1973 quite a lot of U.S. energy generation came from oil-fired plants, and the recognition that foreign entities could impose large costs on electric generation unexpectedly, combined with resistance to nuclear, is what pushed utilities toward coal. Even further back we supplied town gas, made from coal or wood, to homes which natural gas replaced. This adaptation is always toward methods and sources that are better in some way–more economic, more secure, safer. The market is very capable of doing such things on its own. If wind energy is better in real ways, then the market will begin to employ it on its own. If forced through subsidies, election mandates, or prohibitions, then one deals with the opportunity costs of stranded assets, premature technology and so forth.

    Back in the mid-2000s, with lots of time on his hands, Al Gore pushed for 100% renewables in a decade. Nothing of the sort was possible at that time, is not possible now, and may not be for the forseeable future. What in the world does 20-30 years supply of “cheap coal” mean? It can only mean cheap with respect to other, essentially equal in all regards, sources. From the first projections of oil supply until very recently there was always a 20 to 30 year supply of cheap oil too. The market finds new supplies, or finds substitutes.

    One can argue about the benefits of wind energy, and try to dispel myths about it as much as one would like. In the end we should allow markets to make the choices, rather than have it imposed by what a large voting block in California want.

  55. Did I understand this correctly?
    Hydro-electricity is NOT renewable energy?
    Ditto for the key assumptions, coal and nuclear are going away.. due to current political obstruction.
    This of course assumes political winds do not shift, as shaky an assumption as ethical government.
    Other than the obvious a fine sale pitch for Wind, both sucks Subsidies and blows unreliable power.
    Is there any city on earth currently getting its BASE Load from wind generation?
    Currently wind power is a fad, of the mass hysteria kind.
    When reason returns to our political parasites wind will blow away, leaving rusting relics and huge concrete obstacles littering once beautiful highlands.
    And historically reason is usually returned to our parasitic class by starvation,decimation and terror of their fellow humans. Could be because when times are really tough nobody needs a bunch of useless eaters.

  56. Whales you forgot about the whales, a big developing issue.

    I wonder if the day will come when Paul Watson will show up and start blowing up off shore wind generation?

    Birds dead in an oil patch settling pone my god the evil of it. Bird deaths especially raptors by wind generation nothing to see here. If I kill an eagle I can expect to be vilified, heavily fined even jailed. Hey wind generation can get a permit to kill, and greenies, well death for the common good.

  57. Thank you Roger. Great post.

    I hate all the wind farms dotting and despoiling southern Alberta and northern Montana destroying the view and crisscrossing the land with power lines and substations. Like someone else said, they are engineering marvels. But what an eyesore! I no longer have the same clear memory of looking across the foothills at the Rocky Mountains.

    On the other hand, some of those ranchers love the income from having the wind turbines on their land.

    Nevertheless, you wrote a very good article, well worth reading and saving for another read down the road.

    Thanks

  58. Well we know that a lawyer wrote this:

    – He threatens us with libel actions before he even starts.
    – He answers questions no one here has asked and
    – uses as many words as possible to do it.

    If, like me, you think that man-made CO2 has a trivial effect on climate and is on balance beneficial, then discussing at great length infeasible, hyper-expensive and environmentally damaging technologies such as wind turbines, whether on sea or on land, is an irrelevance.

    Given the amount of gas in the ground in the US all the fading reactor power can be replaced by gas and coal power stations: known, mature technology, known costs, cheap and quick to build, CONSTANT power output on demand.

  59. Interesting to start with a pre-emptive legal threat. I must remember that technique if I ever post at one of the alarmist sites.

    As some have already pointed out, the economics is distorted by requirements that intermittent power sources are given 100% priority over reliable power sources. Wind blowing? Everybody else can stop generating power. Sun shining? Everybody else can stop generating power.

    Oh, but make sure you are available at a microsecond’s notice just in case the good guys go off-line. Who in their right mind would invest in continuous power generation?

    As for the rest of the article, I have only one question. What could possibly go wrong? Or did I miss that bit?

  60. Roger

    Nice article.

    I am not against renewable energy per se, just that each country selects the appropriate technology for their circumstances and that in due course it can supply cheap reliable energy.

    For some reason! at our high latitude, successive British govts have thought it a good idea to install masses of solar panels. The obvious downsides of little or no production at night and periods of low intensity light are obvious without going into our very limited hours of sunshine(1700 hours pa on the sunny south coast where I live)

    We have I believe some of the largest offshore wind farms in the world situated in the Thames estuary and south north sea. I don’t like on shore ones as they get progressively taller and due to practicalities are often situated in some of our finest upland landscapes.. No, sorry I do not see their beauty.

    In theory therefore I should support off shore wind farms. They have two problems they are very expensive to produce/install and very expensive to maintain, so consequently the energy they produce is likely to be expensive and sporadic as the uk covers a relatively small area and it is quite likely that windless conditions in one part of the country will be repeated elsewhere.

    So I need convincing that they are cost effective in uk circumstances.

    As for the Hywind project I understand this exists as a trial project that has as yet not been commissioned. I am extremely dubious that the type of sea bed mooring envisaged. Can possibly survive the extremely high winds and mountainous waves of the area the hywind project is located in. several experimental wave energy projects broke in half in the high winds and swell several years ago.

    So the jury is out as to whether the devices will work, let alone that it will be cost effective.

    Of course in US conditions things might be different

    Tonyb

    • For climatereason, aka Tonyb. I will try to respond.

      “Nice article.” Thank you!

      “I am not against renewable energy per se, just that each country selects the appropriate technology for their circumstances and that in due course it can supply cheap reliable energy.”

      Absolutely agree with that. Each country, and state or province within it, has or lacks certain resources. What cannot be provided locally is then imported. I write on this on my blog under “The Grand Game”

      “For some reason! at our high latitude, successive British govts have thought it a good idea to install masses of solar panels. The obvious downsides of little or no production at night and periods of low intensity light are obvious without going into our very limited hours of sunshine(1700 hours pa on the sunny south coast where I live)”

      I have seen some of this. Without denigrating the British electeds, it may be that the promise of some technologies were oversold. Here in sunny Southern California, however, solar power via PV is certainly working out quite well. It is indeed a blessing to find a parking lot covered over with solar panels as shade for the cars. We have lots of cars,,,

      “We have I believe some of the largest offshore wind farms in the world situated in the Thames estuary and south north sea. I don’t like on shore ones as they get progressively taller and due to practicalities are often situated in some of our finest upland landscapes.. No, sorry I do not see their beauty.”

      I see things, I suppose, with an engineer’s and economist’s eyes. And a sense of the history that led to the particular design decisions and tradeoffs visible in the turbine farm in front of me. But, that’s just me. I also look at the local farm, because here it’s almost always a farm with the wind turbine. And see the crops and know that the fertilizer the farmer had to pay for with precious cash is a little bit less costly to him because the wind turbine started that chain of events I’ve written about. Less natural gas was burned in a power plant because the wind made some of the electricity, less natural gas sold, lower price for the natural gas, an ammonia plant somewhere paid less for the raw material (natural gas) and was able to sell the ammonia fertilizer to the farmer at a lower price. Then the city citizens bought the farmer’s produce, after of course a number of steps in the chain of commerce, so the kids are eating their cornflakes and Mom says here, eat two bowls! instead of having to scrimp and serve her kids only a tiny single bowl of cereal.

      “In theory therefore I should support off shore wind farms. They have two problems they are very expensive to produce/install and very expensive to maintain, so consequently the energy they produce is likely to be expensive and sporadic as the uk covers a relatively small area and it is quite likely that windless conditions in one part of the country will be repeated elsewhere.”

      You are right, and I agree that at the moment they are expensive to install and maintain. I did not list all the many, many technical innovations that the wind designers have yet to implement, as the post was getting a bit too long. Too long, even for my standards. I’ve been know to wax a bit prolix at times. I’ll find a link to that reference and post it.

      My main point is that offshore wind has better and better economics, year over year. As long as the government keeps the subsidies going for a few more years, as the US did, the offshore wind systems will soon reach the self-sufficient point. As others have noted, and I did in the article, Germany has an offshore wind farm now that was bid with zero subsidies. The investors are confident they can make their profit in the market, with zero assistance from government. That is a most encouraging event.

      “So I need convincing that they are cost effective in uk circumstances.”

      One hopes that the German offshore wind farm will share what they did with the world, to allow others to farm the wind without government assistance. And, they will. Share, that is.

      ” As for the Hywind project I understand this exists as a trial project that has as yet not been commissioned. I am extremely dubious that the type of sea bed mooring envisaged. Can possibly survive the extremely high winds and mountainous waves of the area the hywind project is located in. several experimental wave energy projects broke in half in the high winds and swell several years ago.”

      Actually, this is the second step along the path. There was a single-turbine project that proved the mooring system is robust. Per Statoil’s Environmental Statement, the trial project also withstood winds of 40 m/s (88 mph) and waves of 20 meters. The beauty of the floating spar support that is moored to the seabed with three cables, is the thing can rock a bit in the highest winds and strongest waves. It doesn’t break, it gives. It may not be generating power at the time, but it survives the harsh conditions.

      ” So the jury is out as to whether the devices will work, let alone that it will be cost effective.
      Of course in US conditions things might be different.”

      I believe, based on the above, that the jury came in with a Good-to-Go verdict at Hywind Scotland.

      We have, believe it or not, even more wicked offshore conditions in Northern California and Southern Oregon. The wind generating potential there is truly spectacular, but the water is fairly deep. This Statoil spar technology may be just the design we need over here. The waves are usually monstrous, and the winds are gale or stronger much of the time. And, then of course we have the mild conditions offshore Galveston, Texas. Except in a hurricane, the wind is mild and the waves are small.

      I will locate that wind technology innovations link and post it.

      Thanks for the comment, Tonyb. All the best.

      • Roger

        Thanks for this, look forward to seeing your link.

        The uk is a small country and in winter we have periods of static high pressure which means the entire country can be windless and sunless. If the US renewable utilities were widespread throughout your large country it would obviate this potential problem

        However, as far as renewable horses for courses go, Britain is an island with nowhere further than 70 miles from the coast. Tidal and wave power is therefore probably the way we should go( but completely impractical for a country such as Switzerland. :). Renewable horses for courses….

        Tonyb

      • Roger

        “As others have noted, and I did in the article, Germany has an offshore wind farm now that was bid with zero subsidies. The investors are confident they can make their profit in the market, with zero assistance from government. That is a most encouraging event.”

        You’re as mad as Griff.

        The tenders were submitted in the knowledge that with current government legislation, the windfarms couldn’t possibly fail to turn a profit as the electricity prices would be so high, it’s a no brainer.

        How on earth do you imagine tenders operate?

        They are not guesswork, or creative accounting, they are based on future legislation, insider information and government support.

        What a crock, to sell the concept of tenders as support for current wild expenditure on windfarms and evidence of their efficiency now, or in the future, is simply irresponsible and dishonest.

    • Tonyb, here is the link to the types of wind turbine generator improvements the US NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) published. This has a long list, with descriptions for rotor blades, generator systems, support towers, electronics, and more. This is from 2006. There are other improvements that we now know about.

      http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/41036.pdf

  61. This evaluation should be done on the basis that half the *baseload* power will be retired in 20 years. Nuclear and coal are 24/7. Until we have enough renewables that produce 3x the energy needed so we can store 2× the energy to distribute when the wind doesnt blow, we better keep those baseline units.

    • Until feasible grid-wide storage technology is invented it doesn’t matter if renewables produce 1000x the energy.

  62. The reason coal and nuclear plants have been shut down and more are likely to be shut down in the years to come has little to do with economics but is due to state mandates that require solar and wind power. Coal and nuclear plants are incompatable with wind and solar plants because the power supply becomes very erratic with wind gusts and clouds and make it necessary for reliable energy supplies to fill in the difference between the supply wind and solar power and the demand for power. Coal and nuclear plants have traditionally been used as base load power and run at or near full power 24 hours per day and combustion turbines used to the additional power to satisfy demand as it varys during the day. They are not practical if it is necessary to shut down, start up, and make large rapid power changes during the day. The power sources that can do this are combustion turbines and hydroelectric, thus coal and nuclear plants are being replaced by natural gas powered combustion turbines. It should be noted that need for reliable power sources isn’t significantly reduced by adding wind and solar power because they are too unreliable. Wind and solar would only be economically if the total generating costs were less than the fuel costs for the fossil fuel that could be saved. It should be noted that wind and solar may do nothing to reduce fuel costs, because they may be forcing combined cycle power plants that run at a high thermodynamic efficiency with single cycle gas turbines that are much less efficient (there was a study in England that concluded that this was the case on there system). If this is the case, then there is no possible way for wind and solar plants to make economic sense nor would they do anything to reduce CO2 emissions.

  63. In the UK they built a beautiful new 2000MW CCGT plant right next to the LNG terminal in Pembroke. It cost £1 billion. They dug up miles of main roads to lay new gas pipes.. All the transmission lines were in place from the old oil fired station. It will reliably power 8.5 million homes, shutting down 1 in 5 turbines on a regular basis for maintenance. It only requires 100 workers to produce 2000MW.

    Why in God’s name would anybody be dumb enough to try and duplicate that output by destroying the Welsh Countryside with a turbine technology straight out of the dark ages that requires miles of tracks laid, pylons, huge transporters, cranes, thousands of tons of steel and concrete, stuff imported from China etc etc etc.

    The EU want us to give them £80 billion to dump their sorry ass club into the cess pit of history and that cannot come soon enough. That money would pay for all the CCGT plant that we need. We have enough natural Shale gas under the UK to last for 500 years or until the next real technological advance arrives, probably before the end of the century.

    So why I ask again would anyone in their right mind even consider for one second covering pristine landscapes with white wind flailing monstrosities that occasionally and randomly squirt a miniscule amount of electrical power to disrupt a normally balanced grid.

    Why, Mr Sowell, why?

    • for Ivor Ward,

      I’ve been to Wales only once, back in the early 1990s, so cannot claim any expertise on the area. Had a great trip, though, just an overnight and sales presentation the next day.

      “Why in God’s name would anybody be dumb enough to try and duplicate that output by destroying the Welsh Countryside with a turbine technology straight out of the dark ages that requires miles of tracks laid, pylons, huge transporters, cranes, thousands of tons of steel and concrete, stuff imported from China etc etc etc.”

      I agree that a modern CCGT is hard to beat, on economics. Unless, of course, one is feeding it freshly vaporized LNG that cost a fortune to import.

      “The EU want us to give them £80 billion to dump their sorry ass club into the cess pit of history and that cannot come soon enough. That money would pay for all the CCGT plant that we need. We have enough natural Shale gas under the UK to last for 500 years or until the next real technological advance arrives, probably before the end of the century.”

      Pulling up the shale gas is a good solution. We do that quite a bit in some areas of the US, you probably knew that.

      ” So why I ask again would anyone in their right mind even consider for one second covering pristine landscapes with white wind flailing monstrosities that occasionally and randomly squirt a miniscule amount of electrical power to disrupt a normally balanced grid.”

      The reason we do wind turbines in the US is because we have some of the strongest and most steady winds of any country on the planet. Our Great Plains region, from Canada to Texas, and from Colorado to Missouri, has tremendous amounts of good, steady wind. This has been known for centuries, of course. It is only in the past decade, though, that the technical wrinkles were ironed out enough to build the systems in great numbers. We have, for example, a 2,000 MW wind farm that is now approved and finances arranged for 800 wind turbines in Oklahoma, with a transmission line going to the East to send the electricity to Tulsa. The project is viable even in a state with enormous natural gas resources. The wind is steady and strong in that part of Oklahoma, with wind turbines averaging 41 percent of their nameplate capacity on an annual basis.

      That is likely not the case in Wales, as I seem to recall a great many low mountains and not much flat land. Oklahoma is just the opposite, very flat land and zero mountains.

      The amount of electricity from the Oklahoma wind farm is not miniscule, though. The project will send electricity along at an average rate of just more than 800 MW. Annually, the electricity to Tulsa will be just over 7,000 GWh/y. The wind turbines will, of course, have natural gas-fired power plants as their backup. The beauty of the system is, the gas-fired plants already are installed. Now, they get to loaf along, not burning natural gas until and when the wind dies down. And in that part of Oklahoma, it almost never, ever dies down.

      • You mean the gas plants get to run inefficiently (higher real emissions like NOx and worse economics) and with increased cycling stresses which will reduce their useful lifetimes and cost everyone more. There’s going to be an awful lot of spinning reserve backing up an 800MW in feed.

      • The wind capacity in central US is 40 to 45% over a very wide area – better that the 30 to 42% range observed (based on past performance) for UK offshore wind turbines

      • Your cite is laughable, Griff. The claim is that there is already sufficient backup in the system BECAUSE the system is functioning today without wind. If wind is going to actually displace current generating capacity, then it is going to require dedicated backup. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

  64. I am not buying. Renewables will never be economical from the view point of the retail customer because he will always have to pay for two systems, one that works some of the time, and one that works when he really needs it. But, the second system, whether storage or gas turbine, sits their and accrues capital costs that must be amortized, even when it is not producing power or revenue.

    Second, even accepting that coal will fall into disuse*, nuclear’s problems are not technical. They are political and created by leftists who are still enacting the old Soviet playbook. If we had our heads on straight, and the government had not been subverted by long march of Marxists through the institutions, we would be conducting far more R&D on fourth generation nuclear power and on fusion, than on wind, which is technology that is 100 years old, or on solar. Nor are construction costs an inherent issue. Nuclear reactors can be and are built in factories for aircraft carriers and submarines.

    *Ask the Germans how that is working out. And their coal is low grade lignite.

    Third, Blowing off a 55,000 sq. mi. foot print is audacious. I doubt whether any human activity other than agriculture requires anywhere near that much land. And, you will have to pay rent for it. It ain’t free. The whole idea is pharonic. I don’t think you can get the land as long as local people are allowed a say in the matter.

    Fourth, I am very happy that all of the aeronautical engineers in China will have good jobs designing windmills for us, but I am not buying green job hype either.

    Fifth, Another cost an political problem is transmission line construction. I live in a state that has no good wind sites on shore and that has outlawed commercial use of its offshore areas, which are not that good or large. If we are to have power in the age of wind, it will have to imported from far away. Building transmission lines is expensive and fraught with political problems. It is not a simple problem to solve.

    That is it for now. I will have more objections later.

  65. There is a lot of talk here about subsidies and whether they are justifiable based on the idea that they are necessary to support increasing efficiency of new technologies. However these arguments mostly appear to be phrased in terms of the cases where such subsidies may have been effective.

    That’s the wrong way to look at it. The subsidies need to evaluated in terms of the total portfolio of subsidized renewables, not just cherry-picking ones that might actually be paying off. All the failures also need to be included–Solyndra and many others throughout the world.

    No investment manager ever gets evaluated on just the winners he selected, ignoring all the losers.

  66. Allocating an amount of real estate equivalent to the area of Iowa for wind turbines is simply out of the question. Thats almost 2% of the lower 48’s land area set aside for wind generation?

    • Actually, that’s just the gross area needed. Of that, only 1 percent or less is actually used by wind turbines and transmission towers. Whatever rural activities were going on before can continue, as they usually do.

      The point of that Iowa size statement is that it does not occupy the entire real estate of any country.

      • Excellent point Roger. Residents of Long Island will be delighted to join in the wind powered revolution. After all there is quite a bit of open space out there and you only need 1%.

        NIMBY you don’t!

      • I find it apalling quite frankly that anyone would be Ok with wind turbines occupying nearly 2% of the land area of the US. Isnt there some way to meet our electrical needs with a smaller and less conspicuous environmental footprint?
        Once drilling activities are completed, a gas well is quite inconspicous. Even open pit coal mines are temporary and eventually rehabilitated, and they take no where near this much land area.

  67. I would like to comment on the “job creation aspect.” This is almost always a bogus argument thrown in for political reasons. Labor is one part of the cost of energy production. Labor is part of the capital cost (building the plant), the operating cost (running the equipment), and fuel cost(mining, drilling etc.). Because some of these are front end only, and others continuous, it is quite hard to compare. Usually, when someone says energy production “creates” jobs, either: A) it is real jobs when energy production moves from somewhere else to one’s own country or B) it is a made up of temporary jobs involved in switching from another form of electricity generation. Furthermore, if a form of energy production has more “jobs” than another form of production, that just means its labor content is higher than other forms. If something else (e.g. fuel, capital) is not less, then the “jobs” are just part of the higher cost which is a case of “make work.” In recent history, real impact on jobs related to power generation comes from either: A) moving energy production from an imported good to domestic (e.g. US fraking) or B) lowering the cost of energy thus enabling all sorts of other economic activity to be more competitive (e.g. again US fraking).

  68. Wind and solar have many advantages and disadvantages. But the major unspoken disadvantage is that renewables have the potential to reduce the profit in non-renewables, mainly by making them a back up power source, like that generator in your garage for blackouts.

    Reducing the $$ in non-renewables will reduce the non-renewable industry and reduce their $$ into US politics.

    You guys have your big world control conspiracy theories. And I have my big oil ones. Seems like mine are real.

    • “You guys have your big world control conspiracy theories. And I have my big oil ones. Seems like mine are real.”

      How so? Hardly any of US electricity is generated from oil?

  69. I am with Roger on most, including the notion that nuclear and coal must go due to pollutants other than CO2.
    I think in Belgium they are looking at using wind offshore to pump water up to a reservoir so you can generate electricity from it like hydro exactly when you need it.
    The biggest problem with wind is that you sometimes have no wind exactly when you need power the most…

    • Henryp, thank you. Well said. The gas-fired generation perfectly solves the no-wind situation. As the wind industry slogan says, When the Wind Blows, The Power Flows.

    • Offshore wind for Belgium to pump water up a hill for later use? Last time I was in the region it look ed pretty flat. The country next door is called Pay Bas, or low lands. Belgium, the country with more roads lit up at night that any other EU country.

      • They want to build the reservoir inside the sea. Correction on previous comment: CO2 is not a pollutant. My results show there is no man made warming.

  70. This is the UK electricity generation profile for a relatively mild winter month:

    I think it illustrates the fundamental problem in expecting wind (or solar) to replace base load from any source.

    • Hi Chris!
      This diagram is indeed the fundamental answer to the whole wind energy hullabaloo! No strong! wind, – no energy!
      A glance to the Weibull distribution of the wind velocity, taking into account the poor efficiency of wind turbines shows that they are not useful for grids.
      For the case of windstill, there must always be a backup system, designed for the total load!
      The higher the share of wind power in the entire electricity production,the greater the cost increase for this.
      For proof just look at the devastating results of Merkels “Energiewende” (energy turnover) in Germany.
      But perhaps a miracle happens and Elon Musk invents an affordable! storage system, not a 30 second one like in South Australia.

  71. A basic home installation is 120A at 240V. This is Roughly 28KVA. Ignoring power factor and erring to the side in favor of wind power, let us assume that a typical home requires approximately 25KW of rated power (yes few home blow the main breaker, however the circuit must be sized to support the theoretical max demand). At that level, per this paper, an 85 Acre windfarm would be able to support 40 homes.

    I am sure many people in the US would love to have a home on 2+ acres of land, but the typical suburban tract is frequently 1/8 acre plots. Housing development therefore require almost 680 times more energy density than an “actual, modern, efficient windfarm” can produce. This of course does not include Industrial or other usages which are frequently much higher (I have yet to see a home with a 600V, 3000A switch gear installed).

    What made me think about this was the fact that I own approx 30 acres, and have a 200A service in rural use. I wondered how many homes I could supply with my property and then realized that I could barely supply myself, my closest neighbors and the country store with an “actual, modern, efficient” windfarm. On the other hand my solar roof fits within my homes footprint, and is still sized large enough to provide enough power on an annualized basis for my home. Even with this installation however I require grid connection to even out the peak generation vs peak load differentials.

    Which leads to the next point. any comment used in this article regarding to “if we could develop storage techniques” is also applicable to ANY other power generation capability, even coal fed boiler systems as they too have a minimum operating level below which the system is highly inefficient. Were steam generation used in conjunction with these hypothetical storage systems, ‘brown outs’ and ‘rolling blackouts’ would be unnecessary as the boiler based systems would be operating at maximum efficiency at all periods and the peak demand periods would simply be absorbed by the capacity of the storage systems.

  72. This piece by Roger Sowell is yet another article advocating doing something economically stupid just because one fails to do something sensible and question whether CO2 is a danger and the chief cause of Global Warming. This sort of thinking is a huge brake upon the alleviation of Global poverty and access to electrical power.

  73. Nothing says “I hate you” like wind turbines. If you overlook the extreme environmental damage, them being pushed on people that cannot fight back and destruction of a way of life…….I still can’t find anything positive to say.

  74. So Mr Sowell, how do you think your article has been received so far? Has the response identified any weaknesses in your position? Do you think your legal threat was wise?

      • Neither of us should hold our breath HotScot. He has responded to comments below but not this one, and interestingly not to the much stronger statements by Willis. On that basis I don’t expect him to give us the benefit of his reflections I sought. Who knows, maybe he’ll sue?

  75. Well, at 290 comments and counting, I’m not sure if it is worth weighing in. So, while this is probably the most factual article I have ever seen from Roger Sowell ( consider that a grudging positive Roger) it does contain some logical fallacies.

    Roger’s position (I’m paraphrasing, but he pretty much said this in both the article and his comments) is that natural gas is putting coal and nuclear out of business based on price, and so we should build more wind power. Huh? Sorry, that doesn’t follow. The notion that wind will somehow reduce demand for gas and so make it even cheaper makes no sense at all. No one replaces their cheapest power source in order to use less of it if they have high cost sources they can replace instead. If wind is REALLY economical, then it would logically replace the highest cost power sources, not the lowest cost. So the notion that gas will be made even cheaper by wind is simply illogical.

    Roger also asserts that using wind can reduce the use of peaking plants which are very expensive to operate. Again, this just isn’t logical. Sure, from time to time there will be a surge in demand and a surge in wind that coincide, keeping the peaking plant off line, but that will be a matter of chance, and the exception to the rule. In fact, the use of peaking sources is driven by two factors. One is variability of demand, and the other is variability of supply. No power source can affect demand, so leave that out of the equation, and we’re left with variability of supply. The only thing with higher variability on the supply side of the equation than wind, is solar. No matter how you cut it, introducing highly variable sources of supply into the grid has the inevitable consequence of requiring not only more frequent use of peaking sources, but also more capacity on the peaking side.

    Intermittent supply requires massive infrastructure build out that can step in on little notice. That capital and operating MUST be added to the cost of production by wind in order to have a sensible comparison. The second step in that process is to consider the cost of building a non-intermittent supply of the same scale in the first place, and look at that lifetime operating cost. This is a battle neither wind nor solar can win on economics alone. The notion that we should use wind to preserve the supply of the cheapest energy source we have is also an absurd economic analysis.

      • Y’know, I figured Roger was a lawyer, but I didn’t realize he was too pusillanimous to answer a clear, well well written, and interesting comment.

        However … it’s no surprise. People like him often run from real questions, and he’s no exception.

        Too bad. I was looking for real answers to real questions, but Roger is playing the victim card.

        w.

      • Your previous comments on earlier threads are the reason.

        For readers not familiar with the discourse between Roger and myself over the years, Roger is referring to the many times I mopped the floor with him. So many times did I expose the fallacies in his arguments that he threw a hissy fit and swore never to respond to me again. Yet here he is, responding to me, but implying that past comments of mine are a good reason to to slink away without answering me.

        I was going to let the past be the past Roger, but since you dredged it up, I’m delighted to have yet again confronted you with an argument to which you clearly have no substantive response. If you had one, I presume you would have presented it instead of whining about my previous comments. Feel free to prove me wrong Roger, and show that you do have a substantive argument instead of weak excuses for not engaging in actual debate.

        Or are you going to sue me instead? I was going to let that piece of cowardice go as well in the interest of having a rational discussion, but since you refuse to engage, I’ll call you out on that too. Threatening law suits in your article, before anyone has even commented, by a lawyer no less, is nothing more than a weak attempt to bully people into silence.

        So sue me Roger, or answer me, or say nothing at all. Any of these is far better for you than the excuse you have seized upon.

        ctm ~ good on you for getting Roger to write this article, I hope you get more articles from the other side published here (including from Roger). It makes for interesting reading, and where the author has the kahonies to engage, interesting debate.

      • Mr. Sowell – I wish you would explain to the Maryland Legislature that just passed a law requiring electricity suppliers in the state to provide at least 25 percent from renewable sources and the Public Service Commission that approved a subsidy for a large wind farm off the coast of Ocean City that the mandate and subsidy are not necessary because wind power is reliable and cheap. Then maybe consumers will not be bombarded with lies about how switching to completely renewable sources will save the planet from catastrophic climate change, although at a cost well above what we are currently paying, and Ocean City will not have to go to court to stop the sight pollution of the subsidized wind farm off their tourist flooded (now, but not necessarily later) beaches. Or maybe you are being too optimistic?

      • Mr. Sowell – I reposted my comment on your blog where there are a total of four comments so far.

    • “Intermittent supply requires massive infrastructure build out that can step in on little notice.”

      Except that a lot of time, effort and computer power has gone into making renewable output, especially wind, predictable up to a day in advance.

      and there are other solutions for frequency response/sudden demand spikes.

      • Except that a lot of time, effort and computer power has gone into making renewable output, especially wind, predictable up to a day in advance.

        Even if your assertion was true, it changes the need for a massive infrastructure build that can step in on little notice (one day is little) by nothing. nada, zip, zero.

        and there are other solutions for frequency response/sudden demand spikes.

        Arm waving. There are no low cost solutions to this problem, if you know of one, by all means tell us what it is.

  76. It’s a mistake to count on a certain supply of fracked gas … fracked wells deplete fast, secondary recovery is dicey… fracking consumes another precious commodity: fresh water…

    That leaves the nuclear and cola option. Nuclear plants are currently expensive because the anti-nuclear movement destroyed the industry so that new plants are practically bespoke, artisan crafts. Once economies of scale are restored fixed capital costs will drop again.

      • Where does the water that’s recycled come from? That’s not inconsequential amounts of consumption. And then this highly toxic slurry has to deposed of without polluting the groundwater sources.

  77. Roger, you say:

    Forging ahead, it should be remembered that another article of mine is online at WUWT (and my own blog), on the serious consequences of breaking the libel laws online. See link to “Climate Science, Free Speech and Legal Liability – Part 1.” In plain English, it is OK to disagree, but argue your points with facts, and argue politely.

    I consider this a slimy and underhanded attempt to keep people from expressing their opinions by threatening them with a lawsuit. It is a cowardly puerile despicable threat, but one that is not surprising given my past interactions with you.

    As far as I’m concerned, your legal threat makes all of your claims suspect. Since truth is a full and complete defense against libel, why on earth would you be afraid of any attacks on your ideas?

    Gotta say, I thought my opinion of you couldn’t get any lower … but you’re a superstar, so I guess any depth of depraved action is possible.

    Don’t like my opinion? Sue me. It will do nothing for your reputation and can only burnish mine.

    w.

      • ReallySkeptical August 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm Edit

        But as to the content of the post, WE has no comment. So sorry.

        As to the content of the post, I divided my response into context and content. So sorry, but I was writing my comment on the content while you were doing your usual—insulting decent people. I truly don’t understand why they allow you to post here, since you’ve already had to change your alias because you were ashamed of your words.

        You are a skidmark on the shorts of humanity … lead, follow, or STFU.

        w.

      • The content of the OP post ignores that wind is incredibly unreliable, incredibly expensive, and requires incredibly expensive intermittent fossil fueled energy for backup.

        What part of this did you miss?

        How sorry are you now? LOL

      • RS, I have great sympathy for what Willis has written. Your remark however says nothing at all in response to what Willis has written other than perhaps that he should not have expressed his opinion. Now THAT’s pathetic.

        Speaking as a retired litigation lawyer, including practice in defamation law, I would never even consider opening a conversation with a legal threat. If he feels that he has previously been defamed on WUWT then it is up to him to either seek redress or not. Proving loss of reputation is notoriously difficult in such litigation.

        Of course it is entirely a matter for Mr Sowell to practice law and otherwise conduct himself as he sees fit.

        Still think it was a good idea to tell Willis to shut up?

      • “RS, I have great sympathy for what Willis has written. Your remark however says nothing at all in response to what Willis has written other than perhaps that he should not have expressed his opinion. Now THAT’s pathetic.”

        Not really. WE whined about lawsuits, like a big baby. that’s his first criticism, how pathetic.

      • RS, we do all realise that Willis was responding to text he quoted from the article, don’t we?

        Maybe not. It certainly escaped you. After all, your objection was that “as to the content of the post, WE has no comment”.

        I am so deeply sorry that you yourself have nothing whatsoever to say about the content of the post. Absolutely ZERO.

        Such is life.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      You get all the plusses I can muster for that comment.

      Short of actually calling him a wanker, you did.

      I found some of his analysis interesting, from a layman’s point of view, that being an analysis of someone utterly unconcerned with anything other than party line numbers and puerile legalese, but to threaten everyone in the world with legal action, even before he began his submission is just as low as a snake can slither.

      Typically authoritarian, but he won’t understand the meaning of the term.

  78. Have none of these people every been down to the sea and had a look at what it does to stuff that gets put in it? What about those boat yards where they’re CONSTANTLY repairing and maintaining boats, or the BOARDWALK…looks like they’re replacing the piers and some of the structure because of corrosion and storm damage. Hey, what’s that on the BEACH (rock that has been ground into tiny particles = sand) oh it’s a rusted SHIPWRECK…but what the heck…let’s stick a billion dollars worth of equipment (that’s meant to turn and generated electricity from the wind, which doesn’t work very well even on land) but let’s try putting it in the ocean and tie it up with heavy chains and use cable to transmit the energy back to shore….I mean what could possibly go wrong?

    • And the UK has been building offshore oil and gas platforms way out in the North Sea for what – 40 years?

      And wind farms have now been operating for as much as 25 years continuously… as have sub sea cables to wind farms and across the N Sea

      Really, the corrosion is NOT an issue. We can build stuff which copes with it. Cables, platforms, turbines, turbine pylons, the lot.

      • Griff,

        Exactly! In the North Sea, offshore Alaska, (my favorite is Sakhalin Island in Russia, just north of Japan), offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Australia, offshore Africa, offshore Qatar, the oil and gas industry has decades of experience in some of the hottest waters (near Qatar) and the coldest (North Sea and Sakhalin Island). Fierce Winds and giant waves flinging salt spray on everything.

        Keep it up!

        Roger

  79. As I see it, the problem with wind power is that it seems to have a saturation level. The actual level seems to vary in different countries, probably due to different wind conditions, but it seems to be over 20% but not much above 30%. When the saturation level for a particular location is exceeded, the grid becomes unstable and brown outs and black outs start to occur. This is already happening in South Australia, and Germany has only just avoided it on several occasions, It just seems that above a certain level it is impossible to manage a grid with a large input from intermittent generators.

  80. Returning to the subject at hand, the EIA says that of all of the ways to generate power, offshore wind is the second most expensive of all of them. Only solar thermal is more expensive.

    Note that offshore wind is three times as expensive as natural gas, and that does NOT count the cost of having to keep spinning reserve backup running at all times. If it weren’t for fools like Roger advocating obscene subsidies to fulfill their green dreams, we’d never hear a word about these expensive monstrosities.

    Obviously, using the second-most expensive source of electricity will screw the poor terribly, as they are the ones least able to withstand an increase in costs.

    And equally obviously, that means Roger Sowell doesn’t give a fig about the poor … as far as he’s concerned, they’re too poor to pay his lawyer’s fees, so let them eat wind …

    w.

    • Am I reading that right — 3 beers — but is onshore wind the cheapest but for geothermal?

      Wow.

      • With an assumed 39% CF (hah!) and including the tax subsidy it barely edges out CCGT. But as Willis said this also doesn’t include the cost of backup. I suspect there’s also a CO2 cost in there but haven’t checked to confirm it.

      • But gas WILL be the backup in the future, even if it is about the same cost. This will mean that gas will drop in price even more, meaning that when we go on backup, it will be cost effective, that’s good you think?.

      • It will be substantially less cost effective than just running on gas to begin with. Human prosperity and longevity arose when we harnessed dense, DISPATCHABLE energy sources. Putting ourselves at the whims of that oh-so-gentle Gaia is a recipe for misery and lower living standards.

      • ReallySkeptical August 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm Edit

        Am I reading that right — 3 beers — but is onshore wind the cheapest but for geothermal?

        Wow.

        Nope. You’re not reading it right. What it says is that IF you pour billions in tax subsidies into renewables onshore wind is still a very expensive option. Not only that, but they’ve ignored all of the subsidies except tax subsidies, plus they’ve insisted (without evidence) that new coal plants will require CO2 sequestration, and they’ve ignored the cost of the spinning backup.

        In short … you’re not even close. Go have the rest of your beer and stop bothering the adults.

        w.

    • You don’t have to keep the spinning reserve running at all times.

      UK wind predictability is very high and the grid just turns the gas up or down according to predicted demand. It doesn’t need all its fossil fuel on spinning reserve. It doesn’t need as much as when it had all fossil. With batteries coming in for frequency response, spinning reserve drops still further

      • Cold starts are even harder on equipment and accelerate their depreciation. Somehow you think that’s a feature.

      • If wind is the answer, why then are wind producers paid to NOT produce in times of too much electricity while gas is kept going?

  81. Nice troll and click bait judging by the number of comments. I guess that is the only way WUWT would want to erode its credibility in this way. The web is full of mendacious articles flogging snake oil like this by people with an agenda who stand to profit. Why add to them? We’re suffering from very high electricity prices in Australia because of this bs. The more wind and solar the higher the prices. Fortunately 50% of Queenslanders have woken up to this according to a recent survey by The Courier Mail (aka the Brisbane fish wrapper).

    • Mike, WUWT is a place for public debate of ideas. The fact that WUWT posts a host of contrary views does not “erode its credibility” Instead, it is a sign that we are willing to discuss anyone’s ideas.

      After all, how can we show these ideas are bogus unless we post them, discuss them, and debunk them?

      Regards,

      w.

      • Eschenbach posts: “WUWT is a place for public debate of ideas.”

        Except for the fact that the ideas debated here are one-sided. It is a shame that mainstream ideas from real science are absent from this site. The fact that Sowell gets attacked for presenting facts is telling.

    • Mike Borgelt

      And as the sun rises over Aus, we get some real time experiences to refute Rogers idealistic, socialist perspective on wind generated energy.

      I’m off to bed now guys. Get stuck in.

      But be careful you don’t say anything libellous, Roger’s out to get you.

      Nighty from the land of Poms.

    • No, i think WUWT should run posts by people like Roger Sowell, an informed advocate for his cause, however bad it is, so the readers are familiar with the sort of arguments other advocates will present. Knowledge is always preferable to ignorance.
      On the other hand RS does not really price out wind properly, adding in the cost of keeping the required spinning backup idle but available. Storage is still largely vaporware as far as true grid-scale installations go.

      • I agree — an open debate is always preferred.

        Saying the “science is settled” is fascist propaganda — intended to stifle the debate, and deliberately is diametrically opposed to the Scientific Method.

  82. “On the other hand RS does not really price out wind properly, adding in the cost of keeping the required spinning backup idle but available. Storage is still largely vaporware as far as true grid-scale installations go.”

    remember the cost of people’s generators and extra fuel for temporary black outs. Not to different.

    • “remember the cost of people’s generators and extra fuel for temporary black outs. Not to(sic) different.”

      In what country?

      Never have i have experienced this in the US or any of the other countries I have lived.

      • Amazing. You have lived in the US and not had neighbors with their noisy generators in blackouts. Pretty common in snow belt states.

      • Many businesses in the US have backup generators, because they are doing things that cannot be interrupted. Hospitals nearly always have backup power. Any business that requires electricity for safety systems will have generators onsite.

    • Actually they are quite different. The extra cost of gensets is incurred to offset disruptions from unexpected acts of nature and accidents. The extra cost of backing up renewables is incurred to offset expected disruptions intrinsic to their unreliable nature. There is no justification for incurring extra costs from exchanging a stable system for an unstable one, and then using the stable system to back up the unstable one. Complete madness.

    • Temporary blackouts in the U.S. are generally due to damage to power lines from falling trees or ice storms. Those blackouts would exist regardless of the type of power being generated. Switching to renewable power would not swap one form of backup for another, but add a second system of backup, and result in more blackouts, because of the unreliability of renewables.

      • but renewables are not unreliable… the German grid is highly reliable and does not have outages, even when it has high levels of renewables

        http://energypost.eu/german-grid-operator-can-handle-70-wind-solar-storage-needed/

        https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-electricity-grid-stable-amid-energy-transition

        “Production of intermittent green electricity has risen sharply over the last few years and worries about security of supply for consumers have been voiced by the industry. But, so far, actual power blackouts have become even less of an issue. Germany still has one of the most reliable electricity grids in the world. [Update – adds 2015 figures for Germany published in October 2016]
        Germany’s power grid stability and security of supply has been rising despite a huge expansion of intermittent green electricity production. Average power outages per consumer amounted to 12 minutes and 42 seconds in 2015, according to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur). In 2014, the average outage was 12 minutes and 17 seconds. “The slight increase in supply interruptions was mainly caused by weather events such as storms and heat waves,” the agency’s president Jochen Homann said in a press release. “The energy transition and the rising share of decentral generating capacity continues not to have any negative consequences for the quality of supply.””
         

      • but renewables are not unreliable… the German grid is highly reliable and does not have outages, even when it has high levels of renewables

        First, that’s cherry-picking. Other countries or districts might be cited whose experience has been less favorable.

        Second, Germany’s reliability to date is dependent on its connection to a wider grid that does not have a high level of renewables.

        Third, Germany has occasionally put such stress on its grid partners that it has come close to destabilizing them.

  83. Roger, a well-written and cogent exposition of wind energy. I appreciate the time that you spent putting it together, which must have been considerable.

    I agree with you about nuclear energy becoming obsolete in the next 20 years or so. Regardless of what one thinks about the justness of it, nuclear energy is politically dead in this country. Once these plants reach the end of their productive lives, they will be shuttered and not replaced. We can hope and dream that fusion power will become a reality, but that is a long way off, unless an AI quantum computer can accelerate the progress. :-)

    I was surprised about your comments on coal, though. I had always heard that we had several hundred years of coal reserves. You estimate we have about 25-30 years of coal that can be mined at the current price. The article about the Powder River basin listed about 25 billion tons of reserves there that can be mined profitably. According to the US EIA, the US consumed 730 million short tons of coal in 2016 (https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30652). That works out to 34 years of reserves on just the Wind River basin source of coal. The EIA says that Montana and Wyoming have about 37% of the US Demonstrated Reserve Base (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm/index.cfm?page=coal_reserves), and the US has about 255 billion tons of Estimated Recoverable Reserves, which would be almost 350 years at today’s usage. Of course, today’s prices aren’t going to stay the same, nor will our use of coal stay the same, but it seems like we have enough for building more coal plants today if we need to, especially if the CO2 sequestration requirement is removed.

    I am not an expert in this field by any means. Am I missing something?

    Having said all of that, I can see why coal would be disfavored since we now have so much natural gas. There are a lot of good reasons to prefer NG to coal when building power plants. But that doesn’t help the argument for wind energy production.

    What is your answer to the argument that renewable energy, despite subsidies, is more expensive than coal or NG? We can’t subsidize it forever, and higher prices for consumers does act as a regressive “tax” on poor people.

    • For DeLoss McKnight, re August 5, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      “Roger, a well-written and cogent exposition of wind energy. I appreciate the time that you spent putting it together, which must have been considerable.”

      Thank you, DeLoss McKnight. I will try to respond to your questions.

      ” I agree with you about nuclear energy becoming obsolete in the next 20 years or so. Regardless of what one thinks about the justness of it, nuclear energy is politically dead in this country. Once these plants reach the end of their productive lives, they will be shuttered and not replaced. We can hope and dream that fusion power will become a reality, but that is a long way off, unless an AI quantum computer can accelerate the progress. :-)”

      I would disagree about politically dead. I see it as having tremendous political support over the Obama years, with 4 reactors started construction, federal guarantees for loans in the event of default, and state legislature support for billing the consumers for the funds with which to build. Of course, now that the four reactors are the Four Fiascos, with Westinghouse gone bankrupt, fired as contractor, and the two reactors in South Carolina declared stopped and not to be resumed, it could not be a bigger mess.

      However, as I wrote in the article, the 98 operating reactors will retire within 20 years and not be replaced. On that, we agree. I see absolutely no hope for fusion power, as I have written about at length on my own blog, SLB.

      “I was surprised about your comments on coal, though. I had always heard that we had several hundred years of coal reserves. You estimate we have about 25-30 years of coal that can be mined at the current price. The article about the Powder River basin listed about 25 billion tons of reserves there that can be mined profitably. According to the US EIA, the US consumed 730 million short tons of coal in 2016 (https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30652). That works out to 34 years of reserves on just the Wind River basin source of coal. The EIA says that Montana and Wyoming have about 37% of the US Demonstrated Reserve Base (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm/index.cfm?page=coal_reserves), and the US has about 255 billion tons of Estimated Recoverable Reserves, which would be almost 350 years at today’s usage. Of course, today’s prices aren’t going to stay the same, nor will our use of coal stay the same, but it seems like we have enough for building more coal plants today if we need to, especially if the CO2 sequestration requirement is removed.” and “I am not an expert in this field by any means. Am I missing something?”

      Coal is a fairly complicated issue, to me. But first, the estimate of 20 to 30 years of US coal remaining is not my original idea, nor my original research. That was first brought to my attention a year or two ago. I looked into it with great care, because that simply did not match what I thought was true about US coal reserves. Like most people in my generation, we were told that the US had hundreds of years of coal in our country, and we would essentially never run out. That was in the early 1960s, we were told that. But, fast forward 50 years.

      Coal also has the problem of limited resources, where low prices for coal have limited the economically recoverable reserves to less than 50 years worldwide, and approximately 25 years in the US. These are the conclusions of coal experts, who have researched and analyzed coal from all over the world. I gave one such reference in the post above, from Professor David Rutledge of Cal Tech, in the International Journal of Coal Geology. I checked his figures for the US against USGS publications, also reference given above.

      And, it all checks out. Depending on the mine-mouth price, the Powder River Basin has about 10 to 15 billion tons of coal at present price. Powder River has roughly one-third of the US coal, as you stated. That brings the profitable coal we can mine to roughly 30 to 40 billion tons. And, with recent coal production before the huge decline, at 1 to 1.2 billion tons per year, we arrive at 30/1.2 or about 25 years remaining. All that can, of course change if the price of coal climbs, or the production rate decreases.

      One might wonder if this is a false shortage, as was the peak oil prediction related to oil and gas in the 1970s. There are significant differences between coal reserves, and oil and gas reserves. The primary difference is the cost to extract. If a huge oil reserve is discovered, perhaps thousands of feet deep and offshore a few miles, it will be economic to drill and produce the oil. ExxonMobil is doing exactly that with their huge oil field offshore Russia’s east coast, the Sakhalin Island field. This oil field required drilling more than 7 miles deep and with the drilling rig located on the island, more than 7 miles horizontally under the seabed.

      Coal cannot be economically mined under such conditions. Per USGS experts, deep coal mines are uneconomic at more than 4000 feet from the surface. Also, for surface mines, or near-surface mines, no more than 10 tons of overburden can be removed for each ton of coal mined. This limits coal production to far less than the known amount of coal in the world

      ” Having said all of that, I can see why coal would be disfavored since we now have so much natural gas. There are a lot of good reasons to prefer NG to coal when building power plants. But that doesn’t help the argument for wind energy production.”

      Yes, lots of good reasons. First cost, is one. Water used for cooling is another. Weather issues for transporting coal in the winter is another. Some power plants on the Great Lakes nearly ran out and had to shut down a few winters ago. Following the load easily is another. Scrubber equipment and disposal of the pollutants is another.

      “What is your answer to the argument that renewable energy, despite subsidies, is more expensive than coal or NG? We can’t subsidize it forever, and higher prices for consumers does act as a regressive “tax” on poor people.”

      I see that wind turbine generators, onshore and in the Great Plains of the US, are competitive today with coal or natural gas. They are subsidized at the moment, true, but they are obtaining only 4.3 cents per kWh total. Coal plants with scrubbers – not CO2 removal – can not compete against that. A modern CCGT plant at $4 natural gas can compete. I don’t see the subsidies lasting forever, nor do we need them. Congress already closed the door on the subsidies, which decrease each year and end in, I believe, 2021. By that time, wind farm operators with new projects will obtain likely 4 cents per kWh by contract with the utilities, no subsidies, and make a decent profit. It is also likely that exports of LNG by 2021 will have increased natural gas prices in the US to $5, at which point even a CCGT plant would have difficulty beating the wind turbine price of 4 cents per kWh.

      In any event, the main benefit of more wind capacity and wind generation is to reduce the demand for, and price of, natural gas.

      The subsidies did their job over the years, allowed wind designers to optimize the designs to reduce installed costs and increase capacity factors. The systems are ready to stand on their own without subsidies.

    • Fusion is not a long way off. There are new designs and concepts that have made huge progress on a shoe-string..

      I’m amazed at the number of people who are ignorant of recent developments so casually mouth off on a subject of which they know absolutely nothing.

      • sarastro92
        I have been waiting over 50 years for the fusion generation that was only 10 years in the future. We will not have a reliable fusion reaction until we have control of gravity. There is only one way to contain the plasma and that is to use the same method as the only successful fusion reactor we have seen, “THE SUN”. Gravity is the only way to contain the reaction. Of course we could also develop a magnetic monopole but I don’t see that happening anytime soon either.

      • For sarastro92, re August 6, 2017 at 7:39 am

        “Fusion is not a long way off.”

        That is good to know. Will it be here in time, and in quantity, and at low cost, to replace the output of 47 nuclear plants and hundreds of coal-fired plants, in the US by 2027? The energy needed is 1,000 million MWh per year, on average. The price point to beat is 5 or 6 cents per kWh sold.

        The nameplate capacity that is needed will, of course, depend on the annual capacity factor for such fusion plants. Also, do you have off-line characteristics? Will the fusion plants themselves require any sort of backup?

        Do you have that information? I would love to see it.

      • Fusion is always 10 years in the future. The energy required to contain the fusion reaction will always be more than what the reaction produces, if this is done on the surface of the earth. The one way to actually do a fusion reactor correctly would be to capture an asteroid, and pull it into earth orbit. Drill down to the gravitational center of the asteroid, and spark the plasma there. Essentially, gravity is zero at that point, so you don’t need containment, since it is self-contained. Another advantage of using an asteroid, is that you can use the vacuum of space. Creating a vacuum on earth is another energy intensive situation. Once a plasma has been created, can simply keep feeding it, while siphoning off a portion of the energy. Transmit the energy to the earth by converting it into a microwave frequency that will not be attenuated by the atmosphere.

      • Bergin… you’re just repeating yourself, only louder. You can find out about the privately funded, anuetronic fusion devices.

        You can compare these designs to the current (dead-end approaches) (Part 1)

      • Roger… we’ll know for sure by Qtr 1 2018 whether the LPPFusion device can achieve the required density to generate net fusion… commercialization will take a few more years after that… so yes, it’s quite feasible to have 5MW reactors in the early years of the 20’s…. we’ll have abetter idea in 9 months… this is not a 50 year project

        For progress reports see: (parts 4 and 5)

  84. The floating butcher is back! Hack them to pieces! They will disappear in the sea. No more evidence of mass slaughter

    Giant blades better than machete in hacking birds

  85. All the talk of the economics of wind in excrutiating detail misses the point.
    Wherever there is penetration of wind and solar into the “market” * the price of electricity rises sharply. There was a post on this recently on WUWT.
    Australia is a world champion in this regard as our cost went up twice as much relative to percentage of “renewables” as the average of the rest of the world.
    Wind isn’t ever going to get much better from an efficiency pov. The devices are already close to the theoretical limit on how much energy you can extract from the wind going by. IIRC it is just under 60%. This makes sense as you cannot stop the wind completely and extract all the kinetic energy from the area intercepted by the device.
    Solar is always limited by the rotation of the Earth and clouds, well Earth based is.
    Grid scale storage doesn’t seem to be happening with any great speed. Note that if it was economically feasible there has been great economic incentive to develop and use it as power stations would not have to be so large to cope with fluctuations in demand. After 100 years or so of grid electricity we haven’t developed it.
    I notice Willis’s EIA table doesn’t show the capacity factor or cost of coal with no carbon dioxide capture and sequestration. I prefer that the CO2 be “sequestered” in the atmosphere where it can be recycled by plants.
    Further evidence of the uselessness of wind is the fact that in the first world wind powered boats are for the main, for pleasure only. The commercial world, as soon as steam engines became good enough breathed a sigh of relief and said “thank god we can get rid of the damned sails”. Likewise natural energy powered aircraft (sailplanes, hang gliders, paragliders) are just for fun.
    Sorry Willis, I am truly sick of the green scam which is damaging our civilization economically and morally while enriching the likes of Al Gore and associated hangers on. It gets enough oxygen elsewhere, ad nauseum.
    * I use the word “market” advisedly as except in a few niche applications nobody would bother with wind or solar on a large scale unless governments hold guns to people’s heads (it’s what they do, otherwise nobody would take notice of them) . The experiments have been done (see South Australia, Denmark, Germany etc) and these are uneconomic electrical energy sources compared to coal.

  86. Mr. Sowell, in many cases the escalating costs of nuclear power plants are related to the numerous lawsuits which are brought (my opinion, with nothing at hand to back it up, other than direct work-related experience). If wind farms become common across America, it is possible that there could be lawsuits brought against them, perhaps while in the planning stage. Some towns have already had problems with even one or two wind turbines, because of complaints about noise, vibration, light pollution, and the killing of various winged creatures. Do you foresee there being any legal problems with expanding wind farms throughout the US, especially if they are located near dwelling areas?

    • For Janice The American Elder, re August 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      “Mr. Sowell, in many cases the escalating costs of nuclear power plants are related to the numerous lawsuits which are brought (my opinion, with nothing at hand to back it up, other than direct work-related experience).”

      I heard that, too.

      “If wind farms become common across America, it is possible that there could be lawsuits brought against them, perhaps while in the planning stage. Some towns have already had problems with even one or two wind turbines, because of complaints about noise, vibration, light pollution, and the killing of various winged creatures. Do you foresee there being any legal problems with expanding wind farms throughout the US, especially if they are located near dwelling areas?”

      Wind farms are already common across America, with more than 84,000 MW of capacity installed. I believe the average turbine is approximately 1 MW, some larger and many are smaller. Per the AWEA, American Wind Energy Association, the number is approximately 52,000 turbines already in place. The turbines are usually welcomed by the ranchers and farmers, who obtain extra cash income from leasing a very small portion of their land for as much as 25 years.

      My law practice does not include defending nor filing lawsuits against wind turbine generator projects, so I really cannot comment on your question. I addition, I never address a legal issue on a public forum such as this. I must give you the stock answer every attorney is bound to give, that is to gently suggest that you contact an attorney with experience in that particular matter for any legal advice. Your local Bar Association can assist you in finding an attorney.

      • Roger Sowell August 5, 2017 at 11:04 pm Edit

        For Janice The American Elder, re August 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        “If wind farms become common across America, it is possible that there could be lawsuits brought against them, perhaps while in the planning stage. Some towns have already had problems with even one or two wind turbines, because of complaints about noise, vibration, light pollution, and the killing of various winged creatures. Do you foresee there being any legal problems with expanding wind farms throughout the US, especially if they are located near dwelling areas?”

        My law practice does not include defending nor filing lawsuits against wind turbine generator projects, so I really cannot comment on your question. I addition, I never address a legal issue on a public forum such as this. I must give you the stock answer every attorney is bound to give, that is to gently suggest that you contact an attorney with experience in that particular matter for any legal advice. Your local Bar Association can assist you in finding an attorney.

        Roger, she did not ask a legal question. Nor did she ask you to “address a legal issue”.

        She asked whether in your opinion increasing wind farms would lead to increasing lawsuits. She didn’t ask about laws, or whether they were or are being broken. She asked NOTHING about the law.

        Your refusal to answer such a simple, non-legal question highlights why people hate lawyers—you hide behind the law when you are unwilling to answer, and you threaten with the law when it doesn’t go your way.

        The question is quite simple to answer. There have been an increasing number of lawsuits against wind farms. Any fool can see that if wind farms increase, it is very probable that lawsuits will also increase.

        Anyhow, I’ve answered since you were too scared to reply.

        You’re welcome,

        w.

        PS—For someone claiming to never address a legal issue on a public forum, it’s hard to see how you justify publicly threatening legal action against people who point out that Emperor Sowell has no clothes … surely that’s a legal issue, no?

      • Mr. Sowell, I appreciate your time in formulating a response to my question. Since I specifically asked about wind farms that are located near dwellings, and you obfuscated by replying about farms and ranches, I can only assume that there have been increasing amounts of lawsuits against wind farms, when they are located close to dwellings. This will most likely, as it as done in the case of nuclear power plants, raise the costs associated with producing power, and thus price themselves out of the market. Having seen this done quite successfully by the various environmental groups, it seems quite entertaining to see the same environmental groups assail the supposedly “green” wind farms for similar problems.

        Sometimes, when someone beats-around-the-bush in an answer, it is more telling than if they simply answered the question in a straightforward manner. Thank you for answering my question.

      • Roger Sowell;
        I never address a legal issue on a public forum such as this.

        You mean other than right in your own article? Did you forget what you wrote already?

        You make it SO easy to mop the floor with you.

  87. Sitting in the back of Hearing Room 4, Lois Lane of The Daily Planet listened intently, taking copious notes. Back at her desk, after a wistful glance at Clark Kent, she typed her article:

    WUWTland — August 5, 2017 — Today, at the county courthouse, California attorney Roger Sowell argued for adoption of The Big Wind Plan. After a 2-hour opening statement, he rested his case largely skipping the fact-finding stage, only making an offer of a few pieces of evidence (perhaps it is classified information?) and addressed some of the concerns raised in the energetic public forum which followed.

    Several people stood up and warmly praised Mr. Sowell, but the majority of the highly educated audience vigorously disputed his claims. At the end of the evening, the commissioners voted 4 to 1 to reject his proposal. “The figures just didn’t add up,” said Commissioner Cruncher, “and ‘I’m sure that’ and ‘it’s bound to happen’ just didn’t cut it.”

    The Planet talked with some of those present:

    “Over and over he just kept making conclusory statements citing no, and I mean NO evidence for them. Oh, sure, he had a few cites, but mostly he just pounded the table,” said John Applebee. “I’m an engineer and I can tell you that what he said was not convincing.”

    “He’s a pretty slick talker,” said Portia Pound, “he could make a good living selling stuff. As far as convincing anyone who has read about this topic at all, however, he fell far short.”

    “I don’t think he counted on so many informed, technically saavy, people being here today,” said Yosemite Sam, “they shot so many holes in that windjammer of his, they blasted him to smithereens!”

    “But, he did write a really good essay, there, you know,” said Shipley Pith. “He knows a lot, that’s for sure, and he is right about cats killing birds, you know.”

    “And he just really, really, seemed to care. That’s why I voted for his idea,” Commissioner Luke Warner said.

    In response to The Planet’s asking Mr. Sowell for his reaction to some quotes taken from the public forum today, he would only say, “I can sue anyone here for libel if I want to. That’s all I have to say.” Asked if he was having second thoughts about any of his presentation, he said, “Absolutely not.” Asked for “any final words?” he replied, “Nuclear power is evil. That’s all I have to say.”

    Lois Lane
    The Daily Planet

    #(:))

      • Aw, U.K.. Thanks, so much, for that. You encouraged me that first day I commented, back in April, 2013, and you are still doing it. What a guy. Take care, out there, James C..

    • Correction to our article about The Big Wind Plan of last week: Roger Sowell wrote to tell us that he said, I can sue anyone here {at the hearing} for slander, not libel as we mistakenly reported.

      • For Ms. Moore, herself an attorney:

        Very funny. Nice try, actually.

        Go Wind!!!! When the Wind Blows, The Power Flows!!!!

        (And did I somehow miss all the astute words from you on the substance of this post, the facts, the economics, nuclear plant closures, the more than 450 pages of evidence provided by Statoil ASA in their Environmental Statement, or any other material matter? Who is the one actually pounding the table here?)

        Surely the real Lois Lane would not have missed such a golden opportunity to show the world how smart she really is, and strive desperately to impress her Clark Kent?

      • Roger Sowell August 5, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        For Ms. Moore, herself an attorney:

        Very funny. Nice try, actually.

        Go Wind!!!! When the Wind Blows, The Power Flows!!!!

        (And did I somehow miss all the astute words from you on the substance of this post, the facts, the economics, nuclear plant closures, the more than 450 pages of evidence provided by Statoil ASA in their Environmental Statement, or any other material matter? Who is the one actually pounding the table here?)

        Surely the real Lois Lane would not have missed such a golden opportunity to show the world how smart she really is, and strive desperately to impress her Clark Kent?

        Dude, you are truly losing the plot. People have posted dozens of objections to your foolish claims, objections which you have somehow neglected to answer. For example, I’ve shown that offshore wind is the second most expensive way to generate electricity, with only solar thermal being a larger pile of overpriced moose droppings … but nooooo, that doesn’t merit an answer.

        Instead, you apply your massively stupendous intellect to oppose Janice’s satire because it didn’t contain citations … miss the point much? That’s like objecting to Gulliver’s Travels because it didn’t contain verifiable evidence that tiny Lilliputians actually exist … it’s SATIRE, son, not a factual exposition.

        The ugly truth is that people are pointing and laughing at you for being an officious, pompous, legalistic, paternalistic, threatening jerk. My suggestion? Quit while you’re behind, remember the first rule of holes.

        w.

  88. Roger Sowell says:

    The deaths are not the only issue, either. It is now well-established that operating nuclear power plants cause unusually high incidents of cancers in children living nearby.

    Extremely doubtful, I can find no supporting evidence. Citation?

    w.

    • http://www.idph.state.il.us/cancer/ERS12-05_Childhood_Cancer_Incidence_Nuclear_Power_Plants.pdf

      Childhood Cancer Incidence in Proximity to Nuclear Power Plants in Illinois
      November 2012

      [Abstract]
      The objective of this study was to examine childhood cancer incidence in proximity to nuclear power plants in Illinois. Cancer cases diagnosed among Illinois children 0 to 14 years old from 1986 through 2005 were included in the study. Standardized incidence ratio (SIR) was calculated for the geographic zones defined by the proximity to nuclear power plants.

      The results show that children living within 10 miles of any nuclear power plant did not have significant increase in incidence for
      leukemia (period 1986-1995: SIR=0.85 [95% confidence interval,
      CI: 0.54-1.26]; period 1996-2005: 1.23 [0.91-1.64]),
      lymphomas (period 1986-1995: 1.38 [0.77-2.27]; period 1996-2005: 0.77 [0.37-1.42]),
      or other cancer sites.

      Neither did the children living 10 to 20 miles or 20 to 30 miles from any nuclear power plants. This study did not find any significant childhood cancer excess among children living near nuclear plants and did not observe any dose-response patterns.

  89. My thoughts based on a history in the utility industry on the environmental side.

    I disagree with the presumption that prices will remain the same. In my experience in the utility industry one the primary drivers to keep prices low was fuel diversity. As long as there were options utility companies could play one fuel off the other to keep the price down. When natural gas is the only game in town that can provide dispatchable power then they can charge whatever they want and the price will go up. Most importantly when renewables make up a large percentage of the power provided prices have gone up sharply.

    I disagree with the position that pollution costs were the primary driver for coal plant retirements. I know of two plants in NY that met all the control limits on the books but could not make money with the gas prices. That is the primary thing preventing new coal units. As long as there is no CCS requirement a super critical unit with FGD, SCR and baghouse can meet all the control requirements.

    I agree that nuclear power’s days are numbered because new plants using the existing paradigm for construction are far too expensive.

    In my opinion the fatal flaw in the wind argument is dispatchability. At some point wind has to be paired with storage to support the system and there is no sign that adequate storage is going to be available at a reasonable price anytime soon. The presumption that gas units will be built to provide backup to wind is not based on a rational business plan. Who is going to build gas that can make money doing that?

  90. 1. What incentive would there be for an entity to build, maintain, and staff a backup generating facility if that facility only has access to the market during times when the wind doesnt blow?
    2. Would the backup facility be compensated at the same rate as wind generated power?
    3. If the same entity owns both wind AND fossil fuel assets, what incentive would there be for that entity to NOT to simply use the asset with the lower operation and maintainance cost?

    • Steve R:

      With respect, you miss the point.

      Electricity generation, costs and efficiencies are not relevant because windfarms ONLY exist to reap subsidies,

      Richard

    • I’m not sure what that chart purports to show but here is the gross electricity generation by fuel source for Germany as of 2015 (Energy Information Agency):

      As you can see the ‘renewables’ in Germany are simply replacing nuclear with no net reduction in fossil fuels, if that’s the concern.
      And here is the cost:

      • Well Chris, the decision to suddenly switch off nearly half of Germany’s reactors mid way through 2011 probably shaped that chart a little.

        (The renewables percentage went to 32.5% in 2016 and 35% in first half 2017)

  91. I have no problem with wind, except
    1.) no subsidies or preferential purchase price whatsoever
    2.) cost of backup generating/temporary storage capacity due to varying output
    3.) and cost of grid upgrade necessary should be included
    4.) the full environmental impact should be acknowledged and paid for, including
    a.) insanely high level of low frequency (~1 Hz) infrasound noise
    b.) dense network of heavy duty roads necessary for construction and maintenance
    c.) environmental impact of wind turbine production &. road network construction

    However, if these costs are included, wind power is not competitive. Especially if CO2 output of coal burning is not considered a pollutant, only sulfur, dust &. such.

  92. There is another good paper in the European Physical Journal Plus (2016) by F. Wagner titled “Surplus from and storage of electricity generated by intermittent sources” which comes to a similar conclusion that the VGB Powertech study I mentioned in my previous comment. Link to this open-access paper in English is here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1140/epjp/i2016-16445-3
    The author concludes that “A back-up system is necessary with the power of 89% of peak load” and “By 2022, an extremely oversized power supply system has to be created, which can be expected to continue running down spot-market electricity prices”.

  93. I’ve not seen such a good looking pig for….. well………years maybe…………….EVAH.

    So the windmill is offshore but not far and lot’s of people live by the seaside.
    =Two quite disconnected facts – people do not live where it is as windy as he11.
    The electricity therefore has to be moved huge distance to get to the consumers.

    Cor gee whizz wow! “Cables are 0.5M in diameter” Yeah right, my willy is bigger than a big thing.
    (Do pay attention out there, The Girls are NOT impressed)
    And cables are made of what apart from copper (you are gonna go and bring it home when you’ve finished?)
    There’s no polythene/polypropylene or ‘oil’ involved by any chance?

    So Statoil have epic experience of ‘structures in the North Sea’?
    (Hello girls, impressed yet? Thought not.)
    So why are these things so goddam expensive. Its a floating thing (=ship: been around for millennia) with a windmill attached. Permanently anchored ship at that. Experience at milkiing taxpayers although to be fair, governments shamelessly milk the oil-companies.
    Then add punitive duty to the refined product the punters buy & use – stuff they use to keep the entire economy going hence and able to buy crocks like these.
    Cronyism at its finest.

    At 21cents/kWh it is competitive with current peaker-plant?
    But these are not peakers. They are given priority access to the grid, people are FORCED to pay for every watt of energy these things make while much cheaper stuff natural gas is ‘saved’
    Are you *completely* nuts?
    By example here in UK, Hinckley Point (HP) nuclear is expected to produce electricity at half that price and most people are raving about how expensive that is.
    And HP is only expensive because all the safety obsessed and generally paranoid bizzies make it so, by a factor of 4 or 5.
    Then, it goes from bad to utterly appalling, you want to store the windmill’s energy in an underwater bubble.
    So bang goes half your power: hence you have to double the price.

    Save in the knowledge that the cost will soon come down by 60%

    When, where (apart from arguably semiconductor tech – which this thing is NOT) did such a thing ever happen?

    In all, what we see here is Magical Thinking at its very finest.
    Those pin-dancing faeries are all perfectly made-up, wearing immaculate costumes, not a hair out of place and with impeccable timing, go through their complicated choreography.

    And we all hopefully by now recognise a socialist crock when we see one – just need to count the words.

  94. Roger: Let me offer another viewpoint on the economics of wind power – but by starting with the peaker plants in CA that used to be OC-Gas. Since a peaker plant may run only 10% of the time, the most important aspect of a peaker plant is its fixed cost – which must be paid for during 10% of the year. Therefore the most economical way to meet peak demand is with a plant with the lowest capital cost. Their high fuel cost is relatively unimportant, because customers are only paying that high cost 10% of the year. In THIS market, replacing OC-Gas with CC-Gas nearly doubles the real cost of electricity to customers, because they are paying most for fixed costs. Here the LCOE is grossly misleading. The cost of switching to CC-Gas may be much high than the SCC of the CO2 emission that is mitigated.

    The opposite is true for plants meeting base load demand: Their high fixed costs can be spread over nearly the whole year and it is most important to pay a low cost for fuel. This is the market where nuclear is an attractive low-carbon technology. The optimal mix of fix and capital costs for generation plants changes with the fraction of time a plant is producing to meet demand.

    Finally, because long-distance transmission lines are very expensive and have limited capacity, the electricity market place is mostly a series of LOCAL MARKETS shaped by the existing demand, production, transmission lines and supply networks (natural gas is delivered by pipeline, coal by train). Now, what happens when naive legislators distort what may have been a somewhat optimal mix of generating technologies by demand use of wind and solar. And the DoE starts publicizing LCOEs that don’t reflect local economic factors.

    First, let’s recognize that wind and solar compete in the high capital cost / low fuel cost segment of the marketplace. They are most likely to displace nuclear power, which is under assault from regulators and the low cost of natural gas. To the extent they reduce the incentive to keep nuclear plants operating, wind and solar do nothing to help reduce CO2 emissions!

    This brings us to the problem many others have focused on: WInd is not dispatchable and therefore can’t meet base load demand on its own. Customers need to pay the capital cost of having a fossil fuel plant standing by to meet base load demand when the wind is weak. To the extent that wind is variable from hour to hour, that back up fossil fuel plant needs to be running in spinning reserve mode and emitting CO2! The remaining marketplace shifts from minimizing fuel cost to minimizing capital cost.

    So customers end up paying far more than the LCOE for wind power: 1) The capital cost of the fossil fuel backup plant that replaces wind when wind is weak. 2) The fuel and other variable costs of the fossil fuel backup plant operating in spinning reserved wind output can’t be forecast with the accuracy that meeting demand requires. 3) The cost of new transmission lines that would otherwise be unnecessary. That doesn’t include the other costs that don’t show up on customers bills: feed-in tariffs paid by the government, the PTC, financing incentives, etc.

    All kWh of electricity are not equally valuable. If the law of supply and demand operated in this market, one would quickly see that wind power is not worth its levelized cost of production. The owner of an older, now decommissioned, wind farm was asked by the local paper why he wasn’t installing new efficient turbines at his site that already contained valuable infrastructure. He said: “Nobody wants to buy electricity in Alberta when the wind is blowing! This is the law of supply and demand operating and its consequences get more severe as market penetrance increases. The owner said he was waiting for government incentives and regulations to guarantee a market and price for his product that currently doesn’t exist. And probably still wouldn’t exist with a carbon tax.

      • Tell how the failure of the interconnects will affect local electrical consumers. Please don’t tell me how reliable they are. They are mechanical and will fail at some point in time. What happens when they are not available? Todays generators and transmission lines have been designed to handle some of these failures. Are these capable of that or are we walking toward a cliff?

    • For Frank, re August 6, 2017 at 3:25 am

      Long, but I will try to respond to some of your comments.

      “Roger: Let me offer another viewpoint on the economics of wind power – but by starting with the peaker plants in CA that used to be OC-Gas. Since a peaker plant may run only 10% of the time, the most important aspect of a peaker plant is its fixed cost – which must be paid for during 10% of the year. Therefore the most economical way to meet peak demand is with a plant with the lowest capital cost. Their high fuel cost is relatively unimportant, because customers are only paying that high cost 10% of the year. In THIS market, replacing OC-Gas with CC-Gas nearly doubles the real cost of electricity to customers, because they are paying most for fixed costs. Here the LCOE is grossly misleading. The cost of switching to CC-Gas may be much high than the SCC of the CO2 emission that is mitigated.”

      Switching to CCGT is a moot point in California, where simple cycle plants were outlawed a few years ago. In addition, having CCGT allows the plants to run as either peaker or load following, even baseload as the grid operator chooses. Finally, grid-scale batteries are already the right choice instead of a simple cycle gas turbine.

      “The opposite is true for plants meeting base load demand: Their high fixed costs can be spread over nearly the whole year and it is most important to pay a low cost for fuel. This is the market where nuclear is an attractive low-carbon technology. The optimal mix of fix and capital costs for generation plants changes with the fraction of time a plant is producing to meet demand.”

      That is only true where the installed costs of nuclear are reasonable. Here in the US, the installed cost of new nuclear is demonstrated to be more than $10,000 per kW. There is no scenario in which such expensive baseload power is justified. Hence, the Four Fiascos either already stopped construction (South Carolina) or will soon make that decision (in Georgia at Vogtle)

      “Finally, because long-distance transmission lines are very expensive and have limited capacity, the electricity market place is mostly a series of LOCAL MARKETS shaped by the existing demand, production, transmission lines and supply networks (natural gas is delivered by pipeline, coal by train). Now, what happens when naive legislators distort what may have been a somewhat optimal mix of generating technologies by demand use of wind and solar. And the DoE starts publicizing LCOEs that don’t reflect local economic factors.”

      The legislators may not be as naive as you believe. The fact is, the US had major national policy issues in the 1970s and 80s that were responded to. See my comment of an hour or so ago , look for the keyword “PURPA”.

      “First, let’s recognize that wind and solar compete in the high capital cost / low fuel cost segment of the marketplace. They are most likely to displace nuclear power, which is under assault from regulators and the low cost of natural gas. To the extent they reduce the incentive to keep nuclear plants operating, wind and solar do nothing to help reduce CO2 emissions!”

      No, wind and solar do not compete, they enjoy government mandates such as PURPA and other state laws.

      Nuclear power is displacing itself due to outrageously high capital costs. It needs no assist from wind or solar. Regulators do not assault nuclear, quite the contrary, they coddle and nurse it along to keep the existing plants operating. See my earlier comments on this.

      Reducing CO2 emissions is not the point of this article. Wind and solar produce no real pollutants. CO2 is not an issue.

      “This brings us to the problem many others have focused on: WInd is not dispatchable and therefore can’t meet base load demand on its own. Customers need to pay the capital cost of having a fossil fuel plant standing by to meet base load demand when the wind is weak. To the extent that wind is variable from hour to hour, that back up fossil fuel plant needs to be running in spinning reserve mode and emitting CO2! The remaining marketplace shifts from minimizing fuel cost to minimizing capital cost.”

      Another statement that confuses baseload with dispatchability. Wind energy is not baseload energy, not until economic grid-scale storage is widespread. That is not yet available (widespread grid-scale storage), but will soon be. Even then, wind with storage will rarely be baseload because it is far too valuable as peak load.

      Baseload is the capacity that runs steadily, day and night. Variable load is what the dispatcher calls to have various power plants either ramp up, ramp down, start up and stand by, or shut down. Load following is a high-end form of variable load. Wind energy is in a class by itself, although possibly with solar.

      Again, a false statement, this one about spinning reserve. Yes, a conventional power plant with a rotating generator that runs at part load has some spinning reserve, that is the difference between maximum output and actual output. For example, a 500 MW plant at 60 percent load will have 300 MW output, and 200 MW of spinning reserve. If called upon, the plant can ramp up output to provide another 200 MW of power.

      What is commonly mis-stated is the CO2 emissions from a part-loaded power plant. The CO2 is from the power that is actually produced. Very, very little CO2 is due to the spinning reserve portion. A power plant has a very slight efficiency reduction when load is reduced from full to part-load. In no case that I have ever seen or heard of, has efficiency cut in half when load was cut in half.

      You are also confusing daily operations with long-term utility planning and economics. On a daily basis, the grid operator does not care about the fixed costs that are or are not allocated across power plants. The grid operator strives to minimize the variable cost of energy at that moment, while being prudent in his choices to continue to operate the grid safely and reliably. Also, he must plan ahead at least several hours to ensure sufficient power is ready and running when he calls for it.

      “So customers end up paying far more than the LCOE for wind power: 1) The capital cost of the fossil fuel backup plant that replaces wind when wind is weak. 2) The fuel and other variable costs of the fossil fuel backup plant operating in spinning reserved wind output can’t be forecast with the accuracy that meeting demand requires. 3) The cost of new transmission lines that would otherwise be unnecessary. That doesn’t include the other costs that don’t show up on customers bills: feed-in tariffs paid by the government, the PTC, financing incentives, etc.”

      No. The customers end up paying less when wind turbine generators are on the grid. At least until this point, utilities pay a fraction of what the wind plant owner receives. Recently, wind auctions in the Great Plains went for 2 cents per kWh from the utility, and 2.3 cents per kWh from government tax credits. So, the utility pays 2 cents for power, and can back down his highest cost incremental power plants. Those most definitely have more than 2 cents per kWh in fuel costs.

      As I wrote above, spinning reserve costs very, very little. Another fact is that the grid operator must have a certain amount of spinning reserve anyway, to allow for sudden shutdowns of the largest plant on the grid. All the wind turbine plants do is slightly increase the amount of spinning reserve that is already there.

      “All kWh of electricity are not equally valuable. If the law of supply and demand operated in this market, one would quickly see that wind power is not worth its levelized cost of production.”

      That first part is finally something I can agree with. All kWh are not equally valuable. The value of wind energy is superb when it can offsets a peaker power plant from running. Wind energy power is also superb when it reduces the entire amount of natural gas the utility must purchase. Wind energy is even more valuable as the knock-on effects of cheaper natural gas percolate throughout the economy.

      In fact, wind power is worth far, far more than the 2 cents per kWh the utility pays for it. That is exactly why utility companies are eager for wind farm owners to build more wind capacity.

  95. The presentation of regulatory burdens on coal generation as a “fact” suggests that these rules are independent externalities. They are not. Similarly, the assessment of economically recoverable reserves based on current pricing is a non sequitur.

    Renewables will dominate when the marginal cost of producing renewable energy drops below the marginal cost of non-renewable energy. Leave it to the ingenuity of individuals to figure out the rest. No collection of bureaucrats and academics, no matter how many conferences they speak at or letters they place after their names, can engineer a solution.

    • For D P Laurable

      “Renewables will dominate when the marginal cost of producing renewable energy drops below the marginal cost of non-renewable energy.”

      That point has already occurred. The highest-cost non-renewable energy, electricity, is the peaker power plant that has a simple cycle gas turbine. Wind turbine generators, and solar PV at grid-scale where sun is adequate (such as Western Arizona and Southern California) already provide renewable energy at costs far below the gas turbine.

      The problem of not having the renewable power when it is needed is also solved economically. Southern California Edison, one of three major utilities in California, reduced overall operating costs by purchasing and installing a stationary battery that is charged by solar in the day, or wind at night. The battery then discharges when needed, to let a peaker plant sit idle.

      “Leave it to the ingenuity of individuals to figure out the rest. No collection of bureaucrats and academics, no matter how many conferences they speak at or letters they place after their names, can engineer a solution.”

      Bureaucrats and academics usually get it wrong, but in the case of wind turbine generators, they got it right. The decade or longer support for research and development allowed great progress in reducing costs and increasing output. Installed costs today are one-third that of just 7 years ago, while capacity factors have increased. The breakeven price to attract investors has declined from 30 cents per kWh to less than 5 cents.

      • Peaker plants may be expensive but steady load natural gas or coal is cheap. Cherry picking does not make your scientific argument stronger.

        I have had this debate elsewhere, but lithium ion battery storage facilities are very expensive and not true utility scale. They simply do not have the capacity to “let a peaker plant sit idle”. They may bridge brief interruptions, but nothing more. Also batteries have limited lifespans, and nominal capacities are far higher than available capacities because deep drawing lithium ion cells dramatically shortens their lifespan. It will always be cheaper to run the peaker plant than replace the batteries. On top of a high installation cost, there is a short useful life. Even Tesla batteries have to be replaced after a few years.

        Moreover, the hazard of true utility scale battery storage, even if it can be a achieved, cannot be overstated.

        I would be more receptive to renewables if there was less clever wordplay and more dispassionate factual analysis. But the vast majority of the wordplay comes from proponents, and it makes it difficult to accept anything they say on faith.

        I am a lawyer, and so are you. I recognize the techniques of the trade. Time to go back and reread the file.

      • D P Laurable

        Your conclusory statements are not based on the facts in evidence, here in Southern California. Southern California Edison, one of the big utilities in California, obtained approval from the California Public Utility Commission to purchase and install just such a grid-scale battery in Los Angeles to allow the idling of a gas-fired peaker plant.

        Furthermore, two even larger grid-scale batteries are either in use or soon will be near San Diego.

        In addition, as I have made the points on other comments, the economics for grid-scale batteries are improving rapidly year-over-year. With demonstrated improvements, government is correct in approving such projects.

        But, opposing counsel will of course disagree.

        The facts will show which side is right.

        My side has 84,000 GW of wind turbines installed in the US, with cost reductions and output improvements demonstrated by actual installations over several years. The wind turbine generators have reached grid parity and no longer require government assistance.

        Data on Grid scale battery installations can be viewed at the well-known DOE database, https://www.energystorageexchange.org/projects

        Over to you, counselor.

  96. Many commenters mention the issue of intermittency and backup, but that’s not the whole story. The electricity network needs reactive power for voltage control, and active response for frequency control. These services cannot be transported long distances where the network has bottlenecks. Renewables do not provide these services (in fact they may even increase demand for them), and this is one of the reasons why renewable penetration is inherently limited.

    Practical networks will therefore rely on a satisfactory distribution of power stations which can provide these ancillary services, and renewable penetration will be limited at some “nodal” level unique to each network.

    On the topic of fossil-fired generators being relegated to a backup for renewables, this is highly questionable. This can be characterised as holding a mission-critical option. There is a big difference between the cost of gas supply in the context of a “base load” fuel, and the cost of gas supply as a mission-critical option which may be exercised intermittently. Gas supply would therefore be risky and expensive.

    Storage is discussed a lot, but pumped storage and batteries only provide for a few hours’ of demand at best.

    When considering how much energy will be available from storage to secure supply, we should not assume capacity (as though fully charged). The maximum option value of pumped storage and batteries is achieved at partial charging as this maintains maximum flexibility to respond to emergent requirements.

    Storing energy involves losing at least 20% of the energy put in for large scale practical devices. Pumped storage and batteries are quite an expensive form of storage due to turnaround efficiency.

    Coal fired power stations have the ability to store huge amounts of energy an can provide storage to cater for weeks or months. And they only convert the energy once, so do the do not suffer cost of turnaround loss.

    For this reason, at least some level of coal fired capacity will continue to have a place in the energy mix for the foreseeable future. And given the need to secure MW (not just GJ) it will be a lot more than one or two power stations.

    • “and active response for frequency control.”

      This is how the UK’s National Grid is responding to the need for frequency response in an environment with high levels of renewables:
      http://media.nationalgrid.com/press-releases/uk-press-releases/corporate-news/national-grid-brings-forward-new-technology-with-enhanced-frequency-response-contracts/

      “National Grid is responsible for managing energy supply and demand across Great Britain and to do this system frequency must be maintained at 50Hz. The fast changing energy landscape and increasing amount of renewable generation on the system that results in frequency volatility has required National Grid to develop new and innovative ways to manage frequency to ensure that energy keeps flowing to where it is needed.

      The Enhanced Frequency Response tender has been developed to bring forward new technologies that support the decarbonisation of the energy industry by providing a fast response solution to system volatility. Previously the fastest frequency response was delivered in under ten seconds, however, a new class of technology means this response can now happen in under a second.

      This enhanced ability to control variations in frequency almost immediately will result in reduced costs of approximately 200 million pounds and streamline services to make them as efficient as possible meaning reduced costs for the end consumer.

      Bids have been received from 37 providers, the majority of which are from battery assets and of these eight have been accepted, the details of which can be found on the National Grid website. Of the 64 unique sites taking part, 61 are for battery assets, 2 from demand reduction and one from thermal generation”

      • So we are now adding even more capital and expense costs in order to use wind and solar power. Are these costs going to be directly paid for by the wind and solar suppliers, the gas, coal, and nuclear plants, or the consumers?

        Tell us how many poor are going to go without power for each additional dollar required to allow wind and solar on the electrical grid. To me, this should be the most fundamental calculation done before any more is done.

  97. The noise thing with wind turbines off-shore “might” be better, “might” be worse for the aquatics. On-shore wind turbine noise is, to me, absolutely horrible.

    Radio frequency transmission from these (insert expletive here), is created at height and disrupts other radio transmissions that are desirable very well. I can see why they would want to put them off-shore.

    Efficiency of the power created, (by whatever means) by the end-user is going up as well and makes many of these numbers of no consequence. My much larger and nicer tv than the one I had as a youth only uses 10% of the energy than the latter.

    In my opinion, hydro-electric is the only renewable worth investing in.

  98. I’m for wind production articles that argue for rolling back the already built-in disincentives for its competitors and the subsidies and competitive advantages to wind and letting each compete in the market place fairly. Didn’t see a lot of that here on first and only read. Carbon dioxide is not an existential threat, but lowered levels of it is. Pollution is also not the reason for wind. Most favorable comparative economic factors for wind are generated externally by decades of publicity and actions already taken. As far as the thousands and millions of requisite wind turbines obliterating our vistas, there isn’t any other building or structure for which this would receive remote consideration.

    Wind is not a necessity. It’s current implementation everywhere consists of preferences and subsidies that are causing the economic disability of all other alternatives, which will force us – eventually with no alternative – to not only have to subsidize and preference wind, but to subsidize its backups and/or vastly more costly and environmentally problematic storage systems, So we can pay ever more for electricity. Because wind was the best?

  99. A miles long comment section that can be boiled down to one thing; central planning, which is what this article entails, never works.
    Want to solve a problem? Put in place a few reasonable regulations that protect from 90% of a problem [we are well past this point with clean air regs], eliminate all subsidies, which are merely a method by which the state picks approved winners and losers, and unleash the free market.
    Problem solved.

  100. 05 August 2017
    09:02

    When the water doesn’t flow, when the wind doesn’t blow, when the sun doesn’t shine, unreliable renewables do not produce electricity. Renewables produce power at a fraction of their name plate capacity: Hydro 50%, Wind 30%, Solar 10%. Only Ideologically driven governments would spend tax payers money to operate at such low capacity factors. Who would invest in an apartment or office building that could only count on 10 percent occupancy and corresponding revenue. NO ONE. There is no positive economic, financial, investment case for renewable energy. The Alberta electricity wholesale pool price for 2015/2016 was less than two than cents per KWH (look up AESO stats). The 2016 Ontario 100 mw Kingston Solar project has a subsidized feed in tariff of 46 cents per KWH. Solar wouldn’t be economic at our latitude location even if the solar panels were free!! I challenge the Pembina Institute to put forth their economic case for renewables; tell us how many staff members have hybrid cars and solar panels on their homes. Show us the institutes analysis of renewable energy for Alberta.

    • For Jack E., re August 6, 2017 at 10:02 am

      So much here with which I disagree. The facts just don’t support that.

      “When the water doesn’t flow, when the wind doesn’t blow, when the sun doesn’t shine, unreliable renewables do not produce electricity.”

      The same is true for all power plants, when they are shut down, they don’t produce electricity. Everything requires backup.

      “Renewables produce power at a fraction of their name plate capacity: Hydro 50%, Wind 30%, Solar 10%.”

      Actually, no. The annual average capacity factors for US power generating plants are quite different. The EIA has the following:

      Average and range, In descending order:

      Nuclear ………….89-90 (range 75 to 95)
      Geothermal …….70 (very stable)
      Coal ……………….60 (range 48 to 72)
      Natural Gas CCGT…50 (range 38 to 62, seasonal, inverse of hydroelectric)
      Hydroelectric…….40 (range is 30 to 55, varies by season)
      Wind……………….35 (varies by region and month, 23 to 41 is the range)
      Solar PV………….26 (in the best area, Southern California near Death Valley)

      see http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=14611#

      or see http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/us-monthly-power-generation-capacity.html

      “Only Ideologically driven governments would spend tax payers money to operate at such low capacity factors.”

      Actually, a modern electricity grid is REQUIRED to have low capacity factors due to the legal requirement to provide reliable electricity. Having the capacity ready to produce power on the peak day and at the peak hour is what reliable means. That, and every other day of the year. But, meeting that high load on the peak day has a natural consequence of much of the generating fleet sitting idle or running at a very low rate. The capacity factors above demonstrate this.

      “Who would invest in an apartment or office building that could only count on 10 percent occupancy and corresponding revenue. NO ONE. There is no positive economic, financial, investment case for renewable energy. The Alberta electricity wholesale pool price for 2015/2016 was less than two than cents per KWH (look up AESO stats). The 2016 Ontario 100 mw Kingston Solar project has a subsidized feed in tariff of 46 cents per KWH. Solar wouldn’t be economic at our latitude location even if the solar panels were free!! I challenge the Pembina Institute to put forth their economic case for renewables; tell us how many staff members have hybrid cars and solar panels on their homes. Show us the institutes analysis of renewable energy for Alberta.”

      Canada is at too high latitude to have much economic success with solar, that is clear.

  101. It simply amazes me how so many analyses refuse to address the effects more expensive electricity will have on poorer people. Will they receive subsidies like the ACA health plan does today in order to receive power? This analysis takes as it starting position that coal and nuclear will disappear, yet uses flawed economics to justify replacing them with wind power.

    I would ask the author to reassess his assertions upon the basis of providing the LEAST EXPENSIVE POWER TO ALL with the cheapest mix of power generation types. Doing otherwise is simply insuring that there will be more and more class warfare in the future, i.e. the haves and have nots.

    The elites in the U.S., both politicians and rich, are leading us toward a society famously depicted in the Hunger Games and sometimes I wonder if they even realize it.

  102. The big idea for peaking power in the UK is load shedding by using smart meters. Unfortunately they reckon to spend about £11 billion on smart meters. They could build all the CCGT capacity that they need for that amount and we could go back to being a 1st world country with reliable, readily available power instead of a potential third world banana republic. Some hope with the pillocks that are in control of the Country at the moment. Farage for President!!

  103. Generally well written, but I found this comment a little off the mark: “EVs will reduce or eventually eliminate gasoline consumption, and that will spell the end for OPEC. The entire world’s geopolitics will change as a result. Recently, the CEO of BP, the major international oil company, predicted that the next decade or two would bring such a surge of EVs that oil demand would peak, then decline. The CEO is right, too. When it becomes patriotic to drive an EV rather than a gas guzzler, EV sales will zoom. A gas guzzler will be seen as an OPEC enabler.”

    OPEC’s sway over the oil market ended with the development of tight oil in the U.S.The average WTI price in 2016 was about $43, about where it was in 1980 (inflation adjusted). True, growth in EV’s should help keep the price down by reducing demand for gasoline. However, it has nothing to do with OPEC. Look at the car population in the U.S. and you’ll soon see that patriotism has little to do with the choice of manufacturer. The idea that “gas guzzlers” will inspire patriotic purchases of EV’s is ludicrous.

  104. Here’s my problem with the wind power advocacy. I live in CA and often drive by some of the large wind farms (San Gorgonio, Altamont, Tehachapi). Based on my admittedly anecdotal observations, most of the turbines are stationery, most of the time. Common sense tells me that efficiency and effectiveness are rather poor whenever the turbines fail to spin.

    One problem with wind is the simple fact that sometimes we have no wind. But, again, I typically observe 5-10% of turbines spinning. This seems to suggest that wind is available. So why aren’t the turbines spinning?Some (quite a few) are obviously broken (e.g. laying on the ground). But what about the rest? Do we simply not need the power?

    • For Mike Smith, August 6, 2017 at 11:50 am

      There are a couple of usual reasons why those are not turning when you drive by. First, the Altamont Pass turbines are very old and probably cost too much to repair for the electricity they would sell. Second is the wind usually blows best at night, when people are not driving by. The wind turbines typically require wind of 7 to 8 miles per hour before they can begin generating.

      You can track the hourly California wind output at the CAISO site at this link:

      http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx

      and scroll down to the third graph.

      • Agreed on the old Altamont Pass turbines. If we can’t afford repairs, I doubt we can afford the decommissioning and removal of the scrap. But destroying the landscape is just fine when the cause is oh-so-noble.

        Driven by San Gorgonio a couple of times recently. Both times, there was a decent breeze and a few of the turbines were turning nicely. I don’t believe lack of wind accounted for the 90+% of the stopped turbines.

        And having generators that produce maximum power at night when demand is at the minimum… you don’t see a problem with that? Especially since we have virtually no industrial scale storage.

      • Roger Sowell August 6, 2017, at 3:45 pm

        There are a couple of usual reasons why those are not turning when you drive by. First, the Altamont Pass turbines are very old and probably cost too much to repair for the electricity they would sell.

        Oh, man, more horsefeathers. Surely if the turbines were worn out, it would be much cheaper to replace them (only needs new generator and blades) rather than install that same generator and blades in a new site (also needs a tower, tower foundation, service roads, transmission lines, etc).

        Second is the wind usually blows best at night, when people are not driving by. The wind turbines typically require wind of 7 to 8 miles per hour before they can begin generating.

        My friend, I fear that you don’t spend enough time outdoors … winds, in general, are driven by the sun, and in most locations, they peak in the late afternoon. Here’s data from the LLNL tower, right near the Altamont Pass in question. This is summertime data when the sun sets somewhere around 8 PM. The source document is interesting, you should take a look at it … or not … you might not want to overturn your preconceptions …

        SOURCE: LLNL

        “Wind usually blows best at night”? Only a city lawyer-boy could be that out of touch with nature …

        You can track the hourly California wind output at the CAISO site at this link:

        http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx

        and scroll down to the third graph.

        Once again you prove Mark Twain’s adage, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”. That is NOT a graph of when the wind blows. It is a graph of the highly regulated and controlled amount of power that is carefully fed into the grid from the wind. That is very different from the wind speed.

        I find it hilarious how you have pointedly avoided replying to my scientific, observationally based, well-supported objections to your nonsense. Keep it up, amigo, the lurkers notice such things … truly, my best advice is for you to quit while you’re behind.

        Smiles,

        w.

  105. The economic arguments in this article are almost unbelievably misinformed or willfully wrong.
    What it boils down to is an argument that it is better for society to use taxpayer funds to build massive wind farms and to have them backed up with nat gas base load plants. And then the tautological argument is advanced that the massive wind farms will be beneficial because they’ll reduce demand on nat gas.
    It is impossible to even take this argument seriously.
    The obvious path that a free market would take is to simply buy gas for the nat gas plants that will exist either way and generate electricity. The decades of gas that could be bought with the sunk costs of those idiotic propeller beanies would get us far beyond such primitive, ugly, inefficient technologies.
    If at some point in what looks like an increasingly distant future, nat gas becomes uneconomical, the market would then select from whatever technologies were available to replace it and almost certainly gigantic inefficient expensive eyesore windmills would not be it.

    • For BrianB, re August 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      “The economic arguments in this article are almost unbelievably misinformed or willfully wrong”. and “The obvious path that a free market would take is to simply buy gas for the nat gas plants that will exist either way and generate electricity. The decades of gas that could be bought with the sunk costs of those idiotic propeller beanies would get us far beyond such primitive, ugly, inefficient technologies. “

      Perhaps you are not old enough to remember the events from the 1970s and a bit after.

      The US government (and a few other countries, but this comment discusses only the US) made a number of steps to reduce consumption of various energy forms. I won’t give citations and exact details, but the general points below are true. My engineering colleagues and I lived through this and participated in much of it.

      The 1973 and 1979 oil embargoes led to oil price shocks that the US government could not live with. One consequence was mandates for improved automobile engine efficiency, the CAFE standards (corporate average fleet standards). CAFE “standards are regulations in the United States, first enacted by the United States Congress in 1975, after the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo, to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks (trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles) produced for sale in the United States.” (quoting a well-known internet source)

      In 1978, the US passed the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act, PURPA, which mandated (among many other things) utilities must purchase renewable energy from qualifying generating entities. This was a response to the widely held view that natural gas was in very short supply and would soon be depleted. Luckily for all involved, gas drilling and exploration companies found ways to find tremendous amounts of natural gas. President Carter made a famous televised speech from the White House, wearing a sweater instead of a coat and tie. (February, 1977) His purpose was to encourage all Americans to conserve energy because we were running out.

      The US government, via the Department of Energy, also funded research and development into alternative energy sources of several types, including wind energy, the focus of this article. The entire point of that funding was to reduce the use of natural gas for power generation. That effort required several decades of support, a point that is much-touted and shouted by the anti-renewables crowd. However, the research finally made sufficient improvements that, as this article discusses above, wind energy recently provided almost 6 percent of all the electricity sold in the US. (Wind contributed 8 percent in the past couple of months) Renewable energy of all types, but not including conventional hydroelectric power, provided just over 10 percent of all electricity in 2016, again US figures only.

      It is a solid fact that the fuel that is reduced is natural gas, when wind energy is sent into the grid. The research funding achieved the goal: renewable energy is increasing, and natural gas use is less.

      The concept of a free market is widely held, but seldom seen in actual practice. The government sees it has a duty to use public funds for the public good. Whether the steps the government takes are the right steps is a different question. In the case of government-funded wind research to reduce natural gas use, the outcome was positive. The evidence is clear: wind turbines produced power at approximately 30 cents per kWh only a decade ago. The wind energy generated was a tiny percent of all the electricity in the US. Per US EIA data, wind contributed only 0.83 percent a decade ago, in 2007. It was even less in 2001, at only 0.18 percent.

      • Roger Sowell August 6, 2017 at 3:23 pm

        It is a solid fact that the fuel that is reduced is natural gas, when wind energy is sent into the grid. The research funding achieved the goal: renewable energy is increasing, and natural gas use is less.

        I was going to let it go, but this is too cray-cray to let pass. Renewable energy is indeed increasing … but there has been no reduction in natural gas use. To the contrary, it is going up.

        My rule of thumb is that when a man says “It is a solid fact” … it isn’t.

        Your endless, endless rubbish and misdirection, bogus claims, and patently visible ignorance are risible …

        w.

  106. Troll platform
    Don’t be down on yourself Roger – that’s not how one should see this article at all! It’s WUWT trying to be open minded and better informed 😀
    /sarc

  107. After we’ve all finished going round the houses of available technologies like the children of Israel round the walls of Jericho, we’ll end up at one place and one place only for electrical power. Nuclear. Modular reactors will get smaller, cheaper, more reliable and safer to the extent that our great grandchildren will drive nuclear cars, and will only ever have known such cars 🚗. Nuclear batteries are the only ones with the power intensity to be really useful and economical. And since they generate their own energy and don’t need charging, the uneconomically low intensity energy sources such as wind and solar can be relegated to a peripheral role.

  108. Quote: Having withstood for several years the slings and arrows (including libel) of many commenters and guest bloggers at WUWT …

    I did a search for “Roger Sowell” on WUWT and I found nothing which could be reasonably described as a sling or arrow. Certainly I found nothing which was even remotely libellous. I did find contributions from him similar to this one which can only be described as advocacy for a cause. I did find comments which identified weaknesses in his advocacy. What I didn’t find was anything vaguely comparable to the abuse from alarmists which litters these pages.

    As Basil Fawlty might ask, do I detect the smell of burning martyr? Or did I miss the words to which Mr Sowell took exception?

    • I suspect you failed in your search, to read the dozen or more articles under my name, and hundreds more articles on which I left comments. Nor, I suspect, did you read many (if any) of the thousands of comments over nearly 10 years of participating on WUWT.

      That would take up far too much of your time, of course.

      Let me put it this way: the blog owner saw fit to delete a number of libelous statements. Others are still there.

      The fact that you cannot find any evidence is not evidence of its absence.

  109. With 523 comments in less than 48 hours, this is a good place for me to stop.

    If anyone wants to contact me further, simply leave a comment on my blog at

    https://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/

    Thank you to all who had positive comments, and thoughtful, polite comments. Those are very much appreciated.

    And, special thanks to Charles the Moderator, ctm, and to Anthony for agreeing to post my pro-renewable viewpoint.

    Roger Sowell

  110. Thanks Roger for this article with some useful facts and figures.

    However overall it is a little too much like a sales pitch, with problems glossed over and future claims made glibly without evidence.

    Rather like the many posts by Griff which are mostly copied and pasted from websites with a commercial interest in renewable energy. In fact it’s rather clear that Griff himself has a commercial interest in or even employment with the renewable industry.

    The overarching problem of wind (and solar) -that of intermittency and weather and night-day dependence, was almost ignored in your article, which detracts catastrophically from its seriousness. This is analogous to a post in nuclear power ignoring the question of radioactive waste disposal.

    It is very cute of you to address the issue of wind intermittency by calling it an advantage because it stimulates research into battery solutions. This I believe was the only thing you had to say on the subject or intermittency. That is hilarious 😂 – just like saying that nuclear power’s issue of high level waste disposal is an advantage because it stimulates research into geological waste disposal solutions and health physics in general. All the world’s problems suddenly disappear, reappearing as research solutions.

    Just like the scientific case for global warming alarmism, the obstacles faced by the nuclear industry are 100% artificial. They are arbitrarily imposed by anti-nuclear activism in government and regulatory bodies. The confusing of cause and effect is the classical strategy of deceitful political propaganda. The politically mandated destruction of the nuclear industry is a far bigger disaster for humanity than global warming ever will be.

    Study carefully the assessment by the German power industry themselves of the outcome of their Energiewende, before making sweeping future claims for renewable energy based on wishful thinking. The expansion of renewables in Germany between 2004 and 2016 had done nothing – absolutely nothing – to address the fundamental problems of intermittency and reliance on fossil fuel backup which characterise renewables. If anything thus expansion has only magnified these problems.

    This post by fmassen would be a good place to start:

    fmassen on August 5, 2017 at 9:23 am
    As so often in the discussions on wind energy the problem of intermittency is neglected or thought to be easily solvable with electricity storage (which until now does not exist at a realistic scale and cost). I strongly recommend the German report titled “Windenergie in Deutschland und Europa” published in the VBG Powertech Journal in June 2017 (link: https://www.vgb.org/vgbmultimedia/PT201706LINNEMANN.pdf).
    This report shows that the German extraordinary high increase in wind turbine installations between 2010 and 2016 did not decrease the need for backup capacity, and reduced the overall contribution of traditional power stations only by a miniscule 100MW. Also, and not expected, the power delivered at minimum wind did not increase between 2010 and 2016. As a consequence in 2016 the German specific CO2 emissions were 425 gCO2/kWh, to be compared to 35 gCO2/kWh for (still) nuclear friendly France.

  111. We keep getting told all the wind and solar stuff is so much cheaper then why has UK electricity just jumped 12.5%?
    Surely the price should be dropping, if what everyone says about how cheap wind and solar are true?

  112. I’ve left a comment on his blog page, as requested. All comments there are moderated. There are no comments visible yet.

    On the assumption that my comment will not survive, I reproduce it here:

    Wind power sounds very good.

    So why isn’t it just allowed to compete fairly in the market place? There will never be any advance in solving the problems of intermittency unless there is pressure to do so. So long as profit can be made by using taxpayers money, that is what will happen.

    Wind needs to SHOW that it is good, rather than simply write good sales pitches. It needs to show this to the companies responsible for providing power, on a level playing field. And then there will be no need for these sales pieces.

    Since you are still providing them, I’m guessing that this hasn’t happened yet…

    • Dodgy
      Nobody is buying anymore into nuclear and coal for the exact reason you mention. It is too expensive to build a safe and sound plant. And because the fuel is too filthy to handle. I would not even touch the stuff. You do?
      What else is left?

      • Henryp August 7, 2017 at 6:05 am

        Dodgy
        Nobody is buying anymore into nuclear and coal for the exact reason you mention. It is too expensive to build a safe and sound plant. And because the fuel is too filthy to handle.

        Nobody? Well, I guess if you count the billions of people in India and China as “nobody” … gotta say, Henry, you are curiously out of touch with the real world.

        And “too filthy to handle”? My, aren’t we getting prissy … I hope you never expose your ignorance to a coal miner with that kind of talk. They likely won’t be impressed by your green credentials …

        w.

      • yes, Willis

        and we know the Chinese have always been dodgy on keeping to western standards, especially when it comes to intl. labor – and air pollution rules of factories. I know of some deviations. In fact, they are downright hypocritical assuming a position of leadership in the Paris accord whilst building new coal plants all over Asia…

        but in Europe and USA they stopped building coal power plants for the exact reasons that I mentioned:
        we don’t want to sit in the stink and the smog that they apparently want to sit in….
        I assume you would rather want to enjoy the clean air that you are currently enjoying [I am guessing in California]

      • You say “nobody is buying anymore into nuclear and coal”.

        I say how is the huge population of India and China “nobody”?

        You say they don’t count because they are “dodgy” and “hypocritical” …

        Gotta say, amigo, it’s clear that you think your excrement don’t stank like everyone else’s … please spare me your patriarchal pontifications on what you think is good for the Chinese and the Indians. Unlike you, they don’t have the money to stick their nose up and refuse to pick up a lump of coal.

        w.

  113. I would use it in an instant – coal is very cheap now, and the exhaust gasses from a modern power station are cleaner than the air coming in.

    • Dodgy
      for new coal plants governments have become stricter on SO/SO2/SO3, CO and NO /NO2 emissions. I think rightly so. You must be able to live in the area where the plant is erected without suffering. Either way, you have to take care of the problems, either buying or getting very clean coal and/or putting up big filters / units to remove these poisons from the exhaust. The process to mine and transport the coal is elaborate, often it gets wet on the way, wind blows the dust around: a nuisance for anyone in the transport zone. etc. Mine dust is also a killer. (siliconosis)
      I don’t like my hands dirty, so I say that I would not even touch the stuff that you think is so great.
      Why would anyone right in his mind still want coal?
      Gas is so easy to transport. Open the valve. Push the button. We have ignition.

      • henryp August 7, 2017 at 6:55 am Edit

        Why would anyone right in his mind still want coal?

        Do we really have to explain basic economics to you? I guess so. India and China are building something like a coal plant per week each, and you are so foolish as to think that they are not “right in the mind”?

        Dude … you need to get out more. Places use coal because it provides cheap electricity. And despite you sticking your nose in the air and sniffing that you’re far too good and noble to even touch coal, it will continue to be used until it is no longer economically competitive. Better get used to it, because economics roolz …

        Sheesh …

        w.

  114. Willis
    you said that I said that ‘they’\ i.e. India and China, do not count.
    It is not what I said.
    I said that they are not keeping to our stringent laws and what ppm of poison is allowed in the exhaust.
    of THEIR FACTORIES.
    If you don’t believe me, go check out the quality of the air there yourself. OR listen to the complaints I heard from people who actually live there.we were in Hiderabad and the air was very dirty…Have not yet been in China but from what I hear on normal news TV, the air pollution in the big cities is very bad…

    • henryp August 7, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Willis
      you said that I said that ‘they’\ i.e. India and China, do not count.
      It is not what I said.

      Thanks, Henry. You said that “nobody” uses coal … and since half the world uses coal, you must be counting them as “nobody”. In other words, you are saying that they don’t count.

      I said that they are not keeping to our stringent laws and what ppm of poison is allowed in the exhaust of THEIR FACTORIES.

      If you don’t believe me, go check out the quality of the air there yourself. OR listen to the complaints I heard from people who actually live there.we were in Hiderabad and the air was very dirty…Have not yet been in China but from what I hear on normal news TV, the air pollution in the big cities is very bad…

      Since I said nothing about the air quality in China or their environmental laws, this has nothing to do with me.

      Regards,

      w.

  115. willis/
    you are nit picking choosing to turn my words around
    I said that nobody is building new plants anymore
    you then said: look at China and India
    I then said: OK, but look at their air quality
    George
    read my comments to willis and dodgy
    I am done here

    • henryp August 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

      willis/
      you are nit picking choosing to turn my words around
      I said that nobody is building new plants anymore

      Yes, and I said that was nonsense, that there are people building new coal plants around the world. Rather than admit you were wrong, you tried to change the subject by saying:

      you then said: look at China and India
      I then said: OK, but look at their air quality

      Air quality? What on earth does that have to do with your foolish claim that nobody was building coal plants?

      If you had simply admitted that your claim that nobody was building new coal plants was 110% wrong, you’d have earned my respect. Instead, you want to wiggle and tap dance away to some totally unrelated subject …

      I am done here

      I love it when people announce that they’re outta here, expecting that people will care, when instead people are cheering and laughing as they slink out the door …

      w.

      • Willis
        I told you and all that coal and nuclear is rather filthy business from start to finish.
        Unfortunately there will always be people who actually like or love sitting in their own filth.
        Sorry that we have to disagree on this.
        Cheers.

      • Henryp August 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        Willis
        I told you and all that coal and nuclear is rather filthy business from start to finish.
        Unfortunately there will always be people who actually like or love sitting in their own filth.
        Sorry that we have to disagree on this.
        Cheers.

        So coal miners and everyone who uses coal-sourced electricity (about a third of the US) “like or love sitting in their own filth”??? … dude, the only filth in view is the endless insults of people coming from your mouth.

        All mining is a dirty, unpleasant business … so when you use personally use steel or aluminum, is it because you “actually like or love sitting in your own filth”?

        Noooo … “filth” is only for people who don’t hold your holy Green views …

        In any case, I knew you were telling porkies when you said

        I am done here.

        w.

      • Henryp August 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        Clean energy is fine.

        Inexpensive energy is fine. Expensive energy is not fine. Clean is a bonus, but it’s not worth shafting the poor for expensive “clean” energy as you seem to think.

        Also, given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels and the serious cleanup and disposal issues they have, calling them “clean” is a sick joke.

        w.

      • Willis
        now you say
        Inexpensive energy is fine. Expensive energy is not fine. Clean is a bonus, but it’s not worth shafting the poor for expensive “clean” energy as you seem to think.
        Also, given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels and the serious cleanup and disposal issues they have, calling them “clean” is a sick joke

        Henry says
        Nowhere did I say here on this blog that solar is fine. I tested it out on my own roof and find it to be a burden. The panels become dirty and have to be washed regularly. The batteries only last a few years, if you are lucky. If there are clouds for a few days in a row, the alarms go off, etc,,, I would not recommend it to anyone.

        Germany is not building new nuclear and coal plants. They are closing down. From the graphs, you can see that the hole is filled with wind power. Energy price is a bit higher now but I think over the longer term the policy will pay off and the investment in wind power mightl be paying off.
        Hydro is good, Wind is good. Wind + hydro combined is better. Gas is best.
        Forget about nuclear and coal. Nothing to do with CO2. It is just filth and dust everywhere from start to finish. Don’t say you would be a miner when you really never will.
        Gas is inexpensive, easy to transport, just open the valve, push the button, and there you go. Why would anyone want coal, when you have gas?

      • “given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels”

        Eschenbach is clueless. The three major materials in a solar panel are silicon, aluminum and glass. No “mine” needed for silicon, you can use beach sand. Ditto for glass, and bauxite mining isn’t difficult being that the ore is usually under a few meters of overburden.. Disposal of these items isn’t an issue either.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm Edit

        “given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels”

        Eschenbach is clueless. The three major materials in a solar panel are silicon, aluminum and glass. No “mine” needed for silicon, you can use beach sand. Ditto for glass, and bauxite mining isn’t difficult being that the ore is usually under a few meters of overburden.. Disposal of these items isn’t an issue either.

        Someone is clueless here, but it’s not me …

        Solar energy has long been one of the great hopes for fighting climate change and liberating the world from fossil fuels. And it’s easy to see why solar has captured the collective imagination: All those photovoltaic panels look so shiny, futuristic, clean, and green.

        A cauldron. Producing solar PV modules involves a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals. And spooky fog for good measure.That’s not quite the case. Any form of energy production has its dirty side and solar is no exception. While its impact is nowhere near that of coal-fired power plants, photovoltaic modules are made from a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals. Arsenic, cadmium telluride, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride are just some of the chemicals used to manufacture various types of solar cells.

        and

        Hydrochloric acid, copper, trichlorosilane gas and silicon waste
        Like many electronics on the market today, PV cells require the use of silicon for semiconductors. Silicon can be mined in the environment, with sand or quartz and then processed at high temperatures that burn off the oxygen and leave you with a 99.6 percent pure metallurgical grade silicon, Solar Industry magazine outlined.

        However, 99.6 percent isn’t high enough for semiconductor use, so this metallurgical grade silicon must go through a second, chemical-rich process. The silicon is mixed with copper and hydrochloric acid to produce trichlorosilane gas, which is then reduced with hydrogen to make silane gas. The silane gas is heated into molten silicon which leads to silicon crystals that can be reformed and used for PV cells and micro chips, Solar Industry explains.

        The magazine notes that the entire process is necessary to get the pure silicon material, but very energy intensive and materially wasteful, with about half of the initial pure metallurgical silicon lost in the process. Additionally, silicon dust presents safety dangers and silane gas is incredibly explosive.

        Cadmium
        While silicon production uses an array of chemicals and is a key aspect of PV cell creation, it’s not the only chemical used. As Stanford University’s Stanford Magazine explained, cadmium is an important part of creating the cadmium telluride thin film.

        Cadmium is a naturally occurring earth metal, produced from smelting zinc, copper or lead ore. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explained that inhaling or being exposed to cadmium can lead to cancerous and noncancerous damage to lungs and organ systems.

        Stanford Magazine pointed out that in addition to being dangerous to human health, cadmium is also expensive, so its use in cadmium telluride thin film is closely monitored. Only about half the cadmium used in the process makes it into the film, so the rest is waste. The waste cadmium can be used in other parts of the cadmium telluride thin film production process, but the risk of cadmium polluting the water or air from a fire or improper disposal exists, the magazine explained.

        Nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride
        Although solar power doesn’t produce greenhouse gases while in use, the one’s it does release during production are important, according to the Voice of San Diego.

        Ray Weiss, a professor of geochemistry at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the Voice of San Diego, that some solar panel production releases nitrogen trifluoride, which is 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Efforts are made to contain the gasses produced, but they often leak out Weiss explained.

        Sulfur hexafluoride is another greenhouse gas that some solar panels release when they’re being made. It’s 22,800 times more potent than CO2, according to Deutsche Welle.

        Copper indium selenide and copper indium gallium (di)selenide
        Stanford Magazine also pointed out that copper indium selenide and copper indium gallium (di)selenide have been used in PV cells previously. These chemicals can be dangerous to people working on PV cell production, as they’re toxic at low levels. The magazine explained that many are moving away from using these chemicals in current processes to avoid risks to workers and the environment.

        Finally, solar panels are considered “hazardous waste” by the State of California, and it’s not for your “silicon, aluminum, or glass”.

        Q: How are solar panels hazardous?

        A: Solar panel wastes include heavy metals such as silver, copper, lead, arsenic, cadmium, selenium that at certain levels may be classified as hazardous wastes.

        Q: What does data show? What are the constituents that make the panels hazardous?

        A: In general, data shows that older silicon panels may be hazardous due to lead solder. Some older silicon panels are hazardous for hexavalent chromium coatings. Cadmium tellurium (CdTe) panels are typically hazardous due to the cadmium. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) panels may be hazardous due to the arsenic. Thin film panels, such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS) panels, may be hazardous due to the copper and/or selenium.

        So your claim that they are made of “silicon, aluminum, and glass” overlooks a host of poisonous and hazardous materials.

        w.

      • Yes it is you that is clueless. You confuse “mining” with “production.” You first post: “given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels” then you post: ” Producing solar PV modules involves a witch’s brew….”
        ….
        First of all please learn the difference between poly/mono-crystalline and thin film panels. For example cadmium is not used in crystalline panels. Secondly, learn that the the pollution from production is easily controllable. Thirdly, the thin film panels can be recycled, as FIrst Solar does.

      • Note that the chemicals used to process the materials used for panels don’t end up in the panels themselves.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 4:02 pm

        Yes it is you that is clueless. You confuse “mining” with “production.” You first post: “given the horrendous conditions in the mines that supply the materials for solar panels” then you post: ” Producing solar PV modules involves a witch’s brew….”
        ….
        First of all please learn the difference between poly/mono-crystalline and thin film panels. For example cadmium is not used in crystalline panels. Secondly, learn that the the pollution from production is easily controllable. Thirdly, the thin film panels can be recycled, as FIrst Solar does.

        Cadmium is indeed used in solar panels, contrary to your original claims and as you now admit. Are you truly claiming that conditions in cadmium mines are wonderful? And so what if the panels are recycled … you still have to mine the cadmium.

        The Story of How Xianghe Chemical Factory Poisoned a Local Community

        Located in Hunan Province along the Liuyang River, Xianghe Chemical Factory produced extremely toxic metals like cadmium and indium, both used the production and manufacture of solar panels. But two years after the factory was shuttered, thousands of villagers in Hunan were “still living in the shadow of one of the worst pollution scandals on the mainland,” reported the South China Morning Post. “The factory had been illegally producing indium since 2004 without necessary safety facilities for dealing with the toxic waste, which was discharged, untreated, into the Liuyang River.”

        Three out of four villagers suffer from excessive levels of cadmium in their blood. Cadmium damages the kidneys and the liver and, found the newspaper, “can cause cancer and failure of the nervous system and lungs.… The villagers are struggling to cope with their illnesses without proper medical support, let alone fair compensation.”

        Clinical autopsies on part-time Xianghe Chemical Factory workers showed “they died of brain damage and multiple organ failure, including their lungs, liver and kidneys, caused by acute cadmium poisoning.”

        and

        Jinko Solar Company: “The factory has been polluting us all the while …”
        In September 2011, Chinese villagers in Haining, Zhejiang Province staged a mass three-day protest of a nearby Jinko Solar factory after the death of a large number of fish in the local water supply. Jinko Solar, which made solar panels for export and is a subsidiary of the publicly traded Jinko Solar Holding Company, had been previously found to be “discharging excessive pollutants” and was ordered to fix the problem, but was still allowed to operate.

        A local business owner said “pollution in the area had been very common, as factories, mostly those specializing in solar panels and related technology, flourished …”

        Now if the pollutants in solar panels are as benign as you claim, and if the “pollution from production is easily controllable … then how come the fish are dying?

        And as I pointed out, that’s only one of the elements needed. How about the lead mines? Wonderful conditions?

        w.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        Note that the chemicals used to process the materials used for panels don’t end up in the panels themselves.

        Thanks, Rob, but if that were true then the State of California wouldn’t classify solar panels as hazardous waste …

        w.

      • Eschenbach says: “Cadmium is indeed used in solar panels”

        Thanks for proving your cluelessness.

        Cadmium is NOT used in mono crystalline panels Cadmium is NOT used in poly crystalline panels.

        Let me repeat what I said, so you can re-read it: “For example cadmium is not used in crystalline panels”

      • For additional examples of Eschenbach’s cluelessness, Solar City’s thin film plant in Buffalo NY doesn’t pollute in the manufacture of panels, and their panels have cadmium in them. . China doesn’t have the same environmental regulations as we have here in the states, so I stand by my point that the pollution from the panels is easily controllable.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        Eschenbach says: “Cadmium is indeed used in solar panels”


        Thanks for proving your cluelessness.

        Cadmium is NOT used in mono crystalline panels Cadmium is NOT used in poly crystalline panels.

        Let me repeat what I said, so you can re-read it: “For example cadmium is not used in crystalline panels”

        I don’t understand this comment of yours.

        1) Cadmium is indeed used in thin-film solar panels, as I cited above and as you agreed.

        2) Thin-film solar panels are indeed solar panels.

        3) The state of California says, as I quoted above:

        Q: What does data show? What are the constituents that make the panels hazardous?

        A: In general, data shows that older silicon panels may be hazardous due to lead solder. Some older silicon panels are hazardous for hexavalent chromium coatings. Cadmium tellurium (CdTe) panels are typically hazardous due to the cadmium. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) panels may be hazardous due to the arsenic. Thin film panels, such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS) panels, may be hazardous due to the copper and/or selenium.

        4) Therefore, cadmium is indeed used in solar panels.

        Is cadmium used in crystalline solar panels? No … and I never said it was. I said

        “Cadmium is indeed used in solar panels”

        And that is 100% true.

        So please … take your nonsensical allegations of “cluelessness” elsewhere. You wouldn’t recognize it if you saw it, it appears you’re blinded by the Kruger-Dunning effect.

        w.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 5:22 pm said (emphasis mine)

        For additional examples of Eschenbach’s cluelessness, Solar City’s thin film plant in Buffalo NY doesn’t pollute in the manufacture of panels, and their panels have cadmium in them. . China doesn’t have the same environmental regulations as we have here in the states, so I stand by my point that the pollution from the panels is easily controllable.

        Is the pollution from the panels “easily controllable”? Well, perhaps not “easily”, but it is controllable. However, that’s never been in dispute.

        The curious part is, for a man who is rabidly and unpleasantly accusing me of being “clueless” for saying there is cadmium in solar panels … that’s a frickin’ hilarious example.

        w.

      • Excellent Willis, we’ve gone from “calling them ‘clean” is a sick joke'” to “thin film solar panels are not clean.” Progress with you is slow, and gradual, taking only one small step at a time. Now if you are in California, and you have some thin film panels you want to dispose of, you can send them to Solar City to be recycled. No different than recycling the lead in the old fashioned lead-acid battery in many ICE vehicles.

      • Oh yeah, Willis, you do realize that controlling pollution is “easy” mostly because of all the experience we have with computer chip making factories. They use the same processes to make solar cells. Got any chip factories in California that pollute?

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm Edit

        Excellent Willis, we’ve gone from “calling them ‘clean” is a sick joke’” to “thin film solar panels are not clean.” Progress with you is slow, and gradual, taking only one small step at a time.

        Rob, I do NOT allow people to put fake quotes in my mouth. I said NOTHING like what you claim, you are flat-out lying about that.

        Where we have gotten is nowhere. You called me “clueless” for saying there is cadmium in solar panels. You have not acknowledged that you were both wrong and unpleasant in your bogus accusation. So yes, progress with you is slow when you simply will not admit that yes, I was right, there is indeed cadmium in solar panels.

        Nor is it just thin film panels. READ THE CALIFORNIA INFORMATION AGAIN.

        ALL solar panels can contain a number of different toxic materials.

        Now if you are in California, and you have some thin film panels you want to dispose of, you can send them to Solar City to be recycled. No different than recycling the lead in the old fashioned lead-acid battery in many ICE vehicles.

        I have not said one word about recycling until you brought it up, AS I POINTED OUT ABOVE, so I don’t know who you are talking to … but it damn sure ain’t me.

        Yes, solar panels can be recycled … so what? That doesn’t make them “clean”, it just means we know how to get rid of some of the dirt.

        Finally, solar panels contain lead, copper, cadmium, sulfur, trichloroethane, arsenic, and other toxic or hightly toxic chemicals. So I stand my statement that “calling them ‘clean’ is a sick joke”. They are classified by the State as HAZARDOUS WASTE … and calling hazardous waste “clean” is nonsense.

        w.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 5:49 pm

        Oh yeah, Willis, you do realize that controlling pollution is “easy” mostly because of all the experience we have with computer chip making factories. They use the same processes to make solar cells. Got any chip factories in California that pollute?

        Well … um … yes.

        Where the chips fall: environmental health in the semiconductor industry.
        R Chepesiuk

        Abstract

        Three recent lawsuits are focusing public attention on the environmental and occupational health effects of the world’s largest and fastest growing manufacturing sector-the $150 billion semiconductor industry. The suits allege that exposure to toxic chemicals in semiconductor manufacturing plants led to adverse health effects such as miscarriage and cancer among workers. To manufacture computer components, the semiconductor industry uses large amounts of hazardous chemicals including hydrochloric acid, toxic metals and gases, and volatile solvents. Little is known about the long-term health consequences of exposure to chemicals by semiconductor workers. According to industry critics, the semiconductor industry also adversely impacts the environment, causing groundwater and air pollution and generating toxic waste as a by-product of the semiconductor manufacturing process.

        Nice try, though. Google “pollution from chip factories” before you try that bogus claim again, it’ll make your hair stand on end.

        w.

      • One of the surest indicators that someone is clueless is when they start telling you to Google something.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm Edit

        “Is cadmium used in crystalline solar panels? No”

        Which means that crystalline panels aren’t “dirty !!!

        Nope, it just means they don’t contain cadmium. However, just like thin-film panels, crystalline panels are considered “hazardous waste” because although they don’t have cadmium, they have a host of other toxic chemicals in varying amounts depending on the process and the supplier.

        Why is this so hard to wrap your head around?

        w.

      • Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        You see the date on that thing you got from Google?
        ..
        1999???

        You crack me up.

        Gosh, you mean truth has an expiration date? Who knew? What is the cutoff? Last week? Last month? Let me know the exact age beyond which truth is meaningless, because I wouldn’t want to overstep the bounds …

        Rob Bradley August 7, 2017 at 6:33 pm

        One of the surest indicators that someone is clueless is when they start telling you to Google something.

        Rob, I was trying to prevent people from pointing and laughing at your cluelessness by advising you to DO YOUR HOMEWORK before exposing your lack of knowledge.

        If you wish to ignore that advice it’s up to you … but I won’t apologize for trying to prevent your self-immolation.

        w.

      • Read the post from 1999………“Three recent lawsuits”

        Here’s the clue for the clueless……. It’s 2017 …. the lawsuits have been settled.

      • Good advice Willis, you should follow it yourself, and stop telling people to Google something, because if you had done YOUR homework, you’d provide links to real stuff instead of telling someone to google something. The fact that you had to resort to such a sophomoric suggestion is telling.

      • “they have a host of other toxic chemicals”

        Yes, I pointed them out at the beginning of this discussion…..silicon, aluminum and glass.

      • Another funny thing about your 1999 post about lawsuits……did you see the words, “The suits allege” ? Your citation offers no PROOF of anything.

      • Lawsuits prove nothing but do prove that in America, people will sue you for passing gas in an elevator, or get sued for sexual harassment if you look at someone the wrong way.

      • Instead of lawsuits, how about administrative fines and/or judgements for intentional pollution by a chip manufacturing plant?