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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:20 AM

Renewable Energy Revolution: Declining Costs, Surging Capacity

January 24, 2013

The renewable energy revolution is under way. Renewable power generation now accounts for around 50% of all new power generation capacity installed worldwide.

The combination of rapid deployment and high learning rates for technology “has produced a virtuous circle that is leading to significant cost declines and is helping fuel a renewable revolution,” according to a new global study of renewable power generation costs in 2012 produced by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, which announced it is establishing its global headquarters in the United Arab Emirates during last week’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Additions to global wind power generation capacity totalled 41 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, according to IRENA’s “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012: An Overview.” That’s in addition to 30 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation capacity, 25 GW of hydro power, 6 GW of biomass, 0.5 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP), and 0.1 GW of new geothermal power capacity.

“Renewable technologies are now the most economic solution for new capacity in an increasing number of countries and regions,” IRENA concluded upon analyzing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) among the some 8,000 renewable power projects in its database and related literature...

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1ySx9)
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/24/renewable-energy-revolution-declining-costs-surging-capacity/#hKAKybxAEug8XQdS.99

“Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012: An Overview.” (.pdf) : http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/Renewable%20Generation%20Costs%202012.pdf

28 replies, 1802 views

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Reply Renewable Energy Revolution: Declining Costs, Surging Capacity (Original post)
Ghost Dog Jan 2013 OP
jpak Jan 2013 #1
daleanime Jan 2013 #2
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #3
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #4
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #5
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #8
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #17
Terry in Austin Jan 2013 #25
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #27
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #7
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #9
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #10
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #11
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #12
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #13
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #14
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #15
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #16
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #18
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #23
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #24
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2013 #19
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #22
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #6
Ghost Dog Jan 2013 #20
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #21
2on2u Jan 2013 #26
Ghost Dog Jan 2013 #28

Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:35 PM

1. K&R

yup

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:38 PM

2. K&R

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 02:16 PM

3. “Renewable power generation now accounts for around 50% of all new power generation capacity…”

And that, my friends, says a lot.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 02:59 PM

4. Does it?

 

Let's assume energy consumption grows at a steady rate of 2% a year for the foreseeable future. This means that each year, our fossil fuel consumption grows at 1% - (the rate of retirement of FF infrastructure). So, this means we are still burning more and more fossil fuels every single year, as long as the existing fossil fuel furnaces & generators go offline slower than new generation is coming online.

China and India are building 4 new coal plants every week. Are 4 or more coal plants across the globe going offline each week? If not, we are making no ground.

Its great if we can lower the carbon intensity of our energy, but its not going to help our current trajectory if we do not lower aggregate emissions. Frankly, we could have 99% of new power generation being "green", but if that 1% of new "dirty" generation more than offsets retirement of old infrastructure, we are still headed for a very, very warm world.

We need to reduce emissions. Yesterday.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 04:03 PM

5. Even if we manage to reduce the carbon intensity of our energy supply

Unless we refrain from using fossil fuels we will continue to emit more and more CO2. Unfortunately the world system has no appetite for restraint in this matter.

Neither decarbonization nor the emissions reductions are happening. Neither will be possible until we run into economic or energetic limits on our fossil fuel supply (i.e. either fossil fuels become too expensive, whatever that means, or the EROEI drops below 5:1).

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:28 PM

8. Or, quite simply, we get off of our butts and do something about it

http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/CO2REPORT2012.pdf
TRENDS IN GLOBAL CO2 EMISSIONS



Summary



Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 3% in 2011, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In 2011, China’s average per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes CO2. Taking into account an uncertainty margin of 10%, this is similar to the per capita emissions in the European Union of 7.5 tonnes in 2011, the year in which the European Union saw a decrease in emissions of 3%. China, the world’s most populous country, is now well within the 6 to 19 tonnes/person range spanned by the major industrialised countries. In comparison, in 2011, the United States was still one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes in per capita emissions, after a steep decline mainly caused by the recession in 2008–2009, high oil prices compared to low fuel taxes and an increased share of natural gas.

With a decrease in 2008 and a 5% surge in 2010, the past decade saw an average annual increase of 2.7%. The top 5 emitters are China (share 29%), the United States (16%), the European Union (EU27) (11%), India (6%) and the Russian Federation (5%), followed by Japan (4%). The fact that global emissions continued this historical growth trend in 2011 seems remarkable at first sight, considering that in many OECD countries CO2 emissions in fact decreased – in the European Union by 3%, in the United States by 2% and in Japan by 2% – mainly due to weak economic conditions in many countries, mild winter weather in several countries and high oil prices. More important, however, is that CO2 emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global emissions – the same share as that of China and India, where emissions increased by 9% and 6%, respectively, in 2011. The increase in China’s CO2 emissions was mainly due to a continued high economic growth rate, with related increases in fossil fuel consumption. This increase in fuel consumption in 2011 was mainly driven by the increase in building construction and expansion of infrastructure, as indicated by the growth in cement and steel production. Domestic coal consumption grew by 9.7% and coal import increased by 10%, making China the world’s largest coal importer, overtaking Japan.

Levels of global CO2 emissions from flaring of unused gas during oil production, which have decreased by about 25% since 2003, did not significantly change in 2011. They roughly amount to the total of CO2 emissions in Spain. However, according to satellite observations, flaring emissions in the United States are on the rise, with a steep 50% increase in 2011. The main cause is the recent sharp increase in the country’s use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for shale oil production and its ensuing flaring of co-produced gas. Recently, the United States also expanded shale gas fracking and has now become the largest natural gas producer in the world.

Since 2000, an estimated total of 420 billion tonnes CO2 was cumulatively emitted due to human activities (including deforestation). Scientific literature suggests that limiting average global temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels – the target internationally adopted in UN climate negotiations – is possible if cumulative emissions in the 2000–2050 period do not exceed 1,000 to 1,500 billion tonnes CO2. If the current global increase in CO2 emissions continues, cumulative emissions will surpass this total within the next two decades.



We can decrease carbon emissions. Of course, we need to go negative in relatively short order.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:58 PM

17. Do your best!

More important, however, is that CO2 emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global emissions – the same share as that of China and India, where emissions increased by 9% and 6%, respectively, in 2011.

Squeeze the balloon here, and it bulges out there. As long as we keep pumping more air into the balloon, though, it will continue to grow. At some point the internal pressure overcomes the elasticity, and ... pop!

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:57 PM

25. EROEI below 5:1

GG, I've seen this in passing -- sometimes it's mentioned as high as 8:1 -- but haven't found a good source that goes into making the case. If you have any such sources handy, I'd be grateful if you could point me to them. I'm currently in an extended discussion with my brother the economist, who takes a fairly conventional view, but seems receptive.

Thanks,
T.

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Response to Terry in Austin (Reply #25)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 07:02 PM

27. Try this:

The first paper on this link is one by Charlie Hall and Jessica Lambert, that presents the whole EROI story.

http://energyskeptic.com/category/energy/eroei-energy-returned-on-energy-invested/

The derivation of 5:1 is mentioned on page 9. It's the EROI calculated by Hall et al to be the minimum necessary for oil to be extracted and refined, roads and trucks built, and finally to deliver a product on the truck and make a profit.

This direct link to the paper may need some TLC to make it work:
http://www.dpuc.state.ct.us/DEEPEnergy.nsf/fb04ff2e3777b0b98525797c00471aef/a546c841171f7a8485257ac90053565a/$FILE/R.%20Fromer%20Attachment%20-%20EROI%20of%20Global%20Energy%20Resoruces.pdf

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:19 PM

7. Yes, it does say something…

You choose to pretend otherwise.

What percentage of new power generation was renewable 10 years ago?

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:39 PM

9. I don't care. Its irrelevant

 

The only relevant matter is that our fossil fuel consumption increases along with emissions. That is the real number that matters in terms of climate change. Climate change gives two fucks about how many windmills we put up if our emissions continue to peak.

Only when the growth in fossil fuel power generation does not offset the retirement of existing fossil fuel generation infrastructure is any progress made. How can anyone disagree with this very basic truth (with the exception of figuring in solar powered carbon scrubbing )?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:48 PM

10. No, you choose to claim it is irrelevant

You simply cannot fundamentally change any large system instantaneously (short of destroying it.) It will be a process. You need to start somewhere. 50% of new generating capacity is a good place to start.

Did you read this: http://www.democraticunderground.com/112734257

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #10)


Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:00 PM

12. If aggregate emissions continue to increase, nothing else matters. Nothing. Nada. Zilch

 


You need to start somewhere.


We start when aggregate emissions begin to drop. Prior to such a "start", its inevitable existence is not provable. It is a theory, accepted on faith.

This isn't rocket science. Its pretty self-evident

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:10 PM

13. “We start when aggregate emissions begin to drop.”

So, before then, we are… preparing to start?

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:14 PM

14. No, we are kicking the can down the road and further screwing our situation

 

I do not have the link on hand, but recently calculated we now must reduce emissions by 6% each year (instead of 3% had we started earlier) if we have any chance of staying within "safe" warming range. Each year we aren't doing 6% reductions, that number gets higher, and higher.

All this handwaving in the meantime is insane (literally). Pacifying people with pseudo-action (the wrong action) doesn't seem to help IMO.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #14)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:33 PM

15. I agree, we delayed acting for too long

I question whether we can stop this all in time, but we’ve got to start somewhere already!

50% of new generation capacity is a lot better than 0%.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:44 PM

16. Actually 0% *could* work. You are looking at this incorrectly

 

If we establish that the only number that is important is emissions, then the % of renewables is moot.

If 100% of new power generation was fossil fuel based, this could work if that amount was less than the amount of generation capacity lost from retiring fossil fuel infrastructure.

For example, if we pumped out 100MJ, and each year we added 2MJ from coal, but each year we retired 8MJ of existing coal generation, then we are on the right track (first year is a 6% reduction in FF-based generation).

Those are the only numbers that really matter.

I think touting our renewable numbers cloud the picture and encourage passivity; it creates the false notion that we are moving in a beneficial direction (when this couldn't be further from the truth). The theory is that by boosting green energy we will have the capability to *replace* fossil fuels. But a contradictory theory suggests we humans make no replacements, but maximize our consumption in this system (so renewables do nothing but increase system growth because they do not offset FF usage). To offset fossil fuel usage, we have to decide not to consume or sell fossil fuels; to just leave it in the ground. Can we collectively do that throughout the globe? Will our current system let us? Will this take a complete change in the structure of human civilization (something that isn't being examine while we green it up on an illusionary question to utopia)?

If humans can decide to "leave it in the ground" at some magical point in the future, why can't we now?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:02 PM

18. That may be the wrong question.

You ask: "If humans can decide to "leave it in the ground" at some magical point in the future, why can't we now?"

I think it might be more useful to ask, "Why can't humans decide to leave it in the ground?"

I suspect the answer may have nothing to do with humans at all. It's like asking, "If humans can decide to "fall up rather than down" at some magical point in the future, why can't we now?"

I'm beginning to think we're bumping up against a natural principle - something analogous to a law of physics (or thermodynamics...)

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:24 PM

23. Its a rhetorical question

 



There is no magic point in the future. When one examines our current situation, they will likely conclude this future scenario is a myth.

I don't know if this is a "natural" principle, or rather a principle inherent to our current human system (at some point, there may of been a variety of different game systems, but the one whose rules enforced growth and consumption grew to overpower the rest; then again, this may simply be the result of a natural principle if one considers that competing systems are sub-systems of a single greater system, and the "overpowering" is just the greater self-organizing system evolving).

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #23)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:48 PM

24. It's the only sensible conclusion one could come to.

I'm currently working on the idea that the shape of any system is the result of the shapes and interactions of competing sub-systems (and yes, it's turtles all the way down). The sub-systems "win" their competitions through the most advantageous use of energy and power. As a result the principle of "make the most advantageous use of energy and power" is inherited by the super-system.

In this case the super-system is civilization itself, and the sub-systems are nations.

Human beings have an irresistible compulsion to tell themselves stories about the world. It makes them feel a bit safer when the wolves howl in the darkness. And sometimes they are even true - for suitably small values of truth, anyway.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:04 PM

19. In truth, a 0 carbon emissions level is not enough

We need to lower atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. (Well, that is, assuming we want to live in a world which resembles the one we know, one in which our food plants grow well for example.)

2°C of warming is considered to be the safe limit of warming (1.99°C is fine, but 2°C is straight out.) Ice core data shows us that our current atmospheric levels of “Greenhouse Gases” already well exceed the amount needed for 2°C of warming.


As for deciding to “leave it in the ground, now.” We both know that is not going to happen. So, let’s not pretend that it will. Our energy use (globally) will increase for decades to come, barring some catastrophe, like a here-to-for unnoticed meteor, a supervolcano, some sort of global plague…

Taking that as a given, how do we minimize the harm global energy use causes?

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:19 PM

22. "We both know that is not going to happen"

 

Fine, Ill give you that. Then, under that assumption, our goose is pretty much cooked.

Maybe a solar powered carbon scrubber somehow manufactured in high enough quantity to make a difference, without such manufacturing process creating lethal emissions.

At the end of the day, we will all probably plow ahead and pursue geo-engineering, because the system cannot be "tamed" via innovation and it cannot be abandoned by the people (who have been rendered pretty helpless and dependent on it). Either geo-engineering will reduce harm or it wont work well enough to prevent a breakdown. That is the bottom line.

Lets stop being delusional and let people know how this shit is going to go down. The Green facade is leaving people vulnerable with a false sense of hope, and they are going to get bitch-slapped by reality.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 04:04 PM

6. What's the assumed capacity factor?

Hmmmm?????

Same old "capacity" flim-flam.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:10 PM

20. There has to be an energy-efficiency factor too.

There needs to be a policy directed towards encouraging developed and devoloping societies to use less energy while still improving quality of life.

Meanwhile, if societies' ability and willingness to generate clean(er) renewable energy rather than releasing CO2 is improving, and while more people pay attention to the issues, this can only be good, surely.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:16 PM

21. Oh, it's all good

The renewables, the efficiency, the policies, the awareness, the willingness to pay extra (?) We all need to feel like we're doing good things.

I also need to feel that I'm gaining a deeper understanding of How Things Really Work. That's good for me.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:59 PM

26. This message was deleted by the cat on the keyboard. n/t

 

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Response to 2on2u (Reply #26)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 07:58 PM

28. Keyboard Cats, huh?

MMmmmmmmrrrrrrrrr...

Puuurrrrr.

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