Excess Costs of UK Weather Dependent Renewable Energy

Re-Blogged From WUWT


These straightforward calculations are intended to answer the simple question:

“roughly how much would it cost to generate the same amount of power as is produced by the present fleet of UK Weather Dependent Renewables, using conventional generation technologies, (Nuclear or Gas-firing) ? and how do those figures compare ?”.

Accordingly the post quantifies the scale of the fiscal waste and the burdens on utility bills attributable to the use of UK Weather Dependent Renewables as in 2019.  The approximate long-term cost commitment is ~250 £billion according to these calculations.  The present long-term cost estimate for the UK Weather Dependent Renewables fleet amounts to about twice the annual, cost of the NHS or about 11% of annual UK GDP.  As can be seen later these estimates show that using Weather Dependent Renewables costs about 12 times as much as using Natural Gas and about 3 times as much as Nuclear power.

An Appalling Delusion

The late Professor Sir David Mackay (former chef scientific advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change) in a final interview before his untimely death in 2016 said that the concept of powering a developed country such as the UK with Weather Dependent Renewable energy was:

“an appalling delusion”.

Weather Dependent Renewable Energy depends on capturing essentially dilute and very variable sources of power.  Weather Dependent Renewables are thus both capital and maintenance expensive and inevitably unreliable.

Weather Dependent Renewables are universally more expensive than the conventional alternatives of Nuclear power or Gas-firing.

At the time he also said:

“there’s so much delusion, it’s so dangerous for humanity that people allow themselves to have such delusions, that they are willing to not think carefully about the numbers, and the reality of the laws of physics and the reality of engineering….humanity does need to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics.”

and later in the same interview he said that:

“if it is possible to get through the winter with low CO2 Nuclear and possibly with Carbon Capture and Storage there is no point in having any Wind or Solar power in the UK generation mix”

But it seems that having bought into the assumption that Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming is an immediate and existential threat that Government elites when faced with these simple but devastatingly wasteful calculations assume a position of “wilful ignorance”, and a stance of “don’t confuse me with the facts, we are saving the world“.

https://www.spiked-online.com/podcast-episode/we-need-a-democratic-revolt-against-the-climate-extremists/        minute 40 onwards

There is also an irrational determination in Government that the only solution to reducing CO2 emissions is the use of Weather Dependent Renewables.

This is a fallacy:  the only proven solutions to CO2 emissions reduction are the use Nuclear energy as in France and / or the use of Natural gas as in the USA, but these real solutions are somehow always rejected out of hand:  they do not accord with the “Green” religion.

Accordingly this costing model has followed through on Professor Mackay’s back of the envelope calculations, in the UK, showing that Weather Dependent Renewables are plainly expensive.  The excess overspend instead of using Gas-firing of the current UK generation fleet roughly amount to some 55£billion in capital costs and the long-term costs approach a further 240£billion.

Cost comparisons

Screenshot 2020-04-13 at 16.08.30.png

In 2019 UK Weather dependent renewables generated a total of some 7.3 Gigawatts of power from an installed fleet with an installed Name Plate value of ~35 Gigawatts, thus achieving an overall productivity factor for Weather Dependent Renewables of ~20.9%.  The graphic below shows the effect of combining the capital and long-term costs of the various generation technologies with their productivity factors as achieved in the UK in 2019.  The model of comparative costs uses data from the US  Energy Information Administration, (EIA), updated 2020 and translated to GB Pounds, see later.

Productivity / Capacity percentage is the performance measure for generation technologies, it consists of the actual Power output / Name Plate power rating.

The most useful comparison is to assess the costs in £Billion/Gigawatt of power produced accounting for Productivity, the comparison as shown below:

Screenshot 2020-04-11 at 11.27.14.png

All traditional dispatchable power generation technologies are all capable of Productivity of up to 90%, only having to be curtailed by routine maintenance, whereas Weather Dependent Renewables when in combination over the year only return ~21% of their Name Plate rating.  The resulting comparative costs of Weather Dependent Renewables are shown below.

Screenshot 2020-04-15 at 07.11.42.png

According to these estimates overall the 2019 UK installed Weather Dependent Renewables fleet cost ~62£billion in overnight capital costs or ~8.5£billion/Gigawatt generated with a future commitment of some ~260£billion or ~35£billion/Gigawatt produced long-term.  Conventional power generation, (Nuclear and Gas-firing) is more than competitive with Renewable costs with capital costs of ~5.5£billion/Gigawatt for Nuclear or less than 1£billion/Gigawatt for Gas-firing, as above.

Because of the comparative costs and productivity factors Offshore wind is certainly the most expensive to install at ~33£Billion to date and likely further ongoing costs of ~150£billion or ~52£billion/Gigawatt produced.

Current Solar PV cost ~13£billion to install and a further future costs of about 54£billion or ~42£billion/Gigawatt produced.  UK on grid solar installations virtually ceased in 2019.

The installed UK Weather Dependent Renewables fleet of ~35Gigawatts, were it fully productive, would have often matched UK demand, however the limited average Renewables productivity factor of ~20% means that the Renewables fleet only managed to unreliably generate about a fifth of that UK requirement, and that output was often uncoordinated with demand.


This post shows clearly the likely cost differentials and overspend over effective traditional Electricity generation technologies, (Gas-firing and Nuclear), that Weather Dependent Renewables are bound to incur.

These calculations clearly contradict the popular assertion that Weather Dependent Renewables are now price competitive with conventional power generation, Gas-firing and even Nuclear power.  Those assertions ignore:

  • all government subsidies and other fiscal support
  • the productivity of Renewables when compared to traditional generation technologies. 

[The original post has tons more graphs and analysis. Please view the complete post at https://www.silver-phoenix500.com/article/why-should-we-care-if-oil-giants-get-crushed  –Bob]


If the objectives of using Weather Dependent Renewables were not confused with possibly “saving the planet” from the output of the UK’s small level of CO2 emissions, (for electricity generation, ~25% of 1.1%, the UK 2018 portion of Man-made Global CO2 emissions), their actual cost, in-effectiveness and their inherent unreliability, Weather Dependent Renewables would have always been ruled them out of any engineering consideration as means of National scale electricity generation.  

The annual UK CO2 emissions output is well surpassed just by the annual growth of CO2 emissions in China and the Developing world.

It is essential to ask the question what is the actual value of these government mandated excess expenditures to the improvement of the environment and for the possibility of perhaps preventing undetectable temperature increases by the end of the century, especially in a context where the Developing world will be increasing its CO2 emissions to attain it’s further enhancement of living standards over the coming decades.  

Reducing CO2 emissions as a means to control a “warming” climate seems even less relevant when the long-term global temperature trend has been downwards for last 3 millennia, as the coming end of our current warm and benign Holocene interglacial epoch approaches.

The context in Spring 2020

In spite of all the noisy Climate Propaganda of the past 30 years, in Spring 2020 the world is faced with a different but VERY REAL economic emergency from the COVID-19 virus pandemic.  That Emergency, with the world facing the immediate death of many citizens as well as global economic breakdown, should put the costly Government mandated attempts to control the future climate into stark perspective and show how irrelevant concerns over “Climate Change” truly are, when compared to the economic effects of this pandemic.


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