Fundamental Flaws of Wind and Solar – Reliability
Perhaps the most obvious criticism of renewables is their intermittent nature, or as Fergus calls them “unreliable”. Solar panels clearly don’t work when it’s dark and wind turbines don’t turn when it isn’t windy, but the problem goes far deeper than this.
Solar energy is fundamentally at odds with our energy usage patterns, being offline when we’re making dinner and watching tv after work. On overcast days when we’re more likely to be inside production levels fall, and that’s nothing on the scale of capacity issues caused by snow.
Even the ambitious plans for huge desert solar arrays face repeated cleaning to remove sand from the panel surfaces.
The real issue with solar, however, is seasonality. In the Northern Hemisphere during winter, when the earth is angled away from the sun, there is a 50% decrease in solar power production. The only solution to this requires either twice the number of panels, half of which will be excess capacity in the summer, or having back-up power stations that will remain idle for half the year.
Wind power experiences similar issues and also requires supplementation by other energy sources to account for unpredictable down time.