Bill Maher Talks Trump Havoc, Climate Havoc
"The White House celebrated St. Patrick's Day by slashing green energy..." Also catch the great lines near the top about coal. From Real Time With Bill Maher via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, March 25-26:
"The White House celebrated St. Patrick's Day by slashing green energy..." Also catch the great lines near the top about coal. From Real Time With Bill Maher via YouTube
Does the Big Apple float? From The Scene
This is a story about what can happen “…if someone puts their mind to it…” Give it 2 minutes. From DigitalPromiseStories via YouTube
‘Earth is a planet in upheaval’: World Meteorological Organization issues dire climate warning; “Truly uncharted territory”
Joe Romm, March 22, 2017 (ThinkProgress)
“Humanity is ‘now in truly uncharted territory,’ thanks to CO2-driven climate change, [according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) annual report. It] paints a dire picture for humanity: record CO2 levels, record warming, record drop in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, [record high sea levels, and severe droughts that induced food insecurity for millions.
Climatologist and former head of the UN climate science panel Sir Robert Watson said the Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress ‘continue to bury their heads in the sand’ but future generations will marvel at such deniers ‘and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy, when the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of a transition to a low-carbon economy.’”
Climatologist and former head of the UN climate science panel Sir Robert Watson said the Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress ‘continue to bury their heads in the sand’ but future generations will marvel at such deniers ‘and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy, when the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of a transition to a low-carbon economy.’”click here for more
Big Oil Replaces Rigs With Wind Turbines
Jess Shankleman, March 22, 2017 (Bloomberg News)
“…Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA are moving into multi-billion-dollar offshore wind farms in the North Sea and beyond. They’re starting to score victories against leading power suppliers including Dong Energy A/S and Vattenfall AB in competitive auctions for power purchase contracts…[The multinational oil giants have] spent decades building oil projects offshore, and that business is winding down in some areas where older fields have drained. Returns from wind farms are predictable and underpinned by government-regulated electricity prices. And fossil fuel executives want to get a piece of the clean-energy business as forecasts emerge that renewables will eat into their market…About $99 billion will be invested in North Sea wind projects from 2000 to 2017…Current [ocean wind] projects entering operation are delivering power at about half the price of farms finished in 2012...[and costs] could fall another 26 percent by 2035…” click here for more
Apple is taking its clean energy promise to Japan and the open sea
Lulu Chang, March 8, 2017 (Digital Trends)
“…[Apple component supplier Ibiden] will power all of its Apple manufacturing with 100 percent renewable energy…Ibiden is planning to invest in more than 20 new renewable energy facilities, one of which is among the largest floating solar photovoltaic systems in Japan…[Floatovoltaics’ advantages include avoiding the cost and regulatory restrictions of land, avoiding viewscape concerns, preventing water evaporation, restricting algae blooms, and increasing array efficiency because the water cools the panels]…The impressive structure is built on a converted lumberyard to ensure that the island nation doesn’t lose too much real estate in the name of environmental friendliness…” click here for more
Germany Increases Electric Car Charging Points 27 Percent in 2016
Vera Eckert w/Victoria Bryan, March 24, 2016 (Reuters via U.S. News & World Report)
“The number of electric car charging points for public use in Germany rose by 27 percent last year, including hundreds more fast-charging units…Germany now has 7,407 charging points…Of those added last year, 292 units were fast charging (direct current) points that can reload an electric car in minutes instead of hours…With public and government support growing for electric car technologies, utilities such as Innogy and E.ON are building up charging networks to tap into the market…[but government funding is] still important to make it viable to operate charging points, given the low numbers of electric cars…The number of electric cars in Germany rose 29 percent to 77,153 in 2016, up from just 4,000 in 2011…” click here for more
How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps
Nadja Popovich, John Schwartz And Tatiana Schlossberg, March 21, 2017 (NY Times)
“Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and…[a] majority of adults in every congressional district in the nation support limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants [according to Yale University research. But many Republicans in Congress (and some Democrats) agree with President Trump, who this week may move to kill an Obama administration plan that would have scaled back the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions…Nationally, about seven in 10 Americans support regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – and 75 percent support regulating CO2 as a pollutant more generally. But lawmakers are unlikely to change direction soon…[because committed activists are shaping] politicians’ approaches to issues like climate change…” click here for more
Baby Doomers: As climate change threatens to strain resources, women are increasingly reevaluating reproductive decisions. Now, these women are angry; People weigh parenting decisions because a child in America produces 45,000 pounds of CO2 yearly. In Ethiopia? 221
Diane Stopyra, January 29, 2017 (Salon)
“…With the UN announcing that the global population will hit nearly 10 billion people by 2050, and experts warning that man-made climate change will strain resources to a dire extent, 2016 became the year of the question: Is having babies bad?...[It often] devolves into a digital screaming match — on one side are parents and would-be parents espousing the primal human instinct to reproduce, and the folly of denying that drive. On the other side are activists who…believe the way to best protect our children is by not having more…[Caught in the middle are] twenty- and thirty-somethings torn between the desire to start a family and guilt over doing so…[Mediators say it’s an impossible choice and the debate must enlarge] away from population and toward [causes, solutions, and] social systems (and those who implement them)…[They also say the wise response is to make the best personal choice and affirm all choices of conscience]…” click here for more
SPP bumps into transmission constraints as wind energy breaks records
Robert Walton, March 22, 2017 (Utility Dive)
“…[The Southwest Power Pool set new record by serving 54.22% of load with wind energy] on March 19. But the grid operator may be bumping into transmission constraints..SPP's installed wind generation grew by 30% last year, rising from 12 GW to more than 16 GW…[but] there isn't room for much more on the system without new demand…Part of the problem is wind's high level of variability and seasonality…As recently as the early 2000s, [SPP’s] generating fleet included less than 400 MW of wind. But SPP has approved the construction of more than $10 billion in high-voltage transmission infrastructure over the last decade, helping bring wind power from projects in the Midwest…” click here for more
How California Can Avoid Throwing Away Solar Energy
Ralph Cavanaugh, March 22, 2017 (National Resources Defense Council)
“…[The operator for most of the California grid is] experiencing conditions where it must throttle down [solar power plants] on sunny afternoons and warns of much more to come…The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) isn’t anti-solar; turning off renewable generation is a last resort…[But at some times there is not enough electricity demand within the state to absorb…[the New Energy output from its solar,] wind, geothermal, and hydropower…
[The] western grid as a whole has more than three times California’s power needs, and tens of thousands of megawatts of polluting fossil power generation…[which costs substantially more than California’s solar plants and could be replaced by] solar energy that’s being thrown away…By integrating our western power grid – including the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and California, as well as western Canada and Mexico – we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for consumers, while increasing reliability…”
[The] western grid as a whole has more than three times California’s power needs, and tens of thousands of megawatts of polluting fossil power generation…[which costs substantially more than California’s solar plants and could be replaced by] solar energy that’s being thrown away…By integrating our western power grid – including the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and California, as well as western Canada and Mexico – we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for consumers, while increasing reliability…”click here for more
How aggregated DERs are becoming the new demand response; Grid operators are designing new markets and mechanisms to get reliability and flexibility from aggregated distributed energy resources.
Herman K. Trabish, July 20, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, more policy work has been directed at opening opportunities for distributed resources.
The value of electricity is never greater than when it is not available. California’s historic energy crisis in the early aughts led to political upheaval and real demand response programs across the United States, which the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and other system operators now depend upon. But coping with today’s dynamic grid and rising levels of variable renewables takes more than just load reduction because demand response is no longer simply about meeting demand peaks. It is also managing voltage and frequency fluctuations and handle shifting loads and over-generation. As a result, demand response is turning to aggregated distributed energy resources, according to a recent report from GTM Research.
The increasing penetration of DERs and the capability of providers to deliver aggregated behind-the-meter fleets of the resources is allowing system operators to seize their value. It is expected to eventually allow the private sector and system operators to partner in bringing consumers into energy delivery. But, first, grid operators must learn to deal with diverse aggregations of resources such as rooftop solar, battery storage, EV batteries, hot water heaters, and home appliance loads. Of North America’s nine major grid system operators, the report looks carefully at “market evolution” necessary to “transition to the next-generation energy system,” in four: The PJM Interconnection, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and the CAISO… click here for more
How record large-scale solar growth is changing utility IPPs; Utility affiliates could bring online over half of all the new utility-scale solar built through 2017
Herman K. Trabish, July 21, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This story’s foreshadowing of a U.S. solar boom led by the private sector was realized in year-end numbers.
Utilities became the biggest players in the large-scale solar market as the solar industry hurtled toward shattering growth records by adding 14.5 GW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity, a 94% increase over the 7.5 GW installed in 2015. Typically, first quarter growth is the year's weakest, but solar developers added 1,665 MW in Q1 2016. That was 64% of all new U.S. electric generating capacity for Q1 and towered over the 18 MW of natural gas that came online in the same timeframe. It brought the cumulative installed U.S. solar capacity to 27.5 GW. Utility-scale solar was 43% of capacity installed, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Residential PV growth was 34% higher than in Q1 2015 but grew only 1% over its Q4 2015 performance in Q1 2016, after averaging an 11% quarter to quarter growth throughout the previous year. Flat growth in California, which has long been half the residential solar market, was a major factor, and though that market is expected to bounce back, it did not do so by the end of the year. By contrast, the utility-scale segment of the solar market was ready for unprecedented growth. Regulated utilities cannot readily monetize the ITC, but it can be of value to the unregulated independent power producer (IPP) subsidiaries of utility holding companies. That, and PPA prices low enough to compete with other generation sources, are driving a new level of interest in the solar market among utilities… click here for more
NextEra merger dead, Hawaii turns to realizing a 100% renewables future; NextEra never convinced regulators they could follow through on their clean energy goals. Can Hawaiian Electric?
Herman K. Trabish, July 25, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Hawaii continues to be a pioneer on the path to a New Energy future.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission rejected the application from Florida-based NextEra Energy to acquire Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) but the case provoked a rich debate among stakeholders over whether the investor-owned utility business model best serves Hawaii’s needs or whether an electric cooperative, a municipal utility, or a system operator might be better. As the merger was debated, Hawaii energy policy underwent profound changes. The state enacted the first and only 100% renewable energy mandate in the U.S., to be met by 2045, and the commission imposed the first replacement of retail rate net metering with a reduced incentive package.
Separate proceedings edged forward on the energy mix the HEI utilities should be developing and how best to create standards and incentives for a new system based on distributed energy resources (DER). The question persists of which company — and which utility business model — would serve Hawaii residents best. Stakeholders continue to point to the need to align consumer and utility interests, and the new opportunity the decision could represent to reform HEI. They say an appendix to the regulators’ merger decision — “Guidance for Any Future Merger or Acquisition Proceedings” — amounts to “a roadmap for Hawaii’s energy future… click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
U.S. Energy Storage Monitor: 2016 Year in Review and Q1 2017 Executive Summary
March 2017 (Energy Storage Association and GTM Research)
U.S. Q4 2016 Deployments in Megawatts Up 25% Over Previous Year; 2016 Deployments Down 3% vs. 2015
• The U.S. deployed 140.8 MW of energy storage in Q4 2016, a 7.5 -fold increase from the 18.6 MW deployed in Q3 2016 and up 25% fro m Q4 2015, marking a record quarter in megawatt terms. Overall, 2016 was down 3% in total MW deployed compared to 2015.
• Behind-the-meter deployments decreased 41% from Q3 2016, which was a particularly strong quarter for the non-residential market. The residential market held roughly flat, falling only 4% quarter-over-quarter. In contrast, the non-residential segment fell 44% in Q4 2016, after three straight quarters of growth (Q1 -Q3 2016). Year-over-year, the behind-the-meter segment fell 31%, though this masks a slight increase in the residential segment. This decline is mostly attributable to a drop in Califor nia’s non-residential market.
• Overall, behind-the-meter deployments accounted for 6% of the total market in MW terms in Q4 2016. Notably, Q3 2016 was a historically slow quarter for the utility -scale segment, leading to a record market share of 76% for the behind-the-meter market in MW terms in Q3 2016
U.S. Q4 2016 Deployments in Megawatt-Hours Up 230% Over Previous Year; 2016 Deployments Up 100% vs. 2015
• The U.S. deployed 229.9 megawatt-hours of energy storage in Q4 2016, increasing more than sixfold from Q3 2016 and 230% from Q4 2015 and marking a record quarter in MWh terms. In MWh terms, 2016 deployments grew 100% over 2015.
• The behind-the-meter segment (non-residential and residential deployments) accounted for 7% of total MWh deployed. The front-of-the-meter segment was bolstered by a number of 4-hour duration projects.
• The behind-the-meter segment saw over 10 MWh deployed for the seventh straight quarter, while every quarter in 2016 saw over 16 MWh deployed behind the meter, exhibiting some consistency in contrast to the more cyclical front-of-the-meter market over the past several years. Overall, the behind-the-meter market in 2016 grew 15% in MWh terms over 2015.
Top Energy Storage Markets, 2016
• California was the largest utility-scale market in 2016, dethroning PJM (excl. NJ), which held the position the year prior. California surged ahead in Q4 2016, entirely as a result of expedited deployments from the Aliso Canyon procurement. PJM (excl. NJ) dropped to third place, with a market only one-tenth the size of its 2015 deployments.
• California remained the largest non-residential market in 2016, growing 18% over 2015. The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) and high electricity prices continue to drive California’s non-residential market, which was almost 24 times the size of the next largest market, New Jersey. Behind-the-meter energy storage procurements will aid California in retaining its dominance of the U.S. non-residential segment over the next few years.
• The residential market saw increased diversity in 2016, as storage system vendors began deploying projects in increasing quantities beyond the strongholds of Arizona, California and Hawaii, causing the category “Other Markets” to lead in 2016. However, these individual markets are quite small. California remained the largest single-state market in 2016, a position it is unlikely to relinquish in the near future given a combination of the SGIP and shifts to new net-energy metering rules including time-of-use rates.
Lithium-Ion Technology Continues the Trend of More Than 95% Market Share
• Lithium-ion batteries dominated the energy storage market for the ninth straight quarter, representing 98.4% of the market in Q4 2016, up from 96.9% in Q3 2016. For the entirety of 2016, lithium-ion batteries held a market share of ~97% or greater, driven in large part by massive declines in lithium-ion battery prices and growing acceptance of the technology’s bankability, leading to lithium-ion batteries’ implementation in the majority of large utility-scale projects throughout the year. This trend is expected to continue, as numerous megawatt-scale procurements were awarded in 2016 to developers implementing lithium-ion technology; these projects are expected to come on-line over the next three to five years.
• Lead-acidcameinsecondforQ4 2016with1.6%marketshare.
Front-of-the-Meter Policy and Market Developments, Q1 2017…Behind-the-Meter Policy and Market Developments, Q1 2017…
5 Trends In Store for 2017
For multiple reasons, 2016 was a watershed year for energy storage in terms of megawatt-hours of storage deployments. Now the industry is gearing up for 2017 against the backdrop of a new residential administration. In many ways, 2017 will be a similarly critical year for energy policy and market changes. As the new Trump administration fills out its energy and environment teams, the process will be a source of immense anxiety for the energy community. At the time of the writing this report, Scott Pruitt had been confirmed to lead U.S. EPA, while the nomination of Gov. Rick Perry for U.S. DOE had gone through confirmation hearings, but hadn’t yet been voted on by the Senate. Without full staffing of the two most relevant federal agencies, and in the absence of detailed White house energy agenda, it is still premature to speculate about which federal policies directly (or indirectly) will impact energy storage markets. Moves by the DOE and the EPA, as well as actions taken by the Congress and the executive branch, will be the central theme this year. Beyond the more prominent activities at these agencies that may dominate the news cycles, there are several other federal, state and regional energy storage trends to watch (arguably more closely) in2017. These are:
• The Future of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Storage NOPR
• California’s Aliso Canyon Energy Storage Performance
• State Storage Mandates: Massachusetts and Oregon Setting Targets and Second Round of Procurement in California
• Increasing Role of Energy Storage in Resource Planning and Utility Procurement
• Dispatchable Solar and Microgrids
U.S. Energy Storage Annual Deployments Will Reach 2.6 GW by 2022
• GTM Research expects the U.S. energy storage market to grow from 221 MW in 2016 to roughly 2.6 GW in 2022, almost 12 times the size of the 2016 market
• The behind-the-meter segments will grow from a 20% share in 2016 to 52% of the annual storage market in 2022.
• California will further its dominance as the biggest storage market over the next five years, while markets like Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and Texas will vie for the second spot. Falling costs will result in better economics for storage as a capacity resource and will help boost adoption in wholesale markets and across vertically integrated and distribution utilities.
Energy Storage Will Be a $3.3 Billion Market in the U.S. by 2022
• By 2022, the U.S. energy storage market is expected to be worth $3.3 billion, a ten fold increase from 2016. Cumulative 2017-2022 storage market revenues will be over $11 billion.
• Revenues in 2016 ended up slightly higher than the previous year, as system prices have continued to be pushed down aggressively, and the overall deployments in megawatts were down 3%. Also, the typically higher priced residential segment, despite its mainstream buzz, only brought in about 4% of storage market revenues in 2016.
Eight Things To Do About Climate Change Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt to it; Donald Trump has rejected global leadership on the issue, so now it’s down to us as individuals to plan, and push through new policies change where we can
Dr. Missy Stults, 21 March 2017 (UK Guardian)
“…2016 was the warmest year on record, breaking the record previously held by 2015, and before that by 2014…[Dozens of climatological experts] have repeatedly stated that the global climate is changing and that society is now in ‘uncharted territory’…[This leads to] real and significant impacts to human health, livelihoods, cultural assets, economies, ecosystems, and society as a whole…[But] the Trump administration has decided to gut all programmes related to climate and many related to disaster-preparedness…Here are eight initial actions that individuals, as well as governments, could take immediately to prepare…1) Make a plan…2) Get to know your neighbours…3) Reduce your carbon footprint…4) Call your legislators today, and every day…5) Integrate climate change into all policies, programmes, and decision-making processes…6) Invest in climate science…7) Embrace green infrastructure…8) Embrace climate action as a means of advancing economic development and social justice…” click here for more
The Fight For New Energy Wires Wind energy firm trying again for OK of cross-country line
Daniel A. Lieb, March 21, 2017 (Associated Press via Jacksonville Journal Courier)
“...[Renewable energy transmission builder Clean Line Energy Partners faces opposition from landowners as Missouri utility regulators begin hearing testimony on a request…to build a high-voltage] line from western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to an Indiana power grid that connects with eastern states…[It has already won approval] from other states for its 780-mile-long power line…[The Grain Belt Express demonstrates] one of the toughest challenges for those seeking to nudge the U.S. toward a greater reliance on renewable energy. Although converting wind and sun into electricity is increasingly affordable, it can be difficult to gain the regulatory and legal approval necessary to carry the power from remote areas where it’s produced to the places where it’s needed most…Other large-scale renewable energy projects in the Midwest, South and West also have faced denials or delays in transmission line approvals from federal and state regulators and courts…” click here for more
The Best New Energy Battery Study: Li-ion Maintains Cost Advantage For Stationary Energy Storage
Joseph Bebon, March 10, 2017 (Solar Industry)
“Providing stationary energy storage is vital to the stability of the power grid as renewables grow and demand rises, but cost has been a challenge…[L]ithium-ion batteries will dominate the stationary energy storage market, though current generation flow battery technology has an economic case for certain very large and long-duration applications…Lux Research says analysts developed new battery cost models based on size, duration, architecture and chemistry, as well as compared Li-ion and flow battery costs…Li-ion beats the most popular vanadium-based flow battery technology on LCOS due to higher round-trip efficiency (83% vs. 65%)…Current technology won’t get lower than $0.35/kWh…Application stacking and multiple value streams will gain importance as energy storage costs fall to about $0.30/kWh by 2036…” click here for more
Deep Decarbonization Of The Electric Power Sector; Insights From Recent Literature
Jesse D. Jenkins and Samuel Thernstrom March 2017 (Energy Innovation Reform Project)
The electric power sector is widely expected to be the linchpin of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most studies exploring climate stabilization pathways envision a decline in global anthropogenic GHGs of 50-90% below current levels by 2050 (IPCC 2014; Loftus et al. 2015). To reach these goals, the power sector would need to cut emissions nearly to zero, while expanding to electrify (and consequently decarbonize) portions of the transportation, heating, and industrial sectors (GEA 2012; IPCC 2014; Krey et al. 2014; McCollum et al. 2014).
Given this challenge, what do we know about potential pathways to decarbonization of the electric power sector?
This paper reviews recent literature on the deep decarbonization of the electric power sector, defined here as 80-100% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions. To capture insights from recent research, this review encompasses 30 deep decarbonization studies published since 2014.1 These studies employ a variety of methods, including detailed power system optimization models, higher-level energy-economic and integrated assessment models, and scenario-driven exercises. They also span different scopes, from the regional to national to global, and they entail different research objectives. Despite this diversity of parameters, the recent literature presents a set of clear and consistent insights. This review seeks to synthesize these key insights and present these findings in a policy-relevant manner.
There is a strong consensus in the literature that reaching near-zero emissions is much more challenging — and may require a very different mix of resources — than comparatively modest emissions reductions (50-70% or less). Planning and policy measures should therefore focus on long-term objectives (near-zero emissions) in order to avoid costly lock-in of suboptimal resources.
In addition, there is strong agreement in the literature that a diversified mix of low-CO2 generation resources offers the best chance of affordably achieving deep decarbonization. While it is theoretically possible to rely primarily (or even entirely) on variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, it would be significantly more challenging and costly than pathways that employ a diverse portfolio of resources. In particular, including dispatchable low-carbon resources in the portfolio, such as nuclear energy or fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS), would significantly reduce the cost and technical challenges of deep decarbonization.
We summarize the evidence for each of these findings in the remainder of this document.
1. Power sector CO2 emissions must fall nearly to zero by 2050 to achieve climate policy goals. Studies considering economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals consistently envision the power sector cutting emissions further and faster than other sectors of the economy, such as transportation, heating, agriculture, and industry (Kriegler et al. 2014; White House 2016; Morrison et al. 2015; Williams et al. 2015; Krey et al. 2014). Kriegler et al. (2014) and Krey et al. (2014) summarize results from a detailed comparison of global decarbonization research performed by 18 modeling groups, and conclude that across all scenarios, “the electricity sector is decarbonized first with close to zero or net negative emissions in 2050.”2 Similarly, Morrison et al. (2015) compare nine models of deep carbon reductions in the California economy and find that “because some sectors cannot be electrified or are difficult to decarbonize (e.g., aviation, marine, heavy duty road freight, agricultural fertilizer, etc.), GHG emissions from the electricity grid will likely need to be reduced beyond 80%” below 1990 levels by 2050. Williams et al. (2015) likewise propose 90-97% reductions in power sector emissions by 2050 as part of efforts to decarbonize the U.S. economy. There is no disagreement on the question of prioritizing the power sector in decarbonization scenarios.
2. A low-carbon power sector must expand to electrify and decarbonize greater shares of transportation, heating, and industrial energy demand as part of a strategy for economy-wide emissions reductions. Due to the availability of several low- and zero-carbon sources of electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear power, and fossil fuels (or biomass) with carbon capture and storage (CCS), each of the economy-wide studies reviewed envisions electricity supplying greater shares of heating, industry, and transportation energy demand by 2050 (Kriegler et al. 2014; White House 2016; Morrison et al. 2015; Williams et al. 2015; Jacobson, Delucchi, Bazouin, et al. 2015).
Total demand for electricity use therefore grows under all deep decarbonization scenarios, even as total primary energy use overall remains relatively flat in developed countries and grows more modestly globally. Electricity increases end-use market share, either by direct electrification of end-uses (including expansion of electric vehicles and efficient electric heat pumps for heating and cooling) or by creating electrolytic hydrogen or synthetic natural gas for use as a heating or transport fuel, or as an industrial feedstock.
The global decarbonization scenarios summarized by Krey et al. (2014) envision global electricity demand rising roughly 35-150% by 2050, with electricity supplying 20-50% of energy demand by midcentury. Across four possible U.S. scenarios outlined by Williams et al. (2015), electricity use roughly doubles (+60-110%) by 2050. Use of electricity and fuels produced from electricity increases from around 20% of U.S. energy demand at present to more than 50% by 2050 in these scenarios. By 2050, White House (2016) envisions about 60% of passenger vehicle miles travelled will be fueled by electricity or hydrogen, 50% of industrial energy demand will be supplied by electricity (up from 20% today), and electricity will supply most space and water heating needs. In eight of nine models reviewed by Morrison et al. (2015), electricity demand in California increases 8-226% by 2050. The ninth study reviewed, Jacobson et al. (2014), considers a scenario where 100% of California end-use energy demand is met by electricity or hydrogen produced by electricity. In that case, electricity demand grows more than five-fold (+465%) by 2050. Jacobson et al. (2015) outlines a similar scenario for the U.S. as a whole, wherein electricity demand more than triples by 2050.
3. Deep decarbonization of the power sector is significantly more difficult than more modest emissions reductions. Many studies conclude that reducing power sector CO2 emissions by one-half to two-thirds can be achieved with a mix of commercially available technologies—namely, by displacing existing coal-fired generation with natural gas combined cycle power plants, increasing the share of wind and solar energy, and maintaining existing nuclear and hydropower capacity (White House 2016; de Sisternes, Jenkins, and Botterud 2016; Williams et al. 2015; Morrison et al. 2015; Gillespie, Grieve, and Sorrell 2015; Elliston, MacGill, and Diesendorf 2014; MacDonald et al. 2016; Riesz, Vithayasrichareon, and MacGill 2015).
By contrast, reaching near-zero emissions will require virtually all unabated coal and gas-fired power plants to be replaced by zero-emissions sources. This would necessitate a substantial increase in variable renewable energy from wind and solar, an expansion of nuclear power capacity (even as all existing nuclear reactors retire between now and 2050), significant penetration of coal or gas with CCS (with nearly 100% CO2 capture rates), or some combination thereof. The pace of emissions reductions and zero-carbon power capacity build-out would also need to increase to reach deep decarbonization by 2050 (Williams et al. 2015; White House 2016; Krey et al. 2014).
4. Deep decarbonization may require a significantly different mix of resources than more modest goals; long-term planning is important to avoid lock-in of suboptimal resources. It is important to emphasize that the lowest-cost portfolio of resources suited to achieving moderate emissions reductions may differ dramatically from the portfolio needed to efficiently reach deep decarbonization goals. For example, de Sisternes, Jenkins, and Botterud (2016) use a detailed power system optimization model to find the least-cost portfolio of electricity generation resources in a Texas-like power system under different emissions limits. The authors conclude that the optimal share of wind and solar is greatest under emissions limits roughly 60-80% below current levels (reaching a maximum of 40% of annual generation without energy storage, and up to 51-57% if significant energy storage capacity is available; see figure 1). The optimal share of renewables then shrinks as emissions limits tighten to achieve deep decarbonization, falling to just 19% without storage and up to 34% with substantial storage (equal to roughly 30% of peak demand for 2-10 hours of storage duration).
Similar results are found for lower-emissions fossil fueled power plants. Riesz, Vithayasrichareon, and MacGill (2015) explore the role of natural gas in a low-carbon transition for Australia’s National Electricity Market region. The authors conclude that an energy mix dominated by natural gas (supplying 95% of annual energy) could reduce CO2 emissions 30-50% below current levels in the Australian power system. Gas-fired capacity and energy shares fall steadily as emissions goals become more stringent, however. A generation mix with 80% gas and 20% renewables can cut CO2 by 50-65%, the authors find. Gas’s optimal share then falls to 45% as emissions limits tighten to approximately 65-75% below current levels, then declines further to less than 22% to achieve emissions reductions of 88% or greater.
Similarly, if CO2 capture rates for gas- or coal-fired plants with CCS are not close to 100%, then fossil plants with CCS can contribute to more modest emissions reduction goals (e.g. 60-80%), but to reach a fully decarbonized system, either capture rates must increase or those plants must be phased out (Elliston, MacGill, and Diesendorf 2014).
These conclusions suggest that if power generation resources are built out without considering long-term decarbonization objectives, costly “lock-in” of a suboptimal resource portfolio is possible. Installed capacities of wind, solar, uncontrolled natural gas, and low-capture-rate CCS plants that are suitable for achieving mid-term objectives could all exceed their optimal share for substantially decarbonized power systems. Policy measures and power sector planning should therefore consider the long-term transition to a CO2 -free power system and avoid incremental and shortsighted targets or capacity build-outs that may perversely make deep decarbonization more challenging.
5. Achieving deep decarbonization primarily (or entirely) with renewable energy may be theoretically possible but it would be significantly more challenging and costly than pathways employing a diverse portfolio of low-carbon resources. Multiple studies explore 100% renewable electricity systems that achieve deep decarbonization goals (Becker et al. 2014; Jacobson, Delucchi, Bazouin, et al. 2015; Jacobson, Delucchi, Cameron, et al. 2015; Elliston, MacGill, and Diesendorf 2014; Frew et al. 2016; Lenzen et al. 2016), or include scenarios with very high shares (80% or greater) of renewables (Cochran, Mai, and Bazilian 2014; Mai, Mulcahy, et al. 2014; Mai, Hand, et al. 2014; Riesz, Vithayasrichareon, and MacGill 2015; Brick and Thernstrom 2016; Akashi et al. 2014; Amorim et al. 2014; Gillespie, Grieve, and Sorrell 2015; Heal 2016; Mileva et al. 2016; MacDonald et al. 2016; Pleßmann and Blechinger 2017).
These studies indicate that achieving deep decarbonization primarily with renewable energy sources (chiefly wind and solar) may be technically possible.3 However, despite a diversity of contexts and analytical methods, these studies find a high degree of agreement on several key features of renewables-centric power systems that are likely to make these systems more costly and challenging than balanced low-carbon power systems employing a diverse portfolio of resources:
Decarbonized power systems dominated by variable renewables such as wind and solar energy are physically larger, requiring much greater total installed capacity.
Due to the variability of wind and solar energy, power systems with high shares of these resources have much greater overall installed capacity than more diversified power systems, and must maintain significant dispatchable capacity to ensure demand can be met at all times. For example: ● Pleßmann and Blechinger (2017) present a scenario for decarbonizing the European power system by 2050 (achieving 98.4% below 1990 emissions levels) that relies heavily on an expansion of wind and solar energy. Total installed capacity in this scenario is 4.2-times larger than the peak demand. ● Similarly, a 100% renewable electricity scenario for Australia outlined by Elliston, MacGill, and Diesendorf (2014) features total capacity roughly three times the peak demand in the system. ● Brick and Thernstrom (2016) likewise conclude that total installed capacity is 3.5 to 5.5 times larger for wind and solar-dominated power systems than more balanced systems. ● Total U.S. generating capacity is roughly double today’s installed capacity in a set of 80% renewable electricity scenarios described by Mai, Mulcahy, et al. (2014). Greater required installed capacity and the lower energy-density of wind and solar resources also significantly increases the land use consequences of power systems dominated by variable renewable resources.
Wind and solar-heavy power systems require substantial dispatchable power capacity to ensure demand can be met at all times. This amounts to a “shadow” system of conventional generation to back up intermittent renewables.
The renewables-heavy EU scenario presented by Pleßmann and Blechinger (2017) maintains sufficient capacity from hydro, gas, and energy storage to exceed peak demand. Elliston, MacGill, and Diesendorf (2014)’s 100% renewable system for Australia also retains dispatchable capacity exceeding the system’s peak demand (with capacity provided by biogas, hydro, and concentrating solar power with 15-hours of thermal energy storage). The 80% renewable electricity portfolios for the U.S. described by Mai, Mulcahy, et al. (2014) includes 400 GW of total coal, gas, and nuclear capacity, roughly 100 GW of biomass, and an additional 200 GW of hydro and concentration solar power with thermal energy storage. This is in addition to 100-152 GW of storage and 24-48 GW of curtailable demand. Relatively dispatchable resources thus total 825-900 GW, or approximately equal to peak demand.
Without a fleet of reliable, dispatchable resources able to step in when wind and solar output fade, scenarios with very high renewable energy shares must rely on long-duration seasonal energy storage.
Becker et al. (2014) determine the optimal mix of wind and solar capacity to supply 100% of U.S. electricity while minimizing energy storage requirements. The authors conclude that the minimal storage capacity necessary to ensure demand is reliably met would be sufficient to store 15-30% of U.S. annual electricity demand, or roughly 8-16 weeks of storage.
The “100% wind, water, solar” scenario for the U.S. described in Jacobson, Delucchi, Bazouin, et al. (2015) and Jacobson, Delucchi, Cameron, et al. (2015) also envisions total energy storage with a power capacity that is two and a half times the current U.S. installed generating capacity, with a collective capability to store more than seven weeks worth of total U.S. electricity consumption. This is in addition to substantial power-to-hydrogen production and the capacity to store enough hydrogen to meet another 5-6 weeks’ of current U.S. electricity demand.
Gillespie, Grieve, and Sorrell (2015) also find that variation in wind, solar, and electricity demand in the United Kingdom can lead to persistent power supply deficits lasting 2-3 weeks in a 100% renewable power system.
Looking at similar results for renewables-heavy systems Brick and Thernstrom (2016) conclude that “wind and solar output exhibit seasonal episodes of both sustained oversupply and undersupply that overwhelm any conceivable storage strategy.” Battery storage is infeasible for such long duration seasonal storage. For comparison, the total storage capacity envisioned by Jacobson et al. is equivalent to 37.8 billion Tesla Power Wall 2.0 home energy storage systems—320 Power Walls per U.S. household. Alternatively, to put the weeks’ worth of energy storage envisioned in these studies in perspective, consider that the ten largest pumped hydro storage facilities in the U.S. are collectively capably of storing a total of just 43 minutes worth of U.S. energy consumption (DOE, 2016).
In addition, studies envisioning long-duration storage inevitably rely on one or more technologies that remain unproven at such large scales, including underground thermal energy storage, electrolytic hydrogen production, and/or production of synthetic natural gas.
Very high shares of wind and solar entail significant curtailment—even with energy storage, transmission, or demand response.
Due the variability of wind and solar production, achieving very high energy shares requires significantly over-building total installed capacity (as discussed above). In addition to contending with prolonged lulls in output, high renewable energy systems must also face periods when available wind and solar production exceeds total demand. Excess generation must either be curtailed (that is, wasted) or stored for later use.
For example, Frew et al. (2016) find that curtailment of wind and solar rises sharply as renewable energy shares increase in the United States. Even with significant energy storage or demand-side flexibility (in the form of flexible EV charging), at a 60% renewable energy share, wasted energy output is sufficient to supply 5% of all 2015 U.S. electricity generation. Wasted output rises to nearly 12% of annual U.S. generation at 80% renewable energy share, and as high as 48% of 2015 annual U.S. generation in a 100% renewable energy power system. With a major expansion of long-distance transmission interconnection to smooth renewable energy variation across the continent, curtailment falls to negligible levels—if the share of renewables is held to 60%—but at 80% renewables it still amounts to 5% of total U.S. generation, and 37-48% of annual generation at 100% renewables.
Similarly, Mai, Mulcahy, et al. (2014) find that curtailed renewable output would be sufficient to supply 6-9% of 2015 U.S. electricity generation across a range of 80% renewable scenarios, despite positing nearly 200 GW of energy storage capacity and a major build-out of U.S. long-distance transmission capacity. High renewable energy scenarios also envision a significant expansion of long-distance transmission grids.
In order to smooth renewable energy variation across wider regions, most high-renewable scenarios include plans for much greater long-distance transmission capacity. To reach 80-90% renewable electricity in the United States, Mai, Mulcahy, et al. (2014) propose a 56-105% increase in U.S. long-distance transmission capacity. MacDonald et al. (2016) envision approximately 20,000 miles of new high-voltage direct-current transmission lines linking all regions in the United States, while transmission interconnection between EU regions expands 4.5-fold by 2050 in the renewables-dominated scenario in Pleßmann and Blechinger (2017). Importantly, these figures do not include additional transmission lines needed within each region to access renewable energy resource zones. High renewables scenarios are more costly than other options, due to the factors outlined above.
Frew et al. (2016) finds that a fully renewable U.S. power system costs at least twice as much as an 80% renewables system, and 2.8-times the cost of a system with 20% renewables, even after building an expanded, nationwide high-voltage power grid. The same study finds that a 100% renewable power system for California costs 2.1 to 2.8-times as much as an 80% renewable system, and 3 to 8-times more than a 20% renewable system.
Brick and Thernstrom (2016) find that 80% renewable energy portfolios in Wisconsin, California and Germany would be 1.5 to 2.5-times costlier than a diversified low-carbon portfolio. Furthermore, the authors find that an 80% renewable portfolio only achieves a roughly 70% reduction in CO2 emissions. To achieve the same deep emissions reductions as a diversified portfolio (81-87%), a renewables-heavy portfolio costs 3.2 to 4-times more under baseline cost assumptions from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and 30-115% higher under a low-cost renewables/high-cost nuclear sensitivity case.
Williams et al. (2015) similarly find that a high-renewables pathway for deep decarbonization of the U.S. economy costs 1.6 times more than a diversified portfolio and 3.25 to 4-times higher than high-CCS and high-nuclear pathways.
6. Including dispatchable base resources (such as nuclear or CCS) reduces the cost and technical challenge of achieving deep decarbonization.
The challenges associated with high-renewable energy scenarios described above strongly suggest that harnessing dispatchable baseload resources (nuclear, biomass, or fossil fuels with CCS) that could form the foundation of a low-carbon power system would significantly decrease the cost and challenge of reaching deep decarbonization goals.
It is notable that, of the 30 papers surveyed here, the only deep decarbonization scenarios that do not include a significant contribution from nuclear, biomass, hydropower, and/or CCS exclude those resources from consideration a priori. Every paper employing least-cost optimization techniques includes significant shares of dispatchable base resources in the decarbonized power portfolio (de Sisternes, Jenkins, and Botterud 2016; Safaei and Keith 2015; Gillespie, Grieve, and Sorrell 2015; Mai, Hand, et al. 2014; Mai, Mulcahy, et al. 2014; Mileva et al. 2016; Lenzen et al. 2016; Kriegler et al. 2014; as well as several of the scenarios in Morrison et al. 2015).
For example: ● In a least-cost electric generation portfolio reducing Texas emissions by roughly 90%, de Sisternes, Jenkins, and Botterud (2016) find that nuclear supplies 52-68% of annual generation, depending on the availability of energy storage. ● Allowing new nuclear to contribute to a leastcost portfolio that reduces emissions 85% (from 1990 levels) in the western United States, Mileva et al. (2016) finds that the dispatchable base resource has a 43% share of annual generation. Furthermore, including nuclear in the generation mix lowers total power system costs by an estimated 23% (relative to a baseline case in which new nuclear construction is prohibited). ● Gillespie, Grieve, and Sorrell (2015) and Brick and Thernstrom (2016) also conclude that the lowest-cost portfolio for deep decarbonization includes significant shares of nuclear and/or CCS. There is high agreement in the literature that dispatchable base resources are a virtually indispensible part of leastcost pathways to deep decarbonization.
7. A diversified mix of low-carbon resources offers the best chance of affordably achieving deep decarbonization of the power system. Multiple studies stress the importance of maintaining a diverse mix of low and zero-carbon resources in order to affordably and reliably decarbonize the power system. Kriegler et al. (2014) survey global decarbonization pathways analyzed by 18 different international modeling groups and find that wind, solar, biomass, nuclear power, and fossil fuels with CCS all play a substantial role in reaching low-carbon goals. If any one of these resources are excluded or unavailable, the cost of decarbonization increases—by up to 30% by 2100 if nuclear or renewables are limited in availability, by as much as 200% if bioenergy availability is restricted, and up to 300% if CCS is unavailable (Kriegler et al. 2014).
Similarly, after drawing on a review of the academic literature, multiple stakeholder listening sessions, and a set of low-GHG pathways developed using up-to-date data and modeling of the energy and land sectors, White House (2016) concluded:
There are major benefits to supporting a wide range of electricity generation technologies. First, decarbonizing the electricity system does not depend on the success of any single technology, and the capacity additions required from any single technology are lessened due to what other technologies can contribute. Second, supporting a wide range of technologies today through a portfolio approach is likely to lower the costs of decarbonization in the long run, because we do not know today how technologies will progress over many decades; policies should be designed to enable the lowest cost technologies to emerge (while ensuring reliability).
The recent literature sheds significant light on the challenge of decarbonizing electric power systems. Despite a wide variety of analytical methods, goals, and scopes, there is strong agreement in the recent literature that deep decarbonization—reaching zero or near-zero CO2 emissions—is best achieved by harnessing a diverse portfolio of low-carbon resources.
In particular, low-carbon dispatchable baseload resources such as nuclear, biomass, hydropower, or CCS, are an indispensible part of any least-cost pathway to deep decarbonization. Recent literature indicates that removing this dispatchable base from the generation portfolio, relying instead entirely or predominately on variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, would significantly increase the cost and technical challenge of decarbonizing power systems.
In addition, reaching zero emissions requires a significantly different capacity mix than achieving comparatively more modest goals. This finding implies that policymakers and planning should be wary of lock-in of suboptimal capacity investments, and should consider policy and market mechanisms that incentivize action toward longterm goals. Future research should also seek to shed more light on efficient and robust pathways to deep decarbonization over time.
$19 Trillion Benefit In Global Climate Fight Paris climate deal could make the world $19 trillion richer; Investing heavily in renewable power and energy efficiency, in accordance with the Paris climate deal, will increase the global economy around 0.8% by 2050, says IEA
Jessica Shankleman and Joel Ryan, March 20, 2017 (Live Mint)
“Stopping global warming won’t just keep the planet habitable. It would also boost the global economy by $19 trillion…[because investing] in renewable power and energy efficiency to keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), in accordance with the landmark Paris Agreement, will increase the global economy around 0.8% by 2050, [according to an International Renewable Energy Agency/International Energy Agency report. The study] forecasts that 65% of electricity will be generated from clean power by 2050, up from around 15% in 2015…[and] energy intensity improvements will double…[The profit would come from] $145 trillion of investment in low-carbon technologies by the middle of the century…[that would] force fossil fuel companies to leave $10 trillion of coal, oil and gas [in the ground]…” click here for more
U.S. New Energy Now A $200Bil Biz U.S. Study Puts Impressive ‘Advanced Energy’ Revenue In Perspective
Joseph Bebon, March 7, 2017 (Solar Industry)
“…[The New Energies made up] a $200 billion industry in the U.S. and a whopping $1.4 trillion industry globally as of the end of 2016 [according to new Navigant Research work for Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). It] covers seven [advanced economy] segments: electricity generation, including wind and solar; fuel delivery; industry, including industrial combined heat and power and manufacturing machinery and process equipment; transportation; fuel production; electricity delivery and management, including transmission and energy storage; and building efficiency…U.S. advanced energy revenue for 2016 was nearly double that of the beer industry and equal to that of domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing – and it was even approaching revenue from wholesale consumer electronics. As for global revenue, it was almost twice that of the airline industry and nearly equal to that of apparel…” click here for more
$10Bil EV Buy Planned By Band Of Cities 30 cities join to explore $10 billion electric-car purchase
Stephen Edelstein, March 17, 2017 (Green Car Reports)
“…A group of 30 U.S. cities is discussing a major purchase of electric cars for their municipal fleets…The cities have jointly asked automakers for cost and feasibility estimates of providing 114,000 cars, to be split among them…Those vehicles would augment and in many cases replace thousands of existing cars and light trucks that rack up considerable mileage every year in city-fleet service…The deal could be worth $10 billion, and would be equivalent in volume to 72 percent of U.S. plug-in electric-car sales last year…The joint-purchase effort is led by Los Angeles, and includes other major cities like New York and Chicago…The majority of vehicles will likely be light-duty cars and trucks, but some cities are reportedly inquiring about vehicle types that may not be current available with electric powertrains, such as fire engines…The mayors hope to spur manufacturers by showing that demand for electric vehicles is robust…Such a large order—and the fact that it will likely be spread out over several years—could indeed be an enticing prospect for automakers…” click here for more