Still, US renewable electricity continues to progress
Tomas Kåberger,Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
Romain Zissler, Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute
In the United States, the progress of renewables continues. The cost of producing electricity from renewable energy is continuing to fall, and the result is continued transition of electricity supply. Solar and wind electricity are now as low as 3-5 JPY/kWh. 1
During the first three quarters of 2017, electricity production from fossil fuels decreased by 135 TWh compared to the same period in 2016, nuclear decreased by 9 TWh, while renewables increased by 70 TWh. Energy efficiency improvements helped reduce total consumption in the US by around 75 TWh.2
The development is not simply a one year effect. In 2016, electricity from fossil fuels was more than 200 TWh less than in 2010 and renewable electricity over 200 TWh more.
The failure of companies to predict what would happen has resulted in economic losses.
On the nuclear side, not only Westinghouse going bankrupt, but also the cancellation of the half-build Summer nuclear plant which implied lost investments of almost 10 billion dollars.
On the coal side, the world larger coal mining company Peabody saw the American part go bankrupt in 2016. Of the US coal fired power stations more than half have either closed or had a decision to close them since 2010. 3
While the US development of renewable electricity production may seem fast, it is still small compared to what is ongoing in China. This year China will install around 50 GW of solar PV capacity, more than the total existing capacity in Japan or the US in the beginning of 2017, and possibly also as much Japan or the US will have at the end of the year.