Go Figure: No Accounting For True & Staggering Cost of Intermittent Wind & Solar

Renewable energy rent seekers and their political enablers keep telling us that wind and solar are free and getting cheaper all the time, but notionally wind-powered Germans, Danes, Californians and South Australians might beg to differ; they already suffer the world’s highest retail power prices, with worse to come.

Nowhere in the world is there a single case where reliance on wind and solar increased and retail power prices fell.

The reality on the ground, suggests that the figures thrown up by the wind and sun cult about the cost of wind and solar power delivered to consumers tend to overlook more than just a few of the more significant items that ought to feature in any fulsome accounting.

William H. Smith, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St Louis (with a PhD from Princeton) is a joint author of a paper ‘Full cost of electricity ‘FCOE’ and energy returns ‘eROI’’ which aims to fill in the blanks.

Full Cost of Electricity ‘FCOE’ and Energy Returns ‘eROI’ 
Journal of Management and Sustainability; Vol. 12, No. 1; 2022
Dr. Lars Schernikau, William Smith and Rosemary Prof. Falcon
28 August 2022

Understanding electricity generation’s true cost is paramount to choosing and prioritizing our future energy systems. This paper introduces the full cost of electricity (FCOE) and discusses energy returns (eROI). The authors conclude with suggestions for energy policy considering the new challenges that come with global efforts to “decarbonize”.

In 2021, debate started to occur regarding energy security (or rather electricity security) which was driven by an increase in electricity demand, shortage of energy raw material supply, insufficient electricity generation from wind and solar, and geopolitical changes, which in turn resulted in high prices and volatility in major economies. This was witnessed around the world, for instance in China, India, the US, and of course Europe. Reliable electricity supply is crucial for social and economic stability and growth which in turn leads to eradication of poverty.

We explain and quantify the gap between installed energy capacity and actual electricity generation when it comes to variable renewable energy. The main challenge for wind and solar are its intermittency and low energy density, as a result practically every wind mill or solar panel requires either a backup or storage.

LCOE is inadequate to compare intermittent forms of energy generation with dispatchable ones and when making decisions at a country or society level. We introduce and describe the methodology for determining the full cost of electricity (FCOE) or the full cost to society. FCOE explains why wind and solar are not cheaper than conventional fuels and in fact become more expensive the higher their penetration in the energy system. The IEA confirms “…the system value of variable renewables such as wind and solar decreases as their share in the power supply increases”. This is illustrated by the high cost of the “green” energy transition.

We conclude with suggestions for a revised energy policy. Energy policy and investors should not favor wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, gas, or coal but should support all energy systems in a manner which avoids energy shortage and energy poverty. All energy always requires taking resources from our planet and processing them, thus negatively impacting the environment. It must be humanity’s goal to minimize these negative impacts in a meaningful way through investments – not divestments – by increasing, not decreasing, energy and material efficiencies.

Therefore, the authors suggest energy policy makers to refocus on the three objectives, energy security, energy affordability, and environmental protection. This translates into two paths for the future of energy,
(1) invest in education and base research to pave the path towards a New Energy Revolution where energy systems can sustainably wean off fossil fuels.
(2) In parallel, energy policy must support investment in conventional energy systems to improve their efficiencies and reduce the environmental burden of generating the energy required for our lives.

Additional research is required to better understand eROI, true cost of energy, material input, and effects of current energy transition pathways on global energy security.
Journal of Management and Sustainability

Professor Smith also had the chance to address Utah’s legislative committee on the subject, as Trent Nelson explains below.

Renewable energy is a failed path, scientist tells Utah legislators
The Salt Lake Tribune
Trent Nelson
21 October 2022

Professor says true costs of wind and solar rule those alternatives out.

A Utah legislative committee this week gave 45 minutes to a scientist who argued that policy makers across the globe are committing a grave mistake by turning to renewable energy.

William Hayden Smith, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote a research paper with colleagues in Switzerland and South Africa that calculates a full cost of producing electricity from various sources. The paper was published this year in the Journal of Sustainable Development, a Canadian scientific journal.

“Now everyone will say that wind turbines and photovoltaics are cheaper than fossil fuels,” he told legislators. “That’s a stretch.”

He said the standard for comparing costs of electricity sources is called “Levelized Cost of Electricity,” which is calculated by adding up the total costs of a source over its lifetime and dividing it by the total energy expected from that source over the lifetime.

But Smith and his co-authors created an alternative metric they are calling the “full cost of electricity,” which he says factors in renewable energy costs not considered in LCOE, including the cost of storing power when renewables are not producing and the cost of replacing solar panels and windmills when they wear out.

He pointed to recent problems in Germany, where energy prices have shot up. He said Germany’s rush to renewables and decision to shut down nuclear plants is costing them now.

Beyond cost, wind and solar simply can’t meet the capacity, he said. “Every day the grid will collapse because you can’t meet the peak power.”

He also dismissed the idea that there is enough land available for the wind and solar farms to produce what fossil fuels do now. Thousands of square miles of wind and solar farms would be required. He added that windmills strike millions of insects, and no one is considering the biological effects.

Smith is a scientific and technical adviser to the CO2 Coalition, a nonprofit organization established “for the purpose of educating thought leaders, policy makers and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.” He is not compensated for his work, according to the coalition’s website.

Smith presented to the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Interim Committee at the invitation of Rep. Ken Ivory, but Ivory had a conflict and could not attend.
The Salt Lake Tribune

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November 19, 2022 at 12:33AM

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