“Noncompetitive” BigWind can mock the taxpayer, again

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The US taxpayer has given the BigWindustry an amazing Christmas bonus now for almost 40 years. Congress is filled with wimps and liars. The President, although he has many accomplishments, should be ashamed that this deal was allowed to continue. The renewable industry mocks us, laughs at us, attacks us, and then we give them BILLIONS in SUBSIDIES.  What kind of recourse is there-or will there every be- for the taxpayer who knows the truth? …

I was told, repeatedly, that the wind subsidies would be allowed to expire. That the industry was ready to stand on its own feet. That there was no appetite to renew the production tax credit. I told them I would believe it when I see it. This is the part where I say “I told you so,” because guess what was tucked into the $1.37 trillion, end-of-the-year spending deal Congress passed before the holidays?

“Please don’t use those tired old arguments about how renewable energy can’t stand on its own without subsidies.”

 

That quote is from a recent letter to the editor written by former state lawmaker Ed Gruchalla, a Democrat who represented the Fargo-area’s District 45 in the North Dakota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013…

“All the project lacks is someone to step up and buy the power. What business or government entity wouldn’t want to include, clean, non-polluting energy use as part of their portfolio?”

I’d point out that utility companies have a duty to satisfy the real-world energy demands of our region, not the political whims of ideologues. Given that our regional energy grids are already chock full of intermittent power from wind farms, the demand for intermittent solar power is probably limited.

Speaking of wind power, and getting back to that quote, weren’t wind subsidies supposed to have expired by now?

That’s what I was told…

The wind energy companies argue that the construction is being driven by the markets and demand. A more likely explanation is that there was a rush to build these projects in order to capitalize on a subsidy which was set to expire last year. Wind companies had to break ground on their projects before the end of the year to get in on it…

In response to my writing, I got invited to a couple of sit-downs. One was with a couple of North Dakota lobbyists for the wind industry. The other was with the head of government affairs for one of the largest utilities in our region.

During both of these meetings, I was told, repeatedly, that the wind subsidies would be allowed to expire. That the industry was ready to stand on its own feet. That there was no appetite to renew the production tax credit.

I told them I would believe it when I see it.

This is the part where I say “I told you so,” because guess what was tucked into the $1.37 trillion, end-of-the-year spending deal Congress passed before the holidays?

A renewal of the production tax credit…

Still, if the wind industry really is ready to stand on its own feet, if Mr. Gruchalla is right and the subsidies argument about renewables is “tired” and “old” why was the PTC renewed at all?

At some point the PTC will need to end. When it does, I think we’re going to find out we built far more wind energy capacity than we really needed.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

 

Original INFORUM article

Hooray! Seneca county rescinds AEZ and HB6 passes

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A big hooray for Sandusky County where the County Commissioners have rescinded their designation as an Alternative Energy Zone (AEZ).  The vote cancelled the action taken 7 years ago.  Readers will recall that the Seneca County Commissioners rescinded their AEZ earlier this summer and it took effect June 30th.

 

The OPSB Public Hearing for Seneca Wind, a project of  sPower, was held on Tuesday in Tiffin.  It was refreshing to hear that both PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo and Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Nino Vitale, attended in person.  That is a first as far as we know.   They were treated to many thoughtful arguments and concerns expressed by local citizens.  We have attached the testimony of Walt Poffenbaugh (last link) who spoke to the issue of cumulative impacts of projects planned for the area.  Walt demonstrated that the combined projects proposed for the area cover a territory nearly as large as metropolitan Columbus.   We encourage all to read Walt’s substantive remarks.  Given that the OPSB does not have rules that address cumulative impact, it will be interesting to see how this concern is dealt with in subsequent proposals.

 

Moments after the bill was passed, Gov. DeWine signed it into law and took off for the Ohio State Fair where he told reporters,  “I think it accomplishes what we wanted to accomplish,” Gov. DeWine said. “It saves the jobs of the folks who devoted – many of them – many, many years to providing power for us.”  “No. 2, it should bring about a small reduction in the cost to residential consumers as well as to commercial consumers,” he added.  Gov. DeWine said he also was “happy to sign” the measure because he believes it will lead to long-term environmental benefits. He put his pen to the measure less than three hours after legislative leaders sent him the bill. “If we had lost our two nuclear plants, we would have lost 90% of our carbon-free production in the state of Ohio,” he said. “It just makes sense from a public policy point of view. It makes sense from a jobs point of view. It makes sense from the environment point of view.”  “We would anticipate that our solar as well as our wind (industries) will continue to increase in the state of Ohio,” he said. “We have to recognize it is not the most optimal state for wind nor solar, but there is an industry in the state, and we want to encourage that to grow.”

Still reeling from the passage of HB 6, pro-wind and gas folks were quick to react to the new state of affairs.  Statehouse news reports included:

 

Andrew Gohn, American Wind Energy Association

“Ohio consumers and manufacturers want greater commitment to renewable energy, not less. Yet, while many states are expanding access to cleaner sources of energy, Ohio’s legislature has chosen to take a costly step backward by weakening the state’s renewable portfolio standard,” said Andrew Gohn, Director, Eastern State Policy, AWEA. “House Bill 6 won’t make Ohio’s air cleaner, but it will hike consumer electric bills and send both jobs and clean energy investment to Ohio’s neighbors.”

 

Marnie Urso, Audubon Great Lakes    (AUDUBON?  REALLY?)

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy are vital components in protecting Ohio’s birds and wildlife from the threat of climate change and ensuring all Ohioans have access to safe and affordable energy. HB6 is a missed opportunity to enact comprehensive energy policy that would keep pace with the rest of the region and country which is embracing the future of abundant, affordable, renewable energy. This clean energy killing policy is not the investment in healthy air and economic growth that our state deserves.”

 

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)

“This was not an easy vote for some of our Democratic members, including myself. Democrats will always stand with hard-working Ohioans over corporations. HB6 was never a Democratic bill; it was never even a bipartisan, compromise bill. It was yet another example of the Majority Party playing games, forcing impossible choices between protecting the environment and keeping food on the table for 1,400 workers and their families. I hope that the companies who receive the taxpayer dollars from HB6 will honor their promise to protect the jobs at both nuclear plants and support these workers’ continued employment.”

 

Daniel Sawmiller, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

“While the rest of the nation is adding jobs left and right from one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, Ohio is sending a clear signal to the clean energy sector that they are not welcome in the state. HB6 is irresponsible economic policy. And if this mess of a bill passes, the rest of the nation will be looking closely at Ohio’s statehouse trying to understand the motivations for a bill that is so far out of line with what is happening everywhere else.”

 

Neil Waggoner, Sierra Club

“HB6 is bad government and politics in its most pure form. When the process starts with legislators’ demeaning low-income Ohioans and apologizing to utility lobbyists it’s no surprise the final legislative product increases customer bills every month for years to come.  “With HB6, Ohioans get dirtier air, higher electric bills, and the understanding that the majority of their elected officials at the Statehouse are more concerned with making a bankrupt company happy, and helping out other utility companies for their foolish investments in failing coal plants, than taking care of their own constituents.  “FirstEnergy and Ohio’s other electric utilities must be very satisfied with the legislators they financed today. Can those legislators’ constituents say the same?”

 

Ohio Conservative Energy Forum

“The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum (OHCEF) remains opposed to the passage of HB6. The bill takes our state backward and threatens tens of thousands of jobs throughout Ohio in the growing clean energy industry. “As supporters of an all-of-the-above energy policy, the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has never been averse to nuclear energy, but we remain profoundly disappointed that the General Assembly did not use the opportunity presented in HB6 to further grow Ohio’s emerging clean energy economy. As OHCEF has maintained throughout the legislative process, the State of Ohio cannot afford to be left behind as a growing number of conservative states embrace renewable energy.  “OHCEF will continue to support a free-market approach to a diversified energy portfolio that embraces all forms of energy generation – including nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable energy. OHCEF will fight to reduce government regulation by fixing the current wind setback mandate and will seek distributed generation reforms that will give Ohioans the freedom to produce their own energy.”

 

Not to be outdone, the opponents of HB 6, fueled by natural gas hedge funds, filed a petition with the Ohio Secretary of State to overturn the law through a public referendum.   (Guess somebody is going to get a referendum – what irony!)   Calling themselves “Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts” the group is headed up by a veteran campaign strategist whose claim to fame was the 2009 casino gambling law.  They will hit the streets soon to gather about a quarter of a million signatures to put the issue on the ballot.  We hope Ohioans won’t vote “YES” to increase their electric bills!

Our friend and Time Magazine’s Hero of the Environment, Michael Shellenberger lauded the passage of HB 6 in a Forbes article.  “Ohio nuclear plants provide eight times more electricity than all of the state’s solar and wind combined.  Lawmakers around the world are increasingly taking note of the severe impact that industrial wind turbines have on wildlife. Industrial wind turbines today threaten several bird and bat species with extinction.

Conservationists and birders in Ohio have hotly opposed a proposal to build dozens of turbines on Lake Erie, which is home to dozens of threatened, endangered, and high-conservation value bird species

Then there is the economics. It would have cost $25 billion to replace Ohio’s nuclear plants with solar and $22 to replace them with wind — and taken 300 to 2,600 times more land.”   With your continued support, we can make Ohio a leader in clean energy through support of nuclear while safeguarding wildlife and being efficient in our land use practices!

 

On the flip side, so-called environmentalist like Sierra and the renewable lobby, are having fits saying  “the biggest effect of H.B. 6 may be the muting of Ohio’s renewable and efficiency standards. By weakening Ohio’s 12.5% renewable energy standard to 8.5% and further shrinking the standard by subtracting green energy purchases by large energy users, the bill blocks wind and solar development in a state that’s already a clean energy laggard, said Leah Stokes, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who’s writing a book on state renewable standards.  Some of the nation’s largest wind energy developers have said Ohio’s existing restrictions on turbine placement, enacted in 2014 when the Legislature temporarily froze the renewable standards, have already steered investments to neighboring states. H.B. 6, they warned, would only continue to lessen their interest in the Buckeye State.” 

 

In other news:

 

An assortment of articles reacting to the passage of HB 6 are included.  In one, US Rep. Marcy Kaptur says “Ohio is now saddled with an energy policy that amounts to a “death wish” for growth. “The problem is that as you look at a region to invest in, we look less innovative. We look less inclusive. We look less creative,” Kaptur said. “And companies are looking to invest in places that have their act together and are looking at energy and the full portfolio of choices therein as we build a new energy future for our country.”  We continue to point out that these so-called green companies like Amazon and Google are choosing to locate in metropolitan Columbus not Tiffin or Van Wert.

Republicans at the national level are addressing how to deal with emissions reduction by promoting greater investment in technology whether it be carbon capture or advanced nuclear energy.   “Climate change is real, and we need to address it. The question is, how do we do that?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said. “I think we should support all ways of decreasing emissions, from traditional renewables to cleaned-up fossil fuels to nuclear to innovative new tech like carbon capture. The other side often would make us think that there’s only one way to address it — solar, wind, the Green New Deal.”

In New York, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved two motions unanimously that go against policies being passed by state officials. “On Wednesday, one of the motions was in opposition to construct wind turbine farms on Lake Erie. During last month’s legislature meeting, Robert Bankoski, D-Dunkirk, and Kevin Muldowney, R-Dunkirk, spoke about their opposition to the possibility of wind turbine farms on Lake Erie. Following the meeting, Bankoski said several other legislators who represent communities along Lake Erie followed up their comments by creating a motion to oppose wind turbines on Lake Erie.”    We wish Ohio Counties would do the same and pass Resolutions in opposition to turbines in Lake Erie.

  

A group of U.S. wind tower manufacturers are pushing for tariffs on imported wind components, a move that some researchers say could raise costs for new projects by as much as 10% at a time the industry is already under pressure.  The Wind Tower Trade Coalition asked the Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission to impose tariffs against wind tower imports from Canada, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam in a petition this month. The manufacturers argued that components from the four countries are sold below the prices set in the 1930 Tariff Act.

 

Even though HB 6 will reduce electricity bills in the short term, there are continuing pressures on costs.  The transition to a 100% renewable US power grid will need investment of up to US$4.5 trillion over the next 10 to 20 years, new analysis from Wood Mackenzie found.  Wood Mackenzie estimates that about 1,600 gigawatts (GW) of new wind and solar capacity would be needed to produce enough energy to replace all fossil fuel generation in the US. Dan Shreve, Head of Global Wind Energy Research, said: “The mass deployment of wind and solar generation will require substantial investments in utility-scale storage to ensure grid resilience is maintained.”

About 900 GW of new storage will also be needed to ensure wind- and solar-generated power is available exactly when consumers need it. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented, requiring a complete redesign of the power sector.

 

New on our radar screen is the issue of transmission expansion and potential costs to ratepayers.  “Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo began Monday’s daylong discussion of transmission investments with an appeal to stakeholders: “We need your help.”  His request came as regulators sought in a daylong conference to grapple with rising spending on transmission projects, which in turn translates into higher consumer bills.  “We need the help of stakeholders to proactively move forward,” Mr. Randazzo said. “We are seeing this large investment at a time where there is not much increase in total sales or demand.”  The cost of that “massive amount of investment” spread over a customer base that’s not growing at an equal rate leaves just one outcome, the chairman continued. “There’s not much else that can happen when you do that other than very significant increases in prices – all of which may be necessary,” Mr. Randazzo said.”

Nuclear link

Ohio rolls back RPS

Antinuclear on the move in Ohio

Blah,blah,blah, even Washington hates the Oh bill

Free (foreign) Bigwind may get expensive tariffs

Will green plan be expensive? HA! Ya think?

Seneca Wind Public Hearing Testimony 07232019

Will Batteries be the savior for BigWind? No and they are NOT green

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So, why not just use batteries to store BigWind energy? Battery storage is simply not dense enough. Read below and you will see the limitations. It does not make sense. We need energy DENSE sources that are efficient, dispatchable and inexpensive (nuclear/gas/coal/hydro) for our homes and businesses. Batteries, though rechargeable, are not green. Visit a lithium mine in northern Chile(pic above). Texas would not permit such a facility, and consider trying to open one in California or Massachusetts. And keep in mind, that lithium, like lead and cadmium, also popular for batteries, is a poisonous heavy metal. This is another aspect of the fake news about new renewables. And consumers need a lot of mines and batteries. A new battery for a full-size car stores 1 kWh. Running New York City for two cloudy, windless days would require about 530 million such batteries, about 62 per person….Read through the article(s) below and you will see that just 1 Tesla car battery uses 63 kg of lithium= more than the amount in 10,000 cell phones….

The Battery Series - Part 1The Battery Series - Part 2The Battery Series - Part 3The Battery Series - Part 4The Battery Series - Part 5
The Battery Series: Our Energy Problem: Putting the Battery in Context

OFF= BigWind production during PolarVortex

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It is beyond absurd when environmentalists call for 100% renewable energy. The reasons why are endless, as we discuss them regularly, but our recent Polar Vortex is a great reason. Had it not been for our reliable coal/gas/nuclear energy production, millions of us would have frozen to death. In fact, BigWind TOOK ENERGY FROM THE GRID during the blizzard cold temps….

As residents of the Twin Cities awoke on Jan. 29, the first of three straight days of subzero temperatures, about half of the region’s electricity was coming from wind farms dotting the Upper Midwest….

But grid operators would watch as electricity from wind steadily tailed off during the next day and a half…

That dip in wind output during last month’s deep freeze is now fueling debate about the nation’s embrace of renewable energy. The polar vortex arrived as calls grew on the left for a “Green New Deal” to transition to renewables and tackle the threat of climate change, all while various state-level proposals to increase renewable energy penetration circulated across the country.

It was also fresh ammunition for a fossil industry and other critics of renewable energy mandates that have long sowed doubts about the ability to maintain reliability on a grid growing increasingly dependent on intermittent energy sources….

Other turbines across the Upper Midwest shut down due to plunging temperatures.

Output from wind farms — a technology dubbed as the new baseload energy in the Upper Midwest — fell off even faster than anticipated starting the night before as temperatures fell below minus 20 F, the cutoff point below which turbines automatically quit operating.

A MISO presentation released ahead of the committee meeting today shows that when the grid operator declared a “maximum generation event” just before 3 a.m. on Jan. 30, only about half of the almost 14,000-MW forecast of wind generation to be available was actually producing energy.

Brian Draxten, manager of resource planning for Otter Tail Power Co., said wind turbines across North Dakota shut down because of the extreme temperatures. In fact, he said the wind farms went from a power producer to a 2-MW load on its system because they required heat to avoid being damaged….

Extreme cold takes a toll on various parts of a turbine, from electrical cabinets to the gearbox, the generator, lubricants and steel components, which can become brittle if the temperature goes low enough, Skjoeth said.

While turbines can be equipped with de-icing systems to help operate through snow and ice, that isn’t the problem seen in extreme cold, such as what the Upper Midwest saw during the polar vortex, he said.

Meanwhile, Skjoeth said there’s been little focus in the industry on developing turbines to operate below minus 20 F because the economics of producing energy in such extreme conditions wouldn’t justify the additional cost.

“Historically, the really cold weather comes with a decline in wind speeds,” he said. “When you get that low, you don’t get that much wind, normally.”…

Within days of the polar vortex, a lobbyist for Dairyland Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative, told a Minnesota legislative committee hearing on the bill that wind energy didn’t show up when it was needed.

The lights stayed on “only because of fossil fuel power plants that could be called upon and dispatched,” he said…

Original article

This (Bud’s) DUD is for you! BigWind forces at work this Super Bowl

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The Super bowl has garnered a lot of controversy over the years, from malfunctioning ‘wardrobes’ to ‘deflategate’ and more. This year, however, BigWind has successfully lobbied for some screen time and a great attempt to indoctrinate the viewers. About what? That manufacturing can actually survive on renewable energy. We know the truth. We know the consequences of BigWind growth across our land and in our communities. Will you take time to tell this brewing company that you do not support their endorsement of this industry? Tell them the commercial is a DUD!….Find the link at bottom of page

Rather speak to someone directly? Give Bud a call at 1-800-342-5283 Monday through Friday, 11am-8pm CST.
To send them an email go to:
OR
What if I think a specific ad is false or misleading? Broadcasters are responsible for selecting the broadcast material that airs on their stations, including advertisements. The FCC expects broadcasters to be responsible to the community they serve and act with reasonable care to ensure that advertisements aired on their stations are not false or misleading. The FTC has primary responsibility for determining whether specific advertising is false or misleading, and for taking action against the sponsors of such material. You can file a complaint with the FTC online or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). 

Dear Anheuser-Busch,

This DUDS for you! Perhaps you didn’t realize the extent to which your Super Bowl commercial would strike a nerve with rural residents across the country and around the world?

You see, unfortunately, THOUSANDS of rural communities find themselves battling the improper siting of Industrial Wind Turbines.

Unlike the vast, wide open prairies featured in your ad, wind developers now attempt to irresponsibly site their turbines too close to the homes of rural people — ignoring even the most basic of safety measures!

Unfortunately, the popular narrative echoes how polarized this issue has become. If you advocate for responsible siting of Industrial Turbines, you must be a climate denier or must be working for the Coal or Oil industry — when neither is true.

Please accept these signatures, from rural Americans, Canadians, and people all over the world, who are simply fighting to protect themselves from incompatible land use and unsafe siting. Please educate yourself on the REALITY of Industrial Wind!

We raise a cold beer NO longer from Anheuser-Busch, to say, “This DUDS for you!”

Anh-Busch PETITION link

“Paying” a BigPrice for BigWind

We have, over the years, repeatedly blogged about how renewables will RAISE electricity prices, NOT lower them, as BigWind touts. Unfortunately, our words are clouded by the loud mouths of BigWind…an industry that has now received Bigpaychecks from the US taxpayers for more than 30 years! Proof of OUR claims are below, right here in the USA. Texas electricity rates are HIGHER, not lower, with BigWind. Is this truth being shared? Not nearly enough. If you read the entire article, you will find that this community is now well known, among the renewable world, for its success in becoming 100% renewable.  Unfortunately, the same renewable world is not being 100% honest, in its reporting…
Georgetown, Texas, just 30-miles north of Austin, earned international acclaim after announcing its transition to a 100% renewable energy portfolio. Since mid-2018, all electricity consumed by the City, its residents and businesses, is sourced from a combination of wind and solar plants operating in the state. Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross, a CPA, touted the decision as a “no-brainer” grounded in economics and long-term strategic planning. For Ross, wind and solar were cheaper, more reliable, and the way of the future.
The shift to renewables put Georgetown on the green energy map and raised Mayor Ross’ public profile leading to national media interviews and a coveted spot in Al Gore’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.” Plaudits aside, Georgetown ratepayers were promised measureable reductions in their power expenses. The City’s 2016 annual budget anticipated an overall 10.8% decrease in electric utility expenses from the prior year’s projections owing largely to renewables.
But now that Georgetown is ‘running’ on wind and solar, its officials are facing a harsh reality.
Actual power purchases for 2016 were 22% over budget coming in at $42.6 million against an expected cost of $35 million. In 2017, costs surged again to $52.5 million and all indications are Georgetown electricity customers will take another bath this year. (See table 2)
TABLE 2
Georgetown, Texas Budget/Cost Data
(all figures taken from City budgets posted online)
Year Demand (MWh) Initial
Budget ($)
Amended
Budget ($)
Actual
Costs ($)
2011 547,476 37,448,760 35,018,526 37,455,227
2012 537,986 39,149,279 36,880,197 36,278,168
2013 544,340 34,550,709  29,020,574 27,689,893
2014 565,518 36,768,008 33,012,132 38,384,323
2015 590,029 37,073,038 37,073,038 40,538,526
2016 605,020 34,000,000 35,000,000 42,622,904
2017 621,464  38,000,000 44,000,000 52,526,535
2018 640,108*  44,000,000 52,000,000  tbd
2019 659,311*  48,000,000 tbd
…It’s no secret that renewable energy is flooding the Texas power market and depressing prices, especially during off-peak, off-season periods. ERCOT regularly reports real-time energy prices so the information was there for the City and everyone else to see. Power contracts and federal subsidies further encourage drops as wind and solar resources become immune to market signals and can afford to generate even when prices go negative.

Why battery storage won’t save BigWind

If BigWind is already UNaffordable, (see previous article),what will battery storage do to the economics? It spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r for the industry. We would join the ranks of Germany, where an article, “To Heat or Eat”, highlighted the disproportionate amount of cash that citizens pay for energy.  California legislators out of their minds, to believe that businesses will not continue to leave such an expensive environment….

A pair of 500-foot smokestacks rise from a natural-gas power plant on the harbor of Moss Landing, California, casting an industrial pall over the pretty seaside town.

If state regulators sign off, however, it could be the site of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery project by late 2020, helping to balance fluctuating wind and solar energy on the California grid.

The 300-megawatt facility is one of four giant lithium-ion storage projects that Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, askedthe California Public Utilities Commission to approve in late June. Collectively, they would add enough storage capacity to the grid to supply about 2,700 homes for a month (or to store about .0009 percent of the electricity the state uses each year).

The California projects are among a growing number of efforts around the world, including Tesla’s 100-megawatt battery array in South Australia, to build ever larger lithium-ion storage systems as prices decline and renewable generation increases. They’re fueling growing optimism that these giant batteries will allow wind and solar power to displace a growing share of fossil-fuel plants.

But there’s a problem with this rosy scenario. These batteries are far too expensive and don’t last nearly long enough, limiting the role they can play on the grid, experts say. If we plan to rely on them for massive amounts of storage as more renewables come online—rather than turning to a broader mix of low-carbon sources like nuclear and natural gas with carbon capture technology—we could be headed down a dangerously unaffordable path.

Small doses

Today’s battery storage technology works best in a limited role, as a substitute for “peaking” power plants, according to a 2016 analysis by researchers at MIT and Argonne National Lab. These are smaller facilities, frequently fueled by natural gas today, that can afford to operate infrequently, firing up quickly when prices and demand are high.

Lithium-ion batteries could compete economically with these natural-gas peakers within the next five years, says Marco Ferrara, a cofounder of Form Energy, an MIT spinout developing grid storage batteries.

“The gas peaker business is pretty close to ending, and lithium-ion is a great replacement,” he says.

This peaker role is precisely the one that most of the new and forthcoming lithium-ion battery projects are designed to fill. Indeed, the California storage projects could eventually replace three natural-gas facilities in the region, two of which are peaker plants.

But much beyond this role, batteries run into real problems. The authors of the 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day.

Not only is lithium-ion technology too expensive for this role, but limited battery life means it’s not well suited to filling gaps during the days, weeks, and even months when wind and solar generation flags.

This problem is particularly acute in California, where both wind and solar fall off precipitously during the fall and winter months. Here’s what the seasonal pattern looks like:

If renewables provided 80 percent of California electricity – half wind, half solar – generation would fall precipitously beginning in the late summer.

CLEAN AIR TASK FORCE ANALYSIS OF CAISO DATA

This leads to a critical problem: when renewables reach high levels on the grid, you need far, far more wind and solar plants to crank out enough excess power during peak times to keep the grid operating through those long seasonal dips, says Jesse Jenkins, a coauthor of the study and an energy systems researcher. That, in turn, requires banks upon banks of batteries that can store it all away until it’s needed.

And that ends up being astronomically expensive….

“The system becomes completely dominated by the cost of storage,” says Steve Brick, a senior advisor for the Clean Air Task Force. “You build this enormous storage machine that you fill up by midyear and then just dissipate it. It’s a massive capital investment that gets utilized very little.”

These forces would dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers.

“You have to pause and ask yourself: ‘Is there any way the public would stand for that?’” Brick says….

Why batteries won’t work