Industrial-scale flow machines: Unlocking the full potential of renewable energy

April 20, 2017 -

Source: Energy Storage News

By Scott McGregor


Solar power has never looked so good. Barely a day goes by when I don’t see a story about another multi-megawatt project vying for the title of ‘cheapest solar’. This push for renewable generation (not just solar) is a result of many factors: the Paris Agreement has played its part and the recent push by global superpowers such as China to replace coal with greener alternatives has helped to fuel the global surge in projects. A recent report by Carbon Brief has even suggested that more electricity was generated from wind turbines than coal in the UK last year, for the first time on record. But for me, the primary reason for installing renewables is simple – the financial benefits are now impossible to ignore.

Solar technology prices have dropped almost 70% in the past 5 years according to BNEF data, and it looks like these costs will continue to drop. From a levelised cost of generation perspective, solar is trending towards 5.9p/kWh (US$0.07) in the UK, which makes it one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation available today (wind generation can drop as low as 4.7p/kWh). By contrast, widely utilised CCGT generation (combined cycle gas turbine) has a levelised cost of around 6.5p/kWh by comparison and, accounting for carbon capture, coal generation can be as high as 148p/kWh.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ASME.

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