Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Thansgiving Plateau for Solar Energy

A quick update worthy of a true Thanksgiving.  Two new stunning reports on solar energy are demonstrating the rapid transition in world-wide electricity generation.

The first involves China (no surprise).  Tongwei will spend $1.8 Billion in the next two years to build two 10 GW PV manufacturing facilities.  What this means, is that two-three years from now, each of these plants will be putting on the market the equivalent of TEN nuclear or coal-fired plants.  That's 20,000 megawatts of generating capacity…per year.  And the following year, another 20,000MW; and the year following that another 20,000MW.  In ten years, this one company in its two manufacturing facilities will have built the equivalent of 200 nuclear power plants! 

“The investment is part of Tongwei’s plan to achieve 30 GW of cell capacity. Its current 5.4 GW makes Tongwei the world’s fourth-biggest solar-cell producer, and the company has an additional 4.3 GW of capacity under construction.  The world’s largest cell maker, Shanghai-based JA Solar Holdings Co, has an annual capacity of 6.5 GW, and add this to all the manufacturers in Korea, Japan, Germany, and the US, and there is really no shortage of new generating potential in the world.  Of course, the other part of the equation is storage, and progress is being made in both battery technology, and of course, my pick…hydrogen/fuel cell for large-scale grid storage.


The second major bombshell comes from the very reputable US investment firm Lazard.


“Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.”  All the “costs” of energy technologies are starting to make their way to the front of the balance sheet.  Not only are new construction costs for old-school steam-generating plants the main issue, but, the cost of fuel, maintenance, repair, upgrades, wastes disposal, and environmental compliance now are being quantified in the deliberation of energy policy.  Already, renewables are displacing new fossil construction, so now their impact on actually replacing older units is significant.  Natural gas will continue to be the appropriate transition fuel during the development of storage and new grid technologies.

The current administration is fighting this battle with hopes of derailing the renewable train.  A proposed 20% tariff on imported “cheap” (because they are subsidized by the Chinese government) solar panels will put a dent in the progress of our renewable businesses.  However, most of them say that within a few years, the costs of solar panels will be so low, that that tariff won’t make any difference.  The US is not supporting its solar industries, by slowly repealing subsidies and credits, increasing tariffs and taxes, and blocking most legislation aimed at science, technology, business, and job creation.  Instead, there are proposed new subsidies in the works for coal and nuclear, as well as a continuation of the enormous subsidies for the oil industry. 

The same issues face the wind industry, whose exponential growth is being implemented world-wide.  Renewables (solar and wind) are the future, in spite of the huge political bias against them.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!

PS  An accident, most-likely at a nuclear reprocessing facility in southern Russia, and released radioactivity into the atmosphere.  Heard about it?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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