EIA projects renewable growth for 2016 - 9.5%

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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,079
SW Virginia
I wish it were more but the projections, if accurate, still seem impressive. I wonder if these estimates take into account recent initiatives by the administration to tax oil, among others.

EIA Report: Renewables to Increase by 9.5% in 2016

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) recently estimated that renewables used in the U.S. electric power sector will increase by 9.5% in 2016. EIA also forecast that hydropower generation in the electric power sector will increase by 4.8% in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 129 gigawatt-hours per day in 2017, an increase of 45% from 2016. Utility-scale solar power could average 1.1% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2017, the agency estimated. EIA also expects utility-scale solar capacity will have increased by 126% (13 GW) between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with 4.9 GW of new capacity being built in California. Other states leading in utility-scale solar capacity additions include North Carolina and Nevada, which, combined with California, account for about two-thirds of the projected utility-scale capacity additions for 2015 and 2016. Wind capacity, which starts from a significantly larger installed capacity base than solar, grew by 13% in 2015, and forecast to increase by 14% in 2016 and by 3% in 2017. See the EIA report.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,406
SE PA
The EIA is the wrong place to get solar and wind forecasts from, they have hugely underestimated the growth rate of both for the last two decades. This is actually because they are govt funded. RE is incentivized by tax breaks, which are always set to expire in the near future, and almost always renewed at the last minute. As a govt outfit, they dare not speculate about these renewals, and base their projections ONLY on current laws on the books, lest they anger one party and get killed. So their forecasts usually show 1-2 years of modest growth (conservative estimate) with new installs then falling off a cliff when the tax break expires. Useless. :rolleyes:

Both solar and wind have been managing an average 20-40% annual growth rate for the last several years, are still getting cheaper, and projections for the next few years are in the same range:
http://ieefa.org/fresh-data-from-around-the-world-has-solar-growth-continuing/

The oil co BP is predicting a 6.6% global growth rate for RE to 2035 in their base case, and 9% in their 'lower carbon' case:
http://www.bp.com/en/global/corpora...ergy-outlook-2035/energy-outlook-to-2035.html
http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/energy-outlook-2035/carbon-emissions.html
These BP projected growth rates correspond to doubling every 12 or 7 years for the next 20 years, with RE increasing 4-8X during that period, being only about as big as nuclear in 2035, and still safely smaller than oil gas and coal each individually. Of course, the oil cos need to convince their investors that they will still be in business in 20 years. :p

In fact, solar and wind have been doubling every 2-3 years for the last decade. If we assume (conservatively?) they doubled every 4 years going forward (~18% annual growth), by 2035 they would have expanded 32-fold, and be the dominant source of global energy.

Let's check back in with the oil cos in 2020 when all the major automakers are selling long-range EVs that are cheaper and more fun to drive than ICE cars, the oil frackers are all bankrupt, and RE is 2-4X bigger than today and 20-40% cheaper.
 
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iamlucky13

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2015
652
Western Washington
Rapid doubling is not a trend that should be counted on for long. When we had about 5 GW of nominal wind capacity installed in the US, it was relatively easy to double in 4 years. In fact, in the two years from the end of 2007 to the end of 2009 a doubling occurred, with 2008 seeing nearly 10 GW installed.

However, now that we're up around 70 GW of installed capacity, it's a lot harder to double that fast. ~10% would still be extremely strong growth over the next few years.

Their 4.8% of increased hydro production must be based on snowpack estimates versus last year, as I'm not aware of hardly any new capacity coming on line in the US, and what is being developed is almost entirely small (below 100 MW) projects.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,406
SE PA
I guess I have a different take on exponential growth.

I think it can be what happens during disruptive events when new technology is better and cheaper than what came before. If there is more money to be made in a growing market, businesses will grow exponentially to meet that demand. In general it seems that higher than 40% per year growth is logistically hard to manage, so that seems to be the ceiling when a real arbitrage (ie business opportunity) comes along.

So I guess I see RE as a bit of an arbitrage...and capable of exponential growth displacing its competition until it hits its natural limit...total energy demand. Of course, we can debate if 20% grid energy penetration is a natural limit, but that is still 4 doublings away for solar, and BP doesn't think we get there until 2040 or something. I think we get there easily in 10-15 years, not 25 or 30 or longer.

Wind of course is a bit more complex, and you could argue the best sites have already been captured, so it might be starting to hit some limits, and grow into poorer resource areas (less wind, further to market) only as costs slowly fall. Perhaps that is sub-exponential or even linear growth.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,079
SW Virginia
Rapid doubling is not a trend that should be counted on for long. When we had about 5 GW of nominal wind capacity installed in the US, it was relatively easy to double in 4 years. In fact, in the two years from the end of 2007 to the end of 2009 a doubling occurred, with 2008 seeing nearly 10 GW installed.

However, now that we're up around 70 GW of installed capacity, it's a lot harder to double that fast. ~10% would still be extremely strong growth over the next few years.

Their 4.8% of increased hydro production must be based on snowpack estimates versus last year, as I'm not aware of hardly any new capacity coming on line in the US, and what is being developed is almost entirely small (below 100 MW) projects.
 
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