Weekend Reads - Smart Energy Decisions

September 11, 2021

Weekend Reads: Oil Vs. Wind on the Shetland Islands; The Key to Biden's EV Plan

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

Climate change: Shetland's power struggle between oil and wind (BBC) Nowhere else in the United Kingdom are the spoils of oil and gas more evident than on the Shetland Islands. Wide roads which sweep along rugged clifftops and through lush valleys are so smooth you could play marbles on them. In the centre of the main town, Lerwick, a stunning new school gleams in the September sunshine. Next door stands the Clickimin, an impressive leisure complex, one of eight on the islands - which are home to just 22,870 people. There is one swimming pool for every 2,859 islanders. At Sumburgh Airport, the air throbs with the noise of helicopters shuttling oil workers to and from offshore rigs and platforms. It's not as busy as it once was, but it's still going strong.

Can the West learn to share renewable power? (Grist) The spring of 2019 opened with a deep chill across Cascadia. An Arctic air mass poured past the 49th parallel, simultaneously jacking up energy consumption and straining energy supplies in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It conjured a dangerously “perfect” storm for the region’s electricity grid. When temperatures began to plummet on March 1, 2019, Cascadia’s hydropower reservoirs sat at record low levels following weak fall rains and an exceptionally cold winter. Mechanical trouble had halved power output from the Centralia, Washington, coal-fired power plant — the largest generator between Seattle and Portland.

Biden’s Electric Car Plans Hinge on Having Enough Chargers (New York Times) In President Biden’s vision of a green future, half of all new cars sold in 2030 will be electric. But something really basic is standing in the way of that plan: enough outlets to plug in all those cars and trucks. The country has tens of thousands of public charging stations — the electric car equivalent of gas pumps — with about 110,000 chargers. But energy and auto experts say that number needs to be at least five to 10 times as big to achieve the president’s goal. Building that many will cost tens of billions of dollars, far more than the $7.5 billion that lawmakers have set aside in the infrastructure bill.  Private investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into building chargers, but the business suffers from a chicken-and-egg problem: Sales of electric cars are not growing fast enough to make charging profitable. It could be years before most charging companies break even, let alone mint big profits like Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

Key regulatory decision leaves California reliability issues unresolved, aggravates tensions (Utility Dive) With hurricanes and wildfires across the country making concerns about reliability more urgent than ever, there is much to learn from how a regulatory decision weakened a fragile collaboration between California's traditional and new load-serving entities (LSEs). Primarily because of new community and customer choice providers' success in the last decade by marketing to customers who want more clean energy, California now has over 40 LSEs, led by the fast-growing Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs). But regulators' May 20 decision disrupted a budding collaboration and increased tensions between investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and the new LSEs by delaying reallocation of existing reliability resources among them, leaving the new LSEs with the growing costs of procuring reliability through power markets.

Texas Eyeballs 91,000 Megawatts Of … Solar Power? (CleanTechnica) The great state of Texas is known for many things, such as leading the US into the wind energy revolution while also nailing down first prize for oil and gas production, making it harder for people to vote, and empowering money-seeking vigilantes all over the country to police pregnant Texans, most of whom are women. Aside from all that, the Lone Star State’s solar power profile is absolutely exploding, so let’s zoom in on that. Wind power used to suction off all the media attention whenever attention turned to renewable energy activity in Texas, thanks partly to the state’s free-and-easy attitude towards energy regulations and its copious wind resources. The only obstacle to a ferocious level of wind development was a yawning gap of territory between prime wind power spots in West Texas, where relatively few people live, and big-city population centers to the east. A new $7 billion, 18,500 megawatt, 3,600-mile transmission line project resolved all that back in 2013.

Keywords: Weekend reads

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