The 2019 UK Weather Dependent “Renewables” fleet: comparisons
The chart below summarises both the extent of the penetration of “Renewables” in the UK power generation fleet and their recorded performance in term of the productivity / capacity percentages as in 2019.The productivity of “Renewables”, (Wind and Solar power), is crucial. It is only when their actual productivity is combined with comparative costs can the true costs of the power that is effectively supplied to the Grid be estimated.
These Comparative costs for “Renewables” Wind and Solar and conventional Power generation are derived from 2020 USA EIA (Energy Information Administration) information. An estimate of longer-term costs is made over a 60-year service-life, (as with Nuclear). These costs are independent of any subsidies or tax benefits enjoyed by “Renewables”.
These straightforward calculations answer the simple question:
“roughly how much would it cost to generate the same amount of power as is produced by the present fleet of UK Weather Dependent “Renewables”, using conventional generation technologies, (Nuclear or Gas-firing) ? and how do those figures compare ?”.
By the end 2019 the UK had a fleet of about 35Gigawatts of Weather Dependent “Renewables”, more than half of the installed fleet. That fleet cost about £62 billion in capital and implied a further long-term cost of about £260 billion. Over 2019 “Renewables” contributed about 7.3 Gigawatts, less than 23% of the total requirement. But the most cost-effective form of power generation is from Gas-firing at less than £1billion / Gigawatt. Burning Gas produces much less CO2 than other fossil fuels, (were that a concern).
According to these rough calculations, using Gas-firing instead of Renewables to produce that 7.3 Gigawatts to the Grid could have saved the UK about £55billion in capital and roughly £230billion in the long-term. Savings would be less with Nuclear power, but they would still be substantial. All these extra costs are either picked up by Government, (the taxpayer ), or are a burden on electricity bills.
There are other additional Cost and CO2 implications of Weather Dependent “Renewables”
The comparative figures shown above only account for direct generation costs and are underestimates of the full costs incurred by using Weather Dependent Renewables. Those significant ancillary costs associated with Renewables result from:
- “Renewable’s” unreliability in terms of both power intermittency and power variability.
- “Renewable’s” are non-dispatchable, put simply, the clouds do not clear away and the wind does not blow to order, whenever power is needed.
- the poor timing of “Renewable’s” generation is unlikely to match demand. Any Wind power is subject to Weather variability. Solar energy falls off in the evening, the times of peak demand. In winter Solar yields about 1/9th of its summer output.
- much additional engineering infrastructure is needed for access to Renewable sites.
- the long transmission lines incur transmission power losses and increased maintenance.
- “Renewable’s” need large land areas, compared to conventional generation, (Gas-firing or Nuclear).
- the continuing costs of back-up generation, which is essential but may only be used on occasions running in spinning reserve and still emitting CO2 nonetheless.
- if sufficient back-up conventional capacity is in place to support the grid, then there is no point in doubling up the generation capacity with comparatively non-productive “Renewable’s”, even though they might substitute some CO2 emissions.
- any consideration of electrical storage using batteries, even if long-term, (a few hours), Grid scale batteries were economically feasible.
- “Renewable’s” create unsynchronised generation lacking inertia to maintain essential grid frequency.
- “Renewable’s” cannot provide a “black start” recovery from a major grid outage.
Importantly in addition these cost analyses do not account for:
- “Renewable’s” are very dependent on large amounts of rare earth elements and scarce materials, largely sourced from China.
- “Renewable’s” cause inevitable environmental damage and destruction of wildlife.
- “Renewable’s” “Carbon footprint”, Wind and Solar technologies may never save as much CO2 during their service life as they emit for their materials sourcing, manufacture, installation, maintenance and eventual demolition.
- “Renewable’s” are dependent on fossil fuels both as feedstocks for materials and as fuel for support.
- “Renewable’s” Energy Return on Energy Invested, they may well produce only a limited excess of Energy during their service life as has been committed for their manufacture and installation.
- “Renewable’s” certainly do not provide the regular massive excess power sufficient to support the multiple needs of a developed society.
Power generation problems
As Government imposes more “Renewable’s” onto the Power industry, Power supply managers face even greater problems, as Political decisions insist on the impractical collection dilute and irregularly intermittent “Renewable Energy”. The professional pride and the responsibility of Power managers will try to sustain the consistent service, that is so crucial to the Nation, but it will become increasingly difficult.
Full-time productive conventional generators are put out of business as they become non-profitable.
In the end any extra costs don’t matter, either the Government, (or rather the Taxpayer), picks up the tab or the extra costs are just passed on to the customers via their growing bills: the customers don’t have any real choice because the power business is effectively a monopoly.
An excellent way to undermine Western economies is to render their power generation unreliable and expensive. That objective of Green thinking is progressively being achieved by Government policy throughout the Western world, but without popular voter mandate.