Banquet of Consequences: Time to Force Wind & Solar Worshippers to Rely Exclusively on Sunshine & Breezes

Anyone railing against nuclear, coal or gas-fired power hasn’t been forced to rely exclusively on hopelessly unreliable wind and solar. The anti-fossil fuel crowd are, of course, hypocritical and the anti-CO2/anti-nuclear mob are the most hypocritical of all.

For those claiming they’re quite happy to do without coal and gas, wait till one of their loved ones lands in ICU, then tell them that the machines will only go “bing”, when either the sun’s at its zenith in a cloudless sky and/or the wind is blowing just right, and wait for the howls of protest and indignation.

The production and consumption of electricity is, after all, a “here and now”, kind of thing. A megawatt when we don’t need it, is simply a waste but, sometimes, a kilowatt makes all the difference. It’s time to spend some time hanging around in an ICU, if you still think otherwise.

Ross McKittrick picks up the theme below, in riposte to a group of eco-loons from Toronto, who reckon it’s time the province gave up natural gas, for good.

Natural gas is vital to fuelling Ontario
Financial Post
Ross McKitrick
2 February 2021

Environmentalists are urging Toronto to join 13 other Ontario city councils that want the province to stop using natural gas for electricity generation. There’s an old saying that in a democracy, the people deserve to get what they vote for — good and hard. It’s tempting to ask Ontario’s electricity system operator to give these cities what they want by no longer supplying any power generated by natural gas plants. But I’m sure the power system staff are too kind-hearted to do that. Because it would create a lot of problems.

For example, anyone with surgery scheduled on a hot summer day would face the risk of “brownouts” during the procedure. City residents would lose their air conditioning and space heating just when they needed them most. And, without gas as a backup supply stabilizer, all those wind turbines that have sprung up over the past decade would need to be dismantled (though that might be considered a plus by most locals).

We use natural gas in Ontario because it is variable on short notice. Power consumption rises through the day and drops overnight. That cycle overlays distinct seasonal patterns, with summertime demand surges for cooling, wintertime surges for heating, and predictable demand reductions on mild days in the shoulder seasons.

If you draw a chart of the seasonal and daily cycles, you see a minimum level of demand the system must always be able to satisfy, and then within each season and each 24-hour span there are temporary peaks that also need to be handled. And within those cycles there are further variations that can change minute-by-minute.

Ontario’s electricity system, like every other jurisdiction’s, therefore needs two kinds of power — baseload and peaking. Baseload involves running power generation facilities at a constant output level, which is the most economical way for them to operate. And for some facilities, especially nuclear plants and hydroelectric dams, it may be the only way they can run. Peaking facilities, on the other hand, can ramp their output up and down minute-by-minute.

In Ontario, natural gas is the most flexible type of power in this regard. Hydro dams can spill or withhold water to vary production but are constrained in this behaviour by conservation authorities. And they can’t guarantee increased production if the water flow isn’t available. Nor can we count on importing electricity whenever we need it: adjacent jurisdictions may face high demand at the same time we do. The Ontario nuclear fleet does have some ability to adjust its output, though reactors require a few days’ notice. For speed and reliability of scaling production throughout the day, having a margin of natural gas power is essential.

If that flexibility is missing, a heat wave or a cold snap can mean a sudden shortage of power. So can a sudden increase in power demand somewhere else on the grid. Likewise, a sudden unexpected drop in demand can cause instability in the system if the supply cannot also quickly be scaled back.

To make the situation even more complex, add a fleet of wind turbines into the mix. The wind varies from hour to hour and can gust or vanish without warning. No electricity system can accommodate such intermittent variations in production without another part of the generator fleet being able, on a moment’s notice, to compensate by varying in the opposite direction. In Ontario, the most effective compensator is gas. Power systems that add a lot of wind energy must therefore add a lot of natural gas capacity as a reserve supply.

Finally, the environmental benefits from eliminating gas would be minimal. Ontario already eliminated 85 per cent of its electricity-related greenhouse gases between 1991 and 2018 by phasing out coal — at a very high cost. As for ordinary pollutants, our air quality is very good now. In a typical year, particulate levels never exceed even the most stringent standards. And while we occasionally do exceed ozone standards, analysis by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment shows that’s due to U.S.-based sources, not domestic ones.

If we phase out gas, we risk creating intolerable costs and inconvenience for all electricity users in exchange for imperceptibly small environmental gains. City councils can get rid of gas as soon as they figure out how to phase out summer heat, winter cold, daytime, nighttime and the vagaries of wind.
Financial Post

So, anyone still keen to oppose the use of fossil fuels, now?

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    Funnily enough we were just talking about how some of those VERY RICH full off self righteousness, (movie ‘stars’, multi-millionaires etc) should help fund the building of a large town somewhere that is only serviced by Wind and or Solar, of course they would want a battery to store energy not used for when it is needed, with homes for anyone willing to pay to live there – in utopia. Not forgetting they will also have to put money aside to fund the replacement of energy storage and production facilities. As while the sun and wind may be ‘free’ energy production facilities aren’t, nor is the need for machinery to rebuild such facilities and lets not forget the recycling plant for the towns variable waste products.
    This town should have NO connection to the grid but with there own medical services including a hospital and all other things such as swimming pools, gymnasium, food production, fire services, water supply if they do not have their own tanks or bores. All services and transport to be solar driven including internet and mobile phone services and all other usual needs for a modern society – for completely self sufficiency.
    This of course with Industrial sized Turbines and solar plants everywhere including literally in their backyards, then lets see just how long they survive before they call out for help from the naughty environment destroying rest of us.
    If all these narcissistic people who crave seeing their name in ‘lights’ and believe they are so important the rest of the world HAS to listen to them, instead sought the help they obviously need, we would come through this mess of a world which is currently being driven by indoctrination not common sense, before it is destroyed by the weight of their self importance/ interest.
    When in the past has the population of this world gone backwards to enable it to go forward. We have learnt by our mistakes and yes there have been some but going back is not going forward, we have the mental and educational capacity to look after our environments without destroying them, so why continue down a path of self destruction to appease the needs of those with so little self worth they have to force their desires onto others.

  2. ronaldsteinptsadvancecom says:

    Nor’easters would be disastrous to a Green America. Most of the country cannot survive and flourish with intermittent electricity.
    Published Feb 8 at Eurasia https://www.eurasiareview.com/08022021-noreasters-would-be-disastrous-to-a-green-america-oped/

    Summary: Most of the nation needs more than intermittent electricity from wind and solar, they need continuous and uninterruptible electricity from natural gas, nuclear, and coal to support the health and economy in their state to survive extreme weather conditions year-round. California, with its temperate climate conditions year-round, can survive dysfunctional energy policies that have resulted in the least reliable electrical power systems in the nation.

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