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Fact check: Marshall Institute attacks wind power, ignores facts

Fact check: Marshall Institute attacks wind power, ignores facts
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The George C. Marshall Institute, a fossil-fuel-funded "research organization," has published a report examining the economics of wind energy.  The report ignores recent reductions in the cost of wind energy, even though those reductions have been repeatedly documented by two national laboratories.

The report's authors incorrectly claim that the wind industry has failed to achieve the “30% decrease in costs predicted by the learning curve,” as the industry doubled its installed capacity. However, the Marshall Institute report only looked at wind energy cost trends for the period 2001-2008. Before releasing their final report in December 2012, the authors should have consulted a February 2012 report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory entitled “Recent Developments in the Levelized Cost of Energy from U.S. Wind Power Projects.”

Had they done so, they would have learned that the current cost of wind energy “is estimated to be as much as ~24% and ~39% lower than the previous low in 2002-2003,” a result exactly in line with the 30% decrease in costs that the authors had indicated should be expected. (http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/wind-energy-costs-2-2012.pdf, slide 41) Any energy analyst knows that up-to-date data is essential in the energy industry, given the propensity for rapid changes in fuel prices and changes in technology. Instead, the authors wasted 45 pages of fancy math on data that was more than four years old, in a wonderful example of the maxim “garbage in, garbage out.”

For more background on the long-running smear campaign against wind power and other clean energy sources, see Fight Clean Energy Smears.

Related articles:

Fact check: Study on turbine lifespan 'just more anti-wind propaganda', December 24, 2012
IEA report finds cost of wind generation dropping as technology improves, June 7, 2012

Wind technology advancing rapidly, challenges remain, June 4, 2012

Mich. Public Service Commission: Renewable energy cheaper than coal, March 2, 2012

Fact check: American Enterprise Institute FAIL on study of wind costs, February 29, 2012

Wind power increasingly competitive and productive, new reports find, November 10, 2011

National lab report: Wind turbine prices drop as designs improve, U.S. supply chain develops, November 1, 2011

 

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Michael Goggin is Vice President at Grid Strategies LLC, a DC-area consulting firm working on grid and markets issues for clean energy clients including AWEA. He was previously head of Research at AWEA.

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