NewEnergyNews: 10/01/2018 - 11/01/2018

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?

    Wednesday, October 31, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Will batteries do for wind what they're doing for solar?

    Will batteries do for wind what they're doing for solar? Will batteries do for wind what they're doing for solar?

    Herman K. Trabish, May 31, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The use of storage with large-scale New Energy generation is increasing as prices continue to drop.

    Energy storage is storming the U.S. power industry, driving changes from the bulk system level to the customer level. At the system level, February's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 841 required bulk system operators to design new rules to integrate storage. April's Order 845 rewrote the rules on interconnection, opening new opportunities for storage. At the customer level, state lawmakers and regulators in 32 states considered 57 policy actions on deployment, targets, studies and rebates for energy storage in Q1 of this year. Until about 2015, utility executives and renewable energy skeptics regarded cost-competitive battery energy storage as unachievable. Today, it is a central focus of the power sector.

    "We always called it the 'holy grail' because we knew too much wind and solar would break the grid without energy storage, but we thought it would always be too expensive," former Southern California Edison VP Jim Kelly told Utility Dive a 2015 conference. As the stack of services storage can offer, including capacity and resilience, became understood, it went from a holy grail to the hottest topic in energy. Lithium-ion batteries have captured the most attention, but there are several other fast-advancing battery chemistries and storage technologies, according to the November 2017 Levelized Cost of Storage Analysis from Lazard. Battery storage's cost is highly variable because of the range of technologies and applications, but the much-discussed cost plummet is real. The overall estimated cost fell 32% in 2015 and 2016, according to the 2017 GTM Reseach utility-scale storage report. That will slow over the next five years…But battery storage is — in certain places and applications — on its way to cost-competitiveness… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Minnesota is inching toward performance-based oversight

    Performance-based regulation: How Minnesota is inching toward a new oversight model; New insights could slow Minnesota’s cutting-edge move to a performance-based utility business model

    Herman K. Trabish, April 24, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The idea of changing the rules to align utility incentives with customer demand is gaining momentum.

    Performance-based regulation needs more work before it is ready to effectively deal with the perverse incentive, according a stakeholder group studying cutting-edge utility oversight proposals in Minnesota. A completely new performance-based regulatory approach may be less effective than innovative alternatives to the existing cost-of-service (COS) regulation, stakeholders told Utility Dive. The perverse incentive is the curse of traditional COS regulation. It rewards regulated utilities with a return on capital expenditures even if they are not the lowest cost approaches to resolving system needs. Performance-based regulation (PBR) substitutes performance incentives for returns on investments, freeing utilities to make choices that might better benefit ratepayers.

    Using performance incentives that link earnings to how well a utility achieves policy goals was a “central recommendation” from a stakeholder process led by Minnesota’s e21 Initiative in December 2016. The e21 initiative includes Minnesota utilities as well as environmental and consumer advocates. But the newest phase of the think tank’s PBR work concluded in April that “this is a very complicated issue” and “we must proceed carefully.” Complicating it are questions about the best performance goals and metrics. The next step should be a formal regulatory proceeding to address the complications, e21's participants agreed. Former Xcel Energy executive Mike Bull was one of the first utility industry leaders to take seriously the dangers of the perverse incentive and call for the study of new utility business models, and helped lead e21’s recent stakeholder roundtable discussions on PBR… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Policy Work On Solar Now

    50 States of Solar Q3 2018 Quarterly Report

    October 24, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

    Executive Summary

    OVERVIEW OF Q3 2018 POLICY ACTION

    In the third quarter of 2018, 45 states plus DC took a total of 157 actions related to distributed solar policy and rate design (Figure 1). Table 1 provides a summary of state actions related to DG compensation, rate design, and solar ownership during Q3 2018. Of the 157 actions catalogued, the most common were related to DG compensation rules (44), followed by residential fixed charge and minimum bill increases (42) and community solar (28).

    TOP FIVE SOLAR POLICY DEVELOPMENTS OF Q3 2018

    Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.

    Kansas Corporation Commission Approves Demand Charge for Westar Residential Distributed Generation Customers

    Kansas regulators approved Westar Energy’s proposed mandatory residential demand charge for distributed generation customers in late September 2018. The decision follows a 2017 Commission order finding that additional fees for customer-generators are appropriate. The approved charge is applicable to demand during system peak hours and varies seasonally.

    Michigan Utilities File Net Metering Successor Implementation Proposals

    Two Michigan utilities – DTE Energy and Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) – proposed new distributed generation customer tariffs as part of general rate cases filed during Q3 2018. The proposals implement a net metering successor decision made by the Public Service Commission in April, moving to a net billing structure that credits customers at either the power supply rate or locational marginal price for exported energy. Both utilities also proposed system access contributions based on the capacity of the customer’s distributed generation system.

    Short-Term Net Metering Compromise Reached in South Carolina

    Early in Q3 2018, Duke Energy Carolinas announced that it had reached its aggregate cap on net metering in South Carolina. New customer-generators would no longer have the option of net metering, but would be able to participate in a buy-all, sell-all program, receiving avoided cost rate compensation for production. Later in the quarter, the utility and stakeholders reached an agreement to continue offering net metering until March 2019.

    New Mexico Regulators End Standby Charge for Distributed Generation Customers

    In September 2018, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved the Hearing Officer’s recommendation to end Xcel Energy’s standby charge for residential and small commercial customers with distributed generation. Xcel had proposed an increase in the charge as part of a general rate case, but the Hearing Officer found that the charge was not supported. The Commission plans to open a rulemaking to address standby charge issues.

    Arizona Regulators Deny Tucson Electric Power and UNS Distributed Generation Rate Design Proposal, Approve Net Billing Credit Rates

    In a September 2018 decision, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved initial distributed generation export credit rates for Tucson Electric Power (9.64 cents/kWh) and UNS Electric (11.5 cents/kWh), while denying the utilities’ proposed demand charge and system capacity-based charge. Regulators found that the cost of service study approach was flawed and directed the utilities to file a new study.

    THE BIG PICTURE: INSIGHTS FROM Q3 2018

    Resurgence in Proposals for Distributed Generation Customer Fees

    Activity related to additional fees, such as demand charges, for distributed generation (DG) customers slowed during 2017 and early 2018, but is now quickly picking back up. In Q3 2018, three utilities – DTE Energy (MI), Upper Peninsula Power Company (MI), and NorthWestern Energy (MT) – proposed additional fees for DG customers, while regulators in Kansas approved Westar Energy’s proposed demand charge for residential DG customers. In West Virginia, proposed revisions to the state’s net metering rules potentially open the door to additional fees by allowing charges for the “incremental cost of interconnection” of customergenerators. In Massachusetts, a demand charge approved earlier in 2018 was overturned by legislation enacted in Q3 2018; however, the legislation only establishes new requirements for the design of demand charges, and does not disallow them.

    Grid Planning and DER Compensation Efforts Converging on Locational Value

    Distribution system planning and solar compensation discussions are growing closer together, as states look to grid planning processes to provide greater information on the locational value that distributed energy resources (DERs) provide. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved distributed resource planning rules in Q3 2018, requiring an evaluation of the locational benefits and costs of DERs. Proposed distribution system planning rules in Missouri and Washington both consider the locational value of DERs, with Washington’s draft rules explicitly calling for tariffs and rate designs that compensate customers for the value of their DERs. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission is planning to conduct a distribution locational value study to inform net metering successor discussions, and Illinois’ NextGrid draft working group report addresses the use of integrated distribution planning to identify the locational value of DERs.

    States and Utilities Considering Meter Cost Allocation

    Several states and utilities are considering whether the customer or the utility should bear the cost of installing additional meters, such as a bidirectional meter for net metering or a separate production meter. Proposed net metering rule revisions in West Virginia would change the financial responsibility for a bidirectional meter from the utility to the customer. Meanwhile, a settlement in Duquesne Light Company’s general rate case in Pennsylvania requires the installation of production meters for new net metering customers, to be paid for by the utility. An Arizona decision approves a monthly meter fee for DG customers of Tucson Electric Power and UNS Electric, and in Maine, regulators recently determined that customers are not responsible for the cost of the production meter necessary to comply with the state’s new DG compensation rules.

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    QUICK NEWS, October 30: Mid-term Votes That Will Affect The Climate Fight; The Progress Of Community Renewables

    Mid-term Votes That Will Affect The Climate Fight Five Midterm Votes That Could Have an Outsize Impact on Climate Change

    Coral Davenport, October 29, 2018 (NY Times)

    “This is the era of deregulation in the nation’s capital…[The White House] is rolling back Obama-era climate change regulations that would have cut planet-warming pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes…and has vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the 2015 accord under which nearly every nation pledged to limit greenhouse gas pollution…At the state level, though, advocates and lawmakers around the country are fighting back…In some states, questions of climate change policy are on the ballot. While advocates generally agree that national programs, rather than state and local efforts, will be required to tackle global warming, there are a handful of policies on five midterm ballots that could have an outsize impact on the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution, and the direction of national policy…Washington: A first-in-the-nation carbon tax…New Mexico: A little-known job with big power…Arizona and Nevada: Renewable energy requirements…Colorado: The future of fracking…” click here for more

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    The Progress Of Community Renewables National Shared Renewables Scorecard

    October 25, 2018 (International Renewable Energy Council)

    “There are 17 active shared renewables programs in place in 13 states plus Washington, D.C…Two received A grades (12%)—Minnesota and New York. These states have incorporated the majority of shared renewables best practices identified by IREC...Five received B grades (29%)—California (Virtual Net Metering), Colorado, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts (Community Shared Solar/Virtual Net Metering) and Maryland. Although these states have some room for improvement, their programs reflect many best practices and offer solid foundations for shared renewable energy development…Eight received C grades (47%)—Connecticut (Virtual Net Metering), Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts (Neighborhood Net Metering), Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These programs lack many of the key components necessary for successful market development…

    Two received D grades (12%)—California (Enhanced Community Renewables component of the Green Tariff Shared Renewables program) and Connecticut (Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program). These programs do not comport with many of the IREC-identified best practices which could impede program effectiveness and market development..Three more states have passed shared renewables legislation or are in the process of implementing rules for their programs—Illinois, Oregon and New Jersey. In addition, California recently adopted its Community Solar – Green Tariff program which is currently being implemented and therefore not evaluated yet…Key program components are bill credit valuation…project siting requirements…interconnection procedures…low- to moderate-income customer participation…subscription portability & transferability…third party ownership & management…data tracking & reporting…” click here for more

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    Monday, October 29, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Benefits Of Boosting Transmission Builders

    Transmission Competition Under FERC Order No. 1000: What we Know About Cost Savings to Date

    Johannes Pfeifenberger, Judy Chang, Akarsh Sheilendranath, October 25, 2018 (Brattle Group for LSP Transmission Holdings and GridLiance)

    Executive Summary

    Competitive transmission planning processes in ISOs/RTOs, the most controversial aspect of FERC Order 1000, have shown potential for significant customer savings:

    – While the scope of competition has been limited to only 2% of total U.S. transmission investments over the last 5 years, competitive processes led to innovations in proposed solutions, low bids, cost caps, cost control measures, and innovative financial structuring

    – Winning bids average 40% below initial cost estimates while non-competitive projects are completed at 34% above initial estimates, offering 55% of potential cost savings

    – Long-term savings likely less than the currently-observed 55% cost differences, but real prospect of significant customer benefits and innovation nevertheless

    – Even if long-term savings were only half the 55% difference, if the scope of competition could be expanded from 2% to 33% of total transmission investments, estimated customer benefits would be approximately $8 billion over just five years

    – Lower costs will also make transmission more cost-effective to address market efficiency and public policy needs (e.g., relative to more local and distributed generation)

    Recommendations:

    – Reduce qualification thresholds for competitive process and develop consistent criteria, drawing from best practices from least-restrictive RTOs to expand scope of competition

    – Establish and implement consistent minimum reporting requirements to facilitate better tracking of project costs across all regions

    Background

    Focus of this presentation: An examination of transmission investment trends and current experience with competitive transmission planning in ISO/RTO regions as mandated under FERC Order 1000

     U.S. transmission investments by FERC-jurisdictional transmission providers increased from $2 billion/year in the 1990s to $20 billion/year in last 5 years

     We project $120-160 billion of investments over the next decade (for reliability, to integrate new resources, upgrade/replace aging existing facilities built in 1950-70s) Why competition? In 2011, FERC Order 1000 mandated competition in transmission planning to promote “more efficient or cost-effective transmission development”

     We explore competition in ISO/RTO transmission planning to date and the criteria that currently limit the scope of competitive processes

     We assess the extent to which the experience to date points to potential customer savings and how these savings would increase if the scope of competitive processes can be expanded

    Competition Mostly for “Regulated” Transmission

    Transmission investment remain largely regulated, based on state or regional planning with cost recovery at regulated rates Transmission is a public good:

     Benefits broad in scope, wide-spread geographically, diverse in impacts on market participants, and occurring over many decades

     Owners generally unable to capture sufficient portion of benefits

     Will tend to lead to under-investment and over-use without regulated cost recovery

    Competition is mostly for transmission projects with regulated cost recovery

     Out-of-footprint investments by established transmission owners and independent developers

     Elimination of “Right of First Refusal” (ROFR) of incumbent transmission owners for new builds approved in regional transmission plans as required by Order 1000 Some competitive “merchant” transmission projects (but not the scope of this presentation)

     Mostly HVDC lines between regions with sustained price differentials, resource needs, and ineffective interregional planning of regulated transmission

     HVDC is more likely to allow owner capture the benefits of the merchant lines

    U.S. competitively-planned, regulated transmission opportunities for nonincumbents are limited to:

    – Some regionally-planned projects in FERC-jurisdictional RTO/ISO regions U.S. ISO/RTOs are at different stages of using various frameworks for competitive planning processes, largely as a result of FERC Order 1000

    – ERCOT’s transmission for competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) Important international experience with competition for regulated projects

    – Alberta: Developed a competitive process for major new projects; assigned first $1.4 billion project (significantly below AESO estimates)

    – Ontario: Two competitive solicitations for transmission to date

    – Brazil: Since 1999 all transmission projects have been auctioned off (similar processes in other Latin American countries, such as Chile)

    – UK: Tenders for offshore grid projects…

    Historical Transmission Investment in the U.S.

    … Majority of U.S. Transmission Investments are made within ISO/RTO-Operated Regions Transmission investments in markets operated by FERC-jurisdictional ISO/RTOs and ERCOT account for 85% of current transmission investments

    Transmission investments in ISO/RTO regions also have grown by more (10-16% annually) than investments in the non-ISO/RTO regions (6-10% annually

    Scope of ISO/RTO Oversight in U.S. Transmission Investments

    Of $70 billion in transmission investments by FERC-jurisdictional TOs in ISO/RTO regions over the last 4-5 years, almost half was made without full ISO/RTO and stakeholder engagement in the planning process

    – Investments based on local planning processes of incumbent TOs are only subject to limited ISO/RTO review

    – FERC’s August 31 Order (Docket No. EL17-45, still subject to rehearing): only transmission “expansion” activities are subject to full regional planning requirements…

    State of Competition

    … Experience with Competition in U.S. ISO/RTO Transmission Planning Processes

    Since implementation of FERC Order 1000 (around 2013), FERC-jurisdictional ISO/RTOs have completed 29 competitive transmission project solicitations

    – Of the 29 ISO/RTO competitive processes, 10 were by CAISO, 16 by PJM, and one each in NYISO, MISO, and SPP. These processes have resulted in 15 competitive projects to date.

    Since 2013, only 2% of all FERC-jurisdictional transmission investments have been subject to competitive processes…

    Benefits of Competition

    Experience with 15 projects selected through the ISO/RTO competitive planning processes show potentially large cost advantages of competition

    – On average, the winning bids of these 15 competitive transmission projects have been priced 40% below the ISO/RTOs’ or incumbent TO’s initial project cost estimates

    – Similar bid cost advantages observed in Alberta

    – However, all 15 projects are still under development (in-service dates post-2019), so final costs are not yet known

    – In addition to low bid prices, winning bids generally offer cost caps or cost-control measures, reducing the risk and magnitude of significant cost increases as they are developed and constructed…

    Implications for Customers and Transmission Owners

    As documented in many studies, transmission investments have been providing significant overall cost savings through a wide range of benefits. Increasing the scope of competition will further improve the value proposition of transmission investments to the benefit of both customers and transmission owners.

    – Customer Benefits: Even if long-term savings were only half the 55% difference documented to date, if the scope of competition could be expanded from 2% to 33% of total transmission investments, estimated customer benefits would be approximately $8 billion over just five years

    – Transmission-Owner Benefits: More cost-effective transmission would…

     Reduce “rate pressure” which is already causing significant opposition by customers and policy makers to all types of transmission investments

     Increase the attractiveness of transmission as the preferred solution to enhance wholesale power market efficiencies and to integrate and balance increasing amounts of renewable generation

    o Cost reductions needed to maintain attractiveness of transmission in an environment of low natural gas prices and declining costs for wind, solar, storage, and distributed resources

    o Lower costs mean more transmission projects can exceed benefit-to-cost thresholds…

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    QUICK NEWS, October 29: Science Is The Climate Change Solution; New Energy From The Grid To Heating And Vehicles

    Science Is The Climate Change Solution Science can succeed on climate change where politics fails; And if someone makes money from finding a solution, who cares?

    Nick Butler, October 28, 2018 (Financial Times)

    “…Climate change is a global risk and so everyone should be involved in the response…Many countries are taking action to mitigate climate change, but these actions don’t add up to an answer. Potential global solutions such as a universal carbon tax remain off the agenda…The production of renewable energy has become cheaper…and energy is being used more efficiently. But the advances have been slow…[and] emissions continue to rise…We cannot afford to wait for an age of collective rationality…The best hope for limiting emissions comes from the application of science to the energy market…That means finding sources of energy that can be made available to all the world’s citizens, at a price they can afford…Such a plan needs money and the sources of funds should be as broad as possible…If someone makes money from finding the answer, who cares? …Politics may have failed, but rationality has not. If one approach does not work, the logic is to try another.” click here for more

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    New Energy From The Grid To Heating And Vehicles Clean Power Is Growing Fast. Now We Need Clean Heat And Clean Transport

    Mike Scott, October 19, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…By 2023, renewables will account for almost a third of total world electricity generation…[but] progress will be far slower in renewable transport and heat because of weaker policy support and other barriers to deployment…Solar and wind will continue to dominate the clean power sector, but…[bioenergy growth is expected to be the New Energy that fuels heating and transport]…In 2017, 178GW of renewable energy electricity capacity was added, more than two thirds of global power growth, led by 97GW of solar power, more than half of it in China. Solar’s success offset slower growth in offshore wind and hydropower…

    Solar capacity is set to expand in the next half a decade by almost 600 GW…led by a massive expansion in distributed generation, which will spur almost half of global PV capacity growth over 2018-23. Homes, businesses and large industrial applications are expected to generate almost 2% of global electricity output by 2023…[but there] is untapped potential to make use of bioenergy in the cement, sugar and ethanol industries, where wastes and residues offer low lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigate concerns over land-use change. In addition, using these resources can improve waste management and air quality…[Only a tenth of total heat demand comes from New Energy but] renewable head demand is set to grow by 20% in the next five years.” click here for more

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    Saturday, October 27, 2018

    Sarah Silverman Says ‘Follow The Money’

    Deniers are protecting their own interests. That’s it. The only solution? New Energy. From I Love You, America via YouTube

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    A Zero-Emissions Natural Gas Plant?

    Except, of course, for the methane from fracking and the pipelines. From Bloomberg via YouTube

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    The Best Ways To Talk Climate Change

    A few tips on talking – and listening – about climate change.From ClimateAdam via YouTube

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    Friday, October 26, 2018

    12 Years. Leave It To Fate Or Do What We Can?

    We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost. How much more urgent can it get? Making myriad small changes to our lives and pressuring politicians to pursue green policies is the only way to lessen the life-threatening damage we’ve already created

    Will Gore, 8 October 2018 (UK Independent)

    “Twelve years. According to climate scientists, that’s how long until we hit the 1.5C tipping point if we carry on as we are…[Then, expect floods, the] migration of millions of people away from areas that become uninhabitable…Coral reefs will vanish; many ancient trees will not survive; extreme weather events will become ever more common…Yet the scientists are also clear that we can still hold the line on further damaging change – if we’re prepared to act fast and invest a great deal of money. By reducing CO2 emissions by nearly half from their 2010 levels, we could give ourselves a fighting chance; by planting millions of trees and using technology to further capture carbon dioxide too, we might just do it…[T]he difference between possibility and impossibility is political will…

    …[But] the world’s most powerful politician is arguably its most famous climate change sceptic…[ China – the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter by a distance – has] invested significantly in renewables, yet the growing prosperity of its vast population continues to increase demand for energy to such an extent that curbing carbon output is challenging…India’s CO2 emissions are also soaring…[T]here is a temptation to throw up our hands and give it all up to fate…But of course we mustn’t…That means making myriad small changes to our lives; and it means pressuring politicians to pursue green policies…[Right now, holding back the tide] looks pretty bleak: but for goodness sake let’s at least try.” click here for more

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    Cross-Border Costs Of New Energy

    New study examines key cost factors in cross-border renewable energy projects Robin Whitlock, 23 October 2018 (Renewable Energy Magazine)

    “…[An assessment of key cost factors in cross-border renewable energy projects shows] costs stemming from differences in regulation have the potential to distort an otherwise competitive playing field…Regulations governing the construction of wind farms vary considerably between countries, and these differences can have a stronger impact on generation costs than differences in wind resources…[The new study] argues that in the future, cross-border renewable energy auctions should take diverging regulatory conditions into account.

    …[In Belgium,] costs of 26 euros per megawatt arise for project planning, approval, grid connection, taxes and financing. In Germany and France, by contrast, the equivalent figures are 12 and 20 euros, respectively. To make up for this difference, a wind park in Belgium would need to produce 20 percent more power than its counterpart in Germany. To date, the cost differences resulting from divergent regulatory regimes have not been taken into account in cross-border renewable energy auctions…As a result, competitive cross-border auctions can produce distorted outcomes, as a Danish–German solar energy auction held in 2016 shows: all of the successful bids were located in Denmark, primarily because it is easier and cheaper [there] to use agricultural land for ground-mounted solar parks…” click here for more

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    The UK Finds The New Energy Bargain

    Reality Check: Which form of renewable energy is cheapest?

    Reality Check Team, 25 October 2018 (BBC News)

    “…[Data on New Energy and fossil fuel generation projects from the UK government for projects starting in 2020 shows] it will cost £63 to generate a megawatt hour of electricity using onshore wind energy…It's the cheapest renewable power source listed, in comparison with £106 for offshore wind…These figures do account for construction costs and the fact that wind and solar power are intermittent…But they don't consider costs associated with environmental factors like air quality impact…

    …[Newer data supports the government findings. It also] found that onshore wind is the cheapest form of new-build electricity generation available in the UK today…The total electricity generation in the UK stood at 336 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2017, with 29.3% generated by renewable sources of energy. This was an increase from 24.5% in 2016 [whichis driving prices down]…Over the last year, generation from wind and solar sources increased from 47.7TWh to 61.5TWh…[The current government] has recently launched an initiative to increase the UK's offshore wind power capacity…[O]ffshore wind has more than halved in price, and onshore and solar have seen similar cost reductions…” click here for more

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    Thursday, October 25, 2018

    What Next-Gen Environmentalists Want

    New Report Reveals Young Americans are Overwhelmingly Taking Action on Environmental Issues

    October 25, 2018 (Globe NewsWire)

    “…[A] survey of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18-25 found that the majority care about environmental issues—and strongly believe policies should be put in place to address them…Most young Americans are aware of the ongoing environmental crisis [detailed by the most recent U.N. climate report] and want to be part of the growing movement that supports renewable energy… 77% of respondents said environmental issues are more important to them now than they were two years ago…Education plays an important role in ensuring present and future generations understand environmental issues and are prepared to help mitigate the impacts of climate change…96% of colleges offer courses on environmental issues…[and] 68% of young Americans, who were enrolled in an education institution, have taken courses on environmental issues…

    Over 25% of young Americans wish they had learned about environmental policy or law, as well as sustainable solutions such as renewable energy or electric vehicles while in college…57% of young Americans are likely to pursue a job focused on the environment at some point in the future…79% have taken an environmental action in the last year, from making a lifestyle change (46%) to volunteering on their own (35%)…[and 52% of young Americans] strongly agree that we need to use technology more to help the environment…” click here for more

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    Cities And Climate Change

    How Cities Are Upgrading Infrastructure to Prepare for Climate Change; The threat of extreme weather and other climate-related events has city planners rethinking the stability of critical infrastructure

    Mikhail Chester, Braden Allenby and Samuel Markolf, October 22, 2018 (The Conversation via Smithsonian)

    “…[S]ome cities and municipalities are starting to recognize that past conditions [and infrastructure] can no longer serve as reasonable proxies for the future…Highways, water treatment facilities and the power grid are at increasing risk to [flooding, heat, wildfires, hurricanes and other] extreme weather events and other effects of a changing climate…The problem is that most infrastructure projects, including the Trump administration’s infrastructure revitalization plan, typically ignore the risks of climate change…[It must] shift toward designing man-made infrastructure systems with adaptability in mind…

    City planners and citizens often assume that what is built today will continue to function in the face of these hazards, allowing services to continue and to protect us as they have done so in the past. But these systems [like pumps. Transmission, and bridges] are designed based on histories of extreme events…[Events are now] more frequently exceeding these historical conditions and…natural systems are now changing faster than infrastructure…The problem is that the level of risk is now uncertain…Given this uncertainty, agility and flexibility should be central to our infrastructure design…[Alternatives that offer] resilience instead of risk should be central to infrastructure design and operation in the future…” click here for more

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    Farmers And Climate Change

    Politicians say nothing, but US farmers are increasingly terrified by it – climate change; Research forecasts Iowa corn yields could drop in half within the next half-century thanks to extreme weather – yet it’s not part of the political conversation

    Art Cullen, 19 October 2018 (UK Guardian)

    “…This year, crops in north-west Iowa are looking spotty. Up into Minnesota they were battered by spring storms and late planting, and then inundated again in late summer…Where they aren’t washed out, they’re weedy or punky…[If you go south] the corn stands tall and firm…Welcome to climate change…It’s the least debated issue of the midterm political season…[but the] weather is the top topic of conversation at any cooperative elevator’s coffee table, along with the markets. Everyone knows that things have been changing in sweeping ways out here on the richest corn ground in the world…It’s drought in the spring and floods in the fall …Everyone knows it has been getting wetter and weirder…

    [Drainage] is delivering runoff rich in farm fertilizer to the Mississippi river complex and the Gulf of Mexico, where the nitrate from Iowa and Illinois corn fields is growing a dead zone the size of New Jersey. The shrimping industry is being deprived of oxygen so Iowa farmers can chase 200 bushels of corn per acre…[H]uge rainfalls on exposed black dirt wash soil at two to three tons an acre a year. Nature can regenerate the soil at only a half-ton a year…[The University of Minnesota forecasts that] corn yields could drop in half within the next half-century because of extreme weather and soil depletion…Few politicians in the five states around here are talking about regulating agriculture in an era of warmer and wetter nights and long droughts. Yet farmers are paying attention…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, October 24, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How The Solar Industry Muted The President’s Tariffs

    How much are tariffs holding solar back? Rising interest rates also raise questions, but the solar industry is fighting back

    Herman K. Trabish, April 12, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Recent data shows the tariff had significant impacts like those described here in delaying growth and temporarily spiking prices.

    Solar advocates issued dire warnings about the impacts of tariffs on imported solar cells and modules, ahead of President Trump's January decision to impose the trade penalty. But while the tariffs are having some negative impacts, the industry and its customers now say their concerns were exaggerated. This is largely because solar installed costs have fallen so far and so fast, especially for utility-scale solar, that the relatively small increase in the module price due to the tariffs is having less of an impact than anticipated. That view was echoed by representatives from a variety of investor-owned electric utilities, developers, and installers, who told Utility Dive they are monitoring their markets but have seen few impacts. The tariffs will “shrink the total addressable market for U.S. utility-scale solar,” GTM Research (GTMR) Senior Solar Analyst Colin Smith told Utility Dive. But the industry will still see “consistent increases in new capacity year over year,” he said.

    Recurrent Energy, a leading utility-scale solar developer which opposed the tariffs, has reported no project changes. First Solar, an equally important utility-scale scale developer which endorsed the tariffs, has also announced no major changes. National residential installer Sunnova and California residential installer Spice Solar both told Utility Dive the falling installed cost has offset the tariffs. Without tariffs, 2019 and 2020 were expected to be “big years for utility solar,” Smith said. As the 30% investment tax credit steps down to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and 10% in 2022, the value proposition might be somewhat compromised. But growth could be sustained by solar’s low power purchase agreement (PPA) prices, driven by a wide range of cost and labor efficiencies in the development process and by economic factors. It may be time for solar builders and buyers to start thinking about interest rate increases. GTMR’s Smith said the interest rate question has loomed since the 2008 recession sent rates to record lows. But rising interest rates will also impact all other generation resources and utility-scale solar's falling installed cost will continue to make it a viable alternative to natural gas, coal and other generation sources… click here for more

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