NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Trump Truth And Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Daily Show Talks Pipeline Politics
  • Weekend Video: Beyond Polar Bears – The Real Science Of Climate Change
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy And Historic Buildings In Europe
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 1:

  • TTTA Thursday-First Daughter Ivanka May Fight For Climate
  • TTTA Thursday-Low Profile High Power Ocean Wind Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-A Visionary Solar Power Plant
  • TTTA Thursday-EVs Have A Growth Path
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How The Clean Power Plan Drove The Utility Power Mix Transition
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities Are Answering The Distributed Energy Resources Challenge
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Looking At New Rates To Unlock The Utility Of The Future
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Power Potential Of Personal Wind
  • QUICK NEWS, November 29: Climate Change Forces Hard Choices In Alaska; New Energy To Utilities-“Can’t-Beat-Us-So-Join-Us”; Fact-Checking Trump Hot Air On Wind
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Getting More New Energy On The Grid
  • QUICK NEWS, November 28, 2016: Pope Talks Climate Change At Trump; Solar Comes To The Mall; The Big Possibilities Of Backyard Wind
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    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

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

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

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, December 5:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Way For New Energy To Meet Peak Demand
  • QUICK NEWS, December 5: Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate; The Wind-Solar Synergy; The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs

    Monday, December 05, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Way For New Energy To Meet Peak Demand

    Evolving the RPS: A Clean Peak Standard for a Smarter Renewable Future

    Lon Huber and Edward Burgess, December 1, 2016 (Strategen Consulting for the Arizona Residential Utility Consumer Office)

    Executive Summary

    Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) have been fundamental to jump-starting the renewable energy (RE) industry, accounting for over 60% of the growth in RE generation since 2000. However, the simple MWhbased approach used by traditional RPS policies does not differentiate between each renewable MWh based on its value to the grid or for reducing fuel consumption. Already some states are experiencing challenges as renewable energy production during certain times is beginning to provide diminished value in terms of reduced fuel consumption or capacity contribution. As states continue to achieve their RPS goals and reach increasingly higher levels of RE penetration, new approaches will likely be needed to guard against diminishing returns of a simple MWh based approach.

    As a way of encouraging clean energy resources to provide all the necessary attributes of a reliable power system, we propose building upon the traditional RPS framework by adding one or more new supplemental components that would work in parallel with the foundational MWh-based retail sales component. The first and foremost of these new components would be the Clean Peak Standard (CPS). The CPS builds upon the RPS construct, by adding a new dimension whereby a certain percent of energy delivered to customers during peak load hours must be derived from clean energy sources. For example, a 30% CPS would mean that 30% of MWh delivered to customers during a predetermined peak period would need to come from qualifying clean peak resources.

    Many additional design features can be included in the implementation of the CPS such as tradable compliance credits, locational adders, multi-part peak periods, and periodic updates to continually align new investments with system needs. Ultimately, if successful, the proposed RPS framework can help to achieve clean energy resource procurement that is aligned with the full suite of grid services that electric power system operators need to supply.

    Background and Context

    Renewable Portfolio Standards: A Strong Start Towards a Clean Energy Future

    Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. have adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which today apply to 55% of electric sales in the U.S.1 These policies have been fundamental to jump-starting the renewable energy (RE) industry, accounting for over 60% of the growth in RE generation since 2000.2 While each state has its own unique variations on an RPS, all state policies generally require retail electric providers to supply a minimum percentage of their retail load (in MWh) from renewable resources. Frequently, states use Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) both to track compliance and to create a marketplace for renewable energy. The success of RPS policies stems, in part, from the simplicity of this framework. The retail sales requirement and associated REC construct creates a degree of certainty and transparency on which prospective developers and installers can rely to assess the value of renewable energy.

    However, as states achieve their goals and reach increasingly higher levels of RE penetration, many are beginning to decide what policies should come next. Some states have already doubled down on the traditional approach, simply expanding their retail sales targets. Others are considering more targeted procurement methods that focus on specific resources, such as solar. As more states move towards the next chapter of clean energy policies, it will be increasingly important to consider benefits and drawbacks of the traditional RPS approach and explore improvements that will maximize public policy benefits.

    Potential Pitfalls in Expanding Traditional RPS Frameworks

    While each state has its own reasons for advancing RPS policies, many have done so primarily to reduce overall fuel consumption, which is associated with price volatility, fuel dependency, and other externalities. In this context, an energy-centric standard based on MWh sales is a sensible approach. Moreover, a MWh-based component will continue to be an important part of maintaining these policy objectives. However, a simple MWh-based standard lacks specific market signals that differentiate between the value of each renewable MWh based on the time when it is produced. Discrepancies in this value could lead to RPS compliance being met by a set of MWhs with very unequal grid-related benefits and unequal fuel-related benefits, both of which are described below.

    Unequal Grid-Related Benefits From an electric provider’s standpoint, the total MWh of energy supplied is only one component of what’s needed to ensure reliable electric service. The system must also have sufficient MW of capacity to meet peak demand. Beyond energy and capacity, there are other types of essential grid services that a supplier’s portfolio of resources must provide, such as frequency regulation, load following, and spinning reserves. Providing capacity during peak hours is a time-specific grid service that is not well matched with an indiscriminate MWhbased standard. A traditional RPS would not necessarily encourage clean energy resources to provide these services; in the absence of a clear market signal, they are instead likely to be provided by conventional resources (often operating in standby mode), thereby prolonging fuel dependency and potentially increasing costs for customers. Moreover, the MWh-based standard may not adequately reward the enhanced value of resources that can deliver clean energy more flexibly and adapt to the grid’s needs. In some states, such as California, high renewable energy penetration has also led to new challenges, in large part due to the changing set of grid services needed to accommodate high penetrations of solar PV.

    Unequal Fuel-Related Benefits

    From the perspective of reducing fuel consumption and reducing externalities, the incremental impact of renewable energy can also be very time-specific. In reality, this benefit depends largely on the marginal generation unit at the time of production. Reductions in fuel consumption and environmental impacts (e.g. emissions of criteria air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) due to renewable energy can vary over the course of the day and by season. As renewable penetration increases, this benefit could even fall to zero at certain times. For example, during some hours there may be overgeneration of renewable resources causing curtailment. At other times, the marginal resource may not be a non-fuel based resource (e.g. hydro). Figure 2 and Figure 3 illustrate the growing overgeneration problem in California and Hawaii due to recent increases in the penetration of solar PV resources.

    Over the long run, indiscriminate procurement of renewable resources based solely on annual MWh of production could exacerbate some of these discrepancies while introducing new challenges. For example, in the Southwest, the addition of solar PV resources could have diminishing returns in reducing fuel consumption if a significant portion of PV generation is already being curtailed due to overgeneration. Meanwhile, solar PV’s contribution towards peak demand will also be diminished as net load shifts into evening hours.

    In fact, a 2014 CAISO study examined a scenario in which California increased its RPS from 33% to 40%. The results indicated that despite a 7% increase in the standard, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) were only reduced by 2% in California (see Figure 4).4 Further, the study predicted peak demand related capacity shortfalls and over 13 GW of renewable curtailment in one spring month.

    These results are consistent with findings from another study exploring a 50% RPS for California, which demonstrated that as more renewables are added, the marginal fossil generator displaced is increasingly efficient. This means that increasing the RPS would result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions savings per MWh of RPS target.5 The 50% study further concluded that due to overgeneration, “more renewable resources must be procured than would be the case if all renewable resource output could be accommodated by the grid.” Under an alternate case in which RE procurement was better matched with the grid’s capabilities and needs, rate impacts of achieving the RPS were reduced by 10-39%.6

    Thus, as RPS policies are scaled up in the future, the incremental benefits of complying with an RPS could become dampened under a traditional approach. A more sophisticated approach is needed to help target renewable energy procurement towards incremental clean energy resources that yield the greatest value to the grid and to customers.

    Finally, another potential pitfall of traditional RPS policies is that market activity can slow down or stop abruptly once compliance is achieved. This is problematic since it tends to create boom and bust cycles within the industry that may not be sustainable over the long term. Different policy designs could be developed to help extend market signals and direct appropriate investment beyond the immediate targets.

    A New Approach: RPS 2.0

    Introducing a Multi-Component Clean Energy Standard - Electric power system operators must plan the for the grid to meet a variety of needs. To better capture the multiple attributes of a properly planned system, and to ensure clean energy resources can participate in providing all of them, we propose building upon the traditional RPS framework by adding one or more new building block components that would work in parallel as a supplement to the foundational MWhbased retail sales component. The full suite of RPS 2.0 components can be summarized as follows, and as illustrated in Figure 5:

    • Block 1 (foundation) – Traditional MWh-based Renewable Portfolio Standard

    • Block 2 (new) – Clean Peak Standard

    • Additional Blocks (new, optional) – Example: Clean Flex Capacity Standard

    Thus, the foundation would be comprised of the traditional MWh-based RPS. Meanwhile, a second, complementary building block would introduce a capacity-based standard that would focus on peak demand needs. This component is designed to encourage clean energy resources to provide capacity during peak demand hours. Under this framework, a minimum percentage of energy dispatched during a predefined peak window (e.g. 4 hours) must come from qualifying clean energy resources. The following sections of this paper provide a more detailed description of how the Clean Peak Standard could be implemented.

    While the peak demand attribute (Block 2) is perhaps most readily included in the multi-component RPS, it would be possible to add other grid services that are identified and evaluated for system planning. For example, a new component could be added to encourage clean energy resources to provide flexible capacity during high flexibility need hours, if this was determined to be an important system constraint from a planning perspective.

    As new blocks are added, the policy design increases in sophistication as it becomes more closely tailored to system needs. The overarching intent of this general framework is to better align clean energy procurement with the full suite of grid services that energy providers need to supply. While we acknowledge that most jurisdictions have not yet reached penetration levels where this is an urgent problem (with possible exceptions of Hawaii and California), we anticipate that this will increasingly become an issue over the coming years. Renewable penetration is poised to increase due to both RPS procurement and increased economic competitiveness of renewable resources. In anticipation of these trends, the table below summarizes some of the grid services that could be subject to a corresponding standard.

    Whatever components are ultimately included, it is vital that each additional component not be viewed as a substitute for the traditional MWh-based standard, but rather as parallel complementary policies. This is necessary to ensure that no component is pursued at the expense of other components. However, while each reflects a discrete system planning constraint, a single resource can be used to simultaneously contribute towards each component. For example, generation that counts towards Component 1 (i.e. overall MWh) could also contribute to Component 2 (i.e. peak-coincident generation)…

    Clean Peak Standard (CPS) – Detailed Overview…Qualifying Clean Peak Resources…Peak Demand Window…Clean Capacity Credit…Containing Costs of Resource Procurement…

    Conclusion

    As states continue to achieve higher penetrations of renewable energy, some have begun to grapple with new challenges in terms of maximizing the benefits reducing the costs of additional RE procurement. The advanced RPS approach presented in this paper can help to better target procurement towards the needs of the grid and provide a sustainable path for renewable energy deployment into the foreseeable future. A cornerstone of this new approach is the introduction of the Clean Peak Standard which will help to encourage clean energy resources that generate energy during peak hours, when it is needed most. Additional components and implementation details can be added over time to create a more sophisticated RPS that is more aligned with the true needs of the grid.

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    QUICK NEWS, December 5: Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate; The Wind-Solar Synergy; The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs

    Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change

    Chelsea Harvey, December 1, 2016 (Washington Post)

    “…[A] federal judge in Oregon made headlines when she ruled that a groundbreaking climate lawsuit will proceed to trial. And some experts say its outcome could rewrite the future of climate policy in the United States…The case, brought by 21 youths aged 9 to 20, claims that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address the problem of climate change to protect their planet’s future — and that, they charge, is a violation of their constitutional rights on the most basic level…[Climate scientist James Hansen has] joined as a plaintiff on behalf of his granddaughter and as a guardian for ‘future generations.’…The U.S. government under President Obama, along with several others representing members of the fossil fuel industry, filed to have the lawsuit dismissed. But on Nov. 10, federal judge Ann Aiken denied the motion, clearing the case to proceed to trial.

    According to Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit representing the youth plaintiffs…[the case will] likely go to trial by summer or early fall of 2017…[T]he trial’s outcome could have major implications for the incoming Trump administration, which aims to dismantle many of the climate and energy priorities established under President Obama…Should the plaintiffs prevail, the federal government could be forced to develop and adhere to stringent carbon-cutting measures aimed at preserving the planet’s climate future for generations to come. The only other place such action has ever been ordered by a court is in the Netherlands, where a similar case resulted in a landmark ruling last year requiring the Dutch government to slash its emissions by a quarter within five years…” click here for more

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    The Wind-Solar Synergy Wind and Solar Are Better Together; Building turbines and photovoltaics at the same location can reduce grid and battery costs and level out power supply

    Ben Jervey, December 5, 2016 (Ensia via Scientific American)

    “…[Wind resources tend to complement solar resources…A handful of enterprising renewable energy developers are now exploring how solar and wind might better work together, developing hybrid solar–wind projects…[with the strengths of the] two technologies in tandem serving as a better replacement for climate-warming fossil fuels than either could be alone…Co-locating wind and solar plants can save money on grid connections, site development and approvals. But that’s not the only benefit…[The developer of an Australian 10 MW solar project adjacent to a wind project] estimates savings as high as A$6 million — reducing the cost of the project by a full 20 percent…When applied to microgrid systems — local energy grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously — combined solar and wind can help cut battery costs…since the wind can (and often does) blow when the sun doesn’t shine…Combining solar photovoltaics and wind turbines at the same location can actually yield up to twice the amount of electricity as having either system working alone…” click here for more

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    The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs Plug-in electric car sales surge in Nov: Volt soars, Prius Prime arrives (final update)

    John Voelcker, December 4, 2016 (Green Car Reports)

    “…[T]he North American winter months have seen a slowdown in sales of plug-in electric cars—but…vehicle sales for November led analysts to suggest this could be another record year for U.S. sales…And several plug-in cars set new monthly records…[S]ales of the Nissan Leaf electric car actually increased over last year's comparable number, while those of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid soared…Toyota delivered almost 800 of its new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid…Chevrolet delivered 2,531 Volts in November, its best sales month in more than three years, bringing its 11-month sales total to 21,048…Nissan, meanwhile, sold 1,457 Leafs last month (against 1,054 a year ago), indicating that the six-year-old electric car may have some life left in it—and perhaps discounts too…Tesla Motors refuses to break down its quarterly delivery data by country, so we have no comparable data on Model S sedan and Model X crossover utility sales in the U.S…” click here for more

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    Saturday, December 03, 2016

    Trump Truth And Climate Change

    This brilliant diatribe on truth, political truth, and Trump talk has an important take on climate change at about 4:35 From Comedy Central

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    The Daily Show Talks Pipeline Politics

    Trevor Noah has been spot on the mark lately. Here he takes on the hypocrisies around the Dakota Access pipeline protests. From Comedy Central

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    Beyond Polar Bears – The Real Science Of Climate Change

    One of the leading U.S. climate scientists explains what the climate’s impacts on polar bears really means. From Global Weirding with Katherine Hayhoe via YouTube

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    Friday, December 02, 2016

    Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change

    Farmer survey reveals concern, shifting attitudes on climate change

    Anna Vidot, November 28, 2016 (Rural)

    “…Of 1,300 primary producers, from a wide range of [Australian industries and states who responded to a Farmers for Climate Action survey, 80%] wanted politicians to do more about climate change, including renewed and secure public investment in research, development and extension programs, to help farmers adapt to a more volatile climate…The same number of farmers wanted their agriculture sector representatives to do more to advocate for stronger action…[About 60%] of farmers believed in climate change. But even more respondents said they were concerned about changing conditions they had observed on their properties, even though they were not prepared to call that ‘climate change’…” click here for more

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    The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1

    We Already Have A Solution To Climate Change, And It Doesn't Rely On The Government

    Paul Mainwood, December 1, 2016 (Quora via Forbes)

    “…[Asolution to climate change that doesn’t rely on government] comes in three parts…Solar PV generation so cheap that it beats any other energy generation option on levelized cost…A cost-effective energy storage solution to solve short-term intermittency (hours and days): i.e., cloudy days, nighttime…[and] A cost-effective energy storage solution to solve long-term intermittency (weeks and months) i.e., winter…None of these require the government to intervene. All we need is existing technology, market forces, and time. Our hope is that the time we need isn’t long enough for us to cook the planet with fossil fuels…Solar PV will beat any other power generation method on [unsubsidized] cost by 2030… PV at scale is [already cheaper than fossil fuels (and even for residential/commercial it’s comparable with grid costs)… There are many options for short-term energy storage…[and] we already have all the infrastructure to store a lot of energy [long term]…” click here for more

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    The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2

    We Already Have A Solution To Climate Change, And It Doesn't Rely On The Government

    Paul Mainwood, December 1, 2016 (Quora via Forbes)

    “…The learning curve cutting solar costs] has been named Swanson’s Law and] with every doubling of solar installation, we get a price reduction per watt of approximately 20%...[V]olumes are doubling: every 2.2 years, give or take…A 20% cost-learning factor, with 2.2 year doubling time has such a powerful effect on prices that it’s hard for humans to grasp. If it continues, then by 2030, solar PV will be around a third of the cost it is today. There will be nothing to compete with solar PV in almost any country in the world…[and] PV solar even at its current efficiency levels is easily capable of supplying the world’s long-term energy demands (best-guess, around 30TW) and can do so using less than 1% of the land area we have available…[Short-term energy storage can come from, including compressed air, flow batteries, pumped hydro, and even esoteric technologies like super-capacitors. But the most likely storage option in the near term is good old lithium-based batteries…When you have a massive surplus of PV power (summer), you run electrolyzers to produce hydrogen from water…[The Sabatier reaction] combines hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make natural gas…[which we already store cost-effectively]…” click here for more

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    New Energy And Historic Buildings In Europe

    Reconciling solar energy and heritage preservation

    November 29, 2016 (PhysOrg)

    "…[Researchers just received the Innovator of the Year award in Sweden for] a method to assess the aesthetic impact of solar panels on buildings and to set objective criteria for where they should be placed. Some municipal governments could apply this method as early as next year…[Inelegant solar installations turn away potential solar users. If done properly, however, they can further spur growth. The method] allows the authorities to take local architectural constraints, such as historical districts, into account when analyzing where to install solar panels on existing buildings…[It] should ultimately help reconcile heritage advocates and renewable energy supporters…[The method is called LESO-QSV (Quality-Site-Visibility) and] is based on the new concept of ‘architectural criticity’ in urban areas…[The] acceptability of solar panels is assessed against the sensitivity of the site and the visibility of the panels from the public space…The higher the degree of ‘criticity’ – such as the facade of a highly visible historical building – the more emphasis will be placed on harmoniously integrating the solar panels. On the other hand, a flat roof on a factory in an industrial zone will be given a much lower ‘criticity’ rating, and, consequently, be subject to lower integration standards…” click here for more

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    Thursday, December 01, 2016

    First Daughter Ivanka May Fight For Climate

    Ivanka Trump, climate czar? The first daughter aims to use the first lady’s lectern to champion liberal causes

    Annie Karni, December 1, 2016 (Politico)

    “…[Ivanka Trump, 35, President-elect] Trump’s avatar among the moneyed left-wing elite, is now poised to be the first ‘first daughter’ in modern history to play a larger public role than the first lady. And she’s positioning herself…as a bridge to moderates and liberals disgusted and depressed with the tone and tenor of the new leader of the free world…[The ambitious daughter] wants to make climate change — which her father has called a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese — one of her signature issues, a source close to her told Politico. The source said Ivanka is in the early stages of exploring how to use her spotlight to speak out on the issue…[H]er advocacy could come as a bit of solace to…[those who] fear that Trump will dismantle the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies…Advocating opposition to CO2 emissions and fossil fuels will inevitably create another warring sphere of influence in Trump’s orbit: Incoming Chief of staff Reince Priebus has clarified in recent days that [the President-elect thinks climate change is largely] bunk…” click here for more

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    Low Profile High Power Ocean Wind Energy

    Producing Wind Energy In The Ocean, No Turbines In Sight; President Trump hates offshore wind turbines. Maybe he'll like Accio's innovative new way to generate energy from ocean winds.

    Ben Schiller, November 29, 2016 (Co-Exist)

    “…In the open ocean, Accio Energy summons something almost as powerful as one of [the Harry Potter spell it is named after]: the physics of a thunderstorm…[The startup] is testing a wind energy technology that looks nothing like a turbine. It's a permeable mast or panel that uses water droplets and the wind to create a direct electric current. The panels emit a fine positively charged mist. Then, when wind blows through, it separates negative from positive charges, sending electrons down a high voltage cable to the coastline…The technical name for this process is ElectroHydroDynamics (EHD)…[Just awarded a DOE $5 million grant, the] company hopes to have a fully functioning prototype within a year or two…Offshore wind turbines can stand as high as 700 feet and are difficult to transport and fix into the ocean bed…EHD panels, when built, will fit onto any 18-wheel flatbed truck, and can be put in place with conventional ships. Moreover, the EHD structure will float, meaning it can be placed in more locations than a fixed turbine…” click here for more

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    A Visionary Solar Power Plant

    TOP PLANT: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Tonopah, Nevada

    Thomas W. Overton, December 1, 2016 (Power Magazine)

    “…[Nevada’s Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built by SolarReserve] shares a lot of similarities with other solar-tower CSP plants…Just over 10,000 billboard-sized heliostats, each about 1,200 square feet, focus sunlight on a central receiver at the top of a 640-foot tower. The plant uses the heat collected to generate steam and drive a turbine generator…What sets [the 110 MW] Crescent Dunes apart from its predecessors is that it incorporates 10 hours of full-power thermal energy storage…[A] molten salt system circulates the salt from a cold tank, through the solar tower, where it’s heated from 550F to 1,050F…[and sent] through a turbine-generator, then to an air-cooled condenser…The plant sells its power to Nevada utility NV Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Since reaching commercial operations in November 2015, Crescent Dunes has…quietly exceeded its obligations, delivering 105% of contracted output. The molten salt receiver has achieved 100% availability through 2016, and performance data show that it’s operating 2% above its expected efficiency…” click here for more

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    EVs Have A Growth Path

    Will Trump Policies Kill The Electric Car?

    Phil Covington, December 1, 2016 (Triple Pundit)

    “…[As widely reported, the Trump administration] energy policy could likely hobble American clean-energy initiatives…[Risks to EVs include cheap gasoline, the] removal of the $7,500 federal tax credit consumers enjoy when they buy or lease…[and the reduction of the U.S. fuel economy standards from] a fleet-average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025…On the other hand, several factors bode well for the future of EVs...Global environmental policy is on the side of electric vehicles…For example, China will act out of self interest…[to cut the air pollution that takes] 1.6 million lives a year…In Europe, too, the tide is moving toward electrics…[ EVs have also] reached some cost and battery] performance milestones that further assure their long-term future...All things considered, momentum seems to be with electric vehicles…This has always been a long game…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How The Clean Power Plan Drove The Utility Power Mix Transition

    Charts: How will the Clean Power Plan stay affect the utility power mix transition?; Utilities will keep adding renewables and natural gas, but the CPP could still have a big effect on how much

    Herman K. Trabish, March 8, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: So much has changed since this story ran that it might now be thought of as a eulogy for the Clean Power Plan, may it rest in peace.

    Despite the recent legal roadblock from the nation’s top court to the Obama administration plan to regulate climate change-inducing pollution, executives from one end of the utility industry to the other say they don’t see their plans changing much. A survey of more than 500 utility executives conducted by Utility Dive in early 2016 showed that a large majority supported the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions 32% by 2030, and a significant portion wanted to see it strengthened. Add that to a recent report from the Rhodium Group showing that the extension of key tax credits for renewable energy in 2015 will fuel strong growth for wind and solar despite the plan's judicial difficulties, and it appears the U.S. power mix will continue getting cleaner. But while the general trajectory of the power sector appears set, analysts say the Clean Power Plan would have had a significant impact on how the transition unfolds.

    President Obama has long been dedicated to cutting U.S. emissions by driving a transition to cleaner utility power mix with more emphasis on renewables, natural gas and other low-carbon technologies. His administration spent its first two years trying to pass an energy bill with a cap and trade plan. But it was blocked in Congress, so the EPA issued the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Opponents sued the EPA, claiming the plan overstepped limits set by the Clean Air Act. Yet utility industry plans have not changed significantly. Industry executives have been planning for a power mix shift for some time, according to Utility Dive’s State of the Electric Utility 2016 survey. Collectively, 72% see natural gas moderately or significantly increasing in their power mixes over the next 20 years, 77% see wind doing so, and 91% see utility-scale solar doing so… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities Are Answering The Distributed Energy Resources Challenge

    Learning by doing: How utilities are answering the distributed energy resources challenge; Utilities are beginning to understand how to make money with DERs, but it's still a work in progress

    Herman K. Trabish, March 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the effort by utilities and consumers to seize the DER opportunity has accelerated.

    In the most recent Utility Dive State of the Electric Utility survey, 60% of utility professionals surveyed said their utilities should partner with third party vendors to deploy DERs, up from 56% the previous year. But nearly the same amount (59%) said they thought their utility should own and operate DERs, rate-basing their investments in the technologies. These two seemingly contradictory strategies being explored by utilities suggests they are still considering options for DER-centric business models and may even be pursuing multiple opportunities. As utilities across the nation move toward a less centralized power system, many of them are learning about how to operate and deploy distributed resources through rate-based pilots, which may help explain the popularity of the utility ownership option for DERs.

    As utility leaders mull how to enter the DER market themselves, they are also considering how to respond to the steady proliferation of distributed resources already taking place throughout much of the nation. As consumers increasingly generate and store their own electricity, they pay less to the utility, decreasing its revenues. The problem is accentuated by the fact that 74% of utility executives’ expect minimum or stagnant load growth in their territories and another 9% expect declining load growth. Only 18% expect the load in their territories to increase. In response, utilities across the nation are moving to change their rate structures so they can better recover costs from customers who install DERs like rooftop solar or residential storage. But many rate structure reforms would effectively impede the DER value proposition and slow progress…The goal should be rate structures with price signals that drive DER owners to deliver power at periods of peak electricity demand so they become grid assets, rate design experts say… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Looking At New Rates To Unlock The Utility Of The Future

    Can performance-based regulation unlock the utility of the future?; Fewer rate cases and smart performance incentives could drive utilities to innovate, according to a new paper

    Herman K. Trabish, March 17, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: This type of effort is likely to accelerate during the Trump administration as the energy sector’s attention moves to the state level>

    As new energy technologies proliferate and eat into electricity sales, utilities and regulators are searching for a rate design that addresses growing load defection. Regulators are increasingly considering performance-based regulation as the key get more reliance on energy efficiency, peak load management, distributed generation and storage because it is becoming more difficult to make the longstanding cost-of-service regulation work. With cost-of-service regulation, a utility’s revenues come from investment backed by a guaranteed rate of return built into its rates. With this structure, utilities do not get financial incentives to address evolving electric industry challenges such as changing customer demands, growth of distributed energy resources, and changing federal and state policies.

    Creative rate alterations, from cost trackers to decoupling, are attempts to remedy this shortcoming. They have been so widely adopted that there is no longer “pure” cost-of-service regulation. Performance-based regulation is a more comprehensive alternative. It is based on strong performance incentives and a pre-set long-term rate escalation. The aim is to change how rates are set to streamline regulatory burdens and allow utilities more flexibility to innovate. When it works, the utility and its customers share benefits. It is not a one-size-fits-all construct and can be applied in different ways… click here for more

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    Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Power Potential Of Personal Wind

    Assessing the Future of Distributed Wind: Opportunities for Behind-the-Meter Projects

    Eric Lantz, Benjamin Sigrin, Michael Gleason, Robert Preus, and Ian Baring-Gould, November 2106 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the United States. Cumulative installed capacity was more than 74,000 megawatts (MW) at year-end 2015 and wind power supplied 4.7% of total 2015 U.S. electricity generation. Despite the growth of the wind power industry, the distributed wind market has remained limited. Cumulative installations of distributed wind through 2015 totaled 934 MW. This first-of-a-kind exploratory analysis characterizes the future opportunity for behind-the-meter distributed wind, serving primarily rural or suburban homes, farms, and manufacturing facilities.

    This work focuses only on the grid-connected, behind-the-meter subset of the broader distributed wind market.1 We estimate this segment to be approximately half of the 934 MW of total installed distributed wind capacity at year-end 2015. Potential from other distributed wind market segments including systems installed in front of the meter (e.g., community wind) and in remote, off-grid locations is not assessed in this analysis and therefore, would be additive to results presented here. These other distributed wind market segments are not considered in this initial effort because of their relatively unique economic and market attributes.

    Opportunities for behind-the-meter distributed wind are considered from three perspectives: addressable resource potential, economic potential, and market potential. The first of these perspectives is intended to frame the overall scale of the opportunity2 ; the second quantifies the potential capacity of systems that could generate a positive net present value (NPV) at a specific point in time; the third considers economics as well as consumer adoption behaviors to estimate potential deployment levels for the specific conditions assessed.

    For addressable resource potential, we identify a single estimate for all theoretical behind-themeter distributed wind applications. We use scenarios or an array of future conditions to more fully explore economic and market potential. Variables in our scenarios include capital and operation and maintenance costs, technology performance, the value of distributed generation, system financing and leasing costs, consumer adoption rates, and siting criteria. More details on the scenario framework including the Combined scenarios as well as explicit Low, Reference, High, and Breakthrough values are provided in Section 1.1.

    Consistent with prior distributed generation analyses conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and as a first assessment of the opportunity for behind-the-meter distributed wind, this work does not consider potential competition from alternative distributed-generation sources such as rooftop solar photovoltaics, assumes federal and state tax incentives and renewable portfolio standards as legislated, and may not capture all costs of integration into the distribution network. Also, consistent with prior work, net metering and siting setbacks are varied within the range of existing policies today.

    Total Addressable Resource

    The addressable resource potential of distributed wind is large, potentially supporting millions of systems and thousands of gigawatts (GW) of power production capacity. We define addressable resource potential as the maximum amount of wind resource in the continental United States that could be sited proximal to electricity demand and constrained by key siting considerations in those areas (see Section 3). As currently estimated, the addressable resource for distributed wind does not account for potential alternative uses of developable land by other power generation technologies, including multimegawatt utility-scale wind facilities.

    In aggregate terms, the addressable resource potential for distributed wind exceeds the total U.S. electricity demand. Submegawatt-scale (<1,000 kilowatts [kW]) distributed wind turbines could provide up to approximately 3.0 terawatts (TW) of capacity, and with current wind turbine performance levels could produce 4,400 terawatt-hours (TWh) of annual energy generation. The Energy Information Administration reported the total U.S. electricity demand in 2015 to be 3,700 TWh. Megawatt-scale turbines, which can serve behind-the-meter loads for large commercial or industrial users, could provide an additional 5.1 TW of capacity and 14,000 TWh of annual energy generation.

    Economic Potential

    Focusing on sites that can generate a positive net present value under Reference scenario conditions,3 42 GW of capacity is estimated to be economically viable in 2020; this quantity decreases to 19 GW in 2030 and settles at 37 GW by 2050 (Figure ES-1). These estimates limit site-specific potential to quantities required to serve on-site load, but may include turbines of any size depending on the load to be served; relevant financial characteristics are also considered. Estimates are annual and reflect several time-varying trends—the most important of which is that the production tax credit and associated investment tax credit options are not extended. These tax credit expirations drive the decline in observed potential between 2020 and 2030. Additional important factors are technology-cost reductions and the evolution of the netmetering policy, which is assumed to expire as anticipated in current statutes.

    Considering more favorable (for distributed wind) technology, finance, and retail electricity rate conditions associated with the Combined High scenario inputs,4 the 2030 and 2050 annual outlooks for economic viability are improved for residential, commercial, and midsize turbine classes (Figure ES-1). In this scenario, an estimated 48 GW of capacity could be economically viable in 2030, with more than 85 GW in 2050. Under these more favorable economic conditions, factors beyond direct costs including consumer adoption, access to finance, siting policy, and competition from alternative distributed-generation sources are anticipated to become increasingly significant in determining market potential.

    Although these estimates suggest conditions under which large quantities of distributed wind could become economically viable, there are significant uncertainties and anticipated regional variation in key analysis assumptions that may alter the economic landscape for behind-the-meter distributed wind. Economic potential estimates are highly dependent on assumed retail electricity rates, the presence of net energy metering policies, financial incentives, and financing costs. Although highly uncertain and partially captured through the scenario framework applied here, these factors are likely to vary by state and local jurisdiction.

    Market Potential

    When considering consumer adoption trends, Reference scenario inputs5 suggest an opportunity for approximately 1.5 GW of cumulative deployed capacity in 2030 and 3.7 GW in 2050 (Figure ES-2). Assuming behind-the-meter applications are approximately half of today’s installed distributed wind capacity (approximately 500 MW), this represents an approximately300% increase in the market by 2030 and a nearly eight-fold increase (three doublings) in cumulative capacity by 2050.

    The Combined High scenario6 suggests a multiplicative effect associated with an array of conditions becoming more favorable for behind-the-meter distributed wind, and results in a cumulative market of 3.9 GW in 2030 and nearly 20 GW in 2050 (Figure ES-2). Cumulative capacity in the Combined High scenario reflects a nearly eight-fold increase in the next 14 years—by 2050, installed capacity is increased by a factor of approximately 40, or more than five doublings of cumulative capacity. Despite sizable near-term cost reductions and robust economic potential across turbine classes, consumer adoption rates applied here indicate a relatively limited ability to improve the near-term (2020) outlook for these systems.

    Conclusions

    This first-of-a-kind assessment suggests that there could be a substantive role in the nation’s electricity future for behind-the-meter distributed wind. Notwithstanding some potential overlap with the multimegawatt-utility-focused wind power resource and the current exclusion of competition from other distributed generation resources, its resource is large, and there are conditions under which the economics for large quantities (tens of gigawatts) become viable over time. To realize the opportunities presented by scenarios that consider relatively favorable conditions for behind-the-meter distributed wind, our analysis suggests that technology cost reduction, including cost reductions in balance of plant and installation, and performance improvements are necessary but not sufficient conditions to foster more robust growth. Finding mechanisms to facilitate and encourage consumer adoption as well as develop new business models that can access low-cost capital, support turnkey solutions, and drive industry-wide efficiencies are also anticipated to be essential components of a vibrant market.

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    QUICK NEWS, November 29: Climate Change Forces Hard Choices In Alaska; New Energy To Utilities-“Can’t-Beat-Us-So-Join-Us”; Fact-Checking Trump Hot Air On Wind

    Climate Change Forces Hard Choices In Alaska A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change

    Erica Goode, November 29, 2016 (NY Times)

    “…With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States and the state is heading for the warmest year on record. The government has identified at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities at imminent risk of destruction…[Some, climate change experts predict, will] be uninhabitable by 2050, their residents joining a flow of climate refugees around the globe, in Bolivia, China, Niger and other countries…These endangered Alaskan communities face a choice. They could move to higher ground, a wrenching prospect that for a small village could cost as much as $200 million. Or they could stand their ground and hope to find money to fortify their buildings and shore up their coastline…[B]oth staying and moving have their perils...The process of relocation can [be disruptive, and] take years or even decades…But few government agencies are willing to invest in maintaining villages that are menaced by erosion and flooding, especially when the communities are planning to pull up stakes…” click here for more

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    New Energy To Utilities-“Can’t-Beat-Us-So-Join-Us” Utilities Are Losing the Battle Against Solar Energy; Fighting solar energy won't be a path to success for utilities across the country.

    Travis Hoium, November 29, 2016 (Motley Fool)

    “…[U]tilities are doing everything to kill the [consumer-owned] solar boom [at the regulatory level and in ballot measures] before it gains too much traction…[V]oters have fought back and beaten [many of] the efforts to squash solar energy…[R]esidential solar companies Tesla, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, and SunPower…[are] winning the policy war against utilities, and as they do, it'll open a larger and larger market across the country…Despite utilities' spending $26 million to pass a referendum that would have undermined solar economics in the state, Florida voters rejected the utility referendum…In Nevada, less than a year after the public utility commission essentially killed the rooftop solar industry, residents overwhelmingly voted to [require the Berkshire Hathaway-owned NV Energy to give customers] energy choice…[Attempts in Wisconsin to add fees to utility bills] were rejected by the court…When solar energy goes on the ballot or to the court, it wins. That should have every utility in the country frightened…” click here for more

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    Fact-Checking Trump Hot Air On Wind Trump's wind power comments fact checked

    Ros Davidson, 25 November 2016 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…Donald Trump denied to the New York Times on November 22 that he asked leaders of Britain’s movement to exit the EU to work against the installation of wind turbines off the coast of his resort in Scotland…The UK Independence Party (Ukip), prominent in the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union, says Trump urged the party to campaign against the development of wind farms…in the weekend after his election win…[Then Mr. Trump said turbines are not made domestically, steel is emitted into atmosphere during turbine manufacturing, turbines kill massive amounts of birds, and they require large subsidies but]…[few] wind turbines are shipped globally [and more] than 21,000 US factory workers make a majority of US wind farm content…The US wind power supply chain consists of more than 500 active factories in 43 states… [with high domestic content] for nacelle assembly (>85%), towers (80-85%), and blades and hubs (50-70%)…[Steel is not emitted during manufacturing]…Wind turbines kill fewer birds than do cats, buildings or the fossil fuel industry…[and no] major national environmental organisation [opposes well-sited] wind development…” click here for more

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