Beaten by solar on price_ why natural gas is next fossil fuel to go _ renew economy

The utility-scale solar industry used to have to compete against a “Market Price Referent” (MPR: the cost of an average natural gas contract). The idea was that, if a solar PPA could be priced at the same or less than a typical natural gas PPA, then it was considered competitive. Gas and electric credit union Utilities in California are required by regulators to choose the cheapest option in contracting for electricity.

The MPR back then, in California, was 9 cents a kWh. Gas works park events Beating that price with 2009-era solar was a struggle, but prices dropped so fast as more solar was deployed that, if the MPR were still being used, it would appear that solar would simply beat gas on price.

Now that solar PPAs are being signed at less than half that old MPR, all of a sudden it is quite difficult to find any MPR or any gas PPAs to compare prices. MPR figures are no longer used in comparing solar to natural gas. Grade 6 electricity project ideas Solar at 3 Cents per kWh Beats Gas

In the US, First Solar, SunPower, and several other key utility-scale players have been building utility-scale solar in the US3 cent range since 2015. Gas bloating diarrhea Even smaller municipal utilities have been able to procure solar at 3 cents a kilowatt-hour (for example, the city utilities of Austin and Palo Alto).

When a utility signs a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for a renewable source like solar that has no fuel cost, the utility simply pays a pre-agreed rate per kilowatt-hour for the next 25 years.

Mike Jacobs, who leads regulatory reform of electricity markets as senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, had a good analogy. Gas or electricity for heating He likened payment of a natural gas contract to the way you rent a car, where you pay one daily rate to have the car available to you, but on top of that, you also buy gas to run the car every day.

“The same way as cars are rented, in fossil fuel contracts, there is the set daily rate for the machine, and on top of that there is an unknown variable: the price of natural gas over the 20 year contract,” Jacobs told CleanTechnica. Thermal electricity how it works “Because of the unpredictable aspect of natural gas prices, that fuel cost is usually reimbursed after the fact by ratepayers.”

This after-the-fact reimbursement by ratepayers of the final actually-paid natural gas prices is a very murky area of natural gas contracts. Types of electricity pdf Essentially, the utilities ask regulators for reimbursement by ratepayers, but as a part of a bundle that is part of a much larger reimbursement package. Electricity in india first time Insiders say that it is not easy to discern what actual price was paid for natural gas.

Nancy LaPlaca, principal of energy consultancy LaPlaca & Associates, told CleanTechnica: “If we don’t have someone really looking at this stuff, it’s very easy for the utility to hide a lot of costs and to stick it in rate base, because rate bases are extremely complex. Electricity questions and answers pdf Frankly, I don’t think anybody really even knows what’s in there.”

After many inquiries of the three utilities and the California Public Utility Commission, I discovered that the “machine” cost is also not public. Q gases componen el aire At first, I was told that there is a three-year privacy protection, but even older gas contracts turned out not to be publicly available, unlike solar PPAs which frequently are public the week they are signed.

Another consideration for utilities, as they compare solar or gas contracts, is the newly revealed risk of gas leaks from pipelines or underground storage. Gas buddy Gas Leaks a PR Nightmare

Gas-fired electricity has two economic risks: the unknown future fuel cost compared to one-price solar, and the risks when storing large volumes of natural gas underground near population centers.

Aliso Canyon woke the general public to a nightmare scenario. La gasolina letra Because natural gas–fired power plants are near cities, the fuel is stored in close proximity to large population centers. Grade 6 electricity unit Natural gas must be contained in gigantic caverns under the ground.

When Aliso Canyon blew a leak in 2015, which peaked at more than 60,000 kilograms per hour, more than 8,000 residents had to be relocated for their immediate safety at SoCalGas’ expense. Electricity grid map uk Residents have sued. The relocation cost is now estimated to top $665 million.

Barium sulfate and other metals — used in well drilling and forced down wells to stop leaks — have contaminated curtains, sofas, bedding, and carpets in the homes in the area. Electricity cost by state So there will be more cleanup costs in addition to the relocation costs.

When the population of Southern California was much lower, natural gas was stored in large holding tanks. Electricity dance moms choreography But by the early 1940s, SoCalGas had to switch to underground storage.

SoCalGas now has four large underground caverns created by what is left behind after an oil field has being hollowed out by oil extraction. E seva power bill payment Natural gas is stored underground in 326 depleted oil fields nationwide, as well as in 31 salt caverns and 43 aquifers.

Surprisingly, the EIA brought attention to the dependency on this weak link in natural gas infrastructure with a rare warning: Natural gas leak at California storage site raises environmental and reliability concerns .

“Energy companies, system operators, and government officials are also interested in the leak’s potential reliability implications during the upcoming periods of high natural gas demand (this summer, next winter), and in identifying possible actions to mitigate any reliability concerns. Electric utility companies in arizona It is not yet clear how much storage capacity will be available at the Aliso Canyon facility, and in what timeframe, once the leak is stopped.”

Inside Climate News noted that there is a high risk of future Aliso Canyon disasters due to the wear and tear on this aging oil-field infrastructure. Just this week, PG&E has shut down another underground storage site that has sprung a leak, albeit not on the same scale.

In describing a future energy supply of renewables with storage, the chief development officer at SDG&E, James Avery, told the Energy Storage North America conference in San Diego: