It occurs to me that before moving on from my obsession with energy storage and and its manifest limitations, I should address the policy implications of this situation. I apologize if these implications may seem terribly obvious to regular readers, or for that matter to people who have just thought about these issues for, say, five minutes. Unfortunately, our powers-that-be don’t seem to have those five minutes to figure out the obvious, so we’ll just have to bash them over the head with it.
Here are the three most obvious policy implications that nobody in power seems to have figured out:
(1) More and more wind turbines and solar panels are essentially useless because they can never fully supply an electrical grid or provide energy security without full dispatchable backup.
Here in the U.S. the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” of 2022 provides some hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies and tax credits to build more wind turbines and solar panels. Simultaneously, the Biden Administration, directed by a series of Executive Orders from the President, proceeds with an all-of-government effort to suppress the dispatchable backup known as fossil fuels. Does somebody think this can actually work? It can’t.
And then there’s the December 6 press release from the UN’s International Energy Agency, touting how renewable energy sources (wind and solar) are being “turbocharged” to provide countries with “energy security.” The headline is: “Renewable power’s growth is being turbocharged as countries seek to strengthen energy security.” Excerpt:
The global energy crisis is driving a sharp acceleration in installations of renewable power, with total capacity growth worldwide set to almost double in the next five years. . . . “Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalise on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next 5 years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
Completely ridiculous. Wind and solar power provide the opposite of energy security. Back in the real world, just a few days after the IEA issued that nonsense, on December 11 the UK got a taste of the kind of “energy security” provided by wind and solar power, when a cold snap at the darkest part of the year came along with a prolonged period of calm in the winds — a typical winter occurrence. From the Guardian, December 11:
Live data from the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator showed that wind power was providing just 3% of Great Britain’s electricity generation on Sunday [December 11]. Gas-fired power stations provided 59%, while nuclear power and electricity imports both accounted for about 15%.
And what was the inevitable consequence of the wind conking out just when it was needed most?
UK power prices have hit record levels as an icy cold snap and a fall in supplies of electricity generated by wind power have combined to push up wholesale costs. The day-ahead price for power for delivery on Monday reached a record £675 a megawatt-hour on the Epex Spot SE exchange. The price for power at 5-6pm, typically around the time of peak power demand each day, passed an all-time high of £2,586 a megawatt-hour.
2,586 pounds/MWh would be equivalent to about $3 per kWh (wholesale), compared to a typical U.S. price for electricity of around 12-15 cents per kWh retail. Congratulations to the UK on achieving this level of “energy security.”
(2) The so-called “all of the above” energy strategy is equally disastrous.
In the U.S., Republicans sensibly looking to blunt the disastrous energy policies of the Democrats and the Biden Administration have somehow come up with something they call the “all of the above” strategy is their proposed alternative. For example, here is the webpage of the Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources, led by one Bruce Westerman of Arkansas. Excerpt:
Republicans support an all-of the-above energy approach that includes development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear, geothermal and biomass, along with clean coal and American-made oil and natural gas. A comprehensive plan will help protect the environment and improve our economic and natural security.
No, no, no and no. Because of the impracticability and cost of energy storage, building more and more wind and solar facilities cannot lead to any reduction, let alone elimination, of the fossil fuel infrastructure. You will inevitably end up with two fully redundant energy systems, both of which must be paid for even though each supplies only about half of the power to the grid. Thus at the minimum you have doubled the cost of electricity to consumers. But the worst case is far worse than that, where the government suppresses the fossil fuel backup (as in the UK). In that case, when the fossil fuel backup has been reduced but is suddenly needed, the consumer may have to pay 10 or 20 or 30 or more times a reasonable price for electricity. All due entirely to government folly. Can the U.S. Republicans avoid the disastrous blind alley into which the UK Tories have driven their country? That remains to be seen.
(3) A carbon tax is a terrible idea.
Over at the GWPF (where I am the President of the American Friends affiliate), they are in the process of sponsoring a back-and-forth debate on the subject of carbon taxes as a way to address the issue of climate change. Professor Peter Hartley of Rice University has taken the side of advocating for a carbon tax. William Happer of Princeton and energy analyst Bruce Everett have taken the negative.
The gist of the Happer/Everett piece is that CO2 is not a pollutant and poses no danger to humanity, and therefore a tax designed to suppress it is unjustified. I agree with that argument. But an equally valid and independent line of reasoning is that, because of impracticability of energy storage and the consequent futility of trying to make wind and solar generation work without fossil fuels, a carbon tax can only serve to drive up the price of energy to consumers without meaningfully changing the use of carbon fuels.
For the full article click here.
Penetration beyond a certain point of wind and solar leads to an unstable grid. And subsidies create perverse pricing of unreliables v dispatchable power, which makes the situation worse.
Possibly a practical approach toward winning this argument, without needing to resolve the “impossible” political problem of consensus on whether there is a need to reduce CO2 emissions in the first place, is to ask that priority be given to carbon-free dispatchable nuclear and hydro, even biofuels, UNTIL there is a cost-effective energy storage system actually deployed to convert wind turbines and solar panels coupled to storage as a form of dispatchable energy. At the same time, so long as there is no such storage deployed, fossil energy cannot be curtailed.
As long as subsidies and mandated preferences for wind and solar remain in place, the distortions in the market will prevail.
Running two parallel systems is too expensive, so “renewables” are preferred, despite the effects.
It’s not a pretty picture, but eventually the shit does hit the fan.
Or in this case the wind turbine.
It already has in many places. Drive through PA and you will see solar panels piled up with a sign (free).
This might change once there is a salvage market for EV batteries.
I agree. My comment relates to how to make a political case that a majority could support and that might overcome the gaslighting.
Most people consider themselves insufficiently qualified to doubt the claims of experts. The complicit propaganda media makes it appear that no qualified experts disagree with their narrative of climate emergency.
I don’t actually see any strategy that has a high probability of success. But maybe an honest compromise can break through.
What I mean by “honest compromise” is different from disingenuously supporting “carbon-free” energy because we pretend to agree that CO2 is a problem.
The idea here is to clearly state that we doubt that there is anything but net benefit from CO2 emissions, but we acknowledge that a majority thinks otherwise. So we suggest an approach that is more practical than intermittent sources.
Zero-carbon sources that are dispatchable and research into viable storage is a common-sense approach if eliminating CO2 emissions is a non-negotiable demand. Maybe it would expose the true agenda if they oppose a viable approach in favor of one that most people can recognize as threatening their personal wealth.
Just watch them.
The grid stability problem can be “solved” by adding in batteries, synchronous condensers and other expensive parasitic paraphenalia. They do add substantially to costs. The problems of intermittency and rising levels of curtailment as capacity is increased are a whole different ball of wax.
Sufficient “batteries” do not exist anywhere at grid scale, and the lithium and cobalt required would require several hundred years production for even one country, let alone worldwide.
Most greens envision something with the performance of Heinlein’s Shipstones, which are still fiction.
There is probably sufficient to solve the grid stability problem. The intermittency problem can’t begin to be tackled by batteries.
SCMES do exist on the grid scale with some viable impact but it’s a drop in the bucket. Current, SCMES do not have the energy density to support the grid entirely, if they did it would have been a no brainer by now. It would take a magical breakthrough in SC to make SCMES viable to support the entire grid or be profitable at any scale of application.
The key is “Grid Scale”. 10-15 years from now there will be millions of EV batteries available in the salvage market. In addition, millions of square feet of solar panels will also be in the salvage markets. CNG is cheap and will likely remain cheap and portable. Micro-turbine burners and generators are available. Put it all together and you have a do it yourself off grid revolution. Could this be the reason the hydrocarbon fuel industry is lobbying for carbon taxes with a anti-off grid riders?
Salvage EV batteries may only have 20% capacity left, but if they are super cheap buy at salvage and the solar cells are pennies on a dollar…. then off grid they go. We can talk politics and ideology all you want but people will figure out how to save or make a buck.
“ At the same time, so long as there is no such storage deployed, fossil energy cannot be curtailed.”
Sure it can. A few hours ago in California we got more than 50% of our power from renewables. That curtailed a lot of fossil fuel use. It’s expensive, I think I pay around $0.30 per kWh, but it does curtail fossil fuel use. In California we are now well into the afternoon fossil fuel ramp. Sometimes the three-hour afternoon ramp is 13,000 MW, sometimes more. That’s a lot of power plants that have to ramp up quickly, which is also expensive because it wears them out faster.
I could buy a 13.5 kWh Tesla battery for $8,500 that would probably get my family through the night. If it lasts ten years, that’s only $87 per month, amortized at 6%, plus a bit for charging losses.
Of course we would have to quadruple (or more) our renewable output, which might mean electricity would go to $1.00 per kWh, but I would still be spending only about as much on electricity as I spend on holidays and entertainment; because I’m white and privileged (pardon the tautology).
The burden would be on the poor. But since more than half of Americans pay no taxes we can expect that I would be expected to pay much more for electricity than most people, in order to pay for the subsidized poor. So my electricity bill would be around $5,000 per month, maybe $7500 is I also drive an electric car. I’ll pack my bags and move somewhere else long before that happens. But fossil fuel use will be greatly curtailed in California, mostly due to abject poverty.
Why Tesla battery? There are other possibilities. I’m electrotechnical engineer, I built my own battery from cells, it costs me 1700$ per 5kWh.
You can buy complete battery for 2000$. Check for example SOK batteries, 48V 100Ah 5kWh.
In my case 2,5kWh battery was able to save 66% of my energy consumption throughout year.(4600kWh yearly consumption, 3100kWh from solar)
Saves me 450E yearly, battery was 750E.
it may have curtailed the amount of fuel but much of the fossil fuel generation will still be running with all of their costs. You must have dispatchable generation to keep the grid balanced and provide inertia. That is the duplicate system refered to in the article, it is essential and very inefficient to run a power system in this way.
With enough batteries one could run a grid without fossil fuels but it would be very expensive and there is currently no compelling reason to do that.
Is this the argument that is motivating many states to build anti-off grid regulation into their carbon tax legislation? Micro applications make the macro application less profitable? If the micro solution is more efficient and profitable for the home owner then why not move in the direction of micro-solutions to solve the macro problem? I know the answer. A truly revolutionary scalable electrical energy storage system doesn’t exist that would make the micro solution equitable for all. Until then the grid is the only solution.
One of the most insane responses to grid instability is to spin a large rotating mass very similar to the rotor of a generator but consuming energy not producing it to keep the frequency stable.
So the 1992 Inflation Reduction Act will produce more wind turbines and solar panels, and at the same time the government will suppress fossil fuel back-up power. Does somebody think this can actually work?
A very smart guy I know, running his own company with his own patented products when asked, “Do you really think that the world economy can run on solar panels and wind turbines? His simple answer was, “Yes”
I suppose you meant 2022?
But what is your point that someone who runs a business and has had success in one area thinks that the world can run on wind and solar? That everyone makes mistakes?
The point is that smart successful people who should know better, because of their personal politics, swallow whatever their side of the coin says without question.
Elon Musk admires the sun…he says look at that huge fusion power source…..why don’t we make more use of it? Of course he sells this stuff and has gotten rich off it. Thorium powered liquid salts cooled reactors are the answer now.
there yuh go- a simple answer- rather than a clear explanation
“on December 11 the UK got a taste of the kind of “energy security” provided by wind and solar power, when a cold snap at the darkest part of the year came along with a prolonged period of calm in the winds — a typical winter occurrence.”
So why aren’t “the masses” in the UK out in the streets protesting the failed energy policies?
Because there were no major power cuts, and none are likely for the rest of the winter . Mass protests dont have much effect in Britain. The hunger marches of the ’30s did not alleviate poverty and unemployment in the Northern cities. The mass Ban the Bomb marches of the 50s/60s did not produce nuclear disarmament . Millions protesting the covid lockdown/ vaccine nonsense had no effect . The only protests that actually changed Govt policy were the Poll tax riots of the early ’90s and that was probably because they were riots rather than protests and accompanied by violence . It is the violence that is successful , not the protesting.
It’s interesting how the Poll Tax protests had an effect while the others did not. One factor may have been that huge numbers of people were affected financially in the pocket by the Poll Tax and thus started voting against the Conservatives. By and large the only thing that is going to change the minds of politicians is the prospect of losing an election. No government was going to lose an election by maintaining nuclear weapons. It will be interesting to see how much popular opposition there is in Oxford and Canterbury to the imposition of 15-minute zones. Unfortunately the next elections to Oxfordshire County Council aren’t due until 2025 but the next elections for Canterbury Council are in May 2023. But people will really only be able to show their opposition to the zones if there are candidates standing on an anti-zone ticket as all the main parties and the Greens are clearly in favour
Because there are very few places that tell them the truth. The government lies to itself. For example:
The latest polling from the Public Attitudes Tracker showed that 88% of people support the use a renewable energy in the UK – beating last year’s previous high of 84% – whilst only 2% oppose them.
Conducted this autumn, the survey was published this Thursday (15 December) by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
In regard to individual renewable technologies, 85% of people said that they supported offshore wind, whilst 79% supported onshore. Only 4% opposed onshore wind and even less (2%) opposed offshore.
At the beginning of this month the UK Government announced it is to relax its de facto ban on onshore wind following growing pressure from MPs.
Wave and tidal energy received similarly high support at 84% and only 1% of the public opposing it.
74% of the public also agreed that renewable energy benefits the UK economically.
The increasing level of public support coincides with continued high concerns around climate change; 83% of people in the UK are worried about climate change, whilst the number of people “very concerned” has risen by 6% to 45%.
People are not given the facts, they are inundated with propaganda and sock puppet polling like this, where you can bet the answers were heavily coloured by questionnaire design.
the vast majority of the public are not aware why there are capacity shortages, the media do not tell the people the whole story, if indeed the media even understand how a relatively simple system such as a power grid operates.
kudos to the creator of that object d’art at the top of this page- I’d like to know who the creator is- it’s very nice, IMHO and the photo of it
I’m guessing it’s an AI drawing, though I may be wrong.
I watch a series on Netflix about glass blowers and enjoy it very much.
Yes. Someone got new ‘art’ software and is using it here at every opportunity.
I don’t hate, I don’t even care at all. I just found the new regime a bit amusing, especially when there have been so many comments from people who did not realize what it is.
Some of the image are rather interesting. None were terrible that I recall, but sometimes I would have liked to see a photo that enlightened me on the actual article.
I used AI to create it specifically for this post using the concept of a Klein Bottle.
And here I thought it was a Hunter Biden original (crack pipe or bong).
Your skill with this type of art has added to the leadership and appeal of WUWT. It is a voluntary task for you on top of a demanding production schedule, beyond the call of duty effort
Much appreciated. Geoff S
In the UK the coldest weather almost invariably comes at periods with no wind, in summer the hottest times also come at times of low winds. In both cases there are peaks in demand.
Unfortunately there’s very few UK politicians who’ve noticed this
They have noticed. But if they want to continue to be politicians they just keep quiet about it.
“Unfortunately there’s very few UK politicians who’ve noticed this” Oh, I suspect they have noticed this but their quest for political power (not the useful kind of power) has overcome their sense of responsibility -the little that they had.
I’ve been watching the ‘twin’ sites of BMReports and also energynumbers.
BMRs tell you about (wholesale buy/sell) electricity prices and energynumbers tell of where the leccy comes from
What’s noticeable/memorable is that over the course of the last 36 hours, gas and wind generation have swapped places in the generation league-table
Where gas was being pushed to its limit of 23GW on Friday, wind was supplying up to 7GW.
Meantime the inter-connectors were sucking in power from everywhere and buy/sell prices were about £320 per MWh
Today, just now in fact, gas is at 6GW and wind is supplying just shy of 20GW (Metered wind, there’s lots of little ‘farmer’s fields’ turbines simply working to reduce demand and un-metered)
Demand is about the same at low 40’sGW for this time of day
But despite “Wind is Free and Sustainable” and “Gas is Horrible & Mr Putin is a Robbing Bastid Lowlife“, BMReports say that leccy is still about £270 per MWh
Maybe I should run that though a little spreadsheet but ‘just eyeballing’ it – it stinks, it just doesn’t ‘seem’ right especially in light of what we’re constantly told.
The most determined and constant green-washers in this thing are our own Governments
Within a few days, wind has gone from providing 3 percent of UK electricity to 43 percent (December 19). This is the problem: wind’s variability.
I’ve been following the situation in the UK (just across the Channel from where I am) since the “rapid” drop in wind output from the 26th to the 29th of November.
For background on my “methodology” see the pair of posts starting at this embedded link (as well as the links within those posts).
Data updated to 8am (GMT) today, with Nuclear added for comparison purposes.
Question : How easily can Wind and/or Solar be ramped up to something close to their “nominal / nameplate / baseplate” capacity output values as and when requested to do so ?
I would argue that solar arrays reduce albedo, increasing SW into the system. Also taking KE out of the atmosphere decreases surface cooling. Net net, solar and wind do NOT solve the problem that the loons cackle over. Their solution exacerbates it.
This chart shows wind, biomass and hydro generation for the UK as weekly averages. Scale it up how you like, but it should be obvious that massive amounts of storage would be needed to make it a possible way to keep the lights on.
In Oz they’re all singing from the same political hymn book now at the AEMO etc-
That’s because there were a whole heap of people moving on all of a sudden in the past for wiser career moves-
and in come the new hopefuls-
but of course you need a People Officer to attract and retain staff when you’ve had so many moving on-
So now the AEMO is all full of yes men and women dedicated to the cause while the hard nosed tech heads have fled to leave them to it. So the Groupthink is right behind grinning Minister Bowen with solar wind transmissioning and storage as the cheapest power and coincidentally going to change the weather for us all. Why then would you put a cap on fossil fuel prices and need to subsidise the aforesaid when Putin has done you a big favour with relative costings? Won’t the smart money be rushing in to scoop up?
Today at 7:20 pm in fossil fuel rich Alberta, Solar was producing ZERO electricity and wind was at 4.5% maximum capability per the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) Just as the province is heading for a week long cold spell, wind & solar are essentially ‘no shows’
And yet the civil servant bureaucrats want more wind & solar.
The government is probably investing all its civil servant pensions fund in these schemes. They are so far behind being able to finance the pensions that they have to make this new idea fly.
This data makes a lot of sense, except if we’re doomed we have no choice. Eliminate the doom and level the playing field. Allow one country, one state or city to test all the renewables and see if they can work. That’s what sensible folks would do, but we’re doomed.
I say in order to force Scientific Transparency into the open someone, anyone needs to sue Al Gore for lying to the public and kids for personal gain. Let’s see the outcome. Let’s let Scientific Transparency shine.
I’m thinkin’ Sisyphus with syphilis:
Oooh! Aaah! Renewables are so cheap they’ll even pay to generate it for you-
and Amber are only too ready and willing to help the poor individual consumer cash in on the wholesale largesse-
Don’t let Big Biz scoop it all up and screw you over folks when Amber can get you in on the action for a small monthly fee.
For folks who may be into Self Flagellation, I give you this…
Headline:“Energy requirements and carbon emissions for a low-carbon energy transition
I leave no comment apart from “I feel brainache coming on just from looking at the link”
I do suspect there may be a few nuggets of truth buried in there, but they will be ‘well buried’
Gov’t subsidies for wind and solar are analogous to the NBA financing the WNBA ( pro basketball here in the states for all my friends outside the USA). There is no way that either solar/wind or WNBA can make it on their own without subsidies. The market will not support either without financial assistance.
There will never be enough money or materials to battery back up global grids, so forget this folly and concentrate on reliable, affordable energy
Never is a long time. So what we need is far less expensive hydrocarbon fuel. If there is no tach solution to diminished the hydrocarbon fuel market then the next step for the anti-anthropomorphic environmentalists is to figure out how to depopulate the world using propaganda. They already have a pretty good momentum doing.. This means they victimize themselves by not marrying nor having children and they want all their peers to do the same. In the US, the millennial generation, (ends in 1996) only 53% are married The predictions for Gen-Z is far worse.
· If Renewables are a political subsidy bandwagon cart without a horse (The future Grand Next Gen Battery), then renewables contribute little the grid distribution, and the market for hydrocarbon fuel is not impacted by renewable electrical generation.
· If you do the efficiency math on EV, grid sourced electricity and traditional gas-powered cars, the EV will result in a decrease in demand for hydrocarbon fuel by approximately 4-5% if at all. The key factor is the accelerating decline in the lithium battery efficiency over the 10 year lifespan.
· If the hydrocarbon industry Pro-Carbon Tax lobby at the Federal & State level continues to be successful, every state will have new anti-off grid regulations.
· If every state has new anti-off grid regulations, then there will be no increasing demand for home based electrical generation and storage systems using any energy input (hydrocarbon fuel-renewables). Off grid can only be made profitable by a the Grand Next Gen Battery which doe not exit….. (but there is a American folk alternative).
Yet the hydrocarbon fuel industry must be worried the Next Gen Battery is coming soon or they would not tack on anti-grid regulations to their Carbon tax lobby.
I think they should be worried. All those old lithium EV batteries and dumped solar panels could be salvaged cheap in the near future. I know many guys who are thinking about pilling up salvaged EV batteries in their barns with salvaged solar panels, and burning CNG via micro turbine powered generators to do their own electricity to run their E-tractors and heat their green houses. LOL
· If there is no off-grid revolution, then there will be no significant increase in the efficiency of electrical generation and distribution in the US, unless the grid can make it happen at $700-$900 billion rebuild using the Grand Next Gen Battery which does not exist and isn’t on the horizon.
· If there is no significant increase is the efficiency of grid delivered electricity, then there is no change in demand for hydrocarbon fuel.
(Get the cascading defeat of anything that will result in a diminished hydrocarbon fuel market).
· The paradoxical result is status quo hydrocarbon fuel markets in an era of political turmoil and a massive contagion of gas lighting of everyday consumers.
· If the outcome of the political turmoil and gas lighting results in the status quo, then who has the most to gain from the status quo?
· The anti-anthropomorphic environmentalist will not benefit from the status quo, they are victims of their own gas lighting movement…pawns in a much larger drama. (Except for the few who further themselves politically or professionally)
· Status quo for me means I keep driving my 2002 Mercury Sable 6V station wagon and paying through the nose for hydrocarbon generated grid distributed electricity, Gasoline, and heating oil. Nothing has changed since I started driving in1972 just a few years before the US hydrocarbon companies tried to convince me my demand for gasoline was a problem because the global supply was running out. The gas lighting approach has become far more twisted, sinister and sophisticated than 1974.
That is the way the world goes round some days it makes sense other days it’s just a futile harangue. 8 acres of woods, a saw and a splitting mall will keep your house warm forever.
correction… anti-off Grid. no anti-grid. The Hydrocarbon folks are pro grid to the max.