Renewable Power Fail – As Usual – December 2010

Posted on Thu 04/07/2011 by



That might seem to be a bold statement, but that is real truth of the matter, and these statistics bear that out. It could be an aberration for the statistics for one Month, but to cover that contingency, I have purposely taken the statistics for a whole 12 month period.

This is not just a small percentage increase in those CO2 emissions, but an increase far above the overall percentage increase in total power consumption across the whole of the U.S. While overall total power consumption for the year increased by 4.3%, CO2 emissions increased by 6.7%. When expressed as a percentage that figure ‘seems’ relatively small, but when expressed as a number it is in fact quite large.

That number is 201 Million tons, and read that again, because it’s not a misprint, and it’s not the overall total emissions, but just the INCREASE.

201 Million tons increase in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions.

Overall, in the U.S. for the whole of the year 2010, and just from the generation of electrical power, the U.S. emitted 3.27 Billion tons of CO2.

You may wonder how I can say this with such precision. It is in fact something that can be very easily calculated.

The table at this link from the U.S. Government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows exactly how much coal was burned during the year in all of those coal fired power plants across the U.S.

That figure totals out at 979,555,000 tons, yes, almost one billion tons of coal burned just to produce the electricity we all consume in every aspect of our daily lives. That figure is shown in the left column for the Total for the year 2010, and that figure there is expressed in Thousands of tons.

While individual coal types emit differing levels of CO2, the average multiplier for CO2 emissions for every one ton of coal burnt is 2.86 tons of CO2 per one ton of coal. That is explained at this link, and at that Post are further links to how that is explained, again from the Government’s own EIA site.

That being the case, then using that average multiplier of 2.86, then total emissions from the coal fired sector come in at 2.8 Billion tons.

That’s just from the coal fired sector. The Natural Gas fired sector also emits CO2, and that can also be easily calculated. Each mcf (thousand cubic feet) of Natural Gas burned produces 122 Pounds of CO2.

As the table at this link shows how much natural gas was burned to produce electrical power, and that figure comes in at 7.633 Billion mcf, so using the multiplier for this, the total emissions from this Natural Gas fired power plant sector come in at 470 Million tons.

When you add that total to the emissions from the coal fired sector, the total for CO2 emissions for the year 2010 come in at 3.27 Billion tons.

The numbers are just so huge, that it becomes difficult to comprehend them, and because of that, some people may even tend to discount them as being false, but they are absolutely true.

You can see from both of those tables that consumption both for coal and Natural Gas rose considerably for the year.

There was also an increase in the power produced from Renewable power plants, and while you can express that figure as a percentage, and that percentage may ‘seem’ large, the actual figures for power are in fact not all that much, and need to be taken in context with the increase in other sectors as well.

As I have explained previously, and often, what needs to be looked at here is not the total increase in the Nameplate Capacity, (or the numbers of those wind towers and plants) which gives a false impression of increasing by a large amount, you need to be cognizant of only one thing, the actual power delivered to the grids for consumption by all users of electrical power.

That increase of power delivered from the two main areas of renewable power that are increasing in numbers, (Wind Power, and both forms of Solar Power) show that the increase in percentage figures was 28%, and expressed like that, it does actually ‘seem’ to be quite a large increase.

However, the actual increase was 21.1 Billion KiloWattHours (KWH) and for those reading this who have only a small understanding of electrical power, that number looks to be quite large.

So, to add some context, let’s then look at other areas of power generation to see how much they increased in actual power supplied.

For Nuclear Power, that sector increased the power it delivered to consumers 8.1 Billion KWH, and no new Nuclear power plants have been constructed for nearly 30 years now, and yet they increased the power they delivered to consumers.

In the Natural Gas sector, the increase in power delivered was 61 Billion KWH, three times the total for the renewable sector.

In the coal fired sector, the increase in power delivered to consumers was 95 Billion KWH, nearly five times the increase in renewable power delivered, and that needs to be taken in the context that not only are no new large scale coal fired plants being constructed, but smaller and medium scale plants are being closed down.

What is even more of a startling figure is the increase in total power supplied to all U.S. consumers from those two renewables of choice, wind and solar.

The amount of power they supplied to all consumers rose in the whole year from 1.89% to 2.32%, an increase of only 0.43%, less than half of one percent.

This is not manipulation of data in any way. These are the facts from the Government’s own source.

When this data is explained to you, it becomes patently obvious that renewable power is not only NOT taking over, and resulting in lower emissions of CO2, but in fact, the exact opposite is happening.

CO2 emissions are increasing, and not by a small amount that may be an aberration, but by large amounts.


This chart shows the overall power consumption totals from the energy source. This chart is not for the month of December, but for the overall consumption for this year 2010 to date. If you click on this image, it will open on a new page and will be a larger image.

The first Month of Winter shows a marked increase in the overall consumption of electrical power. That increase when compared to previous years shows that for this December just gone Americans consumed more electrical power than for December in any other year since records started being published. It shines a spotlight on calls for cutbacks in consumption of electrical power, if we are to cut back on emissions of CO2.

Now that the totals are in for the whole year, this year 2010 showed the second highest consumption of electrical power in U.S. history, so it would seem that calls for responsible use of electrical power are falling on deaf ears.

While more and more renewable power plants are being brought on line, consumption from that area is also rising, but only at a fraction of the percentage rate of the overall increase, and as that renewable sector supplies just a small percentage of the total, that increase is barely enough to even register.

What is interesting here is that those plants that can actually supply large scale power on a 24/7/365 basis in fact provided more power than they usually do. In fact Nuclear power showed it delivered more power for this month than in all but two months they have been in use, and no new Nuclear power plant has been constructed for nigh on thirty years. In fact those Nuclear Power plants delivered their power at a truly astounding Capacity Factor of 96.6%, meaning that virtually every plant in the Country was running at its absolute maximum. This is an amazing statistic of itself, because it shows graphically that when excessive amounts of power are required on an absolute basis, these plants are the only ones that can actually deliver that.


The percentage of power supplied from the coal fired sector rose by 5.5% over the whole year while total power consumption increased by only 4.3%. No new large scale coal fired plants have been constructed, and in fact, quite a few small and medium scale older plants have in fact closed down as they have reached the end of their operating lives. This effectively means that those existing coal fired plants are working for longer periods of time than they previously have. That might be understandable with an increase in overall consumption, but here we have a case where this increase is greater than that overall increase.

Because of that overall increase, there was also a large increase in CO2 emissions from this sector, as I mentioned above.

When taken in conjunction with the increase in Nuclear power delivery, it shows graphically that when power is required on that absolute basis, only these two types of plant can provide that.


Again, this sector increased markedly over previous December totals, but what is most startling here is the overall total for the year. The power delivered from this sector increased by almost 7%, and that also resulted in increased emissions as I mentioned above.

While these plants typically supply power for the Peaking Power period of time, and they are the best type of plant for this purpose, this quite large increase shows that they also are working for longer periods of time


While the overall total power consumption for the whole of the U.S. increased by 18% when compared with November, the amount of power delivered from both areas of the renewable power actually fell by 11%. While every other sector increased its delivered power, the renewable sector fell, and fell considerably. While those other three sectors decrease in numbers, (coal and gas) or remain the same (nuclear) and deliver more power, these renewables are actually increasing in numbers, and are in fact supplying less power.

While Nuclear power increased its yearly total by 1.2%, Coal by 4.8%, gas by 7%, the amount of power delivered from these two main renewables rose from 1.89% to 2.32%, less than half of one percent, while more and more of them are brought on line.


In isolation, Wind power fell away dramatically for this month when compared to its good month in November. For the overall year, wind power did increase the power it delivered, understandably, because many more of those towers came on line delivering their power. That being said, they still performed poorly, and the statistics bear this out.

Currently there is 41,000 MW of Nameplate Capacity for wind towers, and when compared to large scale coal fired power plants, that’s the equivalent of 22 of them, which in fact is quite a substantial amount.

However, what needs to be looked at here is not the amount of them, but the power that they actually deliver for consumers.

For that month of December, the theoretical total if they were to operate at their maximum capacity would be 30.5 Billion KWH. The actual power the delivered was 8.83 Billion KWH. This means that they have a Capacity factor for the Month of 29%.

When calculated for the whole year, that capacity rate comes in at 26%.

That’s better than the current World average of 20%, mainly because the U.S. towers are the latest technology, hence more efficient, but this yearly figure of 26% is still markedly less than the claimed 35% Capacity Factor.

Those equivalent 22 large scale coal fired plants would have delivered more than three times the power over the whole month, and almost four times as much power over the whole year.


As you might expect with Solar Power, they would be virtually useless in Winter, but that’s not the point. We are told that this is the way of the future, and that these plants should be constructed in greater numbers if we are to cut back on those CO2 emissions.

For this month, every Solar Power plant in the Country delivered 0.01% of the power consumed in the whole of America.

The Capacity factor for this month was 5.5%, effectively meaning that every solar plant in the Country was supplying its power for just on 1 hour and ten minutes of each day, over the whole month.

An equivalent coal fired plant of the same size as every solar plant added together would have supplied 18 times the power.


For this month, it is again patently obvious that when electrical power is needed the most, during the cold weather of Winter, those renewable power plants again show that they are not only incapable of delivering that increase in power, they in fact supply less power, while every other sector increases the power they supply for all consumers.

When looked at over the whole 12 month period, again it is obvious that when power is required, it is only those traditional suppliers can actually deliver that power.

Even with the increase in numbers of those renewable power plants, especially the almost exponential increase in construction of wind towers, CO2 emissions are rising, and rising by large amounts.

Again, why is that?

Those renewable power plants cannot deliver power for when it is needed.

65% of all electrical power is required ABSOLUTELY, for 24/7/365, and not one of those renewable plants can deliver power on that basis.

The remaining power is consumed during specific times, and this is referred to as Peaking Power. This is required for a couple of hours in the early mornings 6AM to 9AM, and from 4PM until Midnight. It is required exactly for those times.

Again, those renewable plants cannot deliver that power for specifically when it is needed.

So, while those renewable plants actually do provide power to the grids, actual power consumption is required for specific periods. Because of that, those Natural Gas fired plants especially are required to work for longer periods of time, because if renewable power was relied upon solely to provide that power, then as soon as the wind failed, or the Sun set, then power drops dramatically, and if those renewables are an integral part of that mix, then the result will be brown outs and blackouts as the grid for that area crashes. So, to cover every contingency, then those Natural Gas fired plants especially have to work harder and longer so that power is always available at the grid to cover actual consumption by all users.

So, while it may actually ‘seem’ that renewables are increasing at an almost exponential rate, and at enormous expense, that money is in fact being wasted on a technology that not only does not deliver power, but is leading to an increase in CO2 emissions, exactly the opposite of what we are being told it will do.

Once again, and I will never stop saying this:


The links to the data I have used above are all from the U.S. Government’s own site the Energy Information Administration. (EIA) They Post this data on a monthly basis for data three months past.

Overall Electrical Power Generation

Renewable Power Generation

Coal Consumption for Electrical Power Generation

Natural Gas Consumption for Electrical Power Generation

This post adds a further link to the earlier posts for this year. They are available at this permanent link. At this link I have the statistics for each month of this year, 2010, to date.