US Military at 2.1 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy now, on track for 3GW

by Tina Casey.

If you want to check out the amazing transition of the US armed services from fossil fuel dependency to renewable, locally sourced energy, you can find it all wrapped up in a neat little package called Power Surge, a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and partner Navigant. The raw numbers are impressive, with more than 2,000 new energy conservation and renewable energy projects currently installed at military facilities.

What’s even more impressive is the rapid pace of the military renewable energy transition, despite a concerted effort by certain members of Congress to hobble renewable energy development in the US.

Solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett (cropped) courtesy of USACE HQ.
Solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett (cropped) courtesy of USACE HQ.
Military Renewable Energy Surging Up

According to Pew’s Power Surge, the number of energy conservation projects at US military installations more than doubled recently, from 630 in 2010 to 1,339 in 2012 (fiscal years, btw). In that period renewable energy projects went up from 454 to 700.

Power Surge also estimates that there were 384 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity at Department of Defense facilities by mid-2013. That number is set to shoot up to 2.1 gigawatts within five years, by 2018.

All this activity puts the Department of Defense on track to meet its goal of installing three gigawatts of renewable energy at its facilities by 2025.

More Fight – Less Fuel

Okay, so it’s all nice that the Department of Defense wants more renewable energy, but saving the planet is not the driving force behind the push for fossil fuel independency.

DoD has been quite vocal about the urgency of transitioning the US off petroleum (as we’ve covered here and here for example) and adopting more lean, flexible energy sources for combat (here and here for example).

Perhaps lesser known is the imperative to improve the security of domestic and overseas military facilities by enabling them to source renewable energy on site or hyper-locally, and unplug from the grid, which here in the US is still heavily dependent on coal and natural gas.

Here is how Pew sums it up in Power Surge:

… To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

That effort began in earnest in 2008, when the department convened a prestigious task force, formed by the Defense Science Board, to explore the key energy challenges facing the military in the 21st century. The panel’s report, “More Fight–Less Fuel,” called on the U.S. military to address two major challenges: the significant and growing demand for fuel in combat operations, and the vulnerability associated with almost complete reliance by military installations on the nation’s aging and vulnerable commercial power grid.

Check out that last phrase in particular because it nails down something that’s been bothering us for a while.

Along with the aforementioned obstruction of renewable energy development by certain members of Congress (here and here for example), you also have many of those same legislators pushing for privatization and refusing to fund important infrastructure projects.

So there you have the perfect storm: for all the billions spent on national defense, it all hangs on the fragile platform of an “aging and vulnerable” private energy infrastructure.

Ironically, it’s that same privatization/ant-infrastructure push that has forced DoD to push back with an agile end-run around Republican (there, we said it) attempts to block renewable energy development.

Let’s also note for the record that DoD has a huge hand in funding renewable energy/energy conservation R&D projects that apply to the civilian sector as well as national defense, with the Energy Department’s newly announced $50 million push for next-generation vehicles just the tip of the iceberg.

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The U.S. Department of Defense defines installation energy security as the ability to assure access to reliable sources of energy and deliver that power to meet operational needs on its bases in the United States and abroad. The U.S. military needs safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy to operate facilities on an uninterrupted basis. To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

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Download report PDF

That effort began in earnest in 2008, when the department convened a prestigious task force, formed by the Defense Science Board, to explore the key energy challenges facing the military in the 21st century. The panel’s report, “More Fight–Less Fuel,” called on the U.S. military to address two major challenges: the significant and growing demand for fuel in combat operations, and the vulnerability associated with almost complete reliance by military installations on the nation’s aging and vulnerable commercial power grid.1

See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/reports/power-surge-energy-security-and-the-department-of-defense-85899532987#sthash.ybam9ccF.dpuf

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This article, 2.1 Gigawatts Of Renewable Energy For US Military, On Track For 3, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

 

Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Global Solar PV Installations Will Double, Hit Grid Parity By 2020

by Silvio Marcacci

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Worldwide Solar PV Installed Capacity and Revenue chart via Navigant Research

Continually declining solar photovoltaic (PV) prices will continue to power an international market surge, with annual installations doubling by 2020 en route to grid parity around the world.

This bright outlook shines through Navigant Research’s most recent Solar PV Market Forecasts and estimates solar PV will be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices without subsidies in nearly every electricity market by 2017.

Even though each international energy market presents different conditions for solar PV’s growth, Navigant expects overall solar energy costs  to continue falling while overall installations and industry revenue keep climbing.

Low Solar PV Costs Unlock Grid Parity

Solar PV panel oversupply and government incentives have combined to send costs spiraling down to often unsustainable levels in recent years, sparking market consolidations and bankruptcy. According to Navigant, module costs fell from $4 per watt in 2006 to as little as $1 per watt in some markets by 2012, and will continue declining between 3%-8% per year to reach a global average of $1.50-$2.19 per watt by 2020.

This dramatic price decline has also made solar PV appealing to developing nations and an entire new class of homeowners and businesses. Under Navigant’s outlook, new annual installations of solar PV will double from 35.9 gigawatts (GW) new capacity in 2013 to 73.4GW in 2020.

“Lower prices for solar PV modules are opening up new markets for distributed PV, while also helping the technology reach grid parity more quickly in high-cost retail electricity markets,” said Dexter Gauntlett, Navigant analyst.

New Markets, New Revenue, Surprising Trends

And all those new installations will also bring much more revenue, often by new markets. Navigant estimates annual worldwide solar PV revenue will pass $134 billion by 2020, led by growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, China will dominate worldwide growth, and is expected to pass 100GW installed solar PV capacity by 2020.

But if China’s solar surge is predictable, the type of installations is not. Distributed generation, while an exciting prospect for resiliency, is expected to account to less than half of all installations in 2014 and non-distributed systems (greater than 1 megawatt in size) will represent more than half the worldwide market through 2020.

The shift away from non-distributed generation is somewhat surprising, considering major markets like Germany and China are retooling their financial incentives toward on-site installations while solar leasing companies like SolarCity and SunRun offer homeowners the option for rooftop solar with little or no upfront investment and many states tweak policies to free the grid for small-scale solar systems.

But perhaps this shift is best seen in context compared to the total growth of large systems. Navigant previously estimated distributed solar installations would reach $118 billion by 2018 – meaning small solar PV will keep growing, just not as fast.

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This article, Global Solar PV Installations Will Double, Hit Grid Parity By 2020, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Global Wind Power Industry adds 241 Gigawatts by 2017

Wind farm in Sweden
Lillgrund Wind Farm in the Sound between Copenhagen and Malmö. Image courtesy: Mariusz Paździora

With the addition of 44.9 gigawatts in new installations in 2012, world wind power capacity grew to approximately 285.7 GW, an increase of 18.6 percent in the total wind power installation base. Average annual growth over the past 5 years has been 17.8 percent, achieved during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, even with traditionally large markets for wind power in economic recession in both North America and Europe.

Image courtesy of: Delphi234
Global growth of wind power. Image courtesy of: Delphi234

According to a recent report from Navigant Research, however, market growth will fluctuate over the next several years: 241.6 GW will be added between 2012 and 2017, at an average growth rate of 5.1 percent annually, the study concludes.

“The wind power industry continues to demonstrate its ability to rapidly evolve in order to meet new demands in markets that face a variety of challenges,” says Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research. “Wind turbine vendors are designing specialized machines for maximum energy production in low wind speed areas and for operation in high altitudes, in cold climates, and offshore. Nevertheless, a slowdown in wind turbine sales is anticipated, with a decrease of more than 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.”

That decrease will be reflected in the U.S. market during 2013, as a result of 2012’s last‐minute one year extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). The U.S. market will likely face additional political uncertainty when the PTC expires again later this year. Established European wind power markets, such as Spain and Italy, are expected to decline in coming years, while China, the world’s largest wind market, will remain in a state of transition from a period of breakneck growth to one of more stable development.

The report, “International Wind Energy Development: World Market Update 2012”, is the 18th edition of this comprehensive, annual wind energy market report. The report examines the state of the wind power industry today and provides forecasts for the market through 2017. Including more than 80 tables, charts, and graphs, the report highlights a number of trends for the industry through 2022, including the relative rankings of top countries for wind power installations; rankings of the top ten wind turbine suppliers; the evolution of wind power market structures; and the penetration of wind power in the world’s overall electricity supply.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

Source: Business Wire