The Problem With an All-Renewables Grid

There’s an interesting op-ed by Robert Blohm in the Wall Street Journal analyzing the issues with an all-renewables electric grid. The biggest problem is that it’s impossible or, at best, can’t accomplish the objectives of an electrical grid:

An electric power grid involves second-by-second balancing between generated supply and consumer demand. In the case of a sudden imbalance—such as from the loss of a generator’s output—all the remaining generators on the grid instantaneously pool together. Each one pitches in a small part of the required power to make up for the lost generator fast enough to keep supply and demand balanced.

This doesn’t work for wind and solar because you can’t spontaneously increase wind or sunshine. Hydro power is limited and unevenly distributed around the country. And for safety reasons, nuclear power—even if the Green New Dealers accepted it—can’t be cranked up to neutralize imbalances. Nor can consumer demand be suddenly reduced enough.

If you genuinely want to reduce carbon emissions, you should embrace things that will work first and avoid those that won’t. An all-renewables grid won’t work.

9 comments… add one
  • Guarneri Link

    AOC and Kamala Harris must have skipped their EE lectures that day.

    You’d need the mother of all capacitors or a battery farm. So, never mind.

  • steve Link

    Its not really my impression that those who are serious AND educated on the issue are rarely really pushing for an all renewable grid. Of those who are it seems to rank right along fusion. It would be nice if could ever achieve either in a cost effective way, but right now they are just dreams.


  • When was a congressman ever serious and educated on an issue?

  • TastyBits Link

    I cannot read the full article, but, it is worse than the excerpt quoted.

    The grid draws electricity from the generators, and as the load increases, they will increase to provide the additional supply. The grid will suck electricity from the generators, and at some point, the generator will destroy itself trying to supply the needed electricity.

    Power plants have a ‘breaker’ that will disengage the plant from the grid. This is what causes widespread blackouts. As each station goes offline, the remaining stations need to supply the demand, and as the output demand exceeds, the plant will trip off-line. This increases the draw on the remaining plants causing a domino effect.

    To prevent this, control centers monitor multiple power plants and adjust their output to keep the grid from going down. Brownouts prevent blackouts.

    There are also quality issues. Modern equipment require high quality (non-fluctuating) electricity. What is good enough for your microwave oven can destroy a server farm.

    When a power plant comes back online, somebody does not just throw a switch. It must be synchronized to the grid.

  • TastyBits Link


    AOC and Kamala Harris must have skipped their EE lectures that day.

    Mr. Smarty Pants, these are two of the top scientists in the US. While you were wasting your time with physics, they were studying the effects of racism in technology. If the Apollo program had relied on dynamics, we never would have gotten to the moon. It takes diversity and consensus.

    Maybe you should have spent more time studying drama than thermodynamics, and then, you would recognize Leonardo DiCaprio’s scientific prowess.

  • Guarneri Link

    I apologize. I now see the errors of my ways.

  • TastyBits Link


    Now that Top Scientist Ocasio-Cortez has established the scientific fact that financing pipelines is the primary cause of Global Warming, are you also apologizing for contributing to the destruction of the planet by working at a bank?


  • Guarneri Link

    I’m thinking seppuku is the only honorable alternative, given my sins. I take former bartenders seriously……….

  • You really think medical devices are aimed at harming the cartel?

    No, the approval system is intent on preserving the cartel. There are an incredible number of things that have been approved for sale in the EU over the counter that are either prohibited here or prescription-only.

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