New Green Gasoline: it costs twice as much but it’s clean and green and makes your car run… worse

Imagine you need to fill up your car with gas, and you roll up to a pump in Ottawa, Ontario. Pump prices today are around $1.20 per litre (which works out to about $4.54 per US gallon). One of the pumps seems different than the others. Over top of it is a big attractive sign that says something like the following:

This pump has only GREEN GASOLINE. It’s clean, environmentally friendly, and doesn’t even cost all that much. How much? Only $2.40 a liter, or $9.08 a gallon.

What makes it green? It contains water that comes from a pristine mountain spring. So yes it costs just a bit more for this gas, but it contains water that comes from the mountains—which means it’s green!

Of course, you will also have to accept that your car won’t run as well as it would if you just bought normal gasoline that doesn’t contain water. In fact your car will run worse.

But think of the benefit to the environment. By supporting suppliers of mountain spring water, you are helping the planet. Spring water is clean and pristine because it comes from the mountain!

So you have two choices:

  1. Normal gasoline, which costs $1.20 and runs well in your car.
  2. “Green” gasoline, which costs $2.40 and makes your car run worse because it has been watered down with water from a pristine mountain spring.

Which would you choose?

Of course you would choose #1, normal gasoline.

The only way you would buy the “green” gasoline would be if there were just no choice. So really the only way to get you to buy “green” gasoline would be to make it mandatory.

Would you support making that mandatory?

This is exactly what is being done in the electricity sector in Ontario. Ontarians are being forced to buy low-quality wind- and solar-generated power because those sources have been successfully peddled as “green.” In reality, they require backup from fossil fuels. That is because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

But the companies that own wind turbines and solar panels need lots of money just to stay in business. So they have to get rates that cover the times when they don’t run (which is most of the time).

If Ontarians had a choice, the overwhelming majority would never pay a cent for wind and solar power. Wind and solar cost more than twice as much as power from other sources, and they cannot ever run most of the time.

That is why Ontarians don’t have a choice. They are being forced to pay premium rates for low-quality power sources that are just a public relations cover for more fossil fuel.

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I totally agree with your perspective on the crazy things that government forces on it’s people. I think common sense is a rare commodity today. Simple common sense would tell you that solar and wind power are not bad; being renewable energy sources. But lets not get ahead of ourselves and try to force them when the efficiency level is not there yet. I think these technologies will get better and better and one day will make fiscal sense to have them replace the fossil fuels.

Maury Markowitz
9 years ago

“In reality, they require backup from fossil fuels. That is because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.”

So when it *is* shining or blowing, you don’t need to burn fossils.

When I say it that way, everyone like the idea.

“Wind and solar cost more than twice as much as power from other sources.”

Hmmm, skeptical…

OPG’s currently billing on a PPA basis at 7.7 cents for nuclear on the last report I read.

Wind is currently billing around 12 cents on a PPA basis (including capacity factor, of course). That’s a fair amount less than “more than twice”.

Solar’s more difficult to figure, because the panel lifetime still isn’t known. ARCO’s panels are still going strong after 35 years with no end in sight, and now they’re saying we should discount over 60 to 100 years. But it’s easy enough to spreadsheet this.

Assuming today’s installed costs at about $5.5 a Wp (expensive), 1170 kWh/kWp/year (conservative) and 0.5% degradation (conservative) then at 10 years the effective break-even is about 48 cents/kWh. By year 50 it’s down to 11 cents.

If you use a real-world pricing at $5/Wp, 1250 kWh/kWp/year and degradation of 0.25%, its 40 cents at 10 years, 10 cents at 40, and down to 6 cents when it finally dies at 60 years out. That’s *less* than current PPAs for nuclear.