Al Gore Claims Wind and Solar are Now Cheaper than Coal

Guest essay by Eric Worrall [See update by Willis Eschenbach at the end]

h/t Dr. Willie Soon – great news, wind power is so cheap government subsidies and market favouritism are no longer required.

New wind and solar generation costs fall below existing coal plants

Estimates jeopardise Trump’s hopes of reviving mining industry in US

Ed Crooks in New York
NOVEMBER 9, 2018

The cost of new wind and solar power generation has fallen below the cost of running existing coal-fired plants in many parts of the US, threatening to wreck President Donald Trump’s hopes of reviving the mining industry.

New estimates published on Thursday by Lazard, the investment bank, show that it can often be profitable for US generation companies to shut working coal plants and replace their output with wind and solar power.

The calculations suggest that closures of coal-fired plants are likely to continue, eroding US demand for coal and jeopardising Mr Trump’s ambition to “put our coal miners back to work”.

The falling cost of renewable energy is adding to the pressure from cheap gas and stagnant demand for electricity, which have cut US coal power output by more than 40 per cent since 2007.

Retirements of US coal-fired plants are expected to hit a record high this year, and companies including FirstEnergy and American Electric Power have in the past few months announced further closures. Many of the plants being shuttered are reaching the end of their working lives, but even some relatively new capacity is being shut because it is no longer economically viable.

Read more (paywalled): https://www.ft.com/content/af6915c8-e2eb-11e8-a6e5-792428919cee

Former Vice President Al Gore celebrated the predicted loss of coal jobs;

However the article linked by Al Gore (which in turn links to the FT article above) points out that estimates of renewable energy cost may not properly account for the cost of energy storage and additional grid infrastructure required to connect renewables.

… “Although in its formative stages, the energy storage industry appears to be at an inflection point, much like that experienced by the renewable energy industry around the time we created the LCOE study eight years ago,” said George Bilicic, vice chairman and global head of Lazard’s Power, Energy & Infrastructure Group.

Still, Lazard says that battery storage is not yet cost-competitive to the point where it can drive the “transformational scenarios envisioned by renewable energy advocates.” In that it refers to grid defection, pointing to the issue of battery life rather than capacity. But it may not be far away. …

Read more: https://www.axios.com/new-renewables-pull-ahead-of-coal-in-cost-race-1541769980-64c3378d-53c9-42cf-a354-a7221405e2b0.html

Digging deeper, the Lazard analysis contains caveats, which suggest the future may not be entirely rosy for renewables;

  • LCOS v4.0 has revealed significant cost declines across most use cases and technologies; however, Industry participants noted rising cost pressures for future deliveries of lithium-ion storage systems due to higher commodity pricing and tightening supply
    • Sustained cost declines have exceeded expectations for lithium-ion technologies, while cost declines for flow batteries are less significant but still observable
    • Future declines in the cost of lithium-ion technologies are expected to be mitigated by rising cobalt and lithium carbonate prices? as well as delayed battery availability due to high levels of factory utilization
  • Consistent with prior versions of the LCOS, shorter duration applications (i.e., 4 hours or less) remain the most cost effective for the commercially prominent energy storage technologies analyzed
    • The underlying costs and performance of commercially available energy storage technologies continue to make them most attractive for applications which improve the grid’s ability to respond to momentary or short duration fluctuations in electricity supply and demand (e.g., wholesale services such as frequency regulation and spinning reserves and use cases serving the C&I segment such as demand charge mitigation)
  • Project economics analyzed in the Value Snapshots have revealed a modest improvement year-over-year for the selected use cases, primarily reflecting, among other things, improved costs rather than rising revenues
    • As costs continue to come down, particularly for shorter duration lithium-ion applications, returns have incrementally improved year-over-year; however, in most geographies, project economics depend heavily on subsidized revenues or related incentives
    • Among the currently identifiable revenue sources available to energy storage systems, ancillary service products (such as frequency regulation, spinning reserves, etc.), demand response and demand charge mitigation represent potentially attractive revenue opportunities in selected geographies
  • Project economics analyzed for solar PV + storage systems are attractive for commercial use cases but remain challenged for residential and utility-scale projects
    • Combining energy storage with solar PV can create value through shared infrastructure (e.g., inverters, interconnection), reducing the need to curtail production by delaying the dispatch of electricity onto the grid and/or by capturing the value of “clipped” solar production (e.g., solar PV output that is in excess of the system inverter)
    • Energy storage is increasingly being sold with commercial and residential solar PV systems to provide for potentially increased customer reliability benefits and to enable customers to use solar PV production to avoid demand charges
    • The Value Snapshot analysis suggests commercial use cases for solar PV plus storage provide moderately attractive returns in the markets assessed (e.g., California and Australia) while residential solar PV plus storage and utility-scale solar PV + storage remain modest for those projects analyzed

Read more: https://www.lazard.com/media/450774/lazards-levelized-cost-of-storage-version-40-vfinal.pdf

Even if we accept the cost analysis at face value, the “cost effective” four hours battery backup really isn’t useful in the middle of winter, when your solar panels are buried under snow and your wind turbines are frozen solid. Plants capable of providing power through dark, cold and snowy winter months will still be required.

If the USA embraces renewables the way countries like Australia and the UK have, consumers will be stuck with paying for two sets of energy infrastructure – the energy infrastructure which is used when the sun shines, and the 100% fossil fuel backup kept idling, ready to step in when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing.

JoNova points out the cost of paying for two parallel sets of infrastructure is having a real impact in Australia – businesses are being hit with up to 120% increase in electricity costs during the current round of wholesale electricity negotiations, thanks to Australia’s infatuation with expensive renewables.

[UPDATE by Willis Eschenbach] I trust that Eric won’t mind if I expand a bit on his excellent post. Lazard gives a graph on page 6 of his treatise on Levelized Cost of Energy, which I reproduce below (click to expand):

Note that the cost of either unsubsidized wind or unsubsidized solar is greater than that of coal or nuclear, at both the cheap and the expensive ends of the spectrum. And that is without considering the extra costs:

• capital cost of equivalent installed fossil-fuel or other dispatchable capacity, for times when the wind or sun are not available.

• running cost of equivalent installed fossil-fuel or other dispatchable capacity, which must be kept online at very inefficient operation for times when the wind or sun are not available.

• transmission lines from the areas (generally well away from the population centers) which are suitable and large enough for wind or solar.

Starting out more expensive and adding in all of those additional costs, I’m sorry, but that dog won’t hunt.

In California where I live, the green mafia has imposed “renewable mandates”. These have, of course, made only a trivial difference in CO2 emissions, but they have increased my power cost by 50% … and don’t think for one minute that energy-intensive industries haven’t notices. They’re fleeing the state like cockroaches when you turn on the light at midnight …

Best to all,

w.

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214 thoughts on “Al Gore Claims Wind and Solar are Now Cheaper than Coal

      • He surely won’t retire from being a cardinal in the Church of Omnipotent Greenhouse In Carbon, or from being the choir director down at the Model Fellowship of Mann Chapel. He’ll support his religion for life, I’m sure.

    • It’s disappointing that Democrats have embraced ruining the American working, I.e. producing, class to accommodate these ends. Do you know how much money is going to be redistributed from this class to Gore’s class in the next decade for Wind? $40 billion. Think what that money could do for American industries that black men had numerous jobs in? Democrats DON’T care.

      • I note now that Vanguard is the major stockholder in Occidental Petroleum.
        And Vanguard, the world’s largest provider of mutual funds, is pushing companies to disclose the risks climate change poses to their business.

        • Cooling back to the level of the Little Ice Age would impact many companies.
          For some the valuation would go up.
          Sports teams might want to have covered stadiums.
          Get some cash ready to invest in construction companies.

    • You mean his withdrawal funds. Withdrawal of greasy fingers from the green gravy train of subsidies and carbon credits. He never will.

    • Idjit Gore can just pay my utility bills. And yours, too. Let’s bag them up and send him demand letters for refunds. He thinks it so wonderful, but he doesn’t pay the bills at his house. His accountant does.

      The coal-fired electric generating plant north of the state line shut down a few months ago and is being dismantled. Why? NOT TO SOLAR!!! No, the company found that natural gas was a cheaper fuel and converted to that.

      Solar/wind are NOT cheaper, NOT in the beginning and NOT in the long run. Natural gas and coal don’t break down or freeze up or get shut off by blizzards.

      Any questions?

      I want to see that fat twit Gore on a bicycle in my front yard, peddling his flabby behind off to generate power for my little house – in the middle of a blizzard. My house, my neighbors’ houses. Must be nice to live in a dream world where everything is just fine… nothing is wrong…. everything is just fine… just maintain an even strain….

      Did I sound angry? Oh. Sorry. My bad…..

  1. At a micro level, the marginal cost of producing an additional kilowatt of electricity from solar or wind is significantly cheaper, primarily because there is no fuel costs. Numerous studies show that the marginal cost of renewables is cheaper than fossil fuels.

    However, what is ignored and / or intentionally misrepresented are the fixed costs and the macro costs. As such, the overall costs of renewables remains significantly greater than fossil fuels

    • Exactly on point. At any given instant, while working, wind or solar are cheaper energy than coal, oil, or gas energy, but for reliable energy and the costs of creating a steady energy supply, requiring backup energy sources to supplement the wind and solar, the cost of renewable energy becomes ridiculously expensive. Take away the subsidies and the whole thing evaporates.

      The idea of creating battery-backup for wind and solar will be even more expensive than backup power generation and becomes the existential Don Quiote quest.

      • I note that the “study” was done in Australia and California. “Renewables” might be cheaper in those places, since they are massively subsidized and lightly regulated – while anything else is massively taxed and massively regulated.

        In a sane nation, or State, those conditions do not apply.

      • And as any engineer knows a system with more parts is usually more costly, less reliable, and demand more maintenance.
        A grid system with a few large and known reliable generators on it will always be more reliable than thousands of little intermittent generators trying to play catch-up with the load.
        You can’t make a silk dress from a thousand pig’s ears.

      • Charles Higley = November 10, 2018 at 4:16 pm

        The idea of creating battery-backup for wind and solar will be even more expensive

        Like three times (3X) as expensive, …… RIGHT?

        If you are going to provide 100% battery-backup then you also have to provide two times (2X) the wind and solar generation in order to recharge the batteries

        SO, (1) cost of battery-backup + (2) cost of wind and solar for feeding the grid + (3) cost of wind and solar for feeding the batteries.

      • Do our renewables advocates understand that energy is lost in transmitting power to the storage through line losses, then again in the transformer/inverter and then in the storage device itself as it is charging and all of this is repeated in reverse order when discharging the stored power? All of this requires even more power generated from the variably available power sources.

      • No, just wrong. Coal and gas only have a “price” because you can sell what you make from them. If you could not, then they are worth the same as the stones in your garden.

        Imagine you own the gas and build a plant to burn for electricity – how much is that gas costing you?

        • Imagine you own the gas and build a plant to burn for electricity – how much is that gas costing you?

          There are literally THOUSANDS of people who own all or a portion of the mineral (NG) rights beneath their property, who not only sell that NG to a producer …… but burn it themselves to generate electricity, heat their home, cook with, etc.

          “HA”, some don’t worry about closing their doors/windows in the wintertime, …. they just turn up the thermostat for their furnace.

    • No, the marginal cost of burning a load of gas is pretty much zero too. It really costs very little to light it up. If you own the gas there is no price to be paid either. You have the costs of extraction, based on the infrastructure you need – a well basically, which is no different from having to make a solar cell or a windmill.

      You pay for the gas if you don’t own it and are going to burn it because someone else has got it out of the ground for you and you can sell what you get from that gas for a certain amount.

      If you couldn’t sell the product of burning the gas, it would be worth zero.

  2. Is it for nameplate rating, or actual production, that wind and solar is “cheaper than coal”? Does the purported price for renewables include the cost of backup?

    • My co-authors and I wrote in 2002 that renewable energy would not adequately replace fossil fuels. Nothing has changed in the intervening 16 years. Tens of trillions of dollars have been squandered on green energy schemes that are not green and do not produce much useful energy.

      Al Gore and many other politicians are so ignorant on energy that they should not even opine on the subject, let alone set energy policy. They are imbeciles on energy.

      Wind and solar energy are too intermittent and too diffuse, and no cost-effective solutions have yet been created to solve these fatal flaws.

      Furthermore, intermittent energy schemes destabilize the electrical grid and have already caused serious total grid failures and near-misses.

      Fully 85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels and that number has not changed in decades. Eliminate fossil fuels tomorrow and most people in the developed world would be dead within a few months.

      Many greens have stated openly that they want to greatly reduce human population to a fraction of its current levels.

      Look up http://www.Green-agenda.com

      “The common enemy of humanity is man.
      In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.
      The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”
      – Club of Rome,
      premier environmental think-tank,
      consultants to the United Nations

          • Professor Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton, told journalist Rob Snow on Radio CFRA today that, contrary to rumours that investors would lose confidence in Ontario if contracts for existing wind power projects ended, nonsense—investors would have renewed confidence in Ontario now that the reckless mismanagement of the McGuinty-Wynne governments is over.
            When I thanked him for weighing in on this matter, he replied, calling the situation ‘morally unconscionable”.
            Transgenerational debt ought to be a crime.

          • Previously posted on wattsup. I am overseas and can only post from my phone.

            Cheap, abundant, reliable energy is the lifeblood of society – it IS that simple.

            Most politicians are too uneducated to even opine on energy, let alone set energy policy.

            Witness the energy idiocy of recent politicians in Western Europe, Britain, Canada, the USA, and Australia. These imbeciles have squandered tens of trillions of dollars of scarce global resources on costly, intermittent green energy schemes that are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy, all to save use from imaginary catastrophic global warming – all in a (probably) cooling world.

            Fully 85% of global primary energy is still generated from fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal. The remainder is largely generated from nuclear and hydro. Hardly any useful energy is generated from green sources, despite tens of trillions in wasted subsidies – enough money to buy too many corrupt politicians, civil servants and academics.

            Anti fossil fuels, anti pipelines, anti fracking, anti oilsands, pro green energy, etc. etc. – these scams are all promoted by the same people, all deliberately harming our economies while wrapping themselves in the cloak of phony environmentalism.

            These people are not pro-environment – many of their programs such as clear-cutting of tropical rainforests to grow biofuels, draining the Ogallala aquifer to grow corn for fuel ethanol, clear-cutting eastern US forests to provide wood pellets for British power plants, erecting huge wind power towers to slice up birds and bats, etc are ALL anti-environmental.

          • PS: Note how Chris only wants to talk about direct spending on “NEW” renewables.
            Not the money that has to be spent maintaining those white elephants, nor the money spent on the rest of the grid in order to try and compensate for the introduction of unreliable power, nor all the extra money consumers have to spend on renewable energy.

        • There is an estimate that the climate change industry is a $ 1.5 trillion per year which includes advertising, UN IPCC costs per year, as well as all the education costs related to the climate change meme plus the cost of carbon taxes plus inflation caused thereby…. etc. The types of different costs associated with this industry has to include the costs to each company of complying to the government regulations on climate change. The complete lists of different types of costs would be staggering and would eat into every part of the economy. http://joannenova.com.au/2015/07/spot-the-vested-interest-the-1-5-trillion-climate-change-industry/

          Now the cost of the green energy industry is in the US ~ 40 billion per year. Multiply that by 5 times and you get $200 billion per year for the globe. However that $200 billion is only direct subsidy cost. The total true costs of green energy (fossil fuel backup ) and spinning costs and other related costs to green energy could easily double or triple that per year leading to a figure closer to $500 billion per year.

          https://dailycaller.com/2015/02/12/feds-spend-14-times-more-on-green-energy-per-year-than-embassy-security/

          So considering both industries added together total $2 billion per year. It is not out of line to consider the total cost of both industries since 1988 (30 years ago) to be 10’s of billions of dollars. If anything I am sure these figures understate the true overall cost of these scams.

          • Thank you Alan.

            Germany has squandered almost $1 trillion on wind power alone.

            Then there is the waste of trillions more on wind and solar power in other countries and added to this is the waste of funds on biofuels – both corn and sugar cane ethanol for gasoline and Palm and other oils for biodiesel.

          • I get it MacRae, the problem is your definition of the word “squandered.” As a shill for the fossil fuel industry, you think that any money not spent on fossil fuels is “squandered.”

          • Mr Borgelt, spending large sums on “renewable energy” projects that do not actually supplant conventional power plants fits the casual definition of “squandered”. And green prayer wheels cause a major loss in raptors, which is an environmental disaster.
            And you should look up the definition of “argumentum ad hominem” somewhere else than Wikipedia, as you are indulging in one. So what subsidy mining operation do you work for, bro?

          • Halla, you’ll note MacRae says, ” waste of funds on biofuels – both corn and sugar cane ethanol ”

            Biofuels actually supplant petroleum fuels, so you can’t apply the word “squandered.”

          • I have seen estimates of the energy breakdown on biofuels, and sugar cane sorta results in useful net energy, while corn ethanol is a boondoggle, barely breaking even. Either is still a diversion from any useful energy plan.

          • Mike B

            You do not “get it” at all.

            You are just another green troll.

            One fact you can count on with the greens:
            They will lie about anything if it serves their political purpose

          • Mike, money spent on a system that not only doesn’t work, but can’t work, is squandered.

            The fact that you have to attack the man rather than his argument is proof that even you know you can’t win on the facts.

          • After calling Allan a shill for the oil companies, Mike now whines about name calling.

            Like most trolls, green or otherwise, Mike has no self awareness.

          • Mike B wrote:
            “MacRae makes his living off of fossil fuel enterprises.”

            Well Mike, that’s the first honest thing you said.

            85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels. Eliminate fossil fuels tomorrow and almost everyone in the developed world dies within a few months.

            The force that prevents certain death for you and your family is the fossil fuel industry and its hard-working people.

            You are welcome.

          • Mike, so what.
            You are implying that since he has an interest in this field, that his data must be wrong.
            Attack the data, not the man.

            If all you can do is attack the man, you are admitting that you can’t attack the data he is presenting. In other words, you have already admitted that you have lost this argument.

          • Macrae, you do not value human ingenuity. People survived quite well before the fossil fuel industry became what it is today. They will survive without it should the need arise. You not only underestimate the creativity of human technology, you are resisting diversifying the energy resources we use in order to lessen our dependence on the energy that comes from fossil fuels. You sound like the old guy that claimed that the horseless carriage was only a “fad.”

          • The costs for a utility scale wind turbine range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed.

            There are more than 58,185 land-based wind turbines operating across 43 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These turbines represent more than 90 gigawatts of energy capacity. The average capacity of newly installed wind turbines in the United States in 2017 was 2.32 megawatts

            Construction costs only – US based wind turbines: 58,185 X $4 mil = $232,740,000,000

          • Once again, Mike demonstrates that he has no connection with any reality known to science.
            People did not live well prior to using fossil fuels. Do a little bit of research. Prior to using fossil fuels most people lived on farms and had to work from dawn to dusk year round just to put enough food on the table to feed the family.

            If you think using a team of animals to farm is the easy life, you are insane.

            Fossil fuels made the easy life we live today possible.

            PS: Your claim that people will find something to replace fossil fuels represents the type of magical thinking that children and left wingers typically specialize in.

            Children outgrow it. I doubt you ever will.

          • Mike Borgelt

            Macrae, you do not value human ingenuity. People survived quite well before the fossil fuel industry became what it is today. They will survive without it should the need arise. You not only underestimate the creativity of human technology, you are resisting diversifying the energy resources we use in order to lessen our dependence on the energy that comes from fossil fuels. You sound like the old guy that claimed that the horseless carriage was only a “fad.”

            Wow! I mean, seriously WOW!!!!

            The human race chopped down and burned a great majority of the trees in the northern hemisphere in order to survive before they discovered fossil fuels.

            Fossil fuels saved our environment. Were we to go back to what you suggest we would decimate our entire environment in a matter of decades. No trees, no wildlife, no land based CO2/Oxygen exchange, no shelter no food.

            Renewables cannot save us from that. The Drax power station in Yorkshire burning American timber is clear and present evidence of that, and the wrong headed environmental policies that see’s slow growing timber used to satisfy fast growing energy needs. Wind turbines appropriate more land than can ever be justified for their output and their construction and maintenance causes more CO2 ‘contamination’ than any power station for the equivalent output ever could.

            Conversion from horses, you so inappropriately cited, to fossil fuelled farm machines saw an immediate increase of 20% – 25% crop utilisation because the horses didn’t need to be fed.

            The concept of ‘environmental living’ is illogical, immoral and anything but environmentally sensitive. We are doing the best for our environment right now by using fossil fuels, an accidentally but naturally sequestered for of carbon that is little more than plant food and a necessary component of ‘air’ that humans need to breathe, up to, and beyond 6,000 ppm if necessary.

            And whilst you accuse Allan of not having provided any evidence, I challenge you to produce any acceptable, empirically derived, field studies that demonstrate convincingly that CO2 causes the planet to warm.

            I can save you the trouble because there are none. There should be dozens, if not hundreds of studies over the past 40 years on which to predicate a seismic shift of human practises, but there are none, ever.

            Your entire premise of AGW is based on zero evidence.

    • Tom, the label on the LHS of the chart says ‘levelised cost of new-build wind and solar’, so I guess that that means its nameplate rating. As you are aware, as the actual average actual output of wind and solar is only between 10% and 40%, the ‘cost’ of an actual delivered megawatt of wind and solar from these sources (even without adding backup) is going to be between 2.5 and 10 times that shown on the chart. End of story. How do they get away with this?

      • The cost to deliver a kilowatt-hour of energy accounts for the fixed costs (the size or ultimate capacity of generators) as well as the variable costs, so the fact that the annual production by a given plant is affected by the variability of wind and, to a much lesser extent, solar is fully accounted for. It is not a “trick”.

        Keep in mind that even big fixed hydrocarbon fueled plants also do not produce 100% of their rated capacity 24/7/365 either. They undergo regular shutdowns and planned maintenance periods, as well as occasional unplanned outages too. Occasionally such plants are subject to interruptions in their fuel supply. The overall annualized production efficiency for the big hydrocarbon power plants is still significantly higher than solar or wind, but it is not 100% vs. 40%, more like 85% to 40%.

        Hydrocarbon fueled electro-mechanical power plants are far more complex than wind or solar plants, which are extremely simple machines by comparison. So such plants require more planned maintenance downtime and are much more susceptible to mechanical failure than are typical solar or wind power plants.

        The advantage still lies with hydrocarbon-fueled electro mechanical power plants, in terms of overall annualized production efficiency. Future energy storage systems will tend to reduce that advantage in the coming decades.

          • Fusion has been working since stars cranked up in the universe. It has yet to produce enough energy to scale up for commercial purposes.

          • And renewables “work” in pretty much the same way as fusion.
            As an expensive experiment, decades (at least) away from any practical application.

          • ” decades (at least) away from any practical application.????????????????”

            I’ve been heating my home with renewable (biomass) energy now for three decades.

          • Good for you Mike. Now if it’s possible, go through the calculations necessary to figure you how to expand that to 100% of the population. Oh, you also need to calculate how to provide electricity for homes, factories and cars while you are at it.

          • Mike Borgelt

            I’ve been heating my home with renewable (biomass) energy now for three decades.

            It takes around a week……OK a month, for you to burn a tree that takes 20 years to grow.

            Seriously, there’s some simple arithmetic you ought to consider before blowing your trumpet about burning the planets natural environment.

            How many trees have you torched in 30 years, and how many have you grown, or is that someone else’s job?

            Green logic at it’s finest. “I burn trees so I’m saving the planet”. How does that work even in the mind of a fantasist?

          • HotScot, let me educate you, since you are ignorant of the workings of the carbon cycle. Trees grow. Trees in the forest die. Dead trees in the forest fall down. When they fall down, they rot and release CO2. Now, all I do it harvest the dead trees in the forest that have fallen down. The only difference between the trees rotting on the ground, and the same trees burning in my woodstove, is that I don’t have to buy fossil fuels for heat. So simple even you can understand how it works.

          • PS HotScot, clearing out and utilizing the dead wood in a forest prevents wild fires like the ones ravaging California from happening.

        • Lets see, the fact that fossil fuel plants are only available 95% of the time excuses the fact that “renewables” are only available 5% of the time.

          The fact that you have to rely on technologies that have yet to be invented in order to justify your desire to squander other people’s money is more proof that even you don’t believe the nonsense you are preaching.

        • Funny, you sound like those who keep telling us that a workable fusion plant would be online in just 30 years. They have been saying that since the 50’s, when I first became interested in such things. I am still waiting.

          There is no battery technology to date that is more efficient or scales up to industrial manufacturing than current. Every new discovery comes with a 10-year to mass manufacturing warning.

        • That is absolutely incorrect. You talk about complexity. A 50 MW gas turbiner power plant consists of a single gas turbine connected to a single electrical generator and single sett of power electronics for grid connection. To make it ‘complex’ we add a steam plant for utilising what would else be waste heat. But it is still not complex, and as large machines go it is extremely reliable.

          To match such a power plant you would need around 28-30 wind turbines of name plate capacity 2.5MW. If you could come up with an energy storage scheme so you can truly match supplying 50 MW 24/7 at the same 98-99% availability the gas power plant has.

          28 wind turbines (you do know they use multistage planet gears, right? And have individual pitch on the bladet, which are themselves complex composite structures? ) with the required power electronic and control facilities for balancing generator output and connection to grid while handling energy storage and dispatch is so many orders more complex that there really are no words to describe how much in error you are. Well, there is. ‘Not even wrong’. I’m sure you can Google who said it and what it means.

  3. If as Al Gore says, wind and solar are so cheap, then they do not need subsidy.
    So end the subsidies now, and contract them to supply when needed and penalize them for not supplying when required. All penalty payments to go straight to whoever can supply when needed.

  4. Similar argument to electric cars are cheaper to run than gasoline cars. What is completely missing from the argument, wind is jumping onto an already established infrastructure built over ~100 years, has established intrinsic back-up power and tax base that is not calculated in the overall cost. Electric cars do not pay fuel taxes that help pay for this infrastructure.
    Reverse the argument, if wind power had build all the infrastructure for the past 100 years and there was a 100% tax at the electrical outlet to charge your car (to pay for roads, schools, etc). Any new technology that came along would seem cheaper as it is exempt from said overhead.

    • Drivers of cars don’t pay fuel taxes…but some places are creating separate taxes for this very reason.

      Drivers of electric cars pay more in taxes on their electric bill, which goes towards electric infrastructure though.

      • Sure, the driver doesn’t always pay, but whoever buys the gas does. In California, the tax is $0.52 per gallon and this is before a 7-8% sales tax is added. The relative tax on electricity is far less, moreover; if you have an electric car, you can qualify for special pricing plus the power company will give you rebates of up to $10K towards the purchase of one. This, and all other ‘green’ subsidies are a tax on the rest of us which is especially pernicious owing to the fake science used to justify them.

      • Since electric cars are making use of the electric infrastructure, it makes sense that they should help pay for it.
        It also makes sense that since electric cars use the transportation infrastructure, they should help to pay for that as well. They don’t.

      • Here in UK gas (petrol) is about 50p a litre plus 80p tax = £1.30 a litre. So electric cars are much cheaper to run when you charge the from your domestic electricity supply. But there is no way this will last. The government will need to recoup the lost tax as drivers change to electric cars. The latest idea I have seen is a continuous mileage tax using GPS. Similarly electric cars are much more expensive to buy than ICE cars and require subsidies. I understand that Norway is being held up as a green paragon of virtue as they run lots of electric cars. The sales are heavily subsidized by the Norwegian government – paid for by the profits from selling oil!

      • In Canada, on average we pay 38 cents per liter ($1.40 per Gallon). In Europe, I believe it is (much) more. This money build roads, schools, medical care, etc.
        Again, reverse the argument. If for the last ~100 years electric cars built said infrastructure/tax base, then someone invented the internal combustion engine, exempt from fuel taxes, received rebates, etc., it would be a lot less expensive too. Just by changing the engine, there is already ~100 years of infrastructure/R&D bought and paid for.

        • Googled fuel taxes in England as example….

          “Fuel duty is currently levied at a flat rate of 57.95p per litre for both petrol and diesel, while VAT at 20% is then charged on both the product price and the duty”

          Converting Pounds to USD including the VAT, that is 91 US cents per liter, or $3.36 dollars per Gallon. They are getting screwed over there. I would buy electric too so I could avoid all those taxes.

        • Duncan Smith – November 11, 2018 at 6:48 am

          In Canada, on average we pay 38 cents per liter ($1.40 per Gallon).

          WOW, petrol prices must have really decreased in the past 7 years. 😊 😊

          March 9, 2011 ===== The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that gas recently hit 1.40 — gas is measured in litres in this metri-cized country — at a Vancouver station in suburban Richmond. Get out your calculator and that comes out to about $5.60 a U.S. gallon. Not cheap.

          http://blogs.marketwatch.com/canada/2011/03/09/canada-gas-prices-higher-than-u-s-because-of-higher-taxes/

          • hahaha, that was only the taxes, poor phrasing on my part, it is around $1.12/liter CAD at the moment total price.

          • Yup, Duncan , ….. similar to the US, …… the government makes about 3X more profit from the sale of a gallon of gasoline than the oil companies do.

      • I couldn’t figure out what you were saying, so I had to have a read.

        bla, bla, bla… reveals that many businesses simply used the grant to save on buying regular cars.

        The majority of the tens of thousands of eligible vehicles sold were bought by company fleets, including more than 70% of the 37,000 plug-in hybrids sold so far in 2018.

        Oh!

  5. “Al Gore Claims Wind and Solar are Now Cheaper than Coal”

    And I claim to be the rightful heir to the British throne.

    Which claim is more feasible?

    • Well, your Majesty, you’d probably do a better job than Prince Charles.

      He reportedly talks to his plants and believes in green energy schemes.

      Would you care to outline your thoughts on these subjects? Consider these as qualifying questions.

      • Talking to plants, if done close up, bathes them in CO2-rich exhalations, thus helping them to grow. Even so…

        …Long live the Queen!

        • Interestingly, in the last few days he actually came out and said that he intends to shut up about such things when he becomes King. It is not obvious what prompted this sudden outbreak of sanity. I guess he probably just realised how much less time he will have for his pet projects, now that the Queen herself does rather less of the formal work.

          Perhaps some aide also let slip just how many of his subjects really don’t enjoy the prospect of him getting the top job.

  6. You cannot replace a reliable power generator with an unreliable generator. Adding 200MW average capacity
    of wind does not allow the grid to shut down 200MWs of gas power generation. And batteries do not produce power – they store power, and not very much. At best they allow for power produced in one part of the day to be shifted to another portion of the day. We’re talking hours of power storage, but the wind can die down for days and weeks, and solar can do the same. At best, solar and wind can reduce the fuel costs of the required backup power generators. But fuel costs are not the major expense of power generators – nuclear power, for example has fuel costs of 3/4th of a cent per kWhr, and roughly 5 cents per kWhr for wholesale. Molten salt nuclear reactors will truly be cheaper than any other power generation technology and can operate in load following mode, unlike curent nuclear reactors, which operate as baseload generators. The reason some nuclear plants are losing money is because a grid is sometimes forced to accept wind/solar when available in preference to nuclear. Reducing the power bought has a direct and strong effect on income, since the nuclear plant cannot power down and save any fuel. Some nuclear operators have therefore threatened to shut down their plants unless paid enough for them to operate, regardless of how much of their power is bought by the grid. Obviously shutting down the plants would put the grid at the mercy of unreliable wind and solar.

    • “Adding 200MW average capacity of wind does not allow the grid to shut down 200MWs of gas power generation”

      Unless you live in South Australia. I did a little study of the problem this year & am certain that either South Australia will have major blackouts, or Victoria will. If it happens in Victoria, they’ll cut the interconnector to SA to protect themselves & SA will end up with blackouts too. The AEMO wrote a report on the issue & had to: 1) make absurd assumptions about reducing power consumption in the face of an increasing population; and 2) talk about long-term averages instead of peak consumption. Otherwise, the problem would have been obvious.

      The problem is that from 2018 onwards, SA will have more non-dispatchable (solar & wind) capacity than dispatchable. What happens at dusk in an SA summer? That’s right, the sun goes down and the wind also stops. Without solar or wind producing anything, you need dispatchable power, which will not be insufficient to run the state (& yes, I did include the interconnector as dispatchable power, which isn’t necessarily so now that Victoria has shut down Hazelwood). Guaranteed, >50% likelihood of major blackouts through large parts of SA.

  7. Reading the entire contents of the above article, I come away with the following conclusion: wind and solar electrical energy production are now cheaper than coal-powered electrical energy production in some parts of the US . . . but only where they are not the primary electricity source 24/7/365 AND are already backed-up by existing coal, nuclear and/or hydro power generation AND do not have to pay their pro-rated share of the cost and maintenance of the nation’s electrical distribution grid infrastructure.

    Sorry, Al, but I am not impressed by cost comparisons made under such sophomoric conditions.

    • “Gordon Dressler November 10, 2018 at 4:17 pm
      Reading the entire contents of the above article, I come away with the following conclusion: wind and solar electrical energy production are now cheaper than coal-powered electrical energy production in some parts of the US”

      You are on the right track Gordon.

      Except for the key term “Levelized Cost of Electricity” (LCOE)!
      LCOE is where fossil fuels are charged speculative costs which are then applied to renewable energy producers.

      It is neither levelized nor honest accounting.

      • ATheoK, I was well-aware of the issue of LCOE when I made my post. And I think you have a misunderstanding of what LCOE means. According to the US EIA (https://www.eia.gov/renewable/workshop/gencosts/pdf/methodology_supplement.pdf ):
        “Levelized cost of electricity, as reported by EIA in conjunction with its Annual Energy Outlook
        publications, represents the average revenue per unit of energy production that would be required by a project owner to recover all investment and operating costs. It includes a specified return on investment over a specified project financial life, as well as an assumed project utilization rate. The computation for LCOE takes the following general form:
        𝐿𝐶𝑂𝐸 = ((𝑓𝑖𝑥𝑒𝑑 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟 ∗ 𝑐𝑎𝑝𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑐𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑠 + 𝑓𝑖𝑥𝑒𝑑 𝑂&𝑀)/𝑎𝑛𝑛𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠)
        + 𝑣𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑂&𝑀 + 𝑓𝑢𝑒𝑙

        Please note that “speculative costs” are found nowhere in the above calculation and that LCOE for renewable energy power plants is computed totally independent of LCOE computations for fossil fuel and for nuclear energy power plants. It is a fair method of “levelizing” and is a much more accurate means of determining the true cost of distributed energy that is the cost-per-incremental-kWh.

        I stand by my original post, as made and without need for any truncation.

  8. The Goreacle’s about as believable as his “The temperature of Earth’s core is millions of degrees™©®” rubbish. He’s too stupid to speak.

  9. The Goreacle’s about as believable as his “The temperature of Earth’s core is millions of degrees™©®” rubbish. He’s too stupid to speak.

  10. Looks like the “lower Cost” claim is not true, but the big issue is not mentioned. Wind turbine generators are bird and bat killers, and solar reflector to a target are bird burners. Why liberals are OK with this wildlife destruction is beyond me. Sometime when you drive past rows of the giant wind turbines stop and walk over to them (might be a little civil disobedience involved?) and see for yourself how fast the turbine blade tips move and see if you can find some dead birds.

  11. The article mentions the UK as a country which has embraced renewable in a big way, but doesn’t say anything about consequent increases in energy bills (it does say that Australians are facing cost hikes of 120%).

    The rising cost of energy in the UK is hidden because much of the extra cost is paid through general taxation, which pays for energy subsidies. So our energy costs don’t seem to be going up as fast as those of some countries.

    • My electricity costs were 10p/kWh a few years ago but are now 15p/kWh Simon looking to move to a different supplier, though average costs for people are difficult to work out because of differing standing charges and unit charges in the multiplicity of charging schemes available.

      The use of a standing charge discriminates against the poor and discourages efforts to economise.

  12. I know it’s heresy among you “skeptics”, but you can’t deny reality for too much longer. Renewables are simply cheaper per delivered kWH. In India 3-4c per kilowatt hour. In South Australia 7c per kilowatt hour including storage (molten salt). Coal, particularly the modern, less polluting HELE sort is not remotely competitive. Just to make it clear- This is per delivered kwh, not base plate. Nuclear, cost wise, is just a bad joke.

    Why do you think the Australian government is trying to build a coal plant, with government money? Private industry will not touch it without subsidies.

    So, when the wind doesn’t blow, nor sun shine? Reverse hydro is the most favored means at the moment, and batteries for transient spikes. Even with those added costs, it’s still cheaper. Some gas peaker plant back up will be needed for a while.

    I even include a link from the Guardian, as I know you skeptics love it so much,

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/mar/24/port-augusta-embracing-solar-thermal-a-vital-first-step-on-the-path-to-100-renewable-energy

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/india-solar-auction-attracts-16-bids-8ckwh-51456/

    Tony

    • Tony

      Can you import a Mojave desert to the UK please, cos it’s winter, dark at 5pm, pissing down right now and there’s no wind. This will go on to, say 8am tomorrow morning when it will still be pissing down, with no wind and cloud cover will make it a really miserable day.

      This is forecast for the next week or so in the London area, not unusual so, pray tell, how will wind and solar serve the 9M people of London for the next week or so, and for the rest of winter, until about May or thereabouts?

      Nor have I ever heard of reverse hydro. Pumped storage perhaps, but as most hydro is up in Scotland, some 400 or so miles away, because most of England is pretty well flat as a pancake, that’s not really an option down here.

      Battery storage, for 4 hours would cover much of the county of Kent for 9M people I suspect, but then we’ll have no farms to produce food on.

      Any other bright ideas?

      • “Nor have I ever heard of reverse hydro.”

        That is the problem. Allow me to elucidate for you.
        The Background:
        With both conventional hydro and pumped storage, both, a problem was seen. Once the water is through the turbines, it goes to the outflow and is then lost forever as it flows down river. This was rightly seen as wasteful and inefficient.
        The Solution:
        When the gravitational field surrounding the installation is carefully reversed and manipulated, the water is made to flow back up into the upper reservoir. Now, useful energy can be extracted from the water flowing in both directions.
        This is a revolutionary development and is causing huge excitement among the environmentalist and renewables crowd, as it should. Indeed, Reverse Hydro has become the “Great Cause” for a huge swath of enviros who do not know the first thing about science, engineering, and for whom basic math is as inscrutable as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

        Alternate hypothesis:
        The commenter you responded to is a NPC, a non-player character. It seems not to have any intelligence, as it quoted the Guardian as an authority on science.
        This sort of mindless behavior is almost certainly the result of a computer program running a pre-made script.

        Final note:
        There are too many Tony characters running around on this site. I have already been confused (apparently) with commenter Toneb.
        I hope to the hills I never get confused with this NPC.

        • TonyL said

          “When the gravitational field surrounding the installation is carefully reversed and manipulated”

          Seeing as we don’t really understand gravity except for it’s effects, HOW IN THE HELL WOULD WE BE ABLE TO MANIPULATE IT AND REVERSE IT? If you are talking about using energy to pump the water back up the hill, pumped hydro is still a net loss of power and is only economical because of the price differential between peak and non peak hours. The pumped water would have been wasted anyway, so in the end it is a form of load shifting and thus a net benefit. It has been around since the 1920’s and by 2024 will approach $400 billion. However as many posters below and above will have said, there are many places in the world where hydro power is not available.

        • “TonyL November 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm

          The Solution:
          When the gravitational field surrounding the installation is carefully reversed and manipulated, the water is made to flow back up into the upper reservoir.”

          Reverse the gravity field surrounding the installation? Now can you explain how can you reverse gravity?

          • Maybe however, there are some people who believe we can change the laws of physics and control gravity in the fight against climate.

          • Don’t listen to anyine who says they can change the laws of physics. Period. Full stop. You may, howevee, transcend them as such in that you can take advantage of them in heretofore unappreciated ways. Information theory is a powerful tool.

      • There is a 5-minute chart of load and power supply for parts of Washington and Oregon.
        https://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

        The green line at the bottom is for wind. It drops to zero during a good High Pressure.
        It has done so Thursday and again on Friday.
        There is a DC Intertie ( Link ) that carries current to California. On the chart, the blue line is hydro and it is used to balance the load, some of which is from outside the source area. It takes a little effort to understand all that this chart contains.
        Because it is an active chart, the no-wind-Thursday will not show up by the middle of next week.
        Wind will be back Sunday Noon until Tuesday morning. Then it goes away again, for the rest of next week.

    • Tony

      Oh, and while I’m at it; the UK government has pledged that all new cars sold in the UK by 2040 will be EV’s. They will mostly be charged at night whilst people sleep, to be ready for the next day.

      Pumped storage also works at night, it uses the excess electricity produced at night, mostly from fossil fuelled power stations which have excess capacity overnight, to pump millions of gallons back up the hill into the reservoir serving the hydro plant.

      If all that electricity is being used to charge EV’s overnight, and it’s still pissing down, with no wind, where does the electricity come from to power the pumps, to pump the water back uphill? The batteries in Kent, 400 miles away, that occupy good farmland?

      You should cancel your subscription to the guardian until they learn to do basic logic and arithmetic.

      • With about 80% of British households not having a garage to charge their car in, they are going to have a serious problem. What is the solution? Cables all over the pavements (sidewalk for USians)?

        It’s typical that this kind of problem is just overlooked in the Green Utopia ™ .

        • I have no idea of casual crime and vandalism in the UK, but I have lived some places in the US where having a charging cable out on the street would result in it not being there in the morning.

    • Damn, sorry, I almost forgot.

      The greens hate hydro power and plants are being abandoned all over the world to save the beasties…..that’s the real beasties, not the greens.

      So where are we to magic up this pumped storage you are so convinced of?

      I need to stop now, too many reasons why your daft post doesn’t make sense, quite apart from you disillusional acceptance that renewables are cheaper than convention power sources. That one really did make me giggle.

      • There are very very few sites in the world suitable for pumped storage. There are exactly none located in the entire province of Alberta, which is larger than many countries. The reason is one needs a large reservoir at the bottom of the Hydro dam as well as at the top and almost all hydroelectric schemes have a river at the bottom of the dam, not a lake.

        There are so many falsehoods stated on the subject of green energy.

        There are as yet no practical solutions to the problems of diffusivity and intermittency, which are the fatal flaws of green energy schemes.

        • And how many reservoirs would be needed and how much water would bee needed?

          There is one reservoir on the west side of Michigan near Lake Michigan with enough elevation. Said to filled at night using excess electricity supply. But doesn’t furnish very many hours of electricity supply.

          Has been purposed to use wind turbines in Lake Michigan to pump water to fill this reservoir.

          • I lived in Ludington for years. Pumped storage was an expensive build in the 70’s with lots of high paying jobs. It was built to store excess electricity produced by nuclear power at night. It generally produces power every day at peak times. Very good fishing outside the piers when generating and inside the piers when pumping.
            There are now a few token wind mills around on the local moraines that were built decades after the pumped storage.
            Surprisingly there is still a visitors center and you can hike up to the rim to look at the reservoir. Very good views from up top. Rode my electric fat bike by it this summer. Windy as hell up there.

    • Why do you think the Australian government is trying to build a coal plant, with government money?

      Why is the Australian government trying to build coal plants when renewables are so much “cheaper per delivered kWH?”

    • Why does neither story include any economic analysis for me to review? A full Life Cycle Cost Analysis? One that shows the true cost of electricity to the consumer, one that takes into account the cost of the necessary backup for when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine? Because they didn’t do one, that’s why!!! What these linked articles are showing is the results of bids for that “renewable” power. In other words, all we see is the best price bidders were willing to pay for it, which actually proves the opposite of what you said it does…
      Those bids once again prove that without the subsidies, renewable power ain’t worth s***!!! Proof that “renewable power” is neither!

      Dang, it’s tough to rant from a smartphone keyboard!

    • “…including storage (molten salt)…”

      Nobody in South Australia does molten salt storage of wind power. They ignore the problem entirely & just want someone else to provide the backup power (presently Queensland and Tasmania through the Victorian interconnector, which makes this a very vulnerable piece of infrastructure. For those that forgot, this is the interconnector that tripped when SA went as black as North Korea in 2016.

    • “…a link from the Guardian,…”

      BTW, that link from the Grauniad was for a feasibility study. It hasn’t been built; the picture was from an American prototype that never worked properly. It consumed more natural gas keeping the molten salt hot at night than it generated power.

      And as for the “large scale” solar farms in Australia (the second link), they consume gigantic amounts of land to produce tiddly amounts of power (20 MW and 56 MW). The Royalla site in the ACT took up land that should have been used for housing & instead used it for the dumbest purpose the Greens could think of.

    • I’m guessing Tony has never bothered to actually read any of the counter arguments as to how his “calculations” ignore most relevant costs.

      As usual, Tony isn’t interested in reality, he just wants his side to win so that he can get more free stuff.

      • The socialists of the world (ie: all the greenies) think that everything can be free.

        1) free electricity because of free solar and free wind
        2) free bus service paid for by the socialist government
        3) free medicare
        4) basic guaranteed income to make sure that latest iphone can be bought
        5) until the guaranteed income legislation is passed , free welfare. As a side note, the 5000 people in the caravan from Honduras were offered landed immigrant status by Mexico but they turned it down because welfare is only offered to Mexican families and it pales in comparison to some rich American welfare programs.
        6) Food banks now have become a free food source.
        7) Subsidized housing when you can get it.

    • “Tony November 10, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Why do you think the Australian government is trying to build a coal plant, with government money? Private industry will not touch it without subsidies.”

      The Australian Govn’t isn’t building coal plants anywhere. No private enterprise will build a coal fired plant because the Govn’t has made it difficult to get the approval, being tied up in greentape and lawfare as well as not being able to source finance.

    • “The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%, with some sources claiming up to 87%.
      The main disadvantage of PSH is the specialist nature of the site required, needing both geographical height and water availability. Suitable sites are therefore likely to be in hilly or mountainous regions, and potentially in areas of outstanding natural beauty, and therefore there are also social and ecological issues to overcome.” (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity )

      So, the cost impact of using PSH for level-loading of solar and/or wind energy generation is likely an increase of around 25% onto the LCOE base cost for every kWh generated by these sources and then stored via PSH . . . and that assumes one already has the hydroelectric dam and its power generators already available for such use!

      According to the same Wikipedia article, the US currently has a “nameplate capacity” of 25 GW of PSH. Against a current US average use of about 583 GW (averaged over 24 hours), this PSH represents only 4.3% of energy storage using this approach . . . not very impressive for the technology that has been available for wind and solar use for the last 25 years or more.

  13. About $3 trillion has been spent on the renewable energy effort since 2004, and the figure has now stabilized at about $300 billion for each one of the last six years. I repeat, $300 billion every year. For that we are now generating 35 GW (2017 average) from W&Solar. For a comparison, the #1 Millstone nuclear reactor – also a source of clean and green electricity, and also heat – cost $4 million, inflation adjusted. Not billions, just millions. (!)
    Gore: Coal is now more expensive than wind. Dumbo, both are entirely free. No cost. Cost is in the effort expended in extracting useful power from them. Typically, electricity and heat. The wind made electricity is incomparably more labor intensive, thus costlier. So is the grid control and distribution.

    • Stanislav Jakuba

      Evidently it takes 70 renewable workers to produce the same amount of electricity as 1 coal worker.

      Seems like a job creation scheme to me.

    • Stanislav Jakuba

      Damn. I just had a horrible thought.

      If there’s a 70/1 ratio of renewable workers to coal workers and each worker exhales roughly 40,000 ppm with each breath, we’re not going to die of CO2 poisoning, we’ll all dies of Halitosis poisoning!

  14. Given zero fuel costs, the cost of wind and solar power is almost entirely governed by the cost of money. Right now, you can borrow money very cheaply.

    If interest rates increase, the cost of wind and solar increase. The current prime rate is 5.25%. link If you double that the monthly interest costs double and the electricity produced also has to sell for twice as much just to pay for the bank loan.

  15. I wonder if they include the cost of construction and production tax credits to the investment base? Does it include the cost of backup generation? And the cost of inevitable blackouts?

    Also, does the calculation include the fact that the solar and wind produce at only one-third of capacity?

    If solar and wind are so cheap, how come some of the highest customer rates are in the countries/regions with the most solar and wind production; South Australia, Germany, Belgium, etc.?

  16. Sorry folks, I don’t know why I bothered, Tony fell down the guardian tree and hit every branch on the way down.

    Fugly mess, brain like mush, much the same as guardian columnists and its readers.

  17. Eric. in Queensland we would be okay because of Joh’s coal stations if not for a profiteering government. Elsewhere there will be three sets of infrastructure .Coal, unreliables,and batteries, the latter of which generates nothing but voltage drop,for which we must pay or else. On recent prices this will more than double prices. Coal generation costs no more than 6 cents/KWH.In far north Queensland we already pay around 34 cents/KWH Labor will be a disaster.

  18. One has to be a Grade A moron dullard to actually believe that intermittent wind and solar power can replace fossil fuel power generation at grid scale.

  19. It doesn’t matter where you look around the world, the wind and solar subsidy scams yield the same result. Disaster for business and consumers alike.

    How big is Ontario’s hydro problem? And can the Liberals, NDP or PCs fix it?

    In the summer of 2016, Ontario’s hydro crisis reached a fever-pitch.

    Struggling to keep food on the table while paying ever-increasing hydro bills, many families in Ontario simply couldn’t keep up.

    As Global News first reported, the number of customers seeking emergency funding to prevent disconnection of their electricity doubled in some communities between 2013 and 2016. Meanwhile, the number of customers cut off from their electricity by power companies during this period was more than 220,000 according to the OEB.

    https://globalnews.ca/news/4226895/ontario-hydro-election-rising-prices/

      • I have a cousin who lives there. He told me that his mothers power bill is a $1000.00 a month during the two coldest winter months of the year.

        • Your cousin’s mother must have electric heat. We paid that much a couple of years ago when our gas furnace broke down and we couldn’t get it repaired for a month, Not including the cost of 8 space heaters, of course.

          In Ontario we have reliable electricity, thanks to the foresight of governments when they did sensible stuff, so in 2017 the total actual kWh delivered was 63% nuclear, 26% hydro and 4% gas. That’s 93%, and wind power made up 6% and solar/biomass 1%. So those billions spent on green energy has been mostly just window dressing.

          The liberal governments that engineered this disaster, at least knew enough not to try and shut down the nukes. Yet.

          • Yes, she has electric heat. Doug Ford has a real mess on his hands that will take some time to straighten out. If it can be.

      • Of course not. We pay for health care with taxes.

        But if you can find a single Canadian who wants to ditch our hybrid system (most medical services are delivered by private clinics, private MDs and non-profit hospitals, and paid for publicly) in favour of fully private-sector health care, let me know. I’d like to meet him/her.

        • Just remember Socialism works great, until you run out of other people’s money.
          Yes, it’s great being able to push most of your health care costs off onto someone else.
          That only works while other people are willing to help you. When they get tired of the load, the system collapses.

          • ‘Yes, it’s great being able to push most of your health care costs off onto someone else.’
            It’s the same payment system health insurance companies use. Now, how ever, in the U.S. Health insurance plans are like buying a car except the car company only sells only luxury models do to required mandates and regulations imposed by states and federal government.

          • That’s why ObamaCare had to include the mandatory part.
            You can’t let those who are paying other people’s bills get out of the system.

        • Smart Rock November 10, 2018 at 8:34 pm

          But if you can find a single Canadian who wants to ditch our hybrid system (most medical services are delivered by private clinics, private MDs and non-profit hospitals, and paid for publicly) in favour of fully private-sector health care, let me know. I’d like to meet him/her.

          Easy. Details here. From the link:

          52,513 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment in the U.S. and other countries in 2014, a 25 percent jump from the roughly 41,838 who sought medical care abroad the previous year.

          In citing those numbers in its 2015 report, “Leaving Canada for Medical Care,” the organization said difficulties in obtaining timely medical care at home is, increasingly, leading Canadians to seek it abroad. “It is possible [they] may have left the country to avoid some of the adverse medical consequences of waiting for care, such as worsening of their condition, poorer outcomes following treatment, disability, or death,” the report says. “Some may leave simply to avoid delay and to make a quicker return to normal life.”

          Or here. From the link:

          It’s not just long wait times that have some Canadians shopping for medical care out of the country. Canada is home to just over 35 million people, and with a population that small, there aren’t always enough specialists to cope with demand. This leads some patients to seek consultations and advice outside of Canada to access a greater range of facilities and specialists, and to tap into a greater pool of expertise.

          Sue Morin, 40, a remote administrative assistant from Ottawa, began experiencing unexplained pain in 2002. She became frustrated by Canadian doctors’ lack of answers and over-reliance on prescribing pain medications, and decided to seek a second opinion overseas after finding they weren’t taking her symptoms seriously enough.

          For about $10,000 Canadian dollars, she was able to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, stay in a hotel for two weeks, pay for meals, undergo medical tests and have consultations and interviews with doctors and staff. She returned to Canada with a written report of their findings, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and a recommended treatment plan. The treatment plan was then followed in Canada under her prepaid provincial health care coverage. For Sue, having answers and a clear plan moving forward was worth the cost.

          I can provide lots more, but that will do for now …

          Regards,

          w.

        • It ain’t free, and it ain’t sustainable. Insurance premiums don’t come close to covering costs of medical care (or should I say care plus immense administrative burdens at all levels). Costs are quickly growing as a percentage of tax revenue, eclipsing all other costs very soon if not already. Yes, affordable, covers pre-existing conditions, not drugs, and the “third rail” of politics. More admins than practitioners, unfortunately. There’s something immoral about bankruptcy resulting from childbirth, cancer or MS, so I love our Canadian system for taking care of THAT.

  20. I always thought that wind and solar were intermittent, unreliable, expensive and needed subsidising and coal-powered backup.

    But now I have learnt from impeccable and impartial sources like Big Al and an investment bank that the opposite is true.

    What a relief!

    • Is there enough Lithium on the planet to build all those batteries?

      Like any mineral commodity, the supply just depends on the price that people will pay for it.

  21. In Australia, Dr Finkel published a report for the government on the levelised costs of new generators in AUD$, multiply by 0.71 for US$:
    Wind A$ 92/MWhr (no backup)
    Large Solar A$91/MWhr (no backup)
    Large solar with 12 hours backup A$172/MWhr (still not enough for winter)
    Gas turbine A$83/MWhr
    Coal A$76/MWhr

  22. “They’re fleeing the state like cockroaches when you turn on the light at midnight …”

    Not exactly a metaphor I’d use for people and companies who are doing the sensible thing. More like people running the opposite direction from lemmings heading over a cliff.

  23. Note that the cost of either unsubsidized wind or unsubsidized solar is greater than that of coal or nuclear

    I think this comparison is unfair.

    What is not mentioned here is the subtext to the illustration. It says:
    “Represents the marginal cost of operating, fully depreciated coal and nuclear facilities, inclusive of decommissioning costs for nuclear facilities”

    The key words are fully depreciated coal and nuclear facilities

    They are comparing the alternatives of continuing to use existing fully depreciated coal and nuclear plants with the operating cost and capital cost of new renewables.

    This comparison is ok as long as you know the purpose. What it illustrates is whether it makes sense to replace good existing conventional plants with renewables.

    However, the existing plants have a finite lifetime. When they need to be replaced you must take the capital cost of building the coal or nuclear plants into consideration.
    /Jan

  24. If renwables were free they still wouldn’t be good value being part time power.
    Grids need reliable and assured source of supply. Do these analysts actually understand how a power grid system works?

  25. All those wild fires must have blown some dope smoke into Al Gore’s
    property .
    Well at least no one is going to freeze to death in California
    unlike Europe where fuel poverty is rampant .
    As a result of the con game global warming electric rates are at least
    double what they should be .
    Another inconvenient truth .

  26. The cost of renewables may be less by some calculations.
    The market value of this energy is negative, as discovered by Germany and Ontario Canada.
    The utility has to be forced to buy it and then must pay to get rid of it. It is most often available when it is not needed and unavailable at peak demand.

  27. Back in the mid 1980’s even the UK government understood that a small mountain of mined coal at the power station was a very efficient energy storage mechanism, helping to see off a miner’s strike lasting many months.

    In those days the communists seeking to prevent normal generation of electricity to bring about their chosen societal changes were represented by coal mining union leaders, not environmentards. It’s amazing how much can be unlearned in just a few years.

  28. Its Levelized Costs again…

    Here is how you calculate them.

    Write down by year all the cash flows going out from the installation, over the whole of its forecast life. In the early years these will be capital, in the later years maintenance.

    Take the NPV of these cash flows, using whatever discount rate is applicable to your organization. It should reflect the real cost of money for your organization.

    Now take the total amount of electricity the installation will generate through its useful life. To do this you’ll have to estimate average capacity factor.

    We now have a total expense figure adjusted for the time value of money. We also have a total quantity of electricity. So to get the levelized costs, we just divide the quantity of electricity produced into the discounted cost number. We then end up with $ per MW.

    As soon as this is explained, it becomes obvious why its absurd. If you do the sums for a coal plant and a wind farm, you may well find the wind farm has a lower cost per MW. But if you are a utility company, does this mean it costs less to install and run?

    No, because you have left out whatever it takes to make the two systems comparable in performance. To do these kinds of cost comparisons correctly, you have to first define performance and then make sure that cash out covers all of the required costs to deliver it.

    In the case of wind you will have to include the costs of storage and backup. There is a term for this in the case of storage, its ‘levelized cost of storage’, but you have to include backup plant as well. You will also have to include all the costs of deployment, transmission lines and so on.

    When you do this, it turns out that no forseeable reductions in the capital cost of installing the wind turbines, or even the (falling) costs of battery storage, will make the NPV of wind, correctly calculated, cheaper or even comparable to that of conventional.

    The underlying assumption that the use of the levelized cost parameter makes is that it does not matter to its value when electricity is produced. Deliver it with any sort of fluctuations you want, it is equally valuable. So suppose the wind plant delivers as a percent of rated capacity, by day, something like this:

    100%
    50%
    7%
    25%
    75%….. and so on, throughout the 30 year life.

    The assumption is that this stream of generation is worth the same as output from a conventional plant which generates its output at a constant rate except for scheduled outages. That is what is implied by just taking the totals generated and dividing. This is why you need the backup and storage cash flows to be included. You have to compare like with like before you can conclude that one form of generation is cheaper than the other.

    All of this is standard financial stuff, used by the planning and finance departments of all Fortune 500 companies, taught in all business schools all over the Western world. Everyone who is involved with any sort of investment appraisal knows it. Everyone who has ever had to put together a business case has had to do it like this.

    If you insist on not taking storage and backup into the cash flows, then there is a legitimate way to calculate the returns and compare them. This would be to do the other part of the case, calculate revenues from sales. If you did this, you’d find out how much the irregular deliveries would sell for when delivered. This will give you yearly revenue estimates for the life of the project. Subtract costs by year from the revenues by year, discount the result, and you know forecast profitability.

    Obviously no-one ever does this, because it will show that wind without storage and backup is unsaleable and terminally unprofitable.

    So the question is: why do intelligent academics, often with finance backgrounds, come up with something as absurd as the levelized cost comparitor? Why does Ars Technica and the Guardian keep using it as the basis for the claim that renewables are cheaper? I cannot avoid the conclusion that its simple deliberate intellectual dishonesty.

    Wind generation, in an open market, is simply unsaleable to power suppliers. You’d have to pay them to take it.

    • “So the question is: why do intelligent academics, often with finance backgrounds, come up with something as absurd as the levelized cost comparitor?”

      Well it’s like this with the unreliables. To have a level playing field you’d have to mandate that no supplier of electrons to the communal grid could supply anymore than they could reasonably guarantee (ie short of unforeseen mech. breakdown) 24/7 all year round. That way in order to lift their average tender they’d have to invest in storage or partner with thermal and pay them their just insurance premia or some combination of the two.

      But here’s the rub. Who among all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are going to tell all the mums and dads with rooftop solar, if you can’t guarantee the electrons you can keep them and that’s before the taxpayer has to compensate all the big solar and wind generators for changing their contractual rules. Oops sorry folks we got it wrong aint gunna happen and consequently Australia’s national grid heads for the inevitable train wreck as the coal fired stations expire one after the other.

  29. Wind is becoming quite popular with Midwest farmers and government subsidy farmers whether in energy production or climate research. You’d think that farmers of all kinds could get enough subsidies, but apparently not. De-subsidize energy.

  30. If those who can prove Gore is lying or misleading the public in his own interests, why cannot someone take him to court.
    He is doing a disservice to his Country and its people ànd is costing them.

  31. EIA generation production cost estimates clearly identify the misleading nature of trying to compare dispatchable and reliable generation production cost resources including coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro with non-dispatchable, unreliable and highly subsidized renewable generation. Renewable energy advocates and media hide these critical performance and cost differences which misrepresent the higher costs and reliability degradation which high levels of renewables place on electric grid operation.

    The latest EIA production costs data can be found here: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

    Key reservations about the misleading comparison of dispatchable and non-dispatchable production costs by EIA are noted as follows:

    “Because load must be balanced on a continuous basis, generating units with the capability to vary output to follow demand (dispatchable technologies) generally have more value to a system than less flexible units (non-dispatchable technologies), or than units using intermittent resource to operate. The LCOE values for dispatchable and non-dispatchable technologies are listed separately in the tables, because comparing them must be done carefully.”

    “The direct comparison of LCOE across technologies is, therefore, often problematic and can be misleading as a method to assess the economic competitiveness of various generation alternatives because projected utilization rates, the existing resource mix, and capacity values can all vary dramatically across regions where new generation capacity may be needed.”

    “Federal tax credits for certain renewable generation facilities have the potential to substantially reduce the realized cost of these facilities.”

    “Production Tax Credit (PTC): New wind, geothermal, and biomass plants receive 24 dollars per megawatthour ($/MWh); technologies other than wind, geothermal, and closed-loop biomass receive $12/MWh.”

    “Investment Tax Credit (ITC): New solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal plants are eligible to receive a 30% ITC on capital expenditures if the plants are under construction before the end of 2019, after which the ITC tapers off for new starts to 26% in 2020 and to 22% in 2021.”

  32. Wind and solar power can easily be made cheaper than coal and gas. First you handicap coal and gas by slapping a carbon tax on them. Next you incorporate the extra infrastructure costs in general costs rather than on the renewables bill. Finally you omit the cost of subsidies specifically paid to coal and gas plants to keep them on line as back up for wind and solar. Job done. See how cheap it is?

  33. It would clear the air if a proper cost comparison was published. I have read several Australian ones that negligently ignore or downplay factors such as government requirements to favour renewables. Geoff.

  34. U.K fuel tax is on use, not the fuel. If you make your own bio diesel, you still have topay the tax. If you work out how touse water as fuel, then you must pay the tax on it. Sothose who use electricity as fuel are liable for the tax on it.

  35. If Al Gore is right then we no longer need to subsidize returnables. Al Gore also claims that climate science is settled so we no longer need to fund climate science.

  36. I don’t believe anything Al Gore tells us.

    The only way wind and solar are cheaper is with the subsidies. Remove those and they ain’t even close to matching the cost of coal.

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