Thierry Lepercq, head of research, technology and innovation at the French energy company Engie SA, said in an interview at Bloomberg that he sees a potential for the cost of solar electricity to fall below $10-megawatt hour (1¢/kWh) in the sunniest climates by 2025. Lepercq believes “solar, battery storage, electrical and hydrogen vehicles, and connected devices are in a ‘J’ curve (of upward growth potential).” One consequence of this new energy economy is that, “the price (of oil) could drop to $10 if markets anticipate a significant fall in demand.”
“The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here.”
The key argument being pushed regarding renewables by Lepercq is price – nothing to do with environmental concerns at all. From a business perspective, Engie is hoping to grow into the microgrid market in the coming years – as can be noted by the combination of technologies and studies from the article:
In France, Engie recently conducted a “very deep modeling” of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of 5 million inhabitants, showing it could run entirely on renewables by 2030 for as much as 20 percent less cost than the current energy system, Lepercq said. Solar, wind, biogas, large-scale battery storage and hydrogen would be key elements.
As we’ve seen in the past year, the price of utility scale solar electricity in sunny climates has plummeted. This has led to significant thought about what the results of “quasi-infinite and free energy” could lead toward. Israel has solved water problems in a desert with the largest solar desalination plant on the planet. China has suggested a $50 trillion global HVDC electricity grid to take advantage of global renewable energy resources. Not to mention that a massive build out of solar power would add tens of millions of jobs globally.
In order to cover all basis, there are even efforts, like the Land Art Generator Initiative (pictured above), that hope to prove to us that ‘renewable Energy can be beautiful.”
Those forward-looking ideas are of course countered by the hard economics hitting business and people today. Other forms of energy are requesting economic support (coal & nuclear) while we transition away from them toward cheaper sources. In Germany, where wholesale pricing of energy sometimes go negative (due to wind – pictured above – or solar), the nuclear industry has won compensation for its shut down. While the nuclear shutdown wasn’t directly due to the low price of renewables – the general population had a gut feeling that they can support this shutdown due to the ongoing energy revolution. The above-noted coal industry in the United States got plenty of attention in the recent Presidential election for its less than 200,000 jobs that are at risk.
There will be real world long-term consequences – $10/barrel oil might be one – for these coming low energy prices. What a surprise of course – most of the naysaying has been that renewables were too expensive, soon we’ll hear about how they’re too cheap.