Solar, Wind,+ Storage Challenging Gas

January 12, 2019


For years, proponents of natural gas referred to it as a “bridge fuel,”an interim power source on the way to a distant future dominated by renewable energy. That far-off day seemed to pose little immediate threat. Not anymore.

Last year, representatives at the World Gas Conference started referring to natural gas as a “destination fuel” instead, even as one US state after another halted plans for natural gas plants.

The nervousness stems from the plummeting prices of solar panels and battery storage. Natural gas plants are the historical go-to choice for “peaker plants,” which provide electricity during times of highest demand. While rarely used (just a few days per year on average), they’re critical to preventing blackouts.

Now, solar project developers are moving into that territory. Solar developers are bidding prices for new electricity capacity lower than natural gas plants even after adding batteries. In December, Credit Suisse confirmed that utility-scale solar-plus-storage was already cheaper than gas peaker plants in many cases.

After years in the doldrums, US energy-storage installations, mostly lithium-ion batteries, are taking off, having risen 57% to 338 MW in 2018 over the previous year, according to estimates by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. Globally, 6 gigawatt-hours have been installed worldwide.

GE and Siemens have been trying to offload their natural gas turbine businesses as sales tumble. In May 2018, GE cut its sales forecast for its heavy-duty natural gas power plant business by more than half, saying demand would stay at the reduced level through 2020.


8 Responses to “Solar, Wind,+ Storage Challenging Gas”

  1. redskylite Says:

    The future is looking steady for lithium-ion battery storage according to Imperial College London.

    Pumped-storage hydroelectricity costs are not expected to significantly decrease in the future, whereas lithium-ion battery costs are forecast to plummet.

    The report suggests hydrogen storage and flywheel technologies may become the cheapest techniques for certain niche applications, such as when the stored energy needs to be discharged over a long time period or when it must be discharged very frequently.

    Dr Iain Staffell, Senior Author on the paper, said: “We have found that lithium-ion batteries are following in the footsteps of crystalline silicon solar panels.

    “First-generation solar cells were high performance but very expensive, so cheaper second and third-generation designs were developed to supersede them. However, sheer economies of scale mean these first-generation panels now cannot be beaten on price.”

  2. redskylite Says:

    And solar is really catching on down under, vever mind climate change economics dictate.

    New solar energy installations tripled in capacity in 2018 in Australia, with solid growth in rooftop solar eclipsed by a massive increase in utility-sized ventures.

  3. redskylite Says:

    Forgive me for going off topic but I really need to share this: My fear, not particularly based scientifically based is that CO2 concentrations and climatic changes are gravely affecting human the human psych, subtly and slowly.

    I read two articles over this weekend that encouraged my fear. Even if you think this is nonsense why are we still taking this so lightly and electing deniers like Trump.

    Article 1

    “The mental health crisis that increasingly appears to affect young people from wealthier countries has baffled scientists more than other findings that could be explained by inequality or poverty.”

    Article 2

    Mental health professionals are increasingly recognizing the critical role they play in combating climate change. Data suggest that rising temperatures are linked to increases in multiple psychiatric disorders and suicide rates.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      On the contrary, thanks for saying it. It’s one of the most important issues about climate cataclysm, and affects every other issue, especially denial. It’s hardly ever addressed, but if we want anything to survive we need to.

      Anxiety about ecological catastrophe, especially climate, has been growing for decades. People are suffering more anxiety, depression, anger, grief, denial, confusion, and stress, making them more vulnerable to more serious mental illnesses. What we refuse to face consciously always gets expressed unconsciously, so it’s been expressed in art, scapegoating, politics, war, and everywhere else—symbolically. The right denies so fanatically because they know unconsciously how serious a threat climate cataclysm is to civilization and more importantly to them, to their worldview. Movies about asteroids hitting the Earth are not about asteroids hitting the Earth, nor are movies about vampires, White Walkers or terrorists about those things. As in dreams, every character and phenomenon can be well-viewed as part of us, or as a manifestation of us, and that can help us here, if we choose to learn more about the most central and crucial system on Earth in this crisis—the human mind.

      Both heat and CO2 make us dumber.


      Climate direness and emotions from the founder of The Climate Mobilization

  4. John Says:

    Reblogged this on jpratt27 and commented:

  5. redskylite Says:

    . . . . . .ultimately, the imperative of lower prices will carry the day.

    Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

    S&P Global reports the cost of solar with battery backup dropped precipitously in 2018. In a few cases in the sunny Southwest region of the United States, several tenders for solar plus storage came in at under $30 per megawatt-hour last year. Stand alone prices for installed battery storage — based on a 20 megawatt-hour system with 4 hours of storage — dropped 40% from the previous year to $357 per kilowatt-hour and are expected to keep falling.

  6. redskylite Says:

    Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

    In a world increasingly anxious about climate change, the surge in the generation of renewable energy over the past 20 years offers a sliver of hope. But the variable nature of wind and solar power means that storing energy until consumers need it has become the next big challenge. And so, large-scale battery installations are springing up across electricity grids around the world, to make them more flexible. In 2017, more than 1GW of energy storage capacity was added around the world

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