Why do experts always lowball clean energy projections?

Last month, Michael Noble of Fresh Energy put up a fascinating list of projections made by energy experts around 2000 or so. Suffice to say, the projections did not fare well. They were badly wrong…

What should we take from this?

The projections weren’t just off, they were way off. You can find similarly poor projections from the ’70s that underestimate the spread of energy efficiency and other demand-side technology solutions (They thought they were going to need hundreds of nuclear plants). Similarly terrible projections were also common in the early years of cell phones.

What do cell phones, energy efficiency, and renewable energy have in common? One, they are dynamic areas of technology development and market competition, which makes straight-line projections pretty useless. And two, they are distributed, with millions of loosely networked people and organizations working on them in parallel. Distributed, human-scale technologies come in small increments. They replicate quickly, so there’s more variation and competitive selection, and thus more evolution.

 

Keep reading: Grist – Why do ‘experts’ always lowball clean-energy projections?

 

 

Continue reading Why do experts always lowball clean energy projections?

Coal power plants are going offline, in favor of Natural Gas plants

“In the past year, coal plants have been facing a perfect storm of falling natural gas prices, a continued trend of high coal prices and weak demand for electricity,” Susan Tierney wrote in the report.

Tierney wrote that those factors have combined to make coal a less desirable fuel source.

Coal-generated electricity has been waning over the past few years, dropping to its lowest level on record in March of this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At the same time, natural gas-powered plants are becoming increasingly popular as the price of the fuel falls to record prices and few emissions emitted by natural gas.

According to Doyle Trading Consultants, the trend is expected to continue as more than 41,000 megawatts from coal-fired power plants could be retired by 2020. If true, the coal-fired fleet would be cut by 17 percent in eight years.

 

ViaPerfect storm sinking coal-fired generation, report says

Continue reading Coal power plants are going offline, in favor of Natural Gas plants