GPI Staff Picks for Summer 2019: What We’re Reading, Listening To, and Watching
Jennifer Christensen, Great Plains Institute
- Aug 16, 2019 9:00 am GMT
- 2251 views
From podcasts to the latest analysis, you can check out what we’re reading, listening to, and watching in this regular series (view previous GPI staff picks).
GTM’s Interchange podcast dives into the discussion around whether curtailment of wind and solar is good or bad for the energy system—and its potential role in achieving a decarbonized energy system. As we’ve discussed as part of our work in the multi-partner Minnesota Solar Pathways project (the project’s findings are referenced in the podcast), it can actually make more economic sense to build renewable production capacity on a scale that meets our energy needs, regardless of whether or not that means curtailing production (i.e., not dispatching the capacity) during peak availability of solar and wind resources. While there has been a pervasive concern that curtailment is wasteful, recent analysis challenges this assumption and has sparked a paradigm shift on renewable energy deployment. Check out the podcast to hear Greentech Media’s Stephen Lacey and Energy Impact Advisor’s Shayle Kann discuss their perspective, along a discussion of the arguments for and against this strategy.
- Brian Ross, Senior Program Director
As we work to increase the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), it’s important to know what makes consumers more likely to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase. A new study by J.D. Power in partnership with SurveyMonkey shows the need for more awareness about the financial and environmental benefits of EV ownership. While EVs can have a higher upfront cost, long-term costs are lower when factoring in cheaper fuel and lower maintenance. The survey found that 39 percent of respondents did not know that EVs are better for the environment (EVs reduce carbon emissions and dramatically reduce harmful smog-causing pollutants and vehicle soot). In terms of considering an EV purchase, most consumers surveyed cited availability of fast chargers and EV range as top concerns. This study underscores why our work on utility EV programs, partnerships with auto dealers and manufacturers, and regional work to expand fast charging infrastructure (including this recent paper), is critical to increasing consumer confidence in EVs. Check out Electrek’s coverage of the study and view the press release from J.D. Power.
- Katelyn Bocklund, Program Manager
In April 2019, students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and Fluence, a leading international energy storage company, released a whitepaper on the economic viability of solar + storage hybrid resources to provide mid-merit, load following services in wholesale electricity markets across much of the United States. The authors define “mid-merit” as the behavior typically seen by combined-cycle natural gas generators that ramp up and down throughout the day as load changes on the grid, as opposed to baseload plants that run near full capacity most of the year, or peaker plants which turn on infrequently. This is an important use case to understand because it widely believed these are the power plants that will be used to ramp and up down to balance the grid as renewables make up a larger share of the generation mix. However, the authors abstract this plant-specific attribute into the “job” it does for the grid to test if solar+storage can meet that need and at a cost competitive with natural gas combined cycle units. The results are somewhat surprising, particularly in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator region, and can help inform resource planning decisions for utilities and their regulators.
- Matt Prorok, Senior Policy Manager
Erin Burns of Carbon 180 shares with Nori’s Ross Kenyon why the newly introduced Fossil Energy Research and Development Act is important for supporting carbon capture, including how the bill will help expand carbon capture to natural gas plants and the industrial sector (such as steel and cement production that lack options for carbon reductions); establish the first-ever carbon removal program at the US Department of Energy; and increase funding to scale up work on carbon tech at the department. Erin describes the role of federal research in technology development and how it can help technologies get beyond the “valley of death” to commercial-scale. She also observes how the conversation in Congress on carbon capture has evolved to include a broader range of applications. You can learn more in Erin’s recent testimony to Congress in support of the Fossil Energy Research and Development Act, which provides detail on why Carbon 180 supports the legislation. Note: Carbon 180 is a member of the Carbon Capture Coalition, which also supports the legislation and is co-convened by GPI.
- Jennifer Christensen, Managing Editor and Senior Writer
The latest global status report from the IEA underscores the urgent need to speed up and bring to scale the technologies we have at hand to decarbonize our energy system, such as energy efficiency, renewables, transportation electrification, and carbon capture. The IEA reports that “Global energy consumption in 2018 increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world.” They also point out that as this increase in demand occurred, low carbon options were unavailable at a sufficient scale and global emissions levels rose to a historic level. While there are a growing number of companies, state and local governments, and utilities in the US backing zero-carbon energy goals, this report is yet another data point showing the imperative to scale up our efforts.
- Dane McFarlane, Director of Research
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