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: Colbert On The President’s Climate Policy
  • Weekend Video: Breaking Down The Climate Change Report
  • Weekend Video: The Battery Factory That Could Save The World
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Is A Matter Of Life And Death
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Russia Crawls Ahead On New Energy
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Gets Huge Jobs Boost From New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 6:

  • TTTA Thursday-More People Begin To Believe What They Are Seeing
  • TTTA Thursday-The First Big Utility Commits To Zero Emissons
  • TTTA Thursday-New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 3
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: End of the 'gas rush?' Renewables, storage reaching cost parity, report finds
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Grid mod policy actions jump 75%, with storage playing a central role
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Builders And Buyers Of Zero Energy Homes
  • QUICK NEWS, December 4: New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 1; New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 2
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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, December 10:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To A U.S. Offshore Wind Industry
  • QUICK NEWS, December 10: Climate Change, Nuclear War, And The Slow Tomorrow; Are T-RECs The Key To Real 100% New Energy?

    Monday, December 10, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To A U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

    National Offshore Wind Research and Development Roadmap

    October 2018 (National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium)

    Background

    On June 15, 2018 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in partnership with The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) and The Carbon Trust (CT), to lead the formation of a nationwide research and development consortium for the offshore wind industry. The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (“the Consortium”) is a nationally focused, independent, not-for-profit organization led by key offshore wind industry stakeholders and research institutions.

    The Consortium is dedicated to managing industry-focused research and development of offshore wind to maximize economic benefits for the United States. The Consortium seeks to fulfill, in part, a long-term vision for offshore wind in the United States that is supported by current U.S. policy for an all-inclusive energy strategy. The 2015 DOE Wind Vision report modeled a viable scenario under which 86 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity is installed in the U.S. by 2050, accounting for 7% of all U.S. electricity generation annually through large-scale project deployment in five offshore regions as shown in Figure 1. This vision for offshore wind was elaborated on by Gilman et al. in the 2016 National Offshore Wind Strategy (“the Strategy”), a collaboration between the DOE and the Department of the Interior (DOI).

    To achieve this vision, the Strategy identifies technology innovations that will be needed to address the challenges in each of the five U.S. offshore regions and to lower the costs to allow offshore wind to compete in all regional electricity markets without subsidies. The necessary cost reductions can be realized in part through targeted research and development (R&D) funded under this Consortium that removes or reduces technological and supply chain barriers to deployment and lowers development risk to investors. The Consortium envisions this research could be conducted as desktop studies, design development, and computer analysis, as well as hardware development with supporting demonstration and validation activities.

    The Consortium intends to distribute the available research funds through a series of open enrollment, competitive solicitations over the next four years, which will mirror the three research pillars described in the original DOE funding opportunity announcement (DOE FOA 1767) and summarized as follows:

    Pillar #1: Offshore Wind Plant Technology Advancement

    Technology advancements that drive significant reductions to offshore wind energy levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in the United States, which can be extended to global offshore wind markets. Accelerated innovation can reduce capital costs and development risk while increasing annual energy production, targeting long-term LCOE reductions for fixed bottom and floating offshore wind systems of 40% and 60%, respectively, relative to baseline LCOE figures presented in the Strategy (2015 U.S. Dollars) (Gilman et al. 2016). R&D conducted under Pillar #1 should also address the domestic physical siting challenges in wind turbine and wind plant technology (e.g., deep water, extreme conditions, fresh water ice, and hurricanes) as well as supply chain issues that may have unique U.S. solutions relative to European experience.

    Pillar #2: Offshore Wind Power Resource and Physical Site Characterization

    Improvements in offshore wind site characterization and site characterization technology can drive significant cost reduction in U.S. offshore wind projects by increasing annual energy production and reducing wind farm development timelines, capital costs, operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, and project financing risk. R&D under Pillar #2 should address lowering the time, cost, and/or uncertainty of resource assessment and physical site characterization.

    Pillar #3: Installation, Operations and Maintenance, and Supply Chain

    Installation costs, especially for methods that depend on high-capacity lift vessels and high levels of labor at sea can drive up the cost of floating technology capital expenditures significantly. In addition, the modeled O&M costs for an offshore wind plant in the U.S. range from $100/kW/year to $150/kW/year (2015 U.S. dollars), which represents up to 30% of the total LCOE for a fixed bottom offshore wind plant. Finally, the immaturity of the U.S. supply chain may contribute to significant project cost and additional development risk. R&D under Pillar #3 should address technology solutions that will improve installation and O&M methodologies, reduce labor at sea, encourage domestic supply chain development, and subsequently lower cost for offshore wind projects in U.S. waters. While Pillar #3 topics (Section 4) address some specific supply chain R&D areas, supply chain issues are central to the core objectives of the Consortium and consequently are cross cutting in other areas of this roadmap.

    This roadmap elaborates on the broad guidance given for these pillars by the FOA to help focus the proposal responses for the first round of competitive solicitations. The solicitations will indicate specific technical topics of interest. It is intended that successful proposals for the first solicitation will be awarded at the end of the first quarter, 2019.

    After the first round of competitive solicitations, this roadmap will be regularly revised to incorporate up-to-date stakeholder feedback and adapt to evolving Consortium guidelines. Roadmap revisions are expected to occur periodically (nominally every six months) to incorporate new research priorities and objectives and delete old objectives that have been achieved, while adhering to the Consortium’s rules of governance.

    This roadmap incorporates input approved by the offshore project developers on the Consortium’s Board of Directors who represent the intended end-users of research activities under the Consortium’s principles of operation. Input for this Roadmap was solicited by questionnaire and by interviews with board members. In addition, the roadmap relies on expertise from the Consortium’s internal technical team comprised of offshore wind expert staff from NYSERDA, DOE, RCG, the CT, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), as well as the Consortium’s various advisory groups.

    Through the input received and guided by the parameters of the DOE FOA 1767 solicitation, the greatest technical challenges to U.S. offshore wind will be addressed through R&D projects funded by the Consortium.

    Please note that all solicitations are expected to adhere to the following general principles:

     Proposers should address issues essential for cost reduction, deployment, and industry expansion specific to offshore regions of the U.S. Proposers of research topics already being addressed globally must explain why further research is necessary.

     Proposal topics will generally adhere to the three research pillars. Additionally, solicitations and project work supported by federal funding must adhere to DOE FOA 1767 guidelines and objectives. In some cases, this roadmap includes important research challenges that may be outside the scope of priorities indicated in DOE FOA 1767. These topics may not be eligible to receive federal funding but may be addressed by the Consortium in the future.

     Proposals should provide benefits to multiple end users. R&D projects that benefit multiple end users are expected to have a greater impact toward achieving the Consortium’s industry-wide cost reduction targets compared to R&D projects focused on a developer’s specific commercial offshore wind project.

    Although the consortium may modify the research objectives in future versions of the roadmap, it is expected the roadmap will continue to maintain an industry-focused, prioritized offshore wind R&D agenda that enables early U.S. offshore wind project development, LCOE reduction, and geographic industry expansion beyond the currently designated Wind Energy Areas…

    QUICK NEWS, December 10: Climate Change, Nuclear War, And The Slow Tomorrow; re T-RECs The Key To Real 100% New Energy?

    Climate Change, Nuclear War, And The Slow Tomorrow Former Defense Secretary Compares Climate Change To Nuclear War

    Jeff McMahon, December 9 2018 (Forbes)

    There are two existential catastrophes threatening the world, former Defense Secretary William Perry said. One is quick but avoidable, while the other is slowly unfolding…[The first is] nuclear catastrophe—and the other is a climate catastrophe. The nuclear catastrophe could happen next month, next year…[or never, Perry recently told a Stanford University audience in a dialogue with California Gov. Jerry Brown. But] it happens all at once…[T] he climate-change catastrophe is on a slow roll. It is happening. It’s happening every month, every year…[And it is] getting worse…

    …[Brown responded that nuclear war] and climate change have a similar lack of attention relative to what the threat is…[And both should get] a lot more attention…California has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from 465 million tons per year to 435 or 440…[but has] to get down to 165…[The only way to do that is to] take every conceivable market-regulatory-investment-R&D-private-public effort…[It will require something like warfare] heroism to deal with climate change…[Perry, who was in Japan after the Hiroshima catastrophe that ended World War II, said the solution to climate change is clear] but we're not doing it…” click here for more

    Are T-RECs The Key To Real 100% New Energy? Corporate Renewable Energy 2.0: Moving Past ‘Dinosaur Power’ to 100×100 Renewables

    Taylor Sloane, December 4, 2018 (Energy Manager Today)

    “…Some forward-leaning companies have already reached [net 100% renewables] and their achievements should be celebrated…[T]he next frontier is ensuring that renewable energy is actually powering corporate facilities when they have load – 100% renewable energy 100% of the time…One hundred percent renewable energy on a net basis means that in a year, the amount of renewable energy sourced by a company is equal to the amount of electricity that the company consumed…[But as] renewable energy penetration increases, the value of additional renewable energy on the grid decreases due to falling capacity value…Adding additional solar energy to a grid that is already curtailing solar generation [during midday when the belly of the “Duck Curve” is fat with solar output] will not achieve the additionality that corporate renewable energy procurements seek, as that new solar is not offsetting the energy generated by fossil fuel generation…

    …Procuring only renewable energy on a net basis is not a scalable solution to create a sustainable renewable energy market where everyone can achieve 100% renewable energy…[T]he stretch goal is achieving 100% renewable energy 100% of the time, or 100×100. This could be accomplished using Time-matched Renewable Energy Credits, or T-RECs. Reaching 100×100 will certainly be a difficult task, but reaching 100% renewable energy on a net basis also seemed daunting 10 years ago…Based on the economics of energy storage and renewables, our modelling shows that 80-90% time-matched renewable energy consumption is realistic today for a facility with a 24/7 flat load using a combination of wind, solar and storage…Corporate leaders have already changed how electricity is procured. Continued innovation in corporate sourcing of renewable energy has the potential to drive further electricity decarbonization…” click here for more

    Saturday, December 08, 2018

    Colbert On The President’s Climate Policy

    Nobody understands our president like Colbert. From The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via YouTube

    Breaking Down The Climate Change Report

    Climate is changing faster than it ever has since humans walked the earth, but there are still things humans can do to turn things around. From CBS News via YouTube

    The Battery Factory That Could Save The World

    Tesla makes electric vehicles and installs rooftop solar but its scaling up of battery-making could transform New Energy and allow it to turn back climate change. From The Verge via YouTube

    Friday, December 07, 2018

    New Energy Is A Matter Of Life And Death

    Tackling climate change could save millions of lives, report says

    Jacqueline Howard, December 5, 2018 (CNN)

    “Climate studies often pinpoint the detrimental public health impacts related to rising atmospheric temperatures, extreme weather events and other consequences of a changing climate…[But a new World Health Organization report shows that meeting] the commitments of the 2015 Paris climate agreement [to New Energy growth and other mitigations] could save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars by the middle of the century…[It could] save more than 1 million lives a year from air pollution alone by 2050… Drivers of climate change, principally fossil fuel combustion, contribute to about 7 million deaths worldwide from outdoor and indoor air pollution annually…

    …[The report] is from more than 80 health professionals, academic experts and representatives of civil society and international agencies who have worked on climate change and public health for more than three decades…[It recommends] identifying and promoting actions to reduce both carbon emissions and air pollution; mobilizing mayors and other subnational leaders to promote climate goals; engaging the health community in addressing climate change; and systematically tracking progress in health from such climate change mitigation…[One of the report’s main messages climate change cannot be separated from health] both in the short-run and the long-run…” click here for more

    Russia Crawls Ahead On New Energy

    Is Russia finally ready to embrace renewable energy?

    Chris Lo, 5 December 2018 (Power Technology)

    “…As a country that plays host to the world’s largest natural gas reserves and the second-largest reserves of thermal coal, it comes as little surprise that Russia has largely sat out the global renewable energy transition. Despite the country’s massive potential in wind and solar resources and the virtually limitless land available for development, the ready availability of oil, gas and coal – not to mention the immense political clout of state-owned hydrocarbons companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft – has suppressed clean energy development in the Russian market, with the notable exception of hydropower...Nevertheless, in recent years there has been increasing acknowledgement of the need to transition…President Vladimir Putin described renewable energy resources (RES) as “the proper path” for global energy development…

    …[Excluding hydroelectric power,] renewable energy claims a mere 3.6% share of the country energy mix…[The government’s official energy policy document up to 2035 plans for] only 4.9% by 2030…The foundation for the growth of RES deployment in Russia is Decree 449, passed in 2013, which created a legal framework to establish a renewable energy capacity system in the country…Just over 2GW of renewable capacity was awarded in the tenders between 2013 and 2016, while the 2017 auction saw a total of 2.2GW across wind, solar and small hydro awarded…1.08GW of capacity [was allocated in June] between 39 projects…A recurring issue being encountered by foreign developers…[A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, endorsed by the Russian government, found a $15bn a year in investment between 2010 and 2030 could increase Russia’s] projected share of renewables from 4.9% to 11.3% of total final energy consumption by 2030…” click here for more

    China Gets Huge Jobs Boost From New Energy

    Green jobs boost: China leads way as renewable energy employment set to top 28 million by 2050

    Elly Donnelly, 5 December 2018 (Irish Independent)

    “…While an increasing number of countries are deriving socio-economic benefits from renewable energy, employment remains highly concentrated in a handful of countries, including China, Brazil, the US, India, Germany and Japan…China, in particular, is forging ahead and accounted for almost half of all renewable energy jobs last year…Its share of employment is especially high in solar heating and cooling (83pc) and in the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector (66pc)…

    A factor behind the growing level of employment in Asian countries - which accounted for 60pc of renewable jobs in 2017 - is down to growing domestic deployment, as well as strong manufacturing capabilities, which are supported by government policies such as feed-in tariffs, auctions, and preferential credit and land policies…PV was the largest employer, with 3.4 million jobs, up 9pc. Expansion in the PV sector took place in China and India, while the US, Japan and the EU lost jobs…” click here for more

    Thursday, December 06, 2018

    More People Begin To Believe What They Are Seeing

    More Americans and most Republicans now believe in climate change

    Veronic Stracqualursi w/Kevin Liptak, November 30, 2018 (CNN)

    “…About 8 in 10 Americans believe the climate is changing, causing extreme weather. Two thirds of Republicans believe the same thing. A majority of Americans (54%) consider it a "very serious" problem, according to a Monmouth University poll…[The poll was conducted before the US government released its Fourth National Climate Assessment, warning of the devastating potential impacts of climate change, which the president] dismissed…But a majority of the president's party feels otherwise about climate change…64% of Republicans believe in climate change, compared to 49% in a 2015 Monmouth poll…

    Belief in climate change continues to be higher among Democrats and independents, and there's a partisan split over how serious the issue of climate change is…Americans, however, remain divided on what is the main contributor to climate change…Democrats more than Republicans and independents think human activity is mainly to blame…Most Americans polled said they are in favor of the government doing more to reduce activities that are causing the climate to change and sea levels to rise, but a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents lack confidence that the government can do so…” click here for more

    The First Big Utility Commits To Zero Emissons

    For the first time, a major US utility has committed to 100% clean energy; Another sign that 100% clean energy is going viral.

    David Roberts, December 5, 2018 (VOX)

    “…Xcel Energy, one of the biggest utilities in the US, has committed to going completely carbon-free by 2050 (and 80 percent carbon-free by 2030)…It is the first major US utility to pledge to go completely carbon-free…This is industry-shaking news…Xcel is getting more ambitious because it’s in its political and economic interests to do so…[Its earlier goals to provide 55% New Energy and cut emissions 60% won it Utility Dive’s Utility of the Year Award for 2018. But the new goals [that go with its “Steel for Fuel” strategy] go much further, and they cover Xcel’s entire eight-state territory…

    …[New Energy is now often cheaper than the ongoing operating costs of existing coal plants and competing with natural gas. And New Energy is] on the rise in the West, popular with politicians, cities, corporations, and ordinary ratepayers…[Most importantly, regulated utilities like Xcel] make money by drawing a rate of return on [rate-based] investments in power infrastructure…[Xcel is shifting] from fuel (coal and natural gas) costs, which they make no money on, to investing in new renewable energy power plants, new batteries to store power and electric car chargers to help electrify the vehicle fleet, and tons of new transmission lines, much of which they can rate-base…Xcel [got] permission from regulators to depreciate lots of uneconomic old power assets (which activists have been hassling it about forever) and build, build, build a bunch of new stuff…[so it] stands to profit handsomely, and benefit politically, by giving its customers the clean energy they want…” click here for more

    New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 3

    Plunging Prices Mean Building New Renewable Energy Is Cheaper Than Running Existing Coal

    Megan Mahajan, December 3, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…Lazard’s [low 2018 LCOE New Energy] values mirror the historical trend of renewable energy prices falling with research and development…[This was] achieved thanks to research and development (R&D), increased deployment, and endogenous learning. The proven gains from renewable energy R&D and deployment policies for wind and solar indicate how to lower the costs of other clean energy technologies…[O]ver time, R&D becomes a less important mechanism while learning-by-doing and economies of scale increase as more and more project capacity is installed…R&D is most effective in the early lifecycle of a technology, and finding funding to overcome the “valley of death” between R&D and commercialization is crucial to an immature technology’s success…” click here for more

    Wednesday, December 05, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: End of the 'gas rush?' Renewables, storage reaching cost parity, report finds

    End of the 'gas rush?' Renewables, storage reaching cost parity, report finds; As battery costs decline, researchers say localized portfolios of clean energy could challenge gas plant investments.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 11, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Throughout this year, utilities across the country began experimenting with the kinds of clean energy portfolios described here.

    The U.S. power mix is rapidly changing, but utilities still want the same thing — a resource mix that delivers the most reliable and safe electricity to customers at the lowest price. Despite pronouncements from the White House, "The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios," from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), shows that emerging mixes of renewable energy, storage, and other distributed energy resources (DERs) may soon be more cost effective than coal, nuclear, or natural gas plants in most regions. The paper demonstrates that, because of technology and cost advances, portfolios of renewables, batteries, demand response and energy efficiency can replace central station generation assets.

    The problem, RMI warns, is that developers engaged in a "rush to gas" have already planned $110 billion in natural gas plant investments by 2025. That trend could lock in $1 trillion in costs to the U.S. power sector by 2030 if it continues, and make it more difficult for renewables and batteries to get a foothold in the market. The gas rush will likely continue, analysts say, if regulators and lawmakers do not provide new incentives and market rules. Such rules should encourage battery storage and demand management, which will provide crucial flexibility in emerging clean energy portfolios. Progress on that front is uneven, but some utilities are beginning to see the value in clean energy portfolios and are changing investment plans as a result… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Grid mod policy actions jump 75%, with storage playing a central role

    Grid mod policy actions jump 75%, with storage playing a central role; While the number of actions rose significantly from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018, they remained within the same set of 37 states, according to the latest edition of 50 States of Grid Modernization.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 5, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Policy work on grid modernization has accelerated greatly in 2018.

    A sure measure of how much and how fast the U.S. power system is changing is that the number of policy actions addressing grid modernization jumped 75% from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018. Grid modernization is everything from advance metering infrastructure (AMI) to rate design that would make the system "more resilient, responsive, and interactive," according to the Q1 2018 50 States of Grid Modernization. More broadly, it is the set of changes to the electric distribution system that will make the utility of the future possible. Energy storage played a major role in the significant increase of 2017 grid modernization policy activity. There were policy actions on deployment of storage, setting targets to grow storage, ordering studies on the challenges and opportunities of storage, providing rebates for it and setting rules for its interconnection. And policy actions on rate design and planning procedures had implications for storage.

    The Q1 increase in legislative and regulatory actions to direct grid modernization catalogued by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center's (NCCETC) quarterly report is "astonishing," NCCETC Policy Research Manager Autumn Proudlove told Utility Dive. It is happening because grid modernization is "an umbrella under which stakeholders and utilities are working to make the future electric system more reliable, more cost-effective, and cleaner," Proudlove said. It is also an indication of the growing need for policies that address the rising penetrations of distributed energy resources (DER), she added. Under this umbrella, lawmakers and regulators are addressing smart grid and AMI rules and deployments. They are working to reform the regulations and rates that will determine the new utility business model. And they are developing rules through which utilities and third-party providers can expand the availability of microgrids, demand response and energy storage… click here for more

    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, December 04, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Builders And Buyers Of Zero Energy Homes

    The Economics of Zero Energy Homes

    Jacob Corvidae, Michael Gartman, Alisa Petersen, November 30, 2018 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary Building new single-family homes to zero-energy (ZE) or zero-energy ready (ZER) home standards can save consumers thousands of dollars over the home’s life cycle. ZE homes produce as much renewable energy as they consume over the course of a year, and ZER homes have similar levels of efficiency without onsite solar photovoltaics (PV). In addition, increasing market penetration of ZE homes can help cities meet their aggressive greenhouse gas emission goals while building a more futureproofed and energy-secure building stock.

    Despite these benefits, ZE and ZER homes make up less than 1% of the residential market, partially due to outdated perceptions of the incremental cost for these offerings. This report demonstrates that the cost increase to build a ZE or ZER home is modest (with incremental costs of 6.7%–8.1% for ZE homes and 0.9%–2.5% for ZER homes as shown in Figure 1)—far less than consumers, builders, and policymakers may realize—and highlights methods builders and policymakers can use to drive increased market penetration.

    Consumer Thresholds

    Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) compared the incremental costs of building ZE and ZER homes in four US locations against four key consumer cost thresholds that reflect the metrics that both homebuyers and builders use to make investment decisions:

    • Mortgage: The anticipated energy savings over the life of the mortgage.

    • Resale: The anticipated energy savings over 12 years (the typical length of time homeowners stay in a home).

    • Consumer Willingness to Pay (WTP): The 4% first cost premium customers have stated they’re willing to pay, according to consumer research.

    • First Cost: The cost to build an identical home that meets local energy code.

    When the incremental costs of building ZE and ZER homes are equal to or less than the cost thresholds, decision makers are more likely to bear the cost of investment in ZE or ZER homes. In many cases, the cost thresholds have already been achieved. Figure 2 and Figure 3, respectively, summarize the results for ZER and ZE homes compared against these cost thresholds.

    Actions for Builders and Policymakers

    Builders can use the recommendations provided in this report to fine-tune home designs and construction processes to minimize incremental costs. This report also outlines key actions that policymakers can take to drive increased adoption of ZE and ZER homes in their jurisdictions. Both builders and policymakers are essential to driving progress in this industry.

    For the cases in which the cost thresholds are not met, it is important to remember that costs of building ZE and ZER homes continue to decline, with a projected incremental cost for ZE homes of 3%–5% by 2030. Although our analysis yielded concrete recommendations for cost-optimal ZE home designs, a variety of other solutions are available and may be specified based on local conditions or consumer priorities. This analysis also focused on all-electric solutions; we did not analyze natural gas options…

    Recommendations For Builders

    The following sections summarize the implications of this report for home builders and developers looking to provide ZE or ZER offerings.

    Use this Report to Inform Future Construction

    Both prospective and established ZE home builders can use the cost-optimized efficiency measures identified in this report as a starting point for informing or updating their home designs. Note that DOE provides additional ZERH climate-optimized efficiency packages as part of its Building America Solution Center.52 Home builders should iterate on these recommendations to ensure that the recommendations adequately consider their local context, including existing contractor relationships and pricing, climate considerations, code requirements, and available incentives.53

    A truly cost-optimized design is dependent on an integrated design that considers the various systems that comprise home energy use in parallel. The Building America program is helping builders navigate these issues with focused research and development on integrated solutions, and it may be a valuable supplement to the resources provided in the DOE ZERH program.54 Builders should also work with energy modeling professionals to analyze integrated solutions that account for local climate, costs, incentives, and site constraints.

    Collaborate in the DOE ZERH Program

    The fact that home builders specializing in green homes report a cost premium less than half that stated by conventional home builders shows just how significantly experience itself can influence costs.55 However, for those conventional home builders looking to break into a new market segment, the promise of reduced costs after their first, tenth, or hundredth green home is not particularly soothing. The DOE ZERH program works to address this hurdle by offering dozens of case studies,56 encouraging collaboration between green home builders, providing training webinars on advanced building topics, and providing prescriptive guidance on the design and construction of ZER homes.

    The ZER certification process also provides builders with a method of quality control by requiring that buildings undergo a HERS rating (including blower door tests and energy modeling) and use checklists for thermal and air barriers, quality HVAC installation, comprehensive indoor air quality measures, and solar-ready construction (in locations with a significant solar resource). These steps can help home builders (especially those new to super-efficient construction) ensure quality, regardless of whether they complete the other requirements for ZER certification. Although this report focuses on ZER certification, builders can pursue other certifications that also provide design guidance and credibility to a ZE home, including LEED, National Green Building Standard, and ENERGY STAR for homes.

    Find the Right Subcontractors

    The costs identified in this report assume that projects are bid competitively by subcontractors. Builders and developers rooted in conventional building practices may find that their preferred subcontractors have limited experience in the super-efficient technologies and building techniques incorporated in this report (e.g., commissioning the inverters on ductless mini splits) and that they thus quote prices substantially higher than those listed here to minimize their risk and uncertainty.

    The costs listed in this report are derived from trusted resources based on real-world cost data (see Appendix A for details). Home builders should be able to achieve similar costs in their locations. Home builders should look for subcontractors that are amenable to taking on new technologies and techniques without introducing extreme contingency costs to learn new skills—more likely if a high-volume builder is asking. Where meeting resistance to change, home builders should look to establish and build new relationships.

    Hone Your Salesmanship

    There is some disagreement in the real estate community regarding the difficulty in selling green homes, with 34% reporting a sales advantage and 29% reporting a disadvantage.57 Regardless of the current state of affairs, it’s clear that there is room to improve.

    Many of the first movers in this industry can share painful stories about the overly technical presentations they first used to try to sell a ZE or ZER home. These builders have learned through experience that a successful sales pitch does not focus on technical aspects. In fact, many home builders report that even highlighting the superior total cost of ownership for a super-efficient home doesn’t provide the emotional pull necessary for a prospective buyer. Green home builders are quickly learning that establishing this emotional connection is essential to their success.

    Home builders can learn more about successful marketing strategies and phrases for super-efficient homes using the Building America Building Science Translator58 and the Building America Solution Center Sales Tool.59

    Engage with Local Policymakers

    This report includes recommendations for policymakers interested in promoting ZE or ZER new construction. Builders should share those recommendations with government officials in the cities or states where they operate to help accelerate this industry. Better, they should work with those government officials to share their perspective as a local home builder to ensure that enacted policies represent an optimal approach to accelerating adoption.

    Recommendations For Policymakers

    Policymakers have an important role in improving grid reliability, meeting community energy needs, supporting affordability, improving the housing stock, and addressing climate change. Driving ZE home construction can be an essential action in addressing all of these issues. The following sections summarize the implications of this report for policymakers interested in driving the construction of ZE and ZER single-family homes in their city, county, or state.

    Clarify Goals to Inform Actions

    It is essential to set clear, ambitious, and measurable goals to guide policies and actions. The content of this report can be used in concert with other available resources to inform the discussions and analysis necessary to define the goals that policies will drive toward. RMI will be providing additional tools for policymakers to accelerate ZE construction in 2019.60

    Use This Report to Inform and Support Policy

    The cost-optimized home constructions highlighted in this report can be used to guide incentives and quantify the economic impact that these measures will have on real estate developers and home buyers. The previous pages highlight several high-value opportunities, including:

    1. Prescriptive incentives, especially for heat pump HVAC systems, HPWHs, and high-performance windows (climate dependent)

    2. Subsidized costs for building certifications (e.g., the DOE ZERH program); the cost of ZER certification can make up over one-quarter of the cost for a ZER home,61 though the cost is significantly less for production homes

    3. Incentives for solar-ready roofing

    4. State standardization of permitting, inspection, and interconnection procedures to reduce soft costs for installing solar PV

    5. State legislation enabling community solar, PPAs, or property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing

    Policy can also be used to enable a number of other benefits to incentivize first movers, including expedited permitting, density or height bonuses, and setback exceptions. Although most builders interviewed didn’t consider these bonuses essential drivers of adoption, they can be provided at little to no cost to governing bodies and communities.

    It’s also worth highlighting the benefit of energy disclosure programs in promoting the value of highperformance homes. Particularly innovative disclosure programs are in place in Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Berkeley, California.62 Although these policies aren’t focused on new construction, they are an important piece in ensuring that the energy performance of all homes is considered and properly valued by consumers.

    Support Labor Training Programs

    This report highlights that an essential aspect driving adoption of ZE and ZER homes is supporting a larger and more skilled construction workforce. Labor shortages are driving up costs as the industry struggles to secure skilled specialty subcontractors. Policymakers can address this issue by supporting, promoting, or partnering with local trade schools.

    Super-efficient home builders are particularly affected by skilled labor shortages due to the specialty requirements for advanced building techniques and products. Policymakers can work to address this issue by establishing or supporting training programs, especially in the following topic areas:

    • Installing, commissioning, and servicing heat pump ACs with inverters

    • Installing and servicing HPWHs

    • Air sealing techniques and products

    • Certification program compliance

    • Solar-ready roofing

    • Window specification

    It is worth incentivizing home builders to collaborate with the DOE ZERH program, which provides both a performance and prescriptive path for ZER homes that has been vetted with hundreds of buildings on thousands of homes across the country. Moreover, the program actively encourages collaboration between builders to share experiences and proliferate lessons learned…

    Support Training for Other Influencing Parties

    Home builders are not the only stakeholder group that will need to enhance skill sets to support a push toward ZE or ZER new construction. The real estate appraisal industry is critical to ensuring that efficiency and renewable energy investments are properly and transparently considered as part of the home valuation process. The Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers, offers a professional development program on the valuation of sustainable buildings (among other resources), and its registry of green residential appraisers continues to grow.63

    Real estate agents can also benefit from training to learn how to best market the largely hidden value of high-performance features to prospective home buyers. In addition, as with skilled labor in the construction industry, training and capacity building for residential solar installers—particularly in lessdeveloped solar markets in parts of the country outside of California—can also be important as demand for ZE and ZER new construction scales nationally…

    QUICK NEWS, December 4: New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 1; New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 2

    New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 1 Plunging Prices Mean Building New Renewable Energy Is Cheaper Than Running Existing Coal

    Megan Mahajan, December 3, 2018 (Forbes)

    A new report reveals 42% of global coal capacity is currently unprofitable, and the United States could save $78 billion by closing coal-fired power plants in line with the Paris Climate Accord’s climate goals. This industry-disrupting trend comes down to dollars and cent…The price to build new wind and solar has fallen below the cost of running existing coal-fired power plants in Red and Blue states…Colorado’s Xcel will retire 660 megawatts (MW) of coal capacity ahead of schedule in favor of renewable sources and battery storage, and reduce costs in the process. Midwestern utility MidAmerican will be the first utility to reach 100% renewable energy by 2020 without increasing customer rates, and Indiana’s NIPSCO will replace 1.8 gigawatts (GW) of coal with wind and solar…

    …[This is] dimming the prospects for struggling coal and nuclear plants. The U.S. is on pace for a record 15.4 GW of coal closures in 2018, could close an additional 24.1 GW of coal capacity by 2024, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a 65 GW decline through 2030. Carbon Tracker forecasts that by that time, 100% of U.S. coal capacity will have higher long-run operating costs than renewables…[The proposed White House bailout of Old Energy] was dropped after intense scrutiny from multiple fronts…[because of its] backward-looking approach to keep dirty and expensive energy sources online instead of embracing clean and cheap energy sources…” click here for more

    New Energy Beating Old Energy In The Market, Part 2 Plunging Prices Mean Building New Renewable Energy Is Cheaper Than Running Existing Coal

    Megan Mahajan, December 3, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…Lazard’s annual Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) analysis reports solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind costs have dropped an extraordinary 88% and 69% since 2009, respectively. Meanwhile, coal and nuclear costs have increased by 9% and 23%, respectively…[Even without current subsidies, New Energy] costs can be considerably lower than the marginal cost of conventional energy technologies…[C]ustomers save money when utilities replace existing coal with wind or solar…[and] utility solar PV costs will decline 60% by 2050 under mid-level forecasts assuming continued industry growth, and technological breakthroughs [cutting] costs up to 80% by 2050…[O]nshore wind analysis forecasts a 30% cost decline by 2050, which could be up to 58%-64% with breakthroughs…

    This year’s LCOE analysis reported new onshore wind costs $29-$56 per megawatt hour (MWh) to build without subsidies and $14-$47/MWh to build with subsidies. New utility solar PV costs $36-$44/MWh to build without subsidies and $32-$41/MWh to build with subsidies. Comparatively, marginal costs—the cost to operate existing plants—are $27-$45/MWh for coal and $24-$31/MWh for nuclear…[V]alues would be even better if Lazard accounted for external costs from climate change like property damage from extreme weather disasters or human lives lost to air pollution…” click here for more

    Monday, December 03, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: From Coal To New Energy Without A NatGas Bridge

    Coal To Clean; How the UK phased out coal without a dash for gas

    May 2018 (World Wildlife Fund and Sandbag)

    Key Findings

    ➤ The UK is on track to phase-out coal by 2025 and keep the lights on without building any new large gas plants

    • One large gas plant (Carrington) went into operation in 2016, the first since 2012. Under current policy, it is likely to be the last large gas plant built in the UK.1

    • By the end of 2016, there were seven coal plants left to replace, with a combined capacity of 14GW.

    • Contracts to replace five of these have already been signed - half with interconnectors, battery and Demand Side Response (DSR) - the other half with fossil generation, mostly small peaking gas generators. This capacity comes online from 2018 to 2021.

    • Our analysis shows the remaining two coal plants - just 2.8GW of capacity - are likely to be replaced in a similar manner, without the need for any new large gas plants.

    ➤ Renewables will completely replace coal generation

    • By 2025 electricity output from renewable sources will exceed the highest level of coal electricity generated in any year this century (which was 142 TWh in 2006).

    • 95% of the required renewables growth to replace coal is already contracted or under construction, the Government has promised additional funding for the remainder. Offshore wind will provide most of the growth from 2017 to 2025.

    ➤ The switch to a grid dominated by renewables means new capacity is only required to run infrequently - unsuitable for large gas plants

    • Meeting capacity requirements with large gas plants would be unnecessarily costly for UK consumers and would lock the UK into higher gas use and carbon emissions.

    • Already, the remaining coal plants do not operate very often (load factor averaged 19% in 2017).

    • Our analysis shows the replacements for coal will need to operate even less (just 3% load factor in 2025 on conservative assumptions). As coal closes, the existing gas fleet will supplant some of coal’s generation, and renewables will reduce the load further.

    ➤ Gas use in the electricity system has already peaked - but its rate of decline is less certain

    • In 2017, gas use was already 24% below the peak set back in 2008. In the majority of plausible scenarios, gas use will be lower or significantly lower in 2025 than it was in 2017.

    • The UK Government is relying on growing electricity imports to help decarbonise the electricity system: interconnectors are forecast to supply 22% of electricity by 2025. If this doesn’t happen, existing gas would generate more, and carbon emissions would be ~ 70MT higher than BEIS’s current projections by the end of 2025. Under such a scenario the UK would struggle to meet its legally binding carbon budgets.

    • Even if electricity imports are lower than expected or demand is higher, the UK is still unlikely to need new large gas plants - small distributed technology will fill the gap more cheaply. This report shows that faster renewables growth and improved energy efficiency mitigates these policy risks.

    Key recommendations

    The UK has so far successfully navigated the phase-out of coal, avoiding a gas bridge. However, meeting our carbon budgets in the next decade is not yet certain. Our recommendations for the Government are:

    1. Unleash the potential of solar and onshore wind now.

    a. Currently the lion’s share of the UK’s renewables growth to 2025 will come from offshore wind. A fast and cost-effective way to keep reducing gas emissions throughout the early 2020’s is a subsidy-free CFD auction for onshore wind and solar. Both technologies have short construction lead times and significant existing planning consent. Onshore wind is demonstrably cheaper than UK electricity wholesale prices, and with the UK’s first subsidy-free PV farm already commissioned, solar should be competitive too.

    2. Do not bring forward policy measures to support new build large gas.

    a. The lights will stay on after coal has been phased out - without new build large gas. On March 20th, Claire Perry MP announced a review of the Capacity Market - this review should not promote new build large gas.

    3. Prevent excess emissions from small peaking gas.

    a. Policy is needed to address the emissions from small peaking gas as poor market design may be artificially inflating running hours. The 450gCO2/kWh instantaneous limit proposed in the coal phase-out legislation should be extended to all new build generation with a thermal capacity of over 1MW. This will ensure small peaking gas is only used when absolutely necessary to support the grid.

    4. Increase innovation funding for long term electricity storage technologies.

    a. Longer-term electricity storage will be required to fill in for seasonal and multi-day lulls in renewables output if we are to phase-out gas from our electricity mix in the long term. While we welcome recent Government funding commitments in energy storage, we recommend the Government sets up an innovation fund to tackle long-term electricity storage specifically.

    5. Mitigate the risk of a slower fall in gas use and begin planning now for a gas phase-out.

    a. Policy is needed immediately to mitigate the risk of a slower decline in gas use caused by: increasing demand; delayed or cancelled new-build nuclear projects; or a reduced volume of electricity imports. Longer term, the government should look at the role of seasonal energy storage and carbon capture and storage technology in reducing gas emissions to zero.

    QUICK NEWS, December 3: Watch U.S. Cities Heat Up; Astonishing Things About New Energy, Part 5 – Geothermal

    Watch U.S. Cities Heat Up Watch how the climate could change in these US cities by 2050; In some cities, it’ll be like moving two states south.

    Umair Irfan and Kavya Sukumar, Javier Zarracina and Amanda Northrop, November 30, 2018 (VOX)

    “…[Climate change has already had devastating impacts on our health and economy, and its costs could mount to hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, according to the National Climate Assessment from 13 federal agencies. Maps from Weather 2050, based on the assessment’s business as usual forecasts show] many US cities may resemble hotter, more southern parts of the country today…in terms of their temperature and rainfall patterns…The planet as a whole has already warmed by 1°C since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and we are currently on track to see upward of 2°C of warming by 2040. But we still have an opportunity to prevent the worst-case scenarios…Whether the world shifts to cleaner energy, eats less meat, manages land better, pulls carbon dioxide out of the air, or sticks to business as usual will mean vastly different degrees of future warming…” click here for more

    Astonishing Things About New Energy, Part 5 – Geothermal 5 Hard-to-Believe Renewable Energy Facts; Renewable energy from wind and solar went from impossibly expensive to nearly 10% of American electricity in less than 20 years. What's ahead may be even more astounding.

    Maxx Chatsko, November 11, 2018 (The Motley Fool)

    “…Geothermal energy could replace nuclear power, with help from fracking…While some states have provided subsidies to reward nuclear power plants for providing carbon-free electricity, that can't continue indefinitely. By 2030, the country's aging [nuclear] fleet will be long overdue for retirement…The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly funding the development of a novel technology called enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). By using fracking technology pioneered and perfected for use in shale oil and gas regions, it may be possible to create geothermal energy wells across the United States that can produce massive amounts of clean energy…

    …[Simulations show numbers almost] too good to be true. The United States has an estimated 100,000 megawatts of easily accessible next-generation geothermal potential -- exactly the amount of nuclear power currently operating. Geothermal is the second most efficient energy source…behind nuclear power, and the U.S. DOE is targeting a deployment date of 2030 -- exactly when the nation will need to replace its nuclear fleet…The opportunity isn't quite ready for individual investors yet, but companies that specialize in oil and gas well optimization…[could take advantage of] emerging opportunities in EGS…” click here for more