Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for the global coal industry?

While the Australian Coalition Government keep its head deeply buried in the sand on climate change policy and the future of fossil fuels the world has quietly begun to by-pass coal, one of this country’s biggest exports.

Senate Bill 1547 (ELIMINATION OF COAL FROM ELECTRICITY SUPPLY) passed the Oregon House of Representatives on a 39-20 bipartisan vote on 16 February 2016 and re-passed the Senate on 2 March 2016:

Requires each electric company providing electricity to retail electricity consumers located in this state to eliminate coal-fired resources from electric company's electricity supply. 
Clarifies that term "public utility" does not include people's utility district or electric cooperative for purpose of being regulated by Public Utility Commission. Allows Public Utility Commission to consider net gain or loss of sale of coal-fired resources for certain allocations to retail electricity consumers. Modifies qualifying electricity for purposes of renewable portfolio standards. Changes compliance requirements for renewable portfolio standards. Makes other changes to provisions setting forth renewable portfolio standards. Permits carry forward of certain renewable energy certificates for specified periods. Provides rules on application of renewable portfolio standards when electric utilities acquire service territory. Permits commission to approve cost recovery for costs related to renewable energy storage. Provides process to address conflicts between requirements for electric company to comply with renewable portfolio standards and reliability standards of North American Electric Reliability Corporation. Changes goal to acquire electricity from community-based renewable energy projects to requirement to acquire such electricity. Expands sources that qualify for community-based renewable energy projects to include facilities that generate electricity using biomass and that also generate thermal energy for secondary purpose. Directs commission to establish stranded cost obligation associated with condemnation of or transaction related to service territory or property of electric company. Requires public utilities to annually forecast projected state and federal production tax credits received due to variable renewable electricity production. Clarifies that term "public utility" does not include people's utility district or electric cooperative for purposes of being regulated by Public Utility Commission. Requires each electric company to file applications with commission for programs to accelerate transportation electrification. Allows return of and return on investment made by electric company for purposes of program. Directs commission to establish program for creation of community solar projects. Repeals minimum solar energy capacity standard for electric companies. Declares emergency, effective on passage.”

The Guardian, 4 March 2016:

Oregon has become the first US state to pass laws to rid itself of coal, committing to eliminate the use of coal-fired power by 2035 and to double the amount of renewable energy in the state by 2040.
Legislation passed by the state’s assembly, which will need to be signed into law by Governor Kate Brown, will transition Oregon away from coal, which currently provides around a third of the state’s electricity supply.
At the same time, the state will also require its two largest utilities to increase their share of clean energy, such as solar and wind, to 50% by 2040. Combined with Oregon’s current hydroelectric output, the state will be overwhelmingly powered by low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels.
Climate campaigners said the legislation was a landmark moment and showed that the US was moving rapidly towards renewables, despite the temporary block placed by the supreme court on the Obama administration’s clean power plan…..

In December 2015 the Ontario Ministry of Energy in Canada announced The End Of Coal:

Coal went from 25% of Ontario’s supply mix in 2003 to zero in 2014, all while grid reliability and domestic supply improved. The elimination of coal stands as the single largest GHG emissions reduction action on the continent and was primarily responsible for Ontario achieving its ambitious 2014 emissions reduction target of 6% below 1990 levels.
The elimination of coal-fired electricity was a shared effort between the Ontario Ministry of Energy and two of its agencies:
* Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the largest generator of electricity in the province, primarily through hydroelectric and nuclear sites.
* The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), whose duties include both procuring electricity supply and planning the electricity system over the long-term…..
Today….Ontario has more than 14,800 MW of wind, solar, bioenergy, and hydroelectric energy online, and almost 3,000 MW of renewable energy projects contracted and under development. 20,000 MW of renewable energy will be online by 2025, representing about half of Ontario’s installed capacity…..

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