Renewables advocates are constantly downplaying the risks associated with intermittency.
When the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining, we’re assured that batteries and electricity imports from neighboring jurisdictions can fill in the gaps.
The problem, of course, is that current viable battery technology is only capable of storing power in 4-hour intervals, and eventually, you simply run out of other people’s electricity.
The inevitable result: you’re right back to burning hydrocarbons.
The U.K. received a refresher on this very lesson today following the precipitous decline in generation from the country’s wind fleet.
Over the last 40 hours, the UK wind power industry has swung from producing 16.4 GW to generating 0.4 GW
The drop in electricity production is equal to, give or take, switching off 14 nuclear power stations. That's the reason why UK power markets are tight today.
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) November 28, 2022
Fortunately for the citizens of Great Britain, the winter weather has been unseasonably mild thus far, leaving plenty of unused natural gas available to pick up the slack.
Despite having more than 25 GW of installed wind capacity and nearly 15 GW of installed solar capacity on the national grid, it was good old reliable natural gas that kept the lights on in Great Britain today.
Lessons abound for policymakers on the wisdom of continuing to build out massive fleets of unreliable wind and solar. Doing so may win plaudits from the environmental lobby, but it ensures the ongoing need for dispatchable gas-fired generation.