NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2020 - 05/01/2020

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

  • Weekend Video: Their Last Debate
  • Weekend Video: November 3: A Day Of Reckoning
  • Weekend Video: The Young Woman Who Spoke Out
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Beats The Recession And The Climate Crisis
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Brain Trust To Accelerate The New Energy Transition
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY,:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: Watching Utility Spending
  • TTTA Wednesday-Slow Transition To New Energy Threatens Music City
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • MONDAY STUDY: How To Spend $100 Billion On New Energy
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Solar Is The Lowest-Cost Electricity
  • Weekend Video: Another Big Oil Rape Of The Land
  • Weekend Video: The Climate Crisis On ‘60 Minutes’
  • --------------------------

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

    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.

  • ---------------
  • MONDAY’S STUDY AT NewEnergyNews, October 26:
  • LNG Gets Sick From The Virus

    Wednesday, April 29, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: When AI Will Turn On The Lights

    How does AI improve grid performance? No one fully understands and that's limiting its use; "For 75% of what utilities are doing, outside of maybe forecasting or managing capacity, AI is at the infancy stage and there is no real use case."

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 14, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: There are important things done in power system operations with data analytics and automated response, but they don’t rise to the level of real artificial intelligence and here’s why.

    Just as power system operators are mastering data analytics to optimize hardware efficiencies, they are discovering how the complexities of artificial intelligence tools can do far more, and how to choose which to use.

    With deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart sensor-equipped hardware, system operators are capturing unprecedented levels of data. Cloud computing and massive computational capabilities are allowing data analytics to make these investments pay off for customers. But it may take machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to address new power grid complexities.

    AI is a form of computer science that would make power system management fully autonomous in real time, researchers and private sector providers of power system services told Utility Dive. ML is a part of AI that passes human-supervised data analytics through preset or learned rules about the system to inform AI of normal and abnormal operational conditions.

    "Knowing when to use data analytics and when to use machine learning and AI are the fundamental questions utilities are asking," GE Digital VP for Data and Analytics Matt Schnugg told Utility Dive. Continuing to use an approach "that has been good enough for years" has merit, but new tools and capabilities may justify "turning to data scientists and cloud computing" and there are "parameters" for knowing how to choose between them.

    The sheer volume of data is beginning to exceed human capabilities, but system operators often don't have the technology to deploy demonstrated AI and ML solutions for power flow management, researchers told Utility Dive. The mathematics of solutions are not yet fully understood, they acknowledged. The next big question may be whether system operators will risk ML and AI for results humans cannot yet provide or understand.

    The value of putting power system data to work is increasingly evident. It has saved system operators time and customers money. And it is providing predictive infrastructure maintenance, which can reduce the growing frequency and duration of service interruptions and help avoid major unintended cascading blackouts… click here for more

    Newest Work To Advance Solar Policy

    The 50 States of Solar: State Lawmakers Focus on Expanding Solar Options During Q1 2020

    April 22, 2020 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…The NCCETC Q1 2020 edition of The 50 States of Solar reported] 43 states, plus the District of Columbia took some type of distributed solar policy action during Q1 2020…[The greatest number of actions again addressed] net metering policies, residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases, and community solar policies. A total of 155 distributed solar policy actions were taken during Q1 2020…[The top three trends in solar policy activity were] (1) proposed legislation focusing on expansion of distribution solar options, (2) states blocking additional fees for distributed generation customers, and (3) states opting for slower, study-based approaches to net metering successor tariff development…

    [The report’s] top five distributed solar policy actions of Q1 2020…[were] Iowa lawmakers enacting net metering compromise legislation…Rocky Mountain Power filing its net billing export credit proposal in Utah…The Kansas Supreme Court overruling Evergy’s mandatory residential DG demand charge…Virginia legislators passing an array of distributed solar bills; and…The California Public Utilities Commission rejecting utilities’ fixed charge proposals…” click here for more

    Monday, April 27, 2020

    MONDAY’S STUDY: A Community’s Energy

    Community Choice Energy; An alternative to electric monopolies enables communities to center people and planet

    John Farrell, February 20, 2020 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    Executive Summary

    More communities than ever want to exercise control over their energy systems. In 2016, Americans collectively spent $360 billion buying electricity. Most of the revenue accrued to the benefit of increasingly-large, investor-owned utilities. Inspired by the individuals who put solar on their roofs, cities, counties, and states want the option to take charge and more widely share the financial and economic benefits of the clean energy transition. It’s why an increasing number of states have allowed community choice energy.

    A Growing Power

    Enabled by law in nine states, numerous cities are exercising their right to purchase energy on behalf of millions of electricity customers. Community choice simplifies the more widely available tool of a utility takeover by allowing communities to make energy supply decisions without buying the poles and wires of the existing electric utility. The following chart illustrates the market share of community choice programs by state (New Hampshire is not shown, since its policy was adopted in July 2019).

    In three states, in particular, community choice is growing rapidly. In California, for example, the share of sales to electricity customers rose from 5 percent to 18 percent in the last year alone. In New York, nearly fifty municipalities have joined community choice programs in the past year. In Massachusetts, 150 communities have joined since 2015.

    Going Deeper

    While many community choice programs have modest ambitions to lower energy costs through economies of scale, a growing number of programs have expanded their scope to include:

    Facilitating ambitious energy efficiency programs

    Accelerating adoption of renewable energy Investing in local renewable energy projects

    Prioritizing local economic development Incorporating more community governance

    Integrating with city energy, economic development, and environmental planning

    Helping low-income residents access economic opportunities

    For example, the following chart shows that many community choice programs offer 100% renewable electricity by default or as an option.

    California Exceptionalism

    In no state have community choice programs shown more ambition than in California, a complement to their rapid and expansive growth. This report explores several factors leading to California’s exceptional choice agencies and several ways they continue to push the limits of public power, including:

    Struggling with incumbent monopoly utilities at the legislature, the regulatory commission, and on the ballot for the right to community choice.

    Building larger aggregations of communities than in most other states, and then banding together in a statewide trade organization.

    Signing long-term contracts enabling the construction of new renewable energy resources.

    Advancing planning and energy management by integrating with city zoning, permitting, and other local authority.

    Sparking a regulatory revolution to accommodate the likely shift of a majority of electric customers to community choice by the end of 2020…

    Conclusion

    Community choice can accommodate the growing public demand for energy democracy. Already, nine states enable community choice. Already, several hundred communities enjoy its benefits.

    Part of its power is in its evolution. Initially driven by a desire to lower energy costs by providing communities market power, communities have realized that ownership over their energy system unlocks much more than purchasing power. Community choice agencies have accelerated development of renewable energy, integrated its purchase with local jobs and economic development, leveraged their power to pursue ambitious climate goals, and more fully cemented the power of cities to manage wide swaths of the local economy in the pursuit of sustainable economic development.

    The power of the public can’t be understated. Community choice mimics the buying power of private companies like Costco or consumer preferences like organic food. But by centering the power of energy decision making in cities, community choice allows energy system planning to integrate with community planning, economic development, housing, and (electric) transportation. In short, it enables energy democracy.

    The hunger for public power and economic democracy is growing, and community choice allows communities to tap their strength in managing the energy system for the benefit of all…

    Saturday, April 25, 2020

    Top Economist Talks Green New Deal Politics

    There are ways to make it popular and ways to make it like spinach. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    Wind Keeps Innovating And Growing

    Making wind turbines more powerful and more cost-effective is making the energy transition real. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

    The Climate Crisis Is A “Slow” Pandemic

    The parallels are “impossible to ignore” and the pandemic has invaluable lessons to teach about the “brutality” that is coming. From via YouTube

    Friday, April 24, 2020

    Three EU Countries Have Closed Out Coal

    Sweden becomes the third European country to close its last coal power plant

    Michelle Lewis, Apr. 22, 2020 (Electrek)

    Just days after Austria shut its last coal power plant, Sweden has followed suit…Belgium shut down its last coal power station in 2016…[Sweden’s] mild winter has meant that that reserve has not had to be used, and now it is closed down for good…[The goal is to transition to] renewable or recycled energy…[Sweden expects] emissions will be reduced by about half…With Sweden going coal free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear…[Against the backdrop of the [today’s] serious health challenges, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is expected to lead to] improved health, climate protection, and more resilient economies…

    According to Europe Beyond Coal, six more countries are expected to follow suit by 2025 or earlier, including France (2022), Slovakia and Portugal (2023), the UK (2024), Ireland (2025), and Italy (2025)…Five more will drop coal by 2030 or earlier, which is the necessary end date for coal generation in Europe for the continent to be in line with the Paris Agreement. This includes Greece (2028), the Netherlands and Finland (2029), and Hungary and Denmark (2030)…Discussions are currently under way in the Czech Republic, Spain, and North Macedonia over when to exit coal…Germany intends to exit coal by 2038…” click here for more

    Over Half Of Norway’s 2019 New Car Buys Were EVs

    Norway and the A-ha moment that made electric cars the answer; A country fuelled by hydropower has become the world’s electric vehicle leader

    Jon Henley and Elisabeth Ulven, 19 April 2020 (UK Guardian)

    “…In 1995, the lead singer of the 1980s band A-ha and the head of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona climbed improbably into a converted electric Fiat Panda they had imported from Switzerland and set off on a road trip…Last month, in an economy hit by the coronavirus crisis, fully electric cars accounted for just under 60% of Norway’s new car market, and plug-in hybrids just over 15% – meaning three in four of all new cars sold were either wholly or partly electric…[T]he country looks on course to meet a government target – set in 2016, with full cross-party parliamentary support – of phasing out the sale of all new fossil-fuel based cars and light commercial vehicles by 2025…

    …The story of how and why that has happened has a straightforward, if unexpected logic. First, despite being a major oil and gas producer, almost all of Norway’s domestic energy comes from a single, and renewable, source: hydropower…That means switching to EVs is a much greener option for Norway than for countries whose power is generated mostly by coal plants…Driven by the environmental imperative, the government began offering incentives to buy and run electric cars as far back as 1990…[giving EVs] a very powerful financial argument…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 22, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: AI And Cyberattacks On The Power System

    In the 'cat and mouse game' of utility cyberattacks, AI and machine learning show promise, limits; "There is so much low hanging fruit in utility system challenges that can be addressed by advanced data analytic strategies that AI and machine learning are not the place to start."

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 7, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Tomorrow’s AI is the sexy answer but today’s technologies are the real answer.

    If somebody hacked communications to grid-connected devices and interrupted a demand response (DR) event, peak demand might not be cut, capacity prices could spike and that somebody could make a lot of money.

    Because of the fast-rising number of grid-connected devices in DR programs like smart thermostats and water heaters and the even faster-rising number of smart phones and other Internet technologies through which customers communicate with DR programs, market manipulations like that are possible, cybersecurity experts from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) told the Demand Response World Forum October 17. It is one of many potential intrusions of communications between utilities and customers with grid connected devices and distributed energy resources (DER), they said.

    To counter these threats, data analytics experts are using the laws of physics and unprecedented masses of data to find cybersecurity breaches. And their work is leading to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms which, though only just beginning to find actual deployment, are expected to soon advance the ability to identify patterns to the intrusions and raise the level of protection for critical power systems.

    Collaborations between utilities and researchers at U.S. national labs are revealing new protections but also new challenges to secure data management that must be addressed. ML and AI can help utilities protect themselves and their customers from cyberattacks, but only if utilities can allow these new allies access to the data and systems that need protection.

    Connected devices. exceeded the world's 7.3 billion population in 2014, EPRI Senior Program Manager Rish Ghatikar told the DR conference. At the 31.7% growth rate of U.S. connected homes reported by McKinsey for 2017, there were "over 1 billion connected home devices" in the U.S. by the end of 2018, he estimated. Each of those homes could have as many as 10 grid-connected devices, ranging from laptops and wireless modems to smart thermostats and smart inverter-based solar plus storage systems.

    Businesses' internet-connected technology may be even more under assault, he added. In the first half of 2019, almost 38% of computers used in smart building systems were affected by cyberattacks, Navigant Research reported October 28. EPRI is developing a framework to identify cybersecurity assets, threats, key players, and architectures on which researchers, utilities and device vendors can focus to find solutions, EPRI Engineer Scientist Alekhya Vaddiraj told the conference… click here for more

    U.S. Wind’s Big 2019

    Wind Powers America Annual Report; Annual market report shows wind industry topped 100 GW, employed 120,000 Americans, invested $14 billion in new projects, and provided $1.6 billion in local payments to communities and landowners last year.

    April 16, 2020 (American Wind Energy Association)

    Wind power emerged from 2019 as America’s top choice for new power after building 9.1 gigawatts (GW), representing 39 percent of new utility-scale power additions. With these additions, operating wind power capacity in the U.S. now stands at over 105 GW, enough to power 32 million American homes. In addition, wind energy is now the largest provider of renewable energy in the country, supplying over 7 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2019. The newly released Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019 reveals that U.S. wind energy supports a record 120,000 American jobs, 530 domestic factories, and $1.6 billion a year in revenue for states and communities that host wind farms…

    …The U.S. wind industry experienced its third strongest year on record in 2019, as project developers invested nearly $14 billion in new wind projects totaling 9,137 MW. These installations made wind power the number one choice of new utility-scale power generation in 2019, capturing 39 percent of new additions. Total operating wind power capacity increased 9.6 percent to 105,591 MW, with nearly 60,000 wind turbines now operating across 41 states and two territories. This caps off a strong decade of growth that saw America more than triple its wind power capacity to become the largest renewable power resource on a capacity basis. Wind power represented 30 percent of utility-scale power plant installations over the past ten years COVID-19 is putting an estimated 25 GW of wind projects at risk, representing $35 billion in investment…” click here for more

    Monday, April 20, 2020

    The Banks That Fund The Climate Crisis

    Banking on Climate Change; Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020

    March 18, 2020 (Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, OilChange, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club)

    Executive Summary

    Financial companies are increasingly being recognized — by their clients, shareholders, regulators, and the general public — as climate actors, with a responsibility to mitigate their climate impact. For the banks highlighted in this report, the last year has brought a groundswell of activism demanding banks cut their fossil fuel financing, at the same time that increasingly extreme weather events have further underscored the urgency of the climate crisis.

    This report adds up financing from 35 private-sector banks to the fossil fuel industry, summing their leading roles in lending and underwriting of debt and equity issuances. These 35 banks from Canada, China, Europe, Japan, and the U.S. have together funneled USD $2.7 trillion into fossil fuels in the four years since the Paris Agreement was adopted (2016-2019). The biggest fossil bank over that time was JPMorgan Chase, followed by its U.S. peers: Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Over those four years, RBC was the biggest fossil bank in Canada, MUFG in Japan, Barclays in Europe, and Bank of China in China.

    BNP Paribas was the biggest European fossil bank in 2019, despite its policy on unconventional oil and gas financing, and along with Santander and CIBC saw the biggest percentage increase in its fossil financing from 2018-2019. The biggest absolute increase in fossil financing last year came from Bank of America.

    click to enlarge

    In addition, Banking on Climate Change 2020 names 100 top fossil fuel expansion companies and their biggest bankers. The carbon budget leaves no room for new fossil fuel extraction or infrastructure, and yet JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Bank of America have led funding to these top expansion companies, with overall bank financing to these companies on the rise last year.

    This year’s report shifts from an A-F system to a point-based assessment of bank policies, focusing on policies restricting financing for fossil fuel expansion, as well as commitments to phase out or exclude financing for fossil fuel companies. Crédit Agricole has the strongest overall fossil policy of the banks analyzed, but by earning only about 40% of total possible points, demonstrates how far the banking sector still must move in order to align with climate stability.

    Banking on Climate Change 2020 also assesses bank policy and practice around financing in certain key fossil fuel subsectors, with league tables and policy assessments on:

    » Tar sands oil: The biggest bankers of tar sands — the Canadian banks, led by TD and RBC, plus JPMorgan Chase and Barclays — all lack policies restricting their financing to this subsector.

    » Arctic oil and gas: 2019 saw a slew of bank policies restricting financing primarily for project financing in the Arctic. But overall, bank financing to top Arctic oil and gas companies has gone up every year since Paris.

    » Offshore oil and gas: This year’s report looks not just at ultra-deepwater oil and gas, but rather all offshore oil and gas, where the biggest bankers since Paris are JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and BNP Paribas.

    » Fracked oil and gas: Fracking financing is dominated by the U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citi. Only a handful of banks, all European, have begun to place significant restrictions on financing for fracked oil and gas.

    » Liquefied natural gas (LNG): Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are the world’s biggest bankers since Paris of top companies building LNG import and export terminals, but Mizuho was biggest in 2019. BANKING ON CLIMATE CHANGE 2020 3

    » Coal mining: China Construction Bank and Bank of China are the biggest bankers of coal mining, while French banks Crédit Mutuel and Crédit Agricole have the strongest policy scores.

    » Coal power: This is the area where bank policy scores are strongest overall; yet funding for top coal power producers is not dropping rapidly enough. Financing is led by ICBC and Bank of China, with Citi as the top non-Chinese banker of coal power.

    This report maps out case studies where bank financing for fossil fuels has real impact on communities — from a planned coal mine expansion in Poland, to fracking in Argentina, to LNG terminals proposed for South Texas.

    Short essays throughout highlight additional key topics, such as the need for banks to measure and phase out their climate impact (not just risk) and what Paris alignment means for banks. Traditional Indigenous knowledge is presented as an alternative paradigm for a world increasingly beset with climate chaos.

    November’s U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, on the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Paris climate agreement, will be a crucial deadline for banks to align their policies and practices with a 1.5° Celsius world in which human rights are fully respected. The urgency of that task is underlined by this report’s findings that major global banks’ fossil financing has increased each year since Paris, and that even the best future-facing policies leave huge gaps.

    What Banks Must Do

    In this new decade, the climate emergency is clearer than ever, with emissions cuts of almost 50% necessary by 2030 if we are to have a coin-flip chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Also becoming increasingly clear and accepted is the financial industry’s role in driving the crisis, and thus its responsibility to phase out its climate impact. November of 2020 will bring the next UN climate talks to Glasgow, Scotland, where, five years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, countries are expected to assess their ongoing efforts to reduce emissions and then strengthen their climate pledges.

    Banks must similarly commit to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by ending their financing for fossil fuel expansion, and committing to phase out fossil fuel financing overall. Banks must also fully respect human rights, and Indigenous rights in particular.

    To align their policies and practices with a world that limits global warming to 1.5°C and fully respects human rights, and Indigenous rights in particular, banks must:

    » Explicitly acknowledge the central role of the fossil fuel industry as the major driver of climate breakdown, as well as the banks’ own role in financing this sector.

    » Prohibit all financing for all fossil fuel expansion projects and companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure (such as plants and pipelines).

    » Commit to phase out all financing for fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, on an explicit timeline that is aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

    » Phase out financing for existing projects and companies active in tar sands oil, Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, liquefied natural gas, coal mining, and coal power, with ending financing for expansion of these subsectors as an urgent first step.

    » Fully respect all human rights, particularly the rights of Indigenous peoples, including their rights to their water and lands and the right to free, prior, and informed consent, as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.156 Prohibit all financing for projects and companies that abuse human rights, including Indigenous rights…

    Saturday, April 18, 2020

    Youth Call Community Earth Day Live

    Young leaders say “we can come through this stronger than ever!”From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

    Anti-Solar Is For Real, But Impractical

    Developed by a U.C. Davis researcher, the “anti-solar” cell is an interesting idea, but not ready to cross the Valley of Death between research and the market. From Neopress via YouTube

    Wind Brings Power Home

    Wind is where people live and the power it generates can bring its benefits home. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

    Friday, April 17, 2020

    The -19 and Climate Crisis Nexus

    Climate Crisis Weekly: How climate change and COVID-19 are connected — WHO

    Michelle Lewis, April 4, 2020 (ElecTrek)

    “…[A first lesson about how the climate crisis is related to the COVID-19 pandemic] is that well-resourced, equitable health systems with a strong and supported health workforce are essential to protect us from health security threats, including climate change. The austerity measures that have strained many national health systems over the past decade will have to be reversed if economies and societies are to be resilient and prosperous in an age of change…Secondly, the ongoing pandemic illustrates how inequality is a major barrier in ensuring the health and wellbeing of people, and how social and economic inequality materializes in unequal access to healthcare systems…The same is true for the health impacts of climate change…

    [Third, the global health crisis] has forced us to dramatically change our behavior in order to protect ourselves and those around us, to a degree most of us have never experienced…Even though climate change presents a slower, more long-term health threat, an equally dramatic and sustained shift in behavior will be needed to prevent irreversible damage…Lastly, crises like these offer an opportunity for a regained sense of shared humanity…Both the climate crisis and unfolding pandemic threaten this one thing we all care about…” click here for more

    Global Solar Demand Slows Only 8%

    Inside Clean Energy: Coronavirus May Mean Halt to Global Solar Gains—For Now Revised forecasts indicate that demand for solar panels will be down this year for the first time since the 1980s.

    Dan Gearino, March 19, 2020 (Inside Climate News)

    “…[There are] potential economic effects of this crisis on the transition to clean energy…Projects are likely to slow this year because of disruptions being experienced by the companies that do the work and pay for it…But there remains a wide range of potential outcomes…BloombergNEF has revised its global forecasts for 2020, saying that demand for photovoltaic solar panels will be in the range of 108 to 143 gigawatts, down from the range of 121 to 152 gigawatts that was in the forecast less than a month ago…

    This is an 8 percent decrease…[Longer-term,] the pandemic will affect renewable energy in 2020 and have reverberations into some of 2021…[Taking a more pessimistic view of the impact of COVID-19 on the end-market demand for solar installations in 2020, IHS Markit expects global installs to decline 16% to 105GW in 2020, compared to around 125GW in 2019.]” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 15, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: California, The Climate Crisis, And Carbon Emissions

    California may be a climate leader, but it could be a century behind on its carbon goals: study; Power sector progress is masking the need to address emissions in transportation and industry.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 29, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note:

    California just got sobering news that despite its nation-leading renewables build, it may be a century late in achieving its ambitious climate goals…The shift to renewables allowed California to meet its 2020 mandate to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels four years early, according to an Oct. 8 Next 10 report. But the state's GHG reduction rate must be three times faster to get to the next target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, Next 10 found.

    At California's GHG reduction rate in 2017, the most recent year detailed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), it would reach its 2030 goal in 2061 and its 2050 goal of emitting 80% below 1990 levels in 2157, "a 31-year and a 107-year delay." But those projections may miss what can happen in the next decade if California can turn its linear work on reducing GHGs into exponential reductions, stakeholders told Utility Dive. That big "if" will require unprecedented work in so-far unresponsive sectors of the economy, they added.

    Power sector emissions reductions attributable to renewable energy additions masked growth in California's transportation, building and industrial sectors, the report found. Economic growth drove transportation emissions to a record high in 2017. And wildfire emissions, which were higher than commercial, residential or agriculture sector GHGs in 2017, were worse in 2018.

    "The optimism in this sobering report is that California has made itself a climate leader with policies and regulations and with entrepreneurs rising to the challenge," Next 10 Founder Noel Perry told Utility Dive. "New policies and regulations can create new solutions."

    Before 2016, CARB numbers showed California would need to reduce its GHGs 3.92% per year to achieve its 2030 goal. But the state only reduced its emissions 1.15% between 2016 and 2017, so now it must cut GHGs 4.51% per year to achieve that goal, Next 10 found.

    A major factor in the lower reduction rate was the state's economic growth. Many argued adding variable renewables would slow economic growth, but not in California, where gross domestic product per capita grew 3.1% in 2017, renewables made up over 25% of electric power and power sector emissions fell 1.8%. As part of that economic growth, in 2017, a record 80.6 out of every 100 Californians owned a vehicle. And "super commutes" of 90 minutes or more increased as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) grew 0.5% from 2016 to 2017. As a result, transportation emissions hit 41.1%, up from 40.4%... click here for more

    Compared to -19, Green New Deal Is A Bargain

    The Green New Deal Is Cheap, Actually; Decarbonizing will cost trillions of dollars, but it’s an investment that will have big return — for the economy and the environment

    Tim Dickinson, April 6, 2020 (Rolling Stone)

    “Opposition to the Green New Deal is often framed as a matter of cost…But science shows that the costs of unchecked global temperature rise are far higher than transitioning to clean energy — which will, in fact, boost the economy…The coronavirus crisis is changing the world’s comfort levels with massive expenditures. Fresh on the heels of a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, [a new $2 trillion infrastructure package has been proposed] to create jobs. Across the political spectrum, politicians are anticipating that the economy will need something approximating a New Deal…And climate advocates are making the case that we can use this disaster response to invest in renewable energy, to ward off an even more dangerous crisis down the line.

    The price of not acting on climate change is staggering…[A recent study in Nature shows that settling the Paris climate accord limit of global temperature rise to 2 C] rather than a more ambitious limit of 1.5 C…will cost the world $36 trillion in climate damages…Holding warming to 2 C can limit the negative impact to one percent of global GDP per capita by 2100. But runaway climate change would crater that GDP figure by seven percent worldwide, and by 10.5 percent in the United States…The heart of the Green New Deal is a commitment to largely transition America to renewable energy by 2030, and wholly by 2050. That will require an upfront investment of $7.8 trillion…By 2050, this transition avoids $3.1 trillion a year in climate damages. The green energy itself is also cheaper — saving $1.3 trillion a year for consumers over the fossil-fueled status quo…” click here for more

    Monday, April 13, 2020

    Hundreds of Trillions Of Dollars Wasted On Coal

    How to waste over half a trillion dollars; The Economic Implications of Deflationary Renewable Energy for Coal Power Investments

    March 2020 (Carbon Tracker)

    Key Findings

    New investments in renewables are cheaper than new investments coal in all major markets today.

    It could be cheaper to build renewables than run coal in all major markets by 2030.

    Over half of coal plants operating today cost more to run than building new renewables.

    Governments and investors should cancel coal power projects or risk wasting over $600 bn in capital costs.

    Summary

    This report analyses two economic inflection points critical to understanding the relative competitiveness of coal power.

    1-When energy generated via investments in renewables is cheaper than that generated by new investments in coal.

    2-When energy generated via new investments in renewables is cheaper than generating energy using existing coal.

    In doing so, we find that inflection point one has already occurred in all major markets and inflection point two will have occurred in all major markets by 2030 at the latest. These findings have wholesale implications for coal power investments throughout the world.

    New renewables cheaper than new coal in all major markets today

    In Powering Down Coal: Navigating the economic and financial risks in the last years of coal power published in 2018, we found that declining renewable energy costs and existing carbon and air pollution regulations were already undermining coal as the least-cost option for power generation. Due to price deflation of renewable energy, we concluded that coal generation would become uneconomic in both absolute and relative terms. Regarding the latter, we anticipated that by 2025 at the latest, investments in new renewables would beat new coal investments in all markets. Using updated data from publicly available sources, we now believe these conclusions are too conservative. Our analysis finds that the LCOE of renewable energy is cheaper than the LCOE of coal in all major markets today

    Over half of the operating coal fleet costs more to run than new renewables

    The second inflection point, the year when the LCOE of renewables outcompetes the LRMC of coal, is where existing coal will start to become economically obsolete. Our modelling finds that around 60% of the global coal fleet already has a higher LRMC than the LCOE of renewable energy. This trend is most pronounced in the EU, which has a strong carbon price and has benefited from years of investment in renewable energy. The US, China and India are not far behind the EU due to excellent renewable energy resources, low capital costs and least-cost policymaking. In markets where renewable energy has yet to outcompete existing coal this is either due to market nascency or poor policymaking. For example, in several ASEAN markets and Japan, there is still not a route to market reliable enough to attract global capital like EU and US markets.

    Cheaper to build renewables than run coal in all markets by 2030

    By 2030 at the latest, we expect the average LRMC of coal in all major markets to be higher than the LCOE of renewable energy. Assuming competitive and non-discriminatory market regulations, renewable energy developers will take advantage of the difference between power prices and the LCOE of wind and solar PV. This new dynamic will have implications for power price shape and volatility. Increased variable renewable energy supply will increase price volatility and decrease prices during certain times of the day, forcing coal generators to be flexible during those times to avoid operating at a loss. Greater flexibility increases the LRMC of coal generation, exacerbating the difference between the LCOE of renewable energy.

    Cancel coal power projects and deregulate markets or waste $600bn

    There is currently 499 GW of coal capacity announced, permitted, pre-permitted and under-construction throughout the world with an overnight investment cost of $638 bn. The economics of coal power is far from straightforward and in an important respect bifurcated. We broadly categorise power markets two ways: deregulated and regulated. Deregulated markets are subject to a competitive wholesale power market where generation activities are completely separated from the rest of the value chain. Regulated markets are not subject to the competitive wholesale power market where generation activities are integrated into the rest of the value chain under the ownership of a vertically integrated utility.1 Our analysis highlights three trends2 across these markets:

    • Deregulated markets where coal faces imminent economic obsolescence through market forces (for e.g., the EU).

    • Semi-regulated markets and regulated markets where corporate welfare results in high cost coal being passed on to a captive consumer base (for e.g., the US).

    • Semi-regulated and regulated markets where intractable problems are created due to coal generators selling – or being subsidised to sell – power below the cost of production (for e.g., ASEAN).

    These dynamics in regulated and semi-regulated markets mean new investments in coal may continue and coal generators may not close, despite the economics of alternative power generation technologies. If investors and policymakers decide to build and operate the 499 GW of coal capacity permitted, pre-permitted and under-construction throughout the world, it will not have been the least-cost option in those regions, based on our analysis. Moreover, according to analysis of recent research from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global coal use in electricity generation must fall by 80% below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.3 We offer the following high-level recommendations:

    China’s post-coronavirus stimulus must avoid costly coal power The outbreak of coronavirus has struck a significant blow to the Chinese economy. How severe the coronavirus may be will not only depend on the extent and depth of the outbreak but also the government response.4 Opaque and inappropriate pricing structures for power generation have long been a key distortion in the Chinese economy. For instance, according to Carbon Tracker analysis, around 70% of China’s operating coal fleet costs more to run than building new onshore wind or utility-scale solar PV. Despite this, China has 99.7 GW of coal-fired capacity under-construction and another 106. 1 GW of capacity in various stages of the planning process. The National Energy Administration’s recent circular on coal power planning and construction implies policymakers are prepared to approve investments in coal in the near future.5 China’s authoritarian governance means it can deploy capital effectively and do so in a way that does not stifle innovation. China must seize the opportunity and act on the risk by deploying stimulus capital efficiently and avoid investing in coal power which is economically redundant and environmentally disastrous.

    Governments and investors need to act on the risk: cancel projects to avoid stranded cost risk Investors are increasingly recognising inflection point one and are responding by restricting thermal coal funding.6 However, several governments are continuing to incentivise and underwrite coal projects. The capital recovery period for new investments in coal capacity is typically 15 to 20 years, making these investments extremely risky given our finding that coal will not be a least cost option before debt is fully amortized. The large difference between the LCOE of renewable energy and the LCOE and LRMC of coal make it highly unlikely that these investments will be any less risky when system costs are considered. Therefore, governments – and investors who are relying on government-backed power purchase agreements (PPAs) – need to urgently reconsider these coal projects in light of prevailing economics. Table 2 details the level of stranded cost risk by region and offers high-level policy recommendations.

    Policymakers need to increase price discovery to incentivise least-cost power generation technologies

    Price discovery – i.e. determining the value of an asset in the marketplace through the interactions of buyers and sellers – is often limited in regulated and semi-regulated markets. Investment decisions tend to be made based on PPAs, and governments are predisposed to keep coal capacity operating for socioeconomic reasons. This dynamic means new investments in coal may continue, allowing coal generators to continue to operate despite the increasingly undisputable economic advantages of alternative power generation technologies. Policymakers urgently need to deregulate power markets to ensure least-cost power generation technologies are built as a priority.

    Seize the opportunity: introduce phase-out schedules to avoid creating a negative investment signal for renewable energy

    As well as disincentivising new builds, policymakers need to introduce regulations that maximise the systems value of variable renewable energy and retire the existing coal fleet through phase-out schedules. Failure to take these steps will exacerbate stranded asset risk and could result in overcapacity. This, in turn, will suppress power prices, create a negative investment signal for renewable energy and ultimately stifle the transition to a low carbon economy

    Conclusion

    This report analyses two inflection points critical to understand the relative competitiveness of coal power. The first inflection point considered when new investments in renewable energy (either onshore wind, offshore wind or utility-scale solar PV) are cheaper than new coal. The second inflection point considered when new investments in renewable energy cost less than the operating cost of coal power. Coal has long been considered the least-cost option for power generation throughout the world. This narrative is quickly changing as a confluence of factors are disrupting coal’s pre-eminence. Most notably, low-cost renewable energy, which will soon be cheaper to build than to run coal plants. Policymakers need to stop new investments in coal power immediately and redesign power market regulation to minimise stranded asset risk and accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy

    Saturday, April 11, 2020

    Bill Maher And Al Gore Connect The Crises

    The climate and health crises are both simply nature’s response to what humans are doing to the planet. From Real Time with Bill Maher via YouTube

    John Prine Sings About Coal In Paradise

    “They wrote it all down as the progress of man.” From johngalt2626 via YouTube

    A Tesla Home AC-Heating Unit (Solar-Powered?)

    New Energy’s resident visionary and master hustler talks about making home HVAC-air and water filtering units. From Casgains Academy – Stock Market Investing via YouTube

    Friday, April 10, 2020

    The Virus As A Symptom Of The Crisis

    Pope says coronavirus pandemic could be nature's response to climate crisis

    Delia Gallagher, April 8, 2020 (CNN)

    “Pope Francis has said the coronavirus pandemic is one of "nature's responses" to humans ignoring the current ecological crisis…[T]he pontiff said the outbreak offered an opportunity to slow down the rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world…"We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?" the Pope said…

    The pandemic has radically changed the way the Vatican operates, with the Pope celebrating Palm Sunday mass in an empty church and the sites normally packed with tourists empty…The 83-year-old Pope, who has a damaged lung from an infection in his 20s, has twice tested negative for the novel coronavirus. He is being distanced from anyone who might be carrying the virus…[He] criticized the response to the outbreak…[and] warned against the rise of populist politicians -- who he said are giving speeches reminiscent of Hitler in 1933 -- and others who are focusing solely on the economy…” click here for more

    New Energy Was 72% Of 2019 Global Energy Growth

    In 2019, Three Quarters Of The World’s New Energy Projects Were Renewable

    David Vetter, April 6, 2020 (Forbes)

    Some welcome good news for a pandemic-weary world: renewable energy made up 72% of all new energy generation projects last year, with solar and wind power making up 90% of that capacity…[A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency [IRENA] found 176 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity were added globally last year—a growth of 7.4%—with a notable 54% of that new capacity being added in Asia…[The numbers show New Energy is not only] the most sustainable option, but also the best economic solution to energy woes, with an oil price war raging against the backdrop of populations being ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak…The report found that total global renewable energy capacity now stands at 2,537 GW, with 47% of that total coming from hydropower. Wind energy rose from 180,850 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to 622,704 MW in 2019, while solar energy capacity went from 41,542 MW at the beginning of the decade to 586,434 MW—increases of 244% and 1,311%, respectively…

    [In Asia, New Energy] capacity rose 9.3% in 2019…[F]ossil fuel generation is also rising rapidly in Asia, with coal generation in China alone rising by 43.8 GW last year. By comparison, the region of Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific island nations, generates only 40 GW from renewable energy in total…[Sustained] growth is by no means a given: the global increase in renewables capacity for 2019 was 1.7% slower compared with 2018, the year in which a record 179 GW of capacity was added. All told, renewable sources generated 34.7% of the world’s electricity in 2019, up from 33.3% in 2018…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 08, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities' failure to plan for DER surge promises missed opportunities, increased costs

    Utilities' failure to plan for DER surge promises missed opportunities, increased costs, analysts say; Utilities have good reasons to avoid distribution planning, but now is the time to do it, while DER penetrations are low.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 24, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The expansion of distributed resources is expected to continue and utilities will continue to face the need for new kinds of preparations to deal with it.

    The failure of utilities to prepare for the surge of distributed energy resources (DER) expected to come onto their distribution systems will harm both their customers and their own bottom lines, analysts told Utility Dive. But proactively planning for new waves of customer-sited DER can both serve growing customer demand and provide flexibility to address the rising penetrations of variable renewables.

    "Most utilities have been able to model the so-far low penetrations of customers' DER on their distribution systems as a change in net load," NREL Research Scientist Kristen Ardani told Utility Dive. "It has not been consequential to bulk power system reliability and ensuring resource adequacy, but that is changing."

    Utilities have good reasons to avoid distribution system planning (DSP), Ardani and others said. It is more complex and unpredictable than bulk system integrated resource planning (IRP). And making more customer-owned DER possible may limit revenue-generating utility infrastructure spending and reduce kWh sales.

    But now, with DER penetrations still low, "is the time to shift the focus of planning from load growth and new infrastructure to understanding what policies and investments will be needed for the more dynamic system that is coming," Plugged-In Strategies President and former regulatory commission staffer Chris Villarreal told Utility Dive.

    "Distribution planning has traditionally been about identifying the upgrades and improvements needed to serve the bulk system," NREL's Ardani said. But the distribution system's "constantly changing generation and load profiles" now requires more attention. Traditionally, distribution system planners, bulk system planners and generation planners were focused on their own points of view, she added.

    Legislative and regulatory directives for grid modernization to address customer demand for DER are driving new planning, Ardani said. As a result, "utilities are developing new tools and analyses like hosting capacity analysis (HCA), which provides detailed distribution system maps and data to streamline interconnection." There are two levels of transparency needed in the new planning processes: integrating data and information across different planning groups, and getting that information to stakeholders, Ardani said…” click here for more

    White House Brings Old Ignorance To New Energy

    Trump’s War on Solar; Expanding access to renewable energy is the key to a future free of fossil fuels. So why are we moving so slowly?

    Tim Dickinson, April 3, 2020 (Rolling Stone)

    “Solar power’s great leap forward over the past decade has been stunning. Solar energy can now supply nearly 14 million homes in the U.S., up from fewer than 800,000 in 2010, and the price for solar generation has plunged by 90 percent. Over the same time, our solar workforce — primarily installers — has more than doubled, to nearly 250,000…Solar’s growth is now endangered by the economic slowdown posed by the coronavirus. But the industry faced headwinds from the White House even before the crisis hit. President Trump has used the powers of his presidency to champion fossil fuels — his latest budget request includes $500 million for clean-coal research — while mocking climate change and pulling America out of the Paris Agreement.

    … Trump habitually blasts “ugly” windmills, which he falsely claimed cause cancer. And he’s used high tariffs and his budget authority to slow the deployment of solar…Trump’s hobbling of solar is particularly grievous because it has the rare ability to bypass partisan fights about global warming. Americans across the political spectrum have embraced rooftop solar as a way to lower their electrical bills and survive blackouts and superstorms. For many conservatives, solar-energy autonomy is appealing…If we have any hope of significantly confronting the climate crisis, solar is a linchpin technology. In the U.S. alone, solar deployment has already reduced carbon output by the equivalent of planting 1.3 billion trees…” click here for more