Clean Energy: PEOTUS Biden lives in a different world than PEOTUS Obama did
- Dec 8, 2020 3:50 pm GMT
President Elect (PEOTUS) Joe Biden lives in a far different world than PEOTUS Obama did across many arenas. When it comes to clean energy and climate action opportunities, there are some rather stark — and encouraging — differences between the two eras.
- Twelve years ago, PEOTUS Obama faced a massively devastated economy with serious challenges in recovery. A core part of the recovery efforts (some $90B) sensibly focused on clean-energy arenas, much of this foundational work.
- In 2020, PEOTUS Biden faces a massively devastated economy with serious challenges ahead toward recovery. A core part of the Biden-Harris Administration recovery effort, to build back better, will build on the Obama-Biden Administration (and global) clean-energy foundational work.
In 2008, those advocating for rapid clean-energy investments and deployments had to be creative in accounting (seeking fully-burdened analysis (including health implications, job creation, climate risks)) as part of the advocacy efforts. In 2020, clean-energy options are ever more clearly cost competitive with fossil-foolish options — even without considering pollution and other costs from exploiting and burning fossil fuels. These a few graphics make clear how different 2020 is from 2008.
The drop in renewable costs over the past decade has really been amazing. Wind and solar went from two of the most expensive ways to generate electricity to two of the cheapest. Sure, there's more to the story than just these numbers, but still, a marvel. https://t.co/h6FG9pWGLQ pic.twitter.com/LQab3e63sX— brad plumer (@bradplumer) December 1, 2020
Another look at the dramatic plunging of wind and solar costs as their installed capacity grew
According to Lazard,
- in 2009, onshore wind was an expensive electricity option and solar PV was an exorbitantly (literally off the charts in this case) electricity options.
- By 2019, both onshore wind and solar PV were less expensive than any other electricity option.
Of course, it isn't just wind and solar pv.
As Jonathan Foley, the director of Project Drawdown, reminds, this ‘got so cheap, so fast’ is happening across many clean-energy domains (efficiency, generation, data for better management, …).
To give credit where credit is due, a Zeke Hausfather tweet sparked this post:
Looking at Zeke’s tweet, at that simple graphic, really struck home even though the numbers and trends it points to are far from ‘news’ (especially to informed people like the members of this community).
“CLEAN ENERGY HAS BECOME CHEAP …”
In 2007, Google began the RE<C initiative.
Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C) initiative through Google.org as an effort to drive down the cost of renewable energy.
Many (most?) viewed RE<C as a quixotic and potentially unrealistic quest in the near-term, seeing a need for pricing pollution as the most critical tool since renewables were seen as potentially never being ‘as cheap’ as polluting fuel usage where the pollution wasn’t counted in the financial transactions. While Google walked away from RE<C after a few years (leaving this to others), that RE<C vision was met for much of the world within about a decade and is a more powerfully true equation with every passing day. And, as the Lazard graphic above makes clear, it is RE<C, RE<O (oil), RE<FG (fossil gas), and, increasingly, just RE<FF (Renewable energy at a lower cost than fossil fuels).
PEOTUS Obama lived in a world where RE<C / RE<O, RE<FG, RE<FF was an aspirational vision.
PEOTUS Biden lives in a world where this is reality.
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