The new economics of sustainable energy are pulling the future faster into the present
The long-time barrier against bringing sustainable energy into the mainstream is coming down fast. So says longtime environmental analyst, Lester Brown, in The Christian Science Monitor.
Often it takes irony to really drive home a point. Take, for example, Texas which is the number one oil producer in the nation. Well, Texas is now also the number one wind-power state. And it plans to capitalize on this advancement by exporting the electricity to other states. Many other “wind rich” states like Kansas plan on following in Texas’ footsteps.
There are international signs that reaffirm what is happening in America on the renewables front. Denmark now gets more than 60 percent of its electricity from the wind. China receives more electricity from its wind farms than from its nuclear power plants.
All of these developments fly in the face of the current American booms in fracking for oil and gas. Gasoline prices are relatively low. SUVs are happily humming across the United States, burning a gallon of gas every 15 miles.
What is happening in the underbelly of the energy market, however, is undeniable. One would think that it’s the practical reasons why green energy is rapidly developing: it’s cleaner. Ironically, it is not the fact that sustainable energy is less harmful to the environment. Instead, it’s economics.
Billionaire investors like Warren Buffett and Phillip Anschutz are beginning to pour money into sustainable energy initiatives, according to the Monitor.
“The billionaires are investing in renewable energy: Warren Buffett invested $15 billion…There’s a whole list of billionaires just piling money into this. What that does for investment is it says: ‘This is where the smart money is going. You don’t get to be a billionaire by being stupid,’” said Brown to the Monitor.
Two more signs that the economics of sustainable energy are finally catching up with that of conventional energy: homebuilding in America and farmer economics.
“Almost all the big homebuilders in this country either offer or automatically put solar panels on new rooftops,” stated Brown in the Monitor.
“A farmer in Iowa can plant an acre of corn that will produce about $1000 worth of ethanol. But if he puts a wind turbine on that acre he can generate $300,000 of electricity per year,” he added.
On the technological side, another barrier is being tackled by the likes of Elon Musk. The home and commercial storage batteries being produced in his “gigafactories” are solving the problem of storing energy produced by solar panels for later use.
Evidently, it’s now just a matter of time before we get our energy from ten feet above us instead of halfway around the world.
HyNet North West and InterGen to build Zero Carbon plant
Expected to begin in the mid-2020s, the partnership could reduce the CO2 emissions from the Runcorn power station by over 150,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road every year.
Situated across one of the UK’s largest industrial areas which supports the highest number of manufacturing jobs of any UK region, HyNet North West will bring clean growth to safeguard jobs, and create thousands of new employment opportunities.
Following a commitment of £72 million in funding, HyNet North West will transform the North West into the world’s first low carbon industrial cluster, playing a critical role in the UK’s transition to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the global fight against climate change.
HyNet North West will begin decarbonising the North West and North Wales region from 2025, replacing fossil fuels currently used for electricity generation, industry, heating homes and transportation with clean hydrogen. The project will also capture and lock up carbon which is currently emitted into the atmosphere.
It anticipates that by 2028, Rocksavage will have enough hydrogen produced by HyNet to move towards a 100% net zero power generation power station as the Gas Turbine technology becomes available.
InterGen’s Rocksavage Plant Manager Dan Fosberg said Rocksavage has been safely generating energy to power the north west for nearly 25 years, but in order to meet the UK’s net zero targets, traditional generation needs to adapt.
"HyNet North West will allow us to pivot our operations as we transition to a low-carbon world. The proximity of the Rocksavage Power Plant to the HyNet North West hydrogen network provides us with an exciting and unique opportunity," he said.
As soon as the first stage of the hydrogen network is available at Runcorn, InterGen intends to modify the existing generating plant to consume a blend of hydrogen with natural gas and start to reduce our emissions.
The HyNet North West project milestones mean that Rocksavage could be the first plant in the UK to blend Hydrogen with natural gas, a step forward for the industry in the target for net-zero. Once the gas turbine technology becomes available, it will explore options with HyNet North West to create a zero emissions power station using 100% hydrogen.
The project will play a big part in supporting Liverpool City Region in its commitment to reach zero carbon by 2040 and accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Putting the Liverpool City Region at the heart of the Green Industrial Revolution is one of my top priorities. With our existing strengths in green energy, we have the potential to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.
“I am committed to doubling the number of green jobs in our region and exciting projects like HyNet will be a key part of that. We’re going to lead the way, not only in doing our bit to tackle climate change, but in pioneering new and innovative technology that in turn attracts more jobs and investment to our region.”
David Parkin, HyNet North West Project Director, said HyNet North West will play a big part in tackling climate change regionally. "It will ensure the region remains an attractive location for investment and for companies to grow through the establishment of a clean economy, protection of skilled jobs and creation of thousands of new long-term employment opportunities.
“Our partnership with InterGen at Rocksavage shows just how great an impact HyNet will have on the region – decarbonising homes, workplaces, travel and industry.”
HyNet North West is a low carbon energy project at the forefront of the UK’s journey to a Net Zero future, being developed by a consortium comprising Progressive Energy, Cadent, Essar, Inovyn, Eni, University of Chester, CF Fertilisers and Hanson.