Letter: Facts and numbers in the climate change debate

Take in all of the information rather than just cherry picking data

To the Expositor:

Good grief! I write a few lines on how I believe the current rate of technology will continue to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of alternative energy and get back a half-page diatribe of scientific mumbo jumbo and insults, “…ignoring the science for ideological reasons.” (‘Give me numbers, not adjectives,’ July 17, Page 4.) I think it’s pretty clear who has the ideological hang-ups here, and it sure ain’t me. Mr. Desjardins believes no one is addressing the intermittency issue, “and the answer ain’t batteries” 

Well, you want numbers? I’ll give you numbers: “The long-term cost of supplying grid electricity from today’s lithium-ion batteries is falling even faster than expected, making them an increasingly cost-competitive alternative to natural-gas-fired power plants across a number of key energy markets. According to its analysis of public and proprietary data from more than 7,000 projects worldwide, this benchmark LCOE (levelized cost of energy, the cost of a technology delivering energy over its lifespan) for lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 35 percent, to $187 per megawatt-hour, since the first half of 2018. This precipitous decline has outpaced the continuing slide in LCOE for solar PV and onshore and offshore wind power.

“Over the past year, offshore wind saw a 24 percent decline in LCOE to fall below $100 per megawatt-hour, compared to about $220 per megawatt-hour only five years ago. The benchmark LCOE for onshore wind and solar PV fell by 10 percent and 18 percent, respectively, to reach $50 and $57 per megawatt-hour for projects starting construction in early 2019.” (‘Levelized Cost of Energy for Lithium-Ion Batteries Is Plummeting,’ Jeff St. John, March 26, 2019, Bloomberg).

“Globally, on-shore wind schemes are now costing an average of $0.06 per kilowatt hour (kWh), although some schemes are coming in at $0.04 per KwH, while the cost of solar PV is down to $0.10 per KwH. In comparison, the cost of electricity generation based on fossil fuels typically falls in a range of $0.05 to $0.17 per KwH.

“The organization, which has more than 150 member countries, says the cost of generating power from onshore wind has fallen by around 23 percent since 2010 while the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity has fallen by 73 percent in that time. With further price falls expected for these and other green energy options, IRENA says all renewable energy technologies should be competitive on price with fossil fuels by 2020.” (‘Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020, Report Claims,’ Dominic Dudley, January 13, 2018, Forbes.)

Mr. Desjardins appears to be living in his own narrow world of facts, continually reinforcing his own beliefs, and rather aggressively (in verbiage at least) fighting off anyone who questions them. There’s nothing to argue here. You win, I give up.

David Samuels

South Baymouth