Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are the next new innovation that can change the landscape of the global energy transition in our favour, cheaply and fast, explain Liza Martin and Kevin Brehm at RMI. Essentially, they link and aggregate hundreds of thousands of households and businesses to manage their electrical devices. Their thermostats, EVs, appliances, batteries, and rooftop solar arrays are coordinated to ensure loads, charging and discharging … [Read more...]
The U.S. needs a plan to transfer electricity long distance between regions, like Europe and China
In the U.S. several hundred thousand miles of power lines connect thousands of electric generators. But whereas Europe and China, at a similar scale, have continental-scale grid development plans, the U.S. does not. Its grid is highly fragmented and consists of not one, but three separate power grids that are almost completely isolated from one another. It has twelve different transmission planning regions that must coordinate much better to cope … [Read more...]
Fossil fuel producers can decarbonise by exporting Electricity, Hydrogen, and Steel
The compelling reason why fossil fuel producers will be needed even beyond 2050 is that they currently provide over 80% of global energy, and 90% of the world’s population still needs the wealth creation that energy delivers, says Schalk Cloete. Given that, he summarises his co-authored paper that takes a close look at how a fossil exporter, Norway, can trade with an importer, Germany, while decarbonising. The modelling focusses on electricity … [Read more...]
U.S. FERC proposal for grid planning has serious flaws around benefits and beneficiaries
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in the midst of a key rulemaking on planning and building an electric grid. But the plan has serious flaws, says Mike Jacobs at UCS, rooted in the lack of coordination and control at the federal level. FERC wants the states to work with the utilities to define the sharing of benefits and costs from transmission, describe resource areas (like wind, solar, geothermal) where transmission is … [Read more...]
Hydrogen is also a greenhouse gas, so leaks must be minimised
Even leaked hydrogen can warm the climate. How serious is it as a greenhouse gas? How easy is it to minimise leaks? Thomas Koch Blank, Raghav Muralidharan, Kaitlyn Ramirez, Alexandra Wall and Tessa Weiss at RMI answer these important questions as the hydrogen ramp up begins. The first observation is that hydrogen is much less damaging than natural gas, even with minimal hydrogen leakage regulation. Nevertheless, the roll-out of this new energy … [Read more...]
China’s impressive growth in Renewables and Transmission now needs Market innovation
***REGISTER NOW for CHINA: Carbon Neutral by 2060 - INNOVATION*** - China has the world’s largest power plant fleet for both coal and renewables. Together they make up most of the total power capacity of over 2,200 GW... STOP PRESS: China's Transition is the biggest single opportunity for managing climate change and also for those businesses who are ready with the innovations that will ensure the best possible outomes in an incredibly … [Read more...]
What is Energy Security? And what it isn’t
What is energy security? That’s what Maximilian Auffhammer at the Energy Institute at Haas asks and tries to answer, and he starts by saying what it is not and what solutions should not be used. Not importing won’t help because prices are global. “Energy security” can’t be taxed as an externality for much the same reason. Subsidising high prices for consumers decreases the value of energy efficiency investments. Instead, Auffhammer says the … [Read more...]
Avoiding renewables bottlenecks needs long term planning of electricity transmission infrastructure
As more renewables are rapidly added to grids, network operators must plan new transmission lines to integrate them immediately, avoiding wasteful bottlenecks. It’s a puzzle that’s getting bigger and more complex as the energy transition gains pace, which means transmission policy and planning must improve, and fast. Rather than making lots of small incremental steps, planning ahead will prove less costly and capture efficiencies and economies of … [Read more...]
Will Wind & Solar confront its 10 challenges? If not, we need Nuclear, CCS, and more
Wind and solar’s impressive cost declines have seen its welcome and rapid emergence. But currently they account for a mere 2–4% of global energy. So these variable renewable energy sources (VREs) must now address 10 big challenges if they are to dominate the energy sector, explains Schalk Cloete in this data-led review. Their cost declines will be confronted and even cancelled by new costs they’ve not yet faced during their low-hanging-fruit … [Read more...]
DoE study: 45% of U.S. power from Solar by 2050. How?
This month, the White House released a U.S. Department of Energy report, the Solar Futures Study, on how solar power could generate up to 45% of the U.S. electricity supply by 2050. It’s less than 4% today. Joshua Rhodes at the University of Texas at Austin looks at what obstacles must be overcome. The good news is that the technology and engineering is already available. And solar’s advantage is that the sun shines nationwide. Other region and … [Read more...]
Can full-scale Distributed Solar really save $473bn in grid investments?
A giant model of the entire US electricity sector which captures distributed energy resource (DER) potential has been getting a lot of attention. It estimates that distributed solar and storage can save $473bn in system-wide costs when deployed at scale (enough to power more than 25% of US homes). Rooftop solar is definitely much more expensive than grid generation, but its location (on your own roof) avoids a range of costly transmission and … [Read more...]
Hydrogen: can gas, electricity and industrial majors agree on the next steps?
Here’s our written summary of our panel debate held on 16th June “Hydrogen: Designing the Net Zero Gas System”. With representatives from BASF, SNAM and ELIA to cover consumption, gas and electricity, there were plenty of differences of opinion. For example, with no end in sight for demand for green electricity for the grid, is it efficient to use some of it for hydrogen? Will subsidies for hydrogen skew markets away from industrial … [Read more...]
How to keep Wind and Solar profitable as its electricity gets cheaper
Success can cause problems. As wind and solar penetration increases the electricity it generates gets cheaper. If it stops being profitable we’ll stop building it, thus endangering our emissions-free goals. Dev Millstein at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory summarises their research paper that looks at how market value changed over time at 2,100 utility-scale power plants across major power markets in the U.S., using 2019 data. It’s clear … [Read more...]
Public opposition and grid integration costs: the two limiting factors for Wind?
Are we heading for an over-reliance on wind? With wind generation costs continuing to drop dramatically, Schalk Cloete takes a data-driven look at the obstacles wind will face as its contribution to the global energy mix (a little over 2% today) keeps rising. In the main, it is grid integration and public opposition to very visible turbines – and they are related. Putting turbines out of sight and offshore will increase transmission costs. And … [Read more...]
Rooftop Solar: economies of scale can challenge the centralised grid
One of our recent articles explained how rooftop solar PV is more expensive that a centralised supply, and that the transmission and distribution cost savings of the rooftop system, on their own, do not make up for this cost difference. Here, Javier López Prol at the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz, responds to those challenges. First, the economies of scale of distributed rooftop solar are yet to be realised. … [Read more...]