Found this on The Tyee. Many Canadians aren't too familiar with the B.C. Hydro Site C dam controversy that has plagued the province especially during the Liberal Party of British Columbia reign of darkness and corruption. Relax, I won't drag you through it here either.
The endless debate may be rendered moot, overtaken by events:
Energy expert Tony Seba from Stanford University specializes in crunching numbers on disruptive energy issues. His most recent projections, detailed in a June 2017 presentation, illustrate just how far BC Hydro has shoved its head in the sand (or somewhere else).
According to Seba, the electrical grid itself is ripe for disruption. So-called peaker plants are brought online only to meet periods of high demand and are thus inefficient capital assets. Fully one-third of giant utility Consolidated Edison’s generating capacity sits idle 94 per cent of the time. That fragile model is about to be shattered by a disruptive new business approach akin to an Uber for energy storage.
Most North American energy consumers spend up to 50 per cent of their energy costs on what is called demand charges — paying higher prices for electricity at times of high use. New companies like Stem are now offering battery storage as a service to businesses. They install and maintain a battery behind your electrical meter with zero upfront cost. It stores electricity from the grid when it’s cheap and splits the resulting savings with their customers.
According to Seba, by 2020 this service would cost residential consumers about 20 cents per day for four hours of energy storage. Who wouldn’t want to pay $6 per month to cut their energy bill in half? This transformation may spell disaster for old school utility companies, since shaving peak demand will eliminate the most profitable part of their business model.
Then of course there are the plunging costs of solar energy. Back in 1977, solar cells cost about $77 per watt. They are now as low as 20 cents and dropping fast. The installed capacity of solar generation is doubling every two years.
A doubling every two years means that solar is on track to replace all installed global energy generation by 2030. Obviously there will be other sources of energy than solar in our future. However the overall economic trends for renewables are crushing for conventional energy sources.
Would this not be a posterior puckering prospect for most utility companies? It already is. Power companies throughout the U.S. and Australia have been in pitched battles with their own customers for years over the existential threat from rooftop solar. Add in the recent availability of cheap battery storage and this may soon become a death spiral.
How close are we to this “God parity” of four cents per kilowatt hour? A new project in Dubai is generating solar at less than three cents a kilowatt hour. Tucson Electric just signed an agreement for a 300-megawatt solar plus battery storage project for only 4.5 cents a kilowatt hour. Incidentally, the former head of the Site C Joint Review Panel pegged the delivered energy costs of this 1950s era project at about three times that much if it ever gets built.
What to make of this? It certainly sounds promising, nay wondrous, if it comes to pass. However there are powerful vested interests, such as those sitting on $27 trillion worth of proven fossil fuel reserves, standing in the way and they know how to buy power, political power, even in Canada. That's a global economy wrecking amount of money and the Fossil Fuelers know it and so do our politicians. That's why Schellnhuber warned the enthusiastic pols at the 2015 Paris climate summit that their goal of holding warming to 1.5C was viable but only if the governments of the world triggered an "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry. The alternative, the path we're now on, is this.