Jim Robo, CEO of NextEra (Florida Power and Light), thinks so: “We see renewables plus battery storage without incentives being cheaper than natural gas, and cheaper than existing coal and existing nuclear…And that is game changing. I think that [renewables replacing coal within a decade] is very doable, and that would take out an enormous amount of carbon out of the United States. So, we see a massive shift there in terms of much of the coal in the country being phased out by 2030.”
NextEra stock has generated a 173% return over 5 years as it pursues this strategy, outperforming XLU (broad utility stock ETF) by 117% the which was up only 56%.
In 2018, coal electric plants generated 1,150 million metrics tons of CO2 emissions, or 20% of total US CO2 emissions of 5,269 million metric tons. Coal plant shutdowns have dropped production from 320 GW to 200 GW over the past 10 years.
“LA Looks to Break Price Records with Massive Solar-Battery Project.” LA Department of Water and Power announced in 2019 that it was approving a deal to build 400 MW of solar capacity plus 150 MW of battery storage. The solar capacity would deliver power at less than $0.02 / kWh, below the previous record low price of $0.025 for a Texas municipal utility. By contrast, the cost of solar was $0.16 / kWh in 2010.
Storage is essential as the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing. The cost of battery storage, like the costs of wind and solar, has dramatically declined in the last ten years. Utilities and regulators are waking up to this new reality. These costs will continue to dramatically decline.
Carbon capture, nuclear power, natural gas emissions to be addressed in coming issues.