Harry Asks Sally The Big Question (About Auld Lang Syne)
For romantics, there is maybe no more poignant and satisfying moment on film. From nninchen91 via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 18:
For romantics, there is maybe no more poignant and satisfying moment on film. From nninchen91 via YouTube
From Today I Found Out via YouTube
New Energy's success comes from one key driver: Customer demand. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
And let the solar games commence; While China’s PV policy announcement dominated the headlines in Q2 2018, there were a lot of other significant happenings in the world…
Becky Beetz, December 26, w018 (PV Magazine)
“…[Major solar manufacturers SunPower and SolarWorld Inc. have announced they will work together, allowing completion of] South African renewable energy PPAs…[Research found] 2017 global inverter shipments increased 23%, while revenues grew 11%... [China’s 9.65 GW of Q1 installations were up significantly on 2016’s 7.14 GW and 2017’s] 7.2 GW…Confirming predictions that installs would veer away from utility-scale, which until now had been the dominant sector, the quarter saw a massive increase in DG…[It was] an overall increase of 22% YoY, while utility saw a 64% decrease, and DG a massive 217% increase…[But China will add no new ground-mounted PV and has capped DG at 10 GW]…The Middle East continues its slow but steady solar march, with Tunisia unveiling a 500 MW tender in May…
…[California] set a new record for peak output of utility-scale solar at more than 10.5 GW. It also hit a new record for the instantaneous portion of demand met by renewable energy on April 28, at 73%...with solar and wind alone meeting 64% of demand… BloombergNEF said it expected to see a 34% decline in multicrystalline solar module prices in China…[A global PV module price collapse dropped average PV module prices] to $0.278 per watt for standard multicrystalline modules…[growth will be down] around 5-8%...[T]he EU agreed on a 32% renewable target by 2030…A new record was set in Germany, with PV systems producing just under 6 TWh of solar power during the month of May…[France will increase] solar capacity…[Total will] install 10 GW over 10 years…” click here for more
£100 million for renewable energy projects in Africa to provide electricity to 2.4 million people a year; Developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects will be supported to harness each country’s natural resources.
11 December 2018 (Gov.UK)
“…Hundreds of thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa will get access to electricity for the first time thanks to an extra £100 million of funding from the UK government…The new investment triples funds for the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), to support up to 40 more renewable energy projects over the next 5 years. The new funding could unlock an extra £156 million of private finance into renewable energy markets in Africa by 2023…Developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects will be supported to harness each country’s natural resources, and the electricity generated is expected to provide 2.4 million people a year with new or improved access to clean energy.
Power produced from new projects funded is expected to save around 3 million tonnes of carbon over their lifetime, compared with fossil fuel generation – the equivalent to the emissions from burning 21,000 railway cars of coal or from 800,000 cars in a year… The new investment is in addition to £48 million previously committed to the REPP…[which] is already supporting 18 renewable energy projects in a range of countries from Tanzania to Burundi…featuring solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal technologies…” click here for more
Some suggestions for turning Trump around on climate change
Will Durst, December 26, 2018 (New Jersey Herald)
“…[The president’s] series of climate change denials have included calling it a hoax, blaming the Chinese and saying it could turn back on its own. He even said it was a spurious plot dreamed up by Crooked Hillary to make him look bad…He pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, even though hundreds of U.S. corporations lobbied to stay in…[The administration’s 1,600 page national climate assessment, which they attempted to bury, found] that unless something is done by 2100, 10 percent of our GNP could disappear due to environmental deterioration…
…[Among things that might change the president’s mind are that rising] ocean levels washing through Mar-A-Lago would necessitate the refurbishment of a large amount of rooms…Increased humidity guaranteed to make his daily hair scaffolding ritual more complicated…Might prove to be a major inconvenience for Sean Hannity…[W]ould interfere with the intricate electronics that allow Mike Pence to appear so lifelike…Might prove to be a major inconvenience for Vladimir Putin…Kellyanne Conway can't float…Having the carts burning up on his golf courses might negatively affect resort revenues…” click here for more
Warren Buffett trades for six solar plants, retiring a coal unit; Nevada regulators have approved six contracts for 1 GWac of solar power coupled with 100 MW / 400 MWh of energy storage. The purchase allows for the retirement of one of the state’s two running coal units.
John Weaver, December 26, 2018 (PV Magazine)
Nevada regulators have approved six solar power plants and three energy storage facilities, totaling just over 1 GWac of solar power and 100 MW / 400 MWh of storage…One of the facilities will come online by the end of 2020, and five by the end of 2021…[As NV Energy reaches 32% renewables with the scheduled] completion of the solar projects, a 254 MW coal plant will be retired…All six power purchase agreements (PPAs) have prices below $30/MWh: Sempra Renewables’ 250 MW Copper Mountain farm starts at $21.55/MWh, with a 2.5% annual escalation over the 25-year term of the contract…8minuteenergy’s 300 MW Eagle Shadow Mountain facility has a fixed PPA price of $23.76/MWh. This plant represents the lowest solar PPA price in the United State’s currently…
174 Power Global’s 50 MW Techren V will sell power at $29.89/MWh with no escalation…NextEra Energy’s 200 MW Dodge Flat solar plant includes a 50 MW / 200 MWh battery storage system, priced its PPA $26.51/MWh…NextEra’s 100 MW Fish Springs Ranch solar farm is also priced at $26.51/MWh and comes with with 25 MW / 100 MWh of storage…Cypress Creek’s 101 MW Battle Mountain Solar project also includes 25 MW / 100 MWh of storage, and is priced at a flat price of $26.50/MWh…The storage facilities will receive capacity payments that range which range from $6,100/MW-month for Dodge Flat to $7,755/MW-month for Battle Mountain…[T] he 254 MW North Valmy 1 coal-fired plant will retire by Dec. 31, 2021, four years early. The North Valmy Unit 2 (268 MW) is still set to be retired by the end of 2025, and reports have suggested it can also be shut early…” click here for more
Alphabet spins off renewable energy storage facility startup Malta with Gates’s BEV fund backing
Anna Domanska, December 26, 2018 (Industry Leaders)
“…[Malta Inc., which was launched in 2017 by Google parent company Alphabet’s experimental X lab as Project Malta,] aims to revolutionize energy storage facilities using a novel grid-scale architecture which generates energy from a mixture of molten salt and antifreeze…Malta will in the coming months build a megawatt-scale pilot plant…[to test] an electro-thermal storage system that can reserve power generated from fossil fuels or renewable energy far longer than lithium-ion batteries…[It uses] electrical energy to drive a heat pump. The process converts the energy into thermal energy or heat which is stored in molten salt…When the grid needs electricity, the heat is converted back to electricity using a heat engine…
The electro-thermal storage system can store electricity for as long as weeks…[Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV)] $1 billion fund led the Malta] $26 million Series A. Investors led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures include Jeff Bezos, John Doerr, Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Other investors include industrial company Alfa Laval of Sweden and solar and wind power developer Concord New Energy Group of Hong Kong…Malta’s goal is to produce the cheapest large-scale energy storage facilities…” click here for more
Projected US renewables could accelerate power price volatility — what can grid operators do? It will take a renewables-friendly grid and grid-friendly renewables to keep markets flowing.
Herman K. Trabish, June 21, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The research described here and the curtailment it describes are the focus of increasing attention by grid operators and policy solutions are beginning to emerge.
New forecasts say the high penetrations of renewables coming onto the U.S. power system by 2030 could accelerate recent isolated instances of negative and spiking prices in wholesale markets. Research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shows higher renewables penetrations could cause these supply-demand imbalances more frequently, imposing instability in power markets. If this growth pattern continues, as many expect it will, grid operators and renewables developers will need to act to neutralize price volatility by making the electric power system more flexible, the LBNL researchers reported.
As more solar and wind power comes online, renewables penetrations are reaching unprecedented levels in some places. On March 31, wind momentarily reached a North American record of over 62% of Southwest Power Pool (SPP) generation. On April 28, renewables met 72.7% of demand for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). While the numbers are much smaller nationally, broader indications show unremitting growth of variable renewable energy (VRE). Grid operators are implementing a variety of steps to integrate that new capacity while minimizing adverse impacts on the system… click here for more
Utility bankruptcy concerns rise as bill comes due for 2017 California fires; Some 394 wildfires at the end of 2017 could cost California’s IOUs tens of billions, but there are ways to mitigate the financial impact.
Herman K. Trabish, June 25, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The change in the law described here was not enacted, making the proposed financial solutions more important after the 2018 fires hammered more nails in the IUOs’ coffins.
California's state motto is "Eureka!" But its energy sector's motto is quickly becoming "Somebody do something!" The state's grid operator is slowly learning to cope with levels of renewable generation that require unprecedented system flexibility; regulators are studying an onslaught of customer choice nobody has written rules for; and now, California's investor-owned utilities (IOUs) face liability for the state's 2017 [Editor’s note: And 2018] wildfires that could bankrupt them. The state saw five of its 20 most destructive fires between October and December of 2017, capping a year in which the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) recorded 7,117 wildfires. The previous five years averaged 4,835 wildfires per year. The total cost, including fire suppression, insurance and recovery, could be $180 billion, Courthouse News Service reported. [Editor’s note: 2018’s Campfire was even more destructive.]
For the fires, California's IOUs face a special kind of liability. Contrary to 48 other states, California courts have interpreted the law on utility liability to mean that utilities must pay all damage costs if utility equipment was involved in a fire, whether the utility was negligent or not. There is a growing concern that this financial burden could make it difficult for California IOUs to remain solvent. Regulators are asking how to judge the "prudence" of the IOUs' preparations in the "new normal" of extreme weather linked to climate change. While victims' attorneys and insurance companies want IOUs held accountable, legislators and policymakers are wondering if the IOUs are too big to fail. The concern about the utilities' financial viability has brought forward potential solutions, including ways to reduce their exposure to liability through risk pools and settlements with their insurers and others who contributed to the fire… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
Nobody sings a song like this guy. (With a little help from Esperanza Spalding) From John Legend via YouTube
Long-time NewEnergyNews readers will recognize John McCutcheon’s song as a Christmas tradition here. As long as there is war, it will remain a tradition. From mrssmith1964 via YouTube
You gotta BELIEVE!!! From MovieClips via YouTube
This lab is a force for New Energy so powerful even the current administration has not stopped it. From National Renewable Energy Laboratory via YouTube
Despite what is going on in the world around it, solar keeps rising. From SolarEdge via YouTube
Colbert tells the sad story of Frosty and climate change. From The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via YouTube
This shows the world protesting U.S. advocacy for Old Energy with laughter. From CNN via YouTube
The New Green Deal is gaining momentum. From Grist via YouTube
Climate Change Is The Greatest Threat To Human Health In History
David Introcaso, December 19, 2018 (Health Affairs)
“…Over 90 scientists from 40 countries reviewing 6,000 studies prepared the IPCC report that joined the many] publications by leading national and international science bodies that conclude all life on this planet is under existential threat…Per all of these reports, the earth has warmed by 1°C since the pre-industrial era and two-thirds of this rise has occurred since 1986. The twenty warmest years on record have occurred over the past 22 years…[There is a] nearly linear relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric warming…and the amount is again increasing…[This is] a significant threat to human health…[A]bsent dramatic and near term changes in political will, temperatures are expected to increase by 4°C by the end of this century…
…[Resulting hurricanes and flooding compromise] drinking water, human waste water treatment and storm water disposal that, in turn, results in increased risk of waterborne diseases caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa…[Stagnant heat, drought, and wildfires worsen] asthma, acute bronchitis and pneumonia…[and] lead to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions and causes of acute respiratory illnesses…Higher temperatures cause heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyperthermia and dehydration…[All this leads to] mental and behavioral health conditions ranging from anxiety, depression and alcohol and substance abuse to post-traumatic stress and suicide…We have been robbing the planet. It's only a question of how harsh or definitive the penalty will be…” click here for more
Visualizing the Global Transition to Green Energy
Iman Ghosh, October 31, 2018 (Visual Capitalist)
“…With each passing year, the steadily declining price of renewable energy makes it increasingly competitive against fossil fuels…A recent United Nations report estimates that renewables must make up 70% to 85% of electricity by 2050 to combat the dire effects of climate change…[Fortunately,] renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and quicker to produce, and it’s speeding up widespread adoption…The price of solar photovoltaic cells are projected to dip dramatically over this seven-year period, as solar panel infrastructure…[becomes] easily replicated at scale…
…[C]oncentrated efforts to curb our reliance on coal are signals that the fossil fuel is on its way out, and new investment in green energy sources is on the rise in most regions…[China is leading and] spending more on green energy than the United States and Europe combined…In places where a consistent and reliable source of energy is hard to come by, people are looking to clean energy as a way to leapfrog ahead of using the carbon-intensive electricity grid entirely…This trifecta of innovation, investment, and falling costs could be the answer to bolstering renewable energy infrastructure for decades to come…” click here for more
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018
Angela McClowry, December 7, 2018 (CleanLeap)
“…[The annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018] report focuses on investment in renewable power and fuels - wind, solar, biomass and waste, biofuels, geothermal and marine projects, and small hydro-electric dams…[Key findings from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-Bloomberg New Energy Finance report include:]…The rise of solar power has dominated renewable energy investment in 2017, with 98 gigawatts of new solar power projects installed, which is more than that new coal, gas and nuclear plants put together…Developing economies have maintained their dominance since 2015 with their spend of renewable energy investment accounting for 63% (up from 54% in 2016)…
China, India and Brazil are by far the leaders of the developing world in their spend on renewables, with China spending $126 billion compared to the US spend of $40 billion. Within Africa, the standout market was Egypt, recording growth of 495% with a spend of 2.6 billion…[An analysis of the electric vehicle market and the uptake per country in 2017 shows the] number of EVs has grown from 122,000 vehicles in 2012 to around 1.1 million in 2017…[Though this is still] a very small percentage of overall vehicle growth (representing 1.8%), it does show that with a reduction in lithium ion battery cost, subsidies for car owners and the rising price of fuel, we may see this trend keep up…” click here for more
Kids, it’s time to give your parents 'the talk.' Not that one, the one on climate change; Confronting your family and leaving them upset is not the goal. Keep it positive, and you might be surprised by what happens next.
Michael A. Smyer, December 20, 2018 (USA Today)
“…[National and international action to solve climate dilemmas is urgently needed, but talks about the issues with family and friends] will lead to concrete changes in our daily lives, specific next steps for making our lives more sustainable and eventually political action to ensure a more sustainable country…[The facts are in] the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released in October…[But] most of us avoid talking about climate change: Less than a third of Americans (31 percent) talk about global warming at least occasionally with family members or friends…
Maybe parents and grandparents aren’t talking to young adults because they’re worried about adding anxiety. The irony is that silence only makes it worse…[But interactions often reveal that many are doing something about it, and can join with others to] do more and demand more…[It is vital to remember that small steps forward and not upsets are] the goal. The holidays are a perfect time to ask your relatives and friends to think and talk about a place they care about. And ask them what’s next…” click here for more
Report: 2018 A ‘Record-Breaking’ Year For Corporate Renewable Energy Deals
Betsy Lillian, December 18, 2018 (North American Windpower)
“…[Corporate renewable energy procurement in the U.S.] has almost doubled its annual total of corporate off-site deals since its prior high point in 2015…[and] the number of new entrants in the market has doubled since then…[P]ublicly announced contracted capacity from corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs), green power purchases, green tariffs and outright project ownership in the U.S. cumulatively reached an annual high of 6.43 GW…
Facebook leads the year in highest capacity, with several deals totaling 1,849.5 MW; it also breaks every buyer’s cumulative annual procurement record…AT&T has also made noteworthy renewable purchasing gains by completing deals totaling 820 MW in 2018, its first year of market participation…[Corporate renewable energy purchasing in the U.S. has reached] over 15 GW cumulatively since 2013…” click here for more
Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.The centralized, top-down power grid is outdated. Time for a bottom-up redesign.
David Roberts, December 3, 2018 (VOX)
"The US power grid is, by some estimates, the largest machine in the world, a continent-spanning wonder of the modern age. And despite its occasional well-publicized failures, it is remarkably reliable…[But] the grid is stressed out. Blackouts due to extreme weather (hurricanes, floods, wildfires) are on the rise, in part due to climate change, which is only going to get worse…[And a] system designed around big, centralized power plants and one-way power flows is grinding against the rise of smarter, cleaner technologies that offer new ways to generate and manage energy at the local level…[Energy professionals say is the time to rethink grid architecture] from the ground up…[T]here are two opposing proposals, one that doubles down on the current, top-down system..[and one] that would redesign the grid system around a new bottom-up paradigm…
…DERs can increasingly help smooth out the variations in demand and renewable energy production locally, without calling on distant power plants…[but the system is] designed for one-way power flows…The question now is whether, given the continued development and profusion of DERs, the existing grid architecture can keep pace…[Some say new communication and automation technologies can allow a decentralized, layered structure] would be responsible for its own optimization and its own reliability…[This] architecture would put more power in local hands…[Each layer] would have financial incentive to optimize its own resources and maximize its own self-sufficiency — to produce as much power as possible and consume as little as possible. That would create enormous demand-side pull for DER innovation…[and] manage complexity, speed decarbonization, and enhance local resilience…” click here for more
As distributed solar expands, can utility system planning keep up? Distributed solar forecasting costs vary, but "completely neglecting it can be very expensive."
Herman K. Trabish, June 14, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: More regulatory effort is now going into preparing utility systems for the inevitable high penetrations of distributed energy resources.
With the rise of distributed energy resources, distribution system planning is getting harder for utilities, but the cost of not doing it is also growing. No more than a decade ago, planning was a matter of historical loads, load growth forecasts, and proposals to build new central station generation when it was needed. Now, system planners face an emerging dynamic environment in which traditional generation is becoming less cost-competitive and integrating variable utility-scale renewables into the grid can be challenging. Complicating matters, more uncertainty is coming over the next 10-year to 20-year planning horizon. Portfolios of renewables and distributed energy resources (DER) are expected to become the most cost-effective supply option. DER will be owned by customers or controlled by private providers and challenging to forecast or plan around.
These rapidly shifting dynamics have introduced an unprecedented level of uncertainty into planning. Some utilities face "continuous refinement" in the forecasting methods they use for distributed resources adoption, according to new National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)-led research. It can be critical for a utility to get forecasting right if it has a big load or if it has, or expects, a high DER penetration. Underforecasting DER can lead the utility to make unneeded capital expenditures in utility-scale generation. Overforecasting can force the utility to fill generation shortfalls with energy purchases at power market prices. Fortunately, sophisticated new forecasting tools are emerging to give utilities more insight into customer adoption practices… click here for more
Is New Hampshire on the verge of battery energy storage history? The only question left to be settled is a big one: Should utilities own behind-the-meter batteries?
Herman K. Trabish, June 19, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: It took months of negotiations but a pilot was finally approved that offers a role for the utility and a role for the private sector. It will likely be a template for bigger states and bigger battery builds across the country.
New Hampshire will soon roll out one of the most ambitious U.S. tests yet of utility-owned, customer-sited battery energy storage systems after regulators and stakeholders in the DE 17-189 proceeding are settled a question of vital interest to the rest of the 3,000-plus U.S. utilities: Should a utility own customer-sited storage or is it a distributed energy resource (DER) that should be left to private sector providers? Utilities have already seen the benefits that large-scale battery energy storage offers in shaving peak demand, providing grid services, and making systems more flexible. There is a clear opportunity to use customer-sited battery storage in the same way. But the question of how far utilities can intrude into markets so far served by private sector vendors must first be answered.
The only major U.S. utility-owned, behind-the-meter (BTM) battery storage is the Green Mountain Power (GMP) pilot projects involving behind-the-meter Tesla Powerwalls that will provide dispatchable energy and other grid services to New England’s wholesale electricity markets. New Hampshire's Liberty Utilities will now also implement a two-phase pilot project that could eventually be 1,000 utility-owned Tesla Powerwalls. Private sector DER providers Sunrun and ReVision Energy and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) Staff argued the pilot should not be approved without providing an opportunity for the private sector. The final settlement will include two phases, giving the utility an initial opportunity and bringing the private providers in after groundwork has been laid… click here for more
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Powering down coal; Navigating the economic and financial risks in the last years of coal power Matt Gray, Sebastian Ljungwaldh, Laurence Watson, Irem Kok, November 2018 (Carbon Tracker)
This report presents the results of Carbon Tracker’s coal power economics portal, an online tool that tracks the economic and financial risks of coal power at the assetlevel throughout the world. The portal covers 6,685 coal units which represent ~95% (1,900 GW) of global operating capacity and ~90% (220 GW) of capacity under-construction. The portal provides current and forward-looking estimates of the (short and long-run) operating cost, gross profitability, relative competitiveness, phase-out year and stranded asset risk in a below 2°C scenario. Access to our portal and methodology document is available at www.carbontracker.com/reports/coalportal.
Death spiral goes global – 42% of global operating fleet unprofitable in 2018 and 72% by 2040 independent of additional climate or air pollution policy
Where profitability is defined as revenues minus long-run operating costs, our analysis finds that due to high fuel costs 42% of coal capacity operating today could be losing money. From 2019 onwards, we expect a combination of renewable energy costs, air pollution regulation and carbon pricing to result in further cost pressures and make 72% of the fleet cashflow negative by 2040. This scenario assumes fuel costs will fall over 10% (on average) after 2018 and only includes existing climate and air pollution policies. This will likely prove too conservative, especially due to the continued politicisation of air pollution.
n liberalised markets where power generators are subject to competition, coal capacity will be forced to shut if outof-market payments cannot be secured or environmental regulations are not reduced or delayed. In regulated markets where governments typically approve and pass on the cost of generation to consumers, politicians have four options: close highcost coal, subsidise coal generation, increase power prices to make coal viable, or subsidise power prices. Over the long-term coal power will become a netliability and those politicians in regulated markets who remain wedded to high-cost coal will be forced to choose between subsidising coal generation and power prices (which will impact the fiscal health of the state) or increase power prices (which will hurt consumers and undermine competitiveness).
The myth of cheap coal– 35% of coal capacity costs more to run than building new renewables in 2018, increasing to 96% by 2030
There are three economic inflection points that policymakers and investors need to track to provide the least-cost power and avoid stranded assets: when new renewables and gas outcompete new coal; when new renewables and gas outcompete operating existing coal; and when new firm (or dispatchable) renewables and gas outcompete operating existing coal. Regarding the first inflection point, by 2025 at the latest, renewables will beat coal in all markets. This estimate will likely prove too conservative as policymakers introduce transparent auctions which will intensify the deflationary trend of renewables in emerging markets. The second inflection point is where coal will face an existential crisis, as originators in liberalised markets will arbitrage the delta between the wholesale power price (which is typically set by dispatchable gas and coal generators) and the cost of new investments in renewable energy. Our analysis shows that as of today 35% of capacity could have a higher operating cost than new renewables and this may increase to 96% by 2030. This disruptive dynamic is problematic for policymakers who focus on the all-in cost for the end consumer. Inflection point three is clearly outside the scope of this analysis and will likely form part of future research with local partners. The challenge for policymakers at this point is no longer whether renewable energy will be the leastcost option, but rather how to integrate wind and solar to maximise system value.
Below 2°C scenario – coal owners could avoid $267 bn in stranded asset risk by phasing-out coal
We define stranded asset risk as the difference between cash flows in a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario (which acknowledges existing and ratified air pollution and carbon pricing policies as well as announced retirements in company reports) and cash flows in a below 2°C scenario (which sees coal power phased-out globally by 2040). A positive stranded asset risk value means, based on existing market structures, investors and governments could lose money in the below 2°C scenario as coal capacity is cash-flow positive. A negative stranded asset risk figure means, based on existing market structures, investors and governments could avoid losses in the 2°C scenario as coal capacity is cash-flow negative. Our below 2°C scenario finds around -$267bn of stranded asset risk globally. In our business-as-usual scenario, major coal markets such as China, the US and the EU become ever more cashflow negative and thus stranded asset risk is negative. This more than offsets those regions where risk is positive, meaning the premature closure of coal consistent with the Paris Agreement is the least-cost option compared to our BAU scenario. This analysis highlights a power sector mega trend: with or without climate policy coal power is increasingly a high-cost option.
A government problem with investor implications
According to our analysis, 90% of operating and under construction capacity is either regulated or semi-regulated. In both liberalised and regulated markets, the economics of power generation will continue to change much more quickly than expected and in favour of low-carbon technologies. This transition will expose governments and investors – both equity and debt – to material financial risk. Equally, governments and investors have opportunities to be agents of change and to ensure an ordered transition.
Regardless of the market structure, the continued downward trend for the costs of renewable energy will strengthen policymakers’ ability to provide consumers access to secure, affordable, and clean energy. This is particularly important for those countries who face the challenge of stimulating economic development while reducing air pollution. Moreover, commitments to renewable power over the long-term will better position governments to attract the business of multinational corporations who have already begun to gravitate towards guarantors of renewable energy supply.
Policymakers in regulated markets will be more acutely conscious than those in liberalised markets of the financial risks that will materialise from a commitment to coal power, which over the long-term will become a net-liability. Governments will be forced to choose between subsidising coal generation and power prices (which will impact the fiscal health of the state) or increasing power prices (which will anger consumers and undermine competitiveness).
The impact upon – and role for – investors also differs depending upon the market context. In liberalised markets, utility shareholders are highly exposed to the kind of market volatility that has plagued European utilities’ transition. Coal-heavy utilities in liberalised markets are at a strategic crossroads: continue to reinvest in existing coal capacity and hope governments ignore the overwhelming energy market trends and approve subsidies in the form of capacity and retirement payments; or divest and prepare for a low carbon future. Equity and bond investors of companies in regulated markets will also need to consider the extent to which they are insulated from cheap renewable power.
The orderliness of the transition away from coal power rests on policymaker and investors’ willingness to prepare. In this regard, the establishment of the Powering Past Coal Alliance offers a mechanism for government and finance to work collectively. Utility investors, particularly those operating in liberalised markets, can play a critical role in engaging with their portfolio of companies. However, power markets are political constructs and, as such, governments will need to plan well ahead of time as low-carbon technologies accelerate through the three inflection points on their way to providing electricity.
If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman
The findings of this report are based on our coal power economics portal which is the product of a two-year modelling effort. This is the first time anyone has attempted global coverage of coal power at asset-level. While every effort was made to model capacity as comprehensively as possible, data and model anomalies are an inevitable result of the scale and scope of this project. Our objective here is simple: move first and iterate constantly. Future versions will include more accurate and comprehensive data and modelling as we undertake bespoke research in collaboration with our local partners.
The New Green Deal Is Shutdown Serious This is what a government shutdown over climate change would look like
Eric Holthaus, December 17, 2018 (Grist)
“…[The president says a border wall to limit immigration is worth a government shutdown and some say [Green New Dealers should think about climate change as an existential threat that deserves the same commitment]…The first step would be making climate change a core and unrelenting talking point of the party’s platform — and then winning elections specifically with a populist mandate to take immediate, large-scale action on it…The policy platform that has emerged from [midterm] electoral wins — the Green New Deal — has already pushed the larger Democratic Party to quickly consider positions that would have been deemed outright radical just a few months ago, like a nationwide 100 percent renewable energy mandate by 2030 and a green jobs guarantee. This kind of rapid shift in dialogue is consistent with the “moon shot” approach that scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic warming…
…Highly visible groups of young people, led by the Sunrise Movement, have already made clear that they’re not going to go easy on Democratic leadership if it ignores climate change…[Policy change could emerge] if its members continue speaking with clear, moral language inspired by past civil rights struggles…Likely incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promised dialogue with Sunrise protesters, though she’s yet to agree to the protesters’ request to direct a special committee explicitly to develop a Green New Deal plan…[Senate] Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already made clear that a Green New Deal is the only way forward…[and] Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey became the second likely Democratic presidential contender (along with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) to endorse the idea of the sweeping program…[but it will still require a massive push from voters…” click here for more
New Energy Beats The Market Renewable Energies Are Finally Becoming Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels
Annie Qureshi, December 17, 2018 (Blue & Green Tomorrow)
“…[Not that long ago, New Energy was] expensive and just not feasible in an economic sense…A 1994 article by Harvard Business Review suggested it might be nearly impossible…[But wind and solar] have become cheaper and more efficient…[and] the construction of coal and gas power plants is more inefficient than the new wind and solar systems…[Moving away from] fossil fuels causes unrest in many countries…[and many] economists] say the 100 percent conversion to renewable energy will cost the global economy billions of dollars…[They forget that not transitioning] will cost the world more in natural disasters and death…
A crucial step in the reduction of greenhouse gases is the rapid replacement of coal, oil, and gas with renewable energies…The simple reason for the superiority of solar and wind power over conventional extractive industries, such as oil and gas, is that extractive models inevitably run out, increasing costs…In contrast, there is plenty of sun and wind…[T]he green energy generation model is about rising yields and falling costs…This change will be among the most significant human transformations ever, on par with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Information Age in the 1990s. The only thing that could kill these developments dead in their tracks is government subsidies for coal, oil, gas or nuclear power – even if this is at the expense of the planet…” click here for more
Where Sun Meets Water; Floating Solar Market Report
(Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore)
Why floating solar?
Floating solar photovoltaic (PV) installations open up new opportunities for scaling up solar generating capacity, especially in countries with high population density and competing uses for available land. They have certain advantages over land-based systems, including utilization of existing electricity transmission infrastructure at hydropower sites, close proximity to demand centers (in the case of water supply reservoirs), and improved energy yield thanks to the cooling effects of water and the decreased presence of dust. The exact magnitude of these performance advantages has yet to be confirmed by larger installations, across multiple geographies, and over time, but in many cases they may outweigh any increase in capital cost.
The possibility of adding floating solar capacity to existing hydropower plants is of particular interest, especially in the case of large hydropower sites that can be flexibly operated. The solar capacity can be used to boost the energy yield of such assets and may also help to manage periods of low water availability by allowing the hydropower plant to operate in “peaking” rather than “baseload” mode. And the benefits go both ways: hydropower can smooth variable solar output by operating in a “load-following” mode. Floating solar may therefore be of particular interest where grids are weak, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of developing Asia.
Other potential advantages of floating solar include:
• Reduced evaporation from water reservoirs, as the solar panels provide shade and limit the evaporative effects of wind
• Improvements in water quality, through decreased algae growth
• Reduction or elimination of the shading of panels by their surroundings
• Elimination of the need for major site preparation, such as leveling or the laying of foundations, which must be done for land-based installations
• Easy installation and deployment in sites with low anchoring and mooring requirements, with a high degree of modularity, leading to faster installations.
An overview of floating solar technology
The general layout of a floating PV system is similar to that of a land-based PV system, other than the fact that the PV arrays and often the inverters are mounted on a floating platform (figure 1). The direct current (DC) electricity generated by PV modules is gathered by combiner boxes and converted to alternating current (AC) by inverters. For small-scale floating plants close to shore, it is possible to place the inverters on land— that is, just a short distance from the array. Otherwise, both central or string inverters on specially designed floats are typically used. The platform, together with its anchoring and mooring system, is an integral part of any floating PV installation.
Currently most large-scale floating PV plants are deployed using pontoon-type floats, with PV panels mounted at a fixed tilt angle. Typically, the floating structure can be made of so-called pure floats or floats that are combined with metal trusses (figure 2). A pure float configuration uses specially designed self-buoyant bodies to which PV panels can be directly affixed. This configuration is the most common. It is available from several suppliers and claims an installed capacity worldwide of several hundred megawatts. Another type of design uses metal structures to support PV panels in a manner similar to land-based systems. These structures are fixed to pontoons whose only function is to provide buoyancy. In this case, there is no need for specially designed floats. The floating platform is held in place by an anchoring and mooring system, the design of which depends on factors such as wind load, float type, water depth, and variability in the water level.
The floating platform can generally be anchored to a bank, to the bottom, to piles, or to a combination of the three. The developer selects a design suitable to the platform’s location, bathymetry (water profile and depth), soil conditions, and variation in water level. Bank anchoring is particularly suitable for small and shallow ponds, but most floating installations are anchored to the bottom. Regardless of the method, the anchor needs to be designed so as to keep the installation in place for 25 years or more. Mooring lines need to be properly selected to accommodate ambient stresses and variations in water level.
The current global market for floating solar
The first floating PV system was built in 2007 in Aichi, Japan, followed by several other countries, including France, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and the United States…Medium-to-large floating installations (larger than 1 MWp) began to emerge in 2013. After an initial wave of deployment concentrated in Japan, Korea, and the United States, the floating solar market spread to China (now the largest player), Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Projects are under consideration or development in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Ghana, and the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as other countries.
Recently, plants with capacity of tens and even hundreds of megawatts have been installed in China; more are planned in India and Southeast Asia. The first plant larger than 10 MWp was installed in 2016, and in 2018 the world saw the first several plants larger than 100 MWp, the largest of which is 150 MWp. Flooded mining sites in China support most of the largest installations (box 1). With the emergence of these new markets, cumulative installed floating solar capacity and annual new additions are growing exponentially (figure 3).
As of mid-2018, the cumulative installed capacity of floating solar was approaching 1.1 gigawatt-peak (GWp), the same milestone that ground-mounted PV reached in the year 2000. If the evolution of land-based PV is any indication, floating solar could advance at least as rapidly, profiting as it does from all the decreases in costs attained by land-based PV deployment. Most of the installations to-date are based on industrial basins, drinking water reservoirs, or irrigation ponds (figure 4), but the first combinations with hydropower reservoirs, which bring the added benefits of better utilization of the existing transmission infrastructure and the opportunity to manage the solar variability through combined power output, have started to appear (box 2). In these installations, special attention needs to be paid to possible effects on the downstream flow regime from the reservoir, which is typically subject to restrictions related to water management (in case of cascading dams), agriculture, biodiversity, navigation, and livelihood or recreational uses…Marine installations are also appearing…The biggest uncertainties are long-term reliability and cost…
Policy and regulatory considerations
Currently, even in countries with significant floating solar development there are no clear, specific regulations on permitting and licensing of plants. Processes for the moment are assumed to be the same as for ground-mounted PV, but legal interpretation is needed in each country. In some countries, drinking water reservoirs or hydropower reservoirs are considered national-security sites, making permitting more complex and potentially protracted.
As highlighted in this report, floating solar deployment is expected to be cost-competitive under many circumstances and therefore not to require financial support. Nevertheless, initial projects may require some form of support to overcome barriers associated with the industry’s relatively limited experience with this technology.
So far, a number of countries have taken different approaches to floating PV. Typical policies currently supporting floating solar installations can be grouped into two categories:
• Feed-in tariffs that are higher than those for groundmounted PV (as in Taiwan, China)
• Extra bonuses for renewable energy certificates (as in the Republic of Korea)
• A high feed-in tariff for solar PV generally (as in Japan)
• Extra “adder” value for floating solar generation under the compensation rates of state incentives program (as in the U.S. state of Massachusetts).
Supportive governmental policies:
• Ambitious renewable energy targets (as in Korea and Taiwan)
• Realization of demonstrator plants (as in the Indian state of Kerala)
• Dedicated tendering processes for floating solar (as in China, Taiwan, and the Indian state of Maharashtra)
• Openness on the part of the entities managing the water bodies, such as tenders for water-lease contracts (as in Korea).
However, for most countries hoping to develop a well-functioning floating solar segment of a wider solar PV market, the following policy and regulatory considerations need to be addressed:
• Unique aspects of permitting and licensing that necessitate interagency cooperation between energy and water authorities. This also includes environmental impact assessments for floating PV installations.
• Water rights and permits to install and operate a floating solar plant on the surface of a water body and anchor it in or next to the reservoir.
• Tariff setting for floating solar installations (which could be done as for land-based PV, for example, through feed-in tariffs for small installations and tenders or auctions for large ones).
• Access to existing transmission infrastructure: – How will this be managed? – Who will be responsible? – What permits/agreements will be required?
• Special considerations for hydro-connected plants:
– Whether the hydropower plant owner/operator is allowed to add a floating solar installation
– Whether the hydropower plant owner/operator is allowed to provide a concession to a third party to build, own, and operate a floating solar plant
– Management of risks and liabilities related to hydropower plant operation and weather events that can affect the solar or hydropower plants
– Rules of dispatch coordination of the solar and the hydropower plants’ outputs.
There are more than 400,000 square kilometers (km2 ) of man-made reservoirs in the world (Shiklomanov 1993), suggesting that floating solar has a theoretical potential on a terawatt scale, purely from the perspective of the available surface area. The most conservative estimate of floating solar’s overall global potential based on available man-made water surfaces exceeds 400 GWp, which is equal to the 2017 cumulative installed PV capacity globally…There are individual dams on each continent that could theoretically accommodate hundreds of megawatts or, in some cases, gigawatts of floating solar installations…
Costs of floating solar and project structuring… Capital costs…Levelized costs of electricity, including sensitivity analysis…Project structuring…Challenges…
Conclusions and next steps
The deployment of floating solar looks set to accelerate as the technologies mature, opening up a new frontier in the global expansion of renewable energy and bringing opportunities to a wide range of countries and markets. With a global potential of 400 GW under very conservative assumptions, floating solar could double the existing installed capacity of solar PV but without the land acquisition that is required for ground-mounted installations. At some large hydropower plants, covering just 3-4% of the reservoir with floating solar could double the installed capacity, potentially allowing water resources to be more strategically managed by utilizing the solar output during the day. Additionally, combining the dispatch of solar and hydropower could be used to smooth the variability of the solar output, while making better use of existing transmission assets, and this could be particularly beneficial in countries where grids are weak.
When combined with other demonstrated benefits such as higher energy yield, reduced evaporation, and improved water quality, floating solar is likely to be an attractive option for many countries. Although the market is still nascent, there are a sufficient number of experienced suppliers to structure a competitive tender and get a commercial project financed and constructed, and the additional costs appear to be low and are falling rapidly.
The priority over the next few years should be to carry out strategic deployments of floating solar at sites where it is already economic, while applying the “precautionary principle” when it comes to possible environmental or social impacts. This may include initial limits on the portion of the water surface that is covered and efforts to avoid installations in the littoral zone near shore, where plant and animal life may be more abundant. In addition, development of the constituent technologies and knowledge of positive and negative impacts will be greatly enhanced if early installations are diligently monitored, which will entail some public expenditure. The need for monitoring, added to the possible additional capital costs of floating solar over those of ground-mounted systems, makes early installations in developing countries a strong candidate for concessional climate financing.
To support market development, an active dialogue among all stakeholders, public and private, is required to further global understanding of floating solar technologies and to spread lessons learned from early projects across a wider area. Through this market report and an upcoming handbook for practitioners, the World Bank Group and SERIS hope to contribute to this goal, and we look forward to working with governments, developers, and the research community to expand the market for floating solar by bringing down costs, supporting grid integration, maximizing ancillary benefits, and minimizing negative environmental or social impacts.
In addition to the financing of public and private investments, the World Bank Group is committed to supporting the development of floating solar as well as hydro-connected solar by generating and disseminating knowledge. Publications and tools planned for the Where Sun Meets Water series are:
• A floating solar market report
• A floating solar handbook for practitioners
• Global mapping of floating solar potential (a geospatial tool)
• Proposed technical designs and project structuring for hydro-connected solar
A Concrete Climate Concern Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about
Lucy Rodgers, 17 December 2018 (BBC News)
Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in existence. It is second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet…[But cement, the key ingredient in concrete,] is the source of about 8% of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions…If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world…Production has increased more than thirtyfold since 1950 and almost fourfold since 1990. China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US did in the entire 20th Century…[But] emerging markets of South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa - driven by rapid urbanisation and economic development…[will require] cement production to increase by a quarter by 2030…[Production involves dust-producing quarrying, the use of massive kilns, which require large amounts of energy, and a chemical process that] emits staggeringly high levels of CO2…
[I]mprovements in the energy-efficiency of new plants and burning waste materials instead of fossil fuels has seen the average CO2 emissions per tonne of output fall by 18% over the last few decades…[and] digitalisation, machine learning and an increasing awareness of sustainability are all having an impact on the cement industry's culture…[But the] sector is dominated by a small number of major producers who are reluctant to experiment or change business models. Architects, engineers, contractors and clients are also, rather understandably, cautious about using new building materials…[while global] CO2 emissions need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030…” click here for more
GE Can Beat The Market With New Energy General Electric May Be Forced to Bet on Renewable Energy; With many legacy businesses crumbling, GE may see a rare bright spot in renewable energy.
Travis Hoium, December 16, 2018 (The Motley Fool)
Despite General Electric (NYSE:GE) being a world leader in wind energy, renewable has always been…overshadowed by power plants, oil and gas, aviation, GE Capital, and healthcare, which generated more revenue and profits…[but power plants are in structural decline, oil and gas hasn't been as profitable as expected, and GE Capital is a shell of its former self…Despite being a small business for General Electric, the company's renewable energy business is actually one of the largest in the world. In the third quarter of 2018 alone, GE's renewable energy segment generated $2.9 billion in revenue, or an annualized rate of $11.6 billion, beating what some of the biggest renewable energy companies in the world make in an entire year…
[GE] could acquire its way to dominance in solar, energy storage, and smart devices. It could also leverage GE Capital to develop and build renewable energy projects using other companies' technology…[And] it could leverage existing relationships…Housing multiple groups of technologies under one roof could help lower the cost of integration across technologies and bring unique product and service offerings to market…GE could build a solar farm with wind turbines and energy storage all on one site…[and sell smoothed] streams of electricity to utilities…If GE is profitable and has tax liabilities, it could even use the tax credits that come with renewable energy development…[The renewable energy industry could use a company with GE's scale to help it gain more mainstream recognition and grow to the scale of other energy industries…” click here for more