We Should Not Compare Electricity Sources Using Nameplate Ratings

Misleading are the public relations efforts intending to make people feel good about weather dependent electricity from wind and solar “taking root” and “replacing” traditional continuous uninterruptable means of making electricity.

By Ronald Stein  Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, Irvine, California

Tom Stacy Electricity System Analyst / Consultant, Ohio

Comparing nameplate ratings of various electrical generating powers sources is comparable to using IQ as the only or most appropriate measure of the value of an employee to the company he or she works for…  If everyone had the same health level, skillset, and work ethic, it might suffice.  But we don’t.  And neither do different kinds of power plants.

For those of us who focus on the costs and benefits of various kinds of power plants within a grid system, it appears there has been an orchestrated effort through media, advertising, and public relations – even government agencies – to mislead the public about the value proposition of wind and solar. 

One of the most glaring examples is the persistent use of “nameplate rating” (generating capacity) of breezes and sunshine as a benchmark of value and comparison.  Nameplate rating itself is not a reflection of the contribution of energy or reliability to a grid system.

In the 20th century “nameplate rating” was a reasonable proxy for contribution to meeting peak demand whenever that peak may occur.  Put another way, all prevalent power plant types could be turned on and run – up to their “nameplate rating” – whenever they were needed (aside from scheduled time for major maintenance or upon some small chance of unexpected breakdown) because they were able to manage their fuels.

For these tried-and-true technologies whose fuel availability is determined by human ingenuity and learning/adapting, it is common to de-rate nameplate rating by only about 10 to 15% to arrive at a “capacity value” or “system adequacy contribution” value (in reliable, on demand watts). This value for each power plant is added together across a system and the sum expected to meet maximum system demand (called peak load) with about ten to fifteen percent more as a “reserve margin” to avoid potential blackouts caused by unexpected generator outages or unexpected high demand.

The amount of reserve margin is a trade-off between the risk of black-outs (and other system reliability issues) and costs.  So “right sizing” system “adequacy” is important to keeping electricity rates low because power plants cost far more to build and maintain than all the fuel they will ever consume over their lifespans. Accordingly, too many power plants are indeed too many because they are expensive to build, and therefore they rely on adequate revenue from their productivity to pay for themselves and produce a return on investment over several decades.

A 90 percent System Adequacy Contribution per watt of Nameplate Rating is fair and common across conventional types from coal to gas to nuclear.  But wind and solar are different compared to technologies that have ‘Firm’ capacity.  Their “fuels,” solar radiation and breezes, cannot be managed – i.e., consistently delivered and converted to electricity – and will never be. This is especially critical at the times demand is greatest.  Therefore, they do not significantly replace the most expensive component of the cost of electricity: dispatchable power plants.  Instead, they sap market share, gross margin percentages and revenue from the dependable fleet they can only pretend they can replace.

Just as problematic as renewables’ fundamental inability to generate at highest demand times is that these “intermittent fueled generators” often generate most when less power is needed by society, creating an undervalued market price for all electricity producers – sometimes lower than it costs them to generate (known as marginal cost), and far lower than the all-in cost to maintain system adequacy considering loan payments, payroll and other monthly expenses which must be met by all power plants.

For wind and solar “nameplate rating” is neither a measure of expected electricity generation over time nor their contribution to system reliability. Yet time and time again we see government entities, grid operators and especially news media spouting GENERATING CAPACITY (nameplate rating) in comparisons with conventional generating technologies.

Using nameplate capacity to compare technologies is misleading people into believing that weather dependent electricity can “replace” technologies that can manage their fuels when they cannot. This kind of reporting and public relations is, intentionally or not, biased toward intermittent generation. It’s sad when done by the media and public relations, and worse when done by a government agency.

However, with respect to cost comparison, US Department of Energy EIA states it clearly in their annual levelized cost of electricity reports, imploring:

 “The duty cycle for intermittent renewable resources, wind and solar, is not operator controlled, but dependent on the weather or solar cycle (that is, sunrise/sunset)..(and so) their levelized costs are not directly comparable to those for other technologies..” ……………………………..              

PJM, the largest wholesale electricity market operator in the world seems to agree in this statement describing the priorities in their most recent renewables transition study: Correctly calculating the capacity contribution of generators is essential: A system with increased variable resources will require new approaches to adequately assess the reliability value of each resource and the system overall.”

This speaks directly to the importance of accurate system adequacy contribution comparisons between different generating technologies as the headline metric of value – instead of nameplate rating.

The correct two metrics of comparison between intermittent and dispatchable power plants that should supersede the use of nameplate rating are:

1) system adequacy contribution (in MWs) and

2) annualized electric energy generation (in MWhs)

Unfortunately, as PJM indicates, the methods of estimating system adequacy contribution are also controversial.  The most widely used metric is “the old approach”, or ELCC (effective load carrying capability).  That metric would be helpful if all generating technologies were symbiotic and not parasitic.  In other words, ELCC fails to consider that wind and solar readily depress the financial viability of the existing dispatchable fleet that renewables require to remain, and that ELCC uses as a basis for the calculation of the system adequacy contribution of the “parasitic” renewables!  In essence the metric isn’t well suited for an energy mix where competitive technologies aren’t direct substitutes for each other.  ELCC is subtly circular in its reasoning since renewables have become politically favored into deployment and undermine the financial solvency of dependable power plant investments. 

A better way of estimating system adequacy contribution looks at recent historical generating patterns of renewables in the context of the load patterns and amplitudes they might serve, independent of the existing generation mix.  We favor one called “Mean of Lowest Quartile generation across peak load hours (MLQ) suggested by the market Monitor in its 2012 SOM report on MISO. 

Realistically, by this metric, the following shows both nameplate capacity (outlined, not color-shaded) and system adequacy contribution (color-shaded) of the US electricity mix as of the end of 2018.

In using the wrong bases of comparison between power plant types, governments, market operators and image-obsessed companies are ignoring prudent economics and physics, placing the importance of the notion of a cleaner, self-sustaining world dependent on the weather for power ahead of real priorities like an affordable, abundant, and reliable electricity grid system, in accordance with FERC’s mission, to support human flourishing.

Renewables only “take root” because governments, market operators, utility regulators and misguided Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors – misguided only in that they do not account for how the Grid actually works, as discussed above – seek an unrealistic pace and impetus of “energy transition.” These push modern civilization toward reaching an economy like we had in the 1800’s and prior – the last time the world was “decarbonized”. 

Ronald Stein, P.E.                                            Tom Stacy
Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure       Electricity System Economist


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January 29, 2022 10:25 pm

The fundamental falsehood is that these energy sources are renewable. the second greatest lie is that they are carbon-free. Once one is taken in by either or both of those, power-ratings salesmanship goes down easy.

There is no “renewable” energy source that is not utterly dependent on cheap fossil fuel for raw material, manufacture, operations, maintenance, and waste disposition.

Reply to  dk_
January 30, 2022 1:16 am

and the base-load provided by coal/nat/fiss necessary to ensure it’s paltry fraction ‘arrives’ to consumers.

A scary lesson is that, for the most part, the money spent on ‘renewable’ power generation would better serve and produce far better results if used to properly reconfigure older power systems that stupidly trunk the 3 phases too closely resulting in not only parasitic losses but excessive wear due to amperage increases on almost all hardware operating in large older cities. The reason equipment says “115” “120” and “240” is because it is designed for and works best at those voltages and feeding houses with two 97v legs of AC is just about as acceptable as selling new cars equipped with tires that cannot retain pressure about 26psi.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Prjindigo
January 30, 2022 7:43 am

‘110’, ‘120’ are the limits while’115′ is the control point aka set point….its actually not as most setpoints are ‘117’or ‘118’, varying by time of day to anticipate the expected load. ’97’ v is well into brownout territory, overheating motors and scrambling many electronics.

Dan DeLong
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
January 30, 2022 10:49 am

Being the nerd that I am, I regularly monitor system voltage in my house. At the moment of this writing, I see 122 Volts. Since moving to Texas a few years ago, the measured voltage has never varied by more than a few volts, When I lived 20 years in the Mojave desert in California, typical voltage was about 110, frequently dropping lower than 105V. Occasionally, it dropped below 100V. During the time I lived in Mojave, large wind farms and solar arrays were developed, and voltage fluctuations got worse, not better.

Just one person’s observations

PS the higher voltage is always 2X the lower number, as determined by the power panel in your house. Several years earlier, I had a new house built in Maryland. I measured about a 10V difference between the legs. I called the power company and their crew agreed they had a high resistance leg, whereupon they switched the high resistance leg to the neutral and drove away.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Dan DeLong
January 30, 2022 11:31 am

The 105 was an overloaded leg, they could have changed the tap position on the nearest pole mounted transformer unless it was already maxed. A 10v differential between the legs is also a sign that 1 leg is carrying more load, not necessarily resistance as it could (likely is ) an inductance load (i.e. too many motors on that leg)
The higher # is the sum of the 2 legs, not necessarily 2x but it should be close.
The biggest issue with low voltage in motors is the power draw, lower volts means more current drawn which can overheat them. The big issue with electronics and high/low voltage variations is they may be supplied with 120v ac but they usually run on a multitude of much lower very precise voltages, ac and dc, internally so a supply quality excursion is magnified. They have very tight parameters to run reliably and accurately.
Keep up the observations, it is important to know what your precise inputs are in case of problems. As an aside if you had an oscilloscope when in the Mojave you would likely have noted frequency excursions/fluctuations from the windmills etc. They are notorious for them.

Reply to  dk_
January 30, 2022 5:18 am

Uhh you are the liar here. Renewables are utterly renewable – there is no theoretical limit to supply of energy until our sun burns itself out 5 billion years from now. Nobody claims anything on the planet is carbon free, yet coal and gas plants generate many magnitudes more CO2 than production of solar and wind power. It is gobsmackingly ridiculous to claim otherwise.

The issue is carbon, and carbon is not pollution and does not cause global warming. And in any event global warming is a net positive, not negative as the warmunists claim.

Stick to scientific truths and not wild propagandistic lies that are easily debunked as yours above so clearly are.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 6:02 am

Come on, Duane, you are arguing against semantics.

Indeed, the sun is essentially a limitless supply of energy, however, dk_ followed us by Prjindigo are pointing out the practical realities and inherent flaws of “renewables.” Wind and solar are fundamentally unreliable. They work great until they don’t or they don’t work until they do. One’s life shouldn’t depend on these.

They need backup from reliable energy and indeed their manufacturer relies on reliable energy sources. If they were so great, they wouldn’t need to be forced onto consumers but they do prove that propaganda works.

dk_ was expounding on the topic of this article, the flaw of comparing nameplate ratings, which getting back to thermodynamic principles couldn’t be more true.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 9:19 am

Dude: The sun sets — every gosh darn night — every day — without fail. The wind is a byword for inconstancy. Deal with it.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 30, 2022 10:42 pm

Clouds and fogs are inconstants, too, during day and night..

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 9:19 am

Problem is, that it is not really about CO2. If reducing CO2 were the real goal every utility, every country would be spending the money they are spending on Wind/Solar/Bio/Batteries on NUCLEAR. Nuclear has the lowest CO2 emission, cradle to grave or Mine to “return to nature” than the present allowable mix of “Renewables.”

Use Your Brain, Why did Russia strongly support the Anti-Nuke activists in Germany to get the Nuclear power plants shut down? Answer, Who is Germany buying NG from now and what happens to Germany if they do not get that NG and more this winter? When you figure out that TRUTH, ask your self why the US, UK, etc. are not building only Nuclear and not Wind/Solar? Answer hundreds of companies are making millions of dollars and China is making trillions of dollars selling us and selling us on Renewables, which will not solve the problem while China builds 10 new coal power plant for every one we shut down (numbers are on the net – use duckduckgo or you will not find them). Then we send all of our manufacturing, high energy users, to China. Thus doing nothing about Global CO2 total, just moving US CO2 emissions to China. Will give you my next paycheck if Global CO2 is lower after the AGC crowd force and achieve Net Zero on the US.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 10:12 am


“Stick to scientific truths and not wild propagandistic lies that are easily debunked as yours above …”

So, debunk him already, it’ll be easy … or just keep shillin’.

Your choice.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 11:46 am

Duane your objection is both foolish and incoherent. You are arguing for perpetual motion and against thermodynamics. Show me the wind turbine or PV panel built without fossil fuels. Show me the one of either that has provided any output without additional expenditure of fuel and oil or lasted for more than a couple decades. No one has ever built, run, or maintained any “renewable” energy source for power without fossil fuel materials. Making more fake renewable electrical power capacity will require greater expenditure of fossil fuels, not less, and the devices themselves at best last no more than a human generation.
Stick to engineering and economics and not silly superstion and wishful thinking.

Reply to  Duane
January 31, 2022 4:37 am

Why aren’t they ‘renewing’ the troughs in output Duane while you’re pondering the actual percentage of nameplate capacity-
Wind Energy in Australia | December 2021 | Aneroid
That’s the NEM total for geographically diverse Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas and SA States of Australia and when there’s moonshine that’s all you’ve got to rely on according to the brains trust.

In lithium batteries they trust for ‘firming’-
Monsters of Rock: Pilbara Minerals says carmakers asleep at the wheel as lithium prices continues to accelerate – Stockhead
Work it out Duane or get your pick shovel and barrow ready.

Reply to  dk_
January 30, 2022 4:16 pm

Renewable, green drivers, not generators and associated industry and infrastructure.

Reply to  n.n
January 31, 2022 3:23 pm

nn — trying and failing to parse your comment, I’ll restate what I mean to say in terms that may address the concern: Wind and sunlight are surely as good as limitless. I wish anyone much luck on surviving on them without intervening technology. Anyone who wishes to have civilization is going to have to have some industry and infrastructure to exploit those endless sources of energy as electricity, and none of that technology has ever been built or used without coal, petroleum, and/or natural gas. No PV or wind turbine (the subject of the article) has ever been used solely to create its own replacement. These essential devices are not renewable, and can never be so. “Renewable” fails when the devices wear out. Overall, PV and wind power are nearly as much loss as biofuel — requiring the expenditure of much more fossil fuel than is returned by the operation of the device itself.

Incdentally, nuclear energy isn’t renewable in this sense either, but it has the distinct advantage of being able to produce more timely and useful energy output than is invested in its creation or operation, far outweighing its very real drawbacks.

Carlo, Monte
January 29, 2022 10:37 pm

Voltage, current, and power ratings for PV and wind are needed for safety margins in system designs, they give very little information about possible performance in real applications.

oeman 50
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
January 30, 2022 8:43 am

And while we are discussing ratings, how often do you see a new battery storage system described in MW, not MW Hrs? From my experience, most of the time. This is a bait and switch, because most of them can only delver that rating for 2 or maybe 4 hours. Great help on a winter’s night.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
January 30, 2022 11:16 pm

The proper way to rate power stations is dispatchable power. How many MW can your power station produce (within 5% or 5MW whichever the larger) at 6:00 Thursday or when ever. You have to supply a guaranteed profile to the System Operator say two days in advance – confirmed two hours in advance with penalties for changes. . And you have to pay the cost of replacement generation if you don’t meet dispatch. If you can produce more than dispatch you get curtailed unless the grid needs it. Allow for force majeure to cover breakdowns and trip, but a limit on those.
The unreliables can still be in there but they have to have their own battery banks.
Electricity will be cheaper, but will they go for it. No and guess why?

January 29, 2022 10:46 pm

I wish the authors had run this piece thru a high school study group before publishing it. The language is ok for most college engineering graduates, but not for the general public.
Most readers eyes will glaze over after the first 2 paragraphs…
Follow the KISS principle, “ Keep it simple, stupid”.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Brad
January 29, 2022 11:25 pm

The problem is that if one has to dumb it down for the general public, you either need masses of explanatory notes or you do a simplistic explanation that totally underplays the complexity of the situation. And you play right into the hands of those who push renewables as the “cheapest” option. It is the detail, not the overview, that causes the complications.
Concepts like the difference between power and energy, how voltage and frequency are interlinked, the reason for power factor correction and dispatchable generation are critical concepts. That without getting into equally critical things like spring washer effect or N-1. You can’t understand how the grid works and the interactions that can occur on a high school science education unless you are one of the exceptional people who can absorb detail. And how many politicians have engineering training, let alone that of HV electrical?
I’ve been in the industry 40 years, yet there are still potentially serious things occurring that have me scurrying back to the textbooks.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Chris Morris
January 30, 2022 12:10 am

Dredging through 50+ year old memory banks I seem to remember that non-resistive loads increase power factor and therefore load. Electronic devices are non-resistive and as far as I’m aware not corrected. As far as I remember the power factor for an AC system is a measure of how much “extra” is used compared to a straight amps and volts calculation.

As EV recharging is an AC to DC process will it increase power factor issues on the grid

Or am I just confuzed

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 30, 2022 9:37 am

Like you, it has been years, but as I recall a power factor of .8 instead of the desired 1.0 typically requires a decrease in load of 20% to compensate for the heating effect VAR load, resistive currents, etc. Usually the Architect Engineer, designer, of the power station will provide the “Operators” with a graph of suitable loading based upon the currents/heat in the generator and the increased cooling needed.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Rich Lentz
January 30, 2022 11:12 am

Don’t forget that if the power factor gets too large, motors trying to come on line may not even be able to start! Not a big deal if you are just trying to run a home air compressor. Much bigger deal if you are trying to start up a production line!

Reply to  Chris Morris
January 30, 2022 4:21 am

The problem is this has to be explained to the public, leaving it so dense and utterly incomprehensible totally defeats that. Leftards use simplistic propaganda for a reason, it bypasses the thinking segment of the brain and goes directly to the feeling segment of the brain. The only way to defeat leftarded enemies of the human race is by using THEIR tactics and weapons against them. This peace is great for people who know what it is about and understand the esoteric terms used in it. For swaying public opinion, it fails. Public opinion is what has to be changed.

Reply to  2hotel9
January 30, 2022 4:46 am

Just the information in Joe Public’s little heads is wrong. Placed there by leftards. I told someone that the Earth dies if CO2 in the atmosphere is halved. Did not compute.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 30, 2022 6:02 am

Simplistic propaganda. It works, as clearly shown by globall warmining.

Rick C
Reply to  2hotel9
January 30, 2022 6:53 pm

Just try explaining this to a typical liberal arts college graduate in the simplest way you can think of and watch their eyes glaze over. The vast majority of the general public are scientifically illiterate and inumerate. They will however be happy to lecture you on gender fluidity, intersectionality and your inherent immutable racism.

Reply to  Rick C
January 30, 2022 8:26 pm

Yes, I get it. Simplistic propaganda works. That is why leftards use nothing but simplistic propaganda. I get it. I got it in 1980.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Chris Morris
January 30, 2022 7:48 am

Absolutely correct! Even people in the industry can have trouble with Power Factor, Inductance,Capacitance, and Resistance. They can be very hard to explain clearly in ‘Plain Language’.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Chris Morris
February 7, 2022 4:20 pm

This article was as dumb as I could make it without misrepresenting the facts. The very narrow topic is a starting point for a discussion of what value and comparison metrics really matter. Sadly, almost none of the comments here are on point, with people talking about just about anything except that nameplate is an antequated and now useless metric of wattage value or comparison since the advent of renewables. SO WE NEED A BETTER METRIC TO COMPARE THE VALUE OF RENEWABLES TO THE VALUE OF DISPATCHABLE POWER PLANTS!!! I would write a follow up article, but I don’t think the topic is simple enough already, and it gets deeper quickly.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Brad
January 30, 2022 12:24 am

Unfortunately, when one thinks of the intelligence level of the average American, then factor in that half the population is even more stupid……

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Brad
January 30, 2022 4:34 am

As a non engineering graduate, I, personally, dissagree. Until I started reading this site- I mostly only “learned” about the “climate emergency” in the MSM. I actually believed that since I never saw anything to dissagree with it, especially here in elitist Massachusetts. But, as with religion and politics, I’ve always wanted to see what all perspectives are so I always read alternative views. A friend pointed me to WUWT. At first I had trouble following the discussions. But after a few years I now can follow them even if I don’t fully understand them. When I now talk to virtually anyone else who doesn’t follow this site- I realize I know far more than they do about climate science and what’s wrong with it.

Though many of the articles are very deep into the engineering and some are deep into the physics of climate science, such as how the climate is modeled- but many articles are easily readable by “the general public”. So, it’s a good mix- the newbies can start off with the easy ones and build up as they learn. Of course there are other web sites which challenge the climate emergency fantasy and some have discussions, but no other site has such a great diversity of commenters – ranging from engineers of all sorts, to scientists of all sorts, to tradesmen (should I say tradespersons?) of all sorts and even a few foresters like me. I find the comments to be the best way to get a grasp of what this “battle” is all about- and it is a battle- a subset of the ancient left/right war over who will run a nation. The MSM makes it seem to be a simple battle between sincere scientists and Trump loving, fossil fuel funded deniers- when in fact, its far more. It’s the put down of the skeptics that is the ultimate reason for me to turn against this climate bullshit- along with the fact that the climate idiots are now trying to stop all forestry. Now that really gets my Italian bad temper raging because I know after 50 years, that GOOD forestry is a great thing contributing much to society and to those who own the land.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 30, 2022 6:20 am

That’s a great perspective. I see it very similarly now also.

As a scientist, my conversion happened during W’s first term. I accepted global warming theory having coming out of academics and despised W for the same reason, blindly accepting these beliefs because they were dominant in that sphere of influence on me.

When W joined the global warming camp, I began questioning what was really going on. This led to my discovery of WUWT and other skeptical sites and my political leaning also changed as a result of this exploration.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 30, 2022 6:52 am

I wish more people would educate themselves as you have done.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Brad
January 30, 2022 3:56 pm

Re: ok for most college engineering graduates

  1. I easily understood (the essential points of) this plain language essay; technical terms were nicely defined by the authors.
  2. I have never taken a single engineering course.


3.GOOD POINT about best practices communication technique — I would suggest that someone at WUWT write an “Executive Summary” for every technical article published.

In the meantime, for anyone wanting a non-engineer’s summary, here ya go 🙂 :

Main Point:

Nameplate capacity of “renewables” is a market-distorting ruse to trick investors into investing in solar and wind.


–Those promoting adoption of solar and wind power (a.k.a. “renewables”) use “nameplate capacity” (maximum megawatts they can possibly produce) to describe their effectiveness. This is inaccurate, mainly because the amount of fuel (sunshine or wind speed which is not too slow and not too fast1) available varies from day to day and even hour to hour. Often, Solar and Wind do not have enough fuel to run at all, much less at full capacity.

–Given the fluctuating supply of Solar or Wind fuel, their nameplate capacity in MWs is a largely useless metric (when talked about all by itself). More meaningful is MWhs (megawatt hours), i.e., the number of hours for which solar or wind can provide their nameplate MWs.

–Conventional power sources can reliably maintain adequate levels of fuel (e.g., coal or nuclear fission) for years (versus mere minutes or hours).

–The price of the “renewables” is worse than mere puffery. It is a market-distorting lie. Their pricing does not accurately report their actual costs (e.g., the cost of expensive battery storage for a solar “farm” and the cost of conventional power spinning back-up). Thus, the levelized costs [of Solar and Wind] are not directly comparable to those for other technologies…” (US Department of Energy EIA) 

–The key is a given power source’s System Adequacy Contribution. The best method of determining this is the MLQ (Mean of Lowest Quartile) generation across peak load hours, i.e.,  “…historical [data] of generating patterns of [solar and wind] … .” (For details see: the market Monitor in its 2012 SOM report on MISO.)

Solar and Wind compared to U.S. reliable power sources in 2018:

Solar energy 3,510/ solar nameplate 27,207= 12.9% of nameplate

Wind actual production 6,019 / wind nameplate 88,316 = 6.8% of nameplate


Coal actual production 256,547 / coal “nameplate” 279,221= 92% of nameplate

Nuclear actual production 99,629 / nuclear “nameplate” 104,793 = 95% of nameplate

(Figure 10 “Firm Capacity … and Nameplate … US … 2018”)

–Renewables only “take root” because governments, market operators, utility regulators … do not account for how the Grid actually works.

1 Power production occurs only when wind speed is greater than 7 mph and shuts down at speeds in excess of 45 mph …

(Source: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-08/documents/wind_turbines_fact_sheet_p100il8k.pdf at page 3)

Last edited 1 year ago by Janice Moore
Tom Stacy
Reply to  Janice Moore
February 5, 2022 12:43 pm

Well stated Janie. Would you like to edit more of my materials before they are published?

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Tom Stacy
February 5, 2022 12:45 pm

But it was not about energy either. Nameplate is not an energy (watt-hours) metric it is a POWER (watts) metric. The proper POWER metric is watts of reliability contribution. All conventional sources: 85% of nameplate. Wind: 5% at best. Solar, 15% at best and dropping like a stone above 5% energy market share (because residual demand net of existing solar occurs after dark). Energy is a separate matter as evidenced by its separate markets at grid operator auctions. Te world has always looked at nameplate for power and MWh/year for energy (or energy market share). Reliability contribution is watts the important power metric, not nameplate. And reliability is analog to fixed cost while energy is analog to fuel cost (variable cost). And fixed costs are double to triple what variable costs are over facility lifespans, so it is reliable capacity that levers rates far more than fuel cost… Society doesn’t get it. Do all of you?

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Stacy
Tom Stacy
Reply to  Tom Stacy
February 7, 2022 4:24 pm

Silence speaks volumes.

glenn holdcroft
January 29, 2022 11:51 pm

Wind and the sun can provide free energy some of the time ,
but the cost of collecting and distributing that electricity into the grid and homes does not come cheap . Reality will bite the voters eventually when trying to pay their power bills during a black or brown out .

Reply to  glenn holdcroft
January 30, 2022 4:24 am

Not when the YSM (Yellow Stream Media) is telling the voters that natural gas (or coal) was the cause of the blackout or brown out (cf Texas).

Peta of Newark
January 29, 2022 11:54 pm

Sorry people but our ‘Ambassador’ needs a crash course in Self Awareness.

Has he ANY IDEA of what he reveals about himself with the first paragraph – raving on about IQ and Intelligence?
In this Modern Age, you don’t talk to people like that. You don’t start conversations by implying/telling/asserting how clever you are, relative to your listener, thus implying how dumb they are.

There are myriad more and varied examples he could have used – such as you wouldn’t buy or use a Formula One racing car to ‘do the school run‘ or to ‘pop down the shops for a carton of milk’
Maybe ‘Ambassadors’ do do that, e.g. whenever the chip on his shoulder needs replacing?

Maybe the word ‘ ambassador’ means something different in the US to what it does in the UK but, I’m sorry. no no no. Ditch this guy.
(He’s never come out with anything of real substance anyway)

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 12:53 am

You picked up the wrong end of the stick regarding the authors’ opening discussion of IQ. If anything it’s the opposite of what you implied – they criticise the characterisation if people by IQ alone. But you didn’t read any of the article, just seeing “IQ” triggered your misguided response.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phil Salmon
Reply to  Phil Salmon
January 30, 2022 1:29 am

That’s disingenuous; all of Peta’s responses are misguided by wrote immaterial of the content of an article or post. Blind agenda.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 4:51 am

Peta, I often agree with your views. However the word salad you employ does you no favours.

Mark Whitney
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 7:11 am

In the “Modern Age” you apparently talk to people by completely ignoring what they say and focus on how they said it, then ramble on about how clever you are relative to your target.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark Whitney
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 8:31 am

Why do I get the impression that Peta saw the letters IQ, and stopped reading.

Had you stuck around to read the rest of that paragraph, you would have found out that the author did none of the things you accuse him of.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 10:18 am

“… you don’t talk to people like that. You don’t start conversations by implying/telling/asserting how clever you are….”

Yes, you do.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 11:44 am

You have gone off the rails here. You don’t even paraphrase what point authors were trying to make.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 7, 2022 4:27 pm

I would beg to differ, obviously… The topic needs analogies in order to make its point to most. As clever as I am, I don’t have to TRY to make it obvious to people. And yes, I am a Person Eating Tasty Animals. (check mark)

January 30, 2022 12:41 am

Well you can easily look up % of annual demand met – above 40% for several European nations and rising.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 1:03 am

Well you can easily look up % of annual demand met – above 40% for several European nations and rising.”

And you can equally easily look up the ever-rising price of electricity to consumers in those self-same European nations. “Renewable” it may be, but it certainly ain’t cheap. 

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 2:14 am

Yesterday at this time, 10am, in GB wind produced 44% of required electricity.
Today it is providing 4%.
Gas produced / is producing most of the rest.
So, griff, what is your solution to the provision of 100% all the time?

Reply to  Oldseadog
January 30, 2022 4:49 am

Griff has fweelz. Not solutions.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 3:08 am

Cost of electricity is rising exponentially as renewable penetration increases. CO2 hasn’t budged an inch.

Griff, you are an ArtStudent™. actual facts are note your forté unless they support your emotional narrtive.

I calculated the electricity cost for a 100% renewable grid, it was £9800 /MWh

Hinckley point goes on line at £98/MWh. One hundred times cheaper, and less environmentally damaging.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 3:27 am

You need to meet 100% all the time …. a basic fact you always miss 🙂

When Russia turns off the gas to Europe lets talk further.

Reply to  LdB
January 30, 2022 8:34 am

Griff is a perfect example of using averages to cover up his shortcomings.
He is unable (or unwilling) to grasp the concept that average power is meaningless. Unless supply meets demand instant by instant, the grid collapses.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 3:36 am

For capacity planning purposes on an island grid, even if wind supplied 50 % of total demand, you would have, on the other hand, to manage the fact that wind production can disappear for weeks on end. Thus: you can never retire any fossil fuelled plant unless you go totally nuclear/biomass.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Capell
February 7, 2022 4:34 pm

Capell gets it. The cost of underutilized dispatchable power plants caused by renewable energy is well defined and roughly estimated here: https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IER_LCOE2019Final-.pdf The explanations begin on page 26.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 4:28 am

since wind solar and batteries are now so cheap i suggest you try living off grid . you will gain a lot of the practical knowledge that now eludes you .

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 4:48 am

How many times do you need this explaining? You fail to learn anything.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 30, 2022 8:35 am

griff isn’t here to learn, he’s here to push the narrative.

Tom Halla
Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 4:52 am

Griff, there was a large scale test of wind and solar in the Canary Islands, with a large, and rare installation of pumped storage. It was a miserable failure. Weather dependent sources are just that. Thank

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 5:49 am

Which countries Griff.

Data from Eurostat for 2020, can’t think 2021 is available yet.

The share of energy from renewable sources used in transport activities in the EU reached 10.2 % in 2020.

Can’t imagine 2021 will be much different.

From Wind Europe for 2020,

Wind energy met 16.4% of demand across the EU+UK.

Solar not much better, from ember-climate.org

Seven EU countries generated over a tenth of their electricity from solar panels in June-July 2021, with the Netherlands (17%), Germany (17%), Spain (16%), Greece (13%) and Italy (13%) leading the way.

Almost 20% in the summer, when it still switches off at night is hardly setting the heather ablaze.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 30, 2022 12:16 pm

Griffter is (fecklessly) trying to mislead again.

Sweden, leading all of the EU, gets about 56% of its electricity from renewable sources. Of that 56 percent, almost all of that is Hydro power. 47 of the 56 percent. They get only 10% from wind and 0% from solar. Nuclear is 34%.

Finland, in second place, gets 43 percent from renewable sources. Of that, almost all is from wood burning and hydro. Wind is 1.3% and Solar is zero.

Latvia is in third place at 41%. It similarly gets almost all of it’s renewables from hydro and wood. 2% from wind and 0.01% from solar.

There are ONLY 3 EU countries above 40% renewable, and NONE have greater than 10% from wind.

The point is, and griffter has been schooled on this before, is that hydro and wood are limited sources. Hydro is already almost tapped out. Only heavily forested countries can rely on wood and then not for long. Those sources are not going to grow much.

It was disingenuous of Griffter to tout renewables in a discussion on wind and solar power by claiming that “several” EU nations are above 40% renewables when there are only 3 and every one of of those is only that high because of hydro power.

Last edited 1 year ago by meab
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 31, 2022 8:23 am

What griff does is search the data for the highest 5 minutes at any time during the year. Then he proceeds to present that 5 minutes as if it represented output over the entire year.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 6:29 am

Perhaps on even numbered day in odd numbered months, but not on every day which ends in Y.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 7:55 am

Annual % means nothing to the power generation industry when we are focused on your contribution over the next hundred milliseconds.Grids must operate in the “NOW”, not promises for the future.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 8:32 am

And once again, the point sails completely over griff’s pointy little head.

Reply to  griff
January 30, 2022 4:47 pm

Above 40%, and even if that is accurate I would change it to only 40%.

More realistically from continuous monitoring and recording of wind turbine sites in Australia by qualified people revealed an average capacity factor just under 30%.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis
Tom Stacy
Reply to  griff
February 7, 2022 4:31 pm

Well, griff, I believe you would benefit from first understanding the difference between energy and power. Then learn the difference between inrermittent and dispatchable power. Then you might see why your comment betrays your understanding of the electricity system and misses the point of this post entirely.

January 30, 2022 1:11 am

Thus all soothed, in colder weather the more classic dirt-fuel power sources work much more efficiently

January 30, 2022 3:30 am

For the UK grid the solar MLQ is a firm ZERO. it will always be so no matter how much solar capacity you add to the UK grid. As the UK is an island grid solar is therefore pointless. But we knew this already.

The MLQ for wind will not be zero, but almost certainly be below 5 % of nameplate capacity.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Capell
January 30, 2022 4:53 am

and, as I mentioned once before- the UK is at the latitude of Labrador- something Americans don’t appreciate- and it’s a small territory with a lot of people- it’s nuts to cover what open land is left with slave produced solar panels

which reminds me, just the other day, I mentioned the slave produced solar panels on Yale’s “environment 360” blog site- the censor there canceled my post without saying why- I got really pissed off and asked him- he said it isn’t nice to talk about the Chinese that way- not appropriate for discussion- so I emailed the President of Yale about this with a link from a recent NYT article confirming “forced labor” at the Chinese solar panel factories- he forwarded it to the manager of the blog site- who then wrote to me that the censor didn’t know about this- which amazed me, that the censor at an enviro blog site didn’t know that panels are made by slaves- at Yale, no less- so much for prestigious universities with world class scientists- I had demanded to the President that my post be reposted- and it was: https://e360.yale.edu/features/from-fertilizer-to-fuel-can-green-ammonia-be-a-climate-fix

John Garrett
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 30, 2022 5:26 am

Bless you Mr. Zorzin. With respect to Yale, you are in “the belly of the beast.”

Yale 360 is a propaganda operation with no scientific or economic knowledge. They are irrational, innumerate and delusional climate crackpots— beyond redemption.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Garrett
January 30, 2022 5:59 am

yes, though I like reading the articles- gotta know your enemy- and because I read this site, I can deconstruct those articles- I’ve written many there- probably more than anyone else

I can’t be canceled. Twice, the state of Mass. forester license board tried to cancel me because I dared to challenge their policies. Both times I got, get this, the ACLU involved because their primary fight is to defend freedom of speech- and both times they had a lawyer write a ferocious letter to that board, which then dropped the charges. Now, when I bitch at them- they just ignore me, which is fine, as I’m going to continue to let others here in the state know about the lies and propaganda.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 30, 2022 6:31 am

I’m surprised that the word “slave” can still be used at Yale. “Master and slave” are forbidden words on many campuses. Blackboards are to be called chalk boards, etc.

I foresee a time when a certain brand of padlocks is replaced because its name is not politically correct.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Scissor
January 30, 2022 6:39 am

that’s what the censor didn’t like- the word “slave”- but, the NYT article did say that the panels are made by “forced labor”- it didn’t use the word slave- but, not much difference to me- so I used the word slave- as an emphasis :-}

I later thought- that there are millions of Chinese college students in America- the colleges get the full price from them- at the Ivy League colleges, that price is substantial- if the word “slave” offends any, some may bitch to the college. Next time I post such a comment in such a PC arena, I’ll just say “forced labor”- people, most people, know what it really means.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Scissor
January 30, 2022 2:27 pm

My blackboard is black and my whiteboard is white. These two facts are not racist, they are correct descriptions of my writing surfaces. There are now chalkboards that are different colors, instead of the sheets of slate used in previous generations. However, the black ones are still black, and no one uses this term in a racist manner. Only the perpetually “looking to be offended” crowd get excited about this.

Reply to  Scissor
January 31, 2022 8:27 am

Are white boards soon to be forbidden as well?
When I was in school, the blackboard was actually green.
I’ve read that many realtor sites have stopped labeling the largest bedroom as the master bedroom.

PS: Calling the head of the household Master goes back hundreds of years and has nothing to do with slavery.

January 30, 2022 4:27 am

This is an excellent article for people in the industry. For explaining to the public and swaying their opinions on the issue it fails. The average person is going simply see word salad and move on.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  2hotel9
February 7, 2022 4:38 pm

Well, at least I tried to scare the people in the industry into thinking the public could be enlightened by simplifying and narrowing the topic! Alas, I am not a writer. I guess I will stop pretending to be.

January 30, 2022 5:10 am

Sorry – this post totally misstates effective power generation. Only nuclear plants have actually approached 90% effective actual production. Coal plants average only around 60% effective production, which is not far from renewables. Coal plants are highly maintenance intensive, while gas plants are less so.

Also, just because someone theoretically can turn up the throttle does not mean the additional fuel will actually be there. See great Texas freeze where gas compressors they fill froze and failed for several days. Pipelines and coal trains are interruptible.

Also, steam plants operate at lower efficiency when operated significantly below max rated power.

Renewables require far less maintenance than complex mechanical-thermal power plants and suffer far less maintenance down time, and have flat efficiency over a very wide range of operating conditions (sunlight and wind).

Finally the author fails to mention that there is this little thing called “demand” which varies greatly on a predictable cycle which is actually favorable for use of solar and wind power. Electrical demand always peaks in daytime when people are awake and using peak lighting, heating and cooling, and when business, industry, and government facilities are open, operating, and generating peak demand.

Daytime also happens to be the peak generation time for supply of solar and wind.

Renewables clearly have an important contribution to make in supplying peak utility demands, and in fact are better at doing that than any thermal power plant. Solar and wind are not as useful for supplying base load demands since they require additional expensive infrastructure for energy storage.

An efficient grid system uses a combination of base load generation and peaking generation.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 5:42 am

you said “Only nuclear plants have actually approached 90% effective actual production. Coal plants average only around 60% effective production, which is not far from renewables.”

so you are selecting a low efficiency form of electricity production (coal) as the bench mark to reach and compare with your green energy.

that is like saying you got a d+ on a test in school but the lowest grade was an f.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 5:47 am

You can go to ERCOT and see that wind power maxes out at night not during the day. You could access the California data in the same way. If you do you will see that demand peaks in the early evening whereas solar power peaks at noon and is mostly gone just as demand peaks.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Joel
January 30, 2022 9:44 am

And there is no way EV’s can be recharged during the day unless they are at home or every employer builds sufficient capacity to charge the batteries, establishes a use chart, pays for all of this and deducts his expenses and your use from your pay. Estimate six grand per employee to start.

Matt Kiro
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 9:13 am

“Also, just because someone theoretically can turn up the throttle does not mean the additional fuel will actually be there. See great Texas freeze where gas compressors they fill froze and failed for several days. Pipelines and coal trains are interruptible.”

You can’t turn up the throttle at all with wind and solar. You get what nature is providing at the moment. Any well managed coal plant would have access for two weeks worth of coal at a minimum. If trains or ships cant be rerouted in that time, there’s probably something a lot worse than a bad hurricane. Pipelines only seem to be interrupted by dementia ridled politicians or eco-fascists. And if you think they can be interrupted, then so can the thousands of miles of cables needed for all these ‘renewable’ windmills and solar panels.

Have you ever noticed when people really need electricy and heat , is during the worst storms, when they are stuck in their house? Solar and wind do not work at those times. There’s no sun then, so that’s out. And its usually too windy for the windmills to work in these storms. So that’s a no go too.

Its a complete waste of time and money and resources to build these things unless its ideal conditions year round. Besides the fact that Co2 is beneficial to life on this planet.

Robert Cherba
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 10:07 am

The capacity factor for coal plants has been decreasing for years because power controllers in many (all?) states are required to take power from renewable sources first — and because the REs can claim zero or near zero cost of generating the next needed watt — if the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

Before competition from heavily subsidized and mandated REs, newer coal plants ran at near 90% annual capacity factors — off for maintenance about a month every year. Older, less efficient units had much lower capacity factors because they were used during peak periods or running on “hot standby” or as part of the spinning reserve to absorb the load when another unit trips off the line.

As for coal trains being “interruptible,” coal plants, at least those in the north, had large coal piles which could carry them through the winter when ore boats or trains couldn’t operate. That’s one reason coal and nuclear plants are essential to the generator mix — they can operate for extended periods without fuel deliveries.

Reply to  Robert Cherba
January 31, 2022 8:32 am

Nuclear is also one of the last to be “turned down”, because the cost of fuel is lowest for nuclear.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  MarkW
February 7, 2022 4:45 pm

MarkW, you are CORRECT, as far as your comment goes. I suspect you could comment further and be correct. So I will just say, the single clearing price auction design used in wholesale energy markets contains a de facto capacity payment in its progressive gross margin percentage scheme. Therefore the SCP auction needs to be severely modified BEFORE a capacity market band-aid can even think about stopping the bleeding!

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 11:20 am

An efficient grid system uses a combination of base load generation and peaking generation.”

If wind and solar only generate peaking power then of what use are they? It’s far cheaper over time to build a little extra capacity into the fossil fuel generators being used for base load.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 7, 2022 4:49 pm

Tim, wind is neither peaking or base load. It effectively creates the need for more peaking and less base load from the balance of the system. And that has a COST. In essence, it causes the opposite economic outcome of demand management/peak shifting/load leveling. (Which I am not a proponent of either, by the way)

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 2:55 pm

Duane you are so FOS your eyes are brown.

4 Eyes
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 5:31 pm

Renewables clearly have an important contribution to make in supplying peak utility demands, ….

You forgot to add “when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing”

Leaving out some important provisos is downright disingenuous – you can’t use them for peak if you don’t know if they will be available.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  4 Eyes
February 7, 2022 4:50 pm

4 Eyes, that quote Duane posted is amazingly oxymoronic..even more so with the words you added!

Chris Morris
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2022 10:09 pm

You misrepresent coal. Because it can load follow (nuclear effectively can’t) it is used in the ramp periods to match the demand, and backed off at night. That reduces its load factor. Some coal plants (the HELEs for example) run base load and are around 85-90% load factor. We operate geothermal as base load and regularly get 95% load factor on an annual basis.
Renewables DO NOT reliably generate during the day. Look at SA where the spot price varies between 0 and $10k /MWh. Why do you think that happen? Oh that’s right, it has a grid based on wind and solar.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Duane
February 7, 2022 4:41 pm

Duane, you have entirely missed the topic of this article. You are speaking of energy (and actual annual energy generation divided by theoretical maximum ( which is 8,760 hours per year times nameplate rating in MWs – answer is in MWs x hours, or MWHs) Try googling “SYSTEM ADEQUACY CONTRIBUTION”. This article is about POWER. Power and energy are two different things.

Nick Schroeder
January 30, 2022 7:35 am

It’s capacity, MWs, and energy, MWh, that should not be confused.

EIA Total Energy.jpg
King Coal
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 30, 2022 10:09 am

To be absolutely accurate, MW is instantaneous power, MWh is energy, or power over time
Renewables cannot meet MW instantaneous requirements, as they are constrained by nature (wind and sun), hence why they fail to support grid inertia leaving grids susceptible to black outs, thankfully, fossil fuels prop up the grid

Tom Stacy
Reply to  King Coal
February 7, 2022 4:52 pm

King Coal, very good. But MW as a term takes on different meanings (as I am sure you know) as this post attempts to convey.

Rich Lentz
January 30, 2022 8:49 am

it is common to de-rate nameplate rating by only about 10 to 15% to arrive at a “capacity value” or “system adequacy contribution” value (in reliable, on demand watts).”

There is a reason that. There is a “10 – 15%” of de-rate of name plate output. Essentially every form of generation, other than solar, use “10 – 15%” of the generated power to make the things run that are needed to make electricity. Solar also has a problem if used only to charge a battery or pumped storage facility and then discharge that batter/facility when needed. Solar is even worse if only used for battery charging due to the very low capacity factor anywhere outside of the southeast US. Those facilities with the greatest number of environmental regulations are at the top end of the usage and even exceed 15%.
Wind also is at the high end as all of the equipment is running 24/7/365. Some wind turbine locations actually consume more electricity, annually, that they make annually. Look at the annual net generation from off-shore facilities in the North Atlantic. Further north the greater the loss.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Rich Lentz
January 31, 2022 6:13 am

This is not the reason for de-rating. The reason is that plants are shut down for maintenance on a regular basis. If you have a 4 week shutdown for maintenance every year, that’s about 8% right there. The additional margin is for breakdowns or other interruptions to service delivery.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
January 31, 2022 7:21 am

Obviously YOU have never worked at an Electric Utility and if you did/do it is for the cleaning staff.
Capacity Factor includes Outages, forced or planned maintenance, weather related shutdowns and reduced generated power due to river/lake/ocean water temperature used in the cooling system, Also includes EPA requirements restricting generation restricting water temperature increases/decreases or water flow in the river at a hydro plant.
Derating is caused by the simple fact that a power plant uses power. Name plate does not include power used at the power plant. Name Plate generated power is purely a factor of the maximum generation capability of the generator. The Manufacturer of the Generator has no idea how much electricity the power station will use to generate that Name Plate Maximum Electrical power. The company that Manufactures the Generator designs Generators, not Power stations.

Again, a 2-Megawatt Wind Turbine, just like a 2-Gigawatt Nuclear Power Plant uses between “10 – 15%” of the Name Plate power to generate that power. That Power does not come from the Generator spinning in the WT or NPP. It comes from the grid. Thus the effective power delivered to the grid is actually “10 – 15%” less. Use Your Brain, If the generator generated the power that runs the WT how does the WT align itself to collect wind to generate electricity? How does it know what direction the wind is blowing? How does the motor run to turn the nacelle? Similarly, a NPP cannot start up from the electricity generated by the Generator of the NPP. and the same for a Coal plant, Gas Plant, even the typical Hydro generating station – motors are used to open the valves to let the water spin the turbine.

This has been the standard for the 50+ years I have been in the occupation of generating electrical power at every power plant I have worked at.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Rich Lentz
January 31, 2022 11:03 pm

Essentially every form of generation, other than solar, use “10 – 15%” of the generated power to make the things run that are needed to make electricity.

This part of your post is pure…bunkum. If true, then there would be another 10-15% on top of that to account for planned and unplanned outages. I seriously doubt that your association with electrical generation extends any further than occasionally driving by a power station.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 1, 2022 7:32 am

Consulting engineer on the startup of four Nuclear power plants. Nuclear engineer in charge of the initial startup and taking the reactor critical on two of those plants. Verified that the Reactor and Turbine Generator met all NRC performance and safety requirements on two of those plants. Which included performing a calculation of the Efficiency of the NSSS (Reactor & Steam plant) and of the entire plant, This included determining the actual power delivered to the grid and the power consumed by the plant in delivering that power.

You need to obtain some humility and realize that there are people with more knowledge than you think you have.

It does not take a genius to realize that Reactor coolant circulation pumps, Feedwater pumps and Condensate cooling water pumps are BIG and use lots of electricity when pumping water to cool a NPP or a Coal power plant.

Last edited 1 year ago by usurbrain
Tom Stacy
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 7, 2022 5:02 pm

D.J. I agree with that. And furthermore, it has nothing to do with the topic of the article!

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Rich Lentz
February 7, 2022 4:58 pm

Rich, this one you got exactly right except it doesn’t speak to the post (which contends system adequacy contribution is far more important in comparing generator technologies than is nameplate rating). I don’t believe ELCC is a valid metric, but that’s the term you might recognize which is related to the topic of this post (LOLE/LOLP…) Not that doesn’t mean laugh out loud.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Stacy
Tom Stacy
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 7, 2022 4:57 pm

D.J. that’s not it either. Scheduled maintenance occurs outside expected peak demand times/seasons. The 10 to 15% derate reflects the probability a unit might fail to operte when called upon to do so during peak load times over a year and also wet-bulb temperature inefficiencies on hot humid days.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Rich Lentz
February 7, 2022 4:54 pm

Sorry Rich. That’s not what this post was about. Find me on LinkedIn if you want further discussion. Thomas Stacy

January 30, 2022 10:14 am

Thanks to Ronald Stein and Tom Stacy

This is another strong and informative essay/presentation published here on WUWT. Easy to read and understand and gets directly to the point. Anyone who can’t grasp what they have presented should not run for office or have any influence on energy policy or for that matter even be allowed to vote. The latter with regards to voting makes logical sense as utter stupidity should not have an influence on the entire population and economy, especially if the stupid become a majority.

King Coal
January 30, 2022 10:23 am

Great article – as an HV Electrical Engineer with 42 years industry experience, I find the whole renewables will run the grid 100%, 24/7, so laughable!
A 10MW wind turbine will only produce that when the wind is blowing just right, hence, availability and reliability are inherently low – same with solar when the Sun is dim or gone!
Fossil fuels and nuclear are the only reliable, available and affordable energy sources – the only ‘reliable renewable’ source would be tidal, but again, without storage, it is unable to power the grid 100%, 24/7 – simple physics dictates this
Fossil fuel power generation will be with us until nuclear fusion becomes commercially available, then all fossil and renewable energy sources could be replaced by a reliable and available source – although I suppose safety and environmental risks of using nuclear will be the climate alarmists next holy grail!

Rich Lentz
Reply to  King Coal
January 30, 2022 1:22 pm

Many solar users and sellers ignore this important FACT.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  King Coal
January 30, 2022 1:35 pm

Nuclear proponents are exploring the use of oil well drilling techniques and this fact also – “The deepest well drilled in the U.S., the Lone Star Bertha Rogers No. 1, was completed in 1974 as a dry hole in the Anadarko basin in Washita County, Oklahoma. The well was drilled as a wildcat to a depth of 31,441 ft.”

With horizontal drilling after reaching a depth over a mile or so, there should be no problem storing the waste in a location that would be as permanent as the Earth.

Reply to  Rich Lentz
January 31, 2022 8:34 am

There is not and never has been a reason for disposing of nuclear waste.
Reprocess it and the problem goes away, and you recover valuable fuel at the same time.

Kevin kilty
January 30, 2022 11:40 am

I see quite a bit of complaint about this article being too technical or elitist in some way. I found it to be very good, from my perspective, and Figure 10 I am going to copy and keep close for reference in debates and hearings.

January 30, 2022 1:46 pm

Here’s the transcript of Mark Mill’s factual S & W video and it takes about 5 minutes to watch. Please wake up to these TOXIC RUINABLES and their very short 20 year life. SO WHAT ABOUT YOUR ENVIRONMENT????


Have you ever heard of “unobtanium”?
It’s the magical energy mineral found on the planet Pandora in the movie, Avatar. It’s a fantasy in a science fiction script. But environmentalists think they’ve found it here on earth in the form of wind and solar power.
They think all the energy we need can be supplied by building enough wind and solar farms; and enough batteries.
The simple truth is that we can’t. Nor should we want to—not if our goal is to be good stewards of the planet.
To understand why, consider some simple physics realities that aren’t being talked about.
All sources of energy have limits that can’t be exceeded. The maximum rate at which the sun’s photons can be converted to electrons is about 33%. Our best solar technology is at 26% efficiency. For wind, the maximum capture is 60%. Our best machines are at 45%.
So, we’re pretty close to wind and solar limits. Despite PR claims about big gains coming, there just aren’t any possible. And wind and solar only work when the wind blows and the sun shines. But we need energy all the time. The solution we’re told is to use batteries. Again, physics and chemistry make this very hard to do.
Consider the world’s biggest battery factory, the one Tesla built in Nevada. It would take 500 years for that factory to make enough batteries to store just one day’s worth of America’s electricity needs. This helps explain why wind and solar currently still supply less than 3% of the world’s energy, after 20 years and billions of dollars in subsidies. 
Putting aside the economics, if your motive is to protect the environment, you might want to rethink wind, solar, and batteries because, like all machines, they’re built from nonrenewable materials. 
Consider some sobering numbers: 
A single electric-car battery weighs about half a ton. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving, and processing more than 250 tons of earth somewhere on the planet. 
Building a single 100 Megawatt wind farm, which can power 75,000 homes requires some 30,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of concrete, as well as 900 tons of non-recyclable plastics for the huge blades. To get the same power from solar, the amount of cement, steel, and glass needed is 150% greater. 
Then there are the other minerals needed, including elements known as rare earth metals. With current plans, the world will need an incredible 200 to 2,000 percent increase in mining for elements such as cobalt, lithium, and dysprosium, to name just a few. 
Where’s all this stuff going to come from? Massive new mining operations. Almost none of it in America, some imported from places hostile to America, and some in places we all want to protect. 
Australia’s Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for energy materials will take miners into “…remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”
And who is doing the mining? Let’s just say that they’re not all going to be union workers with union protections.  
Amnesty International paints a disturbing picture: “The… marketing of state-of-the-art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks.”
And then the mining itself requires massive amounts of conventional energy, as do the energy-intensive industrial processes needed to refine the materials and then build the wind, solar, and battery hardware.
Then there’s the waste. Wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries have a relatively short life; about twenty years. Conventional energy machines, like gas turbines, last twice as long.
With current plans, the International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that by 2050, the disposal of worn-out solar panels will constitute over double the tonnage of all of today’s global plastic waste. Worn-out wind turbines and batteries will add millions of tons more waste. It will be a whole new environmental challenge.  
Before we launch history’s biggest increase in mining, dig up millions of acres in pristine areas, encourage childhood labor, and create epic waste problems, we might want to reconsider our almost inexhaustible supply of hydrocarbons—the fuels that make our marvelous modern world possible.
And technology is making it easier to acquire and cleaner to use them every day.  
The following comparisons are typical—and instructive:
It costs about the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one giant wind turbine. And while that turbine generates the energy equivalent of about one barrel of oil per hour, the oil rig produces 10 barrels per hour. It costs less than 50 cents to store a barrel of oil or its equivalent in natural gas. But you need $200 worth of batteries to hold the energy contained in one oil barrel.
Next time someone tells you that wind, solar and batteries are the magical solution for all our energy needs ask them if they have an idea of the cost… to the environment. 
“Unobtanium” works fine in the movies. But we don’t live in movies. We live in the real world.
I’m Mark Mills, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, for Prager University.

Reply to  Neville
January 30, 2022 2:07 pm

I wish that Willis or ANYONE would respond to Mark Mills video above and tell us where he’s wrong?
These are TOXIC disasters and aren’t renewables, but are RUINABLES and the TOXIC waste would be an ONGOING disaster and these disasters couldn’t ever cope with heatwaves or blizzards or very dangerous cold temps etc.
Their environmental damage and TOXICITY ( landfill burials every 20 years) are incredible and yet clueless Greenies DON’T CARE?

January 30, 2022 4:15 pm

Solar works on sunny days. Not so much on overcast days. Not at all at night.

So what’s wrong with that?

Well, winter is more overcast, at a time when we need more energy. Snow lands on those panels, too, reducing their output. AT night is when the BIG EV guys figure we’ll all be charging our cars. Oops.

Wind? Those turbines have an ideal windspeed. Too little, and output falls off. Sure, they might turn, but you can’t put much load on them. Too much, and they have to shut them down or risk having them damaged

And the wind? At night we normally have what is called a nocturnal inversion, when the air near the surface of the earth cools and gets heavier and tends to disconnect from the air above it, and the surface winds decrease to pretty much nothing unless it’s stormy. So, at night, little or no power from them.

Weather systems affect the wind. High-pressure systems tend to have little wind once the system settles in, and what sort of weather do we get under a High pressure zone? Clear skies, which means cold winter nights as the small amount of accumulated surface heat radiates out into space, and hot summer days and the overhead sun really cooks us. Those are the two times we need more electricity, for airconditioning and heating. And it ain’t there.

Reply to  Dan
January 31, 2022 8:36 am

Even half an inch of snow is enough to reduce a panel’s output to pretty close to zero.
During the winter, the sun is lower on the horizon. Combine that with the shorter days, and even when there isn’t a cloud in the sky, the amount of energy you will be getting from those solar panels is quite limited.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
January 30, 2022 4:19 pm

Just imagine If the wind always blew within range. If the sun always shone at the optimal incidence. A handmade tale and fantasy merges with reality.

January 30, 2022 4:44 pm

I believe that not well informed members of the public would be shocked to learn how much land area is needed for wind turbine and solar energy supply installation businesses, including the land for the feeder transmission lines to the main grid and for ancillary back up equipment.

As compared to power stations with an equivalent generating capacity, as compared to so called renewables unreliable intermittent supply, that generate reliable supply twenty four hours a day every day.

Smart Rock
January 30, 2022 5:36 pm

In addition to misleading the public by using nameplate ratings, both wind and solar facilities degrade over time, so they can’t deliver nameplate power over their lifetimes, even when conditions are optimal. With wind power, it’s mostly due to the blades getting rough surfaces.

Whereas, the nuke down the lake from me is still putting out the same 3.1 GW that it was in 1970.

And that’s not even addressing the life expectancy of wind and solar installations. Energy from the wind and sun may be free and infinitely renewable, but the cost of harnessing it is another thing entirely. For that matter, you could say that the energy in a kilo of uranium, or a ton of coal, is free; it just takes money to mine it, refine it and build the power plants to use it.

The post makes the point, which is seldom emphasised enough, that wind and solar installations can only deliver electricity at the low prices ceaselessly extolled by their proponents, because they have “must take” contracts that often force grid operators to sell excess power to neighbouring jurisdictions for less than the cost of production, when demand is low. Or sometimes even at negative prices (i.e. paying neighbours to take it). Because base load from thermal power stations can’t be ramped up and down at will to match variations in wind speed.

And that’s not even getting into direct subsidies, tax credits etc.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Smart Rock
February 9, 2022 5:03 am

The “must take” “contracts” I know about are simply the outcomes of “economic dispatch order” in wholesale energy auctions, although it is possible PPAs have some binding “must take”appendage to them. In the (hourly) auctions for energy, bidders are “encouraged” to bid at their marginal cost (the fuel cost of producing the next unit of energy). The bids are “sealed” so other bidders cannot see them. Once all bids are in, the grid operator sorts them from lowest to highest bid and accepts them in that order until no more energy is expected to be needed for the hour of delivery (24 hours later in the first auction which captures most of the value). So because “UNRELIABLES” (wind and solar) have zero fuel cost (wind actually has negative $25 per MWh when we consider the PTC), they will be chosen first in every auction because their marginal cost is lowest (along with run-of-river hydro). Solar gets an ITC or investment tax credit worth 30% of the cost of the project when it is built. It doesn’t need a production tax credit because it only generates when it is light out which is when demand tends to be above average.

The real travesty is that the highest bid accepted for the hour (in order to meet expected demand for the hour) is the price paid to ALL ACCEPTED BIDDERS! Think about the implications of that for a minute! Let’s say you go to the store for milk. The grocer has only 20 gallons on hand and customers want 21 gallons. Once customer wants milk so badly he is willing to pay $10 per gallon for it. Should the other 19 gallons also carry the $10 price tag? Buyers of milk can forego it and walk away from the deal. Consumers of electricity cannot. As bizarre as the auction is, it actually worked well prior to the advent of UNRELIABLES, providing high gross margins and extra revenue for the least fuel-cost sources, making subsequent investment in them and technology improvements to make them cleaner and more efficient more attractive. And that was great when all sources offered about the same contribution to meeting peak demand… In essence the “progressive gross margins” paid in the “single clearing price auction” constitute a de facto CAPACITY PAYMENT. Do you get it? May I have a show of hands?

Gord in Calgary
January 31, 2022 1:17 pm

I prefer to categorize wind and solar power as “Unreliables”, calling them renewables puts them on par with hydroelectric power, biomass which they are not.

Tom Stacy
Reply to  Gord in Calgary
February 9, 2022 4:42 am

Yeah that’s what Alex Epstein calls them. I will try to stick with that term. Thanks for the reminder!

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