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The Global Inverter Market’s China Question

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GTM Research just released its preliminary 2015 global PV inverter rankings, in which we found that the inverter market landscape has become increasingly consolidated among leading vendors. While global demand rose 33 percent in 2015, the top 10 PV inverter vendors increased their share of the market to 75 percent of all inverter shipments, the highest total since 2010.

SMA found itself back in the black after multiple years of volume declines and posted losses. While the company is still the clear global leader in PV inverter revenue, it has found itself displaced from the top of the inverter shipment charts as global demand has shifted toward China. According to our findings, Huawei was the leading inverter vendor by shipments in 2015, and four of the top six vendors were Chinese suppliers.

FIGURE: Top 10 Global PV Inverter Vendors by Shipments and Revenue, 2015
 
Source: GTM Research

Peering into the black box of China

These figures merit closer consideration, particularly the fact that the top six players in China shipped 25 gigawatts (AC) of inverters to China in 2015 — an astounding figure for a market that, according to the China National Energy Administration, interconnected 15 gigawatts (DC) of solar during the year.

China, of course, has quickly become the foundation of global demand for solar equipment. One out of every three PV modules connected to the grid last year was installed in China, and while China’s share of the market may shrink this year, it will still absorb a whopping 27 percent of global demand. But rock-bottom pricing has kept most foreign vendors on the sidelines. As a result, the market has consolidated around its leading domestic inverter suppliers as it has matured. According to reported figures, Huawei’s and Sungrow’s domestic shipments in 2015 alone accounted for over 70 percent of shipments to the Chinese market and exceeded the capacity of all projects interconnected during the year.

There could be several explanations for the mismatch. First, we have to consider a potential lag from shipment to installation, where shipments could be delivered to sites that are still undergoing construction in early 2016. The second consideration is the ratio of project installations to project interconnections. While inverters are typically one of the last pieces of equipment shipped, project energization depends on the medium-voltage system, system commissioning grid upgrades, and the interconnection process. Coupled together, there can be a large lag between when inverters leave the factory and when those inverters begin pumping power to the grid. One additional thing to consider is that Chinese developers typically use a 1:1 DC-AC ratio, which means that Chinese systems have greater inverter capacity requirements than do systems in other markets.

Something darker or yet another wild west moment?

There is also the ominous possibility that vendors have exaggerated their figures. A few Chinese vendors have already pointed fingers, claiming that other vendors have inflated their reported figures. GTM Research does ask for verifiable proof of shipment totals and conducts interviews with developers and EPCs on the ground in order to justify product shipment figures that are out of line with the market expectations. However, without visibility into the progress of every project in the ground, verifying shipment totals is difficult at best.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen greater-than-expected shipments in the inverter market. In 2010, relief of a bottlenecked supply chain for PV power electronics came in the form of a 3.7 gigawatts (AC) global oversupply at the end of the year. Additionally, murky dealings in Italy resulted in as much as 3 gigawatts of projects installed but not yet connected to the grid at year’s end 2010. This led to a further disconnect between inverter shipments and project interconnections in that year.

Perhaps most relevantly, during China’s early boom years of 2011 and 2012, we heard similar murmurings of module-shipment claims that were far inflated from the reality of what was being installed. These murmurings primarily came from competitors who simply “couldn’t believe nor trust” what the Chinese competition were claiming.

Making sense of it all

So what does this mean for China? Regardless of shipment totals, it’s clear that China continues to suffer from a massive interconnection bottleneck. Though 15 gigawatts were connected in 2015, over 18 gigawatts of PV was fully installed according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. China’s slowing electricity load growth, coupled with curtailment of renewables in many regions, may further exacerbate delays for PV connections going forward. This means that 2016 interconnections in China could be massive (north of 20 gigawatts) — or it could mean that inverter manufacturers will have gigawatts’ worth of product in warehouses and in the field that may never see power from the sun.

In either case, there are two clear takeaways for the global inverter landscape. One, don’t start a land war in Asia an inverter business in China as a non-Chinese company. And two, with a strong but hotly competitive base in China, it’s clear that Chinese inverter manufacturers will more aggressively target global markets. Shipments by Chinese inverter manufacturers outside of China exceeded 3 gigawatts in 2015, sold in the U.S. and other markets at a heavy discount to prevailing pricing. That’s not to say that the gig is up for non-Chinese players; after all, both GE and SolarEdge were able to rise 10 spots in our global inverter rankings due to their innovative products. But the stakes are rising, prices are falling, and incumbent inverter vendors must now be prepared to compete with a new class of high-volume, low-cost and technologically capable foreign suppliers. 

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MJ Shiao is the director of solar research at GTM Research. Scott Moskowitz is a solar analyst covering PV systems and technology.

Contact sales@gtmresearch.com for more information on GTM Research’s ongoing inverter research.


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Will PG&E Finally Get Approval for Its EV Charging Pilot?

Pacific Gas & Electric has struggled to put together an electric-vehicle charging plan that can get approval. Its last plan was rejected by California state regulators in September, largely because it asked for far more money, and more utility ownership of EV charging assets, than did its fellow investor-owned utilities in Southern California.

Last week, PG&E took a step toward closing the EV charging deal, with its Charge Smart and Save plan. The Northern California utility has scaled down its new plan, asking for $160 million for 7,500 charging stations, compared to last year’s request for $654 million to build 25,000 chargers.

Like its fellow IOUs, PG&E plans to install many of its chargers at multi-unit dwellings and workplaces, which are more challenging for private-sector EV charging economics. PG&E has also committed to deploying at least 15 percent of its charging stations in disadvantaged communities, and to keep the rate increases to pay for it to less than $2.75 per year for a typical residential customer.

These changes have earned PG&E’s new plan the support of various environmental and consumer groups in the form of a settlement agreement similar to those obtained by SDG&E and SCE. That agreement could give PG&E’s new plan additional weight with the California PUC.

The new agreement has been approved by energy policy groups, including the Center for Sustainable Energy, the Sierra Club, The Greenlining Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, EV charging startup Greenlots, EV promotional group Plug In America, automakers General Motors and Honda, and community choice aggregation entities including Marin Clean Energy and the Sonoma Clean Power Authority.

Not all parties are pleased with PG&E’s plan, however. In particular, the Electric Vehicle Charging Association (EVCA), a group including ChargePoint, EV Connect, NRG Energy’s eVgo and ABM that has signed off on SDG&E and SCE’s plans, said in a release last week that PG&E’s plan will “cost ratepayers, inhibit innovation, and limit customer choice.”

EVCA’s main complaints center around the level of control PG&E is seeking over which type of charging equipment is used, which companies can be involved in operating the units, and how their services will be priced.

“The proposal leaves open significant unanswered questions about the program design, including responsibility for network management, the ability of site hosts to implement innovative pricing models, the ability of PG&E to pick winners and losers in the market, and impacts to a competitive marketplace,” wrote the group.

Like those of its Southern California counterparts, PG&E’s new plan opens up the option for site hosts to choose the charging technology for the 7,500 level 2 chargers it hopes to deploy, even though the utility is seeking to own the charging equipment itself.

But PG&E also plans to impose an annual vendor selection process for would-be participants, compared to the quarterly openings provided by SDG&E’s plan. “That stifles innovation,” Damon Conklin, EVCA spokesperson, said in a recent interview. “No startup is going to want to enter a market where there’s an annual prescreening.”

What’s more, the 100 DC fast-charging systems that PG&E wants to install will be selected in a single-vendor process, and will come with significant restrictions on the pricing of power they use, he said. That might set up the utility as a direct competitor to the fast-charging networks being deployed by companies like Tesla, eVgo and Nissan, he noted. 

EVCA also complains that PG&E’s proposal for 7,500 chargers is nearly three times the number the CPUC advised the utility to ask for in guidance last year. It also stated that the utility’s plan comes at a cost per EV charging port of about $21,000. Private-sector systems cost $8,000 on average. Update: The NRDC pointed out in an email that EVCA’s cost-per-charger figure is inaccurate, as it divides total program costs including non-device costs by the number of chargers being planned. 

Any cost overruns could expose the utility’s ratepayers to covering those costs, something that has caused ratepayer groups including The Utility Reform Network and CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates to withhold their support of PG&E’s plan.


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Nearly 40% of US Electricity Could Come From Rooftop Solar

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found that nearly 40 percent of electricity in the U.S. could come from rooftop solar photovoltaics, according to a new study.

The total figure, 1,118 gigawatts, is nearly double the previous estimate of 664 gigawatts that NREL calculated in 2008. The increase is due mostly to increasing module power density, more granular data and a better grasp of building suitability for solar.

“This report is the culmination of a three-year research effort and represents a significant advancement in our understanding of the potential for rooftop PV to contribute to meeting U.S. electricity demand,” Robert Margolis, NREL senior energy analyst and co-author of the report, said in a statement.

NREL brought together ZIP-code-level data with rooftop suitability characteristics, including light detection and ranging (lidar) data and technical generation potential, to model the rooftop PV capacity of 128 cities. Those cities represent about one-quarter of the building stock in the U.S. and 40 percent of the population. NREL then ran two models, one for small buildings under 5,000 square feet and another for medium-size and larger buildings.

When it came to cities with the highest potential for rooftop PV to meet estimated city consumption, California unsurprisingly topped the list, with Mission Viejo, Calif. having a solar potential rating of 88 percent. But just behind Mission Viejo was Concord, New Hampshire at 72 percent, and Buffalo, New York wasn’t far behind at 68 percent. Although only about one-quarter of the rooftop area on small buildings was suitable for solar PV in the U.S., that still equated to more than 900 terawatt-hours per year of energy.

A key factor determining a state’s overall potential for solar PV to offset electricity generation was the per-capita energy consumption. The top six states, NREL noted, all have significantly below-average levels of household energy consumption. For any state that wants to make the most of solar incentives, energy efficiency should also be a top priority.

When it came to larger buildings, many were suitable for solar, but the flat roofs typical among these types of structures mean that the space cannot be used as efficiently as it can on tilted roofs, which are more common on homes and small buildings. But that could change, NREL noted, as racking and module-packing techniques are improving the usability of flat roofs.

Other technical advancements, such as module performance, could also push the estimates higher. NREL assumed a module efficiency of about 16 percent. If that rose closer to 20 percent, each technical potential estimate would rise by about 25 percent.

By taking all suitable buildings into account, California again came out on top, with a potential for 74 percent of electricity sales that could be powered by rooftop solar, according to the NREL model. Many New England states, despite their lower solar resources, could generate nearly half of electricity used from rooftop solar.

Of course, a significant penetration of rooftop solar in any single region can only come about if other investments are made. “In practice, the integration of a significant quantity of rooftop PV into the national portfolio of generation capacity would require a flexible grid, supporting infrastructure, and a suite of enabling technologies,” NREL concludes.

The report only looked at rooftops, leaving out other suitable solar PV placement, from ground-mounted systems to carports. “It is important to note that this report only estimates the potential from existing, suitable rooftops, and does not consider the immense potential of ground-mounted PV,” said Margolis.

NREL hopes this latest set of data will be used by utilities, cities, researchers and the solar power market to better site rooftop PV systems.  


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Huawei and SMA Lead GTM Research’s 2015 Global PV Inverter Rankings

Huawei and SMA were the leading global vendors of solar photovoltaic inverters in 2015, according to preliminary findings from GTM Research’s upcoming report, The Global PV Inverter and MLPE Landscape.

SMA relinquished its position atop the inverter-shipment rankings for the first time, despite increasing its global shipments by 44 percent. However, SMA strengthened its leadership position in the United States and held onto its strong position at the top of the global rankings when measured by revenue.  

The rapid rise of Huawei to its position as a global market leader can be attributed to its strong growth in the Chinese market.

“Huawei has upended the notion that string inverters would be used in place of central inverters in small (and progressively larger) utility projects. The company has committed to a portfolio made up solely of string inverters, employing the devices in some of the largest solar power plants in the world,” said Scott Moskowitz, an analyst with GTM Research.

FIGURE: Top 10 Global PV Inverter Vendors by Shipments and Revenue, 2015
          
Source: GTM Research’s Global PV Inverter and MLPE Landscape

Overall, the market is becoming increasingly consolidated. The top 10 inverter vendors accounted for 75 percent of global shipments in 2015, up from 69 percent in 2014 and the highest since 2010 when the market was highly concentrated in continental Europe. The rankings reflect the makeup of the global market; the top nine positions on the list consist entirely of companies with strong utility offerings in major solar markets.

The market is more balanced when viewed by revenue, with the top 10 vendors accounting for 62 percent of the overall market and including residential and commercial inverter players SolarEdge, Enphase, Omron, Tabuchi and Fronius. 

“No matter how you view the numbers, the market is growing increasingly concentrated among leading suppliers in major markets. These same vendors are taking advantaging of global supply chains and additionally supplying growth markets in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East,” says Moskowitz.

That does not mean there’s a lack of opportunity in the market, however. SolarEdge rose 10 spots in the global shipment rankings due to strong demand in the United States and Europe for its differentiated DC optimizer and inverter system.

General Electric similarly rose 10 spots to No. 12 in the 2015 shipment rankings due to stout growth in shipments of its 1,500-volt inverters. GE was the first to introduce and deploy a 1,500-volt product. According to GTM Research, nine inverter vendors have now announced 1,500-volt solutions.

Full preliminary findings will be provided on an ongoing basis to participating data contributors and GTM Research subscribers. The full report will be released in the second quarter and will contain detailed product trends, company profiles and analysis, regional market shares, market pricing and forecasts, and global projections for the inverter market over the next five years.  

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Want the full rankings and figures? Contact sales@gtmresearch.com for more information.


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Edison International Launches Its Energy-as-a-Service Business

Edison International has become the latest utility moving beyond selling electricity to customers, and getting into helping those customers manage that energy use.

On Tuesday, the parent company of regulated utility Southern California Edison unveiled its new energy consulting and project development arm, Edison Energy. The new company will work nationwide to “identify and execute opportunities to help them lower costs in managing their entire energy portfolio, reduce complexity, and deliver on increasingly important sustainability objectives,” according to Tuesday’s announcement.

Allan Schurr, the company’s president, described Edison Energy as “a consultancy and systems integration company that’s unbiased in relation to particular technology solutions. We’re trying to find what the largest energy users need, and identify the gaps in their strategy.”

That’s a similar pitch being brought to large commercial and industrial (C&I) energy customers by a lengthening list of competitors — think GE Current or Duke Energy Renewables. And like many of its rivals, Edison Energy has put together a roster of acquisitions to get there.

This includes the commercial PV development business of SoCore Energy, acquired in 2013, which now has about 250 projects in 17 states, Schurr said. But it also includes three other startups acquired over the previous months at a combined price of about $100 million, according to Tuesday’s announcement.

The first, ENERActive Solutions, covers the energy-efficiency side of the equation. The Asbury Park, N.J.-based energy consulting, engineering, and project development firm works with clients like universities, schools, data centers, industrial sites and hospitals. This is a function provided by many energy services companies like Siemens, Schneider Electric, Honeywell and Johnson Controls, as well as a host of contractors and consultants.

On the high-end energy procurement and data analysis side, Edison acquired Delta Energy Services, which serves a typical customer base of “corporations with at least $1 billion in revenue.” This is the kind of work done by competitive energy providers like Constellation and Direct Energy, as well as competitors such as EnerNOC, Ecova and Schneider Electric via acquisition Summit Energy.

Boston-based acquisition Altenex brings renewables into the mix through its market access platform to connect renewable energy project developers with C&I customers seeking to buy wholesale renewable energy. So far, it’s negotiated long-term power-purchase agreements adding up to more than a gigawatt of wind and solar power. This is a similar function provided to Duke Energy Renewables with its acquisition of REC Solar. 

Edison Energy isn’t naming its clients yet, but they include about one-quarter of the world’s Fortune 50 corporations, said Schurr. The company currently manages energy procurement for about 7,500 gas and electric customer sites across the country, and its efficiency arm has identified about $1 billion in energy savings measures on the demand side of the equation.  

The Irvine, Calif.-based company now has about 200 employees, and runs completely separately from its parent company, he said. It can earn money from advisory services fees, management fees as a percentage of energy supplied, or project-based fees, working according to the custom needs of each client, Schurr explained. But it can also lean on Edison International’s deep pockets to secure financing for certain projects, or even own and operate projects where that makes sense, he said.

As for the types of technologies to be deployed, that’s up to each customer’s needs, he added. In some cases that could include commercial solar, or even microgrids for customers seeking energy resiliency, Schurr said — a field that giant utility Southern Company has recently jumped into through its acquisition of PowerSecure.

But on the other hand, “Edison International’s competitive generation business was sold off a couple of years ago, so there isn’t any financial interest in owning these large contracts,” he added. “We have a nice balance in the portfolio of services that range from upfront advisor services, consulting perhaps on an investment they’re going to make, all the way through [to owning and operating] the systems. We’re really covering the bases.”

More broadly speaking, Edison Energy and its competitors are seeking to make money by helping customers navigate the increasingly complex world of energy options, as the company laid out in a Tuesday white paper entitled “The New Energy Future.” According to the paper’s survey, most large corporate customers don’t have a grasp on where they’re wasting energy, let alone which efficiency or renewable opportunities to invest in: “Emerging technologies like solar, wind, storage, fuel cells, LED lighting systems and building controls, enabled by deeper understandings from new data streams, have become ever more competitive.”

At the same time, Edison International and other utility owners are facing significant challenges from the same or similar trends that are now potentially empowering the customers of new companies like Edison Energy. “We certainly see our industry evolving,” Ted Craver, chairman and chief executive of Edison International, said at a Tuesday event to unveil the new company. “There certainly are some threats to our corporation that come from that.”


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Nation’s Next Offshore Wind Farm Eyed For Virginia Coast

America’s next experiment in offshore wind energy has been given the green light in Virginia, and in just a few years, wind turbines could be twirling in two places in the open waters of the U.S. East Coast.

The federal government last week approved a research project off the coast of Virginia that is expected to help demonstrate the viability of offshore wind energy in the U.S. The nation’s first offshore wind farm, off the coast of Rhode Island, is already under construction and could begin operating within the next year.

The Teeside offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. No offshore wind farms have yet been completed in the United States.
Credit: Paul/flickr

Although offshore wind is a major part of the Obama administration’s long-term climate goals, not a single offshore wind turbine generates so much as a kilowatt of electricity in the U.S., and the technology has yet to be proven here.

Whereas Europe has been building offshore wind turbines for many years, offshore wind energy is a vast untapped renewable energy resource in the U.S. The potential is so huge that more than 4 terawatts of wind power capacity could be built off of the East and West coasts — enough to light up about 480 million homes if fully developed.

The Virginia wind farm will be will be tiny — two 6 megawatt wind turbines powerful enough to generate electricity for 3,000 homes. The federal government granted the lease to the state of Virginia, and the wind farm will be operated by Dominion Resources.

The turbines will be the precursor to a much larger potential development. Dominion was the winning bidder in a 2013 lease sale giving it the right to develop a 2 gigawatt wind farm across nearly 113,000 acres in the open Atlantic 23 miles east of Virginia Beach. If built, that farm could power 700,000 homes.

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Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said the construction timeline for the research wind farm is “up in the air,” but details will be announced next week.

Map of Virginia’s offshore wind development area, known as the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project, east of Virginia Beach.
Credit: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

“Data collected under this research lease will help us understand the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to generating power from wind offshore Virginia,” Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in a statement. “It will allow us to gain experience with new offshore renewable energy technology.”

Virginia’s offshore wind development is part of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for building 20,000 megawatts of wind power on federally-controlled lands and waters by 2020 — tapping just a tiny portion of America’s offshore wind energy potential.

As part of that plan, the federal government has been designating large swaths of coastline for future offshore wind development, most recently more than 344,000 acres off the Jersey Shore with the potential to power 1.2 million homes and another off the coast of Long Island, which could provide wind power to New York City.

The federal government has also announced that it’s taking the first steps toward leasing waters off the coasts of California and South Carolina for offshore wind energy development.

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Antarctica at Risk of Runaway Melting, Scientists Discover

The world’s greatest reservoir of ice is verging on a breakdown that could push seas to heights not experienced since prehistoric times, drowning dense coastal neighborhoods during the decades ahead, new computer models have shown.

A pair of researchers developed the models to help them understand high sea levels during previous eras of warmer temperatures. Then they ran simulations using those models and found that rising levels of greenhouse gases could trigger runaway Antarctic melting that alone could push sea levels up by more than three feet by century’s end.

The same models showed that Antarctica’s ice sheet would remain largely intact if the most ambitious goals of last year’s Paris agreement on climate change are achieved.

Antarctica.
Credit: Eugene Kaspersky/Flickr

The new findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, helping to fill yawning gaps in earlier projections of sea level rise.

The models were produced by a collaboration between two scientists that began in the 1990s. In those models, rising air temperatures in Antarctica caused meltwater to seep into cracks in floating shelves of ice, disintegrating them and exposing sheer cliffs that collapsed under their own weight into the Southern Ocean.

Similar effects of warming are already being observed in Greenland and in some parts of Antarctica, as greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels, farming and deforestation warms the air. Last year was the hottest on record, easily surpassing a record set one year earlier. The ice sheets are also being melted from beneath by warming ocean temperatures.

“Sea level has risen a lot — 10 to 20 meters — in warm periods in the past, and our ice sheet models couldn’t make the Antarctic ice sheet retreat enough to explain that,” said David Pollard, a Penn State climate scientist who produced Wednesday’s study with UMass professor Robert DeConto.

“We were looking for new mechanisms that could make the ice more vulnerable to climate warming to explain past sea level rise,” Pollard said.

The breakdown that they discovered was not triggered when warming in the models was limited to levels similar to those called for under the Paris Agreement — something that Pollard described as potentially “good news.” That agreement aims to keep warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F) compared with preindustrial times. Since then, temperatures have already warmed 1°C.

“You need to have a lot of melt to do this,” Pollard said.

Although the Paris Agreement contained highly ambitious goals, individual countries have not come close to committing to action plans that would ensure that the goals are actually realized.

If pollution continues to be released without being reined in, the modeling showed that high Antarctic air temperatures could lead to melting that would push up sea levels by dozens of feet during the centuries ahead. Warmer ocean waters would prevent a recovery for thousands of years after that, the scientists found.

Ongoing work is planned to refine the projections, which remain imprecise, but are nonetheless being hailed by climate scientists as an important step forward in understanding the planet’s future.

“It’s an important paper,” said Luke Trusel, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist who was not involved in producing it, and who has recently published high-profile research on Antarctica and climate change.

“It really starts to look at some of the more underappreciated aspects of climate change across Antarctica,” Trusel said. “They’re starting to look at how sensitive ice shelves are to climate change.”

Assessments by the United Nations and others have previously assumed the effects on Antarctica’s ice sheet would be negligible as temperatures rise. The new study is the latest in a growing list of peer-reviewed papers that rejects that optimistic scenario as unrealistic.

In major East Coast cities, where land is sinking at the same time that seas are rising, an independent analysis by Climate Central shows that the rapid Antarctic melting described by the new modeling effort would push tide levels up by between five and six feet this century alone.

Climate Central’s analysis combined mid-range values from the new projections for Antarctic melting with previous mid-range projections regarding global sea level rise, along with local factors such as sinking that naturally occurs in some areas. It illuminated the dangerous collective impacts of the different ways that climate change is expected to affect sea levels.

If climate pollution is quickly and dramatically reined in, the analysis shows sea level rise in major East Coast cities, including New York, Boston and Baltimore, could be kept to less than two feet — which could nonetheless see developed stretches of shorelines regularly or permanently flooded.

Problems associated with sea level rise are expected to be worse in Louisiana, where stretches of land are being lost to erosion caused by flood control projects and gas and oil exploration. New Orleans could see more than seven feet of sea level rise by 2100, Climate Central’s analysis of the new findings showed.

West Coast cities would experience four to five feet of sea level rise by 2100, Climate Central found.

The new paper by Pollard and DeConto was received positively by sea level rise scientists. That contrasts with overwhelmingly skeptical responses to a recent apocalyptic scenario that was finalized and published last week by a team of researchers led by well-known scientist-turned-activist James Hansen.

Hansen’s 52-page academic treatise, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics following an unconventional peer review process, described a dystopian near-future in which climate change triggers superstorms and more than 10 feet of sea-level.

John Church, an Australian government scientist who specializes in sea level rise projections, cautioned that the experiments used to produce Wednesday’s paper were based on too few models to give him total confidence in the findings. But he said his “overall reaction” to the paper was “positive.”

“Yes, the projections are larger than previous estimates,” Church said. “But not in the unrealistic range like Hansen et al.”

The recent Hansen paper was a “worse-case scenario,” said NASA scientist Eric Rignot, one of its coauthors.

Rignot said the Antarctic study published Wednesday was “absolutely realistic.”

“I think it is setting up a new paradigm for sea level projections, because their numbers are much higher than those from traditional ice sheet models with incomplete or simplified physics,” Rignot said. “Once the ice shelves are gone, melted away, calving of big walls will be the dominant process of mass wastage. It is a great paper.”

•••

To create the maps in this story, Climate Central adjusted existing local sea level rise projections to account for DeConto and Pollard’s new findings​,​ rounded​ results​ to the nearest foot​, and took matching screenshots from our Surging Seas Risk Zone Map. We used local median sea level projections from Kopp et al. 2014 and replaced the Antarctic component with the average ​of the central projections​ from the two main scenarios in the new paper.


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California ISO approves 13 transmission line projects

The California ISO CEO discussed gas and electricity coordination with summer approaching

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Washington nuclear power plant unexpectedly shuts down

The last time the power plant had an unplanned shutdown, known as a scram, was in November 2009 

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Virginia corporation commission OKs Dominion's Greensville power plant

Customers will save $2.1 billion over the life of the power plant through fuel savings versus the projected cost of purchasing electricity on the open market

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