Tuesday, March 01, 2011

More Sloppy Work from the CRI

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) has stepped up its output when it comes to arguing against renewable energy. Unfortunately the quality of the CRI’s production has not kept pace. Let’s take a look at an example of the CRI’s work, titled “Solar Panel Subsidies Have Un-Intended Consequences.” In it Dave Stevenson of the Center for Energy Competitiveness compares the costs of different energy technologies:
One dollar invested in solar cells produces about 275 watts a year of electricity. Compare this to annual production per dollar invested for the following; offshore wind produces 390 watts/$, onshore wind 775 watts/$, and nuclear power 3000 watts/$ invested.
Sadly, no source is offered for these numbers, which would have been helpful in clarifying the meaning of the numbers. The cost of power plants is typically expressed as either dollars needed to build a kilowatt of capacity or cents per kWh of output. But Stevenson isn't clear as to whether he is talking about capacity or output, which makes his numbers almost impossible to interpret.

I have not seen any figures that support Stevenson’s assertion that nuclear power is ten times more cost effective than solar power. The cost of solar power has been coming down (a point Stevenson helpfully illustrates in a graph), while the cost of a new nuke plant continues to be prohibitive, and the industry insists that no new nuclear power will come online without financial guarantees from the federal government.

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