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Jeff Quigley
By
October 11, 2019

Tipping Point for Carbon?

Clean energy technology costs have reached a tipping point, according to two new studies released by the Rocky Mountain Institute. Carbon-free resources—combined with demand-side management—are now cost competitive with building new natural gas plants, which will be uneconomic to operate after 2035.

 

If you don’t have time to read the reports, “The Growing Market for Clean Energy Portfolios” and “Prospects for Gas Pipelines in the Era of Clean Energy,” here are three key takeaways:

  • “The past decade has seen a dramatic reduction in the costs of wind, solar, and storage technologies. At the same time, sophisticated utilities and market operators are increasingly able to procure grid reliability services from these non-traditional resources.”
  • “The role of gas as a ‘bridge fuel’ is behind us; there are both significant cost savings opportunities if US utilities prioritize clean energy over continuing their present rush to gas, as well as existential risks facing investors that continue spending on new gas infrastructure."
  • “90% of this proposed capacity is more costly than equivalent clean energy portfolios and, if those plants are built anyway, they would be uneconomic to continue operating in 2035, well ahead of the ends of their planned economic lifetime. Continued investments in these power plants will present stranded cost risk for customers, shareholders, and society, while locking in 100 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.”

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