NewEnergyNews: 02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Risk Of Natural Gas Vs. The Risk Of Wind
  • QUICK NEWS, April 24: The Health Impacts Of Climate Change; New Energy Is Everywhere; Study Shows LA Does Not Need Aliso Canyon
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: How To Win Friends For New Energy
  • Weekend Video: The Electric Vehicle Highway
  • Weekend Video: Wind And The Economy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A Deeper Look At The Heat
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Wind Gets Market Tough
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-UK Gets Utility-Led Solar Plus Storage
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Germany’s VW Talking Its EV To China
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. Military Affirms Climate Change-War Link
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Plus Hydro Drive Wholesale Power Cost Sub-Zero
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind Boom Goes On Growing Midwest Wealth
  • TTTA Thursday-More Kentucky Jobs In New Energy Than In Coal
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rocky Mountain compromise: Inside Xcel's landmark Colorado solar settlement
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Fixed charge battle looms in Texas as regulators tackle rate design reform
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: No time to think: How utilities are handling the deluge of grid data

    THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Resource Diversity And Grid Reliability
  • QUICK NEWS, April 18: Study Puts 10-Year Timer On Climate Change; The War Between Wall Street And Solar; New Energy To Power Healthcare
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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.

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, April 25:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To Grow EVs
  • QUICK NEWS, April 25: Private Sector Takes Over The Climate Fight; How Sea Level Rise Would Change The Map; Wind Jobs Top 100,000 As Wind Energy Booms

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: What Utility Bill Demand Charges Are And What They Do

    Exploring Demand Charge Savings from Residential Solar

    Naïm Darghouth, Galen Barbose, Andrew Mills, Ryan Wiser, Pieter Gagnon, Lori Bird, January 2017 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Overview

    This analysis estimates demand charge savings from residential solar across a range of US locations, PV system characteristics, and demand charge designs

    • We use simulated load and PV generation profiles, based on 17 years of weather data for 15 cities, various building characteristics, 9 PV system sizes, and 4 panel orientations

    • Demand charge savings are calculated for demand charge designs with and without seasonally varying prices and ratchets, and for various peak period definitions and averaging intervals Upcoming work will expand upon the scope of this study:

    • This study focuses on demand charge savings from solar, alone, without storage or load management; upcoming work will examine demand charge savings from solar plus storage

    • This study focuses on residential customers; upcoming work will focus on commercial customers

    • This study focuses on implications of demand charges for solar customers; upcoming work will consider how customer bill savings align with utility cost savings from distributed solar

    Key Findings

    How effective is solar at reducing residential demand charges?

    • The potential demand charge savings depends, first and foremost, on demand charge design – Demand charge savings are generally negligible if based on peak demand at any time of day, as residential loads typically peak in early evening hours. – Solar can yield more significant demand charge savings if based, instead, on peak demand during a designated daytime peak period (e.g., maximum demand during the 12-4 pm window). –Other demand charge design features, such as averaging interval, may also be important. Which PV characteristics are most important to determining the demand charge savings?

    • PV system size has a significant impact on how effective a PV system is at reducing a demand charge. Smaller systems are more effective at reducing billing demand than larger ones, on a per-kW basis.

    • Panel orientation impacts demand charge savings under limited conditions and only to a limited degree: Southwest- and West-facing panels can be marginally more effective at reducing demand charges, depending on PV system size and peak demand definition.

    How do location and building type impact residential demand charge savings?

    • Location significantly impacts potential demand charge savings from solar. Customers in sunnier, warmer regions can generate greater demand charge savings from solar due to greater coincidence between solar generation and loads, and higher loads.

    • Building characteristics can have modest impacts on the potential demand charge savings from solar. – Demand charge savings from solar are somewhat smaller for more-recent building vintages, as a result of greater energy efficiency and lower underlying peak demand. – Homes with electric space heating offer marginally greater demand charge savings potential from solar. How variable from month-to-month are the demand charge savings from residential solar?

    • Monthly variability in demand charge savings depends mostly on the demand charge design. Demand charge designs based on maximum demand during a designated peak period window (e.g., 12-4 pm) tend to have less variability than when based on maximum demand during any time of day…

    Conclusions

    • Solar is not efficient at reducing residential demand charges when billing demand is set by the monthly customer peak

    • Some demand charge designs allow solar to reduce billing demand more effectively, such as daytime peak demand charges, when higher demand levels can be displaced by solar generation

    • Much of the range in capacity credit levels for a given simulated demand charge design are a result of differences in PV system size and customer’s location

    • Each incremental kW of PV installed becomes less effective at reducing demand charges, for most demand charge designs considered

    • Southwest- and West-facing panels tend to have higher capacity credits than South-facing panels for demand charge designs with peak windows in the afternoon and small PV-to-load ratios

    • Demand charge savings are higher in sunny locations

    • Longer time averaging interval windows lead to higher capacity credit levels

    • Demand charge designs with a seasonal element can increase average capacity credits if capacity credit levels are higher in the high season months

    • Ratcheting tends to decrease demand charge savings, as ratchets are often set during cloudy months which limits the ability for PV to reduce the demand charge in other months

    • There are substantial month-to-month variations in residential demand charge savings

    Policy Implications

    • Moving away from fully volumetric electricity rates to demand charges + lower volumetric rates will generally reduce bill savings from residential solar with net metering – Load management or storage, though not considered in this analysis, could mitigate this to some extent – Orienting PV panels to the Southwest or West has limited value in mitigating reduced bill savings – Use of demand charges would likely encourage smaller PV systems

    • Though this study does not directly compare demand charge savings to utility cost savings, the results suggest that demand charges may, in some cases, under-compensate solar customers for savings to the electric system – In many cases, demand charge capacity credit is close to zero, which may not realistically reflect solar capacity value across the entirety of the electric system (generation, transmission, and distribution) – Little economic rationale for providing lower demand charge savings per kW to larger systems

    • Demand charge savings from solar also tend to be quite volatile from month to month, which can also impact financial viability of new projects

    • Some demand charge designs—specifically, those based on peak demand during afternoon peak periods, and with relatively long averaging intervals—retain greater potential bill savings from solar

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    QUICK NEWS, February 28: Bernie And The Science Guy Talk Climate Change; The Great Wind Deal Will Get Better; Is Solar Plus EVs The Answer To Climate Change?

    Bernie And The Science Guy Talk Climate Change Watch Bernie Sanders & Bill Nye Explain Why You Have To Care About Climate Change

    Natasha Guzman, February 27, 2017 (Bustle)

    “…[A new Bernie Sanders-Bill Nye climate change conversation (video below) will help explain it to deniers and the uneducated. The] senator asked Nye to address those who insist that the earth's recent warming is part of a natural cycle the planet has always experienced, as well as their assertion that the scientific community has yet to reach a clear consensus on the topic. Nye [said] that 97 percent of scientific research concludes that the earth is indeed undergoing the unnatural, harmful process of climate change…[and] criticized Fox News anchors for continually spreading the impression of division among researchers…[Nye also] explained the cognitive dissonance of those who deny climate in the face of undeniable evidence…[His] description of the consequences that inaction can lead to are chilling…[Throughout the conversation, Nye argued people who don't want to work toward battling climate change can be convinced to join the cause if they're shown that renewable energy — and other environmental efforts — would have a positive effect on the economy…” click here for more

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    The Great Wind Deal Will Get Better Wind Energy Will See More Tech Breakthroughs, Falling Costs, Experts Predict

    Jeff McMahon, February 27, 2017 (Forbes)

    “…[Research and experts agree] wind energy will continue to get cheaper toward 2030 and beyond…[Technological advancements that have yet to be implemented suggest] that wind energy is not as mature a technology as its slowly evolving turbines make it appear…Experts anticipate a wide range of advancements that will [reduced onshore wind up-front costs,] increase project performance, extend project design lives, and lower operational expenses. Offshore wind has even greater opportunities for cost reduction, though there are larger uncertainties…[E]xperts predicted on-shore wind energy would see cost reductions of about 35 percent by 2050. The cost of offshore wind would drop 38 percent to 41 percent, they predicted…” click here for more

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    Is Solar Plus EVs The Answer To Climate Change? Electric cars and cheap solar 'could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020'; Solar power and clean cars are ‘gamechangers’ consistently underestimated by big energy, says Imperial College and Carbon Tracker report

    2 February 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar panels could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020……[The latest cost reduction projections for the green technologies and countries’ pledges to cut emissions could make solar power and electric vehicles ‘gamechangers’ that] take 10% of market share from fossil fuels within a decade, according to Expect The Unexpected; The Disruptive Power of Low Carbon Technologies. U.S. coal collapsed when it lost 10% loss of its market share and…[an 8% renewables growth caused Europe’s five major utilities to lose] €100bn (£85bn) between 2008 and 2013…[Big energy companies’ business as usual scenarios serious underestimate this transition, the study argues, because solar] could supply 23% of global power generation by 2040 and 29% by 2050…By 2035, electric vehicles could make up 35% of the road transport market, and two-thirds by 2050…Under such a scenario, coal and oil demand could peak in 2020…” click here for more

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    Monday, February 27, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Wind’s Big Year

    U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2016 Market Report

    January 26, 2017 (American Wind Energy Industry)

    The U.S. wind industry installed 6,478 megawatts (MW) during the fourth quarter of 2016, the second strongest quarter for installations on record. With 8,203 MW commissioned during 2016, the U.S. now has an installed capacity of 82,183 MW.

    Project developers reported more than 18,300 MW of wind capacity under construction or in advanced development, with 6,345 MW in combined new announcements. There are now 10,432 MW under construction and 7,913 MW in advanced development.

    Over 4,000 MW of power purchase agreements (PPA) were signed during 2016, and electric utilities released 23 wind-eligible requests for proposals (RFPs).

    Key Takeaways

    2016 Wind Project Installations

    • The U.S. wind industry installed 6,478 MW of wind capacity during the fourth quarter, the second strongest quarter for installations on record. For the year, the U.S. installed 8,203 MW.

    • 19 states commissioned a total of 47 projects during the fourth quarter. Texas led with 1,790 MW, followed by Oklahoma (1,192 MW), Kansas (615 MW), North Dakota (603 MW) and Iowa (551 MW).

    • Oklahoma surpassed California to become the third-ranked state in the nation with over 6,600 MW of installed capacity; Kansas surpassed Illinois as the fifth-ranked state with more than 4,400 MW.

    • There are now 82,183 MW of installed wind capacity in the United States, with more than 52,000 wind turbines operating in 40 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.

    • The U.S. commissioned its first offshore wind project during the fourth quarter, the 30 MW Block Island wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.

    • GE Renewable Energy and Vestas captured a combined 85% of the U.S. wind turbine market during 2016; including Siemens, the three turbine manufacturers captured 95% of the market.

    Wind Capacity Under Construction or in Advanced Development • There are now 10,432 MW under construction and 7,913 MW in advanced development, a combined 18,344 MW of wind capacity.

    • Project developers announced 6,345 MW in combined new activity during the fourth quarter, with 3,793 MW in new construction announcements (a three year record high) and 2,552 MW in new advanced development.

    • The industry also qualified significant additional project capacity for the full value of the PTC at year end through safe harbor and physical construction without finalizing project capacities. These new projects will be reported in the near term.

    Strong Procurement Activity

    • Project developers signed 816 MW of PPAs during the fourth quarter, contributing to a total of 4,040 MW of PPAs signed during 2016.

    • Utilities and rural electric cooperatives represent 56% of total project capacity contracted (2,266 MW) during 2016, building on announcements by Alliant Energy, MidAmerican Energy, Xcel Energy and others to build and own wind capacity.

    • For the year, non-utility purchasers comprise 39% of the remaining capacity contracted (1,574 MW).

    • 23 electric utilities released wind-eligible RFPs during 2016, with 10 RFPs released specifically for wind energy capacity. Two open RFPs are currently seeking at least 250 MW of wind capacity.

    U.S. Installed Wind Power Capacity, Top States

    • Oklahoma (6,645 MW) and Kansas (4,451 MW) jumped in the state rankings to become the third- and fifth-ranked states in the nation, respectively.

    • 19 states commissioned a total of 47 projects during the fourth quarter. Texas led in fourth quarter installations with 1,790 MW installed, followed by Oklahoma (1,192 MW), Kansas (615 MW), North Dakota (603 MW) and Iowa (551 MW).

    • Texas continues to lead the nation with 20,321 MW of installed capacity, the first state to pass 20,000 MW.

    • Nebraska became the 18th state to join the “Gigawatt Club,” installing 402 MW for a total of 1,328 MW.

    Wind Power Capacity Under Construction or in Advanced Development

    • There are now a combined 18,344 MW of wind power capacity in two development stages, with 10,432 MW reported under construction and 7,913 MW reported in advanced development.

    • Project developers announced 6,345 MW in combined new activity during the fourth quarter, with 3,793 MW in new construction announcements (a three year record high) and 2,552 MW in new advanced development.

    • The combined 18,344 MW of wind power capacity is spread across 130 wind projects in 31 states. Projects in these two categories can be reasonably expected to be completed in the near term.

    • The 3,793 MW in new construction announcements represents a three year record high, with 10,432 total construction activity. This decrease from the 13,563 MW reported during the previous quarter is due to several projects coming online. The industry also qualified significant additional project capacity for the full value of the PTC at year end without finalizing project capacities. These new projects will be reported in the near term.

    • 24 projects across 7 states started construction during the fourth quarter. Total activity spans 27 states.

    • Texas led the nation with 2,447 MW in new construction announcements. Texas also leads in total construction activity, hosting 52% of current activity.

    • 15% of construction activity is located in the Midwest, wth an additional 13% located in the Mountain states of Colorado and New Mexico.

    • Given current construction activity, New Mexico is expected to more than double in installed capacity in the near term.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 27: Heartland City Leaders Face Climate Change; EVs Nearer To Going Plug-Free; Politics Block Farmers From Growing Solar

    Heartland City Leaders Face Climate Change Red state rural America is acting on climate change – without calling it climate change

    Rebecca Romsdahl, February 26, 2017 (The Conversation via Business Insider)

    “President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concerned…[but even] if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build…In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities…[but research of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region shows] local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue…[Their] strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration…[Many of these policy activities are specifically not framed as climate actions but to broader concerns with] dirty water and dirty air…” click here for more

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    EVs Nearer To Going Plug-Free Wireless electric cars about to hit the road

    Rob Nikolewski, February 24, 2017 (San Diego Union Tribune)

    “…Car buyers are familiar with plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, but companies such as Qualcomm seek to jump-start the transition from internal combustion to zero-emission cars with “inductive” charging…Instead of charging a vehicle with a plug or cable, the driver using a wireless system aligns the car over a charging pad and an electromagnetic field does the rest…The technology has been talked about for years but, starting with the hybrid version of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e, wireless vehicle charging technology will make its debut…A slew of other car makers are about to enter the wireless-charging market as well…[T]ech companies such as Evatran, Momentum Dynamics, Witricity and Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification offer versions of wireless vehicle charging…Expect charging pads to be seen first in the garages of electric vehicle (EV) owners…Models from some makers run as low as just under $1,500…” click here for more

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    Politics Block Farmers From Growing Solar New farmland harvest – solar energy – creating political sparks

    Jan Ellen Spiegel, February 21, 2017 (CT Mirror)

    “…[Farms around Connecticut can relieve economic pressure by hosting solar projects but face an emerging] controversy over siting solar on farm and forestland…pitting farmer against farmer and environmental interest groups against one another, putting state departments at odds, and raising the always explosive issue of private property rights versus state policy…[It is] a collision of two well-intentioned environmental policies. One pushes and provides financial incentives for more renewable power – solar being the vastly favored choice in Connecticut. The other preserves farmland and forestland for agriculture and open space…Farmland is clear, well-drained, usually large, often south-facing – just what solar needs…[It] tends to be less expensive for solar developers…[but the land] is a finite resource…[Compromise legislation] would inventory available land and other facilities to determine which are best suited for solar…” click here for more

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    Saturday, February 25, 2017

    A Rogue Climate Scientist Talks To Seth Meyers

    This scientist chose not to be safe and silent but to push back. Hear him speak the twelve words that shook deniers to their core. From Late Night With Seth Meyers via YouTube

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    The Rogue Scientist Does A Climate Denier Check

    “We looked at all the satellite data in the world and he was wrong.” From Late Night With Seth Meyers via YouTube

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    How Anybody With A Good New Energy Idea Can Change The World

    Ideas are easy. Making them real is what’s hard. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

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    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Climate Change Is More Than Warming

    Modeling sustainability: population, inequality, consumption, and bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems

    Motesharrei, et. al., December 2016 (National Science Review)

    “Over the last two centuries, the impact of the Human System has grown dramatically, becoming strongly dominant within the Earth System in many different ways. Consumption, inequality, and population have increased extremely fast, especially since about 1950, threatening to overwhelm the many critical functions and ecosystems of the Earth System. Changes in the Earth System, in turn, have important feedback effects on the Human System, with costly and potentially serious consequences…” click here for more

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    China Takes Global Wind Lead

    China Leads Global Wind Power Installation in 2016

    Staff, February 15, 2017 (Brink Asia)

    “China once again led the way globally in terms of installed wind power capacity in 2016, illustrating its continued commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… In 2016, China installed 23.3 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity, almost three times the 8.2 GW that the second place U.S. installed [according to Global Wind Energy Council (GEWC)]. China’s total new capacity fell by almost a quarter from 2015’s 30 GW, driven by impending feed-in tariff reductions, flattening electricity demand growth, and inadequate transmission but] the market is expected to pick up again this year…[Germany’s new installed capacity of 5.4 GW was third, and fourth was] India, which saw 3.6 GW of installations…At the end of 2016, China’s cumulative installed capacity stood at 169 GW, or 34.7 percent of the global total. It was followed by the U.S. with 82 GW, or 16.9 percent of the global total, Germany (10.3 percent) and India (5.9 percent)…” click here for more

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    Aussies Lead Charge To Solar+Storage

    State Of Solar 2016: Globally And In Australia

    February 2017 (Climate Council of Australia)

    “Globally, solar photovoltaic (PV) power is surging on the back of scaled-up production and continually falling costs…Solar costs are now so low that large, industrial-scale solar plants are providing cheaper power than new fossil and nuclear power…Australia remains a world leader in household solar…2017 will be a huge year for large-scale solar in Australia…A range of energy storage technologies will complement the growth of solar power providing secure, flexible power…Solar and battery storage for households and businesses is already gaining traction in Australia – with more than 6,500 households installing the technology. Uptake is expected to triple in 2017…” click here for more

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    How Brexit Could Impact UK Ocean Energy

    Impact of Brexit on the UK and European marine energy sector

    Andrew Williams, 21 February 2017 (Maritime Journal)

    …Although the Brexit decision has certainly ruffled a lot of feathers amongst the political and media classes, early indications suggest that any potentially negative (or indeed positive) business and financial impacts have not yet been felt by the UK marine renewable energy sector…[at least partly because the sector is] flexible…[and partly because it is un likely] the UK would not want to exploit its sovereign resources and make the most of the opportunities this new technology offers…[I]nvestment in the British marine renewable energy sector [remains] strong…[though] there are some signs that the fall out of the Brexit saga is beginning to dent confidence amongst potential investors…[Sector leaders say] uncertainties relating to future funding and government investments in the marine energy sectors…[are a concern and the UK government now has a crucial role to play in] helping to avoid the prospect of the UK marine renewable energy sector slipping down the international league tables…” click here for more

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    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Infrastructure Fix Should Face Changing Climate

    Climate change tied to nation's infrastructure needs

    Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), February 22, 2017 (The Hill)

    “…[T]he combination of extreme weather and crumbling infrastructure…[at Northern California’s Oroville Dam] threatened numerous communities…[The crisis was averted but scientists are documenting a rise in extreme weather events] in response to a warming climate, and Congress has failed to make needed investments in our infrastructure for decades…[There were only three with losses exceeding $1 billion in 1980 but, in] 2016, there were 15 climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion…If we continue with business as usual, roughly 13 million Americans could become climate refugees by the end of the century…[M]ore than 90 percent of published climate scientists believe human activity is the primary cause…[C]arbon pollution is causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces... Yet President Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to ignore the problem and push an extreme agenda that tips the scales on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and special interests…[If] the Trump administration is serious about a bipartisan infrastructure package, they and Congressional leaders must be willing to invest real money and admit that our changing climate is one of the most serious challenges we face…” click here for more

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    Grid Operator Says ‘Gimme More Ocean Wind!’

    Offshore Wind Push; Researchers show US grid can handle more offshore wind power, cutting pollution and power costs

    Tracey Bryant, February 21, 2017 (University of Delaware UDaily)

    “Injecting large amounts of offshore wind power into the U.S. electrical grid is manageable, will cut electricity costs, and will reduce pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, according to…a first-of-its-kind simulation with PJM Interconnection — a grid operator supplying electricity to more than 60 million people in 14 states…[In The challenge of integrating offshore wind power in the U.S. electric grid. Part II: Simulation of electricity market operations, they developed] a computer model that simulates how the electric grid would respond to injections of wind power from offshore wind farms along the East Coast at five build-out levels, between 7 and 70 gigawatts of installed capacity…[Grid operators face the question of] how to integrate increasing amounts of naturally fluctuating offshore wind into a network that has to deliver reliable power to customers, 24-7…[The research] showed conservatively that, with some upgrades to transmission lines but without any need for added storage, the PJM grid can handle over 35 gigawatts of offshore wind…[and] the PJM grid could in the future handle twice that amount, up to 70 gigawatts, as wind forecasting improves…” click here for more

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    Marines Assault Old Energy In $80 Million Solar Build

    These Marines Beat the Odds to Build a Solar Energy Fund

    Jeremy Quittner, February 22, 2017 (Fortune)

    “As marines, Rye Barcott and Dan McCready had plenty of experience performing under pressure, but neither had much knowledge about the high stakes world of investing and finance. That didn’t stop them from leaving their well-paying day jobs to start…[Double Time Capital to invest in utility-scale solar and,] in just over three years, the firm has raised seven funds, totaling $80 million, from investors including Prudential Financial, Burt’s Bees, former Bank of America chief executive Hugh McColl, Jr., and former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who now advises the company…Double Time has financed 36 solar energy projects, which collectively produce roughly 10% of North Carolina’s solar power…Barcott and McCready’s plans run counter to many of the prevailing national trends around alternative energy…Hostile president or not, Barcott and McCready are confident they found a market opportunity. While SolarCity, Vivint and their ilk install individual solar projects on commercial and residential roofs, Barcott and McCready wanted to address the financing needs of the utility-scale solar developers, which provide power directly to the electrical grid via solar farms…” click here for more

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    Cars With Plugs Face Fight With Agro-Oil Alliance

    Big Corn courts Big Oil to combat electric car threat

    Chris Prentice, February 21, 2017 (Reuters via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    “A biofuels lobbying group says it wants to work with the oil industry to fight the threat to both from subsidies for electric vehicles…[The enmity between the two industries over] how much biofuel should be included in gasoline and diesel…is thawing as the growing number of electric cars on the road threatens to cut demand for both renewable and conventional fuels…[E]lectric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million in 2021 and exceed 6 million by 2025, up from 1.1 million last year…[Liquid fuel-powered vehicles] still account for 99 percent of the U.S. auto market and electric vehicles still account for less than 1 percent of U.S. car and light truck sales…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Urgent Need For Planning New Transmission Now

    'Should have started yesterday': Why better transmission planning is urgently necessary for tomorrow's grid; The power mix is changing fast and it will cost ratepayers if transmission planners don’t catch up, according to a new report from the Brattle Group.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 15, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The Trump administration initiative to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is a big opportunity for long-needed new transmission.

    An adage warns that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Transmission experts say system planners may be doing just that. As the U.S. moves toward a power mix with more renewable resources and flexible generation, transmission will be a key element in enabling the grid to handle the transition. Recent record-breaking renewable energy penetrations would have been impossible without aggressive transmission building in recent years. But building transmission lines is one of the most arduous, time-consuming tasks in the power sector, and so even as demand for a more diverse power mix intensifies, transmission buildout struggles to keep pace. A recent Brattle Group report warns that transmission planners are failing to prepare to meet the challenge of the transforming generation mix.

    Successful planning could save $30 to $70 billion in generation and transmission investments through 2030, researchers said. And a well-planned system could net U.S. ratepayers as much as $47 billion in savings annually. The long lead time in planning transmission lines means planning should start immediately to meet the evolving power mix and regulatory goals from 2020 to 2030. The current use of reliability as the primary measure of transmission value and planning leads to a segmented grid, deficient in the flexibility needed to manage the emerging generation mix. And the current transmission investment cycle is the first opportunity in a half-century to streamline the Balkanized system while controlling costs and environmental impacts… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Four Ways To Reconsider Net Metering

    Beyond rate reforms: Bundling strategies could resolve net metering battles; An NREL study evaluated four common strategies used in these debates to find a solution for both sides

    Herman K. Trabish, June 16, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The debate over how to support distributed solar in a way that is fair to all utility customers continues to burn hotly across the country.

    Debates over net metering policies nationwide are notoriously heated, with utilities and solar sector often sharply divided over how to compensate rooftop solar users for their excess energy. Utilities say rooftop solar users don't pay their fair share to maintain the grid and shift those costs onto non-rooftop solar users. Solar advocates argue that utilities and regulators fail to quantify the full value and benefits of distributed solar. Rate reforms have been the primary tool of choice thus far in regulatory proceedings to settle the disputes. But there could be a new way to resolve that debate and satisfy both sides beyond just rate reforms, according to a new National Renewable Energy Laboratory report.

    The paper surveyed various forms of reforms, including rate design and efforts to deploy distributed solar in ways most useful for utilities, and place them in four categories, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. The most familiar strategy are requests from utilities to reduce net metering compensation. The second group of strategies are how distributed generation resources are deployed and used in ways valuable to utilities. Broadening customer access to solar through an expanded market is a third strategy. The fourth—and possibly the most complicated and forward-thinking—strategy, would be to align utility profits and earnings with the deployment of more distributed solar. No single category outlined in the report offers the proverbial silver bullet… click here for more

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