World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Sophie Vorrath

A new report has suggested the world will need to install solar PV at an average rate of 53GW a year from 2013-2020 as it transforms its energy mix to prevent dangerous climate change.

As reported here, global investment bank Citigroup has become the latest authoritative source to warn of the high cost – economic and environmental – of inaction on climate change action, and to tally the economic benefits of shifting to low-carbon energy, transport and industrial systems.

Energy markets – as the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – are, of course, a big focus. And according to Citi’s ‘action’ scenario, we will need to add a lot of renewable energy to the global power mix if we are to avoid dangerous climate change – and a great deal of that will need to be solar PV.

“In comparison with our Citi ‘Inaction’ scenario, the carbon intensity of the electricity mix drops in our Citi ‘Action’ scenario from 0.54t (CO2e)/MWh to 0.25t (CO2e)/MWh due to the shift in electricity mix (Figure 69),” the Citi report, published on Tuesday, says.

“In 2040 we estimate that 15.4GTCO2e per year is being saved between both our scenarios. Two-thirds of these savings relate to investments into solar PV and onshore wind while the remaining third is due to energy efficiency investments.”

Citi says that a key difference between its forecasts for renewables growth and those from the International Energy Agency (IEA) is the assumed penetration in the electricity mix. In the particular it says, in its Citi “Action” scenario, its forecasts for solar PV deviate significantly from the IEA’s.

“Our granular country by country solar PV forecasts show an average installation rate of 53GW per annum 2013-2020,” the report says. “This compares to 33-34GW installations by the IEA (lower bound New Policy scenario, upper bound 450 scenario).”


Citi says that with the rapid fall in the cost of electricity from renewables it expects solar PV to be competitive with conventional fossil fuels by 2030; “and hence there is theoretically no need for further incentives via a carbon price in the power market alone.”

This is what Citi calls Energy Darwinism – as you can see in the charts below. It means that solar PV is going to get cheaper and cheaper – and with battery technology, more reliable – and beat out traditional energy sources, with or without policy help (although the latter is important out to 2030 if we want to get on top of that thing called climate).




Reprinted with permission.

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243 thoughts on “World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change

  • How much solar was installed last year and what is the forecast for this year?
    And are we looking at this rate with current production/increased production?
    Thanks already.

      • That last line should be delivered CSI:Miami style…


      • Thank you, Bob.
        Are production facilities keeping up, are there more production slated to be build to keep up with that install rate?
        Considering that a production facility can not be build in just a month or two.

        • Remember, just a couple years back the market was flooded with way too many panel manufacturers. Prices dropped and a bunch of manufacturers went out of business.

          That tells me that it doesn’t take a lot to build a solar panel factory.

          Solar is obviously becoming a large industry. I don’t think there will be any significant problems with supply falling behind demand for any significant period of time.

          There have to be hundreds of companies with expansion or startup plans who are monitoring demand daily.

      • Could the Citi study have transposed figure #53, identifying the chart in question, with the Citi research expectations of 57 GW of average installations (as shown by the chart labeled figure #53)?

    • If you look at the rate at which solar and wind are being installed and the rate at which coal is failing, pure economics and technology are solving the problem, like they always have.

      Politicians simply talk about something until it either solves itself or blows up in our faces. Renewable energy / climate change is the former.

      This big new political climate deal wasn’t even hard to pass. It’s purely economic at this point and most people are still too steeped up in fossil fuel rhetoric to notice.

      Coal and nukes are just done in their current forms and natural gas cannot do everything itself.

      • “Politicians simply talk about something until it either solves itself or blows up in our faces. ”

        Politicians created the subsidy programs (hat tip to Spain, Germany and the US) that created the wind and solar industries. Grew them large enough so that they could compete on their own against established energy industries.

        The need for government assistance is shrinking but we probably would never have gotten where we are without politicians kickstarting things.

        • Yes, economics can look into the future, but not very far. Now once you can sell it, then it can look into the future for improving it.

        • They also created the oil and gas subsidy programs, including global military interventions to artificially keep oil viable. That has suppressed innovation and prevented market forces from naturally improving the competitiveness of alternatives sooner. So, thanks but no thanks.

          • Not all politicians are the same.

            That’s the sort of mistake racists make, assuming that all members of a race are the same, then generalizing from the worst to the best.

            If you are denying that the US, German, Spanish and other governments played no decisive role in building the wind and solar industries then you’re out of touch with reality.

      • The problem is that there is no such thing as pure economics. The hundreds of billions of dollars in damages that coal pollution causes to the US economy each year are just one example. The cost and risk uncertainty of climate change is another example. All-in costs of fossil fuels are not being incorporated into their prices, tilting the market in their favor and making it much harder for cleaner upstarts to make it into the game.

        I agree, if we actually had pure economics, fossil fuels would have gotten so expensive that the problem would have sorted itself out long ago. The problem arises from us not knowing how costly fossil fuels were until they were an indispensable part of our economy and modern civilization. Incorporating the true costs of fossil fuels into their price now would cause a lot of hardship unless phased in gradually. Kyoto and various Cap-n-Trade mechanisms were put in place to do just that, but a lot of these early attempts were political non-starters in the biggest emitting nations. Sadly, becoming an indispensable part of the economy also endows fossil fuel companies with tremendous political power. Anyway, support for cleaner technologies is the next best option and that is what the more rational and moral politicians enacted.

        • “The problem arises from us not knowing how costly fossil fuels were until they were an indispensable part of our economy and modern civilization.” We didn’t actually know as a society, until there were clearly alternatives that were deploy able and affordable. Seemingly, bit too inconvenient to understand, up until that point.

  • I’d say ~165GW annually, after 3-5 years it’d create a pricing/production landslide.

  • Is it me, or price and technology-wise, has the home panel market been somewhat stagnant for the past year or two?

    Sunpower introduced their 21.5% panels in 2013, two years ago. No improvements since.

    And, watching the best pricing from my favorite tracking site, prices have been locked at .90-1.00/Watt for perhaps the same time period.

    I wonder if all the demand is keeping prices stationary, and putting a damper on innovation since companies are just trying to keep up with production.

    • Panel prices have been dropping. But when the cost is sub-$1 and the drops are a penny or two they don’t look as large.

      I don’t expect to see dramatic price decreases between now and the end of next year when the federal subsidies fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see price increases as people rush to install and higher demand allows companies to raise their prices.

      Watch what happens (will likely happen) post 2016 when companies get very serious about getting their prices down in order to grab market share in a market that will quickly deflate post subsidies. Prices could easily stairstep down.

  • Btw, if only one PV module would be installed per person and month, the world would install: 7 Gpeople * 250 W/people * 12 = 21,000 GW.
    That is 21,000 GW or 21 TW of PV per year!
    So, saving the world would actually very much be a piece of cake, if the world wanted to.

    • I love your use of Gpersons…

    • System costs is what, $2/W? I don’t think $6000/year and capita is a piece of cake for most of the world population, nor is $42 trillion as a total expense. 🙂

      • Ok, just take 1% of 21 TW and you are still at 210 GW per year (400% of 53 GW). At system costs of $1/W that’s $30/year and capita, which is still a piece of cake. (I didn’t mean to suggest to install 21,000 GW. My point is that 53 GW is a ridiculously small number, if that’s indeed all we need to save our planet).

        $1/W at that installation rate would be reasonable since Germany is already around €1/W for PV-systems >50 kW including installation. Example:
        Given the fact that developing countries have lower wages than Germany, $1/W is definitely a sensible future average PV-system-price above 200 GW/year.

        • 53GW per year doesn’t save us. But if we average 53GW between 2013 and 2020 (according to the study) we’re ramping up fast enough to hit much higher rates post 2020.

        • I agree, 200 GW is a piece of cake, in a sense. But it won’t save the world either, sadly.

        • It will be incredibly interesting to see what happens to the defence budget over the next 20 years. I imagine oil demand will be much, much lower by then. What will happen when we stop caring about oil?

          • The question is, were the lobbyists for oil wars successful because they were creating an excuse for preserving the Cold War military after our enemies had disappeared? There are a number of reasons special interests would rather spend on the military than let it be spent or saved elsewhere. Once we create a “commitment” for cynical reasons, we seem ready to sanctify it as a proof of patriotism such that it must continue even after the real reasons have vanished.

          • We can go to war for phosphate. 80% of world’s reserves in or near Morocco and shortages expected circa 2050. Meanwhile excess fertilizer and chicken shit runoff is ruining our rivers, bays, etc. Sigh

  • I ‘m looking forward to the day when 100 GW of PV and 100 GW of windturbines are installed each year; I hope it happens before 2020.

    • For them to be matched energy-wise, solar should be twice that of wind. So I hope for 200 GW solar and 100 GW wind, but the trends don’t support us going there by 2020. I wouldn’t bet that we ever get there, although it is certainly possible.

      • How is the 20% capacity factor of solar arrived at (versus I assume 24 hours of noon day sun with no clouds)?

        • Measurement.

          Measure the actual average annual output.

          Divide that by the hypothetical amount that would be produced if the system was producing full speed 24/365.

          Actual production / system wattage x 24 x 365 = CF

          People do CF estimates for solar by using the solar insolation numbers for the site along with information about whether the panels will be seasonally adjusted and/or tracked which will increase annual output.

      • wind is 50G a year production today. So is solar. Demand is more important than production. Production can expand. The rate of expansion is not a physical limit. The doubling rate is instructive. It defines a period where all previous cumulative equals new growth. to get to 100 GW, production must approx double. That’s a 5 year doubling. 14% annual growth. Wind had been doing that before PTC was hit. Solar is doubling much faster, every two years. At current rates, solar is growing 40% annually. In 5 years, about 6x. Wind about 2x. In 5 years they could be nearly equal.

        U.S. ITC and PTC cause uncertainty. But growth shifts outside U.S. Japan becomes a major solar market, and China shifts to domestic solar growth.

        China’s wind capacity has exceeded US and grows faster. Look for more of the same. Global growth will shift outside U.S. Same with solar. In fact China is urged to use the lull in solar exports in its domestic market to plug shortfalls caused by nuclear delays.

  • Can anyone translate the Figures for me? – I’m not quite sure I see what they’re trying to show.

  • It is hard to agree if you do the numbers. 53 GW does not really do anything. Even assuming 20% average capacity factor, which is unlikely, that would just add 93 TWh/year to a world that has been adding almost 700 TWh/year to the total electricity production during the last 5 years.

    200 GW would be significant. Then solar would take half of the year-over-year increase in production, and it would take perhaps 1.5% marketshare each year.

  • While reading an article on ‘rare earths’ several years ago it was noted the PV panels require a bit of those elements and that the only active mines were in China. There was some potential for mining then in Nevada but the existing mines there were being shut down. Given that very minimal amount of information it makes sense to me to ask the question, “Do we have sufficient raw material to produce the 53 GW of new solar per year?

    • Larmion had some note on rare earths a couple of days back in some other thread/post and most of them aren’t really rare – at least the ones we use, so no worries afaik.

    • Short answer ” yes” the earth has a huge amount of this material.

      The term “rare earth” is not that we little of it, its that when you mine for them you do not find clumps of it, you need to sift though the raw earth to find it all. Its not rare, and the reason for mines closing down is simply supply and demand. We can open dozens of new mines if needed, we just do not thanks to better manufacturing methods so we use less of it.

      “Rare Earth”: a false talking point for many years.

      • We don’t have little of rare earths, but we do need to mine/leach a lot of ore to get it, since nature isn’t concentrating it for us. That is resource consuming and environmentally damaging.

        • And extreme climate change isn’t?

          It’s getting harder and harder to take you seriously.

          • I think you go off a tangent for no reason. My statement above is quite uncontroversial.

          • No, I had an extremely solid reason.

            There is no energy solution which does not create some environmental damage. The task is to keep that damage as low as possible in order to avoid an enormous amount of environmental damage.

            You, on the other hand, are engaging in rather typical anti-renewable energy tactics. Pointing out molehills while failing to acknowledge the obvious mountains.

          • That would be a fair criticism of your anti-nuclear points, actually, but it doesn’t really hit its target with me. I certainly keep my eye on the ball, which is replacing fossils, but I will not state this in every comment I make. In terms of perspective, I’ll zoom in and zoom out as I see fit. Btw, it is not “anti” anything to discuss pros, cons and scalability of different solutions.

    • Over 90% of all PV modules are silicon based (and don’t depend on rare earth metals, besides that they are not that rare anyway). And silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust. In fact silicon is almost a 1000 times more abundant than carbon and 100,000 times more abundant than uranium:'s_crust

      • Sand is just the raw material. Purified silicon is what’s needed, and refining facilities are busy making phone and TV chips. Ramping it up could be a problem. If different materials prove to be more cost effective ….they could be a bigger problem, because the refining plants don’t exist now.

        • The industry ran short of processed silicon a few years back. It took less than two years to build two new processing plants and bring them online.

          I would be extremely surprised if people both in the silicon processing business and cell manufacturing business aren’t paying very close to possible supply glitches now. Plans are likely drawn up waiting for demand to hit a threshold level and then the next processing expansion will get underway.

        • Yes, more refining facilities will need to come online.
          However silicon production is still relatively small compared to Aluminum and Iron production.'s_crust

          Also, with less than $15/kg silicon prices are currently almost at an all time low:

          So, at this point, there’s no silicon production shortage.

          • New kerfless 1366 technologies and think film deposition methods cut silicon use even more. As technology develops, it becomes a non factor. They are driven to do this because of the high energy cost of Si.
            Going forward, its not a factor. Anymore, Si cost, and cell cost are fractions. Its all about BOS.

  • Synchronicity. Last night I had come to the napkin based conclusion that the U.S. alone needs to install 66 Gw of PV per year for the next 15 years to provide 25% of the U.S. electricity needs. I thought “man that’s not going to happen”, you would need 66 one GW factories, which is the size of the currently largest factory in the U.S, being built in Buffalo. 50 gw for the whole world is just nowhere near enough, since there are some alarming studies that suggest the IPCC predictions for global warming are conservative to say the least. I am sure, economically Pv can be done, but the forces of resistance are still slowing the process dangerously.

    • “at an average rate of 53GW a year from 2013-2020”

      I read that as someone having drawn a “transition curve”, that gets us from where we are now to where we need to be by 2050 (?) . Over the next 35 years the rate of installation accelerates until it reaches a somewhat steady annual rate. The first part of the curve would install slower than post 2020 when we’ve built up installation to the rate we need for the ‘big push’.

      It takes time to build the factories and installation industry. We can’t turn on the flow at full speed overnight, it will take some number of years of acceleration.

      • Yes, a gradual increase is the way things are usually done. However, it won’t do us any good is we pass that “iffy” 2 degrees warming and then realize that feed back loops have kicked in. That is why we need to have some very heavy installations right at the beginning of the curve…more or less, this is an emergency.

        • I agree, somewhat/sort of.

          There’s no route around ‘gradual increase’. We can’t move to warp speed instantly.

          I’m not comfortable with 0% GHG by 2050. I think the goal should be backed up to 2040 or so. But if the do a good ramp up between now and 2020 then we build a foundation for two decades of very high rate installation.

          I keep going back to Jacobson and Delucchi (2009) who drew the blueprint that would get the planet to 100% renewable energy for electricity, transportation and heating in 20 years.

          As our concern rises, which it almost certainly will as Arctic sea ice melts out and we get hit with more and more extreme weather, we will create the “political motivation” that J&D stated we need to get the job done.

          • We may get a fire lit under our butts this year with what looks to be shaping up as the most powerful El Nino on record. A little “motivation” from mother nature. Lets hope we listen.

          • If the climate shows worse than expected a plan to create negative carbon emissions could be developed.
            This could be implemented like electrify almost every consumption but at the same time invest a lot on trees and to bury biomass.
            Greening deserts and create a lot of biochar.

            Zero emissions, not new contamination is NOT the limit. We could clean and restore the planet.

          • Reforestation should help. Especially the rainforest areas.

            Burying biochar should help as long as we avoid using fossil fuels to harvest and haul the biomass.

            Greening deserts is not something we’ve figured out how to do, at least for an affordable price (AFAIK).

            Altogether that would help. But I’m not sure it’s enough.

            I’d like to see someone set up a renewable energy powered biochar process.

            Use electric chain saws, chippers and trucks to harvest and transport the trees.

            With fast growing stock (eucalyptus or hybrid poplar, for example) it should be possible to do sequential planting over a large area and then move through the area over a 4-5 year ‘loop’ harvesting off regrown stumps.

          • The fastest growing biomass is algae. On land maybe bamboo.

        • Consider what a % annual production growth means. divide 70 by the rate. That’s the doubling time. But that is production growth, not cumulative.

  • Why does it seem like Solar is considered the key renewable in the future and now wind?

    • It is not the key renewable, but it is the little mans solution. 10 mw wind turbines requires GE to handle.

    • And “not” wind?

      I think it’s that solar is the hot topic right now. The price has fallen very dramatically (below) and installation rates are rapidly accelerating.

      Solar and Tesla. That’s where the big progress is being made at this point in time. In a few months the big topics could be storage and Tesla ;o).

    • One reason might be that wind has actually stalled at unsatisfactory levels since 2009. While solar’s installation rates are even more unsatisfactory, it is showing robust growth still, so it’s easier to keep hoping with solar.

      I think they are fairly equal. Wind is cheaper and has better CF, but solar is a bit better matched to warm countries’ needs and to the daytime peak. Since they are anti-correlated, I think they together can serve to displace half of the fuel (natural gas) that would otherwise be necessary. Unfortunately, this is not enough to meet climate goals and will only postpone things a bit, but OTOH a few more good years is nice.

      • ” Wind is cheaper and has better CF”

        A bit nit-picky, but wind is (for now) cheaper largely because it has a higher CF. It produces more MWh per dollars invested than does solar. The installed price of wind and utility solar is getting fairly close. Solar might be a bit lower but its lower CF results in a higher MWh price.

        What we seem to be seeing is that wind and solar can likely replace all coal and a large portion of natural gas on their own. To get the last portion of NG off our grids will require storage and possibly some dispatchable generation for the rare extended period of lower wind/solar input.

        • ” wind has actually stalled at unsatisfactory levels since 2009″

          The growth in wind installations quit growing as rapidly post 2009 but “stalled” isn’t the correct word. Global wind installations have grown, on average, 5.6% per year following 2009.

          • Wind installations in 2013 were lower than in 2009, so last year, we would have said that installations shrunk 2% year-over-year.

            2014 was as great as 2013 was bad, but the average of 2013 and 2014 was slightly worse than 2012. If 2015 surpasses 2014, I’ll agree there is some life left in global wind, but still, it’s a far cry from the 30% annual growth we got used to up until 2009.

            We would have needed a few more years with 30% growth to keep faith in wind. 45-ish GW/a is far, far from what is needed to save us. It’s simply easier to hope for solar, which still has healthy growth. (As you know, I’m not that optimistic of that either, but I’m just trying to explain the psychology here. Everyone likes a winner, everyone likes momentum. Wind has largely lost that. Solar still has it.)

          • I take it you aren’t aware of how Congress jerked wind around in 2013? And the resulting drop in US wind installations pulled down the global total?

            Picking out a single year, even if it is a sweet, sweet cherry, is not a good way to evaluate how things are progressing. If you look at annual installations there has been one single year out of the last 18 years in which annual installations did not exceed prior year installation. Only one out of the five following 2009.

          • I don’t know how good the Global Wind Energy Council is at predicting the future but Greenpeace has been pretty much the most accurate in other energy predictions.

            Combined they are predicting between 78.2 GW and 102.2 GW of new wind installation in 2015.


          • Page 10. I subtracted the cumulative totals.

            Oops. They use 2013 and 2015, not 2014 and 2015.

            My bad. Sorry.

            Go with the page 18 numbers.

          • Exactly because wind is jerked around by policy, and to avoid cherry-picking either 2013 or 2014, I averaged them and noted that that average is worse than 2012. Isn’t that fair?

            That year, 2012, was the best installation year of the world-excluding-china. 2012 was at 32 GW while 2014 was at 28 GW. (The value of China’s wind can be questioned given that they have 18% CF or so.)

          • Here’s how I look for “stall”.

            2009 – 2010 = +1.3% gain
            2010 – 2011 = +4.2% gain
            2011 – 2012 =+ 11.0% gain
            2012 – 2014 = + 14.0% gain

            Or an average of 7% gain per year over 2012.

            What I see is one nasty year and several years of gain over the previous years. “Stall”, to me, says “no gain”.

          • Yes, that’s one way to see it. My definition is a bit less strict, and for the purpose of the point I was trying to make, I think it’s fine. It’s easier to put your hopes into something that is growing rapidly than something that is growing very slowly.

          • So using GWEC numbers GW installed/year for wind were 26.9(8), 38.5(9), 39(10), 40.6(11), 45.4(12), 35.3(13), 47.3(14)
            12/13 can be average as 40 since the spike/drop is US GOP induced. So 10-13 were all ~40GW, 2014 is up and hopeful for 2015.But this is another number that needs to be at the 100GW/yr range.

        • “What we seem to be seeing is that wind and solar can likely replace all coal and a large portion of natural gas on their own.”

          As you know, I don’t see that. There’s no grid that’s close to doing that and those that have been going rapidly to 20% wind have since stalled there (Spain, Portugal, Ireland…). Solar has worse intermittence and should stall somewhat earlier in terms of penetration. And lots of populous regions are somewhat lacking in one or both resources.

          • Germany hasn’t stalled (below).

            Spain stalled due to their economic crash brought on by a real estate and financing bubble pop. And Spain has stayed stalled largely due to the political influence of their fossil fuel industry.

            I haven’t followed Portugal and Ireland but I suspect a lot of their slowdown is also due to overall economic issues.

            The fossil fuel industry is being badly damaged in many countries. And in some such as Australia and Spain they have sufficient political influence to push back against renewable energy.

            Best to not simply look at changes in installation rates. Dig a bit deeper and see what the real cause likely is. There are far too many “pundits” who make quick attribution assumptions that just happen to fit their agenda.

            ” And lots of populous regions are somewhat lacking in one or both resources.”

            Do you have a list? A list where both wind and solar are in such low supply that it would be difficult to build a grid based on one or both?

          • There are a lot of excuses but no success. Denmark also stalled at 20% wind for many years before they decided “fuggit, let’s just dump it on our neighbours” and went higher.

            Germany is a great example, bad wind and bad solar. UK, bad solar. Large parts of Southeast Asia actually doesn’t have that good sun. For instance, compare the eastern most populous half of China with SoCal:

          • Not true:
            Despite the fact that Denmark has close to 40% of wind power and Switzerland has close to 0% of wind and solar power and is not gigantic compared to Denmark, Switzerland has actually exchanged far more power than Denmark has.

            In 2012 Denmark has exported 17 TWh: link
            In the same year Switzerland has exported 89 TWh: link

            Once Denmark gets up to 70% wind power it will switch to electric heating and this will increase demand response and reduce power exchange. So even at 90% wind power, Denmark won’t reach the power exchange rates, Switzerland has at 0% wind power.

          • Denmark can get 200% wind but it still won’t make the grid that it’s part of have a lot of wind.

          • I’ve explained this as well as I could. I’m sorry I couldn’t do it better.

          • Certainly, Denmark (39.1%)renewables is predominantly wind.

            Spain has large solar and wind. (45%?, a little less for hydro)

            Countries can largely displace their coal and a large portion of natural gas electric generation (not capacity).

            The integration of wind and solar is not just aided by natural gas plants, many other tools contribute to enable this.


            In fact, many FF plants can be run at very low capacity factors with wind and solar.

            Its not that they are completely taken off the grid. We see a harbinger of this in Australia. Some coal plants are completely shut down. Others are furloughed, being used in only certain parts of the year.

            The net effect is that while natural gas plants could still be grid connected, they would be used so little that their GHG would be effectively reduced to small amounts.

            For 2014, renewable electricity in these countries.

            Some of these are high in hydro which does not apply to our question, but certainly Denmark and Spain have high levels of wind and or solar.

            Denmark 39.1%
            Portugal 63 %
            Germany 27.3%
            Austria 68.1%
            Sweden 61.8%
            Spain 45 %






          • Denmark has a special situation. They are able to use one or more of the Scandinavian countries for storage by sharing power with the large Scandinavian hydroelectric grid.

          • Actually:
            Despite the fact that Denmark has close to 40% of wind power and Switzerland has close to 0% of wind and solar power and is not gigantic compared to Denmark, Switzerland has actually exchanged far more power than Denmark has.

            In 2012 Denmark has exported 17 TWh: link
            In the same year Switzerland has exported 89 TWh: link

            Once Denmark gets up to 70% wind power it will switch to electric heating and this will increase demand response and reduce power exchange. So even at 90% wind power, Denmark won’t reach the power exchange rates, Switzerland has at 0% wind power.

          • That illustrates how transmission has been used for variable demand both in and outside of Switzerland. It also illustrates that a bigger view than small areas is needed to see how the system works. Countries like Switzerland can be both exporters and cross border transporters of power. A large, well networked, and well operated grid facilitates management of both variable demand and supply.

          • Unfortunately certain people apparently don’t understand that a grid doesn’t care whether it’s being used for variable demand or variable production.

          • Spread the word. 🙂

          • Transmission is not a special situation. Its one tool used to allow variable renewables and variable loads. California, Texas, Iowa, Scotland, Germany, and a whole lot of other places do that.

            Transmission has long been used for variable demand. It can do the same for variable generation.

            There is a big list of tools that allow variable renewables. And variable demand. Storage is only one, and its not the most economical means.

            Its theoretically possible to meet all demand with just gas peaker and variable renewables. With that toolkit, there are many ways, not one or a few. Denmark shows one way to do it.

          • It is not just transmission. It is transmission to a place that has a massive amount of hydro. I think Norway is close to 100% electricity from hydro.

          • You are enumerating all the means of having high percentage renewables. 🙂 Hydro is a renewable, too.
            Speaking of transmission to a place with a massive amount of hydro, undersea transmission lines are being connected to Norway all over the EU North Sea area, from Scotland, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, … did I miss one? Denmark..
            Anyway, they all intend to pack more electrons into Norway from wind all over the place in the North Sea. As is, the connection acts like storage to a degree if it reduces the amount of water flowing out dams in Norway. But better still is converting the existing dams to pumped storage. There are lots of places where this can be done without adding a new dam. All it takes is reservoirs at two levels within a distance.
            I have read a EU paper on that, but I can’t remember where it is.
            Norway, and Sweden storage are so great, that even a fraction of that converted to pumped storage is a colossal amount of storage. Its in TeraWatthours.

          • Thank you. Nice. The data starts to dribble out my brains. 🙂

          • Google docs are my friend, er, replacement memory….

          • Keep in mind: Scandinavia has an average demand of about 37 GW and Germany has 68 GW. So this demand needs to be covered first, before there’s anything to pump. (The German windturbines combined have hardly ever produced more than 35 GW.)
            (If Norway would install pumps it couldn’t use them for decades if ever.)

          • Now explain away Spain and Portugal. And the Republic of Ireland.

            And the island nation of
            Tokelau which is 100% solar.

            And the island of El Hierro island will is on track to 100% wind with PuHS this year.

          • Ireland was 19% wind in 2014. Portugal from Wikipedia: “Portugal combines wind and hydropower by using nighttime winds to pump water uphill and sending the water back through generators to produce power the next day”.

            Spain was 27%, with 15% hydro to back it up, and they have some amount of natural gas that Wikipedia doesn’t list percentage-wise. Spain has their population growth pretty well under control. So all the wind can be an adjunct and supplement what they already have.

            Obviously Toklau, wherever that might be, can’t get 100% solar without other circumstances, so you should know better than to list it. It is meaningless, but with, and without the appropriate disclaimers.

            And if PuHS is pumped hydro storage, why list El Hierro Island? The dispute between the opimists and the pessimists isn’t that you can have renewables with storage, it is over how much renewable you can have without storage.

          • “Obviously Toklau, wherever that might be, can’t get 100% solar without other circumstances,”

            Correct. The other circumstance is that they were paying a fortune for diesel to run generators.

            “And if PuHS is pumped hydro storage, why list El Hierro Island?”

            Because you missed the part about El Hierro going 100% wind?

            ” The dispute between the opimists and the pessimists isn’t that you can have renewables with storage, it is over how much renewable you can have without storage”

            Now there, folks, is what seems to be the first appearance of a brand new myth.

            I have no idea why your bloomers are all twisted over Portugal and Spain. Yes, the have hydro. Lots of countries have hydro. But Portugal and Spain are closing on 30% wind which, according to some, can’t happen.

            In fact, there’s a guy who comments frequently on Forbes who claims that grids will crash once wind or solar get past 10%.

          • “Correct. The other circumstance is that they were paying a fortune for diesel to run generators.”

            Makes no sense. You can’t get 100% from solar without other circumstances.

            “Because you missed the part about El Hierro going 100% wind?”

            And you missed the part that there is no debate about renewables getting to 100% with storage. The only argument is about how much penetration they can get without storage.

            “Now there, folks, is what seems to be the first appearance of a brand new myth.”

            You aren’t making sense. We are having this discussion precisely because of the disagreements between optimists and pessimists.

          • “You can’t get 100% from solar without other circumstances.”

            What in the world are these “other circumstances” of which you speak?

            There’s no debate as to whether we could build a 100% renewable grid? Have you not been paying attention to the people who are telling us that nuclear must be part of the solution and people like berra who are basically saying that renewables can’t exceed 30% of grid supply? And people who claim that more than a modest amount of wind and solar will destabilize grids?

            Now, at what point do we need storage.

            We won’t need mass storage until we’ve installed enough wind and solar to allow us to close down all coal and to turn off all NG a significant part of the time.

            Past the point at which the grid is running coal free and periodically NG free additional wind/solar would be “overbuilding”, meaning that we’d be curtailing some wind/solar now and then simply it would be needed.

            At that point we answer an economic question. Does it make sense to add storage or to further overbuild? If storage is cheap then storage. If storage isn’t cheap then overbuild.

            It’s somewhere out in the future and the need for utility storage may drift further and further out.

            As storage prices fall we may see end-users install storage and use their own storage for high demand hours. That could cut down the need for utilities to over very large peaks.

            And we could see a lot more creative load-shifting, making some loads very dispatchable and able to run basically only when supply is high, again postponing the need for utility storage.

            In other words we don’t know when we’ll need large scale storage except “later”.

          • “people like berra who are basically saying that renewables can’t exceed 30% of grid supply”

            I don’t say that, not even basically. There is no upper ceiling, really (except 100% of course), but there is increasing costs involved in pushing penetration above local capacity factor for wind and solar. So high costs, in fact, that the world will keep using far too much coal and NG.

          • You are making far too much out of the CF issue. It’s the latest pro-nuclear talking point and it simply is not very important.

            It’s not the CF of wind and solar, it’s how much we can use “directly from the farm” and the cost of storage. (And the cost of alternatives.)

            If you’ll watch the storage video posted in this thread you might get a feel for how little storage we will actually need.

            Onshore wind in the US is likely to end up at 3c/kWh (or a bit less). PV solar is going to end up at around the same price, and that’s only while finex and capex are being paid off.

            Following that 20 payoff period the cost will drop to 1c/kWh or so for 2-3 decades for wind and 3+ decades for solar so longer term prices will be lower than those I’m about to post.​

            In other words, electricity generation is likely to be very, very cheap.

            Storage is likely to be somewhat cheap. But even if we stayed with PuHS at 5c to 10c/kWh the overall price of electricity would be low. If, as looks to be the case, need to store no more than 20% of our total electricity – let’s look at numbers. (Remember, 10% – 20% of the total comes from hydro, geothermal, etc.)

            40% wind at 3c/kWh
            30% solar at 3c/kWh
            20% stored wind/solar (10c for storage) at 13c/kWh

            That’s 90% of our electricity averaging out at 4.7c/kWh. With 5c/kWh storage it drops to 3.7c/kWh.

            Now, I think we’re in agreement that we have to quit using fossil fuels for electricity generation. 3.7 cents to 4.7c/kWh is cheap when we consider the other low carbon alternatives.

          • Let’s look at the alternative.

            New nuclear cost. I can find no reality based cost below 12.5c/kWh. That’s the contract price of a Russian built reactor in Turkey. Vogtle and Hinkley Point are one to three cents higher.

            Starting with nuclear and adding storage takes us from 12.5 into the 17.5-22.5c/kW range.

            Load-following might in some cases be cheaper but you’re starting off a 12.5c/kWh base which is simply non-competitive with W/S/Storage.

          • We’ll simply have to see where we end up. I frankly don’t see any good alternatives at all in the West. We could do nuclear cheaply, but we choose not to and it seems we will keep choosing not to at least for the coming few decades. We don’t really have firm enough politics to get industrial learning effects going.

            Thus we are stuck with whatever intermittent power can provide and as you know I don’t share your views on costs and scalability. But it seems very clear that you will get a fair shot at it, as there is nothing else on the horizon. For the foreseeable future, we’ll do it your way.

            Its just that I fear you’ll keep saying that it will be easy, decade after decade, and keep blaming governments, recessions and stuff for stalling ramp curves. And there will always be some new storage tech or long distance transmission lines just around the corner that will save us. Until we are all cooked. I sincerely hope I’m wrong. And that Asia and Africa are wiser than us.

          • You could do nuclear cheaply? I have seen no evidence of that.

            You seem stuck on intermittent as a descriptor of renewables and worried about high integration.

            We don’t need 80% wind and solar, 50% will do. We must not dismiss dispatch able renewables.

            Existing power systems accommodate 4:1 variability without storage. We can integrate high levels of renewables using existing techniques.

            In order to convince yourself, you must read research like that available from NREL. Without it, you cannot do the subject justice.

          • To me, biomass is almost as bad as coal. It is taxing the ecosystems when we collect it and it pollutes when we burn it. Hydro is great in a way, but I’d rather let the rivers run free.

            Let’s say electricity consumption increases by 50-100% until 2050 while we need CO2-emissions to go down by almost 100%. Then I think 50% wind+solar won’t do. Hydro is at 17% and I hope its share will shrink. I hope for very little biomass (just burning residuals and waste, essentially, not gathering biomass for the sole purpose of burning). So I’d like at least 80% wind + solar.

            I’d like to think I’ve read a lot of research.

          • What research have you read.

          • I don’t keep a list. Do you?

          • Major papers. Talking about Energy Futures studies for 2050. Goals and predictions depend on the region and the scope. Some only consider electricity. NREL is electricity plus some EV growth. Jacobson is all energy, not just transport. NREL is all US.

            NREL calculated for 80% renewables. (they did increments up to 90%)


            For NREL 80%, that would mean 80% renewable would contain zero hydro, geothermal, biomass, CSP with storage, not even counting biomass. I don’t know if that is what you are thinking.

            Diesendorf is wind and solar bullish. For 2050 in Australia, he predicts 66% solar and wind.


            Jacobson doesn’t favor biomass, but includes geothermal, and hydro.


          • In my head. Difficult to read them all in entirety and digest. NREL is hundreds of pages per volume in four volumes. That’s substantial. It takes a special passion to wade through that. A cursory read won’t do. But some reviews are helpful guides. Some papers are shorter and more condensed. But even these don’t live in vacuums. They build on years of prior research. Don’t have to be familiar with all of it. But some familiarity helps.
            Energy futures, LCA, and others are special areas. Difficult because of breadth.

          • Sounds like you are thinking of 100% renewables by 2050? Just trying to understand your numbers. NREL is 20% conventional for 80% renewables by 2050.

          • I can only imagine you are referring to 100% renewables from that comment. Most researchers don’t do such high solar and wind. The rest has to be dispatch able renewables.

            Electricity plus some transport is what NREL has done from low % to 90% renewables. Its the most conservative estimate. The reason I prefer it is that it takes into account hourly load matching and transmission from real world data. And its for a very large region, the continental US, so its results are extendable in scale. Some transport with EVS. It doesn’t take much chances. In fact its too conservative. The authors already admitted solar had advanced much faster and concluded renewable costs were similar to BAU. Thats solid.

            And the results are robust against many constraints. There are many ways to achieve them. Not that much biomass there. Dispatchable renewables split between hydro, CSP with storage, geothermal, and biomass.

            NREL does not even consider any tech not already established in 2010, like floating offshore wind or wave energy.

            It represents a reliable minimum capability. And its buttressed by other estimates from other researchers.

            Diesendorf envisons two thirds wind and solar for Australia.

            Budischak envisions very high wind and solar and does load matching with overcapacity and hydrogen storage. I am not so sanguine about hydrogen storage, but overcapacity is meaningful. And he does not consider transmission, assuming copperplate, the opposite of NREL. So I don’t consider that as reliable as NREL.

            Ecofys is big on biomass, which I agree, is not optimum.

            Jacobson tangles with all energy. Its much easier to study electricity only and consider transport electrification. Substitutes for heating, cooling, and air and marine transport get too speculative for my tastes.

            Although I am confident these are tractable, they are not relatively easy, clear analysis that NREL did.

            I prefer to establish a clear, reliable lower limit first. I am confident NREL does that. Its actually too conservative.

            I don’t believe 100% renewables is realistic. Outside of an outright FF ban, it won’t happen.

            And 80% solar and wind doesn’t make sense. There is no need for it, and other dispatch able renewables will compete, particularly when high variable renewables integrations happen. Storage and flexible sources will be stimulated economically at high integration levels. Thats more realistic.
            There are many often discounted means of integration like demand management which are neglected right now.

            Futures integration studies like NRELs can give an insight into how it can work. Its not possible to see it by doing isolated calculations. Simulation results can illustrate graphically how it works where mere calculations can fail.

          • A small nit being picked…

            Budischak isn’t suggesting building a 100% wind/solar grid. Their paper simply asks whether it would be possible/affordable.

          • Correct. So its not really the best paper to refer to for function.
            IMO, NREL is better for function.

          • ” We could do nuclear cheaply,”

            Oh, horseshit.

            I am so friggin’ tired of people making this so very obviously inaccurate claim. If cheap nuclear were possible then we’d see cheap nuclear being built.

            Cheap nuclear is not being built.

          • You recently gave a number of reasons why wind wasn’t scaling rapidly even though it is cheap. Most of your points could be paraphrased “wind IS cheap but only when/after …”.

            You guessed it: These same reasons apply to nuclear! It is cheap, but only if you have a positive government, regulatory environment, get supply chains going and so on.

          • The only place where nuclear is not very expensive is where labor is very cheap. China for example.

            Even places where the government is eager to build more nuclear is not cheap. The government of Turkey has been seeking new nuclear for years and has recently signed an agreement with Russia for new nuclear at 12.5c/kWh.
            Your claim is bogus.

          • South Korea is also cheap and does not have very cheap labour. Also, parts of Europe has built cheaply before, so why not again? There is a way to keep labour costs down, btw: Don’t require excessive licensing.

            Your claims about Turkey is not correct. WNA has this to say: “TETAS will buy a fixed proportion of the power at a fixed price of US$ 12.35 cents/kWh for 15 years, or to 2030. The proportion will be 70% of the output of the first two units and 30% of that from units 3&4 over 15 years from commercial operation of each. The remainder of the power will be sold by the project company on the open market. After 15 years, when the plant is expected to be paid off, the project company will pay 20% of the profits to the Turkish government.”

            So on average half of the power at a fixed price for 15 years, then profit sharing with the Turkish government. I think also when the deal was closed, the dollar was substantially weaker. Not sure if the contract is in dollars. I think this deal is not that bad, and of course, if you ask another country to do everything including financing, there will be some extra expense.

            Turkey has another deal for four japanese reactors: “In May 2013 the government accepted the proposal from a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva, with Itochu, which proposed four Atmea1 reactors with total capacity of about 4800 MWe at a cost of some $22 billion.”

            $4.6/W is an ok price for nuclear. I’d take that over solar and wind any day. Of course, China is aiming for sub-$2/W in its builds.

          • Tell you what, berra. Why don’t you go hang out on one of the sites where nuclear fans entertain themselves with tales of how the next generation of nuclear will be cheap and how all the world has expensive nuclear because of US regulations.

            You’re not reality based enough for us to waste time on.

          • You’re just angry because I’ve corrected your factual errors on costs and other stuff like ten times now. And you haven’t been off a little, but way, way off. Should I make a list?

          • Where does one find a reliable price for installed nuclear in South Korea? One that includes all costs.

            Turkey. 12.4 < 12.5. I'll concede that.

            Now you explain how 12.4c/kWh is competitive in a free market.

          • Nuclear has had decades to get cheap. And has had massive support from governments all around the globe.

            Nuclear has failed. I expect it will take a while longer for you to admit that to yourself.

          • Put Toklau in your search engine. Find it on Google maps. Dial back and look for ” surrounding areas that provide them electricity for the 80% of the time when solar cannot”.

            (Are you not aware that when someone talks about a 100% wind/solar grid the assumption is that there is storage? It’s sounding that way.)

          • We are debating how much penetration wind/solar can get without storage. There is no debate about whether wind/solar can get to 100% with sufficient storage.

          • Essentially, Denmark is already nearly 40% wind. And that is as high as its offshore capacity factor. Probably the same or higher than its overall onshore/offshore average capacity factor.

          • “But Portugal and Spain are closing on 30% wind which, according to some, can’t happen.”

            Has something happened during 2015? In 2014, Spain was at 19% and Portugal at 23%. I think wind can go higher, though, but it will be increasingly impractical. Remember Denmark is hitting 140% of consumption at times @ 40% wind. With a fairly isolated grid (and considering Spain’s 20% nuclear fleet), that is not cool.

          • Both have had 27% wind years.

          • No, they have not. Spain has not been over 19% and Portugal has not been over 23%. Just checked it up to be sure.

          • You’re right. I rechecked Spain and they produced 27% from wind for a three month period. The first site I read did not mention the < 1 year period.

          • How can we can accommodate 4:1 or more demand variation annually without storage, but we need storage for variable renewables?

            We don’t. Its a myth. The video shows how its done.


            And we don’t need 80% wind and solar to get to 80% renewables.

            We only need 50% variable renewables and the rest can be geothermal, biomass, and hydro. From the NREL Futures Study.

            NRELs paper shows only 10% storage to get to 80% renewables by 2050.


            We could make a grid with all natural gas and a variable renewable.

            Or hydro and a renewable.

            Or geothermal and a variable renewable.

            But we probably wouldn’t. Its always best for reliability in a real grid to use the greatest variety of means and sources, including storage.

            You can’t find an existence proof for 80% renewables over a large grid area yet, but you can see all the pieces of the puzzle necessary to do so emerging.

            But there are sub myths like the need for storage breakthroughs to allow renewables. We don’t need storage breakthroughs if we don’t need storage. And existing storage was just fine for NRELs 2010 technology based paper. Now we have PowerWall, way more than we could ever have imagined and much more than we need to reach our goals.

            And PV solar so cheap no one dreamed of it 5 years ago. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another decade.

            And we can see the grid is not going to collapse or become unstable. A lot of old myths are dying.

          • Iowa produced over 28% of its electricity from Wind in 2014. …so your 20% limit for wind is a proven fiction.

            Solar PV is NOT going to stall at a lower percentage. Very low-cost storage is now coming to the market. This will allow Solar PV to be used 24/7. Demand is already so great for Tesla storage that they are already expanding their giga-factory before finishing it. …and there are other, cheaper, battery storage options coming.

            “And lots of populous regions are somewhat lacking in one or both resources.”

            The vast majority of people live in warm sunny regions.

            You’re just a cup half empty kinda guy.

          • So what is Iowa’s gross electricity imports/exports, then? What I’m asking is, is Iowa a grid or is it like Denmark, which is part of the Northern Europe grid?

            Warm, sunny, perhaps, but large parts of southeast asia has worse solar resources than SoCal. India, thankfully, is good though. And no, there is no low-cost storage.

          • Yes, I already understand your point. They’re using grid import/exports to achieve that. Doesn’t matter to me, they are getting there. Look ma, no storage!

            1. Tesla Powerwall.
            2. Aquion, EOS, Ambri, and many others either on the market already or undergoing product trials/testing.

            I don’t agree. Low-cost storage is here.

          • It doesn’t matter to you, but it matters to me. I want scalability proven. Everybody knows that the area closest to a wind farm has a lot of wind, but we haven’t seen a grid with really high penetration wind yet.

            There is no low cost storage. Tesla Powerwall is high cost. It is completely irrelevant for wind penetration.

          • Denmark has 40% wind power and exchanges far less power than Switzerland with close to 0% wind power.

            Also, Denmark has not even switched to electric heating yet. Which it will have in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption. And this will automatically reduce demand response.

          • You want scalability proven, and it seems by existence, but you set the bar higher than existing integration because you set it for an unspecified area you call ” a grid with really high penetration”.

            Since you say that, there is no point in disputing it since you say you have not seen it yet.

            However, the real question is can high renewables integration be obtained? And more specifically without storage.

            But we don’t need to wait for some arbitrary benchmark to know that.

            There is no disputing that some areas already are high renewables, like Sweden and Norway and Iceland. All renewables count. Including hydro and geothermal.

            But we don’t need it to be already here to know it can be done. Thats what studies like NRELs 80% renewables by 2050 study and so many others have done.

            And its much easier to see how that happens when you realize they are only using 50% variable renewables, 30% dispatch able renewables, and 10% storage. Not 80% variable renewables.

            So the goal gets easier from both ends.

            And we really don’t need it to already be done to see that existing experience shows it can be expanded.

            Denmark and Switzerland show one tool used to allow variability. Switzerlands hydro was used traditionally not for renewables variation, but for load variation. What can be used for one variation, can be used for the other.

            Storage is by no means the only tool used to accommodate variation.

            You don’t define low cost storage, either. Lets put it this way. You don’t need to. By one metric, PowerWall is low cost.

            At $250/kwhr its low enough to displace gas peakers. That is significant.

          • The Republic of Ireland had a 30% wind penetration in 2014.

            “There is no low cost storage.”

            Define “low cost” in terms of cost per kWh to store for 24 hours.

          • 30% is good, but not enough. I think we discussed storage enough in the Hinkley thread. I’ll just point out again that 24 hours is not nearly enough for wind. The lulls and the good periods often last weeks.

          • You need to find a lull in both wind and solar over a very wide geographical area in order to carry that argument forward.

            The common example pro-nuclear people use is a week or two in the PNW for wind. No inclusion of wind in other parts of the Western grid or potential offshore wind is ever included. Neither is solar.

            Renewables will require a wider ‘harvest area’ than what we commonly use for large thermal plants. It’s simply how things will work best.

            You might want to read this paper….


          • Pump-up hydro storage is not expensive.

            CitiGroup sets the cost of new PuHS at $230/kWh.

            Financed at 5% for 20 years and cycled once per day the cost per kWh works out to be about 5 cents. Less if the facility cycles more often, once for nighttime wind and once for daytime solar.

            We’ve got more than enough places to build PuHS. Probably a few thousand existing dams along with thousands of abandoned rock quarries and mines. Plus we can do closed loop storage by excavating two reservoirs at different heights.

            That’s our safety net. We can easily get batteries that cost less, but we know that we have an alternative that is affordable if nothing else appears.

          • Once per day is too often for wind, so even if the numbers are turn out to work, it will be much more expensive. And I very much doubt you assertion of more enough places. You need sizeable reservoirs below the dam to be able to pump.b

          • Actually, before you can pump you need to cover the demand including all electric water heaters. So there’s no need for additional pumps for decades to come in any case.

            According to this study Germany requires 7 TWh of storage and 18 GW of flexible power at 80% renewable share. link
            (A 100% renewable share only makes sense once the entire heating and hot water sector is electrified).

            Tiny Switzerland has only 10% of the German population and 2017 will have an installed hydro capacity of 16 GW. With a nuclear capacity of 3.3 GW, a thermal power capacity of 1.6 GW and an average demand of 6.8 GW, a dispatchable capacity of approximately 13 GW remains. This is fact: link, page 40. Also, the storage capacity of the Swiss hydro power lakes is 8.8 TWh. This is also fact: link

            The crucial point is this: One tiny country in the year 2017 can in principal almost solve the notorious storage conundrum of Europe’s largest economy post 2050 without even using the gigantic storage capacity in Norway.

            Keep in mind Norway has 84 TWh of storage capacity and Scandinavia has a power demand of well over 30 GW which Germany would have to generate as a surplus before Scandinavia could even pump anything: link.
            Btw, a direct power connection between Germany and Norway is already getting built: link

          • First of all, hydro is flexible but not infinitely so. For instance, one doesn’t want to switch between zero and maximum flow just like that, because there are river ecosystems to mind and there are river banks that will get eroded. Also, there are seasonal variations in how much water you get and you don’t want to go too low.

            I don’t speak German so I won’t examine all of your links. But I do know there are some very optimistic reports out there but also that Germany seems to be envisioning shrinking electricity use by 30% or so to make it work. I don’t think that will happen. Germany already has half the US per-capita-consumption of electricity.

            However, if you just have a look at the orders of magnitude of the EU electricity use by source, and add Norway and Switzerland (let’s say 160 TWh), it’s fairly obvious that the hydro doesn’t suffice:

            Worldwide and in the EU, AFAIK, hydro is sub-20%. I think that is generally needed to load follow, not to balance intermittent power.

          • Over 10 GW of that hydro power in Switzerland is not run of the river and neither are the ones in Norway.
            So they can actually just throw a switch and go from 0 to max power within a couple of minutes.

            If they are missing a large water area at the base they’ve simply built an equalizing reservoir which looks like this:

            Hydro is not needed to provide more than 15% of the energy, it just needs to provide 60% of the maximum load when necessary. The rest can easily be taken care of by demand response (e.g. turn off electric water heaters), power exchange, incinerators, biomass and geothermal.

            That 10 GW of flexible hydro power was just producing 2.3 GW on average.

          • They can throw a switch to use the full range of capacity but they won’t. As I said, they have ecosystems and riverbanks to protect. What you show is very small reservoirs.

          • And yet even this tiny pond is connected to a 300 MW turbine.

            One artificial lake in Norway which is directly connected to the Ocean (large enough?) in Norway has a about 3000 times more area:

          • It’s being done. Why do you claim it won’t be?

          • Eh, what? I’m sure there are some hydro sites with little environment to protect, but I’m talking more in general.

          • Somewhere I gave you a massive list.

          • Once per day is likely to low for an operating grid. Nighttime wind to morning peak, daytime solar to afternoon/evening. Lots of peaks and valleys around the clock that create partial cycling.

            What proof would you like for “more than enough places”?

            I’ll copy over something I wrote a couple years back –

            At this point in time pump-up hydro is our cheapest way to store electricity. Pump water up with spare electricity, let it flow back through turbines when we need electricity.

            We’ve got over 20 GW of pump-up in the US that we installed back when we were building nuclear reactors. There’s no way to turn them off when we don’t need the power so we built pump-up to carry late night surplus power to daytime peak hours.

            It’s not uncommon for people to claim that there are no more places to build pump-up. They usually claim the tree huggers wouldn’t allow it. (And, lots of us would object to damming any more streams.)

            But how about converting some existing dams to pump-up. Might there be a couple we could use?

            There’s a 1997 study of existing dams on federal land. The researchers were interested in seeing if any were potential power producers. They looked at 871 existing dams and screened them for adequate hydraulic head (enough pressure to run a turbine), stream inflow, reasonable distance from transmission lines, outside of protected areas, etc. They found that 6 had hydro generation potential. That together they could produce 1,230 MW. Enough power for 957,000 residences


            Luckily they posted a list of all 871 dams in the appendix, along with dam height/head.

            I worked my way through the first 212. Out of that 212 sample 29% (61) had at least 50′ of head. 9% (19) had at least 100′ of head. And 4% (8) had at least 190′ of head.

            In the US we’ve got around 80,000 existing dams. We use about 2,500 currently to produce electricity. That leaves us with approximately 77,500 candidate existing dams.

            Using the federal dam percentages we might expect 22,475 with greater than 50′ of head. 6,975 with greater than 100′ of head. And 3,100 with greater than 190′ of head.

            Potentially thousands of existing dams usable for pump-up storage.

            Almost all dams (every dam I’ve ever visited) has a set-aside safety zone below it.

            Go a short distance from the dam and excavate a ‘2 to 5 day hole’. A large enough basin to hold the water that would be used for generation over the longest period in which the wind and Sun let us down.

            Install a pump/turbine combo between the two reservoirs.

            Run wire.

            Remember, the lower reservoir needs to hold only a few days of water, max. It’s the upper that holds the “deep storage” supply.

            And here’s a study that finds thousands of sites in Europe where one or both reservoirs already exist.


            In the UK and US we are building PuHS in abandoned rock quarries. In the US there are over 1,000 old rock quarries on federal lands alone.

            Canada is building a PuHS in an abandoned open pit mine. There are lots of those around the world.

            Germany has been investigating building PuHS in abandoned subsurface mines. The world is full of those.

            Need more?

          • Heindl will show it’s hydraulic rock storage at the Energy Storage North America conference 12.-15. October San Diego.

            That one could be built in flat regions with suitable geology and would be cheaper than hydro.

          • It’s an idea. But until there is something up and running it’s only an idea.

            Ideas are fun but, unfortunately, many have yet to be discovered fatal flaws. There are many very promising ideas that I’d love to see work but I try to make sure I remember that they are ideas and not realities.

            I’m so hoping that Ambri’s liquid metal batteries work out. And they’ve worked at the prototype level, but they aren’t on the grid so they aren’t yet real.

          • Despite the fact that Denmark has close to 40% of wind power and Switzerland has close to 0% of wind and solar power and is not gigantic compared to Denmark, Switzerland has actually exchanged far more power than Denmark has.

            In 2012 Denmark has exported 17 TWh: link
            In the same year Switzerland has exported 89 TWh: link

            Once Denmark gets up to 70% wind power it will switch to electric heating and this will increase demand response and reduce power exchange. So even at 90% wind power, Denmark won’t reach the power exchange rates, Switzerland has at 0% wind power.

          • So Switzerland is not a grid either. So?

          • Facts just show that countries with significant amounts of wind power don’t necessarily exchange more power than countries who don’t care for wind power. On the contrary as the facts above show.

          • You lost track of what should be proven (high-penetration wind) and applied flawed logic. Please try again.

          • Denmark’s 40% wind share is a relatively high wind penetration and despite this high wind penetration and despite the fact that Denmark is hardly using any electric heaters, Denmark is not even reaching 20% of the power exchange rate in Switzerland.

          • Still irrelevant. Denmark is not a grid. Switzerland is not a grid. There is no grid with high-penetration wind power, AFAIK.

          • Denmark has 40% wind power and Denmark has a grid and Switzerland has a grid and Denmark is exchanging not even 20% as much power as Switzerland does. Even though Denmark has over a 100 times more wind power than Switzerland.

          • This is getting ridiculous. Denmark is a small part of a much wider grid. It is not very interesting that the house closest to a wind farm can be said to have millions of percent wind power. Neither is it interesting that Denmark can do 40% wind, because, again, it is not a grid.

            That Switzerland is not a grid either is irrelevant. Give me a grid (a region with very little gross electricity trade) with high wind penetration. Don’t give me non-grids with arbitrary amounts of wind. We all know non-grids can have any amount of wind – zero or a million percent.

          • I’ve explained this as well as I could. I’m sorry I couldn’t do it better.

          • I understand what you’re saying. It’s hard to find a country/state with high wind penetration that doesn’t also have the ability to power share with surrounding countries/states.

            Up higher I gave you Spain and Portugal which are approaching 30% wind penetration and have little connection with other grids.

            The fact that we don’t yet have an isolated grid with 30% or 40% wind penetration seems to be due to the fact that it takes time to install generation. We haven’t yet had time to build one.

            Using my newly acquired term, there is no known ‘critical path problem’ that eliminates the possibility of a 100% wind grid. It would just take storage and would cost more than a mixed input supply.

          • Let’s apply logic. Wind is very cheap, we agree on that. It beats almost everything else on costs. Still we have very low growth. Wind is taking what, 0.3% global market share per year? Why is that?

            There has to be something more to it than the pure kWh cost of production, otherwise growth would be much higher. That something is intermittence. If wind produced evenly, everything else would just melt away.

          • I can offer a few possible answers:

            1) Wind has only recently become inexpensive, onshore.

            2) Wind is inexpensive in those countries like the US who have built up installation infrastructure. Initial builds in a new area are likely to be more expensive as infrastructure is put in place.

            3) Lots of countries perhaps don’t need additional generation and haven’t begun an aggressive program to lower CO2 emissions so there’s no market for wind.

            4) Some countries are led by people who simply “don’t get it”. Look at Australia, the UK (England portion), Turkey, etc.)

            5) Some national governments are heavily influenced by fossil fuel interests (Australia and Canada, for example).

            One of the sites I follow is REVE. They run news articles, mainly about wind. It seems there’s a steady flow of “Country X installs first wind farm” stories.


          • Number 1-2 has some merit, but not that much. There has been plenty time now. Number 3-5 assumes wind isn’t really all that cheap. No government needs to “get it” or begin aggressive programs if the new kid on the block is simply more economical.

            And why are wind forecasts so low?

          • I stated those are possible answers. Things to look at.

            I’m not going to speculate at your level “has some merit, but not that much”. I’d look for data.

            There’s nothing in 3-5 which requires an assumption that ” wind isn’t really all that cheap”.

            Look at Australia where solar is cheap-cheap and wind is not expensive yet the national government is doing all it can to aid the coal industry by opposing wind and solar.

            And look further at Australia where individuals and states are working around the national government’s efforts to suppress renewables.

          • Siting is painfully slow. Wind projects routinely take years to get siting approval. Frankly, that’s part of the delay.

            Solar has not had the same problem.

            There’s also a fundamental production capacity issue: there are only so many wind turbines manufactured per year, and they’ve had trouble scaling up production fast enough to meet demand.

            Solar has had that problem, on and off.

          • Portugal produced 27% of its electricity with wind in 2012. Spain produced 27.4% of its electricity from wind in 2014.

            Portugal and Spain are pretty much cut off from the rest of Europe and North African grids.

            Now, let’s turn this around. You tell us why an almost 100% wind/solar/storage grid would be impossible.

            You’re asking for examples of places that have already exceeded a number that you picked. Over years we’ve watched people pick numbers and then pick new higher numbers as the old one was passed.

            That game gets old. It takes time to go from 1% to 5% to 10% to 30% penetration but only seconds to go from 30% to 40%.

            Give us a fact-based argument for why there’s some wind/solar/storage limit below, say 90%. (I’ll save the last 10% for dispatchable renewable generation.)

          • With cheap storage or unlimited interconnects, anything is possible. I assume we don’t have that.

          • So in other words your “concern” over high wind/solar penetration is unfounded.

            Load-shifting, storage and power exchanges allow for very high wind/solar penetration. Glad that’s settled.

          • Of course they allow for that, technically speaking. But this is about economics. And the simple fact that it hasn’t happened. (Sure, it might have happened on some small island when its nation pays for it, but it hasn’t happened at scale.)

          • OK, believe what you want to believe.

          • How do you use solar PV 24/7 ?

            “You’re just a cup half empty kinda guy.”

            Maybe he is being realistic. Or conservative. In something like this – global warming, the potential peaking of all three fossil fuels within two decades – it is much better to be thinking of problems and things that can go wrong and looking at trends not equalling expectations, than thinking “we got this”. The vast majority of people don’t see a problem and won’t believe there is one until something severe happens. And then you have the people who may think there is a problem but who prefer business as usual since they don’t want to have to pay a penny more in tax or have a standard of living that is a penny lower and they will be dead before things go really bad.

          • The Swiss electric water heaters are currently being charged with surplus nuclear power at night.
            In case Europe ever installs significant amounts of PV, these water heaters will simply be charged at noon instead. Easy peasy.

          • Easy peasy, but what about the scale necessary? What about winter? Lafayette just mentioned the need to take this seriously…

          • Ok, great. Europe can integrate any amount of wind and solar, because Switzerland has 14 GW hydro. Thanks.

          • Switzerland can run its country on surplus wind and solar power from its neighbors and export hydro power at night during calm periods. (But at this point its neighbors have still far too little renewable capacity installed.)

          • I don’t see using solar electrical output to charge water heaters in the daytime gets their usage to 24/7. It sounds like they still are only used (outputting) when the sun is shining.

          • If you charge the electric water heaters at noon you can obviously install much more PV, before you even need to think about storing it.

            The point is get rid of fossil fuels in the hot water sector too. To have an 80% renewable grid and still waste fossil fuels to heat water be inept if not insane.

          • I don’t see how charging solar heaters removes the need for solar storage. You won’t be powering anything from solar (TVs, lights, dishwashers, washers, etc.) for the majority of the day.

          • Little power/energy is needed for electric consumers which actually do need power on demand such as TV and lighting. So, these consumers can run on flexible hydro power:

            According to the Swiss utilities Switzerland has the best nuclear power plants in the world and all those 5 nuclear power plants just failed to produce any power and the lights didn’t go out. In fact, Switzerland actually still exported power.

          • Look at the issue in a larger way.

            There are routine loads that have some flexibility as to when they are supplied. The more we can power them directly with “extra” renewable wind/solar, the less wind/solar we have to store to power them at other times.

            EVs are a great example. Cars sit parked about 90% of their lives. By plugging in some of the fleet during the day and some at night we can charge them when power input is spiking. (EVs need only three hours per day charging on average.)

            If we charge all EVs directly from wind/solar then we need no storage in order to charge cars.

            Same goes for heating water (in well insulated water heaters), storing “ice” during late night hours for AC use during hot days, overcooling food freezers late at night and lowering peak hour needs, etc.

            This is stuff I do all the time, being off the grid with only solar panels. I pump water, use large power tools, iron, do laundry on sunny days and little to no of that when I’m running off my batteries.

            Load shifting. Dispatchable loads.

          • You also need to keep in mind that electric water heaters can also run on wind power and PV and Wind power complement each other:

            Fact 1: If a grid has 1 GW of PV and 1 GW of wind power, the probability that more than 1 GW is produced from both these power sources combined is typically only around 3% to 4%: link.

            Fact 2: Nameplate capacity of wind and solar combined in Germany could be curtailed by 50% and one wouldn’t lose any energy yield (installed capacity = 73 GW; max power production = 35 GW). (This means capacity factor of both power options combined is doubled automatically). link, page 38.

            Fact 3: PV and wind power complement each other seasonally as well: link, page 16.

          • I don’t understand Fact 2, particularly the statement that “capacity factor is doubled automatically”. I don’t see how combining solar and wind can affect the capacity factor, which I believe is how much they output as a percentage of their nameplate capacity.

          • Again: Germany never produced more than 35 GW from wind and solar at any point of time in that year, even though it had 73 GW of wind and solar power installed.
            So, you can essentially half the nameplate capacity.
            (It’s never like 73 GW at 3 o’clock and 0 GW at 4 o’clock. It’s actually never more than 35 GW at any point of time).

          • LafayetteCoboll,

            “How do you use solar PV 24/7?”
            Battery, or other, storage.

            Yes, I understand your point on keeping an eye open to possible limitations. I’m an engineer by trade. I’m very careful of projects, if there is what I call a “critical path” problem, one without a reasonable solution apparent. If you really want to do such a project, or want me to, then I will insist the critical path problem be solved first, so less time and money is wasted if it cannot be done.

            There is no critical path problems, AFAIK, for Wind, Solar PV, Storage, and EVs to solve this problem. Are there problems that need solution? Oh yes. Are they “critical path”, something we don’t know how to do at all, or that is a limit, like being able to contain a fusion reaction? No.

            1. berra is fearing a limit to the percentage of penetration for wind and solar. First it was a 5% max limit on grids for renewable energy (RE). Then it was 15%. Now the break-through-institute (a nay sayer dirt bag organization against RE) is saying 30%. Sorry, but there are already islands and towns that are doing 100% RE. berra is just exhibiting the next stage of paradigm thinking. 100% Wind, Solar PV, Storage, and EVs can be done. It is becoming the more economical (i.e. better, even for anit-AGW types) choice in more and more areas. As a result, we are going to see very high levels of penetration whether anyone likes it or not. (caveat – I don’t think we’ll go to 100% Wind, Solar PV, and Storage. It is possible to do this, but I think we’ll have still have a mix and it will take a couple of decades …but the penetration level is going to be very high.)

            2. berra says no low-cost storage. Apparently he missed the memo about Tesla. The demand for the Powerwall is “nutty” to quote Elon Musk. …and there are other chemistries coming to the market, or already on the market, that are going to out-compete Tesla’s Powerwall. There are multiple contenders and multiple technical approaches …and we’re not just talking laboratory stuff. We’re also talking proof of concept and initial marketing phase for a number of them.

            Very low-cost Storage is going to allow for a phenomenal penetration of Solar PV. One of the best examples is Ambri’s LMB:
            $200/kWh cost is a guess that is probably high because the materials they use are very cheap …and abundant. More than 50,000 deep-cycle life, because the liquid metal surfaces are self-healing.
            $200/kWh / 50,000 = 0.4c/kWh storage cost over the life of the battery.
            Of course they are only 75% effecient, so your stored energy will increase in price by 30%. Wind that is now headed for 3c/kWh will cost: 3 + 1 + 0.4 = 4.4c/kWh when stored.
            Solar PV (utility) now headed for 4c/kWh will cost: 4 + 1.3 + 0.4 = 5.7c/kWh. The later will make 24/7 Solar PV power available in many sunny areas.

            Lithium batteries will reach $150/kWh cost in the next few years. The cycle-life for reasonable ones (I’m a ferrite one now, LiFePO4) is 3,000 deep-cycles.
            $150/kWh / 3,000 = 5c/kWh
            …and lithium batteries are easily of 90% for energy turn-around efficiency.
            If you cannot get to that price point in the next few years, then you should not be in this market.

            Now, look at the price of electricity at the end-of-grid in Hawaii, Australia, and Chile, just to start. Look at what is happening (still) to the cost of Solar PV. We’re talking below half the cost of end-of-grid electricity for STORED 24/7 Solar PV. That is THE recipe for disruptive replacement.

            (That’s still a little over-simplified. I’m ignoring cost of money for example, but you get the idea.)

            …as competition continues to drive the cost of Wind, Solar PV, and Storage down…

            Hopefully that explains why I’m bullish. …and I do not see the limitations berra sees. Now if you want to talk about the human over population problem and problems that will come from that, then I’ll be more cynical. I ain’t no polyanna.

            kind regards, mike

          • Good post, Mike. The term “critical path problem”, I’m going to find that useful.

          • First, I don’t think there is a human overpopulation problem, so I guess we disagree about everything. 🙂

            Nobody is arguing that 100% RE is hard to do from a purely technical and theoretical perspective. It’s not. My skepticism stems from what I know of the economics of high-penetration intermittent renewables. With higher penetration, each new intermittent installation is of less value than the last and the impetus use natgas for the rest will increase, not decrease. (Btw, I’m not even sure solar PV life-cycle CO2-emissions are low enough to be sustainable.)

            This isn’t about what we CAN do, but about what we WILL do, and at what rate. We are running a chicken race against the climate, and the climate is winning. I simply find the optimism irresponsible and unhelpful.

            With all due respect, the Tesla battery is for wealthy enthusiasts.

          • ” With higher penetration, each new intermittent installation is of less value than the last and the impetus use natgas for the rest will increase, not decrease”

            Please explain why the same is not also true for high penetration with nuclear, coal, hydro, geothermal, or natural gas.

          • “(Btw, I’m not even sure solar PV life-cycle CO2-emissions are low enough to be sustainable.)”

            The NREL can help you with that.

          • “This isn’t about what we CAN do, but about what we WILL do, and at what rate. We are running a chicken race against the climate, and the climate is winning. I simply find the optimism irresponsible and unhelpful.”

            We are not doing enough at the moment. No argument there.

            But we are building the foundation we need in order to get most fossil fuels off our grids over the next 20 to 25 years.

            Try a dose of realistic optimism. We’ve gathered the tools and readied the blueprints. The foundation is almost finished. Motivation to complete the job is growing.

            We’ve got the car rolling downhill. Now we need to jump in and pop the clutch….

          • The same is true for baseload power, but the definition of “high-penetration” is different. The capacity factor is a decent indication of what would be “high-penetration”. So nuclear will destroy its average spot price/market value at 90% penetration about as much as solar will destroy its average spot price/market value at 10-20% penetration (depending on solar CF at your location).

            Just an imperfect analogy: You can obviously have higher total revenue as a producer of roses/tomatoes/fish or other perishables if you can produce evenly all-year-round than if you can only produce a few months a year.

          • Excuse me. Nuclear, coal and NG start destroying their price once they exceed daily/annual minimum demand.

            Do you need that explained?

          • Sure, and that happens at much, much lower penetration for solar and wind than for nuclear. Simply because solar and wind is more concentrated in time.

          • Good, you figured it out.

            Now, consider this fact. It’s cheaper to curtail a less expensive generator than a more expensive generator.

            And don’t go “all solar” or “all wind” on us. That’s not a renewable grid. That’s a red herring often used by nuclear advocates. (I’m not sure there are any coal advocates left outside of Kochberg.)

          • Nooooo. Please let that canard die. If capacity factor were equal to integration, Denmark could not have achieved 39.1% integration last year.

            Solar and wind will exceed that limit because they will not be the only sources on the grid. And high solar and wind integration areas will ship their power to low solar and wind integration areas, over a thousand miles away.

            Good example. Midwest to East Coast. Another in Wyoming. There are plans now for a wind farm in Wyoming with the best onshore wind in the US to ship its output to LA. There is no doubt that Wyoming could and even the upper mountain west could power itself completely if wind were built in areas like that.


            Heck, Pacific Northwest and Canada already ship their power far away because they have plenty. Thats how it works.

            And as the NREL Futures Study points out, its not whether we reach high renewable penetration in every location that counts. Its the overall average over a wide area. Thats easier to see when you see that Pacific Northwest will be above average because of hydro and wind and already exports power. Some other areas can be below average and still meet an overall goal.

          • Oh boy, you really just discredited yourself, berra. You imagine that we aren’t going to go 100% renewables when it’s *already happening* and conservative financiers like Deutsche Bank are saying to expect it… but you act as if there’s no human overpopulation problem, when every single ecologist in the world will tell you that there is? (There’s also a known solution for the overpopulation problem, basically amounting to “give women birth control and enough education and economic power to use it”. But believing that there isn’t a problem is ridiculous.)

          • You’re not integrating or addressing much of what I’m saying.

            1. We can disagree about over-population. It’s really off topic here.

            2. We’ll use less NG than we do now if we use it as a filler for a grid with high levels of Wind and Solar PV. You don’t think there’s cheap storage. I do. We disagree on that one. I can see why you think we can’t have a high penetration level of RE. I simply disagree. Very low-cost storage is here now. I’ve provided a few examples. There are a lot more. You’ve provided …doubt. Not very useful.

            3. I am clearly addressing what we WILL do. Apparently you were so full of your own opinion that you failed to pick up on that. We disagree on storage, so we disagree on what the economics are for penetration levels of RE. Again, I think high levels of RE penetration are unavoidable …because of their superior economics, especially going forward. To be very, very clear: that means I think we WILL achieve high levels of RE penetration.

            4. “With all due respect,” (which usually really means none, because you’re talking down your nose) they’re sold out for over a year already and their Powerwall isn’t even on the shelf yet. Again, you seem to be missing what I wrote about other competitors. Do try and keep up.

            5. “Btw, I’m not even sure solar PV life-cycle CO2-emissions are low enough to be sustainable.”
            Yeh, well it is. Figure it out and quit being a Doubting Thomas about every little thing the rest of us are trying to do improve the world. I hope my life is more about finding and working toward solutions, instead of sitting around whining about how unfair life is.

            You’re not a realist. You’re a cup half full kinda guy.

          • You miss the most important impact of the PowerWall, the PowerPack, which sold in much higher amounts to the utilities, at 610 million dollars worth.


            Utilities realized that at $250/kwhr, the PowerPack will replace gas peakers. Thats huge.

            In residential, Tesla battery is not just for wealthy enthusiasts. Where power prices are high, it makes sense, like in Hawaii or Australia. There are even circumstances in the US where it makes sense.

            The value of years of electricity is high. The issue is amortizing it with a loan. Third party solar providers have figured this out. They will do this for storage, too.

            It become how much you pay for utilities, vs how much for solar/storage/energy management.

            An article came out with the same idea that solar/storage was only for rich hobbyists. It retreated rather rapidly when many responded with facts.

            He still grumbled, but had to admit it worked in Hawaii, at least.


          • (Hawaii = US ;o)

            Have you seen the math for how much gas peaker use could be offset with PowerPacks?

            I assume the PP works to offset short bursts of NG turbine run, but at what point might it become cheaper to fire up CCNG? Might it be close to the 10-15 minutes when the secondary generation portion of CCNG kicks in?

            Or am I looking at it wrong?

          • Yes, you got that. Hawaii is US. 🙂 You think?

            Brattle Group has an entire working paper on that subject. It referred to ERCOT. EPRI did a study, too. For grid services and stability, that value could be higher than $350/kwhr. And Brattle’s calculations are for that specific market.



            Don’t know exactly where the breakpoint is that CCNG is better, but Its more like base load than peaker, so I don’t think it ever really does what peakers and batteries do. Even coal can follow load, its just slower.

            Gas turbines are not just used to follow fast ramps, they are used sort of as the reserves that are thrown in to add anything over base load, because they can vary. Theoretically, you can use anything you would like to follow variable load that way, even coal.

            But in that case, CCNG would not necessarily favored economically on the merit order. Its midway between gas peaker and thermal power plant in speed, fuel efficiency, and first cost. Its first cost is higher, but fuel cost lower. Thats not really ideal for a peaker. For a peaker you don’t care so much about fuel cost, because you seldom use it.

            Lets put it this way. CCNG is so high efficiency, and the first cost is higher, so you want it on all the time, not running for short duration only.

            As far as what the utility cost numbers are for storage..

            These numbers are known by the ISOs and utilities in each location. Judging from the response to PowerPack, the ERCOT numbers are representative over a wide area.

            Your assumption is about right. Peak generation is rather short. Usually only a few hours. Its also fast ramping. Much more peaker capacity is used for stability than batteries. Consider that for +/-50% variation, 1 1MW battery is equivalent to about a 4MW peaker. The battery can easily go +/- 50%, but the peaker has to stay on all the time, and probably goes from 40% to 80% and 20% capacity to get a +/-50% variation.

            Batteries are actually much faster, too, in milliseconds response.

            Gas Turbine Peaker – Think of this like a jet engine, because it is. A jet can turn on the power fast.

            CCNG – combined cycle natural gas, is a different animal than natural gas peakers. Natural gas peakers are all about speed of response and ramping. They are less efficient, but fast.

            CCNG employs a second heat cycle to improve efficiency. The thermal mass and secondary circuit make it a bit slower than a peaker, because a typical CCNG is a gas turbine coupled to a steam turbine. Steam turbines take time to heat up water, which has a high thermal mass. Think how long a boiler takes to start.

            The boiler steam based power plants like coal, oil, and nuclear are all slower because of thermal mass of water forces a long time to reach operating temperature and steam pressure.


          • How do you use solar PV 24/7? You don’t. You use wind. And hydro, and geothermal. And load management. And on.

            And if there is a a large solar capacity in one area, it can exceed 30% integration in that area easily, because its output can be shipped a thousand miles to a different load center.

            Thats old hat with the Pacific Intertie. They ship 3GW from the Pacific Northwest Bonneville Power dams to LA.

            If there were solar in Oregon, you could ship it that far, no problem.

            We don’t need as much electricity at night. Solar provides it during the day when we need it.

            This is a remedial discussion that needs to be kicked upstairs a little.

            You seem to be puzzled at how it all can be done. You probably won’t find out to your satisfaction by doing it this way on a blog forum. You are tickling at the edges of it. You have to read the papers that show how its analyzed and done. Its too complicated to do closed form calculations like capacity factor. There are too many factors to see the big picture.

            Researchers run a huge number of simulations using existing multi year annual hourly demand databases with a computer program to check load matching.

            Then they also run a program to look for grid limitations. They mix in analysis for grid expansion and other things.

            They do this in the same way they would predict business as usual for conventional power planning, but they include multi year annual hourly wind and solar data, also.

            And so much more. And there have been decades of papers on all the sub issues. All to determine how to do this.

            Its a subject that is far beyond a blog discussion.

            You will have to delve into enough to be satisfied you have answers.

            NREL is a place to start. The paper is referenced in the article. There are four volumes with hundreds of pages for each volume. But don’t get put off by that. You can get a better picture quickly from the figures and pictures. The article helps.


            I am satisfied that 80% renewable by 2050 is a conservative secure technological estimate. But you must satisfy yourself.

          • Good point. I see one coming. Given Denmark’s wind integration is 39% it is equal to its offshore capacity factor. With onshore combined it must already be a lower CF than its integration. Might be fun to list all the countries that break that canard.

            All it really takes is transmission lines for integration to exceed capacity factor. I can see that happening in Scotland, too.

          • Spain and Germany ‘stalled’ for political reasons (because the utilities pressured the politicians to change the policies) and not because the grid had trouble with renewables.
            Since inverters in Europe reduce power output at a certain voltage or frequency and the big inverters can be controlled by the grid-operator anyway, they couldn’t trouble the grid even if they wanted to.

          • So you’re saying that the energieewende is wildly popular and the people of Germany is gladly sinking hundreds of billion euro into the project, but when utilities say “stop”, the politicians just stop? For no other reasons than keeping utilities happy?

          • I wondered how “wildly popular” so I googled –

            “Renewable energies are popular in Germany. According to a representative poll carried out in September 2014 by TNS Emnid, 92 percent of all respondents attributed high or very high importance to expanding the renewable energies sector.

            Safeguarding the future of coming generations ist one of the most important reasons for the German energy transition, according to that poll. Climate protection also numbered among the most important advantages of renewables, mentioned in the survey. ”


            Only 7% said “Less important” or “Not important”.

            Wildly seem to apply….

          • The current administration in Germany changed the policy to essentially get the installation of PV from 7 GW down to 1 GW even though the feed-in tariffs for PV have reached such low levels that they have no noticeable effect on electricity costs.

            By the way, the total of the feed in tariffs for the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in the UK alone amount to $183 billion (at 90% capacity factor and 2% inflation and assuming 0% inflation until it actually goes online) and that’s only 3.2 GW of capacity.
            On the other hand, the renewable energies in Germany already provided 34% of the electricity needs in Germany:

          • It’s interesting. End of 2014, Germany had 38236 MW solar and had grown by 1899 MW during the year. In 2015, Germany forced a single nuclear reactor into early retirement, which took out the equivalent of 11000 MW of solar power. At the current rate, it will take 6 years of German solar installations to compensate for that reactor. Unfortunately, it also plans to close the remaining 8 nuclear reactors.

            But Germany’s inconsequential solar growth is still much, much better than other, sunnier, solar leaders. Italy had 18450 MW and installed 385 MW, which is 2% growth. Greece had 2602 MW and installed 17 MW, which is 0.6%. Spain had 4787 MW and had grown by 25 MW, which is 0.5% growth.

            One could almost get the impression that these countries find more than 5-9% solar penetration increasingly impractical. One could almost get the impression that solar PV is nowhere near grid parity, even.

          • “One could almost get the impression that solar PV is nowhere near grid parity”

            If one did then they would have created a myth between their ears.

            You continue to try to create a myth of ‘solar stall out’ while ignoring the economic cratering which as occurred in much of Europe.

            Attribution error….

          • The financial crisis started middle of 2007. Since then, these countries have built almost all its solar and stopped building solar, all during times of economic hardships.

          • The World Financial Crisis of 2008 did not kick into gear until late 2008.

            In 2008 Spain completed 2.6 GW of solar which brought their total to 3.5 GW.

            And, remember, that projects that were financed and under construction prior to the crash were likely completed after the crash. There will be some overlap.

            By the end of 2012 Spain had total of 4.5 GW so they added only 22% of their solar after the economic crisis took effect.

            Please show your data sources for other countries. Where does one find the data for “Since then, these countries have built almost all its solar and stopped building solar, all during times of economic hardships”?

          • OK, here’s Portugal, Greece and Italy.

            Portugal hasn’t installed enough solar to move the bubble. Italy peaked in 2011, then fell. Greece had a couple of good years before their current crisis kicked in.

          • I didn’t talk about Portugal. Exactly, italy has gone up and down during the crisis years. Greece as well, it was in crisis all along.

          • “There’s no grid that’s close to doing that and those that have been going rapidly to 20% wind have since stalled there (Spain, Portugal, Ireland…).”

            Picked it up from there. This thread is just too damned long.

          • Closing coal and nuclear will raise the wholesale price a little and help spurn new developments. Maybe even new PuHS. A lot of projects have been suspended because existing storage is still not economical.
            There will be a higher growth rate.
            Also the north south transmission will ease things.
            Closure of the Bavarian nuclear plants will allow Verbund to sell more hydro and maybe the underutilized PuHS plants of the alps will get some use again.

          • You do realize that Greece is a complete financial catastrophe and nobody’s been financing anything there since the end of 2008?

            As for Spain, the government is actively, openly, and extremely hostile to solar power — Google “tax on the sun”.

            It looks like Italy had a rush of “accelerated deployment” in 2011. I’m guessing there was some sort of tax credit which expired at the end of that year… someone should look it up.

          • If countries like Spain introduce hefty taxes solar and other administrative hurdles or even penalties, then grid parity is irrelevant.

          • In Spain, very definitely, solar & wind are WILDLY popular, but when utilities say “stop”, Rajoy does what they tell him and starts to “tax the sun”. Rajoy is a tool.

          • You miss the point, the utilities are not earning the hundreds of billions, others are. Therefore, no real contradiction.

          • Spain stalled for *aggressively* political reasons, with the government actively attempting to fine people millions of euros if they went off-grid, and charging obscene penalties for having on-grid solar panels. (Due to massive backlash, this was never implemented, but the fear of attempted implementation killed deployments.)

    • Most analysts still predict wind to retain a healthy lead over solar in absolute terms. The main problem is that wind, like hydro, is a mature technology. Solar on the other hand has only just reached a price point where it is competitive with alternatives, so it’s still in its exciting infancy.

      Once solar becomes as mature as wind, news sites and think tanks will move on to the next shiny new thing.

      • “wind, like hydro, is a mature technology”
        I don’t agree. Turbine designs are still improving significantly. Solar PV is just improving more rapidly.

    • Solar PV advantages:

      1. It can be installed at the point-of-use, at the end-of-grid on homes and businesses. There is a very significant cost advantage when are competing with end-of-grid prices, instead of source-of-grid prices. You’re not paying for build, maintenance, and profit of grid operation.

      2. Solar PV Panels are produced as commodity products from factories. You get the Ford model T effect. All other sources of power require the construction of large plants. (Wind is actually kind of in between. Production in plants and assembly on site …and it’s now the cheapest source of new power on the grid.)

      3. There is always some solar available every day. In a some areas there is good solar resource available every day. The most your going to need is a backup generator to carry you through week or two of cloudy weather. This is true in Hawaii, Australia, and Chile where end-of-grid electricity is high cost, so going off-grid starts to make more $ and sense.

      4. Solar PV is still dropping in cost significantly.

      5. If you have your own power, on site, then you have some protection from grid power failures that occur because of storms, failure of large central thermal plants, and failures in major power interconnect lines.

      6. Protection from terrorist grid disruption.

      7. Protection from exploitive practices of unfairly run (or just poorly run) monopoly utilities.

      8. Oh yeh …way less CO2 output so we don’t cook ourselves …although wind is great for that too …yes, and that expensive glow-in-the-dark source of power too.

  • Please edit a bit Eric. This broken line stuff is very hard to read.

    Utility scale solar is already under $2/watt and commercial solar (large building roofs) is right at $2/watt in the US. Residential solar is already under $2/watt in parts of the world such as Australia. German’s average price, which is heavily influenced by residential, was 1.24 euros/watt at the end of 2014. ($1.37/watt)

    Solar is only one part of the solution, obviously, but it’s becoming a very affordable part of the solution.

    When people talk about the cost of moving to renewable energy they typically leave out some factors which greatly lower the actual cost.

    First, there are the avoidance of external costs of burning fossil fuels. The world could be spending a trillion dollars a year in health and environmental damages due to fossil fuel pollution. That doesn’t count climate change costs.

    Second, coal plants and cars wear out and have to be replaced. Rather than spending the replacement money on more coal plants and gasmobiles we can instead spend that money on renewables and EVs. That portion of the cost of moving to renewables is baked in and not part of the “cost of moving to renewables”.

    • Yes Bob thank you! With all of the editing that I did before posting the sentence structure went crazy! sorry! Yes my pricing is a bit conservative, However the true cost of burning FF is addressed with the 44 trillion by 2040 re the CITI analysis. Once again very conservative! Haray for EV’s 80% efficient opposed to 20% for internal combustion!

      • Looks like I guessed low on the external cost of burning fossil fuels. Citi is saying it’s about $1.8 trillion per year.

        We need to get more people to understand the external costs of fossil fuels.

        And we need to get them to understand that as soon as we invest enough into renewable energy to push aside fossil fuels we then save that $1.8 trillion per year into perpetuity. That unnecessary cost is lifted off the world’s economies.

        • Been saying that for years! 1.8 tr isn’t even counting the incredible cost of securing oils safe delivery home! and that is just the cost to the U.S., never mind the rest of the world.

    • I did some calculations for PV CF. In Taos, New Mexico a dual axis tracker would get a yearly CF of 33%! That is as high as it gets virtually anywhere in the world. However seasonally the CF can get much high. In summer here at latitude 51 I can get a CF of 41.5% from my panels, that is, ten times the nameplate rating per day, or 10 hours out of 24.

      • It’s unfortunate that nobody has brought down the costs of dual-axis trackers… or created a cheap passive mirror-based concentrating cover for panels.

  • Your source – only made it to page 2.

    2001 – population 6.1B – 13.5 TW
    2050 – population 9.4B – 27.6 TW

    Population increases 54%.
    Energy use increases 104%

    Now, maybe. Perhaps lifestyle improvements will drive per capita use higher.

    But what I wonder is whether this 2001 report adjusted for the inefficiency of thermal plant electricity and inefficiency of internal combustion engines?

    A huge, really huge, portion of the (primary) energy we use is simply wasted due to current technology inefficiency (below). ICEVs, for example, waste about 80% of the input energy while EVs waste about 20%.

    Have you read enough in detail to see if they adjusted for that or do I have to spend time wading through all their numbers? ;o)

    • Good point. They use GDP/capita of 1.4% and energy/GDP of -0.8%, which is its long-run average. On p3 they say “if energy intensity were to decrease at 2.3%/yr…the world energy consumption rate would remain at 13.5 TW”. I think it is likely to fall somewhat between the two, Europe has managed -1.8%/yr since 1990 (GDP +46%, energy use constant) but will return to its long-run average once the most wasteful users are gone.

      On page 6, they write: “To be cost-competitive with low-grade non-electrical energy, it must be, in current prices, roughly $0.02/kWh; to be cost-competitive with high-grade electrical energy, it need only be, in current prices, roughly $0.06/kWh.” That seems quite sound to me, and the US is already getting close to $0.06. EC has an advantage over ICE because the latter is so inefficient, but not all FF users are that inefficient.

      • First, I’m glad you’re doing the digging. I’m kind of worn out at the moment. (Suffering from days of forest fire smoke.)

        Now, lets take a look at where the world gets its electricity. The graph below isn’t very current but was the most recent I could find that broke apart coal and natural gas.

        40% from coal. 20% from natural gas.

        “Typical thermal efficiency for utility-scale electrical generators is around 33% for coal and oil-fired plants, and 56 – 60% (LHV) for combined-cycle gas-fired plants.” Wiki

        40% at 33% eff, 20% at 50% eff (peakers are less efficient than CCNG plants). That’s a rough guesstimation.

        We save 67% of 40% and 50% of 20%. That’s about 40% (37%) of our total primary energy used for electricity that does not need to be replaced.

        Cars move from 20% efficient to 80% efficient, a bunch of savings there.

        Add in the efficiencies we are creating with better thermal properties for buildings, more efficient appliances and electronics.

        I’m thinking that primary energy use will take a big hit. 50% less? That would be 2% a year. I’ve given some very crude numbers but I’m seeing the potential for primary energy use to remain somewhat flat, 2001 to 2050. Feel free to cook up some better numbers if you’ve got the energy. I’m not calling mine anything more than rough estimates.

        Now –

        “To be cost-competitive with low-grade non-electrical energy, it must be, in current prices, roughly $0.02/kWh; to be cost-competitive with high-grade electrical energy, it need only be, in current prices, roughly $0.06/kWh.”

        Six cents for wholesale electricity is looking very doable. US onshore wind is already down to 4c/kWh without subsidies. Solar in sunny areas should be there and lower soon. Add in all the storage,etc. stuff and hitting 6c seems likely.

        (BTW, do they add the external costs of fossil fuels?)

        2c/kWh for non-electrical energy. I’m not sure how to handle that.

        Transportation is easy. The cost of moving a vehicle with renewable energy is a small fraction of the cost of using petroleum. Even ignoring external costs.

        Heating? I don’t know. Better buildings and very efficient heat pumps may be the answer here.

        Process heat for industry. No clue. About 20% of US primary energy goes to industrial use.

        Sorry if that’s a bit wandering….

  • >>>>>>>”On page 6, they write: “To be cost-competitive with low-grade non-electrical energy, it must be, in current prices, roughly $0.02/kWh; to be cost-competitive with high-grade electrical energy, it need only be, in current prices, roughly $0.06/kWh.”

    This is very true. Unfortunately, the uncontrollability of solar and wind energy makes solar and wind less desirable than NG power plant at the same cost per kWh, hence reflecting the faltering growth of RE for the grid.

    Fortunately, the cost of transportation fuel made from solar and wind energy is already competitive with petroleum.

    For example, gasoline at $3.00 per gallon is costing 9 cents per kWh thermal LHV. In gasoline car at 20% efficiency at the engine shaft would bring this cost to 45 cents per kWh at the engine shaft, 9 cent divided by 0.20 = 45 cents per kWh at the engine for gasoline car using gasoline.

    For Hydrogen costing $6.60 at the pump is costing 20 cents per kWh thermal LHV. However, because a fuel cell car is typically 2.5 x more efficient than a gasoline non-hybrid car, around 50% efficiency at the motor shaft, the cost per kWh at the motor shaft would be around 20 c divided by 0.5 = 40 cents per kWh at the motor shaft for fuel cell car using H2.

    According to NREL’s Oct 2014 latest-revised analyses of
    many wind power sites in the USA, the total costs of production of H2
    range from $3 to $4 USD. Adding profit and distribution cost, this
    100%-RE H2 can be sold at $5-$6 USD.
    See: nrel(dot)gov/hydrogen/production_cost_analysis.html
    Considering that FCEV (fuel cell car) has 2.5 x the efficiency of comparable ICEV (gasoline car), this represents competitive cost per mile in comparison to an ICEV .

    In another way of looking at it, wind or solar at 6 cents per kWh will result in energy cost of Hydrogen of $3.30 when it takes 55 kWh of electricity to make 1 kg of H2 compressed to 10,000 psi at the pump. (6c x 55 = 330c) Adding another $3.30 for electrolyzer cost, distribution, profit, and tax, and $6.60 per kg retail price at the pump is reasonable with reasonable volume in the near future.

    So, in addition to building out solar and wind for the power grid, the use of solar and wind for making transportation-grade Hydrogen will allow for growth of solar and wind power many folds faster than is possible at the present, and is already cost-competitive with petroleum today.

    • Nobody cares at the shaft price.
      If gas at $3.00 per gallon in a 30 mpg car will cost you $0.10, while a kg costing $7.99 cost you $0.12 per mile, and that is cheap h2.
      The cost per shaft means nothing because it is the price per mile.

  • Lets not get caught in linear math. Installations will not be the same every year.
    If anything, as solar reaches grid parity in more countries, expect it to grow even faster.

    The CIti metric of average yearly installations 2013 to 2020 is an odd one.

    What we are measuring is the rate of growth of factory production and/or demand. This is not cumulative. Those numbers translate to a cumulative that is pretty large by 2050. Here is a list of cumulative estimates from a wide range of groups. Some have already underestimated 2015 numbers.
    See the table, “Summary of Forecasts”.

    Squinting my eyes on our article graph above, I see 55GW 2015, 73GW 2020. So thats

    73/55 = 1.33 over 5 years. What annual production growth rate is that? About 5.5% annual.
    What has the growth rate been?

    Well lets consider this. 5% of the roughly 50GW this year = 2.5GW would meet our estimated target this year.

    What have manufacturers planned for manufacturing expansion? 12GW.
    Way above target.

    Now thats manufacturing capacity, not production or demand. So it looks like if there is any halt to the march upwards, its not coming from manufacturing. Clearly, manufacturing can expand rapidly.

    It really comes down to demand. The CIti estimates are including an expected drop off in demand post 2016.

  • Let’s go at this from another angle. Let’s use the US as a standin for world energy use.

    In 2014 the US consumed 98.3 quads of primary energy.

    Out of that 25.8 quads or 26.2% was heat loss during electricity generation.

    21.4 quads or 21.8% of our primary energy use was transportation waste heat.

    58% of our primary energy use was thrown away at power plants and under hoods.

    Moving from coal/NG to renewables will eliminate most of the electricity waste heat. (A bit will still be lost via warm transmission cable type stuff.)

    Moving to EVs will result in another hunk of primary energy we won’t have to replace. 70% of our oil use goes to cars and light trucks. We lose a net 60% of that to waste heat compared to EV use. That’s another 10% of primary energy we won’t have to replace.

    That’s a net reduction of about 35% in the amount of energy we will need to replace. The actual amount is likely somewhere between 35% and 50% as we bring additional efficiencies on line.

    That covers all US energy use. Electricity, heat, transportation and industrial processing.

    I’d suggest being careful with the Sandia report. It’s old. 2006 publication means that they were talking about the world a decade ago. That was well before we saw the emergence of the EV, the LED, and many other efficient technologies. Back in 2005 a lot of people were still using CRT monitors and TVs.

    “(P)roduction of CRTs was not surpassed by LCDs until the fourth quarter of 2007.”

    • It’s worth noting the effect of LEDs on lighting loads too. I think lighting was estimated to be a large percentage of electrical usage before, but with LEDs it becomes negligible. I haven’t redone the numbers lately, but last I checked it was going to knock off about 20% of electricity usage overall. That’ll be replaced with stuff like EVs, but it has a major effect on overall energy usage.

      • Here’s how it’s feeling to me.

        Some years back all the smart folks became worried about climate change.

        So many of them decided they would look for ways to cut our carbon output.

        Some worked on better solar panels, some on batteries, some on more efficient refrigerators, some on lighting, etc.

        Now that work and dedication is paying off.

  • China first quarter of 2015 was 5.04GW so year could be 20GW.

    50GW a year for world doesn’t sound too hard.


    The National Energy Board said 5.04 GW was installed in the first quarter of 2015. To put that in perspective,China’s three-month total was just a gigawatt shy of what the U.S. installed in all of 2014 – and it was a good year for the Americans, their best ever. And as an Australia-based renewable energy website noted, 5.04 GW is “an amount the Australian government has said would be impossible to install within five years.”

  • The solar deployment curve is exponential, so an “average” over five years really isn’t helpful for telling us what we need to do.

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