Trump Truth And Climate Change
This brilliant diatribe on truth, political truth, and Trump talk has an important take on climate change at about 4:35 From Comedy Central
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, December 3-4:
This brilliant diatribe on truth, political truth, and Trump talk has an important take on climate change at about 4:35 From Comedy Central
Trevor Noah has been spot on the mark lately. Here he takes on the hypocrisies around the Dakota Access pipeline protests. From Comedy Central
One of the leading U.S. climate scientists explains what the climate’s impacts on polar bears really means. From Global Weirding with Katherine Hayhoe via YouTube
Farmer survey reveals concern, shifting attitudes on climate change
Anna Vidot, November 28, 2016 (Rural)
“…Of 1,300 primary producers, from a wide range of [Australian industries and states who responded to a Farmers for Climate Action survey, 80%] wanted politicians to do more about climate change, including renewed and secure public investment in research, development and extension programs, to help farmers adapt to a more volatile climate…The same number of farmers wanted their agriculture sector representatives to do more to advocate for stronger action…[About 60%] of farmers believed in climate change. But even more respondents said they were concerned about changing conditions they had observed on their properties, even though they were not prepared to call that ‘climate change’…” click here for more
We Already Have A Solution To Climate Change, And It Doesn't Rely On The Government
Paul Mainwood, December 1, 2016 (Quora via Forbes)
“…[Asolution to climate change that doesn’t rely on government] comes in three parts…Solar PV generation so cheap that it beats any other energy generation option on levelized cost…A cost-effective energy storage solution to solve short-term intermittency (hours and days): i.e., cloudy days, nighttime…[and] A cost-effective energy storage solution to solve long-term intermittency (weeks and months) i.e., winter…None of these require the government to intervene. All we need is existing technology, market forces, and time. Our hope is that the time we need isn’t long enough for us to cook the planet with fossil fuels…Solar PV will beat any other power generation method on [unsubsidized] cost by 2030… PV at scale is [already cheaper than fossil fuels (and even for residential/commercial it’s comparable with grid costs)… There are many options for short-term energy storage…[and] we already have all the infrastructure to store a lot of energy [long term]…” click here for more
We Already Have A Solution To Climate Change, And It Doesn't Rely On The Government
Paul Mainwood, December 1, 2016 (Quora via Forbes)
“…The learning curve cutting solar costs] has been named Swanson’s Law and] with every doubling of solar installation, we get a price reduction per watt of approximately 20%...[V]olumes are doubling: every 2.2 years, give or take…A 20% cost-learning factor, with 2.2 year doubling time has such a powerful effect on prices that it’s hard for humans to grasp. If it continues, then by 2030, solar PV will be around a third of the cost it is today. There will be nothing to compete with solar PV in almost any country in the world…[and] PV solar even at its current efficiency levels is easily capable of supplying the world’s long-term energy demands (best-guess, around 30TW) and can do so using less than 1% of the land area we have available…[Short-term energy storage can come from, including compressed air, flow batteries, pumped hydro, and even esoteric technologies like super-capacitors. But the most likely storage option in the near term is good old lithium-based batteries…When you have a massive surplus of PV power (summer), you run electrolyzers to produce hydrogen from water…[The Sabatier reaction] combines hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make natural gas…[which we already store cost-effectively]…” click here for more
Reconciling solar energy and heritage preservation
November 29, 2016 (PhysOrg)
"…[Researchers just received the Innovator of the Year award in Sweden for] a method to assess the aesthetic impact of solar panels on buildings and to set objective criteria for where they should be placed. Some municipal governments could apply this method as early as next year…[Inelegant solar installations turn away potential solar users. If done properly, however, they can further spur growth. The method] allows the authorities to take local architectural constraints, such as historical districts, into account when analyzing where to install solar panels on existing buildings…[It] should ultimately help reconcile heritage advocates and renewable energy supporters…[The method is called LESO-QSV (Quality-Site-Visibility) and] is based on the new concept of ‘architectural criticity’ in urban areas…[The] acceptability of solar panels is assessed against the sensitivity of the site and the visibility of the panels from the public space…The higher the degree of ‘criticity’ – such as the facade of a highly visible historical building – the more emphasis will be placed on harmoniously integrating the solar panels. On the other hand, a flat roof on a factory in an industrial zone will be given a much lower ‘criticity’ rating, and, consequently, be subject to lower integration standards…” click here for more
Ivanka Trump, climate czar? The first daughter aims to use the first lady’s lectern to champion liberal causes
Annie Karni, December 1, 2016 (Politico)
“…[Ivanka Trump, 35, President-elect] Trump’s avatar among the moneyed left-wing elite, is now poised to be the first ‘first daughter’ in modern history to play a larger public role than the first lady. And she’s positioning herself…as a bridge to moderates and liberals disgusted and depressed with the tone and tenor of the new leader of the free world…[The ambitious daughter] wants to make climate change — which her father has called a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese — one of her signature issues, a source close to her told Politico. The source said Ivanka is in the early stages of exploring how to use her spotlight to speak out on the issue…[H]er advocacy could come as a bit of solace to…[those who] fear that Trump will dismantle the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies…Advocating opposition to CO2 emissions and fossil fuels will inevitably create another warring sphere of influence in Trump’s orbit: Incoming Chief of staff Reince Priebus has clarified in recent days that [the President-elect thinks climate change is largely] bunk…” click here for more
Producing Wind Energy In The Ocean, No Turbines In Sight; President Trump hates offshore wind turbines. Maybe he'll like Accio's innovative new way to generate energy from ocean winds.
Ben Schiller, November 29, 2016 (Co-Exist)
“…In the open ocean, Accio Energy summons something almost as powerful as one of [the Harry Potter spell it is named after]: the physics of a thunderstorm…[The startup] is testing a wind energy technology that looks nothing like a turbine. It's a permeable mast or panel that uses water droplets and the wind to create a direct electric current. The panels emit a fine positively charged mist. Then, when wind blows through, it separates negative from positive charges, sending electrons down a high voltage cable to the coastline…The technical name for this process is ElectroHydroDynamics (EHD)…[Just awarded a DOE $5 million grant, the] company hopes to have a fully functioning prototype within a year or two…Offshore wind turbines can stand as high as 700 feet and are difficult to transport and fix into the ocean bed…EHD panels, when built, will fit onto any 18-wheel flatbed truck, and can be put in place with conventional ships. Moreover, the EHD structure will float, meaning it can be placed in more locations than a fixed turbine…” click here for more
TOP PLANT: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Tonopah, Nevada
Thomas W. Overton, December 1, 2016 (Power Magazine)
“…[Nevada’s Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built by SolarReserve] shares a lot of similarities with other solar-tower CSP plants…Just over 10,000 billboard-sized heliostats, each about 1,200 square feet, focus sunlight on a central receiver at the top of a 640-foot tower. The plant uses the heat collected to generate steam and drive a turbine generator…What sets [the 110 MW] Crescent Dunes apart from its predecessors is that it incorporates 10 hours of full-power thermal energy storage…[A] molten salt system circulates the salt from a cold tank, through the solar tower, where it’s heated from 550F to 1,050F…[and sent] through a turbine-generator, then to an air-cooled condenser…The plant sells its power to Nevada utility NV Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Since reaching commercial operations in November 2015, Crescent Dunes has…quietly exceeded its obligations, delivering 105% of contracted output. The molten salt receiver has achieved 100% availability through 2016, and performance data show that it’s operating 2% above its expected efficiency…” click here for more
Will Trump Policies Kill The Electric Car?
Phil Covington, December 1, 2016 (Triple Pundit)
“…[As widely reported, the Trump administration] energy policy could likely hobble American clean-energy initiatives…[Risks to EVs include cheap gasoline, the] removal of the $7,500 federal tax credit consumers enjoy when they buy or lease…[and the reduction of the U.S. fuel economy standards from] a fleet-average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025…On the other hand, several factors bode well for the future of EVs...Global environmental policy is on the side of electric vehicles…For example, China will act out of self interest…[to cut the air pollution that takes] 1.6 million lives a year…In Europe, too, the tide is moving toward electrics…[ EVs have also] reached some cost and battery] performance milestones that further assure their long-term future...All things considered, momentum seems to be with electric vehicles…This has always been a long game…” click here for more
Charts: How will the Clean Power Plan stay affect the utility power mix transition?; Utilities will keep adding renewables and natural gas, but the CPP could still have a big effect on how much
Herman K. Trabish, March 8, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: So much has changed since this story ran that it might now be thought of as a eulogy for the Clean Power Plan, may it rest in peace.
Despite the recent legal roadblock from the nation’s top court to the Obama administration plan to regulate climate change-inducing pollution, executives from one end of the utility industry to the other say they don’t see their plans changing much. A survey of more than 500 utility executives conducted by Utility Dive in early 2016 showed that a large majority supported the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions 32% by 2030, and a significant portion wanted to see it strengthened. Add that to a recent report from the Rhodium Group showing that the extension of key tax credits for renewable energy in 2015 will fuel strong growth for wind and solar despite the plan's judicial difficulties, and it appears the U.S. power mix will continue getting cleaner. But while the general trajectory of the power sector appears set, analysts say the Clean Power Plan would have had a significant impact on how the transition unfolds.
President Obama has long been dedicated to cutting U.S. emissions by driving a transition to cleaner utility power mix with more emphasis on renewables, natural gas and other low-carbon technologies. His administration spent its first two years trying to pass an energy bill with a cap and trade plan. But it was blocked in Congress, so the EPA issued the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Opponents sued the EPA, claiming the plan overstepped limits set by the Clean Air Act. Yet utility industry plans have not changed significantly. Industry executives have been planning for a power mix shift for some time, according to Utility Dive’s State of the Electric Utility 2016 survey. Collectively, 72% see natural gas moderately or significantly increasing in their power mixes over the next 20 years, 77% see wind doing so, and 91% see utility-scale solar doing so… click here for more
Learning by doing: How utilities are answering the distributed energy resources challenge; Utilities are beginning to understand how to make money with DERs, but it's still a work in progress
Herman K. Trabish, March 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the effort by utilities and consumers to seize the DER opportunity has accelerated.
In the most recent Utility Dive State of the Electric Utility survey, 60% of utility professionals surveyed said their utilities should partner with third party vendors to deploy DERs, up from 56% the previous year. But nearly the same amount (59%) said they thought their utility should own and operate DERs, rate-basing their investments in the technologies. These two seemingly contradictory strategies being explored by utilities suggests they are still considering options for DER-centric business models and may even be pursuing multiple opportunities. As utilities across the nation move toward a less centralized power system, many of them are learning about how to operate and deploy distributed resources through rate-based pilots, which may help explain the popularity of the utility ownership option for DERs.
As utility leaders mull how to enter the DER market themselves, they are also considering how to respond to the steady proliferation of distributed resources already taking place throughout much of the nation. As consumers increasingly generate and store their own electricity, they pay less to the utility, decreasing its revenues. The problem is accentuated by the fact that 74% of utility executives’ expect minimum or stagnant load growth in their territories and another 9% expect declining load growth. Only 18% expect the load in their territories to increase. In response, utilities across the nation are moving to change their rate structures so they can better recover costs from customers who install DERs like rooftop solar or residential storage. But many rate structure reforms would effectively impede the DER value proposition and slow progress…The goal should be rate structures with price signals that drive DER owners to deliver power at periods of peak electricity demand so they become grid assets, rate design experts say… click here for more
Can performance-based regulation unlock the utility of the future?; Fewer rate cases and smart performance incentives could drive utilities to innovate, according to a new paper
Herman K. Trabish, March 17, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This type of effort is likely to accelerate during the Trump administration as the energy sector’s attention moves to the state level>
As new energy technologies proliferate and eat into electricity sales, utilities and regulators are searching for a rate design that addresses growing load defection. Regulators are increasingly considering performance-based regulation as the key get more reliance on energy efficiency, peak load management, distributed generation and storage because it is becoming more difficult to make the longstanding cost-of-service regulation work. With cost-of-service regulation, a utility’s revenues come from investment backed by a guaranteed rate of return built into its rates. With this structure, utilities do not get financial incentives to address evolving electric industry challenges such as changing customer demands, growth of distributed energy resources, and changing federal and state policies.
Creative rate alterations, from cost trackers to decoupling, are attempts to remedy this shortcoming. They have been so widely adopted that there is no longer “pure” cost-of-service regulation. Performance-based regulation is a more comprehensive alternative. It is based on strong performance incentives and a pre-set long-term rate escalation. The aim is to change how rates are set to streamline regulatory burdens and allow utilities more flexibility to innovate. When it works, the utility and its customers share benefits. It is not a one-size-fits-all construct and can be applied in different ways… click here for more
Assessing the Future of Distributed Wind: Opportunities for Behind-the-Meter Projects
Eric Lantz, Benjamin Sigrin, Michael Gleason, Robert Preus, and Ian Baring-Gould, November 2106 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the United States. Cumulative installed capacity was more than 74,000 megawatts (MW) at year-end 2015 and wind power supplied 4.7% of total 2015 U.S. electricity generation. Despite the growth of the wind power industry, the distributed wind market has remained limited. Cumulative installations of distributed wind through 2015 totaled 934 MW. This first-of-a-kind exploratory analysis characterizes the future opportunity for behind-the-meter distributed wind, serving primarily rural or suburban homes, farms, and manufacturing facilities.
This work focuses only on the grid-connected, behind-the-meter subset of the broader distributed wind market.1 We estimate this segment to be approximately half of the 934 MW of total installed distributed wind capacity at year-end 2015. Potential from other distributed wind market segments including systems installed in front of the meter (e.g., community wind) and in remote, off-grid locations is not assessed in this analysis and therefore, would be additive to results presented here. These other distributed wind market segments are not considered in this initial effort because of their relatively unique economic and market attributes.
Opportunities for behind-the-meter distributed wind are considered from three perspectives: addressable resource potential, economic potential, and market potential. The first of these perspectives is intended to frame the overall scale of the opportunity2 ; the second quantifies the potential capacity of systems that could generate a positive net present value (NPV) at a specific point in time; the third considers economics as well as consumer adoption behaviors to estimate potential deployment levels for the specific conditions assessed.
For addressable resource potential, we identify a single estimate for all theoretical behind-themeter distributed wind applications. We use scenarios or an array of future conditions to more fully explore economic and market potential. Variables in our scenarios include capital and operation and maintenance costs, technology performance, the value of distributed generation, system financing and leasing costs, consumer adoption rates, and siting criteria. More details on the scenario framework including the Combined scenarios as well as explicit Low, Reference, High, and Breakthrough values are provided in Section 1.1.
Consistent with prior distributed generation analyses conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and as a first assessment of the opportunity for behind-the-meter distributed wind, this work does not consider potential competition from alternative distributed-generation sources such as rooftop solar photovoltaics, assumes federal and state tax incentives and renewable portfolio standards as legislated, and may not capture all costs of integration into the distribution network. Also, consistent with prior work, net metering and siting setbacks are varied within the range of existing policies today.
Total Addressable Resource
The addressable resource potential of distributed wind is large, potentially supporting millions of systems and thousands of gigawatts (GW) of power production capacity. We define addressable resource potential as the maximum amount of wind resource in the continental United States that could be sited proximal to electricity demand and constrained by key siting considerations in those areas (see Section 3). As currently estimated, the addressable resource for distributed wind does not account for potential alternative uses of developable land by other power generation technologies, including multimegawatt utility-scale wind facilities.
In aggregate terms, the addressable resource potential for distributed wind exceeds the total U.S. electricity demand. Submegawatt-scale (<1,000 kilowatts [kW]) distributed wind turbines could provide up to approximately 3.0 terawatts (TW) of capacity, and with current wind turbine performance levels could produce 4,400 terawatt-hours (TWh) of annual energy generation. The Energy Information Administration reported the total U.S. electricity demand in 2015 to be 3,700 TWh. Megawatt-scale turbines, which can serve behind-the-meter loads for large commercial or industrial users, could provide an additional 5.1 TW of capacity and 14,000 TWh of annual energy generation.
Focusing on sites that can generate a positive net present value under Reference scenario conditions,3 42 GW of capacity is estimated to be economically viable in 2020; this quantity decreases to 19 GW in 2030 and settles at 37 GW by 2050 (Figure ES-1). These estimates limit site-specific potential to quantities required to serve on-site load, but may include turbines of any size depending on the load to be served; relevant financial characteristics are also considered. Estimates are annual and reflect several time-varying trends—the most important of which is that the production tax credit and associated investment tax credit options are not extended. These tax credit expirations drive the decline in observed potential between 2020 and 2030. Additional important factors are technology-cost reductions and the evolution of the netmetering policy, which is assumed to expire as anticipated in current statutes.
Considering more favorable (for distributed wind) technology, finance, and retail electricity rate conditions associated with the Combined High scenario inputs,4 the 2030 and 2050 annual outlooks for economic viability are improved for residential, commercial, and midsize turbine classes (Figure ES-1). In this scenario, an estimated 48 GW of capacity could be economically viable in 2030, with more than 85 GW in 2050. Under these more favorable economic conditions, factors beyond direct costs including consumer adoption, access to finance, siting policy, and competition from alternative distributed-generation sources are anticipated to become increasingly significant in determining market potential.
Although these estimates suggest conditions under which large quantities of distributed wind could become economically viable, there are significant uncertainties and anticipated regional variation in key analysis assumptions that may alter the economic landscape for behind-the-meter distributed wind. Economic potential estimates are highly dependent on assumed retail electricity rates, the presence of net energy metering policies, financial incentives, and financing costs. Although highly uncertain and partially captured through the scenario framework applied here, these factors are likely to vary by state and local jurisdiction.
When considering consumer adoption trends, Reference scenario inputs5 suggest an opportunity for approximately 1.5 GW of cumulative deployed capacity in 2030 and 3.7 GW in 2050 (Figure ES-2). Assuming behind-the-meter applications are approximately half of today’s installed distributed wind capacity (approximately 500 MW), this represents an approximately300% increase in the market by 2030 and a nearly eight-fold increase (three doublings) in cumulative capacity by 2050.
The Combined High scenario6 suggests a multiplicative effect associated with an array of conditions becoming more favorable for behind-the-meter distributed wind, and results in a cumulative market of 3.9 GW in 2030 and nearly 20 GW in 2050 (Figure ES-2). Cumulative capacity in the Combined High scenario reflects a nearly eight-fold increase in the next 14 years—by 2050, installed capacity is increased by a factor of approximately 40, or more than five doublings of cumulative capacity. Despite sizable near-term cost reductions and robust economic potential across turbine classes, consumer adoption rates applied here indicate a relatively limited ability to improve the near-term (2020) outlook for these systems.
This first-of-a-kind assessment suggests that there could be a substantive role in the nation’s electricity future for behind-the-meter distributed wind. Notwithstanding some potential overlap with the multimegawatt-utility-focused wind power resource and the current exclusion of competition from other distributed generation resources, its resource is large, and there are conditions under which the economics for large quantities (tens of gigawatts) become viable over time. To realize the opportunities presented by scenarios that consider relatively favorable conditions for behind-the-meter distributed wind, our analysis suggests that technology cost reduction, including cost reductions in balance of plant and installation, and performance improvements are necessary but not sufficient conditions to foster more robust growth. Finding mechanisms to facilitate and encourage consumer adoption as well as develop new business models that can access low-cost capital, support turnkey solutions, and drive industry-wide efficiencies are also anticipated to be essential components of a vibrant market.
Climate Change Forces Hard Choices In Alaska A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change
Erica Goode, November 29, 2016 (NY Times)
“…With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States and the state is heading for the warmest year on record. The government has identified at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities at imminent risk of destruction…[Some, climate change experts predict, will] be uninhabitable by 2050, their residents joining a flow of climate refugees around the globe, in Bolivia, China, Niger and other countries…These endangered Alaskan communities face a choice. They could move to higher ground, a wrenching prospect that for a small village could cost as much as $200 million. Or they could stand their ground and hope to find money to fortify their buildings and shore up their coastline…[B]oth staying and moving have their perils...The process of relocation can [be disruptive, and] take years or even decades…But few government agencies are willing to invest in maintaining villages that are menaced by erosion and flooding, especially when the communities are planning to pull up stakes…” click here for more
New Energy To Utilities-“Can’t-Beat-Us-So-Join-Us” Utilities Are Losing the Battle Against Solar Energy; Fighting solar energy won't be a path to success for utilities across the country.
Travis Hoium, November 29, 2016 (Motley Fool)
“…[U]tilities are doing everything to kill the [consumer-owned] solar boom [at the regulatory level and in ballot measures] before it gains too much traction…[V]oters have fought back and beaten [many of] the efforts to squash solar energy…[R]esidential solar companies Tesla, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, and SunPower…[are] winning the policy war against utilities, and as they do, it'll open a larger and larger market across the country…Despite utilities' spending $26 million to pass a referendum that would have undermined solar economics in the state, Florida voters rejected the utility referendum…In Nevada, less than a year after the public utility commission essentially killed the rooftop solar industry, residents overwhelmingly voted to [require the Berkshire Hathaway-owned NV Energy to give customers] energy choice…[Attempts in Wisconsin to add fees to utility bills] were rejected by the court…When solar energy goes on the ballot or to the court, it wins. That should have every utility in the country frightened…” click here for more
Fact-Checking Trump Hot Air On Wind Trump's wind power comments fact checked
Ros Davidson, 25 November 2016 (Windpower Monthly)
“…Donald Trump denied to the New York Times on November 22 that he asked leaders of Britain’s movement to exit the EU to work against the installation of wind turbines off the coast of his resort in Scotland…The UK Independence Party (Ukip), prominent in the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union, says Trump urged the party to campaign against the development of wind farms…in the weekend after his election win…[Then Mr. Trump said turbines are not made domestically, steel is emitted into atmosphere during turbine manufacturing, turbines kill massive amounts of birds, and they require large subsidies but]…[few] wind turbines are shipped globally [and more] than 21,000 US factory workers make a majority of US wind farm content…The US wind power supply chain consists of more than 500 active factories in 43 states… [with high domestic content] for nacelle assembly (>85%), towers (80-85%), and blades and hubs (50-70%)…[Steel is not emitted during manufacturing]…Wind turbines kill fewer birds than do cats, buildings or the fossil fuel industry…[and no] major national environmental organisation [opposes well-sited] wind development…” click here for more
Managing variable and distributed energy resources: A new era for the grid
Marlene Motyka and John McCue, November 2016 (Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions)
The ongoing electric power industry transformation has ushered in a wave of variable and distributed energy resources on electric grids across the US and globally. Wind and solar installed capacity soared 85 and 1,169 percent, respectively, in the US from 2010 to 2015.1 And now resources such as battery storage, home energy management systems, and electric vehicles appear poised for strong growth. Forces propelling the overall power industry transformation seem to be some of the same ones prompting this flood of new resources— the drive to reduce carbon emissions from the power supply; to deploy rapidly improving technologies as they travel down the cost curve; and, to respond to changing customer needs and expectations.
US deployment of variable and distributed energy resources accelerated from 2008-2015, with a surge of utility-scale wind power in wind-rich areas such as the Midcontinent. It then gathered momentum with grid-scale solar plants in the West and Southwest, and it is now spreading swiftly down the electric power value chain, as grids in many regions become increasingly decentralized and host a growing number and variety of distributed energy resources (DER).2 Wind and solar power are variable energy resources (VER), labelled “non-dispatchable” since their output is dependent on weather conditions. While they bring many benefits, integration of these resources can be challenging for grid operators, who must ensure generation and load remain in constant balance and power quality is not compromised. Fortunately, there is a large and growing toolbox of solutions to manage wind and solar variability, including the increasingly promising potential of dispatchable DER, such as energy storage, demand response, and (non-variable) distributed generation sources like fuel cells, natural gas-fired turbines, and combined heat and power systems (CHP).
Whether variable, non-dispatchable resources reside at the transmission or distribution level, the industry’s capacity to integrate them is evolving rapidly. Those who see their potential as limited because they are difficult or costly to integrate may be underestimating the capacity for electric systems and markets to innovate. So far, US utilities and grid operators in some regions have successfully integrated annual VER penetration levels of up to 30 percent, with 13 states generating more than 10 percent of their power from VER in 2015, eight states above 15 percent, and three exceeding 20 percent.3 Short-term or “instantaneous” VER penetration levels—for hours at a time—have surpassed 50 percent and even reached 60 percent in some areas, while maintaining a high standard of reliability.4 Some European countries have supported even higher levels. Costs have generally not been prohibitive in the US, with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) estimating integration of its first 10,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity at roughly $0.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) of generation.5 Early forecasts that substantial new generation must be built to back up variable resources like wind and solar power are also not playing out, as the industry innovates and modernizes the grid to increase its responsiveness and flexibility.
How are grid operators handling the growing influx of variable resources? By deploying a broad set of solutions such as expanding transmission; tapping dispatchable, centralized generation resources as well as DER; and deploying energy storage. This paper focuses on the growth path of VER in selected US states and countries with the highest current or projected penetration of these resources, and the benefits and challenges they pose for grid operators. It explores the variety of solutions being implemented across regions with high or rapidly increasing VER penetration, and discusses how dispatchable DER can play a growing role in those solutions.
The discussion concludes that building new generation or transmission assets are not the only solutions for integrating VERs, and they may not be the most cost-effective ones either. Greater potential may lie in redesigning and expanding markets, improving coordination across regions, and most of all, taking advantage of the vast, often unused potential of DER. A growing legion of power-generating or load-reducing resources resides on the distribution system, often behind the customer’s meter—and new tools and market designs to help utilities harness them are continually being developed. In many instances grid modernization investments will be needed to enable greater deployment of DER. As utilities add smart sensing, communications, and control technologies to the grid, the system gains the flexibility to incorporate DER both operationally and economically, and this in turn may enable smoother VER integration.
As states and countries continue down the path toward low or no-carbon energy supplies, the role of variable and distributed energy resources will likely grow and VER integration tools are expected to become increasingly critical. While integrating VER can be challenging for grid operators, in reality these resources have been integrated at higher levels than expected,69 reaching nearly 44 percent of power generated annually in Denmark without impacting reliability. In the US, costs of VER integration have generally been lower than analysts predicted, largely thought to be because the set of tools for integrating them has been expanding. We expect it to be increasingly important to deploy VER integration solutions as penetration rises. In some European countries, such as Germany, rapid VER adoption occurred before some of the solutions described here could be implemented, which contributed to supply-demand imbalances and rising electricity prices. Germany is now pursuing policies to slow VER growth and implement DER solutions such as demand response, CHP, and storage. Another area with rapid VER adoption, the Australian state of South Australia, is reviewing its integration strategies and particularly its wind plant settings that interface with the electric grid, after a recent storm-related blackout that involved, though was not caused by, several of the state’s wind farms.
Across the globe, solutions that were originally thought to be the primary tools for VER integration, such as building backup power plants, have not been used extensively. Instead, operators are relying more heavily on solutions like improved weather forecasting, expanded regional and inter-regional coordination, and perhaps most significantly—on a growing wave of DER that is becoming increasingly accessible to operators as the grid is modernized and new market services and technologies become available. Grid modernization seems particularly critical to unlocking the potential of DER, just as it is to improving efficiency and cutting costs across all grid operations. An “intelligent grid” would allow operators to monitor, analyze, manage and control the VER and DER on the system.
While once viewed primarily as a threat to utility business models, DER are beginning to be seen as valuable tools to add flexibility to the grid and integrate growing volumes of VER cost effectively. As grids evolve into two-way energy platforms, electricity markets are also evolving, and may increasingly acquire characteristics of the new “sharing economy,” as customers make their DER available to utilities and grid operators to balance the grid. In this environment, utility planners are starting to see DER more as enablers, rather than competition, and increased coordination across systems, markets, and resource owners as the most effective and efficient solution for integrating VER and DER.
Pope Talks Climate Change At Trump Pope urges world leaders not to hobble climate change pact
Philip Pullella w/Roberta Rampton and Robin Pomeroy, November 28, 2016 (Reuters)
“…[Addressing a group of scientists that included theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Pope Francis urged national leaders] to implement global environmental agreements without delay, a message that looked to be squarely aimed at U.S. President-elect Donald Trump…[It was the Pope’s] strongest speech on the environment since the election of Trump, who has threatened to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change…Francis, who wrote an encyclical, or papal letter, on the environment last year, took a swipe at those who dispute that climate change is caused by human activity, criticizing ‘the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded’…During the campaign, Trump called climate change a hoax…Last week he appeared to soften his stance…[saying] he was keeping ‘an open mind’ and that there might be ‘some connectivity’ between human activity and global warming…[But then his designated chief-of-staff said] the president-elect still believed climate change was mostly ‘a bunch of bunk’…” click here for more
Solar Comes To The Mall Solar power store highlights bright potential for clean energy
Ivan Penn, November 26, 2016 (LA Times)
“…Bland’s Solar & Air [is next to the Village Pet Market, two doors down from Trader Joe’s] in a nondescript strip mall…[It] looks a little like a car dealership, only for personal electricity generators from the sun. The unusual storefront is, solar experts say, the largest, most comprehensive solar power showroom in California, with not only panels but also actual rooftops with the systems mounted for potential customers to see…[There are three 5,000-square-foot showrooms in Bakersfield, Templeton, and Clovis and the owners plan new stores in Fresno and an unnamed city] for 2017…[The showrooms sell 50% to 60% of] the 100 solar installations Bland contracts each month…[Bernadette del Chiaro, executive director of the solar association, said the] showroom approach is the direction the industry is headed with the likes of SolarCity merging with Tesla Motors for one-stop home-energy shopping…” click here for more
The Big Possibilities Of Backyard Wind DOE study confirms vast untapped energy and jobs potential for distributed wind energy systems
Paul Dvorak, November 28, 2016 (Windpower Engineering and Development)
“…[T]he first technical and economic analysis of distributed wind power’s potential in the U.S…[shows] that distributed wind could be installed at millions of locations nationwide and has the technical potential to power the entire U.S. electrical system…Distributed wind typically means smaller wind turbines installed at homes, farms, businesses, and public facilities where they serve to reduce consumer’s electric bills…Distributed wind power’s total addressable resource potential is comparable to wind farms and offshore wind, potentially supporting millions of systems and thousands of gigawatts of power production capacity…[and] exceeds total U.S. electricity demand…Major increases in electricity production (and corresponding rural economic development) from this sector are quite possible, especially with policies that have been successful with solar…” click here for more