CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS:Nov 2 2019

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Solar electricity can retail for $0.027-0.036/KWh as renewables close in on global grid parity

Energy-efficient homes improve quality of life

Where to install renewable energy in US to achieve greatest benefits

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Solar electricity can retail for $0.027-0.036/KWh as renewables close in on global grid parity

The latest figures released by BloombergNEF show new solar and onshore wind power plants have reached parity with average wholesale prices in California, China and parts of Europe. The technologies are winning the race to be the cheapest sources of new generation for two-thirds of the world’s population.

The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for solar and wind power continues to decline and has already reached parity with wholesale power prices in California, China and parts of Europe, according to the latest report from business intelligence company BloombergNEF (BNEF).

The report illustrates ‘grid parity’ has already been reached in some of the world’s biggest markets as others strive towards the same goal.

According to BNEF’s global benchmark, the cost of electricity produced by solar and onshore wind projects stands at $51 and $47/MWh, respectively – down 11% for solar and 6% for onshore wind from six months ago. Cheaper equipment costs are the main driver behind the latest price falls. The offshore wind LCOE benchmark sits at $78/MWh, down 32% from last year.

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Energy-efficient homes improve quality of life

Building a well-insulated, airtight home with great ventilation and lots of natural light can cut way back on the energy needed for heating and cooling. But it’s not only good for the climate.

“I mean, all of those aspects truly do lead to, I think, a better life for the occupants of those buildings,” says Jeffrey Domanski of the Erase40 project.

The organization offers a training program for architects and builders. They learn new ways to get potential clients to consider building or buying an ultra-efficient house.

Domanski says even people who do not have climate change on their minds may appreciate the quality of life benefits these houses provide.

“People often in many buildings will not even go into a room during the wintertime because it’s too cold or they don’t want to heat it or they can’t heat it because it’s too drafty,” he says.

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Where to install renewable energy in US to achieve greatest benefits

Models offer guidance for state and national policymakers designing climate action plans

A new Harvard study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. When adjusting for energy produced, the benefits ranged from $28 per MWh of energy produced from wind in California, to $113 per MWh of wind in the Upper Midwest and for utility-scale solar in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The study in Environmental Research Letters by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) provides a guide for policymakers, businesses, and utilities on where to install renewable energy in the U.S. to maximize their health and climate benefits.   

The researchers developed a model of the 10-regions of the U.S. electrical grid. Using the social cost of carbon–which assigns a dollar value to the negative consequences of climate change–they calculated the benefits of carbon dioxide reduction for each region and energy type. Health benefits come from air quality improvements that reduce premature deaths and climate benefits come from reduced impacts of droughts, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, displacement of refugees, disruptions to farming, and climate-related diseases.   

“Our results provide a strong argument for installing more renewable energy to reduce the health impacts of climate change, and the health burden of air pollution. By tackling the root causes of climate change, we can address our nation’s most pressing health problems at the same time,” said Jonathan Buonocore, the lead author and a research associate at Harvard C-CHANGE. “This tool can help state and national policymakers design better climate plans by understanding where to build wind and solar, while also helping private groups, like utilities, renewable energy developers, and even investors, decide where to deploy their resources to maximize the gains from renewable energy.”   

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