Detailed analysis of 100% solar, wind and hydro plan has many flaws and crazy costs

There is a video where critics of a proposed 2015 plan to power the US with 100% renewables lay out their case.

They are not anti-renewables but they are pro-math. They worked out the issues of spacing of large scale solar panels and wind turbines.

Jacobson agreed with them that his base proposed system will cost $15.2 trillion. If there is need for 24 hour and not 4 hours of energy storage then the cost of the plan goes up to $22.8 trillion. This assumed various efficiency and other factors were granted as improvements to the 100% renewable plan.

These critics propose all nuclear options which would cost $3 to 6.7 trillion.

Other scientific critics of the 100% renewable and the Jacobson lawsuit

Jacobson’s paper appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Bernie Sanders and others pushed the proposal as a solution to climate change. The PNAS journal published a lengthy critique by environmental scientist Christopher Clack and 20 co-authors. They questioned Jacobson’s assumptions and methodology, appeared Feb. 24, 2017. Jacobson launched a $10 million lawsuit against Clack but then dropped the lawsuit in Feb 2018.

The baseline value for cost of capital in the Jacobson paper is one-half to one-third of that used by most other studies. Using more realistic discount rates of 6–9% per year instead of the 3–4.5% would double the estimate of a cost of 11 cents/kWh of electricity to 22 cents/kWh, even before adding in other unaccounted for capital costs.

Both hydroelectric power and flexible load were modeled in erroneous ways and that these errors alone invalidate the study and its results.

More from the Pro-nuclear critics

Using Jacobson’s own numbers of how many hours per days they would be able to generate power and using the Jacobson numbers for pumped hydro backup power. The Jacobson 100% renewable plan will be short 90% power in the winter.

Natural gas industry says the national leak rate is 1.6%. This is leaking methane gas into the air. Natural gas backing up renewables would eliminate 40% of the climate benefits of solar or wind.

56 thoughts on “Detailed analysis of 100% solar, wind and hydro plan has many flaws and crazy costs”

  1. Not true. The only thing that wind and sunshine do less well than meeting a steady load, is following a varying load.
    In “Henry IV Part 1”,
    Glyndwr says “I can summon spirits from the vasty deep”.
    Hotspur replies “Aye, so can I and so can any man, but do they come when called?”

    Wind and sunshine do not come when called, nor do they stay when needed.
    The only thing that coal and nuclear have in common is reliability. In actual fact, by the honest records of EIA (there predictions are subject to political fashion) nuclear power is more reliable than coal.
    Methane gas turbines emit oxides of both carbon and nitrogen. and are far more injurious to health when running correctly, than nuclear is even when it goes wrong.
    You are right, MagnaMoe, about hydro — except when as in the years 2000 .. 2001 the winter snowfall was inadequate, and California had scandalous peak demand failures. There were even suspicions at the FERC, where I was employed, that utilities with gas turbines were doing “scheduled maintenance” on their nuclear reactors for the sake of aggravating the discrepancy between dispatchable capacity and peak load.

    Reply
  2. Not true. China is quite probably going to save and rule the world with them. They don’t have to worry about fake “environmentalists” like Greenpeace and Sierra Club. But Terrestrial Energy, Thorcon Power, and Elysium Industries will do so, if the idiotic demands of the NRC and the fear and stupidity, or possibly duplicity, of no-longer-environmentalist GMOs like Greenpeace and Sierra Club can be overcome.
    Note that the LNT and ALARA restrictions are not only false, they are a huge boon to the fossil carbon trade.

    Reply
  3. Unlike the authors of this refutation of “renewables”, I am anti-renewables. I detest them quite independently of their expense, for their ugliness and other environmental offensiveness. They are useless, as Germany and Ontario have
    amply proved..
    It is simply not true that weather dependent “renewables” can do any good at all to ameliorate AGW and Oceanic Acidification. There are data for Scotland, Germany, and Australia which show that even across quite large distances, lack of wind in one region is not balanced by nice strong breezes in another. Nor is the darkness of night on the east coasts of the Americas balanced for very long by sunshine in the west.
    “Renewable energy” schemes are a handicap to the acceptance of the world wide fact that fossil carbon burning must stop.
    According to the computations of Thorcon Power’s very experienced actual engineering managers, IF you have “efficient and evidence based” safety and effectiveness regulations, molten salt reactors are inherently LESS expensive than coal, let alone the 50-year old designs that are now required to meet fear driven and downright hostile regulations in Europe and the USA. They have convinced the Indonesian government of this.

    Reply
  4. Unlike the authors, who say they are not anti-renewables, I am independently and vehemently against the ugliness and environmental offensiveness of these devices.
    One of their worst offenses is that they discredit the actual campaign against the deadly effects of fossil CO₂.
    Both glockman and JFrankParnell below illustrate that point. By the way, “Climate Change” is a feeble name for the problem, and global warming is only half of it. The other half is that the loss of the reactors in Japan is polluting the Pacific far worse with the emissions of the substitute fossil carbon power, carbonic acid gas (CO₂) that the trifling radioactivity of tritiated water.
    It is obvious that Germany’s Energiewende was a campaign to protect the fossil carbon industries. The first clause is to get rid of fossil carbon’s only serious possible low emissions replacement.

    Reply
  5. I used to invest in renewables (non-hydro), but no longer. The probability of default and loss given default for wind and solar is equal to about an A- type investment but you get paid for BBB- risk or about 180 basis points. So on paper it looks ok. BUT – that spread used to be much, much higher. Nowadays, renewables pricing (read: subsidies) have made pricing so low that the spreads you get for locking yourself into a long term project (versus the hugely liquid corporate bond market) just isn’t worth it. In other words, renewable energy is “too” successful and driven to the point where investors just can’t make money for the risk involved – because there are plenty of alternatives. This has gotten to the point where no one is looking at building out capacity. The whole subsidy scheme ended up being a shot in the foot.

    Reply
  6. you mean your retirement account? or your savings account? Average 10-year growth rate of AUM in the US (ie since the financial crises) is 4.8%. When you clean out your retirement and investment accounts and build a windmill your comment will the noteworthy.

    Reply
  7. I used to invest in renewables (non-hydro) but no longer. The probability of default and loss given default for wind and solar is equal to about an A- type investment but you get paid for BBB- risk or about 180 basis points. So on paper it looks ok. BUT – that spread used to be much much higher. Nowadays renewables pricing (read: subsidies) have made pricing so low that the spreads you get for locking yourself into a long term project (versus the hugely liquid corporate bond market) just isn’t worth it. In other words renewable energy is too”” successful and driven to the point where investors just can’t make money for the risk involved – because there are plenty of alternatives. This has gotten to the point where no one is looking at building out capacity. The whole subsidy scheme ended up being a shot in the foot.”””

    Reply
  8. you mean your retirement account? or your savings account? Average 10-year growth rate of AUM in the US (ie since the financial crises) is 4.8{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12}. When you clean out your retirement and investment accounts and build a windmill your comment will the noteworthy.

    Reply
  9. Subsidies are a GREAT way to grow really fat pigs.We start with the idea [i]“The XYZ are really developing ABC tech! We’re going to fall behind! Let’s subsidize its research and dev and also defray the cost-to-the-public of using ABC. For awhile. To get the industry efficiently underway!!!”[/i]And we end up with Solyndra.¹_______Build a piggy factory (subsidized). Grow a bunch of pigs (subsidized). Give awards for mostest fattest (subsidized). Find yourself with LOTS of really really fat pigs. Market them suavely (subsidized) make infomercials (subsidized) fund decent honoraria so wave after wave of blue-ribbon industry leaders can take their talking heads before The Public via public television and radio. Subsidized. Sell the pigs at a [u]downright frightful loss[/u]. The subsidized losses are negated and the flow of pigs increases. It doesn’t matter that no one wants them so after they’re slaughtered sit in refrigerators and are quietly transhipped to dog-food companies when past their hold-date even that raises some revenue … so goes to the bottom line. But like all such things you may find a willing and enthusiastic basket of Congresspersons and Senatorial (ahem) blow-hards who are johnny-on-the-spot ready to hyperventillate in front of the video cameras in order to glad-hand upsell the piggy production of [i]“the industry”[/i] but even they eventually run out of blow. Then the subsidies subside the fat piggy industry collapses endless cheeky [i]“how could we have failed that badly?”[/i] articles are penned and within 6 months the Public has forgotten about the whole affair. On to the Next Great Swindle.Just Saying…GoatGuy_______¹ https://sites.suffolk.edu/ekebschull/2013/03/01/solyndra-the-inherit-problem-with-government-subsidies/

    Reply
  10. Wait, you recognize that molten salt reactors aren’t going to be rolled out on a large scale in 20 years, but you think renewables and long distance power lines can fill the gap? You have, I think a really strange idea of how fast power lines get built. And without massive storage or redundant conventional generators waiting idle, wind and solar will destabilize an electric grid beyond a few percent.

    Reply
  11. And I don’t like offshore wind, with an windmill on land you can send out an guy with an pickup to service it. Worst case you need heavier stuff like an mobile crane if you need to remove the blades and pull the generator out. Offshore you need an ship rater than an pickup, and an special ship rater than an mobile crane. Yes this increases cost a lot, you use larger mills but as the costs are construction, installation and maintenance you want to keep all three down. Imagine that the problem is that wind kind of work, this scare the greens and they are a bit noisy so you move them offshore there they will not be profitable. If the manage to make offshore wind profitable the greens will claim it give fish autism or similar.

    Reply
  12. Nuclear is an baseload, same with coal but later is pouting. An base load is slow to gear up or down dependent on demand. Solar and wind has both scaling and availability, sometimes this matches like solar panels and air conditioning. other times it does not. Hydro and gas is fast to gear up and down however hydro capacity is naturally limited and mostly build.

    Reply
  13. The problem with solar/wind, versus coal/nuclear, is scale ability. When “peak” demand hits, say around 3-9pm, you can’t just tell the wind to blow or the sun to shine. With coal/nuclear, you can “gin up” the generators, to produce MORE electricity.

    Reply
  14. Molten salt reactors are fine but they are not going to be here commercially in large enough scale in the next 20 years. Till then we will need to continue building renewables and couple them with HVDC lines to eliminate 80% of storage. They didn’t add bioenergy and Hydro for power generation although they have a huge potential as a baseline energy. Most of wind and solar can be build with a combined land use. I don’t see the scale of land use described in this research although we are at 15% renewable energy use.

    Reply
  15. Subsidies are a GREAT way to grow really fat pigs. We start with the idea [i]“The XYZ are really developing ABC tech! We’re going to fall behind! Let’s subsidize its research and dev, and also defray the cost-to-the-public of using ABC. For awhile. To get the industry efficiently underway!!!”[/i] And we end up with Solyndra.¹ _______ Build a piggy factory (subsidized). Grow a bunch of pigs (subsidized). Give awards for mostest, fattest (subsidized). Find yourself with LOTS of really, really fat pigs. Market them suavely (subsidized), make infomercials (subsidized), fund decent honoraria so wave after wave of blue-ribbon industry leaders can take their talking heads before The Public via public television and radio. Subsidized. Sell the pigs at a [u]downright frightful loss[/u]. The subsidized losses are negated, and the flow of pigs increases. It doesn’t matter that no one wants them, so after they’re slaughtered, sit in refrigerators and are quietly transhipped to dog-food companies when past their hold-date, even that raises some revenue … so goes to the bottom line. But like all such things, you may find a willing and enthusiastic basket of Congresspersons and Senatorial (ahem) blow-hards who are johnny-on-the-spot ready to hyperventillate in front of the video cameras in order to glad-hand upsell the piggy production of [i]“the industry”[/i], but even they eventually run out of blow. Then the subsidies subside, the fat piggy industry collapses, endless cheeky [i]“how could we have failed that badly?”[/i] articles are penned, and within 6 months the Public has forgotten about the whole affair. On to the Next Great Swindle. Just Saying… GoatGuy _______ ¹ https://sites.suffolk.edu/ekebschull/2013/03/01/solyndra-the-inherit-problem-with-government-subsidies/

    Reply
  16. Wait you recognize that molten salt reactors aren’t going to be rolled out on a large scale in 20 years but you think renewables and long distance power lines can fill the gap?You have I think a really strange idea of how fast power lines get built. And without massive storage or redundant conventional generators waiting idle wind and solar will destabilize an electric grid beyond a few percent.

    Reply
  17. And I don’t like offshore wind with an windmill on land you can send out an guy with an pickup to service it. Worst case you need heavier stuff like an mobile crane if you need to remove the blades and pull the generator out. Offshore you need an ship rater than an pickup and an special ship rater than an mobile crane.Yes this increases cost a lot you use larger mills but as the costs are construction installation and maintenance you want to keep all three down. Imagine that the problem is that wind kind of work this scare the greens and they are a bit noisy so you move them offshore there they will not be profitable. If the manage to make offshore wind profitable the greens will claim it give fish autism or similar.

    Reply
  18. Nuclear is an baseload same with coal but later is pouting. An base load is slow to gear up or down dependent on demand. Solar and wind has both scaling and availability sometimes this matches like solar panels and air conditioning. other times it does not. Hydro and gas is fast to gear up and down however hydro capacity is naturally limited and mostly build.

    Reply
  19. The problem with solar/wind versus coal/nuclear is scale ability. When peak”” demand hits”” say around 3-9pm you can’t just tell the wind to blow or the sun to shine. With coal/nuclear”” you can “”””gin up”””” the generators”””” to produce MORE electricity.”””

    Reply
  20. Molten salt reactors are fine but they are not going to be here commercially in large enough scale in the next 20 years. Till then we will need to continue building renewables and couple them with HVDC lines to eliminate 80{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} of storage. They didn’t add bioenergy and Hydro for power generation although they have a huge potential as a baseline energy. Most of wind and solar can be build with a combined land use. I don’t see the scale of land use described in this research although we are at 15{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} renewable energy use.

    Reply
  21. Jacobson launched a $10 million lawsuit against Clack…” And that right there is the number 3* reason why the USA does actually face the prospect of collapse this century. The rest of the article is trivial compared to that threat to civilisation. *Numbers 1 and 2 are obvious.

    Reply
  22. Then that means that the owners of said trillions have decided that the risk associated with such investments (including liquidity risk) outweighs the return available. So what can be done about this? Nationalise the money? Force people to invest (underhand partial nationalisation)? Give enough tax breaks to make the return attractive? (Subsidy.)

    Reply
  23. I gave a like assuming this was written on a phone with stupid auto correction. (Not that there is any non-stupid autocorrect that I’ve seen.)

    Reply
  24. Jacobson launched a $10 million lawsuit against Clack…””And that right there is the number 3* reason why the USA does actually face the prospect of collapse this century. The rest of the article is trivial compared to that threat to civilisation. *Numbers 1 and 2 are obvious.”””

    Reply
  25. Then that means that the owners of said trillions have decided that the risk associated with such investments (including liquidity risk) outweighs the return available.So what can be done about this? Nationalise the money? Force people to invest (underhand partial nationalisation)? Give enough tax breaks to make the return attractive? (Subsidy.)

    Reply
  26. I gave a like assuming this was written on a phone with stupid auto correction. (Not that there is any non-stupid autocorrect that I’ve seen.)

    Reply
  27. couldn’t agree more. The swindle is global too. There is a whole financial industry that chases the next swindle. In fact, creates them. The great global warming scare wasn’t cooked up by a bunch of tree huggers. Basic rent extraction 101. At it’s height, renewables investment (It’s about 30% down from 2012/13 peak) generated about $8bn of investment banking fees a year divided among

    Reply
  28. couldn’t agree more. The swindle is global too. There is a whole financial industry that chases the next swindle. In fact creates them. The great global warming scare wasn’t cooked up by a bunch of tree huggers. Basic rent extraction 101. At it’s height renewables investment (It’s about 30{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} down from 2012/13 peak) generated about $8bn of investment banking fees a year divided among

    Reply
  29. Just curious, how did the swindlers convince 97% of the world’s scientists to go along with the scam? They must be getting really rich too I guess. No wonder I keep seeing climate scientists driving around town in Lambos with gold wheels…

    Reply
  30. couldn’t agree more. The swindle is global too. There is a whole financial industry that chases the next swindle. In fact, creates them. The great global warming scare wasn’t cooked up by a bunch of tree huggers. Basic rent extraction 101. At it’s height, renewables investment (It’s about 30% down from 2012/13 peak) generated about $8bn of investment banking fees a year divided among <10 actors. That is pure profit for "facilitating" transactions....Extremely powerful motivation to influence the braindead lawmakers to go along for the ride (who doesn't like "clean and green") and let the populace pay for it ("do your duty to save the planet"). Child's play.

    Reply
  31. “Jacobson launched a $10 million lawsuit against Clack…”

    And that right there is the number 3* reason why the USA does actually face the prospect of collapse this century. The rest of the article is trivial compared to that threat to civilisation.

    *Numbers 1 and 2 are obvious.

    Reply
  32. Then that means that the owners of said trillions have decided that the risk associated with such investments (including liquidity risk) outweighs the return available.

    So what can be done about this? Nationalise the money? Force people to invest (underhand partial nationalisation)? Give enough tax breaks to make the return attractive? (Subsidy.)

    Reply
  33. Wait, you recognize that molten salt reactors aren’t going to be rolled out on a large scale in 20 years, but you think renewables and long distance power lines can fill the gap?

    You have, I think a really strange idea of how fast power lines get built. And without massive storage or redundant conventional generators waiting idle, wind and solar will destabilize an electric grid beyond a few percent.

    Reply
  34. And I don’t like offshore wind, with an windmill on land you can send out an guy with an pickup to service it. Worst case you need heavier stuff like an mobile crane if you need to remove the blades and pull the generator out.

    Offshore you need an ship rater than an pickup, and an special ship rater than an mobile crane.
    Yes this increases cost a lot, you use larger mills but as the costs are construction, installation and maintenance you want to keep all three down.
    Imagine that the problem is that wind kind of work, this scare the greens and they are a bit noisy so you move them offshore there they will not be profitable.
    If the manage to make offshore wind profitable the greens will claim it give fish autism or similar.

    Reply
  35. Nuclear is an baseload, same with coal but later is pouting. An base load is slow to gear up or down dependent on demand. Solar and wind has both scaling and availability, sometimes this matches like solar panels and air conditioning. other times it does not.
    Hydro and gas is fast to gear up and down however hydro capacity is naturally limited and mostly build.

    Reply
  36. The problem with solar/wind, versus coal/nuclear, is scale ability. When “peak” demand hits, say around 3-9pm, you can’t just tell the wind to blow or the sun to shine. With coal/nuclear, you can “gin up” the generators, to produce MORE electricity.

    Reply
  37. Molten salt reactors are fine but they are not going to be here commercially in large enough scale in the next 20 years. Till then we will need to continue building renewables and couple them with HVDC lines to eliminate 80% of storage. They didn’t add bioenergy and Hydro for power generation although they have a huge potential as a baseline energy. Most of wind and solar can be build with a combined land use. I don’t see the scale of land use described in this research although we are at 15% renewable energy use.

    Reply
  38. Subsidies are a GREAT way to grow really fat pigs.

    We start with the idea [i]“The XYZ are really developing ABC tech! We’re going to fall behind! Let’s subsidize its research and dev, and also defray the cost-to-the-public of using ABC. For awhile. To get the industry efficiently underway!!!”[/i]

    And we end up with Solyndra.¹
    _______

    Build a piggy factory (subsidized). Grow a bunch of pigs (subsidized). Give awards for mostest, fattest (subsidized). Find yourself with LOTS of really, really fat pigs. Market them suavely (subsidized), make infomercials (subsidized), fund decent honoraria so wave after wave of blue-ribbon industry leaders can take their talking heads before The Public via public television and radio. Subsidized.

    Sell the pigs at a [u]downright frightful loss[/u]. The subsidized losses are negated, and the flow of pigs increases. It doesn’t matter that no one wants them, so after they’re slaughtered, sit in refrigerators and are quietly transhipped to dog-food companies when past their hold-date, even that raises some revenue … so goes to the bottom line.

    But like all such things, you may find a willing and enthusiastic basket of Congresspersons and Senatorial (ahem) blow-hards who are johnny-on-the-spot ready to hyperventillate in front of the video cameras in order to glad-hand upsell the piggy production of [i]“the industry”[/i], but even they eventually run out of blow.

    Then the subsidies subside, the fat piggy industry collapses, endless cheeky [i]“how could we have failed that badly?”[/i] articles are penned, and within 6 months the Public has forgotten about the whole affair. On to the Next Great Swindle.

    Just Saying…

    GoatGuy
    _______

    ¹ https://sites.suffolk.edu/ekebschull/2013/03/01/solyndra-the-inherit-problem-with-government-subsidies/

    Reply
  39. I used to invest in renewables (non-hydro), but no longer. The probability of default and loss given default for wind and solar is equal to about an A- type investment but you get paid for BBB- risk or about 180 basis points. So on paper it looks ok. BUT – that spread used to be much, much higher. Nowadays, renewables pricing (read: subsidies) have made pricing so low that the spreads you get for locking yourself into a long term project (versus the hugely liquid corporate bond market) just isn’t worth it. In other words, renewable energy is “too” successful and driven to the point where investors just can’t make money for the risk involved – because there are plenty of alternatives. This has gotten to the point where no one is looking at building out capacity. The whole subsidy scheme ended up being a shot in the foot.

    Reply
  40. you mean your retirement account? or your savings account? Average 10-year growth rate of AUM in the US (ie since the financial crises) is 4.8%. When you clean out your retirement and investment accounts and build a windmill your comment will the noteworthy.

    Reply

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