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Study: Solar And Wind Generation Makes Electricity More Expensive

July 11, 2019

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dennis Ambler


Well we knew it all the time, but now it has been confirmed by a team of economists from the University of Chicago:



Solar panels and wind turbines are making electricity significantly more expensive, a major new study by a team of economists from the University of Chicago finds.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) “significantly increase average retail electricity prices, with prices increasing by 11% (1.3 cents per kWh) seven years after the policy’s passage into law and 17% (2 cents per kWh) twelve years afterward,” the economists write.

The study, which has yet to go through peer-review, was done by Michael Greenstone, Richard McDowell, and Ishan Nath. It compared states with and without an RPS. It did so using what the economists say is “the most comprehensive state-level dataset ever compiled” which covered 1990 to 2015.

The cost to consumers has been staggeringly high: “All in all, seven years after passage, consumers in the 29 states had paid $125.2 billion more for electricity than they would have in the absence of the policy,” they write.

Last year, I was the first journalist to report that solar and wind are making electricity more expensive in the United States — and for inherently physical reasons.

Solar and wind require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, I noted.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California, and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

My reporting was criticized — sort of — by those who claimed I hadn’t separated correlation from causation, but the new study by a top-notch team of economists, including an advisor to Barack Obama, proves I was right.

Previous studies were misleading, the economists note, because they didn’t “incorporate three key costs,” which are the unreliability of renewables, the large amounts of land they require, and the displacement of cheaper “baseload” energy sources like nuclear plants.

Read full story here…

  1. GeoffB permalink
    July 11, 2019 1:42 pm


    • Tomo permalink
      July 11, 2019 3:42 pm

      Double D’oh … beat me to it

  2. July 11, 2019 2:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  3. Thomas Carr permalink
    July 11, 2019 2:32 pm

    Possible to see the cost/surcharge equivalent details for the British market?
    If expressed as a % above what it would have been had we remained relying on stable supplies to carry base loads this would make the point simply and demonstrate the penalty now carried by UK domestic and commercial consumers which now has to be factored into price increases.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 12, 2019 9:17 am

      It’s tricky to do. You have to include the extra network costs of connecting up, wind farms and interconnector and transmission backups, running backup capacity, subsidies etc. In all we probably could be getting our power for 25-50% less, especially if you still allowed coal and cut carbon tax.

  4. swan101 permalink
    July 11, 2019 2:44 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  5. July 11, 2019 3:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  6. Jackington permalink
    July 11, 2019 3:46 pm

    My word, these guys are way off message, these results will just not do in academe. Better watch their step or they will become ex university of Chicago.

  7. markl permalink
    July 11, 2019 4:53 pm

    10 years ago Barrack Obama stated in a national televised speech that converting to renewables would significantly increase US electricity costs. Since then the propaganda machine has been trying to convince people that it’s actually cheaper but all the people have to do is look at their electricity bills. Like the hurricane boogey man. Instead of increasing in numbers and intensity the US went for 8 years without a Cat 2 hurricane making landfall and then when one finally did tried to blame it on CC. Really? Do they think people don’t notice these misrepresentations and downright lies?

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 11, 2019 6:25 pm

    How to severely limit our trade and the capabilities of our Navy

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      July 11, 2019 8:46 pm

      Doesn’t say anything about Navy vessels, does it?

      • yonason permalink
        July 11, 2019 10:36 pm

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 12, 2019 9:18 am

        You think the Navy never visits Britain?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 12, 2019 1:53 pm

      Luckily nearly every ship in British waters is foreign owned, and ships can last quite a long time so I see the UK will be shooting itself in the foot once again. We don’t build many ships either anymore. More virtue signalling nonsense from our moron politicians.

      • Roger Cockett permalink
        July 12, 2019 5:01 pm

        If I mistake not, that old sailing warship is firing a carbon-emitting cannon. That will have to stop of course!!!

  9. John F. Hultquist permalink
    July 11, 2019 8:15 pm

    Last year, I was the first journalist to . . . ” [Michael Shellenberger, 2019]

    I’ll fix this for him:
    “Last year I found several skeptical blogs and learned that wind and solar are better at harvesting tax money than producing power. Now I want to get the credit for the idea.”

  10. July 11, 2019 11:01 pm

    I am from Canada. An economist from The University of Guelph Ross McKitrick, google him it you want, researched the economics of green energy. His conclusion states that 90% of the income from green energy comes from subsidies and only 10% from power produced. The green energy system has added 4 cents per kwh to our hydro bills. How does this sound like a solution. I have also received a link from him, to a Canadian government web page showing temperatures by location. My location shows almost a flat line for average temperatures for the last 150 years. Even though the alarmists are showing C02 emission increases and model temperature increases. The alarmists models are wrong and are being proven wrong by actual data.

  11. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 12, 2019 12:18 am

    This doesn’t come as a surprise to us in South Australia. Due to the actions of 2 (Labor) Premiers we’ve got lots of wind and solar, and there hasn’t been a State wide blackout for nearly 3 years, just ‘minor’ load shedding.
    When the wind drops we are dependent on electricity supplies from Victoria, but the Premier there (nickname Dopey Dan) shut down one of their 3 big brown coal stations, causing the cheapest electricity in Australia to become the most expensive (simultaneous increase in intermittent wind).
    And re wind costs, there is a small wind farm in Hepburn Springs with 2 turbines. They lose money selling electricity (despite the price doubling) but make a profit on the subsidies.

  12. sean2829 permalink
    July 12, 2019 1:04 am

    Remember when renewable energy companies insisted they needed “certainty” for their industry? That turned out to be a euphemism for guaranteed profitability at the expense of other players and customers.

  13. Allan lindsay permalink
    July 12, 2019 8:24 pm

    Possibly. But its a small amount . And theoretically its green energy. But of course the oil and coal barons will try and diss it . But i think its got too big now too stop

  14. George Let permalink
    July 13, 2019 1:18 pm

    Major Government Subsidy for Wind and Solar
    Was that taken into account?

  15. Ivan permalink
    July 15, 2019 6:10 pm

    The “government subsidy” for wind and solar is entirely funded by a surcharge on electricity users to pay for it.

    The Low Carbon Contracts Company exists to collect the levy on electricity suppliers, and redistribute it to low carbon electricity suppliers according to their contracts.

    The understanding that renewables increase the cost of reliable energy is quite mainstream and uncontroversial. Since low carbon supplies have not been forthcoming without explicit financial support above the market price of energy, and the electricity user pays for that support through the levy, the observation that it increases the price of electricity is already demonstrated without a statistical study. People who think it will reduce the price of energy in the end, or at least not increase it, are relying on the technology getting very cheap, and that we will somehow find a cheap way of dealing with the intermittency problem. The first of those could turn out to be true. There is no hint of the latter. Serious reports like National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios don’t even sweep it under the carpet.

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