California’s Zero Carbon Plans: Can Anybody Here Do Basic Arithmetic?

From The Manhattan Contrarian

Francis Menton

In California, as we all know, the inhabitants and their elected officials are far more sophisticated and virtuous than the rest of us rubes who inhabit the other parts of the country. This particularly goes for the arena of climate change, where California is leading the way to saving the planet by rapidly eliminating all of the carbon emissions coming from its electricity sector. California’s CO2 emissions are about 1% of the world annual total, and its electricity sector accounts for about 15% of those emissions, so we’re talking here about approximately 0.15% of world emissions — an amount whose elimination, as you can easily see, will rapidly transform the world’s climate.

In 2018 California enacted a law known as SB100, which mandates a 100% carbon-emissions-free electricity sector by 2045. But how to get from here to there? That question was finally answered in March of this year, when the California state agencies responsible for achieving the goal (California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and California Air Resources Board) issued a Joint Agency Report and accompanying Summary Document setting forth their Plans. The Plans can be accessed via this link.

The Plans show that the California regulators have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Perhaps I am wrong. I invite all readers to check me and see if I am missing something. But I don’t think so. Either these people do not understand the basic units used for these calculations, or they cannot do basic arithmetic, or both. In their projection of incremental costs, I think they are off by a factor of about 1000 or more.

The answer given in the Plans as to how to get to a zero emissions electricity sector is to build lots and lots of solar and wind power facilities. Obviously, those don’t work all the time, so to start with you need to build far more capacity than your peak usage. California’s peak power usage is currently about 40 GW, and that is projected to increase substantially as more of the economy gets electrified, for example automobiles. So the Plans call for the addition of some 97.6 GW of solar capacity and 22.6 GW of wind capacity by 2045, on top of 26.5 GW of those two currently existing. (The Plans also call for the addition of 0.1 GW of geothermal capacity, but that is a rounding error.). With the additions, California would have a total of some 146.7 GW of wind and solar capacity, which may be around triple peak usage after you account for incremental electrification of the economy by 2045.

But then solar and wind power are “intermittent,” meaning that they don’t necessarily deliver the power when you need it. What are we going to do about providing power on completely calm nights, when solar and wind deliver nothing? The California regulators have an answer for that here in the Plans, which is “storage.” And how much storage will we need? They give a very specific figure: 52.8 GW. Perhaps that may seem to make sense at first blush. If peak usage is around 50 GW by 2045, then 52.8 GW of storage may be just about enough, with a very small margin, to deliver power at a sufficient rate to satisfy demand when the solar and wind are completely dead.

And how much will all this cost? We’ll be replacing all the current fossil fuel generation with wind and solar facilities, plus adding enough storage to make it all work. Here’s the calculation:

Modeling results indicate that achieving 100 percent clean electricity will increase the total annual electricity system costs by nearly $4.6 billion by 2045. This is 6 percent more than the cost under the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard requirement of having at least 60 percent clean electricity by the end of 2030.

Basically, it’s chump change. After all, “modeling results” prove it.

But are we maybe missing something? Here’s a piece that I think is more than a little significant: All discussion in the Plans of storage needs and capacity is expressed in units of gigawatts (GW). Now, GW of capacity can certainly be relevant in this context, because assuring that power can be delivered from these massive batteries quickly enough to satisfy peak demand is definitely an important engineering challenge. But another whole subject is gigawatt hours (GWH); in other words, is the total amount of energy stored by the system sufficient to carry you through the longest possible period when demand will exceed supply? How about if there are entire seasons — like “winter” — when days are short, cloudiness is high, the wind has extended periods of calm, and batteries could be getting drawn down for weeks or even months on end? How much will you need in the way of GWH of storage capacity to support this entirely-wind-and-solar system; and how much will that cost?

There’s nothing about that subject that I can find in these Plans. Can you find it?

Back in 2018, a guy named Roger Andrews made just such a calculation, and published it at a website called Energy Matters. I covered the subject in a November 2018 post titled “How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity? — Part III.” Mr. Andrews used actual daily production data from existing California wind and solar facilities to project how much of such facilities would be needed to satisfy California’s total annual demand over the course of a full year; and then further used the same data to calculate daily surpluses and deficits, to figure out how much battery capacity, in GWH, would be needed to get through the longest period of low production. The most important lesson from Andrews’s work — which emerges from simply looking at the data for actual daily production from existing wind and solar facilities — is that production from these facilities is not just intermittent within a day or a week, but is also highly seasonal, with higher production in the Spring and Fall, and lower production most notably in the winter.

Here is Andrews’s chart showing production from existing wind and solar facilities, normalized to satisfy all demand over the course of a year, plotted against actual demand on a daily basis:

California electricity supply and demand.png

The large Spring surpluses and Winter deficits leap out at the eye. Andrews then calculated — and this is purely a matter of simple arithmetic — daily surpluses and deficits to figure out how much battery capacity California would need to carry it through a full year. Here are his charts showing that work:

California energy storage balance wind:solar system.png

The bottom line is that it would take about 25,000 GWH of stored energy to get through the full year. The batteries would get to that level around August, and get drawn down all the way through March. And of course, that’s at a peak usage of about 40 GW. Ramp that up to more like 50 GW peak usage, and you’ll need more like 32,000 GWH of storage.

So how much will that cost? In my November 2018 post, the answer for California was “around $5 trillion.” Let’s see if we can get a more up-to-date figure. According to this post at Electrek on April 1, 2021, Apple — in an effort to demonstrate its extreme corporate climate virtue — plans to construct a gigantic battery project to enable its corporate headquarters to run on just solar power. From Apple’s press release:

“Apple is constructing one of the largest battery projects in the country, California Flats — an industry-leading, grid-scale energy storage project capable of storing 240 megawatt-hours of energy, enough to power over 7,000 homes for one day. This project supports the company’s 130-megawatt solar farm that provides all of its renewable energy in California, by storing excess energy generated during the day and deploying it when it is most needed.”

The batteries are being supplied by Tesla. Based on pricing data from Tesla, indicating cost of such batteries in the range of $200 – $300 per kilowatt hour, Electrek calculates Apple’s cost for the 240 MWH of battery capacity as about $50 million. So what then would be the cost for 32,000 gigawatt hours worth of these batteries? You do the math. If it helps, there are a million KWH in one GWH. I’m getting about $6.7 trillion.

$6.7 trillion is well more than double the annual GDP of California. Remember that the Plans of California’s joint agency task force said that the incremental costs of the all-wind-and-solar-plus-storage system were going to run around $4.6 billion. Could they really be off by a factor of well over 1000?

Meanwhile, California marches forward with big additions to its grid battery capacity, supposedly to balance the grid in light of additions of solar and wind power. But are the additions meaningful to that task, or remotely cost effective? Here is a post from RenewEconomy on April 5:

A recent report published by Bloomberg Green citing new BloombergNEF numbers revealed that the leading power analysts expect California to not only install 1.7GW worth of new battery storage in 2021, but another 1.4GW in 2022 followed by 1.2GW in 2023.

Always GW, never GWH. Trying to get any useful information out of these people is almost impossible. I think they are all completely innumerate. Out of 40 million people in California, isn’t there a single person who can even ask a relevant question?

Read the full article at the source here.

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May 12, 2021 2:10 pm

Yes, California has the highest cost of electricity and Newsom is doing everything possible to further INCREASE electricity costs.

In addition, California’s almost 400,000 miles of roadways that are heavily dependent on road taxes from fuels that contribute more than $7 billion annually, the same tax base that also funds the environmental programs that will be diminishing in the decades ahead.

EV buyers are not yet aware that the “tax equalizer”, the “VMT” is coming. The Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) that has been discussed for years sounds like a logical idea – requiring the users of the highways to pay the fees to maintain those highways. The VMT tax will be needed to replace the $7 billion annually from fuel sales that will be diminishing in the decades ahead.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
May 12, 2021 2:46 pm

It won’t replace it – it will be in addition to it. California never cancels a tax.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 3:25 pm

So long as VMT is applied to electric cars and the gas/diesel tax is applied to ICE cars, there won’t be a need to cancel it.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 5:37 pm

No they’ll apply VMT to all cars just to punish ICE users and keep taxes low on electric cars to incentivize transition. You’ll see.

josh scandlen
Reply to  Ronald Stein
May 12, 2021 3:49 pm

I actually can’t wait for the VMT.Definitely want the EV drivers to pay their fair share.

Reply to  josh scandlen
May 12, 2021 6:42 pm

and it should be backdated for all the free miles used I bet a lot of EVs will disappear when the tax comes in

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ronald Stein
May 12, 2021 5:06 pm

Newsom plans on using some $40 billion “surplus” to send as direct payments to Cal families. He has that money because of the huge amount given to Californai by the COVID relief bill from March. He’ll probably promise to “give” $2,500 to Cal families and $1,250 to individuals only if he survives the recall to buy their 👍vote in his recall referendum.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
May 13, 2021 2:45 am

We have been suffering from a wind drought here in the UK for the past month, see:
With only brief intervals of wind.
As far as using battery backup is concerned there always seems to be to be an elephant in the room in that no-one brings up the question of recharging the batteries once they have been discharged.
In the case of the current situation in the UK the country would need to be covered with batteries, and we would need to double the number of windmills to be able to recharge the batteries when we have the wind.
The question arises as to what we do with surplus electricity?
We can either feather the blades on the windmills to stop generating unneeded electricity or sell it.
However prices will usually be rock bottom or even negative in the case of a surplus, so what is the point of spending billions to produce something no-one wants and/or has zero value?
It can only increase the cost of the electricity actually used.
At the moment Cal8fornia seems to be using fossil fuel backup from other states instead of batteries.
Hypocrisy comes to mind.

Eric Harpham
Reply to  StephenP
May 13, 2021 8:56 am

I did calculations for the UK based on Victoria’s, Australia, experience and the 10 day period last winter when there was practically no wind or solar produced electricity for 10 days and it showed that we needed £7.5 Trillion pounds worth of batteries that is 4 times the UK’s GDP.

Reply to  StephenP
May 14, 2021 6:00 pm

There is a slight, but important, nuance to that problem. The general idea is to look at historical outages, and design a battery backup that would accommodate the worst one, plus a small margin. Then you produce enough surplus green power to recharge the batteries. But how much time can you safely take to recharge the batteries? If it takes three weeks, and your next long outage is in just two weeks, you’re STILL screwed. If something is unreliable, more of it is still unreliable, only less so.

Tom Halla
May 12, 2021 2:15 pm

Only twice the Democratic People’s Republic of California’s gross domestic product?
I would have guessed higher(snark).
And remind the greens that batteries are not like semiconductors, so trying to invoke Moore’s Law is inappropriate as far as pricing and performance.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 12, 2021 3:26 pm

His calculations only covered the cost of the batteries themselves. By the time you finish building the complexes to house those batteries and build the interconnects to tie them to the grid, you are going to at least double that cost.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 6:10 pm

and how often will they need replacing

William Astley
Reply to  H B
May 13, 2021 8:12 am

Yes. The above analysis is too kind. Rose colored glasses. We need to speed up the analysis while our countries are still functioning. We are losing.

The battery systems have a lifetime of less than 20 years.

The battery systems and all of the green stuff, requires hydrocarbon energy to produce/build the batteries and battery storage buildings. The green schemes do not include/ignore (hide) the energy to build the green stuff and replace the green stuff.

Governments are not going to spend all of their GDP on battery systems because there will be a currency/economic collapse. Reality is reality. Fake news can only hide reality.

There is no ‘benefit’ to trying to get the US/California to zero emissions….. Even if CAGW was scientifically based.

What is the objective/benefit? A cooling planet? …. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions go to zero? China has all of the jobs? We have a currency collapse?

What is the most likely to happen first? We are running massive deficits now and the ‘plan’ is to spend to collapse.

The ‘plan’ to get to zero CO2 emissions has other impossible to solve problems.

Cambridge has written a report that outlines the impossible to solve problems to get to zero emission.

“The UK electrical grid power supply output would be required to INCREASE by a factor of THREE (with zero emissions) as all heating, manufacturing, and transportation, is going to be powered from electricity”

Here are some others.

Cement cannot be made and there is no solution.
There is no solution to how to power ships or airplanes.
There is no solution as to how to construct buildings or what is going to replace plastics.

There is no solution for how to mine with zero emissions or how to smelt steel. The solution is more recycling.

Green energy is a fable, an urban legend.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 10:10 pm

The fire safety aspect will be spectacular to see in itself. If I was designing it, I’d put the entire complex in a large concrete basin so it can be flooded in the event of a battery fire. I bet they do the opposite.

Peter Fraser
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
May 13, 2021 1:52 am

Perhaps a nuclear containment structure. I think water on a large li-ion conflagration may intensify the fire.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
May 13, 2021 2:36 am

Isn’t it the case that these battery fires can’t be put out with water? I think (wild guess) you have to flood the buildings with CO2! No irony intended. :-}

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 14, 2021 6:08 pm

The will still invoke Moore’s Law. I tried to point out the fallacy of using it when one green applied it to the output of solar panels. In very short order he was predicting more energy produced per square meter than the sun was providing. He said it was nothing that couldn’t be overcome.

Just embrace the warm feeling that the future will be very disappointing for them.

May 12, 2021 2:25 pm

Out of 40 million people in California, isn’t there a single person who can even ask a relevant question?”

Well, there’s me ! I’ve been asking the calculator-dodgers questions for years now. A calculator to them is like a silver cross to a vampire. Even the mention of a pencil and the back of an envelope makes our resident trolls and nitwits on here run and hide.

Ron Long
Reply to  philincalifornia
May 12, 2021 5:55 pm

philincalifornia, you don’t appear to be woke enough, talking about calculators and such. Two plus two equals whatever you want, because California and Oregon are eliminating racist math, you know, like those racist calculators.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 12, 2021 2:25 pm

You can find the executive leadership board members for the California Energy Commission here. I spot-checked a few with titles suggesting technical responsibilities to see how many had science/engineering backgrounds — some do, others don’t, and some don’t provide that information.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 12, 2021 6:28 pm

In diversity there is strength!

Reply to  hiskorr
May 14, 2021 6:13 pm

As strong as a bull! Unfortunately, with the same intellect, and only capable of producing the same output.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 13, 2021 11:19 am

There is one obvious solution, reduce demand. If one would read what the gov’ts, NGOs, and agencies are actually saying they are quite open about it. You simply won’t get the energy you want, therefore they don’t have to supply it.

Net zero means that you suffer and they enjoy. It all balances out.
You will NOT have your current lifestyle anymore. Read the Nemeth Report from the province of Alberta’s Allan inquiry, it lays it all out in their own words.

B Clarke
May 12, 2021 2:27 pm

Does anyone know what the size,how many, life, of these batteries are ? Are they going to be based on tesla car batteries? The life of the batteries is surely critical to the cost effectiveness of this project, if its all ready going to cost 6.7 trillion I’ve no doubt Mr mentons calculations are correct then the up keep alone is going to be prohibitive if the batts have a relative short life.

Reply to  B Clarke
May 12, 2021 2:48 pm

Is there any reason, other then the galmor factor, why the battery farms have to be Li? Relative to lead-acid batteries, is there an advantage in charge-dischare rate, or lifetime number of chareg-dishcarge cycles?

B Clarke
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 2:59 pm

Well I don’t know ,hence the questions, will li outperform lead acid ,lead acid was always rated in amp hours not watts the charging rate is governed by the battery voltage increasing = the charging current drops ,current charging, a well maintained lead acid battery would last for years, tesla batteries don’t have a long life i understand !

Rud Istvan
Reply to  B Clarke
May 12, 2021 3:17 pm

Yes. See my comment above for references. General answer is life is always far too short and size is always far too small, no matter the technology (LiIon, Sodium Sulfur, various flow battery chemistries). California is Dreaming.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 12, 2021 3:32 pm

Below, not above. WP funk.

B Clarke
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 12, 2021 3:41 pm

I got it,👍

Kevin kilty
May 12, 2021 2:39 pm

Yes, they could be off by a factor of 1,000 and I would almost guarantee they are. Beyond three zeros in a number their minds just swim.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 12, 2021 2:49 pm

1,000 here, 1,000 there, it begins to add up to real numbers.
(With apologies to former Senator Everett Dirksen)

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 13, 2021 8:58 am

Especially when your multiplying, not adding.

May 12, 2021 2:43 pm

More nonsense from Guardian and someone would be scientist Petr Pistoff from university in Czech Republic
“Climate emissions shrinking the stratosphere, scientists reveal” IOP link to pre-print is in the article.
First in April, ‘scientists’ showed that the climate crisis had shifted the Earth’s axis, now our beloved stratosphere is no more what use to be.
IOP link to pre-print in the article.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Vuk
May 12, 2021 10:06 pm

Thanks Vuk..
For the Climate Model I run inside my head, a shrinking Stratosphere Makes Perfect Sense

My Model:

  • Troposphere is opaque to Infra-red (due to water vapour)
  • Troposphere is also very low thermal conductivity and emissivity
  • Heat energy can thus only move inside the Troposphere via convection. i.e. Weather
  • Incoming solar energy must balance outgoing energy, which must be radiant energy as ‘space’ has zero conductivity and zero convection
  • The Stratosphere sorts that.
  • Because it is bone-dry, it is transparent to the infra-red radiating from the (very high emissivity) cloud tops = the Tropopause basically.
  • But, Stratosphere is only made of Oxygen & nitrogen, both are very low emissivity gases.
  • But but, because it is transparent, it radiates from its volume, not just ‘a surface’
  • In that way, the low emissivity gases can radiate a lot of energy while having both low temperature and low emissivity
  • But but but, those gases will behave as Ideal Gases – the volume of the Stratosphere will depend exquisitely sensitively upon its temperature
  • If it cools it will shrink and if it shrinks it will radiate less, by virtue both of its reduced volume and also its reducing temperature. i.e. It is a very sensitive thermostat, also possessing huge ‘power; because of its size

The Stratosphere is also thus = A Truly Global Averaging Thermometer – a thermometer that uses energy to calculate & record temperature, as all the proper ultra accurate thermometers ‘Gas Thermometers’ did.
Not rats-nest operational amplifier circuits.

Why is it shrinking, why is Earth cooling.
It is thermodynamic nonsense to say, as Climate Science does, that “The heat is trapped in the Troposphere”
Nonsense because that increases the thermal gradient between the troposphere and the Stratosphere – more heat energy will flow.
Even before a cooling Stratosphere steepens the gradient even more.

So why is Earth cooling – are you or anybody really gonna argue with the Stratosphere?
i.e. The largest, most sensitive and most accurate global thermometer that could ever be conceived?

Something is very very badly wrong with The Science

Why is that?
For the exact same reason that, classically, Arabian folks wear black robes in the searing heat of their desert habitat.
Some heat does radiate from Earth’s surface, especially places that are very dry.
And dark-coloured ‘things’ are very good radiators. The nomadic desert-dwelling Arabs are actually cooler inside flowing black robes than they’d be wrapped up in white robes.

Not Good is it?
We are turning Earth into a bone-dry desert ## and, surprisingly to many, deserts are very cold places. it’s dry because sea-level is rising.

Yes, that is Soil Erosion, something that also turns the insides of people’s heads into deserts.
No Joke

Just like Planet Mars.
And every time a weatherman pops up anywhere, claiming an errant Jet Stream is the cause of whatever meteorological woes there’s going on, there is your cooling Earth

## And a dark-coloured desert to boot – those dark colours are good radiators, THAT is where the heat is escaping.
Isn’t that crazy?
You thought the UHI ‘made it hot’
High temp yes. High energy no. The Stratosphere is the ultimate arbiter on that.

But primarily, from (arable) farmland, also burnt forest, is where the energy is being lost from
And it all stems from a complete bastardisation and misreading of the hapless Jozef Stefan and his ‘law’ – by people claiming to be ‘scientists’

crazy and surreal.
If it continues, genuinely, very very worrying

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Vuk
May 13, 2021 2:39 am

as long as that’s all that’s shrinking :-}

Reply to  Vuk
May 13, 2021 2:31 pm

Pistoff? Best name for the author of such an article

Serge Wright
May 12, 2021 2:44 pm

I think they have removed the GW/h deliberately to avoid having to provide this detail. When you consider the lifespan of the batteries is only 8-10 years, you also need to factor in the ongoing cost. Batteries installed this year would be ready for the tip by 2030. Of course this proposed solution is ready for the tip right now.

Reply to  Serge Wright
May 12, 2021 5:12 pm

“…ready for the tip by 2030”. The challenge is going to be where to “tip” them. It’s not clear that Li batteries are fully recyclable, and Lead-Acid requires smelting/reprocessing that will need to scale beyond what we know today. Are Californians ready to trade off a non-pollutant (CO2) for a true pollutant that will take untold acres of landfill? When are these dopes going to do a full lifecycle analysis instead of these hand waves?

Reply to  Serge Wright
May 14, 2021 1:39 am

Let’s get the units right.
GW/h (Giga-Watts _per_ hour) is meaningless.
It should be GWH (Giga-Watt hours).

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Stefanl
May 14, 2021 4:25 pm

Not quite meaningless. It’s a ramp rate – how fast electricity demand or supply is changing. How quickly does demand ramp up in the rush hour? How quickly can a power station increase its output (more usually measured in MW/minute)?

Reply to  Stefanl
May 18, 2021 2:48 am

Still slightly wrong – it’s “GWh” (“H” is the unit of inductance).

May 12, 2021 2:48 pm

Yeah but if people keep leaving California at the present rate until 2045, there won’t be such a huge need for GW hours.


Kenneth C Mitchell
May 12, 2021 2:52 pm

They will achieve the required power savings by driving productive citizens out of California, where they will no longer use electricity.

Reply to  Kenneth C Mitchell
May 12, 2021 3:13 pm

And those retirees who can afford to relocate. But the question is, where to move to?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 3:34 pm

Please, Californians, stay away from Florida. We have enough problems with people fleeing New York.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 12, 2021 11:20 pm


You are safe from us both – we can’t take the humidity, and we don’t eat dinner at 4PM.

bobby b
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 13, 2021 12:41 pm

Thurston Howell III accent, right?

Neil Jordan
May 12, 2021 3:04 pm

Per this paragraph:
“The bottom line is that it would take about 25,000 GWH of stored energy to get through the full year. The batteries would get to that level around August, and get drawn down all the way through March. And of course, that’s at a peak usage of about 40 GW. Ramp that up to more like 50 GW peak usage, and you’ll need more like 32,000 GWH of storage.”

Maybe I overlooked it, but it appears that the calculations will get us through one year, assuming fully-charged batteries at the beginning and dead flat batteries at the end. Where will the 25,000 GWH of new electricity to recharge the batteries come from? Other details are efficiency losses and routine battery replacement.

Reply to  Neil Jordan
May 12, 2021 4:06 pm

The red bits in the chart drain the batteries, the green bits recharge them.

Given the sort of variations you can get from year to year, I suggest that quite a large contingency is needed, probably 50% rock-bottom minimum. And with a 10yr max battery life that gives an upfront cost of well over $10tn plus annual costs over $1tn.

Rick C
Reply to  Neil Jordan
May 12, 2021 4:54 pm

Whatever the actual installed battery capacity is, it would have to be charged during periods when wind/solar output exceeds demand. Given that the capacity factor for wind/solar has been no better than about 40%, that means you’d need name plate output to be about 2.5 times average demand plus about that same amount in excess capacity to recharge grid scale batteries capable of meeting real demand for extended periods of poor wind/zero solar output. For example if you have one week’s worth of battery, you’d need a week of optimum wind/solar conditions to both recharge and meet demand.

What will really happen is that utilities will build unpublicized gas turbine emergency backup plants that will actually provide the bulk of their power.

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  Rick C
May 13, 2021 6:24 am

I think that’s right. You have a back up gas-fired combined cycle plant that is described as an emergency power source and then keep running it to balance the load. You’re drawing down a few batteries that are inadequate to carry the whole load, but people see a renewables-and-battery system and are convinced their energy is green without looking to see how much CO2 is still being emitted. As Michael Moore found out, pointing out the inconsistency isn’t a successful strategy.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Rick C
May 14, 2021 4:55 pm

The UK grid is quite similar in size at an average demand of about 35GW in normal times (though not seasonality) to the California one. Here’s a simple look at the trade off between flexible CCGT generation and wind granted grid priority. The CCGT is sized to meet peak demand: with no wind, it gets an average 61% utilisation. As wind capacity increases it replaces CCGT output until we reach the point where maximum wind output can exceed low demand e.g. overnight: then we start to see a surplus that must be curtailed or stored. The surplus builds quite rapidly from this point. Per the chart, by the time you’ve reached 50GW of wind capacity, effectively half the output of the marginal wind farm is surplus, which means that the cost of its useful power doubles. However, you are still needing to run CCGT (whether from methane or stored green hydrogen depending on how expensive your tastes are – green hydrogen costs about 10 times methane) for almost half the supply (about 27/61).

CCGT Wind Curtail tradeoff.png
Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Neil Jordan
May 12, 2021 9:41 pm

“To get through the full year”

Which brings to mind if anyone has considered the self-discharge rates of batteries. Even 1% per month for 32,000 GWH worth of batteries adds up to 320 GWH per month.

Glad to know that I’m not the only peeved by people using W when they W-hr, or equally as annoying using W-hr per hour when W would do.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
May 14, 2021 5:14 pm

The average storage level is rather less – half as a first approximation, so the loss is correspondingly smaller. What is also not immediately apparent is that there are very short term balancing additions and storage drawdowns to balance demand, and these mean that the total quantity of energy fed into the storage over the year is probably of the order of 3-4 times the maximum storage capacity drawdown. So now we are looking at effectively a sixth to an eighth of the impact you first thought of. It’s still there of course, but we are looking at a loss of ~160x12GWh= 1.92TWh on throughput of ~75-100TWh: the overall round trip loss is of the order of 20%(new batteries)-25%(older batteries), so it’s of the order of 10% of the losses.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Neil Jordan
May 14, 2021 4:42 pm

The chart shows the same level of charge at the start and end of the year, and the assumption implied is that one year is like the next, with periods of grid surplus and deficit. That’s far from the case in practice, as work I have done looking at 30+ year data shows. But Roger Andrews’ calculations certainly get us into the ballpark. If you want to avoid a blackout over 30 years, then you are probably looking at 35-40TWh of storage rather than 25TWh. Most of the extra will only be needed at one point lasting some months in the whole span, which makes it extremely expensive to provide for in batteries. Say 3 replacement battery systems over the period at $500/kWh means you should charge $1,500/kWh for the power in the bad times. If you get lucky, the extra isn’t needed at all, but you’ve still paid for it.

Efficiency is not too difficult to account for: the simplest methodology simply only adds the redeliverable amount of energy to the storage, effectively assuming that all round trip losses are incurred at the outset. More sophistication allows for self discharge losses that largely depend on time in storage (i.e. a small percentage loss per day), and the fact that there are losses on conversion back to electricity. However, storage capacity is usually quoted in redeliverable energy terms, so it becomes more a factor for the manufacturer: if battery inverters use 10% of the power then the battery must be big enough to hold the extra, but the customer buys a “100MWh” battery, not a 111MWh battery.

Michael in Dublin
May 12, 2021 3:06 pm

The same people who believe in Zero-carbon are the kind of people who want the decolonization of Math because Math is racist. When you read through their reasoning it is a huge load of smelly hogwash.

May 12, 2021 3:07 pm

Can Anybody Here Do Basic Arithmetic?

I believe the mantra is that math is both sexist and racist.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 3:13 pm

Recently, the Dean of Math at UCLA was reported to have said “There are right answers, their are wrong answers, and there are white answers.” He then went on to state that he was thinking of introducing different grading standard for different races/ethnicities/genders, etc.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 3:31 pm

Back when I was a kid, anyone who suggested that a minority student wasn’t as smart as a white student, would instantly be labeled a racist.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 4:55 pm

20 years ago the math and science colleges/department professors looked on with a mix of bewilderment and amusement at the Leftist liberal arts colleges and departments across the quads and campus incorporating this gender and race garbage-nonsense into their social study curriculum and degrading the grading standards and dismissal of testing requirements as a sign of merit and grades.

Now it has come for them. And it is eating them up.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 12, 2021 7:30 pm

It won’t take bosses long to figure out who’s degrees are worth the paper they are printed on, and who isn’t. They will find some way to game the system in order to hire the employees they want.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 14, 2021 6:25 pm

Would like to ask him if he thought nature would grade the bridges and buildings differently, depending on which races/ethnicities/genders, etc., designed them.

Rud Istvan
May 12, 2021 3:12 pm

CA regulators have been making a basic numeracy storage mistake for almost a decade now. They are electricity system ‘criminally grossly negligent’ (aka “knew, or should have known”) legally culpable idiots.They were already called out for this in 2014 essay California Dreaming in ebook Blowing Smoke. As this new post again points out, electricity storage must be measured in GWh, NOT GW. 40 GW of storage that lasts for one hour is useless on a still night, by about an order of magnitude.

And there is NO utility scale storage system that is both technically (lifetime) and economically feasible except pumped storage. And CAPUC defined storage to exclude pumped hydro back in 2013. This inconvenient fact includes Tesla LiIon Powerwalls, with a then newish (~2016 analysis posted at CE under Grid Solar) warranty of just 7 years. The post used Palo Alto to work out the disastrous economics even including CA and Palo Alto subsidies.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 12, 2021 5:20 pm

Why are we willing to tolerate bad math teaching? Innumeracy should be as shameful as illiteracy.

Curious George
Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2021 6:25 pm

Because math is inherently racist. Because prosperity is inherently racist.

Reply to  Curious George
May 12, 2021 7:39 pm

Yep. That’s the problem with the woke.

If you ask actual poor people, they think increasing their prosperity would be a very good idea.

The woke remind me of the Boy Scout who helped the little old lady across the street in spite of her protestations that she didn’t want to cross the street.

May 12, 2021 3:16 pm

They do indeed express battery requirements in GW (not GWH = GW-Hours). Strange indeed.

But I suspect it is done intentionally to hide how much storage capacity they will need — because they have NO FRICKIN’ IDEA how much they will need, and no idea how to cost it out, where to put it, etc.

But I also suspect they are betting on being able to REMOTELY (under government policy control) turn on/off any and all current and future EV charging stations — commercial and home-based — in the state if the solar + wind sources are not meeting higher priority electricity needs. And they will probably continue to build more and more wind+solar until they can meet all seasonal, technical maintenance and unexpected weather & disaster related capacity losses.

Conflicts over land-use planning, environmental and endangered species preservation (e.g., in deserts and the dry hill county), scenic ugliness, and the NIMBY-resistance will be the biggest problems for them.

I expect this scale of plan for “renewable energy” deployment will never happen in California, for those reasons. Environmentally-Conscious Republicans will kick-out the nutty-fruity-Democrats before this plan is even 20% implemented.

Reply to  ThinAir
May 12, 2021 4:10 pm

Very good point – a perfect storm is building: GreenProfiteers on one side, mining subsidies for wind, solar and carbon credits, and traditional tree-huggers, opposed to any development (especially covering vast areas with turbines and solar panels and the network of roads to support them) and especially the mining required to support it. Stock up on the popcorn.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  ThinAir
May 12, 2021 5:28 pm

But I suspect it is done intentionally to hide how much storage capacity they will need — because they have NO FRICKIN’ IDEA how much they will need, and no idea how to cost it out, where to put it, etc.

They should put it in Beverly Hills, right next to where all the idiots braying about how much we “need” to go down this path of lunacy live. This way, when the batteries have a short and start burning, it’ll take all those deluded fools with it, and then we won’t have to listen to them any more.

May 12, 2021 3:24 pm

Just to point out the obvious.

1) It can be assumed that the early wind and solar installations are going to put in the best locations. As the system is built out, it will be built on ever more marginal locations. These means that the total amount of wind and solar that is going to be needed is substantially larger than the figures you give.

2) When you calculated how much energy is needed to run California, I did not see anything that accounts for the energy that is going to be needed to charge up those batteries.

3) When you calculated the cost of the batteries, you just counted the cost of the batteries themselves. Batteries have to be put somewhere and they have to be connected to the grid. I strongly suspect that the actual cost of this battery backup is going to be at least double the amount you calculated.

4) If you are lucky, you might be able to get 15 years out of those batteries, so you are going to need to replace 1/15th of those batteries every year. If the total cost of the battery array is 6.7 trillion, then you are going to have an ongoing cost of about 450 billion, to replace the batteries that have worn out.

5) I have no idea how you are going to calculate the annual maintenance cost of that battery array. Electricians, mechanics, security etc. it all adds up.

6) I suspect the cost of the wind and solar generators was outside the scope of this article, but I strongly suspect that the batteries are going to be pocket change compared to them.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 5:47 pm

Yeah, I’m not sure if the efficiency of battery storage was even addressed, that would make it worse.

You can (try to) overbuild the solar/wind so that total annual generation is like 2x or 3x demand rather than 1x and then get by with less battery capacity.

The 1x example cited requires batteries capable of storing massive charge for months at a time.

If you overbuild to 2x you might get by with only storing enough charge to provide a week’s worth of power.

If you overbuild 3x you might get by with only storing enough charge to provide a day or two of supply. (This is possibly what the CA dimwits are thinking)

Reply to  menace
May 12, 2021 5:54 pm

Forgot to add…

Of course if you overbuild you are wasting power during long periods where you are overproducing and the batteries are all charged. But some other dimwit is saying like yeah but then we can just make a bunch of hydrogen when that happens. We’ll trade it to Elon for more battery credits to power his Mars ships.

Reply to  menace
May 13, 2021 8:56 am

There’s also the line losses of moving the power from where it is generated to where the batteries are, and then from the batteries to where ever the power is needed.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  menace
May 14, 2021 5:41 pm

I looked at this in a post I did for Energy Matters here:

You will see that the storage requirement only declines rather slowly relative to the wastage in curtailment. Roger Andrews also looked at the issue and reached similar conclusions here:

If storage is to work, it has to be much cheaper. Clearly batteries are a very expensive way to go: the only present technology that can be cheap enough is pumped storage, but that depends on having suitable locations to provide it. Green hydrogen is no solution, costing ~10 times methane.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2021 7:53 pm

When energy containers fail they frequently fail dramatically (think dam bursting or Tesla battery burning up).
The Hiroshima bomb was equal to about 16.7 GWH. If I have my math right, California is proposing to the equivalent of 1,497 Hiroshima bombs.
Whose back yard is that going in?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  MarkW
May 14, 2021 5:20 pm

Not necessarily true. What is true is that new locations will tend to be more costly. You can have a cheap onshore wind farm with a 20% capacity factor, or you can spend 3 times as much hooking up in the ocean for a 40% capacity factor. Result: the power is 50% more costly, even though you require less capacity for a given output.

Another alternative is that you mandate that wind farms get put wherever it is windy, and stuff the NIMBYs who may have succeeded in preventing them in their neighbourhoods so far.

Gary Pearse
May 12, 2021 3:24 pm

“Out of 40 million people in California, isn’t there a single person who can even ask a relevant question?”

I hope not. They’ve spent about 80 billion a year in constant dollars over at least three generations to ensure no one can even think of a question.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 12, 2021 3:39 pm

Best that climate crash test dummies like California cannot think at all. Otherwise, they might not volunteer as crash test dummies.

Curious George
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 12, 2021 6:33 pm

This is not how to govern California. Our esteemed Governor Gavin Newsom closes all restaurants, only to celebrate with his friends in a top-rated “French Laundry”.

You assume that zero carbon will be for everybody. Yes, except for the Elites. The Elites won’t be crash dummies.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Curious George
May 12, 2021 9:08 pm

Was that ‘buanderie’ ou ‘boulangerie’?

May 12, 2021 3:28 pm

I live in California (unfortunately) and I am finally fed up and trying to make my way out. I used to love this state, enough to fight for it, but it has become clear that I am fighting a battle I cannot win. I had hoped this recall election might move things in the right direction, but then in swoops Caitlyn Jenner.

Reply to  Michael
May 13, 2021 4:04 am

Hilariously, Caitlyn Jenner is now being attacked viciously by the Wokeists as “transphobic” for opposing the participation of “Transwomen” (Men in drag) in female sports.

May 12, 2021 3:32 pm

Before the wind and solar farms are completed they will be replacing the first units installed due to deterioration and wear. Realistically California will never have a working installed base of wind and solar farms considering it would take a minimum 30 years to complete the first pass ( being optimistic ) of panels and turbines and the turnover will be 10 to 15 years. 10 years on the fairy tail batteries. Now do the geometric progression on cost and it far exceeds 2X CA GDP.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  markl
May 12, 2021 5:31 pm

And I’m sure you’ve yet to include the time and cost of fighting all the “NIMBY” and enviro-nazi lawsuits before you CAN build all those panels and turbines.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
May 13, 2021 9:04 am

Wouldn’t surprise me if they exempted wind and solar from all of those regulations.

Len Werner
May 12, 2021 3:34 pm

Speaking of calculators–someone made the off-the-cuff non-serious suggestion to me the other day that Tesla drivers would have to carry a small generator in the trunk soon–especially when stuck for hours on a Texas freeway suffering from Climate Change whiteness. So I got to thinking–now what would that cost?

So I picked a typical small generator, one for which a Californian would have the remaining muscle left to lift into a trunk in 2030, and picked–maybe only because I had to just turn my head slightly over 90º in the basement here to get the model number correct–a Honda eu2000i.

I then looked up the continuous output statistics and fuel consumption–1600 watts continuous, 0.95 gallon (US) fuel tank, and 3.5 hours of run time per

Then looked up the typical charge requirement of a Tesla S–80 kwh. 80/1.6 = 50 hrs of Honda suitcase time. 50/3.5 = 14.3 tanksful. At 0.95 gal each = 13.6 gal.

Next, how far to people actually get on a charge in a Tesla these days–I live in Canada, so picked a winter area of use–Chicago (and because that’s the first one The Ducks responded with). That turned out to be 120 miles, twice that in summer.

Again with the calculator–120/13.6 = 8.8 mpg; twice that in summer is 17.6 mpg. My ’65 Thunderbird beats that, and would by a long shot if I ever took it out in winter.

So the Tesla works as long as somebody else’s cheap electricity is freely available; if you have to generate your own it’s going to look pretty dismal. It looks so bad that I hope somebody can point out where I made a mistake, because when electricity costs rise enough to pay for this foolishness somebody is going to be mad–if I’m right.

And then when they add the road tax…

Reply to  Len Werner
May 13, 2021 4:08 am

Wouldn’t be easier and simpler to connect the output shaft of the generator directly to the drivetrain of the car, and be done with the battery? You know, like a conventional car?

Reply to  Graemethecat
May 13, 2021 9:06 am

People who buy electrics are doing it for emotional reasons. They aren’t doing it to save the planet.

Len Werner
Reply to  MarkW
May 14, 2021 8:11 am

That’s one of the reasons I picked the Tesla, partly in response to the recent Texas Trap-Fry; the immediate analysis that nobody was driving seemed illogical. Was the position of bodies indicative of people trying to get out of the thing?

So I looked at the door design; it is incredibly complex. That made me think of marketing strategy–Tesla spent a LOT of time and money designing that door, and for zero reason associated with saving the planet or the ease of getting out of the contraption once it caught fire. So what was it designed for?

One possible answer is to appeal to very rich people, ones who like to show off wealth by possessing and displaying such a thing. Which led me to suppose that the Tesla might be aimed at the person with an unusually high carbon footprint that wishes to virtue-signal to the rest of us how concerned they are about our consumption, and simply feel a bit better about themselves while they rationalize away the impact of the rest of their lifestyle.

(OTOH I could be wrong; marketing is not my field.)

Nick Schroeder
May 12, 2021 3:40 pm

165 + 345 = 510
398 + 24 + 88 = 510
510 – 239.7 = 270.3 wandering the hallways.

Can Anybody Here Do Basic Arithmetic?
I’ll give that an apparently not.

Pres Atmos Balances.jpg
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
May 12, 2021 5:01 pm

Huh? At Surface 165 Net down from the Sun…..53Net IR Up, 24 Sensible Up, 88 Latent Up
53+24+88=165. Up balances down.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 12, 2021 6:24 pm

Nope. You foolishly used the fake averages, not the multiplicative uncertainties, embedded in this graph. Been there, done that, in ebook Blowing Smoke

Nick Schroeder
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 12, 2021 7:55 pm

No where on this graphic is the number 53.
What is on this graphic:
Entering the surface: 165 +345 = 510
Leaving the surface:345 + 24 + 88 = 510
OLR leaving ToA: 239.7
Lost in the ozone again: 270.3 and more than doubling the solar ASR.
Origin? S-B at 16 C.

josh scandlen
May 12, 2021 3:52 pm

wondering the actual size in square meter these farms are going to be. If wind generates, say 4 Watts per sq. meter and PV in CA about, say 70 Watts per sq. meter, over a 24 hour day, what is the land mass needed?

Anyone care to do the calcutions?

May 12, 2021 3:53 pm

This cost analysis is faulty because it assumes no liability costs for storing this much energy in close proximity to California’s huge population. And close proximity for DC power is what you need. Whenever you store huge amounts of energy that can be released at one time due to many different factors, you have built a huge bomb. Maintaining and protecting that bomb will be costly too, but no one ever talks about those costs.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Doonman
May 12, 2021 5:36 pm

Doubling down now on my “build it in Beverly Hills” idea – they’re the ones braying for it, let them reap what they have sown.

Reply to  Doonman
May 12, 2021 6:19 pm

Actually HVDC is more efficient than conventional AC for long distance transmission. But it is expensive to convert the HVDC back to AC.

The batteries won’t be like “bombs”. They don’t release energy fast enough to explode. Some of them may catch fire if defective but I assume they would be prudently configured to limit capital damage in such situations.

What is ignored blatantly is environmental damage of manufacturing and disposing of materials related to “green energy” (toxic lithium mining, cobalt mining, rare earth extraction, no practical way to recycle old PV panels or windmill blades, etc.) and associated costs to mitigate and recycle which would have to be further subsided (in reality if we can’t afford these future costs they’ll just be dumped into massive green waste landfills)

There is also human cost to consider, as all the risks are shifted to third world operations (e.g. Congo children digging “artisanal” mines, Mongolia mining wastelands) and nobody (on the “left” side of the issue) seems to care about poisoning poor people in faraway countries any more than they care about killing their formerly beloved raptors with windmills

Forrest Gardener
Reply to  Doonman
May 12, 2021 6:52 pm

Interesting that one of the early objections to nuclear power plants was that they might blow up. What goes around comes around.

CD in Wisconsin
May 12, 2021 4:10 pm

“So the Plans call for the addition of some 97.6 GW of solar capacity and 22.6 GW of wind capacity by 2045, on top of 26.5 GW of those two currently existing. (The Plans also call for the addition of 0.1 GW of geothermal capacity, but that is a rounding error.). With the additions, California would have a total of some 146.7 GW of wind and solar capacity,…”


Has anyone done the calculation to determine how many solar panels would be required for an addition of 97.6 GW of solar capacity? With a 300 Watt panel? How many wind turbines for 22.6 GW of additional capacity?

If it helps any, one source I looked at says California (on average) gets about 9 and one half hours of sunshine per day.

Do they know that coking coal is needed to make the silicon for the solar panels and the steel for the wind turbines? Do they know that most solar panels installed in the U.S. are made overseas (many in China)?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
May 12, 2021 5:38 pm

Just think of how much Windex they’ll need to keep them clean, or deduct another ??% of their “capacity” and add even more to allow for dirty panels. And where does Windex come from?! Surely no “fossil fuels” involved in that, eh?! LMFAO!

Howard Dewhirst
May 12, 2021 4:27 pm

Will I get the job if I can prove that everyone has eleven fingers.
Hold both hands up with fingers spread (awful word) starting at the right hand pinkie, count down to the thumb, closing each one as you go – 10, 9, 8, 7, 6
Now add the remaining five fingers – bingo! 11

Joel O'Bryan
May 12, 2021 4:49 pm

Well duh, Math is now racist.
Didn’t ya’ know? Get with the program(ming).

Forrest Gardener
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 12, 2021 6:58 pm

Good to hear that. It has only been sexist for far too long. Oops. I may have transgressed the unwritten rule that it is sexist for men to point out that something is sexist. Such is life!

Reply to  Forrest Gardener
May 12, 2021 7:35 pm

Would that count as mansplaining?

Reply to  MarkW
May 13, 2021 12:58 am

Only if you identify as a man !

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Forrest Gardener
May 13, 2021 5:32 am

Just identify as a black female and you’ll be OK.

John Dueker
May 12, 2021 5:15 pm

The same confusion of kW peak capacity and kWh cumulative power (GW, GWH) was rampant during the Texas February freeze when 98% of renewable capacity failed. As a post graduate EE I apologize for our terminology particularly the square root of -1. But just read the definitions and balance the damn units!

I know math is a touchy political subject but anyone with any knowledge of power knows the difference. I personally sent an explanation of it to the entire Wall Street Journal Editorial Board because they kept screwing it up during the Texas fiasco.

Regarding what battery technology to use. I always used lead acid for station batteries that don’t have frequent cycling. They can generate a lot of hydrogen if you’re doing a day night cycle which could be dealt with or not. These would be massive cells so I guess you could automate cell diagnostics and fluid levels and cell change outs but expensive.

Lithium doesn’t have the same quantity of gas generation unless overheated but I don’t know a way to put out an elemental lithium fire other than watch. Recall the degree the Texas tesla burned recently. So they’d need to be compartmentalized and isolated, not aware of any installation experience. I guess California wants to buy the first set of expensive dangerous lessons.

These aren’t D cells and if you build it it will fail in some way shape or form. So how do you manage the failures and still operate. How is the waste gas handled? And how is the huge amounts of toxic waste disposed of? (An earlier article discussed this. My take on the answer was we can’t recycle so we stack it up and wait.

May 12, 2021 5:24 pm

unlike lead acid batteries which are damaged by drawdowns below 50% or thereabouts , lithium can survive nearly total drawdown . but there is a limit to their resilience , I believe . I think they function better longer if not overly stressed . but they will start slowly degrading as soon as they start being used and will have a limited lifetime depending on how carefully they are charged and discharged . I live with lithium battery power on my boat and this is my understanding . I’m sure you can find them cheaper , but right now well made lithium batteries retail for about $10 / AH .

Last edited 1 year ago by garboard
Reply to  garboard
May 12, 2021 5:49 pm

In the real world, batteries are charged when there is available energy, and the rate of charging is based on how much energy is available, and they are discharged whenever the available power is insufficient, and the rate of discharge is based on the difference between available power and current demand.

I suppose you could manage your batteries by not charging all the batteries at the same time, and controlling how many batteries power was being drawn from in order to keep each battery at closer to it’s ideal charge and discharge rate. However while this kind of switching circuitry will help prolong the life of the batteries, it will also add a lot to the cost of the system.

B Clarke
Reply to  garboard
May 13, 2021 2:58 am

I used li batteries yesterday = a angle grinder and a screwdriver/ drill , the draw on the angle grinder was large cutting through concrete it took 3 charges to do the job ( 3hrs) the battery was hot when it lost its charge , the battery charger would not charge the battery till it had cooled down, the opposite is also true when cold the battery charger will not charge the battery till the batt gets to room temp. So in my example you need a optimum temperature to charge li batteries.

Rob Robertson
May 12, 2021 5:48 pm

As soon as I got halfway through the reference to storage being in Gw I was already thinking ‘huh? Surely they mean to measure it is Gwh, surely? They can’t be that dumb can they?’

Now I want to find a brick wall to bang my head against. It’s not dumbness at work, it’s disdain. They know their figures are bollocks but they know too that if they flutter some meaningless figures in front of the masses all will be well.

Whether in Communist California or my home state of Communist Victoria, everything is insane now.

May 12, 2021 6:03 pm

The futility of national or regional climate heroism in the context of the need to cut GLOBAL emissions.

Izaak Walton
May 12, 2021 6:46 pm

Perhaps the author should read the report before making comments like this one:

$6.7 trillion is well more than double the annual GDP of California. Remember that the Plans of California’s joint agency task force said that the incremental costs of the all-wind-and-solar-plus-storage system were going to run around $4.6 billion. Could they really be off by a factor of well over 1000?

Reading the report it clearly states that the $4.6 billion is the additional annual cost involved from going a 60% renewable target to a 100% renewable target. This means that the total cost per year is about $50 billion (see figure 4 on page 11 of the report). Hence the total cost would be on the order of a couple of trillion dollars spread out over 30 years in agreement with the estimate given by the post’s author.

Hence it is not the case that the plan’s author are off by a factor of 1000 but rather that the Manhattan contrarian can’t read a simple report.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 13, 2021 4:20 am

You seem to have neglected inflation in your calculations. The real cost will inflate as time passes.

Has California reached 60% renewables yet?

Coach Springer
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 13, 2021 7:05 am

California did manage to obfuscate the costs pretty well then, didn’t they?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 14, 2021 6:00 pm

You can mostly get to a 60% renewables solution without breaking the bank for storage, although it will still be a much more expensive system than one based on readily available fossil fuels because of the costs of backup and wastage and the high cost of renewables in the first place per useful MWh. But once you start trying to go beyond that, costs escalate very rapidly indeed. You have to install great multiples of capacity to try to fill in those annoying <i>Dunkelfalute</i> gaps in supply – with most of their output being curtailed. Or you can start down the storage route, which is where this post starts. The best you can argue is that there may be cheaper types of storage than batteries.

May 12, 2021 7:12 pm

Everybody loves to bash California, but it is a wonderful state with sun and surf and lifestyle. It is very expensive to live there “normally”, but the homeless and poor seem to be cared for more comfortably than in most states. The government is financially stable compared to most democratic run states and has a considerable surplus in its coffers this year.

I raise my eyebrow with California policies which are most bizarre in my mind. But until they go into a complete meltdown (as predicted by most on WUWT), I say let them continue with their social experiment. They get what they vote for. It will be interesting to see if they trade in Newsom for Jenner. Jenner probably wouldn’t change much of their loony climate policy, though.

Good luck to the long run of California!!

Reply to  RelPerm
May 12, 2021 11:37 pm

No, we don’t get what we vote for, we get what they (the uninformed voters) vote for.

May 12, 2021 8:06 pm

Francis Menton wrote:
The Plans show that the California regulators have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Perhaps I am wrong. I invite all readers to check me and see if I am missing something. But I don’t think so. Either these people do not understand the basic units used for these calculations, or they cannot do basic arithmetic, or both. In their projection of incremental costs, I think they are off by a factor of about 1000 or more.

Sir – you are correct. None of this intermittent green energy makes any sense within the grid. We published that conclusion in 2002. Nothing has changed. See #2 below:

Our 2002 predictions – #1 and 2 were easy – slam dunks. #3 was difficult – also correct.
Anyone who supported grid-connected wind and solar generation was delusional, or on the take. It’s all a mandate-and-subsidy game that makes no sense at all.
In 2002, co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U, Ottawa and Allan MacRae, P.Eng. (now retired), McGill, Queens, U of Alberta, published:
1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
Allan MacRae published in the Calgary Herald on September 1, 2002, based on communication with Dr Tim Patterson:
3. “If [as we believe] solar activity is the main driver of surface temperature rather than CO2, we should begin the next cooling period by 2020 to 2030.”
MacRae updated his global cooling prediction in 2013, based on cold events that occurred starting circa 2008 near the end of Solar Cycle 23:
3a. “I suggest global cooling starts by 2020 or sooner. Bundle up.”

May 12, 2021 8:25 pm

Here’s an even better solution:

1. Build your wind power system.
2. Build your back-up system consisting of 100% equivalent capacity in gas turbine generators.
3. Using high explosives, blow your wind power system all to hell.
4. Run your back-up gas turbine generators 24/7.
5. To save even more money, skip steps 1 and 3. 

Robert of Texas
May 12, 2021 8:21 pm

Um…did you happen to include the replacement costs of all this infrastructure over time? A good old fashioned Gas-Powered Electric generation station, or a Coal driven one, or a nuclear one is good for 50 years or so. Wind turbines are going to have trouble reaching 20 years.

Batteries are even worse…they will be down below 80% capacity in about 7 to 8 years. They will have to be replaced every 10 to 12 years – if they actually last that long.

So it isn’t just GWh you need to do the math on, but also the overall lifetime costs over a suitable period of time. You will find the Green Energy costs more than double what you have presented.

As for how many batteries are needed…If you accept some amount of back-outs (which apparently California does) then you can increase the rated wind turbine capacity and lower the amount of batteries needed.

If you accept no black-outs you have to have backup power to cover all contingencies including huge periods of time when the wind is blowing too little. You can cover these by building nuclear power plants of course, but then you can just run the nuclear power plants at 95% capacity and get rid of the need for wind and batteries altogether.

Eventually there are going to be enough blackouts that kill innocent people to wake up the public to these ridiculous schemes.

May 12, 2021 8:39 pm

completely agree
basic physics is not understood
GW work when you have continuous generation
but GWh are what you need to give a continuous supply for a period of time
watch this space as they say as California crashes and burns

Pat from kerbob
May 12, 2021 10:12 pm

I work in batteries and writing a spec saying you need a number of watts or Amps of batteries is basically criminal malfeasance.
How long you need it can change the price by magnitudes

If you spent 10k on a ups but then put in 1 minute worth of battery backup you deserved to be mocked out of the field.

These people are committing fraud.

Dennis G Sandberg
May 12, 2021 10:24 pm

“Low-cost storage is the key to enabling renewable electricity to compete with fossil fuel generated electricity on a cost basis,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials science and engineering professor at MIT.
But exactly how low? Chiang, professor of energy studies Jessika Trancik, and others have determined that energy storage would have to cost roughly US $20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the grid to be 100 percent powered by a wind-solar mix. Their analysis is published in Joule.
That’s an intimidating stretch for lithium-ion batteries, which dipped to $175/kWh in 2018…

…Energy storage would have to cost $10 to $20/kWh for a wind-solar mix with storage to be competitive with a nuclear power plant providing baseload electricity. And competing with a natural gas peaker plant would require energy storage costs to fall to $5/kWh.

Note: $175/kWh is for the battery. Installation for utility grid scale storage costs more than the battery. I live in California, a few miles from the soon to close Diablo nuclear plant. Disaster in the making.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
May 12, 2021 11:04 pm

240 mWh =$300 x 6 = $1800/day X 7 = $12,600/wk for 60 MW, $126000 for 600 MW, but the .gov source is a complete lie! The $380 is per kw not mw, so it’s actually $126,000,000 (keep in mind that I used $300 instead of $380. Note: a modern CCGT is typically 800 MW, battery storage for a week would cost at least $150 million based on the .gov source (sounds low).

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
May 13, 2021 9:15 am

They still can’t get generation itself to be cost competitive with fossil fuel power. Including the cost of buying and installing batteries just makes wind and solar that much less competitive.

Iain Reid
May 12, 2021 11:31 pm

As wind and solar is uncontrollable in conventional systems how are they going to keep the frequency stable? Frequency is the parameter that shows the balanced between demand and supply. Also renewables have no inertia, the flywheel effect that helps smooth out all the smaller variations in frequency deviation, i.e. gives stability.
I would envisage that long before they get to 100% renewables the grid will be out of frequency tolerance and will trip. It also takes a very long time to restart a grid without suitable black start systems.
Surely the grid engineers know this and sooner or later sense will prevail, or are they going to rely on power imports from neighbouring states?

Reply to  Iain Reid
May 13, 2021 4:07 am

Most battery systems are used for grid balancing systems at present…

There’s an extensive programme in the UK – see ‘enhanced frequency response UK’.

Or ‘yes, they are aware of that and have a fix’

Reply to  griff
May 13, 2021 8:46 am

Now calculate the battery capacity to keep the lights on in the UK when the wind isn’t blowing and the Sun isn’t shining.

Coeur de Lion
May 13, 2021 12:16 am

Socialists are not good managers. How is the VMT to be administered? Voluntary reporting? Good luck with that. GPS? ?data management? Mine’s bust. An inspector calls? Sorry, granny has it in Ashland Oregon. Read my odometer? How When? Why do I have Colorado plates?

Jan de Jong
May 13, 2021 1:08 am

The plans are crazy, obviously. And mentioning only power and never energy is ridiculous, obviously.
But the >1000 factor assumes that the summer energy excess is exactly to be used in the winter. From Andrews’s chart above it would appear that the maximum summer production is about 7 times the minimum winter production. That would indicate that installing 7 times the intended capacity and throwing away 6/7 of production in the summer (synthetic liquid fuel?) could obviate the need for seasonal storage. Daily storage would still be needed. How the cost would compare to x1000 …?

Jan de Jong
Reply to  Jan de Jong
May 13, 2021 1:12 am

More than 6/7..

Last edited 1 year ago by Jan de Jong
AC Osborn
May 13, 2021 1:45 am

I really miss Roger Andrews analytical ability, he is gone but not forgotten.
I also miss Euan’s Energy Matters as well, good solid down to earth analysis of real world data.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  AC Osborn
May 14, 2021 6:10 pm

Agreed. Glad to see his work being cited here. And Energy Matters attracted a number of real energy experts in different fields to cross examine the issues and hone the answers. Debate was mostly of a very high standard.

May 13, 2021 2:44 am

… all electric? what abot the Diesels running to produce the food in their fields? the Earthmovers to re-grade the Land, etc. Remind us ( them city folk) how the State of California grows Sooooh much Fresh veg for the US and also Fruit – according to what we in UK see on the Smithsonian Channel’s “America from above”series.

May 13, 2021 3:45 am

Google “Hornsdale Power Reserve” on Wikipedia to read about what was the world’s largest battery in South Australia until surpassed in August 2020 by the Gateway Energy Storage in California and now apparently by this new project.
it is all there for Californians to see what is coming.
Hornsdale was also built by Elon Musk and Tesla.
Hornsdale Power Reserve is a 150 MW/ 194 MWh grid-connected energy storage system co-located with the Hornsdale Wind Farm in the Mid-North region of South Australia.
The Wikipedia item is generally laudatory but go to the story on 2 September 2020 “Tesla Battery in South Australia expanded by 50%, Energy Minister lauds benefit.”
The key issues are addressed under “SA’s increasingly ‘unmanageable’ renewables sector.”
As SA has one third of the State with rooftop solar power,continuing generous tariffs ensure surplus power generated is fed back into the grid at a rate it cannot handle.
As the Minister acknowledges,”There are times when we have more electricity going back into the grid than coming out of it and if it crosses that threshold it’ll be a disaster for the grid”.
The ‘disaster’ is blackouts.

Reply to  Herbert
May 13, 2021 4:05 am

Except there won’t be a disaster, because they thought of that and built the battery…

(Plus home batteries are becoming more popular too)

Reply to  griff
May 13, 2021 2:51 pm

On a different posting you asked for scientific rebuttal, and yet, you don’t ever have the courtesy to provide what you’re asking of others.
194MWh means 194MW for one hour, which is a piddling amount even for an inexistent economy such as that of South Australia, 2GW peak over 5 to 7 hours. And home batteries, people don’t want them but some might install them just because the energy regulator wants them to pay grid access.
I close with saying that you remain as shallow and dishonest as always.

Reply to  Lrp
May 13, 2021 5:09 pm

It is even worse than that in reality you have a discharge rate which means that pissy little elon musk battery will keep the lights on in about 1% of adelaide for about 5 hours as you need to discharge it over 4 – 5 hours so as not to completely destroy this foley

May 13, 2021 4:51 am

There are about 30 million registered vehicles in California. With average driving, you will need to recharge your EV about 75kw-hr every week. Calif will need to add 40 – 50 1,000MW power plants to their system, running every night, to meet this demand. Won’t happen.

Ed Zuiderwijk
May 13, 2021 4:54 am

Clearly Californians can count: one, two, three, four, many.

Coach Springer
May 13, 2021 6:11 am

Is the relative cost comparison now between batteries and new gas or nuke plants? All the same, 6.7 trillion gets you a lot of generation while eliminating environmentally harmful wind and solar.

Nicholas McGinley
May 13, 2021 6:59 am

SB 100…or 100% BS?

May 13, 2021 7:24 am

They get to their goal with a substitution in the equation from their old standby–imports of power.

Randy Stubbings
May 13, 2021 7:42 am

A very similar analysis for Alberta shows the cost of batteries for a wind-solar-and-battery future would be C$2 trillion (about $1.5 trillion US). That’s for 4.3 million people… after eliminating the oil and gas industry but before converting to electric cars and before converting virtually every building in the province from natural gas heating to electric heating.

True Cost of Wind Solar Alberta | Friends of Science Calgary

Coach Springer
May 13, 2021 7:46 am

Upon further review:

“Modeling results indicate that achieving 100 percent clean electricity will increase the total annual electricity system costs by nearly $4.6 billion by 2045. This is 6 percent more than the cost under the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard requirement of having at least 60 percent clean electricity by the end of 2030.”

A little over $2 Trillion put as indirectly as possible.. [$4.6 billion = .06 x; x = 76+ $Billion; 76 + 4 = 80 $Billion total annual cost. $80B X 24 years = 1.92 $Trillion]

Assuming government cost overruns, let’s say underestimated by at least a factor of 4 including the reasons discussed in the article. Admittedly, $8 Trillion gets you a thousand nukes at $8 Billion a pop, but what is the cost of electrical plant and electricity production for the same levels of usage using nuclear and other conventional methods?

May 13, 2021 10:37 am

I just wish they would advance the timeline so we can hurry up and get to the other side of this mess.

May 13, 2021 2:18 pm

Excellent post!

Kriilin Namek
May 13, 2021 7:37 pm

I bet the 6.7 trillion is actually low. Why? At that volume, the metal demand will wildly spike prices. Is there even enough minerals being mined to supply this? Mines don’t scale up overnight, and natural resources are where you find them, not always in easily accessible or politically friendly places.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Kriilin Namek
May 14, 2021 6:14 pm

Now even the IEA has noticed.

They are forecasting exactly that: massive prices spikes, massive shortages.

Mike Smith
May 13, 2021 7:50 pm

Even the California grid operator (CAISO) seems unable to correctly understand the difference between energy (e.g. GWH) and power (e.g. GW).

They say: “Energy in megawatts broken down by resource in 5-minute increments.”

This is elementary/middle school level stuff!

As a California resident I am so [unprintable] angry at the stupidity of those defining our energy policy. But to make matters much worse, most of the population has bought into their nonsense. Most of my affluent neighbors who have spent 100 to 200 grand on their solar panels, powerwalls and Teslas, really do believe they are “saving the plant”. I just want to scream.

John Culhane
May 13, 2021 11:45 pm

This is somewhat facetious. How do the authorities indend to protect the energy storage facilities from the wild fires that seem to be more prevalent (reliable data source being alarmist computer models, National Interagency Fire Center and TV news). Is the solution to strip California of trees and scrub land to meet the distribution requirements of this new electrified paridise on earth.

May 14, 2021 8:44 am

You forgot to mention the cost of replacing the batteries when they wear out, which means spending that much on storage every 20 years. Then add in the cost of either safe disposal or of recycling all those batteries.

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