back to article Renewables are cheaper than coal in all but one US location

If it wasn't clear before that the coal age is over, there is now just a single, solitary coal-fired power plant in the US that would be more economical to not replace with renewables, say analysts.  In its third Coal Crossover Report, researchers at Energy Innovation and UC Berkeley said there were 210 coal plants in the US, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they're reducing inflation with massive injections of cash into the economy.

    Government at work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Inflation increasing act. Or the 'pork for the lobbyists' act?

    2. Jaybus

      In this case it is corporate welfare. Power companies can get up to 60% of the cost of replacing a coal plant with solar paid for by the government. Will their customers share in that windfall? Oh no. And a huge missing piece of the equation... there is no expectation that the new solar plant produce as much electricity as the coal plant that it is replacing. So what happens to the price of electricity when the capacity shrinks? Great deal for the power companies, though.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        -- there is no expectation that the new solar plant produce as much electricity as the coal plant that it is replacing --

        Or as consistently!

      2. SotarrTheWizard
        Mushroom

        Don't remind me. .

        . . . my current Utility penalizes me for any electricity use beyond 60% of the "Average American Household', by charging an additional 50% penalty on all "excess" usage between May 1st and October 31st. It's supposedly an incentive to "conserve". They wouldn't be doing it if they had sufficient generating capability. . .

        1. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Don't remind me. .

          . . . my current Utility penalizes me for any electricity use beyond 60% of the "Average American Household', by charging an additional 50% penalty on all "excess" usage between May 1st and October 31st. It's supposedly an incentive to "conserve". They wouldn't be doing it if they had sufficient generating capability.

          Oh, but of course the Utility would charge you extra, as long as they can justify it in some unassailable way, Why do you ascribe it to insufficient generating capacity instead of the Occam's Razor explanation of "because they can"?

          1. SotarrTheWizard

            Re: Don't remind me. .

            Well, because at the last three member meetings (we're in a Electric Co-op), the board voted down proposals for expanded peak generating capacity at existing sites, rather than buy electricity from other groups on the spot market as needed. . .

      3. gandalfcn Silver badge

        "with solar paid for by the government." using the tax money previously used to subsidise the fossil fuel industry.

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Dear downvoter the fossil fuel industries have been getting subsidised to the tune if more than $6 trillion annually, didn't you know? Amazing!

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Yes, I was wondering if I'd misread the article - shouldn't the headline read

      GOVERNMENT FUNDING MAKES RENEWABLES ARTIFICIALLY CHEAPER

      I don't know but it would be interesting to see the comparison with all subsidies, grants etc removed from BOTH SIDES

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        "all subsidies, grants etc" Grants etc. to renewables are minor, short lived and temporary whereas fossil fuels have been subsidised trillions for rather a long time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Tax benefits are not subsidies.

    4. I miss PL/1

      Welcome to Bidenomics. It's only design is to win the next election. Not to improve the climate.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        The fossil fuel industries have been getting subsidised to the tune if more than $6 trillion annually, didn't you know? Amazing!

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    So in conclusion

    Coal only needs $12/MWh in subsidies

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: So in conclusion

      So, in summary... Coal is cheaper because there are massive subsidies. You could subsidise putting guinea pigs onto a treadmill and make that appear cheaper too.

      Such a misleading headline.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: So in conclusion

        What is pretty well universally ignored is the $6+ trillion annual taxpayer funded subsidies the fossil fuel industries receive. The she short term help renewables have received is miniscule in comparison.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: So in conclusion

          The majority of those 'subsidies' are not direct and that number appears to come from an NGO based on an estimated impact to the environment and health and is not 'money given by the govt to fossil fuel companies'. The largest of the 'subsidisers' being China.

          I know the data is a bit old but this shows renewables and energy efficiency gets the majority of the pie:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies_in_the_United_States

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: So in conclusion

            No. They are subsidies and they have been keeping the price of fossils artificially low, and alternatives artificially high.

            "The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed."

            "The G20 agreed in 2009 to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and in 2016, the G7 set a deadline of 2025, but little progress has been made. In July, a report showed that the G20 countries had subsidised fossil fuels by trillions of dollars since 2015, the year the Paris climate deal was reached"

            "The largest of the 'subsidisers' being China"?????????? Is it? The PRC is the "subsidiser" of nuclear, wind and solar. The PRC invests more in clean energy than the next 3 highest countries combined. Wind, solar, thorium reactors, gen IV reactors, etc. while the western world argues about whether AGW is even real and if anything should even be done about it. (Other than waiting and hoping for the end of the world so the magical sky fairy can come back and take us ‘home')

            1. gandalfcn Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              The person who thinks the IMF is some minor NGO obviously doesn't like the facts.

              1. blackcat Silver badge

                Re: So in conclusion

                Who said minor NGO? The IMF is a self interest group who like being rich. Anyway...

                https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/climate-change/energy-subsidies

                "Subsidies are decomposed into explicit and implicit subsidies"

                "Implicit subsidies occur when the retail price fails to include external costs and/or there are preferential consumption tax rates on energy"

                "Just 8 percent of the 2020 subsidy reflects undercharging for supply costs (explicit subsidies) and 92 percent for undercharging for environmental costs and foregone consumption taxes (implicit subsidies)."

                So of those trillions only 8% is actual tax breaks and money given, the rest is 'what we think it really costs' according to the IMF.

                https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs

                "The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report estimates 6.5 percent of global GDP ($5.2 trillion) was spent on fossil fuel subsidies (including negative externalities) in 2017, a half trillion dollar increase since 2015. The largest subsidizers are China ($1.4 trillion in 2015), the United States ($649 billion) and Russia ($551 billion)."

                1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                  Re: So in conclusion

                  And, of course, while the renewables lobby are happy to use figures that include externalised costs to show that fossil fuels get massive subsidies, I've yet to ever see a renewables lobby puff piece that admits to the externalised costs of solar and wind. Specifically, you usually get "wind and solar are really cheap" - talking only about the direct costs as the lecky leaves their site. What they are happy to ignore are the massive costs imposed on all the rest of the system that has to fill in the gaps - you know, when the sun goes down, and the wind ain't blowing (the right sort of wind).

                  What I'd love to see would be a supplier offer a real green offering, and see what the take-up is. It would have to base supply on availability - so (for example) buy the output from specific sites and sell it, and only it, on. The catch being - if the wind isn't blowing right and/or the sun isn't shining, you have to reduce consumption, and if customers don't keep total demand below what the contracted sites produce, then some (or all) get turned off remotely. So yeah, have a cheap green wind based supply tariff - but the lights go out if the wind doesn't oblige.

                  I rather suspect that very few of the "all we need are more windmills and solar panels" brigade would buy into it.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              "The PRC invests more in clean energy than the next 3 highest countries combined."

              They need to do that to combat the health costs from air so polluted that it even affects people of the working age group. China is also many times larger in land area and population than the next 3 highest countries. This is a place where it could be more telling to look at the investment as a percentage of GDP rather than the amount of money.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: So in conclusion

      when gummints control prices based on politics, you get "what we have now", energy prices doubled from what they were 2 years ago but NOW "renewables cost less".

      Wheee.

      (My gas+electric bill is over $800 thanks to this kind of nonsense)

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: So in conclusion

        My gas & electric bill was going up 50% a year thanks to the local power company doing whatever the hell it feels like without much government interference.

        I'm about net zero annually with solar, a battery, and buying better appliances when the old ones wear out. If winter rates or credits become less regulated, I can buy more panels, storage, and home insulation to keep the crazy energy rates away.

        1. laughfactory

          Re: So in conclusion

          Except if you pencil out what you're spending in solar it will make the utility bill look cheap. Plus, since the only way to produce solar affordably is by strip mining Asia and using Uighur slave labor you're basically complicit in environmental destruction and slavery. So... Yeah, even if solar was cheaper I wouldn't want to have any part in it.

          1. Crypts Bloods

            Re: So in conclusion

            You really drank the Kool aid. What do you think it takes to build a coal fired plant? Not only is the construction dirty, but it is dirty it's whole life. Solar on the other hand produces pollution during manufacture and then that is it. Thirty plus years of clean power. In spite of much propaganda to the contrary, it is not even close.

            1. grandours

              Re: So in conclusion

              Solar is intermittent, but energy demand is constant. Therefore wind and solar both require other sources of energy such as coal or natural gas peaker plants, so construction of those also needs to be accounted for when figuring out the total environmental footprint. What we really need is massive investment in nuclear power, as well as geothermal in areas where sufficiently hot rock is close enough to the Earth's surface. Those will both provide the necessary constant baseload power.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: So in conclusion

                "Solar is intermittent, but energy demand is constant."

                That's part of the problem. People that are living off-grid or working towards that will put off doing laundry if they aren't generating enough power that day so they don't drain their battery bank or cause the generator to kick on. They are always considering how they are using their resources. The rest of us don't often think about energy usage, we just flip the switch and expect there to be leccy in as much quantity as we want.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: So in conclusion

            "Except if you pencil out what you're spending in solar it will make the utility bill look cheap."

            Not when you take it out 45 or 50 years it doesn't. Even with two battery changes in that time, my power needs will still cost less than a third of that which I'd have to pay PG&E (possibly MUCH less, given past and current rate increases). Put another way, it will have paid for itself in around a dozen years (including two future battery changes), giving me 35 or 40 years or more of "free" electricity. And more if the electronics are still in good enough shape for a third battery change. My daughter has already thanked me.

            "Plus, since the only way to produce solar affordably is by strip mining Asia and using Uighur slave labor you're basically complicit in environmental destruction and slavery."

            My PV system was made entirely in North America. Silicon, phosphorus and boron aren't exactly rare here on Planet Earth.

            "So... Yeah, even if solar was cheaper I wouldn't want to have any part in it."

            Ignorance is as ignorance does.

            For a look at a similar to mine, completely off-grid whole-house solution, take a look at what these people are doing clear across the country from me. Note that the guy with the beard is a certified electrician, and this setup passes all applicable laws and insurance requirements for their jurisdiction. Also note that they upgraded the system mid-stream, increasing the power capability and getting rid of the fscking useless used Tesla batteries in favo(u)r of the technologically vastly superior LiFePO. They are running their entire house, with normal appliances, off their setup.

            https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7klqOTp1a9wv-2EYae6dzzf663mCvvj

            Note that each homeowner's situation is different, claims vary wildly, and nobody really has all the answers.

            Tesla::spit:: claims 5,000 cycles @ 96% for the Powerwall2's LiNMC battery. Somehow, I doubt this. The Lion Energy "Sanctuary" units that I use claim 6,000 @ 90% for their LiFePO4 battery. We'll see ... But I have seen claims of 10,000 cycles @ 90% for competing LiFePO4 batteries ... That could be 30 years, near enough. Again, I doubt this ...

            Your guess is as good as mine as to what this translates to in the RealWorld. All I know is that I no longer have PG&E meters, and never will again.

            One other thing ... even on days with heavy over-cast and rain (such as solstice to mid-January this year), my system was charging at just under 3kW. The propane powered auxiliary power plant only had to run a couple of times, for a couple hours each time. It is sized to power the entire house, while simultaneously re-charging the LiFePO bank as efficiently as possible. (I already owned the genset.)

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              "The propane powered auxiliary power plant"

              Hehe, always gotta have that fossil fuel backup ;)

              I watched those vids, they have a nice system. Supposedly cost them $15k which seems very cheap but then I'm not in the USA. I'd always been of the opinion that installed solar in the US was HORRIFICALLY expensive, probably due to companies overcharging and the abundance of subsidies that artificially keep the list prices high. (we had the same here) And this could also be that only the utter ripoff systems make the news like one person being charged $50k for a 4kW system and then being told they can't use it cos the installers didn't get any permits or inspections.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: So in conclusion

                The propane power will run on corn (maize), just as soon as I get a round tuit. The propane-to-ethanol conversion on that particular genset is an easy change. I'm planning on keeping the two 1000 lb (800ish gallon) propane tanks full for emergencies (they are buried, not eyesores) ... converting back is also easy (about an hour either way, including testing). It will also run on gas/petrol if I jet it correctly and adjust the fuel pressure ... but keeping bulk propane around is far less of a headache than storing gas/petrol (or diesel) long-term.

                Remember, the guy on the Toob of Yew did all his own work (with the help of his very willing to learn wife) ... and I did all my own (with my wife's help), too. The cost of labor to install these things is typically well over half the total cost. He also undoubtedly got deals because he's doing some advertising for the companies. Some of the pieces in my system were bought second-hand, never used and in box, for less than half list price. Also ask about factory returns and refurbs.

                Permits can be gawd-awful expensive in some parts of the country. You're on your own in your jurisdiction ... however, a reputable solar company will be able to give you pointers to smooth things along. Again, ask around. Another place to ask is anyone local who has visible panels. I actually drove around and knocked on doors of people I didn't know. Every single one of them was willing to talk to me about their system, and usually quite enthusiastically. Obviously, YMMV ... we're pretty laid back here in Northern California.

                Inspections aren't really a problem, as long as you are capable of following instructions. Most solar manufacturers/sellers have a telephone number you can call for help. Some will actually come out to your site for hands-on instruction if you get stuck. Ask around, squeaky wheel and all that.

                Once done, my insurance company came out, looked it over, and promptly dropped my rates because I likely won't be making a claim for spoiled food after we have a major earthquake (I live less than 1,000 yards from the Rodgers Creek Fault, probable home of California's next big one).

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: So in conclusion

                  I'd stick to the propane, maize ethanol is worse for CO2 unless you go get yourself a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line :)

                  I did my own install too. Yes, the installer costs can be HUGE especially as in the UK most houses are two floors or more now and you can't just walk about on the roof in the same way. You will beak tiles/slates or fall off and die. I have a separate garage with a low roof so used that as I had a friend with a small scaffold tower to help.

                  There is some second hand stuff available in the UK but it isn't common. Mostly panels. Second hand inverters are ebay only really. Battery storage is very new in the UK so still waiting for a used market. I did look into using second hand panels but the sizes available didn't make best use of the space and the saving was only a couple of hundred.

                  Regs are not too bad here if you are under 4kW. Over that and its treated like a grid scale install which I think is silly. We don't export (or at least try not to) and any excess goes into heating water as this works out better in terms of ££. The feed in paid by the supplier is pitiful now. I designed my own dump load controller. It needs some work :)

                  "a reputable solar company"

                  I think the issue is these people didn't use one of those. There have been some scammers in the UK installing systems in places where there is shadowing and other issues so that the actual power is far less than stated.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: So in conclusion

                    "ethanol is worse for CO2 unless you go get yourself a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line"

                    Nope. My ethanol production and use is a net carbon sink. First of all, a good portion of the carbon in corn comes out of the atmosphere in the first place; returning it would be net zero. Secondly, the bulk of the carbon in the plants is left behind in the fields, where it gets ploughed under (I'm building up the organic content of the top 18 inches of soil, or thereabouts). So overall, I'm actually sequestering carbon while still using internal combustion engines. The greens hate that, go figure.

                    Only takes about a tablespoon (15ml) of active yeast to turn a bushel of corn into about 2.75 gallons of ethanol. Less will work ... eventually. (Note that the yeast pitched to fermentables ratio can be completely different to that you would expect for beer or wine ... it's not like we're drinking the stuff. It's FUEL.)

                    Copper pipe is available at any hardware store. I use something a trifle more complicated. Legally. Even in California. Before you ask, the heat is provided by a GSHP.

                    For more, see this post from earlier today.

                    1. blackcat Silver badge

                      Re: So in conclusion

                      You obviously don't live down copperhead road :)

                      Cool, I didn't think it would be economic on a small scale to make bio ethanol. The industrial crap they are forcing into road fuel is carbon positive but it doesn't stop them pushing more and more as it is seen as 'green' to the lay person.

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: So in conclusion

                    To be clear, I wouldn't purchase panels second-hand, nor the electronics, nor the batteries (unless I knew the person I was purchasing them from, and the history of the parts). I was talking about wire and cables, conduit and races, various switch, breaker and transfer panels, lightning protection, copper bus bars, perhaps the genset and attendant kit, the hardware to tie it all together, etc. ...

                    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                      Re: So in conclusion

                      "I wouldn't purchase panels second-hand, nor the electronics,"

                      The electronics likely work or they don't. If you have some recourse if it turns out they don't work, buying used can be fine. I've picked up a few used panels and have no problem with that. I won't pay top dollar, but $.25/watt will mean that the odd underperforming panel isn't a big deal. I happen to have a load tester that I take with me and can plug panels in to read how they are working. Many panels have the date of manufacture on them so you can avoid 20yo stuff if you aren't just looking for something cheap to play with. Where I am there are a couple of vendors that buy large lots of panels the commercial power companies are getting rid of when they upgrade. He's more than happy to let people pick and test the panels from the stacks and buy the ones they like as long as they are neat and careful. If they start making a mess, the courtesy ends.

                  3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: So in conclusion

                    ""a reputable solar company"

                    I think the issue is these people didn't use one of those. There have been some scammers in the UK installing systems in places where there is shadowing and other issues so that the actual power is far less than stated."

                    The only proper way I see going to solar is to first have a professional evaluation done by somebody that doesn't sell anything but that service. I have plenty of friends that have been way overquoted for solar systems, over-specced and had designs that were never going to work based on their inadequate roof (multi-pitched). Lucky for me I can do the assay work myself and the first parts of my solar install is just going to run a freezer and an evap cooler/water pre-heat. I should be using darn near 100% of installed capacity with maybe just a smidge of margin.

                  4. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

                    Re: So in conclusion

                    Now Daddy ran whiskey in a big block Dodge...

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: So in conclusion

                  "Inspections aren't really a problem, as long as you are capable of following instructions. "

                  It's a good investment to hire a sparky or seasoned plumber to help lay out your system and do a pre-inspection check. A local will know what the inspectors often nit pick. While they'd like the work, they won't mind making $100/hour to dispense some knowledge. It could cost more than that to have the inspector come back if you've failed an inspection. It can also take a fair amount of time to get an inspector to come out in some places.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: So in conclusion

                "Hehe, always gotta have that fossil fuel backup ;)"

                If you have a freezer full of food, not having a backup can mean a pile of money hitting the rubbish bin or some serious health issues. I've got my eye on a small diesel engine I can run off of used motor oil as a backup.

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: So in conclusion

                  I have a little petrol generator to keep the fridge and freezers running as I live out in the sticks and we have unreliable supply at times. Battery storage is on my todo list. I was just amused that my theory that every 100% renewable system has a backup gen somewhere, be it grid scale or small, is 100% true.

            2. Airstreamer

              Re: So in conclusion

              Lithium Titanate Oxide batteries are another form that offers very high number of cycles (20k plus) along with even higher discharge / charge rates, (10 to 50 'C' rates,) and operate in a much wider temperature range than LiFePo.

              The main drawback at this time is cost, and a lower energy density rather limits use in mobile applications. They are even more stable than LiFePo, and the ability to operate down to -40°C is very attractive for off grid use in harsh climates.

              For stationary battery systems, the lower energy density isn't as much of an issue as is the cost, however, they don't have that nice flat voltage curve, so the electronics needs to be setup to deal with that as well..

              The BIG bugaboo with almost ALL of the so called 'green' energy is the variable nature of the beast. Once energy storage improves, (perhaps pumped vanadium electrolyte,) then it will make much more sense to avoid the carbon cycle.

              BTW, in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Central Washington, public utility districts that invested years ago in hydro, have the cheapest power rates in the country. Less than 2.9 cents per kWh for residential use, with industrial rates that can be even less than that.

              In the infinite wisdom of the occupants of the Pugetopian corridor, (primarily Seattle and it's surrounding population of moonbats,) the people of Washington State passed a referendum declaring hydro to be 'non-renewable' thus creating all kinds of political issues that plague the entire system.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: So in conclusion

                "BTW, in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Central Washington, public utility districts that invested years ago in hydro, have the cheapest power rates in the country. Less than 2.9 cents per kWh for residential use, with industrial rates that can be even less than that."

                There is almost no solar option in the Seattle/Redmond area. I had a friend there working for a company that complained about months with just a few days of seeing the sun. Lots of rain though so plenty of gravitational potential energy to be harvested.

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              "my power needs will still cost less than a third of that which I'd have to pay PG&E"

              You also need to factor in the inevitable rate increases. Once a solar system is up and running, the money has been spent and can't go up. I spent yesterday in the garage working on another passive solar heating panel for the house. Using a combination of new and salvaged materials each panel costs me about $100 plus my time. My goal is to not only not need to pay for any heating in the winter, but to keep the house at a much more balmy temperature. Solar PV is in the plans, but even lower hanging fruit for me right now is insulation, new windows and weather sealing to get heating and cooling bills down to nothing. I will have the evaporative cooler running from solar this summer during the day as the first phase on solar PV. If I have the time and budget, I'll have a chest freezer in the garage running on solar 24/7 with some battery backup and a fallback to the mains just in case. Living in a desert city might actually make it easier to go off-grid than in a more temperate climate zone. Just being able to use the swamp cooler saves shed loads of money over even a heat pump. I also get many days of bright sun to harvest.

      2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: So in conclusion

        Good lord, bob, how do you even manage that?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: So in conclusion

          He probably feels it is his patriotic duty to not insulate his house and keep it at 75F (i.e. freedom units) all winter long to support the fossil fuel industry!

          My mom lives in a poorly insulated 50 year old 5000 sq ft house she keeps at 72F (22C) all winter and it "only" costs her $400 a month - and that was with it getting well below zero F for nearly a week earlier in the winter. I can't imagine what Bob is doing to spend so much on heat unless he lives in a 10K sq ft plus McMansion in Fargo, ND.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: So in conclusion

            >He probably feels it is his patriotic duty to not insulate his house and keep it at 75F (i.e. freedom units) all winter long to support the fossil fuel industry!

            By burning more coal he is creating global warming (which doesn't exist and is a liberal plot / or does exist but is due to China) - so creating warmer winters for people who can't afford to heat their homes

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              We have been relatively lucky in Europe with the self inflicted 'energy crisis' that it has (so far) been relatively mild.

              1. Tom 7

                Re: So in conclusion

                More importantly the AGW inspired instabilities have enable wind to produce record amounts of power this winter.

            2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              Re: So in conclusion

              As an alternative the previously shoutey one could be talking about business costs.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: So in conclusion

          "Good lord, bob, how do you even manage that?"

          He lives in California, Land of the Fee.

          Now ask me why I spent the money to cut all ties with PG&E.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So in conclusion

        My relatives had a house like that. Turns out houses built over 100 years ago had no insulation, anywhere, at all. Fully insulating the house paid for itself in less than one year.

        My own electric bill has gone up over 50% in the last year.

      4. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: So in conclusion

        They went up because "Shell makes ‘obscene’ $40bn in profits"

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: So in conclusion

          "They went up because "Shell makes ‘obscene’ $40bn in profits""

          Pour a nice hot cup of perspective. How much revenue did Shell have and what is that $40bn as a percentage of that revenue? Many oil companies are massive multi-national businesses and while their profits sound like an "obscene" amount of money to the average person, it's only a very nominal percentage of their overall revenue and inline with what many other businesses make. If it were obscene, more companies would get into the business of oil since there'd be a whole lotta room to compete on price.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: So in conclusion

      "Coal only needs $12/MWh in subsidies"

      What that actually means is that the politicians are discounting back the money that the coal industry gives them for their "campaigns".

  3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    A few minor points that jumped out at me.. Other than this being a sales pitch for the $600bn on offer in the 'Inflation Reduction Act'.

    Figure 2. Impact of tax credits on local solar LCOEs in our analysis, including the energy community bonus. The yellow diamond indicates the average cost of each resource (weighted by generation). With the IRA, the economic case for local solar becomes unequivocal.

    Yes, well. The figure shows that solar is around $6/MWh more expensive than coal, unless it's given a $20/MWh subsidy from the IRA. That subsidy is still a cost, and will have to be paid by US energy users. If carbon costs were removed from coal plants, coal would be considerably cheaper. This is the normal deception used by the 'renewables' industry. They're cheaper, only if costs are loaded onto competitors, and subsidies paid to themselves.

    Coal plants in our dataset had an average capacity factor of 46 percent, which means they ran, on average, only 46 percent of the time. This on-again, off-again operation increases wear and tear on coal plants designed for a different operating paradigm.

    This is an egregious lie. It doesn't mean what they say it means, and the advertorial doesn't give capacity factors for wind or solar. It's also a policy thing. If 'renewables' are given priority access, as in the UK, then because generation needs to match demand, non-'renewables' need to flex up/down to match wind or solar outputs. So if it's windy summer day, the need for coal (or gas, nuclear) would be lower than when there's a winter anticyclone and no wind for days at a time.

    So when non-renewables are forced to operate at less than 100% efficiency, their costs obviously increase. So coal power stations would be paying fixed overheads, despite regulators not permitting them to sell electricity. This obviously inflates the cost of coal by comparison. By contrast..

    We find that the savings generated by shifting to local solar could fund the addition of 137 GW of four-hour batteries across all plants. For this analysis, we start with a $330 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) price for the storage,

    This claim really puzzled me. It talks about solar. Solar relies on sunlight. Unless they've figured out cheap ways to use space-based sun mirrors, most nights are longer than 4hrs. The sponsors could be planning on building massive solar farms in Alaska I gues. It also does the usual trick of mixing energy and power. So..

    $330/kWh = $330m/GWh x 137 = $45.2bn just for batteries. That won't even last a night, let alone a winter anticyclone.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Some rather carefully selected numbers in that report. Averages are great for making renewables look good. The problem is they average over a much longer period than 4 hours.

      Also is the very cheap solar equipment coming from the US or somewhere with more lax environmental regulations?

      1. Jaybus

        The bill is also giving an additional 10% tax credit for buying US made solar equipment, so they're subsidizing that too.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          The bill is also giving an additional 10% tax credit for buying US made solar equipment, so they're subsidizing that too.

          Except the US doesn't really make any of that. Or if it does, regulatory, environmental and labor costs would make US panels >10% more expensive than Chinese. Unless by 'made', what they really mean is 'assembled' where the environmental costs are simply off-shored as usual. And US costs won't reduce unless there's deregulation, and neither will labor and other manufacturing costs given the 'energy crisis' and high energy prices. All largely the result of lobbying and policy failures. But this is all based on an 'Inflation Reduction Act' that does the exact opposite by printing more money to be wasted on scams like this.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            " And US costs won't reduce unless there's deregulation"

            Its not like they have much regulation in the first place. What regulation they do have seems aimed at ensuring no-one else enters the market.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Its not like they have much regulation in the first place.

              There's lots, so all the environmental regulations that would inflate the costs of panel production. Arguably those are a good thing though because manufacturing solar panels creates a lot of pollution. As does disposal given chemicals leach out when they're later dumped in landfills.

              Also noticed I made a mistake in my original post with the battery cost. That should have bee only $45.2bn x 4 or $180.8bn, or 1/3rd of the entire IRA pork barrel. That's.. a lot of batteries, especially when they'll need to be continually replaced.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "That's.. a lot of batteries, especially when they'll need to be continually replaced."

                I keep thinking that for grid-use batteries, they should be designed to be easy to recycle. Energy density isn't as big of a deal as it is for mobile applications.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "And US costs won't reduce unless there's deregulation"

            The US could do with some deregulation. Fender guitars in California has to deal with several state and federal agencies with regards to their paint plant. Each agency requires different record keeping and reports so its a full time position for somebody to make sure they stay in compliance. If it were just one agency, some manager could do the work as moment of their regular day, no itch. Those agencies also have surprise inspections that require the paint line to shut down so tests can be performed leading to more lost production hours. Forget using any good finish such as lacquer. They have to do that in Mexico where air quality is negotiable (in small unmarked bills). The downside is that the quality of the guitars made in Mexico isn't up to pro spec.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Ah yes, the old US classic of Local, State and Federal regulations disagreeing or even contradicting each other. I fully understand the need for state and local regs as the PNW is different to the southwest which is different to the north east which is different to the flatlands etc.. and you have to keep the US leviathan of a governmental structure well fed but some of these regs are costing businesses a lot of time and money and are completely pointless.

    2. Crypto Monad Silver badge

      > $330/kWh = $330m/GWh x 137 = $45.2bn just for batteries. That won't even last a night, let alone a winter anticyclone.

      They didn't say 137GWh: they said 137GW for 4 hours, which is 548GWh. So that's actually about $181bn in batteries. (Aside: the price of $330/kWh matches readily-available domestic batteries. There are inverter gubbins required on top, but I expect you'd get a bit of a discount buying that quantity of batteries)

      Those batteries won't last forever; if they last 10 years then you'll need to budget $18bn per year for ongoing replacements, although they should get cheaper over time.

      Four hours is also a reasonable time to fully charge or discharge a battery without killing it.

      So how helpful is 137GW for four hours? For US peak usage, see https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=42915

      I believe the units of these graphs are "millions of kilowatthours per hour", which is a long-winded way of saying "gigawatts".

      It's unclear how long the peak lasts after the sun has set. However it works in their favour that demand is highest during the summer months for aircon, and that there are large chunks of USA which are relatively close to the equator.

    3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      "That subsidy is still a cost, and will have to be paid by US energy users."

      Not if they go off-grid. So we'll have to outlaw that. Or just take it out of the US taxpayers pockets. Thank you, poor people, for paying my Jacuzzi's power bill.

  4. Duncan Macdonald

    Downvotes

    The Reg should have a way to downvote articles that are so selective in their quoting of "facts" just like comments may be downvoted.

    For a level playing field - no subsides for wind or solar and no carbon penalty for coal/oil or gas. If this is done then wind and solar are hopelessly uneconomic except in remote off grid areas.

    Also the price paid for wind and solar generation should be penalized due to its unreliable nature (solar is zero at night and low on cloudy days, wind power output varies widely (from zero in calm to a maximum at medium-high wind speeds then dropping to zero when the wind speed is too high for the generators)).

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: Downvotes

      Where in your analysis is the vast ponds of toxic coal ash that we’re now stuck with, forever? Or don’t you danktwits believe they exist? (Chinese plot!)

      It’s only occasionally that one bursts its banks and destroys a river system.

      Coal, gas, and oil only look cheap if you discount the permanent environmental damage.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Downvotes

        Of course all those wind turbines, solar panels and batteries are made from environment friendly materials, in environment friendly factories, using only renewable energy. right?

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Downvotes

          Shhhhh... we don't talk about that! Like how the steel foundations for the new Dogger Bank wind farm are being made in Poland which has less environmental and worker regulations than the UK.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Downvotes

          No, they're not, though they are increasingly made with renewable energy, such as in Esbjerg in Denmark. Those are one-off costs that can and should be accounted for. I'm not a huge fan of batteries for storage, and would prefer syn fuels, but even so renewables are increasingly attractive.

          1. Alumoi Silver badge

            Re: Downvotes

            Those are one-off costs...

            Of course. Parts don't deteriorate and don't need to be replaced. And every turbine will always have perfect wind and every solar panel will always get the right ammount of sun. Even at night.

            Now don't get me wrong, I have a turbine and solar system at home but I don't thnik wind and solar are what we need right now. Nuclear (fission) reactors are the way to go until we can deploy space based solar collectors. After that? Fusion, of course.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Downvotes

              Solar yields have sort of topped out but there are still lots of places to put them, though the prospect of solar thermal systems for cooling could be transformational. Yields on wind turbines continue to increase, especially offshore, where it's generally windier anyway. This means that generating capacity is less and less of an issue but storage more and more of one. Syn fuel backups would be an excellent way to manage excess capacity: these might have to be closed loop initially to avoid any abuse. But it's not inconceivable that at some point they become essential to carbon sequestration.

              Fission entails a lot of the same risks that fossil fuels do, with some of their own but for many countries the reliance on other countries for the fuel will be paramount. But, as they are also suited to base demand, they are competing directly with renewables, with their lower marginal costs. They will continue to be built and run for some time yet. But, in many, countries renewables now make better political and economic sense.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Downvotes

                Syn fuel backups would be an excellent way to manage excess capacity: these might have to be closed loop initially to avoid any abuse. But it's not inconceivable that at some point they become essential to carbon sequestration.

                I think the problem with this is the assumption that there's excess capacity. This is especially a problem with 'renewables' due to their intermittency and unpredictability. At the moment, when supply exceeds demand, we're simply forced to throw money at the 'renewables' blob via constraint payments in the UK. Basically they're bribed not to despatch power to a grid when supply exceeds demand. In normal economics, when there's no demand or excess supply, the price tends to trend towards zero.

                So instead, the 'renewables' lobby creates all sorts of solutions to the problem they've created. Syngas, or hydrogen is one proposal where there's intensive lobbying. But again assumes there's enough excess energy to produce commercially sensible quantities, at an affordable price. Especially when the 'renewables' input costs are higher than similar excess-sinking options, like off-peak nuclear. With this paper, there's also the assumption that there'll be enough excess 'renewables' capacity to do all these things, and recharge grid-scale batteries in a timely fashiion and at an affordable price. Otherwise it's just a case of stacking subsidies on top of subsidies, which pretty much guarantees higher energy costs and more inflation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Downvotes

        >Where in your analysis is the vast ponds of toxic coal ash that we’re now stuck with, forever? Or don’t you danktwits believe they exist? (Chinese plot!)

        We need coal plants to get rid of nuclear waste. If we just burn used fuel rods in them we still release less radioactivity than the coal plants already do and nobody cares

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Downvotes

      For a level playing field - no subsides for wind or solar and no carbon penalty for coal/oil or gas

      That's not the definition of a level playing field. This should include all externalities such as manufacturing, maintenance, decommissioning and cleaning up.

      The manufacturing and running costs or renewables have decreased so much that, in most cases, subsidies aren't really necessary any more. But I've yet to come across a US investment bill that wasn't full of them.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Downvotes

      "If this is done then wind and solar are hopelessly uneconomic except in remote off grid areas.

      "

      Too much of wind and solar is trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Not enough work is being done to find uses for w/s power that doesn't have a big issue with the intermittency. I can think of a couple of processes that don't have to start at 8am and be shut down by 5pm M-F. Some small foundries will work production mainly at night durning the summer when power is less expensive and just have the office open during the day.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    ...take full advantage of available IRA funds...

    For those of us of a certain generation from a certain part of the world that little phrase has a very uncomfortable meaning.

    *Shudder*

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      You mean the proud patriots of Boston who contributed to a peaceful Northern Irish cultural group committed to traditional folk pursuits and who didn't do anything like pirating DVDs that would fund terrorism ?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        You mean the proud patriots of Boston who contributed to a peaceful Northern Irish cultural group

        I remember a Giles cartoon from many years ago - a typical Boston front room (US flag one side flanked by an Irish flag), a middle-aged couple where she's clutching a newspaper showing that several people had died in an IRA bombing. She's saying something like "Just think Donald, that could have been our very own little bomb!.

        Giles was usually quite biting in a reserved English fashion.

  6. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Additionally . . .

    Communities which switch to renewables will see fewer health issues due to coal plant exhaust, the ridiculous power wielded by the fossil fuel lobby will be somewhat lessened, and, over time, financial impacts due to climate change will be lessened. Perhaps the coal-mining residents of West Virginia and Kentucky can reskill as solar panel installers, which would be less hazardous to their health as well.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Additionally . . .

      Depends if you are just moving the pollution somewhere else.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Additionally . . .

        As long as it's not in my country I don't care. After all I can always blame China and Africa for not doing something about pollution.

        /sarcasm

      2. Adrian Midgley 1

        Re: Additionally . . .

        It doesn't, because the total amount of pollution will be drastically reduced, and the type of waste to deal with will not have worldwide effects as the coal burning does.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Sloppy

    Strange. There's quite a few typos (such as "renewabales") and the blue sidebar on pg24 doesn't even finish. It's cut off in mid-sentence.

    I tried to find out how they square replacing a (relatively) small coal plant with a wind farm or solar panels, which usually requires a lot more land. I also tried to find out if they include the costs of demolishing the old building, building the new plant, and other related things. Things like coal stack chimneys are especially expensive to demolish and cart off. I didn't see anything.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Sloppy

      I didn't see anything.

      The only bits that are really relevant are IRA's offering $600bn in subsidies, and the paper's sponsors want a fat slab of that, plus the ongoing subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives. What they won't want are any liabilities, like decommisioning costs. Or compensating for deaths/serious injuries when massive battery farms catch fire and spew out flourine compounds, heavy metals and masses of pollutants. The general idea though is to make bank consulting/designing/building these turkeys, carving out revenue/subsidy streams into SPVs that can be flogged off, and leave the liabilities for some other sucker to deal with. Often that's the land owner, or if these are built on public/federal land, it'll be the taxpayers.

      It's perhaps not unsprising that double glazing sales folks dived into the 'renewables' sector.

      1. Ace2 Silver badge

        Re: Sloppy

        You’re right, we should just stay with coal. Reduced skin cancer risk, too! Hard to get a sunburn if you can’t even see the sky.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Sloppy

          There are other options than just wind/solar or gas/coal. This isn't a binary thing.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Sloppy

          You’re right, we should just stay with coal. Reduced skin cancer risk, too! Hard to get a sunburn if you can’t even see the sky.

          Good point. Again it's one of those areas where environmentalists cause climate change and pollution, rather than preventing it. Back in the day, when we had London Fog and 'pea soupers', politicians realised air pollution was a BadThing(tm), and brought in Clean Air Acts. And lo, the air cleared, and it got warmer. Who would ever have thought that?

          Then, when they decided coal was still bad, almost as bad as ultra-low carbon nuclear, they realised promoting windmills and solar would generate millions in donations. So in the UK, we had this fiasco-

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsnorth_power_station#Protests

          Where Greenpeace sponsored economic terrorism against critical national infrastructure, in order to promote their sponsor's products instead. So the replacement was never built, the power station was demolished, many jobs were lost. Greenpeace celebrated their victory and later bought themselves a new diesel powered yacht.

          Problem with coal though is a lot of coal power stations are old. They could be replaced by modern designs that are more efficient, less polluting, and cheaper & more reliable than 'renewables'. Kingsnorth tried to do this, Greenpeace's neo-luddites said 'no', and prevented it. They had more success in Germany, at least until Germany finally realised the fundamental weaknesses of 'Green' snake oil, and have started building new coal power stations instead. Like the UK, Germany has coal. What it doesn't have is enough wind or solar to power it's economy, let alone the energy demands of a forced conversion to electricity caused by economically insane policies like 'Net Zero'.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Sloppy

            "Problem with coal though is a lot of coal power stations are old. They could be replaced by modern designs that are more efficient, less polluting, and cheaper & more reliable than 'renewables'."

            The issue is what company is going to want to put up the funds to build a new coal plant at this point? With all of the failed lawyers that have no education in science or business getting into political office, chances are too high that a new coal plant, no matter how clean, won't be allowed to operate long enough to see a return on the investment. Even current plants that are hitting heavy maintenance intervals are being shut down as the cost to do the refit is more than can be earned back before new laws come into effect that require more modifications. Those new laws have come around to bite a few politicians in the backside as power is going to be scarce in some areas as coal plants are retired earlier than anticipated and before some sort of replacement has been sorted.

        3. Adrian Midgley 1

          skin cancer and coal

          One of the earliest industrial diseases recognised was cancer of the (skin of the) scrotum in people working with coal burning.

          (Another was the lung damage from people digging the stuff out of the ground)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sloppy

      "Things like coal stack chimneys are especially expensive to demolish and cart off. I didn't see anything."

      Not to mention the cost of cleaning the land, especially the land under the coal stockpiles. I would imagine the US solution would be to fence off the land, place signs stating the land is contamintaed, and then build the solar farm diectly on it.

      There does seem to be a constants stream of pollution and contamination scandals coming from various places in the US over many decades with supposedly respectable companys allowing or not checking for runoff into farming land or the water table.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Sloppy

        "I would imagine the US solution would be to fence off the land, place signs stating the land is contamintaed, and then build the solar farm diectly on it."

        That sounds like a good use for tainted and marginal land. At least it's much better than putting a layer of soil over the top and building a housing tract, school or hospital on that patch.

  8. Kev99 Silver badge

    Don't tell Manchin this. He's more concerned about his back pocket than about the health and welfare of a few hundred million people. Which reminds me. I don't remember him doing anything for all the black lung disease patients.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete and total garbage...and other make'y up'y numbers "study".

    As someone who has been reading the various California PUC reports since the 1980's and watched with increasing amusement the greater and greater accounting and financial contortions they have been using to try to hide the full cost of "renewable" a.k.a the "unreliables" and the huge costs they push onto the "dependable' traditional power gen I call total BS on the "study" this piece is based on.

    Every single one of these studies in the last 30 plus years has added a whole new dimension to the term cherry-picking data. When not just making up numbers based on frankly stupid models that do little more than linear extrapolation on very simplistic models.

    Here is one simple fact. After an almost 50 year push since the mid 1970's and well over $100 billion spent directly and indirectly on "renewables" in the state of California alone more than 90% (often 95%+) of all power used to recharge those few EV's (mostly owned by rich white folk) in the state will be generated by "non-renewable" power gen plants. And the swing producers are - the coal fired power plants in Utah. Because they are even cheaper than spooling up extra capacity in a natural gas power plant. By far the cheapest in state generator of power. When all the deliberately piled on financial handicaps are ignored.

    At least in California all "renewable" power does is produce intermittent and unreliable amounts of power mostly when demand is lowest and must have an equal amount of online back up capacity available at all times. For when it regularly fails. Oh yeah, and it also destabilizes the grid.

    I dont know which is more stupid. The idea itself or the people who make such delusional claims for it. Against all economic, financial and engineering reality.

    Its a bloody stupid idea. And always will be. If carbon is so evil build nukes and hydro. Oops cant do that. Because of CalEPA etc. Lets shutdown Diablo Canyon because the cooling water outflow might disturb some fish. I can assure you I am not making this up. Thats 10% of all power gen capacity for the state.

    Not just idiots but irresponsible dangerous idiots.

    1. Dimmer Silver badge

      Re: Complete and total garbage...and other make'y up'y numbers "study".

      Not just idiots but irresponsible dangerous idiots that never are inconvenienced by their decisions.

      FIFU

  10. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Do those "production cost" numbers

    include storing the power (somehow) until it is actually needed?

    Cause solar doesn't do quite so well at night or in January....

  11. Ace2 Silver badge

    In my previous house, if you drilled a hole in the plaster ceiling, coal dust would come out - decades after it left widespread use. It’s filthy and dangerous, and those of you who seem to love it so much should try eating some with your breakfast cereal.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      ...should try eating some with your breakfast cereal.

      I dunno, it may complement the flavor of the mealworms and crickets the ecofreaks want to force us to eat. Or it may be like 'Magic Spoon', and contain no cereals at all. Or once every bit of previously productive land is covered by windmills and solar panels, there just won't be enough food to go around anyway.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        The farm land is busy being overtaken with maize and rapeseed for biofuels as it pays better than feeding people.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "I dunno, it may complement the flavor of the mealworms and crickets the ecofreaks want to force us to eat. "

        The RICH ecofreaks. A bag of dried bugs is stupid expensive per gram. For less, I can eat steak. For a little bit more, I can eat Wagyu steak. The last time I had ginger-fried crickets they didn't agree with me. It might have also been the Sake which led to the eating of said crickets. I've eaten enough unusual things to not be too disturbed about eating bugs, but the cost is a huge issue along with digestive and elimination effects.

  12. Filippo Silver badge

    Many of us would really like to move away from coal.

    I, for one, am not happy with reports that make bombastic headlines by massaging numbers. Like this one.

    Far from making renewables look good, they undermine confidence instead when they get holes poked through.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But El Trumpo says...

    That Windmills are the most expensive form of power generation and they kill all the birds and give people cancer.

    That must be right because Trump said so.

    Or that is what 50+% of the US Population will believe and have been brainwashed to believe.

    TBH, the sooner he is indicted, tried and jailed the better but his fanatical cult followers will not let that happen. They can't have their Messiah behind bars... perhaps they should read their bibles a bit more and look at what someone else did for the greater good...

    Oh silly me. When has 'The Donald' done anything for anyone other than himself?

    Answers on a pinhead please.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: But El Trumpo says...

      Ahh doctor we have a genuine case of TDS

    2. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: But El Trumpo says...

      "and they kill all the birds"

      Yes, this is true.

      I do love the counterclaim by the greens about how domestic cats kill birds and no-one cares so why care about wind turbines killing birds? Cats don't kill eagles or hawks or other really big birds. In the rural parts of the US it is not unusual for cats to be attacked or even killed by some of the really big birds.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: But El Trumpo says...

        I do love the counterclaim by the greens about how domestic cats kill birds and no-one cares so why care about wind turbines killing birds?

        There should at least be equality. If a common duck dies in a coal/oil settling pond, environmentalists are outraged and there's big fines. When protected birds like eagles are killed by windmills, it's protecting the environment. As it is when birds fly into solar-thermal plants and catch fire. Streamers don't get charged fines. Or when birds confuse reflective fields of solar panels for water, and fly into those. Or protected bats killed by barotrauma or collision when they get too close to windmills. Or windmills actually cause climate change due to vertical mixing of the boundary layer, affecting the land downwind of them. Or the Bbc has a story about another beached whale. Is it possible they're being confused by all the mechanical noise from offshore windmills?

        Strange the way something that's supposed to save the environment and generate profits has so much environmental impact, especially compared to alternatives.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: But El Trumpo says...

          Again it is the 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. To most 'muricans the bald eagle only exists in books and on TV. They've never seen one in real life as these people live in the urban hellscape that is US cities. They see the odd little bird flying about but that is about it. They don't venture into the wilderness to see these things for real.

          Now if someone was actively hunting eagles there would be outrage.

          1. Willie T

            Re: But El Trumpo says...

            "venture into the wilderness"? I live in a very suburban part of the United States and we have several bald eagle nests in this area, frequently they fly over my backyard at treetop level. We also have scores and scores of windmill farms just a few miles away on farmland (where they don't interfere at all with the crops being grown all around them) and the bald eagles seem to be thriving and growing in numbers every year.

            If a particular animal species was literally being driven to extinction by something, like the pesticides that have been banned because they caused bird eggs to fail to hatch, that would be one thing. But we have for generations allowed things that kill some animals indiscriminately - as long as the numbers are low and the benefit outweighs the harm (in public opinion): airplanes, automobiles, coal plants, etc.

            So, don't blame tree-hugging eco-freaks for accepting bird deaths for clean energy, this trade-off has been going on for generations before anyone cared about the environment.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: But El Trumpo says...

            Bald Eagle live cam:

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsFgbVuhRrPV5FqyN7kOD8g

            The eggs should be hatching soon.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: But El Trumpo says...

          The solar-thermal concentration plants are turning out to be more of a problem than they're worth. The mirror fields do look like bodies of water which may be drawing birds in. I haven't noticed solar PV fields near me attracting birds as much as power poles. My garden compost pile is turning into a squirrel hotel so just about anything man does is going to affect the wildlife.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: But El Trumpo says...

            The molten salt thermal plants are a good idea but as you say the mirrors tend to attract the birds. The straight to steam plants are utterly useless as they rely on gas to warm up in the morning and to keep the system going if there is an intermittently cloudy sky.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: But El Trumpo says...

              "The molten salt thermal plants are a good idea"

              They sound good but the ones on the California/Nevada border along I-15 are off again and have never earned money. If the salt solidifies in the system, it's a bugger to get going again. A molten salt version might have some promise, but designs so far have had big issues if anything goes off-nominal.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: But El Trumpo says...

        "In the rural parts of the US it is not unusual for cats to be attacked or even killed by some of the really big birds."

        My last cat was terrified of the local ravens. She adopted me when she was very young (just showed up) and must have had some close calls. It explained her goal of being strictly a house cat. She would venture a meter or so from the front door and dart back in if a raven flew over or dogs were barking. We have lots of coyotes in the ara too. She did like to talk to the small birds out the window, which was hilarious.

  14. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I'm all in favor of getting rid of coal, which is probably the dirtiest way to produce electricity.

    However, can we compare a power plant with renewables sources, when the latter ones are intermittent? To get the same functionality, there's a need of energy storage, either through batteries, mechanical storage (water pumped to some height then released through an alternator for instance...).

  15. laughfactory

    I don't understand why none of the folks who push electric cars and solar and wind are at all bothered by how it's only possible by the environmental destruction of impoverished Asian countries and utilization of Uighur slave labor and child labor. If we are really anti-slavery, and anti-child labor, and anti-enviromental devastation then, in theory, it seems like we'd unite against EVs, wind, and solar until and unless it can be produced in an ethical manner.

    Otherwise it just looks like the height of virtue signalling and hypocrisy and an utter lack of ethics.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Simple, we just don't care. So long as we can put a thin veneer of green on something we are satisfied. It is a cult.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/business-64376727

  16. Kev18999

    This is just another siphoning of tax money to the elite who push the false narrative about energy and climate change.

  17. Willie T

    I know you don't like it, but...

    Easy to say government subsidies are making renewable more competitive and cry foul. But the fact is the subsidies are for investing in renewables and for switching costs, not for ongoing operations. Renewables became more efficient cost-wise than coal some time ago, with major improvements in technology and materials as well as cost improvements from scale. But the cost of swapping out coal has always been prohibitive. So, the subsidies remove that barrier.

    You can be in love with coal, hate renewables, believe all the FUD around the switch, but it is simple economics tied to public policy. If a majority of people think we need to reduce burning coal to fight pollution and slow climate change (they do) and if public policy wonks have determined it will take government investment through tax breaks to make that happen (they have) then we get where we are today. In the future energy will cost less at the point of generation and will save other intangible costs in health benefits of cleaner air. Unless you happen to be one of the unlucky ones to get that "windmill cancer" our former President (sic) warned us about.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: I know you don't like it, but...

      In the UK they are subsidising the running. It is a cash cow as you get tax breaks to build and then get paid no matter if you generate or not.

      And it doesn't matter how many people believe the FUD, no sun and no wind means no electricity.

      http://gilescartoons.co.uk/cartoon.asp?cartoon=507

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even a 10lb bag couldn't hold this load of you know what.

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