To: The Impact Readers
So we worked through an interesting thought experiment this week and this newsletter is kinda inspired from that…
It was about the complexity of actions and how short term decision making can result in long term damages – even when it comes to making decisions that seem to only yield positive impact. Deep stuff…
Think about that, huh…
Now that you’re back here’s an awesome video of a fox playing in the snow.
In Your Inbox: What it’s going to take to decarbonize the grid; the impact of EVs on the electric grid; Ford’s 1,400 HP EV; Station A raises $3M to automate the discovery of carbon reducing strategies for entire cities; and more!
UC Berkeley and Gridlab have published a new report that challenges previous plans to decarbonize the grid. With the latest renewable energy and battery prices, the US can reach 90% clean electricity by 2035, compared to 2050, by installing 70 GW of new renewable energy infrastructure each year. If the accelerated timeline wasn’t already good enough, it also won’t cost consumers more money.
The report outlines a future where all coal plants are retired by 2035, as well as no new natural gas plants. Integrating battery storage with existing hydropower, nuclear, and natural gas will enable this transition. Energy from wind, solar, and batteries would provide 70% of annual generation, and hydropower and nuclear would provide the remaining 20%. As a result, electricity would be cheaper.
The current price of renewable energy and batteries will spur innovation in the sector. Innovation will leader to more efficiency and optimization of technology and resources. We are likely to see enhancements to the entire energy pipeline, from generation to distribution. So far in 2020, we have seen growth in battery storage, for instance Form Energy’s 150 MWh battery.
Now, before we celebrate, we must also be aware that policy is still needed to reach these goals. Energy Innovation published a piece that outlines these policies. A federal clean electricity standard followed by policy reforms would support the ambitious goals. If all goes according to plan, we would reduce economy-wide emissions by 27%. And the cherry on top of all of this is that we would see an increase of at least 500,000 jobs each year.
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1,400 Horse Power…STOCK…in a 4 door SUV 😃
Ford really did the trick this week with exciting car enthusiasts across the US in the new all electric Ford Mustang Mach E. As someone who loves American Muscle, I along with other enthusiasts were a bit thrown back when the mustang badge was going to be sported by a car that wasn’t a coupe that was a high horsepower beast.
Now keep in mind this was a pure marketing play by Ford’s performance division in seeing what they could extract out of an electric vehicle in terms of power. The version of this car that will actually be sold will only sport 459 Horsepower but still provide the speed to make you feel like you’re riding one of these unique performance models.
Here’s why we are excited
This year has all been about announcing brand new EV’s. All of the major car manufacturers have either released or plan to sell their own take on Electric Vehicles to take a piece of the now rapidly emerging EV market. Electric vehicles as a whole bring great potential to the market as a tool to help decarbonize the grid.
Speaking with utilities and electric retailers has shown us that beyond any new energy demand adding appliance – EVs are their biggest concerns. The heavy demand characteristics of these cars is a major concern to utilities across the nation.
Incentives Are Driving EV Adoption & Utilities Are Getting Nervous
Let’s take Germany for instance which in some cases has been uber aggressive in getting EVs on the road beyond taking a strong renewable posture. In some cases making EVs entirely free! Now this brings up a huge energy management problem. With most EVs coming with fast charging capabilities, allowing cars to recharge say 50 kWh in an hour for arguments sake…and then you add tens of thousands or even millions of these to the road…
How can a utility keep up with that demand while also introducing renewables into the grid?
Tesla and US based utilities are attempting to solve this through using EVs as energy storage for the grid and of course buffing Time of Use rates to incentivize charging at different times of the day or even later in the week.
Europe is already learning this mistake during Covid-19 and it didn’t even require everyone to own an EV. Grid flexibility is CRITICAL towards building a clean grid and to enable grid flexibility – infrastructure has to be rebuilt driving costs even higher for utilities….
However, until this core problem is addressed – people buying EVs might see large cost increases in the next few years to recharge as adoption starts to skyrocket without incentives…Fortunately we all have high horsepower cars on the horizon to make it fun while contemplating this question.
At this point you’ve probably heard that NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo sent out one of the largest solicitations for renewable energy within the state of NY. In turn setting the bar for what kind of actions need to be taken to address climate change across the US and abroad.
If you are interested in reading through the press release you can check it out here.
We wanted to dive into what the possible outcomes of a 4,000 MW renewables based power system means to the electric grid as a whole and how it could possibly be implemented to provide clean & resilient power to all residents across the state.
Installing more solar panels doesn’t directly mean a cleaner grid…
The typical response to “can’t use power at night” is well if we install big batteries along side large solar farms this problem is solved. It is…when costs for energy storage drop to the estimated rates 10 years out from now. Currently economies of scale and the demand for energy storage isn’t large enough for us to make an easy justification to include storage with every single solar farm.
There are even conversations to break up the patent monopoly on energy storage to help drive costs down faster than the currently expected rates.
The Solicitation Needs To Consider For Microgrids & DERs As A Whole
Fortunately NYSERDA & NYPA the two organizations that will likely execute on managing this solicitation have smart people within them. However, the challenges in finding land and driving local town/city support for more utility owned assets to popup in neighborhoods will be tough.
Towns in NY are quite progressive until the conversation shifts to “can we build a big solar farm or battery facility in your town”. While certain towns will be all ears due to the positive economic impact and job creation potential it will require a state wide effort of building local microgrids fitted with batteries and small solar farms to truly enable those 1,500 MW of land based renewable power to be useful.
Station A, a software platform that provides insights to make any building carbon-free, just closed their $3M Seed round investment. Investors included Powerhouse Ventures, SE Ventures, Renewal Funds, Southern Company, and Howard Wenger, the former President and CEO of SunPower Systems. Station A’s software estimates the potential amount of solar and energy storage that could be installed on-site at California’s commercial and industrial buildings.
Why does this matter?
Ravi Mikkelsen joins us to share how switching to the right bank can actually accelerate our move to sustainable energy & resources across the board.
You can get the full script and listen to the podcast on Youtube, Apple Podcasts and Spotify here. If you loved it please give us a subscribe and like on Youtube!
Writers: Swarnav S Pujari, Ian Sumner, Daniel Kriozere
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