Colbert On The President’s Climate Science
Even when words fail the rest of us and we want to hang our heads in chagrin, Colbert comes through. From The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, October 22-23:
Even when words fail the rest of us and we want to hang our heads in chagrin, Colbert comes through. From The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via YouTube
Floridians and the president can deny it all they want, but this is what must happen as climate change matures. From PBS NewsHour via YouTube
Cleveland, home of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, just stuck its thumb in the eye of the Washington establishment by joining the 100% New Energy movement. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
Climate change endangers dozens of World Heritage sites
Sandee LaMotte, October 16, 2018 (CNN)
“…Across the Mediterranean region, flood risk may increase by 50% and erosion risk by 13% by the year 2100…with considerably higher increases at specific World Heritage sites, areas chosen to be preserved due to their importance in human history…The impact on those historical icons would be significant…unless actions are taken quickly…[According to a new scientific study, many of the 1,092 cultural historical sites on the 2018 World Heritage List] are already at risk from rising sea levels. Venice, for example, has been thought to be sinking for years. In reality, Venice floods regularly, and has done so for centuries. In 1996 a combination of rain, high tides and high wind caused the canals to rise a devastating 6 feet above normal levels…
…The researchers ranked and compared 49 locations facing the highest risk…Flooding risk was highest for cities along the northern Adriatic Sea. Some are in severe danger now. Besides Venice and its lagoon, the Italian city of Ferrara and its wetlands of Po Delta and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia at the northern coast of Italy are currently at high risk due to rising sea levels…[The study also] found 42 of the 49 sites were suffering coastal erosion today…[By 2100, the Lebanese city of Tyre topped the list of cities endangered by erosion…followed by Ephesus, Greece, known for the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In equal danger are Heraion, a large temple dedicated to Hera in Samos, Greece, and the Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco in Spain, said to be the first and oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula…” click here for more
Demand For Renewable Energy Jumps Tremendously As Costs Decline
James Lee, 17 October 2018 (Forbes Middle East)
“…[Three key enablers—price and performance parity, grid integration, and technology—allow solar and wind power to compete with conventional sources on price, while matching their performance…[According to Deloitte’s just released “Global Renewable Energy Trends,” prices for New Energy prices will continue to fall and accessibility to it will continue to grow due to] technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3-D printing…Longstanding obstacles to greater deployment of renewables have receded as a result…
The unsubsidized cost of solar and wind power has become comparable or cheaper than traditional sources in much of the world. New storage options are now making renewables more dispatchable—once an advantage of conventional sources…Once seen as an obstacle, wind and solar power are now viewed as a solution to grid balancing.They have demonstrated an ability to strengthen grid resilience and reliability and provide essential grid services…[And] automation and advanced manufacturing are improving the production and operation of renewables by reducing the costs and time of implementing renewable energy systems…” click here for more
Global Renewables Forecast: Chinese Export Aspirations To Grow
18 September 2018 (Fitch Solutions)
“…China will make up 45% of total global renewables capacity additions over the coming decade, as the Chinese government will remain a strong supporter of the sector…[Growth in China's renewables sector will likely] slow over the coming decade, as it transitions away from feed-in-tariffs to competitive auctions…[and renewables exports will likely] become increasingly important under the Belt & Road initiative…[Non-hydropower renewables capacity is forecast to] double over the coming decade, from 1,034GW by end-2017 to 1,088GW by 2027…[Solar power capacity will] grow the fastest,] from 38% to 45%. By 2027, globally installed solar capacity will total 936GW, marginally lower than the 976GW we forecast will be installed in the wind power sector…
Renewables power generation growth will average 7% annually between 2017 and 2027, with the wind power sector making up 51% of the renewables power generation mix by 2027…[Solar power’s lower capacity factor will keep it at] 29% by 2027…Geothermal and biomass power will comprise 3% and 18% of total renewables power generation respectively, despite the sectors only making up 1% and 8% of total renewables capacity…China will make up 45% of total global renewables capacity installations between 2017 and 2027, adding almost 500GW of renewables capacity between 2017 and 2027. This will take total installed capacity in the market to 768GW by the end of our 10-year forecast, meaning China will make up almost 37% of total installed renewables capacity by 2027…” click here for more
The ideal diet to combat climate change; Plant-based diets better for planet, study says
Lisa Drayer, October 18, 2018 (KXLY Spokane)
“…[A]s a result of population growth and the continued consumption of Western diets high in red meats and processed foods, the environmental pressures of the food system could increase by up to 90% by 2050…[and] Earth's vital ecosystems could become unstable…[According to a study Oxford University, this] could lead to dangerous levels of climate change with higher occurrences of extreme weather events…Sustaining a healthier planet will require halving the amount of food loss and waste, and improving farming practices and technologies. But it will also require a shift toward more plant-based diets…
…[The study animal products generate] up to 78% of total agricultural emissions…due to manure-related emissions…The feed-related impacts of animal products also contribute to freshwater use and pressures on cropland…[B]eef is more than 100 times as emissions-intensive as legumes…[C]ows emit about 10 times more greenhouse gases per kilogram of meat than pigs and chickens, which themselves emit about 10 times more than legumes…[A] flexitarian diet, which is predominantly plant-based, can help…[It] includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein sources including legumes, soybeans and nuts, along with modest amounts of poultry, fish, milk and eggs, and small amounts of red meat…” click here for more
‘There is no alternative to a world of 100% renewables’
Emiliano Bellini, October 17, 2018 (PV Magazine)
“Electrifying the global energy system with clean energy is the only way to reach the targets set by the Paris agreement on climate change and avoid the catastrophic scenarios outlined by the recent IPCC report…[A] 100% renewables model is not only technically feasible, but also the cheapest and safest option. With solar and storage at its core, the future energy system… will not only stop coal, but also nuclear and fossil gas, while seeing solar reach a share of around 70% of power consumption by 2050. By that time, PV technology could cost a third of its current price…[The findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report calling for urgent measures leaves] no other appropriate option…
…[According to Lappeenranta University of Technology research, this] is not science fiction but a real world scenario that must be taken into serious consideration, unless we don’t want to commit a collective suicide…[I]t is also the cheapest way to shape our energy future, as solar and renewables have the potential to reduce the LCOE of global power supply from €70 [$80.91]/MWh in 2015 to between 50 and €55/MWh by 2050…The easiest part of this trajectory will be the switch to renewables of the power sector, while the hard job will have to be done for the transport, industry and chemical sectors. In the transport sector, marine and aviation will also have to go through electrification, as economically they only work with low-cost electricity, and this will come mainly from renewables in the future, particularly from solar…” click here for more
Climate change and the coming coastal real estate crash; It could rival the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008
Patrick Sisson, October 16, 2018 (Curbed)
“…[Techniques used to build the home in Florida that survived Hurricane Michael] such as raising it on stilts and using additional concrete supports…[roughly doubles the cost per square foot…Like many of the impacts of a warming planet, the serious economic reverberations and permanent damage caused by declining coastal property values are simply not being addressed in an urgent enough manner…[A 2016 investigation found] the impact of a coastal property collapse brought on by climate change…could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008…The warnings have only become more dire…In many ways, real estate will be the canary in the coal mine of climate change…For many coastal communities in the United States threatened by hurricanes, a period of rapid change has already arrived…
At the very least, we need a serious dialogue at the national level after repeated billion-dollar recovery efforts continue to tax the government as well as the insurance industry…[A detailed Union of Concerned Scientists analysis found] that most coastal real estate does not factor these risks into current value projections…[and] the value of waterlogged land won’t simply bounce back. Everyone from institutional investors to private homeowners will face losses that will drag down the wider economy…300,000 residential and commercial properties will likely face chronic and disruptive flooding by 2045, threatening $135 billion in property damage and forcing 280,000 Americans to adapt or relocate…[Florida] will be the state most at risk…Roughly 64,000 homes—including 12,000 in Miami Beach, a nexus of real estate investment—will face chronic flooding…[It will likely be a slow-motion disaster resulting in] a broken flood insurance system… click here for more
The two key questions about going to 100% renewables in Los Angeles; Will it be solar or more solar in Hollywood? And can solar star without fossil fuel backup?
Herman K. Trabish, April 5, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: With California’s new state-wide commitment to 100% New Energy, the path for Los Angeles is expected to clear.
In 2016, the Los Angeles City Council asked the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to study the possibility of moving to a 100% renewables resource mix. For renewables, this could be what Hollywood calls a “marquee moment.” Many see in renewables the 'star' quality to run the 'show' on their own. Others worry that co-stars, in the form of backup fossil generation, will be needed into the 2040s if LADWP is to guarantee reliable electricity for its 1.5 million-plus customers. That's because if renewables get casted, LADWP faces a big challenge: Limits on regional transmission constrain LA’s renewables choices largely to solar and more solar. To answer the questions raised by the city council’s order, LADWP formed a high-powered advisory group that is winning rave reviews from renewables advocates. In the meantime, to create a “roadmap” to 100% renewables and help inform the debate, local advocacy group Food & Water Watch (FWW) commissioned “Clean Energy for Los Angeles” by Synapse Energy Economics.
The Synapse paper has been welcomed by advocates for a more rapid transition to 100% renewables. It found the city’s transition to 100% renewables by 2030 is “feasible” and “will be cheaper for LADWP ratepayers” than business as usual, according to FWW Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. Synapse also offers new co-stars for renewables. Instead of fossil fuels and hydropower delivered on costly new transmission, the co-stars can be energy efficiency, demand response and battery energy storage, Synapse says. Synapse associate and paper co-author Spencer Fields said the study has one very important takeaway. The biggest change for LADWP in the coming transition will not be its resource mix. It is already more than 30% renewables and quickly adding more to meet its clean energy mandates. The biggest change in moving to 100% by 2030 will be how the utility operates its system… click here for more
What's next for South Carolina's embattled utilities? A failed investment in nuclear puts the futures of SCE&G and Santee Cooper in danger
Herman K. Trabish, April 9, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The debate over what should happen to this $9 billion-plus money hole goes on.
To keep electricity flowing at affordable prices, South Carolina faces difficult choices about its debt-burdened electric utilities. Public power utility Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G), the state’s dominant investor-owned electric utility (IOU), have a combined obligation of more than $13 billion. It was incurred when the expected $9.8 billion cost to jointly finance two new units at the V.C. Summer nuclear facility ballooned to more than $20 billion and the project had to be abandoned. There are five choices for Santee and six for SCE&G, according to new papers. Among the choices, both utilities could attempt to meet their debt by economizing, but the debt is too large for that approach to be effective. They could pass the obligation to customers or taxpayers, but many of the lawmakers responsible for the ultimate decision on the utilities' fates have declared it unacceptable to shift the financial burden to those who did not create it.
A new Palmetto Promise Institute paper says the responsibility should fall on the utilities and investors in the uncompleted nuclear facility. SCE&G, as an IOU, could aid itself and its customers by cutting dividends to shareholders, according to a study done for the state senate by Bates White, a financial consulting firm. Both utilities could sell out if they can find buyers; Dominion Energy has made an offer for SCANA. but completion of the deal is far from certain. Or both could default on the debt, shifting the burden to bondholders and driving the question to bankruptcy courts. The dilemma is complicated by the fact that the utilities’ decision to expand the nuclear facility was made in good faith during the “nuclear renaissance” of the early 2000s. Many in South Carolina (SC) believed it was the right decision. But it was a wrong decision and now somebody must take “a haircut" — a financial world euphemism for a loss. The more legislators discuss options for the utilities, the more unlikely a viable way forward that avoids bankruptcy or sale of the utilities seems… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
Choosing Off-Site Renewable PPAs For Environmental And Social Impact; A Case Study On Cummins Virtual Power Purchase Agreement In Indiana
Roberto Zanchi and Rachit Kansal, October 2018 (Rocky Mountain Institute and World Resources Institute)
An increasing number of corporate renewables buyers are venturing into the virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) market. They are driven by their environmental and social sustainability goals and the desire to achieve them by enabling new large-scale renewable energy projects.
This case study offers insight into the renewables strategy and procurement process of Cummins, a global power equipment manufacturer that announced its first VPPA in August 2017. The VPPA is for 75 megawatts (MW) of wind power from Meadow Lake, a wind farm located in Indiana.
The Cummins case offers valuable lessons to renewables buyers that are considering VPPAs to meet their sustainability goals and might need a framework to guide the selection of a renewable energy project that offers the greatest opportunities for environmental and social impact.
The case study consists of two main sections:
• A discussion of the VPPA as a high-impact renewables procurement option, which looks at why Cummins selected the VPPA as its preferred off-site renewables procurement option in Indiana to meet its environmental and social sustainability goals, and the approach it took in comparing the VPPA to two alternatives: renewable energy certificates (RECs) and utility contracts.
• A cost-benefit framework to select high-impact renewable projects, which presents the analytical framework the Cummins team used to find its preferred renewable energy project in Indiana, which may be of interest to other buyers that are strongly focused on sustainability impact and considering different VPPA project options.
To develop this case study, we interviewed the Cummins team and the project developer, EDP Renewables North America, in November 2017.
HOW THE VPPA EMERGED AS THE HIGHEST-IMPACT OPTION
Cummins identified and evaluated four off-site renewables procurement options: unbundled RECs, procurement through the local utility, direct PPAs, and VPPAs. Faced with the challenge of picking one approach, Cummins looked to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles—an initiative led by World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)—for guidance. The Buyers’ Principles provide six renewable energy procurement criteria that are widely recognized and endorsed by corporate buyers.
Cummins adopted two of the criteria for corporate renewable transactions recommended by the Buyers’ Principles initiative:
• Additionality: the transaction should enable access to, or help drive the development of, new renewable energy projects.
• Cost-effectiveness: the project should minimize the total cost to the company so that it can achieve the largest possible impact for its investment.
To ensure its renewables procurement would be fully consistent with the company’s values, Cummins then formulated two additional principles of its own:
• Tangible impact: the transaction should be clearly understood and accepted by stakeholders as having significant environmental and social impact.
• Transparency: the transaction should be openly communicated via public disclosures and be properly accounted for in the company’s financial statements. With these procurement principles in mind, the sustainability team initiated a discussion involving the company’s CEO and senior leadership that led to the selection of the off-site procurement option that best met the company’s needs.
How a VPPA works
The virtual power purchase agreement is the form of large-scale renewables procurement chosen by the majority of corporate buyers (55+ companies) in the United States. More than 80 nonutility off-site VPPA deals with new renewable projects—wind and solar, for the most part—have been signed and publicly announced in the United States over the past 10 years. A VPPA is financial contract whereby an energy project developer and a buyer exchange cash, but the buyer never actually receives electricity from the project.
This is how a VPPA works:
1. The buyer pays a fixed price for the electricity generated by the project for the duration of the contract, typically 15 to 20 years, without taking title to, or physically consuming, the electricity generated by the project.
2.Instead, the electricity is sold into the wholesale market at real-time or day-ahead prices. The buyer is entitled to the money made from that sale and is therefore exposed to market price variability.
3.The buyer and the project developer settle the cumulative difference between the fixed price and the market price periodically. This is why VPPAs are also known as contracts for differences.
4.Usually, buyers have the option to acquire the renewable energy attributes (i.e., the RECs) associated with the electricity generated by the project, which they can sell or retain and use for their environmental claims.
5.The buyer needs to have a separate electricity contract with a utility or other retailer in place to supply power to its load. The VPPA does not provide physical supply of electricity or impact existing electricity supply contracts.
In the United States, renewable energy facilities generate a renewable energy certificate, or REC, for every megawatt-hour that a facility produces. While RECs can be included in a power purchase agreement, RECs can also be purchased independently on an open market, in which case they are known as unbundled RECs because they are sold separately from the electricity. Cummins’ leadership rejected the idea of managing the company’s GHG footprint through unbundled RECs even though unbundled RECs have a number of attractive characteristics. In particular, unbundled RECs are a cost-effective means to offset GHG emissions, as RECs are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased easily and at a large scale. Moreover, RECs in any form provide the basis for emissions reduction accounting based on the GHG Protocol, the most widely recognized corporate GHG accounting standard. However, unbundled RECs failed to meet the additionality and tangible impact principles, which the company considered essential. Cummins took the view that the purchase of RECs alone was not sufficient for a buyer to credibly claim to have enabled a new renewable energy project in a way that would be understood and accepted by all of the relevant stakeholders.
Procurement of renewable electricity through a contract with the local Indiana electric utility was also considered, but was also ultimately rejected. On one hand, the Cummins team was convinced that the premium paid to the utility would enable the installation of more renewable generation capacity, and therefore meet the additionality principle. However, because Indiana utilities retain all RECs by law, Cummins would not have been able to acquire the RECs from a new project through a transaction with a utility in Indiana. The resulting lack of a credible claim to GHG emissions reduction meant procuring renewable energy through a utility contract would fail to meet the cost-effectiveness and tangible impact principles.
Cummins also considered a direct PPA, a procurement option where the electricity produced by a specific renewable project is delivered to its load via a special arrangement with the local utility. This option would also meet additionality and create tangible impact by enabling new renewable generation capacity. In a direct PPA the electricity produced needs to be physically used by the buyer, so the project size needs to be tailored to the load, which places an upper limit on GHG impact. Additionally, the additional cost of the special arrangement with the utility would have diminished cost-effectiveness. For these reasons, the direct PPA was not selected.
The VPPA emerged as the off-site renewables procurement option that met all of Cummins’ procurement principles. Cummins determined that VPPAs provide significant GHG impacts as well as a number of other environmental and social benefits for an acceptable net financial cost. A VPPA met Cummins’ additionality criterion in the sense that it would enable the financing and construction of a new renewable energy project. A VPPA contract provides a project with a fixed-price guarantee and, therefore, greater revenue stability. This, in turn, allows developers to secure the thirdparty financing required to build and operate the project. Through consultation and engagement with stakeholders, Cummins established that the VPPA would allow the company to establish a tangible connection with the environmental and social impact of the project. These environmental and social benefits will be explored in detail in the following section of the case study. Finally, the VPPA proved cost-effective in the sense that it comes with acceptable financial cost and risk relative to the expected (high) impact. As will be discussed in the following section, achieving confidence in the company’s ability to manage the downside risk presented by market electricity prices was the key challenge in winning internal support and approval for the VPPA…
This case study offers insight into the renewable energy strategy and deal process Cummins used to secure its first VPPA in 2017. To conclude, we present a summary of insights that may be useful to other corporate renewables buyers exploring or undertaking VPPA procurement:
1. On the role for renewables procurement in corporate GHG strategy Cummins’ first step in reducing its GHG emissions was to invest in energy efficiency, which provided both emissions reductions and an economic payback. The company then moved to on-site projects, and then to off-site renewables procurement once cost-effective efficiency projects became harder to find. Cummins found that the potential scale of off-site options offered the largest GHG impact opportunities in renewables procurement.
2. On the selection of the best off-site renewable procurement option To select the best form of off-site renewables procurement, Cummins developed clear procurement principles, which were supported by senior leadership. Cummins started developing its principles by adopting concepts from environmental NGOs and then added on its own requirements to tailor its requirements to the company’s needs.
3. On the net cost and financial risk of the VPPA to the company For the VPPA to be approved by the treasury, finance, tax, and legal departments, the extent and likelihood of the worst-case financial scenario had to be understood and deemed acceptable. Because VPPA values are subject to wholesale price risk, which is a function of a large number of variables, Cummins relied on historical prices, third-party price forecasts and, ultimately, statistical forecasting via Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate the potential financial downside.
4. On the social and environmental benefits of the renewable VPPA Cummins considered a wide range of environmental and social factors. In addition to GHG emissions reductions, Cummins identified a number of important social and economic variables that informed its project selection, including water and land usages, wildlife protection, acceptance by local communities, and local economic impact.
Virtual power purchase agreements are complex and are unfamiliar to most corporates. But Cummins’ experience shows that they are a valuable tool, and can provide the most cost-effective and, in the end, easiest option for even a major player in heavy industry to achieve environmental and sustainability goals.
Making Climate Change A Political Issue How Some Environmentalists Hope to Make Climate Change an Issue in the Midterms
Justin Worland, October 15, 2018 (Time Magazine)
“Environmentalists hoping to move voters on the issue of climate change have adopted a familiar-sounding strategy: Think globally, act locally…It’s something of a paradox in American politics. Polls show that more than 60% of Americans believe that climate change is happening, it’s caused by human activities and its effects can already be felt, and those numbers hit a three-decade high in 2017, but almost none say that it’s the most important problemfacing the country…[Scientists broadly agree that humans are the prime driver…[but many Republican lawmakers argue the role of human activity] is being hotly debated…[Democrats argue this is an] unscientific view of climate change…” click here for more
Wires Needed For New Energy Corporate America must participate in transmission planning process to meet clean energy goals says new report
Robin Whitlock, 10 October 2018 (Renewable Energy Magazine)
“…Companies setting ambitious renewable energy targets must help make sure clean energy can get from where it’s generated to /where it’s needed [according to Corporate Renewable Procurement and Transmission Planning: Communicating Demand to RTOs May Yield More Low-Cost Options from the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and the Wind Solar Alliance. It calls] for large renewable energy customers to participate in the planning process and shape the grid’s future…US transmission planning processes are not accounting for big companies’ large and growing demand for clean, renewable power, which could result in a lack of new infrastructure to supply that demand. The report offers specific solutions and steps that corporate purchasers of energy can take, as well as new data on corporations’ renewable energy procurement to date…” click here for more
Tracking the Sun; Installed Price Trends for Distributed Photovoltaic Systems in the United States
Galen Barbose and Naïm Darghouth, August 2018 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)’s annual Tracking the Sun report summarizes installed prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. 1 The present report focuses on systems installed through year-end 2017, with preliminary trends for the first half of 2018. As in years past, the primary emphasis is on describing changes in installed prices over time and variation in pricing across projects. New to this year, however, is an expanded discussion of other project characteristics in the large underlying data sample. Future editions will include more of such material, beyond the report’s traditional focus on installed pricing.
Installed pricing trends presented within this report derive primarily from project-level data reported to state agencies and utilities that administer PV incentive programs, solar renewable energy credit (SREC) registration systems, or interconnection processes. Refer to the text box to the right for several key notes about the data. In total, data were collected and cleaned for more than 1.3 million individual PV systems, representing 81% of U.S. residential and non-residential PV systems installed through 2017. A public version of this dataset is available at trackingthesun.lbl.gov. The analysis of installed pricing trends in this report is based on a subset of roughly 770,000 systems with available installed price data.
Key findings from this year’s report are as follows, with all numerical results denoted in real 2017 dollars and direct current (DC) Watts (W):
Installed Prices Continued to Decline through 2017 and into 2018. National median installed prices in 2017 were $3.7/W for residential systems (a $0.2/W or 6% decline from the prior year), $3.1/W for “small” non-residential systems ≤500 kW (a $0.4/W or 11% decline), and $2.2/W (a $0.1/W or 5% decline) for “large” non-residential systems >500 kW. Similar rates of decline are observed among most major state markets, and are driven primarily by trends among host-owned systems, which make up a disproportionate share of the analysis sample. Preliminary data for the first half of 2018 show an additional drop of $0.1/W for residential and small non-residential systems, and effectively no change for large non-residential systems. These recent trends are generally consistent with the pace of price declines since 2014, and mark a slowing from the years immediately preceding (2009-2013) when prices fell by roughly $1/W per year. That slowing rate of decline is primarily a function of the underlying trajectory of module prices, though also reflects other dynamics in the industry (e.g., changes in installer mix and business strategies, saturation of early adopters in some markets, solar loan fees, and potentially diminishing opportunities for further cost savings and efficiency gains as the “low hanging fruit” are increasingly picked).
Installed Price Declines Reflect Reductions in Both Hardware and Soft Costs. Over the long-term, roughly 46% of the decline in residential installed prices is associated with falling module prices, 12% to reductions in inverter prices, and the remaining 42% to the collective assortment of other balance of systems (BoS) costs and “soft” costs (e.g., customer acquisition, installation labor, installer margins, loan fees, etc.). Of the long-term decline in BoS and soft costs, just over 40% could be attributed to growth in residential system sizes and module efficiencies (growth in system sizes being the more dominant effect of the two). Over the last year of the analysis period, from 2016 to 2017, the reduction in aggregate hardware costs for residential PV equates to roughly half of the decline in national median installed prices for residential PV systems in the LBNL dataset, implying that the remainder is associated with falling soft costs.
Installed Price Declines Have Been Partially Offset by Falling Incentives. Cash incentives (i.e., rebates and performance-based incentives) provided through state and utility PV incentive programs have fallen substantially since their peak a decade ago, and have been largely phased-out in many key markets. This trend has been partly a response to installed price declines and the emergence of other forms of incentives, though it has no doubt also helped to motivate further cost and price reductions within the industry. From the customer-perspective, however, declining incentives have offset, to varying degrees, installed price reductions over the same time period. Among the five largest residential state PV markets in our sample, for example, the long-term decline in cash incentives has offset between 67% and 100% of the corresponding drop in installed prices.
National Median Installed Prices Are Relatively High Compared to Other Recent Benchmarks. Median installed prices of systems in the LBNL dataset are high compared to many other recently published PV pricing and cost benchmarks, including those based on bottom-up cost models. These apparent discrepancies can be traced to a variety of differences in underlying data, methods, and conventions. Many of the other published benchmarks, instead, align more closely with 20th percentile pricing levels observed within the LBNL data, and may more closely represent “best in class” or “turnkey” projects and/or relatively low cost markets.
Installed Prices in the United States Are Higher than in Most Other Major National PV Markets. Compared to median U.S. prices, installed prices reported for a number of other key national solar markets are substantially lower. In Australia, for example, typical pricing for residential systems was reported to be around $1.8/W in 2017 (i.e., half the median price observed within the LBNL dataset), while prices in Germany were even lower, at $1.5/W. Though data comparability across countries is imperfect and may overstate the differences to some degree, numerous other studies have shown that soft costs, in particular, tend to be considerably higher in the U.S. than in most other markets.
Installed Prices Vary Widely Across Individual Projects. Among residential systems installed in 2017, 20% were priced below $3.0/W (the 20th percentile value), while 20% were above $4.5/W (the 80th percentile). Non-residential systems also exhibit wide pricing variability, with the 20th-to80th percentile ranging from $2.4/W to $4.1/W for smaller (≤500 kW) projects and from $1.8/W to $2.8/W for larger (>500 kW) projects. This pricing variability has persisted over time, despite continuing maturation of the U.S. PV market, and reflects a broad array of factors, including differences in project characteristics and installer attributes, as well as various aspects of the broader market, policy, and regulatory environment. This report explores a subset of those factors, using relatively simple comparisons, while a number of other studies that LBNL has conducted with academic partners explore these factors using more complex statistical methods.
Clear Economies of Scale Exist Among Both Residential and Non-Residential Systems. Among residential systems installed in 2017, median prices were roughly $1.3/W lower for the largest systems (>12 kW) compared to the smallest systems (≤2 kW). Among non-residential systems, which span an even wider size range, median prices were $1.6/W lower for systems >1,000 kW, compared to the smallest non-residential systems ≤10 kW. Both residential and non-residential systems exhibit diminishing returns to scale with system size, though even lower installed prices would be expected for utility-scale systems, which are outside the scope of this report.
Installed Prices Vary Widely Among States, with Relatively High Prices in Some Large State Markets. State-level median installed prices in 2017 ranged from $2.6/W to $4.5/W for residential systems, from $2.2/W to $4.0/W for small non-residential systems, and from $2.1/W to $2.4/W for large non-residential systems. Three of the largest state markets (California, Massachusetts, and New York) are relatively high-priced, pulling overall U.S. median prices upward. These cross-state pricing differences reflect both idiosyncratic features of particular states as well as morefundamental differences in market and policy conditions.
Prices that Installers Receive for Third-Party Owned Residential Systems Tend to Be Lower than for Host-Owned Systems. This report does not evaluate lease terms or power purchase agreement (PPA) rates for TPO systems, and therefore does not speak to the relative economics of TPO vs. host-owned systems from the host-customer perspective. However, it does include data on the installed price of TPO systems sold by installation contractors to customer finance providers, and therefore allows for some comparison of the relative economics from the installer perspective. For residential systems, the median installed price of TPO systems in 2017 was $0.5/W lower than for host-owned systems, consistent with recent years. These trends likely reflect some combination of greater buying power on the part of third-party financiers, more-standardized or turnkey installations in the TPO segment, customer acquisition managed or performed by the financier, and loan-financing fees rolled into the prices reported for many host-owned systems. In contrast, for non-residential systems, no consistent differences exist between prices reported for TPO and hostowned systems.
Wide Pricing Variability Exists Across Major Residential Installers. Among the 100 installers with the greatest number of host-owned residential installations in the dataset in 2017, installerlevel median prices ranged from $2.1/W to $9.6/W, with most installers below $4.0/W. Installermedian prices for the top-100 TPO installers ranged from $1.1/W to $5.5/W, with most installers below $3.5/W. While the extremities of these ranges likely reflect anomalous price reporting by a few installers (particularly at the high end for host-owned systems and at the low-end for TPO systems), they nevertheless demonstrate the substantial variation in installer pricing behavior. The likely causes of that variation include attributes of the installers themselves, for example firm size and experience, as well as features of the broader markets in which installers operate, such as labor and permitting costs specific to particular states or regions.
Installed Prices Are Substantially Higher for Systems with “Premium Efficiency” Modules. Module efficiencies vary widely among systems in the dataset, from roughly 15% to 21% and above, for systems installed in 2017. Systems with “premium efficiency” modules at the upper end of this range (20% and above) consistently have higher installed prices than those with efficiencies below that threshold. Among residential systems installed in 2017, the differential in median prices was $0.6/W for residential systems and $0.8/W for small non-residential systems. This difference reflects the higher costs of premium efficiency products. Though increased module efficiency can yield savings on BoS and soft costs (e.g., by allowing for a smaller footprint system), it is clear that any such savings are more than offset by the higher cost of the modules. Those premium modules, however, may offer improved performance characteristics or longer warrantees (both of which are relevant to any full economic comparison).
Residential New Construction Offers Significant Installed Price Advantages Compared to Retrofit Applications. Within California, residential systems installed in new construction have been consistently lower-priced than those installed on existing homes. The disparity in 2017 was especially pronounced, with a median price of $2.3/W for systems in new construction, compared to $3.9/W for residential retrofits. That particular result is driven by several installers with large numbers of especially low-priced systems in new construction. Earlier years show smaller, though still significant, price advantages for new construction (e.g., a difference in median prices of $0.5/W in both 2015 and 2016). These trends likely reflect some combination of economies of scale in new construction (where PV is typically installed across multiple homes in new housing developments), economies of scope (where certain costs and activities can be shared between the PV installation and home construction), and reduced customer acquisition costs.
Installed Prices Are Generally Higher for Systems at Tax-Exempt Customer Sites than for Systems at Commercial Sites. Roughly 20% of non-residential systems in the 2017 data sample were installed at tax-exempt site hosts, including schools, government facilities, and non-profit organizations (such as churches). Systems installed for tax-exempt customers have been consistently higher priced than those for their commercial counterparts. These differences are most pronounced among the larger class of >500 kW non-residential systems, where median prices were roughly $0.5/W higher for tax-exempt customers than for commercial customers in 2017. The differentials are even greater if comparing only among host-owned systems. Higher prices at taxexempt customer sites potentially reflect higher incidence of prevailing wage/union labor requirements, domestically manufactured components, and shade or parking structures. Many taxexempt site hosts may also have lower borrowing costs, in turn enabling higher-priced systems to pencil-out.
Trump Accuses Climate Scientists Of ‘Political Agenda’ President Trump Says Climate Change Isn't a Hoax, but Thinks It Might 'Change Back Again'
October 14, 2018 (Associated Press via Time Magazine)
’ “…[The president] is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax but says he doesn’t know if it’s manmade and suggests that the climate will ‘change back again.’ In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Trump said he doesn’t want to put the U.S. at a disadvantage in responding to climate change…[He said] “Something’s changing and it’ll change back again”… [and added] “I don’t know that it’s manmade” [and] I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs” …[T] emperature records kept by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the world hasn’t had a cooler-than-average year since 1976 or a cooler-than-normal month since the end of 1985…
…[Asked about climate scientists’ findings, the president said] “You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda.” [The] Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a warning [last week] that global warming would increase climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth…[and said that] Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming…” click here for more
Gen-Xers, Millennials Like Solar And Savings In Green Vivint Solar 2018 Environmental Consumer Report Reveals You're Likely More Green Than You Think
October 11, 2018 (Solar Industry Magazine)
“…[F]ewer millennials consider themselves ‘green consumers’ than older generations…[T]wo-thirds of baby boomers consider themselves environmentally conscious, compared to 58 percent of millennials and 57 percent of Gen Xers…[but together they create a] smaller-than-expected gap between green consumers and conventional consumers [according to a Vivint Solar-funded poll of 3,000 consumers]…Millennials are the least likely generation to go green for the environment...71 percent of green millennials cite the environment as a factor in going green, compared to 82 percent of green Gen Xers and 93 percent of green baby boomers…Millennials are the most likely generation to go green for the financial savings (47 percent)…Millennials are also the most likely age group to be introduced to an eco-friendly way of life by their parents...Millennials and Gen Xers show the strongest interested in purchasing solar over the next five years…” click here for more
The connection is simply undeniable. From Real Time With Bill Maher via YouTube
His candidate is a mother with a great New Energy policy. From Climate Reality via YouTube
This is the science. It’s not simple, and it’s not good news, but it’s the truth. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube