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The Performance of U.S. Wind and Solar Generating Units

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  • Richard Schmalensee

Abstract

Government subsidies have driven rapid growth in U.S. wind and solar generation. Using data on hourly outputs and prices for 25 wind and nine solar generating plants, some results of those subsidies are studied in detail: the value of these plants' outputs, the variability of output at plant and regional levels, and the variation in performance among plants and regions. Output from solar plants was about 32% more valuable on average than output from wind plants. Output variability differs substantially among plants and, on some dimensions, among regions. Policy implications of high generation when prices are negative and dramatic differences in capacity factors are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Schmalensee, 2013. "The Performance of U.S. Wind and Solar Generating Units," NBER Working Papers 19509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19509
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19509.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hogan, William W, 1992. "Contract Networks for Electric Power Transmission," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 211-242, September.
    2. Joskow, Paul L & Schmalensee, Richard, 1987. "The Performance of Coal-Burning Electric Generating Units in the United States: 1960-1980," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 2(2), pages 85-109, April.
    3. Richard Green and Nicholas Vasilakos, 2012. "Storing Wind for a Rainy Day: What Kind of Electricity Does Denmark Export?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    4. Richard Schmalensee, 2012. "Evaluating Policies to Increase Electricity Generation from Renewable Energy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 6(1), pages 45-64.
    5. Ueckerdt, Falko & Hirth, Lion & Luderer, Gunnar & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2013. "System LCOE: What are the costs of variable renewables?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 61-75.
    6. Lewis, Geoffrey McD., 2010. "Estimating the value of wind energy using electricity locational marginal price," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3221-3231, July.
    7. Lamont, Alan D., 2008. "Assessing the long-term system value of intermittent electric generation technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1208-1231, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bougette, Patrice & Charlier, Christophe, 2015. "Renewable energy, subsidies, and the WTO: Where has the ‘green’ gone?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 407-416.
    2. Lion Hirth, 2015. "The Optimal Share of Variable Renewables: How the Variability of Wind and Solar Power affects their Welfare-optimal Deployment," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    3. Lion Hirth, Falko Ueckerdt, and Ottmar Edenhofer, 2016. "Why Wind Is Not Coal: On the Economics of Electricity Generation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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