CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world. Subscribe today!


Clean Power wind turbines

Published on August 11th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

166

US Wind Power Prices Down To $0.04 Per kWh

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

August 11th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan 

wind turbinesAnyone who tells you wind power is expensive is bad-shit crazy. Wind power is the cheapest option for new electricity generation in many if not most places in the world, including much of the US. That would indeed help to explain why the US installed more wind power capacity than power capacity from any other source in 2012, 42% (or 43%?) of all new power capacity in the country.

In announcing a recent report released by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Berkeley Lab actually noted that, “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

That’s $0.04 per kWh. Even if you add in the $0.022 Production Tax Credit (PTC), that’s $0.062 per kWh.

As the reader who shared this with me aptly emphasized, “This is a low number. It’s not just the LCOE of wind. It includes real estate, transmission, taxes and profits. It’s the ‘delivered to the door’ cost of electricity, not just the generation price.”


Another point worth noting, highlighting even, is that some “energy experts” are downright horrible at projecting the future cost of new and new-ish (wind power isn’t that new) technologies. “The EIA is predicting $0.0866 in 2018 and that does not include real estate costs, profits, and taxes,” our reader adds. “EIA predictions stink.” Well, I think many of us who follow the industry already knew that, but what an excellent forecast to highlight.

By the way, Silvio did an excellent job covering the new DOE/Berkeley Lab report, 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report, right after it was released. For a lot of interesting and fun facts and maps, as well as additional context that is highly important, be sure to check out his piece, “Rollercoaster Policy Threatens US Wind Energy’s Record-Setting Pace.”

We just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this exciting US wind power price statistic, and the note about how off the EIA’s wind power price forecasting is.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.



Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Bob_Wallace

    Closing this one. Comments via email are disappearing.

  • MikeH123

    Liar, Liar Pants on fire.
    This article is a crock of shit (you used the word first).
    bid price = 4 cents
    PTC = 3 cents (before taxes)
    Fed and state accelerated depreciation = 3 cents
    added transmission (3X as expensive due to low CF) = 2 cents
    added integration costs = 3.5 to 6 cents
    Total = 15.5 to 18 cents
    Wind and solar power are the most expensive common power sources

    • Bob_Wallace

      Mike, you ought to get your facts straight before attacking. Otherwise you come off looking like a fool.

      The average selling price over a two year period was 4 cents.

      The PTC is 2.3 cents (up from 2.2 cents in 2012) and lasts for only the first ten years of production. That means that it’s roughly a 1.25 cent credit for a 20 year PPA.

      There is no “before taxes” with a PTC. It’s a tax credit.

      Transmission costs are included in the PPA amount. CF has zero to do with transmission costs.

      Wind integration costs are close to zero. EPCOT reports $0.0005/kWh.

      Wind and solar share the lease expensive new generation costs with natural gas combined cycle. And gas prices are likely to rise.

      • MikeH123

        You ought to check your facts before calling others fools.
        because you don’t have a clue what you are talking about.
        A tax credit is after tax and is worth much more before taxes.
        The PTC was valued at 30% of the cost of windmills when formulating an equivalent ITC.
        According to NREL, accelerated depreciation is worth 25%.
        The Windustry web site claimed both together paid 50 to 66% of the cost of the windmills.
        You need to read the report by the Lawrence Berkely Natl’ Lab about transmission costs.
        Only a small part of the transmission costs are included in the PPA.
        Most are paid by the utility.
        The lower the capacity factor the higher the transmission costs because the electrons only occupy the space 1/3 of the time.
        Wind integration studies have not included the full costs or have been done at very low wind penetration levels or have been done by GE a wind turbine manufacturer.
        Look at OECD studies of integration costs at 10 to 30 percent penetration..
        Wind and solar are by the highest cost generation.

        • MikeH123

          BTW, the bids at 4 cents were bids received in 2011 and 2012
          The bids are for 20 years, not 2 years.
          Your dividing the 2.3 by 2 and getting 1.25 shows no understanding of the time value of money.
          The author did a very poor job by reporting some “delivered to your door” heresay from some reader.
          The author should have gotten the clue that he was way off from EIA’s estimate of 8.6 cents in 2018 instead of assuming they are the idiots.
          Articles like this don’t even belong on web sites.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “The bids are for 20 years, not 2 years.
            Your dividing the 2.3 by 2 and getting 1.25 shows no understanding of the time value of money.”

            20 years divided by a 10 year tax credit = 2.

          • MikeH123

            You combined 2 separate statements.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Then what were you trying to say?

          • MikeH123

            Bob Wallace made it sound like the bids were only for 2 years.
            They are 20 year contracts obtained over 2 years.
            Bob Wallace divided the 2.3 cent tax credit over 10 years by something around 2 to get a 20 year worth of 1.25. But that shows no understanding of the time value of money.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Bob Wallace made it sound like the bids were only for 2 years.”

            Really? What he said was “The PTC is 2.3 cents (up from 2.2 cents in 2012) and lasts for only the first ten years of production. That means that it’s roughly a 1.25 cent credit for a 20 year PPA.”

            Are you sure it was Bob instead of your prejudices?

          • MikeH123

            What Bob said was is the following: “The average selling price over a two year period was 4 cents.”
            You are going to have to go back and read the debate because I don’t have time to explain everything to you.
            And by the way What kind of Real Libertarian supports government subsidies??? You should call yourself a Fake Libertarian!!!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, Mike, I said “The average selling price over a two year period was 4 cents.”

            Because the average selling price for the US during 2011 and 2012 was 4 cents/kWh.

            You can download the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report and check it out.

            I said “selling price”. I did not say “contract length”.

          • MikeH123

            I don’t have time to check the report. Maybe we are talking about 2 different numbers but it doesn’t really matter.

          • A Real Libertarian

            It doesn’t really matter that you refuse to read the evidence?

          • A Real Libertarian

            “And by the way What kind of Real Libertarian supports government subsidies???”

            A socialist (i.e. Real) one.

            P.S. Opposing government subsidies by opposing wind power is like opposing crime by cracking down on vandals and giving Fat Tony the key to the city.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Mike. I pointed out to you that the PTC was 2.3 cents for the first ten years of production.

            Then I pointed out that PPAs are generally 20 years.

            Averaging the 2.3 cents for the first 10 makes it roughly 1.5 over 20, giving a little credit for the subsidy given during the early years.

          • MikeH123

            You need to talk to Michael Mendelsohn of NREL

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you not realize that the EIA 2018 predictions are junk?

            The 4 cent average selling price for wind contracts for 2011 and 2012 comes from the EIA 2012 Wind Technology Market Report. Someone in the prediction office didn’t even read what current selling prices are and predicted something more than 2x higher.

            The 5 cent price for SW solar comes from a Berkley (government) Lab report. Again, a report of prices already being contracted. Predicting 14.x cents per kWh when solar is selling for ~5 cents just makes zero sense.

          • MikeH123

            The EIA keeps understating wind costs by including accelerated depreciation and not including full transmission and distribution costs.
            But they are much closer than the guy who wrote this article and you. The 4 cent price is a bid price and not the full costs. Solar is also heavily subsidized and while EIA is much closer than you guys they make the same mistakes as they did understating wind costs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Four cents is the selling price. The selling price.

            It includes the LCOE. It is made lower by subsidies. It is increased by owner profits.

            All energy is subsidized.

          • MikeH123

            More nonsense. 4 cents is the bid price from wind developers to utilities after they have covered 60% of their capital costs with the PTC and accelerated depreciation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Four cents is the selling price.

            The price is lowered by subsidies. No one has argued that point. All energy is subsidized.

            All capex is depreciated for all businesses. Accelerating the rate at which capital can be depreciated has value. It does not have value equal to 30% of the investment. Making that claim shows that you don’t understand the math.

          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, Mike, do you understand that depreciation is a deduction and not a credit?

            Accelerated depreciation simply lowers the taxable base, it does not lower the tax directly.

            $100 in accelerated depreciation does not mean one pays $100 less in taxes. With a corporate tax rate of 35% it would mean that the company would get a savings of $35.

            And since it is accelerated depreciation that means that they are getting some tax savings early in their operation rather than later. That time value stuff that you’ve heard about but can’t calculate.

          • MikeH123

            You are hopeless. I am done going around in circles. Maybe Michael Mendelsohn of NREL could teach you how wrong you are. Then again, maybe even he can’t help you. I just know you are a waste of my time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re only going around in circles because you’ve got some bad information on board and you refuse to jettison it.

            You could go to the 2012 NREL “The Past and Future Cost of Wind Energy ” and check their reporting of the LCOE for wind. (Figure 3. Page 3.)

            http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54526.pdf

            There you will see that they report $50/MWh (5c/kWh) for 2009 with prices rising a bit going into 2010. The NREL seems to not have published anything on wind prices more recently.

            The price rise in 2010 was due to demand for turbines exceeding supply which allowed manufacturers to increase the price which, in turn, caused LCOEs to rise for a while.

            Following that more manufacturing capacity came on line and the price of turbine and the electricity generated dropped back down to the 5 cent level.
            You can see the same information extended out for a couple more years in the EIA 2012 Wind Technologies Wind Resources report.

            Five cents is roughly what it costs to generate electricity with wind. That price will continue to fall as technology improves. GE announced new software that will increase the output of most turbines up to 5% recently. New turbine and blade design is pulling more energy out of slower wind sites.

            Both the NREL and EIA are telling us that it costs about 5 cents to generate a kWh of electricity with wind. Not the 15+ cents you claimed.
            Subsidies take the selling price of wind down to about four cents.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Your dividing the 2.3 by 2 and getting 1.25 shows no understanding of the time value of money”

            2.3/2 = 1.15.

            I used 1.25 in order to give a bit of value to getting the money ‘up front’, during the first ten years.

          • MikeH123

            Oh wow that was generous of you. It is still waaaay off!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Show me the math.

          • A Real Libertarian

            And the sources of the math.

            Don’t want him to add BS charges to the bill.

          • MikeH123

            Sorry I am not your teacher. You can contact Michael Mendelsohn of NREL. They have models you can work through.

          • A Real Libertarian

            So you got nothing?

          • Bob_Wallace

            So you can’t do a simple calculation and find the value of getting the subsidy over the first half of the period rather than spread over the full period?

            It doesn’t take a model. It’s just math.

          • Larry_Lorusso

            Mike, You not going to get anywhere with “Real”. He’s a bigoted idiot and it’s hopeless to try to convince him of anything. He thinks I’m a whiner because the wind turbines near me regularly wake and keep us up at night. Bob says they can’t be that loud at a mile away, so he’s says I lie as well and we should move if we don’t like it. They both use figures to support wind that have nothing to do with the real world, that are taken from pro wind that have billions to make from this ponzi scam. We have lived here for almost 40 years, a rural small town on the Vermont border. It was quiet with the sounds of civilization few and fleeting, much of that the reason we chose to live here. Now we live near and industrial power plant and it’s noisy. The mountain ridge was beautiful before it was ripped up and filled in. It was mostly road less area of thousands of acres where the signs of humans were few and I used to call it the Enchanted Forest, not any more.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Larry, here’s a fact that I’ve learned from personal experience.

            Unless you own your view you have no control over it. Unless you own all the land around you then you have no control over it. You can move to your little piece of paradise but if your kingdom is not vast enough people around you can make changes to their land that you may be able to see, hear and smell.

            I’ve experienced that personally three times. I’ve moved into beautiful spots my lot, acre or few acres surrounded by beauty and peacefulness. Then, each time, someone who owned land next to mine did things that changed my little world. I went from bucolic to impacted. I had been enjoying the quite and beauty of land that I didn’t own.

            Stuff happens.

            My parents had a very nice home in a rural area. Then the farm directly across the street from them which had been cows grazing on rolling hill turned into a massive Walmart. The farm behind them became a housing development. As did the farms on each side of them.

            They went from living in a beautiful, quite environment to living in a noisy, traffic choked suburb in a five year span.

            Since you don’t own your view or enough land to buffer yourself from your neighbors you’ve got two choices. Suck it up or move.

            The first two times my paradise was ruined I had to deal with it. Moving was not an option at the time. The last time my paradise was ruined, I moved.

          • Larry_Lorusso

            We own 85 acres for 37 years and the East property line is State Forest. The farm sold in your case out where Iberdrola didn’t buy 1 acre and doesn’t pay property taxes either so is not comparable situations. You forgeting another choice which is have the state enforce existing noise regulations which allows 10db above ambient sounds. You may be inclined to let others force you out but some of us think defending our homes and rights is the right thing to do. It’s not the view so much as the noise. Though it is a shame to have such a beautiful place ruined by someone who doesn’t own or have a vested interest. The idea of wrecking the forest to save the trees doesn’t work. If you want the forest you need to leave it or at least manage it carefully otherwise it’s gone. It’s why we don’t clear cut, it’s easier but it ruins the forest. Maybe the 4th time you are forced out you will see the forest for the trees and defend your rights!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Facts stay the same, Larry.

            You are upset about something happening on land you don’t own. It didn’t have to be a wind turbine. It could have been a shopping mall, an airport, any change that you didn’t find pleasing to your eye.

          • Larry_Lorusso

            I’m upset about living in the country and an industrial generation plant destroying a wild and natural place for an expensive source of electricity that can’t respond to demand. The subsidies would be better spent on PV systems on private property so the environment is left intact to generate electricity where it’s used and have individuals take responsibility instead of the government giving handouts to multinational corporations. Good luck on your next move!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks for your good wishes but this time I bought a piece of land that is very unlikely to suffer from bad neighbors.

            I can understand your unhappiness having been there several times before, but you are only one person. There are 6+ billion of us who are going to get our butts kicked by climate change.

          • Larry_Lorusso

            Not all places are appropriate for all things. Many would agree the Grand Canyon is not an appropriate place to put a dam, although it came close to happening. I’m talking about a place that was, scenic, had solitude, and practically no improvements the was very close to being pristine and was only lacking federal control to be considered a wilderness under the Wilderness Act. The fact that a IWT project was put here is not just my own loss, but perhaps you don’t mind the last natural places are being subject to industrial development for an expensive power source that needs to be backed up and can’t respond to demand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, your view does not qualify as one of the most beautiful.

            Those places have been put off limits.

          • Larry_Lorusso

            What qualifies you to say my assessment is not correct? I’ve have numerous publishing credits for my photographs including Sierra Club Wilderness Trails calendars. Have traveled extensively throughout the US in many National Parks including rowing the Grand Canyon 6 times. I didn’t realize I was talking with an expert view evaluator and suppose I should defer to your superior judgement…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fine with me.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I didn’t call you a fool. I warned you about coming across as one.

          Yes, the PTC is a tax credit. It is not a tax deduction and we are well aware of that. The PTC is also less than half of what you claimed.

          They are wind turbines. Wind mills grind grain and power machinery.

          The PTC is probably roughly equivalent to 30% of the capex of the wind farm. That’s based on there being an option of either a PTC or an ITC. Wind farms don’t get both, they choose one.

          Any transmission that has to be built in order to connect a wind farm to the grid is normally part of the wind farm capex. Transmission fees past that point are the same as would be charged to any other generator.

          You don’t understand what capacity factor is. It is not a measure of how many hours per year the wind blows. It’s also the case that median CF in the US is higher than 33% and above 40% for most newer wind farms.

          “Wind and solar are by the highest cost generation.”

          No, new nuclear and coal are much more expensive than wind and solar. Your numbers must be a few years out of date.

          • MikeH123

            You said I come off looking like a fool. Same thing to me.
            No matter what you call them, whether they get the PTC or the ITC, the combination of the tax credit and accelerated depreciation pays for 50 to 66% of their total capital costs (which is 93% of total costs)..
            I never said CF is a measure of the hours the wind blows. But it is a measure of how much energy is in the grid. And even if wind were 40% (which is in dispute) that would still be more than twice as much transmission costs.
            Wind and solar are by far the highest cost generation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I warned you about not coming off looking like a fool. You’re starting to earn the label.

            A 30% ITC (Investment Tax Credit) is 30% of the capital cost.

            Accelerated depreciation has value because it allows more tax write off early. But it also reduces write off later. Accelerated depreciation is quite commonly given to businesses, it’s nothing special given to only wind farms.

            CF is not a measure of how much energy is on the grid. It tells you the average output of the facility over a year.

            You can keep on spewing about the cost of wind and solar being higher than coal and nuclear, but you are simply wrong.

          • MikeH123

            You should have listened to your own warning. I said the PTC or the ITC covers 30% of the capital cost. Nonsense is your talk about accelerated dereciation which once again demonstrates your lack of understanding about the time value of money. BTW wind gets 5 year compared to 20 for fossil fuels. CF is a measure of average energy production into the grid. You can keep spewing nonsense but it won’t make wind any cheaper.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Capacity factor is calculated by measuring the total annual output of a generation source and dividing that by the hypothetical amount that would be generated were the source to run at full output 100% of the time.

            You’re spouting off about stuff you don’t understand. But hang in there, we’ll educate you.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “added integration costs = 3.5 to 6 cents”

      No – catch up time for you, Mike….

      “Very large quantities of wind are being used by several grid operators with virtually no increase in the need for operating reserves,” AWEA Transmission Policy Manager Michael Goggin. “The Midwest System Operator (MISO) has over twelve gigawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has over ten gigawatts. Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) has had well over 50 percent wind at times.

      Renewables opponents, Goggin recalled, “have said for years that costs would go up and the grid would fall apart. They have been proven wrong.”

      In ERCOT’s calculations for 2011, Goggin said, “the total cost for integrating wind came out at about $0.50 per megawatt-hour.” And, he added, without 2011’s anomalies in July and August that accounted for 80 percent percent of all costs, the total costs in 2012 for the necessary balancing reserves and other expenses associated with the integration of large amounts of wind are expected to be even lower.

      “Newer research suggests systems can go to 40 percent renewables with no problem,” Goggin said, “using the very efficient grid operating practices being applied by MISO, ERCOT, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and others.”

      “They do very fast interval dispatch of all energy resources,” Goggin continued. “because load is continuously changing, the output of fossil-fired plants is continuously changing, and, of course, wind is continuously changing, too.” The closer system operators are to real-time dispatch, he explained, the more effectively supply and demand can be balanced without the use of reserves.

      “They also have pretty large balancing areas,” Goggin added. “If one wind project is going off, another is probably going on somewhere, providing an overall more stable output. Larger areas also simply have more resources to accommodate variability. In MISO, wind’s variability is just something in the noise. It is not showing up in their reserve needs.”

      ERCOT’s data is similar, Goggin said. “The areas of the country that have efficient grid operating practices have shown it is possible to integrate very large quantities of wind very reliably at virtually zero incremental cost. The areas of the country that don’t have efficient grid operating practices, namely, much of the West outside California, are seeing increased costs and challenges.”

      Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,” Goggin said. “Contingency reserves, the super-fast acting energy reserve supply required of grid operators in case a large power plant shuts down unexpectedly, are a major cost. Comparing the incremental cost of wind to those costs that ratepayers have always paid, the wind cost looks even more trivial.”

      The fundamental issues are more or less the same with integrating solar, Goggin, who specializes in wind, said. “Relative to wind, solar has more minute-to-minute variability, which increases the cost. But forecasting the sun is easier because it is clear when the sun will come up and go down and when the peak is, and that reduces the cost. But grid operators who use efficient operating methods are finding it is no more of a challenge or cost than wind.”

      http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Grid-Integration-of-Wind-and-Solar-is-Cheap

      $0.50/MWh is $0.0005/kWh which is about nothing.

      • MikeH123

        Like I said, these are for low wind penetration levels or misrepresentations that don’t even include the high costs of idling combined cycle plants or using CTs.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Mike, ERCOT is the Texas grid. You might want to educate yourself about the amount of wind Texas has installed.

          We don’t include the cost of spinning reserve when we cost out any other generation. That’s a grid operation cost.

  • Economan

    A 1 megawatt turbine operating at industry average of 1900 hours/annum will produce $7600. The cost of the installed turbine alone is $1Mm. Interest alone is about $30,000. Before maintenance, transmission, and retail. That makes the actual cost of the standing turbine around $.16/KwH. Half of the electricity produced is useless, being produced when it is not needed. It is about double that as it hits the meter. The $40 monthly bill becomes $320. The laws of physics and economic reality are harsh. Find a way to store long term wind energy and it stands a chance in the marketplace.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That’s some very interesting math.

      How about explaining how electricity produced at 16c/kWh is being sold for 4c/kWh?

      You don’t have to explain 2.2c of the extra 12c. That comes from the federal government as a PTC. We got that.

      Whose paying that other 9.8c?

      Looking forward to the next edition of the Strange World of Economan….

    • Grad

      Here’s your error: 1900 hours/annum will at 60$/MWh produce 105000$.

      With 105000$/annum you can easily pay for interest, maintenance and make a profit.

      Wind is cheap, that’s a fact.

    • asyouaskforit

      If a wind project offer to sell it at $40MWhr who are we to argue against that figure. Hello, it is their selling price, you can calculate and argue all you want, they are selling at that price and presumely making money!!!!

  • Doug

    At $40/MWhr, wind energy is cheap enough to store to support periods of high demand. Or even better, used for mundane uses such as pumping water up to municipal water storage tanks when wind generated energy supply exceeds demand.

  • I want a NYPA job

    Wanna know why (NY) power prices are so damn expensive… Here’s a good reason/illustration

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/comptroller-faults-ny-power-authority-having-plane

    On a side note, what the hell does “bad shit crazy” supposed to mean.

  • Paul Nelson

    What a misleading article. Yesterday at 1 PM in Texas, 90+ degree day across the state, the 10,000 megawatt installed wind capacity in the ERCOT service area (most of the state) delivered fou-tenths of one percent of the more that 50,000 megawatt demand. Did the “price” for that miniscule amount of wind power include the “stand-by” fossil/nuclear capacity? Silly question.
    The intemittency of wind and solar are so “consistent” that to consider them inexpensive is farcial. In the great “renewables tomorrow” it will be necessary to have four totally new enenrgy infrastuctures: Wind, solar, storage, and transmission from remote sites to consumption centers. And even then, on December 21 of any given “renewable” year, with cloud cover and no wind, storage exhausted, a modern economy/society will once need to again turn to fossil/nuclear/hydro to survive.
    Five sets of energy infrastructure? Let’s get real.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Keep on pleasuring that chicken, Paul.

      If you’d like to engage in conversations here you need to show up with a bit of common sense.

      • Paul Nelson

        For “commom sense”, simply go to ERCOT’s website, track the “Wind Integration” reports, and see reality in the graphs.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t need to Paul. I understood that the wind doesn’t blow 24/365 six or seven decades ago.

          I’ve understood that wind + solar + storage makes for our best, cleanest, cheapest energy option for quite a number of years.

          You and Ervin should try to get your heads around that concept. If you can master that simple fact you won’t be so worried about the wind not blowing all the time and the Sun dropping below the horizon at the end of the day.

          • Paul Nelson

            I’m pleased to see that you agree that four new sets of infrastructure will be required for the “renewable” future, while maintaining the existing fossil/nuclear/hydro base for “backup”.
            No need to engage in an engineering cost study to determine that five energy infrastructures are more expensive than one.
            (Just as an aside, I find it interesting as a newcomer to this site that the language is so welcoming! sarc/off)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on Paul. Don’t try putting words in people’s mouths.

            You are new to the idea of running our grids off renewable energy. There’s a lot you don’t yet understand. Stick around, read, learn and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense to you.

            Show up here and act like a ‘know it all’ when you clearly don’t and you will be given a dose of what you give.

          • Ervin Gazy

            Bob
            What Paul and I are saying is that the cost$$$ of this storage
            is high and not avalable to the average person. 47 million Americans are on food stamps, how many KW,s of storage can they buy? Sure storage is here but very very expensive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, that is not what you and Paul are saying. Paul is rattling on like an informed, well, I’ll avoid the word. And you’re backing him up.

            The average person is not going to store wind-electricity. Probably no one will. Storage and wind generation will almost certainly cheaper at the utility end, not the end-user end.

            Pump-up storage is about 6c/kWh. That is not expensive if you’re storing 6c/kWh wind. Check and see what you are paying right now for gas peaker electricity. And how merit order pricing makes your electricity expensive due to gas peaker prices.

          • mds

            BS Here is why:

            1. Most of the population of the USA, and the world, lives in the sun belt where solar is available when it is needed. In fact, roughly 1/3 of USA grid power goes to air conditioning. The more sun there is in the summer, then more air conditioning is needed. Nicely matched to need. Solar power can be stored as cold water, ice, cold rocks,
            sand, or dirt. Any of these cold mass can be used to cool a house or business after the sun goes down by just powering an air circulation fan. This is not expensive or new storage technology. Ice was used to cool theaters in the 1930s
            when AC units were not large enough for the job. Solar, wind, and storage are going to be large contributors to our grid power because they will be the lowest cost in many areas. This is already the case in some areas and
            will increasingly be the case in other areas.

            2. Renewables do not need to increase transmission costs.

            (a) Distributed Generation (DG) using solar on site, on home or business roofs and in parking lots and in brown fields or other local areas, is what is really going to catch fire
            economically. This is already happening in Australia and Hawaii where solar is less than half the cost of end-of-grid electricity. It is beginning now in Southern California. Distributed Generation (DG) using solar on site, reduces the demand for energy transmission over long distances.

            (b) Much of the grid in the USA needs upgrading anyway, quite independent of any new requirements from
            renewable energy distribution from large centralized solar plants, or large wind plants. This is particularly true in the NE USA where we have had some spectacular failures just from old distribution infrastructure. Stick with fossil fuels electricity and you will have to spend a lot on distribution
            anyway.

            3. Paul Nelson’s numbers on excess generation capacity required when using solar, wind, or other renewables are just nut-ball numbers. They are many multiples of what is already being done on the grid with renewables, i.e. already demonstrated as false. If you are siding with him on this, then you are equally clueless.
            My very favorite thing as an engineer is to be told I can’t make something work and be able to look right at this person and say: “Gee, I’m really sorry, but I already have. it is out there working in the field right now.” Number 3 here is just such a point, as Ronald Brakels frequently points our wrt Australia. Large amounts of solar and wind are already being used to reduce power costs in Australia and Hawaii. This is starting to happen now in Southern California. Germany is not blessed with the solar resources they have, but the use of renewables there has put limit on increasing electricity costs. In none of those places has the high percentage use of renewables caused frequent collapses of the grid which people such as yourself and clueless Paul were predicting …until it just didn’t happen.
            Again, not only are you both wrong, but you have been demonstrated to be wrong by working grids that already have high levels of wind and solar. You are both nuts.
            Wind is cheap. Solar will be cheaper and available every dang day. It is already the cheapest source of power in some markets …and still dropping in cost.
            We can and should supply 1/3 of our grid electricity using distributed solar with distributed cold storage. It is a better solution than any of your old stuff. It is clearly more reliable. (Our current grid technology, using “spinning reserves”, or running and ready to use coal plants in some areas, to provide backup power during heat waves.) That is before we even consider needing more advanced energy storage tech that IS coming to the market right now.
            You and clueless Paul need to take some time to try and figure out what we’re telling you here. …or just keep trolling with the same “cost$$$” nonsense.
            The cost of coal electricity is going to keep going up with increasing demand from China and India. Nuclear is already ridiculously expensive and cannot be insured except by the taxpayers, count me out of that one. Your “old reliable grid” answer is not the better solution, sorry.

          • mds

            ” five energy infrastructures are more expensive than one”
            Still you persist with this five energy infrastructures nonsense and you have not even considered or answered my comments here:
            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/obamas-solar-sunshot-could-deliver-big-time

            …and now you beg respect for this behavior to boot. Forget it! Reap what you sew. You are a troll and/or an idiot. Go fish somewhere else.

          • Paul Nelson

            The “five energy infrastructure” future is well underway in Germany: Solar (Germany has the world’s largest installed capacity); Wind (now including substantial off-shore capacity); Transmission from Remote Sites (including the struggle to get the off-shore power to southern manufacturing centers); and, of course, the Traditional sources (coal/gas/and what is left of the nuclear capacity). The fifth, Mass Storage is still so embrionic that even Germany hasn’t invested significantly.

            So how is this real world experiment working out? German industry has been able to remain globally competitive only by having the regulators shift the costs of the “five infrastructure” strategy to the backs of the ordinary German householder. Now that household rates are skyrocketing, political unrest is increasing, even in “green” Germany. The September elections should be interesting.

            And, of course, there is the deep irony that Germany is now building new coal-fired plants to assure grid stability. As a direct result, CO2 emissions have risen for the past two years.

            So these discussions are no longer theoretical. Five energy infrastructures are more expensive than one, and someone(s) will pay. Let’s not go further down this path of folly in the U.S.

          • mds

            “five energy infrastructure”

            1. solar. 2. wind. 3. transmission. 4. traditional sources (coal, NG, and what’s left of irradiate your land/people). 5. energy storage.

            It is all one infrastructure, not five, you dope. I can see claiming two if you believe traditional grid sources have to be fully in place to fill in when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, but five is just utter nonsense. Makes a nice sound bite though. You should put it on sings your ilk can carry, and on tee-shirts, …so we’ll know from a distance who the really deluded idiots amongst us are.

            “Transmission from Remote Sites (including the struggle to get the off-shore power to southern manufacturing centers)”

            I live in Washington State and we’ve been trading power on HVDC lines with California for decades. Distances in Europe are puny compared. I don’t see any problem here accept that Germany is more crowded with people and there’s less room for transmission lines. No technical or cost problem, accept litigation.

            “Mass Storage is still so embrionic that even Germany hasn’t invested significantly”

            Let’s see, they’ve already built, are using, and benefitting from, pumped hydro. They have a large hydrogen storage plant. They now have a FIT for storage installation. …with several new, low-cost, energy storage technologies coming to the market this will make a big dent in their storage problem. Here is one possibility:
            http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/12/ambri-update-ambri-publishes-2013-progress-report/
            Here is another:
            http://www.power-technology.com/features/featureliquid-air-future-renewable-energy-storage/
            …and another:
            https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/LightSail-Gets-37.5M-from-Thiel-Khosla-and-Gates-for-Compressed-Air-Grid
            …and another:
            http://www.pv-tech.org/news/bill_gates_gives_boost_to_renewables_storage
            …and another:
            http://cleantechnica.com/2013/07/19/eos-to-conquer-the-world/
            Many different tech approaches mean that a few will be successful. Again, I fail to see a problem here, especially as applies to the USA.

            “Now that household rates are skyrocketing”
            Provide numbers and sources on this. There is no question Germany did a service to the rest of the world at significant cost to themselves. It is not the same in the USA now that the Germans have incentivize solar tech development and cost reduce so far along. In the USA we are clearly benefitting from solar and wind investments. In fact, it is ludicrous to suggest investments in renewables are breaking the bank while we continue to invest far larger amounts into fossil fuels and are seeing no benefits from this apart from NG …and fracking is not the panacea it is made out to be …there are serious problems and the benefits of small pocket exploitation will be short lived.
            “political unrest”
            Oh please, don’t you think “unrest” is a bit much?

            “there is the deep irony that Germany is now building new coal-fired plants to assure grid stability”
            Ah yes, the best lies are the ones with some truth mixed in. Yes, German use of coal has increased and this is an irony, BUT this has absolutely nothing to do with increasing grid stability. They do NOT have a problem with that …liar! Germany is cursed with poor energy resources in general. They are at about the same latitude as me in Seattle and they have mountains, which hold onto clouds, in their Northern half. This does not apply the same for the whole Southern half of the USA.

            Roughly 1/3 of all electricity use in the USA is for air conditioning. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize most of this is in the Southern USA, the sun-belt, where
            the solar resource is high. The simple, obvious, and most cost effective solution to the increasing heat wave problem across the Southern USA is distributed solar PV on homes and business, in parking lots and local brown fields. This combined with local, very low cost cold storage (cold storage as cold water, ice, cold rocks, sand or dirt – CHEAP STORAGE of solar PV power generated during the day) and a small battery requirement to run a circulation fan at night.
            WE CAN ELIMINATE ONE-THIRD OF OUR ELECTRICITY USE IN THE USA …AND PROTECT AGAINST HEAT WAVE CAUSED GRID COLLAPSE …AND PROTECT THE OLD AND WEAK FROM DIEING OF HEAT STROKE …BY IMPLEMENTING THIS.
            THAT SOLUTION FOR USA AC USE IS CHEAPER THAN THE CONVENSION COAL, NUKE, OR EVEN NG SOLUTION.
            LESS DISTRIBUTION INFRASTRUCTURE IS REQUIRED.
            THAT is ONE of my answers to our energy problems. Address it or be called out as a fraud and a fool.
            What is your plan? SOS? Hate to tell you but world supplies of oil, coal, and even NG are not going to meet the needs of the rapidly developing third world, whether you believe in AGW or not. Hawk that I am, I will not participate in world wars to defend access to limited fossil fuel supplies ever again, including defending our own coal resources from others. …certainly not when there are other, MORE COST EFFECTIVE, solutions. Your plan is NO plan.
            The answer is to use the power available from that huge Fusion power plant somebody built for us a safe distance away in space. The amount of power available from that source is many (100s? 1,000s?) times what you can provide with any aggregation of fossil fuel AND nuke plants. …AND that giant fusion plant will probably be running for just a couple of years longer. …stupid!
            Ya know, you should go tell the people in Australia, Hawaii, and some other areas in the world that they are losing money when cut their electricity bill by putting solar on their roof …including the financing …including free power bills after 20 years when the system is paid off (meaning even an even lower power bill for your benefit since you are obviously simple minded). I don’t think they know that saving money by installing solar is actually a bad idea like you do.
            Have fun with that “five energy infrastructure” sound bite!

          • Bob_Wallace

            The 20th Century grid used coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, petroleum, geothermal, biomass, storage, and transmission.

            The 21st Century grid will use wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, biomass, biogas, tidal, wave, storage and transmission.

            Why is the number of “infrastructures” important? Why is 9 better than 11? Seems like the more diverse your sources, the more you’re protected against a source going sour.

            (Look what recently happened in Japan when their nuclear eggs got broken.)

          • Robert

            For less well of Germans electrical power has become a luxury and so has the increase in apartment rent caused by the government housing insulation effort. Something has to give soon. Also, the average temperature in Germany is declining putting a question mark on all the climate computer modelling. Many asking now, was the Energiewende a waste of money?

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s a pile of elephant poop.

            Germans electricity costs are about 2% of their spending. Renewables have kept electricity prices rising faster. German electricity prices have risen less than the rise in fossil fuel prices.

            The people asking if the Energiewende was a waste of money are pretty much the flat earthers who deny climate change and are defending the fossil fuel industry.

            And the temperature in Germany is falling? Are you not aware that the summer is about over and we are heading into the fall?

            Are you intentionally lying or simply massively misinformed?

          • Boo

            Jerks get the welcome they deserve once they show their true colors….

    • Ervin Gazy

      Paul you are 100% correct. On a July day PJM was producing 150,000 MW of which 50 MW was from wind. At the PJM website it states they have 18,000 MW of wind on the system, ie 17,950 MW collecting dust.
      Bob attacts you and has nothing to add.

    • mds

      Don’t lump them together. The chronic Texas summer time heat wave and resulting Air Conditioning power demand problem are best solved with Solar PV combined with very low cost cold storage in the form of cold water, ice, cold rocks, sand, or dirt (any of them) for night time use with just circulation fan power being required. This can be done on site for homes and businesses, so less transmission infrastructure is required, not more. This is far more economical than paying for spinning reserves of nuclear and coal, or for NG peaking plants. That traditional approach, with spinning reserves, does require more transmission infrastructure. …and solar continues to get cheaper.
      You’re an idiot if you don’t understand this. It is as plain as the nose on your face. Turn off the Faux News and do some thinking for yourself for a change.
      I suspect you actually have solar during the day (not enough in Texas yet, thanks to boneheads like you) and wind blowing at night. This is usually the case. Fact is you are always going to have solar when your AC demand is highest. Low cost cold storage for night time cooling is a very old technology. It doesn’t get much cheaper than dirt cheap.

    • Dan Hue

      Paul – So there is no wind over Texas on that given day, and the wind farms don’t make electricity. Truly shocking, and so unexpected. While you’re at it, why don’t you tell us that Germany’s solar panels don’t make any power at this very moment (it must be 12 am there), so they’re really no good at all? Proponents of renewables are well aware of the intermittency issue, and the fact that wind and solar have a much lower capacity factor than the typical coal or nuclear power plant. I guess it’s fair to consider that a handicap, but by no means does that disqualify them. Many studies have shown (based on actual historical data) that renewables can achieve 99% of power supply WITHOUT storage (or backup). That would include Texas on the very day you pointed out. Check today’s other posting here for more info (http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/12/intermittency-of-wind-and-solar-is-it-only-intermittently-a-problem/). And on a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that in an increasingly unstable climate, traditional power plants may find themselves in dire straits when the water they need to make steam runs out. Wind and solar PV don’t have that problem.

      • Robert

        Why is Germany building coal and gas power stations if it all works so well? What is the price for kWh? ay what was it 10 years ago?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned.

          These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

          By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

          Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing. And the new coal plants are partially load-following.

          Germany gets its natural gas from Russia. It would be politically dangerous to build their fossil fuel component around an undependable supply. Furthermore their new coal plants are capable of load following to some extent, which will further reduce the amount of CO2 they produce.

          Following the Fukushima meltdown the citizens of Germany decided that they would accept slowing their reduction in CO2 in order to get nuclear reactors out of their backyards. They live next door to Chernobyl, they still experience the nuclear fallout.

          After seeing a technologically advanced country like Japan melt some down they decided that they did not wish to live with this danger any longer. Other European countries have made the same decision.

          I suppose we’ll have Homer one of our plants into a pile of smoking radiation before we figure it out in the US. We are just so “superior” that we have a difficult time learning from others experience.

          BTW, Germany is still on track to be CO2 free by 2050.

    • Doug

      Given the fluctuations of daily/hourly energy prices charged by the generators on the spot market and the variable nature of wind and solar, more inter-connectivity will continue to help reduce the need for fossil fuels. A single county may be cloudy or have still wind, but somewhere 500 miles away it will be bright and breezy.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Archer and Jacobson found that connecting wind farms spread over only a 200 mile distance greatly flattened output.

        In fact, they found that about 30% of the output of wind farms connected over that distance was as reliable as output from a coal plant. That there’s a “baseload” output from connected with farms.

  • David Fuchs

    Zach …. Nice. I love government predictions of the cost of future technology. Wind, Solar, etc are all off in such a big way.

  • MikeSmith866

    The thing is when wind represents less than 5% of total energy, you don’t have to worry about storage because the power companies can use 100% of the wind power without storage. But as their share climbs, then storage will become a bigger issue.

    Here are a couple of links about the efforts of Professor Donald Sadoway from MIT to develop large size storage for wind and solar in a giant liquid metal battery

    http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_renewable_energy.html

    http://www.ambri.com/

    This may be the answer that wind and solar need to make them main stream power sources.

    • Ronald Brakels

      The good news is that as wind energy approaches a third of grid electricity, as here in South Australia, storage isn’t an issue either. This is not to say that cheaper energy storage would not be a wonderful thing, it just means that 5% wind penetration is no barrier and 30% isn’t likely to be a barrier either.

      • MikeSmith866

        Ron:
        The key factor I think is intermittency. If you consistently get good sun when there is no wind and vice versa then Australia will be fine. You can run the whole show with very little main stream power.

        In a separate post, Bob Wallace mentioned geo thermal. That may be another option if you need some main stream power and you don’t like nuclear.

        • TCFlood

          I remember hearing several years ago of several “hot rock” aka enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) projects that were underway in Australia where the geology reportedly is especially well suited for that technology. My impression is that none of these has really worked out as anticipated. What is the status of EGS in Australia?

          I know that one such project in California has been abandoned.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In the last year a new enhanced/hot rock geothermal plant was brought on line in Australia and one in Oregon.

            The new plants are small, but they’re good steps toward figuring out how to best capture dry heat. It’s an emerging technology.

            At their Oregon site AltaRock made some very good progress in figuring out how to shear rocks at multiple levels and get a lot more heat out of a single bore.

          • TCFlood

            Bob,
            This info and the info above on Germany’s coal and wind are very interesting. I’m finding this site very informative and helpful. I’m just learning my way around. Is there a good way to find threads on the site related to issues that come up such as we have just been discussing? I’m trying to assimilate as much info as I can as quickly as I can and direct references regarding these issues would be extremely helpful.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Go over to the right side where you will see “100% Renewable…”.

            Zach has assembled some of the best stuff there. And there are four headings above the “100%” link.

            And feel free to ask questions. There are some quite knowledgeable people posting here. And add what info you have. We’re all learning together.

            As for searching the site, I use Google and type in “CleanTechnia” + whatever I’m looking for.

          • MikeSmith866

            I don’t think geothermal needs to be competitive with wind or solar to be viable.

            I see it as fill-in or emergency power for unusual weather events. It may only get used 5% of the time.
            So if it costs 20 cents per kwh, it won’t be a big thing on your electric bill.

            Geothermal would only be worthwhile in places that had insufficient hydro power and did not want a small nuclear plant for backup.

            Ice land has made this work. The US has Yellowstone National Park, Canada has Banff Hot Springs, Australia has Dalhousie Springs, New Zealand has Rotarura. What are we waiting for?

          • Ronald Brakels

            At the moment hot rock geothermal is not competitive with the low cost of wind and solar and so there is not as much investor interest in it as there once was.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I should also mention that declining grid electricity use has eliminated the need for more baseload generating capacity in Australia. Who wants to build baseload generating capacity when existing baseload plants are being shut down?

        • Ronald Brakels

          Plenty of places without good sun get 20% or more of their electricity from wind. Wind penetration of 5% is no barrier. Wind capacity greater than baseload demand is also not a problem if it is cheaper than other low emission alternatives. (Which it often is, up to a point.)

          • MikeSmith866

            Yes, I agree that price per kwh is the number to look at as long as there is electricity available around the clock.

            Could give your thoughts on what is going on with the backlash against solar FIT reductions in Western Australia http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/08/western-australia-backs-down-on-solar-feed-in-tariff-cut?cmpid=SolarNL-Tuesday-August13-2013

          • Ronald Brakels

            If there was an energy source that was completely random in its output, then the decision whether or not to build it would be based on whether or not the average electricity price made it profitable. And the situation is exactly the same for an energy source that operates continuously.

            As for WA’s solar FIT reductions, if they didn’t want to have that level of FIT they shouldn’t have aggreed to pay that level of FIT. What’s that expression? “Eroding confidence in the State’s willingness to provide stable investment conditions”, or something along those lines. Apparently it’s a bad thing. If they didn’t want to pay that much in FIT they should have offered to buy people out instead, as many people are willing to take a substantial haircut if they are offered money up front.

          • MikeSmith866

            Regarding your first point, it would seem to me if an energy source was only going to be used 10% of the time as critical backup or fill-in power, you would look at the cheapest power that would meet that need and pay whatever it costs.

            The choices for critical fill-in are probably hydro, gas, nuclear or geothermal.

            If you don’t like gas (because of the carbon) or nuclear (because of the hazards) then you are left with hydro and geothermal. So you take the cheapest of those 2 options.

            Those 2 options might be more expensive then wind or solar but you choose from the available options because you need critical fill-in power maybe 10% of the time.

            Can you follow what I am saying?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, if you had a 10% need then you’d first make a list of sources that can be turned on and off as needed.

            Wind and solar are not controllable at that level. You can turn them off, but you have no control over when you can turn them on.

            If your need is know far enough in advance and your need is for several hours per session then you could put coal and nuclear on the list. They take hours to days to come up from full off and once up it’s pretty inefficient to use them for a little time and then turn them off. (I.e., you probably wouldn’t consider them.)

            We might hang on to some coal plants for a while as ‘hot summer’ fill-in. But it certainly wouldn’t pay to build new coal or nuclear and run them only 10% of the time.

            If you need a ‘turn on fairly often for modest lengths of time’ then you would list gas turbines, storage and possibly hydro. A small feed-in stream might not be worth damming as a large scale generator, but might be worth trapping for a 10% source.

            Unlikely you’d invest in a geothermal plant and run it only 10% of the time.

            Right now NG turbines are the cheapest fill-in. That, of course, does not price in the CO2.

            Most likely we will be able to store wind and solar as cheap or cheaper than NG turbines if we price carbon. Or we might store biogas and use it in turbines.

          • MikeSmith866

            There are a lot of horses in the race.
            I am not sure if grid scale batteries would work as fill-in power if you needed them for several days.

            The one I like best is the biogas driving a CHP turbine. And if the biogas is too expensive, then in the meantime one could use natural gas.

          • Bob_Wallace

            At some point it might be a good idea for you to look into how valid your “several days” belief is.

            If you are making that judgement based on the sunshine you see out your window and the wind ripples you see on the lake close to you, well, you could be using bad data.

            The good wind is up 80 meters and more over you. You aren’t even aware when it’s blowing unless you’ve got a meter up there. And the cloud over your house is quite likely not covering the area within a few hundred miles from your house.

            Might I suggest Budischak? Or this paper…

            http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf

          • MikeSmith866

            Thanks for the Sanford link. The Sanford study seems to show that intermittency does not increase with wind strength.

            The Budischak study presumes an interconnection of wind farms 1000 km apart to deal with intermittency. Its a well done study because it uses real weather data over a 4 year period.

            The Renew Economy study ( http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/is-intermittency-in-wind-and-solar-only-a-problem-intermittently-72035 ) highlights the compatibility of wind and solar.

            So on paper everything looks fine. But I am concerned that the world is experiencing more extreme weather. And things could get worse.

            Myself, I would take CHP generators with natural gas or bio gas over batteries. The best experts are telling us we need almost no backup power but they are all using weather data from 5 or more years ago.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s impossible to say what will happen with our weather systems in the near future. We are very close to melting out the Arctic sea ice during summers and some calculations show that the Arctic ice could disappear year round in a surprisingly few years (as little as ten) later.

            That could greatly even out surface temperatures and slow wind speed. If that happens then we would need larger blades on our turbines.

            And I’m not sure offshore wind speeds would be much changed. The temperature difference between the daily heating of the land and the more constant temperature of deep water would still occur.

            Natural gas should not be on our menu. The carbon adds to our problems.

            Biogas, there’s the issue of how much we can practically make. We throw away only so much food and poop only so much per day.

            With cheap batteries (possibly liquid metal) we could build a reliable and inexpensive grid with mostly solar and storage. We might need to harvest winter solar in the sunnier parts of the continent and ship it to the least sunny.

          • MikeSmith866

            Certainly Texas, New Mexico and most of the southern states are getting lots of sun and from an energy angle that’s a good thing.

            From what I can gather about the jet stream, the weather may become less changeable. I think batteries will get us through long periods when weather is all wind and little sun; and vice versa.

            I was very encouraged to see the article in Clean Technica about Florida’s new ethanol plant http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/14/floridas-newest-ethanol-plant-makes-energy-from-garbage/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=299fdb26e9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_b9b83ee7eb-299fdb26e9-331251509 . This may be the breakthrough we have been looking for.

            Actually we need the breakthrough more for transportation than fill-in electric power. If this plant can produce ethanol at competitive prices we will be off to the races.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The world used 87.4 million barrels per day in 2010. That’s 3,670,800,000 gallons per day.

            Imagine the infrastructure it would take to make that much ethanol from plant feedstock. Try to imagine the amount of plant material that would have to go in the front end to get 3.7 billion gallons out the back end. Each day.

            Now, reflect on the fact that internal combustion engines are only about 20% efficient. Around 80% of the energy going into the tank gets turned into kinetic (moves the car) energy. The rest is wasted heat.

            And the fact that electric cars are about 90% efficient. Only 10% of the energy in the batteries is wasted.

            And think of how we already have the ability in the US to charge 75% of our cars and light trucks with existing generation. That’s going to be the case, in differing amounts, in other countries.

            And think how the feedstock for solar panels and wind turbines is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

            If we installed about 2,500 watts of solar panels per car we would produce all the electricity needed to charge them. Less than $5k/car for 30, 40, more years worth of charging.

            Charging with wind turbines would be even cheaper.

            We need liquid fuels for some applications such as air travel. But liquid fuels just aren’t needed for most ground transportation. The Trans-Siberian Railway runs the distance of almost twice the width of the US using electricity.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:
            I am with you on electric automobiles.

            I would love to see our trains electrified but in Canada we can’t get to first base on electricification of commuter trains that are running 15 times a day over the same track. We have a group called Metrolinx that looks after transportation planning in the Greater Toronto Area and almost everything that runs above ground is burning fossil fuel.

            So in spite of your story about the Trans Siberian Railway, we are still sitting at the starting line. And in Ontario we have surplus electricity.

            So if we can’t get short haul commuter trains out of the water, I have serious doubts about our long haul freight trains.

            I don’t think we have any electric or wind powered freight ships.

            I have not seen any economic studies on electrification of our train lines, I am simply giving our engineers the benefit of the doubt that gas is cheaper than other alternatives right now.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Canada and the US are two of the highest emitters of CO2 per capita. We are going to have to clean up our acts. Or screw the entire planet.

            The Trans-Siberian was converted to electric. It can be done if there is ample desire.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:
            I have no idea of the economics on this. I would guess that complete electrification of our railroads would cost trillions.

            It would strike me that some sort of Steering Committee should point out the low hanging fruit which I believe are the short haul commuter runs around the big cities. Then give incentives to get the conversion underway.

            I know Metrolinx could not care less about Global Warming. They probably have no idea about it. But if the federal government gave them some money for electrification, they would probably get interested.

            I think we need some more study about the country’s capability to produce bio fuel from sewage, algae, duck grass etc. I believe you are of the belief that even if we had some cheap way of producing bio fuel, that there is not enough land, water, poop or whatever to make this stuff in sufficient quantities.

            I am thinking that there should be a realistic target for bio fuel, like maybe it can eventually replace 35% of fossil fuel. So now we have to figure out how to electrify whatever is left. We also have wind for ships at sea.

            I don’t know if any work has been done along this line.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Certainly Texas, New Mexico and most of the southern states are getting lots of sun and from an energy angle that’s a good thing.”

            We haul oil from Saudi Arabia to Texas refineries, more than 8,000 miles. Then we haul the refined product hundreds of mile further to stick it in gas tanks. That’s a 24/365 energy, ship/truck, port/highway, fuel outlay.

            If we had to run a UHVDC line from Mexico to Canada to carry winter sunshine doesn’t it seem like that would be cheaper in the long run?

            I find one estimate for a new HVDC line in Alaska ranging from $140,000 to over $300,000 per mile. About 1,500 miles from the Mexican boarder to Ontario, CA. $210 million to $450 million.

            Over 40 years that line would cost $5 million to $9 million per year. I bet far more is spent on tanker fuel each year.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:

            If you go to the upper right hand graph at this link http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec5_3031.pdf
            it would appear that very little petroleum is used to produce electricity. You can get to the index at http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#petroleum

            The decision to construct power lines would be based on the cost of the lines versus cost of building wind, solar power in the local area. Budischak used 1000 km in his study but that figure could vary by region according to weather patterns.

            But getting back to the petroleum, what we need is a competitive bio fuel. I am hoping the new ethanol plant in Florida will show some promise. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/14/floridas-newest-ethanol-plant-makes-energy-from-garbage/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=299fdb26e9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_b9b83ee7eb-299fdb26e9-331251509

            We will still need petroleum to make plastics and other materials. But if we can get petroleum out of the transportation sector we will be out of the woods.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think you missed my point.

            You seem to be, IMO, overly concerned about the Sun not shining and the wind not blowing “for several days” somewhere.

            I was attempting to remind you that we now haul “stored energy” great distances from where it is found to where we would like to use it. Oil can travel thousands of miles, coal as well.

            If there’s a place where, for several days, there’s not enough local solar/wind generation to keep the lights on and charge the EVs we do have the option of bringing in power from other places.

            We’re starting to make plastics out of plant feedstock.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:
            This is all fine if you have the grid built. Ontario has no connection to Manitoba (west neighbour) and only limited connection to Quebec (east neighbour).

            Both of these provinces have huge hydro power resources.

            I think in the US which has a population density about 10 times that of Canada, the concept of a grid connecting everyone is more practical.

            I do not know anything about what it costs to build transmission lines through the wilderness in Canada but I am guessing (hoping) that the decisions to support ourselves in Ontario with our own power were made economically.

            Incidentally, Quebec periodically talks about separating themselves from Canada and this may be a factor as well.

            I see the grid as one tool in the tool kit. If you are thousands of km from a power source, then local power and storage would make more sense.

        • Bob_Wallace

          As someone who has lived offline with solar and a “gas peaker” for fill-in I think the intermittency issue is way over hyped.

          It’s just a matter of balancing out the various supply possibilities with enough storage and load-shifting to make it work. Those areas that don’t get a lot of winter sunshine often have a large amount of hydro.

          And it’s not that big a deal to transport electricity. We ship power almost a thousand miles from Oregon’s hydro resources to Los Angeles. It will carry 3.1 GWs.

          And the Intermountain Intertie can carry 2.1 GWs almost 500 miles from Utah to LA.

          If we had to we could ship wind all over the country. Better and cheaper than building a sea wall around our coasts. If we spread our collection net wide we’ll have fewer times when inputs are low.

          Sure, transmission costs some money. But it lasts a long time. The first part of the Pacific Intertie was built over 40 years ago and we could still be using it for centuries to come. Might have to replace parts, but the routing, real estate and permitting costs are behind us.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:

            But you are living proof that you don’t need long transmission lines.

            I take it that you have maybe 12 hours of battery storage in your basement and a small gas generator and you are making it off line.

            I sent you the link earlier about New Zealand http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/future-grid-networks-focus-on-solar-storage-for-consumers-66152 They are reducing costs with roof top solar and battery storage.

            I suppose there is an issue of maintenance. The more you decentralize your power, the more costly it is will be to maintain.

            Have you worked out what your cost per KWH works out to all in?

          • Bob_Wallace

            My current batteries are pretty worn out so something more like 24 hours of storage. I’ll replace them before winter with batteries that can take me about 72 hours.

            I do use a small generator. But it would be so much less expensive if I could tap into a wind turbine or hydro source when the Sun doesn’t shine for a while. Transmission can be expensive to build, but the payoff can be immense. And can continue for many, many decades.

            My cost of electricity is high. I’m sure it’s well over 20c/kWh. Batteries alone cost that. But the cost of hooking to the grid was $300,000.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:
            I think if you lived in New Zealand it would be much cheaper.

            In Ontario our electricity bills show cost of the electricity by kilowatt hour separate from the “delivery Charge” which represents about half of the bill.

            I have a friend who has gone off grid with solar panels and batteries because he was sick of paying the delivery charges.

            There are companies selling small wind turbines for individual use.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can’t make the math work for a wind turbine. At least once a year I crank through the numbers to remind myself that the payback time is in the 40-50 year range.

            I hate burning gas for electricity but it’s considerably cheaper to purchase some gas and to purchase some carbon offset to even things out.

            What I am considering is adding another kW of panels. I have enough now to run my life when the Sun is out on cloudy days, but that isn’t enough to charge up the batteries. Some overbuilding of capacity (remember Budischak?) might cut my fuel use significantly.

          • MikeSmith866

            I think Budischak used a figure of 180% of average to cover the high spots. That was with a mix of solar and wind.

            But you are saying that with a few extra solar panels you can make it without wind.

            This is not really covered by Budischak and proves that with enough panels and batteries you don’t need wind.

            Now how do you heat your place, do you use wood? That’s how I heat our place in the spring and fall.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The message from the Budischak paper is that in some cases it can be cheaper to overbuild capacity in order to lower storage needs.

            Extra panels won’t let me avoid the generator. But it could cut down on amount I need to run it.

            If I could get my hands on some EOS zinc-air batteries (and if they work as claimed) I could probably cut my generator use to almost nothing.

            If I could share the output of a $5k wind generator with a couple other houses then wind would make sense for me.

            It’s all about balancing out renewable generation, storage and deep backup.

            Yes, wood. My house is pretty efficient, I use something less than a cord a year. This last spring was nasty-cold and I used about 1.25 cords.

  • TCFlood

    Just as a point of information, the proper term is “batshit crazy”. It is even worse than having “bats in [one’s] belfry.” It is so severe as to have a large accumulation of bat guano.

    • http://www.energyquicksand.com/ Edward Kerr

      TCFlood

      Having once cleaned out a church belfry that had close to ten feet of accumulated guano, I can attest to your info point.

    • David Fuchs

      I prefer “Crazy as a shit house rat” personally.

  • jburt56

    100 MJ/dollar.

  • bungaylad

    I believe the term is “bat-shit”

  • MieScatter

    Hi Zachary,

    The US PTC is applied to the first 10 years of output. Wind farms usually last at least 20 years, so the levelised price is lower than you estimated.

    I can’t find PTC details on how they change with time. If you take a 5% discount rate then the average value of the PTC is actually closer to $14/MWh than the $22/MWh that you might expect.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “The duration of the credit is generally 10 years after the date the facility is placed in service, but there are two exceptions:

      Open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation hydro, landfill
      gas and municipal solid waste combustion facilities placed into service
      after October 22, 2004, and before enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, on August 8, 2005, are only eligible for the credit for a five-year period.

      Open-loop biomass facilities placed in service before October
      22, 2004, are eligible for a five-year period beginning January 1, 2005.”

      http://dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=US13F

  • JamesWimberley

    Your reader comments: “It’s the ‘delivered to the door’ cost of electricity, not just the generation price.” Really? It’s the price paid by the utility to the generator, i.e. the wholesale price. Transmission and distribution costs and the utility’s profit have to be added to get the retail price. That said, 4c per kwh is an impressively low wholesale price.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You sure transmission costs are not included?

      Distribution cost and utility profit have no business in this discussion. They are on the other end of the process. They are post acquisition.

      (4c post subsidy.)

      • JamesWimberley

        It must depend on the specific deals, but surely wind generators don’t own transmission for more than the first few miles that connects the farm to the utility’s grid.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I found this….

          “Transmission provisions are becoming an increasingly important part of PPAs. These provisions include allocating both responsibility for securing adequate transmission access and the costs for any required transmission upgrades, and other key transmission concerns.

          The seller is often responsible for the costs of all transmission upgrades necessary to deliver the wind energy from the generation facility (the wind turbines) to the point of delivery, but sometimes sellers negotiate for the right to pass some or all of theses costs on to the purchaser.

          The point of delivery is a specific point in the transmission system where the wind energy is deemed to be delivered to the purchaser, and the purchaser assumes the risk of loss beyond that point.”

          http://www.windustry.org/community-wind/toolbox/chapter-13-power-purchase-agreement

          Building transmission from the wind farm to the nearest existing transmission line is part of wind farm cost.

          Then there would be a use fee for the original line and it sounds like this fee is normally included in the PPA.

    • MikeSmith866

      Here is a background article that is mentioned in the main article http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2013/08/06/new-study-finds-that-the-price-of-wind-energy-in-the-united-states-is-near-an-all-time-low/

      The .04 refers to PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) which I assume is what the utility company pays the wind farm at the output point of the wind farm.

      The article goes on the say that in the interior region PPA prices are even lower at .03 per kwh. ($30/MWh)

      • Bob_Wallace

        It’s unclear whether the PPA covers all or only part of the transmission costs. I wouldn’t be surprised if it varies from contract to contract.

        Here’s what I can find on transmission costs.

        “The mid-range transmission cost per kW of wind was found to be
        $300/kW, about 15-20% of the cost of a new wind plant. Though the cost of transmission for wind is not insignificant, the report finds little
        evidence that transmission costs necessarily increase at greater levels of wind penetration. For example, numerous studies of large amounts of new wind generation, including a detailed study of 20% wind energy penetration in the Eastern Interconnection, have transmission costs per kW of wind that are among the lower end of the sample.”

        http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/02/lbnl-reviews-the-cost-of-transmission-for-wind-power

        If the unsubsidized cost of wind is now 6c/kWh a 20% transmission cost would add 1.2c/kWh on average. And that is only if transmission costs are paid by the utility. It would bring the subsidized cost to 5.2c/kWh. Still cheap.

        • MikeSmith866

          Bob:

          The scary part is that wind still needs a subsidy at 7.2 cents.

          The government should apply a carbon tax on gas and force wind and solar into the main stream.

          It is the incredibly cheap price of gas that is delaying green energy. But fracking gas really is not cheap at all if you look at the collateral damage. Here’s a story of how Texas communities are running out of water because of fracking. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water

          • Bob_Wallace

            6.2c. And the subsidy goes away after ten years per wind farm.

            Wind is getting to the point at which no subsidy is needed. I’ll be surprised if either wind or solar are subsidized post 2018. Wind might get dropped sooner and solar’s subsidy drops as the price of solar drops.

            A carbon tax would be a great way to speed our transition off fossil fuels. But it’s not going to happen with the current group running our House.

            The best hope is that the EPA leans heavily on the natural gas industry and forces it to clean up. Coal is getting killed. Drive up the price of NG and immense effort will go into solving the storage issue and much more wind and solar will be installed.

          • MikeSmith866

            Bob:
            Even if the fracking industry finds a way of doing their work without screwing up the water supply and spewing methane into the air, they still are only on first base.

            Hurricane Sandy is clocking in at $60 B in damages and rising. The farmers in the mid west, the south and California are getting hammered with drought. The south/west is getting hammered with record wild fires.

            97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is coming from carbon emissions and global warming is causing extreme weather.

            The huge costs for global warming are not born by the oil companies; they are born by you and I.

            The carbon tax should be applied even if the oil companies totally cleanup their act. People have to be told this and told to vote Democrat in the upcoming elections.

            Dick Cheney’s daughter is running for the Senate in Wyoming and has already stated that Global Warming is a hoax. Somehow these people must be stopped from gaining power over us.

          • stevea526

            There is, to date, no empirical data showing that fracking has caused wellwater contamination. Who says so? Obama’s EPA. They recently issued a report on the subject. Look it up.
            Hurricane Sandy was expensive because of a rare weather pattern that coincided with high tide combined with lots of people building in harms way. The drought being “suffered” now at 400ppm CO2 is nothing compared to that of the 1930s when CO2 was much lower. And wildfires, as widely reported as they are, are statistically at their lowest levels in decades (along with huricanes and tornadoes). Data, not emotion or politics, should drive policy.
            Anyone quoting the 97% “consensus” is not advocating a scientific approach to problem solving. Consensus is a political term used for political purposes. BTW – the 97% figure was arrived at by a biased survey which reduced the number of surveys sent out (10,000+) down to 77 used for the final calculation. 70% of the survey recipients did not even think it was worth their time to answer 2 questions.
            A carbon (dioxide) tax is simply a way to attract more tax dollars, drive up the overall cost of energy, and will do nothing to reduce global warming. Why? Because CO2 is not a doomsday gas. Who says so? The scientific method. There is plenty of data that conflicts with and contradicts the mantra that CO2 will cause catastrophic warming. As such, the CAGW hypothesis is wrong. Mainstream alarmists are already retooling the storyline that the heat not going into atmospheric temp (which they have already acknowledged as having been flat for 10+ years, rendering every enhanced greenhouse model unsupportable) is going into the deep ocean. The problem there, though, is that the Jason Argo bouy system has not detected it.
            Thankfully, the general population has a seemingly inherent better feel for the scientific method than the overwhelming majority of alarmist “scientists” and is ranking global warming the least of their concerns.

          • Adam Grant

            It’s reasonable to expect that as the renewable power industry becomes larger, its political power will increase enough to counter the fossil energy lobby. When only one voice is being heard, it can say whatever it wants; even a relatively small expenditure on lobbyists could counter the more egregious misinformation being spread around by the fossil fuel industry.

          • MikeSmith866

            Exxon makes a profit of over $30 B per year. The renewable industries will be decades getting to that level.

            The renewable energy lobby has to become the people.

            Now one of the problems is the oil industry holding companies also control the media so the public in many cases does not know about global warming.

            I had hope that Hurricane Sandy would have helped but that memory is gone.

          • TCFlood

            I wish that last statement were true, but I fear that if the price of NG goes up, the greatest pressure will be to go right back to coal.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re on track to close over half our coal plants.

            If that happens where are we going to burn that coal? We’re certainly not going to build new coal plants. Even if they didn’t cost a fortune, they would take years to bring on line.

          • TCFlood

            Germany is increasing their coal use with their loss of nuclear and the fact that they are having some trouble with integration/reliability of wind over what they anticipated.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned. These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

            By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

            Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing.

            Furthermore their new coal plants are capable of load following to some extent, which will further reduce the amount of CO2 they produce.

            Germany will also have less ability to burn coal.

            Germany has a temporary problem with wind. They finished an offshore wind farm before they installed the transmission line. Other than that Germany is doing just fine with wind.

          • TCFlood

            Our coal exports to Germany have increased recently. Perhaps they are delaying decommissioning some of the old coal plants while they get their renewables straightened out. Dropping several GW of nuclear capacity is certainly a large dislocation.

            Some of the denier sites are claiming Germany is backtracking on wind. An authoritative reference describing the real situation would be very helpful.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yeah, Germany is showing a bit of an uptick in coal use. Post Fukushima they sped up their plans to drop nuclear and they don’t have enough renewables in place yet.

            The US is also showing a small uptick in 2013 over 2012. But also just noise, not a new trend.

            Germany has some significant plans for new wind turbines, some 60,000. That is meeting some resistance. Everything new meets some resistance. There will always be some NIMBYs who, unfortunately for them, don’t own the view they had been enjoying.

            And fossil fuel interests are fighting back as they can see their investments and profit streams endangered.

            I’m sure if someone wants to make a story about the opposition to wind they could easily find some people in Germany to interview. But overall there seems to be no widespread opposition. And I’ve seen nothing about the government reconsidering its plans.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve tried searches a few different ways. I find multiple repeats of the same “some people are unhappy” story.

            I find nothing that hints that the Germany government is changing plans or that there is any sort of widespread opposition to additional wind farms.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Not if wind is cheaper. It’s also faster to build than new coal plants; three years as opposed to five years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Large wind farms are often built in less than two years, sometimes in less than one.

            And with large farms sections can be brought on line before the entire farm is finished. After a few months the farm can be in partial operation and producing electricity.

          • stevea526

            “Leaning” on existing power generation sources to create a market for renewables is unconscienable. Consumers should not be punished for the wet dreams of the radically eco-minded. If renewables want to compete, let them do so on a totally unsubsidized playing field (that goes for fossil fuels as well). If individuals wish to subsidize renewables, by all means, let them pony up their hard earned cash and do so. But for those of us who have good reason to believe that CO2 is not a doomsday gas, having the cheapest, near 100% reliable source of power is just fine. Renewables will have their time when fossil fuel sources suffer their inevitable decline. Until then, stop playing politics with the grid and let consumers decide where they want their power from.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tell you what, Champ. You get fossil fuels and nuclear to give up their subsidies and get back to us.

            I’m sure wind and solar would love to compete on a level playing field in which fossil fuels and nuclear didn’t get massively more support than they do.

            (I bet you absolutely love paying in tax dollars to support coal, oil and nuclear, don’t you?)

          • stevea526

            You can get off your soap box, Bub, because I have no love for fossil fuels / nuclear or hatred for renewables. As I understand it, Big Oil does not get subsidies, they get tax incentives. You might see it as the same thing but it the same incentives offered to and taken by other, non-energy companies. If wind / solar companies want to give up their subsidies and take the same tax incentives, fine. That is a level playing field.

            My concern is that neither wind nor solar provide steady, 24/7/365 power to the grid. Presently, they require 100% backup. This make great demands on the power companies to integrate these variable sources while providing stable, reliable power. Also, the time of greatest renewable output is largely when the need is lowest (and vice versa). There is simply no storage system yet available that can “smooth out” this problem. My idea is giant flywheels. I just found out that the Aussies are using them in Tasmania.

            I dislike but understand the need for paying taxes. If government did its Constitutionally defined duties, we would not need tax incentives (or subsidies), personal tax rates would be low, corporate tax rates could be zero, and the economy would flourish.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tax breaks are subsidies. If you wish to narrowly define subsidies to mean dollars handed out, then neither wind, solar or electric vehicles get subsidies. They all get tax breaks, tax credits.

            Wind gets a choice between a PTC, production tax credit, or accelerated depreciation. Homeowners get a 30% tax credit for installing solar. EV buyers get a $7,500 tax credit.

            Oil companies get asset depreciation which means that the subtracting is done earlier on the tax form. That is the only difference.

            Fossil fuels and nuclear have received massively larger subsidies (defined as taxpayer assistance) than have renewables. When fossil fuels and nuclear give up their “special financial treatment” then asking renewables to give up theirs will be somewhat reasonable. Unreasonable in that fossil fuels and nuclear will have received many times more assistance.

            “My concern is that neither wind nor solar provide steady, 24/7/365 power to the grid. Presently, they require 100% backup.”

            No coal plant, natural gas plant or nuclear plant provides steady, 24/7/365 power to the grid. They all require 100% backup. We overbuild capacity, install gas peakers and build storage in order to keep the coal/gas/nuclear grid running.

            “This make great demands on the power companies to integrate these variable sources while providing stable, reliable power.”

            Actually, that isn’t true. The cost of integrating wind and solar is close to zero.

            Later we will need to add more storage to the grid, once renewables get somewhere above 35% of our total capacity. But adding storage and renewables is cheaper than adding new coal or nuclear.

            Pump-up hydro works just fine. We built 20 GW of it in order to incorporate nuclear back when we were adding nuclear to the grid. We also built a GW of CAES, which also works fine.

            Most likely we’ll have even better storage options a few years from now when storage is required. If not, we’ve got hundreds of existing dams we can convert to storage and plenty places we can build closed loop hydro.

            (Flywheels are great for grid smoothing. We’re using them. But they aren’t likely to be great for mass storage.)

            I’ve never met anyone who liked paying taxes, even the most left of the left.

            I suspect your version of how the government should work is that it should meet your needs and to hell with everyone else. A good road to your house, a good hospital nearby, police and fire protection for you. Medical care when you get old. Low cost loan if your house gets destroyed by flood or storm. Well maintained ramp for your boat. Electricity in your outlets.

            For everyone else? Not important.

          • MikeSmith866

            Steve:

            I can’t find your comment starting with “All of the model outputs…..”. so I am replying here.

            You say that we have had bad weather before. Please read this:

            ‘Billion-dollar weather': The 10 most expensive US natural disasters. All except 2 occurred in the last 15 years and all occurred in the last 25 years.

            http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2013/0627/Billion-dollar-weather-The-10-most-expensive-US-natural-disasters/Hurricane-Charley-August-2004-18.5-billion

            If you think that we are simply experiencing weather like the old days, I would need some very strong evidence to show that.

          • MikeSmith866

            Steve:

            I cannot find your original post that started with “There is, to date, no empirical data showing that fracking has caused wellwater contamination. ”

            Regarding the wellwater contamination, you might want to look at this article from Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-can-we-cope-with-the-dirty-water-from-fracking-for-natural-gas-and-oil

            But I was arguing that even if fracking was clean and no methane was released that we should apply a carbon tax anyway because most of the carbon is released when the oil or gas is burned. You are contending that since Global Warming has leveled off for the last 10-15 years that there is no connection between atmospheric carbon and global warming.

            You might want to read the articles below to get a better explanation as to what is going on.

            1) James Hansen Global Temperature Trends
            http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2012/20120119_Temperature.pdf
            If you go to page 6, he shows that the La Nina cooling oscillation has been prominent over the last 10 years and when the El Nino returns, we will resume global warming.

            2) British Scientists offer explanations on Global Warming
            http://phys.org/news/2013-07-british-scientists-explanations-global.html#nwlt
            They explain that the deep ocean has been warming at an unusual rate during the period that the air has leveled off. This is temporary and eventually air warming will return.

            3) Its hard to sea but the Globe is still warming
            http://grist.org/climate-energy/its-hard-to-sea-but-the-globe-is-still-warming/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=doncaster@cogeco.ca
            This makes the same point as (2)

            I hope this information is helpful.

          • stevea526

            Mike,

            My original post was excised from this thread. In that post, I should have clearly stated that, to date, no report I have seen has provided irrefutable data showing that fracking is causing well water contamination. That is not meant to
            imply that it does not, nor that I support fracking ‘just because’. Simply that the data has not been provided. If it is found that it is occurring then I will, like any rational creature, expect the industry to make things right to the person(s) affected and work to make their processes as harmless as
            possible. However, given that fracking has been around for quite a while, and the number of complaints relative to the number of wells that have been drilled has been small, one must, for the moment, conclude that it is an acceptable
            process. I read the article you linked. It was concerned with the water coming up from the fracking well, not wells for human consumption. I am confused as to the point you are trying to make.

            I am not contending that since atmospheric temp has leveled off that there is no connection between CO2 and warming. It is well regarded as fact among all climate scientists that a doubling of CO2 wants to warm its environment by about 1C. The debate concerns the feedbacks, specifically the approximately 2.5x coefficient applied to the value of atmospheric CO2 in the models. This is the basis for the enhanced greenhouse effect and the catastrophic predictions for future warming. On this point, the models have failed relative to observation (http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/still-epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-measurements-running-5-year-means/).

            I also read the articles you referenced. Page 6 of Hansen et al article does not show that the last decade has been dominated by La Ninas. It shows alternating warming and cooling. In addition, Hansen et al does not quantify each warming / cooling as the NOAA ONI index does (http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm). In your second reference, the Met Office does not state that the missing heat is going into the deep ocean. They state that they cannot find any other place it could be going. Big difference. Neither do they have data showing that the deep ocean has warmed. Indeed their own measurement of global SST (HADISST) shows that SST has also statistically leveled off (http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=119z1ux&s=7).
            Regarding the last article, it depends on the source as to whether the planet is still warming. The adjusted, land-dominated GISS data might say yes. However, the UAH global satellite data says no. I prefer a data set that is more comprehensive and requires little to no adjusting.

            If you wish to see how bad the pro-CAGW science has been relative to reality, please read Dr. David Evans review at:

            http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/evans-david/climate-coup-science.pdf

          • Bob_Wallace
          • stevea526

            Bub – If 700 – 2000 meters is the Jason Argo bouys mesurements, fine. Trenberth never defined deep ocean so I assumed he meant > 2000 meters. Regardless, all you’ve shown is that the ocean heat content has risen with the general warming of the planet. This has been occurring since we exited the LIA so is not surprising (except to you). This graph does not show that the missing atmospheric heat has be conveyed to the deep ocean. You need to do better.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, we’re not going to debate climate change here.

            I gave you links to the science. I showed you the graph. Any further babble will be taken down and if you persist you will be banned.

          • stevea526

            Bob – I could provide links and graphs that dispute your links and graphs. The difference between us is that I practice the scientific method in approaching the subject of climate change and reach conclusions based on ALL of the data, not just that which agrees with my agenda. Go ahead and ban me. But in doing so, you simply prove that your data cannot stand up to debate.

          • MikeSmith866

            Steve:
            Re: fracking and well water, here’s an item you might like to view http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LBjSXWQRV8

            Re: Roy Spencer. He is a controversial figure. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Spencer_%28scientist%29 I do not wish to debate the various scientific opinions floating around. I am agreeing with the IPCC because they are an official UN body supported by hundreds of scientists looking at this.

            I think if you believe that the oceans are not warming then why are the ice caps melting?
            – Greenlands melting could be the latest disaster of all http://grist.org/climate-energy/why-greenlands-melting-could-be-the-biggest-climate-disaster-of-all/
            – Arctic thaw may be the first in a cascade of tipping points http://www.yourhealthandmine.net/globalwarming10.htm
            – Antarctic is melting from underneath http://www.climatecentral.org/news/look-out-below-antarctic-melting-from-underneath-16128
            – Antarctic is melting faster say scientists http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/04/15/antarctic_ice_is_melting_faster_say_scientists.html

            You are arguing that Hurricane Sandy was an anomoly but what about:
            – the flooding on the Danube http://www.euronews.com/2013/06/10/no-let-up-as-record-floods-sweep-germany-and-poland/
            – the flooding of the Ganges http://io9.com/behold-the-devastating-power-of-the-flooded-river-gange-519338607
            – Insurance Companies are seeing a pattern of extreme weather http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/insurance-industry-republicans-split-on-climate-change.html
            – The US is running out of water in the Ogallala Aquifer. California is running out of water. Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam is down to 40% of its capacity.

            You may have Dr. Spencer and others who say that everything is fine but I think there is something wrong.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Roy Spencer is a creationist who has stated that he puts his religious beliefs ahead of scientific data. And even with that he admits the climate is warming.

            Now, if folks would like to discuss climate scientist would you please take it to an appropriate site such as Skeptical Science or Real Climate? You’ll find some very knowledgeable people there.

            Here, we’ve got other problems to solve. Specifically how do we get fossil fuels out of our lives and slow climate change.

          • stevea526

            Mike – All of the model outputs and observational data Spencer provided is correct. And it shows that the models do not agree with observation, meaning that the warming due to CO2 has been and continues to be exaggerated. If you choose to believe a political body over data, well…

            I do not know where pro-CAGW folks get the idea that skeptics do not believe the planet and oceans are not warming or that the climate is not changing. What we believe is that the warming is overwhelmingly natural and that CO2 plays a minor role in that warming. And the data, when one chooses to look at ALL of the data, backs this up.

            With regard to Sandy et al, you are talking weather, not climate. But if you want to talk weather, perhaps you should read articles from 50 – 100 years ago when reports like these also appeared. And why is it that, with increasing CO2, that hurricanes have decreased, or that the overall tornado seasons are not as bad. A human lifetime is short compared to cycles of the planet. Just because you have not seen this or that weather in YOUR lifetime does not mean that it has not happened before. And all of these types of disasters have happened before. this is nothing new (for the planet that is).

            I do not think anything is “wrong”. However, I do believe that the climate is changing. Preparing for changes is productive. Taxing CO2 is silly.

          • mds

            “to date, no report I have seen has provided irrefutable data showing that fracking is causing well water contamination”
            Must be tough on you living in a cave with no electricity or lighting of any kind. If you had access to something like the internet you might do a few searches and find several articles on this.
            Stick with what ya got there dude. Smoking was never proven to cause cancer either. ;-)

          • stevea526

            MD – Thanks for the kick in the pants. Fracking has not been a subject that I have followed with any kind of depth. Haven;t really had time for it. And, frankly, I did not see how drilling through an aquifier could not result in SOME kind of contamination. My original thought still stands, though, that if a driller does contaminate a well, that the well owner should sue the hell out of the driller. Think we can all agree on that.

          • Adam Grant

            The court system is an expensive and chancy option that favours those with deep pockets. If an activity such as fracking often contaminates groundwater, drillers should have to post large bonds, carry ample insurance, pay for regular independent contamination tests, list all substances they inject into the ground, and accept a regime in which the burden on proof is on them to establish that their operations are non-polluting.

          • rveen

            you know the only reason no one can definitively prove fracking is causing contamination is because no one knows whats in the brine right?

            It’s pretty obvious fracking is the cause. How could you provide irrefutable data when laws protect fracking companies from having to disclose this critical piece of information.

          • mds

            Fine stop subsidizing fossil fuels and nuclear first. The oil companies are already making world record corporate profits. Gee, I think this might be “unconscionable” or something. Where do all you deluded idiots come from anyway? The Faux News dis-informational network? Coal powered rant radio?

          • stevea526

            I don’t know where they come from because I do not support subsidies or tax incentives or bailouts…for anything. Fox news reports from the right. All of the other lamestream networks report from the left. None of them report straight facts from which we can draw our own conclusions. And the majority of the population accept what they see. Pitiful.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “A poll by Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey showed that of all the news channels out there, Fox News viewers are the least informed.

            People were asked questions about news habits and current events in a statewide poll of 600 New Jersey residents recently. Results showed that viewers of Sunday morning news shows were the most informed about current events, while Fox News viewers were the least informed. In fact, FDU poll results showed they were even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.

            Readers of The New York Times, USA Today and listeners to National Public Radio were better informed about international events than other media outlets.”

            And that is from the heavily right-leaning Forbes.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2011/11/21/fox-news-viewers-uninformed-npr-listeners-not-poll-suggests/

            Since Fox pushes climate change denial one shouldn’t be surprised that Fox viewers know little science, actually have their heads stuffed full of misinformation.

            It’s hard to draw your own conclusions and have them be correct when you’ve included faulty information.

          • stevea526

            Since I do not watch Fox News, what’s your point?

            A Yale study also showed that the higher the education level, the more likely the person is to be skeptical of CAGW.

            It’s even harder to draw accurate conclusions when you do not believe in the scientific method.

Back to Top ↑