NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: NatGas, not renewables, driving coal, nuclear woes

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    Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: NatGas, not renewables, driving coal, nuclear woes

    Gas, not renewables, driving coal, nuclear woes; DOE labs show how much; The findings have important implications for DOE's proposal to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear plants.

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 5, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Follow-up research recently showed this pattern will be accentuated by higher levels of New Energy and scientists are now working to design ways to accommodate the accelerating transition.

    Low natural gas prices, not high renewable energy penetrations, are the main cause of low and negative electricity prices that are negatively impacting coal and nuclear operators, a new report from two DOE national labs finds. "There is little relationship between the location of recent (2010‐2016) coal, nuclear and other thermal retirements and [renewable] penetration levels, "Impacts of Variable Renewable Energy on Bulk Power System Assets, Pricing, and Costs" from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Argonne National Laboratory says. The findings have important implications for the current federal debate to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear plants. Advocates for these resources argue they are needed for reliability, but disadvantaged by state and federal supports for variable renewable energies (VREs).

    The numbers — displayed in the graphs here — show that the market share loss for coal and nuclear is mainly due to their inability to compete against natural gas. There is widespread agreement that electricity prices are trending lower and there are three common answers to why, LBNL research scientist and report co-author Andrew Mills told Utility Dive. One is low natural gas prices, another is flattening load, and the third is the growth of renewables. But when the researchers did the quantification, they found the impacts of flattened load and high renewables penetrations to be much less significant than the impact of low natural gas prices…There is stronger evidence that some higher penetrations of VRE will eventually have quantifiably higher impacts on retirements, Mills said… click here for more

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