Showing posts from December, 2016

Cheaper than Coal

We hear a lot that "solar is already cheaper than coal," but this is obviously just PR. To begin with, these two sources of electricity cannot be easily compared. They are different animals altogether. Coal is a 24/7/365 type of power. Solar is intermittent and unreliable. Coal produced electricity tends to be more valuable because it is produced when it is needed. Solar, on the other hand, just dumps energy into the grid whether it is needed or not. Also, for the most part, solar PV does not allow the retirement of any conventional electricity capacity because at any particular moment the output from solar is zero and thus the conventional power plants have to supply the required power. At higher latitudes, the annual insolation variation can be extreme. For example, in Germany the insolation in July is close to ten times higher than during December. Additionally, Germany tends to require more electricity in the dead of winter. To be able to compare apples

Talking Straight

In the energy discourse we are sometimes very careful but hey, once in a while we have to talk straight. Here is what we have to say respecting some energy sources: Fracking: yes, it creates earthquakes (sometimes). However, since natural gas mostly replaces coal, this is the fastest way to reduce CO2 emissions (and increase methane ones). Also, renewables need reliable, dispatchable pairing power plants and natural gas is ideal in this application. Nuclear: there will be more nuclear power plant accidents. Let's get over it. Yet, in spite of the future accidents nuclear will almost certainly continue to be the safest energy we have. The greatest danger seems to be to overreact and order evacuations when they are not really needed. There is an inherent danger in modern life (just like in flying in an airplane) but hey, we are much, much better off than we were in the past. Oh, and by the way, nuclear is very low CO2. Lower than solar and a match for wind. Are you listen