Tag Archives: solar

U.S. Energy Information Administration Projections Far from Accurate

EIA projections missed unprecedented growth in solar PV installations and a sharp downturn in coal production over the last decade.

For a more detailed analysis of inaccuracy in the EIA’s projections, see CEA’s white paper on the topic here.

Policymakers, utility commissions, investors, and energy companies rely on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) data for a wide range of energy analyses and while the historical data provided by the EIA has been extremely useful in many arenas, the EIA’s projections of future trends are often far from accurate. Our research summarizes a few examples of previously reported inaccuracies in EIA projections (for example, here, here, and here), but also provides what we believe to be the first look at the EIA’s inaccurate projections of U.S. coal production in almost a decade.

The projections published in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) have invariably overestimated the cost of renewable electricity generation and fallen sadly short of predicting new additions of wind and solar capacity. For example, Figure 1 shows that the projections published in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook repeatedly underestimated U.S. utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity from 2011 to 2015 and continue to predict that solar installations will largely stall through about 2025.

In reality, however, solar PV capacity is growing at an unprecedented rate. The Solar Energy Industries Association reported that by the third quarter of 2016, the cumulative U.S. utility-scale solar PV capacity (including capacity which was under contract but not yet operating) exceeded the AEO2015 projection for capacity in 2039. Accounting for planned capacity which had been announced but was not yet under contract by Q3 2016 indicates that utility-scale solar PV capacity will soon far surpass all AEO projections for 2040.

Solar PV Capacity and Projections
EIA reference case projections of U.S. utility-scale solar PV capacity and historical data (black, bold) as well as points which include planned capacity under contract in Q3 of 2016 and announced but pre-contract installations as of Q3 2016. Projection data taken from the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook, historical data taken from Solar Energy Industries Association’s U.S. Solar Market Insight Reports.

In addition to missing the sharp rise in solar photovoltaic installations, EIA projections also missed a dramatic downturn in coal production over the last decade. They failed to pick up on the trend year after year and still predict flat or rising coal production through 2040, as shown in Figure 2.

History (black, bold) and annual EIA projections of U.S. coal production from 1997 to 2040. Note that the vertical axis starts at 950 million short tons for clarity. Data taken from: the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook.
History (black, bold) and annual EIA projections of U.S. coal production from 2006-2015. Note that the vertical axis starts at 950 million short tons for clarity. Data taken from: the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook.

Disruptive innovations tend to precipitate new market trends that are notoriously difficult to predict. Just as the invention of the personal computer led to an abrupt decline in the typewriter industry in the late 1900’s, a massive transition toward renewable resources is transforming U.S. energy markets and so far EIA projections have failed to keep up with this transition. Every year, EIA forecasts predict a return to the trends of the 90’s, but the technological and political landscapes surrounding the U.S. energy industry are changing rapidly and historical precedent suggests that energy markets may never return to those of past decades.

For more details, readers are encouraged to download the full CEA White Paper here.

Community Energy Fair: Speaker Lineup Announced!

2015 Community Energy Fair ̶ Picnic Table Talks

Saturday June 20, 2015 

10 am- 4 pm 

Join the event on Facebook!

We’re excited to announce our speaker lineup for the 2015 Community Energy Fair! Picnic Table Talks will be about 15-20 minutes with time for Question and Answer afterwards.

10:30 am—Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Part I ̶ Dan MacDonald

CCL is a non-partisan organization that trains everyday citizens to help build the political will for a livable world by reflecting the true cost of carbon-based fuels via a revenue neutral carbon fee that is returned as a household dividend. Learn how you can help.

11 am—Triumph of the Sun! ̶ Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions

Hunter Lovins, an attorney, teacher and world-famous leader in the sustainability and clean energy movements, brings good news from around the world and shows us why what Boulder is doing is important.

12 pm—Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Part II ̶ Tim Bailey and Tim Wagner

CCL is a national organization that exists to empower citizens to help our country make policies that will address Climate Change. CCL is rapidly gaining momentum across the US. CCL works to shift us off carbon-based fuels and save us money all at the same time.

12:30 pm—How One Citizen Helped Move the Climate Conversation ̶ Julie Zahniser

When Julie Zahniser, a speech pathologist, parent and outdoor enthusiast, wanted to help address climate change issues, she found opportunities right here in Boulder through Clean Energy Action and Boulder’s clean energy campaigns. You can help, too!

1 pm—The Science of Climate Change ̶ Why It is Serious and What We Can Do About It—Chuck Kutscher, PhD

Chuck Kutscher is a dynamic speaker who has been leading many of the National Renewable Energy Lab’s most effective programs for over 30 years and has been Chair of the American Solar Energy Society. Don’t miss Chuck’s inspiring presentation!

2 pm—100% Renewable Energy ̶ Yes We Can!  Ken Regelson, EnergyShouldBe.org

Ken Regelson has helped move energy policy in Colorado for the last decade. He is an electrical engineer, founder of EnergyShouldBe.org and an expert on the real potential of transitioning to Renewable Energy. His talks always have a fun surprise element.

3 pm—Standing Up for Solar Rights in Colorado—Jessica Scott, Vote Solar

Jessica Scott moved from serving Denver to working in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona to make solar a mainstream energy resource. Jessica is an advocate for Vote Solar whose mission says, “The sun got up this morning ready to help, did you?”

3:30 pm—The US Coal Industry is in Dire Straits and I’m Terrified—Huh?? Leslie Glustrom, ̶Clean Energy Action

Co-founder of Clean Energy Action, Leslie Glustrom is one of the nation’s coal industry experts. She has worked tirelessly to build Beyond Coal campaigns in Colorado and the US, but now she is concerned about the rapid US coal industry demise! Come learn why.

2015 Community Energy Fair

CEA 2015 Community Energy Fair

10am to 4pm
Saturday, June 20th, 2015
Scott Carpenter Park
SW corner of 30th and Arapahoe
Boulder, CO (map)
Share and RSVP on Facebook.
Sign Up to Become a Sponsor!

Fun & Games, Speakers, Exhibits,
Something for the Whole Family!

CEA Energy Fair Flyer

Join our community in celebrating clean energy and the Summer Solstice at CEA’s first Community Energy Fair!

For the Grownups:

  • Nationally-Known speakers: Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions; Chuck Kutscher, National Renewable Energy Labs; Ken Regelson, EnergyShouldBe.org; and Leslie Glustrom, CleanEnergyAction.org.
  • Exhibitors: highlighting local clean energy and energy efficiency oriented companies and organizations.
  • Picnic Table Talks: Informal discussions with an array of different advocates and experts in energy policy and technology.  Have a burning question?  Get it answered!
  • Alternative Vehicle Demonstrations: Take an electric car for a spin or try out a family cargo bike.  We may even have a fuel-cell based vehicle from NREL.
  • Silent Auction: fundraiser for CEA, with lots of great schwag donated by local businesses!

For the Kiddos:

  • Ride the CEA energy bike, and see just how much work it takes to power a light bulb!
  • A “Capture the Coal Plant” family field game.
  • Carnival games and art activity booths.
  • Connect with other youth working on climate change.

For more information or to volunteer at the Community Energy Fair, email our organizing team at energyfair@cleanenergyaction.org.  If you would like to become a sponsor or exhibitor at the fair, please fill out this form online, and select your desired sponsorship level.

Note that all sponsors of CEA’s 2015 Community Energy Fair must be committed to maximizing energy conservation & efficiency, and achieving a renewable energy-dominated electricity system in Colorado no later than 2030.

A special thanks to our sponsors, Boulder Weekly and Boulderganic!

Boulder Weekly

Boulderganic

Meet GRID Alternatives: Solar for Everyone

Get to know GRID Alternatives

Monday, May 18th, 2015
6:30-8:00pm

Boulder Main Library
Creek Meeting Room
1001 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302

RSVP & Share on Facebook

Join CEA and Empower Our Future in getting to know GRID Alternatives, Colorado, a nonprofit organization that makes renewable energy technology and training accessible to under-served communities. GRID uses a model similar to that of Habitat for Humanity, training volunteers in how to install distributed solar PV systems. Along with these volunteers, GRID brings together community partners and job trainees to implement solar power and energy efficiency for low-income communities, providing energy cost savings, and valuable hands-on experience, while expanding solar access throughout the state.

If you’ve ever thought you might want to learn how to do rooftop solar installations, or if you’re passionate about making sure that the developing renewable energy economy is accessible to everyone,  come learn more about GRID Alternatives.

Learn more about them and their work over on their website.

Presenters:GRID_logo_fullcolor_Colorado
Emily Birk, Outreach Manager
Kristina Sickles, Development Director