Market conditions will continue to drive a movement toward de-carbonization of the nation’s electric grid despite the rescinding of stringent anti-pollution measures put in place by former President Obama, noted panelists at the 2017 Austin Electric Conference. Experts drawn from academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations engaged in a debate of economic, engineering, legal, and policy issues related to a steep growth trajectory in renewable energy that poses challenges for electric grid operators, regulators, policymakers, and industry participants. Read more.
UT Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology has created a new radio program – EarthDate – that introduces listeners to many of the planet’s intricate geologic and atmospheric workings and complexities in two-minute episodes narrated by the Bureau’s Director, Dr. Scott Tinker. The program will feature 13 new installments each quarter and will draw on experts around the world, including researchers from the Jackson School of Geosciences, of which the Bureau is a major research unit. Listeners can enjoy the first 10 two-minute episodes of EarthDate free of charge.
New research from UT Austin examines the effect of increased amounts of renewable energy on electric grid reliability and the status of nuclear and coal-fired power plants. In a new op-ed published in The Conversation, Energy Institute Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Joshua Rhodes, Institute Deputy Director Dr. Michael Webber, Institute Research Associate Dr. Todd Davidson and Graduate Research Assistant Thomas Deetjen note that significant amounts of solar power would increase annual grid management costs by $10 million, while reducing annual wholesale electricity costs by $900 million. The article also points out that new natural gas combined cycle power plants can be built for about one-sixth the cost of a new nuclear plant, are almost twice as efficient, and can be added in smaller increments, making them easier to finance. For more, read the entire op-ed and coverage of this new research in Vox.
The nation’s electric utilities will have trouble making a profit in a future dominated by widespread adoption of rooftop solar and other Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), writes Energy Institute Research Fellow Roger Duncan in a new op-ed. The article features findings from a report prepared by LBJ School of Public Affairs students participating in a Public Policy Research course Duncan co-taught this spring with Energy Institute Assistant Director for Policy Studies Dr. Fred Beach. Students examined six new and proposed business models and analyzed each of them with respect to how they recovered fixed costs, made a profit, incentivized DERs, engaged customers, and other issues. For more, read the entire op-ed and the students’ report, which is a part of the Energy Institute’s comprehensive “Full Cost of Electricity” study.
UT Austin’s Center for Energy Economics has undertaken a holistic, multi‐jurisdictional analysis of the U.S electric power industry in a period of transformative change. The Center, a unit in the Bureau of Economic Geology within the Jackson School of Geosciences, delves into the complex web of technological advances relating to both supply and demand and examines what is achievable within the construct of competitive markets. For more, read the Center’s research, which describes experts’ views on market structures, with a focus on the future of competitive electricity markets.
LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Dr. Heath Prince will lead a team of graduate students in a new Public Research Project sponsored by the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute (TEPRI), an Austin-based non-profit organization dedicated to addressing a growing energy-poverty nexus in Texas. Researchers will help identify Texas’ low-income energy customers and help develop sustainable solutions designed to mitigate their home energy costs and associated hardships. Read more about the project here.
Senior Research Scientist & Associate Director
Institute for Geophysics | Jackson School of Geosciences
By Gary Rasp
Reared in a family steeped in the Humanities, geophysicist Cliff Frohlich reflected early on that it might be wise for him to look elsewhere for his life calling.
As an elementary school student, Frohlich had shown a noticeable aptitude for math, and recognized he might be better suited for the world of numbers and calculations. [Read more…]
by UT Energy Journalism Fellow Lorne Matalon for NPR Fronteras Desk (listen here)
MEXICO CITY—The dream of a unified North American electricity grid could not have been contemplated until Mexico’s electricity market was opened to foreign companies in 2014. Today larger scale volumes of electricity are flowing in both directions across the Mexico-United States border. The United States and Canada have long established interconnections and proponents of a unified grid are heralding Mexico’s nascent energy reform as a potential pathway to seamless transmission between the three North American nations. There are currently 11 sets of transmission lines straddling the Mexico-U.S. border. Mexico’s senior energy decision makers and industry executives are working with American counterparts to expand that footprint. Mexican politicians who support energy reform said that Mexico’s energy reform will usher in interconnections with the U.S. on a far grander scale. Consumers in both countries stand to benefit benefit because higher volumes of electricity should push prices down. [Read more…]
Market conditions will continue to drive a movement toward de-carbonization of the nation’s electric grid despite the rescinding of stringent anti-pollution measures put in place by former President Obama, noted panelists at the 2017 Austin Electric Conference. Experts drawn from academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations engaged in a debate of economic, engineering, legal, and policy issues related to a steep growth trajectory in renewable energy that poses challenges for electric grid operators, regulators, policymakers, and industry participants. [Read more…]
By Roger Duncan
Due to a variety of factors largely outside of their control, the traditional business model for the nation’s investor-owned electric utilities is in trouble. Deep trouble. [Read more…]