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Warren Buffett backs revolutionary development in renewable energy

Buffett,WarrenBuffett’s $28 billion winning bet on clean energy, SMH, June 5, 2014 Warren Buffett’s $US26 billion (A$28 billion) bet on western US power plants, transmission lines and wind farms is poised to pay off.

The energy unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the help of California’s grid operator, is moving to unite the holdings under a single market capable of dispatching power across seven states every five minutes. The system, designed to handle sudden swings in supply and demand, would revolutionise the markets from Oregon to Nevada, where 38 transmission operators manually balance their territories on an hourly basis.

The move would be a game-changer for the renewables that Berkshire Hathaway Energy has accumulated over the past decade, including two of the world’s largest solar farms, and for other clean-power producers, according to those who trade in the region’s markets. Berkshire’s plants stand to run for longer periods of time, and its NV Energy and PacifiCorp utilities will save as much as $US63.9 million annually by 2017, Energy and Environmental Economics reports show.

“It would be huge if all 38 balancing authorities joined,” Sean Breiner, a market design analyst for energy trader Viasyn, said by telephone June 2. “Instead of having these balkanised regions, you’d have resources from Idaho to Wyoming all flowing into one kind of large spot market.”

Green power……

California has a goal of securing 33 per cent of power from clean energy by 2020. By next year, the California Independent System Operator Corp. expects renewables to meet almost a quarter of demand. In the Northwest, renewables are nearly 7 per cent of total supply, excluding hydropower.

The market, scheduled to start Oct. 1 pending approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, would use hourly bids from generators to match the cheapest resources with supply, demand and transmission changes every five minutes. It would initially include the territories of the California ISO and PacifiCorp — spanning 42,200 miles of transmission lines in six states from California to Wyoming, extend to NV Energy’s Nevada network a year later and could accommodate all operators in the region…….

Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s spending in the western states included $US10.7 billion to acquire PacifiCorp and NV Energy, $US8.7 billion in renewable investments, a $US6 billion Northwest transmission project and at least $US568 million on the Lake Side natural gas-fired power plant being completed this year in Utah, according to company filings.

Power generators and transmission operators in other parts of the US already participate in real-time markets run by grid operators from the Northeast to Texas. California runs a five-minute market within its own territory. Should all the authorities in the western US join the new system, it would become the nation’s largest geographically.

Analyses prepared by San Francisco-based Energy and Environmental Economics show the real-time market would save the California ISO area as much as $US74.3 million, PacifiCorp $US54.4 million and NV $US9.5 million in the year 2017………..

June 6, 2014 - Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA

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