More On How Michael Moore Got New Energy All Wrong
Michael Moore’s former fact-checker speaks out about his sloppiness with the facts. From greenmanbucket via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
Michael Moore’s former fact-checker speaks out about his sloppiness with the facts. From greenmanbucket via YouTube
New Energy can rebuild the economy by renewing the power system and redeeming the climate.From Unreserved via YouTube
The Keys are the U.S. canary in the coal mine of the climate crisis – and the canary is struggling to breathe. From Yale Climate Connections via YouTube
Recovery packages must make clean-energy a cornerstone of the new global economy; As Covid-19 restrictions ease, Europe is working on its recovery script, with renewables in the starring role
Remi Gruet, 11 May 2020 (RECharge)
“…[Europe’s recovery script, with renewables cast in the starring role, is expected to include loans for commercial investments and] grants for new renewable technologies…[Its two messages are] ‘green’ means economic development…[and] we need new, flexible renewables technologies…[Studies show] clean-energy investments deliver higher returns, in both the short and long term, than conventional fiscal stimulus…
…[All recent major models of the future energy system] show Europe running on between 80-100% renewable energy in 2050…In other parts of the world, the future share of renewables is still anticipated to be well above 50-60%...Mature renewables like wind power and PV will generate the bulk of low-cost, emissions-free energy for consumers…[and] now is the moment to widely deploy a second-generation of renewables…” click here for more
Renewable energy market update; Outlook for 2020 and 2021
May 2020 (International Energy Agency)
“The Covid-19 crisis is hurting – but not halting – global growth in renewable power capacity. The number of new renewable power installations worldwide is set to fall this year…But, given supportive government policies, growth is expected to resume next year as most of the delayed projects come online…In 2020, the IEA forecasts net additions of renewable electricity capacity to decline by 13% compared with 2019. The decline reflects delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruption, lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines, and emerging financing challenges…[but see] a 6% increase in global installed renewable power capacity…In 2021, renewables are expected to show their resilience…
…The forecast expects utility-scale PV and wind to rebound as the majority of projects in the pipeline are already financed and under construction…The impact of Covid-19 on renewable electricity technologies with long lead times, such as hydropower, offshore wind, CSP and geothermal, remains limited…The Covid-19 crisis has radically changed the global context for biofuels…Longer term implications for growth may arise from the suspension of new policy initiatives in some countries due to low oil prices…[G]overnments have the opportunity to reverse this trend by making investment in renewables a key part of stimulus packages designed to reinvigorate their economies…” click here for more
ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar’s Changing Market And Policy Landscape Tax credit, net metering declines strike distributed solar, but falling costs, storage offer new hope; With tax credits and net metering threatened, previous withdrawals of financial support mechanisms show what the distributed solar industry may soon face.
Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 19, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Few knew what real turmoil is last December.
Despite turmoil on key incentives and financial support that could threaten the distributed solar market, falling prices and battery storage are giving advocates something to cling to. Congress this week rejected an opportunity to extend the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar, likely impeding industry growth. Net energy metering (NEM), a key compensation mechanism for distributed solar in 39 states, and other financial supports for solar are also facing new challenges.
In addition, the market and changing incentives for distributed solar are working in opposite directions. Driven by new efficiencies in hardware and labor, installed prices continue to fall in most markets, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) reported in October. But rebates and incentives have "largely phased out" in leading markets and fallen very low in most others, creating "a significant counterbalance."
"It is very hard to say how one factor impacts a market because there are so many moving parts," Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of national online solar marketplace EnergySage, told Utility Dive. As changes compromise predictability, "consumers need certainty, and even a financial support [mechanism] scheduled to phase down with certainty will attract consumers to the next question, which is the price of solar, the electricity rate and the payback period."
The uncertainty and potential market impact brought about from the withdrawal of the ITC and retail rate NEM can be seen in past changes to distributed solar's financial supports, researchers and stakeholders said. Whether solar can sustain its growth depends in part on how the solar industry faces the coming changes, and how utilities and policymakers choose to understand the value of solar+storage.
Growth is slowing overall for distributed solar. U.S. residential solar grew 8% nationally in 2018, but only 7% year over year in the first half of 2019, according to the Q3 2019 Wood Mackenzie-Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) market report. In Q2 2019, non-residential distributed solar grew 2% less than in Q1 2019 and 16% less than in Q2 last year. "Since 2000, installed prices have fallen by $0.50/W per year," but that "has been substantially offset by a corresponding drop in rebates or other incentives," LBNL's Tracking the Sun 2019 reported.
The payback period for distributed PV went up from 7.8 years in the second half of 2018 to eight years in the first half of 2019, EnergySage reported in September. At the same time, "customer hesitation created by utility and regulatory uncertainty leapfrogged the high cost of installation to become the second most common challenge in closing sales in 2018," the February 2019 EnergySage installer survey reported.There is, however, a "small but increasing share" of distributed solar being paired with battery storage, found. It ranged from "1% to 5%" of installations in major markets last year, but was over 60% of Hawaii installations… click here for more
‘Greener-than-green hydrogen to be produced at same cost as grey H2 at world’s largest facility’; US start-up's plasma-enhanced gasification plant, due to be completed in 2022, could be a major breakthrough for the much-needed zero-carbon fuel
Leigh Collins 21 May 2020 (ReCharge)
“Greener-than-green hydrogen” costing the same as grey H2 from unabated fossil fuels is set to be produced at a record-breaking facility in California by the end of 2022, in what could be a game changer for the rapidly developing sector…Washington DC-based start-up SGH2 — emerging from stealth mode today ¬— says its method of extracting hydrogen from waste, using plasma torches, will produce H2 at $2 per kilogram — five to six times cheaper than standard green hydrogen from renewables and at the same cost as the cheapest grey hydrogen available today…SGH2 describes its hydrogen as “greener than green” as it uses biomass-based waste that would otherwise rot in landfills and emit methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period…This claim is slightly contentious as several larger green hydrogen projects have been announced…
Because clean hydrogen is not being produced anywhere at scale, and the price of electricity and natural gas is so variable, it is hard to put a figure on how much it costs to produce — either via renewables (by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current), known as green hydrogen, or via natural gas with its emissions captured and stored (or used), which is referred to as blue hydrogen…[Calculations from engineer Fluor put] the cost of electrolytic green hydrogen at $10-13 per kg, grey hydrogen (from unabated fossil fuels) at $2-6/kg, and blue hydrogen at $6-10/kg…Trade body Hydrogen Europe says green hydrogen from wind or solar power costs about $11-16 per kg today, although it adds that this cost could halve by 2023-25…[The International Energy Agency puts] the cost of grey hydrogen at “generally around” $1.50-3 per kg, and as low as $1/kg in the Middle East, with blue hydrogen at $1.40-1.50 “in the most promising regions” and green hydrogen from PV or onshore wind “generally around” $2.50-6.00 per kg…” click here for more
Heating Sector Transformation in Rhode Island; Pathways to Decarbonization by 2050
Dean Murphy and Jürgen Weiss, May 2020 (The Brattle Group)
As part of Rhode Island’s commitment to economywide decarbonization, this report examines solutions to transform the state’s heating sector. Dominated by space heating for the residential and commercial sectors, but also including water heating and industrial heating, the heating sector represents approximately one-third of the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
There are many solutions for decarbonizing the heating sector, but they fall into three broad categories:
1. Reducing energy needs by improving building energy efficiency
2. Replacing current fossil heating fuels with carbonneutral renewable gas or oil
3. Replacing current fossil-fueled boilers and furnaces with electric ground source or air source heat pumps powered by carbon-free electricity
The industrial sector may need other types of solutions, which can be very application-specific.
To transition to decarbonized heating fast enough to meet mid-century decarbonization targets, Rhode Island will need substantial policy support. The reasons include low fossil fuel prices (particularly for natural gas), which also do not reflect the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions; switching to electrified heating solutions requires substantial initial costs for equipment and installation compared to replacing boilers or furnaces; and other more qualitative factors such as information deficits, immature supply chains, a natural reluctance by consumers to change what seems to work well.
Rhode Island must base its policy framework for heating sector transformation on an understanding of the relative economic attractiveness of various decarbonization solutions. Figure ES 1 shows the projected range of average annual heating costs in 2050 for a representative existing single-family home in Rhode Island, using existing fossil fuels (on the left) or several alternative decarbonized heating solutions (on the right). This figure shows two key insights:
1. For natural gas customers, who represent the majority of heating customers in the state, all of the decarbonized heating solutions will likely result in some increase in overall heating costs. This is less clear for fuel oil and propane customers. However, customer adoption of no-to-low carbon heating solutions will not take place in isolation. Viewing heating transformation within the context of broader decarbonization efforts across the electric and transportation sectors, total consumer energy expenditures are likely to be similar to what is paid today in a fossil fuel-based system.
2. From today’s perspective, no single solution is clearly more economically attractive than the others. This is due to the high uncertainty related to how the costs of all decarbonized heating solutions will evolve over the coming decades. The heights of the bars themselves are less important than the uncertainty bands around them (represented by black bands extending above and below the tops of the bars). These uncertainty bands are largely overlapping for the decarbonized technologies, indicating that it is not clear at this point which of these technologies will be most economical in the long run.
The analysis in Figure ES 1 assumes that as part of decarbonizing the heating sector, cost-effective energy efficiency measures such as air sealing and attic insulation will be implemented in essentially all Rhode Island buildings. Doing so lowers the challenge to decarbonize heating and saves consumers money, which is relevant for all consumers and may be particularly important for disadvantaged communities.
This particular analysis is based on a set of “bookend” scenarios that assume for each decarbonized technology that this technology provides all heat across New England. It compares cases where fuels (gas and oil, in renewable forms) continue to primarily provide heat; or for electric heat pumps, assumes 100% adoption of either ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) or air source heat pumps (ASHPs). This captures the potential impacts of these technologies on the region’s overall energy systems. For instance, the economic attractiveness of electric heat pumps depends in part on the cost of (clean) electricity, which in turn depends on the impact that heat pumps will have on the electric system. Heat pumps themselves represent a substantial demand for electricity and can affect the price of power. Similarly, the attractiveness of renewable gas depends on its cost, which depends on the total gas volume demanded regionally and nationally, since low-cost supplies are limited.
One important lesson from these bookend scenarios is that widespread ASHP adoption could require substantial additional investments in the regional electric power system, and could create operational challenges. At very low outside temperatures, when the need for heat is greatest, ASHPs become significantly less efficient. If ASHPs are adopted widely, this could create extremely high peak electric demand during a few very cold days.
Since such bookend scenarios are unlikely to represent actual adoption of decarbonized heating solutions, Figure ES 2 shows how the results might change under one of many possible more-balanced adoption scenarios. This example shows a scenario that assumes that by 2050, electric heat pumps (one-third each by ASHPs and GSHPs) are providing two-thirds of heating; that (renewable) gas – which loses only 50% of volume relative to today – is providing most of the remaining heat; and that oil is providing the remaining amount.
This more mixed adoption of all the decarbonized heating solutions partially mitigates the extreme impact of 100% ASHP adoption on electric system peaks (and the resulting cost of electricity), making ASHPs relatively more attractive. On the other hand, reducing delivered gas volumes, due to increasing energy efficiency or conversions to electrified heat, could increase the delivery cost of renewable gas, making it relatively less attractive. But, importantly, the more balanced adoption pattern of the Mixed Scenario does not alter the basic conclusion that no decarbonization solution is clearly preferred. The uncertainty ranges of the decarbonized technologies still largely overlap one another. Because the relative attractiveness of heating decarbonization solutions is sensitive to a) peak electric impacts and b) gas volume impacts, developing a better understanding of these effects, and opportunities to mitigate them, will be an important policy focus in the coming years.
Finally, the decarbonization of heating will not take place in isolation. Rather, it is embedded in broader economy-wide decarbonization efforts, including a likely shift toward electrified transportation. Heating decarbonization, and in particular the level of electric heat pump penetration, can affect electricity prices. This could have broader impacts on consumers’ “energy wallet” – their total energy expenditures on baseline electricity consumption and electric vehicle (EV) charging, in addition to heating. However, changes in heating costs could be offset or exacerbated by impacts on other elements of the energy wallet, particularly transportation. EVs are expected – at least by 2050 – to have lower operating costs than current internal combustion engines.
Figure ES 3 compares a representative consumer’s energy wallet spending today with what energy spending might look like by 2050, considering the various decarbonized heating solutions. The figure indicates that the attractiveness of ASHPs would not decrease substantially when considering the overall energy wallet. It also shows that, compared to 2020, any potential increase in heating cost could be at least partly offset by cost decreases elsewhere in the energy wallet, and by savings through energy efficiency. This does not mean that individual consumers or businesses will not see changes in their heating (and energy wallet) costs. Policy likely plays a key role in mitigating any potential cost increases, particularly where it may affect populations or industries that are vulnerable to increasing energy costs (and thus could be reflected in the state’s economy).
The same broad conclusions apply to space heating uses in other settings, such as larger (multifamily) residential and commercial buildings, as well as to domestic water heating. Finally, various decarbonization solutions also exist for the remaining smaller uses of heat, such as electric cooking and clothes drying.
FIVE THEMES TO GUIDE RHODE ISLAND’S PATH FORWARD
The conclusion of this quantitative assessment of the relative attractiveness of various heating decarbonization solutions in Rhode Island is that, at present, there is no clear winning approach. Rather, the relative attractiveness of decarbonizing heating in the state depends on the evolution of the relevant costs – renewable gas, renewable oil, ASHPs, and GSHPs – which are highly uncertain today. Also, the attractiveness of the solutions in specific instances will depend on the particular context – the particular building, location, or application. In addition, each of the decarbonization solutions faces unique adoption and implementation challenges that Rhode Island will need to address to enable broad adoption over time.
This implies that, for policy to support Rhode Island’s heating sector transformation, the next 10 years should not focus on advancing a single or limited set of solutions. Instead, Rhode Island should ensure that it is making progress, regardless of which solution (or mix of solutions) ultimately prevails. As illustrated in Figure ES 4, a policy framework for the next 10 years should involve five elements: Ensure, Learn, Inform, Enable, and Plan.
As an initial step to ensure decarbonization, improving the energy efficiency of buildings will provide several immediate benefits. By reducing heat needs, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what heating technology is utilized (and to the extent heating is electrified, improved building efficiency will reduce heating’s impact on electric loads). Importantly, cost-effective energy efficiency measures will reduce the total cost of heating, which will mitigate any potential increase in the cost of providing heat with decarbonized solutions. Finally, existing efficiency programs provide an effective program delivery network that can support the state’s expanded heating-sectorrelated decarbonization efforts.
A second key policy element that will ensure progress towards decarbonizing the heating sector is enacting a set of technology-neutral measures that will reduce the carbon intensity of all energy sources used for heating – electricity, gas, oil, and propane – over time. Such measures may include renewable electricity requirements, carbon pricing or cap and trade policies, renewable fuel or heating standards, or other approaches. Complementary fuel-neutral policies include continued and increased efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Rhode Island’s existing buildings, while also tightening the efficiency requirements for new construction.
Rhode Island must emphasize learning over the next decade, given the large uncertainties about both general and state-specific factors related to each of the decarbonized solutions and their implementation. Learning strategies should use pilot and demonstration projects, targeting state-specific issues or in collaboration for more general issues. At a minimum, learning policies should include:
• Information gathering to enable better incentive targeting (such as information on the type and age of heating-related equipment in the state)
• Proper research and development targeting Rhode Island-specific issues
• More general information in collaboration with other states or organizations
Rhode Island must inform key stakeholders, including consumers and the building trades, about the technical and economic issues related to decarbonized heat solutions that will require significant efforts to improve information level and flow. Potential policies in this area include broad information campaigns about the available solutions, including their pros and cons; publicly visible demonstration projects; developing training and certification programs for installers; and making information about qualified and experienced installers available to consumers.
Policymakers will need to enact several additional strategies to enable a heating sector transformation. These include policies that identify and address the implementation barriers, which may take the form of incentives to consumers and businesses designed to overcome both overall cost and especially first cost barriers, such as the high upfront cost of heat pumps. In addition, Rhode Island should realign its regulatory frameworks. Examples include removing existing incentives that favor gas system expansion, reconsidering rate structures for both electricity and gas, and exploring ways to integrate the regulatory treatment of National Grid’s gas and electric businesses.
Another important enabling policy principle relates to identifying and capitalizing on “natural investment opportunities” where decarbonized solutions may be implemented at a lower cost and with less disruption by coordinating with other work being done on the infrastructure or building. Examples include instances where natural gas or electricity infrastructure is being upgraded or replaced, buildings undergoing deep renovations, or existing heating equipment that needs to be replaced as it approaches the end of its useful life. Policies that enable progress can also target existing codes, rules, etc. that may inadvertently create barriers to deploying decarbonized heating solutions that are otherwise attractive. Finally, enabling policies should identify and mitigate instances where heating decarbonization could impose undue burdens on vulnerable populations.
Planning will also be important. Changes to current planning approaches and some specific planning efforts will need to be part of the heating transformation strategy. In general, planning efforts should consider a long time horizon – 2050 or beyond – even if a typical planning exercise might only cover the next 10 years. This will allow Rhode Island to plan for the magnitude of changes needed to decarbonize the heating sector by mid-century, and account for the long lives of most heating-related infrastructure – buildings; pipelines; electric transmission and distribution equipment; GSHP ground loops; and even furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps themselves.
Also, some specific planning efforts will be necessary. An example is planning for the expansion of the electric distribution grid. Significant new electric loads are likely to come online over the next several decades, not just for heat but also for EV charging. This provides an opportunity to better understand the tradeoffs between “future-proofing” the grid by anticipating additional future demands, vs. planning only for nearterm demands, which may lead to a series of smaller upgrades that could ultimately cost more. Similarly, even ahead of any clarity about the long-term role of the gas distribution system, developing plans for how the gas system might be altered to accommodate reduced gas use for heating, and whether there may be ways to do it more economically, will help inform the decisions that Rhode Island must undertake over the next few decades.
This report identifies several important technical issues that will affect the transformation of the heating sector. These include the potential impacts of electrified heat on the power sector, and the future role of the gas system and how reduced gas delivery volumes could affect it. These insights support an economic analysis of the different pathways to decarbonize heating – using renewable fuels with heating infrastructure similar to today’s, or alternatively, electrifying heat with GSHP or ASHP.
That analysis showed that there is substantial overlapping uncertainty about the future economic attractiveness of the decarbonized solutions – regarding the long-run cost of renewable fuels (which is likely to be substantially above the current cost of fossil fuels), as well as the cost of heat pumps themselves and the clean electricity to power them. Because of these overlapping uncertainties, it is not possible to identify a clear winner among the technologies. However, it appears that decarbonized heat is likely to be somewhat more costly than natural gas heat is today, and potentially comparable with oil or propane. Still, overall consumer expenditures on energy in a fully decarbonized economy may be roughly comparable to today’s costs.
This has several policy implications for driving a heating sector transformation over the next several decades. Policy approaches should support enabling early progress on decarbonization – by pursuing energy efficiency to reduce heat needs, and by decarbonizing all the energy sources used for heating – both fuels such as gas and oil, and also electricity to power new electrified heating systems. Beyond this, policies should support both the learning and informing stages, to begin to address the uncertainties, collect information that will be necessary for the transformation, and ensure a widespread understanding of the solutions and their implications. Regulatory changes can enable the transformation, addressing barriers and facilitating progress on any or all of the pathways. Policies that create structures to identify and capitalize on natural investment opportunities will also enable the transformation.
Broadening planning approaches for both the electric and gas systems will allow policymakers to consider longer time horizons consistent with the natural lives of heating infrastructure components and the timeframe and magnitude of the transformation. While it seems counterintuitive, Rhode Island must develop action plans knowing that it might not ultimately need them, since developing the plans will inform decisions about whether to implement them. The transformation of the heating sector over the next several decades will be a major undertaking, but it is achievable with early and sustained policy focus.
For at least two decades, climate scientists have predicted more frequent, severe flooding. This is not a prediction. From MSNBC via YouTube
“Mega-drought here and mega-flooding there is why many call it global weirding.” From CBS This Morning via YouTube
“…Not even worth debunking…” From friendlyjordies via YouTube
We’re flattening the coronavirus curve. We can flatten the climate curve, too. Showing people the urgency will help.
A. R. Ravishankara and Mary M. Glackin, May 19, 2020 (Washington Post)
Flatten the curve! Flatten the curve! It has become a rallying cry for dealing with the novel coronavirus across the world…Can this approach be used successfully to address our climate change challenge?...There are many similarities between covid-19 and climate change. Both present problems that are global in scale. The detrimental effects of both are faced by everyone, albeit to different degrees…[But] the time scales for the two problems are different…For climate change, it is decades to centuries. But the general features are eerily similar. The scientific community generally knows what to do. To flatten the curve for covid-19, we stop transmission by avoiding contact with others (distancing). For climate change, we flatten the curve by limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases…[In both cases, we] are buying time to avoid a catastrophe…
…Both issues have latency periods when nothing seems to be happening but are critical to what happens subsequently…For both problems, the time at which we act has significant impact on the amount of action needed and the number of people involved…[For both, actions are needed from] governments, businesses and individuals…Unfortunately, in both cases, there are skeptics who call for business as usual that hinders flattening the curve…[But today’s lifestyle changes show] our society can act when the threat is clearly visible and leaders work with common purpose. The same approach is needed to address the not-yet-visible climate change crisis…If society now “accepts” and acts on the idea of flattening the curve for the virus, can it do the same for climate change? If not, it does not bode well…” click here for more
Renewables keep showing immunity to COVID-19
May 2020 (International Energy Agency)
Across all major regions, the power mix has shifted towards renewables following lockdown measures due to depressed electricity demand, low operating costs and priority access to the grid through regulations.
In India, the gap between coal and renewables has narrowed significantly. In the United States, natural gas has remained the leading source of electricity, while renewables have far outpaced the contribution of coal-fired power plants.” click here for more
Investigations of ComEd, Exelon lobbying threaten Illinois energy transition; Lawmakers and clean energy advocates vow to continue fighting for the state's landmark clean energy bill despite a "black cloud of corruption."
Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 17, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The scandal remains unresolved and the investigations continue.
A Grand Jury investigation, FBI raids on Illinois legislators and utility lobbyists, and sudden resignations by top utility executives could turn the state's emerging energy transition, which Illinois lawmakers, utility leaders and other stakeholders have been working toward, into a missed opportunity. Their proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) offers a more ambitious clean energy mandate, and a smart delivery system., but allegations of misuse of ratepayer money could compromise its passage.
"The U.S. attorney and the FBI tend not to proceed frivolously with search warrants or a grand jury investigation," Executive Director of Illinois advocacy group Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) Howard Learner told Utility Dive. Bills backed by the utilities may be problematic due to the "black cloud of the serious federal investigation" into the misuse of ratepayer monies for improper lobbying practices involving Commonwealth Edison and Exelon executives and prominent Illinois polticians.
But stopping Illinois from moving toward clean energy "is not going to happen," CEJA chief sponsor Rep. Ann Williams, D, told Utility Dive. "Any inappropriate, unethical or even illegal behavior will not impact our efforts. The utilities' role may be less, due to these ongoing headline issues, but the Clean Jobs Coalition and other groups pushing for renewables will drive this."
There are three reasons Williams may be right, stakeholders told Utility Dive. First, clean energy advocates see in the CEJA an important opportunity to grow renewables. Second, utilities see revenue in the Act's broad electrification plan, power market revisions and energy efficiency funding. Third, consumer advocates believe the CEJA can reduce customer bills. None want to see these opportunities missed.
The House version of the CEJA was adopted by Rep. Williams' Energy Committee but stopped in the Rules Committee during the 2019 session. The Senate version remains in its Rules Committee. Sponsors and supporters promise to persist toward 2020 passage, despite the hurdles.
But the unfolding investigations into allegations of possible legal or ethical violations by utility lobbyists and their political associates have multiple tangled strands. The FBI served two subpoenas in a Grand Jury investigation into lobbying practices by Exelon, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The investigation includes Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), one of Exelon's six investor-owned utility (IOU) subsidiaries and the dominant electricity supplier to Chicago and northern Illinois… click here for more
Notwithstanding The Covid-19 Pandemic, U.S. EIA Expects Strong Growth In 2020 In Electrical Generation By Renewables As Coal, Gas, And Nuclear Power All Decline
Ken Bossong, May 13, 2020 (Sun Day)
Notwithstanding a projected decline in total U.S. electrical generation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) are projected to produce significantly more electricity in 2020…The latest issue of EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook" reveals that “renewable energy sources [will] account for the largest portion of new generating capacity in 2020, driving EIA’s forecast of 11% growth in renewable generation by the electric power sector.” The agency “expects the electric power sector will add 20.4 gigawatts of new wind capacity and 12.7 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020 … [making] renewable energy … the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020 … .”
“…[EIA does caution, however, that “forecasts are subject to a high degree of uncertainty”…[But] as renewably-generated electricity grows, “total U.S. electric power sector generation will decline by 5% in 2020. Most of the expected decline in electricity supply is reflected in lower fossil fuel generation, especially at coal-fired power plants. EIA expects that coal generation will fall by 25% in 2020.”…[Natural gas is expected to] fall in 2020 by 1.3% (from 1,581.82 billion kWh in 2019 to 1,561.94 kWh in 2020) while nuclear power’s output will decline 1.2% (from 809.41 billion kWh in 2019 to 799.80 billion kWh in 2020)…[E]lectrical generation by hydropower and non-hydro renewables combined is forecast to rise to 835.10 billion kWh – putting them ahead of both coal and nuclear power…” click here for more
The 50 States of Grid Modernization: Q1 2020
April 2020 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)
WHAT IS GRID MODERNIZATION?
Grid modernization is a broad term, lacking a universally accepted definition. In this report, the authors use the term grid modernization broadly to refer to actions making the electricity system more resilient, responsive, and interactive. Specifically, in this report grid modernization includes legislative and regulatory actions addressing: (1) smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, (2) utility business model reform, (3) regulatory reform, (4) utility rate reform, (5) energy storage, (6) microgrids, and (7) demand response…
Q1 2020 GRID MODERNIZATION ACTION
In the first quarter of 2020, 47 states plus DC took a total of 446 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 446 actions catalogued, the most common were related to policies (130), planning and market access (70), and deployment (67).
TOP 5 GRID MODERNIZATION DEVELOPMENTS OF Q1 2020
Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.
Energy Storage Targets Adopted in Nevada and Virginia
Nevada and Virginia became the sixth and seventh states, respectively to adopt energy storage targets during Q1 2020. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved a target of 1,000 MW of energy storage by 2030, with interim targets beginning in 2020.The Virginia General Assembly adopted a target of 3,100 MW of energy storage by December 31, 2035, with 2,700 MW of this required for Dominion Energy and 400 MW required for Appalachian Power.
DC Public Service Commission Issues Major Grid Modernization Order
The DC Public Service Commission issued a decision in the district’s grid modernization proceeding in January 2020, which takes several steps to forward the state’s grid modernization efforts. The order approves a distribution system planning and non-wires alternative stakeholder process, the development of a data sharing web portal, the creation of a rate design working group, the establishment of a microgrid proceeding, and more.
Virginia Regulators Issue Decision on Dominion Energy’s Grid Transformation Plan
The Virginia Corporation Commission issued an order on Dominion Energy’s Phase IB Grid Transformation Plan in March 2020. The decision approves the utility’s proposed investments in cybersecurity, stakeholder engagement and customer education, a customer information platform, smart electric vehicle charging, and a hosting capacity analysis, but rejected investments in advanced metering infrastructure, self-healing grid, and certain components of grid hardening.
New Mexico Lawmakers Enact Grid Modernization Roadmap Bill
In February 2020, the New Mexico Legislature enacted H.B. 233, which directs the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to develop a grid modernization roadmap for the state. The legislation also establishes a grid modernization grant program for public entities and authorizes public utilities to file applications for grid modernization projects, including investments, incentives, rate design, and education.
Delaware Public Service Commission Adopts Distribution System Planning Rules
The Delaware Public Service Commission adopted distribution system planning rules in February 2020, following a collaborative effort that began in 2018. The rules require electric distribution companies to file 10-year Long Range Distribution Plans including potential distribution system performance issues and solutions, as well as 3-year Infrastructure, Safety, and Reliability Plans including proposed capital spending.
MOST ACTIVE STATES AND SUBTOPICS OF Q1
2020 The most common types of actions across the country related to energy storage deployment (41), data access policies (32), utility business model reforms (31), distribution system planning (30), and rules related to advanced metering infrastructure opt-out (29). In Q1 2020, grid modernization activity increased by 13% over Q1 2019 and 72% over Q1 2018.
The states taking the greatest number of actions related to grid modernization in Q1 2020 can be seen in Figure 4. New York, California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota saw the most action during the quarter, followed by Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, and New Jersey. Overall, 47 states, plus DC, took actions related to grid modernization in Q1 2020
TOP GRID MODERNIZATION TRENDS OF Q1
2020 State Regulators Developing Energy Storage Interconnection Rules
A number of states are considering revisions to interconnection rules to include specific standards applicable to energy storage systems. Maryland regulators approved revised interconnection rules in March 2020, which include evaluation of energy storage projects based on net system capacity and proposed use. In Wisconsin, parties filed an energy storage interconnection supplement, and Colorado regulators are considering interconnection rule updates that include standards specific to storage. In November 2019, the Arizona Corporation Commission adopted distributed generation interconnection rules including energy storage provisions. Other states addressing energy storage interconnection rules include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Vermont.
States Considering Mechanisms to Encourage Microgrid Development
Although microgrids are widely viewed as a valuable element of grid modernization, barriers to the development of microgrids currently exist in many states. A number of states are considering different ways to address these barriers and to encourage greater microgrid development. Lawmakers in states such as Minnesota and New Hampshire are considering studies that would evaluate the potential of microgrids and how to advance microgrid development. Regulators in California and Hawaii are in the process of developing tariffs governing microgrid interconnection and compensation. Meanwhile, legislation under consideration in Maine and Michigan would establish exceptions to certain utility franchise and regulation rules to enable the development of microgrids by non-utilities. Other states, including California and New Jersey, are considering grant programs for microgrids.
Proposed Grid Modernization Legislation Focusing on Energy Storage
State lawmakers considered more than 215 bills related to grid modernization topics during Q1 2020, with the majority of these bills including provisions related to energy storage. Common topics addressed by proposed legislation include energy storage incentive programs (grants, rebates, property tax incentives, sales tax incentives, etc.), studies, and deployment targets.
As of late April 2020, state legislators had enacted 13 grid modernization bills. Legislation enacted in Washington authorizes energy storage as a qualified improvement for commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Lawmakers enacted several bills in Virginia, which include the creation of an energy storage target and a task force to study bulk energy storage resources. Bills related to energy storage remain under consideration in a number of states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Other major topics of 2020 proposed legislation include microgrids and advanced metering infrastructure opt-out and data access rules.
New Energy is now cost-competitive and reliable and these 6 countries are proving it. From Lezoria via YouTube
There are plenty of reasons to stop eating meat but the newest one, thanks to Covid, is not being able to get meat to eat.From CNBC Television via YouTube
If all goes well. If.From SciShow via YouTube
COVID-19 has tested governments around the world – here's what that means for the energy transition
Morgan Bazilian and David Victor, 13 May 2020 (World Economic Forum)
“…It is more critical than ever to look at countries’ readiness for the energy transition…There are many paths to low-carbon energy systems, and many ongoing energy transitions…[But] there are certain principles for policy design and implementation that can guide countries… [The World Economic Forum Energy Transition Index (ETI)] benchmarks countries both on their current energy system performance as well as their energy transition readiness…[The challenges are] less as matters of technological optimisation, and more as tests of institutional skill and political commitment…A key finding of the new report, Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2020, is about the pace and steadiness of change…
[Of 115 countries], only 14 have made consistent and measurable progress on their energy transition over the past six years…ETI’s energy transition readiness index – the future-looking measurement ¬– generally improved across most countries last year…[The priorities for policymakers and investors have] shifted, at least in the short term. How or when they will be able to refocus on energy transitions remains unclear…[C]urrent dislocations are highly likely to be further compounded by things like extreme weather events – creating a perfect storm of compounded disruptions, touching every corner of the planet…The framework for optimizing systems in planning or through policy has likely changed permanently…” click here for more
How did Michael Moore become a hero to climate deniers and the far right?
George Monbiot, 7 May 2020 (UK Guardian)
“…Long after [deniers’] last, desperate claims had collapsed, when they had traction only on “alt-right” conspiracy sites…[Planet of the Humans, whose executive producer and chief promoter is Michael Moore, now] promotes the discredited myths that deniers have used for years… There are real issues and real conflicts to be explored in seeking to prevent the collapse of our life support systems. But they are handled so clumsily and incoherently by this film that…Moore, former champion of the underdog, unwittingly aligns himself with white supremacists and the extreme right…[There are] genuine and difficult problems with renewable energy…But the film’s attacks on solar and wind power rely on a series of blatant falsehoods…On average, a solar panel generates 26 units of solar energy for every unit of fossil energy required to build and install it. For wind turbines the ratio is 44 to one…
Planet of the Humans also claims that you can’t reduce fossil fuel use through renewable energy…[But] in the third quarter of 2019, renewables in the UK generated more electricity than coal, oil and gas plants put together. As a result of the switch to renewables in this country, the amount of fossil fuel used for power generation has halved since 2010. By 2025, the government forecasts, roughly half our electricity will come from renewables…There is also a real story to be told about the co-option and capture of some environmental groups by the industries they should hold to account…[The film offers only population control as a] concrete solution to our predicament: the most toxic of all possible answers…Population is where you go when you don’t have the guts to face the structural, systemic causes of our predicament…” click here for more
Can new transmission tech boost capacity and save billions? Two proposals aim to find out; Advocates are pushing a "shared savings" approach to incentivize deployment, but system operators have doubts.
Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 3, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The nation needs more transmission but, more importantly, it needs 21st century transmission.
New grid-enhancing technologies (GETs) have been shown to cost-effectively increase the power existing transmission lines can carry and the services they can provide without compromising reliability, advocates, including former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Jon Wellinghoff, said at a Nov. 5-6 FERC workshop on the technologies. But the technologies' supporters want to replace the incentives that have so far driven limited deployment.
"These new digital technologies can do for the transmission system what smart meters did at the distribution level," Wellinghoff, now CEO at GridPolicy Consulting, told Utility Dive. "But they aren't being deployed because transmission developers have no incentive to use them. New proposals would change that by giving developers a share of the savings GETs will deliver."
GETs' high-speed awareness of system conditions has increased system capacity, efficiency and reliability at relatively little cost or risk, advocates said during the workshop. But only wider deployment will address system operators' limited experience with them. That is why technology providers and transmission owners asked FERC commissioners to consider a little-used performance-based incentive called "shared savings."
System operators expressed almost unanimous concern that "shared savings" will add an extra layer of complexity to the deployment of new transmission, while also noting that reliability would be threatened by deployment of new optimization software. But they offered no fully conceived alternatives that will provide the potential benefits that advocates say GETs can deliver.
GETs' digital monitoring and control of the 7 million mile U.S. transmission-distribution system could save customers an estimated $2 billion per year, the WATT Coalition of advanced transmission technology advocates and vendors reported in March 2018. GETs can also add vital flexibility to a power system with rising penetrations of variable and distributed renewable resources.
Three types of GETs are key, advocates told the FERC workshop. One is Power Flow Control, which prevents outages and relieves congestion by rerouting energy away from overloaded lines. Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) incorporates monitoring devices that read, or rate, a line's actual capacity which is greater than system operators' assumptions 95% to 98% of the time…Topology Optimization software automatically reconfigures power flow around congestion and distributes power more evenly over the system to increase energy throughput. It can generate tens of millions of dollars in cost savings in annual congestion reductions, a 2018 Brattle-NewGrid study found… click here for more
U.S. Renewables Produce More Electricity Than Coal During First Two Months Of 2020 As Solar Grows 32% And Wind 20%; Renewables Also Outpace Nuclear Power In February And Provide More Than 21% Of Nation’s Electricity
Ken Bossong, April 27, 2020 (Sun Day)
Renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) produced 10.6% more electricity than coal during the first two months of 2020 and also topped nuclear power in February…During the first two months of this year, solar-generated electricity expanded by 32.0% (compared to the same period in 2019) and provided almost 2.3% of the nation’s total while wind grew by 19.8% and accounted for over 8.7% of total generation…[Together, they] accounted for a bit more than 11.0% of total U.S. electrical production.
Combined with hydropower, biomass, and geothermal, renewables provided 20.3% of total electrical output…EIA’s data were even more dramatic for just the month of February when solar ballooned by 40.3% as wind expanded by 27.1%. Hydropower also experienced strong growth, increasing its output by 14.9% compared to a year earlier. The mix of all renewables provided 21.4% of the nation’s total electricity for the month. Moreover, renewables produced 21.9% more electricity than coal whose output was 30.0% lower than a year earlier. They also outperformed nuclear power by 3.6%...” click here for more
Q1 2020 edition of The 50 States of Solar
April 20, 2020 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)
OVERVIEW OF Q1 2020 POLICY ACTION
In the first quarter of 2020, 43 states plus DC took a total of 155 actions related to distributed solar policy and rate design (Figure 1). Table 1 provides a summary of state actions related to DG compensation, rate design, and solar ownership during Q1 2020. Of the 155 actions cataloged, the most common were related to DG compensation rules (48), followed by residential fixed charge and minimum bill increases (34), and community solar (32).
TOP FIVE SOLAR POLICY DEVELOPMENTS OF Q1 2020
Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.
Iowa Lawmakers Enact Net Metering Compromise Legislation
In March 2020, the Iowa General Assembly enacted legislation extending the availability of retail rate net metering until at least July 1, 2027 or when statewide DG penetration reaches 5%. At this point, a utility may petition the Iowa Utilities Board to develop a value of solar methodology, which may be used as the basis for outflow credit rates. The bill also prohibits utilities from treating DG customers as a separate rate class until the transition point.
Rocky Mountain Power Files Net Metering Export Credit Proposal in Utah
Rocky Mountain Power filed its proposed net billing program with Utah regulators in February 2020. The proposed tariff would credit DG customers for exported generation on a 15-minute interval basis at rates varying by time of day and season from 1.3247 cents per kWh to 2.6293 cents per kWh. The export credit rate is comprised of values for avoided energy cost, avoided line losses, and integration costs.
Kansas Supreme Court Overrules Mandatory Residential DG Demand Charge
In early April 2020, the Kansas Supreme Court overruled the Corporation Commission’s approval of Evergy’s mandatory demand charge for residential DG customers. Under Kansas law, utilities may not charge customers producing their own energy more than other customers based on that distinction. The matter has been remanded to the Corporation Commission to implement this decision.
Virginia Legislators Pass Array of Distributed Solar Bills
Virginia lawmakers passed nine bills making changes to distributed solar policies during the quarter, with the Governor signing several of these into law in April 2020. The bills increase the net metering aggregate cap, call for a net metering study when this cap is reached, and increase the system size limit. The bills also expand options for community solar and thirdparty ownership.
California Public Utilities Commission rejects Utilities’ Fixed Charge Proposals
The California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision in March 2020 rejecting fixed charge increases proposed by Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison. Additionally, the decision rejects proposed minimum bill increases, but authorizes annual increases in line with inflation. The Commission also rejected an optional high fixed charge rate option proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric.
THE BIG PICTURE: INSIGHTS FROM Q1 2020
Proposed Legislation Focused on Expanding Distributed Solar Options
State lawmakers considered at least 130 bills related to distributed solar policies during Q1 2020. While proposed legislation in previous sessions has often featured highly controversial net metering successor bills, states’ 2020 legislative session have thus far been tamer, with compromise legislation and bills expanding distributed solar options dominating discussions. Iowa lawmakers enacted compromise net metering successor legislation during the quarter, while the Virginia General Assembly passed several bills expanding net metering, community solar, and third-party ownership options in the state. In New Hampshire, legislation increasing the net metering system size limit is pending, and New Mexico lawmakers passed a memorial requesting that the legislative council convene a community solar working group.
States Blocking Additional Fees for DG customers
In Q1 2020, policymakers and regulators in multiple states took actions blocking the application of additional charges for customer-generators. The Kansas Supreme Court overruled the approval of Evergy’s mandatory demand charge for residential DG customers. Kansas is currently the only U.S. state with such charges in effect. In Iowa, lawmakers enacted net metering successor tariff legislation that prohibits utilities from charging customer-generators additional fees that are not applicable to other customers in the same rate class. The bill also does not allow utilities to propose a separate rate class for DG customers until at least July 2027. Furthermore, in Virginia, legislators passed bills limiting the ability for utilities to assess standby charges for residential DG customers.
States Opting for Slower, Study-Based Approaches to Net Metering Successor Tariff Development
Recently, states addressing net metering successor tariff development have been opting for slower, study-based approaches. In Iowa, legislation enacted during Q1 2020 maintains retail rate net metering until at least July 2027, when the Iowa Utilities Board may begin developing a value of solar methodology that can be used as the basis for compensating exported energy. Virginia lawmakers enacted legislation preserving net metering until increased aggregate capacity limits are reached. Once these caps are reached, the Commission is to study the costs and benefits of net metering before adopting revisions. Washington legislators pursued a similar approach last year, allowing for the creation of net metering successor tariffs after an increased aggregate cap is reached. Meanwhile, solar valuation studies are being conducted in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to inform net metering successor tariff development, and Idaho regulators recently rejected a net metering successor settlement in favor of conducting a comprehensive cost-benefit study
Michael Moore’s film got so many things wrong it is impossible to summarize them, but this gives the gist.From Front Page Live via YouTube
The curve of today’s biggest crisis, the virus, could be flattened within the year. Waiting until 2030 to address the climate crisis curve could mean it will take a century to flatten it. From Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe via YouTube
This the real way to make the country great again, as described by Sierra Club President Aaron Mair.From greenmanbucket via YouTube
In A Post-Pandemic World, Renewable Energy Is The Only Way Forward
Enrique Dans, May 3, 2020 (Forbes)
“…[The coronavirus is only the preliminary round and a much bigger and stronger opponent is waiting] called the climate emergency… In addition to being responsible for some seven million deaths annually, it makes us more vulnerable to all kinds of respiratory diseases, including, of course, those caused by viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which could also become seasonal and repetitive…[Not addressing it] is killing us…If one change could have a major impact on the climate emergency, it would be the pivot to renewable energy…Renewables accounted for 72% of new energy sources installed in 2019, backed by investments that could achieve returns of 800%. Coal, on the other hand, is a money-losing machine, and its economics are as toxic as its emissions.
Reconstructing the energy supply map of a country, even those in the developing world, has never made more sense… Australia plans to make huge savings from falling costs of renewables…Norway aims to electrify all its domestic flights by 2040…The United Kingdom has just gone for a record 23 days without using coal to power electricity generation, while American states like Iowa, Virginia and others are rethinking their plans, based on using renewable energy…Changing the world’s energy map seems like a costly thing to do, but in practice, it is cheap, especially if we factor in the disasters caused by fires, hurricanes, floods and so on…A post-pandemic economic reconstruction based on restructuring the energy map makes sense…The time has come…” click here for more