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: Predicted Fires And Floods Arrive
  • Weekend Video: Speaking Of Big Losers
  • Weekend Video: The Automated Electric Vehicle Future
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Ultimate Allergy Remedy – Stop Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World Needs More Plug-In Cars
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-India Sets Wind Power Records
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Is The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Green Fleet Really Green?
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Change Could Cost Millenials Trillions
  • TTTA Thursday-Is Rhode Island Wind Energy’s Wedge?
  • TTTA Thursday-How Texas National Guard Could Go Green
  • TTTA Thursday-California Leads The Way To Cars With Plugs
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Your Utility Wants An App For You
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Better Price Signals To Customers for New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Oregon Lawmakers Order Battery Energy Storage
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Deeper Look At Utilities – Arizona Public Service
  • QUICK NEWS, August 23: The Climate Change Fight Will Boost The Economy; Solar Shingles Versus Solar Panels; How Very Much Oil & Gas Don't Need Their Tax Breaks
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Wind Right Now
  • QUICK NEWS, August 22: Having Children In A Time Of Climate Change; Tips On Picking Solar Panels; 4 Things To Think About Before Buying An EV
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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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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, August 29:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How Low Can The Cost Of Wind Go?
  • QUICK NEWS, August 29: The History Of Climate Change; To Buy Or To Finance Solar, That Is The Question; Wind Fits The National Power Mix

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Cost Of Solar Market Right Now

    Tracking the Sun IX The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States

    Galen Barbose and Naïm Darghouth, August 2016 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Now in its ninth edition, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)’s Tracking the Sun report series is dedicated to summarizing trends in the installed price of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. The present report focuses on residential and non-residential systems installed through year-end 2015, with preliminary trends for the first half of 2016. An accompanying LBNL report, Utility-Scale Solar, addresses trends in the utility-scale sector. This year’s report incorporates a number of important changes and enhancements from prior editions. Among those changes, LBNL has made available a public data file containing all non-confidential project-level data underlying the analysis in this report.

    Installed pricing trends presented within this report derive primarily from project-level data reported to state agencies and utilities that administer PV incentive programs, solar renewable energy credit (SREC) registration systems, or interconnection processes. Refer to the text box to the right for several key notes about these data. In total, data were collected and cleaned for more than 820,000 individual PV systems, representing 85% of U.S. residential and non-residential PV systems installed cumulatively through 2015 and 82% of systems installed in 2015. The analysis in this report is based on a subset of this sample, consisting of roughly 450,000 systems with available installed price data. Key findings from this year’s report are as follows, with all numerical results denoted in real 2015 dollars and direct current (DC) Watts (W):

    Installed Prices Continued to Decline through 2015 and into 2016. National median installed prices in 2015 declined year-over-year by $0.2/W (5%) for residential systems, by $0.3/W (7%) for non-residential systems ≤500 kW, and by $0.3/W (9%) for non-residential systems >500 kW. This continues the steady downward trend in PV system pricing, though the pace of decline is somewhat slower than in recent years. Preliminary data for the first half of 2016 show a mixed picture, but generally suggest that installed prices have continued to fall at a modest pace, at least within a number of key states and market segments. The slowing rate of decline may partly reflect a number of confounding factors could be offsetting underlying cost reductions. These include, for example, the increasing prevalence of solar loans with origination fees embedded in the installed price, greater use of module-level power electronics, module import tariffs, and a shift in the underlying geographical mix of the data sample towards more-expensive states (e.g., California).

    Recent Installed Price Reductions Have Been Driven Primarily by Declines in Soft Costs. A period of rapidly falling installed prices began in 2009, prompted by a steep drop in global prices for PV modules. Since 2012, however, module prices have remained relatively flat, while installed prices have continued to fall as a result of continuing reductions in the variety of other, non-module costs. Reductions in inverter and racking equipment costs constitute roughly 20% of the drop in non-module costs for residential systems in recent years. Much of the remainder can be attributed to reductions in the aggregate set of “soft” costs, which have fallen partly as a result of increases in system size and module efficiency, though also because of a broader array of efforts within the industry and among policymakers to target soft costs.

    Installed Price Declines Have Been Partially Offset by Falling Incentives. Cash incentives (i.e., rebates and performance-based incentives) provided through state and utility PV incentive programs have fallen substantially since their peak a decade ago, and have been largely phased-out in many key markets. Depending on the particular program, reductions in cash incentives over the long-term equate to roughly 60% to 120% of the corresponding drop in installed prices. This trend is partly a response to installed price declines and the emergence of other forms of incentives, however it has also been a deliberate strategy by program administrators to drive cost reductions in the industry.

    National Median Installed Prices Are Relatively High Compared to Other Recent Benchmarks, Particularly for Residential and Smaller Non-Residential Systems. Across all systems in the data sample installed in 2015, the median installed price was $4.1/W for residential systems, $3.5/W for non-residential systems ≤500 kW in size, and $2.5/W for non-residential systems >500 kW. By comparison, a number of other recent benchmarks for PV system prices or costs range from $2.7/W to $4.5/W for residential systems, and from $1.7/W to $4.3/W for non-residential systems. Differences between national median prices and these other benchmarks reflect the diversity of underlying data sources, methodologies, and definitions. For example, national median prices are historical in nature, represent prices not costs, are heavily impacted by several large and relatively high-priced state markets, and may be subject to inconsistent reporting practices across installers. The national median prices presented in this report thus should not necessarily be taken as indicative of “typical” pricing in all contexts, nor should they be considered equivalent to the underlying costs faced by installers.

    Installed Prices in the United States Are Higher than in Most Other Major National PV Markets. Compared to median U.S. prices, installed prices reported are substantially lower in a number of other key solar markets. The starkest differences are in comparison to Germany, where typical pricing for residential systems was around $1.7/W in 2015. These pricing disparities can be attributed primarily to differences in soft costs, as hardware costs are relatively uniform between countries. Installed Prices Vary Widely Across Individual Projects. Although installed price distributions have generally narrowed over time, considerable pricing variability continues to persist. Among residential systems installed in 2015, roughly 20% of systems were priced below $3.3/W (the 20th percentile value), while 20% were priced above $5.0/W (80th percentile). Non-residential systems ≤500 kW exhibit a similar spread, while the distribution for non-residential systems >500 kW is somewhat narrower. The potential underlying causes for this variability are numerous, including differences in project characteristics, installers, and local market or regulatory conditions.

    Significant Scale Economies Exist for Both Residential and Non-Residential Systems. For residential systems installed in 2015, median prices for systems in the 8-10 kW range were roughly 16% lower than for 2-4 kW systems. Among non-residential systems installed in 2015, median installed prices for the largest class of systems >1,000 kW in size were 43% lower than for the smallest set of non-residential systems ≤10 kW. Even greater economies of scale may arise when progressing to utility-scale systems, which are outside the scope of this report.

    Installed Prices Differ Among States, with Relatively High Prices in Some Large State Markets. For residential systems installed in 2015, median installed prices range from a low of $3.2/W in Nevada to a high of $4.8/W in Minnesota. Pricing in most states is below the aggregate national median price. This is because some of the largest state markets – California, Massachusetts, and New York – are relatively high-priced, which tends to pull overall U.S. median prices upward. Cross-state installed pricing differences can reflect a wide assortment of factors, including installer competition and experience, retail rates and incentive levels, project characteristics particular to each region, labor costs, sales tax, and permitting and administrative processes.

    Third-Party Owned Systems in the Residential Sector Generally Had Lower Installed Prices in 2015 than Customer-Owned Systems. This report does not evaluate lease terms or power purchase agreement (PPA) rates for TPO systems; however, it does include data on the dollar-per-watt installed price of TPO systems sold by installation contractors to non-integrated customer finance providers. In a reversal from previous years, the national median installed price of residential TPO systems in 2015 was $0.5/W lower than for customer-owned systems. Within individual states, however, the relative installed price of residential TPO systems compared to customer-owned systems can vary quite substantially, potentially reflecting the particular installers and business models present in each state.

    Prices Vary Considerably Across Residential Installers Operating within the Same State. In examining five large residential markets (Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York), installer-level median prices within each state differ by anywhere from $0.8/W to $1.2/W between the upper and lower 20th percentiles, suggesting a substantial level of heterogeneity in pricing behavior or underlying costs. Low-priced installers in these states – e.g., 20% of installers in New Jersey have median prices below $3.1/W – can serve as a benchmark for what may be achievable in terms of near-term installed price reductions within the broader market. Interestingly, however, no obvious or consistent relationship is observed between installer size and prices – i.e., high-volume installers are not associated with lower-priced systems.

    Residential New Construction Offers Significant Installed Price Advantages Compared to Retrofit Applications. Within California, residential systems installed in new construction have been consistently lower-priced than those installed on existing homes, with a median differential of $0.5/W in 2015, despite the significantly smaller size and higher incidence of premium efficiency modules among new construction systems. If comparing among systems of similar size and module technology, the installed price of new construction systems was $0.8/W lower than for retrofits.

    Installed Prices Are Higher for Systems at Tax-Exempt Customer Sites than at For-Profit Commercial Sites. Tax-exempt site hosts include schools, government facilities, religious organizations, and non-profits, and these customers collectively represent a substantial share of the non-residential data sample. Systems at tax-exempt customer sites are consistently higher priced than similarly sized systems at for-profit commercial customer sites. In 2015, the median differential was roughly $0.3/W for systems ≤500 kW and $1.1/W for >500 kW systems. Higher prices at tax-exempt customer sites reflect potentially lower negotiating power and higher incidence of prevailing wage/union labor requirements, domestically manufactured components, and shade or parking structures.

    Installed Prices Are Substantially Higher for Systems with High-Efficiency Modules. Roughly one-third of the 2015 systems in the data sample have module efficiencies greater than 18%, and installed prices for systems in this class have consistently been higher-priced than those with loweror mid-range module efficiencies (<18%). In 2015, the median differential was roughly $0.6/W within the residential segment and $0.5/W among small non-residential systems. These trends suggest that the price premium for high-efficiency modules in many cases has outweighed any offsetting reduction in the balance-of-system (BOS) costs-per-watt due to higher power density.

    Module-Level Power Electronics Have a Seemingly Small Effect on Installed Prices. Modulelevel power electronics (MLPE), including both microinverters and DC optimizers, have made substantial gains in market share in recent years. Despite higher hardware costs associated with these devices, installed prices for systems with MLPE have generally been nearly identical to, or even less than, installed prices for systems without MLPE. For example, among residential systems installed in 2015, median installed prices were $4.1/W for those with microinverters and those with no MLPE, while systems with DC optimizers had a lower median price of $3.8/W. The negligible (or negative) installed price premium exhibited by the data suggest that MLPE may offer some offsetting savings on non-inverter BOS costs or soft costs.

    Installed Prices for Non-Residential Systems Vary with the Use of Tracking Equipment. Comparing between ground-mounted systems with and without tracking, the differential in median installed price has varied considerably from year to year, given underlying small sample sizes. On average, however, the median installed price of systems with tracking has been $0.6/W (18%) higher among the set of large non-residential systems and $0.8/W (21%) higher among small nonresidential systems. These pricing differentials are significantly larger than has been reported elsewhere for larger utility-scale projects, but is roughly proportional to the increased electricity generation associated with single-axis tracking equipment.

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    QUICK NEWS, August 30: Why They Just Can’t Understand Climate Change; U.S. Offshore Wind Proves Doubters Wrong; Where Used EV Batteries Can Go To Serve

    Why They Just Can’t Understand Climate Change Why people can't grasp climate change

    Phil Plait, August 29, 2016 (Dallas Morning News)

    “…Global warming is real, and almost entirely caused by human activities…The vast majority of scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the climate agree on this…[But a] vocal minority of people won't accept that. Why? Some are sponsored by fossil fuel companies…[S]ome are ideologically inclined to dismiss science, or progressive politics…[But] some people honestly question the existence of global warming and its effects on the climate…[It is partly because we] see what's immediately around us, and have difficulty extrapolating to the greater world…[The Earth is five hundred million square kilometers of surface area with five] quadrillion tons of air…[But] we do have an effect…[C]limate change is] slow and patient…[If we keep our eyes on the long view, we can see the temperature trend is clearly] up…What can we do? We can charge companies that put carbon into the air. We can rely on more renewable energies…[And we] can vote…[The official Republican platform and Donald Trump dismiss climate change. Hillary Clinton's climate change strategy is much more realistic]…It's not too late. If we choose wisely…” click here for more

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    U.S. Offshore Wind Proves Doubters Wrong The nation’s first offshore wind farm is ready to go, despite critics’ blowback

    Brady Dennis, August 27, 2016 (Washington Post)

    “…[The just-completed Block Island offshore wind project is about to go into service off the coast of Rhode Island. The modest five-turbine, 30-megawatt project is the] country’s inaugural foray into offshore wind power…But here’s what makes it momentous: It exists…[E]fforts to jump-start the industry have faltered…In part because of its deliberately small size, only the Block Island wind farm has successfully navigated the legal, regulatory and political hurdles that have tripped up others. Deepwater Wind, the Providence-based company behind the facility, views it as a steppingstone…There’s reason to believe offshore wind farms could soon see a U.S. boom…The federal government has awarded nearly a dozen commercial offshore wind leases…[Massachusetts now has a law requiring] 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power…[and] Deepwater Wind already is angling to build a proposed 15-turbine wind farm off the eastern coast of Long Island, the first phase of what it hopes will be more than 200 turbines…” click here for more

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    Where Used EV Batteries Can Go To Serve Millions of used electric car batteries will help store energy for the grid. Maybe.

    David Roberts, August 29, 2016 (VOX)

    “…In four or five years, the batteries in the roughly one and a quarter million EVs currently on the road are going to start to wane. EV owners will either replace them, or replace the cars entirely…One possibility is repurposing the [batteries] to serve as grid-connected energy storage…Once a battery’s performance has degraded by around 30 percent, it could become available for stationary storage [according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)]…[B]y 2018 these second-life batteries could cost as little as $49 per usable kilowatt-hour to repurpose, compared to the current new stationary battery price today of around $300 per kilowatt-hour. If so, they will further support the economics of both renewable energy and electric vehicles, acelerating the uptake of both…[But JB Straubel, battery expert and CTO of Tesla, questions the idea because there’s] no guarantee the economics will work out…Used batteries have lower energy density than new stationary-storage batteries and won’t last as long…[Also, stationary] storage is cheapest when its constituent battery cells are most uniform…By 2030 or so, 15-year-old batteries coming out of EVs will be competing with new custom-built stationary storage batteries that benefit from the intervening years of research, reduced costs, and increased performance…[But it] won’t be easy…” click here for more

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    Monday, August 29, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: How Low Can The Cost Of Wind Go?

    Wind Energy Costs & Cost Drivers; The Views of the World’s Leading Experts

    Ryan Wiser, June 2016 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    Executive Summary

    This report summarizes the results of an expert elicitation survey of 163 of the world’s foremost wind energy experts, aimed at better understanding future wind energy costs and potential technology advancement. We specifically sought to gain insight on the possible magnitude of future cost reductions, the sources of those reductions, and the enabling conditions needed to realize continued innovation and lower costs. In implementing what may be the largest single elicitation ever performed on an energy technology in terms of expert participation, we sought to complement other tools for evaluating cost-reduction potential, including learning curves, engineering assessments, and other means of synthesizing expert knowledge. Wind applications covered by the survey include onshore, fixed-bottom offshore, and floating offshore wind. Ultimately, the study is intended to inform policy and planning decisions, research and development decisions, and industry investment and strategy development while also improving the representation of wind energy in energy-sector planning models. Some key findings are summarized in Figure ES-1 and discussed below

    Significant Cost Reductions Are Anticipated: The modern wind industry has matured substantially since its beginnings in the 1970s. Expert survey results show an expectation of continued reductions in the levelized cost of wind energy (LCOE). Figure ES-1 summarizes LCOE-reduction expectations for the median (50th percentile, or “best guess”) scenario, focusing on the median value of expert responses. Across all three wind applications, the LCOE is anticipated to decline by 24%–30% in 2030 and by 35%– 41% in 2050, relative to 2014 baseline values. Though percentage changes from the baseline are the most broadly applicable approach to presenting survey findings because each region and expert might have different baseline values, depicting the relative absolute value for expert-specified LCOE is also relevant (Figure ES-2). In these terms, onshore wind is expected to remain less expensive than offshore—and fixed-bottom offshore less expensive than floating. However, there are greater absolute reductions (and more uncertainty) in the LCOE of offshore wind compared with onshore wind, and a narrowing gap between fixed-bottom and floating offshore, with especially sizable anticipated reductions in the LCOE of floating offshore wind between 2020 and 2030.

    Drivers of Cost Reduction Are Diverse: Figure ES-1 summarizes expert views on how the median scenario LCOE reductions between 2014 and 2030 might be achieved, in terms of upfront capital costs (CapEx), operating costs (OpEx), capacity factors, project design life, and cost of finance (weighted average cost of capital, WACC). Figure ES-3, meanwhile, highlights the relative impact of the changes in each driver in achieving the median scenario LCOE in 2030, while Figure ES-4 summarizes expected turbine characteristics in 2030 for typical projects, relative to selected 2014 baseline values.

    For onshore wind, capacity factor and CapEx improvements constitute the largest drivers of LCOE reduction in the median scenario. The importance of higher capacity factors is consistent with expert views on turbine characteristics, with scaling expected not only in turbine capacity ratings but also rotor diameters and hub heights. Higher hub heights result in higher wind speeds, and therefore capacity factors. Experts also predict greater scaling in rotor swept area than in turbine capacity (leading to a reduction in specific power, defined as turbine capacity divided by rotor swept area), at least globally, also yielding higher capacity factors. For fixed-bottom offshore wind, CapEx and financing cost improvements are the largest contributors to LCOE reduction. The relatively higher importance of CapEx and lower importance of capacity factor is consistent with expert opinions on future offshore turbine size: expected turbine capacity ratings (and hub heights) grow significantly in order to minimize CapEx, but specific power is expected to remain roughly at recent levels. Capacity factor improvements play a larger role for floating offshore wind (relative to the 2014 baseline for fixed-bottom), perhaps reflecting a belief that floating technology will tend to be deployed in windier sites as enabled by the ability to access deeper water locations. Financing cost reductions are more important for offshore than for onshore wind, presumably due to its lower level of market maturity.

    Opportunity Space for Greater Cost Reductions Is Sizable: We sought expert insight not only on the median (50th percentile) LCOE scenario, but also on less-likely scenarios for high and low future LCOEs. The resulting range in expert-specified LCOEs (Figure ES-5) suggests significant uncertainty in the degree and timing of future advancements. On the other hand, managing this uncertainty is—at least partially—within the control of public and private decision makers; the low scenario, in particular, represents what might be possible through aggressive research, development, and deployment. Under the low scenario and across all three wind applications, experts predict LCOE percentage reductions of more than 40% by 2030 and more than 50% by 2050. The full report highlights how survey respondents believe that such LCOE reductions might be achieved. Those results further show that “learning with market growth” and “research and development” are the two most-significant broad enablers for the low LCOE scenario for both onshore and offshore wind.

    Many Advancement Opportunities Exist: A variety of development, technology, design, manufacturing, construction, operational, and market changes might contribute to reducing LCOE. Respondents rated 28 different drivers based on their expected impact on LCOE. The top-5 responses for each wind application are listed in Figure ES-1, and a general summary of the findings is shown in Figure ES-6. That the two leading drivers for LCOE reduction for onshore wind are related to rotors—increased rotor diameters and lower specific power, and rotor design advancements—confirms earlier survey results highlighting capacity factor improvements as a major contributor to LCOE reduction. Increased hub heights, coming in at number three on the ranked list, are also consistent with this theme. The relative ranking differs for offshore wind. For fixed-bottom offshore, the most highly rated advancements include increased turbine capacity ratings, design advancements for foundations and support structures, and reduced financing costs and project contingencies. Some of the same items rate highly for floating offshore wind, with an even greater emphasis on foundations and support structures as well as installation processes.

    Cost Reductions Are Uncertain, Differ by Respondent Demographics: Considerable uncertainty exists across all of these variables and factors, partly reflected in the range between the low, median, and high scenarios shown in Figure ES-5. Differences are also found when reviewing the range in expertspecific responses, as shown in the 25th to 75th percentile expert ranges depicted in Figures ES-1 and ES- 2. Some of the variation in expert-specific responses can be explained by segmenting respondents into various categories. For example, we find that a smaller “leading-expert” group generally expects moreaggressive wind energy cost reductions than the larger set of other survey respondents, whereas equipment manufacturers are more cautious about nearer-term advancement possibilities.

    Comparing Survey Results with Historical LCOE Estimates and Other Forecasts: Notwithstanding the sizable range in LCOE estimates reflected in the expert survey results, those results are found to be broadly consistent with historical LCOE trends—at least for onshore wind. Figure ES-7 depicts four separate estimates of historical onshore wind LCOE and associated single-factor learning rates (LRs = 10.5%–18.6%, meaning that LCOE declines by this amount for each doubling of global cumulative wind capacity). Though learning rates are an imperfect tool for understanding the drivers of past cost reduction or forecasting future costs, the implicit learning rate embedded in the median-scenario LCOE forecast from our experts to 2030 (about 14%–18%, depending on the magnitude of future wind capacity deployment in that median scenario) is squarely within the range of these past, long-term learning trends for onshore LCOE. Turning to offshore wind, historical cost trends are mixed, with an initial reduction in costs for the first fixed-bottom offshore wind installations in the 1990s, following by steeply increasing costs in the 2000s and, most recently, some indication of cost reductions. Given this history, there have been few attempts to fit a learning curve to offshore data. It is also unclear what learning specification might best be used to understand past trends or to forecast future ones, as offshore wind costs might decline as a result of both onshore and offshore experience. Overall, expert survey findings on offshore LCOE reductions suggest that experts either anticipate lower offshore-only learning (relative to learning for onshore wind) or expect learning spillovers from onshore to offshore.

    Expert elicitation results can also be compared to other forecasts of LCOE—whether derived from learning curves, engineering assessments, expert knowledge, or some combination of the three (Figure ES-8). As shown, expert survey results are broadly within the range of other forecasts, but the elicitation tends to show greater expectations for LCOE reductions for onshore wind in the median scenario than the majority of other forecasts. Survey results for offshore wind, on the other hand, tend to be more conservative than the broader literature, with a large number of the other forecasts showing steeper cost reductions than even the low-scenario expert survey results.

    Learning Estimates: Getting it Right: As shown earlier in Figure ES-7, elicitation results for onshore wind are consistent with historical LCOE learning, suggesting that properly constructed learning rates may be reasonably used to forecast future costs in more mature applications. However, the majority of the literature assessing historical learning rates for wind has emphasized only upfront capital costs, and some energy-sector and integrated-assessment models rely on those capital-cost-based learning estimates when forecasting future costs. Expert elicitation findings demonstrate that capital-cost improvements are only one means of achieving LCOE reductions, however, and not always the dominant one. Extrapolation of past capital-cost-based learning models therefore likely understates the opportunities for future LCOE reduction by ignoring major drivers for that reduction. This is illustrated by the fact that the elicitation-based forward-looking LCOE learning rates are twice as high as recently estimated CapEx-based learning rates for onshore wind of 6-9%, and may explain why onshore cost reduction estimates from wind experts are more aggressive than many past forecasts.

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    QUICK NEWS, August 29: The History Of Climate Change; To Buy Or To Finance Solar, That Is The Question; Wind Fits The National Power Mix

    The History Of Climate Change Humans Kickstarted Climate Change Nearly 200 Years Earlier Than Scientists Thought

    Jasmine Solana, August 28, 2016 (Futurism)

    “…Most experts agree that human activity has played a major role in making climate change happen, but the consensus is that it is a fairly recent trend. New research, however, has found…that global warming began during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution and is first detectable in the Arctic and tropical oceans around the 1830s…[D]irect measurements of climate were rare before the 1900s, which was why anthropogenic climate change was generally talked about as a 20th century phenomenon. But [using 500 years of data on tree rings, corals, cave decorations, and ice cores form a natural archive of the Earth’s temperatures throughout history], along with thousands of years of climate model simulations, [Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents] pinpointed the early onset of warming to around the 1830s, and found the early warming was attributed to rising greenhouse gas levels…” click here for more

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    To Buy Or To Finance Solar, That Is The Question Breaking Down Solar Energy Options

    Cathy Allen, August 26, 2016 (AFRO)

    “…Solar power systems can cost $15,000 to $30,000 before any rebates and incentives. Once installed, the owners receive rebates, tax credits and/or state renewable incentives that can reduce the total cost by 50 percent. Most solar installation companies will manage all the paperwork and adjust the purchase price to reflect the net amount…[Owners are responsible for maintenance of the system but the] equipment is very durable [comes with warrantees] and can withstand the elements…[Maintenance is primarily] cleaning panels…Many banks are now offering tailored solar systems loans to homeowners with FICO scores 640 or above…[with 10-to-20-year terms and] interest rates ranging from 3 percent to 8 percent…Typically, a solar system will save between 40 percent to 70 percent on electricity over about 20 to 25 years…[With leasing and power purchase agreements (PPA)] the solar company owns and maintains the system. There is little to zero cost for installation [but electricity savings are only] 10 percent to 30 percent…[and the homeowner does] not get the benefits of tax credits or renewable incentives or rebates…[Using solar energy through any financial arrangement is a step forward] in protecting our wallets and the environment.” click here for more

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    Wind Fits The National Power Mix Wind power keeps the lights on and lowers costs

    Michael Goggin, August 26, 2016 (The Hill)

    “…An electricity grid drawing power from different types of generation protects consumers against both fuel price fluctuations and outages at specific plants…[W]ind energy has proven critical to maintaining a cost-effective, reliable electric grid. During 2014’s Polar Vortex weather event, demand skyrocketed as buildings ran their furnaces at full output during the extreme cold. Supply was also reduced, as the frigid temperatures unexpectedly knocked many conventional power plants offline, in some cases due to fuel supply constraints…[W]ind turbines kept turning…[and] saved consumers across the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions over $1 billion in just two days…[Technological advances now allow wind turbines to reach stronger, steadier winds and generate 90% of the time and this] number increases even further when grid operators aggregate the output of all wind plants, and all sources of supply and demand, over large regions…Coal, nuclear and natural gas plants don’t generate electricity 100 percent of the time either…[and] often experience outages from unforeseen events. When these things happen, other plants on the electric grid [like wind installations] step in, illustrating the importance of a diversified energy mix…Wind power’s greatest contribution to a reliable, diverse electricity mix is its ability to produce energy with no fuel cost or fuel price risk…while creating cleaner air.” click here for more

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    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    Predicted Fires And Floods Arrive

    EIGHT five-hundred-year events in a year! Beating those odds means if climate change went to Las Vegas it could win big. Unfortunately, it also means Planet Earth is likely to continue being a big loser. From greenmanbucket/CBS News via YouTube

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    Speaking Of Big Losers

    His argument is: The climate is changing but it is bad for business so the best plan is to ignore the changing climate. The truth is that climate change will cost trillions and the fight for New Energy to stop climate change will make trillions for forward-thinking entrepreneurs. He clearly is not one. From greenmanbucket/Miami Herald via YouTube

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    The Automated Electric Vehicle Future

    The first AEVs have already hit the roads and they will be widely seen by 2020. Here are some guesses about what the driving future could look like. From Robin Chase via YouTube

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    Friday, August 26, 2016

    The Ultimate Allergy Remedy – Stop Climate Change

    Climate Change Is Likely to Cause Allergy Misery for Millions; The number of Europeans suffering from ragweed allergies could double by 2050.

    John Metcalfe, August 25, 2016 (Atlantic’s City Lab)

    “If the rate of warming continues, the number of people suffering from ragweed allergies could jump from 33 to 77 million by 2050. That’s just for Europe: The worldwide toll would obviously be even bigger. Two-thirds of the spread of sinus-obliterating allergies is predicted to be directly tied to climate change [according to Climate Change and Future Pollen Allergy in Europe from University of East Anglia researchers. Ragweed] is likely to find more and more habitable places to grow across Europe as temperatures rise. The noxious plant will also be able to pump more pollen into the air, thanks to an expected lengthening of the warm season and delayed frosts…Pollen misery will be highest in nations already lousy with ragweed, like Hungary and the Balkans…But the greatest proportional increases will happen in countries including Germany, Poland and France…” click here for more

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    World Needs More Plug-In Cars

    World Energy Council Study Says PEV Sales Must Increase

    Jon LeSage, August 23, 2016 (Hybrid Cars)

    “…16 percent of new light-duty passenger vehicles sold in the U.S., China, and the European Union in 2020 will have to be plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) to meet their strict fuel economy standards…[and] selling more fuel-efficient gas engine vehicles won’t be enough to meet emissions-reduction targets in the world’s three largest car markets…[ E-Mobility: Closing the Emissions Gap concluded] that mandates like California’s zero emission vehicle rules won’t meet this goal and several countries with strict fuel economy and emissions standards] haven’t mandated that electric cars be sold to meet them…[China has] the largest PEV sales volume to fill…[It will need to sell] 5.3 million electric cars (22 percent of predicted 2020 sales)…[The U.S. will need to sell 0.9 million cars (11 percent of its 2020 market). The European Union countries will need to sell 1.4 million units (10 percent of new car sales)]…[E]lectric utilities will need to gear up to serve the increased energy demand. If new vehicle sales come up to one-in-six by 2020, increased demand will go way beyond the 0.5 percent of total electricity consumed by PEVs in the three markets…” click here for more

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    India Sets Wind Power Records

    Wind energy generation reaches record high

    August 21, 2016 (Times of India)

    “…[Use of wind energy-generated electricity in India’s state of Tamil Nadu rose to and average of 6,087 lakh units, 22% of the average power requirement between May 15 and August 15, significantly more than 2014’s 3000 million units and 2015’s 4,210 million units. New transmission in the green corridor from Kayathar in Tuticorin district to Kancheepuram and in the western districts has increased deliver of up to almost 4,000 MW of generation during high demand] evening hours…[The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp (Tangedco), the state’s system operator, added a Renewable Energy Management Centre (REMC) to manage load, forecasting, and dispatch. It has been able to back off purchase of thermal power at Rs 5.10 per unit in favor of wind generation at Rs 4.10 per unit, providers, saving] several crores of rupees…[On August 16, Tamil Nadu wind generation] reached a record high of 4,715 MW, accounting for 33% of the total energy]…” click here for more

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    Is The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Green Fleet Really Green?

    U.S. Navy’s ‘Green Fleet’ may tap Australian biofuel

    August 20, 2016 (Bloomberg News via The Japan Times)

    “The U.S. may accept Australia’s offer to supply biofuel for its Asia-Pacific [Great Green Fleet], advancing the U.S. Navy’s goal of getting half its power from renewables by 2020…[Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland has] signed a cooperation agreement to explore the research, development, supply and sale of advanced drop-in alternative fuels [from a mix of 10 percent beef tallow with conventional petroleum, which doesn’t sound very ‘green.’ But Queensland leaders foresee a very money green 1 billion Australian dollar ($760 million) sustainable and export-oriented] biofuels sector…[and hope the state can] become an Asia-Pacific biofuel hub…[The goal is to] supply the navy’s Asia-Pacific war vessels with ‘drop-in’ alternative fuel that’s fully compatible with the ships’ petroleum-power systems… [An A$16 million biofuel pilot plant and an A$150 million plant full scale plant are in planning [and] Virgin Australia Airlines, Air New Zealand, and the Australian Navy are also assessing the potential use of biofuels…” click here for more

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    Thursday, August 25, 2016

    Climate Change Could Cost Millenials Trillions

    The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future

    Sara Jordan, August 21, 2016 (NextGen Climate Action)

    “…Left unaddressed, [climate change] will have devastating impacts on our economy, our environment, our communities, and on future generations…[The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future concludes] the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income because of climate change. The children of millennials will lose tens of trillions…Without action on climate change, a 21-year-old college graduate in the class of 2015 earning a median income will lose over $126,000 in lifetime income, and $187,000 in wealth…[A] 21-year-old earning a median income will lose $100,000 in lifetime income, and $142,000 in wealth…For the children of millennials, the losses from climate change will be drastically greater…A child born in 2015 with median-earnings will lose $357,000 in lifetime income, and $581,000 in wealth…A child born in 2015 who will be a college graduate will lose $467,000 in lifetime income, and $764,000 in wealth…[It is now clear] that failing to address climate change is an option that we simply cannot afford…Millennials have the numbers to elect climate champions this fall, but we have to show up to vote…” click here for more

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    Is Rhode Island Wind Energy’s Wedge?

    Rhode Island may pave way for Obama wind energy boom

    Timothy Cama, August 24, 2016 (The Hill)

    “Five wind turbines in the waters off Rhode Island’s coast will start producing electricity this fall, fulfilling a years-old clean energy dream from President Obama and others…Construction on the $300 million Block Island Wind Farm finished this month, becoming the United States’ first utility-scale offshore wind farm…[A]dvocates hope the project will prove that offshore wind can work in the United States…[and jumpstart an industry] that has already succeeded in Europe and Asia and contribute significantly to the country’s renewable energy portfolio at a time of historically high interest in fighting climate change…The Block Island farm, developed by Deepwater Wind, will only have a 30 megawatt generating capacity, enough to power 17,000 homes. But while the technology is far more expensive than traditional wind power, it’s both a small step and a giant leap, in terms of its power to demonstrate a technology…The Department of Energy, meanwhile, has worked on research and development for wind energy, studying best practices and looking into advanced technologies like floating wind turbines…[S]upporters are optimistic that Block Island is ushering an industry with great potential…” click here for more

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    How Texas National Guard Could Go Green

    New Study: Solar, Energy Efficiency Can Help the Texas National Guard Save Money and Water

    Kate Zerenner, August 24, 2016 (Environmental Defense Fund)

    “...[Many Texas defense facilities are in water-stressed counties that could lead to higher water costs and] power production constraints, since it requires a lot of water to produce and move electricity from traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas. Both of these challenges pose a direct threat to the budget and operating capabilities of the [Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) and threaten its ability to respond to emergencies. But a new report from CNA Analysis & Solutions shows] these same areas have great potential for solar energy, which requires little to no water to meet power needs on-site…By tapping into that potential and pursuing bolder energy efficiency initiatives, TXARNG could ease pressure on the electric grid and reduce utility bills, all while safeguarding residents and precious water supplies…More than 20 of the TXARNG facilities studied have significant solar potential on a daily basis…[I]nvestments in energy efficiency could also be very cost-effective and have the advantage of being independent of location…[A]lthough the study was specific to the Army branch, the results can help inform investment decisions for the entire Texas National Guard. With a strategy laid out, the TXARNG can continue defending not only Texans, but its future energy and water supplies.” click here for more

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    California Leads The Way To Cars With Plugs

    Who’s Leading on Electric Cars? (And Who’s Lagging Behind?)

    David Reichmuth, August 24, 2016 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    “…Car buyers can now find alternatives to petroleum-powered cars, choosing from a growing number of electric-drive cars but] the availability of EVs varies greatly, both by manufacturer and geography. Some automakers are simply not making EVs available, according to Electrifying the Vehicle Market from the Union of Concerned Scientists…Other companies severely limit the availability of EVs to California and a handful of states…On the other hand, EV leaders like BMW, Nissan, Tesla, and General Motors make their EVs much more widely available…California leads the nation in EV sales…[O]ver 3% of all new cars in the state were plug-in models in 2015, with two automakers (BMW and General Motors) having over 5% of sales EVs…[T]he greater availability of EVs plays an important role…Last year, 22 EV models were sold in California, while no other state had more than 14 models sold…In the Northeast, car buyers not only had fewer EV models to choose from than in CA, but had a harder time finding them on dealer lots…[P]olicies like the California’s Zero Emission Vehicle program are working to encourage the growth of the EV market. The ZEV regulation applies to California and nine other states, though until 2018 car companies can comply solely by selling EVs in California…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, August 24, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Your Utility Wants An App For You

    What do utility customers want? There's an app for that; Potential savings attract customers to utility-designed apps designed for demand response, energy efficiency

    Herman K. Trabish, November 9, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Utilities across the United States are starting to get the news: You want to reach your customers? Get an app for that. Residential customers are beginning to discover that apps can help them efficiently use and manage energy consumption. Utilities and private sector vendors mine data from smart meters, smart thermostats, and connected appliances to build apps that help customers save money. At the same time, the utilities benefit from better informed and more engaged customers who help make grid operations more efficient.

    Some 97% of downloads are consumer apps, with the remaining 3% split between utility engagement and prosumer apps. The vastly more popular consumer apps are typically successful because of their “cool” factors. Prosumer apps allow customers to add power or services for the grid. Utility engagement apps are usually from private sector app vendors and provide white label software that supports utilities in connecting with their customers. The four basic purposes of the apps are to (1) allow customers to learn about efficient energy use, (2) remotely control their thermostats and heating-cooling systems, (3) contact their utility and pay their utility bills, or (4) participate in energy efficiency or behavioral programs by being notified of savings opportunities during demand response events… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Better Price Signals To Customers for New Energy

    Beyond fixed charges: 'Disruptive Challenges' author charts new utility path; If Peter Kind's 2013 paper put the utility sector on notice, this one could give it whiplash

    Herman K. Trabish, November 12, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    In "Pathways to a 21st Century Utility," Peter Kind – who warned utilities of coming "Disruptive Challenges" in 2013 – proposes a profound shift in how business should be done in the sector. The ultimate aim, he told Utility Dive, is a more nimble and competitive sector, likely made up of smaller utilities, that would help resolve the regulatory bickering between utilities, policymakers, and third party energy providers that has characterized the period since the publication of his 2013 work. And that new sector wouldn't be one that pushes policy proposals like high fixed charges.

    When that disruption begins to impact investor returns, “the cost and availability of capital to fund the utility sector will suffer,” he warns. “We must revisit the industry model to ensure alignment with customer and policy goals, while also ensuring that utilities and third-party providers are properly motivated to support their customer, societal and fiduciary obligations,” Kind writes. Four key changes are needed for a 21st Century electric utility, the paper reports:

    -The utility must be engaged to be at the center of resource integration and stakholder collaboration, and achieve policy objectives through accountability and incentives.

    -Regulators must shift focus to integrated distribution system planning and develop transparent accountability metrics.

    -Utility revenues must reflect incentives earned for deployment of DERs, energy management services, and other new technologies, and must be penalized if this does not happen.

    -Utility planning must identify the most cost-effective technologies and cap customer incentives based on the most economical options to achieve policy goals…” click here for more

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