Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news

Iowa senator slams energy chief for grid study undermining wind energy – Iowa’s Republican senator on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has commissioned a “hastily developed” study of the reliability of the electric grid that appears “geared to undermine” the wind energy industry – Grassley said the results were pre-determined and would show that intermittent energy sources like wind make the grid unstable. We know the coal industry is going to use ‘instability’ as its tool to leverage a requirement of having large volumes of coal able to run immediately in times of risk. This has been expressed in public by the Pruitt at the EPA.

Coal plants failed in Queensland heatwave on day of record demand – A new report from the AER looks at the soaring electricity prices on February 12, 2017, when high temperatures across the state caused record demand despite the day being a Sunday, when most business and much manufacturing was closed. The principal reason, the AER notes, was the sudden withdrawal of more than 790MW of coal and gas capacity – all due to technical faults related to the heat – If the world is getting warmer, and thermal plants – coal/nuclear/gas – are going to have greater problems shedding heat, we truly depend on them?

California battery’s black start capability hailed as ‘major accomplishment in the energy industry’ – The 33MW / 20MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS), which in its everyday use provides grid stability and helps smooth the output from local renewable power sources, was used on 10 May to kick-start an IID 44MW combined cycle natural gas turbine, located at El Centro Generating Station in Imperial Valley, California. Being able to kick-start giant engines instead of leaving them idling seems a valuable thing – maybe the energy storage industry needs to lobby Rick Perry and require batteries at every power plant.

GCL-Poly’s polysilicon sales fall 43% in Q1 – But not really, as most of the ‘fall’ was due to selling internally versus externally. More importantly – this company is big and a major player in solar. They’re the second largest polysilicon maker in the world, have plans on doubling their volume by 2020 (which would make them #1), and sold 5GW of wafers (the part that turns into solar cells after some processing).

Michigan based power plant company to close all coal by 2040 – A few extra pieces: many of DTEs plants were built-in the 50s-60s – so they were nearing retirement age. Many plants had been retired in the previous two years. DTE noted that its two largest plants – 41% of its coal – won’t close until 2030 and 2040. Nonetheless – they’re building solar and transitioning to gas, while maintaining their nuclear.

The Energy Endgame: We Already Have the Tools to End the Fossil Fuel Age – The fundamental argument: we already have the tools we need to fix our climate issues from the electricity/transportation side of things. And everything we have just needs to scale – with that scale, pricing will fall. A few things in the article I don’t agree with (will we need to aggressively overbuild solar/wind generation destroying its economics? why not transmission?) but it has many solid truths.

Right now, its fun posting the record highs and great graphics coming out of California as it breaches new records. Last year we saw this in Costa Rica, Germany, Portugal, etc – this year we get records in Cali.

I don’t know much about what goes on inside of China – big country with different rules than I’ve learned, however, they and India keep pushing promising headlines regarding volumes of clean electricity and cutting coal. Something floating by yesterday said that by 2020, all coal plants in China would be cleaner than US plants. We need it.

Header image of 700MW solar farm by Huawei in Ningxia, China

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