Here in Cambridge, MA we’re all too familiar with frigid winters. We may consider ourselves all-star thermostat programmers, but how many of us know in detail where the heat comes from? Most of us, knowingly or not, count on electric resistance baseboards, oil furnaces, or gas boilers to warm our homes and occupy our heating bills. But there’s another option that may be worth a look: heat pumps.

On May 1, 2018, ISO New England released its 2018 forecast for Capacity, Energy, Loads, and Transmission (CELT 2018).

Today’s electric system is almost unrecognizable from the electric system a decade ago. Generation from natural gas and renewables has accelerated to replace the rapid and unprecedented retirement of coal-fired generators. Wind, solar, and geothermal electric generating capacity in the United States has now eclipsed capacities from hydroelectric and nuclear resources combined.

With increases in renewable generation and advances in battery technology, the energy storage market has begun to take off, especially for small-scale batteries. The Tesla Powerwall battery has become a household name since its first release in 2015 and second model in November 2016. Though one of the most-recognized small-scale batteries available, the Powerwall is not alone in the expanding small-scale energy storage market.

The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change released a proposed bill today called “An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future.” It’s over 60 pages long and quite comprehensive. Here’s a hot take on several items that jumped out at me.

On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2018 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). The final AEO 2018 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. It is important to note that the AEO Reference case is not a forecast, but is instead a projection based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and currently enacted legislation.

On January 17, 2018, ISO New England (“ISO”) released a draft of its Operational Fuel Security Analysis. This study lays out many different possibilities for a 2024/25 winter, assessing the electric grid’s reliability under a varying array of assumptions. ISO’s main finding is clear: adding more renewables and more imports, and increasing the availability of LNG deliveries and backup oil during supply emergencies, will all contribute to improved system reliability.

Synapse maintains EPA’s Avoided Emissions and Generation Tool (AVERT) model, a publicly-available tool designed to estimate the emissions displaced at electric power plants by incremental additions of energy efficiency and/or renewable energy. Recently, Synapse worked with EPA to implement several upgrades to the AVERT framework, including incorporation of particulate matter (PM2.5) into the tool and several algorithmic improvements. In addition, the release of the 2016 data year means that a full decade of AVERT data is now publicly available.

Congratulations to Frank Ackerman on the release of his new book, Worst-Case Economics: Extreme Events in Climate and Finance! Juliet Schor describes it as "highly accessible but profound," and Samuel Bowles calls it "an important book and a delight to read." Dr. Ackerman will be doing a talk about the book at the Synapse office next Monday, December 4th at 7pm. Those of you in the Boston area won't want to miss this unique opportunity. We hope to see you there!


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