Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  February 20, 2021

Weekend reads: Texas outages vs. wind energy; Major oil companies invest $40M into geothermal tech

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

Texas Outages Put Reliability of Renewable Energy In The Spotlight (Forbes) Renewable energy is great, but it just can’t compete with traditional sources. Texas just became the poster child for the consequences of change that happens too rapidly. Take wind power as an example; just ten years ago wind power accounted for under ten percent of electricity production in Texas. Now its share is approaching 25 percent, which seemed like a good thing until the current record breaking arctic blast came along. Freezing rain ahead of plunging temperatures has literally frozen some wind turbines solid, meaning there isn’t enough electricity being produced at the very time when it’s needed the most. Incidental reports coming out of Texas indicate that as many as half of Texan wind turbines may have been rendered temporarily inoperable by icy weather.

The system of GHG emissions reporting is broken, experts say (Utility Dive) The race to carbon neutrality in U.S. cities may run off the rails without systemic changes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting, according to a new study that suggests U.S. cities are undercounting their emissions. The study, published in the Nature Communications journal earlier this month, assessed the self-reported inventories of carbon dioxide in 48 cities, concluding that cities under-report emissions by an average of 18.3%. But as the media jumps to point fingers at cities, researchers and environmental advocates argue the blame shouldn't be placed locally.

Surge in Britain's Renewable Power Exposes Grid Risks (Bloomberg) A record year for renewable power in the U.K. showed the need for a broader suite of green technologies to balance the grid once fossil fuels fade away entirely. Green power exceeded coal and gas generation in the country’s energy mix for the first time in 2020. While this is a step in the right direction to hit strict climate goals, technologies like nuclear, hydrogen and carbon capture are needed to compensate for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, according to a report by Imperial College London for Drax Group Plc. Wind power produced a quarter of Britain’s electricity last year, however the climb in output lead to more than 250 million pounds ($346 million) being spent on costs where energy had to be dumped because of network constraints.

Webinar: Applying AI to Commercial HVAC Systems (Siemens) Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. HVAC systems consume on average between 20% and 50% of total building energy. While saving energy, aggressive efficiency standards established by regulators and organizations drive complexity and cost. At the same time, air quality and public health issues such as COVID-19 introduce new demands on safe and responsible operation of HVAC systems outside of efficiency or comfort demands. Cloud-enabled Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning can help solve these problems through use of dynamic models. These methods unlock ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and create dynamic flexibility as priorities change. This seminar will discuss methods, best practices, and pros and cons of using these approaches to controlling HVAC systems in modern buildings. REGISTER HERE

Virtual power plants could be pathway to decarbonization (ABC News) The Biden administration has set a goal for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 as part of its plan to address climate change. One way to get there may be with virtual power plants. A virtual power plant, or VPP, uses software to better control renewable electricity generation -- a process which can often be volatile on the electrical grid. "Instead of having all these disparate forms of variable generation, the purpose of the virtual power plant ... is to transform those into something that can actually replace a power plant," said Blake Richetta, chairman and CEO of Sonnen Inc., a battery developer. 

This technology could transform renewable energy. BP and Chevron just invested. (Market Watch) BP and Chevron have made a landmark expansion into geothermal energy on Tuesday, betting on a new technology that could prove to be the world’s first scalable clean energy derived from a constant source: the natural heat of the earth. The two major oil companies have headlined a $40 million funding round into a Canadian geothermal energy firm called Eavor. Based in Calgary, Eavor has pioneered a new form of technology that could feasibly be deployed in many places around the world. The investment marks a key move into an area otherwise ignored by energy companies, which have largely looked to wind and solar projects in their efforts to diversify away from fossil fields. It is the first investment into geothermal energy for BP and a re-entry into the field for Chevron, which sold its geothermal assets in 2016.

Why clean energy's future may depend on molten salt, trains, and cranes (Fortune) In an effort to make renewable energy more reliable, one company wants to send trains carrying tons of rocks up and down a hill. Another wants to use cranes to stack and unstack heavy blocks. Startups are racing to create new technologies—many seemingly far-out—to help in the shift to renewable energy. Their goal is to solve one of the solar and wind industry's biggest problems: how to store energy over long periods of time in order to fill lulls created by clouds, darkness, or lack of a breeze. “


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