[REPORT]: Wind and Solar are Cost Competitors at Peak Energy Usage
According to a new report out from infrastructure group Lazard Ltd., solar and wind power are cost competitors with conventional electricity without subsidies. This includes both nuclear and coal.
“The economics of alternative energy have changed dramatically in the last decade,” George Bilicic, global head of the power energy and infrastructure group at Lazard Ltd. and report author, said. “Utilities still require conventional technologies to meet the energy needs of a developed economy, but they are using alternative technologies to create diversified portfolios of power generation resources.”
Costs for renewable energy generation have fallen nearly $0.20 in the past year and nearly $0.80 in the past 5 years, driven in part by the increasing presence of Chinese-made solar panels.
The most important aspect of the report is it found that at peak energy usage, solar is more flexible and cost effective than conventional energy generation.
“What’s most interesting about renewable and the mature area right now is utility-scale wind on land and utility-scale solar on land,” Bilicic told CBC’s Amanda Lang in an interview. “That is the most financeable and the most cost-effective.”
The report has been published since 2008 and has since its inception, has seen the price of land-based wind power drop 60%. Offshore wind, however, remain expensive. Rooftop solar has also not seen a drop in pricing.
“Relative to utility scale renewable, it’s a high-cost product and folks who are attempting to advance it are attaching significance to distributor-owned generation which is a high-cost product,” Bilicic said.
Still, all forms of energy, both conventional and renewable, face some sort of challenge currently, be it high initial capital costs or lack of policy support.
Bilicic believes natural gas will act as a transitional source between conventional and renewable power.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.