The lowly lightbulb outshines solar and wind on power grids

Updated 15 August 2015
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The lowly lightbulb outshines solar and wind on power grids

Utility and power grid managers in the United States are learning that the best way to cut carbon emissions and improve efficiency is the easiest: Just change your lightbulbs.
The nation's largest grid, serving more than 61 million customers from Washington to Chicago, is revising its demand forecasts after recognizing that better lighting has undercut its projections. Swapping all of Thomas Edison's incandescent lightbulbs with lamps containing light emitting diodes, or LEDs, would save enough electricity to power 20 million American homes, according to the Energy Department.
Americans' energy-conservation efforts, from switching bulbs to upgrading washing machines and air conditioners, have done more to reduce carbon emissions than the increased use of solar, wind and natural gas, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie. Efficiency can help meet half of the emissions cuts sought under President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy said.
"It's a total bulb revolution," Prajit Ghosh, director of power and renewables research at Wood Mackenzie in Houston, said Aug. 10 by phone. "The decline in load growth from both macroeconomic factors and energy-efficiency gains is by far the biggest reason carbon emissions fell. At least for the last five years, a majority of these savings came from lighting."
A switch from the incandescent lamps, which were introduced in the 19th century, was prompted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that required lighting to become 25 percent to 30 percent more efficient by 2014 from 2008 levels.
Lighting accounts for about 5 percent of a home's energy budget and switching to more efficient bulbs is one of the fastest ways to cut those costs, according to the Energy Department. LEDs use 75 to 80 percent less energy than incandescents and last 25 times longer.
LEDs will account for 83 percent of the lighting market share by 2020 and almost all of it 10 years later, the Energy Department says. The cost of the bulbs has fallen by more than 85 percent in six years, according to ACEEE, a Washington-based non-profit that promotes conservation. Bulbs are now available for less than $5.
Use of the new bulbs is catching on. In February, the Super Bowl became the first National Football League championship played under LEDs. Ikea Group, the worldwide furniture retailer, said Aug. 10 that it will carry only LEDs starting next month and that they would be sold at the lowest price on the market.
PJM Interconnection, which manages the largest US grid, will for the first time include the effect of more efficient light bulbs and appliances in its long-term demand outlook, Tom Falin, manager of resource adequacy planning, said at the grid operator's headquarter in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
The forecast for peak demand, a reflection of supplies needed on the hottest day of the year, will decline in 2016 from this year's level using a new model, he said. Forecasts will be cut by about 4 percent each year through 2031 in the 15-year outlook.
"Within the last three or four years, our performance model has not been performing as well as it had been," Falin said. Electricity demand no longer has the same responsiveness to economic growth that it had, he said.
PJM isn't alone in recognizing the new efficiency. The Texas grid operator revised demand forecasts as growth lagged behind the economic rebound, easing concern about blackouts in the country's biggest energy-consuming state.
Duke Energy Corp. and American Electric Power Co. say energy efficiency helped them reduce carbon emissions. Exelon Corp. said higher demand from the improving economy in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington is being partially offset as consumers become more efficient. DTE Energy Inc. sees flat growth over the next few years compared with earlier projections of a 0.5 percent increase.
US power demand reached a record 10.66 billion kilowatt- hours a day in 2007, a level not matched eight years later, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity producers declined by 15 percent to 2.17 billion metric tons in 2013 from 2005, the agency said.
Lower demand forecasts mean providers need less power generating capacity and that can result in lower costs for consumers.
"Power demand growth that was expected to be reached in 2017 won't be achieved before 2030,'' said Ghosh of Wood Mackenzie.


Oil prices edge up, but set for weekly loss on inventory build, US-China trade row

Updated 19 October 2018
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Oil prices edge up, but set for weekly loss on inventory build, US-China trade row

  • US crude stocks last week climbed 6.5 million barrels, the fourth straight weekly build, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast
  • An unprecedented volume of Iranian crude oil is set to arrive at China’s northeast Dalian port this month

SINGAPORE: Oil prices nudged higher on Friday on signs of surging demand in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, though prices are set to fall for a second week amid concerns of the ongoing Sino-US trade war is limiting overall economic activity.
Brent crude oil futures were trading at $79.51 per barrel at 0521 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.84 a barrel.
For the week, Brent crude was 1.1 percent lower while WTI futures were down 3.5 percent, putting both on track for a second consecutive weekly decline.
Refinery throughput in China, the world’s second-largest oil importer, rose to a record high of 12.49 million barrels per day (bpd) in September as some independent plants restarted operations after prolonged shutdowns over summer to shore up inventories, government data showed on Friday.
The refinery consumption may rise through the fourth quarter as several state-owned Chinese refiners return to service after maintenance.
Undermining the strong refinery data, China did on Friday report its weakest economic growth since 2009 in the third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding by only 6.5 percent, missing estimates.
The weak economic data raised concerns that the country’s trade war with United States is beginning to have an impact on growth, which may limit China’s oil demand.
The trade war concerns combined with surging US oil stockpiles reported on Thursday are capping the day’s price gains.
US crude stocks last week climbed 6.5 million barrels, the fourth straight weekly build, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the US Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
“EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report was a complete shocker sending Oil markets spiraling lower amidst some concerning development for oil bulls,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA in Singapore.
Inventories rose sharply even as US crude production slipped 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd last week due to the effects of offshore facilities closing temporarily for Hurricane Michael.
Meanwhile, Iranian oil exports may have increased in October when compared to the previous month as buyers rush to lift more cargoes ahead of looming US sanctions that kick in on Nov. 4.
An unprecedented volume of Iranian crude oil is set to arrive at China’s northeast Dalian port this month and in early November before US sanctions on Iran take effect, according to an Iranian shipping source and data on Refinitiv Eikon.
So far, a total of 22 million barrels of Iranian crude oil loaded on supertankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. are expected to arrive at Dalian in October and November, the data showed. Dalian typically receives between 1 million and 3 million barrels of Iranian oil each month, according to data that dates back to January 2015.