Put energy into renewables

The economic reality is that the full transition to renewables just makes sense. Asset management company Lazard, LTD has just released its annual Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) study. Lazard “surveys energy buildouts that occurred in the previous year and divides the estimated cost of building and operating the plant, including fuel cost estimates, by the amount of energy a particular plant is expected to produce in its lifetime.” — Ars Technica

What the new study finds is that the costs per megawatt hour for solar and wind once again came in cheaper than coal, nuclear and gas. Coal’s costs came in at $60.143/MWh, nuclear came in at $112.189/MWh, gas (including combined-cycle) came in at $41.74/MWh, wind came in at $29.56/MWh and solar came in at $36.44/MWh.

Of course the question always remains, “what about storage?” This question is being answered brilliantly. Non-battery solutions are rolling out in droves, like one proposed by the company Energy Vault. The Energy Vault solution uses a crane atop a 35 story cement tower that lifts and lowers a giant brick, using basic physics to cut the cost of storage in half or by as much as 80 percent over the total life of the system and it can store renewable power any time, anywhere with millisecond response time. Another non-battery solution is a liquid developed by scientists in Sweden that can store energy captured from the sun for over a decade. It’s called solar thermal fuel.

But battery storage itself is showing great promise, too. “The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved four energy storage projects for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG and E) to replace retiring gas generators, including two batteries that would be the largest in the world.” — UtilityDive

The science on anthropogenic (human-caused) global climate change is settled and the conclusions dire. The economic reality is encouraging a move to renewables. All that’s lacking is the political will.

Eric Engle