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Wind and Solar Inflict Pain

January 13, 2017

Actual costs show that wind and solar are more costly than natural gas or coal for generating electricity.

Equally important is that wind and solar create problems for utilities and grid operators.

This is best explained using the Duck curve created by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

CAISO curve showing load during a 24 hour period

CAISO curve showing load during a 24 hour period

The topmost curve shows the load in 2013, when there were few wind and solar installations, while the bottommost curve shows the load supplied by baseload power in 2020.

The shaded area, from morning to evening between the topmost and bottommost curves, represent the power supplied by renewables, which, coincidently represents the power not supplied by baseload power.

Typically, in most areas of the country, baseload power is supplied by natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

The second most important feature of the Duck curve is that it shows how baseload power must be rapidly ramped up when the sun sets, which can severely stress power plant and distribution equipment, causing costly maintenance problems.

Duck Curve showing effect of 80% renewables

Duck Curve showing effect of 80% renewables

The second graph depicts the potential effect on the load curve when wind and solar provide 80% of the electrical load. (Note that the Duck curve uses a suppressed zero on the load axis, so zero load on the left axis is below the elongated red curve.)

When 80% of the daytime load is supplied by wind and solar, only a very small portion of the daytime load is provided by natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

This has important implications.

  1. Since wind and solar are intermittent, and don’t supply electricity when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun stops shining, all the fossil fuel power plants must be available, at a moment’s notice, to supply power that’s no longer being provided by wind and solar.
  2. Fossil fuel power plants can’t be disposed of. They must be kept and maintained, no matter how much wind and solar is on the system.

During the day, essentially from 7 am to 7 pm, the utilities do not receive revenues when wind and solar installations are owned by other entities: Either companies, like YieldCos, or individuals in the case of PV Rooftop solar.

Without revenues, the utilities can’t stay in business. Either utilities must be taken over by the government, using taxpayer money to support them, or the public must pay a capital charge on their electric bills to cover the cost of maintaining the fossil fuel power plants.

The undeniable fact is that wind and solar increase the cost of electricity.

  1. The levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) for wind and solar are 2 to 5 times greater than for natural gas or coal-fired power plants.
  2. The penalty for having to maintain fossil fuel power plants, either by imposing a capital charge on utility bills, or by having the government nationalize the utility system, creates additional costs that tax payers, one way or the other, must pay.

Wind and solar, with their current state of technology, are bad ideas that create problems and force people to pay much more for their electricity.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Part 2, explores the inherent problems with wind and solar.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

* * * * * *


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2017 9:43 am

    In New Jersey, a bill just cleared a committee in which it was said it will-
    ” help bolster installation of solar in New Jersey while at the same time stabilizing electricity costs by reducing congestion on the grid.”
    Looks like the solar warriors have a new PR strategy.

    • January 13, 2017 9:49 am

      Those in favor of wind and solar will do or say anything to get their way.
      I only wish more people would read this article, because it lays bare the fact that wind and solar are detrimental.

  2. January 13, 2017 9:45 pm

    2 years ago I started a joke. You may ask how?
    I decided to launch a 7-megawatt solar panel farm. It was just for testing the idea. If you just look at the World’s Solar GIS Map, then you realize that what and where are the best situation in terms of solar irradiation.
    GHI mode – annual performance 2800 hours- 10.5 KWh/M2
    NDI mode – an annual yield of 3,800 hours- 7.5 KWh/M2
    The above maximum solar irradiation energy is observed in areas located between Chile and Peru. Solargis

    I’m in an area with an annual yield of 1,600 hours, and the irradiation of 4.5 kWh m. I decided to work with an Austrian well- named company. They were willing to finance the entire project with repayments on a 10 year period.
    The cost of electricity generated from this site could not be handled by the network with the proposed and allocated subsidies.
    I continued my small-scale distributed power generation with clean nat-gas high-performance %44 power efficiency including CHP – total thermal 89% efficient in just 400 M2 indoor space.
    What a reasonable price.
    I never get back to even think about this nightmare once again.
    Solar PV is good for remote areas where nothing available. It is good for traffic lights and public roads and highways. It is good for some appliances. In large scales, through existing low-performance panels, I leave it for the next generation.

    • January 14, 2017 8:32 am

      Thanks for your comment. There are many scientific hurdles to overcome before solar is a viable source for baseload power … or even competitively priced electricity.

      • James Burkes permalink
        January 15, 2017 8:00 am

        At the head of the list would be the need for utility-scale electricity storage. Right now lead-acid batteries are the only thing even remotely possible for this scale power storage, and the economic and environmental costs of doing that would be devastating.

        When you get down to basics, it isn’t really a scientific and technological barrier, it is Mother Nature. Even utility-scale storage will eventually deplete after prolonged periods of low solar influx, plus that damned diurnal cycle. Then who are you going to call. Hello, gas man.

  3. January 15, 2017 2:53 pm

    James: Thanks for your comment. Yes, here comes the gas man.


  1. Grid Storage Reality | SMIPP Ltd.
  2. Grid Storage Reality – Power For USA

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