Energy Exchange

Clean energy – not natural gas – drove decarbonization in 2017

Despite attempts by the Trump administration and the coal industry to limit clean energy in favor of fossil fuels – including a tariff on solar energy, a thinly-disguised bailout for coal and nuclear power plants (that was rightly rejected), and a dramatic proposed cut to energy research – we are accelerating the transition to a cleaner electric grid. In fact, last year was the first time the reduction in power sector emissions can be attributed more to energy conservation and renewable energy than switching from coal to natural gas.

The new 2018 Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) Factbook* highlights the electric power sector as the driving force behind the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. In total, power sector emissions declined 4.2 percent in 2017, mostly due to the 18.4 GW of new renewable energy we added to the grid (a 14 percent increase over the previous year’s total U.S. renewable capacity). In 2017, renewable generation represented about 18 percent of total U.S. generation (around10 percent from non-hydro renewables alone).

This explosive growth further cements renewable energy’s role in reducing emissions from the U.S. power sector. Let’s dig into the factors that led to this growth, and how we can extend this trend of emissions reductions from renewables beyond 2017. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Equity, Natural Gas, Solar Energy / Leave a comment

Trump's energy policy: Is China the real winner?

By Xixi Chen, manager, EDF+Business 

This week, President Trump's administration announced plans to cut the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency program budgets by 72 percent, according to a leaked draft of the DOE budget for fiscal year 2019. This is the second major blow to the renewable energy industry, coming only days after Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar imports.

I find this ironic. On Tuesday, Trump stood before our country to deliver his first State of the Union address. It was a story on “America First,” and domestic policy took the center stage – tax cuts, trade, the economy, jobs … and more jobs. But as he praised the accomplishments in these areas over the past year, I couldn’t help but see the other side: the opportunities we’re missing and the jobs we’re giving up (now even more so).

I’m talking about jobs in the clean energy and sustainability economy. An industry that is growing faster than any other sector. According to Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) new clean energy jobs report, the solar industry grew 24.5 percent, and has experienced a 68 percent annual growth rate over the last decade. And with this growth comes jobs. Solar jobs now outnumber coal jobs 1.6 to 1 across the country. Today’s increasingly globalized supply chain is partially responsible for this enormous growth.

Trump’s decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on solar imports from Asian markets, including my home country, China, will set this progress back. Here’s what a tariff could do: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy / Comments are closed

DOE’s compensation scheme for coal and nuclear is dead – Now what?

In a January 8 Order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) swiftly dismissed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed out-of-market compensation scheme for coal and nuclear units.  DOE’s proposal would have provided guaranteed profits to coal and nuclear plants, despite the fact that these aging units are losing out to more efficient and affordable resources.  Instead, FERC took a more measured approach, asking all regional market operators to submit additional information on resiliency issues within 60 days, and providing interested parties an opportunity to respond to those submittals within 30 days.  Here’s what we can expect next. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

FERC’s rejection of DOE’s pro-coal and nuclear proposal shows evidence can still trump politics

Last week the Midwest and northeastern United States experienced an historic cold snap that tested our nation’s electric grid. Like last year’s solar eclipse, unprecedented wildfires in California, and extreme flooding after Hurricane Harvey, this year’s “bomb cyclone” has not created a reliability crisis. In fact, it appears based on the evidence thus far that our electricity system – built upon the markets and long-standing operator practices behind our grid – passed this test with flying colors.

That’s why today’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the Department of Energy’s (DOE) flawed coal and nuclear proposal is such an important win for American families, competitive markets, and the environment.

In mid-October, the DOE took the unprecedented step of asking FERC to provide guaranteed revenues and profits to uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. DOE did so with thinly veiled pretext, arguing without evidence that these plants support grid resiliency. FERC was quickly inundated with a chorus of resistance and disapproval from natural gas companies, environmental groups, consumer advocates, state attorney generals, and congressional members from both parties.  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing / Read 4 Responses

A roadmap for a clean, modern grid – The 6 areas that should guide our efforts

Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change. Farmers can use new methods to rotate their crops that keep more carbon safely in the ground. Consumers can act with their wallets – buying goods and services that produce less carbon than competitors. Our elected officials, of course, have a lot of influence in setting the narrative and enabling support for climate progress.

But around the country, in municipal buildings, state offices, and corporate headquarters, separate groups of people are busy designing and implementing changes that could have the biggest impact of all: a better, smarter, more modern grid.

Improving our electricity system could be the single largest climate fighting opportunity we have. But it’s not as simple as just putting solar panels on rooftops. Our grid was built over a century ago by different companies, cities, and co-ops. Pieces of it are owned and run by a dizzying web of stakeholders. Even if we could snap our fingers and spur all of these pieces to action, each player would manifest different versions of a “modern grid.”

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) thus released a guide titled, “Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress” [PDF], which outlines the six key categories that make up a sustainable grid modernization strategy. All of them are connected, either physically or digitally, or by legislation, regulation, or management. Most importantly, they’re connected by efficiency: If each of them is executed well, the whole grid modernization process will yield the best, most reliable, most affordable, and cleanest electricity system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Data Access, Electric Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Solar Energy, Voltage Optimization, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

New Jersey’s new governor campaigned on a robust clean energy plan. Let’s get started.

The election of Phil Murphy as New Jersey’s next governor represents an opportunity for the state to adopt technologies that will make our electric grid more efficient and permit the integration of large amounts of renewable energy, as well as provide customers with the ability to better manage their energy use and save money.

The Governor-elect’s agenda includes a robust clean energy plan, including goals to power 1.5 million homes with offshore wind by 2030; add 600 MW of energy storage by 2021, and 2000 MW by 2030; and to increase energy-efficiency investment.

Governor-elect Murphy is well-positioned to achieve his goals, as New Jersey is abuzz with clean energy activity from both the public and private sectors. Here’s a sampling. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Energy Efficiency, New Jersey / Comments are closed