Excess costs of UK Weather Dependent Renewable Energy: 2018

Reposted from edmhdotme

Summary:  2018 using Renewable Energy Foundation data

Screenshot 2019-11-22 at 13.17.15.png

In 2018 UK Weather dependent renewables generated some 7.7 Gigawatts of power from an installed fleet of ~34 Gigawatts achieving a satisfactory overall capacity factor for Renewables of ~23%.  The installed fleet cost ~84£billion in capital costs with average costs of ~11£billion/Gigawatt produced in capital costs and ~42£billion/Gigawatt produced long-term.  Because of the comparative capacity factors Offshore wind and Solar PV were roughly equivalent in capital costs at ~15£billion / Gigawatt produced and ~60£billion / Gigawatt produced over the long-term.  The direct comparison in the UK situation with similar measures for traditional generation technologies, Gas-firing and Nuclear, can be seen to be substantially lower above.

This post gives indicative cost estimates of the current 2018 UK fleet of Weather Dependent Renewables, assuming no further growth, as both capital and probable long-term expenditures.

It shows clearly the likely cost differentials and overspend over effective traditional Electricity generation technologies, (Gas-firing and Nuclear) that Renewables incur and will incur to support political “Green Virtue Signalling” and the Government mandated “Anthropogenic Global Warming” hypothesis.  These investments might contribute to the reduction of about a quarter of the UK’s 1.1% of 2018 Global CO2 emissions.


These calculations clearly contradict the popular assertion that Weather Dependent Renewables are now price competitive with conventional power generation, Gas-firing  and even Nuclear power.  They only compare the comparative costs of their power generating capability, leaving aside other unquantified ancillary costs of their use in operation.

This post quantifies the scale of the fiscal waste and the burdens on utility bills attributable to the use of UK Weather Dependent Renewables.


This post gives indicative, (back of the envelope, expressed in £billion), estimates of the net capital and net 60 year long-term costs of Weather Dependent Renewables as compared to the use of Gas-firing for electricity generation in the UK.  These net calculations should avoid the market distortions arising from the political interventions that have been made to support Renewables.

The introductory table above shows that the indicative overnight capital costs of the current UK Renewable fleet is ~84 £billion and the anticipated further long-term costs would be ~350 £billion, were those existing Renewables to be maintained for the 60 year long-term.

They give an idea of the present scale of the bare costs for “Green virtue signalling” in the UK.  The equivalent costs using Gas-firing to provide a similar level of consistent power generation would be ~7 £billion in capital costs and a further ~31 £billion long-term respectively.

In the UK the three main forms of UK Weather Dependent Renewable Energy are Wind Power, (Onshore and Offshore), and on grid Photovoltaic Solar Power, about 75% of the Renewables total.  The other “Renewable” energy inputs include traditional Hydro power ~8% and the remainder are other sources such as biomass, waste and landfill gas amounting to ~17%.

In 2018 the UK represented only 1.1% of the global CO2 emissions and power generation only amounted for less than one quarter of those CO2 emissions, transport and space heating accounting for the remainder.

So making costly and self-harming modifications UK electrical  generation technologies can only have a marginal and minor impact on a very small proportion of current UK and global CO2 emissions.  That impact is even less if one looks into the CO2 emission and energy requirements of Renewable technologies from their use of fossil essential for their manufacture to demolition.

Whenever announcements are made about Weather Dependent Renewable Energy installations, they are reported as the full Name Plate rating, (in other words the maximum potential power output the installation can produce under ideal Weather conditions), and also disingenuously as the number of homes that could be supplied at their full level of power output.

The question of Capacity  /  Load Factors is never fully explained, so such announcements are deliberately deceptive.  Such promotional Renewable Energy announcements thus falsely assume that the wind blows all the time, (24/7), at productive speeds and that the sun shines overhead 24 hours/day and the seasons never change from summer.  In fact the 2018 the combined capacity factor of UK Renewables amounted to ~1/5th, ~22% of their installed Nameplate rating.

Comparative Cost Model for Electricity Generation Technologies
Screenshot 2019-11-22 at 13.17.45.png

The table above provides comparative costing for differing generation technologies.  It is derived from the most recent, 2017, US  EIA data in US$ on comparative costs of generation technologies.


The US EIA table quotes the overnight capital costs of each technology and the above table condenses the total costs of the technology when maintained in operation for 60 years expressed as £billion / Gigawatt.  These base data avoid the distorting effects of Government fiscal and subsidy policies supporting Renewable Energy.  It is hoped therefore that these results give a valid comparative analysis of the true cost effectiveness of Weather Dependent Renewables.   These EIA updates fully account for any recent cost reductions of Renewable technology costs, particularly those for Solar panels.

The table above assumes that the purchasing power of £1 is equivalent to US$1.20.  The service life allocated for Renewables used above may well be generous, particularly for Offshore Wind and Solar Photovoltaics.  The production capability of all Renewable technologies have been shown to progressively deteriorate significantly over their service life.

Note that in addition that these comparative figures are underestimates of the true costs of using Weather Dependent Renewables.  The results above only account for the cost comparisons for the actual electrical power generated accounting for the capacity of each generating technology.

The costs projected here ignore the ancillary costs inevitably associated with Wind power and Solar Renewables resulting from:

  • unreliability in terms of both intermittency and variability
  • poor timing of generation, unlikely to be coordinated with demand
  • long transmission lines with costly power losses and increased maintenance
  • additional infrastructure necessary for access
  • the costs of largely redundant back up generation only used on occasions but wastefully running in spinning reserve nonetheless
  • unsynchronised generation with lack of inherent inertia.
  • inability to recover from a “black start”, when essential after failure.

These net cost calculations should avoid the distortions arising from the political interventions in support of Renewables.

In addition these cost analyses do not account for:

  • The “Carbon footprint” of Renewable technologies, they may never save as much CO2 during their service life as they are likely to require for their manufacture, installation and eventual demolition.  When viewed in the round, all these activities are entirely dependent on the use of substantial amounts of fossil fuels.
  • The Energy Return on Energy Invested, Renewables may well not produce as much Energy during their service life as was needed for their original manufacture and installation.  They certainly do not provide the regular excess power sufficient to support the multiple needs of a developed society.

Renewables K.O.-ed by EROI?

The Renewable Energy Foundation time series data for the UK 2002 – 2018

The Renewable Energy Foundation reports on Weather Dependent Renewables and Green energy in the UK.


It has provided comprehensive time series data on Renewable Installations in the UK since 2002.  This includes the Nameplate rating of installations and the annual Gigawatt Hour electrical output over the year for each generation technology.  This post uses those data and provides graphic representations of the Renewable Energy Foundation information, with time series presentations showing the progress of UK Weather Dependent Renewables.

According the Renewable Energy Foundation data, 2018 was a reasonable year for UK Weather Dependent Renewables productivity. 


Productivity expressed as  a percentage capacity factor, (actual power produced / nameplate value), is crucial to evaluating the true comparative value of power produced.  The progress since 2002 of installation of Weather Dependent Renewables in the UK is shown below.Screenshot 2019-11-23 at 10.32.47.pngThe capacity figures that have been achieved in the UK are shown below.Screenshot 2019-11-23 at 10.07.53.png

Overall, on average the UK Renewables performance has exceeded 22%, providing a better than average performance for the year 2018.  Onshore Wind power, now substantially curtailed in the UK, has achieved capacities around ~25%.  Offshore Wind power has been more variable but achieved a capacity figure of ~35% in 2018.

But of course the “trip” of an Offshore wind farm on a breezy summer afternoon contributed to the major UK power outage of 9/8/2019.  An outage like that will be all the more severe and probably longer lasting one still foggy winter evening soon. Weather Dependent Renewables can not provide inherent inertia in the grid to overcome short term sudden variability and to enable a “Black Start”, if needed.

The productivity of Solar Power in the UK is consistently at the ~10% capacity level.

The two graphs below show the progress of Renewable installations in the UK since 2002 noting:

  • the gross over commitment to Solar PV Power 2013-2016, (yielding only ~10% capacity)
  • the remarkable cut back in Renewable installations that occurred in 2018
  • the very large future cost commitments made in 2010 and 2017 particularly for Offshore Wind power.  In 2017 this alone amounted a future cost of some 50£billion.

Screenshot 2019-11-23 at 15.41.45.png

Comparative Generation Costings

The table below gives a capital valuation of the current 2018 UK Weather Dependent Renewables fleet at ~84£billion with probable ongoing costs of ~325£billion.  This is approximately twice the cost of providing the same power output with Nuclear power and more than 11 times the cost of using Gas-firing for equivalent generation.

The excess capital expenditures of Renewables range from ~41£billion to ~77£billion.  The long-term excess expenditures range from 230£billion to 300£billion depending on the substituted technology.

These significant excess costs represent the wastage imposed on the UK population both via direct taxation and added to utility bills by the Government mandates imposing Renewables on the UK electricity generation.  That wastage amounts to a very regressive tax burden imposed on the poorer in UK society.

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 09.27.54.png

The following three tables show how differing existing Renewable technologies contribute to the Government mandated excess costs.  Onshore Wind power is the most competitive achieving parity with Nuclear power in capital cost but being about twice as expensive long -term.  Onshore wind power is only about 6 times more costly than Gas-firing.

Offshore wind power and Solar PV power are similarly cost-ineffective being 2.5 – 5 times more costly than Nuclear but about 16 times more costly than Gas-firing.  They together are responsible for more than 75% of the excess costs of the UK Renewables fleet even though they are responsible for only ~55% of the Renewable power output produced.  Together wastage in the capital cost from Offshore wind and Solar power amounts to some 60£billion with a long-term anticipated cost of ~230billion.

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 16.17.52.png

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 16.18.04.png

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 16.18.16.png


Weather Dependent Renewable Energy depends on capturing essentially dilute and very variable sources of power.  At the same time Weather Dependent Renewables are both capital and maintenance expensive and inevitably unreliable.

Weather Dependent Renewables are universally more expensive than the conventional alternatives of Gas-firing or Nuclear power.  ~2-5 times for Nuclear power and in the UK ~16 times more expensive than Gas-firing.

The late Prof David Mackay (former chef scientific advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change) in a final interview before his untimely death in 2016 said that the concept of powering a developed country such as the UK with Weather Dependent Renewable energy was:

“an appalling delusion”.

At the time he also said:

“There’s so much delusion, it’s so dangerous for humanity that people allow themselves to have such delusions, that they are willing to not think carefully about the numbers, and the reality of the laws of physics and the reality of engineering….humanity does need to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics.”

This costing model has followed through on Professor Mackay’s back of the envelope calculations. in the UK, showing that Weather Dependent Renewables, (Offshore wind and Solar Power), are approximately ~16  times more expensive in both capital and lifetime costs when compared to the use of Gas-fired Generation technologies.  At the same time Onshore wind power is only ~6 times more costly than Gas-firing.


The excess overspend instead of  using Gas-firing of the current UK generation fleet amount to some 77£billion in capital costs and the long-term costs approach a further 300£billion.

If the objectives of using Weather Dependent Renewables were not confused with possibly “saving the planet” from the output of the UK’s small amount, (~25%  of 1.1%,  much less than the annual growth in China and the Developing world), of Man-made CO2 produced by the UK for electricity generation, their actual costs, in-effectiveness and their inherent unreliability, Weather Dependent Renewables would have always been ruled them out of any engineering consideration as means of National scale electricity generation.

It is essential to ask the question what is the actual value of these government mandated excess costs to the improvement of the environment and for the possibility of perhaps saving undetectable temperature increases a 100 years in the future, especially in a context where the developing world will be increasing its CO2 emissions to attain it’s further enhancement of living standards over the coming decades. 

Reducing the UK’s minor part of Man-made CO2 emissions as a means to control a “warming” climate seems even less relevant as the long-term temperature trend has been downwards for last 3 millennia, since 1000BC,  towards the coming end of the current Holocene interglacial epoch.



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Chris Morris
November 30, 2019 6:30 pm

This post is confusing because the author does not seem to differentiate between GW and GWh. They seem to average Gwh to give a fake GW, when it is really the load factor. With electricity, it has to be generated when needed. That is why dispatchable power is needed, not what wind and solar provide.

Steve Reynolds
Reply to  Chris Morris
November 30, 2019 8:52 pm

Not to disagree with the main conclusions, but why the 18 year ‘full replacement’ cost for PV solar?
It would seem that just adding a reasonably small number of new solar panels as efficiency of old panels degrades could keep the same capacity at much lower cost than full replacement. There is no need to replace the other infrastructure such as inverters and transmission lines.

Dave Ward
Reply to  Steve Reynolds
December 1, 2019 3:03 am

“There is no need to replace the other infrastructure such as inverters”

Inverters do not last forever, and will probably need to be replaced at least twice over the lifetime of the installation.

Reply to  Steve Reynolds
December 1, 2019 6:47 am

Solar panels are by far the major cost for such systems.

Reply to  MarkW
December 1, 2019 2:02 pm

No, the price of silicon has been b dropping and it’s cut throat market. The ancillary electronics cost about as much ( ie roughly half the cost is the silicon ).

As Dave points out the lifetime of inverters is far shorter than the productive lifetime of the panels themselves.


The worst part of Prof Mackay’s “appalling delusion ” is that he seems to totally buy into the need for “zero carbon solutions” and CSS.

It’s a shame that he did not do a similar back of envelope calculation about how much difference it would make to global temperatures if the entire EU went “zero carbon” and how irrelevant this would be with China still ramping up its output of CO2.

William Astley
Reply to  Steve Reynolds
December 1, 2019 10:14 am

I hate when the authors list reliability numbers which they have gotten from vendors (vendors fib) that are known to be incorrect.

The inverters have a life of roughly 7 years.

The wind turbines have a maximum life of around 20 years. At 12 years the maximum output of the wind turbine must be reduced.

Reply to  William Astley
December 1, 2019 2:47 pm

Are there any windmills out there that have lasted the full 20 years?

Rick C PE
Reply to  Chris Morris
November 30, 2019 9:28 pm

Chris: The post presents the data in terms of capacity and production in GW and MW which is entirely proper. I only saw one reference to GWhr in reference to a data source. This can readily be converted to GW produced by dividing by the applicable time period in hours. If you have a 4 MW rated wind turbine and it produces 1 MW on average over the course of a day that’s a 25% capacity factor and 24 MWhrs of output that day. If it averages 1 MW output over the course of a year it still has a 25% capacity factor.

Curious George
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 1, 2019 7:46 am

A flour mill is not the same as flour. A generating capacity is not the same thing as power.

Nick Perrin
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 1, 2019 8:13 am

Thanks Chris . The failure to differentiate between power and energy leaves me finishing reading at first paragraph – a complete load of tosh.


November 30, 2019 6:45 pm

Solar and wind always require near 100% backup with conventional power to keep lights from going out when they aren’t generating significant power. Conventional power requires minimal backup with its 90% availability. Is the cost of backup power included in the wind/solar numbers?

November 30, 2019 6:51 pm

Rather than proliferate a Green blight, people who want to be green can choose a greenish alternative, disconnect from the grid, and plant a small, marginally intrusive, environmentally awkward, ecologically diverse windturbine and photovoltaic garden in their backyard. Think conservation, not progress.

Reply to  n.n
December 1, 2019 8:01 am

Right, and make sure the pinwheels and sun-rectangles are not white, and are of indeterminate gender.

November 30, 2019 6:51 pm

This should make it obvious to the most casual observer that Renewables are five to 15 times as expensive as Coal and Nuclear. For 20 years I worked at a Nuclear Power Plant that sold the majority of their power to the local industrial park at $0.03 per kWhr. Meanwhile they were selling the homeowner electricity for $0.05 per kWhr. Today the NPP is no longer in operation – they shut it down because it was “to expensive” and the y are now selling electricity to the homeowner for $0.12 per kWhr.
The “Jobs” that Renewable Energy will make are the jobs needed for the initial construction and continual replacement of the renewable energy generators. Worse, maintenance appears to be omitted from the numbers for Renewable. There is also the fact that about 10% of the nameplate capacity for electricity generated by Wind Turbines is consumed 24/7/365 just so that they will be ready to produce electricity when the wind blows.

Reply to  Usurbrain
December 3, 2019 11:07 am

Search for Kennecott Copper mine or Bingham copper mine and look at the pictures. This is what is needed for copper. The same environmental destruction will be needed for all of the rare earth elements needed to make all of the renewables. Worse, most of these areas will be in the federal protected areas of the US if mined in the US. How much fossil fuel is burned and CO2 emitted digging these holes? How can anyone claim to be an environmentalist and allow this destruction? The LEAST environmental impact is NUCLEAR. Eventually, we will have fusion, at which time we can switch to that environmentally friendly source of energy. The need for copper and aluminium are needed regardless of how the electricity is made.

November 30, 2019 7:03 pm

I rather despise the Brits, for what they’ve done to themselves with their “open borders” policies, their “hyper liberal politics”, and general self centered insane personal and social behavior. As a result of these problems, they are committing a slow but certain “National Suicide”. When you add to this mix the “green deal” (which really is a “Green Dragon” which will CONSUME THEM..) my original time table for complete societal breakdown, has been advanced from 2037 to 2025. Which means, I’ll get to watch.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Max Hugoson
November 30, 2019 7:58 pm

It is sad, but I may get to watch also.

Instead of finding ways to squander the wealth of the Nation, the government and universities, and other smart people, should have been devising ways of creating a new Nation in a changing world. I don’t mean a warming world.

Reply to  Max Hugoson
November 30, 2019 11:35 pm

As far as I can tell, Britain is in deep doo doo.

The other day I heard a radio piece by a woman who thought she would have to work to 75. I also read a piece commenting on a move to cut back pensioners’ benefits. They called it “mugging grandma”. A quick google found this. In the poorer parts of Britain, people don’t live much longer than 75.

Britain clearly can’t even afford to look after its old folks.

Reply to  commieBob
December 1, 2019 12:25 am

Ageing population, strain on NHS, pension burden: governments don’t want people living beyond 75. If global warming makes for warmer winters there won’t be all the excess deaths attributable to cold weather, the only way to keep them dying is to raise the energy prices. Think like a responsible government!
/sarc – I hope.

Reply to  Susan
December 1, 2019 2:05 pm

The most effective way to reduce life expectancy is by cutting health care. Britain has been a world leader at that since Thatcher was PM.

Reply to  Max Hugoson
December 1, 2019 1:45 am

Max Hugoson

Ive lived in london my whole life, and you are right, the open door policy of the labour government has ruined and “british” worth and value to england, every town and city is a multi racial hot pot, housing is so expensive (1300£ per month for a three bed house) then bills and food on top. The mayor of london, Khan, is looking to expand his “green zone” across the north and south circular roads which surround london, and it will cost £12.50 per day to drive in these zones 😐 London is packed solid, and £12.50 just to drive your kid to school or go food shopping is theft, but the “greens” want it, so it happens 😐 The NHS is dying due to costs, nurses and doctors are foreign, and hospitals are packed with “travel tourists” who comes over for free treatment.. The list is endless, but over all, you all are correct

Joel O'Bryan
November 30, 2019 7:51 pm

I think the appropriate term here for UK electricity customers is: BOHICA

Curious George
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 1, 2019 7:37 am

Thanks for expanding my vocabulary.

November 30, 2019 8:47 pm

The moral of the story is while clean, renewable, socially-inoculated greenbacks are tempting as original sin, don’t be be green, be green, not Green. Conserve.

Loren Wilson
November 30, 2019 8:50 pm

“In 2018 the UK represented only 1.1% of the global CO2 emissions and power generation only amounted for less than one quarter of those CO2 emissions, transport and space heating accounting for the remainder.” This statement leaves out all natural sources of CO2. The value is 1.1% of the estimated anthropogenic CO2 emissions. As humans produce perhaps 5% of the total CO2 emissions, The UK’s emissions are .011 * 5% = 0.05%.

November 30, 2019 9:26 pm

To quote the Bible, “” As ye sow, so shall ye reap””.

As the UK almost certainly leaves the EU, even with a good deal they the UK will suffer a lowering of their living standard until their new trading partners such as Australia and New Zealand can
can crank up the numbers of s sheep and beef stock.

If their politicians don’t have the guts to admitting to making a big mistake with embracing, then renewables , then expect demonstrations in the streets.

As for the nutty ideas prevelaaaaant there, expect blood in the streets as they the people lose patience and rebel.


November 30, 2019 10:11 pm

Did they include the CO2 emissions in the UK from the Drax power plants now burning wood whose CO2 emissions were not measured but “deemed” neutral, erroneously, which is known but has never been corrected as it’s the only way the UK can meet its Paris pledge, I presume?

The Obvious Biomass Emissions Error
Anthony Watts
“…In the name of cutting CO2 emissions, four of the six Drax generating stations were converted to burn wood chips over the last seven years, at a cost of £700 million ($1 billion). Hailed as “the biggest decarbonization project in Europe,” this facility now consumes about 9 million tons of wood pellets per year, shipped 3,000 miles from the US and Canada.
An estimated 4,600 square miles of forest are needed to feed the voracious Drax plant, with acres of forest felled each day. Replanted trees will take half a century to regrow. Despite the decarbonization claims, the CO2 emitted from the Drax plant is far greater today than when coal fuel was burned….”

Also, here.
Green Shock: Entire Forests Being Murdered to Produce Wood Pellet Biomass by Eric Worrall

Renewables are bad but adding in the destruction of forests to “Save the planet” brings the entire effort to a whole other level of insanity.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  KcTaz
December 2, 2019 2:37 am

Indeed not counted. But if it were and we assume that the wood is pure carbon it would add 33 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, taking the UK contribution to 1.2%. Also excluded are the emissions from the Dutch power stations that supply the BritNed interconnector – which are coal fired, and right next to the HVDC converters. Californians importing coal fired power from Four Corners are a similar case.

November 30, 2019 10:28 pm

This is the first article that I’ve come across that touches on the fossil fuels used, to create what are otherwise promoted as ‘clean green energy’.

The Greens talk about us needing to shut down the dirty coal mines to switch to clean energy. How many additional mines are needed, to provide the necessary materials to manufacture wind and solar energy? Do they know that the extraction of rare earth materials is a toxic process using acids and such and on a massive scale. I understand that these materials are used in other everyday products too but the unnecessary manufacture of renewable energy is increasing the need for such materials at an exponential scale. And all for nothing! Do they know that China is where most of this processing takes place and that serious ecological damage has already occurred there?

Have they thought about the size of the trucks, running on fossil fuels, that transport the materials from mines to processing plants? Then onto manufacturing plants, also powered by fossil fuels.

Australia, along with the majority of other countries who seem to have embraced wind and solar, don’t have their own manufacturing plants. Have the Greens thought about the fossil fuels used to ship this wonderful ‘clean and green’ energy to Australia and around the world, an then the road transport to it’s final destination.

Australia has been told that it needs to include the coal that it sells to other countries as part of it’s carbon footprint. Why aren’t the Greens held accountable for the fossil fuels used to provide wind and solar?

Seriously, can anyone answer that question? Why isn’t this very issue being pushed in the media? Loudly! Wouldn’t this expose a very naked Emporer!

The Greens should be audited on how much ‘they’ are pushing up CO2 levels! Even if from my point of view the whole thing is a farce and the agenda is something entirely different, there are so many people out there who believe it’s all true.

There must be some brave and honest journalists out there, I hope that isn’t an oxymoron too!

Reply to  Megs
December 1, 2019 3:00 am

Except for comparatively few exceptions, only pressitutes and reportwhores exist any more.

Reply to  icisil
December 1, 2019 3:03 am

Yeah, it sucks doesn’t it, we’re all screwed.

December 1, 2019 12:14 am

Why does the Uk have bipartisan support on Climate change. Whilst Boris is as bad as the rest at least he may have people within his party who surely realise that draconian measures won’t make a difference and will have substantial negative on the economy. Hopefully if Trump gets another term and takes further measures to get rid of the warmist scourge then pressure may come on the rest of the world to review the wisdom of going all out on renewables. Ironically by replacing a lot of coal fired plants with gas the US has in fact made better inroads on emissions than all of the European countries. In the UK it’s even worse than that because contrary to logic the wood burning DRAX plant doesn’t count in terms of emissions. An honest assessment of costs as undertaken in this article should lead to politicians making better decisions in relation to energy policy.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Zigmaster
December 1, 2019 3:10 am

Keeps the MP’s in their well paid seats and on the gravy train. I don’t see any other reason.

December 1, 2019 12:41 am

Building all the proposed windmills and solar panels both rely on a massive output of CO2 which will take many years to earn back by reduced CO2 output when compared with gas fired generators, in much the same way as the tree biomass used in Drax power station.

Iain Reid
December 1, 2019 12:42 am

Quote from the article:-
“The late Prof David Mackay (former chef scientific advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change) in a final interview before his untimely death in 2016 said that the concept of powering a developed country such as the UK with Weather Dependent Renewable energy was:

“an appalling delusion”.

At the time he also said:

“There’s so much delusion, it’s so dangerous for humanity that people allow themselves to have such delusions, that they are willing to not think carefully about the numbers, and the reality of the laws of physics and the reality of engineering….humanity does need to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics.”

This is the most telling part for me. It seems obvious that rather than being ignorant, which is bad enough, our politicians simply ignore the facts and continue on their renewables expansion knowing it cannot work!

Reply to  Iain Reid
December 1, 2019 11:52 am

Politicians live in a world where they know they will be gone by the time chickens come home to roost.
In the meantime their delusional actions are rewarded by re-election and unfettered access to tax money.
Some might call this pandering, I call it theft. In any case, the results are identical.

December 1, 2019 12:46 am

Weather dependent electricity generation induces :
– higher energy bills,
– higher taxes used to subsidize the “renewables”,
– less grid reliability,
– electricity spot market distortion by subsidized “renewables”,
– less efficiency of the coal, gaz power plants which have to compensate “renewables” power variability,
– serious ecological issues (bats, birds and insects killers, infrasounds nuisance, on and off shore biotop devastation (forests, fishing areas, etc.), more mining – neodynium, cobalt, etc.),
– and icing on the cake :
– equal or more fossil fuel dependence and thus, not less net CO2 emission, at the exact opposite of the “renewables” fairy tale, since those systems can’t even produce (during their whole lifetime) the energy needed to construct, maintain, compensate and operate them.

My suggestion to UK people (and many other countries where people suffer this fraud) :

Follow the money !

December 1, 2019 1:01 am

There are some interesting things to consider in your apples VS oranges comparison. Gas/nuke generation is dispatchable, you can’t compare this with renewable unless you account for the cost of storage/ and overbuild to make the renewable energy equally reliable. Solar works out to about 25 time overbuild for one day storage capacity. On this basis solar can produce 3-5% of nameplate. I call this REI reliable energy equivalent.

Also you MUST account for the consumption of energy by the renewable energy and climate ‘industries” because only generation beyond their self consumption is available for society. If the climate and renewable energy workforce didn’t exist demand would be lower by the amount these industries consume. I estimate in Australia self consumption amounts to 60-80% of generation when all sources of energy (including transport fuels) are considered.

On shore wind and grid scale solar require maintained cleared land, this displaces the CO2 sinks that could be grown on that land. When calculating emission free generation capacity this must be deducted by the displaced CO2 sink capacity.

When you take into account self consumption , reliability equivalence, and displaced sinks renewable energy is deeply negative. IE renewables emit far more CO2 than fossil fuels.

Reply to  Bobl
December 1, 2019 2:54 am


The key to wind power is NOT “Capacity Factor” at 20-30%, it IS “Substitution Factor” at 4-8%.


I wrote similar conclusions in 2002 that were confirmed by E.On Netz insightful “Wind Report 2005”:

E.On Netz, in their report “Wind Power 2005” describes the problems.
Formerly at http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf

[The archive link gets it. Mod]

One of the greatest disadvantages of wind power is the need for almost 100% conventional backup. E.On Netz (the largest wind power generator in the world) says the “substitution capacity” in Germany was 8% in 2003, and will drop to 4% by 2020. See Figure 7 in the E.On report.

“In concrete terms, this means that in 2020,
with a forecast wind power capacity of over
48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of
traditional power production can be replaced by
these wind farms.”

Another big problem with wind power is that power varies as the cube of the wind speed – this causes sharp peaks and valleys in the power output from wind farms, so extreme that it can cause the entire grid to crash – try that in winter – remember the 1998 Quebec ice storm? People died…

A near-miss occurred in German during Christmas week of 2004 – see Fig. 6 in the E.on report.

“The feed-in capacity can change frequently
within a few hours. This is shown in FIGURE 6,
which reproduces the course of wind power feedin
during the Christmas week from 20 to 26
December 2004.
Whilst wind power feed-in at 9.15am on
Christmas Eve reached its maximum for the year
at 6,024MW, it fell to below 2,000MW within only
10 hours, a difference of over 4,000MW. This corresponds
to the capacity of 8 x 500MW coal fired
power station blocks. On Boxing Day, wind power
feed-in in the E.ON grid fell to below 40MW.
Handling such significant differences in feed-in
levels poses a major challenge to grid operators.”

in summary, the problem with Wind Power is not just the Capacity Factor of about 20%, it is the Substitution Factor, which by 2020 in Germany is projected to be just 4%.

Given that the Substitution Factor is the governing factor (in most wind power applications, and in in the absence or a super-battery), I suggest that the real capacity of wind power in Germany today is … ~25 times less than gas-fired power.

Regards to all, Allan


Hi David,

The key problem with grid-connected wind power is intermittency, and the resulting lack of predictable, dispatchable power that is the primary requirement for grid electricity.

I have heard and read many energy neophytes say that grid-scale storage is the solution – and they act like it actually exists! In practical terms, it does not – except for a few rare cases where pumped storage is feasible – it requires a large water reservoir at the bottom of the hydroelectric dam, as well as at the top – this is rare.

So I would like to announce that I have invented a SOLUTION:

It consists of millions of huge flywheels that are wound up by wind power while the wind blows, and then the power is released back into the grid by tapping power from the rotating flywheels. For longer periods when the wind does not blow, the flywheels are spun by great herds of unicorns, galloping round and round at great speed. Once we have solved the unicorn-supply challenge we are sure to have a green energy winner! [I suppose I must say “Sarc/off” for the warmists out there, who tend to believe ANYTHING!]

Here is some history on the super-battery concept:



Thank you CWP – we’ll see what works – I remain pessimistic about super-batteries.

Years ago I proposed a super-battery that may someday materialize…


Storage of electricity is much easier said than done.

One interesting idea for electricity storage is a “super battery”, consisting of many plugged-in electric cars. This could be possible in a decade or two.

Regards, Allan

December 1, 2019 10:33 am

Thank you Moderator for this archive link.

Wind Report 2005 is an honest engineering report that details the serious shortcomings of wind power – perhaps that is why the E.On Netz power company took it off their website.

We have long understood the failings of intermittent, diffuse wind and solar power generation since forever. We also understood that CAGW, the justification for imbecilic CO2 abatement policies, is false nonsense.

In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton, Ottawa and Allan MacRae wrote:

1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

The use of “environmental protection” as a smokescreen for extremist political agendas and financial gain started in the 1930’s under Hitler, and was revitalized in the 1960’s by Rachel Carson et al with the DDT scam, the ozone scam, acid rain, etc., culminating in the global warming/climate change/green energy scam. Phony environmentalists and their destructive programs have now killed about as many people as the great killers of the 20th Century – Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

Hypothesis: Radical Greens Are The Great Killers Of Our Age
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., April 14, 2019

The brunt of this anti-human phony-environmentalism has fallen on the people of the developing world, and especially on young children – who have died in their tens of millions due to resurgent malaria, caused by the effective banning of DDT for ~30 years, the phony-green opposition to Golden Rice, anti-fossil-fuel falsehoods and other such phony-green scams. Jesus wept.

It doesn't add up...
December 2, 2019 3:21 am

V2G is never going to solve intermittency on the grid. If in the UK we had 30 million EVs with 100kWh batteries that would give a gross storage capacity of 3TWh. Today’s cold winter day demand for electricity is over 1TWh, with gas demand running to over 4 TWh, part of which is used to generate electricity. Normal vehicle demand would add a daily average of another 0.3TWh, and more in cold winter conditions. You end up with flat batteries pretty quickly during a winter cold spell when wind is minimal.

old construction worker
December 1, 2019 2:07 am

What a waste of money and resources. It reminds me of how Egypt wasted money and resources building pyramids only to go broke.
Reminds me of a old joke. A golfing foursome agree to each other to put $1000.00 in the casket of the first one who past away. When that day came the three did what they agree to. The first put 10 $100.00 bills in an envelops and place them in the casket. The third buddy took out the two envelops and put his envelop. Afterwards the three got together. The third buddy told the other two he did what they agree upon but “I removed your envelops and wrote him a check for $3000.00.”

December 1, 2019 2:22 am

Not much wind around at the moment, high pressure is dominating


“Heaven knows what we are all supposed to do when they have taken away out gas boilers!”

John Glazer
December 1, 2019 3:42 am

This article ignores the huge tax incentives given to the oil and gas industry which exceeds the incentives given to renewables. It ignores the considerable health risks from the emissions of burning fossil fuels. It ignores the huge amount of carbon dioxide emissions from extracting oil, transporting it to the refineries, refining it and then transporting it to its destination. It ignores the increased efficiency of intermittent renewable energy when combined with storage and it ignores the moral argument that we shouldn’t be burning a finite resource when other alternatives are available. Lastly there is a political argument that much of our gas and oil is bought from political regimes that use the income to promote terrorism and encourage instability in our western democracies. Eventually fusion power may come to our rescue but until then renewables have a lot going for them.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  John Glazer
December 1, 2019 9:08 am

Instead of this laundry list of platitudes, let’s see a hard dollar engineering feasibility estimate for achieving 70% wind and solar electricity in California by 2030 — something PG&E’s CEO Anthony Early said was easily achievable when he announced the decision to shut down Diablo Canyon by 2025.

The engineering feasibility estimate must include specific details as to which and how much of each renewable energy technology is to be used, where specifically the energy production and storage facilities are to be located, and how much new transmission infrastructure is needed.

Everything I’ve seen says that it can be done only by reducing per capita consumption of electricity to half of current levels, while the price of electricity must triple or even quadruple in order to support the massive battery storage facilities and the additional transmission facilities which will be needed.

More than that, in order to fast track the siting and installation of all this renewable energy infrastructure, the normal regulatory review processes must be abandoned and the facilities located wherever they are needed regardless of any environmental impacts.

Until we see this kind of detailed engineering feasibility estimate being done for a large geographic area such as for the state of California or for the entire United Kingdom, then all of these platitudes are mere idle conjecture.

Reply to  John Glazer
December 1, 2019 12:29 pm

Use your brain. Wind and solar farms get to depreciate their wind turbines and solar panels and the needed auxiliary equipment just like the oil and gas companies do. Since the oil and gas is removed it can no longer be taxed, the “property is gone those it can not be taxed. However, the sun power remains constant always as does the wind.
You should also look at the annual report for any power company. More than fifty percent of the price of the electricity you buy is federal, state, and local taxes. The price of the fuel/energy – gas, oil, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal etc is a small part of the cost.

Emrys Jones
December 1, 2019 3:46 am

What I find deeply annoying about UK renewables is that with tidal power we have a huge resource of completely reliable renewable energy, more than anyone else in Europe. What you will get at any time in the future is known and can be planned, so no need for gas generating power to kept running on tick over to cover failure. It is completely ignored and no efforts are being made to exploit it and none are planned. That I suspect is because it is not what Germany and the rest of the EU does, and we can’t have that. The prime example is the Severn Barrage which alone is (was) estimated to be capable of producing 1/7th of our electricity load. It used to be said that the Severn Barrage was far too expensive to build, but looking the expenditure on windpower I doubt that is any longer true.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Emrys Jones
December 1, 2019 9:44 am

I do not think EU is against UK building tidal power, but rather that we have a similar situation as with geothermal, that the techniques are feasible at some locations only.

Professor Dr. Tom Murphy has written a good article about tidal power, where he among other points write:

The Rance tidal power plant in France, built in 1966, has a peak capacity of 240 MW, impounding 22.5 km² on an average tidal amplitude of 8 m. Because it cannot always be generating at full capacity, it effectively gets 40% of this on average, or 96 MW.


As I understand it, Tom Murphy says that geography plays a big role.
Huge basins with narrow inlets are needed in order to produce enough power compared to the investment and the practicality. He also mention that Russia has a very big plan in the pipeline:

The large Penzhina Bay at the armpit of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia (not a comment on the region or people: merely a geographic analogy) has an area of 20,000 km² and 10 m tides. Cha-ching! It is thought this could provide as much as 87 GW if fully developed. A list of proposed future concepts total about 115 GW.

Emrys Jones
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 1, 2019 12:03 pm

I didn’t say the EU was against the UK building Tidal Power. As the EU would have had little influence in the decision I do not understand why you think their view for or against would have been important.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 2, 2019 3:37 am

I have studied the potential for tidal power in the UK extensively. It is all very costly because of the length of barrage required, and because the output is very intermittent, with huge fluctuations between spring and neap tides across the lunar month, and peaks and zeroes that move 50 minutes a day with the lunar orbit. Moreover, it turns out that the viable sites around the coast are more or less in phase on tide times, exacerbating the intermittency problem.

The Swansea Bay project was a farce: projected cost of (at least)£1.3bn to provide an average of 60MW. Even arch green Huhne cancelled development of the Severn Barrage ideas as impractical and uneconomic.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 2, 2019 10:52 am

Actually, La Rance produces about 540GWh p.a. according to EdF – just over 60MW on average. It is essentially the same size as the Swansea Bay project in terms of gross capacity (240MW) and generation, but benefits from being sited in an estuary, only needing 1km of barrage most of which is the turbines and a lock and some bypass sluices, and which also carries a main coastal road usefully, saving 30km driving via the next bridge upstream. The cost was €95m back in the 1960s. Very different economics all round, but hard to replicate.

More detail here:


Bill S
December 1, 2019 5:51 am

In order to reach the desired goal of the Greens of 0 C02 emissions, massive storage capacity must be installed in order to provide 100% dispatch reliability without fossil fueled backup. The technology for low cost high density storage capacity does not currently exist. Whatever the storage costs turn out to be, that cost must be added to the production costs outlined in the article in order to have a true apples to apples comparison of energy cost and equivalent on demand reliability of fossil fuels vs renewables.

The figures above also do not take into account the additional wind and solar capacity that must be installed in order to charge the storage capacity to a level that compensates for the intermittency problem. As a result of the necessity to keep storage capacity filled, we will need to replace existing electrical use with something on the order of 125% of wind and solar supply.

After spending all of the additional money, we will only have achieved what we have now, reliable on demand electricity supply. Higher cost translates into a lower standard of living.

This analysis also does not take into account the additional windmills and solar required to eliminate fossil fuel use in heating and transportation, plus the cost of the necessary storage to provide that additional capability on a reliable basis, plus the cost of the additional windmills and solar to generate the power necessary to recharge the storage capability.

The opportunity cost of the additional capital needed to make all of this happen is also not included.

To totally eliminate CO2 in the US with windmills and solar will require something on the order of 20% of the US land mass. This land is currently being used for something that will be lost as the land is cleared to the ground for solar, or impeded with windmills.

All of this misery will be incurred for a trivial reduction in future temperature increase of about .1 degree Celsius assuming acceptance of IPCC forecasts. Meanwhile, China, India, and the rest of the developing world is barreling along installing fossil fueled capacity at a rate that will quickly exceed US savings in CO2 even if we were to achieve 0 CO2 emissions. The net result is a significantly lower standard of living in the US for no net reduction in CO2 emissions.

Thank you to Great Britain for providing real world economics of the Green New Deal folly.

December 1, 2019 6:03 am

Using EIA or for that matter IEA data is using questionable data filled with fudge factors to represent the prevailing activist views.

e.g. From the notes under “Table 2”.

” 11) Costs and capacities are expressed in terms of net AC power available to the grid for the installed capacity.
Source: Input costs other than Advanced Combined Cycle are consistent with those used in AEO2018, and they are primarily based on a report provided by external consultants</i

“primarily based on a report provided by external consultants”. External consultants to the EIA have not been energy source neutral.


“9 Because geothermal and hydropower cost and performance characteristics are specific for each site, the table entries show the cost of the least expensive plant that could be built in the Northwest Power Pool region, where most of the proposed sites are located.”

“the table entries show the cost of the least expensive plant that could be built in the Northwest Power Pool region”; Table 2 estimates based upon the “least expensive”.
i.e. Fudge factors for desk jockey estimating.


“6) …
For hydropower, wind, solar, and geothermal technologies, no heat rate is reported because the power is generated without fuel combustion and no set Btu conversion factors exist.
The model calculates the average heat rate for fossil generation in each year for purposes of reporting primary energy consumption displaced for these resources.”

no heat rate is reported because the power is generated without fuel combustion and no set Btu conversion factors exist“.
Of course any heat generated through converting DC electricity to AC for the grid is ignored; as the losses caused by conversion are ignored.

The model calculates the average heat rate for fossil generation“; ah yes, the proverbial magical mysterious models so favored by the climate alarmist faithful.


“3 The technological optimism factor is applied to the first four units of a new, unproven design; it reflects the demonstrated tendency to underestimate actual costs for a first-of a-kind unit.”

Gross “Technological Optimism factors” are not derived from historical new technology projects that doubled or tripled their costs during construction and implementation. Instead they are desk jockey conveniences in pretense of assembling and representing real life costs.

Eyeball the “Table 2” column titles.
“Project Contingency Factor”
“Technological Optimism Factor”
e.g. Geothermal to be completed and operational in 2022 has a 1.07 “Contingency Factor” and a 1.00 “Technological Optimism Factor”… Right…
In simple terms, fudge factors are great when building cost model estimates…

Keeping in mind that the United Kingdom does not fill in EIA forms and submits them to the EIA!

Plus, the article uses data supplied by “https://ref.org.uk/energy-data
It has provided comprehensive time series data on Renewable Installations in the UK since 2002.”

That is; “Renewable Energy Foundation is a registered charity promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy.”

Data reported by a charity invested in promoting renewables? What could go wrong? Neither the UK government nor private installations have any responsibility to report data or even to report accurate data to a charity.

Tables of estimates generated from dubious sources, optimistic desk jockeys using data supplied by “external consultants”.

While the notes claim to use numbers without subsidies, government grants; the numbers supplied are curiously similar to alleged “Levelized Costs” which are based upon subsidies and government loans and grants..
Then if one reads the article’s text literally; “These base data avoid the distorting effects of Government fiscal and subsidy policies supporting Renewable Energy”</b. A statement that does not claim any such neutrality for eliminating taxes applied to fossil fuels.

Then, keep in mind that the EIA title of source data is “Cost and Performance Characteristics of New Generating Technologies, Annual Energy Outlook 2019
New Generating Technologies”; thus avoiding that nasty history of long term cheap energy production for installed capital and operating costs.

Included in the EIA report is a sentence; “Generating technologies typically found in end-use applications, such as combined heat and power or roof-top photovoltaics (PV), will be described elsewhere in the Assumptions document.”.
i.e. consumer installed “combined heat and power or roof-top photovoltaics (PV)” are treated as magical support numbers for solar generating facilities.
Once installed, consumer heat/power solar arrays never fail, need repair or are dismantled and they generate at full power forever.
The very common pumped solar hot water solar arrays get converted into BTUs generated and included into base solar PV numbers. The government applies an annual growth percentage to account for unreported consumer installations.

As the author, edmhdotme, above indicates; even using the various published tables, renewables are unreliable, inconsistent, expensive and very dubious. Once one accounts for data sources, optimistic modeling and implied biases, the conclusion is far worse than stated.

William Astley
December 1, 2019 10:31 am

This is one of a number of studies that found actual wind turbine power maximum capacity reduces year by year.

The reality is wind turbines need to be replace sometime at 15 to 20 years for onshore wind turbines and say 13 to 17 years for offshore turbines while government reports list a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

From the report:

“they (wind turbines) will continue to generate electricity effectively for just 12 to 15 years.

The wind energy industry and the Government base all their calculations on turbines enjoying a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

…. The report concludes that a wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than when it is 15 years old.


The analysis of almost 3,000 onshore wind turbines — the biggest study of its kind —warns that they will continue to generate electricity effectively for just 12 to 15 years.

The wind energy industry and the Government base all their calculations on turbines enjoying a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

The study estimates that routine wear and tear will more than double the cost of electricity being produced by wind farms in the next decade.

Older turbines will need to be replaced more quickly than the industry estimates while many more will need to be built onshore if the Government is to meet renewable energy targets by 2020.

The extra cost is likely to be passed on to households, which already pay about £1 billion a year in a consumer subsidy that is added to electricity bills.

The report concludes that a wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than when it is 15 years old.

The report’s author, Prof Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University and a former energy adviser to the World Bank, discovered that the “load factor” — the efficiency rating of a turbine based on the percentage of electricity it actually produces compared with its theoretical maximum — is reduced from 24 per cent in the first 12 months of operation to just 11 per cent after 15 years.

Claude Harvey III
December 1, 2019 11:10 am

The fundamental facts for solar and wind have never changed. Inherently poor energy density combined with inherently poor capacity factor result in too much material (capital cost) for too little useable power output to sustain the physical work production required of an industrial economy. Period…

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Claude Harvey III
December 1, 2019 12:22 pm
December 1, 2019 4:27 pm

Rooftop power may be a sensible individual choice but may not be an advantage for communities generally…yet

Electrical systems are still mostly designed around a central producer and one way delivery. How to design a system that incorporates tens of thousands of small part time generators that are also part time consumers is a contemporary “challenge”. Got a good cheap battery anyone?

Paul M
December 2, 2019 12:13 am

Vehicles use internal combustion engines which are inefficient and polluting, and their energy source is also a big polluter.
Switching to electric vehicles improves the overall efficiency but unless the energy used comes from renewables you’re shifting some of the co2 to the power stations.

Reply to  Paul M
December 2, 2019 2:08 pm

Wrong, a common turbo diesel achieves a thermal efficiency of 40% or even more (such as when waste heat is used for cabin heating) while end to end EVs only achieve about 14% thermal efficiency (assuming coal as the fuel) and emit about 2.5 times the amount of CO2 watt for watt. EV fuel efficiency is less than 5% from renewables (given how inefficient renewable are at extracting energy from the fuel source (sun or wind) and their low capacity factors)

It is NOT correct to say EVs are more fuel efficient.

Even taken alone EV efficiency can only reach 70-80% (charging, storage, conversion , and drive chain losses) when the batteries are new, and since batteries perform very poorly in cold and cabin heating needs to use primary rather than waste energy, efficiency can be very low for an old battery pack used in a sub zero temperature environment. Fuel efficiency of the coal fuel powering EVs can be as low as 5% (1% for renewable sources) for worst case operating conditions. Overall energy use efficiency in EVs declines from 14% in cold due to poor battery chemistry (energy used to warm the battery pack) while the fuel efficiency of diesel increases (up to 80%) due to the effective use of waste heat from the combustion process in cold climates.

Paul M
Reply to  Bobl
December 3, 2019 2:59 pm

Why do you mention coal? It’s virtually disappeared from the mix of power sources for the UK grid. By even mentioning coal you’re pretty much discrediting yourself.

Saying EVs are not more efficient is the kind of lie that would make the Koch brother proud.

You’re massively exaggerating the efficiency of a diesel in a vehicle… 40% might be achievable in theory but it’s held that diesel vehicles typically operate at 30%. Moreover, that 30% is once the engine is at operating temperature, and, the vehicle is moving. A stationary fossil-fuelled vehicle has zero efficiency other than as a machine for producing waste heat, CO2 and NOx pollution.
Well to wheel for a fossil fuelled car is piss poor.

Natural gas can achieve up to 60% ish. Losses in the grid are maybe 7%. An EV can achieve 75% wall plug to wheel efficiency. Overall then far better than an ICE. There’s a high correlation of EV owners to PV owners, thus many EVs are charged off, effectively, free solar.

Reply to  Paul M
December 3, 2019 5:42 pm

Paul, why is ‘Biomass’ lumped in with ‘renewable energy’ when it clearly produces CO2?

What recycling plants are in place in the UK for EV batteries and end of life wind and solar infrastructure, and what is the source of power to run these plants?

Have you done any research on the total carbon footprint of ‘materials’ sourcing (mining), ‘processing’, ‘manufacturing’, and all the transport involved in between, including shipping of EV batteries and wind turbines and solar panels globally?

Fossil fuels are used every step of the way. CO2 is produced on a massive scale to produce ‘clean’ energy, and to recycle it. And that’s not taking into account the ecological and social damage done in places like China, Africa, South America and others.

You can’t go sanctimonious about the UK not using coal these days because the fact is most other countries do. And just because the ‘clean’ energy infrastructure is made somewhere else it doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for the CO2 created when you use it.

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 5, 2019 2:43 am

coal is in decline overall, even in the US despite Trump’s rhetoric, it’s mainly China that increased coal fired generation (but that’s slowing).

I agree that a lot of biomass is bogus

Once a wind generator is installed or a PV panel fitted, and the wires connected to the grid, the marginal costs of the power generated is free. That’s not the case with fossil fuels (which are becoming ever harder to exploit), every kWh delivered incurs costs and pollution as part of the extraction and delivery.

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 5, 2019 2:45 am

did you notice that the Saudis are investing in solar in order to power their refineries (a typical refinery takes 200MW of electricity). They’re not doing it because they’re liberal tree-hugging greenies, they’re doing it because it makes economic sense

Reply to  Paul M
December 5, 2019 4:06 am

Paul, it makes sense in that there is plenty of sunshine in Saudi Arabia. Australia has done something similar at Adani mine in Queensland, plenty of sunshine there too.

But I stand by all that I’ve said in previous posts, the ecological damage has still been done in China and other countries. The CO2 has still been pumped into the atmosphere at an exponential rate directly due to the production of wind, solar and production of EV batteries. Can you see the hypocrisy in that?

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 5, 2019 6:02 am

if you calculate the CO2 and environment damage for, say, 1GWh of energy in two scenarios:

1. from turbine to wheels – if that energy was generated by a wind turbine, carried by wires to a house, charged an EV, then driving the wheels of that EV.

2. wells to wheels: the full energy cycle, initial oil exploration, making the oil well itself, transporting the well to the well head, powering the oil extraction machinery, pumping the crude, refining that, transporting it to the petrol station, and then the energy delivered after thermal losses of a fossil fuelled car of 70%, the actual energy fed to the wheels.

How does manufacturing an oil well plus the ancillary pipes and pumps compare to a wind turbine, to give the same peak output?

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 6, 2019 7:02 am

you wrote “The CO2 has still been pumped into the atmosphere at an exponential rate directly due to the production of wind, solar and production of EV batteries”

but at least once those things have been manufactured, the marginal cost of energy production falls to zero, the pollution is a sunk thing, at least for the lifetime of those items.

with fossil fuels, you’re still ravaging the planet to find more.

so, what do you propose? How about we continue until we render about two thirds of the the planet unfit for human habitation; the resulting wars, famine and disease from mass migration will reduce the population by 60% or more, thus allowing the planet to recover?

Reply to  Paul M
December 6, 2019 1:49 pm

Paul, the whole ‘clean energy’ scam is simply creating ‘additional’ and unnecessary ravaging of the globe. The included link gives you an insight into the damage done.


Once you are in the article, click on the embedded link that shows a picture from space of the mining methods used in China for mining rare earth materials.

Phil Salmon
December 2, 2019 12:48 pm

An ode to wind power

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: a rusting column, overgrown
Stands on a hillside. With it, close at hand
Half sunk, a long and curving shaft lies prone
Though wrinkled and corroded by the rain
Its sculptor’s purpose still is plain to see
A giant windmill, spinning to entrain
From tortured gearing, electricity
And on the pedestal these words appear
“My name is Andrew Cuomo, King of kings
Look on my works, deniers, and despair”
Nothing beside remains, round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, the meadows fair
And forests breathing life stretch far away

Johann Wundersamer
December 4, 2019 9:42 pm

“The introductory table above shows that the indicative overnight capital costs of the current UK Renewable fleet is ~84 £billion and the anticipated further long-term costs would be ~350 £billion, were those existing Renewables to be maintained for the 60 year long-term.”

“The service life allocated for Renewables used above

may well be generous, particularly for Offshore Wind and Solar Photovoltaics.”


60 years service life when:

“Solar cell efficiency – Wikipedia

Lower-quality cells have a more rapid drop in voltage with increasing current and could produce only 1/2 VOC at 1/2 ISC. The usable power output could thus drop from 70% of the VOC x ISC product to 50% or even as little as 25%. … The maximum power point of a photovoltaic varies with incident illumination.”



Wind Energy: Profits gone with the wind
29 Nov 2017

· The good news for German consumers: renewable-energy surcharges are dropping. The bad news for …


Johann Wundersamer
December 4, 2019 10:04 pm

In addition these cost analyses do not account for:

· The “Carbon footprint” of Renewable technologies, they may never save as much CO2 during their service life as they are likely to require for their manufacture, installation and eventual demolition. When viewed in the round, all these activities are entirely dependent on the use of substantial amounts of fossil fuels.”

Indeed. On the risk of repeating myself: Windelec blades in-recyclable:


Are solar cells recyclable?

“Right away, it’s clear that many of the core components of solar panels can be recycled on their own. Metal, glass, and wiring can all be recycled and reused:

Silicon cells, the component that is most essential to producing electricity, are a slightly different story.”
Aug 30, 2018

https://news.energysage.com › recyc…
Solar Panel Recycling in 2019: How it Works | EnergySage


Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
December 5, 2019 12:06 am

Johann I clicked on your windelec recycling site. You know that wind turbines aren’t made from timber don’t you, because that site talked about recycling timber.

As for recycling solar panels. The site you sent us to is simply promoting it’s product and stating that, yes it is possible to recycle solar panels.

There are not too many people here who would argue about whether or not you can recycle solar panels. We also know it’s possible. But is it financially viable?

Did you know that there are are only a relatively small number of recycling plants around the world. There are none currently operating in Australia, I believe there is still only a small number in the US. They are mandated in parts of Europe and you pay for this process up front in the cost of your solar installation. There are large numbers of solar panels currently going into landfill. Different places, even within the same country are responsible about the disposal of these panels, after all they are at the very least E-waste, but most are not responsible in their disposal.

The fact the it’s deemed unsafe (by some at least) to allow damaged panels to go to landfill due to the danger of toxic materials leaching into the soil, kind of makes you wonder what happens when a hailstorm destroys hundreds of hectares of them? Doesn’t it?

Did you know that the processing of the solar panels is different for different types of panels? Some of the panels require acid baths, it’s a toxic process. The materials they call rare earth materials are often not recovered, a small proportion percentage wise but massive amounts when you’re talking millions of panels. At this point, I believe the profits in recycling are small to non existent. It’s still cheaper (especially in China) to use new materials.

Speaking of China. Most of the mining, processing and manufacturing for renewable energy happens in China. The ecological damage done there is appalling. If you haven’t seen it the toxic waste created in the name of ‘clean energy’ is horrendous.

When people talk about the carbon footprint of renewable energy they forget to look at the full cycle. Apart from what I mentioned in the last paragraph, there are large amounts of ‘fossil fuels’ used during all the processes. The trucks at the mines are huge, they transfer materials for ‘processing’ then on for ‘manufacturing’ and finally on to ports to be ‘shipped’ around the world. Have you seen the trucks that deliver wind turbines to be installed? They run on fossil fuels. All forms of transport for renewable energy run on fossil fuels, every step of the way! The manufacturing companies in China run on fossil fuels!

This is why it’s impossible for renewable energy to counter it’s carbon footprint. This is why it will never be cheaper than other forms of power. All this and the output is rubbish and the land area wasted for it’s use is nothing short of criminal!

If you can read this and tell me something positive about solar and wind power then please do.

Paul M
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
December 5, 2019 2:37 am

PV panel recycling is a relatively new industry, mainly because PV panels haven’t been around all that long, and even when 30+ years old can still be useful even if they only produce 80% of their originally rated power, however, plants are being built for that. Likewise Li batteries from EVs (which get a second life for low performance installations).
If you consider a 12 panel domestic installation that’s in service for say 30 years, compare that with the household waste that would be produced (from food packaging to phones, tvs, computers, etc) and isn’t recycled, I think it’s fair to say that society has other big problems to worry about.

Reply to  Paul M
December 5, 2019 3:52 am

Paul, thank you for acknowledging the future problems of recycling renewables. Given that you acknowledge that solar panels are a new technology I don’t see how you can say that they will last 30 years. That assumes they are of the highest quality and they certainly aren’t guaranteed for anything like 30 years. People will install what they can afford, or are ignorant that there is a difference.

Here in Australia one in five systems failed for many years, the suppliers won’t take them back and most of them ended up in landfill. We put in 22 panels on our shed before we did all this research, fortunately, at least they are quality panels. We will never add a battery and we hope we don’t have a hailstorm. We live in the country and the roof with the panels on feeds into our 130,000 litre water tank. You wonder why we worry!

What is going to happen to hundreds of hectares of them? Will the soil and waterways be safe in the event of a hailstorm or fire?

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 5, 2019 5:52 am

yes, there has been a bit of a scandal about sub standard panels being dumped in Australia with lots of premature failures.

most panels are warranted to last 25 years with, say, 10% loss of performance. of course, trying to claim on that warranty is another matter.

if the panels are shattered, then I think its unlikely that toxic chemicals will leak out – it’s all bound up in the solicon, and the dopants in the silicon are a tiny fraction of the bulk anyway.

Reply to  Paul M
December 5, 2019 3:01 pm

Paul, damaged panels can and do leach out cadmium and lead if damaged. I have written out a paragraph from a Solar Panel company about recycling panels, it’s a promotional article, they’re not doing it yet.

The company is ‘Secure Futures’ and the article is titled “What you need to know about recycling Solar Panels.” The paragraph as follows,

“Recent research has shown that panels that are simply tossed into a landfill (i.e., simply smashed up) can leach elements like cadmium and lead into the earth and groundwater. Recycling panels is a much better option, not only for avoiding the introduction of contaminants into the environment, but also generally speaking, for the re-use of materials in line with the age-old Reduce-Reuse-recycle mantra.”

They are a large organisation in America.

There is another article that you would find interesting, just Google ‘Solar Power World’
“It’s time to plan for solar panel recycling in the United States”.

The second article is much more detailed.

These are examples of why I’m concerned about thousands of storm damaged panels covering hundreds of hectares of land and over waterways and arable land. This is why I’m concerned about damaged rooftop panels leaching toxic waste into into water tanks, water that we use for drinking. Or even the runoff that goes out to sea.

If you understand the full story you know that nothing about renewables has been thought through. That’s because none of it is really about Climate Change, this is all simply to devide
us. But what makes me really angry is that they are causing so much damage, risking lives and wasting so much money all for nothing, in regards to the environment anyway. Who knows what the future holds for us.

Paul M
Reply to  Paul M
December 6, 2019 7:04 am

, I shall go and read that, thanks.

Paul M
December 5, 2019 6:03 am

if you calculate the CO2 and environment damage for, say, 1GWh of energy in two scenarios:

1. from turbine to wheels – if that energy was generated by a wind turbine, carried by wires to a house, charged an EV, then driving the wheels of that EV.

2. wells to wheels: the full energy cycle, initial oil exploration, making the oil well itself, transporting the well to the well head, powering the oil extraction machinery, pumping the crude, refining that, transporting it to the petrol station, and then the energy delivered after thermal losses of a fossil fuelled car of 70%, the actual energy fed to the wheels.

How does manufacturing an oil well plus the ancillary pipes and pumps compare to a wind turbine, to give the same peak output?

Johann Wundersamer
December 5, 2019 7:37 am


Weather Dependent Renewable Energy depends on capturing essentially dilute and very variable sources of power –> Weather-dependent renewable energy depends on the use of essentially rare and very variable energy sources.

Paul M
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
December 6, 2019 6:58 am

but, Johann Wundersamer, fossil fuels depend on a non-renewable source of energy, which happen to be environmentally destructive and produce stuff which is toxic to humans, and is also getting harder to find (oil wells go much deeper now than even ten years ago)
so what do you suggest? hope that fossil fuels never run out?

Reply to  Paul M
December 6, 2019 12:40 pm

Paul we have enough fossil fuels to last hundreds of years. The materials used in making weather driven ‘clean energy’ is not finite either, and it has to be built on a massive scale and often.

Wind and solar is not a good substitute if you are looking to reduce CO2, the ‘making and eventual recycling’ of it creates more of it than it will offset. It is simply additional and unnecessary ‘environmental destruction’.

Hopefully they’ll come up with something else, something properly thought through, some time in the near future. Meantime, CO2 is not going to be the end of us all.

Paul M
Reply to  Megs
December 7, 2019 4:17 pm

put aside the CO2 for the moment, are you going to respond to the issue of toxicity from burning fossil fuels? so far people have argued vaguely against my points about diesel and failed to actually come up with any actual citations to back up their arguments.
did you answer the question about the true cost of bringing a new oil well online, in comparison to a wind turbine? Also, tack onto that research, the cost of decommissioning said oil well, vs the turbine, what can be recycled, what can’t, and how much that costs.

@niceguy here in the UK the shift from petrol to diesel was pretty quick. I don’t recall suggesting we scrap every fossil fuelled vehicle, so I don’t know why you came up with that FUD.

Reply to  Paul M
December 7, 2019 5:47 pm

Paul, CO2 is the ‘whole’ issue! The whole Climate Change scam says that rising anthropogenic CO2 thing is what we need to reduce, or to the extreme eliminate, to save the world! Wind turbines and solar, by the way they come about do not even reduce CO2 emissions, let alone eliminate them.

As far as the toxicity of fossil fuels versus wind and solar, you know my stance on that. Did you not look at the link I sent you? The manufacture and installation of wind and solar is not a one off thing, it’s ongoing, the CO2 is still being added to, the ecological damage is still being done.

If wind and solar production stopped today, there would be a lot less mining, a lot less CO2, reduced ecological damage and more available land!

In regards to the differences in cost etc between oil infrastructure and turbines, if you think that turbines come out in front then you do the research, I have no interest in the answer. Nothing can justify building turbines.

When you do the research, don’t forget that you’re not talking about one turbine, how many?, and they have a relatively short life. You’ll need to research that too, the talked up version and the reality. Don’t forget that the blades are made from rare earth materials so they’re tricky to recycle. And of course you can’t run an EV without a battery, so that cost needs to be included too. Something that is of the utmost importance when conducting this research is how much extra land will be taken up by the turbines, and what that is likely to cost? Did you know that nearby residents have no say as to where turbines or solar plants go? They can put them up in a thousand hectares right next door to you and there is nothing you can do about it. How do you factor in that cost?

EV batteries are huge, and expensive, they are also something to consider in the event of an accident. Towing companies don’t know how to deal with them, damaged batteries can be dangerous.

When you are comparing oil verses turbines the the logic suggests that you are promoting the use of EV’s. This is a car for the wealthy, when it comes time to replace the battery it will be a significant cost, and people who don’t have a lot of money tend to keep their cars longer. What about the people who can’t afford an EV? Are they going to be punished with higher prices at the petrol pump?

I don’t think it’s worth going any further with this thread Peter, we are at the end of the post and it’s likely that very few people are reading it. If I am going to spend so much time making comments then I would prefer that it was a broader conversation.

Truth be known, if I had a choice about moving away from oil and coal it would be to nuclear, that’s not an option in this country at the moment. Wind and solar is raping vast areas of land, leaving behind an ecological nightmare, and all for nothing.

Reply to  Paul M
December 7, 2019 1:31 pm

We suggest to preserve the machines that have been built using fossil fuels:

– used cars that don’t fit the latest expectations of efficiency and low pollution, but that still work OK
– existing truck drive trains that can be refurbished
– existing nuclear reactors that may not fit your idea of hyper secure, quadruple redundancy emergency electric power but that are still super safe

Stop pushing your throw away economic model that forces people and states to destroy their costly machines (small cars or big power plants).

Paul M
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
December 7, 2019 4:17 pm

put aside the CO2 for the moment, are you going to respond to the issue of toxicity from burning fossil fuels? so far people have argued vaguely against my points about diesel and failed to actually come up with any actual citations to back up their arguments.
did you answer the question about the true cost of bringing a new oil well online, in comparison to a wind turbine? Also, tack onto that research, the cost of decommissioning said oil well, vs the turbine, what can be recycled, what can’t, and how much that costs.

@niceguy here in the UK the shift from petrol to diesel was pretty quick. I don’t recall suggesting we scrap every fossil fuelled vehicle, so I don’t know why you came up with that FUD.

(Rescued from spam bin) SUNMOD

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