The latest on renewables is all good. Or is it? Mark Jacobson, the developer of transition to 100% renewables roadmaps for some 139 countries took to Twitter recently to comment on the world’s largest and cheapest + battery-storage project.The new project will begin operations in 2023 and produce power at 50% the cost of power compared to a new natural gas plant.
Solar + Battery Storage
Goodnight #naturalgas, goodnight #coal, goodnight #nuclear#LosAngeles seeks record setting solar PV price under 2¢/kWh and battery storage at 1.3¢/kWh under a 25-year contract https://t.co/KkwOqGyfWK¢-kwh/ @pvmagazine @howarth_cornell @ProfStrachan @ProfRayWills @NickCowern
— Mark Z. Jacobson (@mzjacobson) June 28, 2019
Developments and Trends
Other developments and trends are highlighted in the Renewables 2019 Global Status Report (GSR), an annual overview of the status of renewable energy in the world. The report confirms that “for the fourth consecutive year, more renewable power capacity was installed than fossil fuel and nuclear power combined – 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV alone was added in 2018, enough to meet more than 25% of electricity demand in France.”
The report has 4 key findings:
- Solar PV and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector.
- Global renewable energy uptake no longer depends on just a few countries.
- Cities are increasingly becoming strong drivers in renewable energy deployment.
- There is a huge opportunity for countries to drive action by expanding the transition to the heating, cooling and transport sectors.
Writing in VOX, David Roberts says “The shift in the electricity sector has effectively become unstoppable. Globally, more renewable energy capacity has been installed than new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined, for four years running.”
And for those concerned about economics and the labour market, Roberts illustrates how solar is the largest job creator accounting “for the bulk of the world’s energy jobs.”
But Not All News About Renewables is Good
“The public seems to have the impression that while things are bad, they are finally accelerating toward something better. It’s not true. Collectively, we haven’t even succeeded in reversing direction yet. Despite all the progress…we’re still struggling to get a hold of the emergency brake,” writes Roberts.
The GSR report identifies facts that throw a cold shower on the popular myth that renewables are winning the energy war. Progress is just too slow to have any impact on global emissions which continue their seemingly irreversible rise—up 1.7% in 2018.
Furthermore, GSR shows that total investments in renewables (excluding hydro) was still less than rising fossil fuel subsidies in 2018. Plus investments have dropped 11% compared to 2018.
Other GSR findings:
- Progress in renewables remains concentrated in the power sector, while far less growth has occurred in heating, cooling and transport.
- Policy frameworks are still far from the ambition level required to reach international goals. Targets are increasingly ambitious for power, but those for heating, cooling and transport lag behind.
- Carbon pricing policies can stimulate interest in renewables to meet climate goals. Although such policies are expanding, they currently cover just 13% of global emissions.
The following chart shows clearly that much remains to be done before we can say goodbye to coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear.
A massive 79.7% of energy use in 2017 came from fossil fuels.
Renewables And Energy Storage Hit Prime Time
Will Canada Miss The Electric Bus?
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I think the gains in clean energy, are encouraging, but too many governments (including Canada’s) are jumping into the biomass solution to be able to use existing coal-fired power stations. It is a Greenwash solution. Timber companies are building wood pellet making processes to make a profit. They are not putting the vast numbers of tree planting programs in order to support it, and where they are, primordial forest is taken (with all its biodiversity) to be replaced with timber monoculture.
I am all for tree planting… Encourage it at all costs, but Biomass is not clean burning (although there are moves to capture the polluting C02), it takes double the weight of coal (three times the mass) to produce equivalent Kilowatt output.
Do watch the documentary about the sustainability problem.
The recent call to plant billions of trees world wide to capture CO2, could not come sooner than now.
Colette – thank you for sharing your perspective on the use of wood for burning and the link to trees being the new coal. I will watch the documentary and perhaps use it for a post article.
Some say that natural gas is the new coal. It burns cleaner but the massive leaks of methane in that industry negate any advantage it may have over coal.
And I couldn’t agree more. We need to plant billions of trees – by far the cheapest sequestration technology we have.
As always, thank you for your ongoing support.