Thursday, February 16, 2017

U.S. Solar installation in 2016 -- up 95% over 2015 -- total 14.6GW ... Japan off 20% to 8.6GW

So if China had a HUGE years with 34GW new solar installed, at least the U.S. was no slouch, with 14.6GW.

As for Japan, based on the METI feed-in tariff statistics installations have been gradually tapering off over the past 12 months (at least through October 2016, the latest data METI has made available). RTS puts Japan 2016 installations at 8.6GW, down from 10.6GW in 2015. The bloom is off the rose.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sunday Morning Feb 12, 2017 - Wind Power supplies >50% of U.S. Great Plains Area Grid Electricity

For the first time, wind power supplied a MAJORITY of the electricity in a major U.S. region - the Southwest Power Pool.

It sux to be in the coal business these days.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More gas

Bloomberg reports that recent natural gas discoveries under the Eastern Mediterranean are huge:

"The whole area from Cyprus to Lebanon and Egypt may be sitting on even bigger gas fields. The United States Geological Survey estimates they could hold more than 340 trillion cubic feet, an amount that would surpass U.S. proven reserves, though many in the industry think the actual volume may be lower."

Of course, Europe now gets its gas from Russia, Norway, and a mix of other sources - North Africa and even now the U.S. Gulf and East coasts.

If some of this Mediterranean gas resource can be developed, it will shift demand away from Russia and Norway. To the extent of a shift from Russia, Russia will look to export more to China and Asia. And North American gas exporters will seek other markets in the Americas and Asia.  That will push back against potential development of new resources from Madagascar to Canada.

Still, the bountiful nature of natural gas finds suggests to me that the world CAN move away from coal at a faster pace, with just a little political will.  It also suggests that we need to accelerate research, development and commercialization efforts at using natural gas as efficiently as possible. It is going to be with us for awhile, and it should be the last fossil fuel we are using as we continue on a longer scale transition to 100% renewables.

BNEF Publishes Predictions for 2017

You can find BNEF Advisory Board Chair Michael Liebreich and Chief Editor Angus McCrone's ten predictions for 2017 this link.

A few highlights (quoting from the report):

  • "Super-low-cost renewable power – what we are now calling “base-cost renewables” – is going to force a revolution in the way power grids are designed, and the way they are regulated.
  • The old rules were all about locking in cheap base-load power, generally from coal or hydro plants, then supplementing it with more expensive capacity, generally gas, to meet the peaks. The new way of doing things will be about locking in as much locally-available base-cost renewable power as possible, and then supplementing it with more expensive flexible capacity from demand response, storage and gas, and then importing the remaining needs from neighbouring grids.
  • New nuclear plants will remain the political bauble they currently are, unless next-generation nuclear can prove it can deliver fail-safe designs at affordable cost. Demand will be suppressed by energy efficiency and self-generation, and augmented by electrified transport and heat.
  • Putting super-cheap, “base-cost” renewable power at the heart of the world’s grids in this way will require a revolution in the way the electricity system is regulated.
Nonetheless global markets in renewable energy will slow in 2017, because of (1) cost/price reductions, (2) China slowdown, and (3) Japan:
  • The third reason is Japan, where the runaway solar boom of recent years has turned to the predicted bust, and few utility-scale plants are likely to be given grid permits from now on. Instead, rooftop solar will become the main game, but its best years lie some way in the future, not in 2017.
As for cost and price -- BNEF predicts another 25% drop in module prices and 10% overall system cost drop, this year!

Just imagine the headline "nuclear power system cost to fall another 10% in 2017"?  Pretty hard to imagine. All we get is "if you pay $100 billion now to develop it, the next generation should be cheaper and safer ... no guarantees though folks", and not a really good track record of delivering on time and under budget. Meanwhile, the nuclear sector seems to have much bigger, and almost as numerous, corporate financial disasters as the solar PV sector.

Japan's plans are a bit underwhelming, and will likely continue to be so until the electricity sector deregulation is implemented down the road.  But at least as a result of the feed-in tariff, Japan has a base of domestic AND foreign participants in the electricity sector who will play a role in pushing the energy transition going forward. And its manufacturers will see the incredible global business opportunities they will have IF they can incubate successfully in the domestic market.

The U.S. is likely to backslide significantly at the Federal level, but that is a topic for another day.