New Energy 10 Years Ago And Today
What a difference a decade can make! From Environment America via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, December 7-8:
What a difference a decade can make! From Environment America via YouTube
The transition to New Energy puts “an end to climate change within our reach.” From National Geographic via YouTube
Demand has dropped, efficiency is increasing, and the opportunity of a generation is at hand. Modular additions of predictable and manageable New Energy is the answer. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube
Climate crisis pushing Earth to a 'global tipping point,' researchers say
Helen Regan, November 28, 2019 (CNN)
The Earth is heading toward a "global tipping point" if the climate crisis continues on its current path…[Only urgent action can avoid ‘an existential threat to civilization,’ according to a commentary in the journal Nature because growing evidence suggests] irreversible changes to the Earth's environmental systems are already taking place…A global tipping point is a threshold when the planet's systems go beyond the point of no return -- such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest, accelerated melting of ice sheets, and thawing of permafrost…
Such a collapse could lead to ‘hothouse’ conditions that would make some areas on Earth uninhabitable…[The research identified nine areas where] tipping points are already underway…Those include widespread destruction of the Amazon, reduction of Arctic sea ice, large-scale coral reef die-offs, melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, thawing of permafrost, destabilizing of boreal forests -- which contain vast numbers of trees that grow in freezing northern climes -- and a slowdown of ocean circulation…[T]hese events are interconnected and change in one will impact another, causing a worsening ‘cascade’ of crises…” click here for more
The Renewables in Cities 2019 Global Status Report
November 25, 2019 (REN 21)
“Cities have a unique role to play in accelerating the sustainable energy transition…Crisscrossed with transport systems and home to a variety of energy-intensive end-use sectors like heating and cooling, cities are a prime playing field to transition to sustainable energy. More than half the world’s population (55%) lives in cities…[and they] account for two-thirds of global energy demand and around 75% of global CO2 emissions…[Cities in Europe, North America and Australia are experiencing higher levels of citizen involvement and investment than other regions, due in part to the existence of more-supportive market rules and enabling regulations.
…[and] efforts are under way to reform market rules to allow for more citizen and prosumer engagement in Africa, Latin America and many parts of Asia and the Pacific. Until now, data has been] lacking on city-level renewable energy targets, policies and action…The Renewables in Cities 2019 Global Status Report is the first in what is to become an annual stock-take of the global transition to renewable energy at the city-level…to build up reliable data on and create a comprehensive picture of renewable energy developments in cities globally…to better inform decision-makers both in cities and in the wider energy arena…” click here for more
Countries shifting away from fossil fuels
28 November 2019 (LoveMoney)
“…Fossil fuels are finite resources fast running out and they] release harmful gases which contribute to global warming…[The] use of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power is on the rise…[Some countries have already succeeded in providing high levels of] electricity from renewables…
…[Last month, Australia’s renewables momentarily] overtook fossil fuels to make up half of electricity supplied to the national grid…[A]t 11.50am on 6 November, renewables made up 50.2% of the [national power market] supply…Although the figure fell back down to around 30% for the rest of the day, recent analysis has found that the country could reach 50% renewables by 2030…
…[In the UK, during Q3 2019, renewables] made up 40% of electricity supplied to the national grid while fossil fuels made up 39% and the remaining supply came from nuclear power plants…[Kenya’s renewables supply 70% of the electricity on the national grid, and] the government has rolled out several ambitious projects which may [further] shift the balance…[As it moves toward 100% renewables, wind and geothermal will play] a big part in the nation’s green energy supply…” click here for more
Climate crisis: six steps to making fossil fuels history
Stephen Peake, December 3, 2019 (The Conversation)
“…[T]he 3-4℃ warmer world we’re headed for would be far more painful, costly and disruptive than any short-term costs or inconvenience we face from taking rapid, bold action…Here are six steps to decarbonizing… We could power the planet two times over with the energy we waste burning fossil fuels each and every day… We waste energy because it’s far too cheap. Prices are key to changing behaviour and investment decisions. We need to raise the price of fossil fuels so that polluters pay… Our private car culture has devastating impacts on society and the planet – even if they’re electric…[Free public transport] can change the travel patterns of every generation to come…
… Many clothes are made with fabric so thin that they only last a few months, while electronics are often designed to fail after a few years… We need strong new regulations based on life cycle analysis that prevent companies from selling substandard stuff in search of profit… The livestock industry currently accounts for about 15% of global emissions…[Meat, aquaculture, eggs, and dairy use 83% of the world’s farmland, despite providing only 37% of our protein and 18% of our calories...[W]e can shift to a diet rich in vegetables and grains… We must be clear in our demands for a new low-carbon political economy that makes fossil fuels history and renewable energy the future.” click here for more
An Assessment of the GREEN Act: Implications for Emissions and Clean Energy Deployment
December 4, 2019 (Rhodium Group)
“…[The Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act] proposes to extend several tax credits for clean energy deployment and expand several others…[It may] be the best chance in this Congress to enact measures that can accelerate clean energy deployment and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions…[An independent analysis found the combined impact of the GREEN Act tax credits] drives deployment of key clean energy technologies across the US energy system, driving US net emissions down to as low as 19% below 2005 levels in 2030…
The GREEN Act can catalyze deployment of up to nearly 60 gigawatts (GW) of new non-hydro renewable generation by 2030, compared to no extension of tax credits. The market share of these resources can at least double to 19-26% of total generation, up from 10% today…[And 3.4 to 5.7 million more electric vehicles would be] sold between today and 2030 in a scenario with extended EV tax credits…[That] would accelerate EVs to 38% of all light-duty vehicle sales in 2030, a significant increase from just 3% in 2018.” click here for more
New Wind + Solar Capacity Six Times Greater Than Gas; For The First Time, Wind Capacity Exceeds Hydropower While Solar Tops Oil…
Ken Bossong, December 2, 2019 (SUN DAY Campaign)
“…[Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) data shows] solar and wind provided nearly six times as much new generating capacity as natural gas in September…[NatGas] still holds a diminishing lead for 2019 with 52.87% of all new generating capacity compared to 45.14% for the mix of renewables (i.e., wind - 25.46%, solar - 18.49%, hydropower - 0.76%, biomass - 0.43%, geothermal - 0.00%). The balance of new capacity added includes nuclear power (1.06%), oil (0.50%), and coal (0.42%)…[T]he gap between gas and renewables for calendar year 2019 appears to be closing with additions by the latter outpacing gas during each of the last three months reported…
[By September 2022,] fossil fuels and nuclear power will experience an overall capacity drop of 6,955 MW…[and] net new additions by renewables are projected to total 48,451 MW (wind - 28,918 MW, solar - 17,532 MW, hydropower - 1,404 MW, biomass - 317 MW, and geothermal - 280 MW)…If FERC's data prove to be accurate, renewable energy sources will provide nearly one-quarter (i.e., 24.96%) of the nation's total available installed generating capacity by September 2022 (compared to 21.78% today) with wind alone accounting for over a tenth (10.45%) and utility-scale solar at 4.64%. The balance will be provided by hydropower (8.23%), biomass (1.31%), and geothermal (0.33%)…” click here for more
Performance-based regulation: Seeking the new utility business model; As the push to upend traditional utility business models grows across the country, new leading efforts are showing results where others missed the mark.
Herman K. Trabish, July 23, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The effort is rising in jurisdictions across the countries to reward utilities for doing what policymakers want done.
There is accelerating work to transform the utility business model through performance-based regulation (PBR).
Traditionally, utilities earn profits through regulator-approved rate increases that recover investment costs and add a margin of return. Many power sector stakeholders have unfulfilled ambitions to instead reward utilities for providing value to customers, for example through integrating more renewable resources and energy efficiency.
Setting multi-year rate plans with incremental rate increases in order to contain costs is "one of the two main components of PBR," Synapse Energy Economics Principal Associate Melissa Whited, who co-authored a 2015 PBR handbook, told Utility Dive. "Performance incentive mechanisms are traditionally, but not necessarily, a second component."
PBR is necessary to replace the traditional utility business model to one that serves policy goals and customer demand, advocates told Utility Dive. But instead of replacing the business model, leading PBR efforts are using regulatory proceedings to layer components of PBR for a more incremental, but nevertheless substantial, shift in objectives… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
China 2050: A Fully Developed Rich Zero-Carbon Economy
November 2019 (Energy Transitions Commission and Rocky Mountain Institute)
China 2050: A Fully Developed Rich ZeroCarbon Economy
Global climate change threatens major harm to human society across the world. A November 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argued that to avoid extreme harm, the world must limit global warming to less than 1.5°C1 . But this is only possible if the whole world achieves net zero greenhouse gas emissions by around mid-century.
The good news, as the global Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has described in two reports— Better Energy, Greater Prosperity (2017) and Mission Possible (2018)—is that the technologies exist to make this objective attainable, and at a very small cost to economic growth and consumer living standards. This is true even for “harder-to-abate” sectors of the economy— heavy industry and heavy-duty/long-distance transport— which could be decarbonized at a cost to the economy of less than 0.6% of GDP, and with only a minor impact on consumer prices.
China’s welfare is threatened by climate change as much as other nations. And China’s energy-intensive development mode for decades has made it a major emitter of greenhouse gases. In per capita terms, China’s emissions are in line with the rich developed economies of Europe, although only 45% of the United States’ extremely high level. But China’s sheer scale makes it in absolute terms the world’s largest emitter, with 9.8 gigatonnes of CO2 per annum accounting for 28% of the global total. For the whole world and for China itself, it is therefore vital that China has a strategy to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.
This report shows that it is technically and economically feasible to achieve that objective, that the investment required can easily be affordable given China’s high savings and investment rate, and that the impact on China’s GDP per capita in 2050 will be minimal. Far from constraining China’s ability to meet its objective of being “a fully developed rich economy” by 2050, committing to achieve zero emissions by 2050 will spur investment and innovation that could accelerate progress. It will also deliver large improvements in local air quality and create huge opportunities for Chinese technological leadership in multiple industries.
To achieve net zero emissions will require the total decarbonization of electricity generation and the massive expansion of electricity use, electrifying as much of the economy as possible. It will also require an over threefold increase in the production and use of hydrogen, together with important but more limited roles for increased bioenergy production and for carbon capture and either storage or use. China’s natural resources, technological prowess, and savings and investment rates make it possible for these different technologies to deliver a zero-carbon economy, even while China enjoys rapid growth of energy-based services such as transport and residential heating and cooling.
Key sectoral actions to achieve a zero-carbon economy include:
•Total electrification of surface transport (road and rail services) while supporting a threefold increase in transport use. Within light duty sectors (autos and vans), electric vehicles (EVs) will soon be economically superior to internal combustion engines, whereas hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) likely will eventually dominate heavy-duty road transport. China’s huge highspeed rail network and its extensive subway systems will help to somewhat constrain the growth of road traffic and significantly constrain domestic aviation. All rail travel should be electrified well before 2050. Electrification in these surface transport sectors will result in a decline in final energy demand due to the inherently higher energy efficiency of electric versus internal combustion engines. And decarbonization in these sectors will increase rather than decrease attainable GDP per capita, due to EVs’ inherent longterm cost advantage.
•The use of biofuels, synthetic fuels, hydrogen, or ammonia to drive decarbonization of long-distance international aviation and shipping, combined with the use of battery electric hydrogen and hybrid options over short distances. These fuels likely will be more expensive than existing fossil fuels, implying somewhat higher international freight rates and airline tickets. However, technological progress and economies of scale could drive substantial cost reductions over time.
•A shift toward a more circular economy, with far more efficient use and greater recycling of key materials such as steel, cement, fertilizers, and plastics. Total needs for primary steel and cement production to support construction will inevitably fall as China’s population stabilizes and then falls, and as urbanization reaches completion. As a result, steel production from recycled scrap steel would take up 60% of total production compared to its share of less than 10% today. In cement, recycling opportunities are more limited, but improved building design and material quality could reduce total demand by nearly 50% compared with the business-as-usual (BAU) level. Demand for fertilizers could be cut by one-third through much higher but feasible fertilizer use efficiency. And 52% of China’s plastics use could come from recycled plastic, with extensive development of both mechanical and chemical recycling.
•The use of electrification, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and bioenergy to achieve full decarbonization of heavy industries such as steel, cement, and chemicals (ammonia, methanol, and highvalue chemicals [HVCs]). Direct electrification would be most applicable for industrial processes with a low to medium temperature requirement, while hydrogen and bioenergy can be used to meet intense heat demands. Hydrogen would also be used as a reduction agent for steel and as a feedstock in chemicals production. Biomass could be another important feedstock for chemicals. CCS would play a role in dealing with industrial process emissions and those from remaining fossil fuel use.
•The wider deployment of advanced heat pump technologies plus state-of-the-art building insulation to deliver heating and cooling to houses and offices in a zero-carbon fashion, with long-distance industrial waste heat transportation and biomass also playing a role in specific circumstances. By 2050, energy efficiency in China’s building sector would be significantly improved to ensure economical and effective use of energy in the face of a growing service level, and by then 75% of building heating and cooling would be delivered by electricity. Electrification combined with heat pumps would in turn reduce the final energy demand, given the inherent efficiency benefits of heat pumps, which even today can deliver 4 kWh of heat for each kilowatt-hour of input electricity, with further significant improvement in this “coefficient of performance” likely to be achieved over time.
The combination of reduced demand for steel and cement, more circular use of all materials—including, in particular, plastics—and the inherent energy efficiency advantages achieved by the electrification of both surface transport and building heating will enable China to enjoy a GDP per capita and standard of living of three times the current levels while reducing final energy demand from 88 EJ today (24,000 terawatt-hours [TWh]) to 64 EJ (17,800 TWh) in 2050. Within this, the industry would experience the most significant reduction (minus 30%) but would continue to account for 60% of final energy demand in 2050 (see Exhibit A).
This energy demand could be met in a zero-carbon fashion through the use of four technologies: electricity, which can be made zero carbon if it derives from renewable or nuclear sources; hydrogen, which can be produced in zero-carbon fashion via electrolysis using zero-carbon electricity, and which can also be used in the form of ammonia; bioenergy, which can be used as zero-carbon fuel and feedstock; and the continued use of some fossil fuels, if combined with carbon capture and either storage or use. Exhibit B sets out the different energy mixes that could be used in each sector of the economy in 2050.
Electricity will play the most important role, either used directly or to produce hydrogen, ammonia, or other synthetic fuels. In aggregate, achieving a zerocarbon economy will require an increase in electricity generation from today’s 7,000 TWh to something around 15,000 TWh in 2050 (see Exhibit C). In addition, hydrogen use will need to rise from today’s 25 million tonnes per annum to more than 81 million tonnes. Making this electricity in a zero-carbon fashion could be achieved with 2,500 GW of solar capacity, 2,400 GW of wind, 230 GW of nuclear, and 550 GW of hydro power. This is technically feasible given China’s wind, solar, and hydro resources and the number of coastal sites already identified as suitable for nuclear power plants.
While places with rich solar resources cover two-thirds of its total land area, China would need to devote less than 1% of its land mass to deliver the 2,500 GW of solar energy required within the total mix, and China’s estimated wind capacity resources, at 3,400 GW onshore plus 500 GW offshore, exceed the required amount.
Building the required capacity will require a dramatic increase in the annual pace of investment (twice today’s rate for solar and three to four times for wind) but the financial cost of this investment would still be less than 0.4% of China’s GDP. This is clearly economically feasible in an economy currently investing over 40% of GDP, some of which is wasted on excessive investments in unoccupied real estate, and which will face declining real estate and non-energy infrastructure investment needs as the population stabilizes and urbanization reaches completion.
As Exhibit C shows, the resulting electricity system would derive over 75% of its electricity from wind and solar resources, which vary with weather conditions. But a portfolio of grid flexibility and storage options will make it possible to balance supply and demand. A total of 142 GW of pumped hydro storage (PHS) could provide longer duration seasonal backup. Battery storage could grow from today’s trivial levels to reach 510 GW in 2050, with costs likely to fall dramatically over time. Production of hydrogen from excess electricity could serve as an effective demand response mechanism, with at least 100 GW of capacity in place. Various categories of demand response—in both the industrial and residential sectors—could play a major role provided that appropriate software systems and market incentives are in place. Thermal plants, powered either by biomass or by fossil fuels with carbon capture applied, will play a limited but still vital role, providing short-term backup while running only a small number of hours per annum.
In addition to electricity and hydrogen, achieving a zerocarbon economy will require the production of about 13 EJ per annum of bioenergy, compared with only 1 EJ today. Achieving this bioenergy supply in a sustainable fashion will prove a major challenge, but in principle China could develop sustainable bioenergy on the scale of 12 EJ to 25 EJ. Given its limited bioenergy resource, China would need to prioritize its use on those sectors where alternative decarbonization options are not available. Aviation is likely a priority sector; trucking is not.
There would also be a limited but still vital need to apply carbon capture to several industrial processes, with the CO2 either utilized in applications that achieve permanent sequestration (such as new forms of concrete curing) or transported and stored. China’s geological capacity for CO2 storage far exceeds the 1 gigatonne per annum which will be required, and there is sufficient matching between the location of carbon emissions and the location of storage to minimize the requirement for very long distance (greater than 250 km) transport of CO2.
Given both the reduced final energy demand described in Exhibit A and the switch to the zero-carbon energy mix shown in Exhibits B and C, total primary energy demand could fall by 45% from 132 EJ today to 73 EJ in 2050. This larger fall in primary energy demand than in final energy demand (minus 30%) largely reflects the elimination of the energy losses involved in today’s thermal electricity production system. Within this reduced total, there would be a dramatic change in the sources of energy, with fossil fuel demand falling over 90% while non-fossil energy would expand by 3.4 times (see Exhibit D).
The precise balance between different decarbonization routes and energy supply options will need to reflect evolving technological possibilities and economic developments over time. But the scenario presented here shows that it is possible to achieve zero emissions at a very small cost, with the impact on China’s GDP per capita and living standards in 2050 unlikely to exceed 1%.
This cost could indeed be lower still, or even negative, if the very fact of committing to a zero-emissions target induced technological advances and cost reductions not assumed in our calculations.
But this feasible path to a zero-carbon economy will not be achieved without clear targets and forceful public policies. Setting a clear national objective to reach zero emissions by 2050 is essential to provide a framework within which state-owned and private enterprises can make the investments required. But this long-term objective must be supported by short-term targets and investment plans—such as those set out in China’s forthcoming 14th Five Year Plan—and by strong policies. These should include:
•Clear policies to support increased investment in zero-carbon electricity system, including generation, transmission, distribution and energy storage systems;
•A national carbon price system to drive decarbonization across the whole economy and particularly in heavy industry;
•Strong regulations to drive the electrification of surface transport and building heating, and to ensure ever improving standards of building insulation;
•Regulations and incentives to support an increasingly circular economy of materials recycling and reuse, particularly in the plastics sector;
•And public support for the development and early deployment of the new technologies required to build a zero-carbon economy;
China’s political and economic system, which combines market incentives with strong state ability to define longterm objectives and support long-term investments, makes it well placed to put these policies in place, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and to gain the economic and environmental advantages which would result.
A Climate Crisis Refugee Every 2 Seconds Climate change is forcing one person from their home every two seconds, Oxfam says
Jack Guy, December 2, 2019 (CNN)
“Climate-fueled disasters have forced about 20 million people a year to leave their homes in the past decade -- equivalent to one every two seconds -- according to a new report from Oxfam…This makes the climate the biggest driver of internal displacement for the period, with the world's poorer countries at the highest risk, despite their smaller contributions to global carbon pollution compared to richer nations…People are seven times more likely to be internally displaced by floods, cyclones and wildfires than volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and three times more likely than by conflict…
Low- and lower-middle income nations, such as India, are more than four times more likely to be affected by climate-fueled displacement than high-income countries like Spain and the US…[About 80% of those displaced live in Asia…[Small island developing states (SIDS), such as Cuba, Dominica and Tuvalu, are] seven of the top 10 countries with the highest rates of displacement from extreme weather disasters between 2008 and 2018…People living in SIDs are 150 times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather disasters than those living in Europe…” click here for more
New Energy Crossing Over Solar, wind and hydro power could soon surpass coal
Matt Egan, November 26, 2019 (CNN)
“…Solar and wind power are growing so rapidly that for the first time ever, the United States will likely get more power in 2021 from renewable energy than from coal…Coal provided about half of America's power generation between 2000 and 2010. However, coal usage started to fall sharply late in the last decade because of the abundance of cheap natural gas. Coal was dethroned by natural gas in 2016…Despite President Donald Trump's promise to save coal, the industry's decline has only continued. This was underlined by last month's bankruptcy of Murray Energy, America's largest private coal mining company...
US power plants are expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since 1978…That will cause coal's market share to drop below 22%, compared with 28% in 2018… Global electricity production from coal is on track to fall by a record 3% in 2019…[It is] driven by record declines from Germany and South Korea as well as the first dip in India in at least three decades…If the crossover doesn't occur in 2021, it will without a doubt do so by 2022…This transition has already played out in Texas…During the first half of this year, wind power surpassed coal for the first time…Wind made up just 0.8% of the Lone Star State's power as of 2003. That figure has climbed to 22%, compared with 21% for coal…” click here for more
Impact of Wind, Solar, and Other Factors on Wholesale Power Prices; An Historical Analysis—2008 through 2017
Andrew D. Mills, Dev Millstein, Ryan Wiser, Joachim Seel, Juan Pablo Carvallo, Seongeun Jeong, Will Gorman, November 2019 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Wholesale power markets in the United States have evolved over time. Some of the more notable changes over the last decade include growth in wind and solar, a steep reduction in the price of natural gas, limited growth in electrical load, and an increase in the retirement of thermal power plants. This report assesses the impact of these changes on wholesale electricity prices using two approaches. First, a supply curve model is used to quantify impacts to annual average wholesale prices at each centrally organized wholesale power market between 2008 and 2017. Second, hourly wholesale prices at all of the more than 60,000 pricing nodes are used to highlight the impacts of wind, solar, and other factors on trends in geographic and temporal pricing patterns.
In most markets, growth in wind and solar reduced average wholesale prices by less than $1.3/MWh. California is an exception, where growth in solar reduced prices by $2.2/MWh—perhaps foreshadowing greater impacts from solar in other regions as solar penetrations grow. Falling natural gas prices over this same period were the dominant driver of average market-wide wholesale prices, reducing average annual wholesale prices by $7–$53/MWh. The impact of wind and solar was secondary compared to the impact of natural gas, but among the biggest drivers in a second tier of factors with similar magnitudes, Figure ES-1. The second tier includes expansion and retirement of thermal generation, changes in demand, generator efficiency, coal prices, variations in hydropower, and emissions prices.
Beyond the impacts to market-wide average annual wholesale prices, growth in wind and solar had a more consequential impact on prices in some locations and in altering how prices change based on the hour of the day and season. Specifically, growth in wind and solar impacted time-of-day and seasonal pricing patterns, growth in the frequency of negative prices was correlated geographically with deployment of wind and solar (Figure ES-2), and negative prices in high-wind and high-solar regions occurred most frequently in hours with high wind and solar output.
Despite the recent increase in frequency of negative prices, annual average prices at most locations have not been heavily impacted by these negative-price hours because negative prices were mostly small in magnitude. However, some regions have seen significant declines in annual average prices owing to negative hourly prices, specifically parts of the Midwest in the Southwest Power Pool, California, and northern areas of New York, New Hampshire, and Maine.
The regional clustering of negative prices means that not all generation has been equally impacted. In 2017, negative prices decreased the average annual real-time energy price at nodes near wind plants by about 6%, at nodes near solar plants by about 3%, and nodes near hydropower plants by about 3%. Pricing nodes near coal, gas, and nuclear plants saw a smaller reduction of about 1.5%, though those (modest) impacts have slightly increased over time.
Numerous factors beyond wind and solar influence local pricing patterns. Attempts to assess the impacts of wind and solar must carefully consider the full regional context.
Centrally organized wholesale power markets in the United States have evolved over time. Some of the more notable recent trends include growth in wind and solar, a steep reduction in the price of natural gas, limited growth in electrical load, and an increase in the retirement of thermal power plants. Building on recent related work (Wiser et al. 2017), this report has assessed the degree to which growth in VRE has influenced wholesale power energy prices in the United States, not in isolation but in comparison to other possible drivers and focused on regions of the country that feature ISOs/RTOs.
Across all U.S. ISO/RTO markets, the dominant driver of the decline in average wholesale prices between 2008 and 2017 was the fall in natural gas prices. Even after the shale-gas boom caused a sustained reduction in natural gas prices, variability of natural gas prices continued to be the largest driver of changes in average wholesale prices—albeit sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing prices.
The impacts of wind and solar on market-wide average annual wholesale prices were secondary compared to the impacts of natural gas, but they were among the biggest drivers in a second tier of factors that also included expansion and retirement of other generation capacity, changes in demand, generator efficiency, variations in hydropower, and emissions prices. The impact of wind and solar on average wholesale prices increased with their share of total generation. Building on near-term projections from EIA, the impact of additional wind and solar on average wholesale prices will be similar to the impact of thermal generation additions, except in the case of additional solar in California. The projected doubling of solar in California by 2022 is expected to have substantial impacts on average wholesale prices—perhaps foreshadowing larger impacts in other regions on a longer-term basis as solar penetrations grow. Storage and other forms of flexibility could affect these results, but impact of storage on prices was not to captured in the simple supply-curve model.
Beyond the impacts to market-wide average annual prices, VRE has had a more substantial impact on prices in some locations and in altering the temporal patterns of prices. In particular, VRE impacts timeof-day and seasonal pricing patterns, often depressing prices when VRE supply is high but, in some cases, inflating prices at other times.
The analysis demonstrates that the frequency of negative prices is correlated geographically with VRE deployment, and that negative prices in high-VRE regions occur most frequently in those hours with high VRE output. Despite the recent increase in frequency of negative prices, annual average LMPs at most locations have not been heavily impacted by these negative-price hours (i.e., negative prices were mostly small in magnitude). However, some regions have seen significant declines in annual average LMPs owing to negative hourly prices, specifically regions in SPP, regions in CAISO, and northern areas of New York, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Along with the limited regional impacts of negative prices, negative prices reduced the prices near wind, solar, and hydropower generators significantly more than near natural gas, nuclear, and coal generators.
Finally, through a series of in-depth regional analyses, this analysis shows how numerous factors beyond VRE have interacted with VRE to influence local pricing patterns. For example, given the backdrop of expanding VRE, annual changes in hydropower output drove negative pricing events in the Northwest; nuclear retirements, changes in load, and solar expansion led to markedly different diurnal patterns of pricing in California; and the expansion of transmission reduced negative-price hours near wind in Texas and near nuclear in Illinois. The conclusion to draw from all of this is that, while expansion of wind and solar is leading to significant changes in pricing patterns in some regions (by reducing prices, increasing the frequency of negative-price hours, and changing the diurnal patterns of pricing), other factors are also influencing pricing patterns, and attempts to assess the impacts of VRE must carefully consider the full regional context.
A number of important additional areas of research are not covered in this analysis.
• VRE and other factors are likely to impact other grid services priced in wholesale markets, including capacity and ancillary services. Similar to wholesale energy prices, the price of these services varies by region and has changed over time. While the analysis presented in this paper focuses exclusively on energy prices, additional assessments might usefully also address capacity and ancillary service markets, including uplift payments associated with generation that is directed by system operators to operate in ways that differ from their schedule.
• Price changes have differential impacts on the revenue earned by different resources depending on whether the resource operates at a near-constant output irrespective of grid conditions (e.g., nuclear), the resource flexibly responds to changing grid conditions as signaled by changing prices (e.g., combustion turbines), or the resource dispatch is variable and largely driven by weather (e.g., wind and solar). Future research might therefore explore the implications of price changes on the net revenue of different generation assets, depending on their typical dispatch patterns.
• Storage and flexible demand can mitigate some of the price variability associated with growing shares of VRE. While storage was not accounted for in the simple supply-curve model, other approaches are available to integrate storage and other more-complicated features of electricity markets into fundamental models of wholesale prices. Incorporating storage into the analysis appears to be particularly important for assessing near-future wholesale prices in the solar-dominated California market.
• Exploring longer-term power-sector transformation scenarios and related impacts on pricing and market design will require more sophisticated tools than employed in the present paper. Use of such tools can enable a more thorough investigation of future temporal and geographic pricing patterns under a range of future assumptions and conditions. Of particular interest for an investigation with such tools will be the impact of VRE on price volatility and the subsequent impact on revenues of flexible resources.
U.N. Forecasts 3.2°C Long Term Rise Cut global emissions by 7.6 percent every year for next decade to meet 1.5°C Paris target - UN report
November 26, 2019 (United Nations Environment Program)
“…Unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement…[Under] all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C [by 2100], bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts…[According to the United Nations Environment Program’s annual Emissions Gap Report, collective] ambition must increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade for the 1.5°C goal…
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that going beyond 1.5°C will increase the frequency and intensity of climate impacts…G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but only five G20 members have committed to a long-term zero emissions target…[All nations must substantially increase ambition] in 2020 and follow up with policies and strategies to implement them…The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 per cent per year over the last decade…[Cuts in emissions of 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 are needed] to meet the 1.5°C goal and 2.7 per cent per year for the 2°C goal…” click here for more
Battery Cost Drop Opens New Energy Era Battery Storage Costs Drop Dramatically, Making Way to a New Era; A recent report continues to confirm that clean electrification through batteries is advancing at impressive rates.
Fabienne Lang, November 26, 2019 (Interesting Engineering)
“Clean electrification of transport vehicles is advancing at impressive, and rapid, rates…[E]xploding investment in battery technologies is revolutionizing the sector much faster than expected and setting in motion a seismic shift in how we will power our lives and organize energy systems as early as 2030…[Based on data from the U.S., the E.U., China, and India, a new report found] the more than $1.4 billion invested in battery technologies in the first half of 2019 alone, massive investments in battery manufacturing and steady advances in technology have set in motion a seismic shift in how we will organize energy systems as early as 2030…
[It] will, by 2021,] push solar and wind power forward, and cut back the use of fossil fuels more quickly…[The three main takeaway points from the RMI report are that battery] cost and performance improvements are quickly outpacing forecasts…These improvements spell trouble for natural gas and internal combustion engine vehicle markets…Lithium-ion, while still the leading batter technology, is likely not the universal solution of future energy storage technologies…” click here for more
The key number: How big New Energy is in a country’s power mix. From CNBC International via YouTube
Wind is the cheapest new electrical generation, solar is coming closer all the time and natgas is fading. From greenmanbucket via YouTube
This technology is a long way from the market but it is rechargeable and offers a 7 times higher level of energy density. From ColdFusion via YouTube