Will National Energy Policy ‘Evolve’ to a Clean Energy Standard?

Bingaman CES figure4-lg

Clean energy is something everyone is ‘for’.  Few people are in favor of dirty energy.  But the problem is the definition of what is clean depends upon who you ask.  We will say we are in favor of clean renewable energy, when polled, until a wind producer tries to site a wind turbine near us, or spreads out a sea of photovoltaic panels across the desert—or worse says a high voltage transmission line is needed to bring that clean, renewable energy from its remote location to serve demand …Continue Reading »

Smart Grid Benefits from the Wisdom of the Crowd

California-State-University-Microgrid-Network-Landscape

Tech and Creative Labs (TCLABZ) was born out of the disruptive innovation realization that insight could be extracted from the online interaction of people trying to figure out what is going on, what might happen next, and what if I do “X” instead of “Y”?  We believe in the wisdom of the crowd to provide a fast, efficient, consistent basis for evaluating opportunities and risks across alternative views of the global business future.  We see scenario analysis as a powerful qualitative …Continue Reading »

The Sum of Global Utility Executives Fears: Affordability, Reliability, Sustainability

SOURCE: PWC 12th Global Powewr & Utilities Survey

I’m not talking about the Occupy movement marching on utilities around the world.  It is worse than that if we are to believe the results of PwC’s 12th Global Power & Utilities report – The shape of power to come.  The survey tells us what we already know--- we will live in interesting times in the global power business with the uncertainty of transformational change the only constant. If you are an energy strategy consultant this is very good news.  Volatility is a wonderful thing …Continue Reading »

Between FERC and a Hard Place

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is trying to avoid being drawn into the political battle over the regulatory agenda being pursued by the US EPA against fossil fuel emissions in the wave of new environmental regulations being issued by the agency.   US EPA knows it is only a few votes away from being overturned in the US Senate where even Democrats running for re-election want desperately to avoid having to take a stand on this issue. Industry trade groups, state regulators and …Continue Reading »

The Seeds of the Next Power Boom were Sown in the Last Bust

The electric power industry is driven by boom and bust cycles as market fundamentals and volatility sends signals to market participants to speed up or slow down their efforts.   One of the lessons of that boom and bust experience is that seeds of the next boom are sown in the bust of the last business cycle.  By that I mean the enthusiasm of the boom stage of the market always attracts new entrants and leads to excess which volatility increases before the fundamentals of supply and demand …Continue Reading »

Is California's Resource Adequacy at Risk?

California is experiencing growing concerns over resource adequacy.  The CAISO took the unusual step of objecting to the proposed shut down of the Calpine Sutter natural gas power plant at FERC saying the plant would be needed as soon as 2017 to assure resource adequacy and thus is made no sense to shut it down now. Why is Sutter being shut down? Because California electric demand is weak along with its economy, but all that renewable energy being added to the grid is classified as “must …Continue Reading »

Spain Ends New Renewable FiT

Spain’s new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy suspended the nation’s feed in tariff subsidies for all new renewable energy projects January 27, 2012 announcing that Spain could no longer afford it given its budget deficit.  There has been widespread trepidation that the FiT program would be cut, but the swift and decisive action suspending the program entirely left the renewable energy industry reeling. As if to remove any doubt about its future, the Prime Minister went further saying the …Continue Reading »

Low Gas Prices Rattle Renewables

In "Economic and Employment Contributions of Shale Gas in the United States" IHS Global Insight says shale gas production is producing significant benefits for the U.S. economy from lower natural gas prices, significant growth in direct and indirect jobs and substantial tax revenue. The impact of the growth of unconventional gas is staggering. In 2011, unconventional gas market share reached 34 percent of all U.S. natural gas production. By 2035 it is expected to be 60 percent of all U.S. …Continue Reading »

Subsidizing Commodities Never Makes Sense

This is the second in a series of posts about the unintended consequences of renewable energy subsidies and rules in competitive falling price markets. In the previous post I reviewed the unintended consequences of Germany’s generous above market prices feed in tariff subsidy in a fall global PV price market. The result was that German taxpayers spent a lot of money to promote solar energy market growth hoping to create a sustainable domestic market of clean energy producers and a growing …Continue Reading »

Fear of Smart Grid Stall-Out

As smart meter deployment reaches saturation points across North America there is disquiet about what is next.  It all seemed too fast and too easy.  The idea of smarter power grids was seductive promising reduced line losses, more efficient integration of renewable energy, happiness, prosperity for all.  You see my point? We’ve reached what the Gartner folks like to call in geek-speak the ‘trough of disillusionment’. That ugly place where just when we thought we could see the new world …Continue Reading »