New Renewable Energy Projects Are Overwhelming US Grids

It’s been clear for a long time that the world has to move away from fossil energy sources. Decades ago, this seemed impractical, when renewable energy was hugely expensive, and we were yet to see much impact on the ground from climate change. Meanwhile, prices for solar and wind installations have come down immensely, which helps a lot.

However, there’s a new problem. Power grids across the US simply can’t keep up with the rapid pace of new renewable installations. It’s a frustrating issue, but not an insurmountable one.

Slow Your Rollout

Hooking up a megawatt-scale solar project to the grid is no mean feat. It requires careful analysis by power engineers to ensure the infrastructure in place is ready to cope with the power. Credit: Department of Interior, CC-BY-SA-2.0

Despite much political furore and handwringing, the marketplace is getting on with business when it comes to renewable energy. The simple fact is that solar and wind power is now as cheap or cheaper than coal, once the benchmark for cost-effective electrical generation. Where there’s money to be made, companies will rush in.

However, new renewable energy installations are running into roadblocks across the nation. In Kentucky and Virginia, a 3,000 acre solar project is facing years of delays. Plans for multiple wind farms in the midwest have been scrapped entirely. In many of these cases, the problem lies at the connection between these projects and the wider energy grid. At the end of 2021, over 8,100 energy projects in the US were stuck waiting for official approvals for their grid connection. Without this, the project simply can’t generate energy and sell it on the market, making the whole exercise moot.

Part of the problem is the sheer number of projects going on in this space. The process, referred to as interconnection, requires careful consideration by engineers and authorities running the power grids. Historically, authorities were easily able to handle the trickle of gas or coal projects that would come along. There are now so many projects ongoing that some grid authorities have had to halt applications so they can work through a backlog they already have built up. On average, it’s now taking new renewable projects four years to get approval for grid hookup. That’s twice as long as it took a decade ago. Even if a project gets a grid hookup approved, it can run into further issues. Many power grids simply weren’t design to handle the influx of power from multiple renewable energy sources. Necessary upgrades to transmission lines and substations can significantly increase costs.

Wind and solar farms can generate huge amounts of power at low cost. However, their variable output can make them more difficult to manage. Grid-scale storage helps, but it’s challenging and expensive in many cases. Credit:, public domain

These issues are stopping many projects in their tracks. According to new research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, fewer than 20% of solar and wind projects are making it through the queue for grid interconnection. Along with supply chain issues, these hurdles led to a drop in solar, wind, and battery installations in the US, which shrank 16% in 2022.

The issue has led to an incentive to game the system, to an extent. One company may submit a bunch of energy project proposals, while hoping that another developer gets a project off the ground first. When that developer pays the bill for infrastructure upgrades, they’ll go ahead and pursue any projects that can piggyback off that, while cancelling others. The way around this is for grid operators to invest in transmission line upgrades themselves. It’s not common, but Texas has seen a burgeoning wind industry develop thanks to this wise decision.

Other countries have faced unique issues in this area, too. In hot and sunny Australia, for example, solar power has overwhelmed local grids in some cases. Home solar installations have become highly popular, particularly in wealthy areas where homeowners can absorb the initial upfront costs. These systems can feed excess energy back into the grid, netting their owners a payment for their contribution. However, residential suburbs are often served by substations and infrastructure that was never designed for this purpose. They can’t always handle the large outflows of electricity from home solar generation. In the short term, this has necessitated blackouts and shutdowns on hot, sunny days. In the long term, new regulations are mandating remote control of home solar generation to avoid grid operators having to take entire suburbs offline.

Often, hooking a renewable energy project up to a grid requires upgrades to transmission lines and substations to handle the power. Credit: Patrick Finnegan, CC-BY-2.0

Stability is also an issue. Operators have to carefully manage the amount of power flowing into the grid. If too much power is fed into the grid, or too little, the grid frequency shifts too high or too low. This can force big generators offline and cause sudden power cuts that are highly undesirable. Managing power from sources like wind and solar is difficult, as they are highly variable over time.

A bright or windy day can rapidly increase the amount of power flowing into the grid. At the same time, fossil fuel sources like baseload coal stations typically have a minimum power level at which they can run. Authorities need to keep the baseload stations on at all times to maintain stability. Thus, any excess power from renewable sources must be shed. Systems that allow storage of excess power can help, or in extreme cases, solar sources can be remotely shut down.

In the US, at least, the issues for now are primarily administrative. With some streamlining of paperwork, and additional power engineers to run assessments, many of these problems can be solved. However, there’s no getting around the fact that power grids will require investment to handle the large number of renewable projcets waiting in the wings. If a carbon-free future is on the cards, it’s going to cost some money to build the grid to handle it.

239 thoughts on “New Renewable Energy Projects Are Overwhelming US Grids

      1. Another issue is that renewable generators lack “inertia”. Even wind turbines are now putting out power through an inverter to keep sync with the grid and not drop out constantly.

        When conventional generators are replaced with renewable generators on the larger grid, the entire system becomes very unstable, because the conventional generators were also big flywheels that kept the grid stable on a second-to-minutes time scale.

        The issue has gone so bad that some countries are now installing literal flywheels on the grid to keep it working.

        1. This!

          Germany shutting the last of its nuke stations down at the weekend. Replacing their (stable) energy with… fossil fuels. Environment FTW. Proudly claiming they had enough excess energy to supply France over the summer when their nukes were down. They forgot to mention the EU requirement that 70% of your generation must be available for export. Guess what? Germany was importing from Sweden, exporting to France.

          1. Germany is a curious place – it can be a net exporter while suffering from power shortfalls, because it cycles its power through other countries in the lack of adequate infrastructure within the country.

          2. Not just Germany, the whole European energy market is a curious place. It’s good that indeed it works, but you could almost see it as a sticking plaster on top of poorly managed infrastructure.

            Take Sweden, in the north with relatively little energy use they have hydro and generally a large excess of energy. The south had 10 (?) reactors online until the last few years so was self sufficient and able to export with no issues. Then somebody decided to force the closure of many of these creating a deficit that was somewhat managed by renewables and a (reserve) oil fired plant. Except the reserve oil fired plant was running at full pelt in the summer to… send energy to Germany for pretty penny (so Germany could support France). Cue southern Swedes then having to pay the same market price. Meanwhile the north was doing just fine, but the transmission line from north-south is woefully underspecced so the north couldn’t offer much support to the south.

            The left politicians shout that we have no energy deficit pointing that we are exporting (so no need for nuclear yay), which is in itself true, but we aren’t an energy-island so when another European country has a deficit then so do we… Alternatively if there was no deficit, why were spot prices 10x higher than usual last summer/autumn?

          3. > if there was no deficit

            It’s technically true that there was no deficit – because the grid always has to balance supply with demand. There’s always exactly as much electricity as needed – it’s just that the need is suppressed by the price.

            Some of the people I’ve talked with, generally green and on the left of the political spectrum, genuinely believe that electricity should be expensive so people wouldn’t use it as much – that it should be normal that you can’t always get power out of the socket. That’s just normalizing a fault because you refuse to admit that you have no solutions to offer. Though on a more sinister note, it would make the poor more dependent on wealth redistribution and political parties that offer such policies. After all, the basic idea is to show that the “capitalist system” is fundamentally flawed by sabotaging its workings and making it unpleasant enough for the common people, to make them want something else.

        2. Another issue with the loss of synchronous plant is reactive power / voltage control. The big plants used to look after that pretty well too. There has been talk of using the leftover turbine and generator as a synchronous condenser when the station closes. This would also add inertia. The problem with this however is that the land is too valuable for redevelopment to make it attractive to the developer

        3. inverters are capable of simulating “inertia”, it just isn’t widely deployed yet on the kinds of small inverters used for rooftop solar. hawaii already requires a limited form of this – pv inverters are required to adjust their power factor and phase angle to resist frequency and voltage changes within a fairly narrow range. hopefully a more sophisticated version of this will be required in more places in the near future.

          1. They don’t store enough energy to do that in meaningful amounts, and they generally can’t accept power flow in the opposite direction which is what turbine generators do (they speed up).

            You need a small bank of batteries at each inverter to have the buffer, but the economics and the incentives aren’t there yet.

          2. And on the note of batteries, there’s a technical problem with power density and transient response. A small bank of batteries can’t handle the transient load, and a large bank of batteries is expensive and inefficient for the purpose. Ultra-capacitors would do the trick, but the energy density and the price isn’t there, and they tend to be rather explosive on a fault.

          3. A little smarts in those places makes sense, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s easy enough to make flywheels for very short term stability, so long as you incentivize someone to do it. There’s no need for it to be part of some coal plant’s turbine. Separate farms of batteries with inverters are for slightly longer duration stuff, ideally.

        4. Good point on making electricity expensive in your downstream comment, with all of the redistribution implications.

          On the other hand, I’ll soom be upgrading my 1200 watt (4 panel) installation with 8 more. They are on order, so to speak, as I have a contractior installing a ground mount system. I did the initial install myself.

        1. It won’t do much for central banking.

          But potentially, it could take the printing presses and money tracking away from government. Which would be the best possible outcome.

        2. Hah! If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, it’s almost as bad as the monetary system of an unstable country. Everyone might have to agree to the rules to play the game, but a game where it seems like only a lucky few get richer, mostly those with capital to burn, doesn’t sound very equal to me. And efficiency? It takes a lot more resources to complete a transaction than with various electronic transfers we already have that are based on trust.
          There’s ways to change the limiting factor for these kinds of system, but switching is a pain. But at least that way if something’s being wasted at least it’s not a direct waste of electricity – the whole point of proof of work is that you can prove that you did the work – you spent enough capital and energy either alone or in a group that you were awarded the single prize. It’s a competition; you don’t have to be the person who spent the absolute most effort but you do have to work for it. And in order for that type of system to stabilize, it will ALWAYS grow until its costs are just far enough below the benefits for a profit to be gained. Otherwise, someone else would join the competition. The cost might be a limit in how much of the necessary hardware you can acquire, or it might be the operating cost – electricity. So no matter what, for that type of system you either burn most of your revenue worth of electricity, or you keep consuming hardware, which is not really good either. So what if you use solar for it? At least you’re consuming green power, but you’re doing it for something that only produces money without producing anything else of value.

    1. @Lewin Day said: “It’s been clear for a long time that the world has to move away from fossil energy sources.”

      It’s been clear for a long time that the politically-driven additional capacity of unreliable intermittent sources like wind and solar will never be easy to efficiently incorporate in the national grid. But all the unreliable projects went forward anyway, and now we have the mess you describe so well in your article here.

      One way to smooth out the adoption of these low quality new sources of energy, is to design-in local energy storage from the beginning. For example, using intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar in California to pump-up water reservoirs during peak-production. The vast amount of stored water has the potential to generate energy when it is most needed, and storing more water in drought-ridden California when it is available, is a very good idea as well.

      Energy storage is a simple idea that is relatively quick and cost effective to implement in mountainous California, but you never hear it discussed. This is because solving the problem of never-ending energy and water shortages does not fit the political strategy of the leadership in California. Never let a crisis go to waste.

      1. Uh no. Solar and wind are reliable from a engineering perspective. It’s predictable within a range, electricity can be stored, it can be shed or sold to other states if there’s too much to store.

        The problem is electrification in general is a big lift. It requires a massive build out of the grid which would typically be public investment. Instead states and power companies have gotten used to avoiding tax increase and letting the utilities pass costs on to retail customers.

        Pay as you go makes perfect sense in general, but with a massive need to electrify energy production and consumption in relatively short order you really need the government / taxpayers to make that big lift.

        1. I’ve worked in the renewables space. The simple fact of the matter is, that while they have a range of outputs that’s somewhat reliable, that range is from negative to positive, about -10 to 80% of the nameplate rated output.

          Then you have the fact that the worlds production of lithium could not handle enough storage to store enough energy to shift the seasonal energy demands of new york state. As in, the amount that needs to be rotated out every year as they wear out.

          Then add to that the simple fact that solar energy cannot support the population density of the urban world without massive engineering projects to shift massive amounts of power long distances.

          Oh, then you have to add the subcycle flicker of solar, which drastically shortens the lifespan of connected equipment, in that grids where solar is a majority have measured central air conditioner having their lifespan decreased to about 8 years, rather than the 12-20 years that would be expected. More delicate equipment, such as computers, refrigerators, microwaves, etc see worse hits to their lifespans.

          So yes, solar and wind are reliable, but they’re reliably not good for anything other than a mix in to a viable energy mix

          1. … solar energy cannot support the population density of the urban world without massive engineering projects to shift massive amounts of power long distances.

            That is exactly the case for the old power system. It was a massive engineering project, driven and substantially funded by governments.
            We have simply forgotten, and forgotten how to get on with doing it.
            A CO2 neutral future, means generating 3x-5x as much electricity as we do presently. It’s going to be a massive engineering undertaking. Some estimates put it at ~20% of total economic output for 3 decades.
            Meanwhile, “hi-tech” is currently meaning Google Ads, Facebook, farting about with ChatGPT.

          2. > It was a massive engineering project

            Yes, and it was developed and built over the span of some 100 years, and now we have it. Whereas the ADDITIONAL infrastructure needed for renewable power, we don’t.

          3. Yeah except everything uses an inverter now and it would be silly to by a non inverter AC, refrigerator, microwave etc…

            And since you are doing the round trip AC to DC back to AC ….. you’ve mitigated any issues solar inverters may be introducing.

          4. >you’ve mitigated any issues solar inverters may be introducing.

            The PFC circuitry and the primary rectifier in the input side of your inverter-driven appliances is what breaks from poor quality power on the line. It stresses the insulation on coils and capacitors, and causes power losses and heating in the components that try to filter out such noise.

            Plus, on some very cheap equipment like LED lightbulbs, they simply don’t have such filtering, so the bulb that was supposed to run for 25 years has to be replaced yearly.

        2. > Solar and wind are reliable from a engineering perspective.

          One year from now on April 21, 2024 can a Solar/Wind power plant guarantee they will be able to produce X watts of power? Are they willing to sign an agreement with Financial Penalties for failure to meet that guarantee? A Nuclear, Coal, Hydro, Oil plant would be willing. I’ll consider them reliable for whatever X is.

      2. “Low quality” is such a bogus subjective claim. You could also call coal power “low quality” when you deliberately choose your metrics. It can’t adapt to quickly changing load conditions! It can’t handle periods of low load and you have to incentivize customers to use more power when industrial users are offline! Then you’ve got all the major environmental criticisms. But hey, renewable energy can be intermittent so it’ll never be a valid replacement.

        South Australia’s solar situation is instructive – they keep reaching new peaks of renewable energy generation and every time the same comments come out about how “they’ll never be able to supply all our energy needs, so we shouldn’t bother using it at all”… only for the record to be broken again soon after.

        Just because solving the energy transition isn’t “easy” doesn’t mean it is insurmountable or not absolutely necessary. There will be constant setbacks along the way but the only people claiming that it should be abandoned are the ones profiting from the status quo.

        1. >they keep reaching new peaks of renewable energy generation and every time the same comments come out about

          The thing is, building more renewable power when you’ve already got too much peak output on the grid won’t magically shift the production to other hours of the day – it just adds to the peaks which you already can’t use. That’s why you can have too much and too little at the same time, and that’s why you’ll break the grid entirely before you can build enough generators to meet all your energy needs.

          1. But if the power companies were in charge of both the coal and renewable energy systems then they can choose when to throttle back the coal plant, or sell it to another power company in another State or Country, or bring it back online for your own consumers when night time comes or a storm is taking out the renewable stuff.

          2. >they can choose when to throttle back the coal plant

            That works up to the point that the peak production exceeds the demand in the system for the moment. This point is reached when the system is producing something around 10% solar or 20% wind power in total (up to 40% for off-shore wind). In other words, you can only supply a fraction of your energy needs before you run into problems controlling your system – and you’re still stuck with the coal and gas plants to work as adjustable reserve.

            You have to appreciate the fact that solar power works the same for everyone for thousands of miles around, and wind power correlates with itself for up to 600 miles, so everyone you might trade with are likely to be suffering the same problem at the same time. When it’s 9 PM in California, the next place that has solar power available is Australia, Japan, and Russia. Are you going to pull power cables under the Pacific Ocean to get it?

          3. And in a couple decades we may get to the point that peak solar and wind come close to US electricity peak daytime use. For the moment, solar and wind can be incorporated into the mix provided the transmission infrastructure integrates it to the grid.

  1. Well nuclear energy wil solve all our problems, including grid, co2, nox, hair loss and wars in the world. Bla, bla, bla…

    (Just to start the mandatory flame war concerning something with wind or solar energy)

    1. Nuclear is fine technically. As a modern society we do all manner of dangerous industrial processes and manage them. But nuclear is a political dead end. No one, including NIMBY cons, want nuclear power plants or waste near them. So it isn’t with the trouble.

        1. Try to build a new nuclear plant in a new location and see what the support is. There are reasons only authoritarian countries like China are building new reactors.

          I think nuclear power can be done safely and responsibly with adequate oversight. But I know it isn’t welcome in new locations. And solutions to nuclear waste disposal are still MIA.

      1. No problem with a nuclear plant in my vicinity – in fact where I work we are in the ‘fallout’ zone with specific instructions in case something happens. Doesn’t bother me one bit.

        Fortunately the new Swedish government are looking to build new reactors. Re-commissioning the recently de-commissioned reactors would be quicker but financially not sensible due to their limited remaining lifespan. What would have been perfect would to have not decommissioned them early, but then, greens & socialists…

      2. I live 15 miles from a nuclear power plant. I support adding more reactors to it. It’s storing all the nuclear waste its ever used. Try again.

        Nuclear is making a comeback.

      1. Yep. No power output, no producer subsidies, no return of investment.

        The main issue with that is the large difference between peak output and average output for wind and solar power, which commonly ranges from about 5:1 to 8:1. That’s also why renewable tech can overwhelm the grid with over-production while still not producing enough power to matter in the grand scheme of things.

      2. Say you were thinking of investing in a cornucopia. Do you think that you could charge the same for a once-weekly buffet as you could for a week of three daily meals? Of course no-one’s going to pay you as much if your schedule is not good for them. So sell however much people will buy, and eventually the price will stabilize at a more realistic number once the cornucopias are balanced out by investments in refrigerators or hogs. (storage or periodic heavy consumers)

        The whole “let me sell my power at noon and get the same amount back at midnight” thing that a bunch of wealthy residential early adopters have enjoyed is only valid if the market hasn’t adjusted, and really shouldn’t be the pass/fail mark for solar. Well, unless it gets so bad that we need to just accept grid failures in order to reduce co2, but I suspect in that case we’ll just burn ourselves to death.

    1. Nope, you can let them sit in the sun disconnected if you like.

      Normally for peak efficiency you have a peak power tracking circuit which (put simply) maximizes the power output by not drawing so much current that the voltage sags too low, since the product of both numbers is the power. Sometimes at smaller scales the unit you buy is also set up to output the right voltages to charge a battery or provide a steady standard DC voltage. Either in that device or in the inverter (which may sometimes be a combined unit meant to connect directly to a solar panel) it’d be fairly easy to imagine them changing very little in order to voluntarily reduce power.

      1. It has the exact same problem: almost all of the money is paid up front to build it, and the returns come in over time, over the limited service life of the generator, so to get the minimum cost of energy you need to run it as much as you can.

        1. That’s not the real reason. It’s because a nuclear unit cannot raise and lower it’s output in the space of minutes like a gas or coal-fired and some hydroelectric units. If you try to muck around with power output in a nuclear reactor, isotopes of zenon build up and “poison” the reaction ie the nuclear reaction slows down or stops.

          1. That’s not how Zenon poisoning works. The Zenon is burned off so long as the reaction doesn’t shut down. Zenon prevents immediate restart, not ramping.

            Most coal plants can’t load follow either. Gas fired steam also can’t. CTs (combustion turbines) and the CT part of combined cycle can.

            When they’ve tried running nukes as load followers (some were designed to. e.g. Diablo Canyon), it wrecked the economics of the plant. Generation went down, maintenance went way up. They just baseloaded them for economics. Dude has the TLDR version right.

          2. Yes it can. Minimum ramping rates for load following operation are a design criteria for Gen II and III plants. Of course nuclear reactors are not the quickest draw in the west, but that’s merely due to the large unit size, which has nothing to do with fission power per se.

          3. >Most coal plants can’t load follow either.

            They can, but changing the output rapidly will introduce thermal stresses in the steam system because it takes time for the temperature to stabilize. All sorts of interesting effects start to happen due to thermal expansion and contraction, such as steam pipes that can start shaking like jackhammers. The plant may be able to operate like that for a while, but it will break sooner than later.

    2. It’s an investment problem. As an individual putting solar panels on your roof or as a grid-scale investor, you’re basically paying up front for 20-30 years of energy (depending on how you want to amortize). Every time you disconnect or deliberately shade the panels, you’re essentially getting less for your money.

      There are several short-term measures to mitigate the issue before thinking about beefing up the grid. In order of increasing cost:
      – shorten the cable: generate the energy close to where it’ll be used. Rather than putting panels in an empty field somewhere, put them on roofs.
      – demand follows supply: make sure you use the energy *when* it’s being generated. Smart appliances can actually check when the best time to crank will be, but especially with solar you (as an individual) can probably make some educated guesses and set timers for things like the washing machine, charging an electric car, running the airco (best if your house has a lot of thermal mass).
      – add storage: you can add a battery (or as mentioned, an electric car is a battery on wheels) to smooth the variability in solar generation throughout the day (though not so much over the entire year, at least not in the temperate zones). There are even places where grid operators pay for batteries in the homes of people with solar panels, because it reduces the peaks of grid load so much.

      All of these measures are actually useful even without renewables, because demand for electricity fluctuates a lot as well.

      1. >set timers for things like the washing machine

        if I set the timer for the washing machine to run at noon, the wet clothes will sit in the machine for hours till I come home and they’ll develop that wet dog smell.

        >charging an electric car

        If I were to own an electric car, it would be with me at work and not at home charging from my panels at noon.

          1. That the solutions on offer fail to appreciate practical realities, and instead offer “let them eat cake” approaches to the issue, because it’s coming from people who are not your typical average working class types.

            In today’s society, the parent(s) got to work and the kids are at school, and there’s nobody home to hang up the laundry in the middle of the day.

          2. If you look at it in terms of who is able to stay at home and adjust their schedules according to renewable power availability, who can afford to add batteries and other equipment, it’s again those at the top end of the social spectrum – while those of lesser income have less control, can’t work from home, and consequently end up paying more for the energy. It’s a rich man’s dream.


  2. it’s really funny because for 30 years we’ve been telling them that hey, renewable energy is rapidly approaching parity with fossil fuel and unlike those it isn’t gonna run out yet they’ve been kicking and screaming and resisting

    and now said fossil fuels now cost a small fortune (ask anyone who heats their homes with furnace oil or gas) and oh whoopsie turns out despite having enough time to have a chikd grow up, have a child of their own and have -those- kids also grow up they still don’t have the grid set up to handle the excess energy.

    i don’t want to hear diddly squat about peak hours either. the grids all across North America (Canada, Mexico, US) are all in desperate need of upgrading. nova scotia for example was left without power for 5-15 days depending on where you live due to a hurricane. i’m not saying power wouldn’t have gone out either way half of the outages could’ve been prevented with a few upgrades and the places that did wouldn’t have had to wait so long to get it back either.

    something something conservative parties in power something.

    1. Yeah, except fossil fuel isn’t running out like they claim. They claimed multiple times that it was, even had dates that it was going to run out, supposedly, and yet they keep finding massive reserves.

      When the “experts” make claims again and again and again yet they never come true, continuing to believe them is neither rational nor smart.

      1. There’s not an infinite supply of fossil fuels. The problem isn’t fully running out either, it’s when it becomes cost prohibitive to extract more. Some of that is probably being helped with technology but there are limits to that as well.

      2. “they” were right given the information available. Oil and gas fracking was a technological change that opened new supply.

        Your logical error is thinking that because we found a way to access a little more one time that it will happen again. There’s absolutely no reason to think that.

        Ever heard of the point of diminishing returns? Squeeze the last bit of lemon a little harder and you will get a few more drops. But it doesn’t work twice.

        1. there is no logical error to “our system is able to be taken out by a non-hurricane level storm and can barely supply power to a province with 300k people, let alone the 1 mil we’ll have in 20-30 years” even before you take renewables into account.

          but please continue to simp for daddy oil.

      3. > Yeah, except fossil fuel isn’t running out like they claim

        Running out is not the main problem with fossil fuels. They are far more costly in dollars and human lives than the sticker price indicates. They would not be cost competitive if not for massive subsidies.

        1. The exact end date for FF is not important; the fact that there is an end date is important. Once we have sucked all the FF out of the Earth, we better be ready with replacements for all the products that incorporate FF. And that is damn near everything.

          1. Not really.
            The bottleneck is not the fossil fuels/hydrocarbons. The bottleneck is energy.
            Nitrogen chemistry, fertilizers? Switch from methane to hydrogen as a feedstock, as the hydrogen is made of the methane anyway. Fuels? Synthetics; Fischer-Tropsch from anything that contains carbon (biomass, waste, coal…). Or electrochemical reduction of CO2. Metals? Hydrogen reduction or electrowinning. Power plants that keep all that running? Fission today, fusion tomorrow.
            We have enough thorium for thousands of years, which should last until fusion reactors get viable. Molten salt reactors can’t melt down. Online removal of fission products keeps their inventory in the molten fuel loop low, counteracting the reactor poisoning and outgassing the xenon, maintaining reactivity margin while mitigating radionuclides release in case of trouble.
            The time for atomic renaissance is grossly overdue.

    2. Why don’t you pay for it, then?

      If you want to see what a grid looks like with large amounts of renewable power and a phase-out of conventional generators, including nuclear power, just look at Germany.

      1. Terrible example as Germany was expecting to use cheap Russian Gas in place of their dirty brown coal and nukes for ages to come – this is a rather more rushed panic fuelled dive towards renewables right now than the plan they had…

          1. While I agree nuclear really should be considered clean power the German ‘Greens’ in power wanted them gone, and consider them dirty… In that context it fits.

        1. They were in deep trouble even before this incident. The Czech Republic and Poland installed phase shifting transformers around 2016 to limit German renewable power from shuttling through their grids to elsewhere, because they were getting overwhelmed with Germany dumping all the power they couldn’t use on the common market.

          The power dumping also caused other producers to lose money, which meant that new power plants weren’t developed because they would not be profitable, so they also built up a chronic lack of new capacity.

          1. To elaborate, Germany solved the “too much power on the grid” problem for renewable power by installing a right-of-way law that says all the renewable power goes on the grid first – so the owners can collect the subsidies for the power they’re “selling” (often at negative prices).

            The greenies tried to claim that the power dumping pushes the average price down and therefore saves money, except it doesn’t. It merely shifts the cost into the surcharges and taxes instead of the retail price, while destroying the market and driving away investments.

          2. That bit isn’t really a German problem – it is rather more an EU wide problem. The EU is and always has been a mess in this sort of fashion, part of what comes from pulling a few wealthy nations that rather get to dictate to all the poorer nations what happens…

          3. So what you’re saying is that the EU is at fault because it allowed Germany to mishandle the situation within its own borders and dump the consequences on its neighbors?

            I say it’s still Germany’s fault for being incompetent and irresponsible, with or without the EU.

          4. Also, what about Denmark? Same solution, same problems as for Germany.

            It’s a small, rather inconsequential country, that managed to build great amounts of renewable power because it could dump all the power on the Nordic AND continental electricity markets at the same time by straddling the transmission network between the two.

          5. I’m saying the EU is at fault as it is the EU that creates the rules and environment inside its borders, which then creates a Europe network that is pretty poorly thought out with the stupidity, NIMBY, and lack of cohesiveness across the board. And Germany being almost the only big power gets to be a tail that wags the dog…

          6. The EU creates rules and regulations, but its the member states’ own responsibility to interpret and implement them into law. It’s not a federation that can or should have the right to interfere with the internal matters of sovereign states.

            That freedom means countries can make some pretty poor choices that reflect on others, but the alternative would be worse.

          7. The big problem is Dude that the countries in the EU are not really free, they have tethered themselves to each other, but neither are they properly unified so the important stuff that should work across the block can be done efficiently. The EU as it stands would be far better off going back to just being a free trade block so the nations within it are more free to do what is best for them or properly integrating so what is done is done effectively and should be good for the whole region.

          8. Yes, I agree, but it still doesn’t shift the blame away from German politicians. Regardless of what the EU was or is doing, Germany should have handled the whole energy transition a lot better.

          9. Point being, the German green transition was broken because large corporations such as Siemens and Vestas saw an opportunity for lobbying and regulatory capture and shifting public money their way. They knew very well it would inevitably break the system, and they knew they’d get paid again to fix it.

            For the part of solar subsidies – a highly dubious move since the average capacity factor of solar PV in Germany is just between 5-11% – the original selling point was to build a domestic industry that manufactures and exports solar panels by artificially generating demand for it. The instant the subsidies were installed, the entire industry off-shored itself to China, which was highly predictable and highly ignored.

    3. Exactly, it’s a classic case of the fossil fuel industry using its own failure to upgrade the grid to continue to slow down the transition to renewable energy. But underneath it all, it’s because hey, the sun and wind are basically freely available to everyone, they’re part of the commons, so they really don’t want to give up what is essentially their monopoly on power.

      1. The “fossil fuel industry”, aka. the power utilities have to pay for the upgrades out of pocket while the renewable industry gets the money and gets to dump electricity on the grid, which causes the selling price for all the other producers to slump and eats their profits – which would be needed for the upgrades.

          1. Private individuals, or rather all the end users of the electricity, are collectively much bigger than the power industry itself. The total we pay for energy is on the order of 5% of GDP.

            Energy is still pretty cheap – for now – and it has to be or else you couldn’t afford all those nice gadgets. Triple the energy prices and inflation starts running at 10%.

        1. No, the fossil fuel industry. If the profits of traditional generators go down, the people will save money on bills, and the government can raise tax rates to invest in the infrastructure. This is the exact reason that taxes exist. Any net savings end up in the hands of the government, not private corporations, which is a win. There is literally no way you can frame maintaining fossil fuel usage as a good thing, and hiding behind psuedo-economic doomsday theories is a cheap tactic.

          1. > the government can raise tax rates to invest in the infrastructure. This is the exact reason that taxes exist.

            I’m afraid it’s the utilities that invest in the network, as they’re the owners of it, not the government. Of course the government can own and operate the grid just the same, but the governments do not want to own the infrastructure, because then they’d have to actually spend the tax money on it.

            Publicly owned infrastructure is a nice thing, but it has one fundamental flaw: it controlled and managed by politicians instead of economists. The profits from using it are private, while the cost is spread over the entire public, so the system tends to expand to become inefficient and unwieldy to manage. It’s classic “tragedy of the commons” at work.

            After a while the costs start to pile up and the whole system needs to be pruned down and rationalized, but the government can’t cut service and they can’t direct the costs to those who are causing them without inducing massive complaints and protests, so the government tosses the hot potato away and privatizes the whole business. Then the “evil capitalists” have to do the dirty work and take them blame for making ends meet again.

          2. Besides, before you ask for the government to take over, please ask them to balance their budget and stop spiraling into further debt. If you don’t, any taxes they raise won’t be going towards the infrastructure but simply to pay the earlier commitments that the government promised without the ability to pay for any of it.

          3. Plus, politicians love to build and abandon.

            Build a hospital to get votes, fine, but then running the hospital uses up tax money which could be used on new projects and more social handouts, tax breaks, etc. which generate votes, so the hospital operating budget gets cut and the service goes down the drain.

            After all, the first priority of any politician or party is to stay in power. The next common priority is making money out of it. Actually managing the society is a third, or fourth priority on the list…

  3. Here in the Netherlands we have a similar problem.
    For some 10+ years energy companies were not even allowed to invest in distribution capacity unless they could prove that the capacity would actually be used on a short term basis. The result was that a lot of extensions of the local electrical distribution net simply did not get built. And now some parts of the net are threatening to get overloaded and solar farms can’t get connected to the net anymore. And on other locations industry that needs a lot of electricity or even residential neighborhoods do not get built because the electrical distribution infrastructure is missing. This became a significant problem a few years ago, and it probably will improve (or it already has) but I don’t follow the news from day to day. It’s much too depressing for me to do so.

    But overall, the electricity net is quite reliable here in Western Europe. Blackouts are very rare and very local, and they are also short in duration.

    1. Based on arcdoom’s comment above, it must be all the Dutch conservatives in power.

      That or he doesn’t know what he speaks of, just woke twit.

      Disclosure: I’m an EE who has worked extensively with European and American utilities on system planning models/datasets.
      Once ‘the boss’ threatened to send a Chinese PhD to Amsterdam if he didn’t fix a bug by the end of the week. I said ‘What can I break to get sent to Amsterdam? Say the word and it’s as good as broken.’ (Even the boss laughed.) They didn’t send me, I had a reputation of occasionally telling the clients the truth.

      Germany had the highest electric rates in Europe, thanks to solar and wind. Old Pooting might have changed that. Tides went out, we see who was swimming naked now.

        1. I have many German relatives. They thought they were paying all that money to buy energy independence. German group think is strong, you don’t want to be the German that breaks the circle jerk.

          I’m not absolutely sure they remain the worst managed grid in Europe, so many contenders.
          They’re more reliable than all the southern European nations, but that’s just expected…Have you even known a Greek/Italian/Spaniard with a job they can’t get fired from? Hard working bunch that! /s

          1. The only reason the German grid can function at this point is because they are interconnected to everyone else – to export and buy power. Otherwise they’d be completely f**ked with their wind and solar power.

          2. All of western Europe is as interconnected as the Eastern American interconnnect.

            They haven’t had separate ‘grids’ in decades. Engineers gonna optimize.

            New transmission is damn near impossible anywhere. All they can do is raise existing lines capacity. NIMBY, BANANNA and EMFphobia (EMF was good punk band).

            When Greenies think they’re alone, they will admit they want humans to use less power, not just emit less CO2. They hate the prospect of fusion or truly good solar. We’d just use it to go electric wheeling in the woods (they’re not wrong, just stupid).

          3. >they will admit they want humans to use less power,

            Well, OTHER humans. There are some hippies who retreat into little huts in the woods (while relying on things like modern medicine to survive), but few actually believe the rest of the humanity can follow them. The most common sentiment is of some kind of managed economy where everyone is given equally small rations to reduce the total consumption to something which is sustainable. Of course there’s nothing that can go wrong with that.

          4. > they will admit they want humans to use less power, not just emit less CO2.

            There are people who read Nietzsche’s description of the possible ends of history and take the version where the point of people is reduced to merely existing, like in one of those large decorative bottles with moss and insects sealed inside a closed ecosystem, and go “That’s a good idea!”.

  4. There are bad problems, and good problems. Examples of good problems are too much money, or too much time, or too much power.

    The good problems are easier to solve. Renewables are by nature easier to start up and shut down. If the grid is unable to accept power from a renewable source, it is much easier to simply throttle it down or turn it off.

    The main consequence is economic. Someone who invested a lot of money in a renewable source will not like having it switched off-line, as it reduces their return on investment. However, this should encourage them to invest more in grid upgrades, or energy storage. These are both good things in the long run.

      1. Trained hummingbirds selectively shading the cells. Because I like the visual.

        I know next to nothing about it in practice, but with all of the optimization tuning I’ve heard about with regards to solar array power conversion, it doesn’t seem like controlled detuning would be a moon shot.

        I recall Dave Jones on EEVBlog once posted a video about his solar system output dipping a detectable amount at certain times and ended up identifying that it was caused by the shadow of a suspended wire/cable that crossed above the array.

          1. Any power that isn’t generated by a solar cell raises its LCOE, potentially to the point that it makes no sense to build the panels in the first place, negating the argument that it’s cheaper than coal or gas.

          2. Dude: Any circuit or device built to ‘detune’ the panel to match load would make it even worse.

            I’ve never seen a credible claim that solar power is cheaper then coal or gas, just solar capacity. See also the classic: ‘How to Lie with Statistics’.
            Also massive inflation of ‘fossil fuel subsidies’. Which, according to some hippies, includes taxes on fossil fuels and business expenses, all subsidies. You have to admire their nerve.

          3. >I’ve never seen a credible claim that solar power is cheaper then coal or gas, just solar capacity.

            I’ve seen it, but the people making the argument take solar energy prices form Saudi-Arabia to argue for building solar power in Stockholm.

    1. >Renewables are by nature easier to start up and shut down.

      Yes, technically, but you have to pay the owners curtailment compensation for power that WASN’T generated, which means you lose the money and you don’t get the energy. UK has this problem due to insufficient export capacity.

    2. “The main consequence is economic”

      Any damage to the economy will reduce people’s lifespans, quality of life and freedom.
      Wealthier countries also have more money to combat real environmental problems.
      If you are saying “it is only money” you basically don’t care about people or the environment.
      But I guess you consider death or destruction a “good problem”.

      Governments chose expensive unreliable energy over cheap and reliable energy. And now people are freezing to death and cannot pay their bills. This is why we cannot have nice things in life.

  5. Grid stability is a big issue. In Australia it got so bad that voltage surges were causing fires. A stable supply is essential. The fluctuations from wind and solar must be backed up with gas plants to take up the slack. (Note grid level storage is still not feasible)

    1. It’s feasible, but generally not economic (capable of running without subsidy).

      Pumped storage is an obvious exception.

      Until night power is more expensive than daytime, solar energy storage solutions _cannot_ be economical. They depend on the price difference.

      1. >It’s feasible, but generally not economic (capable of running without subsidy).

        Aka. not feasible.

        Subsidies aren’t sustainable or justifiable in the long run, unless you want to switch over to planned economies.

          1. Yes it is. It’s just a matter of scale.

            It’s feasible for me to hop around on one leg for one minute – doesn’t make it a feasible mode of commuting to work though.

          2. Feasible: possible to do easily or conveniently.

            Says nothing of profitably or sustainably.

            Pump storage operators could feasibly run their ponds as described. They don’t, but they could. It’s feasible, but insane, buying high and selling low. Someone else would be running it in a month, unless government owned.

            Eventually there could be enough solar to make daytime power cheap and nighttime expensive.
            It’s already that way in the tundra during winter (places like Minnesota). Only fools put solar there, winter days are about 15 minutes long dontyano. I digress.

          3. >They don’t, but they could.

            “All the time you’re saying to yourself, “I could do that, but I won’t”–which is just another way of saying that you can’t.”
            – Richard Feynman

          4. F it, lets just make all words mean ‘long term profitably’. Should reduce confusion.

            It’s feasible to slam your tender bits in the car door. It wouldn’t be THAT difficult or inconvenient. Some self discipline would be required.

            Feynman wasn’t perfect. ‘Can’t’ is not equal to ‘don’t want to’. He’s still right about Sociology not being a science.

          5. It is not easily done if there isn’t enough battery probuction to do it. Also cost would be astronomical which also wouldn’t be easily done.

            It isn’t feasible. Q.E.D.

          6. Axe: Grid storage _exists_. A few battery installations, but mostly pumped hydro. Not a huge %, but there for decades.

            But it won’t be used to stabilize solar or wind, rather it’s generating during high price times (peak/daytime) and pumping at night. That might reverse in 50 years.

            Battery installations are currently more useful in instantaneous control. Not so much peak shaving as dealing with ugliness of grid control. Fixing power factors, stabilizing frequency on unit failure, load following, that kind of thing. (Used to be/still is) the job of giant combustion turbines. Mostly generating for an hour or two at most, then recharging.

          7. >‘Can’t’ is not equal to ‘don’t want to’.

            Look, you’re saying you could do it, but here’s all the various reasons why you wouldn’t do it, which is saying you can’t do it because of these reasons.

          8. Dude: The difference between ‘don’t want to’ and ‘can’t’ is you can change your mind about ‘don’t want to’.

            e.g. Something more important than money (system stability, which is to say an even bigger pot of money) comes along. The grid operators do whatever is needed to keep power on and let the bean counters work it out after. If fact, that happens all the time.

      2. As it is a public service that is rather essential to all economic activity running to a profit really shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. You get more tax money back if Joe’s garage can actually work every time there is work to do than it costs to provide the basic economic infrastructure…

        But in a pure supply demand market that price difference will happen naturally to some extent anyway as more Solar is online. The more market share it has the bigger the day night swing.

        Also it isn’t just solar anyway, wind power is a great counterpoint and usually if one of the two is underperforming tis because the weather is making the other peak damn hard (though not always, it is still possible to have no wind and little sun). But that coupled with large grids that can ship the power to where it is needed mean you don’t need nearly as much (if any) storage anyway.

          1. Go for it hot sauce: Use the ‘sane sensible technical solution’. Run at a loss. Pay the loss yourself. Nobody stopping you.

            If you want someone else to do it, expect a hearty FU. It’s easy to spend other people’s money.

          2. The problem is, if one unit of energy generates one dollars of economic activity, and you’re forced to pay two dollars for the one unit, then your economy starts winding down.

          3. Point being, profit is only possible if the energy is worth more than the cost to have it in real terms. If it can’t generate a profit, then it is not worth having. No society can operate at a loss over a fundamental resource like energy.

          1. But without tax that funds your society you don’t have the firemen, police, national armed forces, nurses and doctors (at least for places with an NHS equivalent), etc – the bureaucracy is a rather required waste of resources to provide the wider backbone of society that allows a developed and populous nation to exist.

          2. Foldi: As much as possible, functional societies operate as ‘self organizing systems’ such as markets.

            Because bureaucracy is necessary doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be minimized, caged and regularly replaced.

            ‘Power corrupts’ is key flaw of Marxism. Can’t be fixed, junk it, burn it and bury it under a crossroad.

          3. > the bureaucracy is a rather required waste of resources

            Continuous active micro-management of society is not necessary for the operation of public works. Public services can be largely operated as publicly owned corporations that derive their funding from their direct customers rather than from the taxpayers in general, which avoids “socializing the cost” to unrelated and uninvolved people, such as having someone in Seattle pay taxes for the construction of roads in Florida or vice versa.

          1. It is a consumable that goes into producing the goods and services… Of course it costs!

            The difference is being run not as a business that must make money but as a public service you don’t have to pay all that extra money to please the investors or the 6 figure (or more) salary of the CEO with the massive golden handshake when they get caught doing something they shouldn’t and moved on. It simply takes away a large amount of the cost in producing this required resource, and means you can invest huge sums of money in building the infrastructure properly rather than to make the most short term return on the fiscal investment…

          2. Foldi: You know how I know you have no experience working with government spawned non-profits?

            Profits are much less wasteful then politician’s air thief relatives full employment. You’d be amazed how bad they F things up.

            Imagine Ralph Wiggum (Simpsons) running a power company…it’s called TVA.

          3. >all that extra money to please the investors or the 6 figure (or more) salary of the CEO

            Upper management expenses are absolutely minimal relative to the revenue of these businesses. You’re barking up the wrong tree. The profits the company makes are necessary to build up capital for future investments. They simply can’t operate hand-to-mouth – or else the power company would go bankrupt every other year.

          4. The operating profit margin for the energy sector is generally around 30% and the net profit margin after taxes is about 10%.

            While executive compensations are excessive, especially while the utilities are disconnecting some of their poorer customers, the overall situation is that by eliminating private profit and operating the system at cost, you’d save about 10% in your electricity bill – minus the cost of the bureaucracy and mismanagement/corruption of a politically controlled public operation.

          5. Public services don’t have to be politically controlled at all, assuming that all public service must by definition be turned into a corrupt politicians play thing is rather daft. For instance Channel 4 in the UK is public owned, but not under the thumb of whoever happens to be in government. The only government restriction they have is the same one that applies to everything broadcast by all channels no matter who owns them…

            >The profits the company makes are necessary to build up capital for future investments. They simply can’t operate hand-to-mouth – or else the power company would go bankrupt every other year.

            If they are a public service there is no operating hand-to-mouth implied either, and bankrupt doesn’t really apply either – as to bankrupt a public service that is not playing the profit game would mean bankrupting the entire nation… You have a tax derived budget to work to, probably supplemented with what you charge your consumer. And like any ‘public service’ the major works get government sponsorship, which they do anyway even when its not state owned… Except now all these state sponsored projects are not about bumping up the share price, making bigger profits, and meeting the bare minimum required to get all this free taxpayers money – as its a public owned service the goal isn’t to make profit so the investments can all go in the actually sane long term investment routes not the short term clearly unsustainable but profitable ones.

  6. A surplus of energy and a major blight on the landscape. In Washington State we have the big windmills all over the most scenic vistas of the Columbia river and the Eastern Cascades in the exact places where there is surplus hydro (3 cents a kWh). But hydro is not accepted on the list of mandated green sources. Pure genius.

    1. Surplus of power, not energy.

      Renewable power is like a car with a gas pedal that gets stuck on full throttle at times, but most of the time you can’t get up from idle even if you wanted to.

  7. bigger wire,bigger transformers,lotsa grid leveling
    with batteries ,chemical or gravity,water heating
    less hand wringing and greed
    either we do it faster than the other guys or we loose

      1. “Confidence in solution inversely related to knowledge.”
        I like that! But since they believe they know everything I might dumb it down to “Confidence in solution inversely related to Logic and Experience” when I use it ;)

    1. But but the lamp costs pennies, if you dream enough you’ll get a subsidy for your cord. Subsidised by the taxes on more expensive lamps (more expensive thanks to the taxes).

  8. The answer to our shaky grid is distributed energy production, namely rooftop solar on houses and businesses. Sized to meet the needs of the property, so there is little energy going to/from the grid. The grid still has critical roles to play in this new world, storing energy and enabling customers to share it. And as EVs become ubiquitous, they can also store energy and provide it as needed for the owner property.

    1. > Sized to meet the needs of the property

      That’s exactly the problem. If you size the system according to how much power you can use at any time, it won’t produce enough energy to meet your needs. If you size the system to produce enough energy, it will make 5-10x as much power that you can use, which means you have to sell it off and buy it back later.

      > The grid still has critical roles to play in this new world, storing energy

      The grid doesn’t store energy. It has no means – unless you pay extra to build batteries.

      1. I was looking for a comment like Potvinguy‘s.

        I live on a boat full time in the UK with my partner. We have 540W of solar panels and a (second hand) wind turbine with about the same output. Cost: about £1500 with the batteries and MPPT. Why would I care if my panels make extra energy that I don’t use? Granted, winter can be a bit scarce energy wise but I’ve learnt to save as much as possible and heat comes from a wood burner. I admit to burning coal (which is actually 50% olive stones) in winter because I don’t have enough space to store the amount of wood that would give me the same amount of energy. But this is well offset by our ridiculously low energy usage in all other aspects. We even grow our own vegetables on the roof.

        On land it would be even easier. You can grow and store wood for heat. Plenty of ways you can store extra power that you get in summer to use in winter: compressed air, gravity potential, hot water in an underground calorifier…

        We don’t need a grid. We need to stop developing cities like there’s no tomorrow, manufacturing products that don’t last, wrapping individual vegetables in plastic and ship them from the other side of the world, or buy clothes that get worn once. Go back to local production of goods and energy and be realistic about what we consume. We can’t have our cake and eat it but we can make our own cake and eat it. The loss in comfort is nothing compared to the gratification of living a sustainable lifestyle and having the know how to provide for our home.

        Yes, it’s a lot of changes to make, but I and the many other boaters I’m my community are the living proof that it can be done!

        1. Deforestation for heat and cooking in the third world is the living proof that it can’t.

          You burn _coal_ in a _stove_ for heat you pig. If the rest of England was like you, you’d still be getting deadly fogs. How black is your boat near the flue?

          Credit for self righteous Chutzpa. Impressive gonads. To burn biomass you’d have to pay someone to reload your hopper a couple of extra times per winter. You’d still be pigs, but your soot wouldn’t be fossil soot.

          1. Whenever I talk with people who claim to “run their home on solar”, there’s inevitably cords and cords of wood stored in a shed on their property, or big honking propane tanks.

          2. As much of the deforestation is to turn a quick buck slash’n’burn farming whatever the developed world will pay well for… Plus the third world has the other problem that the developed world meddles just enough to be problematic – Save all the children, it is an emotive and sad thing for them to suffer and we can fix it! But think not on what that does to the population and available resources locally when you have just unbalanced their societies established norms (that were probably entirely sustainable if rather more brutal) and all the kids now survive…

            If the concept of something that looks even vaguely like colonisation wasn’t so unpalatable and unworkable the third world could be developed in a much more if not entirely sustainable way – the old world has already made many of the mistakes and found the solutions, but can’t easily rebuild all of its old bones into those solutions. Where starting from a more blank slate and with smaller initial populations it is much easier to skip the 1800’s and 1900’s flaws. Though no doubt find there are some in the new millennium too.

          1. £18.75/h, as a freelance handyman. I can chose to work more or less depending on my needs because I don’t pay rent or have energy bills (we don’t pay for mooring as we cruise continuously and there is a legal framework for that in the uk, we just pay a yearly license).

            But we’re talking about a £1,500 energetic install here, not a 50 grand setup, how much is your electricity bill per year???

          2. @Robin M

            You asked above what vehicle one uses, and state that you use a bicycle.

            Here you claim to cruise continually – how does a boat cruise on a bicycle exactly? Do you pedal-power the propeller or…

          3. >how much is your electricity bill per year???

            Well, it depends on the year, but I generally average around 150-200 kWh per month, maybe 2,500 kWh a year. At present prices it would come to around €500.

            I don’t heat with electricity, I get hot water from a nearby thermal power plant and pay €20 a month for the water service. They burn wood chips and waste paper, mostly, and the flue gases are washed for sulfur and soot emissions.

          4. >But we’re talking about a £1,500 energetic install here

            With 540 Watts installed in a non-optimal orientation and occasional shading, I would expect a year-round capacity factor around 5% of the nominal, so a yearly potential of about 240 kWh total output. Let’s further suppose you throw away half the output that you can’t use, which makes it 120 kWh per year. Divide by let’s say 30 years of service life, and you get 41p per kWh.

            That’s worse than the worst peak price I had during last year’s power crisis.

          5. On a personal note, I would be absolutely cramped to survive on that little electricity. No wonder you have to burn olive pits and coal just to brew tea.

          6. Dude your 41p is still rather lower than the current energy price here, if you take out the government price cap, and actually not much more than the current price cap for domestic users either.

            And you are assuming a rather huge amount of ‘throw away’ – if you live in such a way you adapt your lifestyle a bit so when you have more coming in you do all the things you put off on the excuse of lack of energy… Assuming you are ever actually lacking.

            Oh also there is at least in the UK a standing charge to be connected to the grid – and that is really quite expensive considering what you are paying per unit too – I think on our last bill it was 12p a day and that has gone up… So call it £100 a year or call it £300, really doesn’t matter much it is a pretty damn huge cost over than ’30 year’ lifespan – one that with the low price exporting to the grid gives means I am ever more tempted to invest the little bit more that would be needed to take this house off-grid…

      2. As (in the USA) most houses sit empty during the day, rooftop solar would easily meet the daytime requirements, but when the kids get home from school/daycare and parent(s) come home from work, appliances/entertainment get turned on, the rooftop is no longer receiving maximum solar, or meeting the power requirements. (I.e. duck curve)
        So, locally sourced solar would only reduce transmission costs .

        1. If you know all your use is afternoon-evening point the solar panels in the general direction of the sun at that peak use – you get less overall perhaps, but you get the best performance out of your panels at the time you actually need the energy. However with the scale of most US housing you probably don’t need to worry about that at all, on the tiny European home size roof we usually get enough into the late afternoon to run the house, so on a US roof that is probably 4-5x the area you might as well just fit more panels – they are pretty cheap it is the electrician and fitting that tends to be costly, and that cost won’t change much for an extra 5, 10, 20 panels.

          Though that said just because your home is empty doesn’t mean the daytime power isn’t needed somewhere locally anyway – your local all electric foundry can probably suck back as much as is available at all times with all the cyclic loads that can easily be ramped up when the sun is shining. Might not be doing you the most good, but the local area full of energy consuming business would probably be rather happy (as long as it actually cuts their bills and isn’t just padding the pockets of their energy supplier).

          1. >your local all electric foundry can probably suck back as much as is available at all times

            They probably have a bulk power purchasing agreement for surplus power with the local hydroelectric plant or thermal turbine generator plant for far less money than they’d have to pay for your solar power.

            Unless you want to sell the power at 2-3 cents a kWh.

          2. Even a few pence a KW isn’t a bad thing – you get ‘free’ electric, probably for the rest of your life as these things do last now and a little bit back for all the stuff you didn’t need yourself.

            Plus as the world greens the price of fossil derived power is going to end up increasing, so the high peak load consumers are really going to be shifting their work to whenever the price is lowest – which is when the sun is shining and the wind blows, but even then its not likely to be that 3 pence pittance in the end – too much demand for it to be that cheap. The whole economic framework as fossil fuels are phased out is likely to change quite a bit…

    2. How is an EV going to store energy when you typically use it in the day and charge it at night. Not to mention your solar cells don’t work at night.

      The scenario you propose would be to discarge your EV’s batteries at night snd have no charge in them when you need to use your car.

      1. As lots of employers are putting in charging points as well it probably is plugged in at work too!

        Also you don’t have to have full charge in your EV every morning – most folks daily commute might be needing 10% charge to have enough safety margin to get around the road works etc. So allowing your EV to dump perhaps as little as 5% of its charge potential back to the grid even when it is ‘on charge’ when distributed across thousands or even millions of vehicles is a pretty substantial store of energy. Also likely means the battery lasts longer as keeping it nearly forever topped up to 100% won’t be good for longevity. It is not enough to power a nation overnight entirely in its own right of course, but enough to make a difference.

        1. Foldi: You might want to look up how LiPo batteries degrade. Keeping them near to 100% is the best you can do for them. It’s actually not 100%, but it’s what the charge controller calls 100%, because it knows not to overcharge. Just as 0% isn’t…a 0% LiPo is dead forever (not really, but it has a chance of catching fire that can’t be ignored, so charge controller says HELL NO).

        2. >when distributed across thousands or even millions of vehicles is a pretty substantial store of energy. (..) enough to make a difference.

          Let’s see, 50 kWh per car, 5% of that is 2.5 kWh. Times that by 1 million vehicles is 2.5 GWh. 100 million cars or nearly half the entire vehicle fleet in the US would be 250 GWh. US average grid demand is around 500 GW, so that would last for 30 minutes.

          > LiPo batteries

          Electric car batteries are not LiPo.

  9. Once people lose sight of using renewables to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then all sorts of phony economic analysis breaks out. Just keep this idea (rough quote) in mind “mankind will be the only animal to cause it’s own self destruction because the alternatives were not economically viable” to help keep our mass stupidity in check. Using Caveman Capitalism will destroy us, we need a new system.

      1. ‘Can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.’

        We need to be working or realigning our economy to run on ponies, whale oil and zombie power!

        Like Rob said, a new system.

        Vote Pony party!
        Vote Vermin Supreme!
        Ponies for everyone! (Vermin has promised, absolutely no genocide to make the numbers match, pentagon budget diverted to pony breeding. Some light genocide might occur…also ‘zombie apocalypse’ expected but poorly defined.)
        Mandatory tooth brushing.
        Secret dental police.

        The Pony parties eventual victory is assured. It’s cultural evolution. Just read Vermin’s great work, ‘I Pony’, if you have doubts.

    1. More like: “mankind will be the only animal to cause it’s own self destruction because it chose alternatives which were not economically viable”

      Any damage to the economy will reduce people’s lifespans, quality of life and freedom.
      Wealthier countries also have more money to combat real environmental problems.
      Using Caveman Communism will destroy us, we need a new system.

    2. If it’s not economically viable then somebody goes bankrupt and/or somebody’s without power. Somebody being a nation/nations. That’s when war starts, resulting in depopulation thus less power needed and the economy is reset till the next population explosion/energy/financial crisis.

      1. @Cogibus Rex
        Sorry, this is not the right place to reply but there is not “reply” link on your comment to my comment. Not sure I understand the system…

        Anyway, you got me there. I do not pedal to propel my boat. I am guilty of the heinous crime of cruising 2 to 4 miles on fossil fuel every 2 weeks as required by my continuous cruiser license.

        My goal when I started commenting was initially to highlight that it was possible to generate most of your own energy locally, even on a boat, which provides very little real estate for solar panels and the like. That it is rewarding and that fake problems hinder our ability to be a more sustainable civilisation. It seems to have upset people which is sad. What upsets me is that despite the issue of global warming being raised as early as the first half of the 20th century we are still headed for doom. I am sorry my actions are not perfect. Be assured that most of the life choices I make revolve around being the change I want to see in the world. I buy mostly second hand stuff, turn my fridge off in winter, source local veg, help friends fix broken electronics rather purchase new ones, drag a bike trailer full of tools and materials to work, and everything else that I can think of. I wish I could do more, if anyone has recommendations I will take them but I am done with splitting hair on the topic.

        Over and out.

  10. Nope, you can let them sit in the sun disconnected if you like.

    Normally for peak efficiency you have a peak power tracking circuit which (put simply) maximizes the power output by not drawing so much current that the voltage sags too low, since the product of both numbers is the power. Sometimes at smaller scales the unit you buy is also set up to output the right voltages to charge a battery or provide a steady standard DC voltage. Either in that device or in the inverter (which may sometimes be a combined unit meant to connect directly to a solar panel) it’d be fairly easy to imagine them changing very little in order to voluntarily reduce power.

  11. This article is a bit misleading, and a bit alarmist. Some blame must go to the New York Times article, the first reference cited. In particular, it doesn’t make sense to mix residential and utility projects together, as balancing is a different problem in each case. Also, yes, substations and transmission systems need upgrades. However, here in the US, that is true no matter the power source. The main issue I have, though, is that here in the US renewable power is still a small percentage of power generated. Residential power is also a tiny percentage. My home state of Florida is ranked 3rd in the US for installed solar generation, for example. Solar makes up 5% of our electricity for the state, but that’s including utility solar. Just barely 1% of Florida homes have solar panels on their rooftops, 90,000 homes with solar out of 9.5million houses total in the state. Not exactly mountains of electricity with nowhere to go, as the article seems to imply.

  12. Interesting article and many of the issues have been outlined in the comments. I’m 3rd generation (pun intended) in the utility business and have over thirty years experience. One issue not discussed much is siting and building new transmission lines. There is a major line in Nebraska that they have been trying to build for over 15 years, and that is not uncommon. The second is cost – new transmission lines, and distribution grid upgrades required ffor the new electric future are estimated to cost several trillion dollars. That will all be paid for by the consumer so expect you energy costs to go up. Investor owned utilites won’t fight it becuase they get a 5% to 6% built in return on thier investment – this is the same reason they build wind farms, that and the subsidy.

    1. Ratebase? Where?

      ‘We can make a profit remodeling the executive offices’ is a thing of the past. Power pools are almost everywhere.
      Regulated ROI? Like I said, where is it that backwards? I know Southern Company intended to keep their rate base at home while competing in everybody else’s space. Guess I assumed that was gone by now. Corrupt politics can last longer than expected, see also TVA.

      As to transmission. You’re of course right. Can’t get one approved if you’re buying drinks. Lots of cases the Utility likes it though. PG&E has the SF bay area by the transmission lines. If they didn’t SF would PUD up in second. No point though, the financial sodomy would just move to the transmission. Serves them right, they could build generation in the bay area, as they won’t, they deserve to pay.

    1. Why… its a valid critical viewpoint of most proponents of “green” initiatives. Does someone discussing things rationally make you uncomfortable??? Pretty much everyone else fails to have any critical aspect to their viewpoint to the point of being propaganda which is ironic since Prager U is basically trying to be anti-propaganda itself. That said its also equally culpable itself for presenting a false dichotomy….since the acutal question is Do we use hydrocarbon fuels or not, and the choices are at least , yes via fossil fuels, no stop ASAP, and yes convert to biofuels ASAP… etc… and any mixture of those 3.

      In short if you must be critical of something at least call it out directly rather than just going “oh blah” its Prager U… cause that makes you look closed minded.

    1. Not exactly disinformation, as factually it is pushing towards falsehood but never really exaggerating enough to get there and very much cherry picking only the details they want to talk to about.

      Really they are just making the arguments
      ” ‘I like living my life the way it is*’ and ‘we are rich we can manage the climate problems that will be created*’ while ignoring the longer term issues such a stance creates – wave a magic wand we can fix anything**!”
      doesn’t make it actively false – technically they are correct enough factually in what they say.

      But it is all they deliberately leave out that really speaks to their credibility. ‘Humans need energy to flourish’ – true, HOWEVER humans also need a working ecosystem to produce their food, clean their air, cycle their fresh water. This ‘paltry 1 degree average temperature rise’ really does matter to the natural world that does all this. Which is something that can clearly be seen in the data on any measure you can to look at – species that shouldn’t be in the ocean near the UK at all end up here in ever greater numbers, plants that have been a constant part of the ecology here for far far longer than the industrial little hairless apes are in places dying as they just can’t adapt or evolve this fast, glaciers that are supposed to come back to much the same size every year and feed river systems are shrinking away to nothing, more extreme droughts, rainfall and storm events – the list is practically endless.

      *add ‘and can keep doing it till I die’
      ** add ‘or I’ll be dead so I don’t care’

    2. It’s more like counter propaganda… and you reaction to it is the same as I would have to some green barf propaganda typically (even though I have solar, drive a G1 insight most of the time…)

      The problem I have with this particular link is not that its viewpoint differs from mine but that it presents a false dichotomy… either or… when that is not the only answer, in fact usually the correct answer is some mixture of solutions not any single one.

  13. Couldn’t they just require that any large wind or solar facilities also install battery banks that can provide a certain level of stability?

    You’d also think they would already have a system in place for controlling which power sources are online and which are offline.

    1. They could, but it would mean no new large wind or solar facilities.
      It’s currently a deal breaker, but it’s also currently a non-issue.

      Capacity payments will be increased to keep the standby units online. Because it has to be done. Market necessity. If any area/pool/etc doesn’t, they will ‘serve as an example to others.’

      Any money going to capacity payment will likely come out of power payment. Size of pie (home rates) being largely fixed and regulated.
      Most units get both, unreliable units just get power, standby units get capacity and power when called on, hydro complicated.

  14. If ever a comments section was going to bring out thoughtful and rational debate…

    About time HaD implemented some sort of upvote/downvote system like everyone else so the good ones can rise up, the bad ones can fall off the bottom, and just being first to post doesn’t get you top spot.

  15. So are all of these supposed energy projects getting scrapped and put on hold the reason why I can’t go more than five minutes on the internet without an ad popping up trying to convince me to install solar onto my house? Cuz some startup got red lighted and now they’re trying to sell off all the unneeded panels to try to save as much investment capital from being wasted as they possibly can?

    1. If the costs I saw to put solar on my roof are any indication they can stuff it. I’m not paying $40K plus out of pocket (AFTER INCENTIVES) to put solar on my roof with the promise of a payback in 10 years then savings of another $40K over the life of the panels.

      I know systems better than that, I know there will never be that amount of payback. Not even close.

  16. So, let me get this straight….

    At times the “inexpensive solar and wind” (only inexpensive because of tax breaks BTW) produce more power than the grid can handle. Making their impact on the Carbon Free generation of electricity useless.

    And the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom are pushing us beyond reason to rush to electrify EVERYTHING.

    They didn’t think this out. Their experts didn’t think this out. And in short order we’re all going to be screwed!

    Slow and steady wins the race. We should not be rushing to fix this, we should formulate a plan and execute over time. As long as tax breaks drive this movement the only thing the corporations are looking to do is get those monies. To quote Dick Jones in Robocop “Who cares if it worked?”

    Solar panel farms and wind farms should be using gravity storage or pond storage to store power when the excess is generated. And that needs to be a cost that is factored into the price of the carbon neutral system. We need buffers to make those technologies viable and we need to understand that those buffers are part of the SYSTEM of power generation.

    What’s worked with fossil fuels and even nuclear generation is that we can control the output without worrying about the need for a buffer for that output. Hydroelectric plants are essentially gravity batteries that with a simple turn of a valve can control the output. Wind and solar have no such throttling capability and even if they did it would not be nearly as reliable as the others.

    We can use excess energy to pump water, desalinate water, produce synthetic (and carbon neutral) petroleum products to allow our existing combustion engines to continue to run.

    It’s a force of will that will take decades to complete. But as long as we’re gung ho for jumping to green energy and move forward at breakneck speed we’re going to suffer.

    Build the green projects with local storage so they can provide a known amount of energy at all times they’re available (gravity or water storage, batteries wear out and the amount of carbon generated by mining and creating them offset ANY advantage to their use as a buffering technology).

    Utilize excess power to create the things needed for society (clean water being the easiest thing to do).

    Stop with the BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLES ONLY baloney that’s got the headlines lately. How about Plug in Hybrid vehicles as a step in the right direction (you get me 30 to 50 miles of battery storage AND an engine and I’ll visit the pump 4 to 5 times a year. And I won’t have emptied out my retirement to buy the damned car.

    If you tell a consumer that a car with 30-50 miles of electric only power is backed up by a gas engine and will net them about 60 MPG when it’s in hybrid mode they will buy it. And when they figure out that if they plug it in at home or charge it at work they won’t need to buy gas for weeks at a time watch how quickly the demand for gasoline drops! And when the grid is suffering an issue and using grid power to charge vehicles is unavailable, use gas. Best of both worlds!

    Plug In Hybrids are the equivalent of methadone. It will help us kick the habit!

    1. >They didn’t think this out. Their experts didn’t think this out.

      Oh no the experts have thought this out and for decades be wanting investment in the ancient creaking infrastructure long before renewables started to become reliable, durable and cheap enough to actually really work. And the Politicians, lobbyist and Suits at the top of the energy business generally do know this, but one needs the bribes to stay in power, one takes home a fat pay check for marketing whatever suits and the other is offering the bribe/paycheck because they don’t care about the future just their quarterly profits…

      Also across Europe there really isn’t a huge need to store energy – it is so densely populated and spans time zones that you can share and transmit power across its entirety from where the sun and wind are to where the current demand is relatively easily – it is how the EU grid works already! Though it does need much more work and some extra redundancy would be good. Which along with adding some pumped hydro where you have good geology for it would go a long way.

      So I don’t disagree with you as such, but I don’t think ‘Slow and steady’ can win this race – the green movement has finally gained attention and in doing so snapped to having so much inertia trying to slow it down is not going to work, and Putin’s war has shown just how fast energy dependence on a less than allied power turns sour for you.

      I also don’t think Plug In Hybrids are quite as glorious as you paint them, but they are definitely very valid as an option.

      1. From the standpoint of adoption of technology Plug in Hybrids will get more support than Battery Electric. I drive a hybrid and REALLY wanted a Plug in, but at the time even getting a the hybrid that I needed for my purposes (I tow it behind my motorhome so it had to be a specific type) was exceptionally difficult.

        This is my second hybrid. I get 600 miles between fill ups (13 gallons or less). About 46 MPG for a Ford Escape. My Prius got slightly better, but I can’t tow it 4 wheels down. I would have purchased a Prius prime no question if the car could be towed without a dolly.

        And rushing into what might be a better option will not make it work. Take 20 to 30 years to move us in the right direction and we will get there. Force us to adopt it and like anything in nature you will meet resistance.

        1. Really depends on the who and where, I have nothing against the Plug-in’s, for some they are ideal. Heck I have nothing against the eco-focused pure ICE, as again for some it is the current best option to do their work and be relatively clean. But across the EU (especially the wealthier parts) where chargers are now getting very common and very fast should you need them and the longest travel anybody might routinely need to do is easily in round trip distance for the pure EV (even in many cases the cheaper low range models) the hybrids don’t look like the best option for many folk – carting an expensive and heavy lump of useless iron around and paying extra to do so vs putting in a slightly larger battery and only need domestic electric rates. Also it is quite possible the ICE just sits there so unused it might not even work when you do finally need it, as some of these plug-ins do a pretty large range on battery.

          1. The ICE in a hybrid will start for recharge and various reasons (generating heat for cold mornings). It never just sits there.

            “..carting an expensive and heavy lump of useless iron around…” you’re talking about the battery, right? Batteries discharge but that weight is still there.

            “Slightly larger battery” Put an ICE 3 or 4 cylinder against a Battery with weight and size considered and run them. That battery will drop to useless voltage long before the equivalent amount of energy has been used up in the ICE.

          2. The plug in style frequently won’t use the ICE part at all – as for most of them not using it is the entire point! It is a battery electric for your daily short distance needs, making it very very cheap or even getting paid to charge it up daily travel. It just happens to cart an ICE generator along so it can make use of it and the huge energy density of petrol when the relatively small battery is insufficient.

            Comparing an ICE ENGINE directly to a battery is bonkers – one is the energy store the other the converter from energy store to useful work done! But dumping half a ton of ICE, electronic ancillaries and its fuel tank you barely or never need for an extra bit of battery that bumps your pure electric range up enough to definitely never need the ICE at all…

        2. Hybrids often have all the parts of both kinds of car, which makes costs and failure risks higher. A big battery is expensive, but current cars really don’t get the most range per battery capacity, so there’s room for range improvement without capacity increases. A comfortably sized two-seat economy hatchback ev should need around $8k worth of battery at current prices to go 600 miles, but they’re not optimized to that degree – they’re heavy with a fair amount of drag.

          Maybe if your imagined plug in hybrid were more of a short range EV with a cheap range extender it would be okay, especially if it could act as a generator when parked. And later on, maybe it could use a fuel cell (whether hydrogen or otherwise) for the range extender – or even just an add-on battery pack if prices allow. Of course, for suvs/pickups I can easily see using a hybrid system of whatever sort just to allow them to consume a bit less fuel, because their original purpose prevents reasonably sized batteries from being enough. On the other hand, if we could stop with the mall crawlers that’d be great.

          1. I disagree. I now own 2 hybrids. The first one is at 160K miles and going strong. The Toyota Prius line shows that a reliable hybrid does not suffer from the costs and failures the BEV community insists are there. I’ve replaced tires and brakes. Regular oil changes and that’s it. Look online, you don’t see a class action lawsuit against manufacturers because hybrids don’t deliver. And you won’t. They work well and cut down on our Carbon footprint.

            We know plenty about ICE systems. We know plenty about electrical. The hybrid drive train works exceptionally well. But what you’re missing is that for adoption of a technology you need to ease the public into the concept. Think of the frog in water analogy. Too hot, it jumps right out. Slowly increase the temperature and you got frog soup. Apply that to BEV adoption. Insist and people will resist for valid reasons. Have Plug in Hybrids as a starting point and when the battery technology is better, cheaper, and fully understood the public will adopt those changes where it suits them. But demands on the market are never without resistance and the chances of killing the whole movement increase.

          2. I am not a loyalist of some sort of community nor do I think we shouldn’t have some hybrids for certain purposes. I just think sometimes pure EV or pure ICE makes sense. Thinking of the design decisions that are faced with cars, a lot of people need a wake-up call that their feelings aren’t a good enough reason to wait until 2053 to use electric. On the other hand some people have perfectly legitimate reasons to keep using combustion.

            Regarding chances of problems – no matter the stats, logic still applies: Whatever chance of problems the ICE half or the electric half are assumed to have, the chance of being unable to drive depends on whether the car can operate with only one half working, but you still have to maintain both systems and not everyone wants to do that. (Admittedly maintenance for the electric half *should* be in a well designed system incredibly rare) They might last much longer due to sharing the job of course, and the cost may be very manageable in comparison to a battery electric. You’ll tend to use a larger battery in a pure battery electric due to range – so the price is usually pretty high and you could choose to average that over the life of the car, which should make the numeric expense higher. However until that point you get to do much less maintenance, which is nice.

            Reasonable non-BEV situations: Someone who has a farm truck or utility vehicle that isn’t their daily driver shouldn’t be looking at battery-electric trucks at present. They should see what’s out there when they replace it, but might end up with a hybrid truck or just a more efficient engine. Someone with a older used car that has to do everything for their family should pay close attention to price versus reliability, capability, and range before efficiency. They may not have the option to go electric or hybrid as soon as others might. Someone who has a late model luxury sedan that they only use for errands and a short daily commute should look at an electric car because they wouldn’t even use the extra range of the other options and they can obviously afford it.

            Overall, I’d very much like more hybrids, but I want them to mostly be the sort that use the engine only to extend range on a battery large enough the engine is not used that much. I don’t want to push the word “hybrid” and end up with a bunch of vehicles that duct tape a tiny electric motor to their existing engine, add a few thousand to the sticker price, and pretend they’re just as much of a hybrid as a prius even though they can’t go over 10mph without their engine. They’d have gotten better cruising mpg by using a more efficient conventional engine, in that case. “plug-in hybrid” is a better term, but we need more options in that category for it to actually work for everyone. Especially if some people can get away with an EV from day to day with the option to occasionally use a cheap ICE vehicle for other purposes.

      2. And please tell me that you know that the green energy movement and the companies that are building that technology are as guilty of donations and lobbying. Too much of what has come out as green has been Vaporware. See Solar Roadways.

        1. Solar roadways was a terrible idea from the start but people don’t seem to think it’s possible to tell the difference between a doomed idea and a good one ahead of time, so they wrongly figure the other ideas are just as poorly planned as the scams.

          1. Seperating Vaporware from good ideas is needed. The fact that the president at the time touted that technology as “a great idea” shows that they don’t bother with science. They bother with appearances.

            When you consider that good ideas get thrown out because it’s not popular it’s maddening. See Plasma Gasification incinerators on that one. Great idea, NIMBY is killing it because they don’t want incinerators in their area…but trucking trash to former coal mines…GREAT IDEA.

            I get that the economy drives much of that, but being able to turn trash into useable materials should be part of the solution.

          2. Everybody knew it was a terrible idea and people did point out that the theory doesn’t stand up for scrutiny – but that didn’t matter because it was a boondoggle: an excuse to shovel money around. The complaints are irrelevant at the point of corruption.

        2. Now ‘green’ has become profitable there is lobbying and will no doubt be similar levels of bovine effluent going forward, which is kinda what I meant when I said ‘trying to slow it down is not going to work’. But when talking about the 30+ years ago the infrastructure SHOULD have been being upgraded, which everyone knew it had nothing to do with ‘green’. It just wasn’t done because it is not short term profitable. Even not counting the looming prospect of a renewable future requiring them the better infrastructure was being called for – from what I’ve seen the EU didn’t suck quite as badly as the USA on keeping the electric infrastructure mostly fit for purpose, but still…

          Yes vapourware exists, though the much maligned solar roadways is a concept that on paper actually makes some sense, way better than the real vapourware – its a huge surface area that is largely unused and in the sun all day. The challenge with that concept is in the engineering (especially to survive the HGV) and rather high cost compared to tarmac, which I agree makes it at least for now not really viable in general, and it never really looked it. But that doesn’t meant it shouldn’t have been trailed – can do all the simulations you like but you can’t KNOW how badly the brake dust and rubber will cover the surface, or how much the reinforcement required to take the load will tank the cells efficiency, or how reportedly awful it will be to drive on in wet weather without test – It might have turned out to be way way better than you expect and just need a fleet of street sweepers to keep the surface clean – and you can’t actually know that until it get tried. Unlike the real vapourware this one the mathematics actually check out in basic theory.

          1. “Unlike the real vapourware this one the mathematics actually check out in basic theory.”

            Not even close. When I first heard of it I knew it was crap. Losses alone killed it.

            EEVblog dissected solar roadways as they were being touted by the media. He did math that tore the concept apart in short order. That’s an engineer looking at the product from a standpoint of physics. It was and will remain vaporware unless we make some discovery that gets solar panels closer to 80 percent efficient. Even then it’s a push.

            You don’t see federal buildings with solar going in at rapid rates. You don’t see congress converting everything possible to green energy and REQUIRING utilities to put in green installations to replace aging and new infrastructure. You see tax credits. This gets sales going and gets industries cash, but does nothing tangible to add “green” energy production going.

          2. Losses in transmission have very little if anything to do with solar roads – as guess what you would get losses in transmission between all the places the road goes anyway – in effect build it right and you are getting power generation along your transmission lines instead of pure loss at all times. Even a paltry 2% efficient solar panel in the huge surface area of roads would make a very meaningful amount of power – there are alot of roads… The problem was never with the basic concept and entirely with the engineering and cost to actually make it happen.

            As for not seeing federal buldings, that is nothing to do with the value of solar as a technology. Plus round here there are new and refurbished council/government funded buildings going up that are very very much more passive heating and cooling designed and covered in solar – making a swimming pool that with the high energy costs around here could not be affordably run into a net producer and affordable swimming pool for the community for instance…

      3. “Also across Europe there really isn’t a huge need to store energy – it is so densely populated and spans time zones that you can share and transmit power across its entirety from where the sun ”


        Spans all of 3 time zones UTC to UTC+2. The US has more time zones.

        “So I don’t disagree with you as such, but I don’t think ‘Slow and steady’ can win this race – the green movement has finally gained attention and in doing so snapped to having so much inertia trying to slow it down is not going to work, and Putin’s war has shown just how fast energy dependence on a less than allied power turns sour for you.”

        Thankfully the ‘greens’ in Sweden who never really had much inertia but wielded an unfortunate amount of power in the previous government have been slapped down now. Indeed putting all your gas-eggs in one not-so-stable basket is hardly the best idea. When Mr Trump quite rightly pointed this out he was laughed at…

        I mean a genuine green party based on science and facts could work. Currently they seem to be based on opinions and emotions and fear, but as they are the ‘green’ party then people with good meaning intentions are fooled into supporting them.

        1. The US isn’t densely populated between the timezones though, most of the population is on the two coastlines with a whole lot of not much inbetween – you would have lots of very long east to west coast connections with practically nothing inbetween – it just isn’t as practical to connect it up that way in the US… Europe is very dense so you rarely have to go more than a few hundred miles to hit another pretty big population centre from the last across the timezone span.

          Any political party based on science and facts alone doesn’t get anywhere – too much of the population is not educated/interested enough to actually pick that party based on such dry and logical mission goals alone. It always takes a degree of emotive response that pure science doesn’t impart. And if the party ever existed in a real sense and still lacked that in their sales pitch I’m sure the media would end up putting words in their mouth enough to make up for it and rather force some stupid…

          1. And the EU isn’t densely populated around the peripheries. Most of the people live in the center around the France-Germany region.

            The interconnection idea has already been discussed and analyzed with the DESERTEC proposal, and the outcome is that the network would have to span all the way to the Middle East and North Africa to make it work.

  17. Wind and solar are junk technologies. Maybe okay for small scale, but the amount of pollution created and disposal issues with the panels and blades are a problem. Money should have been invested in small scale nuclear. Natural gas is a great option since America has a lot of that. But no, we have to pretend these garbage systems are environmentally sensitive.

  18. If only people warned us about this! oh wait…

    Wind may be cheaper than coal when it’s windy, but its price is infinite when there is no wind.
    Same with solar. When the sun is shining it’s cheap, but when there is no sun its price is infinite.
    Grid level storage at a large enough scale to power a country doesn’t exist as it is too expensive and impractical.
    And the price of making the grid handle significant portions of intermittent energy is also great.
    So overall it’s not cheap. It also takes up a lot of land and kills a lot of birds and other animals.
    So we need reliable base-load energy such as coal, gas or nuclear.
    Gas plants are better at turning up and down then coal and can work together with intermittent sources such as wind and solar.
    But if you want to stop using fossil fuels the only option is nuclear WITHOUT wind and solar.

  19. I’m laughing over all the people here hoping new technology will come and save us. Look up, there’s not even enough rare metals in the world for the world to transition to EVs and renewables.

    1. >there’s not even enough rare metals in the world for the world to transition to EVs and renewables.
      As so very much of this planet has never really been prospected for mineral wealth just how much of it all there is in forms we can practically extract we have no idea – though we already know there is a really substantial amount, and it isn’t actually consumed once you use it once.

      You can however say with a fair degree of accuracy how much oil is likely to be left – that has been actively searched for across most of the globe, but the Rare Earths until very very recently were waste material from the extraction of bulk metals rather than a valued product in their own right.

  20. Rooftop producers have just been screwed this week where I live by the mega-utility who owns most of the state legislators. Decentralization is the best answer and ultimately many of us will end up with local storage, and it needn’t be by batteries (before you whine about lithium, which is only really necessary for EVs). But a big obstacle to efficient decentralized systems is again the utility-bought law that says individuals can’t sell power to each other; that is, no one’s allowed to compete with the monopoly utility as a provider to anyone else. So each of us in detached housing will have to have our own storage system, which is a lot less cost-effective than having one for the immediate neighborhood. So yeah, we’re back to the biggest challenge being corruption and misaligned priorities.

  21. the place for solar is to supplement daytime usage, where power demand is highest, also conveniently coincides with when the sun is up. however you still need to deliver night time power. presumably from storage, but we just dont (and potentially never will) have the capacity to cover the full load. so you end up burning fossil fuels. solar is a lot easier to schedule than wind, but it only covers part of the requirements.

    still neither is a replacement for other means of generation. i still think we need a non-fossil fuel baseload, and nuclear does that in places where you dont have a lot of storage or hydro power (which comes with storage built in). a single powerplant can provide baseload for a wider area if those areas are also supplemented by solar.

    wind is the hard one to deal with since it can be running or not at any time. there are locations with very reliable wind however, so it can be like hydro where geology and local climate plays a bigger role. still you do need additional baseload when the air is still.

    offshore wind provides an interesting opportunity, not only are costal winds pretty reliable, but you also have plenty of sea water available. so you can crack hydrogen and oxygen and either sell it as product or tank up when you have a surplus and burn it when you have a break in the wind. since the combustion products are water its environmentally neutral. it sure beats putting the breaks on when you are generating more power than you can use. the pylons can provide plenty of volume for tankage for storage, you just need to install pressure domes, gas turbines, and some piping, and nacelle access will need to be moved external to the pylon.

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