NewEnergyNews: 01/01/2020 - 02/01/2020

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, the administration's position on the climate crisis makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Therefore, until November 2020, the NewEnergyNews theme song:

YESTERDAY

  • MONDAY’S STUDY: U.S. Emissions Dropped 2.1% in 2019
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Documented: A Whole Continent’s Climate Has Changed
  • Weekend Video: World’s Biggest Money Fund Calls Out Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Welcome To The “Solar-Plus” Decade
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World’s Biggest Fund: “Prepare for a significant reallocation of capital”
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy’s Century
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: Distributed New Energy Ready To Serve The Power System
  • TTTA Wednesday-Amazon Workers Demand Climate Action
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • MONDAY’S STUDY: New Energy Costs Get Better
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

    --------------------------

    --------------------------

    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

    -------------------

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, January 22:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Offers An Even Better Deal
  • Historic New Energy Acceleration Coming

    Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Offers An Even Better Deal

    Everyone loves a guaranteed discount: New financing approach drives community solar growth; Solar access is expanding through big utility builds, a new private sector approach and federal funding of pilot programs.

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 15, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The complexities of administering programs continue to slow the progress of community solar.

    Community solar is transforming as promises of electricity bill savings, ambitious utility build-outs and business model innovations shift traditional approaches and drive growth. Florida Power and Light (FPL) is working to build the country's largest community solar project; a new "fixed discount" business model is creating savings certainty for customers that could eliminate longstanding private sector marketing challenges; and new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-backed approaches are reaching underserved customers.

    Project designs are diversifying as costs fall and developers find new ways to make larger-scale shared solar work. But challenges remain. Developers and utilities are building aggressively where they can, but many states lack comprehensive policies that prioritize community solar, advocates told Utility Dive. That could slow the market and keep innovations from becoming solutions.

    A community solar project must have "multiple subscribers" that receive monetary or kWh "on-bill benefits" that are "tied to a specific solar project," according to 2018's Community Solar Vision for 2030 from the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) and Vote Solar. There was 1.34 GW of community solar online in June 2019, according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) data. About 67% of total capacity has been built by private sector developers, and the rest by utility-led projects, according to Smart Electric Power Alliance's (SEPA) 2019 report.

    The potential market includes electricity customers without solar-suitable roofs, or without the financial status or inclination to contract for or own rooftop solar, according to NREL. There could be 3 GW online by 2020 and potentially 57 GW to 84 GW in 2030, adding as much as $121 billion to the economy, according to the Vision study. Expansion of state policies is the key to growth, according to energy policywatchers told Utility Dive... click here for more

    Historic New Energy Acceleration Coming

    EIA: Utility-scale renewables topping coal and nuclear in 2021 as energy transition accelerates

    Dennis Wamsted, January 14, 2020 (IEEFA U.S.)

    “…[B]y 2021 renewable energy generation in the U.S. will overtake coal—advancing at a rate that would have been almost unthinkable just 10 years ago…[The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that] coal generation will total 815.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh)…[and utility-sector renewables will produce] 843.4 billion kWh…[Wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass will be] 21.6% of overall U.S. electricity generation, topping both coal (estimated at 20.8%) and nuclear (19.7%)…

    …[Natural] Gas is expected to remain essentially flat at 37%...[In 2010, coal accounted for 46% of the U.S. electricity generation market, while renewables totaled just over 10%...There is also a significant amount of small-scale renewable production, particularly rooftop solar, that is not calculated in these figures…The EIA projects a significant increase in rooftop capacity [of 11 gigawatts (GW)] by 2021…bringing the total amount of installed capacity to more than 32GW…[W]hile momentous, the national figures projected by the EIA are also likely still to be conservative…” click here for more

    Monday, January 20, 2020

    MONDAY’S STUDY: U.S. Emissions Dropped 2.1% in 2019

    Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2019

    Trevor Houser and Hannah Pitt, January 7, 2019 (Rhodium Group)

    After a sharp uptick in 2018, we estimate that US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 2.1% last year based on preliminary energy and economic data. This decline was due almost entirely to a drop in coal consumption. Coal-fired power generation fell by a record 18% year-on-year to its lowest level since 1975. An increase in natural gas generation offset some of the climate gains from this coal decline, but overall power sector emissions still decreased by almost 10%. Unfortunately, far less progress was made in other sectors of the economy. Transportation emissions remained relatively flat. Emissions from buildings, industry and other parts of the economy rose, though less than in 2018. All told, net US GHG emissions ended 2019 slightly higher than at the end of 2016. At roughly 12% below 2005 levels, the US is at risk of missing its Copenhagen Accord target of a 17% reduction by the end of 2020, and is still a long way off from the 26-28% reduction by 2025 pledged under the Paris Agreement.

    A Coal-Driven Decline

    The switch from coal to natural gas and renewables in the electric power sector accounts for the majority of the progress the US has made in reducing emissions over the past decade. This was particularly true last year. Based on a combination of monthly data from the Energy Information Administration and daily data from Genscape, we estimate that coal-fired power generation fell by 18% in 2019 (Figure 1). That’s the largest year-on-year decline in recorded history with coal generation now at its lowest level since 1975. It also marks the end of a decade in which total US coal generation was cut in half.

    Natural gas generation made up much of the gap last year, as it has consistently in recent years, thanks to extremely cheap gas prices. Average annual prices at Henry Hub were down 20% in 2019, adjusted for inflation, to their lowest level in decades. Renewables played an important role as well thanks in part to continued cost declines in both wind and solar generation. Based on preliminary data from EIA and Genscape, utility-scale renewable generation (including hydro) was up 6% in 2019. That’s higher than the 3% gain in 2018, but lower than the 13% gains posted in 2016 and 2017.

    The drop in coal generation reduced emissions by 190 million metric tons in 2019. The growth in gas generation shaved a little more than 40 million metric tons off this number. But electric power sector emissions were still down by nearly 10%—the biggest year-on-year drop in decades, and a significant change from a 1.2% increase in 2018.

    Little Progress Elsewhere

    Unfortunately, there was little good news outside the power sector, continuing a trend we have observed for the past several years. Based on preliminary data, we estimate that transportation emissions declined slightly—by 0.3% year-on-year (Figure 2). Industrial emissions (both energy and process) rose by 0.6%. Direct emissions from buildings increased by 2.2% and emissions from other sectors (agriculture, waste, land use, oil and gas methane, etc) rose by 4.4%.

    This was an improvement from the relatively sharp increase in building, transportation and industrial emissions recorded last year (Figure 3). As noted in our analysis last year, most of the increase in building emissions and some of the increase in industrial emissions in 2018 were weather-related. 2017 had been an atypically warm year and 2018 was colder (and closer to the ten-year average). This boosted year-on-year demand for heating in homes, offices, stores and factories. 2019 had about as many heating degree days (HDDs) as 2018, so there wasn’t the same year-on-year spike.

    Strong economic growth also contributed to the increase in end-use emissions in 2018. GDP expanded by 2.9% that year compared to 2.4% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2016. Growth slowed again in 2019, down to 2.3% during the first three quarters of the year. That also contributed to more modest end-use emissions growth last year. For example, in the transportation sector, domestic air travel grew by 2.3% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2019, compared to 4.1% during the same period in 2018. As a result, jet fuel demand growth slowed from 2.6% to 1.8% during the first three quarters of 2019. Growth in the amount of freight moved by truck slowed from 7.1% year-on-year during the first three quarters of 2018 to 4.1% during the same period in 2019. That turned a 5.6% increase in year-on-year diesel demand during the first three quarters in 2018 to a 0.8% decline during the same period in 2019.

    Beyond the year-to-year fluctuations in weather and economic growth, it’s clear that US decarbonization success is still largely limited to the 27% of net emissions that come from the power sector. Improvements in vehicle, lighting, and appliance efficiency have been successful in slowing the pace of emissions growth in transportation and buildings (and perhaps even halting it in transportation), but it will require much more than efficiency to achieve meaningful absolute declines. Large-scale fuel substitution (to decarbonized electricity and other zero-carbon fuels) will be required. States have some ability to drive this in absence of federal policy action.

    The industrial, agriculture, and waste sectors remain largely untouched, either by policy or technology innovation. Industry is now a larger source of emissions than coal-fired power generation, and growing. There are low-cost technology solutions to reduce oil and gas methane emissions, but their deployment at scale requires strengthening regulations that the Trump Administration instead has been weakening. Reducing HFC emissions also requires new policy action.

    Coming up Short on Climate Targets

    Using preliminary data and IPCC accounting protocols, we estimate that net economy-wide GHG emissions fell by 2.1% in the US in 2019 to 5,783 million metric tons. That’s a 12.3% cumulative decline relative to 2005 levels, with one year to go to meet the Copenhagen Accord target of reducing emissions “in the range” of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and six years to go to reach the 26-28% reduction by 2025 pledged under the Paris Agreement (Figure 4). The fact that the US has achieved no net reductions over the past three years makes meeting these targets extremely challenging.

    If our preliminary emissions estimates prove correct, hitting the Copenhagen Accord’s 17% target exactly will require a 5.3% reduction in net GHG emissions this year—a bigger annual drop than the US has experienced during the post-war period, with the exception of 2009 due to the Great Recession. Meeting the Paris Agreement targets requires a 2.8-3.2% average annual reduction in emissions over the next six years. This is significantly faster than the 0.9% average annual reduction achieved since 2005. It’s still possible, but will require a significant change in federal policy—and pretty soon.

    Saturday, January 18, 2020

    Documented: A Whole Continent’s Climate Has Changed

    The continent of Australia’s climate is now hotter and drier than it was in the last century and the politicians who deny it are feeling the heat. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

    World’s Biggest Money Fund Calls Out Climate Crisis

    “Prepare for a significant reallocation of capital…” From CNBC Television via YouTube

    Welcome To The "Solar-Plus" Decade

    Solar plus what? Solar plus every tool that leads to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. From Solar Energy Industries Association via YouTube

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    World’s Biggest Fund: “Prepare for a significant reallocation of capital”

    Why BlackRock’s Larry Fink warns climate change is on the edge of reshaping finance

    Rupert Steiner, January 14, 2020 (MarketWatch)

    “Sustainable investments that take into account climate change will deliver better returns, says BlackRock founder Larry Fink in his annual letter to chief executives…[It reports that a “significant reallocation of capital” will lead to “a fundamental reshaping of finance” because climate] change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects…The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance…

    Investors are increasingly recognizing that climate risk is investment risk…Because capital markets pull future risk forward, we will see changes in capital allocation more quickly than we see changes in climate…[Fink announced Blackrock will focus on sustainability and push] companies for more transparency and disclosure of climate risks, and quitting investments in some thermal coal producers…” click here for more

    New Energy’s Century

    How Far Has Renewable Energy Come In The Last 20 Years

    Irina Slav, January 11, 2020 (OilPrice.com)

    “…[T]he first data for solar and wind generation dates back only to 1990…[Europe, today’s greenest continent,] only ventured into the two in 1997…[but the] energy world has changed in the past twenty years…Iceland is the top global performer in renewable energy thanks to its geothermal resources…[Costa Rica] boasted 100-percent renewable energy generation for more than two straight months twice over two years…[The UK got more electricity] from renewable sources than fossil fuels during 2019…[The world’s evolution in energy sourcing and use could continue…Once upon a time in the 1990s, both solar and wind power was expensive, not to mention lacking in efficiency…

    Today, there are photovoltaic materials that can reach efficiency rates of over 40 percent…[A]n average cost of solar panel installation in the U.S. was $8.50 per watt in 2009. Today, it is about $2.96 per watt…[T]he United States, the average generating capacity of new turbines in 2018 was 239 percent higher than in 1998, at 2.4 MW…In 2018 a kW of installed capacity cost $1,470 in the U.S., down as much as 40 percent from 2009…[Both are] cost-competitive with coal in some parts of the world…[What is happening] is a renewables evolution. That’s arguably a much more reliable way to change the ways in which the world sources its energy and the ways it uses it…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Distributed New Energy Ready To Serve The Power System

    Renewables' variability sends wary utilities from traditional DR to DER and load flexibility; New technologies can expand utilities' once-limited options, allowing control of load with customer-sited resources to balance variable generation, but utilities say they need incentives.

    Herman K. Trabish | Aug. 14, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: DER as system support continue to grow in significance on major utility power systems across the country.

    Traditional Demand Response (DR) serves supply-demand imbalances, but today's variable renewables and distributed energy resources (DER) make imbalances more common and new load flexibility allows utilities to adjust loads down instead of increasing generation. Adjustable smart thermostats for air conditioning (A/C) and heating, grid integrated water heating, and managed electric vehicle (EV) charging will be gateways to a DR market that adds residential DER to traditional DR using commercial -industrial customers' load, according to a new Brattle report. This more flexible load can protect against variability from rising levels of solar and wind generation. And it's that residential segment that will come to dominate the DR market in the next 10 years.

    New marketing approaches and rates with price signals will accelerate customer adoption of DER, utilities and other power sector analysts agreed. But utilities and regulators must confront technical and market complexities to enable this transformation. Technical complexities include getting the necessary system hardware and software in place. Market complexities include providing regulatory guidance to utilities, putting incentives to adopt DER in place for customers, and giving third parties the opportunity to act as DER aggregators. Nearly 200 GW of cost-effective load flexibility from existing DR and new DER could meet up to 20% of the estimated 2030 U.S. peak load, avoiding over $16 billion annually in system costs, Brattle reported. Existing incentives and technologies can deliver an estimated 120 GW of load flexibility. Solutions for utility operations complexities and market barriers are needed for the other 80 GW…” click here for more

    Amazon Workers Demand Climate Action

    Amazon Is on a Collision Course With Employee Activists Outraged by the Climate Crisis

    Alyssa Newcomb, January 4, 2020 (Fortune)

    “…[Amazon Workers for Climate Justice, a coalition of employees who want Amazon to do more to address the climate emergency, say they have been questioned by Amazon's human resources and legal representatives and received written warnings that they'll be terminated if they continue to speak out] about the company’s role in the climate crisis…[and] not getting approval to speak to the press, or on social media…[Some say the] policy is aimed at silencing discussion around publicly available information…But the public pressure the employees are putting on Amazon to end contracts with oil and gas companies, stop donating to climate change-denying politicians, and to reduce pollution at warehouses, for example, is raising questions about what kind of speech is acceptable for employees.

    The question even more pressing in an era when everyone has a quick and easy megaphone on social media, and employee activism continues to get louder…[The Amazon] employee group believes some of their concerns are finally being heard…Amazon signed a climate pledge that includes a commitment to using 100% renewable energy by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2040…[and] it ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles to help achieve this…” click here for more

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    MONDAY’S STUDY: New Energy Costs Get Better

    Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 13.0

    November 2019 (Lazard)

    Introduction

    Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy (“LCOE”) analysis addresses the following topics:

    • Comparative LCOE analysis for various generation technologies on a $/MWh basis, including sensitivities for U.S. federal tax subsidies, fuel prices and costs of capital

    • Illustration of how the LCOE of onshore wind and utility-scale solar compare to the marginal cost of selected conventional generation technologies

    • Historical LCOE comparison of various utility-scale generation technologies

    • Illustration of the historical LCOE declines for wind and utility-scale solar technologies

    • Illustration of how the LCOEs of utility-scale solar and wind compare to those of gas peaking and combined cycle

    • Comparison of capital costs on a $/kW basis for various generation technologies

    • Deconstruction of the LCOE for various generation technologies by capital cost, fixed operations and maintenance expense, variable operations and maintenance expense and fuel cost

    • Overview of the methodology utilized to prepare Lazard’s LCOE analysis

    • Considerations regarding the operating characteristics and applications of various generation technologies

    • An illustrative comparison of the value of carbon abatement of various renewable energy technologies

    • Summary of assumptions utilized in Lazard’s LCOE analysis

    • Summary considerations in respect of Lazard’s approach to evaluating the LCOE of various conventional and renewable energy technologies

    Other factors would also have a potentially significant effect on the results contained herein, but have not been examined in the scope of this current analysis. These additional factors, among others, could include: capacity value vs. energy value; network upgrades, transmission, congestion or other integration-related costs; significant permitting or other development costs, unless otherwise noted; and costs of complying with various environmental regulations (e.g., carbon emissions offsets or emissions control systems). This analysis also does not address potential social and environmental externalities, including, for example, the social costs and rate consequences for those who cannot afford distributed generation solutions, as well as the long-term residual and societal consequences of various conventional generation technologies that are difficult to measure (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, airborne pollutants, greenhouse gases, etc.)

    Selected renewable energy generation technologies are cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies under certain circumstances

    The Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) and Production Tax Credit (“PTC”), extended in December 2015, remain an important component of the levelized cost of renewable energy generation technologies

    Variations in fuel prices can materially affect the LCOE of conventional generation technologies, but direct comparisons to “competing” renewable energy generation technologies must take into account issues such as dispatch characteristics (e.g., baseload and/or dispatchable intermediate capacity vs. those of peaking or intermittent technologies)

    A key consideration in determining the LCOE values for utility-scale generation technologies is the cost, and availability, of capital(1) ; this dynamic is particularly significant for renewable energy generation technologies

    Certain renewable energy generation technologies are approaching an LCOE that is competitive with the marginal cost of existing conventional generation

    Lazard’s unsubsidized LCOE analysis indicates significant historical cost declines for utility-scale renewable energy generation technologies driven by, among other factors, decreasing capital costs, improving technologies and increased competition

    In light of material declines in the pricing of system components and improvements in efficiency, among other factors, wind and utility-scale solar PV have exhibited dramatic LCOE declines; however, as these industries mature, the rates of decline have diminished

    Solar PV and wind have become increasingly competitive with conventional technologies with similar generation profiles; without storage, however, these resources lack the dispatch characteristics, and associated benefits, of such conventional technologies

    In some instances, the capital costs of renewable energy generation technologies have converged with those of certain conventional generation technologies, which coupled with improvements in operational efficiency for renewable energy technologies, have led to a convergence in LCOE between the respective technologies

    Certain renewable energy generation technologies are already cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies; a key factor regarding the continued cost decline of renewable energy generation technologies is the ability of technological development and industry scale to continue lowering operating expenses and capital costs for renewable energy generation technologies

    Certain renewable energy generation technologies are already cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies; a key factor regarding the continued cost decline of renewable energy generation technologies is the ability of technological development and industry scale to continue lowering operating expenses and capital costs for renewable energy generation technologies

    Lazard’s LCOE analysis consists of creating a power plant model representing an illustrative project for each relevant technology and solving for the $/MWh value that results in a levered IRR equal to the assumed cost of equity (see subsequent “Key Assumptions” pages for detailed assumptions by technology)

    Despite convergence in the LCOE between certain renewable energy and conventional generation technologies, direct comparisons must take into account issues such as location (e.g., centralized vs. distributed) and dispatch characteristics (e.g., baseload and/or dispatchable intermediate capacity vs. those of peaking or intermittent technologies)

    As policymakers consider ways to limit carbon emissions, Lazard’s LCOE analysis provides insight into the economic value associated with carbon abatement offered by renewable energy technologies. This analysis suggests that policies designed to shift power generation towards wind and utility-scale solar could be a particularly cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions, providing an abatement value of $36 – $41/Ton vs. Coal and $23 – $32/Ton vs. Gas Combined Cycle

    Summary Considerations

    Lazard has conducted this analysis comparing the LCOE for various conventional and renewable energy generation technologies in order to understand which renewable energy generation technologies may be cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, either now or in the future, and under various operating assumptions. We find that renewable energy technologies are complementary to conventional generation technologies, and believe that their use will be increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons, including to mitigate the environmental and social consequences of various conventional generation technologies, RPS requirements, carbon regulations, continually improving economics as underlying technologies improve and production volumes increase, and supportive regulatory frameworks in certain regions.

    In this analysis, Lazard’s approach was to determine the LCOE, on a $/MWh basis, that would provide an after-tax IRR to equity holders equal to an assumed cost of equity capital. Certain assumptions (e.g., required debt and equity returns, capital structure, etc.) were identical for all technologies in order to isolate the effects of key differentiated inputs such as investment costs, capacity factors, operating costs, fuel costs (where relevant) and other important metrics. These inputs were originally developed with a leading consulting and engineering firm to the Power & Energy Industry, augmented with Lazard’s commercial knowledge where relevant. This analysis (as well as previous versions) has benefited from additional input from a wide variety of Industry participants and is informed by Lazard’s many client interactions on this topic.

    Lazard has not manipulated the cost of capital or capital structure for various technologies, as the goal of this analysis is to compare the current levelized cost of various generation technologies, rather than the benefits of financial engineering. The results contained herein would be altered by different assumptions regarding capital structure (e.g., increased use of leverage) or the cost of capital (e.g., a willingness to accept lower returns than those assumed herein).

    Key sensitivities examined included fuel costs and tax subsidies. Other factors would also have a potentially significant effect on the results contained herein, but have not been examined in the scope of this current analysis. These additional factors, among others, could include: capacity value vs. energy value; network upgrades, transmission, congestion or other integration-related costs; significant permitting or other development costs, unless otherwise noted; and costs of complying with various environmental regulations (e.g., carbon emissions offsets or emissions control systems). This analysis also does not address potential social and environmental externalities, including, for example, the social costs and rate consequences for those who cannot afford distributed generation solutions, as well as the long-term residual and societal consequences of various conventional generation technologies that are difficult to measure (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, airborne pollutants, greenhouse gases, etc.).

    Saturday, January 11, 2020

    Australia On Fire

    The climate crisis wins the Golden Globe for horror and devastation. From Inside Edition via YouTube

    Trevor Noah On The Climate Crisis

    The message: Change or get used to the unimaginable. From Comedy Central

    Tesla’s Battery Is Driving (The Market)

    Price down, range up. Investors are getting on board. Next – scale. Maybe by the end of Q1 2020. From Hyperchange via YouTube

    Friday, January 10, 2020

    The Everyday, Everywhere Climate Crisis

    The Climate Crisis Is Now Detectable in Every Single Day of Weather Across The Planet

    Carly Cassella, 7 January 2020 (ScienceAlert)

    “…[The ‘fingerprint’ of climate change can be identified by researchers in] every single day of weather in the global record since 2012…[W]eather on a local scale still doesn't show a climate change signal. But if you roll these regions out into a global perspective, the variations in temperature and humidity do hold the stamp of humanity. And they are clearly distinguishable from what would happen naturally…[Researchers used] machine learning along with climate models and data and] found daily mean weather values from 1951 to 1980 barely matched up with those from 2009 to 2018…

    …[A] stamp of climate change on global weather went back to 1999. And from 2012, it could be seen every single day. And the signal of climate change is now so big it's greater than global daily weather variability…[These] findings suggest climate change is more deeply rooted than we thought, but if we can figure out how to link long-term trends with short-term weather events, it could help us prepare for the worst…” click here for more

    Taking 100% New Energy Around The World

    The Global Price Tag for 100 Percent Renewable Energy: $73 Trillion

    December 20, 2019 (Yale Climate 360)

    “A global effort to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 would cost nations $73 trillion upfront — but the expense will pay for itself in under seven years…[The] shift to a zero-carbon global economy would create 28.6 million more full-time jobs than if nations continue their current reliance on fossil fuels...[The Stanford University report] presents detailed roadmaps for how 143 countries that account for 99.7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions could [technically and logistically feasibly transition to 80 percent of their energy needs from wind, hydroelectricity, and solar by 2030 and 100 percent] by 2050…The roadmaps call for increased energy efficiency and the electrification of all energy sectors, including transportation, buildings, heating and cooling, industrial processes, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and the military...

    The analysis excludes nuclear power, biofuels, and clean coal…New renewable energy infrastructure would require just 0.17 percent of the 143 countries’ total land area, as well as 0.48 percent of land for ‘spacing purposes,’ such as the area between turbines…In the U.S., reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 will require an investment of $7.8 trillion…[It] would create 3.1 million more jobs than if the U.S. stayed on a business-as-usual trajectory, and would save 63,000 lives from air pollution every year…[It] would also reduce energy costs by $1.3 trillion per year, because renewable energy is cheaper to generate over time than fossil fuels…[and] cut health and climate costs by $700 billion and $3.1 trillion annually…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 08, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Hollywood’s Virtual Power Plant

    Hollywood's next star could be virtual power plants as LADWP closes out natural gas; Sunrun's 295 MW residential solar-storage VPP proposal for Los Angeles could be proof-of-concept

    Herman K. Trabish | Aug. 13, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Proposals for solar+storage projects to take over from conventional power plants continue to emerge from New England to Southern California and Hawaii.

    With rising penetrations of variable renewables and customer adoption of distributed energy resources (DER), electricity providers' attention is shifting to distribution systems. Better distribution system control capabilities are being developed to meet power flow challenges. Switches, sensors and software are allowing power providers to use aggregated residential DER systems like small virtual power plants (VPPs) that can balance renewable generation variability and supply grid services.

    Utilities are modernizing distribution systems with hardware and software that turn the challenges of changing power flows into opportunities. But DER management systems (DERMS) and advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) come with price tags. The VPP, an aggregation of optimized distributed resources that provide the same services as a traditional power plant VPP, proposed for the aging Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) system that serves Hollywood and much of the city, may soon become the first full-scale test of the VPP value proposition.

    To manage more unpredictable distribution system supply-demand dynamics, electricity providers have increased emphasis on demand side management. With software and automation, VPPs expand DER functions on the distribution system, and deliver the same services (and more) as a traditional power plant without concerns about land use, air emissions and waste management. They also harvest the value of all customers' flexible loads for peak load relief… click here for more

    The Severest Cut Of The Climate Crisis

    The Concession to Climate Change I Will Not Make; I’ve never thought we should stop having children. But I will have to teach our son to wonder at the world before he learns to fear for it.

    Jedediah Britton-Purdy, January 6, 2020 (The Atlantic)

    This is beautiful essay, briefed here for the internet sensibility, should be read in full.

    Our first child was born at the end of August. I am not a young parent; I was born in 1974, and in the span of this one generation, global carbon levels rose by nearly twice as much as in all of human history before…As an American, he can expect to emit 16 metric tons of carbon a year, compared with five for a French newborn and about two for a baby in India or Indonesia. Unless he’s a saintly hermit, he’ll have little personal choice about that carbon load. Most of it is dictated by the roads, engines, and sources of energy that will keep him cool or warm, provide his food, and move him around. He can’t opt out of these systems without opting out of human life as we live it now…[But] I will need a way to explain that climate change is destroying habitats, acidifying the oceans, and making large parts of the planet’s land uninhabitable for people…

    …[Though a professor of environmental law,] I have never been tempted to think we should all stop having children…[but] I ask myself every day is how to explain [the coming] suffering world to a newcomer… I think about trying to teach him love and wonder first, before he inevitably learns fear…When the thought of climate doom arrives, I hope it will arrive in a mind already prepared by curiosity and pleasure to know why this world is worth fighting to preserve…Love for half-broken things and places is what he will have to practice, like all of us…[But] most human lives have begun under threat, from war, exploitation, disease, starvation, or storm and drought. Our moment is radically exceptional in that a few hundred million people have been able to imagine real safety as the normal background of human life…[T]o preserve and extend it, we have to be willing to go on without its assurance. The only alternative to giving up on humanity is to have children whom we cannot keep as safe as we would wish…” click here for more

    Monday, January 06, 2020

    MONDAY’S STUDY: Big Solar Right Now

    Utility-Scale Solar; Empirical Trends in Project Technology, Cost, Performance, and PPA Pricing in the United States – 2019 Edition

    Mark Bolinger, Joachim Seel, Dana Robson, January 2020 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    The utility-scale solar sector—defined here to include any ground-mounted photovoltaic (“PV”), concentrating photovoltaic (“CPV”), or concentrating solar-thermal power (“CSP”) project that is larger than 5 MWAC in capacity—has led the overall U.S. solar market in terms of installed capacity since 2012. In 2018, the utility-scale sector accounted for nearly 60% of all new solar capacity, and is expected to maintain its market-leading position for at least another five years, driven in part by favorable Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) “safe harbor” guidance that enables projects that start construction in 2019 to qualify for the 30% federal investment tax credit (“ITC”) if they achieve commercial operations prior to 2024. With four new states—Washington, Wyoming, Vermont, and Connecticut—having added their first utility-scale solar project in 2018, three quarters of all states, representing all regions of the country, are now home to one or more utility-scale solar projects. This ongoing solar boom makes it challenging—yet more important than ever—to stay abreast of the latest utility-scale market developments and trends.

    This report—the seventh edition in an ongoing annual series—is intended to help meet this need, by providing in-depth, annually updated, data-driven analysis of the utility-scale solar project fleet in the United States. Drawing on empirical project-level data from a wide range of sources, this report analyzes not just installed project prices—i.e., the traditional realm of most solar economic analyses—but also technology trends, operating costs, capacity factors, power purchase agreement (“PPA”) prices, levelized cost of energy (“LCOE”), curtailment, and market value from a large sample of utility-scale solar projects throughout the United States. The report also includes data and observations about completed or recently announced solar+storage projects. Given its current dominance in the market, utility-scale PV also dominates much of this report, though data from CPV and CSP projects are also presented where appropriate.

    Some of the more-notable findings from this year’s edition include the following:

    • Installation and Technology Trends: Among the total population of utility-scale PV projects from which data samples are drawn—i.e., 690 projects totaling 24,586 MWAC—several trends are worth noting due to their influence on (or perhaps reflection of) the cost, performance, and PPA price data analyzed later. For example, the use of solar trackers (all single-axis, east-west tracking) dominated 2018 installations, with nearly 70% of all new capacity. Fixed-tilt projects are increasingly only built in less-sunny regions, while tracking projects continue to push into these same regions. After declining for five consecutive years—a reflection of the geographic shift in the market from the high-insolation Southwest to other less-sunny regions—the median long-term average insolation at newly built project sites stabilized in 2018. Meanwhile, the median inverter loading ratio (“ILR”)—i.e., the ratio of a project’s DC module array nameplate rating to its AC inverter nameplate rating—has grown steadily since 2014, to 1.33 in 2018 for both tracking and fixed-tilt projects, allowing the inverters to operate closer to (or at) full capacity for more of the day. In 2018, seven utility-scale PV+battery projects came online.

    • Installed Prices: Median installed PV project prices within an overall sample of 641 projects totaling 22,886 MWAC have steadily fallen by two-thirds since the 2007-2009 period, to $1.6/WAC among 60 projects completed in 2018 and totaling 2,499 MWAC. The lowest 20th percentile of projects within this 2018 sample were priced at or below $1.3/WAC, with the lowest-priced projects around $1.0/WAC. Those 2018 projects that use single-axis trackers exhibited no upfront cost premium (and even slightly lower prices) compared to fixed-tilt installations. Overall price dispersion across the entire sample has decreased steadily every year since 2013.

    • Operation and Maintenance (“O&M”) Costs: What limited empirical O&M cost data are publicly available suggest that PV O&M costs were in the neighborhood of $19/kWAC-year, or $11/MWh, in 2018. These numbers—from a limited sample of 48 projects totaling 919 MWAC—include only those costs incurred to directly operate and maintain the generating plant, and should not be confused with total operating expenses, which would also include property taxes, insurance, land royalties, performance bonds, various administrative and other fees, and overhead.

    • Capacity Factors: The cumulative net AC capacity factors of individual projects in a sample of 550 PV projects totaling 20,024 MWAC range widely, from 12.1% to 34.8%, with a sample median of 25.2% and a capacity-weighted average of 27.0%.1 This project-level variation is based on a number of variables, including the strength of the solar resource at the project site, whether the array is mounted at a fixed tilt or on a tracking mechanism, the ILR, degradation, and curtailment. Changes in at least the first three of these factors drove mean capacity factors higher from 2010-vintage (at 21.7%) to 2013-vintage (at 26.7%) projects. Among more-recent project vintages, however, mean capacity factors have remained stagnant or even declined, as a build-out of lower-resource sites has offset an increase in the prevalence of tracking (while the ILR has changed little).

    • PPA Prices and LCOE: Driven by lower installed project prices and, at least through 2013, improving capacity factors, levelized PPA prices for utility-scale PV have fallen dramatically over time, by $20-$30/MWh per year on average from 2006 through 2012, with a smaller price decline of ~$10/MWh per year evident in most years since 2013. Aided by the 30% ITC, most recent PPAs in our sample—including many outside of California and the Southwest—are priced below $40/MWh levelized (in real 2018 dollars), with many priced below $30/MWh and a few even priced below $20/MWh. Despite these low PPA prices, solar continues to face stiff competition from both wind and natural gas. Excluding the benefit of the 30% ITC, the median LCOE among operational PV projects in our sample stood at $53.8/MWh in 2018 (with a range from $33.8/MWh to $112.8/MWh), and has followed PPA prices lower over time, suggesting a relatively competitive market for PPAs.

    • Solar’s Wholesale Market Value: Falling PPA prices have been matched to some degree by a decline in the wholesale market value of solar (energy + capacity) within higher-penetration solar markets like California. Due to an abundance of solar energy pushing down mid-day wholesale power prices, solar generation in California earned just 79% of the average energy and capacity price within CAISO’s wholesale market in 2018 (down from 146% back in 2012). In five of the six other ISO markets analyzed, however, solarstill provides above-average value (the exception being ISO-NE, at 89% of average wholesale market value in 2018). In CAISO, falling solar PPA prices have largely kept pace with solar’s declining market value over time, thereby maintaining solar’s competitiveness. In all other ISOs, solar offers higher value yet, in some cases, similar or even lower PPA prices than in California, which may be one reason why the market has been shifting away from California and into other regions.

    • Solar+Storage: Adding battery storage is one way to increase the value of solar, and a proliferation of PV plus storage PPAs and project announcements over the past few years has provided a critical mass of concrete data for us to begin tracking. Data from 38 completed or announced PV hybrid projects totaling 4.3 GWAC of PV and 2.6 GWAC of battery capacity (and with storage duration ranging from 2-5 hours, with 4 hours being by far the most common) suggests that sizing of the battery capacity relative to the PV capacity varies widely, depending on the application and specific situation. Moreover, the size of the incremental PPA price adder for 4-hour storage varies linearly with this ratio, ranging from ~$5/MWh for batteries sized at 25% of PV capacity up to $15/MWh for batteries sized at 75% of PV capacity. There are a variety of ways in which storage is compensated within these PPAs, some of which are rather creative (see the discussion following Table 3 in Section 2.5). As PV plus battery storage becomes more cost-effective, many developers are now regularly offering it as an upgrade to standalone PV.

    • CSP: No new utility-scale CSP projects have come online in the United States since 2015, and no CSP plants are currently under construction or in late-stage development. As such, the only new CSP data reported in this 2019 edition relates to the capacity factors of existing CSP plants. On that front, two recent trough projects without storage have largely matched ex-ante capacity factor expectations, while two power tower projects and a third trough project with storage continue to underperform relative to projected long-term, steady-state levels. Further details are provided in Chapter 3.

    Looking ahead, the amount of utility-scale solar capacity in the development pipeline suggests continued momentum and a significant expansion of the industry in future years. At the end of 2018, there were at least 284 GW of utility-scale solar power capacity within the interconnection queues across the nation, 133 GW of which first entered the queues in 2018 (with 36 GW of this 133 GW including batteries). The growth within these queues is widely distributed across all regions of the country, and is most pronounced in the up-and-coming Midwest region, which accounts for 26% of the 133 GW, followed by the Southwest (21%), Southeast and Northeast (each with 15%), California (10%), Texas (9%), and the Northwest (5%). Though not all of these projects will ultimately be built as planned, the ongoing influx and widening geographic distribution of solar projects within these queues is as clear of a sign as any that the utility-scale market is maturing and expanding outside of its traditional high-insolation comfort zones.

    Finally, we’ve set up several data visualizations that are housed on the home page for this report: https://utilityscalesolar.lbl.gov. There you can also find an Excel workbook that features the underlying data for each of the report’s figures, a slide deck, and a post-release webinar recording…

    Conclusions and Future Outlook

    This seventh edition of LBNL’s annual Utility-Scale Solar series paints a picture of an increasingly competitive utility-scale PV sector, with installed prices having declined significantly over the past decade, enabling record-low PPA prices of under $20/MWh (levelized, in real 2018 dollars) in a few cases and under $30/MWh on average—even in areas outside of the traditional strongholds of California and the Southwest. Meanwhile, the other principal utility-scale solar technology, CSP, has also made strides in the last decade—e.g., deploying several large projects featuring new trough and power tower technologies and demonstrating thermal storage capabilities—but has struggled to meet performance expectations in some cases, and is otherwise finding it difficult to compete in the United States with increasingly low-cost PV. As a result, there were no new CSP projects either online or under construction in 2018, and one existing project had its PPA cancelled due to underperformance.

    Looking ahead, analyst projections, as well as data on the amount of utility-scale solar capacity in the development pipeline, suggest a significant expansion of the industry in the coming years—in terms of both volume and geographic distribution. For example, Figure 37 and Figure 38 show the amount of solar power (and, in Figure 37, other resources) working its way through 37 different interconnection queues administered by independent system operators (“ISOs”), regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”), and utilities across the country as of the end of 2018. 71 Although placing a project in the interconnection queue is a necessary step in project development, being in the queue does not guarantee that a project will actually be built72—as a result, these data should be interpreted with caution. That said, efforts have been made by the FERC, ISOs, RTOs, and utilities to reduce the number of speculative projects that have, in previous years, clogged these queues, and despite its inherent imperfections, the amount of solar capacity in the nation’s interconnection queues still provides at least some indication of the amount of planned development.

    At the end of 2018, there were 284 GW of solar power capacity (of any type—e.g., PV, CPV, or CSP) within the interconnection queues reviewed for this report—more than ten times the installed utility-scale solar power capacity in our entire project population at that time. These 284 GW—133 GW of which first entered the queues in 2018—represented 44% of all generating capacity within these selected queues, opening up solar’s lead on both wind power at 36% and natural gas at 13% (see Figure 37). The end-of-2018 solar total is also 95 GW higher than the 189 GW of solar that were in the queues at the end of 2017, demonstrating that the solar pipeline was more than replenished in 2018, despite the 4 GWAC of new solar capacity that came online (and therefore exited these queues) in 2018. Finally, this year we’ve also tallied the amount of solar (and other resources) in the queues that is paired with battery storage as a hybrid project; as indicated by the hatched area in Figure 37, solar leads the pack with 55 GW of PV hybrid capacity (compared to just 5 GW of wind hybrid capacity).73 Standalone storage capacity has also continued to grow in the queues, to 28 GW at the end of 2018.

    Figure 38 breaks out the solar (and PV hybrid) capacity by state or region, to provide a sense of where in the United States this pipeline resides (as well as how that composition has changed going back to 2014). As shown, solar capacity in the queues is now much more evenly distributed across the country than it was just three years ago. For example, at the end of 2015, 42% of all solar capacity in the queues was located in California, compared to just 16% at the end of 2018. Moreover, 2018 was the first year in which California (with 44 GW) did not lead the country in terms of solar capacity in the queues, having been supplanted by the meteoric rise of the Midwest (64 GW), while also falling behind the Southwest (54 GW). Meanwhile, the Southeast, Texas, and the Northeast were all essentially tied at ~36 GW. This notable expansion of utility-scale solar development to regions beyond California and the Southwest is indicative of a maturing market that is capitalizing on solar’s increasing competitiveness across the country.

    As with Figure 37, the hatched portion of each column in Figure 38 shows the amount of solar capacity that is paired with a storage as a hybrid project. More than 75% of the 55 GW of PV hybrid capacity in the queues at the end of 2018 is in the Southwest (49%) and California (26%)— two high-penetration regions that are grappling with “duck curve” issues that can be at least partly alleviated by storage.74

    Though not all of these 284 GW of planned solar and PV hybrid projects represented in Figure 37 and Figure 38 will ultimately be built, Figure 1 at the start of this report showed that analysts do expect historically strong deployment of roughly 11 GW per year of utility-scale solar through at least 2024, driven in part by ongoing access to the 30% ITC through 2023 (as a result of favorable “safe harbor” guidance from the IRS), coupled with utility-scale PV’s declining costs. Of course, accompanying all of this new solar capacity will be substantial amounts of new cost, price, and performance data, which we plan to collect and analyze in future editions of this report.

    Saturday, January 04, 2020

    The Most Important Statement Of 2019

    It's easy to shrug cynically and do nothing. What's hard is to decide to act. But it's time to choose: The hard way into the fight or the easy way out? FridaysForFuture.org From E.T. Rouleau via YouTube

    Lil Dicky And Friends Sing “Earth”

    All the vulgarity, hilarity, and absurdity of the past decade in one animated song. (Rating: Hard R) From Lil Dicky via YouTube

    This Is A New Energy Moment

    In every crisis is an opportunity and in the climate crisis is a magnificent opportunity for economic renewal. From CBS This Morning via YouTube

    Friday, January 03, 2020

    The Climate Crisis In The 2010s Summarized

    The climate crisis explained, in 7 numbers

    Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, Lydia O’Connor, January 2, 2020 (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

    “…In the past decade, the climate crisis, and its fatal consequences, deepened further…[These seven figures] show just how dire the climate situation grew…1-The past five years were the hottest ever recorded on the planet…[2014 through 2018] had record-breaking temperatures…[More than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change in the decades to come…2-Four of the five largest wildfires in California history happened this decade…3-Six Category 5 hurricanes tore through the Atlantic region in the past four years…

    4-Arctic sea ice cover dropped about 13 percent…5-Floods with a 0.1 percent chance of happening in any given year became a frequent occurrence…6-There were more than 100 climate disasters in the billion-dollar category, double that of the decade before…[And, 7-Global carbon emissions quadrupled since 1960… reached a record high in 2018…[and set a new record in 2019 with] more than 40.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide…The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last fall that humanity has just under a decade to get climate change under control…” click here for more

    New Energy Taking Over

    New U.S. EIA And FERC Reports Indicate Renewables On Track To Lead New Generating Capacity In 2019…

    Ken Bossong, December 30, 2019 (SUN DAY Campaign)

    “..[Data for the first ten months of 2019 shows New Energy] (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) is on track to place first [for the year] in the race for new U.S. electrical generating capacity added…[Through October 31, 2019, natural gas holds a diminishing lead] with 49.67% of all new generating capacity compared to 48.45% for the mix of renewables (i.e., wind - 28.55%, solar - 18.59%, hydropower - 0.83%, biomass - 0.41%, geothermal - 0.06%)…

    …[According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the] balance of new capacity added includes nuclear power (0.99%), oil (0.49%), coal (0.39%), and "other" (0.01%)…[But in] October, gas added just 1-MW of new capacity while the mix of renewables added 721-MW. New renewables capacity - mostly wind and solar - also exceeded that of gas in July, August, and September…[And, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an additional 7.2 GW of new wind capacity was expected] in December 2019…

    …[That is] roughly equal to the total of new gas capacity (7.8 GW) brought on-line in the ten months since the beginning of the year…[S]olar-generated electricity in October 2019 was 21.65% higher than in October 2018 while YTD, solar's electrical output was 14.59% higher than for the same time-frame a year earlier. Small-scale solar photovoltaics (e.g., rooftop solar systems) alone grew by 19.22% YTD…[Natural gas grew] just 6.71%. Nuclear power grew by a mere 0.08% while coal-generated electricity plunged by 14.46%...” click here for more