Solar power propaganda vs. the real world

Solar power cannot compete without subsidies and mandates that drive up costs, still require coal

pipelineconstructionWhen a former “senior communications official at the White House” writes a blog post for U.S. News and World Report, you should be able to trust it. But when the author states that the Keystone pipeline (should it be approved) would create only 19 weeks of temporary jobs, everything else he says must be suspect—including the claim that our “energy infrastructure will be 100% solar by 2030.”

I contacted both a union representative and one from TransCanada—the company behind the Keystone pipeline. Each affirmed that the 19-week timeframe was total fantasy. The portion of the Keystone pipeline that remains to be built is 1,179 miles long—the vast majority of that within the U.S.—with construction expected to take 2 years.

TransCanada’s spokesperson Mark Cooper responded to my query: “While some people belittle these jobs as temporary, we know that without temporary construction jobs—and the hard work of the men and women who do them—we wouldn’t have roads, highways, schools, or hospitals. We wouldn’t have the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Hoover Dam. So, I would say to these detractors: ‘It is OK if you don’t like or support Keystone XL. But let’s stop putting down the very people who have helped build America.’”

The premise of the On the Edge blog post is that we shouldn’t look at Keystone as a jobs creator. Instead, the author claims, the jobs are in “solar energy disruption.” He is frustrated that “GOP leaders almost universally ignore or disdain this emerging energy economy.”

He states: “A third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar. A new solar installation or project now occurs somewhere in the U.S.—built by a team of American workers employed in the fastest growing energy sector in the world—every 3 minutes.”

This may be true but, as you’ll see, it belies several important details. Plenty of cause exists for Republican lawmakers to “disdain” the growth in renewable energy.

If “a third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar,” there is reason for it—and it does not include sound economics.

First, efficient and effective base-load, coal-fueled electricity that has provided the bulk of America’s power is being prematurely shut down by regulations prompted by salemharbor2environmental lobbyists and promulgated by the Obama Administration. It is virtually impossible to get a new coal-fueled power plant permitted in the U.S. Even natural gas-powered plants, such as the one planned to replace the Salem Harbor coal-fueled plant, meet with resistance from groups such as Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant, which “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.” And, of course, just try to build a nuclear power plant and all the fear-mongers come out.

What’s left? Renewables, such as wind and solar, receive favorable treatment through a combination of mandates and subsidies. Even industrial wind and solar have their own opposition within the environmental lobby groups because they chop up and fry birds and bats— including protected bald and golden eagles.

The brand new report, Solar Power in the U.S.(SPUS), presents a comprehensive look at the impacts of solar power on the nation’s consumers.

Clearly, without the mandates and subsidies, this “solar energy disruption” would go dark.

abengoa2We’ve seen companies, such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, and Evergreen Solar, go bankrupt even with millions of dollars in state and federal (taxpayer) assistance. I’ve written extensively on these stories and that of Abengoa—which received the largest federal loan guarantee ($2.8 billion) and has resorted to questionable business practices to keep the doors open (Abengoa is currently under investigation from several federal agencies).

SPUS shows that without the subsidies and mandates these renewable projects can’t survive. For example, in Australia, sales of solar systems “fell as soon as the incentives were cut back.” Since the Australian government announced that it was reconsidering its Renewable Energy Targets, “investments have started to dry up.”

Knowing the importance of the “incentives,” the solar industry has now become a major campaign donor, providing political pressure and money to candidates, who will bring on more mandates, subsidies, and tax credits. Those candidates are generally Democrats, as one of the key differences between the two parties is that Democrats tend to support government involvement.

By contrast, Republicans lean toward limited government and the free market. The GOP doesn’t “disdain” solar, but they know it only survives because of government mandates that require a certain percentage of renewables, and specifically solar, in the energy mix, plus the subsidies and tax credits that make it attractive. Therefore, they can’t get excited about the jobs being created as a result of taxpayers’ involuntary investment, nor higher energy costs. There is a big difference between disdaining solar power and disdaining the government involvement that gives it an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

The blog post compares the “solar energy disruption” to what “occurred when direcTV and Dish started to compete with cable television. More choices emerged and a whole lot of new jobs were created.” However, those jobs were created through private investment and the free market—a fact that, along with solar’s dependence on incentives, he never mentions. Likewise, the jobs supported by building the Keystone pipeline would be through private funding.

The blog’s author touts this claim, from the book Clean Disruption: “Should solar continue on its exponential trajectory, the energy infrastructure will be 100% solar by 2030”—15 years from now. Even if state and federal governments were to continue to pour money into solar energy—which, as is pointed out in SPUS, subsidies are already being dialed back on a variety of fronts, there is no currently available solution to solar’s intermittency.

SPUS draws upon the example of Germany, which has led the way globally in solar and other renGermanycoalewables. Over time the high renewable penetration has contributed to residential electricity prices more than doubling. Renewables received favored status, called “priority dispatch,” which means that, when renewable electricity becomes available, the utilities must dispatch it first, thereby changing the merit order for thermal plants. Now many modern natural gas-fueled plants, as well as coal, couldn’t operate profitably. As a result, many were shut down, while several plants were provided “capacity payments” by the government (a double subsidy) in order to stay online as back-up—which maintains system stability. In Germany’s push for 80% renewable energy by 2050, it has found that despite the high penetration of renewables, given their inherent intermittency, a large amount of redundancy of coal- and natural-gas-fueled electricity (nuclear being decommissioned) is necessary to maintain the reliability of the grid.

As the German experience makes clear, without a major technological breakthrough to store electricity generated through solar systems, “100% solar by 2030” is just one more fantasy.

The blog post ends with this: “The GOP congressional leadership ignores these new jobs inside an innovative, disruptive energy sector that is about to sweep across the country it leads—in favor of a vanishingly small number of mythical Keystone ‘jobs’ that may never materialize. It makes you wonder. Why?”

The answers can be found in SPUS, which addresses the policy, regulatory, and consumer protection issues that have manifested themselves through the rapid rise of solar power and deals with many more elements than covered here. It concludes: “Solar is an important part of our energy future, but there must be forethought, taking into account future costs, jobs, energy reliability, and the overall energy infrastructure already in place. This technology must come online with the needs of the taxpayer, consumer and ratepayer in mind instead of giving the solar industry priority.”

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About the Author: Marita Noon

Marita Noon

CFACT policy analyst Marita Noon is the author of Energy Freedom.,

  • Anon Anon

    What will happen to solar or wind when we get a major hurricane?

    • WestHoustonGeo

      Solar plants are usually in desert areas and hurricanes don’t get that far. Still I was driving across the Arizona desert 20 years ago and they were having monsoon rains that would have negated solar, but good. Windmills have to be “feathered” (i.e., stopped) in high or low winds and heated in cold windless weather to prevent icing despite producing nothing.
      And let us remember that wind and solar have to be backed up 100% with gas, coal or nuclear power ready to take up the load at any moment. That ‘idling” state is the most inefficient way for them to operate because everything is running and nothing is produced.

      • trevormarr

        Yes, as I always say, renewable energy relies on fossil fuel, far more than fossil fuel relies on renewable energy!

      • Arationofreason

        Try driving across Arizona in a dust storm and then contemplate the enormous solar panel cleaning job (without scratching the glass or mirror surfaces).

  • moran

    You provide an effective introductory synopsis!
    Given the US News’ blogger’s limited credibility, shouldn’t we pursue a more reliable and cost effective energy supply without solar mandates and subsidies?

  • Joe

    So nuclear energy does not did government funding and did not get tax payer money during its growth phase? That is not what I have read at all.

    • trevormarr

      Nuclear has the required performance capability… it is not intermittent, nor does it require redundant backup… there is a HUGE difference Joe! It is all about the free market and the ability to choose what is the best power source to suit the given need! It should not be dictated by a dictator! If I want to fly to Mexico, I fly not by wind or solar, I fly via fossil fuel power! If I want to power my garden gnomes in the backyard, I select solar! The best energy to meet the given need is the one that should be selected.

  • bruceapilot

    Fact: All the solar projects built to date amount to 0.5% (a half of one percent) of the energy generated for use today. Fact: They are, when built in vast arrays, more environmentally hazardous, and cover vastly more land than the pipeline right of way for Keystone. Fact; Keystone would produce industrial strength energy supplies not subject to the vagaries of weather conditions, and is a very clean source which will last for hundreds of years. A solar array is good for 20 years before replacement will be required.

    • shempus

      the reflecitve ones are vaporizing birds (there are vidoes) while the giant windmill ones are slicing raptors. where is the Audubon outrage?

      • Rattlerjake

        As well, the windmills are killing millions of bats and songbirds too.

      • Crayven

        Hahaha vaporizing birds hahaha.
        Fuck off imbeciles!

    • edwin

      The oil generated by the Keystone pipeline is the dirtiest crude ever produced and it will be refined in the US and sent to Europe, it couldn’t pass our standards

      • Tenn

        Uh. No. Crude can be refined to any standard you like. Generally the Europeans have higher standards than the U.S. It is also not the “dirtiest” – that world is completely meaningless in this context. Do you mean the highest sulfur content? Most metals? Radioactive? highest carbon content? Dirty with what exactly?

        • edwin

          About two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil. Roughly 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed.
          In-situ production methods are used on bitumen deposits buried too deep for mining to be economically recovered. These techniques include steam injection, solvent injection, and firefloods, in which oxygen is injected and part of the resource burned to provide heat. So far steam injection has been the favored method. Some of these extraction methods require large amounts of both water and energy (for heating and pumping).
          Both mining and processing of tar sands involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land; impacts on wildlife and air and water quality. The development of a commercial tar sands industry in the U.S. would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities. Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for tar sands processing; currently, tar sands extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.
          Diluted bitumen (dilbit) is oil from tar sands and is substantially different from conventional crude oil. Dilbit is a relatively new oil product and currently only represents a very small portion of the oil being piped in pipelines in the US (100,000 barrels per day beginning in 2002).
          During the time that the Deepwater Horizon / Gulf Oil Spill was occurring, the United States also experienced what is documented to be the largest oil spill in the Midwest in history – the Kalamazoo River Pipeline Spill where 1,200,000 gallons of dilbit tar oil was released into the Kalamazoo River.
          It turned out that neither the EPS nor the company that managed the pipeline had a plan for being able to clean up dilbit oil and it turns out that dilbit oil is substantially different from conventional oil
          Dilbit oil is much heavier than traditional oil and in order to be transported in a pipeline it has to be diluted with chemicals that keep it fluid so that it will flow through the pipeline. While dilbit oil is exposed to air, as in the case of an oil-spill, these highly caustic and dangerous chemicals evaporate and the oil returns to its heavy state, which does not float on the top of water.
          Originally the EPA and the oil pipeline company estimated that the Kalamazoo River spill would take approximately 30 days to clean up, but the clean-up has proven to be substantially more problematic and after more than 22 months with as many as 4,400 people working on the clean-up the spill has still not been remediated. Additionally, it turns out that the costs encountered so far have been more than 10 times as costly than the typical costs associated with a conventional oil spill. The current costs of the Kalamazoo River dilbit oil spill are over $775,000,000 and rising. The clean-up efforts are expected to continue well into 2012, if not longer. According to news reports, 60% of the local populations were affected by and required treatment for miles around the spill with nauea, dizziness, headaches, coughing and fatigue. Thirty five miles of the river have had to be closed to humans (the actual spill affected 25 miles of the river).
          According to the EPA and the pipeline operator they had no knowledge of how to respond to a dilbit tar sands oil spill and they are literally “writing the book” as they are going along.

  • vacmancan

    Put solar panels on your roof and a Tesla in your garage, and you can tell the koch brothers to kiss your ass!!!!! Then watch my show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-CVnc2krIg

    • trevormarr

      Rich you are the Joke, your show kinda reminds me of ‘Uncle Pervy!’.

    • trevormarr

      How many solar panels and Tesla’s do you own Rich?

      • TTAS

        Uncle Richie doesn’t have solar panels on his roof, he definitely can’t afford a Tesla on his welfare check and he doesn’t even have a garage.

        What he does have is a mental problem.

    • jreb57

      Yeah, with your Tesla, you can go 325 miles on a charge (if you keep it down to 25 mph)

  • Hughspeaks

    Apart from the money wasted in subsidies, real world analysis of solar in Spain shows that there’s a far bigger problem with solar: even under optimum conditions, it takes nearly as much energy to produce, install and maintain the panels as they produce over their lifetime (assuming a very optimistic 25 year lifespan).
    http://energyskeptic.com/2014/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/

  • Arationofreason

    Germany decommissioned their own nuclear but buy nuclear generated electricity from France to make up their own power deficit when their new coal plants can’t provide it.

  • Arationofreason

    Who will publish the real cost of intermittent electrical generation including the pathetic duty cycle, load mis-match and back up costs including mandated inefficient operation of back up generation when idling to accept mandated intermittent power.

    • wally12

      I agree. Also, if by remote chance solar and wind become dominate, then that system must pay for all of the grid costs. Right now the non solar customers pay for the transmission costs of their energy. They see a real opposition to do this since it would destroy their current paybacks.

  • Steve Volkle

    Solar works fine in the DESERT on the east coast as we say in NY FAGETABOUTIT. It is not good for the long term. Windmills are the same Not to mention NOSIY. oh THEY ALSO RAISE THE LOCAL TEMP. because they run HOT.So lets keep having trains DERAIL and KEEP us dependant on the mid. east (Yeah we love funding those terrorist) of building the Keystone pipeline. Now That’s a smart move obummer!!!

  • RoscoeBonifitucci

    The Moron in the White House is a Petulant Idealogue. He wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him in the head. His actions are contrary to the good of the Nation and he needs to be RESISTED by all means necessary from doing any more harm to the Nation. Solar is good…in about 20 years from now, and will be GREAt in about 30 years. But…NOT YET!

    • Cass Moret

      Not in 20 years, not in 30 years, not ever. Don’t be fooled; The technology has been known for years. The Carter administration spent millions investigating ways to overcome its inherent faults without success. A scientist should always be open to correction, and I won’t be around 20 years from now, but barring a stunning new development in chemistry, solar is an evolutionary dead end.

      • jreb57

        The fission of an atom of uranium produces 10 million times the amount of energy produced by the oxidation of one atom of coal according to a paper written by John McCarthy. Jane Fonda notwithstanding, nuclear power is relatively safe. Ask the US navy.

  • Wayne Peterkin

    A little common sense completely destroys solar power as a primary power source. It doesn’t work at night. Imagine powering a major city, much less a home, with batteries at night. While the idea of generating all of our needed electricity from the sun sounds utopian, it is a fairytale using today’s technology. I can understand some people supplementing their home electrical needs with some solar panels on their roof, but even then it is usually not cost effective without a large government tax write-off to help defray the cost. I’m a nuclear power advocate because I know it is safe, clean, and generates every megawatt of power reliably and at less cost than oil, natural gas, or coal, much less than wind or solar. A single two reactor nuke plant can produce up to 2400 megawatts of power which would take over 900 wind turbines running at optimum efficiency to match at a tiny fraction of the footprint in land that wind or solar requires.

    • jreb57

      Not to mention that solar panel produce low voltage direct current which must be converted to high voltage alternating current for efficient transmission. The company I worked for had a UPS which had a dc to ac converter (to convert battery DC to AC for the plant loads) The UPS only had to supply power for 20 minutes maximum so that the diesel generator could come on line. We had far more problems with the DC to AC converter than with power grid outages.

  • Cass Moret

    I was personally involved in solar research some years ago. At first glance the technology is quite appealing. A product, electricity, is produced with a free raw material, sunlight.But a detailed analysis shows that the appeal is illusory. First, solar cells are not very efficient. For every 100 units of sunlight much less than 50 units of electricity is produced. A variety of approaches have been investigated but the “best” seems to be single crystal silicon in a fixed array. But “best” is a relative term. So to produce a reasonable amount of electricity fairly large arrays are needed. Second, the cells have to be connected and packaged to protect them from damage. It turns out that the glass cover is a major cost driver. Production of plate glass is mature technology with an economy of scale from large outputs. The cost is not likely to decrease. Third, solar cell output is subject to the seasons and to the vagaries of the weather; but even in a location with lots of sunlight, peak output is at midday while in the US peak demand is in the evening. That means that battery storage is probably required. And if the cells are located in the southwest, there’s a transmission cost to get the electricity to the consumers. Fourth, Solar cells produce DC current. The US uses AC. That means that technology to make the conversion from DC to AC is needed. Add up all these costs, and you get very expensive electricity. I guarantee wherever you see an array of solar cells they are not there for an economic reason. It is a travesty that Obama and his administration are Insanely determined to restrict the use of fossil fuels and promote this exorbitantly expensive technology

    • wally12

      Good post. I agree. The costs advertised by suppliers depends on government subsidies to make them more attractive over existing fossil fuel energy sources. Obama doesn’t care. He is convinced that the green energies are the only hope for mankind. That is why he does everything in his power to make existing oil and gas as expensive as possible. Obviously, he is totally ignorant about economics and he doesn’t care that the poor are hurt the most from the high fossil fuel costs that he promotes. Thus, his answer to the poor is to provide more government assistance to the poor and soon the middle class to make up for the high energy costs. To him it is a “twofer”. The US gets green energies and the democrats get more voters as dependents from his hand outs. He fails to recognize that high energy costs result in the US being less competitive to other countries. Perhaps that is also his plan to take this nation down a few steps since he believes we obtained our power and better standard of living by corrupt means.

    • Bruce

      I have a 4kw solar panel installation on my residence, which is where the focus should be, at least in the sunnier parts of the world – it’s not much good in freezing overcast weather! Whilst it doesn’t solve the need for base load power, it has more than halved my electricity bill, and the payback is less than 3 years.

      I have also noticed I use the air-conditioning less, as the house is cooler (by at least 4Kw/hr) as the sun’s energy is converted to useful electricity instead of excess heating.

      We don’t have batteries, but the electric utility buys back excess production at about 20% of their selling price to me. Every little bit helps 😉

      Like every other technology, it needs to be applied and deployed with some commonsense, the world’s scarcest commodity!

      • Cass Moret

        As a scientist I’m always open to be corrected but I’m skeptical about your post. First, kw (as in 4 kw) is a rate, not a quantity. The quantity is kwh (kilo watt hours). You might have a car that consumes gas at a rate of 30m/gal but that tells you nothing about the quantity of gas consumed on a trip unless you know the distance. Similarly, to evaluate a solar array’s contribution to your electric consumption, you need to compare the kwh produced by the array with your total kwh.

        • MichaelSmith

          Cass, I share your skepticism about the economics of solar power. If solar could stand on its own, it would do so and government promotion of it at our expense would not be necessary.

          • Cass Moret

            As I’ve posted elsewhere, corporations exist to make money (at least the one that I worked for did). If it were profitable, companies would be rushing to get in the business. Solar can be competitive in a few cases where there is no grid; but it can’t come close to competing with the cost of what you get from your household electric socket.

        • jreb57

          “I’m skeptical”
          Me too. I am an engineer. Solar and wind are unreliable and too expensive. Not a good combination.

        • Bruce

          I do know the difference between kilowatts and kilowatt hours. My solar installation is rated at 4 kW output. i.e. It has 16 x 250w (rated) panels. It generates, typically, more than 26 kW/hrs of power in a normal summer day, less in winter and very much less on cloudy days, and obviously nothing at night. In my installation each panel has its own micro inverter to convert panel output to 250v AC. Most installations here have a single wall mounted inverter. The problem with a single inverter is that if one panel is faulty, or has birdshit on it, the whole string suffers from reduced output. Micro inverters solve this problem, amongst others, but add 10% or more to the installation. Mine cost $6000, including installation and commissioning by a reputable commercial supplier, and after government subsidies ( thanks to the greenies and warmists). With a single inverter it would cost about $5000. My installation reduces my electricity bill by $150 per month. These are Australian dollars, so deduct 25% for US$.

          I’m not involved in the industry, but just providing some real life experience to balance the input in this debate which seems to me to be lacking balance. If you’re really a scientist, you would accept an alternative point of view, with empirical data, for what it is, and perhaps modify your stance. I’m not advocating massive arrays to generate power for cities or towns. See my other post.

          • moonunit

            $6000 capital cost to save $1700 a year is a fantastic investment. I wish my portfolio got returns like that!

      • jreb57

        “some commonsense, the world’s scarcest commodity!”

        Bingo!

    • Bruce

      Further to my earlier post, domestic solar panel installations all include an appropriately sized invertor to convert the solar panel generated DC to AC, (at least in my part of the world) and, as in my case, can definitely be economic! The base load power problem can be solved by using LNG gas powered turbines (as opposed to coal/steam driven), and by hydro electric schemes with storage dams.

      In the latter case excess power produced in sunny weather is used to pump water uphill to storage dams, and then released through turbines to supply peak demand electricity. This is used in many countries around the world.

      In the former case, LNG (liquid natural gas) is used to power turbines which can be spooled up quite rapidly since you don’t have to wait for a head of steam. LNG Gas powered turbines are much cleaner than coal, and, with fracking can be used where it was never economical to do so previously.

      • Cass Moret

        Of course an invertor is needed; but that adds to the cost. I really am ready to be corrected, but only by hard data. Add up all the costs (subtract out government incentives) and I’m convinced solar is not even close to being competitive. In the US economy, corporations are profit driven. This technology has been around for over 40 years. If it were so great, how is it that it contributes such a tiny fraction to the production of electricity? If it were economically competitive I would expect to see it on the roofs of many more homes.

        • Bruce

          Visit the sunnier parts of Australia and you will see many residences, and commercial buildings, with solar panels on their roofs.

          It has been around for years, but in the last 4 years the average standard sized panel has gone from 190w to over 250w in output, and cost has come down by about 25% or more. Thanks to the Chinese…

          • Cass Moret

            OK, so there are solar panels in Australia. Is a grid available? Are there any government mandates or subsidies, including an artificially inflated price (tax) on grid electricity? Are the panels being sold below the cost of production? Is the output being sold back to the grid at an inflated price? I admit I know little about the situation in Australia, but as I understand it, government is committed to “alternative” energy because it has bought into the hoax of “global warming” er, “climate change” no wait, it’s now called “climate disturbance.”

            • Bruce

              There are no commercial solar PV power generators in Australia as far as I’m aware, even though there is a government subsidy for “alternative energy”. There are commercial wind farms, but that is another topic. The solar energy subsidy is effectively restricted to domestic and small commercial premises installations because it has a ceiling, but it is approximately 20% of the retail price of a system. There are several hundred solar system installers, all making a good living out of it. The panels are invariably of Chinese origin, and the inverters European, probably because they also use 230/250VAC and not 115VAC. Excess power is sold back to the power utilities at 8 cents a unit (kW/hr), and I pay mine 23 cents for each unit of theirs that I use, so they aren’t subsidising PV systems. Our previous left wing government had a 10 percent “climate change ” tax on fossil fuel generated electricity, but the newish conservative government had this repealed, thank goodness.

              Most people here have bought into the AGW bullshit, but with the old socialist government gone, they are thinking for themselves and have seen through the propaganda.

              Climate is changing, it always has and always will, but to believe it is due to a trace gas that is plant food, and caused by mankind, is just daft, frankly.

              If you want the truth, follow the money trail. By perpetuating the AGW hoax governments can tax you to death, redistribute wealth to the third world, and scruffy bearded socialist pseudo-scientists in academia can look forward to being paid handsomely to distort data and perpetuate their unprovable theories. That’s why they do it.

      • Tenn

        Sigh.

        This post reflects the basic ignorance of the renewable power crowd over how power is generated and used.

        The cost of power generation isn’t the fuel. That may be 25% of the cost of a power plant. The big cost is the capital expenses, and the interest, and O&M.

        So, say I want a gas plant. I pay $0.75X to build and maintain the gas plant, plus $0.25X for the gas. I change my mind and want solar. I pay $0.75X for the solar plant (not a big difference in cost) PLUS $0.75X for the gas plant back up. Now I save $0.25X in fuel, but only in theory. The solar plant only works 25% of the time. So my fuel savings at 25% of 0.25x = 0.06x.

        So, natural gas = $1X.
        Solar = $0.75X (for the solar)+$0.75X (gas plant back up) + $0.19x (gas for backup) = $1.69X

        That is 69% more expensive.

        So, solar is going to be around 1.5 to 2 times as expensive as gas alone. Lest you think this is a joke, this is exactly what Germany has found – the capital cost for the backup far outweighs the minimal cost for the fuel saved.

        For solar to make a meaningful contribution, it must cost less than the gas saved, that is solar must cost 6% of the cost of a natural gas plant alone. I don’t think that is possible.

        Let me put it another way. Say I want to save money on gas. So I buy a really efficient car. But it only runs 25% of the time. And I have to get to work. So a buy a second, less efficient car to drive on the days when the first car doesn’t work. Should I pat myself on the back at how I’m saving the environment?

  • Mervyn

    Solar and wind generated energy represent the flee on a dog. They contribute little but suck as much as they can from the host.

    • Marita K Noon

      I like the analogy. I may use it. 🙂
      Thanks!

  • Crabby

    As usual it’s all about Money and Power. Cash-Strapped Governments which spend too much “on us for our benefit” (what a joke), will use environmentalism and any other cause to rip us off so they can look good and we’ll hopefully re-elect them! Same old story as usual. In Western Australia we have had an increase of at least 50-60% in our water, electricity and Gas bills to make our Utilities more profitable so they can invest in so-called Renewables to keep the Environmentalists happy, the Utilities profitable and cleaner, and the Government richer when they eventually sell them off (privatisation).

    As a Christian, the Love of Money is the root of all evil. Governments the World over use Money to bribe us to vote for them. On the other hand, Governments LOVE inflation because that gives them more money to spend that they have ripped-off us. That is the problem with Capitalism (inherent in the name I think).
    The world over, Capitalism get’s the People to pay for everything either in Taxes,
    buying things and then getting us to throw them away because they’re “old” so we can consume more and more……. Even the Internet which is sold to us in various ways to appeal to our senses is monitored by various Governments (one in particular).

    As usual it’s ALL about Money and Power and it will come to an end shortly because of Man’s inherently Sinful nature. The Lord will bring the Corrupted Capitalist System of sale and trade to an end and then everybody will have nothing of value because all of the World’s currencies will be worth nothing. Then it will be the Job of True Christians to lead the People to the safety of the Lord. He was sacrificed for this purpose so that He could send back the Holy Ghost to cause Salvation to be available. We must live a Spiritual Life now if we, on an individual basis, want to spend eternity with Him. Many will not believe what I am saying but if anyone wants to find out more google “Revival Fellowship” for your nearest assembly. Enjoy.

    • jreb57

      “Governments LOVE inflation because that gives them more money to spend that they have ripped-off us. That is the problem with Capitalism (inherent in the name I think)”
      Capitalism creates wealth in terms of goods and services. Government prints money to represent that wealth. When the amount of money printed increases faster than the amount of wealth produced, you have inflation. Governments like inflation because they can pay back the dollars they borrowed yesterday with the cheaper, inflated money of today. This results in a hidden tax on the citizens. But that is not a problem of capitalism, that is a problem of socialism.

  • TLN2

    I have been in the energy business for over 40 years. It is good to see an article that states the facts. Even then, one must read carefully. “All NEW energy production in 2014 was from solar.” Examine that. What other type of plant can be put on line in a year? Solar accounted for very little (see comment below) of the energy consumed in the U.S. Any other plants take years to build and if one picks and chooses the year, then that sounds very impressive. But wait until the new V.C. Summer or Votgle plants come on line and see what happens to the numbers in those years. Solar cannot exist without federal subsidies. Read the article. Do you want to pay the upcoming increases in rates? Invest in nuclear and coal. Solar has its place. Like unsubsidized wells on ranches.

    • Marita K Noon

      TLN2–interesting comment on unsubsidized wells on ranches. When discussing solar’s place, I always mention that one of the largest industrial users of solar is the oil industry. Now I will add the idea that the use is unsubsidized. Thanks for the comment.

  • jreb57

    According to a Royal Academy of Engineering report on alternative energy sources, the cost of producing electricity from solar or wind powered sources would be six times greater than coal, natural gas or nuclear plants. This, notwithstanding the necessity for keeping some of these plants operational for times when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

    • moran

      If alternative energy producers were more honest and cost-effective, weaning themselves from subsidies, competition could become closer with somewhat cleaner & accepted baseload producers.

  • Sunny Choudhary

    hahahahhahahah!! i want to meet these solar skeptic idiots now.