Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New paper claims wind & solar energy are now cheaper than fossil fuels

A paper published today in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences concludes that wind & solar energy have suddenly become cheaper to use than fossil fuels. Was this finding based on breakthroughs in renewable energy technology? No, no, au contraire! It's based instead upon the Obama administration's "social cost of carbon" trick, which pulls numbers out of the air to grossly inflate the alleged economic benefits from renewable energy.

Here's how the trick is done:

1. Use scary scenarios output from unvalidated climate models, which have been falsified at a confidence level of >98% over the past 15 years, and falsified at a confidence level of 90% over the past 20 years

2. Feed those exaggerated outputs into unvalidated impact models to produce even more highly-exaggerated economic impacts

3. Even though the models predict a decrease in cyclone & hurricane activity, disregard and say there will be greater economic damage from storm activity. Even though the IPCC SREX Report and peer-reviewed literature find no evidence that AGW increases extreme weather, disregard and claim all disaster-related expenses are man-made due to the "social cost of carbon."

4. Arbitrarily inflate the government's "social cost of carbon" figure from $0 to $21 to now $36/ton, using cover from bogus "science" such as the paper below, and by slipping it unnoticed and without debate into a bill on efficiency standards for microwave ovens.

5. BINGO! Wind & solar are now "saving" billions over use of fossil fuels.

WSJ.COM 6/28/13: President Obama unveiled his vast new anticarbon-energy agenda this week, which he plans to impose by executive fiat. Crucial to pulling off this exercise is a decision the federal bureaucracy made last month to change the way it accounts for carbon emissions—a decision that received almost no media attention.

In late May the Administration slipped this mickey into a new rule about efficiency standards for microwaves, significantly raising what it calls the "social cost of carbon." Team Obama made no public notice and invited no comment on this change that will further tilt rule-making against products and industries that use carbon energy.

Federal law requires the government to calculate the costs and benefits of its rules and projects. The regulatory agencies are expert at rigging these calculations, but even they haven't been able to hide the enormous costs of President Obama's regulations under traditional economic measurement. The Administration's solution? Simply redefine the economic and social "benefits" of reducing carbon.

And sure enough, in 2010 an interagency working group conjured a new way to goose the benefits of regulation. Every metric ton of carbon that was reduced by regulation would suddenly count for $21 in "social benefits." This figure was derived by guesses about how more carbon in the atmosphere may harm everything from agricultural productivity to human health to flood risks. The government's previous official estimate? $0.

The Administration has now gone further as part of its microwave rule and raised its estimated benefit from carbon reduction to about $36 a metric ton.
The Department of Energy explained that this "update" was the result of new assumptions based on "the best available science," which means whatever science the feds decide to favor. The practical effect is to further inflate the supposed benefit of new rules, thereby offsetting the enormous economic costs.

Claim: Clean Energy Least Costly to Power America's Electricity Needs

Sep. 17, 2013 — Findings show carbon pollution from power plants can be cut cost-effectively by using wind, solar and natural gas

It's less costly to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are factored in, according to a new study published in Springer's Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

In fact -- using the official U.S. government estimates of health and environmental costs from burning fossil fuels -- the study shows it's cheaper to replace a typical existing coal-fired power plant with a wind turbine than to keep the old plant running. And new electricity generation from wind could be more economically efficient than natural gas.

The findings show the nation can cut carbon pollution from power plants in a cost-effective way, by replacing coal-fired generation with cleaner options like wind, solar, and natural gas.

"Burning coal is a very costly way to make electricity. There are more efficient and sustainable ways to get power," said Dr. Laurie Johnson, chief economist in the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We can reduce health and climate change costs while reducing the dangerous carbon pollution driving global warming."

Johnson co-authored the study, "The Social Cost of Carbon: Implications for Modernizing our Electricity System," with Chris Hope of the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge; and Starla Yeh in NRDC's Center for Market Innovation. Power plants are the nation's single largest source of such pollution, accounting for 40 percent of our national carbon footprint.

"And yet, there are no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants may release," said Johnson. "That's wrong. It doesn't make sense. It's putting our future at risk. We limit the amount of mercury, arsenic, soot, and other harmful pollution from these plants. It's time to cut this carbon pollution."

President Obama has vowed to do that, using his authority under the Clean Air Act to set the first federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants may release. Critics claim that could raise costs. But, in fact, it can reduce the total cost of electricity generation, the new study finds.

Carbon pollution imposes economic costs by damaging public health and driving destructive climate change. Working together, the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Treasury Department, the Department of Energy and eight other federal agencies put a dollar value on those damages, in an official figure called the "social cost of carbon" (SCC).

The SCC is used to calculate the benefits (i.e., avoided climate damages) of carbon pollution reduction. The administration puts the best estimate at $33 per ton of carbon pollution emitted in 2010.

"Already, climate change is contributing to record heat waves, floods, drought, wildfires and severe storms," Johnson said. Such extreme weather caused more than $140 billion in damages in 2012. American taxpayers picked up nearly $100 billion of those costs, according to an NRDC report released in May, 2013.

"These damages are only likely to increase if nothing is done to reduce carbon pollution," concluded Johnson.

Journal Reference:
  1. Laurie T. Johnson, Starla Yeh, Chris Hope. The social cost of carbon: implications for modernizing our electricity systemJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s13412-013-0149-5

The social cost of carbon: implications for modernizing our electricity system


The US government must use an official estimate of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) to estimate carbon emission reduction benefits for proposed environmental standards expected to reduce CO2 emissions. The SCC is a monetized value of the marginal benefit of reducing one metric ton of CO2. Estimates of the SCC vary widely. The US government uses values of 11,33, and $52 per metric ton of CO2, classifying the middle value as the central figure and the two others for use in sensitivity analyses. Three other estimates using the same government model but lower discount rates put the figures at 62,122, and $266/ton. In this article, we calculate, on a cents-per-kilowatt-hour basis, the environmental cost of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generation and add it to production costs. With this, we compare the total social cost (generation plus environmental costs) of building new generation from traditional fossil fuels versus cleaner technologies. We also examine the cost of replacing existing coal generation with cleaner options, ranging from conventional natural gas to solar photovoltaic. We find that for most SCC values, it is more economically efficient (from a social cost–benefit perspective) for the new generation to come from any of these cleaner sources rather than conventional coal, and in several instances, the cleanest sources are preferable to conventional natural gas. For existing generation, for five of the six SCC estimates we examined, replacing the average existing coal plant with conventional natural gas, natural gas with carbon capture and storage, or wind increases economic efficiency. At the two highest SCCs, solar photovoltaic and coal with carbon capture and storage are also more efficient than maintaining a typical coal plant.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.cato.org/blog/further-look-social-cost-carbon