Fully renewable electricity could be competitive

Apr 03, 2013
Fully renewable electricity could be competitive
Gemasolar, a concentrated solar power plant in Spain.

(Phys.org) —A carbon price of between $50 and $100 per tonne of carbon dioxide would make coal-fired and gas-fired power less economical than renewable electricity, a UNSW study shows.

Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf, of the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW, said all fossil-fuelled power stations in Australia's National Electricity Market could be phased out and replaced economically and reliably with commercially available by increasing the to this "medium" level.

"This carbon price range is considerably less than Treasury estimates for measures that would achieve far less in terms of cutting ," he said.

The results of the peer-reviewed study by an interdisciplinary team at UNSW are to be published in the journal Energy Policy. The researchers are Dr Diesendorf, Ben Elliston, of the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, and Dr Iain MacGill of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets.

To obtain their results, the team performed thousands of using actual hourly data on and matching this with hourly input from solar and wind power for the year 2010.

The simulations compared the optimal economics of a 100 per cent system with that of a hypothetical, new replacement, conventional system based on the more efficient coal and gas-fired power stations than are in use today in Australia.

All the technologies, both renewable and fossil, used in the simulations are commercially available now.

The researchers used the conservative technology costs projected to 2030 by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.

"We found that the minimum 2030 costs of the reliable renewable energy system were achieved with a large contribution from wind power: from 46 to 59 per cent of annual electricity generation," said PhD candidate and lead author, Ben Elliston.

"Solar photovoltaic, and concentrated solar thermal electricity with thermal storage, were equal second in their contributions to annual electricity generation - typically 15 to 20 per cent each. Existing hydro and gas turbines burning biofuels made small but vital contributions by filling gaps in wind and solar generation."

Dr Diesendorf said the comparison of the renewable energy system with a so-called efficient system of coal and gas-fired power stations was done to get a feeling for the relative costs involved.

"The efficient fossil-fuelled system is of course completely unacceptable in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, as its emissions are only 19 per cent less than those of the existing polluting fossil-fuelled system, while the renewable energy system has zero emissions and uses much less water," he said.

"Despite the fact that most of the in our scenarios comes from the fluctuating sources of wind and solar photovoltaic, the least-cost renewable energy systems as a whole were just as reliable as conventional systems.

"There is no need for any inflexible base-load power stations. We can balance fluctuating renewable energy sources with flexible power stations, such as hydro, gas turbines and concentrated solar thermal power with thermal storage," he said.

Explore further: Japan gov't calls on citizens to stockpile toilet paper

More information: www.ies.unsw.edu.au/sites/all/… ariosInPress2013.pdf

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plaasjaapie
2.6 / 5 (15) Apr 03, 2013
What is the difference between a carbon tax and an outright subsidy for "green" technologies?

antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (15) Apr 03, 2013
What is the difference between a carbon tax and an outright subsidy for "green" technologies?

The difference is that a carbon tax makes those who cause damage pay for it - while a subsidy for green technologies artificially distorts the market (though all the old power generating technologies are currently heavily subsidized - so it would only be fair to level the plaing field a bit)
gblaze41
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
"could be phased out and replaced economically and reliably with commercially available renewable energy technologies by increasing the carbon price to this "medium" level."

So the only way renewables can be competitive is to make fossil fuels so costly by taxing?! Doesn't make sense at all.
MR166
2.3 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2013
"(though all the old power generating technologies are currently heavily subsidized - so it would only be fair to level the plaing field a bit)"

OK, I'll bite-----how are today's coal and gas power plants subsidized?
antialias_physorg
3.2 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2013

OK, I'll bite-----how are today's coal and gas power plants subsidized?

Here's a quick number:
http://en.wikiped...ubsidies

Quote:
"In the United States, the federal government has paid US$74 billion for energy subsidies to support R&D for nuclear power ($50 billion) and fossil fuels ($24 billion) from 1973 to 2003. During this same timeframe, renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency received a total of US$26 billion."


Federal subsidies for coal include (but are not limited to)
- tax breaks and exemptions
- low-interest loans
- loan guarantees
- loan forgiveness
- grants
- lost government revenue such as discounted royalty fees to mine federal lands
- federally-subsidized external costs, such as health care expenses and environmental clean-up
- exploration and development of coal deposits

Oil is subsidized e.g. for farmers or such programs as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (and all of the above, too).
gblaze41
4 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013

Oil is subsidized e.g. for farmers or such programs as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (and all of the above, too).

Everything you mentioned, ie. tax breaks, etc. almost all other industries get as well. in fact Oil is one of the most taxed industries in the country.

See here for clearer information;

http://online.wsj...j_gadgv1
ScooterG
2.5 / 5 (16) Apr 03, 2013
"by increasing the carbon price to this "medium" level."

Any business can be forced out of business by heaping operational costs on them. Any person with half a brain would intuitively know this.

The author of the study - a highly-educated "associate professor" - had to study the concept before he came to that realization.

LMAO - and the AGW/green energy idiocy saga continues unabated...
MR166
1.6 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2013
From 73 to say 2000 there was no solar or wind industry to support. If you include renewable funding in the last 15 years the picture will look a lot different. As far as fossil fuel tax breaks go, the oil, gas and coal industries probably pay more taxes into the government than any other sector vs Apple, Google and GE that pay virtually no income taxes.

If you want to take a serious look at tax breaks just look at our "Non Profit" universities. They don't even pay local real estate taxes let alone income taxes. Plus that they are the sole beneficiaries of the federal tax credits and student loans that enable students to pay 4 years starting pay to get an education vs 1 year in the 70s!
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2013
This doesn't work because energy companies have oligopoly or monopoly. They will not change their practices, but will simply raise their prices. Since residents and businesses have no choice, they will be forced to pay the higher price, which means the end users who have no choice will be the ones punished.

This is equivalent to an additional $1.25 per gallon to $2.00 per gallon tax on gasoline.

This is the wrong thing to do and will most likely ultimately cause a riot when people see their electric bills go up by obscene amounts.

The more you tax people on existing systems the less funds they have to make a switch to the new systems you want to promote.

Also, the biofuels are provably DIRTIER than the oil or coal, because you are not properly considering all thermodynamic losses nor mineral losses, which must constantly be replaced over the long term, such as phosphorus.

Where are the electric motors for semi trucks? What moron would tax $2.00 per gallon on semi trucks fuel?!
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
If you want to take a serious look at tax breaks just look at our "Non Profit" universities.

How is that pertinent to the issue?

No one claims that there are no tax breaks in existance. But to claim that coal, nuclear and oil aren't heavily subsidized (and have been throughout their use) is just ridiculous. Especially in the early years subsidies abound. Why not grant alternative energy sources the same during their start-up years?

It is rather frightening that such age-old energy forms as coal, oil and nuclear STILL need to be so heavily subsidized to be competitive.
MR166
2.2 / 5 (13) Apr 03, 2013
"It is rather frightening that such age-old energy forms as coal, oil and nuclear STILL need to be so heavily subsidized to be competitive."

I am at a disadvantage here because I was never taught the new math. How can the largest payer of income taxes in the nation be considered to be "subsidized"?

The fossil energy industry is the one industry on which every other is based and to add a CO2 tax would kill every aspect of our economy. It is like spraying agent orange on your entire lawn to kill a few weeds.
EverythingsJustATheory
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013

I am at a disadvantage here because I was never taught the new math. How can the largest payer of income taxes in the nation be considered to be "subsidized"?


What the hell are you talking about?

Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over a period of three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.
dschlink
3 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
What is the difference between a carbon tax and an outright subsidy for "green" technologies?

The difference is that a carbon tax makes those who cause damage pay for it - while a subsidy for green technologies artificially distorts the market (though all the old power generating technologies are currently heavily subsidized - so it would only be fair to level the plaing field a bit)


A tax on carbon is more money in the hands of the bureaucrats. A subsidy for "green" tech is more money in the pockets of the greenies (after the bureaucrats take a cut).
Roland
not rated yet Apr 03, 2013
Demand for CO2 in oil extraction means this is getting close:
http://www.bloomb...co2.html
"CO2 costs about $35 per metric ton in west Texas, and drillers recycle it as many times as possible to dislodge more oil."
DavidW
1.6 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Taxes on the lottery ... Pays for the schools.
Taxes on cigarettes ... Pays for the fire department.

We now depend on addiction to pay for our basic services in many places. It's all blood money. The taxes on oil are no different.
EverythingsJustATheory
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2013
Taxes on the lottery ... Pays for the schools.
Taxes on cigarettes ... Pays for the fire department.


Kinda makes sense. Hopefully the schools will teach the kids just how stupid it is to play the lottery, with most states paying out only about 40% of what they take in.

And smokers do cause a lot of fires when they fall asleep with burning cigarettes in their hands.
Valentiinro
1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
Taxes on the lottery ... Pays for the schools.
Taxes on cigarettes ... Pays for the fire department.

We now depend on addiction to pay for our basic services in many places. It's all blood money. The taxes on oil are no different.


For many things they calculate the financial damage caused, and make that a tax on the product causing the damage. You say blood money, I say total cost of a product included in its purchase price.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
Everything you mentioned, ie. tax breaks, etc. almost all other industries get as well. in fact Oil is one of the most taxed industries in the country.
Is the oil industry repaying the $5trillion spent on the most recent Iraq oil war?
kochevnik
1 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2013
Sorry gblaze41 the facts threaten your parasitic livelihood
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
For many things they calculate the financial damage caused, and make that a tax on the product causing the damage. You say blood money, I say total cost of a product included in its purchase price.


That's nowhere near true, dimwhit.

Second hand smoke causes so many illnesses and cancers, which are NOT the fault of the VICTIM, and the VICTIM eventually pays the bill from their own money or their own insurance.

Smoking should be a crime, punishable by both penalty fine and lawsuits for the victims of second hand smoke.

Also, the taxes on cigarettes which a typical smoker smokes in their life do not cover the smoking related medical costs they are likely to incur in their lifetime. One heart attack or lung cancer diagnosis far more than eats up the entire revenues of the cigarette sales prices. The taxes are much less than the entire sale price.

It is not fair nor moral to keep allowing abusers to hurt others for their drugs, only to pay them blood money afterwards.
Lurker2358
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Is the oil industry repaying the $5trillion spent on the most recent Iraq oil war?


Technically, Iraq and Afghanistan's citizens should be paying for the way. After all, we "Liberated" them from the tyrannical regimes previously in control of those nations. The debt is theirs.

A small reprisal, like 10% of their GDP until the debt is paid off, would be prudent.

We should have had some "regime change" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well.
kochevnik
1.1 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
Technically, Iraq and Afghanistan's citizens should be paying for the way. After all, we "Liberated" them from the tyrannical regimes previously in control of those nations. The debt is theirs.
True. However since they did not agree to the sponsorship, they are technically off the hook. Wise leaders would indebt the conquered countries, but Bush is a drooling idiot who couldn't even run his savings and loans. Economic crisis follow that monkey around like flies to manure trucks
Smoking should be a crime, punishable by both penalty fine and lawsuits for the victims of second hand smoke.
Yes it is a public tort and victims should seek remedies from the thoughtless. Unfortunately there is so much "shock and awe" people seem bewildered even where to begin recuperating injuries from auto and coal pollution, BP's ecoterrorism and Monsanto's biowarfare
gblaze41
3 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
Sorry gblaze41 the facts threaten your parasitic livelihood


You little *&^%, I am not a socialist in anyway. How dare you lump me in with those losers!!!
NorthernPiker
not rated yet Apr 03, 2013
Lurker, the combustion of a gallon of gasoline produces 19.4 lb of CO2, or 0.88% of a tonne (2,200 lb.); for a gallon of diesel, the numbers are 22.2 lb., or 1.01% of a tonne.

So, for a $50 / tonne CO2 tax, the effective tax per gallon is 44 and 50 cents for gasoline and diesel, respectively.

If you include an additional 25% or so for upstream emissions, the numbers are still far short of $1.50.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
Sorry gblaze41 the facts threaten your parasitic livelihood


You little *&^%, I am not a socialist in anyway. How dare you lump me in with those losers!!!
LOL you're a corporate socialist in EVERY way. You dream about artificial persons in your sleep and fantasize about being too big to fail
dabbler
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
Ah only in a pro-socialistic notion environment could such a moronic concept and scheme be considered a bright idea as in lightbulb-in-noggin bright... I knew some folks from down under had serious mental imbalance issues but this takes things onto a whole other avenue. Jim Jefferies could spin a yarn on green energy or renewable productions and make it sound less laughable and more plausible and he is a standup comic from Australia. Get rid of government pet-project green energy subsidy funding for interests who donate and vote favorably to specific regimes, get rid of overhead taxing and nonsense restrictions to new methodology and innovation producers in any energy production field and finally but foremost get rid of idiots like Obama and Al Gore Jr. etc and then you might have a real solid base to even dream of placing a framework for realistic renewable energy source implementation, deployment and integration.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
STILL need to be so heavily subsidized to be competitive.

HOW?
The oil industry has no 'subsidy' that is not grantend any other industy/
Also, govts are addicted to the taxes created by the oil industry.
Fuel taxes pay for roads. Profits are taxes and oil companies pay govts royalties for the oil pumped AND they pay for leases to drill.
What does Europe do with the taxes on fuel? What will they tax if they don't have gasoline and diesel to tax?
kochevnik
1 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
Ah only in a pro-socialistic notion environment could such a...
Get rid of big energy and big government and big conservaturd oil war subsidies for corporate psychos. Sounds like a big win for everyone!
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
"The congressman has inadvertently called attention to the fact that those special tax breaks just for the oil and gas industry don't exist. "
"Mr. Van Hollen's ''Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act" would raise taxes on individuals—what he calls the "Fair Share on High-Income Taxpayers"—and effectively hike taxes on the oil and gas industry by changing the way their taxes are calculated. The problem with the bill is that the so-called tax breaks the industry would lose are not specific to oil and gas at all. They are widely available to lots of industries."
"USA Today just published the top-10 list of companies that paid the highest U.S. income taxes as of 2012, and oil industry companies took three of the slots. Number one was Exxon Mobil XOM -0.72% at $31 billion, followed by Chevron CVX -1.03% at $20 billion, and sixth was ConocoPhillips COP -1.27% at $8 billion. "http://online.wsj..._LEADTop
Waaalt
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
The difference is that a carbon tax makes those who cause damage pay for it -


No, a 'carbon tax' makes people pay for CO2 emissions in some cases.

CO2 is not at all synonymous with environmental damage. Reducing CO2 emissions is not at all synonymous with improving the environment.

A carbon tax will result in tropical land being cleared to grow biofuel. No proposed carbon tax accounts for this, and this exact problem has been happening in Brazil and Indonesia for years now already because of already existing biofuel incentives.

They are releasing centuries worth of C02 by burning down tropical rainforests to be converted into farmland to grow biofuel. The accounting completely ignores the CO2 released in the land conversion.

They ignore this because all proposed carbon taxes have been and will continue to be scams created by banks and corporate agriculture. If you care about the environment, you MUST oppose carbon taxes for the foreseeable future.
hangman04
1 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2013
I would like to see a study that shows the cost of each source of energy once you strip down any form of subsidy or government help.

Imo this is what matters otherwise it doesn't matter if coal is cheaper when we, the consumers, give money to that industry directly through the energy bills and indirectly through government involvement (subsidies, tax deductions, etc).
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2013
I would like to see a study that shows the cost of each source of energy once you strip down any form of subsidy or government help.

You can google for the IPCCC report

But think about it: If you're holding a gun to your own head and about to pull the trigger and someone tells you "we'll replace the bullet with a Nerf dart"
Are you seriously going to not do it because "but it's 5% more expensive!"
Eikka
1 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2013
If you're holding a gun to your own head and about to pull the trigger and someone tells you "we'll replace the bullet with a Nerf dart


Good analogy, because even a blank round pressed against your head will be lethal. Replacing the bullet with a nerf dart would just be more costly and not change a thing.