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Article courtesy of RMI.
By Katie Siegnerm, Mark Dyson, & Gabriella Tosado

Despite serving only 13 percent of US electricity load, electric cooperatives loom large in conversations about the US energy system’s past, present, and future. The initial vision for nonprofit electric co-ops dates back to the New Deal, when the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 authorized the creation of co-ops to serve rural areas bypassed by the larger electricity providers of the time. Today, 832 distribution co-ops and 63 generation and transmission (G&T) co-ops still serve the majority of rural America, including more than 90 percent of persistent poverty counties (counties with at least 20 percent of their population living in poverty).

As the energy transition ramps up, bringing the benefits of low-cost renewable energy to more and more places, electric co-ops the opportunity to replace their aging coal fleets with wind and solar projects. This can lower electric bills and drive rural economic development in areas that need it.

“If You Know One Co-op…”

Through several years of engagements with co-op leadership and stakeholders, we have learned that electric co-ops face unique and varied constraints as well as incentives when it comes to decarbonizing their generation mix. Co-ops have lagged other utilities in retiring their coal plants, although a spate of coal retirement announcements and emissions reduction goals set by several prominent G&Ts in the past year indicates they may be closing that gap. A combination of rapidly falling costs for renewable energy and battery storage technologies, state climate policy, and member demand for carbon-free electricity is driving that shift.

Nonetheless, a number of G&T co-ops are continuing to operate aging and increasingly uneconomic coal plants without plans for their retirement. This can be due to the nature of some co-op financing structures as well as regulatory and governance models that muddy the economic signal for retirement. For example, coal plants may have undepreciated value that the G&Ts are seeking to recover, and in some cases, they act as the collateral on G&T debt obligations, making their retirement a risk to lenders.

What’s more, co-ops’ nonprofit status limits their ability to take advantage of existing tax credits for wind and solar development. And G&Ts with a history of asset ownership may be reluctant to shift toward greater shares of third-party-owned generation (e.g., wind and solar projects contracted for through power purchase agreements).

In short, co-ops’ situations and needs are as varied as the geographies they serve — as the saying goes, “if you know one co-op, then you know one co-op.” As such, there hasn’t yet been a silver bullet approach that can overcome the barriers to full co-op participation in the clean energy transition.

Federal Policy Can Support and Speed the Co-op Energy Transition

Policy intervention can smooth the path forward for the cooperative energy transition by allowing G&Ts to retire uneconomic coal and replace their fossil generation with clean energy alternatives. This could spur rural economic development and clean tech asset ownership opportunities while at the same time lowering member electricity bills.

Today, federal policymakers have the opportunity to facilitate a coal-to-clean transition among electric co-ops through investment that incents co-ops to retire their coal assets and replace them with renewable generation. The White House includes funding for transitioning rural co-ops to clean energy in its American Jobs Plan, and additional proposals outline incentives that would be available to co-ops for each kW of coal that they replace with clean energy. These proposals also provide direct support to impacted coal plant and mine communities.

The replacement of rural cooperative coal with wind and solar would yield economic development benefits stemming from the construction and operation of those projects, largely in rural communities. Our analysis shows that the tax revenues, land lease payments, and wages generated by these projects, in addition to their low-cost electricity, have the potential to more than offset any cost of the policy.

Planting Seeds of Opportunity in Co-op Territory

To quantify the benefits that might accrue to rural communities from a policy that facilitates co-op coal retirement and re-investment in clean energy, we developed estimates for the direct local revenues that new wind and solar projects could produce in the states where the coal was retired based on our Seeds of Opportunity report methodology. The analysis uses the capacity expansion model from UC-Berkeley and GridLab’s 2035 Report to estimate the share of wind and solar projects that would be built in a particular state, as well as the report’s state-level capacity factors for wind and solar.

While we assumed full generation replacement with wind and solar, the economic development benefits could vary based on the actual choices co-ops make upon retiring their coal fleets. For instance, the addition of battery storage, transmission assets, energy efficiency projects, and other clean energy technologies that might be needed could yield additional revenue streams and energy bill savings over and above what is captured here.

The coal plants captured in this analysis are at least partially owned by co-ops and extend across 23 states and 33 co-op territories. Arkansas and North Dakota, the two states with the most coal plants (five each) that might take advantage of federal policy incentives to retire, could see $4.8 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, from replacing their co-op coal generation with new wind and solar projects.

In Ohio, retiring the 1,265 MW Cardinal coal plant could spur over 4,000 MW of wind and solar project development, contributing nearly $2 billion in revenues to the state’s rural economy. Florida’s even larger Seminole coal plant, should it utilize federal policy incentives to retire, could pave the way for 4,400 MW of solar projects that would generate $2.3 billion in economic development to rural parts of the state.

The map and table below illustrate the location of all coal plants with a share of co-op ownership and the new wind and solar capacity that would be needed to offset each plant’s 2019 annual generation. We then show the economic development that these projects would produce over the course of their lifetimes.

Click image for full table as PDF.

We recognize that coal plant retirements raise questions about maintaining the reliability of the local electric grid. The wind and solar replacement capacity modeled here indicates what would be needed to fully replace the annual generation of the retiring coal, but of course, the grid reliability considerations are more complex.

In some cases, the co-op territory or region may have excess capacity on the system, which is a fairly prevalent characteristic of regional grids, as we document in a recent white paper. This makes replacement capacity unnecessary. In other cases, the co-op may need new capacity as well as other grid resources such as flexible demand or storage to maintain system reliability. These solutions will be developed on a co-op-by-co-op basis — what is shown here is the local economic upside that any new renewables capacity would bring.

Co-ops Can Be Renewable Energy Leaders

Co-ops are poised to play a leading role in enabling rural America to reap the benefits of wind and solar development. Federal policy that unlocks this potential is likely to see a strong return on investment in the form of jobs and revenues flowing to rural residents, landowners, and communities.

A $10 billion investment to support co-ops’ energy transition efforts as contemplated in the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan would yield just over $50 billion in wind and solar-induced economic development revenues — benefits five times greater than the cost of the policy. Coupled with the lower operating cost of renewable energy and transition support to impacted communities, a modest federal incentive could provide outsized economic benefits to rural communities and position cooperatives to be renewable energy leaders.


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This guy built a six-seater electric bike for $150, and it absolutely rips

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This guy built a six-seater electric bike for 0, and it absolutely rips

I’ve always enjoyed multi-seater electric bikes, which bring passenger-carrying utility to small-format, easy-to-produce vehicles. But I never thought I’d see the concept taken this far. At least not until I stumbled upon a six-seater electric bike that has me all kinds of jealous.

It’s no surprise where this custom e-bike originated. If you want to see the most creative and ingenious transportation solutions in the world, you have to head over to Asia.

The Chinese often get a lot of credit for some of the more wacky vehicles popping up on Alibaba, but India usually takes the cake with some of the coolest auto and motorcycle innovation on the planet. And that’s exactly where this impressive six-seater bike comes from, where it was hand-built by Ashhad Abdullah from Lohra in eastern India.

Abdullah seems to have caught my recent Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week entry for a three-seater electric bike and said “Hold my lassi.”

Flip-flops and no helmets, but at least he’s wearing a mask!

Instead of a three-seater, Abdullah doubled the capacity to six seats. His stretch-limousine electric bike looks like it wears a scooter fork on front complete with drum brake, off-road lighting kit, and even a motorcycle horn. The rear seems to hold a hub motor wheel in a swingarm supported by dual coilover shocks. There’s a battery box mounted just in front of the swingarm, though how much capacity he’s rocking seems to be a mystery.

Bridging the two ends of the bike is a bespoke ladder frame with six seats, six handlebars, and six pairs of foot pegs.

There’s no word on the turning radius, but we’d wager it’s somewhere around the width of the state of Bihar.

Abdullah created the custom-designed bike after climbing fuel prices made petrol-powered motorcycles less appealing. In total, he says the bike cost him around 12,000 INR (US $150) to build.

It gets a range of around 150 km (93 miles) and costs around 10 INR (US $0.12) to recharge.

I’m not sure if this is technically an e-bike, at least by electric bicycle standards. It certainly looks like a tandem-style bicycle setup with bicycle seats, but the lack of pedals means it would be classified more like an electric scooter or motorcycle.

But whatever you call it, the six-seater bike has received a warm reception around the world.

The novel creation went viral on Twitter after a video of it in action was reposted by Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra Group, one of the largest automakers in India (and similar in size to GM).

It’s unlikely we’d see an awesome ride like this in the West, where safety regulations and an unhealthy aversion to two wheels would likely make this six-seater dead on arrival.

I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to argue with the safety concerns, especially when seeing six helmet-less heads and a few bare feet as well.

There are some good alternatives available in the US, at least if you’re alright with just two-seater e-bikes. But with options like a $999 Lectric XP 3.0 or a $1,499 RadRunner helping put more riders on smaller electric vehicles, the chances for sharing the fun on e-bikes are growing, even in laggard countries like the US.

We may never get six bodies on one bike, but even two would be a good start!

via: TimesNowNews

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Tesla launches in Thailand, opens Model 3 and Y orders at competitive prices

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Tesla launches in Thailand, opens Model 3 and Y orders at competitive prices

Tesla has officially launched in Thailand and opened orders for Model 3 and Model Y at competitive prices.

It has been a little while since Tesla has expanded into a brand-new market. The company was trying hard to enter the Indian market for years, but the effort was put on hold earlier this year after negotiations with the government stalled.

A few weeks later, we learned that Tesla’s new market team turned its attention to Southeast Asia, and more specifically Thailand.

The automaker filed to register its product for sale in the country. That was the first indication that Tesla planned to enter the market.

In September, we reported that Tesla started to hire in Thailand – indicating that a launch was imminent.

Today, Tesla has officially launched its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Thailand with a small event in a luxury mall in central Bangkok.

The automaker has started taking orders through a new Thai configurator for those two models. Tesla is offering all variants of the Model 3 and Model Y for sale in Thailand:

The Model 3 starts at ฿1,759,000 in Thailand, which is the equivalent of about $50,000 USD and fairly competitive compared to other luxury EVs in the market.

The Model Y starts ฿1,959,000, or about $58,000 USD.

Interestingly, while Tesla is starting to take orders through the new configurator, the automaker doesn’t list expected delivery windows in the country.

While we don’t know when official deliveries from Tesla will start in Thailand, there are already a decent number of Tesla electric vehicles in the country.

They have been imported privately by the owners – and that’s a factor that Tesla takes into account when considering entering a new market. If many people are willing to go through the trouble of importing the vehicle, there’s a good chance that there’s a market for its vehicles in the country.

We even reported on the Thai police buying a fleet of Tesla Model 3 vehicles for police patrol back in 2020, pictured above.

The Thai auto market is more significant than most people would think. More than 750,000 cars were sold in the market last year, and it is expected to ramp up to 800K–900K this year. However, most of those vehicles are not in the same price range as Tesla vehicles.

Thailand is also a vehicle assembly hub with up to 2 million vehicles produced locally per year.

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U.S. pledges to ramp up supplies of natural gas to Britain as Biden and Sunak seek to cut off Russia

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U.S. pledges to ramp up supplies of natural gas to Britain as Biden and Sunak seek to cut off Russia

Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden photographed on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Indonesia on Nov. 16, 2022.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The U.K. and U.S. are forming a new energy partnership focused on boosting energy security and reducing prices.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.K. government said the new partnership would “drive work to reduce global dependence on Russian energy exports, stabilise energy markets and step up collaboration on energy efficiency, nuclear and renewables.”

The U.K.-U.S. Energy Security and Affordability Partnership, as it’s known, will be directed by a U.K.-U.S. Joint Action Group headed up by officials from both the White House and U.K. government.

Among other things, the group will undertake efforts to make sure the market ramps up supplies of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to the U.K.

Read more about energy from CNBC Pro

“As part of this, the US will strive to export at least 9-10 billion cubic metres of LNG over the next year via UK terminals, more than doubling the level exported in 2021 and capitalising on the UK’s leading import infrastructure,” Wednesday’s announcement said.

“The group will also work to reduce global reliance on Russian energy by driving efforts to increase energy efficiency and supporting the transition to clean energy, expediting the development of clean hydrogen globally and promoting civil nuclear as a secure use of energy,” it added.

Commenting on the plans, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We have the natural resources, industry and innovative thinking we need to create a better, freer system and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

“This partnership will bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy once and for all.”

The news comes at a time of huge disruption within global energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

The Kremlin was the biggest supplier of both natural gas and petroleum oils to the EU in 2021, according to Eurostat, but gas exports from Russia to the European Union have been signifciantly reduced this year. The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, 2020.

Major European economies have been trying to reduce their own consumption and shore up supplies from alternative sources for the colder months ahead — and beyond.

Top CEOs from the power industry have forecast that turbulence in energy markets is likely to persist for some time. “Things are extremely turbulent, as they have been the whole year, I would say,” Francesco Starace, the CEO of Italy’s Enel, told CNBC last month.

“The turbulence we’re going to have will remain — it might change a little bit, the pattern, but we’re looking at one or two years of extreme volatility in the energy markets,” Starace added.

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