Renewable Energy Update -- May 2014 #2

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

White House announces new action on solar energy

TIME - May 9

The White House is announcing executive actions to advance clean energy on Friday, including $2 billion worth of upgrades to federal buildings to make them more efficient over the next three years. President Obama will announce the planned upgrades on Friday in California, where he has been fundraising for Democrats running for the Senate since Wednesday. At the core of Obama’s announcement is a renewed focus on solar energy, including 300 new public and private sector commitments to make solar power more accessible. According to the White House, the commitments represent enough solar energy to power 130,000 homes. Among the commitments are proposals to use more solar energy in affordable and low-income housing units, and expansion of solar energy at retail stores including Walmart, Apple, and Ikea.

Why the French are building solar power plants in California

The Atlantic - May 7

The investment tax credit, or ITC, has proved wildly successful, helping spur a huge expansion of solar energy in the U.S. A record 4,751 megawatts of photovoltaic power capacity went online in 2013, a 41 percent jump from the previous year, and 15 times as much as was installed in 2008, when the ITC went into effect. Now the party is almost over. At the end of 2016, the ITC will only be worth 10 percent of a project’s cost. And it helps explain why the solar arm of French energy giant EDF on Tuesday said it has hired First Solar to supply photovoltaic panels and build three power plants in California’s Central Valley that will generate about 43 megawatts of electricity for utility Pacific Gas & Electric. As solar projects go, this is rather small pommes de terre. But speed counts as much as size these days. On a conference call with investors Tuesday, First Solar chief executive Jim Hughes said the French projects will be finished in early 2015, easily beating the 2016 tax credit deadline. On the other hand, a so-called utility scale power plant – 100 megawatts or more – can take far longer to build. The company makes most of its money building and operating photovoltaic power plants, and Hughes said demand is growing across the U.S. as 2016 approaches. For instance, First Solar will soon announce a new 150-megawatt power project to be built in California, he said. But the real action is happening overseas. Hughes said that 57 percent of First Solar’s 12.2 gigawatts of potential future projects are outside the U.S., in burgeoning markets like Latin America, the Middle East, and India.

Tesla CEO Musk makes California an 'improbable' Gigafactory contender

Sacramento Business Journal - May 8

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said that California is back in the running as a potential site for his Gigafactory battery plant while characterizing the state's chances of landing the facility as "improbable." That puts California in competition with Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona for the $4 billion to $5 billion plant. Musk also said the company may break ground on the project as early as next month, ratcheting up anticipation of which states he'll choose — and potentially giving the competing states motivation to make their best offer of incentive packages quickly. In a conference call following release of Tesla's first-quarter earnings, Musk said that California's circuitous project-approval process could take too long — a big risk to the Gigafactory timeline. He said that Governor Jerry Brown was working to mitigate that risk.

U.S. industry optimistic on PTC extension

Wind Power Monthly News - May 7

The wind energy industry is optimistic that a two-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) will pass when the measure comes up for a vote in the U.S. Senate, said American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Keirnan. Speaking at the association's annual conference in Las Vegas, Kiernan said: "We think it is quite probable that it will come up next week. And our sense of the support in the Senate is that it is quite strong. "We've got a lot of Democratic champions, we have some important Republican champions, so we think we've got well over the minimum 60 votes needed to get it passed." The bill would extend the PTC to projects that start construction before the end of 2015.

Solar seen bailing California out of summer hydro shortage

Bloomberg - May 9

California, facing a record drought that’s dried up hydropower supplies and spurred wildfires, has enough electricity to supply peak demand this summer thanks to a jump in solar and gas-fired generation, according to the state’s grid manager. Demand in the state, which uses more power than any other except Texas, is expected to reach 47,351 megawatts when rising temperatures boost air conditioner use, the California Independent System Operator Corp. (ISO) said in an assessment today. The system will have 56,550 megawatts at its disposal when demand peaks, with 3,243 new megawatts of mostly solar and gas-fired power coming online by June 1, the ISO said. The new generation will help alleviate strain on California’s grid as it deals with the shutdown of Edison International’s San Onofre nuclear plant and water shortages that are expected to shrink hydropower supplies and may halt output at other plants. While the state has enough resources, it still faces a rise in power prices and reliability challenges, the ISO said.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Forever 21 selects PermaCity Solar to install LA’s largest rooftop solar project

Solar Builder Magazine - May 9

In an event today attended by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, PermaCity Solar and American fashion retailer Forever 21 unveiled plans to install a 5.1-megawatt high efficiency SunPower solar power system at Forever 21's headquarters in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The system will be the largest single-rooftop solar power system in Los Angeles County and the third-largest in California.

FirstElement Fuel receives CEC grant to build hydrogen fueling network in U.S.

Clean Technology Business Review News - May 5

FirstElement Fuel has been awarded a $27.6 million grant by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build a consumer hydrogen fueling network for the fuel cell electric vehicle market by fall of 2015. Once completed, the fueling network would enable consumers to drive and fill up their fuel cell vehicles across California. The company plans to have its first 19 stations running in the fall of 2015, prior to the launch of vehicles from various manufacturers.



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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