Global Insight 18 – 31st Oct 2017

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Global Insight 18 – 31st Oct 2017


Network Opportunity Maps

The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) in Sydney in collaboration with Energy Networks Australia (ENA), and with support from government and industry have released their Network Opportunity Maps.  The maps data sets can be loaded to give detailed information of network opportunities including expected network constraints and so developing a market for new energy services.  This will enable renewable energy solutions and demand-side response initiatives to easily identify which areas they could benefit.  The maps are similar to the Distributed Energy Resource (DER) plan which the IGov project have been recommending for the UK networks (here, here and here).  The DER plan  will be needed following the DNO/DSO transition to identify the areas in which new energy services will be able to invest.

New Record Low for South Australia Demand

South Australia’s rooftop solar enabled the state to reach a record low this month.  The state grid demand fell to 587MW as rooftop solar generated 47.8% of the state’s demand.  This was due to the temperatures being too low to necessitate air-conditioning use and ample sunny skies.  South Australia is one of the first areas to see a shift in the demand cycle – from low demand being at night to the middle of the day.  This has called people to question the controlled load tariff – similar to the UK’s Economy 7  but for hot water loads only, as hot water is the simplest form of energy storage and should take advantage of Australia’s exceptional solar resource.


Renewables and wholesale electricity markets – latest German figures

For many years it has been observed that large renewables output can drive wholesale electricity spot market prices down to zero, and below zero where renewables are subsidised. The latest figures from Germany, where wind was expected to provide 65% of supply this weekend, driving intra-day and day ahead prices below €0 for a whole day, is just the latest example. There is a clear need to rethink wholesale power markets, based as they are on short-run marginal costs which are increasingly irrelevant in a renewables world. However, current market reform debates in Germany are about splitting markets because of network bottlenecks.

Polish EV charging pioneers

An interesting CleanTechnica interview with some EV charging entrepreneurs in Poland. What is interesting about this is not that there is rapid growth in demand for EVs in Poland – there isn’t, yet, because support policies are weak or non-existent – but rather that even in such an unpromising context, there are people thinking ahead, offering new services and exploring new business models. This is one of the points about the new energy economy – it is happening in spite of policy and regulation, bubbling up from the bottom.

Solar – the outlook is sunny

Solarpower Europe is predicting that the annual global demand for solar power will reach 100GW in 2017, up from just over 75GW last year. What is particularly striking, given previous boom-and-bust cycles, is what looks like the emergence of a more sustainable growth within Europe itself, which has lagged behind the US and especially China in recent years, and saw a contraction in capacity in 2016. The organisation is predicting 10% growth in the European market this year. Even in Spain, where it died a death in the early 2010s, solar has won 4GW in a national clean energy tender.


Rick Perry, Secretary of State for Department of Energy and support for Nuclear and Coal (NOPR)

Criticism continues for the DoE decision on nuclear and coal market support.

Solar ITC Case

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) vote and final decision by President Donald Trump is expected soon – with the solar industry arguing any tariff additions on imports would harm the US solar industry. Earlier this year Suniva and SolarWorld petitioned the ITC for import relief from crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and cells, claiming the imports harmed domestic operations and hurt the competitive ability of U.S. solar manufacturers in global markets. In a unanimous ruling in September, the ITC found ‘cause for severe injury’ due to imports from South Korea and Mexico. Now the agency will vote on a proposed remedy, with President Donald Trump having the final say. Under the law, the proposed remedies can stay in place for four years and could be extended another four years, though they could also end sooner.

Micro-market start in NYS Buffalo Area in December, with National Grid Plc

In mid-December, National Grid Plc will allow an automated trading system that pays hospitals and research facilities at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to sell electricity from their onsite solar panels, batteries or other generators to doctors’ offices and businesses — the first power market ever designed within a single utility service area in the US. National Grid.  The local utility, stands to lose some revenue after the micromarket opens because the campus may use more power from its own assets and less from the grid. The company will instead get fees from transactions from those participating in the market. NG plc says that ‘anyone with an energy asset — or a willingness to cut their demand when needed — can participate. Any form of energy or load is welcome’. It also means that the value of ‘transactions’ will become clearer – and this is useful because NYS PSC is generally driving to an increased proportion of performance based regulation (PBR) of distribution utility revenues. However, how to value transactions is an important area of discussion.

Big Data and NYS – GE links with Exelon, to pilot Predix

GE, one of the US’s major energy companies, has been building up a company called Predix –  an industrial ‘internet-of-things business that pairs on-the-ground sensors with local and cloud computing’. GE has just entered a new partnership with Exelon, one of the biggest power providers in the U.S. Exelon had already adopted Predix across its fleet of competitive generators, which includes the largest nuclear capacity in the U.S. Now, the company is rolling out the industrial internet service to its portfolio of six regulated wires utilities. The goal is to work with GE to improve the cost-effectiveness of electrical distribution and prepare for regulatory grid overhauls coming to Exelon’s various markets.

Hurricane Sandy 5 years on – impacts

What was in place 5 years ago, was thought to be good at the time. However, devastation of the energy system made NYS realise that the system had not been resilient.  Achieving resilience is now the driver of energy policy, and drove the NY REV development.

Oklahoma Public Utilities Commission hacked 

A cyber attack on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (the States Utility Commission) last week led to the agency’s servers being rebooted, including intentionally taking down the OCC’s web site, email systems and other functions – and remains down a week later. The US utility industry has been working to rapidly improve cybersecurity, and next month the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) will host a two-day simulated attack called GridEx.

Wider Globe

Energy Transformation in the Middle East?

Falling solar technology prices are particularly relevant for countries with high levels of solar irradiation. As has been seen in recent months costs for solar in the Middle East are falling rapidly, with global lows for Solar PV seen in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi and for concentrated solar also in Abu Dhabi.   With massive and globally significant fossil fuel reserves it is somewhat surprising that many countries in the Middle East are now at the cutting edge of renewable deployment.  However, given rising domestic energy demand and global flat fossil fuel prices, maximising exports by reducing domestic consumption, through increased renewable use, makes economic sense for countries that are economically dependent on oil and gas exports.

Though, it is not just solar deployment that is on the rise in the region as an increasing number of foreign and domestic companies are testing and deploying, smart grid and highly efficient technologies to change the way in which energy is used and managed.

First Utility Scale Solar and Storage Project starts in India

The Indian coal producer, NLC India, has started construction on the country’s first grid scale combined storage and solar plant in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.   The fossil fuel company outbid, with a price of $46 million, established renewable companies for the construction of a 20 MW solar and 28 MWh storage facility.   The project will be used to replace largely diesel generators that are the main source of power in the remote region.   Despite this, as four similar utility storage project tenders have been cancelled,  the project is an important step in the deployment of storage in a country where solar is booming.  The sector saw investments of over $9.7 billion in 2016 and India has been listed as the world’s second-best market for renewable energy investment by consulting firm EY.


The image above, “Jan 2013 Aerial Francois Site Photoshooting0109” is a flickr photo by Masdar Official shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

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