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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By - Jim Vess

PJM has had the biggest growth in natural gas-fired generation of any U.S. market

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. wholesale electricity market, has in the last five years added the most natural gas-fired capacity of any grid in the country, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). PJM has seen the closure or announced closure of coal-fired and nuclear plants on its grid, while steadily adding natural

By - Jim Vess

Google finds matching carbon-free energy to its data centers’ round-the-clock demand a challenge

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 Google has been the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, buying enough to cover all of its total global consumption. Now it wants to go further matching carbon-free energy to its demand for every hour of every day. One of the biggest challenges of renewable generation is providing round-the-clock reliability, particularly for the two

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas and coal-fired electric generation fell in 2017 while renewable generation rose

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 Natural gas-fired electric generation fell a record 7.7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, and coal-fired generation was down 2.5 percent, marking the first time in a decade both electricity sources declined—at the same time renewable electricity hit a record, according to the federal Energy Information Association (EIA). Total U.S. net electricity generation

By - Jim Vess

Small reactors are the only viable path forward for nuclear energy, policy groups say

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 In order for the nuclear energy industry to survive it must move in a new—small is beautiful—direction with the help of revised federal policies and financial support, according to a new paper from the Breakthrough Institute, R Street Institute and ClearPath. The solution proposed by the three right-of-center think tanks is small reactors, each no

By - Jim Vess

Financing the cost of closing coal-fired power plants is a key to a clean energy transition, RMI says

Energize Weekly, September 26, 2018 A major obstacle in the transition from coal-fired power plants to cleaner energy generation is the “specter of financial losses” utility companies face in closing those plants. Solving that problem is a key to a quicker energy transition, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). In “Managing the Coal Capital Transition,” the RMI attempts to

By - Jim Vess

While most states still depend on fossil fuel-fired electricity generation, big shifts are underway

Energize Weekly, September 19, 2018 Fossil fuels continue to be the main source for generating electricity in more than two-thirds of the country, but there continues to be a shift away from coal and natural gas, with a slight uptick in nuclear generation and hydropower, according to figures from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Coal-fired power plants provided the

By - Jim Vess

Carbon Tracker says fossil fuel demand peaks in 2020, spurred by rapid market transformation

Energize Weekly, September 19, 2018 Demand for fossil fuels will peak in the 2020s, as market competition, technological innovation and shifts in energy transform the market and create financial risk, according to a Carbon Tracker analysis. The projections by the London-based energy think tank are aggressively predicting a peak at least a decade ahead of other forecasts. “We have seen

By - Jim Vess

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions dropped in 2017 as gas and coal use dipped

Energize Weekly, September 12, 2018 Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped slightly in 2017 due to a combination of weather conditions, energy efficiencies and the utility industry’s steady march away from burning coal, according to federal data. Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) linked to energy activity in 2017 dipped by just less than 1 percent to 5.14 billion

By - Jim Vess

Dry cooling systems offering an alternative to power plants big demand for water, EIA says

Energize Weekly, September 5, 2018 Power generation is one of the biggest consumers of water—used for cooling—in the U.S., but a small, though increasing number of plants are using dry cooling technology, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Dry-cooled and hybrid plants, which use both water and air cooling, account for only 3 percent of current steam-powered generating

By - Jim Vess

FirstEnergy plans to close four fossil fuel-fired power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Energize Weekly, September 5, 2018 FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) announced Aug. 29 that it plans to shutter four fossil fuel-fired power plants with a total of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity by 2022. “FES is closing the plants due to a market environment that fails to adequately compensate generators for the resiliency and fuel-security attributes that the plants provide,” the

By - Jim Vess

Study says shift from coal to renewables could save western co-ops $600 million

Energize Weekly, August 29, 2018 A switch from coal-fired generation to a mix anchored by low-cost wind and solar could save the rural electricity cooperatives served by one western generation and transmission association $600 million by 2030, according to analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). RMI, a non-profit energy consultant, used the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which serves

By - Jim Vess

Industrial air pollution cut 60 percent as a result of federal clean air rules

Energize Weekly, August 22, 2018 Air pollution from U.S. manufacturing fell by 60 percent between 1990 and 2008 even as industrial output increased by 30 percent as a result of environmental laws and regulations, according to a study by University of California-Berkeley economists. The researchers analyzed newly available data on 1,400 products produced by U.S. factories between 1990 and 2008.

By - Jim Vess

Coal consumption by U.S. utility industry hit a 34-year low in 2017

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 U.S. coal consumption for electricity generation slipped to its lowest level in 34 years in 2017, continuing a four-year skid, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The utility industry used 661 million short tons of coal in 2017, as consumption and shipments by all modes of transport declined. Almost 70 percent the power-sector

By - Jim Vess

A third of gas-fired plants on the California grid could be closed without a reliability impact, study says

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 Nearly a third of the natural gas-fired power plants on the California grid could be retired without impairing reliability, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). There are 89 natural gas plants on the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) grid. Modeling by the UCS, a non-profit environmental group, found that 28

By - Jim Vess

Utility industry urges EPA to keep mercury emissions rule in place and speed reviews

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 The electricity power industry—from cooperatives to municipality utilities to investor-owned utilities—is urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep in place the mercury pollution rules it had for years opposed. The industry had launched legal challenges of the 2012 rule to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, but in 2015, the Supreme Court,

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired generation shoulders the biggest load during summer heat

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 The sizzling summer that is rolling across the country is being cooled by natural gas, which is supplying the biggest share of electricity generation, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA projects that natural gas-fired generation will supply 37 percent of the electricity from June to August, near the record set in

By - Jim Vess

World’s biggest reinsurer will no longer deal with companies with high exposure to coal

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 Swiss Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, said that it will no longer provide services to companies with a more than 30 percent exposure to thermal coal. The thermal coal policy applies to existing and new thermal coal mines and power plants, and will be implemented across all lines of business, the insurer said. These companies

By - Jim Vess

Nation’s oldest nuclear power plant to close, but total decommissioning will take 60 years

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, the oldest operating nuclear facility in the nation, will shut down in September and be decommissioned at a cost of $1.4 billion. Oyster Creek began operations on Dec. 1, 1969, and is to close after more than 48 years on Sept. 17, 2018. While the plant will shut down

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear industry faces a bleak future without new technology or market changes, study says

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 The U.S. nuclear industry faces a bleak future with existing plants uncompetitive in wholesale electricity markets and no technological relief likely for another 50 years, according to analysis by university researchers. “For entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon

By - Jim Vess

Fossil fuel consumption in the power sector falls to a 23-year low in 2017

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 The power sector’s consumption of fossil fuels dropped in 2017 to levels not seen since 1994, as a result of closing aging coal plants and adding more efficient natural gas turbines, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). For the last four years, fossil fuel use has dropped steadily for the sector sliding to

By - Jim Vess

Falling renewable energy prices could make $112 billion in gas-fired generation a stranded asset, RMI study says

Energize Weekly, May 30, 2018 Coal-fired generation is being supplanted, for the most part, by cheaper natural gas turbines with $112 billion in new gas-fired power plants proposed or under construction, but those plants could face the same market fate as coal, according to an analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The analysis by RMI, an independent energy consultant,

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy plan to capture stranded assets from coal-fired plant challenged at PUC

Energize Weekly, May 23, 2018 An Xcel Energy proposal to close two Colorado coal-fired power plants as part of a plan to move to 55 percent renewable power by 2026 has drawn wide support, but how the closure is to be paid for has become a bone of contention. The price tag for shutting the 660 megawatts (MW) at the

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired set to dominate 2018 electricity generation additions, EIA says

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018 Almost 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric-generating capacity is set to come online in 2018—the most in a decade, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas-fired generation will account for two-thirds of the new capacity, a sharp difference from 2017 when renewable energy generation was 55 percent of that year’s 21 GW

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear needs financial support to survive, and some states are already heeding the call

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018 Nuclear power plants under pressure from market forces are facing closures, but states with high concentrations of nuclear power are stepping in to bolster these generators, and there may be additional policy initiatives that can be taken, according to new studies. “Nuclear power is responsible for around 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation and more

By - Jim Vess

PJM says proposed closing of FirstEnergy nuclear plants will not impact grid reliability

Energize Weekly, May 9, 2018 PJM Interconnection, the operator of the grid and wholesale electric market covering portions of the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, said that the proposed closing of three nuclear power plants in its system will not threaten grid stability. FirstEnergy said it will close two financially struggling nuclear plants in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania—a total of

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear and coal-fired power plant closures offer an expanded market for natural gas

Energize Weekly, May 2, 2018 A string of announced closings for nuclear and coal-fired power plants is part of a trend that is offering a big market for natural gas, according to an analysis by energy consultant BTU Analytics. In March, FirstEnergy announced that it would close three nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with about 4,000 megawatts (MW)

By - Jim Vess

More than half of public power coal-fired plants remain competitive, Moody’s analysis says

Energize Weekly, May 2, 2018 A little more than half of the coal-fired power plants operated by public power utilities and generation and transmission cooperatives are economically competitive, though several are at risk, according to Moody’s Investor Service analysis. “Coal-fired generation in the U.S. remains under pressure due to coal’s lack of competitiveness against natural gas and even renewable energy

By - Jim Vess

Wind and solar plus storage are challenging fossil fuels worldwide, Bloomberg says

Energize Weekly, April 11, 2018 Coal and natural gas are being hard pressed to compete as the comparative cost of wind, solar and battery storage continue to fall and in concert, can meet the power grid’s key needs, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) study. “Fossil fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all three roles it

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas and coal-fired electric generation fell in 2017 while renewable generation increased

Energize Weekly, March 28, 2018 Natural gas-fired electric generation fell a record 7.7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, and coal-fired electricity was down 2.5 percent, marking the first time in a decade both electricity sources declined—at the same time renewable electricity hit a record, according to the federal Energy Information Association (EIA). Total U.S. net electricity generation

By - Jim Vess

Renewable generation challenges nuclear as electricity got cleaner in 2017

Energize Weekly, February 21, 2018 The restructuring of the U.S. electricity generation portfolio continued in 2017 with renewable sources coming close to nuclear, while reductions in natural gas and coal made the total kilowatt-hours consumed by Americans cleaner, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Renewable generation was up 14 percent to 717 terawatt-hours (TWhs) in 2017 compared to 2016. Renewables

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