Biden’s Bonanza: Poor Will Suffer Most From Democrats Wind & Solar Obsession

Joe Biden’s plan to carpet America wall-to-wall with 60,000 wind turbines and millions of solar panels comes with a staggering cost, and it’s America’s poor that will pay the heaviest price for the Democrat’s delusional energy policy.

The only thing guaranteed about subsidising wind and solar is rocketing power prices and unreliable electricity. Ask a German, Dane or South Australian.

In a country still reeling from the economic havoc caused by political responses to the coronavirus, the last thing Americans need is to increase the cost of living and doing business.

But that’s precisely what’s coming, as Brian Leyland and Tom Harris contend below.

Bryan Leyland MSc, DistFEngNZ, FIMechE, FIEE (rtd), MRSNZ, is a Power Systems engineer with more than 60 years’ experience in New Zealand and overseas. Tom Harris, M. Eng, is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

Biden’s Energy Plans Are Expensive—and Dangerous
PJ Media
Brian Leyland and Tom Harris
19 December 2020

Joe Biden wants the electric grid of the United States to be powered solely by energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide by 2035. In the Unity Task Force plan that the former vice-president released with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the commitment is made that:

Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 made-in-America wind turbines.

Overhauling the entire electric grid, which some call the world’s largest machine, and converting much of it to wind and solar power, is not just a momentous task. It is both dangerous and unbelievably expensive. The only reason Biden has been able to get away with such a preposterous plan is that many people actually believe that wind and solar power are cheaper than fossil fuel-powered generation. They conclude that a transition to a system supplied by wind and solar power will reduce consumer costs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead of blindly accepting the Biden/Sanders energy fantasy, the public should ask the obvious question: “If wind and solar are so cheap, then why do they still need direct and indirect subsidies?”

The fact is that they are not cheap at all once all the costs that they impose on the power system are taken into account. Let’s examine this more closely.

Wind and solar power are intermittent and unpredictable and must be backed up by existing or new power stations or storage facilities that can rapidly change output to compensate for the fluctuating supplies from wind and solar power. That usually means natural gas back-up stations. Even environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told the 2010 annual conference of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association:

For all of these big utility scale power plants, whether it’s wind or solar, everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. The plants that we’re building, the wind plants and the solar plants are [supported by] gas plants.

Other problems are the need for inertia (flywheel effect) that is required to stabilize the system frequency and for voltage support to stop the lights going dim. Both of these are provided by conventional generators but not by wind and solar power.

For various reasons, 1,000 kilowatts (kW) of wind or solar power seldom produces more than 800 kW. On average, wind produces about one-third of its theoretical energy output (measured in kilowatt-hours – kWh) and solar power less than one-sixth. As a result, much more installed capacity plus energy storage facilities are needed to match the output of a conventional 1,000 kW station. It is the cost of this extra capacity and energy storage that kills the economics of wind and solar power.

One way of establishing the real cost of wind and solar power is to compare the cost of supplying all the electricity needed by a system with no connections to other power systems. Let’s consider the cost of supplying all the electricity needed by a power system with a peak demand of 4,000 megawatts (MW) and an energy demand of 19,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which is typical of most power systems.

We start by assuming that five days of storage would be needed to cover a series of cloudy days in winter or five days of little wind. So, we need to calculate the costs associated with storage by batteries or by hydro-pumped storage (in which excess power is used to pump water into a reservoir which then drains through hydraulic turbines producing electricity when the primary system lacks sufficient power to supply the grid). One then discovers that the solar power option would need 16,000 MW of solar capacity + 9,000 MW of battery capacity and the all-in cost would be 38 US¢/kWh. The wind power option would need 7,000 MW of wind and 2,250 MW of storage capacity to give a final cost of 34¢/kWh.

For comparison, the typical North American cost for combined-cycle natural gas generation is 5¢/kWh.

The solar option would occupy about 650 square miles of land and the wind option would occupy over 1,600 square miles. The environmental effects cannot be ignored. In many countries, the pumped storage option is likely to be opposed by environmentalists and it may not be feasible anyway because of the lack of sites that can accommodate two large storage lakes a short distance apart with one several hundred meters above the other.

The reality is that Biden’s ambitions for large-scale, low-cost solar or wind power cannot possibly be achieved by 2035, or even 2050, because of the huge numbers of wind turbines and solar farms and new transmission capacity that would be needed, and the very high cost and the associated technical and environmental problems. At the moment, and after the expenditure of billions of dollars in subsidies, solar and wind power provide only 8% of U.S. electricity.

If governments persist, the inevitable result will be skyrocketing prices and regular blackouts. Hospitals, industry, and commerce would need to install hundreds of diesel generators to maintain operations.

The assumptions made to derive the real cost of supplying 4,000 MW of demand from wind or solar power are as follows:

  • A 1,000 watt ‘W’ solar cell has an average output of about 150 W, so 16,000 MW of solar power is needed to supply all the energy required by the 4,000 MW load and to compensate for the 25% losses in the energy storage system.
  • As a 1,000 W solar cell seldom produces more than 800 W, the effective maximum output of 16,000 MW of solar is 13,000 MW.
  • As the load on the power system can only absorb 4,000 MW, the storage system must be able to absorb the remaining 9,000 MW.

The storage capacity has to be able to provide 264 GWh needed in wintertime when there are likely to be five days of cloudy weather and the solar output is negligible. At the current $US200/kWh this amounts to over $US 50 billion. By way of comparison, the largest battery in the world at Hornsdale in Australia can store 130 MWh. Two thousand of them would be needed to store the 264,000 MWh needed for a reliable supply to the 4,000 MW load. This battery capacity is equivalent to all the batteries in all the electric cars in the world.

The conclusion is that about 25,000 MW of solar plus storage capacity is needed to supply the 4,000 MW demand! If batteries are used to provide five days of storage, the total cost is in the region of $70 billion, which explains the very high cost of providing a reliable supply from solar power.

Wind power that has an average output of 35% of its installed capacity is better but does not lead to a large reduction in price because the battery cost dominates.

Solar power with hydro-pumped storage is less expensive—an overall cost of 23¢/kWh, but still almost five-times the cost in the U.S. for combined-cycle natural gas generation. But hydro-pumped storage is impractical in most areas for the reason cited above.

From a greenhouse gas point of view, wind and solar power are horribly expensive. Carbon dioxide emissions are currently valued at about $30/tonne while calculations show that the carbon dioxide avoided by policy focused on wind and solar power would cost more than $1,400 per tonne.

When all the options are examined, the conclusion is that the best way to eliminate emissions of carbon dioxide from power generation is safe and reliable nuclear power supplemented by a relatively small amount of pumped storage. So, at least Biden’s support for nuclear and hydropower makes sense. But don’t expect ant-nuclear activists in the extreme left of the Democratic Party to allow this to happen.

The power disaster unfolding in California gives a good preview of what is in store for America as a whole if Biden succeeds in his goal of sweeping away fossil fuel-generated power and replacing it with wind and solar. Power outages are now commonplace in the Golden State, which suffered its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last summer. Indeed, with 4,297 power outages between 2008 and 2017, California led the nation in this category (Texas was a distant second with 1,603).

Governor Newsom admitted that there was not enough wind power to compensate for the drop in solar power due to cloud cover and nightfall. The Los Angeles Times reported:

… gas-burning power plants that can fire up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing have been shutting down in recent years, and California has largely failed to replace them …

The result is that California has fallen thousands of megawatts behind its needs.

Joe Biden said in his climate change plan:

Getting to a 100% clean energy economy is not only an obligation, it’s an opportunity. We should fully adopt a clean energy future, not just for all of us today, but for our children and grandchildren, so their tomorrow is healthier, safer, and more just.

If Biden actually does what he tells us he plans to do, life will be dismal indeed for our children and grandchildren. It will be a highly unjust future in which all those except the wealthy will lack the energy to be healthy and safe and will simply be left freezing in the dark.

The technical report and data to support our computations are available on the website of the senior author of this article at http://www.bryanleyland.co.nz/cost-of-wind-and-solar-power.html
PJ Media

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. The impact of all these projects is covered by the term “energy sprawl” and it’s got little to do with respecting nature. Mixing social justice with environmentalism is also a farce, as the downtrodden are very destructive in large numbers. The homeless are some of the worst litterers and stream foulers.

    People need to realize that Mark Jacobson’s “100% Renewable Energy” plan has been technically debunked, and not just on his failure to account for unrealistic hydroelectric dam capacity. His plan is still what gives the Green New Deal its momentum. It needs a lot more media scrutiny.

    https://falseprogress.home.blog/2020/11/12/hey-joe-biden-where-you-gonna-put-60000-more-wind-turbines/

  2. ronaldsteinptsadvancecom says:

    Biden should help clean up the developing world’s exotic mining tragedy. The enormous amounts of money being allocated for solar and wind — and the never-ending extensions of the tax credits for them — shows that energy policies in Washington and California continues to support the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities in the foreign countries that are supplying the exotic minerals and metals to support wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries.

    https://www.cfact.org/2021/01/09/biden-should-help-clean-up-the-developing-worlds-exotic-mining-tragedy/

    • Peter Pronczak says:

      Controllers of first world countries are not in the least interested in helping third world countries (all lower classes are 3rd world now). Read Washington Bullets by Vijay Prashad 2020 & his earlier book The Darker Nations 2007, along with The Wealth of Some Nations: Imperialism and the Mechanics of Value Transfer by Zak Cope 2019.
      A control example is Haiti that years ago was self-sufficient in rice, but having been manipulated, now imports it all. Port-au-Prince was NGO central after the 2010 earthquake, but along with the media they all ran after the next shiny story; miners trapped in South America, leaving tent city to dysentery & Chikungunya; it’s still being rebuilt. Even in 1969 it catered to high end tourism with its cheap labour; not a public toilet in town, the memory of such down-trodden people has stayed with me.

      The UN is powerless to do anything as its rules have not changed since more countries have joined. Besides, a spreadsheet of members, those under the World Bank, IMF, FSB EU and NATO, shows how biased the UN, ICC and others are, just as STT has presented evidence against IPCC and the RE industry that is nothing more than wealth transfer from wage slavery.

  3. One of the few positives to come out of the US Election ‘Fix’, in my opinion, is how Trump has exposed the left wing bias of the Silicon Valley big tech giants. They are quite simply censoring free speech on a MASSIVE scale! But they have forgotten how ‘it looks’ from the outside, as indeed have the Democratic Party. And it doesn’t ‘look’ good! I will most certainly NOT be joining Twitter, or Facebook. But thanks to Trump, my questions as to whether there are more Conservative social media sites online are now being answered. I didn’t even know about the likes of Parler or Gab.com until Trump got banned! So thank you Donald. But there is much research still to do. I think the days of media dominance by the likes of Twitter and Facebook are now well and truly numbered.

    Has the big tech push back now begun?

    • In addition to Malthusian philosophy, consider this quote from adherent Lord Bertrand Russell (among others, & STT comment 2020/07/13): he wrote in a 1931 book, The Scientific Outlook, where he had a chapter devoted to education in a scientific society. He said, “The scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women (that would apply to most), and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual thoughtless, and contented. Of these qualities, probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the remedies of psychoanalysis, behaviourism, and biochemistry will be brought into play. All the boys and girls will learn from an early age to be what is called ‘cooperative’; i.e., to do exactly what everybody is doing. Initiative will be discouraged in these children; insubordination without punishment will be scientifically trained out of them.”
      Professor Carroll Quigley addressed western consolidation in his book The Anglo-American Establishment 2013. So many organisations are interlinked. The World Bank is USA’s and the IMF is Britain’s, France and Germany’s, but like the BIS and FSB they all work toward the same end.

      Historically, successful political revolutions have resulted in the bourgeoisie changing the political balance to protect their own interests and it starts all over again. These days, due to the above, and international financial control, there are only superficial changes. Social media has done more to fragment society than unite it in a common cause – A coincidence?
      The only good Trump did was get out of the carbon accord.

  4. Peter Pronczak says:

    Welcome to nufeudalism, after 30 years of earnest progress. Joe Biden as President will be working for Elon Musk and his ilk – capitalist democracy; making the rich richer at the expense of the majority, was designed to hide the lies and manipulation, eg., At the Senate inquiry into the Financial Crisis Management (and other measures) Bill 2018, enacted 2019 & backdated as an Act 2018, as are all after royal assent. APRA chair Wayne Byers went to lengths avoiding a direct answer to the question; Under Definitions, Section 11CAA (b) any other instrument, does it mean bank deposit bail-in? Byers, “It is not the intention of the legislation.” Meaning the possibility exists. Bail-in was first practiced in Cyprus 2013. Byers was at the Bank of International Settlements in the same building as the Financial Stability Board (controls Reserve Bank financial policy). Both BIS and FSB were designing the Act since about 2009 (after avoidable ongoing GFC) and it is common to Commonwealth Countries (& Western) except India who refused it. Under the Act, it is at APRA’s discretion if the $250K deposit guarantee is activated. There are also severe penalties for anyone disclosing a failing Authorised Deposit taking Institute (bank, etc) has been taken over by APRA – being locked out of deposits or automatic payments will be found out soon enough.

    At the end of the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission Final report: Standing offer prices for the supply of electricity to small customers from 1 July 2017 (valid to 2020), after a lengthy complex formula, in Appendix 4, Derivation of the hedging cost, is the following explanation: “That is, the cost of hedging in dollars per MWh is equal to the forward price multiplied by an uplift factor, the term in the square brackets. The uplift factor is a weighted average of the load ratio and the load shape, where the weight on the load ratio is equal to the forward premium and the weight on the load shape is equal to 1 minus the forward premium. The load shape component can be interpreted as capturing the effect of load on spot prices which in turn increases the cost of hedging. The load ratio component can be interpreted as allowing for an extreme effect and its impact will depend on the choice of the LR for the calculation.”

    If you got all that you can check you bill is correct, otherwise, trust government.
    A given is that ‘independent’ means privately run.
    But look on the bright side, all unclaimed superannuation (a deserved deferred pay rise) goes into Government coffers to pay for other things.

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