Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

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Pointedstick
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Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:42 pm

I know we have some doubters here, so this may prove enlightening: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByfoG0 ... pGaDg/view

Part of it is specific to New Mexico, but there's a lot of data from nationwide and worldwide sources. Such as this:

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In most wholesale markets, solar is beating coal, and wind is beating natural gas--with natural gas at historically low prices. Forget the environment; fighting renewable energy is a now boneheaded financial move.
Last edited by Pointedstick on Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
dragoncar
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by dragoncar » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:17 am

Who's fighting solar? I'm not a fan of rooftop solar (so ugly) but I'd love for my utility to build plenty of solar and give me a fat discount. If they need funding, they can offer a deal where I pay for the panels and they give me the output.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:33 am

Is the solar line on the cost graph based on local (e.g. rooftop panels) or central (which would include transmission power losses and infrastructure investment)? Just curious.

For what it's worth, I applaud a goal of lower cost energy and a cleaner environment. I do not so much applaud the presuppositions in the linked article, e.g. CO2 is bad and solar/wind will make a (significant) contribution to reduce "climate change".
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by dualstow » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:02 am

The only bad news I've read is that massive arrays can fry birds.
I'd love to have some cells on my roof, though. My brother already does.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by sophie » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:49 am

Interesting that wind is even cheaper than gas. My understanding though is that you need a site that is consistently windy to make it economically feasible. NYC rooftops would otherwise be an optimal place for windmills, and you avoid the bird issue since there are few of them to be found at rooftop levels.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Maddy » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:07 am

When something claims to be cheaper, but it's not being done on any meaningful scale, you've either got to conclude that the market is inexplicably inefficient or that there are costs that are not being considered.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:22 am

Mountaineer wrote:Is the solar line on the cost graph based on local (e.g. rooftop panels) or central (which would include transmission power losses and infrastructure investment)? Just curious.
The latter. An all-inclusive price.

Mountaineer wrote:For what it's worth, I applaud a goal of lower cost energy and a cleaner environment. I do not so much applaud the presuppositions in the linked article, e.g. CO2 is bad and solar/wind will make a (significant) contribution to reduce "climate change".
Forget about climate change. It's irrelevant; this is a market-based phenomenon. But still, I can't help but be reminded of this cartoon I saw recently...

Image

Maddy wrote:When something claims to be cheaper, but it's not being done on any meaningful scale
Read the paper! These economic realities are extremely new which is why there isn't a huge installed base yet, but now it is being done on a meaningful scale. 63% of new capacity last year was renewable!

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All around the USA, coal-burners are being replaced with renewables as they age due to simple economics. Energy generation infrastructure doesn't turn on a dime; these things take a while. But the trajectory is clearly in favor of renewable electricity sources, especially if and when natural gas wholesale prices rise again. The market is historically good for gas right now, and that's the only reason why it's still competitive with wind.

And that's just in the USA. All around Europe, the energy market has been quietly transformed over the last few decades, unbeknownst to us:

http://www.investmentu.com/article/deta ... 0pziVe5hFI

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And that was as of 2012!
Last edited by Pointedstick on Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Desert » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:28 am

That was a great read. The one critical issue I didn't see mentioned is the demand/supply matching. That's the issue that will eventually limit the percentage of energy coming from solar and wind. Affordable energy storage is the final piece of the puzzle that would allow renewables to achieve greater than 20-30% penetration.

Pumped hydro is still the cheapest, but limited to certain areas with the right topography. Battery technology continues to improve, and maybe will eventually be cheap enough to be widely used for bulk energy storage. AES is placing some large banks now, but I believe the resultant LCOE is still high.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:35 am

I think transmission is going to wind up the major solution to supply/demand matching issues. It's always sunny or windy somewhere, and the USA is a big place. Lots of transmission options also improves grid resiliency. Nuclear probably plays a role too for peaking loads and ramping up and down quickly. Same with geothermal in the western USA.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Desert » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:44 am

Pointedstick wrote:I think transmission is going to wind up the major solution to supply/demand matching issues. It's always sunny or windy somewhere, and the USA is a big place. Lots of transmission options also improves grid resiliency. Nuclear probably plays a role too for peaking loads and ramping up and down quickly. Same with geothermal in the western USA.
Yeah, there are three main grids in the U.S. If sharing is improved it'll help some with the issue. NG peaking plants work better (cheaper) than storage right now, so that should enable pretty high percentages of solar/wind also.

Wind has been competitive for years, but I have to admit I'm shocked at how far solar has come. That is simply great news for the world.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by dualstow » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:27 am

That better world cartoon is hilarious!

Somewhat related: I recently broke out the Suntactics phone charger that MediumTex used to talk about. Works great in Florida, if not the cloudy Northeast US.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by stuper1 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:05 pm

What if it's a big hoax, and we create an even bigger national and global government for nothing?

Having said that, I have nothing against green energy, as long as it makes sense after considering all externalities.
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