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Study: Transmission improvements would add momentum to U.S. electricity transition

By on December 31, 2020

first_imgStudy: Transmission improvements would add momentum to U.S. electricity transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy News Network:Electricity doesn’t move easily across the country. And that’s been a particular hurdle for renewable energy, as many of the best and cheapest resources lack transmission connections to population centers.A new National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis finds that improving those connections could provide broad benefits that far outweigh the cost — including lower-cost, more reliable and cleaner electricity.The U.S. electric grid is actually comprised of three mostly separate systems: the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The east-west seam runs along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, from northwest Montana to southern New Mexico.Each interconnection operates independently of each other with very little electricity ever passing between them, and that limits the reach of regional renewable electricity sources such as solar from the Southwest and wind power from the Great Plains. Both tend to stay siloed in their region instead of reaching potential customers in other parts of the country.NREL’s new “Interconnections Seam Study” shows that if utilities, developers and policymakers figured out a way to break down those seams, the investments would more than pay for themselves through efficiencies.“If you have more transmission, you can use fewer generation resources, and you can use those more efficiently,” said Aaron Bloom, a manager in grid systems analysis for NREL who presented his team’s ambitious vision at a conference last week in Ames, Iowa.The report proposes four scenarios for moving huge amounts of cheap renewable power across the country.  All four rely on building more transmission lines — always a tall hurdle — along with bolstering the existing connections where the Eastern and Western grids connect.Currently, the interconnections come into contact in seven spots including one in Rapid City, South Dakota, and two more in western Nebraska. The HVDC ties combined have a capacity of only 1,300 megawatts. That’s a tiny fraction of the interconnections’ roughly 1,000 gigawatt combined generating capacity.Enhancing the connections “has always looked like a good idea, and it looks like an even better idea today because our loads have grown and diversified over the past 90 years,” Bloom said. Meanwhile, the equipment is aging, with much of it around 30 years old. “What makes it all come together is that we have to replace these facilities anyway.”Upgrading all seven connections and building out a network of large transmission lines to optimize them could easily cost more than $1 trillion, but Bloom’s calculations say  the undertaking would pay for itself in 15 years and then keep on paying dividends.The reason: all of that transmission capacity would allow for the development of the highest-quality and lowest-cost renewable resources, with fewer geographic limitations.More: Transmission study points to potential from overcoming grid seamslast_img read more

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Federal judge orders updated environmental review for Keystone XL

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first_imgFederal judge orders updated environmental review for Keystone XL FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Omaha World-Record:A federal court in Montana has ruled that TransCanada must conduct an additional environmental review before it moves forward with the alternative route that has been approved for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.The decision is being hailed by those opposing the pipeline as a victory. However, it’s not clear whether the decision will slow the project. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris declined to nullify President Donald Trump’s decision that allowed the pipeline to go forward. And he told TransCanada, the pipeline developer, to prepare a timeline for the environmental review that would allow TransCanada to move forward with planned construction in the second quarter of next year.In November 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission denied TransCanada’s application for its preferred route and instead approved an alternative route that skirted a bit more of the Nebraska Sand Hills. The alternative route goes through five different counties and crosses several different water bodies than the original, preferred route. In late July, the U.S. State Department concluded that the pipeline’s amended route would have mostly negligible to minor effects on farmland, water resources and the environment.Bold Alliance, an opponent that was among the plaintiffs in the case, welcomed the decision. “The court saw through the sham fast-track environmental review that TransCanada and the State Department were trying to shove past Nebraska landowners and Tribal Nations,” Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance said in a statement.TransCanada is seeking to complete its 36-inch pipeline from the tar sands fields of Alberta to oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Yet to be decided by the judge is whether the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act.More: Federal judge orders environmental review of Keystone XL pipelinelast_img read more

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Coal continuing to lose ground to renewables in India

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first_imgCoal continuing to lose ground to renewables in India FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):Indian power companies spent much of the past decade rushing to build coal-fired power plants in anticipation of surging electricity demand as economic growth took off.Now, many of those projects are mired in deep financial distress and private investment in coal power has ground to a near halt. The sector has been hit by a host of problems: many plants have struggled to secure fuel supplies, and to clinch deals to sell their power to cash-strapped state distribution companies.But the biggest driver of long-term uncertainty for the industry is one that few anticipated 10 years ago: an explosive take-off in the renewable power sector, as India joins the global push to tackle climate change by shifting towards green energy.Soon after taking power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government set a target of increasing India’s renewable energy capacity by 2022 to 175 gigawatts, equivalent to 40 per cent of the country’s total power capacity at the time of the announcement. This shift in the industry’s economics means that coal power — once one of the hottest prospects for Indian industrialists — is now a space where most fear to tread. “You’d have to be quite courageous to invest in coal at this point,” said Navroz Dubash of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research. “The speed with which the story has reversed is quite astonishing.” Increasingly, large private-sector coal power producers are looking at renewable projects when they build new capacity. Adani Power, for example, has invested more than $600m in a solar plant in Tamil Nadu — a southern state with abundant sunshine. There is no longer an economic case for the highest-cost coal plants in inland areas of the country’s south and west, which are forced to rely on coal expensively transported over long distances from the northeastern coalfields, said Tim Buckley at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.More ($): India’s renewable rush puts coal on the back burnerlast_img read more

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Solar-plus-storage contracts in Hawaii hit record low prices

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:This week Hawaiian Electric Company sent seven new solar-plus-storage contracts to state regulators. Six come in at record-low prices for the state, under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.The projects, which now await regulatory approval, would add 262 megawatts of solar and 1,048 megawatt-hours of storage distributed over three islands. The company said the projects will provide power “in place of volatile prices of fossil fuels,” which it quotes at about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. AES, Innergex, Clearway and 174 Power Global are developing the projects.“It’s hard to overstate the scale of this announcement,” said Dan Finn-Foley, a senior energy storage analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.If the state’s public utility commission approves the power-purchase agreement contracts, it would mean a big boost for the U.S. storage market. WoodMac currently logs 1.4 gigawatt-hours of energy storage installed in the nation, with just 75 megawatt-hours in Hawaii. According to Finn-Foley, Hawaiian Electric’s projects would nearly double what’s installed in the U.S. and grow Hawaii’s market exponentially. Taken together, the projects would also rank as the second-largest storage announcement ever, just behind the recently approved Moss Landing project in California.But that’s not even the most thrilling part of this announcement for clean energy analysts. “What’s even more notable is the range of PPA prices,” said Finn-Foley.Past solar-plus-storage prices in Hawaii came in at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2016 and 11 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2017. One of the projects announced this week by Hawaiian Electric is more expensive than the latter price — 15 megawatts of solar and 60 megawatt-hours of storage at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. But another 90 megawatts of solar and 360 megawatt-hours of storage came in at what Finn-Foley called a “jaw-dropping” 8 cents per kilowatt-hour. That means that from 2016 to 2019 solar-plus-storage PPA prices in the state dropped by 42 percent.More: Hawaiian Electric announces ‘mind-blowing’ solar-plus-storage contracts Solar-plus-storage contracts in Hawaii hit record low priceslast_img read more

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Latest Microsoft deal pushes clean power portfolio to 1.3GW

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNBC:Microsoft has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for the energy produced by a 74-megawatt solar power facility in North Carolina. The Wilkinson Solar Energy Center will be built, owned and operated by Invenergy, the companies said in a joint announcement Wednesday.The deal means that Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio will stand at more than 1.3 gigawatts, the statement added.The new facility is due to commence commercial operations in 2019, while it is estimated that more than 500 jobs are set to be created during its construction.“When we invest in renewable energy, we are investing in the future — enabling sustainable growth of our business, of the clean energy sector and the local communities that benefit economically from Microsoft’s commitment to sustainability,” Brian Janous, general manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft, said Wednesday.More: Microsoft to buy energy from 74-megawatt solar power facility in North Carolina Latest Microsoft deal pushes clean power portfolio to 1.3GWlast_img read more

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Offshore wind supplied 8% of U.K. electricity in 2018

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first_imgOffshore wind supplied 8% of U.K. electricity in 2018 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Offshore Wind:Offshore wind generation in the UK rose by 28% percent in 2018, providing a record-breaking 8% of the UK’s electricity, according to the latest report by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).UK’s offshore wind capacity increased by 1.2GW due to several large projects opening or continuing to expand, including the 659MW Walney Extension offshore wind farm.Offshore wind turbines generated 26.7TWh last year contributing to the total renewable energy record production of 111.1TWh, an 11.8% increase compared to 2017.At the end of Q4, offshore wind held an 18.5% share in the UK’s renewables capacity, which totaled 44.4GW, a 9.7% increase year-on-year.The load factors for offshore wind increased by 1.2 percentage points, from 38.9% to 40.1%, BEIS reported.More: Offshore wind breaks records in UKlast_img read more

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Leading lignite miner in eastern Germany moves into battery storage market

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Energy Wire:Eastern Germany’s largest energy company and lignite mine operator, LEAG, has started work on a large-scale storage project that could help close a gap in the energy transition by enabling easier integration of renewable energy in the power grid. It will consist of a lithium-ion battery with a planned capacity of 50 megawatts (MW).The battery will store electricity from the German power grid generated by a variety of energy sources (the mix in 2018 was nearly 35 percent renewables, more than 50 percent fossil fuels and almost 12 percent nuclear).Although it will not only store renewable energy, its intelligent connection with a power plant control system can provide insights that LEAG hopes will “generate application examples for other industry sectors”. The energy company touts the project as “the only one of its kind in Europe” as it “combines modern power plant infrastructure with storage technology in a completely new order of magnitude”. The state of Brandenburg is supporting the project with 25 million euros.In the long run, storage facilities like the so-called BigBattery could provide the missing link in the German energy transition. Electricity from renewable sources is not available at all times. Finding ways to store the energy generated by weather-dependent renewables could therefore be an important element for the country’s Energiewende as Germany seeks to completely phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038 at the latest, as recommended by the country’s coal exit commission.Until now, LEAG has operated lignite mines, whose coal has fired four conventional power plants and been refined to create fuel. “With the installation of this large electrical storage unit, LEAG is becoming actively involved in a technological environment that offers a wide range of potential for the future,” Helmar Rendez, head of LEAG’s management board, said in a press release. “In order to develop LEAG into a broadly-based energy company, we require time and a reliable regulatory framework,” he added.Partnering with the Schwarze Pumpe industry park association, other industrial players and research institutions, LEAG has also applied for the funding of a hydrogen storage and power plant. If funded, this pilot project could likewise contribute to securing grid stability while enabling experiments on using hydrogen for sector coupling.More: German coal mine and power plant operator builds large-scale battery Leading lignite miner in eastern Germany moves into battery storage marketlast_img read more

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Colstrip’s new coal supply contract likely to raise price of plant’s electricity generation

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Billings Gazette:Colstrip Power Plant will continue receiving coal from Rosebud Mine under a six-year contract signed by all but one of the plant’s owners this weeThe contract, five years in the making, was signed with just weeks left on the coal arrangement between the mine and the power plant. The terms assure the Colstrip Power Plant won’t be shopping elsewhere for coal, something the power plant’s owners had been working toward since 2018.The contract length syncs with the start of a coal-power ban in Washington, which affects three of Colstrip’s utility owners: Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp. and PacifiCorp. Puget, which owns the largest stake in Colstrip, has no customers outside of Washington and will have to exit the power plant six years from now. It has no use for Colstrip power after 2025 under Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act.PacifiCorp and Avista both have customers outside Washington, but also have plans to abandon coal power. PacifiCorp announced earlier this year that it would exit Colstrip by 2027. Avista CEO Dennis Vermillion told employees earlier this week the company would exit Colstrip in 2027. Vermillion’s remarks were reported by the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune. Avista clarified to The Gazette on Thursday that its 20-year energy plan includes modeling to no longer be in Colstrip after 2025.In regulatory proceedings, Puget Sound Energy told Washington’s Utility and Transportation Commission that the price of coal for Colstrip was going to increase significantly. Thursday, Ron Roberts, PSE’s director of generation and natural gas storage, said the coal price had to remain confidential as the utility worked through its general rate case. But the rate increase wasn’t surprising, Roberts said, given that Westmoreland had gone bankrupt. Earlier this year, as creditors prepared to take over the coal company, Westmoreland notified the bankruptcy court that the new owners wouldn’t be honoring the terms of the current contract. The creditors wanted more for their coal.The one Colstrip Power Plant owner who didn’t sign the contract was Talen Energy. Westmoreland continues to negotiate terms with Talen, which faces different challenges than Colstrip’s other five owners. Namely, Talen sells its coal power on the open market where cheaper electricity generated by renewable energy and natural gas have made Colstrip power less competitive. [Tom Lutey]More: Colstrip Power Plant secures 6-year coal mine contract Colstrip’s new coal supply contract likely to raise price of plant’s electricity generationlast_img read more

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Oilfield services company Halliburton to furlough 3,500 workers as low crude prices take hold

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first_imgOilfield services company Halliburton to furlough 3,500 workers as low crude prices take hold FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Houston-based oilfield services major Halliburton Co. is implementing a mandatory furlough for 3,500 employees at one of its Houston campuses to manage costs in a challenging market, according to the company.Senior Director of Global Communications and Marketing Emily Mir said in a March 18 email that the company will begin implementing a mandatory 60-day furlough for employees at its North Belt campus in Houston starting March 23.During the furlough, employees will work a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule. Workers during their off week will not be permitted to perform any work on behalf of the company and will receive no pay for that week, Mir said. Employees’ benefits, including health insurance, will remain in place during the furlough period, she said.Halliburton is taking these steps to “best position our company in the current environment,” Mir said.Share prices of oilfield services companies, including Halliburton, have plunged since March 9, along with oil prices, after Russia refused to agree to Saudi Arabia’s call for new production cuts, prompting Saudi Arabia to slash prices and signal it would ramp up oil production by more than 10 million barrels per day in April.West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures settled the March 17 session at $26.95/bbl, down 6.1% on the day and down 55.8% year to date. Brent crude oil futures settled March 17 at $28.73/bbl, declining 4.4% on the day and down 57.8% year to date.[Jodi Shafto]More ($): Halliburton to furlough 3,500 workers at Houston campus to manage costslast_img read more

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Construction expected to begin on 700MW offshore Japanese wind farm in 2021

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OffshoreWind.biz:Japanese consortium developing the Akita Yurihonjo offshore wind farm has selected Kajima Corporation as the project’s contractor in charge of construction.The consortium, led by Renova, is developing the Akita Yurihonjo project through the special purpose company – Akita Yurihonjo Offshore Wind GK (AYOW). Members of the consortium also include Cosmo Eco Power, JR-EAST Energy Development, and Tohoku Electric Power.The wind farm will feature MHI Vestas wind turbines and have a generating capacity of around 700 MW.The project is expected to enter the construction phase in FY 2021 and become operational from FY 2024 onward.The project has been under development since 2015 and a project plan was drawn up based on the Second Phase of Akita Prefectural Strategy for New Energy Industries formulated by Akita Prefecture in 2016.Kajima was the general contractor on the project led by NEDO and TEPCO to install the first fixed-foundation offshore wind turbine in Japanese waters back in 2013. The company is also the EPCI contractor for the 140 MW Akita Noshiro project, the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in Japan.[Adnan Durakovic]More: Kajima to handle construction at 700 MW Japanese offshore wind farm Construction expected to begin on 700MW offshore Japanese wind farm in 2021last_img read more

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