John Carrington is CEO and director of Stem
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Fewer than 100 days into his administration, President Biden’s sense of urgency in tackling local weather points and driving a clear power revolution is obvious. Here’s a take a look at how key current developments in power and local weather — together with exceptional clear power progress beneath dire circumstances — will result in actual and sustainable breakthroughs in 2021 and past
Local weather: Undeniably, inescapably a top-tier concern
Wildfires devastated the Western U.S. final yr and broke information in California, the place Bay Space residents awoke to darkened, smoke-filled orange skies final September. On the East Coast, tens of millions sat in darkness within the wake of Hurricane Isaias some eight years after Superstorm Sandy’s supposed wake-up name.
Occasions like these make it more and more tough for policymakers, regulators and electrical utilities to keep away from appropriate responses. Individuals need solutions, accountability and a dependable grid, significantly in California, the place longstanding reliability fears manifested in rolling blackouts. In New York, prospects anticipated resilience advantages and enhancements that did not materialize since Hurricane Sandy, regardless of billions in ratepayer funding.
Regardless of shopper outcry, states have failed virtually completely in crafting plans to supply a extra resilient grid. California regulators, given giant local weather and resilience ambitions, proceed to steer different states, however nonetheless have room to enhance in coverage proposals largely depending on fossil fuels.
We have to do higher in 2021. Clear resilience options exist and are already defending communities throughout the nation, with solar-plus-storage offering secure, dependable backup energy and delivering year-round advantages.
It’s time for policymakers to convey these threads collectively, declare an affirmative, proactive imaginative and prescient for his or her state’s electrical energy system and problem a roadmap to attain this goal.
A federal authorities unbound for motion
Nowhere is the chance to shift from speak to motion extra evident than on the federal stage. President Biden will enter workplace with sudden Democratic majorities in each homes of Congress. The U.S. doesn’t have a nationwide power coverage, however a pair key choices at a federal stage will speed up state actions and pursuits.
Time and expertise have validated Biden’s message on clear power — it creates jobs and addresses the local weather disaster — whereas the prices of local weather inaction have solely turn out to be clearer.
Clear power infrastructure funding is subsequently central to Biden’s plan to spice up the economic system by good power storage, renewables and electrical automobiles (EVs), uncared for by Washington lately.
A Biden administration might additionally use its affect to additional one other of 2020’s breakthrough concepts: time-matched renewable power credit, mentioned under.
Relating to federal regulation of wholesale power markets, the rationale behind FERC Order 2222, arguably final yr’s largest coverage improvement, was refreshingly financial and apolitical: excluding distributed power sources (DERs) from wholesale markets falsely limits competitors and raises costs. Going ahead, Order 2222 will allow DERs to convey new renewable capability on-line rapidly when and the place they out-compete conventional fossil era.
Anticipate favorable Order 2222 implementation beneath new FERC management and maybe renewed curiosity in points, like carbon pricing, which have encountered headwinds beforehand.
On the very least, the extension of the federal photo voltaic ITC and new R&D funding for power storage, not too long ago signed into legislation beneath the omnibus spending invoice, are shades of higher issues to return. Prioritization of a federal stand-alone storage ITC can drive important progress within the renewable power transformation.
Constructing on speedy, unpredictable state progress
Final yr additionally confirmed that change can occur quick, particularly on the state stage. California’s new EV mandate — all new passenger automobiles and vans, and over half of medium- and heavy-duty automobiles, should be emissions-free by 2035 — will catalyze huge EV infrastructure funding, beginning now to allow interim targets in simply three years.
Virginia enacted sweeping laws requiring 100% zero-carbon electrical energy by 2050, becoming a member of a half-dozen different states with related targets. If this will occur virtually in a single day in a state the place boundaries to scrub power had been in depth, it might probably occur wherever. Arizona appears to be setting its personal 100% goal and different states will little doubt comply with.
However as vital as targets are it actually must be about execution. Virginia’s draft laws on its power storage goal, for instance, fall wanting the ambition and urgency contained within the laws and the state’s give attention to large-scale, entrance of meter installations ignores the necessity to present prospects with clear power choices and resilience options that strengthen the distribution system.
The continued evolution of company clear power management
Coverage helps drive markets, however enterprise wants will at all times outpace grid infrastructure and the regulatory setting.
Google’s announcement final fall that it might start sourcing 24×7 carbon-free power is the most recent step within the evolution of company clear power demand that has lengthy offered progressive, decisive assist for renewables tasks past insurance policies and mandates.
Conversely, complying with California’s new EV order would require logistics and different corporations to develop new methods for charging infrastructure and fleet administration effectively past any assist regulation might present however throughout the timeframe of auto leases they’re signing right now.
The answer set for these corporations, that are each driving grid transformation, wish to get monetary savings on power and take part in markets, is clever power infrastructure. It’s not nearly renewables, power storage, or having resilient, dependable energy; it’s about the entire above, and growing a sturdy, adaptable company power technique.
Company leaders can draw from profitable expertise within the know-how business. On the daybreak of the ‘90s, tech was fragmented, with unsophisticated customers counting on disparate, single-purpose purposes and unsophisticated patrons making enormous buying choices in a silo. Recognizing the extravagant waste of all this, corporations created the chief info officer position and the networking revolution was born.
Vitality has begun an identical transformation, with parts of a networked, clever infrastructure coming into view and corporations growing an incipient consciousness of the price of project-by-project considering. Aware of CIOs’ affect, corporations have began creating the chief power officer or chief sustainability officer roles to foster a standard power technique and drive complete, built-in options throughout the enterprise.
The drivers reworking our power system — compelling financial advantages from new applied sciences, shopper demand for clear power, and broad concern about impacts from excessive climate occasions, to call a couple of — are right here to remain. Regardless of a tough yr we made nice progress in 2020. And with an incoming administration decided to stimulate the economic system and create jobs leveraging clear power funding, momentum will solely enhance.
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As CEO and Director, John Carrington leads the power storage and analytics motion at Stem. He got here to Stem from MiaSole, the world’s largest CIGS-based skinny movie photo voltaic firm, the place he was CEO and Director, and beforehand held management positions and First Photo voltaic and Normal Electrical.