Category Archives: DER

3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution

By Whit Fulton, ConnectDER

With the new administration inaugurated in January, and with Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed last week, those of us working to help solve the climate crisis can’t help but feel hopeful with what should be a new, aggressive approach to energy policy. As the world is facing a daunting climate crisis, and with a nearly 4-year delay in taking action to solve it in Washington, I was pleased to see that President Biden selected Governor Granholm as Energy Secretary. While so many have spoken volumes about her work resurrecting the auto industry after the 2008 financial crisis, it was her efforts on the state level shepherding aggressive renewable energy policies which helped create 125,000 green jobs in Michigan. 

I was equally thrilled to see the new President appoint former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi to the top two climate advisory positions in his administration. All three have an impressive track record of moving the country towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Now that all three are officially in place, it’s time to get to work.

In Mr. Biden’s own words, climate change will have the urgency of a “day one” issue. Beyond re-joining the Paris Agreement in his first 100 days, Biden and Granholm will need to begin rolling out practical policy plans to make significant investments in clean energy, technology, and infrastructure to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. 

More than anything else however, and as with any industry, the renewable energy industry needs policy certainty. Wind, solar, and distributed energy resources (DERs) have all faced major policy uncertainty through shifting dynamics in Washington over the past six years. While it’s clear now that renewables are making unprecedented progress, the new administration must work to solidify policy so we can help simplify and accelerate the creation of jobs and our energy transition. Here are my thoughts.

Set Reliable Standards that Drive Interoperability

One unfortunate quirk of the US’s historic balancing act between Federalism and Republicanism is the patchwork of city, state, and regional standards that govern how clean energy can be installed and attached to the grid.  Simplifying, streamlining, and normalizing on key standards would reduce transaction costs and promote safety, unlocking massive acceleration in new deployments and jobs, and all at a fraction of the cost of straight subsidy to industry (don’t get me wrong, subsidies are great too, but let’s focus on the best returns on investment out there).  For example: there should be a standard one-page application for interconnection that can be filled out and filed electronically that is universal for utilities and local inspectors across the country.

So how do we do it?  First, Biden’s team should empower a single national certification organization that would examine, regulate and certify compliance for stakeholders with all relevant standards for electrical systems, processes and interconnections in the new energy economy.  Second, take a carrot approach: organizations that meet the standards should be rewarded with modest but meaningful tax or other incentives.  Forget sticks, since many organizations may have unique circumstances that justify taking a slower approach.  Best of all, there are excellent organizations working on this problem already like SEPA, NABCEP, SEIA, and EPRI, to name a few.  Empowering them with the needed funding and mandate to execute their mission at a larger scale would generate outsize returns for the industry and the planet.  

Promote Certified U.S.-made and Manufactured Products

Clean energy technology is only as clean as the components it’s made from.  While we do depend heavily on imports, and will continue to do so, we can’t really call our infrastructure clean if it’s built using abusive labor practices and carbon-intensive energy.  In this moment, there is an unprecedented opportunity to promote onshoring of renewable energy technologies to aid meaningful domestic job creation. This is where Granholm’s experience in the rust belt and with the auto industry will be vital; these areas of the country are and will continue to feel the strain of decarbonization. They need new opportunities and areas for advancement. Certified U.S. made and manufactured products earn a home field advantage not only through these job creation benefits, but because they also support the greater human rights and environmental justice mission of the U.S., and don’t offshore our carbon footprint. 

The Biden Administration should realign its trade policy with China and others to quantify any tariffs not in terms of arbitrary tit-for-tat retaliation but in terms of entrained carbon and other related CO2e measures.  The funds collected from the tariffs should then be allocated directly to a dedicated fund for carbon negative investments at home, thereby helping offset the cost of the tariffs, stimulating onshore cleantech industry activity, and creating a virtuous cycle to incentivize lower carbon everywhere.

Establish A Transparent Carbon Market

Markets work. At least, they work more cost-effectively than overbearing regulatory edicts.  Establishing a national carbon market, a simple process that charges electric generators and other major carbon emitting industries a cost per ton of carbon, can act as a disincentive to produce power from highly-polluting means and spur clean energy deployment (read: jobs). This is a powerful motivator for the energy transition, creates new funds for beneficial uses, and is already being done regionally.

Our working model: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”), is a cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI works by capping and reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector. Each RGGI state’s Budget Trading Program limits emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power plants, issues CO2 allowances, and even offers a secondary market for tradable certificates, allowing generators that more effectively reduce emissions to benefit financially.  Long-established U.S. emissions markets for nitrogen oxides and sulphur, bi-partisan creations, have shown enormous cost savings relative to imposed technology controls. This model should be applied to carbon and expanded nationwide.

Our Last Chance & Greatest Opportunity

The way the new administration perceives and reacts to climate change will set it apart from international peers (not to mention the outgoing administration). Avoiding a two degrees Celsius global temperature increase will require not only infrastructure investments but also a completely different way of looking at our need for and use of energy as individuals and homeowners. 

At this exact moment in time, we Americans have an unprecedented opportunity to improve our energy system, one that, done right, leads to a stronger economy and a cleaner, safer planet. With resolve and clear policy, America can assume the mantle of leadership needed to carry us into the next century and beyond.


About the Author

Whit Fulton is the founder and CEO of ConnectDER. ConnectDER devices enable easy, safe, low-cost, and rapid connection of distributed energy resources (DERs) to the power grid, via a connection to a collar that installs between the electric meter and meter socket. Whit founded ConnectDER to give inventors a place to solve meaningful problems and to ensure they have an ownership stake in the solutions they create.  His personal mission is to create technologies and business approaches that unlock profitable models for renewable energy.  Whit honed his analysis, negotiation, and product development skills through a series of senior managerial positions in energy analytics consultancies and cleantech startups.

The post 3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution

By Whit Fulton, ConnectDER

With the new administration inaugurated in January, and with Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed last week, those of us working to help solve the climate crisis can’t help but feel hopeful with what should be a new, aggressive approach to energy policy. As the world is facing a daunting climate crisis, and with a nearly 4-year delay in taking action to solve it in Washington, I was pleased to see that President Biden selected Governor Granholm as Energy Secretary. While so many have spoken volumes about her work resurrecting the auto industry after the 2008 financial crisis, it was her efforts on the state level shepherding aggressive renewable energy policies which helped create 125,000 green jobs in Michigan. 

I was equally thrilled to see the new President appoint former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi to the top two climate advisory positions in his administration. All three have an impressive track record of moving the country towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Now that all three are officially in place, it’s time to get to work.

In Mr. Biden’s own words, climate change will have the urgency of a “day one” issue. Beyond re-joining the Paris Agreement in his first 100 days, Biden and Granholm will need to begin rolling out practical policy plans to make significant investments in clean energy, technology, and infrastructure to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. 

More than anything else however, and as with any industry, the renewable energy industry needs policy certainty. Wind, solar, and distributed energy resources (DERs) have all faced major policy uncertainty through shifting dynamics in Washington over the past six years. While it’s clear now that renewables are making unprecedented progress, the new administration must work to solidify policy so we can help simplify and accelerate the creation of jobs and our energy transition. Here are my thoughts.

Set Reliable Standards that Drive Interoperability

One unfortunate quirk of the US’s historic balancing act between Federalism and Republicanism is the patchwork of city, state, and regional standards that govern how clean energy can be installed and attached to the grid.  Simplifying, streamlining, and normalizing on key standards would reduce transaction costs and promote safety, unlocking massive acceleration in new deployments and jobs, and all at a fraction of the cost of straight subsidy to industry (don’t get me wrong, subsidies are great too, but let’s focus on the best returns on investment out there).  For example: there should be a standard one-page application for interconnection that can be filled out and filed electronically that is universal for utilities and local inspectors across the country.

So how do we do it?  First, Biden’s team should empower a single national certification organization that would examine, regulate and certify compliance for stakeholders with all relevant standards for electrical systems, processes and interconnections in the new energy economy.  Second, take a carrot approach: organizations that meet the standards should be rewarded with modest but meaningful tax or other incentives.  Forget sticks, since many organizations may have unique circumstances that justify taking a slower approach.  Best of all, there are excellent organizations working on this problem already like SEPA, NABCEP, SEIA, and EPRI, to name a few.  Empowering them with the needed funding and mandate to execute their mission at a larger scale would generate outsize returns for the industry and the planet.  

Promote Certified U.S.-made and Manufactured Products

Clean energy technology is only as clean as the components it’s made from.  While we do depend heavily on imports, and will continue to do so, we can’t really call our infrastructure clean if it’s built using abusive labor practices and carbon-intensive energy.  In this moment, there is an unprecedented opportunity to promote onshoring of renewable energy technologies to aid meaningful domestic job creation. This is where Granholm’s experience in the rust belt and with the auto industry will be vital; these areas of the country are and will continue to feel the strain of decarbonization. They need new opportunities and areas for advancement. Certified U.S. made and manufactured products earn a home field advantage not only through these job creation benefits, but because they also support the greater human rights and environmental justice mission of the U.S., and don’t offshore our carbon footprint. 

The Biden Administration should realign its trade policy with China and others to quantify any tariffs not in terms of arbitrary tit-for-tat retaliation but in terms of entrained carbon and other related CO2e measures.  The funds collected from the tariffs should then be allocated directly to a dedicated fund for carbon negative investments at home, thereby helping offset the cost of the tariffs, stimulating onshore cleantech industry activity, and creating a virtuous cycle to incentivize lower carbon everywhere.

Establish A Transparent Carbon Market

Markets work. At least, they work more cost-effectively than overbearing regulatory edicts.  Establishing a national carbon market, a simple process that charges electric generators and other major carbon emitting industries a cost per ton of carbon, can act as a disincentive to produce power from highly-polluting means and spur clean energy deployment (read: jobs). This is a powerful motivator for the energy transition, creates new funds for beneficial uses, and is already being done regionally.

Our working model: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”), is a cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI works by capping and reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector. Each RGGI state’s Budget Trading Program limits emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power plants, issues CO2 allowances, and even offers a secondary market for tradable certificates, allowing generators that more effectively reduce emissions to benefit financially.  Long-established U.S. emissions markets for nitrogen oxides and sulphur, bi-partisan creations, have shown enormous cost savings relative to imposed technology controls. This model should be applied to carbon and expanded nationwide.

Our Last Chance & Greatest Opportunity

The way the new administration perceives and reacts to climate change will set it apart from international peers (not to mention the outgoing administration). Avoiding a two degrees Celsius global temperature increase will require not only infrastructure investments but also a completely different way of looking at our need for and use of energy as individuals and homeowners. 

At this exact moment in time, we Americans have an unprecedented opportunity to improve our energy system, one that, done right, leads to a stronger economy and a cleaner, safer planet. With resolve and clear policy, America can assume the mantle of leadership needed to carry us into the next century and beyond.


About the Author

Whit Fulton is the founder and CEO of ConnectDER. ConnectDER devices enable easy, safe, low-cost, and rapid connection of distributed energy resources (DERs) to the power grid, via a connection to a collar that installs between the electric meter and meter socket. Whit founded ConnectDER to give inventors a place to solve meaningful problems and to ensure they have an ownership stake in the solutions they create.  His personal mission is to create technologies and business approaches that unlock profitable models for renewable energy.  Whit honed his analysis, negotiation, and product development skills through a series of senior managerial positions in energy analytics consultancies and cleantech startups.

The post 3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

New energy storage deployment topped record 3,500 MWh in 2020, ESA report shows

Energy storage installation grew nearly 200 percent and totaled an all-time operational record in fourth quarter 2020, according to a new report.

The report released by analytics and research firm Wood MacKenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association’s latest U.S. Monitor report indicated that about 2,156 MWh of new energy storage was brought online in the last three months of the year. This breaks the previous quarterly record and is 182 percent higher than 2020’s third quarter, according to the report.

Falling prices and fewer barriers to energy storage deployment are credited with helping the quarterly revival. Front-of-meter storage accounted for four of every five MW deployed in the fourth quarter, according to report.

Residential storage totaled about 90 MW and represented 14 percent of the MW total during the period. Much of that growth was driven by homeowner interest in California, the ESA release says.

Overall for the year, nearly 1,500 MW of capacity and 3,500 MWh in new storage was brought online. The capacity total was 179 percent higher than the previous year’s installations.

“2020 is the first year that advanced energy storage deployments surpassed gigawatt scale—a tremendous milestone on the path to our aspiration of 100 GW by 2030,” said Jason Burwen, U.S. Energy Storage Association Interim CEO. “With continuing storage cost declines and growing policy support and regulatory reform in states and the federal government, energy storage is on an accelerating trajectory to enable a resilient, decarbonized, and affordable electric grid for all.”

The U.S. energy storage market is forecast to add five times more storage—or close to 7,000 MW­—in 2025, according to the ESA.

Front-of-meter installation could account for up to 85 percent of new MW annually, as utilities deploy large-scale projects to help balance out intermittent renewable energy growth. The U.S. installed 3,115 MWh of storage from 2013-2019, a total which was exceeded in 2020 alone, Wood Mackenzie Head of Energy storage Dan Finn-Foley noted in a statement.

“The data truly speaks for itself,” Finn-Foley said. “This is the hallmark of a market beginning to accelerate exponentially, and momentum will only increase over the coming years.”

The world’s largest utility-scale battery storage system, Moss Landing, was brought online earlier this year in Monterey County, California. The 400 MW/1,600 MWh Moss Landing was developed by Texas-based utility owner Vistra Energy and is backed by long-term contracts with Pacific Gas & Electric.

— — — — —

Decarbonization and Energy Storage Breakthroughs are two of the content tracks when POWERGEN International happens live Jan. 26-28, 2022, in Dallas. The POWERGEN Call for Speakers is open for submissions through May 17. Click here to see the tracks and submit a speaking session idea. Presentations which include utility speakers will be given added weight.

The post New energy storage deployment topped record 3,500 MWh in 2020, ESA report shows appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

New energy storage deployment topped record 3,500 MWh in 2020, ESA report shows

Energy storage installation grew nearly 200 percent and totaled an all-time operational record in fourth quarter 2020, according to a new report.

The report released by analytics and research firm Wood MacKenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association’s latest U.S. Monitor report indicated that about 2,156 MWh of new energy storage was brought online in the last three months of the year. This breaks the previous quarterly record and is 182 percent higher than 2020’s third quarter, according to the report.

Falling prices and fewer barriers to energy storage deployment are credited with helping the quarterly revival. Front-of-meter storage accounted for four of every five MW deployed in the fourth quarter, according to report.

Residential storage totaled about 90 MW and represented 14 percent of the MW total during the period. Much of that growth was driven by homeowner interest in California, the ESA release says.

Overall for the year, nearly 1,500 MW of capacity and 3,500 MWh in new storage was brought online. The capacity total was 179 percent higher than the previous year’s installations.

“2020 is the first year that advanced energy storage deployments surpassed gigawatt scale—a tremendous milestone on the path to our aspiration of 100 GW by 2030,” said Jason Burwen, U.S. Energy Storage Association Interim CEO. “With continuing storage cost declines and growing policy support and regulatory reform in states and the federal government, energy storage is on an accelerating trajectory to enable a resilient, decarbonized, and affordable electric grid for all.”

The U.S. energy storage market is forecast to add five times more storage—or close to 7,000 MW­—in 2025, according to the ESA.

Front-of-meter installation could account for up to 85 percent of new MW annually, as utilities deploy large-scale projects to help balance out intermittent renewable energy growth. The U.S. installed 3,115 MWh of storage from 2013-2019, a total which was exceeded in 2020 alone, Wood Mackenzie Head of Energy storage Dan Finn-Foley noted in a statement.

“The data truly speaks for itself,” Finn-Foley said. “This is the hallmark of a market beginning to accelerate exponentially, and momentum will only increase over the coming years.”

The world’s largest utility-scale battery storage system, Moss Landing, was brought online earlier this year in Monterey County, California. The 400 MW/1,600 MWh Moss Landing was developed by Texas-based utility owner Vistra Energy and is backed by long-term contracts with Pacific Gas & Electric.

— — — — —

Decarbonization and Energy Storage Breakthroughs are two of the content tracks when POWERGEN International happens live Jan. 26-28, 2022, in Dallas. The POWERGEN Call for Speakers is open for submissions through May 17. Click here to see the tracks and submit a speaking session idea. Presentations which include utility speakers will be given added weight.

The post New energy storage deployment topped record 3,500 MWh in 2020, ESA report shows appeared first on Renewable Energy World.