If Solar and Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?
A question that gives pause: If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive? Over the last year, the media have publishedstoryafterstoryafterstoryabout the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines. People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.
And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite. Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per wattdeclined by 75 percentwhile the price of wind turbines per wattdeclined by 50 percent.
And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically. The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013. In a paper forEnergy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.
The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.
Solar and wind thusrequire that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.