Illustrating how U.S. electric utilities are rethinking their power generation portfolio mixes, Florida Power & Light Co.’s corporate parent presented itself as a trailblazer in an evolving industry where once-dominant coal spirals out of favor, ceding to cleaner, greener options.
In a perfect world, one of the power industry’s great advantages should be the degree of certainty in its business activities. This is readily acknowledged on the regulated side of the business, where a rate case — win or lose — results in greater certainty, at least in the short-term, for both electric utilities and their customers. And even in unregulated parts of the business, fixed costs are relatively stable and customer demand doesn’t materialize or disappear overnight the way it can in other industries such as retail or travel.
The soaring use of renewables and DER are reshaping the electric utility industry as consumers and other stakeholders clamor for cleaner, decarbonized sources of power. Power utilities around the globe are rethinking their generation portfolio with a keener focus on ridding their operations of planet-warming emissions.
As the U.S. electric industry increasingly is being driven by decarbonization and its related impacts on the traditional grid, the expansion of renewable energy is changing how investment dollars are allocated across the system. With it comes a particularly challenging issue: how does this change ripple back to the multibillion-dollar buildout of renewable generation?
From the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. to Asia and all parts of the world, evolution of the global electric industry has been rapid, relentless and most certainly complex.
Based on its emissions profile and flexibility, not to mention its cost, natural gas will remain a component of the fuel mix in the United States for the foreseeable future. Not only does it effectively complement solar and wind power, but as technology continues to improve, we see natural gas becoming even more efficient and as a result, is destined to become even cleaner in the future.
One of the noticeable effects of worldwide efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has been improved air quality, particularly in urban areas. Stay-at-home orders and a decrease in global travel have been cited as driving down emissions and pollution but attributing all these improvements to behavioral changes can be somewhat misleading.
In the early 1960s, life was pretty simple, continuing much the same as it had for decades. There were shiny new automobiles and new music, airplanes flew nonstop across the oceans, and new buildings became taller and more impressive. But few people had yet dreamed of space travel. Going to the moon was the stuff of popular science fiction, albeit a fascinating idea.
Increasingly dynamic and reaching monumental scale in size and complexity, data centers are using record levels of power. Resilient, sustainable alternatives for emergency backup power is one way data centers are working towards greener operations.
One alternative, natural gas, is gaining attention.