Wind and Solar Fail to Reduce PJM’s CO2 Emissions

by Gregory Wrightstone & Gordon Tomb in RealClear Energy on 22 July 2022

As the imposition of a tax on the use of fossil fuels is debated in Pennsylvania and Virginia, along comes an analysis showing the failure of such efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the name of saving the planet.

Under a multi-state compact known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Virginia already taxes producers of electricity on the basis of how much carbon dioxide they emit in burning fossil fuels — mainly coal and natural gas. Efforts to have the state withdraw from RGGI appear to have stalled. Pennsylvania officially entered RGGI July 1 and would begin collecting the carbon tax next year unless court challenges or a Republican takeover of the governor’s office this fall manage to reverse the state’s participation.

In both states, opponents of the carbon tax have shown that justifications for RGGI are without scientific basis. That is, there is not a climate emergency from which Earth needs saving. And, in any case, the so-called solution offered by RGGI would make no difference in the weather now or in the future. Thus far, such expressions of reason and common sense have been insufficient to derail a program that promises higher electricity prices and job losses.

Perhaps the powers that be should read a recent analysis by David Stevenson, director of the Delaware-based Caesar Rodney Institute’s Center for Energy & Environment: An increased use of wind and solar energy — the climate alarmists’ preferred alternatives to fossil fuels — failed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the PJM Interconnection service area between 2019-21 despite adding $1 billion a year to power costs as a result of subsidies and taxes, according to Mr. Stevenson.

“Wind and solar electric generation are actually poor technologies no one would use without permanent government mandates and massive subsidies and taxes that are adding $1 billion a year in power cost,” writes Mr. Stevenson. “They are also unreliable, non-recyclable, have negative environmental impacts, have shorter productive life spans than alternative power sources, and take up a lot of ground. If it doesn’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions why are we using wind and solar?”

Both Pennsylvania and Virginia are part of the PJM power grid, which serves 65 million people in 13 states — mostly in the Mid-Atlantic and extending into parts of the Midwest. It is the largest such regional power grid, providing 22 percent of the country’s electricity.

Although carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 0.9 percent during the study period, the reduction likely would have been 2.5 percent but for inefficiencies forced on coal-fired plants, Stevenson found. Subsidized wind and solar facilities are placed in operation ahead of other sources but have to be backed up by fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro when wind and sunlight are not available. The efficiency of coal plants drops when they have to ramp up and down to accommodate the variability of wind and solar, which results in increased plant emissions.

Stevenson attributes the relatively minor decrease in carbon dioxide emissions to the replacement of some coal-fired generation with lower-carbon natural gas.

“This lack of CO2 reduction by wind and solar comes at a high cost. Taxpayers and electric customers provide expensive subsidies totaling almost $2 billion in the 2020-21 period, or $1 billion a year,” he says.

Combined wind and solar generation in PJM grew about 30 percent over 2019-21, but still only equaled about 4 percent of total production despite more than a decade of mandates and subsidies, said Stevenson.

So, pouring money into wind and solar have accomplished little more than the transfer of wealth from taxpayers and consumers to the climate industrial complex. Can Pennsylvanians and Virginians expect RGGI do anything else?

Gregory Wrightstone is the Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition, a geologist, past IPCC expert reviewer, and author of “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know.

Gordon Tomb is a Senior Advisor to the CO2 Coalition, a Senior Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation, and primary editor of “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know.

This commentary was first published by Real Clear Energy on July 22, 2022

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July 23, 2022 6:41 pm

The only surprise here is they allowed this analysis see the light of day.

Ron Long
July 23, 2022 6:43 pm

Some people get a thrill shooting themselves in the foot. Some people don’t.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 23, 2022 9:44 pm

And it appears that too many politicians, elected representatives, shoot themselves in the foot and don’t even realise.

Reply to  Dennis
July 24, 2022 1:55 am

Hmm, it would be more accurate to say that they enjoy shooting us in the foot.

Reply to  IanE
July 24, 2022 5:52 am

Actually, shooing us in the wallet.

Reply to  IanE
July 24, 2022 9:35 am

This ^

…shooting deplorables in the foot.”

July 23, 2022 6:53 pm

A tax that middle class will mainly pay. Will increase manufacturing costs an will be just one more reason for companies and people to move to red states. Also does tax kick in when natural gas firing due to backing up wind ?

Steve Case
July 23, 2022 7:15 pm

PJM = Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland 

Reply to  Steve Case
July 24, 2022 1:57 am

Predictably, just madness.

July 23, 2022 7:28 pm

Not much consistency here
” An increased use of wind and solar energy — the climate alarmists’ preferred alternatives to fossil fuels — failed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the PJM Interconnection service area between 2019-21″
“Although carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 0.9 percent during the study period, the reduction likely would have been 2.5 percent but for inefficiencies forced on coal-fired plants,”

John Pickens
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 23, 2022 8:21 pm

How are these statements inconsistent?
Switching to Gas from coal has reduced carbon emissions, and the net reduction would have been greater but for having to inefficiently ramp fossil fuel plants up and down to make up for (non)renewable wind and solar.

Reply to  John Pickens
July 23, 2022 11:27 pm

He has just partitioned the theoretical CO2 from the fossil fuel burnt. There are no observations. Since the increase of wind and solar was basically balanced by reduction in nuclear and hydro, there is no way they could show an emission reduction in that calculation.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 12:24 am

The problem as always is you cannot turn off the coal or gas plants, you have to scale them back but keep them running which is hugely inefficient.
A gas turbine running at 50% output still needs something like 80% input fuel.

Because inefficient.

All investment in wind and solar should be suspended until the magic batteries (2 magnitudes better) arrive.
No more taxpayer $$.

If they never arrive, no wind and solar.

Wind and solar should also have to bid in to provide guaranteed power or pay the price, just like other sources.

All problems solved.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
July 24, 2022 1:16 am

A gas turbine running at 50% output still needs something like 80% input fuel.”
So don’t do it. If you need 50% output, halve the number of turbines running on the grid. There are many on a PJM size grid.

The market sorts that out. No-one would bid to run at 50%.

Bob B.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 3:34 am

Nick, You are really struggling here. I know only as much about energy production from what I learn here and associated links. This and common sense tells me that if you halve the number of these peaking generators then you will have a serious problem when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. 100% of these need to be ready (running at 50%) to pick up the slack.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 4:18 am

Every time you try to display your knowledge of the real world, you simply enforce the fact that you have no scientific or engineering knowledge.

You deal in grade school math by looking only at AVERAGES. Averages don’t run the world.

The POINT is that 50% power is NOT needed but is a REQUIRED operating point in order to be able to provide 100% output when necessary.

In other words, 100% output can only be obtained by keeping all fossil fuel plants idling at 50% which is a very inefficient operating point.

Think of it this way. How long does it take to get hot water out of a tap when the water heater hasn’t been needed for a good length of time. How do you insure that hot water is ready to come out of the tap as soon as you turn it on? You leave it run all the time, right? What do you think that does to the efficiency of the system?

Boiler operation is obviously something you know nothing about.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
July 25, 2022 6:38 pm

Boiler operation is obviously something you know nothing about.”
I think there is a gap in your knowledge there. Gas turbines do not have boilers.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 26, 2022 7:08 am

Dude, what do you think a gas turbine is other than a boiler? A CCGT system uses a turbine and shaft to drive a generator, then the exhaust gas is used to create steam to drive a second generator.

Combustion of air and a fuel is basically a boiler regardless of how the energy is captured in order to do work. The hot gases can be used to create steam or used directly to turn fan blades.

The basic point is that they are all designed to operate MOST efficiently at some given point. When you move off that point, efficiency is sacrificed.

You also ignored the big problem with your assertion. Percentages don’t tell the whole story.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 4:32 am

Nick, a couple of questions.
1) How do we size the new revised renewables grid when we know solar and wind perform less effectively at peak demand?
2) How do we cost this new revised grid where thermal must be maintained to meet peak demand when renwabes fail?
3) Why should we pay to maintain renewable grid supply sources that require 100% backup?
4) What specific problem(s) are you solving by recommending/forcing renewables implementation on the grid? Climate change is not a specific problem.

There are many more questions, but I’ll wait for you to answer these.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 5:01 am

Grids always have some amount of spinning reserves (generation operating at less than full capacity) in order to handle load increases or a plant failure. Wind and solar have no capacity for spinning reserve, so this requirement is pushed on to the other providers. In addition the fact wind and solar can drop off in an instant means that the amount of spinning reserve must be increased by the power provided by unreliable sources to avoid cascading overload when they go down.

Reply to  Ted
July 24, 2022 9:38 am

Yep, unreliables are a tax on the system.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 5:25 am

Is this a deliberate misunderstanding?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 6:22 am

Solar and wind engage in dumping and as such have a State mandated advantage which disadvantages consumers. Ultimately to the point of greenouts.

That advantage is due to lack of a level playing field which could be easily rectified. Namely all tenderers of electrons to the communal grid must reasonably guarantee them 24/7/365 along with FCAS or keep them for their own use. That’s the snake oil you and the unreliables hide behind Nick-
Wind Energy in Australia | May 2022 | Aneroid

Look at the peaks! Look at the peaks children! This is an adult forum Nick.

william Johnston
Reply to  observa
July 24, 2022 7:14 am

Renewables are a geat source of electricity. But ONLY in a point source application. They are wholly inadequate for grid application.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 6:45 am

And once again Nick assumes that because he is educated in one area, he must therefore be an expert in everything. In this case, the operating of power plants.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to start a power plant from a cold start? Do you have any idea how much energy it takes?

In the real world (you should visit it sometimes) it is even more inefficient to completely shut off a plant than restart it than it is to cycle back the power. It is also generates much more wear on the plant.

Willem post
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 8:20 am

Nick you are worse than Griff, which quite an achievement

CCGT plant operators typically do not run their plants at less than 50% of design output, because the gas turbines start to become unstable below that percentage

That means, maximally, they can ramp up 25% from 75% design and ramp down to 50% of design; such operation is inefficient, more Btu/kWh, more CO2/kWh, more wear and tear/kWh

The more wind and solar variable output, MWh, on a grid, the more CCGT plant capacity, MW, is required to be in up/down ramping mode to counteract the variations of wind and solar, which means a greater percentage of the power plants connected to the grid are operating inefficiently.

Therefore, the CO2 reduction of wind and solar is significantly less than claimed by gullible lay people, including almost all legislators, who know next to nothing about energy systems analysis.

The scare-mongering promoters of wind and solar diligently aim to keep the people as stupid as possible, to keep the subsidies flowing forever

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 10:20 pm

You cannot start up and shutdown turbines (gas or steam turbines) by flick of a switch. It takes hours to start and synchronize. And the fuel wasted for doing so will just reduce efficiency much more. And BTW, even if you want do the same, the machineries will need much more repairs

Reply to  Chakra
July 26, 2022 8:35 pm

These are hours you have. Modern forecasting can predict loads many hours in advance, quite well enough to start/stop even CCGT facilities, with vary little “fuel wasted”, let alone simple turbines for peak loads.

FYI, we’re talking a part/hundred or so of the time. Any all in economic evaluation in areas with decent solar/wind potential greatly favors renewables. To forego a renewable source in favor of running fossil fuels 24/7/365 is lunacy.

If ERCOT had simply acted on the previous recommendation to gird up the natural gas to electric infrastructure, instead of going faith based, much of the g.t. 10^11$ and over a hundred lives lost, wouldn’t have been.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 27, 2022 10:40 am

If this is true, why the threat of blackouts? Something you say doesn’t add up. I suspect the forecast are not terribly accurate for short periods. You can’t just fire up CCGT plants for hours on end when there may only be a few short periods where they are needed, that isn’t cost effective. Why have wind and solar at all? Plus you have the problem of where to dump the overabundance of power.

You sound like you haven’t studied power generation at all.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
July 27, 2022 10:54 am

If this is true, why the threat of blackouts?”

Because Greg and ERCOT ignored the advice of a commission that got it right, years ago. They did not make the gas to electric infrastructure gird up for cold and heat. They went faith based, and here we are.

“You can’t just fire up CCGT plants for hours on end when there may only be a few short periods where they are needed, that isn’t cost effective. “

  1. Most of the peakers are simple turbines, not CCGT’s. They are indeed less efficient, which is why they are used only for your referenced “short periods”.
  2. But yes, if you forecast demand (and you almost always can), you use the best combination of CCGT’s, simple peakers, and the grid capability enjoyed by all but Texas, to meet those demands.

If you step back, wind and solar, with the changes long recommended but ignored by Greg and ERCOT, are by far the way to go for Texas.

Reply to  Chakra
July 27, 2022 12:06 pm

Interesting how the pearl clutchers here worry about inefficiencies in parts/thousand conditions, but have no problem with 24/7/365 fossil fuel use as the desired alternative.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
July 24, 2022 6:15 am

As one who has calculated contractually binding performance guarantees for gas fired power plants I can tell you that 50% load for 80% fuel is certainly not how one bids or wins a job. We got 46% load for 52% fuel on an 800MW combined cycle commissioned in 2018, yes, less efficient than full load but no where near your number….in terms of heat rate only a 1.135x efficiency hit.

Plus, it is not at all unusual for plants to run partly loaded as a function of time of day or season. Yes, ideally you run at peak efficiency all the time but that’s not how the real world works.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  meiggs
July 24, 2022 7:14 am

Yet what you are saying is that there are inefficiencies caused by unreliable wind and solar whose cost must be borne by consumers and not the providers.

You are obviously operating a peaking plant whose efficiency is not what it could be if operated as a base load plant.

The cost question is basically what does it cost for:

a) 80% base load + 20% peaking, or
b) 15% baseload + 85% peaking.

Willem post
Reply to  Jim Gorman
July 24, 2022 1:24 pm

CCGT plants are THE counter-actors of wind and solar, such as in Ireland, other than hydro plants, such as in the US Northwest

Wind and solar could not even exist on the grid, without the other plants counteracting their variations in output

william Johnston
Reply to  meiggs
July 24, 2022 7:19 am

When rural electrification came on the scene, the companies would install security lites or yard lites free of charge. Why? Because generators need some minimal load to keep operating.

Reply to  meiggs
July 24, 2022 9:39 am

Why can’t we run them at peak efficiency?

Dave Gee
Reply to  meiggs
July 24, 2022 11:13 am

I’m interested to read the comment from meiggs – I’m not an expert in GT power generation technology but I always understood that running one below 50% or so was very unadvisable in order to stay above the minimum emissions compliant load. This is, of course, the load at which the system can still meet the environmental limits for NOx and CO outputs. Low loads result in lower combustion temperatures, less conversion of CO to CO2 and also insufficient GT output temperature to produce enough steam to run the steam turbine.

Some turbines can run at lower than 50% load and still generate electricity at some part load level of efficiency but this involves lots of expensive and excitingly complicated control equipment which adds to the system cost and reduces reliability.

I really don’t understand how anyone can get 48% (full load output?) efficiency from 52% (full load?) fuel input and still have a normal operating life for the complete system so I’d love to see the manufacturers data and efficiency analysis for this installation – it’s always exciting to see engineers pushing the boundaries of system capabilities.

Reply to  meiggs
July 26, 2022 8:45 pm

When you need it, you need it. You are talking brief, peaker periods.

In toto, renewables, even with backup costs, come in cheapest. Of course, if fossil fuel trickle downs, in the forms of ES&H Ben Dovers, the states and the feds ignoring the 11-2 $ figures of accumulating asset retirement obligations, and the communizing of AGW costs from them to the rest of us were considered, that would just pile on to the relative advantages of renewables.

Want to stop ALL public subsidies – both explicit and implicit – for ALL forms of energy? Line forms behind me. But unlike me, you won’t be happy….

Reply to  bigoilbob
July 26, 2022 9:35 pm

BS and bafflegab.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 6:43 am

was basically balanced

The decline was only 0.9% I would call that basically balanced.
Once again Nick uses words to obfuscate rather than educate.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 9:36 am

Why do we want less CO2?

Bob boder
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 11:49 am

What nuclear and hydro in the mid Atlantic have been shut down?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 23, 2022 8:37 pm

No inconsistency. The drop in carbon emissions had nothing to do with wind and solar.
What drop existed was due to switching from coal to gas. As the data shows, had there been no wind or solar, the drop in emissions would have been greater.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 12:31 am

The claim is that installing wind and solar will reduce a country’s CO2 emissions. Prove it. Show a country, and a properly audited analysis, where that has been done.

Generation is usually only about 30% of emissions. In the US, EIA says 32%. The PJM area is only a small part of the US, so they are only addressing probably 5% of US emissions. Which are, in turn, only about 15% of global emissions.

How much can they reduce their emissions by, by installing wind and solar? When you account for the required backup to take care of intermittency, the answer is probably only a trivial amount.

Its an exercise in very expensive virtue signalling. These things are usually justified in the name of the climate, as if they would have some effect on it. But if the theory is correct, they are totally useless. And very expensive.

Even if you believe there is a real climate crisis, this is idiotic. Even if there is a crisis, this is not a sensible measure to address it. Why do the alarmed keep wanting to do these things which, if their own theory is correct, will just very expensively fail to address the alleged problem?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
July 25, 2022 7:57 am

Prof Dieter Helm of Oxford University has a new essay on his website ‘The retreat from net zero’ (4th July 2022) some quotes :-

“Salient facts: no progress has been made in denting the the increase in carbon concentration in the atmosphere since 1990; that disaggregated, low density, intermittent renewables will not fill all the energy gap in place of the 80% fossil fuels we currently rely upon and that biofuels, biomass and the burning of wood pellets are a very limited option and often quite perverse”

“it is simply naive to think that wind turbines and solar panels could add up to the energy demand to replace the 80% of fossil fuels….By their nature they are low density sources of energy. It takes lots and lots of wind turbines to replace a single gas power station, and given that they are intermittent, it takes a lot of fossil fuel capacity on stand by to make sure the lights stay on.”

“This is the first net zero energy price crisis because decarbonisation policies have not taken account of the consequences of that intermittentcy rendering everything else intermittent too. It requires much more capacity to meet any given demand to ensure ensure that when the wind doesn’t blow there is something else to take up the strain. It also makes that “something else” much more expensive because the back up power stations cannot recover their costs and the contracts for gas supply are more costly to deliver because the timing and volume of demand are dependent on when the wind blows too.”

As I always mention Prof Helm is by no means a climate change sceptic and he believes that “wind and solar are necessary but a very long way from being sufficient.” But he is an acknowledged expert on Energy Policy and I am surprised that Nick doesn’t seem to understand what Prof Helm is talking about.

Mark Whitney
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 5:58 am

I think you missed some of the comment.

Reply to  Mark Whitney
July 24, 2022 6:49 am

Nick doesn’t read for comprehension, he scans for something to criticize.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  MarkW
July 24, 2022 7:04 am

Yup, Nitpick Nick Stokes modus operandi.

Reply to  MarkW
July 24, 2022 9:41 am

Scans for something to obfuscate…he knows what he is doing.

Jimmy h
Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 12:04 pm

What an embarrassing comment to make…. And this guy apparently looks after important temperature data…

July 23, 2022 7:36 pm

I see from his table 1 that PJM doesn’t have that much renewables in the mix, and the increase was too small to show up. The increase of all non-fossil was 1.35 TWh. Total generated was 821 TWh. The rise of about 8 TWh in solar/wind was almost balanced by a fall in hydro/nuclear.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 23, 2022 8:15 pm

Yet it costs their consumers $2 billion increased costs without even working out where the subsidies came from .
Renewables are all pain and no gain .

Reply to  george1st:)
July 24, 2022 4:37 am

And adding renewables always add cost to the existing grid.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 2:59 am

Where in his analysis, or in your tinkering with his analysis, does the enormous amount of CO2 emissions produced in the mining, smelting, processing, etc. of constructing wind turbines and solar panels, manufacturing of turbine blades, excavating and pouring concrete foundations, destroying natural habitats and all the rest, feature.

And all for the alleged avoidance of a trace gas essential for all life on earth.

Lunacy on stilts.

Apart from the CCP, Big Wind, gormless politicians and the rest, of course.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 6:51 am

We’re only talking about a 0.9% reduction. That’s “almost balanced”.
The big difference is that hydro/nuclear are available 24/7, while wind and solar are unreliable, cutting in or out at a moments notice.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
July 24, 2022 9:29 am

And as I ask ALL unreliable “energy” advocates, why do you Nick Stokes, hate poor people so much?

Everything to do with “renewable” generation just increases the cost of “energy” regressively hurting the poor the most, while simultaneously wasting natural recourses and man hours of labor that could otherwise been used to increase the overall wealth of society and improve the “average” standard of living for society as a whole.

So, again Nick, why do you and your religion of CAGW hate poor people!

Reply to  Drake
July 24, 2022 9:43 am

They really do hate the poor. Useless eaters, deplorables, smelly Walmart shoppers…the list goes on for how much they despise them….unless they need them for votes.

July 23, 2022 8:34 pm

The whole wind and solar scheme is a scam. Worse than that it is expensive and by it’s inefficiency makes reliable and dependable energy more expensive.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Bob
July 23, 2022 9:23 pm

Before RE was even built, they KNEW it was intermittant & quite unpredictable. Instead of giving
them a pass of being able to produce what they could when they could, they should’ve been forced
to provide most of their power at a set level over a minimum period of time. That would’ve required
using massive storage capacity- battery & stored hydro- which hasn’t even been built yet. By not
requiring that, it’s causing supply/demand & pricing problems for companies to remain profitable. Eventually, this will degrade the infrastructure needed to be able to deliver power at all.

July 23, 2022 9:41 pm

“Wind and solar electric generation are actually poor technologies no one would use without permanent government mandates and massive subsidies and taxes that are adding $1 billion a year in power cost,” writes Mr. Stevenson. “They are also unreliable, non-recyclable, have negative environmental impacts, have shorter productive life spans than alternative power sources, and take up a lot of ground. If it doesn’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions why are we using wind and solar?”

In other words ….

And to replace a coal fired power station (or equivalent) enormous areas of land is required, then the original installation wind turbines and back up “firming” equipment, transmission line to the grid and at around twenty years must be dismantled and replacements installed, and then again in around twenty years to achieve maybe sixty years working life that the original power station achieves and longer when well maintained.

So include the replacements in a cost-benefit analysis along with the subsidy incentives and penalising power stations by lowering operational efficiency as instructed to benefit the so called renewable energy sources when the wind blows and/or the sun shines.

Reply to  Dennis
July 24, 2022 4:42 am

“And to replace a coal fired power station (or equivalent)” is never accomplished as they are needed to backup those ?less expensive? renewable sources. Other than adding unreliability to a grid, what was accomplished at a much higher cost?

Reply to  CoRev
July 24, 2022 9:32 am

You do know that utility “tariffs” usually guarantee a % profit, so if the overall costs increase, the net $ profit increases, so what was accomplished was a higher $ profit for investors, and probably a higher stock price benefiting the managers of the utilities.

Paul Johnson
July 23, 2022 9:45 pm

Just as “levelized costs” fail to include the secondary effects of intermittency for Wind and Solar, so do claims of CO2 reduction. The need to keep fossil fuel power plants in reserve offsets the reduction of direct emissions. Like electric cars, Wind and Solar power plants don’t reduce emissions, they just relocate them.

Reply to  Paul Johnson
July 24, 2022 9:35 am

Only partially true. Wind solar and electric cars don’t just relocate emissions, they also increase emissions overall, when all “emission” costs of unreliable generation and EV battery manufacture is accounted for.

July 23, 2022 10:29 pm

“If it doesn’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions why are we using wind and solar?”

Answer: In order to maintain CO2 emissions at their current levels. As economies develop, the use of fossil fuels would escalate without the inclusion of renewables and/or nuclear power. This could cause a world-wide economic collapse at some point in the future as fossil fuels become scarce and expensive.

However, if we maintain the usage of fossil fuels at the current level, we will probably have sufficient supplies for a century or more, which might be long enough for us to completely transition to renewable energy, and/or safe and clean nuclear power, possible Nuclear Fusion.

Reply to  Vincent
July 23, 2022 11:23 pm

On a major scale wind and solar installations are not cost effective and are unreliable.

So ask why zero emissions reliable nuclear power stations and modular reactor generators are not the far better option, cost effective and reliable.

Reply to  Dennis
July 24, 2022 7:07 am

“On a major scale wind and solar installations are not cost effective and are unreliable.”

Within a hundred years of further technological development, there could be a significant breakthrough in battery technology. Imagine a battery that doesn’t rely upon relatively scarce resources, and is half the weight, half the cost, double the capacity, double the durability, and completely safe from spontaneous combustion. That could solve the unreliability problem.

“So ask why zero emissions reliable nuclear power stations and modular reactor generators are not the far better option, cost effective and reliable.”

The answer is obvious. The potential disasters from Nuclear Fission power plants scare the public. Whilst I agree that it is possible to build and operate fission reactors which are safe, if they are sited in areas that are not prone to earthquakes, tsunamies, volcanoes and so on, there is always the problem of human incompetence and corruption, in order to save money. There is also the problem of wars and terrorist attacks. I imagine if there were tens of thousands of fission reactors around the world or hundreds of thousands of the small modular reactors, there would be frequent nuclear disasters.

This is why research on nuclear fusion continues.
Here’s an article explaining the problems of modular reactors, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 7:37 am

Imagine a battery”.. so far, the root cause of the problem. The magic battery you speak of was “imagined” decades ago, and the push for weather-dependant generation went ahead because everybody “imagined” it’s development was “just around the corner”. Just waiting to find a large enough deposit of unobtainium and the formulation of impossibilic acid electrolyte. Any day now..

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 10:19 am

Union of Communistic scientists is a GREAT source for a balanced view of nuclear fusion electricity generation. They are my GO TO source for a balanced view of ANYTHING ‘energy” related.


Review of ALL worldwide electrical generation reactor failures.

Three Mile Island: Stuck open PORV (pressure overflow relief valve). Cooling failure due to HUMAN incompetence due to middle management fear of telling upper management a shutdown, costing “profits” was necessary. (Side note, while taking a class in effective writing for the City of Las Vegas where I worked, a memo from TMI was provided as example a totally ineffective letter. The middle management clown who wrote the 5 or 6 paragraph letter to his boss spent the first paragraphs kissing up and apologizing for even writing the letter, and in the last paragraph finally mentioned the possibility of a “catastrophic failure” if the PORV was not repaired. The purpose of using that memo was, GET TO THE POINT. Funny thing is I had seen a PBS docudrama of TMI, way back over 30 years ago when I occasionally watched PBS, and as I read the letter, I recognized what it was about.) NO deaths or illness due to the very limited release of “radioactive” steam from the partial meltdown of 1 core. To clarify why the failure, like driving your car without a radiator cap to pressurize the coolant, your engine will fail quickly.

Fukushima: What a great idea, put the backup emergency generators in the basement. Also other nuclear plants nearby were built higher above sea level and survived the tsunami and were able to shut down their reactors without issues., Stupid is as Stupid does. No deaths or illness from the partial meltdown of 4 cores.

Chernobyl: Lets not build a containment structure and use carbon moderation. Stupid is as stupid does. 47 deaths due to radiation, almost entirely to first responders.

BTW: Why do you hate poor people? All unreliable generation capacity is a net drain of societal wealth, which hurts the poor the most. And all for a perceived possible FUTURE disaster that mankind will surely find solutions to well in advance of such disaster happening, unlike your dreamed of magical batteries that will solve the unreliability of unreliables.

BTW2: When the world can’t increase wind and solar by more than a fraction of total required generation capacity, and wind an solar have a definite lifespan so that within 15 to 25 years the newly installed “farms” will require replacement, HOW will unreliables EVER provide the output required for the world’s population. Oh yea, you know that is impossible even with some magic electricity storage miracle, so you must expect a catastrophic drop in world population.

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 12:06 pm

The chemistry needed for batteries is well understood and has been the subject of much research for over 150 years. While miracles do happen, depending on them is not a wise decision.

The problems with fission have been solved. The problem with numbies whose only goal is to scare the public into supporting the solutions they support is still being worked on.

Fusion has been the power source of the future for almost 70 years.

Reply to  MarkW
July 25, 2022 7:27 am

Fusion has been the power source of the future for almost 70 years”

That’s fusion has been the future power source with in the next 50 years for the last 70 years.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 12:09 am


your options actually are no option as a transition to renewable energy will not happen leaving nuclear power. This has been obvious for very many years.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 1:55 am

Almost entirely wrong. Too many reasons to list here, but here’s a good place to start:

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 4:50 am

Vincent claims: “This could cause a world-wide economic collapse at some point in the future as fossil fuels become scarce and expensive.” What do you think is happening today, due to this war on fossil fuels? Here’s a short list.
1) War in Ukraine.
2) Runaway inflation.
3) Impending recession.
4) Unstable electricity grids.

Each of these have their own set of secondary consequences which we are also experiencing.

This is the world you prefer today to a possible future problem(s) to which you have possible solutions?

Reply to  CoRev
July 25, 2022 7:28 am

You left out the biggest one, collapsing food supplies.

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 6:56 am

The problem with your dream is that wind and solar do not reduce carbon emissions. As has been explained multiple times above.
We have way more than a century of fossil fuels left.
When we do run out of fossil fuels it will be a gradual thing occurring over multiple decades. As we run low, the cost of those fuels will increase. This will cause people to invest in other sources of power.
In the meantime, while using fossil fuels, the world grows richer, giving us a lot more wealth to handle the transition from fossil fuel to some form of energy that probably hasn’t even been invented yet.

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 7:02 am

It really does amaze me how many people believe that when we run out of fossil fuels it will be a sudden thing. One day they are there and plentiful, the next day, gone completely. The reality is that they will run out gradually. There is much oil, gas, coal that are in the ground today, but untapped because they cost too much to acquire. As the easy to reach deposits are used up and supply starts to restrict, price goes up. This makes these previously uneconomical deposits economical. This process repeats ad-infinitum until the point is reached where fossil fuels become more expensive than the next best option, or a new form of energy is invented, and people stop using fossil fuels.

The world didn’t stop using whale oil because the government mandated it.
Because of scarcity, the price of whale oil was rising, which resulted in capitalists looking about for new sources of energy. They found it in oil.

Reply to  MarkW
July 24, 2022 9:35 pm

“It really does amaze me how many people believe that when we run out of fossil fuels it will be a sudden thing. One day they are there and plentiful, the next day, gone completely. The reality is that they will run out gradually.”

Well I’m certainly not one of those people, as you should understand if you considered my previous posts without jumping to conclusions.

A transition to renewable energy will be a gradual process and might never be completely successful because of inherent inefficiencies which are impossible to overcome. Also, along the way, many policy mistakes will occur.

The main point I’m making is that it’s more sensible to prepare well in advance for a fossil fuel shortage, because the development of alternative energy sources could take many decades or even centuries.

The materials used for nuclear reactors are also limited. There’s a limted amount of Uranium in the ground, and the nuclear containment vessels are made of a variety of exotic rare metals that control and contain the nuclear reaction, such as Hafnium as a neutron absorber, Beryllium as a neutron reflector, Zirconium for cladding, and Niobium to alloy steel and make it last 40-60 years against neutron embrittlement.

If the whole world were to rely upon nuclear power, these limited resources would also gradually become more expensive, just as fossil fuels would, resulting in higher energy costs.

The sensible approach is to consider and experiment with all potential sources of energy and integrate them in the most efficient way.

Reply to  Vincent
July 26, 2022 9:57 pm

The sensible approach is to consider and experiment with all potential sources of energy and integrate them in the most efficient way.”

Not according to the renewable energy proponents.
Which is why they contract for renewable mandates, forced contracts with nuclear, coal and natural gas being pre-empted in favor of renewables.

All at the loss of immense acreage for impracticable unreliable, inconsistent poor quality energy generating wind farms and solar arrays.

No experiments at all.
No fiscal studies.
Not total ROI.
No ‘end of life’ planning for wind farms or solar energy.
No proper analysis of wildlife deaths caused by wind farms and solar arrays.
No genuine analysis of EV vehicles, their support needs or taxation strategies.
Completely bogus “levelized cost” government presumptions/assumptions.

No conceptual planning for mining the necessary metals, minerals and fossil fuels to support wind farms, solar arrays and national grids.

  1. Instead, the entire wind farm and solar array approach is to buy political support;
  2. lie to the people paying the electricity bills;
  3. politically mandate use of renewables;
  4. totally ignore the impossible amounts of metals, minerals and fossil fuels needed to fully construct renewable energy fantasies.

Do let us know when renewable energy generators have undergone full scientific research, experiments and controlled tests.
Including testing the null position and proper experiment controls.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Vincent
July 27, 2022 3:54 am

There won’t be a “transition” to “renewable” energy, ever. Wind and solar are simply incapable of providing the electricity needed by a modern society.

Reply to  Vincent
July 24, 2022 9:44 am

Why do we want to limit CO2?

July 23, 2022 11:58 pm

What a total lie, scam and grift this whole idiotic climatechange debacle is!! Geez!!

Reply to  Deano
July 24, 2022 1:58 am

Yep: all thinking people have been turned into Cassandras.

Rod Evans
July 24, 2022 1:45 am

Hey guys, consider yourselves lucky in Pennsylvania.
Here in the UK we the tax payers give DRAX over $1 billion/yr. to actually increase the UK’s CO2 emissions. The stack outflow from wood pellet burning at DRAX has cancelled all efforts to reduce domestic CO2 reductions and for that achievement they received £980 million last financial year.
It is a good job I like CO2 or I would be as mad as hell….

Reply to  Rod Evans
July 25, 2022 7:30 am

PA has been blessed with the best and most professional electric generation system in the world since the inception of electrical systems. It will be a damn shame to see it die.

Reply to  Rod Evans
July 25, 2022 8:39 am

Guess where the wood pellets are harvested, and what revolutionary carbon free transportation method is used to deliver them to South Yorkshire over land, sea and then land again (Oops gave the game away there).

July 24, 2022 3:21 am

If the luddites hadn’t killed civilian US nuclear, we’d be sitting pretty in the current age of “global warming”.

The United States Navy Nuclear Propulsion community consists of Naval Officers and Enlisted members who are specially trained to run and maintain the nuclear reactors that power the submarines and aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. Operating more than 80 nuclear-powered ships …,was%20the%20aircraft%20carrier.%20…%203%20Cruisers.%20

Nuclear power — safe, clean, reliable. And cheap to run.

Reply to  Speed
July 24, 2022 9:49 am

Yep the Navy has used nuclear for over 50 years and we can’t get small generators up and running 🙁

Reply to  Derg
July 24, 2022 11:34 am

And those that worked in the nuclear Navy found they were in demand upon discharge or retirement.

Reply to  Speed
July 26, 2022 10:05 pm

Only if the honorably discharged veteran first took 18-24 months of college to certify their knowledge.

My brother was a qualified nuclear plant operator when he was discharged. He ended up working various odd jobs, including teaching teenage delinquents.

A) Public nuclear facilities, unable to expand, was not hiring, unless someone left their position.
B) Public nuclear qualifications did not accept ‘secret’ military nuclear qualifications without proof of college training.

July 24, 2022 5:03 am

Is everyone expected to know what PJM means ?

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Greg
July 24, 2022 5:21 am

Steve Case explained @ 4th primary comment in:

PJM = Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland

Reply to  Greg
July 24, 2022 9:00 am

Greg ==>

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Greg
July 27, 2022 4:02 am

Whe they’re done destroying their electric grid, they’ll become known as “Powerless Jackasses and Morons.”

July 24, 2022 6:11 am

If you look a bit longer time scale, you see that adding wind and solar forces nuclear plants to retire.

Nuclear plants are mostly must-run price takers. Wind and solar suppress prices, worsening the economics of nuclear.

As for coal vs gas, on a total lifecycle basis, there is little or no difference in total GHGs. Leaks in the gas production and transmission emit enough methane to roughly balance the lower exhaust emissions.

In sum, all of the emissions reductions we pretend have occurred in the power system are likely just measuring errors. If you want to actually reduce emissions, the only option is nuclear energy.

Reply to  vboring
July 24, 2022 9:50 am

I don’t want less CO2…we need more.

Reply to  vboring
July 26, 2022 10:10 pm

Neither wind or solar suppress prices.

Government’s bogus LCOE adjustments use fossil and nuclear fuel efficiencies and low cost to buttress (reduce) the costs of wind and solar.

Nowhere has wind and solar reduce the price of electricity to rate paying citizens. Instead either wind or solar technology causes substantial increases to the price of energy.

Kevin kilty
July 24, 2022 6:33 am

 The efficiency of coal plants drops when they have to ramp up and down to accommodate the variability of wind and solar, which results in increased plant emissions.

Not just coal plants, but in fact any thermal power source, natural gas, solar thermal, a home furnace, even nuclear will have its efficiency reduced by “quick”, quick in the sense of scale size of the plant, ramping because this leaves high temperature heat stranded which will then eventually reaches the dead state through non-productive paths. It’s a general principle.

I should mention that this is inefficiency in addition to that imposed by consuming fuel running a thermal plant in standby mode or at reduced load.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
July 24, 2022 10:52 am

Every fuel burning engine or plant has a point of maximum efficiency.

Unreliables cause reliables to be unable to maintain that maximum efficiency.

July 24, 2022 8:00 am

There is no break even in solar and wind. Normally called a bottomless pit, except for those invested in green energy and if your a legislator you know who they are.

Bruce Cobb
July 24, 2022 8:22 am

It’s a triple-sham bim-bamboozle. They pretend that 1) wind & solar are reducing CO2 emissions, 2) CO2 emissions “threaten the planet” and 3) wind and solar are “good for the economy”. And we inflation-bashed serfs are paying for those falsehoods. Is it time for the pitchforks and tar and feathers yet?

Danley Wolfe
July 24, 2022 12:42 pm

With limited background on the US grid i spent 30 minutes trying to learn what PJM stands for … I guees right Pennsylvania, (New) Jersey and Maryland grid interconnection. My lack of familarity and ignorance on the subect. Just throught I would share this. The article might have mentioned what PJM stands for.

July 24, 2022 4:31 pm

Subsidies, grants, waivers, tax holidays, etc., from government are the telltales of uneconomic activities. If the activities had economic merit (i.e., they yield a net benefit to the stakeholders), there would be no need for “help” from government – assuming office holders {and their families and friends} do not benefit).

(Big assumption, I know.)

Rich Lentz
July 24, 2022 6:38 pm

Why is it that none of these net Zero Zealots realize that the maintenance and operation expenses of a NG or coal power plant is basically the same for running 24/7/365 and 8/7/365. Employees do not go home when the grid does not need the power or stay home until called to work. Thus you are paying for two generators, not one. The fuel costs are a small part of total expenses and an even smaller part of price on your electric bill. Then you have taxes. close to 1/2 of the total price you pay on your bill is taxes. Federal, State, County and Municipal. They are also collecting property tax on every pole or tower and ever inch/pound of copper/aluminum wire. Some states do not tax Wind/Solar facilities but that will not last once the kill the fossil cow.
And how are they going to store this electricity? It will take in the neighborhood of $10-Trillion to purchase land, construct and make operable any type of a battery or pumped storage system. 10 Trillion dollars will build a thousand One GW Nuclear power plants costing ~ Ten Billion Dollars. That would also alleviate the need for any form of Wind or Solar generation and produce sufficient power to charge all of these millions of EVs they claim we need.

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