Category Archives: Research

Morgan Stanley expects a surge of renewables, coal retirements

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

Partly driven by falling renewable energy prices, at least 70,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity could be shuttered this decade, on top of the 24,000 MW that is already set to retire, according to Morgan Stanley & Co. “We are at the start of a ‘second wave’ of renewables deployment and coal plant retirements, led by utilities that have historically not been leaders in decarbonization,” analysts with the investment firm said in a report released in December. Replacing coal with renewables could save consumers $3 billion to $8 billion a year, according to the report, The Second Wave of Clean Energy. It also represents a renewable energy investment opportunity of $93 billion to $184 billion, the analysts said. Read more here. 

IOWA CITY SCHOOLS’ CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

CORPORATE CLEAN ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise, GreenBiz. Here are five trends and notable developments based on last quarter’s clean energy procurement deals. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING / REGENERATIVE ENERGY

NEW OPPORTUNITY ZONES TOOL

U.S. Economic Development Administration And Indiana University Launch New USA Opportunity Zones Tool, EDA January 2020 Newsletter

On January 14, EDA and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business announced the launch of the USA Opportunity Zones tool. This new web-based tool will help local economic and community developers, investors, the more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs), and others across the nation better target private investment to Opportunity ZonesAs economic development practitioners build their five-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), incorporating Opportunity Zones is a new and promising tool for further enhancing economic growth.

EIA projects US solar power market to install 24 GW in 2020, blowing away prior records

By John Weaver, PV Magazine

The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that 13.4 GWac of utility scale solar power, and 5.1 GWac of small solar power will be installed in the U.S. in 2020 — a 95% increase over 2019. The massive growth projected isn’t limited to just utility-scale. The EIA projections see small-scale solar growing from 3.6 GWac deployed in 2019 by 38% to just over 5 GWac installed. This growth is mostly driven by the residential market, but also by the commercial market, which is expected to grow again after contracting in 2019. Read more here.

Wind + solar expected to add 61 GW over next two years: EIA, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?, U.S. Department of Energy

SUSTAINABLE INVESTING

BlackRock Sends Huge Warning Shot at Companies Ignoring Climate Risk, Greentech Media
In a move that will resound across the world of energy investing, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, this week warned of a “fundamental reshaping of finance” as the impacts of climate change become better understood. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in an open letter that his company will end support for thermal coal, screen fossil fuel investments more closely, and redesign its own investment approach to put sustainability at its core. 

BlackRock joins Climate Action 100+ to ensure largest corporate emitters act on climate crisis, Climate Action 100+ News Release. With the addition of the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $6.8 trillion USD in assets under management, Climate Action 100+ continues to grow in size and influence. BlackRock joins more than 370 global investors already participating in the initiative. The addition of funds it manages, brings total assets under management represented by investors participating in Climate Action 100+ to more than $41 trillion.

TRIBAL SOLAR

Tribal Leaders Hope Large South Dakota Solar Project Becomes Model for Others, Native News Online
On the western edge of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, tribal officials hope a major solar energy project will help tap into the vast potential of renewable energy projects on tribal land across the U.S. The planned Lookout Solar Park project — which could exceed $200 million and add up to 140 megawatts to the state’s paltry solar energy portfolio — would be the largest of its kind in the state.

Previously Posted: Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plainsby Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

TRI-STATE

Westminster-based utility Tri-State says it will be 50% renewable by 2024, Denver Post
Calling it transformative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association released a plan Wednesday to boost its renewable energy sources to 50% by 2024 and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 90% by 2030 from Colorado facilities it owns or operates. The announcement of the utility’s “Responsible Energy Plan” follows news last week that it will close its coal plants and a coal mine in New Mexico and Colorado earlier than anticipated.

Tri-State Association members are located in four states: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

SOLAR FAQ

How Well Do Solar Panels Work In The Snow?, WCCO / CBS Minnesota
According to Dan Thiede with the UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, panels can produce a little power with a light coating of snow because some light is able to come through. But, when the snow is thick and heavy, the panels cannot produce. Once the snow is removed, they will produce again

WILDLIFE & WIND ENERGY

Migratory birds and wind energy: Looking at reality, by Michael Speerschneider, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. Last week, several House lawmakers introduced a bill that would reform the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The ensuing debate sure to arise provides an excellent opportunity to lay some facts on the table about wind energy’s wholistic impact on birds.

EV INDUSTRY NEWS

2020 Outlook: Coal faces headwinds from aging plants, adverse market signals and high remediation costs

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

New legislative and gubernatorial leadership elected in the 2018 midterm elections brought heightened pressure to the coal industry in 2019 — a pressure that’s expected to continue from state legislators, regulators and evolving power markets in 2020, according to stakeholders.

Over 10 GW of coal-fired power was retired in 2019, driven largely by “a sustained downward pressure on the market” expected to continue throughout 2020, a ScottMadden analyst told Utility Dive in an email. Natural gas surpassed coal as the number one producer of electric power in 2016, and in April and May of 2019 renewable energy supplied more power than coal for the first time. Read more here.


Catherine Morehouse
Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SECURITIZATION
Kansas considering securitization for aging coal plants, but caution urged, Utility Dive
Securitization of uneconomic electric utility assets has become a growing strategy to allow for the retirement of coal plants before the end of their useful lives without saddling ratepayers with the cost of these stranded assets. Several other states, such as Colorado, Montana and New Mexico, have passed legislation that makes this option available to utilities. Kansas lawmakers are now considering the securitization option as well.

Previously Posted

NAACP’S JUST ENERGY PROGRAM

For Indiana NAACP, energy justice has long been a civil rights issue, Energy News Network
The NAACP has recently encouraged state and local chapters to avoid being influenced by utilities or fossil fuel interests that donate money to the historic civil rights organization but push policies and take actions that hurt African American and other environmental justice communities. In Indiana, a conservative state where fossil fuel interests and utilities are considered to have much influence, it’s a dynamic the NAACP state chapter is well versed in navigating.

Just Energy Toolkit

The Just Energy Policies and Practices Action Toolkit is 8 modules of practical, user-friendly guidance on how you can phase out toxic energy like coal, nuclear, and oil facilities and bring in clean energy like wind and solar.  Designed to be downloaded as an entire toolkit or as individual modules, you can start planning energy justice plans to best fit the needs in your community. 
Learn more about the toolkit and other Just Energy resources here.

MORE ENERGY TRANSFORMATION NEWS & ANALYSIS

ACORE’s four policies to clean the grid, PV Magazine
The report, titled Policy Options That Most Effectively Put Renewable Energy to Work, notes that  just over 1 TW of utility-scale, electric generation capacity is renewable (22%), while two-thirds of our generation capacity is fossil-based. To replace this capacity by 2050, we’ll need deploy about 30 GW a year of renewable energy.

Previously Posted: 2020 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook, Deloitte
The prospects for short-term solar and wind energy growth appear favorable, with about 96.6 percent of net new generation capacity additions (~74 GW) expected to come from these two resources in 2020. With several states increasing their renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in 2019, the industry will likely see mandatory RPS-driven procurement growth through the mid-2020s, while voluntary demand will continue to hit new levels. As of late 2019, at least 10 utilities have announced 100 percent decarbonization goals, and we’ll be watching for that list to grow in 2020.

ENERGY STORAGE

What Would It Take for the US to Become an Energy Storage Manufacturing Powerhouse?, Greentech Media. After “missed opportunity” in solar, Trump administration wants a domestic supply chain for energy storage. Is that realistic?

MORE NATIONAL NEWS

 JLC Infrastructure acquires and rebrands Greenskies Renewable Energy, Solar Power World
Greenskies Renewable Energy, a developer of commercial and industrial solar power facilities, has successfully completed a transaction that brings JLC Infrastructure in to accelerate the platform’s expansion in the high-growth C&I and municipal sectors. The Greenskies team has delivered over 350 MW of rooftop, carport and ground-mount solar projects, ranging in size from 100 kW to over 80 MW, in 19 states across the United States. Customers include large retailers, technology companies, municipalities, schools, universities and electric utilities.

NATIONAL LAW REVIEW SERIES

2020 Renewable Energy Outlook: Strategies to Elicit Community Support, by Alex Garel-Frantzen,
Amy Antoniolli, Brent Cooper

Even though communities are likely to reap many benefits from proposed renewable energy projects, local opposition can delay – or altogether thwart – the progress of renewable energy projects. Most renewable energy projects require some level of zoning or permit approvals to proceed, and garnering support is proving to be especially difficult. This final post of our three-part series on the 2020 renewable energy outlook (read the first post here and the second post here) examines how local opposition can form and what utilities can do to gain a community’s backing and trust. 

Five 2020 Energy Predictions: Solar Surge, Coal Crash, Gas Exorcism, Clean Energy Incentives, Public Mobilization

Forbes Contributor Silvio Marcacci
Energy Innovation’s Communications Director

2019 may have been the year clean energy irreversibly turned a corner toward dominance in the United States. After all, who could have foreseen last January that America would realize existing coal can’t compete against new renewables, see new solar-plus-storage beat new natural gas generation on price, have 13 states and territories committed to 100% clean electricity, or envision a path to nationwide net zero emissions?

So what will 2020 hold? Increasingly ambitious state policy combined with fast-falling technology prices could mean record renewable energy installations. Expanding efforts to decarbonize U.S. power supplies and buildings could shutter fossil fuel infrastructure faster than ever. Five leading energy and climate policy experts shared their predictions for the year and decade ahead with Energy Innovation Communications Director Silvio Marcacci. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

RENEWABLE ENERGY & WILDLIFE 

EV NEWS

8 electric truck and van companies to watch in 2020, by contributor Shane Downing, GreenBiz
In recent months, we’ve shone attention on companies racing to bring electric aviation to the skies in the coming decades. Now, it’s time to spotlight startups and automotive giants working to electrify dirty delivery and distribution trucks in the coming years.

NEW GREEN BIZ REPORT

The State of Green Business, 2020, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group
Today, we publish our 13th annual State of Green Business report, examining the key trends and metrics about corporate sustainability: how, and how well, companies are making progress in assessing and minimizing their impacts and embracing a range of strategies that move them forward in significant ways. It’s our annual report card on progress by the world’s largest companies: the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the United States and the 1,200 largest in the world. It’s a free download. The report was produced in partnership with Trucost, part of financial information and analytics giant S&P Global.

Renewable advocates highlight ‘most effective’ path to net-zero emissions as House releases clean energy proposal

By Matthew Bandyk, Utility Dive

A combination of a federal clean energy standard, a technology-neutral tax credit, a carbon pricing approach and transmission regulation reforms is the “most effective scenario” in which the U.S. achieves dramatic greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the middle of the century, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) said in a report released Thursday as House Democrats prepare a sweeping piece of legislation intended to achieve nationwide net-zero emissions by 2050.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee released a framework on Wednesday laying out the major provisions of the CLEAN Future Act, a planned bill that would combine a federal Clean Electricity Standard with measures like energy efficiency targets for buildings, a national climate bank proposal and incentives for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Flickr; Tim Evanson

More On The CLEAN Future Act: New Jersey Congressman announces CLEAN Future Act, Renewable Energy Magazine

CONSERVATIVE ENERGY NETWORK SURVEY

Survey Says Clean Energy Policy Is Important Across Party Lines, CleanTechnica
“This survey demonstrates that there is strong support for progress in clean energy policy across the nation—and significantly among conservatives as well,” said Mark Pischea, president and CEO of CEN. “

FEATURED PODCASTS

RESEARCH

Our Most-Read Research Spotlights From 2019, Greentech Media
The top GTM stories that drew from Wood Mackenzie research.

GTM WEBINARS

Two upcoming Greentech Media research webinars: An Accelerated View of the Energy Transition, January 14 and A New Chapter for the North American Wind Market, January 30.

TRI-STATE

Tri-State to shut New Mexico, Colorado coal plants by 2030, but move may not satisfy unhappy members, Utility Dive. The G&T utility will close the Escalante Station coal plant near Prewitt, N.M., by end of 2020, and the Craig Station plant and associated Colowyo Mine in northwest Colorado by 2030. But it is not clear the announcement will quell a rebellion among some Tri-State’s members who want lower rates and the ability to develop their own local renewable power. According to the Sierra Club, Tri-State charges its 43 co-ops in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Nebraska rates that are approximately 20% above average.

ON-FARM SOLAR

On-Farm Solar Grows as Farmers See Economic Rewards—and Risks, Civil Eats
From struggling dairy operations to massive grain operations, farms are starting to see the light as on-farm solar proves to be an important income stream.

STORAGE

ORNL Researchers Create Geothermal Energy Storage System, Renewable Energy Magazine
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers created a geothermal energy storage system that could reduce peak electricity demand up to 37 percent in homes while helping balance grid operations.

DOE’S ENERGY STORAGE GRAND CHALLENGE

DOE unveils plan to make US global storage leader by 2030, reduce foreign dependence, Utility Dive

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Solar Industry Vows to Lead Power Generation in the 2020s

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When energy and climate analysts look back on the 2020s, they will see a transformed energy landscape dominated by new solar energy generation, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in recognition of the start of the Solar+ Decade. “The 2010s were filled with more highs than lows, and the solar industry is in a strong position to become the leading source of new energy generation this decade,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Working in collaboration with other clean energy technologies, including storage, solar will lead a clean energy economic boom while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Continue reading here.

Learn more about the Solar+ Decade: www.seia.org/solar-decade
Read the roadmap that will get us there: www.seia.org/roadmap

About SEIA
Celebrating its 46th anniversary in 2020, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NEW REPORT

Utility-Scale Solar: Empirical Trends in Project Technology, Cost, Performance, and PPA Pricing in the United States – 2019 Edition, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The utility-scale solar sector has led the overall U.S. solar market in terms of installed capacity since 2012. In 2018, the utility-scale sector accounted for nearly 60% of all new solar capacity, and is expected to maintain its market-leading position for at least another six years. More than three-quarters of all states, representing all regions of the country, are now home to one or more utility-scale solar projects. This report—the seventh in an ongoing annual series—provides in-depth data-driven analysis of the utility-scale solar project fleet in the United States.

Nebraska’s largest solar power project comes into clearer focus with OPPD bid request

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

The most solar power in state history should flow into the electrical outlets of eastern Nebraska homes and businesses by 2024. That’s when the Omaha Public Power District aims to finish Nebraska’s largest solar power project, building it in or near the 13 counties OPPD serves. The new solar farms could be located in more than one site. OPPD management is soliciting bids through mid-January to add OPPD’s first utility-scale solar power, producing 400 megawatts to 600 megawatts of electricity. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: American Public Power Association

More Nebraska News

Senior management promotions announced by NPPD, News Release

Previously Posted

Also In The News

Farm State Voters See Agriculture at Risk from Climate Change, New Poll Shows

Union of Concerned Scientists News Release

Voters across the political spectrum in five heavily agricultural states—including three states that may determine who wins the 2020 presidential election—see extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, as a significant threat to farming. Moreover, majorities in each state say they would be more likely to back a 2020 presidential candidate who proposes ways to help farmers and communities cope by building healthy, living soil. That’s according to a new poll conducted by Iowa-based RABA Research on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Read more here.

Infographic: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Previously Posted

Nebraska Resources

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243 to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

National / International Resources

Burping Cows Get the Green Light to Join Carbon-Offset Market

By Agnieszka de Sousa and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg
Reprinted In Today’s Omaha World-Herald

A garlic and citrus feed supplement that lowers the greenhouse gases burped out by cows is giving farmers the chance to become global carbon traders. Verra, the largest program for voluntary carbon-offset credits, has approved a method to reduce livestock emissions that was developed by Swiss agritech company Mootral. That means farmers using such feed supplements will be able to sell greenhouse-gas credits in the carbon-offset market. The global voluntary offset market was worth $296 million last year, 50% more than two years, according to researcher Ecosystem Marketplace. Continue reading here.

Mootral Website

Among NASA Resources: A Less Frequently Asked Question About Climate Change:
Which is a bigger methane source: cow belching or cow flatulence?

Additional Recommended Reading
Farmers eye opportunities for commercial solar farms, KMA Land
Economic return two or three times that of corn or beans. Guaranteed income for decades. No work required. That may sound too good to be true. But for some landowners in the Corn Belt, it’s reality. A growing number of them are converting parts of their grain farms into solar farms. 
Commercial solar fields could someday be as common a sight as grain bins. And while most incorporate only a few acres, some are massive. A site under construction in Wisconsin will cover 3,000 acres, the largest in the Midwest, according to Brian Ross, senior program director at the Minnesota-based Great Plains Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes renewable energy.

U.S. Solar Market and 15 States See Best Quarter Ever for Residential Solar

Solar Energy Industries News Release

The U.S. residential solar market reached record highs in the third quarter of 2019 with 712 megawatts of solar installed, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The U.S. solar market added 2.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics in the third quarter, swelling total U.S. solar capacity to 71.3 gigawatts. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading