The true cost of solar

 In this issue:

  • The true cost of solar
  • Power Hour: The true cost of solar, Keystone XL, Arctic drilling in jeopardy, and more
  • The Human Flourishing Project: Cultivating appreciation

The true cost of solar

You’ll often hear claims that wind and solar are super-affordable. For example, I recently read a report from Axios claiming solar and wind are now three times cheaper than nuclear.

They reach this conclusion by looking at energy costs per unit of energy used–and supposedly this reflects the “all-in” lifetime costs of each energy source.

What the Axios article never mentions is that solar and wind are not reliable.

But what we need in the world is abundant, reliable energy. If you can’t produce energy reliably you’re not playing the same game. You’re mostly serving as a parasite on reliable energy.

How do we quickly convey that the alleged price of unreliable energy has nothing to do with the price of reliable energy?

One question I find helpful to cut through the noise is: “What is the cost of self-sufficientsolar?”

Just like a nuclear plant or a coal plant can produce reliable power, and we can assess that cost, I want to know the cost per unit of energy of producing abundant, reliable power just using solar and storage.

The answer, actually, is that we don’t know since no industrial location uses self-sufficient solar–which is not a good sign in terms of the affordability of solar.

But we should have an estimate. For example, to have 100 MW of self-sufficient solar capacity you might need 400 MW of solar capacity plus a huge amount of battery reserve for reliability.

Another cost that would be good to know is: What is the cost of fossil-free self-sufficient solar–that is, what if you couldn’t use fossil fuels to produce solar energy?

When someone brings up “the cost of solar,” these are the costs we should be asking about. These are the real costs of solar–the costs no one is willing or able to pay.

Power Hour: The true cost of solar, Keystone XL, Arctic drilling in jeopardy, and more

On this week’s episode of Power Hour, Don, Steffen, and I cover seven topics:

Listen to the episode:

The Human Flourishing Project: Cultivating appreciation

On the latest episode of The Human Flourishing Project I discuss three recent experiences that have motivated me to cultivate the habit of appreciation.