Control Panel: Energy transition

The Shinies are. As spelled out in that article, advocates drew a direct line from more handouts to the “JCs” to “jobs”.


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I hear boomers endlessly. The crying is that people do not respect them. That they do not respect others. etc etc etc…and cut my taxes…

But no one ever says cutting taxes will help the US economy or a state economy. The reason it never did help. No one lies about it any longer.

Seriously not one person in congress uses the term supply side econ.

Yes the residue of people who were sold on it remains.

That is what I have been predicting for the last 15 years on METAR. The nuclear and fossil guys/gals did not believe me and some still do not believe me.

The prices of residential electricity are high in California and Germany, but that is not because of renewable electricity. Texas has about the same amount of renewable electricity as California, but their residential electricity prices are much lower than those in California.

Residential electricity prices are not a good measure of comparing renewables to nuclear and fossil fuels as the source of generation. Wholesale electricity prices are the correct means of comparing the cost of generating electricity by fuel source.

That is why Texas and many other states/countries are now building more renewables and less nuclear/fossil.


The same can be said for the other side. There are powerful companies and politicians who want to divest from fossil fuels for business reasons, climate changes dangers that are coming true, and voter sentiment for the survival of their lives and fortunes.

Government and taxpayer subsides of renewables deployment may be increased while subsidies of fossil fuel deployment may be reduced more than it is today.

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Renewable energy and the grid won a major victory in FERC’s new ruling:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved key transmission reforms aimed at clearing a staggering backlog of more than 10,000 generation and storage projects—more than 2,000 GW—stalled in interconnection queues across the country.

Order 2023, a final rule unanimously adopted by FERC’s four commissioners at a July 27 open meeting and posted in full late on July 28, reforms FERC’s standard generator interconnection procedures and agreements with the intent to improve cost and timing certainty, and prevent “undue discrimination” for new technologies.


That quote above from the NY Times article, linking to the IEA, is a little misleading. From the Statistical Review of World Energy, below are the TWh produced by renewables, coal, and total electricity generation for 2022.

2022 World electricity generation
Renewables    4,204 TWh
Coal         10,317
All sources  29,165

Does anyone really think that renewables are going to more than double in two or three years? The trick is, they need to include hydroelectricity in the renewables category, in order to get close to the electricity produced from coal. If hydro is included, then about 29% of world electricity is currently produced from renewables, while 35% is from coal. As I have reported here in the past, the state of California does not allow large hydroelectric dams to be included in the definition of renewable energy. From my experience, many environmentalists hate hydroelectricity almost as much as they hate nuclear energy. They would prefer to see the dams torn down, so the salmon can swim freely, or something. But, if they need to include hydro in order to make their renewable energy numbers look better, then so be it.

Secondly, the article says “The cost of generating electricity from the sun and wind is falling fast and in many areas is now cheaper than gas, oil or coal”. That statement is misleading, because the unstated implication is that electricity from the sun and wind is just like, and just as good as, electricity from gas, oil or coal. As constantly needs to be repeated, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. With the capacity factors for solar and wind well below 50%, if a power company is going to add new capacity, they will also need to build reliable, dispatchable generators. Those dispatchable sources are often fossil fuels, usually natural gas here in the US. Therefore, comparing the costs of highly subsidized wind and solar to dispatchable fossil generators is somewhat deceptive.

Here is what the Energy Information Administration says about comparing different kinds of power plants with vastly different operating characteristics…
Because load must be continuously balanced, generating units that can vary output to follow demand (dispatchable technologies) generally have more value to a system than less flexible units that use intermittent resources to operate (resource-constrained technologies). We list the LCOE values for dispatchable and resource-constrained technologies separately because they are built to provide different services to the grid, and direct comparisons of cost between dispatchable and resource-constrained technologies may not be meaningful in most contexts.

The duty cycle for intermittent resources is not operator controlled, but rather, depends on the weather, which does not necessarily correspond to operator-dispatched duty cycles. As a result, LCOE values for wind and solar technologies are not directly comparable with the LCOE values for other technologies that may have a similar average annual capacity factor, and we show them separately as resource-constrained technologies.

The EIA states, in the sentences above, that it is improper to compare the costs of the intermittent renewables to the more reliable and dispatchable energy sources, but the NY Times writers do it anyway.

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I had several more items to discuss, but this post is probably already long enough…

  • Pete

Your post has many errors.:

  1. Natural gas is highly subsidized just as much as wind and solar.

  2. Nuclear is a boondoggle in US:
    In a recent guest essay entitled “A Star Is Born, as Plant Vogtle Nuclear Expansion Enters Service,” Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols wrote glowingly about Plant Vogtle, the first new reactor to come online in the U.S. in 30 years. He even praised Southern Company for keeping the project going during COVID.

But what didn’t he mention? Ratepayers—you know, customers—the people who are paying the bills. He also failed to mention the length of time it took to build this plant or its costs.

But here’s the truth: At $35 billion, Plant Vogtle is the most expensive power plant ever built on earth. Vogtle’s electricity is estimated to cost $170–$180/MWh, which is astoundingly high. These high costs are why 49 other states decided against building nuclear plants, even with lavish federal subsidies. They pursued far more affordable clean-energy solutions: 2,200 MW of geothermal would have cost just $9 billion, and solar plus storage would have cost between $4 billion and $5 billion, less than a fourth the cost of Vogtle.

Georgia is one of only four states in the nation with no Consumer Utility Counsel (CUC), an agency designated by most states to act as an independent ratepayer advocate when utility commission decisions are made. The Georgia legislature defunded the CUC in 2008, the year before Plant Vogtle began construction. The loss of this agency cannot be overstated: with no consumer advocate at the commission, Plant Vogtle proceeded with no cost-cap, no consumer protections, and Public Service Commission (PSC) staff were prohibited from conducting analysis comparing the costs of nuclear to clean energy alternatives.

As a result of these missing protections and analysis, Plant Vogtle proceeded to rack up enormous cost overruns with all risk on customers. On August 31, one month after Unit 3 began commercial operation, $2.1 billion will be added to Georgia Power’s rate base.

But that amount is small compared with what’s to come. Once fuel is loaded into Unit 4, expected late summer, Georgia Power will request commission proceedings to recover these cost overruns, expected to be $10 billion. Another $5.68 billion has already been approved and will not be part of the hearing.

Note that the $9 billion to $10 billion in cost overruns is just for Georgia Power’s 45.7% share of the project. When the partners’ share is included, the cost overruns total more than $18 billion. These costs will be paid by the municipal and electric membership cooperative (EMC) utility customers of the partners MEAG and Oglethorpe Power.

Georgia Power executives and Georgia PSC commissioners are making claims that the benefit of Plant Vogtle is clean energy. Commissioner Echols repeated that claim in his essay. But let’s be clear: clean energy wasn’t why Plant Vogtle was built. Georgia has no climate mitigation plan or renewable energy goals it is trying to meet. In July 2022, the Georgia PSC, including Commissioner Echols, voted to authorize Georgia Power to add 2,300 MW of natural gas into its generation mix, even more energy than what Plant Vogtle will add.

It is an extraordinary claim that clean energy is the reason Plant Vogtle was built, given that history. Plant Vogtle was built because Georgia Power is incented to build capital projects. This business model dates to the mid-20th century when America’s grid needed rapid build-out, but it’s an obsolete, counterproductive incentive now. At least 14 states have recognized that and changed how their utilities earn profits by adopting PBR—performance-based ratemaking, which incentivizes performance on metrics such as expanding efficiency and increasing clean energy, rather than building capital projects.

A second reason Plant Vogtle was built is that the Georgia PSC celebrates what it calls a “constructive regulatory relationship” with Georgia Power. The PSC believes that a close relationship benefits all parties, which was easily seen in Commissioner Echols’ essay. But this type of relationship results in unfairly favorable decisions for the regulated utility to the detriment of customers who have no choice in their electricity provider. Being accommodative to a regulated monopoly utility is not the proper role of a regulator.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The beauty of the digital era is that it allows for new and better solutions. Data analytics, grid edge services, and fully funding demand-side management—in addition to cheap renewables like wind and solar coupled with storage, geothermal, virtual power plants, and other flexible load solutions is the grid of the future. Exciting things are still to come with distributed energy and vehicle-to-grid services that electric vehicle (EV) batteries may one day provide. Building large command and control generation sources far from populated areas is far too expensive and no longer appropriate.


Here are other errors that needs to be corrected in the above quote:

  1. Renewables are increasing and coal is decreasing. Renewables will overtake coal by 2025.

  2. Hydroelectricity has always been considered to be a renewable source of energy by definition: Hydroelectricity uses the energy of running water, without reducing its quantity, to produce electricity. Therefore, all hydroelectric developments, of small or large size, whether run of the river or of accumulated storage, fit the concept of renewable energy.,the%20concept%20of%20renewable%20energy.

  1. As the world’s electrical generation is skewed by China’s tremendous use of coal and gas for electricity. So lets look at USA electrical generation by fuel source:



Does the US still need legislation to empower the executive or to set a budget for this and other needs? Does it really have to happen this year or early next year that we get legislation for a better grid?

Usually not, but the problem is the US Supreme Court. They essentially are requiring every detail to be spelled out by Congress and not to an administration allowed to use best practices.

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This can also mean something else for Michigan that the budget is not as big. Meaning Michigan’s factory buildout will faulter.

There is a huge ignorance among some people that tax cuts are good for the US economy. That total ignorance has denied the US an industrial policy for 42 years. It created $32 tr in debt while the ignorant blamed the poor for the deficits.

It was not a transfer of wealth from poor to rich. It stymied the US economy. It was a drain on all US wealth. That is why it was so bleeding ignorant.

We took one for team capitalism. Now central Europe is stuck with the liars.

BTW we know in places like Kentucky there will be less of a factory buildout. The ignorant want less.

But we also know the IRA favors states to a degree that no matter how in the way and ignorant needed the money.

Currently there are two supercharger stations open in Mesquite, NV. One, on the west side of town with 12 stalls, opened almost two years ago. The other, on the east side with 8 stalls, opened about ten months ago.

The entire route between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City has supercharger stations fairly closely spaced.


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Focusing just on electricity generation, the percent share of low carbon fuels (nuclear, hydro, wind, solar) peaked in the world back in 1995 at 36%.

That was over 25 years ago. Running in place…


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Yes. The Supreme Court has struck down some actions taken by the federal bureaucracy because they were NOT specifically approved by Congress (i.e. Congress let the bureaucracy decide which was the best step to take next).

IIRC, it wasn’t that Congress hadn’t approved the details but rather that the EPA was rule making outside of the areas Congress had allocated to them.



This claim gets repeated a lot, but is true? As you build out more intermittent renewables, it seems logical that instead of building more fossil fuel dispatchable generation, the obvious thing to do would be to simply use your existing generation less.

To see if that is indeed what is happening, I looked up electrical generation in the US over the last 10 years. Note this is generation, not capacity.

Over the last 10 years, there was a 177,172 GWh hour increase in utility scale electricity generation. So we know grid capacity was added. If what you are saying is true, then for every new GWh of renewable energy, we should see some proportional increase in fossil fuel generation. Here is the generation broken down by type in GWh of generation:

Non-hydro Renewables 397,362 
Fossil Fuel         -191,274
Net                  206,088

So of the new generation capacity added in the US, it was almost entirely renewables replacing fossil fuels, not renewables in addition to fossil fuels.

Careful. They said it was improper to compare the two by that metric. It doesn’t follow that no other comparisons are possible. FWIW, that sentence was almost verbatim in the IEA report. If you can buy an unlimited amount of a widget for $0.10, or a limited amount of the same widget for $0.05, you can lower your costs by buying as much as you can of the $0.05 widget even if the supply is limited.

The cost of generating electricity from the sun and wind is falling fast and in many areas is now cheaper than gas, oil or coal is an objectively true statement.

And we are again seeing this in the real world data. For example, in 2023 it is projected that Florida will add 25% of all new solar capacity in the United States. However, Florida does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard or a voluntary renewable energy target. They are doing it because it lowers their costs compared to traditional sources.


Not necessarily. They could run their load-following power plants more, to compensate for the extra demand. They could run their peaker plants more often, for instance. That would be costly, but maybe not as costly as building new capacity.

Again, not necessarily. But that isn’t what I was thinking about anyway. I referred to a hypothetical power utility needing to add new capacity. The amount of total capacity is often determined by the highest demand that is expected during extreme weather events, either in the coldest part of the winter or the hottest part of the summer, depending on the local climate. Capacity is gigawatts (power). Your analysis is about GWh (energy).

If all we looked at is GWh of energy, we could make the argument that all we ever need is wind and solar and nothing else. I think you know better. It is the high demand GW of power generated early in the evening after a hot summer day that a utility needs to plan for. Yes, batteries can also be an option, albeit rather expensive. But I have yet to see just how extensively that battery option can be employed.

Building a large amount of renewables does reduce the amount of generation from the fossil plants. The reduction in generation from coal has been replaced by increases from natural gas as well as the new renewables. I have often admitted that.

But this move towards ever-increasing amounts of nondispatchable renewables has its limits.

  • Pete
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You are cherry picking again!!

Look at renewables which have gone from 20% to 30%.

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He keeps hiding the facts.

Long live XOM! We can kill our planet but the money will flow.


Sorry I was thinking of another thread.

  1. Some renewables are dispatchable: hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass.
  2. Energy storage in facilities like pumped hydro, batteries and other energy storage systems are also dispatchable.
  3. With increasing grid expansion power from a thousand miles away can be supporting dispatchable needs.

IMO, I see very small occasional limits on having enough electricity from renewables, energy storage, and grid when these systems have been built.