Global Insight 3: May 9th 2017

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Global Insight 3: May 9th 2017

Global Insight 3: 09-05-2017

Our weekly round up of stories that caught our eye from around the world on energy system change.

Australia

ARENA announce new investment plan – Innovating Energy

The Australia Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have released their new investment plan this week.  The plan will invest in low-carbon solutions from research and development to commercial projects concentrating on four themes – delivering secure and reliable electricity, accelerating solar PV innovation, improving energy productivity, exporting renewable energy.  The last priority will be looking at shifting Australia’s energy exports from coal and LNG to hydrogen and/or ammonia produced from excess renewable generation.

Australia on track to meet its 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET)

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) announced in a report this week that, if the pace of investment in both large and small scale renewables continues, Australia should be able to meet its RET of 33GWh of renewable generation by 2020.  The issuing of both large-scale (LGC) and small-scale (SSTC) generation certificates issued per MWh of generation, bought by energy retailers as extra revenue for developers, has pushed the solar industry into the fore of renewable generation due to the faster project completion time and therefore certificates being made available to the market sooner. However the federal government has not, of yet, announced any plans for extending the RET past its 2020 deadline.

Europe

Dutch TSO Launches Block Chain Pilot

The Dutch government owned Transmission System Operator, Tennet T, has announced that it has teamed up with another Dutch firm, Vandeben, and Germany’s Sonnen and IBM to run a pilot blockchain project. Blockchain technology, which is used in the accounting of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is being promoted to enable  decentralized flexible energy sources to play a role in the management of the electricity grid. The technology is being tested to see if it might enable small scale solar and storage systems to operate on a peer to peer basis rather than through a central system. Some analysts believe the market for blockchain applications is significantly larger in the energy sector than for financial services.

Smart meter data access models – Germany vs Norway and Belgium

ICT and the management of data is going to be central to new energy systems, and so the question of who has access to data on consumption, micro-generation and demand side actions is important. Marius Buchmann reviews two different types of approach for retail data hubs across Europe: centralised hubs with equal access terms for all actors found in Belgium and Norway vs the German approach, where each consumer decides who can get access to their smart meter data.

Towards better solar policies for Europe

Policy frameworks for solar PV across Europe have taken many knocks over recent years, with boom-and-bust cycles leading to high levels of uncertainty and choked off investment. SolarPower Europe has a new report out with ten recommendations for better policy to encourage new business models. These include: commitments to avoiding retroactive changes, avoiding grid charges that disincentivise solar, stopping unfair curtailment, encouraging self-consumption and building the mini-utility model.

U.S.

City Level Action to Support Renewable Energy Deployment Across the United States

While President Trump’s continued commitment to the Paris Agreement remains in doubt, action to support the deployment of renewable energy domestically continues at pace. In recent weeks a number of cities have pledged to get their power solely from renewable energy. This has recently, included Salt Lake, which said it intends to get 100% of its power from renewables by 2032 as well as to reduce energy and transport emissions by 80% by 2040 and Georgia by 2035.  In total 27 cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, New York and San Diego, have also announced their intention to have 100% green power.

State of the Electric Utility Survey 2017

UtilityDive’s 2017 State of the Electric Utility Survey of 600 electric utility professionals shows that the power sector is embracing DER in the US, but still primarily as rate-based activity and preferably as pilots rather than as a core utility operation. Ninety% say that their utility should have a business model to embrace moves to DER. In answer to the question: should utilities be permitted to own and operate DER? 71% said yes, as a rate based investment activity; 12% said yes but only through unregulated subsidiaries; 12% said yes but only in specific circumstances when competitive markets fail; and 5% said no.

Florida Solar Implementing Bill

The Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 90 [solar implementing bill] on the 4th May. This agreed to Amendment 4, the solar ballot initiative that 73% of voters supported last August. Amendment 4 provides Florida homeowners and businesses an exemption from burdensome property taxes on solar and renewable energy devices. Bills to implement Amendment 4 unanimously passed in both the Senate and House chambers, with support from a broad coalition of business groups, the solar industry, and clean energy advocates.

Customizing Decoupling for Your State

The electricity industry, and all its dimensions, has until recently been based on selling. Utilities to a large degree worked on the principle that more electricity that passed across their wires the more money they would make. Now, with new technologies, requirements of decarbonisation and so on this basic attitude needs to be changed – and regulatory incentives can be one part of the tool box in helping that.  The US has had revenue regulation, or decoupling in various States – regulation to ensure that utilities make broadly the same amount of money even if the throughput through their wires is reduced significantly as a result of energy efficiency measures for example. RAP has produced a blog and report discussing how ‘decoupling’ can be developed to suit the different State needs.

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