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Our Perspective: New Suburban Solar Projects Part of a Wave of New Projects in Minnesota

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Star Tribune ran a story entitled "New Suburban Solar Projects Part of a Wave of New Projects in Minnesota." The article discusses businesses that claim the solar panels installed at their facilities will offset significant amounts of their electricity use, and will have a three to five year payback periods. Energy issues are complex, and the solar industry has a strong financial interest in only presenting the "sunny" side of their industry without discussing the negative consequences that stem from adding solar to the grid. Unfortunately, the article could have have been more balanced by explaining...

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Despite Massive Wind and Solar Spending, Minnesota Carbon Dioxide Emissions Essentially Flat Since 2012

When lawmakers like Governor Tim Walz and members of the Minnesota House of Representatives call for massively increasing the amount of wind and solar on the grid, they often do so because they claim climate change is an "existential crisis." If these lawmakers truly believe this talking point, though, they wouldn't be advocating for building more wind and solar. This is because Minnesota has seen virtually no decline in annual CO2 emissions since 2012, despite the fact that we have seen wind and solar capacity increase by 50 percent during this time frame, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. The...

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Study Finds Carbon Dioxide Taxes Reduce Industrial Competitiveness: Implications for Minnesota

A newly-released study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that state-level carbon dioxide taxes and pricing schemes harm industrial competitiveness in the jurisdictions they are enacted. This has important implications for Minnesota because manufacturing is the single-largest private-sector component of Minnesota's economy, accounting for $49.2 billion in annual economic activity, which is about 16 percent of Minnesota's total gross domestic product (GDP). The NBER study concludes that enacting a carbon price of $10 per metric ton reduces employment in the regulated region by 2.7 percent, and raises employment in nearby states by 0.8 percent and the effects on...

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Fudging The Numbers: Why Wind and Solar Cost Estimates from Bloomberg New Energy Finance are Almost Certainly Wrong

In March of 2019, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released a public “fact sheet” alleging the cost of electricity generated by wind and solar in Minnesota had reached new record lows, but there is a problem; BNEF refuses to share the assumptions and methodology used to calculate their cost estimates with the public. This begs the question, what are they hiding? Probably a lot. BNEF estimated the unsubsidized levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for wind and solar to be $38 and $60 per megawatt hour, respectively. In contrast, a study by Center of the American Experiment found the cost of new, unsubsidized...

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Washington Post Poll Shows Most People Unwilling to Pay $2 Per Month Tax to Fight Climate Change

While the climate strike and Greta Thunberg may have the limelight this week, the unwavering truth of climate and energy policy remains: people are unwilling to pay the costs associated with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. A recent poll from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation shows that support for reducing carbon dioxide emissions withers under the slightest bit of scrutiny. The poll shows people favor taxing the wealthy to pay for increasing electricity costs, which is pretty much par for the course on every issue, and raising taxes on energy, even if that leads to higher prices. However, when people are asked to...

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Lomborg: The Danger of Climate Doomsayers

It seems climate change activists are always advocating for policies whose costs will exceed the benefits. Minnesota is unique in that it is one of only a few states that have tried to quantify the amount of "damage" caused to society by emitting a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. While I think there are strong arguments as to why the numbers used in Minnesota are unrealistically high, it is noteworthy that our report Doubling Down on Failure found that the cost of reducing one ton of carbon dioxide far outweighed the benefits of doing so, even using the numbers...

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No, Wind Capacity Factors Are Not 50 Percent in Minnesota, And That’s Very Important

Renewable energy advocates in Minnesota often claim that capacity factors for wind, the percentage of electricity generated by a power plant compared to its theoretical output, are sky high in Minnesota, exceeding the 50 percent threshold. Data from the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs show this claim is completely false. As you can see on the map below, there is not a single wind facility in Minnesota that operates above a 50 percent capacity factor.  The results don't get much better as we lower our standards, either. The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the state-wide capacity factor for wind was only 35.9 percent in...

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Doubling Down on Failure Installment Four: Renewable Energy Fails Cost/Benefit Analysis Using Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Social Cost of Carbon

This article is the fourth installment explaining the findings of our new study entitled Doubling Down on Failure, How a 50 percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion. This installment explains how the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions under the Renewable, Short-Term Nuclear, and Long-Term Nuclear would exceed the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) established by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) scenario, is the only scenario that passes this cost-benefit analysis. This post is pretty in the weeds, so the main takeaway is that the costs of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions...

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Minnesota’s Third-Largest Wind Farm is Already Losing Steam: Output Falls 14 percent from 2014 Highs

According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines have operational lifetimes of 20 years, but it appears Xcel Energy's Nobles wind project, the third-largest wind farm in Minnesota, is losing steam after just eight. The graph below was produced using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration plant-level data. It shows the electricity generation of the Nobles wind project, which became operational in 2010, through 2018. You'll notice that electricity generation peaked in 2014, and that generation was about 14 percent lower in 2018, compared to the 2014 production levels. It is important to take note of this decline in electricity production...

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