Energy Trends 2019

There are some interesting developments to watch this year as there are changes in renewable energy growth and how the energy grid is managed.

1) States Increasingly Lead the Way to be Carbon Free –

Last year, California and Hawaii legislatively committed to a carbon-free electricity system. Governors in New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico signed their own executive orders to the same commitment. Washington, D.C.’s city council passed a target of 100 percent renewable by 2032.  And in the next couple of years, look for action in Colorado, Connecticut and Oregon, where governors won in November calling for 100 percent clean energy. Governors recently elected in Illinois, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico stated their policy to commit to very high levels of clean energy in the coming years.  In all of those states, the newly elected governors will come into office with one-party rule — Democrats controlling both houses of the state legislatures,

2) Renewable Energy Will Replace Coal this Year –

While solar only contributed about 2.2% to the nation’s energy grid, wind contributed 6.6%. last year represented a milestone for the renewable industry — it is the first year that, over large areas, its resources were able to challenge not just new fossil fuel generation, but the costs of existing coal and nuclear power plants.  The nation’s onshore wind energy costs averages between $26/MWh – $56/MWh without subsidies, while utility-scale solar averages between $36/MWh -$44/MWh, investment firm Lazard reported in November. That challenges the average cost for existing U.S. coal plants, which is estimated between $27/MWh – $45/MWh.  Xcel Energy continues the trend on the windy plains and the upper Midwest, where they announces plans to retire about half of their coal-fired capacity in the coming years and replace it largely with wind energy.  And it get better, in October, the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) released analysis showing that it could save ratepayers $4 billion over 30 years by using wind and solar energy to retire two coal generators early.  As renewable energy prices continue to decline in years to come, utilities are likely to increasingly retire their older, more expensive coal power plants in favor of the cleaner energy sources throughout 2019 and beyond.

3) The Storable Energy Market Reaches $1B in Sales –

Revenue in the U.S. storage market will more than double, to $973 million from $474 million in 2018, according to Wood Mackenzie’s latest Energy Storage Monitor report. The market value is expected to double again in 2020.  As utilities continue their planning to decarbonize their power generator systems, many see the current boom in natural gas generation as a “bridge” to a low-carbon future.  Continued advancements in battery technology, however, could make that bridge shorter than many anticipated.  In November last year, California regulators approved four battery projects for Pacific Gas & Electric to replace three gas plants that had sought ratepayer financial support. The batteries, including two of the world’s largest planned projects, represented the first time that a utility and its regulators sought to directly replace multiple major power plants with battery storage.   In the years to come, energy storage technologies are expected to continue improving, making their use more viable and affordable. It is projected that storage will represent a core component of all new energy technologies moving into the future.

The energy trends of 2019 may be remembered as the year the renewable energy begins to hit its stride as a competitive source of energy.  The technology is constantly improving in both cost and efficiency.  As this trend continues, the demand will continue to rise and the cost will continue to  to decease.  As the microgrid technology expands to include residential sources of renewable energy, the nationwide power grid will be reformed into a nimble machine serving the demands of industrial and residential customers alike.

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