Renewable Energy Costs Expected to Drop 40% in Next Few Years

CommanderFrank

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Renewable energy costs are finally nearing the tipping point in competing or besting fossil fuels in cost across the globe.

The game has changed; the plummeting price of renewables is creating a historic opportunity to build a clean, sustainable energy system and avert catastrophic climate change in an affordable way.
 

Ashbringer

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I could put solar power on my home right now, but it would be so rigged together with chewing gum and glue. But I'd still have to buy $4k of Ebay solar panels while buying $500 worth of deep cycle batteries. In the end it would cost me $7k to get solar energy that wouldn't totally remove me off the grid.

I'd love to have it, but my electrical bill is like maybe $2k a year at most?
 

jschuricht

Weaksauce
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Sep 7, 2008
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Most people go with grid tie solar systems that spin your meter backwards during the day. Batteries are only needed if you setup a battery backed or offgrid system and $500 won't get you far. Just think of it as paying your electric bill 5-10 years in advance.
 

Chunder

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This is only common sense, things get more efficient and prices come down (assuming companies don't pocket the cost savings themselves, holding back adoption and progress). I'm curious to see how much bigger the economic benefits that a majority of European states, which have already switched to 60-80% renewables, will get in the near future. Especially those who've already switched to 100% renewables thanks to re-nationalization of companies, such as Iceland, Norway, Georgia, etc.
 

bloodypulp

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Renewable energy industries are subsidized by the government. The so-called affordability is being paid for by the taxpayers. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. If renewables were truly affordable they would not need government meddling.
 

SLee

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Especially those who've already switched to 100% renewables thanks to re-nationalization of companies, such as Iceland, Norway, Georgia, etc.
Those European countries that are ~100% renewable electricity do it with hydro. Unfortunately, the US is too big and nowhere near water-rich enough to do this. European countries that try to do it with intermittent renewables (solar and wind) remain a fossil fuel dominated electricity system, like Germany, despite all the hype that they get.

Of course, this also ignores the fact that electricity only accounts for a fraction of total energy use; the other big energy users being things like transportation, heating and industrial use. All that energy is overwhelmingly provided by fossil fuels.
 

macksomerville

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We wont get into the envriomental impact of all these "GREEN" "Renewable" energy sources, that for the most part are actually carbon negative for their entire lifespan. But hey as long as its all made in China.
 

THRESHIN

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lower costs is great, i'm all for it. the problem is we need a constant energy supply - not just when the wind blows and the sun shines.

take wind in my example here: let's say you have a very large load supplied to your grid by wind turbines, forget the problems such as land usage and cost for a minute. what happens when the wind suddenly stops and those turbines stop supplying load? there becomes an unexpected load defect on the grid. the next power supplier in line gets overloaded and they trip off the grid. that load defect gets bigger and goes to the next one and the cycle continues. its a cascading effect. the end result is what happened back in August, 2003 - the massive blackout that took out the entire eastern seaboard.

the solution to this is rather simple. natural gas turbines are the quickest thing to put onto the grid. to support wind generation, we currently idle natural gas turbines to pick up the slack when wind drops off to prevent this exact scenario. so much for being environmentally friendly!

i'll be all for wind and solar once this problem gets sorted out. if it ever gets sorted out. storage would have to be massive and very expensive to support this. currently, we don't even have the technology for that.
 

illumined

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Yes, it's so cheap that hundreds of thousands of poorer people in Germany are returning to burning wood for heat. Where does the wood come from? The forests of course.

[quote[The problem has been compounded this winter by rising energy costs. The Germany's Renters Association estimates the heating costs will go up 22 percent this winter alone. A side effect is an increasing number of people turning to wood-burning stoves for warmth. Germans bought 400,000 such stoves in 2011, the German magazine FOCUS reported this week. It marks the continuation of a trend: The number of Germans buying heating devices that burn wood and coal has grown steadily since 2005, according to consumer research company GfK Group.[/quote]

And this is held up as a model of success by the Greens. It is actually, it made energy unaffordably expensive, which is what this is really about.
 

Draax

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Wait ... so you mean technology gets cheaper and more efficient as it matures? Of course the anti-renewable energy posters want it to be perfect, cheap, and efficient RIGHT NOW! All the while posting using a device which started out weighing 27t, took up 1800 sq ft, and consumed 150 kw of power, and cost 6 million .... after adjusting for inflation.
 

Ducman69

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Renewable energy costs are finally nearing the tipping point in competing or besting fossil fuels in cost across the globe.
Absolute and complete nonsense.

1) Oil is at historic lows for any period in history after adjusting for inflation. Its just ungodly cheap right now. Coal and natural gas prices are also very low.

2) Renewable energy currently enjoys in some cases up to 270% subsidies. Even nuclear energy is highly subsidized, so to reduce the cost by 40% still leaves it requiring subsidy to compete. You can't subsidize your primary energy source, that's just common sense as you're still just paying a higher price, just that you're now FORCED to buy that since subsidies are money taken from you by force by the government.

That completely ignores the issues of geographic and seasonal viability. You're not going to get a reliable power grid on wind for example without producing massive excess capacity, since we tend to have lower winds depending on the time of day (solar activity plays a big role), and some times as sailors know that even on the open seas (which are usually much windier), that you can have days of still air. And the issues with solar are not only a geographic issue since it requires very large amounts of land (often being deforested) per watt, but that its less efficient the further north you go and varies greatly by the seasonality as well.

Now if you could store massive amounts of energy at high efficiency for release on demand, these wouldn't be a big issue, but most battery technologies we have are tremendously inefficient (lost power means higher costs) and quite often very environmentally unfriendly to boot.

There is also this fallacy that "renewable" energy is always better for the environment, but with corn based ethanol we know that's not the case. In the US today, about 95 percent of our ethanol is derived from corn kernels. Because corn is such an energy-intensive plant to grow, and because the methods to process corn into ethanol are also energy intensive, it takes seven barrels of oil to produce eight barrels of corn ethanol, from field to processing plant. So when you factor in production, ethanol curbs climate-changing vehicle emissions by a mere 12 percent over gasoline, according to a 2006 University of Minnesota study by Jason Hill and David Tilman. With blends like E85, that emissions reduction plummets to 2 percent. And that’s only if the corn is grown on existing fields. Converting wildlife preserves to cropland to grow more ethanol would result in a net greenhouse gas release that would exacerbate global warming and negate any benefit. Furthermore, its only cost effective if corn remains such a highly subsidized good, and of course we have to question how that effects our agriculture industry putting giants like Monsanto in such a position of power.

Nobody likes to shit where they eat, but there is a big disconnect between rational conservationists that look at the numbers and the big picture and your left-wing environmentalists that put so much emphasis on what FEELS good. Growing energy FEELS good, even if the numbers show its not viable or eco-friendly.
 

illumined

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Wait ... so you mean technology gets cheaper and more efficient as it matures? Of course the anti-renewable energy posters want it to be perfect, cheap, and efficient RIGHT NOW! All the while posting using a device which started out weighing 27t, took up 1800 sq ft, and consumed 150 kw of power, and cost 6 million .... after adjusting for inflation.

Amory Lovins, leader of Friends of the Earth is opposed to clean and abundant energy. Yet he supports wind and solar. These are two mutually exclusive positions, one of you must be wrong. Based on the fundamental weaknesses of wind and solar, I'm betting you're the one who's wrong.
 

Ocean

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I wonder the benefit/cost of a system that would be designed to offer free air conditioning operation, and almost nothing more.
 

Draax

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Amory Lovins, leader of Friends of the Earth is opposed to clean and abundant energy. Yet he supports wind and solar. These are two mutually exclusive positions, one of you must be wrong. Based on the fundamental weaknesses of wind and solar, I'm betting you're the one who's wrong.

Mutually exclusive ... hardly? Lovins is a proponent of renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy. Lovins has reservations about an abundant form of energy because he is scared of what humans would do with it not because of its viability. As to the fundamental weaknesses of wind and solar Lovins disagrees with you:

"Variable but forecastable renewables (wind and solar cells) are very reliable when integrated with each other, existing supplies and demand. For example, three German states were more than 30 percent wind-powered in 2007—and more than 100 percent in some months. Mostly renewable power generally needs less backup than utilities already bought to combat big coal and nuclear plants' intermittence."
 

illumined

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Mutually exclusive ... hardly? Lovins is a proponent of renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy. Lovins has reservations about an abundant form of energy because he is scared of what humans would do with it not because of its viability. As to the fundamental weaknesses of wind and solar Lovins disagrees with you:

You're saying renewables provide clean and abundant energy, he is saying clean and abundant energy is bad and supports renewables, presumably because they DON'T provide clean and abundant energy. Therefore these two positions are mutually exclusive.

"Variable but forecastable renewables (wind and solar cells) are very reliable when integrated with each other, existing supplies and demand. For example, three German states were more than 30 percent wind-powered in 2007—and more than 100 percent in some months. Mostly renewable power generally needs less backup than utilities already bought to combat big coal and nuclear plants' intermittence."

I find it hilarious that you would post that quote considering that earlier in this thread I posted an article (with a quote from the article) talking about how hundreds of thousands of people are going back to burning wood for heat because electricity costs have gone up so much, "Efficient use of energy" essentially means "make it so expensive that only the rich can afford it". Reactionary conservatism FTW!
 

SLee

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"Variable but forecastable renewables (wind and solar cells) are very reliable when integrated with each other, existing supplies and demand. For example, three German states were more than 30 percent wind-powered in 2007—and more than 100 percent in some months. Mostly renewable power generally needs less backup than utilities already bought to combat big coal and nuclear plants' intermittence."

In this report of German electricity production in 2013, page 37 provides daily combined electricity production of solar and wind:

http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/dow...on-from-solar-and-wind-in-germany-in-2013.pdf

One can see how variable solar and wind are even for a country of about 357,000 km^2. Note also how terrible wind and solar resources are in Germany that despite a nameplate capacity of 35 and 38 GW respectively, they produce less electricity combined than the 12GW of nuclear. Germany's biggest renewable success story is actually biomass, which involves a lot of burning wood and grasses.
 

sleepeeg3

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Renewable energy costs are finally nearing the tipping point in competing or besting fossil fuels in cost across the globe.
It's not even close to being affordable. The greenies always totally ignore the efficiency of solar (~10-20%) and wind (~30%). The per kWh figures they post are total bullshit. While the nameplate capacity of the power plant (total theoretical value) may be something like 200MW, once you factor in that the sun don't shine or wind don't blow 24/7, the actual value is something like 20-67MW.

Also, the life expectancy of a solar panel (25 years) and a wind turbine (20 years) are between 1/4 and 1/5 of a conventional coal (100 years) or nuclear power plant (60 years) are. Since the capital costs are the biggest expense, if you average that cost over 100 years, the costs for renewable energy multiply again. The greenies completely leave this out of the equation.

Based on figures for the most efficient plants in the country from as recent as May 2015, averaged over 100 years, the actual costs break down something like this:

Nuclear - $0.03299
Geothermal - $0.03855
Coal - $0.04394
Wind - $0.10850
Solar - $0.17171

If anything, those figures favor wind and solar, because there are more articles on them, so I keep them more updated. Have not factored gas yet.
 
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