California sets goal to double clean energy by 2030
Reuters – March 26
California last Thursday adopted a new emissions target for its electric sector that would double the state’s clean energy capacity over the next decade and close the door to the development of new natural gas plants, but green groups said the goal was not aggressive enough. The state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 46 million metric tons by 2030, 56 percent below 1990 levels. The goal outpaces the state’s overall target of slashing emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. California electricity providers will need to develop nearly 25 gigawatts of renewable energy and battery storage to achieve the goal, nearly double the amount the state has currently, CPUC Commissioner Liane Randolph said in a statement. The agency anticipates 8,900 megawatts of energy storage will be included in that total, or about eight times more than existed in the entire United States at the end of 2018.
Renewables industry seeks aid from next stimulus bill
Greentech Media - April 1
The U.S. renewables industry was left out of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill passed last week. However Congress is already considering further legislation to rescue the economy from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Renewable energy groups are ready to bring their proposals back to the table, focusing on two key concepts. The first is extending “safe-harbor” deadlines for receiving the credits that may be thrown off track by the pandemic’s economic disruptions. The safe-harbor fix could potentially be made by the Treasury Department, without a need for congressional action, at least for solar. The second is allowing the relatively small pool of tax equity investors in renewable projects to receive some of their value back as refundable credits or via “direct pay” provisions. Tax equity investors are likely to have lower tax liabilities amid an economic downturn and thus less “tax appetite.” The ostensibly revenue-neutral aspect of these two requests could help differentiate solar and wind from requests for support in other areas like energy storage, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
Coastal gas plant will shut down by 2023 as California transitions from fossil fuels
Los Angeles Times – March 30
The long-awaited sale of 51 acres of prime waterfront real estate in Redondo Beach has been finalized — and it includes a commitment to shutting down the site’s gas-fired power plant, in the latest sign of California’s transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels. Power plant operator AES Corp. said this Monday that it had closed on a sale of the land to real estate developer Leo Pustilnikov, in a deal that requires the company to stop operating the gas-burning generators by 2023. As part of the deal, Pustilnikov, who declined to disclose the purchase price, agreed to preserve as much as half of the site as public parkland, including several acres of coastal wetlands that were paved over decades ago. But those commitments aren’t likely to end years of squabbling over the coastal power plant’s future. And they won’t diminish the challenge of fully replacing natural gas, California’s largest power source, with climate-friendly energy sources.
California fuel cell company pivots to fixing old ventilators to give to hospitals
Fast Company – April 1
In one worst-case scenario, as many as 960,000 patients with COVID-19 in the U.S. might need to use ventilators, the life-saving hospital equipment that helps patients breathe when they can’t on their own. But there are only around 160,000 ventilators in the country, according to an analysis from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. As manufacturers like General Motors and Ford pivot to making ventilators, a California company called Bloom Energy is taking another approach—refurbishing some of the thousands of ventilators that currently sit in storage because they’ve reached their end-of-service life. Bloom Energy, a fuel cell company that is continuing to manufacture the energy devices that it supplies to buildings including supermarkets and hospitals, now has production lines bringing old ventilators back into service. Two weeks ago, as coronavirus cases surged in the U.S., Governor Gavin Newsom put out a call for manufacturers to help fill critical gaps in equipment, including ventilators.
Arizona commission signals support for 100% clean energy by 2050
PV Magazine – March 27
The Arizona Corporation Commission has directed its staff to develop a set of rules to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050, Commission Chair Robert Burns said in a letter this Wednesday. Fourteen other states have mandates or goals for 100 percent clean or renewable electricity by 2050 or earlier, as do Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The Arizona Corporation Commission is the state’s “co-equal, fourth branch of government,” according to a commission press release. The commission was established by the state constitution to regulate public utilities, and its members are elected by the voters of Arizona.
Bay Area startup wants to turn your windows into solar panels
East Bay Times – March 31
What if every window in your house could generate electricity? One Redwood City, California-based startup thinks its technology can achieve that by transforming the way solar power is collected and harnessed. Ubiquitous Energy has developed transparent solar cells to create its ClearView Power windows, a kind of “solar glass” that can turn sunlight into energy without needing the bluish-grey opaque panels generally associated with those cells. The company, spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, hopes to use that technology to turn practically any everyday glass surface into a solar cell. Ubiquitous Energy’s home state of California is one of the first to require that every new home incorporate some form of solar technology.
McKinleyville Community Services District installing microgrid at wastewater treatment plant to cut electricity costs
Microgrid Knowledge - March 13
The McKinleyville Community Services District in Humboldt County has selected Ameresco to build a $2 million microgrid at a local wastewater treatment plant. While California has seen a wave of microgrid projects in response to wildfire-related power outages, the McKinleyville project is driven by a desire to cut electricity costs. The project includes a 580-kilowatt solar array, a 500-kilowatt battery energy storage system that can produce 1,340 kilowatt-hours in a single discharge, and an existing diesel generator. The project will save the district about $65,000 in lower electricity costs in its first year of operations, according to Ameresco’s bid packet.