Despite all the claims that wind and solar power are cheaper than coal, the bottom line after proper accounting shows that the real cost of “firming” intermittent wind and solar power will exceed $400 per MWh.
We are told that coal power is on the way out because it can’t compete with wind and solar in the bidding process to supply energy to the grid.
Kerry Schott, recently the Chair of the Energy Security Board, summed up the situation in the Fin Review 23 Feb. 22.
The challenge to the commercial viability for the coal-fired assets is not going away…The renewables increase is mainly intended to replace retiring coal generation and there is no sign of any slowdown in this capacity replacement.
However in the real world, windless nights are the elephant in the room because the grid requires input around the clock but on windless nights there is no input from wind and solar facilities. “Firming” is required, that is backup from conventional power.
Up to date the cost of firming has been overlooked because it has been provided free of charge to the wind and solar operators. They are the "scorpions getting a ride on the frog."
Estimated cost for six power mixes in the grid.
1 The current situation. $60-80 per MWhr.
2 Replace brown coal with nuclear power. $60-80 per MWhr.
3 Replace all coal with nuclear power, $80-100 per MWhr.
4 The AEMO plan for 2040. $240-260 per MWhr.
5 Replace all coal with gas, $80-100 per MWhr.
6 100% Renewables plus storage. $400-420 per MWhr.
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