Even though a new solar plant would turn a modest profit, utilities have no reason to build them because adding solar to the grid hurts the profits of their existing plants by a disproportionate amount. Unlike fossil power, the sun does not get more expensive during peak times of demand, and this has been shown to drive down spot prices and cut or eliminate the profits of existing peaker plants. This is partly an effect of the fixed-price subsidized power purchase agreements that solar farms are using now, but those agreements are designed to ensure utilities will even buy the solar energy at all, rather than exploit their existing plants.
Clean energy is approaching (and in some places has already reached) grid price parity even *without* rate or tax subsidies. Remember this is competing against the fossil industry, which is subsidized directly and indirectly to the tune of $5.2 trillion per year globally. When we finally put a price on carbon to reflect the harm fossil fuels do to public health and the environment, there will be no contest and only then utilities will voluntarily replace fossil plants en masse.
A rapid transition to clean energy would result in massive stranded assets, but in the end would mean far less of our GDP going to energy, pollution, and health care, and letting us invest in things like food, water, and education. Some utilities are forward-thinking, but most will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future by regulators--and the regulators can only achieve this if they have the social and political mandate to create a clean energy future. This is why I say that *large scale change* is only possible if significant changes in the social and political landscape occur.
I heartily support the construction of all nuclear plants that have an competitive lifecycle cost. I'm sure they will a fill a niche in the market that the currently endless flood of solar, wind, and grid-storage bids at a quarter the cost cannot possibly fill.
Sarcasm aside, take a look at some of the recent studies showing how to decarbonize electricity production in the next 20 to 40 years with no new research, and coincidentally, very little new nuclear capacity. The ONLY barriers are social and political--even now the economics are so compelling that every call for projects solicits more than regulators and utilities want to accept. In another 2-5 years, battery tech will invalidate every last excuse they have been using to discourage wind and solar, and the fuel-free future will finally take off.
"Work harder! Millionaires are dependent on YOU!"
You can't "invent" cheaper tech--it only gets cheaper if you invest in mass-producing it. They gave up 3 years ago, and since then market forces have actually achieved price parity for renewables in a lot of the world. It wasn't any new "magic bullet" research that did it, but incremental improvements driven by economies of scale. Yes, government played a big role, but primarily as a driver of demand and investor in manufacturing.
The climate does not have time to wait for a new technology to be developed and go through the whole sequence of commercialization and commoditization. The solar panels, wind turbines and batteries we already have can do the job--and the more we build, the cheaper they get.. This is one place I wish market purists would get on board--put a price on carbon, and solutions will come out of the woodwork and plummet in price.
"They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view."
What are they smoking? The NFL will go PPV, ASAP.
And as soon as they do, the rest of America will cancel the cable bundles they only pay out the nose for because of the live sports channels, where PPV fees are the straw that breaks the camel's back. The entire cable industry will collapse overnight, and the vacuum in the ISP market will be filled by startups and municipalities with gigabit fiber and competitive pricing. Then the under-served talent in America will finally be productive and solve global warming, and all the polar bears will have yachts and Whole Foods will solve world hunger by giving everyone veggie burgers.
Yup, sounds like the FCC made a good decision to me.
"We want to create puppets that pull their own strings." -- Ann Marion "Would this make them Marionettes?" -- Jeff Daiell