EDP Renewables, through its subsidiary EDP Renewables North America LLC, has started commercial operation of the 209-MW Reloj del Sol wind farm in Zapata County, Texas.
Reloj del Sol will help strengthen Texas’ grid and is estimated to provide about $36 million in direct payments to local governments and $100 million in payments to landowners throughout the life of the project. The commissioning of this project supported 101 full-time-equivalent jobs during construction and created 10 permanent jobs, dedicated to operating and maintaining the wind farm. Reloj del Sol will also save more than 372 million gallons of water each year that would otherwise be used to for cooling traditional power plants, EDPR said.
This project joins EDPR’s other four operating wind farms in Texas. Collectively, EDPR’s Texas portfolio totals 909 MW in operating renewable energy capacity – producing enough energy to power the equivalent of about 236,000 average Texas homes each year.
EDPR NA is committed to continuing to grow Texas’ leadership in renewable energy and increasing the $1.5 billion it has invested in the state. It is also constructing the 200-MW Wildcat Creek Wind Farm in Cooke County, about 50 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth.
EDPR is a global leader in the renewable energy sector and the world’s fourth largest renewable energy producer. Earlier this month, Renewable Energy World reported on EDPR NA’s repowering work at an Oklahoma wind farm.
by Lisa Prevost, Energy News Network
As the sale of Rhode Island’s largest electric distributor comes before state regulators for approval, a group of solar developers, policy specialists and energy consultants are calling on the governor and attorney general to seize what they see as a golden opportunity to force a faster grid transition.
In an April 26 letter to Gov. Daniel McKee and Attorney General Peter Neronha, the 14 clean energy advocates argue that the state’s existing electric distribution system is “antiquated,” and that Narragansett Electric has so far neglected to invest in a modernized grid that can adequately serve the rapid growth in solar and other renewables.
Now, with Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp. seeking approval of its acquisition of Narragansett, officials in the state’s highest offices are in a position to take action, advocates said. They want officials to insist, as a pre-condition of approval, that PPL present specifics as to how it will enable the state to meet its commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030 and, under the Act on Climate, net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The sale of a distribution company is a rare occurrence,” said Kenneth Payne, a former senior policy adviser to the state Senate and the lead signatory. “But it is a time when you can really say, ‘Let’s plan for what we need prospectively, rather than just doing what we did in the past.’ It is appropriate for PPL to be asked to lay out how they plan to approach managing distributed energy resources.”
PPL announced in March that it had agreed to acquire Narragansett from its parent company, National Grid, in a transaction valued at $5.3 billion. At the same time, PPL is selling its U.K. subsidiary, Western Power Distribution, to National Grid for £7.8 billion.
Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, PPL owns utilities providing electricity to about 2.5 million customers in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and natural gas to about 300,000 customers in Kentucky.
Narragansett distributes electricity and natural gas to about 780,000 customers in Rhode Island.
PPL and National Grid have filed a petition with the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers seeking approval of the sale, as required by state statute.
Solar developers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been at odds with National Grid over soaring costs and lengthy delays associated with connecting large-scale solar projects. Developers complain that they are being charged for the full cost of the infrastructure upgrades required to connect to the grid, without any consideration given to the benefits their projects deliver to the system as a whole.
“National Grid has the attitude that, ‘You want to mess with my wires — you’re going to have to pay for it,’” said Rick Sellers, a consultant with a long history in renewable energy and another of the signatories.
But the company has maintained that the energy projects that spark the need for upgrades should be responsible for the costs, and that those costs shouldn’t be shared with ratepayers, “who are already supporting renewable energy development through their electric rates.”
The advocates argue in their letter that the sale of Narragansett should represent “a turning point to a serious transition to achieving our clean energy future,” and that PPL should be held accountable for strategic modernizing of the grid, prioritizing in-state clean energy generation, expediting interconnection permitting, and enabling energy storage.
Gov. McKee’s office, asked for comment, released a statement saying his team will be monitoring the vetting of the sale “to ensure that Rhode Island ratepayers’ interests are protected and that the new entity, if approved, is a collaborative partner on our clean energy policy goals and statutory obligations in the Act on Climate law.”
Attorney General Neronha, while not responding directly to a question as to whether the acquisition presents an opportunity for grid modernization, said through a spokesperson that his office is supportive of the state’s efforts to mitigate climate change, and “will continue to closely review the proposed sale of Narragansett Electric to PPL Corporation, as we recognize its importance to Rhode Islanders.”
Rhode Island is an ideal sandbox for grid transformation, advocates say. It’s small, and one utility dominates the market. It has a growing renewable energy sector, and strong regional power sector innovation. And meeting the standards under the recently passed Act on Climate will require reform of the whole electric distribution system, Payne said.
“But it requires an ask,” he said. “If you don’t ask, why should they do it?”
Karl Rábago, an energy consultant based in Denver who previously served on the Texas Public Utility Commission and is a frequent expert witness in utility regulatory proceedings, said advocates are right to push state officials to extract commitments from PPL at this moment.
A transaction such as this is something of “a Christmas tree,” he said. “They don’t happen that often, and they are a leverage moment for the cast of stakeholders. If you don’t get your ornament on the tree, then shame on you.”
If no commitments are made prior to approval, it’s very likely interconnection issues will become worse before they get better because PPL and Narragansett will be much more focused on integrating the two company cultures over the next two years, Rábago said.
He said PPL does not stand out as a national leader in solar or grid modernization. Its Kentucky generating subsidiaries have an energy portfolio dominated by coal and gas. And its corporate commitment to reduce carbon emissions at least 80% (from 2010 levels) by 2050 is behind much of New England, he said.
So when PPL makes claims about its intention to improve the distribution system for clean energy, “the question that the governor and regulators should be asking is, why should I believe you?” Rábago said.
Mark Miller, PPL’s director of communications, said the company is “uniquely qualified” to support Rhode Island’s decarbonization goals. The company’s Pennsylvania subsidiary, PPL Electric Utilities, which distributes power to about 1.4 million customers, has made significant investments in grid automation over the past decade, such that outages were down 30% in 2020 compared to 2010, he said.
“Our efficient and effective management of overall operations has allowed us to make these significant investments in grid modernization for the benefit of our customers without increasing operational costs and while maintaining affordable rates for our customers,” Miller said.
PPL Electric is currently testing how to proactively manage smart inverters that convert the current coming from customer solar systems, he said. The converters can work autonomously, but the company intends to demonstrate that managing them from a centralized system will improve reliability, power quality and hosting capacity, he said.
That plan raised alarms when it was first proposed in 2019. PPL originally petitioned state regulators to allow it to require all customers applying to hook up a new solar system to install company-approved smart inverters and devices that would allow PPL to monitor and proactively manage the power source.
Solar developers and clean energy advocates quickly pushed back, concerned that the company could use the devices to curtail generation.
“We started out with the company in a pretty adversarial stance,” said Mark Szybist, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which, along with the solar company Sunrun, opposed the plan. “We didn’t think that the value proposition for these devices had been proven.”
The opposing sides reached a settlement late last year. In a three-year pilot program, some solar customers will have smart inverters actively managed by PPL, and others will have autonomous smart inverters. The pilot will measure the costs and benefits of both approaches.
The utility would need separate approval to roll out a similar program in Rhode Island. They have asked state regulators to approve the purchase of Narragansett by Nov. 1, the start of heating season.
Burns & McDonnell said on Monday that it was selected by LG Energy Solution and Sustainable Environmental Renewable (SER) Capital Partners to provide engineer-procure-construct (EPC) services for three 10-MW/20-MWh lithium-ion, stand-alone battery energy storage systems. The three facilities are located in the West Texas region.
The project consists of owner-provided LG Chem battery racks populated with JH3 and JH4 modules. Burns & McDonnell has engaged in its direct-hire subsidiary Ref-Chem to complete construction and installation of the batteries. Containers will be shipped to the job site with empty racks prewired to direct current combiner panels and alternating current auxiliary panels.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning design will consist of direct expansion cooling units to provide cooled and conditioned air to the building, as well as to the face of the battery racks to maintain consistent temperatures. Burns & McDonnell is building a computational fluid dynamics model to confirm the airflow and temperature distribution.
“Having a fully integrated EPC team allows our direct-hire construction professionals to provide seamless coordination throughout the upfront planning and design phase of the project,” said Matt Domeier, director of energy storage EPC projects at Burns & McDonnell. “When they get in the field, our professionals are comfortable with the job site, know the team and can resolve any unexpected challenges in real time to navigate changes and keep projects on track. There are a lot of moving parts to this project and our integrated team is effectively collaborating to identify efficiencies throughout every phase.”
The project will help back up intermittent renewable energy from wind and solar power. When construction is finished, the batteries on the site will have the capability to store up to 10 MW of electricity for two hours, taking power from times when generation is plentiful and then discharging the power back onto the grid during times of shortage.
“Our partners, myself among them, have a long history of investing in different types of infrastructure, but we’ve now transitioned ourselves fully into the big opportunity that we see around renewable and environmental solutions,” said Sara Graziano, partner and investment committee chair at SER. “There is a lot of renewable generation, particularly in West Texas. These batteries are allowing us to benefit from peak energy generation to account for the dips that come with energy shortages.”
The batteries will also provide support services for the Texas power grid to respond to fluctuations in supply and demand. The addition of more renewable energy services means a reduced likelihood of rolling blackouts and reduced emissions with no polluting elements part of the battery energy storage system.
Project construction is expected to be complete by June 2021.
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has released a research and policy paper that outlines how hydropower could be pivotal in supporting growth in green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using decarbonized electricity and water, and it is set to be an important component of the transition to net-zero carbon economies, IHA said.
Most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, but projections suggest renewable and low-carbon green hydrogen could grow dramatically and play a key role on the path to net zero. In its Transforming Energy Scenario published in its Global Renewables Outlook in 2020, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said green hydrogen could supply up to 8% of overall global energy demand by 2050. More recent studies suggest it could be even higher.
The business-led Hydrogen Council says hydrogen could supply up to 18% of overall global energy demand by 2050, saving 6 gigatonnes of annual emissions and potentially creating a US$2.5 trillion per annum industry.
As the leading source of renewable electricity globally, hydropower is well-suited to producing green hydrogen and has played a leading role in this over the past 100 years, IHA said.
“Ambitious growth in green hydrogen will significantly increase global demand for clean electricity sources such as hydropower,” said Alex Campbell, IHA’s head of policy and research. “Looking ahead hydropower could potentially supply at least 1,000 TWh of the additional electricity demand required in IRENA’s 2050 scenario. For even more ambitious scenarios that seek to limit the increase in global temperatures below 1.5C, the likely demand on hydropower would be greater.
“To realize this potential, policy and regulatory frameworks must be updated to deploy hydrogen services and infrastructure at the scale now required.’
In “The Green Hydrogen Revolution: Hydropower’s Transformative Role,” IHA calls on governments and industry to:
IHA is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions.
Whether you use gas or another source of electricity to power your home, you are probably aware that your consumption (and your energy bills) has two seasonal peaks. In the winter months if you live in the North East, you very likely turn up the heat and since the days are shorter, use more electricity to light your home. In the summer months, across the country, air conditioning usage goes up which of course needs electricity to work.
When it comes to natural gas in particular, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) most recent surveys of energy use in the U.S. residential sector show natural gas accounts for 68% of heating consumption in homes during the colder months. In the summer, U.S. electricity generation is highest in July. The EIA found that in that month, natural gas generates approximately 42% of the nation’s electricity through natural gas-fired power plants.
If your utility company gets its power from a coal-fired power plant or nuclear power, a gas shortage may not affect you, but if the grid shuts down due to another cyberattack or natural disaster it is still highly likely you will experience an outage.
So, what can you do to mitigate your risk? Of course, you could purchase a gas generator and use that to power your home but if there is a petroleum shortage again, that may not help you.How about Solar Panels?
Today most solar panel systems are connected to the grid so that’s a tricky question. If your home has solar panels, you have already experienced all the cost savings solar gives you and have probably enjoyed watching your power meter run backwards because you know when it does, you are saving and often earning money. When your solar panels generate more electricity than you use that power goes back into the grid, so the utility company pays you for that. This is called net-metering and is how you have been able to end up with low or even zero utility costs.
But with this system, if the grid goes down, you won’t have power either, unless you have a solar battery installed along with your solar system. If you have both solar panels and solar energy storage, you will still have power. How much power you will have depends on how much power you want and how many batteries you have installed.
One of the best features of a solar energy storage system is that no matter how big it is, it won’t be adding more carbon emissions to our atmosphere. Have you ever smelled the fumes that come out of a gas-powered generator? Yuck!Energy Storage is Key
So, the bottom line is that solar panels alone will not keep you from experiencing a power outage, but if you pair your system with energy storage, you are going to be ahead of the game. One thing to keep in mind however is that although there are new tax incentives available now, solar batteries still add more to the cost of a solar panel system, so not all homeowners choose to get a battery installed at the same time they install new panels. Fortunately, most solar panels today are battery-ready, so you can wait until later to add back-up and still save up to 100% on your utility costs in the meantime.
Whether or not an energy shortage or cyberattack happens again, going solar is still a smart economic decision.
by Natalie Karas, EDF
A troubling story recently emerged about a group of gas utilities whose mission is to fight electrification. While the leaked materials alone don’t explain the full extent of the group’s efforts, it was unsettling to see baseless, fear-driven tactics such as “take advantage of power outage fear,” to make people wary of electrification. Instead of blocking progress to safe, affordable, clean energy, gas utilities concerned with the future should be taking steps today to accelerate the energy transition.
Several analyses make clear that electrification of commercial and residential buildings will play a predominant role in achieving state climate goals. Take New Jersey, for example, where residential and commercial buildings account for the second largest share of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to modeling done by the state, in order to achieve its climate goals of 80% emission reductions by 2050, residential and commercial sector emissions must be reduced by 89%.
To achieve this level of emission reductions, New Jersey has found that “policies requiring net-zero emissions for new construction must be paired with aggressive requirements for electrification of older residential and commercial buildings as soon as practicable.” In other words, the last thing we should be doing is fighting efforts to electrify.
Electrification of the building sector is not without its challenges. As states achieve their climate goals, natural gas infrastructure once deemed useful may no longer be necessary, and that transition will accelerate over the next decade depending on how fast end uses of the gas system, such as heating and cooking, are electrified. The good news is that there have been some cost-effective technological innovations that will make this transformation possible without compromising consumer experience.
The problem is that utility regulations, outdated utility business models and tactics to fight electrification are slowing the transition down. These impediments mean that we are still spending large amounts of ratepayer money on new gas infrastructure based on an assumed useful life of 60 years or longer. As one example, New Jersey Natural Gas is requesting rate recovery of millions of dollars of new gas infrastructure investments without any demonstration of how increased investment in the gas system will comport with New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act.
EDF’s Aligning Gas Regulation with Climate Objectives paper set forth a roadmap for regulators to address these challenges. We made clear that this massive transformation will require thoughtful planning with increased transparency and accountability, ensuring that protections are put in place so that low-income customers are not left holding the bag as wealthier customers leave the gas system to electrify. As detailed in EDF comments before the New York Public Service Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, there are a host of opportunities gas utilities have today to start accelerating the energy transition. Here are four:
Several states are making significant strides to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve meaningful pollution reductions. Instead of impeding progress in these states, it’s time for gas utilities to step up and embrace today’s clean energy future.
Natalie Karas is a Senior Director and Lead Counsel in EDF’s Energy Program
Last month ESS Inc., a manufacturer of long-duration iron flow batteries for commercial and utility-scale energy storage applications, announced the appointment of Eric Dresselhuys as Chief Executive Officer. Dresselhuys will guide the company through its next phase of growth as it expands its market presence and joins the global effort to decarbonize our energy systems.
Prior to joining ESS, Dresselhuys served in a variety of roles in both public and private companies. In 2002, he co-founded Silver Spring Networks, a leader in smart grid networking and data solutions. His 15-year tenure there included a variety of executive roles leading to its initial public offering on the NYSE and eventual sale to Itron, Inc. He has also held leadership positions at consumer goods company, Procter & Gamble, and at Smart Energy Water, a software-as-a-service platform for the energy, water and utility sector, among others.
Dresselhuys currently serves as Chairman of Enian, Ltd., which builds data-driven software products for renewable energy professionals, and he is on the Board of Directors of Autogrid Systems, Inc., a provider of software products and services that analyze smart meter and energy usage information for utilities.
“I believe that long-duration energy storage is one of the most important developments in our global effort to create a cleaner, more sustainable energy system,” stated Dresselhuys in a press release.
“I am confident that Eric is a great addition to the ESS team and will lead the company to success in this next chapter of growth,” said Michael Niggli, ESS Board Chairman. “Eric recognizes the enormous opportunity in pairing our long-duration storage solutions with renewable energy in a decarbonized world, and his decades-long commitment to a clean energy future aligns perfectly with the mission of ESS. He has proven his ability to leverage breakthrough technologies to transform the energy industry and we look forward to seeing his leadership and vision shape our path forward.”
Craig Evans, co-founder and former CEO of ESS, will remain as company president. He will lead several key functional areas, including engineering, R&D and manufacturing, helping to accelerate the next-generation of product advancements.
In related news, ESS announced it has entered into a definitive business combination agreement with ACON S2 Acquisition Corp; upon closing, the combined company expects to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “GWH.”
ESS has developed a what it says is a low-cost, long-duration storage battery engineered to support renewables and stabilize the electrical grid. Built from earth-abundant materials, the ESS solution can be deployed in a wide variety of environments, can operate across a wide temperature range and poses no explosion risk, according to ESS.
Disrupting a large and fast-growing market, ESS is valued at approximately $1.1 billion, offering investors an attractive opportunity to invest in a high-growth, genuinely sustainable business that enables our renewable future, said the company.
The business combination is expected to provide approximately $465 million in net proceeds to the combined company (assuming no redemptions), including a $250 million fully committed PIPE from top-tier institutional investors, including Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, primarily to fund manufacturing expansion to 16 GWh across three continents.
Additionally, existing investors SB Energy (SoftBank Group Corp.), Breakthrough Energy Ventures and BASF have also participated in the PIPE, increasing their existing equity holdings in ESS, and plan to continue their successful long-term partnership with ESS.
The global auto industry has begun a historic shift from gas- and diesel-fueled cars to electric vehicles. President Biden’s infrastructure plan seeks to speed up this transition by requesting billions of dollars to modernize the electric grid and build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.
Evidence shows that many Americans are eager to transition to EVs and participate in a clean energy economy. In a recent nationally representative consumer survey, 71% of drivers surveyed said they were interested in getting an electric car. But 48% said that lack of access to public charging infrastructure was holding them back, and 43% cited vehicle cost as a disincentive.
My research focuses on ways to make cities more sustainable, healthy and equitable places to live. In my view, making EVs and charging infrastructure accessible to all drivers is crucial for achieving clean transportation and energy justice.Who is hurt most by vehicle pollution?
People of color bear disproportionate harms from fossil fuels. For example, Black people in the U.S. are more likely than white people to live near oil refineries and petrochemical plants.
People who live in these neighborhoods experience higher levels of exposure to toxic emissions such as benzene, mercury and sulfuric acid than those who don’t live near these industries. They also have higher rates of heart disease, cancer and asthma.
Burning gasoline in cars produces smog-causing particulate pollution, including fine particulates, referred to as PM2.5 because they are less than 2.5 microns wide – 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles penetrate deeply into humans’ lungs and enter their bloodstreams. PM2.5 exposure can trigger asthma and chronic bronchitis, and has been linked to increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.
People of color are less likely to own cars and more likely to use public transit than their white counterparts, so they generate a disproportionately small share of motor vehicle pollution. But they suffer disproportionately large impacts. https://www.youtube.com/embed/7S8CXEVjIh4?wmode=transparent&start=0 Black and Hispanic Americans are exposed to significantly more air pollution than they cause.
The American Lung Association reports that people of color are 3.5 times more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing air quality grade. A groundbreaking 2019 study estimated that Black and Latino populations experience 56% and 63% more pollution respectively than their activities cause. In contrast, whites experience about 17% less air pollution exposure than their consumption causes.
Respiratory illness rates reflect this inequity. Black and Latino children in the U.S. are diagnosed with asthma at higher rates than white children. Latino children are almost twice as likely to die from asthma as white children. For Black children the death rate from asthma is almost eight times higher than for white children.
Recent polls show higher rates of concern about climate change among Latinos (69%) and Black Americans (57%) compared with whites (49%). Among Latino voters, 85% believe it is important to reduce smog and air pollution and want to see government action on this issue.The economic benefits of driving an EV
Electric vehicles have the potential to greatly reduce air pollution from transportation. They also are less expensive to own and operate over time.
New EVs are rapidly reaching price parity with gas-powered cars. A Tesla sedan costs less than a comparable gas-powered BMW. Even when an EV’s sticker price is higher, significant savings on fuel and maintenance over time more than make up the difference.
Maintenance and fuel savings from EVs offer great potential benefits for low-income households, which spend a greater share of their income on fuel than affluent households. Consumer Reports estimated in 2020 that owning an EV costs US$800 to $1,300 less for every 15,000 miles driven than owning a conventional car.
EVs have far fewer moving parts than conventional cars because their power comes from a battery, not an internal combustion engine. As a result, they require less maintenance, saving drivers time, money and stress. Consumer Reports estimated that electric vehicles cost owners about $4,600 less to repair and maintain over the cars’ lifetime than conventional cars.
Before the pandemic, unexpected car repairs were the most common financial shock for U.S. households. Low-income families, which are disproportionately Black and Latino, were more likely to experience such shocks and took longer to recover than white families.Creating better incentives and access
Today 45 states and the District of Columbia provide incentives for buying certain gas-electric hybrid or electric vehicles. But these programs are almost exclusively for new vehicles, which means they help only a small subset of car buyers – mainly affluent consumers who buy new cars. For example, in the state of Washington, new cars make up fewer than 5% of registered vehicles every year.
“Charging deserts” are one barrier to EV adoption. Advocates in California want CALGreen, the state’s green building code, to require EV chargers in new multifamily housing, which would make at-home charging more accessible to to urban and lower-income residents.
Drivers also need better access to public charging stations away from home. The New York City Department of Transportation has partnered with a local power utility to install 100 charging stations at curbside locations on city streets.
Expanded purchase incentives can help to steadily grow the number of EVs on the road. Currently, there are few subsidies available for buying used EVs, and none for people who lease their cars. Creating new financing programs for low- and moderate-income consumers who want to buy EVs can broaden access to clean cars.
Special purchase incentives should also be extended to ride-share drivers, who spend much more time on the road than most drivers. Without such support, these drivers could be forced into costly payment plans for new EVs as states like California begin to mandate clean cars for everyone on the road.
California has proposed a phased transition over the next decade, with 90% of ride-share cars on the road to be EVs by 2030. Since Uber and Lyft are multibillion-dollar companies that create about 70% more emissions than the rides they displace, I believe they should be required to contribute generously to incentive programs.
The electric vehicle transition has great potential to benefit Black and Latino communities, which are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution. Carefully targeted incentives and investments can make clean cars accessible for everyone on the road, mitigate the harms caused by gas-powered vehicles and move the U.S. toward achieving energy and climate justice.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a deceptively simple sensor system that the lab developed can prevent dangerous conditions from developing in outdoor battery cabinets.
Supported by DOE’s Office of Electricity, the invention, called IntelliVent, is designed to be installed in cabinet-style battery enclosures, which are becoming common for stationary grid energy storage, said PNNL.
IntelliVent responds to smoke, heat, or gas alarms in the battery enclosure and automatically opens cabinet doors to prevent buildup of flammable gases. The technology reduces the risk of explosions at battery installations, which can damage property or endanger lives, according to PNNL. Firefighters and utility personnel are at particularly high risk in these hazardous situations.
When a lithium-ion battery reaches a critical temperature, the liquid electrolyte inside the battery can vaporize and release toxic, flammable gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, and propylene. This process is called thermal runaway.
“Depending on the size of the cell, these gases can come out at very high volume, very quickly, and can lead to fire or even an explosion,” said Matthew Paiss, technical advisor for energy storage safety at PNNL and one of the inventors of IntelliVent.
“Protecting our critical workforce is a high priority,” said Imre Gyuk, Director of the Office of Electricity’s Energy Storage Program. “The Intellivent project works to address an important safety concern continuing to inhibit widespread adoption of energy storage for the grid. PNNL’s expertise in grid energy storage, fire safety and emergency response, and safety codes and standards position the team to bring this technology to fruition.”
Recent fires at battery storage facilities in Surprise, Arizona, and Liverpool, England, shined a light on the dangers these kinds of fires can present. The April 2019 incident in Arizona at an energy storage facility left four firefighters injured, two seriously. In September 2020, fire crews in Liverpool, England, were called to a 20 MW battery storage plant after an explosion had occurred to find a large grid battery system container on fire.
This safety technology is a welcome addition for firefighters and utility personnel.
“This is absolutely in the right direction, said Bobby Ruiz, the fire chief in Peoria, Arizona, whose firefighters were injured in the Surprise, Arizona, explosion. “Getting all doors open early before gas buildup will make the incident safer. It will also increase situational awareness by being able to see if the batteries are smoking or are on fire. And, if extinguishment is needed, we can direct the water right at the modules from a safe distance.”
“There are many similar battery enclosures operating today that could experience the exact same kind of failure,” added Paiss.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District’s new Arlington Microgrid and Clean Energy Center, in Everett, Washington, will be the first to install the safety technology when it retrofits a 1.2 MW battery with the IntelliVent system.
“No one likes the idea of being the first one to open the door on a suspicious battery,” said Scott Gibson, energy storage project manager for Snohomish PUD, who expects the new safety system to be installed this summer. “This is where IntelliVent comes in.”
The Arlington Microgrid and Clean Energy Center project, which is partially funded by the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund, will showcase the promise of grid-level energy storage.
“We want to demonstrate everything that can be done with energy storage and also understand how to get value from it,” said Gibson. “We know renewable energy is part of our future, but since renewable energy isn’t always available, we need a way to store it.”
Gibson calls it a “solar-plus-storage emergency generator with a day job.” During normal operating conditions the battery discharges power from the solar array to the grid. But during a natural disaster, the battery and solar array will disconnect from the main power grid to supply emergency power to the Arlington Microgrid and Clean Energy Center. The microgrid will keep a backup data center and support office running in case of an outage.
Intellivent designers developed the versatile system to work with a variety of sensors. Further, its simple operation provides an early warning system for pushing the gases out. It is intended to reduce the risk of explosion, but due to limitations of the product standard, is not designed to NFPA-69 (Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems).
IntelliVent is available for low-cost, nonexclusive licensing as PNNL pursues broad and rapid adoption of this important safety technology.
This week, Iberdrola and transmission system operator 50Hertz said they have signed an agreement to cooperate on the construction, installation and commissioning of the offshore substation (OSS) for 476-MW Baltic Eagle wind farm being developed in German waters of the Baltic Sea.
The offshore substation will house the technical equipment to collect the electricity produced by the wind turbines and connect it to the onshore transmission grid in Lubmin. It will be shared between the Baltic Eagle and the 350-MW Wikinger offshore wind farm.
The substation consists of a foundation and a topside housing the transformers as well as electrical equipment. The four-legged steel jacket foundation weighs approximately 2,900 tonnes and will be fastened with two hammered piles at each leg. The topside consists of a closed multi-story module of 5 decks with a total estimated net weight of around 4,250 tonnes.
Fabrication is already progressing at different locations in Europe and platform manufacturing has already started at Belgian yards. Sail out to the site is planned for 2022, while completion of the offshore installation and commissioning is expected to take place in 2023.
When the Baltic Eagle wind farm is connected to the grid, the wind turbines will deliver electricity via the inter-array cables to the offshore substation where it will then be transformed from 66 kV to 220 kV and transmitted via two high voltage subsea cables across 90 km to the landing point at Lubmin.
The Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm is located northeast of the Rügen island off the Pomeranian coast in the Baltic Sea in a water depth of 40-45 meters. Iberdrola was awarded 476 MW of capacity during the transitional auction held in 2018. It is comprised of 50 wind turbines of 9.525-MW capacity to be installed on monopile foundations and will cover an area of 40 km2. Commissioning is expected in 2024.
The 826-MW combined capacity from Wikinger and Baltic Eagle offshore windfarms underlines that investments in renewable energy help to establish sustainable industry with significant growth potential, coupled with the creation of high-quality jobs for German and European companie, said Iberdrola.
EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) has initiated its first North America repowering construction proceedings at the Blue Canyon II Wind Farm in Oklahoma. The repowering of Blue Canyon II, which is located in Caddo and Kiowa counties and is part of a four-phase project, ensures significant economic benefits and affordable energy will continue with the project.
EDPR NA anticipates the repowering operation will create an annual increase of more than 30 percent in power production and will extend the project’s life an additional 20 to 30 years beyond the 15-plus years it has already been in operation.
The repowering of the turbines is slated to start in June and will last throughout the summer. Seventy-three of Blue Canyon II’s 84 turbines will be repowered, replacing the nacelles, blades, and the top tower section of each turbine. The turbines will be upgraded from V80 1.8 megawatt (MW) machines to V110 2 MW machines, increasing the nameplate generating capacity of the wind farm from 151.2 MW to 164 MW.
Repowering is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2021.
“Our first North American repowering at Blue Canyon II represents a significant step forward to renewing EDP Renewables’ drive for delivering affordable, clean power through cutting-edge technology and efficiency,” said Kris Cheney, Executive Vice President – Central & Western Regions and Environmental Affairs. “EDPR NA’s repowering process is a critical component to reaching the highest level of efficiency at our projects and runs to the core of our business, remaining at the forefront of innovation in our industry.”
Extending the project’s lifespan, power generation, and overall efficiency will continue to yield economic benefits to southwestern Oklahoma. The Blue Canyon Wind Farm has paid approximately $17.6 million to local governments and $25.3 million to landowners through 2019. Blue Canyon also employed more than 550 people during construction and created 64 permanent jobs, focused on operating and maintaining the wind farm.
GE Renewable Energy announced today that it will provide 107 of it’s 2.82-127 onshore wind turbines for the 302-MW Lincoln Land Wind project in Morgan County, IL. The wind farm is owned by funds managed by the Infrastructure and Power strategy of Ares Management Corporation (Ares) and will provide 126 MW of renewable energy to McDonald’s and approximately 175 MW to Facebook through separate power purchase agreements (PPAs).Towers being installed at Lincoln Land Wind Farm. Credit: Ares
Apex Clean Energy led the development of Lincoln Land Wind and Ares finalized preconstruction milestones, including securing turbines, financing (tax equity and debt), and other project contracts. The partnership with GE also includes a 20-year O&M agreement. The project is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2021.
GE’s 2.82-127 turbine was recently names the most widely deployed turbine in the US in 2020 by the American Clean Power Association.
Tim White, GE Renewable Energy’s CEO for Onshore Americas, said “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Ares. Together, we have announced more than 800 MW in new onshore units over the last 12 months—this is an exciting milestone, and we’re thrilled to support our customers in accelerating the energy transition by helping to deliver sustainable, affordable, renewable energy through our combined projects in the US.”
Steve Porto, Managing Director of Ares Infrastructure and Power, said “We are proud to once again work with GE Renewable Energy. We believe trusted partners are critical to building projects of this scale and delivering low cost energy to our customers and with an effort to deliver strong results for our investors.”
GE Energy Financial Services is providing tax equity for the project.
A coalition of industry and academic leaders has developed a new technology to enable circularity for thermoset composites, the material used to make wind turbine blades.
The new technology delivers the final step on the journey toward a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain and was developed by a newly established initiative called CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites).
The aim of CETEC is to advance a circular economy across the wind industry and enable the adoption of this new technology. Within three years, CETEC is aiming to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption, based on commercialization of the circularity technology.
“The key characteristic of composite materials is their unique combination of low weight and high strength. This is governed by the strong bonding of two different materials – fibre and epoxy. The dilemma is that this strong bond is also the feature that renders these materials difficult to recycle. Therefore, the development of CETEC’s novel technology, enabling disassembly of the composite at end-of-life, is a gamechanger, that will allow us to capture the value represented by each material stream in a new circular value chain,” said Simon Frølich, PhD, team manager, Danish Technological Institute (DTI).
Partly funded by Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD), CETEC is spearheaded by Vestas and involves industrial and academic leaders including Olin, global producer of Epoxy, DTI, and Aarhus University.
The new technology, developed by DreamWind, consists of a two-step process. First, thermoset composites are disassembled into fibre and epoxy. Secondly, through a novel chemcycling process, the epoxy is further broken up into base components similar to virgin materials. These materials can then be reintroduced into the manufacturing of new turbine blades, constituting a new circularity pathway for epoxy resin.
Wind turbines are 85% to 90% recyclable, with turbine blade material constituting the percentage that cannot be recycled, due to the nature of thermoset composites. CETEC is aiming to close this recycling gap and enable a significant step forward in the elimination of waste across the wind energy industry.
“As global commitments to a net-zero future increase, it’s absolutely crucial to ensure the wind industry can scale sustainably, which includes Vestas fulfilling our ambition to produce zero-waste turbines by 2040. Leveraging this new technological breakthrough in chemcycling epoxy resin, the CETEC project will be a significant milestone in Vestas’ journey towards achieving this goal, and in enabling a future where landfill is no longer required in blade decommissioning,” said Allan Korsgaard Poulsen, head of sustainability and advanced materials, Vestas Innovation and Concepts.
The first of three units at the US$140 million, 84-MW La Virgen hydroelectric plant in Peru’s highland region of Junín has begun commercial operations.
The unit came online Saturday, according to power grid coordinator COES.
Special purpose company La Virgen, controlled by Brazil’s Alupar Investimento and Peruana de Energía, began construction of the plant in 2014. The units are equipped with Hisa turbines and Weg generators.
The hydro project uses water from the Tarma River and connects to the national grid via the 63.5-km-long, 138-kV La Virgen-Caripa transmission line.
BNamericas previously reported that the energy and mines ministry had accepted a request by La Virgen for additional time to begin operations due to hydraulic interconnection issues and leaks in the water supply tunnel.
La Virgen holds a concession granted by the ministry for the power plant.
Meanwhile, the congressional economy, banking, finance and financial intelligence committee approved a bill to ease free power market restrictions to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on microenterprises and small businesses.
The initiative, tabled by parliamentary group Frente Popular Agrícola del Perú, would allow such companies to choose between the free power market or the regulated market by lowering to 50 kW from 200 kW the limit to be considered a regulated user and access cheaper electricity.
Today, CS Energy announced that it is providing full turnkey EPC services for the largest portfolio of distributed generation solar projects to date in Rhode Island. When completed, this 50-MW portfolio will push CS Energy’s total to over 100 MW of clean power projects in the state over the last 5 years. The latest portfolio will generate lower-cost solar energy for a local university and contribute to the state’s target of 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030.
Helping the state, utility, and municipality to meet their sustainability goals, these solar power generation projects in Rhode Island diversify the utility’s energy sourcing options and support the local communities through lease tax incomes and an environmentally-friendly operation. The latest portfolio project located near Kingstown, Rhode Island converted an inactive, unproductive gravel site into an environmentally-sustainable clean power generation plant.
“We commend the state of Rhode Island for their visionary leadership in establishing the state mandate for low-carbon, renewable energy. We’re looking forward to balancing the design and build of these clean energy power plants to maximize the benefits for the communities they will serve,” said D. Scott Bianchi, Executive Vice President of CS Energy.
In 2020, CS Energy completed large-scale solar projects in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia and is currently constructing over 500 MW of large-scale solar and energy storage projects in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, and Ohio.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) this week announced the completion of its first utility-scale energy storage project. The 2.45-MW battery project was developed in partnership with ENGIE North America.
ENGIE will own and operate the battery, which is located on the site of NHEC’s 2-MW solar array in Moultonborough, NH, an area that experiences fairly large summer population growth. The battery unit will charge from NHEC’s distribution system during times of low demand and discharge during periods of peak regional electricity use. By discharging during hours of peak electric usage, the battery will save NHEC’s members money on regional market and delivery charges while reducing demand on the grid.
One innovative part of the co-op’s agreement with ENGIE is that NHEC will discharge the battery to supply energy to its members up to 70 times per year. The battery project will provide NHEC with insight and direct experience into how battery storage technologies interact with its electrical system and respond to price signals and will be used to reduce NHEC’s transmission charges and regional capacity payments. NHEC estimates these discharges will save its members $2.3 million over the next 12 years.
“Energy storage is a rapidly evolving technology that has a key place in our strategic vision for our business model of the future. It’s important for NHEC to gain firsthand experience with batteries so we can better understand the benefits they have to offer our members and the operation of our system,” said Steve Camerino, President and CEO of NHEC.
“As more Co-op members install their own batteries, NHEC needs to be ready to support them with a flexible, responsive grid,” he added.
“We are delighted to have completed this leading-edge storage project alongside NHEC,” said Laura Beane, Chief Renewables Officer of ENGIE North America. “The addition of battery storage systems such as these are not only delivering real value to customers today, but also helping to accelerate the energy transition. NHEC’s leadership in commissioning this project reflects their commitment to innovation in supporting cost effective, clean energy for their members,” she continued.
The battery storage unit is the largest in New Hampshire and can fully charge or discharge within two hours. NHEC and ENGIE received all necessary approvals from the Town of Moultonborough. The battery is housed in a pre-fabricated 40 foot container located within the fence line of NHEC’s solar facility in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. The battery unit has on-site fire suppression equipment and will be monitored 24 hours a day, year-round.
NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 85,000 homes and businesses in 118 New Hampshire communities.
The Clean Power Quarterly Market Report, released last week by the American Clean Power Association (ACP), shows that U.S. project developers installed nearly 40 percent more wind power in the first three months of 2021 than in the first three months of 2020, the strongest year ever for clean power. This amount of development also represents nearly three times the amount of wind added to the U.S. grid in the first quarter of 2019. Utility-scale solar and energy storage also had strong first quarters, keeping pace with or exceeding historic levels.
“These numbers add up to one word: momentum. We are already exceeding the pace from the strongest previous year ever for clean power,” said Heather Zichal, ACP CEO. “This trend will only grow when more closely aligned with smart policy in Washington.”
Thirteen new wind projects, 15 utility-scale solar projects, and 2 energy storage projects became operational during the first quarter said ACP. The top five states for first quarter additions include Texas (791 MW), Oklahoma (555 MW), California (519 MW), South Dakota (462 MW), and North Dakota (299 MW).
America’s first wind project in federal waters, Dominion Energy’s 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, became operational during the first quarter. Meanwhile, federal regulators released their final assessment of the planned 800-MW Vineyard Wind project, the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the country.
The Biden-Harris administration also announced a new goal of installing 30,000 MW of offshore wind capacity in the U.S. by the end of this decade. ACP believes these developments are helping set the stage for the country’s transition to renewable energy by the end of this decade.
In total, there are now over 173,000 MW of clean power capacity operating in the U.S, more than double the U.S. capacity just five years ago. And more is on the way, with over 84,000 MW of clean power capacity under construction or in advanced development across the country, including about 35,000 MW of wind and 44,000 MW of solar. That near-term project pipeline is more than the total amount of clean power on the U.S. grid at the end of 2015.
Last week, consulting firm EnTech Solutions and its affiliate Faith Technologies said that they have partnered with the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians to implement a solar-powered microgrid. The project, named the Ishkonige Nawadide Solar Project, is part of a long-term energy strategic plan for the tribe.
EnTech and Faith will finance, own, and operate the system for the tribe. Additional funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The microgrid will deliver energy to three tribal facilities: the Health and Wellness Center, Wastewater Treatment Plant and Administration Building, all of which are relatively remote and susceptible to power outages, said the company in a press release. The microgrid will be made up of a 500-kW solar system and more than 1-MWh of battery energy storage. EnTech said that each facility will operate as an individual microgrid that will remain interactive with the utility and integrate with existing reciprocating generators as lower priority resources.
EnTech Solutions will fund the balance of the system and will own and operate it through an Energy Services Agreement with the tribe. “This is a great demonstration of how a private company can provide financing to a clean energy microgrid system for the benefit of a community,” said Charlie Fredrickson, EnTech Solutions vice president of asset management.
“We are excited to be converting our tribal buildings to a solar and clean energy source while providing another level of resiliency during utility outages,” said Daniel Wiggins Jr., the tribal project lead with the Mishkiiziibii Natural Resource Department for the Bad River Tribe.
Once installation and commissioning are complete, EnTech Solutions will provide O&M for the microgrids. Data gathered from the systems will be applied to a planned Phase 2 project for the Bad River to further support the energy needs of additional facilities on the reservation.
This week Iberdrola group said it seeking ideas and solutions that would enable the roll-out of solar PV collocated with agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fish-farming or beekeeping which improve the land use in a sustainable way.
The Iberdrola’s Renewables team of specialists is seeking innovative solutions that allow primary sector activities and solar photovoltaic facilities to complement each other and create synergies on the same land.
The technological proposals must explore the combination of solar photovoltaic generation with one of the following complementary land uses:
Iberdrola said proposals could include
Iberdrola will evaluate the proposals in terms of costs, maturity and adaptability of the design, and simplicity. They will also look at the diversity of crops that could be planted, the maximum energy that could be generated, the impact on agriculture and livestock production as well as sustainability issues around land and water use.
Winners will be able to develop a proof-of-concept in collaboration with PERSEO, the innovation arm of Iberdrola, with all costs covered by the company. If the proof-of-concept works, Iberdrola said it may offer the participant the opportunity to scale up the solution by means of commercial agreements. In addition, PERSEO may consider investing in the participant and/or challenge winner. Learn more about the challenge here. The deadline to submit is June 11, 2021.
This week online solar shopping comparison company EnergySage released its twelfth semiannual Solar Marketplace Intel Report, which is based on millions of transaction-level data points generated within the EnergySage Solar Marketplace throughout 2020.
The company tracks the evolving pricing, equipment, and consumer preference trends shaping today’s U.S. residential solar industry by connecting solar buyers and sellers through its online portal. Interested residential solar buyers visit the portal, input details about their locations, energy needs and reasons for wanting solar and EnergySage turns that information over to solar installers who then bid on the projects. EnergySage reports that millions of consumers use their site, which gives them an excellent view into trends in the industry.
“In 2020, people spent more time in their homes, but they also spent more on their homes,” said EnergySage CEO and founder Vikram Aggarwal. “At the same time, the consumer mindset has shifted, with interest in resiliency increasing significantly, whether due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, the wildfires and power shut offs in the West, major storm events in the East, or, most recently, the winter storm in Texas. We’re excited–and proud–that the solar and storage industries are helping consumers to become more resilient and keep the lights on under any circumstances.”
Key insights from the latest Solar Marketplace Intel Report
H2 2020 saw the largest drop in solar prices since 2017:
Installers are quick to quote the newest equipment:
Other interesting findings around the desire for energy storage are also in the report. EnergySage found that more homeowners are seeking energy storage for resilience than for any other reason. According to the report, 15% of consumers want PV+Storage so they can go completely off the grid. Another 34% of consumers want to increase their own use of solar and adding a battery helps them do that because they can use the stored solar energy when their panels are not producing energy. But 69% of consumers requesting a quote for PV+Storage say they want the battery for back-up power.
In terms of energy storage technologies, LG Energy Solutions overtook Tesla as the most quoted storage brand in Q4 2020, according to EnergySage. In Q4 2020, nearly 40 percent of quotes on EnergySage included LG Energy Solutions, making it the most quoted storage brand on EnergySage. Tesla remained the least expensive storage option quoted. Batteries that utilize lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry are quoted at much higher prices than batteries with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry on EnergySage.