This post quantifies the actual, but limited scale of progress that has been made by Green-oriented thinking to influence electricity generation.
Progress with Renewable achievements is limited in spite of the massive heavily subsidised investments, administrative and legal commitments made by Western governments in their efforts to avert “Climate Change”.
This overview of six key nations apparently involved in attempting to transition to Green energy with proportional graphics actually show the minimal impact of Weather Dependent and Green mandated Renewables on Energy generation in six key Nations involved in Renewable transition.
In addition it also shows the proportions of capital cost and long-term cost commitment already made for the current installations of Weather Dependent Renewables.
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
This post provides graphical presentations of the current (2016) status of electricity generation technologies in use in six Nations. All these nations are ostensibly in the process of converting their electrical energy generation towards Weather Dependent Renewables. In summary they show:
- The continuing high dependency on coal for generation particularly in Germany, India and China.
- The limited penetration of actual electricity production from Weather Dependent Renewables achieved in the USA, China, India and even France.
- The extent of the effective use of Nuclear power in France, which now has resulted in CO2 emissions/head lower than the Global average.
- The remarkable take-up of fracking for Natural Gas in the USA which has resulted in:
- the lowest electricity prices in the developed world
- and a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions this millennium.
- It should be noted that India with CO2 emissions of ~ 1.7 tonnes per head represents the status of the remainder of the underdeveloped world amounting in total to about 55% of the world’s population. These underdeveloped nations will be seeking to advance the well-being of their populations by the provision of reliable electricity supplies.
- The committed long-term cost of Renewables, which substantially displaces resources for essential, dispatchable and base-load generation particularly in Germany and the UK.
Generation Technolgies considered
Special cost consideration is given to the value of Wind Power in Germany and the UK because of their relatively heavy commitment of offshore wind power.
These slides are based on four main comparative parameters:
- Actual electricity production achieved measured in Gigawatt hours. This measure is independent of the usefulness of the energy output achieved and takes no account of:
- the low capacity factors characteristic of Weather Dependent Renewables
- the inherent intermittency and non-dispatchablity of their power production.
- The actual size of the various types of generation installations measured in Gigawatts as at 2016.
- Comparative estimates of capital costs of the derived from the “Overnight Capital Costs” of different forms of generation, as published in 2016 by the US EIA, (Energy Information Administration).
- Comparative estimates of long–term (60 year) costs for both variable costs (including fuel) and fixed costs combined with estimated of the capital replacement costs according to the longevity of each generation technology and its replacement rate over 60 years, (Nuclear energy is assumed to be viable for 60 years).
- For comparative costings this presentation uses data from the US EIA. See later.
Aggregated Graphics for the Six Nations
The particular cases of Germany and the United Kingdom
Germany and the UK have made the most extensive commitments Renewables worldwide.
It is instructive to see how much those commitments produce in terms of power output and to compare that output with the implications in terms of future costs to maintaining the current, let alone for future, installations of Renewables.
The proportions of committed future costs to Renewables already are:
- United Kingdom 43%
- Germany 55%
Thus even the current level of installations of Weather Dependent Renewables has substantially displaced the future resource available to provide conventional, reliable, dispatchable power in these nations by the installation support commitments that have already been made.
A similar comparison between Germany and the USA shows that the USA has more than twice the long-term resources available for reliable conventional generation.
Three sets of comparative tables are shown here:
- the profiles of the Six individual Nations
- the comparative status for each of the 4 parameters
- the comparative status per head of population
The profiles of the Six individual Nations
The comparative status for each of the 4 parameters
The comparative status per head of population
US EIA cost comparisons for electricity generation technologies 2016
These costs show significantly lower costs for Renewable Energy than published in earlier years. Using the following assumptions:
- the US EIA levellised cost data is adjusted for current gas prices in 2016
- that the US$ and the Euro (€) provide roughly equivalent value in their respective continents.
- as far as comparisons are concerned fossil fuel costs are expected to remain low and competitive for the foreseeable future, as the use of fracking technologies spread globally.
- the assumption that the capital cost of a 1GW gas fired plant running with ~87% capacity / load factor is about €1.1 billion, €1,100,000,000 / Gigawatt.
- that all market distorting mechanisms instituted by Governments are eliminated and the simple raw cost data is used for comparative purposes.
- The US EIA figures show a significant reduction in the costs of Weather Dependent Renewables from their previous analysis in 2013.
When any subsidies and support mechanisms for Renewables are eliminated, the capital and longterm costs of Weather Dependent Renewables still substantially exceed the costs of conventional Gas firing for electricity generation.
The resulting comparative values expressed as $ – € / Gigawatt are shown below: