In my Clean Energy Standards article in our 2012 Renewable Energy Handbook I discussed how turbine OEMs and their supply chains are working to get the cost of wind generated power lower than that from natural gas.
This is something I’ve heard commonly discussed at tradeshows. However, one reader sharply noted that renewable energy may already cost less than fossil fuels, depending on how you look at it. I’d like to share his comments with you.
Perhaps the fossil fuel cost of electricity is now higher than that from solar or wind if we do an apples to apples comparison. That is if one source has a 20 or 25 year PPA or guarantee on power production, the other electricity source needs to have the same PPA or guarantee time. The natural gas and coal prices can be guaranteed for a few years by means of commodity futures exchange markets, but I am not aware of anyone giving a fixed price for fossil fuel for 20 to 25 years. If you know of this being done I would be very interested. A possible criticism of this argument is that fossil fuel power is not subject to down time due to darkness or calm winds, however if we combine pumped hydro with solar or wind we can still have a nearly continuous power flow. Along this line, I think closed loop pumped hydro has a great future and perhaps someone you know could help promote it:
“The only way to store a significant amount of energy is by having a large body of water located on a hill relatively near, but as high as possible above, a second body of water. In some places this occurs naturally, in others one or both bodies of water have been man-made. Projects in which both reservoirs are artificial and in which no natural waterways are involved are commonly referred to as ‘closed loop’.” –Wikipedia
I think this gentleman makes a valid point. What are your thoughts WPE&D readers?