Can California Really Achieve 85% Carbon-Free Electricity By 2030?


Francis Menton

In the contest to be the most virtuous of all the states on the “carbon-free” electricity metric, the race is on between California and New York. In 2018 California enacted a bill going by the name “SB100,” which set a mandatory target of 60% of electricity from “renewables” by 2030 (and 100% by 2045). Not to be outdone, New York responded by enacting its “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” in 2019, setting its own statutory targets of 70% of electricity from renewables by 2030 (and 100% by 2040).

So is any of this real? Or is it just so much posturing to show conformity with current fashions, all of which will be forgotten by the time the now-seemingly-distant deadlines approach? As to New York, I have had multiple posts (for example here and here) explaining how the supposedly mandatory goals are completely unrealistic as to both feasibility and cost, and how the people charged with achieving the goals have no idea what they are doing.

Is California any less clueless?

The short answer is “no.” However, a gaggle of “think tanks” is just out with a big Report trying to convince us otherwise. Indeed, the Report advocates that California can achieve not just its current statutory goal of 60% carbon-free electricity by 2030, but rather an even more ambitious 85% — as indicated by the headline of the press release announcing the Report, which is “Achieving 85 Percent Clean Electricity By 2030 In California.” The Report itself has the title “Reliably Reaching California’s Clean Energy Targets.” The think tanks putting their names on the Report are Energy Innovation, Telos Energy, and GridLab. The authors of the Report are identified as Derek Stenclik and Michael Welch of Telos and Priya Sreedharan of GridLab.

Also identified is a big “Technical Review Committee” of some 13 members. Do you think these people may be the experts who are going to be sure that this project gives honest technical and engineering answers as to how to achieve the ambitious goals? Don’t kid yourself. Five of the 13 are California energy bureaucrats (three from the California Energy Commission and two from the California Community Choice Association); and the rest are environmental and “green energy” advocates of various sorts, including from the Environmental Defense Fund, Vote Solar, Jas Energies, Sharply Focused and so forth. Even the few listed as “independent consultants” have backgrounds in advocacy for wind and solar energy.

And then there is this bizarre combination of “Disclaimer” and funding disclosure:

The views contained in this report do not represent the views of any of the technical review committee organizations and cannot be attributed to any single technical review committee members. This work was supported by funds from Climate Imperative.

In other words, “you can’t blame me when none of this works.” And, have you heard of the funding organization, Climate Imperative? Neither had I. But a few moments with a search engine will give you the answer. Two of the six members of the Board of Directors are Laurene Powell Jobs and John Doerr. Yes, that is the Laurene Jobs who inherited the Apple money, and the John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins who just dropped a billion on Stanford University to create a new school of “Sustainability.”

The Report is some 89 pages long, much of it couched in seemingly highly technical jargon. The goal is to persuade you that the target of 85% carbon-free electricity by 2030 can be easily achieved with full reliability. We have “models” that include all the relevant variables. We have run “stress tests” on every sort of possible extreme scenario. The following is from the blurb promoting the Report found on the Energy Innovation site:

Modeling from GridLab and Telos Energy finds California can achieve 85 percent clean energy by 2030 without compromising reliability, even under stressful conditions. . . . The technical study developed three 85 percent clean electricity by 2030 portfolios, reflecting different resource buildouts and accelerated electrification. These portfolios were tested against stressors including retiring in-state natural gas units, replacing West-wide coal with renewables and energy storage, and mimicking the August 2020 heat waves that caused rolling power outages. The study evaluated all stressors together, including stricter-than-normal import restrictions, finding the future clean grid is capable of serving load under these extreme conditions.

So the message to Californians is, invest some hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer and ratepayer money over the next eight years in complete blind faith that our models have considered everything that can go wrong. And by the way, don’t expect any kind of cost projection from us — that is beyond the scope of this project.

As readers here know, I have a simple answer to these kinds of fantasies, which is, show me the working demonstration project, even for a small town of 5000 or 10,000 people, from which we can evaluate the feasibility and cost of doing this for a large state of 40 million. Needless to say, no such thing exists.

To consider whether there is any seriousness at all behind this effort, let’s look at how the scenarios in the Report deal with two questions: (1) overbuilding of capacity, and (2) energy storage.

To its modest credit, the Report recognizes that reaching the 85% carbon-free electricity target will mean retaining a residuum of about 15% generation from natural gas. But how much wind and solar capacity will be needed to supply the remainder?

And the Report also gives at least some recognition that large amounts of storage will be required. But how much storage and at what cost?

The heart of the information addressing these questions appears in this chart from page 24:

For perspective, California’s peak electricity usage of all time hit 50.27 GW on July 24, 2006. In most recent years, the peak has been in the range of 46 – 47 GW. Current generation capacity from all sources is about 82 GW, already representing substantial overbuilding to deal with intermittency of large amounts of wind and solar. These scenarios from the Report for 2030 propose building capacity up to the range of 140 – 160 GW, or approximately three times peak usage. Natural gas capacity of about 30 GW would be almost enough to supply all of average usage, and about two-thirds of peak usage, but apparently the proposal is to keep it fully maintained and ready, but turned off about 85% of the time.

As to how much storage will be needed for these scenarios, the chart shows a range from about 20 GW in the “diverse clean resources” scenario, to about 25 GW in the “high electrification” scenario. OK, but how many gigawatt hours will you need, and how much will that cost? Even though that is far and away the most important question that must be addressed in any effort to build a primarily wind/solar/storage electricity system, you will not find that question addressed in this Report. Like the Scoping Plan of New York’s Climate Action Council, this Report is just that incompetent. (Or maybe the authors are aware of the problem and avoid addressing it because they know that addressing it would demonstrate the impossibility of the project and displease the paymasters. It’s hard to know which.). The only discussion in the Report of energy storage in gigawatt hours appears all the way on page 79, where from the context it is clear that the storage being discussed is only intended for intra-day balancing, and cannot even begin to address the seasonality of wind and solar generation.

So, what will be the cost of all of this? Building capacity to a level that is triple peak usage; keeping an entire back-up natural gas system fully-maintained but idle at least 85% of the time; and adding sufficient storage to deal with the seasonality of wind and solar? Three times the cost of the current system would seem conservative. Five times is more likely. And of course, this Report does not address the cost issue.

Read the full article here.

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Giordano Milton
May 17, 2022 10:08 am

Sure. Just get rid of their industry, cars, and keep electrical use to a minimum. Maybe ban aircraft, ships, and fertilizer, as well. Start using horses, and require any ships that DO come into their harbors to be sailing vessels only.

Reply to  Giordano Milton
May 17, 2022 10:11 am

Even then … no.

Reply to  DonM
May 17, 2022 10:21 am

Add cull the population and they may be ok

Bryan A
Reply to  Redge
May 17, 2022 12:03 pm

The kicker is that 100% electric AND 100% renewable is achievable…
Simply eliminate 90% of the population

Reply to  Bryan A
May 17, 2022 3:23 pm

And 90% of the tax base – you cant get there from here

Reply to  Bryan A
May 17, 2022 3:53 pm

Aren’t the serfs supposed to pay for it all? If they are eliminated, there goes the tax and rate payer revenue.

Reply to  AndyHce
May 18, 2022 8:49 am

If they are eliminated, there goes the tax and rate payer revenue.

I think that the end goal is intentional, but I also think they haven’t really considered the reality of it.

Reply to  Bryan A
May 19, 2022 10:13 am

Which is probably their plan… first, by killing off all those who oppose their glorious Great Leap Forward.

Ron Long
Reply to  Giordano Milton
May 17, 2022 12:01 pm

You might be onto something. Giordano. as California had the second largest population drop in the last census (edged out by New York). Maybe this trend solves a lot of problems, like energy consumption. Kaifornia: going faster and faster down a dead-end street.

Reply to  Giordano Milton
May 17, 2022 3:50 pm

How does a city house and feed those horses? /sarc

Reply to  Macha
May 17, 2022 5:13 pm

Well, “by the turn of the century the city will be piled 10 feet deep in horse manure…” to paraphrase a report from the ’80s (1880’s that is._

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  OweninGA
May 18, 2022 12:47 pm

Quoted by Prof Wilf Beckermann in his critique of Limits to Growth (In Defence of Economic Growth) in a way that clearly implied he thought LtG was horse manure.

James H
May 17, 2022 10:22 am

“Can California Really Achieve 85% Carbon-Free Electricity By 2030?”
I say the answer is YES. For most of the earth’s history, and indeed for most of humanity’s history, California has had no electricity at all – which will look very much like 85% carbon-free electricity. So this condition is not unprecedented.

What did carbon-crusaders use for light before candles? Light bulbs. Are candles carbon-neutral?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  James H
May 17, 2022 11:25 am

They used electricity for light before they used candles! 😮

Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 18, 2022 12:45 am

The joke is:

1800’s people used candles (and whale oil)

1900’s and early 2000s – people used light bulbs, CFLs and LEDs.

Post 2030ish net-zero – people will use candles…

Reply to  James H
May 17, 2022 11:30 am

Whales are getting nervous.

I hear they’re chanting in whale-sounds –

“My body. My oil”

Reply to  Mr.
May 17, 2022 1:34 pm

You know there’s going to be trouble when the whales start hiring lawyers.

Reply to  Mr.
May 17, 2022 2:28 pm

Omg….thank you for the laugh.

Richard Page
Reply to  Mr.
May 18, 2022 6:39 am

The whales are fighting back – there have been several cases of tourist boats coming too close and whales capsizing or flipping them over completely. In a recent case, a whale called ‘Pichoco’ breached and landed on a boat, injuring a couple of tourists and turning the boat over! Moral of the story – don’t go too near whales, they don’t like it and they have a damn good way of showing their displeasure!

Gary Pearse
Reply to  James H
May 17, 2022 1:08 pm

Whale oil, its renewable…. sort of.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 17, 2022 2:25 pm

If biomass is renewable than whale oil certainly is, and about as smart.

Reply to  James H
May 17, 2022 1:45 pm

You forgot whale oil. Not your bad, so did the planners.

Ian Johnson
Reply to  James H
May 18, 2022 4:12 am

How many candles are made from petroleum?

Tom Halla
May 17, 2022 10:22 am

Without adequate storage, wind and solar cannot work.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 17, 2022 11:31 am

The battery storage situation is quite worthless. Since they don’t have nuclear & AFAIK, don’t have
biomass electricity production, the only longer-term reliable production & storage is through pumped
water & the much hated hydroelectric. They can always “fake it” by importing electricity from
neighboring states. One other thing most of us forget is that PV electricity loses efficiency when it
gets too hot so production probably peaks in fall & spring.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 12:04 pm

Nuclear- forgot Diablo Canyon @ 2.25GW. Annual CA power usage 250kGWh = ~ 29GW
continuous generation daily.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 12:34 pm

daily s/b hourly

Too many brain f@rts- Great news- no evil toxic CH4 was released!

R Terrell
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 21, 2022 12:32 pm

I think it was just yesterday that I read about California closing down the Diablo Canyon reactor! So much for THAT source of energy, huh?

Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 2:15 pm

“ Without adequate storage, wind and solar cannot work.”

They will if you have 100% fossil spinning reserve. But you will have built (and paid for) twice the capacity you need. Not to mention that to keep it spinning you are using fuel.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 2:15 pm

“Natural gas capacity of about 30 GW would be almost enough to supply all of average usage, and about two-thirds of peak usage, but apparently the proposal is to keep it fully maintained and ready, but turned off about 85% of the time.”

I found their “ace up their sleeve” loophole- probably from the 3% non-consensus. The
logical thing would be to scrap all that useless, duplicative renewable junk, but the 97%
consensus is “all in” on stupid virtue signalling!

Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 18, 2022 8:55 am

turned off about 85% of the time.

How long does it take to come online from “turned off”?

May 17, 2022 10:23 am

Absolutely, all the electricity used in California can come from wind and solar. 100%

Of course, there will only be electricity available when the wind blows and the sun shines.

The collapse of the economy, a mere $3.4 trillion.

The virtue signalling, priceless.

May 17, 2022 10:23 am

In the brave new world of the future only the lucky few will have energy on demand

Reply to  fretslider
May 17, 2022 3:53 pm

From Yale University Press:
“In a world of scarce resources, particularly if you were struggling to find food and water to survive, it could actually be rational to kill other people before they killed you. In Hobbes’ memorable description, life outside society would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’.’

Richard Page
Reply to  BobM
May 18, 2022 6:41 am

Aldous Huxley may have got there first with ‘Brave New World’.

May 17, 2022 10:36 am

I have a couple questions:

  1. What does the annual day by day Gw-Hr renewable production look like based on historic weather patterns (a. The sun never shines at night, and b. The wind only blows part of the time).
  2. How much battery storage are they going to build, and at what cost?.
Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 11:14 am

This Article answers your question 1:
One hour for one day!?
And its graph shows how CA fared the res if the day on that very good Spring day:comment image

Note the gray areas of the graph. Do they even think?

Reply to  CoRev
May 18, 2022 7:35 am

“for a brief minute California was powered by renewables…” -NPR

And for a brief minute Titanic survivors tread water.

Reply to  CoRev
May 18, 2022 9:02 am

Do they even think?

It’s all about feelings. Rational thought is anathema.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 11:54 am

First, CA uses 250kGWh per year- ~29GW continuous generation I don’t have a breakdown as to its
sources used in generation/importation from other states.

Second, when battery storage amount is listed, that is usually only for ~1.5 hrs. As such, it’s <<
pumped water & hydroelectric. Regardless of how much they build. it’s essentially worthless versus
what they need. If there’s also a drought, then they’re S.O.L!

CA only has Diablo Canyon @ 2.25GW for reliable nuclear. AFAIK, they have no biomass power.
So, the reliable sources for when the wind doesn’t blow & the sun doesn’t shine is pumped water &

Here’s a wind potential chart for the US. I’ll have the solar potential map below it.
OOPS- fat finger, Make that two posts below, too.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 11:57 am

The map I wanted to use was too big- I’ll use two others.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 11:59 am

offshore wind

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 17, 2022 12:01 pm

US PV solar- solar loses generation efficiency when it gets hot.

Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 24, 2022 7:42 pm

And Diablo Canyon is going away in the next couple years because of the once-through cooling.

william Johnston
Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 11:59 am

That’s assuming they can find the raw materials with which to build the solar cells, wind mills and batteries.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  william Johnston
May 17, 2022 1:24 pm

They don’t know it yet, but batteries

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 12:18 pm

I do have some US data: 4kTWh/yr use- 1.25TW nameplate generation- 8% nuclear, 10% wind, 4%
PV & thermal solar, 1.5% stored & hydro, 1.5% other, 75% 24/7 solar. Current battery 1GW. Adding
10GW in 21-23, total =11GW @ 1.6hr storage= 17.6GWh. 4kTWh/8760 hrs = 457GWh actually
used per hr. 17.6/457 = 0.04 hrs of power. Get out the candles, Martha!

Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 2:31 pm

They don’t need to answer your stupid questions this is an existential crisis.

Rud Istvan
May 17, 2022 10:51 am

No such required storage exists. There is not enough lithium and cobalt in the world for EV’s, let alone the California grid. There aren’t enough permitable sites for pumped hydro. And the other storage ideas like flow batteries or high speed fly wheels all have failed when tried on grid demonstration scale. Covered those in essay California Dreaming in ebook Blowing Smoke.
That essay title also aptly covers this new ‘report’.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 17, 2022 12:45 pm

I’ve been following ammonia as a fuel for a while. If you’re really desperate, it actually works, because there are historical examples. There is a steady drumbeat of research and test projects. example The shipping industry seems to be betting on ammonia as a bunker fuel.

Ammonia has some significant drawbacks but, I’m guessing that hydrogen storage will eventually take a form something like that. So, no batteries required, just chemistry.

As always, there’s the EROEI cliff. Any eventual energy storage will have to be darn cheap otherwise it’s back to the stone age for us.

Reply to  commieBob
May 17, 2022 1:34 pm

“…back to the stone age for us.”

This is not a bug in their plans, it is a feature.

Reply to  commieBob
May 17, 2022 1:50 pm

Having lived close to major ammonia leaks I don’t want it anywhere me. At least gasoline does not jell your lungs.

Reply to  mal
May 17, 2022 6:31 pm

Yep. I seem to remember that the use of ammonia as bunker fuel would require either changes to marine law or to insurance regulations.

I’m a technology geek, so I find ammonia fuel technology interesting. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good thing.

Time after time we see that the ‘environmentalists’ are willing to push things that are very bad for the environment, not to mention human health.

Reply to  commieBob
May 17, 2022 8:07 pm

When the ‘environmentalsts’ think ammonia, they’re thinking a smelly household cleaner. Really, they’re clueless about how today’s world works, i.e., the technology, the engineering, the energy that allows them to be so stupid and live the way they do.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 17, 2022 2:52 pm

I went for that peak oil thing at first, so I’m not buying the peak lithium or cobalt just yet. Both elements are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust. Got data?

Reply to  Tom.1
May 17, 2022 3:58 pm

It’s got to be mined and refined. 1000% increase just for EVs. Government red tape bureaucracy added to greenies and nimby’s says to me no chance.

Reply to  Macha
May 18, 2022 4:35 am

Yep. America has plenty of lithium. Environmentalists and Indian tribes oppose lithium mining and are blocking it with lawsuits. link

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Tom.1
May 18, 2022 8:52 am

The International Energy Agency foresees potential world wide shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025.

Douglas Pollock
May 17, 2022 11:02 am

Unless California manages to have a sunrise in one side and a sunset at the same time in the other, that is, sun at all times, this wishfull thinking initiative is doomed. Which is the weighted average renewable capacity factor for California? Give any number, say 30%? Well, that is the maximum renewable generation fraction that California will ever achieve. but that is only with respect to the thermal source that will be used both, as baseload generation and non-baseload to back up these unreliables, meaning that the final renewable share, taking into account all sources of generation, would be negligible. But there is more: with no CO2 abatement except for the amount that would be buried, and electricity costs skyrocketing. By June an entire artiicle on this subject and other beauties will be available. California needs desperately Trump.

Pat from Kerbob
May 17, 2022 11:08 am

We just have to look at Germany, they already have massively overbuilt wind, something like 160% of average grid load, and yet it only produces a little over 40% of their electricity.
Because the wind doesn’t blow all the time.
Their wind assets are situated all over the country already, widespread penetration, so doubling or tripling the installed based doesn’t help as they already have too much. Putting more wind turbines beside ones already not turning does not produce more power.
They have not been creating more Germany since the 1940s, without expanded areas to install them in different weather zones its pointless.

Tripling it just destablizes the grid as you’d have far too much power when the wind blows, there is already too much, none when it doesn’t.

It can only work with massive amounts of storage and there is nothing in development that can provide that.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
May 17, 2022 11:33 am

There ARE massive amounts of energy storage.

It’s called COAL.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Mr.
May 17, 2022 12:50 pm

& the other 24/7 solar- natty gas & oil!

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Mr.
May 17, 2022 12:52 pm

and gas and oil, but of course that is not what this discussion is about.
The only way wind and solar have a chance to function is with massive, affordable, efficient storage of electricity. Which does not exist even theoretically.

Notice i said “function” not succeed, as a functional renewables system requires despoiling the earth in a way never seen before.

Reply to  Mr.
May 17, 2022 4:06 pm

We just need automated, self replicating, nano constructors that build coal or some other useful hydrocarbon?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
May 18, 2022 1:07 pm

You have to go a long way for different weather zones. This heat matrix of cross correlations
shows that most of NWE is highly correlated. You have to go to the Med to reduce the correlations, but winds there are much slower on average so it’s not going to produce a convenient export surplus.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
May 19, 2022 10:21 am

Any carbon-free energy generation plan that doesn’t include large amounts of nuclear is doomed to failure.

May 17, 2022 11:22 am

California currently imports 30% of its electricity from other states. Other states do not necessarily sell “clean” energy and there is no way to tell which electrons are clean and which aren’t. Electric demand is rising and will continue to rise as policy demands it. So at some point, California will have to raise it’s ceiling of use above 100% in order to meet its legislative demand of 85%. Math doesn’t lie, but politicians do.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Doonman
May 18, 2022 1:29 pm

I think you can get a good idea of power sources over interties. The one that links to Four Corners will be mostly coal. Links from Lake Mead will be hydro when it runs, etc.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
May 19, 2022 4:22 pm

IIRC the last coal plant in Arizona’s Four Corners shut down in 2021 [was the largest employer on the Navaho reservation], and California owns ~25% of the Palo Verde Nuclear plant just west of Phoenix.

CD in Wisconsin
May 17, 2022 11:39 am

This is what happens when you are in a cult (and don’t know it), and the high priests of your cult are in charge and indoctrinate you and your fellow member of the faithl High priests in a cult are always considered infallible and unquestionable by the believers, hence the blind faith in wind a solar. The vitriol that skeptics of climate alarmism and renewable energy regularly receive earn them the labels of religious heretics and thought criminals.

No feasibility studies needed here — they have no value in a cult.

Pat from Kerbob
May 17, 2022 11:40 am

I wonder how much traction Schellenberger is going to get running for governor, at least he is on record as being not-as-insane as so many.

Kit P
May 17, 2022 11:42 am

“The Report is some 89 pages long, much of it couched in seemingly highly technical jargon.”

I am retired from the power industry and there is nothing technical here.

For example, yes you can model offshore wind. But no you cannot build off shoe wind. Or even close to the shore. The simple reason is the people of Califonia will fight the permitting process.

Is power produced in other states attributed to Califonia goals?

This link shows how wind can be balanced in the PNW and sent to Califonia.

Making electricity is hard work. Califonia is depending on the hard work of other states.

Reply to  Kit P
May 17, 2022 2:03 pm

“Califonia is depending on the hard work of other states.”

Exactly right.
A key element of US Nut Zero is that EVERY state cam buy 20% of it’s electricity
from neighboring states. This is based on new math, that you old fogey power
industry retirees have not kept up with. You are old school, where 2+2 – 4.
That’s ancient history. In today’s world, you just have green dreams and
then someone, somewhere, will solve all the feasibility problems.
With new technology, not yet invented, made with unobtanium
and run by vaporware.

And if that doesn’t work, you cut down trees and burn them — claim
doing that is “green”, like they do in England.
CA has plenty of trees, and plenty of wildfires.
Might as well cut down the trees, and burn them for electricity,
before they burn down in a non-productive wildfire.

Other high technology solutions:
Portable nuclear powered fans to spin the windmills when there’s no wind.
Portable nuclear powered spotlights for the solar panels at night.

Low technology solutions:
— Long extension cords to Chinese coal power plants.
– Candles and flashlights Fridays

This is modern engineering,

Most important is developing good excuses for when
Nut Zero electricity in CA has failed. My three proposals:
The CA Nut Zero project has revealed an alarming
increase in the number of subjects we knew nothing about.
By doing a little every year, we were able to let
the CA Nut Zero Project completely overwhelm us.
The Nut Zero Project is not going according to plan,
because there was no plan.

Kit P
Reply to  Richard Greene
May 17, 2022 4:13 pm

CA has plenty of trees, and plenty of wildfires.

Burning wood waste to make electricity is an example of a good environmental choice that is reliable. Most of these plants were built in the 70s to improve local air quality.

Forest health is a serious issue in the semi-arid US west. I was working on these projects in the 90s. The Sierra Club lawyers put a stop to such projects in Califonia over the objections of local members.

I think it is acceptable to grind excess biomass and export it. The coal trains no longer supply local plants. Now it goes to China.

Gary Pearse
May 17, 2022 11:47 am

” tests on every sort of possible extreme scenario.”

One thing on the positive side is wildfires won’t be as troubling because they can retire the army of arsonists used light a lot of them.

May 17, 2022 11:51 am

I was reading extracts from the today’s Pentagon report to Congress on UAEs (UFOs to you and I).
If these ‘objects’ are of extraterrestrial origins then my granny was supernova and my younger sibling is a neutron star.

Reply to  Vuk
May 17, 2022 12:13 pm

On topic: Just as big a fantasy as renewable energy.

OK Vuk, you are on. What are the UFOs???
Or maybe your granny was supernova, after all.

Reply to  TonyL
May 17, 2022 1:23 pm

Exactly as it says on the tin, those unidentified are, those identified are not.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Vuk
May 17, 2022 1:11 pm

Is this a photo of your granny, an SS396 “Super Nova”. What a looker! 😮

Reply to  Vuk
May 17, 2022 2:08 pm

The UFOs are OBVIOUSLY from other planets.
Any logical person would come to that conclusion.
I would not waste my time reading Pentagon reports on UFOs
They have obscured the truth since the 1940s
I know people like to make fun of UFOs
Like you just did.
You may be very intelligent on some subjects.
But you are a poor comedian
And an absolute fool on the subject of UFOs.

Reply to  Richard Greene
May 17, 2022 6:21 pm

They are obviously time travelling tourist humans from the future having some temporary technical glitches with their Alcubierre bubble drive system….at least until the backup kicks in and gets them out of Dodge…and back in compliance with their non-interference directive.

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Greene
May 18, 2022 6:48 am

Don’t think he was making fun of UFO’s, just healthy scepticism. As far as I’m concerned there is no ‘obviously’ about it: they are unidentified therefore you cannot make the assertion that they are extra terrestrial in origin, they could be absolutely anything.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Vuk
May 18, 2022 1:32 pm

Hasn’t there been an objection from Abu Dhabi yet? Perhaps they went out hawking or something…

jeffery p
May 17, 2022 12:15 pm


To make the numbers appear close, California will cheat, too.

  • They won’t count the electricity they import from out-of-state operators.
  • They won’t count the energy needed to drill, refine and transport the fossil fuels California will continue to use.
  • They certainly won’t count the energy used to manufacture and transport goods built elsewhere.

It’s all for show. Ignore that man behind the curtain.

May 17, 2022 12:46 pm

Well, it’s like climate computer modeling – you can make your model say anything your heart desires.

But, where is all this wind and solar capacity actually coming from? How much developable land will be required to produce that much power, essentially three times current power generation? How many acres? Who owns the land, and will they sell it? What are the environmental impacts of creating vast areas of solar collectors and wind farms?

I am not against renewable energy supplies, as so many WUWTers are here in sort of knee jerk fashion, but they only make sense as a supplemental source of energy because of all the resource requirements necessary.

Look, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in West Texas which is the nation’s wind energy capital. You can fly over thousands of square miles of West Texas countryside fully occupied by tens of thousands of windmills, and marvel at the scale of what they’ve done there.

But that’s West Texas – there’s literally nothing there but ugly dirt, grass, and mesquite in most of it, nearly all of it is privately owned, and is of little scenic or practical value other than oil and gas production and grazing cows … and there are very few people there (most Texans live in the big cities in East and South Texas, megacities that don’t exist in West Texas).

But that kind of vast private land resource reallocation is simply not feasible or available in California, where the population density is much higher than West Texas, and where much of the land is publicly owned, and is considered to be environmentally sensitive and valuable, and where most of the privately owned rural lands are devoted to some of the most productive farmland in the world. You can’t just remove that farmland from production. Or put up vast wind farms in the Sierras or national parks, monuments, and forests.

That is why these pie in the sky plans are so ridiculous.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Duane
May 17, 2022 1:35 pm

Back in the ’80s when I flew over Midland, they had areas that looked like a square grid of dots that
were reliable 24/7 oil wells, which they probably have even more of now with the fracking boom. I
enjoyed W Texas, as it was always “fair to Midland”! 😮

Brian Bushen
Reply to  Duane
May 17, 2022 2:19 pm

Thought you might enjoy this:

West Texas in My Eye

Reply to  Duane
May 18, 2022 7:50 am

To be fair, there is easily 100,000 square kilometers of valueless wasteland on the border with Nevada and Arizona, But doesn’t change the fact the plan is untenable.

Gordon A. Dressler
May 17, 2022 1:22 pm

So, California enacted SB100 with its mandatory target (is that an oxymoron, or what?) of 100% of electricity from ‘renewables” by 2045
(Ref: second sentence of above article).

Well, let’s look to Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr.’s relevant, science-based analysis and related conclusion:
“. . . to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the world would need to deploy 3 Turkey Point nuclear plants worth of carbon-free energy every two days, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050. At the same time, a Turkey Point nuclear plant worth of fossil fuels would need to be decommissioned every day, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050.”
— source: , my underlining emphasis added.

True, California is not “the world” (even if Californians think it is, hah!), but it is obligated to do its fair share toward the end of eliminating fossil fuels as a means of generating electricity, isn’t it?

Based on just the population ratio CA-versus-world at end of 2021 (39.2 million/7.9 billion), the State of California should plan on building about 72 Turkey Point-size nuclear power plants between now and beginning of 2050. That’s a build rate of about 2.7 nuclear power plants a year for the next 26.5 years, just in California!

What about the contribution from future hydro, wind, solar and biomass? . . . pfftphttttp!

May 17, 2022 1:29 pm

Let’s do a stress test and shut down one nuke plant now, one large refinery, and one large NG plant.

May 17, 2022 1:30 pm

Okay but what do the metrics do in surrounding states in the process?

May 17, 2022 1:30 pm

Shut down Palo Verde nuclear plant for a year and let’s see.

May 17, 2022 1:33 pm

Only if they CA buys a lot of electricity from neighboring states and runs long extension cords to cola power plants in China. Also, the CA Nut Zero plan includes the assumption that the CA electric grid will become so unreliable that 50% of the CA residents will move to other states, or back to Mexico, thereby reducing the demand for electricity.

May 17, 2022 1:44 pm

They must have modeled in a large amount or unicorn flagellants to get the number they wanted.

May 17, 2022 1:44 pm

California doesn’t need to generate any electricity in state… as long as it can import enough from Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. Then they can say that they are truly carbon free.

May 17, 2022 2:01 pm

No. Next stupid question, please.

Dave Fair
May 17, 2022 2:02 pm

“Firm Renewables?”

S Browne
May 17, 2022 2:25 pm

California can achieve 100% renewable energy by any date they wish. They just have to convince the citizens to accept unreliability, scarcity and extremely high electricity rates. Shutting off AC, rotating outages, etc. like a third world country would be necessary. It’s also highly regressive because only the wealthy will be able to afford whatever power is available or will be able to install their own backup power generators. CA already has the highest poverty rate of any state in the U.S. Maybe the idea is to drive enough people to leave the state to meet the goal.

Reply to  S Browne
May 17, 2022 9:37 pm

California has outlawed smaller ICEs, such as used in backup generators.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 19, 2022 8:25 am

Yep. How dare you attempt to protect yourself from the blackouts we caused!

May 17, 2022 2:29 pm

Question. What will happen to US manufacturing when the price of electricity increases 5x? Answer. There will be zero manufacturing in the US. All manufacturing will be in China and India.

May 17, 2022 2:31 pm

No. Even an optimistic complementary offsetting of the poor capacity factors of wind and solar will leave approximately 40% of electricity needs provided by some kind of energy storage or backup generating capacity. That’s why a list of nations ranked by renewable electricity production shows nations with modern economies and scarce hydro or geothermal resources stall at about 50-60%.

Chris Hanley
May 17, 2022 2:57 pm

… members of the Board of Directors are Laurene Powell Jobs and John Doerr. Yes, that is the Laurene Jobs who inherited the Apple money, and the John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins who just dropped a billion on Stanford University …

A stupid question: If they think their ideas are so achievable why don’t these people and their ilk get together and use their own funds to set up a working demonstration project?

May 17, 2022 3:50 pm

Net-Zero will transform small miners to big miners and big miners will rule financial markets as the entire developed world charges for Net-Zero. Eventually all the resources of developed nations will be focused on extracting energy from the weather.

Australia could take out 30% of world coal consumption simply by preventing export of iron ore. That would decimate the Chinese economy and the supply of all the manufactured plant needed for the Net-Zero charge.

The question for California – Show me YOUR mines that are going to supply all the mined materials that you need to get to Net-Zero?

Reply to  Charles
May 17, 2022 5:05 pm
It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Charles
May 18, 2022 2:01 pm

I look at you all
See the oil there that’s sleeping
While ocean floor gently weeps
I look at the floor
And I see it needs sweeping
Still your oil play gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to drill for your oil
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you

I look at the world
And I notice it’s turning
While ocean floor gently weeps
With every mistake
We must surely be learning
Still your oil play gently weeps

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you

I look at you all
See the wind there that’s sleeping
While your oil play gently weeps
(Look) look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps…

May 17, 2022 5:27 pm

2030 is 6 1/2 years away. They cannot get the EIS done that quickly.

Regardless. I absolutely insist that we take a small California town off fossil fuel electrical generation as proof of concept. Let’s make it as easy as possible. Clearly any tony coastal town is off limits so… I choose Barstow. Sunny, windy, relatively isolated. Do it there, show us it works.

Kit P
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
May 17, 2022 6:43 pm

One way to stop a power project is to find a material false statement in a draft EIS. I have read EIS for nuke plants back east and a solar thermal plant in Califonia.

Part of the EIS process is comparisons to other plants. For the nuke plant, coal and natural gas are compared. Those are clean but wind and solar are not.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
May 18, 2022 8:02 am

To really get people’s attention, it will take more than a “small California town” demo.

Instead, my suggested first choice would be Sacramento, home to idiot Legislature and California Governor that enacted SB100 . . . let them be the first to feel what they have wrought.

My second choice would Los Angeles, home to so many of the Hollywood-glamor lemmings that parrot the current AGW/CAGW meme as personal virtue-signaling. And it won’t matter at all that Los Angeles is a coastal town; in fact, that might be ideal as its mayor and city council could pay for quickly erecting offshore wind farms to replace energy lost due to banned fossil fuels.

May 17, 2022 5:54 pm

In answer to the question Californians should look to Australia’s National Electricity Market crash test dummy-
Gas generators switch to dirty diesel as prices soar and coal plants fail | RenewEconomy
Naturally when you actively encourage dumping on the grid by solar and wind driving out coal then the price of gas as insurer of last resort will rise-
Australian domestic weekly gas prices exceed $30 per GJ for the first time – WattClarity
allowing refined diesel to become economic.

To get rid of FFs altogether you’ll need mountains of battery storage (not just a few early adopter short run FCAS batteries creaming off the top of the problem) and guess what happens to battery prices as you do that along with batteries for transport?
Tesla increases Powerwall prices, again – pv magazine Australia (

Yes children that’s all Econ101 when you get to big school while mummy and daddy have put a deposit down on a Tesla for next year’s delivery to save the planet for you.

another ian
May 17, 2022 8:46 pm

Speaking of carbon -free and posts – doesn’t California still string electricity lines on wooden posts?

May 17, 2022 8:51 pm

Leftists are insane.

I could just end with the above sentence, which explains all the irrational and incoherent policies Leftists are implementing to destroy the US economy, electrical grid and our society..

if California built 5 Palo-Alto scale nuclear reactors and kept all their existing hydro, wind, and solar plants running, it would “only” cost California taxpayers $75 billion to go primarily nuclear, but Leftist are rabidly anti-nuclear because…. “Leftists are insane.”

Even if Leftists had a miraculous change of heart and suddenly embraced nuclear power, it would probably take 10~15 years to go through all the Leftist enviro-wacko bureaucratic approval process just to START building 5 new Palo-Alto scale nuclear power plants so their 2030 goal would be impossible because….”Leftists are insane.”

May 17, 2022 11:38 pm

Coupled with the excellent New York pieces, this is adding up to a case which should convince anyone. They are clear and irrefutable. Net Zero, at least as planned by these jurisdictions, is impossible to do. The attempt, if seriously carried through, will just destroy the availability of reliable electricity.

Could the author do a similarly authoritative evaluation of the UK Net Zero proposals? And is there enough information available to do a similar one on Germany. There is actually a short book in here, which would be of enormous value.

All the cases have the two elements in common: you need huge overbuild of the wind component, and you need huge amounts of storage. It seems like California has quantified the overbuild, but not the storage

The UK seems, from the Climate Change Committee publications, also to have no idea how much storage is needed or what it will cost to build and integrate it. It doesn’t seem to have considered overbuild. The UK is a bit smaller than California in total demand, but its also further north and in a cloudy climate, so solar is much more problematic.

There is also a real subject for investigation in the social aspects of this insanity. Why on earth do people in positions of power and influence think they can plan grids in this vague way? The need for storage should be obvious to any intellectually competent researcher after only a few day’s investigation of the problem. Why do the media and politicians allow it to be ignored, and policies formulated on the basis of ignoring intermittency? Why are not the utility companies intervening to enforce realism?

Could be the concluding chapter of the book…

Reply to  michel
May 18, 2022 2:48 am

Occasionally the odd spokesman can’t stand the fantasy any longer-
Stellantis CEO Speaks The Truth About Electric Cars (

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  michel
May 18, 2022 2:22 pm

I’ve been running calculations for the UK for some years now, inspired by the work of the late Roger Andrews at Euan Mearns’ site. I’ve looked at over 30 years of hourly weather derived data on renewables and come up with a need for storage of over 30TWh at present demand levels, scale with demand as you electrify the economy, and boost if you want to cover seasonal heating, if you want a renewables + nuclear grid, You’d probably want a reserve on top of that.

This chart just looks at what wind + storage would have been needed to cover demand last year working with hourly data, depending on the storage technology round trip: I looked at “green hydrogen” and “pumped storage”. Of course, you could do a bit better in terms of saving storage need by adding in some solar, but it takes an awful lot of solar given the UK’s typically poor average solar capacity factors of little more than 10%.

It’s a horrifying picture. Only when I see these kinds of calculations can I feel that they are beginning to grasp the scale of the problem.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
May 20, 2022 4:52 am

30TWh! Not going to happen, is it. Still less if the relevant bodies tasked with planning this stuff will not even get their heads around estimating what is needed.

May 18, 2022 12:12 am

What will be the real effects of trying to implement a project on the lines of the UK Net Zero, California and New York, as explained here?

They have set their sights on doing some things which are inconsistent and incompatible with each other. So what they are hoping for will not happen. That is, we will not

  1. Move the grid to wind and solar generation
  2. Only install storage for an hour or two supply
  3. Move heating and transport to electricity
  4. Carry on living as we do now.

You really do have to choose. One way would be electrify everything, and deliver reliable power by building out coal, gas and nuclear generation. Then we could continue living more or less as now, though EVs would have important limits. But it would probably be something society could adjust to and carry on more or less as now.

Another way would be to build wind and solar massively and increase storage massively. This would raise the price of electricity greatly, and would probably not even be achievable, since no grid storage on that scale exists anywhere. To have any chance of making this work you would have to allow continued heating and transport powered by oil and gas.

Suppose you try to do all the top three? Then the thing that will give is how we live. You would now be contenting with unreliable and much lower power generation. So no EVs, or very few, and only charged at times of wind surplus. Massive movements of population, end of the car dominated suburbs and the mall, end of much industry. You’d be looking at back to about 1910: rural communities would be compact villages, cities would be dense, transport would be bikes, walking or public transport. Shopping, working and leisure would take place close to home. There would have to be massive investment in building insulation.

The thing that is obvious is that the green project of just moving the grid to wind and solar, and transport and heating to electricity, and carrying on as normal, its fantasy. Its not going to happen. And because the true dimensions and requirements are not even being discussed (apart from by a few brave and capable people like Francis Menton) its likely that we will only find out how impossible it is when implementation is well underway.

I think the most likely end result of how we are going will be economic disaster. Huge recession due to the wasted investment, collapse of the EV market as people hold on to their old cars and trucks, a huge number of stranded wind and solar farms as the grid is unable to support or use their output. Emergency build of large quantities of gas generation plants and a turn back to coal to stablize the grid. And at the same time, people will be colder and poorer, because all this is going to cost and waste a fortune.

I don’t suppose any democratic government will be able to get very far into the scenario. But I think they could, in their present state of stupid denial, get far enough in to produce a real economic crisis.

Another chapter of the book might try and cover what will actually happen if governments do attempt Net Zero implementation.

Jeremy Poynton
May 18, 2022 12:54 am


May 18, 2022 5:10 am

If you’ve spent a few millions or billions developing the latest and greatest battery Antonio wants to purloin the knowhow and give it to his mates-
Climate-stricken world needs renewables Marshall Plan: UN chief (

That will certainly incentivize new R&D breakthroughs for his climate stricken world. Stop with the development folks as Antonio reckons he’s got the ultimate answers nailed already and just needs everyone to ramp up its production. Settled science meets settled renewable tech. Nirvana at last!

Dave Magill
May 18, 2022 9:19 am

Are they asserting 85% of KW or 85% of KWh?

Charles Higley
May 18, 2022 10:49 am

California can easily be 85% electricity free using their plans, but the demand for kerosene for lamps will skyrocket.

Jon R
May 18, 2022 12:15 pm

Achieve may not be the word you’re looking for.

May 18, 2022 3:31 pm

If California cannot make 85% ‘Carbon-Free Electricity’, they will fake it. California is good at faking.

Shanghai Dan
May 19, 2022 10:02 am

Yes, we can.

It’s called nuclear, and has lower CO2 output per GWh, as compared to solar and wind:,they%20are%20low%2Dcarbon%20options.

Lowest CO2 output. Also happens to be the most reliable.

We should build a dozen more Diablo Canyon-sized plants now, and use whatever deployed solar/wind we have to run desalination plants. That output – clean water – is VERY easy to buffer in existing reservoirs, and even discharging into aquifers throughout the State.

Use nuclear so we have low CO2 and high reliable power, and take the intermittent sources and use them to power a resource that can be “intermittent” on the scale of days – desalination.

We have all the water we want (hello, Pacific Ocean!) and we have all the power need – nuclear. We just don’t have the intelligence or political will in Sacramento to do it.

May 20, 2022 1:53 pm

yes, if they don’t mind having the lights off 10% of the time for four times the cost

May 21, 2022 2:50 am

Australia’s (political) capital Canberra would be the perfect test case for renewables. It has no useful production, the people there love renewables, and if the power failed for a few weeks the rest of Australia would neither notice or care.

homer d
May 25, 2022 3:02 pm

yes they can,they will have to cull the excess population.Its like throwing the excess people who are crowding the lifeboat overboard.Just cant keep everyone in the boat

charles zilich
May 28, 2022 5:04 pm

sure. import it. not generated in Californication. just like they do with gasoline.

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