A Rational Look at Renewable Energy

The implications of intermittent power

by Kimball Rasmussen, President and CEO, Deseret Power, November 2010, Edition 1.2

Download the complete PDF report. Here are the highlights:

Effectively, we end up building new fossil-fueled peaking power plants (usually natural gas) to back up the wind resources that were intended to eliminate fossil-fueled resources in the first place.

Wind power does not produce all of the claimed benefits of reductions in fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions when the fuel consumption and related emissions of the shadow grid of gas-fired resources are taken into account.

The national average performance through 2008, for all wind turbines in America, was a capacity factor of about 25 percent.9

It is true that devices have been invented to store bulk electric energy. These are all miniscule in scale, and expensive to acquire and operate.

Consumers want the power to be there the very instant that it is demanded.

A well-designed and situated solar project will typically provide available energy at about 20 percent. At this low availability, solar energy can never be more than a supplement to a larger portfolio of power generating resources.

The entire United States’ output of PV solar for the year 2009, was 807,988 MWh, about one-tenth of one percent of the U.S. nuclear output.

Solar is generally the most expensive form of renewable energy.

Every new wind-related job comes at the cost of 1.5 to 2.7 coal-related jobs.20

An RPS of 20 percent may sound harmless or benign, but just the opposite will likely occur. A Renewable Portfolio Standard of 20 percent can easily compel a utility to more than double its rate-base investment in generating plant with only modest increases in capacity and energy production.



Wind Energy

Fundamental Issue: Intermittency

Name-plate Rating versus Actual Energy Delivery

Wind is Weak at Peak

Texas California

The Pacific Northwest

The Western United States

Enter the “Twilight Zone”—A Control Area Nightmare

The Shadow Grid—The Fossil Fuel Stand-In for No Show Wind

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)

Increase in Carbon Dioxide from Wind Power—It is Possible?

Got Transmission? The Missing Cost Element

Technical Potential versus Economic Potential

The Electric Continental Divide

Wind Energy Storage—Not Ready for Primetime

Wind Turbines can Consume Electricity

The Hard Realities of Renewable Pricing

Value of Power—Demand versus Energy

Solar Energy

Not All Sunshine is Equal

How Expensive is PV Solar?

Large PV Solar

Concentrated Solar

Solar Demand versus System Peak

The Value of Solar Power—Demand versus Energy

The Solar Synopsis

Green Jobs—Will They Materialize as Promised?

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or How 20 Percent Can Easily Become 100 Percent of a Utility’s Plant Investment


Eyes Wide Open

1 thought on “A Rational Look at Renewable Energy”

  1. Really interesting article that explains very well the problems related to the world of renewable. However, it would be better to investigate, there is no doubt that electric and renewable energies have a much lower impact on the earth than fossil fuels.

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