In today’s EGEB:

  • An analyst thinks solar will be cheaper than natural gas almost everywhere in four years.
  • A look at the astroturfing efforts of utilities.
  • The German onshore wind industry is facing a “collapse.”

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Solar prices have been dropping, and one analyst thinks those prices will beat natural gas convincingly, soon.

“By 2023, we think solar’s going to be cheaper than gas almost everywhere around the world,” solar analyst Tom Heggarty of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said at GTM Solar Summit, according to GreenTech Media.

New gas plants still remain competitive with utility solar at this point, and gas is often a first choice to fill in for coal on many occasions. But Heggarty doesn’t see this being the case sometime in the early part of the next decade.

Heggarty spoke specifically about Australia’s solar boom at the summit — the country is now the world’s fifth-largest solar market. “PV is now really in the mainstream in Australia,” he said. He also discussed potential in the European and Saudi Arabian solar markets.

Energy Astroturfing

The Nation has a look at how energy utilities are using astroturfing techniques to prop up support for certain projects. Astroturfing is on the rise nationally, and energy companies aren’t an exception.

The first anecdote laid forth in the piece is gripping:

In October 2017, a crowd of 85-odd people filed into a meeting of the New Orleans City Council wearing fluorescent orange shirts with black lettering: “Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power.” They claimed to be supporters of the local power company, Entergy New Orleans, in its quest to build a new gas plant in the city’s predominantly black and Vietnamese east.

The group was headed up by two men who weren’t locals. Rather, “they had been sent by a Beverly Hills company called Crowds on Demand and they lured the orange-clad posse with under-the-table cash and promises of a pizza party at the nearby Dave & Buster’s.”

Some of the recruits were paid extra to deliver speeches, while the rest were instructed to “clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power.”

There’s much more in the article, which shows how deep-pocketed energy groups are feeling the pressure of renewables, and are responding with evolving, despicable techniques. It’s worth a read.

Do The Collapse

Germany hopes to hit 65% renewable energy by 2030, and the country inaugurated its largest offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea last month.

But on land, things are looking a little different this year, and not in a good way. WindEurope noted last week that Germany only installed 134 megawatts of new onshore wind farms in the first quarter of 2019. That’s the lowest onshore wind quarter for the country since 2000.

The current pace shows Germany is only likely to install 1-2 gigawatts of onshore wind in 2019, way down from its 4.3 GW average of the past five years, and well below what the country needs to hit its renewable targets. The Baltic Sea wind farm notwithstanding, offshore wind won’t be enough. WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said:

“Onshore wind energy in Germany is in deep trouble. The development of new wind farms has almost ground to a halt. The main problem is permitting – it’s got much slower, more complex and there aren’t enough civil servants to process the applications. It seriously undermines Germany’s ability to meet its 2030 renewables target and contribute to the EU target. And it’s affecting Germany’s wind turbine industrial base. Half of Europe’s 300,000 wind energy jobs are in Germany. But 10,000 have gone in Germany in the last five years. And this could get worse: there hasn’t been a single turbine order recorded in Germany in Q1 this year.”

If permitting is the biggest issue restricting development, it should be clear to officials what needs to be done. And fast — waste enough time and a year or two of stunted wind development could slip right by.

Well….


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