Consumer Interest in EVs Rising, Cost Still a Barrier
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Consumer demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is up, with 41 percent of U.S. drivers saying they would consider an alternative to a gas-powered car for their next vehicle, according to Deloitte's annual Global Automotive Consumer Survey. That's an increase from 29 percent among U.S. drivers the previous year. Range remains one of the largest concerns among American drivers about electric vehicles (EVs), with 45 percent citing it as a reason traditional gas-powered cars are better.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently highlighted the increasing interest in energy storage across the United States and the role it may play in the future of the electric grid. NREL noted that the price of lithium-ion batteries has decreased by approximately 80 percent over the past five years and that the United States saw a 93 percent year-over-year increase in storage deployed in the third quarter of 2019. According to a forecast by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, annual storage deployments in the United States will reach more than 5.4 gigawatts by 2024.
It is unsurprising to utility professionals that the uptake of DERs – such as smart thermostats, electric vehicles, solar PV, and batteries – is continuing to surge. Over the next five years, Navigant estimates utilities in North America will spend around $1B on residential DER programs, which Wood Mackenzie expects could unlock an additional 50GW of flexibility in the U.S. power system. While promising, can utilities combine the use of these resources to further maximize the benefits?
The last several years of hurricane seasons have been eventful, and 2019 proved to be no different. The 14 named storms caused more than $11 billion in damage. Of the five named hurricanes, Dorian and Lorenzo reached Category 5 strength. The increasing frequency and strength of storms means that electric utilities are faced with damage to their systems and the need to restore service as quickly as possible.
U.S. electric companies have installed 98 million smart meters through the end of 2019, according to a new report from the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI). The report – Electric Company Smart Meter Deployments: Foundation for a Smart Grid — projects that the number of installed smart meters will rise to 107 million by the end of 2020. Currently, they cover more than 70 percent of all U.S. households. The report also looks at how the technology associated with smart meters provides benefits to customers.
Sophie Hackford is clear that she doesn’t see her role as a futurist to be one where she makes predictions about the future. Instead, she tries to force people to think about how technology that exists today — but is in use in other industries — could soon impact their operations. “The future of the utility industry won’t look like today’s utility industry,” she said in an interview. “It will look like something completely different. And the point is it’s very difficult when you are in that space to look at things that don’t look like you because your everyday is stuck in your everyday.”
Hawaiian Electric reached an agreement with Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) on a power purchase agreement that will expand its renewable portfolio to 70 percent. The agreement on an amended contract was filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 31, 2019, and is currently under review. The contract calls for an upgrade of the 38-megawatt geothermal facility, which will produce an additional 8 megawatts of renewable energy. Once the upgrade is completed, the average residential bill will drop about $7.50 a month starting in 2022. By 2023, the average bill will decrease $13 a month.
Google and Nevada utility NV Energy have joined up on an energy supply agreement to power an under-construction data center outside Las Vegas, with future capacity that rivals the largest corporate solar power-purchase agreement announced to date in the U.S. NV Energy plans to procure 350 megawatts of solar and between 250 and 280 megawatts of storage to serve the Google facility in Henderson, Nevada.