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Comparing the Costs of Intermittent and Dispatchable Electricity Generating Technologies

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  • Paul L. Joskow

Abstract

Economic evaluations of alternative electric generating technologies typically rely on comparisons between their expected "levelized cost" per MWh supplied. I demonstrate that this metric is inappropriate for comparing intermittent generating technologies like wind and solar with dispatchable generating technologies like nuclear, gas combined cycle, and coal. It overvalues intermittent generating technologies compared to dispatchable base load generating technologies. It also likely overvalues wind generating technologies compared to solar generating technologies. Integrating differences in production profiles, the associated variations in wholesale market prices of electricity, and life-cycle costs associated with different generating technologies is necessary to provide meaningful comparisons between them.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.3.238
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 238-41

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:238-41

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  1. Timothy D. Mount, Surin Maneevitjit, Alberto J. Lamadrid, Ray D. Zimmerman, and Robert J. Thomas, 2012. "The Hidden System Costs of Wind Generation in a Deregulated Electricity Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
  2. Boccard, Nicolas, 2009. "Capacity factor of wind power realized values vs. estimates," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2679-2688, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S119-S125.
  2. Partridge, Ian, 2013. "Renewable electricity generation in India—A learning rate analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 906-915.
  3. Oskar Lecuyer & Adrien Vogt-Schilb, 2014. "Assessing and Ordering Investment in Polluting Fossil-fueled and Zero-carbon Capital," Working Papers 2014.05, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, revised May 2014.
  4. Grossi, Luigi & Heim, Sven & Waterson, Michael, 2014. "A vision of the European energy future? The impact of the German response to the Fukushima earthquake," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1047, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Jean-Luc Gaffard & Mauro Napoletano, 2012. "Agent-based models and economic policy," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/53r60a8s3ku, Sciences Po.
  6. Wolf-Peter Schill, 2013. "Residual Load, Renewable Surplus Generation and Storage Requirements in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1316, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Tangerås, Thomas, 2012. "A Reexamination of Renewable Electricity Policy in Sweden," Working Paper Series 921, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  8. Edenhofer, Ottmar & Hirth, Lion & Knopf, Brigitte & Pahle, Michael & Schlömer, Steffen & Schmid, Eva & Ueckerdt, Falko, 2013. "On the economics of renewable energy sources," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S12-S23.
  9. Grothe, Oliver & Müsgens, Felix, 2013. "The influence of spatial effects on wind power revenues under direct marketing rules," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 237-247.
  10. Hirth, Lion, 2013. "The market value of variable renewables," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 218-236.
  11. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/53r60a8s3kup1vc9l564igg8g is not listed on IDEAS
  12. del Río, Pablo & Cerdá, Emilio, 2014. "The policy implications of the different interpretations of the cost-effectiveness of renewable electricity support," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 364-372.
  13. Grothe, Oliver & Müsgens, Felix, 2012. "The influence of spatial effects on wind power revenues under direct marketing rules," EWI Working Papers 2012-7, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln.

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