Big Energy’s Kodak Moment – “Phase Change” as Solar Cheaper than Gas in Dubai

January 28, 2015

Above, new BMW ad touting the new i3 electric vehicle.
When we think of rapid technological change, the early days of the internet come immediately to mind, for anyone who was an adult at that time.   In 1993, while many of us had seen or used computers at work, the idea of owning one seemed a bit off the wall. What would you do with it?
Send an email? to Whom? Why?

We remember what happened then.
Fast forward, wrap your mind around this fact. Solar energy is now cheaper than gas, in Dubai. And Texas.

Below, watch Michael Leibrich, New Energy guru for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, discuss the transition now underway in the utillity space.  Worth a listen in the entirety, but if you’re pressed, go right to 8:30, and listen to the story about film Photography giant Kodak’s inabilty to foresee and adjust to the rapidity of the switch to digital cameras – a process Liebrich likens to a “phase change.”
Texans like my friend Michael Osborne will quibble whether Dubai or Austin has the lowest prices for Solar right now, but the message is clear.


One of the biggest solar power stories of the past year — if not the biggest — was the record-low price of solar power that was bid in Dubai toward the end of the year. ACWA Power bid 5.98 cents per kWh, well below the cost of natural gas in the region (which is 9 cents per kWh). Michael Liebreich — Chairman of the Advisory Board of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and founder of the company under the original name of New Energy Finance — was kind enough to invite me to dinner the other night after a World Future Energy Summit panel that he moderated. On the way to dinner, our conversation was already getting so interesting that we stopped to record a bit of it.

Mr Liebrich’s remarks stand up in light of the most recent survey of utility executives by Utility Dive:

Despite these challenges, utility executives today see immense opportunity in emerging areas. The emergence of electric vehicles, energy storage, smart technologies and even rooftop solar are an opportunity for utilities to bring new services to consumers — or at least build out the smart grid platform on which they will rely. But without first solving their most pressing challenges, utilities won’t find it easy to seize new opportunities.

I’ll include my recent Renewable Energy piece, just to round it out, in case you’re sending this to someone to make a point about the energy transition.




18 Responses to “Big Energy’s Kodak Moment – “Phase Change” as Solar Cheaper than Gas in Dubai”

  1. […] posted the other day about Electric Utilitie’s Kodak Moment – the growing realization that we are in a technological paradigm shift that will destroy the […]

  2. […] he’s going to do. He’s announcing another step toward a distributed energy economy, as the electric utilities’ Kodak Moment draws ever […]

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