Jeebus

Three offshore wind farms due to start generating power in 2017 were last year awarded contracts at £150 per megawatt-hour of electricity, while two others due to be running by 2018 or 2019 were offered £140.

There simply isn’t any justification for those prices.

Absolutely the maximum that we should be willing to pay is the coal price of electricity plus the social cost of carbon emissions. That’s what the whole Stern Review was about. The entire justification for doing anything at all in fact. And those prices are well above that: therefore we shouldn’t be doing it.

18 thoughts on “Jeebus”

  1. unlike solar PV, which is still coming down the cost curve and will probably become cost-competitive without subsidy at some point, wind turbines are old tech – generator sets and propellors, basically, and we’ve been building those for a long time. The only way these things make any economic sense as an “investment” is with govt support which as someone pointed out, is about the most regressive way of taking money off the poor and giving it to wealthy investors

  2. @Flatcap, And even if solar becomes a hell of a lot more efficient, more so than plants, at converting solar energy into useful energy, here in the UK it still won’t be enough to keep our society working as it currently is.

    Nuclear is the only energy source that can keep us living in a modern society without using fossil fuels. Though we’ll still need to drill for oil & gas to make all the products based on them.

  3. If the subsidies were stopped the windwank “industry” would be on the rocks and out of business in a matter of months. Less probably.

  4. The justification for offshore windfarms is Tony Blair’s commitment to “renewable energy”. Price doesn’t matter under that commitment.
    Nor, as far as I can see, does whether the wind turbine generate more (after deductions from transmission losses) energy than was needed to construct and maintain it (plus its share of the cables to the grid).

  5. At some point a reforming government will pass a law cancelling these subsidies. Does anybody know if the courts could block that?

  6. John77
    Tony Blair has just picked up a gig advising the government of Serbia, joining such fragrant colleagues as Dominique Strauss Kahn and a former president of Austria.
    Bomb ’em again I say, but make sure he’s there at the time.

  7. @SBML – couldn’t agree more; apart from the relatively low solar energy incidence on the UK what we don’t have right now, nor have the prospect of, is sufficiently cost-efficient storage to smooth out what little we can produce

  8. Bingo. We could stick solar panels on our roof, but they mostly generate power when we’re not home, and wouldn’t generate any power right now because there’s a couple of feet of snow up there at the moment.

    Without a storage system and some mechanism to clear off the snow, they’d be pretty much useless. And that’s on a sunny day like today, not the overcast, snowy days we’ve had for much of the last week.

    I guess you can stick them in the desert and run cables across the Med, but being reliant on ISIS for your power seems even less smart than being reliant on Russia.

  9. @ Edward M. Grant
    I don’t know where you live but solar panels have been cost-effective for households in California for a decade since the lower generating efficiency is outweighed by the trasmission losses and the admin costs and profits of the generating and distribution companies.
    I am in favour of solar panels in Morocco to feed power to Spain ‘cos the desert doesn’t produce much else that’s useful and Al-Quaeda/ISIS doesn’t have any visible toehold in Morocco because the King is a descendant of The Prophet, so all genuinely devout Muslims have to listen to him even though he is relatively enlightened.
    The even better but less fashionable use of sunlight is solar water-heating panels to substitute for a boiler/immersion heater in summer and supplement it in winter. That has been cost-effective even in England for the last forty years.

  10. “Nuclear is the only energy source that can keep us living in a modern society without using fossil fuels.” … yes absent of good storage for electricity. But high redundancy wind with deep penetration gas (or coal) backup will bring down emissions quite a lot. And that’s what we’re going to get.

    The high cunts have won and imposed their cunt-in-the-brain ideas on us, but the lights won’t go though the bills will be higher.

  11. @ johnny bonk
    UItilisation of wind power of 1% in January means that the lights *will* go out if we depend entirely on wind

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    john77 – “I don’t know where you live but solar panels have been cost-effective for households in California for a decade since the lower generating efficiency is outweighed by the trasmission losses and the admin costs and profits of the generating and distribution companies.”

    I would be surprised if this is true. Do you have a source? Transmission costs are not negligible, but the big difference is just that solar cells are not very efficient. Nor cheap to make. The latter is improving fairly fast. The former not so much.

    “I am in favour of solar panels in Morocco to feed power to Spain ‘cos the desert doesn’t produce much else that’s useful and Al-Quaeda/ISIS doesn’t have any visible toehold in Morocco because the King is a descendant of The Prophet, so all genuinely devout Muslims have to listen to him even though he is relatively enlightened.”

    Actually there is nothing in Islam that says people have to listen to the descendants of Muhammed. Who are a dime a dozen in the Muslim world. ISIS doesn’t have a foothold because the King of Morocco plays the tribes well and is an enthusiastic torturer. Cross him and you may well spend the next decade literally living in a hole scooped out of the desert sand, covered with a piece of tin-metal.

    That doesn’t mean he is secure. See the Shah of Iran.

    “The even better but less fashionable use of sunlight is solar water-heating panels to substitute for a boiler/immersion heater in summer and supplement it in winter. That has been cost-effective even in England for the last forty years.”

    Indeed. Not as much fun as having your hot water reliably and as much as you would like, but not a bad use for solar power.

  13. @ SMFS
    I can’t remember, after ten or eleven years, my original source but http://energyinformative.org/solar-panels-cost/ shows that it is cost-effective even without the subsidies (and the installers are making a nice profit so without that andthe inspection fees it would be even cheaper). Solar panel costs have come down but if you backspace to 2003/4 and double the price of the PV substrate then either halve the installers profit *or* knock off the excessive license and inspection fees you still get a saving for the homeowner in California. You may note that Florida prices are higher when the cost differential is insignificant showing thatprices areset by what the market will bear rather than cost.

  14. “Indeed. Not as much fun as having your hot water reliably and as much as you would like, but not a bad use for solar power.”
    We have a gas boiler for use in winter but even then there is some saving as on a sunny day the roof panels warm the water to 20-odd degrees before the timer switches the boiler on.

  15. @john77 – “UItilisation of wind power of 1% in January means that the lights *will* go out if we depend entirely on wind” not if we’ve got 99% backup – that’s what “deep penetration backup” is.

    Say 10% load shedding to industry, 10% off from smart metering – then we only need 79% backup. This has a “hidden” cost of whatever output is lost from the industrial load shedding but the lights won’t go out, it will just be more expensive.

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