U.S. Department of Energy targets vastly cheaper batteries to clean up the grid
The New York Times – July 14
The Energy Department on Wednesday announced a new effort to tackle one of the toughest technical challenges facing President Joe Biden's push for an electric grid dominated by solar and wind power. While dozens of companies are working on different ideas for so-called "long-duration energy storage," most are still too expensive to be useful. As part of its initiative, the Energy Department wants to drive down the cost of long-duration storage 90% below the cost of today's lithium-ion batteries by 2030. The agency will direct experts at its national labs to focus on improving such technologies while it seeks funding from Congress for early demonstration projects.
Western officials reckon with reliability challenges as heat and 'wildcard' wildfire threaten grid
Utility Dive – July 13
Energy officials in the Western U.S. are reckoning with short and long-term electricity reliability challenges as soaring temperatures and a "wildcard" wildfire strain the power grid. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), over the weekend, urged consumers to conserve electricity, as the state experienced triple-digit temperatures, lost some generating capacity, and was faced by a quickly spreading wildfire in Oregon that jeopardized stretches of transmission lines used to bring electricity into the state. State regulatory officials, meanwhile, gathered last week to take a closer look at the reliability challenges California could face as it moves towards its goal of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2045.
The lurking threat to the growth of solar
MIT Technology Review – July 14
A few lonely academics have been warning for years that solar power faces a fundamental challenge that could halt the industry's breakneck growth. Simply put: the more solar you add to the grid, the less valuable it becomes. A new report finds that California, which produces one of the largest shares of solar power in the world, is already acutely experiencing this phenomenon, known as solar value deflation. The state's average solar wholesale prices have fallen 37% relative to the average electricity prices for other sources since 2014, according to the Breakthrough Institute analysis, published on July 14.
Solar investment activity boomed in H1 2021
Solar Industry Magazine – July 8
Mercom Capital Group's second-quarter/first-half 2021 report on funding and merger and acquisition activity in the solar sector shows that total corporate funding (including venture capital funding, public market, and debt financing) in H1 of 2021 came to $13.5 billion compared to $4.6 billion in H1 2020, representing a 193% year-over-year increase. In H1 2021, venture capital funding was 680% higher, with $1.6 billion raised in 26 deals compared to the $210 million that went into 14 deals in the first half of 2020.
NREL: U.S. utility-scale solar PV could be as cheap as $16.89/MWh by 2030
PV-Tech – July 13
Utility-scale solar PV in the U.S. could be as a cheap as $16.89/MWh by the end of the decade, new analysis published by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has shown. While costs will continue to fall out to 2050, NREL's analysis shows a leveling off of cost reductions.
San Diego County Planning Commission recommends approval of Jacumba solar project
The San Diego Union-Tribune – July 9
On a 5-2 vote last Friday, the San Diego County Planning Commission recommended the county’s Board of Supervisors move forward on the construction of a solar project covering more than 600 acres, next to the desert town of Jacumba Hot Springs. But the recommendation, which came after some spirited debate, calls for a slight reduction to the project's footprint and increased buffer zones for what would be called the JVR Energy Park. The project will also include a 70-MW energy storage facility powered by lithium-ion batteries.
San Diego to install green energy 'microgrids' at eight buildings
KPBS – July 7
San Diego is outfitting eight city buildings, including rec centers, police, and fire stations, with solar panels and giant batteries — so-called "microgrids" — in an effort to increase power reliability in the face of climate change. The microgrids, approved by the San Diego City Council last week, will save taxpayers $6 million in energy costs over 25 years, according to a city analysis. Construction is expected to begin in May 2022. Shell New Energies, a subsidiary of the Dutch multinational corporation, will pay for the installation and maintenance of the eight microgrids and charge the city for the electricity it uses at rates cheaper than SDG&E, according to the city.
Utah landfill converted to 4.7-MW solar project
Solar Power World – July 12
Prometheus Power built a 4.7-MW community solar project in Spanish Fork, Utah, using Solar FlexRack's Series B cast-in-place ballasted mounting solution on a 27-acre landfill site that was unsuitable for commercial development. The project is managed by Utah Municipal Power Agency and represents the largest landfill solar project in the state. There has been a nearly 80% increase in landfill solar projects built in the United States over the past five years.