Can wind and solar replace fossil fuels?

By Richard D. Patton

Statements implying that wind and solar can provide 50% of the power to the grid are not difficult to find on the internet. For example, Andrew Cuomo announced that

“The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030…”

Considering that the wind is erratic, and the solar cells only put out full power 6 hours per day, it seems a remarkable statement. Can intermittent energy actually supply that much power?

For some answers, we turn to Germany, which has some of the highest electric bills in the world as well as a high proportion of its electric power produced by wind and solar (19%). Let’s take a look at German consumption and generation.

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As you can see, the power generation (black line), especially after 2011, has been rising, but the power consumption (blue line) has been falling slightly. The red line denotes dispatchable generation, i.e. all power generated except wind and solar. This includes nuclear, fossil, biomass, hydro and geothermal power.

The table below shows what happened more clearly.

2001 2011 2016
Consumption 520.2 546.2 536.5
Dispatchable 539.1 506.4 496.3
wind+solar 10.6 68.3 116.3
losses+export 29.5 28.5 76.1

Between 2001 and 2011, wind and solar generation rose 57.7 billion kwh. The difference of dispatchable minus consumption fell by 58.7 billion kwh. In this period, solar and wind were displacing dispatchable power. Germany chose to reduce its nuclear fleet in this period, so fossil fuel use (mostly coal) remained strong and Germany’s carbon footprint was not significantly reduced.

In the period from 2011-2016, Germany’s wind and solar generation increased by another 48 billion kwh, but the difference between dispatchable generation and consumption was essentially flat at around 40 billion kwh. Losses+export increased by 47.6 billion kwh to 76.1 billion kwh in 2016. This increase is due to exports of 49 billion kwh to other countries in 2016.

While nuclear power fell 20% from 2011 to 2016, the dispatchable non-fossil fuel (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) portion of power generation remained almost constant, as can be seen on this graph.

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This left the German fossil fuel and the intermittent (wind + solar) portion of power generation.

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In this period, wind and solar rose from 68 to 116 billion kwh, yet this rise of 48 billion kwh had no effect on the use of fossil fuels to generate power in Germany. During the period of 2011 to 2016, consumption fell by 10 billion kwh. Fossil fuel generation fell by 5 billion kwh, and non-fossil fuel dispatchable generation (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) also fell by 5 billion kwh. The increase in wind and solar (48 billion kwh) had no effect on fossil fuel use.

 

Stability Problems, an example

To the problems caused by intermittent power, let us examine German power usage on January 7-9, 2016.

 

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This graph begins at start of January 7, which is a Thursday. The load line (black) shows low power usage. The spot price (orange, right-hand scale) is 25€/Mwh. The blue line is the sum of wind and solar power, and the red line is how much power is being exported.

The day starts and the load increases as people head to work. The spot price rises to 42 €/Mwh because the load is increasing. The wind picks up and the wind+solar line rises. It keeps rising throughout the day. As people go home and the work day ends, the spot price plummets to 12 €/Mwh because there are too many producers of electricity. To cushion the system, more power is exported.

The next day, the price rises in the morning but is still low (25€/Mwh) during the day due to high wind output. Around noon (hour 37) the wind power plummets. This is in the middle of the work day on Friday, so the load is high. Wind+solar was producing almost one-half of the power, but within four hours, approximately 15,000 Mw of power are taken out of the system while the system is near peak load. The spot price rises quickly to 47€/Mwh as the wind+solar power falls. The exports of power are reduced to cushion the system.

Notice that the exports move with the wind+solar power (positive correlation) and the spot price moves opposite to wind+solar power (negative correlation). The correlation coefficient of Germany’s wind and solar energy output and the exchanges with other countries in 2016 was r=0.503. The correlation between the spot price and the wind and solar generation is -.411.

Wind+solar underwent a nearly 6-fold increase in power over 30 hours, and the system must accommodate that power. Wind+solar then fell by 50% (25% of the load) in 4 hours. Exporting some of that power out of the system helps stabilize it. The spot price movements attract or repel other power producers to balance the system and prevent blackouts.

Despite these efforts, Germany is now plagued by blackouts. According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.

After all of this effort, including patience are the part of the public in accepting these continual blackouts, Germany’s carbon footprint has barely budged. The CO2 emissions from coal and coke have only fallen 2% between 2011 and 2016, due to decreased consumption of electricity. The extra 48 billion kwh produced from wind and solar plants built between 2011 and 2016 was balanced by exports of 49 billion kwh in 2016. In terms of reducing Germany’s carbon footprint, the entire effort is a failure.

Apparently, there is a limit to how much intermittent power a grid can use before it becomes unstable. German wind and solar use maxed out in 2011 at around 68 billion kwh, or 12.5% of consumption. Back in the 90’s, engineering textbooks on wind were saying that people used to believe that wind could only supply about 10% of the power to the grid due to stability problems, but further studies showed that it could actually supply 30%. The real-life example of Germany shows that the engineers who said wind could only supply 10% of the power had a point.

It has not been proven that the NY Clean Energy Mandate (or similar mandates elsewhere) can be met by relying on wind and solar power. Given the example of Germany, doubts are in order. As advertised by its politicians, Germany gets 19% of its energy from wind and solar. What they do not say is that it also exports 1/3 of that energy out of country, leaving its carbon footprint unchanged since 2011. Some small countries, notably Denmark, have advertised that they get 50% or more of their energy from sun and wind. What they really mean is that they have a large country (in the case of Denmark, Germany) next to them absorbing that power and selling them power when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down. Because it is a small country selling into a big market, its energy sales do not disturb the grid stability of the bigger market. It is a much different case when the larger country (Germany) tries it. Germany’s attempt, the Energiewende (energy transition), is widely judged to have been a failure. If New York goes down that path, it is not likely to do much better.

Sources

Andrew Cuomo 50% announcement

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-establishment-clean-energy-standard-mandates-50-percent-renewables

 

Data for graphs were sourced from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Unfortunately, this is a beta site, but there was no other link to international data.

The EIA website has generation and consumption figures for every country for the years 1980-2016.

The link for German electricity generation (including different sources – wind, fossil fuel, etc.) is:

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=00000000000000000000000000000fvu&c=ruvvvvvfvtujvv1urvvvvfvvvvvvfvvvou20evvvvvvvvvnvvuvs&ct=0&tl_id=2-A&vs=INTL.2-12-AFG-BKWH.A&ord=CR&vo=0&v=H&end=2016

The link for German electricity consumption is:

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=0000002&c=ruvvvvvfvtujvv1urvvvvfvvvvvvfvvvou20evvvvvvvvvnvvuvs&ct=0&tl_id=2-A&vs=INTL.2-2-AFG-BKWH.A&vo=0&v=H&end=2016

The correlation coefficients were calculated from hourly European data compiled by P. F. Bach. He did those same calculations and sent them to me in a personal communication; the numbers matched. Here is the download link to his website.

http://www.pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/time_series/ts.php

He got the data from Entso-e, a platform showing power genraton, consumption and transmission in Europe. Its website is here, and registration is free:

https://transparency.entsoe.eu/transmission-domain/physicalFlow/show

The power outages data are from no tricks zone. Pierre Gosslin, who runs it, usually has interesting facts about Germany. Here is the link to that:

http://notrickszone.com/2017/12/01/germanys-national-power-grid-mess-country-seeing-whopping-172000-power-outages-annually/

The links to German TV from that article do not work.

Also, from no tricks zone, a report form ARD TV in Germany.

http://notrickszone.com/2018/01/26/unstable-green-power-grids-german-ard-television-tells-citizens-to-start-getting-used-to-blackouts/#sthash.rvUw5X6k.PzjU81fG.dpbs

The link from that article to ARD TV is available below

https://www.ardmediathek.de/ard/player/Y3JpZDovL2Rhc2Vyc3RlLmRlL3BsdXNtaW51cy81MWU3M2MwYy0wYjljLTQ4MTgtYTk0My1lZmJiZGIzMGU5YmI/

My German is very poor, but the show said 473/day or 172,645/year. Also, the show linked the stability problems to storms and wind power. In other words, wind power was specifically called out for Germany’s stability problems.

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159 thoughts on “Can wind and solar replace fossil fuels?

  1. Wind and solar should be priced according to how much dispatchable power the systems can produce. As that is effectively zero, that is the actual value of wind and solar.

    • It’s all about storage.
      With sufficient amount of storage and an internationally interconnected grid, the effect of unpredictable local fluctuations at the supply side (e.g. cloudy days with little wind) can be completely removed.
      “Fast reacting” storage, for frequency stabilization and surges management, will probably rely on (expensive) batteries while slower higher capacity storage must rely on (pumped) hydropower already available in northern and some southern European countries.
      Deep international grid interconnection, and the existing dynamic pricing, will allow the system to work if fully automated storage management is set up.

      • Lets assume your idea was correct and now lets move to another country called Australia or even Japan

        Those don’t have any other countries to offload our oversupply grid power too. The nearest country is more than just a little far away and across a rather large bit of ocean. Remember every country has to be able to solve this problem because we are all viewed as exactly the same because we are all doing this for social justice for the planet.

        So no it is not acceptable for Germany to offload it’s power grid problems to other countries you have to solve it within your own borders or it is unfair and you are cheating.

        So currently the power social justice warriors are onto you, now revise your comment to solve the problem within Germany’s own borders.

      • All the pumped storage sites, in the entire world, wouldn’t be enough for Europe.
        What’s the rest of the world going to use?

      • “With sufficient amount of storage”

        Define sufficient. Fact is, wind/solar can be out indefinitely, requiring infinite storage all charged up and ready to go.

        “It’s all about storage.”

        No, it’s not. Storage is a head fake distraction, the plastic banana of the energy wars.

        • Actually, no. You define sufficient. Is it 5 days? 10 days?100 days?

          Do you seriously believe that with 100 days worth of storage that non-dispatchable sources couldn’t become dispatchable?

          The real question is not whether it’s possible. The real question is how much it’s going to cost and does it make sense to do it at that price.

          Look at Germany. With the commitment they have to renewables, their electricity costs around $0.40 per KWH. California has committed to going 100% ’emission-free’ by 2045 (imbeciles!). How high should we expect electricity costs to be in California in 2045? $1.00?

          Now, as an entrepreneur, the possibility of generating ’emission-free’ electricity (dispatchable with some kind of storage) and then wholesaling it to utilities in CA make my imagination run wild. I already have a scheme in mind, which would rely not on subsidies but on the stupidity of Californians and their politicians. It can be done, but why would sane people choose to go from first world to third world on purpose?

      • Marco Stefancich January 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm
        If you honestly believe that “With sufficient amount of storage and an internationally interconnected grid,” is the answer then I strongly suggest that you spend some time on Euan Mearns Forum
        http://euanmearns.com/
        and disabuse yourself of that Myth.
        He has many European wides tudies of Wind, Solar and Storage showing that it could only work at absolutely massive costs and for what?

      • The same issue of greatly varying power demand is true even of “dispatchable” electric generation stations. That is why the electric utilities in the US, at least, have for decades promoted processes designed to reduce peak power loads in the daytime with variable pricing, and even selective power reductions.

        The ideal electrical network would have 100% constant demand throughout the 24-hour day, throughout the 7-day week, and throughout the 365-day year, but of course, that is impractical for social and business purposes, and would ignore obvious changes in power demand effected by daylight and by seasonal changes.

        Germany is a particularly difficult nation in which to use variable renewable power sources like solar and windpower. Being in northern Europe, the peak solar power generation is in summer when seasonal power demand is lowest, and vice versa. Northern Europe is also not necessarily the best location for wind generation, because the most reliable winds are located in the Alps where it is the most expensive to build onshore wind farms.

        Much the same is true in the northern tier of US States.

        In the southern tier of US States, however, we have both the synchronization of peak solar power generation coinciding with peak seasonal electrical power demand (in summer), and wherein the southern Great Plains have the best wind generational potential due to the general wind patterns.

        Similar factors abound throughout the world.

        Relatively cheap energy storage is of course one way to flatten out the power generation curve. The most cost effective means will likely be hydrogen generation via electrolysis which can be performed right at the power generator location and then easily transported via pipeline to supply not only electrical power generating stations but also for vehicle and aircraft fuels. Hydrogen is a great energy storage medium, with very low conversion losses and using conventional transportation infrastructure that have been used for generations to transport natural gas.

        • “coinciding with peak seasonal electrical power demand ”

          I notice the warmistas have given up trying to claim that solar coincides with max use on a daily basis.

          Regardless, matching seasonally is a meaningless number, electricity must be used when it is generated, unless you have a means of storage. This is true regardless of season.

          While it may be possible (not likely, but still possible) that hydrogen via electrolysis will be the cheapest, but so what. It’s still nowhere close enough to cheap enough. You still have to deal with the losses from electrolysis and compressing the hydrogen. Not to mention the dangers of high pressure hydrogen.

      • Of course, we just need perfect cheap unlimited storage…when can we schedule the miracle? How about if we just had unlimited power pop up to begin with, at no cost? yep, that is a GREAT idea…

        • I have the perfect storage solution – store your energy in a pile of Uranium. When you need the energy, you fission it. problem solved.

      • We can make anything work at a cost. I can power the world with hamsters on little wheels, if I have enough of both. That doesn’t make it a good solution. All the “solutions” you mention cost big bucks, billions and billions, and that cost must be reflected in the rates.

        Germany is paying some of the highest electrical rates in the world, and failing to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. This exact outcome was predicted by many engineers, myself included. When the German people bought into this crap, there was no mention of all these additional expenses to make it work.

        And to add insult to injury, there are carbon free ways to make this system work at a fraction of the price the German’s are paying, and reduce carbon dioxide emission rapidly. But you insist on buying expensive garbage.

      • Not true.
        Plants worldwide benefit from the CO2 that’s released from using the hydrocarbon energie sources.

        • stored solar energy no longer available for plant life

          What is not true about that ? As long as it is stored it is not available.

      • The miracle molecule CO2, whether released in fossil fuel usage or from natural processes, is a boon for plants which can’t photosynthesize their needed energy supplies without it.

      • Why does it need to be for plants to justify a human use of it? Plants also provide us with the most delicious fruit to sustain us, so we will be around to propagate their seeds. Maybe we should try to make sure nothing eats the fruit as well?

        Nature’s processes do not care about ideological hang ups spread about by tertiary education sector posers who dogmatically think they know everything which matters but can’t see past their own lofty noses.

  2. Really interesting presentation.
    In Denmark we have had a huge public discussion about a high volatage line through Jutland to Germany.
    The aim of course to try to sell surplus wind power to the german market.
    The danish government has had to fight both the german government and local residents in the proces.
    I knew why the locals protested – now I know why the germans did the same.
    Like offering af drowning man water…

    • The imbalances caused by wind-powered electricity in Denmark is, I believe, mainly balanced by access to enormous hydro-power plants in nearby Norway. The existing cables to Germany don’t allow import/export on the same scale. The projected high voltage cables that are planned to connect to Germany, are intended to provide more balance to the system, but the Germans have fought the cables tooth and claw, to the point of violating the internal free trade zone within the EU. In the meantime, the Norwegians with their hydro-plants, are happy with the arrangement, selling hydro-electricity to us at peak prices and buying back wind-power at a bargain. We, the Danish power consumers, are at the not so happy end of that trade.

    • I though that Denmark was already connected to Norway, so that Norwegian hydro could stabilise the Danish grid.

      German has plans to do the same.

      The Norwegians are laughing all the way to the bank.

      • Not the Norwegian consumers, myself included, we are being forced to pay for interconnector cables which will result in Norwegian power prices matching Europes instead of being significantly lower!

        • Furthermore people believe that Norway can be Europe’s green battery. The reality is that Norways hydropower can balance Denmark or Swedish wind/solar production but not both of them. How we will manage to balance the UKs or Germanys when the cables are completed is a mystery. This is political posturing with a very high price tag by a rich country at the expence of their consumers. For some reason the local politicians also have plans for big onshore wind as well!

          • I wonder if anyone has looked at this issue on a large scale, both globally and temporally.
            Studying the interrelationships between the sources and sinks of a stable grid on a regional or even global level over time would be quite interesting.

        • I think the plan is to be able to indulge in bidding wars, so that surplus wind can be bought for negative prices, while making good money from the highest bidders during windless periods. The limitations include that it makes no sense to invest in pumped storage when simply interrupting hydro production avoids the losses in pumping, so it never would make sense to import more than instantaneous demand – and that itself assumes that the grid could distribute imported power appropriately. Also, it is necessary to ensure that hydro reservoirs are maintained within maximum and minimum limits.

          There’s an excellent discussion of the realities here:

          http://euanmearns.com/how-much-wind-and-solar-can-norways-reservoirs-balance/

      • It seems like a good time to be a Norwegian.
        Not a member of the EU, they get to sell their munificent oil and gas to silly foreigners who then spend their time and money building windmills to produce lots of electricity they cannot store and often have to give away at a loss to… the Norwegians. The Norwegians then store it in their hydroelectric fjord system and sell it back later for real profit when the idiots with the windmills need electricity again.

        Go Norway. It’s a win-win-win system. [I keep wondering if I am somehow related to some Norwegians through my Scottish paternal parentage.]

        • It’s not that simple, ref my comments above. Norway has no pumped storage either and a very limited ability to absorb exported power (population small, 5 and a bit million, and virtually no heavy industry).

  3. It is ridiculous, comical, surreal that any intelligent/informed/caring person still proposes wind and sun gathering to replace our total energy requirement. It is absolutely impossible to reduce total energy requirements to say 50% using “green energy”.

    Run a steel mill using wind and sun? Battery back-up for a week or two.

    The energy requirement for industrial production which is currently served being direct heat from hydrocarbon fuel burning, is more than electrical production.

    The heat required for ammonium production and refineries is for example a $2 Trillion/year energy requirement.

    No one is talking about industrial production energy.

    The green plan is ridiculous. It simply will not work.

    What is the point of spending money on a plan that will not work? Who is the denier?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/26/gates_renewable_energy_cant_do_the_job_gov_should_switch_green_subsidies_into_rd/

    Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or “technology” of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo were employed at Google on the RE<C project, which sought to enhance renewable technology to the point where it could produce energy more cheaply than coal.

    RE<C was a failure, and Google closed it down after four years. Now, Koningstein and Fork have explained the conclusions they came to after a lengthy period of applying their considerable technological expertise to renewables, in an article posted at IEEE Spectrum.

    The two men write:
    At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …

    Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.
    One should note that RE<C didn't restrict itself to conventional renewable ideas like solar PV, windfarms, tidal, hydro etc. It also looked extensively into more radical notions such as solar-thermal, geothermal, "self-assembling" wind towers and so on and so forth. There's no get-out clause for renewables believers here.

    Koningstein and Fork aren’t alone. Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn’t feasible. Merely generating the relatively small proportion of our energy that we consume today in the form of electricity is already an insuperably difficult task for renewables: generating huge amounts more on top to carry out the tasks we do today using fossil-fuelled heat isn’t even vaguely plausible.

    • William Astley:

      You rightly say.
      “It is ridiculous, comical, surreal that any intelligent/informed/caring person still proposes wind and sun gathering to replace our total energy requirement. It is absolutely impossible to reduce total energy requirements to say 50% using “green energy”.

      I write to add the following.

      Environmentalists call for an end to use of fossil fuels and they claim that carbon taxes are intended to promote the end of fossil fuel usage.

      But the use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture.

      All human activity requires energy supply. Prior to the use of fossil fuels the total energy supply available to humans was limited to energy obtainable from wind, hydro, solar, animals and slaves. Human activity increased immensely when the much greater energy obtainable from fossil fuels became available to do work initially by use of the steam engine.

      80% of energy now used by humans is provided by fossil fuels.

      Removing the use of fossil fuels would kill at very least 3.8 billion people (and probably many more than that), and require return to reliance on the energy obtainable from wind, solar, animals and slaves.

      Anyone who doubts the death toll would so high should ask a farmer what his food production would be if he had to replace his tractor with horses (answer to that question provides adequate explanation of the matter which is a little more complicated than that).

      Simply, the carnage from cessation of fossil fuel usage would be so great that it would pale into insignificance the combined atrocities of Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Pol pot while requiring return to reliance on slavery.

      I tell all environmentalists that if they are successful in ending fossil fuel usage but they and I survive the resulting carnage then I will accept them as my slaves but I will fight to not be their slave. And many others would fight with me because in that circumstance many would join with me in shouting,
      “I am Spartacus !”

      Richard

    • William Astley:

      You rightly say,
      “It is ridiculous, comical, surreal that any intelligent/informed/caring person still proposes wind and sun gathering to replace our total energy requirement. It is absolutely impossible to reduce total energy requirements to say 50% using “green energy”.”

      I offer the following supporting comments.

      Environmentalists call for an end to use of fossil fuels and they claim that carbon taxes are intended to promote the end of fossil fuel usage.

      But the use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture.

      All human activity requires energy supply. Prior to the use of fossil fuels the total available energy supply available to humans was limited to energy obtainable from wind, solar, hydro, animals and slaves. Human activity increased immensely when the much greater energy obtainable from fossil fuels became available to do work initially by use of the steam engine.

      80% of energy now used by humans is provided by fossil fuels.

      Removing the use of fossil fuels would require return to reliance on the energy obtainable from wind, solar, hydro, animals and slaves while killing at very least 3.8 billion people (and probably many more).

      Anyone who doubts the death toll would so high should ask a farmer what his food production would be if he had to replace his tractor with horses (answer to that question provides adequate explanation of the matter which is a little more complicated than that).

      Simply, the carnage from cessation of fossil fuel usage would be so great that it would pale into insignificance the combined atrocities of Genghis Khan, Ad0lf H1tler and Pol Pot.

      I tell all environmentalists that if they are successful in ending fossil fuel usage but they and I survive the resulting carnage then I will accept them as my slaves but I would fight to not be their slave. And many others would fight with me because in that circumstance many would join with me in shouting,
      “I am Spartacus !”

      Richard

      PS Mods, this is a repost because my previous post did not appear and I suspect that was because its inclusion of a correctly spelled but unacceptable name resulted in its automatic rejection.

      [Both in moderation. Perhaps Mods are a little slow today. Mod]

      • You stated: “Prior to the use of fossil fuels the total available energy supply available to humans was limited to energy obtainable from wind, solar, hydro, animals and slaves.”

        While I respectfully agree with most of what you have written, I note that there is one more source of energy that early humans used, and that is what is now called ” biomass”. Humans used wood, leaves, grass, straw, peat, and even dried animal droppings rich in undigested grass and hay, as energy sources from time immemorial, and some continue to do so today.

        IMHO, the main article does an excellent job of analysing the prospects of supplying the grid with Wind and Solar power in the absence of extensive electricity storage development, and Germany’s results from Wind and Solar.
        A point that the main article does not stress is that many activities are more feasibly carried out with fossil fuels than with electricity. For example, electricity cannot be used to replace the role of Carbon in the smelting of iron ore in blast furnaces, which are our main source of iron for steel production and consume vast amounts of energy. In blast furnaces, Carbon (in the form of Coke from Coal, sometimes supplemented with oil or natural gas), serves as both the primary energy source to produce heat to enable the smelting process, and as the Chemical Reducing agent that binds with the Oxygen in the iron ore and escapes as CO and CO2, leaving molten iron (called “Pig Iron”). Pig Iron is saturated with Carbon when it comes from the blast furnace. Pig Iron is then further refined via heat and Oxygen to produce Steel, which is essentially Pig Iron which has had its Carbon content reduced, and perhaps alloying elements added.

        This last point is implicit in the main article’s statement that proponents of Wind and Soar estimated that these energy sources could supply up to “50% of power to the grid” Since electricity provides about 1/3 of our power needs, that translates into about 15% of our energy needs coming from Wind and Solar in the most optimistic estimate.
        If all our land transport was converted to electrical power, we could eliminate the direct use of fossil fuels to power cars, trucks, buses, trains and construction machinery, but our requirements for power generation for the electrical grid would be correspondingly increased, and the expense and limited practicality of Wind and Solar as sources of grid power would remain.

        • Al:

          Sorry, but indirect use of fossil fuels cannot provide significant displacement of fossil fuels.

          I assessed all the possible ‘renewables’ years ago and am overview of that assessment can be read as Section 14 of the item at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

          You say to me,
          “While I respectfully agree with most of what you have written, I note that there is one more source of energy that early humans used, and that is what is now called ” biomass”. Humans used wood, leaves, grass, straw, peat, and even dried animal droppings rich in undigested grass and hay, as energy sources from time immemorial, and some continue to do so today.”

          The issue of biomass is directly addressed in Sub-Section 14.6 of the item I have linked where it says:
          “Like wind power, bio-mass is an ancient idea which has recently again found favour. Simply,
          bio-mass consists of harvesting crops for use as – or conversion to – fuel. Coppicing and
          charcoal manufacture were standard forms of bio-mass use throughout much of Europe for centuries. It also lost favour when the high energy intensity in fossil fuels became available by use of the steam engine.

          Bio-mass is solar energy collected by photosynthesis over a small area and a few growing seasons in plants that are not compressed and not dried. Fossil fuels are solar energy collected by photosynthesis in plants over large area and many years that is in a compressed and dried form. However, the use of bio-mass circulates carbon through the carbon cycle while the use of fossil fuels returns carbon to the cycle. Hence, the use of bio-mass to displace use of fossil fuels could reduce CO2 emissions. Any such displacement would be small because energy is consumed by harvesting and transporting the bio-mass to its point of use. There is a net loss if the farming, harvest and transport consume as much energy as the use of the bio-mass provides. This sets a limit on the area of bio-mass which can be grown for profitable use in any one place.

          Other forms of bio-mass include synthetic chloroplasts with accelerated growth to improve yields and production of ethanol from plants for transport fuels. The ethanol is usually blended with petroleum and its production from sugar cane is a major industry in Brazil.

          Simple calculations of the solar energy collection at the Earth’s surface demonstrate that no developments of bio-mass can be economic because the net amount of energy harvested can only be small (because of the energy required to farm and harvest it is large relative to the solar energy collected). Indeed, governments would not need to subsidise bio-mass if it were
          an economically competitive fuel.

          Bio-mass is not likely to be an economic method to avoid reintroducing carbon to the carbon cycle for centuries to come. Synthetic oil made from coal for use as fuel with (very expensive) carbon dioxide sequestration would be cheaper than bio-mass. Carbon dioxide sequestration captures carbon dioxide from combustion gases and stores it e.g. in aquifers or at ocean bottoms. And coal will continue to be available for at least the next 300 years.”

          Richard

          • Richard S. Courtney:

            At no point did I refer to “displacement of fossil fuels”. Nor did I advocate the use of biomass as a substitute for fossil fuels. Please re-read my comment more carefully. I was pointing out that biomass was available to, and used by humans, long before humans made use of fossil fuels.

            Even in times as recent as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, wood was used as the fuel source for smelting metal ores, as the techniques for producing coke from coal for smelting had not yet been developed. The devastation of forests from woodcutting for smelter fuel forced the smelters to turn to coal as their source of carbon for smelting.

            Your full paragraph from which I took a quote is as follows. You wrote:

            “All human activity requires energy supply. Prior to the use of fossil fuels the total available energy supply available to humans was limited to energy obtainable from wind, solar, hydro, animals and slaves. Human activity increased immensely when the much greater energy obtainable from fossil fuels became available to do work initially by use of the steam engine.”

            Your quote refers to the use of fossil fuels beginning with the steam engine.

            In referring to the use of wood, leaves, grass, peat and dried animal dung by early humans, I was referring to energy sources used by humans ever since the discovery of fire, which predated the steam engine by many thousands of years. Charcoal left by early humans is prized by anthropologists for Carbon 12 dating of early human habitation sites.

            If you had bothered to cite your paper, and included biomass in your list, perhaps you would have avoided your oversight. But arguing that biomass is stored solar does little to overcome your omission, since hydro comes from rainfall, the energy which is from the Sun, and wind energy comes from the Sun heating the atmosphere, but you expressly made reference to “wind”, “solar”, and “hydro” as separate items in your list – an unnecessary repetition or “tautology”, or a contradiction, to your later statement that solar includes bio-mass. If solar includes bio-mass and reference to bio-mass is unnecessary to include with “solar”, then it makes no sense for you to include hydro and wind in your list, since they are also solar in origin.

            If you wish to take your argument to its ultimate conclusion, you should state that all energy available on Earth is nuclear in origin, since all energy on Earth comes from nuclear activity within the Earth; or from the Sun, which is a nuclear reactor; or from nuclear sources in space. All heat, light, and other forms of energy from the Sun come from nuclear processes. Hydro power is available because energy from the Sun causes water on Earth to evaporate, and later to fall to the Earth’s surface as rain. Wind power comes from heating of the Earth’s atmosphere by the Sun. Biomass, including plants used by animals and sea creatures as food, grows as the result of sunlight and photosynthesis, or with the aid of nuclear heating in the deep oceans by chemosynthesis, at volcanic vents. Animals and slaves were available to humans only because the Sun provided the energy that made it possible for food to be available for them. Fossil fuels are thought by some to come from the decaying of plant and animal matter, and thought by others to result from nuclear heating and pressure deep within the Earth’s crust on carbonaceous materials. Gravity is now thought to result from the Sun, so even gravitational energy is thought to be nuclear in origin. And energy from volcanoes and from rocks raised into mountains by tectonic plate movements comes from nuclear heating of the interior of the Earth.

          • At no point did I refer to bio-mass as a means of displacing of fossil fuels. Nor did I refer to bio-mass as a substitute for fossil fuels. I merely pointed out your omission of wood, leaves, grass, peat, and dried animal droppings (now often referred to as biomass) from your list of energy sources available to early humans.

            Please read my comment more carefully.

            Your quibble that “solar” includes bio-mass is weakened by the fact that wind energy and hydro energy are also solar in origin but you expressly included them in your list.

          • Al:

            It seems that you are trying to be disruptive.

            This entire discussion concerns “displacement of fossil fuels”. It started when – as I said – I wrote to support the statement of William Astley which I quoted and which was,
            “It is ridiculous, comical, surreal that any intelligent/informed/caring person still proposes wind and sun gathering to replace our total energy requirement. It is absolutely impossible to reduce total energy requirements to say 50% using “green energy”.””” All else in this threads concerns my comments in support of that.

            And you attack my example copied from the item I linked at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf
            when you write,
            “Your quibble that “solar” includes bio-mass is weakened by the fact that wind energy and hydro energy are also solar in origin but you expressly included them in your list.”

            However, if you had done as I suggested and read Section 14 of the linked item then you would have read ,

            “14.1. Possible sources of ‘renewable’ energy

            All usable energy derives from the “big bang” which initiated the universe. All energy flows capable of conducting work are stages in the process from that event to the heat death of the universe.

            Fuels are stores of energy. They are commodities which can be stored, transported when and where desired, and used as required. Thus, they can be used to provide energy which can be distributed as electricity when and where it is wanted.

            Electricity is a form of energy. It is not a commodity. It cannot be stored in significant
            amounts and must be used at its existing distribution system when generated.]

            Only three processes provide energy flows which can be sampled by humanity. They are
             the residual energy which was concentrated in ancient – now dead – stars,
             the residual energy from the formation of the solar system, and
             the energy flowing from the sun.

            Processes which initiated during the lives of ancient stars have generated radioactive
            substances notably uranium. Amounts of these substances were part of the material which accreted to form the Earth, and they may be utilised as fuel in nuclear power plants.

            Residual energy from the formation of the solar system is observed in the power of the tides and geothermal forces. Indeed, it can be argued that the Earth and Moon system is still forming because these processes still continue.

            Energy flowing from the sun consists of radiations and particles. To date, only sunlight and solar heat have been utilised as energy sources by humans.

            All the three sources of energy have been suggested for provision of so-called ‘renewable’ energy.”

            The remainder of that Section addresses all the existing and potential methods that have been suggested for those three sources and says which they each are.

            COMMENT ON WHAT i HAVE WRITTEN INSTEAD OF ATTEMPTING TO DISRUPT DISCUSSION BY FALSELY PRETENDING I HAVE NOT ADDRESSED THE ERRORS IN YOUR POSTS,

            Richard

          • Cute. You post a screed to cover your mistake, and prevent a reply to follow your screed.

            I pointed out an omission in your first post. Live with it.

          • Al:

            Stop trying to disrupt the discussion your falsehoods. Everybody who can read can see I made no mistake.

            You would stop being disruptive and would state your case if you had one. But you don’t do that because you can find no flaw in what I wrote so you attempt to be disruptive and, thus,to distract attention from my clear, true and correct arguments.

            Richard

    • Mods,

      I have twice attempted to provide a post in support of the post from William Astley. I suspected the first submitted post obtained an automatic rejection because it included a correctly spelled but unacceptable name and, therefore, I resubmitted it with an incorrect spelling of the name but the resubmission also disappeared.

      I would be grateful if you were able to find one of those submissions and to post it.

      Richard

    • “It is ridiculous, comical, surreal that any intelligent/informed/caring person still proposes wind and sun gathering to replace our total energy requirement.”

      You assume static human population. Consider your statement against a global population of a hundred million people.

    • Re: “Germany gets 19% of its energy”. Richard Patton [or perhaps his sources?] at times to use the terms power and energy incorrectly. In many of his graphs, for example, energy in kwhrs is labelled “Power”. Power and energy are related but are not the same thing and are measured in different units. Power = (energy)/(unit of time). Energy = (power)*(units of time). This conflation of the two terms is not only confusing, it detracts from the credibility of his posting although his basic point is valid.

      • ” it detracts from the credibility of his posting ”

        As does not even knowing how to write the units. The abbreviation for watt is W not w so his kwh Mwh etc should be kWh and MWh. Trying to write an article about power and energy production when you don’t know the difference of energy and power nor how to write the units makes you look rather illiterate and ill-informed.

        It’s like not knowing the difference its and it’s or there and their while writing about English literature.

        Full marks for clearing linking all sources of information though.

      • I’m not sure where the 19% figure comes from. Checking BP World Energy Statistics, in 2017 some 13.37% was renewables, with a further 1.33% from hydro electricity. BP inflate electricity production figures by assuming that the alternative is a 38% efficient power station when they calculate primary energy tonnes of oil equivalent for non-fossil fuel sources. Arguably, if they assumed a CCGT at 50%+ efficiency, the primary energy equivalents would be lower. Of course, in Germany’s case, the use of coal and lignite is extensive, potentially making the substitute efficiency lower.

    • Energy is power over a period of time. Germany got “19% of its electric energy from renewable sources in 2017”. The mix of power sources changes from day to day and hour to hour and even minute to minute.

  4. Andrew Cuomo is such a loser he wants to join the “Dummkopf Club” to make friends at his IQ level. You vote for a boat anchor, you are not going anywhere, and it has the potential to drag you down with it. The smart money is getting out of New York.

  5. With today’s demand even in theory wind and solar can never replace fossil fuels regardless the build out. They can only augment it at an exorbitant cost and for no good reason. 50% replacement using current data would be a huge stretch economically and practically. The diminishing returns being experienced with wind and solar were well known but ignored to appease the Green blob. Balancing loads between countries with interconnects by following the sun and wind is a fantasy…. unless you are willing to endure probable brown and black outs. It will take more examples like South Australia before the world comes to its’ senses.

  6. Congratulations, this looks like a well-researched and written report. The wind plus solar crowd is willing to chop up and/or cook our feathered friends in a false, feel-good scheme advancing green energy. Looks to me like nuclear is the only way to go to satisfy all sides, both green and reality-based commercial. How far into the future we have to wait before the bird carnage is called out?

  7. Actually, the dumbest move of all was when Merkel decided that nuclear power, which had never has a single significant accident in 55 years,was too “dangerous.” She is replacing them with coal plants The Germans are a whole lot dumber than the Jews they massacred (an Israeli company announced a means of killing tumors using radiation)

    • Yes. Solar-thermal is just about the same non-starter, and must have not only storage but 100% backup, because when you size the storage for 4 showers that 5th person still wants a hot shower and doesn’t care that I can’t design infinite capacity without also incurring infinite cost. I did my first solar design ~40 years ago, and with careful choosing of very selective applications I could get a ~9 year simple payback. 40 years later, despite all the changes in costs of both electricity and natural gas, I still get an ~9 year simple payback with careful choosing of very selective applications. It is not improving and I take it as pretty much proven that it won’t get better in the future.

      • I think the point about solar thermal is that it is less bad, “costs less for the heat energy you get.” Any good use of solar thermal is used to augment heating costs… not replace it. Again, the value is not that high, but still more cost effective than solar electric panels.

  8. Leveraging on my personal experience and expertise:
    -Solar powered aircraft: FAIL (and I can technically explain the reasons)
    -Electric powered aircraft: FAIL, (idem as above)
    -Energiewende: FAIL (we endure the consequences at every moment)

    So far a perfect 3 out of 3 fail score. Furthermore, last time I checked, we don’t import oil from an alien planet. It’s part of our own ecosystem and, believe it or not, will be “burned” to the last drop.

    Because happens, it time, as long as it takes, it will finally surface and be decomposed to it’s constituents releasing that much carbon in a way or another.

    Which Is already without any possible controversy the case in the Gulf of Mexico. Where underwater natural oil spills can form mountains hundreds of feet high.

    Happy new year my Friends !

  9. Are these people stupid? It is obvious to anyone with common sense that energy from wind, the Sun and tides cannot provide a reliable power supply. If the wind doesn’t blow, the Sun doesn’t shine and the Moon is not Full nor New, there will be no renewable power available. The exception is hydro-electric, which is fairly stable unless the climate changes. Now there lies a paradox which should give the climateers many a sleepless night.

      • That is the sole purpose of this farce, backed up by the propaganda of gently turning wind turbines, visible for miles. Of course, it is not publicised that the rotors are either braked at higher wind speeds or powered to rotate when they are too low to prevent the bearings overheating and catching fire.

    • In Texas? In Holland? In Denmark? You need mountains to provide all that potential energy from rainfall to be dammed ( greenies hate those) and convert into electricity.

  10. Wind and solar requires two things to be “successful”. Corrupt politicians and willfully uninformed voters.

  11. I checked the website mentioned: Bundesnetzagentur

    https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/&prev=search

    then paste this into the google translate box:

    https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/DE/Sachgebiete/ElektrizitaetundGas/Unternehmen_Institutionen/Versorgungssicherheit/Versorgungsunterbrechungen/Auswertung_Strom/Versorgungsunterbrech_Strom_node.html;jsessionid=326D28C841CC62D3675896FB68D6218C

    It comes up with a table, in English of power cuts in Germany from 2006 to 2018.

    It appears to indicate about 860 power cuts effecting 50 million people per year!

    Thats the way I read it, may be wrong but does not tie up with the larger figures in the post.

    • No. Never rely on Google translate.

      862 is the number of netwok operators. The 50.5 million is the total number of users. The number of power cuts was 143 000 in the low voltage net and 23 500 in the high voltage net. Total = 166 500.

      “Unterbrechungen (in Tsd.)” means “Power cuts (in thousands)

  12. The Cuomo quote ‘renewables like wind and solar’ hides the fact (elsewhere in the report) that the state will be relying heavily on Nuclear power. Nowhere in the report is the formal definition of what will be considered ‘renewable’ formthe determination of the percentages.

    Electricity contracts for ‘100% renewable power’ are a marketing fiction, unless the connections between the suppliers and the consumers are isolated.

    Of some interest will be how the state handles its contracts with the generation mix coming from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which are already including a high proportion of hydro, wind and Nuclear in what comes into the NE US grid.

    • Such 100% renewable claims should be deemed false advertising when made by a business appealing to customers.

      It is doubly fraudulent. One is in the way that suggesting that shopping there is saving the planet. The grocery store boasting of 100% renewable power, do they chop the power to the frozen foods displays when the wind calms?

      The second is that it creates a false belief that we could get to 100% renewable power if holdouts and cheapskates would only pay the extra few dollars a month for it. This kind of thinking shuts down any rational public policy discussion on the subject, and public policy decisions are being made.

    • Thule was mentioned by Pytheas from Massilia who made an exploration voyage to northwestern Euope in the third century BC. “Thule” was the northernmost land he reached, somewhere north of Britain. It was inhabited and the inhabitants were farmers, so it wasn’t Iceland or the Faeroes which were uninhabited then and certainly not Greenland. The most likely candidate is the Shetlands, but it might conceivably have been Norway.

      Roman authors used to speak of “ultima omnium Thule” , “Thule the farthest of all (countries)”, which got abbreviated to Ultima Thule.

  13. Break this issue into three parts and consider them one at a time.

    1. The problem with using intermittent power is…it’s intermittent. Use of power is predictable (as long as you have enough consumption). It may change slowly over time, but that allows production to evolve with it. The way you tackle intermittent power is through energy storage. You need to build a large enough storage reserve and enough spare “capacity” to charge the storage when conditions are good, and then use the stored energy when power production conditions are bad. There are all sorts of energy storage solutions out there.

    The first problem is capacity – whether you talk of production or storage, you have to build so much capacity that the land use and capital needs become ridiculous.

    The second problem is energy density – Yes we can build large Green Energy farms, but do you really want 25% of your countryside (or more) covered in solar panels and windmills?

    The third problem is cleanup – What do you do when they have to be replaced? And they have to be replaced a lot more often then typical power plants, so the waste they generate is higher than most people think.

    2. Cost per unit of energy produced. This is where “Green Energy” just falls on its face. People hear of a 100Mw facility and just do not understand its not going to produce 100 MWh per hour. Its likely going to average 20Mwh per hour or less under real conditions. So if you price out the cost of the 100Mw facility and its “close” to the cost of a fossil fuel facility that produces 100MWh per hour, there is an assumption that the prices are reaching parity. It isn’t even close. It can appear close only when its makes up less than 20% (or maybe the right figure is 10%) of the total power production, but only by obscuring the true costs.

    Then factor in energy storage so that you can “even out” the energy produced by intermittent power and you double the price again. Yeah, we can BUILD such energy storage but it will cause energy prices to be so high you might as well shut done the country. And using batteries means replacing them every 10 years or so… Without a major breakthrough in technology, energy storage just costs too much (ignoring places where a niche technology can be made to work, like where water can be lifted into a reservoir).

    3. What exactly is the problem we are trying to solve?

    If you think its CO2, this isn’t going to solve the problem because it is self-limiting…It can never become more than 20% to 30% of the world’s energy production, and very likely less than 20%. Nuclear power can meet 100% of the needs.

    Are you trying to solve for real pollution? You need to tackle how to recycle the materials in solar panels and wind turbines BEFORE you start standing them up…oh, wait, too late. Nuclear power plants solve for pollution much better, assuming you have reasonable policy on waste recycling and storage in place.

    Are you trying to make the environment better? Solar farms and wind farms are far more destructive to habitat then other energy production plants are. Besides being bird and bat swatters, wind mills need heavy duty roads to them to allow big cranes to service them. That or use extremely expensive large lift helicopters and increase the costs of energy production even more.

    So in summary, yes you could in theory (ignoring costs) build a country’s entire energy production based on Green Energy…But the amount of land use, the cost of energy, and the environmental impact all prevent a sane government from doing so…and you are not solving any problems, just making new ones.

    • To your 1. point one could add (as we are taking about utopia anyway) intermittency can be tackled by combinimg different availabilities of wind and solar in different locations. Since there is always sun or wind somewhere on the planet, a very large worldwide grid could solve this. I think there was even a study on this. But as it seems impossible for a single highly developed country such as Germany to build this type of link from north to south, it falls in the same category as using batteries.

  14. “renewable energy sources like wind and solar”

    This is a virtual mantra. Whenever a warmer speaks their religion requires them to recite that.

  15. IMO it’s obvious that as of now, renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuels. But to say that this will always be the case is to suppose that technology will completely stop moving forward, which is not a good supposition.

    To suppose that nobody will learn anything from the experience of other countries, or do everything just like them, is also a very poor assumption.

    California in 2017 got 48% of their electricity from renewables (and for short periods has gone over this percentage), but a proportion of this is from large-scale hydro-electric plants, the output of which is subject to change due to drought. This includes all renewable sources; about 18% was from wind and solar – still pretty impressive, it seems to me.

    To suggest that NY will get 50% of electricity from wind and solar ALONE seems unlikely, but that’s not exactly what Cuomo said. He said, “…renewable energy sources like wind and solar,” which wouldn’t exclude biomass and hydro, neither of which are part of the discussion about Germany.

    What does it mean to say that “Previously, the German grid was impeccable”? Previous to when? Was there a point when there were no power outages whatsoever? Dubious.

    172,000 blackouts annually- what does this mean? How extensive were they, and how long did they last? It’s impossible to evaluate such a number without context – to assert that Germans suffered “continual” blackouts doesn’t seem warranted based solely on the evidence provided, in a population over 82 million. It’s not as if the whole country lost power 172,000 times annually.

    How easy it is to post numbers and make them seem to support one’s case. I’m not saying they don’t support it (I don’t know), I’m saying that one has to be wary of assumptions: the data that are missing are often just as important as those provided.

    • California has among the highest electricity prices in the contiguous U.S., which are twice the price of that in low cost states. It also imports about a 3rd of its electricity to support its green energy schemes. As this insanity spreads, prices will have to rise even more.

      The state is becoming ever more expensive to live in and indeed leads the country in homelessness, which is increasing at the highest rate for any state with a population over 1,000,000 people.

      There are those who would argue that affordable energy and housing is a higher priority. Others would be happy if the streets in it largest cities were free of human excrement, used syringes and needles.

    • “biomass and hydro, neither of which are part of the discussion about Germany”

      Germany uses both, but they have limited forests and not many sites suitable for hydro, though they are putting pressure on the Norwegians to use their hydro to balance Germany’s wind/solar.

    • Wouldn’t it be sensible to wait for the technology to develop, before deploying that technology.
      It’s a complete lie that CA got 48% of it’s energy from renewables in 2017. It might be possible that for a few minutes on a single day, the amount was that high. Possible, but very unlikely.

    • Renewables are not now, nor are they ever likely to be, competitive with fossil fuels. And forcing energy systems which are expensive, unreliable, take up vast amounts of land, and have a whole host of other problems onto the grid based on a fantasy of “saving the planet” is both mind-numbingly stupid as well as insanity on steroids. As far as technology goes, we are far more likely to be able to make advancements in the nuclear energy field. Nuclear energy is energy which can actually make sense. Renewable energy is just plain dumb.

      • Yeah, but in 2048, oh wait, now it’s 2049, we’ll have cheap, abundant fusion power. That will solve everything.

  16. The second figure in the post has no units on the Y-axis. It also only makes sense if the labels for nuclear and “non-fossil fuel dispatchable” plots are reversed; because it comes right after the statement that nuclear production fell by 20% from 2011 to 2016.

  17. It’s about time that renewable energy suppliers were legally required to publish only the real total costs of power to consumers and not simply the cost to themselves.
    For example, wind turbines included within a nations power mix cost not just the cost of WT’s but also the necessary additional cost of subsidies paid to WT suppliers, the almost 100% WT capacity as dedicated standby gas turbine standby units to always fill the varying shortfall in WT output caused by the capricious wind, the subsidies then paid to GT providers to compensate for inefficient GT standby operation, and the additional and enhanced power transmission works to feed power from remote WT locations to areas of actual power demand.
    Compare this to having just the GT’s alone with only their costs and no subsidies, and even then add in the costs of the hysterical estimates of future remedying the detrimental effects of CO2 emissions less, of course the benefits of such CO2. On such an honest and proper like for like cost comparison basis, there is no chance, whatsoever, of such renewable power can ever be cheaper than fossil fuelled power. The undeveloped countries, including the now developed countries such as India and China, recognise this and continue to ignore the IPCC, why can’t we?

  18. Wind and solar can provide 100% of your electrical needs.
    If you adjust your “needs” to suit the availability of power.
    Every “Off Grid” person knows this.
    If you adjust your life to serve the electricity available, you can have your energy “needs” met.

    Of course most of us love the luxury of having reliable electricity to serve our wants and needs at the time of our choosing.
    Lights at night,electric appliances at meal times,hot water on demand.
    Computer at will..
    Never mind the industrial needs for 24/7 power.

    The arrogance of our educated but idiot experts annoys me intensely, I want them to suffer the consequences of their “wisdom”.
    Let them be an example to us all.
    They proclaim themselves wise and “leaders”, I say let us help them.
    We need a special power grid run exclusively to the wise ones..while we make a “reality TV show of the bloopers.
    Cut them off from all the infrastructure systems that rely on baseload electric supply.
    Then broadcast their consternation.
    Add online mockery as desired.

  19. It’s not just the cost. A lot of fossil energy is consumed to build and maintain renewables. So called ‘renewable energy’ consumes more energy over its lifecycle than it produces. Renewable energy (as currently identified) is not sustainable.

    • Pangburn says: “renewable energy consumes more energy over its lifecycle than it produces.”

      False.

      Prime example, the firewood I burn for heat.

      • Drive a few miles to a store, purchase a shrink-wrapped bundle of firewood, drive back home, and the answer is no, even for firewood. That really becomes obvious when you consider the fuel required to go to the tree, cut it down with a gasoline-powered chainsaw, into pieces with a gasoline-powered log splitter, transport back to a facility for packaging, then transport it to the retail outlet.

        Since most people get small amounts of firewood (a cord or less), that’s transported from miles away, I suspect in most instances even firewood consumes more energy from its harvesting to the fireplace, than its burning produces.

        • MarkW is the only person on this website that considers a reference link to be “naked assertion.”

          • JPP, that link goes to a PR piece that has a little bit of info about what EROEI is, followed by a “naked assertion” that solar will go exponential, soon.

          • Solar has had a positive EROEI ever since they started installing glass windows on the south side of buildings in cold climates. Solar/thermal water heaters have a positive EROEI. With the recent price drop of silicon PV panels, they too have a postive EROEI.

          • As you are well aware, nobody is talking about solar thermal.
            Once again, do you take delight in being anal? Or would you rather contribute to the conversation?

          • “With the recent price drop of silicon PV panels, they too have a postive EROEI.”

            I’ll believe it when the Chinese start installing them domestically on a larger scale than currently.

            IIRC, the latest, cheapest solar panels have a shorter lifetime. (And the cost of the panels is only 25% of the cost of an installation, including maintenance.)

    • Dan Pangburn said:

      “It’s not just the cost. A lot of fossil energy is consumed to build and maintain renewables. So called ‘renewable energy’ consumes more energy over its lifecycle than it produces. Renewable energy (as currently identified) is not sustainable.”

      Every time I’ve head this I’ve asked for some detailed figures that demonstrate this, and I never get an answer. Can you support this assertion?

      If it’s true, I want to know about it, but no one who says it is true has ever responded with some references that demonstrate how it is true.

      • The fallacy of renewables is revealed with simple arithmetic.

        5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 3 cents per kwh https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=34552 produces $8.8E6.

        Installed cost @ $1.61E6/mW = $8.05E6. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/08/f54/2017_wind_technologies_market_report_8.15.18.v2.pdf
        Operation & maintenance @ $210,000/yr = $4.2E6 http://www.newenergyupdate.com/wind-energy-update/us-wind-om-costs-estimated-48000mw-falling-costs-create-new-industrial-uses-iea
        Total cost = $12.2E6

        Add the cost of energy storage facility and energy availability loss during storage/retrieval, or initial and maintenance cost of standby CCGT for low wind periods.
        Solar voltaic and solar thermal are even worse with special concern for disposal and/or recycling at end-of-life (about 15 yr for PV).

        The dollar relation is a proxy for energy relation. Bottom line, the energy consumed to design, manufacture, install, maintain and administer renewables exceeds the energy they produce in their lifetime.

        Without the energy provided by other sources renewables could not exist.

        Combined cycle gas turbine $614/kw ($0.6E6/mW) installed cost. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31912

        • If this is about energy required to build vs energy produced, you should be able to do your calculations without money being involved. Can you?

        • I mean, it’s as simple as this: Energy required to make the thing vs energy produced. If you don’t know what those two figures are, then how can you know the answer?

          • To make renewables look less egregious, ignore some of the direct cost (operation and maintenance) and indirect costs (manufacturing the steel, making the cement, building the roads, housing the people, etc.).

            Yes, given enough time and money actually accounting for the energy could probably be done. But why, it is all accurately accounted for by the dollar costs which are readily available.

          • Well, come on then!

            “A lot of fossil energy is consumed to build and maintain renewables. So called ‘renewable energy’ consumes more energy over its lifecycle than it produces.”

            So, energy to build and energy to maintain vs energy generated.

            Wind Turbine generates = (insert unit of energy here)

            Energy to construct = (insert unit of energy here)

            Energy to maintain = (insert unit of energy here)

            What is your dollar to energy conversion factor? How did you derive it?

          • This are green subsidiaries. Coal & oil barons pay for everyday news about weather catastrophies, COx… They wash our brains deeply every day so se are willing to pay green taxes.

  20. “….California in 2017 got 48% of their electricity from renewables…..” Misinformation, don’t drink that kool aid. Translated that means 48% (it was really 42% by their data) of the electricity produced in California in 2017 was from wind/solar/California hydro. That doesn’t count the out of state coal fired and hydro electricity that it pipes in and it doesn’t count low output/idle of the back up gas plants. About 33% of California’s electricity comes from out of state via hydro and coal. Gov Moonbeam is always throwing out fabricated and misleading numbers and the press just repeats them. Even on their .gov energy site they don’t tell the whole story and you need to read between the line for what they don’t say. California also has one of the highest electricity costs in the nation. What California did do right is replace almost all the coal fired plants with gas turbines.

  21. 1. Don’t call an interruption blackout. A blackout is when your whole network has a shutdown. All your generation has a shutdown. Therefore you need to restart your generation. This is complicated and takes time (hours to days). An interruption is when most of your generation is still working and you lose only a few customers (maybe a city) so in Germany we are talking about interruptions in power supply not blackouts.
    2. The number of interruptions in Germany did not rise. Look at the SAIDI: https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/DE/Sachgebiete/ElektrizitaetundGas/Unternehmen_Institutionen/Versorgungssicherheit/Versorgungsunterbrechungen/Auswertung_Strom/Versorgungsunterbrech_Strom_node.html (the blue bar chart) I live in Germany and haven’t experienced an interruption for years (how about you? )
    3. All interruptions in Germany reported (also in the TV show mentioned below the article) are caused by fires, floods or heavy storms, which destroys overhead lines. There is no relation to windpower or solarpower yet.
    4. Yes, Germany has to take care about these issues. And so they do.
    5. The export of power from Germany has (also) risen because of a (unlucky) change in the eeg law (IMHO in 2010). Since that buying Energy from Germany is very cheap. Foreign countries don’t have to pay the additional fee that support renewables. So for them solar, wind and coal power from Germany is very cheap. That causes also that Germanys CO2 emissions don’t drop.

    • You are confusing the word blackout with “black system”, in which the entire system has lost power. Like the situation in South Australia in 2016. A blackout is a situation in which part of your network has no power, like has happened frequently since. You could, if you wanted to be unnecessarily polite, call it an interruption, but that is basically just spin.

    • Puerto Rico suffered loss of electrical power (call it what you will) from a storm, too. But one of the reasons was because of the storm damage to solar panels. Their fossil-fueled plants suffered no such damage (the primary outages were caused by damages to the distribution grid.

      The vulnerability of solar and farms to violet storms, ice storms or snowfall compared to other methods of power generation must be considered.

  22. I think California and that Nut from New York thinks there really is such a thing as a ZPM.
    (Stargate’s “Zero Point Module”. )

  23. The state of NY gets lots of it’s power from Niagara Falls. That’s not wind or solar. They can afford to make such “sounds good” claims. CA and the rest of country can’t.

  24. “Germany gets 19% of its energy from wind and solar. What they do not say is that it also exports 1/3 of that energy out of country, leaving its carbon footprint unchanged since 2011”

    Excellent article, except for a small quibble.

    —————– 2016
    Consumption 536.5
    Dispatchable 496.3
    wind+solar 116.3
    losses+export 76.1

    76.1 / 116.3 = 65% of energy generated is 2/3rds of wind/solar. Unless 1/3rd of wind/solar energy go to losses.

    • There is a difference between generation and consumption. Total generation was 612.6 billion Kwh. A certain amount of power is lost in transmission and some is exported. Approximately 19% of the power generated was from wind and solar (116.3/612.6). That is where 19% came from.

  25. folks should be encouraging NY and California and Germany to experiment with going all renewable.

    data is good thing, as long as someone else pays for it.

      • It will if you cut the interconnectors to their neighbouring states. They will wake up the first time the wind stops.

        • I fervently hope that states supplying CA with electricity have public service commissions that allow only surplus generation to be sold, and prohibits consumers of that state from having to compete against CA wrt prices.

          Personally, I think it should be prohibited for any state to import any goods or services produced in a manner that is illegal in that state. If a state believes something causes enough harm as to warrant it being illegal, they should not be paying those in other states to do it.

    • Steve: Data is a good thing as long as it is honestly analyzed. (Remember the hockey stick.) California imports a lot of power from other states and exports excess power when renewable production is high. (Rumor has it CA pays AZ to take this excess production.) Renewable power requires more reserve. The availability of hydroelectric demands California’s variable rainfall and competing uses for that water.

  26. Lunar power panels. The solution is to add Lunar power panels to solar power and wind turbines.
    With this combination we will achieve renewable energy freedom.

  27. Despite these efforts, Germany is now plagued by blackouts. According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.

    Do you have a source for the last sentence? The data I can find indicated Germany has one of the most stable power supplies for low number of minutes without power in Europe. And that this has been stable for many years at the current level. I can’t see anything indicating the German power has become less stable.

    • I noticed that too. See my post below.

      Is that figure accurate, and if so, what does it mean? Is it worse than in the past? How does it compare to other countries?

  28. @Kristi Silber
    Currently about 73% of California’s electricity is dispatchable. That is enough to cover current non-dispatchable renewables. California is targeting by 2045 to have 100% zero-emissions electricity. This will require huge increases in wind and solar. This will drive the states energy mix of dispatchables to below 25%. There is no way to cover this short fall other than through huge additional costs for backup systems (non-renewables, no nuclear) or significant lifestyle changes by the people, which are never explained. California electricity costs are today already 25% higher than the national average. California currently imports 30 of its electricity because the state government refused for 50 years to invest in adequate infrastructure to accommodate its growth.
    And now it is going to kill off its remaining dispatchable natural gas and nuclear plants. All of this will not change California’s weather a whit.

  29. Richard D. Patton said:

    “Despite these efforts, Germany is now plagued by blackouts. According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.”

    What levels were seen in the past? What I could find looks like this:

    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-electricity-grid-stable-amid-energy-transition

    Minutes outage per customer by year.

    2006 – 21.53
    2007 – 19.25
    2008 – 16.89
    2009 – 14.63
    2010 – 14.9
    2011 – 15.31
    2012 – 15.91
    2013 – 15.32
    2014 – 12.28
    2015 – 12.7
    2016 – 12.8
    2017 – 15.14

    Germany has the second lowest annual interruption time in Europe, only beaten by Switzerland.

    Does anyone have comparison figures for 2018 (they may not have been compiled yet) that would let us see if anything has changed dramatically since 2017?

    • “Previously, the German grid was impeccable.” *

      * Citation needed (to put it mildly)

      Can you actually demonstrate that the grid was impeccable before, and worse now? How about some figures? How have you measured this? Or are you just making blind statements on the basis of 172,000 being a “large” number?

      • The problem is that there are plenty of reasons to doubt mass role out of wind and solar in Germany, so why include the stability of the grid right now as an issue? It seems like this “impeccable” statement is a belief that the author hasn’t investigated recently? Unless there is a source? The article focuses I think on the real problem at the moment, which is cost. You need to be really careful about putting out easily debunked statements like this. Both sides like to use them as a straw man to avoid dealing with any of the points. Either you write articles that have a chance of changing minds or influencing people, or else it is just for the clicks. If the former, be careful to not negate any influence you might have by gifting others a straw man they can easily pick and burn down.

  30. Fake news.

    “According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.”

    The reality is on the contrary:
    Power blackouts in Germany fall to record low in 2016
    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/power-blackouts-fall-record-low-wind-power-record-expected/power-blackouts-germany-fall-record-low-2016
    https://www.vde.com/de/fnn/themen/versorgungsqualitaet/versorgungszuverlaessigkeit/stoerungsstatistik-2016
    Here in in English:
    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-electricity-grid-stable-amid-energy-transition

  31. We can call them “Engineering Deniers. ” I used to wonder why the alarmist crowd continually babbled on incoherently about windmills and solar power, but I’m settling in on a theory.

    Politicians like infrastructure spending because that involves distributing money, which enhances political power of those who have the power to do it. So it helps get politicians on board with the global warming thing.

    But more importantly, converting electricity generation to wind and solar in an effort to fight emissions is a strategy that is both horrendously expensive and absolutely guaranteed to fail. If the “problem” of excessive CO2 emissions were solvable through CO2 capture at, say, steel mills and building out a new fleet of nuclear power plants, then it’s just a matter of going about doing so. But only with a failure to reduce emissions can one justify massive wealth transfers for reparation nonsense. And only next to proposals that will cost trillion of dollars do wealth transfers of hundreds of billions of dollars seem like a bargain.

  32. I wote for self-[breeding] thorium nuclear gen IV. We can cut polution in very short time, but there are other interests. Just surf YouTube. Thorium is 200 more efficient as Uranium, [much] more abundant, already operated in 1950, but stopped because it’s not useful for nuclear bombs.
    It is very fashionable to talk about green. Solar and wind need backup in the same amount in coal, gas, so we pay it twice. Our brains are exposed to everyday deep washing with CO2, climate disasters, so we are willing to pay green taxes to coal and oil barons. Nobody asks how much COx is produced for solar and it’s recycling, probably on the other planet…?

  33. If only there were a natural way to store energy from photosynthesis for a long time to be released when needed…
    Coal
    Oil
    etc.
    They are just natural batteries and burning them is recycling.

  34. What about geothermal. I know it’s not technically feasible now but how about the future. We are sitting on a big ball of molten lava. How long before we can tap into that energy. How about accessing volcanoes for a start.

    • There are plenty of geothermal systems, today. Iceland comes to mind. Hawaii has some, too.

      To be feasible on a large scale, your ‘big ball of molten lava” must be reasonably close to the surface of the earth. That severely limits the places where it can be utilized. Both the technology and economics have been changing, though, and the areas that are feasible for geothermal systems have been growing. Perhaps by the time fossil fuels become scarce, they will make the best replacement.

      Of course, you could ask Al Gore to design you a system that makes use of the ‘millions of degrees’ of heat he believes we are sitting on.

  35. The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030…

    I wonder if the “sources like” part means and some magical as yet not discovered new clean renewable power like maybe cold fusion from pixies.

  36. You have shown pretty well that no grid can manage more than 12% of intermittent renewables without becoming eggregiously expensive. Except of course for ERCOT which was at 18% wind in 2017 and likely got more than 20% from wind in 2018. By 2020 it is possible that they will be nearly 30% from wind+solar.

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