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View Diary: NOT BREAKING!!! Think Tanks Climate Change Denial and the Media/Policy Landscape (56 comments)

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    It is called "grid parity", meaning that costs for renewable power are less than for fossil carbon in certain situations at certain points on the grid, and that grid parity is becoming more and more widespread. BP, along with many others, has achart showing grid parity taking hold over the next few years with increasing overlap between the cost structures. Even the Wall Street Journal has to pay lip service to grid parity, while sowing as much doubt as possible on when, and recommending that governments interfere with it as much as possible by removing subsidies for renewables but not for fossil carbon fuels.

    Grid parity in turn means that it will soon be impossible to get funding to build fossil-carbon baseload power plants in most of the world. Some investment advisers are already telling clients to divest from carbon, not for ethical and moral reasons, but because it will cease to be profitable long before the expected lifetime of newly-built plants. It appears from what I know that India and China will be the last countries to tip, only because they are the two most populous countries, and thus have so far to go in ramping up their portfolios of renewables. But they are hard at it. I can supply pointers to cost analyses, to particular projects, and to public statements from funding sources.

    First, we have to reach parity with retail costs for electricity, which vary greatly by location and political/economic climate in different parts of the US and different countries around the world. In many places rooftop solar costs less than retail electricity, and you can not only save money, but get the power company to pay you for what you generate beyond what you need in your own house.

    You don't have to front the money, either. You should be able to get a lease on a rooftop system on your house, or an arrangement to buy electricity from your own roof at a lower rate than your public utility charges. As with any major home improvement, check out the contractor thoroughly, and get an independent analysis of your financial options.

    Second, we have to reach parity with wholesale prices. Major corporations, including Walmart, are at that point, and have announced plans to put solar power on the roofs of office buildings, warehouses, stores, and so on companywide.

    Third, we have to reach parity with electricity at the generator. Here wind is the leader. The gating factor for wind power is no longer the cost of hardware, but the lack of a sufficiently smart grid with sufficient load-balancing capability over a sufficiently wide area. But that, too, is being built.

    The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what denialists pretend to think. The market that they pretend can fix everything will in fact fix this. Coal, oil, and gas companies will all go the way of the proverbial buggy whip manufacturers, and not a moment too soon. Now if we could get the Republicans to go the way of the Federalists and the Whigs…No, we don't have to. They are doing everything they can think of in that line themselves.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 04:13:17 PM PDT

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