Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans runs through their analysis of the updated forecasts in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Renewables 2019 report, released this week. In its “base case” global renewable energy capacity will increase by 50% over 6 years. Rising from 2,501GW in 2018 to 3,721GW in 2024, it will add the equivalent of the entire US electricity system. In the “accelerated case” it’s 60%, further adding the equivalent of Japan’s. 85% of … [Read more...]
Germany 2021: when fixed feed-in tariffs end, how will renewables fare?
Starting in 2021 many of Germany’s existing “pioneer” wind turbines, solar PV installations and biogas plants – launched with generous price guarantees - will stop receiving fixed feed-in tariffs. That means renewable capacity may be shut down if they can’t find a new business model to run on. The new rules comes at a decisive time for Germany’s energy transition as it tries to increase renewables to meet emissions targets and gradually increase … [Read more...]
India: coal plummets, renewables stepping in
In 2018, 80% of India’s total energy lending went to renewables. Coal got the rest, a major fall compared to 2017. No wonder, given coal plants have been running at below 60% utilisation for two years with the operators suffering huge losses. Renewables are now undercutting coal and getting cheaper. And shortages in water – needed for plant cooling – just add to their woes. Vibhuti Garg at IEEFA catalogues the problems, then describes the … [Read more...]
Women facing barriers in the renewables workforce
Gender discrimination always matters. It should matter even more to the new green economy. Justice aside, barriers against half the workforce limit your talent pool. For a sector where "business as usual" guarantees failure we need to ensure the fairest selection processes from the widest possible pool as new jobs are created every day. But today’s energy sector has a bigger role to play. Energy is now arguably the 21st century’s “sector of … [Read more...]
An independent Global Energy Forecast to 2050 (part 2 of 5): wind and solar
Schalk Cloete is creating his own 5-part independent Global Energy Forecast to 2050, to compare with the next IEA World Energy Outlook, due in November. Many of his assumptions are different from the big institutions, not least that technology-neutrality will be widely adopted as the best policy, as carbon budgets are exhausted around 2030. There are other big differences too. He starts with wind and solar, two technologies that the IEA and … [Read more...]
Can other technologies replicate Solar PV price reductions?
Catherine Wolfram at the Haas School of Business reviews the new book “How Solar Energy Became Cheap” by Greg Nemet. It traces Solar PV’s history from Bell Labs in 1954 through to the present. The phenomenal price drops mean today’s cost/kWh is 1,000 times lower than in the 1970s. The analysis is split into four epochs when output was dominated by US, Japanese, then German and finally Chinese production. How much were improvements thanks to sheer … [Read more...]
China’s Solar Paradox: why invest today when prices keep dropping?
Josh Gabbatiss at Carbon Brief reviews a paper published in Nature Energy, showing how grid parity is already achievable today, subsidy-free, across all China’s 344 biggest cities. Consequently, China is already reducing solar subsidies and realigning policy to de-emphasise scale and re-focus on quality. So far, so good. But China now joins those developed nations where cheaper solar has thrown up another problem: why spend now when it’ll be … [Read more...]
2018 investment in renewables 12% down on 2017
At $272.9bn, 2018 investment in renewables capacity was 12% down on the previous year. Despite this, renewables’ investment was three times the total for coal and gas-fired generation capacity combined in 2018. Over the last decade, $2.6tn was invested in renewables (half going to solar), quadrupling capacity to 1,650GW. Consequently, renewables’ share of electricity generation reached 12.9%, up from 11.6% in 2017. This avoided an estimated 2bn … [Read more...]
An independent Global Energy Forecast to 2050, to compare with the IEA’s WEO 2019
Schalk Cloete is creating his own Global Energy Forecast to 2050. He wants to see how his own independent analysis will match up with the next IEA World Energy Outlook, due in November. And so do we. Rich with data, his major predictions include a global policy shift from technology-forcing to technology-neutrality shortly before 2030, driven by growing worldwide acceptance of the severity of climate change. The exhaustion of the 1.5°C and, … [Read more...]
New solar cell allows a photon to release two electrons, not just one
In conventional silicon-based solar cells, each photon of light can only knock loose a single electron, creating electricity. That’s even if the photon carries more than enough energy to do so. One hammer, one nail. Now, for the first time researchers at MIT and Princeton University in the U.S. have got high-energy photons to strike silicon and kick out two electrons instead of one, opening the door for a new kind of solar cell with greater … [Read more...]
Cheaper than coal: IRENA’s comprehensive report on cost declines, all renewables categories
The International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) latest report Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 details the global weighted-average levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for all commercially available renewable technologies. It states that renewables are already the lowest-cost source of new power generation in many parts of the world today. By as soon as 2020, onshore wind and solar PV will join hydropower in consistently offering a … [Read more...]
Kenya, Bangladesh: Environmental rulings stall coal plans. So should the economics
The construction of two coal-fired power plants has been stalled in Kenya by the Kenyan courts and in Bangladesh by UNESCO, both for environmental reasons. It’s an opportunity for the two countries to also recognise the purely commercial reasons to go for renewables, says Simon Nicholas of IEEFA. While most of Asia has been powering ahead with renewables, Bangladesh has been lagging behind. But a continued rollout of renewable energy will quickly … [Read more...]
Utility-scale batteries can undercut peaking gas and coal
A report by IEEFA looks at trends in the U.S. to install utility scale batteries. The report’s author, Dennis Wamsted, gives examples of how it is replacing the peaking and seasonal generation being provided by gas and coal. Emissions aside, the numbers are starting to add up. In Hawaii the combination of solar generation and storage is expected to undercut the price for fossil fuel generation. In Texas, Vistra Energy’s batteries are soaking up … [Read more...]
Can India’s 30m grid/diesel irrigation pumps go solar?
The Indian government is looking for effective ways to increase the use of solar powered pumps for small farm irrigation. About 70% of India’s rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, and successful farming usually requires irrigation. Currently, 21m pumps are connected to a primarily fossil fuel grid and 8.8m are diesel while solar has risen to just 130,000, mostly added in the last 5 years. Lelin Thouthang … [Read more...]
Time for tech-neutral incentives if renewables growth won’t stop climate change?
In 2018 energy use grew 2.9% and emissions 2%. That means renewables are not keeping up with energy’s growth: it will need a four-fold increase in wind and solar’s growth to do so, says Schalk Cloete. There’s more: to cut global CO2 emissions by the 3% per year we need to meet the Paris goals wind and solar growth rates must increase by over an order of magnitude. He reviews the evidence and concludes that current technology-forcing policies – … [Read more...]
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