Tag Archives: stranded assets

Keystone XL developer pushes back construction date in Montana

By Jay Kohn, KTVQ

A TC Energy spokeswoman told MTN News Wednesday that construction on the pipeline crossing between the United States and Canada, did not get underway this morning as was previously anticipated. Spokeswoman Sara Rabern described the situation as “fluid”. On Tuesday, TC Energy announced the Keystone Pipeline project has new life – thanks to a $1 billion investment from the government of Alberta that will fund the project for the next year. The pipelines would transfer oil from the tar sands of Alberta to an existing line in Nebraska. The project has multiple ongoing challenges in federal court. Read more here.

Previously Posted News Stories & Resources: 

 TAR SANDS’ PRICE

U.S. Coal Bankruptcies Reveal The Future Of Alberta Tar Sands, Forbes
With oil demand softening, only the most efficient oil producers will survive. By some estimates, “the price of oil could permanently plummet to $25 a barrel by the mid-2020s. Only the cheapest oil in places like Saudi Arabia could be economically produced. Canada’s oil sands, where most projects need an oil price of $60 to $80 a barrel just to break even, would cease to make financial sense.” 

STRANDED ASSETS

  • “Stranded assets” are referenced in the above article. What are they?
    According to the Carbon Tracker InitiativeStranded assets are now generally accepted to be fossil fuel supply and generation resources which, at some time prior to the end of their economic life (as assumed at the investment decision point), are no longer able to earn an economic return (i.e. meet the company’s internal rate of return), as a result of changes associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • The growing concern over stranded assets, GreenBiz

FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES’ ENERGY TRANSITION

Thriving in a low carbon future: M&A and the new energy economy, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Mary Anne Sullivan, Sarah Shaw and Alex Harrison, Partners at Hogan Lovells. Traditional oil and gas companies and utilities want to ride the wave of new technologies that can preserve their market position, even as old markets are redefined. Many companies have a combination of these motives. One particular trend we are witnessing in this sector is traditional oil and gas and utilities companies moving into new areas, principally renewable energy, electric vehicles and storage.

NEBRASKA’S ENERGY TRANSITION / LOCAL LEADERSHIP

SECURITIZATION 

Securitization laws are easing the transition from coal and other fossil fuels in the following states:

These States Are Winning on Clean Energy

By Robert Harding and Amanda Levin, Natural Resources Defense Council

To take on the climate crisis, the United States needs to build a lot of renewable energy, and fast. While the power sector—which accounts for 28 percent of the nation’s climate pollution—has been getting cleaner every year as renewable energy becomes the cheapest form of new electricity, new data shows some states are moving faster than others.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) power sector data released last week offers the first official state-by-state look at 2019—what was built last year, what was closed, and what it means for our nation’s power mix and emissions. With some politicians promising radically different futures for the country—from a coal-powered renaissance to a 100 percent clean futureEIA’s new release shines a light on how these futures stack up relative to today. Continue reading here.

Related Reading 

Inside Clean Energy: An Energy Snapshot in 5 Charts, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News
New data from the Energy Information Administration show coal tanking, solar surging, wind growing fast and electricity usage remaining stable.

Nebraska Wind Energy Information Sources 

Additional Recommended Reading 

Solar panels gaining popularity in Lincoln, 1011 NOW
LES says that solar energy use in Lincoln doesn’t stack up to bigger coastal cities but we are using it more than other Midwest cities. “Compared to other states in our region the number of systems is pretty good,” said Marc Shkolnick the manager of energy services with LES said.

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Business and residential solar projects qualify for the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020. Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

 

 

 

 

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

LES Solar Incentive
Additionally, LES customers may qualify for a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the system size and primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dual axis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.

Resource: Customer-Owned Generation, LES

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

As Xcel moves toward coal-free, will natural gas remain part of energy mix?

By Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio

“We’re concerned that natural gas plants that are being built today are very likely to be too expensive to make sense to operate before they’re even paid off,” said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, which advocates on behalf of electric ratepayers. Levenson-Falk pointed to a recent report from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute that found that 90 percent of the gas plants being built today will be uneconomical by 2035 — around the time Xcel’s proposed Becker plant would likely be in operation. The company’s plans say it would build the new natural gas plant in the mid-2020s. Read more here.

NON-WIRES ALTERNATIVES

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GLOBAL DIVESTMENT / REINVESTMENT 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Photo Credit: Xcel Energy

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. 

A banner year for advancing non-battery storage

By William Driscoll, PV Magazine International

This has been a breakthrough year for non-battery storage, with key advances in pumped hydro, power-to-gas, and thermal storage technologies. Many industry players are moving beyond pilot projects to contracted projects, which could lead to increased scale and lower costs. Last July, for example, Highview Power announced a contract with Nebraska-based Tenaska Power Services to help develop up to 4 GWh of cryogenic energy storage plants in the U.S. over a two-year period. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Highview Power Contracts with Tenaska Power Services for US Cryogenic Energy Storage Projects, Highview Power News Release. Highview Power, a global leader in long-duration energy storage solutions, has contracted Tenaska Power Services Co., the leading provider of energy management services to generation and demand-side customers in the U.S., to identify, model, optimize and provide energy management services for up to four giga-scale cryogenic energy storage plants in the United States over two years. The initial project is expected to be developed in the ERCOT market.

GWh-scale liquid-air battery offers storage at half cost of lithium, Recharge News
A UK technology company has unveiled a “cryogenic” energy storage system that it says can store gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Highview Power says its scaleable zero-emissions CRYOBattery technology, which uses liquid air as its storage medium, could potentially replace natural-gas peaker plants that help to balance the grid. A 10-hour, 200MW/1.2GWh system offers a levelized cost of storage of $140/MWh, the company says. By comparison, analyst Lazard puts the price of a similar lithium-ion gas-peaker replacement facility at $285-$581 per MWh.

More Highview Power News Releases

About Highview Power

Highview Power is a designer and developer of the CRYOBattery™, a proprietary cryogenic energy storage system that delivers reliable and cost-effective long-duration energy storage to enable a 100 percent renewable energy future. Its proprietary technology uses liquid air as the storage medium and can deliver anywhere from 25 MW/100 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy and has a lifespan of 30 to 40 years. 

Watch a brief video here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Fossil fuel plant in England will get 250MWh liquid air energy storage makeover from Highview Power, Energy Storage News. The project is planned as the first of five of the same size to be developed in the UK by Highview, and [company CEO Javier] Cavada said the choice to replace a fossil fuel plant site on the grid was instrumental. “We will be using the same connection and the same electrical infrastructure [as the thermal plant], so there is no need to make [new] transmission lines. So where we are they are decommissioning a fossil fuel plant, we will use the same point of [grid] connection for the cryobattery.”

New RMI Report

Massive Investment is Accelerating the Era of Clean Electrification, Rocky Mountain Institute Blog
RMI’s latest report, Breakthrough Batteries: Powering the Era of Clean Electrification, shows that cost and performance improvements are quickly outpacing forecasts, as increased demand for EVs, grid-tied storage, and other emerging applications creates positive feedback loops for further investment and research, setting the stage for mass adoption. Now, analysts expect the capital cost for new battery manufacturing capacity to drop by more than half from 2018 to 2023.

This momentum is opening new markets, pushing both lithium-ion (Li-ion) and other battery technologies across competitive thresholds for legacy technologies faster than anticipated. That’s important because, although Li-ion remains the leading battery technology, alternative battery technologies nearing commercial readiness will be key to accelerating and scaling climate-critical solutions. For example, alternatives to Li-ion are likely better suited for applications such as long-duration energy storage, heavy trucking, aviation, and EV fast-charging infrastructure.

Related Article

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas, Forbes

Op-ed: Natural gas vs. renewable energy — beware the latest gas industry talking points

Written by Derrick Z. Jackson, Publisher, Environmental Health News

Two groundbreaking reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that America has reached “a historic tipping point” where “combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects,” and will undercut the operating costs of existing gas plants within the next 10 to 20 years. Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that by 2030, “new wind and solar ultimately get cheaper than running existing coal or gas plants almost everywhere.”

An analysis by Lazard Asset Management found that the range of unsubsidized levelized costs of onshore wind and utility-scale solar to be below that of natural gas. The federal Energy Information Administration has estimated that by 2023, the levelized cost of producing power by onshore wind and solar, will be considerably cheaper than natural gas ($36.60, $37.60 and $40.20 per megawatt hour respectively for each energy source). Read the entire op-ed here.

Derrick Z. Jackson is on the advisory board of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate. He’s also a Union of Concerned Scientist Fellow in climate and energy. This post originally ran on the UCS Blog.

EV NEWS

Electric buses for mass transit seen as cost effective, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

OPPD proposes changes that focus on large-scale utility solar

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire

OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke said the new generation, the details of which would become clearer after requests for proposal are answered, is needed in light of a changing generation and customer landscape.

At their November meeting, the board could approve a final recommendation and authorize management to negotiate and enter into contracts. The stakeholder process, where customers can provide feedback on the proposal, will be open until Nov. 8 at oppdlistens.com.
Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing 

Previously Posted 

  • OPPD Laying The Groundwork For A Bright Energy Future, OPPD News Release, June 20, 2019
    Initiatives will include a long-term study to address the long-term balance of load generation, along with decarbonization options for the district’s generation mix. Vice President Mary Fisher spoke to the topic, noting that the energy generation landscape is changing rapidly. Fisher said the drivers are primarily improving renewable technology, and environmental considerations around carbon emissions and climate change, “something our customers clearly care about.”
  • With new board members, Omaha utility making moves toward low-carbon future, Midwest Energy News

Data on Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Renewable Energy Versus Fossil Fuels 

  • An introduction to the state of wind power in the U.S., by Philip Warburg, environmental lawyer and former president of the Conservation Law Foundation. Published by Yale Climate Connections. As a non-carbon-emitting technology, wind power has a big environmental advantage over its leading fossil fuel competitors. Onshore and offshore wind has a life cycle carbon footprint of 20 grams or less of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. The “cleanest” natural gas power plants – those that use combined cycle technology – produce more than 400 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. Supercritical coal plants – the least polluting in the industry – generate close to 800 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour.
  • Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Solar Photovoltaics, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Photovoltaic (PV) solar has a life cycle carbon footprint of 40 grams or less of COequivalent per kilowatt-hour.

Rocky Mountain Institute Study

Related News Story

  • The Stranded Asset Threat to Natural Gas, Greentech Media
    There are $70 billion worth of natural-gas-fired power plants planned in the U.S. through the mid-2020s. But a combination of wind, solar, batteries and demand-side management could threaten up to 90 percent of those investments. New modeling from the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that more than 60 gigawatts of new gas plants are already economically challenged by those technologies. And by the mid-2030s, existing gas plants will be under threat. How severe is the threat? Could we eventually see tens of gigawatts of stranded gas plants? RMI set out to answer that question in two reports on the economics of gas generation and gas pipelines. The tipping point is now, it concludes. 

What are “stranded assets?”

Stranded assets are now generally accepted to be fossil fuel supply and generation resources which, at some time prior to the end of their economic life (as assumed at the investment decision point), are no longer able to earn an economic return (i.e. meet the company’s internal rate of return), as a result of changes associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Source: Carbon Tracker Initiative

PSC rejects conflict-of-interest assertions, authorizes $500 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line

By Chris Hubbuch, Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin utility regulators granted final approval Thursday for a controversial power line while rebuffing conflict of interest charges from opponents of the nearly $500 million project. At a meeting interrupted by protesters, the Public Service Commission voted unanimously to authorize construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line between Dubuque, Iowa, and Middleton in a written order summarizing points the three commissioners agreed to during a hearing in August. Read more here.

Photo: NPPD Transmission Tower

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

PODCASTS

  • GreenBiz 350 Podcast – Episode 190: Ambition, angst and action at Climate Week, Danone CEO prioritizes biodiversity
  • The Stranded Asset Threat to Natural Gas, Greentech Media. This week on The Interchange podcast: Is natural gas the new coal? There are $70 billion worth of natural-gas-fired power plants planned in the U.S. through the mid-2020s. But a combination of wind, solar, batteries and demand-side management could threaten up to 90 percent of those investments.

ENERGY TRANSITION MARKET SECTOR 

The energy transition: A $4.3T, underfunded opportunity, contributed article by Kevin Stevens, partner at Intelis Capital, Utility Dive

For context, here are the sizes of popular, fast-growing sectors of technology that you might be familiar with:

Let that sink in, those are all exciting sectors in their own right and the energy transition is more than 14 times the largest one listed. Other than healthcare ($10.2 trillion), I can’t think of a larger sector opportunity.

ENERGY STORAGE

Oil and Gas Investor EnCap Muscles Into Energy Storage Business, Greentech Media
Former First Solar CEO Jim Hughes to help lead EnCap’s “energy transition” team, as it readies a push into the battery storage market. This could include large-scale solar-plus-storage projects of the kind that have been cropping up at increasingly competitive prices across the country’s key solar markets such as CaliforniaNevada and Arizona. It could also include pairing wind farms with batteries in key markets, although these are more challenging to finance, given the lack of a clear tax credit mechanism to include batteries with wind, as exists with the federal solar Investment Tax Credit.

Midlands Voices: Moving toward decarbonization

By David Holtzclaw, Omaha World-Herald

The writer, of Omaha, is president of Transduction Technologies, an engineering firm.

Recently, The World-Herald published a news article and editorial on the current decarbonization study by Omaha Public Power District to determine how soon, how reliable, how affordable and how close the utility can get to decarbonization in the next 30 years. Although informative, I believe the OPPD customer-owner would benefit from additional information regarding both OPPD and the state of the power sector.

It is often assumed that electricity produced by renewable energy is more expensive and less reliable than electricity produced by fossil fuels, i.e., coal or natural gas. Currently, the average price of wind power purchase agreements (contracts for developers to sell wind energy to utilities) is less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it far cheaper than coal, at 6 to 12.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, or natural gas, at 4.1 to 7.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Read more here.

OPPD’s Strategic Directives

OPPD News Releases

Consulting firm sees U.S. wind market adding 14.6 GW in 2020

By Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

The U.S. wind market will add 14.6 gigawatts of capacity in 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie’s latest North America wind power outlook. The record-setting mark underlines the strength of the 23 GW pipeline Wood Mackenzie has identified as currently under construction or contracted for commercial operation in 2020, the consulting firm said on Sept. 12. The phase out of the Production Tax Credit beginning in 2021 has developers rushing to complete projects in 2020, driving major bottlenecks in both logistics and interconnection queues, Wood Mackenzie said. Continue reading here.

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

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEW RMI REPORT

A New Economic Reality: Renewable Energy Is Now Cost-Competitive With New Gas, Solar Industry

The economics guiding U.S. investments in electricity generation have reached a historic tipping point: Combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects, claims new research from independent nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). According to an RMI report, The Growing Market for Clean Energy Portfolios, portfolios of these clean energy resources can provide the same energy and reliability services as traditional gas power plants; the difference is they cost less.

EV NEWS

Why building owners should take charge of EV adoption, GreenBiz
The electric vehicle revolution is well underway. According to Bloomberg NEF’s “Electric Vehicle Outlook 2019” report, United States-based EV sales will grow from 2 percent in 2019 to nearly 60 percent in 2040. And more electric cars were sold in the first half of 2018 than all of 2016. Unlike conventional vehicles that refuel only at gasoline stations, EVs charge at many locations, such as at home, at work or in public spaces. But what does EV growth mean for commercial building owners?

INSPIRING EXAMPLE: MIDWEST NET-ZERO ENERGY SCHOOL

Local school becomes only net zero school building in Midwest, WLWT

ENERGY GANG PODCAST

How America Thwarted a Giant ‘Extension Cord’ for Renewables, Greentech Media
Our guest this week is Russell Gold, author of a new book, “Superpower,” about wind energy pioneer Michael Skelly’s attempt to build one of the most ambitious energy infrastructure projects in recent history — and how he faced nearly every obstacle imaginable. What does Skelly’s journey tell us about America’s diminishing ability to do great things?

JOBS ANNOUNCEMENT

QuickBOLT is hiring salespeople in Midwest and East Coast markets, Solar Power World