Renewable Energy Update -- May 2014

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Another solar record set, renewables power nearly quarter of California

KCET - May 20

Yet another milestone in California's quest to go solar: the state's industrial-sized solar power producers pumped more than 4,500 megawatts into the grid around noon on Monday. According to the California Independent System Operator, the agency that runs the grid serving most of California, utility-scale solar power plants set a new record of 4,566 megawatts of output at 12:03 p.m. on May 19. Monday was a banner day for California renewables in more ways than just setting a heavily qualified solar output record: renewables met almost a quarter of the state's power demand for the day.

Breakthrough in energy storage announced by UC Riverside

KCET - May 19

Supercapacitors are one of those "gee whiz" electrical power storage technologies that offer a huge amount of potential for helping make our energy consumption saner and more sustainable... someday. But a team of researchers from UC Riverside has come up with a novel molecular architecture that they say doubles the power storage capacity of commercially available supercapacitors -- today. Heavier uses such as power supplies for consumer electronics, electric cars, and even to store grid power would require radical improvement in supercapacitor energy density, and UC Riverside engineers say they've taken a potential step in that direction.

Q&A: SunPower CEO Tom Werner, on solar's next big thing

San Jose Mercury News - May 16

San Jose-based SunPower designs and manufactures high-efficiency solar cells and solar panels for residential, commercial, and utility clients. SunPower has several high-profile projects under its belt: its 250-megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch, in San Luis Obispo County, is producing electricity for PG&E and generating enough power for about 100,000 homes. The next big thing for the renewable energy industry is storage, and SunPower is about to add energy storage to its solar offerings, according to a new Q & A with the San Jose Mercury News.

Will California's power supply dry up this summer?

San Jose Mercury News - May 12

California, which consumes more electricity than any other state except Texas, has been hit with a succession of droughts and forest fires. On top of the weather, California's suppliers are still trying to deal with the loss of the San Onofre nuclear plant. The plant's shutdown took 2,250 megawatts of capacity out of the state's power supply. The loss of San Onofre will make the Southern Orange and San Diego areas, which were once powered by the controversial nuclear plant, the "focus of summer grid operations," according to the ISO, as heat waves, unplanned outages, and wildfires could further imperil the power supply.

Obama bid to cut greenhouse gases divides utility, coal industries

Renewable Energy World - May 19

Bracing for greenhouse-gas rules from the Obama administration, two industries are staking out different positions. Coal companies are pledging to sue. Electric utilities are ready to talk. The 15-year phase-in under consideration would be long enough to satisfy most power companies, according to two utility industry representatives. That split may give President Barack Obama a chance to rally support — or at least blunt resistance — to his plan, which is due June 2. Electric companies say they hope to convince Obama’s aides that cuts in carbon emissions already achieved should count toward the goals in his plan, which could call for reductions of as much as 25 percent over 15 years, according to two people familiar with the discussions on the proposal. The rules could achieve steeper cuts at a lower cost if the targets are based on a more holistic view of an electrical system: the generating units, power lines, opportunities for renewable energy, and even reductions in use by customers.

NPD Solarbuzz: rapid growth of U.S. solar PV market threatened by policy changes

Solar Server - May 21

NPD Solarbuzz (Santa Clara, California) predicts that cumulative installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the U.S. will near 20 gigawatts by the end of 2014, representing a 50 percent annual growth rate since 2006. However, the company warns that there are threats to the sector, including efforts to roll back renewable portfolio standard and net metering policies at the state level. The most urgent threat identified is the uncertainty related to the trade investigation of PV products from China and Taiwan.

California emissions rise 1.6 percent

Solar Server - May 19

Strong economic growth, the unexpected closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, and limited hydropower generation caused by drought led to a 1.7 percent increase in total greenhouse emissions in California from 2011 to 2012, according to the most recent greenhouse gas inventory from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The nuclear power plant closure increased reliance on natural gas-generation sources of in-state electricity, according to CARB.

First Solar, India developers oppose dumping findings in court

Bloomberg - May 21

First Solar Inc., one of the largest suppliers of photovoltaic panels to India, challenged in court the findings of a government probe that said U.S. and Asian suppliers dumped products in the local market. The biggest U.S. solar panel maker joined with an Indian trade group for project developers, calling the outcome flawed, at a Delhi High Court hearing yesterday. Their petitions claim that the Ministry of Commerce & Industry in its 1 1/2-year anti-dumping investigation rejected data submitted by overseas competitors of Indian photovoltaic producers. The investigation began in 2012, after domestic makers Indosolar Ltd., Websol Energy System Ltd., and Jupiter Solar Power Ltd. alleged that U.S., Chinese, Malaysian, and Taiwanese solar companies sold products in India below cost, a practice commonly called dumping.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Sunrun raises $150 million to expand rooftop solar

San Francisco Business Times - May 17

Sunrun Inc. raised another $150 million in equity financing to further its solar power technology. The San Francisco-based company didn't name the investors, saying only that "a leading public institutional investor" led the round with a $100 million investment. Sunrun arranges financing for home rooftop solar systems, to cover owners' upfront costs, and then provides maintenance services. Launched in 2007, the company has raised more than $300 million in equity capital to date.

EDF Renewable sells half of California solar plant to TIAA-CREF

Bloomberg - May 19

The renewable energy unit of Electricite de France SA agreed to sell a 50 percent stake in a California solar farm to TIAA-CREF. EDF Renewable Energy will retain half and continue to maintain the 143-megawatt Catalina solar project in the Mojave Desert, the San Diego-based unit said today in a statement. Terms of the sale weren’t disclosed. Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is buying electricity from the solar farm under a 25-year agreement. The plant powers about 35,000 homes.

Stanford says ‘no’ to investing in coal

Clean Technica - May 16

Stanford University recently announced that it will no longer directly invest in publicly traded companies that mine for coal for energy generation. There are about 100 such companies, and Stanford will no longer invest any of its $18.7 billion endowment in any of them. The university will also divest any funds currently invested in these companies.



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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