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Weekly Energy Brief: November 17, 2023
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EIA expects U.S. annual solar electricity generation to surpass hydropower in 2024

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) in November 2023, forecasting that annual solar electricity generation in the United States will surpass hydropower generation in 2024. This is a significant milestone for the solar industry, reflecting the growing importance of renewable energy in the United States.

The EIA expects solar generation to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by falling costs and increasing demand for clean energy. Solar power generation has been growing at an average rate of 44% per year since 2009, while hydropower generation has remained relatively flat. In 2022, solar power plants and rooftop solar generated about 19 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, compared to 17 billion kWh from hydropower plants.

This growth is being driven by several factors, including:

  • The declining cost of solar panels and other solar technologies
  • Increasing government support for solar energy
  • The growing demand for clean energy from businesses and consumers

The EIA expects solar generation to continue to grow in the coming years, reaching 145 billion kWh in 2024. This would make solar the second-largest source of electricity generation in the United States, after natural gas.

BP seeks partnerships to navigate renewables storm

BP, a British oil and gas company, faces several challenges transitioning to a more renewable energy-focused business. These challenges include the high cost of renewable energy technologies and integrating renewables into the electricity grid.

To address these challenges, BP is seeking partnerships with other companies. These partnerships will help BP to:

  • Share the cost of developing and deploying new renewable energy technologies
  • Gain access to expertise in renewable energy
  • Scale up its renewable energy business more quickly

BP has already formed several partnerships with companies in the renewable energy sector. These partnerships include:

  • A joint venture with Equinor to develop offshore wind projects in the United States
  • A partnership with Lightsource BP to develop solar projects around the world
  • A collaboration with Castrol to develop lubricants for electric vehicles

BP is committed to transitioning to a more renewable energy-focused business. The company believes that partnerships will be essential to its success in this transition.

Exxon Makes Lithium Play in Long-Term Bet on EV Demand

Exxon Mobil, one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, is making a long-term bet on the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) by investing in lithium. Lithium is a critical ingredient in EV batteries, and demand for the metal will grow exponentially in the coming years.

Exxon has acquired a majority stake in Lithium Americas, a company developing lithium projects in the United States and Argentina. The company plans to become a major U.S. supplier of lithium by 2030.

Exxon's investment in lithium is a sign of the company's commitment to diversifying its business beyond oil and gas. The company believes that EVs are the future of transportation and that lithium will be a critical component of this transition.

AI's Power-Guzzling Habits Drive Search for Efficiency

The growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) strains the power grid. AI algorithms are very computationally intensive and require a lot of electricity to run. This is leading to a search for more efficient AI technologies.

According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, AI training consumes more than 6% of the world's electricity. This number is expected to grow as AI becomes more widely used.

To address this problem, researchers are developing new AI technologies that are more efficient. These technologies include:

  • Specialized hardware accelerators that are designed for AI workloads
  • New algorithms that are more efficient in their use of resources
  • Software that can optimize the use of AI resources

The development of more efficient AI technologies is essential to the continued growth of the AI industry. Without these technologies, the power grid will not be able to support the growing demand for AI.

Siemens Reviews Troubled Wind Business Structure

Siemens Energy, a German conglomerate, is reviewing the structure of its wind turbine business after a disappointing quarter. The company faces many challenges, including the high cost of raw materials and the increasing competition from Chinese rivals.

Siemens Energy is considering several options for its wind business, including:

  • Spinning off the wind business as a separate company
  • Selling the wind business to another company
  • Consolidating the wind business with other parts of Siemens Energy

The company has not yet decided the future of its wind business. However, the review indicates that Siemens Energy is concerned about the industry's challenges. The wind industry has been facing several challenges in recent years, including:

  • The high cost of raw materials, such as steel and fiberglass
  • The increasing competition from Chinese rivals, which have lower labor costs
  • The decline in government subsidies for wind energy projects

These challenges have led to some wind turbine manufacturers consolidating their businesses or exiting the industry altogether. Siemens Energy is reviewing its wind business to ensure it is competitive globally.