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Power United Kingdom

Wind Power Now Cheapest Energy In UK and Germany; No Subsidies Needed 421

Socguy writes: Bloomberg reports wind power has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. This is notable because it's the first time this has occurred in a G7 country. In the U.S., wind and solar are still massively overshadowed by the power generated from fossil fuel plants, but the percentage is creeping up. It's gotten to the point where it's starting to affect the lifetime profitability of new plants.
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Wind Power Now Cheapest Energy In UK and Germany; No Subsidies Needed

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  • Show us the data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:31AM (#50678919)

    Yeah, yeah, call me a skeptic but I want to see the costs associated with actual power generation as opposed to the line items for punitive regulation.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:47AM (#50679029) Homepage

      It's almost impossible to compare because figures for the externalized costs of coal and gas are very hard to calculate. It's difficult to evaluate the value of health and a human life, or how much damage can be attributed to energy production and not other things.

      In any case, as wind gets cheaper its capacity factor is rocketing up too.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:49AM (#50679055) Homepage Journal

        It's difficult to evaluate the value of health and a human life

        Ask any health insurance company. I guarantee you they have set dollar values for each. They know precisely what it costs them when you die.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Junta ( 36770 )

          No, they know the medical costs, which do not reflect loss of value. If I get cancer, the health insurance costs are super high. If I get instantly decapitated in an accident, the health insurance costs aren't terribly high. In both cases, however, the 'loss of value' would be similar. The tab is picked up by my life insurance, but that 'value' was set by me, not by some third party.

          The point stands, we don't have a concrete 'value' associated with loss of life and diminished quality of life associated

          • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:08AM (#50679205) Homepage Journal

            If I get cancer, the health insurance costs are super high.

            Yes. That's "the value of health".

            If I get instantly decapitated in an accident, the health insurance costs aren't terribly high.

            Yes. That's "the value of life". Though it doesn't know publicly what the actual dollar amount is, society has set a value on human life. That's reflected in what it costs whoever is considered responsible when they die.

            In both cases, however, the 'loss of value' would be similar.

            Human life does not have absolute value. That should be obvious. We do not protect all human life equally, QED. Your value depends on who is doing the [e]valuation (depending on the sense you prefer, with a nod to the sibling comment.) The value of your life to you is only relevant to you, and so in general it is of little interest to society. The value of your life to e.g. the military would be based on how much it would cost to train you, and/or your replacement. Your value to your fellow citizen is based on how much benefit they derive from your existence, less how much it costs them to keep you alive. And so on. The value of a human life is almost entirely subjective, and it's not the same from the viewpoint of any two people.

            So, like I said, the insurance companies have the most honest evaluation of the value of a human life, in dollars, because they know what it costs them. Of course, they are also highly motivated to influence the value of the human life in dollars, for obvious reasons.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          For calculating compensation costs in the event of liability for death the individual's lifetime earnings that have been lost are usually considered, so it varies a great deal. There may be other punitive costs on top, depending on the cause of death. If the person was a business owner, for example, others might able to claim for lost earnings too.

          It's a very complicated area.

        • Yep. Their actuarial tables are quite extensive.
        • Re:Show us the data (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:15PM (#50679745) Journal

          Property insurers are already factoring climate change into their actuary tables.

          I do agree that if you're looking for assessments of risk and calculations of cost, actuaries are the guys you ask.

        • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:49PM (#50680001) Homepage
          So does the TSA, the FDA, and many other government agencies.

          The problem is that the set dollar values DIFFER .And not by small amounts. Most insurance companies value human life at about $50,000 per year with younger people having more years left, while older people having less. Basically, 70 grand parents = 1 baby. The NHTSA uses a value of around $550,000 - if it costs much more than that, they don't require a safety device, less it becomes a law. The EPA says a human life is worth $9 million. Economists tend to value it at just $1 million, while the USA anti-terrorism services estimates they spend $180 million per life saved.

          So your 'solution' is not helpful - you just end up arguing about whose numbers to use.

      • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:08AM (#50679207)

        the externalized costs of coal and gas are very hard to calculate. It's difficult to evaluate the value of health and a human life, or how much damage can be attributed to energy production and not other things.

        It's not that hard, companies do this sort of calculation every day. Their result is: zero dollars. There, that was easy.

        • by gmack ( 197796 )

          You have obviously never seen the live insurance policy some companies take out for key employees to cover the cost of the lost of business/productivity of the time between when that person is lost and the time a replacement is found and hired.

        • If it were zero dollars they wouldn't bother externalizing the costs and putting up with bad publicity. Currently the cost of fixing the problem is considered greater than the publicity cost, which is non-zero.
      • I'm not sure if wind power plants can be reduced to backyard size and still retain their efficiency, but I'm all in favor of decentralized power production even if it's naturally less efficient than centralized power systems. So long as the pollution or disposal costs aren't significantly greater, household or neighborhood power systems are preferable to single point of failures like nuclear or coal power plants or even hydroelectric power plants that require large dams to be built. I don't mind nuclear or
        • Household wind-turbines are not only inefficient, but are short-lived as well, home-owner rarely consider maintenance or decommissioning costs. Household wind-turbines are for the majority of their existence simply as non-operational blight.

          • A friend of mine has one on his off-grid garage/trailer thing, and decommissioning costs involve taking it down - about as much work as removing a large TV antenna - and perhaps hauling the batteries to a recycling facility. The wind turbine runs the lights, computer/network gear and sound system. Inefficient? I don't know how much wind energy is being wasted, but it works. I don't think he's touched it since he put it up almost a year ago.

            • by b0bby ( 201198 )

              I think the parent might have meant inefficient in the sense that they are way more expensive per kwh generated than large windmills. If you spend $1000 on a small setup which only produces 100 watts for an average of 8 hours a day, it's much more efficient (economically) to buy from a wind farm. And possibly environmentally too, since that $1000 represents a real amount of raw materials extracted and energy invested in production.

              Now, if you can't connect to the grid, fine. But if you can, you should take

      • It's difficult to evaluate the value of health and a human life,

        About $9 million according to the EPA.

        or how much damage can be attributed to energy production and not other things.

        That's as difficult for wind and solar. Of course, the pollution from creating wind and solar hardware usually occurs somewhere in China, and so Europeans don't really give a damn.

    • Re:Show us the data (Score:5, Informative)

      by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:50AM (#50679071)
      It looks like that's exactly what they've done:

      "The BNEF report analyzes thousands of data points culled from individual deals and projects around the world to estimate the actual costs associated with each type of energy, excluding subsidies. "

      "takes into account not just the cost of generating a marginal MWh of electricity, but also the upfront capital and development expense, the cost of equity and debt finance, and operating and maintenance fees." - http://about.bnef.com/press-re... [bnef.com]

    • Re:Show us the data (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tbf ( 462972 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:48AM (#50679527) Homepage
      The hard evidence, the data is in the stocks of the big four (EnBW [yahoo.com], E.ON [yahoo.com], RWE [yahoo.com], Vattenfall) being in free fall for years now, while them desperately searching buyers for their outdated, in deficit fossil plants. Recently they even tried moving them into bad-bank-style shell corps.
    • Yes, and you were given what was needed. [bloomberg.com]For anything else, contact Ethan Zindler at Bloomberg Energy and they will sell you the raw data since that is what they do [bnef.com]. And considering that energy companies are putting in more wind and solar, I would say that it is indicative that Bloomberg is accurate.
  • No subsidies needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:35AM (#50678945)

    No subsidies are needed when you internalize the costs of pollution associated with fossil fuel power plants.

    • That's exactly what the subsidies do - they expose the costs of pollution to the power companies. They're a method of moving the internalization from the government to the power company (the people with the real control over which is used).

      • That's exactly what the subsidies do - they expose the costs of pollution to the power companies.

        Actually no. Taxes would do that, subsidies are something different.

  • by SpinyManiac ( 542071 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:37AM (#50678949) Homepage

    So my electricity bill's going to go down now? No, I didn't think so either.

    It's a pity wind and solar aren't reliable in the UK. Maybe we could install the turbines in parliament and make use of a ready supply of hot air. We could install solar panels too, the MPs all think the sun shines out of their arses.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They're very reliable. Whenever the sun shines or the wind blows, they work.

      The word you're looking for is "intermittent" and that's an entirely different (and already solved) problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by SpinyManiac ( 542071 )

        We can't flood all of Wales for pump storage power stations. I'm willing to give it a shot though.

    • by pr0nbot ( 313417 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:52AM (#50679085)

      Make a turnstile for the lobbyists and use it to generate energy. Green and limitless.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      So my electricity bill's going to go down now? No, I didn't think so either.

      No, because part of the reason wind/solar is more competitive is because the more wind/solar you have, the more expensive fossil fuel power becomes. It is explained in TFA.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:35AM (#50679417) Homepage

      UK power is expensive for a variety of reasons. We pay a ridiculous amount for nuclear, and don't make good use of our excellent wind resources. The big energy suppliers do the minimum possible to meet their legal obligations, in an attempt to force the government to pay them to build new capacity with tax money and bill increases.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        The big energy suppliers do the minimum possible to meet their legal obligations

        I'm curious - do you, personally, do more than the minimum possible to meet your legal obligations? Send a little extra to the government at tax time, that sort of thing?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I paid a premium for an electric car (fully EV, not a hybrid) and put up with the slight limitations it comes with in terms of range and recharge time. So yeah, I went zero emissions even though I was not legally obliged to.

          I sometimes spray some weed killer on the public pavement outside by house, that's a public service I'm not required to perform.

          • Electric cars make hippie chicks puddle. Who can put a dollar value on that?

          • I paid a premium for an electric car (fully EV, not a hybrid) and put up with the slight limitations it comes with in terms of range and recharge time. So yeah, I went zero emissions even though I was not legally obliged to.

            SO, you bought yourself an expensive toy and consider that to be "going beyond legal requirements"? Interesting.

            So, would the power companies over there you dislike be "going beyond the legal requirements" if they bought electric cars for all their executives? For that matter, would

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:37AM (#50678951)

    Since solar and wind power commonly still rely on gas and coal for backup power generation, as such in the United States, the total cost to maintain the fossil fuel plants has to be considered when calculating the real benefits of renewables. Sorry, no fuzzy math allowed! You can spin and data mine the numbers for renewables all you want but science and math are absolute. ; )

    Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!?

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:42AM (#50678987)

      Since solar and wind power commonly still rely on gas and coal for backup power generation, as such in the United States, the total cost to maintain the fossil fuel plants has to be considered when calculating the real benefits of renewables. Sorry, no fuzzy math allowed! You can spin and data mine the numbers for renewables all you want but science and math are absolute. ; )

      Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!?

      Any cost analysis that overlooks the cost of managing the intermittancy and unreliability of wind is not complete. That cost grows as wind becomes a greater percentage of the generation portfolio.

      • Any cost analysis that overlooks the cost of managing the intermittancy and unreliability of wind is not complete.

        but they don't do that. And the capacity factor is rising, not falling as we get better at designing and siting wind generators.

      • overlooks the cost of managing the intermittancy and unreliability of wind is not complete. That cost grows as wind becomes a greater percentage of the generation portfolio.
        First of all, that cost is very likely included and not overlooked.
        Secondly the cost grows analog to the installment base, and not over proportional. So there s no disadvantage if teh percentage of wind grows.
        Also: you have the same planning overhead for any other power source ;D (I wrote, was involved in writing, the planning software

      • The excuse making a unbacked assumptions from the same old people is quite predictable.
    • If you want to include those numbers, make sure to do it over the long term. This is the first thing that I have seen that actually talks about power generation over the long term.

      Wind and solar have minuscule costs over the long term (just maintenance on the machines and lines). However, for fossil fuels there is the constant cost of getting the fossil fuels and bringing them to the plant. Yes wind and solar have more of a startup cost, because of the amount of machines required to generate the same amo

      • Wind and solar have minuscule costs over the long term (just maintenance on the machines and lines).

        Please then explain the massive fields of dead turbines in California and the southern tip of Hawaii.

        Long term history teaches us that wind power plants shut down after just a decade or two. Why is that? If the long term cost is minuscule why would they have been decommissioned?

        Of course there's tremendous cost to birds also but fuck wildlife, right?

    • by dlenmn ( 145080 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:15AM (#50679245)

      You raise a valid point. Yes, it would be nice if those costs were taken into account, but "We don't know all the costs therefore it's a bad idea!" is not a strong argument unless we truly know very little. Do you have any data to suggest that the backup costs are significant relative to the costs of the generated solar and wind power?

      While we are on the subject of "things we don't know about the cost of solar and wind", here are some more questions that I'd like to see answered:

      Are the fossil fuel plant maintenance costs simply the costs we already have for our existing fossil fuel plants? Is it possible that wind _lowers_ the maintenance costs of fossil fuel plants relative to their current levels? (If fossil fuel plants get less use, wouldn't they require less maintenance?) If wind and solar plants are distributed across the country, how much variation in total output capacity is there? (And by extension, how much fossil fuel backup capacity is really needed?)

      In short, yes, you have brought up a cost that is not included in the analysis. However, there are many benefits and costs that are not included in the analysis. The math will always be "fuzzy" because no models include everything. Demanding that is unreasonable. As they say, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

    • Hydro is easy to implement as renewables go, but it is probably the least environmentally friendly of the renewables. It often releases methane from decomposing biomass in an oxygen low environment. It has huge impacts on the local environment as well as any environments down stream. Frankly, even if you find a suitable river that hasn't been tapped, you probably aren't going to get the green groups happy with your choice.
    • by gmack ( 197796 )

      Not always gas and coal, I know at least in Spain, there were projects where they pumped power uphill during daylight hours and then used that water for power generation at night.

    • Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!?

      Because it makes up a rather limited percentage of generation capacity in the US - and that percentage isn't going to go up significantly. (Weaseling because I'm still on my first cup of coffee and there may be some I'm unaware of.) We aren't building power generation dams in any significant quantity, and that's extraordinarily unlikely to change.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:36PM (#50679883)

      Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!?

      Hydro capacity is closed to maxed out - building new dams is controversial because the remaining potential locations are mostly ecologically sensitive. And you can't run hydro longer if you need more power. The amount of water behind the dam determines the sum total of power you can generate from it.

      The big difference between the U.S. and Germany/UK with respect to this report is that average electricity prices [wikipedia.org] in the U.S. is about $0.12/kWh. In the UK it's about $0.22/kWh. And Germany is about $0.32/kWh. The cost of wind in the U.S. (about $0.14-$0.19 / kWh last I checked) has been cheaper than the cost of typical electricity sources in the UK and Germany for many years now. The U.S. just uses more fossil fuels (and has lower electricity prices) because it has massive domestic coal and gas reserves, whereas the UK and Germany have to import most of their fossil fuels (or in the case of Germany, buy their electricity from neighboring countries).

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:39PM (#50679915)

        The cost of wind in the U.S. (about $0.14-$0.19 / kWh last I checked)

        I should clarify that that's retail pricing. Wholesale (production) pricing figures I've seen for wind put it at about $0.07-$0.11 / kWh. Slightly higher than natural gas and nuclear but falling rapidly. Coal is around $0.05, hydro the cheapest at $0.02-$0.04.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      You also have to include the cost to maintain the fossil fuel plants that back up the fossil fuel plants, in the fossil fuel analysis.

      The UK National Grid maintains a "spinning reserve". This has to be big enough to cope with a couple of large fossil fuel or nuclear plants going offline suddenly, which does happen from time to time (and there have been blackouts when there was not enough spinning reserve when two power stations went offline - for unrelated reasons - within minutes of each other). From the p

    • And let's add the cost of having backups for coal and gas plants added to the total cost of the coal or gas plant. Their load factor is only around 70%. When it's being maintained what's supplying the power? What happens if it goes offline due to a malfunction?

      Let's make it a fair comparison. If you are going to put the cost of backups for one source then make sure the other source has the cost of backups too. While intermittent the network operators can use forecasts to predict the amount that will be

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @01:20PM (#50680283) Journal

      > Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!?

      Two reasons. First, hydro at Niagra Falls and Lake Meade are great. Hydro is a good way to generate power in places where you have either huge waterfalls from a giant lake above a huge cliff or a giant canyon which can be dammed to make a lake that's 100 square miles. it's also a very good idea to make sure there aren't any cities downstream, so you don't kill 200,000 people (see Banqiao). There are a few such places in the US, so we built hydroelectric power stations at those locations. Built, as in past tense.

      Computer models show that if we flooded the area from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians - most of the continental US - that would provide enough power to replace most of our fossil fuel use. (Morris 2013). So while hydroelectric is certainly nice to have, we already have about as much as we can have in the US, it can never replace fossil fuels in any significant way.

      That still leaves a related question - why does US discussion of renewable energy focus on solar-electric 99% of the time, despite the fact that solar-electric is approximately the least efficient possible solution in most cases? Fifteen gallons of hot water is plenty enough for a shower. Black pipe outside that's 8 feet long and 6" ID will provide that, no problem (at least in the southern half of the country, and northern summers). That costs $20. So why are we promoting having an electric water heater plugged into an inverter, which is connected to a big bank of batteries full of hazardous chemicals, which are connected to a charge controller, which is in turn connected to a bunch of solar-electric panels? Seriously WTF? Because right now the politicians aren't trading billions of dollars of tax money for millions in campaign contributions with plumbing suppliers, the slush funds are titled "solar-electric". Obama says we should give a billion of your money and mine to the solar-electric guy, the solar electric guy gives Obama a million of it. It just so happens the politicians chose to call graft "solar electric" this time around, so we're spending billions on solar electric and therefore talking a lot about solar-electric. Reasonable, effective, efficient uses of solar, such as solar heating, don't get talked about because there's no billion-dollar grant program for that.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @10:41AM (#50678979)
    The Fine Article also has an interesting graphic relating "Capacity Factor", which is "the percentage of a power plant's maximum potential that's actually achieved over time."

    Notably, in the last 12 months, wind's capacity factor has risen from 32% to 37%. Even more interns of percentage gains, solar's capacity factor has risen from 16 to 20% in that same time frame.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PvtVoid ( 1252388 )

      wind's capacity factor has risen from 32% to 37%. Even more interns of percentage gains, solar's capacity factor has risen from 16 to 20% in that same time frame.

      Which is still pretty low, and is why you need to couple expansion of wind and solar with a non-carbon-generating power source with a high capacity factor, such as hydroelectric or nuclear. And nuclear is a lot safer and more environmentally friendly than hydro.

      • by jcdr ( 178250 )

        According to the article:
        14H2 32%
        15H1 35%
        15H2 37%
        It's a 5% progression in a single year.
        At this rate it will probably need less than 10 years to cross the natural gaz capacity factor decline.

        The outcome is clear: the future mainly rely on large number of interconnected wind and solar plants. An other probable consequence is that the price will change more quickly than now, because the production will be less adjustable. This price yo-yo will certainly push big investments to any kind of energy storage.

        • You expect a 50% increase in 10 years? Moron.

          • by jcdr ( 178250 )

            I didn't say that, but I agree that I should have used "a difference of 5" instead of 5% to avoid confusion.

            As the wind capacity factor increase make the natural gaz capacity factor decrease, then there should cross in the future. Actually the natural gaz is at 62% and wind at 37%, so the cross could be somewhere around 50% capacity factor. It's only a difference of about 13. With a progression of 5 in a single year, this look entirely possible to cross in less than 10 years.

  • I personally think the reason that solar and wind have gotten so cheap so fast is that they've found a way to manufacture small power plants than can be easily deployed. The more traditional forms of power generation such as nuclear, coal, gas, and hydro-electric seem to always focus on building huge generating stations, and building everything from the ground each time. With solar and wind power, the design problem is already solved, and you can (relatively) easily deploy a small power plant and build on

    • by jiriw ( 444695 )

      Unfortunately, scaling down current designs of power generating systems using nuclear fission will result in an exponential loss in efficiency, or worse. When they are too small, power generation isn't even possible because you need a critical mass in most systems (you need to have enough neutron-fission material interaction to keep a nuclear chain reaction going and when the neutrons are 'going fast' you need a barrier first, most commonly a layer of water, to slow them down enough to split new atoms). For

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:20AM (#50679283)
      Physics gets in the way and thermal power generation is at its best when large. Nukes are a special case where all that exotic stuff required needs to be done in bulk to justify the infrastructure needed to get any of it at all. While a large nuclear plant theoretically gets a vastly better value of $ per MW than any of the other alternative energies the need for a lot of capital at once and the need to sell the electricity in large volumes makes it unattractive to investors which is why so few have been built since the 1980s.
      So while it would be nice to have a magic cheap little nuke we only get two out of the four since magic doesn't exist to give us the other three - cheap or little, where cheap is per MW and not for the enormous thing cheapskates do not want to pay for even if it's going to deliver a very good value of $/MW when it gets completed in a decade. More expensive per MW windmills are available far sooner and so much easier to pay for that popular short term voodoo economics judges them cheaper than something with a better return in the long run.
  • still blowing smoke (Score:4, Informative)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:09AM (#50679213)

    Wind power, including U.S. subsidies, became the cheapest electricity in the U.S. for the first time last year4, according to BNEF.

    Why include subsidies? They don't lower the cost, they only chage who pays the bill.

    However, in locations where wind is a good option the combination of wind, hydro, and natural gas makes a lot of sense. Especially if you have a few good nuclear plants to handle the load that wind and hydro can't supply at their peak.

    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @11:44AM (#50679487)

      Fossils have a plethora of subsidies, some more obvious than others.

      You don't need a big military presence in the middle east, or even the threat of one to keep the wind blowing. Oil does. We end up having to maintain alliances, troops, and share military firepower with awful countries like Saudia Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, and many more. These relationships are deeply corrosive to the image we try to portray to ourselves as "freedom loving Americans". Double think becomes necessary at an early age. Good luck estimating a price tag for a corroded soul.

    • Well, fossil fuels have the hidden subsidy that society pays for all of the environmental damage and health care costs that they do. So if you want to take the subsidies off of the wind and solar prices to do a comparison then add the costs for health care and environmental damage to coal and gas plants.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:23PM (#50679793)

    I manage utilities at a major facility in the U.S. and our annual power costs average $12,000,000 to $14,000,000. Our avgerage rate is 5.3 times less than the average rate in Germany. If we were subject to such rates, I'm not sure that the industry would survive and even if it did, it would be at much higher costs to consumers and at a much lower scale. This would also have a disastrous impact on the number of jobs the facility provides, which is currently around 64,000. The progress that has been made with other forms of power generation is certainly exciting, but we are a long way and several major breakthroughs from being able to make any reasonable argument that wind and solar can compete with gas, coal and nuclear production capacities and costs. Articles like this one tend to ignore a lot of realities and draw conclusions that the data does not support.

  • Still stupid expensive. The average price of electricity in kW/h is 80% higher than in most places in the U.S.

    All this study speaks to is the outrageous electricity cost in the U.K., not the cheap cost of wind.
  • by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:55PM (#50680051)
    This will be ridiculously easy to evaluate. If the article is true and wind is less expensive, then it will attract private investment money and a lot of it. Investments in wind will far outpace investments in other kinds of power generation (coal, nat gas, nuke, etc). And it will do so without assistance from the government or any other agency via subsidies or other legislation that encourages one technology over another.

    Is that happening? No. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Thus far, without government subsidies and diktats, the wind power industry can hardly survive on its own.

    As always, follow the money.
  • 100% BULLSHIT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mike Greaves ( 1236 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @01:06PM (#50680161) Homepage

    Wind is not a positively dispatchable power source. A wind turbine is not a functional substitute for a nuclear, hydroelectric, gas or coal station, all of which can produce power *when asked to do so*.

    Grid-clearance auctions and other market pricing mechanisms VALUE positively dispatchable power at several times that of wind. Forget COST for a minute and think about VALUE to grid operations. Here in Ontario wind is paid a CAD$135 feed-in-tariff when the average production power VALUE is more like CAD$25. (Yes we are a slightly extreme case..)

    Statistics like LCOE are just accounting games, that do not include grid-operational factors.

    Photovoltaic ("solar") power may have a role to play, but the laws of our universe completely preclude the possibility of wind power ever being a useful, practical, economic contributor to large national grids; EVER. It's not even a remote possibility. On a little island somewhere, maybe.

    The article is written by no-nothings in the enthral of environmentalists (i.e. no-nothings).
    The blind leading the blind.
    --
    Mike

DEC diagnostics would run on a dead whale. -- Mel Ferentz

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