A Climate Change Denier’s Lies Exposed
This is called first person, eyewitness testimony. From The Weather Channel via greenmanbucket and YouTube)
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, December 10-11:
This is called first person, eyewitness testimony. From The Weather Channel via greenmanbucket and YouTube)
Here’s the good news: 480,000 EVs from 17 automakers are now on U.S. roads, some getting 250 miles per charge. Over 35,000 public charging stations are now available and a new DOE-backed EV highway is in development. From the U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube
“This Is Just The Beginning”
“The ice did not get the memo to stop melting…” The newest video from Peter Sinclair details the sea-level rise that is happening NOW. From Yale Climate Connections via YouTube
Aliens Are Mining Energy From The Surface Of Tabby’s Star, Study Claims
Sam D, December 5, 2016 (Science World Report)
“The Tabby's Star may be dimming because an alien civilization is mining energy from its surface…Known officially as KIC 8462852, the star has captured the imagination of both scientists and conspiracy theorists since 2015 due to its mysterious dimming, which has left experts baffled…One theory suggested that the mysterious phenomenon was evidence of a hypothetical structure that was being used by an advanced alien civilization to harness the star's energy. Another suggestion was that the dimming was caused by a dust ring around the star or a hail of comets traveling in between the star and the planet Earth…[ A physically inspired model of Dip d792 and d1519 of the Kepler light curve seen at KIC8462852, which has not been peer reviewed,] suggests that the dimming can be attributed to aliens mining energy from the Tabby's Star, because the latter gives off jets that can be used as a source of energy. Published by Professor Eduard Heindl from Germany's Furtwangen University, the recent research provides a mathematical model to suggest alien involvement…According to Professor Heindl, the dimming exhibited by the star cannot be attributed to a natural phenomenon…” click here for more
Market Data: Home Energy Management; Home Energy Reports, Digital Tools, Standalone HEM, and Networked HEM
4Q 2016 (Navigant Research)
“Home energy management (HEM) is a broad market segment covering technologies and services that consumers use to better manage and control their home energy consumption…[Today’s HEM stakeholders have shifted to a focus] on energy management as a component of the connected smart home…driven by relatively flat electricity prices, lack of utility involvement, and the ability to offer HEM without advanced metering infrastructure deployments. Hardware and software vendors and non-energy service providers have…[are using their hold on the consumer market to seize market momentum] with their existing in-home offerings…According to Navigant Research, global revenue attributed to HEM devices is expected to grow from almost $2.3 billion in 2016 to $7.8 billion in 2025…” click here for more
100% renewable grid not just feasible, but “reliable, robust and stable”
Sophie Vorrath, 9 December 2016 (REnew Economy)
“…[A]nother study has affirmed that Australia could – and should – shift to a 100 per cent renewable energy grid…[The Alternative Technology Association’s 100% Renewable Grid – Feasible? reviewed evidence from recent developments in Australia and overseas, as well as previous studies…[and found] a 100% renewable grid will be reliable and stable, as long as it uses an appropriate mix of renewable generation sources, energy storage and upgraded infrastructure…During periods of calm, cloudy weather electricity could be sourced from sunny or windy parts of the country and supplemented with energy stores such as hydroelectric dams, molten salt heat storage, batteries, renewable gas and stockpiles of pelletised woody waste…[The report also found] the cost of such a smart and diverse grid would be manageable…” click here for more
Electric Car Charging Network Planned Across Europe; BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen among manufacturers joining forces to facilitate electric vehicle use
Liz Miller, December 5, 2016 (Santa Monica Observer)
“…BMW, Ford Motor Company, Daimler AG, and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche are among the manufacturers teaming up to provide more efficient charging stations throughout Europe…The network would begin with 400 stations throughout Europe, with the hope of having thousands in place by 2020 [and the companies hope it will be a milestone in mass-market battery electric vehicle adoption]…At this point, charging along highways and thoroughfares can be difficult due to a lack of availability…The network will use Combined Charging System technology to expand the infrastructure of current AC and also DC charging stations. The program plans on bringing DC charging up to 350 kilowatt, making it significantly faster than current systems…The project is set to begin in early 2017.” click here for more
Trump to pick oil ally Pruitt to head EPA
Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia, December 8, 2016 (Politico)
“President-elect Donald Trump [has selected] Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, putting one of the agency's most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm…Pruitt has been at the forefront of lawsuits challenging EPA regulations on carbon emissions and water pollution, and he is expected to lead the effort to erase much of President Barack Obama's environmental agenda…Pruitt has also faced accusations that he's unusually close to energy producers…But his agenda would mesh well with Trump, who unloaded on Obama's EPA during the campaign…
The news of the expected nomination drew sharp criticism from green groups and environmental advocates in Congress…Pruitt has professed skepticism about climate change science, and his selection marks a major turning point for EPA, which even under Republican administrations stretching back to the 1980s has been led by administrators who accepted the scientific evidence that human activity was warming the planet…Pruitt has also been a leading critic and challenger of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, also known the Clean Water Rule, which has drawn fierce attack from energy, agricultural and development interests. Trump has cited that regulation, which increases the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, as one of his top targets when he takes office…”
The news of the expected nomination drew sharp criticism from green groups and environmental advocates in Congress…Pruitt has professed skepticism about climate change science, and his selection marks a major turning point for EPA, which even under Republican administrations stretching back to the 1980s has been led by administrators who accepted the scientific evidence that human activity was warming the planet…Pruitt has also been a leading critic and challenger of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, also known the Clean Water Rule, which has drawn fierce attack from energy, agricultural and development interests. Trump has cited that regulation, which increases the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, as one of his top targets when he takes office…”click here for more
Wave Power: The Alternative Energy Dark Horse
Wayne Duggan, December 6, 2016 (U.S. News & World Report via Yahoo)
“…[W]hile solar and wind energy seem to get the majority of the media headlines, an entire segment of the alternative energy sector is looking away from the sun and skies and focusing its attention on the power of the world's oceans…The world's first commercial wave power device wasn't completed until 2000. The Islay Limpet in Scotland is a 250 kW oscillating water column generator powered entirely on ocean waves. As waves from the ocean enter an on-shore chamber, the waves compress the air in the chamber. The compressed air is then forced through a ‘blowhole’ and turns a power-generating turbine…Ocean Power Technologies' latest PowerBuoy device, the PB3…consists of a float that sits on the surface of the ocean, a metal plate that rests about 100 feet below the surface, and a large, piston-containing hydraulic cylinder connecting the two. The motion of the waves pushes and pulls on the piston to generate power…It took wind energy technology decades to become competitive with fossil fuel generation…[and] wave energy is still in its infancy…The near-term focus for companies developing wave power technology will be improving efficiency…[W]ave energy costs need to be reduced by [an estimated] 50 percent from current levels before it becomes competitive…” click here for more
These wood floors could generate energy from your steps
Dana Varinsky, December 7, 2016 (Business Insider)
“…Material science researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have figured out how to build wood flooring material that converts downward pressure into usable electricity…The flooring is made of pressed wood pulp, which is separated into a series of small layers that have different electrical charges…When people walk on them, the weight causes the layers get pushed together…[B]ecause the layers are chemically treated to have different charges, electrons from one [layer] naturally flow to the other once they come into contact, building up a charge. Then once the layers separate, the electrons seek to right that imbalance and flow back…The movement of electrons amongst different atoms is by definition an electrical current. To harness that electricity, the wood flooring forces the electrons to pass through an external circuit…This type of energy is called triboelectricity…It’s the same thing that happens when your clothing produces static electricity…[T]he material can currently produce just a few milliwatts of power per step, so would be most effective if used in highly trafficked areas, like malls, stadiums or subway stations…[I]f 80,000 people in a stadium each take just one step, that would generate enough energy for more than 100 super-bright stadium-sized light bulbs. Plus, future versions of the flooring could increase the number of layers to yield a higher energy output…” click here for more
John Deere Unveils Latest All-Electric Tractor Prototype For Zero-Emission Agriculture
Fred Lambert, December 5, 2016 (Electrek)
"…[A]ll forms of ground transport will start to transition to electric propulsion relatively soon…[An example is] John Deere’s latest all-electric tractor concept…[T]his concept called SESAM (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery) is the [company’s] first fully powered by a battery pack…Where you would normally find a large diesel engine under the hood, there are stacks of battery packs adding up to 130 kWh of capacity…That’s more energy than in Tesla’s highest capacity battery pack (100 kWh).
SESAM needs it to tow large tools and to perform other tasks, which it can do while in ‘off mode’ without having a large diesel engine running…As for power, the vehicle is equipped with two 150 kW electric motors for a total power output of up to 300kW (402hp)…John Deere expects that the electric motors will require much less maintenance than a diesel engine. They will also provide redundancy and last longer…We could soon see more electric machines…”
SESAM needs it to tow large tools and to perform other tasks, which it can do while in ‘off mode’ without having a large diesel engine running…As for power, the vehicle is equipped with two 150 kW electric motors for a total power output of up to 300kW (402hp)…John Deere expects that the electric motors will require much less maintenance than a diesel engine. They will also provide redundancy and last longer…We could soon see more electric machines…”click here for more
How utilities can turn DERs from threat into opportunity; A new white paper offers utilities a five-step blueprint to managing distributed resources
Herman K. Trabish, March 16, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the divide between forward-thinking utilities that have begun planning for DER and those fighting them has widened.
As the proliferation of distributed energy resources gains momentum across the U.S., utility leaders will need to take a proactive approach to deal with their growth—or get left behind in the aftermath. One hurdle facing utility sector is the lack of consensus on how to seize the opportunity to harness and operate distributed energy resources. Now, a recently released white paper from the Smart Electric Power Association (SEPA) and consultant Black & Veatch has outlined five steps to help utility executives and professionals chart a course to prepare for the inevitable integration of DERs.
Forward-thinking utilities are beginning to understand that DER solutions for their customers can be solutions for their grids and that those who stick to the old way of doing things are doomed to suffer in the end.The first step in the distribution system planning process described in the white paper is a comprehensive system assessment from the customer’s point of view. The second step is to estimate the derived net load and DER profile’s impact on the transmission and distribution systems. The third step is applying the analysis to the utility’s bulk power generation and transmission system. The fourth step is a comprehensive assessment of the forecast distribution system plans on the utility’s financials, rates, and regulatory responsibilities. Finally, the white paper adds, the utility needs to develop a strategy and operationalize that strategy… click here for more
The maps that show where the action is on solar policy; Spoiler: It's everywhere
Herman K. Trabish, March 22, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the growth of solar policy fights has accelerated.
One stat is all it takes: 46 of the 50 states had solar policy debates going on in 2015. That makes solar literally the talk of the nation. Regulators, utilities, solar providers and other stakeholders have been wrestling to find the proper valuation, aggregation and ownership models for the fast-growing renewable resource. There is a trend away from Net Energy Metering and another toward proposals for high fixed charge increases.
The 50 States of Solar; 2015 Policy Review breaks down the year's developments into five key categories: Net Metering: 27 states considered changes to how solar owners are compensated for energy their systems send back to the grid…Fixed Charges: 61 utilities in 30 states proposed monthly fixed charge increases, and 21 utilities in 13 states propose new or increased existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers…Value of Solar: 24 states undertook studies to better define the value of solar and other distributed energy resources (DERs), expected to influence the future of NEM and the design of successor tariffs…Community solar: 7 states advanced policies on community solar, including the resolution of Xcel Energy's concerns over a Minnesota program with a current queue of 1,500 applications representing over 1,400 MW of new capacity…and Solar Ownership: 5 states considered utility ownership of rooftop solar and 6 faced debates on third-party ownership (TPO), including legislation making Georgia the first southeastern state to allow the practice. From net metering to 'net billing'... click here for more
How Maine's power players reacted to its pathbreaking new solar proposal
Herman K. Trabish, March 24, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Since this story ran, the solar proposal was passed by Maine’s legislature with huge majorities but was vetoed by Maine’s go-his-own-way Governor and fell just 2 votes short of a veto override effort by lawmakers. Utility and stakeholder members of the coalition backing the proposal uniformly regard this as a crucial missed effort.
L.D. 1649 would replace the state's current retail rate net energy metering (NEM) policy with a system of market-based incentives for residential solar generators. More than 100 stakeholders turned out for the initial public hearings to weigh in on the proposed policy. The vast majority supported the bill, including ReVision Energy, Maine’s biggest solar installer, multiple smaller installers, and the Maine Renewable Energy Association. Also supporting were Sierra Club Maine, Maine Audubon, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the Conservation Law Foundation. Both Maine’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs), Central Maine Power (CMP) and Emera Maine, have also endorsed the bill. The Maine Council of Churches and the American Lung Association jumped on the bandwagon as well.
Not all renewable energy interests backed the new proposal, however. Two key detractors spoke up without formally opposing the bill, the state's head regulator released new cost estimates on the plan, and a key member of the coalition that wrote the bill backed away from it, raising questions about the fate of the newly-proposed policy. A spokesperson for national solar installer Sunrun, which is not in Maine’s solar market but has a big stake in the national NEM debate, said a key fix to the bill would be to keep Maine’s existing NEM policy in place alongside the new plan so as not to risk the value proposition of solar. The bill's backers said this would defeat the purpose of the legislation. Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) Chair Mark Vannoy also surprised bill backers by offering a critique that contained data the commission had not previously disclosed. But Timothy R. Schneider, head of the Office of the Public Advocate, said the plan would likely generate long-term net direct benefits to ratepayers of more than $55 million… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
Show Me the Numbers A Framework for Balanced Distributed Solar Policies
Tim Woolf Melissa, Whited, Patrick Knight, Tommy Vitolo, Kenji Takahashi, November 10, 2016 (Synapse Energy Economics for Consumers Union)
Jurisdictions across the country are grappling with the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing adoption of distributed solar resources. While distributed solar can provide many benefits— such as increased customer choice, decreased emissions, and decreased utility system costs—in some circumstances it may result in increased bills for non‐solar customers. In setting distributed solar policies, utility regulators and state policymakers should seek to strike a balance between ensuring that cost‐effective clean energy resources continue to be developed, and avoiding unreasonable rate and bill impacts for non‐solar customers.
To address this challenge, many jurisdictions are considering modifying distributed solar policies or implementing fundamental changes to rate design, such as increased fixed charges, residential demand charges, minimum bills, and time‐varying rates. While it is prudent to periodically review and modify rate designs and other policies to ensure that they continue to serve the public interest, decision‐makers frequently lack the full suite of information needed to evaluate distributed solar policies in a comprehensive manner. As this report demonstrates, it is critical to have accurate inputs, especially for “avoided costs” in order to identify whether a policy will increase or decrease rates for non‐solar customers.
This report provides a framework for helping decision‐makers analyze distributed solar policy options comprehensively and concretely. This framework is grounded in addressing the three key questions that regulators should ask regarding any potential distributed solar policy:
1. How will the policy affect the development of distributed solar?
2. How cost‐effective are distributed solar resources?
3. To what extent does the policy mitigate or exacerbate any cost‐shifting to non‐solar customers?
Answering these questions will enable decision‐makers to determine which policy options best balance the protection of customers with the promotion of cost‐effective distributed solar resources. This report describes the analyses that can be used to answer these questions.
Analysis 1: Development of Distributed Solar
Customer payback periods provide a useful metric to indicate the extent to which different solar policies will affect the growth, or lack of growth, of distributed solar resources. Policies that lead to very short customer payback periods will likely produce rapid growth in these resources, while policies that lead to very long customer payback periods will likely result in little growth. Market penetration curves can be used to estimate eventual customer adoption levels from customer payback periods. Changing a customer’s payback period will impact how economically attractive distributed solar is, and thereby affect how many customers ultimately adopt the technology.
Analysis 2: Cost‐Effectiveness of Distributed Solar
Distributed solar can offer the electric utility system and society a host of benefits, ranging from avoided energy and capacity costs to reduced impacts on the environment and greater customer choice. At the same time, distributed solar may impose administration and integration costs on the utility system. Many recent studies have assessed whether the benefits of distributed solar outweigh the costs. These studies are most informative when they use clearly defined, consistent methodologies for assessing costs and benefits.
The most relevant cost‐effectiveness tests for evaluating distributed solar are the Utility Cost Test, the Total Resource Cost Test, and the Societal Cost Test, which are based on the cost‐effectiveness analyses long applied to energy efficiency resources.
• The Utility Cost Test indicates the extent to which distributed solar will reduce total electricity costs to all customers by affecting utility revenue requirements.
• The Societal Cost Test takes a broader look and indicates the extent to which distributed solar will help meet a state’s energy policy goals such as environmental protection and job creation, as well as reducing customer electricity costs.
• The Total Resource Cost Test, in theory, indicates the extent to which distributed solar will reduce utility system costs net of the host customer’s costs. This test should be used with caution, as it has some structural constraints that limit its usefulness.
Analysis 3: Cost‐Shifting from Distributed Solar
Cost‐shifting from distributed solar customers to non‐solar customers occurs in the form of rate impacts. Distributed solar can cause rates to increase or decrease due to changes in electricity sales levels, costs, or both. A comprehensive rate impact analysis is the best way to analyze the potential for cost‐shifting from distributed solar.
When evaluating cost‐shifting, it is important to analyze both long‐ term and short‐term rate impacts to understand the full picture. Often, the benefits of distributed solar are not realized for several years, while a decrease in electricity sales occurs immediately, resulting in short‐term rate increases followed by long‐term rate decreases. Thus a short‐term rate impact analysis will not fully capture the impacts of distributed solar.
In their most simplified form, electricity rates are set by dividing the utility class’s revenue requirement by its electricity sales. Thus rate impacts are primarily caused by two factors:
1. Changes in costs: Holding all else constant, if a utility’s revenue requirement decreases, then rates will decrease. Conversely, if a utility’s revenue requirement increases, rates will increase. Distributed solar can avoid many utility costs, which can reduce utility revenue requirements. Distributed solar can also impose costs on the utility system (such as interconnection costs and distribution system upgrades).
2. Changes in electricity sales: If a utility must recover its revenues over fewer sales, rates will increase. This is commonly referred to as recovering “lost revenues,” and is an artifact of the decrease in sales, not any change in costs. Lost revenues should be accounted for in the rate impact analysis, but not in the cost‐effectiveness analysis.
Whether distributed solar increases or decreases rates will depend on the magnitude and direction of each of these factors.1 In very general terms, if the credits provided to solar customers exceed the average long‐term avoided costs, then average long‐term rates will increase, and vice versa.
Summary of Analytical Framework for Assessing Distributed Solar Policies
The results of the three analyses described above can be pulled together into a single framework to evaluate different distributed solar resource policies in an open, data‐driven regulatory process. The framework proposed here includes several steps that policymakers, regulators, or other stakeholders can take to assess the implications of different distributed solar policies. These steps are summarized in Table ES.1.
To facilitate understanding and decision‐making, it is useful to summarize the results of the three analyses in a single table. Table ES.2 provides an example of how the results could be summarized for reporting and decision‐making purposes.
The primary recommendation from this report is that regulators should require utility‐specific analyses of: (1) distributed solar development, (2) cost‐effectiveness, and (3) cost‐shifting impacts of relevant distributed solar policies. This will allow for a concrete, comprehensive, balanced, and robust discussion of the implications of the distributed solar policies.
Using the results of the analyses presented above, policymakers, regulators, or other stakeholders can review the projected impacts of various policy options to determine what course of action is in the public interest. Appropriate consideration of all relevant impacts will help decision‐makers to avoid implementing policies that have unintended consequences or that fail to achieve policy goals. The results of such analyses can also help to determine the point at which certain distributed solar policies should be reevaluated and modified over time.
Given that each jurisdiction has its own policy goals and unique context, the ultimate policy decision reached may be different in each jurisdiction, even when based on the same analytical results. Nonetheless, the framework articulated above will provide decision‐makers with the ability to balance protection of customers with overarching policy objectives in a transparent, data‐driven process.
Sliver Of Hope? Al Gore In Climate Change Meet With Donald Trump Donald Trump meets with Al Gore on climate change
Tal Kopan, December 5, 2016 (CNN)
“President-elect Donald Trump met on Monday with Al Gore -- one of the most vocal advocates of fighting climate change…[After his meeting with Ivanka Trump, the President-elect's daughter, about climate issues, Gore] met with Trump himself…[Gore called the meeting] ‘lengthy and very productive…[and] a sincere search for areas of common ground.’…Many Republicans are critical of the strong scientific consensus that human activities are exacerbating global climate change, potentially threatening millions of people and their ways of life. Gore has been one of the most outspoken advocates for raising awareness about the dangers of climate change…[The President-elect has now] denied saying global warming was a Chinese hoax…[and more recently said there is ‘some connectivity’ between climate change and] carbon dioxide produced by humans…” click here for more
The Opportunity In New Energy Business Leaders: Electrify the U.S. Economy to Reduce Climate Change Risks; Clean energy a major private sector investment opportunity say Bloomberg, Paulson, and Steyer
December 6, 2016 (Risky Business)
“Reducing the risk posed by climate change is both economically and technically achievable, according to From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy by the Risky Business Project, and would create significant new opportunities for American business…[The new report] finds that an average of $320 billion a year in private sector investment is needed through 2050 to build a clean energy economy and achieve the emissions reductions necessary to avoid the worst economic impacts of climate change. These necessary investments would be similar in scale to other major recent investments made by American business, including in computers and software at $350 billion per year over the past decade. Investments in clean energy could yield on average up to $366 billion in savings per year from reductions in spending on fossil fuels…The country would gain 1.3 million new jobs by 2050, with utilities, construction, and manufacturing seeing the largest gains. But 270,000 jobs would be lost in coal mining, oil, and gas related jobs, primarily in Southern and Mountain states…” click here for more
Google Seizing New Energy Opportunity Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017
Quentin Hardy, December 6, 2017 (NY Times)
“Last year, Google consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco. Next year, it said, all of that energy will come from wind farms and solar panels…Like almost any company, Google gets power from a power company, which operates an energy grid typically supplied by a number of sources, including hydroelectric dams, natural gas, coal and wind power…[Over the last decade, with relatively little fanfare, Google has participated in a number of large-scale deals with renewable producers, typically guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells. With those guarantees, wind companies can obtain bank financing to build more turbines…The power created by the renewables is plugged into the utility grid, so that Google’s usage presents no net consumption of fossil fuels and the pool of electricity gets a relatively larger share of renewable sources…[Whether Google is the largest buyer of renewables would be difficult to verify, but there is no doubt its] large computer complexes, along with similar global operations by Amazon and Microsoft, are among the world’s fastest-growing new consumers of electricity…” click here for more
Evolving the RPS: A Clean Peak Standard for a Smarter Renewable Future
Lon Huber and Edward Burgess, December 1, 2016 (Strategen Consulting for the Arizona Residential Utility Consumer Office)
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) have been fundamental to jump-starting the renewable energy (RE) industry, accounting for over 60% of the growth in RE generation since 2000. However, the simple MWhbased approach used by traditional RPS policies does not differentiate between each renewable MWh based on its value to the grid or for reducing fuel consumption. Already some states are experiencing challenges as renewable energy production during certain times is beginning to provide diminished value in terms of reduced fuel consumption or capacity contribution. As states continue to achieve their RPS goals and reach increasingly higher levels of RE penetration, new approaches will likely be needed to guard against diminishing returns of a simple MWh based approach.
As a way of encouraging clean energy resources to provide all the necessary attributes of a reliable power system, we propose building upon the traditional RPS framework by adding one or more new supplemental components that would work in parallel with the foundational MWh-based retail sales component. The first and foremost of these new components would be the Clean Peak Standard (CPS). The CPS builds upon the RPS construct, by adding a new dimension whereby a certain percent of energy delivered to customers during peak load hours must be derived from clean energy sources. For example, a 30% CPS would mean that 30% of MWh delivered to customers during a predetermined peak period would need to come from qualifying clean peak resources.
Many additional design features can be included in the implementation of the CPS such as tradable compliance credits, locational adders, multi-part peak periods, and periodic updates to continually align new investments with system needs. Ultimately, if successful, the proposed RPS framework can help to achieve clean energy resource procurement that is aligned with the full suite of grid services that electric power system operators need to supply.
Background and Context
Renewable Portfolio Standards: A Strong Start Towards a Clean Energy Future
Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. have adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which today apply to 55% of electric sales in the U.S.1 These policies have been fundamental to jump-starting the renewable energy (RE) industry, accounting for over 60% of the growth in RE generation since 2000.2 While each state has its own unique variations on an RPS, all state policies generally require retail electric providers to supply a minimum percentage of their retail load (in MWh) from renewable resources. Frequently, states use Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) both to track compliance and to create a marketplace for renewable energy. The success of RPS policies stems, in part, from the simplicity of this framework. The retail sales requirement and associated REC construct creates a degree of certainty and transparency on which prospective developers and installers can rely to assess the value of renewable energy.
However, as states achieve their goals and reach increasingly higher levels of RE penetration, many are beginning to decide what policies should come next. Some states have already doubled down on the traditional approach, simply expanding their retail sales targets. Others are considering more targeted procurement methods that focus on specific resources, such as solar. As more states move towards the next chapter of clean energy policies, it will be increasingly important to consider benefits and drawbacks of the traditional RPS approach and explore improvements that will maximize public policy benefits.
Potential Pitfalls in Expanding Traditional RPS Frameworks
While each state has its own reasons for advancing RPS policies, many have done so primarily to reduce overall fuel consumption, which is associated with price volatility, fuel dependency, and other externalities. In this context, an energy-centric standard based on MWh sales is a sensible approach. Moreover, a MWh-based component will continue to be an important part of maintaining these policy objectives. However, a simple MWh-based standard lacks specific market signals that differentiate between the value of each renewable MWh based on the time when it is produced. Discrepancies in this value could lead to RPS compliance being met by a set of MWhs with very unequal grid-related benefits and unequal fuel-related benefits, both of which are described below.
Unequal Grid-Related Benefits From an electric provider’s standpoint, the total MWh of energy supplied is only one component of what’s needed to ensure reliable electric service. The system must also have sufficient MW of capacity to meet peak demand. Beyond energy and capacity, there are other types of essential grid services that a supplier’s portfolio of resources must provide, such as frequency regulation, load following, and spinning reserves. Providing capacity during peak hours is a time-specific grid service that is not well matched with an indiscriminate MWhbased standard. A traditional RPS would not necessarily encourage clean energy resources to provide these services; in the absence of a clear market signal, they are instead likely to be provided by conventional resources (often operating in standby mode), thereby prolonging fuel dependency and potentially increasing costs for customers. Moreover, the MWh-based standard may not adequately reward the enhanced value of resources that can deliver clean energy more flexibly and adapt to the grid’s needs. In some states, such as California, high renewable energy penetration has also led to new challenges, in large part due to the changing set of grid services needed to accommodate high penetrations of solar PV.
Unequal Fuel-Related Benefits
From the perspective of reducing fuel consumption and reducing externalities, the incremental impact of renewable energy can also be very time-specific. In reality, this benefit depends largely on the marginal generation unit at the time of production. Reductions in fuel consumption and environmental impacts (e.g. emissions of criteria air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) due to renewable energy can vary over the course of the day and by season. As renewable penetration increases, this benefit could even fall to zero at certain times. For example, during some hours there may be overgeneration of renewable resources causing curtailment. At other times, the marginal resource may not be a non-fuel based resource (e.g. hydro). Figure 2 and Figure 3 illustrate the growing overgeneration problem in California and Hawaii due to recent increases in the penetration of solar PV resources.
Over the long run, indiscriminate procurement of renewable resources based solely on annual MWh of production could exacerbate some of these discrepancies while introducing new challenges. For example, in the Southwest, the addition of solar PV resources could have diminishing returns in reducing fuel consumption if a significant portion of PV generation is already being curtailed due to overgeneration. Meanwhile, solar PV’s contribution towards peak demand will also be diminished as net load shifts into evening hours.
In fact, a 2014 CAISO study examined a scenario in which California increased its RPS from 33% to 40%. The results indicated that despite a 7% increase in the standard, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) were only reduced by 2% in California (see Figure 4).4 Further, the study predicted peak demand related capacity shortfalls and over 13 GW of renewable curtailment in one spring month.
These results are consistent with findings from another study exploring a 50% RPS for California, which demonstrated that as more renewables are added, the marginal fossil generator displaced is increasingly efficient. This means that increasing the RPS would result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions savings per MWh of RPS target.5 The 50% study further concluded that due to overgeneration, “more renewable resources must be procured than would be the case if all renewable resource output could be accommodated by the grid.” Under an alternate case in which RE procurement was better matched with the grid’s capabilities and needs, rate impacts of achieving the RPS were reduced by 10-39%.6
Thus, as RPS policies are scaled up in the future, the incremental benefits of complying with an RPS could become dampened under a traditional approach. A more sophisticated approach is needed to help target renewable energy procurement towards incremental clean energy resources that yield the greatest value to the grid and to customers.
Finally, another potential pitfall of traditional RPS policies is that market activity can slow down or stop abruptly once compliance is achieved. This is problematic since it tends to create boom and bust cycles within the industry that may not be sustainable over the long term. Different policy designs could be developed to help extend market signals and direct appropriate investment beyond the immediate targets.
A New Approach: RPS 2.0
Introducing a Multi-Component Clean Energy Standard - Electric power system operators must plan the for the grid to meet a variety of needs. To better capture the multiple attributes of a properly planned system, and to ensure clean energy resources can participate in providing all of them, we propose building upon the traditional RPS framework by adding one or more new building block components that would work in parallel as a supplement to the foundational MWhbased retail sales component. The full suite of RPS 2.0 components can be summarized as follows, and as illustrated in Figure 5:
• Block 1 (foundation) – Traditional MWh-based Renewable Portfolio Standard
• Block 2 (new) – Clean Peak Standard
• Additional Blocks (new, optional) – Example: Clean Flex Capacity Standard
Thus, the foundation would be comprised of the traditional MWh-based RPS. Meanwhile, a second, complementary building block would introduce a capacity-based standard that would focus on peak demand needs. This component is designed to encourage clean energy resources to provide capacity during peak demand hours. Under this framework, a minimum percentage of energy dispatched during a predefined peak window (e.g. 4 hours) must come from qualifying clean energy resources. The following sections of this paper provide a more detailed description of how the Clean Peak Standard could be implemented.
While the peak demand attribute (Block 2) is perhaps most readily included in the multi-component RPS, it would be possible to add other grid services that are identified and evaluated for system planning. For example, a new component could be added to encourage clean energy resources to provide flexible capacity during high flexibility need hours, if this was determined to be an important system constraint from a planning perspective.
As new blocks are added, the policy design increases in sophistication as it becomes more closely tailored to system needs. The overarching intent of this general framework is to better align clean energy procurement with the full suite of grid services that energy providers need to supply. While we acknowledge that most jurisdictions have not yet reached penetration levels where this is an urgent problem (with possible exceptions of Hawaii and California), we anticipate that this will increasingly become an issue over the coming years. Renewable penetration is poised to increase due to both RPS procurement and increased economic competitiveness of renewable resources. In anticipation of these trends, the table below summarizes some of the grid services that could be subject to a corresponding standard.
Whatever components are ultimately included, it is vital that each additional component not be viewed as a substitute for the traditional MWh-based standard, but rather as parallel complementary policies. This is necessary to ensure that no component is pursued at the expense of other components. However, while each reflects a discrete system planning constraint, a single resource can be used to simultaneously contribute towards each component. For example, generation that counts towards Component 1 (i.e. overall MWh) could also contribute to Component 2 (i.e. peak-coincident generation)…
Clean Peak Standard (CPS) – Detailed Overview…Qualifying Clean Peak Resources…Peak Demand Window…Clean Capacity Credit…Containing Costs of Resource Procurement…
As states continue to achieve higher penetrations of renewable energy, some have begun to grapple with new challenges in terms of maximizing the benefits reducing the costs of additional RE procurement. The advanced RPS approach presented in this paper can help to better target procurement towards the needs of the grid and provide a sustainable path for renewable energy deployment into the foreseeable future. A cornerstone of this new approach is the introduction of the Clean Peak Standard which will help to encourage clean energy resources that generate energy during peak hours, when it is needed most. Additional components and implementation details can be added over time to create a more sophisticated RPS that is more aligned with the true needs of the grid.
Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change
Chelsea Harvey, December 1, 2016 (Washington Post)
“…[A] federal judge in Oregon made headlines when she ruled that a groundbreaking climate lawsuit will proceed to trial. And some experts say its outcome could rewrite the future of climate policy in the United States…The case, brought by 21 youths aged 9 to 20, claims that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address the problem of climate change to protect their planet’s future — and that, they charge, is a violation of their constitutional rights on the most basic level…[Climate scientist James Hansen has] joined as a plaintiff on behalf of his granddaughter and as a guardian for ‘future generations.’…The U.S. government under President Obama, along with several others representing members of the fossil fuel industry, filed to have the lawsuit dismissed. But on Nov. 10, federal judge Ann Aiken denied the motion, clearing the case to proceed to trial.
According toOur Children’s Trust, the nonprofit representing the youth plaintiffs…[the case will] likely go to trial by summer or early fall of 2017…[T]he trial’s outcome could have major implications for the incoming Trump administration, which aims to dismantle many of the climate and energy priorities established under President Obama…Should the plaintiffs prevail, the federal government could be forced to develop and adhere to stringent carbon-cutting measures aimed at preserving the planet’s climate future for generations to come. The only other place such action has ever been ordered by a court is in the Netherlands, where a similar case resulted in a landmark ruling last year requiring the Dutch government to slash its emissions by a quarter within five years…” click here for more
Ben Jervey, December 5, 2016 (Ensia via Scientific American)
“…[Wind resources tend to complement solar resources…A handful of enterprising renewable energy developers are now exploring how solar and wind might better work together, developing hybrid solar–wind projects…[with the strengths of the] two technologies in tandem serving as a better replacement for climate-warming fossil fuels than either could be alone…Co-locating wind and solar plants can save money on grid connections, site development and approvals. But that’s not the only benefit…[The developer of an Australian 10 MW solar project adjacent to a wind project] estimates savings as high as A$6 million — reducing the cost of the project by a full 20 percent…When applied to microgrid systems — local energy grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously — combined solar and wind can help cut battery costs…since the wind can (and often does) blow when the sun doesn’t shine…Combining solar photovoltaics and wind turbines at the same location can actually yield up to twice the amount of electricity as having either system working alone…” click here for more
The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs Plug-in electric car sales surge in Nov: Volt soars, Prius Prime arrives (final update)
John Voelcker, December 4, 2016 (Green Car Reports)
“…[T]he North American winter months have seen a slowdown in sales of plug-in electric cars—but…vehicle sales for November led analysts to suggest this could be another record year for U.S. sales…And several plug-in cars set new monthly records…[S]ales of the Nissan Leaf electric car actually increased over last year's comparable number, while those of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid soared…Toyota delivered almost 800 of its new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid…Chevrolet delivered 2,531 Volts in November, its best sales month in more than three years, bringing its 11-month sales total to 21,048…Nissan, meanwhile, sold 1,457 Leafs last month (against 1,054 a year ago), indicating that the six-year-old electric car may have some life left in it—and perhaps discounts too…Tesla Motors refuses to break down its quarterly delivery data by country, so we have no comparable data on Model S sedan and Model X crossover utility sales in the U.S…” click here for more