Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Assessing the costs and benefits of US renewable portfolio standards - IOPscience

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) exist in 29 US states and the District of Columbia. This article summarizes the first national-level, integrated assessment of the future costs and benefits of existing RPS policies; the same metrics are evaluated under a second scenario in which widespread expansion of these policies is assumed to occur. Depending on assumptions about renewable energy technology advancement and natural gas prices, existing RPS policies increase electric system costs by as much as $31 billion, on a present-value basis over 2015−2050. The expanded renewable deployment scenario yields incremental costs that range from $23 billion to $194 billion, depending on the assumptions employed. The monetized value of improved air quality and reduced climate damages exceed these costs. Using central assumptions, existing RPS policies yield $97 billion in air-pollution health benefits and $161 billion in climate damage reductions. Under the expanded RPS case, health benefits total $558 billion and climate benefits equal $599 billion. These scenarios also yield benefits in the form of reduced water use. RPS programs are not likely to represent the most cost effective path towards achieving air quality and climate benefits. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that US RPS programs are, on a national basis, cost effective when considering externalities.

Figure 3.
Range of benefit and cost estimates for the Existing RPS Policies and High RE scenarios, relative to the Reference scenario. Note that negative values in the figure indicate increased costs and that the central values for the air quality and the climate damage benefits are highlighted with a bolded marker.

by Ryan Wiser 1 and 3, Trieu Mai 2, Dev Millstein 1, Galen Barbose 1, Lori Bird 2, Jenny Heeter 2, David Keyser 2, Venkat Krishnan 2 and Jordan Macknick 2
1. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States of America
2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO 80401, United States of America
3. Author to whom any correspondence should be addressed
Environmental Research Letters via
IOPscience, Volume 12, Number 9 Published 26 September 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

IEEFA Report: Costly and Unreliable, Two Multibillion-Dollar American Coal-Gasification Experiments Prove the Case Against Such Projects - Institute for Energy Economics

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) today published a report describing how coal-to-gasification technology for electricity-generation purposes remains commercially unviable.

The report—“Using Coal Gasification to Generate Electricity: A Multibillion-Dollar Failure”—concludes that two long-running marquee American Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), projects, Duke Energy’s Edwardsport plant in Indiana and Southern Company’s Kemper plant in Mississippi, prove the case against such investments.

“Efforts to gasify coal for power generation have been major failures, technologically and financially,” writes David Schlissel, the author of the report and IEEFA’s director of Resource Planning Analysis. “Both Kemper and Edwardsport have been economic disasters for consumers and investors alike, and a number of important and painful lessons have emerged from Kemper and Edwardsport.”

The report concludes further that coal-gasification technology is an especially poor bet today given the declining costs of solar and wind resources and the expectation that natural gas prices will remain low for the foreseeable future.

Among the report’s findings:
  • Modern IGCC plants are far more expensive to build than proponents have been willing to publicly acknowledge.
  • Such plants take much longer to construct than proponents typically assert.
  • The sheer expense of operating an IGCC plant prevents makes them wholly uncompetitive.
  • IGCC plants have proven unreliable due to problems with modern coal-gasification technology.
  • The technology is not an economically feasible option for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide emissions.
  • IGCC plants cannot compete with wholesale market power prices or with falling prices for wind- and solar-generated electricity.