Renewable Energy Update - July 2017 #4

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Just how far can California possibly go on climate?

New York Times - Jul 26 Over the past decade, California has passed a sweeping set of climate laws to test a contentious theory: that it’s possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond what any other state has done and still enjoy robust economic growth. If California prevails, it could provide a model for other policy makers, even as President Trump scales back the federal government’s efforts on climate change. The state may also develop new technologies that the rest of the world can use to cut emissions. Last August, the State Legislature set a goal of slashing emissions more than 40 percent below today’s levels by 2030, a far deeper cut than President Obama proposed for the entire United States and deeper than most other countries have contemplated. On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed a new law expanding the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is expected to play a big role. The state plans to rethink every corner of its economy, from urban planning to dairy farms. Until now, most states have followed a standard playbook for curbing emissions. But California has now plucked most of that low-hanging fruit. The state’s emissions are nearly back to 1990 levels, it barely uses any coal, and it has installed as many solar panels as the rest of the country combined. Per capita, California has the third-lowest emissions in the nation, after New York and the District of Columbia, which means further cuts will come less easily than they would for a state like Texas.

Mercom: VCs invested $480 million in battery energy storage in first half of 2017

Energy Storage News - Jul 25 The amount of energy storage investment that came from VC (venture capital) funding more than doubled in the first half of 2017 compared to last year, a new report has found. Mercom Capital has just published the latest in its quarterly series of funding and mergers and acquisition reports, covering the battery energy storage, smart grid, and energy efficiency sectors. VCs in the first six months of this year put nearly half a billion dollars ($480 million) into energy storage companies, smashing the $179 million figure raised in the first half of 2016. The average deal size appears to have jumped significantly too – the H1 2017 figure came from 18 deals in total, while the H1 2016 figure was actually from a larger pool of 20 deals.

Wind and solar outstrip state renewable energy mandates

PV Magazine - Jul 26 Renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies have been the bedrock of utility-scale solar and wind development in the United States. These policies were particularly important in the early years of mass wind and solar deployment, and from 2000 through 2007 nearly all utility-scale non-hydro renewable energy was driven by RPS requirements. However, this is changing – and fast. The latest report by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) on the state of RPS policies finds that such mandates were responsible for only 44 percent of U.S. non-hydro renewable energy deployment in 2016, and even less in regions such as the Midwest, Texas, the Plains states, and the Southeast. In fact, LBNL found that compared to the 283 terawatt-hours (TWh) of annual non-hydro renewable energy generation added since 2000, RPS policies required only 146 TWh.

Electric bus maker Proterra opens California factory

SFGate - Jul 26 Proterra, a Burlingame-based builder of electric buses, opened a factory in the Los Angeles area Wednesday in an effort to move some of its manufacturing closer to its West Coast customers. The company’s new facility in the City of Industry will build buses for public transit agencies throughout California as well as other western states. Until now, all of the company’s battery-powered buses have been built in South Carolina and shipped to customers — a sometimes expensive proposition. The company moved its headquarters to California in 2015 after concluding that the state — with its strong emphasis on fighting climate change — could become its biggest market.

Environmental groups reach conservation agreement for 247-MW California solar project

Renewable Energy World - Jul 25 Last week, Sierra Club said it joined Defenders of Wildlife, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Panoche Valley Solar in signing a settlement agreement concerning the size and location of the planned 247-megawatt Panoche Valley solar power project in California. The environmental groups had filed lawsuits over endangered species and habitat they believed was threatened by the project, which was originally proposed in 2009. As a result of the agreement, about 100 megawatts of the project now will be developed at a site in Imperial County, subject to approval by Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission. This settlement will reduce the size of the project in the Panoche Valley to slightly more than 1,300 acres, down from 5,000 acres.

California’s DRAM tops 200 MW, as utilities pick winners for distributed energy as grid resources

Greentech Media - Jul 26 California’s big three utilities have asked regulators to approve more than 200 megawatts of contracts in the final round of a program that could set market rules for distributed energy in the state in the years to come. The program is the Demand Response Auction Mechanism, or DRAM, which, since 2015, has allowed distributed energy resource aggregators to offer their services to utilities and the state’s grid energy markets. In the past month, utilities Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric have asked the California Public Utilities Commission to approve their final DRAM procurements, with a total of 200 megawatts of contracts for delivery in 2018 and 2019 -- a more than fivefold increase from the first round’s 40 megawatts of contracts, and more than double the second round’s 82 megawatts.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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