Yesterday’s post at MasterResource described the failure of the 81st Texas Legislature (aka the “solar session”) to enact a new renewables mandate. Other big news is the rejection of an initial renewable (read solar, biomass) mandate by the Florida Legislature, as well as a sweetheart deal desired by Florida Power & Light (FPL). Nuclear and offshore drilling also came into play in the legislative debate as tie-in’s in the political environment.
All this is instructive for the current federal push for a National Electricity Standard (NES). Florida would be a loser in any national NES–especially given the prohibitive cost of converting sunshine into electricity in any sort of a major way. The age-old promises of solar breakthroughs are a mirage, and Enron’s 1994 contrived Solarex splash should not be forgotten.
Solar hyberbole is decades old. Inevitably, every few months there are fresh headlines about significant cost reductions, insinuating that the competitive moment of solar panels is arriving. In a recent post at Climate Progress, for example, Joe Romm reports: “Solar prices set to fall by up to 40 per cent by year end.” Google “solar” and “advances” to see what you get for previous years and even decades!
But fossil-fuel technologies have advanced too, and the competitive gap between solar and hydrocarbons for generating electricity remains huge. DOE Secretary Stephen Chu told the New York Times recently that solar technology will have to get five times better than it is today to be part of the energy transformation that he and other alarmists think is necessary.
Why is “free” energy from the sun so expensive?…