For The People Who Get Things Done
New Energy is on the verge of saving this planet because a lot of little-known policy wonks have spent much of this century in drab rooms making it happen. From Real Time with Bill Maher via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
New Energy is on the verge of saving this planet because a lot of little-known policy wonks have spent much of this century in drab rooms making it happen. From Real Time with Bill Maher via YouTube
Larry Fink, who heads the $9 trillion BlackRock fund, says investors will do better by putting their money in companies that support New Energy in the fight against the climate crisis. Who can afford to argue with him? From CNBC Television via YouTube
There are nations proving it can be done. But by 2019, the U.S. had fallen to 15TH; Why? From ChartBear via YouTube
Climate change will destroy communities. Let’s help them move now.
Shanelle Loren, January 26, 2021 (Grist)
“…[Even if the Paris Climate Agreement] targets are met — and most countries are far from hitting them — the world will still likely be headed for a 3°C global temperature rise. In the coming decades many of our beloved coastal cities may be wiped off the map. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned earlier this year that the world must get ready for the displacement of millions of people. At this late hour, those preparations must include helping people move before disaster strikes…A growing number of scientists are calling for planned relocation (also known as “managed retreat”) as part of the U.S. government’s strategy to tackle climate disruption…
…[T]he current default — rebuilding in disaster-stricken areas — could eventually prove more costly than relocation. This is already evident in the American West, where the cost to rebuild after wildfire devastation in three of the last four years has exceeded $10 billion per year…There are no easy solutions — certainly not for large, vulnerable cities that could eventually see millions of residents displaced…[But planning] should happen before major disaster strikes. When huge swaths of cities are submerged and homes and livelihoods are lost, people won’t be able to bootstrap themselves out of the disaster…Nobody likes moving, especially not in a disastrous rush.” click here for more
Europe created more energy from renewables than fossil fuels last year; Solar and wind were up, while coal contines to fall.
Nick Summers, January 26, 2021 (EndGadget)
“…[Europe] generated more electricity from renewables than fossil fuels in 2020. That’s never happened before…[New research shows wind, solar, hydropower and biomass accounted for 38 percent of Europe’s electricity — up from 34.6 percent in 2019 — while fossil fuels dipped to 37 percent.
The largest factors in this clean-energy switch were solar and wind, which rose 15 and nine percent respectively…Coal and nuclear generation, meanwhile, dipped by 20 percent and 10 percent respectively… [NatGas] fell just four percent…Wind and solar, therefore, are effectively replacing coal, rather than gas, across Europe at the moment…
The continent has been slowly moving in this direction for some time…[The UK generated] more power from renewables than fossil fuels last year…Still, there’s work to be done…Biomass [and hydro growth have] effectively “stalled” since 2018…Europe needs to triple its solar and wind growth to meet its green deal targets by 2030…” click here for more
From Maryland to California and beyond, rate design innovations are boosting the energy transition; Success with time-of-use rates can allow utilities to start integrating more variable and distributed generation, leading to more sophisticated time-varying rates.
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 25, 2020 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This study suggests rate design could be an under-appreciated tool in the energy transition.
Three Maryland investor-owned utility (IOU) pilots of new time-of-use (TOU) rates significantly reduced peak demand and customer bills, a September 2020 Brattle Group assessment found. The success was built on the power system's emerging transition to variable and distributed renewables and customers' greater access to enabling technologies and familiarity with responding to price signals, the study found.
"Rate designs differ widely in the accuracy of the price signals they send to customers, from flat rates to day-of real-time rates," said California Solar & Storage Association Regulatory Affairs Senior Advisor and rate design authority Scott Murtishaw. "The more precise the price signal, the more customers can help address variable energy sources with flexible loads and storage to accelerate decarbonization."
Maryland was ready for new rates because it had deployed smart meters, its customers were familiar with alternative rates, and distributed energy resources (DER) are growing there, said Brattle Principal Sanem Sergici, who led the study of the pilots. The success of these new rates moves Maryland along the energy transition trail that states from Hawaii and California to South Carolina have recently blazed.
Those states have shown that success with TOU rates can allow utilities to begin to integrate more variable and distributed generation and lead to more sophisticated time-varying rates. And those more sophisticated rates like Brattle's study of June 2019 through May 2020 impacts of Brattle's study of June 2019 through May 2020 impactsMaryland's TOU pilots, which allow for higher penetrations of variable and distributed generation that further advance the energy transition.
A TOU rate's varying prices are higher during peak demand periods, which signals customers to shift usage to lower-priced off-peak periods. That can reduce the individual customer's bill. Reducing a utility's need to invest to meet rising peaks can also reduce all customers' bills. In Maryland and many other states, TOU and other new rate designs are possible because of the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). AMI's "digital link" between utilities and customers allows "expanded services" like home energy management, usage alerts and "time-varying" rates, the Edison Foundation reported in December 2019.
Through Maryland's peak time rebates (PTR) program, put in place in 2008, customers get rewards for voluntarily reducing usage when pre-notified of a coming demand spike and is "the most succesful such program in the U.S.," Brattle's Sergici said. "Since 2014, roughly 1.5 million Maryland customers have participated" in significantly reducing these intermittent critical peaks when demand is highest. With customer-sited DER emerging, Maryland can begin assessing the potential of time-varying rates' price signals to empower "customers, utilities and all other stakeholders," the order initiating the PC44 grid modernization docket said… click here for more
BlackRock Chief Pushes a Big New Climate Goal for the Corporate World Larry Fink is using his firm’s huge influence to pressure companies to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, January 26, 2021 (NY Times)
“…[The annual letter from the head of the $9 trillion BlackRock fund, arguably the world’s most powerful investor, asks CEOs] “to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy,” which he defines as limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial averages and eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “We expect you to disclose how this plan is incorporated into your long-term strategy and reviewed by your board of directors,” he wrote…When Mr. Fink makes what sounds like a request, in truth, it is much more than that. BlackRock’s size gives it enormous influence…[I]ncreasingly, BlackRock is creating sustainability-oriented index funds that have discretion in selecting which companies to include or exclude…
Mr. Fink said in his letter that his firm planned to adjust its investment process for its actively managed funds, adopting what he is calling a “heightened-scrutiny model” for climate risk that included “flagging holdings for potential exit.”…He also said that the firm planned to publish “a temperature alignment metric for our public equity and bond funds…with explicit temperature alignment goals, including products aligned to a net-zero pathway.”… In the future, big public pension funds and other investors could have firms like BlackRock create custom indexes for them based on such data…These sorts of actions won’t sacrifice investment performance, Mr. Fink said. Sustainable funds outperformed the market last year, he noted, especially during the worst moments of the pandemic downturn…” click here for more
Disconnected: The Need For A New Generator Interconnection Policy
Jay Caspary, Michael Goggin, Rob Gramlich, and Jesse Schneider, January 2021 (Americans for a Clean Energy Grid/Macro Grid Initiative)
America’s system for planning and paying for the nation’s transmission grid is causing a massive backlog and delay in the construction of new power projects. While locally produced electric power is gaining in popularity, most of the lowest cost new power production comes from projects which are located in rural areas and, thus, depend on new electricity lines to deliver power to the urban and suburban areas which use most of the nation’s power. Project developers must apply for interconnection to the transmission network, and until the network capacity is expanded to accommodate the resources, the projects must wait in an “interconnection queue.” At the end of 2019, 734 gigawatts of proposed generation were waiting in interconnection queues nationwide.1
This massive backlog has multiple negative impacts on the nation. First, it needlessly increases electricity costs for America’s homes and businesses in two ways: (1) it slows or prevents the adoption of new power sources which are cheaper than existing power generation; and (2) it also significantly increases the costs of each new power source. Americans for a Clean Energy Grid’s (ACEG) recent study demonstrates that a comprehensive approach to building transmission to connect remote power resources to electricity load centers in the Eastern half of the U.S. can cut consumers electric bills by $100 billion and decrease the average electric bill rate by more than one-third, from over 9 cents/kWh today to around 6 cents/kWh by 2050,
Second, because the lowest cost proposed power projects are often located in rural areas, this backlog is blocking rural economic development and job creation. In addition, rural power projects expand the tax base of local communities and typically generate lease payments or other revenue for farmers and other landowners. New transmission in the Eastern half of the U.S. alone will unleash up to $7.8 trillion in investment in rural America and create more than 6 million net new domestic jobs. 3
Third, almost 90 percent of the backlog is for wind and solar projects, thus blocking the resources which dominate new electricity production, reflecting the changing resource mix in the power sector and America’s abundance of high-quality renewable resource areas where the sun shines bright and the wind blows strong. 4 The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects wind and solar will account for 75 percent of new electricity generation in 2020. 5 Many states, utilities, Fortune 500 companies and other institutions have adopted large commitments or requirements to scale up their renewable energy use or reduce their carbon pollution and this backlog may delay or impede achievement of these commitments or requirements. In addition, delays in developing these projects unnecessarily exposes Americans, especially those in environmental justice communities, to the harmful impacts of smog, and nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, fine particulate and carbon dioxide pollution.
Policies governing the interconnection of generators to the grid network stand in the way of accessing these remote resources. Interconnection policies and procedures governing transmission engineering studies, queuing, and allocating transmission upgrade costs are set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and implemented in detail by all of the hundreds of transmission providers around the country including the Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs).6
Although FERC and the RTOs have undertaken worthwhile reforms to alleviate interconnection backlogs, the interconnection queues are costly, lengthy, and unpredictable. Power project developers are uncertain if their project will be approved and this risk significantly increases the cost of capital for generation developers, which increases the cost of energy for customers.
The current process also places nearly all costs of network upgrades on the energy project developer, even though many others will benefit from the construction of the project. Until a few years ago, these interconnection charges for new renewable resources would comprise under 10 percent of the total project cost for most projects. In recent years - due to the lack of sufficient large-scale transmission build - these costs have dramatically risen and interconnection charges now can comprise as much as 50 to 100 percent of the project costs. The system has reached a breaking point recently as spare transmission has been used up. Presently in most regions, new network capacity is needed for almost all of the projects in the queues.
Participant funding for new grid connections is no longer a “just and reasonable” policy and violates FERC’s “beneficiary pays” principle and the Federal Power Act. Relying on the interconnection process to identify needed transmission leads to a piecemeal approach and inefficiently small upgrades, raising costs to consumers. The incremental reforms at the RTO-level over the past decade have only served to treat symptoms of this fundamental issue – the lack of alignment between regional planning processes and the interconnection process.
There is a better way. RTOs could conduct comprehensive transmission planning which would identify the transmission lines to connect many new energy projects to the grid and deliver the greatest benefits for consumers. It is time for FERC and RTOs to undertake a fundamental re-thinking of interconnection and transmission planning policy based on different circumstances than those that existed when these policies were developed. Full participant funding should no longer be allowed in RTO or non-RTO areas.
More broadly, FERC and RTOs should pursue planning reforms. Consumers would benefit from more efficient transmission at a scale that brings down the total delivered cost, rather than continuing the current cycle of incremental transmission built in the project-by-project or generator-only cost assignment regime. That shift will not happen in the current interconnection process. Instead, FERC should fundamentally reform the regional and inter-regional transmission planning process to require broader pro-active and multi-purpose transmission planning…
» The current system for planning and paying for expansion of the transmission grid is so unworkable and inefficient it is creating a huge backlog of unbuilt energy projects. At the end of 2019, 734 gigawatts of proposed generation were waiting in interconnection queues nationwide.
» This backlog is needlessly increasing electricity costs for consumers by delaying the construction of new projects which are cheaper than existing electricity production. » Because most of these projects are located in remote rural areas, this backlog is harming rural economic development and job creation.
» Almost 90 percent of the backlog is for wind, solar, and storage projects. The backlog may delay or prevent achievement of commitments that states, utilities, and Fortune 500 companies have made to scale up their renewable energy use or reduce their pollution.
» The risk from the uncertainty of the interconnection process significantly increases the cost of capital for generation developers, which increases the cost of energy for customers.
» Although Regional Transmission Orginizations (RTOs) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have undertaken worthwhile attempts to alleviate interconnection backlogs, the interconnection queues remain costly, lengthy, and unpredictable.
» The current “participant funding “policy that places nearly all costs of shared large network upgrades on the interconnection customer violates FERC’s “beneficiary pays” principle and is therefore no longer a “just and reasonable” policy and violates the Federal Power Act.
» FERC should discontinue the policy of participant funding for new generation. Shared network upgrades resulting from generation interconnection requests provide economic and reliability benefits to loads and reduce congestion to improve grid efficiencies and operational flexibility, and therefore should not be fully assigned to interconnection generators.
» FERC and planning authorities should expand and improve regional and inter-regional transmission planning processes to be pro-active, incorporating future generation additions and retirements and the multiple benefits, and spread costs to all beneficiaries.
Another rallying cry from the inauguruation poet: “…it’s getting the facts straight that gets us to act and not to wait…” From via YouTube
New Energy just made Elon Musk the world’s richest person and there are far more riches to be made. From CNBC Television via YouTube
This short lecture leaves skepticism behind and describes the “minefield” and how to get through it. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
These 6 numbers define the climate challenge in a changing U.S.; Joe Biden takes office during an increasingly obvious and destructive climate crisis. To rein it in, he’ll have to keep these 6 numbers in mind.
Alejandra Borunda, January 19, 2021 (National Geogrpahic)
“…2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record, a clear sign of a planet in distress…[These six numbers] define the challenge……[1.25°C or 2.25°F is] how much higher Earth’s average temperature was in 2020 compared to the late 1800s…[At the current 0.2ºC per decade rate of warming, Earth would exceed the Paris Agreement 2°C or 3.6°F goal within] a few decades exceed…[945 gigatons of] carbon dioxide remains in the “carbon budget” that would give Earth a 66 percent chance of warming less than 2ºC above pre-industrial temperatures…[In 2020, the world added about] 40 gigatons (billion tons) of CO2…[That rate would use the] remaining budget in less than 25 years……[In 2020, there were 22 U.S. billion dollar weather-and-climate disasters] in the U.S. in 2020…and that number is only going to increase until climate change is controlled…
…[By 2035, Arctic sea ice may vanish in the summer] for the first time in 2 million years or so—a potential “tipping point” in the region that could reshape the entire planet…[Others] hover uncomfortably close…[28% of the world’s electricity comes from New Energy and] renewables will soon outstrip coal and natural gas…[And may be] the largest source of energy globally by 2025…[But to] meet net-zero emissions targets, renewable electricity will have to almost completely supplant coal and gas [and gasoline] by mid-century…[51%] of Americans under 45 say climate change has influenced their decision about where to live..[That’s a big deal and can] propel climate action…” click here for more
Shift to renewable energy eases key environmental burdens, EU says; Renewable power generation in the EU has nearly doubled since 2005, producing 34% of electricity in 2019 compared with 38% from fossil fuels
Kate Abnett with Hugh Lawson, 18 January 2021 (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“Europe's shift from fossil fuel-based electricity to renewable sources has reduced environmental problems while also cutting the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change…Renewable power generation in the European Union has nearly doubled since 2005, producing 34% of EU electricity in 2019 compared with the 38% produced by fossil fuels like coal and gas…The EU's switch from fossil fuel-based power production to sources like wind and solar since 2005 has "significantly decreased" emissions…
…[It has also yielded] "clear improvements" in key environmental problems…These include soil acidification, eutrophication - where freshwater becomes overloaded with nutrients, causing algal blooms and low oxygen levels - and the formation of particulate matter, a type of air pollution linked to 379,000 deaths in Europe in 2018…Meeting EU emissions-cutting goals will require an even faster expansion of renewable sources, requiring a power sector based 70% on renewables by 2030…” click here for more
Fact Checking Trump’s and Biden’s Energy Transition Plans
Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 26, 2020 (cacurrent)
In the presidential candidates’ final debate, President Trump said Vice President Biden’s energy plan could cost tens of millions of jobs. Wind is “extremely expensive” and solar “doesn’t quite have it yet,” he added. Trump avoided answering a question about the health impacts of polluting industries.
There is “a moral obligation” to address the climate crisis and transition to net zero emissions electricity by 2035, Biden countered. That will create “millions of new good paying jobs” as polluting industries are transitioned to wind and solar.
Under an analysis of the candidates’ plans by the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy 2035 Report, its “No New Policy” scenario can represent the White House plan because it is based on current policies and 55% emissions-free electricity in 2035, said Quantum Energy founder and research scientist Daniel Howard. The report’s “90% Clean” scenario, which assesses feasibility of achieving 90% emissions-free electricity by 2035, can represent the Biden plan.
The 2035 study modeled Biden’s proposed transition by 2035 to a generation mix of 70% wind and solar, 20% hydropower and nuclear, and 10% natural gas. It concluded the proposal would protect reliability, add 500,000 more jobs every year, avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in health and environmental costs, and would lower wholesale electricity costs 10%. In the debate, the president condescendingly raised doubts about those projections but Howard’s study and the 2035 study show those doubts are baseless.
The Biden environmental and health policy costs would total $592 billion and decline substantially when a 90% emissions-free infrastructure was in place in 2035. Total health and environmental costs under Trump policies were projected to be $969 billion and they would be unlikely to change because emissions and pollutants would change little, Howard said.
That is the key finding, he said. The $810 billion total cost of Biden’s policies through 2035 are 30% less than the $1.161 trillion total cost of Trump policies. Once 90% of emissions and pollutants from electricity generation are eliminated, “it will be far cheaper.” And “if we don’t make that change, we are going to face devastating impacts from the climate crisis on the quality of life of our children and grandchildren.” click here for more
Renewable Energy Trends to Expect in 2021
Emily Folk,14 January 2021 (Renewable Energy Magazine)
“…[These trends will contribute in 2021 as] renewable energy industry continues to grow…1. Corporations Will Go Green…[Corporations expanding their sustainability efforts] isn’t a consumer fad. It’s becoming an expected part of everyday life…2. Scope 3 Emissions Will Decrease…[They result from partnering and supply chain organizations and corporations] will likely focus on these emissions to reduce their carbon footprint…3. Geothermal Heat Will Warm Neighborhoods…[H]omeowners will save money by drawing on heat from the ground…[G]round temperatures average around 55 degrees Fahrenheit…The constant ground heat is cost-efficient and highly effective…
...4. Innovation Will Drive Green Efforts…[New innovative solutions will make renewable energy] easier for long-term goals and profitability…5. Companies Will Leverage Tax Credits…to make the sustainable switch, build consumer trust and maintain a greener future for their business operations…6. Traditional Energy Companies Will Diversify…[Oil, gas and electric companies will invest in biorefinery efforts and green technology to stay afloat…[These renewable energy trends in 2021] will begin their industry takeover, transforming the planet…” click here for more
2035 – The Report; Plummeting Solar, Wind, And Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Electricity Future
June 2020 (U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy)
Global carbon emissions must be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic climate impacts. Most existing studies, however, examine 2050 as the year that deep decarbonization of electric power systems can be achieved—a timeline that would also hinder decarbonization of the buildings, industrial, and transportation sectors. In light of recent trends, these studies present overly conservative estimates of decarbonization potential. Plummeting costs for wind and solar energy have dramatically changed the prospects for rapid, cost-effective expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, battery energy storage has become a viable option for costeffectively integrating high levels of wind and solar generation into electricity grids. This report uses the latest renewable energy and battery cost data to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of achieving 90% clean (carbon-free) electricity in the United States by 2035. Two central cases are simulated using state-of-the-art capacityexpansion and production-cost models: The No New Policy case assumes continuation of current state and federal policies; and the 90% Clean case requires that a 90% clean electricity share is reached by 2035.
Strong Policies Are Required To Create A 90% Clean Grid By 2035
The 90% Clean case assumes strong policies drive 90% clean electricity by 2035. The No New Policy case achieves only 55% clean electricity in 2035 (Figure ES-1). A companion report from Energy Innovation identifies institutional, market, and regulatory changes needed to facilitate the rapid transformation to a 90% clean power sector in the United States.
The 90% Clean Grid Is Dependable Without Coal Plants Or New Natural Gas Plants
Retaining existing hydropower and nuclear capacity (after accounting for planned retirements), and much of the existing natural gas capacity combined with new battery storage, is sufficient to meet U.S. electricity demand dependably (i.e., every hour of the year) with a 90% clean grid in 2035. Under the 90% Clean case, all existing coal plants are retired by 2035, and no new fossil fuel plants are built. During normal periods of generation and demand, wind, solar, and batteries provide 70% of annual generation, while hydropower and nuclear provide 20%. During periods of very high demand and/or very low renewable generation, existing natural gas, hydropower, and nuclear plants combined with battery storage cost-effectively compensate for mismatches between demand and wind/solar generation. Generation from natural gas plants constitutes about 10% of total annual electricity generation, which is about 70% lower than their generation in 2019.
Electricity Costs From The 90% Clean Grid Are Lower Than Today’s Costs
Wholesale electricity costs, which include the cost of generation plus incremental transmission investments, are about 10% lower in 2035 under the 90% Clean case than they are today, mainly owing to low renewable energy and battery costs (Figure ES2). Pervasiveness of low-cost renewable energy and battery storage across the United States requires investment mainly in transmission spurs connecting renewable generation to existing high-capacity transmission lines or load centers. Hence, additional transmission-related costs and siting conflicts are modest. Relying on natural gas for only 10% of generation avoids large investments for infrequently used capacity, helping to avoid major new stranded-asset costs. Retaining natural gas generation averts the need to build excess renewable energy and long-duration storage capacity—helping achieve 90% clean electricity while keeping costs down. While still lower than today’s costs, wholesale electricity costs are 12% higher under the 90% Clean case than under the No New Policy case in 2035. However, this comparison does not account for the value of emissions reductions or job creation under the 90% Clean case.
The 90% Clean Grid Avoids $1.2 Trillion In Health And Environmental Damages, Including 85,000 Premature Deaths, Through 2050
The 90% Clean case nearly eliminates emissions from the U.S. power sector by 2035, resulting in environmental and health benefits largely driven by reduced mortality related to electricity generation (Figure ES-3). Compared with the No New Policy case, the 90% Clean case reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 88% by 2035. It also reduces exposure to fine particulate (PM2.5) matter by reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 96% and 99%, respectively.1 As a result, the 90% Clean case avoids over $1.2 trillion in health and environmental costs, including 85,000 avoided premature deaths, through 2050. These savings equate roughly to 2 cents/kWh of wholesale electricity costs, which makes the 90% Clean case the lowest-netcost option when environmental and health costs are considered.
Scaling-Up Renewables To Achieve 90% Clean Energy By 2035 Is Feasible
To achieve the 90% Clean case by 2035, 1,100 GW of new wind and solar generation must be built, averaging about 70 GW per year (Figure ES-4). Recent U.S. precedents for natural gas and wind/solar expansion suggest that a renewable energy buildout of this magnitude is challenging but feasible. New renewable resources can be built cost-effectively in all regions of the country
The 90% Clean Grid Can Significantly Increase Energy-Sector Employment
The 90% Clean case supports a total of 29 million job-years cumulatively during 2020–2035. Employment related to the energy sector increases by approximately 8.5 million net jobyears, as increased employment from expanding renewable energy and battery storage more than replaces lost employment related to declining fossil fuel generation. The No New Policy case requires one-third fewer jobs, for a total of 20 million job-years over the study period. These jobs include direct, indirect, and induced jobs related to construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance, and the supply chain. Overall, the 90% Clean case supports over 500,000 more jobs each year compared to the No New Policy case.
Accelerating The Clean Energy Future
Establishing a target year of 2035, rather than the typical 2050 target, helps align expectations for power-sector decarbonization with climate realities while informing the policy dialogue needed to achieve such an ambitious goal. Aiming for 90% clean electricity—rather than 100%—by 2035 is also important for envisioning rapid, cost-effective decarbonization. By 2035, emerging technologies such as firm, low-carbon power should be mature enough to begin to replace the remaining natural gas generation as the nation accelerates toward 100%, crosssector decarbonization. Reaching 90% zero-carbon electricity in the United States by 2035 would contribute a 27% reduction in economy-wide carbon emissions from 2010 levels.
Fossil fuels dominates early, thanks to government subsidies. But New Energy has staying power. From Jessica Findley via YouTube
This utility will soon be running on 80% New Energy.From Greentech Media via YouTube
There are many ways to invest in urgently needed solutions and exponential transformation is coming. From The Economist via YouTube
Ten renewable energy trends to watch in 2021
Brian Eckhouse, Will Mathis, Dan Murtaugh, January 6, 2021 (World Oil)
“…[The breakout of sustainability and infrastructure] will likely continue into 2021, fueled in part by last year’s major turning points…China has now committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2060…Some analysts have started predicting that the U.S. power sector is approaching peak natural gas…Residential installations in the U.S. dropped nearly 20% in the second quarter of 2020 from the first—the most ever—as the pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders…[but] the sector bounced back and the country added 19 gigawatts of total solar power…Installations doubled in China…New battery-storage capacity in the U.S. more than doubled in the third quarter of 2020 from the second…
…[Spain’s use of solar] was up over 60% in 2020 compared to 2019…[European rtenewable power's 40%] share of the grid compared with 34% from plants burning fossil fuels…A 67-day period became Britain’s longest stretch without coal since the Industrial Revolution and helped make 2020 the country’s greenest year yet…India's debt-burdened utilities were further battered by the world’s largest lockdown in 2020…[Australia’s high] power prices and abundant sunshine have spurred a love affair with rooftop solar, with about 29% of households now outfitted…[Rising] costs for solar have so far not affected sales…[E]lectricity shutoffs prompted by wildfire risk has contributed to mounting U.S. homeowner interest in rooftop systems and batteries…” click here for more
Renewable Energy Stocks See Record Investments
Haley Zaremba, January 11, 2021 (OilPrice)
“…[M]aybe all we needed was a global apocalypse to finally catalyze the global clean energy transition…Organizations as respected as the World Economic Forum have advocated using the pandemic’s disruption as an opportunity to create a “new energy order” and a “great reset.” International agencies such as the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and the European Union, are all drafting or already imposing green stimulus plans…[and] blue-chip companies are pushing for a green energy stimulus…Just this week, [the] $6.2 billion iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ticker ICLN) lured a record $691 million of inflows…
…[and] the $4.6 billion Invesco Solar ETF (ticker TAN) is on track to take in nearly $370 million…Fossil fuel tycoons and out-of-work laborers in the shale patch fear that the focus on developing green energy alternatives and diverting funds to [sustainability investing] will come at their expense. But there is a strong argument to be made that even in West Texas, clean energy is the way forward and the key to job creation…[C]limate change will be very, very expensive for all of us…[T]he data shows that it's also a great financial move regardless of your politics.” click here for more
Transmission troubles? A solution could be lying along rail lines and next generation highways; Multiple studies show the need for interregional transmission is growing and proposals to streamline siting will help, but cost allocation remains a barrier
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 12, 2020 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: As the Biden moves from pandemic recovery to economic recovery, building a new national transmission system will get increasing attention.
Utility-scale renewables and flexible, distributed renewables, some of the basic elements of deep decarbonization, are growing rapidly, but the transmission system needed to deliver and integrate them is not. Recent studies, including the landmark and reportedly suppressed Department of Energy Seam study, show expanded transmission is critical.
But two key barriers — where to put the new lines and how to pay for them — still slow development, according to a June 2020 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report to Congress. Allocation of the new lines' costs remains unresolved, but new approaches to siting are attracting attention.
"Siting is one of the most intractable barriers," but "largely untapped" rights-of-way (ROWs) on already developed "brownfields," such as railroads and highways, could "alleviate the problem," former FERC Chair James Hoecker wrote on behalf of the Rail Electrification Council (REC) in a July filing with FERC on transmission planning incentives. Hoecker's filing defines brownfields as "land already developed for another industrial or ground-disturbing purpose" and notes that "there are many potential kinds of available brownfields that may be suitable for co-development, railroads and highways among them."
These railways and "next generation" highways, in which transmission lines, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and broadband/5G infrastructure are co-located, could bypass objections of private landowners on transmission siting and streamline deployment.
Using existing ROWs is a feasible way to build the urgently-needed interregional transmission described in the Seam study, transmission authorities agreed. But to resolve the cost allocation barrier, stakeholders must recognize high voltage transmission's economic, reliability and resilience benefits, and its importance to deep power system decarbonization, they said. New transmission that links the now largely disconnected halves of the U.S. power system can benefit customers and the environment, according to the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Seam study.
New high voltage alternating current (HVAC) or direct current (HVDC) transmission can increase the "transfer capability" across the seam separating the Eastern and Western Interconnections. That would deliver more and better renewable generation to system operators on both sides and allow "substantial energy and operating reserve sharing," the study found. DOE officials impeded release of the study's findings because of potential impacts on fossil fuel industries, InvestigateWest reported in August. But other studies have reached the same conclusions… click here for more
Bill Gates: Climate change could be more devastating than Covid-19 pandemic—this is what the US must do to prepare
Catherine Clifford, January 8, 2021 (CNBC)
As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.” So says billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates…To prevent the deaths, damage and destruction that will come with a warming planet requires innovation, he said…[And the relatively small decline in emissions this year shows flying and driving less] is not enough, Gates said…And innovation to fight climate change must start urgently…To do that, the United States needs to have the equivalent of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for energy innovation, Gates said…
…[A National Institutes of Energy Innovation is the] most important thing the U.S. can do to lead the world in innovations that will solve climate change…[and] NIH should serve as a model for the proposed National Institutes of Energy Innovation because the NIH has been so successful, according to Gates…Specifically, Gates suggested the National Institutes of Energy Innovation should be composed of institutes with specific areas of focus, and each group would work to take an idea from the research lab to market…” click here for more
California’s Clean Energy Roadmap
January 6, 2021 (American Clean Power California)
RELIABLE CLEAN POWER FOR CALIFORNIA
All Californians need electric power during every hour of every day, particularly as we experience more extreme and intense climate events. There can be no backsliding on reliability. A diverse portfolio of clean technologies over a larger footprint will deliver affordable reliability without compromising air quality or decarbonization. We are committed to working with California’s leaders to quickly address the basic need for reliable power.California will ensure electric system reliability while achieving climate mitigation and public health goals by investing in a diverse portfolio of clean resources such as utility-scale solar, storage, land-based wind and offshore wind, deployed in a manner responsive to disadvantaged communities, and with an eye toward powering California’s building and transportation sectors.
ACTIONS MUST KEEP PACE WITH AMBITIONS
The State is falling behind on much needed clean capacity to power California homes and businesses. To prevent future power outages and to set the pace to achieve our 100% clean energy objective, California’s agencies, and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) must coordinate to establish consistent long-term goals and take immediate, decisive action to require procurement and deployment of renewable energy and storage. We can safely, reliably, and affordably address our need for clean power with existing technologies; what is required is enhanced leadership to marry California’s long-term ambitions with immediate action.California must take immediate action to:
• Overcome regulatory barriers to new renewable energy and storage deployment targeted for operation in 2021-2023.
• Order immediate procurement of 13-24 GW of additional renewable energy and storage to provide replacement power for planned retirements in 2024-2025.
• Initiate market reforms to optimize reliability from wind, solar, and storage resources.
• Signal the need for offshore wind in California and develop a statewide implementation plan for permitting, transmission, and supply chain development.
• Set a consistent and aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target for use in all statewide energy planning efforts.
IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS TO THE NEAR-TERM CAPACITY SHORTFALL
Expedite approvals, interconnections, and upgrades to prevent future outages
All relevant agencies must fast-track statewide, local, and utility processes associated with interconnection and permitting of renewable energy and energy storage resources to address supply deficiencies and mitigate the impact of outages.
Identify and procure renewable energy and storage to replace planned retirements
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) should direct procurement of at least an additional 13-24 GW of nameplate capacity (7-11 GW of net qualifying capacity) of additional renewable and storage resources by 2025, beyond what has already been ordered by the CPUC, to replace conventional resources (gas and nuclear) slated for retirement.
Enable renewable energy and storage projects to provide essential grid services
Ensure that renewable energy and storage receive full value for these contributions, inclusive of an assessment and timeline to ensure alignment across all relevant agencies and the CAISO. Redesign California’s reliability rules and procurement practices to reflect California’s changing resource mix, ensuring that renewable energy and storage at all scales receive their full and fair value for their ability to contribute to resource adequacy, provision of grid services, and resiliency.
Troubleshoot and expedite permitting of renewable energy and storage infrastructure
Prioritize renewable energy and storage projects needed urgently to meet system needs, identify and troubleshoot siting and permitting issues, and work together to shepherd projects simultaneously through multiple permitting processes with the shared objective of permitting the renewable energy, storage, and associated distribution and transmission upgrades necessary to decarbonize California’s economy in a timely manner.
IMMEDIATE ACTIONS FOR A SUSTAINED TRANSITION TO 100% CLEAN ENERGY
Recalibrate greenhouse gas planning goals for consistent statewide planning
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Energy Commission (CEC), and CPUC should work together to ensure consistency and accuracy of greenhouse gas planning targets to yield the results necessary to achieve 100% clean energy.
Initiate planning and development of transmission infrastructure to meet SB 100
Improve the relationship between the Integrated Resource Planning process and Transmission Planning process to ensure timely and sufficient approval and development of distribution and transmission infrastructure to deliver a diverse suite of renewable energy and storage resources to meet California’s 2030 and 2045 requirements.
Signal California’s commitment to offshore wind with 2021 action
Communicate support for a lease auction for California offshore wind in 2021 to the Biden-Harris Transition Team and Administration as a priority item for early federal agency climate action and encourage the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to hold a lease auction for offshore wind in the Morro Bay and Humboldt Call Areas by the end of 2021. To deploy offshore wind in the mid-2020s, immediate engagement and coordination with federal agencies is necessary.
Plan for deployment of offshore wind at scale
Develop an implementation plan to achieve an offshore wind development goal of at least 10,000 megawatts by 2040, with an interim target of 3,000 megawatts by 2030, as part of the State’s overall renewable and greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, and as indicated by SB 100 Joint Agency planning; addressing permitting, transmission planning, economic development, and sea-space identification for offshore wind.
This climate turmoil is anything but normal. It is happening right now at home and around the world and impacting people in devastating ways.From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
These steps are not new. The news is that the crisis has become an emergency because the steps were not taken. It is time to get crazy busy, From Oregon State University via YouTube
With generation, storage, and grid management technologies coming together, New Energy is ready to step into this moment.From CNBC Television via YouTube
The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review; Despite some promising developments, the need for action has grown even more urgent William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R. Moomaw, January 6, 2021 (Scientific American)
“The climate emergency has arrived and is accelerating…[The adverse effects] are much more severe than expected, and now threaten both the biosphere and humanity. There is mounting evidence…The year 2020, one of the hottest years on record, also saw extraordinary wildfire activity in the Western United States and Australia, a Siberian heat wave with record high temperatures exceeding 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) within the Arctic circle, a record low for October Arctic sea ice extent of 2.04 million square miles, an Atlantic hurricane season resulting in more than $46 billion in damage, and deadly floods and landslides in South Asia that displaced more than 12 million people…[There are now ove 13,700 scientist-signatories to a paper] showing vital signs of very troubling climate change trends with little progress by humanity…
As we move into 2021 and beyond, we need a massive-scale mobilization to address the climate crisis…Swiftly phasing out fossil fuels is a top priority… Quickly cutting emissions of methane, black carbon (soot), hydrofluorocarbons and other short-lived climate pollutants is vital…We must restore and protect natural ecosystems such as forests, mangroves, wetlands and grasslands, allowing these ecosystems to reach their ecological potential for sequestering carbon dioxide…A dietary shift toward eating more plant-based foods and consuming fewer animal products, especially beef, would significantly reduce emissions…We must transition to a carbon-free economy…Exploitation of ecosystems for profit absolutely must be halted for long-term sustainability…The global human population, growing by more than 200,000 people per day, must be stabilized and gradually reduced…[There are glimmers of hope and aggressive] transformative change, if framed holistically and equitably, will accelerate broad-based restorative action and avert the worst of the climate emergency…” click here for more
3 Things to Watch in Renewable Energy in 2021; This year could be a big one for the renewable energy market.
Matthew DiLallo, January 2, 2021 (Motley Fool)
“…[T]he global economy installed a record amount of new renewable capacity in 2020, primarily powered by surging demand in the U.S. and China. Overall, 90% of the new electricity generating capacity added in 2020 was renewable energy…[and] 2021 could be an even stronger year for renewable energy…[First, pandemic] headwinds should fade in 2021…[New] tailwinds should grow stronger…[By Q3 2021,] the European Union and India will join the U.S. and China in accelerating their shift toward renewables…[Second, the] cost of battery storage has fallen dramatically over the years. A decade ago, it cost between $71 to $81 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for a four-hour battery storage adder to a wind or solar energy project. But by 2020, the cost of adding a battery storage component had plummeted to between $6 to $12 per MWh. And it's currently on track to fall to a range of $4 to $9 per MWh by 2022…
…Only 28% of the utility-scale solar projects built in 2019 had battery storage, but most projects developed in 2021 will likely feature it…[and] companies will likely also retrofit more existing ones with it…[Third, emissions-free green hydrogen will begin to replace natural gas…Several companies are investing in this emerging technology…[and there will likely be] more project announcements and partnerships in 2021…The global economy continued its transition toward renewable energy in 2020, and that trend shows no signs of slowing in 2021…” click here for more
As conflict rises over utility DER ownership, a Duke Florida program could offer a way forward; Regulators must decide how to separate regulated and private markets as both see ownership of rooftop and community solar.
Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 23, 2020 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Efforts like this one to equitably drive the growth of solar will grow in importance as the fight against the climate crisis accelerates.
Utilities are pushing for a bigger role in integrating distributed energy resources (DER) in their service territories, saying their ownership would benefit customers. They also see economic opportunity and other advantages in the flexibility of DER, which is becoming vital in today's power sector transition.
"Utilities are now critical in decarbonization and, as power grid experts, they are leading innovation," said Duke Energy Vice President of Rate Design and Strategic Solutions Lon Huber. "All clean energy options should be on the table, and if a program is structured in a way that provides benefits to all customers — participants and non-participants — it is a win-win that should be pursued."
Meanwhile, a new study from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds benefits of utility DER ownership, though private sector advocates say the data may not tell the whole story.
Utilities competing against private providers exposes shareholders to unnecessary risk, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Jon Wellinghoff said, reaffirming his 2015 position, which was cited in the LBNL study. Utilities should instead "host" the "grid marketplace" and "allow third parties to bear the risk of selling DER to end customers," Wellinghoff wrote in a 2015 op-ed.
Though many regulators have accepted utilities' move from traditional, centralized generation to utility-scale renewables, until recently states such as Mississippi and Florida have seen utility DER ownership as intruding in the private market. But a Florida debate led by Rábago Energy Principal Karl Rábago, a former Assistant Secretary of Energy and Texas utilities commissioner over whether utilities should be allowed to own community solar may foreshadow a shift in power sector dynamics.
Utility-owned rooftop solar programs could increase total shareholder earnings by 2% to 5% over 20 years, LBNL modeling found, compared to an estimated 2% loss over 20 years from the same amount of customer-owned or leased rooftop solar. Shareholder benefits come largely from ratepayer-paid returns for utility capital expenditures on solar and from limiting compensation to private, net-metered solar owners, LBNL found.
Under LBNL's scenario, rates increase due to additional utility spending, but only by 2%, comparable to the 2.2% bill increase non-rooftop solar customers would see because of net metering compensation and other costs, LBNL Research Scientist and study co-author Galen Barbose said. "Shareholders win and customers break even in our base case assumptions," Barbose said. Less certain assumptions could further improve the value proposition for utilities, he added… click here for more