Jon Stewart Celebrates Earth Day
And Oklahoma celebrates the joy of fracking. It works well "except for the earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater." From Comedy Central
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, April 25:
And Oklahoma celebrates the joy of fracking. It works well "except for the earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater." From Comedy Central
This scientist-hero has prevailed and persisted in his personal fight to speak truth to power. From greenmanbucket via YouTube
This is Siberia, where there is evidence the methane is coming out of the permafrost. From Vladislav Igorevich via YouTube
HSBC Notes Global Warming Trends In Quantitative Fashion; On a quantitative basis, temperatures are warming, global warming damage is getting more expensive, HSBC report observes
Mark Melin, April 23, 2015 (Value Walk)
“…Reviewing the modeling that scientists are working with…[leads] to predictions the unusual climate swings currently being seen are part of a larger trend that isn’t abating [according to HSBC Holdings Global Research]…Damage from severe weather events is growing to now total $300 billion per year, up from less than $1 billion in the 1950s …[and driving the trend is] a change in the returns distribution model…Thinking in financial terms, HSBC’s analysts considered the shape of returns distribution and note that the distribution of temperature is significantly changing…The black line in chart 1, for instance, demonstrates during the 1950s only 1 percent of Northern Hemisphere land area was subject to temperature swings three standard deviations above the baseline average. In the current era, that equivalent land area impacted increased to 10 percent…” click here for more
French government study: 95% renewable mix cheaper than nuclear and gas
Terje Osmundsen, 24 April 2015
“…It used to be the visionaries and the NGOs who talked about a 100% renewable future, but now leading number-crunchers and energy experts are joining the chorus. In California, the government energy regulator were recently quoted saying that California’s power grid could handle 100% renewables…New studies have been released showing the US can get to 100% renewables by 2050, at marginal extra cost…[Release of Vers un mix électrique 100% renouvable en 2050 from ADEME (French Agency for Environment and Energy Management) was postponed while the French government was pushing] an electricity mix with 50 % nuclear, down from 75% today…[But it was leaked and it] demonstrates that a 100% renewable power system in France is both possible and economically attractive…The cost to the consumer of the 100% renewable scenario is more or less equal to a scenario close to today’s, with only 40% renewables…[because while] the cost of wind and solar continue to fall, the cost of natural gas including CO2 will rise steadily…[and] nuclear is becoming more expensive, primarily due to the new safety regulations…” click here for more
Executive Shows China’s First Home-Grown Electric Sports Car; Effort looks to capitalize on the nation’s support for vehicles that don’t add to air pollution
Colum Murphy, April 22, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)
“…Electric cars are enticing because the Chinese government has pledged substantial support for their development to address air pollution produced by conventional-engine vehicles. China also hopes adoption of electric cars will bolster energy security by reducing dependency on imported gasoline…[ CH-Auto Technology Co.] is planning the country’s first battery-powered sports car that is cheaper than imported European gasoline-engine roadsters…[It] would go into production in late 2016 and challenge similar models from much bigger foreign companies…CH-Auto Technology Co. has a track record. It has designed gasoline-powered cars for Chinese manufacturers…[Aston Martin. Tesla, and Toyota] have big plans to expand electric-car sales here…Sales of electric vehicles in China rose to 18,000 units last year, quadruple the number in 2013…But success for electric-car makers in China—including Tesla—remains elusive…Challenges include the high price of most electric vehicles, as well as difficulty in developing infrastructure such as charging stations for a nation as vast as China…[CH-Auto’s] solution is to give customers a reason to buy an electric vehicle, which is where sports cars—already high-ticket items popular with wealthy Chinese—come in…” click here for more
S. Africa’s Power Crisis Sparks Interest in Solar Power
Darren Taylor, April 23, 2015 (Voice of Africa)
“South Africa is enduring an unprecedented power generation crisis. Electricity blackouts continue across the country as its power monopoly, Eskom, plunges deeper into chaos…As winter begins to bite, South Africa is bracing for widespread electricity outages, and demand for alternative sources of energy is spiking…[Until recently harvesting power from the sun was regarded as the ‘domain of lunatic greenies’…[But] regular blackouts mean more South Africans are embracing [sun-charged products like a] portable parabolic cooker…[that looks like a big, shiny TV satellite dish…The sunlight is so hot that…[a piece of cardboard in its beam]flames within seconds…[A ‘mini solar home system’ of photovoltaic solar panels can] charge a small battery when left in the sun for a while…[that provides six or seven brilliant lights that light up a house and allow kids to do homework and a solar lantern - phone charger combination with a radio can charge tablets or smart phones]…” click here for more
Women will suffer the worst effects of climate change
Sarah Milner-Barry, April 23, 2015 (Quartz)
“…It is a particularly unpleasant reality of climate change—that those societies that have emitted the most greenhouse gases are not going to be the ones to bear the brunt of its destabilizing effects…What is often missed in these analyses and forecasts however, is the fact that women make up more than half of the world’s impoverished population…[and] will be more affected…The majority of these women work on the land, and are providers of food and water for their families. These practices are disrupted by obstructed access to natural resources caused by climatic changes—leaving women more susceptible to food insecurity than men, who are more able to work, and eat, outside the home…
“…[Another particularly sobering finding was that after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004,] an average of 77% of the fatalities recorded were women, some of whom drowned as a result of not being taught how to swim…[S]tudies have shown that women are at increasingly greater risk of gender-based violence due to higher temperatures, and shortages of natural resources…[They also become] more vulnerable to domestic violence, and in the aftermath of disasters there has been a marked increase in the rates of sexual and domestic abuse towards women…This is not to say though that women in the developing world should be seen primarily as victims…There are countless examples of women in the world’s poorest communities who have recognized their specific vulnerabilities in these instances, and subsequently taken action…”
“…[Another particularly sobering finding was that after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004,] an average of 77% of the fatalities recorded were women, some of whom drowned as a result of not being taught how to swim…[S]tudies have shown that women are at increasingly greater risk of gender-based violence due to higher temperatures, and shortages of natural resources…[They also become] more vulnerable to domestic violence, and in the aftermath of disasters there has been a marked increase in the rates of sexual and domestic abuse towards women…This is not to say though that women in the developing world should be seen primarily as victims…There are countless examples of women in the world’s poorest communities who have recognized their specific vulnerabilities in these instances, and subsequently taken action…”click here for more
Finding an Easier Way to Charge Electric Vehicles
Jim Motavalli, April 23, 2015 (NY Times)
“…[Hevo Power] is working to create a home for electric vehicles in an environment that is inherently challenging to them. First, he and his team developed a wireless charger designed to look like an ordinary manhole cover and fit unobtrusively into the urban landscape. They are also working on what he calls a ‘green loading zone.’ Electric trucks simply drive up and recharge wirelessly while they are parked…[Hevo] plans to test the technology by the fall at New York University, on a groundskeeping vehicle. That day will be a long ¬awaited milestone for Hevo Power, which has been working on its products for several years…With vast numbers of apartment dwellers, New York, along with cities like Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, represents the promise, and the challenges, of what is a large, still ¬untapped market for electric vehicles…[Population density], as well as government bureaucracy, cold weather, the difficulty of curbside recharging on busy streets and the high cost of owning a vehicle in a city in general, makes running an electric car a challenge…” click here for more
Six Wind Turbines Planned in Lake Erie
April 22, 2015 (Channel 24/YouErie)
“There's a plan to erect a half dozen giant wind turbines in Lake Erie, off the coast of Cleveland and Erie County is joining the Public Private Partnership working to make that happen…LEEDCo and Erie County now joins other lakefront municipalities in northeastern Ohio that endorse the plan…[W]ind energy creates opportunities not just to access clean energy, but to also be on the forefront of the economic opportunities offshore wind development can bring…The project in Cleveland is called the Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project and could be the first to put wind turbines in the Great Lakes.” click here for more
Regulatory capture and the Arizona Corporation Commission
Nancy LaPlaca, April 23, 2015 (Tucson Weekly)
“The powerful giants of the fossil-fueled electricity system are facing choices to change their business models, as a result of two developments: Regulations to decrease carbon dioxide pollution, and price drops in solar energy allowing more ratepayers to install rooftop photovoltaic systems. However, many utility companies…[are] turning to regulators to protect their monopolies…[Regulatory capture] occurs when an agency created to act in the public interest and regulate an industry instead advances the interest of that business, resulting in policy outcomes that favor the regulated entity…The links between influential groups such as the corporate-funded bill-mill American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the utility industry, and the introduction and passage of anti-clean-energy legislation have been well documented…Some of the large corporate clients in ALEC are the electric utilities industry, coal, natural gas, and nuclear industries…The 100 year old U.S. regulatory system is showing its age, but…[o]nly the regulators and the utilities have enough access to the mechanisms of power to bring the change needed…” click here for more
The new guide to the nation's best solar policies — and how to emulate them; What works in one state won't necessarily work in another
Herman K. Trabish, January 8, 2015 (Utility Dive)
The best solar policy is the most specific solar policy, according to a new study of the most effective state solar regulations across the country.
There's no one formula, but policies that match a state’s specific demographics and physical attributes can drive the residential rooftop solar market growth, a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) finds.
“Every state has to tailor its policy to its own factors,” explained Elizabeth Doris, co-author of "The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets," the third in an NREL series highlighting good solar policy. “In terms of giving state policymakers information they can act on, that is the most important finding.”
A second key insight is that, though the installed price of solar in the U.S. dropped almost 43% between 2007 and 2012, it is not dropping evenly or having the same impact across all states, Doris said.
Only California, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Jersey grew more than one watt per person in installed capacity between 2006 and 2007 but, according to the paper, there were 27 states that grew that amount of installed capacity between 2011 and 2012. That means there were 23 states below that level of growth and 12 grew at less than a quarter of a watt per person.
“If cost were the only major driver for PV capacity increases, all states should benefit,” the paper explains. But they didn’t, suggesting that costs “play a major role in capacity increases in many, but not all, states.”
Every state, Doris said, “is different and special and changing.”
The solar policy suite
Tailoring a “policy suite” begins with key “foundational” policies. The first is allowing legal interconnection of rooftop solar with the grid. The second isvaluing excess generation, which typically is net metering but could be another calculation of solar’s costs and benefits. The third is a state renewables mandate that includes a specific requirement for distributed or rooftop or customer-owned solar.
“If you have those three things, you will drive a market. It will develop,” Doris said. States with three to four best practice, foundational policies have typically created “robust solar markets,” the paper finds. But some states with quite similar policies get quite different markets. The “age and composition of policy suites are important,” the paper explains, but “policy effectiveness is influenced by background contextual factors.”
Both Illinois and California have had “best practice foundational policy in place for a number of years and both have well-established favorable TPO (third party ownership) policy,” the paper reports. “But Illinois has been unsuccessful in establishing a robust market, while California’s solar market has thrived” because of “very different demographic and economic contexts.”
Lifetime revenue potential
To reflect the varying successes of comparable state policy suites, Doris and co-author Darlene Steward developed a “lifetime revenue potential from net metering” statistic. Because Illinois’s average electricity price and its solar potential are “significantly lower,” California’s lifetime revenue potential of $3.67 per watt is over 70% more than Illinois’s $2.13 per watt. The result is that California’s TPO policy is much more successful because “third-party owners are able to make a better business case in California,” the paper explains.
“A lot of state policymakers will say ‘don’t tell me what they did in California’ and this shows they are right,” Doris said. “Illinois shouldn’t compare itself to California in policy because its context is so different. But Illinois does look like Pennsylvania and could learn from Pennsylvania’s policy profile.”
Though Pennsylvania and Illinois have “similar demographic and economic contexts,” the paper explains, “a solar set-aside has helped Pennsylvania’s solar market despite a relatively unfavorable economic backdrop.”
The unique case of the District of Columbia
The District of Columbia’s policy experience may be the ideal demonstration of how to build a policy suite that drives a solar market, Doris said.
D.C. instituted a renewables mandate with a solar set-aside in 2007 that produced some market growth in 2008. With the addition of net metering and interconnection policies in 2009, there was more growth. In 2010, TPO was instituted. “Growth skyrocketed,” Doris said.
This is “a trend, not a fact” because there isn’t enough data to be conclusive, Doris said. Also, prices for solar dropped sharply in 2009, making it hard to separate out the effects of the two factors. “But the price drops aren’t the only thing going on,” she explained.
As an historical review of policies that have worked, the paper is intended to give policymakers insights into what could work in the future.
“We are seeing a lot of alternative policy options being floated,” Doris said. “Solar is at an inflection point. Any numbers you look at show tremendous growth and the whole market is trying to identify how to keep moving forward in a way that makes sense for the really wide variety of stakeholders, solar home generators, non-solar-owning utility customers, utilities, regulators, and state policymakers.”
To get the many ancillary benefits of distributed generation, like economic growth, jobs, and grid stability, “we will have to try a lot of these different mechanisms to see what works,” Doris said. “And policymakers are going to have to start making more nuanced decisions.”
EARTH DAY PROGRESS REPORT Are we doing better today than on the first Earth Day?
Deborahh D. Stine, April 22, 2015 (The Hill)
“…Are we doing better today than on the first Earth Day 45 years ago? …When Earth Day is discussed, speeches and articles often focus on pollution and natural resources without recognizing that producing and using energy is a major source leading to that impact…[The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2015 offers] good news: Improvement in energy efficiency, due to adoption of energy-efficient technologies and policies, has led to declines in energy consumption in the residential and transportation sectors…Increases in electricity demand, due to federal tax credits and state renewable energy portfolio standards, are largely able to be met by increases in renewable energy production…There has been a stabilization of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions due to a combination of increases in energy efficiency and decreases in carbon-related emissions from electricity generation due to increases in the use of both renewable energy and natural gas…[But we still face challenges to limit fossil fuels and get to more use of New Energy and Energy Efficiency. Are] we doing better today than on the first Earth Day 45 years ago? Yes. Might it take another 45 years to achieve our Earth Day goals related to energy? The answer to that question is "yes," as well…” click here for more
EARTH – WHAT NASA SEES Earth Day quiz for space fans: What makes our planet unique? As of Earth Day 2015, NASA has discovered more than 1,800 planets outside of our solar system. Do you know what makes Earth different from so many other planets?
Jeff Ward-Bailey, April 22, (Christian Science Monitor)
“…[I]t is Earth’s complexity that challenges scientists, NASA recently wrote, as] they seek to figure out how the whole planet works as a system…So far, scientists have been able not only to get a better picture of our home planet’s workings, but also to identify more than 1,800 planets outside of our solar system [via data collected with the orbiting Kepler telescope]. About two dozen of these planets are considered ‘Earth-like,’ meaning they could have liquid water and atmospheres similar to Earth’s…Most of the planets NASA has identified so far are hundreds of light-years away – simply too distant to be able to study in depth. But a few are close enough that scientists could collect data about their atmospheres and compositions…NASA’s Earth Day 2015 celebration is called ‘No Place Like Home,’ and while the Earth is uniquely suited to supporting human life, there are almost certainly other planets similar to our own out there…” click here for more
FROM THE SUN, FOR THE EARTH Earth Day 2015 picks: 5 cool tech gadgets to get you excited about solar power
April 22, 2015 (CoolMomTech)
“…One of the trends we’re really starting to see blow up, at last, is the use of solar power. There are so many smart products out there, and they’re getting even more affordable, accessible and truly useful for everyday people…[I]n honor of Earth Day 2015, check out] these 5 really cool tech products…Solpro Solar Gadget Chargers…BirkSun Solar Charging Backpacks…[T]hey’ve also got solar messenger bags too…Goal Zero Solar Powered Portable Speakers…XD Design Solar Window Charger…[and] Voltaic Solar Power Rechargeable Battery Kit…Because let’s be honest, no one knows about the pains of battery-munching devices like a parent who’s just installed a new baby swing or set up some electronic toys.” click here for more
China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario And Roadmap Study
April 2015 (Energy Research Institute/National Development and Reform Commission)
High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario: Vision And Consensus
We are continuously writing new chapters in our history. In the history of energy, it is an irreversible path that we will gradually move away from dependence on fossil fuels and transit to a “high renewable energy penetration” future. The international community has reached a consensus that high renewable energy penetration is a critical part of the efforts to tackle climate change and control temperature rise below 2 degrees. Europe and America have been first in taking the meaningful step of providing blueprints. As the world's largest developing country, largest coal consumer, and largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China is confronted with challenges that are more urgent and arduous as it transforms toward clean, low-carbon energy. "China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Roadmap Study" analyzes how China can gradually phase out fossil energy, especially coal, from its leading role in China's energy development, and give low-carbon green electricity a prime part to play. This vision will help advance the goal of a "Beautiful China" with the development level of medium-income countries, clear water and blue skies. The study takes high renewable energy penetration as the goal and greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants as basic constraints; it conducts technical and economic evaluation, power system production simulation, social and economic impact evaluation, etc., and based on these optimizes renewable energy deployment pathways under different scenarios as well as puts forward corresponding implementation schemes. Results show that a high renewable energy penetration scenario in 2050 is both technically and economically feasible, in which renewables account for over 60% in China’s total energy consumption and over 85% in total electricity consumption – signifying a true revolution of energy production and consumption.
By 2050, Renewable Energy Could Meet More Than 60% of Primary Energy Demand In a high renewable energy penetration scenario where over 60% of end-use energy consumption is electricity, the energy system in 2050 is highly efficient, with energy efficiency 90% higher than in 2010. By that time, primary energy consumption is 3.4 billion tons of coal equivalent, and renewable energy accounts for 62%. High Renewable Energy Penetration Will Promote Fossil Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions to Peak by 2025 Under the high renewable energy penetration scenario, coal consumption will be effectively controlled and the coal consumption peak can be reached by 2020. The consumption peak of fossil energy will be realized by 2025, and thereby reaching the goal of peaking greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 will be assured and most likely to happen as early as by 2025
Renewable Power is the Essential Replacement for Fossil Energy
By 2050, the national total power generation will be 15.2 trillion kWh, 86% of which will be renewable power and 91% non-fossil energy, while coal power drops to below 7%.
Wind Power and Solar Power Will Become Important Pillars of the Future Power Supply
Through technological breakthroughs, cost reductions as well as the comprehensively deepening of power sector reforms, between 2020 and 2040, wind and solar power will develop rapidly, with an average of annual newly installed capacity of close to 100 million kW. By 2050, 2.4 billion kW of wind power and 2.7 billion kW of solar power will be installed, with a total annual output of 9.66 trillion kWh, which will account for 64% of China’s total power generation and will become the main power source of the future green electricity system.
Various areas of the country will have the ability of developing wind power and solar power on a large scale, laying equal emphasis on centralized and distributed development.
Higher Electrification Rate Will Enable Renewable Energy to Grow to a Higher Level
By 2050, China’s end-use energy consumption will reach 3.2 billion tons of coal equivalent, of which electricity will account for 60%, 36 percentage points higher than that of 2010. Electricity will become the main form of energy for people’s production and living.
Transfrom the Electricity Transmission Network to a Platform for Optimizing Resources Allocation
With the increase of renewable power generation, we need to expand the transmission infrastructure in order to integrate renewable energy in a larger geographical area. Regional interconnection and expansion of the balancing area is helpful to reduce the changes in net load. There will be three cross regional transmission lines with a gross capacity of more than 100 million kW, respectively, the Northwest-Central China line, Central China-East China line and North China-East China line.
Technological and Institutional Innovation is the Foundation to Build a High Renewable Energy Penetration Power System
The contribution of variable power will rise from 30% to 60% in high penetration scenario as compared with in reference scenario, making it more challenging to ensure the real-time balance between electricity supply and demand. Variability and uncertainty associated with high-penetration wind power and solar power will be managed through increasing power trading in market, adding flexible generation capacity, improving the flexibility of coal power, using energy storage technology and demand response mechanism, as well as expanding transmission infrastructure.
Building a High Renewable Energy Penetration Power System at a Small or Non-Incremental Cost
In the high renewable energy penetration scenario, the average cost of electricity will rise slightly between 2030 and 2050, basically remaining between RMB0.672/kWh and RMB0.685 yuan/kWh. Most of the incremental capital investment of the high penetration scenario will be offset by saving the fuel cost of fossil energy which would otherwise happen in the reference scenario, and China could realize a high penetration scenario with a small or non incremental cost.
As a New Economic Growth Point, Renewable Energy Can Significantly Improve the Development Quality of the Overall Economy
Emerging industries like wind power, solar power, and electric vehicle will become a new economic growth point. In 2050, the added value of renewable energy industries will grow to RMB17 trillion, making a contribution of 6.2% to the GDP of that year. The added value of electric vehicle industry will grow to close to RMB 8 trillion, accounting for 2.9% of the GDP.
The high renewable energy penetration scenario will create 12 million jobs in 2050 in the renewable energy and related industries, which will promote the transmission of China’s employed population from traditional manufacturing to high value add industries.
High Renewable Energy Penetration Will Help Bring Back Clear Water and Blue Skies
Major pollutants and CO2 emitted by the combustion of fossil fuel will decrease significantly. The emissions of major pollutants (SO2, NOx, mercury, etc.) in 2050 will hold the line of that in 1980. The emissions of CO2 will decrease to 3 billion tons, making outstanding contributions to slowing down global climate change…
HOW TO DECIDE ON SOLAR How to Know If Solar Energy Is Right for Your House
Travis Holum, April 20, 2015 (Daily Finance)
“By the end of 2015, solar panels will be on more than a million homes in the U.S. In over a dozen states around the country, you can go solar with $0 down and actually save money on your electric bill -- and more states are coming online regularly…[Here’s how to] know if you'll be a prime candidate for benefiting from solar energy…Solar energy only makes financial sense for your home if solar panels can make electricity for a lower cost than what you pay a utility for electricity. Not only does a sunny climate matter, high electricity costs are essential as well…[T]he next question is whether your home works for solar…[T]he surface area covered by panels needs to be at least 270 square feet…with a [south or west-facing] 35-degree pitch…There are three main ways to pay for solar panels today: cash, loan and lease. Cash is simple enough…All tax or cost benefits then go to the owner]…Loans are beginning to grow in popularity and complexity…The most common financing for solar panels today is the lease [with] a company like SolarCity…” click here for more
NEW ENERGY’S PROPERTY VALUE Energy-Efficiency Retrofits Offer Higher Returns for Real Estate Investors…
April 21, 2015 (Rocky Mountain Institute)
“…Many real estate investors are beginning to realize they can earn higher returns from their properties by investing in deep retrofits, which employ integrated efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent or more compared to pre-retrofit use while achieving superior sustainability. These types of retrofits can reduce operating costs and are able to improve the satisfaction and health of occupants, as well as enhance the sustainability leadership, reputation, and risk management of tenant companies…RMI is working to equip real estate investors with practical guidance to incorporate all the value elements of deep energy retrofits—both energy and non-energy benefits—into their decision making. This guide defines and provides clear guidance for investors to identify key value elements for deep retrofits, including how to prepare a comprehensive deep retrofit value report to be presented as part of a retrofit capital request. The key value elements include…Retrofit capital costs…Non-energy operating costs…Tenant revenues…Sales revenues…[and] Retrofit risk analysis…” click here for more
THE EPA CLEAN POWER PLAN, JOBS, AND THE ECONOMY Independent Analysis Shows The EPA’s Clean Power Plan Increases Economic Growth And Jobs Nationwide
April 21, 2015 ()
"The Long-term Interindustry Forecasting Tool (LIFT), a macro-econometric model developed and maintained by the Interindustry Forecasting Project (Inforum) at the University of Maryland, indicates that the proposed CPP will likely increase U.S. employment by 196,000 jobs by 2025. Much of this growth will take place in the construction industry with a likely increase of 58,000 jobs, followed by retail trade with a projected addition of 55,000 jobs...Compared to other studies examining the EPA’s CPP, the LIFT analysis breaks new ground by providing an economy-wide assessment of the rule’s impact on employment from independent third party analysts at UMD and Industrial Economics..." click here for more
Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics; Long-term Scenarios for Market Development, System Prices and LCOE of Utility-Scale PV System
February 2015 (Fraunhofer ISE)
Our analysis aims at estimating the future cost development of solar photovoltaics to support further discussion
Following the surprising cost development in solar photovoltaics over the last decade, policy makers today are faced with a large uncertainty regarding the future role of this technology. We aim to contribute to a fact-based discussion by providing an analysis of the range of likely long-term cost developments in solar photovoltaics, based on today’s knowledge and technologies available today. We start our analysis with the current cost of a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power plant in Germany, representing one of the most developed markets for photovoltaic power plants worldwide. Based on scenarios of global market developments, ranging from best-case to worst-case scenarios, we then apply the price-experience curve (also known as “learning curve”) to estimate future cost developments of solar photovoltaic modules and inverters. We thereby use a conservative approach that assumes no technology breakthroughs and builds only on technology developments within crystalline silicon technology already known today. Developments of other costs (“Balance of System”) are estimated for each component, assuming different scenarios of future module efficiency. The scenarios and estimations were developed by Fraunhofer ISE and discussed and refined intensively at workshops with experts from industry, science and policy.
Building on this in-depth analysis of future investment costs, future ranges of the levelized cost of electricity produced by large-scale solar photovoltaics in different countries are calculated, based on local climatic conditions and cost of capital. The analysis shows that solar power will soon be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions of the world.
Solar photovoltaics is already today a lowcost renewable energy technology.
The feed-in tariff paid for electricity from large-scale photovoltaic installations in Germany fell from over 40 ct/kWh for installations connected in 2005 to 9 ct/kWh for those connected in 2014. This sudden reduction came as a major surprise to most industry experts and policy makers. Power produced by solar photovoltaics, long known as one of the most expensive renewable energy technologies, is today cost competitive with both wind onshore and power generated by fossil fuels in Germany. The feed-in tariff for largescale solar photovoltaic power plants in Germany installed in January 2015 is 8.7 ct/kWh, not adjusted for infl ation. This compares to a feed-in tariff for wind onshore, ranging from 6 to 8.9 ct/kWh in Germany, and to the cost of producing power through newly built gas- or coal-fi red power plants, ranging from 7 to 11 ct/kWh.
Even lower prices for solar power have been reported in sunnier regions of the world. A power purchase agreement for a 200 MW-solar farm in Dubai was recently signed for 5 ct/kWh (5.84 $ct/kWh). Projects under construction in Brazil, Uruguay and other countries are reported to produce at costs below 7 ct/KWh. These power generation costs largely confi rm the notion that the cost of building and operating a large scale solar photovoltaic power plant is comparable around the world, once market barriers are removed.
Solar power will soon be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions of the world.
Our analysis of diff erent scenarios concludes that an end to cost reduction for power from solar photovoltaics is not in sight. Even in the most conservative scenarios for market development, without considering technology breakthroughs, significant further cost reductions are expected.
The following methodology was used to reach this conclusion: The starting point of the analysis was to derive consistent scenarios for the global photovoltaics market development between 2015 and 2050. These scenarios were discussed and revised in expert workshops and represent a range from “very pessimistic” to “very optimistic” in terms of global photovoltaics market developments. In the most pessimistic scenario, annual additional photovoltaic installations would increase from ~40 GW in 2014 to 175 GW in 2050 (cumulated produced capacity until 2050 of ~6000 GW). In the most optimistic scenario (“breakthrough scenario”), 1780 GW of photovoltaic systems will be installed per year by 2050 (cumulated produced capacity by 2050: ~36000 GW).
Based on these market scenarios, future prices for photovoltaic modules were estimated using the “photovoltaic learning curve,” which builds on the historic experience that with each duplication in the total number of modules produced, the price per module fell by roughly 20 percent. Based on expert discussions at the workshop, we varied the future learning rate between 19 and 23 percent and introduced the conservative assumption that prices will fall with a learning rate of only roughly 10 percent in the next years, until a total (cumulated) capacity of 5000 GW is produced. This approach results in module costs decreasing from approximately 550 EUR/kW today to 140-210 EUR/kWp by 2050 in the breakthrough scenario, and to 270-360 EUR/kWp in the most pessimistic scenario. A similar approach was applied to estimate the future cost of solar inverters, resulting in investment costs falling from 110 EUR/kWp today to between 23 and 39 EUR/kWp by 2050.
To estimate the future cost of other components (“balance of system cost”), current cost, cost drivers and cost reduction potentials were discussed for each component at the expert workshops and three scenarios for future module eff iciency were developed (24, 30 and 35 percent in 2050). Largely driven by increased module eff iciency, balance-of-system costs are expected to fall from around 340 EUR/kWp today to between 120 and 210 EUR/kWp by 2050.
The cost of solar generation can be derived on the basis of these fi gures. Depending on annual sunshine, power costs of 4-6 ct/kWh are expected in Europe by 2025, reaching 2-4 ct/kWh by 2050. For the next decade, this represents a cost reduction of roughly one third below the 2015 level. This near-term price development includes the conservative assumption that module prices will return to the trajectory determined by the historic price-experience curve in our analysis. In the long term, a reduction of roughly two thirds compared to the current cost is expected.
Our analysis has identifi ed increasing module eff iciency as a key driver of cost reductions in the long term: The expected duplication of module eff iciency until 2050 will allow twice as much power to be produced from the same surface area and thus will reduce the cost of many components (within the balance-of-system cost) by half.
These results indicate that in future, power produced from large-scale solar photovoltaic plants will be cheaper than power produced from any conventional technology in large parts of Europe. The cost of electricity produced in conventional, large-scale power plants typically ranges between 5 and 10 ct/kWh. Cost competitiveness will thus be achieved under optimal conditions before 2025 and full cost competitiveness even under non-optimal conditions by 2050 at the latest. Further research is needed to analyze the cost competitiveness of diff erent technologies in country and regional contexts and at diff erent penetration rates.
In other regions of the world with higher solar irradiation, solar power will be even cheaper than in Europe. Our results indicate that solar power will become the cheapest source of electricity in many regions of the world, reaching costs of between 1.6 and 3.7 ct/kWh in India and the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa) by 2050. Cost competitiveness with large- scale conventional power plants will be reached in these regions already within the next decade, at a cost for solar power by 2025 ranging between 3.3 and 5.4 ct/kWh.
In North America, costs for large scale solar photovoltaics will reach 3,2 to 8.3 ct/kWh in 2025 and 1.5 to 5.8 ct/kWh in 2050, the wide cost range due to significant geographical differences within the region. In Australia, costs will reach 3.4 to 7.1 ct/kWh in 2025 and 1.6 to 4.9 ct/kWh in 2050. In both regions, cost competitiveness of solar photovoltaics at the best sites will be reached within the next decade and cost competitiveness for all sites only a number of years later.
In view of the likely cost competitiveness of solar power in many areas of the world, further research is needed, especially on the competitiveness of other energy applications beyond the power sector, such as transport, heating and cooling, as well as the cost competitiveness of power systems with very high shares of photovoltaic power. Financial and regulatory environments will be key for reducing costs in the future.
The cost of hardware sourced from global markets will decrease irrespective of local conditions. Solar photovoltaic modules and inverters are traded already today on global markets, similar to commodity products, and costs for other components are similarly global. While regional differences may exist due to the very young nature of utility-scale solar photovoltaic markets in different parts of the world, it is very unlikely that large differences in investment costs between different regions of the world will persist in the future.
However, the cost of capital is and will remain a major driver for the cost of power from solar photovoltaics. Producing power from solar photovoltaics requires a high up-front investment, but subsequently allows power production for 25 years and more at a marginal cost of close to zero. It is thus a very capital-intensive power-generation technology, and the interest paid on both debt and equity has a large eff ect on the total cost of a large-scale photovoltaic project.
This eff ect of diff erent cost of capital may even have a larger impact on power generation cost than the diff erence in solar resources, which is commonly considered key for the quality of a country’s or region’s potential to produce power from the sun. Our sensitivity analysis shows that higher cost of capital may increase cost of power by close to 50 percent in an extreme case. In the illustrative example comparing southern Germany and southern Spain, this capital cost eff ect alone could make solar power prices in southern Germany and southern Spain equal, even though southern Spain has 50 percent more sunshine hours than southern Germany.
The regulatory environment will thus be key for reducing the cost of power from solar photovoltaics in the future, as the cost of capital is largely driven by the risk perceived by investors. Reliable long-term power purchase agreements help to reduce the cost of capital for project developers, as experiences in Germany and in other countries show. A lack of such long-term contracts or even the fear of retroactive changes in regulatory regimes may lead to a signifi cant increase in cost of capital.
Most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems.
A large body of scientifi c literature, as well as publications by national and international institutions, describe possible developments of future power systems. Most of these scenarios foresee only a small contribution of solar power to future national, regional or global power systems. In many cases this can easily be explained by the use of outdated cost estimates for solar photovoltaics, leading to only a minor contribution of solar power in cost-optimal pathways. The massive cost reduction in solar photovoltaic systems in recent years has outpaced most forecasts for the next decade, often just within the time it took to publish a peer reviewed paper.
The results of our analysis indicate that a fundamental review of cost-optimal power system pathways is necessary. While not the only factor, the cost of power production is the key driver that determines the cost-optimal mix of diff erent power generation technologies within a power system. As an example, the long-term scenarios of the German government foresee only a minor contribution of solar photovoltaics in the future German power system. These scenarios are based on an analysis conducted about fi ve years ago, when solar photovoltaics was certainly one of the more expensive renewable energy technologies, together with wind off shore and biomass. Recent cost developments, as well as expected future developments, indicate that in a cost-optimal power system, the role of solar photovoltaics should instead be similar to that of wind onshore, which is similarly cheap but so far plays a much more prominent role in the scenarios. The same applies to a wide body of analysis and scenarios in various regions across the world.
A fundamental review of the future role and potential contribution of photovoltaics is also required for scenarios focusing not only on the power sector, but also on the heating and cooling and even the transport sectors, indicating that solar will play a major role in future global carbon-emission cost curves as well as regional decarbonization strategies in many parts of the world.
GULF OIL SPILL IMPACTS GO ON 5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Effects Linger And Recovery Is Slow
Debbie Elliott, April 20, 2015 (National Public Radio)
“Five years ago, BP's out-of-control oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. Eleven workers were killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig…[T]he blast unleashed the nation's worst offshore environmental catastrophe…[O]il gushed from the Macondo well for nearly three months. More than three million barrels of Louisiana light crude fouled beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida, affecting wildlife and livelihoods…Today, the spill's impacts linger…[Because the oil coated the roots of mangrove trees, they died and] without the mangroves to hold the islands together, within three years most of [the] islands were gone…Dolphin deaths continue, oil is still on the bottom of the ocean, tar balls keep coming up…[and] nobody really is able to say what we may find in five years [or] 10 years… BP has already spent $28 billion on response and cleanup and to pay economic claims to oil spill victims. He says the company has changed its safety procedures, and pre-deployed capping stacks around the world that could more quickly shut down an out-of-control well…[but nobody knows what the long-term environmental consequences will be]…” click here for more
SUNPOWER, APPLE DO SOLAR IN CHINA Apple Goes To China To Build Solar Projects With SunPower
Ucilla Wang, April 16, 2015 (Forbes)
“…Apple [is teaming up with SunPower] to build 40 megawatts of solar generation projects in the Sichuan Province…Apple [has worked with SunPower to develop 90 megawatts of projects for Apple in the U.S., many]…near or next to its data centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada…Apple also signed a $850 million deal to buy solar power from a 130-megawatt project that will be built by First Solar in California…[In China, Apple] isn’t investing in projects that will benefit its operations. But…most of its products are made in China through contract manufacturers. It’s becoming more like Google, which does a mix of buying solar energy and taking stakes in solar power projects…Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Facebook have opted for buying renewable energy to inject more low-carbon electricity into the local grids…[In China,] Apple will co-own the two projects with a joint venture of SunPower’s called Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co…The projects will use SunPower’s concentrating photovoltaic technology, which uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells to produce electricity. This system is run on a tracker that follows the sun’s movement…SunPower is already building these two projects and plans to complete them in the fourth quarter of this year…” click here for more
THREE BETS ON WIND 3 Best Stocks for Investing in Wind Energy
Jason Hall, April 19, 2015 (The Motley Fool)
“…[W]hile solar energy gets a lot of the headlines, wind [produced 11-times as much electricity last year] at 181.8 million megawatt hours, versus 15.9 million for photovoltaic solar…According to the International Energy Agency, wind is on track to increase from 2013's 2.6% of global energy production, to 18% in 2050…[Unlike solar], wind is dominated by a handful of companies…[General Electric] has significantly strengthened its global position in energy over the past year...[Its] wind business is a relatively small part of the company's total, but the company sold more than 2,800 wind turbines in 2014, making it a major global player…Vestas Wind Systems competes head-to-head with GE and German industrial giant Siemens. But while its two largest competitors are fully integrated behemoths with operations in dozens of industries and product categories, Vestas is 100% committed to wind…[Berkshire Hathaway, Inc] is one of the largest producers of wind energy in the U.S. and is aggressively adding to its capacity at subsidiary Berkshire Hathaway Energy…Wind energy projects are big and long-term…[but] looking at the bigger picture, wind will continue to become a more and more important part of meeting the world's energy needs…” click here for more
The President dares to talk climate change in Florida, where the Governor has banned use of the term in the state government. From The White House via YouTube
The Angry Professor explains here why politicians deny climate change. From BetterUpMedia via YouTube
A condition not yet listed in the ICDM. Rx: A Q-tip. From Funny or Die