NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2018 - 05/01/2018/


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.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • 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




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


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

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Monday, April 30, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Rooftop Solar Is NOT Just For Rich Folks

    Income Trends of Residential PV; Adopters An analysis of household-level income estimates

    Galen Barbose, Naïm Darghouth, Ben Hoen, and Ryan Wiser, April 2018 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Objective: Describe income trends among U.S. residential solar adopters, highlighting trends related to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households

    Unique features of this analysis – Household-level income estimates: Experian* address-level income estimates allows for more-precise characterization of PV-adopter incomes – Relatively extensive coverage of the U.S. solar market:

    Based on Berkeley Lab’s latest Tracking the Sun (TTS) dataset, covering ~82% of the total U.S. market (with street addresses for ~63% of the market)

    Scope – Rooftop solar on single-family homes: Underlying data consist primarily of single-family rooftop PV, but later work may extend analysis to multi-family homes and also to community solar subscribers – Systems installed through 2016 in 13 states: Focuses on states in latest TTS dataset with address data available for large fraction of the market; later work may evaluate more-recent adopters and additional states – Basic descriptive trends: Focus here is on establishing basic trends, but later work may examine underlying causal factors more directly, using more-sophisticated statistical methods

    This work seeks to refine and expand upon prior analyses of PV adopter income trends

    • Prior analyses have examined PV-adopter income and other demographic trends: – Kevala, Center for American Progress, GTM and PowerScout, UC Energy Institute, CT Green Bank, Energy+Environmental Economics, SolarPulse, NREL, others

    • Though their data and methods vary, these prior studies generally: – Focus on somewhat limited geographies (single states or several larger state markets) – Rely on median incomes at the block-group or zip-code level as proxies for individual PV-adopter incomes (or, in limited cases, survey data from a sample of households) – Are somewhat dated

    • These studies have yielded mixed results and messages: – Some show that PV adopters tend to be more affluent and educated than non-adopters, while perhaps highlighting an attenuation of this trend over time – Others emphasize that middle-class adopters are most common and that their numbers have risen over time – Varying conclusions about the role of TPO in driving LMI adoption

    Experian household income estimates Used to characterize income of PV households…Census data Used to characterize income of broader population…A note on defining the “reference” population

    • Throughout the analysis, PV adopters are compared or characterized relative to some “reference” population

    • These reference populations can vary according to their geographical scope – Our analysis uses reference populations based on MSAs, states, and the collection of all states

    • Reference populations can also be defined in terms of sub-populations within a given geographical area – We consider reference populations based on:

    (a) all households (HH) as well as

    (b) just owner-occupied households (OO-HH) – Ideally, we would also use reference populations based on just owner-occupied, single-family households (as most PV adopters fall within this group), but Census data do not provide income segmented by single vs. multi-family

    The median income of all PV adopters is notably higher than other HHs, but difference is much smaller when compared to just OO-HHs

    • Median income of all PV adopters in the sample is $32k (54%) higher than all HH

    • But more than half of that difference is associated with home ownership – Home ownership rates much higher for HHs above state median income (77%, on average) than below (44%); see slide 31 in appendix for additional details – Standard “split incentive” barrier endemic to distributed energy resources generally, including energy efficiency

    • Median income of PV adopters is $13k (17%) higher than that of all OO-HH • Gap is amplified by the concentration of PV adopters in relatively high-income states – Pulls PV median upward, while medians for all HHs and OO-HHs reflect distribution of broader population

    Similar trends exhibited in most states, with greatest PV-adopter income disparities in states with relatively low statewide incomes

    • PV-adopter median incomes across the 13 states in the sample are ~$20k$30k (30%-70%) higher than for all HH • Differences consistently much smaller when comparing to just OO-HH

    • Gap between PV adopters and all OOHHs vary with overall statewide income levels – Gap is smaller for high-income states—and is even inverted for the three states (DC, MA, CT) with the highest statewide incomes – In states with relatively low statewide incomes, PV-adopter incomes are also lower, but not to the same extent as the overall population of OO-HHs

    PV-adopter median incomes converging toward broader population

    • Prior results focused on all PV adopters cumulatively, but annual trends show that PVadopter median incomes have been trending downward in recent years

    • PV adopters converging toward median income of all OO-HHs: PV-adopter median income 10% higher than all OO-HHs in 2016 ($87k vs. $79k), compared to 27% higher in 2010

    • Figure here focuses on period since 2010; later slide contrasts these trends with the earlier era

    • Aggregate PV-adopter median income across all states is driven heavily by CA, but most states show similar downward trend

    Most states show a decline in PV-adopter median incomes over time…2016 PV-adopter median incomes in most states were greater than other OO-HHs, though four states have reached “income parity”… Even if often under-represented, “moderate-income” households nevertheless constitute a sizeable share of cumulative PV adopters

    • 43% of all PV adopters in the sample (33%-50% across individual states) fall within the lower 3 income quintiles

    • 48% of all PV adopters (47%-60% across individual states) fall within Pew’s definition of “middle class” (see notes)

    • Even low-income groups are represented, with 15% of all PV adopters below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level: a common benchmark used in low-income programs – Though some questions exist about income estimates at the lower end, discussed later

    • Cross-state differences largely driven by more-general income differences across states.

    PV adoption has generally been trending towards more-moderate income HHs in recent years, in contrast to earlier trend…Most states also trending toward more-moderate income adopters With some exceptions, depending on the set of income quintiles considered…Estimating LMI Adoption Rates…


    • The choice of data and metrics clearly matter: For example, results and associated take-away messages can differ significantly depending on use HH-level data vs. Census BG medians or zip-code average incomes; and depending on whether PV adopters are compared to all HH or just OO-HHs

    • Home-ownership is a key driver for differences in PV adoption among income groups: Reinforces importance of business models and programs aimed at renters

    • PV-adopter incomes are diverse: While PV adopters as a whole are higher-income than the population at large, it should not be overlooked that “moderate-income” or “middle-class” households are already a significant beneficiary of existing solar markets

    • The income profile of residential PV adopters is dynamic and evolving: Suggests some value in periodically re-assessing PV-adopter income trends, and raises questions about the underlying drivers for recent trends and about how those trends may evolve going forward

    • Local and regional factors impact the income characteristics of PV adopters: Though much of the cross-state variation in PV income trends is a function of more-general statewide income differences, other market and policy drivers likely play a role as well, and could become more significant in the years ahead…

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    QUICK NEWS, April 30: The Answer Is New Energy, Not GeoEngineering; No Let-up In Solar Policy Fights; Ocean Wind’s Many And Varied Benefits

    The Answer Is New Energy, Not GeoEngineering The Idea That We Will Science Our Way Out of Climate Change is Dangerous, Say Scientists

    Daniel Starkey, April 29, 2018 (Geek)

    “Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned with the idea that people won’t make significant changes to their lifestyles and that governments won’t commit to radical action — instead relying on the deluded and dangerous presumption that some advanced technology will save us…Part of that comes from the fact that scientists have dreamed up these plans in the first place…Many of these are various kinds of geoengineering projects that are designed to counter specific symptoms of the climate change problem…[A popular one is] pumping sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to mimic the chilling effect of massive volcanic explosions. It’s important to note that while this would cool the Earth, it also doesn’t fix the problem with the concentration of CO2 in the air. The oceans would still grow more and more acidic, killing off all manner of marine life and kneecapping global ecosystems and food systems…The problem is that politicians and the public may think that these solutions are good enough and will opt for them without considering the myriad of consequences that come with it…” click here for more

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    No Let-up In Solar Policy Fights The 50 States of Solar Report: 40 States and D.C. Took Action on Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design During Q1 2018

    April 25, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

    “…[The Q1 2018 50 States of Solar finds that 149 state and utility-level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or enacted in Q1 2018. They included]…actions to increase monthly fixed charges or minimum bills on all residential customers by at least 10%...changes to net metering policies…[plans] to examine some element of the value of distributed generation or the costs and benefits of net metering…[plans to add or change policy] on community solar…[proposals] to add new or increase existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers…[proposals for] action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs…policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations…[Over 50 bills were considered by legislators related to distributed generation compensation policies and studies. The majority of bills under consideration related to credit rates for excess generation, net metering or distributed energy resource studies, and net metering aggregate caps…” click here for more

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    Ocean Wind’s Many And Varied Benefits The value of offshore wind energy: What the US is missing out on; Economists take a look at what contributes to offshore wind's value.

    Megan Geuss, April 26, 2018 (Ars Technica)

    “The US is a latecomer to the world of offshore wind…[Compare its one 30 MW project, brought online in 2016,] to Europe. The continent now has 15,780MW of offshore wind…European projects added 560 new offshore wind turbines across 17 different offshore wind farms in 2017 alone…[A new report from] the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is now asking: what is the value of the offshore wind that the US didn't build over the last decade? Although many analyses have studied the falling cost of installing offshore wind, assigning a value to offshore wind is ground that is less well-tread. Though it's much more expensive to construct turbines in the ocean, offshore wind can also generate more value because sea breezes tend to be stronger and more reliable, and wind turbines can be built bigger…The Berkeley researchers found that over the last 10 years, the value of hypothetical US offshore wind energy ranged from $40/MWh to more than $110/MWh depending on where the wind was sited and how renewable energy was priced in that region…” click here for more

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    Saturday, April 28, 2018

    Truth With A French Accent

    French President Emmanuel Macron spoke truth to Congress this week: "We are killing our planet...Let us face it – there is no Planet B.” From Climate State via YouTube

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    Pretending It Isn’t Happening

    Annie Besant: "Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd." From MSNBC via YouTube

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    An Anti-Wind Fraud Revealed

    Reported by our friend Peter Sinclair at Climate Crocks: "Wind energy opponents will go to any lengths…” From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    Friday, April 27, 2018

    What Will Climate Change’s Hiroshima Be?

    Hiroshima, Kyoto, and the Bombs of Climate Change

    Bill McKibben, April 27, 2018 (The New Yorker)

    “…Hiroshima has a special grip on the planet’s consciousness…[It] has become symbolic shorthand for the nuclear horror that still haunts humanity…It’s not as if we have solved the nuclear issue, but at least we understand that it is a crisis…[With climate change, the] explosion of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders every minute of every day just doesn’t induce the same tremble…Scientists estimate that, each day, our added emissions trap the heat equivalent of four hundred thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs, which is why the Arctic has half as much ice as it did in the nineteen-eighties, why the great ocean currents have begun to slow, why we see floods and storms and fires in such sad proportion…

    [The most important explanation is probably that the fossil-fuel industry] has spent billions of dollars defending the precise practices now wrecking the planet…[Their disinformation and lobbying campaigns] have been spectacularly effective… Every single day, climate change is the most important thing happening on the planet—there’s nothing even remotely close…[And unlike the more dramatic headline grabbing events, climate change is the one problem that comes with an absolute time limit because past a certain point] it won’t have a solution…Perhaps the free-falling price of solar and wind power will be enough to spur the necessary transition…[But without a Hiroshima moment to make us acknowledge reality,] it’s possible that as a species we’ll slide straight into a new, hotter, more desperate world…” click here for more

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    World Wind Keeps Booming

    The wind industry added more than 52 gigawatts of power in 2017, and China led the way

    Anmar Frangoul, April 27, 2018 (CNBC)

    “The wind industry added over 52 gigawatts (GW) of wind power last year…China maintained its position as a wind energy powerhouse, installing 19.7 GW, while the European Union added 15.6 GW of capacity, its best ever year. The U.S. installed a little over 7 GW of capacity…[According to the new Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) market report, cumulative] capacity reached 539 GW by the end of 2017, an increase of 11 percent compared to the previous year…[and is forecast to] reach 840 GW by 2022…[Offshore wind growth grew by a record 4 GW]…” click here for more

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    How Solar Could Power The World

    Map Reveals How the World Could Switch to Solar Using a Tiny Amount of Land; An all-renewables future is not as outlandish as it seems.

    Mike Brown, April 24, 2018 (Inverse)

    “…[Most countries around the world could make the switch to 100% solar] using just a tiny fraction of national space…[A new interactive map shows] that around 87 percent of countries could meet their power demands with solar panels covering less than five percent of the land area. The world could power itself on just 1.1 million square kilometers of solar panels, less than the size of South Africa…[Just Bahrain, Hong Kong, and Singapore] would need more solar panels than its land area to meet its energy needs…[A]n all-solar future would use surprisingly little land for many countries…China, the world’s most populous country, would require a small patch of land for its 1.4 billion people. The country has made big strides in the switch, including the 850 megawatt-capacity Longyangxia Dam Solar Park by the Tibetan plateau, one of the largest solar farms in the world stretching over 10 square miles…[It would also take only a tiny portion of] Russia, the world’s largest country…” click here for more

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    Sweden’s Electric Highway

    Sweden opens new road that charges electric vehicles like real-life slot cars

    Bianca Britton, April 27, 2018 (CNN)

    “…[Sweden] is trialling the world's first public road which allows electric vehicles to recharge while driving. Similar to a slot-car track, vehicles are able to connect to an electric rail that's embedded into the road…Sweden has a goal of achieving a completely fossil fuel free vehicle fleet by 2030, so this electrified road is part of several projects the Swedish Transport Administration has created to develop and test technologies that may be able to help the country reach its target…[The 1.2 mile eRoadArlanda is just outside Stockholm.

    It transfers electricity] via a movable arm that attaches to the tracks built into the middle of the road. While the system is designed with the capacity to feed heavier vehicles such as trucks, it's also developed to work for cars and buses…When vehicles approach the track, a sensor from the car or truck detects the electrified rail and the movable arm lowers from underneath the vehicle and inserts into the rail. The arm has been designed to be flexible, providing the car, or truck, the freedom to move around the road without disconnecting…The technology is also safe and adverse weather such as rain, snow and ice should not cause any major issues thanks to draining and usual maintenance. The electricity also isn't a risk to humans or animals…” click here for more

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    Thursday, April 26, 2018

    Military Sees 1,000+ Islands “Uninhabitable” By Mid-Century

    The military paid for a study on sea level rise. The results were scary.

    Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, April 25, 2018 (Washington Post)

    “More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets…The threats to the islands are twofold. In the long term, the rising seas threaten to inundate the islands entirely. More immediately, as seas rise, the islands will more frequently deal with large waves that crash farther onto the shore, contaminating their drinkable water supplies with ocean saltwater, according to the [U.S. military-supported] research…The U.S. military’s] massive Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site sits, in part, on the atoll island of Roi-Namur — a part of the Marshall Islands and the focus of the research…[It] is part of the vast Kwajalein coral atoll...While seas are rising by 3.2 millimeters per year at the moment and expected to rise even faster in years ahead, Roi-Namur has a good chance of avoiding total inundation this century…[But the new research] suggests that saltwater contamination of the island’s aquifers would probably occur at 40 centimeters (about 15 inches) of sea-level rise. A rise of five to six centimeters globally has already occurred since 2000, and the sea-level rise is even faster at the Kwajalein atoll…” click here for more

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    Sunny States Falling Behind In Solar

    10 Sunny States Get Failing Grade for Rooftop Solar Policies; Texas, Florida Make List for Hostile Approach to Distributed Solar Despite Potential

    April 23, 2018 (Center for Biological Diversity)

    “Ten of the nation’s sunniest states get a failing grade for policies that actively block, or don’t encourage, rooftop solar development… Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin account for more than 33 percent of the total rooftop-solar potential of small buildings in the contiguous United States but less than 8 percent of net generation in 2017...[According to Throwing Shade from the Center for Biological Diversity, all] 10 states are falling far behind states with stronger policies in meeting their technical potential for rooftop solar…Texas and Florida stand out as two of the states with the most potential but the worst distributed-solar policies…Among the most common barriers to the expansion of distributed solar in the 10 states are a lack of community solar policies, poor compensation policies, and prohibited or unclear rules for third-party ownership…” click here for more

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    Huge 2018 Numbers For U.S. New Energy

    Wind And Solar Provide 98% Of All New Electrical Generating Capacity In January + February; Renewables Now Provide More Than One-Fifth Of Nation's Installed Generating Capacity Renewables Account For Almost 70% Of Proposed Net Generation Additions Over Next Three Years

    Ken Bossong, April 24, 2018 (Sun Day)

    "Wind and solar accounted for more than 98% of all new U.S. electrical generation placed into service in the first two months of this year…FERC's latest Energy Infrastructure Update (with summary statistics for January and February 2018) also reveals that the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) now provides over one-fifth (i.e., 20.39%) of total available U.S. generating capacity…FERC's report further suggests that the rapid expansion and growing dominance of renewable energy sources will continue at least through March 2021…” click here for more

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    Oregon To Expand Wave Energy Research

    Oregon Wave Energy Testing Project Looks To Feds For Approval

    Jes Burns, April 25, 2018 (Jefferson Public Radio)

    “…An Oregon State University project to set up a wave energy test site is now applying for the federal permits needed to move ahead…Oregon has some of the best potential in the world to generate energy from the motion of the waves. But [building and testing] wave energy technology is an expensive proposition…[that] takes many years and even more federal and state permits… [The estimated cost for this project is $50 million, $35 million of which would come from the U.S. Department of Energy. The permitting process will take more than a year to complete. That is a big part of why] wave energy technology is about 15 years behind wind…[T]he university wants to help the fledgling technology get into the water faster…[by setting up] a 2-square-mile, grid-connected test plot off the central Oregon coast. Companies would pay to test up to 20 devices at a time…[Currently, only small-scale, grid-connected, wave energy test facilities in Hawai’i and Scotland are in operation and] Oregon State University also operates a non-grid-connected test site further north along the coast…[This] project has the potential to be by far the largest and most versatile test facility in the world…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Why Utilities Need To Respond Now To The EV Boom

    Why utilities need to respond now to the EV boom; Utilities can either embrace electric vehicle growth or be caught "flat footed" when new power demand materializes, an RMI report warns.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 9, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Numbers have accrued since this story ran that the predicted EV boom is coming.

    Accelerating growth forecasts for electric vehicles have energy analysts urging utilities to start planning for their impacts on the grid today. By 2021, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts U.S. electric vehicle (EV) sales could reach 800,000 annually. By 2025, the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group, estimates there could be 7 million zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads. EV sales in the U.S. have been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 32% for the past four years and there could be 2.9 million EVs on the road in the U.S. within five years, adding over 11,000 GWh of new load to the U.S. power grid, according to Chris Nelder, electricity practice manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

    “From Gas To Grid: Building Charging Infrastructure To Power Electric Vehicle Demand.” EVs are only 1% of total vehicles sales today, but if the forecasts are accurate, utilities could capture about $1.5 billion in new annual electricity sales if they plan to meet that 11,000 GWh of new load, Nelder said. Failing to prepare for EV growth with grid upgrades and rate design reforms could leave utilities “flat footed” when this new load materializes, Nelder added. But if utilities reform their rate designs and infrastructure planning to account for EV growth, they could spur more deployment than than the most optimistic of forecasts and deliver savings even to customers who don't own the cars themselves. It is could also open the EV transformation to a future of shared autonomous electric vehicles, which is why utility planners must think ahead, Nelder said… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Transmission Developers Power Forward In West While California Stalls

    Transmission developers power forward in West as move to single market inches along; Planners and developers across the West are going as far and fast as they can toward regionalization.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 12, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The political opposition to California’s regional ambitions remains intransigent.

    Transmission planning and development all over the West is fast and furious — by transmission development standards. And yet, at the center of the activity, there is a frustrated waiting for efforts to organize the region into a single market. The Western Interconnection covers 14 states and extends from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains. Many utilities and power providers argue its 136,000 miles of synchronized transmission and 38 balancing authorities (BAs) could serve its more than 80 million electricity customers through a single organized electricity market. The system’s 265,000 MW of installed generation capacity accounts for 20% of U.S.-Canada nameplate power, 70% of the region’s solar and 40% of its hydro. Yet the system has only one U.S. wholesale electricity market, the state-wide California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

    CAISO’s proposal to expand across the West is being stymied by California political resistance. The system operator's plan would unify Western BAs by opening its marketplace to them. Some stakeholders say that would introduce complications if it opened the state's system to federal regulation, especially with the current administration. However, a new study argues that federal oversight would not compromise California's nation-leading push for renewables. In the midst of the push for regionalization, CAISO's Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) is gaining momentum faster than advocates expected. EIMs allow BAs to exchange energy to meet real time supply-demand mismatches rather than starting up peaker plants. From two participants in 2014, it has grown to four BAs, with seven more scheduled to join in the next three years. Transmission developers in the region are also moving ahead… click here for more

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    Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Value Of Offshore Wind

    Estimating the Value of Offshore Wind Along the United States’ Eastern Coast

    Andrew D. Mills, Dev Millstein, Seongeun Jeong, Luke Lavin, Ryan Wiser, Mark Bolinger, April 2018 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary


    Development of offshore wind in the United States has been limited to date despite a recent acceleration in global deployments and indications of steep cost reductions in European tenders for offshore wind energy. In part, limited US growth is due to an unclear understanding of the economic value that offshore wind provides within local or regional electricity markets. One reason for this lack of clarity is due to the fact that offshore projects can be developed in many different locations, and that diurnal and seasonal wind resource profiles vary by project location. Differences in location and location-specific generation profiles can affect the value of wind power in terms of which other generators wind displaces (and hence both the type and quantity fuels and emissions that wind power reduces), wind’s contribution to meeting peak demand, and the local price of electricity and renewable energy credits (RECs) that wind earns.

    With these and other value components in mind, this project explores a hypothetical question: What would the marginal economic value of offshore wind projects along the east coast of the United States have been from 2007-2016, had any such projects been operating during that time period? Using historical weather data at thousands of potential offshore wind sites, combined with historical wholesale market outcomes and REC prices at hundreds of possible interconnection nodes, we develop a rigorous method to answer this question, focusing mostly on the marginal economic value but also including environmental impacts. We consider energy, capacity and REC value, avoided air emissions, the wholesale price ‘merit-order’ effect, and natural gas price suppression. In addition to assessing each value component, and how value has varied geographically and over time, we also evaluate value differences between offshore and onshore wind, the ‘sea-breeze’ effect, the capacity credit of offshore wind, the value of interconnecting at and selling to different locations, the incremental value of storage, and the impact of larger rotors and taller towers. We then go on to discuss, at a high level, various factors that might drive these value components higher or lower in the future, as offshore wind deployment commences.

    This work builds on and complements recent and ongoing research by NREL, and is informed by a comprehensive review of the available offshore wind energy valuation literature. Although the historical nature of this analysis limits its applicability going forward, knowing how the historical value of offshore wind has varied both geographically and over time, and what has driven that variation, can nevertheless provide important insights to a variety of stakeholders, including wind developers, purchasers and energy system decision-makers. In addition, focusing on market value may help to inform the U.S. DOE on its offshore wind technology cost targets, as well as the early-stage R&D investments necessary to reach them…

    Key Findings


    We find that the average historical market value of offshore wind from 2007-2016—considering energy, capacity, and RECs—varies significantly by project location, from $40/MWh to more than $110/MWh, and is highest for sites off of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. As energy and REC prices have fallen in recent years, so too has the market value of offshore wind. The historical value of offshore wind is found to exceed that of onshore wind, due to offshore wind sites being located more favorably in terms of constrained pricing points, and also due to a more-favorable temporal profile of electricity production. Finally, we explore multiple ways to enhance the value proposition for offshore wind, including strategies associated with interconnecting to higher-priced locations and the addition of electrical storage. Whether any of these strategies, and offshore wind more generally, is economically attractive will depend on tradeoffs between value and cost. Cost reductions that approximate those witnessed recently in Europe may be needed for offshore wind to offer a credible economic value proposition on a widespread basis along the eastern seaboard.

    The market value of offshore wind between 2007-2016 varies significantly by project location, and is highest for sites off of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Figure 1 shows that the total market value (i.e., energy, capacity, and REC value combined) of offshore wind is highest for sites off of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts; lower for projects off of Maine; and lowest elsewhere along the coast. When averaged over the entire 2007-2016 period (left half of Figure 1), the median marginal value for sites interconnecting to ISO-NE is roughly $110/MWh, compared to $100/MWh for sites interconnecting to NYISO, $70/MWh for sites in PJM, and closer to $55/MWh for sites in the non-ISO region south of PJM. When focusing on just 2016 (right half of Figure 1), the corresponding marginal values are much lower (for reasons explained later), but the relative differences across states and regions is still similar. The median value for sites in ISO-NE is $70/MWh in 2016, and for NYISO is nearly $65/MWh. The median value of sites in PJM is $45/MWh, while it is less than $40/MWh for sites in the Non-ISO region south of PJM. Of course, just as the market value of offshore wind varies spatially, so too does the levelized cost of offshore wind energy (LCOE), affected by wind speed, ocean depth, distance from shore, and many other considerations. Comparing LCOE estimates with value estimates, we find that the most attractive sites from this perspective are located near southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while the least attractive are far offshore of Florida and Georgia.

    The market value of offshore wind can be approximated by the value of a flat block of power; the locational variation in the market value of offshore wind is driven primarily by differences in average energy (and REC) prices across pricing nodes, states and regions, rather than by differences in diurnal and seasonal wind generation profiles across project sites. This insight is revealed by comparing a site’s total market value based on wind resource availability (i.e. the left panel of Figure 1) to a hypothetical value created at each site by calculating the simple average energy, capacity, and REC prices across all hours (a 24x7 ‘flat block’ of power). 1 In other words, Figure 2 compares the marginal revenue earned by each offshore wind project to the amount of revenue it would have earned if generating the same total amount of annual energy but with no temporal variation in output. The resulting ‘normalized’ market value (total, energy, and capacity, respectively, from left to right) of offshore wind shown in Figure 2 indicates whether offshore wind is more or less valuable than a 24x7 flat block of power; variation in this metric across sites solely reflects differences in diurnal and seasonal generation profiles.

    As shown, the normalized total market value of offshore wind (left pane) ranges from 95%-105%, with somewhat larger ratios found in NYISO, ISO-NE, and off the coast of North Carolina. The energy value component (middle pane) tells a similar story, and with a similarly modest range (98%-108%). In contrast, the normalized capacity value component (right pane) varies more significantly, from 50%-120% (capacity value is explored further in the next key finding). The rather modest ranges for both total and energy value indicate that variability in wind generation profiles across sites is not a strong determinant of offshore wind market value along the East Coast; instead, the significant variation in market value seen in Figure 1 is driven much more by local energy (and REC) prices. The market value of offshore wind is roughly similar to that of a similarly located flat block of power, at least on a marginal basis for the first offshore wind plants.

    Diurnal and seasonal generation profiles do matter, but mostly for capacity value, which is a small component of overall value. The relatively wide range (50%-120%) in normalized capacity value shown in the right pane of Figure 2 solely reflects differences in wind generation profiles across sites (as well as the rules by which wind plants earn capacity payments), with sites off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts having the most advantageous profiles in terms of aligning with capacity measurement periods. Similarly, winter capacity credits are highest for the areas off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (see Figure 3). Figure 3 also shows the distribution of summer capacity credit along the entire east coast. Note that winter capacity credits are shown for NYISO and ISO-NE sites only, as PJM does not assess capacity credits in the winter (we assume that PJM capacity market rules apply to all states south of PJM). The capacity credit of offshore wind in the NYISO and ISO-NE markets is significantly higher in winter than in summer; offshore wind in these regions benefits from having capacity credit assessed in both seasons. While there is significant variation in capacity credit (Figure 3) and normalized capacity value (Figure 2) across sites, capacity value is a relatively minor component of the total market value of offshore wind, as shown in Figure 4.

    In addition to varying geographically, the market value of offshore wind also varies significantly from year to year, driven primarily by changes to energy and REC prices; the market value of offshore wind is lowest in the most recent year evaluated—2016. This interyear variation was first seen in Figure 1, where the total market value of offshore wind in 2016 was significantly lower than the value averaged over 2007-2016. Figure 4 shows that this significant decline in total market value is attributable primarily to lower electricity prices in 2016, which reduced the median energy value of offshore wind to ~$30/MWh across all four regions. Figure 4 also confirms that the capacity value of offshore wind is only a small component of total value. Variability in total market value over time has been driven by both electricity and REC prices (with the former heavily influenced by natural gas prices). The total market value is highest in ISO-NE, in part due to higher REC prices. The energy and capacity value is higher for NYISO, particularly for the Long Island region.

    The energy and capacity value of offshore wind in all three ISOs exceeds the value of onshore wind. Figure 5 shows that, in 2016, the total marginal energy and capacity value of offshore wind would have exceeded the value of existing onshore wind by $6/MWh in ISO-NE (21% higher), $6/MWh in PJM (24% higher), and by more than $20/MWh in NYISO (112% higher). The differences in energy and capacity value between onshore and offshore wind is due to differences in location and differences in hourly output profiles: location appears to play a somewhat larger role than output profile, in most cases. The estimated summer and winter capacity credit for offshore wind in the three ISOs is roughly double that for onshore wind.

    Offshore wind reduces air emissions that are harmful to human health and the environment, yet the avoided emissions rate for pollutants like SO2 has declined over time. Figure 5 shows that avoided emissions attributable to offshore wind vary by region—highest in the Mid-Atlantic, lower in the Southeast, and lowest in the Northeast2—and have generally declined over time, as the emissions rate of the marginal generator has improved. The decline has been particularly steep for SO2 (top left graph), as coal plants have either retired or installed pollution control equipment. Although avoided emissions is a measurable benefit of offshore wind, the economic value of avoided emissions is not necessarily additive to the energy, capacity, and REC value discussed earlier; this value is already embedded in energy value to some degree, since pollution permit prices are reflected in locational marginal prices (LMPs). One could argue that REC value similarly reflects the benefits of avoided emissions. That being said, studies have found that recent air quality benefits from wind power in these regions ranges from $26/MWh to >$100/MWh, depending on the location of the wind project; at the upper end, these values exceed the value reflected in RECs.

    Wholesale electricity and natural gas price reductions attributable to offshore wind can be substantial, though these price reductions represent a wealth transfer between producers and consumers. When the marginal generation unit displaced by offshore wind is a gas-fired generator, offshore wind not only avoids emissions but also reduces the consumption of natural gas. Because natural gas supply is relatively inelastic in the short term, reductions in natural gas demand can lead to price reductions, resulting in flow-through consumer benefits in the form or lower natural gas expenditures throughout the economy. For example, we estimate that natural gas price savings nationwide could have an equivalent value per-MWh of offshore wind of $30-$80/MWh of offshore wind averaged over 2007–2016, depending on in which region the offshore wind is located. Local regional price savings in the region in which the offshore wind plant interconnects are significantly lower, but still significant, at less than $6/MWh of offshore wind (Figure 6). Similarly, low-marginalcost offshore wind also reduces wholesale electricity prices by displacing the highest-cost marginal generating units from the bid stack. When translated to an equivalent consumer benefit per-MWh of offshore wind, we estimate this ‘merit order effect’ to be more than $25/MWh averaged over 2007– 2016 in all three ISO regions, and significantly lower in the states south of the PJM region (Figure 6). The natural gas and wholesale electricity price suppression effects are lowest in 2016.

    These natural gas and wholesale price reductions, however, represent a transfer of wealth from natural gas producers and electricity generators to gas and electricity consumers, respectively. While some decision-makers are interested in natural gas and wholesale price reductions, not all consider them to be net societal benefits. Moreover, these price suppressing effects would be anticipated to decline over time, as supply adjusts to the new demand conditions.

    Outside of the confines of our base-case analysis, we explored—and found—several other ways to enhance the value of offshore wind. Interconnecting to a more-distant but higher-priced node can increase the value of offshore wind by as much as $25/MWh, particularly when switching from PJM or ISO-NE nodes to NYISO nodes around Long Island. Even better, having more than one interconnection point and arbitraging between them can increase value by $40/MWh-wind in some cases. Selling RECs into a different state than the one in which the project interconnects can add up to $20/MWh of value beyond our base-case assumptions, depending on the location. Adding battery storage sized (in MWh terms) at roughly one fourth of the offshore wind project capacity can increase value by up to $3/MWh-wind, with still-greater incremental value as battery size increases. Finally, wind turbine design is found to have a minor effect on market value, at least for the first offshore wind projects installed in a region.

    Future Outlook

    This analysis is backward-looking, focused on historical wind patterns and market outcomes from 2007-2016 in order to estimate the hypothetical marginal value of offshore wind along the U.S. east coast (i.e., had any such projects been operating during this time period). Though this marginal, historical perspective is instructive in terms of identifying key value drivers, the decision to build offshore wind going forward will depend on expectations of future benefits, which may differ from recent historical experience. With that in mind, we conclude by qualitatively assessing the outlook for some of the value drivers identified in this paper; many of these outlooks remain highly uncertain.

    • Energy value—the largest value component within our analysis—will partly depend on the future direction of natural gas prices, which is highly uncertain. For example, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects gas prices to drift higher over time, while NYMEX natural gas futures suggest medium-term price reductions. Several projections of electricity prices in the ISO-NE, NYISO, and PJM areas show significant variation across forecasts, but a general upward trend. Finally, increasing wind penetration over time could drive down wind’s energy value in the future, as the market becomes saturated with low marginal-cost wind power during windy times; such a value decline has been observed in high-penetration wind markets internationally.

    • REC prices—another significant contributor to offshore wind’s value—will depend in part on the cost and value of alternative means of complying with state RPS requirements. As the cost of wind and solar power continues to decline, one might expect to see declining REC prices as well. On the other hand, some states have established, or could establish, specific offshore wind obligations, which could boost the value of offshore wind RECs.

    • Offshore wind’s capacity value depends on capacity prices, the rules for how capacity credit is determined, and whether offshore wind is eligible to participate. Capacity prices are generally expected to increase in the future, but several proposed or pending market reforms may make it more difficult for offshore wind to participate in capacity markets.

    • Avoided emissions should remain around recent levels, barring either regulatory rollback or implementation of new and more-stringent emissions targets. Higher natural gas prices, however, could potentially shift the dispatch towards more coal-fired generation, potentially increasing avoided emissions. On the other hand, such a shift in the supply curve might lead to more gas-fired generation on the margin, which would reduce offshore wind’s avoided emissions, thus it is hard to predict the exact effect on avoided emissions due to any future increase in gas prices.

    • The degree to which offshore wind suppresses natural gas and wholesale electricity prices will depend in large part on the level of natural gas and wholesale electricity prices going forward— both of these have been discussed already above. This analysis focused on first-year or shortterm effects. The effects are generally expected to decline over time, as supply adjusts to the new demand conditions.

    Some of these and other issues will be assessed in forthcoming work from NREL3, which will model several offshore wind scenarios in a future U.S. power system (years 2024 and 2038) within the NYISO and ISO-NE market regions, focusing on performance metrics including reliability, capacity value, transmission needs, production cost savings, wholesale price suppression, curtailment levels, and system ramping needs.

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    QUICK NEWS, April 24: Another ‘This Is It’ Moment For Climate Change; Here’s Why Wind Is A Winner; Solar For The Heartlands

    Another ‘This Is It’ Moment For Climate Change One of the most worrisome predictions about climate change may be coming true

    Chris Mooney, April 23, 2018 (Washington Post)

    “Two years ago, former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and a number of colleagues laid out a dire [computer simulation-based] scenario in which gigantic pulses of fresh water from melting glaciers could upend the circulation of the oceans, leading to a world of fast-rising seas and even superstorms…[A new oceanographic study] appears to have confirmed one aspect of this picture — in its early stages…[Ocean measurements off the coast of East Antarctica show] that melting Antarctic glaciers are indeed freshening the ocean around them. And this, in turn, is blocking a process in which cold and salty ocean water sinks below the sea surface in winter, forming ‘the densest water on the Earth’…[on] the West Antarctic coast and the coast around the enormous Totten glacier in East Antarctica…[T]he melting of Antarctica’s glaciers appears to be triggering a ‘feedback’ loop in which that melting, through its effect on the oceans, triggers still more melting…not to mention rising seas as glaciers lose mass…” click here for more

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    Here’s Why Wind Is A Winner Wind energy’s swift growth, explained

    John Hall, April 23. 2018 (The Conversation)

    “…[T]he total amount of U.S. electricity generated by wind turbines nearly doubled between 2011 and 2017…Wind turbines, which convert moving air into electrical power, currently produce 6.3 percent of the electricity the U.S. consumes. Texas leads the nation overall in terms of the amount of power it gets from wind. Iowa gets a higher share of its electricity from wind turbines than any other state – 37 percent…The U.S. still lags other nations, particularly those in Europe, with offshore wind production…[But the first commercial offshore wind farm] began operating in 2016. New York state plans to build a much larger offshore farm. And California may soon establish floating offshore wind farms…[Recent improvements in energy storage technology and turbine efficiency] are lowering costs…[and] market forces coupled with widespread concerns over climate change, continue to propel the wind industry…[Corporate giants, such as Apple and Google,] are proactively seeking to rely on wind energy, rather than fossil fuels…And this wind rush is creating jobs in manufacturing, services and science. With total generating capacity projected to increase from about 89 gigawatts to more than 400 gigawatts over the next 30 years, the Energy Department says the industry may eventually employ 600,000 American workers.” click here for more

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    Solar For The Heartlands Solar farms set to sprout across Illinois

    Robert Channick, April 22, 2018 (Chicago Tribune)

    “Anew crop is ready to sprout on Illinois farms, with gleaming solar panels supplanting rows of corn and soybeans…[Drawn by new incentives and the Future Energy Jobs Act requiring Illinois utilities to get 25 percent of their retail power from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2025], renewable energy developers are staking out turf on the rural fringes of the Chicago area and beyond, looking to build dozens of solar farms to feed the electric grids of Commonwealth Edison and other utilities…It’s a potential sea change in the Illinois energy landscape that proponents say is long overdue and will provide customers with a green power alternative. But the rise of solar power also has generated opposition from some residents…” click here for more

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