Where the US Gets Its Electricity

Source: Bloomberg

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  1. jwagner commented on Oct 28

    Interesting graph, but I do not think it is current. Solar should be something more like .6%. Not a huge difference overall, but as solar PV has been following a tech-like cost curve, it has become cost competitive with conventional carbon generation and has been growing rapidly – and exponentially. Utility-scale long term contracts have fallen to the five cent/kwh range, which threatens new buildout of carbon-based generation. Things are going to get interesting in the utility sector.

    • DeDude commented on Oct 29

      Correction: DIRECT subsidy. Read your source and understand that this does not including the indirect subsidies from allowing companies to rob federal lands for pennies on the dollar and leave behind costly environmental disasters and health problems to be covered by government – not to mention trillions in global warming damage.


    • NoKidding commented on Oct 29

      According to your own link:

      “The study concluded: “Our comprehensive review finds that the best estimate for the total economically quantifiable costs, based on a conservative weighting of many of the study findings, amount to some $345.3 billion, adding close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated from coal.”

      Using your reference:
      Solar: $.96 kwh (true cost $1.01) with solar at 5c kwh market
      Coal $.17806 (true cost $0.20.) with coal at 3c kwh market

      Still 5 times more expensive at your count.

    • DeDude commented on Oct 29

      In contrast to you I didn’t just finish after I had meet a number I could “use”, I continued reading:

      “Still these figures do not represent the full societal and environmental burden of coal”

      No as explained before your cherry-picked quote and in the actual paper, there are a lot of costs not included. A lot that simply couldn’t be estimated in any reasonable way – and therefore were not included (such as “impacts due to an increasingly unstable climate”).

      By the way when you get into the government report that your right wing source is referencing for its “Solar $0.9680 per kwh (http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/) you can see that in 2013 the utility solar was 9 billion kwh and distributed was 10 billion kwh (Table ES5). The subsidies and support in 2013 (Table ES4) was $ 4.4 billion. Now in math as its done outside of the right wing club that comes to about $ 0.23 per kwh.

      The difference between the subsidies to solar and coal (which are about the same if half the cost are ignored for coal) is that the solar subsidies is investing in solution to a very serious problem, coal subsidies are contributing to that problem. Society should subsidize those who are solving problems not those who are creating them.

    • DeDude commented on Oct 29

      Remember the $4 billion used in 2013 (<1% of Pentagons budget that year) to subsidize solar is an important part of solving a problem that by year 2100 could be extremely costly


      "The bottom line is that they expect average global incomes to be 23% lower by the year 2100, relative to a world without climate change"

      Even if we presume 0% growth from now to then it would still be about $10 trillion missing from global incomes. You do not subtract those savings from the stated subsidy, because then the solar "subsidy" would not be a cost, but instead an investment with a HUGE return.

  2. Iamthe50percent commented on Oct 28

    Still King Coal? Environmentalists want to get rid of nukes but it looks like more payback on replacing coal which is nearly 100% carbon.

  3. hidflect commented on Oct 28

    Not a single Thorium Reactor in sight. Not even on the design board.

    • noncist commented on Oct 29

      Seriously! The powers-that-be would rather figure how to store tons of dangerous waste for thousands of years instead of figuring out how to make that energy useful!

      The DOE should create Advanced Nuclear Energy Certificates like they have for renewables!

  4. CD4P commented on Oct 29

    This seems as about as accurate as the National Retail Federations annual projection for Holiday shopping!!!

    The World Nuclear Association clearly wants to out Coal for contributing to Global Warming via their greenhouse gas emissions. HOWEVER, nuclear reactions release heat into the atmosphere and thereby contribute to Global Warming too; why isn’t this factored in? Additionally, we have no way of disposing of nuclear waste or handling nuclear accidents (see Fukushima for the latest open sore.) This is plainly evident in that nuclear power plants are uninsurable.

  5. NoKidding commented on Oct 29

    Nuclear at 20 percent after 40 years trapped in the footprints of permit sites granted 40 years ago.

  6. DeDude commented on Oct 29

    I think this is commercially produced, not total. Solar is growing rapidly in the residential use and I would be surprised if that has not yet exceeded 0.2% (but I could be wrong). I think a lot of people will be willing to pay a little extra for residential solar, simply to gain grid independence.

    • NoKidding commented on Oct 29

      I welcome a lot of people to follow your lead. Just let a lot of people pay for the luxury themselves.

    • bkilz commented on Oct 29

      A friend with solar panels experienced “grid independence” a few weeks back when the power went during the day. His power went out. When he called PG&E (in California), they said the Inverter is automatically shut down during power outages to protect from a power surge when the lights go back on. You have to be 100% off the grid to get any independence and that’s expensive.

    • DeDude commented on Oct 30

      Yes standard systems are being “sabotaged” by the power companies because they are afraid of the consequences if people begin experiencing that they are only marginally affected by power outages. That would be another great selling point for something the power companies don’t want. They could make user friendly systems that allow your own power to continue. A simple switch with a little alarm so you manually reconnect or a surge protector would cost less than $50. The 100% grid independence is still expensive but lots of doomsday preppers are willing to pay. Another 4 fold reduction in solar panel cost and 4 fold reduction in residential energy storage cost, then people will unhook the cord because it is cost effective and convenient.

  7. noncist commented on Oct 29

    I agree that this chart is a year or two out-dated. There is less coal and more natural gas, solar, and wind now, although it’s not hugely different. I find this one to be a better perspective with the latest forecasts from EIA’s 2015 report:

    Natural gas is set to grow more than all other sources combined. Growth in renewables (wind followed by solar) is on track to account for all our additional energy use over coming years, but the big story in terms of volume is coal being replaced by natural gas.

  8. kaleberg commented on Oct 29

    How do they measure solar power production? If you have a small rooftop installation, do they measure your actual power production or do they just measure the net of what gets fed to the grid?

    • noncist commented on Oct 30

      Most solar installations have two power meters. The typical one between the property and the grid and a second one between the inverter and the rest of the property. That way the local utility can measure both how much you produce and how much you consume.

      Couple interesting things most people don’t know. First, about 99% of people with solar panels sell the rights to the utility, so the utility takes legal credit for the solar produced. This means (1) the utility’s mandated obligation to produce solar is reduced and (2) if you run a home business and claim to be solar powered you are technically committing fraud, because you sold that claim to the utility.

      Second, most grid-tied solar installations will not help you in a blackout. If there is no power coming in from the grid, most inverters switch off to prevent backfeeding the grid and potentially injuring people. The downside is that the property is SOL in a power outage.

      You can avoid both these problems when you install solar by doing two things: (1) keep your solar renewable energy certificates for yourself or sell them on the open market if you can legally do so and (2) install a switch and an inverter that allows you to go off-grid when the grid is down and use your power for yourself.

    • RW commented on Oct 30

      The new meters can pretty much track all the above AFAIK. The one the power co installed when my solar array went online apparently has dozens of functions that the utility can set if desired but only two are active on my setup: (1) gross consumption and (2) net production which is credited by the utility against future consumption when positive (over a year this is about 50% of gross).

      see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_energy_metering

      There is also a separate ‘dumb’ meter for the array before it’s fed into panel for distribution; this is for solar production only (we celebrated our first megawatt last summer).

      The array has a 20 year warranty for both panels and inverters: solid state microinverters for each panel rather than one main inverter (micros can also report to the web so production and efficiency are online which is cool). At current production values, I calculate the system will pay for itself in approx seven years.

      “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden

  9. Expat commented on Nov 1

    The choices are tough. We can’t afford solar in the US unless we give up our Forever Wars (Gee, I guess we could afford solar after all!). Nuclear might be cheap (ish) but we will all be dead from Fukushima before we will ever start breaking ground for a new plant in the US. Coal is ‘Murican, cheap, and politically untouchable. Natgas is green if you don’t count leaks (whoops!).

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