Yesterday’s post made the point that states or countries seeking to march toward 100% “renewable” electricity don’t seem to be able to get past about the 50% mark, no matter how many wind turbines and solar panels they build. The reason is that, in practical operation, due to what is called “intermittency,” no output is available from the solar and wind sources at many times of high demand; therefore, during those times, other sources must supply the juice. This practical problem is presented most starkly in California, where the “renewable” strategy is based almost entirely on solar panels, with only a very small wind component. Daily graphs published by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) show a clear and obvious pattern, where the solar generation drops right to zero every evening just as the peak demand period kicks in from about 6 to 9 PM.
Commenter Sean thinks he has the answer: “Given the predictable daily power generation cycle of solar in sunny places like California and the predictable daily demand which peaks in the evening perhaps solar generators should be required to have electricity storage equivalent to the daily generation of their PV system.”
I thought it might be instructive to play out Sean’s idea to see just how much solar generation capacity and storage it would take to make a system out of just those two elements that would be sufficient to fulfill California’s current electricity requirements. Note: this is an exercise in arithmetic. It is not complicated arithmetic. There is nothing here that goes beyond what you learned in elementary school. On the other hand, few seem to be willing to undertake the effort to do these calculations, or to recognize the consequences.
We start with the current usage that must be supplied. Currently, the usage ranges between a low of around 30 GW and a high of around 40 GW over the course of a day. For purposes of this exercise, let’s assume an average usage of 35 GW. Multiply by 24, and we find as a rough estimate that the system must supply 840 GWH of electricity per day.
How much capacity of solar panels will we need to provide the 840 GWH? We’ll start with the very sunniest day of the year, June 21. California currently has about 14 GW of solar capacity. Go to those CAISO charts, and we find that on June 21, 2021, which apparently was a very sunny day, those 14 GW of solar panels produced at the rate of about 12 GW maximum from about 8 AM to 6 PM, about half that rate from 7-8 AM and 6-7 PM, and basically nothing the rest of the time. Optimistically, they produced about 140 GWH for the day (10 hrs x 12 GW plus 2 hrs x 6 GW plus a little more for the dawn and dusk hours). That means that to produce your 840 GWH of electricity on a sunny June 21, you will need 6 times the capacity of solar panels that you currently have, or 84 GW. When 7 PM comes, you’ll need enough energy in storage to get you through to the next morning at around 8 AM, when generation will again exceed usage. This is about 13-14 hrs at an average of 35 GW, or around 475 GWH of storage.
That’s June 21, your best day of the year. Now let’s look at a bad day. For the past year, a good example would be December 24, 2020, which besides being one of the shortest days of the year, must also have been rather cloudy. Production from the existing 14 GW of solar capacity averaged only about 3 GW, and only from 9 AM to 3 PM. That’s 18 GWH in that window (3 GW x 6 hrs). Then there was another about 1 GWH produced from 8 to 9 AM, and another 1 GWH from 3 to 4 PM. About 20 GWH for the whole day. You need 840 GWH. If 14 GW of solar panels only produced 20 GWH for the day, you would have needed 588 GW of panels to produce your 840 GWH. (14/20 x 840) That 588 GW of solar panels is some 42 times your existing 14 GW of solar panels. And when those 588 GW of capacity stop producing anything at all around 4 PM, you are also going to need at least 16 hours worth of average usage in storage to get yourself to 8 AM the next morning. That would be around 560 GWH of storage.
So you can easily see that Sean’s idea of providing storage “equivalent to the daily generation of the PV system” doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem. Your main problem is that you will need capacity of close to 15 times peak usage (nearly 600 GW capacity to supply peak usage of around 40 GW) in order to deal with your lowest-production days of the year.
Cost? If you assume (charitably) that the “levelized cost” of energy from the solar panels is the same as the “levelized cost” of energy from a natural gas plant, then this system with 15 times the capacity is going to cost 15 times as much. Plus the cost of storage. In this scenario, that is relatively modest. At current prices of around $200/KWH the 560 GWH of storage will run around $112 billion, or around half of the annual budget of the state government of California.
But you may say, no one would build the system this way, with gigantic over-capacity in place just to cover the handful of days in the year with the very lowest solar output. Instead, why not build much less solar capacity, and save up power from the summer to cover the winter. Since the average output of the solar facilities in California is about 20% of capacity averaged over the year, then you ought to be able to generate enough power for the year with capacity of about 5 times peak usage, rather than the 15 times in the scenario above. You just will need to save up power all the way from the summer to the winter. Oh, and you will need a huge multiple more storage than for the one-day-at-a-time scenario. If 180 days per year have less production than usage, and the average shortfall of production on each of those days is 300 GWH, then you will need 54,000 GWH worth of batteries (180 x 300). At $200 per GWH, that will run you around $10+ trillion. This would be about triple the annual GDP of the state of California.
But don’t worry, batteries to store power for six months and more and release it without loss on the exchange don’t exist. Maybe someone will invent them in time for California to meet its 2030 renewable electricity targets.
And with simple math and basic reasoning, you show the fundamental problem with so called renewable (wind / solar) energy sources. The one renewable that actually works to provide power on demand, hydro, isn’t “approved” by the greenie types.
Er, maybe they could consider nuclear, or is that asking too much 😡
“construction on the 2-MW prototype reactor is due to wrap up next month, and the first tests could begin as soon as September.”
“first commercial reactor, slated for construction by 2030”
Thorium reactor was invented at Chalk River, Ontario in 1947
“Here are examples of thorium fueled reactors from around the world, both experimental and for power plants:
The NRX (National Research Experiment) reactor was a nuclear research reactor came into operation in 1947 and was shut down in 1993. Located in Canada, at the Chalk River Laboratories (a national research facility).
Oak Ridge, TN researched and built a thorium molten salt reactor in the 1960s. Worked like a charm. They let it run out of fuel and it shut itself off and cooled down. The Atomic Energy Commission, apparently under pressure from the Pentagon (no weapons grade plutonium!) ordered the research stopped.
China does this BS ‘first’ stuff all the time. At an archeological dig some years ago, China ‘found’ they had invented the flush toilet!
Chalk River also invented the heavy water coolant for reactors and produced the first medical isotope, Cobalt for cancer treatment demonstrated at London, Ontario hospital for doctors from around the world. The facility was the sole producer this and all other medical isotopes for the world until a temporary breakdown about 10yrs ago. Jimmy Carter, then a lieutenant in the US Navy, famously helped with the clean up of a reactor accident in the 1950s!! No wonder he’s going to live to 110!
“Oak Ridge, TN researched and built a thorium molten salt reactor in the 1960s. Worked like a charm.”
In 1964, Eugene Weinberg and his team built a working version of the molten-salt reactor (MSR) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) which operated until 1975.
Weinberg was fired by the Nixon Administration from ORNL in 1973 after 18 years as the lab’s director because he continued to advocate increased nuclear safety and Molten Salt Reactors (MSR’s) against the Republican Party’s selected Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR). Thus, 1973 was effectively the year that thorium R&D faded away to relative obscurity.
President Nixon closed it down because it didn’t produce plutonium, and he wanted more plutonium to make more nuclear weapons !
It never ceases to amaze me how the elite left are taken in by all of this. People with strings of letters after their name just go along with it all when even basic calculations reveal how absurd many of the arguments for renewables are.
Let’s face it, nobody with an ounce of brain would have any problem with renewable energy if it actually made sense and was economically viable. Who wouldn’t want cheap and reliable renewable energy if it were achievable?
It’s the same in the UK. Absurd targets enshrined in law, which will never be met because the reality of achieving them will mean lower living standards, caps on people’s freedoms and costs that consumers just won’t accept. Any Government trying to get these things through will be voted out — as the Tories are beginning to learn. Plans to install heat pumps, which were meant to be announced now are being put back until after the next election because the true cost of installing them has hit home.
I shudder to think of the billions — trillions even — about to be wasted to achieve nothing.
Yes I too am dumbfounded by how basic numeracy skills seem to desert many so-called experts in physics, engineering, meteorology and economics as soon as the subjects are wind & solar power generation, storage & distribution.
Imagine if these ‘experts’ were in charge of the Apollo moon mission landing & safe return to earth.
Oh shit NOOOOO!
Speaking of Moon missions: SpaceX claims their new Heavy-lift vehicle can put 170 tons of propellant into low-Earth orbit, using the “tanker” version of the big rocket.
They say they will need 11 such launches to provide the propellant to travel to the Moon, land on it, and then return to Earth.
The 170 tons of cargo to low-Earth orbit compares favorably with the Saturn V at about 140 tons to LEO and the Space Shuttle launch system at about 120 tons to LEO.
In the interests of everyone’s safety & survival, I hope the flight technicians were using slide rulers like the Apollo techs did for their calculations, and not the same tools that wind & solar designers use.
Huston, we have an unsolvable problem.
I’d rather that you left out engineers from this madhouse. I don’t think many engineers think renewables make sense. Power engineers are also aware of the technical deficiencies of wind and solar to providing large scale grid supply.
Incidentally my standard response to advocates of storage as the answer is always, do some arithmetic. Another miscoception is that existing grid batteries are to make up for intermittency, they are not, they are for frequency support, a completely different function.
Thank you Iain. As a Professional Engineer, now retired, I nailed this subject in 2002. The facts have not changed since then.
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.”
THE REAL CLIMATE CRISIS IS NOT GLOBAL WARMING, IT IS COOLING, AND IT MAY HAVE ALREADY STARTED
By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019
For hundreds of extreme-cold events worldwide, see
The world view of our “elites” is based on assumption that everyone who came before them was stupid. They cannot conceive that the people before them thought through things and came up with the effective solution.
“If it exists it must be wrong” is the theme that ties together all their science, economics, sociology, history, and politics. And it is why all their ideas are wrong.
“Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today’s problems are a result of yesterday’s solutions.” Thomas Sowell
You shouldn’t be surprised. The ‘elite left’ know exactly what they are doing. They have one objective: to make the West as weak as possible. I leave it to you figure out why.
“…I shudder to think of the billions — trillions even — about to be wasted to achieve nothing…”
It achieves exactly what they intend it to. It creates a huge unaccountable slush fund that they and their cronies can tap into.
People that don’t know the costs of what their favorite politician is proposing really should not be allowed to vote.
It should be clear to everyone by now that lower living standards, etc are (at least for the masses!) the entire point of the exercise, not an undesired problem. And if the voters object? Well, the example of the 2020 US election is instructive …
I love all the messages below talking about “innumerate” lefties. The figures in the above article are three magnitudes out.
Specifically, it says “Plus the cost of storage. In this scenario, that is relatively modest. At current prices of around $200/KWH”. The actual price is $200/MWH, one thousandth the figure quoted. This sort wild exaggeration of the price of renewable energy and storage appears here frequently. Good luck trying to be taken seriosly.
admitttedly its a 2015 report, but the figure here is E2363 / KWH
Tony M, where did you get your figure from? $200/kWh is in the Tesla vehicle battery pack ballpark. Maybe you’re quoting the running costs? $200/MWh is about 20¢/kWh, which seems realistic, similar to the price of electricity in places that have high prices due to lots of renewables. After all, you have to pay for the electricity to charge the batteries, and then you have the costs of running and maintaining the batteries and system. It’ll sort of make sense in areas that have sold their energy souls to the green devil and have lots of electricity that they have to buy when they don’t need it and pay other utilities to take it now.
Actually, $200/kWh is very low for a stationary battery pack: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/10/05/tesla-megapack-powerpack-powerwall-battery-storage-prices/
No, it’s $200/kWH, and that’s a 2030 projection. It’s not clear to me if that cost is for the battery only or also includes control electronics and inverters.
Cost Projections for Utility-Scale Battery Storage: 2020 Update (Technical Report) | OSTI.GOV
Wrong. it really is $200/kWh, and that is just for the battery, and does not include the enclosures, connections, switching, and auxiliary equipment such as fire suppression. The current price is closer to $400/kwh for an installed and commissioned system. Maybe someday $200/kWh, but never the $20/kWh the solar advocates are “projecting”. The calculations may exaggerate total demand requirements because 11PM to 6 AM may be overstated, but the fact remains lithium battery storage costs at least 10X more than the solar panels for a few days of cloudy storage.
You’re seriously saying that a huge battery pack capable of supplying a megawatt of power for one hour would cost just $200? Would you by chance be one of those inumerate lefties? It certainly seems so….
Good luck trying to be taken seriosly.
According to the Telsa website, a 304.8/MWh megapack costs $85,227,950 plus annual maintenance of $40,000
Yes, that’s 85 million dollars. Or ~$280 per KWh
A Tesla Powerwall appears to cost about $8,000 for 13.5/KWh although now you have to buy a solar roof in order to buy a Powerwall. That’s about $592 per KWh.
$280/kWh for the megapack plus transportation, site prep, connections and commissioning $500+/kWh (for one hour of storage for a typical 300 mW CCGT).
Wrong. I know what graph you got that from. It’s wrong, and so are you.
You forgot the other obvious option.
Load shedding, based on Social(ist) Value Score, until demand complies with model predictions.
I am sure that is the goal, reducing demand rather than meeting it. With that in mind, you can easily imagine the following future. The anti-fossil fuel anti-nuclear regulations continue and even get worse. The impossibility of storage is not a bug it is a feature. Therefore in the near future, some power will be generated during daylight hours. At all other times and when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow, it is up to YOU to have the batteries to store whatever power you need. Grab it while you can. Problem solved.
I have a fireplace, an old pot-bellied stove, and an acre of large trees.
But they will prohibit you from felling any trees and require continuous emissions monitoring systems on your stove.
Being unwilling or unable to do math is a prerequisite for being a green.
As both wind and solar are at roughly two thirds of theoretically possible performance, no Moore’s Law style increase in performance is possible.
Storage options are about on the same level as solar panels and windmills as far as performance, so the green blob is demanding the impossible.
Tom, as a Board member on a novel (failed) solar approach, solar is sometimes better than that already. The Schockley-Quissner theoretical limit for mono layer silicon is ~31%. The best monosilicon cells do 26% and the panels are 24%. Even garden variety polysilicon panels from China are now about 19%—your 2/3.
I knew there was not much upside for performance improvements, but I think my knowledge was more than a bit stale.
Kinda reinforces that they will never work, There are rapidly approaching the theoretically limits and yet they cannot reproduce themselves with the energy they produce.
They can’t reproduce themselves, much less the panels they are installed in and the frames that hold the panels.
And don’t get me started with the de-commissioning costs.
The demand during the night (and for many households during the work day), except for peak evening and peak morning would be small. Best install “wall storage units” rather than giant grid ones.
Yeah, I know, it still isn’t going to work smoothly (rainy days, grid problems …). Probably you could click on your smart stove, A/C and kettle to have dinner ready when you arrive home and the place cooled down, using the peak power a bit early.
Why should any modern advanced society have to muck around with scheduling their electricity usage when we already have the means & resources to provide proven, reliable, affordable, reticulated electricity 24X7X52?
In case no one has noticed me here at WUWT since 2007. I’d be among the last here to adhere to totalitarian gov. dictates. Often my rants about all this are too much even for our moderators. But, the fact remains this article may please most sceptics here but it wasn’t very good. The out of sight analysis is easy to put down by even innumerate lefties.
A you can see, I’m an equal opportunity sceptic. Sub-par work by sceptics attracts my scorn, too.
My comment was not a dig at you Gary, I was just reverting to my base rationalist instincts.
And for me, the notion of grid scale wind & solar is irrational / unworkable by so many irrefutable observations.
Turning on the A/C hours before the owners come home means that the total amount of energy needed to cool the house, day in and day out goes up, by a significant amount.
There aren’t very many meals that can be set out in the morning, and then heated just prior to consumption in the afternoon/evening. Most meals require prepping various portions and then combining them during the cooking process.
Regardless, that’s a huge extra cost and inconvenience, for no measurable benefit.
Just build the microwave oven into the freezer.
Keep the freezer full of frozen dinners.
I see no point in giving the true believers any excuses to justify such an utterly pointless exercise in futility. There’s no such thing as “renewable energy”.
Nope. WRONG. Look at California’s projected demand curve for today. The minimum usage is projected to be 23,700 MW and the peak 36,700 MW. About 65% of the peak electrical demand runs all night and that’s in the summer with little use of heating which increases night demand. The average night usage is more than the minimum, it’s about 26,000 MW, compared to the day average of 32,000 MW or about 80% of the power. Since summer nights are short, only about 1/3 of the energy is used at night. However, in the winter it’s much worse – because winter nights are long, about 50% of the MW-hrs are used at night.
As EV usage of electricity grows, it’s going to get worse. As people are forced to install heat pumps instead of gas furnaces it’s going to get worse.
Your post illustrates why we can’t afford to let people who aren’t willing to put in10 minutes of research and use their elementary school arithmetic skills design the power system.
“Currently, the usage ranges between a low of around 30 GW and a high of around 40 GW over the course of a day.” It looks like he’s quantified “would be small” for us. It’s 3/4 of the peak. That doesn’t match my intuition either, but presumably he got it from CA state-supplied figures.
So, what you are saying is, since there will be no Grid scale storage, that only those wealthy enough to provide their own reliable peak backup electricity will have to do without?
You truly are an elitist.
Building many small units costs a lot more than building one big one. Beyond that there’s the danger of those wall storage units catching fire.
But the eco-zealots have a solution. All you need to do is use your mandated EV battery to power your house at night!
Then in the morning you use it to get to work.
Hey, that sounds like a great idea. Batteries on the wall. Do I pay extra for the ones that catch fire?
Along with all the other policy holders of your insurance coverage, yes you will be paying extra Joe.
Only in winter, when the heat is beneficial. 😀
That would make the problem significanly worse. Currently grids are set up for high voltage distrbution to limit transmission losses. Local transformers convert to consumer voltage to power a local area. You can only feed stored capacity into the low voltage network, you cannot power the transmission grid this way. To achieve distributed storage across the grid you would need to completely redesign the way the grid works, and it would be much less efficient due to transmission losses and additional voltage transformation. The problem is not as bad in countries that use 240v, but 110v is diabolical.
Until they have managed to “mandate” BEVs to replace ICE powered vehicles. Then the night demand for recharging their cars will be massive. Oops.
“300 GWH, then you will need 54,000 GWH worth of batteries (180 x 300). At $200 per GWH, that will run”
Fifth line from the bottom should read: At $200 per kWh.
Bad math. You also have to charge the storage during the day, so need more than twice as much solar as surmised. You cannot get there from here, ever.
“Bad math. You also have to charge …”
First thing I did after reading the article was do a [Ctrl-F] search on “Charge”. Your post was the first one up. Yes, the wind mills or solar panels will have to supply the grid with enough power to satisfy consumer demand AND charge up the giant back up batteries that can catch unextinguishable fire at the same time.
No, Menton has the math fundamentally correct, accounting for the additional capacity to charge the batteries during the day, even though he does not explicitly refer to charging.
Take his June 21 example. Demand for 24 hours is 840 GWh, or about 35 GW on average. He states that you will need to have PVs generating 84GW during the sunlit hours. The excess over the 35 or 40 GW consumed during these hours is what goes into charging the batteries.
There are many details that you could quibble with, but he does this part basically correctly.
What he doesn’t account for is the charge/discharge cycle losses. Probably 20% when the batteries are new and 50% near their end of life.
The grid (really, the grids) is an ad-hoc, adaptive, short-distance distribution network. It is not a single object, but operated as a collection of oligopolies: government and private owned cartels, organized to non-competitively fix prices share resources across territories. It is hugely wasteful, losing energy over long transmissions distances. It is not created or designed for efficiency or to guarantee service, and cannot distribute battery stored or intermittently generated power efficiently. There is no practical grid storage. There is no practical grid storage technology. The best use of battery storage is at or near the stationary point of use, after or externally to the grid.
Not sure what country you’re talking about Dk_ but in the UK we have one grid that connects the who country that currently provides reliable power to all. It was very economical but with intermittents being pushed onto it, it is getting more costly. Central battery storage technically could work in the UK but is would be horrendously expensive and a bomb waiting to go off.
There is no “best use” for battery storage beyond a flashlight or transistor radio or digital camera. Grid level power needs to be produced 24/7/365, not stored. Attempted storage of that much power is dangerous and stupid, in particular given its propensity to start fires that cannot be extinguished except by submersion in water, and since it is needless given perfectly good power production methods that provide dispatchable power.
Because the desire to “go green” isn’t based on reality math is irrelevant. Just like AGW emotions rule the roost.
Wake-up call guys and gals. Do you think they care ?? As long as there are enough stupid people paying for it, they’ll bank it The guys at the top of the pyramid of banking it don’t care where it comes from. They can even pretend that they’re in the highest echelons of planet-savers.
Vast fake knowledge of weather systems and not knowing how to work a calculator really, really works in the current useless human charade …..
Jeeeez, we really are that useless aren’t we collectively?
What we have is an unholy alliance of crony capitalists and Marxist anti-capitalists who want to destroy western economies and have no interest in providing reliable affordable energy to the masses. Economics and the math are irrelevant to them.
Crony capitalists are nothing more than socialists in disguise.
Having government pick winners and losers has nothing to do with capitalism.
Aside from having to add in the additional generation to charge the backup batteries, if you add the additional GHW needed to charge all those electric vehicles that California is requiring you have . . . and if you also add in all the electrification of stoves, home heating, etc., etc., the actual cost will be several times what the article calculates. Good luck California! (I’m 84 and hoping to live long enough to see how this all turns out.)
Haven’t you heard, those EV for the great unwashed masses are actually going to be electrical bicycles. Since they can also be pedalled to get you where you are going, large batteries, and the charging thereof, aren’t necessary.
We have lots of those here for rental in very flat Fort Lauderdale. You would think them not necessary, but then you look at the physical shape our tourist ‘blobs’ are mostly in and realize why they have become so popular.
They aren’t bikes but rather motorcycles that go twice as fast as a lightweight road bike, with clueless operators at the helm.
It’s just a cost of doing something useless.
I’m just here to report in from the Kook fringe that you may not really understand what the move to “Green” is all about. (after all, they don’t participate in their own Green ideas, so what is up?)
Almost everyone who is in a position to impose Green on others is also Malthusian and a strong ZPG enthusiast (as long as they remain to enjoy Utopia). They tell us all the time how the planet needs fewer people. We have story after story talking about how technology is going to eliminate millions of jobs. What if it isn’t to be a neo-luddite or to promote UBI? What if it is boasting that fewer people need to be around to maintain the standard of living the Elites propose?
What technology requires the fewest number of skilled workers to maintain? Solar and Wind. To them, its some thing far away that provides free energy forever. What technology requires the least amount of technical skill to maintain? ICE or EV? We are seeing this revolution all over where complicated processes are eliminated. Who needs any part of the ranching industry if robots can convert crops into fake meat?
So you keep around some people who know how to keep the plumbing and electricity flowing, some darker skinned people to work the soy plantations and dispose of the garbage, and perfect mRNA therapeutics to cover inconvenient diseases and cancers.
That is why there is zero interest in building an infrastructure to maintain a first world standard of living with a constant or growing population – the plan is to have far fewer people around and thus much less dependency on people and things. And those who are permitted to remain, do so at the pleasure of the served.
Again, Kook Theory. But given enough thought, the template to interpreting their moves make more and more sense and makes it predictable.
Another nod to the ‘developing’ world. Only the west is giving up on a reasonable life.
I hope that you are wrong and that our masters are just eejits. But i fear you are right and that they are evil monsters.
I take note of the last sentence in Mr. Menton’s piece:
“I just can’t believe that anybody talks about this as something remotely connected to reality.”
I could not agree more, especially regarding people with the letters PhD after their names.
When this meme collapses, there will be a few million PhDs who have no useful skills, departments of unis, institutions, governments closed and the titles borne by their ‘officials’ who will not know what else to do will need retraining for relevant vocations. Asterisking PhDs which marks them for re-earning BA/BS degrees if they can handle the proper course load. Society has no need for a few million corrupted geographers geographers and ecology specialists. Those over 55 could be pensioned off at 30,000 a year. Probably half of the disciplines should be decertified. A number of new, high standard universities must be created that would cater to 3-5% of the very best students (basically like it used to be).
The corrupted heritage schools, Ivy League, Oxford, Cambridge, Heidlberg… what to do? Maybe let them compete for top students to reform themselves. Maybe hire Japanese Universities to fill top positions for reforming and repurposing these broken systems.
I did these numbers using the UK’s 1TWh per day average for a week, as we can have dark cold Februaries with no wind for a freezing High Pressure week.
The cost is £50Billion PER ANNUM per TWh capacity to keep buying the batteries necessary as required. So if we had half renewables supported by batteries, not gas, it would cost us £175Billion per annum. You could build enough nuclear power stations to power the whole grid at a level of up to 45GW for 60 years with that much cash.
WE also save on all the replacement batteries that follow after the first 8 years, 7.5 lots, saving 7.5 times another £175 Billions for other productive things. Another £1.3 TRILLION wasted on something that generates no energy, uses massive millions of tonnes of non recyclable resources, all to cope with a the problems of weak intermittent renewables that in fact will never scale to the level required to power our national grid, and are fiscal suicide to try becauase of the intermittency costs. Roughly ten times the generation cost. Bonkers.
I wrote this up as a paper gowing over all the physics and engineering issues of renewable enrgy – energy density, intermittency and sustainability. Renewables make no sense at developed economy levels of energy use on any of these measurements.
BUTI THINK YPOU UNDERESTIMATE THE COST FOR CALIFIRNIA.
While I don’t disagree with your approach or the scale of such a nonsense, which is driven by the enrgy density you can safely store other than in primary combustion fuels molecular binding energy or atomic binding energy for nuclear power. Your numbers are way out compared to anything I have seen. Far too cheap.
The biggest Tesla power banks sell for around $90M Au. for 130MWH in Australia. I make that $63K US so the price is closer to $500/KWh. I have seen Utility level prices of US $600/KWh – in the US. Where did $200/KWh come from?
In the UK the smaller domestic powerwalls are over $600/KWh.
It is also worth making the point that this cost recurs every 8 years, if you are lucky, and if you only use the Li-Ion batteries between 80% and 20% charge, as Tesla recommend for full life expectancy. Which means the duty factor drops to 60%.
So I suggest your one time cost is out by factor of at least 2.5 on price and 1.7 on duty cycle.
Hence your reality on my basis is over 4 times your estimate, if my numbers are correct.
It’s worse than you thought! Even madder than your first sum. And an additional cost that is wholly unnecessary if you use nuclear generation, which need no backup, is zero CO2, has lowest resource use of all in terms of construction and land use per KWh, and the lowest CO2 per GW in construction. and lasts 60 years. And produces no CO2.
Which in fact doesn’t matter as the climate data shows change to be largely natural and the Chinese will keep burning more and more fossil fuels, perhaps less polluting coal and more clean gas. Followed by a developing Africa.
That was my question, where did the $200 come from?
OK, retail price inc tax and delivery, but on ebay UK, there is a 2.4kWh battery pack for £890
ebay uk here
To get any significant lifespan out of it, it will need to be de-rated to about 60% – to all intents doubling the price.
That’s expensive but it comes in a sexy black metal case.
Cheapest Lithium batteries I can find is a job-lot of new, unused and unwanted laptop battery packs – you get 50 packs for £325. Again inc UK tax at 20% and delivery.
With 6 cells in each of those packs you get 300 ‘18650’ cells at 10Wh each.
Thus gets you 3.0kWh nameplate capacity for £325 = £90.27 per kWh before UK tax
Run them at 50% of nameplate to hope that you’ll get 5,000 cycles, each kWh will cost you £0.036 per cycle per kWh in storage costs, before tax and obviously before any/all elecktrikery to put in them.
Did I go wrong there, doesn’t seem toooo bad.
Especially as somewhere I read recently said that UK electricity is gonna rise in price by 13% come this October.
Start with current price of £0.18 per kWh, that’s a rise of £0.02 per kWh
I want outta here, really I do.
I looked at the bumpf on your 2.4kWh battery pack.
Funny enough it’s free delivery in the UK, but chinky writing betrays it’s made in PRC, with a Shanghai address…
So once you have poured loads of diesel oil into machines to extract the lithium, then transported it around the world to China, they then send it half way back around the world in containers on ships burning oil, .
…unloaded by cranes and wazzed in and out of the ports the same way then stuck on a lorry burning more oil to get it to the sellers, who then do the same to send it to whoever wants to buy one.
I simply don’t get it.
Getting a Lithium battery to some greeny who wants to claim electric virtue for 8yrs involves burning more fossil fuel than battery could ever claim to save, (they even admit 50% duty cycle, so forget the 2.5kw/h) never mind attempting to recycle it!
“… full life expectancy …”.
An important point often overlooked and same applies to all the wind and solar hardware given their relatively short effective lives, not to mention their relative maintenance and safe disposal costs in energy and mere currency.
The $200/kWh is the projected cost for the batteries in 2030 but does not include the auxiliary equipment and site installation. No one today could provide an installed, commissioned utility scale storage system for less than $400/kWh. Elon soaked the Aussies for $900/kWh for the system that solar fans love so much. But no reason to quibble, the fact remains that lithium battery storage costs 10X more than the solar panels per whatever unit of measurement used for a few days of cloudy weather. RE (Ruinous Energy), totally economically inefficient and Biden/Harris/Schumer/Pelosi will be spending at least $1/2 trillion on it before the low information voters realizes they’ve been duped (if ever).
I will be surprised if the amount of storage required to utilize 100% renewables will ever be economical. I’ve certainly never seen a credible analysis that will show how it could work. I don’t expect the environmentalists to do this, but I can’t understand why the utility companies and other corporations aren’t pointing this out.
When the do, they get cancelled.
Agreed – the utility companies and the oil and gas companies need to develop a joint strategy – perhaps a 24-hour “no-supply” period would be a good start. I suppose they have been worried about their reputations thus far, but since the Greenies and politicians have done their best to destroy any vestige remaining of their reputation, they may as well act hard-ball. With no mention of the added requirement of all of those mandated EVs, the situation would be much much more dire than described. Go for it, if you don’t want to live in a communistic cave!
I analyzed the gamut of storage possibilities some years ago in essay California Dreaming in ebook Blowing Smoke. There was not even a glimmer of realistic grid scale hope on the horizon. There still isn’t.
Public utilities are regulated by the politicians. Said utilities are guaranteed a profit based upon their investment costs. You do the math.
Yep, MN pays Excel energy to dream up stupidity. Excel doesn’t care…they get paid.
Government tyranny, the power to tax is the power to destroy. If a corporation doesn’t toe the RE (Ruinous Energy) line they get punished with boycotts from the lefties (or their business burned down), punitive regulations, taxes and fees. Have you heard of “sue and settle”?
On the other hand regulated utilities love RE, low interest loans and guaranteed rate of return on all capital expenditures, Oh did I forget to add investment and production tax credits and accelerated depreciation allowances? This can only end badly.
Don’t confuse me with facts.
I have no idea where this battery cost of $200/kWh comes from, maybe EVs or Powerwalls, which are simple? EIA collects stats on grid scale battery arrays and the average over the last few years has been about $1500/kWh, making the cost 7.5 times that calculated in the article. Supplying just a few cloudy, low wind, high demand days would cost trillions of dollars.
See my piece on this at
I wonder what it would have cost to keep the UK functioning over the past 6 weeks if all the plans to convert the whole economy to renewable electricity had come to pass, and how will we replace the solar panels, windmills and batteries when the reach the end of their service life?
/s maybe hand the whole country over to China to run. At least we still have plenty of coal to fire the power stations that they would no doubt build.
just take a look at the UK government report showing energy usage by sector.
by their own numbers , and just from looking at the graphs, one can see that to replace the car fleet by electric, and the hydrocarbon usage by renewables, one can see that generation (and distribution ) needs to go up by a factor of between two and three times….
The point I would like to make is that these so-called “renewables” are not in any way, shape or form renewable. Windmills and solar panels are not recyclable, nor are the lithium ion batteries proposed to back them up.
In fact, the combined wind, solar, and battery systems are net energy NEGATIVE. They take more energy to produce and operate than they will ever produce in their lifetimes.
How do I know this? Simple, show me a single wind, solar, or battery manufacturer using solely the production of their systems to manufacture more systems.
Go ahead, I’ll wait. They simply do not exist.
It is like a complex Rube Goldberg perpetual motion machine. It will never make any net energy, but it will steal all our money to produce it.
Here’s a link to an NREL report claiming less than 4 years to energy payback for photovoltaic arrays. They are showing projected future improvements, but the current 4 year estimate is based on current production energy costs rather than projections.
And here’s a link to a World Nuclear Association report showing energy payback (energy out/energy in) of hydro, nuclear, solar, wind, coal, and gas at various locations around the world. Solar PV is about the lowest at 2.1
Then why is NOBODY using this marvelous source of energy to produce more of them?
And I note that this NREL report excludes the backup energy sources necessary to operate these systems. Hell, it doesn’t even include the energy consumed by making the power inverters, copper cables, and transmission lines needed to make them work.
The largest silane gas (SiH4, the precursor chemical needed to make photovoltaic silicon) production facilities in the world are all located near massive hydroelectric generation facilities. Gee, I wonder why that is?
For the same reason all ethanol plants are located next to large natural gas pipelines.
I did a similar calculation for the UK in the halcyon days of 2050 when we are powered entirely by renewables, and the storage medium that we use is Hydrogen which we use to fuel heat pumps and generate grid electricity to fuel our all electric car fleet . All of our needs to maintain a lifestyle commensurate with todays would need 300 GW of 24/7 electricity. To enable that, assuming that
1) our wind turbines operate at 40% capacity factor
2) our storage medium( Hydrogen works t about 50% efficiency 70% to electrolyse water and 70% efficiency in generating electricity)
we need an installed capacity of 1200 GW of wind turbines That is 120,000 x 10 MW turbines which w must install at the rate of 10 per day to achiebe the goal of net zero by 2050 that our nincompoop rulers have set for us
It is simple maths , just like the writer of the article used but beyond the wits of the ruling morons to do we will freexze in totalitarian dark under the boot of the tryrant and we wished it all upon ourselves
Never mind. Mustnt grumble!
“That is 120,000 x 10 MW turbines which w must install at the rate of 10 per day to achiebe the goal of net zero by 2050 that our nincompoop rulers have set for us”
The windmills installed between now and 2030 (or 2035 if floating offshore) will need to be replaced in the period before 2050. Is this a clue as to where those hundreds of thousands of green jobs are coming from? (Chinese jobs, that is.)
When I suggested a solar power generator provide storage it was because the way rules were written for solar power, rooftop panels were often paid a retail price for a wholesale commodity whose wholesale price fell when generation was the highest and rose when generation fell off. So I’m really talking about is just the daily generation/use cycle mismatch, in other words the duck curve. Stored electricity could be sold to the grid when it’s value was highest and you could have a chance at real market rather than a fantasy one. It would also transfer the risk and cost to the generator rather than customers.
For grid scale generation battery storage makes little sense but pumped hydroelectric would make lots of sense particularly given the states topography and the fact that 14% of the state’s electricity goes into moving water. Lift and hold water during the day in reservoirs, let it through hydro generators down into population centers in the evening when demand is high. These systems have been used for years on the TVA for nuclear plants which generate constant power to operate efficiently but the demand fluctuates in a predictable fashion.
The craziest and cruelest thing about green power is the “certainty” that was written into regulations. “Certainty” is really a euphemism for guaranteed profitability. Put risk back where it belongs and make generators supply power when it’s needed so has value, even if just during a normal daily generation/demand cycle to start.
The greens almost hate flooding valleys for water reservoirs as much as they hate hydrocarbons. No pumped storage allowed, forget it.
Why is the level of green funding biased towards generating capacity and not transmission efficiency and demand reduction? Why not better compressors, power converters and amplifiers, more efficient motors, etc. Do they expect industry and engineers to do that naturally.
Aren’t all these near efficient already?
Industry and engineers have been doing that on their own since the first generator was built.
Behind the Rise of U.S. Solar Power, a Mountain of Chinese CoalReliance on coal-fired electricity to produce solar panels raises concerns in the WestBy Matthew Dalton
July 31, 2021
They are just not getting close to sounding a muffled alarm about this in green country stupidity lands.
You have not factored in the cost of upgrading the power grid or any replacement cost of batteries and panels with relatively short life spans. Also you need to account for at least double this capacity as all vehicles and other macines currently using liquid fuels are converted to electricity. There are not enough reserves of lithium and cadmium in the world to build batteries big enough for California, let alone the rest of the world, so storage costs are going to rise astronomically. Your estimates are way too low. But what is the point, it is all a fantasy, not physically possible to do no matter how much money they are willing to waste.
Going forward, people should plan on extended outages in CA.
BATTERY DISASTER SHOWS THE FUTURE.
A toxic blaze at the site of Australia’s largest Tesla battery project is set to burn throughout the night:
The fire broke out during testing of a Tesla megapack at the Victorian Big Battery site near Geelong. A 13-tonne lithium battery was engulfed in flames, which then spread to an adjacent battery bank.
More than 150 people from Fire Rescue Victoria and the Country Fire Authority responded to the blaze, which has been contained and will be closely monitored until it burns itself out.
“If we try and cool them down it just prolongs the process,” the CFA’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ian Beswicke said.
“We could be here anywhere from 8 to 24 hours while we wait for it to burn down.”
The Tesla battery was expected to become the largest battery in the southern hemisphere as part of a Victorian Government push to transition to renewable energy.
In Orwell’s 1984 Winston Smith listens to a minister triumphantly announcing the production figure of boots while quietly reflecting to himself that for all he knows no boots at all were produced.
The Soviet bureaucracy was too afraid to report the awful truth and that led to the final collapse.
That’s what’s happening in the UK where technocrats are either very stupid or lying to the government who seem to be oblivious of the enormous cost burden of their ‘net zero’ policies, if implemented would bankrupt the country.
no need of if implement “would” bankrupt the country, it’s already happening.
I as an expat exporter am doing my utmost to avoid buy anything there any more…including high value machining and engineering services.
Bojo had good training as mayor of London.
Brexit has now entirely ruined the transport industry, and without that importing and exporting has become nightmarish, exactly just like the previous stuff,-
“three secondhand water cannon,
“the aborted Garden Bridge, the Orbit tower in the Olympic Park” and more.
promised to totally eradicate rough sleeping on the streets of London by 2012,- “Rough sleeping has more than doubled”..
Ticket Offices promised there would “always be a manned ticket office at every station.”
Result: Boris closed all of them.
Promise: Boris was first elected on a fact that Londoners “pay the highest fares in Europe,” before immediately introducing a series of inflation-busting fares increases.
Result: Bojo increased fares by on average 4.2% and then raised them in line with inflation in subsequent years. Overall the cost of a single bus fare increased by two thirds with him.
Promise: -restore the iconic open-platformed “hop-on, hop-off” buses to London, promised, be staffed by a new army of old-fashioned bus conductors.
Result: spent hundreds of millions of pounds commissioning a new fleet of “Routemaster-style” buses… all the promised ‘open rear platforms’ on the buses were fitted with doors
The promised old-fashioned bus conductors were never re-hired due to the fact that Oyster and contactless cards made their job obsolete.
a promise to tackle London’s crippling congestion, by “re-phasing traffic lights, allowing motorcycles in bus lanes …
Result: Congestion increased significantly.
Bojo elected on a promise not to raise the congestion charge, saying “I would certainly not allow the congestion charge to go up above £8”.
Result: Boris raied the congestion charge in both his first and second term. It now stands at £15.
Bike hire schemePromise: “broker a deal with a private company to bring thousands of bikes to the capital at no cost to the taxpayer.”
Result: promise “at no cost to the taxpayer” was not delivered, either in his original sponsorship deal with Barclays, or in his subsequent deal with Santander.
The scheme continues to operate at a loss.
Santander Cycles in London Hiring a Santander Cycle costs £2 for unlimited journeys up to 30 minutes, within a 24 hour period.
For journeys longer than 30 minutes, you pay £2 for each additional 30 minutes.
Fire servicePromise: denied he had any plans to cut fire engines or fire stations,
Result: Bojo closed ten fire stations across London and removed 27 fire engines from service.
Fourteen of these were removed permanently.
Fire response times rose in many areas of London, no doubt contributing to the death toll in the subsequent devastating Grenfell Tower fire.
Police OfficersPromise: In 2012, Bojo sent a list of nine promises …..Number four on the list was “Making our streets and homes safer with 1,000 more police on the beat”.
Result: The number of police officers on London’s streets DID
not rise. Knife crime has now risen to now record levels, –
In 2019/20 the number of knife crime offences recorded in London reached almost 15.6 thousand, an increase of around 5.8 thousand offences compared with 2015/16,
Since 2015/16 the crime rate in the United Kingdom capital has increased in every reporting year, with the steepest increase occurring between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
… on his failure to increase police numbers back in 2013,
Boris claimed that any suggestion he had actually promised 1,000 more police officers was a “wilful misconstruction”.
Cabinet-style governmentPromise: – promised to introduce cabinet-style government to “strengthen the decision-making process in City Hall”.
“The Cabinet will meet on a regular basis, formal minutes will be taken, and the full agenda papers will be put on the Mayor’s website.”
Result: No mayoral cabinet was ever set up.
Cabbies…promised to set up a “cabbies cabinet” to deal with the concerns of London taxi drivers.
Result: Plans for a formal cabbies cabinet were were scrapped in 2013 City Hall’s relationship with the London taxi trade continued to deteriorate
culminating in large disruptive protests both inside and outside City Hall.
There is plenty more..
Just do the arithmetic.
200k to rebuild his kitchen….
No education could be finer training for lying with ex-Eton and Harrow boys.
I think it is most unfair to attack Bojo using facts!!
And what happens to this model when everyone is mandated to be charging their e-vehicle? Asking for friend…
Not clearly discussed is the extra generation you will need to charge those batteries. Your existing resources plus new ones will be used to meet max demand which leaves no energy to charge your batteries. So you will need additional solar panels to charge them. You already need 6 times what is already available just to met the daily light demand. Now you have to build new panels to charge your batteries. You have got a lot more panels to build which will take up an incredible amount of land. Who will want that in their back yard? Anyone with half a brain can see how this will never work.
“ Anyone with half a brain can see how this will never work.”
I think I see the problem, 4 leftists together don’t add up to 1/2 a brain
You need enough panels to supply the 30GW load during the day while charging the batteries for the evening peak and overnight needs
So you need ~3x as many panels as discussed here
And lets not forget that batteries will be 75 to 80% efficient, thus you will need even more generating capacity to cover that.
I must have missed something, but there doesn’t appear to be enough solar megawatts to recharge the batteries or whatever storage system will be used if it is only the 840 MWH production. My guess is that you will need close to triple the daily demand to cover recharge including all the losses in battery efficiency, conversion equipment, etc. I am not an electrical Engineer, so explanations welcome.
V good article.
I suggest a follow on article which adds the “social cost of intermittency” to the analysis. The social cost of intermittency includes the value of:
One will find the social cost of intermittency DWARFS the social cost of carbon.
I also suggest a real life demonstration of intermittency’s intolerable social cost. Force green energy advocates to function solely using green energy and to pay green energy’s full costs while doing so. Six months experience (from mid summer to mid winter) should suffice to convince many about the error of their ways. Half wits may need a full twelve months;-}
15 mill cars. 70 kWh each. 1 TWh storage. Problem solved.
Stop being so negative and just BELIEVE HARDER and we can do it!
there was a big Tesla battery fire in Australia.
We have a pumped storage scheme in Wales, water is pumped up hill to a reservoir when there is excess power, and let out through turbines when there isnt. I dont know what the cost is, but apart from evaporation and leaks it can store energy for long periods.
I dont know what its efficiency is though, I imagine about 70% at best. Possibly a lot worse.
And with efficiency that bad, you end up needing not 15 times, but 30 times capacity.
And, too few potential pump storage sites exist in most countries. Also, think of the environmental degradation caused by building dams, transmission lines …
How many square miles is that?
It seems crazy how Hydro and Natural Gas are just so ‘bad!’, let the crusade be just against coal for now until modular nuclear like NuScale comes to fruition. With the base load on nuclear, peaking power being natural gas when not enough solar.
For California operating desalinization plants from excess solar during the day, then off for the evening peak load, back on during the low demand night
Has the production capacity been taken into account, which is required to fill the storage?
Misleading to state $200/kWh, that’s only the battery and does not include site preparation, delivery, interconnections, switching, auxiliary systems including fire suppression, etc. Current cost for a commissioned operating system is at least $400/kWh. Elon’s Australia battery, that the eco’s love, was $900/kWh