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Solar and Nuclear Costs The Historic Crossover; PV Now Cheaper Than Nuclear in North Carolina

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 07:39 AM
Original message /

Report: Solar power makes more economic sense for N.C.
July 13th, 2010 by John Grooms in Boomer with an Attitude

If you wish North Carolina would hurry up and really support the production of cleaner energy, as opposed to giving lip service and little else, theres hope you now have a former Duke University chancellor, and his enlightening new report, on your side. John O. Blackburn, who besides being chancellor also taught economics at Duke, published a report last week revealing that solar photovoltaic electricity in N.C. is now a little cheaper than new nuclear power, and is getting even cheaper by the day. Blackburns report recommends that the state change its energy policies to reflect these new economic facts.

The report, titled Solar and Nuclear Costs the Historic Crossover, shows that falling prices for producing solar electricity, and rising costs for building new nuclear plants, recently reached a crossover point at around 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh). Read a lengthier account of the report at NC WARNs website, which also offers a link to the complete report.

Blackburn says the crossover is a watershed moment which makes it clear that N.C.s energy costs will rise less with an increased use of solar photovoltaic energy than with new nukes. Blackburns report shows that commercial solar companies are offering electricity to Duke Energy and Progress Energy for 14 cents or less per kwh. The utilities, however, are rejecting or severely limiting the offers, while pressing forward with their plans for new nuclear plants, which would create electricity at a cost of 14-18 cents per kwh, according to the report.

Blackburn called on state government to get behind the solar industry, saying it could bring thousands of manufacturing and installation jobs to N.C. The problem, said Blackburn, is that the states utilities are obstructing state support for solar, putting us behind at least 20 other states that are embracing the solar industry. Its an interesting report that should be required reading of every lawmaker and governor in the nation, not just N.C. legislators and Gov. Perdue.


Solar PV Now Cheaper Than Nuclear Power in North Carolina, Report Says
Submitted by Editor on Mon, 07/12/2010 - 1:49am
Published July 12, 2010

A former Duke University chancellor and economics professor has published a report saying that solar electricity in North Carolina is now slightly cheaper than new nuclear power and that the state should change its energy strategy.

By the time any new nuclear power plants could be built, solar energy will be far less expensive, says John O. Blackburn, a retired professor who was a member of the university's faculty from 1959 to 1980 and is a former chair of the economics department.


Solar and Nuclear Costs The Historic Crossover
Solar Energy is Now the Better Buy
By Dr. John O. Blackburn and Sam Cunningham

News Release 7-8-10

Full Report

Letter to Governor Perdue


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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 09:30 AM
Response to Original message
1. kick
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. How many cents/kwh is solar now at 2am in the morning?
Absent that, then the "report" referenced here... even if true (and it isn't), isn't worth much.

It compares apples to oranges.
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BrightKnight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 07:05 PM
Response to Original message
3. Bullshit -The largest PV farm is 60MW. What would a 20 GW solar array cost?
Edited on Thu Jul-15-10 07:23 PM by BrightKnight
What would it cost sized up to offset the actual power generated by a Nuclear plant when the sun is not at its peak.

The largest PV farm in the world is only 60MW at best during the day. That is only a insignificant fraction of what a single nuclear plant is able to provides 24 hours a day.

There are no plans anywhere in the world to build a PV farm anywhere near the size of a single nuclear reactor. The planet will be toast before anything like that happens in the real world.

Household PV is a great supplemental power but it is very far from the whole answer.

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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-17-10 08:38 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Here's the way it's done.
Transcript: Bernie Sanders (sustainable energy and the economy), Jun 02 2006


{Thom Hartmann} Did I tell you, pardon my interrupting, Bernie. Did I tell you the story of my trip to Germany and the solar thing?

{Bernie Sanders} Tell me it again.

{Thom Hartmann} It's quick, and it's worth, I used to live in Germany. I go back there at least once a year, and have for 25 years and I was there in November. And taking the train, it's a 5 hour train ride east to west to this little town Stadtsteinach where I used to live, and looking north at the south side of houses, I saw, for the fist time, I hadn't seen a year before, about every third house had their roof covered with solar panels. I get to Stadtsteinach and my friend Samuel Mller, whom I'm staying with, he's got this huge solar array on his house. And I'm like, 'Samuel, what's the deal here?' Well, what they did was, the government passed a law that says that the bank has to, they're guaranteed by the government, of course, but they have to offer a mortgage, a ten year mortgage, on installation of solar power. And if you put solar panels on your house, the power company has to buy the electricity back at 8 times market rate. Now, 8 times market rate is about what it would cost if the power company was going to build a new nuclear reactor or a new coal-fired reactor. In other words, this is the investment part of building a new plant. So they're investing in power infrastructure and at the end of 10 years the power company then has to buy it back at one time, in other words, at parity. But for the 10, and so Samuel is making about $100 a month in profit on the electricity that he's selling to the power company after he's paid the mortgage. So at the end of 10 years he's going to completely own this, the solar system, it's enough to power his house and provide power to the community, and it was all done by this kind of public private partnership. In other words, no government dollars are being involved in this thing and there's just this explosion of solar power all across Germany and they don't have to build more power plants because every home has become a power plant.


See also:

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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-17-10 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Hartmann is, alas, wrong
It's not so much Hartmann's fault as it is the fault of a harsh energy reality. In just two years since that exchange, Germany discovered that solar and wind energy do NOT cover their needs sufficiently, and the industries are not self-sufficient. The German feed-in tariffs are declining significantly, and when production subsidy renewals are late, these industries throttle down.

Since the government is still dominated by nuke-phobes like Sigmar Gabriel (called "Siggi Pop" because of his high-profile schmoozing with pop musicians), the Germans have turned to coal -- "bigtime". (Siggi was enthusiastic for biofuel for a time, but that plan came a-cropper.)

Spiegel did a large issue on it two years ago. Here's its tag line:

Where Will Germany's Energy Come From?

Nuclear power is too dangerous. Coal is too dirty. Gas involves too much dependence on Russia. And renewables are insufficient. So just where is Germany going to get its power from?

It's more accurate to say "Nuclear power is too scary to too many people". A half a million people around the world die prematurely each year as a result of coal combustion for energy, but it's the nuclear power plants that are scary. Professional anti-nuke Benjamin Sovacool estimates that somewhat more than 4000 people have died as a result of Chernobyl (the cite is in the study the OP links to) in the same period in which coal has taken 10-15 million lives.

This inversion of reality is so absurd, it makes anti-vaxers look scientifically literate. But in order to avoid offending the anti-nuclear political faction, coal will be used in Germany. And elsewhere -- a LOT of elsewheres.

Germany has actually reversed its anti-nuclear policy in the past two years. Their Nuclear Exit Law requiring the end of nuclear energy by 2020 has been put on hold if not formally ended. (I don't read German well enough to follow the details of recent debate.) But this new energy policy faces a political obstacle course.

Of course, Germany will still produce solar panels and wind turbines, a good move in any energy regime. But they are no longer purists. Certainly not, if they intend to promote coal the way they are.

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Liberation Angel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. Naysayers misrepresent the point: Big plants are no longer economically sound
nor are they necessary.

A combination of renewables does the trick, stores the power, feeds the grid (or keeps one off grid) - and is collectively safer, more efficient, and less expensive.

Local grids will negate the theoretical need for huge plants of any sort.

It is all a matter of putting into place the renewable technologies and of stopping subsidies for nuclear and coal and oil so that the investment of public funds (and hence more jobs) can be possible.

At this point only industry shills could possibly support nukes, oil and coal as the future for energy. ONLY those who stand to benefit could, in my opinion, possibly not see that this is the best and most economical and wisest set of options. Renewables solve nearly all the problems facing us in this arena.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-15-10 10:31 PM
Response to Original message
5. Thanks for posting this. K&R
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