European power plants could be obsolete starting in 2020

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Quick Take: I've pointed you to earlier calculations by experts that believe solar power will soon reach grid parity in high-cost, high-sun areas like Hawaii and California. But here's a new calculation that concludes that Europe will reach the same tipping point as soon as 2020. – Jesse Berst

 

Investment bank UBS just released a report claiming centralized fossil-fuel power plants could soon be obsolete. The precipitating factors? Solar power, energy storage and electric vehicles.

 

Renew Economy calculates the tipping point will arrive around 2020. That's when the payback will be only 6-8 years for a rooftop solar system connected to some batteries and an electric vehicle.

 

Assuming the home solar system has a 20-year life span, “a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free” for a system purchased in 2020, according to the UBS report. It's unlikely that many power plants would be torn down immediately, “but we would be bold enough to say that most of those plants retiring in the future will not be replaced.”

 

For one thing, UBS expects battery cost to drop by more than 50% by 2020. That will greatly lower the cost both for electric vehicles and for stationary energy storage. Meanwhile, says the Climate Progress blog, "power will be consumed more efficiently, because it will be consumed in lots of dispersed local settings, rather than being consumed by broad areas served by a single power source. That cuts down on the need for electricity transmission over long distances, and the accompanying power losses.”

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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