Tyndmyr wrote:Oh, bother, I did misread that. Yeah, initial costs higher, overall costs, still higher, but not so much as initial costs.
Both wind and hydro are location specific, and current prices are based on selecting locations that are reasonably optimized for them. Solar, to some degree, also suffers from this. In some locations, they compare decently well, but other areas, they just don't.
That's part of why a hybrid strategy is ideal, and why nukes almost certainly have to be part of that. Another part is the daily load. Solar is more suited towards peak load, whereas nuclear is better for base load. Blending strategies mitigates downsides.
Oh, I fully agree, and the more nuclear the better as far as I am concerned. That being said, I suspect within a year or so, definitely within a decade, we will have practical, high density, ultra-long life batteries that are suitable for 24-7 house hold solar installations. Furthermore, that the complete system will cost less to install (inflation adjusted) than a current solar without battery system.
I would also say, that within the same time frame, solar will be economically competitive with combined cycle natural gas in any environment in the US, excluding Alaska (and a few cities with exceptionally high cloud cover).
That's it for predictions. Now, on why solar is already cheaper: Right now, Carbon emissions are an externality. They are produced by power plants, but the effects are general, and no one pays for them. Therefore they induce a tax burden, right now being seen in the form of increased disaster relief costs and things like shoring up coastal cities.
Solar generation does not have such externalities. Therefore, since there is no long term burden to the general public, they save tax money. Said tax money is therefore logically used to subsidize solar, which, if you examine the EIA numbers, is already sufficient to offset the cost difference. And this is not truly a subsidy, it is instead a refund of the amount they don't cost taxpayers to deal with Carbon. The alternative approach is to increase the cost of carbon based generation, which is mostly done by either adding a carbon tax, or by requiring expensive carbon capture systems, which are, again, sufficient to drive the cost above solar (again, per EIA numbers).