NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2018 - 08/01/2018

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

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Many Values Of Solar Power Plants
  • QUICK NEWS, November 13: This Is What It Looks Like; Astonishing Things About New Energy, Part 1
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Testing Grid Modernization State By State
  • QUICK NEWS, November 12: What Big Oil Is Doing About Climate Change; A Tale Of New Energy In Two States
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: New Energy In The Midterms
  • Weekend Video: On The Algae Case In Florida
  • Weekend Video: Cleaning Up The Pacific Garbage Patch
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A Collection On Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Energy Storage Boom
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU Wind Builders Target Beneficial Electrification
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY,:

  • TTTA Thursday-Voters Rejected Climate Change, New Energy Efforts
  • TTTA Thursday-The Heat Stays On Grid Mod Efforts
  • TTTA Thursday-Ways To Make Retail Energy Choice Work
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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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.

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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING WEDNESDAY at NewEnergyNews, November 14:

  • Solar at the crossroads: Is utility-scale, distributed or both the way to go?
  • Solar has transformed into solar-plus-storage: What will net metering become?

    Tuesday, July 31, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Cost And Performance Of New Energy

    NREL 2018 Annual Technology Baseline

    July 2018 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    The ATB in 2018

    In July 2018, NREL released the 2018 ATB, including the 2018 ATB Cost and Performance Summary of current and projected technology cost and performance data—capacity factor, capital expenditures, fuel cost, operations and maintenance costs, and levelized costs of energy—for 12 generation technologies.

    NREL 2018 Annual Technology Baseline

    The NREL Annual Technology Baseline (ATB)-which is documented here-provides a transparent set of technology cost and performance data for NREL analysis. The ATB data are freely available for use by others in their energy analysis. Learn more about the approach and methodology employed by the ATB, including the sources of current costs it uses and projections on which it relies.

    The ATB represents a populated framework to identify technology-specific cost and performance parameters or other investment decision metrics across a range of resource characteristics, sites, or fuel price assumptions for electricity generation technologies both at present and with projections through 2050. Because of the lag time associated with data development, the base year for the 2018 ATB is 2016. The ATB website includes:

    -A comparison of input assumptions to recent historical trends (which demonstrates the extent to which model inputs represent the current state of technology)

    -Projections of future technology cost and performance relative to other published projections (which illustrate results for a variety of sources)

    -Normalized definitions of variables.

    2018 Annual Technology Baseline Cost and Performance Summary

    The table and figures below summarize current (2016) and projected (2030, 2050) technology cost and performance from the 2017 ATB data spreadsheet by generation technology and year, including CF (capacity factor) range, CAPEX (capital expenditure) range, fuel cost, O&M (operations and maintenance) cost (fixed and variable), and calculated levelized cost of energy (LCOE) range.

    Levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is a simple metric that combines the primary technology cost and performance parameters: CAPEX, O&M, and CF. It is included in the ATB for illustrative purposes. The ATB focuses on defining the primary cost and performance parameters for use in electric sector modeling or other analysis where more sophisticated comparisons among technologies are made. The LCOE accounts for the energy component of electric system planning and operation. The LCOE uses an annual average capacity factor when spreading costs over the anticipated energy generation. This annual capacity factor ignores specific operating behavior such as ramping, start-up, and shutdown that could be relevant for more detailed evaluations of generator cost and value. Electricity generation technologies have different capabilities to provide such services. For example, wind and PV are primarily energy service providers while the other electricity generation technologies provide capacity and flexibility services in addition to energy. These capacity and flexibility services are difficult to value and depend strongly on the system in which a new generation plant is introduced. These services are represented in electric sector models such as the ReEDS model and corresponding analysis results such as the Standard Scenarios.

    To estimate LCOE, assumptions about the cost of capital to finance electricity generation projects are required, and the LCOE calculations are sensitive to these financial assumptions. Three project finance structures are used within the ATB:

    R&D Only Financial Assumptions: This sensitivity case allows technology-specific changes to debt interest rates, return on equity rates, and debt fraction to reflect effects of R&D on technological risk perception, but it holds background rates constant at 2016 values from AEO 2018 and excludes effects of tax reform, tax credits, and tariffs. A constant cost recovery period-or period over which the initial capital investment is recovered-of 30 years is assumed for all technologies.

    R&D Only + Market Financial Assumptions: This sensitivity case retains the technology-specific changes to debt interest, return on equity rates, and debt fraction from the R&D Only case and adds in the variation over time consistent with AEO 2018, as well as effects of tax reform, tax credits, and tariffs. As in the R&D Only case, a constant cost recovery period-or period over which the initial capital investment is recovered-of 30 years is assumed for all technologies. For a detailed discussion of these assumptions, see Changes from 2017 ATB to 2018 ATB.

    ReEDS Financial Assumptions: ReEDS uses the R&D Only + Market Financial Assumptions for the "Mid" technology cost scenario.

    These parameters are allowed to vary by year. Effects of the PV import tariffs are represented, as are the recent changes to Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and corporate tax rates. The equations and variables used to estimate LCOE are defined on the equations and variables page. For illustration of the impact of changing financial structures such as WACC, see Project Finance Impact on LCOE.

    For the renewable electricity generation technologies, Constant, Mid, and Low technology cost scenarios appearing in the table and figures refer to a range of perspectives based on publicly available literature. These three technology advance scenarios are generally described as follows:

    Constant: Base Year (or near-term estimates of projects under construction) equivalent through 2050 maintains current relative technology cost differences.

    Mid: technology advances through continued industry growth, public and private R&D investments, and market conditions relative to current levels that may be characterized as " likely," or " not surprising"

    Low: Technology advances that may occur with breakthroughs, increased public and private R&D investments, and/or other market conditions that lead to cost and performance levels that may be characterized as the " limit of surprise" , but not necessarily the absolute low bound.

    For conventional technologies, Constant, Mid, and Low technology cost designations appearing in the tables and figures refer to a range of fuel price projections derived from AEO 2017.

    The following technology abbreviations are shown: CC: combined cycle…CCS: carbon capture and storage…CSP: concentrating solar power…CT: combustion turbine…IGCC: integrated gasification combined cycle…PC: pulverized coal…TES: thermal energy storage.

    Cost and Performance Summary Tables for the Mid Cost Scenario

    R&D Only 2016

    R&D Only 2030

    R&D Only 2050

    R&D + Market 2016

    R&D + Market 2030

    R&D + Market 2050

    …The ATB plant characteristics (and associated resource quality) that most closely align with recently installed or anticipated near-term installations of electricity generation plants are as follows (see individual technology sections for description of ATB representative plant characteristics):

    Land-based wind - TRG 4…Offshore wind - TRGs 3-5…Utility-scale PV - Kansas City…Commercial PV - Kansas City..Residential PV - Kansas City…CSP - Excellent resource…Geothermal - Hydrothermal Flash…Hydropower - NPD 4…Natural gas - Gas CC - High CF and Gas-CC-CCF-High CF…Coal - Coal-New - High CF and Coal-CCS-30%-High CF…Nuclear - no range represented in the ATB; this may be developed in future collaborations with nuclear experts…Biopower - Dedicated…

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    QUICK NEWS, July 31: How To Know What Climate Change Causes; New Energy Facts For Investors

    How To Know What Climate Change Causes Droughts, Heat Waves and Floods: How to Tell When Climate Change Is to Blame; Weather forecasters will soon provide instant assessments of global warming’s influence on extreme events

    Quirin Schiermeier, July 30, 2018 (Scientific American)

    “…[New University of Oxford computer modeling shows] climate change made the current heatwave] more than twice as likely to occur in many places…Germany’s national weather agency is preparing to be the first in the world to offer rapid assessments of [human-induced climate change’s] connection to particular meteorological events [like heatwaves and floods]. By 2019 or 2020, the agency hopes to post its findings on social media almost instantly, with full public reports following one or two weeks after an event…The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, UK, is preparing to pilot a similar programme by 2020…[A]fter more than 170 studies in peer-reviewed journals, attribution science is poised to burst out of the lab and move into the everyday world.

    …[Disasters] are likely to become more common because the build-up of greenhouse gases is altering the atmosphere…But extreme weather can also arise from natural cycles…Researchers say that teasing out the role of human-induced global warming—as opposed to natural fluctuations—in individual weather extremes will help city planners, engineers and home-owners to understand which kinds of floods, droughts and other weather calamities are increasing in risk. And surveys suggest that people are more likely to support policies focused on adapting to climate-change impacts when they have just experienced extreme weather, so quickly verifying a connection between a regional event and climate change, or ruling it out, could be particularly effective…” click here for more

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    New Energy Facts For Investors …Misconceptions About Renewable Energy That Could Lead Investors Astray; Blindly believing these renewable energy arguments could lead investors to sell great stocks (or buy bad ones) at the wrong time.

    Maxx Chatsko, July 30, 2018 (Motley Fool)

    “…The fast rise of wind and solar bodes well for reaching international climate goals, and it has also proven to be great for individual investors who know where to look…[but] there are still quite a few misconceptions about renewable energy…[W]ind and solar energy have sprinted down the cost curve -- and they're headed lower…[O]n a levelized cost basis unsubsidized wind power is the cheapest source of electricity generation in the United States at just $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). That's followed by the newest natural gas-fired power plants at $0.04 per kWh and, surprisingly, unsubsidized utility-scale solar power at $0.043 per kWh…

    …[O]il majors generate tens of billions of dollars in free cash flow per year, and they're beginning to invest in renewable energy businesses…[They appear to be slowly transforming] into electric and gas utilities, which will come in handy as global transportation shuns liquid fuels for electric charging…[Much of the investment is in offshore wind technology, which holds tremendous promise for taking renewable energy to the next level…[W]ind energy is on pace to overtake hydro as the nation's top renewable energy source [by] 2019…At 55%, solar comprised the majority of all new generation capacity installed on the grid in the first quarter of 2018…Investors who dare to peek ahead to 2030 will see plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future of renewable energy…Renewable energy represents a great opportunity for individual investors to build long-term wealth…” click here for more

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    Monday, July 30, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Why A Carbon Tax

    Achieving U.S. Emissions Targets With A Carbon Tax

    Noah Kaufman, Eleanor Krause, Kehan Desousa, June 2018 (World Resources Institute)

    Highlights

    ▪ Adding an “emissions target mechanism” to a carbon tax will help to ensure that national emissions targets are achieved. ▪ Such a mechanism would involve a periodic evaluation of whether greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels are too high, and, if so, would ensure a policy change is triggered. ▪ The policy change may involve adjustments to carbon tax rates, increasing government spending in ways that reduce emissions, or activating a “back-stop” policy or regulation. ▪ Emissions targets can be achieved most cost-efectively when a carbon tax is supplemented by complementary policies. ▪ Policies that are likely to complement a carbon tax include those that support low carbon innovation, encourage energy savings from customers, target diferent emissions sources, or target diferent policy objectives. ▪ The importance of emissions target mechanisms and additional policies alongside a carbon tax depends on the tax rate and other details of the carbon tax policy

    Executive Summary

    A national carbon tax would decrease U.S. GHG emissions by providing a fnancial incentive to shift to less carbonintensive behavior. Additional policies and mechanisms alongside a carbon tax can further decrease emissions and improve economic outcomes. This paper, the fourth in a series by World Resources Institute (WRI) on carbon pricing in the United States, provides an overview of how a carbon tax can ft into a broader strategy to achieve national GHG emissions targets by ensuring that emissions targets are achieved with sufcient certainty and by surrounding the tax with complementary policies that enable larger and more cost-efective emissions reductions.

    Policymakers can add an emissions target mechanism to a carbon tax to help ensure that emissions targets are met. The response of producers and consumers to a carbon tax cannot be predicted with certainty, so future emissions levels are uncertain. Some advocates of climate change policy are skeptical of carbon taxes due to the possibility that emissions levels under the tax may be higher than expected, jeopardizing national emissions targets. However, in two simple steps, policymakers can design a mechanism that can ease concerns of higher-than-expected emissions under a carbon tax.

    The first step is a periodic evaluation of whether GHG emissions levels are too high, which involves setting the timing and benchmarks by which the emissions trajectory is evaluated. Hypothetically, the policy could say that if the total annual emissions covered by the tax are above a benchmark, for example 4 gigatons (GT) of CO2 after fve years, the emissions trajectory is too high. To enable even greater control over emissions outcomes, policymakers can opt for more frequent evaluations, more complex benchmarks than annual emissions covered by the tax, and/or a benchmark that is relatively close to the emissions trajectory expected under the tax. If, instead, the tax is expected to drive emissions well below the benchmark, the mechanism is akin to an insurance policy against an unlikely high emissions outcome.

    The second step is a policy change that is triggered when the evaluation deems emissions levels to be too high. This policy change can come in many forms, which we separate into four categories:

    1. Automatic adjustments to carbon tax rates. Greater emissions reductions can be achieved by increasing future carbon tax rates above originally planned levels. Switzerland’s carbon tax does just that, and because 2016 emissions exceeded a benchmark prescribed in the legislation (73 percent of 1990 emissions), the tax rate will increase from $87 to $100 per metric ton in 2018 (Hafstead et al. 2017; World Bank 2017). Alternatively, the adjustments could shift all future tax levels upward by a certain percentage, so that, say, a 4 percent annual increase is raised to a 10 percent increase until emissions have fallen below the benchmark trajectory (Metcalf 2009). Under this approach, regulated entities would need to plan for multiple possible future tax levels, but they would still beneft from a predictable regulatory pathway; improving regulatory certainty can reduce compliance costs and boost innovation (Mordfn 2014).

    2. Increasing government spending in ways that reduce emissions. If emissions levels are higher than expected, carbon tax revenues will also be higher than expected. The legislation could direct a government agency to use this “extra” revenue to fund activities that further reduce GHG emissions; for example, the revenue could fund changes in forest and agricultural practices or to capture methane leaks (Murray et al. 2017). Unlike an adjustment in the tax schedule, this policy change would not directly afect regulated entities. Similar to “ofset programs” included in cap-and-trade policies, this approach requires a market for additional mitigation opportunities and strong monitoring and verifcation of emissions reductions, which is a challenge for many emissions sources (Murray et al. 2017). Another challenge could arise if the extra revenue is insufcient to reduce emissions to desired levels; in theory, policymakers could divert additional funding, but those funds would need to be diverted from another intended use or from increased debt, which could create signifcant political challenges.

    3. Activating a “back-stop” policy or regulation. A carbon tax can be paired with an alternative policy that ensures sufcient emissions reductions and is implemented only when the evaluation deems emissions to be too high. While the federal government has broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, current federal regulations have not achieved emissions reductions that are as large and as certain as a strong carbon tax would achieve, which are prerequisites for a useful “back-stop.” The back-stop policy would therefore likely need to consist of additional policies or regulations passed alongside the carbon tax, such as a national cap-and-trade program or far more stringent versions of current federal climate regulations, which could signifcantly increase the political hurdles of passing legislation.

    4. A streamlined process for modifying the carbon tax based on new information. Carbon tax legislation could include a process by which the policy is periodically reviewed and revised based on new information about climate science, the cost of the policy, and/or the actions of other countries. Aldy (2017) provides one detailed proposal, whereby changes to the future carbon tax levels proposed by the U.S. president would receive an expedited “up or down” vote in Congress with no amendments or flibusters, similar to the process for congressional approval of trade agreements. Under Aldy’s proposal, if the president’s recommendation is voted down, the status quo carbon tax levels would remain. This approach provides fexibility to respond to changing circumstances, but also relies on future governments to act in good faith in developing and using new information to improve the policy.

    None of these approaches would entirely eliminate the uncertainty in emissions outcomes, but the objective of the mechanism is to enable countries to credibly make and follow through on emissions pledges, not to achieve precise emissions outcomes.

    Additional policies alongside a carbon tax can further reduce emissions in a cost-efective manner. The following are three major categories of policies that can complement a carbon tax as part of broader strategy to achieve a U.S. emissions target:

    ▪ Policies, regulations, incentives, and infrastructure that support low-carbon innovation. Technological progress occurs naturally in a market economy, and a strong and stable carbon tax is one important way to encourage innovation in low-carbon technologies. But, even with a carbon tax in place, the private sector will underinvest in the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) of emerging low-carbon technologies. Investors prefer short-term payofs and minimal risk, and they make decisions largely based on their own expected fnancial gains, and not the much broader societal benefts that derive from the emergence of new and productive technologies. These barriers can be addressed with government-sponsored RDD&D, incentives for deployment of early-stage technologies, regulations, and infrastructure that encourage the emergence of low-carbon technologies.

    The U.S. federal government has been involved in all stages of RDD&D in low-carbon technologies through grants, loans, subsidies, and the work of national laboratories and other government ofces. Still, most experts recommend signifcantly increasing current funding levels for research and development (R&D) of emerging low-carbon technologies (Newell 2015). Governments should be more cautious in supporting more mature technologies to avoid “crowding out” private sector actions, but targeted policies that encourage early-stage deployment (e.g., solar photovoltaic [PV]) and largescale demonstration projects (e.g., carbon capture and storage [CCS]) have and will continue to be essential in enabling emerging low-carbon technologies to compete on a level playing feld with high-carbon alternatives.

    ▪ Policies that encourage energy savings from consumers. A carbon tax encourages energy savings by increasing the price of energy, but a price signal alone is insufcient to induce consumers to take advantage of all cost-efective opportunities to improve energy efciency. Consumers often lack incentives that reward long-run energy savings, sufcient information about energy efciency opportunities, or the means to invest in new equipment (Gerarden et al. 2017).

    Policies can help to overcome these market barriers by providing information, targeted fnancial incentives, or technology standards. A wide range of policies are currently on the books to support energy efciency, including at the federal level (e.g., energy efciency standards for appliances and equipment, and fuel economy standards for vehicles), at the state level (e.g., 20 states have binding mandates requiring utilities to achieve specifed levels of customer energy savings), and at the local level (e.g., cities like Austin, Texas, that mandate home energy audits). Energy efciency policies that enable emissions reductions or other objectives at a relatively low cost are important complements to a carbon price.

    ▪ Policies targeting “uncovered” emissions or intending to achieve nonclimate objectives. A large majority of GHG emissions can be covered by a carbon tax with relative ease, including nearly all CO2 emissions from energy use, which make up about 80 percent of U.S. emissions. However, the administrative burdens associated with covering certain categories of GHG emissions (e.g., methane leaks from fossil fuel systems) with a carbon tax may be sufciently large that alternative policies are preferred, particularly in situations where emissions sources are highly dispersed and reductions are difcult to verify. For example, in 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued performance standards requiring oil and gas producers to reduce methane emissions from new or modifed equipment, using technologies and methods that the government would be able to monitor and enforce (U.S. EPA 2016).

    Policies intended to achieve nonclimate objectives and reduce GHG emissions as a “cobeneft” can also complement a carbon tax. For example, regulations of conventional air pollutants like particulate matter often cause signifcant GHG emissions reductions because they discourage an activity (e.g., burning coal for electricity in power plants without emission controls) that produces both types of emissions.

    Policies that do not fall into these three categories are less efective complements to a carbon tax if they are likely to involve administrative and regulatory costs without achieving signifcant climate benefts. In particular, policies may be duplicative if they (1) address the same emissions sources and (2) do not have a major rationale aside from reducing GHG emissions (e.g., addressing a separate market barrier). Indeed, if a sufciently strong federal carbon tax is implemented, some policies are likely to be partially or fully duplicative from a GHG-reduction perspective.

    The benefts of mechanisms and policies alongside a carbon tax depend on the details of the tax. If carbon tax levels are relatively low, it is more likely that an emissions target mechanism will be triggered to achieve a given emissions target. Alternatively, stronger complementary policies may be needed because the carbon tax alone is not “pulling its weight.” For example, with a “weak” carbon tax that insufciently encourages private sector investments in clean energy innovation, additional government support for RDD&D— from support for basic research to incentives for deployment of emerging technologies—could help fll this gap.

    On the other hand, if carbon tax rates are sufciently high to comfortably achieve emissions targets, a mechanism that kicks in when emissions are too high is unlikely to be triggered. Still, even an emissions target mechanism that is never triggered can be an important component of a national climate change strategy—after all, ensuring that emissions targets are achieved without such a mechanism may require higher carbon taxes or additional complementary policies, both of which could impose additional costs on regulated entities and taxpayers.

    Assembling a coalition of lawmakers to pass strong federal climate legislation will require policies that stand up to environmental and economic scrutiny. Even among those inclined to support a carbon tax, some powerful voices (e.g., many in the environmental community) will push for greater emissions certainty and additional policies alongside the tax, while others (e.g., many in industry) will push for greater policy simplicity, regulatory certainty, and fewer duplicative regulations. Designing a policy that earns support from both groups will be a major political challenge. By combining a strong carbon tax with a simple emissions target mechanism and a targeted portfolio of complementary policies that focuses on areas where a carbon tax has limitations, policymakers can design a national climate strategy that achieves ambitious emissions targets cost-efectively, which should earn the support of all groups that wish to reduce the risks of climate change…

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    QUICK NEWS, July 30: Plug In To Beat Climate Change And Clean Up; How Utilities Can Drive Plugging In

    Plug In To Beat Climate Change And Clean Up Cleaner Cars Are a Win for America, Trump Isn’t Helping

    Dan West, July 26, 2018 (National Resources Defense Council)

    “Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, so to tackle climate change we need to be speeding away from the internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles (EVs) are leading the way. The EV transition will not only reduce transportation emissions, create jobs for U.S. workers, and provide more choices and fuel savings for consumers, it presents an incredibly lucrative opportunity for whichever carmakers can innovate fast enough to capture the market. It’s helpful to compare the world’s two largest car markets: the United States and China…Chinese carmakers are electrifying their fleets faster than U.S. companies. State controls and public subsidies play a huge role in China’s EV market, and the domestic industry that serves it…Unfortunately, the Trump administration, with its policies discouraging clean car innovation, isn’t helping…” click here for more

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    How Utilities Can Drive Plugging In Utilities Should Invest in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

    Daniel Gatti, July 5, 2018 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    “…Across the country, many utilities are stepping up to build the EV infrastructure that we need…The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved $738 million in electric vehicle infrastructure proposed by PG&E, SCE and SDG&E, including hundreds of millions for charging heavy duty vehicles such as buses and trucks…Utilities in Maryland have recently proposed a $104 million investment in charging infrastructure that would create 24,000 charging stations across the state…The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities recently approved a $45 million investment by Eversource. A comparable investment by Massachusetts’ other major utility National Grid is still pending in front of the DPU…Ohio has recently approved a $10 million pilot for electric vehicle charging stations…

    …[Utilities should invest in electric vehicle infrastructure because EVs represent] an enormous opportunity…Converting our vehicle fleet to electricity could add as much as 1,000 terawatt hours of demand onto our electric grid, an increase of about 25 percent of current levels. If managed correctly, this large and flexible load could significantly increase the efficiency of our electric system, which would benefit not only EV drivers but also all ratepayers, providing lower costs…In the long run, widespread deployment of EVs could also be a source of energy storage, filling a critical need as our electricity system moves away from fossil fuels toward intermittent sources of power, such as wind and solar…Building more EV infrastructure will help more people and businesses make the switch…Creating an EV charging network that can compete with our oil infrastructure will require tens of thousands of new charging stations…” click here for more

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    Saturday, July 28, 2018

    The Heat And Some Solutions From Trevor Noah

    It will take innovation to beat climate change. Here are Trevor Noah’s suggestions. From Comedy Central via YouTube

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    How Wind Pays For Pensions

    Wind developers pay property taxes and those taxes fund all kinds of public programs. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    The Battery Revolution

    In battery technology and the transportation electrification, the news is good and getting better. From Future Lab via YouTube

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    Friday, July 27, 2018

    How To Reply To Deniers

    Climate change science comeback strategies; Steering conversations with people adamantly resistant to accepting climate science. (Part I)

    Karin Kirk, July 26, 2018 (Yale Climate Connections)

    “…[M]any feel understandably helpless watching misinformation accelerate throughout society…[but lobbing] talking points back and forth typically only entrenches deeply held positions, a process known as belief polarization…[Here are four strategies] useful in either a face-to-face conversation on an online chat…[The first lesson is] have a conscious strategy, rather than a knee-jerk response…[Making the other person feel bad or look bad may not be] helpful…

    [Strategy #1 is that] a healthy dose of science is rarely a bad idea, as long as it’s delivered in a constructive manner…[Strategy #2 is to expose] the myth, misinformation, or fallacy…[Strategy #3 is take a deep breath and do the unthinkable: listen. Then gently engage. Also, disengage if things go wrong. Strategy #4 is to use persuasive tools like] graphics…[In short,] know the science. Know your values. Be caring. Don’t expect dramatic, visible changes of heart…” click here for more

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    2020 To See 22.5% New Energy Globally

    Renewable energy to reach 22.5% share in global power mix in 2020

    16 July 2018 (Power Technology)

    “The global power sector is witnessing a gradual transition from conventional thermal power-generating sources toward clean energy technologies…The renewables share was 8.6% in the global energy mix in 2010 and is expected to increase to 22.5% in 2020…As changing geopolitical interests in the Middle East change the oil and gas supply markets, renewable energy is turning out to be a bright area in the global energy economy…[Growth rates over the last two years] were higher when compared with conventional fuel market rates…Global cumulative installed renewable power capacity was 1,236 gigawatts (GW) in 2017. Renewable power installations in developing markets witnessed a significant growth in comparison with the developed markets of North America and Europe…The total installed capacity of renewable energy sources was 437GW in 2010…It grew more than 2.5x to 1,236GW in 2017 and had an installed capacity share of 18.2%. Wind power was the largest renewable source…followed by solar…[Growth is forecast to continue as costs for wind and solar PV fall and incentive schemes are] replaced by reverse bidding mechanisms, leading to a boom in the construction of utility-scale power projects…” click here for more

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    German Renewables Overpower Russian Gas

    Russian Gas Doesn't Power Germany - Renewable Energy Does

    Dave Keating, July 23, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…[A]t a NATO summit, Donald Trump accused Germany of being ‘controlled’ by Russia because of its [70%] dependence on Russian gas…In fact, Germany only gets 34% of its natural gas from Russia, roughly equal to the amount it gets from Norway and from the Netherlands. In total, natural gas accounts for just 23% of Germany’s primary energy use – and only 13.5% of the electricity generated at power plants…[And, as] of July 1, renewable energy has surpassed coal to become Germany’s largest single power source in the country’s gross power production mix…

    …[Renewable energy – mostly wind and solar – generated] 36.3% of Germany’s power so far this year, while coal provided 35.1%. Gas provided 12.3%, just above nuclear at 11.3%...Germany’s Energiewende, the ambitious renewable energy policy the country has had in place since 2010, is getting the power source to a level where it can easily replace disappearing coal and nuclear…But there are important caveats…[First, these] figures are only for power generation – not for all of Germany’s energy use, which also includes heating and transport. Natural gas provides around 23% of that total, while renewables provide only around 13%...[Second, these renewables numbers] are a reflection of ambitious action taken several years ago. In recent years, renewables expansion has been lagging…Germany’s energy mix is far more complex than Trump’s rant…” click here for more

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    Thursday, July 26, 2018

    The New Generation At The Climate Change Museum

    Teens help reimagine America’s first climate change museum

    Justine Calma, July 24, 2018 (Grist)

    “…[For 17-year-olds Alysa Chen and Johanna Neggie, senior] year is quickly approaching — so are the impending dangers of climate change…Neggie is interested in public policy, but watching the Trump administration roll back key environmental protections has been discouraging…[Chen, who’s considering becoming an environmental attorney, said her peers are not thinking about climate change. But she and Neggie are thinking about lawsuits and planning to vote on environmental issues. And Chen is] on the Youth Advisory Council for the forthcoming Climate Museum in New York — the first of its kind in North America — [which] will engage her generation in what they see as the biggest battle of their lifetime…

    The museum, which is holding pop-up programming until it lands a permanent space, is offering much more than science and art on display. It’s hitting the streets [and] bringing science experiments to kids at local events…Last fall, the museum began its public programming with a multimedia exhibit on ice cores. In January, the museum hosted a workshop for youth to tour the exhibit and then create their own media that would merge science and art and bring young voices to the climate conversation…The Natural History Museum opened its first permanent exhibit on climate change this summer, which was lauded for helping modernize the museum with huge screens kept up-to-date with the latest climate science…[But it urges kids not to] touch the screens…” click here for more

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    Local Action And Climate Change

    'The US government has checked out on renewables': can cities fill the gap?

    Oliver Milman, 24 July 2018 (UK Guardian)

    “…[Burlington,Vermont, switched on a new hydropower plant in late 2014 and became the first US city to run entirely on clean power…The achievement has since been thrown into sharp relief by the election of Donald Trump, who has attempted to squash any sort of national response to climate change…[Now, motivated by the climate change crisis, more than 60 cities have] pledged to shift their electricity generation from fossil fuels to cleaner sources such as solar, wind and hydro…[Burlington’s] path to 100% renewable energy was smoothed by an engaged, progressive populace concerned about diminishing snow on nearby ski runs and heatwaves triggering algal blooms on Lake Champlain. Crucially, the city owns the local utility…Other, larger cities [like Atlanta and San Francisco] are also looking to push ahead…Some Republican-led cities such as San Diego [and Carmel, Indiana] have also thrown their weight behind the goal…” click here for more

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    The Fight For Solar Spreading

    The 50 States of Solar: 42 States and D.C. Took Action on Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design During Q2 2018

    July 25, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…42 states and the District of Columbia took [148 distributed solar policy actions] during Q2 2018…[The greatest number were related] to residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases, net metering policies and community solar policies…[and the greatest number were] taken in California, Arizona, New York, Virginia and Massachusetts…[The Q2 2018 The 50 States of Solar from NCCETC] identifies three trends in solar policy activity…(1) states working to increase low-income customer participation in community solar programs, (2) state legislatures considering bills effectively undoing or amending regulatory decisions, and (3) regulators approving residential fixed charge reductions…[The top five policy developments were] Connecticut becoming the latest state to move away from net metering; The New Jersey legislature adopting a statewide community solar policy; The Florida Public Service Commission opening the door to residential solar leasing; Idaho regulators approving Idaho Power’s request to separate distributed generation customers into a unique class; and Colorado, Connecticut, and New York regulators approving residential fixed charge reductions…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Getting to 'head-spinning' low prices for U.S. offshore wind

    Getting to 'head-spinning' low prices for U.S. offshore wind; Projected additions to U.S. offshore wind capacity are expected to drive the emergence of the domestic support system the sector needs to drive prices closer to other generation options.

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 23, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The prices for offshore wind continue to drop.

    The numbers for U.S. offshore wind show an energy sector that is market-ready and likely on the verge of becoming a power system player. Until now, the U.S. offshore wind industry has been slow to develop. There is only one operational project, with only 30 MW installed capacity and a power purchase agreement price of $0.244/kWh. The just-locked-in price for two projects yet to be built in Maryland has come down drastically, to $0.132/kWh. But even that is nowhere near the high end of the levelized cost for energy reported by Lazard for onshore wind, at $0.06/kWh, or for natural gas, at $0.078/kWh. Researchers and advocates in the U.S. say there are changes within reach that can bring offshore wind costs down.

    Wind builders are perfecting methods of identifying where the best winds are. The needed domestic supply chain will respond to the right market signals. And where the market goes, the money will eventually follow, offshore wind experts told Utility Dive. Europe has set the bar for low-price offshore wind so far. Global offshore wind leader Ørsted reported a 63% price drop between 2010 and 2016. In the UK, which has 36% of global installed capacity, the levelized cost dropped 32% from 2010 to 2016 and the current Europe-wide price is projected to drop 67% by 2025, according to the U.S. Department of Enegy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The next big data point, expected to take U.S. offshore wind’s price below the 45% price drop from Block Island to the Maryland projects, will come when prices for the 1600 MW recently approved for Massachusetts and Connecticutt are made public… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: MA to have the first mandatory U.S. residential demand charge

    Will the country's first mandatory residential demand charge slow the Massachusetts solar boom? Opponents of the charge, approved as part of an Eversource rate case, say it could harm the growth of solar and other distributed resources by significantly increasing costs for customers.

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 25, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The Eversource proposal remains under legal appeal and continues to threaten long term solar growth inMassachusetts.

    Massachusetts regulators made history Jan. 5 by approving a three-part rate for Eversource Energy that includes a mandatory demand charge for residential customers who own distributed energy resources. Eversource is the first regulated electric utility to win approval for such a charge from state regulators. It is one of the best examples so far of new strategies being used by utilities to advance controversial rate concepts, such as demand charges. A demand charge, which is common for commercial-industrial customers, imposes a significantly higher per-kWh charge for the kWh used during a customer’s highest 15 minutes of electricity consumption each month. For some commercial-industrial customers, it makes the cost for that 15-minute period as much as half their monthly bill.

    Thanks to Massachusetts’ strong solar policies, it became the eighth biggest U.S. residential solar market by 2016, rising to sixth in Q3 2017, according to the most recent Solar Energy Industries Association figures. But Eversource opponents say the demand charge could compromise the value proposition for distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar, and retard market growth, by causing the same bill increases for residential customers that it tends to cause for commercial-industrial customers. For that and other reasons, the Eversource demand charge elicited an appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Court and stirred debate about the future of so in the state at the legislature… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Companies Moving To Social Purposes

    Brands & Stands; Social purpose is the new black

    July 2018 (The Shelton Group)

    This year, Dick’s Sporting Goods took a stand. In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the company made a bold decision to discontinue its sales of assault-style rifles. In response to public outcry over gun violence, the company took this stand and stuck by it. They didn’t equivocate or change their minds when opposing parties criticized them. They didn’t need reassurance or reward, they just did what they felt was right. In our culture, there’s a sea change going on when it comes to companies taking a stand for things. The “CEO Activist” model is becoming more and more accepted, and companies aren’t shying away from voicing their opinions on current, and often controversial, political issues. Consumers expect it, too.

    86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues.

    How do consumers feel about companies pushing social purpose?

    In a nationwide survey of 1,000 consumers, we sought to:

    • Learn what types of social causes consumers most want companies to address

    • Figure out how taking a stand on social issues can create connection with, and win loyalty from, consumers

    • Explore what makes consumers love brands more in general, and how social responsibility and environmental causes fit into the bigger picture of brand relationship

    64% of those who said it’s “extremely important” for a company to take a stand on a social issue said they were “very likely” to purchase a product based on that commitment.

    Social purpose makes a good investment, if done correctly How do these attitudes really play out? How do they affect brand favorability? A closer look at the results reveals some importance nuances companies should keep in mind as they pursue social purpose.

    Don’t fall for just anything … stand for the right thing

    Nearly two-thirds of consumers believe that certain issues fit with certain brands.

    Compare that to only 13% who believe companies should support an issue that is currently in the news. To figure out what purpose your company should espouse, look to your primary business first. For example:

    • Hellmann’s® mayonnaise supports the production of cage-free eggs, a key ingredient in its product.

    • The TOMS® One for One® program matches each pair of shoes bought with the donation of shoes to a child in need.

    • Stella Artois® has been supporting clean drinking water for people in the developing world since 2015, and asking consumers to “Buy a Lady a Drink” through their chalice purchase promotion.

    These companies started with their core business and identified a social purpose that made sense for them. This doesn’t mean companies can’t or shouldn’t get involved in a variety of causes, but it’s much more likely consumers will remember your brand’s cause if it relates to your primary product or service. So that’s where you should focus your storytelling and marketing efforts.

    Shout it from the rooftops!

    Despite consumers’ strong beliefs that companies should actively support social causes, they aren’t good at remembering which companies are doing what. Consumers receive a constant barrage of messages from all sides, so if you want credit for your social purpose stand, it’s essential that you make your message stand out and that it’s easy to remember and to relate back to your brand.

    92% could not correctly match more than half of the brands we tested to their stands.

    Brands and stands we tested:

    • Amazon donates .5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of choice.

    • CVS stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

    • Dawn has donated thousands of bottles to wildlife rescue workers at The Marine Mammal Center and International Bird Rescue to help rescue and release wild animals affected by oil pollution.

    • Dick’s Sporting Goods took a stand on selling guns, removing assault-style rifles from its offerings and instating a minimum age for gun purchases.

    • Dove helps young people overcome body image issues and fulfill their potential by building positive body confidence and self-esteem.

    • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Mayonnaise Dressings are now made exclusively from cage-free eggs.

    • McDonald’s aims to get 100% of its packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

    • Newman’s Own Foundation donates 100% of net profits and royalties from the sale of food and beverage products to support nonprofits around the world.

    • Starbucks committed to hire more than 10,000 refugees globally over five years.

    • Stella Artois supports the “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign to help provide clean water for people in the developing world.

    • TOMS One for One program matches every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need.

    To know you is to love you

    49% of consumers could name a brand that they have become more favorable toward in general, and most said that the reason a brand’s image improved in their minds was because the brand came out with a new or updated product (53%) or provided great customer service (34%). But when prompted, 30% of those who named a brand that had improved in their minds said the brand image improved because of the social stand it took – which made social purpose the third most impactful thing a company could do to increase brand image. In mature product categories where consumers could see two brands as similar in terms of new products, service, performance, etc., social purpose can absolutely be the thing that tips the scales in one brand’s favor … and its products into consumers’ carts.

    Out of 30% of those who named a brand that had improved in their minds because of the social stand it took ...

    • 16% said it was because the brand “took a stand on an issue that aligns with products and services they offer.”

    • 13% said it was because they “found out they support one of my favorite causes.”

    • 11% said it was because the brand “took a stand on a current social issue.”

    Any company has a chance to stand and deliver. No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, if you make a bold commitment and tell your story loudly and compellingly enough, you have just as good a chance to win brand love as any other company. The keys are:

    • Choose a social purpose that fits with your business’ products and services

    • Pursue it passionately

    • Communicate, communicate, communicate…

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