Wind Energy Distortions

People deserve to know the truth when it comes to the cost of wind energy.

Would you believe that the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, made up of 23 governors, would distort the facts?

Would you believe that the Energy Information Administration (EIA) would distort the facts?

Here is a chart used by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition showing the cost of wind energy compared with the cost of electricity generated from coal, etc. This was used to educate Congress on the value of wind energy. The headline is misleading, at best.

 

Cost Chart with Distorted Wind Cost

It’s necessary to go to the fine print to see that they selected the lowest possible levelized cost of electricity, LCOE. This cost is from isolated cases, areas where there are unusually strong winds, hundreds of miles from where the electricity can be used.

I have seen no other comparison that goes to such an extreme to try to prove that wind energy is economical. Congress should be insulted to be given such a distorted picture of the cost of electricity from wind.

Even the EIA doesn’t go to such an extreme to distort the LCOE of wind.

However, the EIA chooses to distort the comparison between the LCOE from wind and coal, in an attempt to show that wind is competitive with the cost of electricity from coal.

Here is the table from the EIA, showing LCOEs from various sources.

Levalized cost from EIA

LCOE from EIA

The LCOEs from the EIA’s table are 97 $/MW-hour for wind, and 94.8 $/MW-hour for conventional coal.

The EIA arrives at this distortion by adding a charge for CO2 emissions to the capitalized cost of constructing coal-fired power plants. It’s equivalent to $15 per ton of CO21. It also uses a capacity factor of 34% for wind, when actual land-based capacity factor is 30% at best; and this helps lower the cost of electricity from wind.

Why is it necessary for the Governor’ Energy Coalition and the EIA to distort the cost of electricity from wind?

The answer is simply to fool people, including Congress, into thinking that electricity from wind is cheap – when it isn’t.

NOTE:

  1. From the EIA web site: “While the 3-percentage point adjustment is somewhat arbitrary, in levelized cost terms, its impact is similar to that of a $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fee when investing in a new coal plant without CCS.”

 

Read more of Donn’s columns at his blog, Power For USA.

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