Renewable Energy Focus
Earth Techling - Sep 25
Forecasts of doom for the California power grid have been popping up since the state began its aggressive pursuit of more renewable energy, and have became more emphatic since the San Onofre nuclear power plant, in Southern California, went offline at the end of January 2012. Now two summers have passed and fresh data shows renewables assuming an ever-growing share of the state’s energy generation – at times providing more than one-quarter of a day’s output. But so far, no doom. As cited in a new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report, on May 26 this year, total 24-hour demand on CAISO, California’s main grid system, was 556,549 megawatt-hours. Renewables – and here we’re not counting large hydro – totaled 145,734 megawatt-hours. That’s 26 percent of all the energy used on CAISO. With the June decision to shut down San Onofre for good, it’s clear that renewable energy will only become a more important piece of the California energy puzzle. The May 26 report demonstrates that renewables can produce a lot of power, but according to Tyson Brown, who prepared the EIA analysis, renewables aren’t the full story behind California’s success in meeting electricity demand for the past couple of years. “They have been adding a lot of solar and wind, but they’ve also done a lot of transmission upgrades and additions of natural gas generation,” Brown said in an interview.
SustainableBusiness.com - Sep 20
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its second try at carbon regulations for new power plants, after going back to the drawing board last year. These would be the first rules that address carbon dioxide as a pollutant - ordered by the Supreme Court years ago under the Clean Air Act, but since then the subject of endless lawsuits and legislation from the fossil fuel lobby - all of which the EPA won. The fight now begins again. The EPA's proposed rules only limit carbon pollution from new power plants - rules for existing power plants, which are way more important, come out by next June.
Huffington Post - Sep 24
Wear-and-tear costs on coal and natural gas power plants from adding high levels of wind and solar energy in the western U.S. is small compared with the benefits of generating less power using fossil fuels, a federal study said Tuesday. The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory determined the western power grid could accommodate 30 percent wind and 5 percent solar energy in 2017. But to keep the grid reliable when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, utilities will have to ramp their gas and coal-fired plants up and down more frequently, a process known in the power industry as cycling. The NREL said that cycling gas and coal plants would add about $35 million to $157 million per year in operating and maintenance expenses, depending on how much wind and solar is actually installed, by 2020. However, that is well below the estimated $7 billion per year that the increased use of wind and solar power would save in gas and coal fuel costs, the NREL said.
EarthTechling - Sep 19
It’s not all about solar for Palo Alto, California. Sure, the Silicon Valley city offers generous installation rebates, has a feed-in tariff program, and has contracted for some of the cheapest utility-scale solar known to man, at 6.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. But Palo Alto is also big on landfill gas-to-energy, and a new project 90 miles down U.S. Highway 101 in Gonzales, California, is expected to provide the city around 10.4 gigawatt-hours of electricity every year. The project takes advantage of gas bubbling up from the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority’s Johnson Canyon Landfill. These gases, produced by the decomposition of trash, previously had been flared off to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That was better than nothing, since it converted the methane to carbon dioxide, a less potent greenhouse gas, but it introduced other potential environmental hazards while also failing to take advantage of the opportunity to make use of the energy in the gas. The new plant was built by Ameresco, which is becoming a frequent partner of Palo Alto’s.
GreenTech Media Headlines - Sep 17
After seven years, the Department of Energy (DOE) has failed to meet its goals for commercial scale biofuels refineries, according to a new report from the DOE's Inspector General. To anyone following the ongoing technical and financial troubles in the biofuels industry, the Inspector General's assessment of the results isn't a big surprise. But the audit provides an official progress (or, lack of progress) report of the government's $603 million biofuels push. "The EPAct [Energy Policy Act] mandate to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries had not been met and the Department was not on target to meet its biofuels production capacity goal," wrote Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman in the report.
SFGate - Business & Technology News - Sep 14
Just outside Vacaville sits a battery pack big enough to power more than 1,500 homes. The system, installed last year at a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) substation, uses a combination of sodium and sulfur to store energy. It can back up the electricity generated by a small solar power plant nearby, whose output changes with the rising and falling sun. Or PG&E can use the 2-megawatt battery pack to smooth out other fluctuations in the amount of electricity traveling over local power lines. Little noticed by the public, large-scale energy storage may soon get its moment in the spotlight. This month, California energy regulators proposed requiring the state's utility companies to buy more than 1.3 gigawatts of electricity storage by 2020 - enough electricity to supply 993,750 typical homes at any given instant.
Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals
Monitor Daily - Sep 17
CIT said that it arranged a $100 million senior secured credit facility for AWCC Holdings, a subsidiary of American Wind Capital, to acquire a portfolio of land leases and lease royalties from solar projects from Hawaii to New York. CIT Corporate Finance, Energy served as lead arranger in the transaction and financing was provided by CIT Bank. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Energy Business Review - Solar News - Sep 20
First Solar has started construction on the 150-megawatt Solar Gen 2 project in Imperial County, California, which will generate enough electricity to power over 60,000 homes. San Diego Gas & Electric will purchase the electricity generated by the project under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Construction of the plant, which will create around 800 construction jobs, is likely to complete by July 2014.
eSolar Energy News - Sep 17
Energy Capital Group, is developing ECG Utah Solar 1 a 300-megawatt solar plant adjacent to the Intermountain Power Plant. This will be one of the largest solar projects built and cost an estimated $600 million. ECG is leasing 1754 acres from the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration. The location is ideal as the infrastructure includes a HVDC transmission line going directly to California.