Economics, technology, and global public opinion are driving the surge in wind and solar renewable energy resources, with changes developing at a pace few had anticipated.
A “revolution” in use of renewable energy is embracing not only the electrical sector, but also, and increasingly, the transportation sector, the current Yale Climate Connection video points out.
The video portrays a range of energy experts pointing to the surge in wind and solar use – fueled by decreasing costs, improving technology, and global civil concerns over air pollution and adverse health effects. Experts point to impressive growth of renewable energy not only in China, India, and western Europe, but also in politically conservative states in “the heart of the country,” says long-time journalist Keith Schneider, senior editor with Circle of Blue.
“You cannot out-source solar and wind investments the way you can with natural gas or oil that might go off-shore,” says Dan Kammen, energy professor at Stanford University. The video shows footage of General Motors and Royal Dutch Shell executives singing the praises of renewables.
“The next buy I do is my next car, which will be an electric vehicle,” says Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurnden. “We need to be at a much higher degree of electric vehicle penetration.”
The video points to Volvo plans to phase out “conventional engines” by 2019. The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins points to aggressive renewable energy plans by India, Germany, and Holland over the next two-and-a-half decades. Experts point to plans by the United Kingdom and France to ban sales of gas and diesel engines by 1940 and to growth of wind and solar energy across the U.S. Midwest.
In looking at the post-Paris climate agreement outlook, the video explores implications of the Trump administration’s withdraw from the Paris agreement. It delves into impacts on climate change, but also on likely impacts of a declining U.S. role in international diplomacy. “Problematic,” says Andrew Hoffman of the University of Michigan, adding that China and other countries are taking the approach that “if you don’t want to lead, then we’ll lead.”
Kammen sees U.S. companies increasingly being at a “very significant economic disadvantage” with no fixed price on carbon.
New video explores 'revolution' in use of #RenewableEnergy. CLICK TO TWEET
Schneider, a former environmental reporter with the New York Times, says he fears the U.S. has ceded its leadership responsibility in the coming clean-energy economy, which Hoffman says is unquestionably the market of the future. Schneider says his concerns especially involve the U.S.’s walking away from being “a big part, should be the leading part” of the 21st century global economy.
RAEL looks forward to a new partnership with the Reiner-Lemoine Institute in Berlin, Germany. On August 28th, RLI and RAEL together will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the scope of their partnership. In this initiative, the partners have created the Berkeley-Berlin Energy Access Group (BBEAG) headed by Philipp Blechinger and Daniel Kammen. At RLI, Philipp is head of the research field Off-Grid Systems.
Based on the 7th UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, RLI and RAEL have created the Berkeley-Berlin Energy Access Group (BBEAG) in order to
jointly work on models and tools for electrification modelling and planning,
explore new fields of sustainable energy-water-food supply and transport,
provide advice for public and private decision-makers,
jointly develop projects and apply for project funding,
establish academic exchange among both institutions and other international partners.
RAEL and Technical University of Munich team publish:
"Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition" in Nature Energy.
Access at Nature Energy here.
New Study Find That Energy Storage Prices are Falling Faster than Solar PV or Wind Technology Costs, Outcompeting Coal and Natural Gas PlantsBerkeley, CA, July 31, 2017 -- Storage prices are falling faster than solar PV or wind technologies, according to a new study published in Nature Energy. The fall in prices is allowing new combinations of solar, wind, and energy storage to outcompete coal and natural gas plants on cost alone.
A research team from the University of California and TU Munich in Germany found that R&D investments for energy storage projects have been remarkably effective in bringing the cost per kWh of a lithium-ion battery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to a trajectory that could reach $100/kWh next year. The pace of innovation is staggering.
Ordinarily, public research investment and private venture capital money undergo tough scrutiny before money can be spent on research and the results from years of work are not immediately visible. However, this study shows that long-term R&D spending played a critical factor in achieving cost reductions, and a recent lack of investment for basic and applied research may miss the $100/kWh target for cost effective renewable energy projects. Modest future research investment from public and private sectors could go a long way to unlock extremely low-cost, and low-carbon electricity from solar, wind, and storage.
As Tesla moves to install a Gigafactory in Nevada and the largest lithium-ion storage facility in the world in southern Australia, new combinations of energy storage in terms of size, scale, and chemistry are emerging quicker than ever.
Tesla’s storage projects are not the only examples. Cities like Berlin have already embraced grid-scale storage. Berlin plans to install a 120 MW flow battery underground to support wind and solar efforts at integrated prices as low at 15 cents/kWh, in line with forecasts made in this paper. California is home to the first energy storage mandate on the grid, requiring utilities procure 1.325 GW of storage by 2020. These innovative policies showcase the range of storage options that may benefit clean energy, from small Powerwall batteries in the home to city-scale storage facilities providing back-up to utility-scale wind and solar farms.
There is an important co-evolution of battery developments for electric vehicle usage, grid-scale storage that supports solar and wind electricity, and other consumer applications for new electronics. To forecast future energy storage prices, the researchers compiled a new dataset looking back to prices from the early 1990’s and development of new lithium-ion batteries through international patent databases. The team also looked at how storage co-evolved with solar and wind innovations. They found that for storage technologies, investment in applied research may actually be a more effective in $/kWh cost reduction than pure economies of scale mass production.
This past year (2017) the US reached its goal of $1/W SunShot solar power three years early. However, low-cost solar is usable during the day and experiences intermittency, which causes researchers to question the reliability of solar power. That’s why energy storage makes a big difference.
The study follows a string of research investigating the relationship between research funding and deployment of new technologies for solar panels and wind turbines. The team highlights the need for more research in emerging storage technologies, as there is not a clear winner, and a diverse range of options may outlast lithium-ion batteries. There may be room for a number of different battery chemistries that all provide different services on an evolving grid, some providing voltage regulation and frequency control, and others serving long duration outages and providing back-up for buildings and communities.
The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF, 1144885), Karsten Family Foundation, and Zaffaroni Family Foundation.
Kittner, N., Lill, F. & Kammen, D. M. Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition. Nature. Energy 2, 17125 (2017). Paper and supplemental data are available online at: https://rael.berkeley.edu/project/innovation-in-energy-storage/
Cite and access this paper directly from NATURE ENERGY in Volume 2, 17125 (2017), DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.125 | www.nature.com/natureenergy
Daniel M. Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley, Chair of the Energy and Resources Group, and Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy; also Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department (email@example.com, 510-642-1760)
Noah Kittner, (firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-614-8825
The Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development and the United Nations announce a meeting on a new approach to clean energy:
There is a striking overlap among the regions at greatest risk of conflict, those most vulnerable to climate change, and high levels of energy poverty – primarily in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Asia. Renewable energy represents an under-utilized entry point. Yet conflict-affected settings are characterized by unique challenges, and the renewable energy revolution that is transforming much of the world risks bypassing the conflict-prone states that stand the most to gain. The potential for renewable energy to deliver multiple economic, social, environmental and peace benefits in conflict settings remains largely untapped.