If you are a regular reader here, you know that the big problem with so-called "green" or "renewable" energy sources -- we're talking wind and solar -- is that they don't work. Relying on energy sources that don't work is a big problem when you are trying to provide power for a big, sophisticated modern economy.
What does it mean that "they don't work"? It means first that you simply cannot run an electrical grid using just wind and solar energy sources, because they are incapable meeting the fundamental requirement of a grid, namely, matching production to user demand second by second. And "they don't work" also means that wind and solar are not helpful or even meaningful additions to existing electrical grids, because they require the availability of alternative energy sources -- backup generation or storage -- at all times and at huge duplicative cost. In short, they are useless. Oh, and they also threaten grid stability, particularly as you add more of them to a grid. So they are both useless and potentially destructive.
Unfortunately, basic engineering is not the strong suit of the religious environmental movement, nor of its acolytes in the media. And so, as atonement for our sins of having an industrial society, we must flagellate ourselves with more and more farms of wind turbines and solar panels. As these things come to cover the landscape, you can feel the excitement. Let's have a little roundup:
From Renewables Now, May 3: US utility and non-utility companies signed [a] record 3,500 MW of long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for wind power in the first quarter of 2018, shows a new report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The record-high quarterly volume, since AWEA started tracking such deals in 2013, was achieved due to the low cost of wind power, which has dropped by two-thirds since 2009, and stable energy prices. At present, wind is the most cost-effective source of new electricity in regions like the Great Plains and Texas, the trade association said.
And 2017 followed an equally strong 2016. From ThinkProgress, February 9, 2017: In [2016 in] the United States, wind power achieved its second strongest quarter ever, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), surpassing hydropower to become the largest source of renewable electricity capacity in the United States. Overall, wind capacity now ranks fourth in the United States, behind coal, natural gas, and nuclear. And in Europe? Wind also had a big year in Europe, with wind accounting for more than half of all new installed capacity for the first time ever. Renewable energy writ large accounted for nearly 90 percent of new power added in Europe last year, with 21.1 gigawatts of the total 24.5 new gigawatts installed coming from wind or solar, plus more controversial renewable technologies like biomass and hydropower.
And then there's India. From Clean Technica, April 17, 2018: Perhaps for the first time ever, [in 2017] India added more renewable renewable energy capacity in a calendar year than coal-based capacity. One of the fastest growing renewable energy markets achieved this feat last year. According to government data, India added 12.8 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity against just 4 gigawatts of net coal-based power capacity added in 2017. Renewable energy dominated the new capacity added in India with a massive share of 66%, up from 42% in 2016.
Undoubtedly, you have read many such pieces touting the impressive gains of the renewable energy sources. Surely then, these sources are surging toward an imminent takeover of the entire energy sector of the economy!
Unfortunately, to get any real information on this subject, you need to steer clear of the excited headlines of the advocacy journalists, and go look for some dry and boring aggregate data. For example, you might try the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2018. There, we find this chart:
Let's see now: Coal share of global power generation in 1997 -- 38%. Coal share of power generation 2017 -- 38%. Oil and gas share of power generation 1997 -- 25%. Oil and gas share of power generation 2017 -- 27%. Non-fossil fuel share of power generation 1997 -- 38%. Non-fossil fuel share of power generation 2017 -- 36%. Are you telling me that in this 20 year period of desperate expansion of wind and solar energy, the non-fossil fuel category actually lost market share to oil and gas, and also completely failed to gain on coal? Something's going badly wrong here! Joanne Nova has this quote from Graham Lloyd in the Australian, June 19 (summarizing the BP report):
Global demand for coal and gas to generate electricity was back on the rise last year …. Most striking [has] been the failure of renewable energy to make an impact on the fossil fuels share of power generation, BP group chief economist Spencer Dale said. “Despite the extraordinary (global) growth in renewables in recent years, and the huge policy efforts to encourage a shift away from coal into cleaner, lower carbon fuels, there has been almost no improvement in the power sector fuel mix over the past 20 years,” he said. The share of coal in the power sector in 1998 was 38 per cent, exactly the same as 2017. “The share of non-fossil fuel in 2017 is actually a little lower than it was 20 years ago, as the growth of renewables hasn’t offset the declining share of nuclear,” Mr Dale said.
I hope you're seeing the humor here. You just need to sit back and enjoy the ridiculous "green energy" follies. The world spends hundreds of billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars, blankets the countryside with wind turbines and solar panels, and accomplishes -- absolutely nothing! Let's go for another 20 years of this!
Saturday's post here reported the news that Germany is coming close to having had enough of this. And how about the province of Ontario, Canada? That's Canada's largest province, with more than a third of the country's population. They just held a provincial election on June 7. Prior to the election, the super-green Liberal Party held an absolute majority of 58 seats in the 107 seat provincial legislature. The Liberals and their leader Kathleen Wynne had taken the province into a cap-and-trade agreement with the likes of California and Quebec. Now? As of the recent election, the Progressive Conservatives have just won 76 seats of an expanded legislature of 124 -- plenty to control a majority. The Liberals won all of 7 seats -- so few that they have lost what they call up there "official party status." The new Premier, Progressive Conservative Doug Ford, pledges to exit the cap and trade agreement and to effect substantial lowering of energy prices.