Renewable energy - A Green Dream?
The delivery of renewable energy depends on the weather, but we need energy no matter what the weather is. Environmental organizations like renewable energy because it doesn't emit polluting smoke or carbon dioxide. Yet the same organizations hate nuclear energy, that doesn't emit polluting smoke or carbon dioxide either.

Renewable energy is more fantasy than reality.


Norman Rogers

January,  2021


All material herein is my own opinion. No cookies used.

Human Passion and Spiritual Need Drive Renewable Energy
A century ago, Vilfredo Pareto, a cynical Italian, in the spirt of Machiavelli, pointed out that men’s beliefs are more the result of passion than of logic. Renewable energy should be evaluated based on science and economics, but it has become an object of spiritual belief, part of what some thinkers call the Religion of Green.

No matter the facts, many people, inspired by passion, believe in expensive and impractical wind and solar energy. Extracting energy from wind and sunlight has a seductive appeal.

The three No's - Definition of Renewable Energy
Definitions are embedded in the laws of most states. Generally they follow the definition pushed by the Sierra Club. The three No's:
No Fossil Fuels
No Hydroelectricity if a Dam is Involved
No Nuclear

After the three No's you are left with a gaggle of niche energy sources, and wind and solar. Wind and solar are the only scalable energy sources that obey the three No's. You can have as much wind or solar as you are foolish enough to pay for.

Renewable energy is “grotesque”
James Hansen, the scientist most responsible for calling attention to the supposed global warming problem, denounced renewable energy as “grotesque" and "fantastical" in a Boston Globe op-ed. He has declared that nuclear energy is the only practical method for reducing CO2 emissions. Many other activists, like Michael Shellenberger and Stewart Brand, take the same position. These activists have noticed that wind and solar are totally impracticable instruments for reducing CO2 emissions because they are insanely expensive and can substitute for fossil fuels only to a limited extent.


The Erratic Energy of Texas Wind
Texas has a large, 18,000-megawatt, wind generation system, mostly in west Texas. Hour by hour output for 10-days of the Texas wind system is shown in the graph. Swings in wind power of 30% or 5,000 megawatts in a few hours are not unusual. A battery big enough to tide the Texas system over the low power spells experienced in 2016 would cost about a half trillion dollars, more than 10 times as much as the entire wind system cost.


Seasonality of Wind and Solar
The graph illustrates the seasonality of wind and solar power in the U.S. Wind power is strongest in the spring and falls to 60% of the spring value in the summer. Solar power is strongest in the summer and falls by nearly half in the winter. These are averages for the whole nation and a local system may have different behavior. This reinforces the necessity of fossil fuel backup for wind and solar.


Utility Scale Wind and Solar Electricity Cost 5-10 Times More
Existing fossil fuel plants cannot be replaced by wind or solar because they supply electricity when wind or solar don’t. The economic contribution of wind or solar is saving fuel in the backup fossil fuel plants. The value of the fuel saved is five times less than the cost of the wind or solar. As the penetration of wind and solar in the grid increases it becomes necessary to add storage batteries to the wind or solar, increasing the cost disparity to ten times.


The Rooftop Solar Scam - Everyone Else Pays
Rooftop solar, lacking economies of scale, generates electricity for approximately 25-cents per kilowatt hour. Subsidies and electricity banking may make rooftop solar competitive with utility power. With rooftop solar the utility loses almost all revenue and provides backup generation capability without compensation. Electricity banking in some jurisdictions forces the utility and taxpayers to substitute 25-cent power for 1.5-cent power. The cost of using more fuel in natural gas plants is 1.5 cents. Everyone else pays for the homeowner’s saving, if any. (The "bank" where electricity is stored for later use is an accounting fiction.)


In my opinion Apple makes a fake claim of using 100% renewable electricity.
Renewable energy producers can separately sell the electricity and a “renewable energy certificate.” Someone purchasing a certificate is allowed to claim to be using the amount of renewable energy represented by the certificate, even though the actual renewable electricity was sold to someone else. For example, Apple claims all its stores are powered by renewable energy but these stores necessarily take electricity from the local grid that in most places is mainly powered by coal and gas. Claims to be using 100% renewable energy are always bookkeeping tricks, a fact rarely revealed by boasting green organizations.


Wind and Solar have colossal subsidies
Wind and solar displace natural gas electricity from backup plants that costs far less per megawatt hour. A subsidy is typically provided by various government programs and higher electricity costs. The industry pretends that the subsidies are small and may soon be phased out.


The CO2 Reduction Fallacies
Displacing electricity from fossil fuels by wind or solar does reduce CO2 emissions, but the price is exorbitant, approximately $200 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions reduced. It is difficult to reduce emissions by more than 50 percent. Informed opinion demands nuclear for CO2 reduction. The CO2 problem, if there is one, is in Asia, not the U.S.


You can’t replace fossil fuels with wind and solar
Wind and solar generate electricity according to the weather. Sometimes they generate nothing or very little. A full fleet of dependable plants must be on standby to take over when the wind and solar die. In addition the backup fossil fuel plants, usually natural gas, smooth the erratic flow of electricity from wind or solar, filling in when wind and solar power is reduced.

The outstanding properties of combined cycle natural gas plants make them a natural candidate to fulfill these vital backup functions.


Hitting the Wind and Solar Wall
When solar electricity exceeds about 20 percent of the electricity in a grid, a big problem of too much electricity emerges. For wind the threshold is about 30 percent. This is because wind and solar are peaky, with large peak output compared to average output.

When the wall is reached, either the renewable electricity must be discarded, or else stored in batteries for later use. Discarding is not an option except in emergencies because there is usually a quota for renewable electricity. Batteries are horribly expensive and can double the cost of the electricity.


Wind and solar are not near grid parity
Wind or solar would reach grid parity if they were competitive with other fuels. The advocates claim that wind and solar are approaching grid parity by presenting a fake analysis. To reach grid parity wind or solar need to supply electricity for less than $15 per megawatt hour. $15 is the cost of generating the same megawatt hour with a backup natural gas plant. The backup plants cannot be eliminated or replaced because you can’t count on wind or solar. The only additional cost to use the backup plant. instread of wind or solar is the fuel that costs $15 to generate a megawatt hour. Either wind or solar cost from $80 to $300 per megawatt hour, not remotely close to $15, or grid parity.


Climate Justice - A Political Tool
The non-existent climate catastrophe becomes a tool for recruiting supporters of the Democratic Party if they can be convinced that they are being oppressed by the climate.


State Laws Mandate Renewables
So called renewable portfolio standards are state laws requiring that a certain percentage of electricity be from renewable sources. For example, California requires 60 percent by 2030. This guarantees a market for wind and solar electricity even though they cost at least 5 times as much as natural gas electricity.

The Wind and Solar Mafia
Wind and solar is a gigantic industry. At least $100 billion is entirely wasted each year on subsidies, overpriced electricity and dumb energy projects. The industry is a parasite sucking life from the economy. The waste will become much worse if states continue to pursue “renewable portfolio” goals for wind and solar electricity.

Many people and organizations have a stake in supporting the industry. Advice and intellectual support is provided by consulting firms and academic experts that are in on the racket. The mass media largely has no understanding of the real economics and thus act as dumb conduits for industry propaganda. The utilities are only too happy to build dumb energy projects as long as their electricity customers are mandated to pay for them.

Non-profit environmental organizations, always on the lookout for a new crisis to excite their patrons, embrace dumb energy for its phony environmental benefits. These organizations specialize in advocating policies of the loony tunes variety.


Insanely expensive batteries
If you keep adding wind or solar to the grid a point is reached when the grid can’t handle peak generation from wind or solar. A certain number of fossil fuel plants must be on line to regulate the grid, setting a maximum peak amount of wind or solar allowed. If wind or solar becomes too strong it has to be curtailed, meaning that the energy is effectively thrown away. State laws that force adding more wind or solar than is easily handled have forced utilities to supplement wind or solar with batteries, added to absorb peaks and move the power to a different time of day. The Gemini project near Las Vegas will cost $1.5 billion and generate electricity for about 10 times as much as using existing gas plants. The Gemini battery system will cost $500 million and the batteries will have to be replaced periodically at a cost of $300 million each time.


Coming: lithium battery fires
Lithium batteries are increasingly being added to wind and solar installations. These expensive batteries must be air conditioned. They store vast quantities of energy making for energetic fires. The battery proposed for the Las Vegas Gemini project costs $300 million and stores as much energy as 5-million (yes, 5-million) sticks of dynamite. Explosions are possible. At Surprise, Arizona a utility battery fire caused an explosion and injured 4 firefighters.

Nuclear: Practical renewable
The nuclear industry in the U.S. has been destroyed by hysterical environmentalists. But it is thriving in places like France, China and South Korea. Nuclear emits no CO2. Nuclear fuel is 3-times cheaper than natural gas and natural gas is very cheap. Nuclear has an excellent safety record and new generation reactors are even safer. Nuclear in the U.S. is not competitive currently with fossil fuels but it is less costly and more practical than wind or solar. The high cost of nuclear in the U.S. is due to legal attacks and over-regulation. For example, a small nuclear plant in the U.S. may have 500 employees, often pushing papers and implementing regulations, but the same size gas plant has 25 employees. Reform and pushback against environmental extremism is needed.

Wind and solar no help for blackouts
Wind and solar installations depend on the fossil fuel plants in the grid to establish synchronization with the grid. They can’t supply electricity on a stand-alone basis.

Kills birds, makes noise, blights landscape
Rural residents fight against wind farms that are forced on them by big companies. Birds can’t get out of the way of the rotors and are often killed. The low frequency noise bothers neighbors. The gigantic towers are installed on top of ridges to catch the best wind but this destroys views. A type of solar called thermal solar also kills birds by setting them on fire from intense solar energy focused by fields of mirrors. These wind and solar installations serve no useful purpose, being expensive energy and ineffective for reducing CO2 emissions.

Self-Interested Cheerleaders
Consulting and media firms such as Lazard renewable energy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Greentech Media, and many others make their living by promoting renewable energy. The same applies to the employees of the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory and various academic organizations. As a consequence, in my opinion, these organizations and their employees consistently present a biased view of the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy. Renewable energy is promoted by important non-profits like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Renewable energy skeptics are represented by individuals, or non-profit think tanks, like the Heartland Institute, The Institute for Energy Research and the CO2 Coalition. The promoters vastly outgun the skeptics as billions are spent each year on renewable energy. The Sierra Club alone has a budget exceeding $100 million as well as more than a million members. Lazard, for example, publishes a widely referenced levelized cost of energy analysis that purports to demonstrate the competitiveness of wind and solar. The analysis neglects the very important subsidy of tax equity financing and neglects the subsidy effect of renewable portfolio standards. Lazard's analysis also makes the elementary error of ignoring the effect of the erratic nature of wind and solar.

Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Quotes from the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign: "We want to close all US coal plants." "We support solutions like wind, solar, and geothermal." It is impossible to replace coal with the erratic generators wind and solar. Closed coal plants are replaced with natural gas plants. Geothermal is an expensive niche technology. Coal is safe, and modern plants are extremely clean. The Sierra Club makes hysterical claims to the effect that coal is killing thousands of people and damaging children. By photographing smokestacks with the sun behind the stack they create staged photos that make smokestacks emitting white "steam" look like they are emitting black smoke. The photo on the right is an example. The giveaway is the clear water vapor at the top of the stack before it mixes with the cool air and condenses into white steam. Undoubtedly the scare campaign energizes the Sierra Club base and brings in plenty of money. The nation wastes billions closing perfectly good coal plants.

The Renewable Energy Economic Sector
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 855,000 people are employed in the sector in the United States. Many are occupied with installing imported equipment to construct wind and solar farms. This is a parasitic sector proped up by subsidies and favorable legislation. These workers' salaries are financed by taxpapers and electricity consumers buying electricity for 5-times what it is worth. 855,000 workers constitute a potent political force. It will be difficult to rationalize this sector of the economy.

Why utilities love to build renewable energy plants
If the state public utility commission approves a renewable energy plant it does not matter if the cost of the renewable electricity is 5-times greater than using existing plants. As long as the public utility commission approves, the cost of the plant is passed to electricity consumers and the utility makes additional profit.

An outstanding and brief (only 131 pages) critique and summary of the many reasons that Wind and Solar Renewable Energy are NOT a Cost-Effective and Viable solution to our nation’s Grid and the world’s Energy Problems! It also defines the many needs to protect and modernize our nation’s vulnerable power grid.

Norman Rogers exposes the false “Illusion that Renewable Energy is Free or Cost-Effective” as perpetrated deliberately by special interests that hide its many real and costly subsidies as well as its limitations as a viable substitute for other technology power solutions.

From an Amazon review.