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View Diary: New German Data Shows No End in Sight for Coal (230 comments)

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    Since there are 8760 hours in a year, we find that solar's mean power contribution is 3.189 GW, which is only 9.85% of capacity.  Similarly we find that wind's mean power output is 5.236 GW, which is 17.8% of capacity.  This is surely one of the most realistic measures of the effectiveness of these renewable technologies in delivering energy.  It also shows the magnitude of how much the grid must be able to respond to variations in weather as there must be 5-10x's more capacity built than what is received on average.
    You were doing a really great until that last sentence, which leaves a false impression about the way electric utilities operate and what mix of generation resources should be part of the utility portfolio.

    First, electric utilities don't operate in a manner expecting the grid "to be able to respond" on the matter of how they can utilize renewable generation.  Electric utilities can't be properly managed by expecting that they will meet their customer system demand by looking to the grid to other utilities as a matter of basic operating philosophy with renewable generation operations.

    Second, for wind generation capacity, most or all of a utility's wind generation resources will be at or near very low generation during common weather conditions during high pressure ridges with light winds over multi-state areas.   For this reason alone, you can never consider that your wind or solar generation capacity is replacing your base load generation capacity.   Electric utilities see their renewable generation investments as diversifying their generation mix.  

    Environmental groups keep wanting to pretend that base load generation capacity is replaceable by wind/solar when it cannot do the same thing as a fuel-fired generation facility.   The environmental groups should stop practicing electric utility generation planning and engineering misconduct, and instead start thinking like energy stewards who are on a mission for greenhouse gas emission control..

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