The excess costs of Weather Dependent Renewable power generation in the USA

From edmhdotme

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These straightforward calculations are intended to answer the simple question:

“roughly how much would it cost to generate the same amount of power as is produced by the 2016 fleet of United States Weather Dependent Renewables, using conventional generation technologies, (Gas-firing or Nuclear) ? and how do those figures compare ?”.

Accordingly, the post quantifies the scale of the fiscal waste and the burdens on utility bills attributable to the use of USA Weather Dependent Renewables as installed at the end of 2016.  It combines the comparative costs of generation technologies, published by the US Energy Information Administration in 2020 with information on the Nameplate rating of installed USA Weather Dependent Renewable installations and their actual productive power output as of 2016.  This data on Renewables performance at end 2016 is accessed from USA  Energy Information Administration, US  EIA.

The name plate value of installed Weather Dependent Renewables in the USA amounted to ~118 Gigawatts producing the equivalent of ~30 Gigawatts in 2016.

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According to this costing model, the approximate USA:

  • capital cost commitment to the current USA Renewables installed is ~210 $billion:  of which the excess costs over Gas-firing is ~175$billion and ~30$billion over the costs of Nuclear.
  • long-term cost commitment of the current USA Renewables generation of ~30Gigawatts installed is ~890$billion: of which the excess costs over Gas-firing is ~750$billion and ~490$billion over the costs of Nuclear power.

These estimates show that using Weather Dependent Renewables in the USA costs ~6 times as much as using Natural Gas for electricity generation and about 1.2 – 2 times as much as Nuclear power.

The benefit of these expenditures for Weather Dependent Renewables is the replacement of about 9% of USA power gross output capacity by “nominally” CO2 neutral technologies.  Electrical power generation results in about 1/4 of the total CO2 emissions output from USA.

In 2016 the USA in total emitted ~5,000million tonnes of CO2, ~14.5% of the Global CO2 emissions.  Accordingly at ~9% of ~25% of 5,000 million tonnes, the current Renewable expenditures are being made to avert an absolute maximum of ~112 million tonnes of CO2 emissions averted across the USA.  This maximum value entirely ignores all the CO2 emissions and energy costs of Weather Dependent Renewables manufacture, installation, etc.  Thus the maximum averted CO2 emissions from USA Weather Dependent Renewables are as follows:

  • of the 2016 USA CO2 emissions ~4,950 million tonnes     ~2.2%
  • of the 2019 Global CO2 emissions  ~34,000 million tonnes     ~0.3 %
  • of the 2017 CO2 emissions growth from developing world 446 million tonnes    ~25%.

The impact of the poor productivity of Weather Dependent Renewables is shown in these two pie charts, where 29% of the Weather dependent Renewables are ~29% of installed generation but produce ~9% of the power output produced:

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So, the question should be asked “does the capital commitment of ~200 billion$ and the probable future expenditures of ~890 billion$ to unreliably replace ~9% of USA power output and to avert ~2.2% of USA CO2 emissions make economic good sense ?”

Comparative Costing Model for Electricity Generation Technologies

The comparative costings are derived from US  EIA data released in January 2020.

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The values used in this model ignore the “EIA Technological optimism factor” above, which would adversely affect the comparative costs of Offshore wind, (by about 9$billion/Gigawatt: long-term) and to a much less extent Nuclear power.  These costs are summarised and translated into $billion/Gigawatt in the table below.

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.  A service period of 60 years is used for these comparisons as it should be close the service life of current generation of Nuclear installations.

Hopefully the comparative data above should realistically avoid the distorting effects of any Government fiscal and subsidy policies supporting Weather Dependent Renewable Energy, whereby it might be claimed that Weather Dependent Renewables can reach cost parity with conventional generation technologies.  The promoters of Weather Dependent Renewables always seem to conveniently forget their productivity differentials with conventional dispatchable power generation.

The service life allocated for Renewables used above may well be generous, particularly for Solar Photovoltaics.  The production capability of all Renewable technologies has been shown to progressively deteriorate significantly over their service life.

Recent 2020 EIA updates fully account for any cost reductions or underbids for Renewable technology, particularly those for Solar panels.  The costs of solar panels themselves may be reducing but this price reduction can only affect about 1/4 of the installation costs, these are mainly made up of the other costs of Solar installations, those ancillary costs remain immutable.

It is hoped therefore that these results give a valid comparative analysis of the true cost effectiveness of Weather Dependent Renewables.  It should be noted that unlike microprocessor technologies “Moore’s Law” cannot be applied to Solar Panels.  As the Solar energy they collect is dilute and diffuse, in order to be effective, they have to be of large scale, so the progressive miniaturisation of “Moores Law” is irrelevant to Solar PV technology.

    • These calculations are based on the USA installed Renewables base as of the end of 2016
    • The cost data used was published by US  EIA in January 2020 and should allow for the recent price reductions particularly for Solar PV generation
    • The US  EIA data makes the assumption that universally Solar PV productivity is 11.4% for its entire 2016 data set.
    • For the time being these calculations ignore all Offshore Wind power which is currently only a minor part of US Weather Dependent Renewable installations

The true costs associated with Weather Dependent Renewables

Only when the costings estimated from the EIA data above are combined with the actual productivity of Weather Dependent Renewables can a true comparative cost be assessed as below.  Thus these figures represent the true comparative cost / Gigawatt of the power produced by Weather Dependent Renewables installations.

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In addition, even these comparative figures are underestimates of the true costs of using Weather Dependent Renewables.  These results above only account for the cost comparisons for capital and running costs of the generation installations themselves and the actual electrical power generated accounting for the assessed productivity capability 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 power intermittency and power variability
  • the non-dispatchablity of Renewables:  the wind will not blow and clouds will not clear away to order whenever needed
  • the poor timing of power generation by Renewables is often unlikely to be coordinated with demand:  for example Solar energy is virtually absent in winter even in the Southern USA, 1/9th of the output than in the summer period of lower demand
  • the long transmission lines from remote, dispersed generators, incurs both power losses in transmission and costly increased maintenance
  • much additional infrastructure is needed for access
  • the costs of back up generation is essential but is only used on occasions but has to be wastefully running in spinning reserve nonetheless
  • any consideration of electrical storage using batteries, which would impose very significant additional costs, were long-term, (only a few days), battery storage even economically feasible
  • unsynchronised generation with lack of inherent inertia to maintain grid frequency
  • Weather Dependent Renewables cannot provide a “black start” recovery from a major grid outage

Importantly in addition these cost analyses do not account for:

  • the inevitable environmental damage and wildlife destruction resulting from Weather Dependent Renewables
  • the “Carbon footprint” of Weather Dependent Renewable technologies:  they may never save as much CO2 during their service life as they are likely to require for their materials sourcing, manufacture, installation, maintenance and eventual demolition.  When viewed in the round, all these installation activities are entirely dependent on the use of substantial amounts of fossil fuels both as feedstocks for materials and  as fuels.
  • the Energy Return on Energy Invested:  Weather Dependent Renewables may well produce only a minimal excess of Energy during their service life as was needed for their original manufacture and installation.  They certainly do not provide the regular massive excess power sufficient to support the multiple needs of a developed society.  Accordingly they are parasitic on the use of fossil fuels for their existence.

Renewables K.O.-ed by EROI?

Comparative Costings for Renewable Generation technologies in USA

The table above gave a capital valuation of the current 2016 USA Weather Dependent Renewables fleet at ~200 $billion with probable ongoing costs of ~890 $billion.  Overall in USA this Renewables investment accounts for ~29% of the nameplate generation capacity but only provides ~9% of the actual power contribution.  This is approximately twice the cost of providing the same power output with Nuclear power stations and more than 11 times the cost of using Gas-firing for equivalent power generation.

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The three tables above show how the different Renewable technologies contribute to the Government mandated excess costs overall in the USA.

US Wind power is the most cost effective Weather Dependent Renewable technology.  In general it is just 10% cheaper than Nuclear power in capital spend and is only about 1.6 times as expensive in the long-term.  Onshore wind power is only about ~4.5 times more costly in capital and long-term spend than Gas-firing.  Solar PV is the least cost effective US Renewable ~3 – ~6 times more costly than Nuclear to install and 16 times more costly than Gas-firing in the long-term.  However this cost differential does not account for the problem of Weather Dependent irregular intermittency and non-dipatachability.

These significant excess costs represent the wastage imposed on the American population both via direct taxation by supporting subsidies to Weather Dependent Renewables and then also added to utility bills America wide by the Government mandates imposing Renewables on electricity generation.  That wastage amounts to a very regressive tax burden imposed on the poorest in American society.  It is leading to ever increasing US-wide “Energy Poverty”.

Comparative Participation of Individual American States

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The name plate value of  the 2016 USA Weather Dependent Renewable installations reported by EIA  is shown below.  The principle states involved with Weather Dependent Renewables in the USA (49) and their local commitments amounting in total to ~118GW installed are shown graphically below. 

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The scale of the commitment to Weather Dependent Renewables by State is shown below:

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The comparative take-up of USA Weather Dependent Renewables by individual States in 2020 as measured by Gigawatts of nameplate capacity per million head of population is shown below.

The comparative productivity performance achieved by these principle US States is shown below.  It is notable how poor the productivity achieved is even for those Southern states with major commitments to solar power

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Cost comparisons to Gas-firing

At ~1.1bn$/ Gigawatt in capital costs and ~3.5bn$/ Gigawatt for the 60-year long-term, the use of natural gas is the most cost effective and efficient means of power generation currently available.  It should be noted that Gas-firing produces ~1/2 the CO2 emissions of Coal-firing and ~1/3 the CO2 emissions of Biomass.

These excess costs calculations indicate of the scale additional costs that burden the economies of individual US States according to the US  EIA 2020 data and recorded Weather Dependent Renewable productivity figures shown above, these total ~175 bn$ in capital costs.

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The long-term excess costs in comparison to the use of Gas-firing amount to ~750 bn$.

Cost comparisons to Nuclear power

At ~7 bn$/ Gigawatt in capital costs and ~16 bn$/ Gigawatt for the 60-year long-term, Nuclear power is an effective and efficient means of consistent power generation with nil CO2 emissions and low land take.  In capital cost terms for Name plate value Onshore wind power can be nominally cost competitive, however that comparison is just for total power output which does account the intermittent and variable performance of Renewable Wind power, which make real difficulties for Grid reliability.

These excess costs calculations indicate of the scale additional costs that burden the economies of individual US States according to the US  EIA 2020 data and recorded Weather Dependent Renewable productivity figures shown above, overall these total net sum of ~30 bn$ in capital costs.  However Solar photovoltaics impose significant capital cost burdens when compared with Nuclear power.

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The long-term excess costs in comparison to the use of Nuclear power amount to ~490 bn$.



These straightforward calculations show the scale of immediate and long-term costs associated with Weather Dependent Renewables across the USA.  They amount to a capital sum in excess of 210 billion$ and a sum approaching ~900 billion$ were they to be maintained for the long-term.  This sum achieves about ~9% of the USA gross power production.

The capital costs of replacing the full 30GW of American  Renewable generation output with reliable, dispatchable Gas-fired generation would be ~33 billion$ and the whole 600GW USA Generation capability could be replaced by Gas-firing for ~660 billion$.  CO2 emissions from Gas-firing are 1/2 those from coal-firing and about 1/3 of those from the burning of Biomass.

The benefit of these expenditures on Weather Dependent Renewables is the replacement of about 9% of USA power output capacity by “nominally” CO2 neutral technologies.  Electrical power generation results in about 1/4 of the total CO2 emissions output from the USA.

In 2019 the USA emitted ~4,950 million tonnes of CO2, ~14.5% of the Global CO2 emissions.  Accordingly, at ~9% of ~25% of 4,950 million tonnes, the current Renewable expenditures are being made to avert an absolute maximum of ~111 million tonnes of CO2 emissions averted across America.  This maximum value ignores all the CO2 and energy costs of Renewables manufacture, installation, etc.  Therefore, the maximum averted emissions from USA Weather Dependent Renewables are as follows:

  • of the 2016 USA CO2 emissions ~4,950 million tonnes     ~2.2%
  • of the 2019 Global CO2 emissions  ~34,000 million tonnes     ~0.3 %
  • of the 2017 CO2 emissions growth from developing world 446 million tonnes    ~25%

So the question should be asked “does the capital commitment of ~0.2 trillion$ and the probable future expenditures of ~0.9 trillion$ to unreliably replace ~9% of USA power output and to avert ~2.2% of USA CO2 emissions make economic good sense ?”

If the objectives of using Weather Dependent Renewables were not confused with possibly “saving the planet” from the output of the diminishing USA proportion of CO2 emissions, their actual cost, their 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.

The whole annual USA CO2 emissions output will eventually be far surpassed just by the annual growth of CO2 emissions across China and the Developing world.

It is essential to ask the question what is the actual value of these USA government mandated excess expenditures in the Western world to the improvement of the Global environment and for the value of perhaps preventing undetectable temperature increases by the end of the century, 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.

Trying to reduce CO2 emissions, in the Western world alone, as a means to control a “warming” climate seems even less relevant when the long-term global temperature trend has been downwards for last 3 millennia, as the coming end of our current warm and benign Holocene interglacial epoch approaches.

The whole Weather Dependent Renewable commitment in the USA is an exercise is attempting to control Global temperature by the reduction of Man-made CO2 emissions in a major sector of the Western world.  These simple calculations show just how costly effecting even a marginal reduction of Man-made CO2 is bound to be.

However, as opposed to being a dangerous pollutant, by every measure, more atmospheric CO2 is benefitting life on earth by substantially increasing plant growth through fertilisation and increasing drought tolerance.  Any fraction of the minor warming we have experienced since the little ice age that is due to Man-made CO2 has also clearly been a direct benefit to agriculture and human comfort.

For additional tables and graphics detailing State by State excess cost calculations and the growth of Weather Dependent Renewables:  see

The Context in 2020

In spite of all the noisy Climate Propaganda of the past 30 years, in Spring 2020 the world was faced with a different but very real economic emergency arising from the political reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That emergency, with the world facing global economic breakdown as well as the death of many elder citizens, should put the futile, self-harming and costly Government mandated attempts to control future climate into stark perspective.  This real pandemic emergency and the self-harming reactions to it clearly shows how irrelevant concerns over probably inconsequential “Climate Change” in a distant future truly are.

67 thoughts on “The excess costs of Weather Dependent Renewable power generation in the USA

  1. The cost of power from internmittent wind and solar must include the cost of 100% backup for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, reported that the cost of solar without back up was A$91/MWhr, and with 12 hours backup A$172/MWhr.
    Similar economics apply to wind. Build a 300 MW wind farm that on average generates 100 MW, and it must be backed up with a 100 MW gas plant or similar dispatchable power.

    • No you need 300MW of gas to back up 300MW of wind, because sometimes there is no wind at all

      So you need to add the capital cost of 100% gas back up to the wind.
      And then you need to add the cost of the gas working at 70% capacity factor, and going up and down repeatedly.

      You soon find out that all the windmills do, is add cost.

      • It’s even worse than that, Leo. That 300MW wind farm probably has a name-plate capacity of about 800 MW. I presume that because, if it generates an average of 100MW, it is probably going to be producing about 300MW on occasion. The name-plate figure is, of course, fraudulent because it will never produce that amount of power, and something like 30% of its rating is typical. But that fraudulent figure no doubt helps to maximise the amount of subsidy which the promoter can harvest from the taxpayer.Mike Lowe

        • Did they add in the decreased efficiency over time? Helicopter blades and aircraft propellers are periodically resurfaces. Not done with windmills. O&M is much higher than stated.

        • Yes, and you have to calculate if it is producing when you need it — the problem now in Texas. There has to be a coefficient multiplier applied of actual need at a point in time as to value of the electricity.

      • ““roughly how much would it cost to generate the same amount of power as is produced by the 2016 fleet of United States Weather Dependent Renewables, using conventional generation technologies, (Gas-firing or Nuclear) ? and how do those figures compare ?”

        And then the author leaves out, “ignores” he says, what would appear to be the lion’s share of the real costs, such as the back-up power needed to give renewables any possibility of producing usable electricity, and items like decommissioning- with a gas plant, you go to one site and you also end up with reusable scrap making up the bulk of the material to be removed. The other, with much less than a third of the plant life of a gas plant given the service life and dwindling output of these toys, and scattered over thousands of square km, produce mainly waste for landfill and rare earth metals needing shipment to other parts of the world for recovery.

        We’ve had several costing exercises like this. Please no more until someone is prepared to dig up the full costs. Hell we have pictures of helicopters de-icing windmill blades in winter, scraping off snow from solar panels… and a hundred other agronomist like services probably not costed.

        These hugely deficient costing exercises only serve to encourage more green blight. Even socialist darling Michael Moore, in his “Planet of the Humans” was blown away by the deceipt of needing full backup of fossil fuels to keep the lights on with renewables and the chopping down of forests for biomass. Hey accounting of this stuff is complicated (on purpose), but that’s no excuse for doing a half-assed job.

    • You also have to include the cost of fuel needed to keep your backup in hot-ready status, so that they can take over on a moments notice.

      You can reduce the cost of this hot-ready status by a bit if you invest trillions in batteries in order to support the system for 10 to 15 minutes, so that the backup can be maintained at warm-ready, instead of hot-ready.

      • You also lose a significant fraction of energy in the wires transmitting the power to the battery, the transformers used to drop voltage for the chargers, the AC to DC chargers for the battery, the battery itself giving off heat as it charges, the battery giving off heat as it discharges, the DC to AC inverters and the transformer taking the voltage back to transmission. I’ll assume the wire losses from the battery to the loads are roughly the same as going directly from the power source to the load.

  2. Good post! Will have to re-read it carefully to get a good handle on the actual numbers for the various technologies. Obviously, Nat Gas is the hands down winner, which is also why the USA has been able to lower emissions more than any other nation on the good Earth. But gets no credit. We have an abundance of nat gas for a very long time in North America between USA/Canada/Mexico, so we would be wise to make hay while the Sun shines, and invest some of that wealth into long term advanced nuclear. That is the most cost effective and high density electricity solution for the long term future. It will take time, but it is inevitable that this will be built someday.

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see the decommissioning costs, especially for solar PV after 15 years. That is going to be a toxic waste nightmare. Maybe they come up with a solution for that, but what will that cost? Same for wind, as there is degrading performance annually, with big ticket maintenance items that puts it out of of service for quite some time while changing out the main thrust bearings. Huge operating costs, not to mention building transmission lines to meet peak demand that only happens a minimum of the time.

    My prediction is that this mess will cure itself. You can rest assured when these contracts come due, there will be no subsidy, and they will die a natural death. There wouldn’t be any money to pay for this stupidity twice, when there will no doubt be much better cost effective solutions, as well as better environmental solutions than low density solar and wind. It might take some time to work through all the COD dates when these contracts start and finish, but renewables will become a thing of the past fairly soon, in the scheme of things. No one will build them as they see the older contracts become stranded assets, or when their useful life if up and they won’t be replaced. In fact, the taxpayer will probably be on the hook to clean up this mess. I would be short the renewable companies that have the oldest contracts, because they will fail first.

        • griff

          here in the UK as you know we have now had several days of sunless and windless weather and of course no solar at night. As constant back up is needed anyway how do renewables provide any sort of coherent power supply until massive amounts of excess power can be put into batteries?


          • It is harder than that. First you need to generate massive amounts excess power consistently. Then you need to invent some batteries that can actually store enough grid level amounts of electricity to be able to cover a few days.
            So far the score is zero on both counts.

      • What is the maintenance cost to get to a 25 year life? How often do the panels have to be replaced? What level of insurance is carried on the solar installation you are speaking of?

        • He is talking through his hat: “25-year lifetime” in the PV industry really means “25-year warranty”, which manufacturers have to have because all the manufacturers they are competing against offer them. But there is no way a manufacturer can know what the true “lifetime” will be, and chances are pretty good they won’t be in business 25 years down the road when they might have to pay out.

          • Good comment. I always ask whose life time this will be warrantied by since most product manufacturers will not be around to respond about a warranty. Pablum.

      • It’s back! I missed you Griff! You were such a perfect a-hole in Back to the Future.

  3. With all the economic negatives of solar PV and Wind power generation compared to natural gas, it is easy to see why the Watermelons are willing to go to great, artistic leaps of mendacity on the evils of fracking and methane leaks to try to regulate it out of existence.
    The Green Slime billionaires, invested long on the Renewable Hustle of fleecing Americans electric bills to line their pockets, are demanding their bought and paid for Democrats do something, anything to stop natural gas as an affordable energy source that is burying wind and solar for the grid operators. 15 years ago, this wasn’t expected or supposed to happen. Natural gas was supposed to keep getting more scarce and thus more expensive without any extra effort by the Watermelons.

    In a heavily populated state like Florida, vulnerable to hurricanes, lightning, and hail, any wind turbine farms and solar PV farms would incur the same fate as the wind farm on Puerto Rico in 2017’s Hurricane Maria, completely bent and twisted and out of commission for years. And Florida needs reliable electricity after a hurricane to get back up and running quickly once the lines are repaired. You can’t put a price on that kind of reliability. Amd having a large percentage of generating sources in dispersed wind farms or solar farms destroyed would be a disaster on top of a disaster. All of that is why Florida has so little installed Renewables, and gets 80% of it electricity via Natural gas. The gas comes in mostly from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on- and off-shore gas fields for electricity.

    The people of Florida need to understand what is at stake, both in their monthly electric bills doubling (or tripling) to enrich Green Billionaires and their hedge funds and to ensure reliable electricity generation plants are ready to provide power after hurricanes and not down for 12-18 months while blades are replacement and solar PV farms rebuilt from scratch and more added costs.

    • Joel,
      Who exactly is a “green slime billionare”? I am always amazed that these billionares despite being smart enough to make their billions are dumb enough to invest in renewable energy and then to spend their money buying the wrong political party. Plus I suspect that I could match you fossil fuel billionare for green slime billionare any day.

      • Can you imagine who the oligarchs would be in a society based on Socialist ideology? Won’t be the middle class of our present society I don’t think.Oligarchs seem to like a monopoly also in societies with a Socialist ideology.

      • It’s not investment, it’s virtue signalling. Like Bloomberg investing $60million in the Democrat party. Or funding every anti-gun measure you’ve ever heard of.

      • Joel, multi, multi billionaire Warren Buffet opined that subsidies are the ONLY reason to invest in wind turbines. Buffet, via Berkshire Hathaway, is the LARGEST owner of wind turbines in the US.

      • I refer you to the late, great Kenny Rogers: Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

        Whether it’s placing your bets at the poker table, wheeling and dealing on Wall Street, or practicing crony capitalism in Capitol buildings – that is the only “secret” to amassing a vast amount of wealth.

        More Green Cards will be abandoned on the felt if and when Trump is reelected. (Not all, there will still be several State politicians willing and able to fleece their constituents.)

  4. This just repeats the usual nonsense. Renewables are now providing over 30% of electricity annually in 18 European countries.

    Renewable energy is not intermittent, but predictable, HVDC lines adequately transport the power over long distances without significant power loss (this tech has improved in recent years) and so on.

    • Like a fat, ugly, lazy chick that only does 30% of what she’s supposed to do and still manages to get money from the government for every baby it pops out.

    • Perhaps you could write up a full cost analysis, Griff, with as much detail as this analysis. You could show that solar and wind can replace fossil and nuclear power, with comparable reliability and not greater costs.

      I expect WUWT would be more than happy to publish it for review by its readers.

    • I am ashamed that Griff is British, and does not understand the difference between unpredictable, and intermittent.
      Nor yet why the problem has never been predictability, but always intermittency.
      I’d ask him to change the tape, but its the only one he has.

      • griff has claimed many times that wind is 100% predictable up to 24 hours out.

        In griff’s world, when the weather man says it will be windier tomorrow than it was today, that will be sufficient to make a minute by minute forecast of what the windmills will be producing.

    • griff

      link please on your claim. You do know that in the case of the Uk renewables include the massive Drax biomass power station? The one that imports co2 heavy wood pellets from America then er…burns them

      Even Michael Moore and Shellenberger have finally understood the inherent contradictions in current generation renewables without even considering where the source of the lithium and cobalt etc is.


    • Denmark has the most wind turbines per capita in Europe and probably in the world.
      It is 6.23GW / 5.7Mhumans ~ 1kW per human. This is great, that corresponds to about 130% of the Danes’ actual usage – Jah Denmark 100% wind driven, they made it.

      Not so fast, goes for Griff too. There are days, weeks and moths where the actual output from wind, is a pathetic few percent and on occasions negative. The result is that for extended periods, Denmark is importing up to 75% of their electricity from Norway (hydro), Sweden (Nuclear and some hydro) and Germany (nuclear, coal, gas).
      The import was on average over the last 12 day more then 2GW or more than 50% of their electricity.

      As missing from the otherwise great article, is the backup needed. The current period we are in, will most likely end with backup having been needed for 14 days at 50% of load going towards 100% of load as we strive toward 100% weather electricity.
      You can have a look at the import here:
      This may be solvable for tiny Denmark, as Norway may be able to fully provide electricity for Denmark.
      However, most countries and states are not as lucky, and may better come up with a useful 100 year plan, so start building a lot of nuclear reactors. Remelt the steel from the wind turbines to produce useful things.

      • Carl,

        Good post. The insights about power swapping with nearby countries are very relevant and unknown to most of the public.

        Let me add two more points about power swapping. Denmark’s electricity tariffs are among the world’s highest, in part, because it sells its surplus electricity at very low prices and buys supplementary electricity at much higher prices. It has surplus electricity when wind generated electricity is abundant. It needs supplementary power when wind turbines generate little electricity.

        Second, Denmark’s location gives it a rare power swapping opportunity. Its surplus and supplementary quantities are small relative to the regional (i.e. Western European) market; and therefore, not particularly disruptive. Also, it swaps its intermittent wind capacity for Scandinavia’s reliable, flexible hydro capacity and flexible thermal capacity across Europe. In very simple terms, hydro capacity can store surplus wind generated electricity and release it when needed.

        Perhaps only the US northeast (NY, Maine and the in between states) has a similar opportunity. It can use Hydro Quebec’s vast system to cope, partially, with the huge changes (daily, seasonally …) in electricity generated by the northeast’s wind turbines.

    • Is English your fist language? Being predictable doesn’t mean it isn’t intermittent.

      HVDC is not dispatchable. It is basically used as for long distance transmission. Converting LVAC to HVDC and then back again adds *significant* overhead costs. In at least some of the current HVDC systems the overhead cots are higher than the savings in transmission losses.

      • Even the claim of “predictable” has to be taken with a multi-ton grain of salt.

        The fact that the sun rises in the morning and sets at night is predictable. When a cloud passes over the solar farm is not.

    • Once again, griff repeats the lie.
      In griff’s world, supplying 30% for a few seconds, once a year, is the equivalent of providing 30% for the entire year.

    • Hey Grift – didn’t you have a tantrum and take your ball home? Like half a dozen times now?

      Couldn’t find anyone to listen to you self-serving crap there?

  5. The global warming/climate change/green energy campaign has always been a scam, deliberate false propaganda by the far-left, a smokescreen for their totalitarian political objectives. The leaders of this scam have always known it was a lie – no rational person could be this wrong for this long. The leftists used Lenin’s propaganda tactics to promote their climate-and-energy scam, and have been successful in misleading the useful idiots in the Western democracies. The leaders of this scam have caused society to waste trillions of dollar of scarce global resources and driven energy poverty, especially in the developing world. They belong in jail.

    Now several of the leading proponents of the climate-and-energy scam have recanted, as noted below, and others have admitted that the climate-and-green-energy narrative was a false front for their extreme-left political objectives.

    Regarding the rolling electricity blackouts in California – we predicted this outcome in our 2002 publication:

    In 2002, Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U and Allan MacRae TOLD YOU SO 18 YEARS AGO:

    See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”.

    See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”.

    The green objective is to destroy prosperity and move the USA into a planned economy – with a few rich at the top looking down on the many poor peasants. That model now describes most of the countries in the world. Europe and Canada are far down that “road to Venezuela”, and the USA will follow if Biden and the Demo-Marxists are elected.

    • I resolved some years ago that there is no real attempt at solution because it feeds to many mouths and decision-makers are up to their eyeballs in conflict of interest. AGW and now COVID are the means of shutting down production of goods and services for the Malthusian psychopaths. It’s about preserving the world they want for them – we’re just in the way.

  6. The article would be shorter if the phrase ‘weather dependent renewables’ were replaced by ‘unreliables’.

  7. Really well prepared paper. My only comment is one others have made. The cost of back up of renewables needs to be included as does grid enhancement and enlargement. These are not insignificant costs. The other unseen cost is the predilection of developers to build even more wind towers in the hope they will generate more stable power. This doesn’t happen and the excess redundancy simply escalates electricity gosts further.

    • jock, the cost of backup, to satisfy the Green’s, can not be “fossil fuels”. Battery storage to meet 4 hours of peak requirement costs about 3 times as much as the solar power used for the demand. Hopelessly expensive. Supplying battery storage for extensive periods of cloudy weather when solar output is say at 50% the cost would be about 1.5 times as much for each 4 hour requirement. (1.5×6=9 times the generation cost for 24 hours storage). Green’s like to talk about $0.03 solar cost, $0.09 storage, not so much. What they say instead is blah, blah storage is just around the corner so keep building solar farms and we’ll hook up the storage “soon” (not in the next 25 years when all the current solar panels are in the landfill) (IMHO).

  8. Great cost analysis. Our flying friends should take this report to a lawyer and get this green chopping and burning nonsense stopped. Nuke ’em! And drive SUV’s. Governor Newsome, Kalifornia, just agreed with the need for conventional back-up for the green nonsense, let’s see how that plays out.

  9. In what way, exactly, are solar PV and wind turbines “renewable”? Please stop using that word in this context.
    I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    • One needs to be aware of the meaning of words in the minds of the Climate Cult when dealing with them. In the case of “renewable” or “green” they have adopted the idea put forth by Lewis Carroll, in Through the Looking Glass.

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

      Q: If you put a battery in a bus, does the driver now have a green job?

      Q: If you burn North American trees in a thermal plant in the UK, are the CO2 emissions benign?

      Your turn: . . .

  10. The late Professor Sir 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”.

    This post follows his lead with simple aritmetic

    Before his death Professor Mackay 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.”


    “if it is possible to get through the winter with low CO2 Nuclear and possibly with Carbon Capture and Storage there is no point in having any Wind or Solar power in the UK generation mix”

    The late Professor Mackay was the author of this incredible prescient book published on the Net:

    Sadly, the Guardian have at long last woken up and taken his final video down. It was available here:

    But it seems that having bought into the assumption that Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming is an immediate and existential threat that Government elites when faced with these simple but devastatingly wasteful calculations assume a position of “wilful ignorance”, and a stance of “don’t confuse me with the facts, we are saving the world“.

  11. Professor Mackay’s book was written on the basis of 2008 technology. Things have moved on enormously since then…

    The 7.5 MW wind turbine, grid scale batteries, multiplying numbers of HVDC lines, capacity/efficiency of modern and future (perovskite) solar PV and many other pieces of technology weren’t part of his examination of the issue

    • Things have moved on, however the end results are still the same.

      BTW, getting 1 or 2% cheaper, when you start off being 3 to 4 times more expensive really isn’t all that impressive.

    • We have all heard the phrase” useful idiot ‘ thanks griff for demonstrating how they think and re post utter rubbish on this site .
      I wonder if you ever read any of the technical posts on WUWT because if you could comprehend these posts you would soon see that what you believe is false and is straight out propaganda from the far left green blob.
      Enough said .

      • I’m just posting what’s happening outside the Watt’s bubble.

        you should get out more! (be sure to wear a mask though!)

        • Does wearing a mask replace the conscience of the Renewable Cabal because they look more like thieves than level-headed technocrats!

  12. Thanks for a great article. We should not underestimate the dire threat to civilisation, inherent in the dangerous increase in unreliable energy. In Australia the leaders of the major political parties are exulting over the opportunities which the COVID-19 virus has given them to plan for massive increases in unreliable energy on the pretext of rebuilding the severely damaged Australian economy. Please read my recent article In just a couple of weeks the outlook has worsened with State Governments pushing for more wind and solar, and the Federal Government not only advancing its fraudulent pumped hydro scheme but now also planning to squander enormous sums on producing hydrogen. Even the marxist energy minister in South Africa is a staunch supporter of nuclear power which is banned in Australia. We have wonderful coal reserves which are demonised by a publicly funded propaganda organisation masquerading as a public broadcaster. That URL again

  13. It is harder than that. First you need to generate massive amounts excess power consistently. Then you need to invent some batteries that can actually store enough grid level amounts of electricity to be able to cover a few days.
    So far the score is zero on both counts.

  14. edmhdotme Thought provoking comparison of capital costs.
    It is not clear how you include the operating costs including fuel for gas turbines.
    Recommend adding a section to clearly compare the full costs of fuel plus capital and operations for gas turbines. e.g., gas turbine 32.14 c/kWh; Coal power 35.18 c/kWh; Hydro 10.65 c/kWh. See EIA Table 8.4.
    Average Power Plant Operating Expenses for Major U.S. Investor-Owned Electric Utilities, 2008 through 2018 (Mills per Kilowatthour)

  15. What about the carbon footprint in the construction and maintenance of each energy option? The author alluded to the large co2 debt built into windturbines and solar, but said it was nil for nuclear which is bs – I may be only a nuclear engineer by training and spent most of my career in IT but you can spend billions on building and maintaining a plant without shedding a few co2s. My rule of thumb is that generally the more something costs the larger the carbon footprint. If the price is close then closer investigation is needed. Btw, I personally don’t give a rat’s butt about carbon footprint, plant food – more the merrier- can’t wait till it hits 1000ppm – but I do care about proper accounting and careful science and engineering – and especially the truth. If politicians and the propagandists in eco groups are going to go on and on about carbon footprints then wind and solar prints need to be tallied as well as stop saying that nuke is co2 free. And stop saying fusion will be the ultimate safe energy – wait until the future plants try to deal with high energy neutrons. If only the idiots-that-be would make a proper investment in something like molten salt thorium reactors that have hope of approaching the ideal of a low cost energy option.

  16. Yes, Trump will put an end to the continuation of this trash if he keeps the Senate and gets back the House. But, if it all goes the other way the Democrats will do irreparable damage to our grid and economy by dramatically increasing the spreading of this junk across the countryside. Despite the German demonstration of how their “energiewende” renewables (unreliables) lead to economic suicide.

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