U.S. Electricity Generation by Source in 2022: Natural Gas, Coal, Nuclear, Wind, Hydro, Solar, Geothermal, Biomass, Petroleum

A record year for power generation, after 14 Years of Stagnation.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Electricity generation, as measured in gigawatt-hours, has gotten hammered by a near-stagnation in demand since 2007, as efforts to make everything more efficient have produced results for electricity users who’d invested in more efficient lights, appliances, electronic equipment, industrial equipment, heating and air-conditioning, etc. and in better building insulation, shading, etc. These upfront costs by electricity users produced financial returns via reduced electricity consumption. For electric utilities, it meant that they were stuck in a demand quagmire.

But then in 2022, there was finally the breakout in demand after 14 years. EV charging and crypto mining come to mind. And electricity generation rose by 3.5% from 2021, to a new record of 4,297,000 gigawatt-hours, according to EIA data released today. But 2021 had been flat with 2007, and so in 2022, the amount of electricity generated was only up by 3.5% from 2007!

The chart shows the total amount of electricity generated each year by utility-scale power plants and by small-scale solar installations, such as rooftop solar. The green line connects 2021 and 2007:

The share of total electricity generated by source:

  • Share of natural gas and other gases rose to a record high of 39.6%
  • Share of coal dropped to a record low of 19.3%, down from 51% in 2001
  • Share of nuclear: 18.0%
  • Share of all renewables (wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, biomass): 22.6%
    • Share of renewables without hydro: 16.5%
    • Share of wind: 10.1%
    • Share of hydropower: 6.1%
    • Share of solar, including rooftop: 4.8%
    • Share of geothermal and biomass: 1.6%
  • Share of petroleum liquids and coke: 0.5%.

The mix of how electricity was generated changed dramatically over the years.

The chart below shows the amount of electricity generated by source since 2001. For this chart, I combined wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, and biomass into the “renewables” category. In a moment, we’ll get to these categories separately:

The combined share of electricity generated by wind and solar, including small-scale solar, rose to 14.9%. The share has doubled in the six years since 2016.

Small-scale solar accounted for 1.4% of total power generated in the US in 2022 and for 29% of total solar. In gigawatt hours, generation has increased by 430% since 2014, the first year that the EIA started tracking it, going from 11,000 gigawatt hours in 2014 to 58,500 gigawatt hours in 2022.

Biomass includes several small categories: wood and wood-derived fuels (36,600 gigawatt hours), landfill gas (9,000 gigawatt hours), other waste biomass (2,200 gigawatt hours).

Most geothermal plants are in California, built in the 1970s (17,000 gigawatt hours).

The decline of coal: Technological innovation, fracking, wind. 

The decline of coal – from a share of 51% in 2001 to 19% in 2022 – was driven by several forces:

  1. Technological innovation: The combined-cycle natural-gas power plant became commercially available in the 1990s. In this type of plant, natural gas drives a gas turbine (similar to a jet engine) that drives a generator. In addition, the exhaust heat is used to create high-pressure steam that powers a steam turbine that also drives a generator. They have a thermal efficiency of around 65%. In other words, about 35% gets lost as waste heat, compared to a coal plant where over 60% is lost as waste heat. The natural gas combined-cycle power plant is hard to beat on a cost basis.
  2. Cheap natural gas from fracking: the boom in fracking for natural gas in the US caused the price of natural gas to plunge by 2009. The price of US natural gas is extremely volatile. For example, after the brief spike early last year, the price plunged late last year and returned to being dirt cheap.
  3. Wind power plants are now more cost efficient than coal plants – both have installation costs, but the wind is free, and coal is not, over the life of the plant.

Coal power plants cannot compete with a combined-cycle natural gas plant and with wind power, and no new coal-fired power plants have been built over the past decade.

Planned power-plant retirements & additions in 2023.

Retirements: 14.5 GW in total. The oldest and least efficient coal-fired plants – most of them built in the 1970s and 1980s – are being retired on an ongoing basis. In 2022, coal power plants with a capacity of 11.5 gigawatts were retired; in 2023, coal power plants with a capacity of 8.9 GW are scheduled to be retired, according to the EIA.

In addition, older natural gas plants with 6.2 GW of generating capacity will be retired in 2023; for a total retirement (coal and natural gas combined) of 14.5 GW.

Additions: 56.1 GW in total of new utility-scale electric-generating capacity is scheduled to be added to the power grid in 2023, the most since 2002, according to the EIA, for a net gain in capacity of 41.6 GW, the largest gains since 2003.

Of the 56.1 GW in capacity additions in 2023:

  • Solar: 29 GW
  • Natural gas: 7.8 GW
  • Wind: 7.5 GW
  • Nuclear: 2.2 GM (the two reactors at Vogtle plant in Georgia).
  • Battery storage: 9.5 GW, more than doubling the existing capacity of 8.8 GW! About three-quarters of the additions will be in Texas and California.

Battery storage isn’t a power generator per se, of course. But given its function of selling electricity when demand and prices are high (after buying when they’re low), it’s for now classified as power generation capacity. Maybe when it grows up, it will have its own category.

Battery storage has turned into a hot arbitrage opportunity, where storage facilities can buy electricity on the wholesale market when it’s cheap during times of the day with excess capacity, and sell it during the hours of peak pricing. Batteries help balance out loads and and work well in conjunction with wind and solar installations. They’re now turning into a big business opportunity.

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  226 comments for “U.S. Electricity Generation by Source in 2022: Natural Gas, Coal, Nuclear, Wind, Hydro, Solar, Geothermal, Biomass, Petroleum

  1. alx west says:

    why do they call wind or hydro renewable?

    what if there is no wind? what if hydro station is broken?

    how long does it take to build new hydro station (avg size ) 5 10 15 years?

    only renewable I would call is ‘solar’!! you just need sun each day to get warm !

    and yet you can’t make food, or run car on solar.


    same for nuclear. most complex engineering build process .

    • cc says:

      What planet are you on?

      “yet you can’t make food, or run car on solar”

      Who says you can’t?

    • Frederick says:

      I’m making food right now from solar in my vegetable garden

    • middleage says:

      You are just funny.

    • BigBird says:

      “yet you can’t make food on solar”

      I’m not a biologist, but I thought that’s how photosynthesis worked.

    • RepubAnon says:

      What if a private equity firm buys a gas-fueled power plant, and shuts it down for “maintenance” during a time of year with peak demand to, as the Enron folks boasted to each other: “rip the eyes out of the muppets?”

      • NBay says:

        I heard that tape. They shut it down to “stick it to those Californians”. Don’t know if it was Enron, but likely.

        More Reagan (maybe Clinton) De-Reg and let Corp and $$$$s Rule all crapp…..eg, “shrink government down to where you can drown it in a bathtub, and we’ll finally be rid of this democracy BS.”

        Also, that alx kid is like me in Jr Hi, writing F whoever/whatever on the bathroom wall to see who will get upset. Don’t feed the trolls.

        • NBay says:

          Actually, I don’t recall ever writing on the wall….but setting off home made bombs had the same purpose.

        • NBay says:

          Oh, and very good and very pleasing article. Things are better than I thought. I just hope we don’t run out of time.

    • David Hall says:

      Many of the good hydroelectric dam sites have been already been developed in places like Canada, Russia, the Colorado River, TVA etc.

      • MarMar says:

        Yeah, the big sites. There’s some development of smaller-scale hydro in rivers and streams that doesn’t require damming and allows fish to travel freely.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      alx west,

      You’ve been obviated by reality, LOL.

      The above article isn’t a wish list. It lists the types of power plants that actually produced and sold the electricity that people actually used in 2022 and before.

      Your solar stuff is just hilarious. Did you have a little too much liquidity? I mean sure, can happen to the best of us, in the middle of the night.

      • Natron says:

        No such things as batteries either, in that world…
        ” Liquidity” :D

      • Cem says:

        He went back for thirds in his Wolfstreet branded mug. It happens.

      • Vyacheslav says:

        You state total share of renewables 22.6% then say without hydro is 16.2% ; under hydro you have 10% If you add 16.2 and 10 you get 26%. I don’t understand the breakdown. If I add you component parts for renewables they add to like 50%, but the total is 22.6%? What total are you referring to?

        To Alex point: (1) You can grow food on solar under UV light year round. I think this is what Alex means.

        Yes business opportunity but you aren’t the electrical engineer. For that I refer you to Mark P. Mills of Manhattan Institute. Im afraid you aren’t aware of a thing called base load? That load runs 24/7 and solar cannot provide that balance. Load balancing provided by wind and solar in an energy catastrophe is okay, maybe. You heard in Australia how they connected solar to transmission power and then realized they needed diesel backup generators? Thats solar load balancing for you.

        Again, business opportunity does not mean great outcome for the rest long term. Also, have you seen how they dispose of wind towers and turbines. Check that out.

        For details on wind and solar look up Mark P. Mills.


    • phillip jeffreys says:

      Yes..a list of power sources. The list, however, does not capture net energy consumption (i.e., account for relative energy densities as well as energy consumed (e.g., efficiencies) in production/transport, etc., through use (i.e., E2E). It also does not account for the relative scarcity of materials consumed in producing these various technologies, does not account for external diseconomies (e.g., all the offshore wind driven tech/props dumping **** into the water; all the tradeoffs involved in solar panel production); doesn’t account for the value of O&G co-products.

      Putting aside the whole matter whether any of this has one iota of impact on climate change, IMO, while it’s valid to invest in all of these technologies at the margin, the whole investment process has been suborned by will-o-the-wisp government regulation/religion, sanctions, “managed” science, global geopolitics, etc., etc. Much like all the “bail-in” scare videos popping up in mailboxes and comment blocks over the last several months, it does appear that decision-making is considerably complicated by all the information control happening in the background.

      Not a probe at Wolf – he is capturing source data.

      • elbowwilham says:

        Yes, it will be interesting to see how these renewables do in high interest rate and low tax subsidy environment.

      • MarMar says:

        Please – “all the offshore wind driven tech/props dumping **** into the water” – the hazard to our oceans is from offshore oil drilling rigs.

        “Putting aside the whole matter whether any of this has one iota of impact on climate change” – that’s hardly something to put aside.

        Especially given the learning curve with solar, wind, and batteries, the best outcomes (economically, to reduce climate disruption, and eliminate air pollution) come from funding massive deployment as soon as possible.

      • NBay says:


        Very impressive, intellectual and informed sounding but condensed word soup you prepared there.

        I don’t really understand much of it, as it seems to me you need to thin it out.

        So does that mean I have to go to bed early again?

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          We all have our limitations!

          There are two separate themes in the post. The first, and more important one, identifies the obvious: there is source data and there is a full economic analysis (static and dynamic). The full economic analysis was not Wolf’s objective in this article.

          Just as with carbon based energy, there are pros and cons for renewables. It’s clear as all day that there are huge biases and emotional commitments across the board when it comes to energy policy. Pros/cons should all be examined – to include co-products and derivative products (e.g., fertilizers). There are studies that quantify these trade-offs. Up to the reader to decide competency/believability of the analysis. As an example in a different field (artificial intelligence(AI)), that debate has been underway for a while. Were one to read mags like Wired or MIT Technology Review there has been a persistent meme about bias. Now, bias has been defined in these intellectual exchanges as a cultural artifact (see the whole Gebru drama at Google for an example). I had to laugh – the intellectual hot-n-tots gave short shrift to the mathematical biases inherent to the statistical processes that underlay much AI – totally different semantic for bias. This example presents my perspective on renewables nicely: the information and analysis has been corrupted by political objectives that make it nearly impossible to perform a cogent analysis.

          It strikes me as odd, to say the least, that the renewable energy religion requires vast government commitment/intervention that in real-speak can be phrased as “we will outlaw any carbon based energy uses by 20xx”. Renewables have all kinds of external diseconomies that the flock refuse to acknowledge (while justifiably complaining about same for O&G) – so long as the various technologies aren’t built near their neighborhoods. But I digress.

          On the flip side, I have been making a ton of money betting that the macro (i.e., global) picture will mature differently, certainly over the next 10-15 years; a so-called asymmetric strategy. That fits my expected longevity profile perfectly! So you have that positive to work with as well.

          From where I sit, expanding even further away from energy sources, much of the Climate Change/No Carbon:Zero Net Carbon/Renewables “spirit” issues from the supremely more worrisome bifurcation of the global geopolitical/financial structure that has existed since WWII. We’re being slow-stepped into a global war – it’s rather easy to see the stark differences in how positions are staked out in respect to no-carbon, rare Earth metals, even food – as this conflict intensifies. And yet, the geniuses in charge, did not have a viable energy transition in place before. I have no problem with energy change – done smartly.

          I recommend changing your diet.

        • NBay says:

          Another highly condensed word soup!!…and like the other, damned near solid! Would love to see the can it came in so I knew how much water to add.

          And all I really wanted to hear about was the
          “bail in scare videos that are everywhere”, anyway.

          Oh well. I’m not a genius and that’s probably why I am an economic loser, too, yes?

          PS I don’t believe in AI..AT ALL……JK flip flops are not neurons and glial cells plus biasing signal molecules…It’s not even close…they don’t do many levels of analog and digital at the same time. Did take MUCH longer to build, though, so not cost efficient.

        • NBay says:

          Oh, and thanks for advice, but I can’t change my diet. It’s a ten year old experiment; no-fat milk, high fiber bread, and Skippy once a day for the last ten + years….plus a multi-vitamin and 1000mg C chewed with food.

          So far, so good! Doc says excellent health (other than completely trashed lower back) and age 75, almost 76.

          Testing my epigenetic guess….basically medieval peasant diet sans lentils.

    • Implicit says:

      Wood from tres is renewable. Plant more trees that breathes in unison with humans exchanging gifts, O2 and co2.

      • Flea says:

        Better Quit cutting down AMZAZON rain forest,it’s the lungs of the earth . The Mayan civilization was destroyed,when they cut all the trees down = no fresh water ,drought and famine . We humans never learn ,simplest things

        • just-a-boy says:

          True – It’s silly to use energy lean trees to burn & make electricity using the same devices that would normally be burning coal, a very energy dense fuel. That makes bio-mass less efficient than a coal plant. + They are burning trees like crazy just so as not to burn coal. Go To Youtube and see the movie “planet of the humans”


        • Wolf Richter says:

          A lot of biomass power generation is from waste products, including from timber companies, the lumber industry, agriculture, sewer systems, landfill gas, dairy farms, etc.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      BS aw::: ALL food comes from solar far damn shore, and if you don’t get that into your thinking, you are just a bot/whatever.
      This report from Wolf is a really really GREAT START IMHO as one who invested, sometimes heavily, in the various and sundry companies doing the engineering to increase the efficiency of solar to electricity generation in the 1980s.
      Gonna ask politely for Wolf to turn his great reporting to 3/4 major trends underway and needed/helping to solve the energy challenges of the next several decades:
      1. Delta of solar to electricity efficiencies from start to now.
      2. Developments of totally solar powered vehicles.
      3. Delta of increases of batteries, depth and longevity.
      4. Developments of ”remodels” of formerly ICE vehicles to either hybrid or full EVs… (definitely happening already, and IMHO will be one of the most profitable sectors re vehicles next couple decades.
      After that, for you stuck in the mud types, the ”GRAVITY MIRROR” engineering following the theoretical physics will take over all energy needs and completely eliminate all need for any fuels or batteries — though I will be first to admit WE, in this case the theoretical physics community WE are still at least a bit behind where WE should be…

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        I own some shares in Graviticity. It seems doable.

        • NBay says:

          If he can invest $$$s in that, then I can say there are bacteria that live just fine on metals or the heat from deep dark ocean volcanic vents.

          Life may have even begun with these critters ancestors.

          But I still am for anything but damned fossil fuel…..so try it all.

    • gametv says:

      instead of giving a subsidy on electric cars they should have just dismantled all the old coal power plants and replaced them with renewables or natural gas. that would have had a much more immediate impact.

      i think the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions might be to simply go after coal as an energy generation source.

      i read an analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of ICE cars versus BEV and the point was clear that the impact depends upon the energy generation. in France, it has a huge impact (100% nuclear) in an area with coal generation, not so much.

      unfortunately, some policies that are called green policies are really just industry subsidies in disguise.

      • MarMar says:

        Those EVs get cleaner and cleaner every year as the grid gets cleaner.

        Another way to look at it is that only 1 coal plant in the US (out of about 200) is economically viable on its own merits. Basically on the coal on the grid is there because of some subsidy or stubborn utility.

    • max says:

      This is more important:

      U.S. primary energy consumption by energy source, 2021
      “renewable” energy = 12%
      rest is petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear.

      For example, in 2021, petroleum provided approximately 90% of the transportation sector’s energy consumption, but only 1% of the electric power sector’s primary energy use.


      • NBay says:


        We should have listened to Carter and quit consuming so damned much needless shit in the first place…….right?

    • William Ripskull says:

      He has a point on hydro and wind. Droughts are fairly common, typically longer-term, and can definitely impact the flow of rivers, and therefore the generating capacity of hydro. Look no further than Hoover Dam. Wind sources can also be fickle, based on weather. And don’t forget, battery production is one of the most filthy, destructive, polluting, CO2 producing industries out there, and the batteries have a pretty set, relatively short life and are not very recyclable, which doesn’t seem very “green” or “renewable”.

  2. Natron says:

    Yeah we should just sit around and do nothing and watch the world burn eh? Sheesh

  3. 2banana says:

    Compete? Hardly.

    “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
    — An eight year president of the United States

    “Coal power plants cannot compete with a combined-cycle natural gas plant and with wind power, and no new coal-fired power plants have been built over the past decade.”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Are you on the payroll of the coal lobby? That statement was 2008. Which you forgot to say, in your manipulative manner. Everything has changed since then, including that the price of US natural gas has collapsed starting in 2009 due to fracking, and including that wind turbines have gotten a lot more cost efficient.

      Your type of BS is getting old.

      You didn’t read the part about “technological innovation” and “fracking,” did you? That was the secret sauce that killed coal. Then came wind to finish it off.

      Coal is the most inefficient way to generate electricity. You’re burning coal to heat water to make high-pressure steam, and the steam drives a turbine. Most coal power plants that are around today have a thermal efficiency of 35% — the rest of the energy in coal gets lost as waste heat.

      So if you pay $x for a ton of coal, over 60% of your money is wasted. Think about that! And coal isn’t cheap. Nor is it free (like wind).

      Modern combined cycle NG plants have a thermal efficiency of about 65%! Only 35% gets lost as waste heat. And NG is cheap in the US. Those are the #1 and #2 factors that killed coal, as I said.

      Wind, which is free for the life of the plant, is #3. Texans, who have a lot of wind, figured that out. Texas is the biggest wind power producer in the country.

      Coal isn’t and cannot be cheap enough to make a coal power plant economically viable in the US, it can never compete with US natural gas, and it can no longer compete with wind. Get used to it.

      • phillip jeffreys says:

        That’s true. Yet, coal consumption outside the US (to be clear, not in the scope of your article), is increasing. I’m not here to get into a contest with a data savvy board owner who is smart/informed well beyond all of us. Just pointing our that the energy bidniz is so heavily manipulated that one cannot impute from the data that source changes are fundamentally grounded in some long-term equilibrium adjusting process, or, barring more detail, any normative pluses. This is my thought process and, again, external to what you are communicating in your post.

        And, yes, I try to reduce the probability of being flamed!

      • Vyacheslav says:


        So is solar and wind. Solar caps
        off at 34% efficiency called Shockley- Quisser limit.

        Wind caps of at 60% due to Betz limit and down stream turbulence. Wind cannot provide base load that part is handled by – nuclear, coal, hydro mostly, natural gas.

        Also, every 5-10 years wind turbines and towers need to be replaced and thrown away into Mammoth death yards. They simply get buried into the dirt, no recycling. We should go full nuclear which a lot of countries are contemplating adding anyway.

        Both wind and solar cannot supply power at night. Both are environmental hazards and both use diesel and other conventional means of production eg solar panels are made with massive solar equipment which runs from conventional utility power. More over the solar panel manufacturing equipment is manufactured, again , using conventional energy sources.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Jesus, what BS.

          I’ll just pick apart the first part. Wind and sun already exist, and it doesn’t matter how much the installations convert into electricity because the rest of the wind and sun aren’t wasted, and don’t become waste heat.

          I mean the braindead BS people post on energy article is just stunning. Garbage just keeps piling up here. Almost as bad as EV articles.

        • Seen it all before, Bob says:

          You kind of lost me at:

          “Both wind and solar cannot supply power at night.”

          Our wind blows at night.

          “eg solar panels are made with massive solar equipment which runs from conventional utility power.”

          Utility power also include wind and solar sources.

          “Also, every 5-10 years wind turbines and towers need to be replaced and thrown away into Mammoth death yards.”

          How often is less efficient Coal generation equipment also thrown into Mammoth death yards? Both have moving parts and coal is much dirtier with contamination that likely shortens equipment life.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          NO WAY vy:
          Long term, windmills and other such mechanical methods of transferring wind, solar, hydro, gravity (think tidal for now due to immaturity of engineering/physics) should be made ONLY from stainless steel,,,
          But only until the physics and following engineering mature to the point of literally permanent installations based on SS metallurgy engineering based on next gen physics.
          WE, in this case the entire human species WE,
          WILL get there…
          WE, in this case the entire human species but especially WE the PEONs, can only hope the oligarchy that owns most of the current world will understand this and put their immense wealth to work to fund the theoretical physics and the engineering following.
          Revolution(s),,, War(s), etc., etc., only postpone these evolutions.

        • gametv says:

          the benefits of converting away from oil and gas are not just environmental. there is a geopolitical aspect. Russia and Iran both fund their antagonism on energy and if the prices of oil/gas drop that would cut their ability to impact the world. if there were little demand for oil/gas, then middle east conflicts would be regional and we could ignore them.

        • Cookdoggie says:

          “Garbage just keeps piling up here. Almost as bad as EV articles.”

          Yeah, after reading the headline I expected to only see 1 comment. Kudos for letting in the hyenas.

        • max says:

          Germany’s installed capacity for electric generation increased from 121 gigawatts (GW) in 2000 to 218 GW in 2019, an 80% increase, while electricity generation increased only 5% in the same period.

          German electricity prices in 2020 were 31.47 euro cents per kW⋅h for residential customers (an increase of 126% since 2000),


          Vaclav Smil Germany’s Energiewende, 20 Years Later

          In 2000, 6.6 percent of Germany’s electricity came from renewable sources; in 2019, the share reached 41.1 percent. In 2000, Germany had an installed capacity of 121 gigawatts and it generated 577 terawatt-hours, which is 54 percent as much as it theoretically could have done (that is, 54 percent was its capacity factor). In 2019, the country produced just 5 percent more (607 TWh), but its installed capacity was 80 percent higher (218.1 GW) because it now had two generating systems.
          The new system, using intermittent power from wind and solar, accounted for 110 GW, nearly 50 percent of all installed capacity in 2019, but operated with a capacity factor of just 20 percent. (That included a mere 10 percent for solar, which is hardly surprising, given that large parts of the country are as cloudy as Seattle.) The old system stood alongside it, almost intact, retaining nearly 85 percent of net generating capacity in 2019. Germany needs to keep the old system in order to meet demand on cloudy and calm days and to produce nearly half of total demand. In consequence, the capacity factor of this sector is also low.
          It costs Germany a great deal to maintain such an excess of installed power. The average cost of electricity for German households has doubled since 2000. By 2019, households had to pay 34 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 22 cents per kilowatt-hour in France and 13 cents in the United States.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “German electricity prices in 2020 were 31.47 euro cents per kW⋅h for residential customers (an increase of 126% since 2000)”

          Have you looked at the cost increases of electricity in the US, LOL?

          The BLS’s CPI for electricity — we all know that CPI understates actual price increases — jumped by 111% between 2000 and now. And the US has dirt-cheap domestically produced natural gas, and Germany has to import its natural gas, and it’s expensive. So they’re doing pretty good.

          You see, Germany has a heck of a lot more wind and sun than it has natural gas and crude oil. It has to import all its natural gas and crude oil, but wind and solar are free and don’t have to be imported and don’t have to be dug up from underground and moved around the country. Not sure why this choice is so difficult to understand for some folks. Maybe because they don’t WANT to understand?

      • VintageVNvet says:

        While I am totally in favor of,” like” total generation of electricity from solar and other renewables and would mandate this immediatley if king, ( and to heel with all the peons, eh!)
        Coal could be made to be as cost efficient as any other fuel IN THE SHORT RUN as for all fuels,,,
        IF and only if each and every component of coal is captured, including especially the various and sundry precious metals.
        This may still be challenging, apparently, at many parts of the coal burning process,,, so NOT LIKELY soon…
        Just saying this to encourage more engineering to stop the clearly massive pollution continuing now from coal in many parts of our world.
        Capture ALL the components of coal and other ”fuels” and turn those components into SO many helpful things instead of wasting into our waters and air,,, eh

      • Valerie in Australia says:

        Right on, Wolf! Well said!

      • Mike R says:

        And yet Germany is returning to building coal fired power plants big time, as its power grid virtually collapsed ..

        [rest of the BS deleted by evil censor Wolf]

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Mike R,

          “And yet Germany is returning to building coal fired power plants big time,”

          Total BS. A freaking lie. Germany re-opened (re-started, re-activated) old coal powerplants in 2022 that had been shut down.

          “…as its power grid virtually collapsed…”

          Total BS. A freaking lie. The grid did just fine, and storage levels of natural gas during the winter were at or near record highs.

          I mean, the braindead lies people post on electricity articles is just astounding.

          I deleted the rest of your comment. Too much BS.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      The windfarms in central Indiana near Lafayette are interspersed amongst the CAFO pig farms. Seems like a win-win. Just keep your car windows closed and eyes on the road.

      • old school says:

        I read Buffet’s yearly letter. They have more wind capacity than anyone, but about 3 years ago he said its not competitive without the government credit. His company gets a $1 billion plus credit each year.

        I am ok with it, because its public policy voted by our representatives. I am not sure it is widely known though that a lot of the credits for green go to big corporations.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “…about 3 years ago he said its not competitive without the government credit.”

          1. learn how to spell Buffett’s name.

          2. Not competitive with what????????????????

          Wind kills nuclear. There is nothing more expensive than nuclear energy. In the US, no one can even attempt to build a nuke without government funding, government loans, and government loan guarantees.

          Wind kills coal — it did three years ago, and does so a lot more now.

          However, wind is not competitive in the US with cheap US natural gas. That’s what Buffett was talking about.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        I saw one fly the other day!🤣🐷😂

  4. Max Power says:

    Just a few clarifications/observations:

    The very latest Combined Cycle plants (generation H turbine technology) aren’t quite at 65% efficiency but are getting close to it. Most CCGT plants are older, with efficiencies in the 48%-58% range. Definitely still better than coal thermal plants.

    Not all generation sources are the same and it is important to consider a plant’s Capacity Factor, not just Nameplate Capacity. Solar power in the US has an average capacity factor of about 25%. So in practice, that 29GW of new solar power will only actually produce about a quarter of what its nameplate capacity states throughout the year. That new nuclear plant though should eventually reach more than 90% capacity factor (the two existing old reactor units at Vogtle have had more than 95% capacity factor in recent years).

    Batteries are a nice (but extremely expensive) technology for grid energy storage. The most common technology for grid energy storage is pumped-storage hydro. It far outweighs all other grid storage methods.

    Small typo in the article: For nuclear it should say 2.2GW (not 2.2GM).

    • cas127 says:

      Thanks for mentioning pumped storage.

      It is sorta like a very pedestrian SciFi gadget…using *gravity* to make electricity (as all dams do). If only we could turn the trick without expending external energy to push the water uphill first…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You cannot have pumped hydro unless you have hydro. The West has a lot of hydro, and therefore that’s where nearly all the pumped hydro is located. It also doesn’t provide the instant power that a battery provides.

      Pumped hydro produces a massive net loss of energy because it pumps water uphill, which takes a lot more energy than you’ll be able to generate when it comes back down through the turbine.

      There is also a net loss in battery operations, but it’s small.

      • Max Power says:

        Actually, most pumped storage facilities are not part of a typical reservoir or river run “classic” hydro but are pumped-storage-only facilities. Also, there’s a ton of pumped hydro in the eastern part of the US. In fact, the three largest pumped hydro facilities in the county are located in the East (in Virginia, Michigan and Tennessee).

        It only takes a few minutes for a pumped storage facility to start generating electricity.

        Pumped hydro storage comprises about 96% of global storage power capacity and 99% of global storage energy volume. All other methods are minuscule compared to it.

        • BENW says:

          I’m sure you’ve seen companies like Energy Vault that used cranes to lift concrete blocks to stock eneergy. Very cool stuff and a lot more environmentally friendly than batteries. It would be nice to see an energy loss /
          efficiency comparison.

        • Implicit says:

          It’s funny when hearing “stored electricity” when the electricity is just made to order during high capacity times at that time.
          It mechanically uses stored gravity.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Actually, California has the most pumped storage capacity, with 3.9 GW (17% of US total).

          Actually, most pumped storage systems require 15% to 30% more electricity to pump water uphill than what the water generates when it flows back downhill.

          I’m all for pumped storage, LOL, but you’re arguing.

    • Implicit says:

      Good info.. I was wondering about the GM thinking that the M should be cubed for volume and converted to watts Typo to W makes more sense.

  5. 2banana says:

    It’s an old play. 100+ years.

    Many dams have holding pools and do the same at night, pumping water back up hill when energy demand drops. Basically a “green” water battery. Search Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH), or pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES).

    “Battery storage has turned into a hot arbitrage opportunity, where storage facilities can buy electricity on the wholesale market when it’s cheap during times of the day with excess capacity, :

    • cas127 says:

      Those must be some big pools, considering how big the primary dams are.

      Basically, you can pump anything “uphill” and then rely on gravity for later timed release of electricity generation.

      I’ve often wondered if anybody every looked into drilling deep vertical mine shafts (granted a huge initial outlay of energy) and then rely upon temperature differentials by depth (deeper = hotter) to push a “piston”/capsule up, while cooling and gravity would later cause it to fall…creating a cycle that in theory could generate electricity. My guess is that the initial energy outlay – for construction – is too costly or that temp differentials by depth too small for such an “engine” to work.

      Still, the trick seems to be in observing natural/default phenomenon/cycles occurring under ambient conditions and then figuring out a way to siphon off some of the implicit energy very, very efficiently.

      • Implicit says:

        Geothermal energy from places that consistently give off heat like yellowstone
        “Magma heats nearby rocks and underground aquifers. Hot water can be released through geysers, hot springs, steam vents, underwater hydrothermal vents, and mud pots. These are all sources of geothermal energy. Their heat can be captured and used directly for heat, or their steam can be used to generate electricity.May 19, 2022”
        Nat. Geographic

      • Max Power says:

        Oh, yeah, these pumped-storage pools can get big, alright…

        The Bath County Pumped Storage Station in Virginia, the largest in the US, can generate a maximum of 3GW (much larger than most power plants) and has a storage capacity of 24,000 MWh.

    • Vyctor says:

      Not saying keen people cannot make money, but you are trading off for a toxic landfill future and expensive energy down the road after subsidies wear off to say the least.

      We are in this mess precisely because hungry money 💰 hands wanted to make it big so they pushed coal and nuclear, but didn’t include all the safety measures and other factors for a better technology thats less polluting and more efficient . They have built a crazy world which we inherited, those mistakes have now caught up. Most old farts don’t care; they made it and are now retired. Now, we are in a second scramble and making the same logical errors of safety of efficacy or toxicity. I call it parched investor seeing an oasis mirage in the desert. This investor being dry throws himself at any water even if the technology will yield bitter fruit later. They rationalize it away. They do not want the pain, only gain at any cost.

      • NBay says:


        That’s the problem with our “total Capitalism” (for lack of a better description).


        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          NBay – ‘…it’s Chinatown…’.

          may we all find a better day.

  6. Poor like you says:

    I always advocate for a distributed nation-wide residential solar power supplement system. Maybe find a way to stick a 2×2 foot panel on all the telephone poles, or something.

    • Vyctor says:

      Or something:) ha ha

    • cas127 says:

      Even today, the output from smallish panel arrays are just not going to yield very much energy.

      Hell, a toaster might require 1000 watts for a short period of time…my guess is that those 2×2 panels output a small fraction of that.

      (I know they can store to a battery to supply more power, over longer periods…but a single house is also running a helluva more than a toaster too).

      I think median HH electricity consumption is something like 12,000 kilowatt hrs per yr (which seems low to me when you think about HVAC, refrigeration, etc).

      So 1000 kilowatt hrs per month or 33 per day (see what I mean about HVAC, which might draw 3.5 – 5 kw per hr…by itself, when on).

      So, those 2 by 2 panels just aint going to accomplish much (on demand)…and unless you stack those 2001-monolith batteries all over the US too, i’m just not sure what would be accomplished.

    • Uncle B says:

      I agree with you Poor. Would be nice to see the US prioritize, through incentives and subsidies, the installation of solar panels on every available rooftop and cover/canopy that exists today. Then we can spin up nuclear and non-renewable power generation at night as necessary until battery and storage capacities get up to speed.

    • Bathelix says:

      That is a really good idea although like my grandfather used to say when he visited from Sweden … “they buried all the power lines everywhere in the 70’s, whats taking you so long”.

      I think it’s all the money they get maintaining them….same with why we can’t use a better cement that doesn’t crack every winter, they have cement that stays new looking for a decade or more but we use cheap junk everywhere. We can never do anything the right way here if it costs just a little more up front … and it always does like anything.

      But yeah, with a big push and a few innovations here and there we could update the grid and have plenty of solar & renewables to run just about everything on now… the powers that be just don’t want it to be possible so they are convincing the Fox propaganda viewers otherwise.

      • NBay says:

        Very good point….and planned obsolescence for someone’s short term gain hurts EVERYONE eventually.

    • Valerie in Australia says:

      Don’t listen to the others. Your thinking is in the right direction. Too bad people are trying to tear down your idea rather than building on it.

      • NBay says:

        Agree. This article really brought out the fossil fuel brainwashed bunch…what did someone else say,”the hyenas”?

  7. Andrew Wallace says:

    I’m willing to bet that the 2.2GW of new nuclear capacity will produce more electricity than the 29 GW of solar and 7.5 GW of wind capacity combined and will have a longer service life. It would be good if you could provide some data on the amount of energy produced vs. the installed capacity by type.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “It would be good if you could provide some data on the amount of energy produced vs. the installed capacity by type.”

      RTGDFA (Read The G*d D**n F***ing Article. I’m so tired of this shit.

      This article is about actual electricity generated and sold by power plants, including wind power installations. The charts in the article showed the actual amount of electricity generated and sold, including solar, including rooftop solar.

      What’s wrong with you people? 2nd grade dropout and never learned how to read?

      • Bathelix says:

        No Wolf, his head is just held underwater by Fox propaganda telling them that clean energy is evil and doesn’t work even though it’s the future and better in every way imaginable.

        When it brings back US manufacturing and they love their pickup trucks that do 60mph as fast as a Porsche Turbo they will believe that they were talking about something else all this time and Trump gave it all to us even though him and like him fought it to the end.

        People like him are so disillusioned that facts don’t make sense to them anymore.

      • Barry says:

        This topic is as bad as EVs when it comes to comments.

    • MarMar says:

      You would lose a lot of money on that bet.

  8. Lune says:

    So coal will continue to decline which isn’t news. What is news though is that nat gas seems poised to stagnate: new capacity is basically just replacing older, less efficient capacity. Essentially *all* net new power addition next year will be renewables, plus a one-off nuclear plant in Georgia that’s been struggling to get off the ground for decades and will likely lead to big price hikes for users when they finally do go online.

    That’s quite an incredible transition, and quite rapid as well. 5 years ago people who predicted that renewables would become cheaper than nat gas were considered loony. And yet here we are…

    This same transition I’m sure is happening in the rest of the world too. I wonder what happens to the frackers when nat gas demand stagnates and enters terminal decline just like coal…

    • Implicit says:

      The capacity factor mentioned in an earlier post by MP is an important data point for any calculations

      • Lune says:

        Sure, but regardless of the size, it’s still fair to say that essentially *all* new capacity will be non-carbon-based, and that the nuclear component is a one-off that may or may not get off the ground by next year, and even if it does, I’m not aware of any other nuclear power plants being built in this country, so no further nuclear power for at least decades.

    • phillip jeffreys says:

      Huh? I get the polemic, but you have not adduced any supporting data/detail. By design? No price argument carries any weight – not in the sense intended.The energy industry, particularly O&G CAPEX, but coal as well (in the US) has been heavily impacted by gov’t policy and regulation. And that discussion doesn’t even cover existing/large reserves that the US still holds. Conversely, it doesn’t address, in the case of natgas, that the supply increases/cost drops from fracking are now less likely due to the fact that the cheap fracking fields have largely been plumbed.

      Rapid transition? We’ve been exposed to all these fairy tales since at least the 1970s whether in the guise of post-embargo resource availabilities or greenhouse driven radical/impending climate disaster. Thank goodness water shortages haven’t been part of the discussion.

      Change will happen. It eventually always does.

      I sleep better at night in the knowledge that because government is stewarding the process, it will be rational, efficient and Panglossian! That it’s about what is best for all classes and not redistribution of wealth to the top 1 percent. That Greta will finally find personal peace and stability in a cruel, cruel world. /s

  9. David Hall says:

    Florida Power and Light has been building large scale solar arrays connected to shipping container size batteries.

  10. Mike R. says:

    The “wonder” of natural gas and NGL’s from fracking will run out sooner than any of us have been led to believe.

    Coal will have to come back for base loading. Ultimately, we’re going to have to live with a whole lot less energy (of any form).

    Conservation of energy is where the US should be putting it’s resources, but that would mean our bullshit economy would have to decrease signficantly.

    • Mark says:

      Alice Friedemann has done extensive writing on this subject< " When the
      Trucks Stop Running and Life After Fossil Fuels ". I totally agree with you.
      I wonder if any of the commenters here this morning have given what you
      said any thought. All these technologies that were mentioned require
      massive inputs of fossil fuels for their creation and eventual disposal not
      to mention replacement. Many people poo poo Alice but she has done
      her homework and backs everything up with links to unending research

      • Mike R. says:

        Nobody much wants to go there. Who wants to give up comfort and convenience (even just a little)? And our “leaders” have bought into the US strategic position (formed by our military) which is that the US will be the last man standing both with regards to climate change (mitigating effects with technology and $$) and energy use. Everyone else in the world will have to “suck wind”. This is all based on maintaining military supremacy and of course dollar hegemony throughout the world. Problem is, the rest of world is pretty much getting fed up with both of these “attitudes”. Thus the Ukraine war is very much an existential fight on these two fronts.

        • Implicit says:

          I wonder how this impacts geopolitics.
          “Who has more natural gas US or Russia?
          Natural Gas by Country 2023
          Country 2020 Production (Billion m³) % Global Reserves

          United States 914.60 6.7%
          Russia 638.50 19.9%
          Iran 250.80 17.1%
          China 194 4.5% “

        • Implicit says:

          …The % percentage column is global reserves

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          Close….but not quite.

          I agree with your instincts vis the MIC and dollar hegemony. But those are just weigh stations toward an endpoint/goal. The goal has been wealth redistribution and power.

          Climate has always changed. Quite radically without any help from mankind.

          My last post in this thread. Too many, including myself, straying from the subject matter.

    • Saylor says:

      …”Conservation of energy is where the US should be putting it’s resources,”…

      I think we can do more than one thing at a time.

      I believe that our power generation with become sort of a boutique structure based upon regional resources with a unified supply chain

    • EcuadorExpat says:

      The fracking industry was about to go bankrupt before the Ukrainian “incident,”. Hmmmm

      • Wolf Richter says:

        An industry cannot go bankrupt. But individual NG drillers did go bankrupt over the years, and I reported on it at the time, and more will go bankrupt. Most of them were small companies. A few were big, such as Chesapeake, which restructured its debts, emerged from bankruptcy, and continues to drill for oil and gas.

        That’s what you get when there is a natural gas glut — overproduction and no exit. Now there is an exit: LNG exports. The first LNG export terminal in the lower 48 came on line in 2016, which was a conversion of an import terminal. Building brand new LNG export terminal takes years. And they’ve built a bunch by now.

  11. patrick says:

    fact – worldwide 2022 set a record coal burning- poorer countries need energy a lot of it ! india-china- indonesia etc are all using vast quantities of coal and building coal burning power plants by the hundreds – so feel good about the us and europe’s energy transition but do not expect global co2 or pollution to decrease-coal is on a roll everyplace but here and europe

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The US has cheap natural gas, LOL. And this article was entirely about the US, as shown in the title.

      This was about electricity generation in the US, if you haven’t figured it out, and not about CO2, global warming or whatever. Trying to hijack the comments here?

      • Kyle k says:

        An article about the US increasing renewable generation is an article about climate change, at least via subtext. Otherwise as a reader why would I care? But Patrick is too pessimistic; developing countries are on their way to an energy transition as well, the question is only how fast they get there

      • EcuadorExpat says:

        Not any more. Not since they maxed gas exporting capacity to Europe. At twice the price Europeans were paying.

        Check out energy price increases on the east coast.

        And like I posted above, energy generation does not mean much without costing numbers.

        Just like oil, when it takes more than a gallon of fuel to transport a gallon of fuel to a location, then it becomes like Afghanistan, where it was costing $400 per gallon to get fuel for military vehicles.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          What are you talking about??? US natural gas price at the Henry Hub (NYMEX trading) collapsed to $2.80 per million Btu now, down from $9 mid-2022.

          Sure in the winter, NG gets are little pricier at the city gates on the East Coast than it does at the Henry Hub.

          Boston isn’t well connected to the US producing regions via pipelines, so it always has higher natural gas prices, and often burns petroleum or it imports LNG when it gets very cold.

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    Would it be possible to get:

    1) Unsubsidized cost per kWh of generation for each source

    2) Life cycle – from raw materials, production, useful life, retirement costs -Co2 contribution for each source


    • Wolf Richter says:

      Nuclear is the single most expense source of electricity. In the US, no one can even build a new plant without government funding, loans, and loan guarantees.

      Then the costs of decommissioning old plants are huge and still not fully known, drag out for decades, and we still don’t know what to do with the old reactors, the spent fuel, and other nuclear waste and contaminated materials. A nuclear power plant creates problems for the next 100,000 years. No one has factored this cost into anything.

      Then there are the reactor meltdowns, of which we’ve had way too many.

      Fukushima is still contaminating the Pacific with a constant flow of radioactive water, and will do so for decades. TEPCO is starting to release the stored radioactive water. These are huge costs, in part borne by people who had nothing to do with it and who’ve never even been to Japan.

      The only still operating nuclear power plant in CA, which was scheduled for retirement, just got $3 billion in taxpayer money to keep it going for a while longer.

      The other nuke was shut down a few years ago and is being decommissioned due to cracks in the steam pipes that caused radioactive steam to leak. Replacing the cracked pipes would have been too expensive to do.

      I have been lied to my entire life by the nuclear power industry about every aspect of nuclear power. And yet, we’re still subsidizing and building nuclear power plants.

      And you want me to get excited about subsidies for wind and solar? You gotta be kidding.

      • michel says:

        Actually, most of these problems could in theory be resolved… at considerable cost. But they are not taking steps in that direction.

        In theory, you could stimulate economies of scale like with renewables… and you solved most of the economic problem of nuclear. In practice, the subsidies are just keeping them alive. The subsidies in renewables and nuclear are not equivalent. Subsidies in nuclear are like normal subsidies, subsidies in renewables are cutting down the real unsubsidized cost. They should have started with modular reactors 50 years ago… They didn’t do that, because no one was willing to pay the upfront costs. Combine that with the concern of nuclear weapons and the lack of trust between countries and economies of scale are not possible beyond one country in this sector…

        The real problem is with spills like chernobyll/Fukushima, that unavoidably will happen from time to time. What kind of technology will clean that up, without bankrupting your self or taking too long?

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          And constant lawsuits over the last 40 years purposed to reduce ROI to unacceptable levels.

        • NBay says:

          Not just expensive lawyers. I was in on stopping construction of the Bodega Head nuke plant (demonstrator), and I’m not very bright as you have noted.

          After that we had a huge flat area to lay out dirt flat tracks for all levels of dirt bike power.
          Everyone got to learn how to throw a bike into a power slide!

      • David Clark says:

        Nuclear fuel is extremely dense. It’s about 1 million times greater than that of other traditional energy sources and because of this, the amount of used nuclear fuel is not as big as you might think. All of the used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry over the last 60 years could fit on a football field at a depth of less than 10 yards! That waste can also be reprocessed and recycled, although the United States does not currently do this. However, some advanced reactor designs being developed could operate on used fuel.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Can, could, would… all my life, the nuclear industry said this kind stuff, and everything turned out to be a lie. I cannot believe that the nuclear trolls are still spouting off the same lies. Copy and paste, forevermore.

      • Valerie in Australia says:

        You really nailed it! I get the feeling that the nuclear lobby is just waiting to pounce on the idea of renewables and feel like nuclear is fair game to join the club – but of course, the cost of solar and wind doesn’t compare to the risk and cost of nuclear – as you said, look at Fukushima – something nuclear proponents seem to conveniently ignore.

        • Expat says:

          I apologize for continuing to “hijack” this commentary but the subject matter is factual and not particularly suited to discussion. It does, however, invite discussions like these.

          Nuclear power has two major advantages: base load stability and low environmental impact.

          Okay, the impact depends on your view of nuclear safety. Nuclear power accidents have killed a few hundred people (directly) and perhaps a few thousand indirectly (stress and injury from evacuations or panic). Fossil fuels kill hundreds of thousands each year in Europe alone. What bothers us about nuclear is the potential End of Life Scenario and the “forever” nature of pollution and waste storage.

          The latter points are not minor and pointing to the past does not mean that nukes will be safe forever, especially if we multiply capacity enough to replace fossil fuels. Next gen nukes are safer (molten salt, maybe fusion in thirty to fifty years) but are not available yet.

          Hydro is done…there are not enough new places to build efficient, effective dams. In fact, some dams are dying (Colorado River anyone?). Solar and wind are cheap but diffuse and poorly adapted to long-range transmission. They also require massive quantities of fossil fuels to build and install. You cannot economically (physics) build new solar capacity by using solar energy.

          Fossil fuels need to go…and quickly. We need to drop economic activity massively and quickly to avoid the worst of what is happening to our ecosystem. Nuclear power might kill us all or poison parts of the globe, but the present energy configuration will definitely kill billions, if not all of us.

        • NBay says:

          Re; Transmission

          The Chinese have several 1-2…..3? thousand mile long DC super power “highways” and so to the Europeans.
          High power solid state stuff is just getting bigger!
          We have a country that covers a LOT of longitude, so several of these would really spread the power around…it’s always windy/ sunny/tidal action somewhere.

    • Mike McGlade says:

      For costs of producing electricity from all key sources, Google . It has both subsidized and unsubsidized costs.

      There are also data on storage costs.

  13. Escierto says:

    There is something about renewable energy that brings out the haters and the deniers. Ultimately every energy source we have came from the sun – whether it was from a long sequence of events that produced fossil fuels or a short sequence of events that produces solar energy. Get over it!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “There is something about renewable energy that brings out the haters and the deniers.”

      Yes, astonishing.

      These people have been obviated by reality years ago and don’t even know it, LOL.

      • michel says:

        People are just intransigent. It’s a principle in psychology.

        They are neither lying or been in denial or been haters. They firmly believe it.

    • Max Power says:

      Almost true except for nuclear and geothermal which do not originate in the sun.

      That said, you’re right in that a lot of people don’t realize that nearly every other source of energy on earth originate in the sun, this includes (besides solar) oil, coal, gas, wind and hydroelectricity.

      • Expat says:

        All elements past lithium are made in stars, so uranium is “solar” energy. yeah, that is being pedantic but so what? I get your point.

        The only energies which you might consider non-solar are geothermal energy (which is gravitational) and fusion. We might one day extract energy from the quantum vacuum but that seems a long way off for now.

    • phillip jeffreys says:

      That’s a meaningless cliche. Physically, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy with energy loss (usually heat) that depends upon the process. Haters and deniers are emotional concepts that have no place in the discussion.

      I personally don’t give a farthing about what source is used. I do care about the cost; I do care about external diseconomies for all sources (across the board); I do care about whether the cost is driven up by governments (and corporations) based on ESG and other social initiatives in a selective fashion – to include wars.

      Energy densities are what they are.

      Wolf hit the nail on the head when he posted there are no free lunches.

    • knology says:

      We need fusion energy
      as produced by the sun.

  14. Peachy says:

    Biggest issue for solar generation in the future is recycling. Anyone know what the plan is for all these panels when they have to be replaced? Put them in the landfill? With current conditions governments will have to subsidize massively if they want to avoid that.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      So what are you going to do with the decommissioned and heavily contaminated nuclear power plants? Put that stuff in a landfill? LOL. It’s a huge expense to take down a nuclear power plant, and rate payers and tax payers are footing the bill. We still don’t have a solution for nuclear waste, including the entire reactor when it’s decommissioned.

      There are NO FREE LUNCHES with energy. You just get to choose your evil. Which is the least evil? That’s the choice.

      • phillip jeffreys says:


      • Lone Coyote says:

        I’ll preface this by saying that I work with spent nuclear fuel so I am a bit biased, but sticking it in the ground in a safe place like Yucca Mountain is a perfectly safe and viable option. Even if that place never opens, dry storage (in stainless steel canisters inside reinforced concrete) is also highly safe (and a hell of a lot better than coal and gas plants that dump their waste right into the atmosphere. Wish the greenpeace types had realized that in the 70s and 80s). Yes, it’s complex and not a free lunch, but saying that there’s no solution for nuclear waste is flat wrong. The issues with it are virtually entire political (not that I can begrudge people not wanting to have the stuff in their backyard, but to use your words it’s the least evil option).

        (Yes, there is stuff that has a long half life, but by definition the stuff that has a long half life puts out less radioactivity.)

        • Saylor says:

          I can’t see Yuca Mountain as being a ‘solution’. Just a postponement of a problem to be dealt with long after our epoch is ended.

          Two of the big problems I had with nuke energy in the 70s and 80s was….actual disposal and the chance of the waste being appropriated and used in dirty bombs.

        • MarkinSF says:

          “the chance of the waste being appropriated and used in dirty bombs.”
          You mean like depleted uranium being used in US munitions in places like Iraq & the Balkans”?

        • Flea says:

          Why not load it on musk rockets shoot them into outer space ,or towards the sun ,to be burned up . Just a thought

        • NBay says:

          And how does ALL this deadly crapp from all over hell GET to Yucca mountain SAFELY?

      • Valerie in Australia says:

        Right on! Agree 100%

      • Expat says:

        The natural stores of fissionable elements have been sitting in the earth for eons including some places (13 or so sites in Gabon) where they were undergoing reactions for billions of years. It is entirely feasible and within our present technological ability to store hot nuclear waste for millennia. There is a cost, of course, but this cost is far lower than the costs associated with continued fossil fuel use.

        Fossil fuels kill over one million people each year from pollution. Hardly a free lunch either. And we still need to throw away old power plants, scrap oil tankers, and toss a few centimeters of dirt over abandoned oil projects and pretend the problem no longer exists.

        You accuse many commenters of simplifying and ignoring facts. I invite you to research nuclear waste disposal and costs yourself. It seems to me that your bias is founded on the scary nature of nuclear waste. I agree that nuclear power can be scary, but we know that fossil fuels are just as deadly and renewables are not a solution.

    • Lune says:

      We can put them in the open pit mines that coal companies leave behind. Or maybe dissolve them with the polluted groundwater and aquifers that fracking leaves behind.

      It’s funny that your concerned all of a sudden with landfills for solar panels and not with the massive superfund sites that coal miners have left us with (and the frackers will leave us with in a few years).

      Sort of like fossil fuel users who make fun of tree huggers and couldn’t be arsed by the ecosystems devastated by oil spills but suddenly are concerned about “all those birds!” that get killed by windmills.

      • Uncle B says:

        Couldn’t have said it better myself Lune

      • phillip jeffreys says:

        Yea….funny how there can be different value systems in a democracy! Go figure.

        For myself, I don’t care as long as I can maintain my quality of life (as I define it) and the truly stupid stuff at scale that is foreseeable doesn’t happen.

        Color me selfish and not part of the collective. Don’t care! I’ve observed how much damage the collective has caused through the centuries.

        You know, I worked cybersecurity for a while. There’s a basic paradigm in that field that lends itself easily, too easily, to gov’t policy: sense, detect, respond, restore. Sense and detect easily become surveillance; Respond and restore equate to enforce. One does have to pay attention to the details – all the time.

      • NBay says:

        Well said Lune.

        So….PJ…..Why didn’t you simply say that before?

        You are just a greedy planetary pig, and F everyone else.

        Why all the fancy disguised defenses of your worldview above?

        PS: The nastiest “collective” in known world history is revealed and organized religion, IMHO.

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          That’s it!

          What we need is a New Economic Policy for renewables! State Capitalism is the cat’s meow! And it can solve population problems at the same time!

        • NBay says:

          Finally, some agreement!

          Yes, ZPG has to be addressed also…..but first things first, try to save the planet and reduce the number of energy/resource piggies we have.
          All we can do is try…….kids deserve a life as much as you did, even if not as lavish, yes?

      • Valerie in Australia says:

        Well said!

  15. Senecas's Cliff says:

    A good friend of mine works for a company that builds and installs these grid scale batteries. And you are correct Wolf about them being used for power price arbitrage. In fact he said that regardless of if they are going in along with a solar installation or stand alone the investors need the profits from power arbitrage to make them pencil out.
    Before this gig he worked as a maintenance engineer at Vestas America’s ( Danish wind turbine builder). He got out of that business because the problems with leading edge blade erosion were a bummer. He says the front edges of the blades get eroded from impacting small sand and dust particles kicked up by the wind that these machines rely on. There is no easy fix as replacing the blades is too expensive, so they are trying to engineer coatings and fillers to do the job. But these have to be applied by a guy hanging down on a rope from the nose cone of the turbine because they are too high for any kind of lift. Things never seemed to work out as planned and the owners of the installations were always mad because the erosion degraded the turbines performance. So he moved on to the happier battery business.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Don’t know about that particular company’s blades, but others put PFAS coatings on theirs.

    • old school says:

      My friend’s son is building her a tiny house on a free old RV frame. He is going to have around $5000 plus maybe 10 days labor in it. I did a calculation of the heat loss and its going to take about 5,000 btu to heat at 10 degrees. That’s about 10% of the typical house. I might pay him to build me one if I can figure out where to put it. Zoning is tough in NC for tiny homes.

      Most of my driving is on a 100 mpg scooter so my total energy use would be pretty small if I did the tiny home thing.

  16. Elliott L says:

    I just want to send a thank you to Wolf for posting this article and moderating the replies. I appreciate knowing which forms of electricity generation is rising and falling and why.
    I welcome future discussions about the role of batteries.

  17. Brooks says:

    Where is this massive 29 GW of solar being built? That’s a lot of acreage of panels. Nevada, Arizona?

      • Nate says:

        That’s a lot of renewables and natural gas.

        Renewable deniers give the liberals way too much credit. They let the welfare state practically vanish except for the olds, and oversaw a massive decline of the unions to basically niche segments.

        Yet, somehow, through their powers of persuasion and control of the “mainstream media” they overcame the lobbying efforts of the gas, oil, coal, and nuclear industries? Those guys? With their history? Give me a break.

        It’s just simple economics. Coal and eventually most of oil are gradually going the way of whale oil as tech and changed circumstances are making most of their use cases obsolete. Nuclear was always a niche product subsidized by tax payers. And when you factor in the externalities for these sources, it’s not even close.

        Except fusion, yo, that’s cool. I’m sure my grandkids will love it!

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          Arrant nonsense.

          Since your post persists (i.e., it’s political and has nothing to do with the subject matter) I will respond.

          The welfare state/income redistribution state (in nominal dollars) expanded by trillions since the 1960s; as a percentage of government budget its right up there and often exceeds the other sinkhole (defense). Who cares about unions? They served their purpose at the beginning of the previous century when businesses were stashing labor in unsafe/unescapable tenement buildings in NYC/elsewhere and paying sub-living standards that drove the then migration influx to house upwards of 15 and more people in the same single bedroom *ellhole. They made a difference when the Rockerfellers et al were hiring Pinkertons to shoot protestors. Different set of problems today – certainly for blue collar workers.

          Yes, there will eventually be a transition and a new “age” will ascend. I can just imagine our Celtic forebears back in 2500 BCE: “God ***n copper. We need something better/stronger for our helmets and shields. Something the dang Roman trash doesn’t control. Iron looks promising. I’m betting it’ll be here in 100 years or less!”

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          And yes…I know the Romans didn’t appear in England until 50 BCE. Iron Age started somewhere around 1100 BCE. I liked the joke so sue me!

        • Nate says:

          Pot calling the kettle?

          I mean I call classic fossil fuels appearing to follow the trajectory of whale oil. Not because of tree hugging hippies or mind control by “BIG MEDIA”, but because they are getting beaten by better alternatives, especially when factoring in externalities.

          This happens. It’s fine. EVs are kinda cool, although we could use a battery breakthrough to make it a duh, of course decision.

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          Great! You accept the point then!

          To repeat, I don’t care what suit of technologies is used. I’m not a religously inclined person, so the Holy Church of anthropomorphic caused Climate Change doesn’t budge the needle at all for me. I care about factors addressed above – and none of them are perfect so it gets down to the fine print.

          My gripe at the moment is that massive changes are being forced without a realistic transition plan in place much less a vote. That has and will lead to very bad things down the road.

          Just watch.

  18. CreditGB says:

    It is interesting how proponents of the wind and solar always post “Capacity” yet the actual production as a percent of that capacity is often very difficult to find. Here is what I mean.

    WindEurope tracks daily on shore and off shore wind farm production. The same wind farms that, despite tax payer subsidies and massive rates, are last week crying about not being able to make profits and need more and permanent tax subsidies. But I digress. Point here is the actual production from these capacities is simply awful and may indeed explain their financial woes in the EU and UK.

    Tracking daily electricity production as a percent of the installed “capacity” from October 2022 through yesterday, here is the actual performance score card:

    On shore wind farms produced at average 28.1% of installed capacity.
    Off shore wind farms produced at average 35.2% of installed capacity.
    Combined they produced at average 31.6% of installed capacity.

    This is the wind industry’s daily data as published by them not some petroleum or coal group.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “It is interesting how proponents of the wind and solar always post “Capacity” yet the actual production as a percent of that capacity is often very difficult to find.”

      RTGDFA (Read The G*d D**n F***ing Article. I’m so tired of this shit.

      This article is about actual electricity generated and sold by power plants, including wind power installations. The charts in the article show the actual amount of electricity generated and sold, including wind power, in 2022 and before.

      • CreditGB says:

        Sorry, guess I am just a little fed up with the rose colored glasses when it comes to renewables. I will return to my corner.

        • C says:

          Why are you fed up with people being optimistic about renewables?

        • C says:

          Why do you find yourself fed up with people being optimistic about renewables? Would you say you are pretty sensitive to others’ feelings? Why does that matter when we are discussing industry trends?

        • CreditGB says:

          The rose colored glasses approach on any subject is what I get frustrated with. Optimism is fine, as long as it is tempered by reality.

          All I am saying is that a myopic focus on only the positives of any decision can lead to unintended consequences.

          On a small scale, in Corporate America, I’ve seen dozens of ideas be developed, then being implemented, then crashing with dire consequences that were clearly there but not taken into consideration.

          Don’t mean to offend or upset anyone.

    • michel says:

      Installed capacity is an easy number to obtain. Capacity factors vary from place to place and from year to year. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just less practical then the nameplate.

      Relatively low capacity factors were always part of the calculation for solar and wind. You are complaining that glass brakes into sharp pieces…

  19. Wolf Richter says:


    It even says so in the title.

  20. Al-Jr says:

    The total power generated and its sources are interesting – It would be equally interesting to see what the forecast is for power generation and power demands for the next few years – and how might this compare to the supply/demand for fossil fuels. Our modern society was built on the availability of energy – any shortage would have massive implications.

  21. Bobber says:

    Just think how much energy my second home in Aspen is burning.

    First, massive energy was needed to cut down trees, level the land, and build the dwelling and its furnishings.

    Second, there is 5000 ft. to heat it up all Winter, including all the air between head and 15 ft. ceiling, whether I am there or not.

    Third, the fuel cost of flying there every month, driving up the mountain from town on a daily basis, and using the ATV’s and snowmobiles.

    Fourth, the four gas fireplaces, gourmet kitchen, 15 ft. outdoor jacuzzi and waterfall, pool, and custom lighting.

    It’s a good thing the place is worth $20M more than I paid for it. That will keep things humming for a long time.

    Thank you money-printing Gods. My gift to you is carbon!! My sacrifice to you is future generations!! Please continue to provide an adequate supply of power for my glorious existence.


    • Bobber says:

      Cutting energy demand is preferable to increasing supplies.

      • Concerned Citizen says:

        I disagree. I suspect if you correlate energy demand with a measure of standard of living it would be very positive. In my mind, it makes no sense to reduce the standard of living of mankind for some type of mandated energy limits.

        • Bobber says:

          It depends on your measure of “standard of living”. If the definition involves clean air, open spaces, diversity of nature, and general sustainability, our standard of living has decreased dramatically as energy consumption increased. It’s an inverse correlation.

          Note, the really important advances in the areas of medicine and computing have little correlation to energy expansion.

        • phillip jeffreys says:


        • phillip jeffreys says:

          As for Bobber’s comment.

          That must explain the primary rationale for Cloud computing!

        • Expat says:

          Well, that depends on what you want for the next fifty years. If you want the party to keep going, then keep burning coal and oil, but the hangover will kill us all. In any case, the bar will be closed soon enough whether you want it or not. And the hangover will still kill us.

    • Seen it all before, Bob says:

      Ha! Did you cash-out refi that $20M at 3% and retire? Just put the balance in 5% 1 Year Treasuries and live off the 2% spread ( 400K/year). Or take my plan when 30 year treasuries hit 8%, go all in and live off the 5% spread ($1M/year).

      I would have.

      Even with the payments on the loan, high energy costs, Prime Rib daily, I could live the rest of my life on $20M. I might invest in solar panels since it is almost always sunny in Aspen.

    • Implicit says:

      Ha Ha the truth in comedy/sarcasm.
      I’m waiting for another cold cloudy windless night to burn some wood/brush. I like looking into the fire, and at the moon, and stars thru the smoky colors of the flame, as I contemplate my wokeful existence.

    • phillip jeffreys says:

      Not everyone can be a saint! /s

  22. Venkarel says:

    There is a startup that is using solar to store gravity energy in spooled wire coils that generate electricity when released. See Gravitricity. Also just to be clear almost all energy on our world is “solar” in that the original energy before concentration by the food pyramid came from the sun. Also any material heavier than say Hydrogen on the periodic table of elements has a “solar” origin, from solar fusion to nova’s and super nova’s.

  23. Prairie Rider says:

    On 7 February 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed, ‘100% Carbon-Free Electricity by 2040’ into law.

    “This legislation will provide opportunities to innovate, create jobs, incorporate new technologies into the grid and work closely with the communities that are home to our employees and power plants on a successful transition.” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy — Minnesota.

    (Excel Energy is the second largest equity position in my portfolio after CHS, Inc.)

    “This landmark achievement by Governor Walz and the Minnesota Legislature will benefit Minnesotans for years to come across our economy, environment, communities , and beyond.” said Fresh Energy Executive Director Michael Noble.

    “As we work to make Minnesota the best state to raise a family, investing in our climate future is an essential part of building a bright future for our kids. This bill is good news for Minnesota and our country as the North Star State leads the way.” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan.

    The new state law does have a few opt-out clauses built in if there are problems implementing this.

    • Prairie Rider says:

      By the way, Xcel Energy was planning on moving to this by 2050, long before this year’s legislative session began.

      Seventeen years to do it now, and a lot of steps for reduction need to be made incrementally along the way as this plan is implemented.

      Time will tell as to how things work out. But to me, it is an overly optimistic goal. A good question is, how much will the electricity cost for both generating it and for consumers of the electricity as a result?

      Thank you for the report Wolf.

    • Remy says:

      Prairie Rider,

      On a side note of your CHS. Do you plan on bailing before the call option this summer?

      • Prairie Rider says:


        No, not bailing. When my family wheat seed company was sold to Limagrain Cereal Seeds back in 2010, CHS got the largest allocation of the proceeds from the sale for my portfolio.

        It is a well run company. It’s based in Minnesota. It pays a great dividend; 6.7% forward yield. It is in the Ag, energy and commodities businesses. I reckon these are good sectors that are always going to be needed.

        CHS and Cargill on 13 January 2023 announced that they were expanding their joint TEMCO operations in Galveston Bay, Texas. And CHS is building a new facility for grain in southeast South Dakota.

        Of course, Cargill is another Minnesota Ag company, but it is privately held. Land O’Lakes, is also a Minnesota Ag company I’d like to have in the portfolio. But they are a closed farmer-owned coop. So, we’ll stick with CHSCP.

        • Remy says:

          Prairie Rider,

          Thanks for your feedback. I have been invested in the CHS preferred for a few years as well. I work a few miles from the HQ in IGH. I do have some concern that they may call this July, I believe the call price is $25.

          Thanks for the tip on Xcel. I will take a look at them as well.

  24. Kurtismayfield says:

    Wolf, I am amazed at the amount of energy industry shills that sit around waiting for your articles to be posted with talking points. Amazing how much attention you draw!

    Thank you for the analysis.

    • rojogrande says:


      I enjoy the comments but this really felt like an EV article as Wolf notes above. It must be a topic people are so committed to one way or another they don’t allow the information in the article, or really even the point of the article, to interfere with their preconceptions.

  25. michel says:

    Actually… the efficiency of a power source doesn’t really matter for the price. What really matters is the economies of scale.

    Nuclear is expensive, because it failed to generate economies of scale. Solar and Wind are riding on economies of scale. Solar has something like 17% efficiency, a capacity factor of 25% and still beats nuclear and coal.

    In theory, you could resurrect coal with economies of scale, in a similar fashion as solar and wind, but there’s no political will for that.

    In theory you could even harvest antimatter from Jupiter’s magnetosphere and use that on earth… The upfront costs would be substantial and no one will take the risk. Poor fusion is slow to come because of this reason. In theory, geothermal could have been as successful as solar and wind, if it had gotten the funding.

    Economies of scale require you to be very committed to an energy source in order to succeed. Then prices plummet. Coal and nuclear are already dead. The real reason for solar success, is that Germany payed the first mover cost. For wind, it was probably Danemark. If Iceland was a large industrial country of 100 million, they probably would have done the same with geothermal.

    • Joe says:

      Wish there was a like button. Very informative comment.

    • Nate says:

      Nuclear has massive economy of scale. Just look at wolf’s map. Big dot.

      I don’t think economies of scale is the right concept, as that’s usually used with firms and getting marginal costs down. I guess I can see the analogy but I imagine econs have a different term.

      Instead, what I believe you’re getting at is the role of government to encourage development of new tech through subsidies. So, like giving some guaranteed returns on top of any patent returns on investment. Not all are going to succeed, which is why you need the subsidy. Happily, it looks like we’re collectively getting a return on many, many years of subsidies.

      • michel says:

        Economies of scale are not applied properly in the nuclear sector. They don’t compound like with renewables. You can see the end result in the final price. And this is not economics, it’s engineering.

        They would have needed to use modular reactors 50 years ago PLUS modular construction of the buildings in factories. Normal building enjoy economies of scale from the existing construction industry. Nuclear building however are too different.

        The only economies of scale that you see, is the gigantism, and building large complexes with multiples reactors. Bigger is cheaper and building more then one unit is also cheaper… But… move to an other site and your economies of scale reset. You’ll use local labor that never build such a thing and an already build giant reactor doesn’t help much. The quantities are inadequate. There’s no industry that builds the same thing over and over again. You have no reactor manufacturer that only builds reactors and nothing else… or constructions companies that only build nuclear power plants. It should be like a bread or light bulb factory.

        With modularity, you have important upfront costs. In the long run they payoff, because there’s a compounding effect of the economies of scale. The trick, is not in the final product, but in the process that builds the product that most people ignore.

        And in the end, all this doesn’t help with the spills and the waste.

        About subsidies, they are also economies of scale of whole industries and between countries. It’s not about competition or new technology. The more stuff you make, the cheaper they get. This is very predictable. Subsidies need to be designed properly. Solar and Wind are the poster child of how to do it right. Nuclear is the example of what to avoid. An other example to avoid is free trade. It gets the idea of economies of scale kind of right… but then completely fails to properly manage the human beings that actually make everything happen and just let competition rip everything apart.

  26. Citizen AllenM says:

    Look, here is the ugly truth about energy use. We, as Americans, are energy hogs. We go for the cheapest thing that will do the job without concern for the long term costs or efficiency. Hence coal was given baseload energy status in spite of the lack of thermal efficiency.

    The average consumer is no better. They will go for solar panels instead of going for overall energy efficiency first. How many people do panels instead of energy efficiency in the house envelope and energy efficient appliances? Further, how many even begin to consider an energy audit before making improvements? Burning propane to cook and heat? The crazy stuff I see on utube for “offgrid” living is insane.

    Granite countertops, marble floors, single pane glass here in Phoenix. Giant pickup trucks going to buy a few bags of groceries. After seeing the sheer scale of waste in America regarding energy use one becomes inured to it all. And everything else waste.

    • Implicit says:

      True. Food waste is probably directly proportional to wealth

    • Gattopardo says:

      Citizen, hold on a second. Solar panels are the LAST thing I want. Tightening up the envelope and insulating so it’s not the weak link are the cheap no-brainers. Hell, even LED lights are a way better deal than solar. Some of us are all over these solutions. The ONLY reason I’ll do solar is because The Man in Cali requires we do so on new construction or a significant enough remodel….which is funny because much of the CA coast is piss poor for solar performance because it’s always cloudy anyway!

  27. Deep Fish says:

    Thanks Wolf for posting in the EV/electrical category.

    Also sorry you have to battle it out with the nimwits in the comments section (a section I usually look forward to). But I do applaud your work keeping the facts the facts!

    For some odd reason there is a large populace of our country that has to taken the conspiracy route towards renewables.

    Which is just kind of funny to me because if anyone takes the time to understand the mechanical engineering and physics behind renewables theirs no need for a conspiracy or fake social media myths. The advantages are self explanatory.

    But I guess those same myth spewing people don’t even take the time to read your article. So how could we expect them to read about the mechanical and atmospheric dynamics of wind and solar energy.

    Shake me hand.

    Anyhow thanks always !!

  28. Saylor says:

    In regards to some of the replies to this article by Wolf. For one and all…,remember there are ‘opinion farms’ out there whose job it is to push a particular agenda (depending on whom is paying for their POV.)

    What I’ve read/heard about…, housewives and other stay at home workers being provided multiple ‘personalities’ software to appear as popular grassroots opinion statements for social media sites.

    What I’ve actually seen…, ‘Smoking Gun’ had posted a RFQ (request for quote) from a military branch to provide a staff to promote these ‘grass root opinions that they would provide the general text for promotion.

    I believe I actually walked into such a ‘opinion farm’ during work hours. I was there to get pricing on kite surfing gear which was what the store was there for. However, one side of the store consisted of banks of monitors with keyboards and about 4 people scanning the monitors and typing as they read. One 5th person was ‘floating’ back and forth and reading over their shoulders and helping editorialize the responses. The ‘floater’ was unhappy to see me standing there when he turned around upon my asking for some help. I was told the sales person would be back from lunch ‘in awhile’.

    So Wolf…don’t be too dismayed by the apparent lack of some posters to actually read what you’ve written and posted. They may just doing their…, jobs.

  29. Saylor says:

    I can’t see Yuca Mountain as being a ‘solution’. Just a postponement of a problem to be dealt with long after our epoch is ended.

    Two of the big problems I had with nuke energy in the 70s and 80s was….actual disposal and the chance of the waste being appropriated and used in dirty bombs.

    • Gattopardo says:

      Don’t worry, Saylor. We’ll either have figured out a fix for Yucca Mtn waste or humanity will be toast by then anyway. I say roll ‘dem bones and go nuclear.

  30. Stephen Waters says:

    Hi Wolf – I love your insights and donated today. Thank you for all you do!
    The uptick in CA’s generation is primarily from EV’s, and CA is creating a huge problem. CA vehicles currently use 13.4 billion gallons of gasoline yearly. Replacing the energy produced by gasoline will require an additional 105,500 GWh of electrical energy as CA’s existing electrical energy generation and power grid cannot support the planned change from gasoline to EV’s. 36 million EV’s will require a 55% increase in in-state annual electrical generation. CA is adding a huge amount of EV chargers, but is not adding the required generation and distribution. As EV’s increase there will be a continual increase in rolling blackouts.
    Secondly, your readers need to understand that an increase in MW capacity is NOT proportional to the annual GWh of energy produced by different sources. For example, the capacity factor of inland solar is about 25% and nuclear is about 90%. A 1 MW nuclear plant will produce 3.6 more than solar. The energy produced by nuclear will be fairly constant. The energy produced by solar will be intermittent – only during the day and with substantially more produced in the summer than in the winter.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Thank you for your generous donation.

      “… currently use 13.4 billion gallons of gasoline yearly. Replacing the energy produced by gasoline will require an additional 105,500 GWh of electrical energy ”

      This is a conceptual error. You cannot say that electricity has to replace the energy in gasoline. That’s not how it works. EVs are vastly more efficient that ICE vehicles.

      An ICE vehicle turns between 60% (at steady highway speed) and 100% (at idle) of gasoline it burns into waste heat. There is nothing more inefficient than an ICE, except external combustion engines (steam).

      Electric motors don’t idle, have a flat torque curve and provide instant maximum torque (so you don’t need to rev them up), and are somewhere between 85% and 90% efficient, meaning they turn between 85% and 90% of the electrical energy into mechanical energy/motion, with very little energy getting lost as waste heat.

      IN ADDITION, EVs have regenerative braking, where the wheels drive the electric motors to generate electricity. A 300 hp electric motor turned into a generator has a lot of braking power. With this, the EV turns the kinetic energy in the vehicle back into electricity and charges the battery.

      EVs use much less energy than ICE vehicles. This is all well known and documented, and all the utilities are fully familiar with this equation.

      That’s why you cannot say that electricity needs to replace all the energy in a gallon of gasoline. That’s just not how it is. It just needs to replace a small part of it. And your entire math that follows is just wrong.

      Then there is the other benefit of EVs: most people wish garages or reserved parking will charge them at home at night, when there is a HUGE amount of idle capacity, and when electricity is cheapest because of the idle capacity (time of use pricing), and so utilities can finally make some money at night off their idle capacity. They’re loving EVs.

      • Stephen Waters says:

        Your welcome – I’ve learned an incredible amount from you. To give you some background – I’m an EE, have been driving hybrid cars for over 20 years and now drive a plug-in hybrid. I also installed my own solar panels. You are correct in most of what you said. The mathematical calculations between gasoline and electric are too complicated for your site. I’d be happy to send you a paper I wrote that explains them in detail. Some other comments:
        1) Pumped storage has about a 75% round trip efficiency which is similar to battery storage. China claims they have a 90% round trip efficiency which is questionable. Pump storage facilities can last for centuries, require very little maintenance, and they don’t use toxic elements. Batteries require constant maintenance, use toxic elements including cadmium and lithium and need to be replaced every 15 years. Batteries are dangerous and have caused fires including one in Monterey, CA. CA has perfect topology for pumped storage and CA needs to be installing more pumped storage – not batteries
        2) I completely agree with you on nuclear energy. It produces an extremely toxic waste, and the government has left the waste scattered across the country. CA is pushing SMR’s which is less efficient than the larger ones. This needs to be stopped before it goes any further.
        3) You mentioned the waste heat generated by coal. Do you know that nuclear reactors also emit 65% of their energy as waste heat? The stacks that you see with what appears to be smoke coming out are called cooling towers and the vapor you see coming out is waste heat. The nuclear reactors are usually located in domed structures.
        4) Waste heat is also generated by natural gas engine-generators. Solar and wind do not produce waste heat.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          One of the things that was fascinating when I crossed Siberia by rail in 1996 were the insulated huge ugly pipes that ran for miles from power plants to residential districts. These pipes transported steam or hot water from power plants to residential districts to heat homes. Once inside urban areas, the pipes went underground. I’m not sure this infrastructure is still there. It was already pretty banged up then. But this was a massive application of heat and power. If you can use some of the waste heat from a power plant to heat homes in a cold part of the country during the cold part of the year, it improves the overall efficiency of the power plant.

          Alas, I was in Siberia in August, and it was hot during the day, and they had the biggest mosquitoes ever, LOL

        • Gattopardo says:


          Interesting about the waste heat from nuclear. Is that a design-specific problem, meaning that a plant could run at lower capacity if that waste could be reduced/captured?

        • NBay says:

          The Carnot engine drawing is how the thermodynamics guys explain it.

      • TheRealMrDyno says:

        Actually, his energy requirement seems to be just about right.

        13.4B gallons
        (the interwebs report roughly this for CA)

        Say 20 mpg average
        So ~260B miles
        Tesla S ~= 0.25 kWHr/mile
        So 65B kWHr
        Or 65k GWHr
        65,000 vs 105,000 GWHr, pretty close.
        If CA fleet average mpg is really 30, then 100,000 GWHr is right on.

        • TexasWatcher says:

          He forgot add how much electricity California imports from other states. In 2021 California used 277,764 Gwh of electricity. So now the low range of your estimates are about 23% of total California electricity demand instead of the 55% he mentioned. It would take a long time for the automotive fleet to transition over to bevs as some people tend hold on their cars for a long time. Plenty of time to build more generation. This 23% would also assume no mode share change to bikes or transit. Which would further reduce energy demand.

  31. Ervin says:

    Wolf ended this great report telling us that the battery guys are buying electricity at low prices and selling it at higher prices. Let me add this. Charging the battlers with to 100 MWs requires 110 MWs due to the loss in the AC to DC converter and another 5 MWs due the the loss in the battery itself. Now reverse the process. The useful power to the power distribution system will be 95 MWs. So it’s 115MWs in and 95MWs of useful electricity. 18% loss. A 100 MW wind farm produces on average 30 to 40 MWs yearly. That size solar farm 15 to 25 MWs. The future is indeed grim.

    • Stephen Waters says:

      Gattopardo – There are many inefficiencies in a nuclear power plant. The largest are the Steam Turbines at 50%. Other inefficiencies make the total about 65%. Piston driven steam generators would be more efficient.
      NBay – Thanks for reminding me about thermodynamics – it is appreciated. Sadly, I’ve been trying to forget this class for over fifty years.
      TheRealMrDyno – I used a similar set of calculations.
      Ervin – It’s important to note the difference between power (in kW or MW) and energy (in kWh or MWh). For example your car may have an engine with a power rating of 100 HP. The engine does not produce energy unless it’s running. Batteries are rated in MW – but to be properly rated they need to have an hour rating. Let’s say we have a 10 MW battery with a 4-hour rating. A fully rated 10 MW 4-hr battery should be able to supply 40 MWh of energy = to 40,000 kWh of energy. The battery would be likely charged and discharged once per day. It could theoretically supply 14,600 MWh of energy per year, and will require 18,250 MWh of energy (assuming a 75% round trip efficiency). Note – solar panel output degrades about 1% per year and batteries degrade about 1.5% per year.

  32. Jeff Tidd says:

    Great info. I read a lot of energy-specific sources and don’t see this info. Thanks.

  33. knology says:

    Is now the time to buy utilities?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Please don’t use an email address as your screen name. You posted a bunch of comments that way. You’re promoting your email. I don’t allow that. I deleted the email part on two of your comments today, including this one. I’m going to delete the remaining comments with your email as screen name.

      Your screen name that you used before worked fine. I don’t know why you stopped using it. Or you can choose a different screen name, but not your email address.

      If you use autofill, you may have a problem there. Delete the browsing history in your browser, and that may fix that autofill issue.

      • NBay says:

        Wolf, what are the screen names in blue? I always thought they were links to other blogs or maybe just emails?
        Didn’t want to hit any of them, though….malware, etc.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          A screen name turns blue when you put a website’s URL into the “website” box.

          There are three boxes, two are required to be filled in: “name” (your screen name) and “email” (fake email is fine). Only the “name” shows.

          The third box “website” is optional and turns the screen name blue. I generally glance at the URLs to see if they look suspicious. Most of the time, it’s frequent commenters that put in the same URL of their blogs. I kind of know them, and I don’t think you’d run into problems. Where it gets dicey is when a new commenter shows up with an iffy comment and a weird URL. I might not allow it.

          So I think it’s OK for you to click on those blue names.
          If you put an email into the screen name box, the email is displayed for all to see.

        • NBay says:


        • NBay says:

          Think I just learned a new “get into moderation easy” trick. When you said 2-3 hrs emails a day, I didn’t want to increase workload (I assume the moderation list can be ripped thru faster) and like I said about unamused, I think complaining privately is chickenshit.
          Thanks for tolerating me, I’m sure I get private complaints.

        • NBay says:


  34. grimp says:

    “All of the above” energy sources – great diversification for a healthy market. Let them all compete.
    The breakthroughs and discoveries that will inevitably occur as the years go by will likely make our current technology look stone age. Confident that a problem that we project thousands of years into the future will be solved by those future whiz kids.

    • phillip jeffreys says:

      I agree…..with minimum government interference. Let capital flow where it is best employed as driven by market forces.

  35. Valerie in Australia says:

    This was such an informative post. Thank you. For years and years, I have heard promises that the collective “we” will slowly convert from fossil fuels to renewables – and yet . . . the fossil fuel industry always found a way of undermining these ideas. For the first time, I am optimistic that the world – at least the Western World – has turned a corner. Thanks for that!

  36. troy says:

    Thanks for the article Wolf!

  37. Russell says:

    I was surprised with all the backwards comments, Texas is about to pass up California in solar generation.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Texas passed California in wind power generation many years ago. Those right-winger ranchers in West Texas instantly understood that for the first time in their lives they could make money off something that they get for free in endless supply: wind. Same in Oklahoma. These people are very smart. And they learned how to run their business and make money in a tough environment. It’s the people entrenched in some kind of dogma that are dumb.

      • russell says:

        My energy contract is almost up for renewal but with all of the “free” energy coming on stream and the price of natural gas falling like a rock I should be able to lock in at a really good rate.

  38. CB Robertson says:

    I look at a lot of websites etc that talk about energy and the transition we are now experiencing but this is the first time I have come across this one. Interesting. And I rarely read comments but for some reason got caught up in this one.

    Something I am curious about and have asked for many years is – what do some of these people think terms such as renewable and sustainable actually mean? I think I read all the comments here and did not come across anything to indicate some people can define those terms. Fossil is quite simply not renewable or sustainable – unless you can wait a million years or more. We will eventually run out of these things. That is a fact. Many experts have even put timelines on when this will happen at the current rate. We need to develop alternatives now and transition to a new way of doing things before some of the fossil starts to run out. In some cases this isn’t that far off. As fossil is depleted new sources may be found but it will be more difficult to extract and quite a bit more expensive. We will always need fossil for some things so we cannot waste what we have. We need to leave some for future generations. Stop being so greedy and selfish.

    I recently drove across southern California and Arizona and saw so many new solar projects being built. New projects are being built on BLM land which is leased to the developers for income to BLM. Most of these projects can be found by searching online. Most I found are being built with battery storage so the power will be available when the Sun goes down.

    I have also traveled across Texas and Oklahoma and quite a few other states where huge wind farms can be seen. More are being built. And soon work will start on offshore wind on the east coast. Leases just bid on for west coast and gulf coast as well. New test site for wave and current energy off Newport, OR. Europe and Asia are way ahead of US in offshore – as well as other alternatives. A new experiment in California is putting solar panels over canals to produce energy as well as shade the canals to reduce evaporation. India is ahead on this idea as they already do it.

    There we some comments about recycling and how some think this is not happening as far as turbine blades, solar panels, batteries etc. Some of these people need to do some research before they make statements that are inaccurate. Recycling is happening in all these areas. It does take time for things to happen but they are happening. Almost all of the elements used in batteries can be recycled and reused. We don’t need to keep mining if we recycle. Lead acid batteries started recycling a long time ago and now over 95% are recycled into new batteries.

    Thanks to Wolf for trying to explain something that some people will never understand.

    • William Ripskull says:

      We have at least a coupon hundred years of fossil fuels, not even including coal. That should get us through fine to the nuclear Armageddon the WEF, working through the Democratic Party and NATO, are preparing now to “save” us.

  39. L.J. Hoke says:

    One thing missing from this great discussion was how much US government subsidy went to “dirty” energy sources last year. Direct subsidies are generally estimated at well over $20 billion. Indirect subsidies are probably much higher, but that depends on who is doing the books!

  40. William Ripskull says:

    The more EV’s that hit the road, the less excess capacity is going to exist. I’ve already heard from a couple of different people that off-peak electric prices are skyrocketing where they live because of EV’s. In fact off-peak is quickly becoming THE peak demand period. EV’s are going to drive electricity prices through the roof, which is bad for working poor. All just to stroke the ego’s of irrational, guilt-ridden liberals.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Well, I live in San Francisco, the epicenter of EVs. I’m surrounded by EVs. They’re everywhere. Two weeks ago, we went cross-country skiing for four days to the Tahoe area, and lots of EVs up there too.

      And guess what? Our off-peak pricing is getting the same discount off regular pricing as before.

      You’re either stuck in braindead dogma that prevents you from seeing reality. Or you’re just a troll getting paid to spread oil company propaganda?

  41. Andy Trupin says:

    If the waste heat from combined natural gas can exceed Carnot efficiency, then why cant any heat source be used for a combined cycle as long as the primary boiler is hot enough?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      A combined cycle NG plant has two cycles: #1: the gas turbine (like a jet engine, except it runs on NG rather than jet fuel) that drives a generator; #2 the hot exhaust from the gas turbine is used to heat water to high-pressure steam which drives a steam turbine which powers a second generator.

      Coal cannot be used as fuel for a gas turbine. So a coal plant doesn’t have cycle #1. It just has cycle #2, the coal heats water to high pressure steam that drives a steam turbine that drives a generator.

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