Have we hit an inflection point where each new wind or solar project is harder to build than the last? In August 2023, the Canadian province of Alberta imposed a regulatory moratorium on new grid-scale renewables, affecting 118 projects worth an estimated USD$25 Billion of investment. In December, the Osage Nation won a Federal ruling in Oklahoma that calls for the dismantling of an 84-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm for encro....
Since the Ford Model T started rolling off assembly lines in 1908, the internal combustion engine has been the cornerstone of mass-affordable automobiles. Our lives were changed forever. Today, we are in the midst of a new revolution. The transportation sector currently contributes approximately 30 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions. To combat this, several states are adopting regulations to phase out gasoline vehicles in favor of EV....
The criticality of offshore wind and the role it will play in helping achieve global net zero targets by 2050 cannot be underestimated. In 2020, global capacity was sitting at 30GW. Fast forward to 2050, and the generating capacity will have to make a colossal leap of 1,120GW if that target is to be met. There is worldwide appetite to satisfy this ambition for offshore wind capacity. By the end of this decade alone, it’s anticipated that mor....
In the world of zero greenhouse gas (GHG) fuels, hydrogen is tough to beat. Kermit the Frog once lamented, “It’s not easy being green”. If hydrogen could sing, that would be its refrain. When hydrogen burns, the only byproduct is water vapor. It sounds green, right? Unfortunately, we haven’t yet figured out an easy way to extract hydrogen from the natural environment. The primary means of making hydrogen affordably today involves fos....
DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) announced the company is seeking proposals for renewable energy projects totaling approximately 1,075 megawatts to support DTE Electric’s CleanVision Integrated Resource Plan (IRP); continued demand for the company’s MIGreenPower program; and Michigan’s new renewable energy standard of 60% by 2030. Each of these initiatives are prerequisites for DTE’s overarching carbon reduction goals.
To advance these decarbonization efforts, DTE is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for new wind and solar projects. Approximately 1,075 megawatts of projects are being requested to achieve commercial operation by March 31, 2027. Projects must be located in Michigan and interconnected to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator or distribution level transmission. Interested bidders should register their company information on the PowerAdvocate website and, once registered, can attend a virtual pre-RFP conference on March 5, 2024. Bids are due May 14, 2024, and the company anticipates executing contracts this fall.
“DTE is committed to transforming the way we generate energy while maintaining reliability and affordability for our customers. As a result, we continue to be the state’s leading producer of and investor in utility-scale renewable energy projects,” said Joseph Musallam, vice president, Renewable Sales and Project Development. “Our existing wind and solar parks are reducing Michigan’s carbon footprint while providing jobs, tax revenue and additional benefits to local communities across the state, and future developments will continue to grow our clean energy economy.”
DTE’s renewable energy portfolio currently includes 20 wind parks and 33 solar parks, which together generate enough clean energy to power more than 750,000 homes. The company plans to add 1,000 megawatts of new wind and solar each year starting in 2026. By 2042, DTE expects to have more than 15,000 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity, enough to power approximately 4 million homes.
DTE | dtecleanenergy.com
Fronius‘ newly introduced Repowering tool enables solar installers to offer their customers repowering options for their photovoltaic system, regardless of the inverter brand used in the original system. Repowering is usually a performance-related replacement of inverters that are out of warranty, but may also occur if an older inverter model is no longer available or spare parts do not exist. With Fronius Repowering, residential and commercial solar installers can:
”We are very pleased to announce that the Fronius Repowering tool is available in the United States. By offering this digital tool to PV installers free of charge, we’re helping them gain more business with compatible retrofit inverter replacement details,” says Richard Baldinger, Director of Sales & Marketing Business Unit Solar Energy at Fronius USA. “This gives PV installers looking for new revenue streams a great opportunity – especially in states like California, where many solar systems exist, and the number of new installations is currently going down,” adds Richard Baldinger.
Benefit as a homeowner or business by taking advantage of Repowering
Homeowners and businesses that have an existing PV system are finding value in upgrading to a new Fronius inverter that comes backed with a 10-year warranty and higher efficiency results. Not only do these new inverters provide the homeowner or business a peace of mind warranty, but they also gain an upgraded system with monitoring capabilities using state-of-the-art tools that may not have been available with their older or existing inverter, such as mobile apps.
Benefit as an installer with use of Repowering
With solar inverters being a critical component for system performance, installers can engage with their existing customer base, generating new business while keeping their customers’ satisfaction high. Furthermore, new revenue streams can be created by servicing orphaned systems, where the original installer or inverter brand no longer exists. This new revenue stream allows installers to offset decreasing revenues if they are experiencing a decline in new installations. The Fronius Repowering Tool makes it easier for solar installers to find the proper replacement inverter, no matter if the old inverter is from Fronius or another manufacturer.
Fronius | https://www.fronius.com/en/
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the Construction and Operations Plan for Equinor’s Empire Wind project, marking another significant milestone in advancing an important New York offshore wind project that will help deliver on both state and federal renewable energy ambitions.
With this key permitting action by BOEM secured, Empire Wind is on track to begin construction in its federal lease area off the southern coast of Long Island later this year. Already well advanced in planning and development, Empire Wind 1 could deliver first power to New Yorkers by 2026. In addition, construction to transform the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into a major hub for offshore wind could begin as early as this spring.
“We are ready to get to work,” said Molly Morris, President of Equinor Renewables Americas. “Today’s COP approval follows years of rigorous review and collaboration with BOEM and other federal agencies. Equinor is grateful for a shared commitment to achieving state and federal offshore wind ambitions and Empire Wind is one step closer to delivering renewable power to hundreds of thousands of New York homes.”
First submitted in 2020, the Empire Wind COP authorizes detailed plans for offshore and onshore construction and operations based on years of environmental reviews, input from outside experts, and extensive public feedback. BOEM’s announcement follows the November 2023 approval of Empire Wind’s federal Record of Decision.
Empire Wind has recently received several federal approvals. Last week, it received its Clean Air Act permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier this week, it received its approval from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Empire Wind 1 is currently bidding into New York’s fourth offshore wind solicitation.
Empire Wind | www.empirewind.com
Energy Vault Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: NRGV) (“Energy Vault” or the “Company”), a leader in sustainable grid-scale energy storage solutions, announced construction start of its previously announced deployment of a utility-scale green hydrogen plus battery ultra-long duration energy storage system (BH-ESS) with 293 megawatt-hours (MWh) of dispatchable carbon-free energy.
Rendering of the Calistoga Resiliency Center, a first-of-a-kind hybrid energy storage system coupling lithium-ion batteries with hydrogen fuel cells. (Photo: Business Wire)
Construction of the BH-ESS, which is being developed for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on less than one acre of land in the Northern California City of Calistoga, is expected to be completed by the end of Q2 2024. Upon completion, the BH-ESS, dubbed the Calistoga Resiliency Center, will be the first-of-its-kind and the largest utility-scale green hydrogen energy storage project in the United States. The battery portion of the system will be used to support grid forming and black start capabilities. The system will be prepared to power downtown Calistoga and the surrounding area for up to 48 hours during potential Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), which occur when the powerlines serving the surrounding area must be turned off for safety due to high wildfire risk. PG&E’s proposal for the system was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUP) in April 2023.
Energy Vault’s BH-ESS will replace the traditional mobile diesel generators currently used to energize PG&E’s Calistoga microgrid during PSPS events in the area. The project represents a major advance in community-scale microgrid development and a significant step toward realizing the CPUC’s vision of cleaner forms of microgrid generation.
“The timely start of construction is an important milestone in our partnership with PG&E to deliver this first of its kind microgrid solution. We greatly look forward to not only its delivery but most importantly to the sustainability benefits it will bring to the Calistoga community,” said Marco Terruzzin, Chief Commercial and Product Officer, Energy Vault. “Our partnership with California’s largest public utility is yet another example of the growing recognition that optimizing grid resiliency and economics toward achieving decarbonization goals requires innovation that leverages multiple technologies and a ‘fit-for-purpose’ customer-centric approach when designing energy storage solutions. The City of Calistoga and PG&E have been excellent partners for Energy Vault, and we are excited to bring this innovative project online in the coming months.”
“Deploying cost-effective, next-generation energy supply and long-term storage technologies is essential to ensuring grid reliability and to achieving PG&E’s goal of a net zero energy system by 2040,” said Mike Delaney, Vice President, Utility Partnerships and Innovation. “PG&E is developing a portfolio of promising new forms of electricity generation and storage technologies, and identifying the right applications that will support the further proliferation of these technologies at the lowest capital cost and highest-impact locations.”
The energy storage system will be owned, operated and maintained by Energy Vault while providing dispatchable power under a long-term tolling agreement with PG&E. The Company will leverage its VaultOS Energy Management System to control, manage and optimize the BH-ESS operations. The system has been developed under the umbrella of Energy Vault’s H-VAULT suite of hybrid configurations leveraging green hydrogen and batteries, to ensure continuity and resilience during PSPS events. By coupling the ultra-long duration capabilities of fuel cells using green hydrogen, and the fast response capabilities of B-VAULT™️ lithium-ion batteries, H-VAULT provides the clean, reliable, cost-effective back-up power that is critical to enable islanded microgrids during transmission outages.
Under the 10.5-year agreement, Energy Vault will provide “Distributed Generation-Enabled Microgrid Services” – a type of energy service that involves using grid-forming generation and storage resources, to provide energy, fault current contribution and to regulate voltage and frequency within the utility’s established parameters to enable the islanding of the Calistoga microgrid during PSPS outages. The solution is designed to operate during PSPS events, serving all the load within a safe-to-energize area in the City of Calistoga, including critical facilities such as fire and police stations, and shared services in the downtown and surrounding area.
Energy Vault | https://www.energyvault.com/
The American Clean Power Association (ACP) released the following statement from Anne Reynolds, ACP Vice President for Offshore Wind, after the Department of the Interior approved the Construction and Operations Plan for Equinor’s Empire Wind project in New York:
“This is a milestone for Empire Wind and domestic offshore wind as a whole. When it reaches construction, this project will, over two phases, create thousands of family-sustaining jobs and revitalize the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. This will be a great development for the New York regional economy and we look forward to the success of this project. We will continue to work closely with the Administration toward a secure, clean energy future.”
ACP | cleanpower.org
In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its approval of Empire Wind’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP), which authorizes construction and operation of the wind energy project offshore. This is the project’s final approval from BOEM, following the agency’s Record of Decision approving the project in November 2023.
“We are proud to announce BOEM’s final approval of the Empire Wind offshore wind project," said Director Elizabeth Klein. "This project represents a major milestone in our efforts to expand clean energy production and combat climate change. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to advancing offshore wind projects like Empire Wind to create jobs, drive economic growth, and cut harmful climate pollution."
The approved plan includes construction and operation of two offshore wind facilities, known as Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2. The lease area is located about 12 nautical miles (nm) south of Long Island, N.Y., and about 16.9 nm east of Long Branch, N.J. Together these projects would have a total capacity of 2,076 megawatts of clean, renewable energy that BOEM estimates could power more than 700,000 homes each year.
On Nov. 21, 2023, the Department of the Interior announced its approval of the Empire Wind offshore wind project, which is the sixth commercial-scale offshore wind project approved by the Biden-Harris administration. It is expected to generate significant economic benefits for New York and the surrounding region, including supporting over 830 jobs each year during the construction phase and about 300 jobs annually during the operations phase.
Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation's first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects. BOEM has held four offshore wind lease auctions, which have brought in almost $5.5 billion in high bids, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. BOEM has also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico, offshore Oregon and the Central Atlantic coast. The Department has taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain.
Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda are growing the American economy from the middle out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over half a trillion dollars in new private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good-paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat the climate crisis and make our nation more resilient.
BOEM | https://www.boem.gov/
Charge Robotics, the leading innovator in solar construction automation, announces successful deployment of Sunrise, its groundbreaking solar construction robotics system. Sunrise is the world’s ﬁrst fully automated solar construction system designed to assemble, quality control, and install solar tracking hardware.
The recent landmark deployment of Sunrise, in partnership with the nation’s leading solar EPC contractor and solar services provider SOLV Energy, signiﬁes a major leap in advancing utility-scale solar installations.
George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy, noted, "It’s clear that current solar installation methods can’t scale to transform the grid. We need new solutions and approaches to keep pace with rapidly growing demand."
Record growth in utility solar installations is expected in 2024, and to continue through 2030. Efforts to accelerate the transition to solar energy have repeatedly been impacted by labor shortages, creating a pressing need for more advanced installation technologies.
"We are impressed with Charge Robotics’ technology. It offers the potential to radically accelerate our business growth, deploy solar projects faster, and support our people with additional tools to do their work safely and efficiently," shared Hershman.
Charge Robotics’ solar robotics system Sunrise assists construction crews with solar hardware assembly, eliminating or reducing tedious, laborious or unsafe manual operations. Sunrise autonomously assembles parts into completed solar bays, conducts quality control using advanced computer vision, and performs ﬁeld installations.
Charge Robotics’ co-founder and CEO Banks Hunter expressed, “This deployment marks a major milestone for the Charge Robotics team and our technology. We’re excited to develop the world’s most advanced systems, accelerating our nation’s energy transition to renewables.”
“SOLV has proven themselves to be one of the most visionary leaders in the construction industry. We’re thrilled to continue building the future of the energy industry with such an excellent partner,” added Hunter.
To reach SEIA’s target of nearly 850GW solar energy by 2030, annual solar deployment must scale seven times that of 2020. Achieving this magnitude today is not feasible with current methods. Charge Robotics’ technology removes a key bottleneck in advancing the nation’s solar, driving cutting-edge solutions that will beneﬁt customers and industries worldwide. Charge Robotics is dedicated to innovating in the installation space to lead our world to a Net Zero future.
Charge Robotics | https://chargerobotics.com/
SOLV Energy | https://www.solvenergy.com/
Alternative Energies May 15, 2023
The United States is slow to anger, but relentlessly seeks victory once it enters a struggle, throwing all its resources into the conflict. “When we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support,” as former Secretary ....
Policymakers worldwide are committing to achieving 100 percent NetZero clean energy deployment by 2050 to avoid a global temperature rise of 1.5 °C. To meet this goal, there is an inherent need to expedite the transition to renewable, low emission energy sources through all means necessary. In recent years, environmental concerns and cost reduction tactics have catalyzed the clean energy sector’s rapid growth and acted as key drivers in the swift deployment of sustainable power generation.
Burning fossil fuel has been the most commonly used, cost-effective method for generating electricity and heat for most of human history but its negative and lasting environmental implications are proven, vast and increasingly palpable. The United Nations reports that fossil fuels currently account for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions while the World Health Organization’s COP24 Special Report indicates that the air pollution it creates has contributed to $2.9 trillion in health and economic-related costs.
As ambitious and complex as it may be, a global reduction of CO2 emitting resources and the shift towards 100 percent clean energy is imperative to decarbonizing the power sector and creating a sustainable future for our planet and society. As renewable energy costs have decreased and been utilized at scale, we’ve seen a shift in utility’s power generation mix, which has not only altered power provider’s approach to balancing energy supply and loads but also requires significant technological advancements in order to manage the grid’s stability, feasibility and emission profiles. It is estimated that nearly half the technologies needed to achieve NetZero by 2050 are in prototype phases, which means the other half are ready for deployment right now. One such tool is Automated Demand Response (Auto-DR).
Auto-DR Supports Sustainable Energy Conservation
As the demand for electricity increases, utility providers must generate and distribute more power, or alternatively, reduce energy consumption to prevent supply and demand issues—which is where Auto-DR comes into play. In its most basic form, Auto-DR serves as an energy management program offered by energy providers to incentivize energy conservation when the power supply is low.
Auto-DR is an opt-in program where energy users are compensated by utilities for minimizing power consumption during peak demand periods to avoid grid strain. Users can automatically curtail energy deployment when the grid is under duress and play a significant role in balancing power supply and demand while still maintaining their business operations. For example, a supermarket with an integrated Auto-Dr program can seamlessly reduce specified energy loads for a few hours without impacting food quality or customer comfort. When multiple buildings participate in an event at the same time, the combined energy reduction significantly contributes to stabilizing the grid and preventing blackouts.
In today’s market, there are many advanced Auto-DR programs available that allow for easy integration and cost-free participation across multiple industries. Modern Auto-DR programs enable users to deploy intelligent automation, connected through building control and power management systems, to curb energy loads, making it a cost-effective, flexible and easily implemented way to drive energy conservation. In effect, each participating facility becomes part of a distributed virtual power plant that providers leverage to offset energy supply and demand.
Auto-DR can also be applied by utilities to balance wind and solar production. If the power generated is less than expected, providers can trigger an Auto-DR event to help match the supply and demand to enable greater renewable energy penetration into the system. Customers maintain control of the event settings by determining when and how energy usage is curbed based on their operational needs, and in turn, support grid stability and gain access to financial compensation from their power provider.
Auto-DR’s Role in Creating a NetZero Future
Beyond stabilizing the grid, Auto-DR enables commercial and industrial businesses to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions and improve their bottom line—making it a win-win. Once a building’s energy loads are connected, users receive signals and have the ability to set triggers that automate the reduction of energy consumption when majority of the grid’s power is generated from non-renewables like gas or coal. These advanced Auto-DR offerings provide a seamless way to help curb fossil fuel usage and monitor the real-time carbon makeup of the grid. When CO2/MWh are high, the right Auto-Dr system can match clients’ flexible loads with intelligent automation, allowing them to avoid carbon-intensive energy use based on their own customized specifications.
For organizations, Auto-DR is an effective power reducer that can be leveraged to achieve internal and external regulatory compliance while also aiding in ESG initiatives by decreasing its carbon footprint. For example, a big box retailer or large grocery store that could curtail roughly 30 kW of HVAC or refrigeration load across 120 stores, 40 hours per year, would have avoided over 110,000 pounds for CO2 emissions, which equates to 21 cars off the road annually. In an age of highly conscious consumers that base much of their purchasing decisions on how an organization invests or supports environmental causes, customers expect a significant level of corporate responsibility and commitment to acting as environmental and community stewards. Auto-DR allows companies to meet and exceed customer expectations by seamlessly enabling greener and more environmentally sustainable business operations.
With Auto-DR, We Are One Step Closer to Reaching Future Global Renewable Energy Goals
Preserving finite resources and the planet for ourselves and for generations to come is something we have the ability to address and act on right now. The grid’s transition to lowering carbon emissions and deploying cleaner energy alternatives is a massive undertaking that requires innovation, critical changes in consumption and a continual shift in how we utilize available technology. The simple and immediate implementation of Auto-DR not only supports this through energy conservation but will also play a vital role in global decarbonization, eliminating fossil fuels and establishing a NetZero future in the transition towards a cleaner, more sustainable grid.
James Muraca serves as the Chief Technology Officer for Enersponse, an energy conservation management firm and Auto-DR platform provider than enables businesses across the U.S. maximize financial savings, preserve energy, increase power reliability and resilience and improve their environmental footprints and bottom lines.
Enersponse | https://www.enersponse.com/
Unleashing trillions of dollars for a resilient energy future is within our grasp — if we can successfully navigate investment risk and project uncertainties.
The money is there — so where are the projects?
A cleaner and more secure energy future will depend on tapping trillions of dollars of capital. The need to mobilize money and markets to enable the energy transition was one of the key findings of one of the largest studies ever conducted among the global energy sector C-suite. This will mean finding ways to reduce the barriers and uncertainties that prevent money from flowing into the projects and technologies that will transform the energy system. It will also mean fostering greater collaboration and alignment among key players in the energy space.
Interestingly, the study found that insufficient access to finance was not considered the primary cause of the current global energy crisis. In fact, capital was seen to be available — but not being unlocked. Why is that? The answer lies in the differing risk profiles of energy transition investments around the world. These risks manifest in multiple ways, including uncertainties relating to project planning, public education, stakeholder engagement, permitting, approvals, policy at national and local levels, funding and incentives, technology availability, and supply chains.
These risks need to be addressed to create more appealing investment opportunities for both public and private sector funders. This will require smart policy and regulatory frameworks that drive returns from long-term investment into energy infrastructure. It will also require investors to recognize that resilient energy infrastructure is more than an ESG play — it is a smart investment in the context of doing business in the 21st century.
Make de-risking investment profiles a number one priority
According to the study, 80 percent of respondents believe the lack of capital being deployed to accelerate the transition is the primary barrier to building the infrastructure required to improve energy security. At the same time, investors are looking for opportunities to invest in infrastructure that meets ESG and sustainability criteria. This suggests an imbalance between the supply and demand of capital for energy transition projects.
How can we close the gap?
One way is to link investors directly to energy companies. Not only would this enable true collaboration and non-traditional partnerships, but it would change the way project financing is conceived and structured — ultimately aiding in potentially satisfying the risk appetite of latent but hugely influential investors, such as pension funds. The current mismatch of investor appetite and investable projects reveals a need for improving risk profiles, as well as a mindset shift towards how we bring investment and developer stakeholders together for mutual benefit. The circular dilemma remains: one sector is looking for capital to undertake projects within their skill to deploy, while another sector wonders where the investable projects are.
This conflict is being played out around the world; promising project announcements are made, only to be followed by slow progress (or no action at all). This inertia results when risks are compounded and poorly understood. To encourage collaboration between project developers and investors with an ESG focus, more attractive investment opportunities can be created by pulling several levers: public and private investment strategies, green bonds and other sustainable finance instruments, and innovative financing models such as impact investing.
Expedite permitting to speed the adoption of new technologies
Another effective strategy to de-risk investment profiles is found in leveraging new technologies and approaches that reduce costs, increase efficiency, and enhance the reliability of energy supply. Research shows that 62 percent of respondents indicated a moderate or significant increase in investment in new and transitional technologies respectively, highlighting the growing interest in innovative solutions to drive the energy transition forward.
Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, large-scale energy storage, and smart grids are some of the emerging technologies identified by survey respondents as having the greatest potential to transform the energy system and create new investment opportunities. However, these technologies face challenges such as long lag times between conception and implementation.
If the regulatory environment makes sense, then policy uncertainty is reduced, and the all-important permitting pathways are well understood and can be navigated. Currently, the lack of clear, timely, and fit-for-purpose permitting is a major roadblock to the energy transition. To truly unleash the potential of transitional technologies requires the acceleration of regulatory systems that better respond to the nuance and complexity of such technologies (rather than the current one-size-fits all approach). In addition, permitting processes must also be expedited to dramatically decrease the period between innovation, commercialization, and implementation. One of the key elements of faster permitting is effective consultation with stakeholders and engagement with communities where these projects will be housed for decades. This is a highly complex area that requires both technical and communication skills.
The power of collaboration, consistency, and systems thinking
The report also reveals the need for greater collaboration among companies in the energy space to build a more resilient system. The report shows that, in achieving net zero, there is a near-equal split between those increasing investment (47 percent of respondents), and those decreasing investment (39 percent of respondents). This illustrates the complexity and diversity of the system around the world. A more resilient system will require all its components – goals and actions – to be aligned towards a common outcome.
Another way to de-risk the energy transition is to establish consistent, transparent, and supportive policy frameworks that encourage investment and drive technological innovation. The energy transition depends on policy to guide its direction and speed by affecting how investors feel and how the markets behave. However, inconsistent or inadequate policy can also be a source of uncertainty and instability. For example, shifting political priorities, conflicting international standards, and the lack of market-based mechanisms can hinder the deployment of sustainable technologies, resulting in a reluctance to commit resources to long-term projects.
Variations in country-to-country deployment creates disparities in energy transition progress. For instance, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act in the US has posed challenges for the rest of the world, by potentially channeling energy transition investment away from other markets and into the US. This highlights the need for a globally unified approach to energy policy that balances various national interests while addressing a global problem.
To facilitate the energy transition, it is imperative to establish stable, cohesive, and forward-looking policies that align with global goals and standards. By harmonizing international standards, and providing clear and consistent signals, governments and policymakers can generate investor confidence, helping to foster a robust energy ecosystem that propels the sector forward.
Furthermore, substantive and far-reaching discussions at international events like the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP), are essential to facilitate this global alignment. These events provide an opportunity to de-risk the energy transition through consistent policy that enables countries to work together, ensuring that the global community can tackle the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition as a united front.
Keeping net-zero ambitions on track
Despite the challenges faced by the energy sector, the latest research reveals a key positive: 91 percent of energy leaders surveyed are working towards achieving net zero. This demonstrates a strong commitment to the transition and clear recognition of its importance. It also emphasizes the need to accelerate our efforts, streamline processes, and reduce barriers to realizing net-zero ambitions — and further underscores the need to de-risk energy transition investment by removing uncertainties.
The solution is collaborating and harmonizing our goals with the main players in the energy sector across the private and public sectors, while establishing consistent, transparent, and supportive policy frameworks that encourage investment and drive technological innovation.
These tasks, while daunting, are achievable. They require vision, leadership, and action from all stakeholders involved. By adopting a new mindset about how we participate in the energy system and what our obligations are, we can stimulate the rapid progress needed on the road to net zero.
Dr. Tej Gidda (Ph.D., M.Sc., BSc Eng) is an educator and engineer with over 20 years of experience in the energy and environmental fields. As GHD Global Leader – Future Energy, Tej is passionate about moving society along the path towards a future of secure, reliable, and affordable low-carbon energy. His focus is on helping public and private sector clients set and deliver on decarbonization goals in order to achieve long-lasting positive change for customers, communities, and the climate. Tej enjoys fostering the next generation of clean energy champions as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
GHD | www.ghd.com
Governments around the world are racing to deal with soaring inflation. Natural gas prices were already on the rise as economies emerged from their coronavirus lockdowns, pushing up demand, but sanctions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the slowdown in domestic production have squeezed supply, sedning international gas markets into turmoil.
Combined with rising energy prices, the lack of grain being exported from both Ukraine and Russia has had a domino effect, forcing up the cost of everything, from food to transportation; whether household or business, everyone is feeling the squeeze.
Here, in the United States, the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s attempts to tackle rising prices is his Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by Congress in August 2022. The headline figures were eye-catching: $369 billion invested in energy security and tackling climate change; energy bills cut by between $500 and $1,000 each year; and carbon emissions down 40 percent by 2030. The energy industry is still coming to terms with the scale of the ambition and investment committed.
Underpinning those ambitions are investments covering a wide range of green technologies, from rebates for families to install heat pumps and tax credits to erect solar panels, to incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs). Businesses, communities, and homes are set to receive support to install 950 million solar panels, 120,000 wind turbines, and 2,300 grid-scale battery plants before the end of the decade.
The biggest challenge will be connecting all of these renewable assets to the grid, which will involve massive investments to update wires and substations to where they can accept the additional power without breaking down. The answer? Linking energy to data.
Roof-mounted solar panels, EV charging points, and grid-scale batteries are all examples of distributed energy resources (DERs) – devices that are connected to the local distribution network, rather than the national transmission network. A helpful way to picture this is looking at the transmission network as the trunk of a tree, with the distribution grid as itsbranches.
Distribution networks are already under pressure; there are long waits to connect solar arrays or wind farms to the grid. Upgrading the network to increase capacity is an expensive and time-consuming process.
That’s where data can work its magic. Specialist software – called a distributed energy resources management system (DERMS) – can use data from sensors around the grid to help balance supply and demand. This identifies where there is capacity within the existing infrastructure to connect DERs, like wind turbines, solar panels, or grid-scale batteries.
If the U.S. is going to reap the benefits from the IRA, then distribution network operators will need to invest in DERMS in order to maximize the use of their existing infrastructure. The alternative is to spend vast amounts of money erecting transmission and distribution lines, building substations, and buying transformers in order to cope with rising demand for connections. By not adopting these state-of-the-art digital solutions, the entire renewables industry risks significant delays for customers wanting to switch to electric vehicles, heating, cooling, and powering their homes and businesses.
Undoubtedly, new infrastructure will be needed as we approach 2030. However, the more immediate goal is making the most of the equipment that we already have so that we are able to implement the IRA in the most cost-effective way possible. DERMS holds the key to unlocking the potential of the legislation, and unleashing cost savings for homes and businesses throughout the nation.
Dr. Graham Ault is Executive Vice-President of Smarter Grid Solutions, an energy software company with an end-to-end approach to DERMS to deliver net zero energy systems.
Smarter Grid Solutions | www.smartergridsolutions.com
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Wind energy continues to be a pivotal player in the global shift towards sustainable power sources. As the wind industry advances, so does the need for efficient and reliable methods to monitor the health of wind turbine components, with a particular....
Not enough people know that hydrogen fuel cells are a zero-emission energy technology. Even fewer know water vapor's outsized role in electrochemical processes and reactions. Producing electricity through a clean electrochemical process with water....
In the ever-evolving landscape of sustainable transportation, a ground-breaking shift is here: 2024 ushers in a revolutionary change in Electric Vehicle (EV) tax credits in the United States. Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a transforma....
The fact that EV charging is currently cheaper than filling up your traditional gas tank has set a precedent that public EV charging will always remain less expensive. This is certainly a good thing to support the adoption of EVs, but the high infras....
Now more than ever, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of the renewable energy industry. Indeed, it seems that few other industries depend as heavily on constant and rapid innovation. This industry, however, is somewhat unique in its e....
University of Toronto’s latest student residence welcomes the future of living with spaces that are warmed by laptops and shower water. In September 2023, one of North America’s largest residential passive homes, Harmony Commons, located....
For decades, demand response (DR) has proven a tried-and-true conservation tactic to mitigate energy usage during peak demand hours. Historically, those peak demand hours were relatively predictable, with increases in demand paralleling commuter and ....