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Clean Power Germans think Energiewende is important / good

Published on September 20th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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New York Times Gets Big, Red “F” On Germany’s Renewable Energy Transition

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Just coming back from an amazing trip visiting several of Ukraine’s cleantech pioneers, I’ve got a million things to do, including edit, upload, and share with all of you a bunch of interesting interviews and videos. Unfortunately, the New York Times — once a great journalistic outfit — has gone and published a horrible (horrible!), myth-filled article on Germany’s renewable energy transition. So, I’m putting all the fun stuff off in order to deal with this BS right now.

Rather than make this a flowery, conventionally journalistic piece that makes you feel like you’re strolling through yet another “informative” story somewhere in the mind of a concerned but relaxed NYTimes journalist who is “exploring the real world” and coming to “interesting,” counterintuitive, and even “shocking” conclusions (what would journalism be if it didn’t surprise you, right?), I’m going straight for the key BS points one by one as they appear in the NYTimes article. Not wanting to further impress some BS myths onto your minds, each section below starts with the counter-point rather than the message the NYTimes‘ Melissa Eddy and Stanley Reed provided.

Energiewende (the German plan to cut off nuclear and fossil fuel energy and replace it with clean, renewable energy) is running extremely well. Yes, there is a very popular talking point right now that claims Energiewende is running into problems (something like our congressional GOP’s “global warming action would hurt the economy” meme, which is actually completely false). In other words, this first key point from the NYTimes is total BS. Energiewende has come along and changed Germany in exactly the ways it was intended to. Changes to the country’s feed-in tariff policies have been implemented as solar and wind power grew and their costs came down, as was always planned. The initial investment costs money, but the payoff in terms of a cleaner environment and green jobs is paying off. As a result, there is still very broad support for Energiewende.

The “problems” the NYTimes references are basically manufactured problems created by big utilities, dirty energy companies, the think tanks they fund, and the politicians in their pockets. Yes, it’s politics season in Germany, so now is the time for these groups to greatly hype these fabricated problems. Unfortunately, some members of big media agencies don’t seem to see what is happening, and haven’t been following the story in Germany closely enough to know more about the actual situation and background of the Energiewende and its benefactors (i.e., common citizens and small businesses).

Germany’s electricity bills are a small percentage of overall household bills. One of the underlying arguments put forth by the NYTimes is that electricity rates are “skyrocketing” and putting the population in a whole lot of hurt. BS. Let’s actually look at some numbers. In the US, electricity accounts for about 4–6% of an average American’s budget. Here are some more details from a Charlotte Business Journal article:

Based on 2011 rates, the largest share of income going to power bills was in Hawaii, where those charges consume 6.2% of residential customers’ disposable money. That is no surprise. Power rates in Hawaii are famously high (34.68 cents per kilowatt hour in 2011, according to Moody’s)….

North Carolina’s average residential rate was 10.26 cents. That consumes 4.4% of customers’ disposable income, Moody’s says. States that take a larger share, after Hawaii, are South Carolina, 5.5% of disposable income; Alabama, 5.4%; Mississippi, 5.4%; Georgia, 4.9%: Tennessee, 4.7%, and Texas, 4.6%.

Arizona ties North Carolina at 4.4% of disposable income.

The two major Southern states that are not on that list are also interesting. Florida just misses getting the cut, with its power bills accounting for 4.3% of residents’ disposal income. All other traditional Southern states are also in the 4% range except for Virginia and Maryland. Power bills in each of those states account for 3.7% of disposable income. But Virginia and Maryland are both higher-income states than most in the South, largely because of the Washington D.C. suburbs.

In Germany, electricity now accounts for about 2–2.5% of a person’s budget. Hmm, unbearable, eh? Sure, that is an average, but even for the poorest 10%, the rate is just up to about 4.5%, probably less than the average American. Also, as I note in another section below, that is inevitable (no matter the power source), and the health benefits from switching to clean energy at least help to reduce sickness, early death, and healthcare bills (perhaps even having a net positive financial impact on the poor, who are disproportionately affected by such costs).

(Special thanks to our German writer Thomas Gerke for major help with this section.)


Germany’s welfare system has its poorer citizens living much more comfortable lives than those in other countries. The German welfare system would make congressional republicans in the US have seizures. Their unemployed and poor live very comfortable lives compared to ours. It’s a great system, in my opinion, that allows those who are less fortunate financially to live without too much extra struggle. As a quick anecdote, I have a German friend who was unemployed for quite some time. Visiting him in Berlin, I got a glimpse of how well even the unemployed and poor are able to live there. He had more money for food and the basics of life than he needed. He had a quite large apartment in a nice area that many a citizen in other countries could only dream about. Sure, he would be happy with something better, and he was working hard to get a job (as is of course required of the unemployed in order to keep getting support from the government), but he was at least able to live a comfortable life in a nice place as he worked to find employment.

Coming back to the matter at hand, Craig Morris of Renewables International has actually done an excellent job of trying to put electricity bills and Energiewende charges into perspective. Here’s one excerpt from that:

What is the impact of the cost of renewables on his power bill? Below I provide figures both for single-person households and four-person households in Germany.

Household Power consumption / year Monthly bill Of which, RE
1 person 1,800 kWh €40.5 €7.95
2 people 2,700 kWh €60.75 €63
3 people 3,400 kWh €76.5 €15.02
4 people 4,000 kWh €90 €17.67
5 people 4,600 kWh €103.5 €20.32

As you can see, the average monthly power bill for a single-person household in Germany comes in at €40.50, equivalent to around $55 at current exchange rates. Of that, around eight euros is attributable to green power alone – roughly the cost of one and a half of those packs of cigarettes on the German man’s kitchen table. For a family of four, the figure rises to €90, equivalent to around $120, with roughly €18 then devoted to renewable electricity.

Craig has much more in the way of calculations that I think is worth checking out. Head over to Renewables International for that. But just two more findings from that article that I think are particularly worth highlighting are as follows:

  • Using an online welfare calculator, Craig found that a single-person household in Germany would receive about €382 a month while also having rent, heating costs, and other utilities completely covered. That translates to about $517 spending money after rent & utilities.
  • For a family of four, including the rent (estimated at €600) and utilities, the total came to €2068, which is about $2800. That comes to nearly $34,000 a year. As Craig summarizes: “The German welfare system would thus put a family of four nearly 50 percent above the poverty level in the United States, which was just over $23,000 a year in 2011 (PDF). For a single person living alone, the poverty level in the US was around $11,500, which is also a full 10 percent below the approximately $13,000 a year that that person would receive in Germany according to the online calculator above.”

Anyway, check out Craig’s full piece for more on that. He also has great sections on the options Germans have for changing power providers (hint: the guy featured in the NYTimes story could save €12 a month by switching to a different power provider), some perspective on how many Germans get their power shut off versus how many Americans land in such a situation, and facts on other German costs that make the focus of this NYTimes story look like a joke (a key reason why the matter “uncovered” by the NYTimes is not given much attention at all in national political debates that are happening right now).

Yes, new power plants cost money. The fact of the matter is, when we build new power plants, they are going to cost money. When we expand the grid, it is going to cost money. This is true whether we use clean or dirty energy. But the fact is that old power plants and dirty power plants need to be retired. Power plants can’t run forever, and extending them beyond their safe operating life risks major failures that cost the country and perhaps the world in radiation leaks, other pollution, explosions, and even simply and increased number of blackouts and brownouts. All of that costs a lot of money. Fukushima has cost Japan alone billions and billions of dollars (I’ve even seen estimates in the trillions). It has greatly damaged Japan’s economy. And the disaster isn’t even over — they still can’t contain the radiation leaks. As far as coal pollution, it surely costs Germany billions of dollars a year. Coal pollution costs the US approximately $500 billion a year according to a study from Dr. Paul Epstein, Director of Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment at the time of the study (now deceased), and eleven other co-authors.

Renewable energy deployment speeds up the move away from fossil fuels. Germany’s Energiewende is moving the country away from nuclear energy and fossil fuels at a rapid clip. The increase in renewable energy development, very importantly, brings down the wholesale cost of electricity. This makes coal and natural gas power plants even less competitive. The result is threefold: 1) renewable energy deployment speeds up (which further brings down their costs, which continues to make other energy sources less and less competitive), 2) CO2 emissions are eliminated more quickly, and 3) investors in dirty energy power plants who are threatened by this put out propaganda that, unfortunately, outlets like the NYTimes eat up and spew out uncritically.

More coal power plants have been shut down than started up. Despite the common meme that coal use has grown due to the renewable energy transition in Germany, the actual fact is that several gigawatts (GW) of fossil fuel power plants are being shut down in Germany because they simply aren’t competitive with cheap wind and cheap solar. A handful of new coal power plants are planned, but those have been planned for years. And, given that coal is becoming increasingly uncompetitive with clean energy, my guess is that some of those will never get built. Furthermore, at least 20 coal power plants have been shut down in Germany in recent years, despite the simultaneous closing of nuclear power plants. Here’s a map on this progress from March 2013:

coal power plants germany

Germany exported a record amount of electricity in 2012, much of which was surely still from coal power plants (cheaper than natural gas in this region), but that is largely due to factors related to electricity production and costs in other countries.

If Energiewende opponents really cared about the poor… they would cut the electricity bill exemptions provided to big industry. Instead of making poor citizens pay for a portion of big industry’s electricity tab, exemptions provided to numerous companies and industries should be cut. Already, it has actually been questioned whether or not these exemptions are even legal according to EU law, since they disproportionately favor German companies. And the political reality is that the only reason these industries and companies pay less for electricity than poor citizens is because they have money, power, and influence — which has allowed them to rig electricity legislation. There is certainly not going to be a mass exodus of industry if they are forced to pay their fare share, bringing down the price of electricity for small business and individuals.

Merkel was forced to go full steam into Energiewende because of public demand. The NYTimes paints Angela Merkel as a big supporter of renewable energy. In a country where the vast majority demands a shift away from coal and nuclear power, yes, every major politician is forced to “support” renewable energy. However, providing electricity bill cuts to big industry and then advancing the socially destructive messaging that “Energiewende is costing the poor,” what her team has actually quite cleverly done is oppose faster renewable energy growth in a very sneaky, roundabout way — one that is politically acceptable to those who don’t actually understand the situation in Germany. Merkel originally tried to move away from a strong renewable energy transition and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, but in the aftermath of Fukushima, she was forced to drop that and “go all in” due to public opposition to nuclear (and, of course, fossil fuels). Nonetheless, she and her team are not the strongest supporters of renewable energy and are actually a notable force behind the propaganda the NYTimes has picked up and destructively spread to many uninformed Americans.

Intermittency of renewable energy is very much not a concern. It is a talking point that has had far too much time in the sun. I’m not going to go into detail on that here, since we have done so many times and this piece spends thousands of words on that.

Energiewende problem? There is actually one notable problem with Energiewende that needs to be changed, in my opinion. The NYTimes journalists briefly touch on it, but then swerve off the road. Basically, Big Industry is granted major cuts in its electricity bills, shifting the cost of electricity to common citizens and small businesses very unfairly (as I mentioned briefly further up the page). These exemptions should be cut, but big companies continue to actually push for more financial help despite not needing it. If the exemptions are cut, we will see that Big Industry was indeed bluffing and will continue to do business in Germany. As Craig writes, “Companies everywhere complain incessantly about government policies. The private sector constantly puts pressure on politicians to make countries more ‘business-friendly.’ In reality, power prices for German industry are increasingly competitive. And most of the [companies] complaining are not only almost entirely exempt from the renewables surcharge (2,276 in total, not the 700 claimed by the New York Times), but also from grid fees. Don’t worry about German industry; Germany has a major trade surplus (even larger than the US trade deficit), and firms are not leaving the country.”

Other than this exemption issue, however, Energiewende is actually doing very well. It has dramatically cut the cost of solar power in Germany and the world over. It has led to clean energy that makes Germany’s air and water cleaner, gives Germans the satisfaction of being one of the few society’s doing what needs to be done to address global warming, and boosts local economies across the country. Germans like Energiewende. Here are three charts from an article about this that I wrote earlier this year (linked above):

90% of survey respondents said that Energiewende is “Very Important” or “Important” (I dare you to find that level of support for anything else):

Germans think Energiewende is important / good

51–61% of respondents said that renewable energy growth was “Too Slow,” while another 30-33% said it was “Just Right:”

renewable energy transition german poll

59% of respondents said that Energiewende has more advantages for industry in Germany than disadvantages, an only 15% said it had more disadvantages:

renewable energy more advantages for industry in germany

And note that the survey referenced was done by not an energy association that is not a pro-renewable energy lobbying group… “on the contrary, the BDEW is the ‘respectable’ lobbying organisation of the conventional energy industry,” as Thomas noted.

How do you turn the public against itself? The fact of the matter is, the public has shown tremendous support for democratized, distributed renewable energy for years. This more egalitarian system has grown much faster than almost anyone realized it would. It now threatens monopolistic utilities and dirty energy companies. If your job is to represent them, you must find very innovative ways to turn the public against itself, to turn the public against a clean and democratically owned electricity grid. One of the last hopes for the now struggling monopolies and their representatives is obviously to make it seem as if renewable energy is making the price of life go up and is putting a major hurt on the population, especially the poor and middle class. German politicians and dirty energy leaders have been playing this chord for over a year now, and it seems to be (incorrectly) sinking in with some ill-informed parties, such as members of the US mass media.

Unfortunately, that’s a testament to how strained and incapable mass media journalists now are. It’d be nice if the NYTimes journalists I’m responding to had learned a bit more about the topic they were covering before confusing who knows how many Americans and global citizens. This is important shit (very important shit), and such counterproductive propaganda is the last thing we need.

I’ll just close with one last point: anyone in the media business should know that a lot of BS gets thrown around during politics season (which Germany is currently in) and it’s worth talking with true experts to get the story underneath all of that. Don’t turn misleading arguments into long arguments that hurt the public. And feel free to give me a call next time you’re covering clean energy — I’m sure I’m on your good side now. ;)





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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

    “Electricity is twice as expensive in Germany as it is in France.”

    You need to compare the wholesale price of electricity between countries. Retail prices are not comparable due to taxes and fees added at the retail level.

    I can’t find a comparison of wholesale prices at the moment, but look down a couple of comments and you’ll see a graph of German wholesale electricity prices. They’re under 4 euro cents per kWh.

    The French government recently released information that their production cost of electricity from their nuclear plants was EUR 59.8/MWh or 6 euro cents per kWh.

    http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2014/05/27/france-s-state-auditor-says-edf-s-nuclear-costs-are-increasing

    German electricity at 4c is cheaper than France’s nuclear electricity at 6c.

    The coal industry is trying to claim that German’s clean energy transformation has failed, but it’s a pack of lies. Germany’s cost of industrial electricity has been dropping and is now less than the EU27 average. Germany’s economy is doing well.

    • Patrick

      Please explain why wholesale prices are more relevant than retail prices. Taxes are after all required. Please explain why France was able to decarbonize at a rate amost 400% faster than Germany has been able to with renewables.

      • Bob_Wallace

        European countries have long put non-utility related taxes on electricity and vehicle fuel as a way to encourage efficiency. A large portion of German taxes on retail electricity have nothing to do with electricity but go into the general government funds. Another hunk goes to subsidizing renewables, something that we do in the US through other revenue streams, not retail electricity prices.

        IIRC, France greatly subsidized its nuclear program, and apparently still is. With a production cost of around $0.09/kWh from reactors there must be some taxpayer money being used to keep the price of French electricity down close to Germany’s. And Germany is producing electricity for less cost than is France. The wholesale price tells you the cost of production. Retail prices are not comparable because countries use different taxing systems.
        http://www.renewablesinternational.net/overview-of-monthly-wholesale-prices-in-2014/150/537/80142/
        France was able to decarbonize quickly simply because they used massive amounts of government money to build their nuclear reactors.
        France was highly dependent on Mideastern oil and OPEC was jerking the world around. France had no option but to build alternatives to oil quickly. And, at that time, nuclear was an affordable option. That was decades before wind and solar became very much cheaper than nuclear.

        Germany could decarbonize as quickly or even quicker if they were willing to use as much governmental money as France did. In fact, much faster. Renewables install many times faster than nuclear can be built and brought on line.

        In fact, if we were willing, we could decarbonize the world in 20 years. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030/

        • Patrick

          Germany is currently picking the low hanging fruit. As wind and solar start to contribute a greater percentage of the total than their capacity factors expect costs to soar. The real costs are going to come when they break 40 or 50 percent renewables and have to start adding massive energy storage, backup generation and excess generation capacity costs.

          German electricity is expensive due to policies that force utilities to buy up wind and solar energy and then are forced to sell it at low prices to avoid crashing the grid.

          The study you cite has been debunked here:
          http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/11/03/wws-2030-critique/

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s strange thinking.

            Over time the cost of wind and solar will almost certainly continue to fall. The solar industry expects the cost of solar panels to fall 50% over then next 3-4 years, for example.

            Germany will already have backup generation in place. They will put some of their fossil fuel plants on standby, mothball some, and close the rest. Plus Europe is turning into one large grid which means that variability will be greatly smoothed by power sharing.

            Storage will be needed, but likely as renewables get above 70%, even 80%. And it looks like storage will be cheaper than firing up gas peakers. We’re already seeing batteries forcing gas peakers off duty in the US. Plus Germany is working on ways to turn renewable electricity into liquid fuels for deep backup.

            Now, your link. Did you even read it? And, if so, did you consider what they are saying or are you here to spread FUD? Let me grab out a couple of examples…

            ” wind has a building material footprint over 10 times larger than that of nuclear, on energy parity basis.”

            So what? The cost of wind is 3x less than nuclear, regardless of how much material is used. Furthermore, when the wind turbines are worn out the materials can be recycled and used to make new wind turbines. The materials in a nuclear reactor have to sit in place for 60 to 80 years before they can be moved to a hazardous waste dump.

            “Further, Peter Lang has shown that
            wind, once operating, offsets 20 times LESS carbon per unit energy than nuclear power , when a standard natural gas backup for wind is properly considered. ”

            Again, so what? The lifetime carbon footprint is what counts, not a cherry-picked period of the lifespan. The carbon footprint of wind is lower than that of nuclear. (Both are very much lower than fossil fuels and either are acceptable based on lifetime carbon footprint.)

            Additionally, nuclear requires backup and/or storage to make it work on line. There’s no way to run a grid with nothing but nuclear reactors. Something has to provide load following and something has to jump in when a reactor suddenly goes offline without warning.

            Furthermore, no one suggests running a 100% wind or 100% solar grid. This is some of the dishonest bull that pro-nuclear and pro-fossil fuel people try to pull. We will build our renewable grids with a variety of inputs. And the dispatchable fill-in we need will come largely from storage, hydro and biofuel.

            Brave New Climate is a dishonest, POS site. Charles Barton is a dishonest nuclear advocate. If you aren’t aware of it you are now informed.

          • Patrick

            I am not enough of an expert to question certain scientific details, but I can state my basic concerns as well as some basic facts.

            -Germany has not made any progress reducing CO2 emissions in over 20 years. The share of nuclear+renewables was 36 percent in 1999 and it will be 38 percent in 2022.

            -per capita CO2 emissions in Germany: 9.9 tons. France: 5.5 tons.

            -Germany will reach France’s current level of decarbonization, which it acheived in 20 years with nuclear power, after 2050.

            -how do you get reliable year round power from renewables? You have to either add energy storage, excess generating capacity ala the super grid, and/or gas or coal fired backup. Any option is expensive and/or keeps us dependent on fossil fuel-fired backup generation.

            -some parts of the world are without sun or wind for up to two months at a time in a worst case. Even a sunny climate can have a few days in a row with no sun or wind. This means you need a backup generator when energy storage isn’t sufficient. Advances in energy storage might make it feasible to go without a gas generator in sunny climates, but not in northern/cloudy climates where there might be no sun or wind for 5-15 percent of the year. It isn’t feasible to build enough energy storage to get you through these periods, which means you have to rely on coal or gas as a backup. Energy storage can get you through a few days, potentially, but not a few weeks. Turning this energy into liquid fuels is going to be hugely inefficient, it’s only 40% efficient if you are using fuel cells. Flow batteries wont be practical for more than a few days.

            -the super grid calls for building at least 2x the needed generating capacity to meet 100% of your power needs, because less than half of all renewable generators will be working at any given time. So, you have to take the cost of solar or wind and double it (at least) if the plan is to use a super grid to address the reliability problem.

            -the concerns with nuclear waste seem to have been greatly overstated. According to studies I’ve seen, the fallout from Fukushima will kill just an insignificant fraction of the people that will be killed by radiation from solar radiation and medical uses; in other words, sunlight and medicine kills more people. Nuclear waste is not a liability, it’s an asset, as it will provide thousands of years of fuel for the next generation of nuclear reactors. In fact building these reactors is the single best option we have for disposing of nuclear waste.

            -the total system levelized cost, according to the DOE for 2020 will be 80 cents per MW for wind and 96 cents per MW for nuclear. But wind has an average capacity factor of 35 whereas nuclear has a capacity factor of 90. Where are you getting that wind is 3x cheaper than nuclear?

            -nuclear plants can provide variable power; how else would France get 80 percent of its electricity that way? Nuclear reactors can be run at say 70 percent of their maximum capacity to provide the needed baseload, and then ramped up as needed.

            -also, I’m not sure why you think CO2 per unit of energy generated is not the relevant metric to use when comparing the CO2 emissions of nuclear and wind energy. If you’re referring to CO2 generated by construction and mining, it’s of course higher for wind than nuclear due to the much great material costs. Right?

            -The Stanford study just doesn’t look credible at all and I’ve seen numerous criticisms of it. For example: http://theenergycollective.com/ed-dodge/301031/critique-100-renewable-energy-new-york-plan

          • Bob_Wallace

            Patrick, I’m going to assume you’re a rational fellow who is interested in learning facts and not someone shilling for nuclear and/or fossil fuels. OK?

            I’m doing that because you’re posting stuff that’s been disproved many times and, frankly, I’m getting tired whacking moles.

            1) “-Germany has not made any progress reducing CO2 emissions in over 20 years”

            Wrong. Graph. Germany CO2 emissions peaked around 1980 and have fallen since.

            2) “per capita CO2 emissions in Germany: 9.9 tons. France: 5.5 tons.”

            Meaningless. Back about 40 years ago France undertook a massive program to get off OPEC oil and installed a lot of nuclear. France did not set out to reduce their GHG emissions, that was a side effect. Nuclear made financial sense at the time (to some extent).

            3) “Germany will reach France’s current level of decarbonization, which it acheived in 20 years with nuclear power, after 2050.”

            Germany plans to be significantly lower than France’s 5.5 tonnes per capita before 2050. Obviously we don’t know if they will or will not achieve that goal. I suspect you’re looking at Germany’s CO2 “pause” following Fukushima and their decision to close nuclear.

            4) “how do you get reliable year round power from renewables? You have to either add energy storage, excess generating capacity ala the super grid, and/or gas or coal fired backup. Any option is expensive and/or keeps us dependent on fossil fuel-fired backup generation.”

            You build a reliable year round renewable grid by using diverse sourcing, using storage, overbuilding. load-shifting, and power trades with adjacent grids.

            That route is cheaper than using either coal or nuclear. And since our NG supply is finite and apparently sort lived, doable whereby a gas-based grid would fail us.

            5) “-some parts of the world are without sun or wind for up to two months at a time in a worst case.”

            Hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, biomass, biomass, HVDC transmission lines from where the wind does blow and the Sun does shine.

            6) “-the super grid calls for building at least 2x the needed generating capacity to meet 100% of your power needs”

            You, or someone, simply made that 2x number up. But, that said, we overbuild generation right now. Are you aware that our NG plants have a CF of less than 30% and coal is less than 60%? (2011 and 2012 averages)

            Between the two, we’ve overbuilt coal and gas about 2x.

            7) “-the concerns with nuclear waste seem to have been greatly overstated.”

            It simply doesn’t matter.

            First, we have no workable solution for the millions of gallons and millions of tons of radioactive waste we’ve created so far. If we had, then we would have implemented and no longer be talking about nuclear waste.

            Second, we have several ways to generate electricity which create no radioactive waste or any similar hazard.

            (cont.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            (cont.)

            8a) “-the total system levelized cost, according to the DOE for 2020 will be 80 cents per MW for wind and 96 cents per MW for nuclear.”

            Those are EIA predictions and they are horseshit. Plus you’ve mis-located the decimal point.

            Wind is already under 5c/kWh, the EIA predicts 8.6c/Wh by 2017. Solar is well under 10c/kWh, the EIA predicts 14-something c/kWh by 2017.

            8b) “But wind has an average capacity factor of 35 whereas nuclear has a capacity factor of 90.”

            CF figures into final cost. It wouldn’t matter if Technology A had a CF of 100 and Technology B had a CF of 1. If B was cheaper then that would be the wise choice.

            (And same holds for energy density. Another coal/nuclear red herring.)

            8c) “Where are you getting that wind is 3x cheaper than nuclear?”

            Wind – $0.04/kWh average 2011 and 2012 PPA

            DOE “2012 Wind Technologies Market Report”

            http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2012_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf

            Wind – $0.021/kWh average 2013 PPA. Unconfirmed number but from a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/The-Price-Gap-Is-Closing-Between-Renewables-and-Natural-Gas

            Solar – $0.05/kWh PPAs being signed in the US Southwest. Working backwards through a LCOE calculation extrapolates a cost of about $0.02 higher for the less sunny Northeast.

            Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/big-solar-now-competing-with-wind-energy-on-costs-75962

            PPA prices for wind and solar are lowered about 1.5 cents by PTC (Production Tax Credits). Both wind and solar are elgible for 2.3 cent/kWh tax credits for each kWh produced during their first ten years of operation. Half of 2.3 is 1.15, but getting ones money early has financial value.

            http://energy.gov/savings/renewable-electricity-production-tax-credit-ptc

            An analysis of the Vogtle reactor costs by Citigroup in early 2014 found the LCOE for electricity from those reactors to cost 11 cents per kWh. That is assuming no further cost/timeline overruns.

            They also stated that reactors build after the Vogtle units would likely produce more expensive electricity as they would not be able to receive as low financing rates as Vogtle has.

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/citigroup-says-the-age-of-renewables-has-begun

            http://www.energypost.eu/age-renewables-begun-solar-power-continues-shoot-cost-curve/

            (cont.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            (cont.)

            9) “-also, I’m not sure why you think CO2 per unit of energy generated is not the relevant metric to use when comparing the CO2 emissions of nuclear and wind energy. If you’re referring to CO2 generated by construction and mining, it’s of course higher for wind than nuclear due to the much great material costs. Right?”

            The meaningful metric is lifetime carbon footprint. Not how much carbon is released in manufacturing or operation or decommissioning, but how much carbon is released in the entire birth to death chain.

            See the graph – read the report.

            http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/sustain_lca_results.html

            10) “-The Stanford study just doesn’t look credible at all and I’ve seen numerous criticisms of it”

            I’ve seen lots of criticism of Jacobson and Delucchi (2009) as well. And I’ve seen none that held water. I spent a long time going through every comment on the Sci Amer page (a couple years ago, haven’t looked at any posted since then).

            I found not a single criticism that rose higher than “I don’t want to believe this!” and “Ain’t true because I declare it ain’t true!”.

            If you have a specific criticism then bring it. I’m not going to go on a snipe hunt reading stuff.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Cleanup –

            ” Energy storage can get you through a few days, potentially, but not a few weeks.”

            I’m going to give you a graph of actual hour to hour wind and solar input for a four year period for the largest wholesale grid in the US. You look at that top line and show me where there are weeks, even days, without wind and solar generation.

            “nuclear plants can provide variable power; how else would France get 80 percent of its electricity that way?”

            Yes, some reactors can apparently ramp down to 10% and back up to 100% in a reasonably short time. But have you considered what that does to the cost of electricity?

            Total annual expenses (including capex and finex) / total annual electricity production = cost of electricity.

            Citigroup’s LCOE for the Vogtle reactors found 11c/kWh (if there are no more cost/timeline overruns).

            Total annual costs / 90% CF = 11c.

            Load follow with that reactor. Run it up to the daily peak and down to the nightly off-peak and it will run ~ half as much.

            Total annual costs / 45% CF = 22c.

            You sell half as many tomatoes out of your field and you have to sell them for twice as much to break even.

            You can load follow with NG because NG has a low capex and installs rapidly giving it a reasonable finex. NG peaker costs are mostly fuel. If you turn off a NG peaker you stop fuel costs.

            Nuclear has about zero variable costs. Fuel is very cheap. Almost all the costs of nuclear are fixed and load-following is simply financial suicide.

            Now, I think I’ve covered your list. At least I attempted to.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And some follow-up….

            I can’t find a graph for German CO2 emissions per capita since 1980. But I did find per capita numbers for 1991 to 2009 and drew you a picture.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

          • Patrick

            In Germany, the share of nuclear+renewables was 36 percent in 1990 and will be 38 percent in 2022. It is misleading of you to say that their co2 peaked in the 80s and has been declining. Maybe, but that wasn’t the result of the energiewende, since it hadn’t started yet. The reduction in the 80s was the result of polluting East German industry shutting down; it had nothing to do with renewables. Since the share of nuclear+renewables has been almost the same since the 90s, we can conclude that the energiewende has not reduced fossil fuel use and has not reduced co2 emissions, they’ve just replaced nuclear with renewables.

            I was being generous when I said you need to build 2x the generating capacity with wind or solar. You say that because NG has a CF of 60 and coal 30 that we have already built 2x our generating capacity for these sources. First of all I don’t know where you get these numbers from, I just checked the DoE figures and coal and gas are both near 90. But it’s a very strange move on you part to argue that because the CFs are low that we had to build 2x the generating capacity in coal and gas. The CFs are lower for wind and solar (35 and 20, respectively), so the overbuild requirements would be that much greater. Your argument here appears to be self defeating.

            I am not sure why you think France’s per capita co2 emissions being half that of Germany’s is meaningless. Why does it matter if they set out to reduce co2 or not? This just goes to my point that nuclear is more efficient than renewables at reducing co2 use. France managed to reduce their per capita levels to half those of Germany’s without even trying to reduce co2 use. Germany has been specifically trying to reduce co2 use and has per capita levels twice those of France.

            Germany plans to get to 80 percent renewables by 2050 which will put them at the level of decarbonization that France has today and which it achieved in 20 years with nuclear power.

            We could burn those tons of radioactive waste as nuclear fuel. It is not true that “if there was a solution it would be implemented by now,” due to political realities. We could safely dispose of the waste by dumping it in the ocean where it would be diluted to normal background levels of radiation. But due to decades of fear mongering, people have an irrational fear of nuclear power. The safety argument is an argument for 40 years ago.

            I’m also concerned about your ad hominem attack against one of the authors I cited. I investigated your claims and found no evidence that the author was dishonest or receiving money from the nuclear industry.

            I’m just a layman trying to figure things out. I have no bias either way. I just have not found the hand waving replies I’ve received from many renewables advocates to be a sufficient response to the concerns I’ve raised here and elsewhere.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” It is misleading of you to say that their co2 peaked in the 80s and has been declining. ”

            Patrick, you made a claim. I presented data that showed your claim false. Let’s not waste time and energy tap dancing.

            Certainly post Fukushima Germany’s addition of renewables to their grid has been offset by the closing of nuclear plants. But that’s a temporary pause. Let’s move on and make better use of our time.

            I got my CF numbers by using EIA annual capacity and production numbers.

            http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_03_01_a.html

            http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_03.html

            You are free to check my math.

            And here are 2009 CF numbers…

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacity_factor

            ” I just checked the DoE figures and coal and gas are both near 90.”

            Please provide the link to support that statement.

            “The CFs are lower for wind and solar (35 and 20, respectively), so the overbuild requirements would be that much greater. Your argument here appears to be self defeating.”

            Apparently you don’t understand what CF measures. With wind, CF is not a measurement of hours of output.

            CF is closely tied to hours of production with solar, but solar produces during hours of high demand.

            “I am not sure why you think France’s per capita co2 emissions being half that of Germany’s is meaningless.”

            I’ve explained that to you twice.

            France has low CO2 emission levels because when they were forced to find an alternative to OPEC oil some 40 years ago they chose nuclear. At that time nuclear was cheaper than renewables.

            France is now preparing to close some of its reactors and replace them with renewables. Even the nuclear nation of France has realized that nuclear is simply too expensive.

            ” This just goes to my point that nuclear is more efficient than renewables at reducing co2 use.”

            Nuclear has about the same lifetime carbon footprint of solar and wind. There is no “best” in this category.

            I gave you that data. Did you not bother looking at it?

            “We could burn those tons of radioactive waste as nuclear fuel.”

            That applies only to used fuel waste which is a tiny percentage of our overall radioactive waste problem.

            And if it were an effective way to get rid of radioactive waste then we would have already burned our problem away.

            “But due to decades of fear mongering, people have an irrational fear of nuclear power. The safety argument is an argument for 40 years ago.”

            Fukushima melted down on 11 March 2011. Just over three years ago, not 40.

            Had things gone just a bit worse (which they almost did) and the winds been blowing toward Tokyo rather than out to sea that disaster would have had a major impact on millions of people. Don’t try to sell any “nuclear is safe” bullshit to people who have a brain.

            And take your ad hominy crap else where. I’ve read Charles’s pro-nuclear stuff for years. He is neither objective nor accurate.

            BTW, I said nothing about him receiving money from the nuclear industry.

          • Patrick

            “Patrick, you made a claim. I presented data that showed your claim false. Let’s not waste time and energy tap dancing.”

            You’re being disingenuous. I said that Germany had failed to reduce its co2 emissions, you replied that they had reduced it in the 80s- well before any renewable energy effort started. So this is a misleading argument. It’s irrelevant that their emissions started dropping in the 80s. What is relevant is whether or not their emissions have reduced as a result of energiewende, which as I pointed out, they have not. The only thing renewables have done thus far is replace nuclear power, another source of co2 free energy.

            “But that’s a temporary pause. Let’s move on and make better use of our time.”

            This is typical of the hand waving exhibiting by RE advocates that I’ve encountered.

            “Please provide the link to support that statement.”

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#US_Department_of_Energy_estimates

            Also: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacity_factor

            Notice that nuclear is 90 in both cases. Gas and coal’s actual capacity factor is going to be lower than their max capacity factor because a lot of it is used to load follow. Wind averages 30 and solar is 20 in Arizona (actual CFs).

            “France has low CO2 emission levels because when they were forced to find an alternative to OPEC oil some 40 years ago they chose nuclear. At that time nuclear was cheaper than renewables.”

            Again, I’m not sure why the motivation for switching to nuclear is at all relevant here. The fact is that France has reduced co2 emissions at a far greater rate- nearly 400% faster than Germany.

            “France is now preparing to close some of its reactors and replace them with renewables. Even the nuclear nation of France has realized that nuclear is simply too expensive.”

            We’ll see. I doubt they will continue shutting down their nuclear plants once their energy bills and co2 emissions start rising. One of the main reason why France is slowing down nuclear is because China is stepping up its program, which is increasing competition.
            http://www.technologyreview.com/news/510046/will-france-give-up-its-role-as-a-nuclear-powerhouse/

            “Nuclear has about the same lifetime carbon footprint of solar and wind. There is no “best” in this category.”

            Not according to this chart, which shows old nuclear reactors (gen II) have a footprint that is slightly more than on shore wind and 1/3rd that of solar PV. Gen III and IV reactors will have an even lower footprint.
            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

            Fukushima was a 40 year old reactor, poorly managed, and hit by one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history. Estimates of the number of cancer deaths that will result shows that more people will get cancer in the same period from exposure to sunlight and radiation used for medical purposes, and far more people will die directly as a result of coal pollution. In other words, sunlight and medicine will kill more people than Fukushima. The fear mongers keep claiming that a disaster that will kill millions is inevitable, but it hasn’t happened in over 50 years of us using nuclear power. In fact by MW generated, nuclear energy is the safest form of energy available. By MW, more people have died by falling off roofs installing solar panels than have died directly as a result of nuclear power. Millions of people HAVE been killed by coal, though. And if we don’t do anything to stop global warming, that number will reach the billions. I guess I have a different set of priorities than you do. I think even IF the fear mongers were right (which they aren’t), a million deaths from radiation is preferable to a billion deaths from drought, famine, and war resulting from GW.

            “And if it were an effective way to get rid of radioactive waste then we would have already burned our problem away.”

            This is just lousy reasoning. By that same logic, since wind and solar energy are so great, they would already be supplying us with all of our power by now.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s what you wrote, Patrick –

            “Germany has not reduced its emissions at all, they’ve just replaced nuclear with renewables which results in no net reduction of emissions. They’ve made basically no progress on this front for the past twenty years.”

            That is a false claim. I’ve given you two graphs showing Germany’s emission reductions.

            Your Wiki CF link is not data. It’s the CF that is typically used when calculating LCOE. The assumption is that the plant will be used to its full capacity. Clearly we are not using coal and NG to their full capacity.

            I gave you the links to actual production numbers and capacity on line.

            Again, the lifetime carbon footprint of wind, solar and nuclear are roughly the same. None is a better route to reducing CO2 based on CO2 footprint alone.

            And the NREL is a pretty impressive study.

            “”And if it were an effective way to get rid of radioactive waste then we would have already burned our problem away.”

            This is just lou sy reasoning. By that same logic, since wind and solar energy are so great, they would already be supplying us with all of our power by now.”

            Oh, come on Patrick. Are you now starting to show your true colors?

            You know damn well that the price of wind and solar only recently dropped significantly. There’s not been enough time for them to capture majority market share.

            But that appears to be happening as coal use is dropping and nuclear fading away.

          • Patrick

            “That is a false claim. I’ve given you two graphs showing Germany’s emission reductions.”

            You can keep repeating this all you like. Nuclear plus renewables was 36 percent in 1999 and will be 38 percent in 2020. No progress for 20 years. Any reduction in emissions that occurred in the 80s was not the result of energiewende because it hadn’t started yet. Any reduction in emissions during the past 20 years is due to the closing of industry and increased efficiency measures. Where else could the emissions reduction have possibly come from if the total share of carbon free energy (nuclear plus renewables) has remained flat for 20 years?

            “Your Wiki CF link is not data. It’s the CF that is typically used when calculating LCOE. The assumption is that the plant will be used to its full capacity. Clearly we are not using coal and NG to their full capacity.”

            You must have missed the second link I posted which shows actual CFs. This is a bit of a red herring though- the point is that the overbuild requirements for a super grid are huge. 2x is generous. And since it’s cheaper to just build 1x solar/wind and 1x coal/gas as backup, it makes almost no sense at all to build 2x solar/wind.

            “Again, the lifetime carbon footprint of wind, solar and nuclear are roughly the same. None is a better route to reducing CO2 based on CO2 footprint alone.”

            Doubtful. I provided a link showing solar PV to be about three times more carbon intensive than nuclear. But the point I keep trying to make is that nuclear reduces CO2 far *faster* than renewables, because the rates of deployment are so much faster- 4x faster than Germany in the case of France. This makes nuclear a more effective means of reducing co2 emissions. You can’t just look at lifetime carbon emissions, you have to also look at how quickly these things can be deployed.

            “You know damn well that the price of wind and solar only recently dropped significantly. There’s not been enough time for them to capture majority market share.”

            By that same token, you should know that Gen III and IV reactors which cannot melt down and which burn waste as fuel have only recently become available. There’s not been enough time for these reactors to replace the old gen II reactors. You are giving wind and solar a free pass because they “haven’t had enough time to capture majority market share,” but you dismiss nuclear due to safety concerns with existing reactors that are obviated by modern safety measures and reactor designs. In other words, you claim that given just a little more time wind and solar will reach majority market share. But likewise, given just a little more time the concerns with nuclear would be solved with new technology and safety measures which we are already capable of implementing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good luck with your GenX nuclear dreams, Patrick.

            If a nuclear plant ever gets built that competes in price with renewables then we might build some more. But that’s about as likely as finding a source for unicorn farts to run gas turbines.

            In the meantime, you keep looking for data you can cherry-pick to support your beliefs. And have a nice day.

          • Patrick

            We are building more nuclear plants. The US is, China is, the world is.

            -60 reactors under construction in 13 countries
            -currently nuclear supplies 13.5% of the world’s electricity. The only other co2 free source that matches this is hydro.
            -nuclear capacity is expected to continue to increase from 393 GW to 630 GW by 2030.

            I’d love it if renewables could power the country. But you just can’t get around the pesky fact that they depend on the weather. It’s not feasible to add enough energy storage or add enough extra generating capacity to get you through periods of no sun/no wind that last for any longer than a couple days. In other words RE fails you when you need it the most, in the dead of winter. This would *ensure* the deaths of millions. That is the Achilles heel of all RE proposals and this concern is most often hand waved away.

            So we have the guaranteed death of millions from grid failure in the dead of winter, or we could go with advanced nuclear which can’t melt down due of the laws of nature. We also have the guaranteed deaths of billions from global warming if we fail to reduce emissions fast enough, and renewables can’t reduce emissions fast enough.

            I want to point out that it’s not fair to compare the price of renewables to nuclear, coal, gas or any baseload form of energy. You’re comparing apples to oranges. In order to make a fair comparison you have to add in the cost of what it takes to get renewables to act like baseload power. This means the fair comparison is not nuclear vs renewables, but nuclear vs renewables + energy storage + excess capacity. Baseload can act like variable power with not much effort, but getting power that is inherently variable to act like baseload is tricky. I maintain that when these costs are included, nuclear comes out the clear winner in terms of cost.

            I guess we will see in another ten years. By then the failure of the RE transition will be undeniable. Thankfully we could still transition to nuclear power quickly enough to avoid catastrophic GW even if we waited another 10 years to start.

            You have a nice day as well, no sarcasm intended.

          • Bob_Wallace

            60 reactors. Whee!

            That sounds impressive until one looks at the other side of the coin.

            Japan has just closed 54. Some may come back on line but public resistance is growing.

            Germany has just closed/is closing 17.

            The US has closed/announced 5 closures.

            Exelon is likely closing 3 this year and possibly 6.

            Belgium will close 3 reactors by 2015 and 4 more by 2025.

            The Philippines is converted 1 reactor to natural gas.

            Switzerland will close 1 reactor in 2019 and their other 4 by 2035.

            That’s 97 reactors closing. Even if Japan brings a few back on line and you discount closures past 2025 the number of reactors worldwide looks to be sagging.

            (This may be a few months of out date.)

            “I’d love it if renewables could power the country. But you just can’t get around the pesky fact that they depend on the weather.”

            Your knowledge pool is shallow. Go to the 100% Renewable link on the upper right side of the page and spend some time reading.

            “I want to point out that it’s not fair to compare the price of renewables to nuclear, coal, gas or any baseload form of energy. You’re comparing apples to oranges. In order to make a fair comparison you have to add in the cost of what it takes to get renewables to act like baseload power.”

            Fair enough.

            New nuclear costs 11+ cents/kWh. And needs at least 10% of some sort of backup in order to furnish 24/365 ‘baseload’ power. That 11+c includes subsidies, so the price is actually higher.

            New wind, without subsidies, is no more than 5.5c/kWh. Possibly now down to 4.6c/kWh. The wind blows a lot of the 24/365 hours. Especially when wind farms are connected over a large grid area. We could likely get 40% or more of our electricity directly from wind. (No storage.)

            New solar, without subsidies, is now around 8c/kWh. Before any ‘yet to be started’ nuclear plants could come on line solar is likely to be 4c/kWh or less. Solar produces when demand is the highest so we could probably get 30% of our electricity directly from solar. (No storage.)

            Storage prices are hard to nail down but pump-up hydro seems to cost around 5c/kWh. For the 30% of the time that the wind is not blowing and the Sun not shining we could store a mix of 5.5c wind and 8 cent solar 11.75/kWh.

            So 40% @ 5.5c + 30% @ 8c + 30% @ 12c = 7.65c/kWh.

            7.65 < 11.

            And, do notice how I put my thumb heavily on nuclear's side of the scale in order to be more than fair to your side of the discussion.

            I used 11c for nuclear, didn't include the "+" and left nuclear its subsidies unaccounted.

            I used the 2011 and 2012 prices for wind, not the lower 2013 prices (which have yet to be confirmed).

            I used today's price for solar, not the likely price that will be in place long before a yet to be started reactor could come on line.

            I rounded stored wind/solar up to 12c.

            I accounted for 100%, 24/365 wind and solar. I gave nuclear a pass on the 10% time it needs backup. And for the spinning backup that grids have to use in order to rapidly adjust to unexpected reactor shutdowns.

            Too low a price for storage, you claim? OK, I"ll play your game.

            Make storage costs 10c/kWh (that's the cost of zinc-air batteries) and baseline wind/solar/storage comes in at 9c/kWh.

            9 < 11.

            Now, let me ask you a question.

            Why do you so strongly hold on to a belief in nuclear when facts don't support your position?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me give you some world nuclear information in the event you don’t know the history of nuclear.

            First is a graph of reactors in operation per year.

            You’ll notice that the world’s solar boom ended in 1989. There was a small increase (~5%) in total reactors but that peaked in 2002 and has been falling since then.

            Second is a graph of nuclear’s ‘market share’.

            Nuclear maxed out in 1993 with a 17% share. Since then nuclear has sagged to 11% or less.

            And I’ll throw in a third graph for free.

            This is a comparison of production (not nameplate) wind and nuclear in China (nuclear’s ‘great hope’ country). China has made more electricity from wind than nuclear for the last couple of years.

          • Patrick

            -60 are currently being built, a reasonable estimate for how many will be built over the next decade is 180. Even counting reactor closures, this will represent a far greater contribution to reducing co2 emissions than renewables will achieve during the same period. I think this is enough said.

            -Japan is a mountainous island country with no build-able land remaining. How are they going to get anything more than an insignificant fraction of their energy from renewables? Build some massive power undersea power cables to china? Yeah, right. They are going to turn their nuclear reactors back on, probably half or more, and then build new ones with new safety features once they realize their only other option is coal.

            -so if hydropower, geothermal and biomass are capable of providing us with the baseload power we need when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing for more than a couple days in a row, why don’t we just use hydropower, geothermal and biomass to meet all of our energy needs? No advantage is gained by adding solar or wind to the system; it just increases unreliability and cost. Those who advocate for a super grid using solar and wind with geothermal and hydro as “backup” might as well be advocating for a 100% geothermal/hydro/biomass system. Just run these sources at around 70 percent of their max capacity or whatever to provide baseload and then ramp up as needed.

            So 40% @ 5.5c + 30% @ 8c + 30% @ 12c = 7.65c/kWh.

            You need to plan for 5-15 percent of the entire year having no sun and no wind, to be completely reliable. Otherwise one bad weather year kills millions. So one needs to figure out how much excess generating capacity is needed to generate this much stored energy and how much that would cost, then add the cost of the energy storage. Are we really going to run the entire country on massive pumped hydro batteries for more than a couple days? I mean essentially what you are saying is that hydropower using manmade reservoirs will provide us with 100% of our needed power for 5-15 percent of the year (up to two months in row). Sorry if this just sounds completely unbelievable, the water requirements alone would seem to immediately rule this out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            180 is wishful thinking. We’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. Personally, I think over the next five years essentially all governments will realize how inexpensive wind and solar (and soon storage) have become and further nuclear projects will be canceled.

            You are poorly informed about Japan’s solar, offshore wind and geothermal potential.

            We’ll use more solar and wind simply because they are cheapest. Geothermal doesn’t show hope of falling to 5c at this point. Solar and wind are at or on the way to being lower than 5c. Storage costs are expected to fall rapidly. I gave you the formula for calculating the cost of a wind/solar/storage mix. Go back through those numbers with wind at 3c, solar at 3c, and storage at 5c. That will tell you why wind and solar will likely dominate.

            “You need to plan for 5-15 percent of the entire year having no sun and no wind”

            I gave you that plan. It’s called storage. And dispatchable generation which can be biomass, biogas, or even a small amount of natural gas.

            “Otherwise one bad weather year kills millions.”

            You seem to be losing touch with reality. Show us data for long periods of zero wind and solar input across the entire nation. We’re working toward the ability to move power from one coast to the other.

          • Patrick

            if we were to go the pumped hydro route we would need thousands of facilities larger than the Hoover Dam:

            http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oh, please. Not some of Tom’s crappy work. He gives a terrible name to a wonderful institution.

            Tom sets up “must fail” scenarios in his advocacy for nuclear.

            We’re not going to build massive dams in order to create pump-up. We have thousands of existing dams which can be converted along with hundreds, if not thousands, abandoned rock quarries, open pit and sub-surface mines.

            We’d do excavated reservoir closed loop storage before we’d dam up mountain ravines.

            But thing is, we’ll likely go with battery storage as it’s quicker to bring on line and much easier to site. It looks like prices will permit that.

          • Patrick

            Can you point to a specific flaw in Murphy’s analysis? Building smaller facilities does not change the volume of water required, and that volume is ridiculous. Have you given any consideration to just how much water would be required to meet 100% of the nation’s power needs for the necessary 15 or so days where the entire country might be without significant sun/wind? You have to plan for the longest possible stretch of no sun and no wind, so 5-10 percent- or nearly 15-30 days of energy is what you need. We are facing water shortages in large parts of the country and this will only get worse in the coming decades. I want the pumped hydro idea to work, I really do, but the water requirement renders it completely unrealistic. This is no better than the massive wind/solar towers concept. I really liked that idea too until I saw the water requirement. http://www.solarwindenergytower.com.

            Batteries would work better but I still don’t see how they are going to provide 100% of needed power for anything more than a couple days. I don’t see how it will ever be feasible even with significant advances in battery tech to build enough battery storage to power the entire nation for 15 days, or even a week for that matter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What is the longest stretch of no Sun and no wind for either the Eastern grid, the Western grid or ERCOT? Put some data on the table.

          • Patrick

            A posted a reply to this, but disqus seems to be having problems.

          • Patrick

            -60 are currently being built, a reasonable estimate for how many will be built over the next decade is 180. Even counting reactor closures, this will represent a far greater contribution to reducing co2 emissions than renewables will achieve during the same period. I think this is enough said.

            -Japan is a mountainous island country with no build-able land remaining. How are they going to get anything more than an insignificant fraction of their energy from renewables? Build some massive power undersea power cables to china? Yeah, right. They are going to turn their nuclear reactors back on, probably half or more, and then build new ones with new safety features once they realize their only other option is coal.

            -so if hydropower, geothermal and biomass are capable of providing us with the baseload power we need when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing for more than a couple days in a row, why don’t we just use hydropower, geothermal and biomass to meet all of our energy needs? No advantage is gained by adding solar or wind to the system; it just increases unreliability and cost. Those who advocate for a super grid using solar and wind with geothermal and hydro as “backup” might as well be advocating for a 100% geothermal/hydro/biomass system. Just run these sources at around 70 percent of their max capacity or whatever to provide baseload and then ramp up as needed.

            So 40% @ 5.5c + 30% @ 8c + 30% @ 12c = 7.65c/kWh.

            You need to plan for 5-15 percent of the entire year having no sun and no wind, to be completely reliable. Otherwise one bad weather year kills millions. So one needs to figure out how much excess generating capacity is needed to generate this much stored energy and how much that would cost, then add the cost of the energy storage. Are we really going to run the entire country on massive pumped hydro batteries for more than a couple days? I mean essentially what you are saying is that hydropower using manmade reservoirs will provide us with 100% of our needed power for 5-15 percent of the year (up to two months in row). Sorry if this just sounds completely unbelievable, the water requirements alone would seem to immediately rule this out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Already posted and you got your reply.

          • Patrick

            I’m not seeing it. Disqus appears to be having problems, or my computer is. I’m also unable to edit my comment for typos. Oh well.

          • Patrick

            According to one study, wind and solar now harvest enough energy in their lifetimes to pay for a whole 2-3 days of energy storage! This sounds great until you realize that you need at least one weeks’ worth to ensure year-round stability for the entire continent. This means, yes, that you need to add one MW of gas/coal for every MW of solar/wind just to meet 2-3% of your annual power needs (one week). So we aren’t even at the point yet where solar/wind can produce enough energy in their lifetimes to both pay for themselves and maintenance costs and pay for the necessary energy storage. Note that this is a pro solar article:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wind-and-solar-harvest-enough-energy-now-to-pay-back-manufacture-plus-add-storage

            We can conclude from this that the cost of wind/solar needs to come down 300% to fuel it’s own expansion plus the necessary amount of storage.

            It’s well know by anyone currently going off-grid with solar/wind that you need to have a gas generator to cover you for part of the year. Even in Arizona you could go up to a week with no sun/wind. In northern climates it’s even more, it can be up to two months no sun/wind. So you are probably going to need more than a week’s worth of storage for the entire continent. Variability could be smoothed out with spreading lots of solar/wind generators over a large area, but this entails building *at least* 1x solar and 1x wind. The actual multiple needed to meet 100% of demand for a week with little/no sun/wind might be 4x even 8x. It’s far more efficient to just do 1x solar/wind and 1x coal/gas, which is what Germany is basically doing.

            Quote:
            “Two of the plots given in EDM 1 (Elliston, Diesendorf and MacGill, 2012), set out the contributions that might be combined to meet daily demand over about 8 days in 2010, in summer and winter. In my first discussion of the proposal it seemed to me that when these contributions were added the total capacity needed would be much more than the paper stated. The total amount of plant required to supply an average 31 GW was stated as 75.5 GW of peak capacity. (In his response to Peter Lang, Mark Diesendorf said their total requirement is 84.9 GW.) However in EDM 2 (Elliston, Diesendorf and MacGill, 2013a) the total has been significantly raised, to 104 GW. (The proposal from Hart and Jacobson 2011, for 100% renewable supply in California, also involves a large multiple of average demand, greater than four, and in the proposal by Budischak , et al. 2013 for California it is around 8.) Unfortunately this is one of the crucial numbers and claims in the proposal which it is not possible to assess because the derivation and the necessary background data on weather patterns are not provided.”

            This is from bravenewclimate but the sources cited are pro renewables studies. You probably know better than I do that the kind of data you’re asking for is very hard to come by. That’s why I’ve looked at pro-renewables studies to see how much energy storage is required according to the pro-renewables side. If anything, one week is lowballing it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “This sounds great until you realize that you need at least one weeks’ worth to ensure year-round stability for the entire continent.”

            Bring the data.

            We go no further until you prove your claim of an extreme storage need.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And let me remind you that I asked you for similar data a couple of days ago and you failed to produce any.

            “What is the longest stretch of no Sun and no wind for either the Eastern grid, the Western grid or ERCOT? Put some data on the table.”

          • Patrick

            I provided evidence which you dismissed as pro nuclear propaganda, so why should I expect you to respond any differently to any new data which I might present? To avoid this response I posted a study which was pro renewables and which said that we need 8 days of energy storage, but you ignored it. I don’t know what other other evidence could convince you if a pro renewables study isn’t going to do it.

            Just coming up with raw data of this sort is pretty hard. But it should be pointed out that averages of month to month solar/wind variation are not appropriate when determining energy storage requirements; you have to plan for the *worst case* NOT the average.

            The super grid is a fantasy. Weather systems are ~1500 miles in diameter so the super grid would need to be bigger than that to be of much use. The super grid all has to be built at once, or else you need to build the required coal/gas backup as you go, which ensures continued fossil fuel use.

            Building the super grid all at once would dwarf the largest engineering projects we’ve ever attempted by orders of magnitude. Let’s just assume that we could build out this enormous grid all at once though. You have to multiply the cost of wind/solar energy by the amount of required excess generating capacity. Even lowballing it at 2x, this results in wind/solar plus storage being more expensive than advanced nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’ve repeatedly made a claim that I wish you to support.

          • Patrick

            The data you asked for was already supplied in one of the links I posted.

            Quote:
            “Trainer (2013a) examined Australian Bureau of Meteorology data for 8 recent years to estimate the big gap events in Direct Normal Radiation (DNI) across 6 good sites spread around the eastern half of the Australian continent. In three (unusual) months late in 2010 there were 12 (non overlapping) periods of 3 or more days, one of 8 days in a row, totalling 48 days, in which average DNI at the selected sites averaged 2.3 kWh/m2/day”

            That’s 12 periods needing more than 3 days of energy storage and one period needing more than 8 days. Before you criticize the source, this is just reporting the raw data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. I then posted a pro renewables study which confirms that wind can pay for 3 days of energy storage and solar 2 days.

            I’m not sure how fruitful further discussion can be at this point; maybe it would be better if we just both moved on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll be kind and give you an “i” for incomplete.

            You found a few incidences in which there was little sunshine for up to 8 days.

            We’re looking for times at which both wind and solar would let us down and cause us to need your claim of “100% of our needed power for 5-15 percent of the year (up to two months in row)”

            Or something to meet my request –

            “What is the longest stretch of no Sun and no wind for either the Eastern grid, the Western grid or ERCOT? Put some data on the table.”

            All you brought us is data for low solar. For as long as 8 days which is 2.2% of the year. The wind could have been blowing like stink.

            Now would you like to take another stab at finding data to back your claim? Or would you like to withdraw that claim?

            We can’t have a rational discussion if our assumptions are unreasonable.

          • Patrick

            We need to be clear what we are talking about, renewables in general, or the super grid. If it’s the first then my statement applies. All you need is to look at weather data for the Pacific Northwest or the Midwest, the can have periods longer than a month with little or no sun/wind. So you need either enough energy storage to get through a month or more (not practical) or you will be dependent on gas or coal to get through the gaps. Even in a sunny climate should plan for at least five days no sun/wind.

            If we are talking about the super grid (and ignoring my earlier argument that it will probably not happen since development will occur piecemeal and thus the necessary gas generation will be added as we go), then I don’t have the data you’re looking for. But, I will point out that building storage for 8 days is not much better when solar or wind energy can provide no more than 2 or 3 days or energy at current technology.

            You might say we will just use wind energy during that time when there is no sun for 8 days. However, that implies building 2x the needed generating capacity- 1x wind, 1x solar, since you can’t add energy storage for more than 2-3 days. Since you need to build 200% the capacity needed to meet your power needs this effectively doubles the cost of wind/solar. It’s also very likely that aggregate wind input during the referenced periods of little/no solar input was also very low, according to the same study. 2x is assuming that when you don’t have any sun that 100% of the wind generators will be working and vice versa, which is being more than generous to the renewables side.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re talking about your failure to back up your claim that we needed the ability to store 100% of our daily demand for very long periods of time.

            Well, one of us is talking about that while the other is tap-dancing and throwing shiny objects, trying to avoid admitting that they might have been wrong.

            Now, I’ll let you in on a little something. I live in the PNW and I’ve lived in the Midwest. Your weather claim is bullshit.

            You found an incident in Australia when there was little sunshine for eight days. You didn’t bring data that says there was no wind available at that time. So don’t try building off a half fact and start talking about how many days of storage we need. You simply do not have a clue.

            We already have supergrids in the US. We have three separate grids that cover the continent. The Western Grid connects supply and demand from Western Canada all the way into Mexico, from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains. The Eastern Coast connects everything east of the Rocky Mountain to the Atlantic Coast from Canada to the tip of Florida, with the exception of Texas. Texas has an almost stand-alone grid – ERCOT. The Texas grid is now marginally connected to the Eastern Grid.

            Work is underway to tie all three US grids together. And work is underway to strengthen the existing grids. For example a HVDC transmission line is being built from Wyoming south to where it will connect to both the Intermountain Intertie and the Pacific Intertie. That will bring Wyoming wind (which happens to pick up during the Pacific Coast late afternoon – serving as an excellent supply for evening peak) and it will link the Intermountain and Pacific HVDC lines to make a more robust grid.

            Now, do you want to play games or do you want to discuss facts?

          • Patrick

            No, what’s going on here is you are using one data point as a red herring to avoid discussing or responding to any of my other concerns. You’re just grasping at straws here.

            Since I don’t have access to the original study, I’m going to assume that the link that references it is accurate. That link says that it is JUST as likely that there was NO wind during the referenced period(s). There is NO REASON to assume that the wind will always be blowing when the sun isn’t shining. A low pressure weather system means cloudy and calm. There you go.

            “Now, I’ll let you in on a little something. I live in the PNW and I’ve lived in the Midwest. Your weather claim is bullshit.”

            Haha, thanks for the concrete data point there. I’ve spoken to several individuals who have gone off grid using solar and wind. One in Wisconsin has to use a generator for weeks in a row.

            “Work is underway to tie all three US grids together”

            Good luck getting HVDC cables across the Rockies. Development will occur piecemeal. Piecemeal development means gas added as we go. Gas added as we go means no 100% renewables super grid. It all has to built at once and since that isn’t going to happen it is a fantasy. I guess we will just decommission all those gas plants once we link up the grids. What a paragon of efficiency.

            I think we are just talking in circles now.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Patrick, you have made claims which you cannot support and which I do not accept.

            If you wish to discuss the amount of storage that would be needed to run a renewable grid then you need reliable data on which to base your estimations.

            I think I gave you this link, but in case I didn’t let me post it…
            https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit
            In this study the authors took four years of minute by minute demand from the largest wholesale grid in the US. And they took hourly wind and solar data from NOAA for the same four years.

            They then asked the question of whether it would be possible to power a grid with nothing but wind, solar and storage and what the least expensive mix would look like.

            I’m pretty sure I gave you the time graph and asked you to find those extended periods with zero wind and solar inputs. I think you decided to ignore that request.

            If you read the paper I think you might get a better understanding of what a 100% (99.9%) grid will look like. Remember, they omitted hydro, geothermal, biomass, biogas, load-shifting and power sharing with adjacent grids. All those things lower the need for storage.

          • Patrick

            From the abstract:

            “We find that the least cost solutions yield seemingly-excessive generation capacity- at times, almost three times the electricity needed to meet electrical load.”

            I’ve been saying you need at least 2x, but this study shows you need 3x! Notice they throw the word “seemingly” in there to make this seem like no big deal. So take the cost of wind/solar energy, multiply by 3, add the cost of energy storage and all the grid upgrades and HVDC cables and backup generation that would be needed and you have the real cost of solar/wind baseload energy. Nuclear is less expensive even if you omit storage, transmission, and backup costs. How does this prove anything other than that an all renewables grid is inefficient?

            “At 2030 technology costs…we find that the system…can be powered entirely with renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s.”

            So this is based on speculation about future technology costs? They’re assuming that costs will fall by about HALF, and saying that then it would be comparable to today’s costs. Well, that isn’t fair, because nuclear technology is also advancing and if we had another 20 years of strong support and funding for nuclear, and if we didn’t have so much legal wrangling over reactor construction we could probably bring nuclear costs down by HALF as well. Which brings us right back to the same gap that currently exists between alternative energy and nuclear/coal/gas.

            This study shows 99.9 percent of hours, with fossil fuel backup needed on five occasions over 4 years. In the concluding remarks they say that less than half of our current fossil generation would need to be maintained as backup(!). That’s still horribly inefficient.

            Not looking good so far… I’ll keep reading though.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” Remember, they omitted hydro, geothermal, biomass, biogas, load-shifting and power sharing with adjacent grids. All those things lower the need for storage.”

            Prices have fallen faster than Budischak et al. anticipated.
            I gave you the paper link so that you could look at some actual wind/solar availability data. Could we please finish that topic before spinning off to something else?

          • Patrick

            They modeled 28 billion combinations of renewables and storage. These were tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands.

            That’s not good at all. 28 billion models is good, four years of weather data is not sufficient. What about the extreme event that happens every 10, 20, 50, 100 years? It looks like they don’t give any consideration for this. You have to plan for this because it’s the extreme event that will kill millions if you aren’t prepared.

            You’ve given me quite the project. I have evidence in the form of papers and authorities which I’ve quoted which support my claims. Coming up with the raw data is a bit harder, and as I said I’m just a layperson trying to figure things out. It’s confusing because there are experts on both sides saying contradictory things. I’ve started researching blocking highs- weather systems that remain in place for several days or even weeks. I’ll report back once I find something.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Patrick. You’re a nuclear “true believer” who looks for the tiniest difficulty for non-nuclear solutions and glosses over nuclear’s significant problems.

            What happens to nuclear reactors when temperatures soar in a 100 year heat wave and adequate cooling water isn’t available?

          • Patrick

            I’m not a true believer in anything. I was all gung-ho about renewables until recently after reading some of the information coming from the other side, which I think you have been too quick to dismiss.

            Reactors have to be shut down when enough adequate cooling water isn’t available. But many new reactor designs use molten salts instead of water, which solves the problem.

            So far you have not convinced me that my concerns are unfounded.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Can you show me a reactor that uses molten salt for cooling?

          • Patrick

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-Salt_Reactor_Experiment

            The experiment was a huge success; the reactor achieved all objectives.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s an air cooled reactor. The molten salt was simply the medium to move heat to the radiators.

            Air cooling is a potential solution to lack of cooling water. But it’s more expensive, requires larger cooling towers (more community resistance) and are noisy (more community resistance).

          • Patrick

            But with a MSR you have inherently less need for cooling since the fuel is added to the molten salt mixture which has a much higher boiling point. I don’t think you would need large cooling towers. Not for the small modular reactors that the Japanese are working on.

            Any remaining community resistance could be mitigated by locating reactors in remote areas where few people would see them.

            You should look at the work being done by Hitachi, Toshiba, and others. Once again the Japanese are going to perfect and mass produce a technology that was invented and brought to the proof of concept stage by the Americans.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s all speculation.

            If someone produces a reactor that generates competitive priced electricity then nuclear might get back into the game.

            Best we don’t get into speculation land. (At least, let me say that it doesn’t interest me.)

            There’s a company out there that claims they are bringing a 10c/watt solar panel to market. If that happened it would drastically drop the price of solar. And there are companies claiming that they can fly generators high in the sky and cut the cost of wind energy significantly.

            But that’s “may or may not happen” stuff.

          • Patrick

            According to the DoE, solar is still more expensive than new nuclear for those plants that are coming online by 2020. Wind is cheaper but this is offset by the lower CF. I think I provided that link earlier?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me remind you that you have:

            a) not furnished data to back your claim of very long periods of time in which wind and solar are in very short supply, or

            b) admitted that you have no basis for making that claim and withdrawn it.


            Yes, you posted that link. And I showed you that the EIA numbers are badly incorrect. I used real world DOE numbers to back up what I said.

          • Patrick

            A) yes

            B) no

            Since there are definitely other bases for making a claim other than hard data

            Your argument here amounts to an appeal to ignorance.

          • Patrick

            I don’t recall you showing that the eia numbers were incorrect. I saw you throw some numbers out. In other forums I’ve seen less than 8c/kW for new nuclear which is around what the EIA estimates. The EIA is part of the DoE so I don’t know where you are going with your criticisms of the EIA numbers.

            I would like to point out at this point that my claim regarding storage was just part of a dilemma. You seem to not understand how dilemmas work. It’s “A or B”, “if A then C”, “if B then C”, therefore, “C.”

            The dilemma is that an all renewables super grid either needs enough storage to meet the longest stretch of cloudy/calm days’ power needs, or you need at least 3x the excess capacity to meet your power needs, in order to get reliable power year round. Either option is expensive and complicated.

            You’ve been focusing on this one fork of the dilemma which is strange. Even if you show that one fork is false, the conclusion goes through.

            I showed that you can have more than 8 days with no sun, to which you replied “but the wind might have been blowing hard.” But this just proves the second fork of the dilemma, the need for excess generating capacity.

          • Patrick

            Can you show me that a renewables super grid would be capable of getting us through the worst case weather scenario?

            I would be convinced that a renewables super grid could work (ignoring the problems with piecemeal development which I mentioned) if you could show me the following:

            -what is the longest stretch of no sun/no wind covering most of the US in US history? This determines the amount of storage you need.

            -if the amount of storage needed is more than 2-3 days, the it can’t work since solar/wind can’t pay for more than 2-3 days of storage as per the article I linked to earlier. If the amount of storage needed is less than 3 days then I will concede the entire argument and accept that a renewables grid could deliver reliable power.

            However, the following concerns would still remain

            -cost of super grid (not just wind/solar energy) vs cost of nuclear
            -rate of renewables deployment vs rate of nuclear deployment (historically nuclear has deployed 4x faster)
            -problems with piecemeal development of the super grid. Many of the needed upgrades don’t make sense from a regional perspective so you would need a strong national energy policy which we don’t have. You would also need a huge amount of up front investment to make it work. Otherwise grid upgrades will be done piecemeal which will result in the needed gas generation being added as we go. So by the time the benefits of the super grid can be realized, we will already have a lot of natural gas backup and we won’t decommission these because it won’t make business sense to do so.

  • falstaff77

    What a ridiculously arrogant bunch of nonsense from Zachary Shahan One source after another is yet another green advocate. Germany’s electric bills have sky rocketed, and no, it is not up to the author to judge what is or is not acceptable.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Here’s what has happened to the wholesale price of electricity in Germany.

      If the price has sky rocketed then someone pointed the sky rocket downward.

      • falstaff77

        But then the average Schmidt does not pay “wholesale”. And take a look a bit further back in time.

        Title: Electricity price for households
        Subtitle: Average electricity prices for a three-person household in ct / kWh
        Components of each bar: Production, transportation, sales tax concession fee EEG surcharge * CHP surcharge §19 levy offshore liability apportionment flow control

        Reference: BDEW statistics

        Industrial prices from the Economist, 2000-2012

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germans retail customers pay a lot of taxes along with their electricity. A big hunk has nothing to do with electricity, it’s just general fund taxes collected in that fashion. A lot of European countries have tacked taxes onto electricity and fuel in order to encourage efficiency.

          Plus the cost for getting renewables off the ground is all put on retail customers. Industry gets a free ride. In the US we collect taxes mainly from income and corporate taxes and use that money to subsidize energy. In Germany they get that money along with the monthly electricity bill.

          Your Economist link didn’t open for me. But according to the European Commission German industrial electricity prices peaked in 2009 and have fallen each year since. Germany industry pays less per kWh than the EU27 average.
          http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&language=en&pcode=ten00114
          I’ll give you a breakdown of German retail electricity costs –

          In 2013 the average household electricity rate is about 29 € cents / kWh according to the BDEW (Energy industry association).

          The composition:

          8.0 cent – Power Generation & Sales

          6.5 cent – Grid Service Surcharge

          5.3 cent – Renewable Energy Surcharge

          0.7 cent – Other Surcharges (CHP-Promotion, Offshore liability,…)

          In addition there are some taxes & fees that go straight into the governments budget:

          2.1 cent – EcoTax (federal government)

          1.8 cent – Concession fees (local governments)

          4.6 cent – Value added tax (19% on all of the above) – (federal, state & local governments)

          So 8 + 6.5 or 14.5 euro cents go to electricity purchase and delivery. About 19 US cents. That’s higher than the US 12.5 cent average, but less than a penny higher than New York and Connecticut. Less than Hawaii and Alaska.

  • TooExpensive002

    Thank you for the rebuttal of the slanted NY Times article.

    Here is how EVERY state can be powered ENTIRELY by Renewable Energy:

    www dot thesolutionsproject dot org

    And of course here is why nuclear energy is NOT an option==>

    www dot enenews dot com

  • CaptD

    These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America – Business Insider

    http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

  • Fate

    Talk about biased miss reporting.

    Here I’ll stick to one verifiable point. North Eastern Germany is producing much of the Wind and Solar. Has Poland and Czechoslovakia building large switches to block the export of free electricity from Germany.

    In the vernacular Germany is Dumping electricity on them. So much so it is causing problems with their grid and industry.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-energy-expert-argues-against-subsidies-for-solar-power-a-866996.html
    This is the wonderful success of the renewable energy Germany is exporting.

    PS

    German electricity caused more CO2 emissions in 2012 than 2011.

    Why?
    They are shutting down NG plants as they are so much more expensive than coal and re opening old and new coal plants.
    Here is a three part article in Spiegel online
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

    • Bob_Wallace

      There was a report on unmarried females? Huh. I missed that one.

      Someone has fed you a pile of poo. (I’d hate to think you were intentionally posting false stuff.)

      To get you on track let me paste something in….

      “Apparently the “surge” problem is not due to Germany pushing excess renewable generation on to its neighbors’ grids, but what problems there are result from market forces. Money, not wind.

      “Poland and the Czech Republic charge that surges in renewable power are becoming uncontrollable, but the researchers could not confirm these findings.

      On page 76, they note that loop flows with Poland exceeding 2.5 gigawatts only occurred in 2011, when wind power production was between four and eight gigawatts. And “significant loop flows of up to 2,000 megawatts” occurred when wind power production was “virtually negligible.”

      So what is the problem? The researchers found that prices are high when production is also great. The way the market is designed, power might then be imported from neighboring countries (such as Denmark) if import prices are lower. This power then hits a congested part of the grid and is rerouted along a path of lower resistance. This outcome is not infrequent but also not directly related to surges in wind or solar power production as charged.

      Once again, price – not technical capacity – is the culprit. A number of Eastern European countries had even proposed that Germany and Austria, which currently share a power trading platform, be split – a demand that the researchers take as a clear indication that the market’s design, not surges in renewable power, is causing loop flows.”

      This is from a very interesting multi-part piece on Germany’s role in Europe’s electricity system. The quoted bit above is from the third part.

      http://energytransition.de/2013/02/german-energy-transition-and-its-neighbors-part-1/

      Furthermore, Germany is not reopening old coal plants. A few years back Germany decided to replace their inefficient coal plants with modern, super-critical plants which produce more electricity with less coal and release less CO2. Der Spiegel knows that but they continue to lie about it.

      Germany’s new coal plants have nothing to do with either their renewable program or their decision to close nuclear. Work was started on those plants before either the renewable or nuclear decisions were made.

      Those new coal plants will be somewhat able to load follow which will allow them to burn even less coal and work better with renewables.

      Germany is still on track to become CO2 neutral by 2050.

  • Allan Theobald

    Well readers Bob W has posted breaking news that the big issues of climate science are settled and well understood. An amazing statement since the earth hasn’t warmed for the past 15 years and the science has never been so uncertain. Bob you are left wing zealot, a pleasant one, but a zealot all the same. Ideology rather than science or common sense motivate your positions. First you claim the NYT is lying, then it’s Reuters, and finally its Forbes while you and the other green zealots have special access to the truth. I post statements directly from the German Government Officials discussing their concerns about the high cost of green energy and how it’s hurting the German Economy and you still claim otherwise. Bob the majority of Americans disagree with you on these issues and even the Democrats in power like Jerry Brown. You can’t get much greener than Jerry but yet he is pursing a strategy that heavily relies on fracking because it creates jobs and is good for the economy. The global warming scare is over and no amount of talk is going to get a majority in congress to follow Europe’s lead and purposely damage our economy. You need to find a new cause because this one is over and for now cheap oil/NG have won. Eventually fossil fuels will need to be replaced but not for many many decades. Following right on the heels of fracking are methane hydrates which will probably add another 50 years. You see Bob for me and most of America it’s not about ideology. I’m for the best most economical solution that will grow the economy and provide jobs for the middle class. America desperately needs good high paying jobs for people without college degrees and a return of our manufacturing base. So yes I’m for responsible use of fossil fuels because they are nature’s gift from the ancient sun and the wonder of photosynthesis .

  • Allan Theobald

    Bob I’m just waiting to hear about how Forbes like the NYT is biased and has everything all wrong and this is all necessary to save the world from global warming. Be honest isn’t global warming what all this is about in the first place except that now even the IPCC is admitting global warming has been wildly over stated since the temperature haven’t changed in 17 years despite large additional amounts of CO2 production.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Allan, let’s give you some more data and see if you are able to take it in or if you’ve got your winger-shield on full strength.

      Global temperatures are affected by the Sun’s heat which varies over time, in roughly an 11 year cycle. By ENSO cycles – La Ninas and El Ninos. And by the amount of GHG in the atmosphere.

      In 1997/98 we had a very strong El Nino event. IIRC, the strongest ever measured. That drove atmospheric temperatures high for a while and caused the temperature spike that deniers like to use to (falsely) claim that global warming has stopped. In the science world we call that sort of dishonest use of data points “cherry-picking”.

      Let me give you first a graph that shows atmospheric temperatures with ENSO and solar cycle influence removed.

      Then let me give you an atmospheric temperature graph based on decade averages that smooths out the late 1990s El Nino spike.

      Additionally, global temperatures consist of not only atmospheric temperatures but also ocean and earth (ground) temperatures. When one looks at the complete temperature record it is very clear that the planet is heating, has not stopped warming.

      The third graph I will append shows complete temperature data for the planet. It includes the massive amount of heat that we’ve been sticking into the world’s ocean.

      We haven’t had a full El Nino event for a number of years. We’ve been most in La Nino and ENSO neutral territory for a while. Think about what may happen if we get another strong El Nino and all that extra deep ocean heat gets burped up into our atmosphere.

      Can you say “Killer Heat Waves”?

      • Allan Theobald

        As I thought this is all about global warming. I certainly do accept the reality of global warming some natural and some from man but to date no one remotely understands how climate works. Within a few years the answers will be clear. If after another five years the temperatures remain stable then the CO2 theory will be proven false. I for one will choose to wait and see a bit longer before committing economic suicide like Europe sine neither China or India will ever comply. In the meantime Europe’s foolish decisions are nothing but good news for America. Bob the global warming catastrophe meme is over. The next few years will tell and in the meantime we will frack our way to prosperity.

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, Allan, climate scientists very much understand how climate works. There are some details left to be ironed out but the big issues are well settled.

          You again demonstrate your ignorance when you claim that China and India will never do their fair share of reducing GHGs.

          I’m worn out trying to help you learn what you don’t know and finding you simply toss away facts you don’t like. You are making the choice to stay ignorant. It’s time you went elsewhere.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Bahhhhh humbug! I know for a fact there is no global warming because when I jump in the ocean for a swim I still freeze my @ off.

        lol

        • Bob_Wallace

          When I moved from the East Coast and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and jumped into the Pacific in 1970 I realized that the planet had massively cooled.

          And Al Gore shaved off his beard….

  • Allan Theobald

    The insanity of European Green Energy but it’s a free world and the US is the direct beneficiary. We can only hope they continue the policy.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2013/09/19/how-europes-economy-is-being-devastated-by-global-warming-orthodoxy/

  • Bob_Wallace

    This is a good piece on the NYT article. Let me copy in a bit…

    “In Germany, wind energy affects two parts of a consumer’s electric bill, increasing one but decreasing the other. The New York Times and other articles have only focused on increases in a small component of German electric bills, the renewable energy surcharge, while ignoring how wind energy is drastically driving down costs for the component that makes up a much larger share of the total electric bill, the actual cost of electricity. This is essentially doing a cost-benefit analysis and not
    looking at the benefit side of the ledger book.

    Germany has already seen a 20% drop in wholesale electricity prices over the last year, in large part because wind and solar energy displace more expensive sources of energy.

    ….

    Unfortunately, German electricity customers are only beginning to see these savings
    because of the year or two regulatory lag in updating retail electricity rates to account for changes in wholesale prices. In addition, the renewable costs appear larger than they are because Germany does not charge large industries the renewable surcharge, forcing smaller customers to bear nearly all of this cost
    while German industry receives the cost-reducing benefits of renewable energy without bearing the costs.

    The New York Times article’s discussion of carbon emission trends in Germany falls into the same error of only taking a small snapshot of time, but is even more misleading. The New York Times focuses on the fact that carbon emissions ticked up slightly in 2011, with the context strongly implying that renewables were somehow to blame for that increase.

    Of course, 2011 was the year in which Germany abruptly shut down a significant share of its nuclear generating fleet following the events at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.

    ….

    Wind energy’s benefits for consumers and the environment are even larger
    in the U.S., where wind resources are typically 50% more productive than those in Germany. The U.S. wind energy fleet is currently reducing carbon emissions by nearly 100 million tons per year, the equivalent of taking 17.5 million cars off the road.”

    suggested reading…

    http://www.evwind.es/2013/09/21/wind-power-benefits-consumers-and-environment-in-germany-and-u-s/36094

    • Allan Theobald

      Why do you think Germany does this? Is it random? So you are so far left that you are now claiming that the green loving NYT is not presenting green energy in the right way because they have the audacity to tell the truth. Let me guess you think the NYT review of the Tesla was unfair because the review actually expected the car to serve his needs and not the other way around.

      “Germany does not charge large industries the renewable surcharge, forcing smaller customers to bear nearly all of this cost
      while German industry receives the cost-reducing benefits of renewable energy without bearing the costs.”

      Bob the green energy movement is over for now. Fracking has changed all the rules in a big way that is unbelievable good for the average American. Some day fusion will come and maybe even other green energy but you and I will be long gone before it happens because cheap NG is going to fuel the world for decades to come.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Broder got caught out lying in his Tesla drive.

        Had he reported that he did not follow the agreed upon route but deviated and drove extra miles as well as failed to fully recharge and ran out of power that would have been honest reporting.

        But adding miles and failing to fully recharge without reporting makes his a liar.

        Allan, you think you know a lot but obviously you don’t. You do not have even a small clue about how rapidly renewable energy is growing and how the growth rate will accelerate over the coming years.

        Your loss.

        • Ivor O’Connor

          I’m surprised you put up with Allan.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Allan seems like a reasonably intelligent guy. At least more intelligent than the usual knuckle-dragging trolls we get.

            I keep hoping that he’ll have an epiphany when presented with facts that disprove some of his beliefs. You’d think that a successful business person, as he claims to be, would be able to look at the bottom line and realize that things are not what he or she believed.

            However after watching Allan make numerous erroneous claims, be handed data that proves his claims false, and then engage in denial I’m thinking I was overly hopeful.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I’m starting to click on people’s names to view their postings across the net. I did this with Allan to see his history…

    • Allan Theobald

      Hey Bob Forbes did us the favor of publishing a big article on these exact issues this morning. All of the issues we have discussed are covered in detail. Only the green zealots are under the illusion that renewables are remotely cost effective. This has been obvious to business for a long time but the green activists in Europe have been able to coerce the countries into this self defeating plan. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you think Forbes is a source for facts that explains why you are so very wrong so much of the time.

        • Allan Theobald

          So the NYT and Forbes tell lies but you are the purveyor of the real truth. I love your post that climate science is understood. Could you please share this information with the rest of the world so that we can understand why the world’s temperatures have remained flat for 17 years in the face of rising CO2 levels.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Yes. The NYT and Forbes lies.

            I broke it down for you in a past post. You though ignored it and continue to troll.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Increases in electricity cost 2005 to 2010

    30 states with the lease amount of wind on their grids = 26.74%
    20 states with the largest amount of wind on their grids = 15.72%
    10 states with the largest amount of wind on their grids = 10.94%

    http://www.evwind.es/2013/09/21/wind-power-benefits-consumers-and-environment-in-germany-and-u-s/36094

  • Bob_Wallace

    From a very interesting article talking about the problems with the NYT article…

    “In the U.S., wind turbine costs have fallen by around 1/3 over the last several years,
    due to improvements in wind turbine technology and the fact that a
    majority of wind components are now manufactured in the United States.
    As a result, utilities and their state regulators are finding that
    investments in wind lower costs for their customers.

    At least 74 U.S. utilities bought or owned wind power in 2012, up 50%
    from a year ago. Southern Company recently made its third wind energy
    purchase, explaining that wind energy reduces its customers’ electric bills. Similarly, Oklahoma Gas and Electric estimates that a single wind project will save Arkansas customers $46 million. In July, Xcel Energy announced
    that a single wind purchase will save its customers $590 million in
    fuel costs, noting that “We are making these acquisitions purely on
    economics and the savings we can deliver to our customers.”

    Synapse Energy Economics recently released a report
    that indicates doubling the use of wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic and
    Great Lakes states beyond existing standards would save consumers a net
    $6.9 billion per year, after accounting for the cost of wind and
    transmission. The study found that this amount of wind would reduce the
    region’s carbon dioxide emissions by 14%, or 50 million tons per year.
    Similarly, the New England grid operator calculated
    that obtaining 20% of the region’s electricity from wind would reduce
    electricity prices by more than 10%, while also reducing carbon dioxide
    emission by 25%.”

    http://www.evwind.es/2013/09/21/wind-power-benefits-consumers-and-environment-in-germany-and-u-s/36094

  • Paul Nelson

    For Germany to meet its “remewables” target, five sets of electrical generation infrastructure are required, four of them new:
    Wind; Solar, Storage, Remote Transmission: All new at multi-trillions of investment.
    and
    Traditional: Fossil. Must be maintained at current level for decades to come, awaiting viable grid-scale multi-day power storage technology.
    On a clear, windless December 21st in Germany, Solar generates for 3 hours per day, and Wind generates 0 hours per day. What is the German economy to do? Shut down early for Christmas?
    This is so fundamental that it doesn’t even require back-of-the-envelope calculation.
    Slow motion economic suicide is unfolding in Germany.

    • Bob_Wallace

      On those rare days Germany turn to the energy it stored or it buys hydro from another country. Or it buys solar or wind from another country. There are many sources for power when the entire continent along with Iceland and parts of North Africa are tied together in one big grid.

      • Allan Theobald

        Yes one big very expensive grid. Thank you Europe for following such a foolish policy. As an American Businessman I hope thy keep doing more of the same.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Because Europe will be able to move significant amounts of electricity from place to place efficiently they will enjoy less expensive electricity.
          Do you have problems understanding rather simple concepts?

          Think about it. What if each country had to install enough storage and backup to cover all the times when supply exceeded supply rather than being able to share resources?

    • Allan Theobald

      Paul for these guys it’s about what this wish the world would be. Meanwhile in the real world the very cost of energy is causing Germany to lose jobs to the US. I wonder if Bob has ever been to Germany in the winter? So the end results is that Germany has/will end up spending huge sums of money on meaningless green energy to be paid for by ever higher taxes and then some will lose their jobs when the next plant is built in the low energy cost US. As I have said before thank you German Government for sending us your jobs.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Meanwhile in the real world the very cost of energy is causing Germany to lose jobs to the US.”

        Where do we find that data Allan?

        And where are the solar price numbers I asked you to provide to back up your claim?

        If you want to discuss energy here then be ready to back up claims.

    • A Real Libertarian

      Ah, no for the transition Germany must just build one: renewable energy.

      For the traditional Germany must build four :Black coal, Brown coal, Natural Gas, Transmission.

      As you pointed out four must be more expensive then one so clearly the only way to avoid economic suicide is to build more renewable energy.

      • Allan Theobald
        • A Real Libertarian

          Ah, yeah so?
          Scream about how the price of power is too high to get subsidies and benefit from the low power prices at the same time.
          You know how the game is played.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Your link claims –

          “German industrials are concerned they will lose a competitive edge against U.S. rivals where a boom in unconventional shale gas production has led to a sharp drop in industrial energy costs, the country’s industry lobby group BDI said on Thursday.

          German energy costs, by contrast, are rising as its
          government has decided to exit nuclear power generation, invest billions of euros into expanding the renewable generation sector while largely relying on imports to meet its natural gas demand.”

          Let’s review the cost of industrial electricity in Germany

          2009… 0.0974 Euros/kWh
          2010… 0.0921
          2011… 0.0900
          2012… 0.0895
          2013… 0.0860

          In 2012 the average industrial electricity price in the EU27 was 0.0954. Germany’s price was 6% below the regional average.

          http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&language=en&pcode=ten00114

          Now, how about natural gas imports?

          “Overall, German gas demand continued to drop in the first quarter, however, and volumes imported into the country decreased year on year over the period – by 16.8%, to 873,489TJ, down from 1,049,667TJ in the same period one year ago.”

          http://www.icis.com/heren/articles/2013/05/17/9670059/gas/esgm/german-natural-gas-import-prices-below-ncg-day-ahead-in-march.html

          According to Index Mundi Germany’s NG imports peaked in 2009 and have been falling since.

          http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=de&product=gas&graph=imports

          Now, how about your source?

          “A managing editor at Reuters has been accused of being a global warming skeptic and not running articles on the topic.

          Global warming coverage fell 50 percent after Reuters hired Paul Ingrassia as deputy editor, Media Matters reports.

          The issue came to light after former Reuters climate correspondent David Fogarty wrote about it on an insider blog. Fogarty said Ingrassia told him personally
          he was “skeptical” of global warming, and that after he became deputy editor, “getting any climate change-themed story published got harder.”

          Fogarty charged Ingrassia with putting personal politics above scientific truth.”

          http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/30/reuters-editor-attacked-by-media-for-climate-skepticism/#ixzz2fYwtMODq

          • Allan Theobald

            Bob you are just a propagandist. My source as you well know was the German Government Officials and German Business Leaders themselves. But I’m sure you know more about there cost than they do. The price of NG in Germany is like 3x the cost in the US. Everyone knows this. NG is so inexpensive now in the US that’s it’s practically free. The oil companies were burning it rather than bothering to store it because the price was so low. Get away from the digital world and go out and see how things really work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Allan, you continue to post crap.

            I
            gave you the actual cost of electricity in Germany. The Reuters
            article and the statements by the Germans they published are simply
            wrong.

            Have you never encountered business people who lie?

            As for NG prices. They are no longer as cheap as they were. NG prices are off their bottom because we’ve largely used up the glut and they’ve now about doubled. If you check the futures market you will see that people in the business expect prices to be higher in the future.

            Wind is now cheaper than NG. Solar will be soon.

            Both wind and solar are cheaper than NG gas in Germany. Even you should realize that. It’s why Germany is cutting their electricity costs.

    • Grad

      This is how grid in future Germany will look like:

      https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=256.0;attach=3953;image

      (translations: Stromnutzung: demand of electricity, -erzeugung: generation, KWK: cogeneration of heat and power, GUD: gas and steam turbine, P2G: power to gas, Wärme Sp.: Heat storage)

      http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/studie-100-erneuerbare-energien-in-deutschland.pdf (in German)

  • Allan Theobald

    Dave 2020 you should not get into this topic if you don’t know the facts. The NHS most certainly does not offer routine screening colonoscopies to everyone over 50. Here is the treatment algorithm. The NHS is on the verge of collapse, has all non-wealthy people on long waiting lists for complex procedure, and severely limits patients from the most advanced therapy. Everyone is covered with basic care and it’s great as long as you don’t need something that is not immediately life threatening.

    http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/bowel/screening-pathway.pdf

    So here is the NHS’s own treatment algorithm. No routine screening colonoscopies because the yield is low and the cost is high. That is the basis of socialized medicine. But you can be damn well sure every important socialist has gone to the private clinic at age 50 and had their screening colonoscopy.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Allan, you are starting to lose your credibility. When you change your argument when proved wrong, you lose.

      Now it’s very clear that you were wrong about your health care claim. Let’s get back on topic.

      • Allan Theobald

        Bob all of my statements are correct. Wind and solar overall continue to be more expensive than fossil fuels. This is an indisputable fact that is supported by the real world decisions of business. Without gov’t subsidies there would be virtually no market for either wind or solar and even with gov’t subsidies together they account for a tiny amount of energy production. I live in San diego and even here it makes absolutely no financial sense to put up solar panels even with big tax rebates. I’ve carefully down the math multiple times and the cost savings doesn’t come for many years if at all. So if it can’t work here is certainly can’t work in most of the US. It’s sort of like claiming that buying a Tesla saves energy. In time that may change but this is now. As for the NHS nonsense I am again correct and I posted the NHS’s own treatment algorithm. It is an ironic truth in healthcare that preventive medicine is rarely cost effective. It can be life saving for the individual but almost never cost effective across a large population. This true for colonoscopies, mammograms and almost everything else. Even stopping smoking while common sense doesn’t save money for the US Government.

        • A Real Libertarian

          “I’ve carefully down the math multiple times and the cost savings doesn’t come for many years”

          Wow, you don’t get the payoff until later? That’s really stupid. In fact we need a new word to describe something that stupid! Oh, i know let’s call it “investment”.

          • Allan Theobald

            No it’s called a poor return for your money because the payoff may never come. When things make economic sense they occur on their own. When gov’t decides to push a policy that doesn’t make economic sense they subsidize it.

          • A Real Libertarian

            You mean like when the government subsidizes the useless eaters by paying for the elderly’s healthcare instead of euthanizing them?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Allan, you’re letting your winger self show through.

            I suspect you won’t be long with us.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I do not believe
          that all of your statements are correct, Allan. We’ve seen that your
          claim about “socialized medicine” and what it pays for is not correct.

          We’ve also seen that you try to weasel out when someone points out your error.

          “I live in San diego and even here it makes absolutely no financial
          sense to put up solar panels even with big tax rebates. I’ve carefully
          down the math multiple times and the cost savings doesn’t come for many
          years if at all.”

          The
          average cost for residential solar in the US is $4.81. After the 30%
          federal subsidy it is $3.37. Based on system size and other factors you
          could be elgible for additional state rebates.

          The Reader says –

          “SDG&E often has the highest rates by a wide margin. For example, in
          the first quarter of this year, the cost for 1000 kilowatt-hours at San
          Diego Gas was $272.02.”

          http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/apr/24/citylights1-electric-rates/#ixzz2fYheiBAM

          That’s 27c/kWh.

          OK, leaving the state rebate out of the picture for now, let’s run some numbers and see if you’re correct.

          I’m
          going to use 6% interest, 20 year financing. (You can get 100%, no
          money down FHA solar financing for 5% to 7%, depending on your credit
          rating.) 5.5 average solar hours or 23% capacity. And I’m plugging all that into the NREL LCOE calculator.

          What do I discover?

          The LCOE, the price, for solar over that 20 year period would be 14.6 cents per kWh.

          The average price of grid electricity, assuming 3% inflation, would be 35.2 cents per kWh.

          And, remember, that doesn’t even include the state rebate.

          And
          here’s another fun fact. After the 20 year pay off period you should
          expect at least another 20 years of free electricity. At most you might
          have to replace the inverter after 25, 30 years. Over 40 years you’re going to pay well under 10 cents per kWh.

          And
          one more fun fact. If I take out the 30% federal rebate and pay full
          cost for the system the cost of electricity jumps to 20.8 cents per
          kWh. Still well under the 35.2 cent cost of purchasing grid power.

          Is 35.2 smaller than 14.6? Are were you wrong Allan?

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Wind and solar overall continue to be more expensive than fossil fuels.
          This is an indisputable fact that is supported by the real world
          decisions of business.”

          That is incorrect Allan.

          If you are comparing electricity from a paid off coal plant to new wind and solar which are still paying their capex and financing costs then you would be correct. (You also have to ignore the external costs of coal.)

          If you compare new to new or paid off to paid off both wind and solar are cheaper than coal in both comparisons.

          In the real world utilities are buying wind and solar because the certainty of a fixed 20, 30 price works better for them than the variable price of NG.

          Additionally, solar is cheaper than gas peaker power. Considerably cheaper.

          • Allan Theobald

            So if someone else pays for it it’s cheaper. Bob that means it’s more expensive. but of course everyone but you already knows that which is why so few people use this form of energy. The same is true for electric cars. Yes they too are cheaper if someone else pays for the car and the electricity is given away free. But even with big tax breaks and some free electricity still the sales of EV are tiny. Why is that? Are most people stupid consumers not to realize the greatness of EV. Maybe just maybe it’s because they cost more and provide less performance(range) to the consumer. This is how the real world works. Bob what kind of work do you do? Have you ever run a business, made a payroll, or dealt directly with government regulation? Costs matter and they matter a lot. If you can’t make revenue targets then people lose their jobs. I’ve businesses in the hundreds of millions and now a smaller private business and I can tell you it’s not easy and no business is going to purposely pay more for energy than they have to.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Allan – I demonstrated to you that solar in San Diego was cheaper than grid electricity even without subsidies.

            I’m getting fed up with your dishonesty.

            EVs are emerging technology. New technology is almost always expensive and drops in price over time. The first handheld calculators cost hundreds of dollars. The first flat screen TVs cost thousands.

            A 2013 Nissan LEAF is only $4,600 more than a Toyota Prius. I’d bet that within three years it will be cheaper. Those are non-taxpayer assisted numbers. MSRP. The LEAF has already dropped several thousand dollar since introduction, largely due to opening manufacturing in the US.

            Yes, Allan, I do have business experience. I started and ran three successful businesses. I not only paid the bills, I did all the accounting, made payroll and paid the taxes. I not only dealt with government regulations, I helped write some and rewrite some that were flawed.

            ” I can tell you it’s not easy and no business is going to purposely pay more for energy than they have to.”

            They will if the decision makers are too stupid to understand the math or too right-wing to consider “hippie ideas”.

    • tmac1

      Not sure how wind and solar ended up with screening colonoscopies?

      New England Journal has 2 nice articles and editorial about both the Minnesota Trial ( stool card/ Fecal blood kit trial) and Nurses Health Study /Physicians health study (looking at self reported sigmoid or colonoscope exams).

      Both trials showed a robust decrease in colon cancer mortality. Interestingly overall mortality was not improved which is often the case and raises concerns about the side effects of these interventions (bowel perforation, heart attack during prep etc).

      Bottom line both stool cards and sigmoidoscopes and colonoscopies work to various degrees, but at different cost/benefit ratios

      http://www.nejm.org/

  • Martin Vermeer

    The value €63 in the table looks wrong

  • Wardawg02

    What are you talking about?

    Fact – Germany’s energy costs 2X what it does in the US per kwh.

    Someday solar and wind will make sense. But today is not that day.

    • ThomasGerke

      He is obviously aware of the difference between per unit price & monthly costs / expenditures.

      • Wardawg02

        He might think that he is but not in actuality.

        For example: Sky high electricity prices are why German’s overwhelmingly use inefficient home heating solutions (gas and wood). The metrics he is using do not even begin to consider this and other secondary and tertiary costs and benefits.

        • ThomasGerke

          Well you just try to mask your wrong argument by switching the subject.

          Besides: Improving building efficiency is a significant part of the “Energiewende” and not as “controversial” as transforming the electricity system. (though the oil & gas industry are trying to make it so)

          Thus in Germany every new or refurbished building that still requires any significant amount of heating energy is considered inefficient.

          The word “Passivhaus Standard” isn’t german sounding for no reason, u know. ;-)

          • Wardawg02

            Energy costs for consumers is a huge part of this blog post. As is reducing emissions. When people switch to dirtier heat sources BECAUSE of high energy costs (which distorts the analysis in this blog post) then this is not a change in subject. It is in fact a direct refutation of the core thesis of the post.

            My facts are accurate (cost per MWH is 2X as high as in the USA, people have switched to gas and wood for heat -true and true-) so describe for me how my argument is wrong or how I am switching subjects.

            For what it is worth – I live in a Passivhaus Standard home and require additional heating. And cooling in the hot moths is impossible. In fact the whole complex supplements with wood heating. So much for theory. (I am an ex-pat living in Germany.)

            Polls aside “do you like clean energy y/n” do not impress me as they do the author apparently.

            I remain unimpressed with German energy policy.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Are you looking at energy cost or tax?

      • Wardawg02

        Energy costs holistically. Why would I use any other metric?

        • Bob_Wallace

          What is the holistic price of energy?

          Would you please define and list the components?

          • Wardawg02

            Do you know anything about economics or should I start with defining fixed and variable costs and go from there?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I am aware of fixed and variable operating costs as well as capex and financing costs. But to be honest with you, I find your style off-putting and really wouldn’t be upset if you simply went away.

          • Wardawg02

            Very mature. Are you the author of this piece?

            I live in Germany by the way so I have some basis for my view.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            You really should learn the words you are using before you use them. Look up the term “holistic economics” and you’ll find you are arguing against yourself.

          • Wardawg02

            You imply that I take a position that I do not take.

            But lets define holistic:
            -characterized
            by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected
            and explicable only by reference to the whole.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Zach your doing a great job…even have the trolls posting here now.

    It does amaze me the amount electricity used there per year…In Florida, even with major housing renovations, I still use close to that a month….

  • Allan Theobald

    Oh please Germany keep going down the green path with wind and solar and get the rest of Europe to follow because this will shift hundreds of thousands of energy intensive jobs to America. It is the best free stimulus we could ever have hoped for. Thank you green (expensive) energy.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Silly goose.

      Europe in ahead of the US on the path to cheaper electricity. And they’ll be spending a lot less on health care because they will get coal off their grids and out of their air sooner.

      • Allan Theobald

        Are you serious. Germany is actively building coal fire plants to make up for the intermittent nature of solar and wind energy. Fracking is producing large amounts of cheap energy in the US and the jobs are already moving here. The German Officials are well aware of this problem and are trying to figure out a solution. Overall the healthcare costs from coal are unmeasurable. By the way surely you must be aware that the anti-smoking policy of America though a huge success actually costs more money because the people live longer. Dying relatively young is the most effective way to lower the healthcare costs.

        • A Real Libertarian

          “By the way surely you must be aware that the anti-smoking policy of
          America though a huge success actually costs more money because the
          people live longer. Dying relatively young is the most effective way to
          lower the healthcare costs.”

          There you have it folks, the anti-green mentality in a nutshell.
          “Die young, so you won’t cost your masters money with your useless eating”!

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s the Republican public health care philosophy.

            “If you can’t afford to pay for treatment then crawl off somewhere where we don’t have to look at you and die quietly.”

          • A Real Libertarian

            You know I’ve been trying to figure out a significant difference between Cobra Commander and Reince Priebus for awhile now.

            The only thing I can think of is that Cobra Commander is actually smart, at least in the comic book continuity, something you really can’t say about Conservative Commander.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I didn’t know who Cobra Commander is, so I had to Wiki. Turns out that he originated in 1982 which easily explains why I missed him.

            “The character was created by Marvel Comics writer Larry Hama. Hama envisioned the character as “being in love with the sound of his own voice,” and drew inspiration from famous conservative pundit William F. Buckley.”

            (I’d bet a lot of people who know about Cobra aren’t very aware of Buckley.)

            Republicans seem to have a problem with finding smart people in their ranks. For so long they’ve recruited racists, bigots, religious fundamentalists, anti-science types. I guess that would tend to shallow out your intelligence pool.

            When I was younger (back in the middle of the previous century) there were some intelligent, thoughtful Republicans. Buckley was one, sort of a bore, but well read and intelligent.

            I can’t think of any now….

          • Ivor O’Connor

            There are a lot of smart republicans. And democrats. People though as a whole do not have the time to examine their lives and beliefs usually. So they tend to follow. I’d say over 99% of the people simply follow and either don’t or can’t learn new tricks. So these democrats and republicans can do quite well in the areas where they can follow predefined paths. For example there are many topics in chemistry which are difficult to understand in which you’ll find many republicans and democrats. Not everybody has the time and leisure to study diverse topics and become a Bertrand Russel for instance.

          • Allan Theobald

            No my friend it’s not an mentality but rather a rather ironic fact. I openly stated I was in favor of the anti-smoking policy but that the policy did not save money. The truth is that almost all so called preventive medicine actually cost more than it saves. Take screening colonoscopies. I’ve had two but none of the socialized systems offers them because while they say a few lives the it comes at a huge cost.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Congressional Budget Office finds little difference between lifetime health costs for smokers and non-smokers. Dying early does not save much, if any, money.

            What is not included in that calculation is the value to the economy of lost working years on the part of those who smoke themselves to an early death.

            Medicare pays for colonoscopies. Been there, had mine.

            Obamacare covers colonoscopies.

            Socialized health insurance rules!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why is it that rightwingers so often bring up the topic of colonscopies? It happens over and over.

            Does it have something to do with how they view the world?

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Allan, a word of advice. Before you wander off topic you should do your best to learn about RE. So that you can say intelligent things once you left here. Or do you just want attention?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Well, you’ve sure bought into a bunch of anti-renewable energy myths.

          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 install lots of renewable generation and to 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.

          As for industry moving to the US due to our lower electricity prices – don’t think so. To date no one has been able to identify a single factory that has moved or announced an intention to move.

          One company has planned a move of some of their production to their US plant because they use a lot of natural gas in their manufacturing. Not due to electricity prices.

          Healthcare costs are measurable. You simply don’t want to accept it because that would screw with your belief system.

          Got to watch out for those facts. They can mess up what you’ve been fed.

          That you think it a good thing that people smoke and die younger says a lot….

          • Allan Theobald
          • Bob_Wallace

            A German factory moving to Finland is not an example of a German factory moving to the US.

          • Allan Theobald

            Preventive healthcare saving money is simply not true. I said none of the socialized systems pays for screening colonoscopies which is true. Neither england nor Canada provide this service. As for the job loss the leaders of Germany are indeed concerned.

            http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/merkel-s-switch-to-renewables-rising-energy-prices-endanger-german-industry-a-816669.html

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, I think the best thing you can do for our country is to smoke heavily, get no preventative care, and exit the stage ASAP.

            (Germany provides free colonoscopies. Your “none” is false.)

          • Allan Theobald

            Bob I didn’t mention Germany. They are not offered in either Canada or England. You are wrong and should openly admit your error. Please stop making up statements. I think the anti-smoking program is a good policy but it doesn’t save money.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I admit my error.

            I admit that when I read your claim that “none of the socialized systems offers them (colonoscopies)” I didn’t realize that the word “none” meant Canada and England. I made a terrible mistake assuming your word “none” was the same as the common English word “none” which means “not any”.

            Please forgive my sorry personage.

            I now understand my mistake. By falsely assuming that “none” meant “not any” it led me to point out that, in fact, some “socialized” health care systems do provide free colonscopies.

            Since Medicare, Medical (in some states) and the German health care system would certainly fall into the right wing definition of socialized health care perhaps you can see the basis of my terrible, terrible mistake.

          • Allan Theobald

            Germany by the way is a mixed private/socialized system so it’s different from Canada or England.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Canada uses a mix of private and public/socialized insurance.

            “About 27.6% of Canadians’ health care is paid for through the private sector. This mostly goes towards services not covered or partially covered by Medicare, such as prescription drugs, dentistry and optometry.

            Some 75% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers.[38] There are also large private entities that can buy priority access to medical services in Canada, such as WCB in BC.

            The Canadian system is for the most part publicly funded, yet most of the services are provided by private enterprises.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada#Private_sector

            England’s health care is a mixture of public and private.

            “England has a private sector in health care providing a lesser set of treatments than those obtainable from the NHS[citation needed]. Private health care is sometimes funded by employers through medical insurance
            as part of a benefits package to employees though it is mostly the larger companies that do. Insurers also market policies directly to the public. Most private care is for specialist referrals with most people retaining their NHS GP as point of first contact.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_England#Private-sector_medical_care

            Perhaps we’ve had enough of your foolishness.

            Do you have anything constructive to say about the topic of getting us off fossil fuels so that we can minimize climate change?

          • Allan Theobald

            Once again you prove you don’t understand the systems. Yes Canadians do come to the US but private care is technically illegal in Canada.

            http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/27/nation/na-healthcare-canada27

          • Allan Theobald

            Private care is legal in the UK but what does that have to do with the NHS. The point was that the NHS doesn’t cover colonoscopies. You were wrong so what.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Time to get back on topic Allan.

            I’m not wasting my time in discussion with people who distort facts and twist things to fit their needs.

            This site is about renewable energy and ways to get ourselves off fossil fuels.

          • Allan Theobald

            We are not getting off of fossil fuels any time soon. Fracking is revolutionizing the energy situation around the world. Green energy will come some day but both solar and wind are boondoggles that will never provide but a fraction of the world’s energy needs. Cheap abundant natural gas is the energy of the next 20-30 years and it is revitalizing the US economy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s pretty clear that we’re getting coal off our grids. The last two auctions for coal on federal land didn’t get any serious bids and were canceled.

            Natural gas will stay with us longer. If we tighten down on methane leaks we’ll be better off using a blend of wind, solar and natural gas to replace the coal plants we’re closing.

            Wind is cheaper than NG. Solar is on its way to being cheaper. As NG prices rise their cost curves will cross in the next couple of years. Each year we’ll add wind and solar which will allow us to cut back on NG use.
            If we can get better storage options developed then we’ll see NG start to die away faster.

            I doubt that we’ll use much NG for electricity 20 years from now. NG will most likely be used only for deep backup.

          • Allan Theobald

            You are way off on the impact of NG and the importance of solar and wind. As long as there are cheap abundant relatively clean fossil fuels the green energies will be minor sources of electricity. They are too expensive and too intermittent to be relied upon since energy storage in not currently feasible. Eventually fusion will solve the issue.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I would agree that some day fusion might provide our electricity. However since we don’t know how to make electricity using fusion it’s not something we can count on.

            Wind produced electricity is now cheaper than NG produced electricity. When the wind is blowing NG will be shut down. That’s just a financial fact.

            And, as I stated, we are short years away from solar being cheaper than NG. Were we installing utility scale solar at the price Europe is now achieving (~$1.50/watt) solar would be about the same price as NG. Were we installing utility scale solar at the price China is now achieving (~$1/watt) solar would be cheaper than NG.

            We should be at Europe’s price point in a couple of years. Historically we trail them by 2-3 years and I suspect will lessen the gap since we’re now getting serious.

            It doesn’t matter that wind and solar are “intermittent”. They come to us in great big amounts at very sweet prices. We’ll use them when we’ve got them and fill in the gaps with NG, storage or load-shifting. It’s how the grid works now and has worked for a long time.

            Wind provided 3.5% of US electricity in 2012. We stand a chance of hitting 5% in 2013. Solar is ramping up to hit its first 1%. We’re in the very early days of a transition away from fossil fuels, we aren’t anywhere close to full speed yet.

          • Allan Theobald

            Please provide a reliable source backing up your claim that solar and wind are cheaper than natural gas. Please do not post a bogus article that attempts to measure the long term healthcare costs and other items. Today on an apple to apple basis NG is still far cheaper in total than wind or solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Solar…

            First, I did not say that solar was cheaper than NG. I said that if we were installing at China’s price point it would be.

            “Yingli chief strategy officer Yiyu Wang said that project costs for its current pipeline of 130MW in utility-scale solar projects in China are about $1.03-$1.05 a watt.”

            “Wang suggested that Yingli would generate a return in the “higher mid teens” for these projects. “

            http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/12/how-the-solar-pv-industry-became-a-global-phenomenon/#comment-1045117247

            $1/watt in the US would mean electricity for 5c/kWh (SW) to 6c/kWh (NE).


            Natural Gas…

            The EIA states that the median price for NG – combined cycle is 5 cents per kWh.

            http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/

            Wind…

            “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

            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/

            http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2012_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf

            $40/MWh means $0.04/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC and it’s about $0.05/kWh. The PTC drops out halfway through a 20 year PPA.

            Five cents is a low number. It’s not just the LCOE of wind. It includes real estate, transmission, taxes and wind farm owner profits. It’s the “delivered to the door” cost of electricity, not just the generation price.

            So, five cents for the LCOE of NGCC and something less than five cents for the LCOE of wind.

            OK?

          • Allan Theobald

            It wind and solar are so great why do they require massive gov’t subsidies?

          • Bob_Wallace

            All our energy sources are receiving or have received subsidies. The federal subsidies received by fossil fuel and nuclear greatly exceed those given to wind and solar.

            Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas got 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much. (Most of the renewable subsidies went to corn farms for ethanol, not wind, solar and other renewable electricity technologies.)

            Between 1918 and 2009 oil and gas received average annual subsidies of $4.86 billion. (92 x $4.86 billion = $447 billion)

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. (53 x $3.50 billion = $185.6 billion)

            Between 1980 and 2009 biofuel received average annual subsidies of $1.08 billion. (29 x $1.08 billion = $31 billion)

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)

            http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf

            Renewables received 92% less per year than oil and gas, 89% less than nuclear and 76% less than biofuels. And for many fewer years.

            Right now, since 2010, wind and solar are receiving a large amount of subsidies. Nothing that would start to close the gap in terms of total subsidies, but more than coal or nuclear.

            That’s because we’re installing wind and solar. Were a new nuclear plant to come on line it would get the same sort of PTC that wind and solar are receiving.

            Coal, oh yeah, you don’t want to hear anything about how much we spend each day dealing with coal pollution. I won’t tell you that we spend more on coal problems every day than we spent each year on wind and solar between 1994 and 2009. Just ignore that inconvenient fact.

            Now, back to wind and solar subsidies. They’ve been a very successful investment for taxpayers. We’ve spent fortunes on nuclear and oil and their price keeps going up.

            We’ve spent small money on wind and its price has dropped from $0.38/kWh to $0.05/kWh in the last 30 years. Getting close to a 8x price drop.

            We’ve spent small money on solar and the price of solar panels has dropped from over $50/watt to under $1/watt over the last 30 years. We’re getting close to a 100x price drop.

            Sweet, eh?

            And, guess what? We’re looking at the end of subsidies for both wind and solar in the next few years. They’re just about ready to stand on their own. I’m afraid nuclear and fossil fuels will still need us to carry them though….

          • Veritasortruth

            You obviously do not understand the difference between a tax break and a subsidy. Here’s an article which explains the difference between the two better than what I ever could. A Subsidy and a Tax Break are very different things.

            http://dailycapitalist.com/2012/04/27/the-truth-about-oil-subsidies/

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, I understand that the word “subsidy” is used in different ways at different times. Let’s look at how your link defines subsidies –

            “If you define “subsidy” as “a sum of money granted by the government or a public body to assist an industry or business so that the price of a commodity or service may remain low or competitive,” then there are no oil company subsidies.”

            Fair enough. Clearly defining the way you’re using the word makes your message clear. And using that definition oil receives no subsidies.

            Now let’s look at how Investopedia defines “subsidy”.

            “A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction.”

            http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subsidy.asp

            So, where are we? By the definition you prefer oil gets no subsidies. Oil gets only tax breaks which are some sort of benefit given by the government but not cash.

            And how about wind and solar?

            Wow!

            Wind and solar receive no subsidies.

            Whoda thunk it?

            Wind and solar get tax breaks. Production Tax Credits (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC). No cash, ergo, no subsidies.

            Glad you cleared that up. Please inform your friends that wind and solar are not subsidized. That will let them sleep a lot better at night knowing that wind and solar, just like oil, aren’t subsidized.

          • Allan Theobald

            What is the cost when the wind isn’t blowing? What is the cost of the back up system? Wind can be very good but just in a few locations. Most places in most countries lack reliable wind.

            “For the 12 months until May 2013, the electricity produced from wind power in the United States amounted to 153.6 terawatt-hours, or 3.78% of all generated electrical energy.[3]

            A 2012 report by a clean energy consulting group concluded that new wind farms can produce electricity in the 5-8 cents per kWh range, making wind power cost-competitive with fossil fuels in many areas.[4] As of 2013, the US Energy Information Administration estimates the “levelized cost” of wind energy from new installations as 7 to 10 cents per kWh, depending on the geographic area.”

            So it’s under 4%, remains more expensive, will only be relatively competitive in some(windy) areas. It also is an eye sore and kills large numbers of raptors and other birds. At any rate it’s at 4% and only because of huge subsidies.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “What is the cost when the wind isn’t blowing? What is the cost of the back up system?”

            How much does NG cost per kWh? How much does hydro cost per kWh? How about the 21 GW of pump-up hydro and CAES we have?

            We had the ability to use wind and solar for at least 35% of our grid supply as the grid stood a few years back. That number has increased as we’ve converted coal capacity to natural gas capacity. NG is dispatchable. That number will increase as we add EVs/PHEVs to the grid. And it will increase as we make our grid smarter and are able to do more load-shifting.

            The short answer is that now, and for several years to come, the cost of backup for wind is zero. Nada. Nothing. Not a penny.

            When the wind blows, we use it and save money. When the wind doesn’t blow we use something more expensive.

            Later on we’ll need to add storage. But that’s way out in the future.

            “Wind can be very good but just in a few locations. Most places in most countries lack reliable wind.”

            I’ll stick a wind (and transmission) map on the bottom. You’ll notice that we have excellent, very excellent wind off both coasts and most of our population lives close to one coast or another. For others, there’s that windy corridor right up the middle of the continent. Then there’s that great wind over the Great Lakes which can supply the Upper Midwest and into the Eastern Seaboard.

            Transmission. We’re selling Oklahoma wind into East Tennessee. HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) line being built. We’re shipping Midwest wind all over the place. We’re getting ready to build a HVDC from Wyoming and its excellent wind down a ways so that it can lock onto the Pacific Intertie and Intermountain Intertie and bring wind to the West Coast just about the time the Sun starts to set and solar drop out.

            “So it’s under 4%, remains more expensive, will only be relatively competitive in some(windy) areas. It also is an eye sore and kills large numbers of raptors and other birds. At any rate it’s at 4% and only because of huge subsidies.”

            That’s under 4% for May 2012 to May 2013. We’ll have to wait and see what it is for the year 2013. What I’ve heard is that we may hit 5%. If we were running 3.78% before the year was half over we’re almost certain to clear 4% with room left over.

            Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I happen to think wind turbines are beautiful, magnificent machines. I don’t want to see them in National Parks and other of our most beautiful places, but there’s no need to put them there. The windy places are generally not places most of us want to hang out.

            Bird kill? Greatly hyped. Bird kill per unit electricity generated are lower than coal and nuclear. And we’ve dropped the kill per turbine number significantly over the last few years.

            Because of subsidies? You betcha. Subsidies have, as I told you earlier, brought the cost of wind (and solar) from too expensive to use down to so cheap they are taking over.

            It’s lovely….

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” 2012 report by a clean energy consulting group concluded that new wind farms can produce electricity in the 5-8 cents per kWh range”

            This is more recent data –

            “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

            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/

            Adding in 10 years of 2.2 PTC, taking out real estate, transmission, taxes and owner profits roughs out an average production price somewhere under 5 cents. Of course that’s an average so if you looked around you might find 8 cent wind farms. But you also find enough farms producing for less than 5 cents, otherwise the average wouldn’t be what it is.

          • Martin Vermeer

            > It also is an eye sore

            Only to fossil-fuel stock owners… I suggest you sell

          • tmac1

            Dear Allan

            US has often subsidized industries in the national interest (Internet, Railroad, Intestate Highways)

            Since Solar and wind produces no pollution once operational and uses domestic homegrown renewable power, it has been deemed to be in the national interest.

            Look at California;

            Rebate was $4.50 a watt in 2001 for Solar Power.
            This was set to decrease as industry matured.

            As market grew rebate came down to $3.00 a watt to $2.50 to $2.00 to well under $1.00 a watt now. Despite this Solar is going crazy in CA

            Result
            New Industries making and installing solar panels
            Lower prices for solar for all
            Cleaner air for everyone to breath!

            Dont you feel better?

            Furthermore, once FF pay a carbon tax no subsidies will be needed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Allan Theobald

            Solar makes some sense in So Cal and a few other places but not in much of America. The rebates are needed because the costs are not competitive. Both solar and wind are really renewable because they wear out in less than 20 years and must be replaced. I’m not against them but it’s a pipe dream to believe they are going to replace fossil fuels anytime soon. Fracking is leading an energy revolution in America and around the world. Abundant cheap NG is going to power America for decades to come. If you doubt this go check out ND, PA, or TX. Next up is CA. Bakersfield is booming and soon the oil and NG will be flowing creating 1-2 million new jobs in the state.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What’s your math on solar not making sense in most of America? You talking utility, commercial or residential solar? Let’s see the numbers you’re using. What’s the cost spread from NE to SW?

            “Both solar and wind are really renewable because they wear out in less than 20 years and must be replaced.”

            That’s not what is meant by “renewable”. Let’s try this one –

            “Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished)”

            Neither wind turbines nor solar panels wear out in 20 years.

            Our first generation turbines are now 30 years old and being replaced. Most likely newer technology (we’ve learned a lot about engineering turbines) will last longer than 30 years. We do things with sensors and stress control that we couldn’t have imagined 30 years ago.

            We’ve got solar panels that are 40 years old. They’ve lost about 0.5% output per year so they’re still cranking out around 80% of what they did when new. We really don’t know what the lifespan of solar panels might be.
            We’ve got one that’s 50 years old (I think the first one made) but it’s been stored away and not out in the sunshine. It at least tells us that panels don’t just croak when they hit 50.

            Silicon solar panels are basically a thin sheet of rock between layers of glass.

            Here’s the deal with NG. It’s not as cheap as it was when we had a huge surplus (following the drilling bubble of a few years back). Using NG for electricity is more expensive than wind.

            And, as I’ve said earlier, solar will soon be cheaper than NG. The futures market sees NG prices rising throughout the decade. It’s clear that solar is going to come down, especially in the US.

            What our grid will probably look like for a while is ~50% wind, ~30% solar and ~20% hydro, geothermal, biomass, biogas, tidal, storage and NG. We’ll use wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and run of the river directly. Hydro, storage, biogas and NG will be fill-ins.

            The mix will vary from location to location and from season to season. But it will almost certainly be wind-heavy. And solar is almost certain to be in second place. The NE and PNW will have larger hydro contributions than the SW. The SW will use more solar. The West will use more geothermal than the East (unless we perfect enhanced geothermal).

            If/when we put a price on carbon (which I suspect we will do) NG will be our most expensive source of electricity and the last we’ll turn to. NG will likely be used for only deep backup, on a few very hot days in the summer.

            I just don’t think you’ve been able to comprehend how cheap wind and solar are/will be.

            Now, about your solar cost numbers….

          • Adam Grant

            As a technique, hydrofracturing has only been successful in a few counties in the US, and an investment bubble in US gas production appears to be deflating. Natural gas will continue to be extracted for many years, but by 2020 or so prices should be back where they were before fracking began.
            Fracking appears to have been even less successful in other countries, for different reasons in different locations, e.g. the high Chinese plateau where the geology is promising but there’s not enough water available to inject.

          • Dave2020

            Allan, YOU are wrong.

            The NHS does a screening program, colonoscopies as required and covers the whole cost of treatment – surgery if necessary.

            The NHS is a fine example of the minimum level of care every citizen should be entitled to in any civilized society.

            I, for one, would happily pay higher taxes to ensure that the NHS survives and fulfils its founding principles.

          • BlueScreenOfDeath

            “none of the socialized systems pays for screening colonoscopies which is true.”

            No it isn’t.

            I live in the UK, and have just had my third free colonoscopy.

            Further, I am taking part in a pilot scheme to submit stool samples for inspection.

          • Allan Theobald

            A 28% VAT and 30-40% income taxes on earnings at low incomes below 100k and you call it free. Blue are you really this dense. You are in a pilot program. you live in the UK and you don’t even know the NHS’s own program. Well here it is.

            http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/bowel/screening-pathway.pdf

          • A Real Libertarian

            He’s in a pilot program to submit stool samples for inspection. Not for colonoscopies. This would go easier if you actually read what was said instead of what you wished was said.

            “30-40% income taxes on earnings at low incomes below 100k and you call it free.”

            You’re calling $160k a year “low incomes”? How rich do you have to be to do that? Oh wait, rich enough to think $160k a year is poor.

          • Allan Theobald

            I didn’t say English Pounds. By low I meant middle class and certainly not rich. By the way 160k is two nurses or the cost of every fireman or cop in most major US cities.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “I didn’t say English Pounds”

            You’re talking about the British tax system, that means you’re talking about British Pounds.

            “By low I meant middle class and certainly not rich.”

            So you think anyone who isn’t upper class has “low incomes”?

          • Dave2020

            Wrong again, Allan.

            UK VAT is 20% on most goods and 5% on fuel bills.

            Persons on average earnings pay income tax at 20%.

            Low earners pay no tax (I’ve been there) and are entitled to many benefits, which I have fortunately never needed.

            The NHS is free – to describe it any other way is a perverse lie. I’ve never wasted money on private cover. Why would I? – safe in the knowledge that I will get free treatment.

            I have been invited for screening. The rules are only being changed by the political ideology of wealthy politicians.

            My National Insurance contributions entitle me to a State Pension, which is just about adequate. I have no complaints, but you make up a lot of distortions to justify your ideology.

          • Allan Theobald

            Congrats Dave you finally got something right but big deal it’s just a typo. My point remains just as valid and points out the silliness of proclaiming that the NHS is “free” in a country with the overall oppressive tax rates of the UK. I’m not sure how old you are Dave but I hope you never need cardiac stents, diagnostic MRI’s, dialysis , or new medicines. You are welcome to defend the NHS and it does indeed provide universal coverage of mediocre healthcare.

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19577489

            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/16/nhs-crisis-no-way-to-run-public-service

            http://news.sky.com/story/1089128/nhs-accident-and-emergency-units-in-crisis

            http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/24/nhs-accident-emergency-crisis-consultants

            http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/5018055/NHS-deaths-scandal.html

            http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/scandal-hit-staffordshire-nhs-trust-5802756

            http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/14/nhs-scandal_n_3593998.html?just_reloaded=1

            These are from your own papers. No healthcare system is perfect. It is impossible to provide top care to everyone in a large nation for “free” as you call it. But I for one prefer the American system which allows almost everyone to the best care even though it costs more. thousands of Brits/Canadians have come to the US for care but no American virtually ever leaves for care elsewhere.

          • Dave2020

            One typo you claim. What about all the other errors?

            Bad management isn’t unique to the public sector, but . . .

            Whether it’s building hospitals (PFI), or cleaning hospitals, or the extortionate bills from Big Pharma, the private sector is the reason that social medicine is not working efficiently. These profit-seeking entities have a parasitic grip on the body of the NHS, which should be a 100% public service. Creating a profitable (captive) market in health insurance is no solution.

            If you believe the scare stories in the right-wing press, you’re a fool. (cherry-picking only what you want to believe)

            Likewise, on topic, the truth may not be what you want:-

            “Tumbling power prices in Germany and shrinking market shares are hurting traditional utilities. The US shale gas boom has also created an oversupply of coal. As a result, RWE’s conventional power generation fell by two-thirds in the first half of the year.”
            http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2295853/rwe-seeks-to-slash-dividend-in-response-to-renewables-boom

            Of course, the distortions of ‘market’ mechanisms being what they are, the UK’s Electricity Market Reform (designed on failed economic principles and discredited ideas) is another disaster in the making.

          • BlueScreenOfDeath

            “A 28% VAT…”</i.

            VAT is not 28% in the UK.

            “You are in a pilot program…”

            No I’m not.

            The program you refer to has nothing to do with volonoscopy, as you would have noticed had you read the link, as It involves a stool sample kit and is far cheaper option than the colonoscopy scheme.

            As it happens, I’m on that too.

            You really haven’t the first idea what you’re ranting about, have you?

  • JamesWimberley

    Separate technical point. The graphs are good – whoever produced them has followed the ¨less is more¨ advice here: i.imgur.com/WntrM6p.gif .

  • JamesWimberley

    Well done. A few extra points.
    Isn´t it curious how the noisy political and technocratic opposition in Germany to renewable energy has reached a crescendo just as the FITs forr solar and wind have reached grid parity? Nobody in Germany can challenge the fixed legacy costs of past high FITS. The cross-subsidy looking forward is negligible, so continued renewable growth will not require it. However, it will destroy the fossil-fuel incumbents and cause massive write-offs in their assets. What you hear is the cries of wounded capital.
    The other reason for the decibels is that the neoliberal FDP, ideologically opposed to the EEG and cosy with big industry, is fighting for its life in this election. If it falls below 5% of the vote, it is out of the Bundestag and nice ministerial portfolios in coalition governments. It looks from the polls as if its scare tactics may just be enough to keep it alive. However, its safety margin is within the polls´ margins of error, and it may get the punishment it deserves.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “What you hear is the cries of wounded capital.”

      Nice wordsmithing. I’m calling firsts on “the lamentations of the dying coal industry”.

      “The U.S. government rejected the sale of coal in Wyoming after an auction drew the lowest top bidin 15 years, as the outlook for the power-plant fuel weakens because of cheap natural gas and new rules coming out this week.

      The Bureau of Land Management turned down the bid of $35 million, or 21 cents a ton, by Kiewit Mining Group Inc., based in Omaha, Nebraska,
      for the 167 million tons of Powder River Basin coal,
      the agency said today in a statement. The rejection follows a BLM sale in August that attracted no bidders.

      The company’s offer was less than one-fifth what mining companies paid for similar deposits last year, and the lowest amount per ton since 1998. It didn’t meet the government’s estimate of fair value, the bureau said in a statement.

      “The bottom has just dropped out of the market,” Mark Northam, director of the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, said by telephone. “This represents a high degree of uncertainty about whether coal will stay robust in the future.””

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-18/wyoming-coal-sale-at-15-year-low-shows-industry-uncertainty.html

      • Adam Grant

        This is very interesting! It would be valuable to see a chart of the last couple of decades worth of coal extraction in the US, including volume of coal extracted, average cost per ton, and some measure of how much heat you get by burning it.
        At the same time as gas and renewables are reducing demand for coal, occasional articles by the peak oil people have suggested another angle on the story, that depletion of high quality coal has been reducing the EROI of coal as an energy source.

  • Michael Berndtson

    I haven’t finished reading this article and I haven’t read the New York Times piece. The Times has been critical of renewables in the past and very much pro natural gas. My guess (only a guess) is that New York City needs a new commodity to trade to stay afloat. Or more specifically, to make a few people boatloads of cash via trading. There’s nothing to trade with solar and wind. Manufacturing and installation is an anathema to the financial sector since it requires people. People provided goods and services isn’t as lucrative as trading base commodities. New York times makes its money off advertising luxury goods to wealthy people. A chunk of the wealthy people reading the Times and looking at the luxury goods advertisements are in finance. Finance would trade natural gas in its liquid form as LNG either into or out of the US. The ultimate power generation mix for NYT it seems would be 50 percent gas and 40 percent nuclear and 10 percent all those hippie renewable things.

    • Bob_Wallace

      It might be useful to consider what is happening to newspapers. Many have failed. The ones still operating are not doing very well trying to make it with greatly diminished readership. And young people tend to not read newspapers.

      That means that it’s in the newspaper’s interests to publish stuff that doesn’t piss off the old farts who are keeping the papers afloat.

      Even if papers aren’t aware of what is happening to them they’re likely to be drug to more conservative positions. They’ll put editors in place who can keep subscription levels from falling (or at least slow the drop) and those editors will hire reporters who don’t cause people to cancel their subscriptions.

    • Veritasortruth

      Or, it might just be that the New York Times, under new leadership is trying to actually get at the truth. And the truth is that renewables like wind and solar DON’T work very well and are hideously expensive. I didn’t need the New York Times to tell me this because I work in the industry and have far more knowledge than anyone writing for the Times. Once in a while the New York Times gets something right. When they do, they should be applauded. In this case they are correct.

      • Michael Berndtson

        Quoting from above, “New York Times, under new leadership…” Would that be the Brit? What industry do you work in? Solar and wind implementation is way beyond some goofy pipedream or feeble going nowhere pilot study. It’s kind of a big deal.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Well, since wind is selling at an average of 4 cents per kWh and 20, 30 year PPAs are being written for solar in the 6 cent range we know that your claim is bogus. (Add back in the subsidies if you like. You’ll find the LCOE for wind is around 5 cents and solar now falling under 10 cents.)
        Thanks for playing. Show up with a better FUD game next time.

        • Veritasortruth

          If wind and solar are as cheap as you have stated, then why the subsidies? They should be able to compete without being subsidized. But they don’t. Most peculiar. Strange days indeed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind and solar are about to give up their subsidies. I think both programs run out in 2018 or so and no one expects them to be renewed.

            Of course some people would not consider that fair. Coal will get to keep on spewing pollution and not be charged for the damage it causes. We taxpayers will keep assuming liability for any big nuclear meltdown, the nuclear industry won’t be required to purchase liability insurance.

            By the time wind and solar will have finished getting subsidies they will have received only a small percentage of what fossil fuels and nuclear have received.

            Offshore wind will likely get subsidized for some years. It’s a new technology to our shores and we’ve got infrastructure to build. We let Europe get way ahead of us there as well.

  • Shiggity

    One of the most important aspects of their program is that the solar is largely units under 15kw, meaning that these systems are mainly helping ‘the little guy’. This is unique, most other countries’ core solar systems are utility and commercial based.

    I understand why they’re running these stories, utility stocks give the best dividends of almost any stock. Those stocks have been pure money for the people that own them for decades, and now they’re threatened. When your bread and butter is threatened, you’ll do whatever you can to protect it. I’m not saying it’s morally right, but I fully understand it. Always look to the money.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    “Merkel was forced to go full steam into Energiewende because of public demand.”

    It would be interesting to list the eight or so parties and their differences to Energiewende.

    • Marty Nizera

      There aren’t any differences between the 8 parties. Every one of them is too afraid of their electorate to muddy the waters now.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Well this should be made clear. Currently people think there must be some party that reflects the Der Spiegel’s propaganda.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    “If Energiewende opponents really cared about the poor”

    Opponents use this argument both ways. That it is a bad thing industry gets special rates and a bad thing that the poor do not. I only see one way out and that is to give no special rates to anybody.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    “More coal power plants have been shut down than started up”

    Ok, but maybe the new power plants may produce more power and use more coal overall?

    • Bob_Wallace

      The new plants produce more power with less coal. They are much more efficient and able, to some extent, to load follow.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Future posts of this article should not leave any wiggle room for anti-REs to exploit then. So the sentence should be changed to hammer in the point. Something like “More coal power plants have been shut down than started up resulting in x% less CO2 overall”

        Because any anti-RE will immediately jump on the wiggle room and make it negative. In this case they would twist it to “Germany is producing more power with coal because they closed the nuclear reactors”.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Germany’s electricity bills are a small percentage of overall household bills.

    Nice catch comparing it to the cost of American electricity!!!

  • jburt56

    Is the NY Times snorting KOCH???

    • Ivor O’Connor

      The NY Times does not get money from RE. Hence they write bad articles about RE and Teslas…

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