2021-04-01 “We Need Base Load Generation” Myth

Rep. Rodney Davis (R – Illinois) said, (quoted from interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour, 2021 April 1, at about 22:00 point)

“The problem is, we still have to have base load generating capacity. That means nuclear facilities that actually have zero emission just like the one in Clinton, Illinois. We also make sure we don’t deinvest in base load generating capacity through sources like coal, which the carbon sequestration demonstration project is demonstrating that we can burn cleanly. We cannot run the economy on wind and solar alone. You can’t run the company who is helping to find the carbon sequestration project in Decatur, Illinois on wind and solar alone. We need those base load generators and…”

After the interview the screen displayed Fossil Fuels are 80% of energy.

The claim that “We cannot run the electric grid on wind and solar alone. We need base load generation” has never been a valid argument. First off, the base load does not need to be conventional thermal power plants (using coal, nuclear, or burning other fuels). There has always been utility scale hydroelectric power that can serve as spinning reserve or base load power. Another form of base load replacement that has been used for decades is pumped hydro storage, also for peak loads.



A decade ago there was a need for a spinning reserve because large amounts of wind and solar could not generate power reliably. But in the last decade the utilities have installed battery storage and are satisfied that along with wind and solar, it can serve in place of base load power. There have been numerous battery storage systems installed around the world and they have paid for themselves in a few years. The battery storage systems can respond in milliseconds and can handle heavy loads for more than four hours.

Today we are seeing very large utility scale battery storage systems installed at Moss Landing, California, to replace gas turbine peaker plants. The Hornsdale Power Reserve batteries in Western Australia have solved several problems, one being transmission line congestion.


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