In an effort to help the all-renewables advocates correct their innumeracy, Steve Skutnik wrote one of my favorite posts for the month (January).
(…) Whenever the topic of renewable energy sources comes up, invariably a spurious comparison to the generating capacity to nuclear plants will come up. For example, identified resources for say, offshore wind will be identified somewhere in the realm of tens of gigawatts, to which the guest will inevitably state, “That’s the equivalent of dozens of nuclear plants!” (…)
A basic unfamiliarity with these concepts (i.e., the scale of individual energy generators and their respective availability factors) tends to produce a pervasive level of innumeracy, which in turn leads to genuinely terrible energy policy positions, such attempting to displace some or all of baseload capacity (including nuclear) with intermittent sources. In an effort to combat this epidemic (and inspired by the old Total cereal commercials which used to air back when I was growing up) I’ve put together an infographic to demonstrate just how many of these types of generators one needs to replace just one baseload unit.
Please refer to Steve’s original post for his full explanation. My main comment is that the infographic doesn’t account for the overbuilding required to compensate for the intermittency. Should these intermittent sources grow a total size exceeding about 15% of interconnected market peak demand, then a dispatchable capacity of the same size will have to be built to cover demand when the renewable sources are “off duty” for days at a time.