The Age of Renewables

Author: Marco C. Janssen, UTInnovation, the Netherlands

Recently Dubai announced to have obtained a price of 0.0299  USD per kWh for an 800 MW solar PV plant. This is a world record and means a price drop of 40% compared to the previous lowest price for a solar plant in Peru.
With wind energy as an already established renewable resource, the price drop in solar PV makes the solar panel a serious competitor for any fossil fuel based generation. The good news is that the whole world will benefit from the recent price drops as purchasing and owning a solar installation will become a commodity. This is good news for humanity and for our beautiful planet, as maybe we will now be able to mitigate the destructive nature of mankind and seriously start working on a solution against climate change and global warming.

It can be expected that all related technologies for storage, conversion, control, protection and data gathering and analytics will follow the downward trend in price of the solar PV. With deployment and increasing scales these supporting technologies will have down as they will be in higher demand and competition will increase. This is good news for us all.
At the same time the large-scale deployment of renewable resources means a fundamental change for utilities. Their business as usual is no more. The utility of the future will have to find ways to make money other than by charging for every kWh used as most homes will consume much less or even start producing energy. This while a grid is still required and as such I think the utility will have to become a service provider. A company that provides a service called electricity grid. Everybody connected to this grid will pay a connection fee sufficient to maintain a stable and reliable connection.

In addition, the utility can become a provider of carefree solutions, such as PV systems, water heaters, heat pumps, storage systems, electric vehicle infrastructures, etc. This will create a significant opportunity for utilities to make money and at the same time become more customer centric.
In many countries a change towards a utility - service provider will require a significant change in regulations and this is where the politicians have to wake up. In order for the utility business to change to  new business model, the ladies and gentlemen in politics have to accept that the past is gone and that modern environment focused business models are required creating sustainable solutions for utilities to thrive and all customers (their voters) to benefit.
In the end everybody wins. The utility business will be allowed to migrate to become a fossil fuel free environment by making optimal use of the potential of renewables and society will obtain a planet with a more sustainable environment at a much better price than in the past.

In the end we have only one choice. Either make a change for the better or accept the destruction of our own living environment. If you believe that this will not happen so fast then think of your children’s children and what they will have to face if no change is made now. It will take many years to reverse the destruction already caused by us humans and we have to make an effort now. The first signs of how bad it will get are already visible when you look at the pictures of big cities with streets covered in smog so thick that one can barely breathe. It is clear to me that a change is needed fast.

I therefore embrace the recent price fall in solar PV and seriously hope that people, if not out of compassion for our planet, because of the significant business opportunity will start to really make the change and make the human race more environmentally friendly and our society more sustainable. For our children and our children’s children…

Biography:

Marco C. Janssen graduated the Polytechnic in Arnhem, The Netherlands.  He developed further his professional skills through programs and training courses. Marco is President and Chief Commercial Officer of UTInnovation LLC, a company providing consulting & training services in the areas of protection, control, substation automation and data acquisition, and support on the new international standard IEC 61850, advanced metering and power quality.  He is a member of WG 10, 17, 18, & 19 of IEC TC57, the IEEE-PES and UCA International Users group.

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