Study: Renewable Energy does Nothing to Reduce CO2 Emissions

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Dr. Willie Soon / James Delingpole / Breitbart; A group of high profile scientists, including Dr. Willie Soon, have published a meticulously referenced study which discuses the pros and cons of various CO2 reduction strategies.

The abstract of the study;

Energy and Climate Policy—An Evaluation of Global Climate Change Expenditure 2011–2018 

by Coilín ÓhAiseadha 1,*Gerré Quinn 2Ronan Connolly 3,4Michael Connolly 3 and Willie Soon 4

1 Department of Public Health, Health Service Executive, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, D08 W2A8 Dublin 8, Ireland
2 Centre for Molecular Biosciences, Ulster University, Coleraine BT521SA, Northern Ireland, UK
3 Independent Scientists, Dublin 8, Ireland
4 Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences (CERES), Salem, MA 01970, USA*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Concern for climate change is one of the drivers of new, transitional energy policies oriented towards economic growth and energy security, along with reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and preservation of biodiversity. Since 2010, the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) has been publishing annual Global Landscape of Climate Finance reports. According to these reports, US$3660 billion has been spent on global climate change projects over the period 2011–2018. Fifty-five percent of this expenditure has gone to wind and solar energy. According to world energy reports, the contribution of wind and solar to world energy consumption has increased from 0.5% to 3% over this period. Meanwhile, coal, oil, and gas continue to supply 85% of the world’s energy consumption, with hydroelectricity and nuclear providing most of the remainder. With this in mind, we consider the potential engineering challenges and environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the main energy sources (old and new). We find that the literature raises many concerns about the engineering feasibility as well as environmental impacts of wind and solar. However, none of the current or proposed energy sources is a “panacea”. Rather, each technology has pros and cons, and policy-makers should be aware of the cons as well as the pros when making energy policy decisions. We urge policy-makers to identify which priorities are most important to them, and which priorities they are prepared to compromise on.

Read more: https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/13/18/4839/htm

The study is so extensive it is difficult to write a summary which does it justice, yet every point is fully referenced.

One of my favourite hilights is the identification of a problem with wind farms I was previously unaware of – the damage done by wind farms to the soil on which they are built (i.e. heating the soil) results in increased CO2 outgassing which eliminates any expected emissions savings.

4.2.4. Increase in Biological CO2 Emissions Caused by Wind Farms

Although the warming effects of wind farms described in Section 4.2.1 are mostly localized and tend to be confined to night-time temperatures, we note that they introduce a problematic complication for those proposing to use wind farms to reduce global CO2 emissions. It is true that electricity generation is currently a major component of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and therefore reducing the amount of electricity generated using fossil fuels should reduce that component. However, the annual biological CO2 emissions from soil respiration are at least ten times greater than the total annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions [6,182,183].Typically, the annual emissions from soil respiration are roughly balanced by the absorption of CO2 via photosynthesis through the Net Primary Production (NPP) of the terrestrial plants and trees. However, the total emissions from soil respiration are known to increase with temperature. Estimates of the exact rates of increase vary between studies, and there are many complexities in extrapolating from the results of e.g., a mid-latitude forest [184] or a tropical region [185] to global estimates (see Davidson and Janssens (2006) for a good review of the challenges involved) [186]. Nonetheless, most studies suggest that the warming of soils generally leads to an increase in biological CO2 emissions from soil respiration [182,183,184,185,186,187]. Therefore, given that the global CO2 emissions from soil respiration are an order of magnitude greater than anthropogenic emissions, we suggest that the increase in biological CO2 emissions caused by wind farms warming the night-time soil temperatures could potentially be similar in magnitude to the reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the wind farms.

The study discusses the conflict between economic development and renewable energy: “… the most straightforward routes for helping nations develop and/or reducing world poverty fundamentally conflict with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions.

Even hydroelectric gets a serve: Hydroelectric dams can likewise have severe impacts on the Munduruku [252] and other indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon Basin [156].

The study asks several times why nuclear power does not appear to be a policy priority, given the stated goal of many governments is to reduce CO2 emissions.

Despite the critiques of various renewable energy options, the study strives for neutrality in terms of whether CO2 emissions reduction is a desirable goal.

My main takeaway from the study is that public policy should be rational; if a government genuinely wants to reduce CO2 emissions, they should pursue policies which provide a realistic chance of achieving their stated goals, in full awareness of the likely outcomes and consequences of those policies, instead of frittering away public resources on enormously expensive energy programmes which are unlikely to achieve meaningful emissions reductions.

87 thoughts on “Study: Renewable Energy does Nothing to Reduce CO2 Emissions

      • I think he might be referring to the fact that renewables make electricity more expensive, leading to poor people poor unable to pay bills. So, they naturally cut back and sometimes they die prematurely, therefore their emissions decline or cease altogether.

      • I think the lie is that they want to reduce CO2 emissions … Nuclear power is the obvious example that it has nothing to do with CO2 emissions. There are a number of clear objectives of the left and greens from social justice, wealth redistribution, removal of capitalism etc but CO2 emissions is just a vehicle to use and tax for those outcomes.

      • I have to commend you for your faith in humanity.
        You automatically assume that Joe is interested in having a conversation instead of just virtue signaling for his woke friends.

        • Joe is apparently not so much succinct as one of those self-impressed intruders upon learned conversation with nothing to contribute other such ever ready drive-by enteric expulsions, making him all the more a sorry lot in this engaging assembly. Otherwise no doubt he remains much endeared to his mom.

        • Climate alarmism is a fascinating set of contradictions. For example they don’t want to talk to “deniers” (evil people), yet they need to get everyone on board, they think we all need to pull together. So somehow they need to get the evil people onboard, without talking to them. Or something like that.

          • Eric, you said this
            “ the damage done by wind farms to the soil on which they are built (i.e. heating the soil) results in increased CO2 outgassing which eliminates any expected emissions savings.”
            A couple of minutes of rough estimates and quick calcs would show you this is not true after only a couple of months of operation. It is just as trivial and fallacious to state that the “warm soil” causes more grass to grow, so sequesters CO2…… I am no fan of wind farms, but there are more than enough bad points about them, so no need to state incorrect ones.

        • Accounting trick.

          “… Note that the figures in this article are for emissions within the UK measured according to international guidelines. This means they exclude emissions associated with imported goods, including imported biomass, as well as the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping. …”

        • The Guardian:

          “The Office for National Statistics said the UK had become the biggest net importer of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the G7 group of wealthy nations – outstripping the US and Japan – as a result of buying goods manufactured abroad.

          The ONS warned that Britain had increased its net imports of CO2 emissions per capita from 1.7 tonnes in 1992 to 5.1 tonnes in 2007, offsetting domestic progress on shifting the UK economy away from fossil fuels.”

          Probably the main reason.

        • “…Carbon Brief’s estimates of the UK’s CO2 emissions in 2019 are based on analysis of provisional energy use figures published by BEIS on 28 February 2020. The same approach has accurately estimated year-to-year changes in emissions in previous years (see table, below)…”

          So the figures in the report you linked to are no based on any actual measurements of CO2 emissions, just ‘ .. on analysis of provisional energy use figures’.

          Just more propaganda Griff.

        • Transferring them to China.

          China’s increase per year is way more than UK’s tiny self-destroying reduction.

          • Exactly, same for America. Here in Massachusetts, once an industrial power house- every town has dozens of empty, rotting factory buildings. But now the state government brags that the state is the most energy efficient in the nation. I point out the fallacy of this to the politicians and they block my emails!

        • That’s true, only in part. The three major causes for reduced CO2 emissions from electricty generation between 2005 and 2020 have been a reduction in consumption, and a switch to gas.
          https://www.thegwpf.org/uk-consumers-grossly-overpaying-for-electricity/

          The contribution of renewables is less than both of the fore-mentioned factors.

          And the cost of renewables in that time period has been, cumulatively, enormous. If we’d adopted a gas fired system to displace coal from 2005 onwards – replacing coal stations (and older gas stations) with efficient CCGTs instead of a quite large renewables programme, we’d have saved costs (cumulative) of £90b, and cut emissions by an extra 300-350 millions of CO2. See figure 17 of my paper referenced above. Going renewables was a disastrous decision.

          Figure 10 in that paper shows that the cost of cutting CO2 through deployment of renewables is now (2018) about £350/tonne, and is about to rise sharply as the last coal station expires. Now renewables has to compete with new gas generation with 63 % efficiency, not 35 % efficient coal.

        • I see you are not taking account of the amount of CO2 generated in the manufacture and transportation of the windmills, or of the amount of CO2 generated by the concrete they are set in.

        • Griff,

          that is only part of the story, the use of gas instead of coal has reduced CO2 emissions as has the reduction in total grid load, due to some efficiencies but largely due to loss of industry.
          However the transission, if it occurs as the government wants, will see it go up again as gas fuels the electric vehicles they want us to use.

        • At the expense of making all of that cement and of course ALL of the parts of the windmills! Not to mention, of course, the problem of ‘disposing’ of the pieces when they reach their end-of-life. Windpower is a lose-lose scenario! That’s when the wind IS blowing enough to actually generate some electricity, which, in may areas of the world, is not very often, it seems. PS Coal can be made ‘cleaner’.

      • fred250,
        May be you posted to the wrong web site.
        On the other hand, may be I don’t realize to what or whom your comment is addressed.

        • It was in response to Joe Houde,

          ….pointing out that his comment about misleading lies, was a totally pointless comment, unbacked by any evidence

          It just ended up a long way down here because of all the intervening posts

    • @Joe Houde

      TLDR? Or was it a case of ‘don’t confuse me with the facts’. Both are pathetic reasons btw.

    • Philadelphia Inquirer Propaganda Parrot
      This article appears in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer
      Solar said to push aside coal as the cheapest power fuel
      By William Mathis and Jeremy Hodges BLOOMBERG NEWS
      Renewables are set to overtake coal this decade as the world’s favorite fuel to generate electricity, the International Energy Agency says.
      Solar photovoltaics are now cheaper than plants fired by coal and natural gas in most nations, the Paris-based researchers concludes in its annual report on global energy trends. Those cheaper costs along with government efforts to slash climate-damaging emissions will increasingly push coal off the grid and give renewables 80% of the market for new power generation by 2030, the IEA says.
      The findings mark a profound shift away from fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply at a time when governments everywhere are looking for ways to rein in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. While hydroelectric plants will continue to be the biggest source of renewable power, solar is catching up quickly because the cost of manufacturing and installing panels has come down so much.
      “I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, says in a statement with the report on Tuesday. “Based on today’s policy settings, it’s on track to set records for deployment every year after 2022.”
      The IEA’s projections are based on what it calls the Stated Policies Scenario, which assumes covid-19 is gradually brought under control next year and the global economy returns to levels seen before the outbreak. The scenario includes announced policy intentions and targets that the IEA considers to be backed up by detailed measures for the plans to be enacted.
      It also anticipates natural gas demand slowly easing in developed nations, especially Europe, and coal dropping everywhere. About 275 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity worldwide, 13% of the 2019 total, will be shut off by 2025, mostly in the U.S. and European Union. That will more than offset increases in coal demand in developing economies in Asia.
      Coal’s share of the global power supply is set to fall to 28% in 2030 from 37% in 2019. By 2040, the fuel that once was a staple of utilities will fall below 20% for the first time since the industrial revolution, the IEA concludes. That decline could be even sharper if governments pick up the pace on decarbonization.
      The assumptions require a massive investment in power grids, which need upgrades to absorb supply from more diverse sources that only work when the sun shines or the wind blows.
      Investment to modernize, expand and digitize the grid will need to reach $460 billion in 2030, two thirds more than the cost last year. That spending will help roll out 2 million kilometers of new transmission lines and 14 million kilometers of distribution networks, 80% more than was added in the last 10 years, according to the IEA.

    • Joe, i see you still haven’t come back and backed up your comment. When wind and solar run, yes they produce no CO2 in that moment. But wind is only good ~35% of the time, solar 20%, and within that it is very intermittent and so there is always some fossil power turning in the background for when that happens.
      Plus all the CO2 released in producing the solar panels or turbines, a large part of which occurs offshore. When added altogether the life time c02 impact of these technologies is still net negative.

      I assume you are one of those game players that only care about the emission number within your border, no matter how it is created?
      We have lots of you in Canada, screaming bloody murder about the emissions of proposed LNG plants increasing Canada and BC totals even though when running the LNG end up displacing coal burning elsewhere in the world leading to overall reductions of CO2.

      You people just don’t care, or aren’t smart enough to grasp the implication of what you are saying.

  1. It’s hard to think of what windmills are good at…but they ruin landscapes, cause unbearable noise, cost enormous amounts,take up good land, kill birds bats and insects, disrupt perfectly good power grids, cause rises in demand for rare earth metals that we know are mined in deplorable conditions, are made from largely unrecoverable materials, use tremendous amounts of concrete and steel, and now we are discovering that the CO2 gains may be nil.
    They must be good for something….Communist plots, enrichment of progressives friends. I’m sure there’s much more, but that list alone is more than enough to ban these monuments to ignorance and to hold a shameful place in history books along with the snake oil salesmen getting rich.

    • Al,
      We should see wind turbines for what they are. They represent a visual statement to everyone and can’t be ignored. They are the 21st century equivalent of the Easter Island Heads standing tall, a permanent testament to the folly of man and many women. Just as happened on Easter Island the damage to the ecosystem was too great for society to survive. All wildlife destroyed all people impoverished and dying out yet the monuments continued to stand tall.
      The difference is, the modern world man knows, what the woke religion followers are doing to them, yet still they do nothing to prevent the ongoing destruction of their society.
      Clearly not all “believers” have benign ambitions, lets stop behaving as if they do.

    • It is quite easy to see what they are good at. Their consumption of raw metals is boundless. It has taken the best part of $4tr to get to 3%. That is the REALLY easy part. The expensive bit comes when synchronous generators, ginormous batteries for storage and ultra-high voltage interconnections are needed to chase the diversity fairy. If it has taken $4tr to get the low hanging fruit to 3%, it will take the best part of 50X that to get to 100%; a lazy $200tr.

      This is a miners dream. It is a steel makers dream. It is the copper smelter’s dream. It is an investment bankers dream. Is it any surprise that Next Era (purveyor of wind monuments) is the biggest energy company globally by market cap and Tesla (the BIG battery maker, by capacity rather than size) the largest automotive manufacture by market capitalisation; both speculators’ dream. Bitcoin of the 2020s.

      One of the smaller but growing costs, is the challenge of managing the varying output from WDGs. In the pre Audrey Zibelman era, Australian NEM management fee added an insignificant cost to electricity price but that small cost has grown at 12%pa since 2016 and is no longer insignificant. You can bet that after spending $200tr on infrastructure to produce electricity and store it by a myriad of means, there will be a handy dollar in managing the live energy market.

      All this to like about WDGs – both wind and solar.

      • RickWill, I think that you are almost certainly underestimating the cost of getting to 100% “renewable” energy. The first 3% is the cheapest 3%. Every 3% more will cost much more than the previous 3%. Your estimate of 200 trillion dollars could be off by orders of magnitude. I expect any serious attempt to get to 100% renewables to bankrupt the entire world.

        • I have a habit of underestimating by a factor of about 3 but that encourages a sharp pencil.

          I did look at the possibility for solar panels. Without digging out the numbers, I determined that a band of panels something like 100km wide and 1500km long across the middle of Australia, the Sahara and a block of panels about 20000sq.km on the west coast of the USA, maybe in Baja (from memory Baja was not big enough) or even Mexico would give reasonable diversity. The Pacific presents an issue as the sun is over the Pacific when Europe needs power and Australia does not kick in before USA dies out. I guess a few $tr thrown at a few dozen 10x10km floating arrays that could be shifted to the best sunlight during the seasons might fix that – think of all those rusting oil tankers that could be used as floating platforms. There would probably be merit in having more smaller arrays of say 10kmX10km spread around to improve diversity but they could still be all located in desert settings.

          With the meagre budget of $200tr, the project would need to be well managed to get somewhere near the target. I do not think it would take $2000tr though.

          With good diversity in the collection and strong global UHV power loop it starts to look possible for the $200tr. Just need the right project funding with deep pockets to do whatever it takes. How can we put a price on saving the planet – I think Elon stated it is the only one we have! At least until he finds another one.

  2. It’s a good thing that we do not need to reduce CO2 emissions for any purpose as the present push for wind-power is clearly counter-productive on this score. When the sun shines at night, solar generators might start to be an effective source, but the night Sun is a way off yet.

  3. Renewable energy does nothing to reduce CO2 emissions …..but it has not been proven that CO2 emissions need to be reduced…and furthermore, if your neighbor pours out CO2 emissions, your reduction merely slows the increase. If the foolish want to build wind/solar, I do not want to be forced to subsidize it. I read about a rich golf course community that tired of the noisy landscaping lawnmowers and equipment….they were willing to pay the extra money to purchase H2 fuel cell powered equipment that is mostly quiet and emits no CO2….that’s what I’m talking about….if you want less CO2, then pay for it…..and leave me out.

    • Most likely that hydrogen was made via steam methane reforming. The equipment may be quiet, and that’s an advantage that may be worth it, but CO2 emissions are not reduced.

    • There are no measurements of how much CO2 contributes to warming, I have told many people.
      I still stand by the following:
      1. David Archibald shows how the effect of increasing CO2 decreases logarithmically as CO2 increases in the following:
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/08/the-effectiveness-of-co2-as-a-greenhouse-gas-becomes-ever-more-marginal-with-greater-concentration/
      There is also another article on the Logarithmic heating effect of CO2:
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/08/the-logarithmic-effect-of-carbon-dioxide/
      An important item to note is that the first 20 ppm accounts for over half of the heating effect to the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm, by which time carbon dioxide is tuckered out as a greenhouse gas.

      • Anything about CO2 causing warming is garbage. It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding how energy is regulated into the oceans. The ocean surface temperature simply cannot exceed 32C because the storm shutters start going up at 27C. The bright dot in the linked image is hurricane Isaias on 30 July 2020. All those bright spots along the equator are tropical storm clouds:
        https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg20rmI6ZbdeTV0c9
        It is the brightest spot on the planet for that day by a good margin, reflection 80% of the incoming insolation. It maintained that stays for almost a week, reflecting a massive amount of heat that would otherwise ne stored in the ocean.

        This is the inevitable consequence of the ocean surface exceeding 27C. The only way for global temperature to change dramatically on Earth is to block the ocean circulations so the average in one ocean is higher than the others. You can make Europe colder by blocking the Bering Strait – not hard given it is only 50m deep in the present era. Blocking Drakes Passage would be harder but is the big factor in enabling heat distribution through the Southern Ocean Circulation.

        The Persian Gulf is the only ocean connected water surface on the planet that approaches or exceeds 32C. The reason is that the atmospheric water column gets blown away before it reaches the 30mm needed to initiate cloud burst that leads to tropical storms. Unique to a land locked body of water.

        Ocean surface temperature can range between 32C (305K) and -1.7C (271.3K). It cannot exceed 32C because there would be endless tropical storms reflecting heat before 32C is reached. It cannot get cooler than -1.7C because it becomes solid at the surface and is self-insulating. In the present era there is good ocean connectedness giving good heat distribution, So it is completely expected that the average global surface temperature is smack in the middle of these two extremes at 287K.

        It is laughable to think that CO2, in piddling quantities, can do anything that compares with the power of tropical storms in rejecting heat to limit the ocean surface temperature. It boggles the mind how such nonsense can gain currency. CO2 forcing is derived from applying the impact of CO2 doubling to the US Standard Atmosphere. How is the US Standard Atmosphere relevant to tropical oceans? It is just farcical that this utter drivel gets debated by so called scientists.

        Measured “global warming” is the result of inadequate correction for the urban heat effect and the process of “homogenising” the temperature rise in densely populated areas to the pristine areas. There is no measured trend in rural and unpopulated coastal locations.

        Hope this helps in presenting reality rather than fantasy to people who have a misguided view about what CO2 can do in the atmosphere. CO2 is incredibly important to life on Earth but has no direct influence on average surface temperature.

        • You write:
          So it is completely expected that the average global surface temperature is smack in the middle of these two extremes at 287K.

          You describe the limits to and the reasons for the range of possible ocean temperatures. Can you explain why temperatures can’t go up within that range – irrespective of CO2 but via any heating mechanism?

          • I appreciate the interest and question – it is a good one.

            Thermal imbalance and coriolis forces drive wind and ocean circulations distributing heat from the hottest at the tropics to the coldest at the poles. None of the ocean can get warmer than 32C. There could be more ocean surface approaching 32C as was the case for the Pacific before Drakes Passage opened to enable the southern ocean circulation but that is quite a dramatic change that I know would be more than obvious. It is easier to close the Bering Strait but that really only makes the North Atlantic cooler. Could be devastating for growth of glaciers in Europe but otherwise not too bad.

            Before Drakes Passage opened, the Pacific was quite a bit warmer on average than the Atlantic. That is when most of Eastern Australia was tropical rain forest and Antarctica had trees. Atlantic was a bit cooler but not too miserable. The global average surface temperature was higher but there was no catastrophic warming.

            So there are ocean circulations that can shift the area average temperature but the firm temperature limits remain. There are significant drivers of climate in orbital geometry but they just alter the distribution of heat and accumulation or melting of land and sea ice. The average temperature cannot change much. Certainly the limits cannot change with the present distribution of ocean water.

            Even in the present era the insolation varies over a range of 7% during a year but the energy balance hardly varies from month-to-month. There are very powerful negative feedbacks to limit temperature changes. Measured changes in sea surface temperature over a year are small but are even exaggerated by land water runoff from the large land masses in the northern hemisphere and poor mixing due to low density fresh water runoff rather than changes in net energy uptake or release. In fact the highest ocean average surface temperatured measured each year are in August, just after the orbit has reached aphelion; complete opposite of what would be expected by the energy balance.

          • They can, but barring major extraneous events they will always strive hard (and tropical storms demonstrate just how hard!) to revert to that mean.

            Or at least that’s how I understand it.

  4. Wind turbines require more BTU’s of fossil fuel energy to mine, mill, construct, operate, and dispose of after their functional lifetimes than the BTU’s of electricity they generate from wind. They are a net loss in terms of BTU’s and fossil fuels. When the entire footprint is accounted for, more CO2 is emitted from wind turbines than would be from using natural gas to generate the same amount of electricity.

    All the propaganda is false. Wind turbines are net CO2 emitters. They do not reduce emissions; they increase them. It is not necessary to include soils in the analysis to reach that conclusion.

    The same is true of solar panels. More CO2 is emitted than if the solar panels were not built and used at all, but instead the same amount of electricity was generated by fossil fuels. Again, it is not necessary to include the loss of CO2 fixation under the panels to find their impact is the opposite of the claims.

    That analysis does not include the need to substitute natural gas or other fossil fuel electricity generation when it is dark or the wind is not blowing. If that additional factor was accounted for, the CO2 emissions from “renewables” would be off the charts.

    • Is this actually true?
      It’s what i want to believe to be true.

      I believe the result of all this renewable energy hogwash is that China will manufacture the panels/wind turbines etc.. their emissions won’t be counted.. then they ship them overseas to the virtuous nations to generate carbon dioxide free energy. But with no actual net reduction in emissions globally.

      If so, I wonder why we don’t just skip the step of producing all this wasteful garbage and send all our money straight to China in the first place?

      • There are many factors that go unaccounted in the favourable costs offered for WDGs. They can offer an economic solution to support hydroelectric where the perched water is constrained but the amount is limited by grid stability. Any capacity more than 30% of the demand gets expensive to integrate.

        South Australia is gradually addressing the issues but it is very expensive of integrating in a system that has solid links to a much larger network that supports some of the stability function providing the interconnection is intact. Batteries offer an adequate means for stability control. A big battery, combined with synchronous condensers can sort the stability issues. But there is still need for dispatchable generation and the requires fast response, high cost gas or diesel to back up; essentially to the full rating of the system.

        If battery costs could get down to $100/kWh installed and they had a 30 year cycle life then there may be situations where WDGs offer an economic option. The unbuffered output is relatively low cost. The cost of buffering to provide stability and on-demand output are where the costs go up by huge factors rather than small margins. Estimates have been made that wind generators are 10 times more materials intensive for energy output that coal or gas generators. Straight off there is the capacity factor around 30% so three times more capacity for the same unbuffered energy.

        The lowest cost system depends on the cost of burring but inevitable involves overbuild due to the unreliability of the weather; wind worse than sun but the sun does not shine every day and, in some place,s hardly at all for months. Reality is a tough master.

      • Talking to a number of activists, I find they don’t care about CO2 or climate or much of anything except that the idea is a means to close down petroleum and gas companies and pipelines. No price is too high if it obtains that end.

      • “…If so, I wonder why we don’t just skip the step of producing all this wasteful garbage and send all our money straight to China in the first place?…”

        That wouldn’t allow the politicos to skim their cut via the corrupt NGO front companies. It is all about wealth distribution: From the politically unconnected to the politically connected.

    • This same charming, if brain dead, incomplete accounting in turn even applies to those battery powered ‘electric vehicles of the future’ still framed upon high strength steel chassis and bodied in stamped steel, aluminum, or petroleum sourced resin-fiber composites; with propulsion energy supplied by whatever (mysteriously to most) powers the electrical grid, including these actually non-renewable novelty means that do so little to reduce the CO2 emissions that their greater expense is promised to offer. Even beyond any actual need to reduce CO2, what a sad testimony to our complacent race’s capacity for proportion and perspective. So are we just self-medicating with these optimistic carrots to lift our droopy spirits and/or are there puppeteers who recognize that very vulnerability to grandiose sham scams? America should at last want to know.

      • EV’s do even less than it appears. The US EPA and similar other offices have(with malice aforethought) defined the power factor for electric vehicles as the total chemical energy in a gallon of fuel, leading to a totally unscientific ~100 MPGe as the benchmark for electric vehicles.

        That sounds really good, a great marketing point for sure, until you factor in the 55-60% efficiency of CCGTurbine generators and the 10-15% losses in electric distribution. The net cost is something like $1/mile for an electric car- mostly paid for by the taxpayers most of whom don’t own electric vehicles.

        The only really viable alternative is a turbocharged, Atkinson cycle, electronic ignition engine. These(Mazda, Ford, Subaru, Toyota,, others). It gets the same efficiency on gasoline as a diesel engine and produces much less small particle pollution in the exhaust.

    • Mike,
      As StephenW says below: “Is this true?” Please cite some research that supports this lovely hypothesis !

      • This paper is one of the best examples of how WDGs should be assessed for integration into the supply network. It is based on actual time run data in Germany, not capacity factors commonly used that demonstrate a lack of appreciation of the issues:
        https://www.hanswernersinn.de/dcs/2017%20Buffering%20Volatility%20EER%2099%202017_0.pdf
        In my submission to The Australian ISP study, I recommended they use time based analysis but they stuck with capacity factors and the magic of the diversity fairy. They have now come to realise that the diversity fairy is figment of someones imagination and does not really exist. Their latest round of planning is based on real run time data collected over the last few years as they recognise the issues with WDGs taking increasing level of market. Time based analysis gives a real appreciation of the storage requirements as Werner Sinn undertakes.

        This link gives a quarterly report for operations of the NEM in Australia:
        https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/files/major-publications/qed/2020/qed-q1-2020.pdf?la=en
        Section 1.6 is of particular interests because it presents some of the issues of managing high penetration of WDGs in the grid. The problem was exacerbated by loss of the high capacity link to Victoria, which SA is able to use as a 640MW battery of infinite capacity either charging or discharging so it a fantastic buffer that SA gets for free. The real costs show up when it is not available. These are the costs that do not get counted in typical costs for WDG integration.

  5. Isn’t it amazing how it costs so much to make wind and solar, yet large power companies can sign contracts for delivering unsubsidised power for 2-3c per kilowatt hour for wind and solar- cheaper than coal. That’s one interpretation. Another is the above report is just cherry picked data, by the usual unqualified “skeptics” to support a conclusion they mde before they typed a single word.
    As usual, it will convince no one outside the “skeptics” because it isn’t objective research, its advocacy.
    I can write an article and give endless fottnotes to say what I like, appartently, they can too.
    Life cycle anaysis, various power sources here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse_gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

    • Another interpretation is looking at real-time data at https://www.electricitymap.org Just compare nuclear France and renewable zealot Germany, or even the UK. It’s not research, it’s cold hard data, and doesn’t support your position in the slightest.

      Also, it doesn’t matter how low you can get those propaganda prices if the resulting electricity becomes extremely expensive by the time it reaches actual consumers, thanks to the costs of intermittency and other externalities always conveniently forgotten by renewable zealots. California, Denmark, Germany, the list goes on, real world results clearly show how expensive this “unsubsidised power” really is.

  6. large power companies can sign contracts for delivering unsubsidised power for 2-3c per kilowatt hour for wind and solar- cheaper than coal.

    Well Tony, why do those same power companies buy ANY power AT ALL from anything but wind and solar? I will admit to being stumped here Tony, please explain it to me.

  7. Tony,

    “Isn’t it amazing how it costs so much to make wind and solar, yet large power companies can sign contracts for delivering unsubsidised power for 2-3c per kilowatt hour for wind and solar- cheaper than coal. ”

    Not if you also account for the cost of accomodating those sources of power. There are a couple of facts that I rarely see mentioned when considering part time power.

    1 The grid needs sufficient reliable sources of power to meet maximum demand plus a small extra margin. Thus all the capital costs of building wind and solar are over and above what is required. Good economics?

    2 Wind and solar are electrical generators and considered, I believe, by most to be equal to more conventional power sources. This is not true, they are inferior sources of electricity from a technical viewpoint. They have no inertia which is required for a stable grid frequency. E.g., in the U.K. a frequency event is considered to be any frequency deviation of plus or minus 0.2 Hz, such events have doubled in number in the last few years as more wind is added (little solar as subsidies have been cut).
    Wind and solar are asynchronous generators. Conventional synchronous generators work as the cruise control on a car, as load varies, fuel supply is varied so keeping the system stable, matching load to supply. Wind and solar cannot do that, again this affects stability. Those that advocate 100% wind and solar generation do not seem to be aware of this very real defect.
    Another technical defect is that their short circuit capability, on which the grid protection systems operate, drop the more wind and solar capacity is added. And as an added drawback if there is a grid trip, wind and solar cannot assist in restarting.

    There are quite a few papers written by engineering bodies detailing all these fcators but it seems it never trickles through to the politicians.

    Wind and solar are not suited to large scale grid operation.

    If CO2 reduction is really as critical as they make out all efforts would be made to drastically increase nuclear generation , including efforts to deal effectively with waste storage. Surely a much easier problem than burying CO2 in the ground by their capture and storage fantasy.

  8. Add to the fact that NPP means little since trees rarely exceed an 8% net year-on-year until their death at which time they (and plants too) have a 100% loss.

    Anybody who thinks plants/trees only consume CO2 and only generate O2 needs to be slapped repeatedly until blood starts to reach their brain.

  9. Here is a w=question to ask your local politicians who advance 100 renewable energy for everyone by 2035.
    Q
    ” If the grid is powered 100 by wind and solar, what restarts it on the many days when the wind does not blow during the night?”

  10. My main takeaway from the study is that public policy should be rational; if a government genuinely wants to reduce CO2 emissions, they should pursue policies which provide a realistic chance of achieving their stated goals, in full awareness of the likely outcomes and consequences of those policies

    Yes. You draw attention to one of the most interesting feature of climate activism, the constant advocacy of policies which the theory implies will be ineffective.

    The flip side of this is the refusal to advocate policies (eg nuclear) which the theory implies are both effective and necessary.

    If we are doing A to bring about B, (1) it must actually do that (2) it must be the best way of doing it. So ask both questions. Ask, does this actually reduce emissions? And then ask, if it does, is this the best way of reducing emissions?

    The answer, with wind, is no on both counts.

    Then go on and ask, why do you want to do it, then?

    • We must reduce CO2 emissions, if we don’t in a few decades global warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions will make the world an uninhabitable hellscape.

      Great, lets build some nuclear power plants.

      No, no, nuclear power is too dangerous.

      <...>

    • You write:
      So it is completely expected that the average global surface temperature is smack in the middle of these two extremes at 287K.

      You describe the limits to and the reasons for the range of possible ocean temperatures. Can you explain why temperatures can’t go up within that range – irrespective of CO2 but via any heating mechanism?

  11. Slightly o/t, but the UK is possibly entering a ‘California moment’ due to still air. No blackouts as yet…

    Cranking up the gas cannot be good for the ‘reduction’ in CO2 emissions, if the windmills’ land is still outgassing even when they’re being useless.

    Maybe some blackouts might be less cancellable than the diligent Dr. Soon.

  12. “… public policy should be rational; if a government genuinely wants to reduce CO2 emissions, they should pursue policies which provide a realistic chance of achieving their stated goals…”

    And this is program evaluation in a nutshell. Have a goal, do things that move you toward that goal, check to see if they do, and stop doing things that do not.

    Unfortunately, people are not rational or realistic. They are easily led and manipulated by politics and emotion to do silly things, like build (or tilt at) windmills.

  13. Hi, Eric
    Interesting that you chose to highlight the section about wind farms ‘heating the soil’, and thereby increasing respiration, so negating the emissions they are reputed to save.
    Clearly, that is prima facie nonsense, and smacks of the same absurdities of which the other side is so often guilty.
    The passage seems to ignore the extraordinarily small area that is affected by the heating, and even if the surmised relationship with emissions is true, the effect would only be of relevant magnitude if the windfarms occupied ten percent of the global land area. Well, there are a lot of them, but not that many.
    If the rest of the document is so cavalier with any sense of proportion, you can see why it can be dismissed so contemptuously- as it definitely will be.

    • I would argue that wind turbines have a negligible impact on anthropogenic emissions, so the comparison of CO2 “savings” from wind turbines vs soil outgassing is as you say not terrible significant in terms of overall CO2 emissions. But it is kind of funny that even if you believe in wind turbine CO2 savings, the alleged savings might not even make it out of the wind farm gate.

  14. increased ground temps?

    did they think no one would check their references????

    from Armstrong which they hand their whole argument on

    1. they reference an Opinion piece.
    2. they do not identify it as a hypothesis.
    3. they do not represent the uncertainties (total lack of knowledge) in the piece they reference as evidence

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/gcb.12437

    “. In this Opinions article,
    we examine the potential for the microclimatic effects of these land-based renewable energy sources to alter plant–soil
    carbon cycling, hypothesize likely effects and identify critical knowledge gaps for future carbon research.”

    “In this Opinions article, we summarize current
    understanding of LBR-induced changes on microclimates and hypothesize the, as yet unquantified,
    impacts on plant–soil carbon cycling. We identify and
    discuss critical knowledge gaps for future carbon
    research in response to this growing and globally
    important land use change.”

    we are confident that LBR deployment
    could change productivity and decomposition, but the
    direction of temperature change is uncertain, that is
    both increases and decreases in day-time temperature,
    and increases in night-time temperature have been
    observed at wind farms (Baidya Roy & Traiteur, 2010;
    Zhou et al., 2012).

    “The effect of
    wind turbines on CO2 concentrations has been measured in croplands in central Iowa. Preliminary results
    indicate higher CO2 uptake during the day, more respiration at night but on balance an increase in CO2
    uptake (see http://www.meteor.iastate.edu/windresearch/researchpapers.html for presentations). ”

    “Thus, there is strong evidence that the combined
    changes in plant C inputs, plant and microbial community composition and photosynthetic and respiration
    rates, will act to influence C cycling with feedbacks to
    GHG emissions. We do not postulate a direction of
    change as the exact nature of these effects will depend
    on the ecosystem type (i.e. grasslands, peatlands,
    deserts, urban environments, rangelands) and local climate, as well as the type and intensity of management
    (e.g. grazing, cropping, forestry).”

    “. In addition, there could be larger scale feedbacks on the carbon cycle. For example,
    warming caused by LBR may increase respiration and
    thus CO2 release, causing a positive feedback and further warming at the global scale. However, this would
    depend on the scale of LBR deployment globally. These
    interactions and feedbacks are complex and depend on
    parameters that are highly variable in time and space;
    we believe these warrant much scrutiny in further
    research.”

    Bottom Line. here is clue. check sources.

    • Referenced study:

      warming caused by LBR may increase respiration and thus CO2 release, causing a positive feedback and fur- ther warming at the global scale. However, this would depend on the scale of LBR deployment globally. These interactions and feedbacks are complex and depend on parameters that are highly variable in time and space; we believe these warrant much scrutiny in further research.

      Looks a lot like ÓhAiseadha et al’s words.

      Therefore, given that the global CO2 emissions from soil respiration are an order of magnitude greater than anthropogenic emissions, we suggest that the increase in biological CO2 emissions caused by wind farms warming the night-time soil temperatures could potentially be similar in magnitude to the reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the wind farms.

      Obviously there are all sorts of exceptions and qualifications, but it is kind of funny that the alleged carbon savings of wind farms might not even make it out of the turbine field.

      I’m sure there is plenty more work which could be done to firm this up, but how much interest is there in funding a comprehensive audit of the damage wind turbines do to soil respiration at the site of the farms themselves? We can’t even get a decent count of the number of raptors wind farms kill.

  15. the total emissions [of CO2] from soil respiration are known to increase with temperature“. Where does the C come from, for these emissions? Is it possible that there’s just an accelerated cycle and no net change?

    • Sub-surface root system emit CO2. So do microbes decomposing matter. Higher temperatures tend to increase the output of these systems. There are probably other contributors also. Good soil has lots of carbon in it

  16. The purpose of installing  Renewables is to reduce the CO2 emissions from UK power generation, in spite of the excessive costs and increased risks of failure they incur.

    The benefit of these expenditures on Weather Dependent Renewables is the replacement of about 23% of the UK 2019 power generating capability by “nominally” CO2 neutral technologies.  Electrical power generation results in about 25% of the total CO2 emissions output from the UK, the 75% remainder being required for heating, transport, etc..

    In 2019 the UK emitted ~387 million tonnes of CO2, ~1.1% of the Global CO2 emissions.  Accordingly at ~23% of ~25% of 387 million tonnes, the current Renewable expenditures are being made to avert a possible maximum of ~22 million tonnes of UK CO2 emissions.

    This value of the averted CO2 emissions assumes that Weather Dependent Renewables are CO2 and energy neutral.  It ignores all the CO2 emissions and energy costs of Weather Dependent Renewables manufacture, installation, maintenance, etc whether incurred in the UK or overseas.

    Thus estimates at the absolute maximum ~22 million tonnes of CO2 emissions averted from UK Weather Dependent Renewables are as follows:

    of the 2019 UK CO2 emissions 387 million tonnes     ~5.6%
    of the 2019 European CO2 emissions 3,330 million tonnes     ~0.6%
    of the 2019 Global CO2 emissions  34,164 million tonnes     ~0.06 %
    of the 2019 CO2 emissions growth from developing world  504 million tonnes    ~4.3%

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/global-man-made-co2-emissions-1965-2019-bp-data/

    The question should be asked “does the capital commitment of ~62£billion and the probable future expenditures of ~260£billion to install extra generating capacity about ~54% of the current UK but to replace unreliably ~23% of UK power output and to avert ~5.6% of UK CO2 emissions or 0.06% of Global CO2 emissions make good economic sense?”

    As the late Professor David Mackay said even in 2016 UK energy policy is an:

    “appalling delusion” .

    10d1bbe16e       minute 12 on

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/uk-renewable-energy-foundation-time-series-data-2002-2019/

  17. I don’t ‘get it’

    1st: Its good that they mention soil (the bacteria within same) but then go off the rails by saying the soil accumulates as much as it emits.
    No
    That’s true *only* when perennial plants are growing there *and* when they are not routinely logged, cut, slashed and or burned.
    *Then they accumulate organic carbon in the soil, it retains large amounts of water which in turns add inertia.stability to the local climate and if covering a large enough area, Global Climate

    Annual plants, such as we grow for that nutrient free tasteless mush that passes for food these day, annual plants *are* obviously cut and burned. Even if that ‘fire’ is inside our (and our animals) guts.

    2) “Warming”
    I, me personally, think someone has completely confused themselves, as per the entire GHGE also.

    What is the warming mechanism for windmills?

    Their link to Figure 11 shows Lapse rate to be inverted at night time. What??!!

    The confusion comes from their statement that turbines extract energy from the moving air.
    Pretty obvious.

    But *that* can *only* have a cooling effect – you cannot extract energy AND heating at the same time – where is the energy coming from? Its just like the GHGE, the have cake *and* eat it.
    Surely, as the air goes through the turbine it is slowed down but afterwards it is required to accelerate – to catch up with the rest of the wind.
    This needs energy which can only come from the air itself

    And the photos of the offshore turbines perfectly shows the effect I describe.
    The trails of fog/mist/condensation coming off the turbines is caused by the air cooling as it leaves them.

    Surely we all know that, early morning mist clears as the sun rises and warms things up. You clear fog off your car windscreen by putting the heater on. As we are now in the Season Of Mists and Mellow Fruitiness – its cool in Autumn/Fall relative to summertime and it gets foggy

    All I see here is yet another back-to-front, cause & effect reversal error.

    Isn’t one major gaffe like that enough render this whole thing junk?
    Why is it so verbose, as EW states.
    Just like Socialist Manifestos, epically long-winded, boring and so confusing even the authors lost the plot writing it

    • “But *that* can *only* have a cooling effect – you cannot extract energy AND heating at the same time – where is the energy coming from? Its just like the GHGE, the have cake *and* eat it.”

      It cools the air. But it also warms the turbine infrastructure. In addition, no generator is 100% efficient. That’ means a certain amount of heat is wasted and transferred into the wind turbine infrastructure.

      Some of that heat is probably returned to the air flowing past the turbine infrastructure. But a certain amount will also be put into the soil surrounding the infrastructure.

  18. They are not meant to reduce Co2 emissions, they are meant to destabilize power grid systems, drive up cost of energy to the common citizens and collapse existing societal structures. Looking about they are clearly working precisely as designed.

  19. Upland topsoil, in the presence of adequate moisture, owes its richness to the amount
    of natural gas upwelling through it. The natural gas is consumed by aerobic
    microbes. They use the hydrogen for energy and exhale CO2. The warming of the soil
    by the presence of the windmills speeds the rise of natural gas, giving the microbes
    more to eat, thus the increase in CO2, with an increase in the soil fertilization.

  20. Upland topsoil, in the presence of adequate moisture, owes its richness to the amount
    of natural gas upwelling through it. The natural gas is consumed by aerobic
    microbes. They use the hydrogen for energy and exhale CO2. The warming of the soil
    by the presence of the windmills speeds the rise of natural gas, giving the microbes
    more to eat, thus the increase in CO2, with an increase in the soil fertilization.

  21. It’s the sun, stupid.
    Climate is driven 100% by the sun, and we still have very little understanding of the full-spectrum effects of the various solar cycles on our atmosphere. And there’s little we can do to affect climate–we just adapt over time like humans have done for millennia.

  22. Although the warming effects of wind farms described in Section 4.2.1 are mostly localized and tend to be confined to night-time temperatures, we note that they introduce a problematic complication for those proposing to use wind farms to reduce global CO2 emissions.

    However, the annual biological CO2 emissions from soil respiration are at least ten times greater than the total annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions [6,182,183].

    CO2 emissions from soil respiration are known to increase with temperature. Most studies suggest that the warming of soils generally leads to an increase in biological CO2 emissions from soil respiration [182,183,184,185,186,187]. Therefore, given that the global CO2 emissions from soil respiration are an order of magnitude greater than anthropogenic emissions, we suggest that the increase in biological CO2 emissions caused by wind farms warming the night-time soil temperatures could potentially be similar in magnitude to the reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the wind farms.

    I don’t buy this type of argument at all.
    It’s a bad example of linear catholic logic.
    If A thus B, if B thus C, if C thus D.
    We assume that neither A or B or C will change anything else of course.
    Linear catholic logic fares extremely poorly in the real, chaotic world.
    CAGW is built on linear catholic logic.
    Much better is “if A and if B and if C and if D then WORD”.

    Pulling an argument that “turbines heat soil and that’s bad because of CO2” looks like the “Gish gallop” strategy of thinking that an absurdly long list of arguments gives more persuasive power.

  23. The renewable drivers are good. It’s the nonrenewable converters that are the problem. A literal blight on the environment, perhaps from conception, certainly from birth, to obsolescence do them part.

  24. In Finland the use of biofuels is strongly proposed. They say that if a vehicle uses only biofuels the CO2 emissions will be reduced roughly 90% based on the regaining of the gas by vegetation. Could this really be true? The atmosphere contains 3.5 million Mtn of CO2 of which 0.7 million is of fossil origin (Global Carbon Budget 2019), meaning 81% of “natural” CO2 and 19% of fossil CO2. The sink of the Finnish forests is estimated to be (2019) 25.6 Mtn of CO2. The Finnish road traffic emitted (2018) 10.9 Mtn of CO2. If all this had been from biofuels it means 10.9 Mtn of bioCO2/year amounting 0.0003% of the atmospheric CO2. The sinks absorb CO2 from these 3 sources in the relation of their masses provided that the gas is freely mixed. From this the Finnish forests absorb 20,7 Mtn of “natural” CO2, 4.9 Mtn of fossil CO2 and 0.008 Mtn of bioCO2. In other words, from bioCO2 0.07% is absorbed, 99,93% stays in the atmosphere. Did I calculate something wrong?

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