The Intermittency of Wind and Solar: Is It Only Intermittently a Problem?

After having been in denial for some time, the oil firms are now at wit’s end, it seems. For years, they denied that any warming was underway at all. Then when some of them finally admitted it, they said, inaccurately, that scientists were still “unsure” of the cause. Now, perhaps, some of them are becoming too subtle for their own good, or even too clever by half. At times, what some of the oil firms are saying of late, particularly about the “intermittency of renewables,” may even be a little above the public’s head. The “perils of intermittency” may only be a viable argument for a “niche market” of global citizens who are somewhat informed about energy issues, yet not fully apprised. This is a good sign, it seems to me. The oil firms are apparently running out of ideas to try to convince us to move slowly on climate change, even before they run out of conventional oil and natural gas.

With the price of wind power falling more and more, and the price of solar PV falling sharply and enticingly, what other arguments will the big oil firms still have left to try to slow the transition to renewables when even the cost of natural gas may soon be unable to compete with the cost of wind in the Midwest or solar PV in the Southwest? The “risk of intermittency” may be one of the only “reasonable” arguments that Shell or Conoco will still be able to make. And yet, who will even care? Soon, the US energy market, with its focus on price points, may simply say to the oil giants, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about the ‘risk.’ ”

Written by Victor Provenzano. To read the full article, click here.

Solar Power Offers Saudi Arabia a Win-Win Energy Solution

Gulf countries, whilst rich in oil and natural gas, also have an abundant supply of sun, which makes them an ideal location for solar power technologies, yet despite this fact they lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of capacity installed.

Saudi officials have talked about solar power for years, and even made plans to install 41,000MW over the next 20 years, but whilst China installed 5,000MW in 2012 alone, Saudi Arabia still has virtually no solar generation capacity.

As solar prices have fallen, and oil prices have risen, Saudi Arabia now has a strong economic incentive to push ahead with its long awaited solar plans. Arabian Business has said that solar power would allow the Saudi’s to save more oil to be exported at over $100 a barrel, whilst at the same time producing electricity for less than half the cost of its current oil-fired power plants.

Written by Joao Peixe. To read the full article, click here

Solar in the Spotlight

Most of the attention may be focused on domestic oil and gas production, but it could be solar power that really helps the United States on its path to energy independence.

Aside from the high-profile bankruptcy of Solyndra—the solar panel maker that defaulted on a $528 million federal loan in 2011—the industry has been on a tear over the last couple of years. Solar installations are up more than 75 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which projects another 65 percent increase in 2013. The industry’s rapid expansion has made solar the fastest growing energy source in the United States, according to the SEIA.

Much of those gains are thanks to a combination of tumbling installation and equipment costs—photovoltaic solar costs dropped almost 30 percent in 2012, the SEIA reported—and the rise of an innovative approach to financing expensive rooftop solar panels called third-party-owned solar.

Written by Meg Handley. To read the full article, click here