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Earth Power Science Technology

Renewable Energy Set To Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020, Says Report (independent.co.uk) 261

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Continuous technological improvements have led to a rapid fall in the cost of renewable energy in recent years, meaning some forms can already comfortably compete with fossil fuels. The report suggests this trend will continue, and that by 2020 "all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range." Of those technologies, most will either be at the lower end of the cost range or actually undercutting fossil fuels. "This new dynamic signals a significant shift in the energy paradigm," said Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), which published the report. "Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now -- overwhelmingly -- a smart economic one." The report looked specifically at the relative cost of new energy projects being commissioned. As renewable energy becomes cheaper, consumers will benefit from investment in green infrastructure. The current cost for fossil fuel power generation ranges from around 4p to 12p per kilowatt hour across G20 countries. By 2020, IREA predicted renewables will cost between 2p and 7p, with the best onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects expected to deliver electricity by 2p or less next year.
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Renewable Energy Set To Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020, Says Report

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @07:58PM (#55935257)
    when the US and the rest of the world loses collective interest in the middle east? Saudi Arabia is just now trying to figure out how to modernize their country when the price of oil collapses. They're desperately trying to get women into the economy because their current social system isn't compatible with the kinds of two income families countries want/need to maintain the growth/profit margins they're used to.
    • They're probably in for an ugly time of things. The people in power manage to stay in power because they can afford to pay for their own protection and to placate the population with all of that money. Add in those societies being among the more repressive on the planet and you've got a powder keg that's ready to erupt. The only question is how violent it will become and whether or not it will devolve into outright civil war as we've recently seen with other countries in the region.
    • I've seen some terrible [theguardian.com] climate forecasts that are possible in the Middle East if the weather patterns change to bring massive humidity to a previously arid but oppressively hot climate. Even the base line predictions are pretty bad. Agriculture will likely move north (south in the Southern Hemisphere) and the region has few natural resources outside of hydrocarbons. It looks like Mother Nature gives no fks and is about to punch the Middle East in the nuts. Of course the Middle East is probably where a
      • I need to hear this one: where in the Middle East did "a lot of of the CO2 come from"?
        • From the geological formations underneath the Middle East, obviously.
        • by jezwel ( 2451108 )
          I would expect the source is all that oil that is being pumped out the ME and sent wherever to be burnt and end up as CO2 & more (about half a billion tonnes a year)

          There's a lot MORE coal production elsewhere though, so blaming the ME for the majority seems incorrect. China as the highest coal 'producer' was around 3.8 gigatonnes of coal annually, so just on that scale is more than 7.5x as destructive.
          All those stats are highly rounded and not current anymore, but the scale should be a nice indicat

    • when the US and the rest of the world loses collective interest in the middle east?

      It's not just the middle east but they are going to be the ones hit the hardest. The answer is that there will be a shift in power and it will ultimately have a positive and stabilizing effect. However, the resettlement of power can sometimes turn very ugly with events like civil wars and genocides. The faster the world abandon's their oil supply, the shorter and more tumultuous the transition period will be. Their economies are going to stagnate if they haven't invested in an educated populous.

      TL;DR: a

    • It already is. Thanks to "fracking," the USA has now discovered massive reserves of oil and natural gas domestically, and allowed the revival of many supposedly "tapped out" oilfields. The USA is set to become one of the world's largest producers of natural gas--and we have such a surplus supply that Shell's Pennzoil division is making motor oil from natural gas!

    • I'm wondering what's going to happen when the US and the rest of the world loses collective interest in the middle east?

      Not gonna happen. Less than half of the oil the US imports is used as fuel in the first place. Even without being used as fuel, petroleum is still in massive demand as a chemical feedstock.

      Not to mention something under a third of the US's oil imports come from the Middle East in the first place - the bulk comes from Canada, Central, and South America.

      Far more interesting to me than the

      • Only Norway has significant oil. Sweden and Finland has nothing and Denmark has 1,4% of what Saudi or Russia has. Denmark actually is a small net importer of oil. For Sweden and Finland, energy imports for the transport sector is a major cost. Replacing this with domestic electricity will strengthen economies rather than weakening them. For Norway, the change will bring about a significant decrease of spending power.
        • by shilly ( 142940 )

          Poor Norwegians. Just a single trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund to get them through the transition.

    • I'm wondering what's going to happen when the US and the rest of the world loses collective interest in the middle east? Saudi Arabia is just now trying to figure out how to modernize their country when the price of oil collapses. They're desperately trying to get women into the economy because their current social system isn't compatible with the kinds of two income families countries want/need to maintain the growth/profit margins they're used to.

      Well, the Gulf and Arabia i general is one of the cheapest and most efficient places to generate solar energy. They have lots of space for solar plants and very few people complaining about solar panels ruining their view and offending their sense of aesthetic harmony. Some of the smaller countries in the region are already stating to realise this so my theory on what will happen when oil starts to decline is that if they can figure out a way to export the energy or switch to high energy manufacturing they

    • when the US and the rest of the world loses collective interest in the middle east? Saudi Arabia is just now trying to figure out how to modernize their country when the price of oil collapses.

      I wouldn't worry about that in our lifetimes. The Iran Shah was right when he said "oil was too valuable to burn". If we collectively decided to not drive our cars tomorrow we'd still be refining ludicrous amounts of crude oil.

      While our petrol and diesel consumption is levelling off, our consumption of aviation fuel and bunker fuel shows no signs of slowing down. Even if they stopped our consumption of oil based products is still skyrocketing at an alarming rate. Where will we get the plastic to individuall [seriouseats.com]

  • We can also get rid of giveaways like net metering while at it.

  • Instead of propping up the coal industry how about that money be spent educating and training displaced coal miners so they can work in the solar industry? They'll have jobs and I'm sure they'll be much happier every day working above ground instead of dark dangerous mines.
    • We may be seeing the last "hurrah" of coal over the next 20 years. The development of new nuclear reactor technologies such as the molten salt reactor fueled by plentiful thorium-232 could end the age of coal within 40 years.

      • I've looked into that, watched the YouTube video about it, even emailed the guy behind it, and from what he tells me the government isn't in the least bit interested in the technology, and without their support production-level power plants based on it won't ever happen.
      • by Socguy ( 933973 )
        Nuclear has perpetually over promised and under-delivered. It's projects are routinely overpriced and behind schedule, not to mention that nobody wants it in their back yard. Furthermore, it's simply not necessary. It's entirely possible to run the grid with solar, wind and storage. Throw in hydro and geothermal and things just get easier.

        Nuclear is a boondoggle... and that goes double for new unproven technologies. Even if governments were to decided to start a massive build-out of reactors, it
      • by Uecker ( 1842596 )

        Of course, I would help a lot with credibility if the molten-salt people do their homework correctly, before making outstanding claims.

        https://www.technologyreview.c... [technologyreview.com]

    • In round numbers, how many solar installers are needed in the poverty-stricken Appalachian region? Once every miner's shack and double wide gets a solar installation placed on top of it, what will they do? Collect unemployment until a new job training bill comes along and gives them another glimmer of hope.

  • by atomicalgebra ( 4566883 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:17PM (#55935345)

    The problem is the cost of storage. Renewables are intermittent meaning we need storage or baseload backup. 96% of our current storage is done thru pumped hydro [wikipedia.org]. All of our current storage will last less then a hour. It is not feasible to scale that up to a 100% percent renewable grid [pnas.org]. Batteries are even more expensive and less feasible for grid level storage.

    Given the realities of climate change, it is immoral to oppose nuclear power

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rahvin112 ( 446269 )

      The latest bid prices for wind and solar in the US included solar and were cheaper than old and already paid for power plant coal power. (approx 3 cents a kwh). These bids included storage.

      Storage + renewable prices have already reached parity or cheaper than coal in most of the US. This paper indicates the remaining rest of the continental US will reach parity in a few years. Battery prices have fallen precipitously over the last 5 years and storage is competitive with generation.

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

      All of our current storage will last less then a hour.

      That caught my eye, so I looked up data about a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant that is ~300km from me. The flow is ~188m^3/s and the capacity of the reservoir is 3 700 000 m^3. Which means that it could go for 5.4 hours delivering 735 MW.

    • by Uecker ( 1842596 )

      Well, I like to argue differently: It is immoral to propose nuclear power, as it is too costly and pursuing nuclear takes away funding from more efficient solutions and solutions which can be faster deployed.

      Storage is really a serious issue only once you have more than 60% renewables. Storage prices are expected to go down significantly. Also demand-side electricity management, large-sale power distribution, over provisioning, and efficiency improvements will also help to reduce the problem. I do not see a

    • Given the realities of climate change, it is immoral to oppose nuclear power

      Not even close. A nuclear power plant built today needs to have an economical life of 50 years, and it will still have a discounted construction cost per kWh of over $0.07. That doesn't include operations cost, maintenance, waste disposal, or decommissioning.

      The age of nuclear is over until major issues are solved. For now, 10-year life natural gas plants are the only socially (or morally if you insist) acceptable means of provid

  • ... by 2020 "all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range." [and will continue to drop below them] ... "Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now -- overwhelmingly -- a smart economic one."

    THIS is how The Invisible Hand eliminates greenhouse gas emissions. B-)

    Cost of renewable energy collection drops as tech advances.
    * Solar photovoltaic,

    • The people worried about carbon emissions are just not realizing the huge downturn in output we'll see over the next few decades. They are worried about what things might be lime in 100 years when within 50 we'll have a massive drop in CO2 output.

      Instead they should be focusing on real pollution which has a far larger lifespan in the environment than CO2...

      • Unfortunately, we'll still be producing lots of CO2 during those 50 years before the drop. Which will produce very bad results.

        The market is moving far too slowly if we want to do things like keep Florida above the ocean.

    • Control and conversion IS semiconductor tech, with all the Moore's Law benefits.

      Only in part. The issues with power electronics are not generally with component density but rather with component properties (max voltage, max current, heat losses, lifetime, manufacturing costs etc.). These things do advance but not in line with Moore's law which was about digital circuitry.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:27PM (#55935409)

    >"Renewable Energy Set To Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020"

    Or we figure out effective fusion, finally, and all our problems with energy and everything related to it just go "poof"! Energy related nation conflict, emissions, waste, land use, most of the danger, most of the cost, supply issues, many of the grid issues, could all quickly disappear.

    OK, so I am living in a dream world. But it COULD happen.... based on how long it has already taken, probably not by 2020, unfortunately.

    • Sorry, but due to the cost of tritium, DT fusion, the only kind we can hope to do in the next 50 years, will be about $1 per KWh.

      Effective fusion has been figured out long ago. The Sun fuses 93 million miles away, and we collect its energy here.

      No way will earth fusion reactors compete with solar and wind.

      instead, we'll be using it for spacecraft and military ships and submarines.

      • Space applications, perhaps. Once we get to building million tonne space vessels. Submarines? That would require truly miniature reactors, and fusion at small scale sucks really badly.
        • I'd argue that the large reactor reactor designs suck the worst. laser and tokamaks are expensive failures, and ITER will be another.

          a working fusion reactor won't one of these big silly monsters; it will be something in the direction of a fusor/polywell if it happens at all.

    • Even if you had your load mostly from fusion, you still need pumped storage for grid balancing.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Fusion isn't that great. It doesn't ramp up/down very well, for example. It's also gonna be expensive compared to renewables. While it will be great in niche applications, I don't imagine it will have a massive impact on the electrical grid. By the time it becomes commercially viable it just won't be needed.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:31PM (#55935429)
    Remove fossil oil, and relation between nations change. Saudis will be obvious loosers. I wonder if Russia's economy is diverse enough to avoid collapse. And without oil, US interest for middle east vanish, will US Israel support too?
    • Remove fossil oil, and relation between nations change. Saudis will be obvious loosers.

      The Arabs are actually sitting on, or rather under, another massive energy resource which is solar. They can produce solar energy very efficiently, without interruption and at low prices. If they start using their sovereign wealth funds to begin prepping now and if they can get that energy to market somehow they do stand a chance of transitioning relatively smoothly.

      I wonder if Russia's economy is diverse enough to avoid collapse.

      Ummm.... No.

      And without oil, US interest for middle east vanish, will US Israel support too?

      No, not as long as pandering to the Christian community in the US is key to wining elections in the US so unless there is a sudden

    • Remove fossil oil

      How? By not burning petrol in cars? Where will we get our aviation fuel? Our bunker fuel? How do we manufacture plastics? How do we repair let alone build new roads? How do we put roofs over out heads (rhetorical, personally I find asphalt tiles bizarre given the many alternatives)?

      Saudis will only be the obvious losers if they rest on the laurels and don't invest in the obviously coming changing refining requirements. They sit on a lot of undesirable heavy and sour crude which is ripe for plastic manufactu

  • Cost curves of fuel vs. electric just intersected roughly 10 weeks ago in late 2017. Note: That is cost for electric going down, like pretty steep. And that's with *todays* electric vehicles, with shitty batteries and no economics of scale. Experts expect ICEs to be basically gone in 10 years, simply by economics alone. Some say in roughly 5 years from now people will start paying for someone to take their ICEs, so bad will be their feasibility vs. EVs. The private owned ICE car industry is in for an equiva

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @12:11AM (#55936455) Homepage

    Even more important than "renewable" energy is diversity of energy sources. Every source of energy has its drawbacks:

    - Hydroelectric dams are "renewable" and fossil-free. But they disrupt river life.
    - Wind farms kill birds and (in some people's view) ruin landscapes.
    - Nuclear energy creates waste products that are very, very hard to safely dispose of, and create risks of leaking in natural disasters.
    - Solar energy farms require a lot of land, and endanger and displace wildlife.
    - Tidal-powered turbines kill marine life.

    Any energy source, if replicated at extremely large scales, will have major undesirable side effects. If instead we have a wide array of sources, each one's negative impacts won't be as widespread.

    Just like with investing money...don't put all your eggs in one basket.

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Solar energy farms aren't the best way to go about it. There's a lot of space available on domestic roofs - in areas where sunlight is plentiful, you can generate a substantial amount of energy from your roof.

      Now, getting the grid to cope with that kind of input is another matter.

      But you're absolutely right about diversity. I wonder about the kind of mindset that thinks an all-electric dwelling is the way to go.

    • Noticed you didn;t list any drawbacks of fossil fuel energy.
      "Wind farms kill birds" - overblown negative - loads of birds die flying into vehicles, cats kill millions more birds than all the turbines. All farms require a lot of land, at least with solar panels you can still have sheep on the same land to keep the grass cut and provide shade for the sheep.
      "Any energy source, if replicated at extremely large scales, will have major undesirable side effects." - Major - certainly in the form of fossil powe
      • You're right, I didn't list drawbacks of fossil fuels, because the story was about renewable energy. The drawbacks of fossil fuels are widely known: air pollution, accidents that foul rivers and oceans, minor earthquakes.

        With that said, I think fossil fuels can be a part of a diverse energy future. We should reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but not necessarily eliminate it.

        You can nit-pick the negative effects of specific items on my list, but regardless, there are drawbacks to any energy source, at l

  • Renewable Energy Set To Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020, Says Report

    There are two main sources of fossil fuel consumption, electricity and automobiles. This refers to electricity consumption, in essence replacing old fossil fuel burning power plants with clean, renewable energy. Hooray! Sign me up to get my house outfitted with highly efficient solar shingles. Unfortunately, this doesn't help fossil fuel consumption by automobiles but it's definitely progress in the right direction.

    The challenge for climate change will be getting China to consider the alternative

    • The challenge for climate change will be getting the US to consider the alternative

      FTFY

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        The challenge for climate change will be getting the US to consider the alternative

        FTFY

        Negative. The problem is how this issue is spun. US may use more kWh per capita but in terms of total consumption, China beats us hands down. China's consumption is also increasing while the US's consumption is decreasing. Evidence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. Thanks for playing though.

        • china is however pushing hard on EV's and removing coal.
          • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

            china is however pushing hard on EV's and removing coal.

            It's obviously not effective:

            China: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]
            United States: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

            Talk is cheap, results are all that matters.

            • China knows the problem they have and politically is heading in the correct direction whereas trump is not. Unfortunately China is a huge barge that will take a while to turn around. Per capita is the way to compare because because of the size of the populations, if you don't then you just encourage complacency and have no desire to improve. I guess you understand that as your links do show China per capita usage is one third of USA per capita usage even though their market growth rate over the last decade
              • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

                China knows the problem they have and politically is heading in the correct direction whereas trump is not.

                The data doesn't support your argument if you ACTUALLY look at it. Our energy consumption trends are levelling off and going down over the past 20 years. China's has consistently gone up. And this is not about Trump you idiot. We're are talking the past TWENTY YEARS. That would be Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Trump. Take your Trump hating shit elsewhere moron.

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