Renewable Energy Update - May 2018

Allen Matkins


California breaks solar power, renewable energy output records

PV MAGAZINE - May 1 California blew through a series of peak solar and renewable energy generation records in the last week of April, showing not only the increasing potential of the state to run on renewable energy, but also the work remaining to be done. According to the California Independent System Operator, utility-scale solar generation reached 10,521 megawatts on Thursday April 26, marking the first time it had surpassed 10.5 gigawatts. On Saturday it reached 10,539 megawatts, a new record for the state. California also hit a new record for the instantaneous portion of demand met by renewable energy on Saturday at 73 percent, just 15 minutes before the solar record, with solar and wind alone meeting 64 percent of demand.

California breaks solar power, renewable energy output records


- May 2 Researchers at Stanford University have developed a water-based battery that has the potential to provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy. The manganese-hydrogen battery could fill a missing piece in the nation’s energy puzzle by storing wind and solar energy for when it is needed – in turn, lessening the need to burn carbon-emitting fossil fuels. The prototype battery, reported in the journal Nature Energy, stands just three inches tall and generates a mere 20 milliwatt-hours of electricity, which is on par with the energy levels of LED flashlights that hang on a key ring. Despite the prototype’s diminutive output, the researchers are confident they can scale up the technology to an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge up to 10,000 times – creating a grid-scale battery with a lifespan well in excess of a decade.

CleanCapital acquires over 14.23 MW of U.S. solar projects from Spanish developer X-Elio


- May 3 CleanCapital announced its largest solar acquisition to date from X-Elio, a Spanish developer with U.S. operations based out of Reno, Nevada. The 14.23-megawatt portfolio consisting of solar projects in California and Vermont leverages capital from CleanCapital’s new partnership with CarVal Investors. CleanCapital and CarVal Investors announced a new $250 million equity partnership last month that, including debt financing, enables the acquisition of up to $1 billion of clean energy assets.

Nikola, a Tesla competitor, scores big electric truck order from Anheuser-Busch

LOS ANGELES TIMES - May 3 Anheuser-Busch, which ordered 40 electric semi-trucks from Tesla last December, has upped its bet on a green fleet by placing a substantially larger order with a competitor. The beer company said it plans to buy as many as 800 trucks from Nikola Motor Co. Where Tesla uses batteries in its powertrain technology, Phoenix-based Nikola uses hydrogen fuel cells. In both cases, the vehicles generate no tailpipe pollutants. Tesla and Nikola are vying for share in a market dominated by diesel-fueled trucks. Working with Anheuser-Busch, and using its own capital, Nikola plans to build 28 fueling stations along the beer company's heaviest routes. The stations will be usable by fuel-cell vehicles made by other companies.

California energy regulators delve into threats and opportunities of ‘customer choice’


- May 3 Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) launched an effort to grapple with how the rise of distributed energy resources, third-party energy services business models, and community-choice aggregators were fundamentally altering the state’s energy landscape. Last Thursday, the CPUC’s Policy and Planning Division released a new white paper on this “California Customer Choice Project,” condensing the past year’s findings into a set of history lessons, along with a list of potential pitfalls and a few possible solutions for a state that’s rapidly approaching a turning point on this path. Key ideas include an integrated procurement process for the state, exploring regionalization of energy markets beyond the state’s borders, and defining what happens if a third-party energy provider gets big and then fails.

Nevada solar applications increase after passage of net metering bill


- May 3 The rooftop solar industry is shining once again in Nevada. NV Energy’s most recent annual plan noted a strong increase in applications for its SolarGenerations rooftop solar program following key state policy changes in 2017 that put the market back on track. SolarGenerations applications went from 287 in 2016 to 3,308 in 2017, with most applications coming in the second half of the year, after AB 405 was signed into law. This represents an 11-fold year-over-year increase, and early monthly statistics from 2018 indicate continued growth. Solar advocates and industry leaders say Nevada’s rooftop solar success story shows how quickly a stable policy foundation can deliver economic benefits to the state.

4 Southern California cities gain national ‘gold medal’ awards for clearing the way for rooftop solar


- May 3 Four Southern California cities were given national awards for breaking down barriers to residential and commercial rooftop solar installations by a nonprofit organization affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy. Of the communities recognized in 35 states last Tuesday, 17 cities in California received honors, including four in the Los Angeles area designated as SolSmart Gold Communities: Huntington Beach, Claremont, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica. Cities and counties receiving the top prize are doing the most to bring down permit fees, cut red tape, increase transparency, remove local codes that block solar development, cross-train staff, and allow solar in all zones without special hearings.

Solar panels on farmland stir debate in central Washington


- May 5 After decades of growing alfalfa and other crops, Jeff and Jackie Brunson want to lease part of their farm in Kittitas County, Washington, to a Seattle-based solar-power developer Tuusso Energy. If approved, this would be one of the first solar farms to come on line in Washington. The solar panels would sit on less than a half percent of Kittitas County's 180,000 farm acres. Still, opponents worry that a project here, combined with a rising demand for clean energy such as solar, will swallow up whole swaths of agricultural land that produce the crops and livestock that underpin the county economy. Such concerns prompted county commissioners to reject an earlier solar project proposed for farmland and approve a moratorium on permits for all new ones. Developers asked the state to override the county moratorium, and, on April 17, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council approved an expedited review of the Tuusso project. Council members now have two months to make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has the final say.

Standard Solar completes project at decommissioned California power plant


- May 8 Standard Solar Inc. has completed a solar project in Eureka, in partnership with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District. The 717-kilowatt rooftop solar array, commissioned and financed by Standard Solar, will also be operated and maintained by the company. The district is expected to save $48,500 annually in energy costs. The project, financed through a 25-year power purchase agreement, is installed on an industrial space and decommissioned power plant that has been repurposed.

Gateway to the city of Napa getting solar farm


- Apr 25 Napa State Hospital could be getting a solar farm along the Highway 221 gateway to the city of Napa, though a berm should block hundreds of gleaming panels from the sight of motorists. The earthen berm was built 18 years ago so motorists wouldn’t see a 16-foot security fence that made the hospital look like a prison compound. A state report concludes that this same berm will render the proposed solar farm’s aesthetic impacts “less than significant.” California wants to build the solar farm as part of the state government’s effort to cut down on greenhouse gases. The hundreds of panels covering four acres would generate about one megawatt of electricity. The California Energy Commission said this is enough electricity to meet the instantaneous demands of 750 homes.

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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