Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’

If you need inspiration – here it is.

Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’

Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports.

In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Climate change & nuclear power

James Hansen, the NASA scientist, who has argued for decades that we must deal with global warming was member of the team discussing the need for nuclear power. We need standard designs of small safe reactors that can be mass produced, not the Hinkley Point C type of design, not proven until built.

China-U.S. cooperation to advance nuclear power

Here are a few salient extract for the paper:

Yet even Germany, despite sizable subsidies of renewable energies, gets only a small fraction of energy from them (see the first figure). Historically the fastest growth of low-carbon power occurred during scale-up of national nuclear power programs (see the second figure). Some studies project that a doubling to quadrupling of nuclear energy output is required in the next few decades, along with a large expansion of renewable energy, in order to achieve deep cuts in fossil fuel use while meeting the growing global demand for affordable, reliable energy.

A large reduction of cost and construction time, essential to accelerate deployment rates, likely requires mass manufacturing, analogous to ship and airplane construction.

Passive safety features are available that allow reactor shutdown and cooling without external power or operator intervention. Other innovative designs use fuel more efficiently and produce less nuclear waste, can directly supply energy to industrial processes that currently rely on fossil fuels, can be ordered in a range of scales to suit a variety of needs and geographies, and can reduce or eliminate cooling-water requirements.

Development of large floating nuclear plants—constructed in shipyards before being towed and anchored 10 to 20 km off-shore—has promise to reduce cost, speed deployment, reduce tsunami and earthquake risk, and enhance security. Recent studies show that gigawatt-scale plants can be deployed on robust floating platforms using technology developed for deep-water drilling in the severe weather conditions of the North Sea. Such power plants could be constructed more rapidly than conventional reactors.

Somebody cares

Let’s hope this is a start of significant change.

Netherlands on brink of banning sale of petrol-fuelled cars

Europe appears poised to continue its move towards cutting fossil fuel use as the Netherlands joins a host of nations looking to pass innovative green energy laws.

The Dutch government has set a date for parliament to host a roundtable discussion that could see the sale of petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars banned by 2025.

If the measures proposed by the Labour Party in March are finally passed, it would join Norway and Denmark in making a concerted move to develop its electric car industry.

The Arctic’s ice is disappearing

We need to stop using fossil fuels ASAP, certainly not prospect and get more – and work on atmospheric CO2 removal.

Time to listen to the ice scientists about the Arctic death spiral

The warming now being widely experienced worldwide is concentrated in the polar regions and Wadhams says we will shortly have ice-free Arctic Septembers, expanding to four or five months with no ice at all. The inevitable result, he predicts, will be the release of huge plumes of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, accelerating warming even further.

Climate change spin-offs

Climate change may be the death of a lot of us.

Experts warn of threat of born-again smallpox from old Siberian graveyards

This summer’s melting of permafrost is more than THREE TIMES greater than usual, unlocking long-frozen deadly diseases.

Currently 24 people are in hospital in Salekhard, on the Arctic Circle, after contracting potentially lethal anthrax from unfrozen reindeer or human burial sites, but scientists say this is far from the only threat as climate change grips Siberia.

Energy storage

We must invest in energy storage technologies. As in the article below I am convinced we can do it over the next 10 years.

Lithium is The New Silicon

In 2003, when I entered the solar industry, a solar panel cost $4.50 per watt, and entire installations were not uncommon at $10 per watt. By virtually all measures, these were not economically competitive systems. As entrepreneurs back then, when we went to pitch VCs and talk to the media about the coming solar revolution, we would often refer to a $1 per watt number. This was described as a distant aspiration — likely to take 20 years.

Yet, here we are today, seeing large scale projects being built with costs either at or just hovering above the one dollar mark, fully installed.

The radical reduction of the cost of solar grade silicon over the last 15 years has been the single largest component driving [down the cost of solar PV.]

For the coming energy storage revolution, there is much to be learned from this solar history. Energy storage as an industry is about to undergo the same radical scaling exercise we just witnessed with solar. In this scaling, you can also expect to see some of the very same trends and results.

A central theme, of course, is cost reduction, and the challenge of differing technologies to get there. Out in front is the current industry standard of lithium ion. While there are many flavors of lithium ion, they (like silicon before it) share a common chemical core. If energy storage is the new solar, lithium ion is the new crystalline silicon.

Carbon sequestration

Forget carbon capture and storage technologies – support elephants.

The ivory trade isn’t just a disaster for elephants. It threatens our future too

Elephants prop up the forest and savannah ecosystems we need to store carbon. To stabilise the climate, we must stop their slaughter by ivory poachers.

Elephants, because of their size, appetite and migratory habits, disperse more seeds of more species further than any other animal. Tree species with small seeds such as figs can have them dispersed by birds, fruit bats, antelope, etc. Species with large seeds, such as mangoes and durian, need big animals such as apes and elephants to disperse them, sowing the seeds of the trees of tomorrow. Their dung is important, too, as fertiliser. An adult elephant produces about one tonne of first-class organic manure every week. Germination and seedling survival are much higher for seeds given such a good start in life.

This again illustrates how important the non-human species in our world are for us.

Solar & wind power generation future

Solar and wind ‘cheaper than new nuclear’ by the time Hinkley is built

The government expects solar and wind power to be cheaper than new nuclear power by the time Hinkley Point C is completed, its own projections show.

Now is the time to start a big investment in R&D for storage technologies for the power we can generate with renewables. If the UK can make these developments we will have something to trade with the world that will be a benefit for humanity into the distant future.

Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study

I understand the message but slowing, halting, then reversing global warming must be a key part of the solutions. Climate change exacerbates soil degradation and floods and drought mean less food, and soil loss that leads to less carbon being sequestered in soil.

Just in case you had not noticed

Environmental records shattered as climate change ‘plays out before us’

The world is careening towards an environment never experienced before by humans, with the temperature of the air and oceans breaking records, sea levels reaching historic highs and carbon dioxide surpassing a key milestone, a major international report has found.

See the section “Global Climate Dashboard” on this page:

Maps & Data

Check the sun’s energy output, “The sun’s energy rises and falls slightly on an 11-year cycle, with little net change over the last century”, then note how all earth measures of change show rapid increase or decrease in directions we do not want.