BigWind electricity is NOT cheaper than other energy. Explained here

Although this is more detail than most of you want to know, this does explain WHY WIND ENERGY IS NOT CHEAPER. Go to the original website and skim through the details and learn something to share…

The Real Cost of Wind Electricity By Norman Rogers

This article is a technical exposition on how to calculate the cost of generating wind electricity. The goal is to show the true cost of wind electricity compared to conventional sources of electricity. Wind is important because it is the lowest cost type of renewable electricity that is also scalable. Some types of renewable electricity may be cheaper but have limited scaling possibilities because they depend special circumstances such as underground steam or favorable hydro sites.

Various agencies and think tanks calculate the cost of generating electricity. The U.S. government Energy Information Agency (EIA) is prominent. The EIA is biased against coal electricity and biased in favor of wind electricity. They, for example, increase the interest rates used for coal plants by nearly 30%.

Usually the cost of electricity is computed by taking the yearly capital cost of the plant amortized over the life of the plant and the annual operating costs. This yearly cost is divided by the number of kilowatt or megawatt hours produced per year to determine a cost per unit of electricity. The electricity is taken as the amount of electricity exiting at the plant fence.

This approach is fatally flawed in the case of wind electricity that is non dispatchable. Non dispatchable means that the grid managers cannot order wind to turn on when needed. Wind can be turned off, but then the power that would have been generated is lost. Rather than ordering wind to turn on or off, the grid is assumed to accept all the wind electricity available and adjust the other generators in the grid to maintain balance between supply and demand. Wind has to be operated this way in order to be remotely competitive. The grid has to supply a backup source of electricity to take over according to the vagaries of the wind. The worst case is no wind, so the backup has to be able to take over 100% of the wind….

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BigWind is MORE expensive than we even imagined!

How should electricity from wind turbines and solar panels be evaluated? Should it be evaluated as if these devices are stand-alone devices? Or do these devices provide electricity that is of such low quality, because of its intermittency and other factors, that we should recognize the need for supporting services associated with actually putting the electricity on the grid? This question comes up in many types of evaluations, including Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI), Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and Energy Payback Period (EPP).

I recently gave a talk…As you might guess, my conclusion is that the current methodology is quite misleading. Wind and solar are not really stand-alone devices when it comes to providing the kind of electricity that is needed by the grid. Grid operators, utilities, and backup electricity providers must provide hidden subsidies to make the system really work.

This problem is currently not being recognized by any of the groups evaluating wind and solar, using techniques such as LCOE, EROI, LCA, and EPP. As a result, published results suggest that wind and solar are much more beneficial than they really are. The distortion affects both pricing and the amount of supposed CO₂ savings.

One of the questions that came up at the conference was, “Is this distortion actually important when only a small amount of intermittent electricity is added to the grid?” For that reason, I have included discussion of this issue as well. My conclusion is that the problem of intermittency and the pricing distortions it causes is important, even at low grid penetrations….

 

This means that if we really expect to scale wind and solar, we probably need to be creating packages of grid-quality electricity (wind or solar, supplemented by various devices to create grid quality electricity) at an acceptably high EROI. This is very similar to a requirement that wind or solar energy, including all of the necessary adjustments to bring them to grid quality, be available at a suitably low dollar cost–probably not too different from today’s wholesale cost of electricity. EROI theory would strongly suggest that energy costs for an economy cannot rise dramatically, without a huge problem for the economy. Hiding rising energy costs with government subsidies cannot fix this problem.

Distortions Become Material Very Early

If we look at recently published information about how much intermittent electricity is being added to the electric grid, the amounts are surprisingly small. Overall, worldwide, the amount of electricity generated by a combination of wind and solar (nearly all of it intermittent) was 5.2% in 2016. On an area by area basis, the percentages of wind and solar are as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Wind and solar as a share of 2016 electricity generation, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017. World total is not shown, but is very close to the percentage shown for China.

There are two reasons why these percentages are lower than a person might expect. One reason is that the figures usually quoted are the amounts of “generating capacity” added by wind and solar, and these are nearly always higher than the amount of actual electricity supply added, because wind and solar “capacity” tend to be lightly used.

The other reason that the percentages on Figure 1 are lower than we might expect is because the places that have unusually high concentrations of wind and solar generation (examples: Germany, Denmark, and California) tend to depend on a combination of (a) generous subsidy programs, (b) the availability of inexpensive balancing power from elsewhere and (c) the generosity of neighbors in taking unwanted electricity and adding it to their electric grids at low prices.

As greater amounts of intermittent electricity are added, the availability of inexpensive balancing capacity (for example, from hydroelectric from Norway and Sweden) quickly gets exhausted, and neighbors become more and more unhappy with the amounts of unwanted excess generation being dumped on their grids. Denmark has found that the dollar amount of subsidies needs to rise, year after year, if it is to continue its intermittent renewables program.

One of the major issues with adding intermittent renewables to the electric grid is that doing so distorts wholesale electricity pricing. Solar energy tends to cut mid-day peaks in electricity price, making it less economic for “peaking plants” (natural gas electricity plants that provide electricity only when prices are very high) to stay open. At times, prices may turn negative, if the total amount of wind and solar produced at a given time is greater than the overall amount of electricity required by customers. This happens because intermittent electricity is generally given priority on the grid, whether price signals indicate that it is needed or not. A combination of these problems tends to make backup generation unprofitable unless subsidies are provided. If peaking plants and other backup are still required, but need to operate fewer hours, subsidies must be provided so that the plants can afford to hire year-around staff, and pay their ongoing fixed expenses….

The other major anomaly is the need for a lot of quick “ramp up” and “ramp down” capacity. One time this typically happens is at sunset, when demand is high (people cooking their dinners) but a large amount of solar electricity disappears because of the setting of the sun. For wind, rapid ramp ups and downs seem to be related to thunderstorms and other storm conditions. California and Australia are both adding big battery systems, built by Tesla, to help deal with rapid ramp-up and ramp-down problems.

There is a lot of work on “smart grids” being done, but this work does not address the particular problems brought on by adding wind and solar. In particular, smart grids do not move demand from summer and winter (when demand is normally high) to spring and fall (when demand is normally low). Smart grids and time of day pricing aren’t very good at fixing the rapid ramping problem, either, especially when these problems are weather related…

 

With the strange demand pattern that occurs when intermittent renewables are added, standard pricing approaches (based on marginal costs) tend to produce wholesale electricity prices that are too low for electricity produced by natural gas, coal, and nuclear providers. In fact, wholesale electricity rates for supporting providers tend to diverge further and further from what is needed, as more and more intermittent electricity is added. The dotted line on Figure 2 illustrates the falling wholesale electricity prices that have been occurring in Europe, even as retail residential electricity prices are rising.

Figure 2. European residential electricity prices have risen, even as wholesale electricity prices (dotted line) have fallen. Chart by Paul-Frederik Bach.

The marginal pricing scheme gives little guidance as to how much backup generation is really needed. It is therefore left up to governments and local electricity oversight groups to figure out how to compensate for the known pricing problem. Some provide subsidies to non-intermittent producers; others do not.

To complicate matters further, electricity consumption has been falling rapidly in countries whose economies are depressed. Adding wind and solar further reduces needed natural gas, coal, and nuclear generation. Some countries may let these producers collapse; others may subsidize them, as a jobs-creation program, whether this backup generation is needed or not.

Of course, if a single payer is responsible for both intermittent and other electricity programs, a combined rate can be set that is high enough for the costs of both intermittent electricity and backup generation, eliminating the pricing problem, from the point of view of electricity providers. The question then becomes, “Will the new higher electricity prices be affordable by consumers?”

The recently published IEA World Energy Investment Report 2017 provides information on a number of developing problems:

“Network investment remains robust for now, but worries have emerged in several regions about the prospect of a “utility death spiral” as the long-term economic viability of grid investments diminishes. The still widespread regulatory practice of remunerating fixed network assets on the basis of a variable per kWh charge is poorly suited for a power system with a large amount of decentralised solar PV and storage capacity.”

The IEA investment report notes that in China, 10% of solar PV and 17% of wind generation were curtailed in 2016, even though previous problems with lack of transmission had been fixed. Figure 1 shows China’s electricity from wind and solar amounts to only 5.0% of its total electricity consumption in 2016.

Regarding India, the IEA report says, “More flexible conventional capacity, including gas-fired plants, better connections with hydro resources and investment in battery storage will be needed to support continued growth in solar power.” India’s intermittent electricity amounted to only 4.1% of total electricity supply in 2016.

In Europe, a spike in electricity prices to a 10-year high took place in January 2017, when both wind and solar output were low, and the temperature was unusually cold. And as previously mentioned, California and South Australia have found it necessary to add Tesla batteries to handle rapid ramp-ups and ramp-downs. Australia is also adding large amounts of transmission that would not have been needed, if coal generating plants had continued to provide services in South Australia.

None of the costs related to intermittency workarounds are currently being included in EROI analyses. They are generally not being included in analyses of other kinds, either, such as LCOE. In my opinion, the time has already arrived when analyses need to be performed on a much broader basis than in the past, so as to better capture the true cost of adding intermittent electricity.

Source: Researchers Have Been Underestimating the Cost of Wind and Solar | Wind Energy Impacts and Issues

BigWind bullies Ohio community

How ILLogical is it for a community to pay 14 cents per kWh for electricity, when they can purchase it for 10? This is the dilemma of the city of Conneaut, Ohio.  You will read that the turbine has $250,000 worth of repairs and NexGen will happily repair it IF the city renews a 10 year purchase contract with them….for more expensive energy than they can purchase from the grid.  Once again, another turbine is plagued with expensive repairs. Don’t they pay this electric bill with tax dollars?….

The owner of a damaged wind turbine that provides some of the electricity used at Conneaut’s sewage treatment plant wants a reworked contract with the city in order to make repairs financially feasible.

City Manager James Hockaday told City Council members at Monday night’s work session that NexGen is seeking a 10-year extension to the existing 10-year contract that will expire in 2020. The company says it needs a new contract to make repairs to the 400-kilowatt turbine — which has been idle since a lightning strike at the end of February.

Lighting blasted away one of the turbine’s blades and essentially destroyed its generator, Hockaday said. NexGen has said it will cost $250,000 to fix the machine, erected in January 2010.

 To justify the expense, NexGen has submitted a contract proposal that would stretch the contract, set to expire in three years, through 2030. NexGen’s initial proposal calls for slight kilowatt-per-hour increases each of the contract years, officials have said.

The turbine supplies about 20 percent of the electricity used at the plant located along the Lake Erie shore.

In 2016, the city paid NexGen almost $59,000, according to information from the city finance office. In February, NexGen charged the city $11,135 for its services.

The city is not paying NexGen while the turbine is inoperable, Hockaday said.

Last year, the city paid NexGen a combined generation/distribution charge of 12 cents per kilowatt hour. In 2017, the seventh year of the 10-year original contract, the city is paying 12.5 cents per kWh, according to the finance office. NexGen’s combined charge will climb to 12.9 cents per kWh next year, topping out at 14 cents in 2020, per the contract.

Direct Energy has been the primary power supplier to the sewage plant, and is filling the void left by the turbine, officials said. Direct Energy this year is charging a combined 10 cents per kWh, Finance Director John Williams said at Monday’s meeting.

Hockaday told council the city has multiple options regarding the turbine, such as explore pricing available through conventional utilities, talk with other turbine operators or negotiate with NexGen.

“We can counter-offer (NexGen),” he said. “(The contract) is a proposal.”

Hockaday said he feels the turbine has merit…

Source: Conneaut will examine options regarding damaged turbine | Local News | starbeacon.com

Maine hammered by high electricity rates thanks to BigWind

Thank you Gov. LePage, who sees the realities behind BigWind. BigWind contributes to the instability of our electrical grid and requires backup support from coal and natural gas. Additionally, we subsidize the industry, at astronomically high rates, and then pay more for their unreliable electricity. Maine is paying the price, with high electricity rates that hurt their citizens and business environment…. 

According to the governor, Maine’s electricity prices are among the highest in the nation, ranking 11 in states with the highest rates. LePage said, “When you see your electricity bill, you should know that rates are artificially high.” This, LePage said, is due to subsidies and something called “stranded costs.”

In common parlance, this means that the reason our electricity rates are so high is because of the taxpayer dollars that go to the solar and wind industries to buoy them financially. Readers of this column may recall that I have long argued that taxpayer funds should not subsidize startup industries in the fields of solar and wind power generation. My reasoning was, and is, that such enterprises should stand alone and whether they prosper or fail should not be predicated upon “contributions” from unwilling ratepayers….

But in the case of wind and solar, capitalism is displaced by taxpayer-funded subsidies. As Gov. LePage said, “Alternative forms of energy are worthwhile, but they are expensive — and you pay the price.”

Nationwide, a 2015 study from the Energy Information Administration concluded that federal subsidies to wind power are more than 70 times the cost of oil and natural gas subsidies. The same study found that federal subsidies for solar power are more than 340 times the rate for oil and natural gas.

LePage said that while he supports all forms of renewable energy, when electricity rates are increased because of subsidies for solar and wind, ratepayers are paying for their energy twice. “On the front end,” the governor said, “consumers pay for the government welfare these companies need to stay afloat.” LePage went on to say, “On the back end, you pay more in higher electric bills.”…

 

Source: Maine hammered by artificially high energy costs – By Tom Seymour

Illinois school turbines= epic FAIL. Can Ohio learn from this mistake?

About 4 years ago, amid much hoopla, the Lake Land Community College received two “free” wind turbines from the Obama administration. These turbines were touted as providing free electricity to the college, AND providing training facilities for students wanting to become wind turbine technicians.

These Illinois turbines only operated for a short time. They have suffered lightning strikes and other mechanical problems.

Now, the college has decided to “remediate” one, & remove the blades from the other!! The cost of dismantling these turbines is not reported separately, but the total contract is $929,000! Quite a return on their “free” turbines!

An important question to ask, is HOW will the school promote the educational purpose of the remaining tower (as stated below)? Let us hope this is a lesson in the POOR economics of renewable energy- intermittent, plagued with maintenance, and expensive!…

…In other matters, the board hired the CTS Group to upgrade the West Building as part of an energy efficiency project and to remediate two adjacent 160-foot-tall, 100-kilowatt wind turbines at a cost of up to $927,697.

Lake Land plans to upgrade the building’s air handling units and to connect them to the campus geothermal heating and cooling system. The college also plans to remove the north turbine and remove the blades from the south turbine, leaving this structure in place for student educational purposes.

President Josh Bullock said the community garden at the base of the north turbine will be closed and the land there will be repurposed for other uses in conjunction with the West Building.

Lake Land has reported that the two turbines will be removed due to mechanical problems, which were compounded by the south turbine being damaged by lightning. Both turbines were installed in 2012 through federal grant funding.

Source: Lake Land board hears spring enrollment report

Gov. Kasich leaving Ohioans a legacy of HIGHER ELECTRICITY RATES

 

The article, below, demonstrates what has happened in Massachusetts, as a result to adding renewables onto the electricity grid. What is the biggest difference with Ohio? Our governor recently MANDATED that Ohioans and our businesses purchase renewable energy that is generated here. More industrial wind energy turbines will now blanket our landscape, our quiet rural areas, and tear apart communities and families who disagree over this issue. Thanks for nothing, Governor Kasich, you have disappointed us with your anti-capitalist and liberal decision…

…CleanChoice Energy mailed out a sales pitch to electricity customers in eastern Massachusetts. The letter acknowledged that 100 percent renewable energy from solar and wind would cost “a little more” than “polluting energy,” but said the added expense was worth it.
“That’s because the energy you are choosing is better for you and the planet,” the brochure said. “When you add more renewable energy to the electric grid, you are reducing toxic waste and air pollution, making the world a healthier place with cleaner air.”

In smaller print, CleanChoice Energy said the current fixed rate for the company’s clean energy was 14.8 cents per kilowatt hour, which compared to 8.2 cents a kilowatt hour for the electricity procured for customers by Eversource through competitive bidding.

The difference in price is huge. For a typical customer using 600 kilowatt hours a month, the Eversource price is $49.20, while the CleanChoice product costs $85.20. That’s just the price for electricity, and doesn’t include separate transmission, distribution, and customer service charges assessed by Eversource.

The state Department of Public Utilities operates a website where customers can compare electricity offers, and 100 percent renewable energy offers are all priced higher. At press time in December, there were five options for people seeking 100 percent renewable energy, with prices ranging from a low of 10.1 cents a kilowatt hour with Champion Energy Service to a high of 15.8 cents with CleanChoice…

Michael Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, said the company used to offer a renewable energy option to customers called NStar Green, but discontinued the program a year ago. Few customers took advantage of the program, which relied primarily on power from wind farms…

Source: Renewables not cheap – CommonWealth Magazine

BigWind is NOT included in ‘how to improve Ohio energy competitivenss’ report

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A new study is released by the Ohio Business Roundtable.  Entitled “Improving Ohio’s Energy Competitiveness,” this study represents a major analytical undertaking by McKinsey & Co. prior to the General Assembly reconvening to act on the renewable mandate freeze. The report recommends phasing out the mandates. “Richard Stoff, Roundtable president and CEO, defended the finding that renewable mandates, over the long run, would raise the cost of power. We have done the forecasting, it is our conclusion that over time mandates will result in higher prices that are passed on to the consumer,” he said in an interview. “In looking at these issues through a purely economic lens, it is our judgment that mandates ought to be phased out.”

On page 18 of the report, “Improving Ohio’s Energy Competitiveness,” the authors note:

RENEWABLES ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME A LARGER PART OF OHIO’S GENERATION MIX

“Renewables, especially wind, are expected to account for a growing portion of Ohio’s generation mix in the next 15 years (Exhibit 11). Renewables provided only 1% of Ohio’s and 3% of PJM’s power generation in 2014. By 2030, renewables are projected to represent 13% of Ohio’s total power generation. Ohio’s installed capacity for renewables is expected to almost double in the near future, thanks to new investments in renewable assets and improved efficiencies. Furthermore, the market-based adoption of renewables will accelerate as technology costs fall and certain customers prioritize renewable power.

Ohio’s geography and climate are not as suited to renewables as some other states, especially those in the southwest. Ohio’s year-round, frequent cloud cover is a challenge for solar power as an option for almost all of the state. Sustained winds are most common in the northern part of the state along Lake Erie and in west central Ohio, but the region lacks ample space to build wind turbines, and winds can be inconsistent.

Renewables, including solar and wind, are intermittent sources of power and increase demands on the power grid. Because power cannot be stored cost effectively after it is generated, a wind or solar farm that goes offline intermittently, when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining, must be replaced by other fast-starting gas, coalfired, or nuclear capacity. This adds complexity to managing a grid with a high share of renewables.”