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A large portion of the power imported to the United States from Canada is also generated from hydro. This document is a thought experiment that uses GIS mapping to estimate how much renewable power could possibly be generated in each state regardless of cost, distance from transmission infrastructure, reliability or time-of-dispatch, current or future electricity loads, etc.
Solar and wind are the largest renewable resource base in the United States and not surprisingly would need to contribute about 90% of renewable power in a world without fossil fuels, since geothermal, hydropower, and biomass are extremely limited by both location and potential power generation.
Clearly most of the potential power identified could never be built because of cost, being too far from  cities and towns, a lack of transmission lines, inability of enough flexible generation to balance uncertain, unreliable, and unpredictable wind and solar power, and at over 50 percent renewables, additional generation would be difficult without enough energy storage and the geothermal, hydropower, or biomass power to balance wind and solar (when supply and demand don’t match within 1% or less, the electric grid comes down). Locations were restricted somewhat by areas such as national parks and marine sanctuaries, onshore wind net capacity factor must be 25.5% or more, solar PV and CSP on slopes 3% or less, and other factors were used to restrict the areas. In a resource-constrained world it is likely that states will not want to share their power with other states. Only Texas (ERCOT), its own island of power, has much wind and solar power, but whether there’s enough and if it can be balanced with hydropower or solar CSP and energy storage is unclear. Below are maps of the USA with 89% of their potential from the three main sources of renewable power: Rural utility-scale PV (58%), Concentrating Solar Power (24%), and onshore wind (7%). In the real world, only the best resources are likely to be developed at a few locations in the darkest colored states. The only likely CSP plants to be built are in areas with at least class 5 potential because they are incredibly expensive  (i.e. A number of competing factors are expected to impinge upon wind load factors over time, such as improving turbine efficiency, the move to less windy onshore sites, the move to windier offshore sites, increasing down time of ageing turbines and climate change. Since 1997 average loads have increased (Figure 1) but have changed little in the last 9 years suggesting that positive and negative factors are in balance. BP report installed wind capacity at the end of the year but electricity production for the full year [1].
Figure 3 Load factors for the 17 countries shown in Figure 2 calculated using adjusted capacity as descried in Methodology above. The range in wind load factors between countries is roughly 2 fold while for solar it is at least 3 fold [3].
A global average load factor of 22.5% may seem good news for the wind industry but it must be born in mind that nuclear runs with a load factor closer to 90%.
This entry was posted in Energy and tagged bp, capacity factor, china, efficiency, germany, global wind load factor, india, load factor, spain, UK, usa, wind, wind power. The main reason NZ load factors are higher than everywhere else seems to be that the Kiwis site many of their turbines in areas where topographic funnelling effects amplify wind speeds. NZ also generates about 16 times as much of its electricity from load-following plants (53% hydro, 20% gas, 8% coal) as it does from wind (5%). It is very hard to separate the pr bovine waste from the real facts but I do not doubt the figures in this article are reasonably accurate.
It’s often necessary to use less than the full capacity of many kinds of machinery- trucks are dispatched every second of the day with less than a full load of cargo for instance.
The real question is this one when it comes to determining the economic value of wind power. This value would be primarily dependent on the amount of fuel saved at fossil fuel plants.It must be multiplied by some factor to allow for future fuel savings which will be worth more as fuel prices go up but on the other hand it must be reduced by some amount to reflect the time value of waiting for the future output of the wind farms.
Since any actual figures are very hard to track down I suspect that they are not as good as the wind industry would like and not as bad as the anti wind fossil fuel advocates imply.Surely the people who actually work in the electricity industry have ready access to such data. A whole lot of people are claiming that there are plenty of places where wind farms can achieve forty percent load factors -at least here in the US-but that most of them are too far from large cities and there fore no good unless a lot of new high voltage long distance transmission lines are built. If anybody has links to any serious work on utilizing wind power in existing industries or new industries or old industries that can be relocated I would really appreciate the links.
Likewise a desalination plant could run close to twenty percent of the time on solar power in some locations.
I am not proposing that such a scheme is practical- but rather asking if any such schemes are likely to prove to be practical in the near future.
That means almost ALL conventional generating units are required almost ALL hours of the year to provide energy when solar and wind are insufficient.
Here is a speech to a PV solar stakeholder convention in Germany by Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor, and Economics and Energy Minister, regarding the Germany’s Renewable Energy project, ENERGIEWENDE, verging on failure.

Staffell and Green have a paper on wind turbine degradation for the UK fleet, which follows on from Hughes’ earlier report on aging for the Renewable Energy Foundation. For those not familiar, Gordon Hughes published a report on age-related degradation of wind farms in the UK. The obvious problem with measuring age-related degradation is the need to correct for wind conditions, but also other confounders include site selection favouring windier sites first and improvements in turbine technology, etc.
Kakatoa, the people are told that renewable energy is cheap, clean and secure by the government.
Considering that most folks in UK live in towns and cities 6 in 10 will never run the risk of having 50 turbines, a pumped storage scheme or 1000 acres of rape being developed close to them. I am in the second category- We live in the country on some acreage, thank goodness as I can adapt to the ways CA, like the UK, are trying to address CO2 levels.
A local pumped storage effort is one means of addressing the intermittency of RE here in Northern CA. Scotland’s arable area (a small fraction of the total land area) has the best growing conditions for OSR in Britain.
Incidentally some of the OSR varieties round us go as chemical feed stock – contains enough (fairly) toxic acids and glucosinalates as useful starter molecules. I agree that renewables in general cannot replace liquid fossil fuel and can only go so far to provide electricity, even with a multi-source pan-European grid – with hydro for peak and balancing. Using the same approach as BP we can calculate the load factor for the whole Europe in 2013. To see the effects of Hourly Median Capacity Factor, you need to break the data up by season. Wind power will never be a viable source of electricity because it simply cannot provide power when we need it.
Whilst I agree with the general thrust of your comment, this statement is not entirely true. The graphs and charts below feature statistics on Washington electricity generation and consumption.
For Washington, looking at past consumption trends is one good indicator for projecting growth rates into the future. Source: Energy consumption by state is taken from the DOE Energy Information Administration State Energy Consumption, Price, and Expenditure Estimates (SEDS database). The portion of electricity consumed in the major energy consuming sectors can provide energy analysts an indication about where the greatest potential for savings lies.
The fuel mix used by electric power companies to generate electricity points to the relative carbon intensity in the state electric power sector.
The fuel mix used by electric power companies to generate electricity points to the relative carbon intensity in the state electric power sector. This is manifested already by how hard it is to get transmission lines to cross state borders. States tend to keep power generation within their borders, and it can take ten years to overcome opposition to transmission lines and towers, especially if they’re going to cross state lines to deliver power elsewhere.
Total estimated technical potential for concentrating solar power (CSP) in the United States.
Wind capacity installed by region representing a total installed wind capacity of 284 GW, which corresponds to about 20% of projected electricity demand. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report detailing a deployment scenario by which the United States could achieve 20% of its electric energy supply from wind energy (U.S.
This is based on an analysis of installed wind capacity and electricity production data for 17 countries published by BP [1]. Overall load factors have improved with time but in detail have been static for the last 9 years. Since all new capacity built in a given year has not been operational for the full year an adjustment is required, especially when capacity growth is high.
Brazil was originally in the mix but the data were rather chaotic so the country was removed. The worlds number one and number two economies with highest CO2 emissions seem Hell bent on winning the wind turbine installation race.
As capacity has grown load variability has declined to the point that in most countries loads have been quite uniform for the past 5 years.
All of the data are subject to the uncertainty of the input data [1] and the methodology applied. I’d be interested to hear from commenters how these results compare with national statistics. At face value the US wind industry is growing more efficient while the Chinese industry less so. Furthermore, wind likely has a higher ERoEI than solar making it less sensitive to load for embedded energy recovery. This would make it comparatively easy to balance out fluctuations in wind output and minimize curtailments, but I don’t know how much difference it might make in quantitative terms. In the US, so much of the new wind capacity is brought on line in the 4th quarter that it may be fairer to calculate the capacity factor for a year with the generation in that year and the capacity in the previous year. Without the specific data for grid connections it becomes impossible to work out load factors with meaning. After allowing for increased expenses involving integrating it into the grid how much is the actual amount dispatched worth in money in a given year from a given wind farm or in the service area of a given utility??

If a desalination plant could be designed to run intermittently on wind power it might be a useful undertaking.Of course the capital costs per unit of output would be about double to triple those a plant operating continuously- but if electricity is a big enough part of the total expense that would not be a deal killler. If solar and wind could be combined at such a plant it might be able to run at as much as fifty to sixty percent or so of its actual capacity.It might be possible to bump this on up to a workable number by using an off line peaking power plant some small portion of the time to flesh out the wind and solar power going to the desalination plant.
But David MacKay refuted the scale of the degradation, in particular highlighting the statistical problem of identifiability. Since power output is related non-linearly to wind speed, the particular model’s power curve is relevant, there is a difference between monthly average wind and instantaneous wind etc.
My answer will be subjective as I have very little knowledge on renewable energy but it might help to explain why I think these figure for load factors in the different counties differ so from the theoretical load factors. I did a calculation a little while ago based on official data that the maximum oil seed crop possible (all of it) in Scotland could provide about 6% of Scotland’s current diesel demand. But hey, might be a better legacy than all those tall office buildings dominating our cities and other pieces of nonsense like the swish global HQ constructed by RBS outside Edinburgh before its business model went bust?
If a wind site had a load factor of say 75% then it would by definition be less intermittent. Some conventional hydroelectric generators are incorporated into dammed reservoirs, providing them with a relatively reliable supply of water. Total estimated technical potential for onshore wind power in the United States.  4 of these states are in the WESTERN (WECC) connection and Texas is on its own, so these 5 states are not going to be sending their wind to the eastern connection, which is severely lacking in wind (and solar) power. The capacity figure used here in any given year is equal to the year end capacity of the previous year plus half of the capacity addition in the given year. The more such expensive energy is rolled into electric rate schedules, the higher household and business rates will become.
Andrew Montford on Bishophill I know has pursued this but I just don’t have time to follow up all these leads. This led into Staffell and Green’s paper which had input from Hughes, MacKay and others, and was under review for about 5 months, published in “Renewable Energy”. Hughes study was the first long term fleet-level study into loss of output from wind farms in the open literature, but one wonders whether Vestas and others already have similar data, and wind developers would surely be interested in this. The difference in the figures for Germany and Denmark, really caught my eye Germany around 18 percent and Denmark around 24 percent. And even then if we were to scale up renewables production to say 50% of energy it would mean covering our countryside with windmills and solar panels and storage facilities.
On the aesthetics front I have no objection to roof mounted solar and little objection to wind turbines most of the time since I live in the city. Under this scenario, offshore wind was an essential contributor, providing 54 gigawatts of installed electric capacity to the grid.  To achieve the deployment levels described in the 20% wind report, many technical and economic challenges must be faced. This is imperfect but should result in negligible errors where new capacity additions are small. My shorthand conclusion is that the Staffell and Green paper probably provides the best guess at this stage, small but significant age-related degradation and worthy of more research. I think the different circumstance in the two countries is on there ability to get rid of the production. But this does suggest that the Germans are wasting a lot of capacity and likely making large curtailment payments. Many coastal areas in the United States have large electricity demand but have limited access to a high-quality land-based wind resource, and these areas are typically limited in their access to interstate grid transmission.
New Zealand has only 603 MW installed capacity (China 68892 MW) and is therefore a very small player along with Egypt (552 MW). Since then, USA loads have grown, which if true points to an industry getting more efficient while in China loads took a strange step down in  2007, the year that exponential capacity growth began. The Danes can quiet easily dump there excess production into the the into the Norwegian and the Swedish grid which can easily absorb it by switching off there Hydro production. A city dweller may not object to a neighbour installing solar PV, especially since most do not know they are paying the subsidy for it, but if you have just retired to a cottage in the country with views of rolling hills and someone comes and plonks 20 turbines a mile from your house you may get rather pissed off. And they predict electricity consumption will grow over this same period at a rate of 0.8% per year. Most offshore wind is 6.2 miles offshore, so the green 60-900 m areas may not always be potential sites (NREL 2010). It is plausible that a small number of turbines deployed in a windy site may yield a load factor of 40%. It is possible that in China State edict means that turbines are being installed anywhere and everywhere. I’ve written a number of posts on wind, this one is perhaps the best that deals with intermittency.
That means electric power consumption, and the accompanying infrastructure to produce and deliver electricity, will be about 43% greater in 2030 than it is today.
Each of these 5 countries are energy importers and 4 of them, China, Germany, Spain and India may be described as enthusiastic to boost indigenous primary energy production although they will all claim their motive is to reduce CO2 emissions. Another factor is the the difference in the size of the Danish and German PV production Germany has about 36 GW of PV production while Denmark has about 200 MW.

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