Peter Foster: Another report reluctantly admits that ‘green’ energy is a disastrous flop

From The Financial Post

This report should be profoundly embarrassing to the government of Justin Trudeau

wind-turbine

The report confirms what should have been obvious from the start: the more “variable” wind and solar are introduced into any electricity system, the more they make it both more expensive and less reliable.David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

Peter Foster
Peter Foster
  November 22, 2018 12:40 PM EST

Amid hundreds of graphs, charts and tables in the latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) released last week by the International Energy Agency, there is one fundamental piece of information that you have to work out for yourself: the percentage of total global primary energy demand provided by wind and solar. The answer is 1.1 per cent. The policy mountains have laboured and brought forth not just a mouse, but — as the report reluctantly acknowledges — an enormously disruptive mouse.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has in recent years become an increasingly schizophrenic organization. As both a source of energy information and a shill for the UN’s climate-focused sustainable development agenda, it has to talk up the “transition to a low-carbon future” while simultaneously reporting that it’s not happening. But it will!

This report should be profoundly embarrassing to the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, which has virtue-signalled itself to the front of a parade that is going nowhere, although it can certainly claim genuine leadership in the more forceful route to transition: killing the fossil fuel industry by edict.

The WEO report, yet again, projects that global fossil fuel use — and related emissions — will grow out to 2040, as oil, gas and coal continue to dominate the energy picture. But it also struggles to put a positive spin on wind and solar. Solar had a “record-setting” year in 2017. The Chinese solar business is “booming.” New wind and solar additions “outpaced those of fossil fuels in 2017, driven by policy support and declining costs.

“Policy support” means subsidies worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As for declining costs, solar is at least twice as expensive a generator as coal and almost twice as expensive as gas.

Finally, and most significantly, the report confirms what should have been obvious from the start: the more “variable” wind and solar are introduced into any electricity system, the more they make it both more expensive and less reliable.

The term Variable Renewable Energy, VRE, could more accurately be described as Unreliable Renewable Energy, URE, due to the terribly obvious fact that the sun doesn’t shine at night, and sometimes not during the day either, while the wind doesn’t always blow. Thus the more that wind and solar are part of your system, the more technical contortions they demand from backup power and the structure of the grid. The efficient part of the system has to twist itself into a technical pretzel to accommodate the inefficient part. Accommodating unreliability has led to outright perversity. The widespread adoption of wind and solar under Germany’s Energiewende (“energy transition”) has resulted in rising overall emissions, mainly from coal-fired backup facilities. Meanwhile the green Godot is battery storage, which is always on the point of turning up, but never quite does. Still, the IEA has a scenario for that: “What if battery storage becomes really cheap?”

Supply isn’t the only area where expensive and unreliable wind and solar need to be accommodated. There is also “demand flexibility.” This includes having solar panels installed on your roof, or adopting — or being forced to adopt — “smart meters,” which can monitor a household’s electricity usage in minute-by-minute detail. According to the report, “The spreading of rooftop solar PV (photovoltaics) and the falling costs of digital technologies, combined with affordable wind and solar power options, are creating a host of new opportunities that enable consumers to take a more active role in meeting their own energy needs.”

But wind and solar are not “affordable,” and few people want to take a “more active role” in meeting their energy needs (That is, unless they are being heavily “policy supported” to stick solar panels on their roofs). They just want to flip a switch.

As for smart meters, the IEA notes that many countries “have successfully rolled out smart meters on a large scale, such as Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden.” Would such success be like the smart meter program in Ontario, which was panned by provincial auditor Bonnie Lysyk for costing an extra billion dollars and not working as advertised, while several thousand meters were found to represent a fire hazard?

Although it mentions nothing of the absurdities attached to Ontario’s Green Energy Act, the WEO report confirms that Canada has the most stringent emissions pricing program in the world, at least out to 2025, at $35 a tonne (in 2017 U.S. dollars), thus cementing its competitive disadvantage. Others, such as the EU and Korea, are prepared to make marginally more self-damaging commitments out to 2040 (at US$43 and US$44 respectively), but these levels nowhere near approach that allegedly required by the beyond-fantasy “Sustainable Development Scenario,” which, for developed countries, is US$63 in 2025 and US$140 in 2040. In fact, those figures, like most of the IEA’s projections, are not worth a solar fig.

The Sustainable Development Scenario not only solves the climate issue, but also takes care of universal access to modern energy and air pollution, too. Even more amazing, it achieves all this via imposing swathes of expensive and unreliable energy, but without the slightest impact on economic growth. How? By simply assuming so.

The report’s solution to policy mayhem is inevitably to call for more — and more complex — policy. “Can an integrated approach spur faster action?” it asks. Since governments have screwed up so badly, might they screw up less if they try to do much more?

At least they are assured of firm support from the IEA.

HT/Cam_S, Willis, Willie Soon, Marcus

 

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145 thoughts on “Peter Foster: Another report reluctantly admits that ‘green’ energy is a disastrous flop

    • Excerpt from above:
      “This report should be profoundly embarrassing to the government of Justin Trudeau.”

      Justin is beyond embarrassment.

      There are two possibilities, not mutually exclusive:
      1 He is an utter imbecile, with no real life and work experience.
      and/or
      2. He is trying to destroy the economy of Canada, perhaps as part of a Marxist conspiracy.

        • The leftest view of the world is all wrong. They believe:
          1)All cultures are equal in worth and values.
          2) All religions should be respected.
          3) There is an entity called free will in each human.
          4) Equality of outcome should be aspired to
          5) CO2 is a pollutant
          6) Green energy is nirvana
          7) A hard core criminal in most cases can be converted to change and repent if only through enough reeducation.
          8) There are more than 2 genders
          9) The main stream media is not biased towards leftest positions
          10) The Chinese Communist party will eventually reform and stop its attempted domination of the world.
          11) First past the post election systems are bad and everything should be proportional representation.
          12) In past generations the non white world was noble and without violence nor discrimination (the noble savage hypothesis).

          Trudeau is further left than these 12 points.

          • In what ways do ‘leftists’ believe that ‘all religions’ should be respected? They are generally obsessed with respecting Islam but I can’t see them showing any great respect for traditional Christianity. Whenever there is a disagreement between their sexual agenda and the beliefs of traditional Christians they will hammer the traditional Christians with gusto.
            As far as electoral systems are concerned the Labour Party in the UK shows no desire to implement PR for UK General Elections. PR would give them the number of seats they are entitled to, far less than they get under First-Past-the-Post.

          • It has been my experience that the hard left is secular humanist, which means atheist, which means they are philosophical naturalists or philosophical materialists. A tenant of this world view is that there is NO free will. Conservatives, at least those of who are theists, reject this.

            Bob Davis, pastor
            Cantwell (AK) Bible Church

          • The leftist view is all religions and customs should be respected as long as they are not Christianity or Western.

            And as for being leftist…..Stalin would have sent them to the gulag without a second thought

          • Your number 3 is wrong, I think. Marxists believe that all human activity/interaction/endeavour must be commanded by the state. Free will is not allowed under any circumstances.

        • RE Justin Trudeau:
          1 He is an utter imbecile, with no real life and work experience.
          and/or
          2. He is trying to destroy the economy of Canada, perhaps as part of a Marxist conspiracy.

          Alan – you chose Option 1 – but what about his advisors – are they all imbeciles too?

    • Usually things with “smart” in their name are pretty stupid.
      In a similar fashion countries with “Democratic” in their name are actually anti-democratic dictatorships e.g. East Germany.
      Chris

    • I did find a very thin red line labeled, “Geothermal, solar, etc.”. I found no line labeled “Wind” or anything like that, so I’m assuming Wind is in that “…etc….” Would that be the “…What is missing…” to which you refer?

      Now an interesting thing I like to do, when I do an energy audit, is make one graph for MBTU, and another graph for $, with all the same subdivisions as the first. It’s telling. I don’t see such a graph at EIA. I wonder why? /deadpan sarc

  1. The alarmists have succeeded in getting virtue signalling, uncritical, politicians to promote lunatic scheme after lunatic scheme. The earlier post on palm oil highlights one, and here we read that many countries “have successfully rolled out smart meters on a large scale, such as Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden.”

    The definition of success in this case being that they have been installed. There is absolutely no quantification of actual benefits to consumers, or to ‘the climate’. The only beneficiaries are the utilities, who no longer have to employ meter readers. No one dares to do a cost benefit analysis because it would show that ths is yet another massive waste of money.

    • The most important variable in electric power generation is the morning and evening demand peaks. If battery technology ever becomes cost-effective it should be installed at the central power stations so that during low demand the power can be stored for use during the peaks. Tremendous boost in efficiency. Once again six hours of power from solar and who knows what and when from wind is an expensive nuisance, not a true power source. Give it up.

    • I think it would be a very good thing if all attendees at the upcoming climate conferences had to attend using good, old shipstones(the ballast in wooden hulled ships) using sails(windpower). For the land portions they could use wooden carts pulled by the travellers, taking turns. This would promote good health, closer communication, and a far better understanding of the world amongst them. And of course the rations would also be good, old-fashioned staples such as hard tack, canned meats and vegetables, plus what ever they could buy along the way.

  2. Where the article mentions solar is still twice as expensive as coal or gas, does anyone have the reference to this? I was wondering if that was based on theoretical (nameplate) or actual output and what other factors were considered in the cost estimates.

      • That study uses “Levelized Costs” (which all of them do) which is a fairy tale number and has no basis in reality.

          • I base it on what I have to actual pay for something (less subsidies) — not some hidden CO2 imaginary voodoo hidden cost calculated by a political activist group.

            What’s your definition of it?

          • Reg Nelson, you do not pay the same as a large industrial concern that gets a discount for volume purchases. How do you account for these discrepancies?

          • I suppose for a true calculation of the true cost of solar and wind, we could use Germany as a test case… They have X amount of solar and wind installed, at a capacity factor of 0.yy, with a true full cost of €E.00 trillion, plus an increase in power bills of €C.00/customer and an ongoing annual cost of €S.00/year in subsidies, and let’s not forget operating costs, you know, oiling, greasing, cleaning, aligning, replacing worn-out bearings and controls circuits, etc., etc. Add together those costs, divide by actual power produced, and voila! you have the true cost of your so-called cheap renewables. Not a pretty picture, is it? And all those numbers are publicly available, aren’t they? And still the Mandates and Subsidies Forever™ roll on!

          • SH
            Here in Australia a study for the Minerals Council found that over 2016 Solar received $274, Wind $74 & coal $0.40 subsidy per MWh of electricity generated. On top of that these generators received the prevailing spot price for the electricity produced. It seems that solar& wind are very expensive but that it is hidden by the subsidies not being generally known. Possibly the same applies with the many estimates showing renewables to be cheaper that are published. Of course the levalised cost further distorts the picture.
            John

          • This report describes why the levelized cost of energy is not a valid metric for comparing different types of generation. (Even the US Energy Information Administration warns against doing so.) LCOE ignores all of the costs beyond the plant gate, most importantly the backup generation and (possibly) storage systems that are necessary. You CANNOT supply reliable energy to consumers using renewables alone and there is no chance that the all-in cost of renewable energy will be the LCOE. For thermal generation, on the other hand, LCOE is a pretty reliable metric.

            https://blog.friendsofscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/In-the-Dark-on-Renewables-FINAL-Nov-18-2018.pdf

    • Wind and Solar will ALWAYS need backup power (coal, NG, nuclear etc…) Batteries alone cannot handle it..You would need twice as many bird choppers and zappers. 50% to charge the batteries and 50% to handle power supply..IMHO..

    • Spetzer, you can work it out yourself. PV panel are about $2 per nameplate watt in bulk quantities of quality product. So $2 million for a nameplate megawatt. Doesn’t include installation or batteries. Only produces an average of maybe 25% of nameplate, you know, due do natural occurrences like sunset and clouds. A natural gas fired turbine genset is roughly $1 million per megawatt. And produces power 100% of the time. Now start calculating the cost of say 100 megawatt-hours delivered to people’s houses. Assuming sunshine is free, and natural gas costs $40/ generated MW-hr, how many years to pay the difference?

        • That’s a toy, nothing close to industrial quality or output. The actual number is closer to $5/watt installed with inverters etc.
          Even this site is below industrial, and is used for feel good projects on commercial buildings. Not utility scale by any means
          https://www.solarelectricsupply.com/

          • For some reason can’t reply below. Your PV outputs 12 volts. Industrial PV outputs 48 volts. There are technical reasons this is superior. Also I was talking about Installed prices not piecemeal parts and “some assembly required”

          • LOL: “There are technical reasons this is superior.”

            All you have to do is string four 12 volt panels in series to get 48 volts!! It all depends on what input your inverter takes.

            Did you see my like for utility scale PV at $1 per watt?

          • One can buy container loads of very good quality solar panels for $0.22/watt. Take a look at Alibaba sometime. The cost declines have been very great the last few years.

          • The subsidized “cost” of a single solar panel (made in China, the pollution being left in the open fields, mine pits, and drainage ponds in China) in a box on the floor is less than 1/5 the cost to actually produce a few watts of power at noon each day.

        • @Steve Heins November 24, 2018 at 10:24 am… Where is the subsidy in that arithmetic? I don’t see it, and for a true LCCA, I need to know how much it is and where it comes in. Does the subsidy go to the manufacturer? To the consumer, the one that bought the panels? To the installer? To the utility that actually has to deal with that Unreliable Power, and find a way to dispose of it when the feed-in tariff mandates the utility buy it whether they need it or not?

          As many a con artist would have said, don’t try to kid a kidder.

          • @Steve Heins November 24, 2018 at 3:05 pm…

            Panels available via retail sales get no subsidy.”

            Don’t be so sure. Have you thoroughly audited the financials of that company that produced the alleged $1/kW panels?

        • The purpose of Governments is, in part, to supply essential services to the populace at the most economical price. Economies of scale cannot be realised without underlying legislation, control by a body governing to ensure the well-being of all.

          Water, electricity, sewers, rubbish removal, defence and others are essential services in a modern, technological society.

          I should not have to build my own essential services

          • The government should build, and collect taxes to build, only those services that a majority of the citizens have agreed are worthwhile for the government to build. At one time, no government provided security for residents. The rich hired their own security, the poor kept their doors locked and did not travel alone out of sight of the city gates. At some point, a group of citizens realized they could band together and hire their own security, just as the rich folks did, that would benefit all! Enough of that and the rich began to realize they were well protected by the security hired by the rest of the villagers, and quit hiring their own security, and that is when taxation began, everyone in the community MUST pay for it, since they benefited. Notice the coercion there. Now to this day, we are still debating, how much service is good for the community, that will benefit all, and how much is a waste that benefits only the very few (I’m looking at you, Houston Light Rail System), yet all are still paying for because the Elites in the Governing Class have decided it must be so? This is where Unreliables fall. So, John in Oz November 24, 2018 at 3:20 pm, your statement,

            I should not have to build my own essential services

            reveals a deep-seated sense of entitlement. In reality, you just got lucky to be born into this time and place, or you could be out there gathering your own firewood and sharpening your own sticks to fight off the predators through the night. How’s that for putting things into perspective?

        • Steve,

          Did you actuallt read your link and lunks within that article to get to the actual study? It is based on a model which is based on assunptions and other previously modelled studies.

          There are many solar installations in the US, why not present an analysis of the empirical data describing their performance and LCOE?

          I’ll save you the trouble of pondering this, it is not done because it would show that the industry is an utter failure.

  3. So, few corrections are in order: Conventional grid wastes electricity too. Conventional plants cannot be easily throttled back which means that they dump electricity into a load at night. Green energy, solar or wind, could be backed up by gas powered peaker plants, hardly a new invention, as utilities used peaker plants for couple decades now precisely to avoid dumping energy at night.

    I have a dream ,that we all come together one day and dump the fanatics on both side of this issue. The left wing fanatics that want to turn the world to solar and wind energy overnight, and right wing fanatics that claim coal und oil uber alles until cows come home.

    You think we could do it?

    • Here’s a question: Why do we need “green energy” at all?
      Hint: We don’t.
      That’s not “fanatacism” – just common sense.

    • I don’t see how, nowadays. Very frustrating! Statesmanship (wisdom in the management of public affairs) is sorely lacking.

    • I think Congress should direct the NAS to divert existing funding for climate science research into funding for renewable energy research (including nuclear). Why keep pouring billion$ into climate research when they say the science is settled? Put it into research for what climate scientists are clamoring for – low carbon energy. Win-win for everyone.

      • I think Trump should compel Schmidt to defend the IPCC’s broken science to a competent skeptic and put it on video. No doubt he will look like a fool, the video will go viral, CAGW will implode and we can start worrying about real problems again. Although, it’s more likely that Schmidt would rather quit then be forced to defend the IPCC’s pseudo-science which if he should know by by now is indefensible.

        • Schmidt would never do that. Remember on Strossel’s show how he refused to debate and ran away to hide behind mommy’s skirt?

          Stop trying to work within the framework they’ve devised. Give them what they say they want (renewables), while at the same time pulling the rug out from under them. Establishing this new framework provides the opportunity to openly talk about the fact that renewable energy is not technologically mature enough at this point to power an industrialized economy, so more research is needed. Then they become the extremists fighting against this reasonable course of action.

          • icisil,
            Schmidt reports to a NASA associate administrator where the administrator reports directly to Trump. The leverage is there to compel him to support his position or else be fired so a more competent person can be put in charge. Even if he won’t debate, getting him out of the way would be a big step towards correcting climate science.

      • I am a skeptic and can write the next IPCC report no. 5.
        1. The world is burning up.
        2. It’s worse than we thought
        3. If we don’t have a radical change in the way we live, ( go back to living in caves, subsistence and substandard living conditions) we are all doomed.
        4. And the only solution is to quit burning stuff.

        I have no idea why they have to have a meeting every few days. AGW has been saying the science has been settled 30 years ago. So why is there a new study every week that keeps trying to prove something that’s not… like heat hiding in the ocean. Thermal expansion of water is extremely accurate. Pressure cookers, plumbers, steam fitters, steam turbines, are very aware of the expansion of water. I guess it doesn’t work when it comes to climate science.
        But then, I guess they have to keep meeting when things don’t work out… like … run a way green house effect by 2008 or 1.5 meter sea level rise by 2008 or watching the Arctic and Antarctic melt What ever happened to a 5 C + rise in temperature by 2008??? Did the green energy stuff work that well that now if we take drastic action we can hold the temp to 1.5 C by 2100 ?
        Just curious, what are they going to do if or when we go into a cold spell? Oh… that’s right, they can just lie or play mind games. If you thought this Thanksgiving day was warmer, you’d be right . There’s no snow in Australia a month before summer.

        • We just had a big dump of snow on the Alps in Australia, 1 week before summer! Anyway, the fool Trudeau will soon be voted out of power, and Australia will soon vote in the left fool Shorten to screw the country with Canada similar policies.

    • “Green energy, solar or wind, could be backed up by gas powered peaker (sic) plants, ” ?

      So you would end up with two power suppliers at double the cost when only ONE is needed. D’OH !

    • mf,

      I am not sure what you mean by power plants “dumping” electricity at night,the “wasting” electricity. Electricity is used as it is generated. If it is not used, it cannot be produced. The only think I can think of is pumped storage, where available generation that is not needed can be used to store energy.

      • In Alberta, we paid wind producers 24/7 for wind power, even when it was not needed, and GAVE IT AWAY to the Province of BC and Washington state when we could not use it. They both have hydro power – an ~easy offset. Sometimes we reportedly have to pay them to take it.

        It IS that stupid and uneconomic.

        • In Ontario we throttle Niagara Falls, possibly the best energy resource on the planet, to allow wind scammers and solar scammers to scam.

    • “… they dump electricity into a load at night …”
      Do not know how that works???
      I must have missed those Giga Watt resistors. The only thing I can think of is cases where you “dump” electricity into hydro facilities, where this is practically viable.

      You may be right when it comes to your judgement of fanaticism, although I personally would prefer to allow for gradual development of the solutions that are the most stable, economic and environmentally friendly. In my view, and likely the view of OP Peter Foster, wind and solar has only limited practical use and a terrible environmental impact.

      Liked the graph ossqss presented. They could have shown the 1.1% contribution from wind and solar in a lager graph using the Al Gore technique with the fork lift.

    • Here’s the problem. One kilogram of gasoline contains about 100 times the energy of one kilogram of a fully charged lithium ion battery. It all boils down to energy density, reliability and dispatchability.

      • The other problem is that once you burn the gallon of gasoline, it is gone. But with the battery you can use it over and over and over again. After the 101st usage, it’s now done better than that gallon of gasoline.

        • I missed the part where the battery was refreshed.

          Where did that happen, and what was that cost for recharge?

          Or is this a magical battery that reclaims energy from nowhere?

        • The other problem is that once you burn the gallon of gasoline, it is gone. But with the battery you can use it over and over and over again. After the 101st usage, it’s now done better than that gallon of gasoline.

          Not true. EVERY battery using EVERY electro-chemical reaction loses capacity over time: The energy available after 10, 100, 200, 300 cycles is less than the energy available from the 2nd or third cycle. Some are slightly better than others, but EVERY battery loses capacity.

          Worse, EVERY battery charge-store-regenerate system returns only 60-80% of the energy first created from the primary source. Thus, to have power available BACK from the battery, you need to generate 125-133% of that future electricity from the primary source. Or you can merely generate what is needed when you need it. With no waste – other than the standby generating capacity waiting for solar and wind sources to fail. Like what we do now.

        • “The other problem is that once you burn the gallon of gasoline, it is gone.” Yes but the tank is still there. You refill it. The beauty of the tank is that, unlike a battery, it doesn’t wear out and holds and delivers the same amount of energy after each time its recharged (filled). And it’s cheaper than a battery. It’s also safer.

    • “Conventional plants cannot be easily throttled back which means that they dump electricity into a load at night.” Link, please.

    • mf sezs:

      Conventional plants cannot be easily throttled back which means that they dump electricity into a load at night.

      Dump electricity — um, no, unless you’re “dumping” it into a facility to pump water uphill into a lake, from which you get energy back the next day. And most plants don’t have any serious problem throttling back, it’s mostly an issue of lower efficiency.

    • The typical grid resource design is to have plants running at high capacity factor to meet baseload requirements, off-peak. As load ramps during the day, medium and short term peaking resources are brought on or off to follow the curve up or down, so I’m not sure all that much is wasted in a well-designed system. All deterministic and dispatchable – two characteristics solar and wind don’t have.

      The solution to these renewable resources, when not needed but still generating (because of contractual reasons), is to indeed dump them into neighboring loads, such as Michigan, for the Ontario System Operator.

      • A sudden drop in demand can send heat to the cooling towers if its not used to run the generators and since it takes time to increase or decrease boiler heat, they run at a higher level of boiler power than they need and waste the rest, unless they are at 100% capacity.

        Ordinarily, its not a big problem if you have control over generation, as demand changes predictably during the day and the spinning reserve can be minimized. When transient renewables are on the grid, the supply can change rapidly and unpredictably, so the spinning reserve has to be spun up to a higher level wasting even more heat, rather than putting it to use making electricity.

        • You can’t send a high pressure steam directly to cooling towers without first reducing the pressure in turbines. Or, more precisely, you can, and results would be rather dramatic.

          • The steam system that powers the turbines is a completely different system than the water system that goes to the cooling towers. There is no physical piping that connects the 2. When the steam is condensed as it exits the turbine casing it goes through a condenser to be sent back to the steam generators. The water used to cool the condenser is piped through it in thousands of small tubes (maximizing surface area) then sent to the cooling towers to be cooled to be reused to cool the condenser again.

            If there is to large a transient on the grid that the turbine cannot handle, the turbine trips. That is how it prevents over powering the grid. Normally the expected changes in grid demand are well within the turbine’s ability to change power to adjust to maintain proper voltage.

            The inefficiencies arise when a plant designed to be a baseload plant, (always expected to be at 100% power) operates at less than that it will run, however it is much less efficient. This causes it’s $/MW to go up making it look more expensive to run than it should be.

        • In the early 70s, I worked on a US Navy destroyer with 1200 psi 975 degree F steam. We could definitely drop from full power to idle in seconds, and without sending anything up through the stacks. (At “idle”, we were still generating electricity, but that’s minor compared with pushing a 4000 ton ship through the water at 20 or 30 knots.)

          A ship is not a shore-based power plant, but I can’t imagine a shore-based power plant not being able to decrease its power output in minutes. Fossil fueled; I don’t know about nukes.

          • Mike,

            Minutes sure, but you need milliseconds to keep the grid from destabilizing. On a ship, you don’t have the voltage and frequency regulation issues you have when many generators are independently driving a grid. The point is that the spinning reserves have to be much larger and more ready to go when unreliable renewables are on the grid, mostly because the predictability of demand no longer helps efficiently schedule generation capacity.

            If a generator is small, relative to the size of the grid, they can operate as motors providing opposing forces from grid supplied power to offset excess turning torque on its rotor. Using grid energy to offset forces that could otherwise be used to generate electricity is even more inefficient then just dumping excess heat into a heat exchanger, but it does allow the system to respond instantly to changes in demand or supply.

          • Curious,

            Yes, you can’t change the steam pressure fast enough to adjust the generator output in milliseconds either. Millisecond response is achieved by switching between producing and consuming power which can happen automatically as the load varies as long as there’s sufficient operating margins. In principle, there’s several layers of reserve capacity, the larger ones taking tens of minutes to hours to get up and running and the faster ones being more expensive per Watt.

    • Coal and natural gas are excellent fuels for running generators and most of our electricity already comes from them. There are a few nuclear plants still running. Investing in “Green Energy” is investing in quackery. There is no need, except that green fascists do not want humans to have abundant, cheap, energy. It makes us self-sufficient and, therefore, we have no need of their “services” as our masters. This is why there has been a continuous green assault on nuclear energy and why there is no money available for developing better reactor technologies.

      If you want a case study of what a mix you suggest does to an electrical grid, google “South Australia’s Energy Problems.”

    • With electric power demand MUST equal supply. There’s no other way. The electromagnetic wave travels about 8 tenths the speed of light from source to sink. Utilities know to turn down the fuel at night. Hydro dams like Bonneville controls use pumped storage. There’s a place called Banks Lake where they “bank” the power at night. They’re not “dumping” it, just rearranging dominoes.

    • No.

      Conventional plants seldom dump energy into a dummy load. If they did, the 2003 (?) blackout would have had less severe consequences for Ontario. Ontario suffered disproportionate hardship because the blackout forced the shutdown of Ontario Power Generation’s nuclear generating stations and xenon poisoning is the reactor cores prevented a restart; until the xenon decayed to cesium. The availability of a dummy load would have allowed them to run at a reduced chain reaction rate that would have fed neutrons to the xenon at the same rate as the xenon was produced, and then increased the reaction rate when they were next able to supply power.

      Operators of thermal plants plan the generator runs to only run at all if they can run flat out for the minimum amount of time to make a profit. If their planning is a little off, they will close all of the valves in to and out of the boiler, so everything stays warm.

      The reason that there are expensive and inefficient generators that supply power for short demand peaks is because trying to follow the demand curve with base load generators is even more expensive, than having peaking units. If the operators of intermittent generators had to buy the peaking power to cover their energy shortfalls out of their own pockets, investors would quickly abandon them.

      An inexpensive power storage technology will never benefit wind and solar operators in a level electricity market. The power storage operators running the largest profits would be buying when power is cheapest and selling when power is most expensive. In that situation, the operators of intermittent power will have to pay the market rate when they do not produce enough power and pay storage operators to reduce power when they produce too much. Operators with both power storage and intermittent power will make more money by shutting down the intermittent power and save on maintenance.

      The right wing “fanatics” do not want to run fossil fuels until “the cows come home”. What we want are throttle-able combined cycle, gas cored nuclear fission power, until nuclear fusion comes on line. When that happens, nuclear fission is scaled back to the amount needed to supply the fusion plants with the needed amounts of helium3. Surrounding the fission reactor with a heavy water neutron reflector improves the neutron efficiency. That some of the deuterium in the heavy water becomes tritium is transformed from a bug to a feature. The tritiated heavy water is centrifuged out of the rest of the heavy water. Some of the tritium is still used for making glow-in-the-dark stuff, but the rest is left to decay into helium3. As terrestrial He3 will be much less expensive than mining He3 from the surface of the Moon, the eventual fusion of deuterium and helium3 will be much less expensive.

      The only reason right wing “fanatics” appear to support coal and oil “uber alles” is that there are only three possibilities regarding a carbon neutral future:

      1) Accept a drastically reduced standard of living as we forced to use pay drastically more for energy. No society can afford to subsidize renewables for ever, so once the other options have been eliminated, the consumer will directly foot their energy costs.

      2) Decide that adapting to the climate change from continued exploitation of fossil fuels will be less expensive than preventing the climate change.

      3) Take advantage of nuclear power in a way that reduces our carbon footprint and IMPROVES our standard of living.

      Despite their yearnings for an authoritarian regime, the left wing “fanatics” have removed option (3), without making it impossible to vote between options (1) and (2). Unsurprisingly, people, who are able to choose between options (1) and (2), always choose option (2). People will choose option (2), not because they are right wing fanatics, but because energy poverty is not a merely a”first world” problem. Energy poverty in “first world” reduces the standard of living of the poor in the “first world” towards the standard of living for the poor in the developing world, with the added issue of a less clement climate.

      • Point being that China is busy building coal fired power stations outside China
        At the same time western countries shut down coal fired power stations at great expense.
        An expensive unreliable grid of wind and solar generated energy is installed to keep the ‘greens’ happy.
        It makes no sense.

  4. “The answer is 1.1 per cent”

    Bullcrap!…..not without another source of power to back it up
    …zero

  5. Over the years I have followed a variety of energy technologies. They all at least progressed to the pilot plant stage. They all failed for various reasons.

    Lately I have been following ammonia as fuel. The technique is to google for stories from the last month. Ammonia fuel seems to be losing steam. It doesn’t look like new research and projects are happening.

    The theory is that ammonia could be synthesized using surplus electricity from solar and wind. It’s cheap to store ammonia in tanks. The infrastructure to handle ammonia already exists. It can be burned directly as fuel or run through fuel cells.

    In spite of the above significant advantages, people seem to be losing interest. I really don’t see any other viable grid scale energy storage technologies on the horizon.

    • How about storing electricity as Aluminum. It’s about the safest way possible to store electricity. Use excess electricity to convert Aluminum oxide into Aluminum and then use a thermite reactor to get the energy back out as heat to drive turbines as it regenerate the fuel. As a bonus Aluminum production cells can produce the beneficial and greenest gas there is, CO2.

      • If they could solve the problems with aluminum-air batteries, they would be a game changer. link They would have eight times the capacity as lithium batteries.

        There are just these tiny pesky details …

        • Thanks for the link. I tried “aluminum” – no success. Aluminium! Curse those British colonialists!

          • Yup. And “glassiers” for glaciers. And “jagoowar” for jaguar. And how ’bout those Canadian hosers, eh? “Hooose” for house. And “oot” for out. 🙂

    • I’m amazed to see the bbc of all news outlets letting everyone know that the Chinese are burning coal to generate cheap, reliable, electricity. Used to be kept remarkably quiet, all things considered. Does this mean the gig is almost up? With the Sun having gone quiet and temperatures declining are we finally, after all this time, finally witnessing the beginning of the end of the Great Global Warming Swindle? I can’t wait to see Drax, here in the UK, running on coal again and not on wood chips from American forests thanks to climate crisis May.

  6. The reason that solar generation has dropped in price is not really due to major technological advancements, but is, instead, due to transfer of most manufacturing from Europe and North America to Asian countries with little or no labour or environmental regulation (CHINA, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, ..) . Consequently, the great solar leap forward would be accompanied by another kind of transfer.. that of Western democracies’ currencies to the yuan and rupee.

    Some of that currency will be used by China to finance coal fired generation world wide.

      • That was planned, but it has recently been canned by the Chinese Communist Party. The cost would probably have destroyed China’s economy. They are not particularly stupid, but they are great liars.

        The result has been a glut of solar panels on the world market, which will probably wipe out the marginally profitable manufacturing base.

    • And the reason China can be so competitive in energy intensive industries like Aluminum, Steel and Solar Cells is that their electricity is inexpensive. Not only are they exempt from CO2 phobia, they have low standards, if any at all, for real pollution. Producing semiconductors in the US has additional expenses due to the extensive regulations governing the many toxic substances involved. Going forward towards an economy where cost of energy is more dominant than labor, whoever has the cheapest energy will be the winner in global markets and China definitely knows this.

  7. Peter Foster

    Your post is timely as I got my quarterly “hydro one” bill just yesterday. On the front page is a bar graph with a headline: “What does my electricity usage look like?” The current quarter was 329 kWh. The bill is: $174.09 CND. Hmm, the cost per kWh ($0.53) seems a touch high don’t you think?

    Well, no worries. On the back page, everything is cleared up: $26.17 for electricity usage, and $137.47 for delivery charges plus $2.16 regulatory charges. So, without the delivery and regulatory charges, the real cost of my electricity (on-peak, mid-peak, off-pear) an average of only $0.08/kWh certainly something that hydro one can be proud of. Then there is a little caveat that I can do more in curbing my electricity usage including being mindful of the on-peak usage ($5.54) with links etc.
    I can alway shut off my refrigerator during the day and run it at off-peak hours.

    I am sure Mr. Trudeau would be pleased to know I am doing my part on Canada’s way to sustainability.

    There is just one thing that irks me a bit. Three wind turbines are within 10 miles and the red aircraft warning lights on their tops that I can see must have some sort of variance from the Municipality’s Dark Sky ordinance. They blink asynchronously. I call them: “Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod.”

    • Perhaps you could fill us in on what are the large parts then, and comment on why solar has dropped in price?

  8. So 1.1% of electricity needs, that is one fifth of total energy needs which is increasing at 2% per year. So they would have to build all the solar and wind ever built up to now every year. Within a few decades the equivalent of every square mile of Russia would have been covered with wind turbines and you would still need fossil fuel back up. 1000 tons of concrete under every one, road systems for construction and for maintenance, power lines and on and on, deaths of millions of birds- the horror.

  9. A house near us in southern England was badly damaged on Thursday night when it was hit twice by lightning. The chief fireman then actually said the extensive solar panels on the roof made it difficult to fight the fire for two reasons;

    The first being the danger of spraying water onto panels with inverters etc and the second that they couldn’t break into the roof through the tiles to spray water inside the loft space as the panels physically prevented it.

    I was interested as to whether solar panels actually attracted lighting (being struck twice is pretty unlucky) and it appears they do as the wiring/inverters etc acts as an ‘antenna’ for any close by strike-it doesn’t havre to be a direct one.

    The authors-a solar firm- said the whole installation needs to have a bespoke custom made earthing system otherwise insurance could be rendered void.

    Light/sun levels over the next 5 months will be low and of course the night time periods will also mean that the amount of energy generated during the period will be limited whilst the possibility of lightning damage or a fire will be ever present.

    • tonyb

      I was interested as to whether solar panels actually attracted lighting (being struck twice is pretty unlucky) and it appears they do as the wiring/inverters etc acts as an ‘antenna’ for any close by strike-it doesn’t [have] to be a direct one.

      The problem you describe (the question you ask) goes back to the first lightening rods invented by Ben Franklin: If my roof and chimney are “protected” by a very tall grounded rod ending in a sharp spike (to increase the electric field potential at the top of the spike above the chimney brick and wet wooden roof), MY house is protected. However, will the lightening bolts that do NOT strike my grounded pole “miss” and hit my neighbor’s roof and chimney and burn up HIS house?

      Asked another way: Is the neighborhood better protected if NOBODY has a lightening rods, and EVERY house will be randomly struck by lightening and burned up, or better protected by EVERY house having a well-grounded lightening rod (at much profit to the lightening rod installers!) and therefore EVERY house having a low probability of being burned up, but a higher probability of being struck harmlessly?

      That question will be answered differently by the insurance company, the lightening rod installation company, the inventor of the lightening rod, the maker of copper rods, the neighbor who DOESN’T want to pay for ANY “lightening rod” at all, the city fire department, the owner of the mortgages on the houses, the fire insurance company, …. It was answered with as many different answers in 1770 as in 2018.

      In your neighbor’s case, I suspect an isolated house (because he wants lots of solar exposure) with lots of sharp-pointed metal frames and corners sticking up into the air above the house. If these are not PERFECTLY grounded to the earth, your neighbor has built an expensive lightening attractor on his roof. With lots of profit to the lightening attractor company!

      • Thanks for that. It’s an issue that seems to be strangely absent from the sales patter of most solar companies who of course seem to have graduated there from double glazing companies.

        It was interesting to hear a firefighter actually mention the practical problems the panels present.

        Tonyb

  10. The drivers are green, renewable, and sustainable. The technology, not so much. The myths and obfuscation of their true color, longevity, and effects, from recovery to reclamation, only exacerbates their evolution.

  11. “What if battery storage becomes really cheap?”
    No, never, never- https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/auto/2018/10/11/electric-cars-petrol/

    The little lithium lego bricks that make up the modules and then the complete battery packs are now mature technology and made in very large numbers already with economies of scale. However if you’re to make billions of them to replace the internal combustion engine then demand for the raw materials will no doubt impact seriously on the cost of portable electronics-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=TdUqQZC2dcE
    As you can see it aint all about the base cost of lithium cells with trying to overcome the rather pitiful history of mankind in storing energy apart from in the form of calories and pumping water uphill.

  12. The most important variable in electric power generation is the morning and evening demand peaks. If battery technology ever becomes cost-effective it should be installed at the central power stations so that during low demand the power can be stored for use during the peaks. Tremendous boost in efficiency. Once again six hours of power from solar and who knows what and when from wind is an expensive nuisance, not a true power source. Give it up.

  13. I wonder about the use of batteries as a backup. Anyone know how much energy is lost in converting AC to DC and then back again to AC? Or is the original wind generation in DC? Pretty sure solar is DC. Right? Either way there will be a (substantial?) loss when converting battery-based energy to AC so it can be used.

    • There are substantial losses with the charging and discharging of batteries and it’s clearly of interest to the EV industry- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217303730
      However a more poignant issue with EV use is the tradeoff in battery longevity with quick supercharging vis a vis overnight slow charging while owners are asleep. That has significant ramifications with the future of autonomous vehicles and paywave per km with ride sharing whereby ICE cars/minivans can be quickly refuelled but to do that with full BEVs compromises battery longevity.

      Now while it’s true the degraded lithium cells no longer giving satisfactory performance in BEVs could find further use in stationary power backup roles eventually they’ll be landfill unless like the lead acid battery they can achieve similar economic recycling rates. In that respect it’s interesting to note that pioneers like Waymo (Google mapping) have chosen Chrysler Epica hybrid mini vans for their rollout rather than full BEVs at this stage. In that respect they’re mimicking Toyota’s view of vehicle electrification that hybrids offer the best bang for buck in largely stop/start urban driving situations.

  14. Chinese have a novel idea to save electricity according to the recent mass media reports.
    A Chinese city may soon rely on an artificial satellite to light its night time sky. The lunar project aims to cut down the cost of street lights in China’s cities.
    I think the project is bound to fail.
    Geostationary orbit is too far away to reflect much light unless mirror reflecting sunlight is ‘hugely huge’. A low 200-300 miles altitude orbit requires permanent firing of a retro-rocket, unless some kind of solar sails could be effective in maintaining ‘geostationary orbit’, either not any good when cloudy.
    Alternatively for about 30% of the time (about 9-10 days around the time of full moon) one could utilise the real moon’s light. When cloudy activate steer-able ‘radio telescope haarp type transmitter’ to punch hole in clouds tracking moon across the night sky, then dim the street lights, reducing the overall street lighting electricity consumption by perhaps 10% (effect as in here
    Either way, all in all a ‘lunatic’ project.

    • The Russians had a concept of a massive satellite reflector to provide additional sunlight to Siberia, so it would be warmer and more crops could be grown there.
      Probably actually doable as far a being able to put something up there like that, but the probability of it actually working according to plan and it being cost effective are very low.
      Still, it is much more feasible than most green energy plans.

    • So launch a string of them, with a gradual rotation to keep them aimed at the city as they go over at 300-400 miles above ground, and just when one gets out of range the next picks up and reflects light onto the city. Piece of cake! See, an engineer can solve any problem, it’s just that sometimes the solution outweighs the benefits. Like solar power.

    • “permanent firing of a retro-rocket”? All you need is to tilt the mirror, just like all satellites tilt their solar cells.

      • You misunderstood the point, in low orbit satellites are not stationary, they spend very short time before they ‘disappear’ behind the horizon, ‘retro-rockets’ firing would be required to keep the mirror geostationary.

  15. Oil is black, but “green” in limited quantity and distribution, and delectable in certain ecosystems.

    Hydrocarbon-based fuels have “greened” with technological development. CO2 is especially popular with the green, photosynthesis crowd.

    There are nuclear fuel cycles that are reliable, sustainable, clean, and “green.”

    A medley of thermodynamic and photovoltaic converters are equally “green” and circumstantially viable candidates in an energy production basket.

  16. Why is it that the financial interests who build the windmills are allowed to just produce this variable energy into the grid, to then expect the utilities to adjust to it.

    Every windmill should be required to have a very large battery at its base, at their cost , to smooth out the variable output.

    True it would be even better if the windmill was not there in the first place, but as we are stuck with them, they should be forced to smooth out their output.

    MJE

    • “Every windmill should be required to have a very large battery at its base, at their cost , to smooth out the variable output.”

      Oh you mean no tenderer of electrons to the communal grid would be allowed to tender anymore than they can reasonably guarantee (ie short of unforeseen mechanical breakdown) 24/7 all year round as well as providing FCAS to boot? Goodness gracious that would mean the unreliables would have to invest in storage or partner with thermal and pay them their just insurance premia or some combination of the two in order to lift their average tender. But who has the political cohones to tell all the mums and dads with rooftop solar- Oops sorry folks, welcome to true levellised costs of renewables and if you can’t guarantee the electrons you can keep them or turn them into heat.

  17. Why is it that the financial interests who build the windmills are allowed to just inject this variable energy into the grid, to then expect the utilities to adjust to it.

    Every windmill should be required to have a very large battery at its base, at their cost , to smooth out the variable output.

    True it would be even better if the windmill was not there in the first place, but as we are stuck with them, they should be forced to smooth out their output.

    MJE

  18. The part of the cost of wind turbines that you never see attributed to wind are all the transmission line upgrades that are being put in. These are easily in the hundreds of millions. The company I work for recently put in a 180 mile line to a neighboring power company “to ease congestion” at a cost of $1 million per mile. Claiming they were cost efficient due to being below the national average. Never once in the write-up was anything mentioned that this congestion was due to the large increase in the number of wind turbines that have been put on the grid in the last decade.

  19. Any dispatcher at any electric utility could tell you 15 years ago that Unreliables are the bane of reliable electrical delivery.
    Another thing, Why do they call them “Smart Meters?” The majority of them simply shut off non essential electrical loads, like a hot water heaters or Air Conditioners, to reduce load when Wind turbines or Solar unexpectedly quits providing power.

    • “The majority of them simply shut off non essential electrical loads”
      ….
      Nope. You obviously do not have a clue as to what a “smart” meter can, or cannot do.

      Please learn about them before displaying how ignorant of them that you are.

    • Tell me Mr. Usurbrain, suppose I have a “smart meter” installed. How does it shut off my air conditioner, but leave my refrigerator running? My fridge is not “smart” so how does this work?

      • When they tried ‘smart’ meters in a Johannesburg suburb some years ago, they tied a relay into the hot-water geyser line at the distribution board. theoretically, they could switch off just geysers in the case of insufficient power. Didn’t work! Also the Bluetooth transmission for meter reading went blooey, and began jamming all of the Bluetooth frequencies in the area. So all kinds of ‘remotes’ (car, garage, alarm system, weather station) stopped working until the meters were reprogrammed.

  20. This article reminds me of the housing bubble got started and we all know how that worked out.

  21. This article reminds me of the housing bubble got started and we all know how that worked out. All because of a computer model that assumed that the masses moved up to a newer home every 5 years. Who ever assumed that was wrong.

  22. Another problem with wind farms is in changing wind. I live in Czech Republic and precipitation last 5 years is much lower than decades before. Precipitation came to CZ mainly from west and wind farms were there build. Yet it’s a short time to determine if they are the cause of a wind farm, but if yes. It could be huge problem for whole middle Europe.

  23. This is a stream of fundamentally imbecile comments.
    Save for a few ones. Those of you who who can’t tell left from right and essentially see the world in B&W, should travel a bit to see countries with excellent power grids that are essentially green.

    [???? .mod]

  24. What a rubbish and politically motivated article. Countries vary widely in their use of renewable energies. Spain is over 70% from renewables as is Portugal. Renewables are certainly the future, but it takes time to change. This article is too far from reality to really change people’s minds.

  25. Here are some facts that don’t require consensus because they are plainly obvious; Justin Trudeau is a nitwit, an academic flyweight with no business being where he is. Solar power is good for helping heat swimming pools, charging cell phones and other light weight relatively unimportant uses, similarly wind power is great for supplementing highway signage and yet more lightweight tasks where battery power can actually provide useful backup. The heavy lifting can only be done by reliables consisting of hydro, nuclear and fossil fuels. Anything else is a fantasy and a gargantuan waste of perfectly good money.

  26. One of my neighbours, now retired, used to be high up until recently in Hydro One, the Ontario electricity supplier and he told me that Ontario was in a ridiculous position of having the highest electricity prices but actually generated too much and had to sell the surplus at incredibly low prices (he might have even said give it away) to Quebec and the USA, the surplus coming from nuclear and hydro of course not the wind turbines etc.

  27. “The report confirms what should have been obvious from the start:

    the more “variable” wind and solar are introduced into any electricity system,

    the more they make it both more expensive and less reliable.”
    ________________________________________________

    natural born Ponzi schemes – natural born economy killers!

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