New York’s plan to expand storage capacity to 6 GW by 2030 includes centralized procurement method

At-a-Glance

On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a plan for how the state will reach 6 GW of energy storage by 2030, representing at least 20% of peak electricity load. For more, read New York’s plan to expand storage capacity to 6 GW by 2030 includes centralized procurement method.

Key Takeaways

  • The proposed plan is projected to reduce projected future statewide electric system costs by nearly $2 billion and the average customer bill would rise by less than 0.05%, or 46 cents a month.
  • The plan calls for 3,000 MW of new bulk storage that would power about one million homes for up to four hours; 1,500 MW of new retail storage to power about 500,000 homes for up to four hours; and 200 MW of residential storage that would power 120,000 homes for up to two hours.
  • The power would be procured through a competitive Index Storage Credit mechanism that officials say will provide some certainty to projects while saving money for consumers.
  • At least 35% of plan funding would support projects to benefit disadvantaged communities and target fossil fuel peaker plant emissions reductions.
  • Electric utilities would also be required to study the potential of high-value energy storage projects toward providing cost-effective transmission and distribution services not currently available in existing markets.

Path to 100% Perspective

New York’s plans to double its energy storage capacity by 2030 is an important step for the state to reach its goal of 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040. In the big picture, a key piece of the 100% emissions-free electricity puzzle will be to deploy significant amounts of long-duration energy storage, especially from 2030 onward. The need to meet daily ramping needs and energy requirements covering a few hours is currently driving the adoption of short duration battery energy storage. After 2030, multi-day and seasonal week-long gaps between supply and demand will require larger quantities of storage capacity. This is where long duration energy storage and sustainable fuels come in. As well as offering green, firm capacity, sustainable fuels can be stored for many months and can release megawatts of power within minutes when needed, when combusted with thermal balancing power plants.

Booming Investment In Renewables Is Set To Continue In 2023 And Beyond

At-a-Glance

Climate tech has come to the fore like never before with its potential to be a safe haven investment in a macroeconomic environment of uncertainty. For more, read Booming Investment In Renewables Is Set To Continue In 2023 And Beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean energy investment significantly accelerated and is expected to surpass $1.4 trillion in 2022, says the World Economic Forum
  • Three-quarters of overall growth in energy investment is attributable to clean energy, which has been growing at an average annual rate of 12% since 2020.
  • Governments across Europe are doing their part to assist in the energy transition in a meaningful way, with the EU accelerating the speed at which permits are given to renewable energy projects.
  • Germany approved plans for each state to allocate a minimum amount of land for onshore wind farms and EU energy ministers backed laws with targets to get 40% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
  • Deloitte’s Renewable Energy Outlook for 2023 report forecasts that the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) extension of tax credits for renewable energy projects will lead to up to 550 gigawatts of additional clean energy by the end of the 2020s.
  • Private investment in renewables in the U.S. reached a record high of $10 billion in 2022, investment levels that Deloitte forecasts are expected to continue into 2023 as investors are attracted by transparent and predictable returns on mature technologies that are backed by the IRA’s 10-year tax credits.

Path to 100% Perspective

Recent investments in clean energy make it abundantly clear that the renewable revolution is here. Increasing and being consistent in these investments is necessary to realize a 100% renewable energy future. As energy leaders take stock post-COVID and restructure their models, now is a key moment to set clear frameworks for achieving net zero. For most, it’s not about starting from scratch, but understanding where and how to invest to drive future resilience.

Two Partnerships Expand Access To Clean Energy & Transport In The Eastern US

At-a-Glance

A couple of energy projects in the Eastern United States are helping to increase access to clean energy and clean transport, while helping to level the playing field in other ways too. For more, read Two Partnerships Expand Access To Clean Energy & Transport In The Eastern US.

Key Takeaways

  • New York-based Autel Energy is partnering with Legacy Clean Energy (LCE), a minority-owned business in Charlotte, North Carolina, to offer electric vehicle charging solutions for corporations and marginalized communities across the country.
  • In Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Lightsource bp have joined forces with a 25-megawatt solar project now in operation. With the addition of this second solar farm to SEPTA’s statewide portfolio, both companies boast 42 megawatts – rough electricity to fulfill 20% of SEPTA’s total demand.
  • By partnering with Lightsource bp, SEPTA’s Elk Hill Solar 1 project has enabled Pennsylvania to reduce its carbon footprint by 28,000 metric tons of CO2 each year.
  • The solar farm not only contributes to achieving Pennsylvania’s clean energy goals but also increases energy security and diversifies their portfolio. 

Path to 100% Perspective

Engaging private industry in the path to 100% is critical to develop the solutions and innovations needed for decarbonization. These examples show what’s possible when private companies and utilities partner to expand both capacity and access to clean energy. Partnerships like these are needed to accelerate the transition to net zero, meet decarbonization goals, and limit the impacts of climate change.

Generating Change: Wartsila’s Evolution

At-a-Glance

Finnish company Wartsila evolved from humble beginnings as a sawmill into a global marine and energy powerhouse that is today a model of customer value creation, decarbonization, and growth amid uncertainty. Driving that triumph over its 188-year history is a consistent spirit of innovation and flexibility. For more, read Generating Change: Wartsila’s Evolution.

Key Takeaways

  • Since 2010, Wartsila has been focusing on becoming a world leader in balancing and power optimization to help customers achieve decarbonization and transition toward a 100% renewable energy future.
  • In May 2020, Wartsila began work developing a combustion process in its engines to achieve 100% hydrogen fuel combustion. The company expects to launch a power plant design for hydrogen blends in 2022, followed by a concept for pure hydrogen in 2025.
  • In March 2022, Wartsila began operating two Wartsila 34SG engines, a combined output of 11.6 MW, that can run on 3% hydrogen and natural gas blend at Keppel Offshore Marine’s “Floating Living Lab” in Singapore.
  • In addition to hydrogen, other potential renewable fuels are being studied for future applications. In 2022, Wartsila released its Wartsila 32 Methanol engine to the market and it expects to have engine concepts ready for operating with pure ammonia fuel in 2023.

Path to 100% Perspective

Modern and flexible engine power plants are an ideal solution for balancing power, due to their flexibility in fuels and operation profiles. This is needed as batteries alone cannot fulfill the balancing need for fluctuating renewable power sources. Flexible capacity must be ready to start quickly at any time and capable of ramping up and down an unlimited number of times a day. Current Wartsila engine power plants can connect to the grid in 30 seconds and reach full load in just two minutes. In addition, current Wartsila gas engineer power plants can use up to 25 vol% hydrogen blends in natural gas and there is ongoing development for pure hydrogen and other P2X fuels, such as ammonia, methane, and methanol. As part of the strong green hydrogen boom, Wartsila is planning several hydrogen projects with partners and customers ranging from utilizing hydrogen blends in existing assets to a P2X2P plant in collaboration with partners.

DOE awards $100 million for innovative floating wind, pumped storage and other emerging clean energy tech

At-a-Glance

Eight companies working on technological advancements in clean energy have been awarded millions in federal funding to help scale up production on innovations that would streamline sectors such as offshore wind and pumped storage. For more, read DOE awards $100 million for innovative floating wind, pumped storage and other emerging clean energy tech.

Key Takeaways

  • Recipients of funding from the Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) are described as “disruptive new technologies” that will be transformational for the industry. The funds will “catalyze” commercialization of the technologies so they can be “broadly deployed.”
  • DOE cited Kent Houston Offshore Engineering’s two floating offshore wind turbine technologies as “disruptive,” noting that the company’s focus on designing more efficient turbines and lowering fabrication costs will lead to floating wind farms producing cheaper electricity while reaching profitability.
  • Quidnet Energy will use DOE funding to scale up its geomechanical pumped storage technology into a system that can be used commercially. Its technology uses subsurface rock layers to avoid some of the limits and expense of traditional pumped storage.
  • The first utility to make use of Quidnet Energy’s technology will be CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility and the largest one in the U.S.

Path to 100% Perspective

Investments in clean energy technology, like DOE’s SCALEUP funding, are important for bringing innovative decarbonization technologies to scale. A variety of technologies will have a role to play along the Path to 100%, including wind and pumped storage. The missing piece of the puzzle is viable long-term storage technologies which will be needed to provide megawatts of capacity and megawatt hours of energy during long duration seasonal conditions or unexpected renewable droughts. Power-to-X technology is a promising solution, using renewable energy sources like wind and solar to produce green hydrogen and other sustainable fuels that can be used for affordable long-term storage. We look forward to seeing how these eight companies will “disrupt” clean energy tech with their innovations.

Pattern Energy buys 3-GW SunZia transmission project to deliver wind energy from New Mexico to Arizona

At-a-Glance

In July 2022, Pattern Energy Group bought the proposed SunZia transmission project, a 525-kV line set to deliver 3,000 MW to Arizona from wind farms Pattern is developing in New Mexico. For more, read Pattern Energy buys 3-GW SunZia transmission project to deliver wind energy from New Mexico to Arizona.

Key Takeaways

  • Pattern Energy expects to begin full construction of the SunZia transmission project and the SunZia wind projects in 2023, with operations for the bi-directional power line set to start in 2025, and the wind farms coming online in early 2026.
  • Pattern Energy’s announcement that it is buying the first phase of the SunZia project from Southwestern Power Group is part of a surge in transmission activity in the West.
  • The Bureau of Land Management has authorized construction on a 500-kV power line between Arizona and California and Southwestern Power Group is continuing to develop a second SunZia phase, a 500-kV high voltage-alternating current transmission line called El Rio Sol Transmission that would parallel the SunZia line.
  • Pattern Energy has also been marketing its wind generation to utilities in California. In December 2021, the Los Angeles Department of Wind and Power started buying power from Pattern Energy’s 350-MW Red Cloud wind farm in New Mexico for $41/MWh under a 20-year, fixed-price contract.
  • Pattern Energy said it is developing other interstate transmission projects, including the 525-kV Southern Spirit Transmission project, a bi-directional transmission line that would connect the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas to the Southeast market.

Path to 100% Perspective

The SunZia transmission project is just one example of the kinds of infrastructure that will be needed to support the addition of renewable electricity sources on the Path to 100%. These projects also make renewables more accessible for regions that don’t have the capacity to harness wind or solar, ensuring a reliable, resilient supply of power. Resilience and reliability are two key factors that contribute to the success of renewables and our drive toward a net-zero future. But so is flexibility. Adding energy storage and thermal balancing is critical to ensure backup power is available when there is insufficient wind and solar.

Climate Progress Is Happening, Just Not Fast Enough

At-a-Glance

The COP27 conference was a win for the planet, but more work – and investment – is crucial. For more, read Climate Progress Is Happening, Just Not Fast Enough.

Key Takeaways

  • An important victory achieved at COP27 was the growing acceptance among nations that the battle against climate change requires more robust mobilization of private capital and a growing willingness to act.
  • At COP27, a group of countries led by the U.S. and Japan announced a $20 billion financing package to support Indonesia’s plan to shift from coal to renewables.
  • This agreement creates a model for assisting other nations that are heavily dependent on coal to transition to clean energy.
  • Also at COP27, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies announced various efforts to increase private-sector investment in clean energy, particularly in the developing world. This includes a data portal that will give companies the information they need to meet their net-zero pledges.

Path to 100% Perspective

If there’s one lesson to be drawn from COP27, it is this: no one person or company can change the world overnight. Big, meaningful change is something we all need to be invested in and committed to doing together. While governments can make ambitious commitments to decarbonize and transition to a 100% clean energy future, we need the private sector on board and engaged to meet net-zero goals. Private sector allies have the technologies and know-how that will enable us to accelerate the addition of renewable energy sources and phase out fossil fuels for good. Decarbonization is not just possible – it is technically and commercially feasible with technologies that are already available at scale.

Deep Geothermal – One Renewable Energy Source to Rule Them All?

At-a-Glance

Deep geothermal technologies, such as the gyrotron, may be the key to harnessing the heat stored below the Earth’s crust to make abundant zero emissions energy. For more, read Deep Geothermal – One Renewable Energy Source to Rule Them All?

Key Takeaways

  • Gyrotrons, which produce high power beams, are currently used in fusion research. Paul Woskov, an MIT researcher, has posed the idea of using the technology to drill geothermal wells that can reach the Earth’s mantle.
  • MIT spinoff Quaise Energy received a grant from the Department of Energy to scale up Woskov’s lab experiments using a larger gyrotron. The goal is to vaporize a hole 100 times the depth of Woskov’s current experiments by sometime next year.
  • Quaise Energy plans to start harvesting energy from pilot geothermal wells that reach rock temperatures at up to 500°C by 2026. The team then hopes to begin repurposing coal and natural gas generating plants using its system.
  • Many of the skills developed over the past century by the oil and gas industry are readily transferable to deep geothermal, meaning that a ready-made, well-trained workforce is already available. Current fossil fuel infrastructure can be readily repurposed to rapidly advance geothermal energy.

Path to 100% Perspective

A variety of technologies will have a role to play along the Path to 100%. Deep geothermal is an emerging technology that can help ease the transition. What makes this technology exciting is that it’s compatible with existing thermal power plants, which can be converted to run on steam instead of coal and natural gas. Building conditions to enable investment in thermal balancing power plants is a key step to frontloading net zero and adding geothermal energy is one way to make this possible. There are many other renewable sources in use today that are the subject of scale-up research and expanded deployment, including ocean energy, bioenergy, and renewable synthetic fuels from Power-to-X (P2X). Ocean, biomass, and geothermal are not forecast to get to the scale that solar and wind could reach, but all are important. All of these technologies are part of the analysis and discussion around the transition to a 100% renewable energy future.

US Renewable Power Set to Get More Than 20% Boost From New Climate Law

At-a-Glance: 

Accelerated by the Inflation Reduction Act, solar capacity will more than triple from 2021 to 2030 and battery storage will jump exponentially, predicts BNEF. For more, read US Renewable Power Set to Get More Than 20% Boost From New Climate Law.

Key Takeaways:

  • Enough solar power plants will be built from this year through 2030 to generate 364 gigawatts of electricity, BNEF estimates. That’s more than three times the capacity of all US solar plants in operation last year.
  • A gigawatt is roughly the output of a commercial nuclear reactor and, depending on the region, can power 750,000 homes. 
  • BNEF predicts147 gigawatts of new wind installations, many of them in coastal waters along New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and toward the end of the decade, California. 
  • The IRA also includes a new tax credit for large energy storage systems — typically, big packs of lithium-ion batteries — plugged into the power grid. BNEF forecasts 107 gigawatts of storage installations through 2030, up from just 5.7 gigawatts in use this year.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The passage of the IRA means there has never been a better time to make a long-term investment in U.S. decarbonization goals, but just investing in renewables is not enough. Solar and wind are variable, and will need a reliable backup to maintain the grid. As renewables become the new baseload, the need for flexible power generation and reliable storage solutions will be more important than ever.

In its Front-Loading Net Zero report released in 2020, Wärtsilä Energy outlined the benefits of investing now in predictable, low maintenance, renewable energy and storage technology.

“Flexibility creates the conditions where renewable energy is the most profitable way to power our grids: ensuring back-up power is available when there’s insufficient wind or solar,” according to the report. “Investing in renewable baseload is now viewed as buying ‘unlimited’ power up-front, as opposed to betting against fluctuating oil prices and narrowing environmental regulation.”

 

US wind, solar tripled over the past decade: analysis

At-a-Glance: 

The United States generated three times as much renewable electricity from the sun and wind last year in comparison to 2012, a new analysis has found. Seven states alone now produce enough electricity from these sources, as well as geothermal energy, to cover half of their consumption, according to an online energy dashboard. Read more in US wind, solar tripled over the past decade: analysis.

Key Takeaways:

  • Just five years earlier, none of the states mentioned— South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico — had achieved this level of renewable energy progress.
  • Among the dashboard’s key findings was evidence that the U.S. produced enough wind energy to power 35 million typical homes in 2021 — or 2.7 times as much wind energy as in 2012. 
  • The U.S. also generated enough solar energy that year to power 15 million homes — or 15 times as much solar energy as in 2012, according to the dashboard. 
  • The dashboard found that the country now has nearly 4.7 gigawatts of battery storage, or 32 times as much as in 2012. This helps support the use of more renewable energy and keep the lights on during extreme weather events. 
  • California, Texas and Florida exhibited the most growth in solar power and battery storage from 2012 to 2021, while Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa ranked highest for wind power growth.

Path to 100% Perspective

The rise in renewables is a key step in the Path to 100%, and the numbers should continue to grow as the Inflation Reduction Act makes now a perfect time to invest in clean energy technology.

As mentioned in the article, the key to integrating renewable energy into the system is backup power– both thermal and storage. That’s because solar and wind are variable– you can’t always count on them to produce power at peak demand times.

Throwing Shade Is Solar Energy’s New Superpower

At-a-Glance: 

In America, solar power could be a new cash crop for farmers as the new innovation known as agrivoltaics grows. It is the process of farmers leasing land to solar farms and incorporating the panels as they plant crops or raise livestock. Read more in: Throwing Shade Is Solar Energy’s New Superpower.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Inflation Reduction Act includes billions of dollars in renewable energy funds that will accelerate the adoption of solar and other renewables. This will hasten the creation of large utility-scale arrays on existing cropland, perfect for its light winds, moderate temperatures and low humidity.
  • Farmers can lease their land for hundreds of dollars an acre, a much easier income than labor-intensive traditional farming. They can plant crops that thrive in shade or cool their cows under solar panels to double their income stream.
  • Critics worry that solar farms are unattractive and could change the character of rural communities, and that the panels could block access to the soil.
  • Despite positive advantages, agrivoltaics, at least on a large scale, remains a subject of research more than a method of doing business. It costs more to place solar panels high enough off the ground to allow for planting and livestock to fit underneath.

Path to 100% Perspective

In order to decarbonize, we must increase the usage of renewable energy sources like solar. Agrivoltaics could provide one solution to add more utility-size solar panels in more parts of the United States. More research is needed to determine how best to achieve this goal, but the premise is promising and if achieved, could hasten the Path to 100%.

 

Photo by Micha Sager on Unsplash

A “Supercharge” Of Renewable Energy Development Is Taking Place Around Us

At-a-Glance: 

Incentives in The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will lower the cost of renewable energy in the U.S. dramatically over the next decade, according to analysis from the ICF Climate Center, a global consulting firm. They’ve deduced that the new US climate law will make clean energy projects easier to finance across the country, quickening the pace of the US energy transition.  For more read: A “Supercharge” Of Renewable Energy Development Is Taking Place Around Us.

Key Takeaways:

  • All of the technologies the authors of this report analyzed —  whether mature wind and solar or emerging battery, hydrogen, and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) — would see double digit percentage declines. 
  • The IRA’s broad definition of energy storage for the ITC should help emerging alternatives to lithium ion batteries come to market, increasing the diversity of energy storage options, 
  • Hydrogen could see the biggest cost decline — a huge reduction anywhere from 52% to 67% — of any technology. Green hydrogen facilities that take advantage of the climate law’s tax credits could become cost-competitive with new natural-gas-powered facilities by 2030.
  • The authors assume within their projections that policymakers will address some sticky obstacles confronting clean energy projects, including “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) reactions and interconnection problems.

Path to 100% Perspective

A 100% renewable energy future in the United States is possible by 2050 if everyone works together, and the IRA definitely sets the stage for an influx of development. While increasing renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, the U.S. must also determine a plan to realistically phase out fossil fuel plants. Renewable sources can be intermittent, so battery technology will need to improve. Investing in technology like Wartsila’s flexible power plants, which can run on sustainable fuels like hydrogen, will also provide the dispatchability needed to ensure reliable power.