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October 21, 2020 | Solar, Wind and Water Dramatically Reduce Energy Use and Costs

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel (www.venablepark.com) Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog: www.jugglingdynamite.com

The Solutions Project at Stanford University has been pointing out for years now that improving energy efficiency and powering the grid with electricity from wind, water, and the sun dramatically reduces overall energy use.   In their blueprint for Canada, the reduction in demand is an estimated 63% below current levels.

Already, wind and solar power are the cheapest forms of new electricity in most of the world today, and analysis by BloombergNEF predicts that within five years, it will be more expensive to operate existing coal or natural gas power plants than to build new solar or wind farms.

Last week, the International Energy Agency acknowledged that solar is starting to take over from coal as the cheapest form of electricity.

This is logical because, in power generation, coal is also one of the most inefficient ways to make electricity, with 65% of energy lost in burning the fuel.  The energy lost in generating electricity from wind is almost zero.

So, as the world moves to renewables, less and less energy is needed to generate the same amount of electricity, reshaping many industries. One case in point:  a third of the cargo miles hauled by shippers comes from moving fossil fuels worldwide, and 70% of that portion is oil, BNEF estimates.

As renewables take market share from oil, gas and coal, the shipping companies that deliver those fuels and keep it fed with machinery and pipelines will lose business.

On Monday, The United Arab Emirates–The world’s seventh-largest oil producer–announced that cheap solar is causing them to revise their energy strategy to produce solar and green hydrogen–made without carbon emissions. 

All of this is massively impactful, particularly since a large part of the illness and medical costs today are directly related to air pollution from burning fossil fuels.  See One in three strokes caused by air pollution for just one example.

As Canada and the world look for productive investments that will stimulate the economy and jobs while permantently reducing costs and improving life quality, renewable energy, retrofitting buildings, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and recycling metals are obvious and shovel ready:

Driving an electric vehicle uses as much as three times less energy than a conventional combustion engine, BNEF said. Switching to heat pumps instead of traditional gas boilers would make warming buildings far more efficient by several multiples, according to the BNEF findings.

It estimates that melting down old steel and reforming it is five times more energy efficient than making the material from scratch.

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October 21st, 2020

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite

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