What Is The Cost Of Getting To A 100% “Renewable” Electric Grid?
August 07, 2018 | Francis Menton | Manhattan Contrarian
If you are a politician in a blue area, the big thing these days is to make the pledge that you will put your state or city on the fast track to getting 100% of its electricity from the “renewables.” —Read More —
But has anyone stopped for a moment to ask how this would work or how much it would cost? Of course there is the Manhattan Contrarian — for example in “How Much Do Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Price Of Electricity?” in August 2016; or “How Self-Delusional Can We Be On The Cost Of Electricity From ‘Renewables’?” in February 2018. Yes, mine are basically back-of-the-envelope calculations. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with a back-of-the-envelope calculation on this subject. The truth is that you can get pretty good rough estimates from easily available sources of how much back-up you need to fill in for the intermittent “renewables,” and you can multiply that by cost-per-kWh figures for batteries, and thus, using no more than pencil and paper, get useful estimates of impact on electricity costs. Those impacts, by the way, are not small.
But how about looking for a study that’s a little fancier and more sophisticated, maybe from some certified academic source? If you have the idea that this is a calculation that nobody in academia really wants to do, you would not be very wrong. But a reporter named James Temple from the MIT Technology Review is just out (July 27) with a piece –– relying on a 2016 report from researchers at MIT and the Argonne National Lab and on recent work from a Boston-based think tank called the Clean Air Task Force — that analyzes the situation in California and comes up with some rather specific cost implications. These will take your breath away.
To begin, you need to address the question: how much storage do you need to buy for California to get to an 80% renewable, or 100% renewable, system?
Temple concludes by quoting Jesse Jenkins of the Clean Air Task Force:
“The risk,” Jenkins says, “is we drive up the cost of deep decarbonization in the power sector to the point where the public decides it’s simply unaffordable to continue toward zero carbon.”