The New Year is a time for reflection, beginning with a look back on the previous 12 months and all that they brought. A quick scan of the U.S. climate and energy news in 2014 will tell you it was a very big year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the U.S. and China struck a historic climate deal, and Tesla broke ground in Nevada on the largest advanced automotive-battery factory in the world – a move that’s expected to slash the cost of lithium ion batteries by a third. At the same time that these important national and international advancements were grabbing headlines, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our partners were working together to incrementally transform the U.S. electricity system by rewriting outdated regulations, spurring energy services markets, and modernizing our century-old electric grid.
The U.S. is on the verge of a revolution in the way we make, move, and use energy. And, having spent years working on governmental and regulatory matters related to our power system and lessening its impact on the environment, I can honestly say there has never been a more exciting time to be in this field. Here are a few of the moments that were near and dear to our hearts over the past year, developments I see as a sure signal 2015 will be another epic year for clean energy. Read More
Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Illinois, Investor Confidence Project, New Jersey, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas, Utility Business Models
Since the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) opened its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding in the spring to modernize the state’s electricity system, a lot has happened. Namely, New York utilities are already working to align themselves with the broad objectives outlined in the REV proceeding. Here is an overview of efforts by the state’s big players:
CON EDISON – Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Program
Growth in electricity demand in parts of Brooklyn and Queens is taxing infrastructure and will require action from Con Edison to ensure reliability. Con Edison could pursue a costly $1 billion substation upgrade to meet this rising demand. Instead, the utility is slashing needed investment by half and plans to invest around $500 million – $305 million in traditional utility investments and $200 million clean energy resources – to address the area’s growing energy needs as part of its Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management program. Measures include:
- Demand Response (a tool that pays customers to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed): A new demand response system from energy services provider Alstom, which would allow 3.3 million customers to be compensated for the value they provide to the grid.
- Energy Storage: Battery-based energy storage for electricity produced when electricity demand is low (off-peak hours) for use when demand is high (peak periods), easing the burden on the electric grid at those times.
- Microgrids (which generate electricity nearby or on-site where it’s consumed): The development of microgrids to improve resiliency and enable the aforementioned demand response system.
- Electric Grid Resilience and Optimization: Expanded use of smart meters, which provide detailed electricity use data throughout the day, will improve response time to power outages and give customers more control over their energy usage.
EDF’s Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technologies and ideas.
When someone says the word “storage,” the first thing that usually comes to mind are boxes stuffed into the back of the closet, or that deserted facility with orange doors near the freeway off-ramp.
These days, energy innovators across California are giving storage a whole new meaning – and helping to revolutionize the system that brings electricity to homeowners and businesses alike. One of the entities leading this revolution is Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), a utility in the midst of piloting new battery energy storage technology to determine how effectively it can provide a variety of grid services, including the integration of intermittent renewable generation from solar and wind.
Increasing amounts of distributed energy generation in both urban and rural areas – coupled with increasing customer demand associated with things like population growth and consumer electronics – makes energy storage an important tool to keep generation and energy use in balance. This balancing function is an important asset for integrating renewables into the grid, as storage can soak up solar and wind energy when they are abundant and discharge that energy when it is otherwise unavailable. Through this charge / discharge cycle, energy storage could lower the need for traditional fossil fuel sources and reduce resultant air pollution. Read More
Business-friendly clean energy policies in North Carolina continue to support the success of clean energy companies – boosting job growth and economic development.
In the past 30 days alone, three corporate announcements illustrate the power of the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to expand their use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit, which rewards companies for investing in clean energy.
Strata Solar announced it has invested $1 billion in North Carolina solar energy, including 65 solar facilities in 40 counties, and employed 2,000 workers during the past five years.
The Chapel Hill-based company has the attention of Governor Pat McCrory, who praised its investment: Read More
By: Ellen Shea, Analyst, EDF Climate Corps
I recently read a white paper by Chet Lyons of the Energy Strategies Group performing a cost-benefits analysis of utility companies purchasing battery storage systems vs. simple cycle gas-fired combustion turbines (CT). These CT systems are typically used to regulate peaking capacity. The article shows how storage systems can be a great solution for utilities companies to keep up to date with the changing trends in energy in the US.
Lyons states that as we shift to using more and more renewable energy sources (such as solar PV), the electricity grid needs to be able to be more flexible to the fluctuations in supply of wind, solar, etc. In other words, we have to be able to better support the peaking capacity of the grid.
The paper makes the case for using energy storage systems as a way to meet the peaking resource needs of the grid from renewables, and also as a way for utilities to recoup some lost revenues. Lyons examined a new flow battery storage system by ViZn Energy and found it to be more effective, faster, and more flexible than traditional CTs. Additionally, following solar PV’s trend of declining costs, he believes that in the next three years these battery storage systems will be cost competitive with CTs. Read More
By: Dan Upham, Editor
We no longer fret over taxes on tea, but there’s another American Revolution forming in our great nation today. Like the colonist uprising 241 years ago, it’s fueled by a need to stand up against an outdated system that threatens our way of life.
It’s a battle over the future of American energy and our antiquated electric grid. And it centers around the way consumers, utilities, and investors interact with this vast network of powerlines, substations, and plants.
As Cheryl Roberto, who leads Environmental Defense Fund’s Clean Energy program, notes, “The U.S. is poised to spend around $2 trillion over the next two decades replacing our outdated electric infrastructure.”
That’s a lot of coin and a tremendous opportunity. Read More