Censorship at RenewEconomy Website

RenewEconomy is a fact-free zone when it comes to discussing the real costs of renewable energy.

Any posts showing that renewables are expensive when compared with conventional generation are deleted. The website practices censorship which would make Nazis proud. Let me explain.

On 23 October 2019, Giles Parkinson posted a blog at RenewEconomy here headlining, “Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about cost of wind and solar.”

I pointed out in the comments that his article was factually incorrect on the cost of renewables because he uses GenCost 2018 as his cost basis and I said that GenCost 2018 underestimates the cost of renewables by a factor of 2 to 3.

The response that I got was that, “you’re the perfect illustration of my point about nuclear cheerleaders making stuff up” and Giles then went on to state that my reference to the high cost of renewables in Germany was “bollocks” see my download of the conversation in Figure A.

Figure A: Comments Posted on RenewEconomy – Downloaded 26 October 2019

I posted the response below on 28 October 2019, which proved that renewable costs are high but it disappeared. Therefore, I reposted the response again on 29 October 2019 but once again it disappeared. Here is the post.

Giles,

I note that my reply yesterday has disappeared, therefore, I will try again.

I am not making things up, it is GenCost 2018 that massages figures to make variable renewables appear to be better than dispatchable generation as explained below, however, firstly I deal with your assertion that I am conflating retail and wholesale prices.

I disagree that I am conflating electricity prices. Retail is what consumers pay – not wholesale.  I note that you state that Germany adds on additional taxes to make their retail cost of renewables more expensive. However, facts show that retail prices tend to increase with higher penetration of renewables, for example see the diagram below (This is Figure 1 in my review below).

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Note that South Australia (SA) is on par with Germany and Denmark for per capita retail electricity prices. I would be interested in your view on whether or not SA adds “… lot of other general taxes onto the electricity bills” to make its prices comparable with Germany. Perhaps, if you send your link to the two-minute fact check that shows renewables are cheaper, it may explain why SA process are so expensive. However, I have found that most fact checks contain the same errors as GenCost 2018. These are summarised below.

I now enclose a copy of my review of GenCost 2018 here:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AlUVozCtzbL2h8FpWvmxz6o-Dfuh-w?e=OTC8K6

(Note that the above review is also available on Abacus)

The review concludes that GenCost 2018 underestimates the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind power by a factor of 2-3 for the following reasons:

  1. It uses it uses very high capacity factors for wind (from 38% to 44%), whereas real-world capacity factors are much lower. For example, wind farms in Australia have an average capacity factor of 33%.
    – Reducing the capacity factor from 44% to 33% increases the LCOE by approximately 33%.
  2. It does not include degradation in performance with time, which is estimated to be 1.6% per annum.
    – Including this degradation in performance increases the LCOE by approximately 20%.
  3. It uses a design life of 25 years but, typically, wind turbines do not last longer than 20 years and many turbines only have an economic life of 15 years.
    – Reducing the design life from 25 years to 20 years increases the LCOE by approximately 8%.
  4. It neglects the cost of transmission lines and demolition, which are usually higher for renewables than for coal-fired power.
    – Including the costs of transmission and demolition increases the LCOE by an average of 35%.

Including all of the items listed in (a) to (d) above shows that GenCost 2018 underestimates the LCOE of wind power by approximately a factor of 2. Furthermore, adding the cost of storage (firming) results in the LCOE of wind power being underestimated by approximately a factor of 3.

Additionally, GenCost 2018 uses a high-cost capacity factor of 60% for coal power. This is significantly lower than typical capacity factors of 95-96% for coal power and it increases the LCOE by approximately 60%.

Finally, the LCOE is not a good benchmark for comparing variable renewable energy and dispatchable power because it ignores system costs such as, grid stabilisation and failure costs that are usually higher for renewables. For example, higher system costs for renewables are highlighted in GenCost 2018, which states that, “…as the share of variable renewables rise…more balancing capacity will need to be added for system reliability purposes. Consequently, LCOE is expected to become increasingly less useful as a technology cost comparative measure and as an indicator of electricity prices.”

Fortunately, I took a screenshot (see Figure B) of my 29 October 2019 post, which shows that my response was awaiting to be approved before it disappeared.

A screenshot of a social media post

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Figure B: Screenshot of My Disappeared Comments Posted on RenewEconomy – Downloaded 29 October 2019 at 09:00

I can only conclude that RenewEconomy is a fact-free zone when it comes to discussing the real costs of renewable energy. Any post showing that renewables are expensive when compared with conventional generation are deleted. This is type of censorship would make Nazis proud.