Clean Energy Technologies Competitiveness against Coal and Oil.
Clean Energy Technologies Competitiveness against Coal and Oil
Green gas emissions are one of the major contributors to global warming in the world. The increase in green gas emissions has largely been contributed by the continued use of coal and fossil fuels in the world. The increased use of fossil fuels and rise in global warming has prompted environmentalists and economists to look for safe sources of energy that ensure sustainable development and safety of the environment. The rise in clean energy technologies is one of the factors that have been adopted to counter the effects of global warming and environmental degradation across the world. Clean energy technologies have been competing significantly with coal and fossil fuels in the recent past. Renewable energy is one of the clean energy technologies that are widely used in the world in the recent (“Renewable Energy” 1).
Transformations in the Energy Sector across the Globe
There have been major changes in the energy sector over the past few decades. Renewable sources of energy have been part of the transformations witnessed in the energy sector (Timmons 1). Many policies have been implemented to reduce the use of fossil fuels and encourage the use of renewable sources of energy. Climate change and exhaustible nature of non-renewable sources of energy are some of the factors that have encouraged adoption of renewable sources of energy (Timmons et al. 3). More than 145 countries globally have adopted policies that encourage use and establishment of renewable clean energy technologies (“Renewable Energy” 3).
In the U.S., many states have enacted the Renewable Portfolio Standard Policies (“Renewable Energy” 2). In Japan, the “Sunshine” policy has been adopted while in Germany has adopted the feed-in tariffs policy. All of those policies encourage the use of renewable sources of energy across the globe (“Renewable Energy” 2). The adoption of clean energy technologies has influenced other countries across the globe to adopt the same policies in a bid to mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on climate change. For instance, adoption of the feed-in policy by Germany influenced other several European countries to adopt the same in an attempt to contain the effects of the fossil fuels and coal on the environment. Countries in Europe that adopted the feed-in tariffs include Denmark, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden (“Renewable Energy” 3).
Moreover, the transformations in the energy sector have taken place in the developing countries across the globe. Despite being an expensive initiative, international grants, loans, and donations have enabled most of the developing countries to embrace production of renewable sources of energy (“Renewable Energy” 4). Foreign investors also started producing and marketing renewable to developing countries laying the ground for takeoff and transition from fuel based on renewable sources of energy.
Present Position of Clean Energy Technologies
The various policies implemented by different countries have led to significant improvements in funding, establishment, and use of clean energy. In the period between 1992 and, 2003 the global investment in clean energy was $25 billion and about 365 MW of power were produced (“Grid Integration” 9). Between 2003 and 2012, the global investment in renewable energy stood at $ 250 billion indicating a significant increase in investment. The amount of wind power generated rose from 40 GW to 320 GW while solar energy rose from 3 GW in 20003 to 140 GW in 2012 (“Grid Integration” 9). The quantity of clean energy added to the global grid between 2003 and 2012 was equal to the volume of fossil and nuclear energy in the same period (“Grid Integration” 9). Evidently, renewable energy was competing significantly with the fossil fuel and coal (“Grid Integration” 1). In 2003-2012, renewable energy accounted for 70% of the amount of energy that was added in Europe (“Grid Integration” 7). In the same period, major milestones were made in several other parts of the globe in use of clean energy technologies.
China is one of the countries with highest capacity power consumption in the world. In the period between 2003 and 2012, the various environmental policies adopted by China had made it a global leader in production, use, and investment in renewable sources of energy (Steeves, and Ouriques 2). In 2013, China had 15 GW of solar PV capacity and 25 GW of wind energy by 2009 (Steeves, and Ouriques 4). The investment in renewable sources of energy did benefit not only the China’s power grid but also the environment.
California is one of the states that have capitalized and invested heavily in renewable sources of energy in the United States of America. In 2015, more than 33% of power in the state was generated from renewable sources (“Grid Integration” 3). Adoption of the Renewable Portfolio Standard Policies is the main factor that has made California an American leader in the use of clean energy technologies. California has made a projection that is aimed at ensuring that 50% of power supply shall come from renewable sources by 2030.
Moreover, Germany is another country that has adopted the significant use of clean energy technology in the globe. In 2014, more than 30% of power in Germany came from renewable sources of energy (“Grid Integration” 7). By 2014, solar and wind energy supplied more than 80% of power when they were at the peak indicating a significant contribution of clean sources of energy (“Grid Integration” 8). The efficiency of the wind energy is affected by fluctuations hence the limited use at some times of the day. For instance, the intensity of solar energy is low when the sun is rising and setting. Germany has made significant investments in clean energy technologies, and it projects to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050 (“Grid Integration” 8).
Other than Germany, Denmark is another country that generates about 40% of its electricity from wind power. Moreover, Denmark projects to produce 50% of electricity from the wind by 2020 and 100% from the various renewable sources by 2050 (“Grid Integration” 8). Moreover, by 2014, over 27% of the power used in Europe was generated from various renewable sources of energy. According to “Grid Integration” (6), most of the countries around the globe rely heavily on the renewable sources of energy with a share ranging between 60-90 percent but the sources are not that much pronounced because they are not the wind and solar energy.
It is important to gauge the cost involved in the production, maintenance, and use of the power generated from these sources to successfully gauge the efficiency of clean energy efficiency. Despite the lack of adequate and reliable data to substantiate the cost efficiency of clean energy technologies, the cost effectiveness of clean power production has stretched significant levels (Amin 5). According to Amin, mass production of wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal have reached levels which are significant enough to compete with the fossil fuel, and coal generated electricity in the world.
When comparing the production cost between fossil fuels produced electricity and renewable energy produced power, there is a significant improvement on the side of the renewable sources. For instance, in the United States of America, solar PV is one of the widely used sources of power. To produce regular electricity through solar PV, it costs an estimated $ 0.08 per kilowatt-hour as compared to $ 0.045 to $ 0.14 per kilowatt-hour for fossil produced power (Amin 6). Undeniably, mass production of solar PV energy can compete effectively with power generate from fossil fuels across the world. Moreover, in Dubai solar PV production it was realized that the cost of production was $ 0.6 per kilowatt per hour as compared to 0.87 kilowatts per hour when using fossil fuels to generate power (Amin 3).
On the other hand, large-scale production of wind energy also indicates strong competitiveness over fossil fuel power generation. The Wind is producing power at a relatively lower cost of $ 0.5-0.9 kilowatts per hour as compared to $ 0.045 to $ 0.14/ kWh when using fossil fuel (“Renewable Power is Cost-Competitive”). New technologies adopted in the production of renewable energy have improved the quantity and quality of power produced while lowering the production cost. According to a study by IREA, the technologies used in the production of hydropower, geothermal and biomass power generation have enabled renewable sources of energy to become more affordable through reduction of costs hence can offer the lowest electricity than other sources of power. The cost of producing hydropower stands at $ 0.08 /kW-hr, $0.10 /kW-hr for Biomass and $ 0.05/kW-hr for geothermal (US Energy Information Administration 4).
The capital required to establish and maintain renewable sources of energy makes the venture expensive. Moreover, the technology required to store, collect, and distribute power generated from renewable sources involves heavy investment thus pushing the leveled energy cost (LEC) higher (US Energy Information Administration 4). However, the environmental destruction and health problems caused by fossil fuels takes the cost incurred power generation far higher than the cost incurred in the production of power using the renewable sources of energy. According to Amin, the CO2 emissions increase the cost of power production through fossil fuels by $0.01/kWh – $ 0.13/kWh due to additional costs on the environment and health (9). Therefore, despite being cheap, fossil fuel is more expensive because of its adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
Evidently, clean energy technologies are offering significant competitiveness to fossil fuels and coal. Global warming is causing adverse climatic changes that are a threat to humanity. Therefore, it is vital to consider the use of clean energy technologies in an attempt to mitigate environmental hazards caused by the use of fossil fuels and coal. Renewable sources of energy have limited effects on the environment despite being expensive to produce and maintain. The cost of dealing with the effects of global warming is more expensive than the cost of establishing renewable sources of energy.
Amin, Adnan. “How Renewable Energy Can Be Cost-Competitive.” UNChronicle, vol. LII, no. 3, 2015, pp. 1- 9.
“Renewable Power Is Cost-Competitive: Renewable Power Generation Costs in Remap 2030.” International Renewable Energy Agency, N.d., http://www.wasaproject.info/docs/IRENA_REmap2030/REmap-FactSheet-7-Cost+Competitive.pdf. Accessed 25 March 2017.
Martinot, Eric. “Grid Integration of Renewables in China: Learning From the Cases of California, Germany, and Demark.” China Variable-Generation Integration Group (GVIG), May 2015, http://www.martinot.info/Martinot_CVIG_2015_DE-DK-CA.pdf. Accessed 25 March 2017.
—. Renewable Energy Futures to 2050: Current Thinking. Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, Tokyo, 2013.
Steeves, Butler, and Ricardo Ouriques. “Energy Security: China and the United States and Divergence in Renewable Energy.” Contexto Internacional, vol. 38, no. 2, 2016, http:// dx.doi.org/10.1590/s0102-8529.2016380200006. Accessed 25 March 2017.
Timmons, David, Harris, Jonathan, and Brian Roach. “The Economics of Renewable Energy.” Global Development and Environment Institute, 2014, http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/education_materials/modules/renewableenergyecon.pdf. Accessed 25 March 2017.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2016.” EIA, Aug. 2016, https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf. Accessed 25 March 2017.
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