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In the Wake of the News

Dispatchable Wind & Solar - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Electricity demand fluctuates continuously, over a range of 2.5-3 to one. Electric utility operators control the output of numerous generation resources over their acceptable range of operation to match the contemporaneous demand of the grid. Current grid generation resources include nuclear, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, wind and solar. With the exception of wind and solar, these generation resources are dispatchable, meaning that they can be brought into service, as required, to meet grid demand. Wind and solar availability are controlled by time of day and weather conditions. Regulation typically requires that their output be used whenever available in preference to other resources and that the output of other generating resources be adjusted to accommodate their output.

Electric utilities will continue to require the ability to dispatch generating resources as required to match grid demand as the electricity generating fleet transitions from primarily fossil fueled generation to predominantly intermittent renewable generation. Nuclear generation is typically base loaded, while hydro, geothermal and biomass generation can be modulated to follow load. However, these generation sources would represent less than 10% of the generation required to meet peak demand in the “All-Electric Everything” future beyond 2050. Therefore, wind and solar generation must be rendered dispatchable to maintain grid reliability and stability.

Current US wind generation has capacity factors ranging from approximately 24-46%, with the lower capacity factors in July, August and September. Therefore, 1 GW of dispatchable wind capacity would require up to 4 GW of wind generator rating plate capacity, plus storage capacity of approximately 3 GW to store electricity for use during the periods of low capacity. Additional storage capacity would be required to compensate for daily generation fluctuations around the monthly average. Additional storage capacity would also be required to provide dispatchable output through days of low/no wind generation availability.

Current US solar generation has capacity factors ranging from approximately 17-33%, with lower capacity factors in November, December, January and February. Therefore, 1 GW of dispatchable solar capacity would require up to 6 GW of solar generator rating plate capacity, plus storage capacity of approximately 5 GW to store electricity for use at night and during periods of low capacity. Additional storage capacity would be required to compensate for daily generation fluctuations around the monthly average. Additional storage capacity would also be required to provide dispatchable output through days of low/no solar availability.

The Administration’s goal would result in a grid in which approximately 90% of the electricity generated would be generated by intermittent renewable generation, supplemented by nuclear, hydro geothermal and biomass generation. The rating plate capacity of the intermittent renewable generators would be 4-6 times the expected average capacity and the intermittent renewable generation capacity would require at least equal rating plate storage capacity and perhaps several times that capacity, depending on the number of consecutive days of low/no generation which might be experienced.

Such a system would require a significant factor of safety in its design, since if storage were discharged during a generation outage, recovery would be a long term process.


Tags: Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Dispatchable, Electric Power Reliability, Electric Utilities

Life after Climate Change - Highlighted Article


From: National Review

By: Bjorn Lomborg

Date: March 30, 2023

Life after Climate Change

Better than you think

The global discussion about climate change has become quite hysterical. Some 60 percent of people living in the rich world think it is likely to bring an end to humanity. This is not only untrue; it is also harmful, because fear makes people embrace bad policies and ignore many other urgent challenges facing the world. Consider, for example, how the World Health Organization declared climate change the defining public-health issue of the 21st century in 2014, but perhaps should have been more focused on pandemics, like Covid. Or take the World Economic Forum participants who in January 2020 found the greatest policy risk of the next ten years to be climate-action failure — ignoring the rapid spread of Covid. Or consider how development institutions increasingly focus on helping poor countries with climate-change responses, often at the expense of other things those countries urgently need, such as growth and development, stronger health-care systems, better education, and a more plentiful energy supply.

Climate change is a real and man-made phenomenon, and it will have negative impacts overall. That’s a fact, and it is one that we hear a lot. The “catastrophe narrative,” however, is drowning out many other relevant facts about climate change — for example, that 98 percent fewer people are dying from climate-related disasters today than did a century ago, and that net-zero-emission policies are eye-wateringly costly. The following are eight charts that I think more people should see, to understand that the climate-change data are very different from what we hear in the commonplace narrative. (continue reading)

Life after Climate Change


Tags: Highlighted Article



The US Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook 2022 does not reflect the Administration’s Net Zero by 2050 goal, as shown in the graph below. It also does not reflect the Administration’s “All-Electric Everything” by 2050 goal.


U.S. electricity generation from selected fuels AEO2022 Reference case


The Net Zero goal would require that both coal and natural gas be replaced as electricity generation fuels, coal by 2030 and natural gas by 2035. The “All-Electric Everything” goal would require increasing US electricity generation from approximately 5,400 billion kilowatthours to approximately 17,000 billion kilowatthours, to replace the current end uses of coal, oil and natural gas with renewable generated electricity and possibly some nuclear generated electricity.  A rough approximation of the transition over the period 2021-2050 is shown in the graph below.



All-Electric Everything



The electricity generation in 2050 would average approximately 2 billion kilowatthours per hour, but the peak hourly generation requirement would be approximately 5 billion kilowatthours per hour. The EIA AEO 2022 estimates that the renewable generation in 2050 would be approximately 60% solar and 40% wind, which is a significant shift from the 2021 ratio of 70% wind to 30% solar.

Current utility renewable generation capacities vary seasonally, with wind experiencing a capacity factor range of approximately 24 - 43% and solar a capacity factor range of approximately 18 - 33%. Therefore, based on the EIA projection of a 60% solar, 40% wind share of intermittent renewable generation, the average capacity factor of the solar and wind generator fleet would be approximately 28%. Therefore, generation of 17,000 billion kilowatthours annually would require intermittent renewable generating capacity of approximately 7 billion kilowatts. However, peak hour generation of approximately 5 billion kilowatthours per hour would require approximately 18 billion kilowatts of generation, or a combination of generation and long-duration storage. Storage or generation oversizing would be essential since solar experiences its minimum capacity factor during the winter peak period, while wind experiences its minimum capacity factor during the summer peak.

Solar generating capacity of approximately 11 billion kilowatts at 0.3 kilowatts per panel would require installation of approximately 35 billion solar panels over an area of 17 million acres, or 27,000 square miles. This area is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia. Wind generation capacity of approximately 7 billion kilowatts would require installation of approximately 3 million 2.5 MW onshore wind turbines, or some combination of onshore and offshore wind turbines. The administration has a goal of installing 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, which would represent approximately 0.4% of the projected 2050 wind generation fleet capacity requirement.

The US currently has approximately 136 GW of solar capacity and 140 GW of wind capacity installed, or approximately 1.5% of the generating capacity required to meet peak demand in the “all-electric everything” scenario. The bulk of this existing capacity has been installed over the past 30 years with the assistance of generous federal and state incentives. Installing the remaining approximately 98.5% of the required capacity over the next 28 years appears to be a daunting task.


Tags: Net Zero Emissions, Electric Power Generation

The Global Warming Doomsday Religion Is A Suicide Pact To Wreck Our Economy - Highlighted Article


From: Climate Change Dispatch

By: Don W. Crockett

Date: March 14, 2023


The Global Warming Doomsday Religion Is A Suicide Pact To Wreck Our Economy

There is no scientific evidence that the minuscule 0.01% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since 1780 has had any effect on the Earth’s average temperature.

Nonetheless, in the 1980s, a religious/political movement against man-made or anthropogenic CO2 arose.

It was driven by catastrophic predictions from a gaggle of impenetrable and undecipherable computer climate models operated by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and quickly metastasized into a worldwide mass movement with all the fervor of a new evangelical religion.

As Eric Hoffer observes in his book, The True Believer, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in God, but never without belief in a devil.”

In this new “doomsday” mass movement, millions of people truly believe that man-made CO2 is a modern-day devil that will cause glaciers to melt, seas to rise, and coastlines to submerge. They also believe that mankind can, and must, save the planet from this catastrophe by reducing emissions of the devil CO2 to net zero.

Those who don’t believe are labeled “climate deniers,” a derogatory reference to those who deny that the Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, most politicians in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, as well as the press and heads of many large corporations have blindly joined this Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) religion to stamp out the CO2 devil.

These true believers will not accept any challenge to their deeply held religious beliefs which are supported by nothing more than emanations from the IPCC’s inscrutable climate models. Their minds are closed.

CO2 is a devil that must be vanquished and our country, therefore, must reduce its CO2 emissions to net zero or we will all perish. Most non-believers dare not directly challenge the false claim that man-made C02 is the sole cause of our current warming period. (continue reading)


The Global Warming Doomsday Religion Is A Suicide Pact To Wreck Our Economy


Tags: Highlighted Article


The Biden Administration has set a goal of achieving Net Zero US annual CO2 emissions by 2050. To accomplish this goal, the Administration has decreed that all coal-fired electric generation would cease by 2030; and, that all natural gas fueled electric generation would cease by 2035. The Administration has also decreed that all new vehicles sold in the US after 2035 would be electric vehicles. There is also an effort underway to end the use of natural gas for applications other than electric generation, including virtually all residential, commercial and industrial end uses. Incentives have been put in place for EVs and electric appliances and equipment, as well as for wind and solar generation and electricity storage.

Achieving the Administration’s goals would result in a US energy economy based solely on electricity, generated by a mixture of renewable generation sources including hydro, biomass, geothermal, wind, solar and possibly some nuclear generation.

However, the US Energy Information Administration, an agency of the US Department of Energy, in its Annual energy Outlook 2022 (AEO  2022) projects a very different US energy future, as shown in the graphs below.


U.S. electricity generation and shares from selected fuels and renewable sources


EIA projects that US electricity generation will increase by approximately 32% through 2050, or approximately 1% per year. Natural gas electricity generation would increase to approximately 1,800 billion kilowatthours, or by approximately 20%. Coal generation would decrease to approximately 530 billion kilowatt hours. Renewable generation would increase to approximately 2,400 billion kilowatthours, or nearly 500%.

Virtually all the growth in renewable generation would consist of wind and solar. Wind generation would increase from approximately 344 to approximately 750 billion kilowatthours, though its share of generation would decrease from 43% of renewable generation to approximately 31%. Solar generation would increase from approximately 450 billion kilowatthours to approximately 1,200 billion kilowatthours and its share of renewable generation would increase to approximately 51%. EIA projects virtually no growth for geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass generation.

These EIA projections are fundamentally inconsistent with the Administration’s goals of Net Zero CO2 emissions and an all-electric energy economy by 2050. Coal generation decreases, but not to zero. Natural gas generation increases, rather than decreasing to zero. The projected 1% per year growth in US electricity production is consistent with historical electricity demand growth, driven by increasing population and GDP, but not with a major transition to an all-electric energy economy.

EIA’s projections regarding natural gas show an approximate 20% increase in consumption in the Reference case, and approximately 50% in the High Supply case, as shown in the graphs below.


U.S. renewable electricity generation, including end use AEO2022 Reference case


The EIA projections do not contemplate the effects of the Administration’s push for all-electric everything, which would require expansion of electricity generation from the projected 5,400 billion kilowatthours in 2050 to approximately 17,000 billion kilowatthours. Growth of this magnitude would require not only increases in generation, but also massive increases in and expansion of transmission infrastructure and major upgrades to existing distribution infrastructure to accommodate the increases in individual customer demand and consumption.


Tags: Electric Power Generation, Net Zero Emissions, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy

Feasibility for achieving a net zero economy for the U.S. by 2050 - Highlighted Article

From: Climate Etc.

By: Michael J. Kelly

Date: March 4, 2023

Feasibility for achieving a net zero economy for the U.S. by 2050

I imagine that I have been appointed the first CEO of a new agency set up by the Federal Government of the United States of America with the explicit goal of actually delivering a Net Zero CO2 Emissions Economy by 2050. My first task is to scope the project and to estimate the assets required to succeed. This is the result of that exercise, and includes a discussion of some consequences that flow from the scale and timescale for meeting the target.

Executive summary

The cost to 2050 will comfortably exceed $12T (trillion) for electrification projects and $35T for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, a work-force comparable in size to the health sector will be required for 30 years, including a doubling of the present number of electrical engineers, and the bill of specialist materials is of a size that for the USA alone is several times the global annual production of many key minerals. On the manpower front one will have to rely on the domestic workforce, as everywhere else in the world is working towards the same target. If they were not so working, the value of the USA-specific target is moot. The scale of this project suggests that a war footing and a command economy will be essential, as major cuts to other favoured forms of expenditure, such as health, education and defence, will be needed. Without a detailed roadmap, as exemplified by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors that drove the electronics revolution after 1980, the target is simply unattainable. (continue reading)


Feasibility for achieving a net zero economy for the U.S. by 2050


Tags: Highlighted Article

Lessons Learned? - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The past two years have provided unpleasant lessons for several electric utilities and their customers. The challenge remains for those utilities and the utility industry to learn from those lessons and take actions to prevent their recurrence. Because of the nature of the electric utility industry, these lessons must also be learned by state and federal utility regulators who largely control the utilities' actions.

California utilities are dealing with aggressive state efforts to transition the state utility grid from fossil and nuclear generation to wind and solar generation with energy storage. However, the state has pushed for rapid shutdown of natural gas and nuclear generators before storage was available to replace the output of those generators during periods when wind and/or solar generator output was reduced. The result has been insufficient conventional capacity to replace the output of wind and solar generators, particularly during periods of peak demand.

Texas utilities experienced a very cold period in early 2022. The cold caused freezing of water in gas lines supplying gas turbine generators, freezing of coal piles at coal generating stations and icing on the blades of a significant portion of the state’s wind generation capacity. The combination of these effects resulted in a significant grid failure which took several days to resolve. The issues with the gas and coal plants are relatively easily resolvable with improved maintenance and insulation, but preventing icing of the wind turbine blades would require a major refitting with blades which could be heated.

The US Southeast experienced extremely cold weather on Christmas Eve, 2022. Duke Power in North Carolina was forced to institute rolling blackouts to keep the grid from failure. The shortage of generating capacity was the result of control failures at two natural gas plants and one coal plant, aggravated by the fact that the coldest period occurred in the very early morning, before sunrise, so no solar generator output was available. Again, the issues at the fossil fuel plants are relatively easily resolvable. However, dealing with the solar issue would require significant storage. Duke’s problem was exacerbated by the failure of neighboring utilities to provide power for which Duke had contracted, since those utilities were also affected by the extreme cold.

TVA also experienced problems during that very cold period with both coal and natural gas generators. TVA experienced demand approximately 35% higher than on a typical winter day, its highest demand ever. This forced rolling blackouts by some of the utilities TVA serves at wholesale. Again, the issues with the fossil fuel plants are relatively easily resolvable with improved maintenance and insulation.

Each of these situations highlights the necessity for high level maintenance of utility infrastructure, particularly during periods of expected peak demand. The California, Texas and North Carolina experiences also highlight the importance of backup generation during periods of low/no wind and solar generation availability. As intermittent renewable generation capacity increases, it will be necessary to develop new contract arrangements to assure that natural gas is available in sufficient quantities for the natural gas generators.


Tags: Backup Power, Electric Power Reliability, Electric Power Dispatchable

Reliable vs. Intermittent Generation: A Primer (Parts I and II) - Highlighted Article

From: Master Resource

By: Bill Schneider

Date: March 1, 2023


Reliable vs. Intermittent Generation: A Primer

Part 1     ---     Part 2

“Why should a thermal plant spend money in a government-rigged market that threatens a reasonable profit? Why should the plant even remain in the market under these conditions?”

“For IVREs it’s a no-risk deal, with markets guaranteed and taxpayers country-wide adding profits. But what about the need for reliable power?”


This two-part post (Part II here) is a follow-up to Robert Bradley’s recent IER article, “Wind, Solar, and the Great Texas Blackout: Guilty as Charged.” His article discussed how regulatory shifts and subsidies favoring Intermittently Variable Renewable Energy (IVRE) producers resulted in prematurely lost capacity, a lack of new capacity, and upgrade issues with remaining (surviving) traditional capacity. These three factors–“the why behind the why”–explain the perfect storm that began with (or was revealed by) Storm Uri.

Part I below describes how the market was originally meant to work–but has not worked given the governmentally redesigned power market, beginning with generation. The change was caused by:

Investment monies lured away from developing baseload capacity by government subsidies and special tax incentives, and
Operating opportunities lured away by “first-use” mandates. First-use mandates are especially pernicious as grid operators must purchase from IVREs whenever they are producing, leaving the reliable generators idle. (continue reading)


Reliable vs. Intermittent Generation: A Primer

Part 1     ---     Part 2


Tags: Highlighted Article

Positive Weather News - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Weather events which cause significant loss and damage include tropical cyclones, tornadoes, floods, drought and some wildfires. The consensed climate science community has projected that each of these weather events would become more frequent, more powerful or of longer duration as the result of anthropogenic climate change. These projections have been based on the output of climate models. Recently, the consensed climate science community has begun claiming that portions of the damage caused by these weather events can be attributed to climate change, based on the outputs of attribution models. However, there is little or no evidence that the projections have been correct or that the purported attribution is accurate.


Tropical Cyclone Season

The 2022 tropical cyclone season was projected to be more active than average. However, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which combines frequency, intensity and duration for tropical cyclones globally was approximately 29% below average according to the NOAA National Hurricane Center data, as shown in the graph below from Colorado State University. There is no apparent upward trend in global ACE over the past 42 years.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy



Tornado Season

The US tornado season in 2022 was slightly more active than average, as shown in the graph below.


U.S. Tornadoes

While there is an upward trend in the number of tornadoes reported, some of this trend is attributed to the availability of satellite imagery which permitted detection of tornadoes which might otherwise not have been reported.

However, there is a definite downward trend in the frequency of strong tornadoes, as shown in the graph below.


U.S. Annual Count of Strong to Violent Tornados (EF#+), 1970-2020

Global Weather Losses

The trends in both global weather disaster frequency and losses from global weather disasters, are shown in the graphs below.


Global Losses from Disasters


Total Count of Global Disasters

There is clearly no upward trend in global disaster numbers or losses which could be associated with anthropogenic climate change.


Droughts and Floods

Historical data regarding droughts and floods are limited on a global basis. There appear to be no clear trends in frequency, duration or severity attributable to anthropogenic climate change, though the climate models project future increases. The IPCC reports that precipitation has increased over the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere but notes no specific instances of reduced precipitation. The IPCC also has low confidence that there has been an increase in flooding globally. There have been increases in the severity of flooding, though much of the change is attributable to increased areas of impermeable surfaces, which reduce soil absorption and increase runoff. There is also an increasing trend in financial damage from flooding, but most of that increase is attributable to increased property values and continued construction in known flood plains.



Wildfires are often discussed in association with weather. However, the only weather-related cause of wildfires is lightning. Other causes of wildfires include electricity transmission line failures, accidental ignitions and arson. There has been a dramatic decrease in wildfire acres burned in the US, as shown in the graph below.


Wildland Fires: Number of Acres Burned in the USA

Some of the severity of wildfires is attributable to changes in forestry management, including failure to remove forest debris.

In summary, the good news about weather is that it does not appear to be worsening over time as the result of climate change.


Tags: Severe Weather, Drought, Floods, Forest Fires

Climate Uncertainty & Risk: the presentation - Highlighted Article

From: Climate Etc.

By: Judith Curry

Date: February 24, 2023

Climate Uncertainty & Risk: the presentation

A 20 minute presentation on Climate & Uncertainty and Risk (including some content from my forthcoming book)

This was presented at the ICCC Conference.  Here is a link to my complete presentation with audio [presentation].  Lindzen and McKitrick also gave excellent presentations in this session (I assume the presentations will be made available online in a few days).

Most of this material will be familiar from previous blog posts, here is the text of my presentation with some images.


What we know, versus what we don’t and cannot know

Even people that don’t know much about climate science have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree.  But exactly what do they agree on?  Not nearly as much as is portrayed in the media.  Everyone agrees that:

  • Surface temperatures have increased since 1880
  • Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and
  • Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a warming effect on the planet

However, there is disagreement on the most consequential issues:

  • How much of the recent warming has been caused by humans
  • How much the planet will warm in the 21st century
  • Whether warming is ‘dangerous’
  • And how we should respond to the warming, to improve human well being

The first two points are in the realm of science, requiring logical arguments, model simulations and expert judgment to assess “whether” and “how much.” The issue of “dangerous” is an issue of societal values, about which science has little to say. Whether reducing CO2 emissions will improve human wellbeing is an issue of economics and technology. This is also contingent on the relative importance of natural climate variability versus human-caused global warming for the 21st century. (continue reading)


Climate Uncertainty & Risk: the presentation


Tags: Highlighted Article

Positive Climate News - ORIGINAL CONTENT


Climate Sensitivity

The IPCC has recently lowered its estimated range of climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. The IPCC AR6 estimated range is 2.5-4.0, with an expected value of 3.0. However, studies conducted by several researchers have produced estimates at or below the bottom of the range estimated by AR6.


Resource Consumption Pathways

The IPCC has recently acknowledged that RCP8.5 represents an implausible future. IPCC is now using RCP4.5 as the “business as usual” future pathway, which reduces the expected range of potential global warming.
However, RCP8.5 is still being used as the basis for numerous studies intended to produce “scary scenarios” of the effects of future climate change. Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. reports that such studies are being published at the rate of approximately 20 per day. Such studies add nothing to the understanding of the science and consume funds which could be far more usefully applied.


Satellite Sea Level Rise

A paper published in Nature Scientific Reports determines that the much-discussed acceleration in sea level rise supposedly measured by NASA satellites is instead an artifact of sequentially combining the output of measurements made from four different satellites. The study determined that, after correction, the supposed acceleration in sea level rise was not significantly different from zero at the 95% confidence level.


Satellite Based Sea Level from Four Satellites
However, the rate of sea level rise reported from satellite measurements is still approximately twice the rate of rise in the much longer tide gauge measurements. Regardless, sea level has been rising since the trough of the Little Ice Age at a consistent rate, with no indication of climate change driven acceleration.


Satellite Tropospheric Temperature Anomaly

The satellite tropospheric temperature anomaly record shows the development of another “pause” in atmospheric warming, now stretching to 8 years 4 months, as shown in the graph below. The previous “pause”, which extended from 1998 – 2013, was controversial, resulting in more than 60 studies explaining its cause and other studies claiming it had not happened. The current “pause” is not as controversial, though it would likely become more controversial if it extended to 15-year duration. The previous pause was arguably triggered by the 1998 super El Nino and ended by the runup to the 2016 super El Nino. The current “pause” was arguably triggered by the current triple La Nina and will likely end with the end of the La Nina.


UAHv6 Global Mean Temperature Change: 100 months September 2014 to December 2022


Near-Surface Temperature Anomaly UHI Distortion

Dr. Roy Spencer has begun a series of analyses of the effects of urbanization and the resulting Urban Heat Island effect on the near-surface temperature record. His analysis of US East Coast cities suggests that the rate of temperature anomaly increase in the near-surface temperature data is approximately 50% too large. The UHI effect appears to have the greatest impact on daily low temperatures, as heat absorbed by urban infrastructure during the day is released to the surrounding atmosphere, partially offsetting normal nighttime cooling.



Each of the situations above strongly suggests that there is no climate crisis and that the effects of climate change will likely be far less adverse than projected by the “scary scenarios”.


Tags: Temperature Record, Temperature Anomaly, Sea Level Rise, Sea Level Change

Net Zero or Good Enough? - Highlighted Article


From: Climate Etc.

By: Russell Schussler and Roger Caiazza

Date: February 9, 2023

Net Zero or Good Enough?

This good enough plan may get you to net zero before the more ambitious ones.  It is likely to have less carbon emissions than the more aggressive plans over time.  It certainly will be more reliable and affordable.

Electric generation plans need to be well crafted and carefully considered. Because of concerns around  climate change many politicians have become galvanized to hastily enact legislation to target  net-zero anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The authors argue that the more seriously you take climate change, the more important it becomes that you have a good plan for electric generation in the near and midterm planning arena.  Taking foolish actions in the near to mid-range time periods will not help with CO2 reductions or climate change and may be far worse than doing nothing.  Maybe we all could compromise and find a less grand strategy that has more likely benefits with far fewer threats to reliability, affordability, and overall environmental impacts.

The authors have both been writing about the proposed net-zero transition by 2050 for years.  Schussler (aka the Planning Engineer) has been writing about the challenges of “green energy” since 2014 at the Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog.  Caiazza has focused on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog since 2017.  Since the original proposal for New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) in 2019, he has written over 280 articles about that plan to transition to net zero by 2050. (continue reading)


Net Zero or Good Enough?


Tags: Highlighted Article


The US electric utility industry has historically sought to achieve “four nines” (99.99%) reliability of service. One key to achieving very high system reliability has been maintaining an approximate 20% capacity reserve margin compared to peak system demand, which typically allowed peak demand to be met even in the event of failure of the utility’s largest single generator.

Achieving this goal is being complicated by the addition of intermittent renewable, non-dispatchable wind and solar generation capacity. Federal and state incentives and the lack of a requirement for dispatchability make the output of these generation sources the lowest cost alternative when available. Federal and state regulation require that their output be used when available. Their output displaces the output of conventional generation when it is available, but cannot replace conventional generation because it is not dispatchable and is subject to rapid and unpredictable fluctuations in output which must be supplemented by the conventional generators or, if available, by storage.

Periodic power outages resulting from severe weather, accidental damage to power poles and lines, and equipment failure have been normal events. However, as intermittent, non-dispatchable renewable generation proliferates, offsetting progressively greater portions of conventional generation output and increasing the cost per unit of the remaining output, conventional generators are being idled or even shutdown to control operating expense.

Conventional generators maintained at hot idle can be brought into service relatively rapidly in the event of a rapid decline in wind or solar output. However, natural gas combined-cycle generators which have been shut down require several hours to be returned to service and coal plants require several days. The utility might not retain the ability to respond to rapid and unpredictable reductions in wind and solar output as rapidly as the renewable output declines, resulting in the potential for grid failure.

The utility response to such situations is brownouts or rotating blackouts. The geographic extent and duration of these responses is a function of the magnitude and duration of the generation shortfall and/or of the demand spike and the time required for the utility to bring additional conventional generating capacity online.

This issue can be further aggravated by the permanent shutdown of conventional capacity due to age and condition, or to unacceptable operating economics resulting from market conditions or contractual provisions, or to government mandates. It becomes critical when the utility no longer has sufficient dispatchable capacity to replace the intermittent renewable capacity at the demand peak with the coincident failure of the utility’s largest capacity generator.

This situation prevailed over much of the US upper Midwest and East coast during winter storm Elliott, resulting in the implementation of rolling blackouts by numerous utilities in the regions. These rolling blackouts were certainly inconvenient, but were also dangerous due to the very cold temperatures and high winds, which combined to produce sub-zero windchill factors over much of the affected regions.

Hopefully, rolling blackouts will not become the “new normal” for electric utility service as the transition to renewable generation proceeds.


Tags: Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Reliability, Electric Power Dispatchable

Climatologist David Dilley: ‘We’re Going Into A Global Cooling Cycle Now’ - Highlighted Video


From: Climate Change Dispatch

By: Tom Nelson

Date: January 24, 2023


Climatologist David Dilley: ‘We’re Going Into A Global Cooling Cycle Now’

Government agencies say that carbon dioxide levels are rising entirely due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. But are they?

Professor Dilley will show that today’s temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are very close to where they should be based on historical cycles. [emphasis, links added]

He will also show that we are sliding into a long-term global cooling cycle. Global warming begins and ends at the poles—and global cooling is now occurring in the Arctic and Antarctic. (contrinue)



Tags: Highlighted Article


The US currently has approximately 1,250GW of electric generating capacity. Approximately 200GW of that capacity is coal generating capacity, of which approximately 50GW is scheduled to be retired through 2029. The remaining approximately 150GW is currently scheduled to be retired between 2030 and 2048. However, the Biden Administration has “committed” to ending coal generation in the US by 2030, which could force closure of approximately 150GW of dispatchable generating capacity before the end of its useful life.

US peak electricity demand is approximately 725GW, or approximately 60% of total generating capacity. However, approximately 200GW of the total generating capacity is comprised of wind and solar generation, which is not dispatchable, has a capacity factor of approximately 30% and requires 100% backup to assure adequate capacity on peak. Current coal generating capacity is essentially equal to the 100% backup required by the current wind and solar generation. However, all of that coal generating capacity would be out of service by 2030 if the Administration is to meet its “commitment”.

Replacing current coal generating capacity with wind and solar by 2030 would require installation of approximately 650GW of wind and solar nameplate generating capacity, plus the storage capacity necessary to backup that generation during periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability. However, storage capable of providing backup for more than 4 hours is not currently available and might not be available by 2030.

The retirement of 200GW of coal generation and the commissioning of 650GW of wind and solar generation would result in a grid with total nameplate generating capacity of approximately 1,700GW (1,250 – 200 + 650), of which only 50% would be dispatchable, essentially matching the capacity of the wind and solar generation requiring backup in the absence of appropriate electricity storage. That would leave no capacity margin on peak compared to the typical 20% capacity margin currently maintained by the electric utility industry. This situation could easily lead to increased grid instability and the likelihood of rolling blackouts to prevent grid collapse.

The early retirement of approximately 150GW of coal generating facilities creates another issue for the plant owners, most of which are electric utilities. Assuming typical electric utility 40-year straight line depreciation of assets, average original plant cost of $1 billion per GW and average 10-year premature retirement, generating assets with a remaining book value of approximately $35-40 billion would be stranded. It is uncertain how the federal government, which is forcing the premature retirements, and the various state utility commissions would deal with the financial impact of these stranded assets on the plant owners.

Beyond 2030, the availability of adequate long-duration electricity storage capacity becomes critical. Wind and solar generation continue to increase while the Administration “commitment” forces closure of approximately 550GW of dispatchable natural gas generation capacity over the following 5 years, leaving only approximately 250GW of nuclear, hydro, geothermal and biomass generation as dispatchable backup. Clearly, the Administration “commitment” can not result in a reliable grid without massive, long-duration storage.

The above scenario assumes no load growth over the period, though population growth and the Administration push for “all-electric everything” would certainly cause load growth.


Tags: Coal, Electric Power Dispatchable, Electric Power Generation
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