Renewables expected to replace coal by 2033, says Morgan Stanley

At-a-Glance:

The U.S. is on the path to cutting out coal completely as the cost of renewable energy falls and the push for carbon-free power picks up steam. A new report from global wealth management company Morgan Stanley projects coal-fired power generation is likely to disappear from the U.S. power grid by 2033 and will largely be replaced by renewable energy resources. To learn more, read “Renewables expected to replace coal by 2033, says Morgan Stanley.” 

Key Takeaways:

  • The report from Morgan Stanley said renewable energy such as solar and wind power will provide about 39 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 and as much as 55 percent in 2035.
  • Coal has experienced a steady decline in power generation due to sustained low prices for natural gas.
    • In 2010, coal supplied 46 percent of U.S. electricity, compared with an approximate 20 percent share just a decade later.
    • The share of electricity supplied by natural gas-fired power plants increased from 23 percent in 2010 to an estimated 39 percent last year.
  • The projection from Morgan Stanley comes as the Biden administration is aiming to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050, which will require steep reductions in greenhouse emissions and investments in renewables like solar and wind.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Rapidly reducing the use of fossil fuels is a big step on the journey to 100% clean energy. However, as reliance on fossil fuels declines, integration of renewable fuels and renewable generation must increase to ensure reliability and sustainability in power grids. This transition includes efforts to promote policies that enable rapid reductions in fossil fuel use and rapid increases in renewable generation in the electricity sector. These commitments will also steer electricity-sector decisions about investments, infrastructure, and technology toward decisions that quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the way for a 100% renewable energy future

 

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal

At-a-Glance:

Xcel Energy estimates that it has reduced carbon emissions 50% below 2005 levels in 2020, and is on track to meet its 2030 target of reducing carbon emissions 80% in the next decade, based on its upcoming integrated resource plans (IRPs). To learn more, read “Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal.”

 Key Takeaways:

  • Xcel completed six wind projects in 2020, representing nearly 1,500 MW of capacity. Another 800 MW of wind projects are under construction and expected to become operational in 2021.
  • Xcel plans to file solar plans with Minnesota regulators later this year, which would have the utility develop 460 MW of solar near its Sherco coal plant – retiring in 2030 – to take advantage of existing transmission near the plant.
  • Although specifics are not available regarding Xcel’s upcoming Colorado IRP, the plan will include transmission expansion to bring additional load from remote-located renewables into the Denver area.
  • Xcel will also propose a plan for its remaining Colorado coal plants, as well as adding more renewables, to put the utility on track to reduce its carbon footprint 80% by 2030.
  • Xcel plans to exit coal entirely in Minnesota by 2030.
  • Xcel executives will continue to be bullish on electric vehicle infrastructure build outs, investing $500 million in charging stations and distribution system infrastructure over the next five years, and closer to $1.5 – 2 billion over the next decade.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Xcel is paving the path to 100% for those in the energy sector, setting and meeting ambitious carbon reduction goals and building out its renewable energy capacity. Leveraging existing infrastructure while making key investments in solar and wind will help ease the transition to 100% carbon-free energy and serve as an example to others looking to do the same.

 

 

Photo by natsuki on Unsplash

New Energy Outlook Projects Massive Energy Sector Shift Through 2050

At-a-Glance:

BloombergNEF (BNEF) published its New Energy Outlook 2020 (NEO) in October. The NEO projects the evolution of the global energy system over the next 30 years. This report is widely utilized by planners, strategic thinkers, and investors in developing long-term forecasts and plans. One of the NEO’s most notable projections is that the sharp drop in energy demand from the Covid-19 pandemic will remove about 2.5 years’ worth of energy sector emissions between now and 2050. To learn more, read New Energy Outlook Projects Massive Energy Sector Shift Through 2050.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

Other notables from the report:

  • Electric vehicles (EVs) reach upfront price parity with Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles before 2025.
  • Gas is the only fossil fuel to grow continuously through the outlook, gaining 0.5% year-on-year to 2050.
  • Coal demand peaked in 2018 and collapses to 18% of primary energy by mid-century, from 26% today.
  • In the NEO Climate Scenario, the clean electricity and hydrogen pathway requires 100,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power generation by 2050. This power system is 6-8 times bigger than today’s and generates five times the electricity.
  • Green hydrogen provides just under a quarter of total final energy in 2050 under the Climate Scenario.
  • Reducing emissions well below two degrees under the clean electricity and green hydrogen pathway requires between $78 trillion and $130 trillion of new investment between now and 2050.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The dramatic fall in once-expensive renewable and flexible capacity costs has transformed energy investment over the last decade and the pace of change in accelerating. The cost of offshore wind, for example, has fallen by 63% since 2012. With a renewed focus on future-proofing their business models, utilities have increased renewable energy investments, taking advantage of the certainty that clean energy brings to the balance sheet. In effect, adopting renewable energy, coupled with flexible generation and storage for system balancing, is akin to purchasing unlimited power up-front, as opposed to placing bets on fluctuating oil prices and exposure to narrowing environmental regulation.

 

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

Renewable Electricity Set To Power Past Coal And Gas By 2025

At-a-Glance:

Global economic growth has dropped this year because of COVID-19 and the energy sector has been among the hardest-hit, with oil prices at one point turning negative as demand slumped.

However, one part of the energy industry has defied the downturn – and is set to post record growth this year and next. Cost reductions and sustained policy support are set to drive strong growth in renewable energy. By 2025, renewables will have usurped coal to become the biggest source of electricity generation globally. To learn more, read “Renewable Electricity Set To Power Past Coal and Gas By 2025.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) Renewables 2020 report says that almost 200GW of new clean power capacity will be installed in 2020, almost 90 percent of all new power capacity around the world.
  • Renewable electricity generation will increase by 7 percent globally in 2020, underpinned by the record new capacity additions, the Agency says. This growth comes despite a 5 percent annual drop in global energy demand, the largest since World War II.
  • India’s renewable energy sector is set to double in 2021.
  • Global growth in renewable capacity in the first 10 months of 2020 is already 15 percent higher than the same period last year, despite the pandemic, and growth is set to continue.
  • But while renewables in the power sector are going from strength to strength, the COVID crisis has hit electric vehicles and renewable heat hard

Path to 100% Perspective:

As wind and solar power become increasingly cost-competitive, investments in traditional, inflexible base load plants such as large coal, nuclear, and gas combined-cycle plants are declining. This signals an end to the era of large, centralized power plants that run on fossil fuels.

Global financial trends reflect this dramatic shift, with renewable generation attracting more investment dollars than fossil-powered generation year after year. In 2018, investment in renewable power capacity was about three times higher than the amount invested in new coal- and gas-fired generation combined, according to the global renewable energy organization REN21. Worldwide investment in renewables has exceeded $230 billion for nine years in a row.

 

Photo by Faizan Nadeem on Unsplash

Black & Veatch leaving coal projects in the dust

At-a-Glance:

Engineering and construction company Black & Veatch has announced it is ceasing participation in coal-based design and construction projects in an attempt to focus on more renewable energy work. Black & Veatch has been its increasing focus on renewable energy and energy storage projects over the last decade. The transition away from coal-based jobs will allow the firm to more fully focus on sustainable energy projects. To learn more, read “Black & Veatch leaving coal projects in the dust.”

Key Takeaways:

  • In an example of the company’s move to clean energy projects, earlier this year it was selected to work on the Intermountain Power Agency Renewal Project, one of the earliest installations of combustion turbine technology designed to use a high percentage of green hydrogen.
  • Black & Veatch will still carry out projects to convert coal plants to cleaner energy sources, as well as decommissioning existing coal plants. The biggest change is the contractor will no longer extend the life of any coal facility.
  • “Any decision of this nature will have an impact, but our global client base is overwhelmingly pushing toward a zero-carbon future,” Mario Azar, president of Black & Veatch’s power business said. “The fundamental challenge for the industry is whether to look to the future or continue to look to the past.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The influence of governments and organizations moving toward a zero-carbon future continues to expand to companies responding to the growing demand of their customers and investors. As the investment in energy-related innovation grows,  the renewable energy future presents more affordability, flexibility and reliability for organizations striving to accelerate decarbonization efforts.

 

Photo by Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash