NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Lewis Black Talks Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Cookin’ With Solar
  • Weekend Video: Wind Balances Heartland Budgets
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Resistance Around The World
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Becoming The World’s Best Deal
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Energy Demand To Flatten After 2035
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, September 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Change – A Source For Students
  • TTTA Thursday-Three Good New Energy Bets
  • TTTA Thursday-New Energy Can Be A Red State Wedge
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: New rate designs are showing the way to a modern grid
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: In the New South, customer demand is showing utilities the dollars and sense in solar
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Getting Emissions Out Of Buildings
  • QUICK NEWS, September 18: Attribution Science Affirms Climate Change Impacts; Solar Bouncing Back
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      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, September 24:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Climate Fight Gets Personal
  • QUICK NEWS, September 24: Three Steps To Get Ahead Of Climate Change; Getting Rooftop Solar Green-Lighted Gets Streamlined

    Monday, September 24, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Climate Fight Gets Personal

    Global Climate Action From Cities, Regions, And Businesses; Individual actors, collective initiatives and their impact on global greenhouse gas emissions Angel Hsu, Amy Weinfurter, et. al., August 2018 (Data Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)

    Executive Summary

    Since the Paris Climate Agreement solidified an “all hands on deck” approach to climate change, cities, regions and businesses have become key contributors to mitigation, adaptation and finance efforts. These actors are pledging a range of actions, from directly reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions footprints, to building capacity for climate adaptation and resilience to providing private finance. They are also working together to collectively deliver systemic impacts across sectors and economies. This report aims to inform the Sept. 2018 Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, which convenes city, region, business and civil society representatives from around the world to discuss their contributions to global climate action. The conclusions and recommendations we provide in the report are broader, however, and could also inform international discussions such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Talanoa Dialogue which, among others, seeks to include non-Party stakeholders such as regions, states, cities and business in global climate governance.

    In this report, we evaluate individual climate mitigation commitments made by nearly 6,000 cities, states, and regions representing 7 percent of the global population and more than 2,000 companies with a combined revenue of over 21 trillion USD – nearly the size of the U.S. economy. This report quantifies for the first time the combined impact of these actors’ recorded and quantifiable greenhouse gas mitigation pledges on global greenhouse emissions in 2030, focusing on 9 high-emitting countries – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and the United States – and the European Union. The individual efforts of the evaluated states, cities and businesses, however, represent only a snapshot of the full picture of non-state and subnational climate action occurring globally. We also evaluate international cooperative initiatives, where regions, states, cities, businesses – frequently in partnership with national governments and civil society – collectively commit to climate goals.

    Both individual commitments made by regions, states, cities, businesses and international cooperative initiatives have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions significantly beyond what is currently expected from national policies alone, assuming their commitments and goals are fully implemented and accounting for overlap between actors. As we are not able to quantify the coordination effects between national governments and other actors, we assume additional reductions take place for each actor group (regions, cities, companies), if their aggregated reductions relative to 2015 are higher than reductions implied by national policy implementation. Also, we assume that both national governments and other actors do not change the pace of their existing climate policies and actions in response to these subnational and non-state efforts.

    Collective impact of individual commitments by regions, cities and businesses

    Implementation of individual city, region and business commitments would bring the world closer to a global pathway compatible with the full implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which were submitted as part of the Paris Agreement. The initial results presented in this report suggest that individual city, state, region and business commitments represent a significant step forward in bringing the world closer to meeting the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, but it is still not nearly enough to hold global temperature increase to “well below 2°C” and work “towards limiting it to 1.5° C.

    Accounting for overlaps between actors’ commitments, global emissions in 2030 would be around 1.5 to 2.2 GtCO2 e/year lower than they would be with current national government policies1 alone, if the recorded and quantified commitments by regions, cities and businesses are fully implemented and if such efforts do not change the pace of action elsewhere (Figure 1). This additional impact would result in global GHG emissions of between 54.5 – 57.1 GtCO2e/year in 2030. These reductions could be higher, as some actor commitments could not be quantified, or others are not recorded and therefore not considered in this analysis. But overall reductions could also be lower even if these individual commitments are fully implemented, if the recorded actions change the pace of national government action or other actors without commitments.

    Assuming that countries’ climate proposals under the Paris Agreement – their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – are also fully implemented in addition to current policies (an “NDCs plus individual actors’ commitments” scenario), global greenhouse gas emissions could be between 0.2 to 0.7 GtCO2 e/year lower in 2030 than they would be with NDCs alone (Figure 1). This added mitigation impact is smaller than compared to a current national policy scenario because the NDCs already include some of these city, region and business contributions.

    Collective impact of cooperative initiatives’ goals

    Numerous national, regional and local governments, businesses, and civil society partners work together, often across national boundaries, to address climate change through international cooperative initiatives (ICIs). Global emissions in 2030 would be around a one-third (15-23 GtCO2 e/ year) lower than they would be with current national government policies2 alone, accounting for overlaps between initiatives, assuming all analyzed ICIs meet their goals of increased membership and implementation of targets, and such efforts do not change the pace of action elsewhere. This impact translates to remaining global GHG emissions of between 36– 43 GtCO2 e/year in 2030.

    Assuming that countries’ NDCs are also implemented (a “NDCs plus initiatives’ goals” scenario), global greenhouse gas emissions could be even lower. Combined, ICIs and fully-implemented NDCs would bring global emissions in 2030 into a range that is consistent with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

    The potential emissions reductions of these initiatives are significant yet uncertain. They critically depend on the initiatives’ full implementation and achievement of their goals, supported and adopted by all members and in some cases prospective members.

    Comparing individual commitments and initiatives’ impacts

    The potential mitigation from cities’, regions’ and business’ individual commitments appears small (1.5-2.2 GtCO2 e/year) compared to the impact of cooperative initiatives’ goals (15-23 GtCO2 e/year in 2030). The estimated impact of the cooperative initiatives is much larger for various reasons:

    • Goals are longer-term visions about the aims that a cooperative initiative tries to accomplish, in some cases making assumptions about growth in membership, while individual city, region and company targets are analogous to national level pledges (e.g, the NDCs) that represent more concrete steps to possibly realize the longer term goals.

    • Analyzed initiatives include emission reduction targets in globally significant and ambitious sectors, such as the forestry and nonCO2 greenhouse gases, which yield a combined 6-8 GtCO2 e/year in reductions alone. Recorded and quantified individual actions are primarily focused on the energy sector.

    • Almost all initiatives count national governments among their members. Therefore, their impact is not exclusively attributable to non-state and subnational actors alone, but to the combined efforts and synergies across a diverse range of participants.

    The large range of impact between committed individual city, region, and business emission reductions and the goals of international cooperative initiatives shows that there is an urgent need to operationalize the full scope of ambition and translate these into on the ground commitments.

    The report features the impact of subnational and non-state actors and ICIs in 9 high-emitting countries and the EU, which collectively were responsible for 68 percent of global emissions in 2014 (WRI CAIT, 2018). Expected reductions from reported individual commitments are high in the US, but smaller in other analyzed countries.

    • In China, the additional impact from the full implementation of recorded and quantified individual city, region, and business commitments is relatively small compared to current national policies (between 0 and 155 MtCO2 e/year in 2030). These actions play a critical role in the implementation of national goals but do not add ambition. The full implementation of the goals of selected international cooperative initiatives, in particular those focused on buildings, subnational commitments and energy efficiency, could additionally lower the emissions below current national policies (between 2,270 and 2,440 MtCO2 e/year in 2030).

    • In the United States, the additional impact from the full implementation of recorded and quantified individual city, region, and business commitments is significant compared to current national policies. They could reduce emissions at least half way (670 and 810 MtCO2 e/year in 2030) to what would be needed to meet the US original target under the Paris Agreement. Selected analyzed international cooperative initiatives, particularly those focused on subnational governments and on renewable energy, could significantly lower the emissions expected from current national policies (by between 1,080 and 2,340 MtCO2 e/year in 2030).

    • In the European Union, the additional impact from the full implementation of the recorded and quantified individual city, region, and business commitments is relatively small compared to current national policies (between 230 and 445 MtCO2 e/year in 2030). Selected analyzed international cooperative initiatives, particularly those focused on renewable energy, non-CO2 greenhouse gases and buildings, could lower the emissions significantly from current national policies (to between 980 and 1,970 MtCO2 e /year in 2030).

    • In Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Africa, the additional impact from the full implementation of the recorded and quantified individual city, region, and business commitments is relatively small compared to current national policies (together, between 625-765 MtCO2 e/year in 2030). Selected analyzed international cooperative initiatives are still significant, potentially lowering the total emissions for these countries together from the current national policies by 2,220 – 3,380 MtCO2 e/year in 2030.

    Implications for national governments

    The level of ambition from some cities, regions and businesses as found in our analysis is encouraging and could accelerate or increase implementation of national policies and national climate proposals under the Paris Agreement, particularly in the United States. International cooperative initiatives’ climate goals are encouraging and illustrate the potential for deeper emissions cuts when national governments partner with non-state and subnational actors. Their full implementation would narrow, and perhaps even close, the gap between the world’s current emissions pathway and the emissions reductions needed to reach the longterm goals of the Paris Agreement. Delivering on this promise requires the implementation of individual actors’ commitments and the cooperative initiatives’ goals.

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    QUICK NEWS, September 24: Three Steps To Get Ahead Of Climate Change; Getting Rooftop Solar Green-Lighted Gets Streamlined

    Three Steps To Get Ahead Of Climate Change Governments Are Failing Their Citizens on Climate Change. Here’s How They Can Fix It

    Borge Brende, September 24, 2018 (Time Magazine)

    “…A climate comeback story is possible…[That is why business leaders] put extreme weather events and failure to adapt to climate change at the top of the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report this year…[Now policymakers] should implement three measures to make emitters pay the social cost of carbon…[First, energy], environment and finance policies should no longer $100 billion in subsidies to the production, and use, of fossil fuels, and…forest-destroying agricultural expansion…Second, introduce carbon-pricing mechanisms…[Almost 40 countries, including China, have] carbon “cap-and-trade” mechanisms…Finally, make emitters pay for the true social cost of carbon…[Rules reform] put European emission allowances at 18 euros ($21)…The real challenge is to get this market price even more in line with the actual societal cost: either directly through taxes, or indirectly by further limiting allowances…[MIT researchers have put the costs] at $75…[A]fter the last few years of climate fire and fury, we know there is a high price to pay for non-action…” click here for more

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    Getting Rooftop Solar Green-Lighted Gets Streamlined Solar Industry Unveils Campaign to Streamline Solar Permitting

    September 24, 2018 (Solar Magazine)

    "...[T]he U.S. solar industry is taking a major step toward alleviating one of the biggest hurdles to installing solar on homes and businesses – cumbersome and inconsistent permitting and inspection processes...the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) initiative...will streamline permitting and slash the cost of solar installations...The multi-tiered plan proposes...[a] safety and skills training and certification program that allows residential and small-commercial solar and battery storage installers to attest that their projects are compliant with applicable codes, laws, and industry practices, thus eliminating the need for a traditional multi-step permitting process...[a] standardized online platform that will be provided to local governments at no cost...[a] list of established equipment standards and/or certified equipment for solar and storage projects...system design standards...[a] model instantaneous permitting regime...[and a] program administrator..." click here for more

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    Saturday, September 22, 2018

    Lewis Black Talks Climate Change

    Truth meets rage. Hilarity ensues. From Justyn Miller via YouTube

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    Cookin’ With Solar

    This joyous story is dedicated to the 3,000+ who some A-hos say were not lost to Hurricane Maria. As long as the sun keeps shinin’ on the survivors, they’ll keep cookin’… From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

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    Wind Balances Heartland Budgets

    Wind’s riches can keep communities funded. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    Friday, September 21, 2018

    The Climate Change Resistance Around The World

    On the Attack Against Climate Change

    Alina Tugend, September 21, 2018 (NY Times)

    Thousands of organizations around the world are trying in big ways and small to confront the challenges of climate change…[I]n 2016, a marine heat wave was estimated to have killed about a third of the shallow corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef…[Conservation organizations] are using an innovative approach to address the problem: helping coral reproduction…[A group in Puerto Rico is developing and installing solar plus battery microgrids in]… areas with high-density, low-rise housing and [installing them] on rooftops of community centers that typically serve 3,000 to 4,000 people…

    [To restore the ability of the soil ecosystem, pilot programs are] focused on reducing or eliminating the amount of tillage done on farms…[Numerous cities around the world have embraced] cool roofs, which is simply painting dark rooftops with a reflective white paint or wrapping them with a light membrane that reduces the absorption of heat…[to address] the “urban heat island” effect…[and] decrease strain on electric grids and alleviate air pollution…[To stop plastic before it gets to the ocean, collectors are paid to] pick it up around canals, waterways and other areas that lead into the ocean…[T] he plastic is then reused. That cuts down on the emissions that cause greenhouse gasses used to make new plastic…[The Osukuru United Women Network is identifying and funding] local groups working on environmental issues…[with small projects like paying for oxen to help with tilling]…

    Peatlands cover only 3 percent of the global total land area, but emit twice as much carbon dioxide as the world’s forests, which cover more than 30 percent…Wetlands International, along with its partners under the International Climate Initiative of the German government, began a major restoration of the peatlands…[A] partnership of federal agencies, education-focused nongovernmental organizations, teachers and scientists wrote “The Essential Principles of Climate Literacy,” a curriculum guide for teachers…[In rural African hospitals, nighttime surgeries are being done under lights powered by] a Solar Suitcase with solar equipment that is easy to transport, install and use in areas where power supplies are unreliable…[A Chilean] supermarket chain called Jumbo has become the first in the country to adopt new refrigeration technology…[that] uses transcritical CO2, which is a refrigerant that has a much smaller effect on the ozone layer and global warming…” click here for more

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    New Energy Becoming The World's Best Deal

    Global renewable energy trends; Solar and wind move from mainstream to preferred

    Marlene Motyka, Andrew Slaughter, Carolyn Amon, September 13, 2018 (Deloitte Insights)

    “Having only recently been recognized as a “mainstream” energy source, renewable energy is now rapidly becoming a preferred one. A powerful combination of enabling trends and demand trends—evident in multiple developed and developing nations globally—is helping solar and wind compete on par with conventional sources and win…Wind and solar have reached grid price parity and are moving closer to performance parity with conventional sources…

    Beyond the leading countries, wind and solar price parity is also within sight worldwide as the cost gap widens between these and other generation sources…Utility-scale solar and wind combined with storage are increasingly competitive, providing grid performance parity in addition to price parity…Utility-scale grid parity is not the only factor, as distributed renewables such as rooftop solar are reaching socket price and performance parity…The intermittency challenges of wind and solar may be overstated…Wind and solar place downward pressure on electricity prices…Growing shares of wind and solar pair with greater grid reliability and resilience…Wind and solar can become important grid assets…” click here for more

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    Global Energy Demand To Flatten After 2035

    DNV GL Predicts Global Energy Demand To Peak In 2035

    Joshua S. Hill, September 13, 2018 (Clean Technica)

    “…[G]lobal spending on energy — as a proportion of economic output — will slow dramatically as the world’s energy demand peaks in 2035 and slows thereafter, while GDP will continue to increase…[T]he world will be spending 44% less on energy by 2050 as a percentage of GDP due in large part to the rapid electrification of the energy mix due to the increase in renewable energy technologies, and the inherent increase in efficiency that stems from these new technologies [according to the annual Outlook from DNV GL. As] renewables increase their share of the energy mix and investment in energy declines, fossil fuel spending will drop by around a third through 2050.

    All these factors will result in oil peaking in 2023 and natural gas becoming the largest single source of energy generation from 2026 accounting for 25% of supply by 2050 — coal, according to DNV GL, has already peaked…[B]y mid-century, fossil fuels and renewable energies will equally share the energy supply, with fossil fuels falling from its current level of 80%...These trends will naturally impact energy investment…[It] will fall to 3.1% of global GDP, down from its current level of 5.5% of global GDP. Spending on fossil fuel will fall by around a third to $2.1 trillion. Renewable energy, however, will see investment levels triple its current levels to $2.4 trillion, while grid expenditure will increase to $1.5 trillion…” click here for more

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    Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Climate Change – A Source For Students

    Climate Change Chronicles

    September 2018 (Science News for Students)

    “Nearly 4.5 billion years ago, our planet formed from a cloud of gases. Those gases solidified. A thin outer crust formed, and an atmosphere developed. Since its birth, Earth has been morphing in ways big and small. And ever since the first inklings of life arose, some 3.8 billion years ago, Earth’s organisms have been adapting to this ever-changing world…No single species has ever been responsible for big changes on Earth. Until now. Human activities — particularly the burning of fossil fuels — have emerged as a driving force in changing the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere…Earth’s seas have become slightly more acidic. And it has warmed the average temperatures near the planet’s surface and in its upper oceans. Those temperature changes have, in turn, altered climate worldwide. And in response, species have begun to change where and how they live…This year-long series will investigate those changes…” click here for more

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    Three Good New Energy Bets

    3 Top Renewable Energy Stocks to Watch in September; These investors are keeping an eye on the shares of NextEra Energy Partners, First Solar, and Brookfield Renewable Partners. Here's why.

    Tyler Crowe, Matthew DiLallo, And Reuben Gregg Brewer, September 15, 2018 (The Motley Fool)

    “[New Energy] will generate 50% of the world's electricity by 2050, which means trillions of dollars in investment…[Motley Fool contributors] are keeping a close eye on NextEra Energy Partners (NYSE:NEP), First Solar(NASDAQ:FSLR), and Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP)…[Clean energy company NextEra Energy Partners] anticipates that it can increase its 3.7%-yielding dividend at a 12% to 15% annual rate through at least 2023…[Solar panel manufacturer First Solar’s sales were down more than 45%...and gross margins on panels sold slipped into negative territory…[But solar is becoming] more cost competitive by the day and is already less expensive than fossil fuels in many cases on an unsubsidized basis…[First Solar has the resources to] position itself to be stronger for when the winds for solar shift in its favor again…[Brookfield Renewable got 75% of its Q2 revenue from] hydroelectric plants…[That gives it] a solid foundation on which to grow…It’s shares are down but its yield] is a robust 6.3%...[and it expects its investments and acquisitions in wind and solar] to support 5% to 9% annual distribution growth…[The] recent price drop is an opportunity for income investors to pick up a high-yield renewable power company…” click here for more

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    New Energy Can Be A Red State Wedge

    Opinion: Red states love renewable energy, so why does Trump bash it? Wind and solar jobs continue to grow — while Trump doubles down on coal

    Paul Brandus, September 14, 2018 (MarketWatch)

    “…Coal may have been king once upon a time. But all across coal country — in states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Wyoming — there’s a growing realization that the future lies elsewhere. As recently as 2000, for example, half of America’s electricity was generated by coal. Now, about a third is…The CEO of Murray Energy, the biggest privately held coal mining firm in the United States, told [the president during a White House meeting last year that coal jobs simply aren’t coming back...The total coal mining industry employs about 160,000…The U.S. wind and solar industries together employ about 475,000 Americans…

    …[The top two U.S. industries for job growth through 2026] are in renewable energy. Jobs for solar-panel installers will double, growing 105%, while employment for wind-turbine technicians will nearly double, growing 96%…Why [does the president] bash wind and solar?...Their work forces are comprised of tons of blue-collar workers — a big part of [his] base…[and] four of the five biggest wind-power states—Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas—gave him 57 electoral votes two years ago…And yet the president bashes wind energy every chance he gets…[and tariffs imposed by the White House could eliminate 23,000 solar] jobs this year alone…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: New rate designs are showing the way to a modern grid

    Is a residential three-part rate the way to a modern grid or bad news for utility customers? Policymakers struggle toward common ground on new rate designs

    Herman K. Trabish, March 13, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Work on new rates that will align customer demand and system needs is accelerating from Hawaii to Maine.

    Rising penetrations of energy efficiency (EE) and other distributed energy resources (DER) are adding to the downward pressure on utility revenues by allowing customers to generate their own electricity or reduce their usage. Utilities find themselves caught between their customers' demand for DER and their own need to cope with reduced electricity sales.They are responding with requests to utility regulators for rate increases that slow the DER growth. “Forging a Path to the Modern Grid: Energy-Efficient Opportunities in Utility Rate Design,” released in February by the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), proposes a different solution. ASE developed principles and recommendations under a Rate Design Initiative, with price signals to guide customer-sited EE and DER to when and where utilities need them.

    Utilities say such rate designs could work if the outcome is revenues that match their costs to serve customers. Rate design experts agree that price signals might meet the challenge — if they are specific enough. To slow the growth of energy efficiency and other DER, many utilities have asked regulators for higher fixed residential customer charges and demand charges that deliver revenues regardless of a customer's kWh consumption, according to Autumn Proudlove, manager of policy research for the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC). Regulators have largely rejected these utility proposals, which suggests they expect “something better,” Proudlove said. ASE used ideas from the wide range of stakeholders in its Rate Design Initiative to provide something better in the form of a new rate design… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: In the New South, customer demand is showing utilities the dollars and sense in solar

    In the New South, customer demand is showing utilities the dollars and sense in solar; Once reluctant Southeastern utilities now see solar as a deal they can’t refuse

    Herman K. Trabish, March 15, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: A new push is coming to finish off coal in the South and replace it with New Energy.

    The remarkable transition that utilities in the Southeast are undergoing is a powerful indicator of the profound changes happening in the nation’s power sector. The Southeast had 200 MW of solar capacity in 2012, but led by North Carolina’s Duke Energy utilities and Georgia Power, it had 6 GW at the end of 2017, according to Solar in the Southeast, released in February by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). Even utilities not aggressively building solar now realize customers want solar, are finding it is affordable, are finding ways it can serve utility purposes, and are capturing the economic opportunity in a solar resource second only to sun in the desert Southwest in the United States.

    Existing contracts and commitments promise over 10 GW of solar capacity in the Southeast by 2019 and as much as 15 GW by 2021, according to SACE. But, to date, utilities in the conservative Southeast have taken little notice of solar beyond its ability to meet growing residential and commercial customer demand at increasingly attractive prices. A newer factor, which has emerged only recently in the wake of climate change-driven extreme storms and power outages, is solar's potential resilience value. The biggest obstacles to growth, highly evident in the Southeast, are the absence of supportive policy and diminishing utility load. They are reasons only about an eighth of today’s 6 GW in the Southeast is distributed solar, according to SACE Solar Program Director and report lead author Bryan Jacob. Many of the region's utilities, facing flat or declining load growth, oppose strong supports for customer-sited solar. But new laws and policies, put forward by lawmakers responding to popular demand, are laying the groundwork across the region for more changes…click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Getting Emissions Out Of Buildings

    The Economics of Electrifying Buildings

    Sherri Billimoria, Leia Guccione, Mike Henchin, Leah Louis-Prescott, August 2018 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary

    Seventy million American homes and businesses burn natural gas, oil, or propane on site to heat their space and water,1 generating 560 million tons of carbon dioxide each year—a tenth of total US emissions.2 Now, with an increasingly low-carbon electric grid comes the opportunity to meet nearly all our buildings’ energy needs with electricity,i eliminating direct fossil fuel use in buildings and making the gas distribution system—along with its costs and safety challenges— obsolete. Further, electric space and water heating can be intelligently managed to shift energy consumption in time, aiding the cost-effective integration of large amounts of renewable energy onto the grid. And reaching “deep decarbonization” goals of 75% or greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will require eliminating most or all of the CO2 produced by furnaces and water heaters across the country, alongside other measures across the economy.

    Achieving this vision will require massive market transformation, including discontinuing the expansion of the gas distribution system, widespread adoption of new appliances in homes and businesses across the country, and new markets for intelligent devices to provide flexible demand to the grid. Eleven million households burn oil or propane for heat—the most carbon intensive and costly fuels—and another 56 million burn natural gas.3 The most efficient electric devices—heat pumps for space and water heating— have small market share today; many homes need additional electrical work to accommodate them; and consumer awareness of this heating technology option is low.

    In this paper, we analyze the economics and carbon impacts of the electrification of residential space and water heating both with and without demand flexibility— the ability to shift energy consumption in time to support grid needs. We compare electric space and water heating to fossil fuels for both new construction and home retrofits under various electric rate structures in four locations: Oakland, California; Houston, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; and Chicago, Illinois. We focus on the residential sector, which makes up the majority of carbon emissions from buildings’ fossil fuel use,4 but a similar market transformation will be needed in commercial buildings to meet deep decarbonization targets. Cooking, clothes drying, and other end uses are assumed to be electric in all cases.

    In many scenarios, notably for most new home construction, we find electrification reduces costs over the lifetime of the appliances when compared with fossil fuels. However, for the many existing homes currently heated with natural gas, electrification will increase costs at today’s prices, compared to replacing gas furnaces and water heaters with new gas devices. We find electrification is cost-effective for customers switching away from propane or heating oil, for those gas customers who would otherwise need to replace both a furnace and air conditioner simultaneously, for customers who bundle rooftop solar with electrification, and for most new home construction, especially when considering the avoided cost of gas mains, services, and meters not needed in all-electric neighborhoods. Customers with existing gas service face higher upfront costs to retrofit to electric space and water heating compared with new gas devices, and either pay more for energy with electric devices—in the case of colder climates in Chicago and Providence—or save too little in energy costs to make up the additional capital cost—in the case of Houston and Oakland. Figure 1 illustrates this result, described in more detail in the body of the report.”

    Many factors could improve the cost-effectiveness of electrification compared to gas in the future. The purchase price of heat pump devices is expected to decline as the market grows and manufacturers realize economies of scale. The value of electric demand flexibility is likely to increase as variable renewables grow on the system, increasing the price spreads in electricity markets—customers’ ability to capture this value with intelligent devices can reduce the lifetime costs of electrification but depends on new rate designs and utility programs. Carbon pricing or other climate policy may impose additional costs on natural gas supply. Or gas commodity prices may change in unpredictable ways in the future.

    Electrification already reduces carbon with today’s electric grid in all but the most coal-heavy systems. This is true in comparison to not only heating oil and propane, but also to natural gas. Figure 3 illustrates this result, showing emissions reductions in Oakland, Houston, and Providence. Because the electric grid serving Chicago has coal power as its marginal generator most of the year, the short-term impact of electrification increases carbon emissions.iii With continued retirement of coal plants, however, the long-term impact is expected to swing in favor of electrification in Chicago and nationally.

    Summary Of Recommendations

    Electrification of space and water heating presents a viable pathway to deep decarbonization, already reduces carbon in all but the most coal-dominated regions, can support renewable energy integration with the proper control strategies, and is lower cost than fossil fuel alternatives in several key scenarios including new construction and retrofit from propane or heating oil. Even regions that are coal-dominated today are seeing rapid retirement of coal plants, making electrification more attractive. There were almost 7 GW of coal retirements and no new coal plants in 2017,5 and more than 11 GW of coal plants are scheduled to retire in 2018.6 However, many households currently heated with natural gas will not find it cost-effective to switch from furnaces to electric heat pumps at today’s prices. To capture the near-term benefits of fuel switching where most beneficial, and to prepare for a long-term approach that includes widespread cost-effective electrification, we offer five recommendations for regulators, policymakers, and utilities:

    1. Prioritize rapid electrification of buildings currently using propane and heating oil in space and water heating. Although these represent less than 10% of US households, they account for more than 20% of space and water heating emissions. Electrification is very cost-effective for propane customers, and has a comparable cost to heating oil depending on local pricing. Electrifying these homes in the near term can build scale and market maturity to support even more widespread electrification in the future.

    2. Stop supporting the expansion of the natural gas distribution system, including for new homes. This infrastructure will be obsolete in a highly electrified future, and gas ratepayers face significant stranded asset risk in funding its expansion today. Furthermore, electrification is a lower-cost and lower-carbon solution than extending natural gas, either to new or existing homes.

    3. Bundle demand flexibility programs, new rate designs, and energy efficiency with electrification initiatives to effectively manage peak load impacts of new electricity demand, especially in colder climates that will see increased peaks in winter electricity demand with electrified heating.

    4. Expand demand flexibility options for existing electric space and water heating loads. Only 1% of the 50 million existing electric water heaters in the US participate in demand response. As widespread electrification adds loads, particularly in winter, effective demand management will mitigate system costs and aid renewables integration.

    5. Update energy efficiency resource standards and related goals, either on the basis of total energy reduction across both electricity (in kWh) and gas (in therms), or on the basis of emissions reductions across both electric and gas programs. Otherwise, successful electrification could penalize utilities for not reducing electricity demand, even when it provides cost and carbon benefits.

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    QUICK NEWS, September 18: Attribution Science Affirms Climate Change Impacts; Solar Bouncing Back

    Attribution Science Affirms Climate Change Impacts Climate change is real. Welcome to the new normal.

    Eugene Robinson, September 17, 2018 (Washington Post)

    “…Tropical cyclones are nothing new, of course. But climate scientists say that global warming should make such storms wetter, slower and more intense — which is exactly what seems to be happening…Climate change is a global phenomenon…Every human being on the planet has a stake in what governments do to limit and adapt to climate change…[S]cientists are now cautiously making the first serious attempts to gauge the impact of climate change on specific weather events such as storms, monsoons, droughts and heat waves…The most ambitious attempt to quantify the link between climate and weather — a blue-chip international consortium called World Weather Attribution — has not yet made an attempt to estimate any possible effect that global warming may have had [this year’s storms…[But] the Climate Extremes Modeling Group at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, estimated Sept. 12 that Florence would produce 50 percent more rainfall than if human-induced global warming had not occurred…[W]armer water is more easily evaporated, which means there is more moisture available to fuel a storm…and to be released by such storms as rainfall…

    If humankind suddenly stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we would still have to adapt to the climatic changes we have already set in motion. The excess carbon dioxide we have pumped into the atmosphere will remain there for thousands of years. We will be coping with massive tropical storms, tragic coastal and riverine flooding, deadly heat waves and unprecedented wildfires for the rest of our lives…[W]e should be trying to reduce carbon emissions and keep global warming to a manageable level. With the landmark Paris agreement, the nations of the world agreed to try. But [the current] administration has already proposed weakening restrictions on carbon emissions from automobiles and coal-fired power plants. And last week, there were reports that the administration also wants to loosen rules governing the release of methane, which traps even more heat than carbon dioxide…Climate change is no longer theoretical. It is real…” click here for more

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    Solar Bouncing Back Utility Solar Procurement Booms as Residential Market Stabilizes in Q2 2018

    September 13, 2018 (GTM Research)

    The U.S. solar market has experienced a tumultuous few quarters since the government last year began considering tariffs on imported solar modules and cells, but data for the second quarter of 2018 show signs of a turnaround in the market…Utility solar project procurement soared in Q2 2018 as component prices declined and home solar installations steadied after a 15 percent contraction last year, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report…This is the first quarter where the data clearly show that tariffs took a bite out of the solar market. Some previously-announced projects were canceled or delayed due to the tariffs.

    In Q2 2018, the U.S. market installed 2.3 GWdc of solar PV, a 9% year-over-year decrease and a 7% quarter-over-quarter decrease, despite the fact that module prices fell sharply in Q2 due to lower demand in China…[An acceleration of solar deployment is forecast for] the second half of 2018 driven by utility-scale projects… 8.5 gigawatts of utility PV projects were procured in the first six months of the year, the most ever procured in that timeframe…[and that is expected to continue] as developers look to secure projects they can bring online before the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) steps down to 10 percent in 2022…Module prices are at their second lowest mark in history even with the addition of a 30 percent tariff…[The 5-year forecast for utility-scale solar has been upped] by 1.9 gigawatts. That is still 8 percent lower than was projected before the tariffs were announced…Community solar continues to see rapid growth…” click here for more

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    Monday, September 17, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Wind Market Now

    2017 Wind Technologies Market Report

    August 2017 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    Executive Summary

    Wind power capacity in the United States continued to experience strong growth in 2017. Recent and nearterm additions are supported by the industry’s primary federal incentive—the production tax credit (PTC)—as well as a myriad of state-level policies. Wind capacity additions have also been driven by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, yielding low-priced wind energy for utility, corporate, and other power purchasers. The prospects for growth beyond the current PTC cycle remain uncertain, however, given declining tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices, and modest electricity demand growth.

    Key findings from this year’s Wind Technologies Market Report include:

    Installation Trends

    • Wind power additions continued at a rapid pace in 2017, with 7,017 MW of new capacity added in the United States and $11 billion invested. Supported by favorable tax policy and other factors, cumulative wind power capacity grew to 88,973 MW. In addition to this newly installed wind capacity, 2,131 MW of partial wind plant repowering was completed in 2017, mostly involving upgrades to the rotor diameters and major nacelle components of existing turbines in order to increase energy production with more-advanced turbine technology, extend project life, and access favorable tax incentives.

    • Wind power represented the third-largest source of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions in 2017, behind solar and natural gas. Wind power constituted 25% of all capacity additions in 2017. Over the last decade, wind represented 30% of all U.S. capacity additions, and an even larger fraction of new capacity in the Interior (55%) and Great Lakes (44%) regions. Its contribution to generation capacity growth over the last decade is somewhat smaller in the Northeast (19%) and West (18%), and considerably less in the Southeast (2%). [See Figure 1 for regional definitions].

    • Globally, the United States ranked second in annual wind capacity additions in 2017, but was well behind the market leaders in wind energy penetration. Global wind additions equaled 52,500 MW in 2017, well below the record 63,600 MW added in 2015, yielding a cumulative total of 539,000 MW. The United States remained the second-leading market in terms of annual and cumulative capacity as well as annual wind generation, behind China. A number of countries have achieved high levels of wind penetration; end-of-2017 wind power capacity is estimated to supply the equivalent of 48% of Denmark’s electricity demand, and roughly 30% of demand in Ireland and in Portugal. In the United States, the total wind capacity installed by the end of 2017 is estimated, in an average year, to equate to 7% of electricity demand.

    • Texas installed the most capacity in 2017 with 2,305 MW, while fourteen states exceeded 10% wind energy penetration as a fraction of total in-state generation. New utility-scale wind turbines were installed in 24 states in 2017. On a cumulative basis, Texas remained the clear leader, with 22,599 MW of capacity. Notably, the wind capacity installed in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota supplied 30%–37% of all in-state electricity generation in 2017.

    • A record level of wind power capacity entered transmission interconnection queues in 2017; solar and storage also reached new highs in 2017. At the end of 2017, there was 180 GW of wind power capacity seeking transmission interconnection, representing 36% of all generating capacity in the reviewed queues. In 2017, 81 GW of wind power capacity entered interconnection queues, second only to solar capacity additions. Energy storage interconnection requests have also increased in recent years. The Southwest Power Pool, Texas, and Mountain regions experienced especially sizable wind additions to their queues in 2017.

    Industry Trends

    • Vestas, GE, and Siemens Gamesa captured 88% of the U.S. wind power market in 2017. In 2017, Vestas captured 35% of the U.S. market for turbine installations, edging out GE at 29% and followed by Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) at 23%. Vestas was also the leading turbine supplier for land-based wind installations worldwide in 2017, followed by SGRE, Goldwind, and GE.

    • Some manufacturers increased the size of their U.S. workforce in 2017 or otherwise expanded their existing facilities, but expectations for significant long-term supply-chain expansion have become less optimistic. Domestic wind sector employment reached a new high of 105,500 full-time workers in 2017. Moreover, the profitability of turbine suppliers has generally been strong over the last four years. Although there have been a number of plant closures over the last 5+ years, the three major turbine manufacturers serving the U.S. market have domestic manufacturing facilities. Domestic nacelle assembly capability stood at roughly 11.7 GW in 2017, and the United States had the capability to produce blades and towers sufficient for approximately 8.9 GW and 7.4 GW, respectively, of wind capacity annually. The domestic supply chain faces conflicting pressures, including significant near-term growth, but also strong competitive pressures and an anticipation of reduced demand as the PTC is phased out.

    • Domestic manufacturing content is strong for some wind turbine components, but the U.S. wind industry remains reliant on imports. The United States is reliant on imports of wind equipment from a wide array of countries, with the level of dependence varying by component. Domestic manufacturing content is highest for nacelle assembly (>85%), towers (70–90%), and blades and hubs (50–70%).

    • The project finance environment remained strong in 2017. The U.S. wind market raised $6 billion of new tax equity in 2017, on par with the three prior years. Project-level debt finance decreased to $2.5 billion. Tax equity yields held at just below 8% (in unlevered, after-tax terms), while the cost of term debt hovered around 4% for much of the year, before pushing higher during the first half of 2018. Looking ahead, 2018 should be another busy year, given the abundant backlog of turbines that met safeharbor requirements to qualify for 100% PTC, along with another reported 10 GW of safe-harbored turbines at 80% PTC, still to be deployed.

    • Independent power producers own the vast majority of wind assets built in 2017. IPPs own 91% of the new wind capacity installed in the United States in 2017, with the remaining assets owned by investor-owned utilities (9%) and other entities (<1%)

    • Long-term contracted sales to utilities remained the most common off-take arrangement, but direct retail sales and merchant off-take arrangements were both significant. Electric utilities continued to be the largest off-takers of wind power in 2017, either owning wind projects (9%) or buying electricity from projects (36%) that, in total, represent 45% of the new capacity installed in 2017. Direct retail purchasers—including corporate off-takers—account for 24%. Merchant/quasi-merchant projects (20%) and power marketers (6%) make up the remainder (with 5% undisclosed).

    Technology Trends

    • Average turbine capacity, rotor diameter, and hub height increased in 2017, continuing the longterm trend. To optimize wind power project cost and performance, turbines continue to grow in size. The average rated (nameplate) capacity of newly installed wind turbines in the United States in 2017 was 2.32 MW, up 8% from the previous year and 224% since 1998−1999. The average rotor diameter in 2017 was 113 meters, a 4% increase over the previous year and a 135% boost over 1998−1999, while the average hub height in 2017 was 86 meters, up 4% over the previous year and 54% since 1998−1999.

    • Growth in average rotor diameter and turbine nameplate capacity have outpaced growth in average hub height over the last two decades. Rotor scaling has been especially significant in recent years. In 2008, no turbines employed rotors that were 100 meters in diameter or larger; in contrast, by 2017, 99% of newly installed turbines featured rotors of at least that diameter, with 80% of newly installed turbines featuring rotor diameters of greater than 110 meters, and 14% greater than or equal to 120 meters.

    • Turbines originally designed for lower wind speed sites have rapidly gained market share, and are being deployed in a range of wind resource conditions. With growth in swept rotor area outpacing growth in nameplate capacity, there has been a decline in the average “specific power” 1 (in W/m2 ), from 394 W/m2 among projects installed in 1998–1999 to 231 W/m2 among projects installed in 2017. In general, turbines with low specific power were originally designed for lower wind speed sites. Another indication of the increasing prevalence of lower wind speed turbines is that, in 2017, the overwhelming majority of new installations used IEC Class 3 and Class 2/3 turbines—turbines specifically certified for lower wind speed sites.

    • Wind turbines were deployed in somewhat lower wind-speed sites in 2017 in comparison to the previous three years. With an estimated long-term average wind speed of 7.7 meters per second at a height of 80 meters above the ground, wind turbines installed in 2017 were located in lower wind-speed sites than in the previous three years; however, the 2017 average exceeds that for turbines installed from 2009 to 2013. Federal Aviation Administration data suggest that near-future wind projects will be located in similar or slightly better wind resource areas than those installed in 2017.

    • Low specific power turbines continue to be deployed in both lower and higher wind speed sites; taller towers predominate in the Great Lakes and Northeast. Low specific power and IEC Class 3 and 2/3 turbines continue to be employed in all regions of the United States, and at both lower and higher wind speed sites. In parts of the Interior region, in particular, turbines designed for lower wind speeds continue to be deployed across a wide range of resource conditions. Meanwhile, the tallest towers continue to be deployed in the Great Lakes and Northeastern regions, in lower wind speed sites, with specific location decisions likely driven by the wind profile at the site.

    • Wind power projects planned for the near future continue the trend of ever-taller turbines. Federal Aviation Administration permit data suggest that near-future wind projects will deploy progressively taller turbines, with a significant portion (>35%) of permit applications in early 2018 over 500 feet.

    • A large number of wind power projects continued to employ multiple turbine configurations from a single turbine supplier. Nearly a quarter of the larger wind power projects built in 2016 and 2017 utilized turbines with multiple hub heights, rotor diameters and/or capacities—all supplied by the same original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This development may reflect increasing sophistication with respect to turbine siting and wake effects, coupled with an increasing willingness among turbine suppliers to provide multiple turbine configurations, leading to increased site optimization.

    • Turbines that were partially repowered in 2017 now have significantly larger rotors and correspondingly lower specific power ratings. In 2017, 1,317 turbines totaling 2,131 MW of capacity were partially repowered. Larger rotors were installed on all of these repowered turbines, with an average increase of 12 meters, while only 10% saw increases in rated capacity. On average, these changes resulted in a 25% decrease in specific power, from 335 W/m2 to 252 W/m2 . All of these turbines had been in service for just 9–14 years prior to being repowered, with the primary motivation for partial repowering being to increase operational efficiencies while also re-qualifying for the PTC.

    Performance Trends

    • Sample-wide capacity factors have gradually increased, but have been impacted by curtailment and inter-year wind resource variability. Wind project performance, as illustrated by data on capacity factors, has generally increased over time, driven largely by turbine scaling. However, inter-year variations in the strength of the wind resource and changes in the amount of wind energy curtailment have partially masked the influence of turbine scaling on wind project performance. On average, across the United States and for 2017 as a whole, wind speeds were near-normal as compared to earlier years, while wind energy curtailment remained modest at around 2.5%.

    • Turbine design changes are driving capacity factors significantly higher over time among projects located in given wind resource regimes. Focusing on performance solely in 2017 helps identify underlying trends. The average 2017 capacity factor among projects built from 2014 to 2016 was 42.0%, compared to an average of 31.5% among projects built from 2004 to 2011 and just 23.5% among projects built from 1998 to 2001. The decline in specific power is a major contributor to these trends, but has been offset to a degree by a tendency—especially from 2009 to 2012—towards building projects at lowerquality wind sites. Controlling for these two influences shows that turbine design changes are driving capacity factors significantly higher over time among projects located in given wind resource regimes. Older projects, meanwhile, appear to suffer from performance degradation, particularly in their second decade of operations.

    • Regional variations in capacity factors reflect the strength of the wind resource and adoption of new turbine technology. Based on a sub-sample of wind projects built in 2015–2016, average capacity factors in 2017 were highest in the Interior region (43.2%). Not surprisingly, the regional rankings are roughly consistent with the relative quality of the wind resource in each region, and they reflect the degree to which each region has adopted turbines with lower specific power and/or taller towers. For example, the Great Lakes region has thus far adopted these new designs (particularly taller towers) to a larger extent than some other regions, leading to an increase in average regional capacity factors.

    Cost Trends

    • Wind turbine prices remained well below levels seen a decade ago. After hitting a low of roughly $800/kW2 from 2000 to 2002, average turbine prices increased to more than $1,600/kW by 2008. Since then, wind turbine prices have steeply declined, despite increases in size. Recent data suggest pricing most-typically in the $750–$950/kW range. These price reductions, coupled with improved turbine technology, have exerted downward pressure on project costs and wind power prices.

    • Lower turbine prices have driven reductions in reported installed project costs. The capacityweighted average installed project cost within our 2017 sample stood at $1,610/kW. This is a decrease of $795/kW from the apparent peak in average reported costs in 2009 and 2010, but is roughly on par with—or even somewhat higher than—the installed costs experienced in the early 2000s. Early indications from a sample of projects currently under construction suggest that somewhat lower costs are on the horizon.

    • Installed costs differed by project size, turbine size, and region. Installed project costs exhibit some economies of scale, at least at the lower end of the project size range. Additionally, among projects built in 2017, the Interior of the country was the lowest-cost region, with a capacity-weighted average cost of $1,550/kW.

    • Operations and maintenance costs varied by project age and commercial operations date. Despite limited data availability, projects installed over the past decade have, on average, incurred lower operations and maintenance (O&M) costs than older projects in their first several years of operation. The data suggest that O&M costs have increased as projects age for the older projects in the sample, but hold steady with age among those projects installed over the last decade.

    Wind Power Price Trends

    • Wind power purchase agreement prices remain very low. After topping out at $70/MWh for power purchase agreements (PPAs) executed in 2009, the national average levelized price of wind PPAs within the Berkeley Lab sample has dropped to around or even below $20/MWh—though this nationwide average is admittedly focused on a sample of projects that largely hail from the lowest-priced Interior region of the country, where most of the new capacity built in recent years is located. Focusing only on the Interior region, the PPA price decline has been more modest, from around $55/MWh among contracts executed in 2009 to below $20/MWh in 2017. Today’s low PPA prices have been enabled by the combination of higher capacity factors, declining installed costs, and record-low interest rates documented elsewhere in this report; the PTC has also been a key enabler over time. Regional and nationwide trends in the levelized cost of wind energy (LCOE) closely follow the PPA price trends—i.e., generally decreasing from 1998 to 2005, rising through 2009, and then declining through 2017. The lowest LCOEs are found in the Interior region, with a 2017 average of $42/MWh and with some projects as low as $38/MWh.

    • The economic competitiveness of wind power has been affected by low natural gas prices and by declines in the wholesale market value of wind energy. Given the location of wind projects and the hourly profile of wind generation, the average wholesale energy market value of wind has generally declined since 2008. Following the sharp drop in wholesale electricity prices (and, hence, wind energy market value) in 2009, average wind PPA prices tended to exceed the wholesale energy value of wind through 2012. Continued declines in wind PPA prices, however, brought those prices back in line with the energy market value of wind in 2013, and wind has generally remained competitive in subsequent years. The energy market value of wind in 2017 was the lowest in the Southwest Power Pool, at $14/MWh, whereas the highest-value market was California at $28/MWh. Meanwhile, the average future stream of wind PPA prices from contracts executed in 2015–2017 is lower than the Energy Information Administration’s latest projection of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation extending out through 2050.

    Policy and Market Drivers

    • The federal production tax credit remains one of the core motivators for wind power deployment. In December 2015, via the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, Congress passed a five-year extension of the PTC that provides the full PTC to projects that started construction prior to the end of 2016, but that phases out the PTC for projects starting construction in subsequent years (e.g., projects that started construction in 2017 get 80% of the PTC, which drops to 60% and 40% for projects starting construction in 2018 and 2019, respectively). In 2016, the IRS issued Notice 2016-31, allowing four years for project completion after the start of construction, without the burden of having to prove continuous construction. According to various sources, 30–70 GW of wind turbine capacity had been qualified for the full PTC by the end of 2016, with another 10 GW qualifying for the 80% PTC.

    • State policies help direct the location and amount of wind power development, but wind power growth is outpacing state targets. As of June 2018, renewables portfolio standards (RPS) existed in 29 states and Washington D.C. Of all wind capacity built in the United States from 2000 through 2017, roughly 49% is delivered to load-serving entities with RPS obligations. Among wind projects built in 2017, this proportion fell to 23%. Existing RPS programs are projected to require average annual renewable energy additions of roughly 4.5 GW/year through 2030.

    • System operators are implementing methods to accommodate increased penetrations of wind energy, but transmission and other barriers remain. Studies show that the cost of integrating wind energy into the grid varies widely, from often below $5/MWh to close to $20/MWh for wind power capacity penetrations of up to or exceeding 40% of the peak load of the system in which the wind power is delivered. Grid system operators and others continue to implement a range of methods to accommodate increased wind energy penetrations. Just over 500 miles of transmission lines came online in 2017—less than in previous years. The wind industry has identified 26 near-term transmission projects that, if completed, could support considerable amounts of wind capacity.

    Future Outlook

    Energy analysts project that annual wind power capacity additions will continue at a rapid clip for the next several years, before declining, driven by the five-year extension of the PTC and the progressive reduction in the value of the credit over time. Additionally, near-term additions are impacted by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, which contribute to low power sales prices. Other factors influencing demand include corporate wind energy purchases and state-level renewable energy policies. As a result, various forecasts show additions increasing in the near term, from more than 8 GW in 2018 to roughly 10–13 GW in 2020.

    Forecasts for 2021 to 2025, on the other hand, show a downturn in wind capacity additions in part due to the PTC phase-out. Expectations for continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and lower demand from state policies also put a damper on growth expectations, as do limited transmission infrastructure and competition from natural gas and solar energy. At the same time, the potential for continued technological advancements and cost reductions enhance the prospects for longer-term growth, as does burgeoning corporate demand for wind energy and continued state RPS requirements. Moreover, new transmission in some regions is expected to open up high-quality wind resources for development. Given these diverse and contrasting underlying potential trends, wind additions—especially after 2020—remain uncertain.

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