NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • A Presidents’ Day Visit To The White House
  • Obama Did It
  • The President Reports
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: “The S Hits The Fan”
  • Weekend Video: Some Fact-Finding
  • Weekend Video: More Jobs In New Energy Than In Fossil Fuels
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Half Of World’s Threatened Mammals Harmed By Climate Changes
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Is World’s Biggest Solar Producer
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Ocean Wind’s Price Getting More Competitive
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Next-Gen Biofuels Advance On The Market
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, February 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Moving Out Of The Goldilocks Zone
  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. New Energy Boom Gets Bigger
  • TTTA Thursday-Oil Companies Uneasy As EVs Rise
  • TTTA Thursday-Research Would Make Algae Biofuels Affordable
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Shared Customer Storage May Make Big Batteries Obsolete
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Help For Rural Utilities To Build New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Utility Leads Trend Toward Demand Charges
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Here Come The Robot Cars
  • QUICK NEWS, February 14: Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop; Wind’s Price Getting Better; Vermont Health Care Goes Solar
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, February 21:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Delivering Electricity Through The Cloud
  • QUICK NEWS, February 21: What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change; High Winds Rising In The Deep South; When Solar Stocks Will Come Back

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Delivering Electricity Through The Cloud

    Clearing a Path to the Cloud: U.S. Regulator Perspectives on Cloud Technologies

    February 2017 (Oracle Utilities)

    While utilities are starting to embrace cloud technologies, as determined in On Cloud Now, a study we undertook in early 2016, often the decision is not theirs alone to make. Regulators’ rulings on whether public utilities’ investments in cloud technologies can be capitalized are central to paving the way for accelerated cloud adoption.

    Our first utility cloud survey of 100 electric, water, and gas utility executives found that 45% of those utilities were already using cloud technologies—defined broadly as applications and computing resources delivered as services over a network connection instead of through in-house resources at the utility—with another 52% planning to do so. Building upon the results of that first study, we sought out the thoughts of another group integral to the utility investment equation: utility regulators. We subsequently surveyed 76 U.S. regulatory staff and commissioners, and discovered corroboration of the paradigm shift indicated in our first study: Both utilities and regulators recognize that the cloud will become an integral part of utilities’ processes and operations.

    Our survey results indicated that many regulators understand the cloud’s benefits, and are starting to show more formal support as they figure out their role in enabling investment in cloud technologies. This paper takes a deeper dive into the ways in which regulators see value in the cloud, both for utilities and for their customers.

    Armed with the wealth of information gleaned from both studies, we have also prepared a brief playbook to aid utilities in taking a proactive approach to optimizing their individual strategies for leveraging cloud technologies. You’ll find it, and further recommendations, at the end of this paper. In this paper, you’ll learn:

    • Why U.S. regulators see benefits in utilities using cloud technologies • How regulators plan to support investment in cloud technologies by utilities

    • Recommendations for furthering regulator support for the cloud

    • Approaches for utilities to evaluate the best path forward for their own cloud strategies

    Key Findings

    74% of respondents report improved flexibility as a top benefit of the cloud.

    69% of U.S. regulators support capitalizing cloud-based software.

    33% of respondents have a specific and comprehensive strategy for utility cloud investment.

    Nearly 80% of regulators think that they should play at least some role in determining whether utilities use cloud.

    Regulators See Benefits in the Cloud

    Why the change in perspective? In the digital age, customers’ increasing expectations have set the bar for functionality, flexibility and efficiency at an unprecedented high level across all industries—and utilities are no exception. The digital world moves quickly, and keeping up with the latest technology can be difficult. For utilities, lagging behind on technology can pose significant physical, safety and financial threats.

    The study shows that regulators understand these needs, and that the cloud can help utilities stay ahead of the technology curve. Approximately 74% of regulators surveyed ranked improved flexibility as one of the top three benefits of cloud applications versus on-premises solutions. Keeping pace with technology changes (70%) and improved accessibility to applications (61%) were also highly ranked benefits. (Figure 3)

    The cloud offers myriad opportunities for utilities to leverage technology in ways that don’t require them to step outside of their areas of expertise, both on the customer and operational sides of the business.

    While the regulators we surveyed indicated that the top three opportunities for the cloud are in emerging or relatively new areas for utilities, including meter data management (46%), big data analytics (41%), and distribution and network automation (36%) (Figure 4), there are opportunities for leveraging the cloud all across the business enterprise…

    Recommendations

    Regulatory bodies across the United States are enabling the cloud to grow in value for utilities, and utilities must take a proactive approach to optimize their individual strategy for leveraging cloud technology. By combining the regulator insights captured in this report with the utility executive insights captured in our previous study, we’ve developed a Cloud Playbook for Utilities to assist in evaluating cloud strategy decisions. Below are the steps:

    Step 1: Evaluate cloud fit. There is not simply a “one size fits all” cloud roadmap. Utilities must evaluate their own goals, business processes, and technology needs in order to determine the cloud roadmap that will deliver the most value for their unique needs. Utilities should evaluate cloud fit for each application and business area within their technology roadmap. Key assessment categories:

    • Cost savings and risk reduction potential: Applications that typically carry a heavy cost and time burden for initial on-premises implementation, as well as ongoing maintenance, tend to have significant opportunity for cost savings and process efficiency improvements in the cloud.

    • Standardization: A major key to realizing the greatest cost benefit of cloud lies in eliminating complexity and risk through standardization. The more a process can be standardized, the greater the opportunity to streamline and simplify the supporting technology.

    • Internal expertise: When a business area or application requires specialized expertise, building a team to support it pulls resources from core business objectives. The cloud can potentially offload this specialization to a technology partner so your team can refocus on the core business.

    • Scalability: Supporting the rapid growth of projects can potentially be expensive, as traditional on-premises infrastructure and technology costs add up. Cloud options often deliver the flexibility to scale up, or down, in a cost-effective way

    • Latest technology: Keeping in sync with the latest technology and capabilities is difficult when working within traditional methods of software implementation and upgrades. Alternatively, cloud solutions should offer a predictable, consistent upgrade path.

    Given the respective scores of the business areas and applications assessed, utilities can begin to prioritize their cloud roadmap strategy and accelerate cloud adoption where there is the most value to be gained.

    Step 2: Get aligned with regulators. As we found in both studies, utilities and regulators are aligned on many of the key cloud benefits and challenges. This alignment is a solid foundation to build upon and continue to nurture progress. Utilities and regulators can develop an effective approach to maximizing benefits of cloud while working together as stewards of privacy and data security. Here are key points to keep in mind:

    Think Big Picture As regulation evolves in the face of technology-induced change, huge opportunities will be unlocked for utilities. Support regulators as they continue their balancing act between protection and innovation. As regulators move forward, it is important first to help them understand the big picture of the cloud and its potential value to constituents, and then to address specific ways in which utilities can best recover the costs of their investments in cloud technologies.

    Leverage Common Understanding When asked to identify the top three perceived benefits for utilities in leveraging cloud applications over onpremises solutions, regulators and utilities alike identified improved flexibility and the ability to keep pace with technology changes as important benefits. After that, their focus diverged: utilities identified reduced spending on technology infrastructure and the ability to focus on core competencies as important benefits, while regulators indicated that improved accessibility to applications was important. Both the commonalities and differences in the survey results of these two groups present an opportunity to establish a common understanding within both groups of the benefits of moving to the cloud.

    Step 3: Implement the right accounting treatment. Throughout the U.S., regulators and utilities alike are turning to accounting experts to better understand how to account for cloud investments.

    Some regulators have made progress in leveling the playing field between cloud and on-premises solution investments. These regulators are taking a simple approach and interpreting existing regulatory accounting rules to meet their needs. Utilities can proactively urge other regulators to follow in their footsteps.

    As the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners recently noted in a resolution at its 2016 annual meeting: “The business of electric, gas, and water utilities is changing rapidly. Utilities are now faced with how best to respond to modern expectations, technological innovation, and new regulatory drivers. To thrive in the future, utilities may need to modernize and transform their business operations. A key element of this may be access to state-of-the-art commercial cloud computing services, which is increasingly delivered via a ‘cloud-based’ or ‘software-as-a-service’ model.”

    Step 4: Move forward quickly and prudently. After you have built a cloud strategy that supports your business and technology roadmap, move forward with confidence. You have cleared the best path to the cloud, trust it. Periodically reassess your strategy to uncover opportunities to accelerate and optimize return on investment. Look to your technology partners to support you through this.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 21: What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change; High Winds Rising In The Deep South; When Solar Stocks Will Come Back

    What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change 5 Ways Businesses Are Tackling Climate Change; Businesses recognise that climate change will involve new technologies, operating models and investment landscapes that present particular challenges and opportunities.

    February 20, 2017 (World Economic Forum via Eye Witness News)

    “Businesses and investors are increasingly recognising climate change as one of the top global risks...[and now fall] into two main camps. The first group have already started mobilising to drive the shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, looking to take advantage of the economic opportunities it presents. The second group - reading the signals from policy-makers and markets - is beginning to realise that the world’s shift to a low-carbon future is now inevitable and is grappling to understand the disruptions it will bring and the speed at which they will come…[Both groups recognize five key areas of challenges and opportunities in the rising level of investment going into sustainable business models and infrastructure development, the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies, the standardizing of corporate reporting on climate risk, the increasing use of effective carbon pricing, and more global collaboration on meeting the challenges]…” click here for more

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    High Winds Rising In The Deep South The South Has Been Slow To Harness Its Wind, But That's Changing

    Sarah McCammon, February 16, 2017 (National Public Radio)

    “Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But [because surface winds are mild, Amazon’s North Carolina installation will be the first large wind project in the] Southeast…[T]he strongest winds tend to be higher up than in [the wide open spaces of] the Great Plains…[because of geography and because] the Southeast has a lot of trees and forests…[A]side from a small amount of wind power in Tennessee, the region has lagged far behind the rest of the country in wind energy…[But technological advances make taller towers and longer blades] feasible and more affordable…[T]he cost of generating wind power has dropped about 65 percent over about the past five years…[and is now cost-competitive with coal and nuclear and southern] utilities are looking to diversify their fuel mix and lock in a low price with wind energy…” click here for more

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    When Solar Stocks Will Come Back Solar Energy Production Hit a Record High in 2016, So What's Wrong With Solar Stocks?

    Travis Hoium, February 18, 2017 (Motley Fool via Madison.com)

    “…[Driven by falling costs and favorable policy, the U.S. solar industry saw a 95% jump in installations in 2016] to 14.6 GW…On top of the huge installation numbers, solar accounted for 39% of all new electricity installed in 2016, a record for the industry. And with costs coming down every year, the future looks bright for the industry…{But across] the board, solar stocks had a rough year in 2016…SunPower, First Solar, Vivint Solar, and Sunrun are all down significantly [and SolarCity would be, too, if not for its buyout by Tesla…[Stocks are down because the favorable policy disfavored new contracts. That will lead to a slow 2017. But solar energy is cheaper than ever and it's now competing with fossil fuels on a cost basis. Long term, that will lead to a [bumpy ride and then a] tremendous amount of growth, and companies like First Solar, SunPower, Vivint, Sunrun, and Tesla should lead the way…” click here for more

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    Monday, February 20, 2017

    A Presidents’ Day Visit To The White House

    From the History Channel

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    Obama Did It

    Under President Obama, the U.S. became a net energy EXPORTER. Promise fulfilled. From carlyhelfand via YouTube

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    The President Reports

    Some may not recognize what the President is reporting here. They are verifiable facts. From SJC Movie via YouTube

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    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    “The S Hits The Fan”

    This is not the kind of new NewEnergyNews was created to report. But former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is brilliant, informed, and not an alarmist so this has to be reported.From Climate One via YouTube

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    Some Fact-Finding

    Some good news: There still lots of scientists standing up and speaking truth to power.From Chicago’s Field Museum via YouTube

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    More Jobs In New Energy Than In Fossil Fuels

    More good news: New Energy is a way to invest directly in “the local communities that have not received the benefits of globalization.” From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    Friday, February 17, 2017

    Half Of World’s Threatened Mammals Harmed By Climate Changes

    Impact of climate change on mammals and birds 'greatly under-estimated'

    February 13, 2017 (PhysOrg)

    “…[A] team of international researchers found evidence of observed responses to recent climate changes in almost 700 birds and mammal species…[Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change] reviewed the observed impacts of climate change on birds and mammals using a total of 130 studies, making it the most comprehensive assessment to date on how climate change has affected our most well studied species…[It clearly showed that the impact of climate change on mammals and birds to date has been greatly under estimated and reported on. About] half the threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23 per cent of threatened birds (out of 1272 species) have already responded negatively to climate change…[The authors said decision makers must be made aware that climate change is not a future threat anymore and action is needed] to stop species going extinct…” click here for more

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    China Is World’s Biggest Solar Producer

    China Is Now The World’s Largest Producer Of Solar Power

    Alexa Erickson, February 12, 2017 (Collective Evolution)

    “…Of the countries of the world taking advantage of solar, it is China, the most populous in the world, who reigns supreme…[It] doubled its installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2016…[to a] capacity of 77.42 gigawatts…[Though that is only 1% of the country’s energy output, China has announced plans to] add more than 110 gigawatts [of New Energy] within the next three years…[and up] its renewable energy use [from 11%] to 20% by 2030...[China plans to put more than $360 billion into New Energy like] solar, wind, nuclear, and hydropower. The country currently relies heavily on [severely polluting] coal…[The commitment to New Energy is expected to create] over 13 million jobs…” click here for more

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    Ocean Wind’s Price Getting More Competitive

    Wind costs heading in the right direction…Wind power's competitive position continues to improve despite historically low fossil-fuel prices.

    David Milborrow, 31 January 2017 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…[The 2016 installed costs for offshore wind were] between £4,000/kW and $6,000/kW. This year they range from only $2,100/kW to $5,000/kW…Last year we arrived at a figure of just under $192/MWh as a representative cost of offshore wind electricity generation, assuming a wind speed of 9m/s...[This year, assuming installed costs of $3,000/kW, is] $89.5/MWh, or slightly less than half. Slightly higher wind speeds could push that down to below $80/MWh…At that level, offshore wind is extremely cost-competitive with [the current price range for natural gas-fired electricity generation of between $56/MWh (US) and $71/MWh (UK)], provided a carbon price is applied, and well within the wide range of nuclear generation costs [of around $120/MWh in the UK and around $100/MWh in the U.S. in 2022]… The economic case is impossible to ignore…” click here for more

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    Next-Gen Biofuels Advance On The Market

    Global Biofuels to Rise to 67 Billion Gallons in 2022 as Next-Generation Technologies Take Over; Advanced biofuels will nearly double in five years to 9.6 billion gallons per year as first-generation fuels like traditional biodiesel lose out to newer low-carbon fuels…

    February 14, 2017 (Lux Research)

    “New biofuel technology is finally starting to push aside traditional biofuels…[Overall output will grow] to 67 billion gallons a year (BGY) in 2022, from 59 BGY in 2016…The global biofuels industry will grow at a slower 2.2% annual rate to 67 BGY of nameplate capacity by 2022. First-generation biofuels, which hold a 91.5% market share, will continue to dominate but will lose nearly 6% of market share, as advanced biofuels see rapid growth, nearly doubling capacity to 9.6 BGY…Second-generation biodiesel makes up 65% of the 5.0 BGY advanced biofuel market today, but is projected to lose 26% market share by 2022 due to the rapid growth of low-carbon and high-performance drop-in biofuels such as renewable diesel…Emerging thermochemical and catalytic technologies will surpass bioconversion processes to make up over half of the new capacity deployment for the first time in the biofuel industry’s history…” click here for more

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    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Climate Moving Out Of The Goldilocks Zone

    What 'Goldilocks' can tell us about climate change and health

    Ariel Bogle, February 15, 2017 (Mashable)

    “…The earth’s balance of things like enough rain but not too much and enough sun to warm us but not too much is changing. This [Goldilocks Zone] of comfort — where conditions are best for supporting our food, our water and our health — is fast being upended by man-caused global warming…Everyone knows about Goldilocks’ not too hot and not too cold porridge and human] life generally operates on the same principle…We're physiologically evolved to manage within a particular climatic zone, and on top of that, we have social and cultural adaptions to climate that mean our houses are built in a particular style, we wear a particular type of clothes, we spend more or less time out of doors…But if climate changes quickly, whether temperature goes up or down, we're stressed. And one of the expressions of that stress is a greater vulnerability to disease, injury and ill-health…” click here for more

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    U.S. New Energy Boom Gets Bigger

    Solar and wind energy propel growth in US renewables; Capacity has grown threefold in the past decade, but the country still lags behind Europe and China in sustainable energy.

    Quirin Schiermier, 14 February 2017 (Nature)

    “…Energy capacity from sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal reached a record 141 gigawatts (GW) in the country at the end of 2016…Hydropower, the most prevalent renewable in the United States, added another 103 GW…[The combined new wind and solar capacity] has increased almost fivefold since 2008, from 26 to 123 GW [according to The Sustainable Energy In America Factbook]…Wind accounted for 83 GW...But US wind capacity still lags way behind that of the European Union and China, which both had more than 140 GW installed by 2015…The increasing use of solar photovoltaics and cells drove most of the growth in US low-carbon energy in recent years…And thanks to the increasing decarbonization of the power sector and improved energy efficiency generally, US greenhouse-gas emissions plunged to a 25-year low in 2016.” click here for more

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    Oil Companies Uneasy As EVs Rise

    Electric Car Frenzy Putting Oil Companies On Edge

    James Burgess, February 15, 2017 (Oil Price via Yahoo Finance)

    "The massive wealth of the 20th century was all about the oil boom, but the 21st century is going to be about lithium as electric vehicles move in to replace traditional vehicles…The global economic implications are vast and far-reaching…[For investors, the] implications are potentially very lucrative…[ Bloomberg predicts EVs could take hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel producers’ value] in the next decade…We may have already seen U.S. gasoline demand peak, and future demand may be in a state of permanent decline, in large part because electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and hitting the mainstream…[Electric vehicles could replace] 2 million barrels per day of oil demand by 2025…[The oil supermajors have seen this energy revolution coming and auto] giants are now convinced that EVs—despite the long road to the finish line—will overtake the internal combustion engine sooner than you might think…” click here for more

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    Research Would Turn Algae Into Affordable Biofuel

    Graduate student develops economically efficient way to turn microalgae into biofuel

    Kennedy Rose, 02-08-2017 (The Syracuse University Daily Orange)

    “…[Production of biofuels] from microalgae can be more efficient and economically viable [according to Cultivation and energy efficient harvesting of microalgae using thermoreversible sol-gel transition…Microalgae is very versatile and can produce different types of biofuels, including ethanol, jet fuel and biodiesel…[The breakthrough is a new way] for extracting microalgae from the solutions in which they grow. Previously, the organisms grown in a lab setting had a tendency to stick to the walls of their container and had to be stirred constantly…The microalgae grow in [a] gel when it’s at a higher temperature, and the gel turns into a liquid when the temperature is decreased. That method allows the organisms to be harvested more easily…[and] saves on energy, making it more economically efficient than the current methods…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Shared Customer Storage May Make Big Batteries Obsolete

    Greater than the sum: How aggregation is making storage into a software business; Grouping customer-sited batteries can deliver the same benefits as grid-scale storage, DNV-GL says

    Herman K. Trabish, June 13, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Battery storage continues to grow expand and wrestle with cost and technology growing pains.

    The installed capacity of U.S. battery storage continues to rise rapidly. The 65 MW deployed in 2014 turned into 221 MW put online in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research. The projected annual deployment is over 2 GW by 2021, producing a market worth $2.9 billion. Once-prohibitive costs are coming down but, more importantly, the software that allows utilities and grid operators to aggregate and control numerous storage sources on the grid is getting cheaper and better and it will lead to a new era of storage adoption, according to DNV GL Americas Energy Storage Leader Davion M. Hill.

    In front of the meter, utility-scale storage continues to lead the sector, reaching almost 10 MW in Q1 2016. But the behind-the-meter (BTM) storage sector is forecast to go from 15% of the 2015 market to 49% of the market in 2021. Enabled by the newest software platforms, aggregations of distributed energy resources (DER), including BTM storage, will increasingly be able to provide megawatt scale power over long durations with unprecedented flexibility. With software platforms allowing more and more efficient aggregation capabilities, there will be no need for a disruptive battery technology. Today’s off-the-shelf technologies can become virtual batteries that have greater energy and power and duration greater than theoretical disruptive technologies. New software platforms are permitting the stacking of applications that were previously thought to be mutually exclusive and may become an operating system for the grid… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Help For Rural Utilities To Build New Energy

    The Rural Utilities Service: How the USDA is building a clean energy future for rural America; A little-known federal program has billions to dole out for renewables and efficiency projects for underserved populations

    Herman K. Trabish, June 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: It will be worth noting what happens to this program aimed at Trump country during the Trump administration. Will it follow the drive for infrastructure investment or succumb to the hostility to New Energy? And how will Trump voters respond?

    From the best-kept secrets file: There is a little-known $6.25 billion federal fund offering low interest loans and guarantees to utilities looking to build rate-based infrastructure. Along with the funding, utilities can work cost-free with knowledgeable staff anxious to get applicants successfully through the process of building the kinds of renewable energy, smart grid, and efficiency projects utility customers are clamoring for. It has invested over $1.1 billion since 2009 in 26 renewable energy projects in rural America and is actively looking for more renewables and energy efficiency opportunities. The only catch is that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS)-funded projects have to meet the needs of underserved communities with populations of 20,000 or less.

    Power providers can leverage the funding with a variety of partners. RUS money is to improve economic development and the quality of life in rural America and can go to corporations, states, territories and subdivisions and agencies such as municipalities, people's utility districts, and nonprofit, limited-dividend, or mutual associations. The loans and loan guarantees finance construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities, including system improvements and replacements required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas, as well as demand side management, energy efficiency and conservation programs, and on-grid and off-grid renewable energy systems… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Utility Leads Trend Toward Demand Charges

    APS rate case sparks concern beyond mandatory demand charge proposal; Along with a rate structure overhaul, the Arizona utility also wants to cut net metering credits to its avoided cost rate.

    Editor’s note: This controversy will come to a head when the rate case goes before AZ regulators in March.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    After working for years to win approval from Arizona regulators for higher fixed charges and fees for solar customers, Arizona Public Service altered its strategy in its new rate case and requested demand charges for virtually all its customers. The deferred 2015 request from APS to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for an increase of its $0.70/kW fixed charge to $3/kW has been abandoned for a more complicated and contentious solution as part of its proposal to invest $3.6 billion in utility operations over the next three years. The demand charges, being new, have raised a clamor. But net energy metering (NEM) credits for rooftop solar would also be reduced.

    APS has long expressed concern that rooftop solar customers, due to their lower demand and NEM credits, do not pay their fair share for grid upkeep, leaving the costs to the rest of the customers. The rate case filing expands on those concerns. The total shift to non-solar customers already totals $42.7 million and will grow by $20.1 million just in the time it takes the commission to rule. Former Arizona commissioner Kris Mayes said the problem is that APS is ignoring all the benefits of rooftop solar and making its calculations only its costs. Fixed charges and net metering rates will get their shares of hearing time in the rate case, but the push for residential demand charges raises serious questions or whether utility customers are prepared and equipped to benefit from them… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Here Come The Robot Cars

    Peak Car Ownership; The Market Opportunity Of Electric Automated Mobility Services

    Charlie Johnson And Jonathan Walker, February 2017 (Mobility Transformation/Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary – Introduction

    Personal vehicles have dominated the U.S. mobility system for nearly 100 years. But we are now in the formative stages of a powerful confluence of cultural, technological, and societal forces. It is possible that a new mobility system will emerge in the next few years that is superior to our existing system in almost every way. This report provides guidance on what to expect so that stakeholders can prepare today.

    Analysis by leading organizations and experts indicates the technical, logistical, and economic plausibility of a future where most mobility needs are met by mobility services, enabled by autonomous driving technology, and powered by electric powertrains. This future system has the potential to reduce costs by over $1 trillion, reduce CO2 emissions by a gigatonne, and save tens of thousands of lives per year in the U.S. alone.

    With so many advantages, hundreds of billions of dollars could shift away from personal vehicle products and services to mobility service providers like transportation network companies (TNCs), technology companies, and the nimble automakers that are able to pivot. What is unclear is the rate and scope at which the disruption could occur and the impact it will have on determining winners and losers, both of which are highly dependent on the decisions made today by stakeholders (financial institutions, automakers, new entrants, electric utilities, governments, etc.).

    This report provides strategic decision makers with potential market sizes and plausible rates of mobility service proliferation that could occur under reasonable circumstances. The report is the product of analysis to determine key economic tipping points combined with relevant consumer-adoption data and trends to estimate market sizes, growth rates, and impacts on demand for personal vehicles, gasoline, electricity, and CO2 emissions. The results suggest that key stakeholders must shift their business models and policies to benefit from this mobility transformation.

    Executive Summary – Key Findings

    1. By 2018, solely using autonomous taxis for transportation could cost the same as owning and operating a car.

    Upon debut, fully autonomous vehicles could reduce the cost of on-demand point-to-point mobility services like Uber and Lyft to near cost parity with owning and driving a car (around $0.85 per mile), allowing consumers to economically choose these services exclusively over a personal vehicle (see Figure 1). Despite current technological and potential regulatory barriers, many of the world’s most powerful companies are racing to deploy automated mobility services as soon as 2017 in certain U.S. cities.

    2. Electric vehicles make strong economic sense to provide automated mobility service.

    At the high mileage driven by mobility service vehicles, model year 2018 electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 could save mobility services providers over $1,000 annually per vehicle versus a comparable gasoline vehicle (see Figure 2). This is due to lower operating costs that more than compensate for higher capital costs (even without subsidies). As battery costs fall and EV production reaches full scale, the cost advantages of EVs will only grow and should lead to at least $4,000 annual savings per vehicle by 2030, equivalent to ~$200 billion in total fleet savings per year. Economics should impel automated service providers to deploy electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs).

    3. The total mobility market of the first 26 U.S cities where automated mobility service will likely launch is worth ~$600 billion

    Based on existing use of services like Uber and Lyft, paired with surveys of consumer acceptance of autonomous vehicles and automated mobility services, the U.S. “early adopter” pool for automated mobility service appears to be quite large, particularly at a price point of $1.00 per mile or lower. By rolling out service strategically in U.S. markets, early-to-market automated mobility service providers could capture over $100 billion in revenue at the expense of incumbents like oil companies and traditional carmakers.

    4. Automated mobility services could capture two-thirds of the entire U.S. mobility market in 15–20 years.

    Second-generation electric autonomous vehicles and services could reduce automated mobility costs below the operating cost of a personal vehicle (~$0.30/mile). At this price, car owners could utilize automated mobility services frequently/exclusively with no cost increase over driving their own vehicle. Low cost, combined with increasing breadth of vehicle and service offerings, would open most of the mobility market to automated mobility service providers. Potential pitfalls and unknowns may limit automated mobility service growth, but tech leaders, governments, and other stakeholders are working on making the proliferation of electric automated mobility service a reality.

    5. Oil companies will lose revenue, utilities will gain, and carmakers will be split.

    Electric vehicles could displace gasoline vehicles very quickly in a mobility service paradigm. Due to high annual mileage, service vehicles will turn over in about five years instead of ten to fifteen for personal vehicles.

    Due to compelling economics, most of the automated service vehicles should be electric by 2025. This quick introduction and quick turnover could lead to gasoline demand dropping by two-thirds by 2035.

    Executive Summary – Outlook

    According to our modeling, peak car ownership in the United States will occur around 2020 and will drop quickly after that. This could lead to a clear delineation between winners and losers based on which auto companies capitalize on emerging business models for mobility services and which do not. In addition, the speed and complexity of this disruption could favor new entrants that are used to a rapidly changing consumer and technology landscape and fast turnover of product. New entrants also have lower risk of stranded assets that are already deployed (or planned) for a personal vehicle-centric market.

    On the positive side, carmakers that excel in providing autonomous vehicles and automated mobility services stand to prosper greatly in the next two decades. As personal vehicle demand drops, demand for autonomous vehicles to perform mobility services will grow. Demand for autonomous service vehicles will compensate for lost demand for personal vehicles for several years, but ultimately the vehicle fleet will shrink considerably. But carmakers that provide mobility services and autonomous vehicles could reap substantial profit since our current system costs around $0.80 per mile, and mature electric automated mobility service could cost only $0.30 per mile. That difference of $0.50 per mile equates to over $1 trillion in total savings that will be split between society, consumers, and the mobility service providers of the future.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 14: Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop; Wind’s Price Getting Better; Vermont Health Care Goes Solar

    Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop The Trump administration can’t entirely roll back progress on climate change. Here’s why.

    Jessica F. Green, February 10, 2017 (Washington Post)

    “Environmentalists are not happy with the Trump administration…[But here’s] the good news: States, cities and many companies in the United States realize that…[rational policies provide] important health benefits, such as reducing smog, and [help] authorities prepare for climate-induced changes, such as floods and droughts. For companies, planning for the future is just good business…The C40 Cities initiative is a network of more than 80 cities, including 13 in the United States, and represents 600 million people around the globe. Their governments are collaborating on climate efforts, and they have committed to mandatory measurement and reporting of emissions and other policy measures…Eight U.S. cities also joined the ambitious Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, where cities pledge to cut emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050…[New York, Miami, and many other U.S. cities are also preparing for a changed climate…[T]he fate of Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is unclear…[but] many U.S. utilities are moving forward assuming CPP or other regulations will be in place…All of these moves suggest there’s reason to be hopeful…” click here for more

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    Wind’s Price Getting Better Wind costs heading in the right direction; WORLDWIDE: Wind power's competitive position continues to improve despite historically low fossil-fuel prices.

    David Milborrow, 31 January 2017 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…Despite the low oil, gas and coal prices of the past two and half years, the renewable-energy industry has remained buoyant…[According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), ‘major transformations’ in global energy will make renewables and natural gas the big winners through 2040. Most renewables-based generation is already competitive without subsidies and, with the oil price now rising to over $50 a barrel, the outlook is even better for] renewables, particularly wind power…Onshore wind energy is already proving to be commercially competitive in some markets. If the cost of electricity from conventional fossil-fuel sources increases, that process will accelerate…[The latest manufacturer’s data] suggests that turbine-selling prices in the third quarter of 2016 were $941/kW, 8% lower than in the corresponding period in 2015…” click here for more

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    Vermont Health Care Goes Solar Medicine turns to solar energy

    Susan Smallher, February 11, 2017 (Rutland Herald)

    “…[The Springfield, VT, Hospital and Health Center] has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center…[T]he hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year…[The smaller solar system will] produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger, net metered system at the hospital [will] produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage…[Engineers determined the building’s] roof was not suitable…[The $30,000 four panel hot water system was installed before the onset of winter and has] already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels…During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center…” click here for more

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