Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chart of the Day

I've long doubted the ability of solar cells to produce cost-efficient electricity absent ample subsidies. Analysts Matthew Yates and Steve Milunovich at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch say that "saving the planet won't come cheap," observing that "solar PV is probably the most expensive form of renewable energy right now." They compare the costs of electric generation in a page 2 chart reproduced in the Financial Times:

source: March 16th Financial Times

They conclude:
With power prices around €50/MWh in Europe currently, solar is costing consumers around €60bn more than they otherwise would have paid for electricity. We calculate a German household is now paying €130 in annual solar subsidies and rising rapidly. We fear an increasing backlash against overly generous subsidies.
Especially given limits on the share of electric generation from renewables, the same writers said last Fall that coal remains "crucial . . . in the energy mix":
Coal is 'cheap' and abundant. The world's coal reserves are not expected to run out for another 120 years. . . Coal is also available from less politically unstable countries than gas and oil.

(via reader Marc)


Geoffrey Britain said...

Solar has obvious limitations, though progress is being made in laboratories.

The problem is two-fold; liberals want to encourage reliance upon alternative energies long before their practical application...
conservatives want to rely solely upon conventional resources, as though they are essentially inexhaustible. Neither approach alone is either wise or adequate.

The thing to do is drill, drill, drill... AND offer permanent, highly attractive economic incentives to researchers, independent inventors and entrepreneurs. So as to truly encourage research, invention and innovation until practical alternatives to conventional energy production is developed for society to transition into.

Carl said...

GB: Agreed.

OBloodyHell said...

> Solar has obvious limitations, though progress is being made in laboratories.

"Enough" progress is IMPOSSIBLE.

Literally impossible.

We're talking about covering the entire state of Delaware, here.

You CANNOT improve on that.

Not "it'd be hard".

Not "it'd take some ingenuity".



You have SOME chance of inventing ANTI-GRAVITY.

THAT, perhaps, does not require violating laws of physics.

You have NO CHANCE of improving on covering the state of Delaware.

This WOULD require outright violations of the laws of physics.

It's not even a pipe dream, folks. It's a fantasy that makes 'Alice in Wonderland' look like a Pure Rationalist's idyll by comparison.

1 kW per Square meter folks.


Not a single watt more. EVER.

No matter HOW ingenious you get.

The USA generates/uses a TERAWATT.

A billion square meters, *if* the sun shone 24/7, *if* you had 100% conversion cells. Not a meter less... EVER.

Do the numbers yourself.

Anyone who seriously imagines Solar or Wind will EVER be significant, worthwhile power sources for an industrial society also believes Hunter S. Thompson was a Platonic Realist.

Really. That's not hyperbole.

It's lunacy to imagine solar power as anything but a niche-specialty market.

'Nuff said.