A Brutal Example Of Why 100% Renewables Can’t Work

PA Pundits - International

By David Wojick, Ph.D. ~

The brutal cold wave that just struck America provides a stark example of why 100% renewables cannot possibly work. Once the massive high pressure system was in place there was almost no wind, so no significant wind power. And the coldest temperatures by far were at night or early morning, when there was no solar power either.

For example, take the Mid Atlantic region overseen by the PJM regional transmission organization. PJM coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. They also monitor system reliability.

At 8 am on January 31, PJM was in the deep freeze. Total electric power usage was reported to be roughly a whopping 140,000 MW. Of that wind provided just over 1,000 MW (next to nothing) and…

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Cleaning Solar Panels

sunshine hours

To go along with my post on 200,000 liters of water per day to clean solar panels is a drone video of solar panels being cleaned (not the same solar farm).

Those panels are pretty dirty.

Plus an anecdotal experiment video that claims a 17% improvement in output. (But be careful cleaning your own panels. I read that soap is a bad thing)

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200,000 Liters of Water a Day to Keep Solar panels Clean

sunshine hours

When some green cult member complains about water used in fracking read this:

(A lakh  = 100,000)

RAMANATHAPURAM: The world’s largest solar power plant, installed by the Adani Group in 2,500 acres in Kamuthi taluk of Tamil Nadu, is not as green or sustainable as it seems. Local residents claim the 648 MW renewable energy plant is a water guzzler.

It takes as much as 2 lakh litres of good quality water to keep its 25 lakh solar modules clean each day. That water is sourced from borewells 5 km away without permission from the district authorities, the villagers allege.

Near the dried Gundar riverbed on Kamuthi-Mudukulathur road at Kottai Medu, one can find borewells functioning round the clock, filling 6,000-8,000 litre tanks that are attached to tractors.

Around 40 tractors are said to have been contracted by Adani Green Energy (TN) for cleaning the giant solar modules, each…

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Western Europe Power Mix In January


By Paul Homewood

h/t Joe Public

There is a useful site for collecting data on the European power sector, called Energodock:



It gives a variety of data by country. I have used it to analyse generation data across Western Europe for last month. (I have ignored Eastern Europe at this stage).


Some observations:

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California Renewables to Lose PG&E $$$

Bottom Line Up Front:


California continues to serve as a learning laboratory for misguided and futile climate policies.  This time the lesson (for those with eyes to see) is to demonstrate that renewable energy programs are parasites who feast on the financial lifeblood of their host utilities until the cash is gone.

Science Matters

The investigation continues into the origin of the Camp fire, which some say started with a faulty PG&E wire in Pulga, California. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / TNS)

Sammy Roth of LA Times digs deeper than others into the fallout from PG&E’s wildfire-induced bankrupcy. The article published in The Seattle Times is PG&E bankruptcy could undermine utilities’ efforts against climate change. Excerpts below with my bolds.

Solar and wind developers depend on creditworthy utilities to buy electricity from their projects under long-term contracts, but that calculus changes in a world where a 30-year purchase agreement doesn’t guarantee 30 years of payments.

The Golden State has dramatically reduced planet-warming emissions from the electricity sector, largely by requiring utilities to increase their use of solar and wind power and fund energy-efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses. Lawmakers recently set a target of 100 percent climate-friendly electricity by 2045.

But those…

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Isles of Scilly “Smart” Energy Future To Come At Crippling Cost


By Paul Homewood

h/t Chris

This was in the Telegraph a couple of months ago:


Remoteness need not preclude integration into the 21st century, as a case study at the 2018 Hitachi Social Innovation Forum in London today makes clear. The event, hosted by The Telegraph, brings together 350 global business leaders to explore how IoT (internet of things) technologies can transform communities and corporations.

The Isles of Scilly lie in the Atlantic Ocean about 30 miles off Land’s End in the far south west of mainland Britain. Average domestic electricity consumption in the islands is among the highest in the UK. There is no natural gas supply and locals rely on imported fossil fuels and electricity.

So the Isles of Scilly are fertile ground for Hitachi’s £10.8m Smart Energy Islands project, a scheme that is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and a collaboration with UK smart home…

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Can wind and solar replace fossil fuels?

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Richard D. Patton

Statements implying that wind and solar can provide 50% of the power to the grid are not difficult to find on the internet. For example, Andrew Cuomo announced that

“The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030…”

Considering that the wind is erratic, and the solar cells only put out full power 6 hours per day, it seems a remarkable statement. Can intermittent energy actually supply that much power?

For some answers, we turn to Germany, which has some of the highest electric bills in the world as well as a high proportion of its electric power produced by wind and solar (19%). Let’s take a look at German consumption and generation.


As you can see, the power generation (black line), especially after 2011, has been rising, but the power consumption (blue line) has been falling slightly. The red line denotes dispatchable generation, i.e. all power generated except wind and solar. This includes nuclear, fossil, biomass, hydro and geothermal power.

The table below shows what happened more clearly.  [units = billion kwh]

2001 2011 2016
Consumption 520.2 546.2 536.5
Dispatchable 539.1 506.4 496.3
wind+solar 10.6 68.3 116.3
losses+export 29.5 28.5 76.1

Between 2001 and 2011, wind and solar generation rose 57.7 billion kwh. The difference of dispatchable minus consumption fell by 58.7 billion kwh. In this period, solar and wind were displacing dispatchable power. Germany chose to reduce its nuclear fleet in this period, so fossil fuel use (mostly coal) remained strong and Germany’s carbon footprint was not significantly reduced.

In the period from 2011-2016, Germany’s wind and solar generation increased by another 48 billion kwh, but the difference between dispatchable generation and consumption was essentially flat at around 40 billion kwh. Losses+export increased by 47.6 billion kwh to 76.1 billion kwh in 2016. This increase is due to exports of 49 billion kwh to other countries in 2016.

While nuclear power fell 20% from 2011 to 2016, the dispatchable non-fossil fuel (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) portion of power generation remained almost constant, as can be seen on this graph.


This left the German fossil fuel and the intermittent (wind + solar) portion of power generation.


In this period, wind and solar rose from 68 to 116 billion kwh, yet this rise of 48 billion kwh had no effect on the use of fossil fuels to generate power in Germany. During the period of 2011 to 2016, consumption fell by 10 billion kwh. Fossil fuel generation fell by 5 billion kwh, and non-fossil fuel dispatchable generation (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) also fell by 5 billion kwh. The increase in wind and solar (48 billion kwh) had no effect on fossil fuel use.


Stability Problems, an example

To the problems caused by intermittent power, let us examine German power usage on January 7-9, 2016.



This graph begins at start of January 7, which is a Thursday. The load line (black) shows low power usage. The spot price (orange, right-hand scale) is 25€/Mwh. The blue line is the sum of wind and solar power, and the red line is how much power is being exported.

The day starts and the load increases as people head to work. The spot price rises to 42 €/Mwh because the load is increasing. The wind picks up and the wind+solar line rises. It keeps rising throughout the day. As people go home and the work day ends, the spot price plummets to 12 €/Mwh because there are too many producers of electricity. To cushion the system, more power is exported.

The next day, the price rises in the morning but is still low (25€/Mwh) during the day due to high wind output. Around noon (hour 37) the wind power plummets. This is in the middle of the work day on Friday, so the load is high. Wind+solar was producing almost one-half of the power, but within four hours, approximately 15,000 Mw of power are taken out of the system while the system is near peak load. The spot price rises quickly to 47€/Mwh as the wind+solar power falls. The exports of power are reduced to cushion the system.

Notice that the exports move with the wind+solar power (positive correlation) and the spot price moves opposite to wind+solar power (negative correlation). The correlation coefficient of Germany’s wind and solar energy output and the exchanges with other countries in 2016 was r=0.503. The correlation between the spot price and the wind and solar generation is -.411.

Wind+solar underwent a nearly 6-fold increase in power over 30 hours, and the system must accommodate that power. Wind+solar then fell by 50% (25% of the load) in 4 hours. Exporting some of that power out of the system helps stabilize it. The spot price movements attract or repel other power producers to balance the system and prevent blackouts.

Despite these efforts, Germany is now plagued by blackouts. According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.

After all of this effort, including patience are the part of the public in accepting these continual blackouts, Germany’s carbon footprint has barely budged. The CO2 emissions from coal and coke have only fallen 2% between 2011 and 2016, due to decreased consumption of electricity. The extra 48 billion kwh produced from wind and solar plants built between 2011 and 2016 was balanced by exports of 49 billion kwh in 2016. In terms of reducing Germany’s carbon footprint, the entire effort is a failure.

Apparently, there is a limit to how much intermittent power a grid can use before it becomes unstable. German wind and solar use maxed out in 2011 at around 68 billion kwh, or 12.5% of consumption. Back in the 90’s, engineering textbooks on wind were saying that people used to believe that wind could only supply about 10% of the power to the grid due to stability problems, but further studies showed that it could actually supply 30%. The real-life example of Germany shows that the engineers who said wind could only supply 10% of the power had a point.

It has not been proven that the NY Clean Energy Mandate (or similar mandates elsewhere) can be met by relying on wind and solar power. Given the example of Germany, doubts are in order. As advertised by its politicians, Germany gets 19% of its energy from wind and solar. What they do not say is that it also exports 1/3 of that energy out of country, leaving its carbon footprint unchanged since 2011. Some small countries, notably Denmark, have advertised that they get 50% or more of their energy from sun and wind. What they really mean is that they have a large country (in the case of Denmark, Germany) next to them absorbing that power and selling them power when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down. Because it is a small country selling into a big market, its energy sales do not disturb the grid stability of the bigger market. It is a much different case when the larger country (Germany) tries it. Germany’s attempt, the Energiewende (energy transition), is widely judged to have been a failure. If New York goes down that path, it is not likely to do much better.


Andrew Cuomo 50% announcement



Data for graphs were sourced from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Unfortunately, this is a beta site, but there was no other link to international data.

The EIA website has generation and consumption figures for every country for the years 1980-2016.

The link for German electricity generation (including different sources – wind, fossil fuel, etc.) is:


The link for German electricity consumption is:


The correlation coefficients were calculated from hourly European data compiled by P. F. Bach. He did those same calculations and sent them to me in a personal communication; the numbers matched. Here is the download link to his website.


He got the data from Entso-e, a platform showing power genraton, consumption and transmission in Europe. Its website is here, and registration is free:


The power outages data are from no tricks zone. Pierre Gosslin, who runs it, usually has interesting facts about Germany. Here is the link to that:


The links to German TV from that article do not work.

Also, from no tricks zone, a report form ARD TV in Germany.


The link from that article to ARD TV is available below


My German is very poor, but the show said 473/day or 172,645/year. Also, the show linked the stability problems to storms and wind power. In other words, wind power was specifically called out for Germany’s stability problems.

Renewables Aren’t Making Much Headway

sunshine hours

World consumption of primary energy 2017

And don’t forget: Wood and wood products accounted for almost half (45 %) of the EU’s gross inland energy consumption of renewables in 2016.

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Germany’s Green Transition has Hit a Brick Wall

Sierra Foothill Commentary

Guest Blogger at Watts Up With That

Even worse, its growing problems with wind and solar spell trouble all over the globe.

Editor: As the Progressive Democrats force California to depend on Green Power their mistaken environmental dreams will hit the same wall that is described in this post.

Oddvar Lundseng, Hans Johnsen and Stein Bergsmark

More people are finally beginning to realize that supplying the world with sufficient, stable energy solely from sun and wind power will be impossible.

Germany took on that challenge, to show the world how to build a society based entirely on “green, renewable” energy. It has now hit a brick wall. Despite huge investments in wind, solar and biofuel energy production capacity, Germany has not reduced CO2 emissions over the last ten years. However, during the same period, its electricity prices have risen dramatically, significantly impacting factories, employment and poor families.

Germany has installed…

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Powering the Tesla Gigafactory

Reblogged from Euan Mearns’ Energy Matters:

Tesla has repeatedly claimed in publications, articles and tweets from Elon Musk that its Reno, Nevada Gigafactory will be powered 100% by renewables.  Specifics on exactly how Tesla plans to do this are sparse, but the data that are available suggest that Tesla’s 70MW rooftop solar array won’t come close to supplying the Gigafactory’s needs and that the other options that Tesla is now or has been considering (more solar, possibly wind, battery storage) will not bridge the gap. As a result the Gigafactory will probably end up obtaining most of its electricity from the Nevada grid, 75% of which is presently generated by fossil fuels.

Lest there be any doubt about Tesla’s claim that the Gigafactory will be powered with 100% renewables, here are some tweets from Mr Musk:

July 27, 2016: Should mention that Gigafactory will be fully powered by clean energy when complete

June 8, 2018: Gigafactory should be on 100% renewable energy (primarily solar with some wind) by next year. Rollout of solar has already begun

August 25, 2018: Tesla’s Gigafactory will be 100% renewable powered (by Tesla Solar) by end of next year

Plus this excerpt from the January 2016 Gigafactory tour handout:

(The Gigafactory) is an all-electric factory with no fossil fuels (natural gas or petroleum) directly consumed. We will be using 100% sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations.

Plus this one from Tesla’s “press kit”:

The Gigafactory is designed to be a net-zero energy factory upon completion. It will not consume any fossil fuels – there is no natural gas piped to the site nor are there permanent diesel generators being used to provide power … The entire roof of the Gigafactory will be covered in solar array, and installation is already underway. Power not consumed during the day will be stored via Tesla Powerpacks for use when needed.

According to Mr. Musk’s latest (August 25th) tweet the Gigafactory will be 100% renewable-powered by the end of next year, and it’s likely that the only renewable energy Tesla will be generating by the end of next year will come from its 70 MW rooftop solar array, which is currently a work in progress (Figure 1). So we will look at the rooftop array first.

Figure 1: Gigafactory as of November 30, 2018, with solar panels covering approximately 10% of the roof

To obtain an estimate of what the output from the 70 MW rooftop array might be I went again to Sunny Portal and downloaded the data from four operating solar arrays in Reno. The results are summarized in Figure 2. Capacity factors range from ~8% in January to ~27% in July with an annual mean of 18.6%. The summer/winter range is larger than might be expected for the latitude (39N) because Reno is more cloudy in the winter than in the summer:

Figure 2: Capacity factors of four solar PV arrays in Reno. The black line is the mean capacity factor when all four stations were operating

With an annual capacity factor of 18.6% Tesla’s 70MW rooftop array would generate 113 GWh/year at an average power output of 13MW. But what is Tesla’s capacity factor likely to be? This is an interesting question. As shown in Figure 3 Tesla’s panels are angled in opposing directions, with one line facing east and the next west. This will tend to flatten out daily generation but will also result in less total generation than would be achieved if all the panels were pointed in the optimum direction (about 30 degrees from the horizontal facing south at this latitude):

Figure 3: View of Tesla’s solar panels facing (I believe) east

On the other hand, mechanical devices attached to the panels suggest that they may be single-axis trackers (Figure 4). If so this will significantly increase the capacity factor:

Figure 4: Blowup of part of Figure 3

The panels will also presumably be the last word in efficiency and will, one hopes, be properly maintained.

Making allowance for these factors, and feeling generous, I have assumed a capacity factor of 25%. At this level Tesla’s 70MW of panels will generate 166 GWh/year at an average power output of 17.5 MW.

The question now becomes, how much energy will the Gigafactory consume? I have found two estimates:

A battery factory of that size is estimated to consume 100 megawatts (MW) of power at peak capacity or 2,400MWh per day, according to Navigant Research.

If the Gigafactory produces 105 GWh of cells and 150 GWh of packs per year*, then the factory would consume between 38 and 109 MW, or between 333 and 958 GWh per year .

* This is Tesla’s planned total capacity as of August 2018.

The 109 MW high and 38 MW low estimates reflect uncertainties regarding how energy-efficient Tesla’s manufacturing processes will be, but for the purposes of this review I am assuming that the final number will be somewhere between these two widely-separated estimates.

Another consideration is that Tesla has already recognized that its 70MW rooftop array will not generate enough electricity to power the Gigafactory. As noted above the average annual power delivery from the rooftop array will be 17.5 MW, less than half the 38MW minimum requirement. Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel , acknowledged that the rooftop array was too small in a recent speech at the University of Nevada:

… the most visible thing we are doing is covering the entire site with solar power. The whole roof of the Gigafactory was designed from the beginning with solar in mind …. But that’s not enough solar, though. So we have also gone to the surrounding hillsides that we can’t use for other functions and we’re adding solar to those.

How much solar will Tesla have to add? To support 38 MW of power at a 25% capacity factor it will need approximately 150 MW of solar PV capacity (i.e. add 80 MW) and to support 109 MW approximately 440 MW (i.e. add 370 MW).

As always, however, the problem is that solar will not supply continuous power to the plant. Daytime solar generation will have to be stored for re-use at night, but this doesn’t require that much storage. What does is storing summer surplus generation for re-use in the winter. Figure 5 shows two plots that compare monthly solar generation with Gigafactory demand for the 38 MW and 109 M cases. Solar output is a smoothed curve based on Figure 2 data and is adjusted so that total annual solar generation matches annual Gigafactory demand, which is assumed to be constant:

Figure 5: Solar surpluses and deficits, 38 MW and 109 MW cases

How much storage will be required to smooth out these surpluses and deficits so as to fill Gigafactory requirements year-round? I’m not going to attempt to estimate costs because I don’t know how much Tesla would charge itself for its own batteries, but expressed in terms of the time necessary to manufacture them this is what we get:

* To achieve constant delivery of 38 MW of power Tesla would need approximately 50 GWh of storage, or 4 months of Gigafactory storage battery production. (It’s not clear how much of Tesla’s production will be storage batteries, but I have assumed 150 GWh/year).

* To achieve constant delivery of 109 MW of power Tesla would need approximately 140 GWh of storage, or over eleven months of Gigafactory storage battery production

I somehow don’t see Tesla sacrificing months of battery pack sales to back up its solar arrays.

The remaining question is how much wind and geothermal might contribute. Nevada is not very windy, and as a result the state has only 150 MW of installed wind capacity (compared to 20,000 MW in the UK, which covers about the same land area). Tesla publishes artistic renditions showing a wind farm off to the side of the Gigafactory (Figure 6) but has not announced any plans to build it. There’s also no guarantee that adding intermittent wind to solar would lower storage requirements. It might even increase them.

Figure 6:Tesla rendition of completed Gigafactory, wind turbines to the right

Which leaves geothermal. Nevada is comparatively rich in geothermal resources, although geothermal makes up only a small part of the state’s installed capacity (750MW according to the EIA). Yet steady geothermal baseload power is just what the Gigafactory needs, and it’s curious that Tesla is going for solar instead. What are the reasons for this?

One is that Tesla has apparently chosen not to use the approach used by other companies that claim to have gone 100% renewable, which is to purchase enough power from a distant renewable plant to cover their annual electricity consumption through Guarantees Of Origin or Renewable Energy Certificates and pretend that this makes them 100% renewable even though they continue to depend on fossil fuel power from the local grid. Apple and Google, discussed in this 2017 post, are examples. Instead, Tesla evidently plans to supply all of the Gigafactory’s electricity needs from its own dedicated plants in the near vicinity. And since there have been no reports of a geothermal resource at or near the Gigafactory I have to assume that there isn’t one, meaning that geothermal is out.

But why should Tesla adopt this approach? I venture to suggest that it’s because Elon Musk sincerely believes that his batteries can handle any problems posed by intermittent generation from the Gigafactory’s solar arrays. In fact, he seems to believe that his batteries can transition the world to renewables all by themselves. As he told Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2016 National Geographic documentary “Before the Flood”

“We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy… and you’d need 100 gigafactories”.

It would probably be a good idea for Mr. Musk to confirm that he can keep the lights on at Gigafactory #1 before he starts work on Gigafactory #2.

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