Monday, November 22, 2010

A Reasonably Bright Idea

Without going into specific details, many alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, geothermal energy for home heating, and the like, are simply not economically feasable, unless you are happy taking a stack of twenties, and burning them slowly one by one. Geothermal systems will take upwards of thirty to forty years or more to break even, after which they will most likely need replacing, and the cycle begins again. Small wind power installations will take several decades to pay for themselves, and solar power installations will suck money from a bank account permanently. If you disagree with this assessment, show me your numbers, and I will dissect them and show you how wrong you are.

The only reason to consider wind or solar is if you cannot get 'municipal' hydro at the property you are trying to service, or if you are truly passionate about 'going green' and are willing to pay up to ten times or more than the going rate for hydro. UNLESS... you take advantage of the microFIT program, where the Ontario Power Authority heavily subsidizes the rates paid for hydro produced by small 'homeowner sized' projects. The subsidies for power produced in this fashion are not what I would consider 'reasonable', but are between five and fifteen times the typical rate of roughly $0.06 per kWh! These mammoth subsidies are what is required to make small ground and roof mounted solar, and wind projects economically justifiable, and move the payoff period from infinity down to a more reasonable decade or so!

Essentially, the biggest proof that solar and wind projects are completely uneconomical at present is the fact that that producers must be provided with MAMMOTH subsidies in order for them to actually see a return on investment. Coal power (as ugly as it is), Hydro, and Nuclear produce electric power for fractions of the cost of wind and solar installations, no matter what the scale.