Why the FiT-All is a burden to consumers

* This is my article in BusinessWorld today.

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Last May 15, Transmission Corp. of the Philippines (Transco) presented at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) its petition of Feed-in-Tariff Allowance (FiT-All) for 2017 of 26 centavos/kWh. Very fast adjustments from 4.06 centavos/kWh in 2015, rose to 12.40 centavos in 2016, and soon 26 centavos starting mid-2017, all “to save the planet.”

The ERC still has to conduct public hearings in Visayas and Mindanao until early June and likely to make an order by late June, to be reflected in our monthly electricity bills starting July 2017.

The feed-in-tariff (FiT) provision in the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008 (RA 9513) is very anomalous on the following grounds: (1) guaranteed price locked in for 20 years despite technology improving very fast these days, (2) the FiT rates are rising (see table below) yearly due to inflation and forex adjustments, (3) FiT rates of P8+ to P10+ per kWh for wind-solar are way high compared to current Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) average prices of P2-P3/kWh, (4) current capacity installations for wind and solar are higher than what was allotted, and (5) even consumers in Mindanao who are not part of WESM, not connected to the Luzon-Visayas grids, are paying for this.

The total forecast cost revenue of FiT-eligible plants would be (in P Billion): 10.22 in 2012-2015, 18.54 in 2016, 24.44 in 2017, and 26.14 2018. The bulk of this will go to wind and solar plants.

(a) Wind: 6.32 in 2012-2015, 8.00 in 2016, 9.20 in 2017, 9.20 in 2018.
(b) Solar: 1.50 in 2012-2015, 5.88 in 2016, 7.03 in 2017, 7.00 in 2018
(c) Biomass: 1.86 (2012-2015), 3.95 (2016), 6.69 (2017), 6.79 (2018)
Hydro is small, only 1.52 in 2017 and 3.15 in 2018.
(Source: ERC, Case No. 2016-192 RC, Docketed April 27, 2017, Table 4)

Below are the beneficiaries of expensive electricity via FiT scheme by virtue of their hugeness and higher FiT rates.

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Many renewable firms were not able to snatch the limited FiT eligibility but they can still make money from expensive electricity via the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) provision of the RE law. The RPS coerces and forces distribution utilities (DUs) like electric cooperatives and Meralco to purchase a minimum percentage of their electricity supply from these expensive renewables, the price differential with cheaper conventional sources they will pass to the consumers. If DUs will not do this, they will be penalized and the cost of penalty they will still pass on to the consumers.

fitThe government should step back from price intervention and price control, grid prioritization of intermittent and unstable energy sources via legislation. Consumer interest of cheaper and stable electricity should be higher than corporate interest of guaranteed pricing for 20 years, lots of fiscal incentives and other privileges that are marks of cronyism. RA 9513 is anti-consumers, anti-industrialization and hence, it should be abolished soon.

The quest for more stable and cheaper electricity in the ASEAN

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last April 28, 2017.

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High economic growth means high energy demand coming from stable supply and competitively priced energy, not unstable, intermittent, and expensive energy. This is what the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies need as their high GDP growth of 4.7% in 2016 is projected to improve to 4.8% this year and 5% in 2018 (ADB data), much faster than the projected growth of other regions and economic blocs.

One week before the ASEAN 50th Summit Meeting, the 7th Annual Meeting of the Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) hosted by the Department of Energy (DoE) was held. A pre-feasibility study showed that many ASEAN countries are in favor of using nuclear energy for commercial use. The ASEAN Center for Energy (ACE) also sees nuclear energy as a long-term power source for the member-countries.

The intensive infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration require huge amount of energy. The proposed 25-km. subway in Metro Manila by the Japan government alone would require high energy supply for the dozens of trains running simultaneously below the ground plus dozens of train stations below and above ground.

Lots of base-load power plants, those that can run 24-7 all year round except when they are on scheduled shut down for maintenance, will be needed. These baseload plants include coal, natural gas, geothermal, and nuclear. Hydro plants too but only during the rainy season.

How reliable and how costly are the different power generation plants that the Philippines and other ASEAN countries will need? This table will help provide the answer as I have not seen data for the ASEAN yet.

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Power reliability is represented by plant capacity factor or actual power output relative to its installed capacity. So unstable, intermittent sources like wind and solar have low capacity factor, not good for manufacturing plants, hotels, hospitals, malls, shops, and houses that require steady electricity supply.

Power cost is represented by the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), composed of capital expenditures (capex), fixed and regular operation and maintenance (O&M), variable O&M, and transmission investment. CCS means carbon capture and sequestration.

The cost of ancillary services for intermittent sources, the standby power plants if the wind does not blow or if it rains make solar plants temporarily inutile, does not seem to be reflected in the transmission cost though.

ASEAN countries like the Philippines will need those power plants that have (a) high reliability, high capacity factor, (b) low LCOE, and (c) low or zero need for ancillary services.

However, more ASEAN countries are entertaining more solar PV and wind onshore since they were convinced to believe that they need unstable yet expensive electricity to “save the planet.”

During the Energy Policy Development Program (EPDP) lecture last April 20 at the UP School of Economics (UPSE), Ms. Melinda L. Ocampo, president of the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) talked about “Electricity Trading and Pricing in the Philippine WESM.” Ms. Ocampo discussed among others, the new management system where the interval for electricity dispatch has been improved from one hour to only five minutes.

I pointed during the open forum that the imposition of the lousy scheme feed-in-tariff (FiT) or more expensive electricity for favored renewables was unleashed even to consumers in Mindanao, which is not part of WESM, and is not connected to the Luzon-Visayas grids. The FiT-Allowance that is reflected in our monthly electricity bill has risen from 4 centavos/kWh in 2015 to 12.40 centavos in 2016 and this year, we should brace for at least 26 centavos/kWh soon because the 23 centavos petition by Transco starting January 2017 has not been acted by the Energy Regulatory Commission yet.

The issue of stable and affordable energy will be tackled in the forthcoming BusinessWorld Economic Forum this May 19, 2017 at Shangri-La BGC. Session 4 “Fuelling Future Growth”of the conference will have the following speakers: John Eric T. Francia, president & CEO of Ayala Corp. (AC) Energy Holdings, Inc.; Antonio R. Moraza, president & COO of Aboitiz Power Corporation; Josephine Gotianun Yap, president of Filinvest Development Corp., and DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. Yap and Cusi are still to confirm the invite.

Local energy players will have a big role in ensuring that the Philippines should have stable and competitively priced energy supply today and tomorrow.

Five myths of solar-wind energy

* This is my article in BusinessWorld on March 20, 2017

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Variable renewable energy (RE) like wind and solar are far out from giving humanity sufficient, stable, and cheap electricity to sustain growth and fight poverty. For the simple reasons that they are very intermittent and expensive. Below are five of the common myths that we hear and read about wind and solar.

  1. Solar, wind, biomass, and other REs will replace fossil fuels as major global energy sources in the near future.

Wrong. From the projections by the two of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, these REs, which may also include geothermal, will produce only 8.5% of global energy demand (Exxon Mobil data) or 6% (British Petroleum data) by 2025.

  1. The share of coal, gas, and nuclear will further decline as the world moves towards implementing the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Wrong. From both EM and BP projections, there is no let up in global use and demand for fossil fuel and nuclear sources in the near future. This is for the simple reason that people anywhere dislike power interruption even for one minute, much more frequent and involuntary outages lasting many hours, daily or weekly.

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  1. Solar and wind are cheaper than coal now, their overall costs will keep falling.

Wrong. The feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates or guaranteed price for 20 years for solar-wind keep rising, not declining. For first group of solar entrants, their FiT rates in Pesos/kWh were 9.68 in 2015, 9.91 in 2016, and 10.26 in 2017. For second group of solar entrants, their FiT rates were 8.69 in 2016 and 8.89 in 2017.

For wind power first group of entrants, their FiT rates in Pesos/kWh were 8.53 in 2015, 8.90, in 2016 and 9.19 in 2017. For second group of wind entrants, their FiT rates were 7.40 in 2016 and 7.72 in 2017. Only the sun and wind are free but the panels, switchyards, cables, wind turbines, towers, access roads, etc. are not.

Current power prices in Mindanao are only around P2.80/kwh as many new huge coal plants compete with each other along with hydro and geothermal plants. No additional charges.

  1. Solar and wind have no social cost (SC) while the SC of coal is very high.

Wrong. Solar and wind are very land-intensive and, as a result, more areas for food, commercial, and forest production are diverted to accommodate more solar and wind farms. To have 1 MW of installed solar power, one will need about 1.5 hectare of land. So to have a 300 MW solar plant, one will need about 450 hectares of land; San Miguel power has a 300-MW coal plant in Mindanao sitting on only 30 hectares of land, or hectare/MW ratio of only 0.1 for coal vs. 1.5 for solar.

Since solar has a low capacity factor, only 18% of its installed capacity — from 450 hectares of land with installed power of 300 MW — can actually produce only around 54 MW.

Majestic solar, 66.3 MW in CEZA, Rosario, Cavite is not included here because it is a rooftop facility and hence, does not occupy extra land area.

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution and emission from coal power plants will further warm the planet.

Wrong. CO2 is not a pollutant or evil gas. It is a useful gas, the gas that we humans and our animals exhale, the gas that our rice, corn, flowers, trees and other plants use to produce their own food via photosynthesis. More CO2 means more plant growth, more food production, more trees regenerating naturally, which have cooling effect on land surface.

The above five myths were among the topics discussed during the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) “Roundtable on Philippine Energy Security and Competitiveness” last Friday, March 17 at UPSE in Diliman, Quezon City. The main speaker was Dr. Majah Ravago of UPSE and EPDP and she presented the main EPDP paper, Filipino 2040 Energy. The five reactors included Jose “Viking” Logarta of the ICSC and Dr. Christoph Menke of Trier University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Dr. Menke discussed the GIZ paper criticizing the EPDP paper.

201703201e1b5Governments should not create regulations that distort the energy market away from real competition. Insisting on dishonest claims like “carbon pollution” and “renewables to save the planet” only lead to more expensive and unstable energy supply, wasteful use of land and other natural resources.

Rising feed in tariff (FIT) due to more wind-solar power

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last January 24, 2017.

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Cheaper electricity and stable energy supply are among the important components to have fast and sustainable economic growth.

On Jan. 17, the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) sent a press release saying that “effective settlement spot prices (ESSPs) in the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) plunged to P2.28/kWH for the December 2016 billing period which is the lowest since January 2011. ESSPs refer to the average prices paid by wholesale customers for energy purchased from the spot market.” That is good news as various players using fossil fuel sources like coal, natural gas, and oil, are fiercely competing with each other in generating electricity. WESM was created by EPIRA of 2001.

On the same day, the Department of Energy (DoE) posted a “Request for comments on the draft Department Circular entitled ‘Declaring the launch of WESM in Mindanao’ (on Jan. 26, 2016) and providing for transition arrangements.” Another good news because finally, there will be a formal spot market for power producers and electric cooperatives that will guide a competitive and deregulated market, benefitting the consumers.

Last Dec. 23, 2016, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) posted a request for public comments until Dec. 30 regarding the petition of three wind developers — Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corporation (TAREC), Alternergy Wind One Corporation (AWOC), and Petrowind Energy, Inc. (PWEI) — that their feed in tariff (FiT) or guaranteed price for 20 years of P7.40/kWh be raised to P7.93/kWh, citing various cost escalations. That was bad news because expensive electricity is never a virtue. I sent a letter to ERC Commissioner Salazar arguing that they say No to the petition.

And last Dec. 6, 2016, the ERC published in a newspaper a National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) petition asking for a FiT allowance (FiT-All) of 22.91 centavos/kWh starting January 2017. That’s also bad news because FiT payments by consumers keep rising fast. From an introductory price of only 4 centavos/kWh in 2015, became 12.40 centavos/kWh in 2016, and almost 23 centavos/kWh this year.

Now two factors will raise the FiT-All for 2017 beyond 23 centavos. (1) ERC will not be able to act on this by January or not even February 2017, that means there will be price underrecoveries that must be added to the original requested price. And (2) with low WESM prices the past few months — P3.19/kWh last September, P2.91/kWh last October, P2.54/kWh last November (data from Meralco), and the P2.28/kWh ESSP last December — this means that FiT-All will go up. This allowance is the difference between FiT rates (highest prices are solar of P10+/kWh this year due to price escalation, followed by wind, then biomass, cheapest is run of river hydro) and average WESM prices. Or FiT-ALL = FiT rates — WESM prices

Expensive electricity is the hallmark of renewable energy favoritism anywhere in the world.

Understand that in my previous columns, it was shown that the main beneficiaries of expensive electricity from renewables in the Philippines are not ordinary firms but huge companies: the Lopez group (EDC Burgos wind) and Ayala group (Northern Luzon UPC Caparispisan wind, and Northwind Bangui) who got P8.53/kWh FiT and combined revenues of about P4.3 billion in 2015 alone.

Let us check Germany’s renewables output. The chart below is for the last three months, Oct. 23, 2016 to Jan. 22, 2017.

Last Jan. 8, its total electricity consumption was 57.4 GW and here are the renewables output that day: solar 0.23 GW, onshore wind 1.53 GW, and offshore wind 0.39, or a total output of only 2.15 GW from these three renewables (see chart).

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A total of only 2.1 GW was generated by solar-wind sources or only 3.7% of 57.4 GW power demand. If Germany relied solely on wind-solar, that would have meant massive, large-scale, and catastrophic blackouts. Germany of course was saved by the power plants that it wants to banish someday — fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas plus nuke power, within Germany and from energy imports from its European neighbors — and which it kept running. So we did not hear or read such massive blackouts in Europe’s biggest economy.

Aside from expensive direct cost of wind and solar in Germany due to FiT, there is additional indirect cost of higher transmission cost. From a news report, “The Energiewende is running up against its limits” last Oct. 21, 2016 (http://energypost.eu/energiewende-running-limits/)

“German transmission system operator Tennet recently announced an 80% increase in its transmission fees because of the high construction costs of new power lines to accommodate renewable energy. A study of the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics found that by 2025 costs of the Energiewende could exceed €25,000 for an average four-person household.”

The Joint Congressional Power Commission should consider introducing a law in the future that will abolish the RE Act of 2008 (RA 9513). Penalizing the energy consumers to further enrich the favored and crony firms in renewable energy is wrong.

Top 10 energy news of 2016

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last January 6, 2017.

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Here is my list of 5 international and 5 national or Philippine important energy issues last year.

INTERNATIONAL

  1. Donald Trump and his energy policies.

US president-elect Donald Trump’s energy policies are summarized in his major campaign platform, “Seven actions to protect American workers” and these include:

“FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal… SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”

So far some of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries are his fellow skeptics of the anthropogenic or “man-made” climate change claim (climate change is largely cyclical and natural or “nature-made”), or simply pro-oil. These include: (a) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head is Scott Pruitt, former attorney general of Oklahoma; (b) DoE Secretary is former Texas Governor Rick Perry who is pro-drilling; and (c) Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, CEO of the oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp.

  1. OPEC cut on oil production.

For eight years, OPEC never cut its oil production despite declining oil prices to protect its global market share under intense pressure from huge shale oil supply from the US. In November 2016, OPEC finally blinked and decided to cut their collective oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) hoping for an increase in oil prices. Non-OPEC countries like Russia and Mexico made an agreement with OPEC to cut output by another 0.56 mbpd, for a total projected output cutback of about 1.8 mbpd. So far, price impact was marginal as oil prices before this OPEC decision was already touching $50 a barrel. But once US shale oil output ramps up, this marginal price increase can easily be reversed.

  1. More wind-solar means more expensive electricity in selected countries in Europe.

The numbers below show that countries with expensive electricity (1-5) have zero or little nuclear power, have high wind power (except Belgium and Italy), and high solar capacity (except Spain). And cheaper electricity countries (6-10) have high nuclear power (except UK and Netherlands) and low wind (except Sweden), low solar capacity (see Table 1).

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  1. By 2040, 46% of global energy demand will come from Asia Pacific.

Based on a recent report by Exxon Mobil which grabbed global energy headlines, it said that it expects China, India, and the rest of Asia Pacific (including Japan, ASEAN, and Australia) will increase its global share of total energy demand from 234 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUS) in 2015 to 322 quadrillion BTUs by 2040. The percentage share of the region will rise from 41% of global demand in 2015 to 46% by 2040. In contrast, the share of EU and the US combined will shrink from 28% in 2015 to only 22% by 2040 (see Table 2).

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  1. By 2040, wind, solar, biomass, other renewables will contribute only 11% of total global power generation.

Coal will remain the dominant source in power generation worldwide by 2040 but its share will decline from 44% in 2015 to 34% by 2040. The share of natural gas and nuclear power combined will increase from 38% in 2015 to 45% by 2040. The share of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewables will marginally increase from 6% in 2015 to 11% by 2040, despite all the political noise worldwide that these renewables will get “cheaper than coal” and attain “grid parity” with conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

PHILIPPINES

  1. Search for an Independent Market Operator (IMO) of WESM.

In the last Congress, then Sen. Serge Osmeña, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy conducted a series of meetings until January 2016 about the absence of an IMO that is supposed to manage the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). The Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) as market operator of WESM remains weird because (a) PEMC Board is chaired by the DoE Secretary, many board members are government officials; (b) Even the supposed four independent directors plus consumer representative (5 total) are all appointed by the DoE Secretary; and (c) PEMC is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which is under the administrative control of the DoE Secretary, who chairs the PEMC that is regulated by ERC.

  1. WESM Mindanao, IMEM.

Aside from issues on the new Market Management System (MMS) for WESM rules and the transition to a real IMO, the move to create a WESM in Mindanao via the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) is gaining ground. The Mindanao dispatch protocol will have to be spelled out in detail too.

  1. Imposition of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

In June 2016, the DoE issued a draft Department Circular (DC) on RPS, a provision in the RE Act of 2008 (RA 9513) that “requires electricity suppliers to source an agreed portion of their energy supply from eligible RE resources.” This RPS will result in more expensive electricity because wind, solar, biomass, and small hydro that are not given feed in tariff (FiT) privilege of guaranteed price for 20 years can demand higher price for their energy output because distribution utilities will have zero choice but buy from them otherwise the DoE will penalize them.

The draft DC wanted an initial “2.15% to be applied to the total supply portfolio of the Mandated Participant in each grid.” When asked what will be the projected price implication of such policy, DoE and National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) officials answered that no study on price implications has been made yet. A weird proposal where proponents have no clear idea on the cost of implementation to energy consumers, the DC was shelved.

  1. Shift in energy mix from energy source to system capability.

During the administration of DoE Secretaries Petilla and Monsada, the DoE wanted an energy mix based on energy source or technology, 30-30-30-10 for coal-natural gas-RE-oil, respectively. This is highly distortionary because many REs are either seasonal (hydro can be baseload only during the rainy season, biomass can be baseload only if feedstock is available) or intermittent like wind and solar. New DoE Secretary Cusi changed the energy mix based on system capability: 70-20-10 for base load-mid merit-peaking plants, respectively. This is a more rational mixture.

  1. Endless demand for expanded, higher feed in tariff (FiT).

As more solar farms and wind farms are constructed nationwide, their developers and owners are lobbying hard for an expanded FiT 2 with guaranteed price for 20 years. Even geothermal developers also lobbied that their new plants should also be given FiT. Currently, three wind developers — Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corporation (TAREC), Alternergy Wind One Corporation (AWOC), and Petrowind Energy, Inc. (PWEI) are petitioning the ERC that their FiT rate be raised from P7.40/kWh to P7.93/kWh. Three wind farms were lucky or favored to get P8.53/kWh under the original FiT — EDC Burgos (Lopez group), Northern Luzon UPC Caparispisan (Ayala group) and Northwind Power Bangui (partly Ayala).

Europe’s rising electricity prices as more wind and solar are added into the grid

More wind and solar plants, more expensive electricity. This is shown in Europe (this graph), shown in the PH. Feed in tariff (FIT) rates will rise from 4 centavos/kWh in 2015, 12.40 centavos in 2016, to 23-25 centavos/kWh this year.

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Source: http://euanmearns.com/green-mythology-and-the-high-price-of-european-electricity/

Another data from Euan Mearns. Left chart is for industrial customers, right chart for household/residential customers.

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Source: http://euanmearns.com/energy-prices-in-europe/

A friend commented that “We should treat the subsidies as state support to explore alternative energy sources.”

It is not “state support” but “consumers support”. The state, the DOE or Malacanang or Congress have no money of their own. It is ultimately the consumers who pay for more expensive electricity, including those who (a) do not support more subsidies to REs in Luzon-Visayas, and (b) consumers in Mindanao who are not even members/part of WESM because Mindanao grid is not yet connected to Luzon-Visayas grids.

Imagine if only Luzon-Visayas consumers pay for FIT here, the price would have been about 18 centavos/kWh last year and could be 28 centavos/kWh this year. Remember also that these are just “intro prices”, first 3 years of FIT implementation with 17 more years for existing RE plants and with with RE plants added to the grid plus FIT price escalation, expect 30, 50 centavos/kWh or more in the coming years, FIT alone. Eh current WESM prices are only about P2.80/kWh, why do we pay P9+, P10+/kWh for wind and solar? Fluctuating pa every minute, every second.

Look at Europe again, the charts above. They have the longest system of subsidies for renewables, perhaps for the past 20 or 30 years. RE prices coming down? No, the opposite happens, (a) prices keep rising, and (b) grid instability rising, they are talking of blackouts soon in UK, Germany, Denmark, etc. because of more wind and solar added to the grid.

Meanwhile, more news reports about RE in Europe.

(1) “The cost of the botched renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme to the Northern Ireland taxpayer will be £490m.” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-38414486

(2) “The way the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was set up in Northern Ireland meant the subsidies offered were greater than the cost of the fuel.[The scheme was run by offering £1.40 for every £1 spent on heating.]” http://www.thegwpf.com/renewable-energy-scandal-rocks-britain/

Many “more RE to save the planet” advocates say that REs like wind and solar are attaining “grid parity” and getting cheaper, more competitive. If this is true, subsidies can be cut or removed but when subsidies are cut, those REs shrink. No subsidies, cheaper electricity for consumers mean these REs will die. Case of UK.

(3) “The U.K.’s renewable and low-carbon energy sector shrank by 8.7 percent last year, partly because of cuts to subsidies. The sector, from wind farms to electric vehicles, turned over 42.2 billion pounds ($52.5 billion) in 2015, provisional figures by the Office for National Statistics showed on Friday. That’s lower than the 46.2 billion pound recorded in 2014.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-16/u-k-clean-energy-sector-shrinks-after-government-subsidy-cuts

Energy rationing, like food rationing, toilet paper rationing in socialist economies. May soon happen in industrial and former imperial power UK. And the “planet saviours” will jump with joy?

(4) “The British Infrastructure Group, led by former Conservative minister Grant Shapps, warned lights could go out across the country next winter because there is not enough spare capacity in the system to cope with higher demand. There is just 0.1 per cent spare electricity in the current system, a dangerously small amount of headroom in case of emergencies over the winter months, the report warned.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/19/electricity-bills-set-rise-30-year-power-rationed-amid-shortage/

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Trump transition team questions for US DOE

This is not directly related to energy issues in Asia but US climate and energy policies can reverberate strongly in Asia and other continents/countries. Hence, I am reposting this article by Willis Eschenbach, The DOE vs. Ugly Reality last December 10, 2016, about the 74 questions sent by Mr. Trump’s transition team to the current DOE leadership.

I think those question are frank and highly sensible. But there are many news reports attacking the letter and questions, saying they infringe on DOE scientists’ independence, etc., and they cite only a few of those 74 questions. Good work there, Willis, thank you
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usdoe1Questions for DOE

This memo, as you might expect, is replete with acronyms. “DOE” is the Department of Energy. Here are the memo questions and my comments.

  1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created?

If I were at DOE, this first question would indeed set MY hair on fire. The easiest way to get rid of something is to show that it was not properly established … boom, it’s gone. As a businessman myself, this question shows me that the incoming people know their business, and that the first order of business is to jettison the useless lumber.

  1. Can you provide a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects?

Critical information for an incoming team.

3 Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office’s outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?

4 Can you provide a list of applications for loans the LPO has received and the status of those applications?

5 Can you provide a full accounting of DOE liabilities associated with any loan or loan guarantee programs?

6 The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

Oh, man, they are going for the jugular. Loan Program Office? If there is any place that the flies would gather, it’s around the honey … it’s good to see that they are looking at loan guarantees for electric vehicles, a $4.5 billion dollar boondoggle that the government should NOT be in. I call that program the “Elon Musk Retirement Fund”.

Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … or we could put it into Elon Musk’s bank account or the account of some other electric vehicle manufacturer. I know which one I’d vote for … and I am equally sure which one the poor of the world would prefer.

7 What is the goal of the grid modernization effort? Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?

Asking the right questions about vague programs …

8 Who “owns” the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial efforts within the Department?
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