Another Non-reassuring Report On New York’s Energy Future


Francis Menton

As stated in my previous post of April 19, two separate Reports addressing the question of New York’s net zero electricity future have recently been brought to my attention. These two Reports are distinct from the so-called Scoping Plan, issued by the state’s Climate Action Council. The Scoping Plan is supposed to be the official word on how we are to achieve “net zero” electricity by some time in the 2030s. Unfortunately, this Scoping Plan is not a feasibility study, or anything close to that, and despite enormous length — 700+ pages between text and appendices — really comes down to no more than a direction to the low status people to figure out how to achieve the decarbonization mandates set by their superiors.

And thus we find that well-informed New Yorkers (a small number at this point), upon recognizing and inquiring about the rank inadequacy of the Scoping Plan, are being directed by their politicians to these other two Reports as supposedly containing the answer to how this is going to be done. One of the Reports, issued by the electric utility Con Edison in late 2022, was discussed in my April 19 post.

My subject today will be the other Report, titled “Initial Report on the New York Power Grid Study.” It has an issue date of January 21, 2021. Who wrote it? Under a heading “Prepared By” on the cover page, we find credit first given to unnamed “staff” of the New York Department of Public Service and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; but then there is a list of some seven named authors, all of whom come from two consulting companies, the Brattle Group and Pterra Consulting.

Reader Bill Ponton has sent along several comments on this Report, and I’m going to feature those.

If you were to start reading this Report, the first thing that will strike you is that the authors are at pains to let you know that they are making no commitments here as to anything important, like exactly how much new stuff needs to be built, how much it will cost, and whether it will work. Rather, they’re just tossing out some ideas on how to get started. A few excerpts from the Executive Summary:

Meeting these [Climate Act] milestones will require investment in renewable generation, as well as storage, energy efficiency measures, electrification of the transportation and heating sectors, and electric transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure. . . . To meet these directives, the PSC, through the Department of Public Service, initiated a set of system studies, collectively referred to as the Power Grid Study (PGS), which is the subject of this Initial Report. . . . The three PGS studies suggest the following potential distribution, local transmission, and bulk transmission needs. . . .

Hey, these are just “suggestions.” Go ahead and spend twenty years and a few hundred billions of dollars trying to build it out. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t, try something else.

Most of the Report addresses transmission issues. But the subject of how much wind, solar and storage capacity to build does finally turn up in Appendix E. At page E-3 we find this table of “initial scenario” installed renewable capacity (in MW):

Add up the solar and wind rows, and you get about 21 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, and 46 GW by 2040. They then assume that they will get some 58,155 GWh of useful generation from the 21 GW of renewable capacity in 2030. But Ponton — who has just completed a study of actual results from wind and solar generators in the UK in 2022 — thinks that they have way over-estimated how much usable generation they can get from this 21 GW of wind and solar capacity. He calculates that if New York’s 2030 results are approximately the same as those of the UK for 2022, the actual usable generation from the renewables will be more like 35,760 GWh. From an email from Ponton on April 18:

It is difficult to believe that NY State could have any different outcome in 2030 other than the UK results in 2022. . . . They will be sorely disappointed finding that they will only be able to generate about half the renewable energy that they anticipate in 2030 even if they meet their ambitious renewable capacity buildout plans.

But far more absurd is the provision in this Report for prospective energy storage. Note the numbers in the table above — 3 GW in 2030 and 15.5 GW in 2040. As usual they leave out the duration of the batteries. But Ponton wrote to the lead author of the Report from the Brattle Group, a guy named Hannes Pfeifenberger, to get the information. Result:

I asked one of the principal authors of the NY Power Grid study report, Hannes Pfeifenberger, how did he intend to balance fluctuations in wind power and he stated that the biggest factor was 17 GW of battery storage with a maximum duration of 6-hr, totaling 102 GWh. His response is surprising. I calculated that with wind power capacity of 84 GW,  there was 59,851 GWH of wind energy curtailed and 48,071 GWH of gas turbine energy used. In theory, the curtailed wind energy could be stored and then subsequently discharged to substitute for the energy provided by the gas turbines, but would require energy storage of 12,000 GWH. 

102 GWh versus 12,000 GWh. So, as usual with the studies we can find for places like New York and California, they’re off on the storage requirement by a factor of more than 100.

Is it possible that Ponton and I are missing something and these guys actually know what they are doing? I suppose. But then, why not build a demonstration project and prove us definitively wrong?

UPDATE, April 23: Below is a rendering from my energy storage report of a grid battery storage facility under construction in Queensland, Australia, by a firm called Vena Energy. It’s stated capacity is 150 MWh.

150 MWh is 15% of one GWh. So it will take about 80,000 of these to provide New York with its 12,000 GWh of grid storage. At $250/KWh (highly optimistic) the cost will run around $3 trillion — well over double New York’s annual GDP.

5 16 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Halla
April 23, 2023 6:10 pm

Another case of unicorns on treadmills.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 23, 2023 8:32 pm

No = treadmills might generate SOME electricity. Unicorns farting is more like it

Tom Halla
Reply to  Colin
April 23, 2023 8:34 pm

That would involve combined cycle gas turbines, something outside the knowledge base of environmental lawyers, who wrote the New York plan.

Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 6:11 pm

He calculates that if New York’s 2030 results are approximately the same as those of the UK for 2022, the actual usable generation from the renewables will be more like 35,760 GWh.”

Big if. NY solar the same as UK solar? Latitude 40N vs 52N?

In fact the NY assumption is that they will achieve 31.6% of nameplate, which seems very reasonable. Ponton’s guess is 19%.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 7:22 pm

Where do they say achieve 31.6% of capacity. What is the average insolation value they use to arrive there ( if they even do say that)

Reply to  Duker
April 23, 2023 7:30 pm

World Bank Direct Normal Irradiation
comment image

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Duker
April 23, 2023 7:32 pm


Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 9:02 pm

An observation?

A calculation or is it ‘modelled’

None of those numbers appear in a text search of full report except 8760 or the hours per year

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Duker
April 23, 2023 9:48 pm

From this article
Add up the solar and wind rows, and you get about 21 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, and 46 GW by 2040. They then assume that they will get some 58,155 GWh of useful generation from the 21 GW of renewable capacity in 2030.”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 1:36 pm


Nick Stokes
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 25, 2023 12:38 am

That is Menton writing.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 8:21 pm

So thats solar and wind .
Whats solar ?

You quite rightly raised to issue of UK solar 10% capacity factor was for more northerly location.
So how does 20% for solar sound , during daylight only of course

The Real Engineer
Reply to  Duker
April 24, 2023 3:21 am

Does the nameplate capacity take the day length into account? I’m sure it doesn’t. So whatever the weather or season they are going to get something like 100% of nameplate rating for 30-40 % of the time? Not possible, sorry. It is all lies, or written by persons who live on the Sun, or something, but certainly not the real world. BTW New York has both clouds and Snow, just in case they had forgotten weather as a factor.

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 8:47 pm

31.6% may be reasonable for Wind alone but Solar will fluctuate between a mere 22% in summer and a meager 12-14% in winter. With sufficient snow winter could drop below 10% CF. and the figures above lean more towards Solar … 52% Solar and 48% Wind. The problems start when the Wind stops blowing sufficiently from 3pm local until 9am local when Solar output is basically zero

Reply to  Bryan A
April 24, 2023 12:00 pm

Wind power is also the lowest in the winter. Percent decrease depends on location. Then there is that study on JoNova indicating that every three days 500 MW of Wind power is suddenly lost across the entire country. That is equivalent to the typical Fossil power plant suddenly shutting down – The Electrical Dispatchers Nightmare! Luckly that does not happen very often in the US. That is what would cause blackouts like the two east coast blackouts. Dispatchers can control shutdowns of Power plants they cannot control the wind across LARGE Wind Farms. The typical Shipping Container sized Tessla Battery might last long enough to prevent disaster but NOT a Blackout. Probability increases with the number of windfarms. Same is also true for Solar.

Reply to  Bryan A
April 24, 2023 1:03 pm

31.6% also assumes that frost and snow will be removed from the panels immediately during the winter.
It also assumes dust and pigeon droppings will be removed instantly as well.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
April 25, 2023 6:22 am

Democrat “make work” for Republicans arrested for practicing free speech and placed into “Community Service Reeducation/Work Camps”

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan A
Chris Hanley
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 10:36 pm

Solar PV installations in regions of moderate insolation like Switzerland [49N] act as net energy sinks, few degrees south would not make much difference.
A future global source of cheap reliable plentiful energy — I don’t think so.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris Hanley
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 24, 2023 6:02 am

Does Switzerland also have a net zero policy? If so, are they willing to ruin their beautiful country with vast amounts of industrial wind and solar or would they just attempt to import such “green” energy? Or go nuclear?

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 12:42 am

There is a calculator.

Attached is the calculated (to be expected) output for a 1kW nameplate crystalline silicon panel at optimum azimuth & slope somewhere near Central Park

esp to note that it will produce 1,329.7kWh per year which I get to be capacity factor of 15.2%

For my location, 52° North in the sunniest/driest part of the UK, that panel would produce 1,039.5kWh or a c/f of 11.8%

Solar PV at NY Latitude.PNG
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 5:58 am

how many thousands of acres of solar “farms” will it require?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 24, 2023 11:43 am

The Wandoan South Solar Project is being built 400km north-west of Brisbane in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland. The total area for the planned development of the project is 1,336ha, out of which 514ha will be used for the planned development of stage one.
514 ha = 1270 acres

80,000 X 1270 = 101600000 acres or 158750 sq miles.
Just for the battery storage.

Figure the original stage one remainder of 822 ha for solar and we get
65760000 ha or 253900 sq miles for solar (WAG).

A total of 412650 sq miles for the whole enchilada.


Last edited 1 month ago by Yirgach
don k
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 7:30 am

Nick — sitting in Melbourne as I believe you are, solar in New York might seem reasonable. However, New York state has a far more extreme climate than you probably would expect. In the Winter, noontime solar angles in the Northern part of the state are around 20 degrees. That’s really too low for much solar output. But it gets worse. Once you get 100km or so North of NYC, Winters are quite extreme. The large cities along the route of the old Erie Canal — Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany are downwind of two of the great lakes. They are among the snowiest cites in the US — a couple of meters each most every Winter. Not surprisingly Solar panels tend to work poorly when covered with ice/snow — which they are much of the time most years from early November to late March.

Summer? Yes, solar will work. But it’s expensive to begin with once you strip off the subsidies and add back the hidden costs. And only working half the year only makes it more so. From an engineering POV, it’d probably make more sense to generate solar power in a milder climate closer to the equator and ship it North by wire.

The region — at least the Champlain Valley where I live — is also rather cloudy much of the year. Not sure why. Truly, doesn’t seem a great place for solar.

Reply to  don k
April 24, 2023 12:34 pm

I seriously doubt that you could power a defrosting system, like on the front/rear window of a car with the power generated and a large Tesla home battery. I lived halfway between Syracuse and Watertown near I-81 for five years. You could count on that roof being covered with four plus inches of snow from Nov. 1 to April / May 1. I now live very close to the 42nd parallel and you can count on a thin cover of frost every morning on the roof along with a bi-weekly snowfall of over an inch to remove. I am one of the few people in the neighborhood that has a ranch style house. It takes a 30 ft pole to pull a snow brush on just the lowest six feet of the roof leaving the other twelve covered with snow. I can easily visualize breaking a panel, if I had any, and definitely with a fifty ft pole.

Reply to  usurbrain
April 24, 2023 1:07 pm

Don’t put that brush away when the snow goes away, you still need to regularly clean those panels to get dust and bird droppings off of them.

Even you don’t break the panel with the brush, you still have to worry about scratching them. Every scratch will permanently decrease the amount of power you can expect from the panel, year round.

Last edited 1 month ago by MarkW
Nick Stokes
Reply to  don k
April 24, 2023 5:29 pm

the Northern part of the state”
Then don’t. We have wires to carry electricity. Generate it in a sunnier place. You would have to go too far SW of NYC to find one. If they can bring power from Quebec, they can bring it from Kentucky.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 4:04 am

Maybe you can explain to the good people of Kentucky why they should suffer the ills of solar panels on their landscape just to send it off to NYC on ugly high voltage lines. Let NYC install solar panels and windmills in Central Park.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  starzmom
April 25, 2023 5:17 am

I’m sure they could find old coal mines to rehabilitate.

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 6:35 am

Old coal mines could be used as Carbon Sinks. Plant fast growing trees like poplar that mature in 10 years. Cut down and replant every 10 years and place the cut trees in the bottom of old coal pit mines. Carbon isn’t released in any significant quantity. When filled, cover and leave for the replacement coal to form

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 9:44 am

The point is that it is not Kentucky’s responsibility to supply power to New York. That is New York’s responsibility. They just shut down a big nuclear plant just north of the city. Why?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  starzmom
April 25, 2023 10:45 am

It isn’t Quebec’s responsibility either, but they do it. There is a market in electricity. People make money from generating it.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 2:08 pm

There are big hydro facilities and long term contracts in place. There are few facilities in Kentucky that have excess power for NY, and I for one don’t see why they should build plants/windmills/solar farms in Kentucky for New York consumers. i also don’t think Kentucky should take New York’s garbage, but that is another story.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 3:00 pm

Quebec’s James Bay is an enormous hydroelectric project in a remote wilderness that produces abundant electricity and was built for the purpose of having surplus to export. The line on pylons from the dams to Montreal—900 km as the crow flies—is through uninhabited almost roadless forest. A 600 km buried and submerged DC line to New York City expects to carry 1250 MW when it’s finished in 2026, enough for 1/3 of the city ‘s demand. Quebec does not currently supply to NYC, only to New England but them Yankees have nixxed plans for more pylons and there is no convenient lake and river valleys to provide an easy out-of-sight route to Boston. Ontario has intimate synchronous connections with New York.

Transmitting abundant reliable 24/365 hydro-electricity long distances from James Bay is an entirely different proposition from transmitting solar over mountain landscapes from Kentucky when it doesn’t even exist.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leslie MacMillan
Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 6:27 am

To power NYC from Solar AND recharge a Back Up Battery with Power only generated from 10am til 2pm local (current electricity usage + transportation + heat and cooking) would require covering an area the size of Connecticut with panels. The Back-up Battery would need to be the size of a building just to cover night time peak but they could put it at Battery Park

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 6:30 am

“If they can bring power from Quebec, they can bring it from Kentucky”
How will they accomplish this unless Kentucky installs a Surplus of additional solar/wind to plan for NYC. Kentucky will need an Oversupply themselves

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Bryan A
April 26, 2023 3:16 am

Kentucky supplies bourbon to NYC. They don’t mind making a surplus. It’s just trade.

April 23, 2023 6:19 pm

why not build a demonstration project and prove us definitively wrong?

The world wonders.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mr.
April 24, 2023 6:04 am

yuh, we’re all waiting for a nation (or state) to arrive at net zero nirvana and cheaply too!

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 24, 2023 6:44 am

I believe the nation of Sri Lanka recently attempted to go “green” with renewable energy and Organic farming. The results were predictably calamitous.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Graemethecat
April 24, 2023 9:56 am

Look on the bright side: The Sri Lankan ruling class managed to escape with their fortunes intact. They can still jet-set on with their Davos/WEF buddies.

Reply to  Mr.
April 24, 2023 7:50 am

Because they want to keep people guessing so they can advance their World Fascist agenda further before the masses realise.

Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 6:23 pm

I calculated that with wind power capacity of 84 GW, there was 59,851 GWH of wind energy curtailed and 48,071 GWH of gas turbine energy used. In theory, the curtailed wind energy could be stored and then subsequently discharged to substitute for the energy provided by the gas turbines, but would require energy storage of 12,000 GWH. “

This makes no sense. In the scenarios stated, the max wind power is 23.6 GW. By curtailed wind power, I presume he means surplus to demand. But why does storage have to be provided so that none goes to waste? Does he assume that gas is only used if no wind is available?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 7:27 pm

But why does storage have to be provided so that none goes to waste?

How much would be reasonable to waste Nick, and what effect does wasting it have on capacity factor?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2023 7:34 pm

How much would be reasonable to waste”
With W&S, fuel costs nothing. You have to spend to generate enough. If there are times when some can’t be used, so be it.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 7:53 pm

The world will revert to the Dark Ages if it tries to rely on w & s as its main source of electricity.
The worst to suffer the catastrophic effects of this vanity and intellectual failure will be the poor.

But that’s a price Nick is willing to pay, he not being a debt-laden member of the poor.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 8:22 pm

What an effing dodge Nick.

You know very well you cannot answer the question without exposing the reality of W&S. So instead you shrug and say “so be it”.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2023 8:30 pm

The reality of W&S is that fuel costs nothing. To generate enough for demand, there will be times when you have capacity unused. With FF, you just turn them off, or at least run low. With W&S, for some reason it is called curtailment. But Menton seems to think you can’t curtail but instead must provide storage for the surplus. Of course you don’t.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 10:32 pm

But Menton seems to think you can’t curtail but instead must provide storage for the surplus. Of course you don’t.

Don’t you? The fuel might be free but the capex is not. So power produced that is not needed must either be curtailed (wasted) or stored. Wasting it drops the capacity factor meaning you need more alternative sources (which require more capex), or you need to store the power (which requires more capex). This is the achilles heal of W&S. To deliver a stable grid requires many times as much capex which over the lifetime of the infrastructure makes “free fuel” cost prohibitive. But you knew that which is why you shrugged it off.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

Last edited 1 month ago by davidmhoffer
Nick Stokes
Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 24, 2023 12:40 am

Wasting it drops the capacity factor meaning you need more alternative sources “
It doesn’t mean you need alternative sources. The reason it is “wasted” is that you had more power than you need.

Capacity factor allows for the times when you are not using it usefully. It happens with most forms of generation, with variation in daily demand.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 1:14 pm

And once again Nick tries to pretend that averages actually mean something.
According to Nick you don’t need to store excess wind and solar because in a few hours you will need it.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 3:21 pm

Actually no it doesn’t. You misunderstand capacity factor. Idling a generator because you don’t need it contributes to utilization factor, not capacity factor.. A generator that can’t generate when you need it has less than 1.0 capacity factor. No generator has CF= 1 but hydro, nuclear, and fossil come close. CF for W & S are so much less than 1 that much over-building is necessary. The two concepts are different because supply and demand are different concepts and it is disingenuous to confound them.

A gas turbine with CF = 0.95 might be used only 30% of the time because it gets kicked off the grid when the wind blows. This does not reflect on the reliability of the gas turbine, but it does waste the investment in the machine.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
April 25, 2023 9:27 pm

OK maybe utilisation factor is the right term. But it doesn’t matter. As a matter of arithmetic, if our equipment has a utilization factor of 50%, you need twice as much of it as you would in the factor were 100%. The reason why you couldn’t use it doesn’t affect that.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 24, 2023 4:06 am

“To deliver a stable grid” — Eliminate wind and solar…

Steve Richards
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 10:46 pm

The reason it is called curtailment is because if the grid can’t accept anymore power, the w&s produced companies get paid for their loss od income.

It’s so bad in the UK that w&s companies can sell their unused electric WHILE receiving curtailment payments!!

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Steve Richards
April 23, 2023 11:11 pm

 the w&s produced companies get paid for their loss od income”
No, they don’t. They get paid if grid congestion prevented delivery to a buyer.

But curtailment here just means that power is not supplied to the grid.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 1:13 pm

And there he goes, returning to his old lies.
So what if wind and solar fuel is free. It’s the cost of making it useful that matters.

Are you still stupid enough to believe that you can just turn FF plants on and off whenever you feel like it?

Regardless, your buddies have made it quite clear that there will be no FF plants permitted in the future.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 23, 2023 8:33 pm

Wouldn’t want to be in an elevator in New York Nick. Glad to see you are back /sarc

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Colin
April 24, 2023 6:11 am

as a kid in the ’60s I recall being on the elevator in the Empire State Building- they held a lot of people- dozens- if it stopped unexpectedly, it would be terrifying- bad enough to stop but with all those people!

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 12:25 am

Is the best land use the windmill that is not turning, the solar panel that is not being used, or a use with value like farming or mining or housing or just plain natural beauty? Geoff S

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 24, 2023 12:36 am

I think the best use is cows grazing peacefully under the wind turbines.

But not giraffes.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 4:08 am

Cows experience higher than normal rates of spontaneous abortion when exposed to the vibrations associated with windmills. Dairy and cattle farmers do not expose their valuable animals to that risk.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 24, 2023 6:13 am

or growing high value timber so nations with housing shortages can build more housing- assuming the climatistas care about solving THAT problem

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 3:44 am

By same same token, Oil, Gas, and Coal are free. After all, they are already there, and only need to be extracted from the Earth.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 5:14 am

“With W&S, fuel costs nothing”

He put it in a misleading way. What he meant and should have said is, how much overbuild are you prepared to accept? Overbuild determines wastage. Wastage is a function of capacity utilization. Its overbuild that costs. And it costs in both capital and current maintenance costs.

Wastage is thefore an indicator, but what matters is the overbuild that gives rise to it.

The more you overbuild, the more you waste, the lower the capacity factor. Therefore the lower your NPV, unless you raise prices to match of course. Overbuild amount determines the real driving parameter for financial decisions, NPV per GW.

You’re constantly repeating the mantra that fuel is free for W&S. Which ignores the fact that the cost of fuel isn’t the determinant of NPV. Its one factor among many.

In the present case what happens is that you way overbuild so as to meet demand at periods of dark calm without resorting to battery storage. But when you do this you raise capital cash out, so whether the wind is free or not becomes immaterial. You are paying so much to harvest it.

So his question should be something like, are you ready to install 10 times the faceplate capacity which on average you need to meet average demand, in order to meet the dark cold calm nights and weeks demand? Or, just say how much overbuild you are prepared to accept.

At that point it will be clear to you that in accounting terms wind is no freer than coal. Both require trapping and capturing. The difference is that one will never run out, the other will run out eventually. But neither are free to harvest.

Almost all Green thinking about costs of energy will, to paraphrase Keynes, turn out on examination to be based on basic accounting errors. The cry that wind is free is a classic.

Read Brealey and Myers, Principles of Corporate Finance.

Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 5:25 am

The points you make are unarguable, yet Stokes persists in ignoring them.

Is Stokes dishonest, or merely obtuse?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 6:17 am

Principles of Corporate Finance? Ha, nobody on the left would EVER read a book like that. It would be poison to them for 2 reasons- first, they hate corporations, second, they can’t think in terms of long term economics.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 24, 2023 4:33 pm

..and there it is — The hypocrisy of the green/left idealogues.

Left/green hate big “dirty western” corporations’ oil, gas coal, = BAD

….Big green capitalist “clean green” corporations wind, solar, battery = GOOD.

There is nothing green about renewables..

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  SteveG
April 25, 2023 5:00 am

When a solar “farm” was in the planning stages in my town in north central Woke-achusetts- a few of us were fighting it intensily- so they had a hearing to discuss it- I saw in the audience some Asian men who were obviously right off a jet from China- because Asian American men born in America have normal looking hair styles. But Chinese men in China have dorky looking hair cuts- often like Moe of the 3 Stooges. And these guys looked a bit dangerous and angry as their big solar “farm” was being threatened. My wife and I sued the town and that company. They were going to spend a fortune to defeat us so we settled so that they pushed it back a bit from the ‘hood and threw some money at us to landscape behind our homes to hide it. And they installed several hundred arborivitae trees along the boundaries. We were sure that the planning board must have been- “encouraged” to support this “farm” because they seemed super enthusiastic about it- with no justification for such excitement.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 5:19 pm

Which ignores the fact that the cost of fuel isn’t the determinant of NPV. Its one factor among many.”

It is a very big component.

In the present case what happens is that you way overbuild so as to meet demand at periods of dark calm without resorting to battery storage. “

No, you try to keep battery storage within limits. There is an optimum, as I show here. Overbuild is about double what you need to meet the requirement if demand were uniform. But it isn’t of course, so there is already a lot of overbuild of FF plants, just to meet the annual peak.

Or, just say how much overbuild you are prepared to accept.”
Again, it is in the linked analysis.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 11:15 pm

Real numbers for the UK, 2020 and 2021. Using gridwatch data. Includes estimates against this data for doubling and tripling wind.

It is not going to work.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 12:52 pm

W&S only for Net Zero is both physically and economically impossible. EVEN for your country. IMPOSSIBLE, Moreso as other countries compete for the needed materials. The cost of copper in the US has doubled in the last ten years and the government is not letting anyone use new sources in the US. and the same for the other needed materials.
Have you not read any of the articles on WUWT?
Not enough Copper, Cobalt, rare earth minerals, Lithium, and 10 – 20 other absolutely essential materials. The scarcity and the high price of FF along with all of the W&S materials is going to Skyrocket to the Moon. And China controls 90+ percent of the materials. You are buying your own grave for China to starve you to death.
But the elites will invest in all of those comodities and become ten times richer and you ten times poorer.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 1:11 pm

What gas? Your buddies have made it clear that they want all fossil fuel power sources eliminated.

Reply to  MarkW
April 24, 2023 4:35 pm

Correct — I’ve got an idea…Let’s firm renewables with…………………more renewables, yeah that will work! – That’s the logic of the green/left climate alarmists.

Last edited 1 month ago by SteveG
Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 25, 2023 3:49 pm

Storage has to be provided if you are going to try to do without gas backup for all the capacity you are hoping to generate from wind. Say your annualized capacity factor for your wind turbine fleet is 0.33 and you hope to generate 1000 MW on average with it. So you need 3000 MW nameplate capacity of windmills. Averaged over the year you will get your 1000 MW. But there will be times when your windmills generate less than 1000 MW, sometimes much less. And there will be times when they generate the full 3000 MW, which is way more than you need. If you are going to get through the calm periods when generation is less than 1000 MW, maybe zero, you would like to be able to draw on the surplus generated when it was windy. But if you had no way to store the surplus there is nothing there to draw on. It’s gone, vanished, or was never generated at all.

Note that even if you could store all the surplus with 100% efficiency, there is no guarantee that in any one month, the windy days at 3000 MW will always cover the deficit run up during calm days. The calm days might outnumber the windy days, or you might not have enough storage to capture all the windy surplus. Sometimes where I live the wind does pick up during the summer late afternoon, giving the illusion that wind “follows” load. As long as this pseudo-relation holds, then thevcurtailment won’t be as large. The extra electricity will actually be used. But my basic argument still holds.

Now, OK, if gas is allowed to cover when there is no wind, then curtailment is not a worry. But the whole promotion of wind and solar rests on the claim that gas backup will be neither necessary nor permitted. So you either invent enough storage to catch all the surplus, or you live with blackouts of unpredictable duration and frequency.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leslie MacMillan
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
April 25, 2023 4:52 pm

I did here hour by hour accounting for the USA48 supply and demand, to work out what it really would cost in each of the years 2019-2022. There is plenty of surplus if you just provide enough generation to meet the peaks, as is done with FF. It turns out that the cost of storage is quite a lot smaller than the cost of building the turbines.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 26, 2023 7:40 am

I’ve put off reading your analysis until you’re stopped updating it to correct errors. But again you confound capacity factor and utilization factor. True, intermittency of demand means that all generators, FF and not, have to be built to meet the peak demand and so by definition won’t have UF = 1, (except for base-load nuclear.). Weather-dependent generators suffer the additional handicap (expressed as CF << 1) of not being able to promise to meet any demand when the weather doesn’t cooperate. The CF is a handicap inherent to generation that depends on factors beyond our control, such as weather and downtime for maintenance. UF is simply a matter of how we humans decide to recruit or shut down various types of generators.

It is dishonest to say that a windmill with a CF of 0.33 is better at keeping the lights on than a gas turbine with a UF of 0.2 but a CF of 0.9….especially if the low UF of the gas plant is a result of deciding that it will be used only when wind and solar don’t work.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
April 26, 2023 12:37 pm

It is dishonest to say that a windmill”
It’s not a matter of honesty, it is a matter of accounting. If, for whatever reason, machinery doesn’t work full-time, then to achieve a result, you will need more of it.

The reason I have had to make so many fixes to my analysis, after the initial bungle, is that I tried to avoid estimating capacity factor at all. That is, I take the result we get from W&S, and scale it up. Then to do the costing, I take data on how much we spent to build, and scale that up by the same factor. And yes, mistakes were made.

My next post will look at expanding solar more than wind. The main cost now is not storage but of the overbuild required to match a wind availability with a minimum in late summer, with a demand that peaks there. Solar of course peaks in summer. So an optimum is a mix where wind covers the weakness of solar in winter. It can save a trillion or two.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 27, 2023 12:24 am

I am going to explain why I think you are rigging the accounting in favour of wind and solar when you equate UF and CF for accounting purposes. Availability for use is not the same as the decision to actually use. You can’t decide to use what you do not have–the decision is made for you. But you can decide not to use, or defer the use of, what you do have. A technology that allows you to do the latter is more valuable than one that makes you beholden to the former, as shipowners discovered when steam engines became practical. The superior value should be reflected in the accounting. An unused gas turbine is providing a service to customers (backup availability on demand) even when it is not producing billable electricity. (It is actually providing a service to the windmill owner by allowing him to stay in business.) A windmill that is becalmed is not producing a service–that’s CF–, nor is it producing a service if it has to be backed or feathered or whatever they call it when it would produce more power than the demand can absorb. That’s UF. You have to overbuild to compensate for CF << 1. This overbuild imposes a UF < 1 because you can’t ever use all the power the windmills can generate at max wind, even if demand is high at that time.

Back to my example upthread of average demand of 1000 MW. Add the assumption that max demand is 1.5 x min, let’s say 1200 MW and 800 MW. With an all-gas system, the gas turbines have to be able to generate 1200 MW at peak and are throttled back to 800 MW at min. Since average demand is 1000 MW, the average UF for the turbine is 1000/1200 = 0.83. Another way of saying this is that if gas turbines come in 300 MW quanta, you need 4 of them, not just 3.3 of them, just as you said. (If the peak demand was 2 x min, same average, the UF would be less, hence the virtue in trying to spread demand out over the 24-hr day.)

Now look at windmills. We said we needed 3000 MW nameplate to give 1000 MW average. On windy days when they would generate 3000 MW you have to curtail 2000 MW (UF at that moment 0.33), unless that strong wind happens to coincide with the peak demand of 1200 MW. Then for those periods you are curtailing only 1800 MW (UF = 0.4). If the wind drops to where it happens by chance to match demand at that moment then you aren’t curtailing anything. (UF =1).* (If it drops below demand than you have shed demand, quick. UF is still 1.) Conversely, if the max wind occurs at min. demand, of 800 MW, then 2200 MW has to be curtailed, for UF = 0.27. Over longer terms of days to months, the UF of wind will average out to some number between 0.27 and 1.0, depending on the degree to which wind happens to match demand.

* But is this fair? Nameplate is 3000 MW. If wind is only producing 2000 MW, and we’re using all of it, is that fairly an UF = 1 or is UF really 0.67? If wind drops to 600 MW and we’re using all of it, is UF now 0.2? I don’t know. I’m just trying to be explicit.

Now let’s look at our gas turbines that backup the windmills. We need 1200 MW to ensure peak demand can be met even on calm days.. During flat calms, the UF varies just as it did when there were no windmills. When the wind is blowing, the gas UF will be some smaller number. If it is briskly windy for many days in a row, the UF will approach zero. Averaged over time, the UF will be whatever it is, depending on the random match between wind and demand, but it could take any value between ~ 0 and 0.83.

So the UF for both wind and gas averaged over any important time interval (days to months) will be some number less than 1.0 because you aren’t using the full capacity of either all the time. But here’s the difference: With a gas turbine you can calculate how much more capacity you need to buy to cover the expected max demand. With windmills that calculation is more uncertain for predicting capacity requirements because you don’t know when those high curtailment periods will be, nor when you’ll be needing every watt they can generate. And you can’t even predict what your gas UF will be, either! The owner of the gas turbine has to contend with his revenue varying not just with demand for electricity but with the supply of wind. With gas alone, curtailment occurs at predictable periods of low demand. With wind + gas, curtailment of both occurs at unpredictable periods of high supply of wind.

The standby fixed costs–for capital finance and maintenance/staffing –of a gas turbine held in reserve should be charged to the windmills because the windmills make idling the gas turbine necessary in the first place. If it weren’t for the windmills you’d just use the gas turbine all the time and make max. money off it.

Another way is to consider what would happen if the gas turbines disappeared. You would have certain blackouts on calm days where there was insufficient storage. Now consider what would happen if the windmills disappeared. You would just use the gas turbines and the lights would stay on no matter the weather. Gas consumption would be higher but with UF closer to 1 the financial efficiency would be maximized because the gas turbine owner would be selling electricity all the time.

Even if gas becomes very expensive (from scarcity or from taxation) its ability to provide electricity, albeit expensive, on windless overcast hot days will make it more appealing than unpredictably long blackouts, unless storage becomes a competitively affordable reality. There is probably no price for electricity that makes blackouts the better choice. This makes UF profoundly different from CF. They shouldn’t be regarded as equivalent.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leslie MacMillan
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
April 27, 2023 6:45 pm

I am going to explain why I think you are rigging the accounting in favour of wind and solar when you equate UF and CF for accounting purposes.”
In the modelling I am currently doing, I don’t use either of them. I look at what upscale factor would allow W&S generation to cover the demand now met by FF. I check that hour by hour, and deduce the storage requirement. The cost of intermittency is not properly measured by any such factor, but by measured inability to meet the demand at times and resulting cost of storage. Then I optimise the upscale by balancing cost of build vs cost of storage.

For cost of build, I look at what nameplate MW has been built, cost that, and then upscale by the same factor. You could deduce a UF there, but no assumption need be made.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 29, 2023 9:42 pm

OK, I think I follow. You can calculate UF and CF retrospectively from actual observed generation statistics but you don’t need to specify estimates for them ahead of time. They just are what they are.
Thanks for the exchange.

Edit: you have in the past challenged commenters to provide estimates for the cost of intermittency. I am glad your model captures that by costing the storage (or over-build) required to prevent demand shedding.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leslie MacMillan
April 23, 2023 7:19 pm

From the report
“A summary of the average generation level assumptions employed by the Utilities in its study cases is shown in Figure 5. As shown, offshore wind generation evaluated ranges from 20% to 100% of installed capacity, land-based wind generation ranges from 0-75%, and utility solar generation ranges from 0-70%.

They are assuming a range for solar of 0-70% of nameplate capacity ??

At least they are honest about the 0 part.

And for Nick , the UK capacity factor for PV is around 10% “in their climate” [The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) assumes an average capacity factor of 9.7% for solar photovoltaics in the UK.]
Even doubling it for NY state means they are less than 20% CF

I think NY is comparing themselves to Arizona

April 23, 2023 7:23 pm

700+ pages between text and appendices 

When you don’t know what you are doing, do it in great detail.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2023 8:35 pm

Yup. Dazzle them with brilliance (short and sweet). Baffle them with BullSh$t – and lots of it

Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2023 9:11 pm

When you don’t know what you are doing, do it in great detail.

So true. No one on Earth has read the whole of the UNIPCC AR6 Report. It is beginning-to-end manure.

After 50 years of prognosticating the end of the world due to burning fossil fuels, it takes a mountain of text and diagram covered pages to conclude that humans may be influencing climate. Nothing definite.

If there is nothing obvious after 50 years of searching for obvious signs, it is time to throw in the towel and admit it is not apparent that humans are influencing climate.

Mark BLR
Reply to  RickWill
April 24, 2023 4:45 am

No one on Earth has read the whole of the UNIPCC AR6 Report [ singular … ].

The latest estimate is that there are more than 8 billion people now on planet Earth.

You shouldn’t just assume that every single one of those 8 billion people have the same (or lower) levels of “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (OCD) that you do.

I have “read”, and took (electronic) notes of the “interesting” things that struck me as I was reading, the entire AR6 WG-I assessment report.

I have “rapidly skimmed” the entire WG-II report, along with chapters 1 to 5 and Annex III — “Scenarios and modelling methods” — of the WG-III report.

It is beginning-to-end manure.

While “the beginning”, i.e. the SPM, is indeed pretty dire there are some nuggets hidden in “the manure” if you take the time to “read” the full report carefully enough.

Section 1.5.4, “Modelling techniques, comparisons and performance assessments”, page 221 :

Numerical models, however complex, cannot be a perfect representation of the real world.

Section, “The likelihood of reference scenarios, scenario uncertainty and storylines”, page 239 :

SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5 are explicit ‘no-climate-policy’ scenarios (Gidden et al., 2019; Cross-Chapter Box 1.4, Table 1), assuming a carbon price of zero. These future ‘baseline’ scenarios are hence counterfactuals

NB : The new SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5 emission pathways neatly bracket the old RCP8.5 pathway. The IPCC is indirectly admitting that if SSP3-7.0 is above the “counterfactual” threshold then so is RCP8.5.

Section 4.2.5, “Quantifying Various Sources of Uncertainty”, page 566 :

fitness-for-purpose of the climate models used for long-term projections is fundamentally difficult to ascertain and remains an epistemological challenge

However, the long-term perspective to the end of the 21st century or even out to 2300 takes us beyond what can be observed in time for a standard evaluation of model projections, and in this sense the assessment of long-term projections will remain fundamentally limited.

The last sentence of section 4.2.5, on page 567 :

Still other uncertainties ⎼ such as further pandemics, nuclear holocaust, global natural disaster such as tsunami or asteroid impact, or fundamental technological change such as fusion ⎼ are not accounted for at all.

In Box 4.1, “Ensemble Evaluation and Weighting”, page 568 :

However, despite some progress, no universal, robust method for weighting a multi-model projection ensemble is available, and expert judgement must be included, as it did for AR5, in the assessment of the projections.

Section, [ Near-term changes in ] “Precipitation”, page 584 :

The ‘wet get wetter, dry get drier’ paradigm, which has been used to explain the global precipitation pattern responding to global warming (Held and Soden, 2006a), might not hold …

Section, “Coupled Climate-Carbon Cycle Projections”, page 733 :

Despite the wide range of model responses, uncertainty in atmospheric CO2 by 2100 is dominated by future anthropogenic emissions rather than carbon-climate feedbacks (high confidence).

Note that chapter 7 is titled “The Earth’s Energy Budget, Climate Feedbacks and Climate Sensitivity”.

Section 7.1, “Introduction, conceptual framework, and advances since AR5”, page 929 :

The top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy budget determines the net amount of energy entering or leaving the climate system.

It also provides a fundamental test of climate models and their projections.

NB : Section, “Estimates of ECS and TCR Based on the Global Energy Budget”, starting on page 995, includes several references to “Lewis and Curry, 2015/8” …

Section 7.5.5, “Combined assessment of ECS and TCR”, page 1007 :

In the climate sciences, there are often good reasons to consider representing deep uncertainty, or what is sometimes referred to as unknown unknowns. This is natural in a field that considers a system that is both complex and at the same time challenging to observe.

In section, “Hydrological processes related to ice and snow”, on page 1072, you will find one of the many examples of just why we need the IPCC to provide us with “expert” judgement and insights …

In summary, it is virtually certain that warming will cause a loss of frozen water stores, except in areas where temperatures remain below 0°C for most of the year.

In FAQ 8.2, “Will floods become more severe or more frequent as a result of climate change?”, the IPCC admits (on page 1155) :

However, heavier rainfall does not always lead to greater flooding. This is because flooding also depends upon the type of river basin, the surface landscape, the extent and duration of the rainfall, and how wet the ground is before the rainfall event (FAQ 8.2, Figure 1).

Flooding is also affected by changes in the management of the land and river systems. For example, clearing forests for agriculture or building cities can make rain water flow more rapidly into rivers or low lying areas. On the other hand, increased extraction of water from rivers can reduce water levels and the likelihood of flooding.

Section, “Detection and attribution, event attribution”, page 1588 :

The cause of the observed slowdown in TC translation speed is not yet clear.

Section, “Projections”, page 1590 :

There is not an established theory for the drivers of future changes in the frequency of TCs [ Tropical Cyclones ].

Mark BLR
Reply to  RickWill
April 24, 2023 5:15 am

If there is nothing obvious after 50 years of searching for obvious signs, it is time to throw in the towel and admit it is not apparent that humans are influencing climate.

The main reason I ended up only “rapidly skimming” the WG-II and WG-III reports, rather than “reading” them carefully, was because early on I “read” the following.

In the AR6 WG-II assessment report, section 1.1.4, “What is New in the History of Interdisciplinary Climate Change Assessment”, page 131 :

First, this AR6 assessment has an increased focus on risk- and solutions-frameworks. The risk framing can move beyond the limits of single best estimates or most-likely outcomes and include high-consequence outcomes for which probabilities are low or in some cases unknown (Jones et al., 2014; Mach and Field, 2017). …

Second, emphases on social justice and different forms of expertise have emerged (Section, 17.5.2). As climate change impacts and implemented responses increasingly occur, there is heightened awareness of the ways that climate responses interact with issues of justice and social progress. In this report, there is expanded attention to inequity in climate vulnerability and responses, the role of power and participation in processes of implementation, unequal and differential impacts, and climate justice. The historic focus on scientific literature has also been increasingly accompanied by attention to and incorporation of Indigenous knowledge, local knowledge, and associated scholars (Section, Chapter 12).

Third, AR6 has a more extensive focus on the role of transformation in meeting societal goals (Section 1.5).

The title of the Working Group One (WG-I) report is “The Physical Science Basis”.

For Working Groups Two (WG-II, Adaptation) and Three (WG-III, Mitigation) of the IPCC it is clear that “the science” summarised by WG-I should now be considered as a “historic” approach when it comes to addressing their main (justice / social progress / inequity / …) “issues”.

For WG-II and WG-II “the science / scientists” can now effectively be discarded, and replaced by discussions with “associated scholars” and the purveyors of “indigenous / local knowledge” instead.

They have not “thrown in the towel”, they have simply “moved the goalposts (UK) / done a bait-and-switch (US)” in order to advance their “societal” goals.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  RickWill
April 24, 2023 6:20 am

Stephen Koonin in Unsettled says humans are influencing the climate but to a trivial degree- not worth all the trouble the greens are forcing on us. And of course some of the influence is positive which of course the greens refuse to acknowledge.

The Real Engineer
Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 24, 2023 3:32 am

I think that the best part of this storage is they haven’t allowed for the capacity to charge it! So a reasonable estimate is another 50% of W and S which will add another $Trillion to the bill. All this is disingenuous at best, and probably outright lies due to lack of knowledge of anything, including the weather. Where is the computer model with the real numbers as input? There isn’t one that is genuine in it’s calculations. Nothing new there then!

CD in Wisconsin
April 23, 2023 7:24 pm

“Meeting these [Climate Act] milestones will require investment in renewable generation, as well as storage, energy efficiency measures, electrification of the transportation and heating sectors, and electric transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure. . . “


Not a world about nuclear? Didn’t they just shut down a nuclear plant a while back (north of NYC) ?

When a society starts down a road paved with fantasies, the last thing they should expect is a bright colorful rainbow at the end of it.

don k
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
April 24, 2023 10:46 am

@CD: “Didn’t they just shut down a nuclear plant a while back “

They did. Indian Point in Buchanan, NY. However, it was really a rather questionably sited facility being only 30 miles from downtown Manhattan and directly upstream at that. Little chance of containing a significant accidental spill of radioactives before they got into the metro area. Not a location that I think would be selected nowadays. Maybe closure was warranted. (And maybe not).

Reply to  don k
April 24, 2023 1:21 pm

The worst case US scenario was Three Mile Island.
The amount of radiation released amounted to about 1 chest x-ray at the plants fence.
30 miles away, completely unmeasurable. Total spillage, zero.

Today’s reactors are much, much safer.

Reply to  MarkW
April 24, 2023 8:31 pm

Thats true . But it was fairly close to being much worse
 Soon after 6:00 a.m., the top of the reactor core was exposed and the intense heat caused a reaction to occur between the steam forming in the reactor core and the zircaloy nuclear fuel rod cladding, yielding zirconium dioxidehydrogen, and additional heat. This reaction melted the nuclear fuel rod cladding and damaged the fuel pellets, which released radioactive isotopes to the reactor coolant..,’ Wikipedia

The law of averages had failed them and the problem wasnt picked up till and hour later .

David Solan
April 23, 2023 9:11 pm

  Sometimes, by picking out little 3rd-grade mistakes in net-zero pronunciamentos,
you can get an inkling of how completely divorced their wider narratives are from
scientific reality. Specifically, I want to talk about the trifle called: units of
measurement. They’re using megawatts and megawatt-hours loosely, interchangeably, and
unscientifically, but this seemingly trivial error actually hides a much more ominous
psychological pathology. And it is interesting to note that Mr. Menton inadvertently
follows their lead, though, I am sure if challenged, he would have immediately
corrected his error.

  It has now become the standard puff-piece ploy to use megawatts or terawatts to
quantify photoelectric capacities, and sometimes even the capacities of wind power.
In effect, the holy crusaders against CO2 are trying to magnify the pitifully small
contribution such technologies make to commercial power generation. If the Sun were
shining 24 hours a day, directly vertically above a solar panel, which remained
pristine clean over years of use, with never a cloud in the sky, nor bird droppings,
fog, rain, and especially snow, and with no deterioration of, nor ever a need to
maintain, that panel, it would produce continuous power so that we could multiply that
power by the amount of time it was in use to obtain its total contribution. But, in
reality, we have to subtract, mightily, from this number to get the actual usable
energy it could produce which could aid us in the real world.

  Thus, in that Appendix E, the Table of “initial scenario installed renewable capacity”
put out by the New York Department of Public Service, the numbers are all said to be
in units of “MW”. However, in one line of that table is the word “Energy Storage” (I
don’t know what Tx means), and energy, hello, is not measured in units of megawatts.
Megawatts are units of power. Energy can only be measured in something like units of
MW hours. In fact, all the lines of that table should be in MW hours, since none of
those vaunted sources of power are in any way reliable over any significant length of
time, and using a power unit to describe them, suggesting such reliability, is pure PR
verbiage. I don’t care if their “power” were 10 trillion watts — if it was on for 1
millisecond, nothing useful would come of it as far as citywide power production was

  I repeat, this “trivial” error bespeaks of a mindset divorced from reality, where
there is no need to get upset over the real facts of the energy production, and
storage, of these Rube Goldberg concoctions to be foisted on us by these founts of
scientific knowledge we have as our current, stolen-election leaders.

David Solan

April 23, 2023 9:56 pm

I would love to know how much they paid their consultants for these studies, and how much of that money got cycled back to the politicians.
Here is a graph of electricity production in the UK.
They have very nearly gotten rid of coal. About 40% of that reduction was due to the UK’s drop in power demand, the rest due to wind and solar.
Their wood burning as replaced the power they have lost from decommissioning nuclear power plants.
The are almost completely dependent on natural gas as their only backup to wind/solar, not counting imports.
Just so insane.

UK Electricity Sources and Demand.png
Alexy Scherbakoff
April 23, 2023 9:58 pm

It reminds me of some google patents that incorporate components that haven’t been invented yet.

Chris Hanley
April 23, 2023 10:43 pm

At $250/KWh (highly optimistic) the cost will run around $3 trillion — well over double New York’s annual GDP

And much of that cost is recurrent every 10 to 15 years.

The Real Engineer
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 24, 2023 3:54 am

Lets do the accounting.
Cost of battery (all of once on construction) $3 Trillion
Interest due on this money if borrowed at say 5% $150 Billion per year
Repayment of principal per year assume life 20 years? $150 Billion per year
Saving up for new battery in 20 years,
assume 5% inflation of cost $300 Billion per year
Answer = Cost of storage per year $600 Billion

One can buy an awful lot of gas for backup for that money, $600 Billion per year, the project is simply going to make electricity too expensive to use. Perhaps that is the idea? Caves with no fire will be the result. One may not agree with my numbers, even a 2x error would make electricity uneconomic for anything. Then you add taxes and profits etc. The answer is a new kind of hell for New York state, all the GDP is going on electricity storage, let alone production.

April 24, 2023 1:30 am

Nick has never put his own proposed network parameters up, but they are starting to get clear from the various fragmentary comments.

He starts with the premise that you compensate for intermittency by overbuilding. Only tiny amounts of storage need be provided. In the present case he is defending a provision of 3GW,apparently for 6 hours, to back up 21GW of capacity.

The question is not about capacity utilization factor. That is essentially irrelevant. It does not much affect the case if your wind capacity is 30%, 40% or 50%. You can see this from the UK case.

The UK has about 28GW of wind. Total demand is generally between 35GW and 45GW, though there are peaks as high as 47GW. The peak demand is long dark winter evenings.

The 28GW of wind can produce over 15GW at peak periods. Last year for instance we have:

minimum: 0.141 GW
maximum: 16.97 GW
average: 7.033 GW

So the average is 25%. But that doesn’t matter to the overbuilding question. What matters is the 0.141 figure. In the UK you have regular periods when wind output is below 5GW for 7-10 days. But worse, you also have periods of a 24 hours when its around 1GW.

So, says Nick, just overbuild. Don’t worry about constraint payments because the fuel is free, just don’t use any surplus generation.

Lets see the implication. You are faced with the task of providing a peak of 45GW for several hours from plant that is delivering about 4% of faceplate.

That is a big number. Looks like 1,125GW. Say this is too pessimistic, you manage with a bit of storage for the complete calms, and you only need 500GW for the rest of them. Does anyone think its remotely realistic for the UK to build that much wind capacity? Just calculate how many turbines that will be. The UK currently has 11,000 of them to deliver its 28GW faceplate which would mean 18 times as many. But the new ones will have much higher capacity. Say you only need 10 times as many. That is still 110,000 wind turbines and 280GW of capacity. Does anyone think this is remotely plausible?

Now we come to the next bit. This 280GW (for the sake of argument) is going to generate peak outputs of around 60% of faceplate. That is 160GW. A lot of power, almost 4 times the peak usage. Fine, says Nick, no need to pay anyone for constraint, just turn them off. There is no need for constraint payments because they do not correspond to any costs incurred by the operator. Wind is free, so if you waste it, who cares?

Well, they do correspond to costs. This is Accounting 101. Because the cost the operator has incurred is the cost of installing the capacity in the first place. The operator can then only charge for what is used, so the effect of overbuilding on this scale is lower capacity utilization and therefore lower return on investment.

How much lower capacity utilization? You would have to do the detailed numbers, but we have raised the amount of capacity 10 times, while keeping demand the same. At the moment we have about 25% utilization on average. It will have to fall to well below 10% with such huge peaks. Maybe 5%. Its such a ridiculous idea that its not worth working through it.

The fundamental problem Nick is having is that, try as he may, he cannot meet the objection that you cannot deal with wind droughts and long dark winter evenings by overbuilding. It cannot be done. Anyone who tries it will find themselves on the other horn of the dilemma: blackouts. And losing the next election by a landslide to a party whose sole promise is to build back coal or gas or anything that actually works to supply usable power.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 4:04 am

Nick has never put his own proposed network parameters up”
I recently did my own costed analysis of USA48 here.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 4:35 am

I did some cost calculations back on the Tesla article where we discussed this a little while back.

Just copying & pasting that:

Using the IEA figures, to just cover total demand (minus nuclear & hydro), I get:

Total demand 3.72 TWh
Total less N&H 2.79 TWh

Assuming 20 yr lifetime for each, I get the following lifetime costs: (in $billion)
Capital O&M Fuel Total
Wind 1,556 486 0 2,042
Solar 1,696 234 0 1,930
Nuclear 292 1,043 521 1,855

Adding storage at the 7.5, 12 and 15 W&S multiples as above, and taking the lower cost of wind and solar for a mix

build multiple W&S storage
7.5 1,930 800
12 3,088 25
15 3.860 0

Scaling up nuclear to cover peaks, a rough guess is add 25% to the build above – $365 billion capital and $2,320 billion lifetime.
The usual caveats and large grains of salt apply.

Those don’t match up with your figures, which may well be an error on my part.
I’ll take a further look in the morning.

old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 4:09 pm

Checking my numbers.
The figures should be thousand TWh (million GWh), rather than TWh.

Multiply annual energy figure by 20 to get lifetime energy production/demand
2,790 TWh * 20 = 55,800 TWh = 55,800,000 GWh = 55,800,000,000 MWh

Multiply by IEA LCOE figures for the USA

$27.89/MWh * 55,800.000.000 MW = $1,556,262,000,000 = $ 1,556,262 million = $1,556.262 billion.

The other lifetime cost calculations follow the same approach.

In (very) round figures, W&S provided 10% of total electricity in 2019, so the 7.5 multiple in the second set of figures (build multiple) brings it up to the 75% not provided by nuclear & hydro.

The IEA LCOE figures appear to be empirical values for actual energy produced per jurisdiction rather than nameplate. If they are nameplate, they need to be divided by capacity factor. Perhaps that’s the source of our divergence.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 5:49 pm

I think I have found an error in my calc, which multiplies build costs by 3.6. That should bring my figures closer to yours. Working on it…

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 6:50 pm

The error was actually a factor of 8.76. That brings the optima down to about $4T (capital cost of replacing USA48 FF with W&S + battery), much closer to Old Cocky’s numbers. The revised post is here.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 7:28 pm

I’m glad you found where the error was and corrected it.
Having similar results from different approaches tends to cross verify both.

If I may offer another suggestion.
In the conclusion, you write “As before, the very high levels of storage in the reports by Ken Gregory and CFACT are bogus.”

This rather detracts from the otherwise measured tone, so I suggest changing “bogus” to “unduly pessimistic”.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 9:31 pm

A further correction brings that up to $13T.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 10:37 pm

That’s back around where you started, isn’t it?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 10:54 pm

It’s endless. I’m back to your region, about $5T. I went to actual faceplate installed data, which is better, but forgot that my code then divided by capacity factor. I hope that is the last.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 11:46 pm

Sometimes you just have to give the thinking a break and have a cup of tea, or chill out with a nice cold beer 🙂

old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 8:29 pm

While I’m playing with numbers, Australian electricity production/consumption was 266 TWh in 2020-21, so about 10% of the US.
On a very quick and nasty basis, that should have around 10% of the generation, storage and costs of the USA48.
I suspect we may have longer periods of low wind, though.
I wonder if AEMO or NEM has hourly figures.

old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
April 25, 2023 2:00 am

Some more thinking out loud, preparing for the next stage.
We now have an estimate of

  • the generation and storage capacity
  • the cost of generation and storage

The next step is to put some numbers on building the new generation and storage.

The IEA LCOE calculator ( has the most cost-effective nuclear in 1000 MW units, onshore wind and solar in 100MW units, so let’s stick to that.

Offshore wind is in 600MW units, but they may not have figured in costings to any extent.

Average generation is 425 GW.
Assuming sufficient nuclear to provide 25% headroom, and the H=12 multiple for W&S (approx 50% headroom), that requires.
I think these are nameplate capacity, so divide by the capacity factor (assume 0.3)

1 GW nuclear: – 531 GW, 531 facilities
0.1 GW (output) solar or onshore wind – 638 GW, 6380 facilities.
0.1 GW (nameplate) solar or onshore wind – 2127 GW, 21250 facilities.
0.6 GW (output) offshore wind – 638 GW, 1,063 facilities
0.6 GW (nameplate) offshore wind – 2127 GW, 3544 facilities.

Those are big numbers, but the USA is a big place and uses lots of electricity.

Existing nuclear, hydro and W&S provide around 35% of current demand, so only 65% of the above would need to be newly built.

The usual caveats about back of the envelope calculations and errors apply, but it’s a starting point.
and, yes, the number of W&S facilities required looks too high to me as well.

old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
April 25, 2023 3:12 pm

It appears that newer wind turbines are in the 3MW (nameplate) range, but the newer wind farms in Australia are still around 100MW nameplate.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 5:04 pm

There are more giga issues later on, eg
7.5 1,930 800
12 3,088 25
15 3.860 0
The units seem to change in the last line. If it is 3860 $B, that sounds about right.

Smaller numbers than I had, not sure why.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 5:12 pm

Yes, those are billion US dollars, and the ‘.’ in the last line should be a ‘,’. Thanks for catching that.

As far as I can see, the calculations are correct (apart from typos), so it may be the different approaches, or different sources for costs.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 24, 2023 5:38 pm

Smaller numbers than I had, not sure why.

I think it’s a combination of the following:

My figures are well and truly rounded for a first order approximation (which sounds so much more scientific than “back of the envelope”)My figures are for total build, rather than the delta from 2019 capacityI took the solar PV lifetime costs rather than trying to work with technology mixes. Wind is 5% higher over 20 years, but slightly cheaper up frontThe IEA figures seem to be for energy produced, not nameplate.The capacity factor seems to be the biggie. If my figures are divided by 0.3 or yours multiplied by 0.3, they come out quite similar to each other

Last edited 1 month ago by old cocky
Nick Stokes
Reply to  old cocky
April 24, 2023 6:51 pm

No, as I noted above, I had made a big error which inflated the costs. My numbers are now similar to yours.

old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
April 26, 2023 6:18 pm

I just spotted an error in my nuclear calculations. Well, in the assumptions, really. LTO is just keeping old plants running longer, so capital cost is lower. The capital cost given for LWR is $50.32/MWh, but O&M is lower. The other figures are for a 20 year life, so presumably this applies to LWR as well, despite them having a 50 year life.

Adding in LWR
Capital O&M Fuel Total

Nuclear 2,808 647 521 3,976

This is comparable to the W&S optimal overbuild figures.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  old cocky
April 26, 2023 9:00 pm

I’m improving by expanding and costing solar and wind separately. more solar in the mix lowers costs. I’m hoping to post again today at Moyhu, with more graphs.

Mark BLR
Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 4:06 am

The UK has about 28GW of wind. Total demand is generally between 35GW and 45GW, though there are peaks as high as 47GW. The peak demand is long dark winter evenings.

The 28GW of wind can produce over 15GW at peak periods. Last year for instance we have:

minimum: 0.141 GW

maximum: 16.97 GW

average: 7.033 GW

[ Enter “pedant” mode … ]

There is no such thing as “the UK grid”.

Northern Ireland is a member of “The EirGrid Group”, AKA “the island of Ireland grid”.

All data below is for “the GB [ = the island of Great Britain = England + Scotland + Wales ] grid”.

[ … exit “pedant” mode ]

– – – – – – – – – –

The BM Reports website provides data for “Metered Wind” with the 30-minute “Settlement Period” time resolution used by the GB grid operator (National Grid / ESO).

URL 1 :

The ESO website provides estimates of “Embedded” (= “Unmetered” …) “Wind” and “Solar” electricity generation, with the same 30-minute time resolution.

URL 2 :

What matters is the 0.141 figure.

To save on disk space my “long term” graphs only have monthly resolution.

For the combined “Metered + Embedded” numbers I got a minimum of 382 MW for (the 28th of) March during calendar year 2022, which is more than your 141 MW but still a lot less than the “nameplate” ~25,950 MW capacity theoretically available in Q1 2022 (see table ET6.1 at the following UK government website : ).

The attached graph gives the results of my calculations … which are always subject to error ! … for both “nominal / nameplate” capacities and extreme 30-minute generation numbers for “Total Wind” and “Solar” production for the GB electricity grid since January 2018.

The details will be different for each US state, but the overall patterns are unlikely to be radically different.

Reply to  Mark BLR
April 24, 2023 4:50 am

My source for the numbers was

Where they are given in more or less real time as well as annually. Are you saying they are wrong?

Mark BLR
Reply to  michel
April 24, 2023 9:38 am

Are you saying they are wrong?

No the Gridwatch numbers aren’t “wrong”, they are just “incomplete”.

Gridwatch only gives the BM Reports “metered” numbers, which explains why they don’t include a “Solar” column (which is “Embedded” data, the original source of which is the University of Sheffield).

My “Total Wind” = BM Reports “(Metered) Wind” + ESO’s “Embedded Wind”, hence the discrepancy.

Note also that the inter-connector (ICT) numbers from BM Reports only provide imported values (the minimum value in their CSV files is zero …), while ESO provides both imported and exported numbers (for each 30-minute “Settlement Period”).

Attached is a graph I now consider “too crowded” that highlights the drop in GB “Total Wind” production from over 20 GW on the 26th-27th November last year to under 1 GW less than 48 hours later, which shows the approximate ratio between the two components.

– – – – –

PS : My initial spreadsheets used Gridwatch data, but their nominal “sample rate” of 5 minutes was (and is …) in practice highly variable, which complicated the “accumulate total GWh per day” code, and significant “curation” of their downloads was required to filter out “obviously wrong” values.

Switching to “BM Reports + ESO” data, with regular and already curated 30-minute data, meant I could do everything in an Excel-clone spreadsheet without having to run it through a C program beforehand.

Reply to  Mark BLR
April 24, 2023 10:32 am

Chris Bond did a study (using the gridwatch data, so not complete with regard to all generation) for 2021 and 2022.

Your ‘too busy’ chart shows the problem very clearly. You cannot do it by overbuilding. Its either huge amounts of storage or blackouts.

Your data source seems to be much easier to work with than the gridwatch. Wish I had more time for this.

Dave Andrews
April 24, 2023 8:16 am

I wonder if the authors of this report actually consulted any wind turbine manufacturers to see if what they are proposing is realistic?

Here are some quotes from Wind Europe press releases earlier this year.

Feb 23rd 2023 ‘Europe must boost the competitiveness of its wind supply chain’

“The EU REPower EU strategy wants wind energy to more than double the 200GW installed today by 2030. Requires massive investment in new and existing industrial production capacities and across the whole supply chain – from installation vessels to cranes, ports, research and innovation, grids and skilled workers.”

“But the wind supply chain lacks the money to invest at the required scale. Europe’s five wind turbine manufacturers continue to operate at a loss”

March 16th 2023 ‘EU Green Industry Plan falls short for now’

“The European Commission has presented its Green Deal Industrial Plan. Goals require it to build over 30GW new wind farms every year to 2030. Europe has a big wind energy supply chain today but its not big enough to produce these volumes.”

Wind Europes CEO Giles Dickson is quoted “we simply don’t have enough factories and infrastructure today to build and install the volumes Europe wants”

April 24, 2023 2:04 pm

When New York builds windmills and installs solar panels in Central Park, I will start to believe they are serious about this–but only start to believe.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights