Renewable Power Fail – As Usual – April 2010

Posted on Fri 07/23/2010 by


This post continues the monthly series that shines a high intensity spotlight on how Renewable Power is failing on a huge scale to deliver electrical power to consumers. The spin from politicians and supporters of Renewable Power is that it is the way of the future, and can be used to replace traditional methods of generating power, in the main, coal fired power generation. In fact, there is currently Legislation in train that will exponentially increase the introduction of Renewable Power. No matter what these politicians and supporters say, Renewable Power fails, and fails most abjectly, to do what is claimed, that being to deliver power on the regular basis that coal fired power already does deliver.

Something like this can be quite easily proved. Each month, the huge Energy Information Administration (EIA) brings out data that shows exactly how much power was consumed by users in the U.S. That huge database is not easy to understand for the average man in the street, so, even though these excellent figures are indeed readily available, hardly anyone refers to them. This in fact works in favour of those politicians and supporters for Renewable Power, because if those figures were explained in detail, then people would be asking questions as to why it is being pushed onto an unsuspecting public.

My task is to explain that data so people actually can understand it. because that data comes out on a monthly basis, I can extrapolate that data into posts detailing what actually happened for that month, something I have been regularly doing now for 30 months. The posts for this year are at the following links.

January: Renewable Power, But Not For When It’s Needed Most (Part 2)

February: Kerry Lieberman American Power Act – Renewable Power – Strike Three

March: Renewable Power – March 2010 – ‘Clean Energy Future’ Fail

The data for those three months, being the harsh Winter it was, especially in January, show that there was a huge increase in consumption of power across the board, and nearly all of that increase was supplied from the coal fired sector. In fact Renewable Power not only failed to deliver its share, but it was the only sector that decreased the amount of power it supplied. February and March showed little improvement from that same Renewable sector to supply power on a regular basis.

When it comes to April, this starts the period of relatively benign temperatures when heating is not required for the cold Winter periods, and cooling is not required for the hot Summer months, so overall power consumption decreases, and in fact, decreases considerably.


Electrical Power Consumption Chart For April 2010


The most recent figures for the Month of April do show a slight improvement for that Renewable sector, but it still only delivers minimal amounts of power, even when compared to the absolute maximum they can theoretically provide, and even less when compared to the overall totals for all power delivered from every sector.

This chart at left is from the EIA database for the month of April, and released in July, and is shown at this link. Click on the image to open it in a new and larger window.

It shows a slight reduction in power from the coal fired sector, and a slight increase in power supplied from the Renewable Sector, while the other sectors are relatively static. What is also not readily noticed is that there was also an increase in power supplied from the Natural gas sector and I will explain that a little later in this post. What is also easy to see is that the total for the first three months of this year is higher than it was for last year, even with the resounding calls for us to use less electrical power.

The data shown at this link shows the overall consumption from all sectors. When you scroll to near the bottom of the page for the figures for the month of April 2010, and then go across the page, you can see that most sectors decreased the amounts of power they delivered, due totally to the fact that this is the start of three months of benign temperatures. You can a marked increase in the power supplied from the Natural gas sector, and also a minor increase in power delivered from the renewable sector. Now, that Renewable sector is made up from power delivered from 5 areas, and incidentally, two of them produce Carbon Dioxide Emissions. So, when you extrapolate out the two main thrusts of the Renewable Power supporters, Wind Power, and the 2 forms of Solar Power, that figure shown on the chart of 4.6% from the Renewable Sector shrinks considerably.

That is graphically shown in the data at this link. Isolating those two sectors, Wind and Power now shows that these two only supply barely 3% of the overall total power delivered to consumers. Let’s then look at those two Renewable Power flavour of the month areas in some detail.


Currently, the U.S. is the largest consumer of electrical power generated from the wind on Earth. There is currently 38,000MW (MegaWatts) of Installed Capacity wind towers across the U.S. This in fact is the figure used by those who support the current legislation that the Government hopes to introduce. This ‘seemingly’ huge figure gives the impression of being quite large, and when looked at in isolation is the equivalent of 19 large coal fired plants of 2000MW Capacity.

However, using that figure of 38,000MW is completely spurious, because what is really the true case is to look at figures for the actual power delivered to consumers, and this shows something entirely different. The theoretical total power that could be delivered by this amount of installed capacity of 38,000MW is 27.4 Billion KiloWattHours (KWH) for that month of April. What all those wind towers actually delivered was 9.5 Billion KWH, giving them an effective power delivery rate of 34.5%, which is impressive when looked at for a one month figure, but needs to be considered for the overall yearly rate of power delivery which is closer to the World average of 20%, and also taken in the context that some months barely provide 15 to 17% of their total theoretical power.

Now, when comparing that power delivery rate for the equivalent 38,000MW of coal fired power generation, that figure for wind highlights just how inefficient Wind Power really is at being able to deliver regular power on the basis that is actually needed. Those large coal fired plants just hum away 24 hours a day at close to their maximum with the only down time spread out over the year for maintenance. The same applies for Nuclear power generation. Both of these large scale plants run at close to 93 to 95% power delivery efficiency. The overall total for all coal fired plants is closer to 87%, but what needs to be considered here is that smaller coal fired plants are used to deliver peaking power, for only those periods of time when it is actually required, but those large scale plants hum along virtually all the time. The actual power delivered from those 38,000MW of equivalent coal fired power comes in at 25.5 Billion KWH, or nearly three times as much power as that delivered from existing wind towers.

So this total power actually delivered from all those wind towers was in fact the same amount of power delivered from just 6.5 of those 19 equivalent coal fired plants. In fact those equivalent 19 coal fired plants delivered the same power produced for the whole month of April from all those wind towers by April 11th, a total of 11 days.


The U.S. currently has around 700MW of installed Capacity Solar Power. From that it is easy to see that for monumentally huge investments in solar power already committed, and with plants already producing power, all of them across the whole U.S. still only amount to one third the total power of ONE large coal fired power plant.

The maximum theoretical power that can be obtained from 700MW of installed capacity for all those solar plants for the one month of April is 504 Million KWH. The amount of power actually delivered to consumers in the U.S. amounted to only 90 Million KWH. This gives both versions of solar power an effective power delivery rate of just under 18%. This amounts to around four and a half hours of power out of every 24 hours of each day.

An equivalent coal fired plant of the same maximum power as for all solar plants, 700MW, (and this is only a small/medium sized coal fired plant) can deliver 470 Million KWH for the same month of April, or 5.2 times as much power as all the solar plants, or it can deliver the same amount of power as all those solar plants by lunch time on the 5th of April, or in just five and a half days.

Incidentally, one form of Solar Power, Concentrating Solar, as part of its commitment to supply its power for the full 24 hours of every day, then it has to have backup for when the compound goes less than molten and cannot boil water to steam to drive the turbine that then drives the generator. This can be for anything up to 12 hours a day, even in Summer. For this, the plant has to utilise a Natural Gas fired turbine to drive the generator. This then effectively places this type of plant under the Cap and Trade Scheme, where CO2 emissions are taxed, and then lowered each year. The post at this link explains just how this happens.


Look closely at the chart at left here.

Click on the image to open it in a new and larger window, and then move back to this page for an explanation.

This is an actual load curve for power consumed. It is virtually the same for anywhere on the Planet that is a First World Country. It’s the same in New York as for Los Angeles, and the same as for London, Paris, or Sydney. It’s the same for large cities and small towns across any of those Countries. It shows actual power consumption across 24 hours. The Summer line is orange and the Winter line is in blue. Below the solid line is the power that is required absolutely for 24 hours of every day. That line is at around 65%, and that means that of all the electrical power that is produced, two thirds of it is required absolutely for the whole day, that’s 24/7/365. nearly all of that power is supplied from coal fired sources, nuclear power generation, and most Hydro power.


For most other times smaller plants run up, because that is how they are best designed to operate, run up quickly and supply power quickly, and then when not needed to run back down to stop, and they supply that extra power. In the main, most of those plants are powered by burning Natural Gas.

Now, refer to the pie chart above, and also to the data at the same link I linked to above. Find the totals for Natural Gas, fourth from the left. While nearly every other sector decreased its power due to the benign weather nature of this month, that power consumed from that Natural Gas sector rose, and when the figures are quoted in their totality, that increase was in fact quite large.

Why is that, when these plants are only required as needed?

This is because that power is needed to supply what is actually needed to keep everyone in power. This gap was supposed to be taken up by Wind Power and Solar Power. Because coal fired power has now almost to the stage of poison, no new coal fired plants are in construction, and the aging fleet of existing coal fired plants are closing down due to life time expiry dates being reached. The average lifespan of coal fired power plants is around 50 years, and the existing average for ALL U.S. plants is currently at 48 years of age.

We are told ad infinitum that wind and solar plants will take the place of those coal fired plants.

In actuality, as is graphically shown at that link, those wind and solar plants are not doing this. because of that, those Natural gas fired plants are being asked to worked for more time than they normally do, because wind and solar are not supplying the power to fill that gap. You may think that those Natural gas plants emit a considerable amount less CO2 than coal fired plants, but they still emit one third the CO2 on a Watt for Watt basis as coal fired power.

The data at this link shows exactly how much extra Natural Gas is being burned.

Each MCF (thousand cubic feet) of natural gas being burned produces 22 pounds of CO2, so that means for the month of April, there were emissions of CO2 in the amount of almost 5.5 million tons of CO2 being emitted from these Natural Gas fired plants.

Now, the thing I most want to draw your attention to is this.

At that link, look towards the bottom where the title line says ‘Year To Date’. Notice how that for the last three years that total has risen, and not just by a small amount but by large totals for each year. These three years have seen the exponential increase in Wind and Solar plant construction.

This graphically shows that while these Renewables are coming on line in greater numbers, they are not supplying power for when it is actually needed. Hence, those Natural Gas fired plants are being required to take up the slack and provide the extra power for when wind and solar are not providing it.

Directly under that ‘Year To Date’ data is the title line that says ‘Rolling 12 Months Ending In April’. As you can see there, the Natural Gas (CO2 emitting)  sector has increased by a large amount while the coal fired (CO2 emitting) is going down. So, while one goes down, the other is going up, proving that Wind and Solar plants are not really causing major decreases in CO2 emissions. That rolling increase shown there is an overall CO2 emissions increase of almost 3.5 million tons in the one year alone.

That’s why there is an increase in the use of Natural Gas fired power when most other sectors decreased the power they supply in even a relatively benign month like April.


The data for this month again proves conclusively that Renewable Power cannot ever supply the power that it was intended to replace. Power is required for 24 hours of EVERY day, not 8 hours at best for Wind, and four and a half hours at best for Solar.

Enormous amounts of money have already been spent on what can only be termed an absolute failure, and vastly enormous amounts of money into the future will be allocated for this same failure.

These plants will only ever produce ’boutique’ amounts of power, and will always require CO2 emitting backup to supply the power that they cannot. No amount of wishing and hoping will make the wind blow at the constant level required all the time, or for the Sun to shine throughout the night. No amount of improvement in Technology can make them supply the power on that 24/7/365 basis that is required absolutely.

If you believe that this move to a Renewable Energy electricity supply is the way of the future, then you are seriously deluded. You only need to look at real World data to see that.

This is not the way of the future. This is a plan for disaster on a grand scale.