BNEF US Wind Turbine

Published on February 5th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

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US Renewable Energy Eclipses Fossil Fuels For Second Year Running, Says BNEF

February 5th, 2016 by  

The US renewable energy industry installed 16 GW of clean energy in 2015, which is 68% of all new capacity installed.

These are the primary findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Sustainable Energy in America Factbook report released this week, released in conjunction with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

A Permanent Shift?

“Two thousand fifteen will surely be remembered as a watershed year in the evolution of US energy, as the industry passed important milestones and the federal government finalized critical new policies,” the authors of the report wrote.

“The already rapid de-carbonization of the US power sector accelerated with record numbers of coal plant closures and solar photovoltaic system commissionings, while natural gas production and consumption hit an all-time high. Concurrently, the US continued to enjoy greater benefits from energy efficiency efforts as economic growth outpaced the growth in electricity consumption.”

All of these milestones meant that the US power sector’s CO2 emissions fell to its lowest annual level since the mid-1990s, with a “negligible to positive” impact on customers “as prices for electricity and fuel remained low by historic standards and customer choices expanded.”

Bloomberg also concluded that, “Perhaps most importantly, many of the key changes seen in 2015 are likely permanent shifts, rather than temporary adjustments due to one-time events.”

“2015 clearly marked a turning point for American energy,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “As we consider the post-Paris world, we should acknowledge that we’ve entered a new era here in the United States. We now have both the tools and the capacity to achieve carbon reductions and cost savings along with economic growth. Now our job is to continue to build on the progress we’ve made.”

Wind Drives 2015 Progress

US Wind TurbineThat progress included a massive year for the renewable energy industry, which installed 16 GW of new capacity, accounting for 68% of all new capacity installed in the US in 2015 — the second year in a row that clean power growth that eclipsed fossil fuel capacity additions. Wind power was the main driver of this growth, with 8.5 GW of new wind turbines installed around the country. This drive was primarily the result of developers attempting to take advantage of the thought-to-be expiring Investment Tax Credit — which was promptly extended in by Congress in December.

“This is a long-term trend,” said Colleen Regan, a BNEF analyst who follows North American power markets. “System costs have really come down for renewables, which makes the case for installing them a lot stronger.”

“Wind power is two-thirds cheaper than it was six years ago, and after installing eight gigawatts of clean wind energy last year we’re going to keep this American success story going,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, commenting on the report. “Now that there’s long-term policy certainty in place, and with states and utilities increasingly looking to lock in low-cost wind energy to reach their Clean Power Plan carbon reductions, now is a great time to invest in American wind power. Wind energy is well on its way to reliably supplying 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.”

Solar deployment reached 7.3 GW in 2015, with solar PV additions across both distributed and utility-scale sectors hit new records of 2.9 GW and 4.4 GW respectively.

Investment In Clean Energy Paying Dividends

Importantly, demand for energy flatlined during 2015 at the same time as gross domestic product grew 2.4%. This continues a multi-year trend, with US energy consumption falling 2.4% since 2007 while GDP has grown by 10%. Energy productivity — the ratio of US GDP compared to energy consumed — improved in line, growing by 2.3%, following a 1.1% increase in 2014. Interestingly, while BNEF concede that the US economy is playing its part, “estimates put forward by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy indicate that as much as 60% of the energy intensity improvements seen since 1980 are due to efficiency gains, with only 40% the result of structural changes in the US economy.”

This decoupling between energy consumption and economic growth is a vital proving ground for electricity industries the world over. For many years experts claimed that there could never be such a decoupling, but recent developments in the US and China are proving that assumption to be inaccurate.

US clean energy investment also rose, up 7.5% from 2014 to $56 billion in 2015, with $30.2 billion of that investment heading to solar. $11.6 billion was invested in wind energy development, while another $11.1 billion was poured into technology to improve grids, boost efficiency, develop storage systems, and other ways to better manage power usage.

A long list of key observations from the report can be found here, as well as links to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook report itself.

 
 
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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • SchroedingersDog

    Have they cut the noise level from windmills? I stayed once at a farmhouse on Nantucket, a blessed respite from the noise, filth, noise and more noise of the mainland.
    Except it wasn’t.
    There was a constant, low moaning sound, with just enough variation that you had to notice it. it was one lone windmill, stuck there bc it got a huge tax credit. I groaned nearly every day, 24 hours of the day, and there was nowhere on the otherwise silent farm to escape it. (not much going on in the winter)

    Nantucket, being an island, is windy. It’s cheaper to put the windmill on land than out to sea where it would be less aggravation, and the tax credit is just as good no matter where you stick it.

    Wind is a great resource, but no form of power is truly free a fully clean.

  • Martin

    Question:
    US GDP is up by 10 % since 2007, energy use is down by 2.4 %, is that total energy or electricity use?

    Last paragraph states that $ 30.2 billion was invested into solar, but another article on cleantechnica stated that on a world basis $ 25 billion went into solar, which number is correct?

    Thank you already for clearing this up.

  • Freddy D

    Huge milestone. Next will be adjusted for capacity factor. In other words, if renewable actually runs at about 30% of its rated capacity and nat gas at 65%, then gas still more installed last year.

    • Bob_Wallace

      US 2013 and 2014. CCNG had a CF of 48%. Gas peakers had a CF of 5%.

      Wind had a CF of 33% but that averages in a lot of earlier wind, some of it in the low 20% range. From what I can tell recent years installed wind CF is probably averaging over 40%.

      There is only 5 months of data for PV solar but it ran 26%.

      Unless the CCNG was installed in places where it will run more that average then you might want to tighten up your spread a bit….

      http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_6_07_b

      • Freddy D

        Good points. Having said that, even at 48% for gas and say 35% for blended renewables, actual production from newly installed gas is still higher than from newly installed renewables. Will be a nice milestone when that line is firmly crossed.

        And, oh by the way, the reason that there’s any new capacity is largely to backfill retiring coal so that’s a win for pollution reduction regardless.

        • Frank

          The price of gas is very low right now. Not sure what the price has to be for them to make fracking profitable. The price of wind and solar has dropped A LOT in the last 6 years. If gas prices go up, watch out. Next time it might be renewables pushing demand down, and not frackers pushing the supply up.

          • neroden

            Fracking profitability depends on where the well is located.

            The best fracked gas wells have breakevens around $2 or even somewhat lower, but that’s a tiny tiny fraction of wells in the “sweet spot” of the field. Most of them have breakevens in the $3-$4 range, and the ones on the periphery of the field are from $4-$8 or even higher.

        • eveee

          Here is the breakdown of CT (simple turbine) to CCT (combined cycle turbine). CT is the one with lowest capacity factor of about 5%. CCT has a higher capacity factor. To get the effective capacity factor for NG, we must apply the weighted amounts by multiplying by capacities of each. From Black and Veatch.

          http://bv.com/images/default-source/thought-leadership/ghg—combustion-turbine-forecast—shah.png?sfvrsn=0

          Running capacity factors courtesy EIA.

          http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/images/2014.01.15/main.png

          CT 13.5% and CC 21.8%.

          The effective CF of the combination is

          5% x 13.5/(21.8+13.5) + 48% x 21.8/(21.8+13.5)=1.9 + 29.6 = 31.5%

          So we can get weighted energy generation from the numbers.Wind was 47% of new generation and solar was 14%, while NG was 35% from utility dive.
          http://www.utilitydive.com/news/solar-and-wind-comprise-61-of-2015-capacity-additions-gas-contributes-35/411813/

          Average US onshore CF 32.7%. Since new units must be increasing that CF number to average that, 40% will be used.
          http://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/26/new-wind-turbines-capacity-factor-increase-40-60/

          Without even pursuing the numbers, its easy to see that added US wind was 48.4% of new capacity and NG was 35.3% of new additions. If the effective CF of NG was less than wind, it would produce less net energy. Clearly, wind surpasses NG in net generation, even on historical CF times percent additions. But when the new, higher turbine CFs are considered, wind blows NG away any way you slice it.

          Doing the math of all of them:

          CT 0.05 x 13.5%=0.675
          CCT 0.48 x 21.8%=10.46
          Wind 0.40 x 48.4%= 19.36

          Clearly, wind alone adds more generated energy than NG.
          Adding solar pushes that even further.

          http://www.eesi.org/articles/view/renewables-represent-two-thirds-of-new-u.s.-generating-capacity-in-2015

          • eveee
          • eveee

            Check that. New info shows almost no CT was added last year,

            “Natural gas. Additions of combined-cycle plants (2,179 MW) were up by 60% compared to the same period last year and include the new Riviera plant (1,212 MW) in Florida, expansions at the Lake Side Power Plant (629 MW) in Utah, and the Channel Energy Center (183 MW) and the Deer Park Energy Center (155 MW), both in Texas. Significantly less combustion turbine capacity was added in first-half 2014 (131 MW) compared to the same period last year (3,115 MW).”

            http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=17891

            So the comparison still favors wind if new wind CF is 40%.

            Wind 0.40 x 48.4%= 19.36
            NG 0.48 x 35.3=16.94, still less than wind

            Wind CF would only need to be 35% to equal NG generation. Given the added solar, biomass, etc, clearly renewable electric energy generation has hit a milestone. New US renewable electric generation is larger than new natural gas electric generation.

          • JamesWimberley

            Thanks for all the homework.

            Looking ahead, natural gas will not escape the death spiral that has hammered coal. Wind and solar have zero marginal cost and get despatch priority, so they cut into fossil capacity factors and very often their profitable peak load. The simple combustion gas turbines installed as peakers are safe for a couple of decades, but not the big CC ones. Expect installation of these to dry up very soon.

          • eveee

            James – Your comments are insightful and always appreciated. Natural gas being eaten away by wind and solar is the flip side to the argument that wind and solar need natural gas. In truth, in the transition to renewables, there will be plenty of stranded FF assets available to balance renewables for decades to come and their use will dwindle over time.
            As the FF plants will have less use, their life will extend with some wear due to cycling, but that shouldn’t matter as much as the other recourse is to dismantle them entirely since they are relatively unprofitable. Concerns that wind and solar will be unavailable for two weeks in some small region, while doubtful, and remedied by expanded transmission, vanish entirely when viewed from the perspective of FF stranded assets. If these plants are currently supplying the vast majority of power, and are not all aging, there will be a plentiful supply of them. Further, their use on a short time basis, like that of peaker power plants, while marginally expensive, actually costs little on a system wide basis, and their stranded asset situation means they are probably written off.
            Further, in the transition, if those FF plants are used say as in the example, for 2 weeks out of 52, 4% could hardly be viewed as alarming. While 100% renewables is the goal, there is time before 2050 for new technology like storage to become much cheaper and more widely available. That is if politics doesn’t get in the way. Right now, paper after paper says the same thing. Renewables can dramatically reduce carbon at costs that are as low or lower than business as usual. Renewables will both replace FF plants as they age (average age of US coal plants is nearing 40 and most will be retired soon) and displace existing base load plants as their costs drop below marginal costs for existing plants.
            http://phys.org/news/2016-01-energy-approach-nonrenewable.html
            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Price-of-US-Wind-Power-at-All-Time-Low-of-2.5-Cents-Per-Kilowatt-Hour

          • Frank

            I’m not sure I agree with you regarding the combustion gas turbines. Their efficiency is low, their capacity factor is already low. I think whether they can stay in the game depends on batteries staying above a certain price point that I don’t think they will stay above. The batteries only need to keep the grid stable till the more efficient CC plants can spin up, which I think is only around 20 minutes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Think of gas turbines as insurance policies. Batteries can’t generate power. Wind turbines and solar panels can’t store energy. If either part of the system fails the entire system fails. Gas turbines can sit idle for years and still be turned on in a hurry if the need arises.

            No one (that I know of) predicted that we’d lose both SONGS reactors at the same time but we did. A very old, inefficient gas turbine was taken from storage and used to get the grid back up and filled in while better options were created.

          • Frank

            I should have been more precise. While I think that kind of use is very practical, and smart, I don’t think it will pay for a new one, or show up as much of a percentage in year end generation numbers.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Gas peakers now have only a 5% CF. They run only 5% of the time. That means that the electricity coming out of them has to be selling for a lot of money because they are recouping their capex, finex, and fixed opex over a very few hours. (<450 hours a year.)

          • eveee

            The eagle eyed will notice that as an approximation I completely skipped new 2105 CT because it was so small and just calculated the capacity factor of CCT with its capacity. Wind capacity factor for new 2105 added capacity is not fully known, but since the average of all wind units installed to date is 33%, its safe to assume new units will attain that figure or beat it. Adding in the other renewables means its safe to say renewables surpassed all other FF sources in energy and capacity for new installs in 2015.

          • Otis11

            Golly! I hope that chart is wrong… 14% coal in 2038?!? (and almost 68% FF? Total power usage, ok, but in electricity generation?)

            Otherwise, like the analysis!

          • eveee

            Yes. I can’t take responsibility for the chart projections. LOL. I dug it up for the 2015 gas numbers. Its from a gas source. Naturally, they thing gas will be everything in the future. Wind only doubles in 23 years? LOL. Same joke. Its doubling every 5. Solar? We could go on. You get it.

          • While wind tends to be industrial, I think residential solar has a huge potential. I (optimistically?) expect solar, like EVs, to take off on an iPhone-like adoption curve once the cost / benefit becomes a no-brainer – which I hope is a lot sooner than 2038! 😀 Certainly fossil fuel corporations have different expectations of the future.

          • Frank

            Depends how good the sun is, and how much electricity costs there. Hawaii, and many other sunny islands not connected to the mainland have been there for years. California is there. Nevada was there till they mucked up net metering. I’m getting suspicious about Texas. I’m starting to see large solar plants getting planned.

          • eveee

            There are all kinds of now ridiculous looking graphs from Exxon, EIA, IEA etc. Lets not even get into them. Greenpeace estimate of wind was the most accurate and undershot the mark. I was greeted with pessimism when I suggested Chinas coal use would drop soon, from those concerned about GW, no less. To be sure, there is work to be done. But there is no sense in giving up now. Now IEA thinks solar will be the dominant source by 2050. Their estimates changed from almost no solar to solar dominates as they reassessed over a 3 year period. Shows you where things are headed. Technology adoption curves are not linear and new tech is adopted faster and faster. IMO, the revolution is going to happen fairly swiftly. Those left holding the bag with FF stocks will be wishing they had woken up a little sooner.

          • Roland

            Yes. Here’s what’s going to happen. Solar and wind become cheaper, therefore more will be installed. Increasing use of these will drive down the capacity factors for gas generators.
            This drives up the cost of gas generation. The disparity between wholesale electricity prices when wind/solar are present and when they are not present will make demand response (smart grid) options more popular. It also provides a market for battery power. The smart grid will shift usage times to when wind and solar are present and thereby shift electricity generation even more towards renewable energy.

          • eveee

            Yes. You get it. Its all about the mix and there is a dynamic between all of them. There is room for more expensive generation if it provides flexibility.
            I keep saying, the crazy thing is that we may already have short term storage by 2050 as lithium and flow batteries replace gas peakers. So not only will gas use decline, lowering carbon, but gas peakers capacity factor may be even less than today, but that might still be OK. We could wind up with a lot of FF stranded assets that are used only 1% of the time.
            We need to update market mechanisms to reflect value in these systems properly. There is a role for policy in this. Current market mechanisms don’t properly incentivize utility demand response. Some of the friction between distributed generation and utilities is because of their stranded base load assets, incentivized by rate basing large capital projects. Likewise, demand response has actually been attacked by utilities, because it would idle their coal plants. First Energy made that complaint in a lawsuit against PJM.
            http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2014/11/25/FirstEnergy-says-demand-response-putting-powerplants-out-of-business/stories/201411250013
            Thats as honest an assessment of the situation as I have ever seen admitted by a utility. They are following the market incentives they are given and they are wrong.
            So not only do we recognize the market dynamic, I say the market incentives are actually driven by policy and values.
            Sonia Aggarwal wrote a nice piece about changing the market.
            Its extremely important, but not as sexy as R and D and flashy tech.
            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/2016-is-the-year-of-the-wholesale-power-market
            We think of money as being hard and inflexible. It is in the short term. In the long term and in the wider perspective, money is a reflection of how we operate our society, and what we value. There are all kinds of “externalities” in fossil fuels we are not pricing.

          • Frank

            It’s all about the assumptions. Thing is, if you miss something like this, and it happens, it can really throw your numbers off http://cleantechnica.com/2015/01/29/solar-costs-will-fall-40-next-2-years-heres/

          • eveee

            “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

          • neroden

            Geothermal has incredibly stable capacity factors. Interesting.

          • eveee

            They like to run it like base load. Its just easier that way.

    • Rick Kooi

      Here Comes the Bride, Here Comes the Bride..
      …Here Comes the Freddy D married to Old TECH Oil & Coal.
      …married for a century to Corporate Welfare Subsidies all the while damaging the planet, corrupting the political System, paying for ads to FIGHT subsidies to Newer, More Efficient Clean Energy…
      Here Comes the Bride…..now bend over honey and accept your choices !!!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Not Kool, Rick.

        • Rick Kooi

          The Japanese and the US have Satellites that measure
          incoming Short Wave Radiation
          and
          The escaping/reflected Long Wave Radiation.

          There
          has always been a little less escaping solar energy, since THAT missing
          amount is what has been heating our planet and all other planets.

          They
          have also documented a worrisome occurrence…..as CO2/Methane/Water
          Vapor/Nitrous Oxide have increased in our
          atmosphere……………………………… .Escaping Radiation has
          Decreased in our atmosphere…in direct proportion !!!

          That is Global Warming.

          As
          human beings use fossil fuels, whether burned in car/truck engine or
          coal plants to produce electricity…an indelible chemical signature is
          attached to the CO2…..that signature is on the CO2 in our upper
          atmosphere….

          THAT is MAN MADE GLOBAL WARMING….anthropogenic global warming.

          “…..For those who think that Al Gore invented global warming (as well as
          the Internet), it no doubt will come as quite a surprise — should such
          folk
          actually manage to break out of their filter bubbles and read this
          article — that humans have known about anthropogenic global warming
          (AGW) for almost 200 years.

          ***A National Geographic piece, Why Is the Man Who Predicted Climate Change Forgotten?, names

          ***Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) as a founding father of global
          warming science. The Guardian names

          ***George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) as
          the
          author of “the 1847 lecture that predicted human-induced climate
          change.” ***NASA likewise reminds us, “The heat-trapping nature of
          carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th
          century.” The New York Times, Oct. 28, 1956.

          As for the other AGW-related things we have learned — and when we learned
          them
          — physicist and historian ****Spencer Weart has published a handy
          timeline and other supplemental material to augment his book, “The
          Discovery of Global Warming.”

          Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick relates in his HuffPo piece,
          Climate
          Science in 1956 and 2015: “Despite the apparent inability of many of
          our current policy makers to accept the scientific reality of climate
          change, the science is not new. Fifty-nine years ago, on Oct. 28, 1956,
          the New York Times ran a story in their Science in Review section
          entitled ‘Warmer climate on the earth may be due to more carbon dioxide
          in the air.’”

          In 1958, famed director Frank Capra shot “The
          Unchained Goddess,” one of The Bell Laboratory Science Series shown on
          American TV and later in U.S.
          classrooms. As related by Open Culture, one of the narrators declares:

          “Even now, man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the
          waste
          products of its civilization. Due to our releases in factories and
          automobiles every year of more than six billion tons of carbon dioxide,
          which helps the air absorb heat from the sun, our atmosphere may be
          getting warmer.”

          When asked if this is bad, the narrator explains:

          “Well,it’s been calculated a few degrees rise in the Earth’s temperature
          would melt the polar ice caps. And if this happens, an inland sea would
          fill a good portion of the Mississippi valley. Tourists in glass bottom
          boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of
          tropical water. For in weather, we’re not only dealing with forces of a
          far greater variety than even the atomic physicist encounters, but with
          life itself.” Melting icecaps, global flooding. A warning from 1958. (“The Unchained Goddess”)

          Then,
          as the Guardian reminds us, in November 1965 climate scientists
          summarized the risks associated with rising carbon pollution in a report
          for Lyndon Baines Johnson – and debunked a number of myths that climate
          deniers still parrot to this day:

          “Only about one two-thousandth
          of the atmosphere and one ten-thousandth of the ocean are carbon
          dioxide. Yet to living creatures, these small fractions are of vital
          importance …Within a few short centuries, we are returning to the air a
          significant part of the carbon that was slowly extracted by plants and
          buried in
          the sediments during half a billion years.”

          While
          our current bout of AGW is definitely not being driven by the sun,one of
          its solutions definitely is. Obtaining clean, renewable energy from the
          sun means never having to say we’re sorry for wrecking our planetary
          life-support systems with greenhouse gas overload. Solar-powered
          electricity is a product of the photovoltaic (PV) effect, discovered by
          French physicist A. E. Becquerel in 1839. Over a hundred years later, PV
          solar panels were used to power a spacecraft — the Vanguard 1
          satellite, launched by the U.S. in 1958.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, you gave us a poorly formatted review of some of the global warming history. I’m not sure why you think that important.

            Here’s the deal, Mr. Kool. We cannot transition to an all renewable grid overnight. I hope you realize that.

            The change will be gradual. Reaching the point at which renewable additions to the grid reach equality with fossil fuel additions is an important milestone.

            It will take many years to get coal shut down. That’s the most important goal. Installing more natural gas capacity helps with that effort because NG is highly dispatchable. NG can fill in the gaps between wind and solar while we wait for storage technology to improve. And NG can cover the longer periods of low wind/solar input which batteries can’t cover.

            Use NG now while scaling back its use.

          • Dan

            Energy storage and energy efficiency are making a lot of progress. I would like to see more as well as the regulations which encourage consumer/producer participation and investment. That often used disruptive technology growth curve used to show evs potential should apply in these instances too. The transition will happen much faster if consumers participate more directly, rather than these choices being investor or utility responsibilities mostly. The profit motive fails to take Mr. Kool’s point into accurate perspective. Global warming will not wait for technology to improve through free markets. Perhaps the free market will provide the results we need, but there’s no reason to think so. Natural gas is a less desirable solution to wind/solar/energy storage and efficiency…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure, if consumers, governments and the market all work we can get GHG levels down. That’s pretty much stating the obvious, isn’t it?

            There’s actually a very good reason to think the market will get us off fossil fuels simply because renewables are becoming the least expensive source of energy.

            If you’d like to push things along then work on the consumers and governments.

          • Dan

            I’ve been telling almost everyone i meet about solar, wind, batteries and electric cars. People in my area are extremely conservative and when I’m at work i get many opportunities to fill them in on what fox news has been lying to them about. Only recently have I gone so far as to call my state legislature about the clean jobs bill and clean power plan. I’m also in the process of hopefully beginning training as an electrician through an apprenticeship if an interview goes well, wish me luck.

            My other passion is sustainable housing, earthships in particular. I spread the word on FB and IG. Just this morning I gave some Jehova’s Witnesses who came to my door the good word on climate change and how we have solutions.

          • eveee

            If you think that, you might be interested in what RMI has to say about that.
            http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2014_10_07_austins_solar_tariff_newly_incorporates_rmis_energy_price_hedge_recommendation

          • Dan

            Nice article. The adjustable rate mortgage and fixed rate mortgage are great comparisons for fuel dependent technology and power purchase agreements (ppa). One thing I often wonder about is after the 20 or 30 year ppa, would a new ppa result in essentially free money? Perhaps the efficiency of panels would be less than their original specs but I have heard they can last for a long time. Even at half their rating it’s valuable electricity they would be producing…

            Perhaps they could sell them used for low cost options and upgrade the panels to the more advanced panels we are sure to have in 20 or 30 years time. Used solar panels are still valuable assets is my main point. A used natural gas facility probably retains far less value over that span of time.

          • eveee

            Same true of batteries. When your EV battery reaches 80% are you done? I don’t think so. Unless calendar life has stopped them, you can use them residentially. A solar cell still works at 25 years unless the contacts and conductors go bad or they get damaged.

          • Frank

            Besides those things you mention, a dynamic TOU pricing scheme with good communications could help fill in the gaps too.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, we should be pursuing whatever works to reduce CO2. But we do have to keep the grid running 24/365 and for a while we will need something we can turn on when the low carbon producers are not producing.

            People are not going to accept a move to renewables if it means there power goes out.

          • Frank

            Oh I completely agree. I just think the best most efficient way to accomplish that depends on a lot of factors that are changing continuously, so I want to see the grid head toward a situation where it values what is valueable and makes it easy for many players to get into the game. Grid scale batteries, home batteries, electric cars, people willing to cut back on demand for a fee. Take a look at this rig that these guys are just coming out with. With that meter, this thing can pretty much do anything, and a home owner can buy it. People who have something like this should be treated both as a customer, and as a power plant. http://www.solaredge.us/groups/us/solutions/storedge

          • Bob_Wallace

            I agree. We should pursue any solution that seems to be reasonable. But if I’m running a grid my first job is to keep the grid up and running. CCNG is reliable and, luckily, not expensive to install.

            Coal comes off. CCNG goes back up for a reasonable amount of money which means it isn’t a budget killer when it’s sitting idle and not producing. CO2 output is cut in half even if the CCNG runs as many hours as coal was running.

            (Hope the EPA is successful in stopping methane leaks.)

            CCNG is highly dispatchable. Unlike coal or nuclear it can quickly be shut down and restarted, making it a good fill in for wind and sunshine. When wind/solar are down gas can come up.

            As a grid manager I win. Reliable grid that I can publicly explain. Less than 50% as much CO2 plus cleaner air with coal gone. And open door for wind and solar. As more wind and solar come online I can cut gas use. A total win.

          • Brooks Bridges

            Article is wonderful news, but…

            “Here’s the deal, Mr. Kool. We cannot transition to an all renewable grid overnight. I hope you realize that.”

            Not overnight but we could transition a helluva lot sooner.

            Without a WWII level of effort, a large number of climate scientists say we will overheat the earth; that we are on our way to well over 3 deg C. That we are past the point of making a gradual transition.

            In the US we have one candidate for president who thinks climate change is the biggest danger to the US. Do all you can to help him get elected and similar minded congressional candidates.

            Saying he’s not electable is a self fulfilling prophecy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I do not think it in our best interest to misrepresent either Democratic candidate. This is from Clinton’s website –

            “Hillary’s plan is designed to deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference last December—without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation. Her plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels and put the country on a path to cut emissions more than 80 percent by 2050. Her approach will catalyze new investment and economic opportunity across the country, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, reduce energy bills and save families money, make our country more secure, and protect our families and communities from pollution.”

            ” That’s why on day one, Hillary will set bold, national goals that will be achieved within ten years of her taking office:

            Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of Hillary’s first term.

            Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.

            Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships and trucks.”

            https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/climate/

            I am advocating for neither candidate. I am concerned that we don’t misrepresent either candidate.

          • neroden

            That’s fair. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has a record, at the State Department, of promoting fracking worldwide. I would personally rather vote for the candidate whose actions have matched his words, which is Bernie Sanders.

          • Brooks Bridges

            “I am concerned that we don’t misrepresent either candidate.”

            I strive to avoid misrepresentation in all forms and am not aware I have misrepresented anything about HRC.

            That said, the facts show that Bernie has exhibited a consistency in his positions over many years that HRC has not. You may not agree with some of his positions but you can be highly confident he will try to do exactly what he says.

            Based on past history, I don’t have the same confidence in Hillary’s promises.

            As I said elsewhere, I will campaign and vote for her if she is the candidate.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m not sure why it matters if one candidate adopted a position further to the left sooner than the other. That one candidate started further to the center and evolved.

            I’m most interested in who has the best skill set for achieving change.
            Not that my opinion will matter. The primary will probably be settled before California votes.

    • Mike Hillsgrove

      Just can’t accept defeat, can you?

      • Bob_Wallace

        What’s your point?

    • eveee

      Even taking into account capacity factor new wind in 2015 was more than natural gas. Natural gas capacity factor is 48%, not 60%. Adding biomass and solar only tips the balance further. See my comments below for the calculations. The silent revolution is coming.

      • But IMHO it’s coming because “free fuel” is a good value proposition, more so than because altruism is a winning strategy.

        I’ve found WIIFM – “What’s In It For Me” – to be an excellent predictor of human behavior. To the extent that we can make renewable energy and sustainable transportation more cost effective, more convenient, and more fun than the alternatives, we’ll actually have to get out of people’s way as they race to do “the right thing”.

        • Frank

          I think the decision to install it has to do with the the cost of the electricity produced. “cost of wind power dropping by 66% in just six years” “US Utility-Solar PV Costs Plummeted 17% In Q3 2015”.

          The place where the free fuel has a big effect is in valuing risk. Knowing what your fuel costs today, and 10, and 20 years from now helps reduce it. The fact that it is zero helps too. You know you will win the merit order generation thing against everything with a fuel cost, so you can’t have your capacity factor knocked down too easily.

          I still think it is very inefficient to keep a price of 0 on emissions from smokestacks, and tailpipes, because it subsidises something costly and undesireable. That said, if this comes to pass, there will be consequences.

          http://cleantechnica.com/2015/01/29/solar-costs-will-fall-40-next-2-years-heres/

        • eveee

          free fuel” is a good value proposition, more so than because altruism is a winning strategy.” So true and emphasized. A few other things. We have to overcome ignorance. Renewables are making progress so fast, its hard to keep up. And we need to overcome entrenched bias. IMO, this will melt as economics starts a stampede to a better quality of life.
          Seriously. When you get down to it, the EV driving experience is a quality of life issue. There are both quality and quantity aspects to low maintenance.
          Like carefree, silent, effortless driving. Who wouldn’t want that. Kyle just posted article about his trip in a Model S. Said he was amazed at how refreshed he was and stress free it was. Silence and a lack of noise vibration and harshness will do that.
          http://cleantechnica.com/2016/01/21/across-country-4180-kilometers-tesla-model-s-cleantechnica-exclusive/

        • Matt

          WIIFM is the big reason 9/10 economist this a carbon fee/dividend system is the way to go. It prices the externals on to carbon and give the money to people so they can buy cheaper clean options.

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