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NewEnergyNews

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

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Study Shows Solar Is NOT Going Just To The Rich
  • QUICK NEWS, June 18: Buying A Home In A Time Of Climate Change; New Reasons To Buy New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: There Is No ‘New Ice Age’
  • Weekend Video: Talking Offshore Wind
  • Weekend Video: The Stuff Of Tomorrow’s New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Are Climate Change Denial And Racism Connected?
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Around The World, New Energy Is Booming
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EVs To Boost India Power Delivery
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, June 14:

  • TTTA Thursday-Cut Premature Births By Closing Coal
  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. Ocean Wind Gets Stronger
  • TTTA Thursday-Nothing Can Hold Solar Back
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Join or die: How utilities are coping with 100% renewable energy goals
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, July 19:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy – A Global Overview
  • QUICK NEWS, June 19: Things To Do About Climate Change; Why Customer Choice

    Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy – A Global Overview

    Renewables 2018 Global Status Report; A comprehensive annual overview of the state of renewable energy.

    June 3, 2018 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the Twenty-First Century)

    Executive Summary

    01 GLOBAL OVERVIEW

    Positive developments show that the renewable energy transition is possible, but advances so far are uneven across sectors. The year 2017 was another record-breaking one for renewable energy, characterised by the largest ever increase in renewable power capacity, falling costs, increases in investment and advances in enabling technologies. Many developments during the year impacted the deployment of renewable energy, including the lowest-ever bids for renewable power in tenders throughout the world, a significant increase in attention to electrification of transport, increasing digitalisation, jurisdictions pledging to become coal-free, new policies and partnerships on carbon pricing, and new initiatives and goals set by groups of governments at all levels.

    Increasingly, sub-national governments are becoming leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. At the same time, many developing and emerging countries are expanding their deployment of and investment in renewables and related infrastructure. The private sector is also increasingly playing a role in driving the deployment of renewable energy through its procurement and investment decisions.

    As of 2016, renewable energy accounted for an estimated 18.2% of global total final energy consumption, with modern renewables representing 10.4%. The number of countries with renewable energy targets and support policies increased again in 2017, and several jurisdictions made their existing targets more ambitious.

    Strong growth continued in the renewable power sector, while other renewable sectors grew very slowly. Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installations were remarkable – nearly double those of wind power (in second place) – adding more net capacity than coal, natural gas and nuclear power combined.

    In the transport sector, the use of biofuels is still held back by sustainability debates, policy uncertainty and slow technological progress in advanced fuels, such as for aviation. Similarly, renewable heating and coolingi continues to lag behind. Both sectors receive much less attention from policy makers than does renewable power generation. However, lack of policy attention does not reflect relative importance, as heating and cooling account for 48% of final energy use, transport for 32% and electricity for 20%.

    The interconnection of power, heating and cooling, and transport in order to integrate higher shares of renewable energy gained increased attention during the year, in particular the electrification of both heating and transport.

    HEATING AND COOLING

    There is slow progress in renewable energy uptake in heating and cooling. Modern renewable energy supplied approximately 10.3% of total global energy consumption for heat in 2015. Another 16.4% was supplied by traditional biomass, predominantly for cooking and heating in the developing world. While additional bio-heat, geothermal direct use and solar thermal capacities were added, growth was very slow.

    Energy demand for cooling is growing rapidly, and access to cooling is an issue for health and well-being. Renewables currently play a small role in providing cooling services, although there is considerable potential.

    TRANSPORT

    Renewable energy progress in the transport sector remains slow. Biofuels provide most of the current renewable energy contribution, although electrification is gaining attention. The renewable energy share of transport continues to be low (3.1%), with more than 90% provided by liquid biofuels.

    Electrification of the transport sector expanded in 2017 – with electric vehicles (EVs) exceeding 1% of global light vehicle sales – and a number of countries announced plans to phase out sales of petrol and diesel vehicles. There are signs that the shipping and aviation sectors also may become open to electrification. Further electrification of the transport sector has the potential to create a new market for renewable energy and to facilitate the integration of higher shares of variable renewable energy, provided that the policy and market settings are suitable.

    POWER

    The electricity transition is well under way, due mostly to increases in installed capacity and in the cost-competitiveness of solar PV and wind power. Renewable power generating capacity saw its largest annual increase ever in 2017, raising total capacity by almost 9% over 2016. Overall, renewables accounted for an estimated 70% of net additions to global power capacity in 2017, due in large part to continued improvements in the cost-competitiveness of solar PV and wind power.

    Solar PV led the way, accounting for nearly 55% of newly installed renewable power capacity in 2017. More solar PV capacity was added than the net additions of fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. Wind (29%) and hydropower (11%) accounted for most of the remaining capacity additions. Several countries are successfully integrating increasingly larger shares of variable renewable power into electricity systems.

    Renewable-based stand-alone and off-grid single home or mini-grid systems represented about 6% of new electricity connections worldwide between 2012 and 2016…

    02 POLICY LANDSCAPE

    Renewable energy policies and targets remain focused on the power sector, with support for heating and cooling and transport still lagging. Renewable energy continues to attract the attention of policy makers worldwide. Renewable technologies for power generation, heating and cooling, and transport are considered key tools for advancing multiple policy objectives, including boosting national energy security and economic growth, creating jobs, developing new industries, reducing emissions and local pollution, and providing affordable and reliable energy for all citizens.

    Many historical policy trends remained unchanged in 2017. The growth of renewable energy around the world continues to be spurred by a combination of targeted public policy and advances in energy technologies. Direct policy support for renewable energy once again focused primarily on power generation, with support for renewable technologies lagging in the heating and cooling and transport sectors.

    Policies coupling the thermal (heating and cooling), transport and power sectors – and policies increasing the linkages between renewable energy and energy efficiency – continue to emerge slowly. New cross-sectoral integrated policies were introduced in 2017 in several countries, including Indonesia and Switzerland. Renewable energy and energy efficiency also are being advanced in some cases by climate change policies, including under commitments to achieve net-zero emissions or through specific mechanisms such as carbon taxes, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and emissions trading schemes. In 2017, China launched the world’s largest emissions trading scheme, with the first phase of the new cap-and-trade programme focusing on the country’s power sector.

    Targets remain one of the primary means for policy makers to express their commitment to renewable energy deployment. Targets are enacted for economy-wide energy development as well as for specific sectors. As of year-end 2017, targets for the renewable share of primary and final energy were in place in 87 countries, while sector-specific targets for renewable power were in place in 146 countries, for renewable heating and cooling in 48 countries, and for renewable transport in 42 countries.

    POLICIES FOR HEATING AND COOLING…POLICIES FOR TRANSPORT…POLICIES FOR ELECTRICITY…RENEWABLES INTEGRATION, SECTOR COUPLING AND SYSTEM-WIDE ENERGY TRANSFORMATION POLICIES

    03 MARKET AND INDUSTRY TRENDS

    BIOENERGY

    Modern use of bioenergy for heating is growing slowly due to a lack of policy attention and to low fossil fuel prices.Bioenergy is the largest renewable contributor to global final energy demand, providing nearly 13% of the total. The traditional use of biomass in developing countries (for cooking and heating) accounts for almost 8% of this, and modern use for the other 5%. Modern bioenergy provides about 4% of heat demand in buildings and 6% in industry, as well as some 2% of global electricity generation and 3% of transport needs.

    Growth in modern use of bioenergy for heating has been relatively slow in recent years (below 2% annually) due to a lack of policy attention and to low fossil fuel prices. The electricity sector has seen more rapid growth, with generation from biomass increasing 11% in 2017. China overtook the United States as the largest producer of bioelectricity during the year.

    Production of biofuels for transport increased 2.5% in 2017. The United States and Brazil remained the world’s largest producers of ethanol and biodiesel. The production and use of new transport fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) have grown significantly over the last five years, and in 2017 HVO accounted for about 6% of total biofuel production by energy content. Progress also is being made in developing the technologies needed to produce advanced biofuels for aviation use, for example.

    GEOTHERMAL POWER AND HEAT

    Technology innovation is addressing sector-specific challenges in the geothermal industry. An estimated 0.7 gigawatts (GW) of new geothermal power capacity came online in 2017, bringing the global total to around 12.8 GW. Indonesia and Turkey accounted for three-fourths of new capacity; installations also came online in Chile, Iceland, Honduras, Mexico, the United States, Japan, Portugal and Hungary.

    Geothermal direct use (direct thermal extraction for heating and cooling) increased by an estimated 1.4 gigawatts-thermal (GWth) of capacity to an estimated global total of 25 GWth. Space heating continued to be one of the largest and fastest growing sectors, with several new projects feeding into district heat systems in Europe and China, in particular.

    The geothermal industry remained constrained by various sector-specific challenges, such as long project lead-times and high resource risk, but technology innovation to address such challenges continued during 2017. The industry is focused on advancing technologies to reduce development risk and to cost-effectively tap geothermal resources in more locations, as well as to reduce the potential environmental consequences.

    HYDROPOWER

    Hydropower industry prioritises sustainability, modernisation and digitalisation of facilities. Global additions to hydropower capacity in 2017 were an estimated 19 GW, bringing total capacity to approximately 1,114 GW. While significant, this is the smallest annual increment seen over the last five years. China remained the perennial leader in commissioning new hydropower capacity, accounting for nearly 40% of new installations in 2017, and was followed by Brazil, India, Angola and Turkey. Other countries that added significant capacity included Iran, Vietnam, the Russian Federation and Sudan.

    Pumped storage is the dominant source of large-scale energy storage, accounting for an estimated 96% of global energy storage capacity. Global pumped storage capacity rose by more than 3 GW in 2017, for an estimated year-end total of 153 GW.

    Among the priorities of the hydropower industry in 2017 were continued advances towards more sustainable development of hydropower resources, increased climate change resilience, and ongoing modernisation efforts and digitalisation of existing and new facilities.

    OCEAN ENERGY

    Industry’s optimism and development efforts bring ocean energy closer to commercialisation. Of the approximately 529 megawatts (MW) of operating ocean energy capacity at the end of 2017, more than 90% was represented by two tidal barrage facilities. Ocean energy technologies deployed in open waters (excluding tidal barrage) had a good year, as tidal stream and wave energy saw new capacity come online, much of it in the waters of Scotland.

    Optimism prevailed in the industry in 2017, particularly in Europe, where some technologies advanced enough to be on the brink of commercialisation. The industry started constructing its first manufacturing plants, promising greater production scale and cost reductions. Government support of ocean energy, through direct funding and through research and infrastructure support, remains a critical element in ongoing development.

    SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAICS (PV)

    New solar PV installations surpassed net additions of fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. Solar PV was the top source of new power generating capacity in 2017, due largely to strong growth in China, with more solar PV installed globally than the net additions of fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. Global capacity increased nearly one-third, to approximately 402 GWdc.

    Although solar PV capacity is concentrated in a short list of countries, by year’s end every continent had installed at least 1 GW of capacity, and at least 29 countries had 1 GW or more. Solar PV is playing an increasingly important role in electricity generation, accounting for over 10% of generation in Honduras in 2017 and for significant shares in Italy, Greece, Germany and Japan.

    Globally, market expansion is due largely to the increasing competitiveness of solar PV, combined with growing demand for electricity in developing countries and rising awareness of the technology’s potential to alleviate pollution, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and provide energy access. Nevertheless, most global demand continues to be driven largely by government policy.

    The year 2017 saw record-low auction prices driven by intense competition, thinning margins for manufacturers and developers alike, and continued consolidation in the industry. The drive to increase efficiencies and reduce energy costs has pushed innovations in manufacturing and product performance. Even as falling prices have challenged many existing solar PV companies, low and predictable energy prices offered by solar PV, along with expanding markets, are luring new participants to the industry, including oil and gas companies.

    CONCENTRATING SOLAR THERMAL POWER

    CSP plants with thermal energy storage emerge as a viable competitor to fossil fuel thermal power plants. Global concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) capacity reached 4.9 GW in 2017, with South Africa being the only country to bring new CSP capacity online (100 MW). However, at year’s end about 2 GW of new plants was under construction; China (300 MW being built) and Morocco (350 MW) were particularly active. An estimated 13 gigawatt-hours of thermal energy storage (TES) was operational, and most new plants are incorporating TES.

    Spain remained the global leader in existing CSP capacity – followed by the United States – with Spanish CSP plants achieving record electricity generation in 2017. The year also saw record low CSP tariffs being bid and/or awarded in competitive tenders in Australia, Chile and the United Arab Emirates, where a 700 MW CSP tender was awarded. CSP with TES emerged as a viable competitor to fossil fuel thermal power plants. Price reductions were driven by competition as well as by technology cost reductions aided by ongoing research and development activity in the sector.

    SOLAR THERMAL HEATING AND COOLING

    Solar heat for industrial processes had a record year, and use in district energy systems advanced. An estimated 35 GWth of new solar thermal capacity was commissioned in 2017, increasing total global capacity 4% to around 472 GWthi. China again led for new installations, followed by Turkey, India, Brazil and the United States.

    Driven by government support, solar district heating advanced in an increasing number of countries, with the first large-scale installations coming online in Australia, France, the Kyrgyz Republic and Serbia. By year’s end, an estimated 296 large-scale solar thermal systems were connected to heating networks.

    The year also saw records for new solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP) installations, driven by economic competitiveness, a strong supply chain and policies to reduce air pollution. At least 110 such systems (totalling 135 MWth) started operation globally, raising the world total by 21%. Concentrating collector technologies played an increasing role in providing space heating and industrial heat, with Oman, China, Italy, India and Mexico being the largest markets.

    For the first time since the peak years of 2011-2012, new manufacturing capacity was constructed for flat plate and concentrating collectors. To make up for continued declines in their home markets, several European manufacturers increased their export volumes, supplying new emerging markets in North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

    WIND POWER

    Prices fell rapidly for both onshore and offshore wind power, and the offshore sector had its best year yet. The year 2017 brought tumbling bid prices for both onshore and offshore wind power capacity in auctions around the world. Bid prices were down due to technology innovation and scale, expectations of continued technology advances, reduced financing costs due to lower perceived risk, and fierce competition in the industry. Electric utilities and large oil and gas companies continued to move further into the industry.

    Wind power had its third strongest year ever, with more than 52 GW added (about 4% less than in 2016) for a total of 539 GW. China saw installations decline for the second year running, while Europe and India had record years.

    In some of the largest wind power markets, strong growth was driven by looming regulatory changes; elsewhere, wind energy’s cost-competitiveness and its potential environmental and developmental benefits drove deployment. Rapidly falling prices for wind power have made it the least-cost option for new power capacity in a large and growing number of countries.

    The offshore wind sector had its best year yet, as total capacity increased 30%. China’s offshore market started to take off in 2017, and the world’s first commercial floating project was commissioned in Scotland. The sizes of turbines and projects continued to increase, and several manufacturers announced plans to produce machines of 10 MW and larger.

    At least 13 countries – including Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Uruguay, and several countries in Europe – met 10% or more of their electricity consumption with wind power during 2017…

    04 DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES FOR ENERGY ACCESS

    Distributed renewables for energy access (DREA) systems are increasingly being considered as a solution to achieve energy access goals. Approximately 1.06 billion people (about 14% of the global population) live without electricity, and about 2.8 billion people (38% of the global population) are without clean cooking facilities. The vast majority of people without access to both electricity and clean cooking are in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, and most of them live in rural regions.

    DREA systems are increasingly being considered as a solution to achieve energy access goals through the deployment of off-grid solar systems and renewable-based mini-grids, and through the distribution of clean cook stoves. Off-grid solar systems, and in particular those commercialised through the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) business model, were the most significant technology in the sector, providing electricity access to more than 360 million people worldwide. In 2017, although the sales of off-grid solar systems decreased in the two main regional markets of East Africa and South Asia, markets in Central Africa, East Asia and the Pacific were growing rapidly. An increasing number of private mini-grid developers are actively testing a range of business models and helping to move the mini-grids sector to maturity. In India alone, an estimated 206 mini-grid systems were installed during 2016-2017.

    Investment continued to flow to PAYG companies – with an estimated USD 263 million raised in 2017 – although investment in off-grid solar companies as a whole decreased 10% from 2016 to 2017. Investment in clean cook stove companies fell in 2016 to its lowest level since 2012 (USD 18.1 million), highlighting the need for more effort to raise funds in the sector.

    A growing trend in 2017 was the establishment of partnerships between multinationals, local businesses and/or governments to deploy DREA systems to meet energy access targets. The year also saw an increasing number of national governments enhancing the enabling environment to advance DREA. Similarly, development finance institutions continued to support the sector through various programmes and initiatives.

    05 INVESTMENT FLOWS

    Global investment in renewables increased even as costs continued to fall, and developing and emerging countries extended their lead over developed countries. Global new investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydropower projects larger than 50 MW) exceeded USD 200 billion annually for the eighth year running. The investment total of USD 279.8 billioni was up 2% over 2016, despite further cost reductions for wind and solar power technologies. Including investments in hydropower projects larger than 50 MW, total new investment in renewable power and fuels was at least USD 310 billion in 2017.

    Dollar investment in new renewable power capacity (including all hydropower) was three times the investment in fossil fuel generating capacity, and more than double the investment in fossil fuel and nuclear power generation combined.

    Investment in renewable energy continued to focus on solar power, particularly solar PV, which increased its lead over wind power in 2017. Asset finance of utility-scaleii projects, such as wind farms and solar parks, dominated investment during the year at USD 216.1 billion. Small-scale solar PV installations (less than 1 MW) saw an investment increase of 15%, to USD 49.4 billion.

    Developing and emerging economies overtook developed countries in renewable energy investment for the first time in 2015 and extended their lead in 2017, accounting for a record 63% of the global total, due largely to China. Investment in developing and emerging countries increased 20% to USD 177 billion, while that of developed countries fell 19% to USD 103 billion. China accounted for a record 45% of global investment in renewables (excluding hydropower larger than 50 MW), up from 35% in 2016, followed by Europe (15%), the United States (14%) and Asia-Oceania (excluding China and India; 11%). Smaller shares were seen in the Americas (excluding Brazil and the United States, 5%), India (4%), the Middle East and Africa (4%) and Brazil (2%)…

    06 ENERGY SYSTEMS INTEGRATION AND ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES

    Energy systems are adapting to rising shares of renewable energy. With rising penetration of renewable energy – whether variable renewable energy (VRE; wind and solar power), thermal energy or gaseous and liquid fuels – there are challenges to integrating it into existing energy systems. The penetration of modern renewable energy is highest in the electricity sector, where many countries already are successfully integrating high shares of VRE. At least 10 countries generated 15% or more of their electricity with solar PV and wind power in 2017, and many had far higher short-term shares.

    Power systems are adjusting to better accommodate rising shares of VRE by increasing system flexibility. Utilities and system operators also are adjusting their operations, adding energy storage and digitising systems to help integrate VRE. At the same time, renewables are evolving to improve the ease of integration, and state-of-the-art solar PV and wind energy generators can provide a variety of relevant system services to stabilise the power grid.

    Several technologies – including energy storage, heat pumps and electric vehicles – have evolved in parallel with renewable energy and are now helping to integrate VRE into the electricity sector and to facilitate the coupling of renewable power with the thermal and transport sectors.

    Energy storage, mainly in the form of pumped storage, has been used for decades to support grid reliability, increase infrastructure resilience and for other purposes; increasingly, it is being used in conjunction with renewable energy technologies. During 2017, at least 3.5 GW of utility-scale storage capacity was commissioned. Residential and commercial electricity storage capacity also grew rapidly in some countries, particularly in combination with solar PV. The year saw continued technology advances and cost reductions, the diversification of renewable energy and other companies into the storage industry, and increasing linkages with VRE.

    Heat pump markets continued to expand, driven by policies to mitigate air pollution (particularly in China) and to advance opportunities to use renewable electricity for heating and cooling (particularly in Europe). Heat pumps have the potential to help balance the electrical system by shifting loads and reducing VRE curtailment, using (surplus) solar and wind power to meet heating and cooling demand. Manufacturers continued to pursue acquisitions to gain access to new markets and know-how, and to increase their market share.

    Electrification of the transport sector gained increasing attention in 2017, and could enable greater integration of renewable electricity. Global sales of electric passenger cars increased 58% over 2016, and more than 3 million of them were traveling the world’s roads by year’s end. The passenger car market remained a small share (1.3%) of total passenger vehicle sales and was eclipsed by two- and three-wheeled EVs. Use of electric buses also increased, with an estimated 386,000 in service (mostly in China). In several countries, utilities are playing a significant role in expanding EV charging points and, along with vehicle manufacturers and others, continue working to advance the synergies between EVs and VRE.

    07 ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    The importance of energy efficiency is increasingly recognised internationally, while global energy intensity continues to fall. Dialogue at the international level has begun to recognise the importance of integrating energy efficiency and renewable energy. International organisations, global campaigns and a host of other actors are increasingly raising awareness and encouraging policy makers to consider the two in concert. As a result, policies have emerged in recent years that attempt to link renewables and energy efficiency.

    In 2016, global gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3%, whereas energy demand increased only 1.1%. However, countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) continue to see increasing energy use alongside growing GDP, while OECD countries, as a whole, do not.

    The decline in energy demand per unit of economic output has been made possible by a combination of supply- and demand-side focused policies and mechanisms as well as structural changes. These include: the expansion, strengthening and long-lasting impact of energy efficiency standards for appliances, buildings and industries; improved fuel efficiency standards and, more recently, the growing deployment of EVs – especially when supplied by renewable energy sources; fuel switching to less carbon-intensive alternatives, including renewables; and structural changes in industry, including a transition towards less energy-intensive and more service-oriented industries.

    08 FEATURE: CORPORATE SOURCING OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

    Corporate sourcing of renewable energy continued to increase and spread to new regions. Corporations began sourcing renewable energy in the mid-2000s to meet their own environmental and social objectives and to address the growing demand for corporate sustainability from investors and consumers. More recently, renewables have become attractive energy sources in their own right, providing cost-competitive energy, long-term price stability and security of supply, among other benefits…

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    QUICK NEWS, June 19: Things To Do About Climate Change; Why Customer Choice

    Things To Do About Climate Change 9 ways to make a difference on climate change

    June 18, 2018 (Omaha World-Herald)

    “Carbon dioxide is the climate’s worst enemy…By using less of it, we can curb our own contribution to climate change while also saving money…[9 ways to do that are: 1.Power your home with renewable energy…2. Weatherize your house…3. Invest in energy-efficient appliances…[4. Reduce water waste] because it takes a lot of energy to pump, heat and treat your water…5. Eat the food you buy. About 10 percent of U.S. energy use goes into growing, processing, packaging and shipping food…[6.] LED light bulbs use up to 80 percent less energy than conventional incandescents. They’re also cheaper in the long run…[7. Don’t leave fully charged devices plugged into outlets…8. Consider driving a fuel-efficient vehicle…[9. If all Americans kept their tires properly inflated, we could save 1.2 billion gallons of gas each year…A simple tune-up can boost miles per gallon anywhere from 4 percent to 40 percent, and a new air filter can get you a 10 percent boost.” Another good set of solutions (click here for more)

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    Why Customer Choice Community choice to determine California’s energy future

    Nick Chaset, June 13, 2018 (San Francisco Chronicle)

    “…[T]he California Public Utilities Commission found the customer choice movement could lead to serious challenges] for California’s electricity system…[Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs)} are public agencies that contract for cleaner, low-cost electric supply delivered to you by utilities…The CPUC report asks important questions…[but] CCAs are a critical part of the solution for California’s challenges…[S ince their formation in 2007, CCAs have gained the ability to power 300,000 homes with 100 percent renewable energy…By the end of 2018, CCAs will be operating in 18 counties…

    …[CCAs] serve high-poverty communities at the same rate as the investor-owned utilities…Every operating CCA in California is governed by a board of local elected officials…Many have set stringent climate-action goals…The local governance model helps to ensure that our procurement, rates and programs are designed to meet the specific demands of each community, instead of relying on the one-size-fits-all approach of the investor-owned utility model…[All CCAs are overseen by state agencies and] must submit plans to the commission to ensure that they meet reliability and emissions reductions goals for all of California…Consumers deserve more choice through innovative community programs, renewable options and local control…” click here for more

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    Monday, June 18, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Study Shows Solar Is NOT Going Just To The Rich

    Income Trends of Residential PV Adopters: An analysis of household-level income estimates

    Galen L Barbose, Naïm R Darghouth, Ben Hoen, Ryan H Wiser, April 2018 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Abstract

    The residential photovoltaic (PV) market has expanded rapidly over the past decade, but questions exist about how equitably that growth has occurred across income groups. Prior studies have investigated this question but are often limited by narrow geographic study regions, now-dated analysis timeframes, or coarse estimates of PV-adopter incomes. At the same time, a spate of new programs and initiatives, as well as innovations in business models and product design, have emerged in recent years with the aim of making solar more accessible and affordable to broader segments of the population. Yet, many of those efforts are proceeding without robust underlying information about the income characteristics of recent residential PV adopters. This work aims to establish basic factual information about income trends among U.S. residential solar adopters, with some emphasis on low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. The analysis is unique in its relatively extensive coverage of the U.S. solar market, relying on Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun dataset, which contains project-level data for the vast majority of all residential PV systems in the country (a subset of which are ultimately included in the analysis sample). This analysis is also unique in its use of household-level income estimates that provide a more-precise characterization of PV-adopter incomes than in most prior studies.

    Executive Summary

    Introduction

    The residential photovoltaic (PV) market has expanded rapidly over the past decade, but questions exist about how equitably that growth has occurred across income groups. Prior studies have investigated this question, but are often limited by narrow geographic study regions, now-dated analysis timeframes, or coarse estimates of PV-adopter incomes. At the same time, a spate of new programs and initiatives, as well as innovations in business models and product design, have emerged in recent years with the aim of making solar more accessible and affordable to broader segments of the population. Yet, many of those efforts are proceeding without robust underlying information about the income characteristics of recent residential PV adopters.

    This work aims to establish basic factual information about income trends among U.S. residential solar adopters, with some emphasis on low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. The analysis is unique in its relatively extensive coverage of the U.S. solar market, relying on Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun dataset, which contains project-level data for the vast majority of all residential PV systems in the country (a subset of which are ultimately included in the analysis sample). This analysis is also unique in its use of household-level income estimates that provide a more-precise characterization of PV-adopter incomes than in most prior studies.

    Several items regarding the study scope and potential future extensions deserve note. First, the focus of this analysis is on residential rooftop PV, but later work may examine multi-family homes and community solar subscribers, both particularly relevant to LMI households. Second, the sample frame for this study is based on the most-recent edition of the Tracking the Sun dataset, which includes systems installed through 2016, and covers the 13 states for which street-address data are available for a large fraction of the market. Later work may update and extend the analysis to additional states and more-recent years. Finally, the emphasis of the present study is on simply establishing basic descriptive trends, without necessarily seeking comprehensive explanations, but future work may more directly explore potential causal factors for the trends described here…

    Key Findings

    We describe income trends of residential PV adopters using several different metrics and methods, beginning first with a comparison of median incomes between PV adopters and other households (HHs). We then describe the overall income distribution of PV adopters relative to the income distribution of the broader population in each state, and present trends relying on several commonly used national income benchmarks for low-income and middle-class households. Finally, we compare PV adoption rates for LMI HHs to overall adoption rates in each state, and also compare PV system characteristics between LMI and non-LMI adopters. Following the convention used in many LMI-oriented programs, we classify HHs as LMI based on their income relative to the Area Median Income (AMI). The AMI is defined for each Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or, in the case of rural areas, for each county. Adoption rates are calculated as the number of PV adopters divided by the number of applicable HHs in a given region.

    The median income of PV adopters is notably higher than other households, but the differences are much smaller when compared to just owner-occupied households.

    In aggregate across all states and years in our sample, the median income of PV adopters is $32k higher than for all HHs ($92k vs. $60k), as shown in Figure 1. Among each of the 13 individual states in the sample, PV-adopter median incomes are also consistently higher (typically by $20-$30k) than the statewide medians for all HHs; those comparisons are presented in the full report.

    Much of the disparity in median incomes relative to all HHs can be attributed to home ownership, as residential rooftop PV adopters are effectively all homeowners, which tend to have relatively high incomes compared to the population at large. When comparing to just owner-occupied households (OOHHs), the median income of all PV adopters in the sample is still higher, though by a significantly smaller margin ($13k). Across individual states, the disparity between PV-adopter median incomes and all OO-HHs varies considerably, with the greatest gaps in states with low income levels overall and smaller gaps in states with high incomes (see full report for supporting figure). In fact, in the three highest-income states in the sample (CT, DC, and MA), the relationship is inverted, with PV-adopter median incomes that are actually lower than the median for all OO-HHs. This occurs for the simple reason that in higher income states, a larger fraction of HHs below the median can afford PV.

    PV adoption has been trending towards more moderate income HHs in recent years.

    Prior to 2010, PV adoption became increasingly skewed over time toward higher income HHs. However, since 2010, adoption has steadily trended in the opposite direction, toward more-moderate income HHs. This is evident in Figure 2, which shows median incomes for PV adopters declining from $100k in 2010 (27% above all OO-HHs) to $87k in 2016 (10% above all OO-HHs). The same set of trends are exhibited in most individual states as well. By 2016, the four highest-income states (CA, CT, DC, and MA) had reached “income parity”, with median incomes of PV adopters in that year equal to or below the median for all OO-HHs. This general trend in PV adoption toward more-moderate income HHs likely reflects a combination of factors: continued PV cost declines, the growth of third-party ownership, recent efforts by public agencies and solar firms to specifically target LMI customers, and a general maturing of solar markets with greater consumer awareness and a larger number of firms seeking to expand their customer base.

    Even if under-represented, “moderate-income” households nevertheless constitute a sizeable share of PV adopters.

    No standard definition exists for “moderate income”. As one measure, Figure 3 shows that 43% of all PV adopters in the analysis sample fall within the bottom three income quintiles (i.e., the 60% of HHs, including both home-owners and renters, with the lowest incomes in each state). Within each of the 13 individual states, the share of adopters in the bottom three income quintiles ranges from 33%-50%, and consistent with the previously noted trend, those percentages have generally been rising over time. Another relevant benchmark is Pew Research Center’s definition of “middle class”, consisting of HHs with incomes ranging from 67%-200% of the U.S. median. Among all PV adopters in our sample, 48% fall within that range (47%-60% across individual states). Even low-income groups are seemingly represented, with 15% of all PV adopters in the sample below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), a common benchmark used in low-income programs. Note, though, that some questions exist about the accuracy of the PV-adopter income estimates at the lowest end of the spectrum, as discussed further in the full report.

    Cross-state differences in PV-adopter income trends, such as the metrics in Figure 3, are driven in part by more-general income variation across states. For example, in states with relatively high incomes (toward the left in the figure), income quintiles are shifted upward in absolute dollar terms; HHs in the bottom three quintiles are thus more likely to be able to afford PV. At the same time, a smaller fraction of the overall population in high-income states falls within Pew’s middle class definition and below 200% of the FPL; the fraction of PV adopters in those income ranges is thus also smaller. The converse is true for states with lower overall income levels (to the right in figure). Other cross-state differences in PV-adopter income trends may be driven by policy and market factors, though those issues are outside the scope of the present analysis.

    PV adoption rates by LMI customers lag behind the broader market, though the disparity is smaller when focusing just on owner-occupied households and recent installations.

    In aggregate across all states in our sample, roughly 2.2% of all HHs had installed a PV system by the end of 2016, as shown in the left-hand panel of Figure 4. By comparison, cumulative PV adoption rates among LMI households through 2016 range from 0.9%- 1.5%, depending on the AMI threshold used to define LMI (state programs tend to use thresholds ranging anywhere from 60% to 120% of AMI). If focused exclusively on PV adoption among OO-HHs, the gap in adoption rates persists but is appreciably smaller. This is due to the lower rates of home-ownership among LMI customers, and the fact that home-ownership is effectively a precondition for residential rooftop PV.

    Similarly, the gap in adoption rates is smaller when comparing just annual adoption rates in 2016, given recent trends in PV adoption toward more-moderate income HHs. Using an LMI threshold equal to 100% of AMI, for example, 0.79% of LMI OO-HHs across the full set of states in the sample installed a PV system in 2016, compared to 0.94% of all OO-HHs (i.e., an LMI adoption rate equal to 83% of the statewide adoption rate). Among individual states, the annual adoption rate among LMI OO-HHs in 2016 varied widely, but generally ranged from 70-90% of the corresponding statewide annual adoption rate. In general, this lag in LMI adoption rates is less acute in those states with higher overall incomes, as LMI HHs in those states have higher incomes in absolute dollar terms.

    LMI PV systems tend to be somewhat smaller and more likely to be third-party owned than non-LMI PV systems.

    Figure 6 compares PV system characteristics for LMI and non-LMI HHs, based on 2016 installations, and again using an LMI threshold equal to 100% of AMI. Though some of the PV system characteristics exhibit no discernible difference between LMI and non-LMI HHs, two characteristics do show a clear trend. The first is that PV systems for LMI HHs are notably smaller, with a median size of 5.4 kW compared to 6.2 kW for non-LMI HHs. This difference may be attributable to several factors: LMI HHs are more financially constrained and thus opt for smaller, lower-cost systems; LMI HHs may also have smaller roofs and/or less electricity consumption to offset. Given these differences in system size, it is perhaps noteworthy that median system prices are effectively identical between LMI and non-LMI HHs, as one might otherwise expect the smaller systems typical of LMI HHs to be more expensive on a per-watt basis. The other notable contrast in Figure 6 is the higher rate of third-party ownership (TPO) among LMI HHs (57%, compared to 48% for non-LMI HHs). This may reflect greater cash constraints among LMI HHs, fewer alternative financing vehicles, and/or less ability to monetize tax benefits compared to wealthier HHs. It is nonetheless somewhat surprising, given the oft-stated concern that lower-income HHs may have more difficulty qualifying for TPO contracts, given a presumption that these HHs have lower credit scores.

    Conclusions

    The findings presented here point towards several broad conclusions and areas for further exploration:

    • The choice of data and metrics clearly matter. For example, using household-level data, as this study does, avoids the bias associated with block-group or zip-code level income statistics (when applied to PV-adopters), thereby yielding a more-accurate characterization of PV-adopter income trends. Household-level data are also essential for detecting trends among the tails of the income distribution (e.g., for low-income customers). As also demonstrated in this analysis, the basic findings can differ dramatically depending on whether PV adopters are compared simply to all households or, in a more targeted fashion, to just owner-occupied households. Though not possible in this study, future analyses may reveal further differences by comparing just among single-family, owner-occupied households.

    • Home-ownership is a key driver for differences in PV adoption among income groups. Although the results show that PV adoption has been, and remains, consistently skewed toward higher income households, much of that skew can seemingly be attributed to higher rates of home ownership. These findings reinforce the importance of business models and programs aimed at renters (at least where expanding access to PV among LMI populations is a priority). Research into income trends among community solar subscribers could help to establish whether this particular business model, which enables access by renters, has achieved more-balanced participation across incomes.

    • PV-adopter incomes are diverse. PV adopters include households across the income spectrum. While PV adopters as a whole are higher-income than the population at large, a sizeable portion (the exact percentage depending on the specific metric) are of relatively modest means. Thus, while public and private-sector actors have good cause to ensure equity in PV access across income groups, it should not be overlooked that “moderate-income” or “middle-class” households are already a significant beneficiary of existing solar markets.

    • The income profile of residential PV adopters is dynamic and evolving. This analysis shows how PV-adopter incomes have changed over time, in different directions and rates depending on the time period and state. This has several broad implications. First, it suggests some value in periodically reassessing PV-adopter income profiles by planners and private firms interested in understanding the demographics of solar adoption. Second, it raises questions about the underlying drivers for recent trends and about how those trends may evolve going forward. This is especially pertinent given the preponderance of recent initiatives and innovations aimed at advancing PV among LMI customers, and the continued evolution in the customer-economics of and financing options for residential PV.

    • Local and regional factors impact the income characteristics of PV adopters. The study results show substantial differences in PV-adopter income characteristics across the various states in the analysis sample. Much of that variation is ostensibly a function of more-general differences in income levels across states. However, other market and policy drivers likely play a role as well, and those drivers could become more significant in the years ahead as states experiment with different programmatic and business models for advancing PV access and affordability for LMI households.

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    QUICK NEWS, June 18: Buying A Home In A Time Of Climate Change; New Reasons To Buy New Energy

    Buying A Home In A Time Of Climate Change Climate Change May Already Be Hitting the Housing Market

    Christopher Flavelle and Allison McCartney, June 18, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “…Between 2007 and 2017, average home prices in areas facing the lowest risk of flooding, hurricanes and wildfires have far outpaced those with the greatest risk…[ According to numbers from Attom Data Solutions, homes in areas most exposed to floods, hurricanes, and wildfires] were worth less last year, on average, than a decade earlier…[Home prices and sales across 3,397 cities around the country showed] the threats of climate change are beginning to register…

    “…[On average, home prices across the cities analyzed] increased 7.3 percent between 2007 and 2017. That figure masks deep drops in vulnerable areas…[The relationship between climate risk and home prices isn’t always a straight line] because home buyers have to weigh the risk of disasters against the so-called amenity value of living near water or at the edge of the forest…For example, home values in Key Biscayne, Florida were 19 percent higher in 2017 than in 2007, despite the island’s flood risk. Homes in Aromas, California, which Attom Data classifies as a very high wildfire risk, increased 43 percent…Both areas offer natural beauty that buyers have apparently concluded is worth the danger…But the data suggest those areas are becoming the exception…” click here for more

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    New Reasons To Buy New Energy What's New About Renewable Energy?

    Kevin O’Marah, June 14, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…Solar, wind and other renewables have been around for a long time, but only recently have they posed a real challenge to fossil fuel-based electricity generation worldwide…[The image of government-subsidized development of renewables is being replaced by the reality that for most locations wind and solar are the cheapest way to generate new electricity…[Renewables are beating traditional fuel sources in the marketplace for new generation capacity by more than two to one. The reason is simple, it is a better deal…Sustainability, once seen mainly as a social responsibility issue, or more optimistically, something customers wanted and would pay for, is earning its keep…Green skeptics might want to dismiss all this as politically correct posturing, but projected additions to power generating capacity in the critical growth economies of China and India as well as the European Union clearly favor solar and wind…Governmental support remains a reality…[but renewables] are steadily gaining in price/performance terms…” click here for more

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    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    There Is No ‘New Ice Age’

    The misinformed idea of a “new ice age” is actually a type of climate change denial. From greenman3610/YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

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    Talking Offshore Wind

    Avangrid Renewables CEO Laura Beane foretells the story of offhshore wind, “the next superhero…” From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

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    The Stuff Of Tomorrow’s New Energy

    Like time, innovation never stops. And here comes graphene. From via NeoScribe YouTube

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    Friday, June 15, 2018

    Are Climate Change Denial And Racism Connected?

    Racism and climate change denial: Study delves into the link

    Isabella O’Malley, June 13, 2018 (The Weather Network)

    “…Research shows that since Barack Obama’s presidency in 2008, racial identification and attitudes have increasingly spilled over into polarizing issues with divided public opinion, such as health care, and new research… [using data from Pew and American National Election Surveys] provides evidence of a 'racial spillover effect' into the climate change discourse in the United States…Racial identification and concern about climate change strengthened while Obama was president…Aggregate opinion trends indicate that the steepest decline in public concern about climate change occurred among white Americans after 2008…Increasing levels of racial resentment are strongly associated decreased belief in climate change…[This study explains that] ‘racialization’ happens when racial identities or prejudices become increasingly related to specific policies or actions…Increased partisan sorting along racial attitudes is a phenomenon that has influenced political identity for decades…While racial attitudes and resentments do not entirely explain the trend with climate change denialism, these findings can help us understand previous and current variations in climate change beliefs.” click here for more

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    Around The World, New Energy Is Booming

    10 Incredible Renewable Energy Stats From Around the Globe

    Maxx Chatsko, June 13, 2018 (Motley Fool)

    “…[T]he growth of renewable energy routinely outpaces long-term projections…To prove that a renewable future is possible sooner than many think, simply consider [these 10 incredible New Energy facts]…1. Global renewable energy capacity has doubled since 2008…2. Seven countries get all of their electricity from renewables…3. Europe could rely on renewables for 34% of its electricity by 2030…4. China installed more solar in 2017 than the U.S. has total…

    5. The U.S. is one of the most efficient renewable energy producers…6. Everything is bigger in Texas, especially wind power…7. Brazil and Canada are the two cleanest major economies…8. The world's largest utility is also one of the greenest…9. Offshore wind power is a true gamechanger…10. Major oil companies are getting serious about renewable energy…” click here for more

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    EVs To Boost India Power Delivery

    Electricity demand from Electric Vehicles to help power utilities earn $11 billion

    June 14, 2018 (Economic Times of India)

    “The overall electricity demand from large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in India is projected to touch 69.6 terawatt hours by 2030... [and increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs)] across India will be instrumental in transforming the country's power sector and reduce emissions by 40-50 per cent, helping the country in achieving carbon emissions by 40-50 per cent, helping the country in achieving carbon emission reduction targets…[T]he mass adoption of electric mobility is expected to help the power and utilities sector realise net cost and revenue benefits from both demand and supply side…[According to a Assocham and Ernst & Young study,] even if the grid continues to be coal-heavy, emissions are likely to reduce by 20-30 per cent…[It also said success of India's EV mission depends on clear policy guidelines and] development and proliferation of a domestic manufacturing ecosystem… click here for more

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    Thursday, June 14, 2018

    Cut Premature Births By Closing Coal

    Closing coal plants is reducing premature births — immediately

    Mary Anne Hitt and Vien Truong, June 7, 2018 (The Hill)

    “…[The nervous and exciting last few weeks of pregnancy are cut short for moms who give birth prematurely, and] pollution from coal and oil power plants is linked to higher rates of premature birth…[A]fter eight coal- and oil-fired power plants in California closed, the rate of premature birth for moms living nearby dropped [from 7 percent to 5.1 percent — in just one year]… The greatest improvements were for Asian American and African American moms — women who are suffering from a well-document maternal health crisis. But it doesn't have to be this way. Renewable energy is here today, powering America and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process… [The benefits in the very first year after the fossil fuel plants shut down shows] that moving beyond coal and other dirty fuels almost immediately reduces the risk…” click here for more

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    U.S. Ocean Wind Gets Stronger

    Offshore wind finally gets blowing in the US; It’s all happening.

    David Roberts, June 14, 2018 (VOX)

    “…Momentum [for U.S. offshore wind] is now gathering in earnest…New England states are signing big contracts…In late May, [Massachusetts awarded a contract to] the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project off the coast of southern Massachusetts, which will start construction in 2019…[On the same day, Rhode Island awarded a contract to the 400 MW] Revolution Wind project, by developer Deepwater Wind, to start construction 30 miles off the coast, about 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, in 2022…[A new report estimates a 1,600 MW offshore wind deployment will support between 6,870 and 9,850 job years over the next ten years, with] ‘an economic impact in Massachusetts of between $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion.’ Between $675 and $800 million of that is direct economic output…[The price for U.S. offshore wind has already dropped from $0.244/kWh in 2016 to $0.132/kWh in 2017. Though still well over onshore wind’s high-end price of $0.06/kWh, the price is] headed in the right direction quickly…[Development is also slowly moving in] New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Delaware…The EU already has 16,000 MW of offshore wind installed, and growth is only accelerating; investment in the industry could top $10 billion in 2018 [so the US will be catching up for years but the] US Department of Energy predicts around 22,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030…” click here for more

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    Nothing Can Hold Solar Back

    US Solar Market Adds 2.5 GW of PV in Q1 2018, Growing 13% Year-Over-Year

    June 12, 2018 (Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research)

    “Showing resiliency in spite of the new tariffs on imported modules, the U.S. solar market added 2.5 gigawatts of solar PV in the first quarter of the year, representing annual growth of 13 percent…Solar PV accounted for 55 percent of all U.S. electricity capacity added during the quarter and added more than two gigawatts for the 10th straight quarter, [according to the latest data from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research…Overall, the report estimates that solar’s growth in 2018 will mirror 2017’s 10.6 GW before growing more robustly in 2019 and then accelerating in the early 2020s…[U]tility-scale solar projects thus far have been relatively insulated from tariffs but analysts expect the tariffs to have a bigger impact on the segment in 2019…The non-residential solar segment posted its fourth-highest installation total ever, with 509 megawatts installed. This represents year-over-year growth of 23 percent. Community solar continues to be a strong driver…New additions of residential PV remained flat…[V]oluntary procurement by utilities is the largest driver of utility-scale PV…[C]orporate procurement/offsite commercial and industrial now accounts for 2.0 GWdc, or 10%, of projects in development…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Join or die: How utilities are coping with 100% renewable energy goals

    Join or die: How utilities are coping with 100% renewable energy goals; Where cities take control of their energy choices, utilities face a stark choice.

    Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 13, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: There are now 70 governments with 100% renewables commitments.

    In June 6, 2017, Santa Barbara, Calif., became the 30th U.S. city committed to getting 100% of its power from renewable energy. Just six months later, on Nov. 29, Truckee, Calif., became the rapidly growing 100% renewables movement’s 50th city …100% commitments continue. Over 150 Republican and Democratic Mayors have endorsed the objective. The United States Conference of Mayors in June approved a resolution reaffirming its support of the Paris Climate Agreement and of policies to grow renewables and cut emissions. This growing momentum is driven by two key factors, according to Jodie Van Horn, Executive Director of Ready for 100, a division of the Sierra Club pushing 100% renewables. One is a widening range of cost-effective renewables options. The other is the threat of selling less power.

    Ready for 100’s just-released 2017 Case Study Report shows that many utilities realize they must either work with municipalities to deliver the power mix customers want or lose the customers, Van Horn told Utility Dive. It also shows that some utilities have not seen the handwriting on the wall — the rising power of municipalization or the threat of the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) movement. Many utilities are responding cooperatively to cities’ 100% renewables commitments, Van Horn said. They are offering green pricing programs, community renewable energy programs and bilateral contracts through green tariffs. “They see that those who partner are going to have a bright future and those that resist are going to find themselves with a shrinking customer base,” Van Horn said. Where utilities don’t cooperate, cities are taking control… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar

    A tale of 2 states: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar; The Golden State has no privately developed community solar while the Bay State has the second most in the U.S. — Why?

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 30, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Community solar grew 112% in 2017 – and sunny California still is not in the game.

    There are lessons to be learned in why sunny California has built 0 MW of privately developed community solar while Minnesota leads the U.S. with 246 MW of private-sector-led community solar and Massachusetts, with much less open land and cloudier skies, is second. Through the end of 2017, the 228 utilities with 734 MW in offerings broke down as follows: 160 cooperative utilities, 37 public power utilities, and 31 investor-owned utilities. Policymakers across the country now designing emerging community solar programs led both by utilities and the private sector can learn from the flops and achievements in California and Massachusetts.Those lessons are especially important to New York policymakers now designing what could be the next important community solar market.

    There are two important areas of “distinct difference” between Massachusetts and California, according to Tom Hunt, director of policy for U.S.-leading private sector community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC). The overall rate of compensation in Massachusetts is much higher, more easily understood and stable. And the regulations, though not easy, are “manageable and rational.” Clean Energy Collective has built 34 projects and almost 50 MW of installed community solar capacity in Massachusetts. Hunt said the regulatory hurdles and required timelines in Massachusetts “line up with a developer’s business practices.” By the numbers, the Green Tariff Shared Renewables (GTSR) program, authorized by California’s 2013 Senate Bill 43 and implemented by state regulators in 2015, has been an abysmal flop. About 33 MW of capacity has been built, all of it by the state’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs). The obstacle is a charge to customers that results in an unpredictable but higher than retail price to subscribers… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Solar Is Coming And Utilities Better Get Ready

    Estimating the Value of Improved Distributed Photovoltaic Adoption Forecasts for Utility Resource Planning

    Pieter Gagnon, Brady Stoll, Ali Ehlen, Trieu Mai, Galen Barbose, Andrew Mills, and Jarrett Zuboy, May 2018 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Many utilities have witnessed, or are anticipating, rapid growth in customer-owned distributed photovoltaics (DPV). This has prompted utilities to take a closer look at how they account for DPV growth within their resource planning processes and, in particular, their DPV adoption forecasting methods. Current resource planning practices in this area vary widely, and the state-of-the-art in DPV adoption forecasting is undergoing continuous refinement. Utility resource planners may have an interest in improving their DPV forecasting techniques. However, such improvements entail costs related to new tools, training, staffing, or contractors. Assessing whether such investments are worthwhile therefore requires some understanding—and ideally quantification—of the potential benefits associated with improved DPV adoption forecasting.

    This report informs these tradeoffs by estimating how improved DPV adoption forecasts used in utility resource plans can reduce future utility capital and operating costs. We simulate future capital and operating costs for the entire Western Interconnection under varying assumptions about the accuracy of the DPV forecasts used to develop generation-expansion plans. We then describe a simplified probabilistic method that individual utilities could implement for their own service territories to estimate the potential benefits from improving their DPV forecasting capabilities. To be clear, this analysis exclusively considers the bulk power system. Depending on their locational precision, improved DPV forecasts could also benefit distribution system planning, but those impacts are outside the scope of this work.

    The analysis relies on a staged series of models: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Distributed Generation Market Demand model (dGen) to project DPV adoption over time; NREL’s Resource Planning Model (RPM), a capacity-expansion model, to simulate the least-cost buildout of the bulk power system; and PLEXOS, a commercial production cost model developed by Energy Exemplar, to simulate operation of the bulk power system. Using this suite of models, we estimate the present value of capital and operating costs for the Western Interconnection over a 15-year analysis period (2016–2030) across a wide range of scenarios encompassing varying levels of DPV growth and misforecasting. The 15-year analysis period comprises a series of 5-year planning increments, within each of which a new capacity-expansion plan is developed and implemented based on an erroneous DPV forecast. The presentvalue capital and operating costs under these plans are then compared to the costs under a scenario with perfect DPV forecasting, to quantify the cost of the forecasting error.

    Based on this analysis, several key findings and themes emerge:

    The utility-cost impacts of misforecasting DPV adoption can be non-trivial. Within our base-case analysis, systematically misforecasting DPV adoption over multiple successive planning cycles increases the present value of utility system costs by up to $7 million per terawatt-hour (TWh) of electricity sales, relative to utility system costs under a perfect forecast (the upper left-hand corner of Figure ES-1).1 Thus, for a relatively large utility with 10 TWh/year of sales, this translates to a $70 million present-value cost. This cost estimate is for a relatively extreme scenario—in which the contribution of DPV within the total generation portfolio increases by 8.5% over a 15-year period, but the utility does not assume any incremental DPV growth in each of three successive 5-year expansion plans. Naturally, the cost impacts are less acute in cases with less DPV growth or a smaller degree of misforecasting. For example, for a utility with DPV growth equal to just 2% of total energy generation over 15 years or a forecasting error of just ±25%, the cost of misforecasting is less than $1 million per TWh of electricity sales.

    These misforecasting costs, even under the most extreme conditions, are small relative to any utility’s overall cost of service. However, from the perspective of a utility resource planner, the relevant metric to consider would be the relative costs and benefits on any investment or contract, not just the absolute benefits. The results in this report suggest DPV forecasting improvements are likely to be profitable in some cases (e.g., if large DPV growth is expected but would otherwise not be incorporated in resource planning) but not others (e.g., if DPV growth is expected to be minimal). A utility can use the estimates of benefits given in this report, and their own estimates of the costs of improvements, to determine where they fall on that spectrum.

    The cost of misforecasting can be asymmetrical. The cost impact cited above ($7 million per TWh of retail sales) corresponds to a scenario with severe underforecasting of future DPV generation. In contrast, the costliest overforecasting increases utility system costs by just $2 million per TWh within our basecase analysis (i.e., 100% overforecasting at 6.5% DPV increase in Figure ES-1). These particular results are specific to the system modeled in this analysis. In general, underforecasting DPV tends to increase capital costs but decrease operating costs (relative to a perfect forecast), while overforecasting DPV does the opposite. Accordingly, the magnitude and direction of any asymmetry depends on the relative degree of sensitivity of capital and operating costs to DPV forecast error.

    This phenomenon can have practical implications for utility resource planners, because the expected direction and magnitude of asymmetry can influence what amount of DPV in a resource plan minimizes the expected costs of misforecasting.

    The cost of misforecasting is sensitive to market and planning conditions. The Western Interconnection, as modeled in this analysis, is oversupplied with capacity in the initial years of the planning period. This partially explains the asymmetry noted above, because an initially overbuilt system may not require new capacity additions for the initial years of a planning period, and thus overforecasting DPV adoption (i.e., underforecasting load growth) has a muted impact on capacity-expansion decisions. As another example of how specific utility system conditions may impact the cost of misforecasting DPV adoption, our analysis also highlights the importance of renewable energy credit (REC) prices if a utility includes anticipated DPV RECs in its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) compliance planning. In a sensitivity case with roughly a $20/MWh increase in REC prices (the “High REC Price” case in Figure ES-2), the cost of severely overforecasting DPV in the high-DPV case rises from $1 million per TWh of retail sales in the base case to roughly $8 million. This is due to the additional cost of having to purchase RECs to cover RPS compliance shortfalls. Conversely, the cost of severely underforecasting DPV falls from $7 million per TWh to $2 million, due to the additional revenues from the sale of surplus RECs. Features and findings from the other sensitivity cases depicted in Figure ES-2 are discussed further in the main body of this report.

    Some level of uncertainty in DPV adoption forecasts is inevitable, partly owing to policy and market drivers (e.g., future PV cost trajectories, future changes to net metering rules, etc.) that are inherently uncertain. However, uncertainty in DPV adoption forecasts also partly derives from methodological shortfalls—i.e., oversimplifications or misrepresentations of the dynamics underlying customer adoption. It is that source of uncertainty that utility resource planners can potentially address through improved DPV forecasting techniques.

    A utility interested in evaluating the potential benefits from improving its DPV adoption forecasting methods must therefore compare the expected costs of DPV misforecasting under its current approach against the expected costs under an improved approach with reduced uncertainty. As mentioned above, we use the modeled costs of DPV misforecasting to present a simplified probabilistic method enabling estimation of the cost savings due to reducing DPV forecast uncertainty under specific utility conditions.

    In the example illustrated in Figure ES-3, a large utility with 10 TWh/year of retail sales that is planning for DPV growth of 3.5% of total generation over 15 years would expect present-value savings of $4.0 million by reducing its DPV forecast uncertainty from roughly +75%/-55% to ±25%. These benefits would, naturally, be larger for a utility with more-significant DPV growth and/or for improvements in DPV adoption forecasting methods that yield a larger reduction in forecast uncertainty.

    The quantitative estimates developed in this report are based on a specific electric system and period, and they rely on a host of assumptions about market and policy conditions during that period. Using these assumptions and our simplified probabilistic method, analysts can make first-order estimates of the potential cost savings from improved DPV forecasts. For any number of reasons—some of which are discussed above—the cost savings for any given utility may be higher or lower than the estimates provided here. Thus, any first-order estimates derived from the analysis in this report are most useful if followed by a robust examination of how any individual utility’s circumstances deviate from the environment assumed in our modeling. That said, we hope the estimates obtainable from this report will offer a useful starting point for planners seeking to evaluate the merits of investing in improved DPV forecasting methods…

    Conclusions

    Current utility resource planning practices vary widely in terms of the sophistication of their approach to forecasting future DPV adoption, and the state-of-the-art in DPV adoption forecasting is undergoing continuous refinement. Utility resource planners may have an interest in improving the DPV forecasting techniques used within their planning studies, because reducing the uncertainty in those forecasts may enable more-optimized resource plans and thus ultimately lower the costs to build and operate their system. However, implementing such improvements entails costs related to new tools, training, staffing, or contractors. Assessing whether such investments are worthwhile therefore requires some understanding of the potential benefits (i.e., future cost savings) associated with improved DPV adoption forecasting.

    This report informs these tradeoffs by estimating how reducing uncertainty in DPV adoption forecasts used in utility resource plans can reduce future utility capital and operating costs. This analysis focuses specifically on the Western Interconnection and considers only the impacts on capital and operating costs associated with the bulk power system (i.e., it does not consider the effects of DPV forecasting error on distribution system costs). Those limitations in study scope notwithstanding, the analysis reveals several key findings and themes:

    • The utility-cost impacts of misforecasting DPV adoption can be non-trivial. Within our base-case analysis, updating resource plans for DPV adoption once every 5 years while neglecting future adoption in resource plans over a 15-year period increases the present value of utility system costs by up to $7 million per TWh of electricity sales, relative to utility system costs if DPV forecasting were perfect. This would equate to an increase in total costs of about 0.5%. Naturally, the cost impacts are less acute in cases with less DPV growth or a smaller degree of misforecasting. For example, for a utility with DPV growth equal to just 2% of total energy generation over 15 years or a forecasting error of just ±25%, the cost of misforecasting is less than $1 million per TWh of electricity sales, within our analysis.

    • The cost of misforecasting can be asymmetrical. The cost impact cited above ($7 million per TWh of retail sales) corresponds to a scenario with severe underforecasting of future DPV generation. In contrast, the costliest overforecasting increases utility system costs by just $2 million per TWh within our base-case analysis. These particular results are specific to the system modeled in this analysis. In general, underforecasting DPV tends to increase capital costs but decrease operating costs (relative to a perfect forecast), while overforecasting DPV does the opposite. Accordingly, the magnitude and direction of any asymmetry depends on the relative degree of sensitivity of capital and operating costs to DPV forecast error.

    • The cost of misforecasting is sensitive to market and planning conditions. The Western Interconnection, as modeled in this analysis, is oversupplied with capacity in the initial years of the planning period. This partially explains the asymmetry between over- and underforecasting observed in our base case, because an initially overbuilt system typically requires less new capacity additions for the initial years of a planning period, and thus overforecasting DPV adoption (i.e., underforecasting load growth) has a muted impact on capacity-expansion decisions. As another example of how specific utility system conditions may impact the cost of misforecasting DPV adoption, our analysis also highlights the importance of REC prices if a utility includes anticipated DPV RECs in its RPS compliance planning. In a sensitivity case with roughly a $20/MWh increase in REC prices, the cost of severely overforecasting DPV in the high-DPV case rises from $1 million per TWh of retail sales in the base case to roughly $8 million. This is due to the additional cost of having to purchase RECs to cover RPS compliance shortfalls. Conversely, the cost of severely underforecasting DPV falls from $7 million per TWh to $2 million due to the additional revenues from the sale of surplus RECs. The quantitative estimates developed in this report are based on a specific electric system and period, and they rely on a host of assumptions about market and policy conditions during that period. Using our simplified probabilistic method, analysts can make first-order estimates of the potential cost savings from improved DPV forecasts. Naturally, these estimates are most useful if followed by a robust examination of how each analyst’s unique circumstances may deviate from the environment assumed in our modeling. That said, we hope the estimates obtainable from this report will offer a useful starting point for planners seeking to evaluate the merits of investing in improved DPV forecasting methods.

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