Search Results for 'energy storage'

Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition

This publication website supports the new paper, in press at Nature Energy, titled: Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition as a site where users can download the Excel versions of the data sets used i that paper, whose authors Noah Kittnera,b, Felix Lillb,c and Daniel M. Kammen*a,b,d a Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA b Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA c Center for Digital Technology and Management, TU Munich, Munich, Germany d Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA give permission for open (but cited) use of these materials.

Forbes: China: Electric Vehicle-​​To-​​Grid Technology Could Solve Renewable Energy Storage Problem

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2015/04/21/china-electric-vehicle-to-grid-tech-could-solve-renewable-energy-storage-problem/ China could use an expected boom in electric vehicles to stabilize a grid that depends heavily on wind and solar energy, officials from an influential Chinese government planning agency said Monday in Washington D.C. “In the future we think the electricity vehicle could be the big contribution for power systems’ stability, reliability,” said Wang Zhongying, director of the China National Renewable Energy Center and deputy director general of the Energy Research Institute at China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The Chinese do not see the cost of renewable energy as a significant obstacle to its widespread adoption, Wang told a lunchtime gathering at Resources for the Future, a non-partisan environmental research organization in the Capitol. “The biggest challenge for renewable energy development is not economic issues, it is technical issues. Variability. Variability is the biggest issue for us,” said Wang, who explained variability like so: “When we have wind we have electricity; when we have sun we have electricity. No wind and no sun, no electricity.” But if the Chinese deploy enough electric vehicles—which could mean up to five million new electric vehicles in Beijing alone—the array of distributed batteries could collect energy when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and feed it back to the grid when the skies are dark and the air is still. Wang directed a study released this week, the “China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Roadmap Study,”  which plots a route for China to drastically reduce reliance on coal, derive 85 percent of electricity from renewables, and cut greenhouse gas emissions 60 percent by mid-century . The study gets there by relying on what has become known as Vehicle-to-Grid technology, which has emerged as almost a surprise side effect of inexpensive solar panels and clean-energy policies in places like California and Germany. The Chinese have been watching the same developments, the report reveals, as clean energy experts in the West like Daniel Kammen, who described unexpected effects of the solar-energy boom last week in an appearance at the University of Chicago.

“Massive amounts of solar power coming online in California, in Bangladesh, in Germany, in Italy, has meant the world has been turned on its head,” Kammen said.

“Now in places with the greenest energy policies, there is a huge peak in afternoon power on the grid, exactly where power used to be the most expensive and the dirtiest,” he said. “We actually want people to charge up now in the late afternoon. It sounds very chaotic, it’s not what we thought at all, but in fact it represents what low-cost solar is now bringing to many parts of the world.” Electricity consumers can store this abundant afternoon energy until supply goes down and demand goes up and then sell it back to the grid. And if they own electric vehicles, they needn’t buy extra equipment to do so. “You can put a big battery in the basement of your home or business, but you can also have your electric vehicle, with its mobile storage system that you drive around and use as your car. They’re called Nissan Leafs, they’re called Chevy Volts, they’re called Teslas, they’re called Priuses, they have a variety of names. And now you can sell power back to the grid.” An electric car with a range of 250 km can store 40 kWh of electricity, Wang said. Five million of those cars could stabilize Beijing’s grid to counteract variations in wind and sun, he said, and the number of automobiles in Beijing is expected to blossom from six million now to 10 million by 2030. If the range of electric cars doubles to 500 km, he added, they will store enough electricity that only two million will be needed. The cost of electric vehicles—about $40,000 in China, according to Wang—remains a hurdle, but China may slash the price by subsidizing vehicle batteries. China’s High Renewable Energy Roadmap resembles several U.S. Dept. of Energy studies that have plotted the route for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent by 2050. The U.S. studies anticipate that solar and wind will provide half of U.S. power needs by 2050, using pumped hydro and compressed-air storage systems to offset variability. Bulk battery systems were deemed too expensive to be viable, said Samuel Baldwin, chief science officer in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, but the U.S. studies did not anticipate the “distributed storage” option offered by electric vehicles. “I expect that battery storage like the Chinese study, with electric vehicles or stationary storage, is going to play a more important role,” Baldwin said.

It remains uncertain, however, how important a role it will play in China. The country’s first priority is economic development, said Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, also an arm of the National Development and Reform Commission.

By 2049, the centennial year of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese want to achieve a standard of living comparable to the most developed countries.

“China wants to be among the developed countries by 2050,” Li said. “That’s the first priority.”

China’s High Renewable Energy Roadmap is a “visionary scenario,” according to Joanna Lewis, an associate professor of science, technology and international affairs at Georgetown University. But it remains to be seen whether China’s Politburu shares the vision of its National Development and Reform Commission.

“We hope our study can influence the government’s 13th five-year plan and 2050 energy strategy,” said Wang. “That’s very important.”

EU must not burn the world’s forests for ‘renewable’ energy

A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forests   The European Union is moving to enact a directive to double Europe’s current renewable energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a critical flaw in the present version would accelerate climate change, allowing countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees and burning them for energy fully qualifies as renewable energy. Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quantity of trees and to avoid profound harm to the climate and forests worldwide the European council and parliament must fix this flaw. European producers of wood products have for decades generated electricity and heat as beneficial by-products, using wood wastes and limited forest residues. Most of this material would decompose and release carbon dioxide in a few years anyway, so using them to displace fossil fuels can reduce the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere in a few years too.   Unfortunately, the directive moving through parliament would go beyond wastes and residues and credit countries and companies for cutting down additional trees simply to burn them for energy. To do so has fundamentally different consequences because the carbon released into the air would otherwise stay locked up in forests. The reasoning seems to be that so long as forests re-grow, they will eventually reabsorb the carbon released. Yet even then, the net effect – as many studies have shown – will typically be to increase global warming for decades to centuries, even when wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas.   The reasons begin with the inherent inefficiencies in harvesting wood. Typically, around one third or more of each tree is contained in roots and small branches that are properly left in the forest to protect soils, and most of which decompose, emitting carbon. The wood that is burned releases even more carbon than coal per unit of energy generated, and burns at a lower temperature, producing less electricity – turning wood into compressed pellets increases efficiency but uses energy and creates large additional emissions. A power plant burning wood chips will typically emit one and a half times the carbon dioxide of a plant burning coal and at least three times the carbon dioxide emitted by a power plant burning natural gas.   Although regrowing trees absorb carbon, trees grow slowly, and for some years a regrowing forest absorbs less carbon than if the forest were left unharvested. Eventually, the new forest grows faster and the carbon it absorbs, plus the reduction in fossil fuels, can pay back the “carbon debt”, but that takes decades to centuries, depending on the forest type and use. We conservatively estimate that using deliberately harvested wood instead of fossil fuels will release at least twice as much carbon dioxide to the air by 2050 per kilowatt hour. Doing so turns a potential reduction in emissions from solar or wind into a large increase. Time matters. Placing an additional carbon load in the atmosphere for decades means permanent damage due to more rapid melting of permafrost and glaciers, and more packing of heat and acidity into the world’s oceans. At a critical moment when countries need to be “buying time” against climate change, this approach amounts to selling the world’s limited time to combat climate change under mistaken claims of improvement.   The effect on the world’s forests, carbon and biodiversity is likely to be large because even though Europe is a large producer of wood, its harvest could only supply about 6% of its primary energy. For more than a decade, the increased use of biomass has been supplying roughly half of Europe’s increase in renewable energy. To supply even one third of the additional renewable energy likely required by 2030, Europe would need to burn an amount of wood greater than its total harvest today. This would turn a likely 6% decrease in energy emissions by 2050 under the directive through solar and wind into at least a 6% increase. Europe’s own demand for wood would degrade forests around the world, but if other countries follow Europe’s example, the impacts would be even more dangerous. Instead of encouraging Indonesia and Brazil to preserve their tropical forests – Europe’s present position – the message of this directive is “cut your forests so long as someone burns them for energy”. Once countries are invested in such efforts, fixing the error may become impossible. To supply just an additional 3% of global energy with wood, the world needs to double its commercial wood harvests at great costs to carbon and wildlife.   Neither a requirement that forests be managed sustainably nor any other “safeguards” in the various working drafts would stop this. For example, the directive would ban wood if harvests undermined “the long-term productivity capacity of the forest”. Although that sounds good, preserving the capacity of trees to grow back still leaves more carbon in the air for at least decades. Restricting wood harvests to countries with net growing forests – another idea – would still take carbon that forests would otherwise add to their storage and instead put it in the air without meaningful global limits.   The solution is to restrict eligible forest biomass to its traditional sources of residues and waste. Legislators will likely be able to vote on such an amendment in the parliament’s plenary. By 1850, the use of wood for bioenergy helped drive the near deforestation of western Europe even at a time when Europeans consumed relatively little energy. Although coal helped to save the forests of Europe, the solution is not to go back to burning forests. As scientists, we collectively have played key roles in the IPCC, in advising European governments, and in forest and climate research. We encourage European legislators and other policymakers to amend the present directive because the fate of much of the world’s forests is literally at stake.   Prof John Beddington, Oxford Martin School, former chief scientist to the UK government; Prof Steven Berry, Yale University; Prof Ken Caldeira*, Stanford University and Carnegie Institution for Science; Wolfgang Cramer*, research director (CNRS), Mediterranean Institute of marine and terrestrial biodiversity and ecology; Felix Creutzig*, chair Sustainability Economics of Human Settlement at Berlin Technical University and leader at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change; Prof Dan Kammen*, University of California at Berkeley, director Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory; Prof Eric Lambin, Université catholique de Louvain and Stanford University; Prof Simon Levin, Princeton University, recipient US National Medal of Science; Prof Wolfgang Lucht*, Humboldt University and co-chair of Potsdam Institute for Climate Research; Prof Georgina Mace FRS*, University College London; Prof William Moomaw*, Tufts University; Prof Peter Raven, director emeritus Missouri Botanical Society, recipient US National Medal of Science; Tim Searchinger, research scholar, Princeton University and senior fellow, World Resources Institute; Prof Nils Christian Stenseth, University of Oslo, past president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters; Prof Jean Pascal van Ypersele, Université Catholique de Louvain, former IPCC vice-chair (2008-2015).   Those marked * have been lead authors on IPCC reports.   For more on Professor Kammen and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory's work on biomass, click here and search 'biomass'

In The Guardian: EU must not burn the world’s forests for ‘renewable’ energy

December 14, 2017 - The Guardian

A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forests The European Union is moving to enact a directive to double Europe’s current renewable energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a critical flaw in the present version would accelerate climate change, allowing countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees and burning them for energy fully qualifies as renewable energy. Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quantity of trees and to avoid profound harm to the climate and forests worldwide the European council and parliament must fix this flaw. European producers of wood products have for decades generated electricity and heat as beneficial by-products, using wood wastes and limited forest residues. Most of this material would decompose and release carbon dioxide in a few years anyway, so using them to displace fossil fuels can reduce the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere in a few years too. Unfortunately, the directive moving through parliament would go beyond wastes and residues and credit countries and companies for cutting down additional trees simply to burn them for energy. To do so has fundamentally different consequences because the carbon released into the air would otherwise stay locked up in forests. The reasoning seems to be that so long as forests re-grow, they will eventually reabsorb the carbon released. Yet even then, the net effect – as many studies have shown – will typically be to increase global warming for decades to centuries, even when wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas. The reasons begin with the inherent inefficiencies in harvesting wood. Typically, around one third or more of each tree is contained in roots and small branches that are properly left in the forest to protect soils, and most of which decompose, emitting carbon. The wood that is burned releases even more carbon than coal per unit of energy generated, and burns at a lower temperature, producing less electricity – turning wood into compressed pellets increases efficiency but uses energy and creates large additional emissions. A power plant burning wood chips will typically emit one and a half times the carbon dioxide of a plant burning coal and at least three times the carbon dioxide emitted by a power plant burning natural gas. Although regrowing trees absorb carbon, trees grow slowly, and for some years a regrowing forest absorbs less carbon than if the forest were left unharvested. Eventually, the new forest grows faster and the carbon it absorbs, plus the reduction in fossil fuels, can pay back the “carbon debt”, but that takes decades to centuries, depending on the forest type and use. We conservatively estimate that using deliberately harvested wood instead of fossil fuels will release at least twice as much carbon dioxide to the air by 2050 per kilowatt hour. Doing so turns a potential reduction in emissions from solar or wind into a large increase. Time matters. Placing an additional carbon load in the atmosphere for decades means permanent damage due to more rapid melting of permafrost and glaciers, and more packing of heat and acidity into the world’s oceans. At a critical moment when countries need to be “buying time” against climate change, this approach amounts to selling the world’s limited time to combat climate change under mistaken claims of improvement. The effect on the world’s forests, carbon and biodiversity is likely to be large because even though Europe is a large producer of wood, its harvest could only supply about 6% of its primary energy. For more than a decade, the increased use of biomass has been supplying roughly half of Europe’s increase in renewable energy. To supply even one third of the additional renewable energy likely required by 2030, Europe would need to burn an amount of wood greater than its total harvest today. This would turn a likely 6% decrease in energy emissions by 2050 under the directive through solar and wind into at least a 6% increase. Europe’s own demand for wood would degrade forests around the world, but if other countries follow Europe’s example, the impacts would be even more dangerous. Instead of encouraging Indonesia and Brazil to preserve their tropical forests – Europe’s present position – the message of this directive is “cut your forests so long as someone burns them for energy”. Once countries are invested in such efforts, fixing the error may become impossible. To supply just an additional 3% of global energy with wood, the world needs to double its commercial wood harvests at great costs to carbon and wildlife. Neither a requirement that forests be managed sustainably nor any other “safeguards” in the various working drafts would stop this. For example, the directive would ban wood if harvests undermined “the long-term productivity capacity of the forest”. Although that sounds good, preserving the capacity of trees to grow back still leaves more carbon in the air for at least decades. Restricting wood harvests to countries with net growing forests – another idea – would still take carbon that forests would otherwise add to their storage and instead put it in the air without meaningful global limits. The solution is to restrict eligible forest biomass to its traditional sources of residues and waste. Legislators will likely be able to vote on such an amendment in the parliament’s plenary. By 1850, the use of wood for bioenergy helped drive the near deforestation of western Europe even at a time when Europeans consumed relatively little energy. Although coal helped to save the forests of Europe, the solution is not to go back to burning forests. As scientists, we collectively have played key roles in the IPCC, in advising European governments, and in forest and climate research. We encourage European legislators and other policymakers to amend the present directive because the fate of much of the world’s forests is literally at stake. Prof John Beddington, Oxford Martin School, former chief scientist to the UK government; Prof Steven Berry, Yale University; Prof Ken Caldeira*, Stanford University and Carnegie Institution for Science; Wolfgang Cramer*, research director (CNRS), Mediterranean Institute of marine and terrestrial biodiversity and ecology; Felix Creutzig*, chair Sustainability Economics of Human Settlement atBerlin Technical University and leader at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change; Prof Dan Kammen*, University of California at Berkeley, director Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory; Prof Eric Lambin Université catholique de Louvain and Stanford University; Prof Simon Levin, Princeton University, recipient US National Medal of Science; Prof Wolfgang Lucht*, Humboldt University and co-chair of Potsdam Institute for Climate Research; Prof Georgina Mace FRS*, University College London; Prof William Moomaw*, Tufts University; Prof Peter Raven, director emeritus Missouri Botanical Society, recipient US National Medal of Science; Tim Searchinger, research scholar, Princeton University and senior fellow, World Resources Institute; Prof Nils Christian Stenseth, University of Oslo, past president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters; Prof Jean Pascal van Ypersele, Université Catholique de Louvain, former IPCC vice-chair (2008-2015).   Those marked * have been lead authors on IPCC reports.   For more on Professor Kammen and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory's work on biomass, click here and search 'biomass'   _____________________________________________________   If you would like to sign on to this open letter o amend a Renewable Energy Directive under debate so that the directive does not encourage the burning of wood harvested just for that purpose.    The letter closely tracks the following editorial recently published in the Guardian by several prominent scientists and economists. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/eu-must-not-burn-the-worlds-forests-for-renewable-energy  
Europe is currently considering a renewable energy directive that would raise the requirements to use renewable energy from a level of roughly 17% of final energy demand today to a level of 27-35% by 2030.   While this target is laudable, the directive counts as fully qualifying renewable energy the use of wood harvested for that purpose, and not merely residues and waste. The previous renewable energy directive has already led European power plants, factoring and heating installations to shift to wood, importing much of that in the form of wood pellets from the U.S. and Canada. Many academic papers have calculated that any wood harvested for burning, even if trees are allowed to regrow, would result in increases in greenhouse gas emissions for decades to centuries even compared to the use of fossil fuels.
The major consequences of the new directive result from the sheer scope of the potential wood requirements. Although biomass has been supplying around half of Europe's growth in renewable energy (from 11% in 2007 to  around 17% today), if wood biomass supplied even one third of the future required growth by 2030, the directive would require an amount of wood greater than all annual European wood harvest, which also roughly equals all annual U.S. and Canadian wood harvests combined.
The directive will be voted on probably the third week in January in the European Parliament, and there will be an amendment to restrict forest biomass to residues and wastes. There have been previous letters by 100 or more scientists on this issue to European leaders, and we are hoping for more this time. If you are a scientists and would like to sign on, please also consider encouraging other scientists you know as well.
If you would like to sign on, please send an email either to Greg Davies or Zuzana Burialova at Princeton University at gd3@princeton.edu or z.burivalova@princeton.edu, who will be keeping track.
The final sign-on date will be January 5, 2018.
THE TEXT OF THE LETTER:
  SCIENTIST EU FOREST BIOMASS SIGN-ON LETTER   To Members of the European Parliament, As the European Parliament commendably moves to expand the renewable energy directive, we strongly urge members of Parliament to amend the present directive to avoid expansive harm to the world’s forests and the acceleration of climate change. The flaw in the directive lies in provisions that would let countries, power plants and factories claim credit toward renewable energy targets for deliberately cutting down trees to burn them for energy. The solution should be to restrict the forest biomass eligible under the directive to residues and wastes. For decades, European producers of paper and timber products have generated electricity and heat as beneficial by-products using wood wastes and limited forest residues. Since most of these waste materials would decompose and release carbon dioxide within a few years, using them to displace fossil fuels can reduce net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere in a few years as well. By contrast, cutting down trees for bioenergy releases carbon that would otherwise stay locked up in forests, and diverting wood otherwise used for wood products will cause more cutting elsewhere to replace them. Even if forests are allowed to regrow, using wood deliberately harvested for burning will increase carbon in the atmosphere and warming for decades to centuries – as many studies have shown – even when wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas. The reasons are fundamental and occur regardless of whether forest management is “sustainable.” Burning wood is inefficient and therefore emits far more carbon than burning fossil fuels for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced. Harvesting wood also properly leaves some biomass behind to protect soils, such as roots and small branches, which decompose and emit carbon. The result is a large “carbon debt.” Re-growing trees and displacement of fossil fuels may eventually pay off this “carbon debt’ but only over long periods. Overall, allowing the harvest and burning of wood under the directive will transform large reductions otherwise achieved through solar and wind into large increases in carbon in the atmosphere by 2050. Time matters. Placing an additional carbon load in the atmosphere for decades means permanent damages due to more rapid melting of permafrost and glaciers, and more packing of heat and acidity into the world’s oceans. At a critical moment when countries need to be “buying time” against climate change, this approach amounts to “selling” the world’s limited time to combat climate change. The adverse implications not just for carbon but for global forests and biodiversity are also large. More than 100% of Europe’s annual harvest of wood would be needed to supply just one third of the expanded renewable energy directive. Because demand for wood and paper will remain, the result will be increased degradation of forests around the world. The example Europe would set for other countries would be even more dangerous. Europe has been properly encouraging countries such as Indonesia and Brazil to protect their forests, but the message of this directive is “cut your forests so long as someone burns them for energy.” Once countries invest in such efforts, fixing the error may become impossible. If the world moves to supply just an additional 3% of global energy with wood, it must double its commercial cuttings of the world’s forests. By 1850, the use of wood for bioenergy helped drive the near deforestation of western Europe even when Europeans consumed far less energy than they do today. Although coal helped to save the forests of Europe, the solution to replacing coal is not to go back to burning forests, but instead to replace fossil fuels with low carbon sources, such as solar and wind. We urge European legislators to amend the present directive to restrict eligible forest biomass to appropriately defined residues and wastes because the fate of much of the world’s forests and the climate are literally at stake. Initial signers: John Beddington, Professor, Oxford Martin School, former Chief Scientist to the government of the United Kingdom Steven Berry, Professor, Yale University, former Chairman, Department of Economics, fellow American Academy of Arts and Sciences, winner of the Frisch Medal of the Econometric Society. Ken Caldeira – Professor, Stanford University and Carnegie Institution for Science, Coordinating lead author or lead author of multiple IPCC reports. Wolfgang Cramer, Research Director, CNRS, Mediterranean Institute of marine and terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology, Aix-en-Provence, member Académie d'Agriculture de France France, Coordinating lead author and lead author of multiple IPCC reports, Felix Creutzig, Chair Sustainability Economics of Human Settlement at Technische Universität Berlin, Leader, leader Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Lead author of IPCC V Assessment Report and coordinator of appendix on bioenergy. Phil Duffy, President, Woods Hole Research Center, former Senior Advisor White Office of Science and Technology Policy, Contributing author of multiple IPCC reports Dan Kammen – Professor University of California at Berkeley, Director Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Coordinating lead author or lead author of multiple IPCC reports. Eric Lambin – Professor Université catholique de Louvain and Stanford University, member European and U.S. Academies of Science, 2014 laureate of Volvo Environment Prize Simon Levin – Professor Princeton University, Recipient, U.S. National Medal of Science, member U.S. National Academy of Sciences Wolfgang Lucht – Professor Humboldt University and Co-Chair of Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, lead author of multiple IPCC reports Georgina Mace FRS, Professor, University College London, Lead author IPCC report and Winner International Cosmos Prize William Moomaw – Emeritus Professor, Tufts University, Coordinating lead author or lead author of multiple IPCC reports Peter Raven – Director Emeritus Missouri Botanical Society, Recipient U.S. National Medal of Science and former President of American Association for Advancement of Science Tim Searchinger - Research Scholar, Princeton University and Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute Nils Chr. Stenseth, Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oslo, Past president of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, member Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, The National Academy of Science (Washington), French Academy of Sciences, and Academia Europaea Jean Pascal van Ypersele, Professor, Université catholique de Louvain, Former IPCC Vice-chair (2008-2015), member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, lead author or review editor of multiple IPCC reports
 

Two-​​factor learning curve published in Nature Energy

RAEL and Technical University of Munich team publish: "Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition" in Nature Energy.   Access at Nature Energy here. ___________________________________________________________ New Study Find That Energy Storage Prices are Falling Faster than Solar PV or Wind Technology Costs, Outcompeting Coal and Natural Gas Plants Berkeley, CA, July 31, 2017 -- Storage prices are falling faster than solar PV or wind technologies, according to a new study published in Nature Energy. The fall in prices is allowing new combinations of solar, wind, and energy storage to outcompete coal and natural gas plants on cost alone. A research team from the University of California and TU Munich in Germany found that R&D investments for energy storage projects have been remarkably effective in bringing the cost per kWh of a lithium-ion battery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to a trajectory that could reach $100/kWh next year. The pace of innovation is staggering. Ordinarily, public research investment and private venture capital money undergo tough scrutiny before money can be spent on research and the results from years of work are not immediately visible. However, this study shows that long-term R&D spending played a critical factor in achieving cost reductions, and a recent lack of investment for basic and applied research may miss the $100/kWh target for cost effective renewable energy projects. Modest future research investment from public and private sectors could go a long way to unlock extremely low-cost, and low-carbon electricity from solar, wind, and storage. As Tesla moves to install a Gigafactory in Nevada and the largest lithium-ion storage facility in the world in southern Australia, new combinations of energy storage in terms of size, scale, and chemistry are emerging quicker than ever. Tesla’s storage projects are not the only examples. Cities like Berlin have already embraced grid-scale storage. Berlin plans to install a 120 MW flow battery underground to support wind and solar efforts at integrated prices as low at 15 cents/kWh, in line with forecasts made in this paper. California is home to the first energy storage mandate on the grid, requiring utilities procure 1.325 GW of storage by 2020. These innovative policies showcase the range of storage options that may benefit clean energy, from small Powerwall batteries in the home to city-scale storage facilities providing back-up to utility-scale wind and solar farms. There is an important co-evolution of battery developments for electric vehicle usage, grid-scale storage that supports solar and wind electricity, and other consumer applications for new electronics. To forecast future energy storage prices, the researchers compiled a new dataset looking back to prices from the early 1990’s and development of new lithium-ion batteries through international patent databases. The team also looked at how storage co-evolved with solar and wind innovations. They found that for storage technologies, investment in applied research may actually be a more effective in $/kWh cost reduction than pure economies of scale mass production. This past year (2017) the US reached its goal of $1/W SunShot solar power three years early. However, low-cost solar is usable during the day and experiences intermittency, which causes researchers to question the reliability of solar power. That’s why energy storage makes a big difference. The study follows a string of research investigating the relationship between research funding and deployment of new technologies for solar panels and wind turbines. The team highlights the need for more research in emerging storage technologies, as there is not a clear winner, and a diverse range of options may outlast lithium-ion batteries. There may be room for a number of different battery chemistries that all provide different services on an evolving grid, some providing voltage regulation and frequency control, and others serving long duration outages and providing back-up for buildings and communities. The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF, 1144885), Karsten Family Foundation, and Zaffaroni Family Foundation. Kittner, N., Lill, F. & Kammen, D. M. Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition. Nature. Energy 2, 17125 (2017). Paper and supplemental data are available online at: https://rael.berkeley.edu/project/innovation-in-energy-storage/ Cite and access this paper directly from NATURE ENERGY in Volume 2, 17125 (2017), DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.125 | www.nature.com/natureenergy Media contacts: Daniel M. Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley, Chair of the Energy and Resources Group, and Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy; also Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department (kammen@berkeley.edu, 510-642-1760) Noah Kittner, (nrkittner@berkeley.edu, 919-614-8825

Despite Its Oil-​​Industry Past, Energy Transitions Commission Foresees A Full-​​Renewables Future

Despite Its Oil-Industry Past, Energy Transitions Commission Foresees A Full-Renewables Future by Jeff McMahon, based in Chicago. Follow Jeff McMahon on FacebookGoogle PlusTwitter, or email him here. Renewables could provide nearly all the power in some regions in less than 20 years, reliably, and at a cost competitive with fossil fuels, according to a report released today by the Energy Transitions Commission. The report's striking confidence in solar and wind is likely to surprise not only critics of those technologies but also environmentalists, who greeted the commission with skepticismwhen it was founded in 2015. The commission was launched by Royal Dutch Shell and includes executives from Shell, GE Oil and Gas, Australia's BHP Billiton, Norway's Statoil and other traditional-energy companies. "We believe that close to zero-carbon power systems with very high levels of intermittent renewable penetration (up to 98% in countries like Germany) could deliver reliable power in many countries at a maximum of $70 per MWh by 2035," the commission states in its flagship report. 960x0   In 2015, Carbon Tracker's Anthony Hobley criticized the ETCbecause of its initial goal to study how to fuel half the power sector with zero-carbon energy sources by 2050, a path that Hobley said would put the world on course for 4˚C of warming. The ETC appears to have raised its ambitions since. Worldwide, zero-carbon sources could represent 80 percent of the global power mix by 2040, the commission now says, with solar and wind comprising the majority of that. That still leaves 20 percent of the world power market to fossil fuels. But that's a big drop from the current state of affairs, in which fossil fuels provide about 80 percent of primary energy production. “We are ambitious but realistic," said commission chairman Adair Turner, a British businessman, via email. "Despite the scale of the challenges facing us, we firmly believe the required transition is technically and economically achievable if immediate action is taken.” When I contacted Carbon Tracker Monday, Hobley had not had an opportunity yet to review the report or comment. The report calls for reducing CO2 emissions more rapidly than the Paris Agreement. Its reliance on solar and wind depends in part on its projection that the cost of batteries will continue to drop. But it stresses there are cheaper means than battery storage to smooth out the intermittent performance of solar and wind. It cites a suite of technologies and techniques, including:

  • demand management, especially of industry

  • flexible electric vehicle charging

  • load shifting between regions

  • automated load shifting

  • better grid management

  • large-scale heat storage

  • distributed thermal storage in the built environment

  • compressed air storage

  • hydrogen storage

  • geologic storage

The commission modeled the use of these technologies in California and concluded that if California builds a power system that relies nearly entirely on solar and wind, these lower-cost options could offer the system reliability for almost half the cost of the traditional method of achieving reliability—turning on gas-turbine plants. University of Berkeley energy professor Daniel Kammen has been outlining a similar scenario: "The dramatic ramp up in solar resulted in the dramatic realization that a diverse, decentralized system can provide the same critical features that we think about with a baseload highly centralized system," Kammen said last summer. "Not tomorrow, but in the time frame that we need it, it's absolutely there." It's easier to see how zero-carbon sources can conquer 80 percent of the energy market, the commission concedes, than the last 20 percent. If the world is to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2º C, the report says, four energy transitions have to be pursued simultaneously in each country:
  1. Decarbonization of the power sector combined with electrification of transportation, buildings and industry.
  2. Decarbonization of activities that cannot be affordably electrified, by using biofuels or hydrogen for heating or by capturing carbon emissions.
  3. Improvements in energy productivity and efficiency.
  4. Optimization of fossil fuels within the constraints of the world's overall carbon budget, including the continued replacement of coal with natural gas, an end to methane leaks and methane flaring at oil fields, and development of carbon capture and storage.
To achieve these transitions, the world needs to change the way it finances energy, and it needs "coherent and predictable" policy from governments, the report says, recommending a price on carbon.
"A meaningful carbon price would help drive a faster and more certain transition."
  By Jeff McMahon, based in Chicago. Follow Jeff McMahon on FacebookGoogle PlusTwitter, or email him here.

New York Times: Testing the Clean-​​Energy Logic of a Tesla-​​SolarCity Merger

For the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/24/business/energy-environment/testing-the-clean-energy-logic-of-a-tesla-solarcity-merger.html?_r=0  

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and chairman of SolarCity, says he wants to create the “world’s only vertically integrated energy company” with the merger of the two companies. CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images 

Imagine a world in which every home and building is a miniature power plant, with solar panels on the roofs and electric vehicles and stationary battery banks in the garages.

Meters and software would manage the flow of power, allowing homeowners and businesses to seamlessly buy and sell electricity at the best prices, simultaneously lowering their costs and raising the amount of green energy on the grid.

That’s the long-term vision behind the plan that Elon Musk described late Tuesday, explaining the rationale for Tesla to acquire SolarCity and create the “world’s only vertically integrated energy company.’’And it may very well become reality, whether in years or decades, and whether Mr. Musk’s version of the vision is one that proves viable.

Still, if Mr. Musk and his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, can trounce the competition and surmount their financial woes — and those are very big ifs — the integrated company they are trying to assemble could be in a position to dominate.

“This is an effort to build the Apple of clean energy,” said Daniel M. Kammen, the director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. “That really is part of the new wave of companies that could make this decarbonization addressing climate change really work.”

Wall Street, at least for the moment, is not on board.

SolarCity’s stock, which has been trading at roughly a quarter of its peak value in recent months, rose after the announcement. But Tesla’s has tumbled. Several analysts and investors have questioned the wisdom of adding to both companies’ financial pressures — between them the companies lost more than $1.6 billion last year — and potentially distracting Tesla from building its enormous battery factory in Nevada and bringing its first moderately priced car to market next year.

Even some energy analysts say the proposed acquisition is at least as much about helping Mr. Musk’s personal investments as furthering his green agenda. But, some energy experts and investors say, there is logic in combining Tesla, where Mr. Musk is chief executive, and SolarCity, where he is chairman.

Describing Tesla automobiles as “batteries wrapped in a car,” Shawn Kravetz, founder of the solar power investment company Esplanade Capital, said that the energy storage business was likely to become colossal. “And so you can see,’’ he said, ‘‘how the electricity to power those batteries can be an essential part of this.”

The two companies have been moving toward a closer partnership for some time. SolarCity began installing Tesla batteries in pilot projects for residential and commercial customers about four years ago. Last year, Tesla announced its move to market rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs that could mount to a home garage wall, as well as battery blocks large enough to power commercial and industrial customers and serve in utility-scale installations to smooth out fluctuations in the grid.

At the same time, SolarCity, after years of challenging the utility industry to innovate or die, started acting more like a utility itself. It began a program aimed at cities, remote communities, campuses and military bases to design and operate small, independent power networks called microgrids. At the time, Peter Rive, one of the company’s founders and its chief technical officer, called the system “a template that can be scaled up to basically be the next-generation grid.”

As the leading rooftop solar provider in the country, SolarCity is thought to have the largest collection of data on how solar customers use energy at every minute of the day. With that data — especially if combined with information from electric cars, chargers and stationary batteries — the combined company could be well suited to creating products and services based on customer needs.

“They deeply understand what the customer’s usage patterns are,” said Swapnil Shah, chief executive of FirstFuel Software, which provides energy management services to buildings. He compared the potential to Amazon’s ability to adapt and customize online shopping to buyer’s behavior.

“They’re creating unique personalized profiles of your habits,’’ Mr. Shah said, “and they use that to identify what is the next click for the next product.”

And yet, while SolarCity was building the infrastructure for a new, decentralized approach to power production known as distributed generation, while earning a reputation for aggressive attacks on the old-school utility industry, Mr. Musk was turning Tesla into “the brand that everyone wants to buy,” Mr. Kammen said. That brand burnishing is something that could benefit SolarCity, he said.

But a big challenge for Tesla, said Shayle Kann of GTM Research, which focuses on clean energy industries, is that it is not the only company with such a grand vision. Utility industry stalwarts like Edison International and Con Edison are developing energy services and consulting divisions, while technology giants like General Electric, Oracle, Google and even Apple are getting into the business of providing or managing power.

Of course, the merger plan may not go through, if other investors balk and because of the corporate governance and other issues arising from Mr. Musk’s roles in both companies. He also owns more than 20 percent of each. But maybe a merger isn’t necessary to achieve the larger goals.

“Do you have to own things in order to leverage or even to a certain extent control them?” Mr. Kravetz of Esplanade Capital asked. “I think the answer is no. You don’t have to own the cow to get the milk.”

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