The Renewable Energy Renaissance

The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.



Trump tells America's solar workers "you're fired!"

Press startement from Beyond Nuclear on Trump decision to approve solar import tariffs.

January 24, 2018

“In signing off this week on a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and panels, mainly from China, President Trump has effectively told thousands of American solar industry workers ‘you’re fired!’ In doing so, he could seriously harm one of the country’s most successful and flourishing employers.

“In 2016, the US solar industry was responsible for one in 50 of all new jobs. It had become the most rapidly growing US industry, scaling up 17 times faster than the US economy. 

“Now, despite his professed but hollow commitment to American blue collar jobs, President Trump has instead likely eliminated at least 23,000 of them this year alone, with the possibility of that number eventually soaring to 88,000, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“In his continued pattern of throwing his base under the bus, President Trump has decided to kowtow to two bankrupt foreign US-based companies — Suniva and SolarWorld Americas — who successfully petitioned the International Trade Commission last September to approve import tariffs on solar cells and panels that they claimed cut into their market.

“But far from providing a boost to the US solar industry, the removal of cheap Chinese panels from the market will slow growth and installation and increase costs to consumers, putting a dent in every area of the U.S. solar industry.

“Worse still, the Chinese are likely to retaliate by reinforcing their own import tariffs on polysilicone from the U.S., hitting that industry hard as well.” (Linda Pentz Gunter)

More here and here.


Could be renewables are becoming “too cheap to meter”

Germany’s renewable energy transition continues to set new records with yet another for wind energy forecasted in early November 2017 to drive electricity prices below zero .  According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, negative pricing for too much electricity from the country’s wind turbines means that the power producers either have to shut down turbines down or pay customers “to take the electricity off the grid.” We are talking about a forecast for Germany’s wind energy production to generate 39,109 megawatts of electricity in one day, the equivalent of 40 nuclear power stations.  Germany is now licensing offshore wind farm development without government subsidies as the technology’s cost continues to plummet, now projected by 71% over the next 20 years. But Germany’s rapid deployment of innovation renewable energy is only a part of the global expansion picture for abundant wind and solar power.

The design for Doctors Without Borders new Geneva headquarters uses innovative transparent photovoltaic cells coating the colored glass building. The beautiful architecture incorporates energy efficiency and its own renewable energy production from the sun.  Transparent solar cells have only entered to commercially emerge in the last few years but according to the authors of a study published in Nature, light-harvesting materials are the new wave for an ever innovative solar power industry turning glass into an electricity producer. With more than 750 billion square feet of glass in the United States, a transparent solar laminate overlay on windows oriented to the sun’s arc could generate 40% of the nation’s energy according to researchers.  One project, led by energy researchers at Michigan State University, is using organic molecules fashioned into thin plastic-like transparent film that can capture ultraviolet and infrared wavelength in sunlight and convert it into electricity.


Renewables are leaving nuclear behind

The new edition of the World Nuclear Energy Status Report has been released, with some key insights into the dwindling influence of nuclear energy worldwide. You can read and download the full 2017 report here. Here is a summary of findings in the Report about the worldwide status of renewable energy compared to nuclear energy:

Renewables Distance Nuclear

Globally, wind power output grew by 16%, solar by 30%, nuclear by 1.4% in 2016. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh, solar by 77 TWh, respectively 3.8 times and 2.2 times more than nuclear's 35 TWh. Renewables represented 62% of global power generating capacity additions.

New renewables beat existing nuclear. Renewable energy auctions achieved record low prices at and below US$30/MWh in Chile, Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Average generating costs of amortized nuclear power plants in the U.S. were US$35.5 in 2015.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 (WNISR2017) provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear power plant data, including information on operation, production and construction. The WNISR assesses the status of new-build programs in current nuclear countries as well as in potential newcomer countries.

The WNISR2017 edition includes a new assessment from an equity analyst view of the financial crisis of the nuclear sector and some of its biggest industrial players.

The Fukushima Status Report provides not only an update on onsite and offsite issues six years after the beginning of the catastrophe, but also the latest official and new independent cost evaluations of the disaster.

Focus chapters provide in-depth analysis of France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Nuclear Power vs. Renewable Energy chapter provides global comparative data on investment, capacity, and generation from nuclear, wind and solar energy.

Finally, Annex 1 presents a country-by-country overview of all other countries operating nuclear power plants.


Alphabet Sees Power in Molten Salt, a New Moonshot

As reported by Dow Jones Newswire. The article begins:

Google parent Alphabet Inc. is pitching an idea to store power from renewable energy in tanks of molten salt and cold liquid, an example of the tech giant trying to marry its far-reaching ambitions with business demand.

Alphabet's research lab, dubbed X, said Monday that it has developed plans to store electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines as thermal energy in hot salt and cold liquids, such as antifreeze. The lab is seeking partners in the energy industry, including power-plant developers and utilities, to build a prototype to plug into the electrical grid.

The article reports at its conclusion:

Other academics said new demand for energy storage may mean the idea could now work. "Molten salts aren't new, and thermal storage isn't new. What's new about this is there's a big brand-name backer behind it," said mechanical-engineering professor Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. "And the rise of renewables means there's more demand (for energy storage). So maybe the time is right for an old idea."


Renewables overtake Nuclear Years Earlier Than Expected

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly (with data through April 30) reveals that renewable energy sources – including wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower – are now providing a greater share of the nation’s electrical generation than nuclear power, according to a new analysis from nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign.

For the first third of this year, renewables and nuclear power have been running neck-in-neck, with renewables providing 20.20% of U.S. net electrical generation during the four-month period (from January through April) compared to 20.75% for nuclear power. Yet, SUN DAY says that in March and April, renewables surpassed nuclear power for the first time and have taken a growing lead: 21.60% (renewables) versus 20.34% (nuclear) in March and 22.98% (renewables) versus 19.19% (nuclear) in April. Read more

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