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Renewable Energy Update
January 11, 2019


Majority of new electric generating capacity this year to come from wind and solar

SOLAR INDUSTRY MAGAZINE - Jan 10 According to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), new electric generating capacity this year will come primarily from wind, solar, and natural gas. EIA’s latest inventory of electric generators estimates that 23.7 gigawatts of new capacity additions and 8.3 gigawatts of capacity retirements are expected for the U.S. electric power sector in 2019. The utility-scale capacity additions consist of wind (46 percent), natural gas (34 percent), and solar photovoltaics (18 percent), with the remaining 2 percent consisting primarily of other renewables and battery storage capacity. For solar, nearly half of the 4.3 gigawatts of utility-scale electric power sector solar PV capacity additions will be located in three states: Texas, California, and North Carolina.

California IOUs provide solar developers with map to grow renewables

UTILITY DIVE - Jan 8 California's largest investor-owned utilities (IOUs) last month published updated Interconnection Capacity Analysis maps, known as ICA 2.0, to better assist renewables developers in identifying ideal locations for new projects. The maps, a product of the Distribution Resources Plan proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission, identify points on the grid where new distributed energy resource (DER) capacity can be added without significant grid upgrades. The new maps "take a huge amount of risk and uncertainty out of DER project development, which will result in more of these projects being built at lower cost," Sahm White, economics and policy analysis director at the Clean Coalition, said in a statement. White said developers can now determine, earlier in the planning process, the ideal project size and location for new resources.

After wildfires, solar power advocates seek greater role in California electric grid

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Jan 3 Over the summer, Côme Lague received a notice from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. that made him rethink the energy needs at a vineyard he owns in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The letter stated that PG&E could decide to turn off power lines when extreme weather conditions elevate the risk of utility equipment sparking dangerous wildfires. Lague decided to expand the solar system at his vineyard to satisfy his business needs if PG&E does shut off the power. It’s one example of several ways advocates of solar power say the technology can play a bigger role in the state’s electric grid. “We have long thought that distributed solar was a critical component to preventing some of the worst impacts of climate change but, obviously, the wildfires and the grid’s role puts a whole new urgency to the deployment of distributed energy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, the industry group’s executive director.

NV Energy reorients generation mix toward solar and retiring coal

ELECTRIC LIGHT & POWER - Dec 27 Nevada-based NV Energy’s new and regulator-approved integrated resource plan (IRP) will dramatically reorient the utility’s future generation mix toward renewables and storage, while also phasing out its remaining coal power beginning in three years. The Public Utility Commission of Nevada has approved NV Energy’s long-term IRP to double its renewable energy capacity by 2023. The utility will bring 1,001 megawatts of solar capacity online via six new power purchase agreements. NV Energy, owned by a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, also will add 100 megawatts in battery storage capacity.

NREL evaluates floating solar technology potential in U.S.

PV-TECH - Jan 2 The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has evaluated the potential for floating solar (FPV) across the U.S. in a new study, highlighting its benefits on water reservoirs in arid regions as well as alongside hydroelectric facilities. The U.S. claimed the first FPV installation around a decade ago on an irrigation pond in Napa Valley, California, but few projects have materialized since. According to NREL researchers, FPV projects across more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate around 10 percent of the nation’s annual electricity production, which would reduce the land requirements for conventional ground mount PV power plants by at least 2.1 million hectares.

Utility microgrids poised to dramatically change energy landscape

MICROGRID KNOWLEDGE - Jan 9 Developments in technology, shifting markets, and the rise of distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar, are working to change the traditional way of doing business for utilities and beyond, according to a new white paper from Siemens that explores what the company calls “the dawn of the microgrid.” According to a 2018 Wood Mackenzie market report, between 2018 and 2022, U.S. distributed solar installations will grow from today’s roughly 2 million to almost 3.8 million. Behind-the-meter battery storage is also expected to grow from 200 megawatts to almost 1,400 megawatts during the same timeframe. For utilities, the rise of DERs threatens revenue and perhaps reliability, and it also makes the energy landscape more complex. In light of this challenge, many utilities are choosing to partner with vendors in the microgrid space to develop, deliver, and deploy utility microgrids in their territories.

El Paso Electric taps 100 MW of energy storage for west Texas summer peaks

GREENTECH MEDIA - Jan 7 El Paso Electric wants to build new natural-gas generation to meet its summer peaks, but it also selected solar and, unusually for Texas, energy storage resources. After evaluating its 2017 all-source request for proposals, the company decided to expand its Newman Power Station with a 226-megawatt natural-gas combustion turbine, but additionally picked 200 megawatts of utility-scale solar and 100 megawatts of battery storage. The company could also contract for up to 150 megawatts of additional wind and solar power. The portfolio's heavy battery component breaks new ground for Texas, a massive energy market where energy storage has had an exceedingly difficult time breaking in, as previously reported by Greentech Media.


Commissioners reject 94-acre Oregon solar project

HERALD AND NEWS - Jan 8 Commissioners in Klamath County, Oregon, voted Tuesday afternoon to reject Cypress Creek Renewables’ proposal to build a 94-acre solar project, dubbed the Merrill Solar Dual-Use Project, on land exclusively zoned for agricultural use. In order to move forward with the project, they needed Klamath County Commissioners to grant an exception to state planning goals, which protect high-value farmland for farming purposes. Under state agricultural planning goals, Cypress Creek had to prove to commissioners that no other area in the county could accommodate the solar project. They also had to demonstrate a need for the project and solid economic viability for its placement.

Colorado cooperative seals wind power deal

NORTH AMERICAN WINDPOWER - Jan 9 Holy Cross Energy (HCE), a nonprofit rural electric cooperative based in western Colorado, has announced a renewable energy swap agreement with Colorado wholesale energy company Guzman Energy. The two-way power purchase agreement will enable the development of a new 100-megawatt wind farm to serve HCE’s members. Once the new wind resources enter service in 2021, the PPA will support HCE’s clean energy and greenhouse-gas reduction goals, as outlined in its seventy70thirty plan earlier this year, calling for 70 percent clean energy by 2030.

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