What’s the difference between the installed capacity and electricity generation of energy sources?
It’s a good question and one that’s commonly misunderstood.
In the energy world, these two terms are often used to describe the growth of energy resources in the United States.
Take wind or solar, for example.
There might be an article about wind making up 8% of all new installed capacity. Or, that solar will make up 1% of electricity generation in a specific year.
So what’s the difference? Let’s break it down for you.
What is Capacity?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) refers to capacity as the maximum output of electricity that a generator can produce under ideal conditions. Capacity levels are normally determined as a result of performance tests and allow utilities to project the maximum electricity load that a generator can support. Capacity is generally measured in megawatts or kilowatts.
Let’s look at an example.
According to EIA, wind turbines accounted for 8% of U.S. installed electricity generation “capacity,” as of December 2016. This means under ideal conditions, utilities would be able to supply 8% of the country’s electricity needs with wind power, but this won’t necessarily be the actual amount of electricity produced.
What is Generation?
Electricity generation, on the other hand, refers to the amount of electricity that IS produced over a specific period of time. This is usually measured in kilowatt-hours, megawatt-hours, or terawatt-hours (1 terawatt equals 1 million megawatts). To understand the unit of megawatt-hours (MWh), consider a wind turbine with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts that is running at its maximum capacity for 2 hours. In this scenario, at the end of the second hour, the turbine would have generated 3 megawatt-hours of energy (i.e. 1.5 megawatts X 2 hours).
If the wind was not blowing strongly enough for the turbine to operate at its maximum capacity, and the same turbine was only producing 1 megawatt of power for 2 hours, the total energy generation would be 2 megawatt-hours (i.e. 1 megawatt X 2 hours). This simple thought exercise demonstrates how calculations of generation take into account the fact that not all generation sources are operating at their maximum capacity at all times, such as when the sun isn’t shining or when the wind isn’t blowing.
Where Can I Learn More?
The EIA has a roster of Frequently Asked Questions on electricity usage and every other energy topic under the sun.
Learn more about recent advancements in wind energy and solar energy.
Customizing your electric-vehicle-charging habits can help save you plenty of time and money
By Nick Kurczewski
August 04, 2017
Now that the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are on U.S. roads, car shoppers have a choice of more affordable electric vehicles that can go more than 200 miles without a recharge.
These cars will need to be charged, however, and given their longer-than-typical range, that can take some serious time. So when does it make financial sense for an owner to get a high-speed at-home charger installed? It’s not a cheap decision, as they can run from hundreds of dollars to more than $1,000. Key is to choose based on your real needs, not just the potential use outlined in marketing materials. Many electric-vehicle owners will likely find that they on a daily basis, they don’t deplete more of the battery than can be replenished overnight using a basic 120V connection.
Intelligently customizing your EV charging routine can save you cash in the long run and can help you avoid hours wasted waiting to get back on the road once your car battery runs down.
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Tesla Model 3: Everything You Want to Know
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Electric and Hybrid Car Guide
There are several key considerations: Your car’s overall driving range, your personal driving habits, your daily routine, the availability of charging stations along your commute, and whether adding a high-speed charger at home would add real value to your home’s potential resale value.
A chart at the end of this report offers suggestions about which level charger consumers might consider, based on driving needs, including commute times.
There are three types of chargers, but only the first two are really meant for your home:
Level 1: This is a normal 120-volt connection, which uses any standard household outlet; there are no extra costs here. The downside is that charging times can be painfully slow.
Level 2: This uses a higher-output 240-volt power source, much like one that you’d plug your oven or AC unit into. Charging times are much faster than Level 1. Excluding installation costs, fitting a Level 2 outlet in your home garage typically runs from as low as $300, to approximately $1,200, depending on the make and model of the charger.
Level 3: These fast-charging devices use very high voltage and can add 90 miles of range to an EV in just 30 minutes in some cases. These chargers, however, are extremely expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and routinely using a Level 3 charger can ultimately hurt your car’s battery, so we wouldn’t consider one for home installation. Besides, they are cost prohibitive for most consumers.
Gil Tal, a researcher of transportation and travel behavior at the University of California at Davis, says EV and plug-in hybrid owners should experience their EV vehicles first before making the decision about installing a charger at home.
“Buy it and drive it,” he says. “Drive your car and see what makes the most sense for you.”
Although that might sound obvious, Tal’s research involving 26,000 EV owners in California and his studies in 14 other states showed early adopter EV owners rushed in and installed Level 2 chargers, whether they truly needed them or not.
When it comes to owning an EV, Tal says simple charging solutions are found only at the extremes of daily driving routines. For example, Level 1 home charging simply won’t work for anyone who drives longer distances and has no time, or opportunity, to recharge their car during the day. Upgrading to a Level 2 charger for that owner becomes a necessity, especially if the car is fully electric and there aren’t any public charging stations at the workplace or nearby.
For that owner, adding a dedicated 240-volt power source in your garage could be a quick and easy installation, Tal said, and it could appeal to future EV-owning house hunters.
Do your homework and be aware of all your charging options, especially around your daily commute. That’s the advice of Gabe Shenhar, program manager of vehicle dynamics at Consumer Reports. “If you live in a community that has public charging, say at the train station, and your car is going to be parked there most of the day, you might as well take advantage of that, and that might eliminate the need to invest in a Level 2 connector in your garage.” Otherwise, he says, “For a true EV, Level 2 is just about essential” if it’s the only source for power.
Also, explore the energy options with your local utility. Lower, off-peak rates are common, though they may vary depending on whether you are using a Level 1 or Level 2 charger.
Shenhar stresses the importance of knowing exactly how fast your electric or plug-in hybrid can accept a charge, using either a Level 1 or a Level 2 charger. He points out that it took CR 10 hours to recharge the electric-powered Chevrolet Bolt using a 240-volt power source. If you use a standard 120-volt power source, he says, be ready to wait longer than 24 hours for your Bolt to fully recharge.
One advantage of these new higher-range cars is that they should seldom use all their charge in a single day’s commute. With ranges that top 200 miles and average daily commutes of less than 50 miles, it should only be a matter of topping off the battery at night and not starting from zero.
An important consideration may be your vehicle’s “acceptance rate,” an often overlooked technical aspect that has a major effect on an EV’s charge time. Generally speaking, higher acceptance rates (6.6 kWh vs. 3.3 kWh) mean less time will be spent plugged into an outlet because the vehicle is able to more quickly convert incoming power to onboard battery storage.
On the other hand, a typical plug-in hybrid might have more limited electric range but also takes less time to recharge. “If you buy a plug-in hybrid, there is almost zero chance you won’t fill it up overnight with a Level 1 charger,” says Tal at UC Davis. A plug-in hybrid also has the fallback option of operating using its gas-powered engine once its electric power has been depleted.
As for going all in on a DC fast-charging system (or Level 3), forget it. Their prohibitive cost and high power levels make them unsuitable for home installation, Tal said. It would be the equivalent of building your own gasoline station to keep your car or truck fueled up.
AUSTIN, Texas — The 85th Legislature gave all Texans a surprising bit of good news when they extended the programs for the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP), which was set to expire in 2019.
TERP is the second largest air pollution reduction program in Texas, and since its inception in 2001 it has become the most cost-effective way to reduce air pollution in the state.
Only hours before the final deadline to pass a “Conference Committee Report,” the Texas Legislature approved SB 1731, which included an amendment to reform and expand TERP. In response, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and Environmental Defense Fund — who have supported and worked with legislators and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since 2001 on TERP implementation — praised lawmakers for their efforts, but issued a warning: the Legislature must actually appropriate the money now.
“We salute the Texas Legislature for extending and expanding TERP programs so that Texas actually complies with EPA’s health-based standards for ozone pollution in our major cities,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “However, the Legislature failed to extend the fees that pay for the program, and the budget bill actually cut appropriations for TERP by some $80 million over two years, subject to a possible adjustment by the Legislative Budget Board. This will need to be fixed for the program to work as it should.”
Recent polling has found that TERP has strong support in Houston, where air pollution is a constant problem. “We’re glad that the Legislature responded to the concerns of Houstonians,” said Adrian Shelley, director of the Public Citizen Texas office. “One of the major improvements for TERP under SB 1731 is the provision to allow more money to be spent in rail yards and port yards, where we have the greatest air pollution concentrations,” he added.
“We’re pleased that TERP has been extended and now includes modifications that will allow more cost-effective projects at ports,” said Christina Wolfe, Manager, Air Quality, Port and Freight Facilities at the Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund. “There is plenty of work ahead of us to ensure that all Texans breathe healthy air, so we appreciate the Texas Legislature taking this first step in recognizing the importance of TERP. Now we need them to ensure the programs are funded.”
The bill to extend and expand the program had a somewhat tortured history. After passing the Senate early in the session, SB 26 by Craig Estes (R- Wichita Falls) was then referred to the House Committee on Environmental Regulation. There, clean air advocates — which included environmental groups like EDF, Sierra Club and Public Citizen, and industry groups like the Texas Chemical Council, the Texas Association of Business and electric utilities — worked with Chairman Joe Pickett (D – El Paso), Rep. Brooks Landgraf (D-Odessa), Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Houston) and Rep. Tony Dale (R- Round Rock) to craft a revised version of SB 26, which put more emphasis on the most cost-effective programs, including the revised Seaport and Rail Yards program to clean up pollution from equipment at our ports and railyards.
However, the House version of SB 26 was put late on the calendar and the House of Representatives did not get to the bill when the deadine of midnight occurred on May 23rd. Then, versions of SB 26 were added to three other bills as amendments, though two of them were not taken up. Finally, on May 29th, at approximately 9:30 PM, both houses passed the TERP bill as part of SB 1731 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas).
While the groups behind the TERP legislation were happy with the passage SB 1731, some last-minute confusion on the budget made it unclear how much TERP is actually funded for the next two years. During last-minute budget negotiations, TERP funding was cut from approximately $118 million per year to $78 million per year, and a contingency rider that was supposed to restore funding if a TERP bill passed was not in the final version of the budget.
In addition, separate legislation to extend the six fees that actually fund TERP did not pass, meaning the Legislature will need to come back in 2019 to extend them if the programs are to continue.
“We call on Governor Abbot to not only sign SB 1731 into law, but call back the Legislative Budget Board to adjust the budget to reflect its passage and return the nearly $40 million a year that was cut to fund these new programs,” added Reed. “Ultimately, the Legislature is going to have to decide how important it is to get the dirty air in our cities cleaned up and extend the fees — and spend the revenues — to help our children, the elderly and those with asthma to be able to breathe clean air.”
The Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance Clean Cities Coalition of Central Texas hosted the Texas Clean Cities Energy Independence Legislative Luncheon on March 2, Texas Independence Day.
Key Texas Legislators were invited to meet their local Clean Cities Coordinators Pamela Burns from DFW, Nick Jones from Alamo Area, and Stacy Neef of Lone Star Clean Cities Coalition’s. Designed strictly to educate, Coordinators presented on their coalition’s, activities and accomplishments, and how air quality is achieved through the use of alternative fuels and vehicles.
Additionally, Curtis Donaldson, CFUSA, Bill Williams of Telefonix, and Heather Ball with the Natural Gas Foundation also presented on their respective alternative fuels, beneficial environmental and economic qualities, and how Clean Cities has been a partner for over 20 years.
Our guest speaker was Williamson County State Rep Tony Dale, a friend to all Texas Clean Cities coalitions. Tony provided an update on legislative activities as they relate to the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and Legislation to engage the State of Texas in the use of electric, propane and natural gas fleet fuels.
Over forty (40) invited legislative and Clean Cities stakeholder guests attended the very successful fajita luncheon sponsored by LSCFA.
What factors do employers need to consider when establishing a workplace charging program?
While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for workplace charging, there are a number of resources available to help employers design, implement, and manage the right program for their organization.
Employers considering whether workplace charging is right for their organization will want to start by assessing employee demand with an employee survey. Once this assessment is complete, employers may set goals for meeting workplace charging demand, either by planning to meet the entire need (i.e., all drivers that have expressed or will express interest in PEV charging) or by dedicating a percentage of parking spaces to PEV charging. For example, Google has a goal to dedicate 5% of all parking spaces to workplace charging.
Employers should determine what types of charging stations to purchase. There are a few decisions to make, including the following:
Employers should also be sure to get quotes from a number of charging station providers. For more guidance, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Sample Request for Proposal document. Employers will work with their electrical contractor to determine charging station placement; station installation can be an expensive process, but employers can minimize costs by siting stations in locations that require minimal trenching, boring, and electrical panel upgrades. For more information about siting and installation, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Equipment and Installation Costs page.
A well-managed, well-planned workplace charging program can ensure station access to all employees, promote strong communication between employers and station users, and encourage responsible station use.
There are many notable incentive activities at the state and local levels. Many states offer incentives for alternative fuels that advance specific environmental and energy security goals, while cities provide even more localized support.
States are targeting vehicles, infrastructure, and other means to encourage AFV adoption. Below are various types of incentives, as well as hyperlinked examples of each:
Municipalities are also playing a role in supporting AFV deployment. Cities and counties incentivize AFVs in a number of ways, including by offering free or discounted parking, expediting permitting processes, and providing vehicle and infrastructure grants. For example, New Haven, CT, provides free parking on city streets for AFVs, while Los Angeles, CA, offers instant, online residential electric vehicle supply equipment permitting approval. The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Local Laws and Incentives page provides more information on these and a greater array of other local options; while the page regarding local laws and incentives is not meant to be comprehensive, it provides users an idea of the different municipal programs and policies that exist (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/local_examples). If you are aware of an innovative way that municipalities are supporting alternative fuels and vehicle acquisition, please contact the Clean Cities Technical Response Service firstname.lastname@example.org to share the details.
For more information about state and local alternative fuel incentives, see the AFDC Laws and Incentives page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws).
Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team