Wind will be Competitive! (Secretary Chu from 2011)

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — January 6, 2022

“’Before maybe the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel,’ Chu told an event at the Pew Charitable Trusts.” (below)

Energy history matters. In the marketplace, what energies performed and at what cost; in energy policy, who said what and when. In this regard, intermittent, dilute energies have a bad history.

Obama’s DOE Secretary Steven Chu has a ten-year anniversary of a statement that is now falsified. As reported by the American Security Project in “Wind, Solar Becoming Cost Competitive: Chu,”

Clean sources of energy such as wind and solar will be no more expensive than oil and gas projects by the end of the decade, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama’s administration has been encouraging companies to invest in green growth, calling it a new source of jobs and fearing that other nations — led by China — are stealing the march.

“Before maybe the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel,” Chu told an event at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“So the country and the companies who develop those renewable energy and resources that become cost competitive without subsidy all of a sudden have a world market. And, boy, we can’t lose that world market,” he said.

The US Congress has rejected attempts to mandate curbs on carbon emissions blamed for climate change, with many members of the Republican Party arguing that reducing dependence on fossil fuels would be too expensive.

But the Obama administration has been hoping to seek bipartisan cooperation on what it hopes are less controversial efforts such as encouraging renewable energy….

Wind energy, never competitive with fossil fuels, remains uncompetitive as demonstrated by the desperate attempt by the Biden Administration in BBB (Build Back Better) to extend the Production Tax Credit for a 14th time. Yes, what began in 1992 for wind’s PTC was extended in 1999… 2002 … 2004 … 2005 … 2006 … 2008 … 2009 … 2012 … 2014 … 2015 … 2016 … 2019 … 2021.

It’s time to pull the plug and let the market decide between energies. The government–the taxpayers–should be neutral.

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January 10, 2022 6:01 am

“Wind will be Competitive!”

After a Vindaloo.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  fretslider
January 10, 2022 8:33 am

not sure what a Vindaloo is but that made me think about how wind and solar are Voodoo energy

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 9:02 am

Seems to be a type of Indian Curry

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 10:51 am

Vindaloo was last night’s dinner. Pretty spicy.

Reply to  fretslider
January 10, 2022 8:43 am

I think Chu’s statement was completely reasonable. We just need to start taking better drugs!

john harmsworth
Reply to  Spetzer86
January 11, 2022 9:58 am

We should understand how the Green? Socialist alliance works by now. If they tax the Heck out of fossil fuels, any other technology can probably be competitive.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  john harmsworth
January 12, 2022 9:46 pm

G’Day John,

Filled up – diesel – in Parker Arizona this morning – $3.999 a gallon. A couple of hours later, drove through 29 Palms California – cheapest seen – $4.799 a gallon. I believe it’s that ‘carbon tax’ thing.

andy in epsom
Reply to  fretslider
January 11, 2022 2:43 am

Easy peasy. try a Phaal next time they are great

Tom Halla
January 10, 2022 6:10 am

Texas in February 2021 is a reason why wind does not work. Several days of freezing rain and still air, . . .

Rick C
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 10, 2022 8:56 am

The fact that wind and solar require massive capital investment and new infrastructure and yet produce less than 40% of their capacity makes them inherently uncompetitive with fossil fuel plants that can produce and sell electricity at 95% + capacity 24/7/365. The additional fact that wind and solar often produce electricity that exceeds demand and there is no economical grid scale way to store the excess, further reduces efficiency and devalues intermittent sources.

The people in charge of government energy policy obviously have never taken even and introductory course in engineering economics. The fact that qualified, presumably licensed, engineers must certainly me heavily involved in the design and development of these massive boondoggles constitutes professional malpractice in my humble opinion.

Reply to  Rick C
January 10, 2022 9:04 am

What makes wind and solar uncompetitive is that no matter how much wind and solar you build, you still need to build enough fossil fuel capacity to handle your worst case demand scenario.

Patrick B
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 9:58 am

No, you have to build enough fossil to handle your worst case supply scenario – which is always essentially “0” for wind and solar.

Reply to  Patrick B
January 10, 2022 1:59 pm

Reliable backup is needed for most wind/solar output, which is rarely adequate to meet demand over much of the day.

Rick C
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 10:03 am

Very true, but the engineering illiterate and innumerable dolts pushing green energy imagine this problem being solved by the imminent appearance of cheap massive electricity storage systems capable of providing many terawatt-hours of demand in cloudy, dark and calm (or e excessively windy periods. Otherwise known as magic.

Reply to  Rick C
January 10, 2022 2:03 pm

The fact that qualified, presumably licensed, engineers must certainly me heavily involved in the design and development of these massive boondoggles constitutes professional malpractice in my humble opinion.

Engineers get paid to do a job – deliver a project to target cost and date. The projects get finance through banks supported by government subsidies. The rot starts with the government subsidy. Stop the subsidy and the projects stop.

From a big picture perspective, the only sensible way forward is fission now and maybe fusion in the future. But wind and solar is where there are lots of jobs.

Rick C
Reply to  RickWill
January 10, 2022 9:56 pm

Engineers have an ethical obligation to advise their clients that a proposed project cannot produce the results expected. Or even that while they might be able to design a solution it would not be economically viable. I don’t care how much money someone is willing to pay me to design a perpetual motion machine or if a bank will finance it. I won’t accept the job and will advise that what they are asking for is impossible. That said, I’ve known a few engineers who would take the money and claim success was just around the corner for as long as they could get away with it.

Reply to  Rick C
January 11, 2022 4:34 am

Though the important word is ADVISE.

Not every client will listen to advice and it is their decision in the end. I know a lot of engineers who get extremely frustrated because they have forgotten the role and authority of consulting engineers. Both internal employed and external consultants.

From the outside you have no idea what conversations took place between the engineers and clients.

Reply to  Rick C
January 11, 2022 3:48 pm

Sorry, Rick, but the people buying windmills are making a profit – a good one. It’s called the power of Government subsidies. Buffet is no idiot – he knows how he’s making money off windmills. And he’s been very clear that when the subsidies stop, so will his windmills.

Engineers do not usually have insight into funding for a large project. It isn’t their business. A ship’s engineers do not advise the captain on the ship’s course nor the cargo. That isn’t their job, and overstepping their boundaries will quickly see them out of business.

Windmills do exactly what they are designed to do: provide power when the wind is blowing – and that is what the engineer is on the hook for ensuring. He is NOT responsible for ensuring the customer understands his business model. He is not responsible for what happens when the wind is not blowing.

You imply you were an engineer. I have a hard time believing it. If you were tracking your client’s total financial resources, customer base, market strategies and business plan, you were somehow getting access to information that is highly protected. Be careful what you are admitting to.

Reply to  Rick C
January 11, 2022 3:15 am

Not nearly enough red team blue team.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Rick C
January 11, 2022 10:11 am

What government people know or don’t know about engineering and economics is not relevant. They play with somebody else’s money and practice deceit for their own ends.

David Elstrom
January 10, 2022 6:13 am

And yet, the climate change scam marches on thanks to the gaslighting garbage elite—who get all the heat, light, power, mansions, limos, gourmet food, private jets, and other luxuries they want, because sacrifices are for the peasants.

Willem Post
Reply to  David Elstrom
January 10, 2022 6:41 am

Only because of the subsidies

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Willem Post
January 11, 2022 12:47 am

In the UK many a landowner has windfarms & solar arrays on their land, simply because their accountants have told them there is massive amounts of taxpayers subsidies in the air, from the peoples energy bills in the form of a “renewable energy” subsidy, so here we have taxpayers paying already wealthy landowners for the alleged privilege of enjoying intermittent solar & wind energy!!! Talk about Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor & giving to the rich!!! No wonder some think a “bloody” revolution is require to address the imbalance!!!

Walter Horsting
January 10, 2022 6:17 am

Wind energy, never competitive with fossil fuels, remains noncompetitive as demonstrated by the desperate attempt by the Biden Administration in BBB (Build Back Better) to extend the Production Tax Credit for a 14th time. Yes, what began in 1992 for wind’s PTC was extended in 1999… 2002 … 2004 … 2005 … 2006 … 2008 … 2009 … 2012 … 2014 … 2015 … 2016 … 2019 … 2021. It’s time to pull the plug and let the market decide between energies. The government–the taxpayers–should be neutral

Example of power barges vs. Wind

An alternate to California’s proposed 4.2 GW offshore wind project:
 4.2 GWs = roughly 680 6MW turbines or 252 17MW turbines
•   Miles offshore with expensive undersea power network
•   No thermal use for industry
•   Radar Interference is a security threat
•   Intermittent low-density Energy
21 Seaborg 200 MW CMSR power barges or 5 GW CMSR power barges
•   Float them into any sea or river port near the local grid
•   24-year return to the shipyard for recycling
•   Thermal Industrial and Desalination use 
•   The least impacting energy source on nature
•   24/7/365 Energy inexpensive as coal

The least impacting energy source on nature:
Seaborg deep dive:

Bryan A
Reply to  Walter Horsting
January 10, 2022 6:29 am

You would do better to place them a mile out to sea on platforms akin to Oil Drilling Rigs to make them Tsunami Proof and as Quake Proof as possible. Plus you have an endless supply of cooling water available

Willem Post
Reply to  Walter Horsting
January 10, 2022 6:48 am

Russia has one floating nuclear power plant in service already for about 1.5 years.
It took more than 10 years to build.

It supplies hot water for domestic hot water and space heating, plus electricity to a Siberian harbor town.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Willem Post
January 10, 2022 6:55 am

just curious but what is the advantage of a floating power plant?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 7:08 am


Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 7:32 am

You can build it in one place and deploy it in another, with minimal transport costs between . Part of Russia are almost inaccessible by land, air transport is impractical, but nuclear powered ships can make the trip in summer

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2022 8:33 pm

That’s the main advantage of modular reactors, set up a factory to make the most complicated and critical pieces and truck it out to the site. Also your high priced engineers, technologists, technicians, scientists, trades are all locally based and one doesn’t have to keep finding experienced help in every possible location that orders reactors.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 7:48 am

You can literally sail it around bureaucratic red tape and protestors.
Set it up in an energy impoverished neighborhood (coming soon) to place near you.
And it will stay there forever.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 8:41 am

It is somewhat transportable.
The US navy has been doing this for decades with their ocean going nuclear powered cities replete with airport and hospital. Proven capable of powering an Indonesian city after a tsunami.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 10:18 am

I would make freshwater lake in the ocean and put nuclear powerplants in the
the lake.
Advantage of Ocean or large lake, one make and transport big things in the ocean- or non accessible lake doesn’t have this advantage. With shipyards one construct and move big things which don’t need to moved with roads or rail. Nuclear powerplants could made and sold to a global market.
What is needed is very cheap floating breakwater which can block any waves created by storms.
And if have electrical power, one can ocean settlements. People can also live in freshwater lakes in the ocean.
So would make real estate in the ocean as cheap as urban real estate, by making cheap floating breakwaters. What needed is being able to own property which is ocean.
Or can’t expect a government to make anything cheap and useful.
The only “subsidy” is being able to buy ocean property which is allowed to be
developed. Or “ocean land” should be sold by government, cheap like farm land.
Anyhow disadvantage of ocean water is it is very corrosive environment and should design things aren’t going to be corroded and have long lifetimes.

Geoffrey Williams
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 4:38 pm

Plenty of cooling water . .

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Walter Horsting
January 10, 2022 9:28 am

Deep dive doesn’t play for me; tried 4 browsers. Safari looked like it was going to do something, but nothing came up. The other 3 — bupkis.

OK, just how far is this from commercially available? Has there been an actual sale yet?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 10, 2022 9:53 am

The website claims commercial prototypes in 2024 and serial production in 2026. It’s a Danish company; I assume they are regulated and licensed under Danish law, which is a bit odd as Denmark has no current commercial reactors. They claim a 12 year fuel cycle with spent fuel returned to a supplier/reprocessor where short-term wastes are separated and stored while long-term wastes are incorporated into new fuel. The fuel is in a flouride salt which would be solid at normal temperatures.

I can’t find where it specifies the fuel; thorium isn’t mentioned so I assume enriched U235.

In addition to power, claimed outputs are desalinated water, hydrogen and process heat.

Patrick B
Reply to  Walter Horsting
January 10, 2022 10:04 am

“4.2 GWs = roughly 680 6MW turbines or 252 17MW turbines”

Given the wildly different capacity factors of wind versus gas turbines, I’m not sure how you make that statement.

Patrick B
Reply to  Patrick B
January 10, 2022 10:05 am

EDIT: or are you saying that’s how many turbines would be mounted?

January 10, 2022 6:23 am

That administration also tried to force power transmission line development across states without state review or choice.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 10, 2022 6:57 am

…for the benefit of wind project development

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 10, 2022 8:40 am

As I’m sure most of you know, the state of Maine’s citizens voted against having a huge expansion of power lines in their state to bring hydro power from Canada to MA. Of course MA now has a net zero by ’50 law on the books- but it can’t figure out how to accomplish this vision with no fossil fuels, no nuclear, no biomass, no pumped storage, no wind turbines on land, with huge resistance to industrial solar “farms” and with no way to bring Canadian hydro power to MA- while everyone still wants cheap energy.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 8:50 am

Solar farms in Maine! I’m not even going to guess how many months out of the year those things would be viable versus how many months they’d be covered with snow.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Spetzer86
January 10, 2022 9:02 am

Of course, thanks to the climate catastrophe- it won’t snow any more. By the way, by MA, I meant Massachusetts, not Maine. The code for Maine is ME.

The biggest solar “farm” in New England is in Maine.

“The 300,000-panel solar farm sits on 500 acres of leased land on Route 2 in the town of Farmington.”

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 9:40 am

44.65 degrees North. That’s an ideal location for solar.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
January 10, 2022 9:49 am

The state of Maine is covered with trees- used to have a thriving logging industry. The enviros have been busy trying to kill it off for a long time. The paper industry has been slowly dying- not much of it left. The climatistas have fought hard to prevent a new, thriving biomass industry which could have helped the logging industry and long term forest mgt. Instead, they’d prefer to see the state covered with solar panels.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
January 11, 2022 4:36 am

44+ N – so about 300 Nautical miles south of the southern tip of the UK [in Cornwall].
Happily, solar panels in Scotland – installed for local authorities – would appear to be stunningly good, able to deliver power even when the Sun is at 11 degrees above the horizon, at noon.
I consider that the virtue signalling is impressive!


Willem Post
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
January 11, 2022 2:49 pm

75 degrees north on a floe would be even better

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 9:07 am

Even at the height of summer, the sun is still going to be far from vertical in the sky.
This limits how much energy your solar farm is going to be able to capture even when the sky’s are perfectly clear.

Beyond that, having the sun lower on the horizon means more trees are going to have to be cut down around the perimeter of your solar farm in order to prevent them from shading the solar panels.

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 10:52 am

Solar farms are good for the environment. Trees, not so much.

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 11:20 am

We have a solar array at 40deg latitude in Pennsylvania. 5,6kW. It paid for itself by 2015. Now it averages $100 a month. Thanks mainly to the many subsidies, and good siting. The company that installed it said it was at the northern limit but worked because of the siting- nearly a perfect north facing roof at 45deg and enough elevation to catch every kWh coming over the hill to the north.

Maine, with all of its mountainous terrain will have a lot of trouble with solar.

Solar power will never be a mass market supply, even they can develop much more efficient solar cells. Mainly, it works best at just the wrong time of day.

Reply to  Philo
January 10, 2022 12:26 pm

You’re @ 40 Lat. and have sun coming over the hill to your north onto your north-facing roof! I didn’t know there was a Pennsylvania in Australia. Or did I miss the /s?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 9:20 am

Importing hydropower with new transmission lines through clear cut forests was the plan of dear leaders to begin with in that regional renewable energy pact. That’s in addition to clear cutting forests for export of wood pellets to Europe for the renewable energy cause. Forests are rural and expendable in the urban political power circles.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 10, 2022 9:38 am

the production of wood pellets might have been a by-product of the new power lines- because if you have to clearcut for a power line you’ll have some of the trees with no use OTHER than pellets- with the better trees going to sawmills or the few remaining pulp facilities- but don’t equate pellet production with deforestation or the wastage of the forests- no more than the production of lumber for your home or furniture- wood chip and pellet production is an excellent part of excellent forestry:

but you’re right that forests are being destroyed for solar “farms”- but even the climatistas in MA are turning against them on the landscape- they stupidly think the state’s net zero law by ’50 can be met simply by putting solar on “brown fields” and parking lots- somehow, they think, those solar installations will power the entire state with 6 million people- all their cars, trucks- heat all the buildings, produce all the electricity and run all the remaining industries (mostly universities, hospitals, software firms and the like)

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2022 11:21 am

I’m not a forester but I study a lot of sectors for the strategic issues in each and discuss with foresters and forest land investment managers. In the U.S. we’ve had decades of Canadian lumber subsidies that held down U.S. lumber prices and on/off attempts at tariffs. That trade issue kept more forests in the low value-added column associated with wood pellet exports. We even have government incentive payouts for Drax Group projects to export and burn the wood instead of better uses.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 10, 2022 12:53 pm

“We even have government incentive payouts for Drax Group projects to export and burn the wood instead of better uses.”

Not exactly sure what you mean by that- but, no tree with sawlogs good enough for sawing into lumber or furniture is EVER going to be sent to a pellet plant. You can be sure of that. It may be that they’re just cutting the worse stands mostly loaded with “junk wood” not good for anything else- lots of that all across North America. Cutting/selling such wood is barely profitable and now in many places loggers won’t cut that wood as they’d lose money. It’s not a product that can be managed on its own- it’s generally just a by product of forestry.

Bruce Cobb
January 10, 2022 6:35 am

Before maybe the end of this decade, we will see pigs flying.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 10, 2022 7:34 am

Pigs are perfectly capable of flying given enough (taxpayer supplied) momentum

PigaPults Rule, OK? Why should cats have all the fun?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 10, 2022 8:12 am

Especially if they run afoul a wind turbine blade.

Doug Ward
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2022 10:22 am

To continue the punfest, may I suggest “… run afowl”?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 10, 2022 9:22 am

It’s on Griff’s list of unprecedented things caused by climate change.

Thomas Gasloli
January 10, 2022 6:39 am

For those billionaires receiving a government guaranteed profit through “renewable energy” subsidies they are very competitive with alternative investments. And that is the only “competitive” that counts.

January 10, 2022 6:56 am

<i>I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!


“Won’t get fooled again.” The Who, 1971.

John Endicott
Reply to  Speed
January 10, 2022 9:42 am

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

Reply to  Speed
January 10, 2022 4:54 pm

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Carlo, Monte
January 10, 2022 7:00 am

griff will be along shortly to explain how black is white and white is black.

Jim Turner
January 10, 2022 7:15 am

“Before maybe the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel,” He doesn’t say if this is because wind/solar will get cheaper or if fossil fuels will get more expensive – the latter is hardly good news. Also he doesn’t specify on what basis he would value wind/solar, a kW when you want it is worth far more than 2kW when you don’t. It isn’t just about direct subsidies, it’s about wind/solar being insulated from the concept of a spot price -they always get a fixed rate regardles of demand.

Reply to  Jim Turner
January 10, 2022 7:37 am

The irony is that as fossil fuels have gotten more expensive so have renewable projects, due to increased price of energy, and now the equation is stark. Nuclear is now the cheapest form of energy…

Oh dear.
How sad
Never mind 🙂

January 10, 2022 7:29 am

Amen to all that. Time to level the playing field. XComaonies that wish yto ell wind and solkar must contract to do so and gface massive penaltries if they fail., So they will have to organise their own backup, and they should be forced to pay for the grid upgrades their imbalances render necessary as well.

And if that results in not a single wind or solar plant ever being built again, I will shed no tears.

Charles Higley
January 10, 2022 7:54 am

Of course, wind and solar are the least clean energy sources on the planet. Typical idiocy.

January 10, 2022 8:09 am

Wind will be competitive … Once we finish outlawing everything else.

Gary Pearse
January 10, 2022 8:35 am

“Before maybe the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel,’”

And there you go! They just announce it is competitive anyway. They even went a step further and said it is actually cheaper than nat gas. And designer brained useful ijits bulk up WUWT threads with their prop

Andy Pattullo
January 10, 2022 8:41 am

Wind is the transgender athlete of energy competition.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
January 10, 2022 9:46 am

I can guess the joke you were trying for there, but it came out exactly backwards.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Quelgeek
January 11, 2022 7:44 pm

Well yes, if I have to explain it then it truly is a bad joke (the type I am fully qualified to make). But I stand by the inference that wind (and solar) enter the energy market with highly unfair advantages in the form of ill-conceived government intervention. In a fair market they would die rapid deaths in most locations.

Rud Istvan
January 10, 2022 9:07 am

Wind is not and never will be cost competitive, for three fundamental reasons:

  1. Its effective capital life is 20-25 years; CCGT is warrantied for 40.
  2. It is intermittent with a capacity factor about 30%, so requires costly backup about 70% of the time.
  3. It provides no grid inertia unless costly synchronous condensers are also deployed.

All proven by the basic fact that without subsidies, wind investment goes to zero.

Willem Post
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 11, 2022 2:58 pm

Wind, if and when the wind blows, requires babysitting 100% of the time, because it would NEVER be allowed on the grid (too rambunctious), without the other generators doing the babysitting, this memo from your friendly energy systems analyst, now retired.

Solar requires babysitting, if and when the sun shines, especially at mid-day, but it requires no babysitting from late afternoon/early evening, to about 8 am the next day, because it is sound asleep.

January 10, 2022 9:09 am

It is so simple. The low productivity of Weather-Dependent Renewables is the reason that they can never be price competitive on a level playing field with conventional power generation.

European productivity / capacity percentages over the past 10 years are roughly as follows:

Onshore wind ~20%
Offshore Wind ~ 34%
Solar PV ~ 11%
as opposed to conventional generation of up to 90% when fully utilised.

These productivity percentages represent the full potential Weather-Dependent Renewables but do not account for the precipitous results of suddenly adverse wind conditions or the fact that the world turns daily cutting off solar power at night.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  edmh
January 10, 2022 9:51 am

Don’t be such a pessimist. Just put up some lunar panels for when the sun goes down. I’m sure Griff has a few spares.

Willem Post
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
January 11, 2022 3:01 pm

In the universe, a sun will shine somewhere

January 10, 2022 9:16 am

As a source of electricity generation a wind turbine is very competitive with my pushbike dynamo.

Reply to  Vuk
January 10, 2022 2:19 pm

doesn’t that depend on the price of soy beans and wheat?

January 10, 2022 9:24 am

Actually, the levelized costs of renewables actually are far less than thermal power plants that aren’t combined cycle plants, even without considering available tax incentives. DOE publishes the data every year, and the most recent report for 2021 is located at

Wind does not get any production tax credits under current Federal law, whereas solar gets a tax credit that is about 7% of the actual pre-tax cost. Individual states may offer their own tax incentives, but most don’t.

So the argument about solar and wind is not about cost any more – it is about system reliability during periods of relatively low production (milder winds, less sunshine).

The arguments the author is making are a decade old, and indeed former Sec. Chu was exactly right. The costs of wind and solar production have gone drastically down over the last decade.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 9:59 am

Hey, Duane – did you actually read the assumptions included in the report? It is interesting that there seemed to be no inclusion of costs for generation back-up for wind and solar, no estimate of costs for more than a 4-hr storage back-up for even hybrid solar, and the capacity factors for wind and solar seemed especially rosy, with wind at >40 pct, and solar at 30%…

Reply to  bizzarogriff
January 10, 2022 1:26 pm

Reliability and cost are two independent factors. I agree that the reliability for wind and solar is less and essentially uncontrollable. But the cost is the cost.

Even the levelized cost of energy storage – which eliminates most of the reliability issue – is still much less than non-combined cycle thermal plants which are the highest cost energy sources today.

The best conclusion here is to go completely to combined cycle thermal plants.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 2:51 pm

BUT, the cost of energy ‘storage’ is woefully underestimated, wrt the amount of storage needed, and the cost of each unit of storage, to include property acquisition costs.

Reply to  Duane
January 11, 2022 4:05 pm

I’ve got a 2018 diesel truck; its worth $54,000.

I’ve got a 72 Peugeot (diesel) under a fallen down carport that hasn’t been driven for 18 years; It’s (obviously) not going to be very reliable. I’ll sell it to you for $40,000.

cost is cost. Someone as smart as you will obviously jump at the chance to purchase the lower cost transportation.

Reply to  Duane
January 11, 2022 4:27 pm

If I need to go somewhere in the Peugeot I can depend on the truck to tow it down the road. Works very reliable.

So If you buy the Peugeot, you should probably buy the truck as well. I’ll give you a big (35% !!) credit on the Peugeot as incentive and let you have them both for $80,000.

Hutches Hunches
Reply to  Duane
January 11, 2022 4:58 pm

How can you make any intelligent comparison of cost of systems, without determining the cost to guarantee reliability? Simply put, your whole argument is nonsense if the cost for guaranteeing reliability is left out of the equation for one system (Renewables) and not an issue for the other. (Fossil Fuels). Any system is basically useless if it is not reliable.

Reply to  Hutches Hunches
January 11, 2022 7:04 pm

He is either a shill; or he works directly/indirectly with EIA or wind/solar industry.

He makes seemingly coherent statements on other topics, so it is not simply that he is a dumbass.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:02 am

Their electricity generation costs might have gone down, but not as much as their reliability to generate that electricity.

So their usefulness to modern society makes them not a viable solution.

The cost of an ashtray on a motorcycle is also neglible, but serves no useful purpose.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:03 am

The EIA LCOE numbers for wind are grossly misleading. For details, see my post over at Climate Etc titled ‘True Cost of Wind.’ EIA has wind about same as CCGT. In fact (after correcting egregious EIA errors, CCGT is about $58/MWh while on shore wind is about $146.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 10, 2022 1:28 pm

No they are certainly NOT misleading. They are calculated the same way engineers always conduct cost analyses, in other words, life cycle costs. The cost of licensing and design, the cost of construction, the cost of maintenance and repair, the cost of periodic replacement (no plant last forever), and the cost of fuel. Obviously the cost of fuel is zero for solar and wind power. The cost of O&M is also far less than non-combined cycle thermal plants.

I’m an engineer – this is what engineers do.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 9:07 pm

But if the cost doesn’t include storage then it’s not including everything needed to compare to CCGTs. CCGTs can even run at roughly half power and maintain most of their efficiency, at least a newer GE one I was reading about, great for base and peak! And you can put them practically anywhere. Oh, yes one would have to add any long transmission lines that snake their way to each measely several megawatt turbine, and how much should we charge for needlessly mowing down forests and paving over farm land to make wind and solar installations? If there’s going to be a carbon tax, then there should be a similar acre tax, and a tax on every bird or bat killed – same as for every bird that dies landing in oil sands tailings ponds, only fair and just a few thousand $ per creature.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:16 am

To top it off, these are estimates for plants five years in the future, not reflections of costs over the last few years.

Reply to  Ted
January 10, 2022 1:29 pm

Based upon actual costs experienced today and trendlines already well established – not guesses or fairy tales.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:18 am

What nonsense.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 10, 2022 1:29 pm

Yeah, for you the practice of engineering must be nonsense. For engineers, it is you who is nonsensical.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:18 am

So electricity will drop back in price to the old price trajectory??

I think not.

Reply to  Bill Treuren
January 10, 2022 1:32 pm

The costs for all new and emerging technologies always starts out high, and trends downward as licensing, design, manufacturing, operational, maintenance, and repair costs experience the benefit of the learning curve

That is why, for instance, flat screen TV costs were tremendously high 15 years ago compared to today. A TV with much less performance than even the most basic TVs sold to day at Walmart for under $400 back then cost thousands.

Patrick B
Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 10:54 am

First, DOE’s levelized analysis is not based on realistic assumptions. Second it fails to account for additional transmission costs required by renewables. Third it fails to take into account the primary problem of renewables, intermittency.

The assumptions in DOE’s levelized analysis includes:

  1. “The capacity factor ranges for these technologies are 37%–51% for onshore wind,” On average ERCOT, with the largest wind production in the country, estimates an average of about 30% capacity factor. In 2015 the average wind capacity factor in California was about 30%.
  2. Production Tax Credits for wind; further the PTCs are adjusted for inflation. “New wind, geothermal, and closed-loop biomass plants receive $25 per megawatthour (MWh) of generation” So only if you assume tax credits continue forever, with escalations for inflation, can you rely on DOE levelized costs.
  3. Cost recovery period of 20 years. Guess how long a wind facility is generally expected to last? About 25 years. a fossil fuel plant? 40+ years. the DOE is favoring wind because it wears out faster. Is that logical?
  4. There is no adjustment in levelized costs for the fact that wind facilities often must be located distant from cities whereas coal, gas or nuclear can be located relatively close to cities. Texas spent over $7 billion for windpower transmission lines back in the early 2000’s.

I’m sure I’m missing other major holes in DOE’s levelized cost analysis given the short time I spent on this, but you can see DOE’s levelized cost analysis is not about real world economics but about trying to convince the average citizen that the rotten apple of wind is even better tasting than the fresh oranges of coal, nuclear and gas.

Reply to  Patrick B
January 10, 2022 1:37 pm

First you’re wrong. DOE uses standard engineering methodology for estimating lifetime costs. The same methodology applied by every other manufacturer or builder of anything you buy or use in real life.

Note the very low costs of combined cycle thermal plants in the DOE analysis. If DOE’s method was so effed up and biased towards renewable, then that cost would also be nearly as high as for the non-combined cycle plants. The message here is that non-combined cycle power plants are extremely wasteful of fuel.

Any engineering undergraduate with a thermodynamics course passed can explain to you why thermal power plants are very inefficient. Few non-engineers understand that.

Same thing applies to EVs and FCVs, which are also vastly more efficient at converting energy in the tank (or battery) to work at the wheels than any ICV.

It’s engineering.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 2:04 pm

Why is electricity so expensive in countries with the largest proportion of Renewables?

Patrick B
Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 3:26 pm

Please tell me you’re not aworking engineer.

Saying I am wrong isn’t a winning argument.

see how I point you to the source of my information? A winning argument is based on provable facts. You’re just a five year old screaming “no, no ,no”.

Reply to  Duane
January 10, 2022 9:15 pm

CCGT are 60% efficient (a jet engine directly running a generator, and the exhaust makes steam to power another generator!) Super critical coal fired plants, the ones that are all the rage in China, are in the same ballpark. China makes the turbines and solar panels, and batteries too, and yet they are building out a huge thermal power fleet. And their country is run by engineers – so why is that?

Peta of Newark
January 10, 2022 9:33 am

And here we are in the UK, the evening peak is nicely building and wind is providing 25% of UK elektrikery.
While temp across the UK are about 7 or 8 Celsius inland and about 10 on the western coast = actually quite warm…
Enquiring minds are curious whee exactly the 90GW required for 30 million heat pumps will come from and if temps go below 5Celsius all those pumps will freeze up and start drawing 300GW from their internal immersion heaters

Hopefully you can see this:
Headline:”Cost of living means I can only heat one room
So how many people, esp elderly ones, are sat in freezing cold homes and making themselves vastly more likely to catch Covid?

It’s a perfect train-wreck that’s unfolding here, thank you sooooo much Boris Johnson

UK Energy 100122.PNG
Bill Treuren
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 10, 2022 10:20 am

or the wind stops for a day.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 10, 2022 10:40 am

Boris had help. You need to thank them all, as well.

Paul Penrose
January 10, 2022 9:48 am

Wind and solar will be competitive with oil and gas in another 10 years. And always will be.

The Dark Lord
January 10, 2022 9:59 am

wind will be cheaper when fusion is perfected … i.e. never …
and never forget that wind and solar are NOT renewable but REPLACEABLE using finite resources …

Willem Post
Reply to  The Dark Lord
January 11, 2022 3:07 pm

Wind and solar are transitional, high-maintenance sources, just passing through, while creating as much havoc as possible during their short lives

Ed Fox
January 10, 2022 10:01 am

Why do wind and solar not compete on the same spot market as every other power source?

That would very quickly cleanup the problems with wind or solar. Instead they are passing costs off to reliable producers, driving rhem out of business.

Reply to  Ed Fox
January 10, 2022 10:25 am

Spot market would still give wind and solar an advantage if done hourly. Over such a short timeframe, the amount of energy from them can be predicted; allowing them to bid only when most favorable. Leaving reliable sources sitting on capacity that needs to ramp up and down even more to take up the slack. Make them all compete for contracts that require a minimum constant for a 24hr period and capacity to meet peak demand – i.e. matching energy demand- and then companies would minimize the unreliables.

Ed Fox
January 10, 2022 10:15 am

A major point that seems to be overlooked is that the construction of solar and wind INCREASES CO2.

At best each dedicated solar panel or windmill produces enough power to build 2 or 3 panels or windmills in its lifetime, with no surplus power left over.

Which means that clean energy cannot build the machines to deliver clean energy in anything like the time available.

Which means that a rapid adoption of clean energy will increase CO2, not reduce it.

Willem Post
Reply to  Ed Fox
January 11, 2022 3:12 pm

Actually, for each additional MWh of wind added to the grid, LESS additional CO2/MWh is reduced.

For an island grid, at about 20% from wind, about 0.56 x 20% of CO2 is reduced.
That is a far cry from 1 to 1 .

Ed Fox
January 10, 2022 10:39 am

Consider a solar panel producing energy to produce more panels. Or a windmill producing more windmills.

At wholesale prices it takes about 10 years to produce enough energy to build a second one. Now (2032) you have 2 producing and at the end of 20 years (2042) you have 4 in total. But now you must retire the first one. It is at the end of its life so you only have 3 (by 2042).

And by 2052 you have produced 3 more but must retire 2, so in total you only have 4. What originally looked so promising, exponential growth over time turns out to be false. All you have managed is linear growth.

Given the low adoption of renewable energy at this time, there is no way to reach net zero using renewables without actually increasing CO2 emissions. It is simply impossible with linear growth.

January 10, 2022 11:20 am

The way forward is incredibly simple – a single government announcement as follows:

“The cost of wind and solar electricity has come down so fast that they are now fully competitive with all other sources of electricity. There is now no need for any wind or solar subsidy or mandate, so the government is delighted to announce that all subsidies and mandates for renewable energy have now been ended. We are expecting this to cause a massive surge in the roll-out of renewable energy installations, so the government is putting in place new fast-track processes so that all new renewable energy installations can proceed to completion as fast as possible. The government now expects renewable energy to provide 100% of all electricity by 2025.”

Some people may feel that there is a gap in the logic somewhere, but the above statement is every bit as logical as any other government statement or action on renewable energy over the last 30 years. It is so sad that governments around the world seem to be incapable of drawing logical conclusions from all the reports showing renewable energy to be the cheapest. A change of policy as above would usher in a new age of abundant cheap energy for all.

Iain Reid
January 10, 2022 11:29 pm

While the myth that renewables are cheap is generally accepted as it’s repeated so often in the media and elsewhere but the cost of incorporating them onto a grid is overlooked and that is a significant cost.
What I do not see is the fact that asynchronous renewables (wind, wave, tidal or solar) cannot replace fully synchronous conventional generation and if too much asynchronous (basically uncontrollable output) is fed into a grid that must keep frequency within very close limits are trips as frequency goes out of limits.
The more renewables feeding the grid the less stable and less reliable it becomes. There is no question of renewables taking over from conventional power generators, renewables are not equivalent to conventional generators. 100% renewable grid generation is when you will see the sky full of flying pigs.

Willem Post
January 11, 2022 5:07 am

Wind and solar are nowhere near competitive with traditional sources, which AVERAGE 5 c/kWh, WHOLESALE.

“All-in” Electricity Cost of Wind and Solar in New England
Pro RE folks point to the “price paid to owner” as the cost of wind and solar, purposely ignoring the other cost categories. The all-in cost of wind and solar, c/kWh, includes:
1) Above-market-price paid to Owners 
2) Subsidies paid to Owners
3) Owner return on invested capital at about 9%/y
4) Grid extension/augmentation 
5) Grid support services 
6) Future battery systems 

Comments on table 6
– Vermont legacy Standard Offer solar systems had greater subsidies paid to owner, than newer systems
– Wind prices paid to owner did not have the drastic reductions as solar prices.
– Vermont utilities are paid about 3.5 c/kWh for various costs they incur regarding net-metered solar systems
– “Added to rate base” is the cost wind and solar are added to the utility rate base, used to set electric rates.
– “Total cost”, including subsidies to owner and grid support, is the cost at which wind/solar are added to the utility rate base

– “NE utility cost” is the annual average cost of purchased electricity, about 6 c/kWh, plus NE grid operator charges, about 1.6 c/kWh
for a total of 7.6 c/kWh.

– “Grid support costs” would increase with increased use of battery systems to counteract the variability and intermittency of increased build-outs of wind and solar systems.
1) NE wholesale grid price averaged about 5 c/kWh, starting in 2009, due to low-cost CCGT and nuclear plants providing at least 65% of all electricity loaded onto the NE grid, in 2019.

2) There are Owning costs, and Operating and Maintenance costs, of the NE grid
ISO-NE charges these costs to utilities at about 1.6 c/kWh. The ISO-NE charges include: 
Regional network services, RNS, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a month
Forward capacity market, FCM, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a year.


Sample calculation; NE utility cost = 6, Purchased + 1.6, (RNS + FCM) = 7.6 c/kWh
Sample calculation; Added to utility base = 17.4 + 3.5 = 20.9 c/kWh 
Sample calculation; Total cost = 17.4 + 5.2 + 2.1 + 3.5 + 1.6 = 29.8 c/kWh

Excludes costs for very expensive battery systems
Excludes costs for very expensive floating, offshore wind systems
Excludes cost for dealing with shortfalls during multi-day wind/solar lulls. See URL
“Added to rate base” is for recent 20-y electricity supply contracts awarded by competitive bidding in NE.
“Added to rate base” would be much higher without subsidies and cost shifting.
Areas with better wind and solar conditions, and lower construction costs/MW have lower c/MWh, than NE

January 11, 2022 5:20 am

Yep, seconds out – and let’s have a fair fight … before wind and solar are concerned to the very rare niches in which they make sense!

Pat from Kerbob
January 11, 2022 12:18 pm

As has been pointed out a million times, and many times below.
All wind and solar require 100% backup by gas/coal/nuclear at minimum. There in lies the cost

Gas/coal/nuclear, require no back up from wind and solar. Therein lies the savings

Alberta is 12GW grid connected load.
Based on AESO stats of 1/3 availability we need 36GW of installed wind (solar is a joke here at the top of the world). ~11,000 3.3 mw turbines (currently we have ~700? in the best wind resource areas already giving us the awesome 1/3 availability )

Grid scale batteries are a fantasy so we also need gas/coal backup to ensure 100% supply, so we need ~130% or 15.6 GW of that installed to ensure we always have enough power when needed.
Which we pretty much have today. If we didn’t have it we would have to build it, maintain it, run it so its available 24/7 to back up the wind.

Cost on top of cost on top of cost.

Its so easy and so i wonder why Griff et al refuse to see it.

We have a grid now.
If we add in 11,000 wind turbines we still need the rest of it currently existing, we cannot get rid of it lest we die in the next winter weeklong -30 wind desert.

Why is this difficult for some?

When the magic batteries exist, then we can talk.
Without magic batteries, its a pipe dream

King Coal
January 12, 2022 9:42 am

Not today – no wind, no generation!

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