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Solar power at 1¢/kWh by 2025 – “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here”

Solar power at 1¢/kWh by 2025 – “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here” thumbnail

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.

27 Comments on "Solar power at 1¢/kWh by 2025 – “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here”"

  1. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 3:15 am

  2. makati1 on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 3:31 am 

    “Solar power at 1¢/kWh by 2025 – “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here””

    Hahahahahahahaha! Whew! I need to stop and get my breath before I reply. A good laugh is always welcome. Read headline. Skipped to the author. Saw the bullshit factor. Stopped reading.

    Insanity is really rampant in the world today. Especially in the techie religion. France has always been a bit weird, but this is proof that it has gone beyond into fantasy.

    “… soon we’ll hear about how they’re too cheap.” I remember another power source that would be “too cheap to meter”. Now it is bankrupting governments/taxpayers trying to clean up the messes and shut them down. LMAO

  3. Cloggie on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 5:01 am 

    It looks like not everybody here is convinced of European exceptionalism.LMAO

    We’re fucked, Fucked, FUCKED!!! ROFL

    Give it up folks, Anglo-Zionism is soo 20th century. Have a good look in the mirror, realize who you are and begin to feel good about yourself.

    There is no other show in town.

  4. Davy on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 5:59 am 

    “It looks like not everybody here is convinced of European exceptionalism. LMAO” Hell no Clog! It makes me just as sick as the Flag waving American kind. Exceptionalism is what is going to destroy Europe as it has destroyed the US. Any region that thinks their way of life is exceptional and nonnegotiable will end badly. Europe is in no way an example of the way forward for most of the world. Europe past is a horrible example of what has destroyed the world. We can lay blame at the feet of the Europeans for a quick extinction if it comes to that. I include America as a bastard Frankenstein child of Europe. I also include the rest of the stupid Anglosphere who preach hypocritical blame without self-reflection. We are the problem Clog not the exceptional. We are the reason man is quickly destroying the planet. This has been the case since modernity began in Europe. It is now dumbass Asia’s turn to end it once and for all. Asia is doing so much more with a large population. How’s that for exceptionalism, LMFAO

  5. Kenz300 on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 7:34 am 

    Wind And Solar Now Cheapest Unsubsidized Electricity Sources In The U.S. – First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) | Seeking Alpha

    World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind – Bloomberg

    Solar cheaper than natural gas and coal.

    Climate Change will be the defining issue of our lives.

  6. onlooker on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 7:58 am 

    I have to agree with Davy, Asia is the final nail in the coffin especially China and India. They put our collective demise into hyperdrive. You have to wonder what planet they thought they were living on when they embarked on their quest to catch and surpas the West, surely this already full planet. But I get it they were not thinking. They were just so eager to be the exceptional continent.

  7. dave thompson on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 8:44 am 

    ‘The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here.” What the hell does “quasi-infinite” mean? Solar kind of sort, of in a way, lasts forever? Like when the sun is not shining? Or the battery storage fails?

  8. rockman on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 8:47 am 

    Mac – What I find frustrating with such articles is the lack of details. Sometimes intentional IMHO to overemphasize the potential. “Solar costs X¢ per kW”. Exactly what the f*ck does that mean? LOL. The cost of the panel purchase? Purchase + installation? P+I+ land? P+I+L+ maintence? P+I+L+M+ storage infrastructure? P+I+L+M+SI+ profit margin? P+I+L+M+SI+PM amortised over the life of the system?

    And do you compare that calculus to the cost of building a new fossil fuel fired plant? Do you compare it to the cost of energy from an existing ff plant which has already had its initial cost recovered? And one last detail many aren’t aware of: increased rates for customers not getting the alt energy. Utility companies are typically guaranteed a set profit margin. So if a number of customers of a ff fired plant switch to an alt source those remaining have their rates increased to create the mandated minimum revenue for the utility. Consider the point in the article about compensating those nuclear plants for reduced utilization. When Texas deregulated electricity many customers were pissed when their rates increased when their neighbor next door and others switched to another supplier.

    These are the details needed to gauge the economic potential of expanding alt energy sources. Writing about “X¢/kW” doesn’t come close. Whether offering such a meaningless number, by intention or ignorance, it does not advance the discussion.

  9. Jerry McManus on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 9:45 am 

    Funny, I personally remember the exact same claims being made 50 years ago.

    This is in addition to the fact that the fundamental principals and materials used in solar panels have been well known for at least 150 years.

    Sort of begs the question:

    If solar energy was as rally as cheap and easy as the techno-utopian cheerleaders would have us believe, then why have we wasted such stupendous amounts of blood and treasure keeping the soccer moms in their SUV’s humming along?

  10. penury on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 9:54 am 

    Call me when re-newables reach 40 per cent of the market and the price is che3aper than fossil fuels.

  11. mx on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 11:02 am 

    Remember, a natural gas electric generator is:
    1) only 50% efficient.
    2) Always needs the expense of a yearly supply of gas.
    3) That price Fluctuates based upon World Events, making Risk Management Risky.

    Of Course, Solar and Wind will beat this option.

    4) Nuclear has two big problems:
    a) Decommission cost is equal to or greater than the cost of initial construction, so Reserves must be built into price to take the system down.
    b) Catastrophic Failure Risk. So, risky only the Federal Government can be the “insurer”. No commercial “free-market” insurance carrier will touch it.

  12. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 12:09 pm 

    I don’t think the super-green dreamers spewing unrealistic numbers and ignoring the real world issues are helping.

    However, things don’t need to have wildly unrealistic projections for things like Solar and wind and PHEV’s and BEV’s to have a big impact on energy production and usage over the next decade. Organic growth spurred by real world cost reductions will make the case more and more compelling.

    In the short turn, subsidies will help provide incentives for buyers as the volumes of EV’s and PHEV’s ramp up.

    The greens don’t need to spew cornucopian dreams — they can just project the real world numbers. Even in a somewhat pessimistic projection, they add up over time.

  13. Jerome Purtzer on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 12:19 pm 

    Have any here heard of PENV-Phoenix Energy of Nevada. They are a group of engineers who are converting coal and nuclear fired plants to industrial induction. They have a coal fired plant coming on line in the next 2 months that uses 8MW input to the induction process while the Turbines output 110MW power. If this works even half as well as anticipated it will make FF electrical production obsolete. The 2nd law of TD says no but…

  14. Davy on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 12:41 pm 

    Outcast, I agree with incremental gains being significant but remember there are plenty of dangers that can stop this process in its tracks. We are in the zone of mystery in my opinion. Status quo is alive and well but it is so fragile that anything could destroy it.

  15. rockman on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 1:04 pm 

    mx – Rember it will take $trillions of infrastructure expenditures for the alts to replace our fossil fuel consumption. IOW converting to alt energy is far from “cheap”. If the economies aren’t sufficient the new alts won’t get built regardless of the negative aspects you’ve pointed out.

    IOW you’re doing the same thing I’ve criticized this article for: you claim the alts are a more economical way to go without offering the details needed to prove that assertion. This site is well populated by folks very capable of doing such analytical analysis. Give them a try.

    BTW posting a report from an “expert” just saying it’s so without those details won’t cut it here. LOL.

  16. Antius on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 6:30 pm 

    Renewable energy will need to cost no more than 1¢/kWh just to compete with fossil fuel power at present prices. The problem is the backup power plant has capital and operational costs even if it is not generating. So the selling price of the renewable electricity must be no greater than the fuel needed to generate the equivalent amount of power, if it is to compete without subsidy.

    Most renewable energy sources are highly seasonal. Something like two-thirds of wave power hitting the UK arrives in autumn. Wind power follows similar patterns. And of course there will be years where a region receives less sunlight or wind power than average. In the UK, it is not uncommon for low pressure to hang over the country for weeks at a time, resulting in becalmed conditions and mirky sky’s. For these reasons, renewable energy sources will always need some combination of chemical fuelled backup power station and long-term and short-term energy storage. This tends to ruin the economics of renewable energy from a whole systems point of view. A renewable energy era will not be an affluent one. I personally do not believe that these energy sources would ever be economic on a large scale without subsidies until renewable electricity is as cheap as the fuel that would need to be burned to make the same amount of power.

  17. Antius on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 7:06 pm 

    ‘Call me when re-newables reach 40 per cent of the market and the price is che3aper than fossil fuels.
    Well, at least probably cheaper than in 2008.’

    Scotland is a relatively small part of the UK grid, supplying about 8% of its population. When Scotland generates 59% of its power from renewable energy, what it actually means is that wind turbines located in Scotland are, for a specified period, dumping power onto the UK grid equivalent to 59% of what the Scottish portion of the grid was using at the same time. Fossil fuel generation had to cut supply during that time, but still had to sit in standby, with all its capital and operating costs racking up. And of course we are talking about electricity supply, not energy supply. Those wind turbines weren’t heating buildings or powering cars. Electricity is only one fifth of total delivered energy.

    When you look at the renewable contribution for what it really is, statements like ‘59% of Scottish power come from renewables’ is highly misleading. It suggests that these things are ready to take over in a way that they are not.

  18. Davy on Thu, 29th Dec 2016 7:15 pm 

    A renewable era will not be an affluent one is an important point. We are not meeting our needs now with a mix of the best of all energy mixes. How are we going to manage with less options? This energy issue is also and economic issue. This existential crisis is more than BTU’s.

  19. Simon on Fri, 30th Dec 2016 4:12 am 

    1cent per Kwh is I suspect the Wholesale price (10euro per Mwh.

    Renewables are now cheaper, proof is that in the market, they are known as price takers, not price setters, in that they would be able to bid into the market so cheap it would put the thermal plants out of operation.

    the Capex is an interesting question the cost of a CCGT is about 1/2 a billion whereas the cost of a windfarm is waaayyyy less.
    The difference is that you can sell all the energy from a CCGT as one, whereas you cannot lump together all the wind energy from N windfarms together and sell it as one, so a lot more work for less returns.


  20. JN2 on Fri, 30th Dec 2016 3:22 pm 

    Antius said >> what it actually means is that wind turbines located in Scotland are, for a specified period, dumping power onto the UK grid <<

    Hopefully, you did note that the "specified period" in this case was an entire year? (2015)

  21. Davy on Sat, 31st Dec 2016 5:42 am 

    these low prices drive a renewable future or be just part of a debt destroying macro event we see in other markets? This is similar to oil and related to oil. We have low interest rates and low energy cost allowing for solar production costs that are not healthy. Is unhealthy economics what is needed to allow for widespread penetration of solar or is it setting solar up for failure? I am asking these questions because this site is full of green washing techno optimist preaching low solar costs when there is a deeper meaning to these low prices. This is a critical time for alternatives. If they cannot succeed now with prices this low then what will happen when prices rise or product supply dries up from bankruptcies?

    “Solar Panels Now So Cheap Manufacturers Probably Selling at Loss”

    “Solar manufacturers led by China’s Trina Solar Ltd. are probably selling at a loss after prices fell to a record low this week. The global spot market price for solar panels fell 2.4 percent to an average of 36 cents a watt on Dec. 28, according to PVinsights. That’s the bottom end of the cost range for most producers in the third quarter, according to Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co. Suppliers are expanding capacity this year while demand is expected to slow in 2017, helping to push prices down.”

  22. Davy on Sat, 31st Dec 2016 5:44 am 

    (sorry poor posting) Are solar prices healthy or more destructive change from a global economics of mal-investment? Will (add to the above)

  23. Simon on Sat, 31st Dec 2016 1:11 pm 

    Hi Dave

    I guess, you/we are dancing around the words ‘good’ economy, as this would get subjective.

    Assuming that we are going for as much Mwh as possible before the economy goes boom.

    If we take Spain as an example in 2008 their economy went boom, before that they were offering huge subsidies on solar, now they are not, in fact they reversed them.
    However … all those little solar stations are still producing.

    So for me, lets get in place as much as we can

    happy new year


  24. Davy on Sat, 31st Dec 2016 3:16 pm 

    Yeap, Simon, I feel the same with one exception. Let’s build out as much alternatives as possible but the right ones and for the right reasons. Let’s do other investments that mimic alternatives energy as forces that strengthen society’s resilience and sustainablity. This might mean less alternatives and more other development. What are these other forces? These could be something like changes in development and social attitudes that revolve around decline. For example let’s quit building in coastal areas that flood since sea level is rising. If we combine better living with alternatives they will go further. If we try to do what we do now with alternatives they will be swallowed up by more of the same poor living arrangements that is leading us to a day of reckoning.

    I have doubts society will change much until it is too late so yes let malinvestment in things like solar and just consider that a good means to a less bad ends. My biggest point here is with honesty and accuracy from the green washing techno optimists. My point is this uneconomic investment is ok but don’t try to tell me solar is so great becuase prices are low. They are low for many reasons. These investments will never do what fossil fuels can do either. Physics are clear on this. Be honest about what is really going on. The reality of the situation should not even include the issues of price. We should just be doing these things and not doing other things becuase of survival.

    My beef with techno optimist who green wash is they are pushing a false narrative of progress and affluence by alternatives. What is ahead is a crisis of need and having as much built out as possible is vital not optimistic progress. We need these things for different reasons. This is not an energy transition it is a lifeboat.

  25. Davy on Sat, 31st Dec 2016 4:08 pm 

    A good read for the new year
    “As We Enter 2017, Keep The Big Picture In Mind”

  26. Kenz300 on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 9:06 am 

    Wind And Solar Now Cheapest Unsubsidized Electricity Sources In The U.S.

    Cheaper Wins !

    Fossil fuels are the past.

    Wind and solar are the future.

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