What is the Full Cost?

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen – 20 May 2022

A friend recently decided to get a pet – more precisely, a dog.  This friend does seasonal work, employed six months and then at wits-end the rest of the year.  He does useful things with the off time like rebuilding an old home he purchased, stocking his freezer with wild fish and game, and helping friends and neighbors.   I asked him if he knew how much dogs cost in real dollars.    He replied that he would adopt a shelter dog – free.  I asked again if he knew how much a free shelter dog was going to cost him.   As you can guess, he had no idea of the real Full Cost.  Here’s pet industry estimates:

Up to $1,000 upfront and another $1,000 per year.  These expenses apply to a stay-at-home dog and not one that needs occasional boarding, dog-walking services or doggie day care. And that’s only if your dog doesn’t get sick.  In my experience as a pet professional, every new dog gets sick and goes to the vet at least once in the first six months – at an average cost of $250 per visit on top of the usual $250/yr vet visit bills. 

This essay is not about buying a dog, though I could tell you a few hair-raising tales on that topic.  It is about the Full Costs of Things (or FCOT)

What do we mean by the Full Cost of Things?

As the dog-buying example shows, even free things come with costs – immediate costs, additional predictable costs, expected recurring costs, unexpected recurring costs and a long list of things that eventually have to be paid.  For dogs, that means the eventuality of the dogs dying-days expenses (some people spend thousands and thousands of dollars to prolong the dying days of a beloved pet) and burial costs. 

For automobiles, we all suffer the maintenance costs, insurance costs, repair bills, body work from minor bumps, new tires, snow tires when we move to a four-season home.  Many a person has been convinced that they can afford an automobile because they could afford the monthly payments only to discover that they could not afford the total cost of ownership – the Full Cost of the Thing. The point here is that there are lots costs that come with simple ownership or use of a thing. 

This brings us to:

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

In advanced developed countries, we take electricity as a given – when we flip the light switch, the electricity will flow and the light bulb (or new LED bulb) will shed light into the room.  We know that the electricity is not actually free but most of us don’t fuss about the cost of using indoor lighting when needed. 

The average cost of electricity for a U.S. home is about $132 a month, with a lot of variation between states.  That’s the cost a consumer is most aware of.  However, the consumer is also paying for the cost of the electricity goes into the goods and products that he buys which is included in the purchase price.  The list of these ‘hidden electricity costs’ includes things like the smelting of metals like aluminum, the refrigeration of foods in the grocery store, additional taxes for street lighting – an endless list.

When we talk of the Global Transition to Green Energy, by any of its myriad names,  we have a much larger issue.  While energy freely flows all around us, neither being created nor destroyed, energy in forms that we can store and use at will to do the work we need done, such as lighting a light bulb, making steel, rotating the blades of our lawn mower or powering our electric car, comes at a cost. 

The idea of ‘free energy’ available from solar panels or the wind has had to be abandoned – there simply “ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” (h/t Robert Heinlein).

There is an important new paper out:

This peer-reviewed paper has been accepted by the Journal for Management and Sustainability and will appear in the June 2022 issue at the Canadian Center of Science and Education. The Journal of Management and Sustainability (JMS) is an international, double-blind peer-reviewed, open-access journal for academics and practitioners of sustainable management. The abstract starts with:

Both the abstract  and the full paper are freely available.

Its concepts are previewed in a 19 minute video in “Sage Talks” as The Future of Energy by Dr. Lars Schernikau.

(click image or here.)

The current thinking in the energy field, amongst policy makers and some utility managers, is that “The LCOE – Levelized Cost of Energy — of utility scale solar power and onshore wind power is less than coal and gas-fired power stations.” [ source

Schernikau et al. contend that:

 “LCOE is inadequate to compare intermittent forms of energy generation with dispatchable ones and when making decisions at a country or society level.  We introduce and describe the methodology for determining the full cost of electricity (FCOE) or the full cost to society.  FCOE explains why wind and solar are not cheaper than conventional fuels and in fact become more expensive the higher their penetration in the energy system.  The IEA confirms ‘…the system value of variable renewables such as wind and solar decreases as their share in the power supply increases’. This is illustrated by the high cost of the ‘green’ energy transition.”

The full paper comprises ten pages of three column text and a further two of appendices and references.   It can not be summarized here in a thousand words.  The video (above)  is 19 minutes, however, I recommend taking the slightly longer time to read the full paper if energy production and costs is of interest to you.

I’ll try to give you an idea of it through a few of its charts:

Germany has reached a wind/solar share for gross electricity production of ~28%. The primary energy share of wind and solar (Note 2), however, was still only 5%. To achieve this “transition”, Germany’s installed power capacity had to double (Figure 2) [ above ]. Consequently, the renewable energy sector grossly underperformed, compared to its investment in real energy terms, and Germany’s electricity prices reached the highest among the G20.”

When Schernikau et al. consider the Full Cost of Electricity (FCOE), this is what they mean:

Policy makers today often use only LCOE – Levelized Cost of Energy – when they look at cost of electricity from various sources.  LCOE is seen in the chart above in the upper left corner and does not include the other costs in the left column.

eROI – Energy Return on Energy Invested

The authors suggest that environmental efficiency of energy is more complex than GHG emissions alone. Especially energy return on energy invested, or energy return ‒ eROI, material input, lifetime, and recycling efficiency need to be considered as they determine additional very important environmental and economic elements for evaluating electricity generation.”

eROI measures the energy efficiency of an energy gathering system. Higher eROI translates to lower environmental and economic costs, thus lower prices and higher utility. Lower eROI translates to higher environmental and economic costs, thus higher prices and lower utility. When we use less input energy to produce the same output energy, our systems become environmentally and economically more viable. When we use relatively more input energy for each unit of output energy, we risk what is referred to as “energy starvation” (see Appendix on energy shortages). At an eROI of 1 or below, we are running our systems at an energy deficit.”

The eROI concept is illustrated with this image:

The red arrow at the top of the column representing Coal and Gas signifies the efficiency loss due to CCUS – Carbon capture utilization and storage.  Similar, the red arrow for Wind, Solar, Biomass is the loss due to the use of excess or unutilized renewable electricity to manufacture “green hydrogen”.

“…as illustrated in Figure 10, global primary energy consumption could rise by up to 50% by 2050 (~25% population increase and ~20% PE/capita increase translates to ~50% PE demand increase). Energy demand growth is fueled by developing nations in Asia, Africa, and South America. Developed nations are expected to consume less energy in the decades to come, driven by population decrease/stagnation and efficiency increases. However, historically, energy efficiency improvements have always increased energy demand (see Jevons Paradox,  Polimeni et al., 2015).”

Wrapping up, Schernikau et al. offer Fig 12, which illustrates their point that variable renewable energy sources do not fulfill the actual objectives of energy policy – providing a basis for healthy lives and societal growth – failing the tests of energy security, affordability, and even failing all but one important aspect of environmental protection.

Bottom Line:

Investment in – not divestment from – fossil fuel is the logical conclusion not only to eradicate (energy) poverty, improve environmental and economic efficiency of fossil-fuel-installed capacity (whether it be for transportation, heating, or generating electricity), but also to avoid a prolonged energy crisis that started in second half of 2021.”

Readers with a serious interest in the ongoing but often misguided effort to transition the world to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels and nuclear will find that the time and effort to read the full paper to be good investment. 

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

Lars Schernikau, Bill Hayden Smith and Rosemary Falcon have done a fabulous job putting together the argument that rushing to shift to intermittent renewable energy sources is premature and will lead directly to higher electricity costs for consumers and potentially to a prolonged period of energy shortages. 

Note that the paper was written before the Russo-Ukraine conflict broke out which has caused additional stress on the energy systems of Europe, particularly in Germany. Even if the conflict is resolved before the end of 2022, there will still be huge problems in keeping the homes of western Europe heated this coming winter.  The billions spent on wind farms and solar farms will be seen to have been unwisely spent.

The real cause of this disaster is politicians allowing themselves to be panicked into buying into renewables without first considering the real full cost.

Failing to know the Full Cost of a Thing before purchasing has led many a family into budgetary disaster. And today, many a nation is falling into the same trap on the energy front.

Schernikau et al. will collectively try to answer your questions in the comments but be aware that they are working scientists spread across time zones.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

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Steve Case
May 20, 2022 2:10 pm

I’d like to know how much one of those giant wind “Turbines” cost if it weren’t for all the subsidies. I’m guessing several million a copy. How far off the mark is that?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Steve Case
May 20, 2022 3:04 pm

Based on my past analysis cited below, the onshore wind capital cost is over $1 million/MW. The (US) subsidies involve wind operations, not the initial wind capital investment. That is now differing for off shore wind in New England, at the state not federal level.

willem post
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 21, 2022 5:39 am

Always remember, the more installed MW of wind, solar and batteries, etc., per household, the higher the household electric rates, as proven by Denmark and Germany, the poster children of energy system insanity.

This has been know and written about for about 15 years.

This article introduces a lot of complex concepts that most people would not understand, unless they had engineering degrees and MBAs.

Luckily, figure 2 comes to the rescue

Figure 2 clearly shows, Germany’s ENEGIEWENDE has been a miserable failure, despite 20 years of hype.

It has been extremely costly to German households and the German economy, i.e., the FCOE has been very high.

The authors should have estimated the German FCOE as a methodology example for other countries. It would have greatly improved their article.

A Future with Energy Prices Tied to Gold

Germans have been living in la-la-land, due to plentiful, low-cost oil, gas and coal from Russia, at extremely low prices, i.e., the FCOE of ANY ADDITIONAL ENERGIEWENDE is about to significantly increase RIGHT NOW.

The US idea of “Russia must not be allowed to win” is easy to say for the energy-sufficient US

It is total BS for energy-starved Europe.

Europe will have a much higher FCOE, and will be at a significant competitive disadvantage vs the rest of the world, going forward.

China and India are increasing their consumption of coal, oil and gas, regardless of whatever COP.

Russia is supplying most of those increases.

China is planning to expand BRISC with more members, as a counterweight to the US/EU

willem post
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 10:37 am

Thank you.

The Energiewende has lots of published production and cost data that can be used, as a start, to calculate the FCOE from year to year, to prove the annual FCOE increase with increasing wind/solar/battery, etc., madness, which other countries, less “RE-advanced ” than Germany, can look forward to, if they choose to follow that route.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 21, 2022 8:28 am

Costs to install range from $1,100 to $1,500 per kW onshore, and quite a bit more offshore. So, Rud’s estimate is about right on the low side.

Willem post
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 21, 2022 9:15 am

I made a comment, but it disappeared

Ed Reid
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 4:34 am

Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (Dominion Energy) cost is ~$57 million per 15 MW wind turbine without any provision for storage.

Willem post
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 21, 2022 3:10 pm

The $57 million is the turnkey capital cost of wind turbines, and to bring the power ashore.

Then comes the capital cost of transmission upgrades, which is socialized.

plus the increase in operating, maintenance, wear and tear, and fuel costs imposed on OTHER generating plants, usually CCGTS, to counteract the variable wind output, 24/7/365

plus the cost of staffed, fueled, standby/reserve generation, in case the wind is insufficient

plus the annual cost of federal and state grants, subsidies, accelerated depreciation, deductions of loan interest costs, etc.

plus the annual cost of the owner’s return on his investment, at about 9%/y,

plus the annual cost of amortizing bank loans at about 6%/y

Pretty soon, we would have the FCOE of offshore wind.

In the real world, a lot of these costs are not separately identified and quantified, and much of the costs are SHIFTED to ratepayers, taxpayers and government debts, which makes offshore wind LOOK a lot less costly per kWh, than in reality.

Willem post
Reply to  Willem post
May 21, 2022 3:14 pm

plus the operation and maintenance costs of the offshore wind turbine system, which are at least 3 times the cost of a similar onshore wind system

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Willem post
May 21, 2022 7:43 pm

Therein lies the problem – the massive misinformation making wind and solar appear far cheaper than they actually are. This feeds the delusions of the delusional (that we can ‘replace’ fossil fuels with windmills and solar panels.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 21, 2022 7:25 pm

Another way of saying ~$57 Million and counting down the drain.

D. J. Hawkins
May 20, 2022 2:16 pm

In my MS-42 course in Engineering Economics the phenomenon is labeled “Cost Commitment”. Dogs are very much treated as family members by those who truly love them. I will not embarrass myself by posting how much we spent on one of our dogs near the end of his life, but we went from paying our credit cards off each month to carrying more than an average balance for 10 years.

As you point out, a similar lesson is received by every first-time car buyer.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
May 20, 2022 8:08 pm

Yes and in a way explains a lot..

In that The Environment itself, or what many imagine it to be, has become = The Pet Dog

iow No financial £$££$$ cost is too much when it comes to preserving it – or how anyone imagines it to be ##

It is at the root of many heartfelt (because that’s what they are) discussions on here when wind turbines are actually and imagined to be knocking birds out of the sky.
Such discussions as those always ‘get me going’ because the concern here and most places is over the ‘big strong manly’ birds like eagles, falcons and other epic raptors.
While totally ignoring the dozen+ small song-birds that are eaten, daily, just to keep a single one of the big raptors aloft.
Somehow that maintaining an eagle comes at zero cost, just as wind and sun come at zero cost
While it’s entirely obvious that any attack on Big Raptors is an attack on their own personal manhood.

No-one is immune from their own heartfelt imagination and why these sorts of discussions will never get anywhere.
Such discussions, and this discussion itself, are exactly the sort of ‘waste of energy/time/money/resource’ that is being pointed to and derided.

C’mon Clever People – work out the resources used in simply having and thereafter maintaining this discussion out here/there/everywhere on the interweb.
It’s like saying “Sand is cheap” while totally ignoring the costs of making it into large scale integrated silicon chips and assembling them into computer, routers and server farms.

What is the EROEI on this craic here today?

## It still makes me smile/angry to recall a female from NASA describing A Proper Forest as: “An open airy space with greenery and dappled shade on its floor
How many folks here agree with her?
She describes a forest from Disneyland, a forest that is dead on its feet.
Smile yes because such things are very pretty lovely romantic
Angry that the supposed premier science authority on this globe thinks in that way.

May 20, 2022 2:23 pm

I have often pointed to this link on the EROEI Cliff.

The point is that for sufficiently low values of EROEI, so much energy is used getting energy that there isn’t enough left to power civilization.

As long as you don’t care when you get your electricity, wind has a not bad EROEI. Since it really really matters when we get our electricity, we have to consider the cost of buffered wind power (ie. with storage or backup). In that case, the EROEI is over the cliff and it’s back to the stone age for us.

What the environmental dweebs (as opposed to folks who actually care about the real environment) ignore is that we are quite a bit more efficient in our use of material and energy than our ancestors.

The cost of trying to use ‘free’ wind and solar energy, is that things become much less efficient, causing us to use more resources, and environmental damage goes way up, not down.

Curious George
Reply to  commieBob
May 20, 2022 2:33 pm

What is a full cost of “civilization”? It depends on the civilization, in a multi-cultural sense. A full cost of a cannibalistic civilization could be fairly low. Would you prefer to live in it?

Chris Hanley
Reply to  commieBob
May 20, 2022 3:43 pm

EROEI is a concept that people seem to have difficulty grasping, instead of thinking of cost in terms of units of energy they think in units of currency ($).

Howard Dewhirst
May 20, 2022 2:29 pm

An excellent review, we only need to get politicians to look, listen & learn; but how?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
May 21, 2022 4:10 am

If they did that they would no longer be politicians.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 21, 2022 8:34 am

Nor perhaps could be.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
May 21, 2022 10:16 am

You have more chance finding a politician looking for Massive Fergy (sic) Tractors on their mobile device in the HoC, than finding even one of them studying anything, particularly anything in the subject of Climate Change. Why would they bother? Their favourite go to source of information the BBC has declared it is settled science, remember? They have declared things are so bad there is nothing to do but to hunker down and hope you are the last one to be drowned by rising seas, or baked in boiling temperatures, or blown away by intense hurricane winds. None of which is remotely real of course in the real world.

Reply to  Rod Evans
May 21, 2022 12:37 pm

They have the bureaucrats to do all the tedious research, and then tell them the results in a couple bullet points. Of course, it would help if the bureaucrats weren’t pushing an agenda (that increases their wealth and power).

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 21, 2022 1:55 pm

Who elected those bureaucrats?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Mike Lowe
May 21, 2022 8:07 pm

People who allow themselves to be ‘divided and conquered’ based on issues government shouldn’t have their noses in to begin with, deluded fools, useful idiots, and dead people whose votes continue to be cast, I suspect.

Rud Istvan
May 20, 2022 2:42 pm

It is probably true that LCOE is not FCOE. But some years ago, a senior utility exec and I redid the ‘official’ 2016 EIA LCOE for CCGT and onshore wind for 2015, using the ERCOT grid and its then 10% wind penetration for actuals on things like backup and extra transmission. The post is still available over at Judith’s Climate Etc. as ‘True cost of wind’.

EIA was then claiming onshore wind was about the same LCOE as CCGT, about $95/MWh. When their gross (and deliberate IMO) errors were corrected, the ‘true’ LCOE of CCGT was about $58/MWh. The ‘true’ cost of wind was $146/MWh. This estimate also excluded the then wind subsidies, which if added would make wind even more expensive—3x rather than ~2.5x.
Nuff said.

May 20, 2022 2:55 pm

As a graduate engineer, what was drummed to me by my principle whenever I worked on anything was to “do the math”. He told me that I lacked that ability because the people who taught at Skule were mostly academics that did not have to actually build what was sought and live by their work, so they could only do “theory”.
My principle was an engineer that worked on the first Candus and he explained to me why there were cost overruns, and it was always because the people selling the things never had to actually add up all of the costs of the thing, or do the math. Sure they could figure out what the materials cost fairly well at the time they looked into them, but the full cost never seemed to take into account all of the other matters that that went into the costs of building a reactor, such as inflation, or siting, or wheeling, or regulatory issues (from the “Hollywood effect” he would say, pointing to certain panic from films), etc.
When anyone selling solar or wind power talk about the cost, invariably they fail to add in the costs of approvals, land costs when the sellers know what is being built, connection, material demand, wheeling demand, line sag, maintenance, cleaning the power, etc., as these things are variable and, let’s face it, difficult, so he always told me to take my best estimate and then at least double it. Even then, it was never the full cost.

Reply to  Expulsive
May 20, 2022 4:13 pm

What you describe @Expulsive is consistent with my experience in property development and project management (I operated commercially and was a part-time lecturer).

Reply to  Streetcred
May 21, 2022 10:50 am

It’s notable that one of the highest levels of business collapses is in the building & construction sector.

I worked in a financial capacity for a major construction corporation for a few years, and saw first hand how often their 5% profit projections on major projects actually turned losses.

I defy anyone to accurately budget $30 million projects over 2-year periods to result in ~ 5% pre-tax profits.

Even overly-generous cost contingencies didn’t offset the imponderable variables.

Reply to  Mr.
May 21, 2022 6:18 pm

The vast majority of contractors in Australia who win tender work to do so consequence of their ignorance. They are only as accurate as the prices from their subcontractors and they have no skill in assessing the accuracy of bids. Imagine your whole business reliant on the administrative skills of small trade based subcontractors … and we wonder why so many building groups in Australia go broke when their cashflow reliant strategies fail. Happening right now.

Exactly the same with ‘property developers’.

Budgeting accurately can be done if you have skilled resources to do the job.

Reply to  Expulsive
May 20, 2022 4:31 pm

My rule of thumb was to always do my sharpest pencil estimate with no contingency and then triple it. Was usually pretty close.

Willem post
Reply to  Fraizer
May 21, 2022 4:30 am

The rule of thumb of extremist, leftist liberals is, it does not matter how much it costs, because they will print enough dollars to paper over the deficits, plus it is a government program that they will run for THEIR benefit, I.e., stay in power.

Biden’s handlers/teleprompter-controllers were promoting BBB, which was a perfect example of extremist leftist boondoggle. Thank the Lord for Manchin.

Reply to  Expulsive
May 21, 2022 12:40 pm

Expulsive –

Thanks. Please remind me what “wheeling” is.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 21, 2022 2:00 pm

For me too! Please! Surely not something to do with expensive hand-made car body parts?

J Mac
May 20, 2022 3:00 pm

Intermittent renewables are the diseased ‘free’ doggie in the environmentalist’s window. Not cheap to adopt and too expensive to keep.

Tom Halla
May 20, 2022 3:02 pm

Then there are the costs imposed on users that are indirect. I was in California during the early 2000’s black and brownouts. I was a paint contractor, and it takes a minimum of half an hour to clean out a spray rig if the power goes hinky. One needs to maintain a wet edge on the side of a building for the job to come out right, so it was a matter of having to shut down for the day, and hope the power was on long enough to clean the rig out.
I can only imagine what intermittent electricity cost other industries.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 20, 2022 6:38 pm

A blackout for more than a few hours in an aluminium smelter costs upwards of a year to fully recover. Well insured smelters will recover it from insurance but the premium will surely rise.

The normal workforce will not be enough to recover the operation inside a year so numerous contractors add to the cost burden during the recovery period.

If a smelter in Australia loses a smelting linen the current circumstances, it would be unlikely to restart unless the government steps in, which has occurred in Victoria. It is now socialised aluminium production.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  RickWill
May 21, 2022 8:48 am

Good comment which applies spectacularly to industrial processes like smelting aluminum, but applies in a greater or smaller way to everything else. When government artificially makes economic activity too expensive for the private sector, then government has to provide the products and services. The end point is consuming too much input to produce poor quality products and services. Almost everyone now suffers a decline in their quality of life.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 21, 2022 2:04 pm

Indeed. The very reason why governments should never attempt to “pick winners”. They very rarely win!

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  RickWill
May 22, 2022 6:33 am

Ever hear of CO-GEN back-up? Any one in the smelter business that does not invest in a system suffers the consequences.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  RickWill
May 23, 2022 7:06 am

As usual…privatize the “gains” (which in this case are essentially government hand-outs to the rich who have money to “invest” in worse than useless wind and solar “power”) and socialize the losses by soaking the taxpayers a second time with “bailouts,” etc.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 21, 2022 2:02 pm

One of the “unforeseen consequences” of the Green religion!

May 20, 2022 3:05 pm

TINSTAFL for sure. Fighting the “free electricity” narrative is an uphill battle though that will only be won after the fact when people realize they were duped. One area I never see included is life of PV panels and wind turbines. Replacement cycles will be never ending like fluorescent light bulbs. It will get to the point that the cost to keep up will surpass initial installation costs within decades.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 9:48 am

Same thing would apply to the battery storage units.

Anyone know which will fail first, the panel or the battery, and the cost to replace?

May 20, 2022 3:05 pm


….is premature and will lead directly to higher electricity costs for consumers and potentially to a prolonged period of energy shortages. “

And, we should note, such a change will have absolutely no positive effect on the environment.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  dk_
May 23, 2022 7:12 am

I’d take it a step further – it will have a decidedly NEGATIVE effect on the environment, when all the mining, waste stream, land use, bird bat and insect carnage, and negative health effects are considered.

Chris Hanley
May 20, 2022 3:12 pm

Thanks for the video link, an excellent concise summary of the current energy madness with hopeful solutions.

May 20, 2022 3:15 pm

What is the Full Cost?

How long is a piece of string?

May 20, 2022 3:54 pm

There appears an inconsistency in the ERoEI chart showing the high ERoEI for nuclear and the high cost of nuclear. The high costs are not associated with the scale. A portion of the high cost is due to the long operating life but it is not the sole factor.

The cost of things is usually reflective of the energy expended in creating them.

The ERoEI for nuclear plants should include the energy that goes into the legal battles and long delays with the project team wasting time and energy in getting through the legal and environmental delays. The same for coal plants. It is almost impossible to build a new coal plant in Australia due to the legal challenges.

My point is that the high cost of nuclear plants is somewhat artificial. It is an imposed cost that is independent of the energy content in creating the operating plant.

The urgent need for all policy is to reduce the cost of building nuclear plants by streamlining the approvals. This should be the prime focus of energy development globally.

The UN IPCC has latched on to climate “ambition” as a means to develop a steady income stream. They are influential in this charge toward energy poverty.

Craig Strange
May 20, 2022 4:00 pm

I reviewed the LCOE calculations. They were wrong as they had the lifespan of the generating assets BADLY wrong. To say that LCOE was lowest for ‘renewables’ is to propagate this faulty data

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Craig Strange
May 20, 2022 4:16 pm

See my reference above for details. You are correct.

May 20, 2022 4:10 pm

Just look up the data for yourselves, so we have to use BASE-LOAD, RELIABLE energy and forget about TOXIC, UNRELIABLE solar and wind and ditto clueless, unreliable TOXIC EVs as well.
Here’s Willis’ “Where’s the Emergency” post AGAIN. When will we WAKE UP?.


Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 20, 2022 7:06 pm

Yes Kip but S & W are a TOXIC disaster and leads to ENERGY POVERTY.
It seems like Nuclear power is the best, but until they have the brains to wake up we’re stuck with fossil fuels.
Perhaps small modular nukes are the way to go and who knows we may see fusion nukes in the next 20, 30 or 50 years?

May 20, 2022 5:03 pm

Like Sun and Wind, Coal and Oil are just lying around there, free, just waiting to be used. It is the on-costs that determine their price.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 23, 2022 9:05 am

Yes but they are infinitely better than Sun and Wind, because unlike Sun and Wind, they are high density, provide energy storage as an implicit characteristic, and provide dispatchable, reliable energy.

Thomas Gasloli
May 20, 2022 5:05 pm

Of course it is possible that those in government understand “renewable power” is more expensive & will drive up the cost of electricity to consumers. After all, these are the people who in recent months dramatically increased the cost of oil, gasoline, diesel, and pretty much everything else, and that seem satisfied with the results.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 20, 2022 8:01 pm

John Robson wrote an excellent example of the use of sarcasm with this topic, classic


Doc Chuck
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 20, 2022 8:05 pm

I must say that I’m greatly comforted as I look forward to the emerging professional panderers delivering all my gasoline, motor oil, natural gas, electricity, and water needs free as a newly acknowledged human right, if not as reparations for how my forebears were once so surely ill-treated by somebody or other. And I want you all to know that it warms my heart to thank anyone in advance who was not themselves a historic perpetrator for making good in our own day on this longstanding debt to sorrowful me.

Reply to  Doc Chuck
May 21, 2022 5:23 am

“historic perpetrator for making good in our own day on this longstanding debt to sorrowful me.” and me and my family (extended or not).

Dave Fair
Reply to  Doc Chuck
May 21, 2022 11:10 am

We have all become victims. The results will be like a snake eating its own tail.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 11:07 am

Voters will get it. One can win elections with race-bating only for so long.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Dave Fair
May 21, 2022 2:11 pm

Does that take into account the “sheeple effect”?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Mike Lowe
May 21, 2022 2:54 pm

Mike, we are all sheeple to varying extents. Most of us need shelter and a way to get to a job in order to feed and clothe our families. We notice when things are going to hell and tend to shove aside those standing in the way of our wellbeing.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Dave Fair
May 23, 2022 10:44 am

Which is why they are now shifting the “divide and conquer” strategy to abortion rights to keep the stampede to the cliff edge moving.

Nicholas McGinley
May 20, 2022 5:33 pm

I think the space requirement metric for hydro needs to take into account the other benefits of having hydroelectric dams and reservoirs, besides for just the power derived from releasing the water through the power plant.
The water impounded forms a lake which has recreational value.
The lake has value for raising the water level for gravity fed irrigation.
It has value for preventing downstream floods.
It has value for preventing periods where no water is available due to uneven precipitation patterns.

And those add up to a lot of value.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 20, 2022 6:45 pm

But the rare lungfish (or whatever you like) is endangered by the lack of flow or flooding or whatever environmental threat that wins the day.

Australia is installing desalination plants as it is the easy path to ensure there is enough water for domestic needs. As long as there is electric power of course.

Reply to  RickWill
May 20, 2022 10:02 pm

What are they doing with the salt?

Reply to  H.R.
May 21, 2022 6:25 pm

Pumping the brine straight back into the ocean.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  H.R.
May 23, 2022 10:47 am

It’s good seasoning…

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  RickWill
May 23, 2022 10:46 am

But then they have been working overtime to ensure there will NOT be reliable electric power. D’oh!

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 21, 2022 5:29 am

“The water impounded forms a lake which has recreational value.” Until the dam(s) break. It takes minutes to watch that recreational value plummet with the level of the lake. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/flooding-hits-parts-midwest-evacuations-michigan-n1210536

For those unfamiliar with the events, the costs to repair the dams is being shared by those residents who maintained ownership around the now non-existent lakes.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 10:03 am

And I responded then: “Kip Hansen()

Reply to 
May 23, 2020 8:29 am
CoRev ==> Thanks for the additional data from a local viewpoint.”

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 21, 2022 11:20 am

Based on my work for the Bonneville and Western Area Power Administrations I have long believed that LCOE and other electric power analyses should include specific allowances for: 1) Flood control; 2) irrigation; and 3) recreation (including all the businesses that grow from it).

May 20, 2022 7:31 pm

My dog has cost me over $3,500 in recent months. Good thing she’s not renewable energy.

Smart Rock
May 20, 2022 7:54 pm

The spurious argument that wind and solar energy are free could equally be applied to other sources of power. You can say that the energy in a barrel of oil is free, but you have to pay for the oil plus the installation and operation of the generating equipment. Similarly, you could say that the energy in a ton of coal, or a kilo of uranium,or the energy in a waterfall, they are all free if you choose not to allocate a price to the energy. So what?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Smart Rock
May 20, 2022 9:38 pm

Coal oil gas nuclear you get more energy than you put in, that is the point

Reply to  Smart Rock
May 20, 2022 10:43 pm

There seems to be a lot of confusion here. One could argue that the un-mined oil and coal in the ground is free, just like the sun’s rays and the wind are free. However, it should be obvious that all coal and oil has to be mined and transported, sometimes long distances, at significant cost.

The sun and the wind are free in the sense that they do not have to be mined and transported. The owner of coal-fired power plant has to pay for the coal that is the source of energy. The owner of a solar farm does not have to pay for the sun’s rays which are the source of energy. It’s free. Got it?

However, I don’t want this post to get too many negative ticks, so I’ll add that I do believe that the full cost of energy from solar power is currently higher than the full cost of energy from coal and oil, for reason outlined in the excellent article.

This, however, might change in the future as technology evolves.

Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 12:34 am

I should also add that I do not believe there should be a rush to replace fossil fuels with renewables. Energy supplies are the life-blood of civilization and our prosperity. We should explore all potential sources of energy and how to use them in the most efficient manner which also causes the least harm to the environment.

An obvious advantage of power from solar and wind is that the ‘source’ is not only free but the supply is ‘effectively’ unlimited. An obvious disadvantage is that the supply is not continuous and reliable in any given location. These disadvantages are being addressed, and the history of technological progress has many examples of remarkable achievements that most people would never have predicted.

Windmills and solar farms covering the natural landscape do not appeal to me. They’re horrible! However, solar tiles or shingles that cover the entire roof of a house could be a more efficient generator of electricity, for the household, than a coal-fired power plant.

If a house is designed from the beginning to maximize the benefits of solar power, then it’s reasonable to deduce that the total cost of the power will be less. For example, if solar tiles are used instead of conventional solar panels which are added to existing roofs, then a major part of the cost is absorbed by the normal construction costs of a tiled roof.

The solar-tiled roof could be as durable as normal tiled roofs, and at an additional cost even more durable, perhaps lasting 50 years without repair or replacement. The intermittency problem could be solved by cheaper, more durable, and safer batteries which don’t require the use of expensive, rare-earth metals. Voila!

Dave Fair
Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 11:25 am

“… and then the miracle happened.”

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Vincent
May 23, 2022 1:05 pm

Collection of the ‘free’ “source” is anything BUT free, and the resources expended attempting to do so are simply wasted.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 12:48 am

My good fellow, the point is that the renewable above-ground sourced radiant solar energy and its secondary heat-driven wind momenta are not so free from needing to be ‘mined’ in their own airier location; enlisting (fossil fuel generated) concrete footed aluminum braced and framed glass-enclosed carefully doped silicon wafer panels or else rather more deeply substantial concrete footed (fossil fuel produced steel) towers bearing fiber reinforced (fossil fuel sourced) plastic blades turning their (fossil fuel sourced) well lubricated electric steel geared generating machinery to harvest such recurrently non-producing boons as may then often be distantly conducted to those thus sporadically energized. This is not so unlike the extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas from their nether residences despite childish magical claims veiling the truth from our wits. But any lingering doubts about all this simply await making your own collectors of this ready resource with your very own hands.

Reply to  Doc Chuck
May 21, 2022 5:24 am

Let’s consider the comparison between a solar farm and a coal-fired power plant. Both the solar farm and the coal-fired power plant require energy and work for their assembly, which includes the mining and transportation of various materials and metals that are needed for their construction.

However, when the solar farm is completed, the additional costs are mainly maintenance and conversion from DC to AC current. The energy source is free. The coal plant, however, not only requires maintenance but a constant supply of coal which is another energy-intensive industry.

The solar farm will usually occupy more land than the coal power plant, especially if one excludes the areas destroyed by the open-cut mining of coal, which one shouldn’t exclude. However, if the solar farm consists of a few thousand roof-tops of urban homes, all electrically connected, then the solar farm takes up no additional land space at all.

The solar panels might need replacing and recycling sooner than a coal-fired power station, which adds to the over all cost. However, if one is concerned about the environment, dismantling an old coal plant and restoring the areas destroyed by the open-cut mining of coal, is also expensive. 

Reducing the ‘real’ pollutants from coal-burning, also adds to the cost, and if this is not done with state-of-the-art emission controls then there’s an additional cost in terms of human health problems, which is a major problem in less developed countries.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 8:05 am

In SW England they are about to spend £1bn on a new transmission line to handle solar surpluses (with a frighteningly low average utilisation), while energy firm Octopus is signing up to a madcap scheme for 3,800km of subsea interconnector to solar farms in Morocco.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 2:20 pm

Has anybody calculated the cost of a cable from Australia to the UK? Probably duplicated to ensure continuity? Line losses?

Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 8:56 am

I noticed that you didn’t include the costs of providing power when the sun isn’t shining. You do know that solar only works for a few hours per day in the winter and not at all in cloudy climates, don’t you?

Just look at Germany’s solar output in the winter – essentially zero.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Vincent
May 23, 2022 1:29 pm

MIGHT need replacing g sooner?! LMFAO you’re displaying your wanton ignorance there. The solar panels will go through three complete replacements and the coal fired plant will STILL be going, if not for government interference.

The elephant in the room is that you, like every other defender of the mass stupidity of ‘renewables,’ ignore the fact that you have to keep the coal plant IN ADDITION TO the solar farms unless you’re willing to tolerate blackouts on a continual basis.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 11:06 am

Provided that the viability of renewables long-term doesn’t require future “technology break-throughs” such as Vincent alludes to.

This is the equivalent of the “and then a miracle happens” part of the overall equation.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Mr.
May 21, 2022 2:22 pm

As usually replied upon by those supporting things like EVs!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Vincent
May 23, 2022 1:01 pm

The Sun and Wind may be “free,” but the cost of collecting energy from the Sun and the Wind is gigantic. And due to its intermittent, unreliable and unpredictable nature, it must still be backed up 100% by fossil fuels and nuclear (and maybe some hydro where available).

Not only is the cost higher, but it is completely impractical as a result of this ‘fatal flaw.’ The evolution of “technology” is not going to ‘save’ it.

Reply to  Vincent
May 23, 2022 8:05 pm

Sun is flux. Flux is power over surface.
Surface is not “free”… nor infinite.

Reply to  Smart Rock
May 23, 2022 7:59 pm

Essentially everything is renewable.
(or nothing is)

Pat from kerbob
May 20, 2022 8:04 pm

A friend of a friend of my wife has a sick dog and she ended up selling her house and moving back in with her parents to continue to afford the cancer treatments.

It’s a nice dog, but she really has a mental illness unfortunately

glenn holdcroft
May 20, 2022 9:19 pm

Like if an average wage earner wins an expensive car or a big new house , would have to sell because couldn’t afford the insurance or fees that go with ownership .
No such thing as a free lunch .

Tom in Florida
Reply to  glenn holdcroft
May 21, 2022 4:23 am

As the winner must claim the value of the prize as taxable income, selling an expensive prize is the only way to pay those extra taxes.

May 21, 2022 12:21 am

The solution for this is to allow producers of intermittent energy into the grid only if they can provide sufficient reliability with their own backup/storage. Then we would know how much it really costs.

Reply to  Edim
May 21, 2022 3:38 am

No we wouldn’t, because there would suddenly be no producers!

Reply to  Disputin
May 21, 2022 4:21 am

Same thing.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Disputin
May 23, 2022 1:31 pm


May 21, 2022 12:58 am

Yes Covid decline in demand for a couple of years with lockdowns masked the inexorable rise in penetration of solar and wind but they weren’t paying for storage dispatchability-
Electricity bill shock ahead – WATTever
The time has come to pay the piper for that lack of proper costing.

OTOH there are also unknowable costs like rising EV car insurance premiums due to repair capability problems-
Electric vehicles are great, except when they are not (thedriven.io)
You don’t want to be a pioneer with that discovery process.

May 21, 2022 1:33 am

LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) is, as Kip says, commonly used as a parameter to claim that wind and solar are now cheaper than conventional.

As soon as you look at how its calculated, you see that its nonsense.

The method of calculation is very simple. You take the total costs by year over the life of the installation, and then discount them by the appropriate interest rate. This means costs of installation, repair, running costs. This gives you a Net Present Value for the costs.

To do this correctly you would have to make sure to include all the costs. Some are usually not included, in particular additional transmission or other costs imposed on the grid operator. Storage costs are never included, as explained in a minute.

Now you take the current in MWh that is generated over the life of the project, and you divide the NPV of the costs by it.

This now gives you the LCOE of the installation in $ per MWh. If you do it for a wind farm and the answer is lower than when you do it for a coal fired plant, Bingo! You have shown that wind is now cheaper than coal.

But you have not. You have only found a cunning way of pretending that intermittency is not a significant factor when evaluating wind. Because what is done is to take the total power generated over a 20 or so year period as the quantity of interest. The assumption is that if this amount of power is generated by coal or by wind over 20 years, its the same thing.

But it isn’t. The wind supply fluctuates, its intermittent. Sometimes when you need it there is none, sometimes when you don’t need it there’s a surfeit. To make wind and conventional comparable, you have to include sufficient storage to make their supplies equally consistent. This means you have to add in the costs of storage for wind.

As people have pointed out here the cost of storage for grids based mainly on intermittent supply are as huge as the quantity of storage they need. A figure of 30TWh for the UK’s Net Zero plans has been suggested here, and seems quite reasonable in view of the prevalence of cold calm dark periods every winter.

You could also use gas fired backup. Then the costs of building that, and the fuel and maintenance has to be included in the costs of wind or solar. This is never done by the LCOE enthusiasts.

In summary, the reason LCOE is lower for wind and solar than for conventional power generation is that the method of calculation assumes their intermittency and unreliability is not a significant factor.

But of course, it is, it is THE critical factor. And its why, if there were no compulsion to buy wind and solar generated power, no supply company would ever buy it, except maybe in very hot countries where the aircon peak coincides reliably with peak solar.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  michel
May 21, 2022 3:42 am

Great comment! Unfortunately, the “STUPID SMART PEOPLE” achieved MAXIMUM STUPIDITY by
proceeding forward with the DUMBEST ideas before they figured out how to store the energy
created. Crunching the numbers makes that so obvious that I got “angrified” at first just thinking
about it & now I mostly avoid reading articles as they make my stomach churn. Life’s hard enough
itself without “STUPID SMART PEOPLE” making it even harder. They don’t have the sense nor
brains of a chicken & are too arrogant to know that. @#!%!#@ JERKS!!!

Reply to  michel
May 21, 2022 7:15 am

Intermittency of supply is the major problem that has to be solved for renewables to become a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels. There’s no doubt about that. However, what I find puzzling with many posts on this site, is an apparent lack of confidence in the ability of science and technology to progress and solve problems.

As the materials used in the current Lithium-ion batteries become more scarce and therefore more expensive, science and technology will most probably succeed in developing different types of batteries that use more plentiful and cheaper materials.

One example is the Graphene Aluminium-ion battery currently under research and testing at the Queensland University in Australia. Here’s a brief description.

Testing has shown rechargeable graphene aluminium ion batteries charge up to 70 times faster (than Lithium-ion batteries), last up to three times longer; are rechargeable for a larger number of cycles without deteriorating performance; and are easier to recycle than current leading lithium-ion batteries. (Wow!)

AIBN researchers devised technology to make graphene into more efficient electrodes for powering batteries, improving the performance of aluminium ion batteries, also providing a much safer alternative.

As well as delivering far-reaching energy storage and efficiency benefits, AIBN’s breakthrough also provides important safety and environmental advantages. 
Under a research agreement with AIBN, Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) will manufacture the battery prototypes, for use in watches, phones, laptops, electric vehicles and grid storage.”


Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 6:31 pm

I know that statements to the effect that “battery technology isn’t here yet” are generally made in a well-intentioned effort to be open-minded, but they only serve to enable policy makers to plow ahead in the belief that innovators will find a way “somehow.”

Those policy makers are further encouraged by technological ignorami who make convincing-sounding statements such as “battery technology is in its infancy,” implying that big changes could come along at any time.

When it comes to large-scale energy storage, battery technology is fundamentally not in its infancy, but in its dotage. That was true the day the first battery was demonstrated, and is a consequence of battery physical chemistry, the number of elements that exist (and their properties and abundance), and the scale required.

In a nutshell, batteries – all batteries – extract some of the energy from the electron energy-level change in an oxidation-reduction reaction. An oxidation-reduction reaction is what is also used in any coal, oil, or gas-fired power plant to produce the thermal energy that is then converted to electricity. A fossil-fueled plant needs only store the fuel it needs. A battery has to store both the fuel and oxidizer. That is a stupendous difference in scale. And it is fundamental. There can be no technological advances that can overcome it.

So, no, there will never be any “game changing” grid-scale battery breakthroughs.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 22, 2022 11:20 pm

Kip ===> Sigh… I see that I need to write an article on this for WUWT.

As for “never say never”, I can state with absolute certainty that you (or I) will never be able to jump up off the ground, propelled by the chemical reactions that power our bodies, to an altitude equal to the orbit of the Moon. It is possible to say “never” with certainty.

It is the nature of chemical reactions that limits battery capacity. All of them are known. The technology of storing and retrieving energy in those reactions dances around the periphery, providing little improvements on efficiency or economics. That technology is irrelevant to scaling battery technology. It is the magnitude of energy change per unit mass that determines the possibility of grid-scale battery storage, and shows that it is simply physically out of the question.

My engineering background is in rocket propulsion. Our principal concern is finding the reaction yielding the highest energy release per unit mass possible. There is no concern whatsoever over converting the energy of that reaction into electrical power, a step which adds all of the complexity associated with “battery technology.” In my field, reactions produce so much energy that all products are gaseous, and are simply converted to mechanical power by expansion through a nozzle – at efficiency, by the way, similar to that of the best batteries. The effort at finding these reactions has been ongoing for more than a century. We’ve found the upper limit, and even with battery technology delivering 100% store/retrieve efficiency applied to the most energetic, there can never be a battery that can satisfy grid-scale storage.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 23, 2022 4:15 pm

Kip====> Thank you for the kind offer, and I will take you up on it. Perhaps we can get our concepts straight – I’m sure mine aren’t self-evident, and it always helps to have another set of eyes on one’s writings. That’s the great thing about WUWT.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 21, 2022 6:33 pm

Well, Kip, thanks for at least admitting that a significant improvement in battery storage could solve the intermittency problem. As a climate skeptic who is no doubt aware of the challenges of predicting future changes in climate, you should also be aware of the challenges of predicting the success of future developments in technology.

For example, I’ve been an amateur photographer for most of my life, using film-based cameras most of the time, until digital cameras became affordable and at least equalled the performance of film cameras, in terms of image resolution.

I recall that the first digital cameras to appear on the market were ridiculously expensive. If someone had predicted then, that in 20 or 30 years time the digital camera would become ten times better at 1/10th of the price, I would probably have thought that is ‘pie in the sky’.

Yet it has happened. The improvement in digital cameras, year after year, for the past 20 years, has been amazing.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 9:05 am

Seventy times recharge rate to be realized will impost some stupendous costs on the network.

Reply to  Vincent
May 21, 2022 9:40 am

Such batteries may arrive, may be made at scale and cost that is adequate to 30TWh storage in a grid. Until they do however it is wrong to use LCOE to show that wind and solar are cheaper than conventional.

Its also wrong to bet the farm that they will arrive. They may, but how much of a nation’s well being do you think it right to bet on them being there in 2030?

The other problem is the connection of the wind and the solar. A piece in the UK Telegraph today points to the problem – would be installers of wind farms are being told there’s a five year wait in many cases for the facilities to be built that will allow connection.

A huge queue of projects is developing, requiring new cables, transformers, substations and pylons. Many have been told they cannot connect until 2028. Some particularly complex ones face connection dates ten years from now.  

The delays threaten to derail the ambitious targets for renewable energy the government has set, increased in recent months in the scramble to ditch Russian energy supplies and boost domestic energy security.  

“We need to speed things up,” argues Barnaby Wharton, director for future electricity systems at Renewable UK, the trade group. “If we fail to deliver the network needed, we won’t meet those targets.”

The shift to wind and solar power has triggered a step change in demand for connections. John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, which owns the main electricity transmission network, says he has seen a “tenfold” increase in the number of projects wanting to connect, amid that shift. “It’s a real issue,” he says.

None of these costs are in LCOE.

Dave Fair
Reply to  michel
May 21, 2022 11:39 am

Please note that when RE profiteers say “we” must provide for network expansion they mean “you.”

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  michel
May 21, 2022 1:39 pm

National Grid makes its money by having lots and lots of transmission assets on which it is entitled to make a return. It is also the outfit that prepares the Future Energy Scenarios for the UK government. Is it any wonder that its solutions entail massive amounts of wind and solar that require even more massive amounts of extra transmission assets?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  michel
May 23, 2022 2:15 pm

Good – the longer the delay, the more likely they’ll figure out how moronic the whole exercise is and avoid building the colossally stupid things altogether.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
May 21, 2022 8:43 am

Professor Dieter Helm is Professor of Economic Policy at Oxford University and has spent many years studying energy policy. He is by no means a climate change ‘sceptic’ but he acknowledges that the claims made for wind power by its advocates are “not true”.

Here are some quotes from a piece on his website published 7th Jan 2022.

‘The first net zero energy crisis – someone has to pay’

“Our energy problems are significantly home grown.Tell the public the truth – net zero is going to cost (a lot) decarbonisation already has”

“It is not yet true that renewables are cheaper than the main fossil fuels once intermittency is taken into account. Simply ignoring the need for backup in claims about renewables costs will not make them go away”

“Energy efficiency has not turned out to be the easy win its advocates told us it would be. It does not generally pay for itself once all the costs are taken into account”

“It is not true we can bask in cheap offshore wind. On the contrary two inconvenient facts remain. First, whilst intermittency was not much of a problem when there was little wind capacity it now very much is. Second is those subsidies still have to be paid and now make up almost one quarter of energy bills.”

“In the old fossil fuel- nuclear system total capacity requirements were of the order of 70 – 80 GW. For a system where the wind sometimes can produce all energy demanded and sometimes very little, that firm capacity has to remain in place, plus all the wind turbines too. We need a great deal more capacity to meet any given demand. That has to be paid for by someone.”


May 21, 2022 5:34 am

Not one, but two Labrador dogs have a bigger carbon footprint in their lifetimes than a Toyota Hilux

Just sayin’

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Redge
May 21, 2022 8:08 am

You probably buy the Hilux to take them for walks…

Bruce Cobb
May 21, 2022 5:49 am

The author labors under the false assumption that “renewables” have some purpose to them (other than fattening the wallets of Greedy Greenies), and that eventually we will need to transition to them, just not right away. Aside from their enormous cost, they destabilize the grid. They dtract, not add to society. They are in short, an abomination.

David Strom
May 21, 2022 6:01 am

Thanks for this. I sure appreciate WUWT for having other perspectives and information than “mainstream media” regurgitating the latest alarmist news release.

I note in the comments some mention of environmental costs of renewables, I wonder if and how we can have any accounting that’s unbiased enough to be useful for discussion. Dams seem green, unless they block a river that is used for fish to spawn. Or if you prefer access to the land that’s covered up by the reservoir thus created. There’s a pumped hydro storage installation in Massachusetts on the Connecticut river that is frequently excoriated by people concerned about the health of the river, for example, and Atlantic salmon aren’t returning to that river.

In the article cited, is there any discussion of disposal/decommissioning costs of renewables vs. other electric generation?

I always wonder why we don’t see the carbon cost of manufacturing windmills and solar, and transporting them & disposing/recycling. Compared to conventional generation.

So many questions, so little time. TANSTAAFL, indeed.

John Baglien
May 21, 2022 7:11 am

Too bad that people who voted for Barack Obama, and continue to support his energy policies under Biden either didn’t pay attention or don’t care that he forthrightly acknowledged: “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

Kevin kilty
May 21, 2022 8:26 am

 “LCOE is inadequate to compare intermittent forms of energy generation with dispatchable ones and when making decisions at a country or society level. We introduce and describe the methodology for determining the full cost of electricity (FCOE)

Thanks for the heads-up on this paper, Kip.

I agree that LCOE is pretty worthless and FCOE is better. Yet focusing on costs is only half the story. In many respects I find EROEI (what the authors refer to as eROI) to be misleading as well because I don’t see that it takes into account the utility of the energy mix involved in the conversion from inputs to outputs. As an example, we are, or ought to be, willing to put up with the poor EROEI of coal-fired electrical energy because electricity has enormously more utility than coal.

I propose that an energy benefits to cost ratio, let’s give it a trendy sort of acronym like E(B/C) so I can make myself famous, calculated with a reasonable discount rate would make policy energy decisions even more clear.

Clayton McKay
May 21, 2022 8:49 am

The dastardly deeds of a government that would employ war upon fossil fuels, diminishing extraction and exploration, while propping up inefficient resources has inflationary consequence from which there may be no return.

May 21, 2022 11:36 am

It is good to see an article that examines the question “what do we do to properly address climate change?” (specifically, with regard to electricity generation) rather than what is too often seen in some WUWT articles, which is to just pretend that nothing much is happening.

Notice that in examining the “full cost of electricity” (FCOE) this study’s authors fully acknowledge in their paper that:

1- climate change is occurring
2- climate change is due to human emissions
3- climate change due to human emissions carries economic costs to society
4- economic costs to society must be incorporated into any calculation of FCOE

With regard to point #3, the authors state:

“For cost of global warming the authors refer to Nordhaus 2018, Lomborg 2020, and Kahn 2021”

There are a multitude of estimates of the economic costs associated with climate change. The particular references that these authors chose appear to be on the lowball side of the spectrum of estimates. See at the link below an introductory review of various estimates available, and the possibility of much higher costs than what the authors of the study discussed here have assumed:

The social cost of carbon dioxide under climate-economy
feedbacks and temperature variability

Jarmo S Kikstra et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 094037


Dave Fair
Reply to  MGC
May 21, 2022 11:53 am

Piles of future speculation poured into an unvalidated model. What could possibly go wrong.

Reply to  Dave Fair
May 21, 2022 1:06 pm

Ignore what every major scientific organization in the entire world says. “What could possibly go wrong?”

Reply to  MGC
May 21, 2022 2:09 pm

Mindless credentialists bore me.

comment image

See article below for peak credentialism.


Dave Fair
Reply to  MGC
May 21, 2022 2:48 pm

And what, exactly, are all of these government organizations saying, MGC. Be specific as to the main points.

Danley Wolfe
May 22, 2022 11:34 am

Another great post from Kip Hansen. The problem with the green movement is it’s a “movement.” Most p eople today want their lives to feel meaningful, and being part of a “cause” helps them attribute meaning to their lives. Years ago people were preocuppied with survival, having food to eat, with some thought to their futures. Education, money and standards of living and suplus leisure time allows them to join “causes.” .If climate change were strictly motivated by science the response would be thoughtful and moderated not reactionary … and people would apply first principles embedded in the Scientific Method. (Although untrained would not be familiar with the Scientic Method.) In the case of climate change the Scientific Method is not very helpful because propositions / predictions cannot be tested in any meaningful time.

The process involves making conjectures (hypothetical explanations), deriving predictions from hypotheses as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments or empirical observations based on those predictions. A hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while seeking answers to the question. The hypothesis might be very specific, or it might be broad. Scientists test hypotheses by conducting experiments or studies. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, therein the “rub,” as this implies that it’s possible to identify a possible outcome(s) of an experiment or observation that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis, otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested … as in the case of climate change.

But the climate change movement (calling it a movement is appropriate), is that the ouput will not be known in our lifetimes or perhaps several centuries. But the proponents will say that we must save the plant, meaning to take counter measures now because “the models” tell us that the future outcome might be bad. Really, do the models tell us the future? We know the models are focused on projecting a long term result which is the reason they are developed … that of course is circular logic. But the amount of funding and compensation based on climate change is large – what is the estimate of worldwide spending in all related to climate change – academics and non profits, etc.

Situations such as climate change cannot be formulated under the Scientific Method because the outcome of the “experiment” is evolving ever so slowly versus what is necessary to draw ANY conclusions. So one might call climate change a half baked theory waiting to be fully cooked.

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