A few graphs say it all for Weather-Dependent “Renewables” in Europe: Productivity matters

In 2021, the EU+UK fleet of Weather-Dependent “Renewables” installed was ~384GW which contributed power output of ~69 Gigawatts to the Grid.  2021 was a poor year for “Renewables” generation, a productivity  / capacity of only 18.1%.  2022 was a better year for Wind power generation with an overall Weather-Dependent “Renewables” annual productivity of 21.6%, data:  EurObser’ER  REF.org

Screenshot 2023-02-07 at 07.04.30The recorded productivity / capacity, (actual power output divided by installed nameplate of values Wind and Solar “Renewables”) over the last decade across Europe was:

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There may be some Weather-Dependent variations year on year in “Renewables” productivity but in general “Renewables” performance remains close to the established 10 year averages shown above.

“Renewables” performance should be compared to the productivity of Conventional Generation, (Fossil fuel based and Nuclear) capable of approaching 90% productivity, when fully utilised, which:

  • generate power  24/7.
  • produce much more energy for use by civilisation than the energy they need to build and run, a significant Energy Return on Energy Invested.
  • can respond when needed to match demand.
  • use small land coverage.
  • can have massive cheap energy storage on site, with no need for batteries.
  • can be located close to centres of demand.
  • use limited materials for their manufacture and installation.
  • according to current US EIA comparative costs Conventional power generators are substantially cheaper for their power production, even at current elevated European Gas prices.

The hourly performance in 2022 for UK Weather-Dependent “Renewables” is shown below.  Their hourly variability and intermittency is clear.  To maintain Grid viability that variability and intermittency has to be accommodated by backup Fossil Fuel or Nuclear Generators often running inefficiently in spinning reserve.  The hourly data for 2022 shows that there were some 8 occasions of extended poor Wind power performance in the year.  In fact, 2022 was a relatively good year for “Renewables”.

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By way of example of the variability problem, the UK Weather in the second half of March 2022 had an extended twelve day anticyclonic episode, when the 27GW of installed UK Onshore and Offshore Wind power was producing less than 5% of their rated output.

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This shows an example of the scale of the potential loss of power that can occur.  This unpredictable performance has been induced by the Government mandated commitment to Weather-Dependent “Renewables”.  As electrical power production always has to match demand, such a prolonged failure of output can poses major Grid management problems, probably leading to failure, especially if conventional power generators are being scrapped by policy.

Cost comparisons

The US Energy Administration (EIA) publishes comparative figures for power generation technologies for both initial capital and long-term costs. When those costs are merged with their achieved productivity and compared to Gas-Firing or Nuclear power, the comparisons can be seen for each unit of power actually delivered to the grid.  The overall “Renewables” costs are roughly 10 times that of Gas-firing.  Nuclear energy is still cheaper than “Renewables” but by a smaller factor, only ~2-3 times.

Of course the installation costs involved are set by the full rated capacity rather than for the actual power output by “Renewables”.  In order to get true cost comparison of the power actually delivered to the Grid the annual productivity should be taken into account.  Nonetheless such costs comparisons using annual productivity are still favourable to Weather-Dependent “Renewables” because they do not account for the essential the back-up reserve power needed to support the Grid nor for the Grid maintenance difficulties induced by the variability and intermittency introduced by the mandating and subsidising of Weather-Dependent “Renewables”.

The comparisons based on US EIA figures for the capital and long-term (40year) costs are shown below.

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When the comparative costs account for their measured productivity, these simple sums show that any claim that Wind and Solar power are cost competitive with Conventional fossil fuel power generation are patently false.

The table below estimates the excess costs incurred across Europe for the current 384GW fleet of Weather-Dependent “Renewable” installations.  This amounts to ~1.2$ trillion in comparison to Gas-firing, (with Natural Gas priced at 1.5 times USA rates), and ~0.6$ trillion in comparison to Nuclear power.

These estimates gives the scale of the fiscal damage that has been achieved by Green alarmists in managing to negate the use of Fracked Natural Gas in Europe.

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These sums do not account for the additional cost and operational burdens on the Grid that arise from the unreliability and intermittency caused by the Weather-Dependence of “Renewables”, nor do they account for the need for continuous power back-up to replace the Weather-Dependent power whenever the Weather fails.

These calculations compare the raw costs of supplying a unit of energy to the Grid.  They are the tip of the comparative cost and Grid management iceberg, Weather-Dependent “Renewables” incur all manner of associated costs and operational downsides not shown and detailed here.  


Would anyone sane buy a car costing up to 10 times the normal price to buy and run, that can only work one day in five, when you never know which day that might be ?  And then insist that its technology is the only way to power the whole economy. 


Appreciating that future “Climate Change” caused by Man-kind burning fossil fuels cannot be a problem going forward and not reacting to that non-problem in an economically destructive manner would be the very best news for the civilisation of the Western World.

data updated March 2023