October 31st, 2015


Renewable Energy Impacts on the Grid

People have been sharing this article on the "virtues" of wind and solar knocking coal and natural gas units off the grid, so I thought I'd chime in.

First: the article doesn't talk about to W&S are knocking nukes off the grid, with wind predominantly affecting nukes. Btw, those are our largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG)-free of electricity.

Second: W&S are not knocking natural gas off the grid: they depend on NG units - primarily inefficient NG units - to work. They also force NG units to operate less efficiently.

Lastly, there's another way to look at what this article is saying: The more solar and wind power that is installed, the more the price of electricity goes up.

This raises several questions:

1. How does that impact consumers who can't pay their electricity bills already? (Disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities)

2. How will this impact the economy? (Higher prices == higher operating costs -> American businesses become less competitive)

3. When will we hit a tipping point when prices increase at a higher rate due to intermittent electricity integration costs (i.e. adding batteries, more voltage support, building more high voltage transmission lines that people aren't in favor of (NIMBY), etc.)?