Sunday, August 31, 2014

The sad truth about "renewable" energy

John Hinderaker at Power Line links to an Ed Hoskins post at Watts Up With That dealing with, as Power Line puts it, "Why Renewable Energy is Hopeless?" Hinderaker explains it a little more simply than Hoskins does:
Ed Hoskins spotlights the intractable problem with solar and wind power: much of the time, the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. This means that in practice, solar and wind facilities can produce only a small fraction of their nominal capacities. This chart requires a bit of study; for three countries, the U.S., Germany and the U.K., it contrasts the nominal (“nameplate”) capacity of wind and solar facilities with their actual production of energy:

The chart is pretty damning. Hoskins goes into more detail:
[T]here is a major problem with these renewable energy sources. Their electrical output is not dispatchable. Their output is entirely unable respond to electricity demand as and when needed. Energy is contributed to the grid in a haphazard manner dependent on the weather, and certainly not necessarily when it is required.
(citations omitted)
For example solar power inevitably varies according to the time of day, the state of the weather and also of course radically with the seasons. Essentially solar power might only work effectively in Southern latitudes and it certainly does not do well in Northern Europe. In Germany the massive commitment to solar energy might well provide up to ~20% of country wide demand for a few hours on some fine summer days either side of noon, but at the time of maximum power demand on winter evenings solar energy input is necessarily nil.
(citations omitted)
Electricity generation from wind turbines is equally fickle, as for example in a week in July this year shown above. Similarly an established high pressure zone with little wind over the whole of Northern Europe is a common occurrence in winter months, that is when electricity demand is likely to be at its highest.
Conversely on occasions renewable energy output may be in excess of demand and this has to dumped unproductively. There is still no solution to electrical energy storage on a sufficiently large industrial scale. That is the reason that the word “nominally” is used here in relation to the measured outputs from renewable energy sources.
Overall the renewable energy output from these three major nations that have committed to massive investments in Renewable Energy amounts to a nominal ~31Gigawatts out of a total installed generating capacity of ~570Gigawatts or only ~5.5%.
But even that amount of energy production is not really as useful as one would wish, because of its intermittency and non-dispatchability.
A way to solve this problem might -- might -- be advances in the storage of energy that would allow the storage of electrical power for long periods of time. But such advances are not pending and are not even on the horizon at this point.

In short, as of the present time, there is no way that "renewable" energy will ever give an adequate return on its investment. It will always be expensive, unreliable, and in short supply.

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