Episode 26 — Tilting at Windmills — Unintended Consequences — Chapter 9 Part 3
Number 2 — Tilted Economics
I understand why power companies cooperated with the rush to wind power. For one thing, renewables were demanded by a misinformed public led by many of the “green” organisations whose goals I support, but not their methods.
33% efficient windmills have received subsidies of USD 56 per Megawatt hour. In comparison, 90% efficient nuclear power, which critics say is “too expensive,” receives just USD 3 per Megawatt hour.
Even the wind companies and Warren Buffett admit that without the subsidies, they’d be losers: “…on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” (2014)
“…on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Warren Buffett, 2014
“Most cost estimates for wind power disregard the heavy burden of these subsidies on US taxpayers. But if Americans realised the full cost of generating energy from wind power, they would be less willing to foot the bill — because it’s more than most people think.
“Over the past 35 years, wind energy — which supplied just 4.4% of US electricity in 2014 — has received USD 30 billion in federal subsidies and various grants. These subsidies shield people from the truth of just how much wind power actually costs and transfer money from average taxpayers to wealthy wind farm owners, many of which are units of foreign companies….”
“The solar/nuclear subsidy ratio has been 250 to 1!” — Dr. George Erickson
“Nuclear’s production tax credit (PTC) of 1.8 cents/kWhr is not indexed for inflation. PTCs for other low carbon energies are indexed. The PTC for wind is 2.3 cents/kWhr.
“Plants must be placed in service before January 1, 2021. Thanks to Nuclear Regulatory Comm. slowness, that practically eliminates any PTC for new nuclear power.
“Do you know about “renewable portfolio standards”? If government cares about young people and nature, why are these not “carbon-free portfolio standards”?
“This is a huge hidden subsidy, reaped by only renewables. There is a complex array of financial incentives for renewables. Incentives include the possibility of a 30% investment tax credit in lieu of the PTC, which provides a large “time-value-of-money” advantage over a PTC spread over 8–10 years, accelerated 5-year depreciation, state and local tax incentives, loan guarantees with federal appropriation for the “credit subsidy cost.
“Nuclear power, in contrast, must pay the full cost of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license review, at a current rate of USD 272 per professional staff hour, with no limit on the number of review hours. The cost is at least USD 100–200 million. The NRC takes a minimum of 42 months for its review, and the uncertainty in the length of that review period is a major disincentive.”
Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change, James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley, Guardian, 3 December 2015
“When supply is high and demand is low, spot prices generally fall — this is especially true in markets with high shares of renewable energy. What precipitates negative pricing are conditions which encourage energy producers to sell at an apparent loss, knowing that in the longer term [thanks largely to huge taxpayer subsidies] they will still profit.
“The Texas grid is managed by the energy agency of the same name… The market functions through auctions, where energy producers place a competitively priced bid to supply some amount of energy at a particular time and particular price…
“Various subsidies, including our U. S. federal production tax credits and state renewable energy certificates, compensate wind power producers… to such an extent that it allows wind farms to continue to make money even when selling at negative prices.”
From Clean Technica — October, 2015
We are all paying hidden costs to prop up these inefficient, deadly “alternatives” that depend on methane [Natural Gas] to produce 70% of their rated power, even though the methane [Natural Gas] leakage from fracking and the distribution system are erasing any benefits we hoped to get by avoiding coal. Furthermore, the price quoted for a nuclear plant includes the cost of decommissioning, but it isn’t for the thousands of windmills or solar farms that only last about 20 years.
Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere, by Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, 15 August 2019
Fracking wells in the US are leaking loads of planet-warming methane, by Adam Vaughan, New Scientist, 22 April 2020
Methane Leaks Erase Some of the Climate Benefits of Natural Gas, by Benjamin Storrow, Scientific America, 5 may 2020
In fact, the deck has been stacked against nuclear power by “green” profiteers and carbon lobbyists who know they cannot compete with 90% efficient, CO2-free nuclear power. Still, despite the bureaucratic handicaps on nuclear power and the support given to renewables, nuclear power is financially competitive, as the following chart reveals.
Coming up next week, Episode 27 — Fake and Vulgar
Links and References
- Next Episode — Episode 27 — Fake and Vulgar
- Previous Episode — Episode 25 — Hazards to Humans
- Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
- Dr. George Erickson on LinkedIn
- Dr. George Erickson’s Website, Tundracub.com
- The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
- Michael Specter
#UnintendedConsequences #GeorgeErickson #FissionEnergy #NuclearEnergy #TheThoriumNetwork #Fission4All #RadiationIsGood4U #GetYourRadiation2Day #NuclearEconomics #CostofElectricity #ElonMusk #WarrenBuffett