Clean Power

Published on August 15th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan

0

44 Ways You Can Slow The Solar Century

August 15th, 2016 by  

price-of-solar-power-drop-graph

Since “22 Ways To Delay The Electric Car Revolution” and then the expanded “50 Tips For Slowing The Electric Car Revolution” were such big hits, I thought I’d run with “44 Ways You Can Slow The Transition To The Solar Century” to keep the “fun” going. (Of course, as someone wrote under one of those articles, it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.)

I’m sure I’m again leaving a ton of tips out, so feel free to fill the gaps down in the comments.

Getting to the actors in this one, they are utilities, media, politicians, and university PR teams. Naturally, even if you aren’t a part of any of these industries, you can do your part to slow the transition to solar energy by sticking many of these claims on the bottom of articles across the internet.

Solar obstructionists, start your engines!

[Note: Just in case satire is lost on anyone or this is viewed as a pointless exercise in fun, note that there are many links in the points below that you can use to respond to anti-solar nonsense when you see it published elsewhere. I will also incorporate further suggestions from commenters and add more links in the future. Consider it a fun, solar version of what Skeptical Science offers for global warming & climate change myths.]

Utilities

  1. Tell politicians, the media, etc., that the grid would collapse if solar power represented more than 5% of electricity.
  2. When it becomes obvious that isn’t true, raise the percentage to 10%, then 15%, then 20%, and so on.
  3. Act as though you need a lot of cheap energy storage before you can integrate more solar power into the grid.
  4. Ignore a large buffet of options (like demand response, renewable energy forecasting, quickly dispatchable electricity production from some non-solar power plants, regional grid connections, and time-of-use pricing) that can help to integrate a lot of solar power into the grid.
  5. When discussing rooftop solar costs to the utility and other ratepayers under net metering, be sure you don’t indicate the benefits to the grid and society that rooftop solar provides (less need for transmission infrastructure, reduced load at times of high demand, reliable generation, more-secure decentralization of electricity generation, reduced pollution and CO2 emissions, etc.).
  6. Try not to admit that the real reason you oppose net metering and rooftop solar is because rooftop solar eats into your profits.
  7. Pretend that baseload power is still necessary.
  8. Ignore the increasing difficulty of cooling thermal (fossil & nuclear) power plants in a world that is quickly heating up.
  9. Never mention the externalities of coal and natural gas or the decommissioning and insurance costs of nuclear power.
  10. When discussing the price of solar power, cite the extra cost of transmission lines to desert solar power projects but not the savings from rooftop solar power projects.
  11. Don’t acknowledge the grid security benefits of distributed solar power.
  12. Don’t acknowledge how much predictable electricity supply and predictable costs from long-term contracts with solar project owners help your long-term finances and planning.
  13. Don’t acknowledge solar’s extremely high reliability.
  14. Make people wait as long as possible to connect a solar power system to the grid.
  15. Make the permitting paperwork and permitting cost for rooftop solar projects as high as regulators and citizens will accept.
  16. Try to get an annual or monthly fee placed on solar power owners.
  17. Try to pit non-solar electricity customers in your jurisdiction against rooftop solar customers.
  18. Say that you support solar energy growth even though you don’t, and then use points listed above to explain why it just isn’t practical. (This makes you look like a “good guy” who’s just being “realistic.”)
  19. If regulators require you to procure and integrate a certain amount of solar power into the grid, highlight your progress doing so as if it was something you weren’t forced to do.
  20. Do not admit that solar and wind power bring down wholesale electricity costs.
Solar price v capacity

Solar power price trend (orange) vs new solar power installations by year (blue). Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Lazard-Solar-Wind-Prices-LCOE-3

The levelized cost of electricity from different electricity sources, by Lazard, with highlighting and an additional comment on the world’s lowest solar price bid added by me.

Media

  1. Parrot everything the monopolistic utility industry tells you.
  2. Imply that solar power is 2–100 times more expensive than it is.
  3. Explain to clueless lay people that, despite what they think, the sun doesn’t always shine. This is not taught in elementary school for some reason. (You should also throw in the point that the wind doesn’t always blow, since it is just good rhetorical fun and will conveniently deflate people’s preference for wind energy.)
  4. If writing about solar energy incentives, do not compare them with the ginormous historical (and ongoing) government incentives for fossil and nuclear energy.
  5. Make no mention of the hundreds of thousands of US solar energy jobs that are boosting our economy today, or that these jobs now exceed oil & gas extraction & pipeline jobs. (Note: if you are a media agency in another country, you can do the same thing with regards to your country’s solar jobs.)
  6. Instead of highlighting kWh and $/kWh (the metrics that actually matter on the electricity market), focus on solar energy’s relatively low capacity factor (which is simply a part of the equation that leads to kWh and kWh/$, and isn’t important by itself).
  7. Pretend that fossil and nuclear power plants don’t need any backup. Pretend that they function 100% of the time and never go down unexpectedly.
  8. Act as if hippies are the only people going solar.
  9. Naturally, do not acknowledge the existential societal threat of global warming.
  10. Also don’t acknowledge the ridiculous costs of air pollution from coal, or that it kills a lot of people.
  11. Never write an article about renewables without getting quotes from the fossil fuel industry and its puppet “think tanks” in order to “balance” the story.
  12. When writing or talking about solar energy costs, compare rooftop solar prices to wholesale electricity prices, even though they actually compete with more-expensive retail electricity prices.

Politicians

  1. Parrot everything the monopolistic utility industry tells you.
  2. Use any of the tactics provided above for the media.
  3. Give your energy votes to the highest bidders. (Since fossil energy companies currently have a lot more money and spend a lot more on lobbying, if you need to make a decision before bidding begins, you can basically assume who will give you more money.)
  4. Again, when discussing solar energy subsidies, do not mention fossil and nuclear energy subsidies (especially not historical subsidies). If someone tries to bring this point up, you can lie a bit if you need to — unless a listener has personally done or looked at the research, they won’t know who to believe … unless you have a very strong history of lying.
  5. When in doubt, use talking points provided by “think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, ALEC, etc. (Fresh fossil “think tanks” are often started to get away from the absurdly corrupt and incorrect reputations of the old-timers — keep your eyes open for any organization arguing that coal smoke is good for you or that is funded by the Koch brothers.)
  6. Funnel more money to coal and natural gas if you can find a way (but don’t let anyone call it a subsidy).
  7. Fight any regulations that try to stop pollution from fossil fuels from killing people and making them sick.
  8. Fight any regulations that try to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming.
  9. Actually, fight any proposals to acknowledge or address human-caused global warming, even if your political party introduced the precise policy proposal a decade before.
  10. Don’t acknowledge or try to quantify the economic benefits of domestic, sustainable, renewable energy.
  11. If you have to acknowledge that we should do something about global warming, act like a spoiled 2-year-old and don’t agree to do anything unless all other countries make progress first. (This is also a great way to destroy the domestic economic potential from being a cleantech leader, which then helps with point #10 above.)

University PR Teams

  1. Use any of the points above if they help make your university’s research look more valuable. Do not worry about the net effect this has on society.

solar energy

“Comparing finite and renewable planetary energy reserves (Terawatt‐years). Total recoverable reserves are shown for the finite resources. Yearly potential is shown for the renewables.” (Source: Perez & Perez, 2009a)


Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!
 
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



Back to Top ↑