Green Energy = 40% price increase


#1

The cost of household electricity will rise by as much as 40 per cent by the end of the decade because of the Government’s green energy policies.

The figures were made public last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) following a Freedom of Information request by campaigners.
telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/11292367/Green-policies-to-add-up-to-40pc-to-cost-of-household-electricity.html

Sadly this is where we are headed in the US as well.
Where would democracy be without** FOI** requests, to get the truth out of Govt?


#2

No surprise there…


#3

The price of green energy is not only the frantic, futile attempts of Western governments to appear “green”, thus increasing the cost to consumers by subsidies on failed technologies, but also the increased orthodoxy of these technologies to the point of religious belief by some proponents.
Thus there are a crop of ugly noisy wind-farms littering the English Coast and many parts of America,Australia and Europe. The fatal flaw of wind power is that it does not generate continual flow, thus requiring at its optimal usage a backup of coal fired generation. Solar works only when the sun shines also just being an adjunct to coal fired generation. Hydro-electricity is a constant source but requires governmental planning of costly infrastructure well past the election time span of political concentration.
Nuclear is the only constant green energy, however after minor disasters in America, Russia and Japan some are reluctant to espouse such inherently dangerous source. Mindful of the successful use of such energy in Britain and Europe it is still a feasible solution to those with the political nous to rise above the cacophony of those that would have us back in caves.
Until our battery retention technology improves ten-fold we will always rely on carbon based fuel for electricity generation. And with the price of oil at its lowest in a generation and the flooding of the market by shale oil and LPG technologies not seen a decade ago, the economic justification for erratic substitutes has been put back on the shelf.
Any increase in electricity costs can only be justified by infrastructure creation and maintenance and of course, good old government incompetence.


#4

I suppose the beauty of a wind-farm is a matter of opinion. I find them reminiscent of windmills in Holland, like you see on postcards. I don’t recall seeing any postcards of coal-fired power plants. As for noise, I have driven by such wind-farms adjacent to highways, and unless I stop my car and open the windows, I can’t hear them at all.

The fatal flaw of wind power is that it does not generate continual flow, thus requiring at its optimal usage a backup of coal fired generation.

This flaw is not fatal at all. As long as the capacity of wind-farms does not exceed the current demand, every megawatt-hour of energy generated is that much less coal or oil that has to be burned. The wind-farms are beneficial even if they don’t entirely replace constant sources.

Until our battery retention technology improves ten-fold we will always rely on carbon based fuel for electricity generation. And with the price of oil at its lowest in a generation and the flooding of the market by shale oil and LPG technologies not seen a decade ago, the economic justification for erratic substitutes has been put back on the shelf.

As I showed above, we don’t need to use batteries to benefit from wind power. As for the new sources of oil, I heard that the recent fall in oil prices is making some of those wells economically unfeasible, and they will have to be shut down. It costs more to extract the oil than they can get for it in the open market.


#5

Actually, no. A coal power plant requires almost a full day to go from cold shut-down to full power production. You don’t flip a switch. If you have a coal power system and come in and build wind-mill power, you are most likely still burning most of the coal you did before in order to keep the plant on standby for rapid ramp-up in production if the wind dies down suddenly. Not much savings.

This is why wind farms are usually accompanied by building natural gas turbine generators that can ramp up or down much faster, not coal. But even there, you always have to run at least one gas turbine at standby (no power production) so that it is ready to go to full power immediately if needed.

And that’s really where the economy of wind or solar power fails. If we could accept the unavailability of that power fairly often, it would compete with fossil fuels on cost. But nobody will simply accept the loss of their AC on a hot, windless day! So instead of just building a wind farm, you have to build a wind farm AND a gas turbine farm, then let the gas turbine farm just sit there much of the time. No wonder it’s cheaper to skip the wind farm and just run the gas turbines!

IMO, the way to make ‘green’ tech competitive is to stop providing all the “off-line” subsidies for fossil fuels. For example, we seem to need to fight a trillion dollar war about every 12 years in order to preserve the oil-based energy structure we have now. Fine. Amortize the cost of each of those wars over the next 12 years and simply add that to the gas tax. Poof! Green energy is cheaper, because it REALLY IS cheaper. We just pretend that the petro-wars aren’t part of the cost of oil dependency. But they are, and we do have to pay that.


#6

The variations in load on the fossil fuel plants produced by bringing in a wind turbine are not the first load variations the industry has had to deal with. The normal daily cycle of industries increasing demand during the working day have been presenting a varying load to the electrical grid for decades. I can’t believe that in all that time controls engineers have not found a way to adjust the amount of coal burned to match the expected demand. Otherwise the power plants would have to run at full tilt, sufficient to supply the worst-case demand 100% of the time. No, I think we can safely assume that for reasonably slow-moving and predictable load changes, the power plants burn just enough coal to provide the power needed at the time, with a small margin for unexpected variations. The variations produced by off-loading to wind farms is reasonably predictable. We know approximately what the wind speeds will be 24 hours in advance. (Just look the the aviation winds aloft forecasts).

This is why wind farms are usually accompanied by building natural gas turbine generators that can ramp up or down much faster, not coal. But even there, you always have to run at least one gas turbine at standby (no power production) so that it is ready to go to full power immediately if needed.

That sounds like a reasonable approach. And I don’t think it takes the maximum natural gas burn rate to maintain a turbine in standby-mode. Do you have any definitive percentages? I would suspect that if the plant is designed well, the standby burn rate would be a tiny fraction of the gas needed to run at full power.

And that’s really where the economy of wind or solar power fails. If we could accept the unavailability of that power fairly often, it would compete with fossil fuels on cost. But nobody will simply accept the loss of their AC on a hot, windless day! So instead of just building a wind farm, you have to build a wind farm AND a gas turbine farm, then let the gas turbine farm just sit there much of the time. No wonder it’s cheaper to skip the wind farm and just run the gas turbines!

Is it true that the new gas turbines are always built to have 100% of the capacity of the wind farm that prompted its construction? With all the power-sharing opportunities in the modern electrical grid, it seems unreasonable to expect that each wind farm provide its own 100% independent backup. Then there are the costs. You are assuming that the cost of building a gas-fired power plant and running it in standby is comparable to the cost of building it and running it on-line all the time. At what point does the cost of fuel dominate the cost of plant construction?

IMO, the way to make ‘green’ tech competitive is to stop providing all the “off-line” subsidies for fossil fuels. For example, we seem to need to fight a trillion dollar war about every 12 years in order to preserve the oil-based energy structure we have now. Fine. Amortize the cost of each of those wars over the next 12 years and simply add that to the gas tax. Poof! Green energy is cheaper, because it REALLY IS cheaper. We just pretend that the petro-wars aren’t part of the cost of oil dependency. But they are, and we do have to pay that.

Now that’s something we agree one. Permanent subsidies for green power do not make sense, and even temporary subsidies to “get the industry going” are suspect. You will notice that I did not offer to defend photovoltaic for this very reason. As for hidden petro-subsidies, let’s also include in that amortization the cost of things like the damage to the fisheries by the Exon Valdez, and the BP oil spill. I know that the oil industry paid a lot for these accidents, so to some extent that cost is already included, but I am not sure what they paid is really going to cover the total costs, which are still ongoing.


#7

So your strategy is to shift the tax burden from an income tax model to one heavily weighted on gas/oil? This hits the poor much harder than the middle and upper classes.


#8

No, it’s just pricing something to include all of its costs, rather than imposing those hidden costs on people who do not use the product, or use less of it.


#9

Wind does not provide enough vars, or frequency control to be of help regulating the “grid” unless additional and expensive equipment is installed. Unless you can deal with reactive power, the exists a clear problem with integrating wind or solar to the grid. While this is possible (theoretically speaking) to overcome, it has not yet been demonstrated at scale, so the problem stands.


#10

I can’t imagine how a wind turbine could be mechanically phase-locked to the grid, like the rotors at Niagra. I just assumed they all used inverters to generate phase-locked grid power. Is the inverter really a substantial portion of the cost of a wind-turbine? I imagine that the maintenance stairway in the support costs more than the inverter.


#11

The current inverter architectures assume a constant power factor control, so it is not suited for vars control as is. There are rotor side equipment modifications that can theoretically accomplish this, but none in large scale practice. Realize that this is additional equipment that must be designed and certified for use. But wait, there’s more. Since each turbine is relatively small, each must be equipped with this feature that is coordinated and further modified by, and more corrections added at, a central power factor control station. This problem (wind vars problem) has been well known in the power utility industry for years.


#12

I’m not sure one can really say any significant number of U.S. involved wars are about oil, and it may be a stretch to say any of them are.

Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the dustups in Grenada and Panama…none of them were even remotely about oil. Iraq was, but only indirectly for the U.S. which got little oil from there anyway. But a lot of the world is dependent on the Middle East for oil, and control of it by one dictator would have worldwide consequences, and Iraq’s threat to the oil states was a very serious thing.

Most oil used in the U.S. comes from North America, and has for a long time.

So I don’t think one can realistically tack the cost of U.S. wars onto the “cost” of petroleum.

Let me add that imposing additional taxes on petroleum products does not only hit those who burn gasoline themselves. It affect everything, from the cost of food to that of industrial products. Agriculture is a very big user of petroleum products. Make it more expensive and you’ll make food more expensive for everyone, whether they drive a SUV or not.


#13

But if the costs are justified, then not adding such taxes amounts to a subsidy on oil. That just means someone else has to pay for those costs in some form or another. So the only real issue is whether those costs are justified.


#14

Leaf,
Do you sincerely believe nations will stop fighting over resources simply because we move to a new energy base?

I think it’s much more likely the military will still be needed, but to protect reserves of Thorium or rare earth minerals, or perhaps access to fishing grounds.


#15

I could not imagine a 40% increase. Wow.

Iowa gets over 1/4 of our energy from wind turbines. If anything, doing so has kept electrical costs fairly low. However, Iowa has an excess of wind, lots of open farmland and a low population, so it works for us.


#16

[SIGN][/SIGN]

If a price is added to the price oil to account for a hidden cost, that price is not added with the intention or purpose of stopping wars or any other behavior. So it is useless to ask if it will accomplish these goals. The free market does sometimes accomplish such goals, but whether it does or not should not be used as an excuse to circumvent the free market with a subsidy. And that’s exactly what it would be if part of the cost of oil is forced on the population at large, even those who choose not to buy that product, or buy less of it.


#17

The cost of household electricity will rise by as much as 40 per cent by the end of the decade because of the Government’s green energy policies.

The price for energy production from coal should be adjusted to account for increased healthcare costs created by pollution. Then you can start making comparisons with windmills.


#18

Leaf,

Power utilities have to build different kinds of power generating capacity. Because of daily fluctuations you already noted, they typically build base load capacity according to the average loads received and use slow reacting sources for these loads like coal and nuclear boilers that generate steam, turn turbines and drive the generators. These sources can ramp up or down from 70-100% fairly quickly, but take forever to bring up from a cold start (long story, but you need GRADUAL temperature changes to prevent things going BOOM).

For shorter term variations, utilities use peaker plants that can react quickly to amp up or down. These tend to be natural gas turbines.

Wind power output does smooth a bit over large terrain variation, but our grid capacity is NOT up to transferring much load across long distances. Power is mostly surprisingly local. Longer distances create bigger losses and greater vulnerability.

Ridgerunner,
You’re kidding yourself if you want to claim that we’d have had anything to do with Kuwait, Saudia Arabia or Iraq if they were dessert countries with no oil. We don’t get much of OUR oil from there, but (like it or not) we’re in the most vulnerable position of anybody if a global oil price shock hit, so we’re stuck guaranteeing the smooth function of the global oil gangster system. You may object to increasing costs for everything associated with oil, but you’re missing the FACT that we’re ALREADY bearing the burden of those costs. We just put them on the national credit card and are pretending that we’ll never have to pay it. That doesn’t work. You know that. Creditors get paid or somebody’s knuckles get busted. It’s $18 TRILLION today. Making oil “cheap” isn’t all of that or even most of it, but it’s a healthy chunk. Government screws everything up when they distort what things really cost. If the global oil system is really going to cost us that much, then let the market reflect that and favor better options when they come along. Burying the costs so that the market doesn’t see it prevents better options from LOOKING better.


#19

I think figuring out the “true costs” of petroleum use would be pretty speculative and almost certain to simply be based on political ideologies.

To what products do we want to attach the “costs” associated with plastic? Because it’s made of petroleum, do we attach the “costs” of plastic to gasoline, or only to plastic products? If one believes half of what one reads about the toxic effects of plastics in the environment, one would think it would be considerable. What about paint?

Grain production takes a lot of petroleum products, from diesel in the big tractor to the trucks that haul the grain to the fertilizers and herbicides that get applied to the fields, the trucks that haul those products, the machines that mill them, the trucks that carry the products around, the heat in the stores that sell them, on and on. Do we attach those “costs” to the cost of bread? To wheaties? To poultry? To the gasoline in the car of a woman who does everything in her power to “eat organic”?

Who, exactly, is getting “subsidized” because petroleum products are being used in producing them? All of them, and including the fellow who goes into a store and picks up a styrofoam flat of asparagus, wrapped in plastic wrap. He is being subsidized, I guess we’re supposed to think, because he isn’t paying the “true cost” of the problems caused by chemicals and fuels used to produce the asparagus, the toxicity of landfills, the death of dolphins who get their noses caught in plastic string, etc.

In actuality, to the extent anybody is paying the “true” (whatever that may be) cost of utilizing petroleum, everybody along the line is. Redistributing costs to, say, automobile drivers alone is simply an ideological preference aimed at punishing people who are presumed to be the culprits.


#20

Good point. Tax the crude instead of gasoline. Point resolved. ALL oil users pay the actual cost of oil dependency.


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