Renewable Energy Update -- May 2014 #3

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

California regulators side with solar

Green Building Advisor - Apr 23

Hundreds of battery-backed PV installations that have been delayed by red tape and extra fees should be connected to the grid under a proposed decision from state regulators, Greentech Media reports. The California Public Utilities Commission decision breaks a 12-month deadlock during which three state utilities have demanded extensive reviews and fees of as much as $3,700 before a system could be installed, the website says. Utilities claimed they were motivated by safety concerns and by fears that homeowners would use batteries to store grid electricity and then sell it back to the utility under net-metering arrangements.

General Electric Financial Services passes $10 billion milestone on renewable energy investments - Apr 28

General Electric's Financial Services arm has become a leading renewable energy investor, announcing that the company has exceeded $10 billion in investments worldwide. Going forward, it plans to continue investing over $1 billion a year in solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects, noting that they often have the dual benefit of facilitating sales of GE's energy technologies. 4400 GE wind turbines are in use in wind farms, underscoring its ability to provide both capital and technology, the company says. In Southern California, GE's power inverters are being used in the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project, which will be the largest in the U.S. when it's finished.

U.S. DOE announces $15 million to help communities boost solar energy deployment

Solar Thermal Magazine - Apr 18

In support of the Obama Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the Energy Department today announced $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses. Broadly, the Energy Department funding announced today will help drive affordable, efficient solar power in the U.S. and help industry partners meet the SunShot Initiative goal to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.

U.S. solar installations fell by one third in the first quarter of 2014

PV Tech News - Apr 22

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has revealed that 584 megawatts of new large-scale solar energy capacity was installed in the first quarter of 2014. In California, 131 megawatts of solar power came online, with the 6-megawatt Shasta Solar Farm project in Shasta County and the 125-megawatt Genesis Solar Energy Project, Phase 2 in Riverside County. FERC’s Office of Energy Projects’ energy infrastructure update for March 2014 reported that just for the month of March, 151 megawatts of new solar generation from nine projects was brought online. In total from January to March 2014, 47 new solar projects came online with a generating capacity of 584 megawatts. This is in comparison to the same period last year, when 66 solar projects totaling 877 megawatts came online. However, solar still leads renewables generation by some distance, with only 93 megawatts of wind and 1 megawatt of hydropower and zero geothermal and biomass recorded for March.

Californians used less electricity in 2013

Sacramento Business Journal - Apr 30

California’s average annual and peak electric load decreased in 2013, according to the California Independent System Operator. The system operator manages one of the largest electrical grids in the world. Whether by conservation or efficiency or some other reason, California in 2013 used 1.3 percent less electricity than it did in 2012. The state’s annual peak load in 2013 was down 3.7 percent compared to 2012’s peak — and 2013 was a five-year low. The state saw additions of solar electrical generation and gas-fired electrical generation, but much of that is offset by the loss of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego. On the additions side, California added about 2,000 megawatts of solar generation in 2013, and it added more than 3,500 of new gas-fired electrical generation.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Google and SunPower to invest $250 million to help finance residential solar projects

Silicon Valley Business Journal - Apr 23

Google Inc. and SunPower Corp. plan to invest $250 million in a new program that will provide financing to support residential solar lease projects. Google committed $100 million to the project and San Jose-based SunPower put $150 million into it. The companies expect thousands of Americans to finance solar power systems through SunPower, joining the 20,000 already leasing from SunPower. This is Google's 16th renewable energy investment and its third residential rooftop solar investment. Google has invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects, which generate two gigawatts each year — enough to power 500,000 homes.

SunEdison closes on 20-megawatt Adobe Solar PV plant

Solar Thermal Magazine - Apr 21

SunEdison, a leading solar technology manufacturer and provider of solar energy services has interconnected a 20-megawatt solar plant in Kern County, California. The project, known as the Adobe Solar Facility, is owned by Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy and is composed of 80,000 SunEdison Silvantis Solar PV modules. SunEdison was responsible for building the Adobe facility, and will provide asset management and 24/7 monitoring and maintenance services through its Renewable Operations Center. This project marks the fourth time that Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy have partnered with SunEdison since June 2012.

Phoenix Energy signs agreement to build California's first forest biomass gasification plant near Lake Tahoe

Electric Energy Online - Apr 21

Phoenix Energy has signed agreements to build and operate a biomass gasification plant near Lake Tahoe. The 2-megawatt plant will utilize forest biomass from Placer County's fire threat reduction activities to make electricity, heat, and biochar - a solid carbon byproduct that is used as a soil conditioner and filter media. The plant will be the first to use forest-based fuel in California. The Lake Tahoe project is Phoenix Energy's third biomass gasification plant in state and when fully operational it will be the company's largest plant.

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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