Touch here for mobile friendly version

Monday, January 23, 2017

David Roberts thinks there's a revolution happening in electricity, blames utilities for lack of progress

David's headline "There's a revolution happening in electricity" is yet another example of how Americans are being misled. In an earlier article, Roberts blamed television for this but Paul McDivitt and I have our suspicions:

 From How renewable energy advocates are hurting the climate cause:
But even if you look at just electricity, the numbers for the U.S. still don’t come close to 20 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2015 statistics show that 4.7 percent of the country’s electricity was generated from wind, with 0.6 percent coming from solar. That’s a 14-plus percentage point difference between what Americans think and the truth

It’s hard to blame them, with confused and confusing coverage of renewable energy statistics popping up in their social media feeds and on news outlets they’ve come to trust. On top of that, most social media sharers never even read the articles they share. According to a recent study, 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never been clicked, underscoring the outsize influence of misleading headlines, subheads and header photos. And research has shown that misleading and clickbait headlines have a lasting effect on how those who actually read articles interpret and remember their content.
David thinks the over-hyping of wind and solar "reflects a real communications victory on the part of clean energy industries and climate advocates."

Which may be true for the industries, but not so much for the cause of climate activists (assuming they want to end climate change instead of nuclear energy). We can, in part, thank misleading articles and clickbait headlines for the rise of emissions in Germany and Japan.

You'd never know from reading any of this climate hawk's articles, but nuclear is still the single largest source of low carbon energy in Germany and is expected to be the largest single source (according to six recent independent studies) for the entire world in 2050. See Figure 1. Renewables tribalism, the over-hyping of wind and solar in lieu of an advocacy for a mix of wind, solar, and nuclear has measurably worsened greenhouse gas emissions.

Figure 1: Over-hyping wind and solar while denigrating nuclear results in more emissions

I love gizmos as much as the next guy, but when it comes to climate change, their impact will be more incremental than revolutionary. More gizmos won't get us there. We should be replacing existing coal plants with nuclear as well as building reasonable amounts of wind and solar to reduce natural gas fuel bills when the sun shines and the wind blows.

From Jesse Jenkins in the interview:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

CleanTechnica—Does Solar and Wind Really Crush Coal and Nuclear, Promote National Energy Freedom (aka Energy Independence), Improve the Economy?

Although solar and wind will be a major part of future low carbon energy grids, they have their limits. If that were not true, why would we bother with both when we could just pick one or the other? Future low carbon energy grids will be a mix of nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc, with just enough natural gas to stitch the various sources together.

Zachary Shahan begins his article with screenshots of the Lazards 10.0 LCOE study with two vertical lines drawn on it in an attempt to demonstrate that wind and solar are typically cheaper than new coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.”

If by typical, he means cheaper regardless of where in the country they might be installed, he’s wrong.

If he meant cheaper only in the sunniest and windiest of places, then obviously, they will not always be cheaper than other energy sources. And even if they were the cheapest regardless of where they are installed, a grid using them would still require several other types of energy sources, more expensive or not, to provide the lowest overall cost to consumers. Be it the mother board in your computer or an electrical grid, some components will cost more than others to provide the lowest overall cost of the final product.

I created Figure 1 below to explain why he is wrong. Hydro, wind, and solar are natural resources and they are not equally plentiful everywhere. Lazards states that the solar prices are only for areas of high solar insolence (the Southwest) and in the case of wind, only where it blows hard enough to use 35% to 50% of rated capactiy (windy places) and that the prices don’t include things like extra transmission lines. Read the disclaimer at the top of Figure 1.

Figure 1: Explanation of the limits of the Lazards LCOE chart.

The author presents (largely incorrect) messages for anyone wanting a better US economy …anyone wanting national energy freedom (aka energy independence), anyone wanting to advance the most cost-effective choices for electricity generation, and anyone wanting to make logical energy decisions ...[to] share with others.”

I would advise anyone reading that article to think twice before sharing it with others for the following reasons: