Wind and solar are losing ground to gas

By David Wojick

The subsidies that never die — for wind and solar power — are back. With Christmas coming on the Lame Duck Congress elected to throw untold additional billions at renewables.

What is amusing is that gas-fired power generation, a fossil fuel with no subsidy, is still growing faster than wind and solar. Far from taking over, wind and solar are actually losing ground to fossil fuels in the American power capacity mix.

The last year we have comprehensive construction data for is 2018, from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This was a good year to use because there was a bit of a race on to build renewables before the subsidies stopped, which they were then scheduled to do. (Unfortunately, due to the Lame Ducks this is no longer true.)

First we will look at the basic numbers, followed by some interesting factors. We are talking about what is called electric power generating capacity, which is measured in megawatts or MW for short. This is the ability to generate a million watts of juice. A large power plant may run around 600 MW.

For starters, in 2018 we built about 19,000 MW of gas fired generators, 9,000 MW of wind powered and 7,000 MW of utility scale solar. (So-called “behind the meter” typically tiny solar is not included.)

So right away we built more gas, at 19,000 MW than the 16,000 MW of renewables. Thus wind and solar’s fraction of America’s generating capacity actually went down, not up. Renewables lost ground.

But this is just the tip of the difference. These numbers are just what the generators can produce under ideal conditions, which is called “nameplate capacity”.

For solar these ideal conditions are basically a clear sky, with the sun overhead and no snow or dirt, etc., on the collector. For wind they are typically a sustained air flow exceeding 30 miles per hour or so. Note that these crucial conditions do not occur all that often.

This is why wind and solar are called “intermittent”, because they frequently produce far less power than their nameplate capacity; often they produce none at all. In contrast, gas fired power runs most of the time, although it does need a certain amount of downtime for maintenance.

The difference between actual power generation and nameplate is called the “capacity factor” or CF for the generator. The typical capacity factors for different generating technologies are pretty well known, although they can vary from machine to machine.

To be generous to renewables, let’s say that solar has a CF of 15% and wind 40%. (The standard numbers are lower.) Gas easily has 80%. Applying these factors to our construction numbers gives the following actual generating capacities:

Gas: 19,000 x 0.8 = 15,200 MW

Wind: 9,000 x 0.4 = 3,600 MW

Solar: 7,000 x 0.15 = 1,050 MW

So our new gas capacity is around 15,200 MW while new renewables are just 4,650 MW, which is 31% or less than a third as much actual generating capacity.

Put another way, America increased its fossil fuel generating capacity by three times as much as it did for renewables. Clearly renewables are falling behind fossil fuels, and by a lot.

Nor is 2018 unique. Looking at the six years 2013 thru 2018, in every case the actual generating capacity (including CF) added for gas fired generation has exceeded that for wind plus solar. Renewables never gain ground over fossil fueled power, they always lose it.

Then there are grid scale battery systems, which are supposed to someday provide our juice when the intermittent renewables do not do so. Total capacity added in 2018 was around 200 MW, or basically nothing. Same for the prior years.

At this point batteries are just a specialized tiny contrivance used to maintain grid stability. Ironically this need has arisen because of the unpredictably erratic nature of wind and solar generation. As actual power supply systems, batteries do not yet exist, and may never exist because they are very expensive.

America is not moving toward wind and solar for power generation; we are actually moving away from renewables. You would never know this listening to the press and the politicians.

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J Mac
December 28, 2020 6:12 pm

David Wojick,
It’s hard to argue with the clearly stated facts you illustrated. But I’m sure the usual suspects will try!

Randy Stubbings
Reply to  J Mac
December 29, 2020 8:02 am

The problem with many of these calculations is that they use annual average capacity factors. In northern latitudes, solar panels produce much more energy in the summer than in the winter. Solar output in southern Saskatchewan Canada in July rivals that in Arizona, but that’s not the case in December. To supply a load exclusively with solar and backup batteries, you need an installed solar capacity of about six times the peak load, and you still end up with an energy shortfall over the period from October to March. That shortfall requires about four months’ worth of storage because you do get some solar energy over the winter so don’t need six months’ worth. These numbers depend on the load shape and solar facility parameters, but the idea that we need only a few days’ energy storage for nighttime and a few cloudy days produces a gross underestimate of solar and storage capacity requirements. The last time I did the calculation using current prices, my 1900 square foot home would have required about US$250,000 in solar and batteries, and that’s assuming I’m not forced to rip out my natural gas furnace and replace it with electric heating.

Reply to  J Mac
December 29, 2020 8:29 am

But but but….geothermal…..geothermal is what made the islands….one big geothermal station under the volcano could power all the islands….what a waste!

William Astley
Reply to  J Mac
December 29, 2020 2:12 pm

David,

There is a simpler argument show why sun and wind gathering will not work to get to even 50% CO2 reduction.

In the UK the energy content of natural gas used is five times the energy content of the electrical grid.

The logical flaw of wind and sun gathering is hidden because the analysis the electrical grid with the thought that if only every country could generate electricity CO2 free.

When a country must increase the output of the electric grid there must be wind farms constructed and solar farms constructed and more natural gas power plants.

When it is no longer possible to do the Germany cheat where wind power is exported to France and bought back when it is required from nuclear. That scam is limited.

Sun and wind gathering in Germany is only 20% effective (total grid nameplate vs year average power output).

But let’s say it was even 40% effective. Anytime the electrical grid output must increase,

There needs to be new gas power plants constructed to backup all of the incremental wind power and that gas power system, must run 60% of the time.

And combined cycle natural gas power plants that are 60% efficient but cannot be turned on/off/on/off (they take about 15 hours to startup) cannot be used (as they are twice as expensive and only make sense if they run almost 24/7).

So what be installed, is the less efficient, single cycle natural gas power plants, that are only 40% efficient.

So what I have shown above indicates sun and wind gathering will never work to reduce total CO2 emissions in a country, for basic engineering reasons.

nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 6:31 pm

Growth in actual electricity produced in 2019 over 2018 was 7% for gas, 10% for wind, and 15% for solar. Solar and wind continue to increase their net share of total electricity produced, as they have done for the last 10 years. While starting from a very low base, at this point continued growth at a similar pace will make them the dominant sources of power by 2030’s.

Davidf
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 6:59 pm

So, applied to the capacity factored figures above, Gas grew 1060 MW, Wind 360 MW, solar 158Mw.
In what way are renewables gaining ground?

Davidf
Reply to  Davidf
December 28, 2020 7:14 pm

Its like taking Statins – relative versus absolute statistics are important, and the side effects can be a worry!

Felix
Reply to  Davidf
December 29, 2020 7:42 am

It can be measured as percentage growth. Suppose those figures doubled wind and solar but only added 10% to gas.

Two different ways of measuring the same thing.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 7:20 pm

Coal was the sacrificial lamb for the growth of wind and solar. That will go to zero before wind and solar overtake gas and hydro.

PS: we will also need to build even MORE gas, as reliable “backup” for solar/wind; that’s how the systems actually run – and you can see that if you look at the real electrical generation/usage map at http://www.electricitymap.org/map

David Wojick
Reply to  Shanghai Dan
December 29, 2020 8:26 am

Gas replaced coal, not wind and solar. The war on coal was won around 2000 when we had a generation building boom, adding a whopping 200,000 MW of gas fired capacity and zero coal. Shutting down a lot of old coal was part of the plan.

Also, coal is by no means gone. At the peak we burned a billion tons a year, but we still burn 600,000 tons, which is a lot of coal.

Amusingly we still generate more juice from wood than solar.

MarkW
Reply to  David Wojick
December 29, 2020 10:48 am

Ironically, the war on fracking will end up forcing the power industry to switch back to coal.

Jeff Labute
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 7:32 pm

Gas
2017: 4,018 kWh/capita (32% of total)
2018: 4,534 kWh/capita, 11% increase (35.11% of total)
2019: 4,861 kWh/capita, 7% increase (38.38% of total)
Wind
2017: 781 kWh/capita (6.22% of total)
2018: 834 kWh/capita, 6.4% increase (6.46% of total)
2019: 914 kWh/capita, 8.8% increase (7.22% of total)
Solar
2017: 237 kWh/capita (1.3% of total)
2018: 285 kWh/capita, 17% increase (1.51% of total)
2019: 327 kWh/capita, 13% increase (1.74% of total)

It’ll be well beyond the 2030’s for wind + solar to dominate if even possible. Other forms of renewables are shrinking. Gas is a cleaner, more reliable replacement to coal which makes sense. Solar is barely increasing it’s share as is wind which has increased by 1% from 2017 to 2019. Plenty of time to find better nuclear solutions… at which time wind and solar will be mostly placed on to the junk pile.

Willem post
Reply to  Jeff Labute
December 28, 2020 8:40 pm

Jeff,
Your summary is the correct way to display the numbers.

Both, weather-dependent, season-dependent wind and solar are EXPENSIVE peanuts compared to steady, low-cost, low-CO2, 24/7/365, INEXPENSIVE gas.

As wind/solar get larger, more and more expensive counteracting by gas plants will be required to deal with the wind/solar variations, 24/7/365.

fred250
Reply to  Willem post
December 28, 2020 9:50 pm

“24/7/365”

umm….. 24/365 or 24/7/52.14

😉

willem post
Reply to  fred250
December 29, 2020 7:53 am

Fred,
I spent some time as an energy systems analyst in the Utility Sector, like about 4 decades.

24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year is commonly abbreviated as 24/7/365

fred250
Reply to  willem post
December 29, 2020 10:53 am

Counting the days twice.

Yes, often “commonly used” terminology is not necessarily the correct terminology.

Take the terminology “greenhouse gas” used when they actually mean “radiatively active gas”

PC_Bob
Reply to  fred250
December 29, 2020 4:40 pm

Maybe this will help, Fred! 24 hours (a day) TIMES 365(days) meaning EVERY day for a YEAR! Every one ELSW knew what Willem was talking about!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 7:55 pm

nayyer ali, wrote “continued growth at a similar pace will….”

Apparently you have never heard of

  1. low hanging fruit.
  2. Law of diminishing returns
  3. Reality versus fantasy.
Mr.
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 8:16 pm

Geez Ali, haven’t you made the effort yet to comprehend the many, many analyses that conclude that wind + solar cannot EVER provide the grid scale electricity required by modern economies?

dh-mtl
Reply to  Mr.
December 28, 2020 8:55 pm

‘many analyses that conclude that wind + solar cannot EVER provide the grid scale electricity required by modern economies?’

That is why the climate alarmists are trying to regress our economies back to medieval economies!

Notanacademic
Reply to  dh-mtl
December 29, 2020 5:10 am

Quite right, also just imagine after the great reset how happy we will be not owning a car. Imagine how decadent your going to look, and how jealous your neighbors will be when your brand new donkey is delivered.

dave
Reply to  Notanacademic
December 30, 2020 8:43 am

And it will be delivered by a donkey-pulled cart!

commieBob
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 8:20 pm

… at this point continued growth at a similar pace will make them the dominant sources of power by 2030’s.

Wind has an amazingly good EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Invested) unless you care about when you get electricity. Massive injections of wind electricity into the grid drive down prices to the point where they have to pay people to take the electricity. So, wind produces very cheap electricity.

Power suppliers using fossil fuels and nuclear and hydro can’t make money unless the wind doesn’t blow. That could cause many to leave the business or not invest when their assets wear out. It’s a recipe for blackouts, brown outs and very very expensive electricity. It has the potential to destroy the economy.

Millions of people died because Marxists are very bad managers. The same could happen to us because greenies are also very bad managers.

The only way wind and solar will become the dominant sources of power is because of bad management.

MarkW
Reply to  commieBob
December 29, 2020 10:51 am

Millions of people died because Marxists are very bad managers. The same could happen to us because greenies are also very bad managers.

That’s partly due to the fact that many greenies are also Marxists.

Sommer
Reply to  commieBob
December 29, 2020 3:43 pm

Why aren’t more people speaking out about foreign ownership of prime farmland for wind farms? Such decisions are examples of “bad management”.
https://www.npr.org/2019/05/27/723501793/american-soil-is-increasingly-foreign-owned

“Ohio, like Texas, also has no restrictions, and nearly half a million acres of prime farmland are held by foreign-owned entities. In the northwestern corner of the state, below Toledo, companies from the Netherlands alone have purchased 64,000 acres for wind farms.”

Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 11:40 pm

nayyer ali, the electrical grid has almost no storage capability, so electricity must be generated as it is used. Electricity generated on demand is valuable. Electricity generated when it isn’t needed is valueless, or worse.

Wind and solar generate power intermittently, when the wind blows or the sun shines, without regard to whether it is needed.

Fossil fuels generate power when it is needed, which means that power generated by fossil fuels is much more valuable than power generated by wind and solar.

Even in Hawaii, where wind is exceptionally strong and reliable, and where they burn oil to make electricity, so it is extraordinarily expensive, wind energy nevertheless still is not competitive, and solar is even worse.

Here’s a photo of what’s left of the Kamaoa Wind Farm. Despite near-ideal wind conditions, and Hawaii’s extremely high electricity prices, they still couldn’t make enough money to pay the maintenance bills:
comment image

The more wind and solar power generation is added to the grid, the worse the intermittency problem becomes. That means that, as you add wind and solar capacity, its value decreases. The more you add, the worse the economics become.

That’s why countries which are heavily invested in wind and solar have soaring electricity prices.

Electricity prices in the countries which “lead” the drive for renewables are now several times prices in countries which haven’t made that mistake, or have made it on a much smaller scale. That comes with a high human cost.

“Poverty is a death sentence.”

The anonymous Climategate whistleblower

Thousands of Europeans are dying each winter, due to “fuel poverty,” because their countries’ “investments” in wind and solar energy have made energy costs so high that they cannot keep their homes heated in the winter.

mike moran
Reply to  Dave Burton
December 29, 2020 4:36 am

Hawaii is one of few places where wind may make sense. Basically it may be better/cheaper to have dual systems then have to use oil as primary choice because oil is a costly choice (and that is current alternative). Of course coal would be much cheaper, and for some Islands, a LNG plant.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  mike moran
December 29, 2020 6:29 am

“Hawaii is one of few places where wind may make sense.”

It makes no sense to me at all to despoil the beauty of Hawaii with windmills and solar farms. Or any other landscape across the world.

Especially when there is no evidence any of this is needed, because CO2 is a benign gas that threatens noone and nothing. Those who disagree are invited to weigh in with evidence to the contrary.

commieBob
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 29, 2020 10:26 am

Given the opposition to the Mauna Kea observatories, I’m surprised they’re considering windmills.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Dave Burton
December 30, 2020 2:51 pm

Dave:

That’s an old photo. After it was completely replaced by the new Pakini Nui wind farm a short distance away, the towers at Kamaoa were left standing for a couple of years, but I think they removed the turbine blades. Last time I went by there in 2017 or 2018 the towers were down, piled up inside the fence and left to rust because the scrap steel isn’t worth the cost to transport it.

IIRC, Kamaoa wind farm entered service in 1987 and after some years output declined due to various failures. It was sold to a new operator who kept some turbines going by cannibalizing others. It was shutdown completely in 2006; the new Pakini Nui wind farm nearby entered service in April 2007.

I have never been able to get historical data on Hawaii wind farm production, so I don’t know how long Kamaoa was in operation before turbines started malfunctioning. The fact they were mostly dead less than 20 years after entering service is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the durability of these installations.

South Point has very reliable winds when the trade winds are blowing, but proximity to the ocean probably contributes to a shorter lifespan.

Ferdinand Engelbeen
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
December 31, 2020 10:53 am

Even in the wind champions country, Denmark, the first generation windturbines didn’t survive more than 17.5 years of service in average.
The main problem: the bearings of the rotor which has to endure the enormous forces from the wind on the blades, especially if there is some unbalance due to turbulence from the landscape, the wind itself or nearby windturbines.
The latest wind turbines are much higher than the first generation, thus even more force on the bearings… 20 years service seems not reachable to me…

Reply to  nayyer ali
December 28, 2020 11:53 pm

Of course What you haven’t mentioned is the amount of fossil energy burnt to produce, install, hook up, and maintain those windmills and solar panels.

Statistics on electricity production have no correlation whatsoever with carbon reductions. The only meaningful statistics are in terms of overall global emissions tracked with renewable energy.
Well in the case of e.g. Germany we find according to the Shell energy review that Germany is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide per country, per capita and per MWh generated of all the European nations. It also has the most renewable energy in terms of windmills and solar panels. And is among the most expensive countries to buy electricity. Unless you are an industrial user, when its subsidised.

The fact that climate alarmists actually believe that more renewables = less CO₂ is kinda cute really. Bless their pointy little tinfoil hatted heads.

And what is even cuter, is that they think oil and gas money is behind climate scepticism when the Green movement is making the only fuel of choice, gas! Since both coal and nuclear are subject to intense demonisation by the Greens.

The Green Blob is run by oil and gas. At arms length.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 29, 2020 6:33 am

“Well in the case of e.g. Germany we find according to the Shell energy review that Germany is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide per country, per capita and per MWh generated of all the European nations. It also has the most renewable energy in terms of windmills and solar panels. And is among the most expensive countries to buy electricity. Unless you are an industrial user, when its subsidised.”

You’re going to make Griff cry, saying things like that about one of his favorite “renewable” energy projects!

It’s all true, Griff. Sorry about that.

Iain Reid
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 12:43 am

Mr Ali,

those numbers do not give an accurate reflection. I assume that America is the same as the U.K., renewable sell all they can at all times, it makes them more money. Gas is what balances demand and supply so varies it’s output (And is a contributory factor in a lower availability than would otherwise be the case. When push comes to shove, gas can provide near 100% when required).

This last year has seen a drop in demand due to Covid and so there will be less gas generated power over that period, it’s not that renewables are moving forward, it’s just a factor of demand.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 2:55 am

Are you a politician? You have just demonstrated how to lie with statistics.

David Wojick
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 8:20 am

At the present rate of construction you will not have enough generating capacity to be the dominant source by 2030. Say 5,000 MW per year that gives just 50,000 MW more by 2030. The US peaks around 500,000 MW.

MarkW
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 10:47 am

That’s growth in nameplate. As the article shows, actual power produced is only a tiny percentage of nameplate power.
Another factor is that wind and solar are being installed in the best locations first. Once those are filled up, newer installations will be in less and less desirable locations which means that the actual power will be an even smaller fraction of nameplate power.

Also, what is driving the growth in wind and solar are massive subsidies. As the number of wind and solar installations increase, so do the cost of the subsidies.
At some point, the subsidies become unaffordable and have to be cut back. When that happens, the growth in wind and solar plummets.

Last edited 6 months ago by MarkW
DipChip
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 4:59 pm

7% of a million is considerably more than 100% of a thousand. Follow that?

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  nayyer ali
December 29, 2020 8:17 pm

Yesterday I was single. Today I got married. At this pace I’ll have 365 wives in a year. Math sophistry is the best kind of sophistry.

yarpos
December 28, 2020 6:47 pm

While the alarmists will always let the perfect solution (in their eyes) get in the way of a good solution, reality will eventually prevail. It will be interesting to see what kind of alternate reality alamists can concoct to deal with it. The state of the UK power grid overlayed mandating EVs is another mess heading for the reality wall.

Reply to  yarpos
December 28, 2020 7:03 pm

Oddly, it is happening in a poorly governed country.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  yarpos
December 29, 2020 6:40 am

“The state of the UK power grid overlayed mandating EVs is another mess heading for the reality wall.”

That reality wall is going to be hitting in a lot of places before too long. A lot of people are in for a rude awakening. Right, California?

December 28, 2020 7:00 pm

Common sense prevails.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Fred
December 28, 2020 7:46 pm

Reality prevails. Magical unicorns and all the wishing in the world won’t make up for failures to anticipate reality.

Blackouts happen when demand exceeds supply on any electrical grid. The blackouts may be systematically “managed” or they may be uncontrolled and widespread depending on the the foresight of the grid operator.
California experienced it this past summer. It WILL continue to happen there as the Libtards continue to shutter nat gas fired generation in pursuit of their virtue-signaling emission reduction targets.

John Sandhofner
December 28, 2020 7:39 pm

To add more insight into how the low CF is problem, consider the fact that if they ever perfected the use of batteries, enough wind and solar systems would need to be installed well above the daily MW demand to charge those batteries. So a low CF will only mean an exceedingly high installed capacity is needed (at least around 300% if your combined CF is 31%) to meet the daily demand and charge the batteries. No. This blind pursuit of 100% dependence on alternative energy is beyond criminal behavior. People should be pulled into court and sent to jail for attempting to foist on the general public such an obvious unscientific scheme.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Sandhofner
December 28, 2020 8:12 pm

They should be tarred then feathered and then put on rail and laughed out of town.

Reply to  John Sandhofner
December 29, 2020 12:16 am

Given access to enough storage capacity, the actual wind or solar or wind and solar average production has to meet the average demand. The devil is in the detail of ‘given enough storage capacity’ . In reality the longest amount of time that renewable output is below demand, times the amount by which it is below, gives you a figure for worst case storage needs, assuming your storage started full…In reality it’s more complex as it doesn’t always..and you might want to cater for a one in a thousand year event, just in case.

My website was set up in part to gather real, or nearly real, time information on wind , and later solar, power, to gain some kind of insight into what the above requirement might actually mean.

I havent, because I am old, tired and grumpy, run the sums to see what sort of storage and renewables could replace the gas nuclear and coal. It wouldnt be a hard program to write inefficciently. Just start by increasing renewables until the average output met the average demand, and then step through the year until you ran out of storage, increase the storage and try again…

If someone donated enough, I might even write it…;-)

Editor
Reply to  John Sandhofner
December 29, 2020 1:11 pm

Gas can go for as long as there’s a supply of gas. Batteries can go for as long as they can be re-charged from the grid. In other words, when batteries are the only grid back-up there’s a limited time before total blackout. Not good for consumers.

Lance Wallace
December 28, 2020 7:58 pm

Not a complete summary. Was gas just replacing coal? Then the fossil fuel increase of these two is zero. You need to add in all the fossil fuel increase vs, all the renewable increase. for the last 6 years also.

Not being pugnacious. I would really like to know.

Doc Chuck
December 28, 2020 8:02 pm

I don’t know about the this phrase, “unpredictably erratic nature of wind and solar generation” in light of their regularly becalmed output insufficiencies as well as certainly predictable nocturnal down times and the preposterous ‘renewable’ designation for such hulking, finely engineered, apparatus that doesn’t grow on trees, don’t you know.

markl
December 28, 2020 8:24 pm

The public is sold “nameplate” not reality. California is notorious for citing nameplate instead of actual generation. Then when California quotes actual they don’t cite dispatchable power. Nothing more than propaganda.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  markl
December 28, 2020 9:12 pm

Yes, there is a new 560mw solar site being planned in AB
I like to point out that based on AESO solar stats for AB it is actually only 100mw

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
December 28, 2020 11:59 pm

Please don’t confuse MegaWatts for milliWatts. a 560mW solar panel is about the size of a postage stamp…

Last edited 6 months ago by Leo Smith
Drake
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 29, 2020 4:54 pm

OK so a 100 w panel at Home Depot is 40.16 in by 26.37 inches. Not knowing the actual exposed surface but lets say 1000 sq. in. That would be 10 sq. in. per watt. 560 mw being .56 watts, thus + -5 sq. in. So MUCH bigger than a postage stamp. Just doing the math to help all understand how BIG solar panels need to be to get any meaningful output when thinking of grid scale power. If a surface area of 2 postage stamps produced 1 watt, panels would be roughly 1/6th the size for the same output, 6 times the output for the same resources expended would be much better for a home off the grid system, but still crap for an electrical power grid.

Of course one should not confuse 1/1000, milli with X 1000 mega., off by a bunch. But confusing a lower case m for upper case M, probably a minor brain f@rt. Something I would and have done.

Pat from kerbob
December 28, 2020 9:11 pm

I think wind and solar are pushed to make gas indispensable
If coal goes that just means more gas generation
Probably a good thing
Can always switch back to coal in future as needed

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
December 29, 2020 12:03 am

Not if the mines end up full of water. Whatever coal might or might not be left in UK deep mines is beyond uneconomic.

I believe the USA has a similar situation with respect to its old rare earth mines: Whatever the strategic merits of local production there’s 2 years of pumping before it can restart,…

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 29, 2020 6:05 am

According to Euracoal the UK has identified hard coal resources of 3910million tonnes although total resources could be as large as 187 billion tonnes.

There are also 1000million tonnes of lignite, mainly in N Ireland

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dave Andrews
December 29, 2020 6:47 am

That ought to keep the UK going for a while. 🙂

Unfortunately, the UK has the coal resources, but they don’t have politicians with enough brains to use these resources.

December 28, 2020 11:38 pm

And yet people think I am senile when I say that if Exxon knew anything, it was that irresepective of the validity of ‘climate science’, intermittent renewables were utter pants, and would increase their profits if deployed.

Which is why all the oil companies fully support renewables and climate change. Why not? Free subsidy cash, and the value of gas goes up!

The real competitors – coal and nuclear – are somehow demonized though. How odd. Almost as though Big Oil and Big Gas were behind it all…

griff
December 29, 2020 12:28 am

This takes a 2018 cut off point: taking things thru to December 2020 shows a different picture.

and coal? What about coal? don’t we see coal losing to both gas and renewables??

Meab
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2020 9:27 am

I don’t know for sure, griff, but I strongly suspect that you’re lying. Why? Because you have a habit of lying and there is no complete data from a reliable source that takes us to December, 2020. Prove me wrong, griff.

fred250
Reply to  Meab
December 29, 2020 11:14 am

In the USA, coal is being replaced with gas

In China, just their NEW, being build, COAL fired is FIVE TIMES their total wind and solar aim by 2030.

So no, Coal is not losing out to anything in China.

In places like UK and Germany.. Coal loses out to STUPIDITY !

fred250
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2020 11:11 am

“don’t we see coal losing to both gas and renewables”

Only in dopey western countries that have fallen for the CO2 -hatred scam and are decimating their ability to provide RELIABLE electricity.

China is MORE that making up for it building HUNDREDS of new coal fired power stations at home and abroad.

So DON’T PANIC, griff-worm.

….. there will be PLENTY of global CO2, increasing emissions well into the future.

And there is NOTHING your pathetic shnivelling can do about it. 🙂

Editor
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2020 12:35 pm

You didn’t read this in the article:

The last year we have comprehensive construction data for is 2018, from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This was a good year to use because there was a bit of a race on to build renewables before the subsidies stopped, which they were then scheduled to do. (Unfortunately, due to the Lame Ducks this is no longer true.)

You could have backed up your statement by adding the alleged missing data, but you are either a lazy ass or a liar, which is why it never happened.

Lrp
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2020 1:16 pm

No; Germany has 40 operating coal power plants with Datteln 4 opened in 2020

Steve Case
December 29, 2020 2:42 am

America is not moving toward wind and solar for power generation; we are actually moving away from renewables. You would never know this listening to the press and the politicians.

There are a lot of things you would never know listening to the press and the politicians. Indeed, much of what the press tells us isn’t true.

Our media is no longer holding the enemies of truth and freedom to account. Instead, it’s acting as their mouthpiece. James Delingpole

ResourceGuy
December 29, 2020 5:50 am

I’m just glad David is not in charge of trade policy with this absolutist, winner take all protectionist slant. The decline and retirement of coal fired power by regulatory mandate is creating high growth in new investment for NG and renewables. And it’s true that the renewable space is littered with high cost players with lobbyists hyping green jobs etc. while mining tax credits. The ideal energy policy mix that we never seem to get to is one that rewards best-of-breed, lowest cost renewables alongside NG and coal. The Obama policy was basically a headlong rush to deploy an advocacy designed plan with sprinkles of political fraudsters in the group and taxpayers as the designated suckers. Lowest LCOE additions without subsidy should be the guiding policy design and NG will always carry some cost component for commodity price risk. Get over it.

Tom Abbott
December 29, 2020 6:20 am

From the article: “What is amusing is that gas-fired power generation, a fossil fuel with no subsidy, is still growing faster than wind and solar. Far from taking over, wind and solar are actually losing ground to fossil fuels in the American power capacity mix.”

I just read an opinion piece that claimed that solar and wind were now much cheaper than fossil fuels. I assumed the author of the opinion piece did not take into account the cost of federal and state subsidies to wind and solar.

If the subsidies are removed, then solar and wind cannot compete with fossil fuels.

Let’s try an experiment. Let’s stop all subsidies to solar and wind and see how long they last.

The State of Oklahoma stopped all subsidies for future “renewables” about a year ago because the legislators said, to continue to subsidze “renewables” would bankrupt the state.

Barnes Moore
December 29, 2020 7:24 am

Curious if anyone read and has comments on this article from the WSJ. To me, it looks like it could be a viable truly renewable source for methane, I just have no idea of what the costs would actually be, and how much much energy we could get if we were able to harvest a large percentage of it. Companies Seek to Green the Grid With Trash Gas – WSJ

Any thoughts?

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Barnes Moore
December 29, 2020 9:52 am

Landfill gas production is not new. What is new is the lining up for subsidies and grants to more players and farms to connect with pipelines etc in the grab for cash rush of a new administration and checkoff for support of the ag sector.

Barnes Moore
Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 29, 2020 9:59 am

Thanks for the reply. The article suggests a lot of what you said. I guess the question is, is it truly viable without the subsidies or is it only viable with them? It is actually closer to a true renewable resource, unlike wind and solar which IMO are complete boondoggles and a complete waste of money and other resources.

JohnTyler
December 29, 2020 7:43 am

“America is not moving toward wind and solar for power generation; we are actually moving away from renewables. You would never know this listening to the press and the politicians.”

You are underestimating the resolve of leftist enviro wacko ideologues (think AOC, Sanders, Biden, demokrats in general, etc. )
They mean to totally replace the use of all fossil fuels with wind and solar, come hell or high water. If this means electric and gas costs to consumers sky rocket, so be it. If this means brown outs in the summer and having your home thermostat at 55 F in the winter time, so be it.

Ideologues care only about one thing; imposing their agenda upon the “unwashed masses.” The do not care about the hardships or suffering their policies will cause.

It it absolutely astounding that reasonable thinking folks still are blind to the motives and truly evil intentions of leftists.

John F Hultquist
December 29, 2020 11:25 am

David wrote: about electricity generating facilities – – –
“<em> … need a certain amount of downtime for maintenance.</em>”

I learned this concept as a child because my father worked at a glass factory. Shutdowns are carefully planned for and arrangements are made for materials and workers to be ready for repair, replace, and upgrade activities. Coordination with others and pre-shutdown-production is stockpiled if needed.
This process unfolded last year at the (nuclear) Columbia Generating Station about 100 miles south of where we live.
“Refueling occurs every other year and is scheduled when springtime water conditions in the Columbia River Basin are typically high, allowing the federal hydropower dams to produce ample power.”

Unexpected shutdowns do occur, but that is the reason for building extra capacity or being part of a system with extra capacity. Note that the nuclear facility coordinates with the hydro folks. Elsewhere, that would have to be with non-hydro suppliers.

Drake
Reply to  John F Hultquist
December 29, 2020 5:06 pm

But if you used small modular reactors with highly enriched U you could run the reactors for 25 or more years without refueling, saving hughely on operating costs and
greatly increasing the time on line. Taking a plant offline every 2 years to refuel is ridiculous.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Drake
December 29, 2020 7:50 pm

A great idea. Get 10 up and running. Another 100 in the building stage.
And 1,000 financed and given all permits to install. Then they can start supporting each other, as they provide electricity to clients.

ResourceGuy
December 31, 2020 12:20 pm

This was predictable in this post and comments. Hey, let’s do it again in 2021 with another 5-7% cost drop in renewables and more gas with declining coal. But over 2-3 years the cost drop will be 25% with much greater acceleration in projects with low cost of capital.

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