Troll: The other energy news is tremendously upbeat 

By Kate Troll | For the Juneau Empire: While many state leaders focus on the graph that shows the expected decline of oil from Prudhoe Bay (a field that currently exceeds its 30 year forecast), there is another energy graph that merits equal attention. It is the graph that shows a sharp, steady increase in the production of renewable energy across the nation. Whether its wind, solar, hydro or biofuels, the prospects for renewable energy are remarkably bullish.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory concludes in their recently issued Renewable Energy Futures report that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country”. The primary reason for this rosy outlook is the sharp decrease in prices for electricity produced from wind and solar.

According to Stephen Byrd, Morgan Stanley’s Head of North American Equity Research for Power, and Utilities and Clean Energy, Midwest wind is now cost competitive with natural gas and coal.

“Even without the production tax credit subsidy, some of these wind projects have a lower all-in cost than gas,” notes Byrd. Add to this development General Electric’s new line of wind turbines, which are being hailed as a “game changer,” and the prospects for cost competitive wind are robustly strong. And in 2013, solar electricity finally hit grid parity with coal. In February 2013, a southwestern utility agreed to purchase electricity from a New Mexico solar project for less than the going rate for a new coal plant.


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