While USEPA is trying to reduce the number of regulations it has, the climate industrial complex (CIC) is busy making use of Federal and other subsidies to promote their inefficient, unreliable, and expensive “renewable” sources of electric power. America, however, is more and more dependent on reliable and inexpensive electric power for almost everything it does. One problem is that each proposed new “renewable” site has its own environmental problems such as killing birds or offensive sounds bombarding humans. They are also all very high cost when the costs of turning intermittent, unreliable electric power into useful, continuous, reliable energy are taken into account.
And now that it has been rigorously shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have no significant effect on global temperatures in the real world it is long past time to bring a halt to the use of taxpayer and ratepayer money to build additional wind and solar generating plants in addition to removing all regulations which have the effect of killing existing “non-renewable” power plants without a solid environmental justification. The case that the CIC has long made that CO2 has a significant effect on temperatures has always been shaky at best and has never been proved. Now we know that it is simply wrong. Yet the CIC is continuing to try to spend other people’s money–that of ratepayers and taxpayers–to build ever more wind and solar power plants. If this is allowed to continue, it will hobble America’s future just as it already has Germany’s and other Western European nations who have bought into the climate alarmist scam.
This post presents testimony I and another climate skeptic, William Stewart, gave on Wednesday on one of the largest of these proposed new sites, the proposed Pleinmont solar farm in Spotsylvania County in Northern Virginia, about 50 miles south of Washington, DC. If built, it would be a 500MW solar photovoltaic facility that would be the 12rh largest in the world and fifth largest in the US.
On Wednesday, May 23, I testified on this proposal at a public hearing conducted by the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond, VA. Although my testimony has some references to problems unique to this particular proposal and state regulatory agency, most of the problems I raised are likely to be similar those at most other proposed solar and wind sites. Since many of the same arguments can be applied to any wind or solar electrical generation project (other than specialized plants in unique areas that cannot be served by non-renewable sources), all such projects are also not in the public interest. Accordingly, the arguments presented here may help others faced with trying to defeat these projects.
Bill Stewart’s testimony is primarily about this one site, and makes many telling points concerning its many drawbacks, risks, and uncertainties, but also includes some more general comments. His comments will be found after mine and should also be useful to those fighting such proposals.
Why the SCC Should Not Grant Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for Proposed Pleinmont Solar Farm Development in Spotsylvania County, with Emphasis on Science and Particularly Energy Economics
Testimony by Dr. Alan Carlin, [address], at SCC Hearing on May 23, 2018 in Richmond, VA
I am Dr. Alan Carlin, a 39 year scientist/economist with the USEPA, retiring in 2010. I have a BS in physics from Caltech, and a PhD in economics from MIT, and have carried out, supervised, and published considerable research over the last 50 years on the economic and scientific aspects of environmental problems, particularly energy and electric power issues. Further details are in the written version of this testimony in opposition to the proposed Pleinmont Solar Farm Development in Spotsylvania County.
Climate alarmists for many years have claimed that 97% of climate scientists agree that the earth is warming primarily because of human emissions of CO2. Science, however, is based on use of the scientific method, not who claims to have the largest number of supporters.
As far as climate in general, it is true that many scientists dependent on a salary from the Federal Government support (whether they believe it or not) the 97% claim, but those believing otherwise do not dare say so, as they would not only be fired for deviating from the so-called “consensus,” but also be blackballed from the industry, and financially ruined for life.
At no time has my salary been paid directly or indirectly by either natural resource development interests or non-governmental environmental organizations.
But there is a lot of new and credible science that has been produced, some within the last year, and there is a growing body of retired scientists and others not in fear of ruin who have dared to speak up.
As explained in my written testimony, I find the proposed Pleinmont Solar project to be one of the worst projects from an economic and environmental viewpoint I have reviewed.
It is not in the public interest that this project be built and the SCC should not allow it to be built in Virginia.
• Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a beneficial gas, not a pollutant–so the social cost of carbon (SCC) is negative–since CO2 is so very critical to plant growth and therefore human life; reducing CO2 emissions hurts plants and indirectly humans, and may have catastrophic consequences during the next ice age due to plant starvation for CO2.
• Credible recent research shows that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels have had no significant effect on global temperatures over the last half century or so; that leaves only green vanity (sometimes called virtue signaling) as an argument for the proposed Pleinmont Solar development.
• Green vanity might help Microsoft reduce the Climate Industrial Complex’s criticism of its energy use, but will not help Virginia and Virginians, who will be stuck with the loss of ten square miles of land useful for other purposes, higher prices for electricity, reduced reliability of its power grid, substantial risks from catastrophic wind damage to the panels and release into the environment of the toxic materials they contain, and likely severe damage from greatly increased water runoff resulting from the clearing of the land and the building and operation of the solar farm. This is a very steep price to pay for Microsoft to increase its bragging rights for increasing the percentage of “green” energy that it uses.
• Since there are no significant temperature effects from reducing CO2 emissions, all future Federal, state, and private sector decisions regarding the Nation’s electric power grid need to focus solely on minimizing consumer electricity prices as well as maximizing grid reliability and resilience since. I hope these reflect the goals of the SCC. No consumer electricity price increases should be permitted by the SCC that result from increased renewables/energy storage grid penetration. There is no economic justification for subsidies for such facilities to be given at any level of government.
• The proposed Pleinmont Solar development in Spotsylvania County does not meet these requirements. If such developments must ever be approved elsewhere they at the very least need to be placed in areas without high winds, and with little rain, comparatively flat ground, and abundant sunshine, such as the Southwestern deserts, not in Virginia. The results will be no better and perhaps worse than the disastrous experience in Germany.
• The SCC should deny approval of Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for this proposed project in Spotsylvania County. It will only provide unreliable, intermittent power, not the base load power Microsoft (and other users) needs to keep its servers operating reliably to meet the needs of their customers. Virginians will be left with no benefits but increased electricity costs, decreased reliability of the electric grid, many environmental risks, and impaired land in and near the 10 square mile site, including an adjacent residential area.
Additional Written Testimony
1.1 Summary of Scientific Arguments for Denying CPCNs
1.2 Detailed Scientific Arguments
2.1 Summary of Energy Economic Arguments for Denying CPSNs
Appendix A: My Background [omitted here since it is similar to the about page on this Website]
Appendix B: My Publications [omitted here since it is similar to the http://www.carlineconomics.com”>publications page on this Website]
Appendix C: Detailed Energy Economic Arguments
Appendix D: Congressional Testimony by Dr. John Christy
1.1 Summary of Scientific Arguments for Denying CPCNs
The science section of this testimony makes clear that the UN and EPA findings, claiming GHG/CO2 emissions were causing dangerous global warming, do not satisfy the scientific method. The EPA findings were predicated on three Lines of Evidence that are quite readily specified as hypotheses that can be tested via the scientific method. As challenges to such global warming theories began to emerge, the alarmists first changed the subject to climate change and then just carbon. But these theories too are subject to hypothesis testing. This Comment’s detailed science section shows the results of testing both sets of hypotheses.
The three EPA Lines of Evidence offered in their 2009 Endangerment Finding are each shown to be invalid. In fact, they are each shown to be invalid using two separate and mathematically distinct approaches that are spelled out in detail in two separate peer-reviewed Research Reports. The numerous and distinguished peer reviewers are identified and all statistical work may be readily replicated. The reports were both published on multiple websites frequented by, and free to, climate scientists.
This Comment’s science section also presents rebuttals of ten typical climate change alarmists’ claims. The authors of these rebuttals are all recognized experts in the relevant scientific fields. The rebuttals demonstrate the falsity of all ten of the claims merely by citing the most credible empirical data on the topic. The ten alarmist claims are as follows:
1. Heat Waves are increasing at an alarming rate and heat kills.
2. Global warming is causing more hurricanes and stronger hurricanes.
3. Global warming is causing more and stronger tornadoes.
4. Global warming is increasing the magnitude and frequency of droughts and floods.
5. Global Warming has increased U.S. Wildfires.
6. Global warming is causing snow to disappear.
7. Global warming is resulting in rising sea levels as seen in both tide gauge and satellite technology.
8. Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice loss is accelerating due to global warming.
9. Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification, which is catastrophically harming marine life.
10. Carbon pollution is a health hazard.
1.2 Details of the Science Arguments Summarized Above
New Research Findings Make it All but Certain that CO2 Is Not a Pollutant but Rather a Beneficial Gas that Should Not Be Regulated or Reduced
Among the new developments was an extensively peer reviewed April 2017 Research Report by Wallace, Christy and D’Aleo (Wallace 2017). Wallace 2017 can be found at: https://ift.tt/2oB9ym8. See also Dr. John Christy’s comments on the report in Appendix D. My comments can be found at https://ift.tt/2p7KFQb.
Wallace 2017 estimates the impacts of the key natural factors, including solar, volcanic and oceanic/ENSO activity, on tropical and global temperatures. It concludes that once these natural factor impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “natural factor adjusted” warming remaining to be attributed to rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
That is, these natural factor impacts fully explain the trends in all relevant temperature data sets over the last 50 or more years. This research found that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations did not have a statistically significant impact on any of the (14) temperature data sets that were analyzed. Wallace 2017 concludes that, “at this point, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations have caused what have been officially reported as rising, or even record setting, temperatures.” Id. at pp. 4, 71.
New Research Findings Demonstrate that Adjustments by Government Agencies to the Global Average Surface Temperature Record Render That Record Totally Inconsistent with Published Credible Temperature Data Sets and Useless for Any Policy Analysis Purpose
Wallace 2017B analyzed the Global Average Surface Temperature (“GAST”) data issued by U.S. agencies NASA and NOAA, as well as British group Hadley CRU. In this research report, past changes in the official previously reported historical data were quantified. It was found that each new version of official GAST historical data (e.g., 1880 to 2000) nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history. And, this result was nearly always accomplished by each entity systematically removing the previously existing cyclical temperature pattern over this time period. This was true for all three entities providing GAST data measurement, NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU. However, the magnitude of their historical official data adjustments, that removed the official data’s previous cyclical temperature patterns, are shown in Wallace 2017B to be totally inconsistent with published and highly credible U.S. and other temperature data.
The authors have observed:
- “Adjustments that impart an ever-steeper upward trend in the data by removing the natural cyclical temperature patterns present in the data deprive the GAST products from NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU of the credibility required for policymaking or climate modeling, particularly when they are relied on to drive trillions of dollars in expenditures.”
The invalidation of the adjusted GAST data knocks yet another essential pillar out from under the lines of evidence that are the claimed foundation of climate alarmism. As the authors have stated:
“It is therefore inescapable that if the official GAST data from NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU are invalid, then both the ‘basic physical understanding’ of climate and the climate models will also be invalid.”
The climate models used by the UN and depended on by the USEPA yield grossly excessive estimates when compared with actual satellite data, the most accurate date we have. Appendix D has a brief summary of this comparison by Dr. John Christy.
Ten Frequent Climate Alarmists’ Claims Have Each Been Rebutted by True Experts in Each Field by Simply Citing the Most Relevant and Credible Empirical Data
This Comment’s science section also presents rebuttals of ten typical climate alarmists’ claims. The authors of these rebuttals are all recognized experts in the relevant scientific fields. The rebuttals demonstrate the falsity of all ten of the listed alarmist claims by citing the most credible empirical data on the topic. For each alarmist claim, a link is shown to the full text of the rebuttal and a list of the credentials of the Rebuttal’s authors. The ten alarmist claims are as follows:
1. Claim: Heat Waves are increasing at an alarming rate and heat kills.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Heat Waves:
2. Claim: Global warming is causing more hurricanes and stronger hurricanes.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Hurricanes:
3. Claim: Global warming is causing more and stronger tornadoes.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_CA – Tornadoes
4. Claim: Global warming is increasing the magnitude and frequency of droughts and floods.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Droughts and Floods
5. Claim: Global Warming has increased U.S. Wildfires.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Wildfires
6. Claim: Global warming is causing snow to disappear.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_CA – Snow:
7. Claim: Global warming is resulting in rising sea levels as seen in both tide gauge and satellite technology.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_CA – Sea Level
8. Claim: Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice loss is accelerating due to global warming.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Arctic, Antarctic, Greenland 123117
9. Claim: Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification, which is catastrophically harming marine life.
Detailed Rebuttal and Author: EF_RRT_CA – Ocean pH
10. Claim: Carbon pollution is a health hazard.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: EF_RRT_AC – Health
While all these alarmist claims are rather easily falsified, these claims are constantly cited to whip up alarm and create demands for ever tighter regulation of GHG emissions. But there is no evidence to support such claims, and copious empirical evidence that refutes them. The government’s regulatory authority over GHG emissions cannot lawfully rest upon a collection of scary stories that are conclusively disproven by readily available empirical data.
The parade of alleged horrible calamities that climate alarmists claim to seek to prevent have been comprehensively and conclusively refuted by empirical data. Uneconomic and environmentally risky solar farms such as Pleinmont Solar has proposed should not be approved by the SCC since they primarily involve costs to ratepayers and have no significant benefits.
2.1 Summary of the Energy Economic Arguments for Not Approving the Pleinmont Solar Proposal
Increasing the Fraction of Electricity Generation from Intermittent Renewables Causes Enormous Consumer Electricity Price Increases and Serious Negative Macroeconomic Impacts.
Jurisdictions that have succeeded in getting generation from renewables up to as high as about 30% of total electricity supply have experienced about a tripling in the price of electricity to consumers. Getting beyond that 30% level will require prices to multiply by 5 or even 10. Reasons include:
• Need for multiple levels of excess capacity to account for times of low sun and wind.
• Fossil fuel plants must be kept on-line and used for “back-up.”
• To get to higher fractions of renewable generation, storage (e.g., reservoirs, or batteries) must be added at huge cost.
• There is need for additional transmission lines to bring power to places where wind is calm.
California in 2016 got 17.2% of its electricity from wind and solar (vs. 6.5% for U.S. as a whole) and its consumers paid about 50% more per kWh for electricity. As shown in the figure below, Germany, now getting more than 30% of its electricity from renewables, has consumer electricity prices per kWh about triple those in the U.S.
Among large jurisdictions, the one with the highest contribution to electricity generation from wind and solar is South Australia at about 50%. South Australia’s consumer electricity prices are the highest in the world and electric reliability one of the worst in the developed world. Jurisdictions that have succeeded in increasing the percent of electricity from renewables illustrate the proposition that the more renewables the higher the electricity price, with price increases accelerating as the percent of electricity from renewables gets higher.
A new study by IHS Markit, titled Ensuring Resilient and Efficient Electricity Generation: The Value of the Current Diverse U.S. Power Supply Portfolio analyzed the economic effects of state and federal energy policies that are driving electric utilities away from coal, nuclear and hydroelectric and towards renewables and natural gas. Such policies are forecast by IHS Markit to lead to a tripling of the current 7% reliance on wind, solar and other intermittent resources, with natural gas-fired resources supplying the majority of generation.
The Study’s Findings are that current policy driven market distortions will lead to: U.S. power grid becoming less cost-effective, less reliable and less resilient due to lack of harmonization between federal and state policies and wholesale electricity market operations. Id. at p. 4 (Emphasis added).
The study forecast that these policies will cause significant increases in the retail price of electricity. The following economic impacts of these price increases were forecast:
The 27% retail power price increase associated with the less efficient diversity case causes a decline of real US GDP of 0.8%, equal to $158 billion (2016 chain-weighted dollars).
Labor market impacts of the less efficient diversity case involve a reduction of 1 million jobs.
A less efficient diversity case reduces real disposable income per household by about $845 (2016 dollars) annually, equal to 0.76% of the 2016 average household disposable income.” Id. at p. 5. (Emphasis added).
It should be noted that the Study’s projected 27% increase in average retail power prices is predicated on the wind and solar renewables share rising by three-fold from 7% to “only” about 21%. The case studies discussed in the Comment make very clear the enormous increases in power prices that would result as policy makers attempt to move the renewables share higher than that. Moreover, the study found that policies that promote increased use of wind and solar would likely result in little to no reduction in the level of electric sector CO2 emissions.
Based on this comment’s science arguments above, the SCC should deny approval of CPCNs that increase electricity costs and reduce reliability. Dispatchable fossil fuel, nuclear, and hydro power should not be replaced with intermittent power because increasing the fraction of electricity generation from intermittent renewables will cause (1) enormous consumer electricity price increases, (2) the Grid to become even less reliable and less resilient, and (3) even more serious negative macroeconomic impacts but would have no impact on the climate as outlined above.
Based on the Energy Economic Analysis in Appendix C: The current Federal, State and private sector policies that are now increasing the fraction of electricity generation from intermittent renewables must be stopped/reversed in order to avoid/mitigate very severe micro and macroeconomic impacts.
Other Ramifications of the Energy Economics Findings
Since there are no real temperature reductions from reducing CO2 levels, no consumer electricity price increases should be permitted by the SCC that results from increased renewables/energy storage grid penetration. Any other approach will result in adverse economic effects on Virginians with no significant economic benefits for them.
DETAILED EXPLANATIONS OF ENERGY ECONOMIC ANALYSIS RECOMMENDATIONS CAN BE FOUND IN APPENDIX C; EXISTENSIVE ADDITIONAL RELATED INFORMATION ON BOTH SCIENCE AND ENERGY ECONOMIC ANALYSES CAN BE FOUND IN MY CLIMATE BOOK (#1 IN APPENDIX B) AND ON MY WEBSITE (CARLINECONOMICS.COM)….
Appendix C: Detailed Discussion of How Increasing the Fraction of Electricity Generation form Intermittent Renewables Causes Enormous Consumer Electricity Price Increases and Serious Negative Macroeconomic Impacts
The effort to increase the percentage of electricity generated by intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar, such as the proposed solar farm proposed by Pleinmont Solar, inevitably brings about large increases in the actual price of electricity paid by consumers. This proposition may seem counterintuitive, since the cost of fuel for wind and solar generation is zero. However, the experience in jurisdictions that have attempted to generate more and more of their electricity from these renewables proves the truth of this rising consumer price proposition.
In those jurisdictions that have succeeded in getting generation from renewables up to as high as about 30% of their total electricity supply, the result has been an approximate tripling in the price of electricity for their consumers. The few (basically experimental) jurisdictions that have gotten generation from renewables even higher than that have had even greater price increases, for relatively minor increases in generation from renewables. As the percentage of electricity coming from renewables increases, the consumer price increases accelerate. The burden of these increasing prices for electricity falls most heavily on poor and low-income people.
The reason that increasing renewable generation leads to accelerating consumer prices is that an electrical grid must operate with one hundred percent reliability on a 24/7 basis. A reliable grid requires a very close match between power supplied and power demanded on a minute-by-minute, and even a fraction of second basis. But wind and solar sources experience large and often sudden swings in the power that they supply. Therefore, in a grid using large amounts of power from wind and solar sources, additional costly elements must be added to the system to even out the supply and always match it to the demand. These additional elements are what bring about the increased costs and thus consumer prices. Such elements can include:
• Additional renewable sources (wind turbines or solar panels), such that the renewable capacity becomes a multiple of peak usage, enabling the system to work at times of relatively low wind or thick clouds; however, no amount of excess capacity can make a wind/solar system generate any electricity on a completely calm night.
• “Back-up” capacity from fossil fuel generating units; however, if such back-up capacity is the only additional element added, repeated calms and nights will mean that the “back-up” will often end up supplying well more than half of the electricity, even if there is substantial excess capacity of the renewable sources.
• Storage, such as batteries; however, due to the frequency of calms and nights, multiple days’ worth of storage capacity, at huge cost, are needed to have any hope of getting the percent of electricity from renewables up to 50% or above; and
• Additional transmission lines; however, there has been no demonstration of how much additional transmission capacity, and in what locations, and at what cost, might be able to get generation from renewables up to any substantially higher level.
Each of these additional elements is costly, and more and more of them are necessary as the desired percentage of electricity from the renewables increases.
The following chart, initially prepared by Willis Eschenbach of the website WattsUpWithThat, shows the near linear relationship between installed renewables capacity per capita (in watts/capita) on the x-axis and cost of electricity to the consumer (in cents per kilowatt hour) on the y-axis, where each point is a country. The chart is available at the following link: https://ift.tt/2xjVRB8. Contrast the current situation in Germany with that of the U.S.
Germany is the leader in Europe in its power generation per capita from renewables, through its so-called Energiewende, having gotten the percentage of its electricity from wind and solar all the way up to about 30%. However, the consequence of that effort has been an approximate tripling of the cost of electricity to consumers, to about 30 cents per kWh. Analyses of the soaring price of electricity in Germany place the blame squarely on excess costs that have been necessarily incurred to try to get to a stable, functioning, 24/7 system with so much input from intermittent renewables.
First, massive “excess” wind and solar capacity has been installed to try to deal with days of light wind and heavy clouds. And for the completely calm nights and overcast winter days when the wind and solar sources produce nothing or next-to-nothing, nearly the entire fleet of fossil fuel plants has been maintained and ready to go, even though those sources end up being idle much of the time. (Actually, since Germany during this time was shutting down all of its Nuclear power plants, it has been building coal plants to back up its renewables.13) And then, some means have had to be found to deal with the surges of available electricity when the wind and sun suddenly blow and shine together at full strength at the same time.
As noted by Benny Peiser at the Global Warming Policy Foundation on April 4, 2015 (https://ift.tt/2IPzJny
- Every 10 new units worth of wind power installation has to be backed up with some eight units worth of fossil fuel generation. This is because fossil fuel plants have to power up suddenly to meet the deficiencies of intermittent renewables. In short, renewables do not provide an escape route from fossil fuel use without which they are unsustainable. . . . To avoid blackouts, the government has to subsidize uneconomic gas and coal power plants. . . . Germany’s renewable energy levy, which subsidizes green energy production, rose from 14 billion euros to 20 billion euros in just one year as a result of the fierce expansion of wind and solar power projects. Since the introduction of the levy in 2000, the electricity bill of the typical German consumer has doubled.
To further illustrate the relationship between the percentage of electricity from renewables and cost of electricity to the consumer, consider two jurisdictions. California is a “leader” in the United States in generating power from wind and solar sources. According to the California Energy Commission, in 2016 California got 8.11% of its electricity supply from solar and 9.06% from wind, for a total of 17.17% from those two intermittent sources. See https://ift.tt/2mCy8Fu For the U.S. as a whole for wind and solar was 6.5%. See https://ift.tt/2mDFipT.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, California’s average electricity price that year was 14.91 cents per kWh, versus a U.S. average of 10.10 cents per kWh; that is, almost 50% higher. See https://ift.tt/1UsXXPX.
There are only a handful of small jurisdictions that have tried to get the percentage of their electricity generation from renewables up much beyond the 30% achieved by Germany. But those jurisdictions have not achieved levels much beyond that of Germany, and even those levels have been achieved only at high and accelerating costs. One such jurisdiction is Gapa Island, a small island of only 178 people (97 households) in South Korea. A report on the Gapa Island Project appeared on the Hankyoreh news site in July 2016.
With average electricity usage of 142 kW, and maximum usage of 230 kW, the islanders installed wind and solar capacity of 674 kW – about three times maximum usage, to deal with light wind and low sun. They also bought battery capacity for about eight hours of average usage. The cost of the wind and solar capacity plus batteries was approximately $12.5 million, or about $125,000 per household. And with all that investment the islanders were still only able to get about 42% of their electricity from the sun and wind when averaged over a full month. Even with the storage, they still needed the full fossil fuel backup capacity.
Even much lower solar and wind penetration levels impact electric reliability because they essentially use system reserves as their backup. Unless these reserves are increased, which is expensive, the resulting reduction in effective system reserves reduces system reliability. The choice is either paying for increased system reserves, which are likely to be paid for by general ratepayers rather than only users of “green energy,” or decreasing system reliability. Climate alarmists frequently overlook or even contradict this, but there is no free lunch.
Applying a reasonable cost of capital to a system like that of Gapa Island, and considering additional elements of a system, like additional storage, that would be necessary to push the percent of total generation from renewables to higher levels, one can calculate that a system like the Gapa demonstration project for the full United states would lead to electricity prices of at least five times their current level, and more likely, far higher. And even then, the U.S. would be hard-pressed to achieve 50% of electricity from the intermittent renewables.
A somewhat larger demonstration project on the Spanish island of El Hierro (population about 10,000) has had similar results. The idea on El Hierro was to combine a massive wind farm with a large elevated reservoir to store water, which would then be released at times of low wind to balance the grid. El Hierro has the good fortune of a mountainous geography, so that a large reservoir could be placed at a relatively high elevation, in close proximity to the consumers of the electricity. The investment in the wind/water system was approximately 64.7 million euros, or about $80 million – which was on top of what was already a fully-functioning fossil fuel-based system, all of which still needed to be kept. Operations of the El Hierro project began in 2015 with high expectations for 100% renewable generation, but it has not come close.
An operations review of the El Hierro system from inception to date by engineer Robert Andrews can be found at https://ift.tt/2CSuH6M. During 2017 the percent of generated electricity that came from renewables ranged from 62.4% in September down to only 24.7% in November, with the overall average for the year at about 40%. Based on the data from actual operations, Mr. Andrews calculates that, to achieve the goal of 100% generation from the wind/water project, El Hierro would need to increase its wind turbine capacity by some 50%, and the capacity of its reservoir by a factor of 40. Clearly, there is no place on the island to put such a massive reservoir; and if there were, the cost would be not in the millions, but in the billions. And that would be for a mere 10,000 people.
The geography of the United States does not permit a water storage system like that of El Hierro for most parts of the country. The alternative of storage by large batteries, such as the type used for Tesla automobiles, carries truly astounding potential costs. Current prices for lithium ion batteries are about $200,000 per MWh. At that price, to provide sufficient capacity to cover New York City for three consecutive days of no-to-low wind and sun would cost in the range of $50 billion. And the experience of places like Germany indicates that there could well be five or even seven consecutive dark and calm days in winter in much of the country. Attempting to create an electricity system consisting entirely of renewables backed up by batteries could easily lead to consumer electricity prices at ten times current levels.
Such an economic jolt would hit every Virginian hard, with the possible exception of some of the very wealthiest people. Even middle and upper middle-income people would be forced to make major reductions in their energy consumption. But poor and low-income people would be hit by far the hardest. If electricity prices went to five to ten times current levels, most low-income people would be almost completely priced out of things they now take for granted, like light, refrigeration and computers. They would be forced into energy poverty. This is the route down which the Clean Power Plan, but for the Supreme Court’s stay, would surely have taken us – on the now thoroughly discredited assumption that CO2 is a pollutant.
A new study by IHS Markit, titled Ensuring Resilient and Efficient Electricity Generation: The Value of the Current Diverse U.S. Power Supply Portfolio considered the economic effects of state and federal energy policies that are driving electric utilities away from coal, nuclear and hydroelectric and towards renewables and natural gas. Such policies are forecast by IHS Markit to lead to a tripling of the current 7% reliance on wind, solar and other intermittent resources, with natural gas-fired resources supplying the majority of generation.
The Study’s Findings are that current policy driven market distortions will lead to:
- U.S. power grid becoming less cost-effective, less reliable and less resilient due to lack of harmonization between federal and state policies and wholesale electricity market operations, Id. at p. 4 (Emphasis added).
The study found that these policies will cause significant increases in the retail price of electricity. The following economic impacts of these price increases were forecast:
- The 27% retail power price increase associated with the less efficient diversity case causes a decline of real US GDP of 0.8%, equal to $158 billion (2016 chain-weighted dollars).
Labor market impacts of the less efficient diversity case involve a reduction of 1 million jobs.
A less efficient diversity case reduces real disposable income per household by about $845 (2016 dollars) annually, equal to 0.76% of the 2016 average household disposable income.” Id. at p. 5. (Emphasis added).
It should be noted that the projected 27% increase in average retail power prices is predicated on the wind and solar renewables share rising by three-fold from 7% to “only” about 21%. The case studies discussed above make very clear the enormous increases in power prices that would result as policy makers attempt to move the renewables share higher than that.
Moreover, the study found that current state and federal policy-driven market distortion will imply: Increased variability of monthly consumer electricity bills by around 22 percent; and an additional $75 billion per hour cost associated with more frequent power supply outages. Id. (Emphasis added).
The study’s lead author commented that “[d]iversity of supply is an essential bedrock for security and reliability for an electric power system that is as big and diverse—and as crucially important—as that of the United States.” See https://ift.tt/2xcGlqp
Moreover, policies that promote increased use of wind and solar would likely result in little to no reduction in the level of electric sector CO2 emissions:
Ironically, addressing climate change concerns with federal and state policies to subsidize and mandate wind and solar electric generation produced the unintended consequence of distorting wholesale electricity market clearing prices and driving the uneconomic closure of nuclear power plants—a zero-emitting source. The result has been some power system CO2 emissions remaining constant or increasing. Id.
Appendix D: Comment on and Excerpts from Dr. John Christy’s Congressional Testimony in March, 2017
Dr. John Christy’s Congressional testimony in March, 2017 showed that the temperature trend, projected by climate models on which EPA relies, differs from the actual trend of observations in the tropical troposphere at the 99% confidence level. Id., at pp. 9-10. Thus, the models used by EPA to conclude that greenhouse gases pose a “danger” to human health and welfare have failed a simple “scientific method” test. They have been invalidated.
The testimony was delivered to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology on 29 Mar 2017 by Dr. John R. Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama State Climatologist, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“Science” is not a set of facts but a process or method that sets out a way for us to discover information and which attempts to determine the level of confidence we might have in that information. In the method, a “claim” or “hypothesis” is stated such that rigorous tests might be employed to test the claim to determine its credibility. If the claim fails a test, the claim is rejected or modified then tested again. When the “scientific method” is applied to the output from climate models of the IPCC AR5, specifically the bulk atmospheric temperature trends since 1979 (a key variable with a strong and obvious theoretical response to increasing GHGs in this period), I demonstrate that the consensus of the models fails the test to match the real-world observations by a significant margin.
As such, the average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or for related policy decisions.
The IPCC inadvertently provided information that supports this conclusion by (a) showing that the tropical trends of climate models with extra greenhouse gases failed to match actual trends and (b) showing that climate models without extra greenhouse gases agreed with actual trends. A report of which I was a co-author demonstrates that a statistical model that uses only natural influences on the climate also explains the variations and trends since 1979 without the need of extra greenhouse gases. While such a model (or any climate model) cannot “prove” the causes of variations, the fact that its result is not rejected by the scientific method indicates it should be considered when trying to understand why the climate does what it does. Deliberate consideration of the major influences by natural variability on the climate has been conspicuously absent in the current explanations of climate change by the well-funded climate science industry….
(5) A simple statistical model that passed the same “scientific-method” test
The IPCC climate models performed best versus observations when they did not include extra GHGs and this result can be demonstrated with a statistical model as well. I was coauthor of a report which produced such an analysis (Wallace, J., J. Christy, and J. D’Aleo, “On the existence of a ‘Tropical Hot Spot’ & the validity of the EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding – Abridged Research Report”, August, 2016 (Available here: https://ift.tt/2m7oBWV).
In this report we examine annual estimates from many sources of global and tropical deep layer temperatures since 1959 and since 1979 utilizing explanatory variables that did not include rising CO2 concentrations. We applied the model to estimates of global and tropical temperature from the satellite and balloon sources, individually, shown in Fig. 2 above. The explanatory variables are those that have been known for decades such as indices of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), volcanic activity, and a solar activity (e.g. see Christy and McNider, 1994, “Satellite greenhouse signal”, Nature, 367, 27Jan). [One of the ENSO explanatory variables was the accumulated MEI (Multivariate ENSO Index, see https://ift.tt/2k0cMgq) in which the index was summed through time to provide an indication of its accumulated impact. This “accumulated-MEI”
was shown to be a potential factor in global temperatures by Spencer and Braswell, 2014 (“The role of ENSO in global ocean temperature changes during 1955-2011 simulated with a 1D climate model”, APJ.Atmos.Sci. 50(2), 229-237, DOI:10.1007/s13143-014-001-z.) Interestingly, later work has shown that this “accumulated-MEI” has virtually the same impact as the accumulated solar index, both of which generally paralleled the rise in temperatures through the 1980s and 1990s and the slowdown in the 21st century. Thus our report would have the same conclusion with or without the “accumulated-MEI.”]
The basic result of this report is that the temperature trend of several datasets since 1979 can be explained by variations in the components that naturally affect the climate, just as the IPCC inadvertently indicated in Fig. 5 above [not reproduced here but available in the original testimony]. The advantage of the simple statistical treatment is that the complicated processes such as clouds, ocean-atmosphere interaction, aerosols, etc., are implicitly incorporated by the statistical relationships discovered from the actual data. Climate models attempt to calculate these highly non-linear processes from imperfect parameterizations (estimates) whereas the statistical model directly accounts for them since the bulk atmospheric temperature is the response-variable these processes impact. It is true that the statistical model does not know what each sub-process is or how each might interact with other processes. But it also must be made clear: it is an understatement to say that no IPCC climate model accurately incorporates all of the non-linear processes that affect the system. I simply point out that because the model is constrained by the ultimate response variable (bulk temperature), these highly complex processes are included.
The fact that this statistical model explains 75-90 percent of the real annual temperature variability, depending on dataset, using these influences (ENSO, volcanoes, solar) is an indication the statistical model is useful. In addition, the trends produced from this statistical model are not statistically different from the actual data (i.e. passing the “scientific-method” trend test which assumes the natural factors are not influenced by increasing GHGs). This result promotes the conclusion that this approach achieves greater scientific (and policy) utility than results from elaborate climate models which on average fail to reproduce the real world’s global average bulk temperature trend since 1979.
The over-warming of the atmosphere by the IPCC models relates to a problem the IPCC AR5 encountered elsewhere. In trying to determine the climate sensitivity, which is how sensitive the global temperature is relative to increases in GHGs, the IPCC authors chose not to give a best estimate. [A high climate sensitivity is a foundational component of the last Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon.] The reason? … climate models were showing about twice the sensitivity to GHGs than calculations based on real, empirical data. I would encourage this committee, and our government in general, to consider empirical data, not climate model output, when dealing with environmental regulations.
Testimony of William Stewart
PLEINMONT SOLAR, LLC et al. CASE NO. PUR-2017-00162
For certificates of public convenience and necessity for a 500 MW solar generating facility in Spotsylvania County pursuant to §§ 56-46.1 and 56-580 D of the Code of Virginia
William D. Stewart
108 Windsor Cir.
Falmouth, VA 22405
Credentials: ScB and AB degrees in Electrical Engineering from Brown University, Providence, RI, U.S.Navy commissioned officer with service in weapons and engineering, at sea and ashore. Thermal power plant design engineer at Chas. T. Main, Engineers, Boston, Massachusetts.
20VAC5-302-20. General Information, Electric Generating Facility Information and Documents to Be Included in Applications for (I) Electric Generating Facilities Greater Than 50 Mw and (II) Renewable Electric Generating Facilities with Rated Capacities Greater Than 100 Mw.
14. A discussion of whether the proposed facility is not contrary to the public interest. The discussion shall include, but is not limited to, an analysis of any reasonably known impacts the proposed facility may have upon reliability of service to, and rates paid by, customers of any regulated public utility for service in the Commonwealth, including water service, gas distribution service, electric distribution service, and electric transmission service.
Commenter believes that the Applicant has made vague and unresponsive comments, utterly lacking in any numerical values, either dollars and cents, megawatts or megawatt hours, and lack any arguments in science and electrical engineering, in response to the requirements of item 14. Their several statements are therefore largely meaningless and require detailed quantification instead. The numbers will reveal that, in fact, the proposed facility is completely contrary to the public interest, and is of no benefit whatsoever to anyone except those making money off it. It is noted that in the absence of numbers from Applicant, commenter’s numbers are necessarily estimates.
On page 2 of its submission, Applicant states:
“According to the Application, each of the SPEs is or will be a Delaware limited liability company and a direct wholly owned subsidiary of sPower Development Company, LLC, which is a wholly owned direct subsidiary of FTP Power, LLC (“FTP Power”). The Joint Applicants
assert that they, along with FTP Power, bring significant resources and expertise to support the successful development of the proposed Project. The Joint Applicants represent that none of the SPEs would be regulated utilities. Therefore, the business risk associated with the proposed
Project would be borne solely by the Joint Applicants, with no direct impact on rates paid by ratepayers in Virginia.”
Comment: according to representations elsewhere, the facility will cost approximately $2200 per kW, or $2200/kW x 75MW = $165,000,000 for phase I. Commenter requests financial statements of the all the entities involved, particularly the SPE, which is a Delaware LLC of no known financial standing, whose members are anonymous, of no known experience in the generation of electricity, and apparently only financial wheeler-dealers. It appears that this venture is, in fact, on very shaky financial ground, perhaps the main reason for the bizarre (to this commenter) financial organization: seven SPEs, all but one not yet named, and apparently not organized or financed. And the financial statements of parent AES filed with the SEC show a company not all that strong, having lost money in the last two years. Therefore this commenter asks how there is no business (or financial) risk to the citizens and electricity rate payers of the County and Commonwealth? And it appears to the commenter that chopping the project into smaller entities is also a subterfuge to avoid the regulation that would occur if this were a mega utility project undertaken by Dominion Energy, into whose transmission lines the power will be fed onward to PJM (if it gets built).
Petitioner correctly describes the capacity of the facility as “nominal 500 MW” and “label plate 500 MW”, but that is a phony number, as the output will be at that level for only a small percentage of time, something estimated to be in the area of 15-20%, given the poor geographic location to site a solar farm: latitude and climate (to say nothing of the issues of locating it in a residential area). What counts is not power, measured in megawatts (volts times amps), but work done, measured in megawatt-hours (volts times amps times time), the actual delivered usable energy. And is the 500 MW the DC megawatts from the panels, or is it the AC megawatts after the DC has been inverted to AC, with substantial losses involved? The SCC needs to evaluate the equipment and its characteristics, and this information doesn’t seem to have been given.
Now, as we know, it is usually natural gas generation that makes up the other 85% of the time when solar simply doesn’t work, as either the sun isn’t shining at all (it is night), or it is too low on the horizon (dawn and dusk), it is cloudy or raining, or some other event such as snow or dirt on the panels. According to the website of the U.S. Energy Information Agency, eia.gov, the capital cost for natural gas generation is about $1100 per kW, or almost exactly half that of this solar installation. Now, electrical energy flows from a solar facility when the sun is shining, and not necessarily when the dispatcher wants it, and, conversely, energy flows from a natural gas-powered facility when the dispatcher wants it, a commonly cited number is 60% availability for gas, or four times that of the solar facility. So this means that the capital costs of this facility per delivered MWh are in fact eight times that of a natural gas facility.
In addition, PJM, the system operator, has additional costs involved with being forced to buy solar electricity when it really isn’t needed, and for supplying “non-solar” energy when the sun isn’t shining but there is demand to be filled. Commenter therefore requests petitioner’s energy generation costs, the price the PJM is paying, and any and all funds being received from third parties for the “green attributes” described below, whether tax subsidies, abatements and the like from the taxpayers, as well as from private sources such as Microsoft. And since subsidies for “renewable” energy are declining and will continue to do so, commenter believes that this project cannot make any financial sense at all, and will be headed to bankruptcy court sooner rather than later. Commenter suspects that ratepayers (like himself) will, in fact, have to pay substantially higher electricity prices to subsidize this folly.
On page 3 Applicant states:
“The electricity generated by the proposed Project would be sold into the PJM wholesale market. Each SPE that would own a phase of the proposed Project would enter into one or more agreements with third parties for the conveyance of green attributes associated with the
energy sold into the PJM wholesale market”.
“Green attributes” has a lengthy definition, but briefly Green Attributes means “any and all credits, benefits, emissions reductions, offsets, and allowances, howsoever entitled, attributable to the generation from the Facility, and its displacement of conventional energy generation.” Bottom line this means tax subsidies as well as payments from companies like Microsoft and Amazon.com whose owners want to signal their virtue by appearing “green”. Microsoft touts the “fact” that it uses 100% renewable energy, which is nothing but a Big Lie, and totally absurd, as their data centers operate 24/7, varying only seasonally (HVAC compressors are shut off during the winter, when cold ambient air suffices to cool the servers and drives). To be honest, what they are doing is paying hush money to the likes of Plienmont to pretend that they are using “renewable” and “sustainable” energy full time. The irony is that all this “renewable” talk is all about eliminating CO2, but since solar is so intermittent and unreliable that the natural gas “backup” turbogenerators provide 85% of the power, and have to “spin” 100% of the time, 24/7, and the savings of CO2 are minimal or non-existent. They have to spin all the time, even when the sun is shining brightly at midday, idling at full speed, turning the AC generators at 3600 rpm or 60 Hertz or cycles per second. The problem is that when clouds go by, the output drops quickly, and the gas turbines have to get throttled up instantly to make the backup energy.
“Sustainability” is another Big Lie, as in a market economy such as ours, every commodity that has a market price (and electricity is definitely one) is automatically sustainable by working of the market. When an item starts to become scarce, the price starts to go up. That starts a chain of events: people conserve or replace it with other similar commodities, entrepreneurs build production facilities to make more of it, researchers find new methods of production, and new technology comes along. That is what has happened recently to oil and natural gas which we were supposedly going to run out of. When we started running low, prices went up, and the new technology of hydraulic fracturing, fracking, materialized. Surprise: lots of new supply and lower prices.
The bottom line is that this and like facilities have strongly negative economic value. They destroy capital that could be spent on other things: private profit making ventures, housing or public infrastructure investment, such as schools, roads and the like. The experience from Europe is that, because the electricity is so expensive, only by massive state subsidies can these facilities function. Solar energy almost wrecked the Spanish economy; the Germans seem to have wised up, dropping their solar energy investment from 7500 MW in 2012 to 600 MW in 2017.
Why on earth we are building solar when we know it doesn’t work is beyond the comprehension of this commenter. It sounds nice, “free energy from the sun”, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t work.
In a nutshell, this project is basically a 500 MW gas plant, that instead of costing $550 million is costing instead $1.1 billion + $550 million or $1.65 billion, or three times what it should cost. Someone is going to pay for this, and it will be a combination of the Dominion ratepayers and taxpayers. It is nothing but a scam designed to make the billionaire tech oligarch Bill Gates feel good about himself at the expense of everyday working and retired people.
Basically the “skyrocketing” electricity prices kill more jobs than are created by installing solar energy, and they kill people: older people, people with compromised immune systems, and poor people who can’t afford to pay for electricity to heat and cool their homes.
On page 4 Applicant states:
“The Joint Applicants assert that the proposed Project would promote the public interest by providing economic benefits to Spotsylvania County and the surrounding area. The Joint Applicants assert that the proposed Project would have no material adverse effect on the reliability of electric service provided by any regulated public utility.”
Commenter requests the Applicants quantify the economic benefits to Spotsylvania County and the surrounding area. He requests as well how this intermittent and unreliable electrical power will not have a material adverse effect on reliability of electric service when it is an established fact that it does, so this statement is completely false on its face. In fact the very cold days at the beginning of this past January when power demand set records, it was reported that PJM came very close to a catastrophic crash, and unreliable renewables were part of the cause.
Commenter requests that the SCC deny Applicant’s request for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCNs”) for the construction and operation of this solar generating facility, as it is neither a public convenience, much less a necessity: it produces only unreliable and very expensive electricity that ratepayers, taxpayers and public shareholders will have to pay for. It is basically a gas fired generator at three times the cost of a natural gas facility without a solar farm attached, is not viable economically, saves little, if any, CO2, squanders 3600 acres of timber land, does untold damage to the aquifer, and has a non-zero probability of someday turning into a 3600 acre Superfund site, whose remediation costs could far exceed the statutory bonded $10,000.00 per acre. Its only advantages are that it makes solar advocates feel good about themselves, and appeases the radical environmental left, which wants to get rid of people as they think there are too many of us, and which wants to de-industrialize, which is what you get when you have an unreliable electrical generation system that produces expensive electricity.
For all of the above reasons, from now on, the SCC should deny any and all requests for CPCNs for solar farms in Virginia.
via Carlin Economics and Science
May 25, 2018 at 03:17PM