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.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, June16:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Climate Deniers Using The Law
  • New Energy Going Up, NatGas Use, Emissions Going Down

    THE DAY BEFORE

  • Monday’s Study: Keeping The Lights On In Texas
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: The Water-Wanting West
  • Weekend Video: Never Mind Water In The Idiocracy Future
  • Weekend Video: The American Clean Power Association Takes Center Stage
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Crisis Will Cost Two COVIDs
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Follow The Money To New Energy
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, June 9:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: California Reaches Out To The Rest Of The West
  • TTTA Wednesday-New Energy Taking Over
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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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  • FRIDAY WORLD, June 18:
  • Better Ways To Talk About The Climate
  • The World’s Huge New Energy Need

    Friday, June 18, 2021

    Better Ways To Talk About The Climate

    Tailoring climate change messaging for conservatives could shift understanding of crisis: Study; Researchers studied how to make climate change communication more persuasive.

    Julia Jacobo, June 14, 2021 (ABC News)

    “…Tailoring online messaging and advertising toward Republican voters could shift their views on climate change…[Research shows that in 2020,] 73% of Americans believed that global warming was happening, and 62% think that it was caused by human activities…[up from 2010’s] 57%...But, the shift in public opinion on climate change has largely been driven by Democrats…just 22% of Republicans said it should be a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ priority, compared to 83% of Democrats…

    …[A]ltering the messages to appeal to conservative ideals can increase Republicans' opinions of climate change…[according to a] one-month advertising campaign field experiment that tailored climate change-themed online messaging for conservative voters in two competitive districts -- Missouri-02 and Georgia-07…The campaign presented a series of videos called ‘New Climate Voices,’ which used social identity theory, elite cues and theories of persuasion presented by spokespersons who were likely to resonate with conservatives… [The videos increased by several percentage points] understanding among Republicans in the two districts on two topics: that global warming is happening and that it's being ‘caused mostly by human activities.’

    …The belief that climate change is ‘somewhat,’ ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ personally important and that it would cause ‘moderated’ to a ‘great deal’ of harm to future generations also increased…The tricky part is getting the messaging through in a competitive environment where people are fielding messages across multiple platforms…[and] it is unclear how much results might vary depending on geographic location or cultural context…” click here for more

    The World’s Huge New Energy Need

    The Future Of Wind Power Depends On Deployment

    Felicia Jackson, June 15, 2021 (Forbes)

    “Fossil fuel’s share in the energy mix is as high today as ten years ago, despite the falling costs of renewables. [With less than a decade to embed low carbon transition in the energy markets, politicians and policy makers must] stop talking and start acting…The coming decade is critical, as infrastructure built over the next few years will lock in path dependency for years to come…[The world needs to be installing wind power at around 3-4 times the level of 2020, which saw a record 93GW installed. In these scenarios, wind and solar PV make up 70% of electricity generation by 2050…

    Despite a growing acceptance that the world is facing a climate emergency, and increasing country and corporate commitments to net zero, fossil fossils have continued to dominate growing energy demand…[T]he share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix was 80.2% in 2019, compared to 80.3% in 2009, while renewables such as wind and solar made up 11.2% of the energy mix in 2019, up from 8.7% in 2009…It is increasingly clear that commitments alone are not enough.

    …Many existing planning frameworks, subsidy regimes and market designs are woefully out of date…The scale of renewable energy deployment is no longer about cost…The economic argument has been won, and there is no lack of appetite from investors…What is necessary is a change in culture around planning, permitting, priority access to the grid and subsidy regimes. One question as to whether or not the industry can scale up at such a rapid pace…[T]here are certain barriers to entry, for example the cost of infrastructure can be high…[But the] opportunities are as high as the potential investment…” click here for more

    Wednesday, June 16, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Climate Deniers Using The Law

    Arizona showdown: Lawmakers face regulators in fight over zero-emissions mandate; Conservatives say regulator's proposed zero-carbon mandate oversteps its constitutional authority while defenders say the legal debate is an excuse to impede the state's climate fight.

    Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 10, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: After this story ran, the legislature took control away from the commission and essentially stopped the zero-emissions initiative.

    Controversial proposed Arizona legislation would impose limits on the authority of the state's elected utility regulators and make their recent groundbreaking zero-emissions mandate unconstitutional.

    Senate Bill 1175 expresses longstanding concerns from some lawmakers regarding overreach by the elected Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), stakeholders agreed. But those concerns were aggravated by the ACC's November approval of draft energy rules that included a zero emissions by 2050 mandate for electric utilities in the state, seen by some as an attempt to reverse the 2018 defeat of Proposition 127 and its 50% renewables by 2030 mandate.

    Legislators are following Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's lead in attempting to amend Arizona law and prevent ACC from using its constitutional power to set "critical energy generation" policy. "I want to see the corporation commission setting rates and the legislature setting energy policy and I hope that will be straightened out in this session," Ducey told the Arizona Chamber of Commerce Jan. 15.

    The ACC voted 4-1 Nov. 13 to approve its draft rules. Three Republicans and one Democrats voted in favor, with only Republican Commissioner Justin Olson voting against. But the debate over SB 1175 has turned highly partisan, and opponents believe its inception was driven largely by that November vote.

    The legislation "seems to be about the clean energy rules and not the constitutional issue because it is suspiciously retroactive to June 30, just before ACC staff filed the rules in July," said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Engel, who is leading opposition to the legislation. "And I have not been impressed by Republican bill supporters' constitutional arguments, which seem really about opposition to the clean energy rules."

    The 2050 mandate can grow Arizona's economy and jobs, many in the business community say, but advocates for SB 1175 say the rules could raise electricity rates. The bill debate, however, centers on interpretations of constitutional law, and the final word may come from Arizona's Supreme Court after a long legal battle, both sides acknowledged… click here for more

    New Energy Going Up, NatGas Use, Emissions Going Down

    Short-Term Energy Outlook

    June 8, 2021 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    …We forecast that retail sales of electricity in the United States will increase by 2.3% in 2021 after falling by 3.9% in 2020. The largest increase in consumption will occur in the residential sector, where [due primarily to 1Q cold temperatures] we forecast retail sales of electricity will grow by 2.8% this year…[The forecast increase in electricity consumption in the commercial and industrial sectors reflects improving economic conditions in 2021…We expect the share of electric power generation produced by natural gas in the United States will [due to an average $4.09/MMBtu in 2021 compared with an average of $2.39/MMBtu in 2020price] average 36% in 2021 and 35% in 2022, down from 39% in 2020…

    …[The renewables share of U.S. generation [is forecast to] rise from 20% in 2020 to 21% in 2021 and to 23% in 2022…[T]he U.S. electric power sector added 14.8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity in 2020. We expect 16.0 GW of new wind capacity will come online in 2021 and 5.3 GW in 2022. Utility-scale solar capacity rose by an estimated 10.5 GW in 2020. Our forecast for added utility-scale solar capacity is 15.5 GW 2021 and 16.6 GW for 2022…[plus] 4 GW to 5 GW of small-scale solar capacity…

    We estimate that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased by 11% in 2020 as a result of less energy consumption related to reduced economic activity and responses to COVID-19. In 2021, we forecast energy-related CO2 emissions will increase about 6% from the 2020 level as economic activity increases and leads to rising energy use…” click here for more

    Monday, June 14, 2021

    Monday Study – Keeping The Lights On In Texas

    Never Again: How To Prevent Another Major Texas Electricity Failure

    Pat Wood III (PUCT Chairman 1995-2001, FERC Chairman 2001-2005), Robert W. Gee (PUCT Chairman/Commissioner, 1991-1997), Judy Walsh (PUCT Commissioner 1995-2001), Brett Perlman (PUCT Commissioner 1999-2003), Becky Klein (PUCT Commissioner/Chairman 2001-2004), Alison Silverstein (PUCT advisor 1995-2001, FERC advisor 2001-2004), June 3, 2021 (The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation)

    The historic weather system that hit the South Central United States in February 2021 led to the deaths of nearly 200 Texans[1] and caused over $100 billion in damages to Texans’ homes and property.[2] Its impacts on power, natural gas, water, and transportation infrastructure were profound, leading the power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), to order all local utilities to immediately decrease power demand early on February 15. This grid reliability order led to cuts in electric service to over four million premises, leaving millions of Texans out of power and in miserable conditions for up to four days.

    The Texas Legislature has sent to Governor Abbott new statutes to address some of the problems that contributed to this disaster. But beyond these new laws, Texas has more work ahead to protect customers and ensure that our energy infrastructure works adequately. The February outages were triggered by an extreme weather event but were exacerbated by underlying problems that affected the entire energy system from the production of natural gas to the delivery of electricity to the customer.

    These problems extend beyond the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to include parts of the energy system regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Reliability Entity, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, all of which bear some responsibility for the reliability of our energy system. If Texas is to mitigate future energy system disasters and restore our state’s reputation, we must do more than just tighten governance on ERCOT and the PUCT, weatherize power plants, patch the electric market, and reform some utility and retail practices.

    As past PUCT Commissioners, the authors helped to design and implement many elements of ERCOT’s electric system and market structure between 1995 and 2004. The mission of the PUCT is to protect customers, foster competition, and promote high-quality infrastructure. Until this February, the Texas electricity system had largely achieved that goal. We created a strong, competitive, reliable electricity system whose overall performance for more than 20 years lowered electric bills for all customer classes, created innovative options for electricity customers, attracted an unprecedented level of new natural gas and renewable generation, and kept the lights on as our state population grew by 40%.

    While the February 2021 event was clearly unprecedented, prior outages should have provided a wake-up call to policymakers and regulators to address reliability issues. The events of February 2021 resulted from several policy failures as well as from operational and planning failures across our state’s electric, natural gas and water systems. We must address the causes of this winter’s weather challenge and prepare to deal with emerging economic, technology and extreme weather realities.

    Texas is the world’s ninth-largest economy. We owe it to our families and fellow citizens to learn from this event, plan for the future, and do the right thing for the good of Texas. We offer the following observations and 20 recommendations, which are organized based on the outage’s contributing factors. Some of these require further legislative action; others can and should be implemented by the PUCT under existing authorities.

    Problem 1¬—Almost half of ERCOT’s gas, coal and nuclear plants failed to produce when needed

    ERCOT’s publicly released data[3] and other analyses indicate that almost 9 GW (8%) of ERCOT’s generation fleet was already out for maintenance on February 14 and another 22 GW (21%) of ERCOT’s total generation fleet failed before 1am on February 15, when ERCOT was forced to initiate customer load-shedding. Natural gas generators represented the greatest loss of production (26 GW, including units out for maintenance). Most of those plants failed due to insufficient preparation for the intense winter storm and/or because fuel became unavailable (whether on-site, like coal plants, or due to lack of natural gas availability or delivery capability). Forty-six percent of ERCOT’s total thermal generation capacity was unavailable or failed during the outage.[4] SB3, the new reliability statute, requires the PUCT to adopt power plant winterization standards, informed by adverse weather forecasts, with compliance requirements and penalties for non-performance. This is a good start, particularly given that a recent analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas suggests that the weatherization of Texas gas and wind power plants would be cost-effective.[5] The PUCT and ERCOT will have to ensure that these standards are appropriately rigorous and receive adequate enforcement.

    SB3 directs the PUCT to examine ancillary services and incentives for dispatchable generation such as natural gas plants, and modify the design, procurement, and cost allocation of ancillary services to assure that appropriate services are available for weather emergencies. ERCOT and the PUCT are also directed to look at whether dual-fuel capability, fuel storage and different fuel procurement supply policies are appropriate solutions for extreme weather performance. The statute even calls for operation under drought conditions. These measures are a good start to assure that gas-fired power plants retain reliable fuel access.

    Recommendation 1-1—Mandatory weatherization to minimum standards for natural gas production and pipelines, with meaningful enforcement…

    Problem 2—Electric demand skyrocketed 20% over forecast

    In February, Texas and its neighboring states experienced a multi-day run of Arctic temperatures and winds that drove ERCOT electricity demand for heating to unprecedented levels. As much as 35 GW (over 40%) of the total Texas electric demand was for heating. Much of Texas’ housing stock has little or no insulation and relies only on electric resistance heaters rather than gas heat, but at such low temperatures, uninsulated homes cannot be heated effectively. This drove ERCOT’s winter electricity demand to unprecedented levels; had ERCOT not called rolling outages early in the morning on February 15th, we were on the way to an all-time system peak later that day. Between leaky buildings, lack of electricity and poor public communications, over 100 Texans died of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning during the February blackout.

    Texas must fix this by improving the energy efficiency of our buildings. Over half of Texas homes were built before the state adopted building energy codes with insulation requirements in 2001. And over 60% of Texas homes are heated with electricity rather than gas. If these homes had energy-efficient building shells and heaters before February 14, that could have reduced electricity demand by at least 15 GW—enough to drop peak demand down to 62 GW and offset the loss of most of the generators that failed on February 14 and 15. Estimates developed for the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that Texas could use cost-effective energy efficiency measures to reduce 2030 residential electricity use by 18.5% and total electricity sales by 17%.[6]

    Recommendation 2-1—Update Texas building energy codes and require them to be automatically updated as international building codes are updated…Recommendation 2-2—Raise TDU energy efficiency program goals to increase both annual kWh savings and peak reduction…Recommendation 2-3—Increase energy efficiency retrofits for low-income and multi-family housing across Texas…Recommendation 2-4—Increase demand response for grid emergencies…

    Problem 3—Distribution utilities didn’t rotate outages, leaving two-thirds of Texans without electricity for up to 70 hours

    SB3 requires the PUCT and utilities to update criteria and recognition of critical residential customers and critical facilities. It also requires the utilities to conduct annual load-shed exercises. These are valuable first steps. But if Texas identifies more critical customers yet cannot manage distribution outages more effectively, this measure may not help us better manage future outages.

    Texas’ electric utilities had to cut service to millions of customers because the critical facilities (those they knew of) are located on large circuits serving large numbers of customers and high electric loads on every circuit. Once those circuits were protected, there was no electricity left to serve the remaining circuits that don’t serve critical facilities, so all the remaining circuits were cut. Although utilities aim to rotate small-scale outages across many circuits, in February there were so many circuits out relative to the available generation that there was no way for the utilities to rotate the outage burden among circuits and customers. Thus, many customers on circuits without critical facilities stayed out of power for several days in a row. The lack of outage rotation in February was the most customer-impacting part of this disaster—many homes reached freezing temperatures during multi-day outages, causing many deaths from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning, and millions of frozen pipes and damaged property and possessions.

    This outage management process must be overhauled. It is easier to manage outages and rotate outages fairly if circuits containing critical facilities are smaller and require less power, and if non-critical circuits are smaller so that outage burdens can be shared. Dividing the grid into smaller operational segments will enable the utilities to conduct smaller, more granular and targeted outages affecting fewer customers.

    Texas customers have funded major utility investments in smart meters and other smart grid infrastructure. But the utilities have not yet leveraged these investments for better outage management. Extreme weather conditions are a perfect opportunity to deliver that functionality. Until it is clear that meter functionality and control capability can be used dependably for surgical outage management, other solutions are needed…

    Recommendation 3-1—Require TDUs to modify distribution circuits for more granular outage management…Recommendation 3-2—Require large industrial and commercial customers to be able to reduce load remotely…Recommendation 3-3—Require all critical facilities to have two days’ worth of backup power

    Problem 4—Poor demand and supply forecasting and planning by ERCOT…Recommendation 4-1—ERCOT should improve demand forecasting capabilities…Recommendation 4-2—ERCOT should broaden its use of scenario analysis with more aggressive worst-case outcomes…Recommendation 4-3—Acknowledge changing extreme weather threats…

    Problem 5—Power market operation was ineffective…Recommendation 5-1—Evaluate whether ERCOT needs different winter versus summer planning, operations and protocols…Recommendation 5-2—Reassess requirements and compensation for black-start capacity and test and drill twice/year…Recommendation 5-3—Do not add an out-of-market “generation capacity reserve” scheme…

    Problem 6—Inadequate or inappropriate governance…Recommendation 6-1—Strengthen Texas’ Public Utility Commission…Recommendation 6-2—Give ERCOT an independent, expert Board of Directors…Recommendation 6-3—Establish active reliability compliance oversight…Recommendation 6-4—Study the potential benefits and costs of adding additional high-voltage transmission between ERCOT and its neighboring interconnections…

    Problem 7—We don’t have full information on the contributing causes of the blackout and the sequence of events and actions by ERCOT, power plants, fuel suppliers, regulators, and customers before and during the event…Recommendation 7-1—Release all Texas investigative findings to the public…Recommendation 7-2—Routinely collect data on all grid and fuel supply failures and make it public…

    Conclusions

    SB3 and other new statutes adopted by the Texas Legislature have provided a swift and focused response to the February disaster, but there is more work to be done to address all of the causes of the February 2021 Arctic outage and prepare for the challenges ahead.

    This paper offers a broad set of recommendations; with multiple investigations under way, we hope to learn more to refine these and other solutions in the future. Although the Legislature has taken initial action, many of the recommendations above can be implemented by the PUCT, RRC and ERCOT under existing statutory authorities, as indicated in the table below.

    Saturday, June 12, 2021

    The Water-Wanting West

    Lake Mead is at 37% of it’s capacity. “It’s an existential issue…” From CBS This Morning via YouTube

    Never Mind Water In The Idiocracy Future

    This is what it has been like talking to climate change deniers for the last decade. From Dan Nguyen via YouTube

    The American Clean Power Association Takes Center Stage

    White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and other national and New Energy industry leaders address the Clean Power Virtual Summit 2021 and talk about the need for an energy transition. From via YouTube

    Friday, June 11, 2021

    The Climate Crisis Will Cost Two COVIDs

    Climate crisis to shrink G7 economies twice as much as Covid-19, says research; G7 countries will lose $5tn a year by 2050 if temperatures rise by 2.6C

    Fiona Harvey, 7 June 2021 (UK Guardian)

    The economies of rich countries will shrink by twice as much as they did in the Covid-19 crisis if they fail to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions…The G7 countries – the world’s biggest industrialised economies – will lose 8.5% of GDP a year, or nearly $5tn wiped off their economies, within 30 years if temperatures rise by 2.6C, as they are likely to on the basis of government pledges and policies around the world…

    The economies of G7 nations contracted by about 4.2% on average in the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic losses from the climate crisis by 2050 would be roughly on the scale of suffering a similar crisis twice every year…The UK’s economy would lose 6.5% a year by 2050 on current policies and projections, compared with 2.4% if the goals of the Paris climate agreement are met.

    Other nations will be hit much worse, including India, whose economy will shrink by a quarter owing to a 2.6C temperature increase, while Australia will suffer a loss of 12.5% of output, and South Korea will lose nearly a tenth of its economic potential…The modelling by the insurance firm Swiss Re took account of the forecast direct impacts of climate breakdown, including extreme weather such as droughts and floods, as well as the effects on agricultural productivity, health and heat stress…” click here for more

    Follow The Money To New Energy

    Green Finance Goes Mainstream, Lining Up Trillions Behind Global Energy Transition; After years of intermittent excitement and fizzled expectations, environmental-oriented investing is no longer just a niche interest

    Scott Patterson and Amrith Ramkumar, May 22, 2021 (Wall Street Journal)

    “Some of the world’s biggest companies and deepest-pocketed investors are lining up trillions of dollars to finance a shift away from fossil fuels…Assets in investment funds focused partly on the environment reached almost $2 trillion globally in the first quarter, more than tripling in three years. Investors are putting $3 billion a day into these funds. More than $5 billion worth of bonds and loans designed to fund green initiatives are now issued every day. The two biggest U.S. banks pledged $4 trillion in climate-oriented financing over the next decade….

    Money has been pouring into ESG investment funds focused on environmental, social and corporate-governance issues…After years of intermittent excitement followed by fizzled expectations, green finance is now looking less like the niche interest of socially conscious investors and more like a sustainable gold rush. Driven by surging valuations for electric-vehicle companies such as Tesla Inc. TSLA 2.61% and startup battery producers, banks and investors are betting the transition from fossil fuels is here to stay, and that they can make money by getting behind it, further entrenching the shift….Behind the geyser of capital is a confluence of forces. Big money managers see opportunities for substantial profits, and they also worry about financial risks associated with climate change. Many of their clients—giant pension funds and fast-trading young investors alike—want to put their wallets behind projects that aim to curb environmental damage…

    And many governments around the world are boosting spending on environmental issues and instituting new regulations on the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change…Even if investors and governments suffer losses, the inflow of cash could produce innovations in areas like batteries that are needed to significantly reduce carbon emissions…As recently as 2014, the world’s energy companies spent $735 billion on oil-and-gas extraction. The figure was less than half that last year, while spending on wind and solar projects rose to nearly $220 billion, up from about $135 billion six years earlier, according to Rystad Energy, a consulting firm. Some analysts predict spending on renewable energy will exceed oil and gas in the next several years…” click here for more

    Wednesday, June 09, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: California Reaches Out To The Rest Of The West

    CAISO’s Energy Imbalance Market Has Taken Big Steps but Faces Competition

    Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 2, 2020 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: Stakeholders in this potentially powerful market continue to make steady progress toward getting into business.

    California’s energy imbalance market (EIM) had a good 2020. It passed $1 billion in total benefits, added two powerhouse participants, and filed its first plan for expanding into day-ahead trading. But the question of how California can share decision-making with other states continues to block that expansion and potential participants are looking at alternatives.

    The voluntary EIM was launched by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and the California Independent System Operator in November 2014 to optimize real time dispatch. At the end of the third quarter of this year, the real-time market had generated $1.1 billion in energy savings and other benefits.

    The EIM operated by CAISO has 11 active participants. Xcel Enery subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado and Avangrid applied for entry this year, making for 11 applicants and an expected 22 participants by the end of 2022.

    After the 2018 California legislature’s third rejection of proposed CAISO governance changes to allow it to work with other states in a regional market, CAISO and stakeholders began developing a voluntary Extended Day-Ahead Market that would expand the EIM’s 5% of energy trading in the West’s 38 balancing areas to almost 100%.

    Multiple solutions to the two key challenges: 1) transmission planning and charges across jurisdictions and 2) guarantees among participants that they will meet their obligations have been proposed.

    But expansion will only be possible if the conundrum of market governance is resolved. The difficulty is that California leaders want to protect the state from federal regulation and other states’ control while other Western leaders require a more open CAISO governance structure that allows them to participate in decision-making. Reconciling this contradiction will require new market rules agreed to by the EIM Governing Body and the CAISO board, an October 2019 CAISO paper reportedclick here for more

    New Energy Taking Over

    Solar And Wind Provided 93.8% Of New U.S. Generating Capacity In First Third Of 2021; Wind + Solar Are 15% Of Total U.S. Generating Capacity

    Ken Bossong, June 7, 2021 (SUN DAY Campaign)

    “…[Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) data shows] wind and solar resources provided nearly all (93.84%) of the new electrical generating capacity added in the U.S. during the first four months of 2021…Utility-scale renewable energy facilities collectively now account for 24.77% of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity and continue to expand…The generating capacity of just wind is now more than a tenth (10.24%) of the nation's total while wind and solar combined account for 14.96%...[not including] distributed (e.g., rooftop) solar…

    FERC found that renewables’ share of generating capacity is on track to be 28.83% of installed capacity by April 2024, with wind and solar 19.33%] of the nation's installed generating capacity…[Coal’s share] is expected to drop to 16.55% (from 19.28% today), nuclear's to 7.63% (from 8.21%), and oil's to 2.75% (from 3.14%). Natural gas' share will also decline to 44.06%, compared to 44.42% now…” click here for more

    Monday, June 07, 2021

    Monday Study – Bringing New Energy To Transportation

    Pathways to Build Back Better: Investing in Transportation Decarbonization

    John Larsen, Ben King, Hannah Kolus, and Emily Wimberger, May 13, 2021 (Rhodium Group)

    Washington is revving up its engines in a push to step up investments in transportation infrastructure. While it’s unclear just what will make it into a final package, the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan and leading members of Congress are making transportation electrification a priority. Transportation is currently the largest emitting sector in the US. Unlike the electric power sector, there are no easy options for quickly swapping out fossil fuels with clean energy.

    In this note, we assess the energy system and emissions impacts of potential new, long-term federal investments in on-road decarbonization and how investments might interact with potential new vehicle regulations. We find that federal investment in the form of long-term extensions of current tax credits coupled with a build-out of charging infrastructure can catapult electric vehicles (EVs) from 2% of all light-duty vehicle (LDV) sales in 2020 to as high as 52% of all LDV sales in 2031. Targeted public spending on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, transit buses, and school buses can make even more decarbonization progress, while also cutting harmful air pollution. The combined impact of all investments we consider in this analysis, along with potential EPA regulations that put EVs on a path to 100% of light-duty sales in 2035, achieves CO2 emission reductions of nearly 180 million tons in 2031, roughly equal to 11% of 2020 sector emissions. These outcomes can be achieved with no net increase in total costs for many consumers.

    The long road to a decarbonized transportation sector

    In 2017 the transportation sector overtook electric power as the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the US and now represents 31% of total net GHG emissions. The COVID-19 lockdowns and recession hit transportation emissions harder than any other sector in 2020. We estimate that fewer people flying and commuting cut emissions in the sector by 15% compared to 2019 levels. As more Americans get vaccinated and the economy recovers, transportation emissions will likely recover too. At best, emissions will be flat in the early 2020s and then decline slowly through 2030 as new vehicles get marginally more efficient and EVs become a meaningful part of the market (Figure 1). To accelerate progress, new action to deploy zero-emitting vehicles and enabling infrastructure will be necessary.

    Any action to decarbonize transportation through electrification will require ambitious and sustained effort to accelerate deployment of electric vehicles as quickly as possible. Why the urgency? Unlike the electric power sector where a hard pivot from fossil energy to clean energy is entirely doable, it will take decades to replace all of the conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles on the road today with electric models. For example, even if the US can meet a 100% EV sales target in 2030, one of the most aggressive goals on the table, conventional fossil fuel vehicles won’t be completely off of America’s highways until 2045 (Figure 2). In any given year, only a small portion of cars on the road are brand new. It takes time for existing stock to turnover. Going forward, every vehicle sale matters in the race to electrify and decarbonize transportation.

    Investment in electric vehicles is trending

    It’s spring in Washington, DC, and, like the azaleas and cherry blossoms, policy proposals for infrastructure investment and decarbonization are coming out in full force. The White House released its American Jobs Plan at the end of March, which includes a wide range of policies intended to build infrastructure, create jobs, and address GHG emissions in all parts of the transportation sector. Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden’s Clean Energy for America Act, cosponsored by 24 Democratic colleagues in the Senate, includes tax credits for electric vehicles and clean transportation fuels. Other proposals from last Congress are still very much in the conversation as well, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Clean Cars for America proposal as well as the Driving America Forward Act to expand the current tax credit for electric vehicles proposed by Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Representative Dan Kildee. House Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair Mike Thompson’s Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act also includes the Driving America Forward Act proposals. Other members of Congress have introduced more targeted bills, including support for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a clean energy manufacturing tax credit that will likely support manufacturing of electric vehicles, batteries and other components manufacturing.

    We combine elements from many of these proposals to estimate the energy system impacts of a package of policies that invest in transportation decarbonization. This illustrative package is by no means the only investment pathway to decarbonize transportation, but it does start to draw down emissions in several of the largest emitting transportation subsectors. Specifically, the package we model includes the following provisions available from 2022-2031:

    Light-duty vehicle (LDV) purchase incentives: Consumers can receive up to $7,500 for the purchase of a battery-electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle. The credit is available for all new electric vehicle purchases, without a cap on the number of credits available for a given manufacturer.

    Public LDV charging grants: State and local governments and the private sector receive funding to build out a national EV charging network required for the expanded LDV EV fleet on the road.

    Medium-duty (MDV) and heavy-duty (HDV) vehicle purchase incentives: Purchasers of all-electric MDVs and HDVs receive a 10% investment tax credit (ITC). Purchasers of electric HDVs are exempted from the 12% federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks.

    Electric bus incentives: Federal grant programs pay the incremental cost of battery-electric transit and school buses and associated charging infrastructure and upgrades.

    We model these policies in RHG-NEMS, a version of the Energy Information Administration’s National Energy Modeling System modified and maintained by Rhodium Group. For the purposes of this note, we use our Taking Stock 2020 V-shaped macroeconomic recovery baseline, which includes current federal and state policy on the books through May 2020. Notably for a discussion of the transportation sector, this includes modeling state zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) mandates and low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS).

    We make several modifications to the Taking Stock 2020 baseline. First, we include a second, lower lithium-ion battery price pathway based on forecasts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Second, the Biden administration is reviewing the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule, which is the current LDV fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards established by the Trump administration. That review is still under way, but in order to not overstate the impacts of an investment package relative to baseline, we assume the Biden administration replaces the SAFE rule with standards that achieve targets first implemented by the Obama administration, with a one-year delay. We also assume such new standards follow similar annual improvements in fuel economy from 2026 through 2031. As we discuss in a later section of this note, the Biden administration could choose to adopt still-more-stringent standards than the Obama-era standards.

    Finally, we pair our transportation investment pathway results with carbon intensity of electricity outputs from the investment pathway in our recent power sector investment note, resulting in lower GHG emissions per kilowatt-hour for electricity relative to current policy.

    Putting the electric vehicle pedal to the metal…Sparking a revolution in public charging…Amping up EV sales even further…

    Beyond light-duty vehicles, electrification is a heavier lift

    The medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (MDV and HDV) subsectors represent a diverse array of vehicle types and uses, from delivery vans and garbage trucks to utility vehicles and semis. Electrification is a more cost-effective option for decarbonization for some MDVs and HDVs, while other approaches, like low-carbon hydrogen, biofuels, or electrofuels, may be better suited for other applications. The scope of this note is limited to a discussion of electrification.

    To estimate the effects of the potential investment package for electric MDVs and HDVs described above, we first estimate the impact the policy has on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an electric vehicle relative to a conventional fuel (i.e., diesel or gasoline) vehicle.[1] By 2030, our modeled incentives—a 10% ITC for MDVs and HDVs and HDVs and an excise tax exemption for HDVs—can drive EVs to or below TCO parity with conventional vehicles in some smaller vehicle classes and reduce the gap in others (Figure 5). Particularly for larger vehicles (Class 6-8), a BEV is still more expensive on a lifetime basis. This is a function of range and weight with higher class vehicles needing larger, more expensive batteries.

    We assume that the spending programs in our investment scenario are enough to accelerate MDV and HDV deployment to match NREL’s EFS high scenario.[2] Under our investment scenario, we see EVs reaching 24% and 16% of MDV and HDV sales, respectively in 2031 (Figure 6). This is a significant increase from the low levels of deployment that occur under current policy.

    Buses are another important part of the transportation sector to electrify. In addition to climate-warming greenhouse gases, MDVs and HDVs, including buses, are large sources of other pollutants that negatively impact public health, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx). School buses in particular are a public health threat for children, where diesel fumes can harm still-developing lungs.

    We model the energy system effects of a set of grant and incentive programs targeted specifically at transit and school buses. We structure the incentives to be sufficient to pay down the total incremental upfront cost of the transition to a battery-electric bus, including the higher vehicle purchase price as well as the build-out of charging infrastructure. While electric buses have a significant upfront cost relative to their diesel counterparts, transit authorities and school districts will save money in the long run due to the lower cost of fuel and maintenance. For transit buses, we estimate BEVs will comprise 63% of sales by 2031 and will completely phase out the sales of diesel buses by 2030 (Figure 7). For school buses, we estimate BEVs will comprise 85% of sales in 2031 and 20% of all school buses on the road that year, achieving the target outlined in the AJP.

    Shifting gears from fossil to clean transportation

    Taken together, this suite of federal investments in electrification leads to a 775-831 trillion British thermal units (TBTU) drop in fossil fuels in 2031 compared to current policy. Fossil fuel consumption is replaced with 491-510 TBTU of electricity. This translates to a 4-5% reduction in gasoline and diesel demand and a 77-119% increase in transportation sector electricity demand from new electric vehicles. The energy shift from fossil to electricity is not one-to-one given the substantially higher road efficiency of electric vehicles.

    The net GHG emissions result of these shifts in the transportation sector is a 114 to 125 million metric ton reduction relative to current policy in 2031—a 24-26% reduction in total transportation emissions from 2005 levels, compared to a 22% reduction under current policy (Figure 8). The majority of these reductions are attributable to fewer gas and diesel vehicles on the road. But a cleaner electric grid in the investment scenarios relative to current policy helps to mitigate the power sector emissions increase from the higher use of electricity, contributing to further net reductions.

    We estimate this transportation investment package would have an average budget impact to the federal government of $34.6-$44.3 billion per year over 2022-2031. The majority of that impact, $29.4-$39.1 billion per year, is for incentives for electric LDVs. It is important to note that for purposes of legislative budget scorekeeping, the estimates that matter come from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, not the estimates we present here. If either organization uses different approaches to quantifying the impact of investment, the associated budget cost estimates could be far different from ours.

    Our budget cost estimates are two orders of magnitude larger than the estimated cost of current EV tax credits. While not explored in this analysis, there are options for reducing budget costs while still roughly maintaining the energy and emissions outcomes we present above. One option is to avoid paying incentives for the sale of electric luxury cars where buyers are far less likely to be price sensitive. This could be done by requiring incentive eligible electric vehicles to have a retail price below a certain threshold. Alternatively, incentives could be contingent on EV buyers meeting certain income requirements. While such an approach has the potential to be cumbersome, it could prevent wealthy individuals from monetizing the tax credit for EVs they may buy anyway.

    Investment can complement regulatory action…Investment can reduce the consumer cost of regulatory action…

    Next steps

    If a major clean energy investment package is going to make a difference, it first has to get through Congress. The ultimate size and scope of a package and the process for getting it to President Biden’s desk is still unclear. What we know is that a major investment in clean transportation has the potential to get the nation a few miles further down the long road of decarbonization. We’ll continue to monitor developments and assess just how far Congress may be willing to go on clean transportation in 2021…