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Unreliable Nature Of Solar And Wind Makes Electricity More Expensive, New Study Finds

By Michael ShellenbergerForbes

Solar panels and wind turbines are making electricity significantly more expensive, a major new study by a team of economists from the University of Chicago finds.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) “significantly increase average retail electricity prices, with prices increasing by 11% (1.3 cents per kWh) seven years after the policy’s passage into law and 17% (2 cents per kWh) twelve years afterward,” the economists write.

The study, which has yet to go through peer-review, was done by Michael Greenstone, Richard McDowell, and Ishan Nath. It compared states with and without an RPS. It did so using what the economists say is “the most comprehensive state-level dataset ever compiled” which covered 1990 to 2015.

The cost to consumers has been staggeringly high: “All in all, seven years after passage, consumers in the 29 states had paid $125.2 billion more for electricity than they would have in the absence of the policy,” they write.

Last year, I was the first journalist to report that solar and wind are making electricity more expensive in the United States — and for inherently physical reasons.

Solar and wind require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, I noted.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California, and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

My reporting was criticized — sort of — by those who claimed I hadn’t separated correlation from causation, but the new study by a top-notch team of economists, including an advisor to Barack Obama, proves I was right.

Previous studies were misleading, the economists note, because they didn’t “incorporate three key costs,” which are the unreliability of renewables, the large amounts of land they require, and the displacement of cheaper “baseload” energy sources like nuclear plants.

The higher cost of electricity reflects “the costs that renewables impose on the generation system,” the economists note, “including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers.”

But are renewables cost-effective climate policy? They are not. The economists write that “the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it at least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon.”

The economists note that the Obama Administration’s core estimate of the social cost of carbon was $50 per ton in 2019 dollars, while the price of carbon is just $5 in the US northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and $15 in California’s cap-and-trade system.


Obama-Backed Solar Plant Could Be Shut Down For Not Producing Enough Energy

by Michael Bastasch     •     The Daily Caller

California regulators may force a massive solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert to shut down after years of under-producing electricity — not to mention the plant was blinding pilots flying over the area and incinerating birds.

The Ivanpah solar plant could be shut down if state regulators don’t give it more time to meet electricity production promises it made as part of its power purchase agreements with utilities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Ivanpah, which got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, only produced a fraction of the power state regulators expected it would. The plant only generated 45 percent of expected power in 2014 and only 68 percent in 2015, according to government data. Continue reading


Time for Solar Subsidies to Sunset

by Peter Roff     •     The Hill

Obama SolyndraSome of solar energy’s more persuasive advocates have some people believing the age of free, homegrown electricity is just around the corner. Of course they had folks believing that in the 1970s, back when Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House and wore a sweater when the weather started to cool.

The basic fact, as true today as it was then, is that solar energy – like many of the so-called green energy alternatives to oil, to coal, to natural gas, and to nuclear power – is too expensive for most consumers to utilize unless accompanied by generous subsidies at just about every level of the process.

Some solar panels are manufactured by companies that have received direct subsidies or loan guarantees from the federal government — and if those companies fail (remember Solyndra) the taxpayers are the ones who make it possible for the investors to recoup the money they put at risk. Continue reading


Putting The Truth-o-Meter On Obama’s State Of The Union Energy Claims

“Funneling taxpayer money to support green energy distorts the market and creates a huge amount of economic inefficiency — like a homeowner being pressured to use Uncle Bob for home repairs, even though the work is slow, poor quality and needlessly expensive, just because he’s family.”

by Merrill Matthews

Did President Obama somehow become the most pro-energy president in decades? You could be forgiven if that was your take-away from his comments on energy policy in his State of the Union speech.

But applying the Truth-o-Meter to several of his claims reveals a very different administration than the one on display during Obama’s speech.

Claim 1. “We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.”

The vast majority of increased oil and gas production has come from drilling on private lands, over which — thankfully — the Obama administration has no control. Continue reading


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