Energy update

News on renewable energy, fossil fuels and energy projections

100 pct renewables: it may be closer than we think
The stunning set of data, cost profiles and market analysis produced in the first few weeks of calendar 2013 have confirmed what many had long suspected – that the global energy markets are changing faster than anyone had thought possible.
8 February 2013

Big solar soon to be cheaper than coal and gas
Bloomberg reports that First Solar has signed a power purchase agreement to deliver energy from a 50MW solar PV plant in New Mexico to the local utility for $59/MWh. That’s half the cost of new coal plants. It’s likely assisted by investment tax credits, but the clear sign is that it is getting close. It’s important to remember that the US, as well as China and India, and Australia for that matter, accept that solar will be cheaper than new coal or gas by the end of the decade.
4 February 2013
The Great Transition, Part I: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy
The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
October 25, 2012

The inevitability of solar PV in Australia
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of presenting to hundreds of solar industry delegates at the EcoGeneration Master Classes held around Australia. Inevitably, the most interesting part for me was the conversations with so many who are at the ‘coal face’; working day in, day out to sell the virtues of solar photovoltaic (PV) against rising coal-fired energy prices.
8 August 2012

Bolt from the blue: How Australia got gold in rooftop solar
Thanks to its excellent solar resource, rising electricity costs and the falling cost of solar PV, it is now emerging as the leading market for rooftop solar as well.
6 August 2012

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Solar Has The Most Potential Of Any Renewable Energy Source
The technical potential of photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power (CSP) in the United States is as much as 200,000 Gigawatts, enough to generate about 400,000 TWh of energy annually.
July 30, 2012

Record Efficiency for Next-Generation Solar Cells
Research breakthrough in the development of colloidal quantum dot films leads to the most efficient CQD solar cell ever.
July 29, 2012

Solely solar: Victoria could get all its electricity from sun
Victoria could capture enough energy from the sun to meet its electricity needs twice over and trails other parts of the world in harnessing wind power, says Climate Commission.
23 July 2012

How we can pursue 100% renewables
Mark Diesendorf argues that it is high time we got smart about power: how we generate it and how we deliver it.
26 June 2012

How concentrated solar technologies will travel down the cost curve
The biggest challenge for concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies is getting down the cost curve. But as with wind energy and solar PV that went before it, it’s a classic chicken and egg situation.
6 June 2012

Solar cheaper than fossil fuels?
Rooftop solar PV to be energy game-changer in Australia
The cost of generating clean energy like solar power is coming increasingly closer to the cost of generating energy from traditional, non-renewable sources.
29 May 2012

Taking Action On Climate And Clean Energy In 2012: A Menu Of Effective And Feasible Solutions
Last year threw into stark relief America’s interlinked economic, energy security, and climate crises.
26 April 2012

Sydney Uni hails major solar PV breakthrough 
The University of Sydney is hailing a breakthrough in solar photovoltaic technology that could lead to a significant boost in the efficiency of solar cells, and sharply lower costs for rooftop solar panels.
18 April 2012

Solar’s new business model
The sun is shining on homeowners in less affluent neighbourhoods who are discovering they can afford solar energy after all – by leasing rather than buying the panels on their roofs.
12 April 2012

Subsidy-free Big Solar, coming sooner than you think
The developer of Australia’s first utility-scale solar PV plant says such projects should be able to be constructed in Western Australia within two to three years, without the need for additional subsidies.
12 April 2012

Why utilities are terrified of solar
A pair of graphs demonstrates most vividly the impact solar is having on electricity prices in Germany and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to reign in its growth: Solar is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators, it is eating their entire cake.
March 26, 2012

Solar panel made with ion cannon is cheap enough to challenge fossil fuels
Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony.
March 13, 2012

In 2011, US solar panels cost half as much and produced twice as much energy as in 2010
Newly installed solar panels produced 109% more electricity nationwide last year than in 2010, reaching a record 1,855 megawatts, as the price of these panels plummeted by more than 50%, according to a report today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an industry group, and GTM Research
14 March 2012

A peak at Australia's energy potential
A recent contribution to the debate over electricity futures for Australia comes from the Grattan Institute report ‘No quick fix for Australia’s future energy challenge’.
8 March 2012

Now US says solar PV to be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020
The sharp slump in solar PV prices has caused a dramatic re-evaluation of the technology cost and potential for solar by the world’s largest energy consumers – the US, China, and India – over the last three months.
5 March 2012

Peel-off solar panels could make solar competitive with coal
Ultra-thin solar cells that can be “peeled off” from larger pieces of silicon like delicious fruit roll-ups could be the key to making solar competitive with coal, say researchers at MIT. Once solar costs about half what it does now, say the scientists, rooftop panels will be generating electricity at about 6 cents per kw/h, which is comparable with coal-fired electricity in pretty much the entire country.
28 February 2012

The end of baseload? It may come sooner than you think
One of the principal architects of Germany’s push into renewable energy technologies, Hans-Josef Fell, believes that the country could achieve 100 per cent renewables in its electricity sector by 2030 – and may do  it quicker. The rest of the world could follow soon after.
20 February 2012

Solar PV to reach parity in half of the world’s countries by 2015
Zhengrong Shi has delivered the most bullish forecast to date for the China solar PV market, predicting that 4 gigawatts – or even more – of solar PV could be deployed in the country in 2012.
26 January 2012

With new efficiency record, thin film solar expected to compete with coal by 2015 without subsidies
First Solar’s new solar PV efficiency record went largely un-noticed in the local media last week, but it represents a major step forward for the march towards price parity for solar technology.
21 January 2012

Renewable power trumps fossil fuels for first time
Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks.
November 25, 2011

Utility CEO on Solar: In “3 to 5 Years You’ll Be Able to Get Power Cheaper from the Roof of Your House Than From the Grid”
Looking forward,  electric vehicles will be far cheaper to operate than internal combustion engine vehicles. And solar panels on the roof will provide power more cheaply than taking power from the grid.
November 13, 2011

Jigar Shah on Why Renewables Will Win This Decade, Even Beating Natural Gas
Shah, a solar-industry rock star who founded the pioneering solar company SunEdison, candidly shares his views on why doubters of today’s renewable energy technologies are so wrong.
24 October 2011

Industry: Solar electricity to undercut coal in parts of Europe by 2013
Falling prices of photovoltaics means full cost parity with conventional power sources should be achieved by 2020, says industry body
05 September 2011  

Solar PV at grid parity! Now what?
This should be a time of great celebration for the solar PV industry. Australia has defied all expectations and will become one of the first countries in the world to reach grid parity – where the cost of producing energy from rooftop panels over the course of their 25-year lifetime equates to the cost of retail electricity.
6 September 2011

China’s decade-long boom in coal-driven heavy industry is about to end as the leadership shifts priorities towards energy conservation, say officials and policy advisers.
The advisers predict China’s coal consumption will peak at only a fraction above current levels after the State Council, or cabinet, last week set an ambitious new total energy use target for the five-year plan ending 2015.
6 February 2013

Mine-Field: The Dark Side of Australia's Resources Rush
Whether it be coal-seam gas, LNG or coal mega-mines, a resources rush is happening in just about every productive corner of our country. Yet at the same time oversight and regulation have been hollowed out.

10 Reasons Clean Coal Is Offensive
According to the Washington Examiner yesterday, President Obama's campaign team is going "on the offensive to promote [the President's] support for clean coal".
17 July 2012

Carbon capture ‘too risky' 
A proposed method of cutting harmful carbon emissions in the atmosphere by storing them underground risks causing earthquakes and is unlikely to succeed, a US study said.
June 19, 2012

3-part series on clean coal in Australia 16-17 June 2012 by Lenore Taylor:
The burning questions that won't go away
Carbon millions squandered 
Coal hard light of day for dud scheme

The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom
It’s not only toxic – it’s driven by a right-wing billionaire who profits more from flipping land than drilling for gas.
1 March 2012

Switching from coal to natural gas would do little for global climate, study indicates
Although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a new study concludes that a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change.
8 September 2011

Global fossil fuel subsidies in 5 unforgettable graphs
As the five biggest oil companies made a record-high $137 billion in profits, these five unforgettable charts on global fossil fuel subsidies, courtesy of The Guardian, need no explanation.

15 February 2012 

An analysis of the economic impacts of the China First mine
While the profits flowing to the owners of the Waratah Coal, which is rather accurately known as the 'China First Project', will be substantial, the net economic benefits to Australia will, at best, be small. 
16 December 2011

Natural gas: Should fracking stop?
Extracting gas from shale increases the availability of this resource, but the health and environmental risks may be too high.
15 September 2011

Switching From Coal to Gas Increases Warming for Decades, Has Minimal Benefit Even in 2100
A stunning new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) concludes: "In summary, our results show that the substitution of gas for coal as an energy source results in increased rather than decreased global warming for many decades…"
9 September 2011 

Hidden costs of the CSG rush
Coal seam gas mining (CSG) is developing rapidly in New South Wales and Queensland and is commencing in other states. The legal and administrative protections are inadequate to ensure that public health is not harmed and that environmental damage does not leave a legacy for generations
29 July 2011


It’s official: Australia needs no new coal or gas baseload
Since pretty much the start of the National Electricity Market more than a decade ago, the Australian power industry has regarded the annual Electricity Statement of Opportunities as their bible to help pinpoint where a new coal or gas-fired generator might be needed to meet rising demand.
9 August 2012
AEMO slashes energy demand forecasts by nearly 10 per cent
The energy market game-changer, falling demand: Developers and network operators can tear up their business plans. And so can some renewable hopefuls too - the era of solar PV and price-conscious consumers is here.
Why residential electricity demand is not growing
29 June 2012

Over-reliance on gas risks runaway emissions, says IEA economist
11 June 2012

Emissions set to surge 50 pct by 2050 unless we act now, says OECD in pessimistic assessment
Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.
15 March 2012

World Energy Outlook 2011 (PDF)

IEA’s “Golden Age of Gas Scenario” Leads to More Than 6°F Warming and Out-of-Control Climate Change
The International Energy Agency has just issued a special report titled, “Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?”  The answer to that question is “yes” only if you are a natural gas producer who doesn’t care much about humanity.
7 June 2011