NewEnergyNews: 02/01/2019 - 03/01/2019/


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

    Thursday, February 28, 2019

    On Climate Change, The Movement

    To Fight Climate Change, Think Politics First and Often

    Nathan Lobel, February 26, 2019 (Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment)

    “In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that we have little more than a decade to stave off climate catastrophe…Punctuating a year of natural and political climate-related disasters, [it] sparked renewed calls for action…[Economists, environmentalists, and policy elites called for carbon pricing, but its theoretical utility has not translated to] the real and drastic emissions reductions that we so desperately need…[P]olicy popularity depends not on the real distribution of resulting costs and benefits, but rather on how those costs and benefits are perceived by the public. For that reason, political popularity will also vary in response to the extent, directness, and immediacy with which costs and benefits are experienced by various constituencies…

    …[Carbon pricing has] won the support of a diverse and impressive array of policy elites, including Nobel prize-winning economists…progressive heroes like Bernie Sanders, former Republican Cabinet officials like James Baker, and even oil companies like ExxonMobil…[But] the design of carbon pricing schemes often yield highly visible costs with few tangible present-day benefits…[and it] has had little political appeal…[C]limate advocates should re-center proven and popular policies that deliver present-day benefit with less visible cost, like clean air regulations, clean energy mandates, and investments in green jobs and infrastructure..New York Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey have included these elements in their Green New Deal…Failing to do so can impede the achievement of critical policy objectives…[and] we don’t have time to waste.” click here for more

    The Numbers Are In And New Energy Wins

    The So-Called Political Divide on Coal vs. Renewables Is Fake News

    Jeff Turentine, February 25, 2019 (EcoWatch)

    “From a political standpoint, defending coal consumption is harder than ever. Coal is far and away the dirtiest fossil fuel there is in terms of carbon emissions and regular old air pollution (and its messy mining practices certainly aren't helping its reputation)…[L]awmakers from coal-producing states and members of the current presidential administration have long attempted to justify their defense of coal…[by] all the people who rely on the coal industry for a regular paycheck…[But] public sentiment regarding coal and renewables has shifted dramatically…[B]etween 2016 and 2017, the number of Americans who strongly support a coal phaseout increased 11 percentage points, from 18 percent to 29 percent. In that same one-year period, the number of Americans who oppose a phaseout fell by the same amount…[Support for a phaseout rose 13 points] in states with active coal mines…[Strong opposition by Republicans] fell by 14 points…

    …88 percent of Americans are in favor of increasing the use of solar energy in their state, and 82 percent feel the same about wind energy… 79 percent of self-identified Republicans [support] solar and 72 percent [support] wind…Nearly two-thirds of Republicans surveyed—64 percent—said they like the idea of a state renewable energy requirement; even more amazingly, 65 percent of them said they have no problem with boosting the nascent renewables sector through subsidies…In a survey of 400 Ohioans who self-identify as conservative, two-thirds of respondents said they believe their state needs to diversify its energy portfolio by having at least half of its energy come from renewable sources. Nearly the same percentage of respondents said they were more—not less—likely to support a politician who voted for or otherwise expressed support for renewable energy or energy efficiency legislation…” click here for more

    72 GW Of New Energy Queued In Midwest

    From Minnesota to Louisiana, Renewables are Poised for Dramatic Growth, but…

    Sam Gomberg, February 27, 2019 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    “…[The January 31 interconnection queue summary of the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO)] shows how wind and solar resources are dominating interconnection applications and foreshadowing a historic transition to clean energy resources…[T]here is 72,000 megawatts MW of new wind and solar resources in MISO’s interconnection queue, including more than 64,000 MW of new wind and solar projects…[That is essentially half of MISO’s summer peak of] about 130,000 MW…[from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and from Indiana and western Mississippi to] the Dakotas…

    There’s now almost 500 MW of battery storage projects in MISO’s interconnection queue – nearly all of it applying for interconnection in the past year…Even under ideal circumstances, some of this renewable energy wouldn’t ultimately make it onto the grid as projects withdraw for a variety of financial or technical reasons…[But MISO’s current processes for approving interconnection and allocating costs for new transmission aren’t helping…[If we don’t fix these problems,] it will severely constrain the ability for cost-effective renewable energy to come online. This will ultimately leave consumer benefits on the table – forcing them to pay more for a dirtier, less reliable electricity supply.” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 27, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Pennsylvania lawmakers rethink renewables

    Two roads diverging: Pennsylvania lawmakers rethink their renewables mandate; Policymakers are making decisions on how to change the state's alternative energy portfolio standards by 2021, causing a tension between utilities and distributed solar activists.

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 30, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Pennsylvania continues to debate which solar future to choose.

    Pennsylvania leaders have big choices to make about the state's energy and solar future that will impact its power sector for the next decade. Policymakers must choose how to change the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which now requires 18% alternative energy by 2021. And, if they replace the AEPS' 0.5% carve out, they must choose whether to include 90% utility-scale solar or 35% distributed solar. At the end of 2017, Pennsylvania was at 0.2% solar. A draft plan for 10% solar by 2030 was released in July. Its choice of a largely utility-scale solar carve out, or one that includes over one-third distributed solar, has already started a classic solar debate between utilities and distributed solar advocates.

    "Pennsylvania is working on the energy sector's next generation and solar should be key," said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which hosted the stakeholder-led process that produced the plan. "With its low installed price continuing to drop, solar must be a bigger part of our energy mix to keep us competitive with surrounding states." The new solar plan shows Pennsylvania "wants the jobs and environmental and energy benefits that come with solar," he added. "The state's utilities need to understand we are moving from large centralized plants to a more distributed energy grid and that means changes, but those changes can help utilities deliver better power quality and resilience for their customers." Pennsylvania installed 372.63 MW of solar at the end of 2017, to meet 0.2% of its electricity needs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association(SEIA). This puts it well behind its border-states, Maryland and New Jersey… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: California moves ahead on offshore wind development

    Developers see value in California offshore wind development; A task force decision by regulators could open the door to west coast development.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 10, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, BOEM approved plans to open ocean tracts off California’s coast to pilot wind projects.

    State mandates and contractual commitments promise to make offshore wind a key part of the East Coast power mix by the mid-2020s. But offshore wind is not limited to the East. A Sept. 17 meeting of a federal-state Energy Task Force cleared federal permitting obstacles, opening the door to thousands of California coastal wind MWs and the pioneering of floating turbine technology. The current administration sees wind energy as "affordable and reliable," Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Chief of Staff Alex Fitzsimmons told Utility Dive. And because of its high capacity factors, offshore wind "has the potential to contribute to reliability," he added. "It is a critical resource for the future." On Sept. 17, federal regulators approved the first steps toward allowing developers to build off California’s coast and bring prices down enough to begin harvesting wind, just when it will be needed the most.

    Offshore wind has taken on greater significance since the Aug. 29 passage of California's Senate Bill 100, which targets 100% renewables for the state by 2045. California is only at 30% renewables now, despite being the national leader in utility-scale solar and distributed solar capacities and fourth in the nation in wind capacity. Offshore wind could be the needed boost. California's highest peak summer load projection for 2018 was just under 52 GW, according to its grid operator. The state's gross offshore wind resource capacity is 1,698 GW, and six small areas outside existing "use exclusions" have a technical offshore wind resource capacity of 112 GW, according to a 2017 presentation to the Task Force by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Scientist, Walt Musial. Whatever portion of that potential policymakers and stakeholders agree can be harvested would certainly help the state reach its renewables target… click here for more


    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Market-Driven Way To Grow New Energy

    Using Lessons from Reverse Auctions for Renewables to Deliver Energy Storage Capacity: Guidance for Policymakers Maureen Lackner, Steven Koller, Jonathan R Camuzeaux. 24 January 2019 (Review of Environmental Economics and Policy)


    As renewable technologies grow cheaper, intermittency is emerging as a critical challenge for achieving large-scale renewables deployment in the electric power sector. Energy storage is particularly well suited to help integrate renewables into the power sector’s energy mix because of its ability to store excess energy when prices are low, which can then be discharged when prices are high (i.e., energy arbitrage). Based on recent literature, existing data, and conversations with technical experts, this policy brief explores whether reverse auctions, a market-based tool widely used to procure renewables capacity, might also be cost effective for energy storage procurement. Past experience with renewable energy procurement and early evidence from battery storage systems suggest that reverse auctions are a valuable policy tool for driving down the prices of new storage capacity. However, auction design is important not only for competition and price discovery, but also to encourage the participation of developers of innovative technologies and to guarantee timely delivery of new capacity. In particular, we encourage policymakers to consider the multiple grid services that storage systems can provide in order to ensure that reverse auction frameworks accurately price and capture the value of storage system services in meeting electric power grid demand.


    Energy storage systems can store energy in a form that can be converted back to electrical energy when needed, thus offering a promising solution to the challenge of intermittent renewable technologies, a critical constraint to decarbonizing the electric power sector (Chen et al. 2009). In addition to providing a wide range of valuable grid services,1 storage technologies have energy arbitrage (the ability to store excess energy when prices are low, which can then be discharged when prices are high) and reserve capacity (quickly dispatchable backup power) capabilities that are particularly well suited to supporting the integration of renewables into the U.S. electric power sector’s energy mix (Pickard and Abbott 2012; Condon, Revesz, and Unel 2018).

    Although it is clear that policymakers should consider a wide range of technologies to meet their energy storage needs, this policy brief primarily focuses on battery storage.2 In the United States—currently the world’s largest storage market (Manghani and McCarthy 2018)—80% of total deployed large-scale battery storage uses lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2018), and it is projected that in the next few years, the majority of U.S. demand for utility-scale storage capacity (grid-connected systems with nameplate power capacity over 1 megawatt [MW]) will be met by Li-on batteries (US Energy Information Administration 2018; GTM Research and Energy Storage Association 2018). There is not yet a consensus on optimal levels of storage to support renewables integration, and this is a key area for further research. However, one recent analysis suggests that as much as 10,000 GWh will be needed to support an electricity mix in the United States that is two-thirds renewables (Heal 2017). We conservatively estimate that the United States currently has no more than 10 percent of that amount of utility-scale storage capacity,3 and the quantity is likely much lower (U.S. Department of Energy 2018). Thus there is a need for innovative policy solutions that can quickly and cost-effectively increase energy storage deployment in the United States and elsewhere…

    Lessons and Guidance for Effective Policy Design

    Policy design affects auction results in terms of both price and delivery. Although designing auctions to achieve low prices is important, other characteristics of auctions help to ensure delivery of quality projects. Here we present lessons and guidelines aimed at reducing bid prices (guidelines 1–3) and encouraging innovation and delivery of new capacity (guidelines 4 and 5).

    Guideline 1: Encourage a Large Number of Auction Participants

    Economic theory suggests (Bulow and Klemperer 1996) and experience with renewables reverse auctions shows (Shrimali, Kondra, and Farooque 2016) that additional bidders increase competition. Prices are reduced not only because the cheapest technologies are less likely to be excluded from the process (Ferroukhi et al. 2015), but also because collusion and the exercise of market power become more difficult (Kreycik, Couture, and Cory 2011).

    One way to expand the pool of bidders is through technology-neutral auctions, which allow a diverse set of technologies to compete. For example, in Chile, the minimum bid (US$29.10/MWh) in a 2016 technology-neutral auction came from a solar developer, at nearly half the bid of a competing coal company (Johnston 2016). However, this strategy may not be ideal when trying to advance a specific technology; in Germany’s first joint wind and solar auction, solar developers won all of the capacity, which is at odds with Germany’s goal for a balanced mix of renewables (Knight 2018).

    Another way to boost participation is to signal consistent demand with an auction schedule and transparent administrative processes (Kreycik, Couture, and Cory 2011; del Rio and Linares 2014). For example, the number of bidders in South Africa’s auction program increased when organizers started hosting preauction conferences to explain rules and any changes (Ferroukhi et al. 2015).

    Guideline 2: Limit the Amount of Auctioned Capacity

    Auctions can also facilitate competition, and thus lower prices, by auctioning amounts of capacity that the market can easily supply. For example, researchers estimate that introducing a capacity limit significantly reduced winning PV solar bid prices in a South African auction (Shrimali, Kondra, and Farooque 2016). Auction designers can also limit individuals’ market power by capping capacity per bidder (Shrimali, Kondra, and Farooque 2016).

    Guideline 3: Leverage Policy Frameworks and Market Structures

    Recognition of the support provided by additional policies (e.g., tax incentives or mandating that utilities buy renewable electricity at an administratively set price via feed-in tariffs) may increase the effectiveness of an auction program.8 For example, low offshore wind auction prices in Denmark result in part from the government undertaking the risk and financial burden of site selection (Ferroukhi et al. 2015). In some cases, other procurement mechanisms may be better at supporting expensive projects or smaller developers (del Rio and Linares 2014).

    Ensuring that storage systems are able to participate in capacity, energy, and ancillary services markets (as required in the United States under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order No. 841) may also reduce bid prices for projects that include battery storage because developers could then capture additional revenues from grid services beyond energy arbitrage (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 2018). A recent 60 MW contract won by Fluence Energy in the UK’s Capacity Reserve Market highlights the importance of capturing the value from multiple grid services in auction frameworks, as the majority of this project’s revenue will come from frequency regulation services (Spector 2018).9

    Guideline 4: Earmark a Portion of Auctioned Capacity for Less-mature Technologies

    Policymakers can mitigate auctions’ tendency to choose large bidders with established technologies by taking a targeted approach to energy storage procurement (Kreycik, Couture, and Cory 2011; del Rio and Linares 2014), although this may increase prices. For example, Queensland, Australia is conducting a reverse auction for 400 MW of renewable energy capacity, which includes 100 MW earmarked for storage capacity (Queensland Government 2018). If the auction produces low prices, innovative projects, and reliable deployment, this storage-specific reverse auction model may be exportable to other jurisdictions.

    There is some concern that a dominant energy storage technology (i.e., Li-ion) may prevent less-mature technologies from developing, despite their potential suitability to provide certain grid applications in the long run (Hart, Bonvillian, and Austin 2018). Thus policymakers may want to consider reserving some auction capacity for specific types of energy storage technologies to avoid this “lock-in” of a single storage technology.

    Guideline 5: Balance Penalizing Delivery Failures and Fostering Competition

    In general, auctions do not reward cautious bidding, producing a tendency for winning bidders to underestimate costs (Milgrom 1989).10 Although a certain level of failed deployment indicates healthy competition and risk taking, auction design should encourage developers to bid their true costs. Auction design can discourage underbidding by penalizing delivery delays, a symptom of underbidding (del Rio and Linares 2014).

    Auctions can also establish upfront safeguards, such as requiring documentation of financial health, and completion bonds (Elizondo Azuela et al. 2014). However, there must be a balance between guaranteeing project completion and encouraging competition. One less stringent option is to plan for failed deployment by auctioning more quantity than necessary (Kress, Ehrhart, and Haufe 2017).

    Generating revenues from multiple grid services can reduce energy storage bids; however, developers must still deliver the products for which they have contracted. For example, in 2017, Tesla’s Hornsdale Power Reserve, which uses Li-on technology, won a technology-neutral tender by the government of South Australia for new storage capacity. The contract stipulates that the 100 MW/129 MWh system must set aside capacity for specific grid services, including energy arbitrage, reserve capacity, network control, and frequency control (Australian Energy Market Operator 2018).


    In order to build enough energy storage to support the majority-renewables electricity mix needed to achieve long-term emissions targets, policies will be required to foster innovation, drive down costs, and meet procurement targets. We have argued here that reverse auctions, which have been widely used to procure renewables capacity, are likely to become an increasingly popular mechanism for competitive procurement of energy storage. As with renewables, the success of storage auctions will depend on good design. Given the fundamentally different physical and operational characteristics of storage systems, it is crucial for grid operators and utilities to consider the multiple grid services that storage systems are able to provide to ensure that the value of these services is accurately priced and captured within reverse auction frameworks.

    QUICK NEWS, February 26: Panic Before It’s Too Late; Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Right Now

    Panic Before It’s Too Late It is absolutely time to panic about climate change; Author David Wallace-Wells on the dystopian hellscape that awaits us.

    Sean Illing, February 24, 2019 (VOX)

    Editor’s note: Consider this post a tease for a long and informative read. Click through.

    “…[We could potentially avoid 150 million excess premature deaths by the end of century from air pollution (the equivalent of 25 Holocausts or twice the number of deaths from World War II) if we could limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or hold warming at 2 degrees without relying on negative emissions…[and] we’ve done more damage to the environment since the United Nations established its climate change framework in 1992 than we did in all the millennia that preceded it…[according to David Wallace-Wells’s just-released The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

    …[The author told VOX that if] we continue on the track we’re on now,] we could be seeing roughly 64 times as much land burned every year as we saw in 2018, a year that felt completely unprecedented and inflicted unimaginable damage in California…And we see trajectories like this in basically every area of potential climate impact — from impact on agricultural yields, to public health issues, to the relationship between climate change and economic growth, climate change and conflict…And if we don’t change course rapidly, they’re going to get catastrophically worse…[There are experts who believe we’ll get to 2 degrees of warming] as soon as 2030…[but] 2050 is probably a safer assumption…[We’re all beginning to relearn the fact that we live within nature…None of us, no matter where we live, will be able to escape the consequences of this…” click here for more

    Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Right Now Decentralized Renewable Energy Systems: A Status-Quo Analysis

    February 22, 2019 (Advanced Science News)

    “The increasing share of decentralized intermittent renewable energy generation reinforces the necessity of balancing local production and energy consumption. Decentralized renewable energy systems are promising options to cope with this challenge. They are systems of interconnected buildings, which i) are powered by renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind), ii) combine multiple energy carriers (e.g., electricity, heat, hydrogen), and iii) integrate both storage (e.g., batteries, thermal tanks) and conversion (e.g., heat pump, electrolyzer) technologies. At the system level, they can range from single buildings, such as multi-family homes, to groups of buildings within neighborhoods, communities or city quarters.

    Despite high up-front investment costs, these systems can provide numerous benefits: by increasing self-consumption of renewable electricity produced on-site, they can substantially reduce overall energy costs. They demonstrate large synergy potential and high operational flexibility, thereby improving input resource utilization, alleviating stress from the local grid, reducing transmission and distribution losses, and creating a more reliable energy supply…The trend toward decentralized energy systems is likely to be enforced in the future due to widespread reductions in technology costs, further technological learning, and the coupling of [the energy, mobility and industry sectors]…” click here for more

    Monday, February 25, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Jobs In Solar

    National Solar Jobs Census 2018

    February 2019 (The Solar Foundation)

    Executive Summary

    The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2018 is the ninth annual report on employment and workforce trends in the U.S. solar industry, nationwide and state by state. Based on a rigorous survey of U.S. companies, this report represents the most comprehensive analysis of solar labor market trends in the United States.

    This year’s National Solar Jobs Census found that solar employment experienced its second decline since The Solar Foundation first began tracking jobs in 2010. As of November 2018, the solar industry employs over 242,000 solar workers, representing a decline of 3.2%, or 8,000 fewer jobs, since 2017. Since 2010, solar employment has grown 159%, from just over 93,000 to more than 242,000 jobs in all 50 states.

    Key factors behind the decline in solar jobs from 2017 to 2018 include:

    ‹ Uncertainty over the outcome of the Section 201 trade case before the new solar tariffs were announced in January 2018. This uncertainty led to project delays, especially for the larger, utility-scale installations.

    ‹ State policy and economic challenges led to job declines in some states with well-established solar markets.

    Solar Job Trends In 2018

    This report includes up-to-date information on solar jobs state by state, by industry sector, and within demographic groups, as well as employer predictions on future job growth. Other major findings on the U.S. solar workforce, as of November 2018, are as follows:

    ‹ Despite losses in states with well-established solar markets, 29 states saw solar job growth in 2018, including many states with emerging solar markets. States that experienced significant gains in employment included Florida (+1,769 jobs), Illinois (+1,308), Texas (+739), New York (+718), Ohio (+644), and Washington (+612).

    ‹ The states that experienced the largest job reductions between 2017 and 2018 included California (-9,576 jobs), Massachusetts (-1,320), North Carolina (-903), Arizona (-857), Maryland (-808), New Jersey (-696), Georgia (-614), and Hawaii (-595). California, home to about 40% of U.S. solar capacity, still has by far the most jobs nationwide. In 2018, Florida overtook Massachusetts as the state ranking second to California in total solar jobs.

    ‹ In 2018, the Solar Jobs Census for the first time included jobs data for Puerto Rico, which has approximately 2,000 solar workers. These jobs are not included in the total job count for the 2018 Census for the purposes of comparison to previous years.

    ‹ For the first time, this year’s Census also tallied jobs in solar + storage. Within firms that focus primarily on battery storage, there were 3,900 jobs directly linked to solar in 2018.*

    ‹ Long-term solar jobs growth remains positive. In the five-year period between 2013 and 2018, solar employment increased 70% overall, adding 100,000 jobs. By comparison, overall U.S. employment grew only 9.13% during that same period.

    ‹ Solar represents about 2.4% of overall U.S. electricity generation, yet it employs twice as many workers as the coal industry and almost five times as many workers as the nuclear industry.1 In the energy sector, only the oil/ petroleum and natural gas industries have more employment than solar.† Solar employs more workers per unit of generation due to the industry’s high growth rate, creating thousands of jobs associated with construction.

    ‹ Demand-side sectors (comprised of the installation and project development sector, and the wholesale trade and distribution sector) make up 76% of overall solar industry employment (184,400 jobs), while manufacturing represents 14% (33,700 jobs) and operations and maintenance comprises just under 5% (11,000 jobs). The “other” sector, which includes engineering, legal, and financing firms, represents just over 5% (13,000 jobs).

    ‹ About 155,000 solar jobs, or two-thirds of the total, are in the installation and project development sector. Of these, about 87,000 jobs (56%) are focused on the residential market segment. Just under 30%, or 46,000 jobs, focus on non-residential (including about 12,500 jobs in community solar). The utility-scale market comprises the remaining 22,000 jobs in this sector (14%).

    ‹ Respondents to the Census survey predicted that total U.S. solar industry employment would reach about 259,400 jobs by the end of 2019, a 7% increase year-over-year.

    The U.S. Solar Workforce

    In addition to this overall employment data, the National Solar Jobs Census includes detailed information on other aspects of the solar workforce and industry trends, including; sector and segment analyses; demographics and diversity; hiring challenges; industry wages; and educational requirements. It also includes in-depth case studies of select solar companies to provide further insight into the U.S. solar workforce.

    The solar industry is more diverse than comparable industries, but still not representative of the greater U.S. population. In 2018, women represented 26.3% of the solar workforce, Latino or Hispanic workers represented 16.9%, Asian workers comprised 8.5%, and black or African American workers comprised 7.6%. The percentage of solar workers who are veterans declined from 8.6% in 2017 to 7.8% in 2018.

    Twenty-six percent of solar establishments reported that it was “very difficult” to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, an increase of 44% from the 18% reporting such challenges in 2017. This increase is not surprising given the tight labor market.

    Experience remains the most important hiring requirement for all sectors, with solar establishments requiring experience for 60% of their new hires. That number increased from 55% of new hires in 2017. The proportion of Bachelor’s degrees required, 21%, was similar to that of 2017.

    Solar industry wages remain competitive with similar industries and above the national median wage ($18.12) for all occupations.2 The median reported wage for non-electrician photovoltaic (PV) installers is $18.92 for entry-level workers and $28.11 for mid-level workers. The median reported wage for electrician PV installers is $24.32 for entry-level workers and $32.43 for mid-level workers.

    Toward A Bright Solar Future

    Despite two years of decline in solar employment, solar installations are expected to ramp up over the coming years and new job opportunities will likely follow. The rapidly declining cost of hardware is making solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Policy support from many state governments will also aid the solar industry’s growth.

    While these are reasons for optimism, the urgent challenge of climate change means the progress we have seen to date is not nearly enough. Solar energy will need to develop and expand even faster in order to reduce carbon emissions to sustainable levels. If this can be achieved, a host of additional benefits will follow, including new solar job growth.

    QUICK NEWS, February 25: Climate Change And Human Personality; Conservative Voters Want Climate Change Solutions

    Climate Change And Human Personality We Are The People of the Apocalypse; Clinical psychologist John F. Schumaker reveals the dangerous erosion of human personality at the heart of modern consumer culture.

    John F. Schumaker, December 14, 2018 (Films For Action)

    “…While the ever-deepening mental-health crisis is common knowledge, less understood is the even more serious ‘personality crisis’ that has rendered the consuming public largely unfit for democracy and nigh useless in the face of the multiple emergencies that beg for responsible and conscientious citizenship…50 years ago, [psychologist Erich Fromm used the term] ‘marketing personality’ to describe the one-dimensional, commodified and de-sensitized ‘eternal suckling’ that was…succumbing to a culturally manufactured ‘consensus of stupidity’ that could prove our ultimate undoing. Since then, the ‘social character’ has become so stunted, and the decline of true citizenship so complete, that some now speak of the ‘apocalyptic personality’ propelling our rush toward self-destruction…

    …[T]he climate crisis cries loudest for responsible citizenship and leadership. It is by far the greatest moral, ethical and psycho-social challenge encountered by our species. But the cultural conditions that foster collective responsibility, other-mindedness and conscience development have eroded…[C]limate concern is on a downward slope, with recent years showing the most precipitous decline…[Research shows] consumer culture has endowed its ‘unfinished personalities’ with minimal aptitude or motivation for constructive disobedience…[Today’s youths] are the most conventional and conformist generation in history – with most being huddled around the same dead zone of market-driven values, commercialized meanings, and digital distractions…Who we are has never been more incompatible with who we need to be. What we have become is the greatest threat to ourselves and the planet…” click here for more

    Conservative Voters Want Climate Change Solutions Survey Release: Midterm Voters Want Action On Clean Energy Policy

    Charles Hernick, December 6, 2018 (Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum)

    “…[There is] strong support among Republicans and Democrats alike for government action to accelerate development and use of clean energy in the United States…[And] a supermajority of voters (81%) across party affiliations and all four regions of the country say they would vote for elected officials who support clean energy development such as wind and solar…[According to a national post-election survey from a conservative group, clean] energy was important to voters in 2018 and will be a key issue in future elections…Most voters want the United States to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind, solar, and hydropower…

    Among voters, 74% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on solar power, 64% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on wind power, and 54% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on hydropower…[Only] 42% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on natural gas, 27% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on nuclear power, and 16% say the U.S. should put more emphasis on coal…Voters favor government action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the U.S. but prefer to drive development through free-market policies…Support is strong among Republicans (67%), Independents (76%), and Democrats (95%). Suburban women (85%) are notably outpacing the topline support for government action…When given a choice, nearly two-thirds of voters (63%) would prefer increasing clean energy development through competition and free-market policies, while 31% favor government mandates and quotas…” click here for more

    Saturday, February 23, 2019

    Seth Meyers On The Actual Emergency

    A reasonable person might say “What can we do to stop it?” but this guy wants to rake leaves amid a wildfire. From Late Night with Seth Meyers via YouTube

    Solar Floats

    Japan is taking the world lead in building solar on lakes and oceans, where it is unobstructed by shade, reduces evaporation, and eliminates troubling land-use permitting. From Climate Reality via YouTube

    The Truth About Wind Incentives

    Permanent subsidies are what Old Energy now needs to stay competitive because the temporary incentives provided to wind (and solar) – now being withdrawn – have turned New Energy into the better deal. That’s how energy markets are supposed to work. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    Friday, February 22, 2019

    The Trillion Dollar Innovation Opportunity

    Climate change is a disruptor. Here’s how to harness it for innovation

    Nigel Topping, 22 February 2019 (World Economic Forum)

    “…The need to act on climate change is the greatest potential cause of disruption faced by new and established businesses alike, and is also the greatest catalyst for innovation for those willing to harness it…Sustainable business models have the potential to unlock $12 trillion in new market value, according to a report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission…[The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) has already led to] more than $150 billion in investments to achieve collective production targets of over 13 million EVs annually by around 2025…Businesses that rely on cars and trucks for their operations are also responding, by embracing the shift to find new ways of creating value…[Chemical companies are using biomass] to generate power…

    [Spain’s largest utility Iberdrola] is committed to developing a business strategy fully aligned with its climate goals, with more than €32 billion of investments, from 2018 to 2022, focusing on renewable energies and networks…[Ørsted, the largest utility in Denmark,] transformed its entire business model to become a clean energy company – shifting its supply from coal and oil to clean sources like wind. In Denmark alone, Ørsted now accounts for more than half of the entire country’s CO2 reduction since 2006 – helping the country to achieve its Paris climate commitments…Constraint has always been a driver of innovation; and what clearer constraint could there be than the biophysical limits of our planetary system. It is truer now than ever that necessity is indeed the mother of invention…” click here for more

    New Energy To Dominate By 2040 – BP

    Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP; Annual energy forecast predicts record surge in wind, solar and other renewables

    Adam Vaughan, 14 February 2019 (UK Guardian)

    “…[New Energy is] establishing a foothold in the global energy system faster than any fuel in history…[W]ind, solar and other renewables will account for about 30% of the world’s electricity supplies by 2040…[up from] about 10% today…[In regions such as Europe, they] will be as high as 50% by 2040. The speed of growth was without parallel, [according to oil giant BP’s] annual energy outlook

    …While oil took almost 45 years to go from 1% of global energy to 10%, and gas took more than 50 years, renewables are expected to do so within [15 years to] 25 years…[But] BP sees a ‘major role’ for hydrocarbons until 2040, which it says will require substantial investment…The company has ambitious plans to grow its oil and gas production 16% by 2025…The report is gloomy on prospects for avoiding dangerous levels of global warming. The central scenario expects carbon emissions to grow 10% by 2040…[Driven by government policies, technological change and the falling costs of wind and solar power, New Energy is] expected to grow by 7.1% each year over the next two decades, eventually displacing coal as the world’s top source of power by 2040…” click here for more

    New Policies For New Energy

    New solutions proposed for renewable energy scaleup

    Tim Sandle, February 21, 2019 (Digital Journal)

    “…[Innovation in the energy sector can pave the way for the next stage of global energy transformation, focusing on delivering renewable solutions and meeting future demand…[A country-by-country analysis [from the International Renewable Energy Agency] looks at synergies between various innovative solutions relating to business models, market design, new technologies and methods of operation…[When appropriately linked, they can lower costs and] enable countries to operate in a more flexible way…

    [N]ations at the cutting edge of the energy transformation are [cost-effectively] generating over one-third of their energy needs from variable renewables, such as solar and wind power…[For effective scaleup of renewables, more emphasis is required on such] innovation trends as digitalization, decentralization and electrification of the end-use sectors…[This offers opportunities] for a range of technology providers, especially startups…[in] distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar PV installations, micro wind turbines, battery energy storage systems, plug-in electric vehicles and smart home appliances…” click here for more

    Thursday, February 21, 2019

    The Climate Change-Obesity-Malnutrition Link

    Exploring the Intricate Link between Climate Change and Obesity

    Aafrin Kidwai, February 18, 2019 (The Times Of India)

    “…[O]besity and climate change have common drivers and mitigating actions…The [four major] drivers include food and agriculture, transportation, urban design, and land use…Rising temperatures, variable rainfall, extreme weather events and loss of agricultural land due to droughts and floods are impacting food production, availability and access around the world…Undernutrition and obesity are two forms of malnutrition… Severe food insecurity is associated with lower obesity prevalence, but mild to moderate food insecurity is, paradoxically, associated with higher obesity prevalence among vulnerable populations living on marginal-quality diets and ultra-processed food products…Undernutrition in early life increases the risk of adult obesity, [according to ‘The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition and Climate Change

    …The word ‘syndemic’ here means a set of linked health problems—in this case obesity, under-nutrition and climate change—which exacerbates the burden of disease in a population…Climate change will increase undernutrition through increased food insecurity from extreme weather events, droughts, and shifts in agriculture. Climate change also affects the prices of basic food commodities, especially fruits and vegetables, potentially increasing consumption of processed foods…[The report] is scathing in its criticism of corporations and governments chasing profit and power, ignoring the public health and environmental damage caused by current food systems, transportation, urban design and land use…From the availability and affordability of healthy foods to walkable, cycle-friendly streets and energy conserving mass transport, the agenda for action is clear. Governments and business cannot shrug their responsibility…” click here for more

    The Polar Vortex Reveal About 100% New Energy

    100% Renewable Energy Needs Lots of Storage. This Polar Vortex Test Showed How Much; Energy analysts used power demand data from the Midwest’s January deep freeze and wind and solar conditions to find the gaps in an all-renewable power grid.

    Dan Gearino, February 20, 2019 (Inside Climate News)

    “…[Energy analysts used energy production and power demand data from the 2019 Polar Vortex to show how much energy storage would have been needed by] a 100 percent renewable energy grid, powered half by wind and half by solar…[The analysis found] storage would need to go from about 11 gigawatts today to 277.9 gigawatts…[That is about double the] current forecast for energy storage nationwide in 2040…The country would need] a huge build-out of wind, solar and energy storage, plus interstate power lines… During the Jan. 27 – Feb. 2 polar vortex event, the analysts test case of 50 percent wind, 50 percent solar would have had gaps of up to 18 hours in which renewable sources were not producing enough electricity to meet the high demand, so storage systems would need to fill in…

    The grid would have to be designed to best use wind and solar when they're available, and to store the excess when those resources are providing more electricity than needed, a fundamental shift from the way most of the system is managed today…[and] energy storage will need to be more than just batteries…[S]uch a transition can be done and is in line with what state and local governments and utilities are already moving toward…Local politics may be the most challenging part of quickly making an all-renewable electricity system…[C]ommunities would need to be willing to host those projects along with the transmission lines that would move the electricity…” click here for more

    Paths To New Energy For New Businesses

    How To Use Renewable Energy At Your Business

    Peter Ward, February 15, 2019 (Forbes)

    “…[T]he energy we use must -come from somewhere…[and it] almost always results in ecological impact, usually in the form of carbon emissions…Switching out your on-premise servers in favor of a cloud solution will, relatively speaking, reduce the emissions your business produces…[and] you’re doing the environment a solid…[But grabbing the financial benefits by] moving to a cloud provider is a given for most companies…[and] the environmentally friendly byproduct of doing so is an afterthought…For most businesses that are looking to implement green power for their facilities, there are a couple of different approaches…

    The first is an onsite installation with equipment you buy or lease. Power is supplied from a renewable energy source that’s installed at your location…A second option is [contracting for] power from renewable energy sources…[Through a small premium on the cost, the Microsoft VFA eliminates risk for the buyer from these contracts, allowing businesses to] access a stable, green energy supply without the investment in your own renewable energy supplies or dealing with [contract] uncertainties…[Renewable energy can] save your business money in the long term, whether investing in your own equipment or utilizing a VFA. Plus, it’s an ecologically sound way to power your business…” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar boom raises questions about coal in utility power mixes

    Co-op solar boom raises questions about coal in utility power mixes; One of the largest power co-ops in the U.S. gets half its power from coal, but a new study finds it could save money by procuring more renewables.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 6, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, more evidence has emerged that the low cost of renewables makes further spending on fossil fuel generation wasteful.

    A boom in solar at electric cooperatives is forcing one of the biggest such power providers in the U.S. to answer some hard questions about its power mix. Tri-State Generation and Transmission still gets half its power from coal, even as co-op owned and purchased solar is reaching nine times what it was in 2013. But a new report shows Tri-State, already the biggest supplier of solar among U.S. generation and transmission (G&T) co-ops, can lower customer bills by increasing its procurement of wind and solar, despite its existing coal investments. RMI found the costs of utility-scale solar and wind are so low that acquiring them can save Tri-State customers as much as $600 million through 2030 even if it continues paying for and running the coal plants.

    Tri-State does not doubt the importance of adding more solar and other renewables to its power mix. It does, however, question the accuracy and value of RMI's conclusions. But if the think tank is right, the remarkable boom in solar for co-ops, their power providers and other load serving entities may be just getting started. Less than 1% of co-ops had solar arrays bigger than 250 kW in 2014, but by mid-2018 the average co-op solar project is over 1 MW, half of U.S. co-ops have solar offerings, and cumulative co-op installed capacity will be over 1 GW by the end of 2018, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Early deployed projects tested equipment and designs at a cost of $4.50 per peak watt DC, but recent projects came in at $1.30 per peak watt DC. The early growth driver was member demand for solar, but most co-ops now see it as cost-effective generation, but some co-ops now understand solar’s value for meeting challenges like peak load costs or resiliency needs… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Questions about EV battery degradation refuted

    Face the heat: Should EV incentives be restructured for battery degradation? A new study advocates scaling electric vehicle incentives based on how quickly batteries wear out, but critics say it misses the bigger picture.

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 28, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: EV advocates believe the study research highlighted in this story was influenced by fossil fuel funding.

    The striking growth of electric vehicles (EVs) has been supported by policies intended to eliminate emissions and transform the transportation sector. A century after EVs fell out of the car market because gasoline-powered vehicles were cheaper to operate, forecasts show battery-powered transportation could take the market back because it is cleaner and becoming affordable. But a new paper proposes revising EV policy because batteries degrade over time, increasing costs and emissions. EV experts say the research is incomplete and outdated.

    EVs will be 24% of U.S. light-vehicle fleet in 2030, according to "Predictive modeling of battery degradation and greenhouse gas emissions" from Case Western Reserve University researchers. They will be 33% of the global feet in 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s 2018 forecast, and 30%, according to BP’s 2018 forecast. Transportation sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 28% of total U.S. GHGs in 2016 and cars and trucks were 83% of that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has targeted a 36.5% reduction in light duty vehicle fleet GHG emissions by 2025, the Case Western paper reports, but with degradation and internal resistance increases, the charge-discharge cycle becomes significantly less efficient. Emissions from EVs vary with the power mixes on the grids charging them between a 50 MPG equivalent and an 80 MPG equivalent, according to a 2018 assessment by Union of Concerned Scientists… click here for more


    Tuesday, February 19, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy Beat Old Energy In The Polar Vortex

    Performance review: nuclear, fossil fuels, and renewables during the 2019 Polar Vortex

    February 2019 (Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables)

    Key Takeaways

    -The 2019 Polar Vortex weather event was not as severe as the one in 2014, particularly for the gas market

    -Generator and fuel supply outages were much lower compared to 2014

    -On the whole, each asset class ran exactly as designed/expected.

    -Wind generation was intermittent and generally anti-correlated to load, performing well during portions of the event and displacing fossil fuels

    -Solar power exhibited expected diurnal intermittency, helping with average on-peak demand, but not during the morning and evening peak loads

    -Coal plants load-followed when needed, ran baseload when needed, and "absorbed" high wind generation by backing down when needed

    -Gas and Hydro/PS plants provided flexibility, ramping as needed and serving peak loads

    -Nuclear fleet ran at >98% capacity factor, with one outage at the Salem plant in New Jersey

    -In regions with high levels of wind capacity, (MISO, SPP) -- wind generation is often is a better indicator of directional changes in power prices than load

    -High wind generation = lower prices; low wind generation = higher prices

    -Transmission dynamics create big price differentials within and between ISO markets

    -MISO Central/North was the bullseye of the Polar Vortex in terms of load impacts and high power prices. Meanwhile, limited transmission capacity meant MISO South power prices remained low throughout.

    -As the cold abated in SPP, it was also unable to provide support to MISO and PJM due to transmission limitations

    -Replaying the 2019 polar vortex conditions with 100% renewables:

    -Any mix of wind and solar to serve load would require long-duration storage or optimization of multiple “stages” of shorter duration

    -Assuming no transmission constraints and unfettered access to a wider pool of resources, the market would require firm generation for durations ranging from 18 and 40 hours to backstop renewable intermittency

    -With long stretches of storage ‘charge’ and ‘discharge’, multi-day forecasting of intermittent output would be critical

    -Existing Nuclear reduces the magnitude of hourly generation imbalances

    -Distributed or demand-side technologies may help reduce peak load requirements and the need for utility-scale energy storage

    The 2019 Polar Vortex has similarities to the 2014 version, but several key differences, particularly in the gas market, mitigated its impacts

    -In 2014, the deep freeze extended further south in the US into larger gas demand centers

    -The extreme cold in 2019 was more localized to the Upper Midwest (lower gas demand region)

    -While not escaping the cold entirely, New York and New England were more akin to “normal cold” during this latest event, rather than “extreme cold” experienced in MISO Central/North

    -The 2014 event was more prolonged, lasting several days, whereas 2019 was acute but followed by a rapid warm-up

    -In 2019, grid operators were better prepared, and there were fewer power plant outages

    -A warm end of 2018 assuaged fears of low end-of-season natural gas storage levels…

    -…so the fears of natural gas stock out were minimal in 2019 compared to 2014, which had multi-day record cold and large storage withdrawals.

    -Weekly gas withdrawal hit a high of 288 bcf in 2014 (with six total withdrawals in the 200s) during the winter of ‘13/14, while we estimate the latest event at 246 bcf. For comparison, the early January 2018 Bomb Cyclone saw an all-time record 359 bcf withdrawal.

    -As such, gas market volatility remained largely in check with muted basis compared to 2014

    -By extension, power prices also remained in check with a few exceptions

    -In the analysis presented in this Insight:

    -We analyze data published by the US RTOs primarily affected by the Polar Vortex

    -We refer to the combination of MISO, SPP, PJM, NYISO, and ISONE as the ‘Aggregate footprint’

    -Due to disparate weather patterns across MISO (North + Central vs. South), a limited impact of the Polar Vortex on the South region, and limited transfer capability between these two bulk regions, our references to “MISO” refer to the aggregate North + Central regions, except where otherwise noted…

    What would 100% renewables look like during the 2019 Polar Vortex event?

    Using actual market data we scale up to a 100% renewable energy mix over the week

    1.Align real-world market loads, wind and solar generation

    2.Scale up real-world wind and solar hourly shapes to a theoretical 100% renewable mix under three scenarios: 50-50% of wind & solar…75% wind & 25% solar…25% solar & 75% wind

    1.Calculate the resulting “net load” to be served after wind and solar generation

    2.Determine the longest streak of consecutive hours where net load is either all positive or all negative – this indicates the level of battery storage required to arbitrage periods of over-generation into periods of system need

    3.Determine the max generation output of wind and solar as an estimate for the installed capacity need

    4.Replicate this same analysis, but consider nuclear generation towards achieving 100% “clean”

    Key notes: This analysis assumes zero transmission, voltage, or spinning inertia constraints on a combined aggregate system of MISO/SPP/PJM/NYISO/ISO-NE...In reality, the ICAP values of wind/solar will be higher than those estimated as neither fleet produced at 100% during the week…This does not consider imbalances or analysis of the rest of the year…MISO and NY do not publish solar generation data. As a proxy we averaged SPP + PJM for MISO solar and used ISO-NE for NY solar