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U.S. Shale’s Glory Days Are Numbered

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Wind And Solar Prices Continue To Fall

Solar

The green energy company Xcel Energy reported low bids on orders for wind and solar installations with storage in 2016.

Bids for wind energy alone stood at just $18.10/MWh, which is considered a record low for the industry. This median price garnered orders worth 17,380 MW, according to the company’s figures.

Wind and solar energy orders, with storage, saw the lowest bid values, with the median bid at $30.60 for a total of 4,048 MWh worth of projects.

“The response to this Solicitation is unprecedented with over 430 total individual proposals (238 total projects) received from bidders,” the company said in a statement. “Over 350 of these individual proposals are renewable energy proposals or renewable energy with storage proposals.”

The string of low prices in the wind and solar sectors illustrates the potential that renewables have to replace coal, oil, and natural gas in the global energy supply mix. U.S. President Donald Trump has tried to prop up coal and oil plants through a recent plan to fund aging facilities, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates the U.S. electricity market, shot down the proposal.

FERC unanimously rejected the proposal, despite President Trump having appointed four of the five members on the commission. The panel concluded that under the proposal, coal and nuclear plants would be compensated “regardless of need or cost to the system,” an idea that would not be “just or reasonable.”

"There’s agreement at the commission that the DOE proposal wasn’t sufficient," Richard Glick, one of the FERC commissioners, told Bloomberg. "It was unanimous."

The decision is a huge blow to the coal and nuclear industries, which hoped to receive an economic lifeline from the move by compensating economically distressed power plants. A November 2017 study found that the DOE proposal would keep 25 GW of coal capacity from shutting down, and delay the retirement of 20 GW of nuclear capacity.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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