Bjorn Lomborg asks in his posting “Are wind and solar energy already competitive with fossil fuels?” He says no they are not and probably will not be competitive even by 2040.
“We constantly hear how solar and wind energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels. A few months ago, Bloomberg Business ”wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both Germany and the U.K., even without government subsidies.” If renewable energy is cheaper than dirty fossil fuels, why isn’t everyone adopting them? Are we so irrationally addicted to polluting energy sources that we won’t even embrace cheaper and cleaner alternatives?
Well, as you might have guessed, it turns out that wind and solar energy isn’t cheaper than fossil fuels in the real world. A new report by the same Bloomberg now warns that if subsidies are phased out by 2020 in the U.K, the renewable industry will dry up and drop off a cliff. ”
With formidable doublespeak, Greenpeace tries to square this circle by saying that renewables are both competitive and need subsidies for many years after 2020: “Wind and solar energy are at the point of becoming really competitive with fossil fuels, but failure to support them for another few years will result in huge losses of potential jobs.” That is a claim we’ve heard many times since the 1970s – just a few more years of subsidies, and we’ll be off. And it still isn’t.”
I believe Lomborg is correct in his evaluation of wind energy because it is very old technology. I believe that solar has a chance of someone finding a way to capture much more of the Sun’s energy than the solar cells currently are able to do.
Lomborg then looks at the impact of renewables by the year 2040. “The International Energy Agency estimates that today just about 0.5 per cent of global energy comes from solar and wind (see graphic below). Even in 2040, even if everyone does everything they’ve promised at the Paris Summit, the world will get just 2.4% of its energy from solar and wind.
This year the world will spend about $106 billion on subsidies for solar and wind, and even by 2040 it will not be cheaper than fossil fuels – we will still have to pay $84 billion in subsidies annually. The International Energy Agency estimate that even by 2040, renewables will on average be more expensive both in the developed and developing world than any other energy source, like oil, gas, nuclear, coal and hydro.
Makes sense to me.