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Reality Intrudes Again on the Renewable Energy Delusion

By October 3, 2023Commentary

The Royal Society is a scientific body in the UK.  It took the time to commission and release a report on Britain’s attempt to go “net zero”, or have no net CO2 emissions.  This isn’t going to happen anywhere anytime, except in a few small areas that have extensive hydropower or the few sane jurisdictions committed to nuclear power.  It definitely won’t happen with wind and solar, which are expensive, unreliable and environmentally damaging in other ways.  This report, while appearing to praise wind and solar, notes that production from these sources is extremely variable.  To rely on them would require immense battery storage.  Just want to note quickly that battery production, operation and disposal is extremely harmful to the environment and as part of a system of solar and wind production, is an immensely stupid land use policy, usually converting prime farm land to energy production, and disrupting the local climate, or in the case of offshore wind, the local marine ecology.

While the authors try to portray all this in positive terms, they can’t avoid explaining the astounding amount and cost of battery storage to make an electric grid have equivalent reliability to that from fossil fuel or nuclear sources.  To show how desperate they are to make this sound feasible, they discuss storage solutions that are completely untested at scale and whose cost is currently unknown.  The trend in anything related to renewables, however, is that very low costs are projected, which turn out to be a fraction of the actual cost, particularly with subsidies.  What is unavoidable is the truth that in Britain as elsewhere is that as renewables become more and more of the source of electricity, the cost to consumers and taxpayers rises rapidly.  And that is why people have begun revolting against these plans that only benefit a few rich people getting all the subsidies.  (Royal Society Paper)

And bringing that home to Minnesota, the Center for the American Experiment released a paper recently outlining the surge in the cost of wind and solar power in Minnesota.  After subsidies, remember that, it is important because the subsidies are huge, the cost to utilities of buying solar power to the grid supplying Minnesota grew by 85% in two years, from Q1 2021 to Q1 2023, and the cost of wind power grew 77%.  The Center’s experts estimate that unsubsidized costs also grew rapidly.   Think consumers and taxpayers are eating those cost increases?  Yep.  The true cost of generation for wind and solar is far, far higher than that for coal or nuclear.  Contrary to the usual lies told by Little Timmy, electric bills are going to soar in Minnesota in the next few years and in particular, when the coal plants shut down consumers are going to see a massive increase.  Although it is equally likely there simply won’t be enough electricity as new wind and solar plants are having substantial problems.  (CAMEX Report)

Join the discussion One Comment

  • joethenonclimatescientist says:

    Leveraged Cost of Energy (LCOE) shows that Wind and Solar are by far the least expensive forms of electric generation.

    That statement is both absolutely correct and absolutely false. Failure to understand the basics of electric generation and the grid leads to many erroneous conclusions

    A) the first problem is the computation only includes the direct cost of each generation type. It omits the all the other costs associated with using a particular fuel type needed for the entire system to operate.
    B) the capacity factors for wind and solar are overstated resulting lower costs per kw that actual costs per kw
    c) capacity factors for both wind and solar are average capacity. The capacity factor in the spring and fall ( the lowest demand times of the year) are nearly twice the capacity factor in the winter and summer (the highest demand times of the year) Correcting for the seasonal difference in capacity shows the cost per kw duering the summer and winter is nearly twice the cost per kw for peaker gas.
    d) the presentation of LCOE gives the false impression that wind and solar is cheaper than peaker gas, when the reality is that neither wind or solar can provide that level of electric generation.

    Note that the demand for electricity falls into three major buckets. A) base load, B) intermediate load and C) peak load. The intermediate load is the least expensive bucket to produce whether it is coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, wind or solar. Base load is more expensive to produce and peak load is by far the most expensive bucket to produce. Fortunately its demand is only for short periods of the day, thus incremental costs of peak load is bearable.

    Unfortunately wind and solar can only produce in the middle bucket / intermdiate load which of course is the least expensive.
    Which explains that comparisons of costs (LCOE) need to be done for fuel type across the three buckets of demand so that there can be a legitimate apples to apples comparison. Instead of the deceptive use of unlike kind comparison.

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