Energy storage systems continue to grow in popularity as renewable energy sources like wind power are connected to the grid at an unprecedented rate. California alone plans to commission 1.3 gigawatts of storage by 2020, and similar trends are being seen globally. In Canada, the Government of Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan (“LTEP”) calls for a total of 50 MW of storage capacity. Although this may not seem like much in comparison, with Canada’s focus on energy policy, energy storage is expected to become critical to the success of policy goals affecting de-carbonization and enabling a true “Smart Grid.”
The government has threatened to halt subsidies for new offshore wind farms over the next four years unless the industry can slash the cost of new projects.Announcing details of the government’s energy policy “reset” this morning, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said her department would run three auctions over the course of this parliament that would allow low carbon technologies to compete for price support contracts. However, she warned there would be “no more blank cheques” for offshore wind farms, and that future auctions would depend on developers cutting costs. “Further support will be strictly conditional on the cost reductions we have seen already accelerating. The technology needs to move quickly to cost competitiveness,” she said.
California manufacturers produce more gross domestic product (GDP) for every dollar spent on electricity than manufacturers in any other state except Connecticut, according to Next 10’s California’s Manufacturing and Benefits of Energy Efficiency prepared by Collaborative Economics.
On Tuesday, just hours before the start of Earth Day, Congress showed there is bipartisan support for smart energy policy. By voice vote, the House of Representatives passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, which mandates energy efficiency improvements through stronger residential and commercial building codes and other means. The Senate passed the measure in March and it now goes to President Obama for his signature.Passing the bill is a promising sign, but it should be the beginning of a new congressional approach to clean energy, not a laurel upon which Congress can rest. A significant number of the world’s most respected economists believe that renewable energy will be one of the most dynamic and profitable sectors of the global economy in the next 100 years. Nations that provide either mandates or private-sector incentives to develop and commercialize renewable energy technologies through tax credits, loans and innovation funding will have a significant economic advantage over those that do not.
The United States needs to spend $2.1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize the electricity grid and prepare for more renewable energy, according to a report from the International Energy Agency.
While the country’s “energy policy landscape has fundamentally changed” since 2008, it still faces some serious barriers to reaching its carbon reduction and energy independence goals, according to the agency.
As the United States grapples with conflicting ideas about whether and to what extent man causes global climate change, the zealous movement to do away with using fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity and switch to “green” sources like wind and solar energy goes forward, full speed ahead.
Far ahead of the U.S. in this campaign are some nations in Europe that some policymakers tout as having adopted smart energy policy. They think the U.S. should follow the lead of countries like Germany and Spain and more heavily subsidize renewable energies like wind, solar, biomass, etc., and tax fossil fuel users more heavily.
Many national and state energy policy makers argue for a balanced portfolio of aggregate energy supply – commonly referred to as an “all of the above” strategy. So too does the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) in its Sept. 3 proposed decision on energy storage. Though it doesn’t use that term, the ruling takes an “all of the above” approach in 1) the types of storage technology considered to fulfill the mandates and 2) their application throughout the energy value chain.
Natural gas seems to invoke a win/win perspective as the solution to all problems in some discussions about energy policy and the best fuels for electricity generation and transportation. In these scenarios, the only downside is the pressure it puts on renewable energy technologies. Yes, natural gas is cleaner than coal. It exhausts about half the carbon dioxide or CO2produced by coal. It does not have a nasty byproduct called coal ash, which can have toxic consequences of its own – both environmentally and financially – as we lack good answers to disposal of its waste.
Progress aside, we still need a comprehensive national energy strategy insists the Business Roundtable (BRT), a group representing CEOs from major U.S. companies. BRT just released a report of its own – Taking Action on Energy: A CEO Vision for America’s Energy Future – which it says is the national energy strategy we need.
In the report, BRT CEOs call on Congress and the Obama Administration to adopt policies that will enhance U.S. self-sufficiency, boost economic growth and promote environmental stewardship.
Government agencies tasked with U.S. energy policy are “like an orchestra without a conductor,” says former North Dakota Senator Bryan Dorgan, now part of a panel of experts urging the second Obama administration to change the way it approaches energy.
Dorgan, a Democrat, is part of a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) energy project that’s hammering out policy recommendations for the second Obama administration and the incoming Congress. The recommendations are due to be finished right after the inauguration.