Juxtapose this from the Washington Post—
Gore envisions a nationwide “Smart Grid”–a massive underground network of electrical power lines that would be powered by massive solar panel installations in the Southwest, and huge wind turbine installations in the Pacific Northwest. The Smart grid would dole out power and regulate itself using 21 Century computer technology, Gore said. Gore said such a system would cost $600 billion to build, but that it would pay for itself quickly.
With this from E and E–
California’s bold bid to boost renewable energy use to 33 percent of total power generation over the next decade would cost the state $60 billion between 2012 and 2020, according to a new analysis by the state’s Public Utilities Commission. The PUC’s report, which was released Friday, found that a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would require construction of 70,000 gigawatt-hours of new generation powered by renewable sources by 2020, in addition to seven major new power lines at a cost of $6.4 billion. This means a drain on a state Treasury already running a $15 billion deficit.
Besides the new transmission line costs to build, neither of these articles mention how much solar and wind energy costs compared to that from coal, which a Cato study elaborates:
According to analysis by Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf1, stripping out the subsidies, the regulatory distortions and the taxes, the “levelized cost” of building a new conventional coal-fired power plant (that is, the cost associated with building the plant and buying coal over the lifetime of the plant divided by the energy output that one might expect from the facility over its lifetime) works out to cost 3.10 cents per kWh to build, By means of comparison:
– a new clean coal plant costs 3.53 cents per kWh,
– a nuclear power plant costs 4.57 cents per kWh,
– a wind power plant costs 4.95 cents per kWh,
– a biomass-fired power plant costs 4.96 cents per kWh,
– a natural gas power plant costs 5.29 cents per kWh,
– a solar thermal power plant costs 13.84 cents per kWh, and
– a solar photovoltaic power plant costs 26.64 cents per kWh.
That Mr Gore is the real world.