Too much information driving you potty?

Too much information driving you potty?

Solar Hybrid Design Marketing 2 April 2020 – Caption reads “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.” We understand.  And we hope you are staying safe and healthy.  We also hope you are staying sane. Take care. Best wishes to you all.

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Solar and storage would cost less than Alabama Power’s proposed 1.9 GW of gas units

Solar and storage would cost less than Alabama Power’s proposed 1.9 GW of gas units

pv magazine William Driscoll March 31, 2020 –  “Alabama Power’s own analysis shows that clean energy is the more affordable alternative” to the 1,900 MW of new gas units for which the utility seeks state approval, said attorney Christina Tidwell with the Southern Environmental Law Center, in a statement following a regulatory hearing on the request. Opponents challenged Alabama Power’s plans from all angles in expert testimony during the proceedings leading up to the hearing. In testimony for Alabama Industrial Energy Consumers, veteran energy adviser Jeffry Pollock said state regulators should deny Alabama Power’s request “until capacity is needed.” Because Alabama Power is a subsidiary of Southern Company, which “does not need additional capacity” for some number of years, Pollock said that “until then, Alabama Power can meet its capacity obligations under the Southern Intercompany Interchange Contract.” (The specific year was blacked out in the public testimony.) Former Texas utility commissioner Karl Rabago, testifying for citizen groups Energy Alabama and Gasp, said Alabama Power’s proposed rate increases are driven by the costs of its proposed gas plants, which have weighted average net costs of $322 per kW. In contrast, the utility’s proposed 340 MW of solar-plus-storage projects have net benefits of $14 per kW. Rabago based those figures on the last column of the Alabama Power analysis below, which Tidwell also flagged as significant. (Alabama Power calculates “NPV” as costs minus benefits, so negative values in the last column mean positive net benefits.) “An aggressive mix of additional large-scale renewables, solar with storage, demand-side management, and distributed energy resources would have been less costly and less financially risky” than Alabama Power’s proposed gas-heavy plan, Rabago concluded. Other issues raised with regulators were the strong pace of solar installations in nearby states, the burden of electric bills on low-income residents, deficiencies in the utility’s integrated resource plan, and opportunities for peak demand savings from demand response programs. Ten Southeastern states are expected to add 25 GW of solar through 2024, with nearly 90% of that concentrated in five states, said Maggie Clark, senior state affairs manager for the national solar trade association SEIA, in testimony for the Alabama Solar Industry Association. Alabama “can look at the lessons learned in other states,” said Clark, to “take advantage of the low cost, clean energy that is abundant across state lines,” and the associated jobs and tax revenues. Twenty-nine percent of households in Alabama said they skipped buying necessities at least once in 2015 to pay for home energy bills, while in 2018 Alabama Power collected $9.9 million in late payment fees, testified John Howat, a senior policy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center.  He suggested that’s largely because residential electricity use in Alabama...

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Texas installer sees coronavirus concerns driving interest in residential storage

Texas installer sees coronavirus concerns driving interest in residential storage

pv magazine Tim Sylvia 27 March 2020 While national solar and storage projections fall, the opposite has been true for Bret Biggart and Freedom Solar, with more and more customers looking for residential storage to weather uncertain times. “Today, more than any time, we’re seeing that the world is a volatile place. Whether it’s the economy, the grid or our public health, all of these things are more fragile than we thought two months ago. Today, more than any time, people have a sense of what they can take back, in terms of providing some predictability to their future.” And while that quote by Bret Biggart, CEO of Freedom Solar, a Texas-based residential and commercial solar contracting firm may seem to echo much of the doom and gloom surrounding the solar industry in the coming months, the truth is that Biggart believes Freedom Solar is in a unique position to weather the upcoming storm. This belief is founded upon another unusual trend: Freedom has seen consistent installation interest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, interest which has yet to show signs of slowing down. “We’ve had no cancellations thus far. We’re installing solar today in every market… Our deployment levels have been relatively unchanged, and the number of people who are inquiring about solar has not really fluctuated that much over the last couple of weeks, which is interesting. I expect that to not be the trend going forward, I expect there to be a dip. The really interesting part is the number of people that set an appointment and didn’t cancel it.” Biggart notes that a number of customers have pushed appointments back, many referencing an uncertain financial future in the immediacy. Another trend that he noticed? In this time of uncertainty, many customers and prospective customers are turning to battery storage. “I had a customer call yesterday, a more high-profile kind of customer with a 60 kW system on his residential home. He called me and said: ‘Hey, can you get out here and get some batteries on this thing? I want to make sure I’ve got a battery backup system in case things get really sideways.’” It’s not just one customer, either. While Texas is not the most lucrative market for residential battery storage, the state has not implemented time-of-use rates or other policies that incentivize storage, Biggart cites what he can most closely describe as a ‘Cowboy Mentality.’ This mentality comes from a desire for energy freedom, a desire which, in the last year, has driven five times more battery attachment among freedom customers than the previous year. That number is still low when compared across all Freedom installations, but growing fast in the...

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On a lighter note

On a lighter note

Solar Hybrid Design, LLC Marketing 30 March 2020 – It might not feel like there is much to laugh about just now – but as some old fart said sometime between 1915 – 1990: ‘laughter is the best medicine’.  So let your frown turn upside down – and stay safe. Psst: (It was American journalist Norman Cousins).

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Covid-19 live blog: Clean energy industry impact, stories, useful links

Covid-19 live blog: Clean energy industry impact, stories, useful links

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 30 March 2020 – As the COVID-19 situation changes on an almost hourly basis, RenewEconomy and its sister sites One Step Off The Grid and The Driven will do our best to keep our readers up to date on the impact of the novel Coronavirus on the renewable energy industry in Australia and around the world. We’ll provide links to useful resources for businesses during what could be a very hard time for some, so keep an eye out. And we would also like to share any relevant personal/professional experiences, nuggets of hard-won advice, or tips from the experts. So if you have any of those, please drop us a line and let us know. And if there’s anything we’ve missed, or you have some other tips, please do let us know about that, too, at editor@reneweconomy.com.au. Monday, March 30: Another grim forecast for the impact of Covid-19 on the global renewable energy market this week, this time from Norway-based analyst group Rystad Energy. As Giles Parkinson reports here, Rystad has all-but written off its forecasts for large-scale wind and solar growth in 2020 due to the impact of the global pandemic and cut its forecasts for 2021 by around 10 per cent. The study warns Australia could be hit particularly hard, as one of a group of countries where the currency has declined sharply against the US dollar, and where capital costs of planned renewable energy projects could rise by more than one third. “The full extent of the impact of Covid-19 on the renewable energy market is just beginning to reveal itself,” says report author and Rystad senior vice president Gero Farruggio. Monday, March 30: ASX-listed wind energy developer Tilt Renewables has had to suspend construction of its New Zealand Waipip wind farm for two weeks, due to measures introduced to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus. The Market Herald reports that the New Zealand project is not considered an essential service and has therefore drawn to a halt under the NZ government’s mandated lockdown measures. Both countries’ travel bans have also limited Tilt’s ability to move personnel to and fro across the ditch, the company said, but it managing this development by using locally sourced expertise. It says that the relatively short shut-down period should not alter the completion date set for the Waipip project. Tilt operates seven wind farms across Australia and New Zealand as is building another two, including Waipip in NZ and Dundonnell in Australia, which started sending power to the grid in Victoria earlier this month. Tilt notes that its operating energy services are classified as essential and therefore have not been interrupted. RESOURCE: To catch up on last week’s Covid-19 blog, click here… RESOURCE: The Smart Energy Council has a good What You...

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Recycling giant awarded generation licence for SA solar and battery plant

Recycling giant awarded generation licence for SA solar and battery plant

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 30 March 2020 – Australian cardboard packaging and recycling giant Visy has been cleared to send power to the grid from a nearly 2MW rooftop solar and battery storage system the company installed on a facility in Gepps Cross in Adelaide’s north. The South Australia Essential Services Commission said late last week that it had issued an electricity generation licence to Visy Board Pty to operate a 1.94MW commercial solar array at the recycling plant. The Gepps Cross system also has a 200kW/360kWh Tesla Powerpack battery storage system, which was installed alongside the solar by Living Energy, and designed by Energy Aware. Visy claims to have invested $A150 million in clean energy – including waste to energy plants in New South Wales and Victoria – since 2001. According to the Visy website, the Gepps Cross project – which was backed by $700,000 in funding from the South Australian government – will save the company $500,000 a year on energy costs, and cut the company’s scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 15 per cent. Living Energy notes that the impressive project comprised 5648 x 340W Trina Duomax 72 cell panels, 34 SMA 50kW Inverters and Clenergy Racking, as well as the Tesla battery...

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Reasons to be cheerful: US utility solar pipeline is ‘stronger than ever’

Reasons to be cheerful: US utility solar pipeline is ‘stronger than ever’

pv magazine Eric Wesoff 26 March 2020 “Even going into a pandemic, the market is well-positioned,” says a WoodMac analyst. WoodMac’s U.S. Solar Market Update webinar took a look back at the record PV installation results for 2019 — those long-ago simpler times — and looked ahead to 2020’s new solar landscape. Colin Smith, senior analyst at the fossil fuel and renewables research firm, gave some reasons to be cheerful. He said, ‘Even going into a pandemic, the market is well-positioned.” When the U.S. makes it through this episode When the U.S. makes it through this episode, there’s still 30.4 GW of new solar contracted. This is voluntary procurement driven by price, rather than mandate. Solar growth is driven by merchant projects in ERCOT with no off-take agreement — just selling into the power markets. And it’s driven by corporate procurement. These conditions are in place now and will be in place as we recover. Smith noted that “Economic competitiveness is still the primary driver” for solar, and that states without an RPS “are still seeing gigawatts come into play.” Despite the collapse of the economy and our species’ immune systems, Smith expects 2020 to beat 2016 as the biggest year for utility solar on record. He said that even with a 26% shortfall from their forecast, “2020 would be the biggest year for utility solar.” The forecast still maintains that by 2027, solar will make up more new capacity additions than coal, gas, hydro and wind combined. Risks Smith parsed the risks to utility projects into port shutdowns, component shortages, travel delays and site shutdowns. Best-case scenarios found delays of a a few weeks. Worst-case scenarios envision delays of 2 to 3 months. The risks from port shutdowns and component shortages are minimal compared to the “more severe” issues of travel delays and site shutdowns from infected employees. The need and the risk for employees and officials to interact with each during construction, permitting, and commissioning has the “highest probability” of pushing out key milestones on utility-scale projects, according to the analyst. Smith did note that there was plenty of room for social distancing on a 1,000-acre solar...

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Indigo Power launches crowd investment round to expand community owned renewables

Indigo Power launches crowd investment round to expand community owned renewables

One Step Off The Grid Mitchael Metzengarb 26 March 2020 Regional Victorian energy start-up Indigo Power has launched a crowd-sourced investment offer to accelerate new community energy hubs across regional communities in the state’s north east. Indigo Power was born out of the Totally Renewable Yackandandah project, which sought to transform the regional township, home to around a thousand people, to running completely on renewable electricity through solar and storage systems installed on local homes and businesses. The company is now seeking expressions of interest from potential investors to help expand the company’s reach across north-east Victoria, including the creation of a new community-owned electricity retailer to enable the trading and sharing of power between local members of the community. “Our goal is to power East Victoria with renewable energy. We know that everyday people working together can overcome huge challenges. So, we’re setting up community energy hubs to enable a community response to climate change, Indigo Power managing direct Ben McGowan told RenewEconomy. “We know that the electricity sector is the largest single driver of climate change. But we’ve also calculated that over $160 million leaves our region in electricity bills each year. We think a local energy provider, that sources as much local clean energy as possible, can help change that.” “We also believe that building a local renewable energy economy, with local ownership, can play an important role in the recovery of our region, after the bushfires, and after the current pandemic.” Indigo Power is hoping to replicate the Totally Renewable Yackandandah model across up to 31 additional community energy hubs centred at new townships in north-east regional Victoria. Through this expansion, Indigo Power is hoping to support the region reach 100 renewable electricity by 2030. The capital raising is open to all interested parties, but Indigo Power hopes to attract a significant level of interest from within the north-east Victorian region, in the hope that ownership of the company reflects the communities within which it is active. “We are 100% community-owned, and a certified social enterprise, which means that half any profits go to renewable energy projects in our region. We’re currently running a public share offering to give our community the chance to join Indigo Power as a shareholder from $100. We want an active shareholder base, and are looking to grow to over 300 shareholders,” McGowan added. “We will use the funds raised through the offer to increase local electricity supply through the delivery of more and better community energy hubs.” The company plans to deploy the investments raised to build up its systems and infrastructure to support the participation and coordination of community owned solar and energy storage resources, helping customers to understand where their electricity...

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Plans to direct climate funds to coal plant upgrades rejected by panel

Plans to direct climate funds to coal plant upgrades rejected by panel

Renew Economy Michael Mazengarb 24 March 2020 – A powerful committee tasked with maintaining the integrity of the federal government’s emissions reduction funding has rejected a proposal to open up a multi-billion dollar fund to upgrade coal plants, in a significant slap down of the coal lobby. Last year, the Morrison government asked the independent Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC) to consider a proposal to direct part of the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund towards supporting upgrades and repairs across Australia’s ailing fleet of coal fired generators. But in delivering its final report to the government, the ERAC said that it would be too difficult to account for situations where such upgrades simply extend the operational life of a coal plant and led to overall increases in Australia’s emissions. There were fears after a strong lobbying effort from the fossil fuel industry that the review would be used to justify opening up funding earmarked for emissions reduction activities to be redirected towards extending the operational life of coal fired generators. In particular, there had been a push for funds to be directed to the Vales Point power station in New South Wales, which is understood to have already secured more than $11 million in taxpayer funds to pay for repairs from the Morrison government under its controversial Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program. The owner of the Vales Point power station, Trevor St Baker, had lobbied the Morrison government for additional funds under the Climate Solutions Fund, to pay for a replacement of turbines at the ageing coal generator. St Baker, along with his business partners, purchased the 1,320MW Vales Point power station from the NSW government for just $1 million in 2015. The plant has subsequently been valued at more than $730 million, and has sought to draw upon tax payer funds to keep the 42-year old power station running. While former federal environment minister Melissa Price was unable to unilaterally direct the climate funds to the power station, she instigated a review of the fund to be completed by the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, partly to explore the potential of opening up the fund to coal generator upgrades. Currently, some facilities are able to receive recognition of emissions reductions achieved through upgrades and replacement to critical plant equipment, provided it reduces the overall emissions of the facility. But in its final report, the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee rejected the calls to expand the fund to coal generator upgrades saying it could not guarantee that such upgrades would not ultimately lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions in the long-term. The committee recognised the difficulties in providing government funding to any fossil fuel plant, noting that while upgrades may improve the efficiency of a plant,...

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Australian government stimulates PV in the face of COVID-19 threat

Australian government stimulates PV in the face of COVID-19 threat

pv magazine Blake Matich 23 March 2020 – The federal government’s ‘economic response to the coronavirus’ legislation encompasses the installation of commercial and industrial solar. With governments around the world and the EU rolling out the fiscal stimulus big guns in the face of widely predicted, COVID-19-related economic turmoil, Canberra’s economic response to the coronavirus policy package is a $17.6 billion (US$10.1 billion) scheme which includes PV in its remit. The policy attempts to provide a buffer for business against cliff-edge falls in demand prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and includes tax deduction incentives which could apply to the installation of commercial and industrial solar. “Like other economies around the world, the Australian economy is already feeling the effects of the global coronavirus outbreak,” stated the federal government. “The economic shock is likely to be significant … The package is front-loaded in order to instill confidence in businesses and households and help firms keep people employed. This will ensure that the economy is in the best possible position to recover as the shock subsides.” Support “Delivering support for business investment” is crucial, said the government on Friday. One prime means of supporting businesses might involve reducing the drain of energy bills. The stimulus package increases the ceiling for each ‘instant asset write-off’. Under Australian tax rules, eligible businesses can write the value of capital purchases for their firm – such as solar arrays – off their tax bill. Previously, each capital purchase had to cost no more than $30,000 and businesses had to have turnover of no more than $50 million to qualify. “The government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million, until 30 June, 2020,” the federal authorities announced. In an interview with the 9News TV program, prime minister Scott Morrison said the new rules would give businesses the “confidence” to purchase and install equipment “because they will be able to write-off completely, 100%”. The package also accelerated depreciation tax deductions under the “backing business investment” heading. Depreciation is the method of accounting for the expense of physical assets over the extent of their useful lifetime, effectively reducing company income for tax purposes by instalments rather than in one swoop when items are purchased. Under the new policy, which will apply until June 30 next year, “businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.” Large scale solar farms with turnover of no more than $500 million can, therefore, take advantage of the change to accounting rules. Risk The...

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A brave new digital world – my first weekend of social connection in isolation

A brave new digital world – my first weekend of social connection in isolation

Renew Economy Sam Parkinson 23 March 2020 – So much about the Covid-19 pandemic is novel. The new reality that we all must face and accept with little time to process. A reality where one of our strongest weapons against this novel virus lies in our ability to fight one of our most fundamental instincts – the human connection. Handshakes, kisses, hugs, having people over for dinner, meeting colleagues at a pub, visiting your relatives, playing with your nieces/nephews, going to the footy, seeing a gig, putting an arm around a mate. These are just some examples of the acts of human connection that we must now avoid for the foreseeable future. Weekends for me are mostly spent seeing friends and family. But last weekend was the first weekend in my life where those options were stripped away. My usual Sunday night dinner at my in-laws, going to the football with my mates, doing a trivia afternoon with a bunch of friends. All activities I knew I could no longer enjoy – in person at least. My life and work revolves in the digital space. I spend most of my days in front of a screen of some size. If I’m not on the computer doing work, I’m on my phone using social media, or my tablet or tv streaming tv shows and movies. This screen time is in many ways a necessity for me, for work, to access news. But I felt I was always on a precarious balancing act, figuring out where the line between necessary and excessive lay in my use of digital technology. The new reality I faced this past weekend changes things. My screen time no longer represents how many hours I haven’t been socially interacting with friends and family, screen time now forms almost 100% of my social interactions. A strange thought at first. Saturday night, the Sydney derby. For now, the A-League (rightly or wrongly) continues but without crowds. Myself and 3 season ticket-holder friends would normally be sitting next to each other and making witty remarks, shouting in joy or despair at the sporting events unfolding in front of us. What we found was we could still do this, for the most part, from our own living rooms. We used Facebook Messenger’s video chat software and synced our tv’s or tablets to make sure we were watching the game in sync. We made witty remarks, we shouted in joy and in despair, we laughed, we interacted. Sunday afternoon trivia. My wife sent out a Zoom invitation to over a dozen friends to take part in the weekend paper’s quiz, with one quizmaster in charge of reading out the questions. We had...

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Covid and climate: Can Morrison listen to experts to flatten that “other” curve?

Covid and climate: Can Morrison listen to experts to flatten that “other” curve?

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 20 March 2020 Here’s the good news. Prime minister Scott Morrison is not, it turns out, against listening to the experts and taking heed of their advice. It’s what he says he is doing each time he fronts the media when discussing his action on Covid-19, or the Coronavirus, even if some argue that he’s taking an each-way bet on the economy and the nation’s health. The threat of a run-away escalation of the Coronavirus in Australia, and the scramble of government policy trying to head it off at the pass, has become the all-consuming theme of this past week. Whatever happens, this short but crucial period will go down in history as The Critical Week during which state and federal governments did or did not act firmly enough and early enough to avoid a devastating health crisis. For many, it’s a strikingly familiar scenario. It is a study, in miniature, of Australia’s response to the climate emergency. This Critical Week for the containment of Covid-19 Australia – we’ve all seen that J-curve that the government says is important to flatten – is the Critical Decade for climate policy, the small window when we had our best chance of limiting dangerous global warming to around 1.5°C. our world in data: The debate over when to shut down schools and enforce strict isolation measures in order to prevent an infection rate that would undoubtedly overwhelm Australia’s health system could be the debate over when to shut down coal power in time to replace it with renewables and storage. People choosing to self-isolate, or pulling their kids out of school ahead of orders from on high, could be households and businesses going it alone on solar and batteries – doubtless the right decision for them but potentially disruptive to the system as a whole. Coronavirus and climate change are even attracting the same brand of denial, and from the same trusty sources, with 2GB Radio shock-jock Alan Jones earlier this week describing COVID-19 as just “the health version of global warming.” In each case, what is sorely needed is united and decisive political leadership, informed by science. Speaking from experience gleaned from outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, World Health Organisation executive director Michael Ryan put the importance of this leadership very plainly. “You need to act quickly… You need to stop the chains of transmission. You need to engage with communities very deeply; community acceptance is hugely important. You need to be coordinated, you need to be coherent, you need to look at the other sectoral impacts. “The lessons I’ve learned after so many Ebola outbreaks in my career are, be fast. Have no regrets. You must be...

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Ladakh could generate 60 GW from solar plants

Ladakh could generate 60 GW from solar plants

pv magazine Uma Gupta 19 March 2020 – In addition to India’s largest 7.5 GW solar project, the government is planning a Rs 11,000-crore power transmission project for Ladakh. India’s union territory of Ladakh—which has a peak electricity demand of 50 MW—has massive solar potential of around 60 GW (including 35 GW in Leh and 25 GW in Kargil district). This information was shared by power minister R.K. Singh in Parliament recently. The government has been quick to announce major infrastructure projects for Ladakh, realizing the union territory’s potential for production of solar energy, which could be a boon for the entire country. The government has planned India’s largest solar project of 7.5 GW (4.5 GW in Leh and 2.5 GW in Kargil) and two solar plants each of 7 MW capacity with 21 MWh battery energy storage system in Leh and Kargil. This apart, a 50 MW solar project is planned for Leh. “The 7.5 GW solar project with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore will be completed in 4 years. This will not only bring development in the Ladakh region but also create employment opportunities,” announced Union Home Minister Amit Shah in November last year. The government intends to roll out further projects based on the feedback of the prospective bidders after their visit to the proposed sites of solar installation. “Site visits are required to be undertaken by prospective bidders and the same would be taken up after melting of snow and gaining accessibility to the sites. Based on inputs from the prospective bidders, further tendering activities would be taken up,” shared the power minister. Further, to resolve grid connectivity challenge, the government plans a Rs 11,000-crore power transmission project for Ladakh. Under the project, a 900-km power transmission link will be set up to help large solar and wind energy projects in Ladakh to supply electricity to the people of Leh and Kargil districts, besides defence establishments, during harsh winters and also help transmit surplus power to the rest of the country in...

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Solar, storage and active energy management will be key to innovative eco district project

Solar, storage and active energy management will be key to innovative eco district project

pv magazine Jean Haggerty 18 March 2020 – A Spokane, Washington-based eco-district that the partners say will be home to the smartest five blocks in the world. Avista Utilities and the construction engineering company McKinstry are testing a series of solar-plus-storage solutions, active energy management techniques and smart building technologies at a Spokane, Washington-based eco-district that the partners say will be home to the smartest five blocks in the world. The South Landing Eco District will play an important role in helping Avista achieve its clean electricity goals by 2045, but the ultimate goal is larger. “This is about supporting an efficient optimization of the grid,” Nick Edney, senior electrical engineer at McKinstry said. “In the renewable energy space, it’s never a one-size-fits all… We are looking at the energy system comprehensively and thinking holistically,” said Jeff Hughes, McKinstry’s director of renewable energy. The partners also plan to leverage the research and development team work so that they can learn about the system, he added. The overarching aim, however, is to develop scalable innovations that can be replicated, even when retrofitting buildings, said Heather Rosentrater, senior vice president for energy delivery and shared services at Avista. “[The district’s] active energy sharing system will give Avista an opportunity to test progress and pass on the innovations and savings system-wide and with the building owners [while] meeting their needs,” Rosentrater said. “We want to help companies move to clean energy systems in the most affordable way possible,” she added. To achieve maximum efficiency and sustainability, the eco-district will operate on a shared energy management model in which the energy needs – heating, cooling and electricity – for multiple buildings in the complex will be coordinated through a central energy plant located at the district’s Scott Morris Center for Energy Innovation (SMC). Through the system, waste heat will be captured and transferred to serve heating needs within the district, and solar arrays will be used to offset the district’s central energy plant’s load. Excess solar generation will be dispatched to the district’s other buildings and either stored in battery storage systems, converted to thermal energy and stored in thermal storage tanks, and/or exported to the grid. “There is a strong incentive to balance load and generation by self-consuming or storing as much PV generation [within the district] as possible,” Edney said. Rooftop installations on the Catalyst Building and the SMC will generate 277 kW of solar power. DC collection architecture The Catalyst Building and the SMC building’s solar arrays were designed with a DC collection architecture. “[This] means the DC energy is brought from the rooftops to the centralized energy plant at the SMC to serve multiple buildings on a real-time basis,” Hughes said. To...

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Study of 100,000 arrays finds proactive O&M preferable

Study of 100,000 arrays finds proactive O&M preferable

pv magazine Marian Willuhn 18 March 2020 – The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined five-year data to observe the most common system failure points and how to prevent them. Researchers considered residential, commercial and utility scale plants and found interesting results. While failures cannot be avoided completely, a key takeaway was that close monitoring and timely repair can effectively mitigate the financial effects of failures. The Alamosa Solar Generating Project consists of over 500 dual-axis, pedestal mounted tracker assemblies, each producing 60 kW. Each tracker assembly is 70 ft. wide by 50 ft high and contains 7,560 fresnal lenses that concentrate sunlight by a multiple of 500 onto muIti junction cells. Alamosa Solar is located on 225 acres in the San Luis Valley near Alamosa, CO. The vast majority of PV systems in the U.S. perform within 10% of their predicted output level according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which examined performance data from 100,000 PV installations to arrive at the conclusion. Researchers were trying to establish whether an economic stimulus package introduced as one of the first acts of the Obama administration had inadvertently inventivized quality issues in solar projects. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) incentivized clean energy investment rather than directly rewarding power output. The results of the NREL analysis have been published in the paper PV field reliability status—Analysis of 100 000 solar systems, published in Progress in Photovoltaics. The datasets generated from the 100,000 systems equated to 7 GW of generation capacity – 7% of the installed solar capacity of the U.S. at the time of the study. At least five years’ worth of output data was considered, along with technical specifications such as mounting configurations – floating, tracker etc – and inverter loading ratios. Module reliability The researchers found around 80-90% of the systems studied generated output within a 10% margin of their predicted production levels or better. Some 56% of installations performed within their ‘P50 expectation’ – a statistical measure that indicates a 50% chance projects will generate more than a specified output figure. On the flip side, however, 7,000 of the systems studied performed below their P90 expectation. The NREL team also discovered there was only a 0.02-0.2% chance of module problems occurring in the datasets studied. By contrast, inverter issues cropped up with a regularity of 4-6%. Meters were also flagged as potentially problematic, thanks to issues ranging from communication problems and precise data logging to complete failures. Although data collection problems could be addressed without full replacement of meters, that step was necessary in three-quarters of the cases of meter failure observed. Overall, hardware issues affected 9% of the systems studied over the five-year period. The research revealed close monitoring and proactive maintenance measures could mitigate the biggest power losses caused...

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Win for energy “disenfrachised” as Orange community solar project goes ahead

Win for energy “disenfrachised” as Orange community solar project goes ahead

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 13 March 2020 – A community solar and battery storage plant planned for the central western New South Wales city of Orange will go ahead with the backing of the state government, the project’s developers have said. The Orange Community Renewable Energy Park, which will combine 5MWW of solar PV and a 5MWh battery energy storage system, was one of seven beneficiaries of grant funding from the NSW government’s Regional Community Energy Fund this week. A statement from Energy Democracy, the cooperative that will own the completed Orange Community Renewable Energy Park, said the project was focused on assisting those who had been “disenfranchised” in Orange and the Central West region through an inability to install rooftop solar. “The list of who can benefit is significant,” the statement said, “including SMEs, people living in heritage zones or treed areas, people in apartment buildings or living in rental accommodation, and anyone else who for any reason is unable to have solar on their roof.” Alan Major, the managing diretor of Energy Democracy, said the co-op would also actively help members to understand how they were using energy, to help them to be more efficient. “Energy savings can be traded for the benefit of the co-operative. The co-operative then decides how surpluses are to be distributed, in consultation with the members,” the statement said. As reported on RenewEconomy last month, the Orange solar and battery project is being developed by ITP Renewables, around 6km north-west of the town centre of Orange, and will supply roughly 12GWh of electricity a year to the Essential Energy grid. At that time, ITP Renewables had said it could not go into any further detail on the “community” aspect of project until it had agreement from all parties. In its statement on Friday, Energy Democracy said that detailed information about joining the co-operative that will own the Orange Community Renewable Energy Park would become available in the weeks ahead. Those interest can register now at www.ed-co-op.com/new-south-wales/central-west-nsw/ and follow the link to the registration...

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Solar and batteries in demand as Coronavirus encourages shift to “self-reliance”

Solar and batteries in demand as Coronavirus encourages shift to “self-reliance”

One Step Off the Grid Sophie Vorrath 19 March 2020 – Concerns around the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the Australian solar industry have shifted from supply to demand as manufacturers in China resume business-almost-as-usual, but the local economy braces for a major hit. In a Smart Energy Council-led webinar on Thursday morning, industry leaders talked over the impact of the COVID-19 – on society in general and, in particular, on Australia’s rooftop solar and battery storage industry. The key message was that solar remains one of the “lucky” sectors in the current crisis; being so closely tied to an essential service, and one of few investments that can honestly claim to offer households and businesses significant cost savings in increasingly uncertain times. And it could be a particularly good time for battery storage to start gaining ground in the Australian residential market, as solar households look for ways to make the absolute most of their rooftop-generated energy, what with everyone working and schooling from home. “In my opinion, our focus has to be on creating self-reliant solutions for families,” said Sam Craft, operations manager at NRG Solar who is also on the board of the SEC. Craft said that while some retailers had reported less inquiries about rooftop solar for households, there had been an uptick in leads on battery storage and black-out protection. “We have (some) saying that their number of (rooftop solar) leads are down, but that the value of those leads is up,” thanks to the addition of battery storage, Craft said. Lliam Ricketts, a director of Brisbane-based solar distributor Supply Partners, warned that retailers and installers should brace for a rise in system prices, off the back of falls in the US and Australian dollar. “One of the big impacts to pricing on solar panels will be foreign exchange,” Ricketts said. “Panels, inverters, and other component costs will be affected and your base price is most likely to go up. It will affect your bottom line.” But on a positive note, Ricketts said a key area of potential growth could be commercial solar – and particularly the 100kW-plus segment – thanks to the latest increase in the federal government’s tax break on capital purchases. “Talk to the customer about the value of the system,” Ricketts told the webinar. “Remind them that there is currently this really generous federal government incentive. SEC CEO John Grimes agreed. “We can buck the trend against an economic recession. …This is an industry that can thrive. “The message to business needs to be, ‘Yep, everything is turning to poo. Yet I just got a tax write-down on my solar system and now it’s saving me money’.” But with...

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Cheap renewables putting $639 billion of new coal investments at risk

Cheap renewables putting $639 billion of new coal investments at risk

pv magazine Marian Willuhn 17 March 2020 The Carbon Tracker Initiative crunched some numbers and discovered that more than half a trillion dollars worth of coal investments are at serious risk due to the declining cost of renewables. Despite the steady flow of reports about new solar projects, there are still hundreds of gigawatts of coal capacity in the global pipeline. Throughout the world, energy companies and governments are now planning 499 GW of coal-fired capacity, including projects that have been announced and permitted, as well as plants that are now under construction. Increasingly cheap renewables are outcompeting coal-fired power stations, according to a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The independent financial think tank says that $638 billion of investments in new coal assets could be lost if the projects are actually built, because they will struggle to compete on cost with renewables. It reached this harsh conclusion by comparing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for renewable assets with the long-run marginal cost (LRMC) of coal-fired units. The LRMC includes the cost of operating a thermal power station, which includes fuel, transportation, installation and acquisition costs, as well as O&M services. Inflection points Two economic inflection points are critical to understanding the relative competitiveness of coal power. When renewable energy is cheaper than energy generated by new investments in coal When renewable energy is cheaper than generating electricity using existing coal assets The team used GCPEM, a proprietary techno-economic simulation model that tracks ~95% of operating, under-construction, and announced or pre-permitted coal facilities. The figures show that the first inflection point has already occurred in all major markets in the world. The second inflection point will have occurred in all major markets by 2030. In 2018, the Carbon Tracker Initiative published Powering Down Coal: Navigating the economic and financial risks in the last years of coal power. The authors sourced data on LCOE and the cost of renewables and concluded that by 2025, coal generation will become uneconomic in absolute and relative terms. Now, the think tank is saying that its assumptions were too conservative and that the energy market has already reached that point. The second inflection point – the year when the LCOE of renewables outcompetes the LRMC of coal – is where existing coal assets will start to become economically obsolete. According to Carbon Tracker, 60% of the global coal power fleet has already reached this point, with the trend being most pronounced in the European Union. A confluence of comparatively high carbon prices and years of more substantial investments in renewable assets have enabled this economic development in Europe. However, the United States, China, and India are not far behind Europe due to their excellent...

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SunPower to sell 11 MW of capacity in New England’s grid

SunPower to sell 11 MW of capacity in New England’s grid

pv magazine William Driscoll 17 March 2020 SunPower has joined Sunrun in committing to sell capacity to the New England grid by aggregating household solar installations. SunPower will sell nearly 11 MW of capacity to the New England grid in 2023-2024 by aggregating the capacity of nearly 1,400 household solar installations into a virtual power plant. SunPower made the commitment in the New England grid’s annual capacity auction, which is intended to secure the capacity needed to meet peak power demands. SunPower will sell capacity at a price of about $2 per kW-month, which translates to about $260,000 for the year, or about $190 per installation. The capacity auction secured a total of 34 GW of capacity obligations across New England. SunPower’s capacity commitment follows that of Sunrun, which last year successfully bid to provide 20 MW of capacity to the New England grid for 2022-2023, using solar-plus-storage installations. “We look forward to exploring future virtual power plant opportunities with our complete Equinox home solar-plus-storage system,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner in a press statement. The statement implied that SunPower will meet its 11 MW of obligated capacity with solar-plus-storage. SunPower works with its dealer network to sell and install home solar solutions. Partnering with SunPower in its capacity bid was CPower Energy Management, a demand-side energy management company. “To unlock the value” of distributed energy resources such as solar and storage, “we have to allow DERs to provide grid services,” said GridLab Executive Director Ric O’Connell, at a conference of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council last week. Those grid services start with capacity, he...

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Reporting from Shanghai on implications of the outbreak on the solar supply chain

Reporting from Shanghai on implications of the outbreak on the solar supply chain

pv magazine Vincent Shaw 14 March 2020 – A viral outbreak in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, has become a nationwide health crisis with global implications. And with PV manufacturing concentrated in China, there are serious implications for all corners of the solar world, reports Vincent Shaw in Shanghai. The coronavirus outbreak currently gripping China first began during the traditional Lunar New Year period – the country’s most important holiday. The disease, labeled Covid-19 by the World Health Organization, is still claiming lives, but it also has far-reaching economic implications. At the time of publication, confirmed infections had surpassed 77,000, with the death toll exceeding 2,500. Given that China is the manufacturing hub of the global solar industry, there are real reasons to believe that the contagion of severe supply-chain disruption could spread quickly. The economic impact of Covid-19 has been far-reaching – and the data tells the story. Statistics from six major China power groups show that average daily power generation dropped by around 40% in February. China’s Ministry of Transport reported that passenger numbers up to Feb. 10 – which encompasses almost all of the holiday season – plunged by 82% from the previous year. The transportation of goods also fell. The China Express Association reported that delivery volumes declined by 95% year on year throughout the holiday season. Figures from several important national pillar industries also reveal serious disruption. In February, transactions in the real estate market decreased by 90% compared with 2019. Car sales declined by 21.5% year on year in January, with this figure estimated to reach -40% in February. Similar impacts Similar impacts have been registered in China’s PV industry, with the entire industry suffering from several key problems. The central government officially extended the one-week spring festival holiday from Jan. 24-30 by an additional 10 days, followed by similar extensions from many local governments for another week, to ensure that quarantine periods were sufficient to stop the spread of the coronavirus. With mounting pressure on government and health officials – and also a growing need to allay fears among the general population – some local governments have issued stricter review procedures, making it even more difficult for people to return to work. Additional to the restriction of movement, manufacturing workers who traveled home for the holiday period have found it very hard and even impossible to return to their places of work – which for many people are in other cities or provinces. This has been particularly pronounced in Hubei itself, but also in nearby provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu – home to many PV companies. Even when workers do succeed in returning to work, they face cumbersome quarantine procedures...

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NSW clears path for 17GW wind, solar and storage capacity with new renewable zones

NSW clears path for 17GW wind, solar and storage capacity with new renewable zones

Renew Economy Michael Metzengarb 14 March 2020 – The NSW Coalition government has reaffirmed a commitment to an ambitious ramp-up of wind, solar and storage capacity in the state of up to 17,700MW as being key to the state’s path to achieving zero net emissions by 2050. In the Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020–2030 released on the weekend, the NSW government has detailed how the state government will work to leverage $2 billion in funds secured under a bilateral deal with the Morrison government to accelerate the deployment of the state’s first Renewable Energy Zone. The NSW government identified a set of core priorities for the next ten years of energy system development, at the centre of which is the deployment of “proven emissions reduction technologies”, which will see the state support increases in wind and solar generation as it deals with the looming exit of its coal generation fleet. As announced in January, the NSW government will seek to establish a 3,000MW pilot Renewable Energy Zone in the state’s central-west region, around the township of Dubbo, In its newly released Net Zero Plan, the NSW government outlines how it will also progress work to establish an additional two Renewable Energy Zones, based in the South-West and New England regions of the State, delivering up to a combined 17,700MW of new clean energy generation and storage capacity. “Where there are technologies that can reduce both our emissions and costs for households and businesses, we want to roll them out across the State. Where these technologies are not yet commercial, we want to invest in their development so they will be available in the decades to come,” energy minister Matt Kean said at the launch of the plan. Each zone will potentially support several thousand megawatts of wind, solar and storage projects, along with coordinated investments in transmission network infrastructure that will link the regions rich with wind and solar resources with the rest of the National Electricity Market. The South West Renewable Energy Zone will be based around the regional township of Hay, and has the potential to attract as much as 4,950MW of additional generation capacity, The New England Renewable Energy Zone, centred around the town of Armidale, that the NSW government also expects could support an additional 5,500MW of new generation capacity, building upon the strong presence of wind generation that has already been established in the region. Source: NSW Government The zones mirror those proposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator, and subsequently detailed in the NSW government’s Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, which identified the regions as having good access to high quality wind and solar resources, that could be coordinated with new investments in additional transmission network capacity. Coordinating these investments could...

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Renewables will pave the path out of recession to recovery, says Garnaut

Renewables will pave the path out of recession to recovery, says Garnaut

pv magazine Blake Matich 13 March 2020 – Economist Ross Garnaut believes the cure for a corona virus hit and recession bound economy is strong investment in renewables, in our future energy infrastructure. Speaking at a CEDA lunch in Brisbane on Wednesday, and reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, economist Ross Garnaut says that the cure for a coronavirus-hit economy sliding into its first recession in 30 years, is for the government to throw money into renewable energies.  Garnaut told the SMH that the country could not stop its slide into a recession, but it could “shape the way we come out of it”. “Even if there was no disruption in Australia from the virus, what has already happened to the economies of our major trading partners is deeply damaging to the Australian economy,” said Garnaut.  The effects of the outbreak are already being felt. South Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem has warned customers of potential shortages after its production facilities closed, and U.S.-owned market intelligence firm Wood Mackenzie has predicted the Chinese battery industry is also likely to suffer from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus outbreak in China may have a months-long impact on the Australian solar sector with PV module stockpiles likely to be exhausted soon. After discussing the coronavirus impact with a few key solar panel manufacturers, Solar Juice co-founder and head of supply, Rami Fedda said in a video message on LinkedIn in February that it seemed the impact on the supply chain would most likely cause a PV module shortage. “The pure economics say right now is exactly the right time for major investment in the industries and infrastructure of the future,” advised Garnaut. “If we get the economics right, this will be a time we focus on investment for the future rather than stimulus that isn’t guided by strategic opportunity.”  Garnaut noted that Queensland is especially well-positioned for this opportunity due to its natural resources of iron, aluminium and other raw minerals. As well as its obvious solar potential, it is, after all, the Sunshine State.  Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham concurred with Garnaut. “I agree entirely with Ross, and he knows I do,” said Lynham, “there is a lot of investment required in a transition into a renewable energy future. You spend now but the benefits come later.”  A new report from financial think-tank Carbon Tracker has found that coal developers risk wasting more than $600 billion due to stubborn resistance to the already cheaper electricity resources provided by renewable energies worldwide. The report finds, in short, that a new coal plant is about as prudent an investment today as a Clydesdale and cart. And yet the Australian government is yet to disavow itself of planned coal projects.  There will always...

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Clean energy industry events postponed over coronavirus pandemic fears

Clean energy industry events postponed over coronavirus pandemic fears

pv magazine Marija Maisch 13 March 2020  – As the disease continues to spread, its impact on the clean energy industry is growing with the cancellation or postponement of major trade shows and conferences that were set to take place over the next few weeks. Amid fears surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, key events for the solar industry are being canceled or postponed around the world. In Australia, several conferences organized by the Clean Energy Council (CEC), the Smart Energy Council (SEC) and the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) have been moved to later dates as the state and federal governments advise against mass gatherings and all international travel in an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic. The Clean Energy Council announced on Thursday that it had postponed all six of the scheduled events in March and April. The upcoming events that will now be postponed are Perth Member Mixer, CEO Forum, Parliamentary Reception, Perth Installer Night, Wind Industry Forum, and Adelaide Installer Night. “We understand the effect the COVID-19 situation is having on many of our members, installers and stakeholders, especially in relation to meetings and events,” the CEC said in its announcement. “We have not taken this decision lightly and wanted to provide as much notice as possible of any changes to our events program.” New event details are yet to be announced, the CEC said it would continue to monitor the situation and seek advice in regard to events scheduled beyond April 30. The Smart Energy Council on Friday announced the postponement of its Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition in Sydney, moving it from 7-8 April to 29-30 September due to the potential impact of COVID-19. “We have listened to the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has declared a global pandemic, the advice from the Australian Government, and the NSW Premier’s comments on 11 March foreshadowing potential restrictions to large public events in NSW,” SEC CEO John Grimes said. Unlike many others, the SEC has managed to secure new dates for the event, which will still take place at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour in Sydney. “We have been very fortunate to secure dates for our event later this year,” Grimes said. “This will be a busy time for large events in the smart energy calendar, however we know the industry will be keen to get back to work and showcase their businesses and success stories as soon as possible.” On Friday, the Energy Efficiency Council also confirmed that they would postpone the National Energy Efficiency Conference, originally scheduled to take place in Melbourne on May 26-27. The Council is still working to determine a revised date for the conference in the second half of 2020. “We...

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BNEF lowers 2020 global PV outlook due to coronavirus concerns

BNEF lowers 2020 global PV outlook due to coronavirus concerns

pv magazine Sandra Enkhardt 13 March 2020 – Many solar factories in China are starting to resume production, suggesting that concerns about supplies of PV components could soon begin to ease. Nevertheless, the temporary standstill will have an impact on the global solar market, as the implementation of some projects will probably be postponed until next year. BloombergNEF (BNEF) published its outlook for the PV industry on Thursday, as the world braces for a global economic downturn due to the coronavirus outbreak. But while stocks and oil prices are already falling, the full extent of the unfolding crisis is still not clear. BNEF reports that production of PV components is starting to resume in China. This could alleviate pressure on supplies of key components and equipment. However, there will be shortages in the short term. The current situation in China has shown that the value chain for renewable energy needs to be regionally diversified, says BNEF. More production facilities are also needed in Asia, Europe and the United States – especially for batteries. “We are currently more concerned about demand,” BNEF said. The Chinese government has already pushed some PV projects that had been planned for this year into 2021. BNEF has therefore also reduced its expectations for newly installed PV capacity in 2020. It expects developers to install between 108 GW and 143 GW of new solar capacity this year. This contrasts sharply with the forecast that BNEF issued in February for annual global PV capacity additions of 121 GW to 152 GW. BNEF’s revised forecast suggests that the global PV market could be poised for a significant contraction this...

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