NewEnergyNews: 08/01/2022 - 09/01/2022

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, December 7:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Stakeholder-Driven Change In Thinking For Regulators
  • TTTA Wednesday-Linked Efficiency, Equity, Emissions Cutting Efforts Grow At The State Level
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Monday Study – California’s New Answer For Solar
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, November 30:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: New Power System Approaches To Customer-Owned Generation
  • TTTA Wednesday-New Tax Credits For New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Monday Study – The West’s Market Opportunity
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Ocean Wind On The Verge
  • Weekend Video: Big Funding To Long Duration Storage
  • Weekend Video: The Mighty Missip’ Runs Down
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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, December 9:
  • Global Climate Goal Rises To 1.7 C
  • Exploring The Potential Of Green H2

    Wednesday, August 31, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solutions For Texas Power System Reliability

    Texas just dodged a repeat of 2021 outages, but its power sector has a long way to go, analysts say; New laws and regulations protected Texas this year, but long term reliability requires more, experts agreed

    Herman K. Trabish, February 25, 2022 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Power system analysts continue to fight against empty Texas political rhetoric for distributed resources to balance and strengthen the state’s electric electric service.

    This year’s Texas winter has not caused a repeat of the February 2021 power failures but building resilience to extreme weather remains a work in progress, state regulators, policymakers and others acknowledged.

    Last year’s record freeze disrupted the state’s natural gas and electricity systems, leaving Texans shivering in the dark for days. At least 210 people died and power disruptions cost the state economy between $80 billion and $130 billion, according to a November study by federal regulators. Despite a major legislative and regulatory response, concerns remain about the state’s long term preparedness to deal with extreme weather impacts.

    “These were unusual and trying circumstances, but we have done things to dramatically improve the situation,” then Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) Chair Peter Lake told Utility Dive. “We can now avoid the downward spiral of the natural gas supply chain losing power and the power generators losing natural gas, which led to rolling blackouts.”

    But assurances from legislators and regulators “were undercut when natural gas production dropped in [this year’s] January and February freezes,” said Alison Silverstein, a former advisor to the PUCT and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “Too many decisions have been made without analysis of impacts or cost-effectiveness and without considering alternatives. Hope is not a strategy.”

    Forecasts suggest Texas will avoid outages this winter but extreme weather threats from future winters and from summer heat, drought and hurricanes remain, climate researchers predict.

    And while new laws have improved generators’ weatherization, they did not protect the natural gas supply, most analysts agree. Overlooking other options may allow the climate crisis to keep messing with Texas, they said… click here for more

    Over 90% Of U.S. Would Drive Cleaner In EVs

    What Are the Benefits of Switching from Gasoline-Powered Cars and Trucks to Electric?

    David Reichmuth, July 25, 2022 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Transportation is the largest source of global warming emissions in the US and the passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs produce the majority of transportation emissions…Electric vehicles (EVs) can eliminate tailpipe emissions altogether and so are an attractive option for reducing both global-warming and smog-forming air pollution.

    While EVs can have no tailpipe emissions, there are emissions from electricity generation. There are also emissions from extracting the materials and the manufacturing processes required to make EVs…To compare driving on electricity versus gasoline, we need to consider all of the global warming emissions that occur in producing and using those fuels…

    For an EV that means: Emissions that result from raw-material extraction, such as coal mining and natural gas drilling…Emissions from delivering these fuels to power plants…Emissions from burning those fuels in power plants to generate electricity…Electricity losses that occur during distribution from power plants to the point where the electric vehicle is plugged in…[and]The efficiency of the vehicle in using electricity…

    …[For comparable gasoline and diesel vehicles, emissions] result from: Oil extraction at the well…Transporting crude oil to a refinery…Refining oil into gasoline…Delivering fuel to gas stations…[and] Combusting fuel in the vehicle’s engine…

    Because of differences in electricity generation across the United States, the emissions produced from driving the average EV vary depending on where the vehicle is driven…Over 90 percent of people in the United State live where driving the average EV produces fewer global warming emissions than the most efficient gasoline vehicle (59 mpg)…

    …While driving the average EV yields significant emissions savings, the more efficient the EV, the greater the benefits of switching from gasoline to electricity. Driving the most efficient EV produces lower emissions than the most efficient gasoline car where 97 percent of the population lives…” click here for more

    Monday, August 29, 2022

    Impacts Of New Funding To Fight The Climate Crisis

    A Turning Point for US Climate Progress: Assessing the Climate and Clean Energy Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act

    John Larsen, Ben King, Hannah Kolus, Naveen Dasari, Galen Hiltbrand, and Whitney Herndon, August 12, 2022 (Rhodium Group)

    “…[The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) climate change and clean energy investments] will be the single largest action ever taken by Congress and the US government to combat climate change…[T]he package as a whole drives US net GHG emissions down to 32-42% below 2005 levels in 2030, compared to 24-35% without it. The long-term, robust incentives and programs provide a decade of policy certainty for the clean energy industry to scale up across all corners of the US energy system to levels that the US has never seen before. The IRA also targets incentives toward emerging clean technologies that have seen little support to date. These incentives help reduce the green premium on clean fuels, clean hydrogen, carbon capture, direct air capture, and other technologies, potentially creating the market conditions to expand these nascent industries to the level needed to maintain momentum on decarbonization into the 2030s and beyond. We also find that the IRA cuts household energy costs by up to an additional $112 per household on average in 2030 than without it, cuts electric power conventional air pollutants by up to 82% compared to 2021, and scales clean generation to supply as much as 81% of all electricity in 2030. The IRA represents major progress by Congress, and at the same time more action will be needed for the US to meet its 2030 target of reducing emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels. With the IRA enshrined as law, all eyes will be on federal agencies and states, as well as Congress, to pursue additional actions to close the emissions gap.

    A first for Congress: passing major climate legislation

    Congress has had climate change on its radar since the first major hearings on the topic in 1988. Now, with the passage of the IRA 34 years later, Congress has taken decisive action. Though the intervening years have seen plenty of false starts on legislation to tackle emissions, acting late is certainly better than never. The package of new grant and loan programs, tax credits and emissions fees touches nearly every corner of the US economy and will make meaningful progress toward decarbonizing the US energy system for the next decade and beyond. While the overall size of the package is trimmed down compared to the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) passed by the House in November, the emissions reduction components are still robust and effective.

    In this report, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the emissions and energy system impacts of the IRA, building on our preliminary assessment published on July 28. To conduct this analysis, we used RHG-NEMS, a version of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) National Energy Modeling System modified by Rhodium Group. We model the impacts of the IRA using the three core emissions scenarios—high, central, and low—from our newly updated baselines for 2030 US emissions under current policy in Taking Stock 2022. We compare projected emissions from Taking Stock with the projected emissions trajectories we estimate under the IRA and calculate the emissions impacts of the IRA as the difference between the two policy environments for each emissions pathway. For more information on our methodology and analytical approach, see the technical appendix of Taking Stock 2022. We first assess the IRA’s impact from an economy-wide vantage point. From there, we consider key impacts in the three largest emitting sectors in the US: electric power, industry, and transportation. We then zero in on the implications of the IRA for a few critical emerging clean technologies and look at its effect in other sectors. Finally, we quantify the IRA’s impact on consumer costs and energy security and conclude with a look to the future.

    The IRA cuts emissions across the economy

    The IRA contains an array of programs, tax credits, and fees that, in combination, drive a step change in decarbonization of the US economy by the end of the decade. These provisions lower the cost of commercial clean technologies like wind and solar, electric vehicles, and building efficiency, enabling them to become more competitive with incumbent fossil fuel technologies and driving a shift towards cleaner energy. Tax credits and other programs for manufacturing of clean technologies expand production capacity and help to enable accelerated deployment. Provisions of the IRA also modify fossil fuel leasing on federal lands, including requiring lease sales and changing royalty rates, but we find almost no emissions impacts from the combined impact of these provisions, relative to the benefits of the clean energy provisions.

    The net result of all the provisions in the IRA is that US net GHG emissions decline to 32-42% below 2005 levels in 2030. That’s up to 10 percentage points more than under current policy without the IRA, in which we project emissions of 24-35% below 2005 levels in the same year (Figure 1). The range reflects uncertainty around economic growth, clean technology costs, and fossil fuel prices across our high, central, and low emissions scenarios detailed in Taking Stock 2022. In the high emissions case, which features cheap fossil fuels and more expensive clean technologies plus faster economic growth, we find that the IRA can accelerate emissions reductions to a 32% cut below 2005 levels in 2030, compared to 24% without it (Figure 2). On the flip side, in the low emissions case, with expensive fossil fuels and cheap clean technologies, the IRA can drive even larger reductions, from 35% below 2005 levels without it to 42% below 2005 levels with it. In the central emissions case, the IRA accelerates emissions reductions to 40% below 2005 levels in 2030, compared to 30% without it.

    This is a huge step forward towards the US climate target of 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030, though clearly more action is needed. No single action on its own will be enough to meet the target. Still the IRA changes the game, not just with the deep emissions reductions it generates but also by cutting the cost of additional action by the executive branch and states, which could put the 2030 target within reach.

    Progress in the three biggest emitting sectors

    All told, the IRA cuts emissions and increases carbon removal by an additional 439-660 million metric tons in 2030 beyond what’s projected without the IRA (Figure 3). On the high end, that’s equal to zeroing out all current emissions from California and Florida combined. Put another way, the IRA helps close as much as 51% of the gap between the US emissions trajectory without the bill and the US’s 2030 climate target.

    Our preliminary estimate of the impacts of the IRA found a 31-44% reduction over 2005 levels attributable to the policies. Our revised estimate finds a narrower band of emissions impacts of 32-42%, as we’ve honed our modeling to reflect more of the nuance of the bill language. The biggest drivers of the difference from our preliminary estimate are a more refined representation of the EV tax credits; more granular characterization of the transition from the current electric sector tax regime, as extended by the IRA, to the new clean electricity credits; and interactive effects of increased federal fossil royalty rates driving gas prices slightly higher in the low emissions case, leading to more coal generation and higher emissions relative to our preliminary assessment (though still substantially lower than without the IRA). Looking across sectors, the biggest emission reductions by far occur in the electric power sector, followed by carbon removal (due to forest and soil practices, direct air capture and other actions), industry (including emissions from fossil fuel production), and transportation (Figure 4). The investments that drive these emission reductions will create new economic opportunities across the country and shift the US closer to a decarbonized energy system.

    Record-level clean generation in the electric power sector

    The suite of long-term, full-value, flexible clean energy tax credits and other programs in the IRA focus on the “4 Rs” of electric generation decarbonization: Reinvigorate new clean capacity additions: production and investment tax credits (PTC and ITC) Retain existing clean capacity: zero-emitting nuclear PTC Retire fossil capacity: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) investments in rural electric cooperatives (coops) and Department of Energy (DOE) loan programs Retrofit remaining fossil capacity: section 45Q carbon capture tax credit Critically, the IRA includes direct pay and transferability provisions that make it easier to monetize the tax credits by decoupling them from a finite pool of tax equity dollars. Without these provisions, there would be a real risk that developers face financing bottlenecks as deployment expands, stifling the impact of incentives. Now, under the IRA, a broader set of players in the electric power industry can use tax credits and pour investment into achieving an increasingly cleaner electric grid. The manufacturing tax credits and other programs in the IRA will help expand domestic production capacity to support accelerated clean energy deployment across the US. New DOE and USDA programs can support rural electric coops and other owners of coal plants to retrofit or install new clean technologies to achieve CO2 and criteria pollutant reductions. All of these measures taken together drive clean generation to the highest levels the US has seen in the modern era. Clean generation as a share of total electric generation rises from roughly 40% in 2021 to 60-81% in 2030 due to the IRA, compared to 46-72% without it (Figure 5). The IRA puts the US in a strong position to meet the President’s goal of 100% clean generation in 2035. These shares are achieved by preventing 10-20 GW of nuclear from retiring through 2030 and increasing the annual average capacity additions of renewables to 35-77 GW per year through 2030—more than double per year in the low and central emissions cases than the record set in 2021.

    The largest absolute emissions abatement and lowest total power sector emissions occur in the central emissions scenario, which combines central clean technology costs and central fossil fuel prices. In this case, the IRA policy provisions drive large-scale deployment of clean generation, drive down coal generation, and limit the growth of natural gas generation. By contrast, in the low emissions case, natural gas prices are high enough in 2030 to allow relatively more coal generation to remain competitive, though generation from coal plants is still lower than without the IRA and relative to today. All of this clean energy drives deep reductions in emissions of both GHGs and conventional pollutants. In 2030, electric power CO2 emissions are 69-80% below 2005 levels, which represents a meaningful departure from the 54-66% below 2005 levels that occur under current policy. Electric power plant emissions of harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) that exacerbate asthma attacks and cause premature deaths also decline dramatically thanks to the IRA. Without the IRA, SO2 (Figure 6) and NOx (Figure 7) are on track to decline by 39-63% and 51-55% below 2021 levels in 2030 respectively. The shift to clean energy driven by the IRA cuts SO2 emissions down to 59-82% below 2021 levels and NOx to 61-66% below 2021 levels. These cuts will provide important relief to the communities nearby and downwind of major power plants.

    Industrial emissions turn the corner

    Without the IRA, industrial emissions decrease by 14% and 8% in our low and central emissions scenario and increase by 1% in our high scenario relative to 2005 levels. In Taking Stock 2022, we projected that industry would become the largest-emitting sector by the early 2030s, so progress in this sector is important for meeting the 2030 target and achieving long-term decarbonization. With the IRA, industrial emissions decrease by 3%, 11%, and 16% in 2030 relative to 2005 in the high, central, and low emissions cases, respectively (Figure 8).

    There are two main reasons for the IRA-driven decline. First, the enhancements to the section 45Q carbon capture tax credit drive meaningful additional deployment of carbon capture. Without the IRA, we project 74 million metric tons of carbon capture and direct air capture (DAC) capacity will be retrofitted on existing facilities or installed by 2030. With the IRA we project a 35-40% increase, to 100-103 million metric tons of carbon capture and DAC (Figure 9). This additional capacity helps drive down industrial sector CO2 emissions. Importantly, the IRA continues to incentivize further carbon capture and DAC deployment after 2030, as the 45Q provision includes a commence construction deadline of 2032. By 2035, we project that that provision can help to more than double installed carbon capture and DAC capacity from 2030 levels, to 266-313 million metric tons of installed capacity. The longer duration and larger size of the credit also help drive carbon capture retrofits in harder-to-abate corners of industry, including in refineries, cement plants, and iron and steel facilities. The bill also provides an important level of foundational support for DAC deployment, helping to scale a new and necessary clean energy technology.

    The other factor behind the decline in industrial emissions in the IRA is a decline in oil and gas production and transmission emissions, which we include as part of industrial sector emissions in our calculations. The clean technology provisions in the IRA lead to small reductions (less than 1%) in petroleum consumption and larger reductions of 3-10% in natural gas consumption across the economy. The much-discussed fossil fuel provisions of the IRA do not lead to meaningful increases in domestic production of oil and gas, which we discuss in greater detail below. All else equal, less production equates to lower production and transmission emissions. In addition, the IRA institutes a methane fee on emissions from production and transmission above a certain volumetric threshold, driving down oil and gas emissions further still.

    Taken together, the policies start to bend the industrial emissions curve in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to drive the levels of decarbonization that will be required from industry. Fortunately, the bill makes an important down payment in that regard in the form of domestic manufacturing conversion grants, additional funding for the DOE Loan Programs Office, an advanced industrial facilities deployment program, and a suite of other provisions to help the industrial sector demonstrate and deploy new technologies.

    Diversifying transportation sector energy consumption

    Transportation has been the highest-emitting sector in the US since surpassing power sector emissions in 2016. Due to long vehicle stock turnover cycles, it will take decades to fully decarbonize the transportation sector, even with aggressive clean technology deployment. The array of tax credits for clean light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles (LDV, MDV, HDV) in the IRA accelerate the adoption of clean vehicles across the sector. The new structure of the 30D electric vehicle (EV) tax credit limits its impacts in the near term, as manufacturers race to meet critical mineral and battery component sourcing requirements. This limits the amount of total LDV EVs on the road in 2030 relative to a policy without these requirements, reducing its emissions impact over this decade. Despite that, by 2030 the IRA increases the share that electric vehicles comprise of all LDV sales to 19-57%, up from 12-43% without it (Figure 10). In addition, these requirements and other investments made as part of the IRA can help stand up a meaningful EV supply chain domestically and in close partner countries.

    The IRA also provides tax credits for used clean vehicles, improving access to this important clean technology for buyers for whom a new vehicle is out of financial reach. On the MDV and HDV front, the IRA provides a tax credit for the purchase of clean trucks. It also includes a number of grant programs and other fiscal incentives to drive clean vehicle deployment and reduce conventional air pollutants. In total, these provisions drive total transportation emissions down to 18-26% below 2005 levels in 2030, compared with an 18-24% reduction without the IRA.

    More to do in carbon removal, agriculture, and buildings Though we project some emissions abatement in the carbon removal and buildings sectors relative to current policy due to the IRA, in general, these impacts are small compared to the scale of decarbonization needed in these sectors, and continued work on all fronts will be necessary to drive down these emissions. We find that a suite of provisions in the IRA can increase technological and natural carbon removal. For our accounting purposes, both direct air capture facilities and ethanol facilities retrofitted with carbon capture, which we discuss above, are accounted for as carbon removal. In addition, the agriculture title of the IRA includes agricultural conservation investments, non-federal reforestation projects, and state and private forestry conservation programs, which together increase the ability of natural and working lands to act as carbon sinks. In the buildings sector, the bill makes important investments in decarbonizing buildings via retrofit and high-efficiency electric home rebates. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in the IRA may also help reduce emissions from buildings, though we don’t know enough yet about how the program would be implemented to model its effects. The bill also modifies the current tax credit for the adoption of energy efficiency appliances, but the effect is largely to incentivize the installation of more efficient gas appliances, locking in long-lived fossil-consuming assets rather than driving needed progress in electrification. The new energy efficient home credit also helps drive some improvements in new home shell efficiency. But in total, these reductions are modest compared to the rest of the bill. More action, actually focused on decarbonization and not just energy efficiency, is necessary in the buildings sector.

    Cutting the green premium for emerging clean technologies The IRA doesn’t just incentivize the commercial-scale clean technologies like solar and wind available today. It also builds on the investments in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to cut the cost of deploying a host of emerging clean technologies such as carbon capture and DAC covered above as well as clean fuels, clean hydrogen, advanced nuclear, and other cutting-edge solutions. It does so through new deployment tax credits that reduce the “green premium,” which is the added cost of clean technologies relative to fossil incumbents. The more diverse the set of emerging clean technologies that get to commercial scale, the more opportunities there will be for large, low-cost emissions reductions in the long-term. In other words, the investments in emerging clean technologies in the IRA make achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century more feasible and more affordable. We find that these new tax credits can make clean fuels competitive with conventional fossil fuel options in this decade. For example, the new sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) credit in the IRA provides up to $1.75/ gallon of SAF produced with very low life-cycle GHG emissions. SAF is a critical technology for decarbonizing long-haul aviation where few other clean technologies are available. There are multiple ways to make SAFs, and they all have different associated costs. We considered low and high cost production pathways that can qualify for the maximum credit value and find that, at least in the low case, SAF could match projected fossil jet fuel prices in 2027, the last year the credit is available (Figure 11).

    We find an even more encouraging story with regard to clean hydrogen. Clean hydrogen is sometimes referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife of decarbonization” because it can be used in so many applications across the energy system. Clean hydrogen can be made in a variety of ways including by using natural gas steam methane reformation equipped with carbon capture (“blue” hydrogen) or by splitting water via electrolysis using zero-emitting electricity (“green” hydrogen). The new clean hydrogen production tax credit in the IRA supports both blue, green and other production pathways, providing higher credit values for lower lifecycle GHG emissions. The maximum credit is $3/kg for the cleanest processes. It is likely that the credit will shrink or eliminate the green premium for a variety of clean hydrogen options. Looking at green hydrogen produced with solar energy through high and low technology cost assumptions, we find that in 2030 the fuel will cost $3.39-$4.92 per kilogram to produce without the IRA (Figure 12). The IRA credit more than eliminates the green premium for clean hydrogen assuming low technology costs and shrinks it to just 40 cents per kilogram using the high technology cost assumptions. With this credit, clean hydrogen will be primed for takeoff through the 2020s.

    Cutting costs and bolstering security

    Beyond the large emissions impacts and other energy system benefits we’ve discussed, the IRA also has other effects across the economy, chief among them decreasing household energy costs and improving energy security. Costs go down for consumers The IRA lives up to its name by reducing the costs that consumers pay for electricity, other residential fuels, and transportation fuels by $27-$112 relative to without it in 2030 (Figure 13). The bill accomplishes this by driving some consumers to adopt electric vehicles, heat pumps, and other electrified and/or more efficient technologies that can help reduce their demand for fuels while meeting the same level of demand for energy services. But it doesn’t just help consumers who are able to go electric—by reducing overall demand for fossil fuels, the bill also drives down their costs for everyone by helping to reduce the price consumers pay for electricity, gasoline, diesel, and home heating fuels. In addition to the savings from the IRA described above, current policy and improving energy market conditions drive further decreases in household energy costs over the next decade. All together, we estimate household energy costs will decrease by between $717 and $1,146 in 2030, relative to 2021 levels.

    Less reliance on imported fossil fuels, improving energy security

    We incorporate the IRA’s new leasing requirements and royalty reforms into our estimates of the impacts of the bill. We do not make exogenous assumptions around the impacts of these provisions; instead, the model finds the most economical way to meet demand for energy. As we mention in the discussion on industrial emissions, the clean energy provisions in the IRA drive down demand for petroleum and even more so for natural gas. Domestic production and imports respond accordingly, even though more federal land is available for exploration. In 2030, crude production is effectively flat (Figure 14) when comparing the IRA with current policy, and gas production declines by 2-7% (Figure 15) with the IRA compared to current policy.

    As a sensitivity, we also tested the impacts of the IRA relative to a current policy scenario in which no new offshore exploration could occur until 2026. Compared to a future with this more restrictive leasing policy than is currently on the books, the IRA would increase domestic crude production by 0.1-0.2%, effectively flat, and decrease domestic gas production by 1-5%. In addition to impacting domestic production, fossil fuel demand also drives trade dynamics. The IRA reduces net imports of crude oil by 1-6% and net pipeline imports of natural gas by 9-11%. The liquified natural gas trade remains unchanged with and without the IRA, as the price differential between US production plus transportation costs versus global gas markets isn’t sufficient to drive further LNG export capacity expansion beyond what happens under current policy.

    So much achieved, so much more to do

    The IRA is a historic step forward in the US’s efforts to rapidly decarbonize in the next decade and beyond. It lays a strong foundation for rapid clean energy deployment and the scale-up of emerging clean technologies, and it cuts conventional pollutants, household energy costs, and the US’s reliance on imported energy. The provisions in the IRA drive meaningful reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time, the IRA alone will not get the US on track to meeting its 2030 climate target of cutting emissions in half. However, it does lower the costs associated with additional action by the executive branch and subnational actors, which can help close the gap to the 2030 target. All eyes will now be on EPA, DOE and other federal agencies as well as states to push the next wave of policies that build on the IRA and get US emissions down to 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030. The biggest ticket policies to keep an eye on in the near term are the finalization of EPA’s proposed oil and gas methane regulations, how EPA proposes to regulate CO2 emissions from new and existing power plants, and if EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ramp up ambition in the next round of light-duty vehicle standards. Congress may also be of further help. A range of policies that were previously part of the Build Back Better Act and other past climate legislation didn’t make the cut for the IRA, including some areas where there’s been recent bipartisan agreement like electric power transmission, CO2 pipelines, and building energy efficiency. The permitting reform bill currently under development is widely expected to contain provisions to accelerate the construction of some fossil fuel infrastructure, which has the potential to push emissions in the wrong direction. But it could also be a vehicle to address some of these and other issues relating to roadblocks to clean deployment of clean energy and associated infrastructure. The 2023 Farm Bill could be an important vehicle for more investments in rural decarbonization and carbon removal on natural and working lands. We look forward to assessing options and impacts across all of these fronts in this new era where the US finally has momentum on the road to long-term decarbonization…

    Saturday, August 27, 2022

    Colbert On Superhero President Joe Biden

    History will record one of the top lists of legislative success by any president. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert via YouTube

    The Future Of Big Energy Storage

    More New Energy means a bigger need for energy storage and the innovators are working on it. From Bloomberg Quicktake via YouTube

    New Partnerships For Building New Energy

    A call for international collaboration to get everybody to net zero emissions together. From State of Green via YouTube

    Friday, August 26, 2022

    Earth Temp Rise Still Breaking Records

    Earth had its 6th-hottest July and year to date on record; Antarctic saw another month of record-low sea ice coverage

    August 12, 2022 (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

    “…The July 2022 land and ocean-surface temperature for the globe was 1.57 degrees F (0.87 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C). This made it the sixth-hottest July in the 143-year global climate record…

    [It was] the 46th-consecutive July and the 451st-consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average. The five warmest Julys on record have all occurred since 2016…North America saw its second-hottest July on record, Asia had its third hottest, South America had its fourth hottest and Europe had its sixth hottest…

    …[T]here is a greater than 99% chance 2022 will rank among the 10-warmest years on record but an 11% chance the year will rank among the top five…Globally, July 2022 brought the third-lowest July sea ice coverage (extent) on record…[Antarctic sea ice hit another record low and] Antarctica had a record-low July sea ice coverage for the second month in a row…” click here for more

    Global New Energy Boom Slowed By Energy Crisis

    Record growth in renewables, but world missed historic chance for a clean energy recovery, says latest REN21 report

    June 15, 2022 (REN21)

    “…The second half of 2021 saw the beginning of the biggest energy crisis in modern history, exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022…[T]he overall share of renewables in the world’s final energy consumption has stagnated – rising only minimally from 8.7% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2019…In the electricity sector, record additions in renewable power capacity (314.5 gigawatts, up 17% from 2020) and generation (7,793 terawatt-hours) were unable to meet the overall increase in electricity consumption of 6%. In heating and cooling, the renewable share in final energy consumption increased from 8.9% in 2009 to 11.2% in 2019.

    In the transport sector, where the renewable share went from 2.4% in 2009 to 3.7% in 2019, the lack of progress is particularly worrying, as the sector accounts for nearly a third of global energy consumption…Despite important green recovery measures in many countries, the strong economic rebound in 2021 – with global real gross domestic product (GDP) growing 5.9% – contributed to a 4% rise in final energy consumption, offsetting the growth of renewables…Most of the increase in global energy use in 2021 was met by fossil fuels, resulting in the largest surge in carbon dioxide emissions in history, up more than 2 billion tonnes worldwide…

    The Russian’s Federation’s invasion of Ukraine deeply aggravated the unfolding energy crisis, causing an unprecedented commodity shockwave…Between 2018 and 2020, governments spent a whopping USD 18 trillion – 7% of global GDP in 2020 – on fossil fuel subsidies, in some cases while reducing support to renewables (as in India). This trend reveals a worrying gap between ambition and action…With the right investments in technology, renewables are the only energy sources offering every country in the world a chance for greater energy autonomy and security…” click here for more

    Wednesday, August 24, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Managing A Smart System Booming With Solar, Batteries, and EVs

    Rethinking California Utilities’ Distribution Systems

    Herman K. Trabish, May 31, 2022 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: The proceeding is ongoing but its outcome is years away. Unfortunately, the climate crisis is not.

    As California moves to accommodate high flows of bi-directional distributed energy resources (DER), distribution system reform is needed, according to a white paper introducing a new series of regulatory workshops on the distribution system.

    Identifying reform is essential to meeting the commission’s 2021 High DER Future Proceeding order, California Public Utility Commission Energy Division Staff Rob Peterson said during the first in a series of stakeholder engagement workshops on May 3. The objective of the order (R.21-06-017) and workshops is to “guide public and private sector investment for a high DER future” while “integrating equity and access to DER considerations,” Peterson added.

    DER are renewable generation resources that connect to lower voltage power lines, and include electric vehicles, energy storage, energy efficiency, and demand response technologies, according to the California Public Utilities Code.

    Though currently threatened by reconsideration of rooftop solar supports, California DER growth will accelerate, workshop participants agreed. Customer demand, the 2045 zero-emissions goal, technology evolution, and falling prices will be drivers, the white paper added.

    California’s 2021 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) forecasts statewide installed distributed solar capacity to increase from 2022’s 14,048 MW to 24,721 megawatts in 2030, according to California Energy Commission spokesperson Michael Ward. Distributed energy storage capacity is projected to increase from 2022’s 740 MW to 2,587 MW in 2030, he added.

    CEC data forecasts the state’s estimated 839,000 zero-emission vehicles in 2021 will reach 5.7 million light-duty passenger and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030, Ward said. And an estimated 1.5 million households had smart thermostats, according to the commission’s 2019 Residential Appliance Saturation Study. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order, which requires new car and passenger truck sales be 100% zero emissions by 2035, is expected to drive exponential transportation electrification growth. Assembly Bill 327, programs supporting battery storage and heat pumps, other policy initiatives, and utility and private sector DER incentive programs will also accelerate growth, the white paper added… click here for more

    IRA To Drive Green H2 Price To Ready For Primetime

    Why the US climate bill may be the single most important moment in the history of green hydrogen; Inflation Reduction Act will make US renewable H2 the cheapest form of hydrogen in the world — and other countries will not want to be left behind

    Leigh Collins, 9 August 2022 (ReCharge News)

    “The $433bn Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 creates a tax credit that would pay clean hydrogen producers up to $3 per kilogram (adjusted for inflation)…The size of the tax credits available to US clean hydrogen producers depends on the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of each project — and more importantly, on how much staff are paid…So the basic tax credit rate for “qualified clean hydrogen” is set at $0.60/kg, with a sliding scale depending on lifecycle emissions [including upstream methane emissions] — measured in carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) — of the H2 produced…

    …Hydrogen manufactured [before 2033] with less than 0.45kg of lifecycle CO2e emissions per kg of H2 [verified by an unrelated third party] would receive 100% of the credit…[But the wage requirement can multiply] the size of the tax credit by a factor of five…[If laborers and mechanics employed by contractors and subcontractors are paid] at prevailing rates for construction, alteration, or repair of a similar character…

    …[B]lue hydrogen projects would be ineligible for H2 tax credits if they already receive federal tax credits for carbon capture and storage — but green hydrogen projects would also be allowed to receive renewable energy tax credits valued at $30/MWh in addition to the hydrogen ones…” click here for more

    Monday, August 22, 2022

    Monday Study – Valuing Transmission On Price Metrics

    Empirical Estimates of Transmission Value using Locational Marginal Prices

    Dev Millstein, Ryan Wiser, Will Gorman, Seongeun Jeong, James Kim, Amos Ancell, August 2022 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Summary

    Existing transmission planning approaches run the risk of understating the economic value of new transmission infrastructure. In part, this is because roughly half of the marginal value of transmission in providing congestion relief occurs during extreme grid conditions and high-value periods that account for only five percent of hours but are challenging to model and so are often not fully considered in transmission planning.

    Introduction

    This study focuses on one potential benefit of transmission infrastructure—congestion relief. It explores historical grid conditions from 2012 through the first half of 2022, and evaluates the marginal value of transmission in facilitating trade within and across regional boundaries by calculating differences in observed nodal wholesale power prices. Key findings follow; a companion report provides full details.

    Key Findings

    Wholesale power prices exhibit stark geographic differences that, in many cases, are stable over time.

    Figure 1 summarizes within-region congestion for each Independent System Operator (ISO) region in 2021, comparing annual average nodal wholesale prices with regional median prices; similar spatial patterns are apparent when looking at other years. These differences demonstrate the potential value of transmission in enabling economic trade within regions, alleviating transmission congestion.

    Many regional and interregional transmission links have significant potential economic value from reducing congestion and expanding opportunities for trade.

    Figure 2 shows the average hourly price differences across various pricing hubs and zones in the United States in 2021 (calculated based on locational marginal real-time prices). These data highlight the potential marginal economic value of transmission in relieving congestion and facilitating economic trade. Many links have hourly average pricing differences in 2021 that exceeded $15/MWh—equivalent to $130 million per year for a 1000 MW link. Particularly high value is seen in links originating from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Texas (ERCOT), evidence of the impact of 2021 Winter Storm Uri. But high congestion is also observed in many other years and regions, as explored more deeply in the new study. In general, interregional links are found to have greater value than within-region links—but many high-value regional links also exist.

    The value of transmission is correlated with overall energy prices and varies by region and year.

    The above figures focus on 2021, but the study evaluates data spanning 2012 to 2022. It shows that the value of transmission tends to be higher when wholesale power prices are higher – as they are in 2022. As well, over the last decade, congestion has generally been getting worse in SPP and ERCOT (Figure 3). For other ISOs, the value of transmission in relieving congestion and facilitating trade has been variable over time, often times spiking when wholesale prices are high or in the event of extreme conditions like the 2014 polar vortex event that impacted northern United States, including PJM.

    Extreme conditions and high-value periods play an outsized role in the value of transmission, with 50% of transmission’s congestion value coming from only 5% of hours.

    The study finds that extreme conditions and high-value periods dominate transmission congestion value. On average across all links shown in Figure 2, 50% of transmission congestion value derives from just 5% of hours. As demonstrated in Figure 4, for some links the proportion is above 80%; it is rarely below 40%. Only a portion of these hours come from designated extreme events identified by FERC and others, meaning that periods that drive transmission value go well beyond historical weather events to also include the many other ‘normal’ drivers for pricing gradations such as uncertain generation or other infrastructure outages, fuel price volatility, forecast errors, and electric demand volatility.

    Transmission planners run the risk of understating the benefits of regional and interregional transmission if extreme conditions and high-value periods are not adequately considered.

    As documented in the broader literature, most new transmission in recent years has focused on reliability enhancements and generator interconnection rather than large-scale new regional or interregional transmission to deliver economic benefits. As well, models that evaluate the economic benefits of transmission often employ simplifications—normal weather, little or no volatility in natural gas prices, perfect foresight, and limited generator or other infrastructure outages. These simplifications result in underestimates of the amount of congestion seen under real-world market conditions. The Berkeley Lab study suggests that such tools may understate by half the marginal value of transmission in providing congestion relief, by underestimating the role of transmission as insurance against the cost of extreme grid conditions and high-value periods that are natural and oftentimes regularly occurring features of actual market operations.

    Key Limitations

    The new study should not be considered definitive in assessing the value of new transmission. First, the analysis is backwards looking, whereas transmission planners need to assess future system needs and conditions. Second, the analysis focuses on just one of the many benefits of new transmission, ignoring all other benefits such as grid resilience improvements or the ability to access new, lower-cost generation resources. Third, the study assesses the marginal value of congestion relief and enhanced trade without analyzing saturation effects that might reduce transmission value or considering other institutional barriers that can create pricing differences across market seams. Finally, the analysis ignores the cost of new transmission—costs that, naturally, must be considered in investment decisions.

    Conclusions

    The study finds that regional and interregional transmission have significant economic value. Importantly, many existing transmission planning approaches are likely understating the economic value of new transmission infrastructure. In part, this is because roughly half of the marginal value of transmission in providing congestion relief occurs during extreme grid conditions and high-value periods that are not always adequately modeled or considered by transmission planners. These periods are natural features of actual market operations. As such, the study highlights the need for planners to more-comprehensively assess the value of transmission under both normal and extreme conditions

    Saturday, August 20, 2022

    Trevor Noah On The Climate Crisis

    “This is the thing to remember about climate change…Things could get even worse than you think…” From Comedy Central UK via YouTube

    Fact Checking The Mega-Flood

    Short version: Yep, it’s solid research. From MyRadar Weather News via YouTube

    China Slowed By Heat Wave And Drought

    Energy demand is up and hydropower supplies are down. From CNBC Television via YouTube

    Friday, August 19, 2022

    The Climate Crisis Becomes A ‘LUUUUVE’ Crisis

    Will the climate crisis affect our sex lives? Global warming is having an impact on every aspect of our lives – including the way we have sex

    Arielle Domb, 17August 2022 [from Dazed’s Future of Sex series]

    “… [W]hen temperatures soar, every aspect of our lives is disrupted: from our mental cognition to our mobility, and even, it seems, to our ability to have sex…According to Harvard Medical School, having sex is regarded as a ‘mild to moderate’ physical activity, about the same intensity level as raking leaves or playing ping pong…Temperature and birth rate data clearly point towards the interconnection between sex and seasonality. In 2015, three economists found that on days when the temperature soared above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the US, there were 0.4 per cent fewer births nine months later…

    …[T]he researchers found evidence that hot weather actually harms fertility too…[and tracked] conception rates in the UK, where more babies are conceived around Christmas than at any other time of the year…It’s not just our romantic connotations of snowy nights and fire-places…[Social science] suggests that we seek the warmth of others in order to regulate our own body temperatures just like penguins do…[Some science suggests] hot weather may make us hornier…[Sunlight releases] a feel-good chemical called serotonin…[and vitamin D which is] linked to higher sex drives and healthy sexual function…

    …[But] the health risks of blazing heat shouldn’t be understated: during the 2003 heatwave in France, there were close to 15,000 excess deaths…As extreme heatwaves are predicted to become the norm in the UK, our sex lives are set to undergo a radical transformation. It’s time for our governments and institutions to make long-term plans to address the climate crisis head-on…” click here for more

    A 100% New Energy World Is Affordable

    Study finds 100% renewables would pay off within 6 years; New research from Stanford University researcher Mark Jacobson outlines how 145 countries could meet 100% of their business-as-usual energy needs with wind, water, solar and energy storage.

    Mark Hutchins, August 9, 2022 (PV Magazine)

    “…[Despite worries over the cost that radically changing energy systems and the variability of wind and solar, new energy system models from Stanford University show] that for 145 countries, the energy transition to 100% wind, water, solar and storage would pay for itself within six years, and ultimately cost less than continuing with the current energy systems…WWS reduces end use energy by 56.4%, private annual energy costs by 62.7% (from $17.8 to $6.6 trillion per year), and Social (private plus health plus climate) annual energy costs by 92.0% (from $83.2 to $6.6 trillion per year) at a present-value cost of $61.5 trillion…

    …[There is ] more recent energy consumption data from all regions, and calculations to deal with uncertainty in the future price of battery energy storage, the role batteries will play, and the development of newer technologies such as vehicle to grid…[An estimated] 95% of the technologies needed to implement the plans proposed are already commercialized…

    …[W]hile jobs would be lost in the mining and fossil fuels segments, 28 million more jobs would be created than lost overall. Only Russia, Canada and parts of Africa are expected to see net job losses as a result, as these regions economies depend heavily on fossil fuels…The study provides clear evidence that a full transition to 100% renewable energy is both technically and economically possible…[but] uncertainties exist in whether sufficient political will can be obtained to affect a transition at the rapid pace needed…” click here for more

    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: New Tools To Bring Equity To Electricity Service

    Utility regulators eye new tools to ensure equity efforts don't impinge on other policy goals; It is up to regulators to solve the power sector’s cost of equity conundrum, equity advocates said.

    Herman K. Trabish, February 21, 2022 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Bringing the interests of all electricity users into decisions made in the regulatory process is becoming an essential element of the energy transition.

    Recent U.S. Department of Energy research verifies serious institution-based inequities in the power system’s delivery of electricity, but it can be rectified, utilities, regulators and equity advocates said. Lower-income households’ utility service disruptions are five times more frequent than higher-income households, and service losses by households of color are “far more likely” than for whites, according to a November 2021 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) paper. For both of those types of households, “disconnection notices signal an emergency,” the LBNL paper said.

    If inequities “baked into the existing system” are not reversed, they “are likely to become more pronounced” as the energy transition accelerates because equity is also equitable access to clean energy, energy efficiency and rate relief programs, consumer, utility, energy and environmental justice representatives wrote in the LBNL paper.

    Through fairly allocated costs and benefits, regulators “can absolutely address inequitable outcomes,” Commissioner Abigail Anthony of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission told Utility Dive. But it is important to differentiate inequities in utility regulation “from inequities in other parts of the economy or society that are squeezed into utility bills and services.”

    Advancing equity requires new programs and rate designs that merge traditional cost of service regulation with public interest principles, power system stakeholders agreed. But those programs and rates must also protect against rising electricity costs that regulators, utilities and ratepayers in California and other states worry may slow the electrification needed for decarbonization and impede other ratepayer-funded policy goals, many said. Innovative Arrears Management Programs (AMPs) and Performance-Based Regulation (PBR) are potential win-win alternative paths to equity and other policy goals for utilities and ratepayers, the stakeholders said.

    “Energy equity is the fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of energy production and consumption,” according to LBNL Senior Program Manager Lisa Schwartz, the paper’s technical editor. It “can be a goal, tool or metric,” because equitable affordability is a goal, customer participation in regulatory debates is a tool, and metrics validate “policies, regulations and programs.”

    Recent policy initiatives by at least 13 states and the Biden administration are taking regulation beyond its traditional objectives of reliable, safe and affordable electric service to a new objective of serving the public interest, Schwartz added. That change in regulatory priorities can change access to electricity service, access to energy efficiency and clean energy programs and rate-setting… click here for more