Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Inconvenient energy fact

Mark Perry has a fabulous post today highlighting the extreme inefficiency which afflicts the solar power industry. It can be summed up in the following chart, but be sure to read the whole thing for all the gory details:


13 comments:

Benjamin Cole said...

Corn ethanol or solar energy…which is the biggest structural impediment?

George Phillies said...

These numbers do not seem to match up too well with pricing, at the point that tax breaks and subsidies appear unlikely to account for the difference.

For 2016 the solar hot water heater on my roof produced some amount of energy, equivalent of 100-150 barrels of oil, meaning (oil prices fluctuate) something like a 5% return on investment (more if you include the tax breaks), and the required labor in 2016 was *zero*.

Frozen in the North said...

OK trying to wrap my brain around the idea that it takes 79 people to produce as much energy as for oil. You know that once a solar panel is up it produces energy for a few years (warranties are for 20 years -- but they can last much much longer). Plis as GP says above -- solar prices are now around $0.03 per watt hour (Dubai's phase III solar expansion may even hit the $0.02 per watt hour). Anyway, the market has already decided -- solar wins! America can dream of a world of coal and oil, the rest of the planet has moved on already.

Houston Advisor said...

Drumpf putting coal miners back to work...HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sid Pools said...

The vast majority of those 'inefficient' solar workers are working towards future production (panel manufacturing, labor for installation, etc.) rather than supporting current production, as the industry ramps. Ex those people it would likely look a lot more efficient, as it probably will once the industry growth rates level off/stabilize.

Benjamin Cole said...

OT---Dr. Copper near five-month lows and falling.

Not sure to worry or not (my first instinct is always to worry).

I wonder if the epic run-up in commodities pre-2010 will work itself down over many years…..

oil now trading for about the same price in nominal U.S. dollars as it it did in the late 1970s….

Bryon Severns said...

If Solar power requires more workers, that means more jobs. Let the rich buy lots of solar panels and keep America employed.

Scott Grannis said...

More jobs producing inefficient stuff does not make the economy stronger. It's a waste of the economy's scarce resources. One reason the economy has been in a tepid recovery for the past 8-9 years is because of all the taxpayer money that has been lavished on inefficient solar and wind power (aka subsidies).

Paul McFarlane said...

The idea that solar and wind energies can rival fossil fuel in cost per kilowatt hour is absolutely and demonstrably false. First the second law of thermodynamics one of the most established laws of physics would have to be overturned throwing the field of physics into turmoil and the universe would perhaps have to de-construct and implode! The method used to calculate the costs of renewable energies production are false, deceiving and based on religious mantra rather than on basic arithmetic. For instance, South Australia has had 4 electric blackouts in the past 1 months. Their energy grid is based on wind energy at 40%. They have no adequate back-up systems for when wind flows decrease and hence their blackouts. Where should the costs of the energy blackouts be accounted (over $400 million)? The cost should absolutely go to the cost of producing wind energy! When that is done the cost per kilowatt hour in cases like this can be virtually incalculable! Second Tesla's owner has proposed building a back-up energy system for South Australia. Where should the cost of these expensive battery packs be accounted? Absolutely to the cost of wind production. So the accounting of costs related to the production of renewable energies have been dishonestly mis-accounted!

amritsari said...

Bogus comparison - solar is growth industry while coal is mature and utilizes existing infrastructure. My solar panels took x people to produce but don't need anybody to make them work for the next 10-20 years. Where is that factored in. Also, this only matters to people who can't understand the scientific fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and we must reduce it. Inconvenient to t he pocket book , I know, but true nevertheless.

Paul McFarlane said...


Solar is a growth industry? Really? Grow to where? Over 110 solar companies have been bankrupted worldwide in the past 12 years even after 800 billion dollars of subsidies have been given to the renewable sector. The real question to ask is where would solar be without the subsidies? In economics we know that when you subsidize something you get more of it. So where would this growth sector be with out the subsidies? Answer that.

Rich said...

Maybe it's a consequence of solar being in the early stages of scaling up.

amritsari said...

800 Billion dollars of subsidies ????!!!! Are you sure it wasn't 800 Gazillion ? :)

Also note many coal companies have gone bankrupt ... so you agree we shouldn't try to help them ?

I'll stop believing in subsidies for new industries when we stop giving subsidies to all industries, including US agriculture, and also tax breaks for companies to set up shop in different states.