ReNew Power in India is acquiring two assets with a combined enterprise value of INR28.5 billion (US$384 million), which are expected to generate INR3.8 billion to 4.0 billion (US$ 50.7 million to 53.4 million) of EBITDA annually.
ReNew will acquire L&T Uttaranchal Hydropower Ltd., which owns the 99-MW Singoli Bhatwari Hydroelectric Project (SBHEP), from L&T Power Development Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of engineering and construction firm L&T. ReNew will add the project operations team of SBHEP to its team. This acquisition marks ReNew’s entry into the hydropower sector. The addition of SBHEP, which has a pondage capacity of two to three hours, adds 200 MWh to 300 MWh of low-cost hydro storage to ReNew’s portfolio.
SBHEP, on the Mandakini River in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, became operational in December 2020 and is expected to have a residual life of nearly 35 years. As the project was commissioned after March 8, 2019, the power generated will facilitate recently notified hydro purchase obligations (HPO) compliance for the buyer.
Additionally, ReNew Power announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire 260 MW/330 MWp of operating solar projects in Telangana. The projects have a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Northern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Ltd. and Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Ltd. and have been operating for about four years.
The acquired assets are located close to ReNew’s existing solar projects in Telangana, which should offer opportunities to enhance productivity, reduce operations and maintenance costs, and utilize ReNew’s proprietary monitoring and analytical technology to further boost output, according to a press release.
“We believe that the acquisition of these assets is expected to earn an attractive return within our targeted range and is proof that ReNew is uniquely positioned to be a big beneficiary of the consolidation of renewable energy assets in India,” said Sumant Sinha, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of ReNew Power. “We are able to overlay our competitive advantages of scale, superior operations through vertical integration and utilization of our industry leading monitoring and analytics technology, financing innovation and access to low-cost capital to create significant value through acquisitions. Furthermore, the hydropower acquisition strengthens our ability to provide reliable and dispatchable power to the grid which complements our solar and wind assets. The acquisition of solar assets in Telangana and the hydropower project in Uttarakhand as well as the recent 200 MW MSEDCL auction win takes our commissioned and contracted capacity to well over 10 GW and sets us on the path to attain 18 GWs of capacity by 2025.”
ReNew is a renewable energy independent power producer that develops, builds, owns and operates utility-scale wind energy projects, utility-scale solar energy projects, utility-scale firm power projects, and distributed solar energy projects. As of March 31, 2021, ReNew Power had a total capacity of about 10 GW of wind and solar energy projects across India, including commissioned and committed projects from organic and inorganic growth opportunities.
TechnipFMC dives into seabed mineral extraction to support energy transition
A specialist in offshore oil and gas exploration, TechnipFMC is diving into seabed mineral extraction to support the energy transition.
The company has taken a minority stake investment in global maritime industry group Loke Marine Minerals. The partnership aims to meet the increasing demand for metals used in electric vehicle batteries and other clean energy technologies through an autonomous subsea production system, which the companies said would limit the environmental impact.
Together, TechnipFMC and Loke are targeting potential offshore licensing on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NSC).
“We are pleased to partner with Loke in the development of this important resource,” said Jonathan Landes, president of subsea at TechnipFMC. “Our culture of collaboration, integration, and innovation, along with our expertise in subsea robotics and extensive history on the NCS can help meet the rising demand for new technologies and resources that are driving the energy transition.”
The NSC is known to have copper, zinc, cobalt, and other rare earth elements. Norway is expected to make a final decision on licensing approval for exploration and production in 2023.
Daroga Power will deploy 32.85 MW of Bloom Energy solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) after the investor and developer of distributed generation assets closed a $230 million infrastructure portfolio fund.
The fuel cells will provide clean and reliable baseload power for companies in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland. The company said that 6 MW of fuel cells are already operational with the rest being deployed through the end of next year.
“We believe in the power of distributed generation to mitigate the risks that companies face from extreme weather, brownouts and blackouts, and unknown energy costs,” said Ory Moussaieff, co-founder of Daroga Power. “Fuel cells enable companies to reduce their environmental footprint while being able to budget for and reduce their energy spend.”
Daroga Power will oversee the operation and financial performance of the fuel cell assets, while Bloom Energy will maintain the equipment.
Removing state opt-out for demand response program participation in wholesale energy markets would benefit renewable project developers because aggregators of solar and energy storage technologies can leverage their experience with demand response products.
If we are keen on avoiding blackout situations recently experienced in California and Texas, we should incentivize distributed energy resource market participation in wholesale markets. And distributed solar is a big slice of the distributed energy pie.
Allowing states to opt-out of their demand response programs leaves a key tool out of the toolbox to manage grid reliability. Hence, state opt-outs must go.
Background on state opt-out for demand response
State opt-out is an issue for vertically integrated states in wholesale energy markets such as MISO and SPP. FERC removed state opt-out in FERC Order 2222 on Distributed Energy Resources Aggregation (DERA) proceeding and later clarified in Order 2222-A that state opt-out is removed for demand response programs if they are part of “heterogeneous aggregations.” Aggregations that include more than one technology, i.e., mixing solar with storage, are heterogeneous.
Recently, FERC in Order 2222-B clarified that they would issue a Notice of Information (NOI) to open the proceeding on whether this state opt-out should be removed for demand response. State opt-out is a legacy of decade-old FERC Order 719.
As the Google comments in the FERC NOI docket # RM21-14 clearly state, “The Demand Response Opt-Out allows states within an RTO/ISO market to prevent distributed energy resources (DERs) already on the grid from participating in the wholesale energy markets.”
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) said something similar in their comments, “The opt-out provisions are serving to prevent cost-effective demand response resources that can provide a range of wholesale services from entering the markets, robbing consumers and the grid of significant benefits.”
Voltus comments, including testimony, are the largest in volume at 429 pages. Voltus, the largest aggregator in demand response space, shows a real-life example of how renewable developers benefit by aggregating renewable resources with demand response resources.
Figure 1: Source, Voltus Comments in FERC NOI docket # RM21-14
Figure 1: Source, Voltus Comments in FERC NOI docket # RM21-14
Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA), another trade organization, also states that it is time for state opt-outs to go in this statement, “the Demand Response Opt-Out is no longer just and reasonable and should be removed to unleash the latent demand flexibility currently hidden in these markets.”
Who opposes state opt-out? And why?
Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), and Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) don’t want FERC to remove State Opt-out for DR. But another MISO state commission Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) wants removal of the state opt-out given their experience with Aggregators of Retail Customers (ARCs).
Most commentators opposed to the concept of removing state opt-out want to preserve the status quo. States like Indiana do not want FERC to upset the apple cart on their current oversight of utility DR programs.
Arkansas commissioner’s comments in the NOI stand out
Chairman Ted Thomas of Arkansas Public Service Commission, citing a Supreme Court decision in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association, states that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that FERC has the authority to set compensation for demand response programs participating in wholesale energy markets.
To address the double-counting issue when a DER is providing both retail and wholesale services, Chair Thomas proposes:
1) FERC re-establish a “bright line” of distinguishing wholesale market transactions versus retail market transactions instead of distinguishing transmission and distribution,
2) FERC defer to states that have retail programs, and
3) FERC establish an analytical framework to limit and clarify what is and what is not considered “practice…affecting” within the FERC jurisdiction as granted in the Federal Power Act.
Meanwhile, in California and Texas
Relevant for illustrating the reliable role distributed renewables such as solar and storage can provide during blackout events — on the mind of industry observers in a state like California that has a high percentage of distributed solar –California Gov. Gavin Newsom just issued an emergency proclamation to incorporate more DERs in the California electric grid.
The new slate of Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) commissioners has opened a docket to enter into the record the opportunities for DERs. Distributed renewables and other DERs provide grid services such as voltage support and frequency regulation during blackouts, if allowed to do, which is one of the questions PUCT is asking in Project No. 52373. The last date to comment in this PUCT docket is Aug 16, 2021.
The conclusion is that FERC Order 2222 provides opportunities for distributed RE developers
California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and New York ISO (NYISO) already filed their compliance plans for FERC Order 2222. The next tranche of compliance filings would be PJM and ISO-NE in February 2022. Finally, MISO and SPP will file their compliance plans by April.
Hence this opportunity for renewable developers to aggregate distributed resources is real and happening now.
Now would be the time for RE developers to start establishing relationships with aggregators with experience settling market transactions in wholesale energy markets because distributed renewables can play in energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets thanks to FERC Order 2222.
In Zoom interview, you will meet Laura Zapata, CEO of Clearloop.us, a Nashville-based solar power solutions company that is building a solar power farm in western Tennessee. Laura is also a former communications executive at UBER.
In anticipation of Clearloop’s upcoming groundbreaking in Jackson, Tennessee on Sept. 2, I spoke to Laura about Clearloop delivering one million watts of solar power to a carbon-intensive region and what that means for homeowners, children, teachers, and electrical engineering students living nearby the project. For Renewable Energy World viewers who are interested in greening the grid, solving the climate crisis, and creating solutions that are win-wins for the environment and for business, this video is for you.
Laura described the impact of having former Nashville mayor and former Tenn. Governor Phil Bresden on the ClearLoop.us team. As a long-standing solar power entrepreneur, Bresden brings his formidable expertise in building large-scale solar projects to Clearloop, in a targeted effort to merge the growing demand for carbon offsets with the greening of Jackson, TN’s electric grid.
We also discussed the importance of compelling messaging and how Clearloop’s succinct storytelling makes it easy for the company to attract a variety of partners, brands, and people to the project. Laura explained the difference between a business choosing to go “carbon neutral,” “carbon negative” or “climate positive.” (They’re all good, by the way).
I thought it would be great if the carbon footprint associated with the manufacture and shipping of my new book, Planet Power: Explore the World’s Renewable Energy could be offset by Clearloop’s solar farm. In this video, you’ll hear how Laura and I worked together with the fine team at WAP Sustainability to make that happen!
And, finally, Laura offers uplifting advice to those people interested in working in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability. The good news? It welcomes the skills of people across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
A coalition of 24 groups – representing thousands of companies, union members, investors, and advocates – has formed to spur the construction of a national electric vehicle charging network.
The National EV Charging Initiative will “push for deeper commitments” from member groups and the federal government to make national EV charging infrastructure a reality. Members entered into a memorandum of understanding with participants pledging to collaborate with all levels of government to build the network for cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles.
“These groups are ready, willing, and able to work together to build the national charging network needed to meet the Biden administration’s goal of transforming our transportation system,” Colleen Quinn, president of eMobility Advisors and the coalition’s organizer, said in a statement. “Investing in this system will contribute to a just transition that creates good jobs, addresses the climate crisis, and cuts air pollution.”
Through the various advocacy groups that signed on, GM, Ford, Nissan, Honda, BMW, Toyota, and Mazda are represented, along with Uber and Lyft.
“We will have the plugs we need to electrify our vehicles. Private companies have already installed more than 100,000 public charging stations in the U.S. and investor-owned utilities are investing $3 billion to help deploy charging infrastructure for cars, trucks, and buses,” said Max Baumhefner, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With new federal investments and breakthroughs in battery technology, range anxiety should soon go the way of the horse-drawn carriage.”Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy
There are 5,263 electric vehicle charging stations with 18,885 outlets, in the U.S., according to the Dept. of Energy. That’s compared to more than 150,000 gas stations.
The bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the U.S. Senate this week includes $7.5 billion for EV infrastructure. The deal must still be approved by the House of Representatives. President Biden’s goal is for electric vehicles to make up 50% of vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030.
After years of rapid growth, clean energy jobs in the Midwestern United States fell by 8.9% — or approximately 66,000 — by the end of 2020, according to a new report by the nonpartisan business group E2 and Clean Energy Trust.
While at one point in the year as many as 131,600 Midwesterners working in clean energy had filed for unemployment benefits, the sector’s rebound of 10.7% by the end of the year surpassed the national rate of overall employment recovery — an optimistic signal to the authors.
“These jobs prove to be resilient, rebounding faster than the overall Midwest workforce,” said Ian Adams, managing director at Clean Energy Trust. “We see the clean energy industry as ripe with opportunity for innovation and growth – and look forward to supporting the impressive climate entrepreneurs in this space.”Source: Clean Jobs Midwest
The group tracked unemployment data in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin for the annual report, now covering its sixth year.
The report brought (some) good news, too: electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle sectors saw net job gains in 2020, now totaling 65,212 workers in the region, combined.
The report cited Minnesota’s newly adopted clean car standards, Michigan’s goal of decarbonization by 2050, and Illinois’s proposed comprehensive clean energy legislation as reasons for a continued rebound.
On the heels of the U.S. Senate approving a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, the chamber acted early Wednesday morning to pass a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation along party lines.
Both measures are now on pace for final congressional approval in the coming weeks – major victories in the Biden administration’s climate and renewable energy agenda.
“We applaud the Senate for swiftly passing the FY22 Budget Resolution,” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. “As Monday’s IPCC report made painfully clear, the time for decisive action on climate is now. With a stable, long-term, full-value clean energy tax platform, the renewable industry will decarbonize the power sector and pave the way for a net-zero emissions economy.”
Budget reconciliation provides a roadmap for Senate committees to direct the funding toward initiatives over the next decade, including many that align with President Biden’s goal of 80% clean electricity and 50% economy-wide carbon emissions reductions by 2030.
Here are some of the top-line items for climate and renewable energy in the budget reconciliation:
Electric power generated from renewable energy sources in the U.S. will rise to nearly 23% in 2022, according to short-term guidance released Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Renewables – including wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy – became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source in 2020, trailing only natural gas. New additions of solar and wind generating capacity in 2021 were offset by reduced generation from hydropower in 2020, according to EIA, keeping the renewable share of electricity generation flat from 2020 to 2021.
Findings from EIA’s August short-term outlook:
Contributed by Harry Kaffenese, VP of global product management at ABB Power Conversion
When it comes to transportation, there is little doubt that the future is electric. From leading car manufacturers transitioning to completely electric fleets to the recently unveiled Clean Transit for America plan that provides $73 billion for zero-emission bus deployment, there’s good reason to believe that the days of gas-powered combustion engines are numbered.
And yet, the shift to electric vehicles is only just starting to accelerate. In fact, at present, electric vehicles comprise less than 1 percent of the 250 million cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks on the road today. Not surprisingly, the US is at least 15 years away from EVs making up one-quarter of auto sales, a far cry from the fleet turnover necessary to meet the U.S. government’s current timeline of net-zero emissions by 2050.
How, then, can widespread EV adoption go from aspirational to attainable? The answer lies in developing a charging infrastructure robust and convenient enough for electric vehicles to be considered a viable option for everyday consumers.
Range anxiety, charging deserts, and the reluctant EV revolution
According to a recent study by Volvo, three-quarters of American drivers agree that EVs are the future of transportation. That’s good news considering that, for the EV revolution to take hold, consumer confidence in a reliable alternative to traditional gas-powered cars will be critical. Of course, the perception of viability will depend on price, convenience, and usability. But two interrelated statistics from the same report illustrate why, at present, the cars of tomorrow continue to face inertia today.
First, more than half of the respondents cited the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge their vehicles as the number one reason why they’re currently reluctant to purchase an electric car. This phenomenon, dubbed “range anxiety,” speaks on behalf of the average American who drives around 13,500 miles per year and cannot afford to run out of power during a commute to work or cross-country road trip. It also speaks to the urgency behind developing battery technology dense enough to store substantially higher kWhs than the lithium-ion batteries currently used to power most EVs.US electric vehicle charging stations (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Battery technology aside, range anxiety takes on even greater significance when coupled with the fact that almost 50 percent of potential EV buyers claim that the lack of robust charging infrastructure is the single factor keeping them from purchasing an electric car. The data suggests that such concerns are anything but unfounded when considered in relation to figures from the Department of Energy that show a mere five thousand charging stations throughout the U.S. These are truly paltry numbers compared with the more than a hundred thousand gas stations accessible to drivers across the country.
Taken together, it’s clear that American drivers are concerned about making the switch. And for good reason. Simply put, consumers are reluctant to fully embrace vehicles that may run out of power before they reach their destination, especially given the staggering disparity that currently exists between readily available charging locations for EVs and fueling stations for traditional gas vehicles.
Developing a robust and holistic EV infrastructure
Given the public’s concerns, it should come as no surprise that the administration has placed charging infrastructure at the heart of its efforts to spur widespread EV adoption, committing $7.5 billion to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations throughout the country by 2030.
To be sure, any plan to increase the number of public charging stations will go a long way towards combating range anxiety and boosting consumer confidence by eliminating the vast numbers of charging deserts currently in existence. But a holistic and robust infrastructure plan will require more than just a one-size-fits-all solution. For EV infrastructure to succeed, it must meet the unique demands of consumers located across diverse geographic regions and from different demographics.
It’s also important to understand that the charging topography will be unlike what we have seen in the gas-fueled world. There will be a continuum of use cases from charging overnight at non-peak electricity rates to new fast-charging options, including a couple of hours at a retail location or minutes at a standalone charging station. All these options will be imperative to meet the needs of companies and consumers looking to make the transition to electric vehicles.
In short, EV charging infrastructure will need to accommodate the structural needs of localized communities, from dense urban environments with limited space to those inhabiting sprawling, wide-open rural areas that constitute much of America’s beloved geography.
Fortunately, EV infrastructure lends itself to more expansive possibilities than the traditional gas-powered vehicle. EVs can charge at multiple locations, such as charging stations in parking lots outside of coffee shops, supermarkets, and gyms, instead of just a designated gas station. As such, there is an opportunity to approach EV infrastructure in a more holistic way that considers how solutions can integrate with the pre-existing architecture and boost charging speeds.
Consider, for example, the charging needs of electric vehicles in highly dense, narrowly constructed urban environments where space is already at a premium. Pop-up charging stations designed to emerge from the sidewalk’s surface allow for curbside charging in areas where minimizing the impact of infrastructure buildouts on pedestrian space is of paramount importance.
Shifting consumer sentiment, however, will require more than accessibility. Drivers will need assurance of their EV’s ability to charge reliability and quickly while remaining cost-effective. Consumers accustomed to spending minutes as a gas pump will no doubt demand similar levels of convenience. Currently, Level 2 charging stations can deliver 7-19 kilowatt-hours of energy which correlates to a 10-15 hour charge time. Not exactly a beacon of efficiency for drivers looking to charge their vehicles quickly while they’re on the go.
In response, the deployment of Direct-Current Fast Chargers with the capacity to reduce charging times to 15 -30 minutes offers one solution to this problem. The key to the build-out of these systems will be the incentives and coordination between network operators and utilities. As an example, in California, utilities are offering to cover the electrical system “make-ready costs” and offering rebates in exchange for locating DC Fast chargers in their service territory.
The future of EVs needs a smarter approach to power
If the future belongs to electric vehicles, the question, of course, is how far in the distance that future lies. With transportation accounting for close to one-third of all carbon emissions in the United States, there can be little doubt that electrification will have a central role to play in the U.S. government’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. But even if policy solutions like tax credits, buybacks, public transit options, and rideshare programs successfully removed all gas-powered, combustion engine vehicles from the road, widespread EV adoption may still face sluggishness. Especially if the charging infrastructure necessary to combat skepticism and shift consumer perception remains lacking.
The automobile has long been a symbol of American freedom and independence. But the iconic image of the open road will only remain true to its roots if the infrastructure exists to ensure American drivers are charged up, unencumbered, and on the go, regardless of their engine.
About the author:
Harry Kaffenes serves as the VP of Product Management at ABB Power Conversion. Previously, Harry operated as ABB’s Vice President & GM for Grid Solutions & Power Quality, as well as ABB’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
Phillips 66 — the Houston-based energy corporation with oil refineries and hundreds of gas stations under its control — is betting on battery storage with its latest investment.
The company announced Monday the acquisition of a 16% stake in Austrian battery material supplier NOVONIX Limited, valued at $150 million.
“This strategic investment enables Phillips 66 to directly support the development of the U.S. battery supply chain,” Greg Garland, Phillips 66 chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “It advances our commitment to pursue lower-carbon solutions while leveraging our leadership position and expertise in the specialty coke market and supporting NOVONIX’s emerging position in U.S.-based anode production.”
Phillips 66 is developing a fully domestic supply chain to support the electric vehicle market and energy storage markets.
NOVONIX is ramping up capacity at its Chattanooga, Tenn. facilities to produce 10,000 metric tons per year of synthetic graphite by 2023. The partnership with Phillips 66 will allow capacity to increase by 30,000 mt per year, the companies said, by 2025.
Originally published on ILSR.org
Getting electricity customer-generators the compensation they deserve has been a battle in many states. Could a settlement between the utility and solar advocates squash net metering conflict for good?
For this episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Thad Culley, Senior Regional Director of the Southeast at Vote Solar. They discuss a novel utility-advocate settlement underway in the Carolinas: a net metering and demand response compromise benefitting the utility, customer-generators, and the electric grid.
Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.
Thad Culley, a former attorney and now the senior regional director at Vote Solar, represents Vote Solar in a novel settlement deal between Duke Energy and solar advocates in the Carolinas. The settlement, which Utility Dive calls a “landmark settlement” may finally put to rest the controversy over net metering.
Utilities often oppose customer-sited solar and net metering. By producing their own electricity, customer generators threaten utility monopoly power in the market. In a 2013 report for the Edison Electric Institute, Peter Kind went so far as to say that net metering would cause a “utility death spiral.”
Kind’s analysis is often cited by opponents of net metering. The “utility death spiral,” however, was never realistic. In 2013, says Culley, net metering customers made up only one percent of California utility revenues – a state with high solar penetration. In the Carolinas, Culley believes it is only a fraction of a percent. Customer-sited solar may cut out of utility revenue and profits, but it is not an “existential threat,” says Culley.There’s a certain panache to the utility death spiral. You could give them some points for flourish, but there’s not much to it when you look at the numbers. An Update to Net Metering Policy
Net metering has been the standard for home solar electricity generation in the United States. Enabled in 43 states, the policy allows solar-generating customers to “net” the difference between energy use and energy generation. If they generate more than they use, the utility either compensates the customer-generator for that energy or rolls it into the next month for them to use.
Culley highlights how net metering keeps rooftop solar policy in the hands of the states, rather than the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A dark money group petitioned to move net metering under federal jurisdiction in Spring 2020, an act that could have effectively ended net metering, but the petition failed.Where is the Settlement Now?
Although there haven’t been any major attacks on net metering in South Carolina, the state did cap net metering capacity and some utilities had reached this limit. The Energy Freedom Act, passed by the South Carolina Legislature in 2019, removed net metering caps and laid the groundwork for the settlement, says Culley.
The utility and advocates filed the settlement on November second. Next comes a tariff application by Duke Energy, utility commission review in March, and if approved, the policy will be fully implemented in 2022. Both South and North Carolina must approve the policy.Components of the Settlement
Culley believes that the settlement preserves “net metering at its essence.” However, the policy will look much different than the existing net metering scheme. Culley describes three key components to the proposed policy:
Another popular claim against net metering is the cost-shift argument: that solar generators shift grid maintenance and other utility costs onto other customers. This claim, though flimsy and unproven, is addressed by the cost recovery component of the settlement.
The settlement allows Duke Energy to recover costs using a $30 minimum bill and non-bypassable riders. Culley concedes that a $30 minimum bill “is on the very high side,” but customers are already paying a $13 fixed charge. He says that essentially, customers have to use $17 worth of energy every month. Customer-generators can also lower their monthly bill with excess generation.Regulators… have kind of taken these arguments to heart, that solar customers are avoiding paying their share of the fixed cost of the grid. We’re not conceding that to be the case at all, but we’re just saying, as a matter of compromise and fairness, this seems like something where the industry can still survive and actually thrive.
Culley acknowledges that monthly netting and a minimum bill both incentivize a reduced solar system size, but does not think the effect will be significant.Many Wins for Solar Advocates, Too
Though many items of the settlement are a compromise for solar supporters, not all is lost. Investors are given certainty by a constant rate design (the smart thermostat program has a 25-year rate structure guarantee). This stability is essential for a thriving solar market, as seen in Minnesota.We have a lot of work left to do to get it over the finish line and get it approved, but I think, for at least for the Carolinas, we found kind of a secret sauce.
For advocates hoping to replicate the settlement in other states, Culley emphasizes the need to collaborate with the utility. Without Duke’s willingness to sit down with advocates, there may have been yet another contentious net metering battle in the Carolinas.If advocates want to take anything away from the South Carolina deal, it’s that we’re broadening the conversation beyond just the typical battle lines between solar and utilities. Hopefully there are going to be more utilities out there that are willing to think about it that way. Episode Notes
See these resources for more behind the story:
For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.
Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.
This is episode 118 of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.
Local Energy Rules is Produced by ILSR’s John Farrell and Maria McCoy. Audio engineering for this episode by Maria McCoy.
Featured Photo Credit: plien via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Ørsted announced Tuesday that the Danish green energy developer has reached a power purchase agreement with Microsoft in Fort Bend County, Texas.
Microsoft will buy power from Ørsted’s 430 MWAC solar energy center Old 300, which is expected to come online next year. The project is located on 2,800 acres of privately-owned land in Needville.
“Microsoft has ambitious sustainability objectives for their Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions, and we’re thrilled to support their targets,” said Vishal Kapadia, senior vice president and chief commercial officer in Ørsted Onshore. “Given the strong alignment in focus on emission reductions between our two organisations, I’m excited about our continued collaboration.”
The project represents $400 million in community investment, the company said in a press release.
Microsoft established ambitious goals for the corporation to be carbon negative by 2030 and to remove historical carbon emissions by 2050.
“On our journey to 100 percent renewable energy, we recognize that innovation and collaboration are fundamental in how we fight against climate change,” said Adrian Anderson, senior director of renewable energy at Microsoft. “We’re grateful for our collaboration with Ørsted to deliver renewable energy in ERCOT and look forward to continued progress towards a net-zero carbon future.”
New analysis from Pecan Street has found that it is possible to free 12-16% of the distribution system’s current capacity without upgrades to existing utility infrastructure.
Pecan Street used data from energy use on homes with solar PV in New York and Texas to explore the grid impacts of poor residential power factor and the system benefits of power factor correction.
The analysis showed that by improving power factor of the homes in the sample, an additional current capacity of 12-16% to the distribution system could be achieved, which is a significant increase in transmission and distribution capacity.
According to Pecan Street, residential power factor, which is measured on a scale of zero to 1.0 with 1.0 being perfect, has been declining for several years. Ironically, it is in the introduction of solar PV and other energy efficiency measures like LED lighting that has contributed to the decline. Poor power factor essentially means that more power must be delivered to homes to keep the grid performing adequately. From the white paper:
Power factor is generally lowest during daylight hours in both Texas and New York. This is partly an effect of residential solar systems producing active power, but not reactive power. When residential solar systems displace some or all of the grid’s active power with their own generation, the grid still must support the same amount of reactive power as it would if there was no solar production. As the amount of active power supplied by solar systems increases, the amount supplied by the grid decreases and the reactive power supported by the grid remains constant. This causes the power factor in our measurement to decrease. However, it is important to note that the solar systems themselves do not cause the reactive power to increase. The same amount of reactive power is supplied by the utility whether the solar system is producing power or not. However, the ratio of the active power to reactive power at the grid interconnect does change when a solar system is connected to a home.
The new whitepaper Course Correction: Residential Power Factor outlines the impacts of poor residential power factor, the system benefits of power factor correction and provides potential solutions for improving residential power factor, and policy recommendations for implementing these solutions.
Standard Solar is nearing completion on the community distributed generation project it developed, installed, and funded in Lenox, New York, the largest in the state.
The Lenox Community Solar Project – featuring a 20 MWh DC-coupled battery directly charged to 17,966 fixed-tilt and single-axis tracker solar modules – is projected to generate 5,933.00 MWh in the first year of operation and reduce annual carbon offset by an estimated 264,931,764 pounds of coal burned.
“Community solar with battery storage is an extremely effective method for bringing the benefits of clean energy to as many people as possible while also transforming the U.S. electric grid,” said Daryl Pilon, director of business development at Standard Solar. “The Lenox Community Solar Project is the kind of high impact asset that aligns with Standard Solar’s goal to scale renewables to help Americans lower their electric bills, innovate the energy industry, and ensure the future of our planet.”
The project will allow hundreds of subscribers who are otherwise unable to access solar to benefit from clean, renewable energy.
The U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance – made up of a coalition of corporations that includes Google, Amazon Web Services, and Goldman Sachs – sent a letter Monday urging Texas leaders to scrap anti-renewable energy proposals crafted in response to the extreme winter storm that left millions in the state without power last February.
The letter addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott, Public Utility Commission of Texas Chairman Peter Lake, and leaders in the state legislature, said current policy proposals are built on the false premise that renewable energy sources – like wind and solar – were to blame for the outages.
In July, Abbott directed the PUC to “allocate reliability costs to generation resources that cannot guarantee their own availability, such as wind or solar power” and to “streamline incentives within the ERCOT market to foster the development and maintenance of adequate and reliable sources of power, like natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.”
Gregory Wetstone, president and chief executive officer of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said it’s difficult to model the impact that potential market changes by the PUC could have on renewables, but added that additional costs threaten the growth of an industry that generated $270 million in tax revenue for the Lone Star State this year.’
“Unbalanced cost allocation proposals appear to be premised on the discredited assumption that renewable energy was disproportionately responsible for the state’s February power outages,” Wetstone said. “In fact, while wind power outperformed forecasts across the state during the vast majority of the February power outages, thermal power plants did the opposite ― with nearly twice the amount of generation going offline as predicted under ERCOT’s ‘extreme generator outage’ scenario.”
Blame for the winter storm outages in Texas was (almost) immediately placed on renewable energy sources. But energy experts quickly rejected the premise.
Michael Webber, Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources at the University of Texas at Austin, said natural gas, not renewable energy, was the root cause of the failures.
“If additional costs are added to renewables, it will slow down the development of new renewable capacity, which raises the risk that we will have a capacity shortfall during future weather events,” Webber told Renewable Energy World. “Adding costs to renewables will drive up systemwide cost for consumers without improving reliability.
“As such, it seems like a clumsy policy option that won’t achieve its stated objectives.”
A new interactive map analyzes how each state can meet 50% of its energy demand through the deployment of solar panels as part of the U.S. reaching its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The analysis – first appearing in the August edition of Solar Energy – suggests that oversized solar photovoltaic can meet 50% of U.S. energy demand “firmly and affordably,” while occupying just .25% of the continental U.S. land surface.
The authors say 3.8 TW would meet the demand of electric, transportation, and building sectors.
“While it is widely known that the solar resource is sufficient to meet the world’s energy demand many times over, the questions of where and how much to deploy in a realistic context do not have such clear-cut answers,” University of Albany atmospheric scientist Richard Perez and his co-authors wrote. “Sensible answers are important in light of growing societal mandates to displace carbon-based energy resources.”
The interactive map allows users to adjust the total percentage of load needed to be met by PV power, ground efficiency of PV panels, and other subsets.
Renewable energy advocates offered reactions on Monday to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warned of a “code red for humanity” due to global warming.
The report – signed by leaders from 195 governments – is the first released by the panel since 2013, again confirming that global warming is being driven by emissions from human activities.
“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, & the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” said #IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte on the #IPCC’s #ClimateReport, released today.
Report ➡️ https://t.co/uU8bb4inBB pic.twitter.com/EG6YyAstdc
Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, said the findings and recommendations from the IPCC report must drive negotiations in Congress over the bipartisan infrastructure package and budget reconciliation.
“Sensible policies such as clean energy standards and federal incentives to continue the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and infrastructure are essential to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Zichal said. “Reaching a majority renewables electric grid by 2030 will deploy over $1 trillion of capital investment into the U.S. economy and support nearly 1 million direct jobs and reduce U.S. carbon emissions by over 60 percent.”
Josh Freed, senior vice president of the policy think tank Third Way, said that while the IPCC report paints a dim picture of the planet’s health, there is still an opportunity to act.
“This means using every low and zero-emissions technology, including nuclear power, carbon removal and carbon capture, renewables, and hydrogen. And it means building as much of it as we can, as quickly as possible and sharing these technologies, resources, and values with the rest of the world,” Freed said.
Sierra Club urged Congress to act immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure deal in response to the IPCC report.
“We must invest in our communities to ensure that we are able to recover from, prepare for, and mitigate the impacts of current and future climate disasters,” said Cherelle Blazer, international climate and policy campaign director for the Sierra Club. “And we must transition to a 100 percent clean economy without delay. We have the tools and the information in hand, and the choices we make now will shape our future.”
MAN Energy Solutions and ANDRITZ Hydro have completed a strategic framework agreement to jointly develop international projects for the production of green hydrogen from hydropower. Frank Mette, chief executive officer of ANDRITZ Hydro in Germany, and Dr. Uwe Lauber, CEO and chief technology officer of MAN Energy Solutions, signed the agreement.
A pilot project in Europe will mark the start of the collaboration. Subsequently, the companies want to jointly identify further projects and implement them in the context of the German Federal Government’s H2 Global initiative. H2 Global is a market-based funding platform that aims to promote the market launch of green hydrogen and hydrogen-based power-to-X products. For this purpose, hydrogen energy partnerships are to be established with countries with a correspondingly high potential to provide a long-term, cost-effective and reliable green hydrogen supply to Germany and the EU.
“Hydropower is one of the few completely climate-neutral forms of energy, which is capable of providing base load power,” Mette said. “We therefore see excellent potential for worldwide expansion – in new construction projects just as much as in repowering. By adding the possibility of producing hydrogen to hydropower plants, we are taking the next step and also making the energy generated there ready for export and storage without restriction. Together with MAN Energy Solutions, we can open up new markets and opportunities for the operators.”
Lauber said: “The economy of the future will be climate-neutral, and to achieve this it needs huge quantities of green hydrogen. Together with ANDRITZ Hydro, we want to make this resource available. Hydropower plants are ideal for generating hydrogen in a completely climate-neutral, reliable and cost-effective manner. With ANDRITZ Hydro, we have been able to enter into a partnership with a world leader in the field of hydraulic power generation, to develop these prospects together with us.”
The companies are aiming to launch an initial joint pilot project before the end of 2021 to provide about 650 tons of green hydrogen by using an electrolysis output of up to 4 MW, initially for local use. In follow-up projects, designed for hydrogen export, the installed electrolysis output is expected to increase to up to 100 MW in the coming years.
Through H-TEC SYSTEMS, the electrolysis specialist owned by MAN Energy Solutions, the company offers PEM electrolysis technology. Stacks and megawatt electrolysers based on the polymer-electrolyte membrane (PEM) process are developed by about 85 specialists to cover the hydrogen demand for industry as well as for energy refiners.
ANDRITZ Hydro is a corporate division of technology group ANDRITZ and is one a global supplier of electromechanical equipment and services for hydropower plants. ANDRITZ Hydro Germany provides services in the field of research and development, design, project management, procurement, production, delivery, installation and commissioning of equipment for hydropower plants, including intake and draft tube gates, turbines, propellers, speed controls, excitations and various auxiliary systems.
MAN Energy Solutions enables its customers to achieve sustainable value creation in the transition toward a carbon-neutral future, according to a press release.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has connected its first wind farm to the grid, according to reports from Aljazeera and local media.
The 400-megawatt Dumat al-Jandal wind farm – developed by EDF Renewables and Masdar – is made up of 99 wind turbines, the reports said.
Construction of the wind farm began in 2019 and is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
“The outstanding commitment shown by our teams and contractors with the implementation of the highest health and safety standards and the full support provided by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Energy, Saudi Power Procurement Company and the Saudi Electricity Company have contributed to the successful execution of the project during this extremely challenging pandemic period,” Olivier Marchand, project director of Dumat al-Jandal Wind Co for Energy LLC, told media outlet Al Arabiya.