1. Joined
    06 Mar '12
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    625
    26 Nov '14 17:212 edits
    http://phys.org/news/2014-11-lazard-cost-competitive-gains-solar.html

    "...
    Critics wanting to curb the enthusiasm of supporters of alternative energy have held up production cost as proof that coal and natural gas cannot be rivaled. Now there is a sign that the story changed. Diane Cardwell, reporter covering energy for The New York Times, said that solar and wind energy are starting to win on price versus conventional fuels.

    Cardwell pointed to a study from the financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard, and she said that "the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm's analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents." The Financial Times headlined in September that "US solar and wind start to outshine gas," where Ed Crooks, also referring to the Lazard study, said large wind farms and solar plants were now cost-competitive with gas-fired power in many parts of the United States —-even without subsidy. "We used to say some day solar and wind power would be competitive with conventional generation," George Bilicic, global head of power, energy and infrastructure at Lazard, told the Financial Times. "Well, now it is some day."

    Over the last five years, the cost of electricity from wind and solar power plants has gone down to the point where in some markets the price is cheaper than for coal and natural gas, said the New York Times. Yes, but how much of a role did subsidies play in this price picture? Cardwell said "prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources." Lazard issued its study findings earlier this year, in "Lazard's levelized cost of energy analysis Version 8.0," in September. "We find that Alternative Energy technologies are complementary to conventional generation technologies, and believe that their use will be increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons, including RPS requirements, carbon regulations, continually improving economics as underlying technologies improve and production volumes increase, and government subsidies in certain regions."

    The Lazard study also noted that "Over the last five years, wind and solar PV have become increasingly cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, on an unsubsidized basis, in light of material declines in the pricing of system components (e.g., panels, inverters, racking, turbines, etc.), and dramatic improvements in efficiency, among other factors."

    However, cost has not been the only argument showing the weak side of renewables; there is another factor: "You can't dispatch it when you want to," said Khalil Shalabi, vice president for energy market operations and resource planning at Austin Energy, who was quoted in Cardwell's New York Times report. She said the utility, like others, "still sees value in combined-cycle gas plants, even though they may cost more."

    ..."

    I think I will make a non-brainer of a prediction here: It will not be many more years now (perhaps ~10 years? ) until the price of wind and solar will come down so much that they, even without any subsidies, would be by far more cost effective (in terms of cost per kilowatt-hour ) than any fossil fuel power in any inhabited part of the globe. Then the critics against solar and wind will be permanently silenced for good with egg in their face and governments and public alike would be more encouraged to give renewables greater support while gradually phasing out fossil fuels.
  2. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
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    52945
    26 Nov '14 17:34
    The biggest problem now is that solar especially has the potential to significantly disrupt the energy business. As a result, there will be strong political pressure against its deployment by individuals. Here in Cape Town for example, the local council gets revenues for resale of electricity. They therefore will not support a buy back system whereby users who install their own solar panels can sell electricity to the grid as it will eventually cut into their profits.

    South Africa has however recently brought online a fairly sizable solar power plant:
    http://www.solarreserve.com/what-we-do/pv-development/letsatsi/
  3. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
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    26 Nov '14 21:05
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    The biggest problem now is that solar especially has the potential to significantly disrupt the energy business. As a result, there will be strong political pressure against its deployment by individuals. Here in Cape Town for example, the local council gets revenues for resale of electricity. They therefore will not support a buy back system whereby user ...[text shortened]... irly sizable solar power plant:
    http://www.solarreserve.com/what-we-do/pv-development/letsatsi/
    Well, based on the same principle that the number of cars increases to exceed the capacity of the roads to support them, the amount of energy consumed will increase to exceed the generating capacity of all sources of renewable energy. My impression of South Africa is that it's pretty sunny, it's logical to go for solar power there. In the U.K. solar is less effective, but in the summer one can get over 10 kWh from solar panels. I think that a combined system using solar and wind when they are available, nuclear to top up the bulk, and then fossil fuels to cover times when solar and wind are unavailable as for load management is probably the way forward. They've all got their downsides (with nuclear being spectacularly bad if it goes really wrong) but our societies run on energy - so we need all of them. I still think we should be building gas cooled reactors and not PWRs but I doubt the powers that be are going to listen to me.
  4. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
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    52619
    26 Nov '14 23:011 edit
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Well, based on the same principle that the number of cars increases to exceed the capacity of the roads to support them, the amount of energy consumed will increase to exceed the generating capacity of all sources of renewable energy. My impression of South Africa is that it's pretty sunny, it's logical to go for solar power there. In the U.K. solar is ...[text shortened]... lding gas cooled reactors and not PWRs but I doubt the powers that be are going to listen to me.
    What about thorium reactors? I heard they are much safer than any uranium type.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor
  5. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
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    27 Nov '14 00:58
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    What about thorium reactors? I heard they are much safer than any uranium type.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor
    Yep, could be good but as far as I know no one has developed the technology. The advantage of a gas cooled reactor is that we know how to build them and there is no possibility of the zirconium/steam reaction that invariably makes PWR incidents into complete disasters.
  6. Cape Town
    Joined
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    29 Nov '14 08:551 edit
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think that a combined system using solar and wind when they are available, nuclear to top up the bulk, and then fossil fuels to cover times when solar and wind are unavailable as for load management is probably the way forward.
    You have missed out things like hydro-power, geothermal and biomass. I am not a big objector to Nuclear, but it is not necessary. It is also not the cheapest option for new developments. I support keeping old Nuclear plants running for as long as it is economic to do so, but I do not think development of new plants is the best use of the money. Far better to put the money into green energy as it the resulting power will be cheaper, and in addition it will make other green energy power cheaper giving a significant net gain.

    Renewable's have got to the point where they are more than sufficient to provide the bulk of the energy. Solar and wind do have the time issue, but that can be balanced with biogas, geothermal, hydroelectric, storage systems and maybe a little fossil fuels if necessary. The problem right now is entirely to do with politics and education. The cost reductions have taken place within the last five years, and most people are still stuck with arguments that do not take the cost reductions into account.
  7. Cape Town
    Joined
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    29 Nov '14 08:56
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    What about thorium reactors? I heard they are much safer than any uranium type.
    Far better is to put the money into renewables such as solar and wind.
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