Renewable Energy News

Solar homeowners in O’ahu can receive large cash incentives for a new battery if the utility can use it

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-20 13:15
A new program in Hawaii will use battery energy storage to help firm the grid after a coal plant is retired in September 2022.

Hawaiian Electric said this week that it is now accepting applications for Battery Bonus, a new program that will pay a cash incentive for residential and commercial customers on O‘ahu to add energy storage (a battery) to an existing or new rooftop solar system.

The incentive will help move Hawai‘i toward its goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 and add more renewable resources to the grid in the short-term when the AES coal-fired plant is retired in September 2022.

The program is capped by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at a total 50 megawatts (MW) supplied from storage among all participants. Incentive payments are:

  • $850 per kilowatt (kW) for those accepted for the first 15MW. (For example, 5kW would yield a $4,250 payment.) Hawaiian Electric will confirm by checking battery data that the system is meeting its committed performance in the program for the customer to receive the full amount of incentive.
  • $750 per kW for those accepted for the next 15MW.
  • $500 per kW for those accepted for the last 20MW.

Applications will be accepted through June 23, 2023, or until the cap is reached.

Homeowners and businesses with an existing solar system enrolled in a customer energy program (such as Net Energy Metering, Customer Grid Supply or others) will continue to receive full benefits from these programs. Up to 5 kW of new panels may be added under existing programs. There is no limit on the size of an individual customer’s battery.

The total program term is 10 years. Customers who participate must use and/or export electricity stored in the battery at the contracted amount on a firm two-hour schedule specified by Hawaiian Electric between 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily (including weekends and holidays) through December 31, 2023. (Example of two-hour period: 6:05 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.) After that date, customers will have the option to transition to the program’s next phase to be defined by the PUC for the rest of the 10-year term.

“This one-time offer is an excellent opportunity for new or existing solar customers to enjoy the added benefits of home energy storage, support the grid that serves all customers and move us closer to our 100% clean energy for electricity goal by 2045,” said Yoh Kawanami, Hawaiian Electric co-director of Customer Energy Resources.

Customers must work with a solar contractor to add storage to an existing system or install a new solar-plus-storage system. Contractors will be able to help fill out forms and submit them to Hawaiian Electric. Contractors may also take advantage of Quick Connect, an existing “pre- approval” program that allows customers who meet certain requirements to install and energize their systems first and send Hawaiian Electric information on their system later.

Securing a building permit from the City & County Department of Planning and Permitting or proof of permit application is required as part of the submission and will determine the final incentive amount.

The solar-plus-storage system owner will receive the incentive. That can be the residential or commercial customer owning the system or a company leasing the system to the homeowner or business. Customers may end participation before the 10-year commitment by notifying Hawaiian Electric and repaying a prorated portion of the incentive.

The incentive payment is considered income. Hawaiian Electric will provide participants with tax forms and report information to the IRS and Hawaiʻi Department of Taxation.

Hawaiian Electric expects the Battery Bonus program to accelerate renewable energy on Oahu and is encouraging customers to apply.

For more information and updates, click here.

Categories: Renewable Energy

ScottishPower and Shell want to build large-scale floating windfarms in UK waters

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-20 08:10

ScottishPower and Shell have joined forces to bid to develop the world’s first large-scale floating offshore windfarms in the north-east of Scotland, they announced last week. The group submitted multiple proposals for new floating offshore windfarms as part of Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind Leasing, which closed for submissions on July 16.

Shell expects to use its decades of experience working offshore coupled with ScottishPower’s presence in Scotland to provide the right blend of skills and experience to successfully deliver these projects, it said in a press release.

Floating offshore wind is suitable for use in deeper water zones where fixed foundations aren’t feasible making it ideal for Scottish waters. It will become an increasingly important part of the energy mix in the UK as more and more offshore wind power is brought on to the grid to meet Net Zero targets.

“With just a few months until the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, ScotWind will help create a whole new industry in floating wind that will play a crucial role in putting the country on course for a cleaner and greener future,” said ScottishPower CEO, Keith Anderson

Shell UK Country Chair, David Bunch said that if the bid is selected, the companies are “fully committed to working with Scottish communities and businesses to help develop supply chains and expertise which could make Scotland a world leader in floating wind.” 

ScotWind Leasing is the first round of seabed leasing for offshore wind in Scottish waters in over a decade and will grant property rights for new large-scale offshore wind project development, including floating wind for the first time.

The combined ScottishPower Renewables/Iberdrola and Shell portfolio includes over 2GW of operational offshore wind, over 11GW of offshore wind in development and additionally over 700 MW of floating wind in various stages of development, according to the companies. 

Crown Estate Scotland is expected to announce the results of this round of ScotWind Leasing in early 2022.

Categories: Renewable Energy

NY transmission developer creates $270M fund for job training, education, community health and the environment

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-20 07:58

Clean Path New York today announced a $270 million fund to provide an opportunity for all New Yorkers to thrive in the new green economy. 

The fund will serve both communities near generation facilitates and those located along the 175-mile 1,300 megawatt HVDC transmission link that will deliver clean energy generated Upstate to load centers in New York City. 

 The transmission project team — a collaboration between New York Power Authority (NYPA), energyRe and Invenergy — will make $270 million in investments focused on job training, education, community health and the environment. The companies said the money will be divided as follows: 

  • $70 million to support workforce development and education programs focused on increasing minority participation in the green economy
  • $100 million in increased funding for existing workforce development, local apprenticeship and education programs currently administered by NYPA
  • $50 million investment in access to medical care and health services in disadvantaged communities 
  • $50 million in efficiency and electrification retrofits in disadvantaged communities to spur local investment, create good jobs and reduce the environmental burden existing buildings place on local communities 

The $270 million community investment fund compliments additional financial and health benefits of the project including:

  • $6.25B in social and public health costs, 49 percent of which are accrued in disadvantaged communities over 25 years 
  • $12B in ratepayer savings 
  • $1.6B in state and local tax revenue over 25 years
  • 10,500 clean energy and construction jobs exclusively to New York State

The Clean Path New York project will play a critical role in helping New York State meet the targets outlined in the state’s landmark climate legislation, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires New York’s electricity supply to be 70 percent carbon-free by 2030. The long-term ownership of the transmission line will transfer ownership to NYPA, continuing to benefit New Yorkers for generations to come. 

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“Developing a clean energy future is not only essential in the fight against climate change, it is also an economic opportunity that should directly benefit New Yorkers,” said Jeff Blau, Founding Partner of energyRe. “We’re proud to initiate an investment fund to compliment a public infrastructure project that will create a more environmentally just New York and employ thousands of New Yorkers in the process.”

Categories: Renewable Energy

Sustainable infrastructure developer, Generate Capital, raises $2B

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-20 06:50

Generate, a sustainable infrastructure company, yesterday announced it has raised $2 billion in corporate equity from institutional investors to accelerate the deployment of sustainable infrastructure. Existing investors AustralianSuper and QIC led the fundraising round with new investment from Harbert Management Corporation, Aware Super, and CBRE Caledon.

Generate said the fundraising tapped many of the world’s largest long-term oriented pension funds and institutional investors from Australia, the U.S., and Europe, including additional commitments from existing investors AP2 of Sweden, Railways Pension of the UK and The Wellcome Trust.

The company, which says it is now the most well-capitalized sustainability-focused enterprises in the world, builds, owns, operates and finances sustainable infrastructure for companies, governments and communities.

Since 2014, Generate has built a portfolio of about $2 billion in sustainable infrastructure assets across the energy, waste, water and transport markets, deploying solutions that redue greenhouse gas emissions and improve resource efficiency, it said in a press release. The company works with more than 40 technology and project development partners, manages more than 2000 assets and has more than 1,000 customers, including companies, universities, school districts, cities and non-profits across North America.

The company attributes part of its success to its Infrastructure-as-a-Service model, which means customers don’t need to make large capital commitments to meet their sustainability goals. Because Generate manages infrastructure assets, customers don’t have to take that financial and operational risk, a key barriers to adoption of decarbonization and resource efficiency solutions.

Generate’s holding company structure allows project developers and technology companies pioneering the Infrastructure Revolution have access to any and all types of financing and help needed to rebuild the world, according to the company. The company recently launched its Generate Credit unit dedicated to creating more credit solutions for green projects and companies, and geographic expansion beyond North America is also underway.

The asset base the company owns, operates and finances includes renewable power, community solar, energy efficiency, microgrids, energy storage, electric mobility, hydrogen, wastewater, and waste management. Generate’s projects create thousands of jobs across communities and the infrastructure assets already on its balance sheet are expected to prevent over 43 million metric tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere over the course of their operating lives.

Categories: Renewable Energy

An idea to clear out the SPP interconnection queue backlog to reduce renewable PPA costs

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-07-19 07:33

Clearing the current queue backlog is the focus of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) generator interconnection staff. However, they are missing a key long-term solution to address the root cause of backlog, identifying network upgrade costs for developers.

Indeed, renewable energy (RE) developers could check if alternatives to network upgrades exist if these developers have study results in hand.

SPP staff should run multiple Definitive Interconnection System Impact Study (DISIS) study cycle models to identify the portfolio of network upgrades. That study would indicate possible costs for developers. As a result, they would then choose to stay in the queue or drop out. If RE developers default in PPAs due to SPP queue delays, that ultimately would increase the cost of the renewable projects.

SPP queue stats and background

SPP has 100 GWs of capacity of renewable energy projects in its backlog. These are from 533 interconnection customer (IC) requests. Unlike PJM, SPP is focused solely on clearing out the generator interconnection queue backlog. SPP’s generator queue backlog is not higher in volume than PJM’s 2000 projects and 200 GWs backlog.

Similar to PJM, SPP must seek multiple stakeholder committee approvals before FERC tariff filing. In SPP’s case, the Markets and Operations Policy Committee (MOPC) is the top committee that must review and approve the SPP stakeholder’s perspective.

SPP’s recent reforms

SPP’s lower stakeholder committee, Strategic & Creative Re-Engineering of Integrated Planning Team (SCRIPT), recently approved unanimously 3 strategies to reduce their current backlog. These include

  • 1) reducing restudying by increased site control requirements and non-refundable DISIS study deposits,
  • 2) increasing financial commitments from $2,000/MW to $4,000/MW, and making 25% of financial security “at-risk” payments after the start of phase 1 and end of decision point 1, and
  • 3) streamlining DISIS study cycles by combining 2018 and 2019 and other study improvements.
So, what is missing?

None of the SPP SCRIPT changes address the core problem in the generator interconnection queue backlog – network upgrade cost estimates. If ICs know the transmission upgrade cost of interconnecting their solar project at the point of interconnection, they would be prepared to stay in the queue or drop out after submitting their request. But those upgrade costs are not unknown until SPP staff runs the model. And when ICs drop out, SPP must restudy.

The only way to avoid this would be for SPP staff to indicate potential transmission upgrade costs for each DISIS cycle.

What are the possible solutions?

I see at least 2 possible solutions in the interim for projects already in the queue waiting for SPP’s DISIS study results.

The first possible solution is IC having the option to trigger a study on their own to evaluate alternative Grid Enhancing Technologies (GETs) such as SmartValves or Dynamic Line Ratings (DLRs). That option would provide SPP staff and the Transmission Owner (TO) data on the possible options for the IC without dropping from the queue because the alternative is that a SPP study result shows a need for more than $10 million upgrade costs, which typically leads to the customer dropping out.

Related:
It’s time to use accurate line ratings
Wanted – creative transmission owners willing to try alternatives to network upgrades!

Running a study with all the projects in the queue to identify network upgrades for each DISIS cycle

The second possible solution is to avoid this need for multiple DISIS restudies and reduce the SPP and TO back and forth with the IC for study results.

What if SPP staff did proactive generator interconnection planning by studying all the network upgrades needed to accommodate DISIS 2018 cycle? This list of network upgrades needed to accommodate one interconnection cycle is the “portfolio of projects,” and their combined interconnection costs provide ICs an overall range for what could be their cost estimate.

Running an iterative process, SPP staff could perform a similar analysis for DISIS 2019 cycle. And similarly, for DISIS 2020 cycle. Knowing what the needed network upgrades and their overall costs are is crucial for the ICs. Then, the customers would be able to choose to either stay in the queue or drop out much sooner than the current practice, clearing the SPP staff workload. Additionally, this approach would provide TOs the data on what transmission projects would be needed in the long term to accommodate multiple generator requests.

Why is it important to know common network upgrades that apply to multiple DISIS cycles?

If SPP or PJM staff follow their normal queue cycles, renewable developers could be missing the In-Service Date (ISD) for their Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Once PPAs are in default, that has a downstream impact of increasing the costs of entering into future PPAs due to legal costs from tighter default controls and consolidation of RE developers who can afford those legal costs.

Lack of a diverse RE developer supplier pool means higher RE project costs to ratepayers. All this is avoidable at SPP, where the queue volumes are not as high as PJM’s! If SPP planning staff were to simply run combined DISIS cycle studies to determine the overall network upgrade portfolio, many problems could be avoided.

Shaking the queue backlog tree takes multiple paths. None shakes the tree stronger than providing what the RE developers need first and foremost – a network upgrade cost estimate. This idea of a common network upgrade identification for multiple DISIS studies would provide that desired data for ICs.

High hopes for MISO SPP joint interconnection study

A joint MISO SPP interconnection study underway could serve as a template for future MISO and PJM joint interconnection studies and other joint RTO studies. Stakeholders expect that MISO and SPP generator interconnection staff will identify the common network upgrades on their “seam.” The truth of the matter is Affected Systems studies are dragging the interconnection study timelines.

Developers could miss ISDs when their project has an impact on neighboring RTO’s transmission system. That coordination is not seamless yet because RTO-RTO coordinate first, then the RTO-TO coordinates. Unless developers are proactive, studies that impact multiple RTOs take even more time than regular DISIS studies in SPP or Definitive Planning Phase (DPP) studies in MISO.

Does SPP have staff to keep both FERC and interconnection customers happy?

The bottom line is that RTOs have limited interconnection engineers. RTOs must continue to plan for the transmission system while processing IC requests. Hiring more interconnection engineers is possible, but that takes time, as evidenced by recent PJM interconnection staff turnover. As soon as RTO engineers develop expertise, they get hired away by reputable renewable developers.

Conclusions

There is no grand solution that solves RTO interconnection queue backlogs in an instant. SPP RTO staff are right to focus on the existing queue backlog. However, they are missing the crucial piece of data that RE developers need regarding network upgrade costs.

Allowing ICs to find if GETs are a viable alternative to network upgrades for projects with the study results and identifying the portfolio of network upgrades needed for multiple DISIS cycles would help shake the queue backlog tree more. If that were implemented then only the ICs who could pay those network grades would stay in the queue. That reduces the overall cost of RE projects in the long term; otherwise, if RE developer’s default in their PPAs because they cannot meet the in-service dates, nobody wins. Also, SPP staff workload frees up for FERC tariff and other transmission planning work.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Report: 30M solar homes would create 1.77M jobs, $69B in energy savings

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-07-19 06:50

Our new report finds that installing rooftop solar panels and community solar systems to serve the equivalent of 30 million American homes would create significant economic benefits — including 1.77 million jobs and $69 billion electricity bill savings over the next five years — while addressing the climate crisis and historic inequities.

The report, “The National Impact of 30 Million Solar Homes: A Vision for an Equitable Economic Recovery Built on Climate Protection and Energy Democracy,” builds on federal policy recommendations developed by the Initiative for Energy Justice, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Solar United Neighbors as part of the 30 Million Solar Homes campaign.

In addition to creating 1.77 million new solar jobs and reducing energy bills by $69 billion, the report found that enacting the 30 Million Solar Homes policies would over five years:

  • Eliminate global warming air pollution equivalent to closing 48 coal-burning power plants or taking 42 million cars off the road for a year.
  • Increase new solar capacity nationally by 151 GW.
  • Power the equivalent of 20 million households in marginalized communities with local solar.

In the report, these economic and environmental benefits are broken down by state and congressional district. An interactive map further illustrates the local impacts of the 30 Million Solar Homes proposal and gives viewers an opportunity to share the report with their elected officials.

There is already broad-based support for this campaign. More than 330 energy equity, climate, business, environmental, faith, and public health organizations signed a letter to Congress urging the adoption of the 30 Million Solar Homes federal policy recommendations. These recommendations include expanding solar access through low-income energy assistance, making federal solar energy tax credits more equitable, and supporting federal financing and grant programs for local solar deployment. A majority of the federal investments would benefit historically marginalized communities, including environmental justice communities and low- and moderate-income communities.

The report, the interactive map, and other resources are also available on the 30 Million Solar Homes campaign website.

This article was originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

Categories: Renewable Energy

45-MW Ventus wind project in El Salvador’s reaches commercial operation

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-07-19 05:23

El Salvador’s first wind farm, the 54-MW Ventus Wind Project, has been commissioned by Guatemalan power developer Tracia Network Corporation.

Located in Metapán, the wind farm comprises 15 Vestas V136-3.6 turbines and was designed to help reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, provide greater stability in the price of energy and diversify the national energy power grid.

Tracia Network Corp. was supported by ArcVera Renewables’ mesoscale modelling technique in early project stages to define and optimize wind power output.

For this project, ArcVera pioneered the use of very high-resolution (on the turbine-to-turbine spacing scale) microscale/mesoscale modeling that is more commonly used for atmospheric science research and weather forecasting.

According to ArcVera, this modeling produces more accurate hub-height wind flow patterns using supercomputers and other proprietary techniques to render high-resolution, three-dimensional, time-series modeling of the winds and weather where wind turbines perform.

The results optimize meteorological measurement locations before deployment and at early project stages accurately informs wind turbine array design and energy estimation. The modeling results can also be applied through financing and later operational performance assessments.

“The results of the ArcVera team enabled us to identify a better location, played a crucial role and input to win an auction, secure another 150 basis points of capacity factor for the Ventus project, and on a general note we felt the safety of solid calculations and projections that enabled us to execute different development steps in this pioneering project,” said Paul Wagner, Project Manager at Ventus.

Greg Poulos, ArcVera Renewables CEO and Principal Atmospheric Scientist, said: “At critical development stages where decisions need to be made, the results trumped the CFD results provided by the wind turbine supplier, ArcVera then fine-tuned those results with actual site visits where it finalized the precise location of turbine positions and delivery of the project’s finance-ready energy report.”

Categories: Renewable Energy

DOE announces goal to cut costs of long-duration energy storage by 90%

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-07-16 05:25

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) goal to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long-duration energy storage (of which pumped storage hydro is the largest source) by 90% within the decade.

The second target within DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiative, “Long Duration Storage Shot” sets goals to accelerate breakthroughs that store clean electricity to make it available anytime, anywhere and support more abundant, affordable and reliable clean energy solutions. 

“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” said Granholm. “That’s why DOE is working aggressively toward cheaper, longer duration energy storage to reach President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. This new initiative will create new manufacturing jobs right here at home and make sure clean, reliable, affordable electricity is available to everyone, including Americans living in remote and underserved communities.”

Long-duration energy storage – defined as systems that can store energy for more than 10 hours at a time – would support a low-cost, reliable, carbon-free electric grid. Cheaper and more efficient storage will make it easier to capture and store clean energy for use when energy generation is unavailable or lower than demand – for instance, so solar-generated power can be used at night.

Developing the technology and manufacturing to reach the Long Duration Storage Shot cost targets will also establish a new, U.S.-based manufacturing industry and union jobs for storage products, DOE said. And energy storage can increase local control of the power system and build resilience for communities, including by minimizing power grid disruptions.

“Energy storage technology holds great promise in the fight against climate change. Strengthening current technology and advancing next-generation energy storage will allow us to integrate more renewables, such as wind and solar, which in turn will help to reduce emissions,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “That’s why I authored the Better Energy Storage Technology Act, which seeks to align U.S. research efforts to promote advancements in energy storage technologies. It is exciting to see the Department of Energy begin implementing this new law through this initiative to substantially reduce the cost of energy storage technologies, improve the efficiency of our nation’s electricity grid, and bring us closer to a clean energy future.”

The Long Duration Storage Shot will consider all types of technologies –electrochemical, mechanical, thermal, chemical carriers, or any combination that has the potential to meet the necessary duration and cost targets for grid flexibility. Pumped-storage hydropower is the largest source of long-duration energy storage on the grid, and lithium ion is the primary source of new energy storage technology deployed on the grid in the U.S., providing shorter duration storage capabilities.

DOE developed the Long Duration Storage Shot target through its Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) and stakeholder engagement activities and input from subject matter experts.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Can the US transmission planning process support a renewable energy future? FERC seeks comments

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-07-16 00:49

Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) related to transmission reform. The ANOPR, titled Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection, recognizes that the electricity system is changing with the addition of more and more renewable energy provided by intermittent sources of fuel like wind and solar. The new energy mix creates a need for expanded transmission and FERC wants to understand if its existing approach to transmission planning, cost allocation and interconnection is still relevant.

To that end, FERC is seeking comments on a more forward-looking approach to how we build and allocate the cost of transmission infrastructure in this country. It invites the public to comment on potential reforms to improve transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes as the nation transitions to a cleaner energy future.

“As the generation fleet shifts at an unprecedented rate from resources located closer to population centers towards resources located far from load centers, we must evaluate whether our transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes require a more innovative and anticipatory approach,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said.

“A piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”

Three areas of focus

The Commission is seeking public comment on potential reforms in three specific areas:

  • reforms for longer-term regional transmission planning and cost-allocation processes that take into account anticipated future generation,
  • rethinking cost responsibility for regional transmission facilities and interconnection-related network upgrades, and
  • enhanced transmission oversight over how new transmission facilities are identified and paid for.

Learn more about the ANOPR here. Comments, identified by Docket No. RM21-17, are due 75 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 105 days after publication in the Federal Register.

“Today’s action is a critical first step in ensuring that FERC is thinking innovatively and actually anticipating transmission that will meet the needs of new generation as our nation continues to aggressively transition to a clean energy future,” Chairman Glick said. “This is the Commission’s first effort at major transmission reform in a decade and I look forward to moving as expeditiously as possible to advance these conversations.”

Clean Energy Industry Responds

The Solar Energy Industries Assocation recognizes that this ANOPR is the first time in a decade that FERC has started to address transmission reform, which could level the playing field and improve market access for solar and storage assets.

Gizelle Wray, director of regulatory affairs and counsel for SEIA believes the move is encouraging and could help  “overcome utility-imposed market challenges that have hampered clean energy development across the United States,” she said in a statement.

“We need to quickly ramp up solar and storage deployment to address climate change and generate new economic opportunities, but the interconnection rules today allow utilities to put clean energy projects to the side and leave them in the interconnection queue for years. We cannot have projects in a perpetual waiting room when we need to deploy hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy over the next 10 years.

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) also welcomes the news.

“We commend FERC, and in particular the leadership of Chairman Glick, for recognizing the role that planning, cost allocation and interconnection processes all play in achieving this critical objective,” he said in a statement. “As FERC starts tackling regional issues, we look forward to future Commission action on interregional processes necessary to connect centers of high renewable resources with centers of high electric demand. Finally, we encourage President Biden to expeditiously nominate a fifth FERC commissioner to ensure the continuity and progress of the Commission’s important work.”

Categories: Renewable Energy

Plug Power partnering with wind developer on PPA to energize green hydrogen production

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2021-07-15 08:59

Fuel cell technology firm Plug Power and Apex Clean Energy are partnering on a 345-MW wind power purchase agreement and development of a green hydrogen facility driven by the zero-carbon electricity.

The 100-percent renewable energy PPA will supply a new hydrogen production plant being co-developed by Plug Power and Apex. Once operational, the hydrogen plant could produce more than 30 metric tons per day of carbon-free, liquid hydrogen—enough to fuel 1,000 heavy duty trucks and twice that many light commercial vehicles.

“As leaders building the hydrogen economy, we are on track to build a first-of-its-kind green hydrogen generation network in North America alongside an experienced partner, Apex,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “This wind-powered green hydrogen plant is important to Plug Power’s customers and to achieving our generation targets of 500 tons per day by 2025 and 1,000 tons per day before 2028.”

Because both projects are still in early-stage development, the location is still confidential. The companies expect both the wind facility and the hydrogen plant to begin operating in 2023 or earlier.

Apex Clean Energy is a developer and builder of solar, energy storage and wind power projects, and says this is the company’s largest PPA to date.

Plug Power has delivered more than 40,000 fuel-cell projects for e-mobility globally.

— — — — —

Plug Power led a session on hydrogen infrastructure in the June series of the online POWERGEN+. See all sessions free on demand and register for August’s series on Decentralization and the New Energy Mix.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Borrego to build 6.7-MW community solar array in Maine

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2021-07-15 06:37

CleanCapital announced today that it has partnered with EPC and O&M provider Borrego to construct a 6.7-MW distributed generation solar project in Maine. The project will benefit from Maine’s Net Energy Billing (NEB) kWh Program and will sell power to residential off-takers at a fixed discount to the prevailing utility rate for a 20-year term. CleanCapital will provide financing for the project, which is expected to reach commercial operation in 2022.

“We are excited to be partnering for the first time with Borrego to make renewable energy more accessible to homeowners in Maine,” said Julia Bell, Head of Projects at CleanCapital. “This latest investment—our fourth since announcing a $300 million commitment from Manulife in April—demonstrates CleanCapital’s commitment to advancing the rapid transition of the energy grid.”

“Borrego is partnering with CleanCapital to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. Together we’re providing homeowners in Maine the opportunity to create a clean energy future by buying their power from a community solar project” said Brendan Neagle, executive vice president of project finance at Borrego. “We’re eager to build our relationship with CleanCapital through this project and plan to continue our partnership into the future.”

CleanCapital’s cumulative acquisitions now total more than $850 million. This is CleanCapital’s first project in Maine, expanding the company’s total acquisitions to more than 230 MW in 19 states.

CleanCapital engaged Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pierce Atwood as Buyer’s counsel on this transaction.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Clean Energy Group announces retirement of Lewis Milford as President; Seth Mullendore named successor

Renewable Energy - Thu, 2021-07-15 06:27

Clean Energy Group (CEG), a national nonprofit that works on clean energy and climate, announced the retirement of Lewis Milford, its founder and president. His retirement will become effective on December 31, 2021.

Lew Milford founded CEG in 1998, after working over several years on clean energy and utility restructuring dockets in New England while with the Conservation Law Foundation. With CEG, Milford focused on how state and communities could develop sound renewable energy policies, programs, and finance tools. At that time, very few groups were working on state-level and community-based strategies to advance clean energy. CEG also worked with federal agencies and international agencies to find policy solutions to combat climate change. In his work, Milford applied principles of disruptive technology innovation to clean energy markets, assisted by the late Professor at Harvard Business School Clay Christensen, an early mentor. CEG has worked on technology innovation from fuel cells to offshore wind, to energy storage and advancing energy equity over the past two decades.

Not long after starting CEG, Milford initiated a multi-state project to work with new clean energy development funds that states had begun to create around the country – so-called public benefit funds. That effort led to the creation of another national nonprofit in 2002, the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). Managed and staffed by CEG, CESA now works with states on solar access, offshore wind, energy storage, building electrification, and 100% clean energy goals.

Among the accomplishments of these organizations over the last 20 plus years was an early focus to bring new clean energy technologies to underserved communities. Milford created CEG’s Resilient Power Project in 2013 after Superstorm Sandy, to ensure that frontline communities and climate-vulnerable populations had access to new technologies like solar and battery storage, which can provide power during blackouts. Much of that work now informs national and state policy on energy resiliency in low-income communities and communities of color, including strategies to replace polluting peaker power plants with renewables and energy storage.

Recently, Milford has spearheaded CEG’s efforts to raise concerns about the industry rush to burn hydrogen in power plants, which can create harmful levels of nitrogen oxide in environmental justice communities.

“To call Lew Milford a ‘visionary’ doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the work Lew has undertaken for CEG, for the environment, and the future of resiliency,” said CEG Board Chair Brian F. Keane, President of SmartPower. “Lew’s relentless drive and determination and his dedication and sense of purpose have made CEG one of the premier clean energy organizations of our time. But Lew’s intellect, his honesty, and, perhaps most importantly of all, his humanity, have made him one of the greatest environmental leaders of his generation.”

Milford’s work with CEG and CESA came after 25 years working in the public interest as an attorney and advocate. After graduation from Georgetown Law, he first worked for the federal government to enforce civil rights laws among government contractors.

Then, he had the good fortune to be hired on the faculty of American University Law School as director of its first Public Interest Law Clinic. The program was a joint project of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Services Corporation. He represented Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange, to help them obtain compensation and health care for their service-related injuries, including cancer and birth defects in their children—a tragedy that still plays out today. After filing numerous lawsuits against the federal government, the process of obtaining federal care and compensation for these veterans began with his work.

Milford also represented older veterans needlessly exposed to radiation at the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in World War II and at the Nevada test site in the 1950s. He won a federal court case to require better VA compensation rules for their extensive radiation-related injuries, but after an oral argument before Robert Bork and Antonio Scalia, then both federal appeals court judges in DC, they reversed the victory below—the worst loss of his legal career.

During that time, he and a New York Times reporter wrote a book Wages of War, a social history of America’s treatment of its war veterans from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.

After his veterans’ work, Milford served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York working on the Love Canal hazardous waste case. His work on the legal team led to the recovery of almost a half-billion dollars in state funds from the responsible chemical companies. This fund allowed families to relocate away from the hazardous waste site where chemical companies had dumped carcinogenic chemicals—land that these companies had sold to the community as a site for a new school.

After a short stint in private law practice in his home state of New Jersey, he returned to public interest work. For ten years into the late 1990s, Milford was a project director and then Vice President at Conservation Law Foundation, focused mainly on energy as part of the team that negotiated the restructuring of the electric power industry in New England. He also brought numerous federal lawsuits and other actions in Vermont to protect forests, to stop hazardous medical incinerators, preserve precious waterways, and to force the utilities to invest in efficiency and renewable energy.

Milford leaves a strong, diverse, and experienced team in place at CEG to lead the organization forward. Seth Mullendore, CEG’s vice-president, has been named as the new Executive Director of CEG, effective January 1st. CEG is planning to announce a new deputy director in late summer; more information on the new management team and the direction of the organization will be announced then.

Over the years, CEG and Milford’s work have received tremendous support from key foundations, including Barr Foundation, Energy Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Jane’s Trust, John Merck Fund, JPB Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York Community Trust, Oak Foundation, Park Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Surdna Foundation, among many others. Milford is thankful for their support and partnership.

He looks forward to a retirement filled with new possibilities.

Categories: Renewable Energy

The second wave of renewables is here. What did we learn with the first?

Renewable Energy - Wed, 2021-07-14 03:49

Billions of dollars of investment flowing into renewable energy. A President pushing for solutions to combat climate change. Innovative technologies challenging the status quo. This is all very current, but it’s also exactly what happened in the first wave of renewables during the Obama administrations. For companies seeking success today in what’s shaping up to be the even bigger second wave of renewables, it’s wise to consider the lessons of the first wave. And take into account a host of new considerations that are making today’s opportunities unique in the history of energy.

I’m basing these observations on first hand experience in both periods, having worked with companies like First Wind and Deepwater Wind in wave one, and Greentown Labs and numerous startups in wave two.

Lessons from wave one.

How did ‘alternative’ energy like wind become mainstream? In 2007, wind energy was about as welcome in America as alien spacecraft, with all kinds of objections blocking project approval.

First Wind and others managed to speed adoption not because they had superior technology, but because they found a better story that appealed to communities considering wind farm development. Market research showed that what small town community leaders really cared about were economic benefits, versus saving the environment.

First Wind changed their story to “Clean energy. Made here” with a major focus on “energizing local economies.” Thanks to increased business activity plus ongoing wind farm revenue, some communities were able to cut their citizens’ tax burden in half (or better). When people realized wind farms would pay for their new fire truck or school, approving projects became a no-brainer.

To connect with consumers and get a green light, the key to success—in any era—is simply putting yourself in customers’ shoes. What do they care about? What are their pain points? How do you take away their pain, enrich their lives, and make them happy? Within five seconds of looking at your website, a customer should know who you are and why they should care. Anything else is extraneous.

Within five seconds of looking at your website, a customer should know who you are and why they should care. Anything else is extraneous.

Deepwater Wind, an offshore wind developer, had a similar challenge but with a very different audience. Instead of small rural communities with lower incomes, their audience (the people who had to say ‘yes’ to development) was wealthy coastal residents. Research showed that what they cared about was protecting their ocean views. All the talk of combatting climate change with clean energy fell on deaf ears. After all, even liberal icons like Ted Kennedy objected to the offshore project that had gotten all the press attention — Cape Wind.

Technology mattered to Deepwater Wind, but not for the reason that ultimately mattered most.

Deepwater Wind’s offshore wind turbine foundations had been proven in deep water for oil drilling in Europe. Turbines located farther offshore could harness more powerful ocean winds, so there was more energy to sell and more money to be made. But this would be a mute point if projects were never approved. First, they had to address the visual impact issue head on.

Deepwater Wind won their bid for the test project off Block Island over numerous competitors by telling a better story: “Clean energy is just over the horizon.” Translation:  Our turbines will be so far from shore you won’t see them.

Then, as now, it’s important for companies to not assume that the world will rush to their door because they have invented the better mousetrap of energy. In fact, the more amazing and novel a technology is in 2021, the more consumers may not understand it at all. People will reject what they can’t readily understand and appreciate.

For example, electric vehicles (EVs) are not taking off as quickly as hoped. Range anxiety is often mentioned as a major reason consumers are hesitant to make the EV leap,1 but I suspect there is another big factor that’s being overlooked. People are just very, very used to doing things the same old way. There’s a comfort factor in driving the same kind of gas-powered vehicle we grew up with. We certainly need more EV charging infrastructure, but we also need a new story for EVs that makes them seem less alien to consumers.   

Here’s one way to do this, with a deceptively simple concept: Fill up at home.  Batteries are the new gas tank and you don’t have to schlep to a gas/energy station to get your fuel. Most people won’t even need a remote EV charging station to do their daily commute.

Technology integration and the birth of the orchestral cleantech story.

Companies can accelerate their success today by demonstrating that their technology is part of a larger, more integrated and inspiring solution.

Everyone fawns over Elon Musk and Tesla. But why? Tesla makes very cool cars, but so do other manufacturers these days.

Elon Musk stands out because he never says he’s in the car business; he’s in the business of sustainable transportation. But his real vision is actually much larger than that. Musk has painted a vivid picture with multiple pieces that fit together to make something far greater than the sum of its parts. His solar panels generate clean power. His batteries store it. His vehicles run on it.

But wait, there’s more! Musk believes humanity is destined to be an interplanetary species, with SpaceX ready to take us to new worlds.

Translation: Little companies like Ford sell cars. Elon Musk has a whole system that’s interconnected in a beautiful way. We’re buying a story that’s orchestral in nature, not a lone piccolo piping about renewables, but the Beethoven’s 9th of modern industry.

Any company engaged in reducing its carbon emissions knows that no single product is going to solve the problem. A whole plethora of technologies—including many yet to be invented—will be required. And these technologies will need to work together. Fifteen years ago a company could sell clean energy in a relative silo. To gain maximum success today, clean energy needs to be tied not just to battery storage but also to other solutions that add to its value.

As just one example, topology optimization technology offered by companies like NewGrid makes it easier for grid operators to integrate renewables while avoiding grid bottlenecks and enhancing reliability. In other words, don’t just sell clean power. Sell reliable clean power.

Welcome to the “show me” era of climatetech.

The renewable energy landscape is strewn with the wreckage of false starts and bogus promises. With each promise that doesn’t pan out, consumers and policymakers get more jaded and less likely to believe in the new solutions that actually work. (I want a carbon-neutral hydrogen-powered personal jet as much as the next guy, but I’m not holding my breath). Today’s brands can benefit from being honest, transparent and grounded in reality. The mantra should be “under promise, over deliver.” If you’re launching God’s gift to clean energy, don’t talk about it. Show me.

If you’re launching God’s gift to clean energy, don’t talk about it. Show me.

The “de-risking” of energy.

In the first wave of renewables, the very terminology for them at that time—i.e. “alternative” energy—implied an element of fringe newness, and hence more risk.

Today, the tables have turned. Large institutional investors see carbon-intensive fossil fuels as a far greater long-term risk than wind, solar and other climatetech innovations. When they put billions into an offshore wind farm, they can be 100% sure there won’t be a wind spill they’ll get sued for in 2037.

Climatetech startups can ride this wave by framing their solution as less risky, more safe, and hence more future-proof. This will appeal not only to big investors, but to consumers as well.

Conclusion

The second wave of renewables will likely be bigger and more consequential than the first. Mankind has successfully outsourced the burning of fuel to the sun, which has made renewables the cheapest source of power on Earth. The combined investments from both the private sector and the Federal government may dwarf the cash infusion we saw in wave one. And many corporations are listening to their customers and taking action now to lower their carbon pollution, with big tech leading the way.

For things to click into place, however, we’ll need new stories that resonate with people, making novel technologies relatable. And to do that we have to focus on customers and what really matters to them. If this sounds old fashioned, that’s because it is. But it’s more important than ever.

Source

1 Forbes Wheels/J.D. Power Survey

Categories: Renewable Energy

Lithium isn’t needed for trains and buses

Renewable Energy - Wed, 2021-07-14 03:32

If the 19th century was the age of coal and the 20th the age of oil, the 21st century is starting to look like the age of lithium. A metal so soft it can be cut with a steel knife and for years known for its role treating bipolar disorder, lithium has quietly become the most important metal for several important industries — electronics, electric vehicles and renewable energy — because of its importance to energy storage. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are now in everything, but have become indispensable to efforts to fight climate change.

Because renewable energy is often generated at different times from when demand is greatest, storage is a necessity (conventional plants can increase power output to meet demand, up to a point) and most of the time, this means lithium batteries. Similarly, electric vehicles use lithium batteries, helping to decarbonize transportation tailpipe emissions. Currently, most EVs are high end, luxury cars, but in the future it’s likely that trucks, police cars, firetrucks, ambulances and even some military vehicles will be battery-electric. Manufacturers are already experimenting with battery electric aircraft in a bid to reduce emissions from that sector. Meanwhile the multibillion dollar electronics industry continues to rely on lithium batteries.

But despite its relative abundance in the Earth’s crust, commercially exploitable lithium is relatively rare. Around 75 percent is believed to be in salt flats in South America. Interest is also growing in spodumene, a lithium-bearing mineral more widely distributed around the world, and extracting it from sea water. But the demand for lithium is only expected to grow. To make things complicated, rising tensions between the United States, its allies and China, as well as a desire for the former to support domestic industry, are expected to lead to increased competition for lithium supplies. In 2018, the United States Department of the Interior included lithium on a list of strategic minerals and the Biden Administration permitted a mining project to go forward over the opposition from environmental and Native American groups.

Moreover, mining lithium is quite environmentally destructive. In South America, lithium concentrations are mixed with water to form a brine and evaporated in great ponds. It produces the lithium needed for batteries, but consumes water in an already dry part of the world. The other major way of producing lithium, mining spodumene, also harms the environment. 

So the question remains, with such an important resource, why are we intent on wasting it on buses and trains. Many transit agencies are investing in battery electric vehicles as a quick and easy way to reduce carbon emissions. But buses and trains don’t need batteries to be electric, they can be run off catenary wires overhead. Not only does this mean that the vehicles don’t need batteries, the batteries are heavy and take up a lot of space, so the vehicles end up lighter and have better acceleration. This makes them faster and capable of carrying more people.

While building overhead wires can be expensive, they are other worthwhile investments for greening public transport than “sexy” battery electric buses and trains for several reasons. In addition to reducing the demand for strategic minerals like lithium, they use an existing, mature, proven technology — catenary systems were invented in the late 19th century — and as such their performance and capabilities at both high and low temperatures are known, unlike battery powered buses, which have suffered from problems with cold weather. 

Lastly, we should consider if it’s even a good idea to replace all gas and diesel powered cars with electric ones. Jevons’ Law suggests that even if we were to develop batteries that used less lithium, the price would decrease and demand would rise until we went back to needing more. Cars represent one of the biggest potential markets for lithium batteries, but emissions from engines are only one externality. An electric car can still kill children, walkers and cyclists with ease, still drives on tires made from oil, over roads made from oil, must be parked in a lot made from oil. Investing in public transportation and high density housing in cities would allow those parking lots and roads to be reduced in size or eliminated altogether. People would be safer, parks could be built to mitigate the urban heat island effect and the need to consume vast acreages of farmland or wilderness for new subdivisions and highways. 

Let us take only the lithium we absolutely need and avoid the mistakes of the last century.

Categories: Renewable Energy

HydroLand acquires two North Carolina hydroelectric facilities

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-13 08:20

HydroLand has acquired two small run-of-river hydroelectric facilities from Northbrook Carolina Hydro II LLC: 980-kW Bryson Hydroelectric Project and 1.04-MW Franklin Hydroelectric Project.

Since our acquisition of the Enel portfolio, we have been executing our plan to modernize and upgrade acquired hydroelectric facilities while building our portfolio with new acquisitions,” said Cory Lagerstrom, chief executive officer of HydroLand. “These two North Carolina facilities are excellent additions to our hydro-upgrading program. We are excited about what we are building and look forward to sharing more as we grow.”

The two facilities previously were owned by Duke Energy Corp and have undergone major upgrades.

The Bryson facility is located on Lake Ela on the Oconaluftee River in Swain County, N.C. The facility was constructed in 1924. Under Duke’s ownership, investments totaled about $6.5 million in capital since receiving its 30-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license in 2011. Notable major repairs and replacements include new turbine runners, new spillway tainter gates with gate house, new turbine generator controls, upgraded turbine governors, new trashracks, upgraded hydraulic power units (HPU), new breakers and relays, and both GE generators have been rewound since the early 1990s. Bryson is subject to a FERC hydropower license issued in July 2011 for 30 years, expiring on June 30, 2041.

The Franklin facility on the Little Tennessee River at Lake Emory in Macon County, N.C., was constructed in 1925. The expected capacity factor is 50%, generating 4,582 MWh per year. The facility is deemed low hazard by FERC. Since relicensing in 2011, Duke invested about $10 million in capital to replace the six tainter gates, gate hoists, relays, wicket gates, HPUs, generator field poles, headgates, trash racks, powerhouse crane, unit governors, and unit programmable logic controllers. Major maintenance improvements include new electrical wiring, new roll up doors, upgraded emergency generators and compressors, new windows, new metering, and a new log boom.

FERC conducted the last dam safety inspection on July 5, 2016, and did not document any conditions that would adversely affect the safety and performance of the project works. Franklin is subject to a FERC hydropower license issued in September 2011 for 30 years, expiring on August 31, 2041.

HydroLand said that the age (some are 70 years old) and small size of run-of-river hydroelectric plants provide the opportunity to dramatically improve their power generating capacity and efficiency. Through a disciplined engineering and environmentally friendly approach, HydroLand is restoring and improving these facilities to deliver modern, state-of-the-art electric generation for the grid.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Massive 50-GW wind, solar, hydrogen power plant with unique ownership model announced in Australia

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-13 07:57

An international consortium made up of InterContinental Energy, CWP Global and Mirning Green Energy Limited, announced today an integrated green fuels mega project in the South-East of Western Australia.

When fully operational, the Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) could produce up to 50 gigawatts of hybrid wind and solar power over 15,000-square-kilometres in South-East Western Australia, across the Shires of Dundas and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The region provides an optimal diurnal profile for renewable energy, with consistently high levels of wind and solar energy over a 24-hour period said the consortium in a press release.

The project will be built in phases to produce up to 3.5 million tons of zero-carbon green hydrogen or 20 million tons of green ammonia each year, which will be provided domestically and exported internationally as the green fuels market continues to expand post- 2030.

The group adds that the project will deliver socio-economic benefits to the local community, as well as provide a huge boost to the Western Australia State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy and the Commonwealth Government of Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy. Green fuels produced at the site could help meet future demand from multiple sectors, including in co- firing in power generation, the shipping sector, heavy industry such as steel, chemicals and mining, as well as the aviation sector.

Some predictions say that the green hydrogen sector could become a US$2.5 trillion market by 2050.

Ownership and Equity

In addition, WGEH will define a new model for natural resource and energy companies to partner with First Nations Land Owners. This is because Mirning Green Energy Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mirning Traditional Lands Aboriginal Corporation, will have a meaningful carried equity stake in the project, together with a permanent seat on the WGEH Consortium Board. WGEH will be developed with complete respect for the Mirning community and its heritage in the area, with specific corporate governance requirements in this regard built into the WGEH Corporate Charter.

Brendan Hammond, Chairman of the Board of WGEH said: “The Western Green Energy Hub is historic on two fronts. First, the scale at which we will be able to deliver green fuels to markets and customers around the world, helping to move us all towards a net-zero future. Second, and possibly more importantly, the way in which we are working with the Mirning People, the original owners of the land, to create a truly long-term and sustainable multi-generational partnership that  delivers enormous socio-economic benefits for the community. It is an honour and a privilege to be involved in this groundbreaking project.”

Trevor Naley, the inaugural Mirning Board Member of WGEH and the Chairman of the Mirning Traditional Lands Aboriginal Corporation said: “As First Nations Land Owners, the Mirning People are excited to hold such an integral and defining stake in this historical partnership with WGEH. This partnership through robust governance and a seat at the table for Mirning People will provide opportunities never before available to Indigenous Corporations. This representation alongside sustainable financial and substantial social benefits will provide security for future generations.

These commitments will encourage our young indigenous people to dream big, knowing that these ambitions can be realised. Pride in oneself, in culture and community will end the welfare cycle which has plagued many indigenous families. It is desired that through living and working on our native title land with WGEH, our people will live and work with enduring culture, strong leadership, innovative vision and values with heart.

There are many to thank for this journey and as we look toward the future, we the Mirning People wish our partners at WGEH great success with the project.”

About the Mirning People

In 2017 the Federal Court handed down a determination of exclusive possession native title to the WA Mirning People. This exclusive possession native title covers an area of approximately 2.2 million hectares in South-Eastern Western Australia.

The land is managed through a Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC), Mirning Traditional Lands Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Battery installations in Australia up 20%, here’s why

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-07-13 03:09
Last year the number of residential battery systems installed in Australia increased by 20%. The 31,000 battery systems that were installed is a remarkable number, considering Australia entered a recession in September last year for the first time in almost 30 years. This article considers some of the key drivers behind the growing market adoption of small-scale battery storage systems in the Australian market. Reduction in Feed-in Tariffs

The rate solar system owners can earn for selling energy back to the grid (Feed in tariff) has fallen significantly in the last 2-3 years in line with decreasing wholesales prices. In fact in many states, the wholesale cost of electricity moves into negative prices in the middle of the day when rooftop solar system generation peaks.

Many solar system owners have export rates of up to 70% or 80% and have been left searching for alternative means to create value from their surplus energy. This has been observed as one of the underlying drivers to battery take up.

In our recent analysis, we can see that even with the lower solar feed in tariffs the economic case to install a battery does not stack up. There are other non-financial factors that we need to consider when assessing the demand for battery storage systems.

State-based Solar Battery Rebates

The below table outlines some of the battery schemes that have come out in Australia over the last 3-4 years.

 Current RebateLaunched inSouth Australian Home Battery SchemeUp to $300 per kWh installed2018NSW Interest Free Solar LoansInterest free loans of up to $9,000 to retrofit a battery2020ACT Battery Rebate$825 per kW of Sustained Peak Output2016Solar Victoria$4,174 per household2019

With some of these programs were introduced several years ago they have been progressively building awareness. Many of these schemes help consumers with the financial return of investment for their battery system whilst supporting grid stability and resilience.

The Emergence of Virtual Power Plants

Only 3-4 years ago Virtual Power Plants were in concept phase only with no programs available anywhere in Australia. In the last 12 months the number of options available to consumers has skyrocketed with many companies looking to get involved in a potential new source of revenue and customer loyalty.

See the below table which summarizes several of the main Virtual Power Plant programs currently available in Australia and the value they are offering customers.

VPPBenefitsEligible Batteries Simply Energy VPP$1,275 to $2,550 in VPP access creditsTesla Powerwall, LG Chem, Eguana Technologies, Sonnen, Varta AGL VPP$280 for first 12 months; $1,000 off a battery if sign up for 5 yearsTesla Powerwall, LG Chem (with SolarEdge)Shinehub SA Community VPP$2,000 battery discount if sign up at time of battery purchase; 45c / kWh for charging and discharging through the batteryAlpha ESSTesla Energy PlanReceive $220 per year in grid support credits; Save on the upfront cost of a Tesla PowerwallTesla PowerwallsonnenSign up bonus of $100 and save up to $24 a month or; Through sonnenFlat pay a flat fee of $49 to $69 per month for battery and all energy usagesonnenDiscover Energy VPPSolar feed in tariff of 45c for first 300kWh; 25c for subsequent 300kWh and 9c thereafterAlpha ESS, LG Chem, BYD, SungrowStoddart VPPAdd a discounted battery to a free solar system (Only available to owner-occupiers building a new home)TBCDiamond Energy Gridcredits 100Premium feed in tariff of 100c per kWh in addition to solar feed in tariff at peak event times on the gridLG Chem, Solax Triple Power, Must Include Reposit BoxSocial Energy VPPFeed in tariff of 40c per kWh for first 300kWh and 10.75c thereafter; Minimum feed-in payments guaranteed at $450 p.a for a 9.6kWh battery and $600 for 14.4kWh batteries or largerSolax Triple Power, Duracell

Some of the above schemes, when coupled with a state-based rebate scheme can start to offer customers a reasonable return on investment with a payback period as low as 5 years for a good case.

Increasing Climate Change Awareness

Climate change has been at the center of politic debates in Australia for more than a decade with particular attention growing on the current Coalition Government’s lack of meaningful action and continued support of fossil fuel sectors.

In the global context, Australia is a relative laggard in introducing climate policy which is creating increasing tension within political parties and

Climate change rallies were coordinated across all major cities in Australia in the lead up to the pandemic and in research conducted by the Australian National University found that 52% of voters was important when deciding their vote in the 2019 Australian federal election. This percentage is expected to increase progressively over next decade.

One of the main actions homeowners can take to reduce their own carbon footprint is to install solar. While solar alone can tackle 30%-50% of the predominantly coal-based power used on the Australian grid, a solar and battery system can get that figure closer to 100%.

Inevitably this is strong motivator to buying batteries for environmentally conscious Australians.

Notably left out of the list of driving factors for battery demand is the cost of batteries. We have seen little movement in battery prices in the last few years with the average cost of batteries only dropping 3% since February 2020 according to the Solar Choice Battery Price Index.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Another clean energy company goes public via a SPAC

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-07-12 07:56

On Friday, solar financing company Sunlight Financial announced the closing of its previously-announced business combination with Spartan Acquisition Corp. II, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by funds managed by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, Inc.

Sunlight partners with contractors nationwide to provide homeowners with financing for the installation of residential solar systems and other home improvements.

The combined company is named Sunlight Financial Holdings Inc. and on July 12, 2021, its common stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “SUNL”, while its warrants will trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “SUNLW”. Sunlight Financial LLC will be the new public holding company’s sole operating subsidiary and Sunlight’s existing management team will continue to lead the business.

Read More about SPACs:
SPACs offer new investment opportunities for energy industry
Why a seasoned energy executive sees a bright future in long-duration energy storage from ESS
Government and private funding – we need both for the energy transition

“This is a momentous day for Sunlight and we are excited to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future as a publicly-traded company,” said Matt Potere, Chief Executive Officer of Sunlight. “As demand for residential solar and battery storage solutions continues to grow, Sunlight is well-positioned to extend its lead as the point-of-sale technology platform of choice and provide frictionless financing for solar and home improvement customers, contractors and capital providers.”

The Business Combination was funded by a combination of Spartan’s cash-in-trust and $250 million of proceeds from the previously-announced private placement of Spartan’s shares, which was fully committed by a pool of institutional and other accredited investors.

“As a company at the nexus of fintech, solar and ESG, Sunlight has an incredible opportunity to empower more homeowners to embrace clean energy technologies,” said Geoffrey Strong, CEO of Spartan and Senior Partner, Co-head of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at Apollo. “We are excited to work with Matt and the entire Sunlight team as they continue in their mission to provide affordable, responsible financing to accelerate America’s transition to clean energy.”

Citi acted as exclusive financial advisor to Sunlight. Credit Suisse, Citi and Cowen acted as PIPE placement agents to Spartan. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP acted as the legal advisor to Sunlight, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. acted as the legal advisor to Spartan, Latham & Watkins LLP acted as the legal advisor to the placement agents, and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP advised a transaction committee of the Board of Directors of Spartan.

Categories: Renewable Energy

SEIA applauds NJ solar bills that encourage community solar, ‘dual-use’ solar and more

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-07-12 07:46

Earlier this month, the New Jersey legislature passed two pieces of legislation that will help increase solar development across the state.

S2605 establishes the SREC-II program at the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which includes incentives for at least 1500 MW of behind-the-meter solar facilities and 750 MW of community solar by 2026. It also includes a new competitive solicitation process to incentivize at least 1500 MW of large-scale solar power facilities by 2026, and develops siting criteria for large-scale solar projects.

S3484 directs the BPU to establish a “Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program,” which authorizes up to 200 MW of solar projects on unpreserved farmland. The measure allows for continued agricultural production under and around the solar panels. It authorizes and encourages dual-use solar projects up to 10 MW each and lays the foundation for a permanent dual-use solar energy program.

Related:
Largest “agrivoltaic” research project underway in Colorado
US state lawmakers should consider the benefits of community solar

Following is a statement from Scott Elias, senior manager of state affairs, mid-Atlantic for the Solar Energy Industries Association:

“We’re glad to see the New Jersey legislature pass these two important pieces of legislation, which will help the state reach its aggressive clean energy goals.

“These bills will help facilitate at least 3,750 megawatts of new solar power generation by 2026. Although the devil is in the details over what incentive levels the BPU ultimately determines, how the competitive solicitation is designed and whether reasonable siting criteria for solar projects prevail, these bills send a strong signal that the Garden State is committed to advancing solar energy.

“In particular, S2605 would guide the Board of Public Utilities to create the SREC II program, a successor program intended to maintain New Jersey’s robust distributed solar industry while creating a new market for large-scale solar projects.

“S3484 would make New Jersey a leader in dual-use solar development by removing existing barriers to co-locating solar projects with agricultural production on unpreserved farmland, providing financial security to farmers interested in diversifying their income streams, and demonstrating the range of environmental services that dual-use solar projects can provide.

“We look forward to working with state policymakers on the final design of the solar successor program and remain hopeful that the BPU will create a long-lasting and sustainable program that maintains New Jersey’s robust solar industry.

“These developments are positive news for New Jersey’s clean energy progress, and we urge Governor Murphy to sign these bills into law.”

Categories: Renewable Energy

New York announces initiatives to explore green hydrogen for decarbonization

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-07-09 06:36

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week announced that New York plans to explore the potential role of green hydrogen as part of the state’s comprehensive decarbonization strategy.

To support this effort to study green hydrogen and its possible applications, the state is collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), joining two hydrogen-focused organizations to inform state decision-making and making $12.5 million in funding available for long duration energy storage technologies and demonstration projects that may include green hydrogen.

“New York is leading the way forward on protecting the environment and combating climate change,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release. “Part of our ongoing efforts is setting an example for other states and nations to follow. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we are exploring every resource available as a potential tool to address climate change and documenting what we find to share as part of broader national and global conversations so we can build a brighter, greener future for all.”

Green hydrogen, hydrogen produced using renewable energy, including wind, solar, and hydroelectricity, has the potential to decarbonize challenging sectors of the economy. As part of the state’s efforts to assess green hydrogen’s potential role in economy-wide decarbonization efforts, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is leading a comprehensive stakeholder engagement effort to gain and share knowledge and understanding of the support this resource could provide for meeting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals across multiple sectors.

The stakeholder engagement began in December 2020 at a “Deep Decarbonization Workshop” co-hosted by NYSERDA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

A more comprehensive and ongoing approach will begin with an additional workshop and listening session being planned for this fall. The session will be used to help NYSERDA understand how to expand stakeholder engagement to ensure that additional assessment of the pathways, opportunities, and challenges of generating and utilizing green hydrogen across all sectors includes consideration of all stakeholder perspectives, including environmental justice organizations and communities.

The state’s approach to understanding and exploring the potential role green hydrogen can play in achieving the Climate Act goals include:

New York Hydrogen Strategy Study – NYSERDA and NREL will conduct as study to compile the foundational, base-line information and data that will enable New York to have robust discussions and dialogue around the role of green hydrogen. This study will focus on opportunities surrounding green hydrogen to align the state’s hydrogen strategy with the existing mandates for 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent zero-emission electricity by 2040.

NYPA Green Hydrogen Demonstration Project – A first-of-its-kind demonstration project will investigate the potential of substituting renewable hydrogen for a portion of the natural gas used to generate power at NYPA’s Brentwood Power Station on Long Island. The project team will evaluate different concentrations of hydrogen blended with natural gas at regular intervals and will assess the blend’s effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its overall system and environmental impacts, including nitrogen oxide emissions. The project will begin in fall 2021 and is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Partner roles include:

  • NYPA will lead the project
  • EPRI will assist with the project design and technical evaluation
  • GE will supply a hydrogen/natural gas blending system and support the project’s planning and execution
  • Sargent & Lundy will provide overall engineering and safety reviews
  • Airgas is the supplier of renewable hydrogen and
  • Fresh Meadow Power will provide piping system design, material procurement and installation services for the project. 

In addition, the state will join the Center for Hydrogen Safety and the HyBlend Collaborative Research Partnership

Long Duration Energy Storage Program 

Finally, NYSERDA will encourage product development and demonstration projects in energy storage that is six-plus hours in duration, otherwise known as LDES, by making up to $12.5 million in funding available through its Renewable Optimization and Energy Storage Innovation Program. Project submissions should advance, develop, or field-test hydrogen, electric, chemical, mechanical, or thermal-electric storage technologies that will address cost, performance, and renewable integration challenges in New York State. Submissions must only include innovative long duration energy storage technologies which are yet to be commercialized. Awards will be made for the following project categories: early studies, product development, multi-stage, demonstration projects and federal cost-share.

Proposals will be accepted in three rounds through June 2022. Additional details for this solicitation are available on NYSERDA’s website, including proposal submission requirements.

Categories: Renewable Energy

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