Tag Archives: renewable

Millennials: the new power generation fueling the future with clean energy

October 12, 2016 |

 

wind-turbines

You might expect wind industry executives at last week’s AWEA Wind Energy Finance & Investment Conference 2016 in New York to talk enthusiastically about the transition to clean energy. But over the last year, utility companies and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have joined them – proclaiming that that the clean energy future has arrived now – much sooner than any of us thought possible.

What’s driving this? First, in much of the US it now costs more to generate additional electricity by burning more fossil fuel in existing plants than it does to buy it from a new utility-scale onshore wind or solar PV farm. This is a result of steady policy support and steep cost reductions in solar and wind costs.

But another, less well-known driver is that the millennial generation – the largest generation in US history, even bigger than the Baby Boomers – wants renewable energy. Utilities and IPPs point to surveys that indicate a strong demand pull from millennials as their emerging customer base with a strong desire to get off coal. Millennials want their electric vehicle, or better still car share vehicle, to be powered by the sun and wind, not millennia-old carbon.

For the renewables industry, it’s a perfect storm. But one of the challenges the industry now faces is to figure out how it can finance all that new generation in a market with low costs of generation, low demand growth, falling prices, and subsidies that are scheduled to phase out over the next decade.

The only way this can happen is if costs can keep falling.

One way this could happen is through continued technological progress. Last month, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published their forecast for a 24%-30% drop in the Levelized Cost of Electricity for wind by 2030 and a 35%-41% drop by 2050.

But we think the decrease in costs could be even more dramatic than that with new financing instruments that could reduce the cost of financing by 20%, which in turn will accelerate those LCOE reductions.

Over the past year, we have been working with investors on such an instrument as part of a program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Despite the volatility YieldCos experienced last year, we believe there is a new model that can salvage the positive elements of this design, while restoring a much closer link to the cash flows of the underlying renewable assets.

The new instruments – Clean Energy Investment Trust (CEITs) – will still be publicly traded listed vehicles, but instead of a growing portfolio of assets, each CEIT will consist of a fixed portfolio of assets generating reliable cash flows over the life of the vehicle. A closed pool of assets, the CEIT would offer a fixed income-like return profile that would be more sustainable over the long term but at a level somewhat higher than currently available on investment grade bonds.

uday-on-awea-panel-cropLast week, I spoke about CEITs during an AWEA conference panel moderated by Susan Nickey at Hannon Armstrong who led the introduction of Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), a market now worth $1.8 trillion in the US.

We’re hoping for a similarly transformational impact from pension funds and insurers looking to match their investments with their long-term liabilities. Our analysis shows that US-wide, a 10% reduction in Power Purchase Agreement prices would allow wind to economically displace an additional 30.5GW of mostly coal generation and 154.5 million tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 28.2 million cars off the road.

CPI Energy Finance’s executive director, David Nelson, will this week present some of our work on CEITs so far to an audience of institutional investors – pension funds, life insurance companies – at the IPE Real Assets & Infrastructure Investment Strategies Conference in London. We will also be publishing several reports on CEIT structure and market potential by the end of the year, the first of which you can read here.

Pensions and life insurance policies are probably the furthest thing from the minds of Millennials, many of whom are just now coming of age and entering the job market. But their expectations about the world they want to live in and actions to mitigate climate change are driving a transformation in energy that will benefit not only their generation, but those that follow them.

 

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Will California’s AB327 help or hinder renewable energy? The devil is in the details

November 18, 2013 |

 

California Assembly Bill 327 (AB327), signed into law October 7th, 2013, drew fire from solar and energy efficiency proponents, The Sierra Club, and other environmental groups over the rate-setting powers it would give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). These opponents worry that the bill allows changes in rate and regulatory structure that could discourage renewable energy investment in California. However, local governments, industry groups, utilities and some consumer groups argue these same powers could, used wisely, make electricity rates more equitable, protect consumers and help utilities adapt to an increasingly renewable and distributed grid. Climate Policy Initiative’s analysis suggests they could also create a very fertile and cost-effective environment for renewable energy for years to come.

AB327 allows the extension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and requires the extension of the Net Energy Metering program, both of which Climate Policy Initiative analysis has shown to be significant drivers of renewable energy growth in California. Many of the details of their implementation are left to the CPUC, though, and these details will decide the ultimate impact of AB327 on renewable energy in California.

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How a Danish public guarantee facilitated an unexpected source of finance for a Swedish windfarm

September 16, 2013 |

 

Institutional investors, such as pension funds and insurance companies, hold a vast share of society’s wealth with over USD 71 trillion of assets under management. Despite being frequently cited as potential sources of large-scale investment for wind farms or solar plants, CPI recently found that barriers and management practices prevent all but a few institutional investors from actively engaging in renewable energy projects.

That’s why, when an institutional investor does engage in a renewable energy project, it is important to draw out lessons to understand what worked, what was needed to encourage their participation, and what potential exists to replicate and scale similar approaches.

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India’s Solar Mission is making good progress for solar PV but not for solar thermal

August 28, 2013 |

 

Gireesh Shrimali is an Assistant Professor of Energy Economics and Business at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Fellow at Climate Policy Initiative.

In 2010, India set an ambitious target to develop 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2022.

This target, implemented through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, called the Solar Mission hereafter, was to be achieved in three phases: Phase 1 by early 2013; Phase 2 by 2017; and Phase 3 by 2022. The Phase 1 was to be implemented in two batches: Batch 1 with capacity targets for solar PV and solar thermal; and Batch 2 with a capacity target for solar PV only.

As of June 2013, it appears that the Solar Mission has been moderately successful in deploying solar PV. Based on metrics developed in a recent paper with Vijay Nekkalapudi (submitted to Energy Policy), “How Effective Has India’s Solar Mission Been in Reaching Its Deployment Targets,” where we looked into the effectiveness of the Solar Mission in achieving its targets and offer suggestions for improving its design, the performance of the Solar Mission has been 8.4 on a 10 point scale.

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What’s working and what’s not in state renewable portfolio standards

July 11, 2013 |

 

Combined renewable portfolio standards in the United StatesRenewable portfolio standards (RPS) are an important part of the U.S. renewable energy policy landscape.Twenty-nine states, from California to North Carolina, have enacted these policies to require utilities to provide at least some of their power from renewable sources. This year, at least fourteen of these states considered bills that would have watered down or repealed these policies. But these rollbacks proved to be unpopular, and on balance state legislatures have made RPS policies more ambitious in 2013.

Taken together, RPS policies will require nearly 10% of electricity sold in the U.S. to come from renewable sources by 2020. And with the help of federal tax credits, grants and loan guarantees, most RPS policies appear to have had limited impacts on electricity rates so far. But every state’s RPS is different, and the diversity of policy designs is a great opportunity to learn what is working well and what can be improved in these policies.

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The role of risk in renewable energy deployment: A video overview

June 10, 2013 |

 

In this brief video, CPI senior director Barbara Buchner discusses the role of risk  in renewable energy deployment. She identifies opportunities for the public sector and development financial institutions to unlock capital for green investments.

Learn more about the role of risk in climate finance here: http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/publication/risk-gaps/

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China at an energy crossroads

April 29, 2013 |

 

As the second largest economy in the world, China’s energy demand is growing at a speed never seen before, representing more than 80% of the growth in both oil and coal consumption internationally in the past few years. When a country is developing at this scale, anything it does will have huge implications on a variety of global issues, from energy markets, commodity prices, energy security, to climate change.

However, people trying to understand what energy path the country is heading toward are often puzzled by the complexity of the picture: On the one hand, the country is the biggest emitter and the largest net importer of coal. On the other, China also leads renewable energy manufacture and installation, and has helped push down the cost of renewable generation globally.

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