Wind, Solar, and Household Electricity Prices

Mike Jonas

In a recent conversation, I was shown a chart of Australia’s wholesale electricity prices, by state, in which South Australia had by far the lowest prices of all the states. The presenter of the chart claimed that this proved how renewables drove down the cost of electricity.

But there were two small problems:

1. The chart was a real time price shart, showing just the prices at that particular point in time, and

2. The South Australian electricity price was a very large negative number. In other words, they were struggling to find anyone to use the electricity even if paid to take it.

As many have pointed out, negative electricity prices don’t mean that electricity is cheap, it just means that the generator has costs that are not being recovered. Those costs will have to be recovered at some time or they will go out of business. In other words, negative electricity prices actually drive up the overall cost.

In order to see the full picture, you have to look at … the full picture.

I started by looking at the latest report from AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) .

AEMO report Q4 2022:

  • [East coast] Wholesale spot prices averaged $93 per megawatt-hour (MWh) across all National Electricity Market (NEM) regions, with Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania at Q4 record highs. However, prices have eased from extreme levels seen early in the year. [Most of South Australia got separated following a transmission tower failure.]
  • New minimum operational demand records were set in Q4 … South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales all recorded new minimums for any quarter since NEM start, and Queensland its lowest Q4 operational demand since 2002.
  • Output from wind and grid-scale solar grew strongly as new facilities were connected and commissioned. Although the NEM’s wind fleet recorded its lowest recent quarterly utilisation rate, Q4 2022 was the highest wind generation for any Q4 on record. Queensland and New South Wales saw large increases in grid-scale solar, setting daytime prices more frequently than in the same quarter last year.
  • The instantaneous penetration of renewable energy for the NEM as a proportion of total generation reached 68.7% on 28 October 2022, exceeding the previous record of 64.1% (set on 22 September 2022).

So, wind and solar generation grew strongly, their penetration hit a record high, wind generation was at a Q4 record high, yet wind usage sank in percentage terms, demand sank to record lows, and prices hit a Q4 record high.

It really doesn’t look like wind or solar bring prices down.

Let me re-phrase that last sentence to make it a bit clearer: It looks like wind and solar are an absolute disaster.

OK, so that’s Australia. What about the rest of the world?

I expect that everyone here has seen this chart from ClimateDepot:

That chart is from back in January 2018, so I downloaded the latest available household electricity prices (June 2022) and wind and solar % equivalent primary energy data (2021), and put together an updated chart. Renewables are by % of energy, instead of by watts/capita, which is possibly more representative.  

Apologies for having electricity price as X axis instead of Y axis.

A few things stand out in the updated chart:

  • There’s definitely a visible correlation, with higher wind+solar relating to higher electricity prices.
  • Electricity prices in Denmark (DNK) and Germany (DEU) and some other countries have nearly doubled in the last five years. Greece (GRC) has done much better (I don’t know why – work looking at?)
  • Britain (GBR) is a disaster area.
  • Denmark has by far the most renewable energy (mostly wind), in percentage terms, yet is only the highest-cost country by a narrow margin. Maybe using Norway’s hydro as a battery, although expensive, helps to use more of the wind generation. Unlike South Australia, for example, which often can’t even give it away.
  • A lot of the countries with very low electricity prices are oil/gas producing countries which keep household electricity prices low through subsidies. That’s not a viable option for fuel-importing countries. Nevertheless, the implication is that the countries that do use a higher percentage of non-renewables energy (which must be mostly coal, gas, nuclear and some hydro) do tend to have lower electricity prices.

Conclusion: From all of the above, ie. from looking at the full picture, wind and solar demonstrably drive up the cost of electricity.

But then, everyone who reads outside the controlled media already knew that.

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Tom Halla
February 20, 2023 6:14 pm

One will also see reporting of prices after subsidies, which is perverse, as the consumers are also the taxpayers paying the subsidies generally. All subsidies really do is distort the market, pushing the utilization of the subsidized source in preference to others.

Paul S
February 20, 2023 6:21 pm

I read a post in our neighborhood blog here in Boulder, CO (the greenest town this side of Portland OR.) the utter disbelief of the astronomical current price of the recent utility bills. I mentioned that as long as the locals vote for politicians that require the local utility company (Xcel) to build solar and wind turbine facilities, then the price of utilities would rise as nothing is free and the new green infrastructure would be reflected in their utility bills. Boy, did I catch hell. I was called everything under the sun and was told that I had been drinking the Koolaid. It is fascinating how one of the most highly educated communities (in terms of advanced degrees) can be so stupid.

Reply to  Paul S
February 20, 2023 6:36 pm

Many Advanced degrees work at Starbucks, making espresso.

Jim Karlock
Reply to  schmoozer
February 20, 2023 6:55 pm

They will do less damage to our society there (on the assumption that people with STEM degrees are getting real jobs in industry.)

Reply to  schmoozer
February 20, 2023 7:55 pm

Many Advanced degrees work at Starbucks, making espresso”

Easy to tell which ones, they’re the ones with the worst attitude and frowny faces.

Reply to  schmoozer
February 21, 2023 5:30 am

Those advanced degrees likely are in advanced basket weaving 501 or advanced psychology 501, etc

My two nieces both graduated with BSME degrees, and both had several offers at $70,000 and up

Last edited 3 months ago by wilpost
Jim Karlock
Reply to  Paul S
February 20, 2023 6:53 pm

This may help understand:
“one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their image-oriented minds scientism looks more scientific than real science.
Read the whole essay:

Reply to  Paul S
February 20, 2023 7:06 pm

The waste treatment facility off 75th has to handle a lot of brainwashing effluent.

Reply to  Paul S
February 20, 2023 8:00 pm

Education does not equal knowledge.

Reply to  barryjo
February 21, 2023 6:08 am

Credentials also do not equal expertise.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Paul S
February 20, 2023 9:53 pm

Paul, that’s what happens when one begins believing one’s own propaganda. And that coupled with innumeracy and ignorance of technical and economic realities. There is no free lunch and you can’t destroy all FF dependent technologies and replace them with intermittent wind and solar electric power without incurring massive additional costs, even if it were (its not) technically feasible.

Barnes Moore
Reply to  Paul S
February 22, 2023 6:00 am

A new term, sort of, “highly educated idiots”, or “detached from reality, indoctrinated, lobotomized fools living in the fact free world of liberal la la land”.

Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 6:48 pm

” and put together an updated chart”

Not very up to date. It was at the peak of the gas scare. Germany’s price has now come way back. Denmark’s retail price is high, not because of renewables, but because of tax. And you have Australia’s prices coming down since 2018, which is not the local impression, but of course renewables have increased.

Retail prices are not a good guide, since they include tax, caps and in Australia at least, retailer rip-offs. Here is a picture showing a more representative history of SA wholesale prices. They aren’t yet dirt cheap, but are mid-range, whereas in coal days they were by far the highest of any state.

comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by Nick Stokes
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 7:13 pm

Here is a chart from Eurostat which shows the tax components of pricing. It also shows a much lower price for Germany, though is is for first half 2022:

comment image

Here is the non-household price, which has a far lower tax component. Germany and Denmark are now mid-range

comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by Nick Stokes
Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 8:58 pm

That first graph is a REAL Hockey Stick since Q4 2021

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 9:40 pm

Deceptive graph by Nick. Shocker! I know!

The lowest prices are in places with little to no renewables, pricing to non-houshold users is lower because business will leave or go out of business so to save jobs the additional costs are pushed onto households, and Nick’s own graph shows Greece and Belgium with NEGATIVE non recoverable taxes for non household consumers, meaning that HOUSEHOLDS are paying to subsidize businesses.

How many lies can one bury in a single chart? Lots apparently, but not all that well buried if you bother to look.

Last edited 3 months ago by davidmhoffer
Nick Stokes
Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 21, 2023 12:09 am

None of these things are lies. They are just the way it is. You may not like it, but it is so, and the graph from Eurostst correctly sets it out.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:36 am

You complained about graphs which you claim misrepresent the costs and proposed instead graphs which misrepresent the costs.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 8:24 am

In other words, you presented graphs that did not support your argument and you knew it ahead of time.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  MarkW
February 21, 2023 9:46 am

I presented graphs which showed the facts. When you have the facts, then you can develop arguments.

Do you have any arguments to offer?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:43 pm

And once again, Nick goes out of his way to refute a claim that was never made.
Defeating strawmen seems to be the only intellectual skill that poor Nick ever bothered to master.

I never said that the chart itself was a lie.
What I said was the chart did not support your claim, and that you were aware the chart did not support your claim.

For once in your life Nick, try to debate honestly.

Last edited 3 months ago by MarkW
Nick Stokes
Reply to  MarkW
February 21, 2023 1:09 pm

I never said that the chart itself was a lie.”

There you go again, refuting a claim that was never made.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 22, 2023 8:43 am

So we are adding delusional to the list of your titles?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 10:05 pm

If you’re going to include taxes, Nick, you need to include the cost of taxpayer subsidies to ruinables and subsidies for the infrastructure associated with them. Again, there is no free lunch.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 11:29 am

The problem is that actual prices are now heavily contaminated by government subsidies to consumers. The 2019 prices are a much more reliable guide to the underlying economics.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 7:52 pm

Most of us on the planet are end-users of electricity. We, frankly, don’t give a damn about wholesale prices. It’s the hip pocket that matters.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
February 20, 2023 7:58 pm

Yes, but retail price incorporates wholesale price, and that is the component that depends on source, wind vs FF etc. The rest is a mishmash of taxes and downstream entities taking their cut, none of which has to do with the economics of renewables. Denmark has a high renewable component, but the high domestic price is due to tax, not source cost.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 8:12 pm

So what you are saying is that renewables are inexpensive and the system is at fault for higher utility prices to the end user.
Was the system at fault before renewables became a thing?
I think we have different world views.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
February 20, 2023 8:21 pm

The current price spike is due to the spike in gas and coal costs, caused by the war in Ukraine.

Of course the system takes a rather large component of the end price to users. It always has. Here is the breakdown in Australia in 2021:

The costs that retailers incurred in supplying electricity to an average residential customer in 2020-21 can be broken into five components: network costs (45 per cent of the total cost), wholesale costs (32 per cent), environmental costs (10 per cent), retail costs (10 per cent), and retail margins (3 per cent).”

Whatever wind costs, good or bad, it is just a fraction of that 32% wholesale.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 10:10 pm

Uh, ruinables require additional network facilities, Nick. Also, that 32% starts going up rapidly as ruinables reach higher penetrations.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 1:24 am

Actually, none of the Australian prices is caused by the war in Ukraine.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Hivemind
February 21, 2023 1:53 am

Here is the graph of recent Australian gas prices, compared with electricity. So what do you think made gas prices go up and down like that?

comment image

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 3:49 am

If wind and solar were so great, why would gas prices have any significant impact on electricity prices?

The answer you’re looking for is “wind and solar are worse-than-useless, so gas is used to keep the lights on.”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 3:40 am

“The current price spike is due to the spike in gas and coal costs, caused by the war in Ukraine”. — You are quoting the incomprehensibly dumb Chris Bowen.

Even if that were true for Australia – it is not – therefore Australia should be drilling for more gas, including fracking for gas, and building more coal fired power stations, and investing in nuclear. You know, securing one’s energy future with reliable dispatchable power.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  SteveG
February 21, 2023 9:41 am

therefore Australia should be drilling for more gas”

Australia is currently producing three times the amount of gas that we use locally. If we raised that to four times, it wouldn’t increase energy security or lower prices. It would just further enrich the exporters.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:28 pm

And, conversely, if you cut the amount of gas that Australia is producing by 75% it would not reduce energy security or raise prices?? It would just further impoverish the exporters??

Do you seriously believe the stuff you write?

Where do you think the income from the exports goes to … cash, gold & diamonds in a vault that is accessed from the bedroom of the “CEO”? Seriously, where do you think the income/resources end up?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:46 pm

In NIck’s world, there is no connection between supply, demand and price.

Then again, in Nick’s ideal world, all three are dictated by government.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 8:26 am

I love the way Nick drives right past the fact that German, and other European electricity prices have been sky high for decades, by concentrating only on the recent price spike.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
February 20, 2023 9:06 pm

I think we have different world views.

Nick is not one to appreciate the reasons because it has some complexity. He would only need to take his home off grid to understand the difficulties. No one making decisions on W&S have actually tried to operate with just W or S. If they had, they would know it is VERY expensive.

However the cost of grid power in Australia is close to par with the cost of making your own. The prospect of all the new investment in the grid being stranded is looming large. Rooftop PV had the greatest growth in market share in 2022. SA and WA are saturated with rooftop PV so rooftop solar owners are facing the prospect of installing batteries to get a return. The return will be higher if they abandon the grid completely to avoid the service charge.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  RickWill
February 20, 2023 11:36 pm

In the UK the windiest places are the least populated. NW Scotland, Western and Northern Isles of Scotland, Cumbria and Wales onshore. The population of Caithness, Sutherland and the Western Isles is less than 70,000 (seventy thousand) combined, Cumbria about 500k.Getting the power from northern Scotland to central Scotland, Beauly to Denny, cost in excess of £600 million ten years ago. Connecting Hornsea 2 is a similar undertaking so about a billion quid.
Having generation near population centres is much more sensible.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
February 21, 2023 3:52 am

Having generation that generates ON DEMAND is much more sensible.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 8:58 pm

Yes, but retail price incorporates wholesale price, and that is the component that depends on source, wind vs FF etc. 

it is simplistic thinking like this that has Australia in the mess it finds itself with electricity.

The one good snippet of data in the Q4 report was that rooftops had the biggest gain in market share; from 11.1% to 12.9%.

Rooftops are close to saturation in SA and WA with both needing to introduce measures to force rooftop PV off line to retain stability. As rooftop owners realise this, they will accept their sunk costs in panels and just add batteries. That leads all the new investment in the grid W&S plus all the transmission lines, synchronous condensers, batteries, price gaming super computers, etc stranded assets. This is already showing up in the reduced CFs for grid W&S.

The grid will be like public transport in Australia. Those who cannot afford their own generation will be stuck with an inferior, subsidised supply.

What most academics have never worked out is that there is no benefit of scale with W&S. All the energy is from the same source and any gain from better placement or unit size is eroded by the high cost of poorly utilised transmission.

Rooftop solar owners will realise that their panels need to be optimally placed for the period of lowest sunshine when they add batteries rather than to maximise output to the grid.

Reply to  RickWill
February 21, 2023 12:54 pm

And it would appear to me that a new factory building Edison batteries would be of great value to those homeowners. The Edison batteries would outlive their solar panels, no replacement required, but they would take some maintenance.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 8:56 am

The high taxes are directly related to the source cost- the taxes are needed to pay the subsidies for wind and solar. If renewables made sense economically power companies would install them without subsidies and the taxes would be lower.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 11:32 am

THe tax is handed over as subsidies in Denmark. It is therefore part of the cost.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 8:23 pm

‘They (SA wholesale prices) aren’t yet dirt cheap, but are mid-range, whereas in coal days they were by far the highest of any state.’

It would be interesting to see both coal and natural gas prices over the same period. If I were an Australian wind or solar developer, I wouldn’t be too proud of the fact that it takes colossally stupid policies on the part of an illegitimate administration to make my wares middling ‘competitive’.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
February 20, 2023 8:43 pm

Here is an interesting ACCC graph showing how electricity wholesale almost exactly tracked East Coast gas, which in turn tracked the world price.

comment image

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 9:20 pm

No surprise that electricity prices are driven by gas on the margin, especially after a substantial amount of coal-fired capacity has been ‘decommissioned’. Would you agree that a lack of economic alternatives usually makes any market more susceptible to ‘exogenous’ shocks?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 9:52 pm

Well of course. Since it is gas and coal that have to spike upward to deal with variability, they account for a larger percentage of the cost of dealing with variability! Shocker! If the variability wasn’t there, you wouldn’t have to pay excessive prices for sudden ramp up and down of other sources that in turn exagerate the cost of the electricity. Talk about circular arguments!

Nick Stokes
Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 21, 2023 1:04 am

Talk about circular arguments!”
There is no argument at all. Frank asked about a graph; I provided what was asked.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:47 pm

You provided a graph, what you failed to do was provide a relevant graph.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 20, 2023 10:20 pm

Nick, ever think that relationship is influenced by the addition of natural gas generating facilities to replace cheaper coal generation forced offline because of Leftist ideology? How about the extra natural gas consumed by non-optimal operation of gas-fired units to back up ruinables?

Feckless politicians and Deep State Leftist bureaucrats have so screwed up our energy systems that it is impossible to make any sense of pricing. All we can say is that ruinables are bad for people. FJB and FLeftists.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 5:10 am

What is the world price? There isn’t one. Only regional markets. How do Australian prices compare with Henry Hub or Philadelphia?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 21, 2023 10:55 am

The world price is whatever you need to pay to attract ships with LNG. Or to prevent your gas departing on ships, if you have export facilities.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 11:35 am

The Australian problem is the lack of a competitive domestic gas market. Invite half a dozen or more new companies to come and develop gas in Australia, and ensure that there is a competitive market to supply LNG liquefaction and domestic supply, and you will get to the sort of position that pertains in the US.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 21, 2023 1:01 pm

There is a market now, and it sells to the highest bidder.

The situation in the US will only persist until they too have the export facilities to be properly part of the world market.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 22, 2023 8:46 am

Once again, what Nick knows, has no connection with reality.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 12:32 pm

simply shows that ‘renewables’ do next to nothing. All the cost for nothing … no change in market.

(perspective in analysis is helpful)

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 1:22 am

I can assure you that Australia’s prices have not been coming down since 2018; I have to pay them. In fact your own chart shows that they are approximately 400% those of Q3 2018.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Hivemind
February 21, 2023 1:39 am

I haven’t shown a chart of retail prices, though I would like to.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 3:34 am

More interesting when you plot from year 2000 to capture the big increase starting in 2006. I have the data in ABS form which is different in detail so I can’t just tack it on to your plot. Geoff S

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 4:52 am

Nick, glad you are still posting. I am going to take a whole bunch of crap for this, but as I see it, since the start of the log in phase, this site has become too much of an echo chamber. Whether I agree or disagree with your posts, it is good to see an opposite point of view.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 8:22 am

Germany’s prices were high long before the big price scares.

February 20, 2023 7:21 pm

Please add the State of California to the chart. By my reckoning it has around 400 watts of wind and solar (nameplate) per capita. And last month I paid an average of $0.36/kWh.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  honestyrus
February 20, 2023 8:30 pm

Is that just energy or does that include wires (T&D) too?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  honestyrus
February 21, 2023 12:42 am

By my reckoning it has around 400 watts of wind and solar (nameplate) per capita.”

Texas had 1512 watts per capita in 2021.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 21, 2023 3:58 am

The result being…blackouts and people freezing to death in the dark.

Chris Hanley
February 20, 2023 7:58 pm

The true cost of wind and solar will only be apparent after many lifecycles of the equipment including rooftop PV and storage.

Last edited 3 months ago by Chris Hanley
Dave Fair
Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 20, 2023 10:25 pm

But engineering calculations by honest people show that the lifecycle costs of ruinables exceeds those of the alternatives. We don’t need to wait for the economic depression to slap us in the face.

February 20, 2023 8:31 pm

Electricity prices in Denmark (DNK) and “Germany (DEU) and some other countries have nearly doubled in the last five years. Greece (GRC) has done much better”

Greece the average daytime high in February is 57, in Berlin/Copenhagen its 38-40.

That’s a big enough difference to using an extra blanket and hypothermia, and would allow Greece to get away with using with a lot less power when the wind lulls and the sky is overcast.

February 20, 2023 8:41 pm

showing just the prices at that particular point in time,

You are only looking at the wholesale price of energy. You need to look at all the other costs to get the full picture. There is a massive gap between wholesale energy cost and retail price. The gap is made up of a whole array of increasing charges.

In Q4 when SA was separated from the grid they had to discard up to 410MW of potential generation because they no longer had the big battery Calle VICTORIA to export to. FCAS charges went through the roof – batteries had a net revenue of $43M in Q4 primarily due to the high FCAS charges when SA lost the interconnector. AEMO “orders” also rose during the Q4 primarily due to the interconnector outage.

All the new distributed generators have new transmission lines that are poorly utilised. That shows up in retail price. The distribution networks are being strengthened to take all the rooftop solar up the system. That adds to retail price as well.

Then there is the government enforced theft where W&S confiscate money from consumers to pay for the LGCs they generate. The price of LGCs has risen strongly since the new “renewable” targets were announced.

Distributed PV is close to saturation. SA has found a method to force curtailment of rooftop PV by allowing substation voltage to rise. This is something most rooftop solar owners are unaware of.

You do not need to look beyond your own electricity bill to see that prices are rising. That is of course unless you make your own and are not bother by rising prices, which is rapidly becoming the lowest cost option for all mainland Australians who own a roof. But if you are late to the Ponzi you need batteries now to get a return.

You did not mention that rooftop PV in Australia had the most significant growth in 2022. Its market share rose from 11.% to 12.9%. So home owners are making the choice to join the Ponzi and hit the grid scale generators where it hurts.

Reply to  RickWill
February 21, 2023 3:51 am

Yes Rick,
It would also be interesting if the complex effect of bidding design in price schemes could be estimated and compared to a hypothetical free market scheme where generators could enter into long term contracts that allowed production from hydrocarbon plants operated at their steady best.
The main reason that W&S looks low cost is because governments designed it to look that way.
Restricting efficient hydrocarbon production is a thumb on the scale, similar to BOM adjustments to cool the past.
Geoff S

February 20, 2023 9:12 pm

The only fair comparison is how much is your monthly power bill and how much of my tax dollar has gone to subsidies. Nothing else really matters.

February 20, 2023 10:23 pm

It really doesn’t look like wind or solar bring prices down.

Ahh but it can for South Australia locally whilst it can dump zero fuel cost wind and solar onto the NEM grid and rely on fuel costly eastern state brown and black coal to be the insurer of last resort. The true cost answer will only emerge when the eastern states manage to catch up with SA’s VRE penetration as they’re now racing to do. The ‘Fallacy of Composition’ problem is Econ101 as all such ignorati or carpetbaggers will discover.

Dave Fair
Reply to  observa
February 20, 2023 10:38 pm

Yeah, observa, but the Leftist governments that control the media will try to direct blame to people who tried to reliably keep the lights on at a reasonable price. No blame will accrue to the politicians, Leftist Deep State bureaucrats, progressive NGOs, CliSciFi practitioners, ruinables crony capitalists nor the ideologically driven MSM.

February 20, 2023 10:35 pm

Thank you for the big picture. However, clearly the renewables penetration, per capita, isn’t the only thing driving prices. Look at Figure 1 – the US, France, Britain and Australia have about the same renewables per capita, but Australia’s price per kwh is more than double that in the US. What are the other factors? What causes the scatter about the curve fit?

And I don’t care what the wholesale price is, nor the breakout between transmission and distribution costs and generation costs – nice to know, and academically interesting. I am concerned with the bottom line, which includes quite a bit more than T&D and Generation – all the fees. The stupidest one, in my opinion, is charging me for decommissioning our two nuclear power plants when that decommissioning was required by the Government.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 20, 2023 11:23 pm

What are the other factors?

One significant factor is that Australian fuel sources have good access to export markets. The fuel prices are mostly set by export prices. Australia exports a lot more gas and coal than it consumes. Victoria is the exception because there is no export market for lignite.

The Federal Government has recently capped internal coal and gas prices so they are not exposed to export prices. That will likely harm expansion of these resources. The Greens want to shut down coal mining.

The big distances from remote sites and low density housing also contribute to the costs.

Reply to  RickWill
February 21, 2023 4:00 am

The Federal Government has recently capped internal coal and gas prices”‘ 

Government intervention in the energy market and price control, a shocking short sighted, politically motivated, (reducing energy costs – nope) investment crushing, grid destabilizing, rushed through socialist policy.

Government can stay out of the market and just approve more coal and gas projects,

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 21, 2023 12:30 am

Look at Figure 1 – the US, France, Britain and Australia have about the same renewables per capita, but Australia’s price per kwh is more than double that in the US.”

It was back in 2017, when both US and Australia had far less renewables than they do now. But according to the dataset of the next figure, by June 2022 the US cost was $0.175/KWh and Australia was $0.223.

February 21, 2023 1:34 am

Don’t know about the other countries, but retail prices in the UK are not a good guide to real cost of electricity. The reason is that only some of the renewables subsidies are included in surcharges on the end user bill. Paul Homewood has estimated that total UK subsidies are about 450 sterling per household. I don’t know how much of this is added charges to the bills, certainly a big chunk is not.

The only real way to tell if there is an economic case for wind and solar is to compare two fully costed systems delivering the same level of service. One should be wind and solar plus whatever extras it takes, transmission, backup, constraint payments. The other should be just optimal conventional, be it gas, superheated coal or some combination of the two.

Then you do the usual discounted cash flow analysis to find the answer.

I have never seen the case made that on a fully costed basis the wind+solar option is cost effective. A lot of arm waving about saving on fuel costs, but no hard numbers. And the commonest measure trying to show how great renewables are, LCOE, simply does so by leaving out half the costs needed to make the services delivered the same. Its like saying mail order is cheaper than your local store, when you have left out shipping costs and the product they are delivering is a paperback as opposed to a hardback.

Reply to  michel
February 21, 2023 2:22 am

The problem is that we are embarking on a crazy rush to Net Zero World when no-one has yet demonstrated that even a Net Zero Town is a viable proposition. Some enthusiastic place should be the guinea pig. If they are still alive and still Net Zero in a generation, they have proved the concept, and the rest of us will have to shut up. I suspect that such an experiment would be a disaster – the kind of thing you would not wish on your worst enemies.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Jit
February 21, 2023 4:06 am

Oh I would wish it on the people pushing “Net Zero” and wind & solar as “good” things. With a clear conscience.

Peta of Newark
February 21, 2023 2:00 am

Them dancing angels are being pig-awkward today – especially when you try sort out which ones are = Taxpayers and which ones are Electricity consumers

There’s patently No Way that they can be both at the same time so why don’t said angels organise themselves properly, maybe get some T-shirts printed or something? Put on some face-paint maybe.

Brainache: Is it a feature of ReallyIntelligent people that they spend so much time confusing themselves, or is that a propensity of ReallyDumb people?

Without checking their AlcoholHistory, Blood-sugar & Magnesium levels and Vitamin B status – how would you know?

Or are they all just lying.
About all those things
All the time

Ben Vorlich
February 21, 2023 2:46 am

To paraphrase something from the 19th century

Since you preferred wind to gas/coal let wind supply you

February 21, 2023 3:30 am

Well here again at 10 pm at night the ‘Fuel Mix’ tab shows the usual black coal at 50% brown coal 17% and gas 5% for the regulat 72% that can reach 85% when wind is low compared to the current 24%-
AEMO | NEM data dashboard

In metro South Australia I don’t care about wholesale power prices or poles and wires charges yada yada. What I care about is the 40.7c/kWhr I pay for power between 6am and 10am in the morning and 3pm in the arvo to 1am next morning like I am right now. (times 0.7 to get 28.5c US). I’ll bet London to a brick no other Oz State household on the NEM pays that peak rate for that time even though you might expect pricing to be similar on an interconnected grid.

AGW is Not Science
February 21, 2023 4:14 am


Even when told the truth, stupid voters vote for people who will advance policies that are contrary to the interests of said stupid voters.

Only the delusional and the suckers believe that adding wind and solar to the grid will do anything BUT make the grid much LESS RELIABLE and much MORE EXPENSIVE.

February 21, 2023 4:44 am

The AEMO keep telling the bozos as the doomed coal plants run on sticky tape and string to eke the last revenue out of them-
AEMO warns of electricity shortfall in 2025 (

Stick yer fingers in yer ears and go-
Benny Hill – Ting A Ling A Loo (1971) – YouTube

February 21, 2023 6:46 am

The UK is a basket case. Happy to spend £50b on importing gas when we have our own, if only they’d extract it. But that would be seen as contrary to it’s Net Zero ambitions. Better to import it at great expense and a bigger carbon footprint just to keep a few ignorant eco zealots happy.

February 21, 2023 7:30 am
Curious George
February 21, 2023 8:11 am

“The South Australian electricity price was a very large negative number.”
May I prepay a year at that price?

February 21, 2023 9:25 am


It is absolutely necessary to have highly reliable electricity service, if we are forced by the government to “ELECTRIFY”, i.e., have heat pumps, and electric vehicles, and electric ovens.

Europe Learning an Expensive Wind/Solar Lesson: There was hot weather and plenty of sunshine, but little wind and little rain, i.e., a drought, in Europe, in 2022

As a result, there was plenty of solar electricity, but less than normal wind and hydro electricity 
Also, French nuclear plant output had to be curtailed, due to: 1) delaying proper maintenance, 2) strikes for higher wages, and 3) insufficient cooling water. France, instead of a major exporter, became an importer of electricity.

Europe, in addition to the scrounging around to replace Russian gas, also had to fire up all of its gas plants, and re-start some retired coal plants, and, in Germany, keep some nuclear plants running, to offset the unreliability of weather-dependent electricity, such as wind, solar, hydro, and even nuclear.

Wind and Solar are Deficient Electricity Sources: Wind and solar could not be fed to the NE grid, unless the traditional power plants were present to counteract their output variations, on a less than minute-by-minute basis, 24/7/365. That means, almost none of the traditional power plants, and their fuel supplies and fuel storage capacity, can be shutdown, if wind and solar become high percentages of the annual electricity load onto the NE grid.

It would be very prudent, to have a large capacity, MW, of coal, oil, and gas plants, that are staffed, with nearby fuel supplies and fuel storage capacity, kept in good working order, to be ready to operate, on demand, especially during:

1) Peak demand hours of late-afternoon/early-evening
2) Wind/solar lulls that could last 5 to 7 days, and could be followed by another multi-day wind/solar lull a few days later, before any battery systems could have been recharged!!

Wind systems generate electricity when the wind is blowing, but zero electricity when the air is still
Solar systems generate electricity when the sun is shining, especially around noontime, but generate less electricity when the sky is cloudy, and zero electricity when the sky is dark, or when panels are covered with snow and ice for several days.

As a result, wind and solar cannot function as dispatchable resources – meaning, they cannot be quickly deployed, on demand, such as during the peak-demand periods of late-afternoon/early-evening.

This article shows the wind/solar generation shortfall, and turnkey capital cost, due to a one-day wind/solar lull in New England
It also shows the electricity drawn from the high-voltage grid to enable grid-scale battery systems to counteract the one-day shortfall

Danley Wolfe
February 21, 2023 9:33 am

Very basic question. In looking at the charts and comments given here. …. it seems to me obvious that the problem is you have unqualified politicians (i.e., understanding technical issues) making political decisions on matters that that are highly technical. Stupid is as stupid does.

February 21, 2023 11:58 am
February 22, 2023 6:37 am

I’ve commented before on grid level negative market prices. They occur because intermittents are producing more than the grid customers want, so prices go negative.
However, this negative price doesn’t mean that the electricity is free or negative cash flow. The intermittent operators have contracts with the grid for which the electricity is already paid for; breaking the contracts, i.e. stopping electricity production, costs the grid extra money for contract break as well as often still requiring the grid to pay for the electricity not produced. That’s real cash being paid out: 807 million euros in Germany in 2021; averaging over 200 million GBP in the UK from 2020-2022; over 200 million dollars a year for just Texas for curtailment costs.
Secondly, the bigger issue is whether these low/zero/negative prices drive peaker plants out of the market completely. This isn’t theory – both Calpine and Vistra CEOs (who are providers in the Texas market including peakers) say this is a real possibility.
As for Denmark: what they have done is subordinate their entire dispatchable production to the intermittents – mostly wind. This means Denmark will turn off ALL of its natural gas generators if the wind is blowing; this works only because of massive subsidies and so forth. It isn’t Norwegian hydro per se so much as it is a comprehensive re-engineering of their dispatchable supply to support intermittent, plus the fact that Denmark is tremendously, redonkulously overbuilt wind because they know they can almost always export to the rest of the EU grid. But it still results in massively expensive electricity for the Danes…

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