Rapid renewables growth brings challenges for California and other states
S&P Global – April 8
Renewable power generation growth in the U.S. is expected to overtake natural gas-fired power generation by 2045, according to the U.S. Energy Administration. As the renewables fleet grows, grid operators will increasingly have to manage oversupply, likely through generation curtailments, and address the negative impacts that low power prices will have on future generation development. California has provided a stunning example of these challenges. Renewable output across the California Independent System Operator nearly doubled in the last decade to account for roughly 40 percent of its total fuel mix in 2019, according to ISO data. This rapid growth has also brought with it adverse impacts, including generation curtailments that surpassed 17,000 megawatt-hours on April 1. While large amounts of generation are being curtailed, it is still a fraction of overall generation. Nevertheless, this problem is only going to become more challenging in the future as even more solar is added to the grid. There are increasing efforts to pair storage with solar generation to address the problems directly. The current California ISO interconnection queue includes active requests for 14.5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic, 10.5 gigawatts of solar PV with storage as a secondary generation source, 14.9 gigawatts of storage with solar PV as a secondary source, and 16 gigawatts of storage with no secondary source.
U.S. Trade Representative removes tariff exemption for bifacial solar panels — again
Greentech Media - April 17
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will once again withdraw an exclusion it had previously granted to two-sided solar panels, after determining “the bifacial solar panel exclusion is undermining the objectives” of the Section 201 tariffs placed on solar cells and modules in 2018. The agency published the withdrawal notice in the Federal Register last Friday. The move would eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the exemption — which had been instituted, withdrawn, and reestablished over the course of several months last year. The exclusion for bifacial panels, one of two the USTR granted to the solar tariffs, set off a tussle within the solar industry when it was established in 2019. Companies that had invested in U.S. manufacturing plants in the wake of the Section 201 tariffs opposed the exclusion, arguing it helped internationally manufactured panels undercut domestically produced product. The vast majority of bifacial panels are made outside the U.S. But the industry’s largest U.S. trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, has contended the exclusion provides vital support to a budding technology.
Del Mar votes to stick with North County community energy program
The San Diego Union-Tribune – April 17
Del Mar is not going to leave the newly formed community energy aggregation (CCA) program it joined with the cities of Carlsbad and Solana Beach but members of Del Mar’s city council raised the question of delaying the CCA’s rollout by a year amid mounting financial pressure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. During a virtual meeting conducted last Thursday, the Del Mar city council affirmed a commitment to stick with its neighboring North County cities and go forward with an initial payment of $150,000 to cover its share of startup costs in a joint power agreement creating the three-city CCA called the Clean Energy Alliance.
8minute takes U.S. pipeline to 18 GW, boasts new investment
PV-Tech – April 23
8minute Solar Energy has added 3 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects to its pipeline through its key markets of California, Texas, and the Southwest, taking the developer’s tally to more than 18 gigawatts. The company also confirmed that it had sourced additional corporate-level funding to develop that pipeline further, noting that it would also help advance the firm’s so-called “new generation” project design that incorporates battery storage. While no specific details of projects were forthcoming, 8minute stressed that it was keen to replicate the model spearheaded by its Eland Solar & Storage Center in Kern County.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors votes to move forward on renewable energy proposal
Fox 5 San Diego – April 21
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors (Board) this Tuesday took steps toward a streamlined process for renewable energy projects, including possible locations in neighboring counties. The Board voted 3-2 to direct Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to present findings on streamlined environmental review and potential sites by October 1. It will consider funding later. Board Chair Greg Cox and Supervisor Jim Desmond made the proposal, which Cox said is in line with the county’s climate action plan. Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Dianne Jacob cast the dissenting votes. The Board voted 3-2 in October in favor of a community choice energy plan, giving residents and businesses more options to purchase electricity. Cox said community choice energy plans don’t mandate clean energy goals.
Community choice energy providers acquire long-term renewable resources
Benito Link – April 22
California community choice energy agencies Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) have signed two significant renewable energy contracts, one for geothermal generation and the other for solar power. The geothermal contract is with the Coso Geothermal Project, an existing facility in Inyo County. MBCP and SVCE will also procure power from the Rabbitbrush project in Kern County, which will provide 3 percent of their total electricity needs through a combined capacity of 100 megawatts of solar PV and 20 megawatts of battery energy storage. The plant is scheduled to become operational in 2022.
SPI Energy acquires Oregon solar project
Solar Industry Magazine - April 22
SPI Energy Co. Ltd. has acquired the Cork solar project from the previously announced framework agreement to acquire up to eight solar projects in the state of Oregon. The Cork solar project will produce a total of approximately 1.89 megawatts in Clackamas County. The project is part of the newly formed Oregon Community Solar Program, which enables Portland General Electric users to save up to 10 percent on their electricity bills from off-site solar gardens.