Intermittent & Unreliable ‘Delivery’ Makes Wind Power Pointless

Posted: September 24, 2016 by oldbrew in Big Green, Energy
Tags: , ,

As the article below says:
‘The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.’

One of many problems with renewables unfortunately. And its even more unfortunate when those problems seem to be getting ignored by those in charge of our electricity supplies.


kites Wind can be a whole lot of fun – while it lasts …


Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity
Our Finite World
Gail Tverberg
31 August 2016

Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity: US, 5.4% of 2015 electricity consumption; China, 3.9%; Germany, 19.5%; Australia, 6.6%.

In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to…

View original post 3,753 more words

  1. M Simon says:

    I have a friend who is high tech (he writes software). He does not understand grid operation. He is sure Alternative Energy is workable. I’m a hardware guy (computers, electronics, power supplies). I agree with the article.

    A phase out of subsidies will cure a lot of the economic stupidity. Very little will cure belief.

  2. JB says:

    It is unsettling to find so many people running headlong (or is it buttshort??) into an enterprise without having performed due diligence to feasibility studies. Fred Hoyle published a book in 1977 called Energy or Extinction where he covered all the bases of energy production including future projected needs. Chapter 4 is especially illuminating. Alternative energy devices under any technology then or now extant can not produce the requisite power to keep world civilization running (except perhaps at levels at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution). The only place they make the remotest sense to use is in locales where no utility service has been brought in and the cost of doing so exceeds the lifetime balance sheet of alternative technologies. He took the stance that oil was finite and would eventually disappear, but that is proving not to be the case. What is not well known is that crude oil is one of the earth’s most abundant “renewable” energy sources. In today’s political aggression, what nation would want to admit that crude oil is more abundant than raw diamonds by an order of magnitude?

    People should stop calling such energy “fossil fuel” as no fossil ever produced energy yet, and the phrase is an oxymoron.

    Forty years past and his analysis is completely forgotten. His conclusion was that the only technology that would keep pace with world energy demand was nuclear (Thorium fueled). In another book he writes about the collapse of civilization as a harbinger of extinction, in part induced because of the failure to develop nuclear reactors (thorium being the most plentiful and safest).

  3. oldbrew says:

    Well, ‘alternative energy’ is workable – but only because it has grid priority, which screws up nearly all the other forms of power generation both technically and financially.

    Soon enough you end up subsidising everything and having ever more diesel generators on standby as well.
    Which is where we are now, more or less.

    Don’t mention biomass either.

  4. tom0mason says:

    So many people do not know the requirements and limitations of running a 3 phase, fix frequency, synchronized power grid system. It is the grid system as the more important part in a distributed generated power system. Break the grid and the generators are just so much idle plant. Break a generator and you might have a brown-out.

    Also of note is that electricity travelling appreciable distances over a power grid are constrained by the same restrictions as higher frequencies over short <b.transmission lines. Phasing, amplitude, termination impedances, matching, switching times, etc. are all important.
    With lower frequency and timing of 60Hz and 16.667mSec (North American), or 50Hz and 20msec (European, British commonwealth countries) all switching should be synchronized, phased and voltage (amplitude) matched to these time intervals across the whole grid distribution system.

    From the linked article —
    “It is also possible for certain kinds of power plants, particularly hydroelectric and natural gas “peaker plants,” to ramp production up or down quickly. Combined cycle natural gas plants also provide reasonably fast response.”

    In other words using hydro and gas power plant as the system flywheel, smoothing out the unwanted ripples in supply and demand on the grid.
    Were they (hydro and combined cycle natural gas plants) ever designed for this function, and can they be made (modified) to efficiently work this way on a grid system?
    IMO very doubtful.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Tom – Even if they can switch on and off at short notice there’s little or no money in it, so who will bother?

  6. tom0mason says:



  7. Back in 2000, when this madness was in its infancy, I did a study of the various forms of “renewable” energy and realised that in the UK by far the best contender was solar powered hot water. Which was so cost effective that it required no subsidy.

    So, the question was “why are we pushing wind – when it’s not even clear that the net production energy is greater than the manufacturing and installation energy – when solar hot water would REDUCE consumer bills”.

    The answer was simple: the whole scam was solely designed to make money grabbing investors richer – and because solar hot water didn’t need subsidy – there was no way to argue for the massive public money that the scamsters used to line their pockets.

    And I’m really looking forward to the day when someone does finally PUBLISH an analysis of energy costs re benefits of wind – because I’m sure this analysis has been done – and the fact I couldn’t find anything when I looked STRONGLY SUGGESTS the result was not favourable to wind.

    So, based on the absence of any evidence from the wind scamsters telling us that they are net energy producers … it seems likely that wind is a net energy consumer.

    YES! Wind increases the world’s consumption of fossil fuel (a dirty secret that many will try to quietly hide).

  8. dscott says:

    Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity

    Missing the point, in the Socialist model, cronyism is how the economy works. The State steals, er I mean taxes the rich and workers, the cronies being rich steal, er I mean the State mandates the sale their crony’s wares (in this case wind and solar) using subsidies for a discount to the dupes, er I mean the workers who get paid for their labor, and then pay their taxes to support the State and the cronies. The Socialist model in Europe is pretty much the same model/paradigm used by Democrats in the U.S.

    The point dear fellows is to scam the gullible rubes for as much money as possible using the least plausible explanation for as long as possible for the maximum gain. The more plausible the explanation, the less profitable the scam, otherwise it might become economically sustainable. What would be the point in that? Once you understand the elite and know they are merely self serving, self enriching con artists, everything else makes perfect sense.

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    South Australia, the State most reliant on wind energy, was blacked out last night – except for those with generators. A storm was in progress, variously described as the worst in 50 years, the worst since 1953 or 1948, or due to climate change (by the usual suspects). When it is over it may turn out to have not been that exceptional, but the winds were fast enough to shut down the turbines.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable

    Australians are going to be talking about this for weeks. Indeed, the SA Blackout is the stuff of legend.

  11. oldbrew says:

    More on the SA blackout fiasco.

    Date: 05/10/16 Graham Lloyd, The Australian

    ‘And the bulk of damage to high voltage transmission lines that was caused by high winds and paraded as evidence to defend renewables most likely took place after the power had been lost.’

    ‘No explanation was given for the reduction in wind farm output.’
    Here’s one: wind farms don’t work in severe storms – who knew?

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