The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Solar power – now a winner for Chile

FT 7th Dec 2017, About 200 megawatts per hour pulse from Latin America’s largest solar
power station into nearby transmission lines that stretch more than 600km
south to the capital Santiago from its location in the Atacama Desert, one
of the driest and sunniest places on earth.

“This is the face of the future of Chile,” says José Ignacio Escobar, general manager in Latin
America for Spain’s Acciona, which built and operates El Romero. “Chile
may be poor in old energy, but it is very rich in renewables. Can you see a
single cloud?” he asks, gesturing towards the indigo sky that is so clear
that the world’s most powerful telescopes are built in the Atacama.

It is only recently that Chile began to harvest the formidable power of the
Atacama’s sun. Just five years ago, the country produced negligible
amounts of renewable energy and was heavily dependent on imports from its
unreliable neighbours, suffering from blackouts and some of the highest
energy prices in the world. But this shortage of fossil fuels has
stimulated an unprecedented boom in investment in renewable — and
especially solar — energy since then, despite a contraction in investment
in almost all other sectors during a period of economic stagnation at the
end of the commodities boom.


December 9, 2017 Posted by | renewable, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

Solar power to take over, on Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland

Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland primed for solar power explosionBellona,  by Charles Digges, Some would be rightly spooked by the idea of electricity produced by a glowing source emanating from Chernobyl, but thanks to a €100 million investment plan, that’s exactly what’s could happen.

It’s not, however, what you think. The electricity will come from a solar park sprouting in the middle of the carcinogenic wastelands surrounding the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster as part of a joint project between a Kiev engineering firm called Rodina Energy Group and Enerparc, a clean energy company based in Hamburg, Germany.

Ukraine’s minister of ecology, Ostap Semerak, announced a plan last July to revitalize the nearly 2000-kilometer swathe of land encircling the plant that gave nuclear disaster its name.

Long lasting radiation in the area makes farming, forestry, hunting, and just about anything else too dangerous, so renewable energy is seen as something productive to do with the huge empty area.

Luckily, all of the transmission lines that were laid to carry electrons from the notorious plant to Ukraine’s major cities – and that helped feed what is now the country’s 50 percent reliance on nuclear energy – remain largely intact.

When it’s done, the solar park could provide half the energy that originally flowed from Chernobyl, marking an inspiring comeback for an area inhabited by dystopian radioactive wild boar……..

the Chernobyl area could end up producing 2.5 gigawatts of solar produced electricity, pumping out half of what Chernobyl uses to produce before it melted down and exploded – with absolutely none of the danger……..

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ­– which financed Chernobyl’s New Containment Structure – is understandably wary of bankrolling projects in a radioactive exclusion zone. The solar farms, after all, are installed and maintained by people.

This poses some very real difficulties. Workers can only spend a limited amount of time in the exclusion zone, so their shifts are short, which means a bigger workforce is required – as is more money to pay them.

Yet they are challenges worth grappling with. If Ukraine manages to create a renewable energy rebirth on the site of the nuclear disaster that helped fell the Soviet Union, it would be a revolution of an altogether different kind.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Armenia considers plan to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables

Armenia Debates Shift Away From Nuclear Power, Eurasia Net  December 6, 2017 – Oksana Musaelyan 

With its aged nuclear power plant scheduled to close in a decade, Armenians are discussing the feasibility of a shift to renewable energy.

A new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union has helped catalyze the renewables discussion. Metsamor, the only nuclear plant in the Caucasus, provides about one-third of Armenia’s energy needs, but it is already past its original retirement date. As of now it is scheduled to close in 2026.

A provision in the EU partnership document calls for: “the closure and safe decommissioning of Metzamor [sic] nuclear power plant and the early adoption of a road map or action plan to that effect, taking into consideration the need for its replacement with new capacity to ensure the energy security of the Republic of Armenia and conditions for sustainable development.”

Armenia’s Justice Minister Davit Harutyunyan recently raised eyebrows by suggesting, contra previous government assurances, that the country wasn’t necessarily committed to nuclear power………

Advocates of renewable energy say that it is particularly well suited for Armenia because of its particular geopolitical situation: its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed, and its dependence on natural gas and uranium from Russia has led to an uncomfortable degree of political dependence on Moscow.

Armenia was the first country in the region to easily offer permits to construct small solar, wind, and hydro power generation plants, and today renewable energy accounts for about 12 percent of Armenia’s total power consumption. That’s projected to grow to up to 18 percent in the next two years, according to Astghine Pasoyan, head of the Armenian Foundation to Save Energy.

Most of Armenia’s renewable energy today comes from small hydropower plants; solar and wind represent only a tiny portion of Armenia’s total electricity generation. But that portion is growing: Solar panels with a capacity of 3.5 megawatts have been installed over the last 10 years, with more than two-thirds of that total built only over the last year, Pasoyan said.

Further expansion is in the cards: in May, Armenia’s Energy Ministry issued a tender for a 55 megawatt solar power facility and a contractor, Arpi Solar, said in December that it will start work on the plan “very soon.”
“We started with a very small number and the trend is huge,” Pasoyan said. “I hope that the growth is not just in large-scale generation, but in average individual families, taking control of their energy needs and by doing that also helping the country strengthen its energy security.”

Pending changes in legislation would further liberalize the energy market. “For a lot of local communities and local businesses this will be a good opportunity to invest in renewable energy,” said Alen Amirkhanyan, director of the Acopian Center for the Environment at the American University of Armenia.

Amirkhanyan said that with sufficient investment in renewables, “there will no longer be a rationale for investing in very expensive technology, like building a new power plant.”………

December 7, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Surge in USA storage for renewable energy

U.S. Energy Storage Surges 46% Led by Big Project in Windy Texas By Brian Eckhouse 

 Power companies and developers added 41.8 megawatts of storage systems, including a 30-megawatt utility-scale project in Texas, according to a report Thursday from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association. California added 8.4 megawatts of residential and commercial systems. The industry installed 28.6 megawatts in the third quarter of 2016.

Driven by regulatory demands and sharp price declines, energy-storage is becoming more common. Prices for lithium-ion battery packs have fallen 24 percent from 2016 levels, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Utilities including Exelon Corp.Duke Energy Corp. and American Electric Power Co., meanwhile, are increasingly receptive to storage projects, which potentially will facilitate wider adoption of wind and solar power.

 GTM forecasts that 295 megawatts will be in operation in the U.S. by year-end, up 28 percent from 2016. And more is coming. GTM projects the U.S. energy-storage market will be worth $3.1 billion in 2022, a seven-fold increase from this year.
 “Energy storage is increasingly acknowledged in utilities’ long term resource planning across the country,” Ravi Manghani, GTM Research’s director of energy storage, said in a statement.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

UK: Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit calls for windfarms: wind energy now cheapest form of electricity

No new onshore wind projects have been given contracts in the UK since a
change of government in 2015. The few still being built were awarded
contracts beforehand.

Now, an independent think tank — the Energy and
Climate Intelligence Unit — is arguing that construction of new onshore
wind farms could save electricity consumers as much as £1.5 billion
(€1.7 billion/$2 billion) over five years. Onshore wind is now the
cheapest form of electricity generation and can deliver savings even when
taking into account the costs associated with managing variability.

The report notes that a Spanish auction in May 2017 delivered onshore wind at
€43/MWh ($51/MWh) and suggests that around 1GW in the UK could be
delivered by the 15-year contracts for difference (CfD) currently used at
£49.40/MWh ($65/MWh) or less.

This is lower than the current estimate for new gas-fired generation of £66/MWh ($87/MWh). Assuming an average load
factor of 0.31 for onshore wind in the UK, 1GW would deliver 2.7TWh of

The report estimates the costs of delivering 2.7TWh by other means,
including the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, a recently-contracted
biomass project, offshore wind, combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and
small modular reactors (SMR). The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit
report compares the annual generation costs from these sources.

They rangefrom £166 million in the case of onshore wind and £198 million for
offshore wind, to £271 million for Hinkley Point and £308 million in the
case of the biomass plant. The estimates for wind include an allowance for
an “integration cost” of £10/MWh ($13/MWh). This covers the costs of the
measures needed to cope with variability.

December 4, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Enormous survey over 13 countries shows that UK citizens want solar power, not nuclear

Solar Power Portal 15th Nov 2017, The majority of UK respondents to the largest survey of attitudes towards green energy ever conducted would like to see more solar power used compared to other generation technologies. The Ørsted Green Energy Barometer, which surveyed more than 26,000 people across 13 countries, asked just over 2,000 people in the UK where they would like to see more of their energy come from.

The results showed that the most common answer wassolar, with over three quarters (77%) preferring the technology to its closest competitors, tidal power (71%) and offshore wind (70%). Natural gas
and nuclear, the two technologies being pursued most vigorously by the UK government, languished in bottom place with 34% and 31% respectively, while the survey did not even ask UK respondents for their views on coal, which is to be phased out by 2025.

UK (2,020 respondents) International average (26,401 respondents)
Solar power 77% 80%
Tidal power 71% 58%
Offshore wind 70% 67%
Onshore wind 61% 64%
Sustainably sourced biomass 53% 51%
Natural gas 34% 37%
Nuclear 31% 26%

November 16, 2017 Posted by | public opinion, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Minerals deal needed to fuel the clean energy transition

A large part of this challenge involves rapidly scaling up the deployment of renewable energy, while curbing fossil fuel use – but little attention has been paid to the minerals that will be needed to build these technologies.

Wind and solar infrastructure, batteries and electric vehicles all require vast amounts of mined (and recycled) resources. These range from copper for wires and electric motors, to lithium and cobalt for batteries, to smaller amounts of rare metals like indium and gallium for solar cells.

Challenges for minerals supply

While the Paris agreement has created a global framework for managing carbon, nothing similar exists for minerals. This leaves the pursuit of sustainable resource development largely in the hands of mining companies and state-owned enterprises.

Mining these resources generates significant water and air pollution. This problem is increasing: for example, global copper ore quality is declining over time. That means that copper mining now requires excavating twice as much ore as ten years ago to yield the same amount of copper, creating much more mine waste.

Lower commodity prices have meant that investment in exploring new mine sites has fallen. But it takes a long time to develop new mines – it can often take 20 years to go from finding a metal deposit to beginning mining, and only around 20% of discoveries since 2000 have led to an operating mine.

Lack of investment in exploration is driven by short-term thinking, rather than a long-term plan to supply rising demand.

In parallel, resistance to mining, often at a local level, is increasing worldwide. Environmental catastrophes, of which there have been many examples, erode social trust, often delaying or stopping mine development.

A new global mechanism to more effectively plan resource supply could help rebuild trust in local communities, limit price spikes to ensure equitable access to metal resources, and balance the international tension which arises as industries and governments compete for minerals from a shrinking list of countries able to tolerate and profit from sustaining a mining industry.

A global agreement on mineral resources

Developing a global mechanism will of course be difficult, requiring substantive dialogue and strong leadership. But there are organisations that could step up, such as the United Nations Environment Assembly, or the newly established Intergovernmental Forum on Mining Metals and Sustainable Development.

The global community is well aware of the threat that rising sea levels pose to low-lying countries. We need similar awareness of the crucial role minerals are playing in the energy transition, and the risk that supply problems could derail sustainability goals.

To that end, we need to globally coordinate several crucial aspects of mineral development. To start with, while most detailed information on where minerals are mined and sold is privately held, there is publicly available data that could be used to predict possible imbalances in supply and demand internationally (for example copperironlithiumindium).

Publicly-funded institutions have an important role here. They can assess how known supply will meet future demand, and deliver insight into the changing environmental impact.

It should also be entirely possible to develop inventories of recyclable metals, which can be an important supplement to large mining operations.

Compiling inventories of recyclable metals is underway across Europe as part of a move towards a circular economy (where as much waste as possible is repurposed).

While recycling for for metals like lithium for less than 1%, around 40% of steel demand is met from scrap recycled during manufacturing and from end-of-life products and infrastructure. Thinking smarter about eventual dismantling of buildings at the time when they are built, can support better use of recycled resources.

Geoscience agencies already offer maps of underground minerals, demonstrating that this kind of co-ordinated perspective is feasible. Extending this approach to recyclables can mitigate environmental impact and ease the social objections to new mines.

A global mechanism for mineral exploration and supply could also be an opportunity to promote best-practice for responsible mining, with a focus on social license and fair and transparent royalty arrangements.

Overcoming resistance

It’s a challenging proposition, especially as many countries display less enthusiasm for international agreements. However, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the Paris targets without tackling this problem.

In the decades ahead, our mineral supply will still need to double or triple to meet the demand for electric vehicles and other technologies required by our growing global population.

In short, resource efficiency and jobs of the future depend on an assured mineral supply. This should be a nonpartisan issue, across the global political spectrum.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | RARE EARTHS, renewable | Leave a comment

Energy efficiency: the foundation of the climate transition

 REneweconomy, By Andrew McCallister on 10 November 2017

I’m preparing for a trip to your fine nation later this month to speak at the National Energy Efficiency Conference in Melbourne, so I’ve been reading up on Australian energy policy debate. It’s been fascinating.

I still have a lot to learn about your energy system, but so far one thing stands out: the discussion in Australia seems overly focused on the transition underway on the supply side of the market.

Don’t get me wrong – the decarbonisation of the world’s energy supply is crucial, and you won’t find a stronger advocate for renewables than me. Way back in the 1990s, I installed many small, remote PV and wind systems with my own two hands, and trained others to do the same.

More recently I ran two of California’s signature renewables programs – the California Solar Initiative and Self-Generation Incentive Program.

However, focusing solely on the move to low carbon generation without pursuing demand side opportunities in an ambitious, systematic way actually makes the transition harder.

Energy efficiency and demand response are just as important to the energy transition as renewables are, as we’ve learnt in California. Today’s technology helps us utilise energy smartly; and indeed the least expensive and cleanest unit of energy is the one not needed at all.

Energy efficiency has been a central contributor to California’s energy mix since the 1970s.Efficiency is responsible for an annual reduction in statewide electric consumption of 90 TWh (Figure 1), the equivalent of 30 percent of the state’s current electricity consumption and enough to power around eight million households.

California’s per capita electricity use has remained flat since the mid-1970s, despite a fourfold increase in real economic output, larger homes and the proliferation of consumer appliances and electronics.

Since 2000, the state’s overall carbon emissions are down 8 percent while its economy has grown by 28 percent. California’s deliberate, consistent focus on energy efficiency has played an important role in these successes.

Going forward, the California legislature and Governor Brown have established a goal to double the flow of efficiency savings by 2030. The estimated impacts of this doubling effort are shown in Figure 2. Achieving the goal will see per capita consumption decline around 25 percent by 2030. California’s suite of energy efficiency activities includes:

  • Building energy efficiency standards. The 2019 Standards update will require residential new construction to have advanced building shells, high-performing water heating and mechanical systems, all-LED lighting and, for the first time, sufficient self-generation (typically PV) to offset all electric load. Incremental costs are shown to be cost-effective.
  • Appliance efficiency standards. California has explicit authority to develop efficiency standards where national standards do not exist. Recent standards adopted include general service LEDs, computers, and battery chargers. Many appliance standards are currently in development (e.g. industrial fans and blowers, certain compressors and pumps, and room air conditioners)……

Modern energy management complements renewable energy supply

Highly efficient products and practices increasingly bundle with digital communication and control features to support demand-side responsiveness to the momentary needs of the grid. Good design of buildings and industrial processes, together with advanced energy management systems, can provide both beautifully tailored performance for customers and valuable and much-needed grid services that aid seamless incorporation of renewable energy into the supply mix.

Energy efficiency optimises the distribution grid

Energy efficiency frees capacity in the distribution grid, allowing new electric loads to be served with only moderate added investment. That ‘headroom’ will be essential, since California’s clean energy path will include widespread electrification: pervasive adoption of electric vehicles, heat pumps, induction cooking and other electric end use technologies. Electrification brings additional benefits, such as avoiding both investment in new retail gas distribution infrastructure and the risks to health and safety from indoor combustion.

Energy efficiency creates jobs and builds economic resilience…… Andrew McCallister is a Commissioner at the California Energy Commission, the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. He will be the international keynote speaker at the National Energy Efficiency Conference in Melbourne on 20th and 21st November 2017.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change, ENERGY, USA | Leave a comment

Energy economics: there is no way that the nuclear lobby can stop wind power becoming ever cheaper

Cost of wind keeps dropping, and there’s little coal, nuclear can do to stop it, An annual look at the costs of generating power. Ars Technica MEGAN GEUSS – Though a lot has changed since 2016, not much has changed for energy economics in the US. The cost of wind generation continues to fall, solar costs are falling, too, and the cost of coal-power energy has seen no movement, while the cost of building and maintaining nuclear plants has gone up. And none of those conclusions reflect subsidies and tax credits applied by the federal government.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear corporation talking up wind, solar power – (doubts about nuclear future?)

Rosatom talks up wind, solar power in quest for ‘diversified portfolio’ By Frédéric Simon | 7 Nov 17Nuclear power remains the cornerstone of Rosatom’s expansion strategy, notably in emerging countries. But the Russian state-owned energy conglomerate is now also talking up renewables, citing wind, solar and batteries as part of a diversified low-carbon energy portfolio.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Russia | Leave a comment

New record low for solar PV in Chile energy auction

Renew Economy 7th Nov 2017, The latest energy auction in Chile has set a new record low for solar PV,
with one bid by the local subsidiary of Italian outfit, Enel, coming in at
just $US21.48/MWh The result beats the previous record low of $US24.20 set
in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, although it could be beaten
by Saudi Arabia’s first auction, should the early results of a tender
that secured an offer of $US17.90/MWh be verified later this month. Either
way, the Chile government is happy with the result, which secured an
average price of $US32.5/MWh for 600MW of solar and wind capacity, expected
to produce around 2,200GWh. This is a 75 per cent fall since its auction
program began in 2015. The Chile government says it will mean consumer
prices fall by nearly 50 per cent once all the new projects are completed
and online in 2024.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

UK energy experts recognise that renewable technologies are far cheaper than nuclear

University of Manchester 7th Nov 2017, ‘Business as usual’ is not an option for the UK’s nuclear energy
sector; our energy companies’ ‘regressive and unjust funding
approach’ is causing fuel poverty, and the Northern Powerhouse could play
a key role in shaping the UK’s climate change future. These are just some
of the opinions in a new publication, ‘On Energy: How can evidence inform
future energy policy?’, by The University of Manchester.

It is being launched on Wednesday 8th November at the House of Commons. The report
brings together some of the country’s leading energy, policy, and climate
change scientists, academics and experts to offer their opinions and
solutions for the UK’s most pressing energy issues. The publication draws
on expertise from across The University of Manchester and external
collaborators, including Lord Jim O’Neill, Director of the Dalton Nuclear
Institute, Professor Francis Livens, leading climate change researcher,
Professor Alice Larkin and SUPERGEN Bioenergy HubDirector, Professor
Patricia Thornley.

On the UK’s nuclear policy, Professor Livens and his
co-authors from DNI, Professors Tim Abram, Juan Matthews and Richard
Taylor, say the industry needs to recognise that its competitors in the
renewable sector, such as wind, solar and wave, are substantially cheaper.
To combat this he says more innovation is needed to reduce the cost if it
is to be taken seriously as an alternative to fossil fuels.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Plummeting costs of solar power are disrupting energy technology: greenhouse gas emissions reduced

Climate change and the great disruption, Press Republican 5 Nov 17  RAY JOHNSON Climate Science “…… The pie chart from the Environmental Protection Agency website titled “Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions by Economic Sector in 2015” indicates that “Electricity” generation accounts for 29 percent of the total while “Transportation” is not far behind at 27 percent.

Let’s concentrate on one portion of the U.S. GHG emissions: “Electricity.”

A reduction in GHG emissions here will greatly help in addressing climate change. Technology disruption can be observed in the graph “Swanson’s Law.” It’s based on an observation by Richard Swanson, “that the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules tends to drop 20 percent for every doubling of cumulative shipped volume” (Wikipedia). The log-log graph shows the cost reduction for the price of crystalline silicon PV cells in $/watt. In 1977 the cost was $76.67/watt, and by 2014 the price had dropped to $0.36/watt.

Thus the cost is more than 200 times lower than in 1977 (based on 2014 data). This graph is also called “the learning rate.”

Module costs have dropped in half since 2008. The implication is that if one made a business decision in 2008 to proceed with a nuclear or fossil-fuel-burning generating plant based on the cost of PV modules at that time, that business plan may have to be scrapped today due to the rapidly falling PV costs. It would not be economical.

And, this is exactly what is happening around the world. Hundreds of coal-burning plants are being retired, mothballed and/or construction stopped, with China taking the major initiative.

The bar chart “Global Solar Energy Capacity (GW)” details this extraordinary PV growth. It highlights the gigawatts of PV capacity and its near exponential growth in the last 15 years. Separately, for the U.S. alone, this trend indicates that solar could contribute 20 percent of total electricity consumption by 2030.

 This growth in solar will reduce coal mining, number of coal-burning plants, nuclear power facilities and even oil sand extraction and drilling in locations that are expensive (deep water, difficult locations — Arctic) and so on.

And we have not even discussed the impact of wind turbine technology yet. Next time.

Meanwhile, our planet continues to warm. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration bar chart shows that warming trend with the first nine months of 2017 among the top three warmest in the 137-year climate record.

And so it goes.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | climate change, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Wind power from Denmark to supply UK, by underwater cable

State of Green 31st Oct 2017, The Danish Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate has given the green light to a 750-kilometre-long cable (Viking Link) that will connect Denmark with the United Kingdom. The cable, which will be the world’s longest direct current cable, will help provide Denmark with a highly secure supply and better potential for selling its wind-produced power.

The cable will run from Vejen in southern Jutland to Bicker Fen in Lincolnshire, around 170 kilometres north of London. At 1400 megawatts, its transmission capacity will be the equivalent to one third of Denmark’s total consumption. Strong electricity connections abroad are crucial for a small nation like Denmark.

We will be able to sell our power in a larger market when we have a surplus of renewable energy. At the same time, we get a larger supply of power to Denmark when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Strong electricity connections to our neighbors thus contribute to ensuring cheap and reliable power for consumers and to keep the value of the wind power high. It is for the benefit of all Danes and companies in Denmark, says Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Denmark, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Building solar and wind farms a cheaper proposition than running aging coal and nuclear generators

Renewables Are Starting to Crush Aging U.S. Nukes, Coal Plants

  • Fluctuations in solar, wind power remain a challenge: Lazard

Building solar and wind farms has started to become a cheaper proposition than running aging coal and nuclear generators in parts of the U.S., according to financial adviser Lazard Ltd.

 Take wind: Building and operating a utility-scale farm costs $30 to $60 a megawatt-hour over its lifetime, and that can drop to as low as $14 when factoring in subsidies, according an annual analysis that Lazard’s been performing for a decade. Meanwhile, just keeping an existing coal plant running can cost $26 to $39 and a nuclear one $25 to $32.

Two years ago, “what was interesting to us was the lifetime cost of renewables on an energy basis reached parity with conventional resources in a bunch of geographies in the U.S.,” said Jonathan Mir, head of the North American power group at Lazard. “Now, what we are seeing is that renewable technologies on a fully loaded basis are beating” existing coal and nuclear plants in some regions.

 The report by Lazard, whose estimates are widely used in the power sector as benchmarks, comes as President Donald Trump’s administration is vowing to stop the “war on coal” and put America’s miners back to work. Hundreds of power plants burning the fuel have shut in recent years amid escalating competition from natural gas, wind and solar. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has proposed rewarding coal and nuclear plants with extra payments for their dependability, touching off a national debate over the country’s future power mix.
“We still need, in a modern grid, fuel diversification and a diverse generation stack,” Mir said.So someone has to think hard about how to organize this transition.”

The sudden swings in generation from wind and solar farms remain a challenge for power grid operators, he said. A modern system can handle renewables supplying about 30 percent of its power — and as much as 50 percent in some cases — but levels beyond that require storage technologies, he said.

Gas has helped, backstopping intermittent solar and wind generation. And their combined decline in costs is rapidly changing the U.S. power mix, Mir said. Globally, renewables are set to almost double from last year to make up 51 percent of the mix by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The challenge of keeping open older plants has arrived faster than expected and more early retirements may ensue, he said.

These days, the most efficient gas-fired plants now cost about $700 a kilowatt to build, down from $1,000 to $1,100 five years ago, Mir said. Rooftop solar remains expensive in the U.S., costing four to five times as much as a utility-sized solar farm.

The drop in renewable energy costs is already changing how utilities operate, Mir said, using American Electric Power Co. as an example. Once the biggest burner of coal in the U.S., AEP is now planning to invest $4.5 billion in wind power and has said it could stop burning the fossil fuel altogether. “AEP is doing this because it is the cheapest way to provide energy,” he said.

November 3, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, renewable | Leave a comment