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No Wind Power In Summer? Solar Panels Won’t Save You!

March 20, 2023

By Paul Homewood



 A true wind farm.

When we look at lulls in wind power, we usually focus on winter when demand is at its highest. But what about summer when wind power really does drop off for long periods? There is an assumption that this is not a problem because demand for electricity is much lower then and there will be plenty of solar power on hand.

But this might not be the case.

If we look back to last August, for instance, wind power for the month as a whole had an average load factor of 17.4%. From other sources, such as Renewable Obligations, we can estimate the split between offshore and onshore as 18.0% and 14.5% respectively. This is supported by data for the London Array, which suggests that load factors often drop below 18% in spring and summer.





Of course, the real situation is much worse than the monthly averages suggest. During the month of August as a whole, there were long spells when wind power ran at 2 GW, and often much less. For example, between the 10th and 15th power dipped to an average of just 1.6 GW.

Total wind capacity at the time was 28.4 GW, so 2 GW would represent a load factor of just 7%.





So now let us fast forward to 2030, when we are targeting 40 GW of offshore wind, 30 GW of onshore and 40 GW of solar.

Total power demand averaged 26 GW last August, and based on the average monthly load factors we get this projection for 2030:


Offshore 7.2
Onshore 4.3
Solar 6.0

. .

Solar, by the way, is based on a load factor of 15.5%, the average in Q3 last year.

So we have a total of 17.5 GW from wind and solar, which as we have seen could easily dip to 10 GW and below during those wind droughts. Nuclear and biomass should provide another 8 GW, so even on the average load factors, supply will be very tight. But last August there were 20 days when wind output was below average:


What are we supposed to do then, even assuming we have enough battery storage to meet demand at night.

The situation will of course be exacerbated with the extra demand from EVs, which the government wants us to charge at night, when there is no sunshine!

The chart below gives the profile of demand for August 1st:


Demand is at its lowest from midnight to 7.00 am, and peaks between 4.00 pm and 11.00 pm, hitting its highest at 7.30 pm.

Bearing in mind that nuclear and biomass might provide 8 GW, whilst wind power might drop to 4 GW or less, where will the electricity come from to charge our cars up? Or anything else for that matter?

This crazy situation highlights one more myth – that surplus wind power in summer can be used to produce hydrogen, for use in winter. As we can see, in a typical summer month there is not enough power on the grid to meet demand, never mind store.

  1. March 20, 2023 7:36 pm

    What are you gonna do with the imaginary Hydrogen? There is no distribution network for it, and never will be. Hydrogen is a chimera used as a distraction from the fact that all this green nonsense is just that–nonsense.

    • March 20, 2023 11:28 pm

      Hydrogen is the naughty child of the period table. Has an unruly effect on once stable alloys, can react explosive and as all naughty children will eventually turn out to be very expensive. Have fun!

      • StephenP permalink
        March 21, 2023 7:22 am

        Where will we store all this hydrogen?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 21, 2023 8:53 am

      Hydrogen really is the epitome of this nonsense. Virtually all of the proposed solutions are pie in the sky, never likely to happen. Or else they are essentially very poor substitutes, as we see with EVs, heat pumps and wind. That we have committed to such things is so stupid it beggars belief, and that many people lie about them is shameful.

    • julianflood permalink
      March 21, 2023 9:35 am

      Hydrogen – the Basil Brush of renewable energy.


      • March 21, 2023 12:42 pm

        JF–What is a Basil Brush? A cooking implement, a metaphor? Please advise, Bill

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 21, 2023 2:29 pm

      Billy, in answer to your question lower down to Julian Flood, Julian was making a joke. This is Basil Brush
      Whenever he told a bad joke he added the phrase “Boom, Boom”
      Do you get it now!

      • March 21, 2023 2:53 pm

        Yes, and thank you for your response. We do not receive Basil Brush on this side of the pond, but the link you supplied will get me caught up. Thank you, Again, Bill — Boom Boom.

  2. stephen Michael lord permalink
    March 20, 2023 7:39 pm

    like all socialist/communist schemes. there will be shortages and rationing for the peasants while the elite will have to get what they need for their important jobs. (and of course there will be a black market and lots of bribery for the regulators) so really the ones running the show benefit from shortages which is why they push ahead and pretend it will work out

    • Micky R permalink
      March 21, 2023 9:37 am

      ” like all socialist/communist schemes. ”

      Belief systems is a better description.

      Governments should always be afraid of the general population, otherwise the former will not act in the best interests of the latter.

      Suppliers / contractors should always be afraid of customers, otherwise the former will not act in the best interests of the latter.

  3. GeoffB permalink
    March 20, 2023 7:41 pm

    Do not let facts get in the way of net zero, we actually have to achieve it 10 years earlier, the UN say so. FFS

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 20, 2023 7:57 pm

      By the time of the next IPCC report Net Zero will have to be achieved in the past

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 21, 2023 8:50 am

        We’ve had at least 3 goes at “ten years to save the planet” now but still the vast majority of us on the planet on the vast majority of days would fail to see a problem if they looked outside. I’m in SW France right now looking at bare trees and only one tree with any blossom. Photos from exactly one year ago show all the fruit trees in blossom and plenty of leaves. Spring is going to be at least a week later this year. Climate emergency?

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 21, 2023 11:51 am

        Same in UK this spring, according to BBC despite having a mild winter the cold snaps this year have delayed the blossom. So climate change is still happening

    • Vernon E permalink
      March 21, 2023 4:06 pm

      GB News featured a nut-case who is heading up the newish “Climate Party”. He was promoting even ten years earlier than that – 2030. Why do these lunatics get air time?

  4. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 20, 2023 8:45 pm

    What was said would be the world’s largest solar energy infrastructure project collapsed some months ago.
    Sun Cable intended to spend more than $30 (£16.3) billion on its Australia-Asia PowerLink, which would harness solar energy in the Northern Territory and transmit the power to Singapore via undersea cables.
    Very little was built and the 2 billionaire ex-partners are at loggerheads.
    There was scepticism by onlookers from the start, apparently also the Singaporean authorities who NEVER promised any contracts, and concentrated on supplies from gas (and transmission from NEW coal-fired plants being built in nearby countries).
    The solution to the UK’s electricity crisis is simple, get rid of the current mob of believers in magical unicorns and replace them with people from Singapore.

  5. Mikehig permalink
    March 20, 2023 9:51 pm

    Aren’t you being a bit optimistic with “Nuclear and biomass should provide another 8 GW”?
    By 2030 all of the old AGRs will be shutdown, leaving only Sizewell B and HPC – if the latter is online by then (given the track record of the EPR that has to be doubtful). That would give us 4.6 GW of nuclear plus 2 GW of biomass at Drax. However the summer months are usually the time when nukes take maintenance outages. Also there’s rising pressure to stop the biomass nonsense.
    Something like 3 – 5 GW seems a more likely output from these sources and, imho, there’s a fair chance it could be just 1 GW from Sizewell if HPC is late and Drax is no longer subsidised.
    The only “upside” is that people won’t freeze if the power goes off in summer!

    • March 21, 2023 8:24 am

      According to BEIS, there is about 5 GW of biomass, plus a couple of GW from waste etc.

      But the issue of maintenance outages is very real. Normally if you need 30 GW, you would build 40 GW to enable some reserve capacity.

      • Mikehig permalink
        March 22, 2023 10:12 am

        Thanks for the clarification.
        That capacity for biomass and waste……I’m guessing that most of it is “behind the meter”?
        I say that because Gridwatch et al typically show biomass running at 1 – 2 GW ( I’m not sure whether that includes any waste plants).
        If most of it is embedded generation then BEIS is mixing apples and oranges when claiming it can be part of meeting the “visible” demand. They should only use figures for generation which is under Grid control in the context of meeting demand.

        Drax have released a report by a consultancy which reinforces your points, talking about over 6 GW of dispatchable capacity that will be retired in the next few years:

  6. March 21, 2023 7:06 am

    Either the CCC, the DESNZ and politicians of the major parties are all totally out of touch with reality or it is part of their support for the UN/WEF strategy of destroying western economies.

  7. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 21, 2023 7:52 am

    Net zero is a very stupid idea and anyone who believes in it should stop exhaling CO2, right now!

  8. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 21, 2023 8:46 am

    In reality what matters is the hour by hour supply, not averages. It is clear that we need 60-100% nameplate overcapacity if we want to use renewables and that all of that overcapacity must receive an acceptable return on capital. That means that our electricity costs (assuming a gas price around the 2019 level) will be significantly higher than the previous mix without renewables, no matter what we use. For renewables as a system to be cheaper, they would have to be at least 50% cheaper on a capacity basis to build and maintain than gas CCGT. This is just maths.

    • March 21, 2023 12:49 pm

      Well stated. For supposedly being so prescient and informed, the renewables crowd just does not seem to understand electricity must be available the moment it is needed, not yesterday or tomorrow. The green’s promise of energy storage as a solution is but another chimera. I am surprised none of them has proposed “super capacitors” yet, as these are right up there with the magic unicorns they so desperately seek.

  9. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 21, 2023 11:44 am

    Well 3 million households are safe for 24 hours

    Coire Glas: Hydro scheme which would double the UK’s ability to store energy gets £100m boost
    A proposed 92m-high dam and two reservoirs at Coire Glas which would double the UK’s ability to store energy for long periods of time has been given an £100m boost

    Still measuring things in households and Olympic swimming pools on the BBC. The reservoir is about 75% the size of Carsington Reservoir so a decent size
    A couple of hundred more and that’s a wind free week sorted

    Can’t see it being on budget though

    • kzbkzb permalink
      March 21, 2023 12:56 pm

      We don’t want to invest in Scotland either ! Not for something on which the whole UK is also dependent anyhow.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 21, 2023 2:24 pm

      Coire Glas is 30GWh of storage and 1.5GW of generation in normal terms. It was originally to be limited to 600MW to avoid too much churn in Loch Lochy, the lower reservoir, but they managed to persuade the planners to let them give the fish and wildlife more of a fairground ride. The economics of 20 hours duration to turn over the storage are just about workable, where the 50 hour duration prevented the capture of shorter term market fluctuations essential to earning a big enough income to make it viable.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 22, 2023 2:07 pm

        But what you describe is a scheme to arbitrage energy price variability. The Scotsman tells us it is being built to ‘tackle climate change’ (I didn’t know it was back up off the ground) and to ‘provide vital back up to an increasingly renewables-led system and bolstering energy security.’

        I’m sure you are correct, add up…. The Scotsman – Stephen Mcilkenny – is a pathetic tool. He read SSE’s press release, and went with it.

        ‘SSE’s £100m commitment to further developing Coire Glas comes as the leading low carbon energy infrastructure company awaits the UK Government’s decision on how it intends to financially support the deployment of long-duration electricity storage, as set out in last year’s British Energy Security Strategy.’

        It is NOT ‘long-duration electricity storage.’ But I don’t think it a lie. I think Mcilkenny and his editors are just too stupid to know they are being played.

  10. Bernard Hannah permalink
    March 21, 2023 3:18 pm

    Dear Paul and friends,
    Can anyone help me please to refute this rubbish?



    • bobn permalink
      March 22, 2023 3:19 pm

      Its dreadful bullpoo. so many fake statements. best to read a little history as these morons obviously havent. They claim our planets climate has been stable until now! Tell that to the dinosaurs. Tell Noah there were no floods before 1960.

      • March 22, 2023 4:05 pm

        It’s truly frustrating to have so much drivel from people who are supposed to be “experts.” I’d love Paul to do a detailed response, but he’s already busy enough!

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 22, 2023 1:19 am

    This chart, taken mostly from quarterly Energy Trends data, shows just how variable solar output can be.

    Note the “worst case scenario” used by EMBER – one of the CCC’s favourite consultancies in their recent study claiming that we could achieve a net zero grid by 2030. The seasonality is unchallenging, and the “worst case” is better than just about anything in the history. Perhaps they’ve found a way to relocate the UK further South, or they know that the climate is going to be a lot sunnier in winter? This kind of fraud is commonplace in the CCC/BEIS/National Grid consultancy game.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 22, 2023 5:13 pm

      I don’t know what “capacity factor” means. Solar produces double-ought zero 2/3s of the day. I’m suspicious of any solar graph that doesn’t bang zero frequently; above graph doesn’t represent reality. Quarterly and annual data is subterfuge.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 22, 2023 7:55 pm

        The capacity factor is derived by taking the total generation in MWh over the quarter, and dividing by the total peak generation potential (nominal capacity), and the number of hours in the quarter. It’s an average, but it clearly shows that solar output is highly seasonal, and variable from one year to the next.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 25, 2023 1:11 am

        It’s variable from one hour to the next.

  12. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 22, 2023 1:29 am

    Here’s the same thing for wind:

    Those new wind turbines are going to manage to exceed the Betz limit…

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