FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Puget Sound Energy is officially moving closer to setting a retirement date for two controversial coal-fired power plants it co-owns in Montana. This is a welcome, overdue move.The utility, which serves swaths of Western Washington including Thurston County, went before the Utilities and Transportation Commission on Thursday and made an unusual request to delay a power rate adjustment hearing until January.The stated reason was PSE wants time to develop a plan for the future retirement of Colstrip 1 and 2 power plants. Importantly, PSE said it intends to provide “a narrow window of dates for the planned retirement of Units 1 and 2.”That appears to be the strongest statement to date of the Bellevue-based utility’s plans to cut back its use of coal, although PSE would continue to operate two other Montana coal-fired plants in which it has investments.Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have been on PSE’s case for years, arguing that the power plants are heavy polluters, no longer cost effective and an unnecessary contributor of greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.Also, lower-cost natural gas is making coal fired power less competitive, creating what Doug Howell of the Sierra Club has described as an inevitable shutdown scenario.“PSE’s customers are moving there. The economics are there,” Howell said recently. “It’s moving from being inevitable to … being more imminent.’’Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Northwest Energy Coalition were among the co-petitioners who either support or do not object to PSE’s request for delays in its rate case. The utility had been expected to file its paperwork for a rate adjustment by April 1.Puget Sound Energy spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment. The company has diversified its source of electrical energy in recent years, investing more than $2 billion in wind power, but it owns a share in four Montana coal plants.Energy engineering consultant David Schlissel, who testified at the UTC this month and talked about his latest Colstrip study, says power from the coal plants is already more expensive than what PSE could obtain from the market.A step away from coal will carry costs for decommissioning the plants and cleaning up the filthy coal legacy. PSE faces environmental issues with coal ash ponds in Montana that are already the subject of lawsuits.In a move that supports PSE’s actions, the Legislature recently approved Senate Bill 6248 to let utilities put plant-retirement money into special accounts monitored by the UTC that can help pay for the eventual shutdowns.Puget Sound Energy deserves credit for this latest step to move away from highly polluting sources of energy. It echoes what TransAlta is doing with its planned phase-out of coal-fired power plants near Centralia.We look forward to seeing PSE’s plan.PSE gingerly steps toward future with less coal Editorial: Puget Sound Energy’s ‘Step Away From Coal’
Month: December 2020
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Inside Climate News:Along a country road east of Lima, Ohio, a company is preparing to build one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects that pairs wind and solar to create a hybrid power source. It’s a rare combination now, but one that’s expected to become more common because of its potential to cut costs while providing a more consistent flow of clean energy.Invenergy is starting with a 175 megawatt wind farm. Within the wind farm, it plans to build a 150 megawatt solar farm. Together, they would produce enough electricity for about 175,000 homes.The wind and solar energy complement each other. They hit their peaks at different times of day and night, allowing them to provide a steadier output together than if each was alone. And they save money because they can share equipment, power lines and workers. The consistency is increasingly important as renewable energy replaces coal-fired plants, which can provide 24-7 power but that also create pollution and contribute to climate change.Most renewable energy development so far has targeted either the sunniest or the windiest areas, without considering locations that could be good for both solar and wind. That’s changing as wind and solar costs decrease and the technology advances. Today, there are many parts of the U.S. where both wind and solar can be profitable, said Vahan Gevorgian, a chief engineer at the government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. “It will create economic opportunities for wind in parts of the U.S. where wind [farms are] not present,” he said.In the Midwest, where wind farms are more common than solar, it’s the other way around, with opportunities to put solar panels alongside wind turbines. One example is the Grand Ridge Energy Center in northern Illinois, also operated by Invenergy, which has 210 megawatts of wind, 20 megawatts of solar and 33 megawatts of energy storage.The benefits of wind-solar hybrids start with a simple idea: Solar power is strongest when the sun is brightest, often in the middle of the day. Wind power is stronger at night in many areas of the U.S. By combining the two, a hybrid project has the potential to produce power around the clock. This is important because one of the challenges of managing a power grid is dealing with the intermittent nature of renewable energy.More: Pairing wind + solar for cheaper, 24-hour renewable energy Invenergy plans second wind-solar hybrid in Midwest
Japanese utilities are turning away from new coal-fired power projects in the country amid tighter environmental regulations and increasing demand for greener energy from their key customers. More: Japanese utilities turn away from coal plans amid green energy boom These moves come as renewable energy is on the rise in Japan and elsewhere, and as the government brings in stricter regulations on new coal-fired power plants. They also come as some investors around the world have been pressuring companies to divest coal-related assets and pushing banks to stop financing such projects. Osaka Gas last week pulled out of plans to build a 1.2 gigawatt coal-fired project, which followed the cancellation in January of a 2 GW coal power station by Kyushu Electric Power, Tokyo Gas and Idemitsu Kosan. In December, Chugoku Electric Power and JFE Steel scrapped plans to build a 1.07 GW station. “Utilities are increasingly feeling that it may not make economic sense to build a new large coal power station when electricity demand is falling and operation costs may rise due to carbon taxes or other costs related to tighter regulations,” said Shin Furuno, head of the 350.org Japan environmental group. Of Japan’s plans in 2012 to build 50 new coal-fired power units with total capacity of 23.23 GW, 13 units, or 7.03 GW, have been scrapped since 2017, according to data from environment group Kiko Network. Japanese turn away from coal gathers steam FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:
Ireland moves forward with 70% by 2030 green energy goal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Ireland has published the details of its long-awaited Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) this week, finally unveiling details around how the country will look to increase its share of renewable energy capacity to 70% by 2030.Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, made the announcement on Monday, revealing details of the first RESS auction which has received Government approval.The RESS follows on from Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, published in June, and sets out a pathway across every sector which will move the country to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.“Ireland is currently 86% reliant on fossil fuel. We must radically reduce this dependence and make the transition to cleaner, more renewable energy,” said Minister Bruton. “We are exiting from peat and coal to generate electricity and moving to clean, renewable sources of power, like wind and solar. The Renewable Energy Support Scheme is a flagship Government policy designed to deliver on our commitments to decarbonise our electricity grid, harness our natural resources and bring renewable energy into the heart of our communities.”The plan currently will see four (possibly five) auctions held between 2020 and 2027 to deliver on the targets which will open bidding to a variety of technologies. The first round will seek to procure 1,000 GWh of renewable energy power and will be launched by year’s end or early 2020. This will be followed by the second auction round with 3,000 GWh on offer in 2020, with further auctions scheduled for 2021, 2023, and 2025 to allocate 3,000 GWh, 4,000 GWh, and 2,500 GWh of capacity, respectively.Current expectations see onshore wind walking away with the majority of Round 1 capacity on offer – with solar accounting for a set 10% through a separate carve-out. [Joshua S. Hill]More: Ireland unveils plan for 70 per cent renewable energy by 2030
Siemens and Uniper to cooperate on green hydrogen development FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Siemens and the Uniper fossil fuels business spun out of German energy giant E.on have been working together for years and have announced a cooperation agreement aimed at decarbonizing power generation and driving sector coupling.Part of the newly announced initiative will focus on the production and use of green hydrogen. The partners will assess what proportion of Uniper’s natural gas assets could host hydrogen produced using renewable electricity. Uniper plans to shutter or repurpose its coal-fired power fleet within five years as part of a bid for climate-neutral power generation by 2035 and is examining the role green hydrogen can play, not least by supplanting natural gas. Siemens Gas and Power will provide technical support.A planned series of “brownfield transformation” projects will decarbonize coal-fired power plants and reduce the carbon footprint of Uniper’s gas-facilities. The integration of energy storage into the green hydrogen loop is envisioned.Uniper already generates green hydrogen at German power-to-gas plants built in Falkenhagen in 2013 and in Hamburg at a facility constructed two years later. The company, which was spun out of E.on in 2016, also participates in the “cross-sector real laboratories” program funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics in order to bring down the cost of green hydrogen.“After the coal phase-out and the switch to a secure, gas-based energy supply, the use of climate-friendly gas is a big step towards the success of the energy transition,” said Uniper chief executive Andreas Schierenbeck.[Sandra Enkhardt]More: Green hydrogen and the switch to a secure, ‘climate-friendly’ gas-based energy supply
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Britain will on Wednesday reach two months in a row without using electricity from coal fired power stations for the first time since its 19th century industrial revolution, according to the country’s National Grid.Britain was home to the world’s first coal-fueled power plant in the 1880s, and coal was its dominant electric source and a major economic driver for the next century.Britain plans to close coal plants by 2024 as part of efforts to reach its net zero emissions goal by 2050.“The exact two month mark is midnight tonight (00:00 on Wednesday 10 June), which will mark 61 days (or 1,464 hours) since the last coal generator came off the system,” a spokesman for National Grid’s ESO (Electricity System Operator) said via email on Tuesday.Low power prices amid weak industrial demand due to measures to contain the novel coronavirus, and levies on carbon emissions, have made it increasingly unprofitable to run coal plants. Use of renewable power, such as wind and solar, has soared over the lockdown period, helped by lower running costs than fossil fuel producers and favourable weather conditions.May saw the greenest ever month for electricity production in Britain, with the lowest average carbon intensity on record at 143 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, National Grid said. Carbon intensity is a measure of how much carbon dioxide is emitted for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced.[Susanna Twidale]More: Britain poised to hit two months without power from coal plants Britain closing in on second straight month without any coal-fired generation in its electricity mix
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Green Car Congress:The average cost of a Li-ion battery cell—used to power electric vehicles and to provide flexibility in the power grid as more renewables, such as solar and wind, are added will fall below $100 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in the next three years, according to a new analysis by IHS Markit.The average cost of a li-ion cell is expected to decline further through the end of the decade, to as low as $73/kWh in 2030.The average cost of a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery has already fallen 82% from 2012-2020. Further reductions are a key factor to increasing the competitiveness and wider adoption of the batteries for electric transportation and in grid storage.By 2023, the cost of a battery will have declined 86% (by $580/kWh) in a decade, according to the IHS Markit analysis.IHS Markit expects that the biggest contributor to falling battery cell costs throughout the coming decade will be reductions in manufacturing costs through larger factory sizes and improving economies of scale. Reductions in material costs by improving efficiencies and adopting lower cost cathode compositions, and improvements in battery energy density are also expected to play a role.Among the three major Li-ion battery cells—Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) and Iron Phosphate (LFP)—LFP has already fallen below the $100/kWh threshold in 2020. All three types are expected to be below the $100 mark by 2024. LFP will remain the lowest cost option throughout the next ten years. However, NMC and NCA will continue to command a majority share of the automotive and transport sector on account of their higher energy density.More: IHS Markit: average cost of lithium-ion battery cell to fall below $100/kWh in 2023 Battery storage costs expected to hit key cost reduction target by 2023—IHS Markit
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Air Liquide SA, the largest supplier of industrial gases, aims to spend billions of euros over the next ten years on hydrogen production to meet a surge in demand driven by a global shift to cleaner energy, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday.The gas could account for 20% of worldwide energy consumption by 2050, with a market value of about $2.5 trillion, Benoit Potier told a French senate hearing on Wednesday. This means global investment of $5 trillion to $7.5 trillion, enabling carbon dioxide emissions to be cut by 6 billion tons.Europe sees the fuel as key to its future energy mix, and France in September unveiled a 7 billion-euro ($8.5 billion) plan to support hydrogen use. Producing clean hydrogen from water using renewable energy is costlier than using fossil fuels, however, meaning subsidies are needed to lower costs.Potier said France’s efforts were “a good start” and enough for the next two to three years but called for further help to scale up hydrogen technology, as well as a carbon price that would increase over time, in order to make investment calculations and justify hydrogen spending to shareholders.Major development of hydrogen will take place between 2030 and 2050, he said, adding that Europe needs to invest in renewable energy to develop the industry and catch up.“There cannot be a clean hydrogen world without massive upstream investment,” Potier said. “Right now in Europe, we don’t have enough renewable electricity to be able to develop hydrogen.”[Rudy Ruitenberg]More: Air Liquide to invest billions in bet on hydrogen boom Industrial gas giant Air Liquide plans major investments in hydrogen production
Click here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogLast night was the fourth of July. My husband Brew met me at a dirt road in Vermont and then whisked me away to Woodstock, VT to enjoy a cook-out and fireworks show. On a side note, when I say he met me on a dirt road… the road was actually a rock-strewn river and Brew was forced to park over a mile away and run in to meet me. But, finding me – as always- we waded back to the car and headed off to celebrate our country’s independence.I had hiked over eleven hours and put in 32 miles, but I still had a sense of guilt and remorse at leaving the trail. I mean I am trying to finish the trail as quickly as possible and now I was headed off to enjoy a community gathering in a town I had never been to before? I felt fine, there were two hours of sunlight left… I should have still been hiking! But the fact of the matter is, Brew and I had already decided to take it easy our first two days in Vermont to let my body recover from the demands of New Hampshire and Maine.Overall, physically I am pleased with how well my body has handled the trail. Yes, I get tired hiking all day, but I have gotten over my initial injuries and soreness and can tell that I am getting stronger. My ankle was swollen from day 2 to 11, but is now quite shapely and small once again. The thing that is really getting to me is that I am sleepy – very sleepy. I was waking up at 4:30 almost every morning in the first two states…. you gotta love all that summer daylight, but all those early mornings have caught up with me and I now crave naps every morning at about 11 AM. Folks like David Horton and other amazing trailblazers have told me that they require very little sleep during their athletic endeavors. I need 8 hours not only for the trail, but also for my marriage – I get very cranky and whiny when I don’t sleep (Brew will attest to this!).A part of me can justify the fact that we are getting some R&R as we enter Vermont. But the type-A in me hates knowing that there is gas left in the tank. So heading into Woodstock, VT, I cringed at the thought of off-trail fun. Was this really allowed? Does record setting condone hot-dogs and apple pie?It wasn’t until my dinner digested midway through the fireworks show that I finally decided the moment was good – the moment was very good. As much as this record attempt is about making miles and appreciating the ruggedness of the outdoors, it is also about enjoyment and self-preservation. So there is something to be said for pausing and taking note of the culture and region surrounding the trail. Above that, I really, honestly, truly, don’t think my body could go all-day, everyday, even if my subconscious tells me it should. Burning out in New England is not conducive to completing the next 1600+ miles. So yes, I am going to take two short days, and yes I am going to enjoy my 4th of July hot dog, and in the end… I think I’m probably going to hike better and stronger because of these guilty pleasures.
Like all good Americans, I’ve been spending most of my waking hours watching the Winter Olympics. The competitions are great, but what I really love are the backstories of the athletes, many of whom have had to overcome astonishing circumstances to compete in Sochi. One of the dudes who medaled in Slopestyle Skiing is from Indiana. Think about that. A skier from Indiana. Talk about perseverance.Consider me inspired. So when a freak storm dumped a foot of snow across the mountains of Western North Carolina, my ski buddies and I were determined to hit up our local resort. Even though every newscaster on TV was urging everyone to stay home – for god’s sake – just stay home.All due respect to Southern newscaster weather paranoia, when the snow falls, you don’t stay home, you go skiing. So we drove the streets that everyone warned would result in sudden death, laughing at all the poor souls that were huddled up with blankets and fear in their homes. Before we even got out of the neighborhood, we came upon a three car pile up at the bottom of a slick hill…and immediately turned into a four-car pile up when we slid sideways in comically slow motion into a Honda Element that was stuck in the middle of the road. We bumped that Honda out of the way, bouncing off just enough to slide further down the hill into a ’94 Chevy Blazer, which we pushed into the third car at the bottom of the hill.If this were a slopestyle competition, I’d call the move a “switch 180 with a tail bumper grab.” Flawless execution.Luckily, nobody was hurt in the accident, because, like I said, we were moving at about the speed of a curling stone. Coincidentally, a college girl broke her leg while sledding the hill next to our four-car pile up. So maybe those Southern newscasters aren’t so paranoid after all. Maybe those of us raised below the Mason Dixon line really should just stay at home if there’s a threat of snow.Or maybe not. Most (read: smarter) people would’ve seen the four-car pile up as a sign and turned back home, but we’re not like most (smart) people. We persevered. That skier from Indiana probably should’ve just become a farmer, or whatever people do in Indiana, but he persevered. He kept pushing, building a terrain park in his backyard out of turf and PVC pipe. We kept pushing onward after the accident, driving a blistering 35 mph to our home hill and shredded the best powder the mountain has seen in years. We poached slopes that haven’t been skiable all season, skiing in complete darkness away from the lit runs on the other side of the mountain. We got wicked crazy on the last Chinese Downhill, and drank Oskar Blues Old Chub in the parking lot after the lifts stopped running. There was only one concussion in the group the whole night. I call that a success.Again, we probably should’ve called it a night when we got back home after midnight, what with the angry looks on our wives’ faces, but we didn’t. We persevered. We strapped on our cross country skis and kicked into downtown, skiing right down the middle of the road on several inches of fresh powder until 2am. We only stopped once, to get a beer at the only bar that had the balls to stay open during the storm, and toasted our Olympic-style perseverance, as well as our favorite athletes over in Sochi.