Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

To little sister, who has grown up to be such a powerful woman: The song is as true as ever. Have a great day!

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • SPECIAL FEATURE: The Women’s March, Los Angeles – Something Happened Here

  • Weekend Video: Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Sequel”
  • Weekend Video: Al Gore Talks About His “Inconvenient Sequel”
  • Weekend Video: 2016 Was Third Record Heat Year In A Row

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Best Movies About Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Saudis Move Ahead On $30Bil New Energy Buy
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Wind Awaits China Demand
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-India Solar Rising


  • TTTA Thursday-The Heat Stayed On In 2016
  • TTTA Thursday-Three Ways Solar Will Grow
  • TTTA Thursday-North Carolina Ocean Wind Bidding To Open
  • TTTA Thursday-Plugs Could Change The Future of Cars Completely

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: 4 Drivers Of Solar Growth Everybody Needs To Know
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Maryland RPS And The National Divide On Clean Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Why California Wants Western Electricity Delivery Organized

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Who In Clean Tech Is Boosting New Energy
  • QUICK NEWS, January 17: New Energy’s Fight Against Climate Change Won’t Be Done; New Energy Jobs Leapt Again Last Year; Nebraska Gets Wind Power Economy Bump
  • --------------------------


    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews


    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns


    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart




      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, January 24:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The State OF The U.S. Energy Transition, Part 4
  • QUICK NEWS, January 24: Trump White House Rewrites The U.S. Climate Message; Defense Dept. Advances Microgrid Trials; NatGas Price On The Rise

    Tuesday, January 24, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The State OF The U.S. Energy Transition, Part 4

    Transforming the Nation’s Electricity System: The Second Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review

    January 2017 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    Summary for Policymakers: Building a Clean Electricity Future

    A clean electricity system reduces air and water pollution, lowers GHG emissions and limits the impacts to the ecosystem in areas such as water and land use. Addressing climate change will require the United States to greatly reduce our carbon emissions, while simultaneously addressing new grid management challenges that have arisen due to recent trends in electricity generation and demand, the changing climate, and the national security implications of grid dependency. Keeping this context in mind, this Chapter explores the essential elements of a clean electricity system, and identifies the policy, market and technology innovations needed to achieve it. In short, we have made substantial progress in reducing the environmental impact of the electricity system, but much work remains.

    Key Findings

    • A clean electricity system reduces air and water pollution, lowers GHG emissions and limits the impacts to the ecosystem in areas such as water and land use.

    • Deep decarbonization of the electricity system is essential for meeting climate goals; this has multiple economic benefits beyond those of environmental responsibility.

    • The United States is the largest producer and consumer of environmental technologies. In 2015, the U.S. environmental technology and services industry employed 1.6 million people, had revenues of $320 billion, and exported $51 billion worth of goods and services.

    • Though the U.S. population and economy have grown, between 1970 and 2014, aggregate emissions of common air pollutants from the electric power sector dropped 74 percent even as electricity generation grew by 167 percent.

    • U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector have substantially declined. Between 2006 and 2014, 61 percent of these reductions are attributed to switching from coal- to gas-fired power generation and 39 percent to increases in zero-emissions generation.

    • The increasing penetration of zero-carbon variable energy resources (VERs) and deployment of clean distributed energy resources (DERs) (including energy efficiency) are critical components of a U.S. decarbonization strategy.

    • It is beneficial to a clean electricity system to have many options available as many of the characteristics of clean electricity technologies complement each other.

    • Currently, 29 states and D.C., have a Renewable Portfolio Standard and 23 states have active and binding Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERSs) for electricity. States that have actively created and implemented such electricity resource standards and other supporting regulatory policies have seen the greatest growth in renewables and efficiency.

    • The integration of variable renewables increases the need for system flexibility as the grid transitions from controllable generation and variable load to more variable generation and the need and potential for controllable load. There are a number of flexibility options such as demand response (DR), fast ramping natural gas generation, and storage.

    • Energy efficiency is a cost-effective component of a clean electricity sector. The average levelized cost of saved electricity from energy efficiency programs in the United States is estimated at $46/MWh, versus the levelized cost of electricity for natural gas combined-cycle generation, with its sensitivity to fuel prices, at $52 to $78/MWh.

    • Electricity will likely play a significant role in the decarbonization of other sectors of the U.S. economy as electrification of transportation, heating, cooling, and industrial applications continues. In the context of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), electrification includes both direct use of electricity in end use applications as well as indirect use whereby electricity is used to make intermediate fuels such as hydrogen.

    • Realizing GHG emissions reductions and other environmental improvements from the electricity system to achieve national goals will require additional policies combined with accelerated technology innovation

    • Improving understanding of the electricity system and its dynamics through enhancements in data, modeling, and analysis is needed to provide information to help meet clean objectives most costeffectively. • Decades of federal, state, and industry innovation investments have significantly contributed to recent cost reductions in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

    • Innovation in generation, distribution, efficiency, and demand response technologies is essential to a low carbon future. Innovation combined with supportive policies can provide the signal needed to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies, providing a policy pull to complement technology push.

    • Nuclear power currently provides 60 percent of U.S. zero-carbon electricity, but existing nuclear merchant plants are having difficulty competing in restructured electricity markets due to low natural gas prices and flat or declining electricity demand. Since 2013, six nuclear power reactors have shut down earlier than their licensed lifetime, and eleven1 others have announced plans to close in the next decade. In 2016, two states, Illinois and New York, put policies in place to incentivize the continued operation of existing nuclear plants.

    • Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations in the United States are commercially demonstrated geologic storage, and could provide a market pull for the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

    • Federal laws currently limit the ability of regulated utilities to utilize federal tax credits in the same manner as private and unregulated developers. Publicly owned clean energy projects cannot benefit from the clean energy tax credits because tax equity investors cannot partner directly with tax exempt entities to monetize tax credits.

    • Low-income and minority communities are disproportionately exposed to air quality and water quality issues associated with electric power generation. Compared to the U.S. population overall, there is a greater concentration of minorities living within a three-mile radius of coal- and oil-fired power plants. In these same areas, the percentage of the population below the poverty line is also higher than the national average.

    • Some energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), concentrated solar power, and geothermal generation, have the potential to increase energy’s water intensity; others, such as wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar power, can lower it. Dry cooling can reduce water intensity but may increase overall GHG emissions by decreasing generation efficiency. Though there can be a strong link between energy and water efficiency in energy technologies, many research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) funding criteria do not incorporate water use or water performance metrics. Designing technologies and optimizing operations for improved water performance can have both energy and water benefits.

    • There is currently no centralized permanent-disposal facility for used nuclear fuel in the United States, so this radioactive material is stored at reactor sites in 35 states awaiting development of consolidated storage facilities and/or geologic repositories.

    • Coal combustion residues, such as coal ash and scrubber slurry, are the second most abundant waste material in the United States, after household waste.

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    QUICK NEWS, January 24: Trump White House Rewrites The U.S. Climate Message; Defense Dept. Advances Microgrid Trials; NatGas Price On The Rise

    Trump White House Rewrites The U.S. Climate Message What Climate Change? Trump's White House Touts Energy Plans On Web

    Paul Raeburn, January 22, 2017 (Newsweek)

    “…Minutes after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, [the Obama White House web page on its significant climate fight and New Energy achievenments was] replaced with [the An America First Energy Plan page and the only mention of climate change was] to dismiss any concern…There are no superscripts, no footnotes…[but proclaims that the] Trump Administration ‘is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil’ despite the fact that] imported oil use has declined every year since Obama took office and, in] 2010, for the first time, the U.S. imported less that 50 percent of the oil it consumes. And America is producing more oil than at any time in the last eight years…[The biggest missing piece on the new webpage is a] plan to address climate change…” click here for more

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    Defense Dept. Advances Microgrid Trials Military Microgrids Steeply Cut Energy Costs Says New Study

    Elisa Wood, January 19, 2017 (Microgrid Knowledge)

    “Military microgrids open the door to steep electricity cost cuts at U.S. bases, and even create free energy in some cases, [according to Power Begins at Home: Assured Energy for U.S. Military Bases from Pew Charitable Trusts]...Increasingly the conversation [at DoD is moving beyond protection from storms and other natural grid power interruptions to] potential cyberattacks…[The new study focuses on the economics of military microgrids and shows a] base can save up to $20 million by replacing stand-alone generators with a microgrid…The study compares the cost of stand-alone diesel generators with microgrids powered by diesel or a combination of diesel and natural gas…[The study did not consider non-monetary advantages of military microgrids or efficiencies if a microgrid includes combined heat and power or sophisticated energy management techniques and renewable energy] with advanced microgrid controllers…” click here for more

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    NatGas Price On The Rise Natural gas prices in 2017 and 2018 are expected to be higher than last year

    Tim Hess, January 23, 2017 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “…[The Henry Hub natural gas spot price will] average $3.55 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2017 and $3.73/MMBtu in 2018, both higher than the 2016 average of $2.51/MMBtu, [according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)]…Higher prices in 2017 and 2018 reflect natural gas consumption and exports exceeding supply and imports, leading to lower average inventory levels…In 2016, the annual average Henry Hub natural gas price was the lowest since 1999 as a result of a very mild winter that left natural gas inventories at a record high for the end of March…However, high natural gas use for electricity generation during the summer and declining production contributed to Henry Hub natural gas prices rising from an average of $2.00/MMBtu in the first quarter of 2016 to an average of $2.88/MMBtu in the third quarter of 2016. Cold weather across much of the northern United States in mid-December led to an increase in demand for space heating (much of which is provided by natural gas)…[and] spot prices increased to a monthly average of $3.59/MMBtu in December…In 2017, Henry Hub prices are expected to remain near the levels in December 2016…” click here for more

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    Monday, January 23, 2017

    SPECIAL FEATURE: The Women’s March, Los Angeles – Something Happened Here

    The Women’s March, Los Angeles – Something Happened Here

    Herman K. Trabish, January 23, 2017 (Exclusive to NewEnergyNews)

    Three-quarters of a million people took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Saturday to celebrate women’s rights. It quickly turned into a celebration of human rights in general and of the greatest human right of all, to stand up for yourself and speak out for your own beliefs

    It was a cool sunny day that fell between two days of rainstorms and was so clear the marchers seemed to be almost at the feet of the distant snowcapped mountains. There was a list of notable leaders scheduled to speak at The Women’s March LA but the timetable was soon interrupted by a turnout thirty times bigger than planners expected.

    As masses streamed into the narrow downtown canyons of the City of Angels, the L.A. Fire Marshall grew concerned for their safety and delayed events. By the middle of the morning, the schedule was forgotten.

    By then, the event had become the streets and the crowds on them. A wall-to-wall array of every age, gender, and color gridlocked movement in any direction. They carried posters and banners proclaiming an almost confusing political agenda that ranged from presidential politics to women’s healthcare and from environmental advocacy to human rights.

    Only one thing unified them: Their commitment to what their banners and posters proclaimed. The would-be marchers were there to stand up for what mattered to them.

    By the end of the day, away from the streets, a platoon of conservative women had been hustled out in the media to respond with a set of pro-Trump administration, pro-establishment talking points. One thing they repeated on radio and television was that those with conservative views had been excluded.

    What this reporter experienced in Los Angeles was the most inclusive, diverse, warm, and welcoming crowd he has seen at a political rally in the U.S. or Europe, going all the way back to the 1966 Sunset Strip protests. The Sunset Strip marches were immortalized in Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, which opens with “There’s something happening here/what it is ain't exactly clear...”.

    Had a pro-life woman appeared in the crowd, she would have had to make her case, just like the numerous marchers who came armed with facts to back up their concerns.

    A young woman with a Marine Biology degree talked about climate change. A baby boomer remembered the Cold War and worried about Russia's meddling in the November election. A gay man working event security expressed concern about the new administration’s erratic positioning on economic policy.

    More than anything else, though, the streets seemed almost screaming with the voice of people demanding to be heard. And this movement is, yes, led by old-school Democrats with a traditional liberal agenda and the traditional slogan-chanting. But the fiber of this march was a very different constituency. The movement behind this march is where millennials have come to get a question answered.

    These astute millennials went to kindergarden in September 11’s shadow, saw schoolmates die in Iraq, Afghanistan, and this nation’s inner cities, and face mountains of student loan debt that will not buy them the careers they deserve.

    Their dream of Bernie was ripped away. And on November 8, the fading hope of Hillary was stolen.

    These young people, schooled by Kermit and Mr. Rogers, have the noblest and gentlest values of any generation this nation has produced. The diversity made the center hard to see but diversity is these millennials' ethos. Yet they have only one question: What happened to the world they thought they lived in while Barack Obama, really the only president they’ve known, was at the helm?

    Here’s what happened in the streets of Los Angeles Saturday: The crowd quickly became much too big for anybody to march. Nobody around Pershing Square or at City Hall or on the streets between them went anywhere. The march became a stand – for three hours.

    Many of the baby boomers in the crowd grew weary and sat down. Many Gen X-ers, often pushing strollers, got on their cell phones to make dinner plans. But the millennials started dancing where they stood.

    The message was unmistakable: “We will party until the streets clear because this is just the beginning of OUR time. We are here to begin remaking this country into the one we were promised and we are not going anywhere until that gets done.”

    There were few post-march parties because the march was the party. It celebrated the emergence of a new political generation.

    What remains to be seen is whether what happened Saturday will blossom into a political movement. Translating a march into changes on school boards and city councils and state legislatures across Southern California and the U.S. is where the party ends and the work begins.

    It is the next test for a truly great generation already tested by terrorism and recession. Saturday, on the streets of Los Angeles and around the world, these young people declared they want the work.

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    Friday, January 20, 2017

    Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Sequel”

    ”It is undeniable today.” From JoBlo MovieClips via YouTube

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    Al Gore Talks About His “Inconvenient Sequel”

    …Much more of an emphasis on solutions because compared to ten years ago they are much more widely available and in many cases cheaper than continuing to burn dirty fuels that cause the problem…We’re going to win this…No one person can stop this movement…” From The Hollywood News via YouTube

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    2016 Was Third Record Heat Year In A Row

    of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have happened since 2000. From Fox5 New York via YouTube

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    The Best Movies About Climate Change

    Spoiler alerts: the five best climate-change films; Hollywood – loyal to its eco-sceptic audiences in middle America – has always been frosty towards environmental movies. Here are the most prescient exceptions to the rule

    19 January 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “…[In Snowpiercer,] botched climate engineering has plunged the Earth into a new ice age, and the only survivors all inhabit a huge train that perpetually circumnavigates the globe…[and it] is a microcosm of 21st-century society: multicultural, but with the 1% in charge of the engine…[and content to go round in circles while the rear carriages stoke] revolution… The Day After Tomorrow] smuggles the eco-consciousness of [director Roland Emmerich’s native Germany into the heart of Hollywood… Hell…[is one of the few looks] at a hothouse Earth… Beasts of the Southern Wild suggests rising waters can be matched by] human resilience…[In Silent Running…[all] Earth’s plant life has died out…[and Interstellar is] a reminder to us all that any solution begins in the most familiar place: home.” click here for more

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    Saudis Move Ahead On $30Bil New Energy Buy

    Saudi Arabia seeks $30bn-$50bn solar and wind energy investment; Riyadh will issue tenders for renewables programme in push to curb reliance on oil

    Simeon Kerr, January 16, 2017 (Financial Times)

    “Saudi Arabia will “within weeks” start issuing tenders for a big solar and wind power programme that envisages investment worth $30bn-$50bn by 2030…The oil-rich kingdom…[is completing plans for 2.8 gigawatts of] commercial nuclear power…[Fulfilling previous announcements to turn Saudi Arabia into ‘a solar powerhouse”, the country is] targeting renewable power projects with a capacity of 10GW by 2023…The pledge to invest heavily in broadening the energy mix builds on previous commitments to alternative power sources as part of Riyadh’s ambition to diversify the economy away from crude oil production by 2030. Its national development plan had earlier set a target of developing 3.45MW of renewable energy capacity by 2020…Renewable and nuclear energy are seen as vital to cut domestic demand for oil, freeing up production for export…” click here for more

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    China Wind Awaits China Demand

    It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

    Javier C. Hernandez, January 15, 2017 (NY Times)

    “…[The 7,000 turbines of the Jiuquan Wind Power Base, one of the world’s largest wind farms and capable of generating enough electricity to power a small country, are mostly idle] because of weak demand…China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pointed to its embrace of wind and solar power and other alternatives to coal to position itself at the forefront of the global effort to combat climate change...More than 92,000 wind turbines have been built across the country, capable of generating 145 gigawatts of electricity, nearly double the capacity of wind farms in the United States…[China is] grappling with a nationwide economic slowdown that has dampened demand for electricity…persistent favoritism toward the coal industry by local officials and…[new transmission to deliver the electricity] to China’s fastest-growing cities…” click here for more

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    India Solar Rising

    Future Shines Bright for Solar Energy Use in India

    Phil Dierking and Alice Bryant, January 15, 2017 (Voice of America)

    “The falling cost of solar energy technology is helping India increase its production of electricity…[and] helping India reach its goal of producing more renewable energy…India is the world’s fourth largest user of electricity…[but] many of its people still do not have electricity…[Reducing its] high levels of pollution is also very important…In an effort to meet both goals, the government plans to produce 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022, enough to power 60 million homes]…All over the country, there is evidence that India’s use of solar power is increasing…[India also joined the U. N. Paris Agreement of] almost 200 countries to help slow climate change by 2030…[and committed to] increase renewable energy to 40 percent of its total…[but, facing serious energy shortages, its] needs are growing too fast to be met by renewable sources alone…” click here for more

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    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    The Heat Stayed On In 2016

    U.S. scientists officially declare 2016 the hottest year on record. That makes three in a row.

    Chris Mooney, January 18, 2017 (Washignton Post)

    “…[T]wo leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which, itself, had topped a record set in 2014…Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015, and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s record began in 1880…The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average of 57 degrees…[T]he record for the global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000. The years 2005 and 2010 were also record warm years…NASA concurred with NOAA…[President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency] has written that the “debate” over climate change is “far from settled”…[In hearings, State Department nominee Rex Tillerson and Interior Department nominee Ryan Zinke acknowledged] at least some human contribution to the phenomenon…[Scientists largely agree climate] change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is serious….” click here for more

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    Three Ways Solar Will Grow

    3 Predictions For Solar Energy in 2017

    Sarah Kezer, January 18, 2017 (Mother Earth News)

    “Renewable energy sources are expected to make up 80 percent of the new electricity-generation capacity in the U.S. during 2017…The solar industry is coming off a record-breaking year, with an estimated 13.9 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in 2016…[In 2017, the cost of solar panels, which dropped about 30% in 2016, is likely to continue declining]…This will make solar energy a much more compelling and viable investment…[The look and functionality of solar panels will] continue to develop…This expansion of solar panel styles will be an additional benefit for homeowners…[and] increase their property value…[Finally, battery] energy storage will become more affordable in 2017…which will help foster solar power adoption this year…” click here for more

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    North Carolina Ocean Wind Bidding To Open

    Feds move ahead with plans for huge 'wind farm' off Kitty Hawk

    January 19, 2017 (WRAL Tech Wire)

    “The federal government plans to lease nearly 200 square miles of ocean off the Outer Banks for a commercial wind farm…[Bidding will open in March for the nine companies] qualified to bid on the wind energy project…The 122,405 acres to be sold are 27.6 to 29.5 miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk, and federal officials say the wedge-shaped area is away from shipping routes, military training zones and sensitive environmental ecosystems…[Though it will likely be five to ten years until turbines are installed, residents are already concerned about the impacts. Development proponents say predictions of harms are overstated while the project will produce local jobs and other economic benefits as well as] electricity…The government plans to start the bidding for the North Carolina site at about $245,000, but the lease is expected to fetch millions of dollars.” click here for more

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    Plugs Could Change The Future of Cars Completely

    How Electric Vehicles Could End Car Ownership as We Know It; ‘Rideables’ are likely to speed up adoption of self-driving technology, turn transportation into a service

    Christopher Mims, January 15, 2017 (Wall Street Journal)

    “…[W]ith the convergence of better battery technology, lighter materials and smaller, more powerful electric motors, entirely new kinds of transportation have bloomed. The electric powertrain, unlike that of the internal combustion engine, scales smoothly from tiny to huge…[and] enables two other revolutions: self-driving technology, and the shift from vehicle ownership to transportation as a service…[T]hese forces have the potential to transform our way of life as much as Ford Motor Co.’s Model T did over a century ago. As the convenience and safety of electric, autonomous ride-hailing services appeals increasingly to the masses, the nature of network optimization means it will probably make sense for the Ubers and Lyfts of the world to cater to our needs with everything from a one-seater to a party barge…Enormous] problems of both infrastructure and battery technology have yet to be solved…[But makers of electric vehicles] are already overcoming big obstacles…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Nation Powered By Distributed Energy Resources (DER)

    A grid of DERs: DOE program aims for 100% solar penetration on the distribution system; The new SunShot program will dole out $25M to solutions aimed at integrating truly unprecedented amounts of distributed generation

    Herman K. Trabish, May 24, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The momentum behind DER continues to build.

    The U.S. had 24 GW of solar and 75 GW of wind at the end of 2015. Both are growing faster than ever. The EIA’s just-released Annual Energy Outlook 2016, which typically underestimates renewables, forecasts 246 GW of new solar and 149 GW of new wind by 2040. Cost cuts driven by the Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative drive to lower the cost of solar electricity to $0.06/kWh without incentives by 2020 has supported growth. Its target would make solar cost-competitive with conventional generation and grow it from today’s 1% of the power mix to about 14% by 2030 and 27% by 2050. A growing portion is expected to come from distributed energy resources (DERs) but they can cause big problems for utilities and grid operators alike so the DOE just opened a competitive funding opportunity for projects that enable utilities to handle 100% penetration of rooftop solar at peak hours.

    Through the Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) program, ten to fifteen awards totaling $25 million will go to field-demonstrated solutions that make it possible to manage distributed solar penetrations of 50% of distribution peak load or higher. Those will receive awards between $500,000 and $4 million. A second round of awards from $500,000 to $2 million will go to large-scale simulated solutions that demonstrate how to manage 100% peak solar penetration on the distribution grid by 2030. DOE is asking for software and hardware solutions to enable dynamic, automated, and cost-effective management of the distribution system and are highly scalable, data-driven, and capable of real-time system operation and planning. They must also incorporate sensor, communications, and data analytics technologies that will allow grid operator to see, forecast, and optimize DERs performance… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Maryland RPS And The National Divide On Clean Energy

    It's the economy: Maryland RPS debate illustrates national divide on clean energy policy; States with RPS laws are doubling down, while those without take little interest. Maryland could help explain why.

    Herman K. Trabish, May 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The change in politics at the federal level since this piece ran is expected to make state efforts all the more important.

    A curious trend is emerging when it comes to renewable energy mandates: Many states that have them are doubling down, while those that don’t are showing little interest at all. Since 2009, only Vermont has enacted a new renewable portfolio standard (RPS), yet five states with an RPS on the books strengthened them in the last two years alone. The debate behind Maryland’s recent decision to strengthen its renewable energy standards shows there’s more to the recent trend than ideology alone. The Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 (SB 921) passed by large majorities in both houses increased the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020 but it took three years to push through because a lot of legislators wanted to know what good it would do their constituents.

    A strong backing coalition began with environmental groups and brought in business and labor organizations in the second year. In the past year, they reached out to health care groups and faith groups. Each of those then engaged their constituencies, creating a grassroots momentum the lawmakers could not ignore. Choptank Electric Cooperative, the biggest cooperative on Maryland’s rural, largely conservative Eastern Shore, was the main utility supporting the bill but other electricity providers didn’t oppose it. More votes turned in favor of the bill when current analyses showing the plan will result in estimated economic benefits of between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in increased economic output by 2020 and help create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs were highlighted… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Why California Wants Western Electricity Delivery Organized

    Better together: How an organized market can help clean up the western US grid; Today 38 separate balancing authorities deliver power out West. A new paper says a single market would be more efficient.

    Herman K. Trabish, May 11, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: This California grid operator effort continues at a steady pace despite political changes at the federal level.

    When brownouts and price spikes caused the California energy crisis in 2000, the momentum for power sector deregulation and organized markets stalled, leaving the nation with a complicated mix of market and regulatory structures. Utilities in the Southeast and West, except for the California Independent System Operator (CA ISO), continue to operate in the vertically-integrated model, absent the organized market structure that now serves more than two-thirds of Americans. But a formal proceeding at the CA ISO is now underway that would integrate the 38 separate Western balancing authority areas (BAAs) into a market potentially richer in resources than the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) or the PJM Interconnection.

    Organized markets in other regions have proved that grids with larger geographic footprints and bigger resource bases are cleaner, cheaper, faster, and safer to operate than those run by vertically-integrated utilities, according to Regional Transmission Organizations: Recommendations for the West from the Natural Resources Defense Council. It argues that a single organized Western market could integrate significantly higher amounts of renewable energy generation. Real time, economic dispatch would allow the system operator to choose the lowest-cost resources to meet demand. Renewables, because they have no fuel cost, are often the lowest cost and first dispatched generation resources though the historically low price of natural gas means it undercuts wind and solar in some regions. The more renewables there are, the less fossil generation is used to meet load and the less competitive conventional plants become… click here for more

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    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Who In Clean Tech Is Boosting New Energy

    Clicking Clean: Who Is Winning The Race To Build A Green Internet?

    January 2017 (Greenpeace)

    Executive Summary

    The internet will likely be the largest single thing we build as a species. Tasked with creating and then catering to the world’s insatiable appetite for messages, photos, and streaming video, along with critical systems supporting our financial, transportation, and communication infrastructures, the internet serves as the central nervous system of the modern global economy.

    Not surprisingly, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to manufacture and power our devices, data centers, and related infrastructural needs. The energy footprint of the IT sector is already estimated to consume approximately 7% of global electricity.1 With an anticipated threefold increase in global internet traffic by 2020, 2 the internet’s energy footprint is expected to rise further, fueled both by our individual consumption of data and by the spread of the digital age to more of the world’s population, from 3 billion to over 4 billion globally. 3

    How we build and power our quickly growing global digital infrastructure is rapidly becoming central to the question of whether we will be able to transition to renewable energy in time to avoid dangerous climate change. If data centers and other digital infrastructure are 100% renewably powered, our increasing reliance on the internet can actually accelerate our transition to a renewably powered economy. But, if our growing digital infrastructure is built in the opposite direction, locking us into a dramatic increase in the demand for electricity from coal and other dirty sources of energy that are changing our planet’s climate, it will be far more costly and take an unnecessarily longer time to reach a renewably powered economy.

    In light of the sector’s pivotal role, Greenpeace began benchmarking the energy performance of the IT sector in 2009, challenging those companies who are the largest global architects and operators of the internet to commit to powering their rapid growth with 100% renewable energy. Ultimately, the largest players will be deciding whether our entire digital footprint is powered with renewable energy or antiquated fossil fuels.

    Thankfully we actually are seeing a significant increase in the prioritization of renewables among some of the largest internet companies. The race to build a renewably powered internet started with digital platform leaders such as Facebook, Apple, and Google who first made 100% renewable commitments four years ago and have now been joined by nearly 20 internet companies,4 including global cloud and colocation companies who had previously been lagging far behind. Companies entering the race to build a renewably powered internet are motivated by:

    -Customers who have carbon or renewable energy goals demanding that their digital infrastructure is powered by clean sources of electricity;

    -The rising cost competitiveness of renewable energy, with long-term contracts increasingly at cost parity or even beating fossil fuels in many markets, while also providing long-term price security.

    -Competitiveness among IT companies and the linkage of brand identity with a renewable supply of energy, given the growing concern on climate change among employees and customers.

    IT companies who have made 100% renewable commitments are already seeing results in the deployment of a significant amount of renewable energy to power data centers and are modeling leadership for companies outside the IT sector to pursue their own 100% renewable energy goals. Direct purchase of renewable energy by corporations in the U.S. has increased dramatically since 2010, exceeding 3.2GW in 2015 alone, with over two-thirds of this volume attributed to renewable electricity deals by major internet companies. 5

    But while the number of companies committed to a 100% renewable future continues to grow, many of the 100% RE commitments are being pursued on a path that is much more status quo than transformational. These companies are erroneously seeking to receive similar recognition as did the more impactful leadership of Apple, Google, Facebook, and others in the marketplace for being green. Shortcuts threaten to undermine the high impact efforts set by leaders within the sector, reducing pressure on utilities to shift their investment to bring new renewable energy onto the grid and creating a longer path toward a brighter and more sustainable future.

    With this year’s update, we have expanded our analysis to look at the performance of East Asian internet giants such as Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and Naver, who are now positioning to expand to the global level. But the lack of access to a renewable energy from monopoly utilities is a major obstacle toward creating a renewably powered internet in this region. Without key policy changes, the rapid growth of the internet in East Asia will likely be powered by coal and other dirty sources of electricity.

    A fully renewably powered internet will not happen overnight, but for sector companies to adopt a 100% renewable commitment is an important first step. This commitment must be matched with deeds that also show true leadership, taking successive steps in the same direction. While important progress has been made in driving renewable energy investment in several markets, the dramatic increase in the number of data centers in markets such as Virginia, dominated by utilities that have little to no renewable energy, is driving a similarly dramatic increase in the consumption of coal and natural gas.

    In these markets, a much greater focus on advocacy is needed to overcome the entrenched political power of the utilities and create a pathway for the rapid adoption of renewables. This is particularly true in the United States following the election of Donald Trump, who has promised to roll back climate policies and revive the use of coal. Sustained and vocal advocacy by corporations, who recognize the ecological and economic imperative for an aggressive transition to renewable sources of electricity, has never been more important in the United States.

    Given the critical importance of corporate advocacy for climate and renewable energy policies, we have adjusted our evaluation criteria to give increased attention to the advocacy efforts of companies. We have witnessed leaders such as Google, Apple, Facebook, eBay, and now Switch using their influence to push vendors, utilities, and governments to create access to renewable energy where previously there was none.

    A similar but far more limited effort has started among Korean internet companies Samsung SDS and Kakao, who have also begun to push for access to renewable energy. Building the bridge to a sustainable supply of renewable electricity must become a core priority for the rest of the sector. Renewable energy advocacy must be as important as or even more important than current company advocacy efforts around privacy, government surveillance, or reduction of tax burdens.

    Key Findings

    -Apple retains its leadership spot for the third year in a row among platform operators. Both Apple and Google continue to lead the sector in matching their growth with an equivalent or larger supply of renewable energy, and both companies continue to use their influence to push governments as well as their utility and IT sector vendors to increase access to renewable energy for their operations.

    -Switch, new to the Clicking Clean report this year, scored among the highest for any class of company and is the definitive leader among colocation operators for its efforts to transition its data center fleet to renewables as fast as possible through a combination of renewable energy procurement and aggressive advocacy.

    -Major internet companies’ leadership has been a catalyst in driving a broader set of corporations to adopt 100% renewable goals, contributing to a dramatic increase in renewable deals in the U.S. signed directly by corporations, totally 3.4GW of renewable deals signed in 2015, with over two-thirds of this power from renewable deals by IT companies.

    -Cloud computing market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) took some important steps in the past year, including promising leadership in supporting clean energy policy. But given AWS’s continued lack of transparency and its rapid growth in Virginia and other markets largely served by dirty energy, it remains unclear whether the AWS cloud is actually on a path to becoming renewably powered.

    -Video streaming is a tremendous driver of data demand, with 63% of global internet traffic in 2015, and is projected to reach 80% by 2020.7 Netflix alone already accounts for over one-third of internet traffic in North America8 and is in the midst of a worldwide expansion.

    -The transition to the cloud could in fact increase the demand for coal and other fossil fuels despite significant gains in energy efficiency and adoption of a commitment to 100% renewable energy because of the dramatic growth in new data center construction by cloud and colocation companies such as AWS and Digital Realty in Virginia and other hot spots that have some of the lowest percentages of renewable electricity in the U.S.

    -Faced with a lack of access to renewables in monopoly markets, there are increasing signs that some companies are resorting to status quo shortcuts to reach their claims of being renewably powered, increasing the demand for dirty energy and undermining the continued leadership and momentum of market leaders who are legitimately driving additional renewable investment. (see Shortcuts, page 39)

    -The continued lack of transparency by many companies regarding their energy demand and the supply of electricity powering their data centers remains a significant threat to the sector’s long-term sustainability. The least transparent companies such as AWS, Tencent, LG CNS, and Baidu are also among the most dominant in their respective markets, making their lack of movement toward more transparency even more egregious.

    -Advocacy for renewable energy is still sorely needed in South Korea, where utility monopolies dominate the energy market, and almost all power comes from fossil fuels. However, progress is being made in Gangwon Province, where the provincial government recently decided to build the first 100% renewably powered data center complex in Chuncheon City, thanks to the growing demand for and public support of renewable energy from the major IT companies in Korea…

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