cost of green

The subject is Ivanpah. California’s New Solar Plant: Burning Up Taxpayer Money, Land, and Wildlife by Benjamin Zycher describes the situation:

“the nominal capital cost per kilowatt (kW, one one-thousandth of a MW) of capacity for Ivanpah is about $5600, a figure that ignores some costs that are important but hidden. In comparison, the Energy Information Administration publishes estimates of the capacity costs per kW for coal, combined-cycle natural gas, nuclear, and on-shore wind capacity: respectively about $2700, $885, $4800, and $2075. For solar thermal plants in general, the EIA estimate is about $4750. (Bear in mind that these figures are for capacity costs only; they exclude fuel, operations and maintenance, and other costs.) The per-kW capacity cost of Ivanpah is well over twice that of wind power, which cannot compete federal production tax credit guaranteed market shares, and other subsidies.”

“The EIA estimates of total system (that is, including variable and other costs) levelized costs per mWh for solar thermal, conventional coal, natural gas, nuclear, and on-shore wind generation are, respectively: $243, $96, $66, $96, and $80. (Again: The wind estimate is far too low.) … True enough: Renewable power may enjoy future technological advances, but technological improvement is likely to characterize all electricity production. Accordingly, such future improvements in renewable generation do not necessarily imply increases in renewables’ competitiveness, particularly given the diffused energy content of sunlight and wind flows, a reality impossible to change.”

Then there’s the footprint. “Ivanpah sits on 3471 acres of Mojave desert” which compares to just a few acres for a traditional power plant. Not only is the land covered and the biosphere it supports drastically impacted, the materials requirement to cover that land with solar collection devices has a manufacturing and installation footprint that is often ignored.

“Ivanpah is a monstrosity, the kind that only a marriage among Beltway politicians, crony capitalists, and environmental Leftists could engender. It is the classic illustration of the dismal reality of “renewable” energy, and thus serves a public purpose very different from those argued by its proponents: It helps to reveal the truth of modern environmentalism.”

But is anyone listening? The amount of government funding put into this sort of boondoggle is horrendous yet is doesn’t seem to make any impression.

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