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Today is a partly cloudy day which happens nearly a third of days in Dallas Texas where I am writing this. Solar output on a day like today will be a small fraction of rated panel output. This would mean that if the percentage of solar exceeds the reserve capacity of turbine generators then there would be blackouts either grid wide or rolling as Grid operators prefer. That is unless there was battery capacity equal to many times actual electrical demand as battery systems are typically rated for a four hour power delivery time so six times more batteries will be needed to provide one cloudy days power needs. There would also be a need for six times more solar arrays to charge the batteries. And that is for just one cloudy day. Here is a graph of actual solar radiation that FOI Group Llc measured as part of its research to develop its solar energy patent.
Note this graph is solar radiation not actual electrical power output which would be fraction of these numbers. But not thatsolar panels are rated at 1000 watts per square meter and on this graph the peak power reached for only minutes was 600. Look how steep the curves are and how we had two days in a row of minimal power output. This would mean that we need a huge number of extra panels to charge all the extra batteries. So friends if we don’t have natural gas backup we just don’t have 24/7 power except at extreme cost of perhaps 30 times more expense than a typical solar farm that claims to produce a given amount of power. The good news is that natural gas is abundant and emits the lowest carbon emissions by far. Enemies of natural gas use love to talk about leaking methane but the truth is that most methane emissions come from oil wells which also produce some methane often in quantities too small to connect to a pipeline. The Methane is dissolved in the oil and like a soft drink some of it is released in the oil storage tank. There are abundant methane or natural gas consuming bacteria that live all over the world consuming methane which is released in abundance by Termites, ruminant animals and natural seeps into the air and ocean. The huge releases of natural gas from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico years ago were consumed in the ocean by these bacteria and didn’t reach the surface to go into the air. Now if we are concerned about methane emissions and desire to lower atmospheric levels we could breed these methane eaters and distribute them around oil wells, cattle feedyards and ranchers etc to try and boost their numbers which naturally adjust to the food supply. Artic tundra melting is a major source of methane emissions but much of it gets consumed quickly by the bacteria. The microscopic world is largely unknown as it is so massive that it represents the bulk of weight of living things and is so numerous and hard to identify that much of it is unknown.
We need to rapidly phase out coal use to reduce carbon emissions right away and it is okay to build more solar as long as we have natural gas powerplants to back it up on those cloudy days and winter. It is more efficient to heat our houses and our hot water with natural gas than electricity due to all the losses in power generation and electric lines. Cooking with gas is far better as the natural gas flame gets hotter than an electric stove which makes for better cooking. Lets Get Real about energy. The renewable solution that makes sense is biogas which is renewable natural gas from organic waste of all types. But we can make the world carbon negative while we still use fossil fuels thru remineralization and improved agricultural and marine processes. The job is a lot easier with a fast phaseout of coal in favor of reliable fast acting natural gas powerplants. Join us to promote a sensible better way to resolve the climate crisis!!!!! That is affordable.