THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, March 21:
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
QUICK NEWS, October 31: The Halloweenishly Terrifying Flight Of Facts; The Wrong Price For Community Solar In Georgia; All About The Wind Boom
The Halloweenishly Terrifying Flight Of Facts Scariest thing on this Halloween is the demise of fact-based reality
David Horsey, October 30, 2017 (LA Times)
“…True or not, the things we fear are very likely to be the things that motivate us to vote for particular candidates…[I]f you fear global warming and people carrying guns in grocery stores, I can probably guess who you voted for in the 2016 presidential election, just as I could likely make an accurate prediction of your ballot behavior if you are someone who fears that federal agents will take your guns and immigrants will take your job…Voting is an emotional act that feels as if it is a rational choice.
"…[Fears that] the federal government is concocting so-called false flag events, like the Sandy Hook school shooting, or that every Muslim is capable of being turned into a terrorist…are preposterous falsehoods promoted by charlatans to elicit an emotional reaction that is susceptible to manipulation…[But it] is not irrational to worry about another economic meltdown caused by high rollers on Wall Street…[or] to have angst about random mass shootings…[or] to have some concern about a lunatic North Korean dictator…[or] to fear for the safety of your teenager…[It] is harder to predict, though, how those particular fears will drive your political choices.
"…Climate change is high on [my list of fears], although…this is more a fear for my children and grandchildren than for myself…I [also] fear that our ignorant, brash president and his chaotic administration will bungle foreign policy so badly that…America’s strength and global influence will wither…[But] the fear at the top of my list right now is that our democracy is being dangerously and permanently subverted…[by] Russian hackers, internet trolls, talk radio charlatans, right wing political operatives — and is being amplified by social media…I cannot yet see how we, as a country, will find a way out of this pit of lies. And that is as scary as anything on this spooky Halloween.” click here for more
The Wrong Price For Community Solar In Georgia Georgia Power to open community solar program in January The 3 MW program which opens in January offers a share in solar – for a remarkably steep price.
Christian Roselund, October 23, 2017 (PV Magazine)
"Community Solar has been a great bridge for utilities and solar. While many utilities continue to resist rooftop solar, including relentless attempts to create unfavorable rate structures, community solar provides a way for these companies to offer their customers solar…Georgia Power has introduced a community solar program for its customers, to launch in January…[It] will sell shares in 3 MW of new solar projects including a 2 MW facility…Georgia Power is selling shares at $24.99 per 1 kW block per month, for a maximum not to exceed a customer’s usage or 10 blocks…Each 1 kW block will produce an estimated 130-240 kilowatt-hours per month, in the neighborhood of roughly 20% of a typical residential customer’s usage. This works out to a range of 10.4-19.2 cents per kWh, and if the average output is in the middle of this range at 185 kWh, then the cost to the consumer will be 13.5 cents per KWh…Given that the levelized cost of electricity from utility-scale solar in the United States had fallen to a range of 4.4-6.6 cents/kWh in the first quarter of this year, even excluding the benefits of the Investment Tax Credit , this is a remarkably high price. It’s also higher than the average residential electricity price in Georgia, which was at 11.4 cents/kWh in 2016.” click here for more
All About The Wind Boom Why Wind Energy Is Booming in the U.S.
Travis Hoium, October 29, 2017 (Madison.com)
“The U.S. wind industry has had a resurgence in the last few years as utilities and companies search for new renewable energy generation…Through the end of 2016, 82.1 GW of wind has been installed, and that figure will only grow over the next five years [As companies like Amazon and Alphabet Inc and renewable energy yieldcos look to expand their generation]…Improving technology and subsidies are working together to make wind an attractive energy source for developers…[T]urbines aren't actually getting cheaper on a cost-per-watt basis…[but] wind projects have a higher capacity factor, meaning each watt of wind generation installed is generating more electricity per year…From 1998 to 2001, capacity factor was 25.4%, and projects built in 2015 had a capacity factor of 42.6%. Each watt installed generated 67% more electricity…Wind gets a production tax credit, and solar gets an investment tax credit; here's how that creates an advantage for wind energy… If wind turbine manufacturers can continue to cut costs and increase capacity factor, the industry will continue to grow…” click here for more
Monday, October 30, 2017
TODAY’S STUDY: Transportation Electrification And The Power Sector
Powering the future of mobility; How the electric power sector can prepare for its critical role in the new transportation ecosystem
Scott Smith, Suzanna Sanborn, Andrew Slaughter, October 16, 2017 (Deloitte Insights)
As drivers buy more electric vehicles, power companies look to benefit from increasing demand. But the emerging mobility ecosystem offers even more promise for utilities: a possible “killer app” to—for the first time—directly engage customers.
Introduction: The future is electric
ANALYSTS have long predicted that car and fleet owners would soon abandon traditional fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and go electric.1 But after years of hype, promotion, and government incentives, electric vehicles (EVs) represent barely 1 percent of the market, both globally and in the United States.
And yet the optimistic forecasts might turn out to have been only a bit early, with rapid EV adoption—finally—just around the bend. Consumers are increasingly opting for electric cars, as factors such as falling prices, increasing range, and appealing incentives combine with the “cool factor” created when exceptional design meets advanced technologies. On the horizon, the future of mobility—in particular carsharing, ridesharing, and autonomous vehicles—strongly complements EVs, further hastening adoption.
The new mobility ecosystem is arriving none too soon for the electric power industry in the United States and elsewhere. Electric companies face a variety of challenges—among them, flat electricity demand and the need to smoothly integrate a growing pool of distributed and renewable energy resources. Utilities continue to search for a “killer app” to more deeply engage customers and interest them in new products and services. A rapidly expanding EV fleet could help address each of those challenges.
And even though other sectors are making higher-profile moves as the future of mobility becomes a reality—from groundbreaking vehicle designs2 to flashy entertainment options—electric companies need not passively wait for consumers to begin plugging in rather than filling up. To accelerate EV adoption, electric companies can do more to educate and incentivize customers to purchase electric cars, and they have the opportunity to become major players in the buildout of EV charging infrastructure (wired and eventually wireless). They can also brace for the increased electricity demand and changing load patterns by preparing to manage and control new EV load through smart grid technologies.
This article explores how a growing electric vehicle fleet, accelerated by other mobility trends such as shared and self-driving cars, could affect power and utility companies’ possible choices. We lay out why EV adoption may be at an inflection point, examine how the emergence of a new mobility ecosystem could create a symbiotic relationship between EVs, autonomous vehicles, and ridesharing, and look at how electric companies might turn these trends to their advantage. Last, informed by a new Deloitte survey of industry executives, we lay out some of the key steps utility executives can begin taking now to capitalize on an increasingly electric future of mobility.
Have EV sales reached a tipping point?
Car buyers and fleet owners across the globe are starting to give electric vehicles a second look. Why? Because new showroom arrivals have altered the initial perception of battery-powered cars as short-range, low-speed capsules. Futuristic, high-tech EVs that are fun to drive have changed consumer perceptions, with many now seeing them as the hip, desirable car of the future. As important, plummeting battery prices have enabled automakers to introduce new, more wallet-friendly models with longer ranges. An estimated 30–40 percent of an EV’s cost is in the lithium-ion battery pack that powers it.
But those costs are falling fast, down 73 percent between 2010 and 2016 to $273 per kilowatt-hour. Prices continue to fall due to technological improvements, manufacturing cost reductions—especially as production scales up—global manufacturing overcapacity, and competition. At the same time, gradual buildout of charging infrastructure is helping to allay some buyers’ “range anxiety.” And, with the projected growth of carsharing and ride-hailing services, range anxiety is likely to be less of a constraint for fleet management companies that can closely monitor and control EV charging.
Many governments have long incentivized EV purchases, but Norway, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, and others have recently announced even more ambitious goals of ending or severely curtailing sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles within the next decade or two. China, with total annual car sales approaching 30 million, is working out a timetable to ban ICE vehicle sales completely. India has set its sights on the same goal by 2030, which may be ambitious as it would require annual sales to exceed 10 million EVs, but it will likely add momentum to the global shift toward EVs. While stopping short of banning ICE vehicles, 10 US states, citing environmental concerns, have set aggressive goals to increase EV sales. Even if they fall short of those targets, automakers will be forced to reckon with these policies as they roll out new models, and the net effect is likely to be many more electric cars on the road.
Together, these developments are accelerating EV adoption across the globe, even as the vehicles’ share of overall sales remains small (see figure 1).
PEVs are “plug-in electric vehicles,” including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV).
How quickly is this likely to change? Projections for US and global EV market-share growth over the next two decades vary widely, from as low as 10 percent to more than 50 percent by 2040 (see figure 2). Where the actual numbers fall in the end is likely to depend on government policies to encourage EV adoption, and on the number and cost of new EV models available, as well as emerging trends in personal mobility.
The advances in electric vehicles are part of a much broader transformation of the extended auto industry into a new mobility ecosystem (see sidebar, “What is the future of mobility?”). Critically, two of those trends—the growth of shared mobility and the emergence of self-driving vehicles—share many complementarities with electric vehicles, and may well further accelerate EV growth:
Reduced operating costs. With high-utilization ridesharing fleets, EVs’ low operating costs compared with conventional ICE vehicles become an economic advantage. The growth of ridesharing and ride-hailing services will likely lead to higher utilization rates: both more miles driven and more daily road hours per car. New mobility management or mobility-as-a-service companies may own fleets of vehicles that circulate almost continuously, with or without drivers, picking up passengers who have hailed them, typically through smartphone apps. Autonomous ride-hailing vehicles may be used about 40 percent of the day, compared with less than 5 percent for privately owned vehicles. And research shows that the more miles a car drives in its lifetime, the more economical it is to drive electric due to the lower costs of charging relative to refueling and the reduced maintenance expenses that accompany simpler construction.
Autonomous technology integrates better with electric engines. Electric cars are easier for computers to drive—indeed, most EVs are built with drive-by-wire systems that replace traditional mechanical control systems with electronic controls, and these systems create a more compatible and flexible platform for autonomous driving technologies. In addition, EV battery packs contain higher voltages than typical ICE vehicle batteries, which enable them to accommodate more self-driving features. While engineers can make gasoline-powered cars autonomous, automakers and technology companies have largely chosen EVs—with far fewer moving parts—for their self-driving vehicle prototypes.
Safety and design simplicity. If a self-driving ICE vehicle pulled up to the gas pump, it would likely need human assistance to fill the tank; recharging a driverless EV would likely be easier and safer. While EV manufacturers have been developing automated chargers that would plug into self-driving cars, the industry generally expects that wireless charging, which some automakers are already bringing to market, will be the more likely solution. A self-driving EV could navigate to the nearest wireless charging pad (or utilize in-road charging infrastructure), park itself, charge, and then drive away—or even charge itself while waiting at a traffic light or to pick up a passenger. Automakers see wireless charging as a convenience that will likely help increase electric vehicle adoption.
Early prototypes and pilot programs of ridesharing autonomous vehicle services are already heavily favoring EVs. For example, General Motors designed its Bolt EV specifically for ridesharing and mobility services, according to GM’s executive chief engineer of autonomous tech. Ridesharing service Lyft, which is partnering with several automakers, aims to provide at least 1 billion rides per year using electric autonomous vehicles by 2025, and to power those cars with “100% renewable energy.”
Harnessing the future of mobility
Further acceleration of EV adoption could help electric companies reverse or reap opportunities from three of today’s biggest challenges: stagnant demand, the requirement to integrate renewable and distributed energy resources seamlessly, and the need to engage customers and interest them in new services.
EV Adoption Can Potentially Reverse Stagnating Electricity Demand…EVs: A Key Grid Management Tool…EVs May, At Last, Help Utilities Engage Customers…Invest In EV Charging Infrastructure…Prepare To Manage Load And Support Emerging Transportation Service Providers…
Conclusion: Utilities’ role in the future of mobility
It’s too early to say for certain that electric cars, as part of the emerging mobility ecosystem, will save the day for electric utilities. But there’s little question that change is already happening, and developments not only leave room for power companies to play a role—their role will be integral to the future of mobility.
With the predicted rise of EVs—increasingly affordable, road-trip-worthy, and even cool—the electric power industry may finally get a foot in the door of the coveted transportation sector, with EVs providing new demand for electricity during the power industry’s ongoing transformation. What’s more, EVs and their onboard batteries can potentially help utilities solve a range of longstanding challenges: balancing the grid, integrating new variable and distributed resources, improving operating efficiency, and reducing costs for all customers. Electric cars may even spark a degree of customer engagement that utilities rarely enjoy, helping them launch an array of new products and services.
If executives begin to act now—by educating and incentivizing EV purchases, building out charging infrastructure, and preparing to manage EV load—the electric power sector can help enable this future and secure its own role powering the emerging mobility ecosystem, while increasing value for customers and shareholders.
QUICK NEWS, October 30: Why We Fight (Climate Change); Solar Is Changing Behaviors; New Energy Will Bring The Jobs
Why We Fight (Climate Change) Don’t let the deniers fool you. Fighting climate change isn’t futile.
Stephen Stromberg, October 26, 2017 (Washington Post)
“…[One of the most] frequent justifications for abandoning President Barack Obama’s plans to address climate change…[is] that the U.S. effort, taken alone, would fail to solve a global problem…[But Linking sea level rise and socioeconomic indicators under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways finds that meeting Paris] agreement’s medium-term goals, which Obama’s climate policies were designed to do, would keep a path open to averting truly disastrous sea level rise…In other words, the practical climate benefits of U.S. global warming policy are real — this is just one of many examples — but mostly visible when combined with other nations’ work…Pointing out that the United States acting alone could not solve global warming, meanwhile, is no great insight. The critics merely restate the problem that global accords such as the Paris agreement were designed to address: The planet’s major nations must work together or fry separately…” click here for more
Solar Is Changing Behaviors 5 Signs that Solar Energy is Changing Society’s Consumption Behavior
Amanda Sparks, October 24, 2017 (AltEnergyMag)
“…[T]he dangers to the planet for the next generation have caused individual consumers to change their behaviors…And as consumers adopt solar energy and demand that their governments do as well, there are definite changes in consumption behavior…[T]he transition to solar power triggers much greater awareness on the part of consumers of both energy usage and energy prices…[and] just awareness, not necessarily full-out adoption, causes consumers of electricity to be more mindful of their own consumption behaviors and to take steps to reduce them…[U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that people are moving into urban areas…[that offer] environmentally-friendly and healthier lifestyles…Government incentives for residential and commercial consumers have radically changed consumer behavior…with an exploding number of consumers connecting to the grid and using the solar panels and batteries…[Ten years of data about the change in consumer behavior once solar energy is introduced into a neighborhood shows once a homeowner or two goes solar, other neighbors…want a piece of this action…” click here for more
New Energy Will Bring The Jobs Renewable energy is creating US jobs twice as fast as any other industry
Karen Hao, October 26, 2017 (Quartz)
“…[Though some want] a rebirth of the coal industry in the US…jobs for solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians will grow twice as fast as any other occupation [over the next ten years], according to a Bloomberg analysis of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’s biennial employment projections…The main driver of job growth has been the rapid increase in solar capacity…[The fastest growing job in the U.S. today is wind turbine technician and, in] the last decade, US solar capacity has grown an average of 72% per year…This has created opportunities in the manufacturing, sales, and installation of solar panels. In 2016, the solar industry employed more than 260,000 Americans…[Because the US government has a knack for spectacularly underestimating renewable energy growth,] projected figures for installed capacity and job growth are likely much more conservative than the reality…” click here for more
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Samantha Bee Talks Climate Change
Sam talks hurricanes and wildfires and ticks, and concludes "our descendants will look back on this as the time we stopped ignoring climate change was coming and started ignoring that it had arrived." From Comedy Central via YouTube
Solar For The Rest
Almost half of all residential and business electricity customers don’t have solar suitable roofs. This is their access. From VoiceOfAmerica
Batteries For New Energy – Soon A No-Brainer
”Within two decades, over half the world’s power could come from nature, backed by batteries From Bloomberg News
Friday, October 27, 2017
Swiss Find The Water Is Hotter Than Science Thought
Climate change might be worse than thought after scientists find major mistake in water temperature readings
Andrew Griffin, October 26, 2017 (UK Independent)
“…[A new Swiss study challenges the ways researchers have worked out sea temperatures until now and show climate change may be heating the seas quicker than previously thought…The methodology widely used to understand sea temperatures in the scientific community may be based on a mistake…[The oceans were colder than we thought] suggests that the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago were much cooler than we thought. If true, that means that the global warming we are currently undergoing is unparallelled within the last 100 million years, and far worse than we had previously calculated…Until now, scientists believed that the temperature of the ocean depths and the surface of the polar ocean 100 million years ago were about 15 degrees warmer than they are today. But they might in fact have stayed relatively stable – making the warming we're currently undergoing far more alarming…” click here for more
Global Energy Efficiency Stymied
IEA Reports Reveal Rapid Growth of Renewables, Need to Enhance Policies for Energy Efficiency
Stefan Jungcurt, 19 October 2017 (International Institute for Sustainable Development)
“…Despite the rapid growth of renewables, emissions reductions are likely to fall short of the reductions required to avert catastrophic climate change. Improvements in energy efficiency are therefore an important strategy to close the gap…[the International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy Efficiency 2017 shows the] energy intensity of the global economy continued to decline…[but] the downward trend has slowed to 1.8% compared to 2.1% in 2016…[The good news is that energy efficiency] made the largest contribution to offsetting the increase in GHG emissions resulting from global growth in GDP making 2017 the third consecutive year in which global GHG emissions remained stable…
[T]he study finds energy efficiency policies address only 32% of global energy use, an increase of 1.4% since 2016. Most of the increase was due to the expansion of existing policies. New policies, which often support deeper reductions in energy intensity, were responsible for only 1% of the increase in coverage, a historic low…China continues to be the leader in implementation of new mandatory energy efficiency policies accounting for 70% of all new policies globally…Other findings include: increasing use of energy management systems is driving energy efficiency in industry; energy efficiency of buildings is improving, but falls short of potential improvements enabled through innovative technologies, such as LED lighting; and fuel economy standards are driving rapid change in the motor vehicle market, including accelerating growth in the sale of electric vehicles…” click here for more
Saudi Solar Price Drops To All-Time Low
Solar power crushes its own record for cheapest electricity ‘ever, anywhere, by any technology’; The lowest price for solar power last year is the highest price now.
Joe Romm. October 20, 2017 (ThinkProgress)
“Prices for new solar power projects are falling so fast that the cheapest prices from 2016 have become the ceiling price for solar today…[In April 2016, the] record low unsubsidized solar energy price was 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), in a March 2016 contract in Mexico…[In October 2017], every single bid that Saudi Arabia received for its 300 MW Sakaka solar project was cheaper than that…The lowest bid price was 1.79 cents/kWh. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is more than six times that, 12 cents/kWh…The jaw-dropping price of 1.79 cents is not about to become the new ceiling for solar bids — since the market conditions in Saudi Arabia are fairly unique and it’s not clear the bidder, Masdar (owned by the United Arab Emirates) and its French partner EDF would actually make money at that price…But, still, seven of the eight bids were below three cents — and the two lowest bids were [global record lows]…” click here for more
EVs 50% Cleaner Than Diesel – Belgian Study
Electric cars emit 50% less greenhouse gas than diesel, study finds
Arthur Neslen, 25 October 2017 (UK Guardian)
“Electric cars emit significantly less greenhouse gases over their lifetimes than diesel engines even when they are powered by the most carbon intensive energy…In Poland, which uses high volumes of coal, electric vehicles produced a quarter less emissions than diesels when put through a full lifecycle modelling study by Belgium’s VUB University. CO2 reductions on Europe’s cleanest grid in Sweden were a remarkable 85%, falling to around one half for countries such as the UK…[The average will be 50% less lifecycle CO2 emissions, including the manufacturing process, from EVs than from diesel cars] by 2030…The new study uses an EU estimate of Poland’s emissions – at 650gCO2/kWh – which is significantly lower than  calculations by the European commission’s Joint Research Centre science wing…Today, just 1.7% of new vehicles sold in Europe are electric, and some EU officials question whether Europe has access to enough lithium to create a 5-10% market share for electric cars anytime soon. Its capacity to scale up construction of battery plants may also be in doubt…The VUB study says that while the supply of critical metals – lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite – and rare earths would have to be closely monitored and diversified, it should not constrain the clean transport transition…” click here for more
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Mother Nature’s New Rules
Climate Change Journalist Warns: 'Mother Nature Is Playing By Different Rules Now'
Terry Gross and Jeff Goodell, October 24, 2017 (Fresh Air)
FRESH AIR’s Terry Gross interviewed Rolling Stone contributing editor Jeff Goodell about his new book The Water Will Come. The book is about what cities around the world face in a future of rising seas and increasingly intense storms. Goodell, who has covered climate change for 15 years, told her that no one can predict exactly what the impacts of the changing climate will be. But “these storms that we've seen this season are an indicator,” he said. “Mother Nature is playing by different rules now.” The 38-minute conversation covered the science of climate change and its impacts in Alaska, Greenland, and Florida. Goodell described his reporting about Miami and what he foresees for the future of the city. “There's no high ground to run to,” he said. The city will be inundated but the impact its citizens have not come to terms with yet is the “economic collapse and economic problems that are going to be caused by a plummet in real estate values, which are really important to the Florida economy…” click here for more
The Misguided Rick Perry Plan To Support Old Energy
Rick Perry’s Anti-Market Plan to Help Coal
Jody Freeman and Joseph Goffman, October 25, 2017 (NY Times)
“…[The Trump Energy Department is trying to prop up the struggling coal industry by doing something very un-Republican — subsidizing it. Last month, Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — the independent agency that regulates electricity markets — to adopt a new rule to pay certain coal and nuclear plants more than they would otherwise earn in a competitive market...for electricity that competitors could produce, and are already producing, more cheaply. Mr. Perry’s plan is premised on two unfounded claims: First, it assumes that coal and nuclear power plants, because they can stockpile fuel on site, are uniquely able to enhance the ‘reliability and resiliency’ of the electric power grid, especially in times of fuel supply disruptions. Second, it assumes that those plants are being driven out of business by unfair subsidies to renewable-energy producers, as Mr. Perry has repeatedly claimed or implied. But a Department of Energy study conducted under Mr. Perry’s direction concluded…the retirements of aging coal and nuclear plants…have not compromised reliability…” click here for more
Rebirth Of New Jersey Ocean Wind Coming
Developers Plan Wind Farms Off Jersey as Christie Era Ends
Joe Ryan, October 24, 2017 (Climate Changed via Bloomberg)
“…[Offshore wind developers in New Jersey see the November election to replace Governor Chris Christie, who has blocked implementation of the state’s plan for ocean wind expansion, as a rebirth of opportunity. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who leads by 15 points in polls, is calling for 3.5 gigawatts of offshore wind generation by 2030. Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno has also pledged to support the industry. New Jersey is] a potentially rich market for offshore wind…[It is the most densely populated U.S. state, its power prices are among the highest in the nation, and it is] midway between offshore wind development sites in New England and the Southeast, making the state a potential hub for ferrying supplies to build projects in other states…[Offshore wind, which has thrived in Europe, has lagged in the U.S. because] policy makers have been reluctant to support subsidies to offset the high costs of building…[But competition among developers, especially in the North Sea, has driven down costs… click here for more
Solar For The Other Half Of The Community
No Roof? No Problem. Community-Shared Solar Offers Solar Energy for All
Tina Trinh, October 25, 2017 (Voice of America)
“…[Not everyone can take] advantage of solar power’s promise of reduced energy bills and the rise of jobs in a new green workforce…[As much as 80% of electricity users may be] locked out of the solar market because they cannot install solar on their own rooftop…In New York City, where the majority of residents are apartment renters, the benefits of solar power are elusive…[But community-shared solar programs are] lowering barriers for access…[C]ity officials recently put out a call to solar project developers for the installation of solar panels atop 14 of New York City’s public housing properties. If all goes according to plan, up to 6,600 low and moderate-income households will be powered by 25 megawatts of solar power by 2025…The New York City Housing Authority will lease rooftop sites to solar project developers for a maximum of 25 years. Developers will set up and maintain the solar systems and sell power to residents…Apart from using city rooftops, companies like Solstice work with off-site solar farms to provide shares of the farm to urban communities…Solar shares are sized according to how much electricity customers use…” click here for more
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
ORIGINAL REPORTING: As utilities embrace DERs, pilot projects emerge as key
As utilities embrace DERs, pilot projects emerge as key element of compromise; Utility DER pilots are helping build familiarity with new technologies and resolve sector disputes over distributed energy policies.
Herman K. Trabish, May 4, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The use of pilot programs by utilities continues to expand but some New Energy advocates are worried about moving the experiments into wider practice.
Nearly 85% of respondents to Utility Dive’s 2017 State of the Electric Utility Survey indicated they expect distributed generation to grow moderately or significantly in their power mix over the next 10 years and 90% said they believe their utility should have a business model to embrace the DER shift. But the survey also showed utilities are more likely to be invested in pilot programs for emerging DERs like rooftop solar and storage than to have them currently integrated into their core operations. Utilities have always utilized pilots for emerging technologies, but when it comes to DERs, a new use for them may be emerging. As utilities and DER vendors debate changes to net metering policies, rate design and other regulatory issues, utility pilot programs are often a key element of compromise.
The Q1 2017 Solar Policy Update confirmed the trend toward pilots as a basis for compromise. Whether they will entice utilities to integrate DERs into their core operations remains to be seen — as does the impact on vendors in the space. Expectations of DER growth are highest in regions where regulatory compromises allowed pilot projects to play a key role in spurring initial deployment and market designs that allowed DER growth. Utility professionals in New England states were the most confident in rooftop solar growth, for instance, with 58% expecting significant growth. The pilot trend extends to other resources as well. More than 80% of respondents from the West Coast, Great Plains, New England and Rocky Mountain states expect moderate or significant growth in demand response and demand-side management… click here for more
ORIGINAL REPORTING: Choice in La La Land: LA County community aggregation
Choice in La La Land: LA County community aggregation has California utilities on full alert; Up to a million customers could shift service away from SCE, leaving the state's utilities worried about the costs of departing load
Herman K. Trabish, May 9, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The CCA movement continues to gain momentum among consumers but renewables advocates are beginning to have questions about its impact on New Energy growth.
The customer movement away from California utilities to alternative electricity providers took a giant leap ahead when the County of Los Angeles moved to take over electricity procurement for customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) in unincorporated county areas and 82 municipalities. When completed, the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy (LACCE) will have the biggest customer base yet added to the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) movement.
California’s CCA movement has at least eight operational members representing over 1.25 million customers and a projected 2017 load of over 13,750 GWh. Eight more members, including LACCE, are expected to launch this year and more than 20 groups are exploring the concept. California Assembly Bill 117 of 2002 established CCAs, allowing “customers to aggregate their electrical loads as members of their local community.” The aggregation is done by municipal or county governments. As an alternative to incumbent IOUs, they purchase electricity in wholesale markets and sell to residents and businesses at competitive rates.
Since 2002, dissatisfied utility customers across the state have turned to CCAs as an option for more local control over their power mix and prices. California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) argue the CCAs’ cleaner, cheaper generation portfolios unfairly impose costs on customers who do not change electricity providers. CCA advocates, meanwhile, say that utility stranded costs are the real issue. The debate is coming to a head at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as the state's investor-owned utilities push regulators to change the rules for departing load compensation… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
TODAY’S STUDY: The World’s New Energy Right Now
4 October 2017 (International Energy Agency)
Solar leads the charge in another record year for renewables
Boosted by a strong solar PV market, renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world in 2016, with almost 165 gigawatts (GW) coming online. This was another record year, largely as a result of booming solar PV deployment in China and around the world, driven by sharp cost reductions and policy support.
Last year, new solar PV capacity around the world grew by 50%, reaching over 74 GW, with China accounting for almost half of this expansion. For the first time, solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal.
This deployment was accompanied by the announcement of record-low auction prices as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour. Low announced prices for solar and wind were recorded in a variety of places, including India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Chile.
These announced contract prices for solar PV and wind power purchase agreements are increasingly comparable or lower than generation cost of newly built gas and coal power plants.
A bright future for renewables to 2022, solar PV entering a new era
This record performance in 2016 forms the bedrock of the IEA’s electricity forecast, which sees continued strong growth through 2022, with renewable electricity capacity forecast to expand by over 920 GW, an increase of 43%. This year’s renewable forecast is 12% higher than last year, thanks mostly to solar PV upward revisions in China and India.
Solar PV is entering a new era. For the next five years, solar PV represents the largest annual capacity additions for renewables, well above wind and hydro. This marks a turning point and underpins our more optimistic solar PV forecast which is revised up by over one-third compared to last year’s report. This revision is driven by continuous technology cost reductions and unprecedented market dynamics in China as a consequence of policy changes.
Under an accelerated case – where government policy lifts barriers to growth – IEA analysis finds that renewable capacity growth could be boosted by another 30%, totalling an extra 1,150 GW by 2022 led by China.
Solar PV and wind capacity in China could by then reach twice the total power capacity of Japan today.
China is the undisputed renewable growth leader
China alone is responsible for over 40% of global renewable capacity growth, which is largely driven by concerns about air pollution and capacity targets that were outlined in the country’s 13th five-year plan to 2020. In fact, China already surpassed its 2020 solar PV target, and the IEA expects it to exceed its wind target in 2019. China is also the world market leader in hydropower, bioenergy for electricity and heat, and electric vehicles.
Today, China represents half of global solar PV demand, while Chinese companies account for around 60% of total annual solar cell manufacturing capacity globally. As such, market and policy developments in China will have global implications for solar PV demand, supply, and prices. In the Renewables 2017 main case forecast, total solar PV capacity around the world reaches 740 GW by 2022 – more than the combined total power capacities of India and Japan today.
If uncertainties and barriers are addressed, solar PV growth could accelerate even more. Two important challenges in China – the growing cost of renewable subsidies and grid integration – limit growth in the main case forecast.
China’s renewable energy policies are being modified quite substantially in order to address these challenges. China is moving away from its feed-in-tariff (FIT) programme to a quota system with green certificates. Together with ambitious power market reform, new transmission lines, and the expansion of distributed generation, these new policies are expected to speed up deployment of solar (and wind). However, the timing and implementation of this policy transition remains uncertain.
Renewable markets around the world
The United States
Despite policy uncertainty, the United States remains the second-largest growth market for renewables. The main drivers remain strong for new onshore wind and solar capacities, such as multi-year federal tax incentives combined with renewable portfolio standards as well as state-level policies for distributed solar PV. Still, the current uncertainty over proposed federal tax reforms, international trade, and energy policies could have implications for the relative economics of renewables and alter their expansion over the forecast period.
India’s moves to address the financial health of its utilities and tackle grid-integration issues drive a more optimistic forecast. By 2022, India is expected to more than double its current renewable electricity capacity. For the first time, this growth over the forecast period is higher compared with the European Union.
Solar PV and wind together represent 90% of India’s capacity growth as auctions yielded some of the world’s lowest prices for both technologies. In some Indian states, recent contract prices are comparable to coal tariffs. India’s accelerated case indicates that renewable capacity expansion could be boosted by almost a third, providing that existing grid integration and infrastructure challenges are addressed, policy and regulatory uncertainties are reduced, and costs continue to fall. With this growth India would equal the United States, becoming the joint second-largest growth market after China.
The European Union
In the European Union, renewable growth over the forecast period is 40% lower compared with the previous five-year period. Overall, weaker electricity demand, overcapacity, and limited visibility on forthcoming auction capacity volumes in some markets remain challenges to renewable growth. Policy uncertainty beyond 2020 remains high.
If adopted, the new EU Renewable Energy Directive covering the post-2020 period would address this challenge by requiring a three-year visibility over support policies, thereby improving the market’s predictability.
Developing Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
For the first time, Renewables 2017 tracks off-grid solar PV applications more closely in developing Asia and sub Saharan Africa. Over the forecast period, off-grid capacity in these regions will almost triple – reaching over 3 000 MW in 2022 – from industrial applications, solar home systems (SHSs), and mini-grids driven by government electrification programmes, and private sector investments.
Although this growth represents a small share of total PV capacity installed in both regions, its socio-economic impact is nonetheless significant. Over the next five years, SHSs – the most dynamic sector in the off-grid segment – are forecast to bring basic electricity services to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub Saharan Africa. It will also lead to new business players bringing innovative payment solutions that allow low-income populations initial access to electricity services.
System integration becomes increasingly important
Wind and solar together will represent more than 80% of global renewable capacity growth in the next five years. By 2022, Denmark is expected to be the world leader, with 70% of its electricity generation coming from variable renewables.
In some European countries (Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom), the share of wind and solar in total generation will exceed 25%. In China, India and Brazil, the share of variable generation is expected to double to over 10% in just five years. These trends have important implications going forward. Without a simultaneous increase in system flexibility (grid reinforcement and interconnections, storage, demand-side response and other flexible supply), variable renewables are more exposed to the risk of losing system value at increasing shares of market penetration since wholesale prices are depressed precisely when wind and solar production exceeds demand.
Market and policy frameworks need to evolve in order to cope simultaneously with multiple objectives, including providing long-term price signals to attract investment, ensuring efficient short-term electricity dispatching, pricing negative externalities and unlocking sufficient levels of flexibility as well as fostering a portfolio of dispatchable renewable technologies, including hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and CSP.
Renewable generation closes the gap with coal
By 2022, global renewables electricity generation is expected to grow by over one-third to over 8 000 terrawatts per hour, equal to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined. As a result, the share of renewables in power generation will reach 30% in 2022, up from 24% in 2016.
In the next five years, growth in renewable generation will be twice as large as that of gas and coal combined. While coal remains the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables halve their gap with coal, down to 17% in 2022. Despite slower capacity growth, hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation in our forecast, followed by wind, solar PV and bioenergy.
Renewable policies are spurring more competition
Renewable policies in many countries are moving from government-set tariffs to competitive auctions with long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for utility-scale projects. Increased competition has allowed reducing remuneration levels for solar PV and wind projects by 30-40% in just two years in some key countries such as India, Germany and Turkey.
This competitive price discovery mechanism through tenders has squeezed costs along the entire value chain, thus becoming a more cost-effective policy option for governments. Auctions can also allow a better control of deployment, total incentives, and system integration aspects. Almost half of renewable electricity capacity expansion over 2017-22 is expected to be driven by competitive auctions with PPAs, compared to just over 20% in 2016.
Auction prices continue to fall
Announced auction prices for wind and solar have continued to fall although average generation costs of new-built projects remain higher. Over the period 2017-22 global average generation costs are estimated to further decline by a quarter for utility-scale solar PV; by almost 15% for onshore wind; and by a third for offshore wind. till, these average costs for solar PV remain relatively high because of high FITs in China and Japan as well as relatively elevated investment costs in the United States. Meanwhile, announced auction prices indicate much steeper possible cost reductions, ranging from $30-45/MWh for solar PV (India, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Argentina) to $35-50/MWh for onshore wind (India, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Chile).
Auctions are also proving effective in rapidly reducing costs of offshore wind and CSP. While auction announcements (in terms of both volumes and prices) need to be verified over time, they suggest that expanding competitive pricing could result in even lower average costs in coming years.
Renewable transport and heat
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