Tag Archives: Wind Power

The Real Cost of Wind and Solar, by Norman Rogers

Take the numbers in this article with a grain of salt, but there’s no disputing the central argument—wind and solar can’t stand on their own two feet yet economically, they need government subsidies. From Norman Rogers at americanthinker.com:

The main problem with either wind or solar is that they generate electricity erratically, depending on the wind or sunshine. In contrast, a fossil-fuel plant can generate electricity predictably upon request. Blackouts are very expensive for society, so grid operators and designers go to a lot of trouble to make sure that blackouts are rare. The electrical grid should have spare capacity sufficient to meet the largest demand peaks even when some plants are out of commission.  Plants in spinning reserve status stand by ready to take over if a plant trips (breaks down). Injecting erratic electricity into the grid means that other plants have to seesaw output to balance the ups and downs of wind or solar.

Adding wind or solar to a grid does not mean that existing fossil fuel plants can be retired. Often, neither wind nor solar is working and at those times a full complement of fossil fuel plants, or sometimes nuclear or hydro plants, must be available. Both wind and solar have pronounced seasonality. During low output times, as for summer wind, the fossil-fuel plants are carrying more of the load. Of course, solar stops working as the sun sets.

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The Unexpected Consequences Of Germany’s Anti-Nuclear Push, by Irina Slav

How about that, there are no free lunches in energy production. From Irina Slav at oilprice.com:

Nuclear plant Germany

Germany, the poster child for renewable energy, sourcing close to half of its electricity from renewable sources, plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Its coal-fired plants, meanwhile, will be operating until 2038. According to a study from the U.S. non-profit National Bureau of Economic Research, Germany is paying dearly for this nuclear phase-out–with human lives.

The study looked at electricity generation data between 2011 and 2017 to assess the costs and benefits of the nuclear phase-out, which was triggered by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and which to this day enjoys the support of all parliamentary powers in Europe’s largest economy. It just so happens that some costs may be higher than anticipated.

The shutting down of nuclear plants naturally requires the replacement of this capacity with something else. Despite its reputation as a leader in solar and wind, Germany has had to resort to more natural gas-powered generation and, quite importantly, more coal generation. As of mid-2019, coal accounted for almost 30 percent of Germany’s energy mix, with nuclear at 13.1 percent and gas at 9.3 percent.

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Was There Another Reason for Electricity Shutdowns in California? by Richard Trzupek

Is renewable energy making California’s electric grid less reliable? From Richard Trzupek at theepochtimes.com:

According to the official, widely reported story, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) shut down substantial portions of its electric transmission system in northern California as a precautionary measure.

Citing high wind speeds they described as “historic,” the utility claims that if they didn’t turn off the grid, wind-caused damage to their infrastructure could start more wildfires in the area.

Perhaps that’s true. Perhaps. This tale presumes that the folks who designed and maintain PG&E’s transmission system are unaware of or ignored the need to design it to withstand severe weather events, and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) allowed the utility to do so.

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How Renewable Energy Models Can Produce Misleading Indications, by Gail Tverberg

Renewable energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it probably never will be. From Gail Tverberg at ourfiniteworld.com:

The energy needs of the world’s economy seem to be easy to model. Energy consumption is measured in a variety of different ways including kilowatt hours, barrels of oil equivalent, British thermal units, kilocalories and joules. Two types of energy are equivalent if they produce the same number of units of energy, right?

For example, xkcd’s modeler Randall Munroe explains the benefit of renewable energy in the video below. He tells us that based on his model, solar, if scaled up to ridiculous levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a half-dozen of our neighbors. Wind, if scaled up to absurd levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a dozen of our neighbors.

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Renewable Energy Hits the Wall, by Norman Rogers

Large scale wind and solar power makes no economic sense. From Norman Rogers at americanthinker.com:

If the official definitions of renewable energy were logical, renewable energy would be defined as energy that does not emit CO2 and that is not using a resource in danger of running out anytime soon.  But the definitions written into the laws of many states are not logical.  Hydroelectric energy is mostly banned because the environmental movement hates dams.  Nuclear is banned because a hysterical fear of nuclear energy was created by environmental groups.  Both nuclear and hydro don’t emit CO2.  Hydro doesn’t need fuel.  Nuclear fuel is cheap and plentiful.  A large number of prominent global warming activists, such as James Hansen, Michael Shellenberger, and Stewart Brand have declared that nuclear is the only solution for the crisis that they imagine is approaching.

For those of us who don’t take global warming seriously, there is nothing wrong with using coal and natural gas to generate electricity.  The CO2 emitted helps plants to grow better with less water, a great help to agriculture.

In approximately thirty states that mandate renewable energy, the only scalable forms of renewable energy allowed are wind and solar.  California mandates that 60% of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2030.  Nevada mandates 50% by 2030.  There are other types of official renewable energy, but they can’t be easily scaled up.  Examples are geothermal energy, wave energy, and garbage dump methane.

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Yes, Solar And Wind Really Do Increase Electricity Prices — And For Inherently Physical Reasons, by Michael Shellenberger

Unless the price of oil and natural gas shoot to the moon, solar and wind are going to remain the more expensive alternative. From Michael Shellenberger at forbes.com:

Department of Energy

Ivanpah solar farm produces 18 times less electricity while using 290 times more land than Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

In my last column I discussed an apparent paradox: why, if solar panels and wind turbines are so cheap, do they appear to be making electricity so expensive?

One big reason seems to be their inherently unreliable nature, which requires expensive additions to the electrical grid in the form of natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries, or some other form of stand-by power.

Several readers kindly pointed out that I had failed to mention a huge cost of adding renewables: new transmission lines.

Transmission is much more expensive for solar and wind than other plants. This is true around the world —  for physical reasons.

 Think of it this way. It would take 18 of California’s Ivanpah solar farms to produce the same amount of electricity that comes from our Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

And where just one set of transmission lines are required to bring power from Diablo Canyon, 18 separate transmission lines would be required to bring power from solar farms like Ivanpha.

Moreover, these transmission lines are in most cases longer. That’s because our solar farms are far away in the desert, where it is sunny and land is cheap. By contrast, Diablo Canyon and San Onofre nuclear plants are on the coast right near where most Californians live. (The same is true for wind.)

New transmission lines can make electricity cheaper, but not when they are used only part of the time and duplicate rather than replace current equipment.

Other readers pointed to cases that appear to challenge the claim that increased solar and wind deployments increase electricity prices.

To continue reading: Yes, Solar And Wind Really Do Increase Electricity Prices — And For Inherently Physical Reasons