NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2019 - 05/01/2019/


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

    Tuesday, April 30, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Grid To Electrify The Economy

    The Coming Electrification of the North American Economy; Why We Need a Robust Transmission Grid

    Jürgen Weiss J. Michael Hagerty María Castañer, March 2019 (The Brattle Group)

    Executive Summary

    Over the coming decades, Western economies will become more highly driven by electric power than they are today. As public policies and consumer choices reflect concerns about fossil fuel consumption, and low-carbon technologies continue to develop, a growing share of the economy will rely on low-carbon electricity to fuel cars, to heat homes and businesses, and to provide process heat at industrial facilities. In fact, the energy industry is already changing rapidly in this direction. In the electric sector, technological progress and public policies are driving a shift towards cost-competitive renewable generation. One example is that Xcel Energy is reducing its emissions by 80% by 2030 and fully decarbonizing its fleet by 2050. A second one is the announcement by Florida Power & Light that it plans to install 30 million solar panels by 2030 in a state without renewable energy standard or carbon emissions goals.

    In the broader economy, electrification of sectors currently “powered” by fossil fuels is becoming more prevalent. For example, there are now one million electric vehicles on the road in the United States and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) forecasts 7 million by 2025. Vehicle manufacturers have announced over 60 new electric light-duty models, released several electric commercial vans, begun to develop electric pickup trucks and semi-trucks that may be available in the early 2020s, and in some cases announced plans to phase out the production of all internal combustion engine vehicles. Electric heat pumps, which are already common in moderate climates, are becoming cheaper and more efficient in colder climates. And advances in technology could even make electrifying industrial processes increasingly possible.

    Electrification of these sectors could significantly increase electricity demand. To meet this rising demand, additional low-carbon electricity generation resources will need to be built and supported by adequate and robust transmission and distribution infrastructure.

    These developments pose sizeable challenges to the existing patchwork of power systems primarily built to provide reliable electricity at the local or sub-regional level and require a broader view of the role of the bulk power system. This study seeks to provide insights into whether the electric grid will be able to support the transition to a low-carbon future and the extent to which additional and forward-looking investment in electric infrastructure will be necessary.

    The report finds that $30–90 billion dollars of incremental transmission investments will be necessary in the U.S. by 2030 to meet the changing needs of the system due to electrification, with an additional $200–600 billion needed from 2030 to 2050. These investments will be in addition to the investments needed to maintain the existing transmission system and to integrate renewable generation built to meet existing load. Figure ES-1 shows that this level of investment is equivalent to $3–$7 billion per year on average through 2030, a 20–50% increase over annual average spending on transmission during the past 10 years; and $7–$25 billion per year on average between 2030 and 2050, a 50–170% annual increase in transmission investment.

    Two primary factors drive the need for more transmission infrastructure in an electrified future: (1) connecting additional renewable generation resources to serve the total energy demand; and (2) ensuring that the electricity system remains reliable with increasing peak demands. Both drivers depend on the pace and scale of the adoption of electrification across the economy.

    By 2030, electrification could increase nationwide annual energy demand by 5% to 15% (200 to 600 TWh) and by 25% to 85% (1,100 to 3,700 TWh) by 2050, as shown below in Figure ES-2. 2 For these projections to materialize by 2030, the current momentum towards EVs continues to accelerate and heat pumps become a competitive space heating technology in certain markets. Between 2030 and 2050 electric transportation becomes the dominant transportation technology and heat pumps penetrate a significant portion of the housing stock. The high electrification case assumes that electrification “powers” all transportation and space and water heating needs by 2050.

    The mix of new generation resources serving electrification-related demand will differ by region due to differences in resource availability, technology costs, and policy objectives, as shown in Figure ES-3. Overall, 70 GW to 200 GW of additional new power generation will be necessary by 2030 to meet the additional electrification related demand, assuming a 75% share of renewable resources and a 25% share of natural gas-fired resources. A high share of renewables is consistent with a recent trend towards utilities, states, and consumers increasingly choosing low-cost renewable generation to meet rising load, to reduce costs, or to replace emitting resources like coal and gas fired generation. This trend will likely be more pronounced in certain regions such as the Pacific West and Northeast. Assuming that the share of renewable generation further increases to 90% by 2050, an additional 200 GW to 800 GW of generation resources need to be built between 2030 and 2050 to meet the anticipated incremental electrification demand. These generation additions are incremental to the new resources that will replace generation from existing power plants or to meet the load growth of traditional electricity end-uses.

    While distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) generation may meet some of the incremental load, most of the incremental renewable generation will likely be utility-scale solar and wind generation. A recent NREL assessment indicates that even if solar panels were installed on every single appropriate building across the country, they would meet about 40% of the current electricity demand. 3 Since anything near full realization of this technical maximum potential for distributed solar PV is very unlikely to be achieved, a realistic build-out of distributed solar PV will at most displace a portion of the existing generation resources. Sources of growing demand, such as from electrification, would then need to primarily be met with utility-scale resources located further away from load centers. In addition, local resources like distributed solar PV in most cases are not substitutes for transmission and will still rely indirectly on the high-voltage transmission system due to their variable nature and the mismatch between the timing of their generation and electricity demand.4

    While these incremental transmission investments are substantial relative to historic investment levels, the resulting impact on customer rates is likely very modest or even beneficial for three reasons: (1) transmission costs represent a small share of customer rates; (2) the total transmission investment will be spread over greater electricity demand with electrification; and, (3) the higher costs of transmission are likely to be offset by lower generation costs. In fact, the 20–50% increase in transmission spending projected by 2030 represents only a 1–4% increase in rates on a per kWh basis before accounting for offsetting savings in generation costs. By enabling access to lower-cost, non-local renewable energy resources, generation costs could be lower by about 2–5%. Since the cost of generation counts for the largest share in customer rates, the additional spending on transmission could result in a reduction in customer rates.5

    These savings can only materialize, however, if the transmission system is built out in anticipation of the rising demand from electrification of various sectors and the associated need for renewable generation additions. This scale of transmission needs and the long lead times for transmission investments highlight several important takeaways for transmission planners and policymakers:

    • It is increasingly important for policymakers that set clean energy and decarbonization goals to gain an appreciation for: (1) the transmission system investments that will be necessary to cost effectively achieve these goals and (2) the potential risks of coming up short on achieving those goals, or doing so at higher costs to the consumer, by moving too slowly on upgrading the transmission system.

    • Transmission planners will need to start anticipating the impact of electrification and integrate it into their transmission planning processes.6 This is particularly important in the Pacific West and the Northeast—the regions with higher concentrations of first adopters of electric vehicles and more immediate, more ambitious policy targets.

    • Transmission planners will need to adapt their analyses to account for the uncertainty in the timing, location, and scale of the adoption of electrified loads and the addition of renewable resources. Adding transmission in anticipation of load growth can be seen as an insurance policy against the alternative of being unprepared for rising demand and relying on short term and potentially much higher cost solutions that may also be unable to meet emissions mandates.

    • Transmission planners should continue to expand their consideration of larger scale interregional, and even national-level, projects in their studies. Transmission upgrades that increase capacity across regions will become more important in an electrified, clean energy future as seasonal disparities in peak loads and renewable generation patterns become more significant and the diversification of load served by the renewable generation becomes a key component of integrating clean resources.

    Because charging infrastructure is such an important enabler of the electrification of transportation, existing transmission infrastructure could also facilitate the development of highway corridor and urban fast charging stations.

    Direct current fast charging (DCFC) is essential to making long-distance trips via electric vehicles feasible. Because fast charging requires large amounts of power, DCFC complexes, especially along highway corridors, will likely become major sources of demand over time with each one representing 5–10 MW of peak demand or more. Connecting loads of this size to the existing distribution system can be time-consuming and require costly network upgrades. Close proximity of transmission infrastructure to convenient locations for DCFC complexes could therefore provide opportunities for cost savings and faster build-out of charging infrastructure.

    Recent research suggests that 400–800 DCFC complexes would be needed to establish an initial network capable of overcoming existing hurdles related to EV adoption if spaced 35–70 miles apart along major highways. 7 As Figure ES-4 shows, there are about 400 substations with transformers of 69kV or less located less than a mile away from highway exits. These locations are potential candidates for siting a DCFC complex that is conveniently located within close proximity to highway corridors. Approximately 1,500 more are located less than two miles from such a transformer. Additional opportunities exist at existing highway rest areas. Locating fast chargers at these locations will allow the existing transmission assets to play an important role in facilitating the rapid and comprehensive build-out of the infrastructure needed to facilitate the transformation of the transportation system towards electric vehicles.

    Determining the locations best suited for developing DCFC stations along highway corridors requires a more in-depth, location-specific analysis, including whether or not particular existing transmission assets have spare capacity, existing rights of way, potential for permitting issues, or whether connecting to a local distribution network could be a lower cost alternative. Even in cases where connecting to the local distribution network is more cost effective than connecting directly to the transmission system, taking into account suitable local transmission infrastructure when choosing the location of fast charging sites may provide opportunities for lowering the cost of developing and interconnecting DCFC complexes.

    Finally, existing transmission infrastructure could facilitate the development of DCFC infrastructure in urban areas. However, opportunities there likely depend more on the specific transmission infrastructure and DCFC charging requirements in each city in question.

    Overall, transmission will play a critical role as the economy moves toward electrification of various end-uses. Transmission investments will be needed to connect cost-effective new renewable generation to serve the additional electrification-related demand. Further, the existing transmission infrastructure can be leveraged to more cost-effectively support the development of fast-charging infrastructure along highway corridors and perhaps in some urban settings. The analysis shows that a robust transmission infrastructure can reduce the cost and speed up the transition to an electrified transportation future.

    QUICK NEWS, April 30: Your Brain On Climate Change; New Energy Moves Ahead Of Coal

    Your Brain On Climate Change Why your brain doesn’t register the words ‘climate change’

    Kate Yoder, April 29, 2019 (Grist)

    …According to recent neuroscience research, people will respond more if the terms “global warming” and “climate change” with the term “climate crisis,” which] got a 60 percent greater emotional response from listeners…[The widely-regarded SPARK Neuro found, from a bipartisan focus group, that “global warming” and “climate change” performed the worst of six] terms of emotional engagement and audience attention…[More response came to] climate crisis, environmental destruction, weather destabilization, and environmental collapse…It’s the latest sign that climate change communicators have a whole lot to learn from cognitive science…

    [It is thought “global warming” and “climate change” performed poorly because they have been overexposed and are] neutral phrases…[People who care about the climate crisis] are starting to realize the power of words…The two phrases that caused the strongest emotional reaction overall were “climate crisis” and “environmental destruction…” [But a strong emotional response like that evoked by “environmental destruction” can] have a “backfiring effect…” [“Climate crisis”] was the Goldilocks of the study — not too weak, not too strong. Among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, it caused a strong emotional reaction…[It allows] people to pay more attention and encourages a sense of urgency…” click here for more

    New Energy Moves Ahead Of Coal America's renewable energy set to surpass coal for the first month ever

    Matt Egan, April 29, 2019 (CNN)

    “…The renewable energy sector is projected to [for the first time] generate more electricity than coal during the month of April, according to a recent report…[Coal was already replaced as the power sector leader by] natural gas, a much cleaner burning fossil fuel…[A decade ago, U.S. New Energy] had little presence other than hydro power. But a wave of investment — first into wind, and then solar — has made these new technologies far cheaper…At the same time, increased awareness about climate change has led many American businesses, households and state legislatures to demand cleaner energy…

    [U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics project New Energy (hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal) to] sporadically exceed coal in 2019 and 2020…[The shift will initially be when hydro and wind increase in the spring and] coal plants shut down for maintenance…[New Energy is projected to be the fastest-growing source for power generation for at least the next two years and will pass] coal on an annual basis…Coal's share of total power generation tumbled from 45% in 2010 to 28% in 2018…[and is] expected to dip to just 24% in 2020…The problem for coal is economics…[Energy Innovation found wind and solar costs] have plunged so drastically that 74% of the US coal fleet could be replaced by renewable energy and still save customers money…” click here for more

    Monday, April 29, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Utility Of The Future, By The Numbers

    Digital Innovation; Creating The Utility of the Future

    Jian Wei, Andrew Slaughter, Suzanne Sanborn, April 9, 2019 (Deloitte Insights)

    As disruptive forces transform the power and utilities sector, many companies are turning to digital technologies and a more innovative mindset to thrive in the new era. Those that don’t seize the opportunity to evolve risk being left behind or displaced by more agile players.


    THE power and utilities sector was traditionally where many parents or grandparents parked their savings as they got older, attracted by low volatility and stable returns. While solid and dependable, the sector wasn’t generally considered cutting-edge, innovative, or exciting by any stretch of the word. Its main goal was to keep the lights on without breaking the bank. Fast forward to today and, while still laser-focused on reliability and affordability, the power and utilities sector appears to be morphing into an increasingly attractive, high-tech magnet for a multitude of new players. From large conglomerates in the technology, retail, oil, and other sectors to asset managers and hot new tech startups, a lot of outsiders are looking to enter this market.

    Why? The sector is being reshaped by forces that have been evolving and converging for more than a decade. From rising costs and changing load patterns, to newly viable technologies, regulatory change, and the growing call to decarbonize, disruptive forces are transforming the industry, driving it toward a new and different future. And that future could be bright.

    Opportunities abound in today’s power and utilities sector, and more will likely open as the future unfolds, marked by three growing trends: electrification, decarbonization, and decentralization. To further reduce carbon emissions, some groups are advocating electrification of end uses such as transportation, water and space heating, and industrial processes. In transportation, a projected 55 percent of global new car sales and 33 percent of the global fleet may be electric by 2050, accounting for about 9 percent of electricity demand.1 And that electricity is becoming cleaner, with emission-free sources such as wind and solar power projected to reach as much as 48 percent of total global electricity generation by 2050 from about 8 percent currently.2 In the United States, power sector carbon emissions were down 28 percent from a 2005 baseline at the end of 2018, and many power companies have voluntarily committed to reduce emissions as much as 80 percent from the 2005 level by 2050.3 At the same time, the traditionally centralized, hub-and-spoke power grid continues to decentralize, as deployment of distributed energy resources such as solar PV and battery storage rises rapidly. Global battery storage capacity at customer sites is projected to rise by 516 GW by 2050.4

    Overlaying these trends is the advance of digital technologies, sometimes at a breath-taking pace. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and blockchain can catalyze new business or operating models, help new entrants disrupt the sector, and enable incumbents to reach new levels of performance. For those incumbents, a lot may be at stake, and even more may be possible. But to thrive in this bright future, power and utility companies will need to develop new capabilities and transform their working environment. Continuing what they’ve been doing for the last century is likely not going to work.

    This report will discuss the multitude of forces disrupting and driving change in the power and utilities sector, explore the exciting future the industry is moving toward, and help companies plot a digital path to thrive in that future.

    Disruptive forces are reshaping the power sector

    Disruptive forces are transforming the electric power sector, and many power company leaders are planning their digital journeys based on the impact of these forces (figure 1)…

    Power companies face unprecedented challenges and expectations

    It’s by now a well-established trend that, due to energy efficiency gains, electricity consumption in developed countries no longer grows in tandem with GDP growth.5 This often means utilities must operate, maintain, and modernize their systems without the benefit of increased load-based revenue to pay for it. In fact, capital expenditures have trended upward in recent years as utilities boost spending to upgrade aging infrastructure; harden systems against increasingly severe climate events; modernize and digitize systems and processes; defend against increasingly virulent cyberattacks; and address the growing mandate for cleaner energy sources from legislators, regulators, and customers.6 Other societal changes pose additional challenges, such as sophisticated consumer expectations set by high-tech companies and the need to replace retiring workers and attract new ones. Such rapid and multipronged change may, in turn, compel organizational and cultural transformation to manage and adapt to new technologies. In many of these challenges lie opportunities to create value through innovation.

    New digital technologies are sparking change across industries

    Another well-established trend is the acceleration of technological advances across industries as innovation drives rapid cost declines for key building blocks such as computing power, data storage, and internet bandwidth. Faster, cheaper, more powerful computing and improved connectivity are fueling growing deployment of technologies such as sensors, mobile, advanced analytics, robotics, additive manufacturing, cloud computing, IoT, AI, and virtual and augmented reality. Such innovations are ushering in new and disruptive competitive risks—and opportunities—for enterprises that have historically enjoyed dominant positions in their industries, including the power industry.

    Advanced energy technologies are increasingly competitive as costs fall

    The power and utilities industry is seeing unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth from rapid technological advances and cost declines in areas such as solar power, battery storage, wind power, electric vehicles, smart buildings, two-way power flows, microgrids, and more. Of course, these opportunities are also opening doors for startups, entrepreneurs, and companies from adjacent industries who may compete with incumbents and disrupt the industry. But at the same time, large enterprises such as today’s electric companies can take advantage of these opportunities to disrupt the industry status quo themselves and remain competitive and profitable.

    New practices and business models are shaking up markets across industries

    New twists on design, processes, and ways of doing business also offer opportunities and fresh ways to approach challenges—or to challenge the status quo. For example, human-centered design, agile and adaptive business practices, trends shaping the future of work, crowd-sourcing, the sharing and subscription economy, and mega-platform ecosystems are all accelerating disruption and amplifying opportunities to start or grow enterprises and industries.7

    A common thread runs through these four types of forces—digital. Digital technologies can act as catalysts that help incumbents or new entrants develop new business and operating models, such as using advanced analytics to segment customers and target prospects for new services. Or they can be disruptors that open the door to new market entrants—such as technology platforms that aggregate output from distributed energy resource (DER) owners and bid it into wholesale electricity markets. Nothing is protected. Digital technologies can also be enablers, enabling new levels of performance, such as cutting maintenance time and costs by using automated drones backed by cognitive capabilities to inspect assets in the field.

    Digital is the pervasive thread through all of these disruptive forces—as a catalyst, a disruptor, and an enabler.

    To understand how companies are investing in the connected web of digital and physical technologies that enables digital transformation, known as Industry 4.0, Deloitte fielded a survey of 361 executives in 11 countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. The survey was fielded in association with GE Digital in spring 2018 by Forbes Insights, and captured insights from respondents in seven industrial sectors, including power and utilities. The responses discussed here are from the 81 respondents in the power and utilities sector. All power and utilities respondents were director level or higher, including CEOs (6 percent), CFOs (9 percent), COOs (10 percent), CDOs (7 percent), CIOs (5 percent), CTOs (7 percent), CSCOs (3 percent), business unit presidents (6 percent), executive VPs (9 percent), VPs (12 percent), executive directors (7 percent), and directors (19 percent). All power and utilities executives represented organizations with revenue of US$500 million or more, with more than half (51 percent) from organizations with more than US$1 billion in revenue.

    Which forces are impacting power companies the most?...The future looks bright…Customer…Employee…Assets…Digital platform enables distribution system planning…Automation and machine learning cut costs of asset inspections…What are power companies seeking to achieve in the near future?...Digital pathway to the future…Digital innovation model…Digital DNA is a catalyst for digital transformation…How do we get there?...

    Getting started

    The power and utilities sector is in an unprecedented period of disruption and transformation as a multitude of forces reshape it, and a wide array of new players appear to want in. Being already there, with assets in place, terabytes of customer information, and typically a high degree of brand permission,16incumbents may have an advantage from the starting gate—but likely not if they keep doing things the way they’ve always done them. Power and utility companies that seek to thrive as the future unfolds should start their digital journeys now or keep moving if they’ve already started. Here are some steps to consider:

    Chart the path: The first step is to recognize that the transformation to “being digital” will be a substantial, significant, and long-term undertaking. It’s an ongoing process that won’t end anytime soon. Start by defining your organization’s ambitions and then chart a path to success by developing a road map to achieve those ambitions. A sequenced road map that is actively managed and well understood internally and by regulators is critical.

    Develop innovation capabilities: It’s important to establish repeatable innovation capabilities to continuously supply the business with a robust pipeline of digital projects. Ideally, the innovation process will enable your organization to rapidly design, test, and iterate each concept through to launch.

    Develop or acquire new technology: Participate in a technology incubator, start a venture capital organization, or consider investing in or partnering with technology companies to develop innovative products, services, or business models and test use cases.

    Transform culture: Cultural transformation involves not only adopting new technologies but incorporating a digital mindset into the DNA of your organization. This requires developing processes to encourage experimentation and innovation in a continuous feedback loop. It will likely require an organizational transformation that introduces organizational, operational, and behavioral changes and instills them enterprisewide.

    Invest in a digital foundry: This will be the hub of your digital activities—a dedicated function that can continuously ideate and carry concepts through implementation. It will use new skill sets and new ways of thinking, such as agile and design thinking. And because of repeatable processes, it’s less likely to require heavy governance. Taking these steps can set your organization on a sound path to becoming, and one day being, digital. Enjoy the journey.

    QUICK NEWS, April 29: Climate Changes Militaries To Greenies; Contract Certainty Backs EU Solar Boom

    Climate Changes Militaries To Greenies Militaries go green, rethink operations in face of climate change; “Militaries are great planning organizations, we need to utilize that great planning capability to get further ahead of the climate threat than we have.”

    Linda Givetash, April 27, 2019 (NBC News)

    “…[North American Treaty Organization (NATO)] military officials from 29 countries — including the United States — will test whether energy efficient equipment and hybrid diesel-solar power systems can be easily integrated into their operations in [military exercises in] Poland this June…[This new focus] on energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption is indicative of a wider [adaptation by militaries] to environments reshaped by climate change and intensifying natural disasters…Lightweight equipment that can be powered by renewables rather than fuels that need to be imported are better for responding to natural disasters such as floods and wildfires…NATO provided support when Sweden faced historic wildfires last summer…The war games will come amid a global movement — from school strikes and protests to debates in Congress over the proposed Green New Deal — that is placing response to climate change at the center of the political agenda…

    Experts warn that climate change is poised to not only cause more extreme weather events but also spark conflicts from the Arctic, where disappearing ice is sparking a geopolitical race for dominance, to Africa's Sahel region which is grappling with increased water scarcity and extremist groups…These conditions also drive migration, already being seen in Central America…Armed forces help launch humanitarian relief after a disaster, yet those operations don’t get the same level of foresight applied to other threats such as nuclear war or terrorism…A more recent report the Department of Defense released in January highlighted numerous Air Force, Army and Navy infrastructure currently at risk of damage due to flooding, drought, desertification and wildfires…” click here for more

    Contract Certainty Backs EU Solar Boom European solar comes of PPAge; From scorching Seville to rainy Rostock, investors claim that power purchase agreements (PPAs) have made European solar farms bankable without government subsidies. By providing lower risk for cheaper capital, they are powering a renaissance in established PV markets and lowering the cost of solar electricity in Europe.

    Benedict O’Donnell, April 20, 2019 (PV Magazine)

    “…[S]olar PPA activity in Europe grew from 360 MW in 2017 to more than 2.4 GW in 2018…There are various sources for funding new PV capacity with PPAs becoming a more relevant one as grid parity evolves…The news offers timely respite to Europe’s battered solar sector as governments across the region phase out financial incentives for renewable energy…[N]ew European photovoltaic parks have attracted investment on the back of falling costs for solar technology, relatively high electricity rates, and – usually – excellent irradiation. But the final ingredient that has brought these projects into existence has been the security of a long-term buyer for their electricity…As long as the probability of default of the offtaker is low and PPA terms and conditions are reasonable, funding should not be an issue at all…[T]he cost of generating electricity from renewables dropped below wholesale electricity rates on Southern European electricity exchanges over a year ago…

    …[I]n principle it should no longer be necessary to sign a PPA but guarantees of price stability entice investors, lowering interest rates…[G]overnment incentives like feed-in-tariffs, net metering schemes, and auctions were necessary to roll out renewable energy technologies on electricity markets until their cost dropped below that of incumbent energy sources. Since this transition, the second challenge has been to remove the subsidies…Every time a government says that it will hold an auction or feed in a new incentive for renewable energy, international investors paralyze capital flows until they know what will happen…That slows down the roll-out of PV and forces unnecessary costs onto consumers. Today, the largest and fastest moving solar projects in Europe are unsubsidized. They produce the same environmental benefits for the grid but cost nothing to their users… Dealing with risk is exactly where PPAs can help…” click here for more

    Saturday, April 27, 2019

    Extinction Rebellion

    These folks are making the power structure sit up. From ExtinctionRebellion via YouTube

    Earth Day On The Daily Show

    The stupidest ideas to fight climate change. From Comedy Central

    2018’s Top Ten Windpower Wins

    It has reached every state and now adds $1 billion in tax and lease payments to the economy.From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

    Friday, April 26, 2019

    UK's Extinction Rebellion Disrupts

    Extinction Rebellion, the climate protesters disrupting London, explained; Activists want the UK to commit to zero net emissions by 2025. Is that possible?

    Eliza Barclay and Umair Irfan, April 25, 2019 (VOX)

    “Thousands of activists have been unleashing strategic disorder in London over the past 10 days to draw attention to the accelerating climate crisis. In costume and in tents, they’ve barricaded roads and bridges at major city landmarks, with more than 1,000 peacefully submitting to arrest…The coordinated direct actions across the city have been organized by Extinction Rebellion, a movement founded last year to demand a more aggressive climate target from the British government: net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025…With a core message that climate change is an “emergency” that threatens the survival of the human species, Extinction Rebellion is sounding a shriller alarm than past climate protests. Members are also deploying ostentatious, nonviolent tactics…

    Extinction Rebellion’s urgency and energy on climate change is aligned with a wave of youth climate activism bubbling up in Europe, the United States, and beyond…[like the student strikes] led by the riveting Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden…If a protest is measured by how much attention and irritation it stirs up, then Extinction Rebellion has been wildly successful…Extinction Rebellion protesters in London have three key demands…For climate change to be treated as an emergency…A commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025…The creation of a citizen assembly for climate action…The UK’s use of coal has declined dramatically…But the hardest work lies ahead: the country now must tackle… emissions from aviation, agriculture, biomass, and above all transportation…[Can the UK reach] net-zero emissions by 2025? Why not try?” click here for more

    World New Energy Keeps Growing

    Report: Renewable Energy Capacity Grew 7.9% in 2018

    Emily Holbrook, April 10, 2019 (Energy Manager Today)

    Renewable energy capacity grew 7.9% during 2018…[to] 2,351 GW of global renewable generation capacity…[According to the International Renewable Energy Agency,] hydro accounted for the largest share of the global total, with an installed capacity of 1 172 GW. Wind and solar energy accounted for most of the remainder, with capacities of 564 GW and 486 GW respectively. Other renewables included 115 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy)… Growth in hydro continued to slow, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018…China and the USA continued to account for most expansion in wind energy, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW…

    …[China, India, and the UK] accounted for over half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity expansion…Asia continued to dominate the global solar capacity expansion with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018)… Geothermal power capacity increased by +539 MW in 2018. As before, most of this expansion occurred in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW)…Off-grid capacity in 2018 was 8.8 GW, with an increase of 390 MW during the year (+5%)…Preliminary figures suggest that the expansion of solar mini-grids has slowed in the last two years, but growth trends in the other end-uses remain stable.” click here for more

    Global Offshore Wind Demand Rising

    As Global Energy Demands Grows, So Does Appetite For Offshore Wind

    Ariel Cohen, March 26, 2019 (Forbes)

    “…[O]ffshore wind capacity is forecast to grow by over 80 gigawatts (GW) through 2024, achieving an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 25% in that period…[Market leaders include] Vestas Wind Systems, (NYSE:VWS.CO); Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (NYSE:SGRE); Goldwind (NYSE:XJNGF); and GE Renewable Energy (NYSE:GE)…Global wind energy capacity surpassed 600 GW in 2018 – with offshore accounting for just 23 GW of that total…[O]ffshore wind projects require longer supply chains, more complex logistics, and higher initial capital expenditures (Capex) and materials than their conventional on-shore counterparts…[But] technological breakthroughs in turbine technology and declining costs of transmission cables, offshore wind is becoming an increasingly attractive (clean) energy solution…

    …[G]lobal growth in offshore wind energy will continue to accelerate, with total installed capacity rising from 19.2 GW in 2017 to 520 GW in 2050…[and] cumulative investments in offshore wind [are forecast] to reach $350 billion by 2030 and $1.47 trillion by 2050…Britain announced that it plans to derive 30% of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030…[The US] could achieve over 20 GW by 2030 under favorable market and regulatory conditions…Offshore wind turbines are generally more efficient than their onshore counterparts…Offshore wind does not suffer from the “not in my back yard” (NIMBY) argument from state residents (and subsequent legal battles)…[and] offshore wind does not interfere with land use…Offshore turbines suffer from long, underdeveloped supply chains and high material costs…The European Union, once the front runner in offshore wind development, is now struggling to keep pace with aggressive offshore wind additions in the Far East…[Challenges remain, but] as the industry matures, economic efficiency will go up, capital costs requirements will drop, and supply chains will shrink… click here for more

    Thursday, April 25, 2019

    Florida Finally Faces Climate Change

    In Florida, A New Governor Speaks The Words, “Climate Change”

    Amy Green, April 25, 2019 (WMFE)

    A ban in Florida on the words “climate change” appears to be ending…Gov. Ron DeSantis has wasted no time since taking office in January establishing the environment as a priority…[The Republican governor will have] a chief resiliency officer…[and] an Office of Resiliency and Coastal Protection…[and] the state’s first chief science officer…[and recently said] “This idea of – quote – ‘climate change’ has become politicized. My environmental policy is just to try to do things that benefit Floridians.” …[Former Gov. Rick Scott would not talk about or say the words ‘climate change’ and banned them] from state agencies…

    [The change under DeSants is expected to] mean new resources and support for local governments….[for things like] installing pumps and raising roads…[and] buying out vulnerable homeowners…DeSantis’ sweeping environmental plan is aimed primarily at toxic algae. Most environmental groups are cheering the action, but for some it doesn’t go far enough….[And] for most Floridians hearing the words ‘climate change’ from the state’s top leadership represents progress.” click here for more

    Fights On Solar Policy Go Nationwide

    The 50 States of Solar Report: 43 States and D.C. Took Action on Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design During Q1 2019

    April 24, 2019 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…43 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico took some type of distributed solar policy action during Q1 2019…with the greatest number of actions relating to net metering policies, residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases, and community solar policies…[According to NCCETC’s Q1 2019 50 States of Solar, three trends in solar policy activity emerged from the] 160 distributed solar policy actions were taken…(1) state legislatures weighing in on distributed generation rate design, (2) states moving in different directions on net metering, and (3) a number of new states considering adopting community solar policies…State legislatures considered at least 141 bills related to net metering, rate design, and solar ownership policies during Q1 2019, with seven bills being enacted so far…

    …[The top five policy developments of Q1 2019 were…The Maine State Legislature restoring retail rate net metering in the state…Kentucky lawmakers initiating the development of a net metering successor tariff…The Arkansas Legislature legalizing solar leasing and addressing net metering successor tariffs…Colorado regulators opening a new rulemaking on community solar and net metering…[and] Sacramento Municipal Utility District proposing a new grid access charge for customers with on-site generation…The future of net metering is very much a state-by-state question right now…” click here for more

    Device Turns Snowfall Into Power

    Best in snow: New scientific device creates electricity from snowfall The first-of-its-kind nanogenerator designed by UCLA researchers and colleagues also acts as a weather station

    Stuart Wolpert, April 15, 2019 (University of California at Los Angeles)

    “…[A new device can create electricity from falling snow…[I]t is inexpensive, small, thin and flexible like a sheet of plastic…[It is called] a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or snow TENG. A triboelectric nanogenerator, which generates charge through static electricity, produces energy from the exchange of electrons…Snow is positively charged and gives up electrons. Silicone — a synthetic rubber-like material that is composed of silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, combined with carbon, hydrogen and other elements — is negatively charged. When falling snow contacts the surface of silicone, that produces a charge that the device captures, creating electricity…

    About 30 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by snow each winter, during which time solar panels often fail to operate…[because the] accumulation of snow reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the solar array, limiting the panels’ power output and rendering them less effective. The new device could be integrated into solar panels to provide a continuous power supply when it snows…The device can be used for monitoring winter sports, such as skiing, to more precisely assess and improve an athlete’s performance when running, walking or jumping…It could usher in a new generation of self-powered wearable devices for tracking athletes and their performances...It can also send signals, indicating whether a person is moving. It can tell when a person is walking, running, jumping or marching…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: California regulators push for roadmap to 100% clean energy

    California regulators prod utilities to start drafting roadmap to 100% clean energy; The sum of renewables procurements from California electricity providers is not enough to achieve the state's 2045 target, and regulators are struggling for solutions.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 25, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The proposed decision in California’s integrated resource planning proceeding found the newest LSEs continue to create doubt about the state meeting its climate and renewables goals.

    California's 44 electricity providers are updating their formal plans to meet the state's new 60% renewables by 2030 mandate and its 100% clean energy by 2045 goal. Investor-owned utility (IOU) regulatory filings say they have adequate renewables to meet the 2030 requirement and will begin procuring again after that. Customer choice aggregator (CCA) and electric service providers (ESPs) filings say they will procure adequate renewables to meet the 2030 mandate...The sum of the new renewables procurements from California's 44 load serving entities (LSEs) do not add up to what will be needed to meet the ambitious Senate Bill 100 mandate and goal. Yet their filings reflect confidence that the state will meet its demanding ambitions…

    Thanks to the IOUs' existing long-term renewables contracts, the state is on track to meet its 2030 goal, CPUC Energy Division Director Edward Randolph recently told Utility Dive. A few CCA long-term renewables procurements, a tiny portion of the state's demand, are essentially the only new ones from California LSEs in the last two years. This is a hesitant changing of the guard in procurement that raises big questions about achieving the state's goals. The questions were not answered by responses to the California Public Utility Commission's Sept. 19 order to LSEs to update their renewable portfolio standard (RPS) plans. The news was good on the state's then 50% by 2030 renewables portfolio standard (RPS) in the annual report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). But the report only covered procurements of the longest-standing of the CCAs. As California's customer choice movement accelerates, the new groups join the list of those not on track to meet RPS obligations… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Nevada's Question 3 pits retail choice against uncertainty in battle of billionaires

    Nevada's Question 3 pits retail choice against uncertainty in battle of billionaires; Voters could pass a constitutional amendment that restructures the state's regulated utility, opens a competitive electricity market and subjects customers and lawmakers to hard questions.

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 1, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Question 3 was defeated last November due largely to opposition by the utility and environmentalists.

    Billionaire Warren Buffett and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson headline a $100 million feud between their Nevada business interests, but it's up to customers to choose their power system's future. The feud is over Nevada's Question 3 ballot measure, which would amend the state's constitution to establish a "competitive retail electric energy market" and prohibit "monopolies and exclusive franchises." Under it, the Buffett-owned NV Energy would be restructured and Adelson's Sands Hotel could buy power in a competitive market. NV Energy had spent over $63 million supporting the NO effort as of mid-October, according to the Nevada Secretary of State's website. The YES effort was largely backed with over $22 million from Sands and almost $11 millionfrom data center operator Switch. Spending was expected to accelerate as the campaign closed.

    "We are trying to overcome spending by the opposition to provoke fear of restructuring," spokesperson for the Adelson-backed Energy Choice Initiative (ECI) Jon Wellinghoff, a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair, told Utility Dive. "It is hard to overcome lies about retail electricity choice when they are outspending us." The NV Energy-backed NO on Question 3 side is equally assertive. "This would only benefit large corporate energy users like the Sands and Switch," communications director Tracy Skenandore told Utility Dive. "Small business and residential customers will face more complexity, a threat to solar and potentially higher rates." Momentum gathered behind the “No” side as election day approached, as voter doubts grew about retail choice and the bigger question this election will answer: Do consumers in regulated markets want this kind of change? here for more


    Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: California’s Answer to Climate Change-Driven Wildfires

    Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future

    April 12, 2019 (Governor’s Strike Force)

    Executive Summary

    Climate change has created a new wildfire reality for California. The state’s fire season is now almost year round. More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat. Approximately 25 percent of the state’s population – 11 million people – lives in that high-risk area.

    Wildfires are not only more frequent but far more devastating. Fifteen of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history have occurred since 2000; ten of the most destructive fires have occurred since 2015. The results are visible to all: lives lost, grave fire damage to homes and communities, rising gas and electricity rates, pressure on the home insurance market, and the threat of insolvency for California’s utilities. The largest investor-owned utility in the state has filed for bankruptcy protection and two other major investor-owned utilities in southern California have had their credit ratings downgraded. Financial experts have opined that these utilities are likely one major fire away from bankruptcy. Making matters worse, this year has all the conditions for devastating fires, with a very wet season leading to high vegetation density. During fire season, that vegetation dries out and becomes fuel.

    Since the first days of his administration, the Governor has taken decisive action to strengthen California’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities to mitigate wildfires and build community resilience. In response to instability in the energy sector and to PG&E’s decision to file for bankruptcy, the Governor created a strike force to coordinate the state’s efforts relating to the safety, reliability, and affordability of energy, as well as to continue progress to achieve the state’s climate commitments. As part of these efforts, sixty days ago, the Governor directed the strike force to develop a comprehensive roadmap to address the issues of wildfires, climate change, and the state’s energy sector. That roadmap is attached.

    The strike force report sets out steps the state must take to reduce the incidence and severity of wildfires, including the significant wildfire mitigation and resiliency efforts the Governor has already proposed. It renews the state’s commitment to clean energy. It outlines actions to hold the state’s utilities accountable for their behavior and potential changes to stabilize California’s utilities to meet the energy needs of customers and the economy.

    It is imperative that utilities not put profits ahead of safety and service. That is why the state has and will continue to advocate in PG&E’s bankruptcy proceeding for fair treatment of fire victims, for California consumers, and for California policies and values.

    Preventing and Responding to Catastrophic Wildfires

    The report begins by setting out steps that the administration, the CPUC, local communities, and utilities must take to reduce the incidence and severity of wildfires and to step up both community resilience and the state’s response capabilities. To accomplish this, it is critical that the state:

    • Expand fire prevention activity by improving forest and vegetation management, accelerating fuel reduction projects on both public and private land, training the workforce needed to scale up these projects, investing in new technologies to model and monitor fire risk, and strengthening utility oversight so that they invest more in safety.

    • Make communities more resilient by considering updating codes that govern defensible space, encouraging cost-effective hardening of homes, strengthening evacuation, encouraging other emergency planning, and improving land use practices to reduce the damage to life and property from wildfires.

    • Invest in fire suppression and response by investing in new fire engines and aircraft, re-deploying National Guard personnel from the border to support fire suppression initiatives, purchasing detection cameras to provide advanced data to firefighters, and investing in a statewide mutual aid system to pre-position resources in high-risk areas.

    • Call on the Federal Government to Better Manage Federal Forest Land. As the owner of 57 percent of California’s forestland, the federal government must also do its fair share to reduce fire risk. Specifically, the Governor has joined the governors of Washington and Oregon to call for the federal government to double the investment in managing federal forestlands in our states due to the high risk of wildfires.

    Renewing California’s Commitment to Clean Energy

    Given that climate change is a core driver of heightened wildfire risk, California must continue its transition to clean energy. California has established ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets and the utility sector has been critical to the significant progress our state has made. But, an unstable energy market presents new risks, and temperatures keep rising. Any solution must adapt to the changing market landscape while maintaining the state’s commitment to mitigating climate change.

    To do this, the state should consider:

    • Evaluating state-level resource backstop options to reduce gaps and inefficiencies that can result from an increasingly fragmented energy market – including the option of creating a state power procurement entity.

    • Increasing transparency and reliability protections for customers by establishing standards to make energy provider information more transparent and facilitate statewide planning.

    Allocating Responsibility for Wildfire Costs

    An honest assessment of the realities of current and future climate change tells us that no matter how committed we are to preventing and fighting fires and to reducing carbon emissions over the long-term, the state will experience further fire damage in the coming years. If we continue on our current legal and regulatory path, we will get similar results – more deadly and destructive fires that put utilities near insolvency. That is unacceptable for fire victims and utility customers and is incompatible with an economy that requires safe, reliable, and affordable power. Any real plan must allocate costs resulting from wildfires in a manner that shares the burden broadly among stakeholders, including utilities (ratepayers and investors), insurance companies, local governments, and attorneys. Taxpayers have substantially increased their contribution to mitigating fire risk and fighting fires when they ignite.

    Any successful approach for allocating responsibility for wildfire costs should be based on the following principles: (1) maintaining safe and affordable power, (2) holding utilities accountable to prioritize safety, (3) treating wildfire victims fairly, (4) requiring equitable stakeholder contributions, (5) reducing overall costs from wildfire damage, (6) promoting California’s clean energy goals, and (7) recognizing the contribution of California taxpayers.

    The strike force has identified the following three concepts for evaluation against these principles:

    • A liquidity-only fund that would provide liquidity for utilities to pay wildfire damage claims pending CPUC determination of cost recovery potentially coupled with modification of cost recovery standards.

    • Adopting a fault-based standard that would modify California’s strict liability standard to one based on fault to balance the need for public improvements with private harm to individuals.

    • Creation of a catastrophic wildfire fund coupled with a revised cost recovery standard to spread the cost of catastrophic wildfires more broadly among stakeholders.

    These concepts should be publicly debated, as each has impacts, tradeoffs, and consequences that must be addressed. Some concepts rely on voluntary contributions from utility investors, who in exchange will demand more clarity in the regulatory standard for cost recovery from ratepayers.

    The choices are difficult, the future is uncertain and the solutions are imperfect. But legislative action is necessary for the stability of the state’s energy market to meet the needs of Californians, and to achieve the state’s clean energy goals.

    Under the status quo, all parties lose – wildfire victims, energy consumers, and Californians committed to addressing climate change. Victims face a great deal of uncertainty and diminished ability to be compensated for their losses and harm. Customers face rising rates and instability. California’s ability to achieve its climate goals is frustrated. Utility vendors and employees face uncertainty and likely significant losses. The bottom line is that utilities either in or on the verge of bankruptcy are not good for Californians, for economic growth, or for the state’s future.

    Strengthening Utility Market Regulation

    Utilities must be active participants in the quest for safe, reliable, and affordable power. This report recommends strengthening utility regulation by reforming the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to:

    • Expand safety expertise by improving the CPUC’s ability to review wildfire mitigation plans, conduct inspections and audits, and enforce safety standards at investorowned utilities.

    • Clarify cost recovery standards by setting clear guidelines in statute for when the CPUC can pass on the costs of claims from wildfire damage to ratepayers.

    • Improve decision-making by overhauling procedures, delegating more decisions to technical staff so that judges and commissioners focus on core questions of ratesetting, and improving enforcement.

    • Review high-risk industry regulatory models and explore options for incorporating the latest climate impact research, in concert with the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, as well as academic and industry experts in risk reduction.

    Holding PG&E Accountable for Safety

    PG&E is a textbook example of what happens when a utility does not invest in safety after numerous deadly reminders to do so over many years. Even today, PG&E is taking advantage of the bankruptcy process to promote the interests of investors over fire victims and other stakeholders. California will advocate for fair treatment of victims and employees, as well as to uphold the state’s clean energy commitments in the bankruptcy process. The state will:

    • Monitor – and intervene – in the bankruptcy proceedings to protect California’s interests. PG&E is a private entity, but its misconduct has had grave consequences for the state and its people.

    • Evaluate options to satisfy wildfire claims from the last two years so fire victims are treated fairly.

    • Demand that a reorganized PG&E serve the public interest. After years of mismanagement and safety failures, no options can be taken off the table to reform PG&E, including municipalization of all or a portion of PG&E’s operations; division of PG&E’s service territories into smaller, regional markets; refocusing PG&E’s operations on transmission and distribution; or reorganization of PG&E as a new company structured to meet its obligations to California.

    The status quo is unsustainable. A better future is possible – one grounded in clear rules, effective regulation, and a new emphasis on safety so every Californian can access safe, reliable, affordable power. As the climate changes and risks rise, California must once more lead the way…