I did calculation based on my real power bill once: http://www.fotothing.com/photos/92d/92d ... 17_5c6.jpg
Row 4 there is renewable (mostly wind energy), row 5 oil shale energy tariff. Renewable energy was more than 11 times costlier on the real bill. For me solar 14 times costlier than coal sounds about right.
Well there is your answer. It's not the metrics of renewables that are at fault it's your utility company, or perhaps your government, or perhaps both. They obviously don't want to be bothered with it. So what better way to get the government off their back than to send waves of unsatisfied (ripped off) customers to their doors? Smart business on their part but not very forward thinking.
No lets look at reality. My utility company offers wind and solar mix as an option for a premium of $0.017 per KWH over the price of their conventionally generated product (mostly coal and nuclear). It's voluntary and scaleable. You can select how many KWH per month you want from none up to a max of 85% of your total usage.
We have a tiered billing system, first tier is about $0.12 per KWH (with taxes and all) Second tier is $0.15 per KWH. Third tier is a bigger jump up to $0.193.
So I opted for the max 85% on utility generated solar + wind. Plus I have a small grid tie solar system with the goal of keeping me in tier 1 for what I Import (purchase from the utility).
The onsite solar produces an average of 300 KWH per month. Which keeps me in tier 1, even with the electric car charging all done at home. So here are the numbers with and without any renewables for 720 KWH per month.
720 total KWH used - 450 Kwh x $0.12/Kwh = $54.00 + ( 270 Kwh X $0.15/Kwh = $40) = $94.00 per month
Maximum renewables: (remember the 1.7 cent surplus added to 85% the power purchased)
720 total KWh used - .85 x 420 Kwh = 357 Kwh: we have (357 Kwh x $0.137/Kwh) + (63 Kwh x $0.12/Kwh) = $56.47 per month + 300 Kwh made on site.
Now one must consider the cost of the onsite infrastructure to produce the 300 Kwh per month. $37.53 per month is available from the above calculations to make payments on it. The system cost me $6832.00 to install giving about a 15 year payback on the investment. Mind you that's assuming the electric rates don't rise over that time. As they do (we know they will by ~8% per year (past history)) the payback shortens because onsite production costs are fixed. Now add in the federal tax credit (30% of installation cost) and the system pays for itself in a maximum of 10 years (with flat utility rates from our power company right . . . that will happen
). The shortest warranty on any of the equipment is 15 years. So with history as a guide on rising electricity rates I stand to make up to a ~10% return on my investment over the first 15 years. A safe investment (based on warranties and insurance (needed anyway) to cover most possible damage to the system. It's far and away the best paying high safety investment that I can find.
Given it is sunny here with a latitude of about 35-36 but the system still produces half of an average sunny days power on a completely overcast rainy day. No longer a Great investment but still not a bad one.
Start to consider that we have no way to safely (let alone economically viable) store or dispose of nuclear waste. That Global climate change due to the massive amount of carbon we have released into the atmosphere and oceans is probably real and a real concern. That fracking for gas and oil is destabilizing strata and at the root of recent 1000 fold increases in seismic events in some areas.
Solar energy and wind energy are not your villains. Corruption and profiteering are!
Renewable energy (especially solar) is not a be all end all to a cleaner power solution, it's a part of it. Just as our current and past energy supplies have been multifaceted, not just one source ever!
Bottom line a US utility kept mostly honest by the PRC says that their solar and wind power is ~13% more expensive than conventional.