Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • Weekend Video: Hawking On Trump’s Misguided Climate Policy
  • Weekend Video: Thinking About Energy Efficiency
  • Weekend Video: Why Rural America Loves Wind

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-20,000 Scientists Have Signed ‘Letter To Humanity’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The World Transition To New Energy Explained
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-French Wind Proves Huge Value To Grid
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Egypt Fires Up $2.8BIL Solar Project


  • TTTA Thursday-Arnold To Sue Big Oil for Murder By Climate Change
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Grows On, With Big Jump By Community Solar
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind Is The Cleanest Safest New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Plug-In Cars Are The Cleanest Driving

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Details Of California’s Transportation Electrification Revolution
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Customer Demand And Economics Move Rural Co-ops To New Energy

  • TODAY’S STUDY: U.S. New Energy Now
  • QUICK NEWS, March 13: It’s Official – Feds Find Humans Are Causing Climate To Drastically Change; New Energy Is Winning In The Free Market; Big $$$ Goes To MA Ocean Wind Jobs
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart




      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, March 20:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Meet Solar’s Duck Curve
  • QUICK NEWS, March 20: The Big Climate Change Legal Battle Looming; Three Solar Buys To Look At; New Wind Technologies To Protect Wildlife

    Tuesday, March 20, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Meet Solar’s Duck Curve

    Ten Years of Analyzing the Duck Chart; How an NREL Discovery in 2008 Is Helping Enable More Solar on the Grid Today

    February 26, 2018 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    In February 2008, a team of NREL analysts led by Paul Denholm published a paperPDF that examined how to plan for future large-scale integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation on the electric grid. They observed a unique change in the shape of the electric load met by conventional power plants when increasing levels of PV are added to the system—and thus identified the earliest version of what was later named the “duck curve” by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

    Since its discovery, the duck curve has become an emblem of the challenges faced by power system operators when integrating variable renewables on the grid. It highlights concerns that the conventional power system will be unable to accommodate the ramp rate and range needed to fully utilize solar energy. On days characterized by the duck shape—in particular, during sunny spring afternoons when demand is low and solar generation is high—system operators could actually have to turn off, or curtail, some of the solar power, because conventional plants can’t be stopped and started quickly enough to accommodate it. That could mean higher costs—and ultimately limit PV’s environmental benefits.

    The chart underscores the need to fully integrate distributed resources into grid system planning and operations to allow maximum use of variable generation. And today, with more state and local governments looking at policies that increase their use of advanced energy technologies—some aiming for as much as 100% electricity from renewables—finding ways to mitigate the duck is more important than ever. Fortunately, NREL has continued to develop analyses and tools to help grid system planners and operators figure out how to address this challenge.

    Here’s a recap of the history of the duck chart, and what NREL is doing today to enable more solar to be integrated on the grid.

    2008: NREL Releases Foundational Solar Grid Integration Analysis

    The 2008 NREL report was one in a series of large-scale renewable integration analyses published by the lab over the last decade. In the early 2000s, much of the lab’s grid integration analysis work was focused on wind power, as the cost of solar was so high that few utilities considered it a viable option for large-scale deployment. But NREL analysts saw the potential for dramatic solar cost reductions, and believed it was important to examine the implications of achieving such cost reductions on deployment and systems operation.

    Projecting significant levels of PV deployment in the late 2010s to early 2020s, the NREL team used a production cost modeling approach to simulate a series of PV penetrations in which up to 10% of the entire U.S. Western Interconnection’s annual electrical energy is derived from PV—producing the chart shown above for California’s power system.

    2013: CAISO Gives the Duck Chart Its Name (and Fame)

    Fast forward a few years, and as NREL projected, costs for solar declined rapidly. As a result, PV was deployed more widely, and system operators became increasingly concerned about how solar might impact the grid.

    In 2010, CAISO began projecting the impacts of increased PV on net load (or the forecasted electric load minus the expected supply of solar power) on its system through the year 2020. In 2013, CAISO produced a chart strikingly similar to NREL’s 2008 chart—and noticing its resemblance to the profile of a duck, the term “duck curve” was born.

    The moniker quickly gained traction in the industry, especially with emerging energy and environmental policy initiatives pushing for higher levels of solar PV deployment. As a result, CAISO and other system operators began to identify new operating practices that would be able to balance supply and demand with high levels of renewable generation. No longer was utility-scale solar deployment a pipe dream: system operators were now acknowledging the need to plan for increasing amounts of PV in the near future, with California leading the charge.

    Today: NREL Continues to Find Solutions to the Duck

    Today, NREL analysis is continuing to make managing the duck curve easier. To help power system planners and operators across the nation make the most of available renewable resources, NREL analysts are now studying how different combinations of supply- and demand-side options can allow greater system reliability and flexibility with high penetrations of variable generation.

    For example, this November 2015 NREL paperPDF explored the duck chart in detail, and suggested two ways to change system planning and operational practices to re-shape the curve and allow more PV on the grid. The first is to "fatten" the duck, growing its belly by increasing the flexibility of the power system—which means changing operational practices to enable more frequent power plant cycling, starts and stops, and so on. The second is to "flatten" the duck, shrinking its belly by shifting supply and demand so solar can meet parts of the load that wouldn’t normally be provided in the middle of the day. Flattening the duck typically involves adding energy storage or demand response—both options that are already being deployed in various locations around the United States. So fear not: the duck curve doesn’t spell doom for variable renewables. In the U.S., PV deployment is approaching the highest levels of solar studied in the 2008 report by Denholm et al. And thanks to more than 10 years of forward-looking grid integration analyses from NREL, grid planners and operators have access to a wealth of data, analysis, and tools to help get their proverbial ducks in row to manage it.

    Want to learn more about what NREL’s doing to help utilities integrate ever-larger quantities of variable renewables? Other recent NREL research goes into further detail on specific solutions to manage the duck—from flexible coalPDF to improved forecasting approaches to getting essential reliability services from PV

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    QUICK NEWS, March 20: The Big Climate Change Legal Battle Looming; Three Solar Buys To Look At; New Wind Technologies To Protect Wildlife

    The Big Climate Change Legal Battle Looming Big oil faces big test in climate-change court showdown with SF, Oakland

    Kurtis Alexander, March 19, 2018 (San Francisco Chronicle)

    “A San Francisco judge who must decide whether to hold the world’s largest oil companies responsible for global warming is ordering up what many are calling the most comprehensive, and unusual, debate on climate change that the courts have seen…Fossil-fuel corporations including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell are scheduled to present their views on climate science in federal court [March 21] alongside attorneys for San Francisco and Oakland. The two cities are among several communities suing the oil giants for their alleged role in sea- level rise...U.S. District Judge William Alsup has given both sides eight questions to answer…[that] cover the basics of climate change and the latest scientific findings on what’s driving the phenomenon…Alsup appears to be searching for [ways to put on the oil companies on the record that climate change is happening and what is causing it. The cities] argue that the extraction and production of fossil fuels has heated the planet and begun lifting ocean levels above roads, homes and utilities’ infrastructure…[They] also claim that the oil and gas industries knew of the harm they were causing but sought to cover it up, much the way tobacco firms undermined research into lung cancer in past decades…” click here for more

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    Three Solar Buys To Look At 3 Growth Stocks in Solar Energy; Growth isn't equally distributed in the solar energy industry and there are three companies that stand out from the competition, each in their own way.

    Travis Hoium, March 19, 2018 (Motley Fool)

    “The solar energy industry is on a massive growth swing, increasing installations from 7.7 GW to over 100 GW annually over the past decade…Three companies that I think have the right strategy behind them and growth ahead of them in 2018 are SolarEdge Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:SEDG), SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR), and Vivint Solar Inc (NYSE:VSLR)…[SolarEdge has] arguably been the best value creator for investors over the last few years…[R]evenue has nearly tripled since 2014 and it has generated consistent profits…[SunPower] finally seems to have a strategy it can grow with long term…Residential solar has stagnated in the U.S., but that doesn't mean Vivint Solar isn't going to grow significantly in 2018. Growth will be driven by a transition from solar leases…to cash and conventional loan sales, where cash is received upfront and the developer no longer owns the panels themselves. The financial impact is that Vivint Solar's revenue can grow even if megawatts installed stay flat…[I]nvestors should keep in mind that growth hasn't always been the only measure of value creation to pay attention to in the solar industry long term. Keep an eye on margins and profitability…” click here for more

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    New Wind Technologies To Protect Wildlife New deterrent system may help prevent eagle deaths caused by wind turbines

    Kale Williams, March 19, 2018 (The Oregonian)

    “Researchers at Oregon State University are working on a system [developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy that] uses a vibration sensor at the base of the blade, an acoustic sensor on the generator housing and a camera on the base of the tower…[T]he camera will be able to detect when a bird is approaching, determine [the type of bird,] and…the computer would trigger a deterrent in the form of a brightly colored facsimile of a person designed to play into [the bird’s] aversion to human beings…To test the system, [the researchers] used a compressed air launcher to fire tennis balls at wind turbine blades equipped with the sensors…When a strike is detected, video recordings of the moment of impact can be analyzed to determine exactly what hit the blade [to improve the detector’s] success rate…” click here for more

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    Monday, March 19, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The South Lets The Sun In

    Solar In The Southeast 2017 Annual Report

    Bryan Jacob, March 2018 (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy)

    Executive Summary


    Large utilities exhibiting solar leadership in 2017 include: Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Georgia Power – each with more than 300 watts of solar per customer (W/C). Some smaller utilities demonstrate exemplary solar watts per customer ratios; examples: Cobb EMC (635 W/C) and Mississippi Power (455 W/C). Several large utilities still operate less than 100 watts of solar per customer. Alabama Power customers, on average, were served by just 7 watts per customer in 2017.


    Leading states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have exhibited strong public policy direction. Certain states, like Tennessee and Alabama, lack supportive public policies, leaving those states with projections at less than half of the region average through 2021.

    Rpaid Growth

    The Southeast has tremendous solar potential (second only to the desert southwest) and has been experiencing near exponential solar growth for the last five years. The region will have over 10,000 MW by 2019 -- and approximately 15,000 MW by 2021.

    Identifying Leaders

    Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas and Georgia Power are the current utility leaders on solar power. Ranking utilities by watts per customer (W/C) offers an unbiased identification of leaders in the southeast solar market. South Carolina Electric & Gas and Tampa Electric are the most notable "SunRisers" demonstrating leading levels of planned solar growth.

    Utility-Scale Dominance

    Solar growth has been dominated by utility-scale projects. Unlike market regions that offer customers choice in power supplies, monopoly utilities in the Southeast control nearly all solar development. In several states, utilities can and do impose inefficient or unnecessary constraints on distributed generation.


    Three major utility systems - Tennessee Valley Authority, Santee Cooper, and Seminole Electric Cooperative - are sticking with outdated plans with low levels of solar. For example, the monopolistic behavior of TVA is restricting solar choice across the Tennessee Valley.

    Southeast Solar Capacity Forecast Exponential Growth Since 2012

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity nearly doubled each year from less than 200 MW in 2012 to almost 3,000 MW in 2016.

    Growth Continues

    From 6,000 MW in 2017, new projects will take solar to 10,000 MW in 2019. Based on utility and other industry forecasts, SACE anticipates 15,000 MW by 2021. Much of this growth represents existing contracts and commitments that remain highly certain.

    Utility-Scale Solar Dominates

    Utility-scale solar is favored by an economic advantage, policies, and discretionary utility practices that discourage customer-sited solar (“behind the meter”). Most utility-scale systems are in excess of 5 MW, many exceed 50 MW.

    Distributed Solar Projects Lags

    Despite high customer interest, less growth is predicted for smaller residential rooftop and commercial customer-sited solar accounted via net metering or related billing practices.

    Limited Grid Impacts

    Even with 15,000 MW in 2021, the corresponding solar generation is less than 3% of retail sales, considerably below levels that could trigger changes in grid operation practices.

    Large Utility System Rankings

    The two leading utilities, Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC), have been propelled by North Carolina laws along with favorable regulatory terms required by the North Carolina Utilities Commission for independent power providers. Those utilities, along with South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), have also supported solar in response to a South Carolina law which enabled new solar programs in the Palmetto state. Georgia Power’s solar programs were induced by orders of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). Georgia Power has responded with effective market procurement and contracting practices (including siting at military bases). The future of solar is bright across most of the Southeast. Solar will more than double on average, driven by utilities like Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric. Each of these Florida utilities announced solar expansion plans in 2017 that will propel them toward the top of the list in the coming years. However, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Santee Cooper, and Seminole Electric Cooperative are not forecast to add solar at a significant pace. Florida Power & Light (owned by NextEra) plans additional solar, but at a slower pace than rival Florida utilities. These utilities operate in a public policy vacuum and the slow pace of solar reflects outdated thinking within the utilities’ management. The 13 largest utility systems in the Southeast each serve more than 500k customers. This includes individual investor owned utilities like Georgia Power, as well as the combination of utilities organized into cooperatives like Oglethorpe and the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority. Also studied, but not exceeding the 500k customer benchmark are several regional municipal power agencies.

    Forecast For Select Utility Systems…Duke Energy Leads The Southeast…Southern Company…Florida Power & Light…Oglethorpe Power…Tennessee Valley Authority…

    Southeast Solar Momentum: Sunrisers Sunrisers

    The top 7 utilities with the highest forecast solar watts per customer growth operate in four different states, demonstrating solar power appeal throughout the region. Duke Energy Progress (DEP) already exhibits the highest watts per customer ratio in the Southeast, and it will more than double that by 2021. North Carolina’s new law (HB 589) is contributing to that continued growth. South Carolina’s Act 236 is also a factor for DEP as well as South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G). Price decreases for solar modules and other components have created a new economic reality for solar, driving growth across the Southeast.

    Forecast For Southeast States

    North Carolina is projected to remain the southeast leader in solar capacity and among the highest in the country (currently #2).1 Florida utilities have announced significant plans for growth in solar over the next 6 years. Georgia continues steady progress with utility-scale solar development. Alabama and Mississippi have been identified recently among the fastest growing solar states in the country2 albeit with a rather small base. Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina are the only states projecting an appreciable amount of small-scale distributed solar…Tennessee, once an early leader in small-scale, distributed solar, has relinquished that leadership posture and demonstrates limited interest to advance solar at any scale…

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    QUICK NEWS, March 19: Gotta Get Serious About New Energy; Big Money Bets Big On Plug-In Cars; Hollywoodland’s 100% New Energy Pitch

    Gotta Get Serious About New Energy We'll Need Another 363 Years to Completely Revolutionise Earth's Energy Systems; But we're not giving up.

    David Nield, 17 March 2018 (ScienceAlert)

    “…[W]e need a complete energy overhaul by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change, but at our current rate of progress…it's going to take another 363 years [according to new research]…Rather than adding 1,100 megawatts of clean energy a day, we've managed an average of just 151 megawatts…Replacing an entire planet's energy network is costly and time-consuming, not to mention politically and technically challenging…Stopping energy production from fossil fuels tomorrow would be fantastic from an environmental standpoint – but it would also leave a lot of people out of work, send plenty of companies to bankruptcy, and leave many areas without power…In other words, shifting to better energy solutions is complicated…Part of the issue is that a lot of the effects of global warming will be delayed: by the time rising sea levels, uninhabitable regions, and mass migration are right in front of us, it'll be too late to make the necessary changes…There is some hope: the progress we're making on electrifying heat production [is good and]… governments around the world are waking up to the seriousness of the problem…The opportunity to reach the necessary energy goals by 2050 may have passed, but any step in the right direction…is going to help pull us away from the worst-case scenarios…” click here for more

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    Big Money Bets Big On Plug-In Cars Over $1 Billion Bet on Electric Car Batteries Already This Year; Venture capital investment in energy storage has already doubled last year's total.

    Dave Partosiak, March 18, 2018 (The Drive)

    “…[This year alone, venture capital firms have poured in a record $1 billion into battery technology…[doubling] what firms invested last year…[China’s Farasis raised] $790 million in an agreement with one of China’s largest auto manufacturers, BAIC, to supply] 1 million battery packs over the next five years…This year, the number of investments in battery companies from venture capitalists is likely to hit 60, up from 37 last year. The first billion dollars have only been spread across 15 companies…[L]arger automotive manufacturers have been creating their own venture capital firms to invest in battery technology…[Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s new $1 billion venture capital fund will] invest $200 million a year over the next five years…A lot of this money is going into research for alternative materials…” click here for more

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    Hollywoodland’s 100% New Energy Pitch Study shows Los Angeles can reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 with help from solar

    Kathie Zip, March 8, 2018 (Solar Power World)

    “…[W]ith a combination of new wind and solar sources, investments in storage and energy efficiency and smart management of the grid, the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water (LADWP) can achieve a 100% clean energy system by 2030…[A] transition to an electricity grid fully powered by renewable energy can be accomplished quickly, without costing ratepayers more than they would otherwise pay [according to a new assessment]…[T]he study compares a status quo scenario with two possible options: One that relies more heavily on utility scale renewables, and one that relies more on distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar…A 100% renewable plan that relies more heavily on local distributed solar energy is actually cheaper than continuing to rely on fossil fuels…[LADWP — the nation’s largest municipal utility serving almost 1.5 million residential customers and businesses — is considering] scenarios for moving Los Angeles to a 100% renewable energy grid, at the request of the City Council…[It] does not anticipate coming out with its plan until mid-2020…” click here for more

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    Saturday, March 17, 2018

    Hawking On Trump’s Misguided Climate Policy

    R.I.P. Great Spirit, Great Mind. From BBC News via YouTube

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    Thinking About Energy Efficiency

    This quick piece offers a great way to think about the path to the best deal a homeowner can get. From CSUExtension via YouTube

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    Why Rural America Loves Wind

    Wind is a new, household budget-saving crop for struggling farmers and ranchers all across the country. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

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    Friday, March 16, 2018

    20,000 Scientists Have Signed ‘Letter To Humanity’

    20,000 scientists give dire warning about the future in 'letter to humanity' – and the world is listening; The paper is now one of the most discussed scientific works ever and has been signed by a huge number of experts

    Andrew Griffin, 7 March 2018 (UK Independdent)

    “A dire warning to the world about its future, which predicts catastrophe for humanity, is continuing to gain momentum…[The November 2017 Letter to Humanity] has now been signed by around 20,000 scientists…[The letter argues] scientists and economists need to switch their focus from encouraging growth to conserving the planet…[because of critical environmental limits to resource-dependent economic growth…[ Oregon State University Professor of Ecology William Ripple, the letter’s lead author, said] scientists’ warning to humanity ‘has clearly struck a chord’ with both the global scientific community and the public…The publishers of the letter now say that the letter is the sixth most-discussed piece of research since Altmetric records, which track publications’ impact, began…[and] has prompted speeches in the Israeli Knesset and Canada’s BC Legislature.” click here for more

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    The World Transition To New Energy Explained

    Green energy still no closer: WEF study

    David Fogarty, March 15, 2018 (The Straits Times)

    “Most of the world's energy systems have become more accessible and more secure but not any greener…[Fostering Effective Energy Transition looked at the energy systems of 114 countries which accounted for more than 98 per cent of global gross domestic product, focusing on their electricity grids as well as fuels for transport and cooking…[It concludes there is a slowdown in global progress towards environmental sustainability, which is whether energy systems, and particularly electricity production,] is becoming more environmentally friendly over time by steadily reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and improving air and water pollution…Globally, the energy system, through burning fossil fuels, is responsible for more than two-thirds of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions. Burning coal in power stations and steel-making is by far the single largest source of CO2 that scientists say is heating up the planet. So [seizing the economic opportunity in taking on the huge challenge of] cutting emissions, particularly from the electricity sector, will be crucial in limiting global warming…” click here for more

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    French Wind Proves Huge Value To Grid

    Wind farm proves it can provide cheaper, more precise grid security than gas generators

    Giles Parkinson, 13 March 2018 (ReNew Economy)

    “…[Results are in on the ground-breaking first trial using a wind farm to provide frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS) to the Australian grid. It shows the Hornsdale 2 wind farm, part of the huge 315MW Hornsdale wind complex that includes the Tesla big battery officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve,] had cut prices and delivered a more ‘precise’ service to the market operator…[It was also significant because] it coincided with a major ‘peak’ FCAS event – caused by maintenance work on the inter-connector to Victoria – that would have sent prices to $9,000MW or more in normal circumstances…[T]he intervention of the Hornsdale wind farm, along with the Tesla big battery, slashed those prices to $300/MW…It was the first concrete sign of how new technologies could break up the fossil fuel cartel that had been extracting high prices from the grid for years…[The FCAS delivered by the Hornsdale turbines over the trials delivered greater response precision, when compared to conventional generators, and provided an ‘enhanced stabilisation’ of the electricity grid…” click here for more

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    Egypt Fires Up $2.8BIL Solar Project

    Desert Sun to Power Upper Egypt With $2.8 Billion Solar Park

    Salm El Wardany, March 14, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “Egypt inaugurated the first solar power plant at a remote desert complex where the government plans to generate as much as 1.8 gigawatts from the sun, cutting the most populous Arab nation’s reliance on dirty and expensive fossil fuels… The 64-megawatt facility is the first of 32 units that the government targets for construction at Benban Solar park in southeastern Aswan province. The project, with all the plants, is to be completed next year at a cost of $2.8 billion…Egypt currently produces more than 90 percent of its power from oil and natural gas…Benban Solar park, along with other projects in planning, should help Egypt scale back its use of hydrocarbons as the country targets generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2022…Formerly a gas exporter, Egypt must now import liquefied natural gas, or LNG, at a high cost to meet its energy needs…[New gas fields] should help the country close its supply gap, trim its import bills and maybe even resume exports. Solar and wind projects [buoyed by a restructured incentive program] will help transform the country’s menu of energy options…” click here for more

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    Thursday, March 15, 2018

    Arnold To Sue Big Oil for Murder By Climate Change

    Schwarzenegger planning to sue oil companies for 'knowingly killing people all over the world’

    Rebecca Savransky, March 12, 2018 (The Hill)

    “Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is planning to sue oil companies, alleging they are ‘knowingly killing people all over the world.’…[H]e is still working on the timing for his push, but he is now speaking with private law firms…[He argues the climate issue is like the smoking issue in that the] tobacco industry knew for decades that smoking would kill people…[and hid] that fact from the people and denied it…[but, when taken to court,] had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars…[He said the oil companies knew from 1959 on, through internal studies, that climate change caused by fossil fuels] would kill…[He added that, like cigarettes, products that burn] fossil fuels should have warning labels…” click here for more

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    Solar Grows On, With Big Jump By Community Solar

    U.S. Solar Market Adds 10.6 GW of PV in 2017, Community Solar Soars

    March 15, 2018 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    “…[T]he solar industry installed 10.6 gigawatts (GW) of new PV capacity in 2017, led by strong growth in the corporate and community solar segments...[O]verall growth was down from the 15 GW installed in the record-shattering 2016…[but it was a] 40 percent growth over 2015’s installation…Key findings on 2017 [by the newly released U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2017 Year-in-Review from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)] include: …30% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the U.S. came from solar, ranking second during that period only to natural gas…The residential PV sector fell 16% from 2016…[T]he non-residential sector grew 28% year-over-year, primarily driven by regulatory demand pull-in from looming policy deadlines in California and the Northeast, in addition to the continued build-out of a robust community solar pipeline in Minnesota…Voluntary procurement, rather than state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards, will continue to be the primary driver of new utility PV demand, anticipated to drive 1/3 of utility build-out in 2018…” click here for more

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    Wind Is The Cleanest Safest New Energy

    Wind Energy’s Carbon Footprint

    Vanessa Schipani, March 14, 2018 (

    “…Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed the ‘carbon footprint on wind [energy] is significant.’ In fact, wind power’s carbon footprint is among the smallest of any energy source…Coal’s carbon footprint is almost 90 times larger…and the footprint of natural gas is more than 40 times larger…Zinke also said wind energy kills ‘as many as 750,000 birds a year.’ This estimate is high, but not impossible. However, oil fields could kill up to 1 million birds a year [and domestic cats kill billions of birds a year]…In 2017, wind energy made up about 6.3 percent of the United States’ total electricity generation…compared with about 30 percent each for coal and natural gas and 20 percent for nuclear energy… Solar energy made up only 1.3 percent…[Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from solar, wind, and nuclear technologies are considerably lower and less variable than emissions from technologies powered by combustion-based natural gas and coal...” click here for more

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    Plug-In Cars Are The Cleanest Driving

    Charging An Electric Vehicle Is Far Cleaner Than Driving On Gasoline, Everywhere In America

    Silvio Maracci, March 14, 2018 (Forbes)

    “…New data shows that in every corner of the United States, driving an EV produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than cars powered only by gasoline, regardless of the local power mix. Today, an average EV on the road in the U.S. has the same greenhouse-gas emissions as a car getting 80 miles per gallon (MPG). That’s up from 73 MPG in 2017, and far greater than the average gas-powered car available for sale in the U.S., which hit a record 24.7 MPG in 2016…Average EV emissions have continued to decline over time thanks to accelerating coal plant closures and the decarbonization of America’s power sector (down 28% since 2007), so while burning gasoline won’t get much cleaner, driving on electricity can get cleaner every year – saving billions in health expenses and climate impacts along the way…[according to the Union of Concerned Scientists EV emissions analysis. Transportation] sector emissions supplanted power plant emissions as America’s top source of emissions for the first time in 2016, while electricity emissions continued a decade-long decline…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Details Of California’s Transportation Electrification Revolution

    California utilities plot ways to prep grid for coming EV boom; Utilities are rolling out comprehensive pilot programs to integrate EVs onto the grid and prepare for the coming load

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 22, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: California regulators just approved the smaller, 1-year proposals described here. Their ruling on the bigger, longer-term proposals is expected any time.

    Electrifying the transportation sector is no small task. The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved a first round of pilot proposals to electrify transportation from the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs). A second, bigger round of proposals is pending. These pilots will cost a combined $1.3 billion and go beyond Gov. Jerry Brown (D)’s plan to have 1.5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. The approved and proposed pilot projects would cover the gamut of possible ways to boost electric vehicle deployment including rate designs, smart charger buildout, public education efforts, and help for utilities to avoid upgrade costs. These new proposed projects are not just focused on cars — they also focus on school and transit buses as well.

    This shift toward electrification of new types of transportation follows the innovation in passenger vehicles already well under way. In the first quarter of 2016, 97 makes and models of plug-in hybrid and battery EVs had entered the market. By the end of 2018, at least 181 models are forecast. The pilot projects proposed by California utilities include $553.8 million for SCE’s medium- and heavy-duty charging infrastructure buildout; $225.9 million for SDG&E’s residential charging; and $233.2 million for two projects for PG&E. These investments are expected to seed significant growth, allow utilities to be prepared for the transition to transportation electrification, and could pave the way for utilities across the U.S. to boost deployment while leveraging the grid benefits from managed EV charging…

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Customer Demand And Economics Move Rural Co-ops To New Energy

    How rural co-ops are shifting to a cleaner power mix; Driven by wind credits, low gas prices and consumer demand, rural co-ops are finding new ways to grow renewables

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 21, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Economics continue to drive the exciting power mix transition described here but it has slowed in response to the uncertainty created by federal anti-New Energy policies.

    The generation mix of rural electric cooperatives is changing at the same swift pace as the rest of U.S. power system. The biggest changes are in wind energy and natural gas investment. Wind was the biggest non-hydro renewable resource deployed by cooperatives in 2017 and an estimated 850 MW of new wind capacity was planned by the end of 2018, accounting for nearly two-thirds of planned additions in that period, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). To make room for the new generation resources, co-ops shuttered or converted 700 MW of coal between 2014 and 2016, and are expected to shutter or convert up to 1,344 MW more by 2028, eliminating roughly 8% of co-op coal capacity.

    The main growth drivers for co-ops, just as for the market at large, is the federal production tax credit (PTC) and state renewables mandates, according to NRECA. Another major factor are rapidly falling costs for new technologies. The combination of these factors has driven power purchase agreement (PPA) prices from an average $70/MWh in 2009 to an all-time lows of below $20/MWh this year, making wind an offer co-ops can’t refuse. And low gas prices have spurred a shift from coal-fired generation, which has typically dominated co-ops' power mixes. But those are not the only solutions co-ops are examining to achieve a cleaner power mix. Some co-ops are advocating for policy changes to encourage investment in electric vehicles and water heaters, to obtain more system flexibility… click here for more

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    Tuesday, March 13, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: U.S. New Energy Now

    2018 Factbook – Sustainable Energy in America

    February 15, 2018 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    Executive Summary

    The massive and historic transformation of the U.S. energy sector clicked into a higher gear in 2017, despite some new headwinds including policy uncertainties. Renewable deployment grew at a nearrecord pace. Energy productivity and GDP growth both accelerated, demonstrating that the U.S. economy can grow at a reasonable rate even as total energy consumption actually declines. Liquefied natural gas export capacity expanded, allowing the U.S. to become a serious player in global exports for the first time. Power and gas infrastructure build continued to support grid performance and natural gas delivery. All of this combined to bring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to a 25-year low while creating jobs and keeping costs in check for consumers. We draw out the key highlights below. New U.S. wind and solar build, combined with an easing drought in the West, drove renewable generation up from 15% to 18% of the total electricity mix in one year, while contributions from natural gas and coal tapered modestly.

    • Renewable generation (including hydropower) soared 14% to an estimated 717TWh in 2017, from 628TWh in 2016. The expansion brought renewables to 18% of total U.S. generation – double their contribution a decade ago. Renewables achieved new heights partly due to a rebound in hydro (up 13%, or 36TWh) as reservoir levels on the West Coast recovered after a severe, prolonged drought. At the same time, a chart-busting number of wind and solar projects built in 2016 (nearly 23GW worth) had their first full year of operation in 2017, bolstering non-hydro renewable generation by 15% to 413TWh. The surge further establishes renewables’ critical role in the U.S. power mix – renewable technologies now contribute nearly as much electricity as the nuclear fleet.

    • With 18.4GW of new additions, 2017 marked another boom year for renewables build, second only to 2016’s record of 22.7GW. Overall, renewables have contributed 55% of total build in the past 10 years. Non-hydro renewables continued to represent the largest share of all U.S. new installations, hitting roughly 62% in 2017.

    • Build in other renewable sectors (biomass, biogas, waste-to-energy, geothermal, and hydro) continued to stall without long-term policy support. Geothermal added only 24MW through one new project. Large-scale biomass, biogas and waste-to-energy combined added 176MW, while hydro commissioned 208MW.

    • Renewables’ rise came as natural gas-fired generation decreased by an estimated 8.1% (113TWh). This brought gas’ share of total U.S. generation down from 34% in 2016 to 32% in 2017. Recovering gas prices, as well as a 1.7% year-on-year fall in total generation (including estimates for distributed solar), may have also contributed to the drop in natural gas-fired generation.

    • Nonetheless, natural gas retained its position as the number one producer of U.S. power, as electricity production from coal slipped as well (although to a smaller extent – 37TWh, equivalent to a 3% decline). Continued changes to the structural make-up of the U.S. fleet will likely cement its role here for some years: natural gas build boasted its best year since 2005, as new installations reached 10.7GW in 2017. Further, by end-2017, owners of coal plants – which directly compete with gas in many areas of the country – had announced 12.5GW of planned retirements for 2018, foreshadowing the largest year for coal decommissioning since the 15GW of retirements in 2015.

    Consumers devoted a smaller share of their spending towards electricity than at any time ever recorded, while the total share of household expenses dedicated to energy costs also hovered near an all-time low. Power and natural gas prices remain subdued across the country, and contract prices for wind and solar continued to plunge.

    • American consumer spending on electricity shrank slightly in 2017 to 1.3% of personal consumption expenditures, down from 1.4% in 2016. Greater energy efficiency and the continued availability of cheap fuels likely contributed to keeping electricity costs a modest part of total consumer expenditures. Spending on natural gas also remained muted, as consumers directed just under 0.4% of their outlays to this resource, similar to 2016 levels.

    • A rebound in spending on other energy goods, especially gasoline and motor fuels, counterbalanced the drop in the share of expenditures devoted to electricity bills. Households put 2.1% of their total consumption towards gasoline and motor fuels, up from 1.9% in 2016. However, overall, Americans continue to direct just under 4% of their outlays to energy-related costs – only 2016 has seen a smaller share.

    • Retail power prices remained subdued in the U.S. But unlike 2016, when prices fell across the country (on the back of waning wholesale power prices), average retail prices rose modestly in 2017 across most regions. They picked up by 0.5% in New England and the Northwest; around 1% in New York, MISO and the Southeast; 1.2% in SPP; 1.5% in the Southwest; 3.5% in California; 4.8% in Florida; and 6.4% in Alaska. However, average retail prices also dipped by roughly half a percent in PJM and ERCOT.

    • In the wholesale power market, average prices rallied in 2017 across the U.S. on the back of natural gas prices, which rose 18% to average $2.96/MMBtu at Henry Hub.

    • Electricity offtakers secured renewables at ever cheaper price points. The most competitive power purchase agreements (PPAs) came in at just over $20/MWh for solar, while wind PPAs executed in the U.S. wind belt averaged an estimated $17/MWh in 2017. Utility-scale PV capex costs in the U.S. have declined 49% since 2013 to $1.1m/MW from $2.2m/MW, with projects in regions such as the Southeast breaking through the symbolic “dollar-per-watt” threshold. Wind turbine prices have descended to an estimated $0.99m/MW, down 21% over the same time period. At the same time, taller turbines and improved capacity factors have boosted the productivity of new wind facilities, driving down prices in $/MWh terms at an even faster clip.

    • Natural gas has become increasingly affordable for consumers. Retail prices for the commercial sector averaged just $8/mcf in 2017, down 42% over the past decade and near the recent trough observed in 2016. Gas prices for the industrial sector have followed a similar trajectory but continue to undercut commercial rates, averaging just over $4/mcf in 2017.

    The U.S. remains competitive globally for energy-intensive industries, thanks to low industrial power prices.

    • Industrial power prices in the U.S. have historically been among the most affordable in the world (averaging 6.76¢/kWh in 2016, according to the EIA). The U.S. remained competitive even as exchange rate fluctuations—and market reforms, in the case of Japan—brought down the dollar cost of energy for industrial consumers in China, Japan, and Mexico. Canada, with its strong stock of cheap legacy hydro, hovered at or below U.S. prices. (Canada averaged 5.46¢/kWh in 2016.) These two countries offered the least expensive electricity for industrial users out of the G7 countries.

    The renewable, energy efficiency, and natural gas sectors employed approximately three million Americans in 2016. Energy efficiency was the top employer within the sustainable energy sectors, and solar was the fastest growing job-creator among all electricity generation technologies.

    • Energy efficiency provided 2.2 million jobs in 2016, according to the January 2017 report from the Department of Energy. Efficiency was the top employer within the sustainable energy segments tracked in the report.

    • Among sectors associated with electricity generation, solar employed the highest number of workers in 2016. The solar job count topped nearly 374,000, more than double those from fossil generation, which numbered 151,000 for coal, natural gas, and oil-fired sources combined (not counting employment associated with fuel supply). Solar is still a labor-intensive field and one where a boom in new installations is driving employment.

    • Solar also added almost 74,000 jobs from 2015 to 2016, marking a 25% growth year-on-year and again taking top place out of all electricity generation sectors. Wind was second in terms of employment growth, adding 24,650 jobs.

    • Fossil fuel-fired generation also creates upstream employment (i.e., jobs related to the extraction, production and transportation of fuels). For natural gas-fired generation, the vast majority of jobs are actually upstream; accounting for these positions brings employment tied to natural gas to an estimated 362,000, up from around 52,000 for downstream jobs at natural gas power plants.

    • The electricity storage sector also supported nearly 91,000 jobs in 2016, with just over half affiliated with battery storage. Storage is a burgeoning sector: in 2017, the U.S. added an estimated 251MW in non-hydropower storage capacity, which drove up total commissioned capacity by 33%.

    American economic growth is picking up steam – without a parallel jump in energy consumption.

    • The U.S. economy advanced 2.3% in 2017, up from 1.5% in 2016. At the same time, U.S. total energy consumption dipped 0.2% to 97.2 quadrillion BTU. Energy productivity, which is the amount of GDP produced by a unit of energy, climbed 2.5% in 2017 as economic growth continued its long-term trend of decoupling from energy use. Since 2008, energy usage has shrunk 1.7% even as GDP has accelerated by 15.3%.

    • Annualized electricity consumption, excluding consumption of distributed energy resources, fell 2.6% in 2017 despite stronger economic growth. From 1950 to 1990, demand for electricity increased at an annual average rate of 5.9%. From 1990 to 2007, that dampened to 1.9% growth per year. Since 2007, electricity demand has actually contracted by an average of 0.2% per year.

    • Energy efficiency has clearly contributed to this ongoing trend; however, the growth in utility spending on efficiency for electricity has slowed, advancing only 1.6% in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available) to $6.3 billion. This slowdown comes in part because fewer states are introducing new energy efficiency resource standards, while other states’ existing mandates have matured.

    • Investments to boost the efficiency of natural gas usage have also paid off. The number of residential customers using natural gas expanded 21% to 69 million in the 20 years from 1998 through 2017. But consumption stayed roughly the same during that period, likely due in part to efficiency gains

    Emissions from the electricity sector plummeted again, allowing transportation to retain its place as the largest-emitting sector for the second year in a row.

    • U.S. GHG emissions fell to their lowest levels since 1991, shrinking to an estimated 6.4GtCO2e in 2017 after contracting another 1.4% year-on-year. The power sector continues to drive the economy’s de-carbonization – emissions from this sector ebbed 4.2% in 2017, this time on the back of declining load and greater renewable generation (rather than coal-to-gas switching, a primary driver of 2016’s 5.8% downturn).

    • Power-sector emissions now sit 28% below their 2005 peak, which puts the U.S. only 4 percentage points away from achieving its former Clean Power Plan target of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The rapid emissions reduction in the power sector has also helped to bring the U.S. halfway to its abandoned Paris Agreement target of slashing economy-wide emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025.

    • In 2016, the transportation sector overtook power as the largest greenhouse gas emitter, thanks mostly to lower power-sector emissions and an absence of abatement opportunities within the transportation sector. It expanded the lead to 108MtCO2e in 2017, up from 21MtCO2e in 2016. Power and transportation account for approximately 60% of emissions, with agriculture, industry, and the commercial and residential sectors typically accounting for the other 40%.

    The U.S. is solidifying its role as a global liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and for the first time was a net exporter of natural gas for every month of the year.

    • Export activity stepped up at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, which doubled its capacity in 2017 to 2.5Bcfd. LNG exports totaled 625Bcf from January through November 2017, a value of roughly $2.8 billion (out of a $90 billion/year global LNG market). The U.S. now exports LNG to 25 countries, with Mexico, South Korea, China, and Japan serving as lead offtakers. A second export terminal opening in Maryland (Cove Point) is scheduled to begin commercial operations in early 2018.

    • Average pipeline exports to Mexico also rose, climbing 11% to 1,407Bcf as of end-November, compared to 1,265Bcf over the same period in 2016. Together, LNG and natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico have elevated average net export volumes to 2Bcfd as of end-November 2017, compared to an average 0.03Bcfd of net imports for the same period in 2016.

    • The growth in foreign demand came as domestic gas demand dipped 2.8% year-on-year, in large part due to the 7.2% drop in natural gas used for gas-fired power generation. Strengthening exports helped to propel an estimated 1.5% uptick in total gas demand from 2016 to 2017.

    Utilities and independent developers continue to invest in infrastructure to improve grid operations and support the growth of clean energy.

    • Investor-owned utilities and independent transmission developers spent an estimated $22.9 billion on electric transmission in 2017, according to figures collected by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). This represents a 10% rise above the $20.8 billion spent in 2016, and a 91% boost over 2011’s levels. Investments have targeted replacing aging equipment, improving reliability, and bringing renewable generation to end-use consumers, among other purposes.

    • The Midwest’s system operator, MISO, is overseeing a large build-out of its wires infrastructure, seeking to replicate Texas’ success in reducing wind curtailment rates. The construction of the Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines brought wind produced in breezy west Texas to demand centers farther east, slashing curtailment rates from a peak of 17% in 2009 to under 2% for 2016. MISO, alongside New England, experiences curtailment rates of around 4%, some of the highest currently seen in the U.S. Five of the 17 transmission projects under development through MISO’s Multi Value Project have already come online, alleviating bottlenecks and cutting curtailment rates by 21% between 2015 and 2016.

    • Gas transmission infrastructure is also set to expand, after protracted delays on several major pipelines caused by the lack of a FERC quorum, project-specific setbacks, and regulatory hurdles. An estimated 14Bcfd of capacity was completed in 2017. Although this undershot the 33Bcfd developers originally planned to complete, it was a notable step up from the five preceding years, in which gas transmission build ranged from 5Bcfd to 9Bcfd a year. The pipeline expansions in 2017 included 4.1Bcfd in takeaway capacity from the Appalachian Basin; however, only 1% of this went towards relieving the natural gas constraints in New England.

    • Investment in midstream gas infrastructure (e.g., transmission, distribution and storage) climbed 19% from 2015 to 2016, with distribution accounting for nearly half of the escalation in spending. Total investment in distribution hit its highest level yet at $13.4bn, a 16% expansion from 2015 levels.

    • On the consumer side, smart metering infrastructure has reached 51% of U.S. households, although regional penetration rates vary widely. As regulators and utilities begin to undertake more activity on grid modernization and dynamic retail tariffs, even players who have traditionally stayed away from smart meters are beginning to assess the technology’s benefits. Utilities have also begun to offer rebates to incentivize the adoption of smart thermostats, which can be used to control peak demand. In 20 states, over half of households are eligible for rebates on smart thermostat purchases.

    Global clean energy investment rebounded to the second-highest amount on record. U.S. investments tracked 2016 levels but saw a shift in capital deployment.

    • Global new investment in clean energy advanced to $333 billion in 2017, second only to the $360 billion spent in 2015. A 24% escalation in Chinese investment more than offset the 26% contraction in European flows, while the U.S. contribution held its ground at $57 billion, or about 17% of the global total.

    • The relatively stable headline figure for U.S. clean energy investment masked shifts in how capital was deployed. Solar investment slumped 20% as policy uncertainty delayed projects and leading residential solar vendors pulled back from the market. Meanwhile, energy smart technologies attracted 25% more funding in 2017 than in 2016 and wind investment expanded 19%.

    New sales of battery, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles accelerated, driven especially by new, longer-range versions of existing models. Meanwhile, the price of lithium-ion battery packs, a key cost component for battery electric vehicles, plummeted 23% year-on-year.

    • U.S. sales of electric vehicles (EVs), including battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), jumped to over 194,000 units in 2017, up 23% from the year prior. PHEV sales leapt 24% year-on-year on the back of affordable, longer-range offerings like the Toyota Prius Prime. BEV sales surged 22%, also as a result of longer-range affordable models, including the Chevrolet Bolt, and offerings in new car segments such as the Tesla Model X. In all, EVs made up 1.1% of new vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2017, up from 0.9% in 2016. It is estimated that around 749,000 EVs are on the road in the U.S. as of end-2017.

    • On a subsidized, lifetime basis, BEVs can cost up to one-third less than equivalent vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines (ICE). PHEVs, on the other hand, tend to cost more than midsized ICE vehicles. This results from a combination of higher prices and fuel costs, as well as lower subsidies.

    • The price of lithium-ion battery packs, a key driver of BEV pricing, crashed 23% in 2017. Pack prices tumbled 65% between 2013 and end-2017, bringing average prices down to $209/kWh. Cells, which contribute roughly 70% of the total cost of a pack, experienced a more rapid decrease (26%) last year than the other cost components, thanks to economies of scale, increasing energy density, and transitions to more efficient chemistries.

    • Retail gasoline prices rallied 13% over the course of 2017, finishing at an average of $2.50/gallon compared to $2.21/gallon at end-2016. But prices remained historically low, and consumption ticked up by an estimated 0.7% relative to the previous year.

    • Start-stop technology, which cuts vehicle fuel use and idling emissions by automatically shutting off the car engine when the car is stopped, continued to gain traction in the auto industry. The share of vehicles sold with this system in the U.S. leapt to 16.8% in 2017, up 75% from the penetration rate in 2016.

    The federal government backtracked from national and international engagement on climate change issues, prompting greater climate commitments from sub-national and private sector players. Federal-level actions ranging from trade cases to tax reform also caused uncertainty in the market for clean technologies.

    • On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, an international, non-binding climate change accord signed by 195 other countries and jurisdictions. In October 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also proposed to rescind and replace the Clean Power Plan. On the transportation front, President Trump ordered EPA to reconsider the upcoming tightening of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, covering model years 2021-2025.

    • In response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and fading federal-level climate action, sub-national actors have created alliances to support continued progress on the U.S. greenhouse gas reduction targets. The “We Are Still In” movement involves 2,642 mayors, governors, CEOs, college presidents, faith organizations, and tribal leaders (as of the time of this writing). Another group, the U.S. Climate Alliance, includes 16 governors representing over 40% of the U.S. population and $7.4 trillion in economic output. Separately, the U.S. Climate Mayors (founded at the signing of the Paris Agreement) saw its membership swell after the U.S. withdrew from Paris. It now encompasses 383 cities covering 23% of the U.S. population, half of which are in states that have not additionally joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. Together, these entities represent 2.7Gt in emissions (for comparison, total U.S. emissions stood at 6.4Gt for 2017). However, the level of ambition between different entities’ emissions reduction commitments, plus the voluntary nature of such commitments, render it difficult currently to assess the expected impact from the movement. The America’s Pledge initiative will aggregate the commitments made under these initiatives and attempt to measure their impact across the U.S.

    • In October 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) create rules to subsidize “secure-fuel” power plants within competitive power markets that maintain 90 days’ worth of fuel supplies on site. This would have mostly benefited coal and nuclear plants. FERC ultimately declined to implement the proposed rulemaking, citing insufficient evidence that price distortions or retirements were affecting resiliency or reliability in the targeted power markets. The DOE itself had previously reported that, while there might be challenges to come, wholesale power markets have ensured reliability to date, even as the electricity sector has transformed rapidly due to factors such as flattening demand, growing natural gas penetration, and policy interventions (including renewables support). FERC did ultimately call on system operators to study grid resiliency – that is, power systems’ ability to recover from major service interruptions.

    • In January 2018, President Trump instituted a 30% tariff on imported crystalline silicon solar modules and cells, which is scheduled to step down to 15% by 2021. The safeguard measure was imposed in response to a trade complaint submitted by two bankrupt domestic solar module manufacturers. The case, lodged by Suniva and SolarWorld, alleged unfair competition from Chinese manufacturers, but the resulting tariffs will apply to practically all countries of origin. These tariff will increase all-in project costs by an estimated 4-10%.

    • Tax reforms passed near the end of 2017 also promise change for clean energy. While the EV, wind, and solar tax credits remain unchanged from prior law, the corporate tax rate dropped down to 21% from 35%. This tax cut raises after-tax earnings for renewable projects, but also reduces the supply of tax equity available for supporting renewable build. Additionally, the tax cut may free up utility money for infrastructure investments or for lowering retail electricity rates. Further, under the new law, multinationals with overseas profits are now required to pay a minimum level of taxes on foreign transactions under the so-called “BEAT” provision. Although this can also limit tax equity supply, the negative impact is curbed by a provision that allows corporations to use 80% of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) to offset BEAT. Finally, the introduction of immediate, 100% depreciation of most capital expenditures can benefit providers of long-lived assets such as energy saving building materials or technology.

    • In February 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which impacted a range of energy incentives. Energy efficiency credits and non-wind PTC technologies (biogas, biomass, waste to energy, active geothermal, hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic) received one-year retroactive extensions. Several non-solar ITC-eligible technologies (fiber-optic solar, microturbines, fuel cells, combined heat and power, and small wind) received five-year extensions with phase-downs. The budget law also lifted the end-2020 in-service deadline for nuclear plants to qualify for the nuclear production tax credit. In addition, it expanded credits for qualified carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) facilities.

    • States also explored reforms to some of their renewables support programs in 2017. Most customers in 40 states, plus DC, could access net metering at the full retail rate as of August 2017. But states across the country are looking at potential reforms to the scheme: over the past year, Arizona, Indiana, and Maine finalized plans to move away from net metering. The replacement options vary but generally offer lower compensation rates or set a deadline by which small-scale PV owners can still qualify for net metering.

    Corporations are playing a stronger role in the energy transformation, increasingly demanding cleaner energy and seeking to capture gains from energy efficiency.

    • Corporations continued to turn their attention to sustainability in 2017. The “EP100”, an initiative launched in 2016 through which companies promise to double their energy efficiency, has gained 13 pledgees. On the renewables front, 119 companies globally had pledged by end-2017 to source 100% of their energy from renewables under the “RE100” initiative. In the U.S., corporate clean energy deal volumes for off-site PPAs rose to 2.9GW in 2017, the second highest on record behind the 3.2GW of new contracts signed in 2015. Companies have also looked increasingly to source clean energy in the same service territory as their load, leading to new engagement with utilities via green tariff programs. These contributed 19% of corporate procurement in 2017

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