Yes, Solar And Wind Really Do Increase Electricity Prices — And For Inherently Physical Reasons, by Michael Shellenberger

Unless the price of oil and natural gas shoot to the moon, solar and wind are going to remain the more expensive alternative. From Michael Shellenberger at

Department of Energy

Ivanpah solar farm produces 18 times less electricity while using 290 times more land than Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

In my last column I discussed an apparent paradox: why, if solar panels and wind turbines are so cheap, do they appear to be making electricity so expensive?

One big reason seems to be their inherently unreliable nature, which requires expensive additions to the electrical grid in the form of natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries, or some other form of stand-by power.

Several readers kindly pointed out that I had failed to mention a huge cost of adding renewables: new transmission lines.

Transmission is much more expensive for solar and wind than other plants. This is true around the world —  for physical reasons.

 Think of it this way. It would take 18 of California’s Ivanpah solar farms to produce the same amount of electricity that comes from our Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

And where just one set of transmission lines are required to bring power from Diablo Canyon, 18 separate transmission lines would be required to bring power from solar farms like Ivanpha.

Moreover, these transmission lines are in most cases longer. That’s because our solar farms are far away in the desert, where it is sunny and land is cheap. By contrast, Diablo Canyon and San Onofre nuclear plants are on the coast right near where most Californians live. (The same is true for wind.)

New transmission lines can make electricity cheaper, but not when they are used only part of the time and duplicate rather than replace current equipment.

Other readers pointed to cases that appear to challenge the claim that increased solar and wind deployments increase electricity prices.

To continue reading: Yes, Solar And Wind Really Do Increase Electricity Prices — And For Inherently Physical Reasons

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