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

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How utility-solar collaborations are helping solar grow
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: GE’s digital power plant
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The now and future impacts of energy storage
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy Now
  • QUICK NEWS, July 26: How Smart Buildings Can Use New Energy; U.S. Ocean Wind Industry About To Be Born; Idaho Farmers Sow Solar, Reap Rewards
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How Utility Rates Can Let New Energy Make The Grid Stronger
  • QUICK NEWS, July 25: The Solar Numbers; Target Targets Wind; Wave Energy Gets Lloyd’s Approval For First Time
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: It’s Time To Choose
  • Weekend Video: Solutions From Our Millennials
  • Weekend Video: Coal In The Water, Clean In The Wind
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Save $2 Trillion – Stop Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Germany Hits World Solar-Plus-Storage High
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Media Gets Facts Way Wrong On Wind
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Dubai To Study Geothermal, Ocean Energy Potential
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    fTHINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 21:

  • TTTA Thursday-The Climate Change Secret In The Great Trees
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Makes A Home’s Value Grow
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind In The Stock Market
  • TTTA Thursday-Doc Brown Lives! Flux Capacitor Is World’s Fastest Car
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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.

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  • THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 28:

  • Those Concerned About Climate Change Are “Brainwashed” – Repub Leader
  • Bernie Makes The Case For Hillary On Climate Change
  • President Obama Ups Spending On Solar-For-All
  • New Economics To Spur EV Growth

    Thursday, July 28, 2016

    Those Concerned About Climate Change Are “Brainwashed” – Repub Leader

    GOP chairman: Kids are ‘brainwashed’ on climate change

    Timothy Cama, July 27, 2016 (The Hill)

    “Sen. James Inhofe says school children are being ‘brainwashed’ into believing in climate change and that parents need to ‘un-brainwash’ them…[The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee] said he came to the realization when his granddaughter challenged him on his denial of the science behind global warming...Inhofe has made a name for himself nationally for doubting the scientific consensus that the climate is changing and human activity through greenhouse gas emissions is the principal cause…He threw a snowball on the Senate floor in early 2015 to protest President Obama’s positions on climate change…[and] wrote a book in 2012 declaring climate change the ‘greatest hoax’ perpetrated on humanity and has fought hard against nearly every Democratic policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” click here for more

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    Bernie Makes The Case For Hillary On Climate Change

    Sanders Says Climate Change Is a Central Election Issue; And Democratic leaders think younger voters will respond

    Evan Lehman, July 26, 2016 (Scientific American)

    “…[Billionaire climate advocate Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate organization] is spending more than $25 million to encourage millennials to vote in November…[because they are] the largest and most diverse population in the United States, and Steyer believes [they will vote on the climate issue and] help Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump on Nov. 8…[His group is also] partnering with five different unions to canvass working-class and minority neighborhoods…Large percentages of African Americans and Latinos believe that global warming is occurring, and Steyer’s group is trying to turn those concerns into electoral action…[Sen. Bernie Sanders just told the Democratic convention this] election is about ‘climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet’…[He said that Hillary Clinton is listening to scientists and calling for New Energy to combat climate change and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs while Donald Trump, like most Republicans, rejects the science and calls climate change a ‘hoax’]…” click here for more

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    President Obama Ups Spending On Solar-For-All

    Obama announces plans to increase solar energy to low-income households

    Allen Cone, July 20, 2016 (UPI)

    “President Barack Obama announced plans to bring more solar energy to American homes, with a focus on a 10-times increase on the alternative energy for low- and moderate-income households…The Clean Energy Savings For All initiative will expand the use of solar power with new programs to help reduce solar energy costs for consumers…Obama noted that solar usage has increased 30 fold since he took office and the number of jobs in the solar industry is increasing 12 times faster than in the rest of the economy…[Adding the remaining 75% of the President’s 1-gigawatt by 2020 goal for low-income homes] would amount to a 10-fold increase…Housing authorities in 36 states have agreed to invest $287 million to help finance 280 megawatts of solar energy projects in low and moderate-income communities…[making for a] total investment of $800 million…” click here for more

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    New Economics To Spur EV Growth

    Electric car economics are showing some sparks

    Jerry Edgerton, July 27, 2016 (CBS News Moneywatch)

    “…Except for the glamorous and expensive Tesla Model S, electric vehicle sales for the first half of 2016 are down 11 percent, according to Kelley Blue Book…[but the economics of EVs] may be changing…[and] an electric vehicle can be a money-saver for some commuters even in an era of low gas prices…[The Department of Transportation just announced it will] use up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to spur creation of a national network of fast-charging stations for electric cars…[through] a coalition of automakers and utilities to get behind this effort…[T]he Chevrolet Bolt will be the first affordable electric with a range of about 200 miles before it needs recharging…[T]he average price of a one- to three- year-old Nissan Leaf is just $12,533…[T]he fueleconomy.gov website estimates savings of $4,000 over five years for that Leaf compared with the average 2013 car…[A 240-volt level-two home charger now costs about $1,500 to] buy and install…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, July 27, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How utility-solar collaborations are helping solar grow

    Defying the usual headlines: How utility-solar collaborations are helping solar grow; 5 utilities, solar businesses and individuals received awards from SEPA for advancing solar

    Herman K. Trabish, October 15, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Defying the many headlines about utilities and solar advocates often being at odds, representatives of both industries cheered each other at the Solar Power Players Awards luncheon during Solar Power International 2015 (SPI)…

    Carmine Tilghman, the senior director of energy supply at Tucson Electric Power (TEP) Senior Director of Energy Supply. Tilghman was awarded the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) Solar Champion for 2015… for a career-long effort in solar but especially for the Arizona Science & Technology Park Solar Zone, which tests utility-scale solar generation technologies and for his leadership of TEP’s innovative residential rooftop solar program…

    Consolidated Edison's (Con Ed) initiative to integrate solar onto the New York City grid won the company the Investor-Owned Utility of the Year award from SEPA…The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina (ECSC) and Central Electric Power Cooperative (CEPC), their generation and transmission (G&T) provider, were named the electric cooperative of the year award for their collaborative two year effort to write and see through the Distributed Energy Resources Act of 2014 (Act 236), South Carolina’s first solar legislation

    The New York Power Authority (NYPA) received its award for deploying the $1 billion NY-SUN public-private initiative headed up by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)…Inverter manufacturer Enphase Energy won the SEPA's “Partner of the Year” award for its work with the Hawaiian Electric Company to grow residential rooftop solar… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: GE’s digital power plant

    How digital power plant tech can help utilities get the most from their assets; GE says its new plant technology can yield up to $230M in annual benefits for a gas plant

    Herman K. Trabish, October 19, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    As policymakers push for the integration of more variable renewable generation, the need to balance supply and demand on the grid in the most clean and efficient manner will only grow. While storage offers one solution, another big opportunity, especially in the short term, is optimizing existing peaker resources like GE's new digital power plant for the grid…

    At its core, a digital power plant is a combination of software and hardware that interact in a generation plant to make it more flexible and responsive to grid demands...GE Power and Water, the company's power subsidiary, unvieled its offering last month, and aims to make its digital plants landmarks of the industrial internet as it moves toward fulfilling the promise of its 2014 annual report, “A new kind of industrial company.”

    The effort is part of GE's much-heralded corporate shift away from financeand back toward its industrial roots…Two things are necessary, scalable digital technologies that leverage real-time operational data and an insider’s understanding of the physical boundaries of the plant.

    In a white paper released alongside its digital power plant announcement, GE foresees a “convergence of digital and physical innovations, together with advances in energy technologies…” The digital power plant is a realization of that vision…The wind industry leads the development, with over 4,000 turbines already running an early iteration of GE’s digital wind farm… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The now and future impacts of energy storage

    Primer: The now and future impacts of energy storage; With renewables growth comes the need to move variable generation to when customers use power most

    Herman K. Trabish, October 20, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Grid operators and forward-thinking utilities are already getting a glimpse of what energy storage can do – but they ain’t seen nothin’ yet…Multi-megawatt energy storage installations are now providing services and finding value propositions and use case scenarios around the world and at all levels of the grid, according to Energy Storage Association (ESA) Executive Director Matt Roberts. And there are gigawatts of projects already on planners’ horizons…

    Cost estimates vary, but all show storage rapidly becoming more affordable, he said, citing four sources. A Navigant study predicted a 4 hour battery storage system would be as low as $700 per kWh by 2020 while Oncor foresees a $350 per kWh cost in 2020. Morgan Stanley estimates battery-only costs will eventually approach $125 per kWh and Tesla has said its lithium-ion battery-only cost is already $110 per kWh.

    The battery cells make up around 30% to 40% of a battery system and the rest is in the cost of the balance of system (BOS) hardware like inverters, switches, control systems and power electronics, Roberts said…An ESA-calculated 5.8% drop in BOS costs by 2030 takes the system installed cost to around $400 per kW, he added…

    There are as many as 30 to 40 different applications for energy storage on the grid “but there are multiple applications within each segment that storage can provide value in,” Roberts said…End users are looking for technologies that allow them to manage their energy consumption..Energy storage is already succeeding in the marketplace as a flexibility resource because it has a very fast response time…Storage as a capacity resource is likely to be an increasingly important market factor because it addresses the burden on the electrical system of peaking demand…In further modeling, B&V found the effect of solar and storage on load was very much dependent on policy questions like the availability of incentives and time-of-use rates… click here for more

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    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy Now

    New Energy Outlook 2016

    July 1, 2016 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    Executive Summary

    Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.

    • Weaker coal and gas prices have reduced the cost of electricity from new fossil fuel power stations. Recovering oil prices in the near term and the influence of rising US production costs on LNG markets in the longer-term will put upward pressure on gas prices, which we forecast rising to $6-9/MMBtu in 2040. Seaborne coal however appears to be in structural decline. Coal prices have been falling since their last peak in 2011 and a combination of China’s economic slow-down coupled with developed country emissions regulations, carbon prices, cheap gas and India’s plan to develop its domestic resources leads us to conclude that coal prices will remain low.

    • At the same time wind and solar keep getting cheaper. While already competitive in a number of countries today without policy support, the cost of onshore wind is expected to drop 41% by 2040, driven primarily by improving capacity factors – which reach 33% on average in 2030 and 41% in 2040. The solar experience curve also marches on, but decline in technology cost is increasingly accompanied by a reduction in the cost of development, finance and operation pushing new utility-scale solar down 60% from a $74-$220/MWh range today, to a central estimate of around $40/MWh worldwide in 2040.

    • Solar’s precipitous cost decline sees it emerge as the least-cost generation technology in most countries by 2030. It will account for 3.7TW, or 43%, of new power generating capacity added in 2016-40 and for over $3 trillion of new investment. Small-scale solar makes up a bit more than a third of this new capacity. Starting with Europe, Australia and the US but quickly spreading to India and other countries, households and businesses add solar PV on the rooftops to offset retail power bills almost everywhere. The bulk of solar PV is utility-scale, installation of which accelerates in China, Europe, the US and Africa from 2025 and in India from 2030. Overall, solar PV supplies 15% of world electricity by 2040, seeing an average $135bn invested per year over the next 25 years.

    • Non-OECD countries will see the bulk of new capacity, with China and India leading the way. Renewables make up 61% of deployment in non-OECD economies but, in the absence of carbon policy, coal will continue to be important. In the next five years we see China adding almost 190GW of coal plants, but a moratorium on new coal plants there post-2020 will leave India, South East Asia and the Middle East adding the most new capacity thereafter.

    • In the OECD, electricity demand fundamentals continue to look weak as economic and population growth fails to keep up with falling electricity intensity. Daily load profiles are also getting ‘peakier’, reflecting more household and commercial consumption and less steady industrial baseload. This trend, coupled with higher renewables penetration, means that power systems will increasingly need to reward system services such as demand response, battery storage, interconnectors and control systems that work along with traditional firm capacity to help match supply with demand. Around 336GW of this ‘flexible capacity’ is added in the OECD, and 938GW globally, to 2040.

    • By around 2027, new wind and solar gets cheaper than running existing coal and gas generators, particularly where carbon pricing is in place. This is a tipping point that results in rapid and widespread renewables development. Repowering of existing wind sites also begins to make-up a larger fraction of activity in Germany, Denmark, California and China, accounting for 43% of wind development by the early 2030s.

    • Over the next 25 years, electric vehicles will provide 2,701TWh of additional electricity demand, to reach 8% of world consumption. Our modelling suggests electric vehicles will make up 25% of the global car fleet by 2040, putting continuous downward pressure on battery costs through technology development, economies of scale and manufacturing experience. Cheaper batteries increasingly bring small-scale and grid-scale storage options into play.

    • Small-scale PV reaches socket parity in all major developed economies and by 2020 we expect battery storage to become commonly deployed alongside rooftop systems. Driven by strong consumer uptake economics, over 10% of global generating capacity will be smallscale PV by 2040, though in some countries this share will be significantly higher. Adjoined battery systems increase the capacity factor of home solar systems by around 5 percentage points and help push around 1,795TWh of generation worldwide behind the meter.

    • The cost of gas-fired power has fallen in line with oil prices and oversupply in the LNG market, making it broadly cheaper than renewables for the time being. However, in only a handful of countries do we see material uptake in new gas-fired power as a transition fuel. These include the US, where gas capacity grows by 97GW to 2040 – though the bulk of that happens in the years to 2030.

    • As new wind and solar capacity is added worldwide, generation using these technologies rises ninefold to 10,591TWh by 2040, and to 30% of the global total, from 5% in 2015. By 2040, Germany, Mexico, the UK and Australia all have average wind and solar penetration of more than 50%. With the increase in renewable generation comes a fall in the run-hours of coal and gas plants, contributing to the retirement of 819GW of coal and 691GW of gas worldwide over the next 25 years. The fossil plant remaining on-line will increasingly be needed, along with new flexible capacity, to help meet peak demand, as well as to ramp up when solar comes offline in the evening.

    • Despite retirements, coal generation remains almost flat to 2040. The combination of pollution regulations, carbon prices and a lack of electricity demand growth, drives net closure of 286GW of coal in OECD economies to 2040. Meanwhile, China’s moratorium on new coalfired power post-2020 as it deals with its air pollution problems, coupled with its near-term slowdown in electricity demand growth, means that country sees 66GW less coal installed to 2040 than we anticipated last year. And despite some uptick in the near term, by 2020 US coal has joined Europe in terminal decline. However, low coal prices also mean more new coal capacity in countries such as India. It will see 258GW of new capacity and a trebling of coal consumption by 2040.

    • Gas’ role as a 'transitional fuel’ appears overstated outside the US as it accounts for just 16% of global generation in 2040, with TWh generated up only modestly. Demand increases about 10% to 2026 as France, the UK and Germany retire nuclear plants and consumption rises in North America and the Middle East. However from 2027, gas generation begins a slow decline in Europe, and then in the US and China. India once again is the major economy to buck the trend, becoming Asia’s largest gas power market by 2040, with 79GW of cumulative capacity.

    • Although nuclear retirements to 2025 slow the decline of fossil fuel generation, Europe sees significant decarbonisation to 2040, with renewables rising to 70% of generation in 2040. Solar accounts for almost half of all new capacity. This is driven initially by small-scale adoption, before ongoing cost declines makes large-scale solar cost-competitive. Onshore wind sees half of all new investment in Europe as green-field projects increasingly give way to repowering. The uptake of electric vehicles now adds around 455TWh of new consumption in 2040, potentially providing some respite for European utilities in the face of weak demand fundamentals. There is also a 405% increase in behind-the-meter generation to a tenth of total electricity in 2040, as households increasingly add battery storage to small-scale PV systems.

    • The Asia-Pacific region will experience colossal growth in new power generation capacity over the next 25 years, with installed capacity tripling and electricity generation doubling. Renewable energy will make up nearly two-thirds – or $3.6tn – of the 4,890GW added during this period. Onshore wind will bring in the largest share of investment at $1.3 trillion, while utility-scale PV sees $897bn. This mountain of capacity will drive renewable energy penetration to 38% by 2040, up from 21% in 2015. However, helped by abundant seaborne and domestic supplies, coal will remain the biggest source of electricity for the region through 2040. All that coal means that power sector emissions in Asia-Pacific region do not peak over our forecast time horizon, rising to 9.9Gt per year in 2040, up 32% compared with 2015. Behind this there is of course great country-level divergence. For example, China’s power sector emissions fall by 5% over the 2015-40 period, while emissions in India treble.

    • Different countries in the Americas will follow different pathways to change. In North America, total capacity stands to grow by a third to 2040 as the region forms a more integrated market in which electricity and natural gas flow across borders in unprecedented quantities and renewables take greater prominence. Natural gas will play a key role in electricity generation across North America over the next decade, accounting for 15% of all new build, replacing coal in the US and seeing strong growth in Mexico. At the same time, renewables continue to grow, helped in the short term by US tax incentives but in the medium term by out-competing gas and coal in many countries. Latin America sees over 798bn of investment in new power generation capacity as it continues to diversify away from an overreliance on drought-prone hydro.

    • In the Middle East & Africa, renewables enjoy an eightfold increase over the next 25 years to reach 55% of all power generating capacity by 2040, up from 16% today. Solar and wind see 646GW, or around 60%, of total additions, the bulk of which is utility-scale solar PV. This is already emerging as a competitive alternative to gas-fired power and becomes the leastcost option universally by 2030. In contrast, gas sees around 20% of the additions to 2040, when it will account for just over a third of generation, down from over 50% today. Oil-fired power drops from around 20% to 2% in 2040 as the countries of the region shift their focus to more economic sources of power generation.

    • World power sector emissions peak in 2027 at 13,728Mt as China’s economic slow-down limits global emissions growth in the near term. However, despite $9.2 trillion of new clean energy investment worldwide, equating to $370bn per year, power sector emissions will still be 5% higher in 2040, as progress in the EU, US and China is offset by steep emissions growth in India and SE Asia. To bridge the gap to a two-degree emissions trajectory, we would need another $5.3 trillion, or $212bn per year, over the next 25 years.

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    QUICK NEWS, July 26: How Smart Buildings Can Use New Energy; U.S. Ocean Wind Industry About To Be Born; Idaho Farmers Sow Solar, Reap Rewards

    How Smart Buildings Can Use New Energy Smart building technology helps reduce energy costs

    Phillip Tracy, July 25, 2016 (RCR Wireless News)

    “…[Today’s smart buildings] are alive, equipped with technology that allows for automated processes of things…Many older buildings have the capability to become smart buildings, but owners and executives often overlook the perks of automation…[By using the “internet of things” to get more efficiencies, smart buildings] can lead to significant financial gain for property owners, and increase production of those working within these structures…Smart building systems also can improve building operations, sustainability and decision making…[Money-saving processes include: Matching occupancy patterns to energy use…Proactive maintenance of equipment…[and taking signals from the electricity market and altering usage to gets] the lowest possible energy costs and often generates revenue…” click here for more

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    U.S. Ocean Wind Industry About To Be Born First offshore wind farm in U.S. to begin final construction phase

    July 25, 2016 (Environment America)

    “…[In the next few days, Deepwater Wind will begin installing the turbine towers and blades for the first U.S. offshore wind project, three] miles southeast of Block Island, R.I., and east of Long Island, N.Y…With the potential to supply all of Block Island with clean power, the 30 MW wind farm could jumpstart the nation’s efforts to finally capture the immense pollution-free resource off our coasts…Located in a renewable energy zone designated by Rhode Island state officials several years ago, the Block Island project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next 20 years in amounts equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road, create more than 300 jobs, and save local residents up to 40 percent on their energy bills…Other projects off the Atlantic Coast could provide similar benefits. A 2014 report showed that the 1.5 million acres designated for wind energy off the Atlantic Coast could support enough electricity to power over 5 million homes, offsetting dirty fossil fuel energy sources and creating local jobs…” click here for more

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    Idaho Farmers Sow Solar, Reap Rewards A new crop is now growing in Idaho: Solar energy

    Cynthia Sewell, July 25, 2016 (Idaho Statesman)

    “…[Every morning on a 360-acre stretch of land south of Boise, 174,800 polysilicon photovoltaic solar panels begin to move on a single-axis tracking system with the] first shafts of sunlight…Throughout the day, the solar panels quietly rotate from east to west, following the sun and absorbing its energy to create 40 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 29,000 homes…[The Idaho Solar 1 project] is putting a new crop on former Treasure Valley farmland: solar energy…[The first commercial solar farm to be built in Idaho] will deliver electricity to Idaho Power for at least the next 20 years…Construction began in December and was completed in April. The project will go online in August…[Idaho Power has contracts with eight solar projects] with a combined total capacity of 240 megawatts…[It is also planning a community solar pilot program to allow customers without solar-suitable roofs access to solar]…’ click here for more

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    Monday, July 25, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: How Utility Rates Can Let New Energy Make The Grid Stronger

    Rate Design for a Distributed Grid; Recommendations for Electric Rate Design in the Era of Distributed Generation

    July 21, 2016 (TechNet, Sierra Club, SEIA, Vote Solar, The Alliance for Solar Choice, CalSEIA, SolarCity)

    Executive Summary

    In response to the growing popularity of rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources (DERs), 1 some electric utilities have recently begun seeking ratemaking changes that would discourage customers from generating their own power and otherwise buying less electricity from their utility. These changes – which include higher fixed charges and reduced compensation for exported energy – are justified by a purported concern about costs being shifted among customers of the same rate class.

    The utilities’ ratemaking ideas are often expressed by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), most recently in a rate design “Primer” sent to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC). 2 In that document, EEI makes three fundamentally incorrect assumptions about rate design: (1) that a very large proportion of a utility’s costs should be considered “fixed” costs; (2) that distributed generation and conservation do not substantially reduce those “fixed” costs or provide other benefits beyond avoiding the short-run energy cost; and (3) that rates based on volumetric energy usage and net metering invariably cause costs to be shifted from low-usage customers and those who self-generate to high-usage ones.

    This paper responds to EEI first by examining the allegation that rooftop solar shifts costs onto other utility customers. We point out that the assumption of a cross-subsidy rests largely on the premise that self-generation provides no benefit to the utility and its ratepayers other than reducing the short-run cost to buy or generate power. To the contrary, we show that rooftop solar provides a wide range of benefits, including avoided generation, transmission and distribution capacity, lower wholesale market prices, reduced volatility, and avoided pollution.

    In fact, when the full range of avoided costs and other benefits is considered in a complete cost-benefit analysis, solar net energy metering (NEM) – which provides retail credit for solar energy exported to the grid – has been shown to convey net benefits to non-participating ratepayers. A recent meta-analysis of net metering cost-benefit studies by the Brookings Institution concluded that “net metering is more often than not a net benefit to the grid and all ratepayers.”

    Next, we offer some rate design principles aimed at achieving broad ratepayer and societal benefits. Good rate design empowers customers to control their energy costs through conservation and adoption of emerging technologies while sending price signals that efficiently allocate capital investment, which can lower costs for all ratepayers. Rates should not be designed simply to protect utilities from competition, and customers are entitled to universal service, usage-based pricing, and fair compensation for energy exports.

    Finally, we offer a series of reforms that that could better integrate DERs into the electric grid and maximize their value to ratepayers. In particular, DERs should be included in long-term resource planning so that utilities are not building new infrastructure, such as power plants and transmission lines that could be replaced by DERs at lower cost. In tandem with incorporating DERs into utility planning, regulators should consider changes to the utility business model – including revenue decoupling and new ratemaking mechanisms – that would mitigate the utility’s financial incentive to choose rate-based capital expenses over customer-owned resources as a means to satisfy infrastructure needs.

    We conclude this paper by offering the following recommendations:

    Ø Study the impact of distributed resources by conducting a rigorous analysis of the costs and benefits

    Ø Design electricity rates that empower customers to control energy costs and adopt new technologies that provide system benefits

    Ø Implement technology standards to gradually increase the functionality and benefits of distributed resources

    Ø Incorporate distributed resources into utility planning in order to defer or replace traditional infrastructure

    Ø Update utility business models so that utilities have greater financial incentive to rely upon customer-sited distributed resources to meet infrastructure needs

    Ø Implement rate changes gradually and incrementally, with grandfathering for customers who made long-term capital investments on the basis of previously existing rates…

    Conclusion

    Distributed Energy Resources bring much needed technological innovation, competition, and customer engagement to the utility sector, and the benefits of these resources to both participating and nonparticipating ratepayers is likely to be substantial. Thus, regulators should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to rate design, but should instead devise solutions that are appropriate for ratepayers and also appropriately reflect state and federal energy policy goals, including:

    • Studying the impacts: States should conduct a rigorous independent cost-effectiveness study to determine whether distributed solar under current rate structures imposes a net benefit or a net cost on all of their ratepayers and how distributed solar impacts total system costs. Policymakers can play an important role by seeking to standardize which costs and benefits are considered and how they are evaluated.

    • Modernizing utility planning: Regulators should seek ways to incorporate solar and other DERs into utility planning so that these resources can be used to defer traditional infrastructure investments and reduce total system costs. Integrated Resource Planning and Distribution Resource Planning processes can be an effective way to accomplish this.

    • Updating utility business models: States may consider implementing revenue decoupling, in addition to more extensive changes to utility business models and revenue mechanisms in order to provide an incentive for utilities to rely upon customer-sited DERs to meet infrastructure needs.

    • Implementing technology standards: States may wish to consider implementing technology standards developed by national or international standards-making bodies, programs, and best practices to enhance the value of the resources. For example, at 5% solar PV penetration, a state may wish to mandate solar smart inverters that can provide reactive power and voltage control as a condition of interconnecting under the NEM tariff.

    • Encouraging choice: Regulators should design electric rates to encourage customers to choose distributed generation and foster emerging technologies that have the potential to reduce electricity costs and environmental impacts. For example, time-of-use rates can encourage customers to adopt energy storage or load-shifting technologies capable of reducing the need for central generating capacity and distribution system upgrades.

    • Gradualism, grandfathering, and predictability: Rate changes, if deemed necessary, should be introduced gradually so that sellers of retail energy services have a stable business climate in which to operate. Existing customers should be grandfathered into pre-existing rates so as not to destroy the value of systems already installed and any new rates should be stable and predictable to ensure that customer investments can lock-in value for the life of the system.

    Finally, regulators should design rates with an eye to the benefits of emerging technology and competition in the utility space. With little competition over the past 100 years, monopoly utilities have had little incentive to innovate, and the technologies used to generate and transmit electricity have changed little during that time. The emergence of distributed energy resources offers the promise of a cleaner and more competitive electric industry, providing consumers with the benefits of innovation and efficiency that accompany competitive markets. Regulators should resist allowing incumbent monopolies to use rate design as a means to squelch innovation and stifle customer choice

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    QUICK NEWS, July 25: The Solar Numbers; Target Targets Wind; Wave Energy Gets Lloyd’s Approval For First Time

    The Solar Numbers How Popular Is Home Solar Energy? Number of systems and megawatts

    Cassandra Sweet and Jess Kuronen, July 29, 2016 (Wall Street Journal)

    “…[The U.S. installed 1,665 MW of solar PV in Q1 2016 to reach 29.3 GW of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes. With more than 1 million individual solar installations nationwide, the industry is on pace to nearly double in size in 2016. The residential solar market remained strong, with a fourth consecutive quarter with more than 500 MW of capacity brought online] …Falling equipment prices and competition among installers have driven the average price of a home solar system down 10.6% over the past year to $3.21 per watt, or $16,050 for a five-kilowatt solar array…[GTM Research forecasts that 14.5 GW of new PV installations will come on-line in 2016, up 94% over 2015. Utility PV is expected to drive the majority of demand, accounting for nearly three-fourths of new capacity]…” click here for more

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    Target Targets Wind Target powers up with wind energy in 60 Texan stores; Partnership with Starwood Energy Group will see discount retailer use 100 per cent wind power in 60 of its stores

    Jocelyn Timperley, 22 July 2016 (BusinessGreen)

    “Discount retail giant Target has struck a new partnership with renewables investment firm Starwood Energy Group to use 100 per cent wind power in 60 of its Texas stores…[Target will] invest in the 211MW Stephens Ranch Wind Project owned by Starwood Energy, a 118-turbine wind farm near the city of Lubbock in Texas, in order to offset the energy use of the 60 stores…The deal will result in Target saving around 550,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the firm said, roughly equivalent to the amount 115,000 passenger vehicles produce in a year. It will also save Target 153 million watts per hour in annual energy costs…[T]he model could be rolled out at more sites across the US…In October 2015 [Target] unveiled eight new climate pledge commitments for 2020, including adding solar rooftop panels to 500 of its stores and reducing both energy intensity and water use in its shops by 10 per cent per square foot…” click here for more

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    Wave Energy Gets Lloyd’s Approval For First Time Lloyds grants first wave energy technology qualification

    14 July 2016 (Offshore Engineer)

    “Following more than two years of cooperation, Lloyd's Register has awarded its first Technology Qualification certificate to a developer of ocean energy technology, AW-Energy in Finland…Wave energy is [a predictable and significant] untapped resource of clean renewable energy globally, with a potential greater than the capacity of all the installed fossil fuel plants in Europe combined…AW-Energy has been developing WaveRoller technology for over 15 years and the engineering team since early 2014 has cooperated with Lloyd's Register on the Technology Qualification process for certification…[This qualification for bankability] paves the way to commercialization for the wave energy industry…” click here for more

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    Saturday, July 23, 2016

    It’s Time To Choose

    The choice is stark. Trump made his case for fossil fuels. Here’s the case for New Energy. Pick – only the entire future is at stake. From Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films via YouTube

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    Solutions From Our Millennials

    The next generation is building New Energy solutions. All they need is the right support. From U.S. Dept of Energy via YouTube

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    Coal In The Water, Clean In The Wind

    Time to choose between cancer and New Energy. A little less in taxes or childerns’ lives? Do the math. From Time To Choose via YouTube.

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    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Save $2 Trillion – Stop Climate Change

    Heat stress from climate change may cost global economies $2 trillion by 2030

    Katie Medlock, July 21. 2016 (Inhabitat)

    “Research reveals yet another loss we can anticipate at the hands of climate change: global productivity. Heat stress in lower income countries has already shortened work days, which could result in a net loss of $2 trillion across all global economies by the year 2030. The sad irony is that the countries contributing the least to global warming will end up hurting the most…[Six new studies detail] the economic devastation coming our way on the heels of rising temperatures…First world countries, who contribute far more to our dire climate situation, can afford to adapt to the productivity challenges…[F]actories can invest in alternative means of cooling their machinery and bigger companies can afford to shift around workers’ schedules. Lower income countries will be the first to experience the growing economic burden, due to low-skill, low-paying, and labor intensive jobs being affected more severely by heat stress…Up to 43 countries, including China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, could take an economic hit by 2030. [Southeast Asian countries’ work hours have been slashed 15 to 20 percent because of extreme heat, a figure which could double in the next 30 years or so]…” click here for more

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    Germany Hits World Solar-Plus-Storage High

    Germany Sets a New Solar Storage Record

    July 18, 2016 (Energy Collective)

    “Germany’s 1.5 million photovoltaic installations provide a generation capacity of 40 gigawatts (GW), four times the 10.8 GW base-load nuclear fleet that is being decommissioned in legislated stages between the end of 2017 and 2022…[S]olar power has a particular advantage over centralised nuclear generation, in that it needs no long-distance transmission to serve local markets…[But there is overall grid congestion and, in response, the] German government has now announced restrictions on additional renewable capacities…[T]here is another way of addressing grid congestion: by increasing local storage for subsequent usage…Fully autonomous off-grid solar systems are expensive, but partial storage in grid-connected systems provides improved economy for both homeowners and power utilities. The Renewable Energy Storage Subsidy Program of the KfW Development Bank arranges low-interest federal loans and payback assistance covering up to 25% of the required investment outlays. KfW has determined that 41% of Germany’s new solar installations in 2015 included battery storage, compared with less than 14% the previous year. This level of adoption likely constitutes a world record for dedicated solar storage…” click here for more

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    Aussie Media Gets Facts Way Wrong On Wind

    Murdoch media gets it hopelessly wrong on wind energy. Again.

    Giles Parkinson, July 20, 2016 (ReNew Economy)

    “…[The latest] Murdoch media attack on the Australia wind industry…suggests that South Australia’s wind turbines were producing significant amounts of ‘negative power’ from the grid at the height of the recent electricity ‘crisis’…but the numbers it quotes are so ridiculously wrong it is almost laughable…[The Murdoch media apparently does not know] the difference between capacity and output…The state’s wind turbines cannot produce 5,780MW because they only have a combined capacity of 1,600MW. There’s not even 5,780MW of wind capacity in the whole country…[There is ‘negative output’ when turbines are not generating but, like a coal or gas plant, the facility needs power from the grid for lights, computers, etc. It was, according to government statistics, not 50MW but no more than 1.8MW]…To adapt an old expression, there are lies, damned lies, and the Murdoch media, particularly when it comes to writing about renewable energy (and climate change for that matter)…” click here for more

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    Dubai To Study Geothermal, Ocean Energy Potential

    Dubai to explore feasibility of geothermal energy

    LeAnne Graves, July 18, 2016 (The National)

    “…[Dubai is studying] renewable sources of energy it can make use of, such as the seas of the Gulf of Oman and the steam from the earth…Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) is requesting proposals for an early-stage feasibility study on producing electricity from geothermal energy and its use in desalination – removing salt from water to make it potable…The other area of focus for the study will be to, for the first time in the country, gauge the potential for tidal, wave and ocean currents as a source for power generation…Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy includes the aim to generate 75 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2050…” click here for more

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    Thursday, July 21, 2016

    The Climate Change Secret In The Great Trees

    How ancient sequoias may hold a key to reversing climate change; The massive, ancient trees were once thought to be vulnerable to drought and fire. But now, scientists are attempting to clone and replant them all over the world to absorb greenhouse gasses

    Simone McCarthy, July 20, 2016 (Christian Science Monitor)

    “Planting more trees to absorb carbon is one of the many ways that humans are working to combat climate change across the world…[M]eticulously collecting samples from ancient sequoia trees to then clone them in a lab and replant them throughout the world…[is the climate change “solution”] being undertaken by the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive…[T]hey put particular hope in the sequoia, native only to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The group says that the genetics of these trees, which grow to be some 300 feet tall and 3,000 years old, may make them particularly suited to withstand and push back against climate change…The nonprofit group takes the extra step of cloning, instead of just planting new trees, in order to preserve existing trees' genetic make-up and propagate the genes that have produced success…[R]esearch and observation have shown the sequoia to be resilient in the face of drought…” click here for more

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    Solar Makes A Home’s Value Grow

    Increase Your Home’s Value with Solar Panels; Consider installing a home solar system to save money on utility bills and boost your home’s value.

    Shelley Stonebrook, August/September 2016 (Mother Earth News)

    “…Installing a home solar system may provide long-term benefits to your household’s bottom line in reduced energy costs…[and] there’s another key financial perk to consider…[A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report showed] a home’s value will increase about $15,000 if it includes an average-sized PV system (about 3.6 kW). When analyzing the data in terms of units of energy produced, the researchers found that property value goes up about $4 per watt of energy generated by the solar system installed on a given home…The researchers found only a small and insignificant difference in the value added for new homes with solar systems compared with existing homes that were retrofitted with a PV system. This means you can use solar to increase your home’s value even if it’s an older home…” click here for more

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    Wind In The Stock Market

    New Wind Energy Stock Debuts on NASDAQ...

    Jeff Seigel, July 19, 2016 (Wealth Daily)

    “…[$7 trillion is] expected to flow into the clean technologies space…[because] the rapid decrease in production costs for wind and solar…[is] allowing these clean energy technologies to compete with fossil fuels and nuclear for the first time — and without continued subsidies…[and] while production costs for wind and solar continue to fall, production costs for fossil fuels and nuclear continue to increase…[W]hen it comes to investing, it’s all about growth. And in terms of energy, nothing is growing faster than clean energy…I tend to side with the major players…like GE, Siemens, and ABB…[T]he best pure plays are those that continue to have the necessary capital, technology, and first-mover advantage…[like] SunPower, SolarEdge, First Solar, and Vestas…[but most of those stocks] have taken a beating this year…[A new wind stock, TPI Composites (NASDAQ: TPIC), will] begin trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol TPIC…” click here for more

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