ORIGINAL REPORTING: End of the 'gas rush?' Renewables, storage reaching cost parity, report finds
End of the 'gas rush?' Renewables, storage reaching cost parity, report finds; As battery costs decline, researchers say localized portfolios of clean energy could challenge gas plant investments.
Herman K. Trabish, June 11, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Throughout this year, utilities across the country began experimenting with the kinds of clean energy portfolios described here.
The U.S. power mix is rapidly changing, but utilities still want the same thing — a resource mix that delivers the most reliable and safe electricity to customers at the lowest price. Despite pronouncements from the White House, "The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios," from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), shows that emerging mixes of renewable energy, storage, and other distributed energy resources (DERs) may soon be more cost effective than coal, nuclear, or natural gas plants in most regions. The paper demonstrates that, because of technology and cost advances, portfolios of renewables, batteries, demand response and energy efficiency can replace central station generation assets.
The problem, RMI warns, is that developers engaged in a "rush to gas" have already planned $110 billion in natural gas plant investments by 2025. That trend could lock in $1 trillion in costs to the U.S. power sector by 2030 if it continues, and make it more difficult for renewables and batteries to get a foothold in the market. The gas rush will likely continue, analysts say, if regulators and lawmakers do not provide new incentives and market rules. Such rules should encourage battery storage and demand management, which will provide crucial flexibility in emerging clean energy portfolios. Progress on that front is uneven, but some utilities are beginning to see the value in clean energy portfolios and are changing investment plans as a result… click here for more