Kevin’s Daily Digest, 5/19/16

The Daily Digest, published Monday-Friday, focuses on the latest news in renewables, storage and electric vehicles. For more follow me on Twitter @kkchristy. The Digest archive and the rest of my Medium content is here.

Author’s note: Today I’m moving to a new format, which involves fewer links and more perspective. I welcome your feedback.

Perspective: When there’s no incentive to do the right thing, there’s no market for doing the right thing. We don’t price carbon or other pollutants, we don’t assign a value to avoiding the costs of climate change remediation, and we under-price Western water. All of these mean that the market fails to measure the value of what solar energy delivers to society, and we constrain ourselves to very unsatisfying attempts to value solar energy’s various grid impacts — and increasingly, we obsess about duck curves and Nessie curves which leads otherwise very sensible and knowledgeable industry analysts like the team at GTM to conclude that solar’s only hope is to get even cheaper. I would say our best hope is to assign a value to positive exernalities and let the market deliver the solutions. In that world, solar energy would play an even much larger role than what we forecast today, and various storage and grid management solutions will deal with the “too much solar problem” that many find so perplexing.

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Perspective: Further to the point above, there is a real value to avoiding the infrastructure and human costs of climate change. All we need to do is to make a market for that outcome and human ingenuity will deliver, as it always does when incentives are aligned.

Perspective: You have to be willfully ignorant or a liar to deny the increasingly abundant evidence that climate change is not only real, but a real and present danger. And the leadership of one of our two national parties is in total denial. I fear sometimes that some may perceive my criticisms of the GOP on this front as being partisan point-scoring, but it isn’t. I just don’t see how we can take on this fight with our right hand tied behind our back. The GOP has to come around, and soon.

Perspective: Tesla needs serious capital to scale as an auto manufacturer. Per the article: “The capital raise was expected. Sooner is better than later and the amount is just right,” said analyst Ben Kallo of Robert W. Baird & Co. “It removes an overhang on the stock.”

Perspective: As depressing as our new climate reality can be, I am encouraged by our ability to combat it with what’s in our existing toolbox. To hype today’s theme, it’s a matter of aligning the incentives. But here’s some encouraging results from NOAA’s study: “Even in a scenario where renewable energy costs more than experts predict, the model produced a system that cuts CO2 emissions 33 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and delivered electricity at about 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour. By comparison, electricity cost 9.4 cents per kWh in 2012.” I’m left wondering why Bill Gates still seeks the Holy Grail; seems to me we’ve already found it.

Perspective: It’s time to step up procurement and stay ahead of the curve, and we need more storage and grid management tools along the way. It’s time to step that up too. Just listen to how these utility executives shrug and sigh when asked about taking California to 50% renewable energy — basically, no problem. Believe me, back in the early 2000s this was a real cause for anxiety for the industry establishment, and the initial 20% RPS was viewed as a potential catastrophe waiting to happen.

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