Germany and California – completed with that?


July 28, 2021 / Francis Menton

If you as a state or country want to have a status in the ranks of the climate virtues, the key metric is your commitment to get most or all of your energy from “renewable energies” (primarily wind and sun) as early as possible. Everyone does it, and you are nobody if you don’t bid. Just a few weeks ago (July 14th) the European Commission placed a bid of 40% of the final energy consumption from “renewable” sources by 2030, according to Reuters. Back here in the US, the Biden government’s most recent bid (dated 28th. Congress has yet to consider the Biden government’s offer.

In both the EU and the US there are national and state champions that far surpass all others. In the EU it is Germany. Germany already decided on its energy turnaround in 2010 in order to convert its energy sector to wind and sun. Since then, Germany has repeatedly raised its targets for renewable energies. Most recently, in December 2020, Germany passed a binding target of 65% electricity from renewable energies by 2030. Our champion here in the US is California. In California, the governing law is the famous SB 100, which was passed in 2018 and sets mandatory targets for the electricity sector of 60% “renewables” by 2030 and 100% by 2045.

As the readers here know, the Manhattan Contrarian has from time to time expressed high levels of skepticism as to whether these mandatory goals are achievable in the real world. In fact, I have often found that with around 40-50% of “renewable” electricity, it becomes virtually impossible to increase the proportion of electricity from renewables simply by adding more renewable capacity. As far as I know, no major jurisdiction has so far increased the proportion of electricity generated from “renewables” to over 50% over a longer period of time. (If a reader can give me an example, I would be very interested.)

But maybe I’m just a weirdo. These geniuses in Germany and California must surely know what they’re doing. So let’s check out the latest news.


On July 27, the No Tricks Zone website published a report on electricity production in Germany for the first half of 2021. No Tricks Zone’s post is based on data compiled on a German website called Die kalte Sonne.

And the answer is: In the first half of 2020, Germany reached the level of 50% of its electricity from “renewables”. But in 2021 that number dropped to 43%:

“The share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption fell from 50% to 43% in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous year,” reports Die kalte Sonne.

What happened? The wind just wasn’t that strong:

“The production of onshore and offshore wind energy decreased by 20%.” . . According to the findings, the reason for the steep drop was unfavorable weather conditions. “This year, especially in the first quarter, the wind was particularly calm. . . . “

Has solar energy then closed the gap? Unfortunately, not:

“[T]The solar output was low. . . . Solar energy performance. . . increased by a modest 2%. “

How did Germany make up for the difference? The answer won’t surprise you:

“Coal energy was experiencing a renaissance. Brown coal [lignite] Power plants produced 45.8 terawatt hours of net electricity – that is the electricity mix that comes out of the socket. That is a sharp increase of 37.6% compared to 2020, when only 33.6 terawatt hours were produced. The net production of the hard coal power plants also rose by 38.9% to 20.4 terawatt hours after 14.4 terawatt hours in 2020. “

In principle, Germany is reaching the limit of what can be achieved by expanding wind and solar power sources. To achieve the higher “renewable” market share they are committed to, they need to add large and rapidly growing amounts of grid storage. So far, they have barely started this process.


You may recall the excited LA Times April 29 headline, “California Just Got 95% Renewable Energy.” April 29 was the very day after President Biden announced his goal of 80% of the US by 2030 -To obtain electricity from “renewable energies”. Now California has already shown the world that they are way ahead and basically reach the home plate:

Something remarkable happened over the weekend: California has achieved nearly 95% renewable energy. I’ll say it again: 95% renewable. With all the time we spend talking about how to achieve 100% clean electricity, it sometimes seems like a distant suggestion whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 goal or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal is. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies was just a stone’s throw away.

(Italics in the original.). But maybe we shouldn’t get too upset just yet. Although the author (Sammy Roth) says this is “95% renewable energy”, on further reading it turns out that he is only talking about electricity, which is only about 30% of energy consumption. And how long did renewables cover 95% of electricity consumption?

Saturday’s 94.5% figure – a record confirmed to me by the California Independent System Operator – was fleeting and lasted only four seconds.

What is the real picture over several months or a year? For that, you’ll have to ignore the cheerleading reporters in the MSM and try to find some aggregated stats. Here are the figures from the California Energy Commission for the full year 2020. The total contribution of “renewables” to the electricity supply is given as 33.09%. Oh, but that includes 2.45% from “biomass”, 4.89% from “geothermal energy” and 1.39% from “small hydropower”. Take these out and you have a great 24.36% wind and sun. And since electricity only accounts for around 30% of final energy consumption, wind and sun only contribute around 8% to total energy consumption in California.

Over on the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) website, they provide a table of daily electricity production that dramatically illustrates the problem. California’s peak power demand is around 40 GW and generally occurs between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The majority of their “renewable” production comes from solar. Your current solar capacity delivers around 12 GW from around 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a sunny midsummer day like today – and nothing for the rest of the time, even when it is in peak use. In winter, the output from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is more like 8 GW, the rest of the time nothing. So far, almost nothing has stood in the way of energy storage on a grid scale. In the evening they start up the natural gas power plants and import electricity from Arizona and Nevada – mostly natural gas, nuclear power and coal. Almost 30% of California’s electricity comes from imports from neighboring states.

Read the full article here.

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