Renewable Energy News

Work starts on New York’s first offshore wind project

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-15 06:49

Construction is underway on New York's first offshore wind project.

South Fork Wind is being jointly developed by Ørsted and Eversource, and is expected to come online in 2023.

The project positions New York to lead the nation in offshore wind development, according to Doreen M. Harris, president and CEO of the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). She said it would establish a robust supply chain for future projects.

"We are solidifying New York State's clean energy vision," Harris said.

New York's goal is to develop 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035. In January, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the state would invest $500 million to set up manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure for offshore wind.

South Fork Wind Farm is a 132 MW project to be sited 19 miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island. The project is approved to install 12 or fewer wind turbines and is expected to use Siemens-Gamesa’s 11 MW turbines. Kiewit Offshore Services won a contract to will design and build the project’s substation.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Ethanol isn’t as green as you might think, researchers say

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-15 06:45

A study found that the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard has failed to meet greenhouse gas emission targets but increased corn prices by 30%. The Renewable Fuels Association called the report "a completely fictional and erroneous account of the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard."

The carbon intensity of corn ethanol supported by the U.S.'s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is likely at least 24% higher than gasoline, according to a peer-reviewed study from University of Wisconsin researchers.

Researchers determined that the production of corn-based ethanol under the RFS policy "has failed to meet the policy’s own greenhouse gas emissions targets and negatively affected water quality, the area of land used for conservation, and other ecosystem processes." The RFS also pushed prices for corn up by 30% and other crops by 20%, they said.

The study aims to support policymakers as they determine the future of the RFS, which is among the world's largest biofuel programs. The policy was first established in 2008 and is now under review by the Biden administration.

The study, Environmental outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard, will be published in the March issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The work was supported by the U.S. Deptartment of Energy and the National Wildlife Federation, among others. The Bloomberg news service noted that the National Wildlife Federation is a vocal critic of the RFS.

'Precarious' conclusions, shouts trade group

The Renewable Fuels Association, which aims to expand demand for American-made biofuels, said the RFS is the "single most successful clean fuels policy in the U.S." The group said ethanol has saved Americans money, reduced the country's dependence on foreign fuels, and supported job growth.

The Renewable Fuels Association accused the researchers of "precariously" connecting a series of "worst-case scenarios." The trade group's president and CEO, Geoff Cooper, said that the RFA previously met with the study's author and offered to collaborate on research but never heard back.

RFA released a line-by-line rebuttal of the University of Wisconsin study. The group references a study released in 2021 by authors linked to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that found well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions of corn ethanol to be 40% lower than gasoline produced from crude oil.

The authors of Carbon intensity of corn ethanol in the United States attributed declining carbon intensity to improved farming practices, more efficient use of natural gas, and an increasing share of electric generation by ethanol refineries.

Categories: Renewable Energy

‘This is punitive’: Kansas Senate committee considers poison pill wind energy bills

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-15 05:51

By Allison Kite, Kansas Reflector

Senators heard three hours of testimony from anti-wind sources and just one hour from proponents of renewable energy

A series of bills professing to protect rural residents from industrial wind claim to bring transparency, limit abuse and enact safety measures to protect against the supposed health hazards of turbines.

In reality, they would transform Kansas, one of the top producers of wind energy for two decades, into one of the most restrictive states in the nation, pro-wind experts say.

“This is punitive. This is not progressive,” said Kimberly Gencur Svaty, public policy director for the Kansas Advanced Power Alliance. “This is not laying out a path of economic development or growth for the state of Kansas.” 

Kansas has embraced renewable development for years. The expansion of wind energy in Kansas has been embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike — and the state’s status as one of the top producers in the nation is celebrated.

But opposition to wind energy has found an ally in the Johnson County Republican leading the Senate Utilities Committee. The struggle between burgeoning resentment of industrial wind projects and the state’s two-decade history as the “Saudi Arabia of wind” received attention in early February in Sen. Mike Thompson’s committee.

“He’s been very clear he is very, very opposed and would like to end renewable energy, and so he brings these wolves-in-sheep-clothing bills to say, ‘Oh, these are just meant to do reasonable things,’ when quite clearly they’re not,” said Alan Claus Anderson, vice president of the energy group at Polsinelli law firm.

Thompson, in just his third session as a state senator, has established a reputation as a frequent critic of wind energy and touts dubious science about the health effects of wind. His committee is sponsoring half a dozen bills, most of them introduced at his request, enacting what the industry claims are poison pill restrictions on wind farms. Thompson didn’t respond to a request to comment for this story.

His committee heard for two days in February from anti-wind sources who claimed proximity to wind turbines could cause cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance and headaches. They cited anecdotes and disputed research showing no evidence of significant health harms from wind turbines. There is evidence wind farms can cause annoyance, but those sensations are often worse for people who are opposed to wind energy as an underlying cause for their frustration. 

“I thought and assumed that wind turbines were quiet, good for the world, and I assumed they were safe,” said Ben Washburn, a retired cardiologist from Iowa who presented for an hour to the committee. “The last few years I’ve witnessed the good, the bad, the ugly of wind turbines. The topic is massive, emotions are high, and distortion and corruption is in play.” 

Washburn said to people who believe renewables are the only path forward, “I would ask you to carefully reconsider.” 

And while Washburn and fellow wind critics’ testimony was supposed to be purely informational, one of them repeatedly voiced his support for Thompson’s bill requiring wind turbines to be sited at least a mile or 10 times the height of the turbine from the next property line.

After two days of hour-long presentations outlining supposed risks of wind energy, supporters of Thompson’s anti-wind bill got a third day in committee to speak directly about the legislation for five minutes each.

Only on February 10 did pro-wind forces and experts get to speak on Thompson’s bill — also for five minutes each. An expert with his PhD in environmental health and a career studying the health effects of wind got his credentials questioned. And Thompson cut off another senator voicing his opposition to the legislation.

“If we move forward with this bill — we are now a net exporter of energy — we will no longer be an exporter of energy,” said Sen. Robert Olson, an Olathe Republican. “We’ll be an importer of energy. And —” 

Thompson cut him off. “Are you testifying or are you asking a question? We need to make —”

“I’m making a comment here, which I have a right, I believe,” Olson said.

Thompson said he would limit Olson’s time to comment, and Olson voiced his frustration with the dayslong anti-wind testimony.

“You know, we had people all week say what they want for an hour, and I sat in here for a long time,” Olson said.

Thompson said, “This is my committee, and I’m saying get a question in.” 

Gencur Svaty encouraged the committee following her testimony to ask questions so that pro-wind advocates would get more time to speak, noting the previous days of testimony. Thompson responded that anti-wind groups testifying on his bill the day before were also limited to five minutes.

Anderson said the informational hearings held by Thompson’s committee were not meant to compile information in good faith.

“I struggle to say informational because they were obviously not intended to give good information,” Anderson said. “The people who presented are on the fringe of the fringe.” 

Health effects of wind 

Opponents of wind energy have made numerous claims regarding the potential health consequences of living near a turbine. 

They say the whooshing sound can cause stress, and infrasound — sound waves too low for people to hear — can harm the body.

Washburn cited a 1970 paper on pollution that called noise a “scourge of the modern world” and said ambient noise could cause atherosclerotic disease, or plaque buildup in the arteries, and death.

He took issue with wind turbines, too, not based on health but because wind is an intermittent energy resource that he called unreliable. He said moving to renewable energy only is “absurd.” And he recalled a public meeting in Iowa where he claimed a wind developer’s representative was hesitant to say wind was safe.

Research has shown a link between wind turbines and feelings of annoyance but that there is not sufficient information to link wind turbines to disease.

The University of Iowa’s College of Public Health, Iowa Policy Project and the Iowa Environmental Council reviewed several pieces of research and found the consensus was there was little scientific evidence to support the idea that wind energy poses a threat to human health.

Another literature review published by researchers in Switzerland found in 67 peer-reviewed and web articles published between 2012 and 2017 that annoyance was the only symptom of wind turbine exposure that was backed up by science.

The article acknowledged people who live near wind turbines might experience anxiety or distress, which is highly dependent on their attitudes toward wind energy.

And the article notes there are known negative effects from the use of fossil fuels to create electricity. That includes climate change, but also asthma for individuals living near coal-fired power plants.

“If you just want to have no wind turbines ever, well, then we’re going to have more coal-fired power plants and more disease,” said David Osterberg, lead researcher for the Iowa Policy Project and professor emeritus at the University of Iowa College of Public Health’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Osterberg said in an interview he doesn’t doubt people who live near turbines experience symptoms, but that it doesn’t come from sound. It could be a result of annoyance or stress from a large project they don’t want moving in near their home.

“But that is not a health effect that we can fix by moving the turbines back half a mile … so what they’re asking for does not take care of their symptoms,” Osterberg said. “They’re still going to be mad.”

Christopher Ollson, an environmental health scientist with Ollson Environmental Health Management, acknowledged a link between environmental noise and health concerns. But he told senators on the committee 20 years of research has shown noise from wind turbines isn’t loud enough to create those concerns.

“There is considerable research over the last 20 years that has studied this topic,” Ollson said. “The … provisions in this bill are far more excessive than any other state in this country, any of the local ordinances that have worked for more than 20 years.”

Fight over wind

Rural residents who have opposed wind projects moving into — or proposed — in their communities pleaded with the Utilities Committee on Wednesday to enact Thompson’s restrictions.

Aside from the one-mile setback, the bill would limit the decibel noise of the projects to levels the industry says are impossible and prohibit any shadow flicker on non-participating landowners’ property. Wind proponents say the way the bill is written would allow existing wind farms to be shut down over shadow flicker, something Anderson called “reckless” and said would threaten reliability of the power grid.

Several of Thompson’s bills have sought to shift power in siting wind farms to landowners who aren’t participating in the project and have voiced complaints about turbines moving in.

Proponents of wind energy often say landowners who want turbines on their property have a right to participate in the project without interference from their neighbors — while opponents say they have a right to enjoy their property free from what they see as the nuisance of wind turbines.

Gayla Randel, of Marshall County, told senators pro-wind forces would likely say they couldn’t enact Thompson’s restrictions because it would kill development.

“But what I want you to think about is, are they actually saying they can’t do their work unless they infringe on the property rights of nonparticipants,” Randel said. “Because that’s what it sounds like to me.”

Other supporters of Thompson’s bill said wind companies “steamroll” rural neighbors when they come into town.

“Unless you have a board of county commissioners who are actually savvy to wind projects, counties are sitting ducks,” said former Marion County Commissioner Dianne Novak. “We are at the mercy of these companies.”

The Kansas Reflector is a nonprofit news organization. This story was republished under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Categories: Renewable Energy

California PUC adopts plan to add 25.5GW of renewables by 2023

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2022-02-14 11:20

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved plans to add around 25,500 MW of renewable energy resources and 15,000 MW of energy storage and demand response resources by 2032. 

The decision also adopted a 35 million metric ton (MMT) electric sector greenhouse gas emission (GHG) planning target. That goal, also to be achieved by 2032, is tighter than an earlier 46 MMT GHG target.

The CPUC said its February 10 decision equates to 73% Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) resources and 86% GHG-free resources by 2032.  

The preferred system plan portfolio differs from one previously adopted by including more solar and battery storage, as well as new long-duration storage, out-of-state wind, and offshore wind resources.  

The decision said the process to include offshore wind in IRP capacity expansion models began in early 2020 and is due to wrap up in 2022. A March 2021 joint agency policy report to state legislators showed that offshore wind was likely to be needed in California’s 100% clean energy portfolio by 2045. 

The commission said that three load serving entities already have included around 300 MW of offshore wind in their integrated resource plans. Those resources would connect to the state’s electric power grid at interconnection points in Humboldt County and at Central Coast locations. 

Including offshore and out-of-state wind resources show their increased viability as “cost-effective resources” to help meet state goals, the CPUC said.  

A preliminary analysis of CPUC’s preferred system plan portfolio of the load serving entities (LSEs) indicated that sufficient space exists for these new resources on the existing transmission system. It said that “only limited transmission upgrades” would be needed by 2032.  

The CPUC said this finding would be validated in detail by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in its 2022-2023 Transmission Planning Process (TPP). The TPP is an evaluation of the CAISO transmission grid to identify grid upgrades needed to address reliability, meet state policy goals, and provide economic benefits. 

The regulatory decision also ordered utility procurement of two battery storage projects that were identified by the CAISO as alternatives to transmission upgrades in the previous TPP cycle. The projects are both in Pacific Gas and Electric’s service area. They include a 95 MW 4-hour storage resource on the Kern-Lamont 115 kV system and a 50 MW 4-hour storage resource at the Mesa 115 kV substation. 

Categories: Renewable Energy

Duke Energy aims to double renewable energy capacity by 2030

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2022-02-14 07:32

Duke Energy said it plans to double its renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade, and stop generating electricity from coal by 2035. CEO Lynn Good announced the plans during a call with investors on Feb. 10.

The announcement comes as Duke intends to deploy $63 billion of capital over the next five years, 80% of which is expected to support investments in grid modernization and zero or lower-carbon emitting generation. Good said Duke's wind and solar capacity would increase from 10,000 MW currently to 24,000 MW by 2030.

Duke Energy's Edwardsport IGCC (integrated gasification combined-cycle) coal-fired generation plant. Duke will stop generating electricity from coal by 2035, the company said. (Courtesy: Duke)

"As coal is phased out from our generation profile, it will be replaced with zero-carbon resources and prudent investments in cleaner natural gas," Good said, according to a transcript summary of the call.

Duke has retired 56 coal units for a total of 7.5 GW of capacity since 2010, Good said. The utility will spend around $4 billion on hydrogen-enabled natural gas generation to better ensure reliability in the absence of coal.

Around $15 billion would be spent on nuclear, renewables, storage, and hydropower over the same period, plus $33 billion on transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The financial sector is increasingly concerned about ownership of fossil fuel assets, particularly coal facilities, said Billy Pizer, vice president for research and policy engagement at the non-profit think thank Resources for the Future. Against this backdrop of regulation and financial momentum, "rapidly phasing out coal is good not just for the environment but for Duke Energy’s business."

Climate mandate North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed into law a bipartisan mandate that will require the state to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. (Courtesy: North Carolina Governor's Office)

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke is working to comply with a bipartisan clean energy and emissions mandate signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in October. House Bill 951, which emerged from a Republican-controlled state legislature, requires the state to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Under the bill, the state's utilities commission has until the end of 2022 to develop a plan with utilities to achieve the mandated emissions targets. "The Carbon Plan" would then be reviewed every two years and may be adjusted. Any generation and resource changes must maintain or improve grid reliability.

The utilities commission was authorized to direct the procurement of solar energy this year by utilities. And, regulators were directed to establish rules within 180 days for the early retirement of subcritical coal plants.

Good said that Dude planned to file its carbon plan after gathering stakeholder input. She said the utility expected an order on the carbon plan "by the end of this year."

Expanded emissions target Duke Energy's Sutton Combined-Cycle plant in Wilmington, North Carolina (Courtesy: Duke Energy)

Duke also announced that the utility's 2050 net-zero goals would expand to include Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 emissions.

The utility said it would include emissions from "the power it purchases for resale, from the procurement of fossil fuels used for generation and from the electricity purchased for its own use."

Duke added a new net-zero by 2050 goal for the natural gas business that includes "upstream methane and carbon emissions related to purchased gas and downstream carbon emissions from customers' consumption."

Duke claims to have already reduced Scope 1 emissions from electricity generation by 44% from 2005 levels.

Matt Abele of the NC Sustainable Energy Association told Renewable Energy World that Duke's announced coal plant closures are the result of HB951, which allowed the utility to recoup costs from retirements. He said he remains skeptical about Duke's expanded emissions targets.

“The jury is still out" on Duke's additional commitment to Scope 2/3 emissions. He said the utility "still seems fairly committed to natural gas in its own fleet" under Scope 1. He pointed to Duke's latest integrated resource plan as evidence. He also cited "expanded efforts for cross-state collaboration" through mechanisms like the Southeast Energy Exchange Market that "may actually increase" natural gas dependency in the state. 

Duke is among the 15 utilities that so far have backed the SEEM market design.

Categories: Renewable Energy

FERC receives two proposals for same California pumped storage location

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2022-02-14 03:00

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has received two applications for preliminary permits for a pumped storage project at the same location, Lake Elsinore in California.

The location is the site of the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS) project, which was proposed by Nevada Hydro Company Inc. The company’s application was dismissed by FERC on Dec. 8, 2021, and a rehearing was denied. FERC said Nevada Hydro could refile the application after obtaining information that the U.S. Forest Service requested as part of its review process.

Nevada Hydro said in a Feb. 8 filing that it was working with the Forest Service to obtain the needed information. The company filed its notice in an effort to preserve the site from third-party permit applications while it completes the studies necessary for resubmittal of its license application.

However, a day earlier, on Feb. 7, Blue Water Renewable Development filed an application with FERC for a proposed 1,000 MW project, known as Blue Water Energy Storage Project. The application said the project would increase in size to 1,000 MW from 500 MW, without increasing the size of the upper reservoir. It also would reduce the footprint of the primary transmission line facilities to reduce environmental impacts to Forest Service lands. And, the developers proposed water quality improvements in Lake Elsinore by installing a water treatment facility and supplemental oxygen injection system.

Under the proposal, Lake Elsinore would serve as the lower reservoir, with a new upper reservoir and dam across Decker Canyon to be constructed. The underground powerhouse would be about 3,000 feet from Lake Elsinore and would contain two reversible Francis-type pump-turbine/motor-generators, each rated for 500 MW at the average net head of about 1,500 feet. The 500-kV transmission line would be 6.3 miles long and connect to Southern California Edison’s Valley-Serrano line.

The operating scenario would depend on market conditions and other factors. The application to FERC said one scenario would be 12 hours of on-peak generation each weekday using both units. This would result in about 3,744,000 MWh of electricity generated annually.

Nevada Hydro’s LEAPS proposal was similar to the Blue Water project. One difference: The LEAPS project’s underground powerhouse would contain two reversible Francis-type pump-turbine/motor-generators, each rated for 250 MW. In addition, the 500-kV transmission line would be 32 miles long and connect to two existing transmission lines, one a 230-kW line south of the project and the other a 500-kV line to the north.

Average annual electricity production of the facility would depend on plant utilization. Under a representative five-day, 10-hour weekly generation schedule, annual electricity production would be 1,300,000 MWh.

FERC says: The purpose of a preliminary permit is to preserve the right of the permit holder to have the first priority in applying for a license for the project that is being studied.

Categories: Renewable Energy

MISO surprises with FERC Order 2222 implementation date

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2022-02-14 03:00

Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) surprised the entire stakeholder community with a 2030 proposed implementation date for complying with FERC’s Order 2222, which opened wholesale energy markets to distributed energy resources. MISO’s primary reasoning for the long lead time is staging several enabling market systems, including automating the current Demand Response Tool. And, MISO has decided to work on Multiple Configuration Resources ahead of the Order 2222 market participation model. As a result, MISO’s implementation date is beyond New England ISO.

It remains to be seen what comes out of the yet-to-be scheduled FERC Technical Conference on 2222. MISO’s long implementation date is another reason FERC should schedule a technical conference sooner than later. Consumers will benefit if FERC guides MISO and other ISOs within its jurisdiction to implement Order 2222 in the 2024–2026 time frame.

Background: What is FERC Order 2222, and what does it mean for renewable energy?

MISO’s primary reasoning

All Independent System Operators (ISOs) prioritize market improvements based on FERC orders and market participant suggestions. MISO is in the middle of the Market Systems Enhancement (MSE) project, taking a modular approach to market systems that have not been automated since the 2005 market start date.

By choosing to work on an improvement related to modeling multiple combined-cycle units, called Multiple Configuration Resources or MCR for short, MISO is delaying the market participation model for implementing Order 2222. MISO’s proposed approach chooses combined-cycle natural gas unit modeling over distributed energy resources such as solar and storage.

According to the MISO presentation from October 2020, MCR implementation is complex even when compared to Ancillary Services market due to the requirement for a new market solver. That new market solver would address the need for seven different configurations of a combined cycle unit.

Additional reasons for MISO’s longer timeline include the need for communications with distribution utilities from MISO’s control room. Currently, MISO only communicates with transmission owners and asset owners interconnected to the transmission system. With Order 2222, MISO must coordinate dispatch with distribution utilities that own distribution system assets. And MISO says it needs time to set up this communications system with the utilities.

MISO control room (Courtesy: MISO)

Is MCR MISO’s MOPR?

Multiple Configuration Resources (MCR) is suddenly in the limelight because of MISO’s market improvement schedule. As seen in the PJM and ISO-NE markets, a natural gas industry-driven Minimum Offer Pricing Rule (MOPR) is making news. PJM finally filed a revised MOPR that addresses PJM state’s concerns around renewable energy goals and mandates. Recall, New Jersey threatened to leave PJM’s capacity market and then withdrew once PJM started working on the revised MOPR. Similar MOPR battles are fought at ISO-NE.

So, is MCR going to be MISO’s MOPR? An MCR would enable MISO to model natural gas combined cycle units appropriately in the MISO market model. It is well documented that MISO is concerned about reliability given the winter storm in Texas last year and hurricanes in the south region. However, by prioritizing natural gas-related market improvements over clean distributed energy resources such as solar and storage, MISO is stepping into the gas industry versus renewable industry MOPR battles typically found in the northeast.

MISO plans for 2022-2024

MISO is working on key supporting market systems that are already baked in and received stakeholder buy-in, including automating a tool for Demand Response Resources. MISO is also automating market model manager who ensures the market registration process synchronizes with any model updates. Otherwise, MISO real-time energy market systems won’t show accurate pricing at their market nodes.

Automating the current market system includes financial settlement systems. And distribution companies like Ameren-Illinois are already working on those improvements because of their state legislation. According to Ameren, Illinois passed energy legislation last year that envisions a dynamic relationship with customers installing distributed energy devices.

@MISO_energy is proposing 2030 for #FERC2222 implementation date –https://t.co/qAT3QczjkS pic.twitter.com/pwau2ITRv2

— Rao Konidena (@RKonidena) February 8, 2022

Can Ameren-Illinois and the state of Illinois pave a path forward for “DER Light”?

According to Voltus, Aggregators of Retail Customers (ARCs) are proactively automating their existing tools and processes to allow for batch loading of DERs. Any new tools or processes are expected to be minimum for utilities to comply with this FERC Order 2222 since utilities have interconnection rules in place for DER interconnections. Bulk data uploads would streamline the process for utilities like Ameren and aggregators.

However, MISO said they are concerned about the volume and scalability impact of 100 kW DERs on market systems, even though there is little evidence since multi-nodal aggregations are not allowed under the current MISO proposal.

CPower, an energy aggregator similar to Voltus, asked MISO if a “DER light” market could be implemented in a shorter timeframe.

FERC Technical Conference can shed light

MISO’s long implementation date makes a case for FERC to approve Voltus’s petition for a technical conference, specifically having a panel of ISO market design experts on 2222 implementation timelines. When Voltus petitioned FERC, the main topics for proposed discussions included variation in ISO compliance filings for metering and telemetry, lack of multi-nodal aggregation for maximizing DER participation, and ISO deference to distribution utilities for operational coordination.

ISO implementation dates were an afterthought, but MISO’s 2030 date makes the implementation timeline a hot priority.

There is another underlying timeline that is unique to MISO. It is widely anticipated that MISO will release the next tranche of Multi Value Projects (MVPs) in the summer. As a result, most state regulators will focus on cost allocation of MVPs in the north and south region since MISO filed at FERC a new process that allocates costs per region. Hence MISO states focus would shift to MVP cost allocation from Order 2222.

Conclusion

Distributed energy resources provide reliability and affordability, and all state commissioners want that. FERC wants to keep transmission customer rates just and reasonable. Hence both state and federal objectives are aligned. So, FERC should weigh in and ensure ISOs, including MISO, implement Order 2222 in 2024-26, not five years later.

For the Voltus petition at FERC, widespread support was received from 16 commenters, including the ISO/RTO Council, of which MISO is a member. Google, Sunrun, Tesla, and industry associations Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA) supported the Voltus petition. Even MISO’s distribution utility Ameren supported the need for the technical conference.

Only the American Public Power Association (APPA) and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) were the opposing minority. Hence, the focus shifts to FERC scheduling the technical conference after MISO and SPP file their compliance plans in April.


Categories: Renewable Energy

Renewable energy advocates are angry at planned ISO NE move on MOPR

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2022-02-10 15:22

Grid operator ISO New England said it plans to extend the minimum offer price rule (MOPR) through 2024, a move that drew condemnation from renewable energy advocates.

In a statement, ISO New England outlined the "transition" proposal that will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the coming weeks. If allowed to proceed, the MOPR would remain in effect for next year's capacity auction.

The transition proposal, paired with the renewable technology resource (RTR) exemption, will serve the region with a "dual objective of protecting power system reliability while having state-sponsored resources gain entry to the market," ISO New England wrote in a blog post.

ISO New England, which operates the grid for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, said its plan was designed to "mitigate short-term reliability impacts" of ending the MOPR.

The New England Power Pool Participant's Committee voted to support the decision on Feb. 4.

Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, condemned ISO New England's plan, saying that his group was "disappointed" that ISO-NE "reversed its earlier commitment to eliminate the anti-competitive and anti-renewable" MOPR by 2023. He said in a statement that delayed implementation would keeps clean energy from competing in the regional capacity markets for another two years. He labeled MOPR a "costly and inefficient barrier" to achieving clean energy goals and called for it to be "quickly removed."

Renewable energy advocates oppose MOPRs in capacity markets arguing that they prevent energy resources like wind and solar from participating in the auction and reducing capacity costs for all consumers. The MOPR is especially problematic, advocates say, as more states implement clean energy standards and mandates.

Rao Konidena, an independent energy consultant who previously worked on policy for the Midcontinent ISO, said the upcoming midterm elections may play a role in whether ISO New England's MOPR stays or goes. Republicans in the U.S. Senate could put pressure on FERC to accept ISO New England's proposal due to natural gas interests, should they regain a majority in the chamber.

Konidena said that in 2018, ISO New England's Forward Capacity Market Revenue peaked with $3.6 billion changing hands but declined to $2.7 billion in 2020 as renewable resource deployments grew.

"The MOPR debate has caused consternation in the stakeholder community because stakeholder process has been preempted," Konidena said in an interview. "Solar and wind do not get 100% capacity credit. Gas does." He said that renewables are being "double penalized" under the MOPR.

ISO New England said that its transition plan would be submitted to FERC in the coming weeks.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Wind project off North Carolina coast gets overwhelming support

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2022-02-10 09:46

By Elizabeth Ouzts, Energy News Network

Birders and organized labor dominated a recent public comment period, while beach towns were mostly mum. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will now consider the input ahead of an anticipated auction this spring.

Though a spate of southeast North Carolina beach communities last year passed resolutions against ocean wind turbines that could be seen from shore, the formal letters just submitted to the federal government about the prospect were overwhelmingly — and surprisingly — positive.

In a feedback period that closed last month, only Bald Head Island weighed in with the Biden administration about its plans to allow wind turbines about 18 miles from the Brunswick County coast, where they would appear as tiny specks on the horizon.

The rest of the public comments were dominated by conservationists, who view the climate crisis as an existential risk to birds and other wildlife, and representatives of organized labor, who see an unprecedented opportunity for new union jobs in turbine manufacturing and construction.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will now review the input and issue a final sale notice for a 200-square-mile patch of ocean called Wilmington East, with an auction anticipated this spring. But the ocean wind farm itself is still years away, with most of its details still undetermined.

“We do think that the current Wilmington East area is a preferred location for a wind project,” said Greg Andeck, government relations director for Audubon North Carolina. “But there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done before the project has steel in the ground.”

‘We need responsible offshore wind’ 

To be sure, Bald Head Island wasn’t alone in lodging formal concern about wind turbines visible from the shore. A fishing boat captain and realtor called the structures “visual pollution” and “monstrosities.” Another commenter pleaded: “As a property owner and a senior citizen, I beg you not to place windmills within naked eyesight of our coastline.”

During a comment session that closed in September, Caswell Beach also weighed in, hinting that the turbines could be placed beyond the horizon as they will be in the Kitty Hawk wind energy area off the Outer Banks coast. 

But during both feedback sessions, Audubon members were the most numerous voices by far, making up more than 600 of the 667 letters received in December and 800 of 814 comments received in September. 

“We saw over 1500 petition signatures through two different comment periods with virtually no negative feedback,” Andeck said. “That’s surprising for folks, seeing that there’s such broad support from birders.” 

Undeniably, wind turbines can and do kill birds, often undetected. Some studies suggest land-based wind farms in the United States could cause over a million bird deaths a year — a figure sure to increase as wind power ramps up. 

But unchecked global warming poses an exponentially greater danger. If temperatures rise 3 degrees Celsius by century’s end — as they’re now on pace to do — scientists predict the areas where birds can breed, nest, and forage would shrink dramatically. Two-thirds of all bird species in North America could face extinction. 

“Fundamentally our members know that climate change is now the biggest threat to birds,” Andeck said, “and that we need responsible offshore wind to respond to this threat.” 

For Audubon, “responsible” is the key word, encompassing everything from siting decisions that avoid migration routes to technology choices that limit bird impact.

The northern gannet — a snow-white seabird known for nabbing its ocean prey with a torpedo-style plunge — helps illustrate the point. Scientists believe the gannet’s nesting and feeding grounds off the coast of Canada will shrink nearly 70% if the planet continues warming apace, a contraction that may be impossible to survive.

But the southern Atlantic Ocean is also along the gannet’s migration route. How might global warming alter its annual trek? How would it respond to hundreds of turbines in its path? How will the menhaden and other fish the gannet eats fair? 

The Wilmington East area was selected in part because it should pose limited interference to wildlife. But Audubon and other conservationists are still pressing officials to require developers to use cutting-edge equipment to further reduce risk, such as sensors that can turn off blades when bird flocks are nearby.

“Migratory marine birds like Northern Gannet and trans-Atlantic migrants like Whimbrel rely on our responsible stewardship to ensure their populations remain resilient as we transition to a clean energy future,” the Audubon petition reads.

If the federal government requires wind developers to monitor and reduce bird impacts upfront, it concludes, “we can provide offshore wind energy companies the certainty they need to grow this industry in North Carolina, and at the same time protect birds and the places they need today and tomorrow.”

‘A big push on our part’

After Audubon, the labor movement made up the next biggest chunk of comments into the federal government, the result of a concerted effort by the state AFL-CIO and the North Carolina Climate and Jobs Roundtable, a coalition of labor, justice and environmental groups.

“This was a big push on our part because offshore wind is such a big priority of many of our affiliates,” said Aiden Graham, campaign manager and field director for the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

The enormous towers, blades and other specialized parts that make up offshore wind farms are now made in Europe. But from ironworkers to electrical workers to the building trades, there’s wide resolve to develop a U.S. supply chain to support the some 5,000 turbines set to be planted off the East Coast in the next decade.

“We don’t have the domestic workforce that we really need, nor do we have the domestic supply chain that we really need,” Graham said. “It’s a major priority of the labor movement to build out that supply chain and to build the workforce that can do that work domestically.” 

report issued last month by the Southeastern Wind Coalition and E2 projected a theoretical 2.8-gigawatt project built off North Carolina’s coast by 2030 — in line with goals set by Gov. Roy Cooper last year — could bring $4.6 billion in economic benefits, including up to 31,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

Federal officials estimate Wilmington East will have at least 1.5 gigawatts of capacity, enough to power more than half a million homes. Whatever jobs the project ultimately spurs, organized labor is pushing for them to be local, union accessible, and responsive to the needs of historically marginalized communities.

Commenters praised the Biden administration for proposing that the wind developer who leases the area “make every reasonable effort” to enter into project labor agreements for the construction phase. 

“The project is an opportunity to help diversify our energy sources for families in North Carolina and bring middle-class jobs to the region,” wrote Dan Segovia, business manager for Ironworkers Local 848. “With a well-trained workforce, our partners in North Carolina can count on efficient and timely construction of any new energy development.” 

Project labor agreements serve to standardize work rules, safety agreements, and workforce training, the state AFL-CIO wrote in its comments, and establish clear and speedy channels for communication, coordination, and dispute resolutions. 

In Rhode Island, where the nation’s first commercial offshore wind project was built, Deepwater Wind’s project labor agreement with that state’s building and construction trade council “ensured the cost, schedule and time certainty challenges of our project were met,” then-CEO Jeffrey Grybowski wrote in a letter submitted to the Biden administration. Moreover, he said, “it was essential to having our project completely safely and within budget.”

Federal officials are also toying with “multi-factor” bidding, in which developers bidding for the patch of ocean offer not just money but also commitments to train workers and use domestically produced supplies. Union organizers applaud the idea, so long as it is used in conjunction with, not instead of, project labor agreements.

“Bidding criteria should be employed to advance community benefits, environmental justice principles, and high labor standards,” wrote the North Carolina Climate and Jobs Roundtable. 

A 2013 state law prevents state or local governments from requiring project labor agreements, but the Biden administration can impose whatever standards it chooses for projects constructed in federal waters. And since the Wilmington East area is equidistant to South Carolina, another state with anti-union laws, labor organizers hope the federal government will use its influence to prevent a “race to the bottom” for cheap labor.

“In a state like North Carolina,” Graham said, “we have more leverage at the federal level than we do at the state level.” 

To be sure, there is precedent for both the Biden administration and the wind developers to meet the demands of organized labor. But most of the activity to date has been in the more union-friendly Northeast, not in this right-to-work region where workers can be represented by unions without paying dues. 

“Whenever there is a reference to offshore wind from the federal government, there is a reference to well paying, organized labor jobs,” said Jaime Simmons, program manager with the Southeastern Wind Coalition. “The industry has done a really stellar job at ensuring that project labor agreements are utilized at different phases of development.”

“All that said,” she added, “North Carolina is a right-to-work state, so it’s tough to see how those dynamics will play out.” 

‘Raising these issues early’ 

Another question looming over the coastal wind farm: How many companies will build it? The Southeastern Wind Coalition and some wind developers believe dividing the area into two equal parcels and leasing it to two different companies will create the most competition, bringing costs down.

That way, said Simmons, “there is more of an effort to sharpen your pencils to demonstrate that this is being done as cost-effectively as possible.” 

The state’s dominant utility, Duke Energy, takes the opposite view, arguing that keeping the area with one lessee will provide more flexibility for it to respond to concerns about environmental impact and the visibility of the turbines from the shore. (Not mentioned in the company’s letter are the company’s shareholders, which stand to benefit from less competition.) 

Whatever parameters the Biden administration places on the lease sale, the offshore wind project is still in its very early stages, and there will be more public input before wind turbines start spinning off the state’s southeastern coast. But both conservationists and union interests stress that their involvement in the process now is critical.

“We’re raising these issues early and as soon as possible so there’s not a surprise for developers about how we would like our offshore wind industry to develop,” said Audubon’s Andeck.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Auxin Solar alleges unfair trade practices from Chinese suppliers, asks Commerce to intervene

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2022-02-10 08:27

For the second time in less than a year, the U.S. Department of Commerce is being asked to determine whether or not a handful of solar manufacturers that are based in China but that have operations across Southeast Asia are engaging in unfair trade practices.

In a 105-page petition, Auxin Solar, a minority- and woman-owned domestic producer of solar modules in San Jose, California, asked Commerce to determine that solar cells and modules assembled in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are circumventing and undermining the effectiveness of U.S. trade remedy laws.

“The Government of China and major Chinese producers simply refuse to trade fairly,” said Mamun Rashid, CEO of Auxin Solar in a statement.  He said that rather than ending Beijing’s subsidization of the solar supply chain and raising prices, the Chinese producers moved operations to another country as an export platform to “continue assaulting the U.S. market with incredibly cheap products.” 

‘Frivolous’

In a statement, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the petition “frivolous” and said the trade group would “aggressively” oppose it.

“This is yet another attempt to abuse U.S. trade laws and cause serious economic harm to the American solar industry and its 230,000 workers, shockingly, all at the behest of a single company,” Hopper said.

The petition said that the anti-circumvention statute does not limit the size of the party that files an allegation. It said that domestic producers like Auxin Solar “would have much more capacity” if they could sell crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) modules under “fair competitive conditions.”

It said that at present, low-cost CSPV cell and module imports from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia that utilize inputs from affiliated Chinese suppliers “continue to undercut domestic producer pricing at key accounts” and limit the ability for Auxin Solar to reinvest and expand.

15 companies Inside a JinkoSolar Smart Facility. The company is once again at the center of anti-dumping and circumventing accusations from a U.S. solar module manufacturer (Courtesy: JinkoSolar)

The petition named 15 module manufacturers that it alleged are circumventing U.S. anti-dumping laws. The companies are LONGi Malaysia and Vietnam, Jinko Solar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Talesun, Light & Hope, GCL, Boviet Solar, Green Wing Solar, HT Solar, New East Solar, Enalex, Shenglong PV-Tech, and Jintek.

Last November, Commerce rejected a similar petition by an anonymous group of solar companies that sought tariffs on a handful of companies that import modules from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The request had been made by American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) and sought anti-dumping and anti-circumvention (AD-CVD) tariffs. In a November 10 decision, Abdelali Elouaradia, director of the Commerce Department’s AD-CVD office, said that A-SMACC’s bid to keep the names of its member companies from the public prevented Commerce from gathering needed information for any inquiry.

Elouaradia wrote that “not disclosing A-SMACC members’ names publicly hampers interested parties from fully commenting on the requests for circumvention inquiries and may hamper them from commenting on certain issues that could arise if Commerce were to initiate circumvention inquiries.”

In July, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) 2020 Annual Solar Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report, said that solar PV imports to the U.S. totaled just under 19.3 million peak kilowatts, and exports totaled 376,483 peak kilowatts.

The EIA report listed Vietnam as the top source of PV imports to the U.S. at 8.1 million peak kilowatts. South Korea and Thailand combined were second at 4.4 million peak kilowatts, and Malaysia was third at 3.2 million peak kilowatts. The report lumped together imports from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, which totaled less than 950,000 peak kilowatts.

Allegations

The Auxin petition, which was filed February 8, alleges that imports from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia have risen by 868% over the last decade and “replaced Chinese imports completely.” The petition said that major producers in these countries “are all affiliated with Chinese producers of upstream inputs” and that their cost structure and pricing “is no different than if they still produced in China for the U.S. market.” 

The petition alleges that some Chinese producers even admit that they set up facilities outside of China to avoid U.S. duties. For example, it said that Talesun Thailand, which is part of a Chinese group, advertises circumvention on its website stating that “we offer a solution adapted to markets affected by anti-dumping laws such as the United States.”  

And, it alleges that Boviet Solar, a Vietnamese assembler that is owned by Chinese producer Boway, offers cost savings to buyers because “Vietnam is not a U.S. listed Anti-dumping and Countervailing region.”  

In his statement, Rashid said that key upstream inputs in module manufacturing came from China with only assembly taking place outside of China. “This is textbook circumvention,” he said. Renewable Energy World asked Auxin Solar for an interview to discuss its allegations but has not had a response.

‘Pales in comparison’

The petition alleges that the level of investment in the third countries “pales in comparison” to the level of investment in integrated supply chains in China. It said that upstream production of polysilicon, ingots, and wafers requires investments in the billions of dollars, while cell and module assembly/completion operations require a “small fraction of that amount to set up shop.”

A decade ago, Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission found that dumped and subsidized imports of Chinese CSPV cells and modules caused material injury to the domestic U.S. CSPV industry. Antidumping and countervailing duty orders were put in place in an effort to address those trade practices. The Auxin petition alleges that Chinese companies sidestepped the import duties by setting up operations outside of China.

The petition alleges that Beijing’s Going Out Policy and Belt and Road Initiative “greased the skids” for Chinese companies to complete production in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia and so circumvent existing AD and CVD Orders.

Commerce has 30 days to decide whether to move forward on the request, but may extend that deadline for an additional 15 days.  Once underway, Commerce would have to complete the inquiry within 300 days. In the event of an affirmative determination, duties may apply to circumventing solar cells and modules on each import after the date of Commerce’s initiation.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Can the feds jump start 24/7 carbon-free electricity adoption?

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2022-02-10 08:21

One of the hottest trends in corporate clean energy procurement is 24/7 carbon-free electricity: An hour-by-hour match of an entity's energy consumption throughout the day, instead of the traditional method of buying clean energy credits based on annual consumption.

The procurement process, pioneered by Google, Microsoft, and others, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up local electric grids, but is still relatively uncommon. Can a boost from the federal government jump start 24/7 CFE?

Learning more

The Biden administration, through the General Services Administration and Department of Defense--itself the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S.--requested information in early February regarding 24/7 carbon-free electricity (CFE) procurement. The move follows Biden's executive order that directs the federal government to use 100% CFE on a net annual basis by 2030, including 50% on a 24/7 basis.

Through this RFI, the Biden administration aims to demonstrate intent to achieve 100% CFE for federal operations, better understand 24/7 hourly matched CFE, and gather information on potential approaches to meet the goals.

Mark Dyson, senior principal of the Rocky Mountain Institute's Carbon Free Electricity program, and a prominent advocate for the procurement method, cheered the announcement.

"With this announcement, the federal government joins a growing movement of carbon-free energy buyers interested in more-advanced forms of procurement," Dyson said. "By tailoring their procurement strategies to regional grid conditions, buyers can help unlock both near-term carbon savings and long-term innovation in technologies that can accelerate full grid decarbonization."

What is CFE?

RMI defines 24/7 CFE as involving a buyer's attempt to procure enough carbon-free energy to match a given facility's load in every hour.

An RMI study titled "Clean Power by the Hour" determined that costs rose with the level of hourly load matching compared to costs for meeting annual procurement targets, near-term emissions reductions for hourly load matching depended on the regional grid mix, and hourly procurement strategies can create new markets for emerging technologies.

Procuring hour-by-hour clean energy within an energy buyer's grid can lead to a greater drop in greenhouse gas emissions than 100% clean energy matching. At the same time, it can drive deployment of clean firm power generation and long-duration energy storage, according to a study by Princeton University's ZERO Lab.

Among the Princeton lab's findings on an hour-by-hour strategy:

Eliminates carbon dioxide emissions associated with a buyer's electricity consumption

Leads to greater system-level emissions reductions than 100% annual matching

Drives early deployment of clean firm generation and long-duration energy storage

Drives significantly more retirement of natural gas power generation

More costly than 100% annual matching clean energy procurement

CFE in practice

Google has been largely carbon-neutral since 2007 through carbon offsets, and was one of the first companies to buy renewable energy directly through power purchase agreements in 2017. The company now is moving from 100% annual renewable energy matching to 24/7 matching with a goal of achieving that target by 2030.

Its transition involves focusing on regional grid needs and hourly load matching instead of annual, volume-based goals. In 2020, Google said it reached 67% carbon-free energy globally on an hourly basis.

"The broader goal of our program is to accelerate grid decarbonization," Devon Swezey, Google's global energy market development and policy lead said during a recent webinar with the Northeast Clean Energy Council and RMI. "That's why we include grid carbon-free energy in our methodology and tailor our procurement to fill existing gaps in grid CFE today."

Microsoft, meanwhile, announced in November that it will power its data centers in Virginia with 24/7 clean energy through a 15-year agreement with AES Corporation. The deal is intended to support Microsoft's goal of matching 100% of its electricity consumption with zero-carbon energy purchases by 2030.

AES will source the energy from a portfolio of 576 MW of contracted renewable assets, including wind, solar, as well as battery energy storage projects in PJM.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Community solar’s outlook is improving. But big challenges threaten Biden’s goal

Renewable Energy - Wed, 2022-02-09 14:45

The Biden administration wants 5 million homes to be powered by community solar projects by 2025, representing a 700% increase from 2021 capacity. Interconnection delays and a lack of transparency from utilities threaten that target, according to a leading developer.

Scott Wiater's perception of community solar has evolved.

As president and CEO of Standard Solar, now one of the largest developers and owners of community solar projects in the U.S., Wiater said he avoided getting involved in community solar for as long as possible.

"It's just so much easier to have a single offtake, long-term contract. That was a good business model," Wiater said, noting Standard Solar's transformation from residential to commercial development in 2008 when he joined the company. He said that policies have shifted and likely will continue to shift.

Standard Solar celebrates the acquisition of 5.7 MW Bethel Community Solar Farm in Maine. The company is one of the largest community solar developers and asset owners in the U.S. with 250 MW of capacity owned and operated.

Standard Solar jumped into community solar development in 2018 as policymakers recognized the benefits of a subscription model for clean energy. Now, at least 19 states and D.C. have established policies and programs to support community solar adoption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.

Growing community solar depends largely on policy expansion. Otherwise, community solar-type projects receive wholesale rate compensation, making them economically unviable in most cases.

The outlook for community solar is improving, according to market analysts. On Feb. 8, energy research consultancy Wood-Mackenzie raised its 5-year forecast for community solar capacity in the U.S. to 4.5 GW, up by 9% from its earlier outlooks. The revision was due to expanded community solar programs in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, as well as new programs in Delaware and New Mexico.

"Policymakers are heavily influenced by utilities, and I think utilities are more comfortable with community solar (than a distributed residential model) because it's easier to plan," Wiater said. He said that developers favor it because they don't have to worry about the offtakers. "They just have to worry about getting site control with good interconnection and they have a solar project."

'Through the roof'

The latter piece of that equation -- interconnection -- is an increasingly burdensome challenge, Wiater said. On top of delays, developers pay the brunt of grid upgrade costs to support interconnection and have little knowledge of what their money is paying for.

Wiater said he believes the lack of transparency by utilities is one of the biggest threats to growing community solar. The Biden administration, meanwhile, hopes to expand community solar capacity by 700% by 2025, enough to power 5 million American homes.

Wiater said that utilities "just tell us what they've spent and we pay the bill." He said that little transparence exists to those costs and developers have little alternative but to pay them.

Wiater acknowledged that utilities have an obligation to study how community solar projects impact the grid and their customers. But without an improved interconnection process, national community solar capacity targets face an uphill battle.

"We are way behind coming close to (the Biden administration's) goals unless we start acting super aggressively now," he said. "We have to figure out how to do everything quicker if we're going to meet any of these climate change goals that have been put in front of us."

Summit Ridge Energy operates and jointly owns with climate investment firm Hannon Armstrong this solar array on a commercial building in Maryland. (Courtesy: Summit Ridge Energy) Within reach?

The Biden administration's goal of powering 5 million American homes with community solar by 2025 was informed, in part, by developers like Summit Ridge Energy, which weighed in on the process.

Jason Spreyer, Summit Ridge's executive vice president of business development, said the goal may be lofty, but is attainable. And goalsetting like the White House's target will help move the needle.

Spreyer added that key to reaching the federal community solar target is access to new markets.

"How we're trying to facilitate that is a number of our team members are very active (driving policy) in those states," Spreyer said in an interview with Renewable Energy World. "They are part of the leadership in those markets."

Issues relating to interconnection and siting are not new. And Spreyer said the Wood-Mackenzie forecast was reassuring and highlights the progress that is being made to expand community solar access across the country.

Categories: Renewable Energy

The case for equitable energy storage in Pennsylvania

Renewable Energy - Wed, 2022-02-09 11:46

Contributed by Odette Mucha, Vote Solar and Liz Robinson, Philadelphia Solar Energy Association

As we know, solar power provides a wide range of benefits to Pennsylvanians. It creates local jobs, with PA currently home to over 400 solar companies with over 4,300 solar workers. Solar power brings tax revenue to our communities, and the solar industry has cumulatively invested over $2.5 billion in the Keystone State. And solar power cleans our air. In fact, Yale estimates that we could avoid over 11,500 premature deaths in the Commonwealth by switching from coal to cleaner sources like solar. As the sweeping benefits of solar power become more widely understood, and as Pennsylvania begins to invest more seriously in clean energy, energy storage must also be a big part of the conversation. 

What is energy storage? Essentially, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a way to capture unused energy and save it for later use. The electricity grid is a complex system, characterized by constantly-changing supply and demand. Scaling up energy storage can help smooth out spikes and keep the lights on reliably without activating highly-polluting fossil fuel peaker plants. In fact, our grid already uses storage to reduce peak demand, saving consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.  Just like solar, the cost of energy storage has fallen dramatically in the last ten years. Storage has dropped more than 70 percent between 2015 and 2019 —and is now a cost-effective option.   Storage can also provide meaningful relief for energy-burdened Pennsylvanians and is proving to be a critical tool in our toolbelt as we mitigate our worsening climate crisis. 

Read more: Connecticut sets goal to deploy 1 GW of energy storage

For examples of equitable storage deployment done well, we only need to look as far as Connecticut or Maryland. As part of its grid modernization process,  Connecticut’s new Electricity Storage Program includes strong provisions to benefit low and moderate income communities and offers upfront incentives to all customers to add storage. Maryland has prioritized transparency, with its Energy Storage Pilot Program requiring that all emissions reductions resulting from storage projects be reported. 

Pennsylvania should apply the principles of equity and transparency to our own storage implementation, as Vote Solar and PSEA recently commented. Climate change does not affect everyone equally. It has the most devastating impacts in environmental justice communities — where nearly a  third of Pennsylvania residents live. These communities are more likely to be harmed by pollutants, including from fossil fuel plants, and experience nearly twice as many high-heat days as more affluent communities due to the urban heat island effect. 

Investment in energy storage projects should prioritize communities suffering high levels of pollution and consider if a project will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and thereby, improve public health. Will it spur economic development or solar ownership? 

As costs and benefits are considered, it should also be determined whether storage can be strategically combined with other “non-wires solutions” like distributed generation or energy efficiency. When deployed in tandem, these tools can mean lower costs and increased reliability for ratepayers. 

As we imagine what 2022 may hold in store for us with the start of the new year, let’s add equitable energy storage to the list. As the body responsible for ensuring safe, reliable, and affordable electricity for Pennsylvania ratepayers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) now has an opportunity to advance the equitable deployment of energy storage as a means of combating climate change, advancing energy equity, and modernizing the Commonwealth’s electric grid. Having solicited public comment on the topic twice over the past two years, the PA PUC can now boldly act to put Pennsylvania on the energy storage map. They should rise to meet that opportunity and make just, cost-effective energy storage a pillar of Pennsylvania’s utility system. 

About the authors:

Odette Mucha is the Mid-Atlantic Regulatory Director at Vote Solar, a nationwide non-profit fighting for a 100% clean energy future. Liz Robinson is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association. They recently submitted comments on equitable energy storage to the PA PUC along with other allied groups.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Solar panel canal project advances in California

Renewable Energy - Wed, 2022-02-09 06:41

A canopy of solar panels over an irrigation canal, working to generate clean energy and conserve water supply, is a conceptual idea that typically only exists in the optimistic corners of #energytwitter.

Until now.

Construction will begin this fall on a project to cover irrigation canals with solar panels. A public-private research project dubbed Project Nexus will study the benefits of covering various sections of irrigation canals in Central California with solar panels.

On February 9, water and electric utility Turlock Irrigation District (TID) accepted $20 million of state funds for the pilot project, which will be conducted alongside the Department of Water Resources, Solar AquaGrid, and the University of California, Merced. The project will also feature energy storage.

Conceptual rendering of spanning the 25 foot-wide TID canal (Courtesy: TID)

Project Nexus will analyze the reduction of water evaporation, water quality improvements through reduced vegetative growth, reduced maintenance, and generation of renewable electricity, the group said.

Covering all of California's canals with solar panels -- stretching roughly 4,000 miles -- could save 63 billion gallons of water and generate 13 GW of solar power each year, according to a study published in March 2021 by U.C. Merced researchers.

"The Solar AquaGrid model provides a combined, integrated response to addressing our water-energy nexus," said UC Merced Professor Roger Bales. He said the approach "helps address California's underlying vulnerabilities" while meeting both state and federal level commitments to produce renewable energy, preserve natural lands, lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Renewables make up nearly all of Texas’ new generating capacity. Can the market keep up the momentum?

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-08 14:01

Texas' love affair with renewable energy is undeniable. But even after another banner year for clean energy in the state, a market redesign, fueled by political rhetoric from state leaders, could thwart future deployment, experts say.

Wind and solar accounted for nearly all new generating capacity added to the Texas grid in 2021, according to newly released market data. S&P Global Market Intelligence notes that power plant operators added 8,139 MW of new generating capacity to the ERCOT market last year -- 42% came from wind and 40% from solar. Natural gas-fired additions made up 13% of the new capacity.

Nationally, wind and solar made up a slightly smaller share of new generating capacity -- 41% and 36%, respectively -- of the 27,959 MW of capacity added.

Jeff Clark, president and CEO of the Texas-based Advanced Power Alliance, said Texas continues to benefit from corporate and consumer demand for clean electricity and long-term price certainty. He added that broad electrification, including within the transportation sector, offers opportunities for even more growth.

"These are tremendously exciting times in the clean power sector, thanks to continued improvements in technology and economics," said Clark, who also advocates for the replacement of coal-fired generating capacity with cleaner natural gas. "The addition of energy storage projects, and the extraordinarily large pipeline of projects ahead, will bring greater reliable and resilient integration of renewables, accelerating these trends."

Broad Reach Power announced this week that its North Fork and Bat Cave battery storage projects in Central Texas have been placed into service with ERCOT, each bringing online 100 MW/100 MWh. Broad Reach Power now has 300 MW of dispatchable storage resources in ERCOT. (Source: Broad Reach Power) Comically full

ERCOT is gaining ground in the energy storage sector. While California claimed the largest battery energy storage system in 2021 -- the 230 MW McCoy Battery Storage Project -- Texas added the next two largest systems with the 102 MW Gambit Battery Energy Storage Park and 100 MW North Fork Battery Storage Project.

Paired with the rapid deployment of renewables, energy storage can provide resilient, clean electricity to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Texas, where an extreme winter storm nearly caused a complete collapse of the electric grid in February 2021. The California ISO region grabbed 55% of new energy storage capacity in 2021, while Texas took 38%.

Dr. Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin, and a founding partner of energy consultancy IdeaSmiths, said additional incentives for energy storage and investments in transmission infrastructure would unlock even greater deployment of renewable energy resources in Texas.

"The interconnection queue (at ERCOT) is full. It's comically full," Rhodes told Renewable Energy World. "I think we're going to see a lot more storage connected to the grid.

"Before, the only way we could get more renewables on the system is to build more transmission. That's not really true anymore with storage."

Pattern Energy’s Gulf Wind facility in Kenedy County, Texas Can Texas keep up the momentum?

Uncertainty surrounding a market redesign by the Texas Public Utilities Commission has started to slow the deployment of renewable energy resources, experts say.

In July, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the PUC to “allocate reliability costs to generation resources that cannot guarantee their own availability, such as wind or solar power” and to “streamline incentives within the ERCOT market to foster the development and maintenance of adequate and reliable sources of power, like natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.”

Doug Lewin, a Texas-based energy consultant, said adding ancillary service costs to renewables would be a "major change" that could threaten future deployment in the state.

"It will really stifle development," Lewin said. He said there is little interest in building new thermal plants, which could leave Texas in a "terrible spot" in which renewables are at a disadvantage and the market is not favorable for new thermal capacity.

"There's a real danger there," Lewin said.

Categories: Renewable Energy

EVs, supply chains, and infrastructure: 4 renewable energy trends to watch in 2022

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-08 10:11

Contributed by Zaki Robbins, Moye White LLP

Despite facing industry-wide obstacles ranging from supply chain issues and COVID-19 pandemic-driven workforce shortages to continued mixed signals coming from governmental and business leaders, 2021 was a banner year for renewable energy policy and development. Although 2021’s headwinds are unlikely to subside in the near future, all indications forecast continued momentum in the clean energy industry over the course of 2022. While it is impossible to predict with certainty all that will occur over the year ahead, there are four possible trends that will tell the story of renewable energy in 2022.

A container ship at the Port of Los Angeles. Credit: Flickr/Corey Seeman 1. Continued struggles with supply chains and labor markets

2021 saw unexpected shocks hit the renewable energy industry as a result of supply chain issues and rising commodities prices. Costs of raw materials rose significantly – including silicon (up 60%), photovoltaic-grade glass (up 50%), and steel and copper (up 40%) – and freight shipping costs doubled in some cases. These issues have combined to wipe out nearly all price reductions seen over the prior two years. In addition to price increases, the industry also struggled to attract and retain talent in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. While developers have sought alternative suppliers and substitute materials in order to counteract the effects of these issues, these constraints will continue to drive short time uncertainty in the market.

2. Utility, commercial, and industrial demand fuels transmission investments

As of 2021, more than half of American states have instituted a renewable energy standard (RES) mandating the generation of clean energy by utility companies, and 23 of these RES plans include a specific solar or distributed generation provision. The targets set by these RES plans range from modest to aggressive, but many mandate a significant increase of renewable energy beginning in the year 2030, with several states mandating the transition to 100% renewable energy in the following decade. In addition, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers utilize more than 60% of the electricity generated in the U.S., and many of these companies have set their own aggressive renewable energy targets. For instance, the Clean Energy Buyers Association, an alliance of over 300 commercial and industrial energy buyers, recently announced a goal to create a 90% carbon-free U.S. electricity system by 2030.

Because not all energy buyers have the ability or desire to house generation facilities at the point of use, off-site, utility-scale projects are critical to the achievement of the goals set by regulators and the business community. However, the industry is becoming more and more aware that the success of these projects will require massive investments to upgrade and expand our current electricity transmission infrastructure. Although it may take as few as three years for a solar farm to move from the drawing board to commercial operation, new transmission lines can require up to a decade or more to finalize the land use agreements, regulatory, and permitting approvals. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed by President Biden in November 2021 set aside $27.65 billion for grid infrastructure, resiliency, and reliability projects. At least $50 million will be set aside to construct new transmission lines and facilities. In order for the U.S. to have any chance to achieve its renewable energy targets, meaningful progress must be made in 2022 to solve transmission capacity constraints.

Inside a Tesla electric vehicle (Courtesy: David von Diemar/Unsplash) 3. Strong electric vehicle growth

In addition to demand pressure from the C&I world, utilities will also see increasing pressure from the consumer market as Americans accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) over vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Once an industry dominated by luxury or niche vehicles produced by Tesla and Toyota, the EV market is now seeing the introduction of mass-market cars and trucks produced by Volvo, Ford, GM, and many others, resulting in over 100 different models expected to be available in 2022. While this growth has been driven in large part by consumer demands, federal policy is also fueling these changes, including an executive order signed by President Biden in August 2021 aiming for EVs to account for 50% of all new sales by 2030 and a second executive order in December 2021 mandating that the entire federal fleet transition to zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.

The availability and social acceptability of such a broad array of new EVs have led to predictions that as many as 845,000 EVs will be sold in the U.S. in 2022. This influx of EVs in 2022 and beyond is necessary for the U.S. to achieve its emissions reduction targets; however, the successful changeover will require a coordinated nationwide deployment of the nation’s charging infrastructure. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill reserved $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers, additional deployment is required in order to fuel a rapid and reliable transition to widespread EV adoption.

4. Federal policy developments

Although the IIJA took a good first step by reserving billions of dollars for the development and deployment of renewable energy assets, the true catalyst for the American transition is renewable energy will be its ability to pass the Build Back Better (BBB) Act. As currently drafted, the Act includes extensions of the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit.

Industry analyst Wood Mackenzie predicts that if passed, the BBB would spur the installation of an additional 43.5 gigawatts (GW) of additional solar capacity between 2022 and 2026, bringing total U.S. solar capacity to over 300 GW, triple the amount deployed today. Further, Wood Mackenzie predicts that passing the BBB could result in more than 77 GW of new solar being added each year by 2030, more than double the base case without passing the BBB. While consumer and commercial concerns regarding climate change and the environment ensure that the renewable energy sector will continue its rapid growth with or without the BBB, the passing of this legislation in 2022 is crucial to the nation achieving its Paris and Glasgow greenhouse gas reduction targets and to the realization of our long-term RES and EV goals.

Conclusion

Although 2021 saw an increase in barriers for the renewable energy industry, such as the rising cost of raw materials and a labor shortage, the industry is predicted to have significant growth in 2022. With legislation being passed last year in favor of electric vehicle sales, along with a mirrored consumer demand, EV sales are assumed to take off in the upcoming year and decade. In addition, the Build Back Better Act, should it be passed, will spark a three-fold increase in solar energy capacity.

About the author:

With a focus on the advanced energy industry, Moye White partner Zaki Robbins handles matters involving energy generation and storage,  as well as project investment and finance. He can be reached at Zaki.Robbins@MoyeWhite.com or 303.292.7904.

Categories: Renewable Energy

ILI Group to develop 1.5 GW pumped storage in Scotland

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2022-02-08 08:05

ILI Group said it started the initial planning phase for the 1.5 GW Balliemeanoch pumped storage hydro (PSH) project at Loch Awe, Dalmally in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

The project would supply 1.5 GW of power for up to 30 hours, enough to power 4.5 million homes. The project will create a new upper reservoir in the hills above Loch Awe capable of holding 58 million cubic metres of water when full. It is estimated the project will offset over 200 million tonnes of CO2e over its lifetime.

This is ILI’s third PSH project. Its 450 MW Red John project at Loch Ness was awarded planning consent from Scottish Ministers in June 2021, and the company plans to submit a planning application for the 600 MW Corrievarkie project at Loch Ericht in August 2022.

The broader adoption of long-duration energy storage projects such as this is seen as “essential” to the further deployment of renewable energy projects and “critical to meeting UK climate commitments,” according to a press release.

With the announcement from the Scottish Crown of new seabed leases for offshore wind and the UK Government’s planned 40 GW to come on stream by 2030, energy storage projects like Balliemeanoch become increasingly important, said Mark Wilson, chief executive officer of ILI Group in the statement. He said that long-duration energy storage–and storage greater than four hours in particular–is crucial to the UK’s net zero ambitions. Without projects such as Balliemeanoch, the renewable generation capacity in the country would soon hit a “‘Green Glass Ceiling’ whereby adding more ‘variable’ renewable generation actually threatens grid stability and security of supply in our grid network.”

ILI Group recently committed to the San Jose Declaration that was agreed by the World Hydro Congress in 2021 and presented at COP26. Wilson said the company is committed to ensuring that all its hydro projects have sustainability and environmental and social governance at their core.

Wilson said the company is awaiting the outcome of the UK Government’s Call for Evidence on long-duration storage, as having the necessary market mechanism in place will enable the current PSH pipeline of over 5 GW to be built and keep the country on target for achieving net zero. He said he believes a cap-and-floor mechanism will get all these nationally significant infrastructure projects moving.

Intelligent Land Investments Group is a development company focused on energy storage in Great Britain, and especially Scotland. ILI has been bringing a portfolio of pumped storage assets of over 2 GW and 1 GW of utility scale battery storage to development ready status.

Categories: Renewable Energy

HydrogenPro to supply Mitsubishi Power with electrolyzer systems

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2022-02-07 12:22

Mitsubishi Power inked an agreement with HydrogenPro for the delivery of 40 electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen for power generation, transportation and industrial uses.

HydrogenPro’s electrolyzers will use wind and solar energy to produce green hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The initial value of the contract exceeds $50 million, making it one of the largest electrolyzer system contracts signed to date. The EPC and other project deliverables for a turn-key electrolyzer green hydrogen production plant will be supplied by other companies, HydrogenPro said in a statement.

The purchase order hinges on a final investment decision, which is expected in the first half of 2022. However, HydrogenPro said Mitsubishi already made a nonrefundable financial commitment, allowing HydrogenPro to prepare for production.

This is not the first time Mitsubishi Power and HydrogenPro have partnered, building on their Herøya, Norway project for the electrolyzer system. That single stack system will have a capacity of 1100 normal cubic meters per hour. HydrogenPro is operating the facility.

The two parties are now scaling and validating hydrogen technology to support U.S. global decarbonization targets.

Bill Newsom, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas, said the order “shows our confidence in HydrogenPro’s electrolyzer system” due to work begun with the Norwegian project in 2021.

Categories: Renewable Energy
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