Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power “can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.” Innovations in wind-turbine design are allowing for ever-longer wind blades; that boost in efficiency will also increase power output from the wind sector, according to Morgan Stanley.
Iceland’s decision to harness the heat inside the earth in a process known as geothermal energy dates back to the 1970s and the oil crisis.
But the new geothermal well is expected to generate far more energy, as the extreme heat and pressure at that depth makes the water take the form of a “supercritical” fluid, which is neither gas nor liquid.
But prices for lithium-ion batteries have fallen fast—by almost half just since 2014. Electric cars are largely responsible, increasing demand and requiring a new scale of manufacturing for the same battery cells used in grid storage. California is mandating that its utilities begin testing batteries by adding more than 1.32 gigawatts by 2020. For context, consider this: In 2016, the global market for storage was less than a gigawatt.
GE and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, are installing five massive wind turbines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They will make up the first offshore wind farm in North America, called the Block Island Wind Farm.
Over the past several weeks, the teams have worked to install the turbines 30 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, and are expected to finish by the end of August 2016. The farm will be fully operational by November 2016.
Yet despite the talk of a borderless currency, a handful of Chinese companies have effectively assumed majority control of the Bitcoin network. They have done so through canny investments and vast farms of computer servers dispersed around the country. The American delegation flew to Beijing because that was where much of the Bitcoin power was concentrated.
Mr. Ng, 36, said he had become an expert in finding cheap energy, often in places where a coal plant or hydroelectric dam was built to support some industrial project that never happened. The Bitcoin mining machines in his facilities use about 38 megawatts of electricity, he said, enough to power a small city.
Five floating turbines will be built off the coast of the island, which currently relies on diesel generators for its power—and pays a dollar more per gallon than the mainland does to get it. Those turbines will be connected to an undersea power cable that links not just the island, but to the US mainland.
The result will be a huge price drop in the islanders’ electricity bills, and an influx of clean energy piped into the grid from across the sound. The 30 megawatt plant is expected be generating power for thousands of New England homes by fall next year.
All of the calculations are for energy, not power. In other words, you might produce 2400 MWh per day, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have 100 MW available at any given instant. Sometimes you’ll generate more, other times less. Obviously there will be no solar production at night and less wind production on calm days. To be fully off-grid, Tesla will need some form of storage. As I surmised in a previous article, Tesla is probably shooting for more than the EV market; it seems logical for them to be looking into grid-level storage as well. What better way to showcase that than to include Li-ion batteries for on-site storage?
Nothing like this happened with nuclear power. It was a technology whose development was dictated by a few prominent government and military officials and large organizations and straitjacketed within narrow constraints. Most of the developers of nuclear technologies were staid, elderly bureaucrats rather than young iconoclasts like Frederic de Hoffmann. An early design invented by Admiral Hyman Rickover – suitable for submarines but hardly optimal for efficient land-based power stations – was frozen and applied to hundreds of reactors around the country. Since then there have been only a hundred or so reactor designs and only half a dozen or so prominent ones. Due to a complicated mix of factors including public paranoia, lack of economies of scale, political correctness and misunderstandings about radiation, nuclear technology was never given a chance to be played around with, to be entrusted to youthful entrepreneurs experimenting with ideas, to find its own way through the creative and destructive process of Darwinian evolution to a plateau of technological and economic efficiency. The result was that the field remained both scientifically narrow and expensive. Even today there are only a handful of companies building and operating most of the world’s reactors.
So far, SolidEnergy has made small, hand-built battery cells, similar to what you would find in a cell phone, using equipment and experts at an A123 Systems lab near Boston. (A123 Systems went bankrupt last year, and was acquired by the Chinese company Wanxiang.) These experimental cells store 30 percent more energy than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but the company calculates that the approach could eventually lead to a 40 percent improvement.
Since its founding five years ago, the company has been doubling its revenues every year and now does $5 million in sales. One reason for that growth is that dense biomass is everywhere. Think about America’s heartland, where corn grows as far as the eye can see. Or California’s Central Valley, where walnuts are a major crop. All those cobs and shells can now be used as the basis for cheap energy. Similarly, startups are generating electricity with the machines in Liberia, and Italian farmers are buying them because that country offers lucrative incentives to produce renewable power. To an Italian farmer, Price said, a PowerPallet is “an ATM machine.”
But the PowerPallets are still relatively simple, at least as far as their users are concerned. For one, thing Price explained, much of the machine is made with plumbing fixtures that are the same everywhere in the world. That means they’re easy to repair.