Climate Change

What Would It Take To Reach Biden's Carbon-Free Electric Power Goal by 2035?

Parsing technology trends, policy proposals, and clean tax cuts

|

President Joe Biden pledged on January 27 to conjure "a carbon pollution–free electricity sector" into existence "no later than 2035." What would that involve?

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. electric power sector generated 4,127 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2019. Of that, 38.4 percent was produced from natural gas, 23.4 percent from coal, 19.6 percent from nuclear, 7.1 percent from wind, 7.0 percent from hydropower, 1.7 percent from solar power, and 2.8 percent from miscellaneous sources.

How many power generation units does it take to generate that electricity? The country has 668 coal-fired units (producing 20.8 percent of America's summer capacity), 6,020 gas-fired units (43.4 percent of summer capacity), 96 nuclear units (8.9 percent of summer capacity), 4,014 hydropower units (7.3 percent of summer capacity), and 1,345 wind power units (9.5 percent of summer capacity), and around 2,500 utility-scale solar power production systems. Small and utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation combined amounts to 5.6 percent of summer capacity.

Non-fossil-fuel energy amounts to 31.3 percent of America's available capacity; wind and solar account for 15.1 percent. But wind and solar produced only 8.8 percent of power actually generated, indicating that wind and solar generate power at roughly half their rated capacities. After all, the wind does not always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.

What do those figures imply about Biden's goal of achieving a carbon-free energy sector in a decade and a half? The current fleet of 96 nuclear power plants now generates 19.6 percent of U.S. electricity. This suggests that it would take about 290 new nuclear plants to replace the 62 percent of current power generated by burning coal and natural gas. That's about 20 new nuclear plants per year from now until 2035. Due to excessive regulation, the costs of the only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the U.S. have now exceeded $25 billion. Based on that figure, building 290 such plants would cost a bit over $3.6 trillion.

What about using only renewable power instead? Since most hydropower sites are already occupied, let's look only at how much wind and solar capacity it would take to replace the power generated now using fossil fuels. Right now, 104 gigawatts of wind power and 36 gigawatts of solar power generation-rated capacity are installed. The EIA estimates that 12.2 and 15.4 gigawatts of additional wind and solar generation capacity, respectively, will be constructed in 2021. Generously assuming that the new plants would generate about half of their rated capacities, it would at that rate take about 50 years for these renewable sources to completely replace the U.S.'s current fleet of fossil fuel generation plants.

But let's assume that that the rate of renewable power installation can be more than tripled. How much would it cost to replace 791 gigawatts of fossil fuel generation capacity with the same amount of renewable power-rated generation capacity by 2035? American Electric Power plans to spend $2 billion building 1,500 megawatts of wind generation in Oklahoma over the next two years. Using that figure yields an estimated cost of just over $1 trillion, which more than doubles to at least $2 trillion when taking into account the actual capacity factors of intermittent renewable sources of energy.

Those rough calculations assume that the costs of renewable sources of energy remain steady for the next 15 years. That seems unlikely. The costs for both wind and solar power have fallen steeply and steadily over the past decade. Researchers at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) project that the costs for wind and solar power will further decline by 45 and 55 percent, respectively, by 2030.

Back in June, researchers at Berkeley's Center for Environmental Public Policy outlined a plan for getting the U.S. to 90 percent carbon-free electricity nationwide by 2035. Incorporating predicted future declines in the cost of wind and solar power into their analysis, they suggest that carbon-free electricity could be achieved by doubling U.S. solar and wind annual deployments through the 2020s, then tripling the historical maximum rates of installation in the 2030s. As evidence that such a rollout of energy infrastructure could be done, they point to natural gas power plant deployment rates over the past decade: U.S. natural gas summer generating capacity stood at 95 gigawatts in 2000, and has now quintupled to a level of 477 gigawatts.

The Berkeley researchers estimate that this plan would cost $1.7 trillion. They would keep some natural gas plants to back up periodic shortfalls in renewable power production, but they expect that we would burn less than 70 percent of the natural gas we currently use.

As the Berkeley researchers point out, getting to 90 percent renewable electricity would require some regulations as well as subsidies. But it's worth noting that they expect 55 percent of U.S. electricity to be generated by wind and solar power by 2035 even without their preferred policies, just from steeply falling costs.

Transitioning to low- and no-carbon dioxide energy sources is one way to address man-made climate change. Some market-oriented policy wonks have proposed that we finance that transition through tech- and pollutant-neutral "clean tax cuts" (CTCs). These would directly target technology constraints and accelerate capital flows to clean innovations by lowering marginal tax rates on investments that significantly reduce or eliminate pollution, such as carbon dioxide emissions. As Jigar Shah and Rod Richardson explained in Reason,

Tax-exempt private Clean Asset Bonds & Loans (CABLs) apply a supply-side tax cut directly to financial leverage. They would allow projects deploying qualifying pollution-reducing technologies to acquire tax-free debt. Tax-free interest would reduce the interest rate by about 30 percent.

CABLs also leverage up return on equity. They attract every kind of investor to both the tax-exempt debt and the taxable equity. Easier to use and more broadly attractive than tax equity, CABLs allow low cost innovators to expand faster. Far more cost effective than conventional subsidies, they give up tax revenue where it is low (the average return on debt in the U.S. is 4 percent) and harvest it where it is high (the average return on equity is 13.6 percent). If we assume those returns for a new business financed with 50 percent CABLs, 50 percent taxable equity, then the IRS would take in 340 percent more tax revenue on equity profits than they forgo on the tax-exempt debt.

Unlike conventional subsidies, CTCs (including CABLs) create incentives for competition, innovation, and popular participation. They give an advantage to competitive markets, increase the incentives to open markets, and let investment flow from all kinds of investors, large and small.

It should be technologically possible to greatly reduce the power sector's carbon emissions over the next 15 years. CTCs would be a much better—and cheaper—strategy than top-down mandates.

NEXT: Instead of Lifting Trump's Tariffs, Biden Is Imposing More of Them

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Hey, felt I should notify the commentariat… The city is operating a woodchipper operating in front of my house today.

    1. Was there a Gadsen Flag on the side of the woodchipper?

      1. I’m pretty sure it had a Reason logo on it.

        1. I am now making extra $19k or more every month from home by doing very simple and easy job online from home. I have received exactly $20845 last month from this home job.Cms Join now this job and start making extra cash online by follow instruction on the given website..

          ======== New Income Opportunities

          1. Every month easily makes more than $15k just by doing very simple home based job. Last month ihave received $16834 from this online job BCvr just by doing this in my part time for only 2 hrs maximum a day…..Click this link For Full Detail…..CLASSIFIED REAL JOBS

            1. {USA PEOPLE ONLY ]
              By following this simple steps on this website, you can bring from
              $5000-$8000 of extra income every month…
              All you need is a computer and a internet connection and you are ready to start.
              Learn how to make a steady ngal income for yourself on following web adress.for more info visit any tab this site Thanks a lot.

              open this link………EARNING SEASON ON

    2. ‘People! Soylent Green Energy is People!’ -Detective Thorn

      1. that movie is so depressing I haven’t watched it since it opened in theaters.

    3. Were they feeding it politburo types or just other stiffs?

  2. What would it take? It would take an immediate switch to nuclear. Meaning we need to start construction on plants now. Meaning it’s not going to happen because there is no political will to build any new plants. Meaning it’s just hollow words from Biden.

    1. Since he’ll likely be dead by then what would it matter?

      1. Don’t forget Zombie Biden. Harris as the necromantic circle to do it, and she’ll keep him in the closet.

        1. We may have to gather a Walking Dead posse to settle it with Zombie Biden and his Kween.

      2. I thought he was already dead now, just propped up a bit.

    2. Totally agree – nuclear power is the only non-fossil fuel alternative that can provide reliable power on the scale needed. Of course, they don’t want that either. I guess they are waiting for the unobtainium-fueled power plant, which creates unlimited power with no down side. Of course, the real purpose of the so-called climate change “emergency” is to handsomely reward Biden’s political allies who have positioned themselves to make billions off of federal “emergency” spending.

      1. It’s cool, we actually have an unobtanium based reactor technology. Not that they would admit it:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYxlpeJEKmw&lc=Ugh2owKjfchudngCoAEC

        1. Thorium reactors are promising, but it is not “technology”, yet. Further engineering and development is required.
          Biden’s buddy Xi has top people working on it.

          1. >>Due to excessive regulation, the costs of the only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the U.S. have now exceeded $25 billion. Based on that figure, building 290 such plants would cost a bit over $3.6 trillion

            Small modular nuclear reactors show a lot of promise and will likely be in the market place in a few years.

            https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/small-modular-nuclear-reactors

        2. I have a question. Is unobtanium hard to obtain?

          1. No, but you have to go to 405 East 42nd Street in New York city.

    3. I expect there is great political will on the Democrat’s side to never build another nuclear plant again. They are lying to themselves on what can be done with wind and solar and think politicians saying “”make it so ” on those will be sufficient to make it a reality despite evidence to the contrary.

      1. I think you can at least get rid of all the coal use by 2035 by moving to natural gas and renewables. Then you can transition from the natural gas to renewables and any new nuclear capacity. I know that fossil fuel stock holders won’t acknowledge this but renewable prices continue to go down and battery tech continues to improve.

        Coal is expensive to clean up (not worth it) and creates a lot of small particulate which has major health costs. Coal stinks.

        1. There is no battery fairy.

        2. I would like to see someone address the enormous disposal and recycling costs that are going to occur when the turbines, the solar panels and batteries reach end of life. We are talking megatons.

  3. Simple; due to the COVID emergency, all reviews and regulations on nuclear power plants are lifted until all mask mandates have been removed.
    That should get about 100 built.

    1. Whatever shortfall may exist at that time, will be met by shutting down all power to the homes of registered democrats, starting with all in elected positions, then in descending order of income.

      For the children.

      1. Roaming brownouts like those in California will be a coming attraction to everyone’s neighborhood soon. But as you said, it’s for the children.

        1. ^THIS. EU Energy Crisis and CA are ‘observations’ of the ‘science’ presented. Funny how the very processes of science turns into [WE] mobs of religious affiliation and Gov-Gun power to inflict [WE] mob religion as well as the Power to Steal.

  4. Well 2035 seems way too optimistic, but even if it’s 2053, we know what it will take, because California is already the public service ads on TV:

    Please don’t use electricity at night, because the sun is off.

    I kid you not. The ad is even kid friendly so they will nag their parents on behalf of the state.

    1. https://www.energyupgradeca.org/time-of-use/

      Let’s harness the power of California’s abundant wind and solar energy. But when demand goes up, clean energy availability goes down. It’s on us to use less energy from 4-9PM and Keep it Golden.

      1. So don’t use electricity during waking hours at home……. you can’t make this shit up.

      2. whats silly is they keep telling us when to not use energy which forces everyone to use the same time frame to get anything done thus overloading the overloaded system. Also when the hell are parents supposed to do laundry they can’t do it while they are at work so yes it must get done in the evening. California energy board or whoever runs this shit show are as dumb as post but most in charge probably don’t wash their own cloth or dishes they have immigrants to do that

        1. And they will tell us it’s just as good as non-Green energy (except you have to cut back when you want to use it), and will create jobs (although it will destroy far more), and it’s good for the environment (despite the mining done for rare Earth minerals).

        2. What if one parent does not work outside the home? That might make this goal more attainable. But which parent?

          1. Sure, but if you live in a climate where it’s either really really hot or really really cold during those hours, then energy needs are required to offset things like death.

  5. The solution is simple: If humans cause warming, the best thing we can do for the environment is kill the children.

    #FollowtheScience

    1. Well there was that Irish man who wrote a book about eating babies during the potatoe famine, so its not a new idea. And yes i purposely spell potatoe with an “E”

    2. 300,000 a year so far – – – – – – – – – –

      More now that Joe has allowed tax funding, and tax dollars for an overseas branch.

  6. >>What would that involve?

    a Dungeonmaster

  7. How long do we have before the apocalypse?

    1. Didn’t you notice, the apocalypse has already happened.

  8. With the number of gas fired combined cycle plants installed now and plentiful natural gas, I’d say chance of hitting that target is near zero before 2050.

    Put another way, 30 years ago coal was over 50% baseload generation. Now it’s less than 20%. Do the math.

    1. There’s some evidence we would have had a lot more nukes, except fracking was discovered so natural gas became dirt cheap. Crowded out the bureaucratically expensive nuclear.

      1. Everyone already died because of the repeal of net neutrality.

        1. Welp, that was supposed to be a reply to your “apocalypse” comment above.

          1. The squirrels now get $15.00/hr, so the work has to improve.

    2. I predict an increase in coal usage. With the ban on new gas extraction on public lands it will swing the cost balance in favor of coal. I’m guessing Biden got some sweet payola from what is left of the coal lobby and the gas ban was a payout to the coal industry that looked like a green move on the surface. Just a wild ass guess.

  9. Saying renewables only produce half their rated capacity is useless. Solar varies by season, partly from the winter tilt and short days meaning less light even when not overcast. What really matters is how long a spell they provide no power, because that’s when you need old-fashioned fossil fuel or nuclear power as a backup. If it’s overcast and light winds for a week, that’s a full week of reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power.

    1. That’s what half their rated capacity means. They can’t produce their rated capacity, so you estimate down to only 50%.

      And outside of the Portland Perpetual Precipitation Zone, that’s a reasonable estimate.

      1. Rated capacity is meaningless because it is an average. It implies to the unaware that it runs at half capacity all the time, or full capacity half the time, and that you just need twice as many to make up for it. That is wrong and misleading. Not only do you need backup fro night time, you also have to allow for several days or weeks in a row with zero output.

        In addition, half capacity itself is wrong, because the maximum you can get out of solar, even if there was no overcast at all, is 1/3 maximum capacity, because night takes half, and the low angles of morning and evening reduce capacity. And then you have further reductions for overcast skies.

        “Half capacity” is a joke.

        1. Someone stole two tires off my car. It now has half its rated weight carrying capacity.

    2. A few years ago I saw an analysis that determined that at about 16% of the time NEITHER solar or wind would be generating ANY significant amount of electricity. So, on average, one day each week there is no electricity. But, of course, no one can predict when that will happen and it won’t be a nice, neat length of time. So the backup natural gas power stations will be ramping up and down like crazy. I’m sure that reduces their life due to thermal stress.

  10. There are many paths to zero carbon power. I personalty want to see a nuclear backbone, and the cost will go down with scale. But the first, number one step, is to not build any more fossil fuel infrastructure or plants.

    1. Anyone who is serious about a carbon free future needs to be backing nuclear power, or they’re just blowing patchouli up their collective asses.

        1. Keep it up, ML. I appreciate your tenacity.

          1. Agreed

        2. I like how you just copied bignose’s comment directly.

          1. No he didn’t and you refusing to answer says volumes about your integrity given how much sh*t you were throwing about ML not answering you fast enough.

    2. Nuclear creates radioactive waste that lasts 10,000 years. And is being run by morons, so accidents are certain to occur.

      Tidal power would be the way to go, but California environmentalists would nuke that idea for the same reasons they nuke desalination plants and nuke nuke plants.

      1. tidal power wouldn’t be enough without a massive installations that would dwarf the cost of nuclear. And why blame California when they could be built off the coast of twenty other states?

      2. And is being run by morons, so accidents are certain to occur.

        So your resume and future job options include running nuclear power plants? Or you just pretend to on the internet while lying about others?

      3. You just displayed your ignorance. Nuclear power in the US and elsewhere around the globe has been the safest power source, except Chernobyl which, by the way, was run by morons. The Japanese plant was destroyed by a combination of earthquakes and tidal waves. No one was killed in that incident. The one incident here in the US killed no one. There have been many proposals, good ones, for storing the nuclear waste but all were blocked by green activists.

  11. “What Would It Take To Reach Biden’s Carbon-Free Electric Power Goal by 2035?”

    The Democrats would need to stuff the ballot box in 2022 and 2024.

    1. so you’re saying he’ll reach his goal.

  12. IN what appears to be a massive trolling operation by the Biden administration, Pamela Karan was just appointed to the justice department. This is the hack that laughably was on the Facebook Adjudication board for… impartiality.

    El oh fucking el.

    1. Pamela Karlan*

      Sorry, typo, however, Karan works well too.

    2. It may be trolling, but if the Republicans in the Senate are looking for an appointment battle they can win with the general public, this is probably it. If Biden and the Democrats want to break the filibuster over forcing Facebook scoundrels into positions of authority at the Justice Department, that would be better than Biden and the Democrats breaking the filibuster over some issue that more swing voters will get behind.

  13. sounds cheap compared to what our government spends on a regular basis now. that said all those cost does not figure in the destruction of lands in order to mine the materials needed not just to build the infrastructure but the equipment alone to build that infrastructure. you would literraly have to destroy the planet to save the planet in the time frames they propose.

    1. and to be sure we would all be employed until they are done and then there would be massive layoffs and economic crash unseen in history. but thats okay

  14. What Would It Take To Reach Biden’s Carbon-Free Electric Power Goal by 2035?

    Bicycles. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep peddling that thing, your betters are planning on running the air conditioning tonight.

    1. only if they hook up all those Pelotons to the grid.

    2. And Mao jackets

      And Uber replaced by Republicans pulling rickshaws

  15. It would take 2 trillion go fuck yourselves.

  16. You want the US to ‘go green’ by 2035? Here is the plan. Shut down 10% of petroleum production and 10% of natural gas production each year between now and 2030 and for 2023 100% pf all coal production. Also for each year increase the road tax on all hydrocarbon derive motor fuel. But that is not all. For a person to be able to buy a hydrocarbon fueled vehicle a person would have to have a waver form the EPA and would have to prove that they needed that type vehicle. Each year it would be harder to qualify for that waver. That waver would have to be proved for each hydrocarbon fueled vehicle to be purchased or received as a gift.
    Now because of the shut down of petroleum by 2030 the price of this type of motor fuel would naturally increase in cost causing it to be less favored. In the end the transportation industry would be switched to electric with the exception of air transportation which may take some longer. BTW each year between now imports of hydrocarbon fueled vehicles would be reduced by 10% each year until there would be nothing imported that is powered by hydrocarbon fuel.
    I dare say that US industry would kick in gear and meet the challenge to meet the demand of EV and even of electric which will have to increase multifold to power all of the EV, trains, trucks and agriculture power equipment.

    1. What makes the you think the voters will sit on their hands and breathe through their noses while the government forces them to squander their discretionary income on taxes and increased energy costs?

      You know there’s a midterm election in two years, right?

      1. Maybe – – – – – – – –

      2. What makes the you think the voters will sit on their hands and breathe through their noses while the government forces them to squander their discretionary income on taxes and increased energy costs?

        Um…..the response to the lockdowns?

    2. I dare say there would be some pushback against hare brained schemes like this. No offense to actual hares.

    3. “You want the US to ‘go green’ by 2035? Here is the plan…”

      Yep, here’s a plan from a fucking lefty ignoramus who obviously believes “herstory” began on the inauguration of droolin’ Joe.
      Hint, slaver: Central planning never works.

    4. So, there are roughly 115 million automobiles registered in the US. Currently only 840 thousand are plug in electric. So your solution would require that by 2035 we have in place sufficient electrical generation capacity to fuel at a minimum 114 million plug in automobiles being driven 1.4 trillion miles per year at an electrical usage of 3.1 miles/kwh; and an additional 3.9 million class 8 semi trucks driving 139 Billion miles per year using 2 kwh per mile: and another 33 million additional commercial trucks driving another 200 billion miles at 1.3 kwh per mile. That roughs out to an additional 1.4 trillion kwh of energy needed just to power the current number of cars and trucks on the roads in the US. That’s over one fourth of the total electricity production of the entire country today. If you’re gonna make any progress on climate change, all that new electrical generation will have to come from wind, solar, geothermal or hydro – since nobody wants to talk about four hundred new nuke plants and even if we did, the first one put on the drawing board would not go inline before 2045 under the current regulatory scheme. So you will need to literally cover all the wild country in the US with wind farms and solar panels if you want to put us all in electric vehicles. In addition, you will need to ramp up mining for the billions of tons of limestone needed to make the concrete used in anchoring the towers and setting the panels. You will need to get China to hire several tens of millions of children to mine the rare earth minerals necessary for the control systems and solar panels you will be using to cover up the States of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Oh, and don’t forget the copper mines necessary to build the power lines that will be piled like spaghetti across the viewscapes of what used to be the Western United States of America. Ya better get crackin.

  17. Wind turbines produce energy but not capacity. A typical capacity factor for a wind turbine in my area is 25-30% of name plate and you have little idea when you will actually get the energy and how much you will actually get. What we do know is that wind generates its maximum in the spring and fall, when loads are moderate, and wind power often goes to zero in very hot or very cold weather. In addition, wind is not scaleable. One wind turbine producing nothing on a calm day can not be mitigated by building ten more in the same location. In my opinion, if we don’t consider more and better nukes, we really are not serious about climate change.

  18. Congress should set an example and require all members to bike to D.C. and back home. When they get too old to make it by bike, then they have to quit.

  19. Bailey, and much of the commentariat, are looking at this as a supply-side problem. Think of it as a demand-side problem instead. For example, what do you think Venezuela’s per capita electric power generation is? Apply that to the US population estimate in 2035 and see how much power generation that takes.

    You think I’m kidding.

    1. We are going to turn off half of the supply and you are going to like it.

    2. With unlimited immigration, the demand side for energy will go up

  20. Have you seen the satelitte images of North Korea at night?
    Of course, more than DC will need to be lit. Manhattan, Silicon Valley, Hollywood will also look like Pyongyang while the rest of the country is dark

  21. You didn’t mention storage for the wind and solar electrical production. Doesn’t that increase the cost A LOT?

  22. Bailey mentioned in his article that the US generated 4,127 TW-Hr of electricity in 2019. Total. From everything between natural gas plants to nukes. Some comparison to other countries’ electric power generation may be instructive. Like China. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_China

    From the wiki, we see that China generated 4,859 TW-Hr over the same period. From Coal. Add natural gas for another 250.5 Tw-Hr. Think they’re getting rid of those?

    It’s treason. The deliberate crippling of the United States at the behest of a foreign power.

    1. If China and India don’t move away from coal, it doesn’t matter if the US eliminates all fossil fuel use. It won’t be enough to offset the what they’re doing over there.

      But that’s not an excuse to not move to next-generation nuclear. Fuck the science deniers who don’t want it no matter what. As the Reverend might say, progress will be rammed down their throats.

      And I’m pretty sure we’ll have fusion energy in the not too distant future. Hopefully China, not wanting to be left behind like the Reverned’s backward flock, will make the move to modern fission and future fusion, too.

      1. It also doesn’t matter what China and India do.
        The climate is on a 100,000(ish) year cycle. We are in an intertglacial that started about 12,000 years ago, which is the demarcation between the Pleistocene and the Holocene Epochs. 12,000 years ago, so much water was in ice that Boston was under 2Km of glacier, and sea levels were 120 feet lower than today; this left a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska 1,000 mles wide, across which the original settlers of the Americas migrated, possibly following game.
        To start looking at temperature records 300 or 400 years ago is fudging the data. If you look at data over 800,000-1,000,000 years, you’ll see a veryregular pattern, every 100,00 years or so. Of the past 5 peaks, we’re not even the 3rd hottest, yet. I’m betting the peak temperatures reached in 90,000 BC weren’t due to fossil fuels.
        Look at the rtemperature graph on NASA’s Earth Observatory; of course, they ask “who are you going to believe – us or your own lying eyes?, but the pattern couldn’t be any clearer. The next Ice Age is just about due, and it is for that which we should be preparing. Human Civilization didn’t arise until after the last Ice Age was well over, and it started in the warmer climes.

  23. Of course, these computations are for current electricity usage. Don’t forget that another leg of the GND is to eliminate fossil fuel use in transportation. How much additional electricity would be needed if every car, truck, train, ship, etc. had to recharge off the electric grid?

    1. How different would that look WHEN (not if) roads actually become electricity generators?

      1. “How different would that look WHEN (not if) roads actually become electricity generators?”

        Yeah, figure 100W/mile in good weather with no traffic.
        Man, you are one stupid piece of lefty shit.

        1. Annual mean insolation at the surface, in the US, is ~200 W/m^2. I think they count nighttime hours. Average 2 × 2 Interstate Highway is 3.7 m per lane wide, with 1.2 and 3.0 m wide shoulders. Let’s say they’re all paved with JFree’s miraculous photovoltaic paving system, and let’s say the markings are photovoltaic too. God only knows what a highway mile of that would cost, but work with me.

          Anyway, (3.7 x 2) + 1.2 + 3.0, gives me 11.6 meters of width. Times 1,609 meters per mile, gives me 18,664 m^2 of highway area. Max insolation possible, per mile, on average in the US, is 3,733 kW. About 5,000 horsepower.

          What’s the efficiency of our converter? How’re we getting it to the car? Where’s the excess going? I’d think, if all of the sunlight went to cars, and if documents like this Caltrans freeway study, https://ccag.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/cmp_2005_Appendix_B.pdf

          were accurate with their queuing density numbers, that you could in theory power all cars from the sunlight hitting the road. Assuming they were all EVs, and assuming perfect transmission and collection of power. LOL

          1. Well at least you’re thinking of this as a practical engineering problem. Americans used to be really good at this.

            OK. so now you’ve got those challenges. In particular of getting the electricity to the vehicle. There is of course a solution to that with electric rail. And the aha moment that comes from that is that the electricity doesn’t have to come just from the road. What sorts of things are very near roads that can also be electricity producers/consumers? Give you a hint – you probably live in one.

            All of a sudden you now have the makings of a completely new type of electrical grid that is decentralized, ubiquitous, and where producers can be consumers can be producers etc.

            Many things will be possible in countries that aren’t utterly constipated in thinking about energy. And countries that have configured everything – their currency itself based indirectly on oil and all construction since WW2 – around fossil energy driven cars are going to be utterly constipated when it comes to energy.

  24. Even better outlaw automobiles entirely and no need to build new roads and bridges. Just mandate everyone have a Star Trek transporter to beam themselves around at will. Amazon can end the delivery trucks and beam you whatever you purchase instantly. All we need is a law to “make it so”

  25. What Would It Take To Destroy the USA and turn it into a Democratic National Socialist (i.e. Nazi) country by 2035?

    Um; National Gov-God Dictators with Gov-Guns proclaiming to be the worlds “savior” while taking the people’s energy market from them?

    1. Biden is a National Gov-Gun God sent to be everyone’s “savior” by enforcing that everyone in the Nation only has access to 1.7% of their current energy while getting a labor-bill they’ll NEVER EVER be able to work off.

      Still the party of slavery.

  26. “….7.1 percent from wind….. 1.7 percent from solar power…”
    So, 2019 = 8.8% from wind and solar.

    “But it’s worth noting that they expect 55 percent of U.S. electricity to be generated by wind and solar power by 2035 even without their preferred policies, just from steeply falling costs.”

    So, just market forces will take the US from 8.8% wind/solar in 2019 to 55% wind/solar in 2035?

    Or spend shitloads of money, pass an ungodly number of laws and regs, and distort so many markets to “try” to get a better number by 2035 (given that wind/solar is only a component of non-carbon)?

    Alex, even though you’re dead, I’ll still take wind/solar by market forces for 55%, please.

    1. The elephant in the room here is that wind and solar take up huge amounts of land. So far, most wind and solar farms are in fly-over country (big surprise!). With some wind planned for offshore that, surprisingly, the greens don’t seem to mind despite the fact that mass offshore wind will kill millions of sea birds and possibly whales (the vibrations they produce could disorient them). Also, the demand for electrification will require battery storage, which despite all the hype, has yet to prove that it will work and will itself require large amounts of toxic metals and other chemicals. All the experts agree that electric bills are going to go way up for everyone to pay for this, but don’t worry, it will be offset by not having to buy gas for your car.

  27. What Would It Take To Reach Biden’s Carbon-Free Electric Power Goal by 2035?

    A miracle!

    1. A miracle and the collapse of US economic power.

  28. Typical politician: promise that something will occur long after he’s out of office.

    1. I was a kid when I remember Jimmy Carter promising an electric car in every driveway and a solar panel on every roof. People got fed up pretty quickly with having to pay more than $1.50 for a gallon of gas and wait in line for hours. 98% of cars in the US still are gas powered, so they’ll be pissed again once they have to pay for this BS.

  29. Solar and wind are a great option, as long as we mandate little or no energy use at night or at other times when production does not meet demand.
    On a household level, that is going to be pretty hard on people who experience harsh winters or summers, and of course it makes storage of things like food and medicine more difficult. People who rely on EVs might be in difficulty when charging at night becomes undependable.
    Commercial and government interests have the same issues and more. It is pretty difficult to schedule a shift at an industrial manufacturing site when you don’t know if the machines will be running, or if the lights will be on. Certainly, there is a whole segment of the economy that allows fresh food to be available almost everywhere, all year, and at low cost. I can’t see this continuing to be a reliable system in our new carbon-free age, at least with current technology.
    Also, out power usage does not take into account additional power requirements from the planned switch to EVs on a large scale, and the conversion of a great many homes and commercial buildings to carbon-free heating systems.

    The sensible thing to do would be to continue to focus research money on new technologies that might enable us to move past all the polluting energy sources that we currently use.
    On the other hand, mandating a switch to nonexistent or unproven technologies, then preemptively starting a shutdown of current systems benefits only our global competitors.

    1. Or maybe plant life actually uses CO2 so the entire ‘plot’ is just a hoax.

      We all know it’s not about weather; because the weather compulsively proves the “climate science” WRONG.

      We all know it’s not about Jacks wheel loader or truck doing little puff, puffs in the middle of the NV desert because that’s gone within 20ft.

      We all know it’s not about saving on energy costs by mountains of proof and the ‘B’ as in Billions wasted on it.

      So; if it’s not for savings, environment, or weather — There’s only one thing it could possibly be about. A Globalist tyrannical authoritarian Regime.

  30. Keep all nuclear plant currently operating running. A couple that recently shutdown could be brought back on-line. Extend operation of these plants to 80- years.

    Restart the AP1000 VC Summer plants that were cancelled in South Carolina. Complete the Bellefonte plant in Alabama.

    I would aggressively plan for about 10 more nuclear plants starting now.

    As much as possible displace coal power generation with natural gas.

  31. Everyone gets to play God with everyone else’s energy sources.. What a cheap thrill to get from such a costly game.

  32. wind and solar account for 15.1 percent. But wind and solar produced only 8.8 percent of power actually generated, indicating that wind and solar generate power at roughly half their rated capacities. After all, the wind does not always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

    This is PR bullshit propagated by either the utilities or fossil fuels sector Ron. Wind and solar generate power at roughly half of their capacity because they are deliberately selected as the marginal producer. Not because they are inherently marginal or variable. In our system of centralized planning of electricity generation – some fuel source has to become the marginal producer to cover the difference between peak load and base load because our system assumes that difference is a given. Nuclear can’t be marginal because it takes months to shut down or ramp up. Fossil can’t be marginal because it takes a huge logistics tail of fuel and the tail cannot adjust quickly. So it is precisely because wind/solar have an inherent ADVANTAGE that they become the marginal producer. And rather than the price of that source being priced as it would be in a competitive market – as the marginal source not have having to cover base/fixed costs – wind/solar incurs all the fixed costs (thousands of miles of transmission lines)

    As usual – every fucking thing that is discussed in the US is just an exercise in stupidity and venality.

    Denmark is rapidly figuring out how to incorporate a new energy source into an old electricity grid system. Once more/bigger countries figure that out – the US dollar (which is like it or not based on oil as primary energy source) will cease to exist as the sole reserve currency. And then the US will become as relevant as Cuba is to the market for new cars.

    1. From lefty shit JFree’s link:

      “A project to build a giant island providing enough energy for three million households has been given the green light by Denmark’s politicians.”
      First, it’s in the ‘planning’ stage and we all know how governments’ predictions of results bare only slight acquaintance to reality.
      And then, the US will only need three or four of them for the NYC metro area, including the infrastructure to connect that, which in spite of JFree’s lies, are not even mentioned in the article.
      You.
      Are.
      STILL.
      Full.
      Of.
      Shit

      1. And the US would need 100 of them to provide wind-electricity and hydrogen for the entire US. Which at $34 billion each turns out to be $3.4 trillion. Which is still a lot of money in my mind. But it’s a lot less than was spent on the Iraq War or last year’s cronyist boondoggle.

        And it completely changes the nature of the energy conversation in this country because this would be entirely about a mere capital spending project – NOT about securing a source of fuel on an ongoing basis. Course since your ‘conversation’ skills are more limited than a poo-flinging monkey, I’m sure you have no idea what that earlier sentence means.

    2. Just be silent. You’re talking nonsense.

      First, nuclear ramps up in hours, not months. Coal and combined-cycle natural gas operate on similar margins. Nuclear is typically run at full blast because there’s no practical difference in cost between idle and full-out.

      Solar and wind cannot be marginal generation because they cannot perform on demand. The wind might stop. The clouds might come in. Renewable power is cheap for the same reason Dollar Store tools are cheap. You cannot rely on them when you need them.

      These days, essentially all peaking power is done with single-cycle natural gas generation. The remainder is done with coal or hydro-power.

      I’m sorry, JFree, but your initial post is just completely divorced form reality.

      1. The only revision I would make to my comment is that wind/solar is what gets turned OFF first. It doesn’t get turned off because the wind chooses that moment to die. It gets turned off because at that moment there is more electricity being produced than being consumed.

        Maye you don’t like my use of the word marginal but that’s what it is. And the issue here re wind/solar is NOT about the source of energy but about the MANAGEMENT of electricity generation/consumption. For reasons I no longer understand, the US is incapable of or unwilling to – think – anymore about some things. Energy being one of those.

  33. Either a massive and unprecedented spree of building new nuclear power plants or de-industrialization of the US back to a state before the start of the industrial revolution, which would require/force massive depopulation.

    Oh, and even if you pick door number 1, we probably can’t build enough new nuclear plants fast enough.

  34. Just as soon as they breed enough unicorns, their farts will take care of everything.

    1. ….. but 10-years ago unicorn farts was the biggest pollution ever! 🙂

  35. In CA. we’re getting TV ads beginning with the assurances that CA has “abundant” solar and wind generating capabilities.
    So “abundant” that the remainder of the ads are spent telling us to please cut usage between this and that time of day.
    Like politicos, the government apparently can’t be charged with false advertising.

  36. You are ignoring storage for renewables. Not only does this at least double the cost and double again the capacity requirements (as you have to charge the storage during downtime), but there is simply not a viable technology on that scale. There isn’t anywhere near enough pumped storage on the planet. There is effectively zero grid-scale battery power for a reason. It’s stupendously expensive, and there isn’t enough lithium on the planet to supply it.

    You are also assuming that the reductions in costs are sustainable and will increase, when material costs are essentially fixed at this point and will only increase with demand. Additionally, you omit maintenance and useful life. The lifespan of a windmill is less than 30 years (sometimes significantly less). Solar panels are 20. Both have serious drop-offs in generation with age. You need to extend this same level of investment ad-infinitum just to maintain this system.

    Finally, you omit the fact that the best wind spots are already taken. As you density increases further and further, you have to go to more and more marginal areas, decreasing efficiency. This is less of a problem with solar, but it is still a factor that needs to be addressed.

    Take the fact that it was an absurdly impractical quote to begin with, and these factors combine to an order of magnitude increase. You aren’t even talking money limitations right now. You are talking physics, material availability, and feasibility. You could not do this with all the money in the world

  37. Now they should look at and calculate the effect this will have on low-income people who will want to hang on to their current cars and cannot afford to buy new electric cars or pay for charging them.
    What would be the cost of electricity?

Please to post comments