Despite Cheap Gas, 2016 Will Be a Big Year for Renewables

January 5, 2016


I continue to ask the burning question, Will Gas Break Wind, Will Wind Pass Gas?

Despite low gas prices, and in some cases, because of them, renewables are roaring ahead.  Still work to do, though.

Washington Post:

Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels.

Installations of wind turbines and solar panels soared in 2015 as utility companies went on a worldwide building binge, taking advantage of falling prices for clean technology as well as an improving regulatory and investment climate. Both industries have seen stock prices jump since Congress approved an extension of tax credits for renewables as part of last month’s $1.14 trillion budget deal.

Orders for 2016 solar and wind installations are up sharply, from the United States to China to the developing economies of Africa and Latin America, all in defiance of stubbornly low prices for coal and natural gas, the industry’s chief competitors.

“We’re seeing very good momentum across the board globally,” Anders Runevad, chief executive of Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s biggest producer of wind turbines, said in an interview. “We’re seeing growth in every region.”

Vestas, based in Denmark, is one of three major turbine makers whose stock price doubled in 2015 amid a surge of new orders from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Runevad, the Vestas CEO, said the recent drop in prices for traditional fuels has prompted some of his customers to increase their spending on wind farms, especially in countries that are heavy importers of petroleum.

“Some countries are having a budget surplus now because of low oil prices, and they’re using that money to invest in new infrastructure,” he said. “For importing countries, it’s a net positive. Because of the uncertainty with gas prices, we haven’t seen any of our wind customers say, ‘Let’s build a gas-fired plant instead.’ ”

Runevad, who recently signed major deals to sell turbines to China and India, is confident that developing economies will ultimately choose renewables over cheap coal. India and China suffer from high levels of air pollution — mostly because of their heavy use of coal — which contributes to thousands of premature deaths annually.

Michigan Public Radio:

A surcharge paid by Michigan utility customers for electricity generated by wind and solar energy is disappearing.

With the new year, DTE Energy Customers will no longer pay a 43-cent monthly fee for renewable energy. The state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, dropped the fee last year.

“That’s reflecting the falling cost of renewable energy, and customers are benefitting from that,” says Judy Palnau with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility-regulating agency. She says utilities initially charged as much as $3 per meter under a 2008 state law that encouraged utilities to use more renewable resources to generate electricity.

“Wind turbines, the ones that are being used today, are a lot more efficient than the ones even from 2008.”


6 Responses to “Despite Cheap Gas, 2016 Will Be a Big Year for Renewables”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Oh yeah, the guys at the renewables companies whose stock prices have gone up are happy as pigs in you-know-what. (I wonder how Solar Roadway is doing?—-$2 million and counting?)

    I will be the post-Christmas Grinch and again shout INDIA-COAL-CHINA, with a repeat on INDIA. The number of people in India who have no access to electricity is close to the entire population of the U.S., and they are going to be burning coal far into the future.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Investors look to India as the next solar power
      Equipment suppliers see opportunity in country’s ‘massive’ renewable energy aspirations
      As recently as a few months ago, the alternative energy targets announced by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2014 seemed wildly overambitious — even to solar electricity enthusiasts in the industry. But a surge of investment in solar power stations now makes them look merely optimistic.
      “In 2009, when I said that India would have 2 to 3 gigawatts [of solar energy] by 2015, people said ‘That’s not possible’,” says Inderpreet Wadhwa, founder and chief executive of Azure Power, one of the country’s biggest producers. “Today we have 5GW running.”

      India, Russia Sign Agreement For Solar Power Development
      Russia has become the latest company to join hands with India to help the latter achieve its massive solar power targets.
      The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Russian Energy Agency (REA) have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up large scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in India between 2016 to 2022.

  2. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    When one is not being milked so much by the oil cartels, one has more disposable income to invest in a clean future.
    Bring it on.

  3. indy222 Says:

    However, China’s NEA just cut their goal for solar deployment by 15% for ’16, vs. ’15. It’s a bit confusing where the near term goes. Would love to see sharp acceleration, but this seems not the case.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    That’s good news, except that the word “investors” really should be “speculators”. It remains to be seen if renewables really take off at a rate that does more than match economic growth and replaces fossil fuels only slowly.

    And India doubling the 2009 “projection” of 2 to 3 GW to 5 GW over 6 years IS an accomplishment, but don’t forget (and I’m using some older figures here) that India is a country of ~1.2+ billion people with a total generating capacity of ~160 GW. Compare that to the U.S. with 320 million people and ~1,000 GW, and China with a only few more people than India and ~700+ GW.

    Do the math, and you’ll see that India will be burning coal for a long time as they try to grow their economy and overtake China in terms of quality of life. As will China as they try to overtake the U.S.

    • pendantry Says:

      I think you’re doing the wrong sort of ‘math’.

      The kind of sums I keep thinking about include ‘quantity of energy arriving at Earth from the sun in one hour = power requirements of our global needs for a whole year’.

      Combine this with Albert Bartlett’s “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function” and add a smidgeon of Andy Lee Robinson’s “When one is not being milked so much by the oil cartels, one has more disposable income to invest in a clean future” and Robert is your mother’s brother.

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