The use of renewable energy is surging in California. A new report from Environment California Research shows that there has been a huge jump in the state’s use of solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy in the last decade. The report finds that California ranks first in the nation for growth in solar energy production. Electricity generation from solar power is up more than 2,000%. California has also led the nation in the growth of battery storage capacity since 2010. “Policies like the million solar roofs program accelerated solar energy growth starting in the mid-2000s,” said Environment California’s Elizabeth Nickerson.
The levelized cost of onshore wind generation has declined 2% over the past year to an average of $26/MWh, while the cost of utility-scale solar dropped 9% to an average of $31/MWh, when accounting for government subsidies, according to an annual analysis released last week by Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm. Despite ongoing cost reductions, the rate of decline has slowed for both onshore wind and utility-scale solar, according to Lazard. But price declines for solar, at about 11% a year over the past five years, continue to outpace wind, at about 5% a year over the past five years. Lazard integrated hydrogen in its annual cost analyses for the first time, saying that it recognizes the energy sector’s growing appreciation of the resource’s "potentially disruptive and strategic role in managing the intermittency of renewable power generation.”
Arizona utility regulators last Thursday, in a split vote, approved a plan for utilities to get all of their energy from carbon-free sources like solar and nuclear energy by 2050, bringing the state closer in line to other Western states. The new regulations require electric utilities to get half their power from renewable energy like solar and wind in 2035. Then in 2050, they would need to supply all customer demand for electricity with either renewables, carbon-free nuclear, or energy-efficiency measures such as subsidizing low-watt lightbulbs or attic insulation for customers.
Renewable energy power plants have their place – but not in Gerlach, Nevada, according to certain town residents. Some members of the community of about 100 people are fired up about a proposed geothermal project proposed by Reno-based Ormat Technologies Inc. that would sit less than a mile outside of town. The Gerlach Geothermal Development Project would include two new power plants in the area, each producing 24 megawatts of electricity per hour, and up to 23 geothermal production and injection wells. The plants would be built on both Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and privately-held land. The BLM is still determining if an environmental assessment will be prepared for the project. Public comment on the project is being accepted through Nov. 30.
Skyline Renewables, an Oregon-based renewable-energy developer, is building a 250-megawatt solar project in central west Texas. The Galloway I Solar Project is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. The project was acquired from solar developer 8minute Solar Energy of California. Financing comes from Ardian, a French based private equity investor. The project will be Skyline’s first solar project. The company’s earlier investments have been in wind energy.
The University of California, San Diego has been awarded a $39 million grant to build a testbed to help universities, utilities, and industry leaders gain a better understanding of how to integrate renewable energy resources into the power grid. The grant from the National Science Foundation will study how to integrate distributed energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, smart buildings, and electric vehicle batteries into the power grid. The goal is to make the testbed available to outside research teams and industry by 2025.
On October 28, the Camarillo City Council unanimously approved moving forward with the design of solar microgrids at five city facilities, including City Hall. The microgrid at the Camarillo Public Library will be designed with solar + storage only, while the other four sites will employ a hybrid design of solar+storage+diesel. The systems recommended in the study will keep the sites online during short-duration outages, with diesel generators reserved for use as backup only when needed during extended outages. The microgrids will also reduce the cumulative carbon footprint of the five sites by approximately 88%.