The Apple Pips

Inside All Apple Products

Tag: Energy Department

Energy Secretary proposes rule to make grid managers favor coal, nuclear

(credit: Matt Hintsa)

Today, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed the nation’s federal grid regulator to create rules favoring coal, hydroelectric, and nuclear generators. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) (PDF) stated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Council (FERC) must order grid operators to increase how they value “reliability and resilience attributes” in energy generation.

Although no specific electricity sources were mentioned as beneficiaries of the rule, generating units that can hold a 90-day supply of fuel on site would be favored. Coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants fit the bill, and variably-generating renewable resources like wind and solar would be left out of whatever compensation scheme comes out of FERC's rulemaking process.

Promoting coal has been a primary goal for the new Trump Administration, echoed fervently by Perry, a former Texas governor with ties to the fossil fuel industry. Although burning coal is one of the most polluting sources of electricity used in the US, and the shale boom has made cheap and cleaner-burning natural gas a popular alternative, the shift away from coal has been resisted by political forces. Trump himself has called climate change a “hoax,” and although Perry has been somewhat more deliberate in choosing his words since taking the secretary's office, he's also called into question the anthropogenic nature of climate change despite exhaustive evidence to support human-caused warming.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Solar now costs 6¢ per kilowatt-hour, beating government goal by 3 years

Enlarge / From the Department of Energy: "This photo shows the construction phase of a 16.5 MW DC solar farm built in Oxford, MA. This 130-acre property was previously known as the largest piggery in Massachusetts." (credit: Lucas Faria/ US Department of Energy)

On Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020, three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end).

Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on "the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware," according to a department presentation (PDF).

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016, the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly—just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén