FERC Order May Undermine Renewables, Energy Storage in New York’s Capacity Markets

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected the latest proposal from New York's grid operator to allow renewable energy and batteries to compete against fossil fuels in its wholesale capacity market. That may give the state's regulators and policymakers more reason to consider alternatives to federally regulated energy markets. In a Friday order, FERC’s Republican majority denied grid operator NYISO’s proposal to restructure what it terms its “buyer-side market power mitigation rules” to allow wind, solar, batteries and other carbon-free resources to compete against

Terabase Raises $6M Series A to Lower Cost of Utility-Scale Solar

A year after launching, solar software startup Terabase Energy has raised $6 million to keep growing its team and services. The Berkeley-based company emerged when SunPower wound down its project development business. Several former SunPower employees built a software tool to manage costs at the kinds of massive solar plants they used to develop: everything from site selection and layout to shipping logistics for millions of panels and the movements of laborers onsite. The ultimate goal is to find enough incremental cost savings across the board to bring the price of solar below one cent per kilowatt-hour in the next five years, said co-founder and CEO Matt Campbell. That would unlock terawatts

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #35, 2020

121 Articles Physical science of global warming & effects Linearity of outgoing longwave radiation: From an atmospheric column to global climate models Observations of global warming & effects Antarctic Bottom Water Warming in the Brazil Basin: 1990s through 2020, from WOCE to Deep Argo Rapid worldwide growth of glacial lakes since 1990 Ice-sheet losses track high-end sea-level rise projections Trends and spatial variation in rain-on-snow events

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #36, 2020

Highlighted paper: Heat stored in the Earth system: where does the energy go? A deep roster of familiar names in climate research headed by Karina von Schuckmann have just published an updated and for the first time comprehensive accounting of energy being stored in the Earth system due to radiative imbalance caused by greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by “us truly.” This is summarized as a single number called “Earth Energy Imbalance” (EEI), at slightly less than 0.5 Watts per square meter of Earth’s surface. When penciled out it’s an extremely large amount of energy

Climate Sensitivity: A new assessment

Not small enough to ignore, nor big enough to despair. There is a new review paper on climate sensitivity published today (Sherwood et al., 2020 (preprint) that is the most thorough and coherent picture of what we can infer about the sensitivity of climate to increasing CO2. The paper is exhaustive (and exhausting – coming in at 166 preprint pages!) and concludes that equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely between 2.3 and 4.5 K, and very likely to be between 2.0 and 5.7 K. For those looking for some context

Denial and Alarmism in the Near-Term Extinction and Collapse Debate

Guest article by Alastair McIntosh,  honorary professor in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. This is an excerpt from his new book, Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being Mostly, we only know what we think we know about climate science because of the climate science. I have had many run-ins with denialists, contrarians or climate change dismissives as they are variously called. Over the past two years especially, concern has also moved to the other end of the spectrum, to alarmism. Both ends, while the latter has been more thinly tapered, can represent forms of denial. In this

FERC Unanimously Dismisses Effort to Undermine Solar Net Metering

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday unanimously rejected a plea to declare all state solar net-metering policies illegal, a victory for solar industry groups and state policymakers. All four FERC commissioners voted to dismiss the April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), which argued that FERC, not states, should have jurisdiction over sales of electricity from customer-sited generators like rooftop solar. “We find that the petition does not identify a specific controversy or harm that the commission should address in a declaratory order,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in Thursday’s FERC open meeting. NERA, a New Hampshire-based 501

FERC’s New PURPA Rule Undermines Clean Energy Projects, Advocates Say

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has changed the rules for a federal law that allows independent energy projects to secure utility contracts for their power. Utility groups say the changes will reduce costs for customers, but clean-energy groups and independent power developers say they’ll stifle open competition. FERC’s new rule for the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which closely matches its proposal from last year, passed by a 3-1 vote Thursday over the objections of the commission’s sole Democrat, Richard Glick. In FERC’s Thursday meeting, Chairman Neil Chatterjee said the new rule represents a “wide-ranging and comprehensive set of reforms” to how the 1978 federal

2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #28

Story of the Week… Toon of the Week… Climate Feedback Article Review… Coming Soon on SkS… Climate Feedback Claim Review… SkS Week in Review… Poster of the Week… Story of the Week… Global temperatures could exceed crucial 1.5 C target in the next five years In this aerial view melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. In 2020, the Arctic is likely

Saharan dust cloud was most intense in decades, and more, though milder, are coming

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters The massive dust storm that formed over the Sahara Desert in mid-June invaded the southeastern U.S. June 25-28, bringing dangerous levels of air pollution, low visibility, and colorful sunsets. The air pollution event over parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast, composed of fine particulate pollution (PM2.5, particles less than 2.5 microns or 0.0001 inch in diameter) and PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in diameter) was one of the most widespread and intense observed in recent decades. According to FEMA meteorologist Michael Lowry, the intensity of the dust outbreak over the tropical Atlantic was by far the most extreme since the most detailed, continuous record of

Sunrun Buying Vivint: Unpacking the Biggest Distributed Solar Deal in History

Earlier this month, Sunrun, the largest residential solar company in the U.S., declared its intent to acquire Vivint Solar, the second largest installer. It’s an all-stock transaction that would value the combined entity at over $9 billion. It's a big deal — literally. The enterprise value attached to Vivint is $3.2 billion, which makes it the largest single transaction in the history of the distributed energy market. It’s also a big deal because of what it says about the state and future of distributed

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #27, 2020

79 Articles Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects Six hundred years of South American tree rings reveal an increase in severe hydroclimatic events since mid-20th century (open access) Late summer temperature variability for the Southern Rocky Mountains (USA) since 1735 CE: applying blue light intensity to low-latitude Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm Climate change impacts on the atmospheric circulation, ocean, and fisheries in the southwest South Atlantic Ocean: a review Occurrence and drivers of wintertime temperature extremes in Northern Europe during 1979–2016 (open access) Human influence on joint changes in temperature, rainfall and continental aridity

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #28, 2020

121 Articles Physical science of global warming & effects Aerosols enhance cloud lifetime and brightness along the stratus-to-cumulus transition (open access) The nature of ice-nucleating particles affects the radiative properties of tropical convective cloud systems (open access) Importance of boundary processes for heat uptake in the Subpolar North Atlantic Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects NOAA: 2019 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding with a 2020 Outlook (PDF) Observational evidence for a stability Iris effect in the Tropics Warming trends increasingly dominate global

Sensitive but unclassified: Part II

The discussion and analysis of the latest round of climate models continues – but not always sensibly. In a previous post, I discussed the preliminary results from the ongoing CMIP6 exercise – an international, multi-institutional, coordinated and massive suite of climate model simulations – and noted that they exhibited a wider range of equilibrium climate

Shellenberger’s op-ad

Guest commentary by Michael Tobis This is a deep dive into the form and substance of Michael Shellenberger’s promotion for his new book “Apocalypse Never”. Shorter version? It should be read as a sales pitch to a certain demographic rather than a genuine apology. Michael Shellenberger appears to have a talent for self-promotion. His book, provocatively entitled “Apocalypse Never” appears to be garnering considerable attention. What does he mean by that title? Does it mean we should do whatever we can to avoid an apocalypse? Does it mean that no apocalypse is possible in the

Oregon’s PacWave Aims to Jump-Start US Marine Energy Market

The open ocean is an unforgiving judge of engineering prowess. Salty seawater, gale-force winds and relentless, punishing waves resist entrepreneurs’ determination to install power-generating devices in the water. The scale of that challenge is reflected in the marine energy industry's poor track record to date. Offshore wind turbines operate in harsh conditions, but they do so largely above the waterline. Marine energy devices, on the other hand, are exposed to the full force of the ocean’s ferocity by floating atop or below the waves. At the end of 2019, there were just 531 megawatts of wave, tidal and other marine energy technologies installed globally, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Overcoming Forecast Uncertainties for Better DER Planning

Forecasting load growth and planning the utility investments necessary to handle changing electricity demand used to be a straightforward exercise. Utility planners knew that customers in their service territory more or less shared the same load pattern. The only real wrinkles planners had to navigate as they considered grid upgrades were entirely new loads — like from a new subdivision — or widespread embrace of technologies like LED lighting that reduce demand. The rapid influx of distributed energy resources

Coronavirus pandemic leads to profound cutbacks in fossil fuel use

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk A banner on the International Energy Agency website spells it out in bold font: “The global oil industry is experiencing a shock like no other in its history.” As the response to the coronavirus pandemic upends the lives of billions of people, the world’s thirst for oil is undergoing

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #22, 2020

74 Articles Physical science of global warming & effects Surface-Energy-Balance Closure over Land: A Review (open access) Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects Human influence has intensified extreme precipitation in North America (open access) Observation-derived ice growth curves show patterns and trends in maximum ice thickness and safe travel duration of Alaskan lakes and rivers Stronger Global Warming on Nonrainy Days in Observations From China Decreases in days with sudden day-to-day temperature change in the warming world Assessment of changes in climate extremes of temperature and precipitation over Iran Impact of frozen soil changes on vegetation phenology in the source region of the Yellow River from 2003 to 2015 Modeling & simulation of

Residential Demand Response to Play Key Role Managing US Load This Summer

Heading into summer 2020, looming uncertainty about electricity demand makes flexibility more vital than ever in the United States. In particular, residential demand response faces more pressure than usual as many people continue to work from home over the next few months. Since the economy’s reopening will be gradual, grid operators need not be too concerned that system peak demand will make demand response events necessary. However, some residential-only distribution feeders may face increasing pressure as air conditioning load rises. Already, some vendors providing customer engagement, analytics and demand response services for residential programs are

With the Country Distracted, Trump’s Deregulation Push Accelerates

While the country is distracted by infection rates, deaths and protests, what else have we been missing? This week on The Energy Gang, we peek out from behind the quarantine curtain to see what the Trump administration has been up to on the energy front. The Trump administration has declared a national emergency over cyber

EGU2020 – Sharing Geoscience Online – Citizens Science Session

Due to the Corona pandemic and subsequent efforts to slow its spread, this year’s General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) with around 16,000 participants obviously couldn’t take place in Vienna, Austria. As already explained in the initial blog post published a few weeks ago, the organizers decided to still have the conference but to move it almost comletely online – not a simple task to do within just a few weeks and with around 700 sessions and 18,000 submitted abstracts in the program! On

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #18, 2020

55 Articles Physical science of global warming & effects How aerosols and greenhouse gases influence the diurnal temperature range (open access) Why is the Mediterranean a Climate Change Hotspot? Parsing complex terrain controls on mountain glacier response to climate forcing Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects Secular change in atmospheric Ar/N2 and its implications for ocean heat uptake and Brewer-Dobson circulation (open access) A multi-century, tree-ring-derived perspective of the North Cascades (USA) 2014–2016 snow drought Hazards in the Himalayas (open access) Continuity of the Mass Loss of the World’s Glaciers and Ice Caps