May 24, 2016: Energy Matters: Renewables

Courtesty of Eric Vettel at the American Energy Society (www.energysociety.org )

Renewables

 - Bill Gates speaks often about the need for an "energy miracle," but Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Chairman Michael Liebreich has made a compelling case that the energy miracle is already here, and they are, in order: solar, wind, LED lighting, electric cars, advance[ing] batteries and smart grids.

 - The US grid added 1,291 megawatts (MW) of new renewable power in the first quarter of 2016: wind (707 MW), solar (522 MW), biomass (33 MW) and hydropower (29 MW). To put these numbers into perspective: natural gas added 18 MW of new generating capacity and no new capacity for coal, oil, or nuclear power.  AES Premium Members have access to the report.

 - Long a niche industry burdened by expensive financing, solar appears on the verge of unlocking cheaper sources of capital. Natural-gas plants are getting financed at about $1.20 per watt, which is considered a benchmark; as a comparison, utility-scale solar plants are going as low as $1.25 per watt in the southeastern US, $1.27 per watt in the southwest, and $1.32 per watt in California. AES Premium Members have access to the full NREL report

 - A Saudi-backed consortium is building a solar farm in Dubai for only 3¢/kWh, half the local price of power from natural gas. That price is consistent with bids by Enel Green Power to build a solar plant in Coahuila, Mexico, for 3.6¢/kWh, and an onshore wind farm in Morocco for 3¢/kWh.

 - The Pacific Biofuels plant on the Big Island of Hawaii is the first to be certified as "sustainable."

 - Japan now has more electric car charging stops than gas stations.

 - In the 1970s, Denmark was addicted to oil, burning petroleum to power its cars AND generate electricity. Today, more than 40 percent of the country is powered by wind.

 - Renewable energy production in Germany caused power prices to go negative for several hours, as it has in California and Texas - meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.