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Texas likely to add 10 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in the next two years

Solar Energy News - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 08:01

Texas, already the U.S. state with the most wind energy capacity, is catching up to California in utility-scale solar capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Detailed State Data, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. California currently has the most installed utility-scale solar capacity of any state.

According to survey reports on EIA’s Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, Texas will add 10 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity by the end of 2022, compared with 3.2 GW in California. One-third of the utility-scale solar capacity planned to come online in the United States in the next two years (30 GW) will be in Texas.

The installation of 2.5 GW of solar capacity in 2020 marked the beginning of the solar boom in Texas. EIA expects the state to add another 4.6 GW of solar capacity in 2021 and 5.4 GW in 2022, which will bring total installed solar capacity in Texas to 14.9 GW.

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that is available to project developers is driving some of the anticipated solar growth. Utility-scale solar projects that start construction in 2021 or 2022 are eligible for a 26% tax credit. The tax credit drops to 22% for projects that start in 2023 and to 10% for projects that start in 2024 or later.

Other factors driving solar investment in Texas include lower solar technology costs and plentiful sunlight, particularly in West Texas’s Permian Basin, where about 30% of the state’s planned solar capacity will be built. In addition, because solar generation is greatest in the middle of the day, when wind generation is typically lower, available transmission lines that already handle the large amount of wind power in the state have helped set the path for record-breaking planned solar capacity additions, said EIA.

Despite recent solar capacity growth in Texas, utility-scale solar only made up 4% of the state’s generating capacity in 2020 and 2% of in-state electricity generation. In comparison, natural gas made up 53% of Texas’s capacity in 2020 and 52% of in-state generation; wind made up 23% of capacity and 20% of in-state generation.

Although wind capacity in Texas has grown rapidly in recent years, solar is expected to make up the largest share of the state’s capacity additions between 2020 and 2022. Almost half of the additions during this time period will be solar, surpassing wind (35%) and natural gas (13%) additions.

Principal EIA contributor to this news report: Suparna Ray

Categories: Solar Energy

CPV says it has developed 400+ MW of renewable capacity on former coal mines

Solar Energy News - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 07:32

In honor of Earth Day, Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) announced that through the contributions of its employees, partners and shareholders, it has repurposed brownfield sites, including former coal mines, for utility-scale renewable development. As of April 2021, the company has more than 400 MWs of renewable energy projects in advanced development within the PJM region on former coal mine sites.

The renewable projects, spread out across Pennsylvania and Maryland, will put these sites that have limited use to good work by creating renewable energy while providing economic growth for host communities. 

“By repurposing the sites of former coal mines, we can take land with limited ability to use and put it to work helping generate renewable energy critical to decarbonizing the electric sector by 2035,” said CPV CEO Gary Lambert. “In doing so, we can both reduce the need to disturb greenfield sites and help revitalize areas that have been impacted by the transition to cleaner energy sources.”

CPV is developing, building and operating an energy grid that is both reliable and environmentally responsible. By replacing the “old” with new flexible and highly efficient load following resources and renewable power generation facilities, the company is nearing the milestone to have helped the U.S. avoid an estimated 21 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The company has also helped avoid more than 31,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 27,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions to date, it said.

CPV has set ambitious sustainability goals for 2021. These include avoiding 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, recycling 2 billion gallons of grey water and generating at least 500,000 MWh of carbon-free electricity. 

“Earth Day is not about just talk, it’s about action,” said CPV Senior Vice President Tom Rumsey. “At CPV we’re proud to have a strong track record of displacing older, higher emitting power generation with some of the most efficient natural gas and renewable facilities in the country. We deliver meaningful environmental improvements while enhancing grid reliability and reducing energy costs for consumers.”

Categories: Solar Energy

A decidedly impartial review of Mark Jacobson’s 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything

Solar Energy News - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 06:51

Happy Earth Day 2021!

When you’ve followed the evolving research of a leading clean energy expert and become a supporter of his vision for a global clean energy transition, it should come as no surprise that I was eager to crack open Mark Jacobson’s 2021 book release, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything.

I’ve known Mark for over ten years, even before I learned of his audacious roadmap for powering New York state with 100% renewable energy. Little did I know then that my home state would be the first of 50 U.S. states to be mapped for renewable energy by Mark and his team of students at Stanford University (see Mark’s abbreviated bio, below).

50 states led to 143 countries—all in the course of a decade. The plans, available at The Solutions Project’s “Clean Energy” link, reveal the unique mix of wind, water and sun technologies capable of powering states, countries and even select U.S. cities. Wind, Water and Sun (aka WWS) include wind power; waterpower from tides, rivers, and subsurface water (geothermal water); and solar power.

So just how did Jacobson, an athletic, brainy competitive tennis player growing up in 1970s California decide to change the way that energy is made and distributed worldwide?

To get to the heart of his story, I did what I always do—I read the last chapter of his book first. And Chapter 9 is the focus of this review, as it lays out not only the compelling technological and economic arguments for a 100% renewable energy transformation, but also the life story that makes this scientist such an appealing public figure.

Jacobson’s Early Story

I’ve long viewed Jacobson’s life — and his collaboration with researchers, cultural icons, business leaders and political leaders — as a well-written movie script. In just ten years, Jacobson has harnessed passion, determination and science to re-frame the way renewable energy is seen and, ultimately, accepted as a viable solution to climate change and air pollution.

Chapter 9 of Jacobson’s latest book reveals the story that I already partially knew, but in the kind of detail that renders me even more in awe of his achievements. It tells the story of Jacobson’s lifelong desire to tackle large-scale air pollution challenges and mitigate climate change through a special kind of persuasion: science & economic-based solutions.

Imagine a young, friendly, unassuming teenager traveling to San Diego from northern California to compete in statewide tennis tournaments. In the late 1970s, this was Mark Jacobson, and he remembers how the poor air quality there overwhelmed him and his fellow competitors.

“During play, my throat and lungs became irritated, and my eyes became scratchy. Taking deep breaths while lunging for tennis balls was a chore. If this soup of pollution was hurting me after only a few minutes, I imagined the damage it caused people who lived in it.”

It was during these trips that Jacobson chartered his career path. Arriving at Stanford University in the fall of 1983, where he would compete on the University’s tennis team, there was no air pollution major. There was, however, a Civil Engineering major that included classes taught by the great Professor Gil Masters. One was environmental science and technology, and another was an energy systems class that focused on wind and solar power.

Jacobson competes on the Stanford University Tennis Team, which wins the men’s NCAA team championship in Athens, GA in May, 1986. Back: Dan Goldie, Mark Jacobson, Jim Grabb, Eric Rosenfeld Front: Geordie McKee, Patrick McEnroe (brother of John McEnroe), Coach Dick Gould, Scott Moody, John Letts. (Photo Courtesy Mark Jacobson)

Understanding early on that he would have to apply his scientific knowledge to real-world scenarios, Jacobson added an economics major to his academic pursuits. Then, in 1989, he attended UCLA and added a M.S. and PhD in Atmospheric Science. It was at UCLA that he began modeling air pollution, which he succinctly describes as, “a mathematical representation of atmospheric processes.” Based on his work there, he created the world’s first global air quality model in which air pollution affected the weather and the weather affected air pollution, thus forging his hybrid science career.

In 2000, he began using models to unlock renewable energy solutions. Reuniting with Professor Masters, the two friends used an equation Masters had shared with students at Stanford to calculate the number of wind turbines that would be required to offset the volume of coal production that the United States would need to eliminate to satisfy the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 1997. I was fortunate to interview Jacobson for an Energy Boom story in 2010 about the real cost comparison between coal and wind power. This was the first time we “met,” albeit via a cross-country phone call.

Photo of Mark Jacobson (right) with Professor Gil Masters (center) and Peter Ramsey, who works in building energy and teaches at Stanford University. (Photo Courtesy Mark Jacobson)

Collaboration with Students

In 2005, Jacobson worked with Stanford students to begin mapping regions of the U.S. for wind power production. In 2008, Jacobson teamed up with student, Graeme Hoste, to assess whether California’s hourly demand for electricity could be satisfied with a combination of renewable power sources. Their report revealed that by combining wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower sources, California could, theoretically, meet 100% of its electricity demand with WWS. Geothermal would provide constant power, with wind and solar contributing intermittent power. Hydropower electricity produced in the Pacific Northwest would be imported to fill in the gaps. This was a remarkable milestone as it set in place the idea for mapping states for renewable energy production.

Scientific American magazine took notice of his work and approached Jacobson about writing a paper on the feasibility of powering the world with renewable energy. He agreed and recruited research scientist Mark Delucchi of UC Davis to help (Delucchi has been a regular co-author of many of Jacobson’s studies). Their 2009 report concluded that but for the social and political impediments, the economic and technological wheels were in place to transition the world’s all-purpose energy demand to 100% WWS. Like Darwin’s early journals documenting his groundbreaking evolutionary observations, the 2009 report was attacked as a folly by entrenched businesses leaders and scientists-for-hire. Nevertheless, the article led to a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) debate where Jacobson convincingly championed the report’s findings. It also led to another milestone: the creation of The Solutions Project. This is where Jacobson’s story takes on a cinematic glow, which I wrote about for HuffPost in 2011.

The Solutions Project

On the evening of July 10, 2011, Jacobson attended a swanky event in San Francisco. The host, Marco Krapels, a clean energy investor, introduced him to Mark Ruffalo and Josh Fox, whose 2010 documentary film, GASLAND, exposed the dire human health and environmental risks for communities living on the frontlines of America’s fracking boom. Ruffalo expressed interest in learning how Jacobson’s WWS models could be applied to New York state, which was debating whether or not to ban hydrofracking. When Jacobson addressed the mingling crowd, everyone stopped to listen. A scientist, a banker, an actor and a filmmaker then huddled to discuss next steps.

The Solutions Project meets to discuss next steps. Left to right: Marco Krapels, Jodie Van Horn, Jon Wank, Mark Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Fox (© Jon Wank)

Ultimately, the request was made that Jacobson create a detailed WWS renewable energy map for New York State. It would be the first clean energy roadmap that Jacobson would draft, and he did it on the evening of September 13, 2011. Motivated by New York Governor Cuomo’s willingness to consider banning hydrofracking, Jacobson worked through the night to layer New York’s pollution, human health, morbidity and global warming data into a cohesive model. He then added in the energy outputs from New York’s existing and potential WWS supplies. Three months later, Jacobson, Krapels, Ruffalo and Fox formalized their mission by creating The Solutions Project and pooled their respective influence to build a national clean energy movement over the following decade.

Though Jacobson’s 14-page draft went through 40 collaborative revisions with colleagues, including Cornell Professors Robert Howarth and Tony Inngraffea, over 18 months before being published in the Journal of Energy Policy, Jacobson had that night created the first science-based framework for transforming the way energy could be produced in the Empire State. This would become the first detailed WWS clean energy roadmap of 50 he ultimately developed for the U.S.

Meeting of The Solutions Project and Sierra Club at Cornell University on April 20, 2013. From left to right: Marco Krapels, Jodie Van Horn (Sierra Club), Jon Wank, Mark Z. Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Fox. © Jon Wank

Roadshows

Along the way, The Solutions Project gave talks to a packed house at Google’s Mountain View offices; guests of the influential Nantucket Project’s annual conference; members of the U.S. Congress; and policy pros serving President Obama. 

Jacobson didn’t stop there. He created a WWS roadmap for California, Washington state and 53 targeted cities and towns. Media awareness of the maps steadily grew, and Jacobson gained further attention for his appearance in Fox’s GASLAND PART ll documentary, where he underscored the necessity of transitioning America’s energy production to WWS.

Jacobson took his vision to the LATE SHOW with David Letterman. Though Jacobson prepped behind stage with Ruffalo, he momentarily froze as he emerged in front of the bright lights and cameras. He focused on his training as an athlete to center himself and instinctively opened with, “So Dave, we’re developing science-based plans to eliminate global warming and air pollution, including the 2.5 to 4 million deaths that occur worldwide, each year.” Letterman was stunned, saying, “Due to air pollution? That many people are dying from air pollution?” Jacobson comfortably settled into the 11-minute exchange and elevated the mission of The Solutions Project to a live national audience. Jacobson had perhaps played his most important match that night and won.

Mark Jacobson appears on The Late Show with David Letterman on September 23, 2013 © Mark Jacobson

WWS Roadmaps for 50 States

By February 2014, Jacobson, with the help of students and colleagues, finished a draft of the roadmaps for all 50 U.S. states, complete with the colorful, interactive graphics that make unlocking the data fun and easy.

In 2015, Jacobson began work on WWS maps for individual countries, with Ukraine being the first. Today, there are 100% WWS roadmaps for 143 countries. In December, Jacobson attended the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris. One of his presentations was slotted between talks by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In honor of the new movement that manifested itself at the conference, the Eiffel Tower was lit up with the words, “100% Renewable.” Jacobson experienced a bit of euphoria over the fact that what began as a team of four was now supported by millions of people. Jacobson, Krapels, Ruffalo and Fox had managed to change the perspective of people around the globe. Their success was a heroic feat of idealism, pragmatism, science and phenomenal storytelling, which, when combined, resulted in an uplifting, coherent and persuasive message that the world was poised to hear.

Companion Report

Along with the publication of the 50-state plans in 2015 was an additional paper that documented how the 100% WWS model could be applied to keep the electric grid stable when all energy needs (not just electricity generation), including transportation, heating and cooling, manufacturing and power storage, were powered by WWS. The report received the prestigious Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The dual papers now made it easier for policy makers to push the 100% WWS model forward. Over eight bills focusing on the expansion of clean energy, including the Green New Deal, were introduced in the U.S. Congress between 2015 and 2019. Though none of the bills have been voted on, President Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill is gaining support and popularity. It includes rebuilding the nation’s electricity grid, adding 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, investing billions of dollars in WWS expansion, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, and the requirement that 40% of the new clean energy economy jobs be directed to people living in disadvantaged communities.

Photo of Mark Jacobson and Stacy Clark, August 1, 2018. Jacobson’s Greenhouse-Gas-Free (GHGFREE) Teslas run on solar power, as does his home, built by BoneStructure. The Tesla Powerwall packs on the wall store excess electricity generated by the sun.

Momentum for a clean energy transition is growing. The fossil fuel divestment movement led by Bill McKibben’s 350.org campaign and the recent commitment of international businesses to lower their carbon footprint and procure more of their energy from renewable sources are also helping to push the WWS movement forward.

Jacobson’s Detailed Analysis

The end of Chapter 9 looks at the scenarios available for speeding the transition to renewables, including the retiring of fossil fuel plants. Jacob justification is a cost benefit analysis whereby the external costs of coal, natural gas and oil far exceed the investment costs for WWS. External costs include everything from pre-mature deaths due to air pollution to the sky-rocketing insurance costs for properties vulnerable to sea level rise.

His closing pages include a detailed glossary of acronyms, an Appendix of unit conversions and constraints, myriad references and a detailed index that underscores Jacobson’s expertise.

Collectively, Jacobson has, with this book, empowered public servants, citizens and businesses to envision a different future—one that he believes can arrive sooner than expected. Chapters 1-8 overflow with information that these same constituencies need to campaign for change. From the science of global warming; the basics of electricity generation and the applications of renewable power to the land space required and the policies needed to make the transition, Jacobson’s book is recommended reading for local, state and federal lawmakers, college and university professors and clean energy enthusiasts everywhere.

Personal note: I was fortunate to meet Jacobson on a number of occasions over the last seven years. I first visited Jacobson at Stanford University in 2012, when my college-touring son sat in on his popular Atmospheric Science class. I later met him at a Vote Solar fundraiser in San Francisco. My most memorable visit was a 2018 tour of Jacobson’s fully renewable, emissions free home, where his electric cars are also powered by the sun. There, Jacobson explained the solar system he designed and why his house makes more electricity than it requires. Thanks to California’s generous net-metering standards, Jacobson is paid by the local utility for the surplus electricity his home generates. To read more about Jacobson’s home, check out these articles in Dwell, InHabitat and BoneStructure.

Note that this review will be followed by a “Meet the Heroes” Zoom interview with Jacobson. Our conversation will be viewable on StacyClarkBooks.com and RenewableEnergyWorld.com.

Clean energy writer, Stacy Clark, displays Mark Jacobson latest book, which she reviews for this article on Earth Day, 2021 (© Stacy Clark)

Mark Z. Jacobson – Abbreviated Bio: Mark is the Director of the Atmospheric / Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an A.B. in Economics and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 1988. He received a M.S. and PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and 1994, respectively, from UCLA and joined the faculty at Stanford in 1994. He has published three textbooks and over 170 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has received numerous awards, including the 2013 Global Green Policy Design Award for developing the state and country energy plans discussed herein. He has served on an advisory committee to the U.S. Energy Secretary and appeared on The Late Show with David letterman to discuss converting the world to clean, renewable energy, and co-founded The Solutions Project. For more about Mark and his life’s work, you can purchase 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything.

Categories: Solar Energy

State and federal initiatives increasingly promote energy equity

Solar Energy News - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 06:35

By Georgena Terry, Clean Energy States Alliance

For clean energy to succeed on a broad scale, it must benefit all communities, not just affluent ones. Recognition of the environmental justice and equity components of clean energy is essential for the successful adoption of clean energy technologies in under-resourced communities.

This was acknowledged at the federal level as long ago as 1994, when President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12898 directed each Federal agency to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.” The Order created a Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to develop a strategy to address and rectify disproportionately high adverse effects of agency activities on minority and low-income populations.

More recently, environmental justice was prominent in President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14008 which called for an “equitable, clean-energy future” which “delivers environmental justice.” Recognizing that under-resourced communities have suffered disproportionate harm from fossil fuel pollution, the Order underscores the need for Federal actions to revitalize these communities through the opportunities which accrue from the development of a clean energy economy. These opportunities include job creation through workforce development and the mitigation of adverse health impacts. The Order also directs agencies to examine ways to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of clean energy investment go to disadvantaged communities.

Not only has the federal government acknowledged the necessity for environmental justice and energy equity but many states have as well. As clean energy initiatives have evolved and matured, states have developed a wide range of creative pathways enabling low- and moderate-income (LMI) households to participate in the clean energy economy through solar PV, heat pumps, battery storage, energy efficiency, and other technologies.

For example, the Connecticut Green Bank has addressed energy efficiency and PV through its Low-Income Multifamily Energy program for LMI multifamily properties. Multifamily housing was also addressed in Washington State’s Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard which defines criteria for energy efficiency and environmental preservation. It applies to LMI housing which receives capital funding from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund. Colorado offers a Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) which helps low-income residents not only weatherize their homes, but also install rooftop PV. Colorado was the first state approved by the US Department of Energy to include rooftop PV in its WAP. Minnesota’s Department of Commerce is currently in the process of undertaking a pilot program with the goal of adding solar to its WAP.

Several states have promoted thermal technologies to LMI communities. Vermont has been active in this area. Efficiency Vermont, an organization created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Utility Commission, offers rebates on heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and wood/pellet stoves. The organization is funded through an energy efficiency charge on customer electric bills. LMI Vermonters may qualify for Efficiency Vermont rebates ranging from $200 to $500 as well as rebates or bill credits from utilities partnering with Efficiency Vermont. In addition, zero-interest financing is available for LMI residents.

Efficiency Maine offers elevated rebate levels for LMI customers who purchase and install a high-efficiency ductless heat pump. Customers must also be participants in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program. In Massachusetts, some customers are eligible to participate in a whole-home air-source heat pump pilot program through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. It offers incentives for new construction or gut renovation homes which install heat pumps, with residents meeting certain income requirements receiving additional incentives.

Related Reading: Transforming utility customer service: Residential heat pumps can help decarbonization efforts

Programs developed to bring solar energy benefits to LMI households and communities are among the most numerous of the clean energy environmental justice and equity initiatives. Not only have states stepped in to make clean energy more affordable, but they have also implemented consumer protection measures for LMI communities. This is particularly important to avoid the risk that those consumers could fall prey to predatory practices. LMI communities and residents may have become distrustful of players in the energy market whose past engagement with the community has vacillated. Provoked by these bad experiences, consumers may be soured on adopting solar or other clean energy products. The Illinois Power Agency has recognized this problem in its rigorous consumer protection guidelines for low-income subscribers participating in community solar projects funded by the Illinois Solar for All program.

California has addressed energy storage technology through its Self-Generation Incentive Program, which offers elevated rebates for energy storage projects for low-income customers. Funding for the program comes from ratepayer collections.

These and other states’ clean energy programs for LMI residents are featured on the CESA website in a Directory of State Low- and Moderate-Income Clean Energy Programs. Programs are categorized by their technologies, eligible recipients, financial incentives, whether or not the program involves “community solar,” and whether or not the program has a workforce development component. Informed by this directory, other states can learn about and contemplate similar strategies which may benefit their own under-resourced communities through equitable and environmentally just clean energy initiatives.

Categories: Solar Energy

Amazon buying output of 375-MW Birch solar project in Ohio

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 23:29

Lightsource bp said on Tuesday that it has executed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Amazon for a new 375-MWdc solar project under development in Ohio. Once complete, the solar facility is expected to deliver nearly 600,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually of additional renewable energy for Amazon operations locally. 

The project will be in Auglaize and Allen Counties.

Stephanie Kromer, Director of Energy & Environmental Policy at Ohio Chamber of Commerce recognized Amazon’s commitment to renewables in a statement. “In just three years, the combined direct, indirect and induced effects of Amazon’s investment in our state could create thousands of new jobs for Ohioans and hundreds of millions of dollars in new regional income and GDP in Ohio,” she said.

Additional economic investment and local benefits of this project will include:

  • Approximately $94 million in additional revenue for the local communities through a PILOT program over the life of the project, with $1.5 million to local school districts each year, for 35 years.
  • 400 or more jobs during the 18-month construction of the facility, with 80% or more local Ohio labor.
  • A $4.6 million annual operations budget, to be primarily spent in region.
  • An estimated $314-364 million of private investment by Lightsource bp and project investors into energy infrastructure for the state, helping diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio and strengthening energy security with local electricity generation.

Generation from the solar project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 423,700 metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to removing 91,515 fuel burning cars off the road, according to Lightsource bp.

Categories: Solar Energy

Southern Power acquiring 118-MW Oklahoma wind project developed by Vestas’ NA unit

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 23:10

The wholesale energy wing of Southern Co. has amped up its utility-scale wind project holdings again.

Southern Power acquired its 15th wind power project. The 118-MW Glass Sands facility is located in Murray County, Oklahoma, and was developed by Steelhead Americas, the North American development arm of Vestas.

“We are proud to announce this new addition to our generation portfolio,” said Southern Power President Bill Grantham. “Glass Sands is a great project for Southern Power as we continue to provide clean renewable energy resources to meet the needs of our customers.”

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Atlanta-based Southern now owns five wind farms in Oklahoma. Glass Sands is expected to utilize 28 wind turbines manufactured by Vestas and achieve commercial operation by the fourth quarter.

Once operational, the electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the facility will be sold under a power purchase agreement with Amazon.

With the addition of Glass Sands, Southern Power’s wind portfolio consists of more than 2,533 MW of wind generation. Southern Power’s wind facilities are a part of the company’s 4,928-MW renewable fleet, which consists of 43 solar and wind facilities operating or under construction.

Earlier this year, Southern Power acquired its 14th wind project—the 300-MW Deuel Harvest Farm in South Dakota. Invenergy is developed that site which achieved commercial operations in February.

Oklahoma is that nation’s second leading wind energy producer with more than 3,000 MW installed. AEP-owned utilities Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and SWEPCO are also acquiring major projects coming online this year and next.

— — — — —

POWERGEN International, which is happening Jan. 26-28 in Dallas, is seeking content focused on utility-scale wind projects now and in the future. The POWERGEN Call for Speakers is now open for submitting session ideas.

Categories: Solar Energy

The US electric power sector is halfway to zero carbon emissions

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 09:22

By Bentham Paulos, Dev Millstein, Joseph Rand, and Ryan Wiser, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Renewable energy’s rapid growth is accelerating a national shift to a carbon-free electric power system.

So far 17 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have adopted laws or executive orders setting goals for reaching 100% clean electricity by 2050 or sooner. And 46 U.S. utilities have pledged to go carbon-free. Now the Biden administration and some members of Congress are proposing to decarbonize the power sector by 2035.

While this much change in 15 years seems ambitious, our new report, “Halfway to Zero,” looks back at the past 15 and finds that power sector emissions are half of what they were projected to be.

We analyzed the “business as usual” projection in the 2005 Annual Energy Outlook published by the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. government’s official agency for data collection and analysis. It projected that annual carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector would rise from 2,400 million to 3,000 million metric tons from 2005 to 2020.

Instead, they fell to 1,450 million metric tons – 52% below projected levels. In short, the U.S. electricity sector has managed to march halfway to zero in just 15 years.

The U.S. is using much more low-carbon and carbon-free electricity today than projected in 2005. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, CC BY-ND Cleaner fuels and more efficient devices

This drop happened thanks to policy, market and technology drivers.

Overall demand for electricity in 2020 was almost exactly the same as in 2005, and 24% lower than projected by federal energy forecasters. This was due partly to economic changes, such as lower economic growth from two recessions and slightly lower population growth.

The U.S. has also become more energy efficient since 2005, thanks to policies and technology improvements. Many devices that power our lives, such as LED lights, get more performance from a kilowatt-hour of electricity now than they did 15 years ago.

Wind and solar power dramatically outperformed expectations, delivering 13 times more generation in 2020 than projected. Emission-free nuclear generation largely held steady.

Finally, natural gas generation grew rapidly, driven by the shale gas revolution and low fuel prices. This pushed much of the generation of coal – the most carbon-intensive electricity source – out of the market.

These shifts have delivered many benefits. Total electric bills for consumers were 18% lower in 2020 than the Energy Information Administration had previously projected, saving households US$86 billion per year.

Reduced sulfur and nitrogen emissions, especially from less coal generation, led to a steep drop in such health impacts as respiratory disease. Premature deaths due to power-sector air pollution fell from 38,000 to 3,100 per year. And declining employment in the coal industry was more than offset by job growth in other areas, notably solar power.

The other 50%

Many assessments of energy transitions assert that it takes decades for societies to shift fully from one energy source to another. But our study shows that dramatic changes in emissions can happen much more quickly.

This doesn’t guarantee that getting to zero will be easy, though.

Wind, solar and battery technologies will be central to further decarbonization. Accelerating their deployment will require a laser focus on maintaining reliability, with new transmission lines and changes to power-system planning and operations. It will also call for careful attention to ecological impacts and heightened sensitivity to effects on workers and communities.

Fortunately, much of the generation and storage needed to hit a zero-carbon target is already in development. Developers have requested access to the transmission grid for 660 gigawatts of new wind and solar generating capacity and 200 gigawatts of storage. That represents more than half of what could be required. Not all proposed projects will be built, but the scale indicates tremendous commercial interest.

Using this much wind and solar raises the question of how to meet the last portion of demand on cloudy or windless days. Many technologies could fill this gap, such as longer-duration storage, hydrogen or synthetic fuels, fossil or biomass generation with carbon capture, advanced nuclear power, and geothermal energy. All require more research.

Our study offers two central lessons as the nation moves forward. First, policy and technology are both key to cutting emissions. Second, our ability to predict the future is limited. It will be crucial to adapt as government agencies and power companies gain policy experience, and technologies advance in unexpected ways.

About the Authors

Bentham Paulos, Affiliate, Electricity Markets & Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Dev Millstein, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Joseph Rand, Senior Scientific Engineering Associate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Ryan Wiser, Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Categories: Solar Energy

Chocolate maker, home improvement company show their love for solar energy

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 07:54

In celebration of Earth Week, solar developer National Grid Renewables said that NRG, Home Depot and Hershey have each taken a stake in the 275-MW Noble solar + storage project currently under construction in Texas. The solar project includes 125 MWh of energy storage.

Home Depot and NRG have each executed individual 100-MW solar PPAs, and The Hershey Company has contracted for a 50-MW solar PPA. 

Noble is expected to start operating in the first half of 2022. During construction, Noble is anticipated to employ approximately 250 workers who will install hundreds of thousands of First Solar Series 6 modules which will generate energy. Throughout the first 20 years of operation, Noble is projected to benefit the community through the creation of approximately $26 million in new tax revenue, 3-5 on-site operations and maintenance jobs, and over $1 million in donations funded by Noble through a local charitable initiative. 

“The call to decarbonize our economy continues to grow,” said Robert Gaudette, Senior Vice President of NRG Energy, Inc. “We look forward to taking another step toward a more sustainable energy future. Through renewable energy and the support of local communities, we are able to provide our customers with more energy solutions.” 

“With this project, National Grid Renewables demonstrates how lower carbon, responsible solar electricity produced with American solar technology can competitively and reliably power iconic US businesses,” said Georges Antoun, Chief Commercial Officer, First Solar.

Solar in North Carolina, Too

In related news, Hershey also said it signed a 15-year PPA with BayWa r.e. for the output of a 20-MW solar project in Camden, North Carolina.

Construction of the new solar farm is expected to be completed in late July. 

“As we continue on our path towards an increased reliance on clean and renewable energy, we’re excited to partner with BayWa r.e. and National Grid Renewables to develop these solar projects in North Carolina and Texas,” said Jeff King, Senior Director of Global Sustainability and Social Impact. “Not only will these solar projects help Hershey to reduce its impact on the environment, they will also create jobs and help contribute to the growth of local economies and our commitment to reduce our GHG footprint.” 

Categories: Solar Energy

National Grid Partners has fresh influx of cash to invest in energy technology startups

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 06:57

With a track record of investments in innovative companies like AIDash, LineVision, Carbon Lighthouse, and many others, National Grid Partners (NGP) said this week that it received a new investment allocation of $150 million.

Since its launch less than three years ago, NGP has put $227 million to work in dozens of startups at the intersection of energy and information technology, it said in a press release.

“Earth Week is a perfect time to announce this vote of confidence from our senior leadership,” said Lisa Lambert, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of National Grid and the Founder and President of National Grid Partners.

Two More Start-ups Added to Portfolio

Lambert also announced today that NGP has invested $7.5M in two Silicon Valley companies that help enterprise customers protect physical and cyber infrastructure. The first is Pathr, based in Mountain View, Calif. The company employs spatial intelligence coupled with existing hardware infrastructure to generate anonymous location data in real time. Better understanding of movement patterns can help Pathr customers increase revenue, optimize operations, improve energy efficiency, and strengthen physical security at their facilities.

AccuKnox, a Cloud Security innovator headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif is the second startup to receive funding from NGP. Formed in partnership with Stanford Research Institute, AccuKnox provides a Zero-Trust run-time Kubernetes platform for security, compliance and governance in public and private clouds.

“We’re backing companies that can help National Grid serve its customers more safely and securely, so adding Pathr and AccuKnox to our portfolio is a significant step toward fulfilling that objective,” said Lambert.

DISTRIBUTECH International and POWERGEN International showcase energy startups each year through Initiate!, the Clarion Energy start-up challenge.

While more than 70 percent of NGP’s portfolio companies have strategic engagements with National Grid – such as LineVision, which also joined the portfolio this month – seed-stage startups like AccuKnox and Pathr reflect NGP’s commitment to invest in every stage of the innovation ecosystem, according to NGP. That stage-agnostic approach also includes NGP’s Incubation office in San Francisco, and an Innovation team who turns ideas into prototypes that can be deployed in National Grid’s business units or spun out as stand-alone companies.

NGP has led more than 60 percent of its startup investment rounds, with two M&A exits.

“We are investing in and deploying technologies across National Grid’s networks to enhance resilience and reliability, while more easily integrating renewable energy,” said Lambert. “Our company’s ambition is to become the most intelligent, cleanest transmission and distribution network in the world.”

Lambert also noted that National Grid this week kicks off its sponsorship of the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference.

As part of its COP26 activities in the United Kingdom this fall, NGP plans to hold its first annual summit of the Next Grid Alliance. This consortium of more than 60 worldwide utility companies provides senior level executives a platform to share industry best practices and to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector.

Categories: Solar Energy

OPG announces 20-year, $2.5 billion overhaul of hydropower generating units

Solar Energy News - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 06:30

Hydroelectricity has powered the lives of Ontarians for a century, and Ontario Power Generation is planning an extensive 20-year overhaul of its hydropower generating units to ensure clean, reliable hydropower continues to support the province’s wellbeing.

The estimated $2.5 billion turbine/generator overhaul program aims to repair or replace key components in the generating units. This refurbishment takes place every 25 to 50 years across operations in the company’s Renewable Generation division. Numerous stations are reaching the critical age for major refurbishment, OPG said.

The overhaul program will ensure generating units can continue to operate efficiently and reliably while supporting OPG’s net-zero carbon goals outlined in its recent Climate Change Plan. The program will also create new jobs and numerous economic benefits for local and Indigenous communities in the way of partnerships, apprenticeships and other work opportunities.

“As a company, we have made a commitment to reach a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040, and investing into our hydro assets is key to reaching our climate change goals,” said Alison Bradley, director of asset and project management at OPG.

Bradley anticipates an average of eight hydro unit overhauls taking place each year over the next two decades, for a total of about 176 units. That’s 74% of all units within OPG’s Ontario hydro fleet, representing 6,550 MW of generating capacity. Some of these overhauls have already started in certain regions.

An overhaul of a hydroelectric generator can include the repair or replacement of parts like the stator, rotor, shaft, wicket gate, turbine, bearings and other major components. The work can take six months to a year depending on the scope, as well as the age and condition of the unit.

“We know this is going to be a very competitive market in the next few years,” Bradley said. “Beyond OPG, other utilities like Hydro-Quebec and BC Hydro all have assets in a very similar age range, and everyone will be going through a big overhaul or replacement program.”

To support this major capital project, OPG will be looking to expand its list of specialized engineering and manufacturing vendor partners, who will help design and replace the turbines and generator parts.

Through its partners and direct hiring, OPG also anticipates more skilled workers will be needed to support these refurbishments. In particular, there will be an increased need for jobs in engineering, project management, manufacturing, machining, construction trades and quality control.

This article was originally published on Hydro Review and is reprinted with permission.

Categories: Solar Energy

Iberdrola, Danone sign PPA for what will be ‘Europe’s largest’ solar project

PV-TECH - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 04:35
Iberdrola signs power purchase agreement with Danone for 590MW Francisco Pizarro project in Spain
Categories: Solar Energy

Global developers flock to ‘enormous potential’ of proposed green hydrogen hub in Western Australia

PV-TECH - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 02:30
Western Australian government receives 65 expressions of interest to produce renewable hydrogen from new hub
Categories: Solar Energy

President Biden picks Richard Glick as new FERC chairman

PV-TECH - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 07:14
Glick to step up to role of chairman as his appointment is welcomed by clean energy advocates
Categories: Solar Energy

Sunrun and installer Freedom Forever partner on US residential solar expansion

PV-TECH - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 06:50
Leading US residential solar companies partner to strengthen reach in core markets.
Categories: Solar Energy

Floating solar pilot project near Canary Islands to face up to 10m-high waves

PV-TECH - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 04:05
Consortium including Ocean Sun and Fred Olsen Renewables to develop 250kWp project near Gran Canaria
Categories: Solar Energy

Solar cheapest form of new power in major markets as new tech drives costs lower, states WoodMac

PV-TECH - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 02:46
Solar PV already cheapest in 16 US states, Spain, Italy and India and other key markets will follow this decade
Categories: Solar Energy
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