NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015

NewEnergyNews

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

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY,:

  • TTTA Thursday-Al Gore Goes Deep On Climate
  • TTTA Thursday-Ready To Hit The Solar Road
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind In The Cities – The Cleveland Example
  • TTTA Thursday-20X Growth For Global Grid Scale Storage In Next Decade
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Solar Market Transformation
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Close Look At Hawaii’s Plan To Get To 100% New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Plan To Get Energy Storage Paid What It’s Worth
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How To Bring Energy Storage To Market
  • QUICK NEWS, July 18: How Fear Drives Climate Change Denial; How The President Misunderstands Wind; A Truly Doable Solar Vision
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Huge Support By U.S. Voters For Paris Climate Agreement – Poll
  • QUICK NEWS, July 17: 4 Key Ways To Stand Up To Climate Change; New Energy Safe For U.S. Grid – DOE Study; Solar Plus Storage Can Beat NatGas Price
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Here Comes The Plug
  • Weekend Video: Big Solar With Storage Can Get Cheaper
  • Weekend Video: All About The Climate Consensus
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-UK’s Fish And Chips Could Be A Climate Change Victim
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Google Buys Dutch Solar For Data Center
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$2 Bil, 10 Project Buy For Mexico
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Tesla To Build World’s Biggest Wind Battery Storage For Aussies
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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

  • ---------------
  • FRIDAY WORLD, July 21:

  • Facing A Mass Extinction
  • China Takes Over The Solar World
  • Pakistan Turning To Wind
  • 30X Growth In Distributed Storage Over The Next Decade

    Thursday, April 30, 2015

    GREEN INVESTMENT TRANSITION ON TRACK TO HIT $10 TRIL BY 2020

    Breakdowns Driving Breakthroughs; 2015 Green Transition Scoreboard Report

    Hazel Henderson, Rosalinda Sanquiche, Timothy Jack Nash, April 2015 (Ethical Markets Media)

    “For 2014, the Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) focused on water, which added $484 billion to the overall total of $5.3 trillion of private investments reported March 2014, 9% of the overall total…This year, the GTS tracks Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Green Construction, Life Systems and Corporate Green R&D…Each sector covers an area of substantial capital investment…The upward trend in investments reported since 2009 aligns with our recommendation that investing at least 10% of institutional portfolios directly in companies driving the global Green Transition appropriately updates strategic asset allocation models both as opportunities and as risk mitigation…Even limiting government and institutional investments which are increasingly focusing on growing greener economies, $6.22 trillion in private investments and commitments puts private investors growing green sectors globally on track to reach our projected $10 trillion in investments by 2020…” click here for more

    HOME ENERGY DEMAND SLOWING

    U.S. energy demand slows except for industrial, commercial sectors

    Jim Turnure, April 29, 2015 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    "U.S. energy consumption has slowed recently and is not anticipated to return to growth levels seen in the second half of the 20th century…[P]rojections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) show that domestic consumption is expected to grow at a modest 0.3% per year through 2040, less than half the rate of population growth. Energy used in homes is essentially flat, and transportation consumption will decline slightly, meaning that energy consumption growth will be concentrated in U.S. businesses and industries…Near-zero growth in energy consumption is a recent phenomenon, and there is substantial uncertainty about the main drivers…Increases in energy consumption are mostly related to economic activity, and U.S. industrial and commercial enterprises are projected to increase output more rapidly than countervailing influences from improved technologies. Existing policies also can moderate energy use…” click here for more

    NV POLL TO POLS –VOTERS WANT SOLAR

    Solar energy poll results called warning for Nevada legislators

    Sean Whaley, April 29, 2015 (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    “…[Nevada] state lawmakers could suffer at the polls come election time next year if they do not support expanding rooftop solar efforts through a net metering program…[A WPA Opinion Research paid for by the Alliance for Solar Choice shows [seven in 10 likely voters support Nevada’s net metering policy and nearly three-quarters would be less likely to re-elect their legislative representative if they failed to support a raise in the net metering cap]…The strong support for net metering among voters is because Nevada is blessed with an enormous solar resource and they [more than four in five of likely voters, 84 percent, have a favorable impression of solar energy]…Without an increase in the net metering cap, [advocates say] the rooftop solar industry will leave Nevada, eliminating 6,000 jobs…[NV Energy, the state’s dominant utility], says the cap might be reached early next year, but the rooftop solar group says the cap could be reached as early as this summer…NV Energy officials argue that net metering customers are subsidized by other ratepayers…[and] that rooftop solar would be viable without the subsidy, which is worth about 7 cents a kilowatt hour…” click here for more

    EFFICIENCY STILL THE CHEAPEST NEW ENERGY

    Counting all costs, researchers find that saving energy is still cheap

    Jon Weiner, April 29, 2015 (PhysOrg)

    “…[T]he most comprehensive study yet of the full cost of saving electricity by U.S. utility efficiency programs…[shows 4.6 cents per kwh is the average total cost of saving a kilowatt-hour in 20 states from 2009 to 2013 [with 3.3 cents per kWh in the residential sector and 5.5 cents per kWh in the commercial and industrial sector, according to The Total Cost of Saving Electricity Through Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs: Estimates at the National, State, Sector and Program Level]…The total cost of efficiency is the full investment in an energy-saving action, paid by all parties—the program administrator and the customer taking the action…[It is the] utility's costs of administering the program and providing the incentive plus what the customer spends are the total cost…What it costs to save energy is especially important as states increasingly turn to efficiency programs to manage demands for electricity…Efficiency programs and participants have split the cost of saving electricity almost right down the middle—on average paying roughly 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour each…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: CAN CALIFORNIA REALLY GET TO 50% RENEWABLES IN 15 YEARS?

    Can California really get to 50% renewables in 15 years?; “We are ready, but we have to get our boots on and navigate some tough territory.”

    Herman K. Trabish, January 9, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) got 2015 off to a rousing start with his call to raise renewables to 50% of his state’s electricity generation by 2030.

    Can his state's utilities make it happen?

    “The governor has presented a policy for California to be a leader in carbon reduction and this is the focus of his broad plan,” a Southern California Edison (SCE) spokesperson wrote to Utility Dive.

    In addition to raising the renewables mandate, Brown’s inaugural address proposal included increasing building energy efficiency by 50% and halving the state’s use of petroleum.

    “We look forward to working with the administration to develop and implement this group of measures,” the SCE statement said. “Combinations of increased renewable energy resources, energy efficiency, expansion of the use of electric vehicles, energy storage and other technologies and strategies will be needed to make the desired level of carbon reductions.”

    Hawaii’s regulators are working with the HECO utilities on a 67% renewables by 2030 mandate. But Hawaii’s smaller size, population and its geographic isolation make meeting the goal significantly easier than in California. No other state’s mandate is higher than 30%.

    No technical barriers

    There are no technical barriers to using 50% renewables on California’s grid, according to Laura Wisland’s reading of 'Investigating a Higher Renewables Portfolio Standard [RPS] in California,' a study by Energy plus Environmental Economics (E3). Wisland is an Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    Cost barriers caused by over-generation of solar could, however, become an issue, the E3 research found. The key to cost is in the resource mix and that will be decided by state energy agency decision makers.

    “We have known for some time that the 33% RPS was only a floor and not a ceiling and we have been thinking about 40% and 50% penetration rates,”California Independent System Operator (ISO) Senior Public Information Officer Steven Greenlee. It will take increased collaboration and coordination with the state’s energy agencies, he added, “but we are prepared to move forward and make this a reality.”

    Resource mix specifics will be up to the California Energy Commission (CEC)and the people involved in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) long term procurement plan process, Greenlee explained. The ISO then determines what infrastructure is needed to support the new resources.

    A source close to the CEC said it is studying the Governor’s proposal and will collaborate with stakeholders to find the best ways to achieve the Governor’s “ambitious” reductions. The CPUC could not be reached.

    The fuel mix: Balance matters

    “The most important part of Governor Brown’s proposal is that renewables increasingly will be seen as a means and low carbon electricity will be the end, rather than renewables being seen as an end,” explained Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) Executive Director V. John White.

    CEERT has studied California energy policy for over two decades and worked on the existing renewables mandate’s implementation. Most recently, the think tank has influenced Sacramento thinking through the California 2030 Low Carbon Grid Study, an independent analysis with input from NREL and others that CEERT has helped organize, staff, and fund.

    ”Until now, we have been buying renewables to comply with the RPS,” White said. “We didn’t think about the fit but almost exclusively about the cost. But there could be 50% renewables with no significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions [GHGs] if we have to build a bunch of gas plants to balance the load.”

    Because Brown’s plan is part of a strategy to meet 2030 and 2050 GHG reduction goals, it is likely to be implemented in a more integrated way, White explained. “From economic analyses of deep penetrations of renewables, we see the balance of the portfolio matters, both technologically and geographically.”

    In addition to continued growth in utility scale and distributed photovoltaic solar with battery storage, White foresees a continued wide mix of new renewables capacity. It will include wind, biomass, concentrating solar power projects with storage and grid-scale pumped hydro storage.

    Central solar versus distributed solar

    The mix of distributed solar and central solar in 2030’s 50% mix depends on how bold the decision makers at the CPUC and CEC choose to be, said Clean Power Finance Government Affairs VP James Tong.

    “If they want the easy way out, they will use 20th century techniques and pick more centralized generation," he told Utility Dive. "If they want to be bolder, distributed energy resources (DERs), including distributed solar, will have a stronger place in the mix.”

    Making that choice will be harder because “the evaluation criteria of the 20th century grid are outdated and understate both the value of DERs and the cost of centralized renewables,” Tong said. “DER technology is ready to take on the work of a 21st century grid but we haven’t created the regulatory construct.”

    An example is the lack of time of use (TOU) pricing, Tong explained. “Without TOU pricing, the value of smart devices is diminished so they are underutilized and everything about the distributed system is overpriced and that causes decision makers to think they need more 20th century centralized infrastructure.”

    Challenges

    Implementing this policy will take time and require innovation, institutional changes, market design changes, rate design changes, and procurement changes, White concurred, but there are no economic or technical barriers to achieving 50% renewables.

    “There will be healthy competition between the renewables and that is good for a state as big as California that is blessed with so many renewable resources,” said California Solar Energy Industries Association Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro. “But 50% is a big number and allows room for everybody.”

    Rooftop solar now stands shoulder to shoulder with large scale renewables and will play an ever bigger role in getting to 50%, Del Chiaro said. “There are 15 years to get in place the policies and the investments needed to bring technologies like storage and smart inverters to scale. We have to start today and that is happening. There are proceedings open at the CPUC on how to do these things.”

    “We are thrilled for two reasons,” said California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) President Nancy Rader of the Brown proposal. “One is because we have a number and a date and that makes it easier for people who make investment decisions.

    The other is because administration officials have said we should be more focused on emissions than on renewables but the Governor put out a very specific renewables target.”

    Based on CEERT’s study and CalWEA’s deconstruction of the E3 study, Rader believes the 50% goal is achievable and that California will require 10 gigawatts of new wind to meet the policy. “The utilities imposed the assumption on E3 that they would procure mostly solar,” Rader explained. “But it is clear we need large quantities of wind to balance solar’s narrow midday output and, especially with storage, higher cost.”

    Rader’s biggest concern is that a draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) study too severely limits the areas where that much wind can be developed.

    The DRECP does provide for adequate renewables development, Wisland recently wrote.

    If there are shortfalls in California wind development, White said, wind can be imported cost-effectively from Wyoming and New Mexico. Rader argues that would transfer part of the economic benefit of the new renewables mandate out of California.

    “We are at the base camp for the next climb up the mountain and Governor Brown has lifted our eyes to the higher horizon and said, ‘We can go there. Let’s go,’” White said. “We are ready but we have to get our boots on and navigate some tough territory.”

    QUICK NEWS, April 29: THE INEVITABILITY OF SOLAR; MICHIGAN TURNS TO WIND; DEMAND RESPONSE MRKT – $0.2BIL TO $1.3BIL IN 10 YRS

    THE INEVITABILITY OF SOLAR A solar future isn't just likely — it's inevitable

    David Roberts, April 28, 2015 (Vox)

    “…[S]olar photovoltaic (PV) power is eventually going to dominate global energy. The question is not if, but when…The main reason is pretty simple: solar PV is different from every other source of electricity, in ways that make it uniquely well-suited to 21st-century needs…[including] abundance, resilience, and sustainability…Coal plants, gas plants, nuclear plants, and concentrated solar power plants are all just different ways of boiling water to produce steam that spins a turbine. Wind power harnesses the wind to spin a turbine. Hydropower dams use flowing water to crank a turbine. These spinning turbines, in turn, provide mechanical force to an electric generator, which translates it into electrical current…[Solar PV] converts sunlight directly into electricity…[A] solar cell has no moving parts, so operation and maintenance costs tend to be very low. It has to be kept clean, but that's about it…[A] solar cell requires no fuel — so fuel costs are zero…[And] a solar cell generates power without any pollution…” click here for more

    MICHIGAN TURNS TO WIND What's next for Michigan's energy transformation?

    Keith Matheny, April 25, 2015 Detroit Free Press

    “…Michigan this year met a goal, set in state law in 2008, to generate 10% of its power from renewable sources...Gov. Rick Snyder in March laid out a renewable energy plan calling for the state to meet up to 40% of its power needs through energy waste reduction, increased use of natural gas and renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass…Wind surpassed biomass as the state's primary renewable energy resource last year, with the state in the top five nationally for adding capacity…Michigan's 20 utility-scale wind farms and total capacity of more than 1,500 megawatts place it 18th among U.S. states for wind energy generation. Michigan's wind resource has the potential to produce…nearly five times Michigan's entire 2012 electricity demand…[The state is] in the midst of a significant shift away from coal, spurred largely by federal mandates…Michigan is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 31% over 2012 levels…Snyder projected a reduction in coal-produced energy in Michigan from 54% now to 34% in 10 years. The power plants are largely transitioning to natural gas…But natural gas also comes with concerns. It's moved around the state in a pipeline system that is old and crumbling…” click here for more

    DEMAND RESPONSE MRKT – $0.2BIL TO $1.3BIL IN 10 YRS Demand Response Enabling Technologies; Metering, Communications, and Controls Equipment: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    2Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “Demand response (DR) is becoming a growing part of the resource base that electric system operators rely on to maintain reliability on the grid…Advanced technologies [like automated demand response (ADR) systems] can help speed this transition…A number of drivers point toward increased DR adoption in North America and other regions of the world. The changing resource mix in electric grids globally is creating more potential for DR to play a pivotal role. New market types, like ancillary services such as reserves and regulation, are opening up to DR. The concepts of resiliency and microgrids have taken strong root along the Atlantic Coast following Hurricane in 2012, and DR will be an integral part of those developments. The advent of grid modernization is also tied to this new view on how the grid should be designed. According to Navigant Research, global DR spending is expected to grow from $183.8 million in 2015 to more than $1.3 billion in 2024…” click here for more

    Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: TOWARD MORE EFFECTIVE TRANSMISSION PLANNING

    Toward More Effective Transmission Planning: Addressing the Costs and Risks of an Insufficiently Flexible Electricity Grid

    Johannes Pfeifenberger, Judy Chang, Akarsh Sheilendranath, April 22, 2015 (Brattle Group/WIRES)

    Executive Summary

    This study, commissioned by WIRES,1 is a continuation of the ongoing efforts to assess transmission planning processes in the United States, to diagnose critical deficiencies, and to recommend improvements. The analysis focuses on the effectiveness of current and proposed planning practices in identifying the most valuable regional and interregional transmission investments. In doing so, it identifies three principal deficiencies that will lead to ineffective or insufficient infrastructure investments and could leave the North American electricity markets exposed to higher risks and higher overall costs. The three principal deficiencies are:

    • Planners and policy makers do not account for the high costs and risks of an insufficiently robust and insufficiently flexible transmission infrastructure on electricity consumers and the risk-mitigation value of transmission investments to reduce costs under potential future stresses.

    • Planners and policy makers do not consider the full range of benefits that transmission investments can provide and thus understate the expected value of such projects.

    • The interregional planning processes are ineffective and are generally unable to identify valuable transmission investments that would benefit two or more regions.

    These deficiencies collectively create significant barriers to developing the most valuable and cost effective regional and interregional transmission projects and infrastructure. If not addressed, these deficiencies will lead to: (a) underinvestment in transmission that leads to higher overall costs; (b) lost opportunities to identify and select alternative infrastructure solutions that are lower-cost or higher-value in the long term than the projects proposed by planners; and (c) an insufficiently robust and flexible grid that exposes customers and other market participants to higher costs and higher risk of price spikes.

    The case studies in this report show that challenging and extreme conditions regularly occur on the power system and that a more robust and more flexible transmission network can help to mitigate the high-cost impacts of those conditions. A more flexible grid also reduces the cost of addressing the unprecedented long-term uncertainties faced by the industry today.

    From this perspective, today’s planning processes are anything but “conservative”—a term often used to describe planning analyses that err on the side of discounting the benefits of transmission investments, particularly in light of the significant long-term uncertainties. The study shows that today’s “conservative” approach actually exposes customers and other market participants to greater risks and costs because by understating the benefits of and risks addressed by transmission, valuable investments in transmission facilities are either not made or delayed. In an industry where it can take a decade to plan, permit, and build major new transmission infrastructure, further delaying investment by understating transmission-related benefits can easily result in a higher-cost, higher risk outcome that is exactly the opposite of the goals of “conservative” planning.

    Policy makers, including industry regulators, play a key role in influencing the scope of regional and interregional transmission planning efforts. In an effort to improve regional and interregional planning processes, the authors thus recommend that state and federal policy makers encourage transmission planners to pay more attention to the transformation that our power system is undergoing, the risks and costs associated with challenging and extreme market conditions, and the ability of a more robust, flexible transmission infrastructure to reduce the costs and risks of delivering power to consumers. To do so, the report recommends that policy makers:

    1. Resist making the assumption that less transmission investment is always a lower-cost solution. Instead, policy makers should request that planners move from “conservatively” estimating transmission-related benefits to recognizing the full spectrum of benefits that transmission infrastructure investments can provide, including how having a more robust and flexible grid can insure customers and other market participants against the high costs and risks of unexpected events and long-term changes and uncertainties in market and policy conditions.

    2. Urge planners to move from “least regrets” transmission planning that identifies only those projects that are beneficial under most circumstances to also considering the potential “regrettable circumstances” that could result in very high-cost outcomes because of inadequate infrastructure. Stating it in terms of providing insurance value: planners should move from focusing on the cost of insurance to considering the cost of not having insurance when it is needed.

    3. Urge transmission planners to move from compartmentalizing projects into “reliability,” “economic,” and “public policy” projects to considering the multiple values provided by all transmission investments.

    Regarding interregional planning processes, state and federal policy makers should urge planners to:

    4. Expand interregional planning processes to allow for the evaluation of projects that address different needs in different regions, recognizing that most interregional transmission projects offer a wide range of economic, reliability, and public policy benefits and that the type and magnitude of these benefits can differ across inter-connecting regions.

    5. Refrain from resorting to “least common denominator” approaches to interregional planning that consider only a subset of the benefits recognized in the individual regions. Instead, require that every region, at a minimum, consider in its evaluation of interregional transmission projects all project types and all project benefits that are already considered within its regional planning process.

    6. Go beyond the benefits evaluated in their individual regions to:

    a. Consider the combined set of benefit metrics from all interconnected regions, even if some of the benefit metrics from other regions are not yet used in some of the regions’ planning processes; and

    b. Consider the unique additional values offered by interregional transmission projects, such as increased wheeling revenues or reserve sharing benefits that interregional transmission investments can provide.

    7. Apply benefit-to-cost thresholds to interregional projects that are no more stringent than those applied within each region.

    The report specifically notes the obvious: not all proposed transmission projects are justifiable economically nor should they be built. Rather than simply trying to build as much transmission as is justifiable under current planning standards, the emphasis of policy makers and planners should be to identify and invest in the most valuable, economically-beneficial bulk power infrastructure. This requires that the full benefit of transmission investments is recognized and that so-called “nontransmission alternatives” and means to more efficiently utilize existing infrastructure are evaluated as well.

    Given the increased regulatory and environmental uncertainties facing the electricity industry today, the industry needs to start planning more actively in anticipation of possible future outcomes. Otherwise, time constraints on implementing solutions will leave the industry with fewer options that will make it more costly and more risky to address the challenges ahead. It is consequently important to identify the investments that provide the most benefit with the aim of reducing the overall costs and mitigating the risks faced by electricity consumers and other market participants over both the short- and long-term.

    The risks and costs of inadequate infrastructure typically are not quantified but can be much greater than the costs of the necessary transmission investments. The authors therefore urge federal and state policy makers to ensure that planning processes include an assessment and documentation of those risks and costs. With an informed understanding and appreciation of those costs and risks, regions will be in a better position to plan a transmission infrastructure that can better protect market participants against these risks. Because leaving out or discounting the potential costs and risks of not having a sufficiently robust and flexible grid can significant increase overall electricity cost for consumers and other market participants, the report encourages policy makers to fully examine the issues discussed in this report and consider the specific recommendations as providing a path toward more effective transmission planning.

    QUICK NEWS, April 28: THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY SHARED SOLAR; FIRST U.S. OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT BEGINS CONSTRUCTION; $102 BIL ROBOT CAR MRKT BY 2030

    THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY SHARED SOLAR NREL Report Estimates Market Potential of Shared Solar and Discusses Relevant Securities Regulations

    April 27, 2015 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    “Analysis from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) finds that by making shared solar programs available to households and businesses that currently cannot host on-site photovoltaic (PV) systems shared solar could represent 32 to 49 percent of the distributed photovoltaic market in 2020…Shared solar models allocate the electricity of a jointly owned or leased system to offset individual consumers' electricity bills, allowing energy consumers to share the benefits of a single solar array…[explains] Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation…At least 49 percent of U.S. households and 48 percent of businesses are currently unable to host a PV system when excluding residential renters, those without access to roof space (e.g., multi-unit housing, malls), and/or those living or working in buildings with insufficient roof space. There are several factors, including easier and less restrictive participation and economies of scale, that may cause shared solar deployment to be significantly higher than these estimates…[S]hared solar could lead to cumulative U.S. PV deployment growth of 5.5-11.0 gigawatts between 2015 and 2020 and represent $8.2 to $16.3 billion of cumulative investment…” click here for more

    FIRST U.S. OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT BEGINS CONSTRUCTION Deepwater Breaks Ground on America’s First Offshore Wind Project; Block Island Wind Farm to Cut Electricity Rates for Residents by 40 percent

    April 27, 2015 Sierra Club

    Deepwater Wind broke ground on the first U.S. offshore wind project on Monday, the five turbine, 30 MW installation off Rhode Island’s Block Island. Construction, which will create an estimated 300 jobs, is expected to be finished by the end of 2016. The Block Island project, proposed in 2009, has a power purchase agreement with National Grid. The turbines will provide electricity to all the island’s homes and businesses in place of diesel generators. Excess generation will go into the mainland grid via a new undersea cable. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has designated an area off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts for wind development that has a 9,000 MW potential and could create 43,000 New England jobs. There were about 7 GW of offshore wind installed globally at the end of 2014, most in Europe, where 6.6 GW were in construction and development…DOE funding for offshore wind has been substantial but hasn’t broken the U.S. logjam. None of the other 14 projects in development, representing 4.9 GW of capacity, have started construction. click here for more

    $102 BIL ROBOT CAR MRKT BY 2030 The $102 Billion Opportunity for Automation in Cars

    Sensors, software and apps will benefit from greater automation of cars, even as full ‘self-driving’ capabilities remain mostly over the horizon through 2030, says Lux Research

    April 28, 2015 (Lux Research)

    “Advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) will have a $102 billion opportunity by 2030, up from a mere $2.4 billion today, as carmakers rush to add automation features…Sensors will account for 23% of the opportunity, while the connectivity and apps segment takes a higher 28% share; software to coordinate sensor fusion and enable critical safety operations will claim a 25% share…Cars with basic driver- assist features, like parking assist, will cash in early, with a potential $29.6 billion market by 2022…[Enhanced] features such as adaptive cruise control and lane merge offers the largest opportunity to automakers and tier-one manufacturers – worth $73 billion in 2030…Partial autonomy features – like self-driving on the highway – will be slow to roll out over the next 10 years, before growing to a $22.7 billion opportunity by 2030. In the most likely case, fully autonomous cars will not hit the market before 2030, largely because of regulations and a current lack of prototypes…Enhanced driver-assist features will add $527 to the price of new cars in 2020, and a lower $481 per car in 2030…” click here for more

    Monday, April 27, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: HOW THE OBAMA EMISSIONS CUTTING PLAN CAN PROTECT SAFE ELECTRICITY DELIVERY

    Potential Reliability Impacts of EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan Phase I

    April 2015 (North American Reliability Council)

    Executive Summary

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its proposed Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units on June 2, 2014, commonly referred to as the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP). The proposed rule is issued under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act and establishes limits on CO2 emissions for existing electric generation facilities. The proposed rule is currently anticipated to be finalized during summer 2015.

    In its role as the Electric Reliability Organization in the United States, NERC has responsibility under Section 215 of the Federal Power Act to conduct periodic assessments of the reliability and adequacy of the nation’s bulk power system (BPS)—the high-voltage transmission and generation system (as opposed to local distribution facilities). NERC’s single focus is BPS reliability. NERC fulfills its responsibility in the public interest through conservative analyses and assessments that highlight reliability risks resulting from various possible future circumstances, given the severe consequences of an operationally unreliable or inadequate BPS for public health, safety and well-being, and our nation’s economy and security.

    On August 14, 2014, NERC’s Board of Trustees directed NERC staff to develop a series of special reliability assessments to examine the potential risks to reliability that may arise from the implementation of the CPP rule and potentially accelerate the transformation of the resource mix in North America. NERC began development of this series of reports with its Initial Reliability Review,4 published in November 2014, which examined the approach outlined in the proposed CPP and provided a high-level view of potential reliability risks.

    NERC maintains a reliability-centered focus on the potential implications of environmental regulations and other shifts in policies that can impact the reliability of the BPS. Reliability assessments conducted while the EPA is finalizing the CPP can inform regulators, state officials, public utility commissioners, electric industry leaders, and other stakeholders of potential resource adequacy concerns, impacts to system characteristics (such as the straining of essential reliability services (ERSs)), and areas that may require transmission enhancements to ensure reliability.

    This report is NERC’s Phase I special assessment. It provides an analysis of scenarios and identifies the potential risks to reliability resulting from the resource transformation called for in the proposed CPP. This assessment and its findings do not: (1) advocate a policy position in regard to the environmental objectives of the proposed CPP; (2) promote any specific compliance approach; (3) advocate any policy position for a utility, generation facility owner, or other organization to adopt as part of compliance, reliability, or planning responsibilities; (4) support the policy goals of any particular stakeholder or interests of any particular organization; (5) represent a final and conclusive reliability assessment; or (6) represent an actual system expansion plan.

    NERC’s Phase I assessment consists of a three-part analysis: (1) a scenario and sensitivity analysis driven by gas prices and state or regional implementation approaches to identify resource adequacy and the range of potential timelines associated with reliability reinforcement needed to meet CPP requirements; (2) a transmission adequacy analysis to determine a comparable range of transmission needs along with lead times required to build that transmission (natural gas pipeline reinforcements are also examined); and (3) summaries of existing studies by NERC reliability authorities (such as Reliability Coordinators, Transmission Planners and Operators, and Regional Reliability Organizations) related to the potential impacts of the CPP rule, with a focus on the relevant reliability impacts. NERC leveraged key information from these studies to identify cumulative impacts on a region-wide or interconnection-wide basis. Throughout this special assessment, a stakeholder advisory group formed by the NERC Planning Committee provided advice, input, and vetting of the underlying assumptions and publicly available data.

    Goals and Objectives

    The goals and objectives of this assessment are to: • Provide a resource and transmission adequacy evaluation given a number of potential scenarios that are driven by gas prices and state (as well as potential regional) implementation plans using different models to understand possible outcomes. • Identify potential reliability risks and implications resulting from the projected resource mix changes to ERS characteristics, the increase in variable resources, the concentration of resources by fuel type (especially natural gas), the impacts on transmission requirements due to increased and potentially large power transfers, and other reliability characteristics, including Regional Entity planning reserve margins. • Determine potential lead-time constraints associated with the electric and gas infrastructure enhancements needed to support the implementation of the proposed CPP. • Assess industry analysis and studies from NERC reliability authorities (such as Transmission Planners and Operators and Reliability and Planning Coordinators) to determine if unique reliability issues may occur as a result of implementing the CPP requirements. • Provide an independent assessment of reliability that informs policy discussions on risks to BPS reliability and related emerging issues.

    Qualification

    Significant uncertainty remains in the parameters of the final CPP rule, including compliance timeline flexibility; CO2 targets and target calculation modifications; determination of whether groups of states (in addition to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states5) are able to coordinate to develop timely regional plans; details and coordination of the specific state implementation plans; federal model implementation plans or regional implementation plans; impacts of state selection of mass-based or rate-based limits; inclusion of regulatory reliability assurance mechanisms within the rule, etc. NERC recognizes that changes to any one of these parameters will have an effect on the analysis and results presented herein. As these uncertainties are resolved, further reliability impact analyses and assessments will be necessary to assess potential reliability implications.

    Notably, the approach to formulate internally consistent assumptions, which are then formed into key scenarios, is designed to provide benchmarks and guidance about potential reliability implications during the implementation of the CPP rule. The model results illustrate potential scenarios and outcomes at a specific point in time based on input assumptions also applicable to a specific point in time. Therefore, the results are representative of a range of potential outcomes used to assess potential reliability impacts, but may not be indicative of what will necessarily happen as other modeling based on different decisions or changes to the proposed rule would alter the results.

    NERC’s modeling is designed to mathematically solve for lowest cost options. It was conducted with the premise that new utility-scale generation will be constructed to replace existing generation and meet electricity demand in the future. From NERC’s perspective, the path to achieve the significant reductions in CO2 emissions is through resource mix changes on the BPS. NERC’s modeling is a conservative approach that does not rely on new technologies that are not yet widely integrated into the BPS or major changes in consumer choices and behaviors; however, NERC recognizes that significant additional conservation and distributed generation would have an impact on the results.

    Assessment Approach NERC focused on providing insight and guidance about potential reliability aspects from implementing the proposed CPP and specifically did not assess effectiveness, desirability, or optimal alternative CO2 reduction methods. NERC’s role is to evaluate the composite framework of plans and implementation changes that can potentially impact the BPS, using technically sound long-term, seasonal, and special reliability assessments and known parameters, assumptions, scenarios, engineering judgment, and practicality based on historical performance. For its resource adequacy analysis, NERC used two generator dispatch models: AURORAxmp and IPM.6 For its transmission adequacy analysis, NERC used the static power flow models for the Eastern and Western Interconnections.

    NERC retained three consultants to employ resources and transmission planning models to develop scenario results based on NERC’s input assumptions. The findings and conclusions are based on the independent analysis of NERC’s Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis staff.

    Key Findings

    A transformative shift in resource use (or energy) leads to the need for transmission and gas infrastructure reinforcements, which will require additional time beyond currently proposed targets. This transformative change in the reliability characteristics of the resources supplying bulk power electricity places much greater emphasis on the need for adequate ERSs to be in place. The following key findings are components of NERC’s overall assessment: 1. Consistent with NERC’s Initial Reliability Review, the proposed CPP is expected to accelerate a fundamental change in electricity generation mix in the United States and transform grid-level reliability services, diversity, and flexibility. The anticipated changes in the generation mix and modified dispatch of resources driven by the proposed CPP will require comprehensive reliability analysis to identify grid-level reliability needs to accommodate the resource mix and flexibility requirements. Generating resource changes that are already underway would be accelerated by the implementation of the CPP and are prompting the need for much greater understanding of the ERSs (e.g., frequency response, voltage support, and ramping capability) needed to support BPS reliability. Implementation of the CPP would accelerate an ongoing fundamental shift in the generation resource mix toward greater use of gas and renewables, which presents reliability challenges as new resources have different ERS characteristics than the current generation fleet. For example, the reliability characteristics of a synchronous coal-fired steam turbine vary greatly from those of asynchronous, inverter-based machines.

    Importantly, this transformation introduces changes to operations and expected behaviors of the system.

    Finally, extensive power system studies and planning analysis need to occur to address expected changes in power flows and large multi-regional transfers. The power flow changes represented in NERC’s analysis demonstrate the continued evolution of resource deployment and use of renewable and natural gas generation. Over the next several years, these resource changes will require more transmission to integrate the new resources, meet increasing electricity demand, and enable new exports and imports to accommodate a new resource mix. Consistent with NERC’s conclusion in its overall assessments, power flow changes represent a significant planning and operational challenge, and sufficient time and coordination is needed to determine region-specific solutions. 2. Industry needs more time to develop coordinated plans to address shifts in generation and corresponding transmission reinforcements to address proposed CPP CO2 interim and other emission targets.

    NERC’s evaluations of the potential reliability implications of the proposed CPP and associated implementation plans by state or regional groups have identified fundamental changes in both the electric generation mix and corresponding transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure needed to accommodate these changes. Multi-regional and entity coordination is necessary to accommodate the long lead times for electric infrastructure and to ensure reliability during the implementation periods. A coordinated process not only ensures that stakeholders and consumers are provided sufficient time to review and respond to changes to the electricity grid, but it would also take into consideration NERC’s mandatory Reliability Standards and FERC orders on operation and planning coordination (such as FERC Order 10007).

    Geographic and resource diversity and a complex regulatory environment present challenges to the longterm development of electric power infrastructure. The time required for new facilities to be developed and placed in service may likely exceed the CPP’s proposed compliance targets. Because the industry will be implementing plans simultaneously, it is uncertain whether adequate equipment (e.g., generators, solar panels, wind facilities, transformers, and conductors) and resources (e.g., engineering, procurement, and construction) will be available to support those plans.

    The interim target date within the EPA’s CPP proposal requires notable reductions of CO2 (approximately 80 percent of the total reductions) by 2020. It is likely that infrastructure to support the required interim reduction in CO2 emissions at this pace will not be in service by 2020 for the following reasons:

    Generation: Between 2015 and 2020, over 33.5 GW of generation capacity (e.g., coal, oil, gas, and nuclear) is expected to retire, based on NERC’s Reference Case from the 2014 Long-Term Reliability Assessment (2014LTRA). An additional 7 GW is expected to retire between 2021 and 2025. In NERC’s modeling of the CPP, State and Regional Cases yielded approximately 43 GW and 41 GW of retirements, respectively, between 2016 and 2020. Between 2020 and 2030, State and Regional Cases yielded an additional 42 GW and 44 GW of retirements, respectively. While replacement capacity may be able to repower coal to gas generation, others will require greenfield development, which on average will take between four and five years. From a Regional Entity perspective, areas with the greatest amount of resource retirements are ERCOT, SPP, NPCC, and MISO, with approximately 10, 7, 11, and 9 GW of retirements, respectively, between 2016 and 2020. Approximately 35 GW of non-hydro renewable energy (i.e., mostly wind and solar) is added due to the proposed CPP in all scenario results, in addition to planned variable energy resources (VERs).

    Transmission: Based on NERC’s analysis, transmission-deficient areas have been identified. On average, transmission projects require between six and 15 years to engineer, site, permit, and construct, depending highly on the geography, length, and voltage class. From a Regional Entity perspective, areas needing the most transmission reinforcements are located in RF, NPCC, and the southwest area of WECC. As part of NERC’s CPP Phase I study, NERC requested information from industry on new generation and transmission facility construction lead times. The results represent perspectives from 110 different transmission and generation companies on timing requirements for additional new transmission and generation capacity. 3. Implementation plans may change the use of the remaining coal-fired generating fleet from baseload to seasonal peaking, potentially eroding plant economics and operating feasibility. A significant finding of the analysis points to an expected shift of existing coal-fired generation from baseload to seasonal peaking operations. According to NERC’s modeling analysis, between 14 and 22 GW of coal generation resources remain online through 2030; however, these units are considered at risk of retiring due to the plant economics associated with operating the units infrequently. To operate this capacity on a seasonal peaking basis, the approximate capacity factors—a measure of their utilization— would average between 11 and 19 percent after 2020. As capacity factors decline and operational functions transition from baseload to cycling, or peaking operations, maintenance and fixed costs to support a plant’s operation rise significantly.

    Based on industry experience, very low capacity factors for traditionally baseloaded plants will significantly increase overall costs due to required upgrades, repairs, staffing needs, and expected increased forced-outage rates. Under these conditions, the eroding plant economics of such generation resources renders their continued operation at risk and subject to potential retirement. In a wholesale electricity market structure, generators may need additional incentives (e.g., capacity payments) to keep low capacity factor fossil generation economic and in service. 4. Energy and capacity will shift to gas-fired generation, requiring additional infrastructure and pipeline capacity. The implementation of the CPP final rule is expected to accelerate an ongoing shift toward greater use of natural-gas-fired generation. Increased dependence on natural gas use will require pipeline capacity, particularly during the winter season when natural gas use for electric power competes with residential heating. Approximately 60 GW of additional gas-fired capacity is estimated to be in service by 2020, and approximately 80 GW by 2030. The additional capacity plus the higher use of gas-fired generation is expected to increase gas demand in the United States from 39 Bcf/d to 50 Bcf/d—an increase of approximately 30 percent. Local and regional pipeline infrastructure will be needed to relieve pipeline constraints and fuel firming for the electric industry.

    Recommendations

    1. NERC should continue to update and expand the assessments of the reliability implications of the proposed CPP and provide independent evaluations to stakeholders, states, regulators, and policy makers. NERC should continue to conduct a phased assessment strategy, recognizing that the proposed rule is not yet final and may change. These assessments will continue to provide insight and guidance as the CPP rule is finalized and state, regional, and federal implementation plans begin to materialize.

    2. Coordinated regional and multi-regional industry planning and analysis groups should continue to conduct detailed system evaluations to identify areas of reliability concern and work in partnership with states, regions, and policy makers to provide clear guidance of the complex interdependencies resulting from the CPP rule’s implementation.

    3. Policy makers, states, regions, and regulators (including the EPA) should develop implementation plans that allow for more time to address potential BPS reliability risks and infrastructure deployment requirements during the transition period.

    4. The EPA should include a formal reliability assurance mechanism in the final rule that provides the regulatory certainty and explicit recognition of the need to ensure reliability during both the plan development and the implementation period through 2030—and potentially beyond. NERC has outlined a specific series of roles for providing reliability guidance and independent assessments, in the form of a reliability assurance mechanism.

    5. State and regional plans should be developed in consultation with reliability authorities—Planning Coordinators and Transmission Planners—to review plans and demonstrate their reliability through established planning analyses and processes.

    QUICK NEWS, April 27: THE POPE’S CLIMATE CHANGE MOVE; FIRST SOLAR GOES INTO COMMUNITY SOLAR; WHAT WIND CAN DO

    THE POPE’S CLIMATE CHANGE MOVE Pope Francis poised to weigh in on climate change with major document

    Michael Boorstein, April 27, 2015 (Washington Post)

    “…[Pope Francis] is putting the final touches on what may be the most authoritative papal teaching ever on the environment, a topic bound up with economics, global development and politics and thus very controversial. Even though no one outside Francis’s inner circle has seen the document — called an encyclical — it’s already being lambasted by some religious and political conservatives and held up by environmentalists as a potential turning point in their movement…The encyclical is expected to be published in early summer and, church historians say, represents the first time in memory that such an important papal writing is being timed by a pope to influence a civil process — in this case, a major U.N. summit in December on climate change…[M]ost pope-watchers think Francis will raise urgent concerns about global warming and highlight human impact on climate change. More broadly, they expect Francis to frame with new emphasis the Earth’s health as a core Catholic social justice concern, up there with topics such as poverty and abortion…[Still unknown] is how, specifically, Francis will urge his church to respond…” click here for more

    FIRST SOLAR GOES INTO COMMUNITY SOLAR First Solar Set To Exploit The Changes In Distributed Generation Solar Industry

    Casual Analyst, April 23, 2015 (Seeking Alpha)

    “...First Solar, with its investment through Community Solar market leader CEC, is set to become an increasingly important DG player starting 2015…[Utility scale installations can be] deployed at below $1.50 a watt…[Residential rooftop solar is] being deployed at above $4 a watt by companies like] SolarCity and Vivint Solar…The current residential deployment, however, is unsuited to all but a limited set of potential US solar customers…The answer in many cases is alternative solar deployments such as community solar, microgrids, and nanogrids. These solutions are not limited by rooftop space, shading, and other factors that limit the scope of current residential and commercial solar deployments. Given the potential scale benefit of these projects, they are likely to have far superior economics compared to hosting a solar system on a rooftop. Larger community installations may even have a cost structure closer to that of utility solar and consequently, these deployments have the potential to offer cost effective alternatives…” click here for more

    WHAT WIND CAN DO Wind Energy’s Role

    Michael Goggin, April 23, 2015 (NY Times)

    “Wind energy plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions while minimizing [water use and] land use. Wind turbines provide high ¬density energy production, as typically only 1 to 2 percent of the land within a wind plant is occupied by turbines, roads and electrical substations. The rest can be used for its original purposes; for example, farmers and ranchers benefit from wind lease payments while continuing to work the land around the turbines. A recent Energy Department report calculated that supplying 35 percent of America’s electricity from wind would use less land than just a third of our golf courses. Moreover, other energy sources consume fuel that must be continually mined or drilled, devouring new land over time, while wind plants produce energy from the same land in perpetuity. Most important, United States wind energy reduced carbon pollution by 125 million metric tons in 2014, the equivalent yearly emissions of 26 million cars. As the lowest cost zero¬ emission energy source, wind energy must play a critical role in tackling the most pressing challenge facing all of Earth’s lands: climate change.” click here for more

    Saturday, April 25, 2015

    Jon Stewart Celebrates Earth Day

    And Oklahoma celebrates the joy of fracking. It works well "except for the earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater." From Comedy Central

    A Climate Scientist’s Fight

    This scientist-hero has prevailed and persisted in his personal fight to speak truth to power. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    This Is Happening. Now.

    This is Siberia, where there is evidence the methane is coming out of the permafrost. From Vladislav Igorevich via YouTube

    Friday, April 24, 2015

    GLOBAL BANKING GIANT SEES WORLD HEATING UP

    HSBC Notes Global Warming Trends In Quantitative Fashion; On a quantitative basis, temperatures are warming, global warming damage is getting more expensive, HSBC report observes

    Mark Melin, April 23, 2015 (Value Walk)

    “…Reviewing the modeling that scientists are working with…[leads] to predictions the unusual climate swings currently being seen are part of a larger trend that isn’t abating [according to HSBC Holdings Global Research]…Damage from severe weather events is growing to now total $300 billion per year, up from less than $1 billion in the 1950s …[and driving the trend is] a change in the returns distribution model…Thinking in financial terms, HSBC’s analysts considered the shape of returns distribution and note that the distribution of temperature is significantly changing…The black line in chart 1, for instance, demonstrates during the 1950s only 1 percent of Northern Hemisphere land area was subject to temperature swings three standard deviations above the baseline average. In the current era, that equivalent land area impacted increased to 10 percent…” click here for more

    FRENCH NEW ENERGY CAN BEAT ITS NUKES

    French government study: 95% renewable mix cheaper than nuclear and gas

    Terje Osmundsen, 24 April 2015

    “…It used to be the visionaries and the NGOs who talked about a 100% renewable future, but now leading number-crunchers and energy experts are joining the chorus. In California, the government energy regulator were recently quoted saying that California’s power grid could handle 100% renewables…New studies have been released showing the US can get to 100% renewables by 2050, at marginal extra cost…[Release of Vers un mix électrique 100% renouvable en 2050 from ADEME (French Agency for Environment and Energy Management) was postponed while the French government was pushing] an electricity mix with 50 % nuclear, down from 75% today…[But it was leaked and it] demonstrates that a 100% renewable power system in France is both possible and economically attractive…The cost to the consumer of the 100% renewable scenario is more or less equal to a scenario close to today’s, with only 40% renewables…[because while] the cost of wind and solar continue to fall, the cost of natural gas including CO2 will rise steadily…[and] nuclear is becoming more expensive, primarily due to the new safety regulations…” click here for more

    CHINA'S ANSWER TO TESLA

    Executive Shows China’s First Home-Grown Electric Sports Car; Effort looks to capitalize on the nation’s support for vehicles that don’t add to air pollution

    Colum Murphy, April 22, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)

    “…Electric cars are enticing because the Chinese government has pledged substantial support for their development to address air pollution produced by conventional-engine vehicles. China also hopes adoption of electric cars will bolster energy security by reducing dependency on imported gasoline…[ CH-Auto Technology Co.] is planning the country’s first battery-powered sports car that is cheaper than imported European gasoline-engine roadsters…[It] would go into production in late 2016 and challenge similar models from much bigger foreign companies…CH-Auto Technology Co. has a track record. It has designed gasoline-powered cars for Chinese manufacturers…[Aston Martin. Tesla, and Toyota] have big plans to expand electric-car sales here…Sales of electric vehicles in China rose to 18,000 units last year, quadruple the number in 2013…But success for electric-car makers in China—including Tesla—remains elusive…Challenges include the high price of most electric vehicles, as well as difficulty in developing infrastructure such as charging stations for a nation as vast as China…[CH-Auto’s] solution is to give customers a reason to buy an electric vehicle, which is where sports cars—already high-ticket items popular with wealthy Chinese—come in…” click here for more

    SO. AFRICA LOOKS TO SOLAR

    S. Africa’s Power Crisis Sparks Interest in Solar Power

    Darren Taylor, April 23, 2015 (Voice of Africa)

    “South Africa is enduring an unprecedented power generation crisis. Electricity blackouts continue across the country as its power monopoly, Eskom, plunges deeper into chaos…As winter begins to bite, South Africa is bracing for widespread electricity outages, and demand for alternative sources of energy is spiking…[Until recently harvesting power from the sun was regarded as the ‘domain of lunatic greenies’…[But] regular blackouts mean more South Africans are embracing [sun-charged products like a] portable parabolic cooker…[that looks like a big, shiny TV satellite dish…The sunlight is so hot that…[a piece of cardboard in its beam]flames within seconds…[A ‘mini solar home system’ of photovoltaic solar panels can] charge a small battery when left in the sun for a while…[that provides six or seven brilliant lights that light up a house and allow kids to do homework and a solar lantern - phone charger combination with a radio can charge tablets or smart phones]…” click here for more

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

    CLIMATE CHANGE HITS WOMEN HARDEST

    Women will suffer the worst effects of climate change

    Sarah Milner-Barry, April 23, 2015 (Quartz)

    “…It is a particularly unpleasant reality of climate change—that those societies that have emitted the most greenhouse gases are not going to be the ones to bear the brunt of its destabilizing effects…What is often missed in these analyses and forecasts however, is the fact that women make up more than half of the world’s impoverished population…[and] will be more affected…The majority of these women work on the land, and are providers of food and water for their families. These practices are disrupted by obstructed access to natural resources caused by climatic changes—leaving women more susceptible to food insecurity than men, who are more able to work, and eat, outside the home…

    “…[Another particularly sobering finding was that after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004,] an average of 77% of the fatalities recorded were women, some of whom drowned as a result of not being taught how to swim…[S]tudies have shown that women are at increasingly greater risk of gender-based violence due to higher temperatures, and shortages of natural resources…[They also become] more vulnerable to domestic violence, and in the aftermath of disasters there has been a marked increase in the rates of sexual and domestic abuse towards women…This is not to say though that women in the developing world should be seen primarily as victims…There are countless examples of women in the world’s poorest communities who have recognized their specific vulnerabilities in these instances, and subsequently taken action…” click here for more

    WIRELESS EV CHARGING

    Finding an Easier Way to Charge Electric Vehicles

    Jim Motavalli, April 23, 2015 (NY Times)

    “…[Hevo Power] is working to create a home for electric vehicles in an environment that is inherently challenging to them. First, he and his team developed a wireless charger designed to look like an ordinary manhole cover and fit unobtrusively into the urban landscape. They are also working on what he calls a ‘green loading zone.’ Electric trucks simply drive up and recharge wirelessly while they are parked…[Hevo] plans to test the technology by the fall at New York University, on a groundskeeping vehicle. That day will be a long ¬awaited milestone for Hevo Power, which has been working on its products for several years…With vast numbers of apartment dwellers, New York, along with cities like Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, represents the promise, and the challenges, of what is a large, still ¬untapped market for electric vehicles…[Population density], as well as government bureaucracy, cold weather, the difficulty of curbside recharging on busy streets and the high cost of owning a vehicle in a city in general, makes running an electric car a challenge…” click here for more

    WIND COULD BE GREAT ON THE GREAT LAKES

    Six Wind Turbines Planned in Lake Erie

    April 22, 2015 (Channel 24/YouErie)

    “There's a plan to erect a half dozen giant wind turbines in Lake Erie, off the coast of Cleveland and Erie County is joining the Public Private Partnership working to make that happen…LEEDCo and Erie County now joins other lakefront municipalities in northeastern Ohio that endorse the plan…[W]ind energy creates opportunities not just to access clean energy, but to also be on the forefront of the economic opportunities offshore wind development can bring…The project in Cleveland is called the Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project and could be the first to put wind turbines in the Great Lakes.” click here for more

    THE CHANGE NEW ENERGY NEEDS

    Regulatory capture and the Arizona Corporation Commission

    Nancy LaPlaca, April 23, 2015 (Tucson Weekly)

    “The powerful giants of the fossil-fueled electricity system are facing choices to change their business models, as a result of two developments: Regulations to decrease carbon dioxide pollution, and price drops in solar energy allowing more ratepayers to install rooftop photovoltaic systems. However, many utility companies…[are] turning to regulators to protect their monopolies…[Regulatory capture] occurs when an agency created to act in the public interest and regulate an industry instead advances the interest of that business, resulting in policy outcomes that favor the regulated entity…The links between influential groups such as the corporate-funded bill-mill American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the utility industry, and the introduction and passage of anti-clean-energy legislation have been well documented…Some of the large corporate clients in ALEC are the electric utilities industry, coal, natural gas, and nuclear industries…The 100 year old U.S. regulatory system is showing its age, but…[o]nly the regulators and the utilities have enough access to the mechanisms of power to bring the change needed…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE NEW GUIDE TO THE NATION'S BEST SOLAR POLICIES — AND HOW TO EMULATE THEM

    The new guide to the nation's best solar policies — and how to emulate them; What works in one state won't necessarily work in another

    Herman K. Trabish, January 8, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    The best solar policy is the most specific solar policy, according to a new study of the most effective state solar regulations across the country.

    There's no one formula, but policies that match a state’s specific demographics and physical attributes can drive the residential rooftop solar market growth, a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) finds.

    “Every state has to tailor its policy to its own factors,” explained Elizabeth Doris, co-author of "The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets," the third in an NREL series highlighting good solar policy. “In terms of giving state policymakers information they can act on, that is the most important finding.”

    A second key insight is that, though the installed price of solar in the U.S. dropped almost 43% between 2007 and 2012, it is not dropping evenly or having the same impact across all states, Doris said.

    Only California, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Jersey grew more than one watt per person in installed capacity between 2006 and 2007 but, according to the paper, there were 27 states that grew that amount of installed capacity between 2011 and 2012. That means there were 23 states below that level of growth and 12 grew at less than a quarter of a watt per person.

    “If cost were the only major driver for PV capacity increases, all states should benefit,” the paper explains. But they didn’t, suggesting that costs “play a major role in capacity increases in many, but not all, states.”

    Every state, Doris said, “is different and special and changing.”

    The solar policy suite

    Tailoring a “policy suite” begins with key “foundational” policies. The first is allowing legal interconnection of rooftop solar with the grid. The second isvaluing excess generation, which typically is net metering but could be another calculation of solar’s costs and benefits. The third is a state renewables mandate that includes a specific requirement for distributed or rooftop or customer-owned solar.

    “If you have those three things, you will drive a market. It will develop,” Doris said. States with three to four best practice, foundational policies have typically created “robust solar markets,” the paper finds. But some states with quite similar policies get quite different markets. The “age and composition of policy suites are important,” the paper explains, but “policy effectiveness is influenced by background contextual factors.”

    Both Illinois and California have had “best practice foundational policy in place for a number of years and both have well-established favorable TPO (third party ownership) policy,” the paper reports. “But Illinois has been unsuccessful in establishing a robust market, while California’s solar market has thrived” because of “very different demographic and economic contexts.”

    Lifetime revenue potential

    To reflect the varying successes of comparable state policy suites, Doris and co-author Darlene Steward developed a “lifetime revenue potential from net metering” statistic. Because Illinois’s average electricity price and its solar potential are “significantly lower,” California’s lifetime revenue potential of $3.67 per watt is over 70% more than Illinois’s $2.13 per watt. The result is that California’s TPO policy is much more successful because “third-party owners are able to make a better business case in California,” the paper explains.

    “A lot of state policymakers will say ‘don’t tell me what they did in California’ and this shows they are right,” Doris said. “Illinois shouldn’t compare itself to California in policy because its context is so different. But Illinois does look like Pennsylvania and could learn from Pennsylvania’s policy profile.”

    Though Pennsylvania and Illinois have “similar demographic and economic contexts,” the paper explains, “a solar set-aside has helped Pennsylvania’s solar market despite a relatively unfavorable economic backdrop.”

    The unique case of the District of Columbia

    The District of Columbia’s policy experience may be the ideal demonstration of how to build a policy suite that drives a solar market, Doris said.

    D.C. instituted a renewables mandate with a solar set-aside in 2007 that produced some market growth in 2008. With the addition of net metering and interconnection policies in 2009, there was more growth. In 2010, TPO was instituted. “Growth skyrocketed,” Doris said.

    This is “a trend, not a fact” because there isn’t enough data to be conclusive, Doris said. Also, prices for solar dropped sharply in 2009, making it hard to separate out the effects of the two factors. “But the price drops aren’t the only thing going on,” she explained.

    Looking ahead

    As an historical review of policies that have worked, the paper is intended to give policymakers insights into what could work in the future.

    “We are seeing a lot of alternative policy options being floated,” Doris said. “Solar is at an inflection point. Any numbers you look at show tremendous growth and the whole market is trying to identify how to keep moving forward in a way that makes sense for the really wide variety of stakeholders, solar home generators, non-solar-owning utility customers, utilities, regulators, and state policymakers.”

    To get the many ancillary benefits of distributed generation, like economic growth, jobs, and grid stability, “we will have to try a lot of these different mechanisms to see what works,” Doris said. “And policymakers are going to have to start making more nuanced decisions.”