A comment on “How Much Did the World Invest in Clean Energy Last Year?” (Thompson, 2016)
Last year marked the first year that renewable investments outpaced coal and gas fuel investments. As recent market pressures increase the price of gasoline, investors may be speculating on the current and future efficacy of renewable investments.
The stock market in the short term can be difficult to predict. But in the long term, due to the recent United Nations Climate Agreement signed in Paris, the likelihood of a carbon tax (or similar measures by governments to reduce emissions) is increasing. Thus fossil fuel stocks, whose share prices are partly based on their geologic reserves, are overvalued.
Renewable investments have positive future markets. Fossil fuels are commodities that need to undergo the expensive methods of extraction, refining, transportation, and ultimately combustion. These processes have been around for decades, if not centuries, and do not have nearly as much room for efficiency improvements as the newer renewable technologies do. The costs of electronics and other semi-conductor based technologies have dropped since the turn of the century, and will continue to do so.
Oxford PV and Silevo, a supplier for Solar City, are striving for commercialized panels with efficiencies in the 25-30% range, which have already been achieved in lab conditions.1 Wind technology is similarly on the rise, with huge cost reductions from 55 cents per kWh in 1980 to an average 2.35 cents per kWh today in places like Texas2. The Department of Energy recently worked with Knight and Carver Wind Group to increase turbine efficiency by 12%, developing turbines with innovative curved blades that are designed to take advantage of a wider range of wind speeds.3
The Leviathan Wind Energizer also can contribute to a more resilient and cost effective integration of renewables into the grid by allowing turbines to operate more consistently at lower wind speeds and with lower maintenance, in addition to providing much more power at each wind speed. This will also benefit developing countries investing in wind power, where access to power and expertise is not reliable, so every bit of added resilience may be appreciated more. With renewable investments in developing nations outpacing those in developed countries for the first time in 20154, the integration of renewable generation should be made as reliable as possible to maximize cost-effectiveness. Thus the Leviathan Wind Energizer can be a cheaper method of adding resiliency for any wind turbine than more expensive batteries.
1 Puttré, Michael. “Future Solar Cost Reductions Hinge on Raising Solar Cell Efficiencies.” Solar Industry Magazine7.10 (2014): 1-5. Web. 25 April 2016
2 Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Next-Generation Wind Technology.” Energy.gov. Department of Energy, 2016. Web. 25 April 2016.
4 Thompson, Ben. “How Much Did the World Invest in Clean Energy Last Year?” The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Mar. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
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