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On Clean Power Plan to Reward Texas, not Wyoming Coal-Backers

Getting to 24% wind generation in Texas is certainly achievable. Last year, the main grid operator in Colorado reliably obtained 19.3% of its electricity from wind energy. Like Texas, Colorado also has relatively few transmission ties to neighboring regions, though you are correct that expanded transmission ties would certainly help integrate even more wind.

A group of Nebraska utilities found 40% wind generation to be feasible, including 40% wind across the entire Southwest Power Pool region.

The main grid operator in Texas, ERCOT, obtained 9.9% of its electricity from wind generation last year with minimal impact on the cost or need for reserves. In fact, the cost of integrating wind in ERCOT is less 1/17th the cost of accommodating the abrupt failures of conventional power plants.

Michael Goggin,

American Wind Energy Association

September 8, 2014    View Comment    

On What are the Capacity Factor Impacts on New Installed Renewable Power Generation Capacities?

John, there are several major errors in your numbers:

1. Your capacity factor assumptions for fossil-fired power plants are way too high. Correcting for that error alone brings the data back to its original finding: new renewable energy is a major source of new generation, rivaling the contribution of new gas generation. As you note at the end of your post, EIA reports actual capacity factor data for power plants. However, you neglected to use that data for fossil-fired power plants, instead using maximum potential capacity factor assumptions for fossil while using the real-world data for renewable generation, providing an apples-to-oranges comparison. Here is the comparison between your numbers and EIA's real-world numbers for fossil plant capacity factors:

Natural gas

You: 87%

EIA: Combined cycle: 46.5%

Combustion turbine: 4.1%

Steam turbine: 10.7%


You: 85%

EIA: 59.7%


You: 85%

EIA: 11.7%, 0.9%, and 6.7% for steam, CT, and ICE respectively

Admittedly EIA's numbers are a fleet-wide average capacity factor, not the capacity factor for new plants alone, though there is no reason to believe new plants should depart significantly from the fleet-wide average, aside from likely having a slightly better heat rate. A cursory sampling of EIA plant-specific data supports the conclusion that new build gas plants have capacity factors that are roughly consistent with the fleet-wide averages indicated in the EIA data above.

2. Your sampling of installed capacity data for January-June 2013 and January-June 2014 is a highly misleading snapshot that misses nearly all new wind installations. Wind was the largest source of newly installed generating capacity in 2012, and wind is likely to approach or even regain that title over the next 18 months because a record amount of wind generation is currently under construction. 2013 and the first half of 2014 have been an extreme anomaly for the low number of wind installations, driven by the very late extension of the PTC at the end of 2012. In addition, the first half of the year is always by far the slowest for new wind installations, as the summer is typically the peak time for wind plant installation which leads to the vast majority of wind projects being commissioned in the fall or winter. Using a more representative timeframe would correctly show wind to be one of the largest sources of new generation.

3. Without going into too much detail on this separate topic, the main reason why DOE's EIA Annual Energy Outlook projections almost always underestimate new wind build is that EIA uses wind cost assumptions that are nearly twice reality. EIA's levelized cost assumption for wind was around $80/MWh last year, based on a theoretical estimate from a consultant that has virtually no experience with actual wind project costs, while the real-world average wind PPA price last year, after removing the impact of the PTC, was around half of that. Combined with EIA's self-acknowledged long-standing bias of underestimating fossil fuel costs, it is little surprise that they continue to underestimate future growth of renewable energy.

Michael Goggin,
American Wind Energy Association

August 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Much Talked About Myths about Renewable Energy

Frank's results are driven by his use of wildly incorrect figures for wind and gas plant capacity factors, obsolete data on wind energy costs, and an incorrect understanding of the economic value of capacity. Once those errors are corrected, his methodology shows wind to be a cost-effective way to reduce emissions, as explained here.

Michael Goggin,

American Wind Energy Association

June 23, 2014    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

Please explain how any of the passages from the NERC report contradict what I said.

March 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

Yep, I'd already read all of that. None of it contradicts what I said.

March 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Can You Make a Wind Turbine Without Fossil Fuels?

Robert, all of your attacks on wind energy were comprehensively rebutted in this literature review of every peer-reviewed publication on the lifecycle CO2 emissions of every energy source. The result? Wind energy's lifecycle impact is a fraction of all fossil-fired energy sources, and significantly lower than almost all non-emitting resources, including nuclear power.

Michael Goggin,
American Wind Energy Association

February 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

No answer? I'll take that as a concession that you were wrong.

January 10, 2014    View Comment    

On Study: Wind Energy Needs Controls to Minimize Risk of Instability on the Grid

Christina, you should take this article down or significantly revise it immediately, as NC State has taken down their press release to correct the errors in how it presented the study's findings. In personal correspondence with the study author yesterday, he acknowledged that wind energy's variability had nothing to do with the study's results, which is the central claim you make in your article. Wind energy variability is simply too small and slow to have that type of impact. I'd be happy to forward those emails to you if you'd like. NC State is working to correct their press release, which when corrected I expect will highlight what were actually the study's positive findings about how wind energy can further contribute to reliability by mitigating grid disturbances.


Michael Goggin

American Wind Energy Association

January 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

I'm still waiting on an answer, Kevon. You do realize that it is OK to admit that you were wrong?

December 18, 2013    View Comment    

On How Effective are US Renewable Power Policies?

John, thanks for the post. The data make clear what is causing the current uptick in electric sector emissions in 2013. You hit on it in your post:

"Recent increases in coal consumption could be related to the increase of natural gas prices 2012-13.  Not only have natural gas prices increased, but coal market prices have also been in decline.  These market cost factors directionally reverse the attractiveness of fuels switching from coal-to-natural gas."

Some of the emissions reductions observed in 2012 were fleeting because they were driven by natural gas being cheaper than coal, so many gas plants were dispatched before many coal plants. Gas plants ran at much higher capacity factors than normal, while coal plants produced less energy, which unsurprisingly drove emissions down. Because gas has returned to being more expensive than coal, those emissions have also returned. Wind and solar have been consistently driving emissions down throughout this time period, and will continue to do so. I run through the data here:

Separately, your claim that there could be "carbon leakage" from non-renewable states is not supported as more than a dozen studies demonstrate that wind energy actually drives electricity prices down, which would cause industry to relocate to states with larger amounts of wind energy:,,, (lists 6 studies),,,,, and

Michael Goggin,
American Wind Energy Association

December 5, 2013    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

That's the best excuse you can come up with for not answering my question? "Young man?" Since when was age a qualification for discussion here? Keep digging that hole, my friend. Let me know when you are ready to answer my simple question or have a substantive discussion of the points I made in my post.

December 3, 2013    View Comment    

On Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka 'Renewables'

I don't see anything in that report that contradicts anything I've said below, let alone "virtually everything" as you claim. Please explain and provide specific citations to sections that contradict what I've said.

December 2, 2013    View Comment