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Earth Power United States News Science Technology

Renewables Are Set To Overtake Gas and Coal By 2027 (computerworld.com) 263

Lucas123 writes: Renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric will overtake natural gas as an energy source by 2027. According to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, ten years later those same renewables will have surpassed the largest electricity-generating fossil fuel: coal. Solar and wind will account for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested in energy over the next 25 years, according to Bloomberg's New Energy Outlook 2016 report. One conclusion that may surprise, Bloomberg noted, is that the forecast shows no golden age for natural gas, except in North America. As a global generation source, gas will be overtaken by renewables in 2027. The electric vehicle boom will increase electricity demand by 2,701TWh (terawatt hours), or 8% of global electricity demand in 2040. The rise of EVs will drive down the cost of lithium-ion batteries, making them increasingly attractive to be deployed alongside residential and commercial solar systems.
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Renewables Are Set To Overtake Gas and Coal By 2027

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @05:12AM (#52327707)
    especially about the future....Berra
  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @05:19AM (#52327723)

    Title and summary don't agree. There is a difference between "surpass coal and gas by 2027" and "surpass gas by 2027 and surpass coal by 2037".

    Even ignoring the date differences, there's a difference between "surpass gas", "surpass coal", and "surpass gas and coal".

    And let's not get into the whole base load thing. Gas and solar isn't baseload, but coal is....

    • by Doub ( 784854 )
      The linked article explicitly reads "It will be 2037 before renewables overtake coal.". So yeah, the title of the Slashdot entry is wrong.
      • by FirstOne ( 193462 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @10:10AM (#52329001) Homepage

        I don't buy into the projected increasing amounts of coal usage. As the Chinese discovered, one pays a heavy price burning coal, (pollution of water, soil, air), and India will soon learn this lesson first hand.

        Coal in the USA maybe a NOP by 2027, where coal generation peaked near 49% (2007), 33%(2015) [eia.gov] and is still dropping like a rock 31% (April 2016).

        As for the so called base-load argument, is a fool's argument, eventually we will need to use renewable's to provide more than 150% of our overall demand, using excess energy production to put Carbon back into the ground. Preferably in the form of Methane(CH4), which we can later tap to stabilize the grid when needed.

        .

    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @06:18AM (#52327883) Journal

      Gas and solar isn't baseload, but coal is....

      "Baseload" is defined as the lowest point on the demand curve over a fixed time period, it would be meaningful to this discussion if there was a city somewhere on this planet that had a flat demand curve. Such a city does not exist so "baseload" generators must store electricity in giant batteries called hydroelectric dams. When the batteries are still not enough to meet peak demands they have to fire up the gas turbines. There is absolutely no logical/technical reason why renewables cannot use the same infrastructure to match the supply and demand curves.

      Agree, the title is misleading but so is every 20yr economic forecast I've ever seen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's possible to supply base load and everything else by renewables, it will just take some time to get there.

      First you build up your intermittent renewable sources and long distance high voltage DC lines for distribution. Then you replace your relatively modest base load requirements with a mixture of non-intermittent renewable (geothermal, biomass/waste, hydro, ocean thermal etc.) and storage (pumped, battery, compressed gas etc.) Finally you adjust your usage to ease the burden a bit, since for example m

    • TFA also seems to conflate 'energy' with 'electricity'. Few people use coal for heating these days, but a lot of heating is still gas and heating is a huge proportion of total energy consumption. Even replacing 100% of electricity generation with renewables will leave a lot of gas still being burned.
    • I can't wait to hear why you think Gas isn't a baseload power source.

      • by TheSync ( 5291 )

        Gas isn't a baseload power source.

        Indeed Gas wasn't a base load power source, now it is becoming that in many places.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @05:35AM (#52327755)

    I see no reason why polluting industries like (oil/gas companies) should be subsidized at all. Frankly, we should be taxing them based on how much pollution they emit and how damaging it is. We are eventually going to have to remove CO2 from the air and it's going to be a pricey project. We might as well start saving money for it now.

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <salgak AT speakeasy DOT net> on Thursday June 16, 2016 @05:48AM (#52327793) Homepage

      Just as long as renewables ALSO don't get any subsidies. I would note that the pollution for wind and solar is remote from the operational location: smelting and refining the rare earths for magnets and solar panels isn't exactly what you would call a "green" process. . .

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        I'd be good with that especially here in Ontario. When the whole "green energy" thing started, they were paying 0.87kWh for solar and wind. It's about 2/3's to 1/2 that now, but it's still driving the peak price for electricity through the roof. Compared to nuclear, hydro-electric, coal or natural gas which was paid 0.0005-0.0083 for subsidies.

      • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @07:26AM (#52328105) Journal

        And smelting and refineing the materials for a coal plant or a water turbine, is green?

        Actually in civilized countries processing of raw materials is regulated and basicaly non poluting.

        Solar Panels don't use rare earthes btw ...

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Subsidies are there to keep energy prices low for consumers and industry, and to encourage the growth of the right type of generation when there are cheaper but undesirable alternatives.

        Also, solar doesn't require rare earth magnets and are actually quite clean if produced using modern processes. And before you say it, even China has to use those cleaner processes if you force them to, like the EU has.

        • Subsidies do not reduce prices; the costs are still there, you're just paying for it in your taxes instead of at the pump/meter. The stick in the eye is, with subsidies you're paying for it whether you use it or not.

          That said, the benefit of subsidies is as you say; to foster growth by hiding the true costs and making the sticker price more appealing, and that is not inherently a bad thing.
          =Smidge=

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        Building solar panels doesn't create anywhere NEAR the pollution as coal and oil do. We should be subsidizing renewables, and not subsidizing fossil fuels.
      • Just as long as renewables ALSO don't get any subsidies.

        Why not? They are not intrinsically polluting and can be made without polluting the environment. Fuels on the other hand are intrinsically polluting and cannot be made without polluting the environment.

        I would note that the pollution for wind and solar is remote from the operational location: smelting and refining the rare earths for magnets and solar panels isn't exactly what you would call a "green" process. . .

        Smelting and refining can be done in a 100% "green" manner using electricity. The fact that it isn't done this way in China is a good reason to impose a pollution tax on imported goods from China. This tax would allow US companies to compete again Chinese companies that don't have to follow US regulation.

    • Parent Poster's sig is ironically relevant to it's comment:

      "I cannot be held accountable for the things I say or do."
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      They're subsidized because, as it turns out, modern information-based economies come to a screeching halt when the power goes out unexpectedly, especially for more than 90 seconds. Same reason we do silly things like subsidize agriculture. What do you mean, you can't go an entire winter without eating? You said you wanted to remove subsidies....

      I'm sure that those in the great lakes region who rely on electric heat in the winter to keep from freezing to death disagree with your ideas of introducing

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        Your post would make sense if reliable grids with lots of renewable energy were impossible. As we know they are possible, you will have to explain how that is nonsense before your point holds any water.

    • I see no reason why polluting industries like (oil/gas companies) should be subsidized at all.

      Because jewbs and economy that's why. But no seriously, take away all the subsidies and watch the industry rock your world especially all those lovely knockon effects to most other industries as a result of lost energy supply or an upset of the energy price.

    • We are eventually going to have to remove CO2 from the air

      You can't be that stupid, that has to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the ignorant. CO2 is constantly removed from the atmosphere. There's a certain amount of elasticity to the comparative rates of CO2 generation and removal, but to a first order approximation, if all man-made CO2 generation (not including breathing) stopped, the atmospheric levels of CO2 would return to pre-industrial levels fairly quickly (a small number of years) by natural pr

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

        ...t to a first order approximation, if all man-made CO2 generation (not including breathing) stopped, the atmospheric levels of CO2 would return to pre-industrial levels fairly quickly (a small number of years) by natural processes.

        "a small number of years" means on the order of a hundred years. Oddly, there isn't a well-defined lifetime, because there are many competing processes of absorption and reemission. About 20-35% remains in the atmosphere after equilibration with the ocean, with a lifetime of 2-20 centuries; and isn't fully removed until it's converted into calcium carbonate, with a time scale of 3 to 7 thousand years. Reference: http://www.annualreviews.org/d... [annualreviews.org]

  • Too little, too late humaaaans!

  • "...those same renewables will have surpassed the largest electricity-generating fossil fuel: coal."

    Well, obviously. Aren't there efforts to make coal "illegal"?
  • Despite not having labeled the vertical axis on thier graphs I am going to guess this is a somewhat reasonable extrapolation. However it completely misses things like new regulations and new technologies. If we still power our electric cars with lithium ion batteries in 2040 it will be a sad day indeed as it's not unlikely a better battery technology will come around by then. It's actually pretty likely this report will be far off the mark.
    • I like how the summary also suggests that battery costs will always decrease. I would say that battery costs will decrease until battery production is inevitably consolidated, then battery prices will increase as demand increases.

      I don't understand why analysts always forget that; battery production is an industry which has a fairly high barrier to entry (environmental regulation, high capital requirements, etc.) so it's not an industry in which competition can keep increasing to keep prices low as battery

    • If we still power our electric cars with lithium ion batteries in 2040 it will be a sad day indeed as it's not unlikely a better battery technology will come around by then.

      We already have really great batteries for cars. See, what you do is store the energy in hydrogen. But just storing hydrogen is hard because it's either a non-energy-dense gas or a cryogenic liquid, so what you do is simply add some carbon to it so that it's liquid at normal temperatures and pressures. Then you can simply pump this "hydr

  • Many events are perpetually 10 years from now. Diabetes cures, global collapse for various reasons, commercial fusion reactors, peak oil. My BS detector goes off for any dramatic prediction 10 years in the future.

  • It's a theory and has about the same validity as predicting global temperatures for the next ten years. Once the reality of removal of subsidies and replacement costs takes hold, cheaper sources will be back.

  • By 2027? I wonder, if we'll have the flying car by then...

    This reminds me of a tale about one ancient prankster [wikipedia.org], who promised a local ruler to teach a donkey to read — in 20 years (in exchange for room, board, and pay). Asked by a friend, if he is not afraid to fail — and face the consequences of the ruler's anger — he replied: "In 20 years either the donkey, or the ruler, or myself will die."

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol

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