Report: Solar Energy Now Costs Half That Of Coal In North America

290px-The_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819I have previously questioned the environmental and economic sense of President Donald Trump pushing the United States into greater coal consumption with the rest of the world developing alternative energy sources.  We seem to be pushing a buggy-whip economy as the world and markets pass us by.  My greatest concern is the hostility shown by the Trump Administration to new energy sources.  A touchstone of the industry is Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) which was used by investment bank Lazard to evaluate the current costs and prospects of different energy investments.  It found (as we have previously discussed) that alternative energy costs are plunging and solar energy is now half the cost of coal.

New solar panels are now more durable and function well without direct sunlight, including cloudy days, to produce energy.  Lazard found that the cost of producing one megawatt-hour of solar-produced electricity in North America is currently $50, compared to $102 for coal-origination. That is down from 2009 when it would have cost  $359 to produce that level of power with utility-scale solar arrays.  Wind-power is even cheaper at  $45 per megawatt-hour today.

The use of fossil fuels also create huge environmental and health costs.  Even if the costs were even, those externalized costs should push our country (as with our allies) toward a huge investment in alternative fuels.  This issue is not subsidies (which I generally oppose) but ending the preferential treatment given fossil fuels, including varied forms of government support.

Yet, coal has huge benefits to Congress with the energy lobby and West Virginia still remains a key state for the reelection plans of President Trump.  In fights over climate change and environmental legislation, fossil fuel companies and allied transportation and utility companies outspent both environmental groups and the renewable energy industry by a 10 to 1 on lobbying, according to a new study released this week.

The current position of the Administration would not be as alarming if it did not combine the priority given coal with a hostility toward alternative energy sources.  The United States needs to be positioned to compete in this global market in the development and deployment of this new technology.  Our retrogression on alternative fuels will stand as one of the most self-defeating and illogical policies of the modern era. It could well spell huge costs in our labor and technology markets as well as our environment.

115 thoughts on “Report: Solar Energy Now Costs Half That Of Coal In North America”

  1. i hate biglaw. but i liked most of my perfessers, including the leftists.
    i was plenty good at math and reasoning, my scores were about equal on sat and lsats

    i am not special that way. very few people are really good at words and really bad at math, even though you talk to people who say so
    really, I think those folks are usually just a little lazy or had bad teachers.

    math can be harder to teach and fudge, so lazy people don’t develop their innate skills
    math classes in college were the best ones I ever had. some of my earlier math teachers were totally incompetent by comparison. for some reason in my high school the verbal courses were taught by more competent instructors. makes a difference.

    the older I get the more I like math. i love it now, it’s almost fun, words become tiresome

  2. Seriously? It doesn’t take much researching effort, or common sense, to know that this is complete b.s. Very strange post by Turley.

  3. I have looked at Solar and it is not nearly as cost effective as coal and natural gas. I’m in favor of letting the market figure it out. If different sources can connect to the grid, then it’s a matter of costs, availability and reliability. Three key issues are the area required by solar panels, lack of output consistency due to weather and storage required to fill the gap when solar output is low. Plants would still be required and the costs of recovering their investment will increase if usage decreases. So, calculations are not so simple. Speaking as an engineer, you can create a model that proves pigs can fly!

  4. We could burn Trump MAGA hats and T-shirts for fuel, but US customs are stopping them coming into America from China because of Trump tariffs.

  5. “Our retrogression on alternative fuels will stand as one of the most self-defeating and illogical policies of the modern era. ”

    I think this is where Professor Turley incorporates the high volume poor quality information from the left. I used Solar panels decades ago to heat a pool because it existed in the house I purchased. Why? Because I saved money, lots of it and didn’t need one dime from the federal government to make my decision. If it is in a person’s self-interest they will buy it. In a newer home, I had a solar hot water heater and got rid of it. Why? Because it was problematic and cost more than electricity.

    I don’t know why Turley or the left believe in today’s world these items need to be subsidized. All they have to do is work and be less expensive for a shift to occur naturally. A lot of money was wasted pushing solar items after they matured because it created the production of items that were only bought because of the cash subsidy, not because they were any better or less expensive. In a free market a good product will survive and push out the older less efficient product.

    1. I don’t know why Turley or the left believe in today’s world these items need to be subsidized.

      1. To build patron-client relations intermediated by Democratic pols

      2. Because everything you might categorize as Stuff White People Like has to be publicly subsidized, from PBS to Rem Koolhaas.

      1. i never heard of him until you said his name. a five second glance tells me I don’t need to look any further.

    2. Allen, does this mean you are against corporate welfare? Because I’m with you on that.

      1. Fishwings, why would you think I was in favor of corporate welfare? You have been listening, haven’t you?

        1. You use the word subsidized, in real terms that means welfare, corporate or personal. Depending on what side of the aisle of congress it is…..

          1. FishWings, did you look at the context? Look again and then explain what you are talking about.

            “I don’t know why Turley or the left believe in today’s world these items need to be subsidized. All they have to do is work and be less expensive for a shift to occur naturally.”

    3. They do not even have to be less expensive. They just have to be higher value.

      The free market has shifted fuels many time – even at higher prices, for greater value. Specifically to get cleaner fuel.

  6. I was struck by Turley’s comment about solar cells working on cloudy days. The point Turley seems not to understand is that the available energy for solar cells to convert to electricity is proportional to the “sunlight” reaching the earth’s surface. No solar cell will generate electricity at night, no matter how efficient.

  7. The source article is from australia, and Austrailia’s renewable efforts have been disasterous.

    Our government should not be choosing.

    Whether Coal, NG. or Solar is the best way to deliver energy is not an issue for government.

    I have little doubt that Solar will be increasingly important over time.
    But there are still fundimental problems to solve.
    Absent affordable and reliable energy storage, Solar is NOT a primary source of power,
    it is a supliment to releive the burden on other sources during the day.

    We still have to have the whole grid and its other sources to cover the times the sun is not shining.

    1. The article notes that Australia’s renewable efforts were disastrous.

  8. TRUMP’S EMPHASIS ON FOSSIL FUELS IS A DENIAL OF SCIENCE

    As professor Turley makes clear, coal is 19th Century technology. The electrical power producers have no desire to maintain aging coal-fired plants. Yet Trump wants to use executive decrees to keep those plants online. This illustrates the vast ignorance of Donald Trump; an authoritarian seeking to keep us tethered to old technologies.

    In addition to keeping coal alive, Trump wants to open the entire U.S. coastline to oil drilling (with a political exemption for Florida). This initiative is also a denial of science. Science is telling us that the oceans are increasingly fragile from an environmental standpoint. Fresh seafood could become prohibitively expensive in this century.

    But we all know the Koch Bros network of political donors is determined to keep America dependent on oil regardless of environmental cost. For that reason Trump has instructed The Department of Interior, EPA and other agencies to assist the oil industry as much as possible. Trump’s idea of ‘draining the swamp’ is getting rid of ‘any’ bureaucrat hostile to the Koch Bros.

      1. Not more of this CAGW garbage.

        SLR has been near constant at 3.4mm per year since 1992
        At that rate we will see 1ft globally by 2100.

        Even IPCC’s AR5 does not actually predict threatening levels of SLR.

          1. The laws of physics.

            I am not interested in a “hand” measuring contest. Establishing that I have a bigger “hand” than you does not alter in the slightest whether my argument is valid.
            I am not going to engage in fallacious appeals to my own authority.

            I provide or you can easily find the facts to back up my arguments.

            If the facts are real and the logic valid the results are true – even if my IQ is below 80.

    1. Peter, now that Trump is going to strip the endangered species act, maybe we can start burning bald eagle feathers for fuel after we blow them out of the sky.

        1. Allen, I know some here don’t have a sense of humor, but if you want to check my homework before I turn it in, too late my dog ate it.

          1. I can imagine that you used the excuse “my dog ate it” a lot in earlier years.

            1. Try explaining that to republicans that love to subsidize to company’s that are in the black for years.

              1. I do, but I don’t think many people on this blog believe in corporate welfare, but a lot here on the left believe in all other types of welfare (to non-needy), PC crap and crazy things.

              2. If there is someone here arguing for corporate subsidies – I condemn them.

                Though I would suggest that corporate subsidies are bipartisan and growing ever more democratic.

                Solyandra as an example.

                And we have Fauxchantas who was single handledly responsible for the survivial of ExIm – the bank of Boeing when Republicans sought to kill it.

                Who is subsidizing planned parenthood ? Big Pharma ? Health Insurance companies ?

            2. Allen, I refuse to believe that you really think on what you write, then again, you might be the Antichrist.

              1. FishWings, all you had to do was ask and I would explain it to you, but you prefer to complain. Now go dig up what a statement of mine that you are talking about.

  9. Liberal Believers will fall for anything. Particularly studies of one ilk or another. BUT, belief does not alter the reality of numbers. Here is where the study goes wrong:

    What do the data show?

    Based on the electricity generated now by old coal-fired power stations with sunk costs (meaning money that has already been spent and cannot be recovered), Canavan was right to say: “I don’t accept that renewables are, at the moment, cheaper than coal.”

    In 2017, the marginal cost of generating power from an existing coal station is less than $40/MWh, while wind power is $60-70/MWh (explained below). So why do people say renewables are now cheaper than coal?

    Well, they’re often talking about what would be the cheaper option if old coal-fired power stations were replaced today – in other words, the new-build price.

    Making the distinction between the cost of existing energy generation and the cost of new-build energy generation in this debate is very important. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges

    http://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-is-coal-still-cheaper-than-renewables-as-an-energy-source-81263

    Read the whole explanation. It is like saying, a new house is cheaper on energy than your old house! Yeah, but if the old house is paid off, and the new house has to be paid for, you could end up spending $250,000 to save $50 a month in electricity. But yeah, it truly is a cheaper utility bill. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. SQUEEKY, YOU ACCIDENTALLY USED AN INTELLIGENT SOURCE!

      Your article and the excerpt you posted clearly say that coal is on it’s way out. Look that term, “New Build Price”. I don’t think you read this. I think you just googled the first thing you thought would rebut my post and never looked it over. This source you used is ‘not’ a right-wing outlet.

      1. Coal is likely to phase out naturally – if Government stays out of energy.

        At the moment NG is the actual “big thing” Gas Turbine generators are scaleable – from huge plants to units that can provide power to a town a factory a suburb or even a house.

        The generated price is higher than coal, but NG plants can be shutdown and brought up as needed, Coal plants take days to bring online and shutdown.

        NG plants do not require the same bandwidth in the grid as they can be closer to the point of demand. Much of the country already has a NG infrastructure.

        NG and solar work together reasonably well – as you can run off solar when there is sun and bring up the NG when there is not.

        But who knows – get the government out of it and we may find a better alternative.
        At some point we will work out hoe to cost effectively do biofuels. Corn is not the most effective means. That will occur faster if we get government out of the process.

        And there are even alternative ways to use coal either to produce vehicle fuels or to produce NG equivalents.

        1. “effectively do biofuels. Corn is not the most effective means.”

          Not a comment for Dhlii rather the left that never considers unintended consequences. Corn is a good biofuel so we started to use corn. That increased the cost of corn which increased the cost of rice and that increase in price caused people to starve. Starving people end up doing a lot of things, even killing other people.

          Common sense and economic knowledge tell us we have a mechanism to communicate these things and that common sense has a pipeline known as money.

          1. The implication of legislated cross-subsidies is that the market does not economize on information. There are four discrete areas in which market participants do not produce goods and services or the production, pricing, and consumption are at socially suboptimal levels. None of these are addressed by the concatenation of tax preferences and USDA administered subsidies of which Congress is so fond.

            1. i got a headache trying to read that para. plain english, you don’t like!

              1. Not my fault. The new WordPress theme does that to things in blockquotes. Yesterday, I started using just plain quotation marks instead of blockquotes, but I forgot to do it today. I hate that style, too.

                But, I have been distracted with a new toy.

                Squeeky Fromm
                Girl Reporter

            2. “There are four discrete areas”

              Please elaborate.

              I am aware of only 3 exceptions to the laws of supply and demand.
              2 of those are hypothetical – no real world instance has ever existed.

              The only one that has a real world instance – vanity goods, products that are in demand specifically because they are expensive and the expense is itself a status symbol are a tiny part of any market.

          2. Corn is an abysmal biofuel. Sugar cane is far superior as one example.
            We only use corn because in multiple ways govenrment subsidizes it

        2. dhii, Railroads, the telephone system, interstate highways and the internet were all built with some form of government assistance. Why would we want the government to stay out of the transition to clean energies? It makes more sense to do it as quickly as possible so we don’t fall behind China.

          1. Railroads
            Some railroads took absolutely no public assistance – not even land grants. Those are the only ones that have survived until today.
            Regardless, history both in the US and elsewhere proves there is no necescity for government to assist and that historically that tends to make the railroads, more expensive, and less efficient.

            “the telephone system”
            The Telephone system did not come under Government until FDR, Mostly Government has been a regulator and a hiderance not a help.
            The Cell system is almost entirely private – in fact it is almost entirely private througout the world.

            “interstate highways”
            Roads in the US and throughout much of the world have been built without government.

            “and the internet”
            Much of the brianpower behind the internet was developed by unpaid university volunteers.
            The government bought a tiny bit of the early equipment.
            Concurrently, Microsoft, 3COM, Novel and many others were developing networks completely without government assistance.
            The governments real contribution to the internet was standards, not the network itself – and even those were entirely done by unpaid volunteers.

            The internet did not explode until it left the university – until private ISP’s connected ordinary people on private networks to their homes.

            We have an entirely private cable TV and Internet network – that the only thing government has done for is regulate away competition so that it is more expensive.

            “were all built with some form of government assistance.”
            The record of government assistance has delayed development and increased cost.

            “Why would we want the government to stay out of the transition to clean energies?”
            There is no “transition to clean energies”, we have been using energy for 150K years.
            The past 500 years have had shifts in energy from dirtier to cleaner in each and every instance.
            No previous transition has required government.

            “It makes more sense to do it as quickly as possible so we don’t fall behind China.”
            No actually it does not.

            Both parts of your statement rest on false assumptions.

            The time at which we should change is not magically fixed.
            It should occur when it is time – not sooner not later.

            There is no such thing as “clean energy” there is just cleaner energy.
            Today choices like wind, solar and bio are not yet ready.
            Every nation in the world that has tried to rush the process has radically increased its costs and degreaded the reliability of its energy infrastructure.
            The only forms of “clean” energy that is are ready for prime time today are NG and Nuclear, and Nuclear is impossible unless we get government out of the way.

            I have no doubt we will so alternatives increasingly common in the future – when they are truly ready.
            They are not. Nothing will delay them more than government funding.

            There is one form of clean energy that is actually cost effective and practical today.
            Solar Hot water. But it was effectively Killed by Carter’s subsidies before it was ready.
            Solar Hot Water has several problems – it is really only cost effective for domestic hot water – not heating.
            It has a high enough upfront cost, it is a small market, and too many players were killed off by yoyo government subsidies.

            If you really and truly want to see progress towards the future – get government out of the way.

            Look arround – progress is made much faster in any industry that government is only lightly involved in.

            Lastly – You have failed to make a compelling argument that government is needed in areas like transportation and communication where they have traditionally controlled.
            Why do you think that expanding their domain is going to work better.

          2. Sorry, I forgot.

            Why do you care about “falling behind china” ?
            While there are powerful reasons that is not happening soon.

            What if it did ?

            The economy is NOT zero sum. Chinese success makes us richer – not poorer, just as our success benefits china as well.

            The objective is not for the US to dominate the world. It is for everyone, including us to be better off today than tomorow.

            Free markets deliver on that. Government does not.

          3. Railroads, the telephone system, interstate highways and the internet were all built with some form of government assistance. Why would we want the government to stay out of the transition to clean energies?

            Railroads were assisted through land grants (at a time when much of the country was very sparsely populated), the telephone system is a natural monopoly (and, no, the development of telephone services was not in any consequential way assisted by the federal government bar the Patent Office), roadways (including the Interstate system) are public goods, and the development of the internet was a byproduct of research into military technology. Fuels and other energy sources are not public goods; except for pipelines, the development and marketing of fuels does not require any kind of right of way; and military research isn’t a consequential source of solar or wind technology. It’s all candy for well-connected businesses like Solyndra. That’s what Democrats do.

      2. Not being a Partisan Shill, I always try to use intelligent sources. After all, I am more interested in the truth of things, and REALITY, than I am trying to prop up a political party.

        I am NOT a person who is in favor of expensive electricity. BUT, the study cited here is not for those who do not understand basic cost accounting. Let me give you another example.

        Bob has a nice desktop computer that he bought last year for $1,000. It does everything he wants it to do (basic word processing), and it will last for years. Even if the hard drives kersplats, he can still fix it for less than $100.

        However, Walmart has just put a comparable computer on sale for $600! Oh boy! If Bob buys the new computer, his Computer Cost Per Word will go down significantly!

        Sooo, will Bob save money if he buys the new computer??? You decide.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  10. The left despises coal miners because they live in rural areas and voted for Trump. Today’s left does not even make a pretense of supporting the white working class, their jobs or interests. They openly despise them for a host of reasons. At least they are honest about it. And the feeling is mutual.

    1. he does have the energy of a Captain Ahab I will give that to him. You can compare Trump’s vision, clarity, intensity to Ahab or another figure from literature I like, Mistah Kurtz

  11. In order for me to use solar, I would have to cut down 50 trees that absorbs a ton of CO2 annually. .But, I would have a nice view of a giant array of solar panels instead of all those ugly trees.

    1. I guess you’ve never been to Germany. The weather in Germany tends to be cloudy much of the time. While solar panels will convert light into electricity (energy can not be created, it can only be transformed), lower levels of light mean lower levels of electrical energy output.

  12. If the govt. was to invest into anything, it should be Thorium (LFTR) reactors. It’s technology that we have had in our back pockets for decades but refuse to develop because of peoples ignorance (miss-information) from Hollywood types like Jane Fonda.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor
    Our reactor development is an interesting story. It’s a shame that the bomb was developed first and the DOD had a say in our direction.

    1. a very promising technology indeed and it long has been so. good point

    2. Jim, I know nothing or near nothing about Thorium. I know its alternative is used so unless there are obvious cost savers with it, those paying for such a project will be scared away by the unknown. What country has a Thorium reactor and what was their experience?

      1. Thorium and particularly LFTR is atleast in theory an extremely attractive source of nuclear power.
        Covering everything about it is a task for books – and hundreds of video’s on youtube.

        But the bottom line is that it is near certain far superior and safer than todays nuclear plant’s.
        But it has a large number of what are engineering rather than science problems to be solved.
        As an example – while it is not a preasurized system and is by design fail safe – no possibility of a chernobyl or Three Mile Island,
        It requires traditional nuclear fuels to start, and the reactor is exposed to extremely corrosive molten salts at very high temperatures.

        It is near certain that had LFTR had the engineering invested in it that pressurized water reactors do, we would have incredible safe and small LFTR reactors today.

        Proponents beleive it is suitable as a power plant in a home. I think that is reaching, but it is still a scaleable technology while traditional nuclear reactors are not.

      2. There is massive cost savings, and enormous safety increases.

        There are also large engineering problems that are not really solved in an economically feasible way yet.
        The science is sound. the basic designs are sound. The benefits are sound.
        But like Solar it is not there yet.

      3. The US operated a Thorium reactor successfully in the late 50’s – I beleive for about 2 years.

      4. What was the experience ? It was a DOE project and one of the goals of the DOE at the time was to produce nuclear materials for bombs.
        Thorium reactors can not produce materials for any current bomb design – Contra thorium proponents, thorium reactors can produce materials that can be made into bombs.
        But U-233 which is the fissile material produced by a Thorium reactor is dangerous to work with in a bomb making project, incredibly easy to detect, and produces low yeild weapons – very few U233 weapons have ever been detonated. No one would make a U-233 bomb unless they had lots of Thorium and no way to get U235 or Plutonium.

  13. Prof. Turley continues to demonstrate that people go to law school because they have problems with mathematics, statistics, and quantitative thinking generally.

    Here’s a suggestion:

    1. Slap an excise on motor fuels sufficient to finance all the road maintenance undertaken by federal, state and local government. The federal government could survey the sum of road maintenance budgets nationally and a federal commission could tweak the dollar value taking into account the short-term and long-term elasticities of motor-fuel consumption in projecting the total revenue stream. The liability of vendors to the federal government would be $x per gallon less what they paid to state and local authorities, which would encourage state governments to adjust their rates to capture the revenue. Any federal collections would then be apportioned among the states on a per-acres-of-macadam basis. States would apportion their revenues between a dedicated fund financing the state highway department, financing each county highway department, and financing each muncipal department, divvying up the money on a per-acres-of-macadam basis.

    2. Slap Pigou levies on efflubia. Federal and state governments could do this. The size of the levies would be arbitrary. They might be tweaked each year to reach global emissions levels determined a priori. In lieu of using them as a revenue generator, place them in a fund and then empty the fund by issuing a rebate to direct taxpayers of $x per household or $y per person. In states without an income tax, the state treasury could build a database of local property taxpayers and remit $z per household.

    With certain costs and extternalities addressed, let producers and consumers make their own decisions. If use of alternative energy sources actually is pareto efficient, consumers and producers will make the switch under their own steam. There is no need whatsoever to have an academic like Steven Chu supervising a venture capital business under the auspices of the Department of Energy, much less to do so because of status-conscious emulation of the follies of European governments. We have real venture capitalists and real bankers who know their business better than Jonathan Turley or Steven Chu can know their business.

    1. ” let producers and consumers make their own decisions. If use of alternative energy sources actually is pareto efficient, consumers and producers will make the switch under their own steam. ”

      I can feel isaac starting to stroke out. Buttt where’s the govt. in that solution?

      1. In the case of energy producers make the decisions, consumers have little to say about it. The tech revolution happened so easily because there was no status quo. There was no industry that was going to lose to computers and the like. This was an industry that, unlike the automobile industry, did not replace anything. This is a pure situation. In both situations/industries tech and auto, the beginning products were nothing compared to what came shortly after. A Mac cost $4000 or more and it was a joke compared to what is there now. Some early cars carried a supply of firewood to fuel the boiler. There was no status quo and these early and unconvincing examples did not impede progress.

        The energy situation is the opposite of pure. The energy industry is run by monopolies and oligarchs in America as well as abroad. The only reason renewable energy has not blossomed in the US is because fossil fuels have been kept in abundant supply and cheap enough. However, there is a basement for the cost of fossil fuels and technology is lowering the cost of renewables. One of the reasons why Europe, India, and China have eclipsed the US in wind turbine and solar is because they do not have cheap fossil fuels. Another reason is that they utilize the coordination of the people’s interest through the government, the stability of labor, and the private sector; all in balance.

        With America’s low cost fossil fuels, its oligarchs, and those without vision, the rest of the world is passing us by.

        If it were up to producers and consumers on an equal and unfettered basis, the US would be leading the world in renewable technology and exporting trillions of dollars of wind turbines and solar systems. But it’s not.

        1. You are just plain wrong.
          I imagine there were plenty of horse and buggy companies really pissed off about the automobile.
          What about reciprocating engine airplanes vs. jets?
          Film vs Digital photography?
          Outhouses vs. indoor plumbing?
          Records vs. Radio vs TV?
          Standard Fuel vs electricity (was there anyone more powerful than Rockefeller and he could not stop the change to electric which had zero infrastructure).

          Status quo has nothing to do with it. Make a better product and you will win. Solar and wind are not there no matter how much you want them to be.

          1. Jim22

            There were plenty of horse and buggy companies but nothing compared to the present day fossil fuel, hydro, and nuclear oligarchs.

            As for a better product, imports of solar cells and wind turbines prove you wrong. Heavy wind turbines are being imported into the US by the thousands at ten million a pop. My point in all this is that the energy revolution is happening but the US is not profiting. The high paying jobs and net profits are going to the countries that develop and manufacture the products. The US is left with installation and maintenance, substantially lesser paying professions. Thirty to Forty years ago the technology was coming out of the US but global corporations like GE sold the technology to countries like China and now the US in importing billions in heavy wind turbines, much of them from China, from companies that use GE technology.

            You can follow Trump and ‘fight back’ with tariffs against the usurpation of American technology but when the US corporation sells the root item to fatten its share price, who is really to blame. The US is being left behind. The US and other global corporations are putting themselves ahead of the nation that developed the stuff.

            Much of what made the tech revolution seem unviable at the beginning was lack of coordination and lack of government support. The Clinton administration provided much needed support and the private sector, primarily Apple and Microsoft duked it out until they became coordinated. Back in the 70s and even into the 80s not many would have foreseen today.

            The status quo energy suppliers hamstring renewable energy primarily because they are private enterprises supposedly the result of supply and demand, the free market system, etc. This is mostly BS. The US energy grid is primarily controlled by the status quo as it was developed by the status quo. The US energy grid is so out of date and inefficient that it loses almost 15% of the energy just transporting it around the antiquated and redundant paths that have been patched together over the decades. This grid is controlled by the status quo. There are investment firms in the US and abroad that are ready to commit to wind turbine and solar installations on scales that are more efficient and more cost effective than that of the status quo, but will not invest until they can access the grid. They won’t risk investing billions and then not be able to get their product to the consumer. The status quo puts its fossil fuel, hydro, and nuclear energies first over the renewables. This is a uniquely American thing. Other countries have been able to work all energy sources together for the benefit of the people. The market does not find a way to first benefit the people. The market will first benefit those in control, then the people.

            Energy, health care, education, welfare, and other social issues must be coordinated primarily for the benefit of the people with profit making there, but not in control. The first Priuses cost 20% more to make than their sales price. The difference was made up through government incentives and corporate investment. Not long after their debut, Prius became a profit making enterprise. The advent of renewable energy systems will take the combined coordination of government incentives, entrepreneurial investment, and above the best interests of the consumer.

            A prime example of corporations and the free market system screwing the people can be seen in the diminution of the US Auto Industry. Japan and European governments mandated better gas mileage and lower pollution while the Big Three invoked planned obsolescence. Japan and the European governments coordinated with corporate and labor. The US invoked some sort of sacred right or dictum that allows the corporations that are the result of the people, not the CEOs to do whatever they wished for the benefit of the few stockholders. In a few short decades the US Auto workforce shrunk to a quarter of what it was, American cars became known as a joke, and now Japan and Europe control what once was the domain of the US. BMW, Mercedes, and the Japanese car manufacturers aren’t building plants in the US to produce cars for export to China due to tariffs. They do that because labor costs are cheaper, ie salaries are less than in their own countries, and the US leaves it all up to the private sector where most other countries coordinate government benefits, corporate investment, and labor cooperation. With lower health and education costs and higher quality health and education conditions, regardless of higher taxes, the workers in these countries have more disposable income after taxes. Only in America can being sick wipe out a person and/or family financially.

            To understand this one must take a concentrated look at the past seventy years. From 1950 until now, the US has been resting on its laurels, riding a momentum, and now complaining about the results. The quality of life in the US has dropped substantially. The US is the last country to adhere to health care as a consumer product left to the core dictum of free enterprise, ‘What the market will bear.’ In other words, in this oligarchy where the special interests control the Democracy based Republic, the status quo takes precedence over the best interests of the people.

        2. “In the case of energy producers make the decisions, consumers have little to say about it.”

          Bzzt, wrong. You are always free to not buy.
          Do that for a short period and you can bring any supplier to their knees.

        3. Go to youtube or use google. If you think that energy oligarchs are depriving your of renewable energy – everything you need to concoct your own systems is readily available .

          Build your own turbines or solar pannels.

          If renewables were so effective and oligarchs were stiffling them – you would see a booming garage renewable industry.

    2. 1). That is already how things work – except that the highway funds get periodically raided for other projects,
      and periodically govenrment announces our infrustructure is in shitty shape – despite the fact than pretty much everyone’s Mark I eyeball will find their roads as good as they have ever been, and they decide to spend a Trillion dollars on infrastructure as stimulus.

      Both parties push this garbage.

    3. Read Coases law. As the free market constantly reduces transaction costs, all of the issues you think are “externalities” solve them selves.

      I would suggest looking at Maslowes heirachy of needs. As we become more affluent we seek to fullfill needs higher up the pyramid.

      What you are calling externalities are really wants and needs we have only recently been able to afford to fullfill

      1. Read Coases law. As the free market constantly reduces transaction costs, all of the issues you think are “externalities” solve them selves.

        They don’t. Buzz off.

        1. So you are saying that Nobel Prize Winner Ronald Coase – one of the 4 greatest economicst of the past 100 years is stupid and wrong ?

          So you are saying that 90% of economics over the past 3 centuries is wrong ?

    4. your insult of lawyers adds nothing to your point, but, you probably amused yourself by saying it

  14. I can attest to the benefits of wind and solar. But then my house is 32′ long and 9′ wide at it’s widest. Wind Gen running for 20 years now and three panels totaling 200 watts of energy and I’m in sunshine and winds 350 days of the year. I also have a tie up dock with 110 and 220 available and included whether I use it or not. Not everyone fits that description. .

    The percentage of American people is by no means anywhere near 50 percent plus that can make use of these methods.Then subtract those that cannot afford rewiring and buying all new everything.

    I should add in the hottest part of the year that dock plug in runs a 5,000 BTU AC and I have two propane tanks. to handle cooking on two burners no oven,

    So far solar production in the USA does not equal that of one nuclear plant.
    Winds don’t blow every day except maybe in the Great Plains, Nor does the sunshine everywhere all of the time. There are no magic switches to flip. And the electric cars? Check out the cost of charging those batteries to do those 40-50 miles. That still requires coal, dams, gas,

    We are the most wired up country in the world.

    IF there is something at the other end of that magic switch.

    Now look at China which is putting in a 500 coal plant grid plus using the other methods.

    Our population grows but our production capability does not match that growth and worse we aren’t keeping pace using all available means.Instead we are tearing them down without replacement Especially in Washington DC.

    Realistically I only know of one exploitable method – using old jet aircraft engines fueled by coal slurry of which WVA and VA have a ready abundance,

    Easy for me to say….. what are YOU going to do

    Oh yes we export oil …. but won’t use it pooh pooh coal, sneer at gas and wave angry fists at dams. Those are your choices I just turn the solar panels a few degrees three times a day, My magic switch works 365 a year. You get to shake your fist at clouds and wonder when the wind will start blowing

    And you get to freeze and sweat. Four P’s P** poor prior planning and wishful thinking does not impress mother nature.

  15. We were in Portland last month where I saw some solar panels on a building. Had to laugh.

  16. America’s shame is that it is an oligarchy, run by special interests, in this case the fossil fuel industry, through their bought and paid for representatives. But this can’t be true because some one from North of the border keeps bringing it up.

    The US was in economic decline following the end of the Vietnam War when the teat of the military industrial complex started to shrink along with the teat of the US manufacturing sector, primarily the auto industry. The heydays when the US produced most of the stuff the emerging middle classes consumed dissolved into the reality that Japan, Europe, and emerging China could produce them better and/or cheaper. The tech revolution saved America’s butt. The average person in the world geared up to consume hundreds if not thousands of dollars of toys and equipment each year.

    Now the next economic revolution or wealth generator is in its infancy, obvious to all but the idiot. The transfer of fossil fuel sourced energy to renewable energy is a revolution that will eclipse the tech revolution and create wealth for those who, as with the tech revolution, are there at the beginning. The US is not there. This is the beginning. The politicians bought and paid for by the fossil fuel oligarchs and the idiots/dupes that have been naysaying renewable energy for decades are the cause.

    Denmark, China, Spain, India, Germany and a few other countries with vision are leading the way. Their economies are reaping the benefits as the US and other countries import their products sending American wealth abroad.

    Solar cells are vastly more efficient today that they were decades ago. Wind turbines produce energy at the five and ten megawatt levels instead of the hundred kilowatt level of a few short decades ago. That evolution is continuing. Thirty years ago GE, supposedly an American company but in reality a global company, sold its wind turbine technology cheap to China. This increased the stock prices, CEO salaries, from the sale of something created in America by American workers. Now the US is importing Chinese wind turbines developed with GE technology and Chinese brains. When consumers pay their utility bills in the US, the profits go back to China.

    The most perverse interpretation of the sacred texts and/or the most delusional perspective of what America is all about cannot justify this. As long as America is run by oligarchs and elections are designed by oligarch and special interest funding, this will be the case. Perhaps America should look abroad for ideas as to how democracy really works, North of the border, East of the border, West of the border, South of the border.

    1. Once again isaac ignores the elephant in the room. If alternatives are really this great, you won’t need govt. assistance to push them along. The people will demand it and the market will respond. But this would mean you actually have to believe in the free market, something I’m sure isaac has a problem with.

      I worked with one of the leading wind turbine engineers from GE when I worked in the power gen turbine combustion industry. He way smarter than me and I got to to talking to hm about wind tech. and I was shocked when he told me the truth about how bad it was. In fact, he was shocked himself. They all went out there thinking this is the greatest, not so much.

      Even if what isaac is saying is true, his hypothesis is wrong. He is making an assumption that only the first in can be successful. If that were the case, a company called Ford would have never made it.

      1. Jim22

        This is also part of the problem, ignorance. Ignorance is accepting bits and pieces, typically ‘someone told me’ over statistics and facts, available in endless and reinforcing amounts.

        Wind turbines and solar cells are not as consistent and controllable as fossil fuels. However they are far, far, less polluting and cheaper in the long run. Twenty years ago small towns in remote areas that used diesel fuel generators to produce electricity installed one or more wind turbines and over the course of a few years saved substantial sums using the intermittent wind generated energy with diesel as a back up. The wind turbines are typically good for twenty years, pay for themselves in less than five years, after that it is all profit. Fossil fuel back up systems are only held back by the fossil fuel industry.

        Hydrogen which is a clean fuel that is in a gestating mode at this time, takes energy to produce. In other words it is a fuel that is the result of using another fuel. Solar and wind are intermittent. Hydrogen can be stored. Power sources can be developed using wind and/or solar with hydrogen as a back up creating a constant flow of energy.

        Many years ago an island off the coast of Spain consumed vast quantities of diesel fuel to power its generators. The island had mountains. Reservoirs were created in elevated areas and abundant solar energy pumped water up from the sea into these reservoirs as well as powering the island in day time. At night the reservoirs released water that powered the island as with a hydro electric system. The cost of electricity dropped substantially. Pollution dropped substantially. Renewable power uninterrupted.

        If wind power and solar power are not all they are cracked up to be, then why are Chinese banks funding Chinese energy companies to install thousands of wind turbines in Texas and other states? Denmark exports 40% of the world’s heavy wind turbines at ten million a pop. Spain, India, China, Germany and other counties have coordinated government and the private sector to take the leads in this industry, creating hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs and creating vast wealth and savings for their countries. There is no such thing as a free market system. The system is either controlled by monopolies or the status quo or government. The freest and most beneficial economic system is the one that coordinates the people through the government and their best interests, with labor, and the private sector or capital. Most other countries are getting this. The US not so much. The saving grace for the US as its wealth erodes and it loses market shares to the more coordinated nations is its size and momentum. Momentum is energy spent one way and if not renewed, dies out. With Trump isolating America, the rest of the world and its two billion who consume at the same level as America, will trade amongst themselves at America’s expense. Europe just signed trade agreements with Japan that create an economic and consumer entity of 600 million. This is partially the result of Trump axing the TPP. The TPP was designed to create more jobs and commerce among the Pacific Rim nations, excluding China, to keep China in balance. In other words, Europe just did to the US what the US and other Pacific Rim countries were trying to do to China. This is the status quo and the idiot Trump at work, backed up by the ignorant and mindlessly hyper national.

        The reasons why the US does not lead the world in this new economic revolution are: the status quo, ignorance, and complacency. ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it.’ is taken as intelligence in the US. In actual fact it is anathema to the American identity, an identity that has slowly eroded away and been replaced by the mindless acceptance of ‘We’re number one.’

        1. So talking with one of the leading wind turbine engineers from GE is ignorance but talking about some small island off of Spain isn’t? That’s all I need to know.

          1. Jim, Issac is a leftist and an architect so he knows what he is talking about. None of the homes, businesses or whatever he has built attach themselves to the grid. They all use wind power and a lot of his hot air.

    2. “America’s shame is that it is an oligarchy, run by special interests, in this case the fossil fuel industry, through their bought and paid for representatives.”

      *****************

      True dat. I waited behind Massey Coal and Phillips Petroleum at the polls last time around. Those corps move awfully slow and don’t look good in an “I Voted” sticker.

      1. I’ll believe corporations should have the same rights as citizens when Texas executes a corporation.

        Nuf sedz

      2. and yet a former coal exec just got spanked in a WV primary, if I recall correctly. some oligarchy, they better get their act together!

    3. America’s decline since Vietnam is why US standard of living is 1/3 higher than the EU, and 20-25% higher than France, Germany, UK,

      But reality should never get in the way of a good left wing nut meme.

    1. mespo – this sounds more reasonable. SolarCity allows us to rent the panels for 30 years and in AZ with the amount of sun we have it can be a real reduction. However, if you sell the house, the rental of the panels goes with it.

      1. Paul:
        I looked into solar for my river house. The install costs were high and the return wasn’t great. I’ll keep my coal-fired pole electricity thank you.

        1. Try living downwind of a coal fired power plant. You’ll change your mind.

    2. Gas combined cycle is the winner. I used to work in that field. One has to wonder too, how much of the coal cost is due to govt. regulation?

      1. For the moment you are likely correct. But it does not matter. Get government out of this, get rid of subsidies and penalties and the market will figure out the best choice for the moment.

        We have changed energy sources many times – from dung and peat and wood to coal to whale oil to oil, to gas and electric.

    3. See the admission of Thomas Perez: he went to law school because he was bad at math. Some lawyers are worse at math than others. See also the remarks of Joseph Stiglitz on intramural arguments over public policy in the executive branch: it’s commonly a dispute between economists and lawyers. It’s a reasonable wager that the lawyers are seldom i the right.

      1. TSD:

        Well, there was that joke around the law school that “if we could do the math and keep the hours, we’d all be in medical school.” The again, we were writing constitutions when the docs were using leeches to cure people.

        I’m not quite sure why you don’t like lawyers. If you had a legal problem, would you call a noble cobbler?

        1. 1. I don’t mind rank-and-file attorneys. I don’t mind mid-law, either. As a rule, trial judges don’t bother me if they behave properly.

          2. I do mind appellate judges and the shallow smart-assed clerks they employ. They fancy they’re the school principal and elected officials are the student council. The result is travesties like Obergefell and Roe.

          3. I do mind law professors. They manufacture clever and casuisitic excuses for the abuse of power of appellate judges. On information and belief, I’d also fault them for providing a bloated curriculum designed to train appellate judges and not working lawyers. I’ll blame them yet again for requiring baccalaureate degrees to enter their professional schools, While we’re at it, let’s smack ’em for bloated admissions, a function of federal student aid. You could cut the production of JD’s by a third and you’d still have ample entrants to staff the legal profession.

          4. I do mind the staffing of political offices with the issue of law schools. For all the JD’s who sit in our legislatures (many of whom, like Charles Schumer, hardly practiced law), they still produce a mess.

          5. I do mind BigLaw. I’m not sure there’s any analogue to it in other occidental countries. When there’s an opportunity to earn vast incomes for making transactions happen or protect you against some other lawyer, I have a strong suspicion that you’ve got a great deal of rent-seeking going on. I suspect this is especially true in regard to intellectual property.

          6. I do mind aspects of the tort system. One has been the ever dizzier conceptions of liability. The other has been the transactions costs involved.

          7. I do mind court administration and the rubrics of trial practice. See the Jodi Arias case.

          8. I don’t like contemporary practice in plea bargaining, criminal sentencing, or parole.

          1. While we’re at it, I loathe ‘public interest lawyers’. They’re the accomplices of the misfeasant appellate judges.

  17. Benefits for Congress and Trump….isn’t that special. Self interest instead of the interests of the American People.

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