US DOE Secretary: Renewable Energy Now Inevitable (4 cents/kwh)

by Duane Nichols on June 4, 2016

134 GW of Renewables Added (2015)

Renewable Energy Is Now Inevitable, Energy Secretary Says, Citing Price

From an Article by Jeff McMahon, Forbes, June 3, 2016

Climate change may have inspired the clean-energy revolution, but price has made it inevitable, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said Thursday, citing plunging prices in solar, wind and efficient innovations like LED lighting.

“The discussion about climate and climate science and mitigation and adaptation is very important, but the fact is that clean energy, the clean energy scaling, has an inevitability about it following Paris,” Moniz said at the close of the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial, a San Francisco gathering of 24 energy ministers.

“This is becoming inevitable. This is the direction we’re going.”

Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has been calling the clean-energy transition inevitable for years, saying in 2013, for example, that “the inevitable conclusion is that at some point there will be a phase change, and clean energy will be the norm, not the exception.”

Liebreich said it again Thursday in San Francisco, and Moniz adopted it. But a few things had to happen before Moniz would acknowledge the “phase change.” The first was the Paris Agreement and climate conference last December that brought together an unprecedented international coalition of nations, innovators, and financiers. Secondly, the cost of clean energy and certain energy efficient products has fallen so fast that even the plummeting oil price has been unable to halt its growth.

Moniz reviewed a few indicators he had noticed at the Ministerial:

• Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in the range of 3¢ to 4¢ per kilowatt hour for wind and solar energy, which have made renewables competitive. PPAs are the long-term sales contracts that set the price at which utilities buy power from energy producers. In its most recent analysis of the levelized cost of energy, last September, Lazard had wind starting at 3.2¢, solar at 4.3¢, natural gas at 5.2¢ and coal at 6.5¢. “I think we may become almost expectant about this,” Moniz said, “but if you think back a short time, this kind of development would have been viewed as completely remarkable—because it is.”

• Plunging prices for energy efficient products like LED lights. Moniz praised India’s success in reducing the price and increasing the efficiency of LEDs. The Indian government has distributed more than 50 million LEDs, using its purchasing power to drive down the price as it seeks to replace the country’s 770 million incandescent bulbs. Led lights cost about $35 just four years ago. In India, the price has fallen to about 80¢ for a 9-watt LED, Moniz said, “and the implications of that are pretty incredible.” Among those implications, low-energy LED bulbs demand less power from solar panels, extending the panels’ usefulness.

• Commitments by companies to power their operations using renewable energy, spurred in some cases by a campaign of the Clean Energy Ministerial led by Germany and Denmark. “All 3 of those elements, I think, point to the way we are seeing a scaling in this clean energy realm,” Moniz said.

Just 15 minutes after the Clean Energy Ministerial adjourned, a meeting came to order of Mission Innovation, a coalition of 21 countries (and Bill Gates) that have pledged to double financing for energy research and development. The first panel at that meeting included an inventor, a venture capitalist, a utility-workers union representative and a utility executive—Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning.

Fanning extolled an all-of-the-above energy portfolio but acknowledged the “explosive growth” of renewables. As that meeting too adjourned, Moniz said he was moving beyond Liebreich’s “inevitability” to a new phase uttered by Fanning:

“His words were ‘Can’t keep the waves off the beach,’” Moniz said. “I think that’s much better stated.”

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Carbon Brief June 4, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Seven (7) Charts Show How Renewables Broke Records Globally in 2015

Global investment in renewable energy reached record levels in 2015, according to a new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

More surprisingly, perhaps, the report shows that the $286bn poured into green energy was more than double the spending on coal– and gas-fired power.

It also shows, for the first time, that more renewable power capacity was added than other sources and that renewable energy investment was mostly in developing countries.

Carbon Brief runs through the key findings in seven charts:


Solar & Wind Times Two June 4, 2016 at 10:04 pm

U.S. renewable energy capacity to more than double by 2040, agency says

By James Osbourne, Houston Chronicle, June 3, 2016

Photo: JERRY LARA, Staff — Sheep graze by solar panels at the Alamo 2 Solar Farm located at 8203 Binz Engleman Road, Monday, July 21, 2014. OCI Solar Power contracted for the nearly 90 Barbados cross sheep in order to maintain the area. The 45-acre farm has 18,000 solar panels that provide 4.4 mega watts of energy at its peak for CPS Energy. It is the first time the company has used sheep in a Texas facility. They have been at the facility since mid April.

WASHINGTON – A federal report predicts the amount of renewable energy on the electricity grid will more than double by 2040 to close to 500 gigawatts of capacity.

That presumes the Obama administration’s clean power plan, which would reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent, survives a legal challenge.

But even without the clean power plan, cost reductions in solar and wind energy, along with the extension of a tax credit for renewable energy last year, should still grow to more than 400 gigawatts over the next 24 years.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting continued growth in wind power until 2022, when the tax credit expires and construction comes to a virtual halt.

“Because the most favorable wind resources are located in a few regions in the country, increased adoption of wind technology in these regions may be limited by the ability of regional grids to handle high levels of intermittent generation,” the report reads.

But the agency also forecasts continued growth in solar farms and rooftop systems through 2040.

Still, 500 gigawatts would be a long way from the carbon-free power sector many environmentalists want to see in the decades ahead.

Right now the U.S. power grid counts a capacity of 1,066 gigawatts, of which 440 gigawatts is natural gas and coal is 280 gigawatts.



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