NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

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

YESTERDAY

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

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

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

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

  • MONDAY’S STUDY: New Energy Costs Get Better
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Offers An Even Better Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Historic New Energy Acceleration Coming

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

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

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

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

    Monday, January 20, 2020

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

    Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2019

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

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

    A Coal-Driven Decline

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

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

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

    Little Progress Elsewhere

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

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

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

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

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

    Coming up Short on Climate Targets

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

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

    Saturday, January 18, 2020

    Documented: A Whole Continent’s Climate Has Changed

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

    World’s Biggest Money Fund Calls Out Climate Crisis

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

    Welcome To The "Solar-Plus" Decade

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

    Friday, January 17, 2020

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

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

    Rupert Steiner, January 14, 2020 (MarketWatch)

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

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

    New Energy’s Century

    How Far Has Renewable Energy Come In The Last 20 Years

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

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

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

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Amazon Workers Demand Climate Action

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

    Alyssa Newcomb, January 4, 2020 (Fortune)

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

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

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    MONDAY’S STUDY: New Energy Costs Get Better

    Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 13.0

    November 2019 (Lazard)

    Introduction

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

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

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

    • Historical LCOE comparison of various utility-scale generation technologies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Summary of assumptions utilized in Lazard’s LCOE analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Summary Considerations

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

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

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

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

    Saturday, January 11, 2020

    Australia On Fire

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

    Trevor Noah On The Climate Crisis

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

    Tesla’s Battery Is Driving (The Market)

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