Sierra Club Exec on Energy: Exactly Backwards

Reposted from MasterResource

Carl Pope on Energy: Exactly Backwards (old-school alarmist in denial)

By Robert Bradley Jr. — November 3, 2021

At a time when the anti-environmental climate movement should be collapsing alongside renewable energy, the Old Guard is doubling down. And Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, is in denial as judged by his recent op-ed in Salon, “Is there an ‘energy crisis’? Not really — fossil fuels are collapsing, and it’s high time (October 25, 2021).

Pope’s subtitle says it all: “Why are energy prices spiking? Mostly because we’re not making the transition to wind and solar fast enough.” That’s exactly wrong as blackouts and conservation alerts in Texas, California, and around the world demonstrate.

Pope’s essay follows in blue with my comments.

The Economist calls it “The Energy Shock.” Forbes and the Wall Street Journal go further, resurrecting a term from the 1970s: “Energy Crisis.” The media is hyperventilating.

Comment: The media’s “hyperventilating” is understandable. This was not supposed to happen. Energy shortages and price spikes are an ‘energy crisis’. Maybe not for wealthy Carl Pope but for the average person.

But what is going on, really? I’d describe it as the first fossil fuel collapse of the clean energy transition, or even as proof that cleaner and faster means cheaper and stable energy.” That’s quite different from the Economist subhead, which pushes the idea there are “grave problems with the transition to clean energy.”

Comment: Did he read The Economist article? It was just the opposite–the first energy crisis in the “transition” from dense reliable energies to dilute, intermittent ones. The Economist may be stuck in the climate alarmist camp, but they know an energy problem when they see it.

What does the evidence show? First, renewable wind and solar increased their contribution to global energy supply by a record 8% in 2021, providing 8,300 TeraWatt hours (TWH) of clean, cheap power. Wind generation globally grew by 17%, in spite of poor winds in parts of Europe. Overall, renewable power delivered 30% of the world’s electrons in the first year of pandemic recovery. 

CommentRenewables growth is exactly the problem. More reliance on unreliables and the premature retirement and lack of new investment in reliables created electricity shortages.

This clean energy growth occurred despite the fact that governments provide $600 billion per year to subsidize the use of fossil fuels. This new wind and solar power was cheaper than coal and gas in virtually every case. Indeed, the only major exceptions — meaning economies where fossil fuel generation is still cheaper than renewables — are Russia and Mexico (cheap gas), along with Japan and Indonesia (cheap coal).

Comment: That $600 billion is mostly on the transportation (oil) side, not the electricity side. Sure, get rid of the true subsidies–and do it for wind and solar also to see who wins in a fair field.

Current spikes in energy prices are primarily the result of market manipulation, which is hampering an adequate response to rapid economic recovery from the pandemic. We’ve seen this play before. A similar set of price spikes followed the 2008 financial crisis: Oil prices jumped by 68%, seaborne coal by 88% and U.S. natural gas by 33%. Indeed, volatile prices that jump up and down dramatically are normal for fossil fuels. For the last 15 years, the Brent oil price index and the U.S. Henry Hub gas benchmark have both varied year to year by more than 20% — and the Newcastle index for exported coal has leaped by a shocking 47% in an average year. 

Comment: “Manipulation”? The old bogey man returns.

Unlike fossil fuel energy, renewable power displays intrinsic price stability. Even a partial market share for renewables reduces an economy’s vulnerability to fossil-fuel price volatility, and the larger that share grows, the greater the buffer. Electric utilities in Sweden, because of that country’s large renewable power share, don’t much care about the price of gas.

Comment: Please take a lesson in Electricity 101. Sudden drop-offs in supply cause price spikes and shortages. Price spikes made electricity unaffordable. Less wind and solar and more baseload/peak generation can solve the price/shortage problem. At this point, retirements of wind and solar are needed.

The biggest single factor in the market failure we see at the moment is manipulation: The consortium of oil-producing nations known as OPEC+ has withheld crude oil, while Russia has restricted exports of natural gas. Massive pre-pandemic losses on shale gas and oil has deterred investors, understandably enough, from renewing their commitment to rapidly depleting shale wells. Energy markets overall are inadequately designed and lack buffers against volatility caused by factors like these. 

Comment: Again, the bogeyman of manipulation. More domestic production of oil and gas is the obvious strategy against OPEC, right?

A second major challenge has come from weather disruptions caused by climate change: Floods have obstructed coal production in India; hurricanes have shut down oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico; winds have been lethargic in Europe. This problem will increase as we see more climate-related supply chain issues in critical parts of the world. Texas gas production will be affected by more hard freezes, droughts will shut down coal plants in China and India, and floods may well close coal mines in Australia. 

Comment: How convenient! Climate change requires anti-fossil-fuel policies to save oil, natural gas, and coal from themselves. Mr. Pope, can you quantify how much reduced carbon-based energy will reduce ‘climate change’ in the next year, next decade, or by the turn of the century?

The final problem is underinvestment. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the world is investing only half as much overall in cheap new power sources as is required by a growing global economy. One factor in this capital strike is large-scale collective unfamiliarity with the dynamics of an energy transition, and a persistent but incorrect belief that a slow and gradual transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable power will be safer and more affordable. In reality, essentially the opposite is true: The faster a country or region (or the world, for that matter) increases its stock of wind turbines and solar panels, the cheaper its energy bills become and the less exposure it has to the volatility associated with generating power with coal, oil or gas.

Comment: So it is our fault that we did not have more wind and solar at the ready? No, the fault lies with inadequate investment in mineral energies and too much investment in wind, solar, batteries, etc. Remove the subsidies, and let the investment community make it own decisions.

So the solutions for today’s energy bottlenecks are quite different than conventional wisdom. The Economist, for example, correctly argues that market reforms are needed to prevent small shifts in supply and demand from producing huge price swings. It correctly endorses the IEA position that we are not investing enough in energy overall to power growing economies. 

Comment: Ditto: more for oil/gas/coal and less for wind/solar/batteries.

But the magazine then goes on to argue that  “Many countries … need gas to be a bridge fuel … as they ditch coal and before renewables have ramped up.”

Comment: Yes, natural gas but we need the entire basket of fossil fuels as a bridge away from ruinous wind and solar.

In fact, if time and capital are in short supply, renewables beat gas as gap-fillers, hands down. Solar panels and wind turbines go up faster than gas plants, and far faster than terminals to handle liquefied natural gas (LNG). Vietnam, realizing it would be unable to meet its goals for new coal plants, shifted its major investments to solar power and increased its generation capacity by 25% in two years. That also drove down the cost for its next round of solar investments. If the world has a genuine shortage of generating capacity, fossil fuels come online too slowly to remedy that problem — but renewables do not.

Comment: Renewables are price-spikers. They are shortage energies. The future belongs to the efficient, not the inefficient.

The most important lesson from this energy shock is that the conventional, gradual path to renewable energy is risky, not safe. A slow transition extends the period during which fossil fuel shortages or other volatility drivers can erupt, and stretches out the process by which expanding clean energy capacity lowers energy costs. Increases in the cost of gas afflict Norway and Sweden, with grids powered more than 50% by renewables, far less than Belgium and the Netherlands, which are still overwhelmingly dependent on coal and gas.

Comment: Again, which energies are the reliables and which are the unreliables? Doubling down or quadrupling down on failure is more failure, not less.

Investing more ambitiously in the cheapest, most secure and least volatile energy sources — which chiefly means wind and solar power — and embracing rather than slow-walking the energy transition, is the key to ending this supposed energy crisis. It will minimize the economic costs of future price volatility, begin to solve the climate crisis and largely eliminate the curse of air pollution.

Comment: Carl Pope. Read Vaclav Smil. Be energy realistic. The obvious solution to energy crises are consumer-chosen, taxpayer-neutral, pro-freedom energies.

Final Word

The final word does not belong to Carl Pope. He needs to change course and realize that the gargantuan wind/solar bet has hurt the Planet and injured the least able to afford modern energy. David Middleton stated:

The world is already in an “energy crisis” of sorts due to the tremendous misallocation of capital from functioning energy infrastructure to mythical energy infrastructure. This has largely been driven by the false perception that a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to save our planet (cue George Carlin). As if this wasn’t bad enough, the COP 26 path “to net-zero emissions” is “paved with” nothing other than “bad assumptions”.

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John
November 3, 2021 10:34 pm

Sierra Club are full of Los Angeles finest hypocrites

they drive their Ferrari’s
fly everywhere in their Gulf Stream Jets
accidentally shoot people on their movie sets
eat caviar
water lawns with precious limited water

and believe their BS that they need to save the world by donating to green low carbon energy and send donations to the Sierra club (similar to a hail merry for your sins on sunday)

obviously the chairman needs to keep the sinners paying so he can travel to events like COP 26 and live the life style of his rich and famous donnors

SxyxS
Reply to  John
November 4, 2021 3:03 am

Some of them drive Teslas as this is the easiest way to carbon shame
others while virtue signalling at the same time.
Beverly Hills 9cO210

PS
Please no Jokes about Mr Baldwin.
It turned out that the bullet he shot was co2 neutral
and the green haired child he hired as gun expert to save a dime
selfidentifies as 57 year old iraq war veteran.
So everything is fine.

Zig Zag Wanderer
November 3, 2021 10:38 pm

The problem with unreliables is that there are not enough unreliables.

The problem with socialism is that it not socialist enough.

The problem with government cock-ups is that there’s not enough government.

The problem with…. Etc, etc, etc.

I really wish that we could split countries into two, and let the unreliable-lovers live their best life on 100% cheap, reliable unreliables, and the rest of us could carry on with reliables. I mean, 97% of people think they are needed and want them desperately (according to the shouty people), so there would only be 3% of us burning expensive unreliable fossil fuels, Shirley? Problem solved!

Last edited 10 months ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Redge
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
November 4, 2021 12:20 am

You’d get a lot of defections from the left side of the country to the right side of the country as the left would have to give up their comfortable lifestyles and live without mobile phones, cars etc

It would be worse than the USSR was – at least under the USSR the peasants had district heating.

Last edited 10 months ago by Redge
MarkW
Reply to  Redge
November 4, 2021 9:19 am

Good fences make good neighbors.

Mr.
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
November 4, 2021 9:58 am

Great comment.

Instead of endless modeling about how great life will be when just wind & solar provide baseload power, why don’t the proponents volunteer to live in a “proof of concept” country to show the world how well it all works.

Oh wait – Germany . . .

Philo
Reply to  Mr.
November 7, 2021 4:07 pm

How can anyone call for wind and solar to provide baseload power when it either comes in bunches(wind), or drops out just when the evening demand starts!

Tom Halla
November 3, 2021 10:40 pm

Carl obscenity Pope is ignoring Texas last Febuary. Subsidy mining led to some thirty percent of the base grid supply being wind, which of course dropped off to near zero in freezing rain. Add in the demand spike caused by heat pumps in cold weather, the conventional portion of the grid was stressed.
Yahoos like Pope would blame gas for the failure, but lack of investment in gas or coal or nuclear was the major cause of the near crash of the Texas grid. Bit of course Pope does not care if people end up freezing in the dark.

PCman999
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 3, 2021 11:11 pm

And also the stupid push for reduction of carbon emissions that lead the pipeline company to switch from powering the pumps with ‘green electricity’ from the wind turbines instead of the super cheap wholesale price natural gas in the pipeline itself – that forced the pumps to stop when the turbines froze and the electrical grid collapsed.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  PCman999
November 4, 2021 3:14 am

wow, I didn’t see that in the MSM

David Long
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 4, 2021 1:24 pm

When Texas deregulated its electricity market in the early 2000s, making supply and demand the primary forces for the price of power and increasing competition, wholesale power prices fell. That made it cheaper to electrify natural gas compressor stations and other equipment rather than the traditional method of using the natural gas produced in the field to run the compressor’s turbines or engines, energy experts said.

Reliance on electricity, however, made the state’s electric power system a loop rather than a chain: Electricity relied on natural gas production, and natural gas production relied on electricity.

https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/18/texas-winter-storm-blackouts-paperwork/

MarkW
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 4, 2021 8:00 am

If the entire surface of the planet was covered with solar panels and wind farms, and if we had super conducting transmission lies to carry the power generated to where ever it was needed. Then wind and solar could work.

Of course there wouldn’t be any room left for humans, animals, or plants. But who cares, CO2 would be going down, so all is good.

Independent
November 3, 2021 10:46 pm

The faster a country or region (or the world, for that matter) increases its stock of wind turbines and solar panels, the cheaper its energy bills become and the less exposure it has to the volatility associated with generating power with coal, oil or gas.

I see it’s opposite day for somebody.

RickWill
November 3, 2021 10:47 pm

renewable wind and solar increased their contribution to global energy supply by a record 8% in 2021, providing 8,300 TeraWatt hours (TWH) of clean,

That statement is error riddled. In 2020 wind globally produced 922TWh and solar 433TWh.

That is out of a total energy of 160,839TWh. So 0.84% of all energy requirements. So out by a factor of TEN.


The two large errors result from referring to hydro and biofuels as solar and wind then assuming that electricity is the only energy requirement. So far wind and solar have not achieved just 1% of humanity’s energy needs.

Then there is the throw away term “renewable”. It is false advertising. Intermittent wind and solar are unsustainable forms of electricity generation. They consume more energy than they can delivery into an on-demand power network.

lee
Reply to  RickWill
November 3, 2021 11:39 pm

So an increase of 8% on 0.8% would be 0.86%. He was talking increase not the amount supplied.

RickWill
Reply to  lee
November 3, 2021 11:46 pm

It does say increase but I observed the error in the claimed 8300TWh, which is not 1355TWh for just wind and solar.

PCman999
November 3, 2021 11:04 pm

“cheapest, most secure and least volatile energy sources — which chiefly means wind and solar power”
How can this Climate Jehovah’s Witness preacher say that with a straight face? Output that goes up and down radically with every gust of wind or cloud passing over is not reliable. Come nightfall or a change in the weather and renewable energy stops dead.
Renewable energy is cheap because it is garbage – all renewable contracts should include appropriate backup and no forced mandates or money for curtailment.

Doonman
Reply to  PCman999
November 4, 2021 12:08 am

I installed a 7.5KW solar system for $40,000 six years ago and I keep track of how much I generate. So far, I have produced 43,020 KWh. That works out to $0.93 a KWh, so it appears that my estimated payback time of 7.8 years was overly optimistic.

But I also noticed that I produce 0 KWh at night at anytime.

I did get a US Government tax credit. However, the term “cheapest” power is nowhere to be found in the discussion or the results.

Ed Fox
Reply to  Doonman
November 4, 2021 5:43 am

At least you have the gumption to admit your mistake.

Have you costed in interest on the $40 k that you could have invested and used the earnings to buy oower instead?

Also the cost of depreciation on the panels as they age?

MarkW
Reply to  Ed Fox
November 4, 2021 8:06 am

Or the cost of maintenance.

Doonman
Reply to  Ed Fox
November 4, 2021 10:58 am

All the minor stuff extends the payback time. But ever increasing electrical rates decrease it. So I figure it will be at least 12 years before payback.

The true value of the system comes from virtue signaling. I can argue all day about the fallacies of global warming. When accused of being a climate denier, I point at my solar system and ask the accusers, “Where’s yours?”

That shuts them up immediately. And that is priceless.

Mr.
Reply to  Doonman
November 4, 2021 11:29 am

Expensive way to make a point against people who have no clue wtf is going on anyway?

But glad to hear you demonstrate commitment of your convictions.

I just get depressed that we have to keep presenting rationality to people who are either so thick they probably have trouble with shoe laces, or they’re so perfidious they will swear on their childrens’ lives that 0 + 1 = 1.5

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Doonman
November 4, 2021 6:55 pm

You could use fake panels.

John
Reply to  Doonman
November 5, 2021 12:28 am

here in WA when solar was new the government gave you a large rebate and 27c/kwh feed in tariff

after rebates my 3kw system cost me 15K AUD

I only got a few free power bills saved about average of 200/quarter 800 per year

after 10 years saved 8000 $ but lost feed in tariff – now only 7c/kwh

so now down 8k

looked like break even but the power companies changed things like supply charge from 15$/quarter up to 95$/bimonthly

jumped charge per kwh from about 12c to 26c

now my power bill costs more than it cost before solar

nobody can do the maths

to make it work you would need about a 10kw system but limited to 6kw

and finally to add insult to this they are now saying take up has been so effective they are going to stop any buy back

telling you to install a battery or some stupid reverse cycle heat pump when my direct solar hot water heater is far more efficient

this is just ongoing greenwash

John H
Reply to  Doonman
November 4, 2021 8:52 am

My 1.25kw system cost £700 self installed and not Govt certified using cast offs from the Greenies who wanted to upgrade, On target to payback in 5 years. I also have a box that diverts any surplus to a immersion water heater so no one pays for my excess at stupid high rates.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Doonman
November 4, 2021 6:53 pm

$40,000 invested conservatively in the S&P 500 in 2015 index would be worth well in excess of $110,000 as of last month. Add in a further 8% of $110,000 for the past month.
Those panels will never give you more power than you could have bought with the earning power of your original 40k.
Here in Florida 7.5 KW of panels is expected to make about 10.2kWh per year;853 kWh per month, 28.1kWh per day.
I have a power bill right here.
I pay 0.0760 for each of the first 500kWh,
0.0864 for the second 500 kWh
0.971 for the rest of my June usage of 2,154 kWh
Also about 6/10th of a cent per kWh for power cost adjustment and some taxes.

My modest 1700 home in Florida used 3153kWh. 102 kWh per day when average temp was a humid 88°
The gains on the 40K will easily pay any power bill ad infinitum, and you still have the 40k, and intact roof, and the left over money you earned extra.

John
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
November 5, 2021 12:32 am

i wish i only paid 7.6c we pay 26c in Western Australia plus 2600 per year supply charge

MarkW
Reply to  PCman999
November 4, 2021 8:04 am

Like most social warriors, he assumes that other people are just too stupid to know what’s good for them.
Therefor it is OK to lie to hoi poloi in order to get them to do what the social warrior wants.

Doonman
November 3, 2021 11:36 pm

A second major challenge has come from weather disruptions caused by climate change

Uh, excuse me, but climate is defined as 30 years of weather.

Which means that his explanation cannot possibly be the result of cause and effect. Which also means that its not a major challenge at all, unless living in a fantasy is a major challenge.

Redge
November 4, 2021 12:27 am

Off-topic:

Sky News is reporting the Orkneys have become the first part of the UK to go completely renewable.

The Orkneys population of 22,000 is served by 650 wind turbines

What Sky doesn’t tell us is scaling up to the whole of the UK would mean its 70,000,000 inhabitants would need 2,000,000 of the damned things.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Redge
November 4, 2021 1:18 am

The Orkneys have not become completely renewable. This misreporting is caused by a misunderstanding of the nonsense put out by windfarm apologists. Orkney produces over 100% of its electricity requirements on an annual basis but most of this power is exported to the mainland for use in the national grid. When the wind does not blow in Orkney, the electricity comes from Britain’s national grid. If the connection to the grid fails, there is a standby diesel generator for backup.

This same nonsense has been reported for Scotland as a whole. Scotland produces 100% of its annual electricity use from renewables, mainly wind. But most of the power from Scotland’s wind turbines is exported to England. The majority of Britain’s wind turbines are located in Scotland. So Scotland is being despoiled by thousands of these detested bird mincing monstrosities for no benefit to Scotland.

If you think about it for a minute, how could any location anywhere be completely self sufficient on wind since wind is unreliable?

Redge
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 4, 2021 1:20 am

Yes, I know, Bill, it’s the usual Green Wash

Dennis
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 4, 2021 2:35 am

Reminded me about the Australian Capital Territory and Capital Canberra where the Federal Government’s Parliament House is located.

The ACT Government claims that the ACT is now one hundred per cent renewable energy based on that government investing in renewables businesses. I suspect basing their combined energy output on Nameplate Capacity not Capacity Factor. However, what the ACT Government fails to acknowledge is the connection to the New South Wales State grid and power stations.

Typical Green leftist deceptive claim.

mikee
Reply to  Dennis
November 4, 2021 3:22 am

The claim is deceptive by the ACT city counsel (sarc). Electrons cannot be tagged and as the ACT is connected to the New South Wales grid this is a green lefty lie. If the ACT city counsel was honest, it would disconnect entirely from the NSW grid.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 4, 2021 4:46 am

I’ve been to Orkney a couple of times but long ago and pre-windturbines and don’t remember the wind there

However I do remember that Edinburgh was quite breezy, built on hills close to te sea so not so surprising.

But

This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 metres above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.

The average hourly wind speed in Edinburgh experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.

The windier part of the year lasts for 5.3 months, from 23 October to 1 April, with average wind speeds of more than 20.8 kilometres per hour. The windiest month of the year in Edinburgh is January, with an average hourly wind speed of 25.1 kilometres per hour.

The calmer time of year lasts for 6.7 months, from 1 April to 23 October. The calmest month of the year in Edinburgh is July, with an average hourly wind speed of 16.4 kilometres per hour.

From here:
https://weatherspark.com/y/38026/Average-Weather-in-Edinburgh-United-Kingdom-Year-Round

But your average windturbine has a cut in of about 12.6 kph and optimum of about 45 kph so most of the time Edinburgh’s windturbines will struggle to produce 50% of baseplate

Rhs
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
November 4, 2021 6:01 am

Breezy probably isn’t enough wind. The optimal wind speed is 30 – 35 mph. Those speeds are hard to walk in. On the Beaufort Scale, that’s Strong Breeze to Near Gale. Ask a sailor about maneuvering in those conditions. I’m sure they’re great when going in your direction, but sucks to go against.

John
Reply to  Rhs
November 5, 2021 12:38 am

and nobody talks about the fact that wind turbines are parasitic

need motors to feather the rotors and turn the turbine into the wind

also need to have motors to start the rotation at low wind speeds and the motors to drive the turbines to safe direction and rotors to zero location at high wind speeds

then you have the embedded carbon in the concrete and steel

Coach Springer
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 4, 2021 7:49 am

If all that production is true, no need for Prince Charles to have his royal underwear in a bunch. For everything the twits do, the twits respond with “Do something.”

John
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 5, 2021 12:34 am

probably 100% of name plate power but usually when orkneys etc have full power they have to waste it because everybody has an oversupply or when it is needed everybody is short

Vincent Causey
November 4, 2021 12:55 am

Unfortunately, Pope’s article sounds plausible enough at first glance that many political figures will believe it and double down on their destructive policies.

Coach Springer
Reply to  Vincent Causey
November 4, 2021 7:44 am

Propaganda will do that.

Rod Evans
November 4, 2021 12:57 am

If any of the words Pope is projecting about Wind and Solar energy being cheaper than OIl and Gas there would not be any need to subsidise the expansion of those “renewables” would there?
The market knows when the price is deciding the decision and the market makes a rational choice to reflect that reality. He knows the only option renewables has is state funded growth borne out of irrational fear and outlandish pranks by paid for groups of anarchists such as XR and Insulate Britain and no doubt their world wide sympathising cousins.
The Orwellian overtone in this Pope article is obvious. He is advancing the notion, the real problem (renewables) is the solution we need to increase renewables. The Ministry of Truth has spoken, all hail Big Brother. The war in Energia is going well…

Editor
November 4, 2021 1:13 am

There’s a recurring theme in Carl Pope’s narrative:

“volatile prices that jump up and down dramatically are normal for fossil fuels”
“an economy’s vulnerability to fossil-fuel price volatility”
“fossil fuel shortages or other volatility drivers”
“cheapest, most secure and least volatile energy sources — which chiefly means wind and solar power”

Carl Pope is quite correct when he says that fossil fuel pices are volatile. Over the last 30 years, the crude oil price low was $10.82 and the high was $145.31 (https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart). Henry Hub gas price range was $1.92 to $23.86 (shorter period). Those are big ranges – 13x, 12x.

But what about renewables prices? Just in the last 5 years, Germany’s power prices have ranged from -5 to just over 100 Euros per MWh. That’s a range which has gone all the way round through infinity to -20. https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/international-issues/extreme-cold-and-lower-renewable-energy-output-spike-electricity-prices-in-europe-and-asia/

The comparison is not of like with like, because wind and solar do not have an energy source price like that of oil or gas. The only realistic measure is of the price of electricty that it generates (incidentally a negative price is not as good for consumers as you might think because a negative price is only ever paid for negative generation – cancellation of contracted supply – so they are still a positive cost to consumers).

A reasonable way of looking at it is that electricity prices in systems with a lot of renewables are far more volatile than they would be (and have been) in systems with fossil fuel generation only. And to anyone with any common sense that’s utterly predictable, because wind and solar supply are highly volatile with no-one ever quite knowing exactly when they will surge or fail. Fossil fuel supply is vastly more predictable, with unexpected surges or failures being extremely rare.

There’s a recurring theme in Carl Pope’s narrative:

“volatile prices that jump up and down dramatically are normal for fossil fuels”
“an economy’s vulnerability to fossil-fuel price volatility”
“fossil fuel shortages or other volatility drivers”
“cheapest, most secure and least volatile energy sources — which chiefly means wind and solar power”

Carl Pope is quite correct when he says that fossil fuel pices are volatile. Over the last 30 years, the crude oil price low was $10.82 and the high was $145.31 (https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart). Henry Hub gas price range was $1.92 to $23.86 (shorter period). Those are big ranges – 13x, 12x.

But what about renewables prices? Just in the last 5 years, Germany’s power prices have ranged from -5 to just over 100 Euros per MWh. That’s a range which has gone all the way round through infinity to -20. https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/international-issues/extreme-cold-and-lower-renewable-energy-output-spike-electricity-prices-in-europe-and-asia/

The comparison is not of like with like, because wind and solar do not have an energy source price like that of oil or gas. The only realistic measure is of the price of electricty that it generates (incidentally a negative price is not as good for consumers as you might think because a negative price is only ever paid for negative generation – cancellation of contracted supply – so they are still a positive cost to consumers).

A reasonable way of looking at it is that electricity prices in systems with a lot of renewables are far more volatile than they would be (and have been) in systems with fossil fuel generation only. And to anyone with any common sense that’s utterly predictable, because wind and solar supply are highly volatile with no-one ever quite knowing exactly when they will surge or fail. Fossil fuel supply is vastly more predictable, with unexpected surges or failures being extremely rare.

MarkW
Reply to  Mike Jonas
November 4, 2021 8:13 am

A lot of the volatility in fossil fuel prices comes from government “intervention” in the markets.

Matthew Sykes
November 4, 2021 1:26 am

That $600 billion [subsidy] is mostly on the transportation (oil) side,”

How is a product subsidised when it is taxed heavily at the point of purchase by the end user?

There are no subsidies, government support, for fossil fuels in the west, quite the opposite, like tobacco and alcohol they are heavily taxed!

Dennis
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
November 4, 2021 2:42 am

In Australia there is a fuel excise/tax on liquid fossil fuels for roads maintenance and therefore when fuel is used off-road by businesses, farming, mining, generator sets, and others the business can apply for a rebate.

This is not comparable to subsidies for profit paid to renewables businesses.

They also have the additional potential for tax deductions on expenses incurred in earning pre-tax profits available to all businesses.

Renewables supporters are always trying to cover up renewables specific subsidies.

MarkW
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
November 4, 2021 8:14 am

To those on the left, any tax that is not as high as they want it to be, is a subsidy.

robert Bradley
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
November 4, 2021 7:16 pm

Good point. I think a number of countries in the Middle East in South America subsidize gasoline prices. Need to check this, but certainly you are right: taxes reverse the argument in many countries of the world.

Peta of Newark
November 4, 2021 2:50 am

It’s just sooooo alluring, esp when it’s all ‘shiny’ ‘new’ ‘high tech’ ‘ modern’ ‘clean’

Sadly, The Broken Window Fallacy is exactly that.
A Fallacy

and when it comes to smashing up the old windows before the new ones are anywhere near ready is rank insanity

Joseph Zorzin
November 4, 2021 3:11 am

Comment: That $600 billion is mostly on the transportation (oil) side…”
I’m just curious, but how is that? Since we all pay stiff taxes on gasoline, where is that 600B in subsidies?

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 4, 2021 6:06 am

Any tax breaks to any company dealing with energy, no matter what the reason, is considered a subsidy for fossil fuels by the Greenspeak morons.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 4, 2021 6:10 am

Are there actually any “tax breaks”- which implies something other than legitimate expenses for fossil fuel companies?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 4, 2021 6:26 am

The percentage depletion allowance might be considered a subsidy. The tangible expenses associated with drilling and producing oil & gas wells can’t be deducted as expenses. They have to be capitalized and then recovered over time as the asset depletes. Percentage depletion can sometimes enable operators and investors to write off more income than the wells actually cost to drill and produce. This benefit is only available to independent oil companies and investors for domestically produced oil & gas. Major oil companies and income from foreign oil & gas production have to use cost depletion, which is strictly limited to the actual costs.

Repeal of the percentage depletion allowance would effectively shut in about 8% of US oil & gas production.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  David Middleton
November 4, 2021 6:54 am

“Percentage depletion can sometimes enable operators and investors to write off more income than the wells actually cost to drill and produce.”
Seems fair to me- since drilling is so financially risky- if a nation wants abundant energy to strongly encourage production. Without it, we would import more from OPEC and Russia!

IanE
November 4, 2021 3:56 am

As, I believe, they say in USA, the stupid, it burns!

(As an occupant of UK, I may have got that wrong, but then we are two nations forever divided by a common language!)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  IanE
November 4, 2021 5:36 am

You got it right.

Yes, there’s a lot of stupid out there. Too much. Way too much in high places.

richard
November 4, 2021 3:58 am

sail Vs steam summed it up beautifully. Up to a point sail was adequate but when industry and populations exploded….

Editor
November 4, 2021 4:44 am

Having one of my WUWT posts quoted by Robert Bradley on Master Resource, is just about as cool it gets…

Abolition Man
Reply to  David Middleton
November 4, 2021 9:55 am

Anybody that can cite Ron White AND the Addams Family in his posts deserves to be quoted; often!

Ed Fox
November 4, 2021 5:32 am

Still waiting for renewable energy to keep the lights on when the wind dont blow and the sun dont shine and the spot price of power goes up a thousand fold.

Yes the market us being manipulated by decommisioning reliable power plants.

Al Kour
Reply to  Ed Fox
November 4, 2021 6:39 pm

You deniers are too depressive-pessimistic. You just have no imag ination and faith in the Brave Green Future. All your “problems” can be solved easily.
Sun isn’t shining?
Well, in addition to solar panels we should make lunar panels and get electricity all night long! (during lunar eclipse you are free to sit in darkness for a while, not a big deal)
Wind isn’t blowing?
Well, we shold build turbines in rows. The first turbine has an engine instead of generator and blows toward the second turbine; it start spinning and blows on the third turbine; it blows on the fourth turbine, so on and on.(where do we get energy for the first turbine in the row? From the last one of course!)
For truly, lf ye only have faith as CO2 molecule..

observa
November 4, 2021 5:39 am

There is no negotiating with physics
so naturally the answer
 would be to seize assets and nationalize the fossil fuel industry
Climate depression is real. And it is spreading fast among our youth (msn.com)

But haven’t they heard from Karl the Pope?
fossil fuels are collapsing, and it’s high time

This Dooming101 is heady stuff or I’ve flunked Introductory Contextualisation.

Rhs
November 4, 2021 5:53 am

Not a math or engineer focused is he?
Something may increase by 25% but that mark is useless with the starting point.
If I start at 4% and end up at 5%, I’ve increased by 25%. If I started at 10% and end up at 12.5%, I’ve increased by 25%.
But neither increase is really that big in the overall scheme of implementation.
Folks who do this are often drunk on their self delusion.

Charlie
November 4, 2021 6:00 am

Increases in the cost of gas afflict Norway and Sweden, with grids powered by more than 50% by renewables, far less than Belgium and the Netherlands.

Pope omits to inform his readers that the renewables here are not wind and solar. In Norway there is an enormous contribution from hydro and in Sweden from hydro plus nuclear.

November 4, 2021 6:29 am

Only healthy and wealthy countries like the USA, Germany, Australia, and the UK can subsidize electricity generation from breezes and sunshine, and then, its only intermittent electricity at best. The 80 percent of the 8 billion on earth living on less than $10 a day cannot subsidize themselves out of a paper bag.

 

Who in their right mind wants to rely on breezes and sunshine for a continuous uninterruptible supply of electricity? Intermittent electricity from breezes and sunshine, has not, and will not, run the economies of the world, as electricity alone is unable to support the prolific growth rates of the medical industry, military, airlines, cruise ships, supertankers, container shipping, and trucking infrastructures to meet the demands of the exploding world population. 

Only healthy and wealthy countries like the USA, Germany, Australia, and the UK can subsidize electricity from breezes and sunshine, and intermittent electricity at best. The 80 percent of the 8 billion on earth living on less than 10 dollars a day cannot subsidize themselves out of a paper bag. Those poorer countries must rely on affordable and abundant coal for reliable electricity, while residents in the healthy and wealthier countries pay dearly for those subsidies with some of the highest cost for electricity in the world.

Ed Fox
November 4, 2021 6:31 am

Once you factor in all costs over a solar panels lifetime, each panel produces about the same amount of power as it takes to build a replacement panel. This shows up as very long amortization schedules.

This is why solar is not a solution. It only looks good on paper with cheap panels produced with low cost fossil fuels. Once you start trying to use solar power to produce millions of additional solar panels you have nothing left over to power other industries.

DocSiders
November 4, 2021 6:33 am

Solar: Environmentally Sound and Cheap Energy?

• ~10,200 days until 2050. The US would need to cover more than 33 sq mi of land EVERY DAY BETWEEN NOW and 2050 to replace fossil fuels with the required PEAK Demand generating capacity. See:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/01/27/bright-green-impossibilities/

That’s only ~330,000 sq mi. total. The area of Texas is 261,914 sq mi.

Covering the equivalent of all of Texas plus Oklahoma might affect some of the vegetation and wildlife under the panels…but fortunately, Solar is good for the environment.

Note: the Bureau of Land Management has located only 75 sq mi of environmentally acceptable land (for proposed 3 sq mi Solar Farms).

Every 3 decades… the solar panels will need replacing (or keep adding 1% more panels every year to compensate for output losses – adding another 100,000 sq mi in those 30 years…covering the area of Colorado). The “used up” 3″ thick panels will make a pile of “immortal” toxic debris covering the whole State of New Jersey (no body will miss NJ) that’s about 5 feet deep. But that only happens every 30 years.

On the down side, we will need ~$5 Trillion worth of batteries for 7 days of back-up just for the Grid…not including the batteries for EV’s. We’ll also need to manufacture Liquid Aviation Fuels…from electrical energy…SOMEHOW…30% efficient (if the process is perfect) so triple aviation fuel costs forever.

This, of course, will not be doable at all…let alone cheaply or environmentally acceptable.

Lil-Mike
November 4, 2021 7:01 am

Can someone please explain how fossil fuels are subsidized?

Cam_S
Reply to  Lil-Mike
November 4, 2021 8:13 am

According to environmentalists, tax breaks equal subsidies. No actual money is given to fossil fuel companies, just tax breaks, to develop natural resources.

MarkW
Reply to  Lil-Mike
November 4, 2021 9:23 am

They claim that fossil fuel companies aren’t being taxed for the damage that CO2 does.
Since it’s easy to prove that overall, CO2 is good for the world, using their logic, CO2 should be subsidized.

Duane
November 4, 2021 10:10 am

You’re all wrong.

There is no “energy crisis” – there is just a temporary spike in prices due to a rapid runup in demand and supply has been unable to ramp up as quickly. BTW, the same thing is going on in virtually all sectors of the world economy, not just energy.

Easy peasy to understand, despite all the politicking by both sides of the warmunism argument:

COVID caused a crash in demand for oil and gas in the second quarter of 2020. The world economies began to recover in the fourth quarter 2020, and that growth has continued through the present day. The growth in the economy causes a continued growth in demand. This caused the spike in prices.

When oil and gas prices crashed in early 2020, and they weren’t all that high to begin with, investors stopped investing in new capacity – DUH!. But with demand being very strong now, with high prices for their product, the investment in oil and gas has now spiked, with the guaranteed result that the current imbalance in supply vs. demand will end, with prices coming back down by early next year. More likely than not, investments in production will overshoot demand, causing a further reduction in pricing.

This is just he same old same old market working yet again just like it’s supposed to. It’s called “the law of supply and demand”. Oil and gas markets have gone through numerous similar cycles in the last 50 years, typically one or two of these every decade.

Ya wanna see a real “energy crisis”? Go back to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo I remember quite well lining up in mile long lines and waiting hours just to get a few gallons of gas, but not a full tank. THAT is an energy crisis. This is just the natural market cycle.

Duane
Reply to  Duane
November 4, 2021 10:19 am

Refer to this link for a chart of oil prices by year going back to 1950 through 2021 in constant inflation adjusted dollars:

https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart

The benchmark price of oil today is far below the prior decade peaks in 2008 through 2014, and in 1980, and about the same as in 1990 … times when warmunism and alternative energy production were non-factors to non-existent.

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
November 4, 2021 10:22 am

The economy was improving a lot more last year, and there was no run up in prices.

ResourceGuy
November 4, 2021 11:16 am

Down is up and stats don’t matter–as usual in the Climate Crusades® and your wallet.

Serge Wright
November 4, 2021 2:53 pm

It really doesn’t matter how many words you use trying to convince us the world is flat. But this is a common theme with many people when they are proven wrong and become exposed in their glass house with no clothes.

steve
November 4, 2021 6:40 pm

I am reminded of the testimony by The Sierra Club President when being questioned by Senator Cruz…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl9-tY1oZNw

otsar
November 5, 2021 4:30 pm

That is a very polite and politically correct picture at the beginning of this article.

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