How Germany’s Solar Evolution Impacts America

Clean energy advocates are almost universally guilty of a certain level of reverence for Germany—myself included. Often heard are declarations such as, “Of course we can transition to renewable energy in the U.S.—just look at the Germans!” or “Did you know solar energy costs half as much in Germany as it does in the U.S.?”

Well, I’m going to talk about Germany again, but this time the tagline is quite different: Germany is only expected to install 3.9 gigawatts of solar in 2013, down from 7.5 last year. That means we Americans might finally install more solar in a single year than the Germans.

This decrease is largely attributable to a fundamental shift in the value proposition of solar in Germany. Understanding this dynamic is important, as it provides perspective on perhaps the most contentious renewable energy topic in the U.S. today: net energy metering (NEM). Grist writer David Roberts’ explains the issue simply: net metering is a policy in place in just over 40 states where electric utilities provide credit to customers with solar PV systems for the full retail value of the electricity. If customers produce as much electricity as they consume, their bills “net out” to zero (or to the minimum monthly customer charges, where these apply). That means the customers aren’t paying for electricity, but it also means that they aren’t paying anything towards their utility’s fixed costs (such as existing generating assets that produce electricity when the sun isn’t shining, distribution lines, etc.). As more customers zero out or dramatically reduce their bills with net energy metering, these fixed costs are covered by fewer customers, raising rates. To most utilities, this doesn’t make much sense since solar customers still rely on the grid for much of their electricity demand.

The German Solar Market: Fit For A Change

To understand the connection between net energy metering and what’s going on right now in Germany, a little bit of history helps. In 2000, the German government launched a massive ratepayer-subsidized campaign to expand solar energy deployment—the solar feed-in tariff (FiT) program. FiTs subsidize generation from renewable energy technologies, making them affordable in the near term and enabling industry-wide growth. Since solar equipment costs were very high relative to retail electricity prices as recently as three years ago, the Germans set FiT levels well above the retail price of electricity in order for solar systems to make economic sense. This led to a flood of new investment, an unprecedented multi-year explosion in solar installations, and by consequence, large-scale reductions in PV equipment costs.

FiTs are designed to help governments meet certain capacity targets. So (like most subsidies) they slowly phase out over time by offering a lower price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) as different targets are met, resulting in a step down of FiT levels year after year. This brings us to where we are today in Germany, with the FiT for typical residential systems set at $0.20/kWh, two and a half times lower than it was in 2010.

Unlike the situation stateside where customers are credited for their solar-generated electricity at the full retail electricity rate under net energy metering, most German systems are only credited at the current FiT rate ($0.20/kWh). German residents, on the other hand, pay on average $0.36/kWh for electricity in their homes. This discrepancy is the primary reason the German solar market is in transition.

Solar developers in Germany are now looking at new models that focus on the high retail rates paid by customers as illustrated in the chart above.


Enter a concept that’s been floating around the solar space for some time but has yet to break into U.S. vernacular: self-consumption. The concept is simple: instead of feeding all of your system’s solar energy production back onto the grid and being credited for each kWh at the FiT level, as has been done in Germany for years, an installer configures a PV system using an additional meter so that each kWh produced by your PV system gets special treatment depending on where it’s used:

  • If you use solar energy from your PV system in your home or business, you’re effectively “credited” at the retail electricity rate (dotted yellow line above) since that’s energy that you’re simply not buying from the utility.
  • If your solar system produces more electricity than you are using at any given moment, you send that excess electricity back to the grid, and are credited at the FiT rate (not as good as the dotted yellow line, but still valuable).
  • Finally, when your solar system is not producing electricity or your building’s load exceeds what your system is producing, you simply buy additional electricity from the utility at the standard retail rate.

A simple example helps illustrate the economic case behind self-consumption in places like Germany and Australia, where FiT levels are far below the retail electricity rate. Let’s take a German home that uses about 250 kWh each month and equip it with a PV system that’s able to produce roughly the same amount of energy on a monthly basis. If electricity from the system were only being compensated at current FiT rates, the homeowner would be making about $50 a month from the solar system. Now lets take that same system, but configure it to enable self-consumption. In Germany, homes can typically use about one-third of the energy produced by a solar system on site. Now the model changes: about 83 kWh are credited every month at the retail rate (the “self consumed” amount) while the remaining solar generation is credited at the FiT level since it’s not used on site. This leads to 26 percent more money in the homeowner’s pocket compared to the pure FiT system—$63 a month.

But simply making the switch from FiT to self-consumption is only a small part of the financial equation. With self-consumption, building owners/tenants are incentivized to use as much solar electricity on site as possible. This means doing things like installing east/west-facing systems that better match the load, purchasing home energy management systems that time appliance use to coincide with solar production, and, at the far end of the spectrum, installing battery storage systems. These technologies allow German customers to go from using one-third of their solar electricity on site to up to 75 percent.

Self-consumption leads to some interesting system-level benefits as well:

  • Self-consumption drives energy conservation by consumers since the more families and businesses conserve energy, the greater share they can displace with their own solar generation.
  • The local power grid is stabilized by improving the match between local demand and local solar power production. The benefit of this match is potentially enormous: large concentrations of self-consuming installations enable higher penetrations of distributed generation and can help avoid costly distribution system upgrades.
  • Since the financial value proposition of self-consumption increases with more on-site solar energy use, such systems increase demand for energy efficiency and energy management devices.

Self-Consumption in the U.S.

The German situation—where retail electricity rates are increasingly higher than what’s usually paid for solar energy—could be just around the corner in the United States. That’s because net energy metering is increasingly under the magnifying glass of utilities and regulators. Many U.S. utilities have proposed solar-specific tariffs where customers continue to pay retail power rates but are credited for solar generation at a separate solar-specific rate. This value of solar rate is based on how much value solar actually provides to the grid, thereby providing fair compensation to both the customer and the utility.

As someone who’s been closely following the NEM debate here in the U.S, I’m very interested in self-consumption’s potential to ameliorate many of the issues associated with NEM. Imagine the benefits in a utility territory where a U.S. customer installs a self-consuming solar system:

  • For customers: instead of being credited at a very simple NEM rate, the revenue from their PV systems are now clearly delineated and incentivizes additional energy saving behavior which can save them more money. (It’s worth noting that the value of solar rate could be set above or below the existing NEM rate, so it’s difficult to generalize about customer impacts.)
  • For the utility: First, PV generation now better matches local loads, enabling higher concentrations of distributed PV systems and deferring the need for distribution system upgrades. Second, utilities can now measure distributed generation on a much more granular basis thanks to the presence of an additional meter. Finally, this scenario assumes that the local utility has agreed upon a value of solar rate, meaning the utility is able to extract real, measurable value from solar generation, which beforehand was simply valued the same as the retail electric rate.
  • For society: Self-consumption helps mitigate the cross-subsidy issue of non-solar customers picking up the tab of solar customers who still use the grid, by assigning clear value to different sources and uses of energy.

Self-consumption won’t manifest here overnight for two main reasons. One, there’s a massive absolute cost difference: the average residential electricity rate in the U.S. is just under one-third of Germany’s at $0.13/kWh, so the impact of offsetting retail rates instead of using a specialized tariff aren’t as drastic in the U.S. Second, utilities (or perhaps public utility commissions) would have to give the thumbs-up on self-consumption by clearly delineating their billing structure and agreeing to some kind of value of solar rate.

But these limitations can be overcome, probably before 2020. If PV system costs are able to hit the Department of Energy’s SunShot targets, solar will have a compelling value proposition in spite of our “low” electricity rates. Furthermore, utilities are actively engaged in the search for solutions to the net energy metering/value of solar challenge as we speak—just look at Minnesota’s search for a statewide solution as an indicator of how metering rules and rate designs can be changed in a relatively short amount of time.

As U.S. utilities and solar advocates search for the next step beyond net energy metering, we should learn from our European counterparts who are dealing with these issues now. Finding system configurations and rate structures that are fair to all stakeholders, including the non-participating solar customer and the utility, are few and far between. And while self-consumption is not a panacea, its potential benefits to multiple stakeholder groups make it worthy of further consideration, especially as the net energy metering issue comes front and center for more and more utilities across the country.

rockymountain-instituteEditor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Rocky Mountain Institute. Author credit goes to Jesse Morris.

Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, entrepreneurial, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) think-and-do tank. Co-founded in 1982 by Amory Lovins, who remains an active thought leader as Chairman and Chief Scientist, the Colorado-based organization now has approximately 75 full-time staff, an annual budget of nearly $12 million, and a global reputation. RMI excels in radical resource efficiency, especially via integrative design. We drive progress chiefly by transforming design, identifying and busting barriers, and spreading innovation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Your face/reddit panel is blocking text.

    • josephtoomey

      Take note of the statement above, to wit: “Since solar equipment costs were very high relative to retail electricity prices as recently as three years ago, the Germans set FiT levels well above the retail price of electricity in order for solar systems to make economic sense.” The irony of this statement will be utterly lost on ‘green energy’ boosters.

      Solar energy could never make “economic sense” irrespective of how the German government chose to manipulate the market for locally-generated solar power. With a €0.57 per kilowatt-hour FiT rate for solar power, wealthy German residents who could afford to install solar panels on their properties were suddenly being subsidized by lower- and middle-income ratepayers who could not afford to do this. The value of the subsidy amounts to 8 to 10 times the cost of wholesale power traded on the Leipzig exchange. The FiT works like a regressive tax where those who can least afford to pay are being negatively impacted the most while the wealthiest ride free or even make money off the deal, courtesy of Europe’s climate change hysteria. This is what passes for “economic sense” at the Rocky Mountain Institute. Everywhere else on planet Earth, it’s called madness.

      Germany’s embrace of ‘green energy’ has driven up the cost of power, driven industry and jobs out of the country, thrown nearly a million Germans into “energy poverty” in the wealthiest country in Europe, degraded the capital efficiency of baseload power generation assets, destabilized formerly predictable capital structures for traditional electric utility power producers, increased the level of uncertainty in the utility and grid operator industries throughout the region, unbalanced the economic landscape of traditionally low-risk baseload power generation investments across the entire European Union, boosted emissions of CO2, stressed the grids of neighboring countries, caused a massive drain on public finances as subsidies are paid to produce high-cost low-value power that often can’t be used, fomented a rent-seeking and lobbying free-for-all in Berlin, and worst of all, has caused an indefensible wealth transfer where the rich steal from the poor with the German government facilitating the theft.

      The example above is absurdity on steroids. Solar power does not “average” out over the year. It pours in during late Spring and Summer months and drops off dramatically during other months. But power demand and grid operations don’t work off averages, do they? Adding battery storage only piles more capital cost onto already uneconomic power generation systems, further unbalancing the economic equation.
      Make no mistake, Americans have much to learn from Germany as the article above suggests. But again, the real lesson to learn is utterly lost in the ‘green energy’ hagiography. Germany serves as an example of what not to do elsewhere.

      Joseph Toomey
      Baltimore, MD

      • Bob_Wallace

        You wrote an awful lot of words in order to demonstrate that you don’t understand how governments often spend money in order to help their citizens save vastly more money in the long run.

        Or put another way, how we, the citizens that make up governments, combine small amounts of individual money and invest it in our mutual future.

        • josephtoomey

          You wrote an awful lot of words to demonstrate that you have trouble with comprehension. Government is not spending money. People are. Government is merely facilitating the wealth transfer.

          But if citizens are saving vastly more money in the long run, then German electricity rates should be coming down. They have more than doubled since EEG was enacted in 2000. They will rise next year, and the year later, and on and on. German residential ratepayers now spend almost 3 times as much as U.S. ratepayers do. This is not a future we should want to embrace.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In 2012 solar on Germany’s grid saved 6 billion euros. Renewables reduced the purchase of fossil fuels by 8 billion euros.

            The price of industrial electricity in German peaked in 2009 and has been falling since. The price of industrial electricity in Germany is less than the EU27 average.


            German residential customers pay 36c/kWh. 6c (roughly) goes to support the installation of renewables. Industry pays no assistance to renewables yet enjoys the benefits.

            Most of what German residents pay for electricity, the difference between 30c (subsidies removed) and 8.6c (industry cost) is due to a monopolistic energy industry that takes unreasonable profits.

            German citizens are reacting by generating their own electricity and are starting to store ‘homemade’ in order to avoid their unreasonable high prices.

            Luckily for us the citizens of Germany and a couple other European countries have brought down the cost of solar panels and are developing offshore wind technology. That will help make electricity cheaper for Americans.

            • josephtoomey

              One other aspect to keep in mind with respect to industrial power prices is that they only apply to about 1,500 exempted high-volume businesses. But those exemptions have been challenged by the European Commission and will not likely survive a court challenge.
              Frank Dohmen, Christoph Pauly and Gerald Traufetter, ‘War on Subsidies: Brussels Questions German Energy Revolution,’ Der Spiegel, May 29, 2013
              Therefore, once German industry is required to pay exorbitant electricity rates like residential consumers must, the exodus of German industry, capital investment and high-wage industrial jobs will accelerate.
              This is our ‘green energy’ future?

            • Bob_Wallace

              Joseph, I realize you have a team to support, but I’m not buying your junk.

              German wholesale electricity prices are in the 6c/kWh range. German industrial electricity prices are 8.6c. (1,500 is a large number.)

              German residential customers pay 30c plus a 6c renewable energy support fee. The difference between 8.6c and 30c is profit and taxes.

              Our green future in the US is cheaper electricity. We pay hundreds of millions dollars every day to mitigate coal emissions and fight oil wars. Those costs will go away.

              Our coal and nuclear plants will wear out and have to be replaced. That is an unavoidable expense. The average lifespan of a coal plant in the US is 39 years. Most of our coal plants are now over 30 years.

              New coal, like new nuclear is very expensive. At least 15c/kWh.

              New wind is now around 4c/kWh and expected to decrease. New solar has dropped below 10c/kWh and is expected to drop rapidly, becoming as cheap as wind.

              A combination of wind, solar, other renewables and storage will give us cheaper electricity than would new coal and nuclear.

              That’s the hard facts, Joseph.

              I’ll stick a graph on the bottom that shows US electricity plant age. We’re going to have to replace that old stuff, makes sense to replace it with the cheapest.

            • josephtoomey

              These are not “hard facts” but unsourced, inaccurate, counter-factual pronouncements in a contest that the numbers prove your side has already lost badly.

            • Bob_Wallace

              Sorry, Joseph. I gave you links to data sources for German industrial electricity prices and for the savings renewables are bringing to Germany’s grid. If you’re the sort of person who hand-waves away inconvenient facts then you’re a waste of my time.

              Have a nice day….

            • josephtoomey

              It’s not a savings. It’s a cross-subsidy. The overall costs of electricity in Germany are increasing each year and no serious person disputes that. The reason is ‘green energy’ and no amount of religious fervor can change the facts on the ground.

              German industry is fleeing – and so are jobs and economic growth. The reason is ‘green energy.’

              As more states in the U.S. begin to challenge renewable portfolio standards and as more fossil energy lowers the price for conventional power here, each day gets a little bit better. Thanks for your kind wishes.

            • josephtoomey

              It’s not a savings. It’s a cross-subsidy. The overall costs of electricity in Germany are increasing each year and no serious person disputes that. The reason is ‘green energy’ and no amount of religious fervor can change the facts on the ground.

              German industry is fleeing – and so are jobs and economic growth. The reason is ‘green energy.’

              As more states in the U.S. begin to challenge renewable portfolio standards and as more fossil energy lowers the price for conventional power here, each day gets a little bit better. Thanks for your kind wishes.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Joseph, you may want to start trying to back your allegations with current factual links. I say trying because if you are at all honest you won’t find anything. Then you’ll have to change your outlook on ‘green energy’. Assuming you are capable and up to the challenge.

            • josephtoomey

              So 2013 is not current enough? As to factual, it’s the ‘green energy’ crowd that seems to be selective about which facts it allows into the discussion.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              2013 is current enough. Now is it accurate? You’ll need to include a link. Most people who have something real to say include a link.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              The Der Spiegel is all over the place. It’s trying to keep viewers interest by becoming a tabloid. Widely discredited on anything technical. Also your link is bad.

            • josephtoomey

              Most selection bias.
              Who cares about the link You have the reference. If you can’t find it, you need to look for another occupation.

          • josephtoomey

            The scale of self-delusion that people must engage in to swallow such drivel is scarcely imaginable. If the monopolistic energy industry is extracting such unreasonable prices, why have the three major publicly-traded utility companies surrendered more than two-thirds of their shareholder value since 2008? You can’t have it both ways. The fourth electric utility company is privately owned but they have experienced the same erosion in shareholder value. Either they’re gouging the citizens and enjoying unreasonable monopolistic profits or they’re starving. You have no idea what you’re talking about here.

            If German industry is doing so marvelously well, why are tens of billions of dollars in foreign direct investment pouring in to the U.S. from German companies escaping the ‘green energy’ paradise? Ask BMW, Siemens, Voestalpine, Hoechst, BASF, Wacker, Linde, etc. Even more FDI will flow away from the EU due to the increasing competitive disadvantage and unreliable power supply caused by Germany’s domestic energy situation.

            Frank Dohmen and Alexander Neubacher, ‘Merkel’s Switch to Renewables: Rising Energy Prices Endanger German Industry,’ Der Spiegel, February 24, 2012

            Industrial power prices are the dead canary in the ‘green energy’ coal mine. On one side of the ledger, large increases in expensive renewable energy have stressed the cost structure of utilities’ power production profiles. On the revenue side, a surplus of renewable power has driven down industrial power prices and revenue streams to conventional power producers. The proliferation of solar panels on residential rooftops has
            greatly reduced the amount of high-margin power demand, cutting into once-profitable revenue streams for utility suppliers.

            Industrial power prices have plummeted not because cheap solar power is flooding onto the market but because there is such an excess of expensive power at unaffordable prices paid by system ratepayers that underutilized fossil fuel plants must sell their power from underutilized plants at ever-decreasing prices to clear the market. The only reason German utilities are profitable in 2013 is because they sold most of their wholesale power under forward contracts two or three years ago. But that is coming to an end. And so is public utility economic vitality. And so is Germany’s experiment under the present unworkable EEG arrangement.

            Sonal Patel, ‘RWE to Close 3.1 GW of Conventional Generation Across Europe on Profit Woes,’ Power Magazine, August 15, 2013

            RWE announced in August 2013 they would shut down as much as 7% of Northern European generating plant capacity because the plants are no longer profitable to operate.

            Tino Anderson, ‘RWE Shuts Unprofitable Power Plants to Spur Generation Unit,’ Bloomberg, August 14, 2013

            A total of 3,100 megawatts of generating capacity will be
            shuttered by RWE.

            ‘RWE to Close or Idle Power Plants,’ BBC, August 14, 2013 (

            E.On has taken another 6,500 megawatts of capacity offline in 2013 in response to the market deterioration, which is in addition to 11,000 megawatts of idled capacity previously announced.

            ‘RWE to Close or Idle Power Plants,’ BBC, August 14, 2013 (

            Renewable energy surcharges grew 47% in 2013 and will grow another 17-22% in 2014. Der Spiegel calls electricity a “luxury good.”

            ‘Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good,’ Der Spiegel, September 4, 2013

            Renewable subsidies are estimated to carry a $725 billion price tag in present value terms shaving as much as 6% off of GDP.

            Sally Bakewell and Marc Roca, ‘Renewable Subsidies “Unaffordable” at $725 Billion, Bank Says,’ Bloomberg, November 12, 2012

            Since its introduction of the EEG program, the German economy has logged the lowest sustained GDP rate in the EU with the exception of Italy. You can thank ‘green energy’ for that. If renewables were such a good idea, so economically beneficial, they would be driving down residential electricity rates and driving up economic growth. But precisely the opposite is

            Marek Dabrowski, ‘Fiscal and Monetary Policy Determinants of the Eurozone Crisis and Its Resolution,’ CASE Network Studies & Analyses, 2012, Page 15 (
            Lastly, anyone who actually believes offshore wind will
            lower the cost of power needs to book passage back to the Milky Way galaxy. Offshore wind will cost 3 1/2 to 4 times more than conventional sources.
            Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release Overview, Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, January 28, 2013

            • Bob_Wallace

              Joseph, you can collect up a lot of incorrect stuff and paste it on a single page but that does not make it correct.

              German industry is not moving to the US in order to obtain cheaper electricity. A small amount of production is moving in order to take advantage of cheaper natural gas prices.

              BTW, I bet you don’t realize that the EIA 2018 forecasts are badly flawed. The price of wind and solar are already lower than what the EIA projects for five years from now.

              Joseph, I’m afraid you’re on the wrong side of reality. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself.

            • josephtoomey

              Cheap energy – it’s one in the same. BMW moved to Moses Lake not because there was cheap natural gas. It was because industrial power could be had for under 4 cents in their power-intensive production process. Siemens didn’t come to Charlotte for cheap natural gas. They don’t even use it. They need cheap, abundant, reliable electricity unavailable in ‘green energy’ paradise Germany.

              Yes, I posted a lot of stuff – because it substantiates the case I make. It’s because it is correct. And should we just believe your silly pronouncements about EIA Levelized Costs solely on the basis of your say-so? If there is a complaint about EIA numbers, it is that they have understated wind and solar costs by ignoring the impact of intermittency, by ignoring the cost shifting to other system users that takes place, by ignoring the subsidies that must be paid for and by ignoring the damaging economic impact from ‘green energy’ that drives up power prices and unemployment while driving down economic growth. The numbers are incontestable.

              The ‘green energy’ catechism won’t get ’em into the church any longer when the bills start going higher. The faithful are losing their faith.

            • josephtoomey


            • Ivor O’Connor

              BMW outsources much of their work to little shops scattered all about Bavaria. Siemens is laying off a huge percentage of the foreign workers and hunkering down in Bavaria. Yes you posted a lot of stuff. Wrong stuff.

            • josephtoomey

              Wrong stuff = Stuff you don’t like

            • Ivor O’Connor

              You say Siemens is leaving. Yet you can google and see hundreds if not thousands of news clippings about how they are consolidating back to Bavaria. Don’t be a twit and do some homework first. I’d try doing the google search and reading reality:….0…1c.1.29.serp..5.16.879.W0BDuIIFI1A

            • josephtoomey

              Tell that to a thousand workers in Charlotte at the gas turbine manufacturing plant. That could have been kept in Germany . . . but it came here.

              You can thank EEG.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Charlotte is a natural hub for doing business and is used by many companies in Germany. I take it you haven’t bothered to read the links I provided by way of the google search. A mind is a terrible thing to waste with ignorant hatred.

            • josephtoomey

              Sure, it’s just coincidence that Siemens closed two gas turbine plants in Germany and announced at the same time they would be starting one in Charlotte hiring nearly 1,000 workers in high-wage manufacturing jobs. It’s just coincidence, right? Everybody does it. Golly.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              I’m glad you identified the problem with Siemens and why they are firing 15,000 employees world wide. It’s because they are stuck in the fossil fuel industry. Unlike SolarCity which is ranked by Inc. in the “Top 10” of America’s 100 Top Job Creators national listing.


              Out with the unprofitable dinosaur industries and in with the future!

            • josephtoomey

              Trouble is, fossil fuels aren’t going away anywhere except in the dreams of ‘green energy’ bloviators. As Vaclav Smil points out, like it or not, the world is running into, not away from, fossil fuels.

              But if you want to debate job creation, look at U.S. employment data. Take for example Texas where they’re producing more oil and natural gas than they have for almost two generations.

              Between Obama’s January 2009 inauguration day and July 2013, BLS reported a nationwide net increase of 2.1 million employed persons in the Household Survey. Texas had accounted for 42.9% of those new jobs even though it comprised only 7.8% of total nationwide employment on Obama’s inauguration day. Texas had outpaced the rest of the nation in Household Survey job creation by a factor of better than eight-to-one.

              Consider the quality of job creation that had occurred in Obama’s ‘green energy’ graveyard economy compared to job creation activity in fossil fuel-producing Texas. Between inauguration day 2009 and July 2013, the BLS Institutional Survey showed a net increase of 1,705,000 jobs had been added to employers’ payrolls throughout the entire country over that 54 month period. Texas accounted for the second-highest rate of job creation during those months with the highest rate being logged by the other oil and gas producing miracle state, North Dakota. Nearly 56% of Obama’s nationwide non-farm payroll job creation had occurred in the Leisure and Hospitality industries where the average weekly wage rate in July 2013 of $349.13 was just 42% of the national average. Excluding the contribution from Texas, a total of only 1,107,500 non-farm payroll jobs had been created in the nationwide Obama economy outside of Texas, less than 21,000 payroll jobs per month. Among those new jobs, an astounding 74.5% were in the low-wage Leisure and Hospitality industries. Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of mining jobs that had been created in the Texas oil patch brought in weekly wages that were 56% higher than the national private-sector payroll average.

              How about job creation in Obama’s ‘green energy’ paradise states of Nevada and California? Those job creation wastelands logged the number one and number three worst unemployment rates throughout nearly the entirety of Obama’s job-destroying experiment. You can look all this up.

              It was a clash between Rick Perry’s high-wage ‘brown energy’ oil and gas drilling economy and Barack Obama’s hourly-paid, starvation wage, burger-flipper economy brought to you with magic ‘green energy.’ Try to guess which one is winning.

              Look, I know ‘green energy’ religionists do fiction, storytelling and method-acting quite well and don’t do analysis, arithmetic, fact-checking or honesty so good. Shucks, you can’t be good at everything. It’s a dull, dirty, thankless job keeping the discussion grounded in reality. But someone has to do it.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Fossil fuel industry has been responsible for lots of jobs. Times have changed. With the price of wind being cheaper than natural gas in more and more areas things are changing quickly. Do you want to be on the winning side or do you want to hang on to a dying industry?

            • josephtoomey

              Wishful thinking on a grand scale. Wind won’t become cheaper than nat. gas in the U.S. when gas sells for $3.70 per million BTUs as it has since 2010. To imagine that efficiency of wind and solar will improve while efficiencies of fossil generation must stand still is another instance of willful self-delusion.

              Wind and solar may “appear” to be getting cheaper. But that is only because society has fashioned a mechanism for costs to be shifted, for the immense costs of intermittency to be ignored, for the costs of subsidies to be discounted, and most important, for the high capital costs these modes suffer from to be borne by system ratepayers with no concern for affordability.

              In a low interest rate environment, the exorbitant capital costs of wind and solar temporarily allow them to look better than they are. But that offers the comfort of having the best house in a bad neighborhood. When interest rates double, and double again, who will have the money to do this stuff anymore?

            • Ivor O’Connor

              You need to watch the natural gas market then. The prices have been rising. You also need to watch the solar and wind markets. They have been declining. You need to quit with the mumbo jumbo BTUs and interest rates and look at what the utilities must pay for their electricity. The long term wind contracts in many places are already less than the natural gas contracts. I’m sure if you were offered electricity at half the price you wouldn’t really care where it came from. Most businesses are out to make a profit. Hence nuclear and coal are no longer desirable. Wind followed by natural gas and solar are the new order. Soon it will switch to wind, solar, and then natural gas but we’ll have to wait another two years for that.

            • josephtoomey

              But, of course, that’s a silly argument. Wind and solar projects involve serious cost shifting and utilities don’t need to bear those costs in their contract prices. Wind qualifies for a $22 per megawatt-hour federal tax credit. Utilities don’t pay for that. Federal taxpayers do. Wind projects receive generous subsidies, cash grants from federal and state aid programs, etc. Wind intermittency requires system operators to deploy far larger total generation capacity than they otherwise would to cover those periods when power is demanded but wind can’t supply. Those costs are not figured into the wind power contracts.

              Wind is a welfare recipient but it’s boosters want to pretend that it’s hard at work earning an honest living. As I mentioned to another ‘green energy’ dreamer, I can eat quite cheaply at the most expensive restaurant in town as long as the guy at the table next to me picks up the tab. Wind operators are eating at the public trough and others are picking up the tab. Economists need to look at the total cost, not a misrepresentation provided by faulty analysis or failure to include massive cross-subsidizing.

            • Bob_Wallace

              Joseph, I’m going to post some stuff here, not because I think it will get through to you, but so that anyone else can understand that you are building an anti-renewable case based on falsehoods.

              Let’s look at the cost of integrating wind and solar –

              “Very large quantities of wind are being used by several grid operators with virtually no increase in the need for operating reserves,” AWEA Transmission Policy Manager Michael Goggin. “The Midwest System Operator (MISO) has over twelve gigawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has over ten gigawatts. Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) has had well over 50 percent wind at times.
              Renewables opponents, Goggin recalled, “have said for years that costs would go up and the grid would fall apart. They have been proven wrong.”
              In ERCOT’s calculations for 2011,
              Goggin said, “the total cost for integrating wind came out at about $0.50 per megawatt-hour.” And, he added, without 2011’s anomalies in July and August that accounted for 80 percent percent of all costs, the total costs in 2012 for the necessary balancing reserves and other expenses associated with the integration of large amounts of wind are expected to be even lower.
              “Newer research suggests systems can go to 40 percent renewables with no problem,” Goggin said, “using the very efficient grid operating practicesbeing applied by MISO, ERCOT, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and others.”

              “They do very fast interval dispatchof all energy resources,” Goggin continued. “because load is continuously changing, the output of fossil-fired plants is continuously changing, and, of course, wind is continuously changing, too.” The closer system operators are to real-time dispatch, he explained, the more effectively supply and demand can be balanced without the use of reserves.

              “They also have pretty large balancing areas,” Goggin added. “If one wind project is going off, another is probably going on somewhere, providing an overall
              more stableoutput. Larger areas also simply have more resources to accommodate variability. In MISO, wind’s variability is just something in the noise. It is not showing up in their reserve needs.”

              ERCOT’s data is similar, Goggin said. “The areas of the country that have efficient grid operating practices have shown it is possible to integrate very large quantities of wind very reliably at virtually zero incremental cost. The areas of the country that don’t have efficient grid operating practices, namely, much of the West outside California, are seeing increased costs and challenges.”

              Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,” Goggin said. “Contingency reserves, the super-fast acting energy reserve supply required of grid operators in case a large power plant shuts down unexpectedly, are a major cost. Comparing the incremental cost of wind to those costs that ratepayers have always paid, the wind cost looks even more trivial.”

              The fundamental issues are more or less the same with integrating solar, Goggin, who specializes in wind, said. “Relative to wind, solar has more minute-to-minute variability, which increases the cost. But forecasting the sun is easier because it is clear when the sun will come up and go down and when the peak is, and that reduces the cost. But grid operators who use efficient operating methods are finding it is no more of a challenge or cost than wind.”

              $0.50/MWh is $0.0005/kWh which is about nothing.

              Then renewable subsidies –

              RE: Renewables are receiving more subsidies per unit electricity produced than are fossil fuels. That’s comparing technologies and industries which are a hundred years old vs. emerging technologies which go back only about 30 years.

              Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas got 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much. (Most of the renewable subsidies went to corn farms for ethanol, not wind, solar and other renewable electricity technologies.)
              Between 1918 and 2009 oil and gas received average annual subsidies of $4.86 billion. (92 x $4.86 billion = $447 billion)

              Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. (53 x $3.50 billion = $185.6 billion)

              Between 1980 and 2009 biofuel received average annual subsidies of $1.08 billion. (29 x $1.08 billion = $31 billion)

              Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)
              Renewables received 92% less per year than oil and gas, 89% less than nuclear and 76% less than biofuels. And for many fewer years.

              How have those subsidies paid off? In the last 30 or so years the cost of wind-electricity has dropped from $0.38/kWh to $0.04/kWh. More than a 6x drop. The price of solar panels has fallen from around $100/watt to just above $0.50/watt. Almost a 200x drop.

              BTW, subsidies for both wind and solar should be gone by 2018. The price of both is falling so rapidly that they will be the two lowest new capacity sources without subsidy. An amazing feat when one recognizes that the cost of oil and nuclear continues to climb and coal continues to wreck both our planet and our health.

              Now, carry on Joseph. You’ve poop to pitch.

            • josephtoomey

              Bob, this is fantastic stuff. Actually, I just a lengthy series of correspondence with Goggin. You can check it out here:


              Any honest person would see how dishonest his arguments are.

              Let’s look at some of your claims:

              “no increase in the need for operating reserves”

              Yes, but no decrease either. When incremental fossil capacity is added, other capacity can be mothballed. Not so for wind. So total system capacity costs must rise.
              “has had well over 50 percent wind at times.”

              At times they’ve also had close to zero.
              “the grid would fall apart”

              This is sophistry masquerading as legitimate debate. System costs have risen substantially in the states that have substantial wind penetration. Goggin can’t deny it or wish it away — and neither can you.

              “the total cost for integrating wind came out at about $0.50 per megawatt-hour.”

              Actually, they were far higher. He just forgot to include those costs. He neglects the $22 per megawatt-hour that is shifted to federal taxpayers. He forgets the costs of intermittency that fall on system users. And integration costs are not the alpha and omega. You need to look at total incremental system costs. Goggin dives under the table when that subject arises. And so do you.

              “without 2011’s anomalies in July and August that accounted for 80 percent of all costs”

              But they’re not anomalies and we don’t forget them. It’s like saying if you forget that first degree murder conviction, the guy has a clean record.

              “40 percent renewables with no problem”

              Certainly no problem for him. Big problems for everyone else. He cites California. Residential electricity rates jumped 5.9% in a single year between 2011 and 2012 due to increasing renewables. The price is another 5.7% higher year-to-date 2013 over the same period 2012. You can check it here:


              The price will probably jump another 5-6% in 2014 and so on. I would hide California in the closet if I was trying to make a case for renewables.

              “the closer system operators are to real-time dispatch, he explained, the more effectively supply and demand can be balanced without the use of reserves.”

              But reserves aren’t the real issue. It’s instability in the grid. Bentek studied wind integration in Colorado. Because of rapid start-stop of baseload generation, CO2 and other effluent emissions from coal backup were actually higher than if there had been no wind. You can verify that here:

              ‘How Less Became More: Wind, Power and Unintended Consequences in the Colorado Energy Market,’ Bentek Energy LLC

              “another is probably going on somewhere, providing an overall more stable output”

              Except when it isn’t. On December 20, 2010, the coldest day of the year, nearly 6,000 megawatts of wind power in the UK went almost completely silent. At times, wind was contributing only 20 megawatts. During the 24-hour period, the system averaged 140 megawatts. “Probably” doesn’t cut it, does it?

              “ERCOT’s data is similar, Goggin said”

              If ERCOT is such a great example, why do they only plan for a 8.7% effective load carrying capacity from wind during peak summer months when the grid needs every electron it can get? You can check it here:

              ‘Report on the Capacity, Demand and Reserves in the ERCOT Region,’ Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), December 2011, Page 6

              Texas now imports electricity from Mexico. If the money wasted on wind had gone into sensible, baseload capacity, Texas could export electricity the way it exports oil and gas.

              “Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,”

              That is ridiculous. Wind is produced in far-flung areas. EIA says wind transmission (i.e. integration) costs 2.7 times more than sensible baseload natural gas on a per-unit of energy produced basis. You can check it here:


              Oh, I forgot, you don’t believe in numbers from here.

              “technologies and industries which are a hundred years old vs. emerging technologies which go back only about 30 years”

              This is absurd. You don’t do much research, do you? The first electric wind turbine went into operation in 1887. Harper’s Monthly carried an advertisement from the Windmill Light & Power Company of Walpole, Massachusetts which offered a generation system and “a storage battery for periods of calm.” Check it here and on Google:

              Windmill Light & Power Company Advertisement, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, No. 565, June 1897

              So it’s just teething pains from the 127-year old infant, huh?

              As to all your hoo-haw about subsidies and so forth, the issue is how much subsidy compared to the amount of energy produced. When you compare subsidies to renewables, in FY 2010 for example, renewables received 23-to-25 the amount accorded to oil and gas on a per BTU basis. In addition, about 95% of the “subsidies” allegedly doled out to oil and gas fell into three categories (1) special deductions accorded to domestic manufacturers, (2) deductions for percentage depletion for oil and gas wells and (3) deductions for intangible drilling costs. They are similar to the “subsidies” accorded any production-oriented business. Why is oil & gas any different?

              I need to drop off, not because I’m losing the argument but because I’m losing time. Look, it’s been fun talking to both of you guys. But neither of you (Bob or Ivor) do any basic research and neither of you know what you’re talking about. If you looked honestly at all sides in the equation instead of squatting on ‘green energy’ trimphalist plantations like this, you’d get a more comprehensive picture. As for me, I’ll become a believer when wind and solar truly become more economic. Today they’re not and wallowing in propaganda broadcast by paid mouthpieces for industries on federal welfare like AWEA or hanging around ‘green energy’ ghettoes isn’t going to help you win the debate.

            • Bob_Wallace

              Joseph, I’m simply not going to wade into your pile of manure. You are, I assume, someone who is incapable of taking on new facts and changing your opinion and you continue to use false information to support your position.
              I just felt a need to give any innocent bystanders a bit of information that would help them understand that you are not a reliable source.

            • josephtoomey

              Same for me.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              You seem to forget that governments like to have their fingers on everything. Like Obama with his “all of the above” approach. What this really means is he is going to subsidize everything. Of course if you add money to his boat he’ll subsidize you more than the others. It is called politics. For every $1 spent on bribes about $1000 is printed up and returned in subsidies. That is the secret to big energy monopolies.

            • josephtoomey

              I haven’t forgotten it. It’s just that fossil energy survives without being on welfare. Renewables don’t That’s the part you forgot.

              You 1000-to-1 example is the stuff offered by youngsters. A better exercise would be to figure up the ratio of damage inflicted by Obama-style regulation vs. the putative benefit received in exchange. Now that would be time well spent.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              So you are under the assumption that subsidies are not keeping the fossil fuel industry alive? Do you ever feel you are missing most of the story?

            • josephtoomey

              So-called “subsidies” to oil & gas in 2010 amounted to less than $4 billion. Is that keeping the oil industry alive that sold 134 billion gallons of gasoline last year for an average of $2.65 per gallon. Is that keeping natural gas industry alive that sold 25 trillion cubic feet last year at an average price of $3.70 per thousand cubic feet. You don’t do arithmetic, do you?

            • Bob_Wallace

              You omitted the cost of our three oil wars and the environmental damage.

            • josephtoomey

              Because they aren’t attributable.

              Meanwhile, you omitted the impending extinction of avian species and the million cancer deaths suffered by poor rural Chinese villagers each year, people dying from intestinal tract cancers caused by ingestion of heavy metal contamination from world-scale rare earth mining operations that produce neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, lanthanum, cerium, europium, yttrium and all the other toxic components used in wind turbine permanent magnets, electric car batteries, hybrid engines, energy-efficient lighting, super-conducting circuitry and all the other ‘green energy’ gadgetry. So much for “climate justice” Obama-style.

            • Bob_Wallace

              If fossil fuels had to pay for the health and environmental damage they cause they would be out of business very quickly.

              But keep on pleasuring that fowl….

            • josephtoomey

              Right, and they’re making hurricanes and heat waves and droughts and sick children and typhoons and bad hair days everything. Golly.

            • josephtoomey

              Thanks for the advice about watching natural gas prices. Actually, I do. Again, this is wishful thinking. Natural gas in early October sold for about one-fourth the price logged in June 2008. To say it is increasing is disingenuous since the “increase” is off an extremely low price logged in April 2012 that had not been observed at anytime in the past 12 years. Natural gas costs less today at the Henry Hub than it did in January 1997.

              Also, it’s patently silly to dismiss capital costs of wind. Wind levelized capital costs are more than 4 times higher than those for combined cycle natural gas generation. Interest rates are the key determinant of this factor. Central bank intervention through competitive devaluation has temporarily driven down rates. This won’t last forever.

              The coupon rate on 30-year Treasury paper as a proxy is only a fraction today of its long-run average between 1990 and 2007. When its long-run equilibrium rate returns, wind and solar costs will soar through the roof. You seem unaware of how economics actually works. Time to get your head out of the ‘green energy’ hagiography and get back to the textbooks.

              Lastly, the only reason coal is being taken off line in the U.S. is due to regulatory interference. In Germany, China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and nearly everywhere else in the world, its share of primary energy is growing.

              Look, I suspect you’re a very young man who is idealistic and striving to do the good and moral thing. But you spend too much time and effort trafficking in falsehoods and engaging in willful self-denial. You would do much better to pay closer attention to the world as it really is rather than constructing mental pictures of how you would like it to be. Making confident predictions about the future course of events doesn’t qualify as authoritative. It’s just wishful thinking.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Whatever. Welfare subsidized wind costs 4c/kWh. Welfare subsidized natural gas costs 6c/kWh. Easy choice. You are welcome to hem and haw and make excuses. I only care about the financial side.

            • josephtoomey

              It’s not hemming or hawing. Your numbers are not the financial side. They only look at a small slice of the overall pie. You don’t want to consider the cost shifting and subsidy impacts that are exorbitant. So the examples you cite are phony. Plus, your numbers are wrong. There may be a few contracts for 4 cent power but there are no wind farm operators receiving only 4 cents for their entire portfolios.

              When total system costs that can’t be shifted get included, the real price goes far higher. That’s why inside contained markets like Germany and Denmark, the price for electricity is the highest in the world. The shifting stops at the border. Period. End of story. Plus, I’m out of breath since you don’t wish to consider real world examples.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Wrong again on most points. The only point that you got correct is that not all are charging only 4 cents. (Sometimes only 2 cents.) However you are showing some promise of coming to grips with reality. Soon you’ll understand the most important aspect is price and that is why wind is taking over everywhere on this planet.

            • josephtoomey

              There aren’t any wind farms getting an average of 4 cents anywhere in the U.S. They have 4 cent contracts for excess power over the amount they have contracted with primary customers for 8-to-11 cents. Their average portfolio prices are far higher.

              Plus, you don’t even have the numbers right. You forgot to include the 2.2 cents paid by federal taxpayers. That’s a real cost, just not borne directly by utility operators. Either you knew that and were dishonest, or you didn’t know it and were clueless. Neither speaks well of you.

              But you don’t need to take it from me. Take it from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office which proclaims that “For wind farms being installed today, the production tax credit is still the main driver of economic viability.”

              Frontier Associates LLC, ‘Texas Renewable Energy Resource Assessment,’ Texas State Energy Conservation Office, December 2008, Page 4-17

            • Ivor O’Connor

              You don’t seem to understand that both can be true. It’s sad you don’t but it is a simple enough concept that I can probably get you past this mental block of yours.

              True that wind PTC helps tremendously. Often it is 100% of the profit. However when the wind is selling for 2c/kWh the next to nothing PTC credit looks huge.

              As far as your ignorance about 4c/kWh not being anywhere in the USA. Can’t help you if you can’t bother to search and see that 4c/kWh is the average across our country for the last two to three years. Not being able to do that search is truly mind numbing.

              Go do your homework.

            • Bob_Wallace

              Let me help Joseph out a bit…

              “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

              $40/MWh means $0.04/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC (which lasts only ten years) and it’s $0.051/kWh for a 20 year PPA.

              This is a low number. It’s not just the LCOE of wind. It includes real estate, transmission, taxes and wind farm owner profits. It’s the “delivered to the door” cost of electricity, not just the generation price. Taking all those factors into account the actual average generation cost is probably about 4c/kWh.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Be my guest. I have to step out for a few hours anyways. (I do kind of enjoy beating up on him. It’s sort of addicting.)

            • josephtoomey

              Just an absurd statement.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Joseph writes “The irony of this statement will be utterly lost on ‘green energy’ boosters.” Yes. It is lost on me totally. What are you trying to say?

        • josephtoomey

          Comprehension seems to be a problem with all ‘green energy’ boosters. The obvious irony is that while the passage offers the exorbitant subsidy arrangement as an example of “economic sense,” there is zero economic sense in reality. Requiring low-and middle-income ratepayers to fork over massive wealth transfers so wealthy homeowners in Bavaria who can afford solar panels on their roof can receive 57 euro cents per kilowatt-hour for producing power when conventional power trades on the Leipzig exchange for 6 euro cents is madness on steroids.

          Sorry that is so difficult to understand.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Actually you are wrong again. Electric prices have decreased relative to fossil fuels since the beginning of the energiewende. Most Germans know this and that is why it is universally accepted and any politician who wants to be in office must pay attention. It’s a shame you don’t read, pay for electricity in Germany, or even notice which way the political winds blow.

            • josephtoomey

              Germans pay 3 times more for electricity than I pay in the U.S. Conventional power costs about 7 cents to produce. Solar power costs 6 to 7 times as much. Offshore wind will cost almost as much as solar.

              EEG is accepted because Germans have become climate hysterics and they believe paying hundreds or even thousands of euros per metric ton of CO2 abated is a good deal. They can have it.

              And if those fossil fuels are so expensive, why is Germany building so many lignite plants? Is it so they can drive power prices higher . . . or lower?

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Yes, Germans pay 3 times more. However their disposable income and usage of energy makes the electrical bill less than an Americans. As a percentage of their disposable income.

              Solar and wind is cheaper than anything else now.

              EEG is accepted because it is clean. They were paying even more to subsidize the nuclear industry. They are happy.

            • josephtoomey

              Celebrating the fact that a country pays the second highest electricity rates in the known universe by saying they use less is like boasting about the country where food is the second most expensive so they eat less. They’re happy also – distended bellies and all.

              The scale of willful self-delusion to believe that solar and wind are cheaper than anything else right now is scarcely imaginable. When the country that has the most renewable power in the world also pays nearly the highest costs in the world, only make-believe can account for claims like these. Neighbors in Denmark can explain it to you.

              Luckily for poor Germans, there are major changes in the EEG sure to come. Sadly for those same people, the amount of deadweight on the system already will impair economic progress for decades.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              Danish want to follow Germany’s lead. Actually all of the world is trying to follow Germany’s lead. Winning approaches are emulated. Nuclear and coal are quickly being replaced by NG, Wind, and PV. Once this is done the Wind and PV will then replace NG. (Too bad we can’t do it in just one pass.) Then people like you will have to find other uncompetitive monopolies propped up with old infrastructures to defend.

            • josephtoomey

              I knew there had to be a reason. So that explains why Germany is building 17 coal-fired power plants as these words are being written. And that explains why China now accounts for more than half of global coal consumption, up from 29% in the year 2000. And that explains why China is deploying between 1 and 2 new coal-fired power plants every week. And that explains why China is growing its use of coal consumption by a compound rate of 9.9% over the past 10 years even while its overall growth rate in primary energy is actually less than this number over the same period of time. And that explains why India is growing its use of coal power at a 7% compound rate over the past 10 years. And that explains why developing non-OECD nations are growing their consumption of coal by a compound 7.7% rate over the past 10 years. And that explains why coal, which accounted for only 24.6% of global primary energy in 1973, now accounts for 28.8% as of 2011 data. If this qualifies as “quickly” moving away from coal, I’d hate to debate your definition of slow.

              As a wise observer noted a while ago, ‘green energy’ religionists do fiction, storytelling and method-acting quite well and don’t do analysis, arithmetic or honesty so good. Thanks for the peerless logic.

            • josephtoomey

              Like Galileo, whose observations of celestial mechanics destroyed the authority of the Pope’s infallibility, here’s another thing that helps destroy the ‘green energy’ catechism. In the first decade of the 21st century, the world grew its renewable energy output by 2% but fossil fuels grew by 2.7% over the same years. Renewables are not even keeping pace with fossil fuels let alone replacing them.

              Here’s another heresy. Each year, the amount of global electricity grows by about 450 terawatt-hours. The entire planet’s output of wind energy was only about 437 terawatt-hours in 2012. So forget about replacing fossil fuels with ‘green energy’ as the high priests in the Church of Willful Self-Delusion preach. Just to stay even with global electricity growth, the world needs to increase its wind turbine deployment by an amount equivalent to the entire global fleet each and every year.

              This probably makes me eligible for being burned at the stake in the ‘green energy’ church for my unrelenting pattern of heretical teachings.

            • Ivor O’Connor

              The coal-fired plants have been in the planning for a long time to replace old ones. As you would know if you only casually kept up with the industry.

              China did build lots of coal plants. They now have plans to cut back and go with wind and solar. Wind and solar of which they have been growing at about 30% per year, not in total over 10 years.

              There is no room in the world for coal any longer. If you think so then just compare the growth rates of coal versus the growth rates of RE in that area.

            • josephtoomey

              These comments simply deny the reality. Like it or not, the truth is the truth. Like it or not, renewables are losing out in the relentless expansion of fossil fuel. Like it or not, your commentary is not about reality, but willful self-delusion and wishful thinking.

            • Bob_Wallace

              I hadn’t intended to respond to you any longer, Joseph, but this claim is so very much incorrect that it should not be left standing.

              “Conventional power costs about 7 cents to produce. Solar power costs 6 to 7 times as much.”

              “The cost of large-scale solar projects has fallen by one third in the last five years and big solar now competes with wind energy in the solar-rich south-west of the United States, according to new research.

              The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” – says the cost of solar is still falling and contracts for some solar projects are being struck as low as $50/MWh (including a 30 per cent federal tax credit).”
              “Another interesting observation from LBNL is that most of the contracts written in recent years do not escalate in nominal dollars over the life of the contract. This means that in real dollar terms, the pricing of the contract actually declines.

              This means that towards the end of their contracts, the solar plants (including PV, CSP and CPV) contracted in 2013 will on average will be delivering electricity at less than $40/MWh. This is likely to be considerably less than fossil fuel plants at the same time, given the expected cost of fuels and any environmental regulations.”

              Add back in the subsidy and it’s clear that solar in the SW is producing for less than 10c/kWh. Take those same capex/finex/opex prices to the less sunny NE and the price would be 2-3 cents higher.

            • josephtoomey

              So people in Nevada should be delighted that solar power only costs 5 cents to produce, right? They’ll also be delighted to learn that there won’t be any escalation clauses in these magical contracts you claim exist. They’ll be thrilled when they learn all this since the Crescent Dunes project will be selling utility-scale solar power starting at 13.5 cents and increasing 1% per year for 25 years. Never mind that all-sector electricity prices in Nevada in 2011 were only 8.7 cents. And never mind the average wholesale power price that NV Energy had been paying for sensible, affordable power was only 4 cents. ‘Green energy’ triumphalism means you get to ignore the things you don’t like.

              Of course, willfully deluded ‘green energy’ cheerleaders celebrate the fact that the Crescent Dunes 1% escalation is less than the 3% average rate of increase that electricity prices in Nevada have experienced in recent years. The solar boosters tell Nevadans they should be thankful. But, of course, it was all those wind and solar contracts that Nevada had required utilities in the state to secure that caused the 3% escalation in the first place. NV Energy paid $89.6 million in 2008 for renewable energy at rates that were more than twice the wholesale price it paid for fossil-fuel power. It’s like the guy who steals your wallet and then expects gratitude for giving you a couple of bucks for bus fare to get home. Thanks, I’ll prefer to keep my wallet — and my 4 cent power also.

              There isn’t time or space to recount every solar project. But all of them sell mandated, over-priced, highly subsidized power to utilities that are obligated to buy it. That’s why Californians and Nevadans have experienced some of the fastest residential and all-sector electricity rate growth in the nation are now pay some of the highest residential rates in the nation — and also why those states have unemployment rates that are the highest in the nation. Saying solar “competes in the Southwest” is like saying ethanol competes in the retail gasoline market. Solar “competes” because it is mandated by Renewable Portfolio Standard laws that obligate states to purchase threshold levels. Without those mandates, utility-scale solar would remain a dream of the willfully deluded ‘green energy’ crowd.

              We’ll await the day when solar PV becomes economic. Today, it’s not. We’ll celebrate when that day comes, not because it’s warm and fuzzy but because it’s affordable.