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Note that the cost per MWh is less than most fossil generation, and far less than the cheapest nuclear (per Lazard’s most recent LCOE analysis).

It’s clear that solar and battery storage can now provide affordable base load power, and can be deployed rapidly (this project is set to turn up in 2022).


LCOE is a poor measure of whether something can deliver baseload power cost effectively because it assumes all MWh are created equal.

What would make it clear whether solar + battery at this proportion is a viable source of baseload power is output volatility figures for a few years of operation (though one year would probably give a reasonable indication).

Tangent: The industry has a metric, availability factor, to describe what proportion of the time a plant can supply energy - but conventionally it only considers maintenance-related downtime and ignores periods where no energy is produced because of lack of 'fuel', giving figures of 99 and 100% availability for wind and solar respectively. That needs to change if we're going to measure whether renewables can provide suitable baseload power. The alternative, capacity factor, doesn't ignore periods of no generation in the same way, but it penalises dispatchable sources for having excess capacity so it's not great either.

Most power plants we use today can't deliver baseload cost effectively if you add in the externalized costs of climate change.

True, and I'd like to see this corrected with carbon pricing ASAP. My point is simply that whether or not intermittent renewables can ever cost-effectively deliver baseload power is still an open question.

Why do you think those costs are less than the existing taxes, or greater than what anyone could pay? Talking about externalities means you have a rough idea of a number, which is not "infinity". What do you think it is?

>Most power plants we use today can't deliver baseload cost effectively if you add in the externalized costs of climate change.

Like it or not tacking on the cost of climate change to power generation is so far from current reality that adding that hypothetical constraint is meaningless. The people making these decisions have real tangible costs that matter right now that they will prioritize in their comparison.

I'm not so sure about this. I wouldn't be surprised to see European countries introducing carbon taxes soon.

A lot less base load would be necessary if the electricity prices varied minute by minute based on the cost to provide it. This is because a great deal of electricity use can be easily time-shifted, but people don't bother doing that because the consumer price is the same 24/7.

What would be even better would be if power-producers and distributors (or, more likely, aggregating intermediaries) made available some APIs that provide real-time data on pricing, sources of power and a degree of "peek a little way into the future" prediction. Then we could build/install devices that take advantage of that data. e.g. A fridge could heuristically trade off power price, next-hour likely pricing, source (maybe I prefer green energy or energy generated 'close by', and am willing to pay some premium; maybe I don't care and just want cheap), internal temperature and local time-of-day usage patterns affecting temperature management. (I chose 'fridge' as the example because its energy consumption can be time-shifted, but only to some degree. Eventually it is going to want to switch on regardless of energy supply conditions.)

On the flipside, appliances (water heating, fridges, cold-rooms, space-heaters,e tc.) should be encouraged to talk back to the suppliers APIs to indicate likely near-future demand, current constraints and demands and so on, so informing the 'grid' with demand data at micro-scale.

I guess this is something like what people might mean when they speak of making the grid 'more intelligent'...

Ironically this is one problem which is incredibly well suited to a market based solution, but the lobby groups which typically advocated for "let the market decide" (e.g. heritage/CATO/Americans for prosperity) took a lot of their money from fossil fuel companies. While "let the market decide" was a workable message when fossil fuels were cheaper than renewables, it no longer works for them so they no longer advocate for it, so it's not an idea that is pushed very hard.


It's incredible how the Australian government goes on endlessly about saving money but continues to ignore the fact that renewables are cheaper.

Guess that's the power of political donations

I guess it's not the public money they're trying to save!

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