2011-03-16 15:11:52True Cost of Coal Power
Dana Nuccitelli

They cyborg returns.  I drafted up The True Cost of Coal Power, based on a recent study which examined the full life cycle costs of coal energy.  It was inspired by Gilles, who keeps insisting that fossil fuels are cheap and great.  I think this also couples well with James' zero net carbon post.  It would be good if we could publish one after the other.  Let me know if you have any feedback.

2011-03-16 15:34:44
Glenn Tamblyn


Interesting post. I liked the figures from the EIA. Shows why folks are interested in Natural Gas. And it makes Geothermal look good to as well as Wind. Not so rosy for Solar at this stage.

And you can bet that the hard-numbers people in the power companies understand this sort of data. It's more the politicised commentariate that are pushing other barrows. Perhaps make that observation about Natural Gas and current real world investment behaviour - grounds the piece in what business is doing, not just what the 'guvnmt says'

2011-03-16 15:49:29
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah I was surprised at how expensive they listed concentrated solar thermal.  It's going for around 15 cents per kWh in the real world, so unless half of that is subsidies, something's not adding up.  It was also interesting that natural gas was more expensive than several renewables, though still relatively cheap.  But there have been some recent studies showing that a lot of CO2 is released during the natural gas drilling process, so that might be an artificially low number once you add in the climate effects from that CO2.

2011-03-16 16:50:47
Rob Painting

Glenn - Gubbermint.

Dana - "toaster", not cyborg (you'll need to watch BSG to understand all the quips).

Post - thumby


2011-03-16 20:54:10Thumbs up
John Cook

This goes nicely with James' post, I'm thinking yours Friday morning and James Friday afternoon. Sound good?
2011-03-16 21:27:18


Looks OK.

2011-03-17 02:33:55sounds good
Dana Nuccitelli

Sounds good John.  I can publish mine tomorrow morning in your wee hours.

I added an analogy to eating junk food for every meal at the end of the post, by the way.  And I just read that the EPA has proposed regulating power plant emissions - apparently coal power plants were exempted from the Clean Air Act until 2000, and they've just now released the standards to regulate their air pollution.  So that will help address some of the externalities I discussed in the article, and I added that to the end too.