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Clean technology includes the renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels), information technology, storage technologies, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, and many other appliances that are now more energy efficient. We focus this collection on renewable energy and development of the Smart Grid.

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Will Falling Oil Prices Kill Wind and Solar Power? with Dr. Steven Chu

Will Falling Oil Prices Kill Wind and Solar Power? Dr. Steven Chu who served as the U.S. Secretary of Energy from January 21, 2009, to April 22, 2013.

During your time at the Department of Energy the deployment of renewable energy in the U.S. doubled. Is the fall in fossil-fuel prices killing the business case for renewables?

The decline in fossil-fuel prices does have some effect, but remember that 78 percent of the economies of the U.S. have state-mandated renewable portfolio standards. They require that a specified fraction of electricity must come from renewable energy. For example, in California the goal is 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Right now renewable electricity is roughly 13 percent of total electricity generated in the U.S. Half is hydropower and the other half is mostly wind energy, with some solar, biomass and geothermal. Renewable energy costs have come down significantly. Even if natural gas, which is the cheapest form of electricity generation today, stays at $4 per million Btus [British thermal units], wind without subsidy is almost as inexpensive.

Electrical generation in the sunnier parts of the U.S. is also approaching equality with a new natural gas power plant. The cost of wind and solar is anticipated to decline for at least a decade or two. Perhaps in a decade, renewables will be competitive with any new form of energy in many parts of the U.S. Published on Mar 8, 2015

EarthSayer Dr. Steven Chu

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