July 29, 2021
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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Francesca Mccaffrey for Phys.org:A new study from MIT researchers shows that coal’s economic edge may soon be far thinner than we think. In a working paper for the MIT Energy Initiative, graduate students Joel Jean, David C. Borrelli, and Tony Wu show how replacing current coal-fired power plants with wind and solar photovoltaic generation facilities could provide benefits for the environment and for bottom lines in the near future.The online tool they’ve created to help illustrate this argument is CoalMap, a web application that compares the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)—that is, the minimum electricity price a power plant must receive to break even on investment costs over its lifecycle—of existing U.S. coal-fired plants with the expected LCOE of potential new utility-scale solar and wind generation in the same locations. The tool draws on publicly available data sets from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.Users view CoalMap as a map of the continental United States showing the locations of current coal plants, with markers indicating each plant’s nameplate capacity and relative cost. As users apply different carbon prices, deployment subsidies, and rates of cost decline for solar and wind, they can observe the effects of these changes on the cost-competitiveness of renewable energy across the country.The results might be surprising to those arguing for coal’s inherent cheapness. If levelized costs continue to decline as solar and wind technology improves, both will catch up to coal in terms of cost-competitiveness in the coming decades. The effect is even more staggering if a carbon price is implemented. Indeed, as the authors write, “imposing a price on carbon would make new solar and wind facilities significantly more competitive with coal power, even without major cost reductions” due to technological improvement. In the event of both a carbon price and improvements in clean energy technology, the researchers say, nearly all aging coal-fired plants in the U.S. could be headed for retirement within the next two decades, displaced by cheap low-carbon energy generation, even without subsidies and in areas with poor solar and wind resource.Full item: Mapping coal’s decline and the renewables’ rise On the Blogs: MIT Research on the Rising Competitiveness of Renewableslast_img read more

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