The utility announced three new battery projects Monday that, when complete, will be able to store 22 megawatts of power. These will be the first installments of its promised 50 megawatts of battery storage.
Duke Energy Florida is investing in new battery storage.
The utility announced three new battery projects Monday that, when complete, will be able to store 22 megawatts of power. These will be the first installments of a promised 50 megawatts of battery storage by 2022.
“These battery projects provide electric system benefits that will help improve local reliability for our customers and provide significant energy services to the power grid,” CEO Catherine Stempien said.
In addition to improving reliability, the lithium batteries will help power critical services, such as hospitals, as well as small portions of regular customers’ homes. They will be built near existing Duke Energy facilities.
Duke Energy’s investment stems from a 2017 settlement between the utility, consumer advocates and regulators in which Duke Energy agreed to build 700 megawatts of solar power and invest in 50 megawatts of battery storage. Customers will be charged for the batteries eventually. Though the utility does not currently have a cost estimate for them, the settlement allows $2,300 per kilowatt.
The largest of the batteries, an 11-megawatt battery, will be near a facility in Gilchrist County, west of Gainesville. A 5.5-megawatt battery will be located in the Panhandle’s Cape San Blas, while another 5.5-megawatt battery will be at a Hamilton County facility.
Ana Gibbs, Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the utility expects them to be completed by 2020. More likely will be announced in the meantime to ensure Duke Energy makes its deadline in three years.
“We’re just really excited to roll out this technology as a benefit to our customers,” she said.
Batteries are one component of Duke Energy’s strategy to both make the grid more reliable and invest in more clean energy sources. At a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times‘ editorial board in May, Stempien said that while batteries are important, their cost will impact how significantly Duke Energy relies on them.
“There needs to be a significant step change in the cost of batteries in order for them to be a real alternative for production of 9,000 megawatts of power on a really hot 96-degree day,” she said.
Contact Malena Carollo at email@example.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s second annual Solar in the Southeast report shows that while North Carolina is still top dog in the region, a strong 2018 pushed Florida past Georgia and poised the state to take the top spot.
It’s well known that North Carolina has driven solar development in the southeast. North Carolina’s implementation of PURPA kick-started a utility-scale solar market that helped the state rise to second in the nation in terms of total installed capacity, a crown it should be proud to wear, but hold onto tightly, as the throne it sits on is not a safe one.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has released its second annual Solar in the Southeast report, highlighting the region’s development and state standings over the last year. What stood out this year was that growth was not limited to the usual suspects, showing that the region is more dynamic as a whole than it has ever been.
Part of the shrinking disparity in development has come from two of Florida’s utilities; Tampa Electric and Florida Power and Light (FPL). Specifically, FPL’s 30 x 30 plan to add almost 10 GW by 2030 is driving the momentum that is expected to allow Florida to overtake North Carolina for the region’s top spot by 2022.
That massive spike in blue in Florida from 2019 to 2020 represents the first step of the ’30 x 30′ plan, which will add roughly 1 GW in utility-scale projects per year. While utility-scale development between the two states is similar in that time period, it’s the growth of distributed solar, which Duke has successfully limited in its service area, that is poised to set Florida over the edge.
FPL isn’t the only company driving development, as three Florida utilities are expected to rank above the regional average for watts per customer by that 2022 mark. Tampa Electric is set to lead the way with 934 watts/customer, followed by FPL at 734 and Duke Energy Florida at 676.
Speaking of utilities, the graphic below shows how each one stands in installed capacity as of the end of 2018:
The region’s utilities hit a collective 8,035 MW in capacity last year, with that number expected to reach 10,000 by the end of this year, 17,000 by 2021 and nearly 20,000 by the end of 2022. So for an area that has, outside of a few, historically underperformed, the future is looking bright.
TVA comes in behind IOUs
However when talking about the Southeast, it’s hard to ignore the areas that have historically lagged in solar development. To the surprise of many, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced over the course of the last year a total of 677 MW of new solar projects, 377 MW of which are to be located in Alabama, with the other 300 MW going to Tennessee. This unprecedented growth is driven by utility-driven development, but rather procurement by tech giants Google and Facebook.
This is reflected by the prediction that TVA will add only 167 watts/customer by 2022, a mark that is bested by even Alabama Power, which is poised to add reach 335 watts/customer, up from 67 in 2018. TVA is predicted to add so little solar by 2022, that it joins the Seminole Electric CO-OP, NC Electric Cooperatives and Santee Cooper as the infamous list of companies whose 2022 watts/customer averages are set to be below the region’s 2018 average.
But, while those utilities may be slow to embrace solar, they are luckily not the only ones that spur development. The emerging interest of big tech companies to invest in the area is an encouraging prospect, especially if it continues in the service areas of these underperforming utilities. And, as weak as the bottom may be, we’re set to witness a national heavyweight bout for both regional and national solar prestige among the region’s two top players, with South Carolina and Georgia set to make strides as well.
A second series of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses could arrive in Miami-Dade by September to replace its aging Metrobus fleet, adding to 300 buses already ordered.
Where they will come from, however, is undetermined.
County commissioners Dec. 4 amended an item directing Mayor Carlos Giménez to issue a purchase order for buses through a Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority contract to allow the county to shop for better price and quality options from contracts nationwide.
“If the vendors know we can go to [multiple] providers, we can negotiate a better price,” he said. “It’s certainly my intent to have a better value.”
Miami-Dade currently gets roughly five new CNG buses per week from New Flyer of America, Transportation Director Alice Bravo said.
If the county were to contract with multiple manufacturers, Mr. Giménez said, it could replace its outdated diesel-fueled fleet much faster.
“Instead of 20 buses a month, we can get 40 buses a month and get those old buses off the street,” he said.
And no matter where the buses come from, he said, county technicians would be able to service them because their inner workings are essentially the same.
“They’re all Cummins engines,” he said. “We end up with the same transmission.”
While the county isn’t restricted to buying through the Central Florida Transportation Authority contract, it must move quickly if it chooses to do so, as the organization’s five-year contract with CNG bus builder Gillig expired Dec. 11.
“We’re exploring the prices through that contract with the vendor, but we’re also looking at other contracts we could also access,” Ms. Bravo said. “These contracts we’re looking at have multiple vendors on them, while this Central Florida contract has only one.”
Miami-Dade can order up to 713 Gillig buses through the contract, which far exceeds its needs.
But to fund any bus purchase, the county would need to access the money from the “half-penny” tax voters approved in 2002.
To access that money, the county either needs approval from the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust (CITT), which oversees the fund, or an override through a two-thirds vote by county commissioners.
Javier Betancourt, executive director of the CITT, said that due to time constraints, if the county opts to buy buses through the Central Florida contract, it would have to do so and seek retroactive approval from his group.
“This is happening in reverse order at this point, so they will be sending us an item for our consideration on the tail end instead of the front end,” he wrote Dec. 6.
Buying buses through an external contract deviates from how the county bought its last round, said Ms. Bravo, who said county typically issues an invitation to bid, a process that takes about four months.
“This resolution will resolve all these issues in the most efficient and expeditious manner,” said Audrey Edmonson, the item’s sponsor. “We cannot sit here and wait another two years for buses. We need buses now.”
Jeffery Mitchell, president of the Transportation Workers Union of America, Local 291, said the residents were “crying for better equipment, more buses,” and not ones built by New Flyer, which he said are problematic.
Miami-Dade as of last week had accepted 134 of 300 buses from New Flyer, Ms. Bravo said, of which a small number had tire imbalances that caused a “resonance frequency” between the bus’ body and tires made it vibrate when traveling at 65 miles per hour.
After a battery of tests to identify and correct the problem, preventative measures were established to ensure it didn’t occur once the buses were delivered, she said.
New Flyer also agreed to extend warranties on several bus components and conduct additional inspections during the warranty period.
“Since that process was put in place there’s been no more vibration issues,” Ms. Bravo said.
But Mr. Mitchell said the vibration problem is one of several that Miami-Dade transit workers found with New Flyer buses.
“We should pick the standard, not the prototype,” he said. “Right now, anywhere from 20 to 30 buses – brand new – aren’t useable. These are not the best buses. The further you go along, we’ll find out we didn’t get the best bang for our buck.”
County bus technician Antonio Gonzalez said nine of the new buses were indefinitely out-of-service due to “catastrophic engine issues.”
“New Flyer has another seven or eight buses they can’t find what the issues are,” he said. “As a veteran technician, I can tell you that these buses are lemons.”
Jennifer McNeill, vice president of sales and business development for New Flyer, said few of the buses her company delivered are out-of-service due to mechanical or systemic problems.
Nine were out-of-service because of accidents, she said. Eight were with Cummins for engine work. The remaining eight were being serviced by New Flyer or being dispatched.
“Of the [200 buses delivered], the number that are sitting with Miami for [pre-delivery inspection] are being worked through at a rate that’s amenable to both New Flyer and Miami-Dade Transit,” she said. “Our ask today is simply to be allowed the opportunity to compete for further buses.”
On Monday this week, Ms. Bravo said that while the New Flyer buses her department accepted into service were “performing well,” the county was exploring its options.
Tucked into a corner of Southwest Florida about a half-hour from Fort Myers, Babcock Ranch is what developer Syd Kitson calls the most sustainable new community in America. It started when Kitson, a former NFL player, purchased the 91,000 acre ranch in 2006. He immediately struck a deal to sell 73,000 acres of the property to the state of Florida for a wildlife preserve. He then donated 440 acres to Florida Power & Light with the stipulation that it construct a solar power plant on the land. Today, that parcel is covered by 350,000 solar panels that feed electricity into the electrical grid.
Then Kitson went to work with local partners to design and build a new community on the remaining 17,000 acres. “We want to be the most sustainable new town in the United States,” Kitson tells CBS News. “We had the advantage of a green field, a blank sheet of paper. When you have a blank sheet of paper like this, you really can do it right from the beginning.”
The town gets most of its electricity from the nearby solar power plant during the day. Although the community has 10 small battery stations, Kitson says large-scale battery storage is still too expensive (Elon Musk would disagree), so at night or on cloudy days, the community draws power from the utility grid. “The people here pay the exact same amount that everybody else pays in the Florida Power and Light network,” he says. “Clearly, if you have a number of cloudy days in a row, it will impact the efficiency and the available electricity that comes from the solar field, but this is Florida, and if you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes.” Last year, when Hurricane Irma swept across that part of the state, not one solar panel was damaged.
The first residents began moving in at the beginning of this year. 500 homes are expected to be completed by December. 19,500 dwelling units are planned over the next two decades. All of the structures in Babcock Ranch will feature the latest energy efficiency technology and offer 1 gigabit internet access. Alexa will handle all smart home functions. Outside, there are 50 miles of nature trails through the wildlife preserve next door. A farm-to-table organic gardening project is underway and a K-8 charter school is planned. Residents will be encouraged to leave their cars at home as they walk, bike, or take advantage of the electric autonomous shuttle bus fleet that will service the community.
“This community is a unique opportunity to really implement sustainable technology in a practical way,” Haris Alibašić, a professor at the University of West Florida, tells Good.com. “Cities around the world have started adopting 100% renewable energy targets, but it’s both intriguing and encouraging to see this happening from a developer.” He adds he would like to see more affordable housing included in the plans for the community. A three bedroom home in Babcock Ranch sells for $195,000 and a four bedroom town house lists for $795,000. “I think the ultimate key to long term sustainability is attracting people from diverse incomes and backgrounds,” he says.
Last January, Richard and Robin Kinley became the first family to move to Babcock Ranch. They chose a house near a lake, which has now been named Lake Kinley in their honor. “The air is nice and clean here and I think these types of communities are the future,” Robin says. “I felt very much like when I bought a Tesla back in 2013 and I said, this is definitely is going to make it,” Richard adds. “I felt the same way about Babcock Ranch.”
Their first neighbors were Donna and James Aveck, who moved in a few weeks later. “We love the innovation here,” Donna says. “We think it’s a very small planet and we want to do our part to conserve it.” Babcock Ranch has thought of every detail when it comes to sustainability. Jim says, “When I go to the gym, which is huge, and I get on the treadmill, the energy I generate by running actually feeds back into the electric grid.”
Communities that have already transitioned to 100% renewable energy include Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Greensburg, Kansas; Rockport, Missouri; and Kodiak Island, Alaska, according to the Sierra Club. But Babcock Ranch has designed sustainability into the entire fabric of the community from the beginning. Just as Tesla has driven change in the transportation industry, Babcock Ranch will encourage other cities and towns to make sustainability part of their community DNA.
Employees work on the assembly line of the electric bus at a BYD’s production base on January 23, 2018 in Xi’an, China. China’s largest electric carmaker BYD sold 113,669 new energy vehicles in 2017, up 13.4 percent year-on-year. (Photo by VCG/Getty Images)
Projections have suggested that the advent of electric vehicles will have a dramatic impact on oil demand and now its starting to show. With China adding the equivalent of London’s bus fleet every 5 weeks, that’s 279,000 barrels of oil a day removed from demand.
The latest report from Bloomberg New Energy shows that economics are driving the change, with the total cost of ownership of electric buses far outperforming the alternatives. The report says a 110kWh battery e-bus coupled with the most expensive wireless charging reaches parity with a diesel bus on total cost of ownership at around 60,000 km traveled per year (37,000 miles). This means that a bus with the smallest battery, even when coupled with the most expensive charging option, would be cheaper to run in a medium-sized city, where buses travel on average 170km/day (106 miles).
Today large cities with high annual bus mileages therefore choose from a number of electric options, all cheaper than diesel and CNG buses. The BNEF report says, ‘Even the most expensive electric bus at 80,000km per year has a TCO of $0.92/km, just at par with diesel buses. Compared to a CNG bus, it is around $0.11/km cheaper in terms of the TCO. This indicates that in a megacity, where buses travel at least 220km/day, using even the most expensive 350kWh e-bus instead of a CNG bus could bring around $130,000 in operational cost savings over the 15-year lifetime of a bus.
For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market, according to BNEF calculations. In 2018, the volume of oil-based fuel demand that buses remove from the market may rise 37 % to 279,000 barrels a day, or approximately the equivalent of the oil consumption of Greece. By 2040, this number could rise as high as 8 million barrels per day (bpd).
This will make a significant dent in oil demand but overall the market appears confident that petrochemicals will make up the difference in demand. That question remains open however, as the plastics market particularly continues to evolve.
Stephen George, chief economist at KBC, agrees with the International Energy Agency predictions that petrochemicals will grow to replace transport fuel demand. His projections don’t show a peak in oil demand, rather a plateau around 2040 ranging between 110 and 110 million bpd, with no signs of a peak and drop by 2050.
He does accept that everybody uses different scenarios and that the strategies need to be resilient in facing market change and says, “I see the majors embracing renewables more than previously.” Oil demand however will continue to increase due predominantly to plastics growth.
Today the U.S. is the biggest per capita consumer of plastics at 150 kg per person per year. That includes bottles, packaging, durable goods (many cars now built out of plastic); 3-d printing and a myriad number of uses. Europe and Japan are not far behind and George predicts that demographics and the growth of the middle class will drive up the global average which is currently 45 kgs per person per year.
China alone has gone from 5kgs to the global average in 5 years and is expected to drag the global average up as it grows. India is bound to follow and while its consumption is roughly around 8-10kgs per capita this is likely to develop rapidly.
So it’s the downstream derivatives of oil that are going to drive demand with George saying, “150kgs per capita is the non combustible oil demand that replaces the transport fuel demand.”
The real question it seems is whether this will be new plastics, or recycled and reused. New methods are arising constantly, driven by new regulation and breakthroughs in technology. In April 2018, it was announced that scientists had accidently discovered an enzyme that eats plastic, which when scaled up could have a significant impact on the way in which plastic is treated within the economy.
At the moment it ends up predominantly as a waste product, clogging up pipes, water sources, beaches and in dumps. If we find a plastics breakthrough, from recycling, to bioplastics to new forms of processing, the future line of oil demand could look very different.
The intersection of innovation and global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development are driving change in the economy. A founder of The Net Imperative Ltd and New Energy Finance (later bought by Bloomberg), author of Conquering Carbon: Carbon Emissions, Carbon Markets and the Consumer and a journalist for many years, I teach on the MSc Global Energy and Climate Policy and Finance, Sustainability and Climate Change at School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Posted January 09, 2018 07:29 AM, Updated January 10, 2018 08:25 PM
The city of the future will not be the cold metal domes or Mars settlements of science fiction movies. It will be a community of 19,500 homes surrounded by thousands of acres of green space and capable of producing its own energy — in total harmony with the environment.
And that future is now.
Residents started to move this month to homes in the utopian paradise of Babcock Ranch, northeast of Fort Myers and a three-hour drive from Miami. Its most distinguishing characteristic: It will rely 100 percent on solar energy.
It’s the first totally ecological, self-sustaining city in the United States, a living laboratory for businesses, government and citizens.
Like all technology, the new city has raised questions, such as how can it avoid depending on traditional methods of generating electricity.
Developer Syd Kitson, a former offensive guard with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, said his city has one of the world’s biggest photovoltaic solar energy generation fields, with 343,000 panels laid out along 440 acres, equaling 200 football fields. The solar plant was built in partnership with Florida Power & Light (FPL).
“I’ve been asked if I got hit on the head too many times when I played football,” Kitson said in an interview with BBC World. But he insisted that it is a realistic and profitable idea. “It’s much easier and cheaper if you plan it that way from the beginning,” he said.
Babcock Ranch has an integrated smart network that allows residents to monitor and control their electricity consumption. Self-driving electrical buses are already making test runs in the center of the city, about equal to the size of Manhattan.
Residents and visitors can use the shared transportation system to rent bicycles and explore the city and its pathways through green areas full of cattle, birds and alligators.
James and Donna Aveck will be moving to Babcock Ranch in mid-January. The Michigan natives retired to Punta Gorda more than 10 years ago. They just bought a 1,955-square-foot home in the new development.
The new city has “all of the innovation we love, because we embrace change, but we also love the friendliness of the place,” Donna Aveck, who is convinced that global warming is a major problem, told the Naples Daily News. “We are attracted by the idea of protecting the environment and having community paths and gardens. We feel at peace as soon as we get here.”
Because the Avecks bought into the pioneer project at its very start, the developers named a lake in the new city “Lake James.” Babcock Ranch is expected to eventually reach 50,000 residents.
Follow Daniel Shoer Roth on Facebook and Twitter: @DanielShoerRoth.