Renewable Energy Update - September 2016 #3

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Solar, wind developers: U.S. desert plan hurts renewable energy

Reuters - Sep 14 On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Interior unveiled the first phase of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, covering 10.8 million acres of federal lands in California managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It designates 388,000 acres of those lands as best for renewable energy development. Applications for projects in those areas will receive a streamlined permitting process and possible financial incentives, the agency said in a press release. The plan, eight years in the making, was designed to streamline development of wind and solar projects on federal and private lands in California while preserving pristine desert habitats. A coalition of five wind and solar energy trade groups said the size of the area set aside for development in the plan falls far short of what California and the U.S. will need to meet carbon reduction goals. Wind and solar developers worry that much of the 388,000 acres set aside for them will not actually make sense for their projects. The areas have not yet been cleared for potential conflicts with military exercises and have yet to be surveyed for impacts to avian species. The government also has imposed new environmental restrictions on those areas that will drive up the cost of development, according to Christopher Mansour, vice president of federal affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Wildfires hit West Coast solar performance with smoke cover

PV-Tech - Sep 12 Summer wildfires across the West Coast have significantly impacted the output of solar PV projects in the region with smoke cover reducing irradiance levels. Project revenues during this peak generation season are also estimated to have been seriously impacted for June to August this year. California was cited as having “particularly severe” fires this year, with more than 180,000 acres covered, with several major fires still ablaze. As the most successful solar state in the U.S., with a fifteen-fold increase in capacity in five years, fires now pose a threat to both safety and profitability for California's solar project owners.

NV Energy strikes solar grandfathering deal with SolarCity and regulatory staff

Utility Dive - Sep 14 NV Energy has filed a proposed agreement with Nevada regulators that would "grandfather" 32,000 residential existing rooftop solar users, giving them access to retail rate net metering that was eliminated by a regulatory decision late last year. The agreement, which needs to be approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, would allow those customers to receive retail rather than wholesale rates for the solar power they sell back to the utility over a period of 20 years. The agreement, hammered out between NV Energy, regulatory staff, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and SolarCity, applies to customers who installed a rooftop solar system or had a valid application pending on or before December 31, 2015.

Community solar offers alternative that utilities like

Bloomberg - Sep 12 If rooftop solar is the clean-energy threat to utilities, then community solar farms are the middle ground traditional power companies can live with. Both produce electricity that utilities are required to buy under state incentive programs. And as the two models become more popular, they’re becoming a growing drag on revenue. The key difference is that community solar developers also invest in local power grids, helping share the cost of upkeep that’s become a significant complaint about the burgeoning rooftop power industry. As the industry seeks new ways to incorporate clean power without too much disruption to incumbent utilities, having their support will be important, and it’s a major topic of panel discussions at the Solar Power International conference that began in Las Vegas Monday. The idea is starting to garner a lot of attention from regulators and executives even though it’s still a tiny slice of the U.S. energy market.

Inside Nest’s 50,000-home virtual power plant for Southern California Edison

Greentech Media - Sep 14 Nest’s smart thermostats are a device for the upscale and energy-aware consumer. But they’re also a resource for grid stability, when there are enough of them out there to make a difference. In Southern California, where the Aliso Canyon emergency is threatening to cause blackouts next summer, Nest believes it can get 50,000 of them together to help keep the lights on. Nest’s new deal with partner Southern California Edison calls for Nest to deliver about 50 megawatts, or 1 kilowatt per home, in reliable load reduction across a stretch of Southern California grid that may run short of power during hot afternoons next summer.

Sunpreme developing new PV cell manufacturing technology

Solar Industry Magazine - Sep 15 Sunnyvale-based Sunpreme has received a $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop what the company calls the next generation of high-performance, low-cost photovoltaic manufacturing technology. Through the SunShot award, Sunpreme says it will develop a new manufacturing toolset and process technology for copper patterning on PV cells by adapting technologies from the ultra-cost-sensitive printed circuit board industry.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions to embark on SoCal storage project

PV Magazine - Sep 14 State utility Southern California Edison (SCE), as part of its Preferred Resources Pilot, has selected Advanced Microgrid Solutions to develop and deliver 40 megawatts of energy storage systems designed to expedite the integration of solar energy on to the Southern California grid. The cleantech firm has announced five power purchase agreements signed with SCE for the deployment of the storage systems, forming part of a 125-megawatt procurement program designed to manage circuit load in one of the most densely populated areas of the state, the Los Angeles Basin.

NextEra yieldco to buy 24% stake in Desert Sunlight solar complex

SeeNews Renewables - Sep 9 NextEra Energy Partners LP, a yieldco, has agreed to buy an indirect 24 percent interest in the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar power complex in California for $218 million and thus expand its portfolio of contracted renewables to about 2,788 megawatts. NextEra Energy Partners will acquire the stake in Desert Sunlight Investment Holdings LLC from its sponsor, NextEra Energy Resources LLC, which currently owns 50 percent of the complex.


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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