Wildfire smoke decreases California solar energy output
KQED – September 11
Thick layers of ash and smoke in California have made it harder for solar panels to absorb sunlight, decreasing their energy output by as much as around 20% over the last few days, according to the California Independent Service Operator, which oversees the state’s electricity supply. Most large-scale solar grids are out in the desert, where smoke isn’t as concentrated, said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. But if that smoke were to gather over those major grid systems, it could reduce solar output even more.
FERC lowers barriers to DERs in wholesale markets
Utility Dive – September 18
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Richard Glick reached a rare agreement on Thursday, passing an order 2-1 that would lower the barriers to distributed energy resources' (DER) participation in wholesale markets. The rule requires grid operators to revise their tariffs to ensure DER aggregations can participate in the markets. It automatically exempts utilities with a load of 4 million MWh or less from the rule, while providing those entities an option to opt-in if desired. Solar, storage and other clean energy interests largely praised the rule. "This rule embraces the trend of increasing use of distributed resources and provides much-needed clarity to grid operators on how to harness the energy and ancillary services they provide," said Katherine Gensler, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association in a statement.
25 stakeholders press California to move ahead with microgrid tariffs
Microgrid Knowledge – September 14
Twenty-five parties this week urged California regulators to finalize microgrid tariffs by January, underscoring the need to incentivize the technology in a state now characterized by wildfires, blackouts, and safety power shutoffs. In a filing submitted by the Microgrid Resources Coalition, the stakeholders asked the public utilities commission to finalize and implement a microgrid tariff for single-customer microgrids by January and develop a tariff for multi-customer microgrids in the first half of 2021.
K-12 schools increasingly turning to solar for savings
Solar Industry Magazine – September 15
Since 2014, K-12 schools have seen a 139% increase in the amount of solar installed, according to a new report from clean energy nonprofit Generation180, in partnership with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Over the last five years, the number of schools with solar increased by 81%, and now 5.3 million students attend a school with solar. The top five states for solar on schools – California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Indiana – helped drive this growth.
Google aims to run on carbon-free energy by 2030
Reuters – September 14
Alphabet Inc.’s Google aims to power its data centers and offices 24-7 using solely carbon-free electricity by 2030, CEO Sundar Pichai told Reuters, building on its previous goal of matching its energy use with 100% renewable energy. Wildfires burning a record area in the western United States this month have increased public awareness of climate change, Pichai said. Wind, solar, and other renewable sources accounted for 61% of Google’s global hourly electricity usage last year. The company’s new goals include bringing 5 gigawatts of renewable energy near some suppliers, funding tree planting beyond its offset needs, and sharing data or forging partnerships with 500 governments around the world to try to cut 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030.
Walmart launches ‘Gigaton PPA’ initiative to bolster its supply chain’s renewables credentials
PV-Tech – September 15
U.S.-based suppliers of Walmart will be able to contract for renewable energy as a cohort under a new initiative launched by the retailer alongside Schneider Electric. Called Gigaton PPA, the program is designed to accelerate green energy adoption by the suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements. The initiative aims to overcome some of the challenges that smaller companies face when trying to access renewable energy, such as a lack of size needed to approach the market individually and insufficient education on the specific mechanics of green energy transactions.
Two East Bay solar projects move forward with approvals
The Mercury News – September 14
Plans to build two large solar farms on agricultural land in Livermore — a proposal some argue would take away protected open space — remain on track to go forward. One project, by Intersect Power of San Francisco, calls for a solar energy and storage plant on about 410 acres, while Livermore Community Solar Farm, proposed by Oakland’s SunWalker Energy, would cover about 81 acres. If approved, the farms are expected to provide enough power for up to 25,000 homes and businesses. On August 10, the Livermore City Council asked the county to delay allowing any large-scale solar projects until it has a solar policy. On Tuesday, a county board of supervisors committee agreed that the county needed a clear policy on large solar projects, but they did not recommend stopping the two projects north of Livermore.
8minute’s 67-MW Lotus Solar Farm now fully operational
Renewable Energy World – September 17
8minute Solar Energy's 67-megawatt Lotus Solar Farm in Madera County is now fully operational. The energy produced will be delivered to Southern California Edison through a 20-year power purchase agreement and will reduce carbon emissions by 48,000 metric tons annually, according to 8minute. The 375-acre project was sited on low-productivity former grazing land and created 300 jobs in Madera County during construction. Allianz Global Investors acquired the project from 8minute in 2019, marking the AllianzGI Infrastructure Equity team’s first U.S. solar project purchase.
Solar energy helps power oil field service provider at local Halliburton facility
The Bakersfield Californian – September 12
A solar array under construction at the local headquarters of oil field services giant Halliburton Co. is the latest sign of conventional and renewable energy coming together in Kern County. Local officials say the 1.6-megawatt photovoltaic installation in Oildale is intended to generate power to support the facility's operations.