The weakest S&P 500 subsector during 2014 was Oil and Gas Drilling, down 46%, which wasn’t very surprising, considering the price of oil dropped 50% from its peak in June through the end of the year. That subsector has risen 6% this year through Monday’s close, showing that there’s plenty of buying taking place. Most other subsectors within energy declined last year, but only three have risen so far in 2015.
The UK has been a net importer of energy for over a decade, and as their generation capacity and reserves decrease the level of importing is reaching an all-time high.[127] Their fuel price's dependence on international markets has a huge effect on the cost of electricity, especially if the exchange rate falls. Being energy dependent makes their electricity prices vulnerable to world events, as well.
Wind and solar power are non-dispatchable. Such power is normally sold before any other bids, at a pre-determined rate for each supplier. Any excess is sold to another grid operator, or stored, using pumped-storage hydroelectricity, or in the worst case, curtailed.[116] Curtailment could potentially significantly impact solar power’s economic and environmental benefits at greater PV penetration levels.[117] Allocation is done by bidding.[118]
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Excessive Total Harmonic Distortions (THD) and not unity Power Factor (PF) is costly at every level of the electricity market. Cost of PF and THD impact is difficult to estimate, but both can potentially cause heat, vibrations, malfunctioning and even meltdowns. Power factor is the ratio of real to apparent power in a power system. Drawing more current results in a lower power factor. Larger currents require costlier infrastructure to minimize power loss, so consumers with low power factors get charged a higher electricity rate by their utility.[130] True power factor is made of displacement power factor and THD. Power quality is typically monitored at the transmission level. A spectrum of compensation devices[131] mitigate bad outcomes, but improvements can be achieved only with real-time correction devices (old style switching type,[132] modern low-speed DSP driven[133] and near real-time[134]). Most modern devices reduce problems, while maintaining return on investment and significant reduction of ground currents. Power quality problems can cause erroneous responses from many kinds of analog and digital equipment, where the response could be unpredictable.
Snowpack, streamflows, seasonality, salmon, etc. all affect the amount of water that can flow through a dam at any given time. Forecasting these variables predicts the available potential energy for a dam for a given period.[124] Some regions such as the Egypt, China and the Pacific Northwest get significant generation from hydroelectric dams. In 2015, SAIDI and SAIFI more than doubled from the previous year in Zambia due to low water reserves in their hydroelectric dams caused by insufficient rainfall.[125]
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