The Maths of Net Zero: Why Claims About The Wind & Solar Transition Don’t Add Up


Listen to an ideologue, and you’d think the transition to an all wind and sun powered future is simply inevitable. Listen to an engineer, and you’ll soon understand that it is simply impossible.

Reliable, dependable and affordable power supplies were the product of logic and reason – the discipline of methodical and ordered thinking, conceived during the Age of Enlightenment and which gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and its raft of engineering feats of marvels, including the generation and useful application of electric power.

Silly superstitions about the weather and other natural phenomenon were put to bed. The hard sciences flourished and so did civilisation, with unheralded improvements in living standards and incomes.

Now, however, narcissistic virtue signallers are determined to wreck it all around the delusional notion that first-world economies can find all the power they need from the sun and wind. And in doing so, we will soon be able to control the weather – setting it to “just right”, as if Goldilocks was in charge.

Every good piece of engineering starts with a solid understanding of mathematics and the relationship between the forces and variables at work. Or, in the case of chaotically intermittent wind and solar, the forces that don’t.

Which brings us to Douglas Pollock, a Civil Industrial Engineer.

Douglas Pollock studied at “The Grange School” and “Colegio Verbo Divino” and received his degree in Industrial Civil Engineering from the University of Chile. His career covered administration, commercial, manufacturing, managing projects from design and assessment stages through implementation and subsequent administration.

Over the last seven years, Douglas has incensed renewable energy rent-seekers and climate cultists by revealing the great ‘green’ fictions upon which the great wind and solar scam are predicated.

In the video above, Douglas provides a detailed explanation of why claims about wind and solar simply don’t add up.

In the piece below, Christopher Monckton sets out the mathematical model derived by Douglas Pollock which proves – with elegant simplicity – that hopelessly intermittent and heavily subsidised wind and solar will never amount to meaningful power generation sources. Enjoy!

The Final Nail in The Coffin Of “Renewable” Energy
Watts Up With That?
Christopher Monckton
11 January 2023

Douglas Pollock will be known to many readers here as a regular and popular speaker at Heartland conferences. After several years researching the effect of unreliables on electricity grids the world over, Douglas has discovered a truly fascinating scientific result.

He had been looking at nations such as Britain, whose government has gone further towards reducing the economy to third-world status by its unhinged nut-zero policies than any other. As a direct result of this fatuity, Britain now suffers the costliest electricity prices in the world.

The manufacturing industries in which we once led the world have died or gone overseas to Communist-led China, India and Russia. Manufacturing now accounts for just 8% of Britain’s already-imploding GDP. The workshop of the world has become its workhouse.

Industries large and small are going to the wall at a record rate, wrecked by the endless hikes in electricity prices whose root cause is the enforced and pointless shuttering of long-amortized and perfectly viable coal-fired power stations that used to produce electricity at only $30 per MWh, and their replacement with wind and solar subsidy farms producing intermittent and unreliable electrical power at anything up to $11,500 per MWh.

What is more, this disastrous industrial and economic collapse has been deliberately precipitated by a once-Conservative “government” that has long abandoned the no-nonsense economic realism and free-market ideals of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Curiously, though, the crazed infliction of pig-ugly, wildlife-wrecking, landscape-lacerating windmills on the British people is not reducing our electricity-driven CO2 emissions.

More and more windmills and solar panels are industrializing and destroying our formerly green and pleasant land. Yet the fraction of the nation’s electrical power contributed by unreliables stubbornly remains at just below 25%. Douglas Pollock wondered why.

He consulted widely among the ranking experts on grid management, but no one had any idea why grids such as Germany and the UK, whose installed unreliables capacity is so much greater than 25% of total generation, are incapable of getting their mean annual contribution from wind power, in particular, above 25%. True, on some days wind can generate about two-thirds of Britain’s electricity. But on average – a la larga, as they say in the casinos of Puerto Rico – the contribution of wind and solar is stuck at 25% of total grid generation.

So Douglas scratched his head and thought about it. After a good deal of research and a lot more thinking, he discovered what was wrong. It was a subtle but devastating error that none of the whinnying enviro-zombi advocates of unreliables had noticed.

Douglas’ argument is a beautifully simple and simply beautiful instance of the logical application of mathematical principles to derive a crucially-important but unexpected and hitherto wholly overlooked result. Read it slowly and carefully. Admire its elegant and irrefutable simplicity.

Let H be the mean hourly demand met by a given electricity grid, in MWh/h. Let R be the average fraction of nameplate capacity actually generated by renewables – their mean capacity factor. Then the minimum installed nameplate capacity C of renewables that would be required to meet the hourly demand H is equal to HR.

It follows that the minimum installed nameplate capacity N < C of renewables required to generate the fraction f of total grid generation actually contributed by renewables – the renewables fraction – is equal to f C, which is also f H / R ex-ante.

Now here comes the magic. The renewables fraction fof course, reaches its maximum fmax where hourly demand H is equal to NIn that event, N is equal to H ex hypothesi and also to fmax H/ R ex-ante, whereupon is equal to fmax H/ R.

Since dividing both sides by H shows fmax / R is equal to 1, fmax is necessarily equal to R.

And that’s it. In plain English, the maximum possible fraction of total grid generation contributable by unreliables turns out to be equal to the average fraction of the nameplate capacity of those reliables that is realistically achievable under real-world conditions.

For onshore wind, that capacity factor R is a depressingly low 25%. For offshore wind, one might get 30%. The reason is that a lot of the time the wind is not blowing at all, and some of the time the wind is blowing too much to allow safe rotation of the turbines.

What Douglas Pollock’s brilliant and, at first blush, unexpected result means is that the miserably low capacity factor R is in fact also the fundamental limit fmax on the contribution that unreliable can make to the grid without prohibitively expensive and logistically unachievable large-scale static-battery backup.

That means that wind and solar power cannot contribute more than about a quarter of total electricity demand on the grid, unless there is battery backup. However, as Professor Michaux’ 1000-page paper of 2021 for the Finnish geological survey has established, there is nothing like enough techno-metals to provide battery backup of the entire grid worldwide.

Just for the first 15-year generation of static-battery backup for the global grid, the Professor calculates that one would need the equivalent of 67,000 years total current annual production of vanadium, to name but one of the scarce techno-metals that would be required in prodigious quantities. In another 15 years, another 67,000 years production will be needed, for batteries are short-lived, as anyone with a cell-phone knows to his cost. So battery backup is simply not an option on a global scale, even if it were affordable.

Now consider just how devastating is Douglas Pollock’s brilliant result for the climate-Communist narrative. First, it is simple. Even a zitty teenager in high school can understand it. Secondly, it shows that even if global warming were a problem rather than a net benefit there is absolutely nothing we can realistically do about it, except sit back and enjoy the sunshine. Thirdly, it shows that the climate Communists, in placing all their eggs in the electricity basket, have a basket-case on their hands.

For the imminent, enforced replacement of gasoline-powered autos by electric buggies will not only impose an enormous extra loading on the grid – for which most grids are wholly unprepared – but, since the batteries add 30% to the weight of the typical buggy compared with a real auto, the entire transport sector will be squandering 30% more energy than it does now. And that energy is supposed to come from the already overloaded grid, powered by unreliables that can only deliver a quarter of total grid capacity in any event.

It gets worse. In the UK, the “government”, in its final thrust to destroy the British economy, is ordering every household with a perfectly good oil-fired boiler to tear it out in two years’ time and replace it with a ground-source or air-source heat pump, which will deliver far less heat at far greater cost. And where is the electricity for the heat pumps going to come from? From the grid, that’s where.

The bottom line is that, because vastly more electricity than now would be needed to achieve nut zero, and because the Pollock limit means only about a quarter of grid electricity can be delivered by unreliables, the net effect of attempts at nut zero will be to increase global emissions significantly, because, as Douglas has decisively proven, nut zero – even if it were at all desirable, which it is not – is impossible.

Nut zero, then, is a striking instance of Monckton’s Law, which states that any attempt by governments to interfere in the free market in pursuit of some political objective or another will tend to bring about a result that is precisely the opposite of that which was – however piously – intended.
Watts Up With That?

How’s that ‘inevitable transition’ working out, then?

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    Dozens of giant turbines on Scotland’s windfarms have been powered by diesel generators, the Sunday Mail can reveal. Scottish Power admitted 71 of its windmills were hooked up to the fossil fuel supply after a fault developed on the grid. (They had to operate to keep from freezing up)
    (Feb 5)

  2. Read my similar analyses at

  3. Rafe Champion says:

    Tell them they are dreaming!

    Click to access INFORMATION_PACK.pdf

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