A ‘Net Zero’ BP, Cheaper Offshore Wind, And 50,000 Batteries in California

A ‘Net Zero’ BP, Cheaper Offshore Wind, And 50,000 Batteries in California

Here are the top five energy stories I found compelling last week:

“We’re heading to net zero and there is no turning back”

Two big companies in the energy space made startling announcements last week, showing very clearly where this carbon train is headed.  Delta Airlines announced last week it’s committing $1 billion over the next decade to mitigate global emissions (aiming to get ahead of this emerging ‘flight shame’ trend).  The airline said it will “invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.”

Just a thought, but maybe we should do something about this carbon thing?

Meanwhile, BP’s boss Bernard Looney came out with a blog indicating that the company is headed towards net zero.  He commented explicitly that climate change is a big problem for the world, and “the reality is that we are seen by many as a source of the problem and, worse still, an obstacle to solving it.”  He noted that protestors, some investors, and even some staff believe, “we are out of step with society. Let me be very clear today that I get it.  The world does have a carbon budget, it is finite, and it is running out fast. And we need a rapid transition to net zero…I get the anxiety, I get the anger, and I get that people want cleaner energy.”  

Looney also commented that he sees this challenge as an enormous opportunity to put trillions of investment dollars to work “in replumbing and rewiring the global energy system…Make no mistake, the direction is set. We’re heading to net zero and there is no turning back.”  

What those words actually mean, (and in the cases of both Delta and BP) whether and how they translate into meaningful action, remains to be seen. But nothing happens without the language that precedes it.  And here we have two large companies from different sectors finally addressing the enormous challenge of climate change.  Change may truly be afoot.

Latest offshore wind contract price down to $58/MWh

The 804 MW Mayflower Wind offshore wind project (a joint venture between Shell and EDP) just released its pricing, and it comes in at an eye-popping $58/MWh, including the costsof transmission.  That makes it 13% less expensive than its predecessor, Vineyard Wind.  Located 26 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, the project is expected to come online in 2025.  Massachusetts officials indicated this price would allow customers to save ratepayers between .1 and 1.8 % on future bills.

Getting wind in Mayflower’s sails, with a $58/MWh price

It’s not the least expensive offshore installation in the world: that laurel wreath currently goes to the 3,600 MWs of projects in the Dogger Bank project off the UK, which came in last fall at a price of $48.80/MWh.  But its close, and the trend is encouraging. Such datapoints suggest that the offshore wind gamble is paying off.  Bigger turbines and overall project scales are quickly conspiring to drives costs down in the best wind regimes, where we will see projects with capacity factors exceeding 60%.

There may be some initial buyers’ regret over earlier signed deals along the coastline: New York’s first contract came in at $83.36, while New Jersey’s deal cost $98.10 per MWh.

California’s residents will buy 50,000 battery storage systems this year

Bloomberg NEF projects that sales of California residential energy storage systems will quadruple this year, to 50,000 on-site installations.  Most of these will be accompanied by solar panels.  This accelerated dynamic is largely in response to last year’s wildfires and pre-emptive widespread and long outages, but to time-of-use rates as well.

A chicken in every pot; a battery in every house…

BNEF indicates that while over a million residences have rooftop solar, only about 19,000 homes had batteries by the end of November.  However, many of those had been in southern California, particularly San Diego in response to its time of-use-rates (where SunRun has indicated attachment rates of storage to solar of 60%). 

California may catch up to Germany soon, which had an estimated 60,000 installations in 2019.  The trend of residential storage is now a global one.  Europe’s home battery installations are forecast to increase five-fold, with as much as 6.6 GWh by 2024.   

More promising news on batteries out of GM

Tim Grewe, GM’s director of battery cell engineering and electrification strategy was interviewed recently and made some fascinating comments that provide a bit more insight as to where the industry may be headed. 

If these darned things would only wear out, we could start to recycle the batteries

He noted that one problem with the company’s recycling effort thus far is that fact that the Volt extended-range batteries are lasting longer than originally anticipated, with one Volt at 450,000 miles on it, and “still chugging along.” So far, there are simply not enough used batteries available for the recycling stream.  GM is also investigating its design with disassembly of the battery in mind, and working with partners who know the recycling business.

Finally, Grewe commented that the company is working on solid state batteries, with that horizon less than eight to 10 years away, “We’re chasing it as hard as we can.”

A challenger to Tesla’s Model 3?

Could we finally have a worthy challenger to the Tesla Model 3?   The Model 3 ate up the lion’s share of 2019 US EV sales (with approximately 150,000 models sold, it was the 9th most sold car in the country) and no other electric model has even come close.  

Making waves with a new car that’s meant to be green and affordable

However, up and coming Fisker is showing off its new model – the Fisker Ocean – to some acclaim, and the company indicates it has a large number of orders from both North America and Europe.  Fisker’s model debuts next month at the 2020 Geneva motor show, and Fisker is calling it “the world’s most sustainable vehicle,” with “vegan interior and recycled materials throughout.”  It’s also got a solar roof – which Fisker claims can provide up to 1,000 miles of additional solar-powered range annually (in the right climes).  The Ocean has a 80+ kWh battery pack, 300 miles of range and accommodates fast charging – going from 15 to 80 percent will take 30 minutes. 

Fisker is planning to lease many of its cars, with the base model at $2,999 and $379 per month, after an initial payment.  An outright purchase will set you back at least $37,499, or as low as $29,999 after tax credits.

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