By - Jim Vess

Concentrating solar could play a bigger role in electricity generation if costs are pared

Energize Weekly, February 13, 2019 Concentrating solar power (CSP), which has lagged in deployment behind photovoltaic solar, could play a bigger role by 2050 if the price of the technology could be halved, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under its SunShot Initiative, has set a target of reducing

By - Jim Vess

Coal and oil all but disappear from New England electricity generation

Energize Weekly, February 13, 2019 Oil and coal, once the dominant sources of electricity generation in New England, have all but disappeared, primarily replaced by natural gas, according to ISO New England, the region’s grid operator. Since 2000, coal’s share of energy production has dropped to 1 percent from 18 percent, and oil is now 1 percent compared to 22

By - Jim Vess

Increase in exports and prices can’t stop a fall in U.S. coal production and mine closures

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Coal production in the U.S. was down nearly 3 percent year-on-year to 755 million short tons in 2018, with mines continuing to close, despite an increase in prices and exports, according to federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Coal production slipped in three of the five major coal-producing basins as the Rocky Mountain region suffered

By - Jim Vess

Duke Energy adds 565 MW of solar in the Carolinas, plans another 680 MW in 2019

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Duke Energy installed 565 megawatts (MW) of solar in North and South Carolina in 2018, and the company says it has plans to roll out even more solar projects in 2019. The 2018 projects bring total solar capacity installed in the two states in the last four years to 2,500 MW, enough to power about

By - Jim Vess

Corporate purchases of clean energy soar to a new record in 2018

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Corporations bought a record 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2018, more than double the record set in 2017. Analyses by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables reported on the trend. Facebook, Google and Amazon continued to be the largest customers, accounting for a

By - Jim Vess

Renewable energy advances in the European Union as coal-fired generation continues to decline

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Renewable energy generation became cost competitive with coal in the European Union (EU) in 2018 and continued to increase its share of the continent’s electricity production, according to an analysis by two energy think tanks. The growth in renewables is coming at the expense of coal, and that is leading to a continued decline in

By - Jim Vess

New Jersey creates community solar pilot, a first step in a establishing a permanent program

Energize Weekly, January 30, 2019 The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has approved a three-year pilot for developing community solar projects, also known as solar gardens, which is seen as a key component in newly elected Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy agenda. The “Community Solar Pilot” will provide for up to 75 megawatts (MW) of solar installations in

By - Jim Vess

DOE announces $38 million program aimed at making coal-fired power plants more efficient

Energize Weekly, January 30, 2019 The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $38 million, cost-share program to support projects aimed at making the country’s coal-fired power plants more flexible and compatible with renewable energy.  The stated goal is to develop “enhancing technologies that improve the overall performance, reliability and flexibility of the nation’s existing coal-fired power plant fleet.” “Utilizing

By - Jim Vess

Led by wind and natural gas, 49,000 megawatts of new generation to come on line in 2019

Energize Weekly, January 30, 2019 New generation is slated to grow by 49,000 megawatts (MW) in 2019 while 8,050 MW of coal-fired units will be closed or converted to natural gas, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Wind will account for the largest portion of new generation at 22,475 MW—45 percent of all planned additions. The biggest of the wind

By - Jim Vess

Global clean energy investments fall in 2018 as solar takes a big hit

Energize Weekly, January 23, 2019 Global clean energy investments were down slightly in 2018 to $332 million, but it still marked the fifth year in a row with more than $300 billion in expenditures, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Investments were off 8 percent when compared to 2017, led by a fall in solar financing, which was down

By - Jim Vess

NY Gov. Cuomo proposes Green New Deal with $1.5 billion in energy grants

Energize Weekly, January 23, 2019 New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has begun to roll out specifics of his proposed “Green New Deal,” including $1.5 billion in grants for large-scale renewable energy projects and a $70 million fund to help communities absorb tax losses from shuttered coal-fired power plants. The programs were outlined in Cuomo’s State of the State address Jan.

By - Jim Vess

Utilities must redefine their relations with customers to deal with emerging issues, J.D. Power says

Energize Weekly, January 23, 2019 Utility companies need to redefine how they interact with their customers to deal with emerging issues, such as time-of-use rates, electric vehicles (EVs) and rooftop solar, according to an analysis by marketing research company J.D Power. “There is a need for traditional utilities to engage with their customers as things are happening,” Andrew Heath, senior

By - Jim Vess

Transportation bottlenecks pose a $2.1 billion risk to wind industry, Wood Mackenzie says

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 The wind industry’s practice of end-loading projects to the fourth quarter of each year could lead to serious bottlenecks and jeopardize some of the 23 gigawatts in the pipeline over the next two years, according to a Wood Mackenzie study. Nearly a quarter of the 23 gigawatts (GW) projected to be developed in the next

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired plants dominated 2018 new generating capacity, renewables set to rebound in 2019

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 New natural gas-fired generation capacity in 2018 accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total 24,808 megawatts (MW) installed for the year—and was double the amount of gas-fired capacity installed in 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The 18,550 MW of natural gas-fired capacity more than offset the 16,900 MW of coal-fired plants that

By - Jim Vess

EV sales set a record in 2018, almost doubling the number of electric vehicles sold

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 Electric vehicle (EV) sales soared in 2018, surpassing record-breaking 2017 by 81 percent with 361,307 vehicles sold, according to Inside EVs, a market-tracking website. December also set a monthly record with 49,900 plug-in vehicles sold, nearly double the number sold in December 2017. Each of the last three months of 2018 posted a record, beating

By - Jim Vess

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose across all sectors in 2018, Rhodium says

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions linked to energy use rose for the first time in three years in 2018—with all sectors from power generation to manufacturing to home heating—posting increases. There was a 3.4 percent increase in emissions, according to a study by the Rhodium Group, an energy and economic analytics consultant. “This marks the second

By - Jim Vess

Natural disasters caused $160 billion in damages in 2018 with about half covered by insurers

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 Natural disasters worldwide caused $160 billion in damage and killed 10,400 people in 2018, making it the fourth mostly costly year for the insurance industry since 1980, according to the international insurer Swiss Re Group. “The indications at the start of 2018 were that it would be a more moderate year,” Petra Löw, a Swiss

By - Jim Vess

Floating solar in U.S. reservoirs could produce 10 percent of the nation’s electricity

Energize Weekly, January 9, 2019 Floating solar panels on 24,000 man-made reservoirs in the U.S. could generate 10 percent of the nation’s electricity and avoid gobbling up 8,100 square miles of land with ground installations. One of the challenges with large-scale deployment of wind and solar generation is the land requirements but shifting to floating photovoltaics (PV) could offer one

By - Jim Vess

Texas could generate almost all its electricity with wind, solar and very little storage, study says

Energize Weekly, January 9, 2019 Texas—by taking advantage of its geographical diversity—could deploy enough wind and solar generation to meet the state’s electricity demand with little storage or fossil fuel backup, according to Rice University researchers. “One way to reduce the need for costly storage and for polluting fossil generation is to deploy wind and solar capacity in a way

By - Jim Vess

Market pressure, state and local governments pushing marijuana growers to be more energy efficient

Energize Weekly, January 9, 2019 Legal marijuana cultivation—which is spreading across the county—is one of the most energy-intensive economic activities and is spurring the industry, as well as state and local governments, to seek ways to make grow operations more efficient. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Others, notable New York

By - Jim Vess

Wind, solar and storage could competitively provide 70 percent of Minnesota’s electricity by 2050, study says

Energize Weekly, January 2, 2019 Minnesota can economically reach a mix of 70 percent wind and solar electric generation with storage by 2050, according to a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored report. The report done by Clean Power Research for MN Solar Pathways, a group of non-profit clean energy advocacy organizations and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Clean Power developed a

By - Jim Vess

Drought leads to higher carbon emissions from utilities in the West, study finds

Energize Weekly, January 2, 2019 Drought across the West between 2001 and 2015 led to reduced hydropower and a 10 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions as utilities shifted to fossil fuel generation, according to a study by Stanford University researchers. In total, drought conditions led to 100 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted during the 15-year period

By - Jim Vess

States begin to allow utilities to included energy efficiency programs in their rate base

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 New types of incentives are being added by states to the quiver programs to promote energy efficiency among utilities, according to a survey by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), a non-profit advocacy group. The council first surveyed state energy efficiency programs in 2015 and it did so again this year. It

By - Jim Vess

Global coal consumption rises, division grows between coal-free and coal-burning regions

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 Global coal consumption is set to rise for the second consecutive year in 2018 and demand is projected to be stable over the next five years—as the world divides between coal-free and coal-burning regions, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) market forecast. After two years of decline, coal demand was up 1 percent in

By - Jim Vess

Most regions can adapt to coal and nuclear plant closures, not the West and Central Plains, NERC says

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 The rapid retirement of coal-fired and nuclear power plants can be absorbed by most of the nation, but could stress grids in the Central Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountain region and the coastal Southeast, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC). NERC, the non-profit regulatory authority overseeing electric reliability in the U.S. and Canada,

By - Jim Vess

New York sets goal of carbon-free electricity by 2050 as clean energy pace picks up

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a target of net-zero-carbon electricity generation by 2040, as a broad array of clean energy initiatives continue to move forward in the state. “The federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government’s scientific report,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York

By - Jim Vess

Trump tariffs take a bite out of U.S. solar market, but future prospects still appear bright

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 The Trump administration solar panel tariffs have taken a bite out of the market with third quarter 2018 installations down 15 percent year over year and additions of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) cells falling below 1 gigawatt (GW) for first time since 2015. The growth rate for 2018 compared to 2017 is projected to be flat

By - Jim Vess

Washington clean energy plan ends coal-fired generation, looks to electrify transportation

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has unveiled a legislative package aimed at reducing the state’s carbon emissions by 25 percent over 1990 levels, led by phasing out fossil-fuel electricity generation by 2035. The plan focuses in five initiatives: 100 percent clean energy by 2045, moving to electric transportation, a clean fuel standard, constructing energy efficient buildings

By - Jim Vess

U.S. grid unprepared for a catastrophic power outage, says federal infrastructure panel

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 The plans to protect and respond to a U.S. grid power failure would be “outmatched” by a catastrophic outage, according to a study by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). The council, which advises the president, recommended a series of initiatives, ranging from action by the National Security Council to hardening distribution lines to homes.

By - Jim Vess

Coal prices are competitive, but it isn’t leading to more coal-fired power in the PJM

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 A rise in natural gas prices has made coal more competitive, but in the PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, the usual utility switching to the cheapest fuel has been hamstrung by the closure of mines and coal-fired units. “Conventional wisdom in PJM was that at times of high demand during the winter, coal generation

By - Jim Vess

U.S. coal consumption hits a 39-year low, coal-fired power plant closures continue

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 U.S. coal consumption in 2018 is projected by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) to fall to 691 million short tons—a 4 percent drop from 2017 and the lowest level in 39 years. “The decline in coal consumption since 2007 is the result of both the retirements of coal-fired power plants and the decreases in

By - Jim Vess

PacifiCorp says it could save money closing 13 of its 22 coal-fired generating units

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 The majority of PacifiCorp’s 22 coal-fired units are more expensive to run that other power market options, the company said in a resource analysis. A total of $586 million could be saved by closing 13 units by 2022, according to the analysis, which is part of the utility’s bi-annual integrated resource planning. Running the plants

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy sets a zero-carbon electricity target for 2050, with an 80 percent cut in emissions by 2030

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 Xcel Energy has set a goal of producing 100 percent “carbon-free” electricity by 2050—making it the first large U.S. utility to set a net-zero carbon standard. The investor-owned utility, which operates in eight western and midwestern states, has set a target of an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, from 2005 levels, by 2030 and

By - Jim Vess

Global carbon emissions rise, cutting them will be a challenge, studies find

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, driven by increased fossil fuel consumption, jumped in 2018. Even with major initiatives to curb carbon, fossil fuels are likely to hold a dominant share of energy production through 2040, according to a series of new studies. Carbon emissions worldwide rose 2.7 percent in 2018, compared to 1.6 percent in

By - Jim Vess

Japan is bringing nuclear units closed after Fukushima accident back online

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Japan is slowly bringing online nuclear power units, which were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011. In 2018, five units were restarted, raising the total operating units to nine. In 2013, Japan suspended its nuclear fleet—20 nuclear plants with 54 units—for mandatory safety checks and upgrades after Fukushima. In March

By - Jim Vess

New England set to meet winter electricity generation demands, though fuel issues linger

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 New England’s power grid operator—after a cold snap last winter taxed generating capacity—has put in place new programs and says it expects to have the resources to meet demand. Still, fuel constraints could pose a risk. ISO New England (ISO-NE) said in its winter outlook that it expects consumer demand to peak a 20,357 megawatts

By - Jim Vess

Coal-fired power plants quickly becoming uneconomical around the world, Carbon Tracker says

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Coal-fired power plants around the world are quickly becoming unprofitable, with 42 percent already operating in the red—a number that is projected to grow to 72 percent by 2040, according to Carbon Tracker. “Over the long-term coal power will become a net liability,” said the London-based financial think tank, which is focused on clean energy

By - Jim Vess

National climate assessment sees challenges in electric generation and higher demand

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Climate change poses the dual hazard of increasing electricity demand while reducing generating efficiency, as well as producing severe weather that can damage the grid, according to a federal assessment of impacts of climate change. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, a 1,600-page analysis complied by 13 federal agencies, covers a wide range of potential impacts,

By - Jim Vess

Carbon emissions in heavy industry and transport could be could to zero by 2060, study says

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 Heavy industry carbon emissions—less of a focus and harder to curb than the power sector’s—could be reduced to zero by 2060 at cost of just a fraction of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a new study by the nonprofit Energy Transitions Commission. The challenge in reducing industrial and transportation carbon emissions is that

By - Jim Vess

Demand response programs providing U.S. utilities with 18.3 gigawatts of capacity

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 The demand response programs of the major U.S. utilities, designed to reduce peak demand, tallied 18.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2017, with more than half of it dispatchable, according to an industry survey. The 2018 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot, which covers 155 utilities, with about 62 percent of the country’s utility customers, was

By - Jim Vess

New York set to spend $250 million on a statewide EV charging program

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 New York State plans to spend $250 million by 2025 on electric vehicle (EV) charging stations—the first step broad program to promote EVs as part of a plan to cut carbon emissions. The New York Power Authority announced it would install 200 charging stations under the plan’s first phase and the authority said it had

By - Jim Vess

Carbon capture technology success in cost and performance have been elusive, study says

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 Carbon capture technologies, after 15 years of research and development, remain expensive and technologically challenged and are rapidly being priced-out by renewable energy generation and natural gas, according to an Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report. “Billions of dollars have been spent for carbon capture research and development in North America, and

By - Jim Vess

AEP’s $33 billion capital improvement plan focuses on transmission and distribution

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to invest $33 billion in capital projects between 2019 and 2023 with three-quarters of the money focused on transmission and distribution, the company said. The company will also spend $2.7 billion on renewable generation and another $2.2 billion on competitively bid contracted renewable projects. “AEP’s capital investments over the

By - Jim Vess

Texas sets a record for electricity generated from wind turbines at 17,920 MW

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Texas—the nation’s leader in wind generation—set an output record of 17,920 megawatts (MW) the afternoon of Nov. 12, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Driven by sustained winds of 18 miles per hour (mph) with gusts up to 36 mph, measured at San Angelo, the state’s 12,500 turbines provided about 40 percent

By - Jim Vess

Thin-film solar can grow in high-value markets like aerospace and building materials, NREL study says

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Silicon solar cells account for 95 percent of the global market, but there are potentially multi-billion dollar markets for flexible, thin-film cells, according to an analysis by researchers at the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “Multiple markets are emerging for renewable, low-cost power generation including aerospace and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), portable charging, micro-integrated

By - Jim Vess

Sunrun sets a record for installations in Q3, but its stock slides on a $2.9 million loss

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 Sunrun, the country’s largest solar installer in 2017, set a record in the third quarter of 2018 with 100 megawatts of installations, but a $2.9 million loss for the period sent its stock plunging. The 100 MW—13,000 solar arrays—surpassed the previous record of 91 MW, set in the second quarter of 2018. The company said

By - Jim Vess

Lazard analysis shows wind and solar becoming the cheapest new generating capacity

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 The cost of building and running wind and utility-scale solar projects is now beginning to undercut the major forms of baseload generation—natural gas, coal and nuclear, according to analysis by the financial consulting firm Lazard Ltd. Lazard’s 12th annual “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE) analysis, released Nov. 8, for the first time shows large-scale wind

By - Jim Vess

PJM could face reliability risks in early 2020s if more coal and nuclear generation is retired

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, can manage the announced closures of coal and nuclear plants even in the face of severe weather—but with the loss of additional generation, “the system may be at risk.” The assessment comes from the PJM’s Fuel Security Analysis released Nov. 1, which was done as its grid, which

By - Jim Vess

U.S. wind turbine market sets construction and sales records in the third quarter of 2018

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The U.S. wind industry installed 612 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity during the third quarter of 2018, a 15 percent increase over the third quarter of 2017, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) quarterly market report. Project construction activity in the third quarter also set a new record with a total

By - Jim Vess

Record number of coal plants to close in 2018 as utility industry carbon emissions drop

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The U.S. power sector will close a record 15.4 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants in 2018, as federal data shows a steady, long-term drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the sector. An assessment by the non-profit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) projects the retirement of 44 units at 22 plants in

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