Mitt Romney’s energy policy proposal, announced today, would redirect science funding towards basic research, according to this mostly positive analysis from the generally liberal journal Science.
Personally I’d like to get the federal government out of all this. Let the private market decide where the money should be spent for research. Moreover, we still have that federal debt to pay off. Where will Romney get the money?
Since 2006 carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. have plunged, almost reaching 1991 levels.
The key driver for the “shockingly good news” that CO2 emissions will probably fall this year to a two-decade low … is “the shale gas revolution, and the low-priced gas that it has made a reality, especially in the last 12 months. As of April, gas tied coal at 32% of the electric power generation market, nearly ending coal’s 100 year reign on top of electricity markets (see related CD post on this energy milestone). Let’s remember the speed and extent of gas’s rise and coal’s drop: coal had 52% of the market in 2000 and 48% in 2008.”
It is important to note that it is innovation, technology, and capitalism that is making this happen. Without a free market the shale gas revolution would not have occurred.
A skeptic takes an educated look at alternative energy.
The matter of affordable costs is the hardest promise to assess, given the many assorted subsidies and the creative accounting techniques that have for years propped up alternative and renewable generation technologies. Both the European Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association claim that wind turbines already produce cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants do, while the solar enthusiasts love to take the history of impressively declining prices for photovoltaic cells and project them forward to imply that we’ll soon see installed costs that are amazingly low.
But other analyses refute the claims of cheap wind electricity, and still others take into account the fact that photovoltaic installations require not just cells but also frames, inverters, batteries, and labor. These associated expenses are not plummeting at all, and that is why the cost of electricity generated by residential solar systems in the United States has not changed dramatically since 2000. At that time the national mean was close to 40 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, while the latest Solarbuzz data for 2012 show 28.91 cents per kilowatt-hour in sunny climates and 63.60 cents per kilowatt-hour in cloudy ones. That’s still far more expensive than using fossil fuels, which in the United States cost between 11 and 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011. The age of mass-scale, decentralized photovoltaic generation is not here yet.
Then consider the question of scale. Wind power is more advanced commercially than solar power, but with about 47 gigawatts in the United States at the end of 2011 it still accounted for less than 4 percent of the net installed summer generating capacity in that country. And because the capacity factors of U.S. wind turbines are so low, wind supplied less than 3 percent of all the electricity generated there in 2011.
Read the whole article. It is detailed, thoughtful, and blunt.
We’re here to help you: The Obama administration today announced strict new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
See this post for some perspective and context.
Bankrupt and owing the taxpayers half a billion dollars, Solyndra has been caught destroying brand new parts.