Nuclear Power Subsidies Threaten Wind and Solar Power… Proof That Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

NukeLifeline

The push to save U.S. nuclear plants for the sake of fighting climate change is threatening support for the bread and butter of clean power: wind and solar.

New York and Illinois have already approved as much as $10 billion in subsidies to keep struggling reactors open for the next decade as part of a plan to limit fossil fuel consumption. Lawmakers in Ohio, Connecticut and New Jersey are debatingwhether to do the same.

The reactors, which are being squeezed by low natural gas prices, offer a singular advantage in the fight against global warming because they produce round-the-clock electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. Yet renewable energy operators including NRG Energy Inc. and Invenergy LLC say keeping nuclear plants open will leave grids awash with excess power, leaving little demand for new wind and solar farms.

“It’s the wrong policy — and whether it proliferates or not is going to be a really big factor,” Invenergy Chief Operating Officer Jim Murphy said during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York Monday.

[…]

Bloomberg

“Renewable energy operators say keeping nuclear plants open will leave grids awash with excess power, leaving little demand for new wind and solar farms.”

Keeping the “grids awash with excess power” is the only way to handle bellwether events without having to rely on brownouts and blackouts.  Solar and wind can neither provide base-load nor flexible response to bellwether events.  Increasing reliance on renewables makes it imperative that we keep the “grids awash with excess power.”

There appears to be a lot of whining about subsidies for nuclear power… With the renewables crowd doing all of the whining:

[…]

Nuclear’s economic woes comes as wind and solar are starting to show they’re cheap enough to compete with traditional generators, after years of help from subsidies. The push to aid reactors began last year after Exelon Corp. successfully argued in New York and Illinois that since nuclear does not contribute to global warming, its plants should receive a premium to help level the playing field with wind and solar.

“The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution,” Joseph Dominguez, an Exelon executive vice president, said in an interview. “We sell electricity without air pollution — and that’s a different product.”

There are key differences between wind and solar subsidies and those for nuclear, according to clean-energy developers. Renewable energy credits have spurred an emerging industry, whereas nuclear subsidies are to preserve aging plants. And while wind and solar developers compete against each other for subsidies, those for nuclear benefit a single technology.

Market Rules

“The renewables industry has been playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices,” Amy Francetic, an Invenergy senior vice president, said in an interview. “This is picking and winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”

[…]

“The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution,” Joseph Dominguez, an Exelon executive vice president, said in an interview. “We sell electricity without air pollution — and that’s a different product.”

Nuclear power absolutely is the leader of the pack at reducing so-called “greenhouse” gas emissions:

252491_5_

Figure 1. Nuclear and gas kick @$$, wind breaks even and solar is a loser. http://www.realclearenergy.org/charticles/2014/08/01/solar_and_wind_more_expensive_than_realized_107939.html

If reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important, nuclear power is the obvious answer.  If reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a reasonable cost is important, natural gas is the obvious answer.  If treading water is important, wind is the obvious answer.  If failure is important, solar is the obvious answer.  So, Mr. Dominguez is generally correct.

“The renewables industry has been playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices,” Amy Francetic, an Invenergy senior vice president, said in an interview. “This is picking and winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”

Really?  Ms. Francetic, *government* always picks “winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”

As far as the renewables industry “playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices”…

Evidence of variability of atmospheric CO2 concentration during the 20th century
Geo-Ecological Seminar University of Bayreuth, 17th July 2008 (see here)
Ernst-Georg Beck, Dipl. Biol Summary of the presentation (printable PDF available here)

In 1958 the modern NDIR spectroscopic method was introduced to measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere [Beck 2007]. In the preceding period, these measurements were taken with the old wet chemical method. From this period, starting from 1857, more than 90,000 reliable CO2 measurements are available, with an accuracy within ± 3 %. They had been taken near ground level, sea surface and as high as the stratosphere, mostly in the northern hemisphere. Comparison of these measurements on the basis of old wet chemical methods with the new physical method (NDIR) on sea and land reveals a systematic analysis difference of about minus 10 ppm.

Wet chemical analyses indicate three atmospheric CO2 maxima in the northern hemisphere up to approx. 400 ppm over land and sea since about 1812. The measured atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1920 –1950 prove to be strongly correlated (more than 80 %) with the arctic sea surface temperature (SST).

A detailed analysis of the Atlantic Ocean water during the arctic warming since 1918 – 1939 by Wattenberg (southern Atlantic ocean) and Buch (northern Atlantic ocean) indicates a very similar state of the Atlantic Ocean (pH, salinity, CO2 in water and air over sea etc.) These data show the characteristics of the warm ocean currents (part of global conveyor belt) at that time, indicating a strong CO2 degassing from the Atlantic Sea, especially in the area of Greenland/Iceland and Spitsbergen. More than 360 ppm had been measured over the sea surface.

In 2004 Polyakov published evidence for a multi-decadal oscillation of the ocean currents in the arctic circle, showing a warm phase (strong arctic warming during 1918 –1940 with high temperatures in the Iceland/Spitsbergen area) similar to the current situation, and a cold phase (around 1900 and 1960). Today the Iceland/Spitsbergen area is known for a strong absorption of CO2.

This multi-decadal heating of the oceanic CO2 absorption area and larger parts of the Northern Atlantic Ocean was followed by an increase of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to approx. 400 ppm during the 30s and approx. 390 ppm today. The abundance of plankton (13C) and other biota supports this view.

Conclusion:

Atmospheric CO2 concentration varies with climate, the sea is the dominant CO2 store, releasing the gas depending on multi-decadal changes of temperature.

See several supporting graphs here: 180 Years of atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods

""NOTE: While this paper presents some interesting findings, I and others do have some concerns with the older chemically derived sources of CO2 concentration data, which are obtained from a chemical analysis process that has some significant variability, es. Beck seems to think he has accurate enough data from these methods, and he has another essay on the process of chemical analysis of CO2 gas concentration in the atmosphere here. I’d recommend reading it also. My personal opinion on this paper is that I’m “on the fence with it”, and I encourage a rigorous debate, pro and con. – Anthony

” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-1855″ src=”https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/wpid-data-laughs-o.gif” alt=”wpid-data-laughs-o.gif” scale=”0″>

Figure 2. Ms. Francetic, Data is laughing at you.

The most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report on energy subsidies reveals the following:

Solar and wind power are insignificant sources of energy.

Energy Subsidies1

Figure 3a. U.S. Energy production by source 2010 & 2013 (trillion Btu), U.S. Energy Information Administration.(Corrected for error in Geothermal Btu shortly after publication.)

mtoe

Figure 3b. U.S. primary energy production 1981-2015 (million tonnes of oil equivalent), BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Solar and wind power receive massive Federal subsidies.

Energy 2

Figure 4. Federal subsidies by energy source 2010 and 2013 (million 2013 US dollars), U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The solar and wind subsidies are truly massive in $/Btu.

Energy Subsidies3

Figure 5. Subsidies per unit of energy by source ($/mmBtu), U.S. Energy Information Administration. (Corrected for error in Geothermal Btu shortly after publication.)

The true folly of solar power is most apparent in subsidies per kilowatt-hour of electricity generation.  At 23¢/kWh, the solar subsidies in 2013 were nearly twice the average U.S. residential retail electricity rate.

Energy Subsidies4

Figure 6. Subsidies per kilowatt-hour of electricity generation, U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Solar and wind subsidies are weighted toward direct expenditures of tax dollars.

Energy Subsidies5

Figure 7. Subsidies by type for wind, solar, nuclear, coal and natural gas & petroleum liquids, U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Table ES2.

Federal solar and wind subsidies were 3-4 times that of nuclear power in 2013.  Only 2% of the nuclear power subsidies consisted of direct expenditures, compared to 72% and 56% for solar and wind power respectively… And the renewables industry has the gall to complain about New York and Illinois kicking in $500 and $235 million per year in extra subsidies to keep nuclear power plants running in their States.  Really?

Solar power simply can’t work without massive subsidies.  While the economics of wind power are improving, renewables are still extremely expensive relative to existing coal and nuclear power plants.

Most of the Federal subsidies for oil & gas (96%), coal (71%) and nuclear power (67%) consist of tax breaks.  The subsidies for oil & gas aren’t really even subsidies.  These are standard tax deductions and depreciation of assets.

What About the Externalities?

What about them?  The cost of compliance with pollution regulations is built in to the cost of fossil fuels.  The mythical Social Cost of Carbon has no net present value at a real world discount rate.  What about the externalities of renewables?  The costs of backup generation and power failures due to their intermittency are not built into the cost of these energy sources.

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