NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2022 - 04/01/2022

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY,:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: California’s Step Toward An Automated Power System
  • TTTA Wednesday-NatGas Price Spikes On EU Stand Against Russia
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Monday Study – The Stark Economic Risks Of The Climate Crisis
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Powerful Voices Say The New Energy Economy Is Here
  • Weekend Video: Tesla’s Texas GigaFactory Brings The Batteries
  • Weekend Video: Arizona’s “Impact Earth” Team
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Europe’s New Energy Transition Accelerating
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Still The Best Buy
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY,:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: California’s Rooftop Solar Supports Questioned
  • TTTA Wednesday-The Transportation Electrification Policy Fight Goes On
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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

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  • FRIDAY WORLD, May 27:
  • The New Energy “Lifeline”
  • The New Energy World At War

    Wednesday, March 30, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Transportation Electrification Hits The Accelerator

    Unlocking the Transition: As Tesla, Ford and others invest billions in EVs, will the power system be ready? The new White House zero emission vehicle target of 50% of new car sales by 2030 has a long way to go, a short time to get there, and big challenges along the way.

    Herman K. Trabish, November 3, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: This was written before gas pump prices hit $7. Now the pedal is pressed to the floor.

    Transitioning transportation, the nation's biggest source of carbon emissions, to clean electricity is urgent, but will not be easy, according to charging companies, auto industry analysts and others.

    President Joe Biden's Aug. 5 Executive Order calls for 50% of annual U.S. new car sales to be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030. But of the estimated 14.5 million U.S. new car sales in 2020, only about 306,000, or 2.1%, were ZEVs, and only about 2 million of the nearly 290 million registered vehicles on U.S. roads are EVs.

    Newer numbers, however, suggest "an exponential ZEV uptake" has started, said Garrett Fitzgerald, electrification principal at the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). "New ZEV sales increased from 1.5% in H1 2020 to 2.5% in H1 2021" and "were 3.6% of Q2 2021 new car sales."

    Ford, General Motors and Stellantis are planning a total of over 50 new ZEV models "because they see they will lose market share if they don't," Commissioner Tremaine Phillips of the Michigan Public Service Commission said. "Those automakers have committed to a decades-long, billion-dollar transition, which tells me the vehicles are coming."

    Private sector investments by automaker and charger providers and some state policies approving utility investments recovered from ratepayers have already seed-funded the transportation electrification transition, automakers, analysts, and charger providers said. They now have White House backing and are likely to soon get a boost from federal infrastructure legislation, they added.

    But while those forces grow the numbers of EVs on the road, power system providers and their regulators need to face the challenge of unprecedented amounts and types of electricity demand, they said… click here for more

    EU Can Drop Russian Fossil Fuels Or Drop Fossil Fuels

    Europe can lead the way through an energy crisis without more fossil fuels; Europe’s plans to get more gas from the US is at odds with its climate commitments.

    Rebecca Leber, March 26, 2022 (VOX)

    “In five years, European countries hope to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and by the end of the year, they look to slash reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds…[This] could propel one of the swiftest energy transitions in history...[But] despite their climate pledges, world leaders have shown early support for ramping up fossil fuel infrastructure…[T]he United States is not in the driver’s seat. European countries are the ones that face the real choice… [EU members] can boost oil and gas from elsewhere, or they can undertake the most ambitious transition to renewables and energy efficiency in history…

    Next winter will be the true test of whether Europe can survive without Russian gas because that’s when heating for buildings drives up gas demand…The EU is looking to other countries to stock up on that gas…But the EU needs infrastructure to process and transport all this gas, and the existing infrastructure isn’t going to cut it…[T]here are talks of two new terminals planned in Germany in response to Russia’s war with Ukraine, a sign that countries are increasing their investments in fossil fuels…This is hardly an energy revolution…[but new terminals] won’t be completed for several years…

    [Some argue it is] possible to cut the EU’s overall gas usage by 32 percent by 2027…[by] combining a clean energy expansion with accelerated energy efficiency efforts…[and] without extending the life of nuclear power or increasing coal use in the next few years…Governments can fast-track permitting for proposed clean energy projects offshore and on land…[and] double the rate of heat pump installations by this winter…The common thread of many of these solutions is that there needs to be more emphasis on energy efficiency…The US won’t lead, but Europe still can.” click here for more

    Monday, March 28, 2022

    Monday Study – The Real Electricity Use During The Pandemic

    Multiscale effects masked the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on electricity demand in the United States

    Casey D.Burleyson, AowabinRahman, Jennie S.Rice, Amanda D.Smith, NathalieVoisin, December 2021 (Science Direct)

    Highlights

    1-COVID-19 modified when, where, and how we use electricity.

    2-The impact of COVID-19 varied across spatiotemporal scales.

    3-There are multiple offsetting effects that can mask the impact of COVID-19 on electricity demand.

    Abstract

    Shelter-in-place orders and business closures related to COVID-19 changed the hourly profile of electricity demand and created an unprecedented source of uncertainty for the grid. The potential for continued shifts in electricity profiles has implications for electricity sector investment and operating decisions that maintain reserve margins and provide grid reliability. This study reveals that understanding this uncertainty requires an understanding of the underlying drivers at the customer-class scale. This paper utilizes three datasets to compare the impacts of COVID-19 on electricity consumption across a range of spatiotemporal and customer scales. At the utility/customer-class scale, COVID-19-induced shutdowns in the spring of 2020 shifted weekday residential load profiles to resemble weekend profiles from previous years. Total commercial loads declined, but the commercial diurnal load profile was unchanged. With only total loads available at the balancing authority scale, the apparent impact of COVID-19 was smaller during the summer due in part to phased re-opening and spatial variability in re-opening, but there were still clear variations once total loads were broken down zonally. Monthly data at the state scale showed an increase in state-level residential electricity sales, a decrease in commercial sales, and a small net decrease in total sales in most states from April-August 2020. Analyses that focus on total load or a single scale may miss important changes that become apparent when the load is broken down regionally or by customer class.

    Introduction

    Understanding and predicting the diurnal profile of electricity demand (also called load) is critical for planning economically efficient electricity grid operations, designing rates, and evaluating infrastructure and market policies [1], [2], [3], [4]. Grid operators rely on load forecasts that are highly dependent on the day of week and time of year, holidays, and medium-range weather forecasts [3]. While most of the load forecast uncertainty at these time scales is typically driven by uncertainty in weather forecasting [5], [6], behavioral and economic shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic and their potential to persist beyond the current crisis are introducing new uncertainties [7].

    Shelter-in-place measures to limit the viral spread of COVID-19 during the spring of 2020 disrupted the ways in which people work, learn, and socialize. These disruptions modified and may continue to modify when, where, and how we use electricity. For example, several large companies in the United States (U.S.) and United Kingdom have announced plans to allow for widespread permanent teleworking even after employees are allowed back into the office [8], [9], [10]. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that most of those working from home were not doing so before the pandemic and the majority of the teleworkers surveyed would prefer to keep working from home after the pandemic [11], [12].

    Teleworking and stay-at-home orders resulting from COVID-19 caused increases in residential electricity demand and decreases in commercial and industrial demand [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]. In the U.S., the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that nationwide total energy consumption in April 2020 dropped to its lowest level for any single month since September 1989 [18]. The changes in electricity consumption varied by sector. Residential electricity sales were 6% higher in April 2020 than in any April of the five previous years while commercial and industrial sales decreased by 11% and 9%, respectively, compared with April 2019 [16]. Overall, electricity demand and prices dropped markedly in multiple electricity markets in the U.S. [19]. In an analysis of integrated electricity market data across the U.S., Ruan et al. found reductions relative to a backcast estimation (no COVID-19 scenario) of 6.4% – 10.2% in April and 4.4% – 10.7% in May [20]. They correlated reductions in electricity consumption in populous cities with reduced commercial activity and an increase in the stay-at-home population [20].

    There were also shifts in the diurnal profile of electricity consumption associated with COVID-19. A blog post from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) reported later-than-normal morning peaks, higher midday residential energy use, and temporal patterns similar to “a widespread snow day” [7]. A comparison of electricity demand profiles across Europe during the second week of April 2020 showed that total weekday electricity consumption was considerably reduced in countries that instituted COVID-19 containment measures and that the weekday hourly profiles resembled pre-pandemic weekend profiles [21]. COVID-19-induced deviations from normal diurnal patterns of electricity consumption in the residential and commercial sectors appears to have contributed to several notable spikes in the error of day-ahead forecasts that underpin the electricity market in the U.S. (Fig. 1). While some of the U.S. reserve regions examined had minimal changes in the distribution of their errors, several had significant spikes or increases in the variability of their forecast error after the onset of COVID-19-induced shutdowns in March of 2020 (e.g., the Carolinas and the Midwest).

    The potential for increased uncertainty due to long-term changes induced by COVID-19 will create challenges in predicting future hourly load profiles. Accurate hourly load forecasts are critical for both short-term operations and longer-term planning. These projections need to capture sectoral and geographical differences, as a decrease in overall electricity consumption but overall higher diurnal load profile uncertainty can affect regional production costs, ancillary service needs and investment costs (e.g., ramping and storage), and market prices differently [22], [23]. For example, the effect of the pandemic on electricity demand has been shown to differ among residential, commercial, and industrial sectors [16], [15] and the effect of the pandemic on electricity generation fuel mixes has been shown to differ among the three U.S. Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs; [24]). Future load profiles will need to reflect societal changes that were not present in pre-COVID-19 operational and long-term studies. Prior research on the energy and climate impacts of teleworking has focused primarily on changes in vehicle distance traveled, with overall energy use being a secondary focus [25]. While some pre-COVID-19 studies have addressed the impacts of teleworking on total energy use in the residential and commercial sectors [26], [27], their results were provided at annual time scales as opposed to hourly.

    This paper addresses a need for new research investigating the impacts of COVID-19 on hourly electricity load profiles by customer class within a given region of the electrical grid, complemented with insights on how these hourly profile changes vary across spatiotemporal scales. The novelty of this work is that we analyzed three independent datasets of observed electricity consumption differing by spatiotemporal scale and level of customer data aggregation to explore how these differences affected our ability to detect changes in electricity demand due to COVID-19. Our work expands upon the growing literature on impacts of COVID-19 on electricity consumption, most of which is focused on a single scale or sector. The electricity sector in the U.S. is composed of a series of nested actors (e.g., customers, utilities, balancing authorities [BAs], and RTOs), each of whose decisions affect outcomes at both larger and smaller spatial scales. For example, local utilities make decisions regarding rates and infrastructure buildout while RTOs lead long-term resource adequacy planning efforts and BAs are responsible for real-time balancing of supply and demand. We will show that COVID-19 impacted the electric sector in a variety of ways and that the apparent nature of those impacts varied depending on spatiotemporal and sectoral scales. We highlight several types of offsetting effects that acted to mute the COVID-19 signal. Our analysis suggests that modeling diurnal load patterns by customer class is necessary not only to understand recent changes in the total load profile due to COVID-19, but also to improve future load forecasts to account for the persistence of COVID-19-induced changes in patterns of electricity consumption.

    Conclusion

    COVID-19 induced substantial changes in when and where we use electricity and created an unprecedented source of uncertainty for the electric grid. The primary outcome of our analysis is to show that the apparent impact of COVID-19 varied depending on the spatiotemporal scale and level of aggregation of data being examined. At every scale COVID-19 impacts first appeared in the spring of 2020 and persisted at least through the fall of 2020. We identified three factors that acted to mask the impact of COVID-19:

    1. Across all three scales we examined, the impact of COVID-19 was dampened because changes in residential loads and non-residential loads had a similar magnitude but moved in opposite directions.

    2. During the summer of 2020 total loads became more strongly dependent on diurnal temperature variations and less dependent on inhabitance schedules. This acted to reduce the impact of more people staying home during the day – a signal that was clearly evident in the spring and then re-emerged in the fall of 2020.

    3. Phased reopening and spatial variability in reopening during the summer of 2020 masked the COVID-19 signal when total load data were analyzed at the balancing authority scale. Breaking the data down into smaller zones within the balancing authority showed that the impact of COVID-19 persisted through the summer and into the fall of 2020…

    Saturday, March 26, 2022

    Big Money, New Energy And The War

    This is another hint that Putin’s war will slow the fight against the climate crisis and then accelerate it. From CNBC Television via YouTube

    The Riches Hidden In Earth’s Deep Heat

    Geothermal energy offers the added hidden benefit of lithium riches.From PBS Newshour via YouTube

    The Need For EV Chargers

    Which comes first, EVs or chargers?From Wall Street Journal via YouTube

    Friday, March 25, 2022

    The EU’s Ten Steps Away From Russia

    IEA provides 10-Point Plan to European Union for reducing reliance on Russian supplies by over a third while supporting European Green Deal, with emergency options to go further

    3 March 2022 (International Energy Agency)

    “…1-Do not sign any new gas supply contracts with Russia. [Impact: Enables greater diversification of supply this year and beyond]

    2-Replace Russian supplies with gas from alternative sources [Impact: Increases non-Russian gas supply by around 30 billion cubic metres within a year]

    3-Introduce minimum gas storage obligations [Impact: Enhances resilience of the gas system by next winter]

    4-Accelerate the deployment of new wind and solar projects [Impact: Reduces gas use by 6 billion cubic metres within a year]

    5-Maximise power generation from bioenergy and nuclear [Impact: Reduces gas use by 13 billion cubic metres within a year]

    6-Enact short-term tax measures on windfall profits to shelter vulnerable electricity consumers from high prices [Impact: Cuts energy bills even when gas prices remain high]

    7-Speed up the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps [Impact: Reduces gas use by an additional 2 billion cubic metres within a year]

    8-Accelerate energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industry [Impact: Reduces gas use by close to 2 billion cubic metres within a year]

    9-Encourage a temporary thermostat reduction of 1 °C by consumers [Impact: Reduces gas use by some 10 billion cubic metres within a year]

    10-Step up efforts to diversify and decarbonise sources of power system flexibility [Impact: Loosens the strong links between gas supply and Europe’s electricity security]…” click here for more

    China Sold U.S. LNG To Europe At A Profit

    China Sells U.S. LNG to Europe at a Hefty Profit; Unipec sells April-June cargoes to Europe via tender; High gas prices in Europe are rerouting LNG trade flows

    Stephen Stapczynski, March 15, 2022 (Bloomberg News)

    China resold several U.S. liquefied natural gas shipments to Europe, a rare move by the world’s top buyer that highlights how sky-high prices are rerouting trade flows…Unipec, the trading arm of China’s state-owned Sinopec, sold at least three LNG cargoes for delivery through June to ports in Europe via a tender that closed late last week…The shipments will load from Venture Global LNG Inc.’s Calcasieu Pass export facility in Louisiana, where Sinopec has a deal to purchase LNG…European natural gas rates surged to a record high last week on fears that the war in Ukraine will curb flows from top supplier Russia…

    The rally prompted Unipec’s traders to turn away from the lower-priced Chinese market, even as Beijing demanded its importers secure more fuel amid concerns over wartime disruptions…European gas usually trades at a discount to LNG in North Asia, home to the top importers. But Europe’s plan to ditch Russian gas means that it will need to significantly boost LNG imports, with the continent’s prices primed to stay higher than Asian rates as it seeks to attract every last drop of fuel from the spot market…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 23, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: California’s Rooftop Solar Choices

    As California's solar net metering battle goes to regulators, a focus on reliability may be the best answer; Customer advocates say the current rooftop solar rate is "unsustainable," while solar advocates say "they want to kill us."

    Herman K. Trabish, October 1, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: A proposed resolution to this debate was releases in January but the backlash against its decreased benefits for rooftop solar has prevented the commission from passing it and the debate continues.

    Uncompromising final arguments were filed Sept. 14 in the nationally-watched debate to set a behind-the-meter (BTM) solar tariff in California to succeed the state's retail rate net energy metering (NEM).

    Proposals to cut NEM export compensation to customers will "kill" their right of self-generation and are "hostile" to solar businesses, solar advocates said. But current compensation for solar owners creates a "massive" shift of system costs to non-solar owners and a "crisis" of rising electricity rates, customer advocates and U.C. Berkeley economists noted.

    NEM changes proposed by a coalition of stakeholders that "want us dead" may alter the "payback period" on solar purchases and "devastate today's market," California Solar and Storage Association (CalSSA) Policy Director Brad Heavner said.

    That coalition, which includes environmental advocate the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and ratepayer advocate The Utility Reform Network (TURN), sees a threat of higher costs to all electricity consumers.

    "The solar industry is attacking groups that support reform," but today's NEM "is a material driver of rate increases," TURN Staff Attorney Matthew Freedman said. Without reform that recognizes "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," the cost shift "will explode in the coming decade and threaten affordability for all customers."

    The "fundamental tension" in California's NEM legislation is that compensation must both drive solar growth and protect all customers, a CPUC-ordered study on cost shifts concluded. Standard regulatory metrics show retail rate NEM shifts costs unjustly. But a new approach to solar that recognizes its reliability value may remedy that, some stakeholders suggested. Utilities and solar advocates across the country face the same "fundamental tension" and are debating the potential shift of costs from solar owners to electricity customers who do not own solar… click here for more

    The LNG Connections

    Whose Gas Will Europe Import Now? The Choice Matters; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has brought instability, violence, and human tragedy on a massive scale, with effects rippling across the continent and globally.

    March 18, 2022 (Rocky Mountain Institute via Clean Technica)

    “..One-fourth of Europe’s energy comes from natural gas, nearly 45 percent of which is imported from Russia…[W]hich alternatives they choose will have significant climate implications…The EU is accelerating its shift to alternative energy sources such as renewables to supplant its large natural gas appetite…[Germany froze the Nord Stream 2] 1,200 kilometer gas pipeline from Russia to Germany…[and] announced plans to rapidly build out terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG)…[as] international oil companies including BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil are making plans to divest their holdings in Russia…LNG/CNG has long been positioned as a ‘bridge’ to transition the world away from coal. Russia’s war in Ukraine, however, underscores that it is not a stable bridge…

    …[M]ethane (the main component of LNG) is a dangerous driver of climate change…[T]he EU currently imports one-half of its LNG from the United States (26 percent) and Qatar (24 percent). Moves are afoot to replaced Russia’s pipeline with a US and Qatari LNG one…[T]ransporting gas through Russian pipelines is three times more climate intensive than shipping it from the United States…[because fossil] fuel systems often leak methane (especially in Russia)…Operations that leak even small amounts of planet-warming methane can be even more detrimental to the climate than coal…Sourcing less emissions-intensive gas buys time in the short term as the world transforms the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future…” click here for more

    Monday, March 21, 2022

    Monday Study – The Smart Way To Handle EV Charging

    More EVs, Fewer Emissions How to Maximize Emissions Reductions by Smart Charging Electric Vehicles

    Lynn Daniels, Britta Gross, Christy Lewis, Laurie Stone, March 2022 (Rocky Mountain Institute) ,p> Executive Summary

    Transportation emits more carbon than any other sector in the United States. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, we must reduce carbon emissions from transportation 45% by 2030. To do this, we must decrease the number of vehicle miles traveled and put 70 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by the end of the decade.

    In the US today, EVs already deliver about 60%–68% fewer emissions than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. When those EVs are optimized with smart charging to align with the lowest emissions rates on the electricity grid, they further reduce emissions by an additional 2%–8% and even become a grid resource.1

    In fact, when 70 million EVs are on the road (one in four cars), emissions-optimized smart charging is the equivalent of taking an additional 5.73 million ICE vehicles off the road. Even today, charging 1 million EVs at the right times is equivalent to taking between 20,000 and 80,000 ICE vehicles off the road. Smart charging and electric vehicles, combined with increasingly accurate real-time models for what is happening on the electricity grid, are facilitating this interaction between the electric utility and transportation sectors.

    As more accurate models are developed that provide dynamic signals about the costs and emissions associated with power generation in real time, there is a significant opportunity for utilities and EV owners to control EV charging according to an emissions signal. This leads to:

    • Reduced costs—utilities can take advantage of low-cost moments of renewable energy curtailment by encouraging EV drivers to shift their load to these times.i

    • Reduced emissions associated with driving and charging EVs.

    • A faster transition to renewables

    In this report, we explore the factors that maximize emissions reductions when EVs are charged according to an emissions signal, in other words, when the marginal emissions rate is lowest.ii We find two key factors that are most critical to maximizing CO2 savings:

    1. The local grid mix: The more zero-emissions generation available on a given grid, the greater the opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions. The highest possible savings found in this study are on grids with high renewable generation penetration. However, even on grids with relatively high carbon intensity, if there is a large difference between the emissions factors of that grid’s fuel sources, emissions-optimized charging can significantly reduce emissions when the cleaner fuels are available.

    2. Charging behavior: EV drivers should charge using faster charging rates but over longer dwell times (the amount of time a vehicle is parked at a charger).

    There are also other factors to take into consideration. These include transmission capacity, which is critical to ensure that zero-emissions electricity can be dispatched to where it is needed (i.e., so that charging EVs can use it), and the potential for EVs to mitigate renewable energy curtailment.

    These factors point to a set of actions that we recommend utilities explore:

    1. When appropriate, prioritize Level 2 charging with longer dwell times, maximizing the flexibility of EVs as a grid asset.iii

    2. Incorporate transportation electrification into integrated resource planning, going beyond simply projecting EV adoption to considering how EVs can be used as a flexible asset.

    3. Align transportation electrification programs and offerings with the grid generation mix.

    4. Complement investment in new transmission lines that move renewable energy to load centers and can provide a structural solution for curtailment, with technology that optimizes charging around the marginal emissions rate to avoid curtailment in the near term in advance of new transmission coming online.

    5. Continually re-evaluate time-of-use tariffs as real-time grid data becomes readily available. For example, rather than just considering rates that reflect peak and off-peak loads, adjust rates to incentivize EV charging when there is likely to be curtailment.

    Fleet operators who are transitioning to electric vehicles can also take advantage of emissions-optimized charging. Leading fleets, especially those electrifying to directly reduce their Scope 1 emissions, should consider emissions-optimized charging to maximize these direct emissions reductions… click here for more

    Saturday, March 19, 2022

    Australia Faces Climate Crisis Facts

    This satire is not how the Aussie government actually handles climate issues, but it reveals the flaw in the current “get f-in’ used to it” approach. From thejuicemedia via YouTube

    Iowa’s Greta Talks Climate Crisis

    Iowa 8th grader Lillian Hill talks about the future she does not want to live in. From KCCI via YouTube

    Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Shows Benefits

    A national EV charging networks, advanced battery research and production, and new green hydrogen advances are part of the bill's tax-funded New Energy initiatives. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    Friday, March 18, 2022

    Europe’s Way Around Russian Energy

    How could Germany and the EU weather a fossil fuel embargo on Russia?

    Kerstine Appunn, 11 March 2022 (Clean Energy Wire)

    “…European countries are paying Russian energy suppliers close to one billion euros per day for coal, oil and gas, thereby indirectly financing Putin’s war chest… [In 2020, around 55 percent of German natgas came] from Russia…[Most] is used in the heating sector and for industrial processes, a smaller share is used to generate electricity. Around 45 percent of Germany’s hard coal imports come from Russia and the country also receives 34 percent of its crude oil imports from there…[T]he percentages this past winter were already lower…

    [To reduce dependence on Russian gas by 80 percent] would require: 1) [Importing more from Norway, North Africa, the Netherlands] and using the full capacity of European LNG terminals for deliveries from the U.S. and Qatar…2) ensuring that storage facilities are adequately filled for next winter…3) energy savings / more energy efficiency on the demand side, e.g. in heating homes…In electricity generation, gas can be substituted with renewable and coal power in the short and medium term… Lower coal prices can make this measure a cost benefit…[In the medium to long term, the plan is for a] massive expansion of renewable energy capacities, in particular wind and solar PV…[and] a smart power grid and storage facilities…

    Substituting Russian gas in the heating sector is more difficult than in the power sector…Switching to electric heat-pumps is only a solution in the longer term…[With a complete halt of Russian gas supplies, each] German citizen would have to face a loss of 80 to 1,000 euros per year, depending largely on how Russian gas would be substituted …[Low-income households] should be supported with targeted transfers…In the long term, Germany’s industry should function on the basis of green electricity and hydrogen (e.g. green steel production)…[There could be] “unforeseeable consequences” and “massive negative effects” for consumers and the economy …” click here for more

    “Transition Metals,” The War, And The Climate Crisis Fight

    Russia and Ukraine are important to the renewables transition. Here’s what that means for the climate

    Vigya Sharma, Eleonore Libre, Julia Longinova, March 15, 2022 (The Conversation)

    “…Both Russia and Ukraine are key suppliers of crucial metals used in the manufacture of green technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries… [The] world needs a secure, steady and affordable supply of “energy transition metals” such as copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, aluminium and lithium…Russia accounts for 7% of the world’s mined nickel – a scarce metal needed to make electric vehicle batteries. The current conflict reportedly pushed nickel prices up 250% in 48 hours last week…

    Russia also produces a third of the world’s palladium. The metal is used in the car industry to control vehicle emissions. Palladium prices reached an all-time high following the Ukraine crisis, but have since slumped…Ukraine is the world’s largest supplier of a group of chemical elements known as “noble gases”. These include neon and krypton, and are used to make [critical components] of all electronic systems including those found in automobiles, renewables machinery and other technology…Some chip manufacturers reportedly stocked up on neon ahead of the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, but the longer-term outlook is uncertain…[T]he development of solar and wind projects was recently found to be 30% below what’s needed to achieve the world’s climate targets this decade…

    A shortfall in materials used to produce such technologies will only put the world further behind….[But the United States] is investing in critical metal exploration and manufacturing…[and Australia’s] manufacturing strategy supports investments in critical resources processing…The spike in the prices of critical minerals is likely to drive new mining, manufacturing and renewable energy projects outside Russia…[In the Philippines] a dozen new nickel mines are expected this year…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 16, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Nuclear Power Could Be Crucial To Climate Crisis Fight

    State, federal actions show growing push for a nuclear role in reaching net zero emissions; Support is rising for proposals to keep nuclear plants in business and cut emissions.

    Herman K. Trabish, September 28, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: As the war in Ukraine drives natural gas access down and natural gas prices up, support grows for protecting existing nuclear.

    Nuclear power advocates are increasingly emphasizing the value of existing but financially struggling U.S. nuclear plants in curbing carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

    Questions about nuclear power's costs and safety that kept it at 18% to 20.6% of U.S. electricity generation from 1990 to 2020 left little support for new plants. But extreme weather-driven disasters and predictions of much worse in the recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are driving new thinking about existing plants.

    "The economic feasibility of existing nuclear is a very different question depending on whether the power market values clean energy," said Exelon Senior Vice President of Regulatory Policy and Analysis Mason Emnett. In a power market that compensates all clean resources, "our nuclear units could compete, operate safely and reliably, and be relicensed."

    "Financial incentives for zero-carbon generation are a no-brainer," said Analysis Group Senior Advisor Susan Tierney, a former nuclear skeptic, Department of Energy (DOE) official, and Massachusetts utilities regulator. Unsafe nuclear plants should not be preserved, but incentives for existing and safe nuclear are better than rising emissions from increased use of natural gas generation, she added.

    Growing support for new federal and state initiatives to support nuclear power shows clean energy advocates and power system analysts are confronting the possibility that the transition to net zero emissions may require investment in existing nuclear. That is reflected in laws enacted from 2017 to 2019 to fund zero emissions credits (ZECs) in Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. While ZEC programs differ, existing nuclear plants generally receive above the electricity market price for the power they produce based on "an established social cost of carbon" that reflects the environmental cost of emissions, a 2019 Department of Energy report said.

    Exelon's successful recent fight for new ZECs for plants not included in Illinois's 2016 allocation began with a state Environmental Protection Agency-commissioned report by Synapse Energy Economics on nuclear economics. But it was the link between nuclear power and the climate crisis fight that led to the Illinois House and Senate passing comprehensive clean energy legislation this month with bipartisan support in both chambers… click here for more

    Ukraine And New Energy

    Will Russia's war on Ukraine help or hinder green energy transition? The transition to green fuels is more relevant than ever to reduce dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

    March 10, 2022 (Buenos Aires Times)

    “Despite fears that the energy price shock unleashed by Russia's war in Ukraine will put climate ambitions on the back burner, the transition to green fuels is more relevant than ever to reduce dependence on Russian hydrocarbons…[T]he European Union and other countries are seeking to wean themselves off Russian hydrocarbons, especially natural gas…Coal – the most environmentally harmful electricity source – may tempt some nations…[The International Energy Agency (IEA)] acknowledged that the fossil fuel would enable Europe…as global demand for the dirty [but lower cost] fossil fuel reached a historic high in 2021…

    Countries such as Poland could burn coal for longer, using it to transition to renewable energy sources without passing through a phase of gas power…Analysts from the RBC bank said the move was "a total shift" in the bloc's stance towards coal…The EU, IEA and NGOs stress that the development of renewable energy sources and biogas must be accelerated…Investors seem to agree, with the value of companies in the sector rising recently even as the Ukraine conflict triggers dramatic market volatility…

    Solar and wind power capacity increased at an unprecedented rate in 2021...But the IEA said four times as much infrastructure must be installed every year to limit global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius target…[and questions] remain over the soaring cost of critical materials…Changing Europe's demand [with increased energy efficiency] as well as the supply is an important tool in the energy transition…[The European Union is] targeting efficiency measures including insulating buildings and changing the method of heating…” click here for more

    Monday, March 14, 2022

    Monday Study – A Model For A National Transmission System

    Design Study Requirements for a U.S. Macrogrid; A Path to Achieving the Nation’s Energy System Transformation Goals

    February 2022 Energy Systems Integration Group

    Executive Summary

    Several recent, comprehensive studies of a clean energy future for the United States point to the same conclusion: a clean electricity future for the United States will require massive development of the bulk transmission infrastructure.

    States, utilities, and consumers have significant commitments to rapidly decrease carbon emissions in the power sector and to use more electricity to reduce emissions in other sectors. In the autumn of 2020, the Energy Systems Integration Group conducted a series of virtual workshops to consider the implications of and opportunities highlighted by the above referenced studies. These workshops confirmed that our current transmission development approaches and processes would almost certainly be inadequate for the challenge of growing to enable a clean energy future.

    The advanced hybrid grid may be part of the key for the massive transmission expansion required to support very high levels of clean electricity for the United States. Some major features of the macrogrid concept (Figure ES-1, p. 2) are the principle of looped circuits and the interspersed converter stations to either collect clean electricity or deliver it to demand centers.

    The macrogrid concept proposed here is more than massive build-out of conventional high-voltage DC (HVDC) lines and converter stations. The macrogrid vision consists of a backbone of long-distance lines composed of networked, multi-terminal HVDC based on voltage source converter (VSC) technology.

    Major Benefits of a Macrogrid

    The benefits of a national macrogrid go well beyond simply serving as conduits for moving clean energy from source to load. The general attributes of a macrogrid fall into the following broad categories:

    • Reliability. The macrogrid’s capabilities will be extremely valuable for grid management and security with very high levels of renewable resources to support decarbonization goals. Increased interconnectivity between regions of the United States can contribute to significant improvements in reliability. The technologies comprising the macrogrid—extrahigh and ultra-high voltage DC (EHVDC and UHVDC) transmission that can make the bulk transmission network highly controllable—can be leveraged to address long-standing challenges with bulk power system reliability.

    The controls associated with HVDC equipment, and wide-area situational awareness enabled by new connectivity and technology, will tie regions together in ways that facilitate better and more efficient overall grid performance. Energy, capacity, and ancillary services would be deliverable from any region of the country to any other region, not just between neighbors. A macrogrid can provide operational tools and capabilities that not only can reduce the bulk power system’s susceptibility to failure, but can enhance outage restoration capabilities and speed, which can be critical during extreme operating scenarios.

    • Resilience. Extreme weather events, a growing concern in a changing climate, can affect large regions of the country as experienced in California in August 2020 and Texas in February 2021. The scope and scale of the macrogrid will provide interconnectivity that spans the entire country (and potentially the northern and southern borders as well) and goes well beyond the connections that we have now, between mostly adjacent regions. Such interconnectivity is needed to ensure the resilience of the electricity infrastructure on which the country’s residents and economy depend.

    • Economics. Some recent studies indicate that a macrogrid would substantially reduce the overall cost for a clean energy future, saving as much as one trillion dollars (see, for example, VCE (2020)). Conventional power system planning models under-value transmission, but newer approaches capture the benefits of moving power to balance power systems with dispersed variable resources based on the location and time of output. A macrogrid can facilitate the use of the most economically attractive resources (bulk generation and storage, for energy and ancillary services), which can be dispatched to cover energy demand across four time zones to serve all regions and customers. And HVDC transmission has lower costs when transmitting electricity over hundreds of miles.

    • Operability. The macrogrid would add an overarching layer on the existing grid management structure, enabling the coordination of national and regional energy flows. The macrogrid’s capabilities will be extremely valuable for grid management and security with very high levels of renewable resources to support decarbonization goals. The controls associated with HVDC equipment, and wide-area situational awareness enabled by new connectivity and technology, will provide capabilities that would not only reduce the bulk power system’s susceptibility to failure, but also enhance outage restoration capabilities and speed, which can be critical during extreme operating scenarios.

    The U.S. Department of Energy, through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has launched efforts to explore transmission development for supporting clean electricity futures. We propose that the macrogrid be evaluated in the context of this DOE initiative as an alternate transmission approach for supporting very high levels of clean electricity. Using the clean electricity scenarios developed by the laboratories as the starting point, a quantitative process based on recent transmission expansion planning principles, augmented to accommodate the scale and technologies envisioned for the macrogrid, would be applied. From this initial design, a series of studies would be conducted to elicit the full range of costs and benefits of the macrogrid, along with identification of outstanding questions and recommendations for future research.

    Central Tasks in Working Toward a Viable Macrogrid Design

    This report explores the central tasks involved in working toward a viable macrogrid design and presents specific steps for addressing them:

    • Technical studies on reliability, resilience, economics, and operations. A series of technical studies is proposed and described here to design and evaluate the macrogrid alternative for grid expansion. An initial design for the macrogrid would be based on clean electricity scenarios already under development in DOE initiatives. It is recommended that the initial macrogrid design be based on the end-point scenario, and not involve a multi-step incremental expansion exercise. The initial macrogrid design would then be subjected to additional technical analysis to elicit further details on the range of ancillary benefits provided by the macrogrid infrastructure.

    • Coordination and oversight of the physical infrastructure. Physical operation of the macrogrid raises a number of technical challenges and questions. Currently, there is no operating entity that has the purview and national scope of the macrogrid infrastructure, or has the tightly coupled operating interactions with the number of entities that would be necessary here.

    • Cost comparisons. The costs to build the macrogrid are obviously of major importance and would be compared to other alternatives for grid expansion to support the same clean electricity scenario. Against these costs, the full range of benefits—including those related to improved power system reliability and resilience—would be captured and quantified to develop a full picture of the macrogrid economics.

    • Use of rights-of-way. Acquisition of rights-of-way for new transmission is a barrier to any form of grid expansion. Because of the architecture, the HVDC lines comprising the macrogrid would likely be much longer than new lines that are part of a more conventional grid expansion. Further, utilization in terms of power transfer of the rights-of-way would be much higher. As part of this evaluation, opportunities to use existing or more readily available line routes, such as interstate highways or railroads, would be explored in detail.

    The convergence of the national push for very high levels of clean electricity and the advances in HVDC transmission technology of the last decade have created a unique opportunity for a detailed exploration of an alternative to the conventional transmission expansion process to address identified challenges for the U.S. electric power system.

    It is recommended that the initial macrogrid design be based on the end-point scenario, and not involve a multi-step incremental expansion exercise. The initial macrogrid design would then be subjected to further technical analysis to elicit further details on the range of ancillary benefits provided by the macrogrid infrastructure… click here for more

    Saturday, March 12, 2022

    Jon Stewart On Big Oil’s Climate Tactics

    Jon Stewart and Shell Oil’s CEO talk about the influence and future of the fossil fuel industries From AppleTV+ via YouTube

    Gas Prices And War

    It is energy markets, not the Biden administration, that drive up gasoline prices. The petroleum industry is working to avoid investing in what will become stranded assets. From Raw Story Videos via YouTube

    Investing While War Rages

    First Solar, Sunrun, Enphase, and other New Energy stocks are reportedly good buys right now.From CNBC Television via YouTube

    Friday, March 11, 2022

    World’s Emissions Skyrocket

    Global CO2 emissions rebounded to their highest level in history in 2021

    8 March 2022 (International Energy Agency)

    “Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by 6% in 2021 to 36.3 billion tonnes, their highest ever level, as the world economy rebounded strongly from the Covid-19 crisis and relied heavily on coal to power that growth…The increase in global CO2 emissions of over 2 billion tonnes was the largest in history in absolute terms, more than offsetting the previous year’s pandemic-induced decline…

    The recovery of energy demand in 2021 was compounded by adverse weather and energy market conditions – notably the spikes in natural gas prices – which led to more coal being burned despite renewable power generation registering its largest ever growth…Coal accounted for over 40% of the overall growth in global CO2 emissions in 2021…CO2 emissions from natural gas rebounded well above their 2019 levels…CO2 emissions from oil remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels because of the limited recovery in global transport activity in 2021, mainly in the aviation sector…

    Renewables-based generation reached an all-time high…The use of coal for electricity generation in 2021 was intensified by record high natural gas prices…[China’s emissions increases in 2020 and 2021] more than offset the aggregate decline in the rest of the world over the same period…[and accounted in 2021] for 33% of the global total…CO2 emissions in India rebounded strongly in 2021 to rise above 2019 levels…On a per capita basis, CO2 emissions in advanced economies have fallen to 8.2 tonnes on average and are now below the average of 8.4 tonnes in China…” click here for more