Energy Exchange

The latest trends in renewable-energy tech, markets, and policy

By Energy Dialogues

Renewable energy, and its role in energy future, is an intense topic that spans across all corners of the energy spectrum. For example, our recent Mexican Energy Series featured a lively discussion of whether Mexico is on course for the 2024 target of 35% renewable energy, and what this pledge means for the country. Each year, as new corporations, municipalities, and countries make bold and vocal commitments to offsetting energy consumption, and to pursuing clean energy resources at a higher level, the conversation intensifies.

For an insider perspective about the current state of renewable energy, we called upon Lenae Shirley, Senior Director, Technology Innovation and Market Adoption for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Lenae is working at the nexus of technology, markets and policy, leading efforts with EDF’s demonstration partners to prove the impact of clean technology innovations. As a result of these initiatives, Lenae identifies trends and market opportunities to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector, with data-driven decisions that push forward market adoption for renewable methods. Here is our conversation. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

Recommendations for a resilient grid, no federal coal bailout required

By Michael Panfil, Rama Zakaria

In the past year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has used the issue of grid resilience as cover for an aggressive campaign to funnel a multi-billion-dollar yearly bailout to the owners of old, uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants. Although this DOE effort was rightly rejected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in January, the issue of resilience remains.

In denying DOE’s proposal, FERC (the agency responsible for overseeing our nation’s electric grid) asked regional grid operators to report practices they are currently implementing to ensure a reliable, resilient electric grid. In March, grid operators filed their reports, which generally concluded that the grid is resilient and we don’t need uneconomic coal and nuclear plants to keep the lights on.

Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) – alongside numerous other stakeholders from business, academia, industry, and public interest organizations – submitted to FERC individual and joint comments on these grid operator reports and the topic of grid resilience. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Market resilience / Read 2 Responses

Permian a litmus test for oil and gas industry’s methane targets

This blog was co-authored by Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden.

What may be becoming the world’s largest oil field may also be the world’s largest test for the oil and gas industry’s commitments to setting targets for driving down methane emissions.

Several major oil and gas producers, including BP and XTO, have announced strategies in recent months to limit methane emissions. And several more including Shell, Pemex and Statoil have committed to a near-zero methane future and announced plans to release reduction targets this fall.

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

New study answers the question, ‘What is grid resilience?’

By Rama Zakaria, Michael Panfil

Whether or not our electric grid is “resilient,” and what if anything should be done to make the grid more resilient, has been a topic of intense scrutiny in the past year.

The stakes in this debate reached new dimensions last fall with a highly controversial proposal by Sec. Rick Perry and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which claimed that the resilience of the electric grid is threatened by the premature retirement of uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. DOE’s flawed proposal – to bail out these plants through a profit-guarantee mechanism – was considered and unanimously rejected in January by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency charged with overseeing our nation’s electric grid. DOE’s proposal, in short, was an incredibly bad idea.

When FERC dismissed DOE’s proposal it opened a new proceeding, asking a series of questions around the topic of grid resilience.

A Customer-focused Framework for Electric System Resilience, a new report authored by Alison Silverstein and Grid Strategies, aims to answer these questions. The report, commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council, recommends a customer-centric framework for evaluating electric system resilience and concludes that the most effective resilience solutions center upon the wires connecting the grid: distribution, and to a lesser extent transmission. By contrast, generation-related solutions – like keeping dirty coal and uneconomic nuclear plants online past their retirement dates – are the least effective for improving resilience. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, FirstEnergy, Grid Modernization, Market resilience, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

Four ways California utilities can make a big dent in reducing methane emissions

This blog was co-authored by Tim O'Connor and Ellison Folk, an Environmental Attorney at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger.

California utilities finally have a set of plans to cut methane leakage from the state’s natural gas pipelines. This is good news, but there are still a handful of improvements that could help make the state’s gas pipelines leak even less.

Methane leakage is a serious environmental and safety issue that afflicts the entire natural gas supply chain. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that must be reduced if California is to reach is ambitious climate goals.

Even before the Aliso Canyon disaster attracted national attention, California passed a groundbreaking law (SB 1371) requiring public utilities to reduce natural gas emissions. Last June, the California Public Utilities Commissioned ruled utilities must adopt plans that implement 26 best practices (See Appendix B) to reduce methane emissions.

Read More »

Posted in California, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Boosting power grid resilience with pre-storm community planning and business investments

By Ronny Sandoval, Kate Zerrenner

Eight months after Hurricane Harvey, affected communities are still rebuilding their lives and businesses.

One area that hasn’t required as much attention to rebuild: Texas’ electricity grid. Shortly after the storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s main grid operator, said, “The ERCOT grid has remained stable, and competitive electricity markets have continued to operate normally.” That said, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power during the storm’s peak. Therefore, the state’s electricity restoration after Harvey is a story of resilience – and an opportunity to do better the next time around.

Though the impact and $125 billion in damages that Harvey caused were catastrophic, some of the investments and decisions made in Texas well before the storm allowed for faster restoration of power than would have been the case just a few years prior. Plus, renewable energy resources like wind turbines and solar panels can play a role in strengthening grid resilience. Investments in modern technologies – like digital controls, microgrids, and distributed energy – hold the keys to protecting people in towns and cities most susceptible to future powerful storms, and they provide insights for how Texas can prepare for the next power disruption. Read More »

Posted in Grid Modernization, Texas / Comments are closed