No Contest: Wind Power Can’t Compete With Coal-Fired Power On Cost, Or At All

The well-chewed ‘chestnut, about wind power being cheaper than coal or gas-fired power is a nonsense. Then there’s the fiction that wind power is actually ‘competing’ with conventional generation sources.

‘Competition’, in the wind industry’s eyes, is a pretty fluid concept: for most of life’s endeavours, it means a head-to-head race between all competitors, starting at the same time and traversing the same course, from start to finish. Not so with wind power.

However, it won’t be long before RE zealots are forced to accept defeat: wherever you look, coal, gas, hydro and nuclear keep thrashing wind and solar. Not simply because they’re cheaper, but because they work. And when we say ‘work’ STT means delivering power when and whenever consumers need it.

STT doesn’t promote coal-fired power because we love coal. STT promotes it simply because it works and because it provides affordable power to all comers – 24 x 365 – whatever the weather and any time of day or night. It’s that simple, really.

Modern economies aren’t structured around the weather or time-of-day. Industrial economies operate around-the-clock.

If people are prepared to go back to the Stone Age then, sure, why not harness your energy hopes to that lucky old Sun and the Wind Gods. However, for some strange reason, countries like China and India – while paying a little lip service to wind and solar – are furiously building hundreds of coal-fired power plants, in an effort to drag themselves out of grinding poverty and to stand shoulder to shoulder with Europe and America, as industrial economies.

Again, STT doesn’t promote coal-fired power because we love coal. STT does so simply because coal-fired power works: the market says so, and has done so for a century.

Sure, a few wealthy virtue signallers in the West believe they can operate without reliable and affordable power supplies (although that class of clowns run fairly quiet in wind and sun ‘powered’ South Australia). But try telling that to the hundreds of millions who live in grinding poverty, around the globe.

No country ever dragged itself out of agrarian poverty without an Industrial Revolution. And no Industrial Revolution was ever powered by sunshine and breezes.

Australia’s enviable prosperity is inextricably linked to cheap and readily available energy: be it coal, oil, gas or hydro.

The real heavy lifter in that line up is coal.

On any given day coal-fired power is generating between 75% and 85% of the electricity being chewed up across the Eastern Grid.

After sunset on a breathless summer’s evening, the so-called ‘future fuels’- wind and solar – are producing a big fat doughnut, of course; always have, always will. Battery storage is a ludicrously expensive pipe dream and pumped hydro simply squanders between 25% to 30% of the electricity generated and required to pump water uphill for later use.

Coal-fired power doesn’t need ‘firming capacity’, batteries or anything else; it just works and, as Anton Lang details, it is cheap.

Is Wind Power Actually Cheaper Than Coal Fired Power? Well, No!
PA Pundits
Anton Lang
25 November 2018

Virtually every commentator who even mentions renewable power generation these days will tell you that renewable power generation is cheaper than coal fired power, but is this really the case?

It has puzzled me for a long time now how they can get away with saying that, and not actually taking the time to check the real data to see if it’s true at all. They just repeat that same old thing, time after time, and as the old adage says, repeat something often enough and it then becomes the truth.

You’ll see all sorts of ways they can justify it, usually by quoting what is referred to by the acronym LCOE. (Levelised Cost Of Electricity) Over the years I have been doing this, now almost eleven years, I have seen so many different versions of these LCOE documents, and they have changed across the years, becoming more and more complex. However, one thing I have noticed with them is that they are skewed in favour of renewable power to make it look as good as they can possibly make it, and at the same time, skewed against coal fired power to make it look as bad as they possibly can make it.

By far the biggest manner they skew the results is that they attempt to make it ‘a level playing field’, by trying to make the numbers suggest that all the electrical power generated is basically equal, no matter what the source, and there are so many variables that are just not taken into account, and other variables that are included, some of which are patently false, the biggest of these being CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) which is something that will never be achieved on any level, let alone on the scale required, and to a lesser degree, the imposition of a cost on the emissions of Carbon Dioxide, your typical Carbon (sic) Tax

Because that LCOE is so biased and incorrect, and there have been so many of them, all different, I would tend to discount them.

In saying that, can I actually justify the position I am taking here?

Well yes, I can.

What I will be doing below is showing you actual data for both sources of power generation, wind power and coal fired power, and from that you can see, quite easily in fact, that real data supports my argument that wind power is definitely not cheaper than coal fired power, and in fact, it’s not even close.

The data I will be using is from Australia, and while you may think that is a small scale to be using, it is something which can be scaled up to the ‘bigger picture’.

What I will be using is the most current data for both wind power, and also for coal fired power as well, so it is actually a relevant argument.

Australia currently has a total Nameplate for ALL wind power of 5452MW. That comes from 50 Wind plants spread across the Country in the vast AEMO coverage area, and that’s every part of Australia East of the Western Australian border. This coverage area is for the 5 States, from largest to smallest, New South Wales Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania and also the Australian Capital Territory, so it is not a small area we are looking at here.

That total Nameplate of 5452MW is from those 50 wind plants with an estimated total number of wind towers in the vicinity of 2800.

However, saying that the Nameplate is 5452MW does not mean that those wind plants deliver that total all the time. The total power s calculated by the actual generated power and is worked out across a full year, and that’s the Industry Standard, and that amount of power is expressed in GWH. (GigaWattHours)

Everyone knows that wind power is variable. It has good days and bad days.

That ratio of power generated versus Nameplate is expressed as the Capacity Factor. The current Capacity factor for wind power here in Australia for all those wind plants is 30%, so, across the full year, that Nameplate of 5452MW is only the equivalent of around 1650MW. The total generated power delivered to the grid across Australia for every one of those wind plants is a tick under 14400GWH.

Okay then, let’s compare that with an existing coal fired power plant, and for this case, I will use the Bayswater plant near Muswellbrook in New South Wales. This plant is now 32 years old. It has four large Units, each one of 660MW in total for a Nameplate of 2640MW.

Again, this plant also does not deliver that total power all of the time. It runs constantly while ever they feed coal into the furnace/boiler part of each Unit. The power delivery ramps up and down each day, and the only time the Units are off line is when they are undergoing maintenance or Upgrades. Like wind power, this coal fired plant is also subject to that tem Capacity Factor, and for this Bayswater plant, it’s Capacity Factor across a full year is around 75%. It delivers 17000GWH to the grid in that State of New South Wales.

So, as you can see from just these last two paragraphs, wind power has a total Nameplate of 5452MW, and Bayswater has a Nameplate of 2640MW, so wind power has double the Nameplate for the coal fired plant.

However, look here at the totals for generated power. Bayswater delivers 17000GWH, and wind (that’s EVERY wind plant in the Country) delivers 14400MW. So Bayswater, with half the Nameplate delivers 18% more power to the grid for use by all electricity consumers.

So, here you have 50 wind plants with 2800 wind towers still not delivering the same power as ONE coal fired power plant.

Now, I don’t care what anyone says here, there is no way that one coal fired power plant cost anywhere even close to the total cost of those 50 wind plants.

Okay, so there’s the case for existing power, already in place.

What about making a case for new coal fired power then? Would there be much difference?

Let’s do the maths for a new coal fired power plant, and here I will use the example of what is called a HELE (High Efficiency Low Emissions) coal fired power plant, the newest and most technologically advanced version of coal fired power, and these plants are in operation now all over the World, mostly in China where all new coal fired plants are of this type. It is also referred to as a USC (UltraSuperCritical) plant.

These plants burn less coal for greater output and higher efficiency than old 1960s to 1980s technology plants, and these new plants are three levels of technology better than those older coal fired plants

Because the technology and efficiencies are so much better, these new plants can operate larger generators as the technology for every stage of these plants has improved, also meaning that the technology for the actual power generator has also improved, these new plants can drive generators up to an individual generator Nameplate of 1500MW, but they typically drive two Units each of 1200MW each for a total plant Nameplate of 2400MW.

Again, because the technology has improved so far their power delivery has also increased and they can typically operate at a Capacity Factor of around 85%, and some plants are operating at Capacity Factors over 90%.

So, using the example of a new HELE plant with a Nameplate of 2400MW, and operating at a yearly Capacity Factor of that 85%, they will deliver across a full year 17800GWH of usable power to the grid.

So now, that reference point is that figure of 17800GWH.

Let’s do the maths for wind power, and here I’ll be using the example of the largest (and also one of the newest) wind plants in Australia, the Macarthur Wind plant in the State of Victoria.

This Macarthur wind plant has a total Nameplate of 420MW, and has been operating at that average Capacity Factor of 30%, so it will deliver across a full year 1100GWH of usable power to the grid.

1100GWH from wind versus 17800GWH from the coal fired plant.

So, from that, we can see now that o equal the same power delivery of that coal fired plant, we need to have in place 16 of these Macarthur equivalent wind plants.

That’s 16 of them.

The cost for the Macarthur wind plant was around $1Billion, and yes, that’s One Billion Dollars, and most sites only list that cost as ‘around’ that figure of a Billion.

So, right there, we are now looking at a total of $16 Billion.

SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS.

On top of that, the new coal fired plant has a life expectancy of 50 years, in exactly the same situation as current coal fired plants also have a life expectancy of 50 years, and some of them even longer than that.

The best case scenario for wind plants is the figure quoted at most wind plant informational sites, where they give that life expectancy of 25 years, but the real truth could be closer to only 20 years, and some instances I have seen in recent times is that most of might only reach a life expectancy of 15 years, but for the case of this exercise, I will use that best case scenario of 25 years. So, from that you can now see that the cost actually doubles because you now need twice that number to deliver the same power over the life of the coal fired plant., so now we are looking at $32 Billion.

THIRTY TWO BILLION DOLLARS.

I have purposely not given a cost for the new HELE coal fired power plant, because there is no way it could cost anywhere even close to that. They are constructing them in Germany for the equivalent of $3 Billion Australian Dollars. They are constructing in China for $US1 Billion.

There is no way known that even 50 years of other costs could bring that figure up to $32 Billion.

So, as you can see, when you use current data for actual power generation, wind power is most definitely NOT cheaper than coal fired power.
PA Pundits

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    The well-chewed ‘chestnut, about wind power being cheaper than coal or gas-fired power is a nonsense. Then there’s the fiction that wind power is actually ‘competing’ with conventional generation sources.

    ‘Competition’, in the wind industry’s eyes, is a pretty fluid concept: for most of life’s endeavours, it means a head-to-head race between all competitors, starting at the same time and traversing the same course, from start to finish. Not so with wind power.

  2. With an energy density around 50 acres per MW, where are all the turbines going to be located… Oh, plus approximately 250t coal to make each one. Hmm. Hardly green or sustainable.

  3. Of course the 30% of nameplate capacity are delivered at random intervals which makes wind power even more useless!

  4. Dollars are that Aus or US?
    $1Billion (AUS $) the cost for 420 MW places the cost at
    SEK 16/W (installed) which is spot on the cost of windmills in Sweden and the usage or 30% is what we have on average in Sweden for installing soon 7 GW
    Very interesting is that the figure “So now, that reference point is that figure of 17800GWH.” or as I write it 17.8 TWh is spot on the same as the result in Sweden….
    “.. life expectancy of 25 years, but the real truth could be closer to only 20 years,” is not happening in Sweden plants are decommissioned earlier due to the growth from 0.5 MW to 3+MW det last 20 years…. money talks…
    $ 16 billion (AUS) is SEK 100 Billion which is the cost of one nuclear reactor (Finland) 1.6 GW delivering close to 13 TWh . .
    So the wind freaks says that 13 is less than the 18 GWh YES U´r right BUT to have this 13 TWh for 40 years will cost nuclear
    Bottom line nuclear SEK 0.20 / kWh/year (plus some 5-10% fuel)
    Bottom line wind SEK 0.27 / kWh/ year
    And with a usage of 30% you will have to need some backup power like coal…. depending on what power balance (demand in GW´s) from the grid .. my guesswork is that sometimes you will need the 2.4 GW´s and the other side of the coin is that sometimes the demands are so low that even wind has to “go down” from its maximum hence usage will be lower in a system with intermittent wind and full power backup….
    LCC bottom line will be this SEK 0.26 / kWh / year plus another close to SEK 0.26 / kWh / year
    BOTTOM LINE at least double …

  5. Professor Jordan Peterson nails ‘Climate Change’.

    Thanks to GWPF for posting this on their YouTube channel.

    Link below…

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC9mMt7HEFxVa0godNFbV5fg

  6. Son of a goat says:

    Those “Kings of Cognitive Dissonance” in the Renewable Energy Messiah, Yoda Yates and the CEC’s Kane Thornton seem to suffer from a renewable energy induced bipolar disorder.

    One minute they are patting each other on the backside suggesting 2018 was the greatest year ever for renewables and the transition is unstoppable.

    They then descend into vile rants at the Federal govts energy policy, like a druggy short of a quick fix.

    Coal is in terminal decline they say, no investors in their right mind will touch it, wind and solar have already won the race.

    Next minute the transition isn’t quick enough and the Federal govt is lying when it says we will meet our Paris commitment.

    Heaven knows why anybody having said they have won the race would be so hell bent on tweeting about renewables 24/7 over the Christmas break.

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