Unreliable energy: The holy trinity vs the icebergs

Be ready to read a lot about transmission lines, batteries and pumped hydro. This holy trinity is supposed to enable intermittent inputs from the sun and the wind to do the heavy lifting that coal is doing at present.

To appreciate the challenge, look at the power supply at dinnertime last night after the sun and wind achieved a record 50% of the power supply in the middle of the day. The black line at the top of the  chart indicates the total for supply and demand, near 23GW from late morning until after dinner. The point of the story is that Unreliable Energy Fails in the Evening.

The inputs from the wind (green), field solar (red) and rooftop pv (yellow) grew from sunrise at 6am  to the point at lunchtime when they matched the contribution from the conventional sources black coal, brown coal, gas and hydro (blue).

The chart below shows all the sources of supply up to midday. The low point in the middle of the night is about 17GW compared with 23 to 24GW at the high points during the day.

Reverting to the first chart in this post, you can see RE contributing 50% in the middle of the day and 13% –   less than  3GW towards to total demand of 23GW in the evening.  87% of the supply was coming from conventional sources, overwhelmingly coal.

Grand Designs to Decarbonize the Power Supply

The grand scheme is to install some 30GW of large-scale RE plus more rooftop PV to replace 15GW or more of our existing 20-22GW of coal stations. Even at the most preliminary level of analysis you have to discount field solar by 80% and windpower by 70% but the real crunch is the next to zero level of supply for dinner on windless evenings, not to mention the situation at breakfast time.

Transmission lines, batteries and pumped hydro.

All the new capacity will be dispersed from far North Queensland to Tasmania, hence the need for massive expansion of transmission lines to get power form places where the wind is blowing and the sun is shining to places where it is not.  That does not get over the common situation where the wind is hardly blowing anywhere – like the lengthy periods observed most recently in June and July.

Batteries? Tell us more about the capacity of batteries.

Pumped hydro? Where in the world can we find pumped  hydro schemes operating at grid scale of production without support from conventional power?

Back to the drawing board.

PS Don’t mention grid stability issues.

Or environmental damage.

Or the massive amount of extra power required for the electric vehicle fleet.

Don’t expect cheaper power any time soon.

Liberty Quote – There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people — Adam Smith

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13 Responses to Unreliable energy: The holy trinity vs the icebergs

  1. min

    What I cannot understand is If an old lady knows what is going on in other countries in relation to renewables ,coal fired power stations why do the local politicians not know or just ignore . Recently I sent one of your article to a greenie and suggested not to argue with me but against each of the points , of course could not do it.

  2. Lrp

    I don’t understand what’s going on, but the ministers in charge of energy at both state (NSW) and federal level seem to be total morons; matter of fact, Matt Kean would fit in very well with the greens.
    It’s quite obvious, with REs you need to size the system for the longest period at the lowest production capacity, which is quite a lot of wind, solar, and battery and pumped hydro storage. Forget about the stupid dream of EV everywhere; where is that energy going to come from? All this REs business it’s just another get rich scheme/scam.

  3. BoyfromTottenham

    Rafe, good article – I totally agree with your analysis of how ineffectual renewables are and will continue to be. Unfortunately the lack of a meaningful legend on your chart reduces its impact. Did your snip image somehow miss the relevant renewables parameters?

  4. Rafe Champion

    I suppose for this audience I assume everyone knows what the colours mean, point taken, I want to get to people outside the charmed circle and any crystal clarity is required.I will fix it later and aim to do better in future:)

  5. DD

    Rafe, by arguing against renewables you are fighting on the green field of battle and frankly all your arguments miss the point.
    The point of AGW and renewables has nothing to do with either of those things.
    The purpose is simply to destroy our existing civilization, worldwide.

    I do not know how to frame it but we must point out the raw consequences of the NWO path from where we are today. One windmill here or there is of no consequence.
    In my view we may well be starving to death in the dark and cold in twelve months; enslaved if Trump loses or in the midst of revolutionary wars if he wins. Not civil wars, we are back to the United States Declaration of Independence. Read it and it is clearly stated.

    Daniel Andrews had a rush of fertilizer to the brain and overplayed his hand. The only explanation of the apparent stupidity of so many of our politicians and bureaucrats is that they share a ‘common purpose’, have an open view of society and are well paid to do stupid things cleverly.

  6. John A

    The RE phenomenon is a part of the religious cult of climate change and is rife with SJW thinking.

    I, therefore, recommend Vox Day’s two books on dealing with SJWs “SJWs Always Lie” and “SJWs Always Double Down”, both available from Amazon.

    He explains what we already know about RE mavens: they are impervious to the facts because they believe their opponents (us) are evil, or at the very least morally deficient, for not embracing the climate change mantra.

    So, as well as having these facts at the ready, we need to be able to undermine their moral superiority by retaining our own moral confidence. The facts will help us do that, so that we never back down, never apologise for our stance and never give up. We can be civil whilst still using strong language and emotive terms for the utter hopelessness of creating energy out of nowhere, of wasting so much effort on low energy-density projects (wind, solar, tide and all the other wacky schemes), and of describing them engaging in all manner of wasteful diversions, demonstrating their own low density of brain-power.

    (I have been applying the same points in emails bombarding my local member and his fellow parliamentarians about Covid-19, HCQ and the Viktoriastan tyranny.)

  7. Jonesy

    Before RE, the math was simple…base load and peak load…every state had this down pat. Post RE is a nightmare! i would hate to be one of the engineers that have to balance all this mess up in five minute blocks all day every day and every night.

    Rafe, just stop thinking about choke points just do not give them the ability to take over. Same for same. Bid for the next 24hrs and penalise if they do not deliver. Until this happens we will always have this scourge.

  8. RobK

    I think you are doing well Rafe. The more it is talked about and presented in various ways, eventually bits will sink in. Especially as costs rise. Even though this is done slowly with incremental phases, partly hoping no one will notice and partly because they are yet to work out exactly what is to be done with existing technology, eventually they will have nowhere to hide. The sooner they wake up the better as much damage is already baked-in, as they say.

  9. BoyfromTottenham

    RobK – Good point. How about we start up a ‘guess what the retail price of electricity will be in your state by say the date of the next federal election’ game? People could submit their estimate, and a running graph could plot the range of guesses in real time compared to the current price, counting down as we get closer to election day. What a hoot!

  10. RobK

    Much of it will be offset as a “cost of carbon”, happens all the time. So many hidden costs.

  11. Bones

    Rafe I just cannot follow this graph. What’s what? The differentiation of the colours when lettered are very poor.
    It’s not the first one………..I applaud your goals and support you but I cannot follow your graphs more often than not.

  12. Rafe Champion

    Thanks Bones, I have put some explanation of the colours into the text, I hope that helps, also I have put in all the descriptors under the charts as per Boy from Tottenham’s concern about cropping the chart and leaving out some of the legends.

  13. From my conversations with Rafe I understand his core objective to be to help ordinary people understand that renewables are not a viable solution to the supposed “global warming emergency” problem.

    Ideally, that then becomes their first baby step on their journey to scepticism.

    Rather than asking them to eat an elephant in a sitting he’s offering them a nibble of an ear to give them a taste for the truth.

    Only the almighty Doomlord knows how many lurkers visit his blog, but I suspect lurkers outnumber commenters and Rafe is seeding them with doubts about the mainstream narrative in a readily acceptable way – one that doesn’t delve into the mysteries of atmospheric physics or global-socialist cabals.

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