The “Pollock Limit”

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Christopher Monckton recently put up a fascinating post entitled “The Final Nail in The Coffin Of “Renewable” Energy”. In it, he references the work of a man named Douglas Pollock who has proposed that there is a limit to the share of energy that a given renewable source can supply to the grid without battery backup. Further, Pollock says that the limit is the “capacity factor”, the fraction of the nameplate capacity that a renewable source can actually supply.

A rebuttal of this was put up as a post entitled “Sealing The Coffin Of “Renewable” Energy May Take A Few More Nails“, and Lord Monckton posted up a re-rebuttal entitled “Why Climate Skepticism Has Not Yet Succeeded“.

(Unfortunately, in the comments of the latter post I fear I waxed wroth when Christopher falsely accused me of being “openly and deliberately dishonest” … ah, well, I know that science is a blood sport, but I won’t take that from any man. However, I digress …)

While interesting, Lord Monckton’s posts are theoretical exercises. He has not provided any actual data to back them up. And when I looked at the data, I found a problem—most countries are well below the “Pollock limit”, and thus they can’t say anything at all about what happens when the windpower share of total electrical generation nears the Pollock limit.

Figure 1. Percentage of electricity from wind by country. Dotted line shows the global average wind capacity factor, which is the average fraction of the nameplate capacity that a wind turbine can actually supply in the real world.

However, a couple of countries have renewables shares that are above the Pollock limit. I picked Ireland as a test case. I got the annual information on the Irish electrical supply from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Here, on a year-by-year basis, is the annual windpower share of total Irish electricity versus the annual installed capacity (red/black line), as well as the annual capacity factor (yellow/black line).

Figure 2. Annual Irish wind share versus installed wind capacity, and wind capacity factor. 2022 values are from here and are preliminary.

There are several interesting insights from Figure 2. First, in contradiction to the proposed numerical value of the Pollock limit as being equal to the capacity factor, the wind power share of total Irish electricity is well above the wind capacity factor.

Next, it’s interesting how much the wind capacity factor varies year to year, swinging about ± 5% above and below the average value,

Next, in agreement with the concept of the Pollock limit, as the installed capacity has increased, the windpower share has moved more and more in parallel with the wind capacity factor.

Finally, the last four years are particularly interesting. From 2019 to 2022 Ireland added about 4 TWh of wind nameplate capacity … but the share of the total generated by wind only increased slightly. So it certainly appears as though it’s approaching some kind of limit.

These facts taken together suggest that there is a limit, as the Pollock limit states, but that in the Irish case, it’s higher than the capacity factor.

To visualize this in a different way, I looked at the annual windpower share as a percent of the annual capacity factor. Here’s that result (yellow line), along with theoretical calculations of what it should look like if the Pollock limit were 100% of the capacity factor (blue/black dashed line), and also what the real limit curve might be (red/black line).

Figure 3. Irish annual windpower share of total generation as a percentage of annual wind capacity factor (“Pollock limit”)(yellow), along with theoretical Pollock (blue-dashed) and possible real-world (red) limits.

In Figure 3, the curves show the situation when as the share of total generation approaches some physical li limit, each addition of wind capacity will make less and less difference as it slowly approaches the limit.

So … is there a limit?

The Irish data strongly implies that such a limit exists. And at least in the case of Ireland, it’s likely higher than the current value of 22.5% above the Pollock limit. Is it on the order of 40% above the Pollock limit as the speculative red curve illustrates? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The problem is that we don’t really have enough data to say definitely what the limit is for Ireland, or even if such a limit exists. What’s shown in Figure 3 could just be a temporary slowdown … or not. A few more years should make things much clearer.

And that’s what I have found out about the Pollock limit. I have exactly zero idea why Ireland is able to exceed the Pollock limit. The claim is that, absent grid-scale batteries, the Pollock limit is a real physical limit equal to the capacity factor. But that is certainly not the case for Ireland. It’s already 22% above the capacity factor. Why? How?

The reason cannot be economics, because Christopher’s mathematical derivation in his original post doesn’t contain any economics-related terms. (Or alternatively, if economics is the reason, then Christopher’s math must be incomplete.)

All thoughts on that question considered, although perhaps not replied to. So many drummers, so little time …

My best to all, and thanks to Christopher, Lord Monckton for highlighting Pollock’s most interesting theory.

w.

As Always: When you comment please quote the exact words you are referring to. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend your (mis)interpretation of my words. Thanks.

A Footnote Worth Noting: I am an honest man. I do my very best to tell the truth as I know and see it. Yes, I have been wrong, and more than once. And when I’m wrong, I admit it. Heck, I even have a whole post called “Wrong Again“, and to cap that off, another post called “Wrong Again, Again — who does that but a scrupulously honest man?

But despite being wrong at times in matters big and small, wrong far more times in my life than I’d prefer, I do my honest best to not ever lie, shade the truth, misstate facts, or deceive people.

So I’ll thank everyone to avoid accusing me of any of those misdeeds, as it angrifies my blood. And if that happens, it may well result in me conjecturing about the probable species and personal hygiene of some of your recent progenitors … and it also would involve a significant chance of me politely inviting you to engage in anatomically improbable acts of sexual auto-gratification and self-congress …

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Tom.1
January 19, 2023 10:18 am

Willis- You did not mention overbuilding. What can you say about that?
Is Ireland overbuilt?

Last edited 19 days ago by Tom.1
Tom.1
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 10:48 am

Ok, then I will. I think Francis was right. You can exceed the Pollack limit by overbuilding. You just need to build enough windmills to generate your total demand when wind generation capacity is generating any power at all. Suppose wind energy is only available 60% of the time. You can’t overbuild to cover the 40%; nothing you can do about that. But suppose that the first increment of windpower meets 1% of demand. Then you must build 100 times that in wind generation capacity to satisfy all the demand. But that is not economically practical. There may be an optimal level of overbuilding and if there is, I suppose someone has figured it out. I will leave it to them.

David Wojick
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2023 11:39 am

Overbuilding has decreasing return so it too has a limit. Without huge storage no amount of overbuilding will cover when wind is too low to generate, typically below 8 mph, which is often in most locations. It is especially true during peak demand which tends to be a low wind condition.

Tom.1
Reply to  David Wojick
January 19, 2023 12:22 pm

I guess you mean a decreasing return of power per unit of installed capacity. That is really just a diminishing economic return. If economics were the only consideration, we would not be building very many wind turbines at all, or at least not until fossil energy became much more expensive. Suppose the minimum output of a wind turbine is 10% of its nameplate, at which point it goes offline. That means in order to meet 100 percent of demand when turbine output is at minimum, you need to build nameplate capacity that is ten times greater than your total demand. On top of that you need standby capacity equal to 100 percent of demand (or more). I realize this is a gross oversimplification, but if you’re going to build wind turbines for non-economic reasons, then there is still an optimal level of installed wind capacity based on the characteristics of the turbines, their cost, and wind availability.

AndyHce
Reply to  David Wojick
January 19, 2023 3:29 pm

But the overbuilding will “return” huge costs.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  AndyHce
January 20, 2023 6:31 am

In a captive market, such as a government monopoly or by regulatory fiat, that doesn’t matter. Those costs just get passed to the consumer and they don’t have a choice. Well, they can not use electricity, but I suppose that’s what the greentards want anyway.

MarkW
Reply to  David Wojick
January 19, 2023 3:31 pm

Even with batteries, you still need substantial overbuilding in order to have enough excess power to charge the batteries.

sherro01
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 3:13 pm

Careful Willis,
Christopher’s math analysis “said nothing about” countries. It was about grids, yet your analysis here is by country. Logically, you would need to discuss factors relating grid to country, where that relation is arguable, to ensure that “country” was a valid proxy for
“grid”.
I am suggesting that the “said nothing about” style of analysis can be problematic.
Geoff S

It doesnot add up
Reply to  sherro01
January 20, 2023 3:19 am

The island of Ireland is one grid and two countries. At least for now.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 4:09 pm
  • Neither The Pollock cap nor Monckton suggest that a grid cannot be overbuild with wind and solar, It only indicates that cost effectively it shouldn’t be overbuild. Monckton goes into considerable detail about overbuilding. Eschenbach must have missed a few paragraphs in all three of Monkton’s postings. I’m dumbfounded. I’ve read Eschenbach for years and agreed with every word he said. I’m also shocked!
  • My understanding of the Ireland grid is there are no curtailment payments. Great, that’s the way it should be, if supply exceeds demand shut it down. But if so the wind generator must be making it up somewhere else with either higher rates or a high tariff. Otherwise, wind generators would have revenue issues and new generator capacity would seem uneconomical.
Rick C
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 6:20 pm

I think part of the problem is the complicated nature of capacity factor as it applies to wind. It arises not just from wind being present at useable velocities, but also on the relationship between wind speed and power output as well as timing of output level variation versus load demand variation.

It might be simpler to consider the issue of a limit for solar where the biggest capacity factor is a result of sun/no sun (day/night). If, for example, we have a solar powered grid which gets sun sufficient to produce useable output 33% of the time we could install enough panels to meet 100% of demand during that 33% of the time. But those panels would produce no power the other 67% of the time. Now, can we just over build and triple the panel area to get more power? No, not unless we install storage capable of taking in and later supplying the 2/3s of power needed when the sun doesn’t shine.

Maybe Pollock’s on to something, but has overly simplified to problem.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 1:29 pm

Willis writes “Ireland has no battery backup.”

Ireland has an interconnect to mainland UK.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 20, 2023 12:43 am

Ireland simply dumps its excess on Great Britains grid and if that overflows it gets sent to Norway, France, Belguim, or the Netherlands

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 4:27 pm

Monckton is his own words:
1.   The miserably low capacity factor R is in fact also the fundamental limit fmax on the contribution that unreliable can make to the grid without prohibitively expensive and logistically unachievable large-scale static-battery backup.

2.   That limit is equal their capacity factor (also sometimes known as the load factor). If one were to add more unreliables to the grid, one would be wasting surplus electricity.

3.   Calculation of the capacity factor must be performed with some care for a particular grid. In the UK, Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University is the ranking expert. He reckons it is about 24% of nameplate capacity for onshore wind in the UK, and perhaps 30-35% for offshore wind.

4.   In practice, then, installing significantly more unreliables capacity than the Pollock limit will be wasteful, and the more that limit is exceeded the more wasteful the outcome.
 
5.   The Pollock limit – adding renewables to the grid is pointless, wasteful, expensive and destabilizing.

Comment:
 ” If one were to add more unreliables to the grid, one would be wasting surplus electricity” (That’s clearly a description of “overbuilding”)..

“installing significantly more unreliables capacity than the Pollock limit will be wasteful” (That’s clearly a description of “overbuilding”).

“The Pollock limit – adding renewables to the grid is pointless, wasteful, expensive and destabilizing”.(That’s clearly a description of “overbuilding”).

Normal conversation considering the context of the discussion does not require adding parenthetically behind “unreliables” (overbuilding). Surely not!.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 5:42 pm

Did you read my Monckton in his own words posting were he talked about “overbuilding”, without stating it explicitly? I’ve read your postings for years and have always been impressed by your intellect. But I think you missed a point in the Monckton article,

Most WUWT readers would agree that wind and solar may have questionable merit beyond a five (5) percent grid penetration. The Pollack cap suggests that a questionable investment in W&S becomes horrible at capacity factor. It does not say it can’t be exceeded it suggests it shouldn’t be..

Regarding the Ireland grid, The Pollock Cap doesn’t tell if the overbuilding is bad for the generator, the utility, the rate payer, or the taxpayer, if the general fund is being robbed, like in Germany, to pay the tariff, It simply demonstrates the sharp break in the diminishing returns;

Someone posted, yesterday, that the Ireland grid doesn’t pay for curtailment. Do you know if that is correct? Under that arrangement that would confuse the “Limit”, but as described above someone is still “getting stiffed”.

PCman999
Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
January 19, 2023 11:56 pm

Yes, overcapacity would come from overbuilding, but it sounds like he is ruling it out ‘a priori’ as too expensive. A very windy place might find it cheaper to overbuild a lot and have small battery backup. From what I’ve seen 4hrs battery backup cost is in the same ballpark as wind power, and 4hrs is nothing. Might need as much as 3 weeks worth like in windy UK to make up for calm periods or even for low wind/high demand periods when there’s not enough juice to charge the batteries, but only for demand.

It’s just a nightmare of calculations and we’d be better off just passing on the whole nut-zero fool’s errand.

PCman999
Reply to  PCman999
January 20, 2023 12:03 am

And I forgot to add that, esp. in Ireland’s case, its Pollock Limit, Pollock Suggestion, is greatly enhanced by the fact it can sell its overproduction to the UK.

Really, Pollock Analysis has to be done over the whole grid, whether the grid is only Texas or whether it spans Europe.

wilpost
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 5:37 pm

Ireland has major connections to the UK and French grids, both of which are much larger than the Irish grid.
That means Ireland can have its wind output balanced by these two grid, in just the same way Denmark, balances its grid with major ties to the Nord Grid

Denmark and Ireland just become wind power states, just as, for example Russia is a petrostate

sherro01
Reply to  wilpost
January 19, 2023 6:02 pm

Christopher’s essay was about a grid, so examples of two or more grids with interconnectors do not apply.
I see the Pollock Limit as a useful concept for those designing grids and grid changes. Easy to calculate, easy to compare with other grids, easy memory jogger to treat design with caution beyond a recognised point. Geoff S

David Dibbell
Reply to  sherro01
January 20, 2023 4:11 am

Well put, Geoff S.

wilpost
Reply to  sherro01
January 20, 2023 4:26 am

Almost all grids have connections to nearby grid and that trend will be increasing with HVDC lines, as it did in Europe, which is about 10 years ahead of the U.S. in that area.

Long before the Pollock limit is reached, these connections will be in place, as happened in Europe. After that, the Pollock limit was comfortably exceeeded

Last edited 18 days ago by wilpost
It doesnot add up
Reply to  wilpost
January 20, 2023 7:12 am

That’s a fallacy of composition, since there is far too much correlation of demand and solar and wind output across neighbouring countries. The likely result is hoping that someone else has the dispatchable capacity and finding they don’t (see Duke and TVA just recently), coupled with surpluses that must be curtailed at other times because no-one wants them at any positive price.

wilpost
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 20, 2023 8:07 am

Regarding Germany and Denmark, the Norgrid is the go-to place with many hydro plants

Regarding Ireland, the UK and French grids are much larger; similar to a pee in a lake

Regarding Spain, it and Portugal have many hydro plants, including pumped storage and strong connections to France, which has many hydro plants, including pumped storage.

The lack of “composition” is due to a lack of inter-regional planning

It doesnot add up
Reply to  wilpost
January 20, 2023 12:06 pm

There has been plenty of intra-regional planning at ENTSO-E which has developed a large number of interconnection projects. However they have not paid attention to the limitations on usefulness and other impacts of interconnection. There are for instance severe limits on the extent to which Norway can provide useful backup to its neighbours, and already the consequences of doing so are uncomfortable for Norwegians. But if we ignore those economic factors, the physical limitations are soon exposed anyway.

http://web.archive.org/web/20160801042131/https://euanmearns.com/how-much-wind-and-solar-can-norways-reservoirs-balance/

wilpost
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 20, 2023 2:04 pm

Norway’s problem is a lack of water. It can still balance, but not export.
Germany had a lack of wind in 2021, was hoping for electricity imports from France (which had a lack of water), and Norway.

I agree about physical limitations, especially when offshore wind is built on the East Coast
HQ may become less of an exporter to NE and NY, because of EVs and HPs
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-biden-administration-s-offshore-wind-fantasy

Reply to  sherro01
January 21, 2023 10:25 am

note he never said “isolated grids”

rule #1 when a skeptic says X is impossible, you can know with certainty they are wrong

Hatter Eggburn
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 22, 2023 9:11 am

A 100% renewable grid is impossible.
Time travel is impossible.
Driving Russia out of Ukraine the new part of Russia is impossible.

“Impossible” can be hard to hear but is sometimes true.

c1ue
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 6:19 am

Willis,
I have let my Excel Monte Carlo software package subscription expire.
But if R has this capability, I suspect you might be able to run some Monte Carlo type simulations to see how 2-30% capacity factor suppliers (random on periods) do not equate to 1-60% dispatchable demand supply.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2023 3:23 pm

The first windmill is overbuilding
The first solar panel is overbuilding
They should be in museums
Not attached to electric grids.

Bill Johnston
Reply to  Tom.1
January 20, 2023 2:15 am

Totally underbuilt.

Jest for the record: I’m not so young that I can’t remember when the Irish Space Agency were raising money from the sinking Pacific Islands green-energy COP-out fund run by WWF and Greenpieces for an expedition to land astronauts on the sun.

They had a combustible flag made of eucalyptus sticks so they could do a smoking ceremony and thereby claim sovereignty over the solar systems’ 2564^18654^120 year old indigenous population.

I swear it’s true. Hatrick Poppycock said it was, they were going to do it at night so they would not get burnt. As Dr Poppycock was a climate scientist she knew everything.

 
Bill Johnston
http://www.bomwatch.com.au

pillageidiot
January 19, 2023 10:31 am

Does Ireland have an interconnection to a separate, stable electricity grid?

If so, then that may be playing the role of “battery backup”. That would allow Ireland to exceed the Pollock Limit.

Andrew
Reply to  pillageidiot
January 19, 2023 10:36 am

As I see it, it is not a limit. You can exceed the limit whenever you want. It just gets more expensive.
So is their electricity expensive?

Scissor
Reply to  Andrew
January 19, 2023 11:03 am

Solar power at night must be expensive.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Scissor
January 19, 2023 12:29 pm

Spain apparently has demonstrated that.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Scissor
January 19, 2023 12:52 pm

Just as expensive as wind power when the wind isn’t blowing.

Craig Howard
Reply to  Andrew
January 19, 2023 12:43 pm

That’s exactly as I saw it. People are acting as if any windmills built after exceeding the limit will topple over or just cease to function.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  pillageidiot
January 19, 2023 1:08 pm

There are two to the UK
The East–West Interconnector is a 500 MW high-voltage direct current submarine and subsoil power cable which connects the Irish and British electricity markets. The project was developed by the Irish national grid operator EirGrid. Wikipedia
The Moyle interconnector between Scotland and Northern Ireland, NI has quite a bit of gaa generation.
There’s another being built.
Northern Ireland and Eire are a single market for electricity I think.

pillageidiot
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 19, 2023 2:14 pm

Thanks for the additional info!

I suspected that was probably the case to some degree.

Likewise, my family budget would also be more robust if I could just take money out of other people’s pockets when things got tight.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 20, 2023 12:51 am

100% correct. What a pleasure to see someone check their facts before posting. Eirgrid is geographically rather than politically aligned, and is actually pretty well run.

I know someone who was employed to establish just how much fossil fuel the windmills svaed. Oh dear. In fact 50% otf te clained gains of the renewables turned out to be lost in spooling up the gas turbines when the wind dropped and letting the whole shebang cool down when the wind started up again.

Duker
Reply to  pillageidiot
January 19, 2023 3:58 pm

Ireland has two. One 500MW for Republic and another for The North. Both connect to the vastly bigger UK grid
They also have piped natural gas from scotland and coal generators as well
‘Controversially, several new gas-fired power plants are expected to be built over the next decade to “bridge the gap” to renewables as the mainstay of Ireland’s energy. These gas-fired plants will supplement and act as back-up for wind energy.’

https://www.breakingnews.ie/explained/explained-where-does-ireland-get-its-energy-from-1330872.html

Leo Smith
Reply to  pillageidiot
January 20, 2023 12:48 am

It is certainly connected to the British grid, via the East West interconnector and the Moyle interconnector.

It is not yet connected to France via the Celtic interconnector, scheduled to complete in 2027.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 20, 2023 3:21 am

They are also toying with a second interconnector to parallel EWIC, called (it is Irish after all) Greenlink.

Last edited 18 days ago by It doesnot add up
observa
Reply to  pillageidiot
January 20, 2023 4:40 am

Does Ireland have an interconnection to a separate, stable electricity grid?

Well it’s either that grid backed by dispatchables and/or storage or Ireland relies on same within its own boundaries. As Richard Greene succinctly put it-

The first windmill is overbuilding
The first solar panel is overbuilding
They should be in museums
Not attached to electric grids.

My immediate thought was that’s not true because my nameplate 6.64 kW rooftop solar in South Australia even with zero FIT is very economic because it can heat up my resistance storage HWS or heat/cool the home with RC aircon plus any other load I can think of under the sun. But then it’s my connection to a dispatchable stable grid voltage and frequency that permits my reactive inverter that privilege.

OTOH the only truly independent solar generator I can think of is one the farmers use for bore water pumping to storage tanks and in turn they’ve dismissed windmill driven bores to the scrapheap. As RG notes if my rooftop solar was to become a truly independent minigrid I’d need some very costly battery storage with no electrons to spare except when my like setup neighbour had some to spare too.

Ipso facto sans such batteries we’re simply eco-bludgers/dumpers on the dispatchable communal grid which under this fallacy of composition requires rollback to some sensible ‘Pollock Limit’-
https://www.aemc.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-01/ERC0352_Rule%20Change%20Request_Scheduled%20Lite%20-%20including%20Appendix.pdf

old cocky
Reply to  observa
January 20, 2023 3:11 pm

the only truly independent solar generator I can think of is one the farmers use for bore water pumping to storage tanks and in turn they’ve dismissed windmill driven bores to the scrapheap.

The old windmill driven bore pumps gave good service for a very long time, but required a lot of maintenance and repair. Of course, they also had a habit of breaking down during wheat harvest 🙁

Most people will be unfamiliar with them, so a quick summary.

The bore pump was a piston suction pump with an automatic valve, and was located far enough below the standing water level of the bore to keep it fully submerged at all times. The windmill head had a crankshaft which drove a pull rod which lifted the piston in the pump body on the upward suction stroke. It also operated as a pushrod to some extent on the down stroke depending on the weight of water in the pipe above the pump. This required a rigid pipe down the bore, and these were usually galvanised iron. The pump was brass, so formed a galvanic cell which corroded the galvanised iron pipe. The higher the salinity, the quicker it rusted.
Pulling the pipes up and reinstalling them required specialised equipment and partially dismantling the tower.

In addition to this, the head of the windmill needed the oil to be topped up regularly. The head consisted of a fan wheel, shaft(s) and oil-filled casing. Our Comet windmills were direct drive, and the Souther Cross were geared. The fan wheel and mainshaft were supported on bearings in the casing. The whole head also had a turntable, with wind pressure on the tail turning the fan wheel to the correct angle to the wind.
The tower had a ladder up one side, and a plank platform of sorts near the top to walk on while checking and oiling the head
The oil needed to be topped up every 6 months or so. OH&S didn’t exist when they were manufactured and erected, so oiling them was a little like Tom Cruise at the start of Mission Impossible II.

Electric submersible pumps, by contrast, are almost set and forget. Polypipe doesn’t rust, and doesn’t need anywhere near as much special equipment or labour to remove or re-install.

</reminiscence>

sherro01
Reply to  old cocky
January 21, 2023 3:10 am

My younger brother in 1950 was convinced at age 7 that he could fly as shown in comic books.
By extreme good luck, I saw him in time to stop his launch from the top of the windmill ladder. Later, he broke an arm launching from a lower level and meeting that horizontal pipe 18 inches above the ground.
What, you ask, were his parents doing to allow this danger? Answer, both working their butts off to get adequate food, clothing, shelter after a difficult world war. Geoff S

old cocky
Reply to  sherro01
January 22, 2023 7:05 pm

That dredged up an old memory.

My younger brother had similar inclinations, but from memory the windmill platform was the crow’s nest of a pirate ship.
Dad turned the bottom section of the ladder upside down so the open side of the angle iron rungs were facing up and made climbing very uncomfortable for small hands and bare feet. I don’t think we ever turned it right way up.
It was uncomfortable even for a fit young adult wearing work boots.

David Wojick
January 19, 2023 10:31 am

I find this puzzling: “From 2019 to 2022 Ireland added about 4 TWh of wind nameplate capacity”. I did not know there was nameplate capacity in Wh. It is usually in W. Or are you multiplying W by hours per year? Or something?

David Wojick
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 11:40 am

Good idea.

David Wojick
January 19, 2023 10:35 am

Does Ireland have any external interconnections? I know Scotland often sells power when the wind is blowing strong and buys when not, making generation versus consumption a fantasy.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  David Wojick
January 19, 2023 10:50 am

Ireland has one interconnector, EWIC to the UK. As UK has 2 connections to EU (France) effectively so does Ireland. It has another, Celtic, planned directly to France but not yet operational.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 11:51 am

Which means that Ireland is depending upon nuclear power to supply a portion of its dispatchable electricity needs — as are other nations in Europe who buy electricity from France — and who will be doing so well into the future.

So ….. the Irish are depending upon French nuclear power even though Ireland banned construction of nuclear power plants on their own soil in 1999; and presumably would not give even the slightest consideration to taking advantage of the oncoming SMR nuclear technologies for purposes of maintaining long term energy security for their own island nation.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 11:58 am

The island of Ireland operates as a single grid. The interconnector from Moyle in Scotland to Larne is now operated in tandem with EWIC, with the North-South interconnector providing a significant connect between the two countries, which previously had almost no interconnection.

https://www.smartgriddashboard.com/#all/interconnection

Set the timespan to month, and explore some history with the back arrow.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 12:10 pm

It’s been said that the wind is always blowing somewhere, and the sun is always shining somewhere. For those who don’t really care how and where their zero carbon electricity is being generated, the nuclear fuel rods are always glowing somewhere.

This paradigm works as long as you can gain access through some transmission pathway into the nuclear power plants where these fuel rods are glowing.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Beta Blocker
January 19, 2023 12:46 pm

Hunterston is close to Moyle, and Heysham not far from the Deeside landing point for EWIC. However both will disappear as GB nuclear closesin the next few years on end of life and lack of replacement.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Beta Blocker
January 19, 2023 7:35 pm

Except, the farther you have to reach out to procure your electricity, the greater the transmission loss will be. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems reasonable to me that those supplying power will charge the user for the power they send, not the power that is usable at the receiving end. That is, you end up paying for the transmission loss and it becomes more expensive than if one is close to the source.

David Dibbell
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 12:46 pm

I see you linked to this website also as I was typing up my comment downthread.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 1:17 pm

As I understand it there are two connectors UK to Eire and NI and the whole of Ireland is a single market for electricity
The UK has connectors to France, Belgium, Netherlands and Norway

PCman999
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 20, 2023 12:19 am

So western Europe could conceivably be interconnected, to some degree, and the so-called Pollock Limit/Suggestion should be calculated based on the data of the whole system.

I was thinking too that a factor should be added that would indicate how well wind production correlates with demand (calm nights and early mornings in the spring and fall shouldn’t be a problem as demand would be low probably)

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  PCman999
January 20, 2023 1:32 am

It is connected now, apart from the UK connections above
France – Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Switzerland
Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden and possibly Baltic states
Germany = France, Poland and possibly
So an electron could in theory make its way from a solar panel in Andalucia to a flat in Warsaw

Leo Smith
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 20, 2023 12:54 am

Ireland has two interconnectors, EWIC to the UK from the Irish republic and the Moyle interconnector from Northern Ireland. Ireland, north and south, has one unitary grid run by Eirgrid.

1saveenergy
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 20, 2023 3:13 am

Rud, your info is way out.
“Ireland has one interconnector”

No, Ireland has 2 interconnectors with UK … the East West interconnector and the Moyle interconnector.

“As UK has 2 connections to EU”

No, UK has 6 interconnectors to EU connecting the UK with France, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium.
Three more are under construction

Nb: UK also has 5 gas interconnectors to EU

It doesnot add up
Reply to  1saveenergy
January 20, 2023 4:22 am

The UK only has 3 subsea gas connectors to the EU: two bidirectional from Bacton (one to Zeebrugge, Belgium, the other to Balgzand, Netherlands) and one from Moffat, Scotland to Gormanston, Ireland (near Dublin) which is export only from Scotland: this line has been doubled, and also serves the Isle of Man. There are several gas import lines from the North Sea servicing UK and Norwegian fields. Norway is not part of the EU. There is also an interconnector piping gas to Northern Ireland also originiating from Moffat, Scotland, but for now Northern Ireland is still part of the UK. An onshore connector flows between Gormanston and Belfast, avoiding the need for doubling the subsea line to Northern Ireland.

Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2023 10:40 am

Two points:

1 – the Pollock Limit is a theoretical figure which makes various assumptions, such as an ‘average’ demand and no storage. If we consider a hypothetical country where the demand always matched generation with respect to timing and quantity, it is obvious that wind power could provide 100% of required energy. I suggest that there are a number of varying features of Irish demand which tend towards matching demand to supply, and these would allow generation to peak over the Pollock Limit. What these may be I do not know – perhaps a wide use of smart meter demand mnagement?

2 – Eleanor Denny has written extensively on wind power in the Irish Grid. Worth reading what she has to say.

Last edited 19 days ago by Dodgy Geezer
David Wojick
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2023 11:49 am

A link to Denny’s? Ironically grid features tend to mismatch renewables. Daily peaks tend to be when solar is small or zero, early morning and late evening. EV charging will worsen that. Yearly peaks tend to be low wind, with stagnant highs. Winter peak is worst with low wind nights. But summer low wind heat waves last many days. The required storage is astronomical.

Renewables are an expensive emission reduction technology, not a generation technology.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2023 12:23 pm

A name that rings a bell – she is indeed an expert, though I never managed to track down her PhD thesis which sounded very interesting. Also highly relevant to the discussion is this:

https://euanmearns.com/co2-emissions-variations-in-ccgts-used-to-balance-wind-in-ireland/

The other side of the coin in terms of the imposition on backup generation in terms of frequent and sharp ramping, etc.

https://euanmearns.com/commercial-measures-to-reduce-the-cost-of-wind-integration-in-the-island-of-ireland/

StandupPhilosopher
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 19, 2023 9:49 pm

Then you would have a 100% capacity factor if the wind was always blowing enough to generate rated capacity.

Scarecrow Repair
January 19, 2023 10:46 am

My personal experience, including some regrettable flame wars and some enjoyable flame wars, is that everybody makes mistakes, even me, but almost all mistakes are able to be misconstrued as deliberate lies. To call someone out as a deliberate liar is not an accidental mistake.

I have also learned that when people a lot of people call out problems with a comment, it is more likely to be from misunderstandings or chosen policy differences than deliberate fraud.

When I have paid attention to misconfusions about a post of mine, and concluded everyone had misunderstood me, it is a real clear sign that I did not write clearly enough, and I try to remember that for the future, to look over my comment before clicking POST, to read it as if for the first time, and see if there are assumptions which should be explained, or ambiguities which should be cleared up. I do not always succeed.

It sure looks to me like Monckton of Brenchley made that mistake; he assumed everyone would infer something from his post that was explicitly denied by “cannot”. But rather than admit it, apologize for the confusion, and learn a lesson for subsequent posts, he blamed multiple readers for reading only his words, not his mind.

David Wojick
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
January 19, 2023 11:52 am

He is like that. A strong will tends to be unforgiving of others, especially when it comes to admitting mistakes.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  David Wojick
January 19, 2023 4:18 pm

Strong-willed or willful?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
January 19, 2023 7:40 pm

There is no shortage of ego amongst those of us who are willing to wear the badge of “skeptic” proudly, and stand up to authority.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2023 3:21 am

You are not a skeptic
You live in climate reality
Not spouting always wrong wild guess predictions of the future climate and related green dreaming. You are not skeptical — you recognize the Climate Howlers as religious fanatics, with beliefs unrelated to real science and engineering. That’s a realist, not a skeptic.

gwrightstone
January 19, 2023 10:54 am

Thank you for this. Has our tongue healed from biting it yet?

Henry Pool
January 19, 2023 11:00 am

I analysed some rain data from Willis on Ireland.
ireland rainfall.xlsx
I hope you can see sheet 2/
it shows my hind cast of rainfall is only 6 mm out so my forecast is probably right on target.
I suggest rainfall is related to windfall…

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Henry Pool
January 19, 2023 1:22 pm

That sounds right for islands on the East Side of the Atlantic where the prevailing wind comes from the South West, the warmer part.

Henry Pool
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 19, 2023 2:05 pm

Ja. Ja. Rainfall = windfall. It works just like the pendulum of a clock. But every place on earth got its own pendulum.
When I see people hanging on to AGW I can just laugh. Because I see them trying to jump on the pendulum trying to get it to change direction….
That won’t work. R square is usually 99- 100%

sherro01
Reply to  Henry Pool
January 21, 2023 3:13 am

Please visit bomwatch blog for the more important relation between rainfall and customary land temperatures. Geoff S

meanonsunday
January 19, 2023 11:02 am

Although I agree with your points you do have to be cautious about the figures given for the wind energy generated since this is often inflated by including electricity sold at low cost off the grid. If it was an even swap where energy from another source was returned at later time that would be reasonable, but with intermittents it’s usually the case that they just padding the stats by selling below market rates.

Denis
January 19, 2023 11:08 am

If I am reading Figure 2 correctly, the “Wind share of total” ordinate says that about 1/3 of Irish electricity is produced by wind. However ref 1) below says that its about 12.7% while ref 2) says 43.3%. Hmm? Reliable info re Irish electricity seems hard to come by. Of interest perhaps that nearly half of Irish electricity is presently produced by diesel engines, about 1/3 by natural gas and about 8% by coal with the balance from wind. It seems that Ireland has plenty of backup battery equivalence at this time in the form of diesel engines which are by their nature ready to go at a moments notice). Perhaps because of this unusual situation, the “Pollack limit” has to be rethought. Ireland will surely will face problems when they retire the diesels and expand wind over the next few years as they are presently planning to do.

1) https://www.breakingnews.ie/explained/explained-where-does-ireland-get-its-energy-from-1330872.html

2) https://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/208281-All-Island-Generation-Capacity-Statement-LR13A.pdf

David Wojick
Reply to  Denis
January 19, 2023 11:55 am

That they will face problems is an understatement. It cannot be fine.

sherro01
Reply to  Denis
January 19, 2023 3:24 pm

POLLOCK.
Geoff S

MarkW
January 19, 2023 11:17 am

One problem with the Pollock limit for smaller regions, like Ireland, is the possibility that they are able to buy electricity from nearby regions when wind power is not sufficient.

Last edited 19 days ago by MarkW
Beta Blocker
Reply to  MarkW
January 19, 2023 11:55 am

Exactly. And it will work well enough for them as long as dispatchable power is readily available precisely when they need it at a price they are willing and able to pay.

January 19, 2023 11:40 am

willis

(Unfortunately, in the comments of the latter post I fear I waxed wroth when Christopher falsely accused me of being “openly and deliberately dishonest” … ah, well, I know that science is a blood sport, but I won’t take that from any man. However, I digress …)

you mean the post where he also argued

“Climate skepticism has four failings: a lack of elementary professionalism; a tendency to be over-skeptical of both sides of the argument; a striking absence of the intuitive ability of the mathematician, who wanders cheerfully and competently from the concrete to the theoretical and back; and unjustifiable discourtesy towards the scientific labors of fellow-skeptics.”

orthe fallacy of   "ollam vocant ollam nigram
Mark BLR
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 7:10 am

… a striking absence of the intuitive ability of the mathematician, who wanders cheerfully and competently from the concrete to the theoretical and back

I am fond of quotations, especially science-related ones.

A (very ?) strong case can be made that I am overly fond of them.

Despite that I will inject a plethora of them into this comment thread anyway …

– – – – –

Buried in the 372 (at the time of typing) comments under the original “The Final Nail …” WUWT article referenced above, CMoB ended a reply to Willis as follows :

Like Willis, I am a data man, but I am also a theoretician. When an irrefutable theoretical argument is presented and the data appear inconsistent with the conclusion of that theoretical argument, I tend to suspect the data.

In the messy world of “weather / climate data” we are not dealing with “irrefutable theoretical arguments” like a (Euclidean) proof for the Pythagorean Theorem.

I learned “The Engineer’s Motto” before discovering it originally came from Yogi Berra :
“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice – in practice there is”

He apparently modified it from a quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein :
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.”

– – – – –

Other quotes that came to mind on reading the cited responses by CMoB included :

“The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” — Thomas Huxley

“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” — Richard Feynman

“Of course, if one ignores contradictory observations, one can claim to have an ‘elegant’ or ‘robust’ theory. But it isn’t science.” — Halton Arp

“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.” — Claude Levi-Strauss

NB : I often ask the “wrong” questions. In my experience Willis tends to ask the “right” ones (not 100% guaranteed but a very good indicator, often leading to “interesting” investigations I would not have launched otherwise).

– – – – –

PS : While checking who came up with the original “theory versus practice” quotes I came across the following new (to me) one.

“It may come out all right in practice, but it’ll never work in theory !” — Jan van de Snepscheut (a Dutch mathematician …)

sherro01
Reply to  Mark BLR
January 21, 2023 3:18 am

From the 1960s we used to joke that an economist was a person who, seeing something working well in practise, would wonder how it worked in theory.

January 19, 2023 11:49 am

when i read the good Lord on the pollack limit i knew it was wrong.

  1. because of the final nail metaphor bad metaphor = low iq
  2. because there was no data to back it up
  3. because im working on a project for the grid in finland

well

https://www.statista.com/statistics/536065/finland-share-of-electricity-produced-from-renewable-energy/

the pollack limit of ciourse is rather intuitive

a. if you have no storage
b. if you have no frequency regulation market

then you plan to build out up to the capacity factor.

hint : theres opprtunity in frequency regulation markets.

coal is dead, Oil is dying. human will figure out ways to make renewables work.

Jeroen B.
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 12:52 pm

If coal and oil are so dead why does their consumption keep climbing ?

The only way humanity will make ruinables work is by returning to, at minimum, Medieval Times and more likely, the Stone Age.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Jeroen B.
January 20, 2023 1:01 am

They are not dead yet, but they are beginning to smell that way.
There is no argument. Fossil fuels are a finite resource with a lifespan in decades to a few hundred years.

Renewables don’t work, because of energy density and intermittency and too low EROEI.

There is only one technology that will allow civilisation to continue and that is nuclear power.

QED

Last edited 18 days ago by Leo Smith
Richard Greene
Reply to  Jeroen B.
January 20, 2023 3:16 am

COAL AND OIL ARE ENERGY ZOMBIES — leftists try to kill them again and again — but they keep coming back to life, stronger than before.

Editor
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 1:17 pm

coal is dead, Oil is dying. human will figure out ways to make renewables work.“.

Triple fantasy. Coal use is higher than ever. Oil is going strong and likely to hit a new record in 2023. Wind and solar are effectively nowhere to be seen.

AndyHce
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 19, 2023 3:54 pm

But in the end times, the savior will finally return

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 3:41 pm

California is only part way toward eliminating fossil fuels. Yet they are already having to limit charging of EV’s when grid loads are high. It’s only going to get worse. How do you “figure” your way out of that?

Reply to  Tim Gorman
January 20, 2023 6:41 am

simple

AndyHce
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 3:52 pm

human will figure out ways to make renewables work.

get rid of many humans, keep the windmills

Mr.
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 5:28 pm

Hydro should be excluded from any considerations about “renewables” because all those places who are geographically fortunate enough to be able to harness the power of gravity+ turn-on / turn-off water (dams) driven turbines has been doing it for ages.

It wasn’t “green” virtue signalling that enticed them to build hydro – it was just practical and economically sensible.

And if they haven’t already, it’s probably because they were/are also blessed with accessible coal resources.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 6:46 am

The IEA expects the EU’s coal use to drop 29% by 2025 compared to 2022, de Pous said. “This will be the result of action taken in as many as 19 EU countries to accelerate renewables,” he added.

Richard Black, a senior associate at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a climate advisory group, said that despite the increase in China’s use of coal, the long term direction for coal in China and India – another major coal user – was clear.
“Renewables are going to be providing an increasing share of the generation and the role of coal is going to transition from being a baseload fuel to being a backup,” 

read more than the title, fool

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 7:49 am

The IEA and Richard Black are the fools.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 12:58 pm

coal is dead. it’s a fossil fuel. literally its limited
has no future dead.
Oil likewise. dead. no future.
human will figure out ways to make renewables work in grids

batteries.

frequency markets

nuclear

fission.

these all have Futures

coal and Oil only have a glorious past.

finally, they are not my authorities. i didnt cite the article as evidence

who did?

sherro01
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 21, 2023 3:27 am

Oxygen is dead. No future. It gets consumed, it is a measurable, non-finite resource that one day will be all used up.
Be a green environmental conservationist sustainable future chappie, call for net zero oxygen use by 2050.
(Sadly, some people might pick this sarcasm up and run with it. Fools rush in, etc). Geoff S

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 1:06 pm

coal is dead. it’s a fossil fuel. literally its dead. limited
has no future dead.
Oil likewise. dead. no future.
humans will figure out ways to make renewables work in grids

batteries.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/12/21/china-connects-220-mw-440-mwh-battery-to-grid/

frequency markets
https://www.fingrid.fi/en/electricity-market-information/reserve-market-information/automatic-frequency-restoration-reserve-afrr-realised-hourly-transactions/

nuclear
https://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/SMRs-A-Viable-Option-for-Clean-Energy-Future_2021.07.19_Final.pdf
fusion
https://c3newsmag.com/major-breakthrough-on-nuclear-fusion-energy/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwpnY9IXX_AIVqMqUCR040gUxEAAYASAAEgJIPfD_BwEhttps:/

these all have Futures
coal and Oil only have a glorious past.

bottom line i refuse to believe in the doomsaying i read here.

Mr.
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 20, 2023 8:04 pm

Willis, most users of a 100% renewables supply wouldn’t register a 14 second delay in the onset of a full power outage.

I mean, they must have already experienced calm days of zero wind.

And then there’s these periods called “night-time” . . .

These conditions can often occur together at the same time.

Who would have thought?

Last edited 17 days ago by Mr.
TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 10:21 pm

Or supply 1% of peak power for over 20min.

Mike
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 5:46 pm

”coal is dead”
Lol. Are you supposed to be some kind of scientist are you?

Last edited 18 days ago by Mike
Reply to  Mike
January 20, 2023 1:03 pm

coal is dead. it’s a fossil fuel. literally its dead. limited
has no future dead.
Oil likewise. dead. no future.
human will figure out ways to make renewables work in grids
batteries.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/12/21/china-connects-220-mw-440-mwh-battery-to-grid/

frequency markets
nuclear
https://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/SMRs-A-Viable-Option-for-Clean-Energy-Future_2021.07.19_Final.pdf
fusion
https://c3newsmag.com/major-breakthrough-on-nuclear-fusion-energy/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwpnY9IXX_AIVqMqUCR040gUxEAAYASAAEgJIPfD_BwEhttps:/

these all have Futures
coal and Oil only have a glorious past.

Graham
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 6:45 pm

You got that dead wrong Steven.
Coal hit 8 billion tonnes in 2021 .
I would not call that dead.
Oil and gas are still going gangbusters .
If you believe that fossil fuel use is going to change the worlds climate why are you not advocating nuclear power plants at least for base load .
Humans have already figured out how wind and solar power can be integrated into a supply net work but it is now politicians that are caught up in carbon neutral that are making stupid decisions and delaying sensible decisions..
So many countries and governments seem to think that the UN is the holy prophet and that the the UN should be obeyed with out question..
Hydro dams on many small rivers in gorges can be used as needed to generate electricity that acts the same as battery back up using a lot less resources than battery backup .
Hydro power stations can be turned on and off as required remotely as the sun and the wind ebbs and flows .
The problems are the greens who are against damming any river or using nuclear power .
It has been calculated that there is no where enough rare earth minerals in the earths crust to manufacture storage batteries to power the world when wind and solar stop generating ,so if that is the goal some other solution has to be looked at .

Leo Smith
Reply to  Graham
January 20, 2023 1:09 am

The argument that coal usage is increasing, therefore it will contunue to increase is as specious as the argument that between 1970 and 1995 global temperatures appeared to increase, so they will cointinue till the earth catches fire.

Please, let’s have some sanity. Fossil fuels are a finite resource that will eventually become uneconomic, and renewables already are – they are only propped up by fossil fuel and taxpayers money.

If we dont go nuclear we are headed for the Dark Ages.

The ultimate question is simply whether or not the Urban Western snowflake is so bewildered by the propaganda that they come to prefer the latter choice.

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 20, 2023 6:52 am

yep. thanks for the sanity

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 20, 2023 9:27 am

yup

  1. they are finite.
  2. the future outlook is bleak for them.

meanwhile smart money is running to a different future

https://www.pv-tech.org/longi-to-invest-us6-7-billion-in-building-new-production-base-in-china/

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 2:41 am

Whining that coal is finite, boo hoo, can’t depend on it, we HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TODAY, when we have 130 years’ worth of coal is a sick joke.

Better to wait until much closer to the end before we move to new energy sources. When energy starts to be uncontrollably scarce and the poor are dying, that’ll be great incentive.

Also its a bad idea to fund research now because that money is much better used prospecting to wring every last year out of fossil fuels.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 12:54 pm

I don’t want to move too fast.

On the one hand you post showing how ridiculous it is to think we can be substantially there by say 2050 and yet you cant reason that stretching the timeline still means heading towards the goal with some sort of speed.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 8:29 pm

Tell me how renewable energy will become cheaper than fossil fuels. Talk me through it.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
January 21, 2023 9:48 pm

Coal became cheaper than wood despite men having to crawl through tunnels to mine the stuff with hand tools and using early steam engines that had efficiencies in the low single digits to pump water out of the mines.

Last edited 16 days ago by Frank from NoVA
TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 10:26 pm

Not seeing any of that happening with renewables.

So with that in mind and with fossil fuels being a finite resource that is waning, I ask again, talk me through how renewable energy will become cheaper than fossil fuels.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 22, 2023 12:35 am

Here’s the current situation, after throwing $5 TRILLION at sun and wind in the last 2 decades.

We have an incredibly long way to go after a lot of research and a lot of resources expended. You’ve posted just how hard it will be.

I suspect you want to say we should let the market drive the transition (when demand exceeds supply) You’ve said it before. But I think you know that will be disastrous. You must know that given the scale of the problem.

How do you think the poor will faire in a world that is actually energy constrained and not just politically constrained?

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 22, 2023 11:28 am

Willis asks “What makes you think this one is special?”

Because renewable energy sources are not abundant. Nor are they cheap. And they wont be fast to implement.

You keep shooting yourself in the foot regarding Germany. Their problem is a lack of gas supply. Their renewables are doing just fine. Imagine if instead of expanding the renewables they’d expanded their reliance on gas.

Fossil fuels aren’t being destroyed, they are still there and you can be 100% sure we’ll use them if and when we need them. Meanwhile during this period of energy abundance we’re doing the sensible thing by understanding they will end and doing something about it.

If only the emphasis was on the transition and not climate change then we’d be making better decisions.

And regarding the poor in an energy constrained world? When demand exceeds supply, they die. No amount of government assistance can help them. Our choices are gone.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 22, 2023 11:19 pm

When renewables are actually cheaper in the real world, not just cheaper in your bizarre fantasies, the market will jump on them.

Talk me through this. Step by step.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 23, 2023 11:45 am

We both know how the free market works but how it works for energy has important implications for your entire belief system of ignoring renewables until the market dictates otherwise.

How the market works with energy isn’t the same as how it works with say iPhones.

And I’d like you to face up to those differences by spelling out the sequence of events and conditions that lead up to renewables being viable.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 23, 2023 11:42 pm

In this case its textbook cognitive dissonance.

Reply to  Graham
January 20, 2023 6:50 am

not only have i advocated for nuclear i actually worked trying to solve the problems
thats DEEDS not words

Reply to  Graham
January 20, 2023 9:25 am

coal is dead.all fossil fuels are. by definition.

you look at the past, typical head in the sand negativist

https://www.pv-tech.org/longi-to-invest-us6-7-billion-in-building-new-production-base-in-china/

old cocky
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 3:43 pm

coal is dead.all fossil fuels are. by definition.

So are Uranium and Thorium , by that token
Or are they alive because they are undergoing radioactive decay?

In that case, so is coal, because it contains traces of radioactive materials.

Couldn’t help myself, sorry.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 7:47 pm

human [sic] will figure out ways to make renewables work.

Your faith in humanity is heart warming. When do you think that humans will perfect the Perpetual Motion machine? Or, the Infinite Improbability Drive? After all, humans can do anything. I’m reminded of Disney’s First Law: “Wish and it will come true.”

Leo Smith
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2023 1:15 am

He may be working on engineering but he is a classic ArtStudent™ at heart.
These people are ultimately philosophical Idealists. They believe there is no reality beyond what we (can) imagine it to be. The limits are not real physical limits, they are limits of imagination only. If you can imagine yourself as the opposite sex you are the opposite sex…etc. etc.

Normally these people are an amusing diversion. But in a majority controlling real economic policy they are an utter disaster. Which is why Stalin sent them all to the Gulags. Mind you he was no better – Marx was himself just another ArtStudent™. Full of intellectual ideals about how the world ought to be, with no attention paid whatsoever to how it actually was.


Reply to  Leo Smith
January 20, 2023 6:54 am

technically a pragmatist

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2023 6:54 am

its not faith. its looking at centuries of human ingenuity. experience says
we rise to the challenge. im skeptical of your catastrophic view

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2023 9:28 am

if you cant invision a fruitful future, you’ll get the failure you fear

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 12:10 pm

Whoopee! That is likely to deliver an average of around 12GW out of US demand of 465GW last year.

javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 9:54 pm

fi_gae_pj - Copy.png
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 9:55 pm

….

fi_gae_pct - Copy.png
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 9:57 pm

… RA000 Renewables and biofuels (FI)

fi_gae_ra000_pct - Copy.png
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 9:59 pm

… R5100 Solid biofuels (FI)

fi_gae_r5100_pct - Copy.png
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 10:01 pm
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 11:48 pm

Gross Electricity Production (FI)

fi_gep_pct - Copy.png
javs
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 19, 2023 11:50 pm

Gross Electricity Production (FI) : RA000 Renewables and biofuels

fi_gep_ra000_pct - Copy.png
Leo Smith
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 12:58 am

Coal is dead, Oil is dying. Gas is finite. Human will not figure out ways to make renewables work.
So it will have to be nuclear wont it?
Its the only energy source that is multi-millenium sized

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 20, 2023 7:09 am

ya oil and coal and gas are finite and rely on a globalized economy.
thats all coming to an end. humans will find ways (storage/curtailment markets)
to make renewables work on distributed smaller grids, supported by SMR

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 2:54 am

Regarding oil, in 1968 we had ~30 years of proven oil reserves. In 2020 we had ~50 years of proven oil reserves.

In 1968 we had a lot of discovery to be made. Today? Not so much.

50 years sounds like a lot but its a declining resource (yes fracking has revived old wells for the moment to maintain production levels) but over the 50 years we need to transition from oil to something else (likely electric) and its going to take decades for that to happen with a bearable amount of pain.

Wait 20 more years before we start and the pain will be unbearable.

If we can make fusion work in the meantime then great! That one has traditionally always been 50 years away too, in practice.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Steven Mosher
January 20, 2023 7:43 am

“Coal is dead” That’s obviously why the latest BP Statistical Review of Energy 2021 said

Coal is the dominant fuel for power production generation in 2021 and its share increased to 36%

It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 11:51 am

The first thing to understand about the Irish grid is that it is being operated to a maximum share of 75% of non-synchronous generation. That defines their “Pollock” limit.

https://www.smartgriddashboard.com/#all/snsp

This is somewhat higher than the 50% they were limiting themselves to at the time of Storm Ophelia in 2017. This chart shows how they were running the system back then:

comment image

They were making use of their ability to rely on interconnectors both to be able to import power when wind was inadequate, and to export it when they had a surplus. However, with limited export capacity they might be forced into curtailing wind particularly overnight when demand is low.

Both ahead of Ophelia’s arrival and after it departed, wind generation fell back close to zero, necessitating interconnector imports. On the day the storm passed through demand was even below the Sunday the day before, with wind generation falling well short of forecast levels. It appears that many wind farms shut down as a safety precaution ahead of the storm which made landfall at around 11 a.m. as it moved North. There was a move to restart some of them to meet the early evening peak, but it seemed to falter at first, and the second attempt appears to have been cut short by curtailment as overnight demand fell to the lowest of the week, before the wind itself died away.

Interconnector exports allow them to accommodate a larger volume of renewables. Demand peaks at approximately 7GW, and when working the interconnectors allow them +/- 1GW, which also saves on the amount of dispatchable backup they need – at least so long as they can prevail upon GB to provide the balancing services. In fact, in recent months Eirgrid has been afraid of being outbid by GB at times of Dunkelflaute, and has at times forbidden or limited exports because its own capacity would otherwise be stretched and risk the need for rotating blackouts.

Denis
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 12:12 pm

The chart you reference says Ireland is running about 25% non-synchronous and about 75% synchronous at this time, the opposite of what you say.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Denis
January 19, 2023 1:52 pm

At this moment it is not windy in Ireland. Try setting the chart to display a month at a time (click on DAY), and the 75% limit will jump out at you.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 1:55 pm

Like this

EIrgrid SNSP.png
Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 12:22 pm

The Pollock arithmetic seems to be just that if you limit wind capacity to that which would meet average demand at full blast, then the average generated will be the capacity factor times demand, pretty much by definition. But do you have to do that? 

1. It’s a rubbery limit. If the wind blows full at times of low demand, there will still be excess supply.

2. But you can handle excess. It isn’t even too bad to just disconnect turbines. But it is much better if you can export the excess. And it is still good if you can create extra demand, as with hydro pumping, or adjustable industrial processes like electrolysis.

If you do install more wind power than average demand can accommodate, then you will exceed the Pollock limit, with little penalty.

sherro01
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 3:45 pm

Nick,
Care to show data for “little penalty”?
There is a rather large penalty for installing W&S in a national-size grid.
Data shows many examples when large grid electricity cost increases in rough proportion to W&S penetration percent. Geoff S

Nick Stokes
Reply to  sherro01
January 19, 2023 4:35 pm

Not true in S Australia. They used to be highest cost – now with big investment in wind and solar, they are mid-range cost and exporting.

How about some data on what the pnealty for exceeding the Pollock Limit actually is?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 5:25 pm

Prices are now capped in NEM. That is why they appear to be mid range.

sherro01
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 6:16 pm

Nick
So is it good that South Australia destroyed hydrocarbon plant and grew more expensive W&S? Mid range is higher than lowest cost. What is the benefit of replacing well-known, cheap, efficient, reliable generation with a system that is not any of those?
Geoff S

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 20, 2023 7:39 am

Unless you are taking into account the costs (peaker generation, energy storage, etc) to make wind and solar play nice with the grid, the claim that costs are mid-range are B.S.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  sherro01
January 19, 2023 7:54 pm

Unstated assumption: W&S can be built out beyond the Pollock Limit for free. Resources can therefore be allowed to be idle because there was no cost to build it.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 20, 2023 8:51 am

Nick,

Since you’re one of the resident math experts here, and ignoring all the political sturm and drang surrounding renewables, I’m wondering what you think of a derivation that depends on at least two assumptions, specifically, that both f = f_max and that renewables will be producing energy at their average capacity factor, R, when N = D.

ferdberple
January 19, 2023 12:29 pm

Take 3 windmills each with 33.3% CF. Place them all in the same area such that they all produce power at the same time and at best they will produce power 33.3% of the time.

Now place these 3 windmills in 3 magical locations such that one windmill is always producing power while the other 2 sit idle.

Now you have 1/3 the power 100% of the time. This latter case would allow wind power to reliably produce 100%:of the grid.

The Pollock Limit needs to account for this. The more you can distribute the variance the greater the average allowed.

Last edited 19 days ago by ferdberple
Joe Born
Reply to  ferdberple
January 19, 2023 1:36 pm

Exactly.

(Well, almost exactly. To make it complete you have to say that demand is constant. Or, as I too-obscurely put it, the demand’s coefficient of variation is zero.)

It doesnot add up
Reply to  ferdberple
January 19, 2023 1:50 pm

Unfortunately the wind is never so cooperative. In fact, we regularly see periods when there is almost no wind blowing anywhere on land – globally, and only limited amounts in reasonably accessible offshore locations. If you want fairly consistent wind you could try living on the Greenland plateau.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  ferdberple
January 19, 2023 3:45 pm

Put the windmills in California, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

How do you get the 100% from CA to MA and OH when the CA windmill is the only one operating?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tim Gorman
January 19, 2023 7:57 pm

A VERY long extension cord — made with superconducting material that can operate without cooling at Summer temperatures.

StandupPhilosopher
Reply to  ferdberple
January 19, 2023 10:17 pm

Then that wind turbine would have a capacity factor of 100% not 33% and Pollocks limit would still be intact.

Mark BLR
Reply to  ferdberple
January 20, 2023 6:30 am

Now place these 3 windmills in 3 magical locations such that …

Meanwhile, here in the real world …

For the island of Great Britain (= England + Scotland + Wales) it is roughly 1000 miles from Land’s End (SW corner) to John O’Groats (NE corner).

Just over 27 GW “Nameplate Capacity” of onshore and offshore wind turbines have been installed on and around GB, let’s say in a rectangle 750 miles wide (total area = 750,000 square miles ~= 1.94 million square kilometres).

Under CMoB’s re-rebuttal post I replied to a comment by “old cocky” with a graph of the GB grid’s “Wind” and “Solar” output at the end of last year (direct link).

Below is a “zoomed in” version of that graph, covering the three days from the 26th to the 29th of November 2022.

For 4 or 5 hours late in the evening of the 26th of November total “Wind” contribution to the GB electricity grid from the dozens (/ hundreds ?) of turbines distributed over that “large” area peaked at just over 20 GW.

48 hours later the output from the exact same number of “widely distributed” turbines had fallen to less than one GW, a level it remained below for roughly 9 hours (from 28/11 ~4PM to 29/11 ~1AM) and “stuck at” for a further 12 hours (until 29/11 ~1PM).

The more you can distribute the variance the greater the average allowed.

Maybe, but not as much as you seem to think “we” can.

GB-Electricity_Wind-Solar_26-291122.png
TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Mark BLR
January 21, 2023 3:05 am

Maybe, but not as much as you seem to think “we” can.

Obviously the answer is storage but its still possible to transmit energy for thousands of kms to balance the grid. We could do that if we had to… but we wont have to with a couple of decades of research into improving storage (I’d ultimately back sodium batteries for grid storage, myself) and another couple of decades rolling it out.

David Dibbell
January 19, 2023 12:42 pm

Thanks, Willis. Interesting.
It looks like Ireland is not strictly a stand-alone case which the BP statistics could fully represent for the purposes of the Pollock limit analysis.

This website linked below appears to be the grid operator for Ireland and Northern Ireland. All time all-island high demand is 7,031 MW. All time high wind generation is 4585 MW.

For Ireland only, all time high demand is 5,544 MW; all time high wind generation is 3604 MW.

There are interconnectors between Northern Island and Scotland (called Moyle) and between Ireland and Wales (called East West or EWIC) which can import and export.

https://www.smartgriddashboard.com/#all

So the BP data may not have any way to have represented what happens between Ireland and Northern Ireland and on the interconnectors.

There is some Moyle and EWIC data here showing active import/export management.
https://data.nationalgrideso.com/demand/historic-demand-data/r/historic_demand_data_2022

David Dibbell
Reply to  David Dibbell
January 19, 2023 12:49 pm

I see commenter It doesnot add up has also posted about this as I was looking this up.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  David Dibbell
January 21, 2023 3:07 am

Yeah, lots of us found it. Willis didn’t even think to look.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 1:04 pm

That one fact undermined your analysis.

The point is you have a lot to learn about the grid. Maybe take a slice of humble pie.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 21, 2023 8:44 pm

And I shall point out that you’ve run out of ammunition for your flack cannon.

doonman
January 19, 2023 12:45 pm

Not a single mention anywhere if Ireland has any battery backup. If it does then the Pollock limit must be higher than the nameplate rating per the equations.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  doonman
January 19, 2023 2:15 pm

Ireland has very limited grid battery provision at the moment: in any event batteries are not used to provide serious storage – their purpose is assisting with grid stability. That is of course a vital role, and has allowed Ireland to move progressively from curtailing renewables at 50% of generation to now operating at up to 75% renewables. There is a 292MW, 1800MWh pumped storage facility at Turlough Hill. It operates at a relatively low round trip efficiency – reported a few years ago as low as 54%. That means it need to buy the electricity for pumping at half or less of the price it gets for supply.

PCman999
Reply to  doonman
January 20, 2023 2:22 pm

Ireland’s battery is the UK.

Joe Born
January 19, 2023 12:48 pm

A mathematical point: The penetration at which curtailment starts to be necessary in the absence of storage depends on the demand’s coefficient of variation and on the correlation among the individual wind turbines’ uncurtailed outputs. To take this to the limit, the penetration at which curtailment starts to be required–and thus the point of diminishing returns to adding unreliables–approaches 100% as the demand’s coefficient of variation and the correlations among the (large number of) wind turbines approach zero.

Of course, those statistics don’t get at all close to zero in the real world. But I’m pretty sure that there’s a significant difference in those statistics’ values between, say, Texas and Germany. So we should not be surprised if the points of diminishing returns for different locations differ even when their capacity factors are equal.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Joe Born
January 19, 2023 2:20 pm

If you are really lucky you can get anti-correlation between different parts of your geography. But it is frighteningly rare. See the between country correlations for the European area in this table

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6yqhP/1

Last edited 18 days ago by It doesnot add up
Joe Born
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 4:11 pm

Thanks for the link. (Not surprised that you had the information at your fingertips.)

Joe Born
Reply to  Joe Born
January 20, 2023 3:41 am

The chart nearby illustrates how even without storage a low-variance load and low correlation among the turbine outputs could in theory cooperate to provide a wind-power penetration approaching 100% even though the Pollock limit is only 25%.

Four Turbines.png
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Joe Born
January 20, 2023 4:34 am

Your system requires very precise anti correlation – scheduling, in fact. Low correlation produces entirely random outputs, so you could expect output ranging from zero to full capacity.

Joe Born
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 20, 2023 5:08 am

Yes, it would have been better in that case, where I used a small number of turbines for the sake of exposition, to make it clear that by “low correlation” I was including negative correlation.

When you have a large number of turbines, though, near-zero correlation results in a coefficient of variation that approaches zero as the number approaches infinity. When I simulated a large number, for example, I added together 10,000 independent identically distributed sequences (correlations usually between -0.01 and +0.01), and the resultant coefficient of variation was a little over 0.01.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Joe Born
January 20, 2023 7:20 am

The wind doesn’t switch on and off every millisecond, which is what you are assuming. There is a high degree of autocorrelation across time (I.e. if the wind was blowing a moment ago it is likely to be blowing now).

Joe Born
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 20, 2023 7:45 am

Of course it doesn’t. In fact, that was my original point: that the point of diminishing returns is a result of the correlation we encounter in the real world; it isn’t required by Lord Monckton’s algebra. Although the example in that last plot is not like real life, it is entirely consistent with Lord Monckton’s math.

As I said before, the point of diminishing returns that the accompanying plot illustrates for those ERCOT data does seem roughly to coincide with the Pollock “limit.” But, again, to the extend that this phenomenon is general–as you’ve demonstrated it probably isn’t–it results from correlation among the turbines’ outputs.

I’ll repeat it yet again: the previous chart was intended as a simple example to show that the math doesn’t necessarily require that returns diminish at that purported limit. It wasn’t intended to represent real life.

Fig 03.png
Joe Born
Reply to  Joe Born
January 20, 2023 7:53 am

If instead of real-life correlated turbine outputs we used uncorrelated turbine outputs with the same, ERCOT demand data, here’s what we get:

Uncorrelated.png
Joe Born
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 21, 2023 6:42 am

Sorry, I just realized that I misread your comment.

Yes, although I had considered including individual-turbine autocorrelation in my simulations, I decided against going to that trouble, mainly because it was the cross-correlation effect I wanted to demonstrate, but, frankly, also because real-world autocorrelation turns out to be somewhat complex, and I just didn’t want to to take the time.

Editor
January 19, 2023 12:59 pm

Hi Willis, thanks for getting to grips with the data. I suggest that the place to look for the answer is in the time pattern of wind power, ie, how much of the time is there significant wind and how much time there is not.

In comments on the original Christopher Monckton article, I said “The correct formula here is entirely about intermittency. If z is the proportion of the time that generation is near zero, then fmax = 1-z. (f is defined as the fraction of total grid generation actually contributed by renewables; fmax is the theoretical maximum possible value of f). That formula is itself over-optimistic, because with any highly variable energy source, costs are likely to go through the roof long before one gets anywhere near fmax.“. In his response article, Francis Menton says effectively the same thing. He said that with overbuilding the amount you can get to is well more than the Pollock limit, and “happens to correspond exactly to the amount of time when there is any usable wind at all. In simple terms, overbuilding can get you above the “Pollock limit,” but no amount of overbuilding can solve the problem of complete calms. For solar, the same principle applies to nights.“.

In his second article, Christopher Monckton also indicated that something like this applied, saying “Later in the article, I drew further attention to the cost and wastefulness of installing wind and solar capacity in excess of the Pollock limit” and that he “had of course mentioned the “cost and waste of overbuilding”“.

It seems to me that we three (Christopher Monckton, Francis Menton and myself) are all on the same page, ie, that the Pollock Limit can be exceeded by overbuilding but that the cost soon becomes prohibitive. The real disagreement IMHO stems from Christopher Monckton’s judgement that overbuilding is so prohibitively expensive that it is not worth considering, while Francis Menton and I have taken a more theoretical / mathematical approach. I suggest that the final answer is that if you follow up the theoretical / mathematical approach with costings, you will find that a modest amount of overbuilding can be at a cost that is not completely prohibitive but after that we are all three effectively correct.

The real tragedy, of course, is that the very high cost of building to the Pollock Limit, and the extremely high cost of overbuilding past the Pollock Limit, are both taken from taxpayers’ money, which politicians are happy to waste in vast quantities in pursuit of virtue signalling. If politicians paid a price for mistakes like this, they wouldn’t happen so much.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 19, 2023 2:05 pm

“It seems to me that we three (Christopher Monckton, Francis Menton and myself) are all on the same page, ie, that the Pollock Limit can be exceeded by overbuilding but that the cost soon becomes prohibitive”

In fact the arithmetic of the Pollock Limit applies to any power source, not just wind. Here is a listing of US capacity factors:

comment image

Coal, at 48.3%, is not that much higher than wind. But of course grids have often operated at more than 48% coal. That just means that they overbuild – ie redundancy. Clearly the cost of that does not soon become prohibitive. It’s just normal. 

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 2:39 pm

As I pointed out on the previous discussion, inflexible nuclear is essentially subject to its own limit, which is baseload demand – i.e. minimum demand. Beyond that its output must be wasted or stored. Just the same applies to wind: as they are capable of producing at times of minimum demand (not the case for solar), then you will start curtailing when capacity can generate sufficiently to exceed minimum demand (actually sooner, since you need inertia providing generation). As capacity is further increased, there will be more hours where they exceed demand, and the extent to which they exceed demand in lower demand hours will grow.

RickWill
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 3:00 pm

Comparing capacity factors between dispatchable generators and weather dependent generators is a pointless exercise.

Adding more generating capacity to a fixed demand network must lower the capacity factor of other generators.

The capacity factor for coal plants in Australia is not constant in total or for different units. It increases every time a coal plant is permanently shut down then gradually reduces as more weather dependent generation is added.

Australia has a looming tipping point in the network in April when the three remaining 500MW coal fired units at Liddell close down for good. The capacity factor of the rest of the coal feet will jump up following that. Prices will again go through the roof. And there is a high risk of rolling “load management”.

Last edited 18 days ago by RickWill
sherro01
Reply to  RickWill
January 19, 2023 4:05 pm

Rick,
Agreed. One has to ask why politics is driving higher costs of essential services, when there is no measurable benefit other than me-too virtual signalling that I think we can assume matters not much at all to your average Joe.
There used to be accreditation incentives for engineers (as for medicos) meaning that they could take away your badge if you produced work that endangered the health and life of people. Do no harm.
Do engineers still have this? Can it be used for engineers who promote (or do not object to) engineering designs that have demonstrable, avoidable harms?
Geoff S

sherro01
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 3:55 pm

Nick,
You need to include political factors that can prevent coal generators from operating at best capacity. Too many hydrocarbon plants have been forced away from efficient base load operation towards inefficient load following when W&S fluctuate. As they do, big scale.
You cannot do a valid math analysis with eyes closed to such large political variables.
Geoff S

Nick Stokes
Reply to  sherro01
January 19, 2023 5:35 pm

You need to include political factors that can prevent coal generators from operating at best capacity.”
No, you don’t. The Pollock Limit purports to follow just from the arithmetic of capacity factors; there isn’t any place in that arithmetic for political factors. But in fact coal and other generators have always operated at about half capacity on average when they are the main source. The reason is simply that you have to have enough capacity to meet the peak demand, and mostly you are well below that.

So coal is overbuilt relative to average demand. So can wind be.

sherro01
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 6:33 pm

Nick,
I agree that Christopher”s discussion of the Pollock Limit does not include political factors.
Why, therefore, do you discuss the limit using examples that are perturbed by politics? That is why I mentioned that your examples should include political effects.
Have you ever been inside a hydrocarbon electricity generation plant? Ever explored consequences of minute-by-minute balance of supply/demand for not just Watts, but also voltage stability, frequency stability of a.c., harmonics, resonances, phase stability and other quality factors? Do you really understand the significant factors affecting and defining concepts like “half capacity on average”?
It is a while since I have been inside such plant, but maybe not much of the fundamentals has changed. Geoff D

AndyHce
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 4:07 pm

What are the storage and constraint payment costs for coal? That, and only that, is what the Pollock Limit is about (be it wrong or right).

Editor
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 4:48 pm

Intermittency is the key. If a new wind turbine is added to existing wind turbines, its output is at exactly the same times as the others. Same for solar. If a coal, gas or nuclear power station is added to existing coal, gas and/or nuclear power stations, its output can be scheduled to cover periods when others are under-producing, eg. to cover peak periods, scheduled maintenance or a plant failure. The formula fmax = 1-z that I suggested does apply, and for wind and solar 1-z is too small for comfort. For coal, gas and nuclear, z is very close to zero, ie. fmax is close to 1. Which is what one would want it to be.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 8:28 pm

Nick, it looks like you don’t have much experience with the design and operation of an electric utility. Would do you good to have a nice long chat with “Planning Engineer”.

The fundamental rule of running an electric power power system is that power suply must equal power demand plus system losses.

#1 Virtually every utility has a peak demand well in excess of the average demand, which means that the average capacity factor of all generation will be less than 100%.

#2 Generation is typically scheduled lowest cost of generation based on incremental cost, which is typically lowest with hydro, solar, wind and nuclear. Of those four, only the capacity factor of nuclear is predominately under the control of the utility, where there other are predominately limited by nature. This is why nuclear has the highest capacity factor along with 135Xe making load following a challenge.

#3 Read up on “Planning Engineer’s” essays on the penetration problem. Getting back to “the fundamental rule of running an electric power system” is that wind and solar can have wild swings in generation which can threaten the stability of the grid.

One last comment about the limits of overbuilding: If reducing CO2 emissions is a priority, the planning for generation must take into account the overall production of CO2 (e.g. cement production). My assertion is that use of fossil fuel generation to make up for drop outs in renewable generation will result in less emission of CO2 than overbuilding renewables and storage to handle the worst case. OTOH, the lowest total CO2 emissions would likely be from moderate overbuilding of nuclear and rooftop solar in conjunction with 6 hours worth of electric energy storage.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
January 20, 2023 2:30 am

Nick, it looks like you don’t have much experience with the design and operation of an electric utility.”
No, I don’t. Nor I think do Lord Monckton, Francis Menton, or even Willis. Nonetheless, Lord M has advanced a simple arithmetic proposition, the Pollock Limit, and I discuss it accordingly.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 20, 2023 7:36 am

Point taken wrt Monckton’s knowledge. It’s been my experience that few people who have not worked for a utility or have had at least taken courses on electric power systems have any clue of what actually goes on with running a utility.

Hence the “Penetration Problem” essays that appeared on Climate Etc and re-posted on WUWT, have a more accurate description of the practical limits for renewable energy than the Pollock Limit.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 19, 2023 8:47 pm

Nick “how can I trick people with statistics” Stroker

Natural gas power plant capacity factor is reduced by including all gas peaker plants in the average, that are INTENDED for part time use each weekday.

US coal capacity factor for coal has fallen from about 70%, 15 years ago, to 48% for reasons that have nothing to do with the capability of coal plants. The output suffers from a growing number of coal power plants being shut down during a year, reducing the overall capacity percentage for that year. There are also coal plants increasingly being used seasonally, for economic reasons, when they could be used all year.

“In an effort to improve the economics of coal plants, owners are evaluating plans to run plants on a seasonal basis, when electricity demand allows for steadier operation. Under these plans, coal plants would only operate during periods of higher electricity demand, from December to February (winter) and from June to August (summer). The expectation is that completely shutting down plants when electricity demand is low will limit financial losses. So far in 2020, four large coal-fired plants announced plans to operate on a seasonal basis.

Two of the plants, totaling 1,193 megawatts (MW), are in Minnesota. The other two are a 793 MW plant in Arizona and a 645 MW plant in Louisiana. The two units in Minnesota will run during the summer and winter. The plants in Arizona and Louisiana will only operate during summer because they are located in warmer climes.
Whether or not seasonal operation sufficiently improves the economics of coal plants remains to be seen”

SOURCE OF QUOTE:
U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis

Archer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 20, 2023 3:15 am

Nick, you’re either falling for, or committing, an error of conflation. The “capacity factor” of coal is not an equivalent of the capacity factor of wind. The latter is defined entirely by physical limits; when the wind doesn’t blow, the turbine doesn’t turn. The former, coal, is defined by operational parameters. Coal plants can operate as long as coal is supplied, with shutdowns for maintenance, so they have a theoretical capacity factor of 100% and a realistic capacity factor of something like 92%, similar to nuclear. They are, however, often taken offline in order to maintain the stability of the grid, which reduces the apparent capacity factor by a significant amount.

It isn’t the same thing, though. Referring to it as if it is is like saying that chihuahuas are wolves, because they’re both canids.

Last edited 18 days ago by Archer
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Archer
January 20, 2023 1:12 pm

The “capacity factor” of coal is not an equivalent of the capacity factor of wind.”

Capacity factor is a matter of simple arithmetic – what you actually generate divided by what you could have generated if the equipment had been working 24/7. We are talking about Monckton’s “Pollock Limit”. That just reframes the arithmetic to say that if you build enough equipment to meet no more than (average) demand if working 24/7, then what you will actually generate is limited by the capacity factor. Just a trivial rearrangement of the logic. Doesn’t matter why the factor arose.

The fallacy is of course that you aren’t limited to building just enough to meet average demand. Coal doesn’t do that, and nor should wind.

It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 1:06 pm

In 2021, the total wind energy generated in Ireland and Northern Ireland was 11,695 GWh, while 938 GWh of wind energy was dispatched down. This represents 7.4% of the total available wind energy in 2021.

In 2021, the share of electricity demand from renewable sources in Ireland and Northern Ireland was 35.4% (Figure 2). This is broken down as follows:
• 30.6% provided by wind;
• 0.4% provided by solar;
• 1.9% provided by hydro; and
• 2.5% provided by other4 renewable energy sources.

Note that since the percentage figures are presented for centrally dispatched generation (based on metered data), they do not account for non-dispatchable embedded renewable generation, which includes biomass, land-fill gas and small-scale hydro.
4 Other renewable energy sources include CHP, bioenergy and ocean energy.

https://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/Annual-Renewable-Constraint-and-Curtailment-Report-2021-V1.0.pdf

AndyHce
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 4:10 pm

while 938 GWh of wind energy was dispatched down

That is about 8% of generation ‘dispatched down’. What does dispatched down mean?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 8:19 pm

There are lots of useful charts and tables in the report.

It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 1:13 pm

Eirgrid have been conducting plenty of studies into grid constraints and curtailment in the light of their ongoing programme of installing more wind. Demand in Ireland is increasing because it has become a popular location for data centres on account of tax advantages. Whether that will be maintained if electricity becomes too expensive is an interesting risk for their economy.

Their 2020 study noted:

Ireland has a key target of meeting 70% of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2030. This target is set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan, published in June 2019. The 70% target means more renewable generators than are studied in this report. This will mean higher curtailment (unless measures to reduce curtailment are found), and depending on the location of the additional generators, higher constraints in some locations for existing and new generation.

A polite case of litotes.

https://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/ECP-1-Solar-and-Wind-Constraints-Ireland-Summary.pdf

They were looking at a limit of 60%. Now where have I mentioned that figure before?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 19, 2023 8:18 pm

In their more recent work they state

Currently, through our Shaping Our Electricity Future Roadmap, we have a plan to deliver at least 70% renewable electricity for the all-island power system. For this GCS 2022-2031, our forecast of renewable generation is aligned to 70% renewable electricity by 2030 for the median demand. Achieving 80% renewable electricity will require a seismic shift in thinking, as the scale of the task is unprecedented and there are significant challenges in terms of deliverability, technical scarcities and economic considerations.

That’s a move from litotes to panic, and a big warning to politicians about potential infeasibility and massive (unaffordable?) cost. That’s just for 80%. I think net zero truly scares them – as it should.

Chris Hanley
January 19, 2023 1:14 pm

The Irish return to peat for heat: “It costs approximately €500 to heat a household with peat for a year versus several thousand euros for more climate-friendly sources [sic] of energy”.
There is also a human patience limit.

Last edited 18 days ago by Chris Hanley
Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 1:15 pm

Looked up the numbers for Germany. They show that the Pollock limit is anything but a hard and fast rule. It depends on grid details.
For 2022, German wind was 23% of grid generation, despite its capacity factor for that year being only 20.1%. This is possible because Germany uses Norway (via interconnectors) as a ‘battery’. When Germany has excess wind generation, they ship it for ‘free’ to Norway, allowing Norway to reduce its hydropower and conserve the water. When Gemany is short wind, they buy hydropower from Norway at high prices. This is a good deal for Norway, but a bad deal for Germany.

Wind is always a bad deal. Some years ago I redid the egregiously wrong EIA LCOE, where EIA said wind and CCGT were at cost parity. In truth (using Texas ERCOT real numbers for 2016) CCGT was about $68/MWh while on shore wind was $146 before adding subsidy costs. Wind is more expensive, intermittent requiring underutilized grid backup (Germany uses Norway), and provides no grid inertia.

RickWill
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 2:12 pm

This is a good deal for Norway, but a bad deal for Germany.

Germany benefits by upping its “renewable” share. That builds the countries’ green energy cred. I do not know anything about EU carbon trading but there may also be some economic benefit there.

Wind is always a bad deal. 

Not in a predominantly hydro grid that is perched water constrained. And Norway has had that problem. It is inevitably a much faster and lower cost option than building more storage dams.

When Tasmania was isolated from the Australian mainland, they were installing wind turbines for conserving perched water. New Zealand gets the same benefit from wind and solar as their hydro is perched water constrained; plenty of hydro generating capacity but useless if there is no water in the storages.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 2:56 pm

It has turned into a bad deal for Norway. They get to import scarcity prices from Germany, and are now looking to place a ban on exports to prevent that. See chart

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/fLVEo/1

They also found that demand for exports was seriously threatening their reservoir levels, and thus their security of supply.

Germany has grid connections with all its neighbours. As it has closed nuclear and coal capacity it has found itself moving from being a significant net exporter towards a more balanced position.

http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/graphics/european_flows_2021.jpg

Last year it dug deep to help out France with its nuclear woes.

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/even-crisis-germany-extends-power-exports-neighbours-2023-01-05/

AndyHce
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2023 4:18 pm

The Pollock Limit doesn’t say anything about how much electricity it is possible to produce from W or S; it is only about the costs and efficiency. Does Germany have inexpensive electricity?

AndyHce
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 19, 2023 10:59 pm

First, I am not seconding the claim that the Pollock Limit is an absolute limit. I have questions of my own, which I attempted to make clear in comments here and in response to Monckton’s own articles. Others have essentially raised the same issue, in different words. I wondered if my examples could be expressed as a corollary to the presented mathematics, or if they are actually an exception to the claim, or if there is some way to show they are not an exception.

At the end of the his development of what he claims to be a proof, he has this paragraph:

What Douglas Pollock’s brilliant and, at first blush, unexpected result means is that the miserably low capacity factor R is in fact also the fundamental limit fmax on the contribution that unreliable can make to the grid without prohibitively expensive and logistically unachievable large-scale static-battery backup.

You will note the final clause.

First, there is no statement in his work that W & S cannot produce more electricity than that limit, only that, on average, or at least often, something else has to be done with generation beyond that limit, and that something tends to be quite expensive, if even realistically possible. In the above paragraph he only mentions battery backup. Later in the discussion he talks about constraint payments. Many objecting comments talk about using battery backup, as though he had not acknowledged batteries, or just turning off the excess generation, as though constraint payments are not part of (at least most) contracts.

The Pollock Limit hypothesis would seem to assume a bound system. You, and others, who point out grid interconnect use for the excess generation are certainly correct that at least that one other option exist (which is close to battery backup in most respects) – until everyone within reach has overbuilt enough that there is no place to offload excesses.

In the absence of some major flaw in my writing, I consider this reply sufficient answer to the other objections, such as the one you made further on.

Last edited 18 days ago by AndyHce
AndersV
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 20, 2023 1:24 am

Oh, if it was only that good. It used to be, when the interconnection was limited. Now, they opened a substantial interconnection to both Germany and the UK, with the result that Norwegian hydropower went from being cheap and a factor in favour of Norwegian energy intensive industry to being an overly expensive liability in lieu of “saving the planet”. Most people have come to understand that it is really “saving Germany from its green follies”, but for some reason our politicians seem to believe the “save the planet” stuff still.

The end results is that Germany balances its wind power with us and Sweden, but we get crazy high prices and drained reservoirs because Norwegian producers can sell all they want at European prices.

Modern Norway was built on our generous supply of hydropower. We use electricity in ways very few others can, because we have so much of it. Now, instead of continuing to use it in our favour, we are forcing ourselves to give it away to europeans. Politicians are dumbfounded why this has not turned out good, because it was supposed to because climate.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  AndersV
January 20, 2023 4:43 am

Interconnectors import the problems at the other end of the line.

Duane
January 19, 2023 1:51 pm

The Pollock Limit is, regardless of the precision with which it can be identified and proven, a very useful way to look at renewables, and certainly refutes the notion that it is practical to supply 100% of our electrical generation demand with renewables .. which is what the warmunists insist upon. With solar power, the limits on production are pretty clearly defined as hours of daylight, taking into account that daylight varies throughout the day. Wind power is a little less clearly because windiness is not solely determined by direct sunlight, being determined largely by regional wind patterns.

But exact or not, this is still a good theoretical model, and I think makes it easier to explain to the non-techy persons why we’ll never get to an all renewable power grid.

RickWill
January 19, 2023 1:52 pm

 I picked Ireland as a test case. 

The whole analysis fails due to this choice. Ireland is not an isolated network. There are interconnections to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Interconnections allow one region to use the other region as a battery having the power capacity of the interconnector but infinite storage capacity. That means that the local grid has the equivalent of substantial storage so overbuilding results in achieving penetration greater than the capacity factor.

I expect you will find France is the bunny that tolerates the intermittency on its mostly thermal generation.

Red
Reply to  RickWill
January 19, 2023 9:00 pm

Selecting Ireland is a strange mistake by Willis. As you say it has inter-connectors that flows power in both directions so they acts as a battery yet as I understand it the Pollock limit specifically excludes there being a battery in the system.

Mark BLR
Reply to  RickWill
January 20, 2023 8:00 am

I expect you will find France is the bunny that tolerates the intermittency on its mostly thermal generation.

NB : My ICT data for the GB grid is from the ESO (National Grid) website, and has some inconsistencies with the Irish ICT (Moyle and East-West) data provided by the EirGrid website linked to by “It doesnot add up”.
For detailed graphics of ICT flows for the Irish grid I would recommend using their data, not mine !

Following the various “Pollock limit” posts here I isolated the ICT data (from ESO) for the GB grid for all of 2022.

Note that “24 GWh per day” of energy production is (to a first approximation) equivalent to a constant power flow of 1 GW.

From April to November the GB grid was exporting to France, at a rate of 1 to 3 GW, while EdF flew in experienced American welders to repair the pipes in their nuclear reactors.

I have read that Germany also exported a lot of electricity to France during this time period as well.

That process is now slowing down (it should be completed around March/April), and is a “one-off” situation unlikely to be repeated in the near future.

Power cuts here in France in the next few weeks are more likely to come from strike action than production / grid stability issues.

GB-Electricity_ICT-flows_2022.png
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Mark BLR
January 20, 2023 12:31 pm

I think that EdF already announced they were planning to return some plants to maintenance in February having pulled out the stops to bring back capacity temporarily to cover cold weather demand in December. IFA1 is due to return to 2GW in the next few days, so if the weather turns cold and windless across Europe it could still be “interesting”. GB tends to outbid France during shortages: in December they were pleading to be let off their contracts guaranteeing supply to the UK under the Capacity Mechanism, and now they will have a bit more at risk.

RickWill
Reply to  Mark BLR
January 20, 2023 3:15 pm

GB grid was exporting to France, at a rate of 1 to 3 GW, 

That will certainly help UK green credentials.

I would like to know if France is importing intermittent power to the detriment of their nuclear generators under normal circumstances or if they just schedule them to maximise their economic value to France.

In Australia, the coal generators have to bid significant blocks of energy at negative prices so they undercut what the intermittent generators are willing to accept. Scheduling is entirely based on pricing with the occasional oders and compensation for dispatchable generators to remain connected to provide stability services. The FCAS market income is sometimes insufficient to cover losses in the energy market within the market operation so “orders” work outside the normal generator scheduling.