Renewable generation is expected to account for about two-thirds of the 24 GW of energy capacity the U.S. added in 2016, and industry observers don’t expect alternative-energy additions to fall in coming years, despite changed political winds. “Solar and wind are the least cost power in many markets,” says John Woody, renewable-energy senior director at developer NRG. Customer demand is driving the market, he says.
Even in the low-cost natural-gas environment, which keeps power prices low, NRG’s utility-scale wind and solar generation can compete on price, but renewables have an added advantage to hedge against future cost hikes in fossil fuel-fired generation, Woody says. Commercial and industrial customers can forecast power rates over the long term in deals structured without price escalators, he notes, adding, “It’s a huge value driver.” Federal production and investment tax credits that have supported renewable construction over the past decade reduced the price of renewable sources, but development costs have dropped dramatically and will continue to over the next five years as tax credits are phased out, Woody says. NRG’s analysis shows prices for renewable power will continue to decline.
Because it can moderate the damaging effects of earthquakes, base-isolation is a technique used primarily in seismically active regions. ENR takes a look at some of the largest applications of base-isolation technologies in the world.