Samantha Bee: Ryan Zinke Is No Teddy Roosevelt
Like everybody who survives in the current administration, Ryan Zinke does not walk his own talk, he walk’s the president’s talk. From Full Frontal With Samantha Bee via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, December 16-17:
Like everybody who survives in the current administration, Ryan Zinke does not walk his own talk, he walk’s the president’s talk. From Full Frontal With Samantha Bee via YouTube
Welcome to the future of transportation. From Audi Wind via The Drum
There are so many ways health and climate intersect. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube
Global and Asian heat waves in 2016 due purely to climate change, study says
December 14, 2017 (AFP via Japan Times)
“…Last year’s global heat record, extreme heat in Asia and unusually warm waters off the coast of Alaska happened purely because the planet is getting warmer due to human activities like burning fossil fuels…[Those findings from Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective mark the first time that global scientists have identified severe weather that could not have happened without climate change…Until now, the contribution of human-driven climate change has been understood to raise the odds of certain floods, droughts, storms and heat waves — but not serve as the sole cause…The report included 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans. A total of 116 scientists from 18 countries took part, incorporating historical observations and model simulations to determine the role of climate change in nearly two dozen extreme events…In 2016, the planet reached a new high for global heat, making it the warmest year in modern times…[The report concluded the record average surface temperatures worldwide were 'only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming...'" click here for more
Invest in solar energy for a brighter future for Africa; A new scheme aims to lighten the lives of millions who live without electricity, with the promise of a possible 6% return
Rupert Jones, 15 December 2017 (UK Guardian)
"...Energise Africa is a new ethical investment scheme which aims to raise £20m to provide a brighter future for more than 110,000 families and small businesses in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years...[It offers the opportunity to earn a return of up to a 6% return while at the same time providing families in countries such as Kenya with 'life-changing' access to clean, affordable solar energy. It is supported by UK aid money from the Department for International Development (DfID). And what is also notable is that, unusually, some of the investments on offer benefit from what is known as 'first loss cover' – which means that if the worst were to happen, and the company was unable to pay back what it owed, individual investors would be prioritised ahead of DfID, thereby providing an extra level of protection...With a minimum investment of £50, it is a potentially straightforward and accessible way for people to make sure their money is doing some good. However, this is not risk-free, and the returns are not guaranteed. In the worst-case scenario, if there was some kind of disaster/crisis/bankruptcy, you could lose some or all your capital, and you would not be able to get redress from the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme or complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, so you need to go into this with your eyes open...Currently 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity...[Energise Africa lends] money to businesses that sell small solar systems to families throughout sub-Saharan Africa..." click here for more
Dutch test the water for subsidy-free offshore wind farms
Bart H. Meijer w/Susan Fenton, December 15, 2017 (Reuters)
"...[Hoping to capitalize on a boom in renewable energy, the Netherlands has] launched an attempt to fund an offshore wind farm without subsidies...In the world’s first ever so-called ‘zero subsidy’ tender for wind power, only companies that require no support at all can participate...The Dutch tender follows strong demand at wind farm auctions in Germany earlier this year - where some slots were granted without subsidies - although a Dutch official acknowledged that the Netherlands’ move was testing new ground and it might not receive any bids at all...Companies can hand in bids for two slots available in the North Sea, each representing a 350 megawatt (MW) project, by Dec. 21. The tender is the third in a series of five Dutch tenders to build offshore wind farms in the next six years with a total capacity of 3500 MW...At the Netherlands’ two previous auctions for offshore wind power last year, subsidies granted fell by a quarter, as a combination of surging demand for wind energy, low interest rates, technological progress and competition among turbine makers made it considerably cheaper to build wind farms...Germany, meanwhile, approved 1,490 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity on the German North Sea in April at costs well below expectations, with some bids receiving no subsidies at all...Energy companies have tried to lower expectations for the Dutch tender...The absence of subsidies will make it harder to predict revenues, especially as electricity prices remain low..." click here for more
Alibaba Unveils Plans for an Electric Vehicle Vending Machine
Brad Jones, December 14, 2017 (Futurism)
"...Retail giant Alibaba has inked a deal to market electric vehicles built by Ford in China. The company plans to use a massive vending machine in order to facilitate sales...Customers [who qualify as Alibaba Super Members and have reached a certain level on the company’s credit scoring service] will scan a car that they’re interested in, using the Taobao shopping app developed by Alibaba. They can then pick a color, enter some basic information and take an all-important selfie...[th at] will be used to identify the individual when they head over to the unmanned vending machine. Facial recognition technology is used to match the person with their order, and the corresponding vehicle is taken out of storage...[The buyer will] have three days to test the vehicle...[and use a] smartphone app to pay for it, or to arrange to return the car and schedule another test drive...Customers are limited to five test periods every two months to ensure the system isn’t used as a free car hire service..." click here for more
What Republicans Think About Climate Change — in Maps
Nadja Popovich and Livia Albeck-Ripka, December 14, 2017 (NY Times)
“Over the past two decades, Republicans have grown increasingly doubtful about climate change, even as Democrats have grown increasingly convinced that it’s happening and is caused by humans. But recent research…reveals greater nuance…The study’s maps show how Republican support swings between minority and majority, depending on geography and how questions are posed…
Fewer than a third of registered Republicans nationwide say that climate change is caused mostly by human activities, while nearly half say it’s mostly due to [natural changes. But, there are also hints] that geographic vulnerability to climate change may affect opinion…When it comes to financing renewable energy research, support among Republicans is high: above 75 percent in 15 states, and at least 70 percent in all but Texas and Rhode Island…[A] close look at congressional districts showed majority support among Republicans on the East and West Coasts, as well as in Florida…” click here for more
Electric Car Range May Soon Triple, Thanks to New Research
Chelsea Gohd, December 12, 2017 (Futurism)
“…[C]ompanies like Tesla, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Samsung are making great strides in improving [electric vehicle] range and battery capacity, but all have yet to fully surpass significant hurdles…[T]he use of negative electrodes made of lithium metal could ‘dramatically increase battery storage capacity’…[and] drastically improve capabilities of electric-powered vehicles…[An In Vivo Formed Solid Electrolyte Surface Layer Enables Stable Plating of Li Metal provides the details…This improvement could triple the range of these nascent vehicles…[If increased-capacity batteries and battery systems are implemented in electric vehicles, it wouldn’t just be a slight improvement to the technology. Battery capacity and range are currently the Achilles’ heel of the energy revolution that are keeping electric cars in second place to fossil fuel-powered vehicles…[A breakthrough that boosts EV technology and investment] could ultimately have a definitive impact on the environment and the continued efforts against the progression of climate change…” click here for more
U.S. Solar Market Notches Another Quarter of 2 GW Growth, But Uncertainty Holds Back Installations; Trade case, tight global supply of modules drive up prices in all segments
December 14, 2017 (Solar Energy Industries Association via PR Newswire)
“The U.S. installed more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the third quarter of 2017, despite experiencing higher prices across all market segments and major policy uncertainty…around the Section 201 trade case now being weighed at the White House…In all, 2,031 megawatts (MW) of PV were installed in the U.S. in the third quarter of the year, the eighth consecutive quarter that the solar industry added more than 2 GW…[But the] cumulative YTD comparison puts the industry down 22 percent compared to this point last year - which is in line with the expected 21 percent decline for all of 2016 vs all of 2017…GTM Research forecasts that 11.8 GWdc of new PV installations will come on-line in 2017…[It was adjusted down from Q2’s 12.4 GW forecast] to reflect continued challenges in the residential market and a push back in utility-scale completion timelines due to uncertainties surrounding the trade case…The non-residential segment grew 22 percent year-over-year, installing 481 MW in Q3. Non-residential consists of commercial and industrial businesses that install solar, nonprofits, and community solar programs…The report says 4 GW of utility-scale PV projects are currently under construction across the nation and GTM Research forecasts an additional 3.9 GW will come on-line by the end of the year. This would make 2017 the second largest year ever for solar installations behind only the record-shattering 2016…” click here for more
Wind On The Waves: Floating Wind Power Is Becoming A Reality
December 11, 2017 (Department of Energy)
“Worldwide, 13,000 megawatts of offshore wind has been deployed —yet the U.S. only has…[the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm] off the coast of Rhode Island…[S]everal U.S. specific technical challenges will need to be overcome…[One] is the depth of the waters along many coastal areas. While most European installations to date have occurred in shallow waters, most (roughly 60%) of our nation’s offshore wind resources are situated in deep waters — more than 60 meters down (or nearly 200 feet). This means traditional bottom-mounted foundations aren’t economically viable…[For the oceans off the West Coast, Hawaii, and Maine,]researchers and engineers are finding ways to create platforms that float, while giving the top-heavy turbine enough stability to operate effectively. Tethered to the sea floor, floating foundations allow wind turbines to operate in areas where water depths may be greater than 165 feet…This technology, largely adapted from the oil and gas industry, is already successful at the prototype stage, with more extensive test and demonstration projects underway…Even so, the dynamic nature of wind turbines, along with the weight distribution needed to stay afloat, presents a number of engineering issues to overcome…[but, with more innovation, floating technologies] may have the potential to become more cost-effective than traditional bottom-mounted foundations in the long term…” click here for more
ORIGINAL REPORTING: How California Is Easing Off NatGas With New Energy As gas plants struggle, California seeks new flexible capacity strategies; With up to 6 GW of gas plants at risk of closure, energy planners are scrambling for new compensation techniques and zero-carbon alternatives
Herman K. Trabish, June 27, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, California’s push to find new ways to use New Energy has continued to grow.
California’s utilities already face a 50% renewable energy mandate to hit by 2030, and lawmakers are debating even more ambitious targets. But California’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), says the state faces a complicated energy trilemma in reaching those goals: Renewables over-generation, excess natural gas capacity, and a potential shortfall of flexible generation. Policymakers are just beginning to understand how to deal with it. “We’re not going to be able to achieve our long term carbon reduction goals without reducing natural gas,” Laura Wisland, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told Utility Dive. “We will have to replace a lot of the natural gas generation that provides energy and reliability services with non-carbon resources like renewables, energy storage, load shifting, and targeted energy efficiency.”
Today’s system is much different than Wisland’s vision. Natural gas generation was 53.8% of the CAISO installed power mix in April. Renewables were 29% of the mix, with solar providing 14% of demand and wind 8.5%. CAISO forecasts natural gas generation will serve 61% of the state’s peak demand this summer, with 13.7% to come from solar and 2.5% from wind. Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of the generator trade group Independent Energy Producers Association, argued California must move “in a rational way” toward its goals. Natural gas will not “abruptly disappear” because “that would be very bad for reliability and affordability,” he said… California needs “a plan for the orderly phase out of natural gas generation,” David Olsen, a member of the CAISO Board of Governors, said… click here for more
In Illinois, cloud computing debate could open next chapter of utility rate reform; Changes sought to the financial treatment of cloud computing could be applied to efficiency and other resources
Herman K. Trabish, July 10, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Illinois regulators just approved this.
A new Illinois Commerce Commission staff report recommended commissioners initiate a rulemaking on how costs for utility-scale data analytics software should be handled by the regulatory process. The staff said utilities should join their corporate peers in banking, healthcare other regulated industries by migrating their data to the cloud. Existing regulatory rules didn’t make that easy but the commissioners just ruled state regulations should be changed to allow it. The ICC’s 2016 Notice of Inquiry (NOI) proceeding revealed a strong consensus that its accounting rules had not kept pace with innovation, the staff report concluded. Regulatory accounting rules that limited utilities to earning a rate of return for on-premise software will now categorize cloud-based software in the same way and allow a return for using it. This eliminates the disincentive for utilities to invest in the new technology.
The cloud may soon be the only place with the computing power to handle the exponentially escalating amount of data being generated by new smart technologies, according to testimony in the NOI proceeding. The U.S. now has 70 million smart meters installed in over 55% of households, according to Adam Cooper, Director of Research for the Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation. Based on his research, 90 million will be deployed by the end of 2020. That is just tip of the spear. Investor-owned utilities put $32 billion into grid modernization in 2016, according to Cooper. Much of that spending was for sensors and other system monitoring and management systems that produce data that “is already creating new use cases and value opportunities.” Led by tech giants like Siemens, GE, Oracle and Amazon, a shift away from on-premise software is coming, according to Chris King, global chief regulatory officer for Siemens… click here for more
Redefining Mobility Services in Cities; The Impacts of Making Transport Clean, Shared, Automated, and Connected
Jan Cihlar, Lisa Jerram, Sam Abuelsamid, Scott Shepard, John Gartner, Rob Winkel, November 2017 (Navigant Research)
The Push for Clean, Traffic Jam-Free Cities
Around the world, major cities have been setting targets to combat the negative effects of local transport on public health, local pollution, noise levels, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Often, restricting or completely banning passenger cars from extensive areas of cities is seen as the solution to those issues and as a way to reduce traffic congestion and associated demand for limited space in urban areas (e.g., parking). Sustainable mobility plans that take this approach are counting on heavy investments in public transportation and biking infrastructure to compensate for the loss of personal vehicle mobility options.
But what if personal light duty vehicles (LDVs) in cities could be made compatible with the future sustainable mobility system in a different form? Focusing on three key trends in personal mobility—vehicle automation, the push for cleaner powertrains, and the mobility as a service (MaaS) model—this white paper explores their combined prospective effects on the urban environment. Navigant Research finds that, in a MaaS model, battery or fuel cell powered automated vehicles can provide benefits in GHG and air pollutants reduction, reclaimed land value, and reduced energy consumption for transport.
The Coming Age of Automated Vehicles
Driving automation is already a reality in many industrial vehicle applications, and partial automation is becoming commonplace in all road vehicle classes. However, many governments feel unprepared for the operation of large numbers of vehicle fleets on public roads without people behind the wheel. New infrastructure investments, communication network upgrades, the need for fleets to operate in varied conditions, and concerns about cybersecurity are often cited as primary reasons for government concern.
In the early deployment of fully automated vehicles, a driver will still need to be present to monitor vehicle status and deal with the more complex traffic situations. That period could last 5-10 years in challenging environments. Nevertheless, according to Navigant Research’s recent report Automated Driving Vehicles, markets are inexorably heading toward highly automated driving—which is expected to debut by 2020 and start to grow rapidly as soon as 2025.
The question is whether cities are heading toward a future where small, on-demand, cheap car fleets are used as complementary options in city transport or for a major overhaul where nearly every trip is executed by a personal, automated driver. Economics, convenience, and safety will drive the shift toward on-demand automated vehicle services. If managed properly and coordinated as part of a multimodal transportation ecosystem, this shift could lead to reduced traffic congestion in cities, lowered demand for parking spaces, and beneficial energy and environmental impacts.
Redefining Urban Transformation
To highlight how this mobility transition will redefine the urban transportation environment, this white paper lays out a high adoption scenario of automated vehicles into the total fleet in a model city with 3 million inhabitants who collectively own 1.5 million personal vehicles. Due to the synergistic effect between driving automation, connectivity, the MaaS model, and the switch to cleaner powertrains, significant improvements can be achieved in a number of areas of concern to city governments and citizens. Figure 1.1 highlights Navigant Research’s analysis on the model city.
A Bright Future Is Not Inevitable
In light of its prospective positive impacts, the future of automated vehicles appears bright. However, to reach their potential, it will be crucial that automated vehicle fleets are operated as part of a multimodal ecosystem and integrated with public transport options. Together, these provide a spectrum of mobility solutions accessible to all regardless of economic status or location.
Moreover, to fully capitalize on the promised benefits, municipal governments must play a role in the mobility system design. Questions remain in regard to the development of support infrastructure (e.g., charging stations for electric automated vehicles) and there are outstanding legal and ethical hurdles. To make this revolution possible, concerns must be addressed by key stakeholder groups. Navigant Research provides recommendations for each of these groups…
Recommendations For Key Stakeholders
The mobility service revolution in cities will have crucial implications for three key stakeholder groups. Before it takes place though, several issues need to be addressed. Navigant Research has developed a set of recommendations for each of the key stakeholder groups.
City planners and regulators:
‐ Establish legislative and ethical rules enabling operationalization of automated vehicles and MaaS in the city.
‐ Quantify the potential contribution to the city’s goals regarding local pollution, traffic management, and climate impact.
‐ Investigate the implications on public transport by focusing on behavioral aspects of city dwellers.
‐ Incentivize use of shared automated vehicle mobility fleets over personal vehicles and integrate them with mass transit to achieve optimal societal benefits. Aim to create multimodality systems.
‐ Quantify the potential impact on public areas and potential economic gains (e.g., by selling depaved areas to private entities).
‐ Investigate the infrastructure and spatial planning needs for charging and/or hydrogen refueling stations.
‐ Collaborate with mobility providers to ensure that services deployed meet the unique challenges of each city and its residents. Cities with large numbers of low income residents or lower population density (such as Detroit) have different challenges to address than somewhere as dense as Beijing or Mumbai, or even San Francisco.
‐ Hold MaaS providers, manufacturers, and communications responsible for cybersecurity and resilience at all levels from the vehicle to the edge to the cloud. Exploits of vulnerabilities could put many lives at risk and discourage residents from adopting automated mobility services.
• Car manufacturers and mobility companies:
‐ Determine which cities are best suited to be first adopters based on factors like engagement of city stakeholders with innovative and smart mobility options or city design and geographic characteristics.
‐ Examine the disruptive shifts in the value chain revenue model. Identify areas of strategic focus.
‐ Define (new) customer groups and their demand patterns, consider expansion to provide new services (e.g., insourced vehicle maintenance).
‐ Develop powertrain of the future strategy by combining the knowledge on cost developments and city goals in regard to environmental impacts.
‐ Develop a range of services and vehicle types to meet the differing needs of cities based on population density, climate, and demographics.
‐ Put safety and security above all else. If consumers are not confident in the reliability and security of automated systems, they may resist adoption.
• Utilities and energy companies:
‐ Quantify the demand shift for different energy carriers and investigate the impact on current energy infrastructure.
‐ Investigate the risk of asset stranding; i.e., will the infrastructure required for the early adopters still be needed in the high adoption phase?
‐ Collaborate with regulators and the transport value chain on infrastructure development in the cities. Identify the first movers proactively.
‐ Examine the plausibility of hydrogen as a transport fuel. What are the enabling conditions that would make hydrogen competitive with electrical transport?
The building blocks for automated driving systems are available, and Navigant Research forecasts that highly automated vehicles should be ready to deploy in volume by 2025. At the same time, various players from both inside and outside of the transportation sector are active in the development of the MaaS model. More likely, these on-demand automated services will be operating vehicle fleets with electric and/or hydrogen powertrains due to both regulatory and market pressures. These trends combined—fitting well with the principles of sharing and circular economy—have the potential to bring truly positive economic, environmental, and social impacts, all examined in this report. There are barriers present that might slow down the development, most notably infrastructural, legal, and ethical ones, but none of these seem prohibitive for the expected rollout of automated vehicle fleets.
Key to unleashing this mobility revolution in a positive direction will be a collaborative management from a number of stakeholders (city planners and regulators, transportation companies, utilities, and energy companies). The future of city transport must be a multimodality ecosystem with public transport options integrated with automated vehicle fleets, which together provide a spectrum of mobility solutions accessible to all regardless of economic status or location.
Its effects will spread unequally on different service providers. However, strategic positioning of the affected players can open up additional revenue streams (e.g., system orchestration) for some or limit the damage done to others (e.g., oil companies diversifying to green hydrogen production, or car rental companies providing maintenance and support to automated vehicle fleets not operated by OEMs).
More investigation and analysis, in particular regarding the points listed in Section 5, are crucial in order to fully understand and adequately prepare for the future of transportation in cities.
The “Fight-Climate-Change” Diet The diet that helps fight climate change; Do we all have to go vegan to save the world?
Andy Murdock, December 12, 2017 (VOX)
“…While only around six percent of the U.S. identifies as vegan, according to one recent survey, Americans are starting to embrace some vegetarian habits: Per capita beef consumption has been declining since the 1970s, dropping off steeply in the last decade…[If everyone were to move toward] the Mediterranean diet — which is rich in nuts and beans and has a lot of fish, maybe chicken once a week, maybe red meat only once a month…[it would be] the equivalent of taking about a billion or more cars of pollution out of the planet every year…[G]lobal adoption of a Mediterranean diet could help reduce global warming by up to 15 percent by 2050…[The Mediterranean diet also] can reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases…[and increase] overall longevity…[Eliminating 90 percent of meat intake is more important than eliminating all of it and it] can take a bite out of climate change.” click here for more
Market For Advanced EV Batteries To Quadruple By 2026 Market Data: Advanced Energy Storage for…Light Duty Passenger and Medium and Heavy Duty Buses and Trucks…
4Q 2017 (Navigant Research)
“EV sales continue to rise rapidly around the world. Declining battery costs have positioned these vehicles for dramatic market success in the years to come, and long-range EVs are now competitive in price among economy brands after subsidies. This milestone marks a threshold likely to move EVs from a niche vehicle option to the next vehicle option for many light duty (LD) and some medium/heavy duty (MD/HD) vehicle consumers. Due to the effect of emissions compliance requirements, charging infrastructure considerations, and customer awareness, sales of battery EVs (BEVs), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), and hybrid EVs (HEVs)—collectively referred to as xEVs—continue to vary in popularity across all regions…[Lithium ion (Li-ion) battery chemistry] has taken precedence, particularly with BEVs and PHEVs [and advanced battery energy capacity for automotive applications is expected to increase from 125 gwh in 2017 to 568 gwh in 2026]…” click here for more
The Low Lifecycle Costs In New Energy New study smashes myths about “embodied” energy in wind and solar
Simon Evans, 12 December 2017 (Carbon Brief via RenewEconomy)
“Building solar, wind or nuclear plants creates an insignificant carbon footprint compared with savings from avoiding fossil fuels…[Understanding future emissions from low-carbon power systems by integration of life-cycle assessment and integrated energy modelling, which] measures the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of a range of sources of electricity out to 2050, shows] the carbon footprint of solar, wind and nuclear power are many times lower than coal or gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS). This remains true after accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply…Critics sometimes argue that nuclear, wind or solar power have a hidden carbon footprint, due to their manufacture and construction…Yet zero-carbon sources of electricity are not the only ones to have a hidden, indirect carbon and energy footprint…For coal and gas, these lifecycle energy uses and emissions come from extraction machinery and fuel transport. Significantly, they also come from methane leaks at pipelines, well heads or coal mines. These lifecycle emissions continue, even if coal or gas plants add CCS, which also may not capture 100% of emissions at the power plant…” click here for more
Two Markets, Overlapping Goals; Exploring The Intersection Of Rps And Voluntary Markets For Renewable Energy In The U.S.
Todd Jones, July 2017 (The RPS Collaborative)
State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) 1 and voluntary markets for renewable energy in the United States share a common history—both began around the same time in the late 1990s with the expansion of retail choice and the advent of certificate trading.2 Since then, they have grown side by side and each has been a significant driver of renewable energy development.3 Twenty years later, they continue to share common accounting infrastructure—renewable energy certificates (RECs) and REC tracking systems. Perhaps most importantly, voluntary and RPS compliance markets share a common objective: more renewable energy delivered to grid customers.
This paper explores interactions between RPS and voluntary markets for renewable energy in the U.S. and outlines principles for supporting continued growth of both markets. These principles preserve the ability of each market to make separate and incremental contributions to renewable energy, uphold accurate accounting, reduce complexity, and increase participation.
In the U.S., renewable power can be sold into a state RPS market (i.e., to meet compliance demand), where it is delivered to utility or supplier customers to meet state requirements. Or it can be sold into a separate voluntary market (i.e., to meet voluntary demand by companies and individuals or because it is economical), where it is either delivered to individual voluntary buyers or delivered to customers by a utility or supplier. Renewable energy projects may also sell their electricity into the broader wholesale power market, in which case it becomes part of the regional mix and is purchased as unspecified power.
Of the 29 state RPS programs in the U.S. (plus Washington DC), all but two are “consumptionbased,” meaning they require that a certain percentage of electricity sales, or delivered or consumed electricity, is met or supplied with renewable resources.4 In other words, RPS programs ensure that the electricity that customers receive includes renewable energy.
The voluntary market delivers renewable energy specifically to those customers who voluntarily purchase in excess or outside of what is required by law. Thousands of businesses and millions of individuals across the country voluntarily purchase green power and thousands of renewable energy generators, utilities and competitive suppliers across the country supply it to them, amounting to billions of kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually.5 Demand drivers in the voluntary market include environmental leadership; carbon footprint and sustainability goals; marketing, brand and reputational benefits; recognition by peers, NGOs and federal programs like the EPA’s Green Power Partnership and Leadership Awards6 ; and increasingly, cost stability and savings…
Tracking and Verification
Both RPS and voluntary markets require a mechanism for determining who is getting the renewable energy that is generated. Renewable energy (and in fact all specified generation) cannot be physically delivered on a shared grid to specific customers; delivery and use can only be determined contractually. In the U.S., RECs are used as the essential accounting and tracking tool in both markets to allocate renewable generation to specific customers and to purchase green power, either to demonstrate RPS compliance or meet voluntary demand.
RECs provide a standardized currency for renewable energy. They can help facilitate transactions, lower transaction costs, increase market participation, and increase available electricity product options. Each REC represents the generation attributes of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable electricity that has been added to the grid. These attributes include the renewable fuel type, location, the greenhouse gas emissions profile (emissions per MWh) and the other environmental and social impacts and benefits of the generation. RECs are created at the point of generation, owned by the generator and then transacted to electricity distributors and suppliers (e.g., utilities) or directly to electricity consumers, either bundled with the electricity or separate from electricity. RECs are either created by a generator or issued by one of several electronic certificate tracking systems (REC tracking systems) that cover different regions of the U.S. Even in the case that a renewable generator is not registered with a tracking system, RECs are de facto created for each MWh of generation and may be transferred and retired contractually.
All options for voluntarily using and purchasing renewable electricity in the U.S., including onsite generation, must include RECs to substantiate a renewable energy usage or environ-- mental claim. 8 In RPS markets, RECs are retired by load-serving entities (LSEs) and other regulated entities to verify that they are complying with state requirements to provide their customers with renewable energy. In other words, RECs are required for state RPS programs to claim that renewable electricity is delivered to or generated on behalf of customers in that state and for customers in that state to claim to be receiving renewable electricity due to the RPS.
REC tracking systems provide exclusive issuance, trading, and retirement of RECs within markets for renewable energy to support compliance and credible claims. They also provide verification of generation data and can help ensure full aggregation of attributes. In these tracking systems, RECs are electronically serialized and issued to generators with accounts; they are tracked between account holders, and ultimately permanently retired or cancelled electronically by the entity making the claim or on behalf of an end-user making a claim.
Each renewable generator registered with a tracking system has certificates issued for all its production that is put onto the grid. RECs are issued for all generation from registered generators and no RECs from registered generators are transferred outside of the tracking system. Transactions outside of REC tracking systems with facilities that are not registered are limited to special cases (e.g. where participation in the tracking system is too costly for very small generation units).
Although REC tracking systems were sometimes initially built to serve either RPSs or the voluntary market, they, like the RECs themselves, are used or have been adapted to serve both markets. Tracking systems can help standardize and synchronize accounting rules and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) practices between markets.
Figure 1 shows the regional REC tracking systems in the U.S. and Canada. All but two of them are quasi-governmental functional support entities. The Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETs) is an independent non-profit, though it is referenced in state legislation. The North American Renewables Registry (NAR) is a private tracking system run by the private firm APX9 to cover generation in states and provinces that are not covered by other tracking systems, mainly non-RPS states.
RPS markets are subnational, as they are intended to produce “local” (which can be in-state or regional) renewable energy development and benefits. The voluntary renewable energy market, on the other hand, is national in scope, 10 so that voluntary purchasers can access renewable energy from across the country at the lowest cost. While the voluntary market uses regional REC tracking systems, each with slightly different issuance rules, this does not produce separate voluntary markets. RECs issued in any state or tracking system can be sold to and claimed by voluntary customers anywhere across the country. Voluntary buyers who want to purchase renewable energy from nearby generators can do so and there are "sub-markets" within the overall voluntary market based on consumer preferences for certain resource types, locations, product types, age of facilities or specific benefits, but these are considered part of the overall voluntary market and buyers may be located across the U.S.
This means that while individual projects serving voluntary customers are located in individual states and produce local benefits, the voluntary market aggregates demand from across the country to drive renewable energy development at a national level. This development is not evenly distributed across the country. This is illustrated in Figure 2 and Figure 3 below, which show that the majority of voluntary supply comes from the middle of the country, while the majority of voluntary sales are made on the coasts.
Eligibility and Oversight
In the case of RPS programs, eligibility requirements are set by the states. Oversight and verification is provided by designated state agencies. RPS programs define the renewable resources or technologies that are eligible for compliance, and they can include “carve outs” or sub-quotas for certain technologies. Alternatively, some RPS programs use credit “multipliers” or incentive credits to incentivize certain technologies or generation to meet different policy goals. RPS programs can also specify or include buckets for different types of eligible procure-ment (for example, “bundled” vs. “unbundled” renewable energy). And RPS programs set rules for REC vintage and for whether RECs created in one year can be banked for use in a future year.
The voluntary market is, for the most part, not regulated by governmental agencies. Rather, private, third-party standards and certifications are used to verify delivery and ownership. Green-e® is the leading third-party certification for voluntary renewable energy in the U.S. and Canada. Like state RPS programs, third-party standards for the voluntary market limit eligibility and set rules in terms of technology, date of facility construction/operation, and vintage of eligible sales. For example, Green-e limits eligibility based on date of construction, technology (limited biomass and hydropower), and REC vintage (certified sales made in a particular calendar year must be supplied with renewable energy generated in that year, the last six months of the prior year, or the first three months of the following year).
Green-e also includes requirements that limit the location and type of supply that may be used for certain renewable energy products. For example, supply used for certified competitive electricity products and utility green pricing programs is limited to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) region, Independent System Operator (ISO), Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) or Balancing Authority Area of the customers being served. Other rules at Green-e seek to ensure that the voluntary renewable energy and its benefits are surplus to those that are already delivered through state and federal programs and policies.11
The voluntary market includes a wide variety of product types—from onsite self-generation to direct purchasing from specific generators to retail purchasing from a utility, competitive supplier, or REC marketer. These transactions may be bundled or unbundled…
Intersections between RPS and Voluntary Markets
There are many examples of facilities that were initially built to supply one market or the other and have since gone on to supply the other. This is good for both markets. For example, 360 wind facilities located in 29 states covering all regions of the country supplied both Green-e voluntary sales and state RPS programs in 2015. 20
The voluntary and RPS markets also intersect in certain 100 percent renewable energy purchases—that is, they can work together to deliver 100 percent renewable energy. Certain voluntary programs, including Green-e, allow RPS renewable energy that also meets voluntary standard requirements to be included in 100 percent renewable electricity products that are sold by utilities subject to an RPS, so that voluntary purchasers do not have to purchase more than 100 percent renewable energy. For example, if the RPS is 25 percent and the utility is offering a 100 percent renewable energy voluntary product, the utility could potentially include the 25 percent RPS and provide an additional 75 percent renewables. If the 25 percent RPS meets the Green-e standard, the whole product, including the RPS portion, can be Green-e certified and the product content label would simply indicate 25 percent RPS and 75 percent voluntary. Other voluntary recognition programs do not allow this and will only recognize voluntary action.
Another increasingly important intersection of voluntary and RPS markets is in corporate purchases or procurement that involves “REC arbitrage.” The existence of a national voluntary market can make it financially feasible for businesses and institutions to finance renewable energy projects that help a state meet its RPS compliance goals while allowing the financing organization to claim use of renewable energy. In regions where REC prices are high, due to strong RPS programs or limited local supply, a business or institution can dramatically lower its net cost of building renewable energy by selling the RECs into the local compliance market. But the business would still need RECs to substantiate its own usage and make credible usage and carbon footprint claims. The company can arbitrage RECs using the national voluntary market— the RECs from the owned generation can be sold off in the local compliance market to lower the net cost of the project and then cheaper RECs from the national voluntary market can be purchased, resulting in a cost savings. In this case, the specified renewable energy purchase is defined by the REC ultimately owned, and the customer cannot claim use of electricity from the local project, which was sold off. But this is an important example of how private investment and voluntary demand can support compliance markets without double counting or damaging voluntary claims.
Principles for Supporting Compliance and Voluntary Market Growth
There are three general conditions for credible voluntary renewable energy claims in the U.S.21
No double counting. To ensure consumer confidence and delivery of real benefits to voluntary buyers, the same renewable energy (or any single attribute) cannot be counted or claimed more than once or by more than one party.
Full attribute aggregation. Voluntary renewable energy usage claims require that customers own all of the associated environmental and social attributes of generation. None of the attributes that help define that generation can have been sold off, transferred, or claimed elsewhere. Most tracking systems and voluntary programs in the U.S. require that RECs include “all renewable energy attributes” or that they be “whole certificates.”
Regulatory surplus. Voluntary means surplus or in addition to what is required by regulation. Voluntary buyers expect their investments to make an incremental difference. Voluntary renewable energy should be in excess of what is required by law and not simply reduce the costs of compliance for regulated entities.
In all RPS states except Texas and Iowa, avoiding double counting will produce regulatory surplus for voluntary renewable energy.22 This is because the RPS requires delivery of renewable energy to grid consumers and renewable energy can only be delivered once to a single party. In this case, ensuring that the REC is not double counted in the voluntary market and toward an RPS will also ensure that it is surplus to the RPS if sold in the voluntary market.
In these states, a single renewable facility may supply both the voluntary and compliance markets, but a single unit of renewable generation (MWh) must be used for one or the other.
With these general conditions and interactions in mind, the following are steps that RPS programs can take if they want to facilitate and support voluntary renewable energy.
1. Leave room for the voluntary market to go above and beyond what is required by the RPS…2. Use RECs…3. Align the state’s REC definition with other states and the voluntary market to the extent possible…4. Use REC tracking systems... 5. Take steps to avoid double counting…6. Protect regulatory surplus for the voluntary market…7. Avoid disaggregating attributes or splitting RECs…8. Consider the implications of creating multipliers that complicate accounting…
Implications of Increasing RPS Targets for Voluntary Markets
As shown above, RPS markets and the voluntary market grow together. Historically, we have seen voluntary activity continue to grow in places where there is a strong RPS and state-level clean energy policy. But the actual effect of increasing RPS targets on specific voluntary market dynamics depends on RPS eligibility requirements and market boundaries because this determines the available supply relative to RPS demand and the local REC price. Though voluntary demand can remain unaffected or actually increase with an increase to the RPS, the supply used to meet that demand may shift to locations outside of the RPS market boundary due to increased prices. Voluntary purchasers without a preference for “local” renewable energy may use the national voluntary market to procure the cheapest renewable energy. A stronger RPS can therefore create benefits for other regions in terms of voluntary renewable energy. It can grow voluntary supply in other regions, expand the voluntary market, and lead to more interstate trading of voluntary renewable energy.
For example, the NEPOOL and PJM regions include some of the strongest RPS programs in the country. They are also historically supply-limited regions. Table 2 shows Green-e certified voluntary purchases (sales)30 along with generation in these regions supplying Green-e sales (supply). The dramatic difference between sales and supply (sales far in excess of local supply) indicates that voluntary purchasers in these regions are getting most of their renewable energy from outside the region.
RPS and voluntary markets share a common history and overlapping goals. In order for RPS and voluntary markets to remain mutually beneficial, they should remain separate and incremental, and the integrity of common market infrastructure, including RECs and REC tracking systems, should be preserved and protected. RPS administrators can help achieve this by following the general principles laid out above and by working with other state agencies to support the voluntary market. There are important opportunities for growing both markets where they intersect—namely, through facilities that supply both markets, 100 percent renewable energy products, and corporate procurement involving REC arbitrage.
N.C. Millennial Women Unite For Climate Fight Bringing women together to fight climate change; In Asheville, the Collider is changing the climate conversation — by including female voices
Lauryn Higgins, December 10. 2017 (Salon)
“…While the discussion surrounding climate change has come a long way…[there is still a] lack of women at the table…[The Collider, a North Carolina science and business innovation advocacy group, is working to change that because it sees women as] not only a necessity to providing climate change solutions in the field of science, but in every field…[A recent study showed] that educating women…[is a powerful way to avoid emissions and by slowing] population growth…[because women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health…[The Collider’s leaders say that as women come into climate science leadership roles it is] changing the course for what is to come…” click here for more
The White House Threat To New Energy Solar and Wind Power Face Serious Threats From the Trump Administration
Justin Worland, December 8, 2017 (Time)
“…[C]lean energy developers face a slew of unanticipated threats from the White House and Republicans in Congress that could slow the industry’s growth in ways unimaginable just a year ago…[E]nergy analysts were skeptical of his promise to [use regulatory rollbacks to] reverse the market forces driving the decline in coal…But the administration has not stopped at mere deregulation. From the threat of a subsidy for coal-fired power plants to a tax bill that hurts the financing of clean-energy projects, Republicans in Washington have launched a campaign against renewable energy that includes market interventions that alarm other industries, including oil and gas…[A]dvocates of transitioning from fossil fuels are pushing back…[but] the changed mood in Washington threatens to undermine the confidence of companies planning to invest in renewables…[T]he Trump Administration may impose tariffs on solar panels imported from China…[That could] send the price of solar panels spiking and drive down new installations…A tariff would hurt the key Trump constituency of blue-collar workers and the proposal has faced opposition from conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation…Perhaps the most dramatic threat to renewable energy—and also the most unlikely to succeed—comes in the form of a proposed Department of Energy rule to [protect grid reliability by subsidizing] coal-fired and nuclear power plants…That argument has been widely panned, including by the Department’s own research. But the [Trump-appointed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] has final say…” click here for more
What’s Bad News In The Tax Bill For New Energy Another Victim Of The GOP Tax Bill? The Environment
Frederick Hewitt, December 11, 2017 (WBUR)
“…Most economists agree that the steep reductions in corporate tax rates [in the Republican tax plan] won’t stimulate nearly enough revenue to avoid bloating the deficit…To the list of economic sectors that will feel the hurt, add renewable energy…The House and Senate versions of the bill differ in their approaches to the wind and solar industries, but both are bad news for clean energy…[The Senate version jeopardizes] the financing of numerous clean energy projects under construction and [discourages] future clean energy investments…Wind projects have historically been financed using [the federal tax incentives]…With the proposed changes in the tax code, the tax credits for wind would be less valuable to potential investors because corporate tax rates would be lower and the credits would expire sooner…[The House version eliminates] the $7,500 tax credit for consumers who purchase electric vehicles…Its loss could be a serious blow to sales…[Both bills give big breaks to the oil and gas industry by opening new drilling opportunities and are] consistent with the pro-fossil-fuel positions that Trump and his party have been pushing…” click here for more