Half of the existing US thermal generator fleet is likely to retire by 2030

Over half of US thermal capacity is more than 30 years old and expected to reach retirement age by 2030.

Utilities are investing massively in gas-powered thermal generators to replace aging plants. Over 110 GW of new gas projects have been announced for construction through 2025. But some recent studies are questioning this "rush to gas" as alternative renewables options could be more competitive  :

"More dramatically, the new-build costs of clean energy portfolios are falling quickly, and likely to beat just the operating costs of efficient gas-fired power plants within the next two decades—a sobering risk for investors and customers in a market with over $100 billion of already announced investment in new gas-fired power plants.

A Rocky Mountain  Institute report analyzed four natural gas-fired power plants currently proposed for construction across the US and compared them with optimized, region-specific clean portfolios of renewable energy and DERs that can provide the same services. The analysis includes two announced combined-cycle gas turbine power plants, planned for high capacity-factor operation, and two announced combustion-turbine power plants, planned for peak-hour operation. In three of the four cases, an optimized clean energy portfolio would cost 8–60% less than the announced power plant. In only one case the analysis finds the net cost of the optimized clean energy portfolio is slightly (~6%) greater than the proposed power plant. Factoring in expected further cost reductions in distributed solar and/or a $7.50/ton price on CO2 emissions, all four cases show that an optimized clean energy portfolio is more cost-effective and lower in risk than the proposed gas plant."

https://www.rmi.org/insights/reports/economics-clean-energy-portfolios/

 

 

 

 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Rocky Mountain Institute is a very poor reference source IMHO. They are about as unrealistic as they come. Natural gas is the answer  for our energy needs and we should be using it for transportation also. Super abundant, clean, and cheap. You are looking a gift horse in the mouth. There is no good argument to oppose natural gas. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I don't see how you can connect a solar-panel installation without also hooking up spinning reserves.  You have to go out and source a gigantic synchronous condenser and even that is not going to hold the fort for any real length of time, to address production fluctuations. Those machines are beaucoup bucks.  Big installations may need a raft of them.. And I never, ever, see the costs of those spinning reserves calculated into the costs of that solar field.  (Or wind tower operation, for that matter.)  

If you figure a decent wind farm will require installing a $25 million synchronous condenser at the foot, just to absorb and release reactive power to maintain grid signal stability, then where does this number show up in the calculations of capital cost?  Or do the promoters of solar and wind machines simply ignore this aspect, and presume that "someone else"  (the grid operator?) is going to try to figure out the grid stability problem - on their dime?  

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0