Many governments in the Western world have committed to “net zero” emissions of carbon in the near future. The US and UK both say they will deliver by 2050. It’s widely believed that wind and solar power can achieve this. This belief has led the US and British governments, among others, to promote and heavily subsidise wind and solar.
These plans have a single, fatal flaw: they are reliant on the pipe-dream that there is some affordable way to store surplus electricity at scale.
In the real world a wind farm’s output often drops below 10 per cent of its rated “capacity” for days at a time. Solar power disappears completely every night and drops by 50 per cent or more during cloudy days. “Capacity” being a largely meaningless figure for a wind or solar plant, about 3000 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity is needed to replace a 1000 MW conventional power station in terms of energy over time: and in fact, as we shall see, the conventional power station or something very like it will still be needed frequently once the wind and solar are online.