Green New Deal Advancing

Jay Owen Earth Systems Science


February 6, 2019

Green New Deal Advancing

Details of a Green New Deal, potentially aiming for 100% renewable energy within 10 years (up from 17% today), continued surfacing this week in Washington.

As the newly Democratic-controlled House began hearings Wednesday on climate solutions, a draft resolution and Q&A circulated for a “Select Committee for a Green New Deal.”

“We call for a national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) described in a pre-release letter to colleagues. While the New Republic analyzed the “meteoric rise” of the idea, a Bloomberg editorial recalled the experimental nature of the original New Deal and opined that, done right, today’s Green New Deal could effectively leverage Americans’ patriotism for the greater good.

The Green New Deal legislation sponsored by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) could be introduced as soon as this week. In addition to the widely discussed 100% renewable energy goal, it is also expected to include a call for other non-energy policy objectives, including universal health care and a federal employment guarantee.


Vortex Verdict In

Renewables stayed on track during last week’s polar vortex. An early Bloomberg story claimed the cold could threaten wind power for Chicago, but ComEd said the 50,000 outages in the area “were all because of problems with wires or other aspects of the delivery system.” An ample available electricity supply and effective demand response management were also credited for successful grid performance.

While Fox News claimed that fossil fuels kept Americans warm, RTO Insider reported: “Natural gas and coal generators represented almost 85% of the outages, including 2,930 MW of gas generation that was idled because of a lack of fuel.” Cold tripped a PSEG nuclear unit in New Jersey, further reducing available electricity supply.

“Last week did little to support the argument that replacing baseload coal and nuclear plants with natural gas and intermittent wind and solar generation is risky business,” said E&E News.


Market Rules Inhibiting Storage Potential

Rules for the wholesale power markets remain organized around legacy generation assets, and that’s a problem for the growing array of energy storage solutions, according to fresh analysis by Greentech Media. The analysis also includes the Energy Storage Association’s less than sanguine assessment of grid operators’ implementation plans for FERC Order 841 designed to stimulate access to wholesale markets.

“To be clear, there is more work to be done before the storage industry can endorse the participation frameworks envisioned by PJM, NYISO, ISO-NE, MISO, and SPP,” said Jason Burwen, ESA’s VP for Policy.

Nevertheless, NextEra Energy CEO Jim Robo predicted that solar and wind plus batteries will be “massively disruptive” to conventional generation over the next decade, while Wood Mackenzie estimates that U.S. energy storage will grow 10-fold in the next five years, from 338 MW in 2018 to 3.9 GW by 2023, with much of the increase in front-of-the-meter utility-scale projects.

Renewable energy deployment is “just getting started,” says Robo.


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The Wind Blows in Texas

Wind farms now account for nearly 20% of the energy on the Electric Reliability of Texas grid, UPI reports. Texas coal plants have gone from supplying 37% of generation to less than 25% of generation over the same period of time.

The increase in wind generation is in part attributed to clean power demand from major companies like Walmart, GM, Facebook and Google — as well as power purchase agreements from municipalities like Austin and San Antonio.

“We’re very bullish on the prognosis of wind and our solar and that will come into play more and more for the next 5 to 10 or 15 years,” said Tri Global Energy CEO John Billingsley, Jr. “Everywhere you look, there’s states and cities dedicating themselves to renewable energy and wind.”