Just kidding! April Fool’s!
I know, I know…we did this last year too, but it’s not our fault that Southern Company and SCANA offered up April Fool’s 2016 as completion dates for the first new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia and V.C. Summer in South Carolina picked April Fool’s 2017 for the next two new reactors at each site. You heard that right: roughly 4400 megawatts (MW) of new nuclear generation were supposed to be flowing through transmission lines by now.
Sen. Alexander says that wind power is expensive. However, his information is outdated. With its considerable wind energy resources, Oklahoma had the lowest electricity prices in the country last year. Tennessee ranked #28. Analysis by Leidos Electrical shows that Plains and Eastern Clean Line project could more than likely reduce electric rates in the Tennessee Valley, and beyond. In November 2016, Lazard Associates published their annual Levelized Cost of Energy analysis showing that the lowest cost wind power resources reach $14/MWh (1.4 cents per kilowatt hour, kWh). A new report from Moody’s Investor Services reports wind power prices for $15/MWh (1.5 cents per kWh). In 2015, Georgia Power received wind power proposals with pricing of $15.77/MWh (1.577 cents per kWh). As an already-operating wind project, the Balko Wind project in western Oklahoma sold wind power to the Public Service Company of Oklahoma for $15.80/MWh (1.58 cents per kWh). HVDC transmission charges may add an additional 2 cents per kWh. Additionally, TVA can earn revenue by using their existing transmission system to “wheel” low-cost wind power to power-hungry neighbors.
The single most-significant difference came from the so-called ‘leading experts’: a hand-selected group of 22 individuals who are among the wind sector’s most knowledgeable and senior leaders. Those experts were, on average, even more optimistic about wind energy cost reduction, expecting LCOE to decline by 27% by 2030 and 48% by 2050 in the median scenario, and by 57% and 66% in the low scenario (Figure 4). The views of this group suggest even greater potential for cost reduction than noted earlier.
Fad wind turbines bad-mouth utility-scale wind farms, and then frequently fail to live up to their promises. That’s bad news for renewable energy. People can get misled into a false techno-optimism, that we should delay using today’s technologies because the future technology will be perfected, if we just wait a little longer. One positive aspect from the QZ.com article is it points out that a residential solar array costs about half as much as the wind tree. One thing the article doesn’t mention is that residential solar panels can achieve 20-30% capacity factors, or 4-5x higher performance than the wind tree (at 5%). At half the price and 4-5x the performance, residential solar panels are way, way better investments than the wind tree.
This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.
Wind energy has reached record low prices. Wind energy has reached $32-$77 per megawatt hour (MWh) without federal incentives. If the federal Production Tax Credit or Investment Tax Credit is included, wind energy pricing may be $14-$63/MWh.
Utility-scale solar power has reached record low prices. Solar power has reached $50-$70/MWh without federal incentives.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has released its 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report. This annual report highlights important achievements for the wind industry. Wind power purchase agreement prices have hit record lows. That’s good news for the South, where wind energy is beginning to make inroads. The National Renewable Energy Lab previously found that new innovative turbines, with taller towers and longer blades, open up billions of dollars worth of wind energy opportunity in the South. Listed below are a few highlights from LBNL’s most recent report.
Online publications are doing a real disservice to the future of clean tech (and their readers) by perpetuating the hype of fad wind turbines without hard data. If people begin investing in the Vortex Bladeless Wind Turbine through some sort of crowd-sourcing effort (as the inventors announced, is their intended way of getting more money), because they read a sensational article from online news sources such as Gizmag, WIRED, Phys.org, CleanTechnica and Grist; who should be held liable if the investment doesn’t pan out?
Solar photovoltaics, wind energy and solar thermal technology costs have all declined pretty substantially since Lazard’s analysis last year. Natural gas and energy efficiency costs have stayed the same, although to be fair, energy efficiency’s starting low cost of $0 per megawatt of energy saved is hard to beat. Meanwhile, coal, nuclear and integrated gasification combined cycle power costs continue to increase.
The cost of wind energy will blow you away.