In the U.S. a growing number of states and regulators are directing utilities to look for alternatives to proposed gas-fired power plants, citing environmental justice and community health impacts, explain Caitlin Odom and Lauren Shwisberg at RMI. So it’s not just about emissions: pollution matters too. The authors quote studies that show clean energy portfolios (CEPs) not only reduce energy costs, but can save billions of dollars in community … [Read more...]
U.S. Residential Distributed Solar: still getting cheaper, installation and permitting too, more batteries
John Rogers at UCS reviews the new and comprehensive “Tracking the Sun” report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which covers both residential and non-residential “grid-connected, distributed” solar PV systems in the U.S. There has been clear progress across the board, including PV module efficiency, system costs, installation and permitting, and the uptake of batteries. For example, median efficiency for modules in residential systems … [Read more...]
If most truck journeys are less than 300 miles the E-Truck revolution can happen now
What proportion of trucks today could go electric? That’s the question Emily Porter at RMI has asked for California and New York. The answer is 65% of medium-duty trucks and 49% of heavy-duty trucks. Those are very encouragingly high numbers. RMI’s definition of “electrifiable” is if they travel fewer than 300 miles between trips to their home bases. The study gathered real data on how freight trucks are driven today. Clearly, a large number of … [Read more...]
U.S. Solar breaks new records. What’s needed to keep the momentum?
The latest available data reveals it’s been a record breaking 2021 for U.S. solar. John Rogers at UCS runs through the highlights. Solar passed the 100GW milestone, with 23.6GW newly installed, up 19% on 2020 and 77% up on 2019. Solar was the biggest source of new electric generating capacity for the third year in a row. Residential, non-residential and utility-scale all performed well. Across the nation, solar accounted for 3.9% of total … [Read more...]
Solar + Storage Hybrid plants are poised for explosive growth in the U.S.
At the beginning of 2021 the U.S. had 73 solar and 16 wind hybrid projects, amounting to 2.5GW of generation and 0.45GW of storage. By the end of 2021, over a third of the 675GW of solar in the grid connection queue were hybrids, and 19GW were wind hybrids. Only one in four typically get approved, built and connected. But that still points at a twenty-five-fold increase in hybrid generation. It’s why Joachim Seel, Ben Paulos and Will Gorman at … [Read more...]
Can Carbon Offset loopholes be fixed with better evaluation and rules?
Carbon offset programmes rightly get a lot of criticism. There’s plenty of evidence of offsets not delivering all the GHG emissions reductions they are credited for. Though still on the international agenda, should they be ditched? Or can they be improved with better analysis and evaluation, and making that a pre-condition for creating carbon offset credits, asks Meredith Fowlie at the Energy Institute at Haas. She starts by looking at those … [Read more...]
California: Designing electricity rates that are fair and encourage EV and Heat Pump take-up
Electricity prices in California are not fair and not good for incentivising electrification, says James Sallee at the Energy Institute at Haas, because of the way people are being billed. There is no doubt that electrification (grid upgrades, etc.) and climate mitigation (including controlling California’s wildfires caused by power cable failures) must add to the cost of transition. But Californians can now find themselves paying up to twice the … [Read more...]
Case studies: Strategic EV funding starts with an Essential Charging Network
Building a nationwide EV charging network is a daunting prospect. Camille Kadoch and Julia Hildermeier at RAP look at those places that are being strategic about it, starting with an essential network that will allay the concerns of consumers on the verge of buying an EV but put off by worries that they will get stuck somewhere with a flat battery. That’s frustrating, given the average American drives only 37 miles a day and Europeans 32 … [Read more...]
Are EV owners driving less than we thought?
Research from California, the EV leader in the U.S., suggests that EV owners drive their vehicles half as much as the average gasoline car owner. Catherine Wolfram at the Haas School of Business explains that their research project reveals mileage data is so hard to gather that it’s difficult to know what’s actually going on. Is the data wrong (they don’t think so), or are EVs only being bought by drivers who don't use a car much? If so, the … [Read more...]
New Berkeley Lab Report Documents Trends in System Impacts, Reliability and Market Value of Solar in the United States
By Andrew Mills and Joachim Seel, Berkeley Lab As solar generation increases, it is expected to progressively impact the bulk power system—changing prices for energy and other grid services. Solar generation is driven by sunshine and thus often highly correlated over the course of a day within a region. Without the deployment of storage or an increase in price-responsive load, growth in solar capacity is … [Read more...]
We’re making much more progress decarbonising Electricity than Transport. Why?
In the OECD, since 2000, electricity sector emissions have fallen by 8% while transport emissions have actually increased by 5%. The best performers like the UK recorded drops in both: 40% and 6% respectively. In the U.S. it’s 25% and 0%. Catherine Wolfram at the Haas School of Business asks why transport is still going in the wrong direction, given the power sector’s progress. She posits three theories. Rich nations are outsourcing … [Read more...]
Rolling out EV charging infrastructure beyond cities
“Range anxiety” causes people not to buy EVs because they’re afraid they won’t be able to travel very far if charging facilities don’t extend beyond metropolitan centres. Jimmy Gilman at RMI describes their study of what infrastructure exists on the outskirts of U.S. cities, and at tourist destinations and airports outside the cities. 60 cities, encompassing more than 57% of the U.S. population, have been given scores. The coastal areas perform … [Read more...]
A pathway for profitable CCS in California
A study from the energy departments of Stanford University, from where Kara Glenwright writes, lays out a pathway for California to capture and store up to 60 Mt (million tonnes) of CO2 a year. 76 site locations have been identified where work could start immediately to store 20 Mt/yr profitably under the existing low carbon rules. But first a raft of clarifications on the laws is needed, showing that the success of CCS doesn’t just depend on the … [Read more...]
E-Trucks need infrastructure, not just cheaper batteries
The electrification of road freight has great potential, but there are some big gaps that first have to be bridged. Writing for IRENA, Dolf Gielen, Francisco Boshell, Guy Lentz and Sita Holtslag explain what needs to be done to ensure that the technological advances and cost reductions happening at the forefront of e-mobility are quickly delivered onto our roads. To illustrate the problem: in Europe over half of road freight is transported less … [Read more...]
Enhanced Weathering: crushed rocks spread on farmland can capture billions of tons of CO2/year
Enhanced Weathering is a carbon capture process that could remove over 2bn tons of CO2 each year (for comparison, the U.S. emitted 5.3bn in 2018), explains Benjamin Houlton at the University of California. Silicate minerals exposed to the weather have been sequestering atmospheric carbon and turning it into rock since the dawn of time, but it’s a process that normally takes thousands of years. This period can be cut to two years by grinding … [Read more...]