The grid will require a substantial transformation as more renewable sources come online. Some critics argue technological, financial, and institutional barriers will prevent significant decarbonization of the power sector, but four common clean energy myths are easily debunked by facts and real-world experiences showing the feasibility of a low-carbon energy future.
Clean Energy: Technology
Advanced Energy Economy’s new encyclopedia of advanced energy technologies surveys more than 50 advanced energy technologies that work to make the grid more reliable, cheap, and clean. This includes “technologies for electricity generation, electricity delivery and management, building efficiency, water efficiency, transportation, and fuel production and delivery.”
This study finds the total national technical potential of rooftop solar PV equates to 39 percent of total national electric sector sales, nearly doubling previous estimates. Because the results are estimates of technical potential, they do not consider what would be required to integrate all the potential PV-generated energy into the power system. In practice, the integration of a significant quantity of rooftop PV into the national portfolio of generation capacity would require a flexible grid, supporting infrastructure, and a suite of enabling technologies.
This report details the falling costs and growing installations of clean energy. The cost of wind fell by 40 percent between 2008 and 2014, while solar costs fell by 60 percent, and LEDs by almost 90 percent. The price declines drove a great deal of new installations across all technologies.
Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 9.0
This analysis compares the levelized cost of energy, as well as a handful of other cost metrics, for various energy technologies. It finds that the cost of solar and wind have continued to drop in price, making them cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies in some circumstances.
This study identifies 13 services that batteries can provide, dividing each by the beneficiary: customers, distribution utilities, and bulk-system operators. RMI recommends that regulators require distribution utilities to examine DERs including storage as alternatives to traditional infrastructure investments, and that battery and DER developers collaborate with utilities and regulators to help them understand what values distributed energy storage can provide.
Renewables are projected to be the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years, according to this report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Falling costs and rapid adoption in Asia and other emerging economies are driving the trend, but the IEA calls for governments to reduce policy uncertainties that could slow further deployment of renewables.
This report shows an increasingly competitive utility-scale PV sector, with installed prices having declined significantly since 2007-2009, relatively modest O&M costs, solid performance with improving capacity factors, and record-low levelized PPA prices of under $50/MWh on average, making solar cheaper than existing generation in some regions.
Location, location, location: The variable value of renewable energy and demand-side efficiency resources
This study demonstrates how location influences the carbon emissions benefits of renewable energy in different regions, and at different times of the day. The study incorporates the emissions intensity of the wholesale market as well as the resource potential in each state, and finds that solar subsidies are higher than the carbon benefits in the states examined, but wind subsidies are less than the carbon benefits in many regions. The study finds that energy efficiency is still the cheapest form of carbon reduction available in the electricity sector.
DOE’s annual report provides an overview of developments and trends in the U.S. wind power market. It provides an overview of key trends in various aspects, including installation and capacity, industry, costs, performance, and prices. The report concludes with sections on policy and market drivers, and the projected outlook of wind energy in future years.