The Futility of “Renewable” Energy in Two Easy Charts

Guest “energy transition… pft!” by David Middleton

The United States Energy Information Administration is a national treasure! This morning, I was poking around in the latest Monthly Energy Review and I downloaded Table 1.1 Primary energy overview. It tabulates monthly and annual US primary energy production and consumption since 1949. I plotted up the primary energy consumption.

Figure 1. US primary energy consumption (1949-2019). EIA

“Renewable energy” includes hydroelectric, wind and solar power. A quick look at this graph should tell anyone with at least two functioning synapses in their brain (the typical brain has trillions of synapses) that this is the dumbest thing ever said:

Democrat Joe Biden’s remark that he would “transition” away from oil in the U.S. in favor of renewable energy drew quick attention Thursday night from President Donald Trump, who saw it as a boon to his election chances in key states.

“I would transition away from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said in the presidential debate’s closing minutes under peppering from Trump. “The oil industry pollutes, significantly. … It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.”

AP

Despite an “investment” of about $380 billion from 2004-2015, “renewable” energy consumption only increased by 3.6 quadrillion BTU. That’s $105.56 per million BTU (mmBTU). The wellhead price for natural gas is currently around $3.30/mmBTU and the US residential price has averaged $10.55/mmBTU since 2014.

If it was actually possible to replace fossil fuels with “renewables,” at $105.56/mmBTU, it would cost just under $8.5 trillion to replace 80.4 quadrillion BTU of fossil fuels. Depending on when he was misstating his own agenda, Mr. Biden says this must be done by 2025, 2035 or 2050… periods of 5, 15 and 30 years… $1.7 trillion/yr, $566 billion/yr and $283 billion/yr respectively.

If that isn’t funny enough, here are the same data as percentages of total primary energy consumption.

Figure 2. US primary energy consumption (1949-2019). EIA

In 1949, 9% of our primary energy consumption came from real renewable energy (hydroelectric power). In 2019, the share has only grown to 11% as the result of massive “investments” in “renewables” (mostly wind & solar). Over the same time period, the fossil fuel share has only dropped from 91% to 80%, with most of this due to to the growth of nuclear power generation from 1970-1990.

Larry the Cable Guy says…

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Gautam Kalghatgi
October 29, 2020 2:15 pm
griff
Reply to  Gautam Kalghatgi
October 30, 2020 1:04 am

I read that: straw man all the way through. Takes no account of actual UK infrastructure roll out in progress and planned or govt planning…

Phillip Bratby
October 29, 2020 2:16 pm

It’s the same story everywhere. The countries that mostly rely on renewable energy are third world ones that burn lots of wood (apart from a few with lots of hydroelectricity, but try increasing that in the USA).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 29, 2020 2:35 pm

“…, but try increasing that in the USA).” Yes, dams are being taken out to allow fish spawning, most are experiencing reduced capacity from sedimentation, the generators are old, and you can bet that the few remaining places suitable for hydroelectric, such as in declared wilderness areas, would experience considerable opposition.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 30, 2020 12:08 am

Past history correlates renewables with impoverishment.

The poorer the population – the greater the percentage of energy derived from renewables.

And our leaders think renewables are the route to go.

griff
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 30, 2020 1:05 am

Germany has over 50% renewable electricity. Not much of it from wood.

Graeme#4
Reply to  David Middleton
October 30, 2020 3:29 am

South Australia is similar. High use of renewables – nearly 50%, and the highest electricity prices in Australia (US$0.33). Worldwide, whenever a country or state has a high percentage of renewables, their energy cost is also very high.

willem post
Reply to  David Middleton
October 30, 2020 6:37 am

Fossil fuels was 91% in 1949, 80% in 2019, SEVENTY YEARS LATER
Renewables was 9% in 1949, 11% in 2019, SEVENTY YEARS LATER

Despite an “investment” of about $380 billion from 2004-2015, “renewable” energy consumption increased by only 3.6 quads.
That is equivalent to $105.56 per million Btu
https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy

For comparison, the wellhead price for natural gas is currently around $3.30/million Btu and the US residential price has averaged $10.55/million Btu since 2014.

If it were possible to replace fossil fuels with “renewables,” at $105.56/million Btu, it would cost just under $8.5 trillion to replace 80.4 quads of fossil fuels.

NOTE: Biden, parading as a moderate, wants to replace fossils with renewables by 2035, or 2050, “at the latest”, i.e., spending 8500/15 = 567 BILLION/y, if 2035, or 8500/30 = $283 BILLION/y, if 2050

NOTE: The US primary energy consumption in 2019 was 100.4 quads, which is only 17% of world total primary energy, i.e.,
worldwide spending to replace fossils would be at least 5 times greater, or spending $2.8 TRILLION/y, if 2035, or 1.42 TRILLION/y if 2050. The later is close to my above estimate of $1.5 TRILLION/y. All this does not include the cost of financing, and the cost of replacing short-life items prior to 2050.

NOTE: It should be clear by now, replacing fossil fuels with renewables would involve enormous investments.

Alan M
Reply to  David Middleton
October 30, 2020 6:11 am

And in addition there is the considerable non-electric heating in much of Europe which is mainly generated from fossil fuels

Willem post
Reply to  David Middleton
October 30, 2020 6:06 pm

David,
In your article you mentioned $380 billion had been spent on renewables.

Where did that number come from? URL?

I need it for one of my articles.

Derg
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 4:19 am

When I was in Germany they had all these solar panels at freeway exits. I walked up to one and noticed how dirty the glass was with condensation underneath…do these things even work?

Alasdair Fairbairn
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 4:29 am

Where did you dream up this 50% figure Griff?

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 5:41 am

Griffy-poo:

A quote from David’s link above:
“..Germany’s size and location give it considerable influence over the European Union’s (EU) energy sector. However, Germany relies heavily on imports to meet most of its energy demand. In 2019, energy imports accounted for 71% of the German energy supply…”.

71% imported energy supply Griffy-poo. Doesn’t sound to me link so-called “renewables” are getting the job done. I will guess that a considerable amount of that energy is nuclear power from France.

The word “dispatchable” still doesn’t mean anything to you, does it Griffy.

Curious George
October 29, 2020 2:36 pm

David, what exactly is “primary energy”? Does it include gasoline and diesel for cars and trucks?

Ron Long
October 29, 2020 2:40 pm

When CNN described the Biden remarks about “transitioning away from the oil industry…” as “an unforced error”, they were thinking about the negative impact on voters, because they for sure cannot read charts as presented herein. Good report, David.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 29, 2020 2:43 pm

A quick look at this graph should tell anyone with at least two functioning synapses in their brain (the typical brain has trillions of synapses) that this is the dumbest thing ever said:

Oh ye of little faith. In four years there will be another Presidential election and even dumber things will be said. We haven’t come close to reaching “peak stupid”.

However your Figure 2 above shows that recent renewable generation has displaced fossil fuels to a minor extent.

Nuclear growth (in percentage of US total energy) essentially all occurred between 1970 and 1990; it has remained effectively flat to the present. There was a corresponding decline in percentage of fossil fuel while renewables remained flat. But fossil fuel percentage continued to decline from 1990 to present, with a corresponding increase of renewables. Eyeballing the chart says that in the last 30 years, new renewables have replaced fossil fuels for roughly 5% of to US energy consumption. Since this displacement has been almost entirely in electrical generation the effect in that sector is proportionally more significant.

Countdown clock: 367 days until Plant Vogtle Unit 3 is operational (according to latest GA Power schedule). Unit 4 promised for November 2022.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 29, 2020 3:14 pm
Melvyn Dackombe
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 29, 2020 3:15 pm

However your Figure 2 above shows that recent renewable generation has displaced fossil fuels to a minor extent.

Displaced nuclear.

Joe B
Reply to  Melvyn Dackombe
October 30, 2020 3:35 am

Messrs Watt and Dackombe,
The Production Tax Credits and Investment Tax Credits have been THE main driver behind wind and solar buildout in the US.
As these programs expire in ~60 days, the 2021/2023 carryover will be their ‘Last Hurrah”.

Nuclear is being savaged by the low cost CCGPs that are becoming the global choice for power generation.
Vietnam is embarking on a ~15,000 Megawatt buildout (comparable to New England’s consumption) which will be supplied by LNG via Floating Storage and Regasification Units.
American based Renewable (sic) Energy has always been a nonsensical distraction.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Joe B
October 30, 2020 7:53 am

Joe B: Darn, I get tired of these short-hand contractions: What the heck is “CCGPs”, for the uninitiated?

John Garrett
October 29, 2020 2:49 pm

Mr. Middleton,
You and I both know that the demagogues rely on and assume the stupidity and innumeracy of the American public.

NPR, PBS, Pravda (a/k/a the NY Times), the WaPo, CNN, the La-La Times, Bill McKibben, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, Robert B. Reich, Billary, Kamala (a/k/a “Commie”) Harris, Michael “Piltdown” Mann and the rest of the latent dictators know full well they can get away with perpetually lying about energy and the CO2-driven, catastrophic/dangerous, anthropogenic global warming/climate change CONJECTURE.

With the complicit assistance of Big Education, they’ve now been getting away with their lies for more than two decades.

John Garrett
October 29, 2020 2:57 pm

Mr. Middleton,

I forgot to thank you for the spectacular graphs. They are extremely effective in making your point— they jump out at a reader. Any intelligent viewer (that would, of course, exclude those crack investigative journalists at NPR, the WaPo, PBS, et al) can immediately see how laughable Joe Biden’s promises are.

May I have your permission to use them (with attribution, of course)?

RickWill
October 29, 2020 3:14 pm

Making liniear projections for per unit cost of WDGs with increasing penetration is a naive error. The first 30% is relatively easy. Particularly where there is existing hydro and fast response gas.

The cost rise dramatically after 30% because getting above that involves storage, VERY expensive still, and massive overbuild. Your estimate of $8.5tr is out by a factor of 6 to 10. Some have suggested that $85tr would be more than challenging.

Germany is stuck at under 30% and they have neighbours they can lean on as their battery.

The poster child, South Australia, which is around 60% only achieves that by using neighbouring states as enormous batteries of infinite capacity. Even then the network is fragile. When the Victorian link was broken, the operator ordered all WDGs off so they could keep the grid stable. The operator took direct control of the 120MVA Hornsdale battery so the full capacity could be dedicated to stability services. The only way they could shut down rooftops was to separate rooftops from the grid so that was a last resort not exercised. It was politically expedient to keep rooftops connected but handling them created enormous cost as gas plant had to ordered on. Electricity price essentially doubled at the wholesale level.

Spending $85tr on poorly utilised hardware is the dream of miners and investors. Also good for jobs. Any nimble oil company would just get on and change their business plan. The biggest energy company on the globe by market cap is Next Era, purveyor of wind turbines. The biggest car manufacturer by market cap is Tesla, purveyor of big batteries as well as cars. The money is betting on the new future.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  RickWill
October 29, 2020 4:27 pm

The people putting all that money into Tesla are the same ones who bought tulips at outrageous prices.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
October 29, 2020 5:50 pm

Jan Brueghel the Younger, Satire on Tulip Mania
https://www.franshalsmuseum.nl/en/art/satire-of-tulipomania/

tygrus
Reply to  RickWill
October 29, 2020 8:16 pm

Current Hornsdale can supply about 5% of SA peak demand. They are in the process of adding more to it and elsewhere in the country.
Australia would need over 260x Hornsdale to meet typical peak demand for about 1hr. But we need days or may be >8days supply to cope with intermittent wind & solar in a grid without coal&gas. That would greatly increase the cost and increase the energy losses. The finance costs of using <10% capacity per day is currently far higher than the equivalent coal based energy source.
SA wind goes from 275v when designed for 220 to 240v AC).

What you can do for 10% doesn’t scale to 100%.

Joe B
Reply to  tygrus
October 30, 2020 3:46 am

Rickwill/tygrus
Peak Oil icon (yes, they are still around) Gail Tverberg has done several in depth analyses (pretty good ones, actually) that emphatically show that once the 20% threshold is crossed for Renewable (sic) Energy supply, everything starts to go haywire.

Costs of redundancy and reliability alone spiral upwards.
Current ‘coping’ methods focus on relying upon outside suppliers which South Australia, California, and Germany do on a daily basis.

Rafe Champion
Reply to  tygrus
November 2, 2020 1:52 am

The Hornsdale battery is not designed to contribute to peak demand, it regulates the voltage in the local grid.

How long would the 193MWh capacity of the battery support peak demand that exceeds 2000MW? I suppose that is your point but the battery was not installed for that purpose.

Wind droughts lasting a day or more are not infrequent in SA and indeed across the whole of the NEM.

Tennhauser
Reply to  tygrus
November 4, 2020 2:50 pm

Exactly. I hear people talking up Hornsdale, and all I can think is…it’s little more than a toy compared to what is actually needed to accomplish the job.

Most of what Hornsdale does isn’t even storing power for long periods of time – it is frequency regulation and providing virtual inertia. That is useful, and helps integrate renewables into the grid, but it doesn’t actually allow the renewables to displace more reliable types of energy at all. that 30% capacity factor of wind, or the lack of solar after 4 Pm problem isn’t even really addressed by Hornsdale. You’ll need a hundred, a thousand, 10,000 such installations to make a dent It just doesn’t store very much power.

We’ve always generated energy as we needed it because it is so damn difficult to store for any appreciable amount of time, and that difficulty is due to the second law of thermodynamics. None of that changes with batteries.

Peter W
October 29, 2020 3:30 pm

In December of 2019 the Heartland Institute published a policy brief, demonstrating with many calculations and examples how futile it would be to depend on solar and wind power for our needs. It was backed up with many references, and also pointed out the extensive damages from solar and wind.

Of course, according to the opposition you can’t believe anything they say, since they are “financed by the fossil fuel industry.” (Amusingly enough I read recently the charge that Michael Mann et. al. have been financed by the wind power industry.)

Perhaps the Heartland Institute (a 501(c)(3) organization) would be willing to provide copies of that policy brief. I will admit to being a supporting member.

Rud Istvan
October 29, 2020 3:33 pm

Renewables (wind, solar) have three insurmountable yet simple to articulate/prove disadvantages.
1. By themselves, are uneconomic. That is why investment always tanks absent large subsidies.
2. Renewable intermittency pushes a large extra underutilized backup generation cost onto the grid that renewables do NOT pay—you do.
3. Renewables provide no grid inertia. So as their penetration approaches hot spinning Grid standby, frequency can go unstable and brownouts/blackouts can emerge independent of sufficient standby backup generation.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 30, 2020 4:46 am

4. Wind and solar are dilute energy sources, requiring many times more area to produce the same output as a much smaller thermal plant.

Gunga Din
October 29, 2020 3:56 pm

“Renewable energy” includes hydroelectric, wind and solar power.

Why is it that they never include Hydro when it comes to subsidies?
It pads “Renewable energy” numbers?
Are the Green Ghouls willing to build more dams?
No. They want to tear down the ones we have.
(Just like they want to shut down nuclear power plants.)

Abolition Man
Reply to  T.C. Clark
October 29, 2020 5:23 pm

T.C.Clark,
The Anti-griff; is that some kind of creative genius or does it have deeper, religious meanings?
Reading the article has me worried that the price of pellets for smokers and grills will be affected in the future! Say it’s ain’t so!

DMacKenzie
Reply to  T.C. Clark
October 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Interesting….but if CO2 emissions are the concern, wouldn’t burying the wood pellets be a bunch more effective than burning them ? /s

trafamadore
October 29, 2020 4:36 pm

The biggest problem for gas/coal/oil plants now is if you build one after 10 years it will be setting useless. Not a good way to get investors.

Gunga Din
Reply to  trafamadore
October 29, 2020 6:51 pm

Huh?
Wind and solar BOTH need a back up to really supply the reliable power people need.
The Greens are trying to shut down the reliable power sources in favor of the unreliable power sources which need the reliable power sources for when “the wind don’t blow and sun don’t shine”. (And sometimes even when they do.)
Whey not skip the middle-man (or woman) and just stick with what works?

Let me guess. The promoters of renewables ARE the middle- … persons!

gbaikie
October 29, 2020 4:59 pm

What is amount of the “biofuels” {ie: the wood burning}?

griff
Reply to  gbaikie
October 30, 2020 1:07 am

biofuels also includes anaerobic generation – a far larger part of biofuels than wood in many places (and ethanol, biodiesel from waste, etc)

fred250
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 4:55 pm

data……. or you have just a FANTASY as usual.

Bill Powers
Reply to  griff
October 31, 2020 1:41 pm

I think that was a NYTimes book review you are referring to. You really need to spend less time reading science fiction novels Griff. That includes Science Fiction publications such as the NYTimes. Oh what a sad and delusional rag it has become.

Abolition Man
October 29, 2020 5:17 pm

Thanks, David!
As the laptop-from-hell shows, a vote for Biden is a vote for the ChiComs to be running our political systems for their own benefit! Makes me wonder how much penetration they have into the Australian political system already?
The ChiComs will prosper doubly under a Harris/Biden Administration as the US destroys it’s prosperity and energy independence following the crackpipe dream of transitioning off of fossil fuels onto Unreliable wind and solar energy! They will be able to sell us most of the wind generators and solar panels we install; and they will rule over the world as we collapse into Third World status with widespread poverty and frequent brown outs!
If we can overcome the widespread voter fraud perpetrated by the DemoKKKrat machine, and Trump is re-elected; I hope he gets busy pushing for an easing of regulations over the nuclear industry to keep us competitive for generations!
DemoKKKrat Corruption; so widespread in Washington that they include it in the name: DC!

JonR
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 29, 2020 7:07 pm

+100

Jock
October 29, 2020 5:49 pm

While I am against inefficient renewables , care needs to be taken in comparing them against other energy generators. Is the $380 billion purely capital? If so the true comparison is Operating Costs including fuels. That still gets them because of the massive redundancy necessary to generate a megawatt of power. And is worse if you include backup. By operating costs I mean Depreciation, Amortisation, Labor, Interest , Fuel . The lot.

Joe B
Reply to  Jock
October 30, 2020 3:56 am

Jock
The ~15 page Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy (Version 14) was just released and addresses your concerns.
Better yet is the 22 page report from the EIA … LCOE/LACE which provides WAY more granular comparisons amongst various generators with an economic slant so as to guesstimate future plant buildout.

Not for the faint of heart, but exceptionally informative work.

Joel O'Bryan
October 29, 2020 6:23 pm

Dementia Joe at 77 yr old (78 yr old at inauguration) has the current Executive Function of a the average person at 98-100 years old. That is to say, Biden today has no business even being this close to being the Office of US President. History will ultimately judge harshly with much disdain the Democrats and their pushing this obviously mentally impaired individual so far. COVID-19 scaremongering and an enabling media that is hiding and covering with no critical scrutiny for Biden will also take a huge share of the blame… if Biden some how gets elected President.

But the Democrats’ plan all along has been to use the 25th Amendment, Section 4. on a freshly inaugerated President Biden as soon as most of his cabinet secretaries are confirmed. All it will take is Komrade VP Kamala and 1/2 of Biden’s sworn-in cabinet to send a letter to Congress informing them President Biden is “unable to discharge the duties and powers of his office,” then Kamala immediately becomes President.

If Dementia Joe tries to fight this Ides of Kamala removal with his own letter saying “no disability exists” then he immediately returns to power. A real, full-blown Constitutional Crisis then commences in the US.* It will be a constitutional crisis actually engineered and war-gamed out 12 months earlier in the DNC pushing Dementia Joe to the nomination by forcing others out of the race for the nomination.
Komrade Kammie and her Putsch brothers and sisters would then have 4 days to send another letter to Congress saying they disagree and the President is impaired. Then it will be up to Congress to decide the matter by simple majority votes. Note how much easier this is to remove a sitting President than Impeachment-Removal (where 2/3 of the Senate must agree) when the Vice-President and some of his key cabinet conspires against the sitting President. Senior party Democrats are preparing for this cenario. The key will be getting Dementia Joe to nominate the “correct” Cabinet members and get them confirmed to go along with this Coup. Republicans in the Senate (like Sen. Ted Cruz) should grill those Presidential Cabinet nominees on this #25A subject at their confirmation hearings next February, March, and April.

* As for real consequences, just imagine a Defense Secretary next February trying to coordinate a US military response to Chinese attack on Taiwan and not sure who is President to get authority for counter strikes/support to Taiwan. Beijing would almost certainly take advantage of such a distracted US leadership to enable their long-sought unification goal by forcibly re-uniting Taiwan with an invasion.

Steve Richards
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 30, 2020 12:55 am

+1

LdB
October 29, 2020 6:25 pm

Hydro doesn’t actually count as a renewable according to greentards. So if you pulled it out so you have what the greentards are demanding you would have the real picture and it’s worse.

October 29, 2020 6:33 pm

If renewables are so cost effective, why are subsidies required for them to exist?

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

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

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

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

The dollar relation is a proxy for energy relation (the earth does not charge). Bottom line, the energy consumed to design, manufacture, install, maintain and administer renewables exceeds the energy they produce in their lifetime.

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

griff
Reply to  Dan Pangburn
October 30, 2020 1:05 am

In UK and Europe subsidy free solar and offshore wind is a reality

Bill Toland
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 2:27 am
Reply to  griff
October 31, 2020 1:47 pm

Fossil fuel energy consumption commonly overlooked includes the fossil energy to produce the food, housing, transportation and entertainment for people involved in mining, manufacture, construction, administration, maintenance and removal. Without the energy provided by other sources renewables could not exist.

tygrus
October 29, 2020 7:55 pm

How many years will that $Billions of renewables keep producing power at low cost per year? It doesn’t seem to be comparing like with like.

What you can say is past Wind & solar have been expensive when all costs of it’s use have been added regarding poles, wires, maintenance, subsidies, decommissioning, backup using fossil fuel or expensive batteries…

The hope is that in the next 10 to 20 years someone will solve the energy storage & grid backup problems created by relying on intermittent (non-dispatchable) energy sources. Remember, if wind/solar/batteries are asking for subsidies it means the relative costs are higher than the current fossil fuel sources. The detail of the problems, solutions & costs have been discussed elsewhere many times with a variety of possible outcomes.

They would need to build the current wind+solar capacity again every year for 11 years to barely cover the 100% average (loosing old capacity as the 15 to 30 yr life runs out). Another 4 to 5 years doing the same to cover the losses using storage (charge + discharge + inverters + retransmission). Better off waiting for mature technology to see the real costs before committing to 0 emission targets. If you wait 10 years for it to halve in price you could then install twice as much.
The whole problem requires more maths than the typical primary school student or journalist (or most adults) can understand. Promises of 0 emission solutions are not that simple nor cheap.

ATheoK
October 29, 2020 8:43 pm

There is always a caveat whenever solar energy is included in the mix by the officials.

The energy trackers always include privately installed solar as a substantial base.
A base that never reduces.

Nor do the energy authorities bother to mention that a substantial portion of privately installed solar is thermal solar. Even for more northern states, thermal solar does a good job of heating water. Energy authorities are happy to convert estimated thermal BTUs into estimated electricity equivalent.

Estimated because, unlike those occasionally installed meters to track solar energy fed back into the grid, most privately installed solar is untracked. After all, how does one track hot water or small solar systems to charge batteries?

Privately installed solar never wears out. Never needs maintenance and is never uninstalled.
It’s a gift that gives forever and always bolsters whatever claim government official want to make. When the authorities need additional solar, they can increase their estimated installs and estimated solar energy.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  ATheoK
October 30, 2020 4:57 am

Privately installed solar never wears out. Never needs maintenance and is never uninstalled.

Not true. Solar hot water does require maintenance, does eventually wear out an need to be replaced – same as gas and electric water heaters. But in some locations, the total lifetime cost for a solar hot water installation is lower than electric or gas (if gas is available). Whenever any hot water system needs to be replaced, the building owner can evaluate whether switching to a different system will save money.

GeoffM
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 30, 2020 10:33 am

I regularly look at Scottish home reports, which always have a section on what renewables and insulation could be added to the home, the cost of each of these and the annual cost saving. I notice that solar water heating is terrible- a report I have up on the screen right now shows a payback time of 200 years!!
Besides that property purchasers don’t live 200 years, I doubt if the solar water heater itself would last 200 years either.
Do solar water heaters use more energy/result in more emissions than the energy/emissions that they save (in the UK anyway)?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  GeoffM
October 31, 2020 9:42 am

The economics of solar are extremely location-dependent. Most of Scotland is in the 800 or less annual kWh/m^2 insolation zone. Las Vegas gets almost triple that. West cost of the big island of Hawaii is better yet, where electricity is expensive and natural gas non-existent. Hot water solar makes sense there; Scotland not so.

bigoilbob
Reply to  David Middleton
October 30, 2020 8:13 am

“…the Peoples Republic and Sanctuary City of El Paso isn’t “Texas.””

I’d call this a racist dog whistle, except we can all hear it. Interesting how the “Peoples Republic of El Paso”, in 2018, had ~ twice as many veterans/capita as your Dallas county.

http://data.sagepub.com/sagestats/document.php?id=4450

You’re hardly reticent about your bio, but nada about any service. However, since you were educated in Connecticut, I’m sure that, even if you bonespurred out, you still had it plenty rough. I’ll bet the dad even made you scrape the boat…

fred250
October 29, 2020 9:11 pm

David, you say ““Renewable energy” includes hydroelectric, wind and solar power.”

Doesn’t it also include bio-mess, as a very substantial percentage ?

griff
October 30, 2020 1:08 am

all this shows is that the USA is behind the rest of the world in investment in modern power infrastructure.

why not do the same diagrams for Germany?

LdB
Reply to  griff
October 30, 2020 5:12 am

You didn’t just shoot yourself in foot on that argument Griff you blew your whole leg clean off.

Joe B
October 30, 2020 3:18 am

Great post.
I strongly recommend for anyone even slightly interested in energy matters to start poking around the eia.gov site, become familiar with its vast, vast trove of data, and then come to recognize the absolute absurdity of the entire Renewable (sic) Energy charade.

The data is right their in black and white for all to see.

Again, great post.

Manny
October 30, 2020 5:00 am

Great post, I love it. I wish more people would hear about this.

Julian Flood
October 30, 2020 12:27 pm

It should be policy that any generator connected to the UK Grid should guarantee a certain capacity factor — over 95% would be nice. To reach that goal they would have to build back-up pants for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Then they should be paid the going rate with no subsidies. When the operators did the sums they would find it cheaper to not bother with the renewable part of the package.

JF

windlord-sun
October 30, 2020 5:27 pm

Here’s common sense to jolt the magical thinking out of their heads:

Just to fuel the 330-million population USA, think about how much land would have to be dedicated to the panels and windmills. 1/4? 1/3? Now realize they have only a 20-year lifespan. How much ‘renewed’ energy, rare earth materials, transportation, mining, and manufacturing will have to be pumped into making, transporting, mounting, running, fixing, de-mounting, transporting to junkyard, dismembering, recycling?

Now add 1.3 billion Indians to 1.5 billion Chinese, and paint yourself a picture of how this will be accomplished in Asia.

Steven Mosher
October 30, 2020 7:55 pm
Uzurbrain
Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 31, 2020 2:34 pm

What do you expect when the US is testing MORE than a Million people a day. It would be near impossible to get much less than 50,000 a day! Getting 7%, (the positive rate average for several months) of 1 Million is 70,000! Now look at the Johns Hopkins data. MANY states have far less than the magic 5% the CDC dreams about. The average is still SEVEN percent! And USA is still one of the best countries other than those countries that have a better immunity to COVID19, eg most of Africa, and those countries that feed you SPAM.

willem post
October 31, 2020 7:43 am

FROM:

WORLD AND US TOTAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/world-total-energy-consumption

Fossil fuels was 91% in 1949, 80% in 2019, SEVENTY YEARS LATER
Renewables was 9% in 1949, 11% in 2019, SEVENTY YEARS LATER

The graph shows fossils started to decrease in 1970, as nuclear increased.
After 2000, nuclear remained nearly unchanged, but RE (mostly heavily-subsidized wind and solar) increased, which further decreased fossils.

Despite an “investment” of about $380 billion from 2004 – 2015, renewables energy consumption increased by only 3.6 quads.
That is equivalent to 380 x 10^9/(3.6 x 10^15) = $105.56 per million Btu

https://acore.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Increasing-Investment-and-Capital-Flows-in-Ohio.pdf
https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy

If it were possible to instantaneously replace fossil fuels with renewables, at $105.56/million Btu, it would cost just under $8.5 TRILLION to replace 80.4 quads of fossil fuels.

Replacing US Fossil Fuels

Biden wants to replace US fossils with renewables by 2035, or 2050, “at the latest”, i.e., spending to instantaneously increase from:

– About $55 billion in 2020 to $8500/15 = $567 BILLION on January 20, 2021, and continue at that level for 15 years, if 2035
– About $55 billion in 2020 to $8500/30 = $283 BILLION on January 20, 2021, and continue at that level for 30 years, if 2050
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/us-hit-record-555b-renewables-investments-in-2019/570608/

Replacing World Fossil Fuels

The US primary energy consumption in 2019 was 100.4 quads, which was only 17% of world total primary energy, i.e., worldwide spending to replace fossil fuels would be at least 5 times greater, i.e., spending to instantaneously increase from:

– About $280 billion in 2020 to 5 x 567 = $2,835 BILLION on January 20 2021, and continue at that level for 15 years, if 2035
– About $280 billion in 2020 to 5 x 283 = $1,415 BILLION on January 20, 2021, and continue at that level for 30 years, if 2050

The latter is close to my above estimate of $1.5 TRILLION/y.
All this does not include the cost of financing, and the cost of replacing short-life items prior to 2050.

NOTE: Renewable energy investment was more than $2.5 TRILLION for 2010-2019, an average of $250 billion/y
The level of world RE spending was about $282.2 billion in 2019
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/global-clean-energy-investment-research/

NOTE: It should be clear by now, replacing fossil fuels with renewables would involve enormous investments.

Uzurbrain
October 31, 2020 2:24 pm

“Despite an “investment” of about $380 billion from 2004-2015, “renewable” energy consumption only increased by 3.6 quadrillion BTU. ”

$380 Billion could have built at least 38 one Gigawatt Nuclear power plants. This would increase CO2 FREE electrical power source by more than four times the amount spent on wind and solar. Meanwhile, back at the Climate Change Church, they have succeeded in shutting down five (plus) nuclear power plants in the last ten years and are working on shutting down five more.

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