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Cheap Solar Power Pushes Renewables Growth Worldwide

The share of total global electricity production generated by renewable energy is climbing, mainly because solar photovoltaic systems are becoming less expensive, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Wind, solar and other renewables, excluding hydropower, were 8.5 percent of total global electric power generation last year, up from 7.8 percent in 2012, the report says.

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

That comes just after Bloomberg and Pew Charitable Trusts issued a report last week saying investments in renewables worldwide has been declining since their peak in 2011, with the U.S. lagging behind China in overall investments in wind, solar and other renewables.

The reports come about a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part to its fifth assessment report, stating with certainty that humans are going to have to adapt to a world enduring climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from people burning fossil fuels. Renewables help reduce the climate-changing, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Monday’s report, “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014,” released during Bloomberg’s “Future of Energy Summit”  this week in New York City, says that renewables, not including hydropower, accounted for 43.6 percent of total global new electric generating capacity last year, preventing an estimated 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

The report shows that there was a 14 percent drop in global investments in renewables partly for the same reason renewables’ market share is growing — the cost of solar panels is falling.

Solar power generating capacity worldwide increased 26 percent in 2013 over the previous year, from 31 gigawatts in 2012 to 39 gigawatts in 2013 despite total investment in solar falling 23 percent from $135.6 billion to about $104 billion, according to the report.

Other reasons for the drop in investment include uncertainty in renewables policy in many countries and a boost in investment in climate-changing fossil fuels.

The shale oil and gas boom hit renewables investments hard in the U.S., the report says. 

Though the U.S. was the largest investor among developed economies in renewables last year at $33.9 billion, it was down 10 percent from 2012 because low natural gas prices helped bring about the shale gas boom, depressing clean energy development, according to the report. 

The shale gas boom also contributes to overall uncertanty about the United States' policy commitment to renewables, the report says. 

Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The global renewables picture is more positive, however. 

“We’re not seeing anything in any way, anything we can characterize as a collapse in renewable energy investments,” Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said during a news conference Monday.

He said unsubsidized renewable electric power plants are being built across the globe as they become more able to compete with fossil fuel power generation.

Clean energy stocks had seen a 78 percent decline over four and a half years, bottoming out in July 2012 followed by a 54 percent gain in 2013 as solar and wind manufacturers regained profitability.

“Renewable energy is actually looking like it’s doing its part,” Liebreich said.

Report lead author Angus McCrone, chief editor at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the report is not “dressing up” the bad news of declines in renewables investments worldwide.

“What we’re saying now is that there’s a bit of blue sky on the horizon even though the overall investment numbers are down,” McCrone said, adding that trends in the cost-competitiveness of renewables, particularly wind and solar, are striking.

There are more and more places across the globe where renewable energy is being installed without any subsidy, or the renewables are being installed because they’re cheaper than the available fossil fuel technology, he said.

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Comments

By Mark Goldes (Sebastopol/CA/95472)
on April 8th, 2014

“Climate Change leaves us with, basically, two ways out. One is extraordinary technology: either a silver bullet to produce cheap, renewable energy, or a reliable geo-engineering technique to adjust the global …weather system directly. Either might happen—the first likely will, maybe too late to prevent permanent crisis; but waiting on clean energy is a very big risk, and geo-engineering brings huge risks of its own …ending up making the system even more unstable.” Jedediah Purdy Climate Change Needs the Politics of the Impossible U.S. News April 6, 2014

A cheap green silver bullet, the missing, singularly realistic, path to sharply slowing climate change is almost at hand.

An abundant untapped source of solar energy, atmospheric heat, can power engines that need no fuel 24/7. A patent pending piston engine is being prototyped that will run without fuel. It can produce power and scale to large sizes.

Turbines that need no fuel will follow and provide hybrid cars with unlimited range and the ability to sell electricity to utilities when suitably parked. Variations are expected to replace coal and nuclear plants as well as power aircraft.

A few prototypes to be validated by independent labs are in the works. Desktop piston engines that power a Tablet computer and recharge cell phones will follow. Units to power homes and every variety of building will not be far behind. See www.aesopinstitute.org

The science that enables engines to run without fuel circumvents The Second Law of Thermodynamics. Not many scientists or engineers accept that as possible.  Second Law Surprises, under MORE on that website, will prove of interest to individuals willing to examine facts and evidence that are not widely known.

These engines will prove to be the needed silver bullet! They will throw open the door to other neglected, hard to believe, new energy science.

In spite of ranting naysayers, remarkable new inventions will soon demonstrate that minds open to new insights are pioneering practical solutions.

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.” ― H.G. Wells

Reply to this comment

By man (85022)
on July 10th, 2014

Several well respected scientists have reviewed Mr Goldes ideas and found them groundless. Despite 40 yes of research and countless solicitations, he has yet to file one patent. Enough said!

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