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The wind and solar power cost graph

I noticed an interesting post by Willis Eschenbach on WUWT where he presents a scatterplot-type graph of wind and solar power installed capacity per head of population versus the cost of electricity in that same country. The graph data points cover the EU countries, the USA and Australia.


The graph appears to provide strong evidence for the claim that the more wind and solar power you have installed in a country, then the significantly more expensive the electricity.

Using the graph, Willis E predicts that the impact of Obama's recent "Clean Power Plan", which aims to increase the amount of wind and solar power in the USA sevenfold by 2030, would, if implemented, increase the price of US electricity by a factor of 3.6.

One possible application for the graph is to get a feel for how much the price of electricity might go up in Scotland if it became independent in the next few years. If the UK left the EU in the referendum on EU membership scheduled to take place by 2017, that might trigger a new Scottish independence referendum, and the Scottish nationalists might be favourites to win a new referendum. My tentative guess is that an independent Scotland might have an even higher Watts per capita for installed wind and solar power capacity than Germany and Denmark.

Using the following information sources for wind and solar power capacities for the UK and Scotland in 2014:

For the UK:

For Scotland: Wikipedia page "Renewable energy in Scotland"

I make the UK wind and solar capacity in 2014 to be 8486 MW onshore wind, 4501 MW offshore wind, 5377 solar PV, which is a total of 18364 MW. For Scotland the wind and solar power capacity at the end of the third quarter of 2014 was 4921 MW onshore wind, 197 MW offshore wind, 142 MW solar PV , which is a total of 5260 MW.

The population of the UK in 2014 was 64.5968 million and Scotland 5.3476 million. Without Scotland the UK population would be 59.2492 million. [The UK would still be called the UK without Scotland, as Northern Ireland is the critical bit for the idea of the UK. Scotland is the critical bit for the idea of 'Great Britain']

Using these information sources, the wind and solar power Watts per capita figure in 2014 for the UK is 284.3 (slightly higher than the 257 figure in the WUWT blog post), for an independent Scotland 981.7 (actually higher than Germany at 969 and Denmark at 956), and for the UK without Scotland 221.2.

An independent Scotland therefore appears to be in for quite a shock rise in electricity price if it left the UK, and might possibly have to drop wind power if they no longer have the electricity bill payers of England propping it up. On the other hand the Scottish government announced a ban on GM crops a few days ago in Scotland, which suggests that they do favour eco-credentials over economics, and it is possible that an independent Scotland might try to keep the windfarms going for the kudos they imagine it brings.

The UK government has announced in the past few weeks some curbs on the subsidy arrangements for renewable energy. This might lead people to believe that the UK is unlikely to travel much further up the wind and solar power cost graph. Unfortunately there are still plenty of windfarms and possibly solar farms in the pipeline to be built (as a result of the Lib Dems being in charge of DECC), as explained in this Breitbart article:


Re: The wind and solai have a few friendsr power cost graph

i have an easy-going old friend who had 4KW solar panels put on his roof in 2012. The roof faces due east. The salesman told him this was n't a problem as the panels would still get enough sunlight to make plenty of electricity and plenty of money, Living in West Wales with low hours of sunshine, I remarked that I was sceptical
Three years later he reports that he is very pleased with the outcome so much so that on hearing the government is removing all subsidies he said he would have still have had the installation without any subsidy,
However he is coy about letting me see any generation/ payment statements from the electric compamy,
Are there any members of this forum that might have a small solar set up.?
I would be very interested to hear comments and maybe details from the statements.

Re: The wind and solai have a few friendsr power cost graph

They are usually coy about several parts of the equation.

1. How much the installation cost.
2. How much the installation produced.
3. How much of the maintenance they did.
4. The state of the battery.
5. The state of the interconnect..

People who can do an amortization (anyone with Excel should be able to do one... RIGHT?) should be many.
I am not sure how many can use the amortization as a tool for financial analysis.

I get pinged by my mortgage company regularly to refi. I have about 3 years left. They say they can save me $600 / month.

They are telling the truth.

They fail to express the other side of the terms. They might save me $600 / month for the next 3 years, but they will cost me $300 / month for the subsequent 27.

This is why an accountant DOES have standing when discussing global warming.

Re: Friend's solar power economics

In reply to Edward, you can estimate the solar power economics of your friend's location using one of the various online solar power calculator webpages, like this one:


Click on the "Calc by System Size (kWp)" option, then enter your friend's postcode, his roof direction and system size (the default for the latter seems to be 4KW).

The calculator then tells you the "Income from Feed-In Generation Tariff", "Income from exporting energy", "Electricity Saving", "Total Benefit" and "Payback Time". The income figures are based on the subsidy arrangement at the time of writing (12.92p/KWh for generation and 4.85p/KWh for exporting electricity). Your friend is probably on a more generous subsidy arrangement than the current one having taken up solar power in 2012. If there was no solar PV subsidy there would be no income figures, and the only benefit of having the solar PV system would be the electricity saving figure, leading to a substantially longer payback time. I also suspect that if there was no subsidy, then the cost figures for solar PV installation (quoted as £5010 to £7655 for a 4KW system on the calculator webpage) would go up, as in my experience, industries tend to charge more the less busy they are.

There is a government proposal to cut back the feed-in generation subsidy from 12.92p/KWh to 1.63p/KWh for new solar power buyers from January 2016, and the UK Green lobby is currently making a lot of fuss over that.

It doesn't surprise me that your friend acts as though the subsidy is of little importance to him - to admit that it is important would be tantamount to admitting he is some sort of parasite, sponging off the rest of the electricity bill payers. The only owner of a solar PV system in the UK that admits to being a parasite is UKIP's Roger Helmer, but he's only doing that to make a political point.

Re: The wind and solar power cost graph

I noticed that Alex Salmond, the former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, made some comments the other day in an interview about what would constitute the 'trigger events' for a new Scottish independence referendum:


"Mr Salmond’s set of “triggers” that he feels would justify another vote include the UK Government’s failure to keep its “vow” on maximum devolution for Scotland; George Osborne’s refusal to slow the pace of austerity; Britain voting to leave Europe against Scotland’s wishes in 2017; the renewal of Trident against the will of the Scottish people; and the Labour Party failing to make itself electable before 2020."

I assumed in the starting post of the thread that the UK voting to leave the EU would be the only likely trigger event for a new independence referendum for Scotland in the next few years, but with Salmond's list, the SNP could call for a new independence referendum pretty much whenever they want. The last of Salmond's trigger events, the Labour party failing to make itself electable before 2020, is a bit of a cheek as the SNP has contributed significantly to Labour's reduced electability by taking seats away from them in Scotland and also by raising the disturbing prospect of there being a possible future Labour-SNP coalition.

So the scenario where Scotland tries to embark on independence with the millstone of having the world's largest wind and solar power capacity per capita around its neck is more likely than I thought.