Friday, March 22, 2013

Study Finds 100 percent Renewable Electricity Possible on Long Island by 2030

The Long Island Clean Electricity Vision, commissioned by Renewable Energy Long Island (reLI) and environmental, public interest, and other advocacy organizations, finds that 100 percent clean, renewable electricity is now possible for Long Island.

The analysis, performed by Synapse Energy Economics, concludes that a clean energy transition could take place within two decades, at relatively modest cost and with significant benefits. Such findings are timely given that Long Island is at an energy crossroads, with the Long Island Power Authority facing long-term power purchase decisions as many fossil fuel power purchase agreements expire in 2013.

Key findings of the Long Island Clean Electricity Vision are: · Using cautious assumptions, it appears technically feasible that renewable energy sources can supply all residential electricity needs by 2020. · By 2030 all of Long Island could have a 100 percent renewable and zero-carbon electricity supply. · Aggressive energy efficiency efforts, large scale wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies would need to be built to replace old, inefficient fossil-fueled power plants. · During times when not enough renewable energy is available to meet electricity demand, some existing fossil-fueled power generation would be used to meet demand, but renewable energy credits would be purchased to offset their emissions.

The study was based exclusively on technologies which are commercially available today. “We now have everything we need to make the transition from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels to a clean, and renewable electricity supply,” said Gordian Raacke, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long Island, a regional not-for-profit organization...
While this is the first study examining a 100 percent renewable energy future for Long Island, numerous other studies have come to similar conclusions for other regions. [They include a 2012 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study for the entire U.S. (Renewable Electricity Futures Study ), a world-wide study by Jacobson/Delucchi (Stanford University) A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables,, and a World Wildlife Fund study, The Energy Report – 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 And, many regions already have goals for 100% renewable energy, and some are well on their way or are already meeting these goals. Examples include Scotland and Denmark, as well as the cities of San Francisco, CA and Munich, Germany.]
The study finds that the cost of switching to a 100 percent renewable electricity supply is modest: average customer bills are estimated to increase by roughly 8 to 12 percent. On a typical monthly LIPA bill, this amounts to $12 to $18, or the cost of a pizza. The indirect cost of current fossil fuel use to individuals and society, such as environmental and health-related costs from pollution, are not considered in this comparison.

The move to a clean energy future at the beginning of the 21st century can be seen historically as a major paradigm shift requiring extensive rethinking and rapid retooling of infrastructure similar to the transition to the space age in the 1960s and widespread personal communication technology in the late 1990s.
The study includes a diverse mix of energy efficiency and renewable electricity sources that could provide 100 percent of Long Island’s electricity needs free of climate changing carbon emissions. The study is not an implementation plan, but rather looks at the feasibility and cost of switching Long Island to 100 percent renewable electricity, in the hopes of prompting more analysis and sparking a bold new energy vision.
Estimated costs assume a carbon policy in the U.S. sometime between 2015 and 2020, resulting in an average carbon price for the period 2013–2020 of $5.70 per ton, and an average price between 2021 and 2030 of $35 per ton. Depending on carbon and fossil fuel prices, the CEV could provide savings relative to business-as-usual in the later years of the study period.

A transition to 100 percent renewable electricity significantly reduces the need to buy and burn fossil fuels for power generation and dramatically lowers carbon emissions and other pollution. It also fosters local economic development, offers insurance against fluctuations in fuel prices and minimizes harmful environmental and health impacts of power generation.
The study compares the CEV scenario to a business-as-usual scenario based on the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) 2010 resource plan and data from the New York Independent System Operator. The study examines a 2020 CEV scenario in which Long Island generates or purchases renewable energy to meet 48 percent of its electricity needs (equal to approximately 100 percent of residential demand). By 2030, 75 percent of electricity supply comes from renewable energy with the remaining 25 percent coming from RECs (offsetting fossil fuel generation needed at times when not enough renewable power is available to meet demand). By 2030 offshore wind, connected directly to the Long Island grid, produces roughly a third of the Island’s electricity per year. In addition, Long Island purchases a quarter of its electricity from land-based wind farms (from upstate and other regions). Utility-scale energy storage capacity on the Island moves nearly 16 percent of the total wind energy from off-peak to on-peak energy demand periods. Solar photovoltaics on the Island produce about 6 percent of electricity needs per year. Smaller amounts of landfill gas, biomass and hydropower also contribute to the mix.

Emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases in the CEV are reduced dramatically: carbon dioxide emissions are cut by 30 percent below the business-as-usual scenario by 2020, and 80 percent lower by 2030. By purchasing RECs for the remaining emissions, Long Island can claim a carbon free electricity supply by 2030. Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and heavy metal emissions from fossil-fueled generation are reduced accordingly.
As compared to a ‘business-as-usual’ reference case, the power supply costs portion of the Clean Electricity Vision in 2020 would be roughly 23% higher. The increase in supply costs in 2030 would be in the range of 16%. Since power supply cost make up about half of the cost of a customer’s bill, the increase in customer bills is roughly half of these increases.
The assumed cost of energy efficiency is based on a review of LIPA’s efficiency programs8 and on data Synapse maintains regarding utility and third party efficiency programs nationwide. It assumes a total cost (including utility and customer costs) of $50 per MWh saved during the period 2012 through 2020. (All costs are presented in constant 2010 dollars.) In the Reference Case it assumes savings continue to cost this amount through 2030, but in the CEV, where more aggressive efficiency efforts are assumed, a cost of $55 per MWh is applied. Information available to date suggests that more aggressive efficiency programs have lower costs per MWh saved than less aggressive ones. However, no utility has maintained a strong efficiency effort over a period of several decades. Therefore, the authors make the more conservative assumption that efficiency costs will rise over time in the CEV. 
For onshore wind, the study assumes a cost of $1,950 per kW throughout the study period, consistent with a 1.6 MW turbine, 80-meter hub height and 100-meter rotor diameter. The authors assume average capacity factors of 35% for projects added between 2012 and 2020 and 36% for projects added between 2021 and 2030. These capacity factors take into account modeling of the equipment described above in class 3 wind regimes. This modeling suggests that the equipment being installed in 2012 and after will achieve significantly higher capacity factors than projects installed in previous years. Some analysts predict that the larger machines being installed today in moderate wind regimes will achieve capacity factors in the range of 40%. However, because these production rates have not yet been achieved in practice, they use lower rates.

The cost of offshore wind projects over the next decade is more difficult to predict. The first projects developed in the U.S. are likely to cost over $6,000 per kW, with a levelized cost of energy over $200 per MWh. However, they expect costs to fall rapidly with project development, as U.S. developers gain experience and construction and support infrastructure are developed. Current costs in Europe are estimated to be around $4,250 per kW after the installation of over 3,000 MW there.  They apply a cost of $5,600 per kW to the first project(s) Long Island purchases from (assumed to be installed by 2020) and a cost of $4,250 per kW to the next project(s) (installed between 2020 and 2030).

For new biomass projects, we assume an installed cost of $4,785 per kW. We use biomass fuel costs from the 2011 Annual Energy Outlook: $2.58 per mmBtu in 2020 and $3.04 per mmBtu in 2030 (converted to $2010). Our energy storage costs are based on projections for Sodium-Sulfur and Lithium Ion batteries. The study assumes near term costs of $1,300 per kW, falling to $1,040 per kW by 2025. (It does not add storage capacity until after 2020.) Storage losses are assumed to be 10%.
The study assumes that the cost of maintaining the T&D system is the same in both scenarios, except that it includes distribution system savings of $100 per kW of load reduced by energy efficiency, consistent New York PSC guidelines. Total distribution system savings from efficiency total $31 million annually in 2020 and $71 million annually in 2030. Annual cost impacts are estimated based on levelized resource costs.  

The study and more info is available at

Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI)
Press Release September 4, 2012

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