Building to Net Zero
A report from the U.K.’s Royal Society describes and models how the UK might build out a “net zero” electricity system for Great Britain. “The proposed system would consist of generation entirely from wind and solar sources, with the intermittency backed up only from energy storage and without any use of fossil fuels.”
Great Britain’s Guinea Pigs
The Royal Society, declares Menton, is essentially advocating that each of “GB’s 65 million or so inhabitants shall be made guinea pigs for a system that may or may not work and whose unanticipated costs could be enormous.” If you are thinking no responsible government would ever go down such a road, think again.
The Cost of the System
Don’t bother the Royal Society with the treatment of costs. Costs are perfunctory and thoroughly inadequate:
Ultimate electricity prices to the consumer are not even mentioned. There is brief discussion of how much this system, based on projected costs, would charge as a wholesale price to the grid.
However, there are obvious gaps in that analysis (discussed in my prior post), and one commenter suggests that the Report’s guesstimated costs could be off by as much as a factor of ten.
The UK Needs to Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
Unlike the authors of the UK’s Royal Society, our Manhattan Contrarian does not begin to claim to know what the costs of this proposed system might be. What Francis Menton does suspect is that it will be “very large, very complex.” His reasoning? It is a system that has never been tried before. As he points out, too many elements are novel and will have to be designed from scratch.
In the real world, things with these characteristics have a way of costing a multiple of what their proponents claim they will cost.
As the Manhattan Contrarian warns readers, if anybody thought that the demonstration project he proposed could be built at reasonable cost to make a profit, then multiple entrepreneurs would already be building these things.
Meanwhile the costs are buried so no one can figure them out. We have a desperate need for a real demonstration project. UK, you are the one to do it!
Garbage In/Garbage Out
A paean to Horse Manure by a Manhattan Contrarian acolyte:
The government gives low-ball cost estimates to the academics …
The academics use those estimates in a study …
The study feeds back to the government for policy-making.
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