Electrical Power Statistics – Renewables Fail To Deliver – January 2011

Posted on Mon 05/02/2011 by


WIND POWER TOTAL POWER DELIVERY RATE – 7 hours per day on average for this Month.

SOLAR POWER TOTAL POWER DELIVERY RATE – 1 hour and 30 minutes per day on average for this Month.

WIND AND SOLAR PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL POWER – 2.45% of the total power consumed in the U.S. for this Month.


If you proceed down the path of placing a cost on the emissions of Carbon Dioxide, be it in the form of a Carbon Tax that is proposed for Australia, or the ultimate extension from that, an Emissions Trading Scheme, then what you see above will be the future, that being the limited availability of electrical power.

This entails the closing down of plants that emit CO2. The money raised from that Carbon (Dioxide) Tax or ETS, well part of it anyway, will be directed to the construction of more of these renewable power plants, supposedly to replace those large scale coal fired power plants.

Note the delivery of power for Wind power there, because currently, that is the direction most Countries are moving in.

See how every wind tower combined can only deliver its power for on average 7 hours a day. That is the Capacity Factor for all those wind towers. It can also be referred to as their Efficiency Rate, that being the efficiency of power delivery.

Each generator on top of those towers has a theoretical maximum power that they can deliver.

However, because of the variability of the wind, they are not running all the time producing that maximum power. While ever the wind blows, each tower is producing its maximum power.

While these figures are specifically for the U.S. they are indicative for all wind plants across the Planet, and in fact, the towers in the U.S. are currently providing power at a better Capacity Factor than others throughout the World.

Currently in the U.S. that Capacity Factor is 29.1% for the Month of January. The total for the whole of the year 2010 was 26%.

Worldwide, the average is closer to 20%.

Even on the best case scenario, the theoretical total is 38%, but so far very few plants anywhere are actually delivering that on a full time basis.

Even then, that best case of 38% means that they are only supplying their power for little more than one third of the time, and the reality is less than that on the overall basis, barely one fifth of the time, or for just under five hours a day.

As an exercise, walk out onto the street in front of your house. There’s your house, and one house either side of it. Which one house out of those three would you select to have all its electrical power requirements filled.

Look at a large City near you. Look at the huge buildings in that city. In the main, they are where people work. Only one in three will have its full power supplied.

Three Hospitals. Pick just one that will have its full power supplied to it.

Three places of work. Pick just one.

Three supermarkets. Pick just one.

Three shops. Pick one.

However, the reality is that all of them will still be connected to the grid. What it really means is that they will only have power available for one third of the time, at the absolute best.

You won’t get to select which eight hours either, because it will be sporadic in nature, and spread throughout the day, and the night while you all sleep.

That is what the future will look like in the mad rush to lower those CO2 emissions.

Now look at the total there for Solar Power, on average one and a half hours a day. A Capacity Factor of 6.35%

Well, that’s Winter you say, so you’d expect that.


Power for one and a half hours a day. Are you serious?

Consider this for perspective.

Every Solar Power plant in the U.S. delivered 43 Million KiloWattHours (KWH) of power to consumers for the whole 31 days of January.

That same amount of power was delivered by ONE large scale coal fired power plant in, and wait for it, 21 hours.

We are told that this is the way of the future, and if so, then the future looks black, literally, as all the lights go out.

While these figures are for the depths of Winter, the overall total for the whole year came in at only 16.3%, which is a little less than four hours a day. The Current Worldwide average is between 12 and 15% Capacity Factor for all Solar Power.

Some people in favour of Solar Power have even told us that there is such a thing as (what they refer to it as) Solar Baseload. This in reality is Concentrating Solar Power, also referred to as Solar Thermal Power.

Look back at the figure for Solar Power above, that of 6.35% or one and a half hours a day.

Half of the Solar plants in the U.S. providing that total are these Concentrating Solar Plants, supposedly able to provide their power on that full 24/7/365 basis, and still the total is only 6.35% or one and a half hours a day.

This is not the future. This is absolute madness.

So then, what actually IS happening in the real World of power delivery?

Even with the ramping up of construction of those renewable power plants, not one large scale coal fired plant has closed down.

Not one.

In fact, they are actually supplying more power than they have in the past.

Smaller coal fired plants that operated during the peaking power periods of time are closing down, so there is a small, almost negligible reduction in CO2 emissions from the coal fired sector.

However, offsetting that, there has been a considerable increase in the consumption of Natural Gas, because now, those plants which traditionally have only operated during those peaking power periods of time are now being tasked with working for longer periods of time to make up that overall total that is required for the absolute total of all power provided to every consumer. These natural gas fired plants only emit one third of the CO2 of equivalent sized coal fired plants, and even so, the increase in CO2 emissions from these Natural Gas plants has increased by more than the closing of those smaller coal fired plants, as overall CO2 emissions for the whole of 2010 showed, increasing by 201 million tons to an overall total of 3.27 Billion tons, and that’s just for the U.S.

Luckily, we do have access to almost real time power consumption totals, and here we can be thankful, because only the U.S. can actually do this on such a short lead time as this, three months, because no other Country on Earth does something like this.

So, what did power consumption look like for January of 2011?


This chart shows the overall power consumption totals from the energy source. This chart is not for the month of January, but for the overall consumption for this year 2011 to date. If you click on this image, it will open on a new page and will be a larger image.

The overall total power consumption for January rose by almost 1 % when compared to January 2010, making this the largest January consumption total on record, so it seems that all that rhetoric about having to consume less electrical power for the sake of the Environment is quite obviously falling on deaf ears.

There was an increase in power delivered from Hydro Electric plants, mainly because of the runoff from huge snowfalls in the Mountains into existing hydro plants. Coal fired power delivered approximately the same power as it did for January 2010. Those Nuclear Power plants also delivered huge amounts of power, a little more than for January 2010, and in fact all of them running at an almost unbelievable Capacity Factor of 95.4%, and compare that to the efficiency of Wind and solar power plants.

Consider this for perspective then. The total power delivered from every solar plant in the U.S. was delivered by all those Nuclear power plants in 51 seconds.

However, following the recent trend, there was an increase in the power delivered from those Natural Gas fired plants.


When compared with last January, the coal fired sector delivered slightly less power, and consumed slightly less coal, hence emitting a smaller amount of CO2, and as encouraging for those believers in renewable power this might be, emissions of CO2 for January still totalled 260 million tons.

As the Winter months, and the Summer months are periods of high demand, then it is important that those large scale coal fired plants be all working at their capacity, because, other than for those Nuclear power plants, these are the only ones that can provide their power for that absolute requirement of 24/7/365, so all those large scale coal fired plants are working to their maximum capacity.


This sector slightly increased its delivery power when compared with Jan2010, while in the process consuming slightly less Natural Gas, and that may sound anomalous. It is due mainly because newer technology plants can produce more electricity while burning less Gas.

The fact that they increased the power they delivered is however the important point here because they are being tasked to work for longer hours because of the variability of Wind Power. An absolute requirement is needed at each and every grid, and if wind power only is relied upon to keep it at that level, then if the wind stops blowing the power falls away dramatically, overloading other plants connected to the grids, and causing them to shut down from that overload situation. This may result in brown outs and even blackouts. So, to cover that possibility those gas fired plants are kept running, but not delivering power, so that if the wind does fail, then those natural gas fired plants can instantly be there to take up what the wind fails to deliver.

Overall, CO2 emissions from this natural gas fired sector amounted to 34.3 Million tons.


While there was an increase in power delivered from the renewable sector, that needs to be kept in context with coming from such a tiny base.

Wind and Solar still only delivered 2.45% of the overall total power consumed, which is around the same as for the whole of 2010.


With the data from this sector, people get a little carried away with percentage increases when total power delivery does increase. What needs to be kept in perspective here is the actual increase, and as an example, consider this.

Looked at in isolation the percentage increase in Wind delivery over Jan2010 comes in at 27%

For the Natural Gas sector that increase comes in at 0.7%

So, it could be said that Wind power increased its delivery compared to natural gas by a factor of 40.

However, actual power delivery show the increase coming in at only 4 times greater.

See that discrepancy.

Wind is coming from such a small base that any increase ‘seems’ larger than it really is.

I mentioned above that the U.S. currently has 41,000MW of installed Nameplate Capacity for wind towers.

That is the equivalent of 22 large scale coal fired power plants.

From this, we can do a direct comparison between power delivered from all those wind towers compared to those equivalent 22 coal fired power plants.

On the figures for this January, those 22 equivalent coal fired power plants would deliver 3.4 times the power of all those wind towers. Those coal fired plants will do this on the absolute requirement of 24/7/365 while the wind towers can only manage 7 hours a day.

So, while friends of the wind will think that their plants are delivering, the absolute truth is that they are not delivering power for the absolute requirement.


In a way, this is a purely academic exercise, because these plants only delivered 0.01% of all power consumed in the U.S.

However what is worth pointing out here is that the total Nameplate Capacity for all Solar plants in the U.S. is 910 MW, which on the surface ‘seems’ relatively large, well, about the size of one average mid sized coal fired power plant, so we could compare the power delivered by that one coal fired plant with all the Solar Plants.

That one medium sized Coal fired plant would have delivered 16 times as much power to consumers and it would have delivered it for every minute during the month, while all these solar plants barely managed one and a half hours a day.

What is even more worthwhile looking at is that half of those solar plants are in fact Concentrating Solar plants, those plants that friends of the Sun will tell you can actually deliver Base load power, which immediately tells me that these people have no concept whatsoever what a Base Load requirement is.


Look again at this diagram, and I will never stop showing it. This is an electrical power Load Curve.

This shows actual power consumption across the U.S. It’s basically the same wherever you are, in a big city, in a small town, in an urban environment, in a regional or rural area. This chart is basically the same in all parts of Australia, as well as throughout the Developed Western World where there is a secure, stable, constant and regular power supply to all consumers.

It shows the actual power consumption.

Across the page are shown the hours in the day, starting at Midnight and going through to Midnight.

Up the page is the percentage of total power required during those periods of time.

The yellow line is the power consumption during Summer Months, and the blue line is power consumption during the Winter Months.

However, by far the most important thing shown on this seemingly simple chart is that dark line through the graph.

What that shows and shows most dramatically is that for all electrical power being generated from every source, at least 60 to 65% of it is required for the full 24 hours of every day ….. EVERY DAY.

Now look again at how those renewable power plants deliver their power.

Wind, for January – 7 hours a day, and over a 12 month period just over 6 hours a day.

Solar, for January – 1.5 hours a day, and over a 12 month period, less than 4 hours a day.

Wind Power and Solar Power will never replace the absolute requirement for electrical power that Coal Fired Power Plants are already providing.

Those people who mistakenly believe that it can, and that a Base Load power requirement can be provided from renewable sources have no comprehension whatsoever just what a Base Load requirement is.

They can call for the closing down of coal fired power plants all they like, but until they are aware of what that will lead to, they are blindly leading us down the path to a future where electrical power as we know it now just will not exist.

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, 2011, to date.