Krugman: Fossil fuel externality costs make solar competitive

If solar energy poops in China does Krugman see it?

New York Times Paul Krugman columnist writes that solar is becoming more competitive with fossil fuels, especially considering fossil fuel’s externalities — i.e., effects of fossil fuel pollution.

Fracking — injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels — is an impressive technology. But it’s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads…

And if we priced coal-fired power right, taking into account the huge health and other costs it imposes, it’s likely that we would already have passed that tipping point.

Putting aside freak occurrences like the BP oil spill and coal mine accidents, and the imaginary death toll from ambient air quality and imaginary global warming, highly regulated U.S. fossil fuel production is clean and has few significant externalities.

Also, let’s not overlook solar power’s externalities — like lead emissions in China and China — and whatever Chinese mining must be like. Then Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her anti-energy enviro buddies aren’t fighting solar farms in the desert because they’re impact-free.

Solar power doesn’t necessarily reduce fossil fuel externalities as it must still be backed up by fossil fuel power.

In the end the high costs of solar power simply make people poorer without compensation — that’s an actuality.

Read Krugman’s “Here Comes the Sun”.

Read “Solar industry’s lead emissions.”

5 thoughts on “Krugman: Fossil fuel externality costs make solar competitive”

  1. Solar power will continue to grow slowly but surely but it will not be displacing other forms of energy anytime soon. I wish it were more economical and practical but there will need to be some major innovations to make that happen.

  2. Solar power is not schedulable, cannot be stored in any way economically viable, exhibits wild swings in output with clouds, and peaks out of sync with the demand peak. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that solar energy has a much lower value per unit of energy than energy generated in the more traditional power plants. People to ignorant to understand such a basic concept should not be taken seriously.

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