Stanford

Solar and Wind Costs Expected to Continue Falling—A Lot

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A new report has come out from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that points to continued dramatic reductions in the average costs for both solar and wind power.

The report, entitled The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025, finds that given the right regulatory frameworks and policies, prices will continue to fall through 2025 and beyond.

Solar PV prices could fall another 59%, solar CSP 43%, while offshore wind could fall 35% and onshore wind, 26%, all compared with 2015 prices. This would bring the average cost of renewable electricity (solar and onshore wind) down to 5-6Wh ¢/kWh.  Those prices today are 7 cents for wind and 13 cents for solar PV. As of March 2016, the lowest price of electricity in the US for residential customers was 9.14 ¢//kWh.

IRENA Director, Adnan Z. Amin said, “We have already seen dramatic cost decreases in solar and wind in recent years and this report shows that prices will continue to drop, thanks to different technology and market drivers. Given that solar and wind are already the cheapest source of new generation capacity in many markets around the world, this further cost reduction will broaden that trend and strengthen the compelling business case to switch from fossil fuels to renewables.”

Toyota Invests $50 Million In Artificial Intelligence

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already part of our everyday lives. We often don’t know it because it’s not obvious. However, the next wave of AI-enabled devices will interact with humans in a far more noticeable way via intelligent robots and autonomous cars.

Leaks Make Natural Gas Vehicles Less Climate-Friendly Than Diesel

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A couple of weeks back, we wrote about how natural gas was being used to replace diesel to fuel many large trucks. California-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. opened several natural gas filling stations in locations stretching from coast to coast. We wrote, “Natural gas has become an attractive option for high-horsepower trucks, because it is less expensive (by up to $1.50/gal), cleaner (23% less GHG emissions), and offers better price stability when compared with conventional diesel. It's also better for the health of drivers and the communities in which they operate. Given the high level of natural gas availability in the US at this time, it also offers the opportunity to reduce dependence on imported oil.“

A recent study, just released, reveals some information that could potentially pour cold water on this approach. The study, which was jointly conducted by scientists at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that there is currently 50% more methane already in the atmosphere than had previously been thought. The researchers have determined that this gas must come from leaks throughout the natural gas supply chain.

After conducting a detailed analysis, weighing both the benefits and costs, the team determined that from a greenhouse gas perspective, the added methane resulting from these leaks, more than offsets the reduction in carbon dioxide resulting from the switch from diesel to natural gas. In other words, according to the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, Assistant Professor of Energy Resources at Stanford, “Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective.”

The leaks, however, were not severe enough to tip the balance when it came to replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas. That's because of the enormous amounts of CO2 that comes from coal. Even factoring in the methane leaks, gas-powered plants have half the impact of coal plants.

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