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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:51 AM
Original message
Clean Energy Stunner: Renewable Power Tops Fossil Fuels for First Time


Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis.

Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data. Accelerating installations of solar- and wind-power plants led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal.

Thats the latest, amazing news from Bloomberg.

Last week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that renewable energy investments are projected to double over the next eight years and reach $395 billion per year. No, that isnt enough to stabilize emissions and control climate change, according to the International Energy Agency. But it is still very impressive....

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/26/376250/clean-energy-renewable-power-tops-fossil-fuels-for-first-time/
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 11:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. And if they double the price of the renewables... we would have passed this point years ago!
BTW - the graph has little to do with the subject matter of the story... but it's interesting to note that solar PV needs to grow ~50-fold just to get up to the 7% line.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Another nuclear industry panic attack?
You wrote, "And if they double the price of the renewables... we would have passed this point years ago!"

Perhaps you meant "halve" instead of "double"?

I'm not surprised you don't see the point of the chart since it i can't be spun as helpful to nuclear or hurtful to the nuclear industry's competition.

Let me help: the OP is about a rapidly escalating rate of installation of renewables; a rate that now exceeds that of fossil fuels.

This, in turn, means that the built manufacturing base is growing in a similar manner.

The chart shows a forecast by the IPCC tying the installed capacity to declining prices for solar generated electricity.

Already the choice for new installation is tilted towards renewable sources.

Going forward from today the declining price of solar is going to substantially improve the calculus behind the decisions reflected in the OP and by 2020 (more likely sooner) the economics will have shifted unalterably in favor of distributed renewables.


PS A similar graph charting the price of nuclear over time shows a steadily increasing cost curve. Of course, if you use strictly market data to create such a chart, you'd have to account for the large number of bankruptcies in that industry which skew the price downward by writing off huge chunks of capital costs.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. That's four minutes you'll never get back. nt
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Nope. I mean double.
If you wanted to measure whether renewables in a given year had outpaced other forms of generation, why on earth would you do it based on how many dollars were spent in each... when it's the amount of electricity generated that is the relevant comparison?

Of course the reason is obvious. By the more relevant measure, the article couldn't be written.

I'm not surprised you don't see the point of the chart

I didn't say that I didn't see the point of the chart. I (correctly) pointed out that it doesn't have much to do with the subject of the article. It's PV-only when the article is about all renewables, and dollars spent A vs. B is not illustrated by a graph of per-unit prices for one part of A.

If you need that simplified... just let me know.

the OP is about a rapidly escalating rate of installation of renewables; a rate that now exceeds that of fossil fuels.

And obvious confusion on your part. The OP implies the first, it doesn't present anything re: the second. Which was the point that obviously went over your head.

The chart shows a forecast by the IPCC tying the installed capacity to declining prices for solar generated electricity.

That's nice. So? It also shows (as I said), that solar PV makes up an incredibly tiny wedge of the pie.



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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Sorry, Charlie...
Follow the money.

We're in a transition from fossil fuels to renewables and a milestone has just been passed. More money is being invested in renewable generation than in fossil fuel plants. And that's with a large amount of activity surrounding natural gas.

This isn't about the percentage of power generated. It's about where the energy industry is going. We build and then we see production numbers shift.

BTW, wind passed the 3% of total production point this year.

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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Ever seen the quarterly charts on that spending?
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 01:33 PM by FBaggins
This isn't a smooth curve that you can look at and assume that once it crosses a line it never comes back. How much of that spending was advanced from future plans to catch incentives or favorable market conditions? How much was government dollars that have reversed course?

The amount spent on renewables is obviously (and correctly) growing rapidly... but what do the last ten years look like for the other line? IOW, to what extent did the crossing occur because of the upward slope of one line vs. the downward slope of the other? It really makes a difference.

We're in a transition from fossil fuels to renewables

Actually, we're in a transition away from fossil fuels (hopefully) - or at least away from the worst fossil fuels. "Renewables" is only part of where we're headed.

This isn't about the percentage of power generated.

Of course it is.

I can see why you would WANT to avoid that topic... but not why anyone should accomodate you in that spin.
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Sour grapes...
Renewables are growing.

Nuclear plant plans are being abandoned.

We understand your disappointment. But you're welcome to join the 21st Century. The one powered by clean, safe, affordable energy.

It's a bright new future. Come join us.
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Nuclear plant plans are being abandoned?
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 01:51 PM by FBaggins
Not from what I've seen. China moving back to more agressive construction, only now it looks like they'll be using more western companies to do so... just weeks away from the expected approvals for new reactors here in the US... several countries ramping up their plans (including one that you assured me was dead once the UK had to accept a coalition government which refused to give nuclear a subsidy)

Germany is closing some existing plants but had no plans to "abandon". Japan looks like a few that were going to be constructed are gone... but worldwide it hasn't been nearly how you characterize it. If anything, it looks like the folks at Westinghouse expect to sell more plants in the coming years than they did pre-fukushima.

So sorry.
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:02 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Nuclear in the west...
Going out of business.

Germany, Switzerland and Belgium have decided to close all their nuclear and build no more.

France is moving into solar and offshore wind. Public opposition to nuclear has grown significantly in France.

The UK might build a reactor. Or the push to build reactors in the UK might cause a change of government. The present government seems to be going against the will of the voters.

Mexico just canceled plans to build 10 new plants.

Brazil has backed away from its nuclear plans and is installing large amounts of wind.

We might see one or two plants built in the US, but even Southern Company who is the most likely to build a new plant has pulled back. It's likely Southern is realizing that they can't build a plant and push the high cost off on their captive customers, even in the South consumers are starting wake up to the high cost of nuclear.

China is building nuclear but they don't have to concern themselves with the financial aspects of construction. They can also simply site a nuclear waste dump wherever they damn well please and get away with it. And at the same time China is rapidly increasing their wind and solar generation. They're putting a lot more emphasis on renewables.



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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:13 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Untrue
Though welcome to DU!

Germany, Switzerland and Belgium have decided to close all their nuclear and build no more.

Germany already wasn't building any more... Switzerland hasn't really decided anything. They're going to phase out nuclear power over the next 25 years or so. Not much of a shift (the plants will be 50 years old). And Belgium? Where were their plans for new reactors?

France is moving into solar and offshore wind.

As they should. They have too many eggs in one basket now. But this also doesn't represent all that great a shift in new reactor construction.

The UK might build a reactor.

They plan to build several. The most recent reports imply a couple dozen.

The present government seems to be going against the will of the voters.

Untrue. Polling in the UK has been more favorable to nuclear than most countries.

Mexico just canceled plans to build 10 new plants.

Ever look at why? It's because they discovered massive new gas supplies. Yippie.

We might see one or two plants built in the US,

One or two? Better check again. Watch the news over the next few weeks.

but even Southern Company who is the most likely to build a new plant has pulled back.

Where did you get that idea?
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. Add 'em up...
As I said, and as you confirm, nuclear in the west is phasing out. Germany, Switzerland and Belgium have said "Let's close what we've got and build no more.". France is looking to other sources of power. Mexico and Brazil have canceled plans because they have cheaper ways to make the electricity they need.

A handful of new reactors may be built but they will not make up for the plants that are to be retired.

You can argue that the UK is going to build a couple dozen plants, but once the public sees the price then I think that support will crumble. Don't forget, offshore wind and tidal are taking off in the UK. And additional HVDC transmission lines are being laid connecting the UK with Europe. New nuclear is going to have to compete not only with wind and tidal but also Southern Europe and North African solar.

Don't forget, it takes a decade or so to build a new reactor and get it on line. That's a decade of continued price decreases for solar and wind.

I'll watch the news for new plants announcements in the US. What I expect to see is that there will be even more anger in Florida about pre-paying for a nuclear plant there. If anyone announces a new plant build I'll be very surprised.

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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Sorry... still no.
As I said, and as you confirm, nuclear in the west is phasing out.

Germany/Switzerland/Belgium in no way make up "the West". The U.S. is beginning to expand again, the U.K. is certainly part of "The West", and Europe has hardly become a nuclear-free zone.

If anyone announces a new plant build I'll be very surprised.

Then you haven't been paying attention. The TVA announced a plant a couple months ago (as well as a plan to purchase multiple SMRs once they're approved), and four reactors (in two pairs) have really already begun preconstruction.
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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Where?
Southern Company has done some pre-construction work before announcing that they were rethinking.

Who else is doing pre-construction?

TVA is finishing Watts Bar, a plant on which they stopped construction in 1988.

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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 06:39 AM
Response to Reply #21
23. Where is this announcement of "rethinking"?
Edited on Wed Dec-07-11 06:41 AM by FBaggins
The condenser (a 6-7 million pound item) just shipped a few days ago and the bottom head of the containment vessel is being welded. The only thing that Southern has been "rethinking" has been whether their existing schedule is still realistic given the NRC's understandable delay in giving final approval. That will be answered based on whether the NRC gives their blessing later this month or in the first quarter of next year.

Who else is doing pre-construction?

Two more units at the VC Summer plant in SC

TVA is finishing Watts Bar, a plant on which they stopped construction in 1988.

Yep... and when they're done with that they're spending another ~$5Billion to finish a unit at Bellefonte (AL). They've also signed an MOU to build six SMR units at Clinch River
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. As you told me - you have to remember the agenda.
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 02:17 PM by PamW
If you wanted to measure whether renewables in a given year had outpaced other forms of generation, why on earth would you do it based on how many dollars were spent in each... when it's the amount of electricity generated that is the relevant comparison?

Of course the reason is obvious. By the more relevant measure, the article couldn't be written.
========================================================

Just as you told me - you have to remember the agenda.

You have to remember that some people live in a reality distortion field.

When you have an energy source that is grossly overpriced by comparison; of course you
want to measure progress by dollars spent instead of product delivered to the customer, which
would be kw-hrs in this case.

I'm sure Porsche or Rolls Royce would rather cite the monetary value of the cars that roll off
their lines, rather than the number of vehicles.

It's all a part of the intellectual dishonesty and raw propaganda that infects
the "renewables only" mindset.

PamW

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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
15. Nuclear energy illogic at its finest...
The price of renewables is *declining*.

The aggregate investment in renewables is *increasing*.

Lower per unit cost factored against greater sum of investment means an accelerating rate of investment.

No wonder you support nuclear power, you can't do basic arithmetic.
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. You missed a critical piece in the formula
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 02:42 PM by FBaggins
At least... I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you missed it and it wasn't intentional.

The price of something can *decline* and have investment *increase* and still not have an end result that actually means that we're producing more of Thing A than Thing B.

All you need is for Thing A to start off as much more expensive than Thing B - which is just what we have in this case.

And you still have yet to address the other problems with this "logic". There's little in a single datapoint (even assuming that it's accurate) that demonstrates that the slope of the line is constant/improving or that the opposing line is not itself temporarily impacted (by, say, a persistent slow economy).
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Talk about not knowing arithmetic
The price of renewables is *declining*.

The aggregate investment in renewables is *increasing*.
=============================================================

The price of a Rolls Royce could be *declining* also.

There may be lots of millionaires *increasing* their spending on Rolls Royce cars.

However, that doesn't mean that Rolls Royce cars are affordable to the average Joe.

Kris; don't BS me with mathematics. I know one Hell of lot more mathematics than
you can even imagine. You can't do basic arithmetic.

For the mathematically astute; Kris has just claimed to be able to determine the
value of a function by knowing only the first derivatives. Anyone that knows
anything about differential calculus knows that is WRONG!!!

PamW

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. WRONG - the prices of PV modules and wind turbnes ARE declining
too bad for you

yup
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. How am I wrong?
WRONG - the prices of PV modules and wind turbnes ARE declining.
=================================================================

How am I wrong? Did I say that the prices of PV and wind were not declining?

We have someone else who is "mathematically challenged" and can't distinguish between the
value of a function and the value of the first derivatives.

If I tell you that the value of Rolls Royce cars are declining; does that mean that they are cheap?

Of course NOT!!! PV and wind are declining; but still expensive compared to the alternatives.

PamW

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. WRONG - wind is cheaper than nuclear and competes with gas-fired electricity
every single day

and, PV module prices have fallen enough that companies in Maine are using PV systems to power heat pumps - to provide heating at a cost cheaper than grid electricity, natural gas and heating oil.

but recognition of these fact would require technical acumen - which is at its nadir in NEI paid blogosphere...

yup
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. WRONG!!
wind is cheaper than nuclear and competes with gas-fired electricity
====================================================================

Yes - wind competes with gas-fired; they both are about 5 cents per kw-hr at the bussbar ( output of powerplant ).

However, coal and nuclear produce electricity at about 2 cents per kw-hr at the bussbar.

PamW

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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Geeze Pam...
No one disputes the price of electricity from an old paid off coal or nuclear plant is cheap. Especially if we disregard subsidies and hidden costs.

The discussion is about what generation we build in the future. You cannot build a new nuclear or coal plant and sell that electricity for a competitive price in the current gas/wind market.

This "nuclear is cheap" is an incredibly dishonest argument that pro-nukers just love to bring into discussions.
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Depends...
The discussion is about what generation we build in the future. You cannot build a new nuclear or coal plant and sell that electricity for a competitive price in the current gas/wind market.
==============================================

It depends on what number you use for the cost of the nuclear plant.

Do you use the cost of the plant as quoted by the builders?

Or do you use the cost quoted by anti-nuke organizations that figure in years and years of
protests and court-cases that are designed to drive up the costs, artificially.

We don't have to put up with years and years of court cases during construction.

The new one-step licensing already enacted doesn't let intervenors hold up the
operating license. If the intervenor lose their case in court at the construction
permit stage, they don't get a second chance to stop the plant anymore.

PamW

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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. You mean like Finland and France?
The transparency is a bit of an issue but we have a couple of examples from regimes where public disclosure is better than others.

How is Olkiluoto going? More than 4 years behind schedule and double original cost quote, isn't it?

What about Flamanville? Again 4 years behind schedule and exceeding 50% cost overuns with lots of time left for more.


What is even more interesting is that there are no protests in Finland, and only a few minor ones in France.

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Bob Wallace Donating Member (132 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. The number one set of numbers...
that I use are the turnkey bids submitted for new reactors in Ontario, San Antonio and Turkey.

Those were open opportunities for the nuclear industry to step up and build their least expensive nuclear plant.

Those would be quotes from the builders writ real.

If the nuclear industry could build for less, be it uranium-fueled or thorium-fueled, they would have bid a lower price.

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #26
31. WRONG according the CA Energy Commission wind = 3.5 cents per kWh
and new nuclear is more expensive

NEI numbers are "made up"

yup
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CreekDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
32. you would never say such a negative thing about nuclear power
:rofl:
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Right... because nobody would be dense enough...
Edited on Fri Dec-09-11 12:31 PM by FBaggins
...to claim that nuclear was having a good year because of the number of dollars spent on it.

Is the SC nuclear plant better/worse than the GA plant under construction because one is expected to cost $10 billion and the other is expected to cost $14 billion? Both have a pair of essentially identical units. Are they both better than the virtually identical units being built in China because they're more expensive?

The point of my post was not anti-renewables. I'm pro renewables... pro LOTS of renewables (even where they're "too expensive").

I'm just anti-dumb-arguments. And "renewables tops fossil" is just such an argument when the supporting data is that we spent more on one than the other in a particular year.

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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:37 PM
Response to Original message
8. 30 years late. Better late than never.
Hooray!!!

I just wish I were smart enough to know where to invest. I hate gambling.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Spread it around several sectors, and several picks in each sector.
This really is a time to get in on the ground floor, but most of the companies out there wont make it.
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. I'm not sure what Nanosolar is up to. But Google put something like $100 million into them.
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 02:16 PM by Gregorian
I'm still trying to pull out of my real estate investment. Maybe I'll have enough left over to actually invest.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. Good luck. nt

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