Residential Demand Response to Play Key Role Managing US Load This Summer

Heading into summer 2020, looming uncertainty about electricity demand makes flexibility more vital than ever in the United States. In particular, residential demand response faces more pressure than usual as many people continue to work from home over the next few months. Since the economy’s reopening will be gradual, grid operators need not be too concerned that system peak demand will make demand response events necessary. However, some residential-only distribution feeders may face increasing pressure as air conditioning load rises. Already, some vendors providing customer engagement, analytics and demand response services for residential programs are

With the Country Distracted, Trump’s Deregulation Push Accelerates

While the country is distracted by infection rates, deaths and protests, what else have we been missing? This week on The Energy Gang, we peek out from behind the quarantine curtain to see what the Trump administration has been up to on the energy front. The Trump administration has declared a national emergency over cyber

Lightsource BP Wins Solar Project That Would Double Large-Scale Capacity in Arkansas

Lightsource BP, the U.K.-based solar developer backed by BP, secured a power-purchase agreement for a 132-megawatt solar project in Arkansas that would nearly double that state’s utility-scale capacity, currently at 147 megawatts. Municipal utility Conway Corporation will use power from the project, called Happy Solar, which is slated for commercial operation in 2022. The project — finalized from the living rooms and home offices of company executives

Solar Industry’s Next Innovation: Navigating Impacts of Coronavirus

“Nobody knows anything.” Screenwriter William Goldman’s observation about the impossibility of predicting the success or failure of a movie is an apt way to describe COVID-19’s impacts on the global solar industry. During a March webinar, the CEOs of large solar and wind developers including Pattern Energy, Origin Energy, Longroad Energy and SunPower leaned on descriptions such as “fluid,” “dynamic” and “complex” to describe both the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and their

Virginia Mandates 100% Clean Power by 2050

Virginia has become the latest state to pass a law that sets it on a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, as well as setting targets for massive investments in energy efficiency, energy storage, and in-state solar and wind power. The Clean Economy Act passed Virginia’s House of Delegates by a 51-45 vote on Thursday and the state Senate by a 22-17 vote on Friday, clearing the way for the bill to be signed by Governor Ralph Northam, who issued an executive order

Blackstone Buys NRStor C&I for Industrial Battery Development in Ontario and Beyond

Private equity fund Blackstone Energy Partners has bought its way into the commercial and industrial energy storage market by acquiring Toronto-based NRStor C&I. The deal, announced Wednesday, gives Blackstone a portfolio of 200 megawatt-hours of customer-sited storage in operation, under construction or under contract. It marks a particular vote of confidence in the Ontario market, which has become one of the most dynamic regions in North America for large behind-the-meter storage. A provincial demand charge known as the Global Adjustment charge provides a hefty price signal for large industrial facilities to cut their demand during system peak hours throughout the year. This rule has

Meet the Expert Cataloging Every Climate Solution

This week, we have a special addendum to our deep decarbonization draft. We’re talking with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, the vice president of communication and engagement at Project Drawdown. Katharine is one of the minds behind the Project Drawdown solutions list that we used as the basis for our draft. We chose the list because

The European Investment Bank Has Quit Fossil Fuels. Now What?

COPENHAGEN — With an annual outlay in the energy sector of €15 billion ($16.6 billion), the European Investment Bank is one of the sector’s biggest lenders. And for every euro the EIB puts into a project or business, around seven more are invested by the private sector. That’s around €120 billion ($133 billion) of public and private investment in the energy sector that stems from the EIB’s choices. According to the International Energy Agency, global renewables investment in 2018 amounted to $300 billion. So the EIB's confirmation last month that it would effectively end support for fossil fuels

Sacramento Wants to Electrify Its Homes, Low-Income Families Included

“No one has more to gain from electrification than low-income and moderate-income households.” With that, Scott Blunk set the agenda for a small team that had gathered at a Utah ski resort earlier this year to address a thorny challenge: How does a not-for-profit municipal utility that has committed to eliminate carbon from buildings ensure that its most disadvantaged customers aren’t left behind during the transition? Blunk, a strategic planner with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), had assembled a diverse group of stakeholders with expertise in energy policy, green building, energy efficiency retrofits and

Can Tesla’s Cybertruck Shape the Burgeoning Electric Truck Market?

Truck buyers are historically some of the most brand-loyal auto consumers But recent surveys suggest that loyalty is loosening. Into the picture steps Elon Musk, who dropped the Tesla Cybertruck last month. This space-age truck concept is truly putting the shift in consumer preferences to the test. It’s also tearing a lot of opinionated people apart. In this episode: what is the Cybertruck and where might it fit into the emerging electric truck market? And can it sway truck buyers who don't care about Tesla? Then, there’s a major tax

7 Projects That Could Put the US Ahead in Floating Offshore Wind

The U.S. is late to the offshore wind party compared to Europe and China. And the injection of new regulatory uncertainty in the shape of permitting delays at Vineyard Wind's 800-megawatt project won't help firm up supply-chain investment. Many of the largest U.S. offshore wind projects are backed by

First Solar Inks 1.7GW Series 6 Module Deal With Intersect Power

First Solar has inked a deal to supply 1.7 gigawatts of its solar modules to Intersect Power, as solar manufacturers and U.S. developers race to push through projects in advance of the wind-down of federal Investment Tax Credit. Tuesday’s announcement, made during the first day of the Solar Power International conference, marks the biggest order yet for the Arizona-based solar manufacturer's Series 6 larger-format thin-film solar modules

AMS Makes Money for Wind Farms by Turning Them Off

Advanced Microgrid Solutions branched out of commercial storage development in 2017, promising big things in the energy software space. Last October, the company signaled an interest in Australia's fast-paced energy market. A period of radio silence ensued. The quiet period is over. In the intervening time, AMS signed five commercial contracts in Australia to algorithmically dispatch 2,000 megawatts of renewables and storage, founder

From Science Project to Money Maker: Energy Storage Hits Inflection Point

In 2014, the vast majority of storage projects Greensmith Energy was working on might have best been described as science projects, often dependent on grants or utility R&D budgets devoted to figuring out emerging technologies. But there was one 20-megawatt project in PJM territory that was unlike all of the

First Solar Ends Q2 With More Losses But ‘Wins on the Board’

Despite record module production and shipments in the second quarter of the year, First Solar reported another quarterly loss on Thursday. First Solar attributed its $18.5 million shortfall — a decrease from the $67.6 million in losses reported last quarter — to increases in operating costs, which offset a boost in module and systems revenue. Though CEO Mark Widmar said on a Thursday earnings call that First Solar “put a number of wins on the board” in Q

More Delays Likely for Vogtle Nuclear Plant, Georgia Regulator Says

Georgia's Vogtle nuclear plant expansion is already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, and it may get delayed once again. The Georgia Public Service Commission Public Interest Advocacy Staff this week published an evaluation of the most recent reassessment of project timeline and cost for Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The good news: Staff concluded that the latest analysis by Southern Nuclear Company, the Southern Company subsidiary overseeing plant construction, was “generally sound.” That's notable, seeing as Staff recommended canceling

Gains for Greens in European Parliament Buoy Clean Energy Outlook

The prospects for renewable energy in Europe were buoyed by a strong showing for green parties in this month’s European Parliament elections, even though they performed below expectations, analysts said. The elections, which took place last week across 28 European Union member states, including the Brexit-fixated U.K., saw green parties grouped under the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) banner becoming the fourth most important force in the Parliament. Talk of a “green wave” ultimately proved exaggerated, in an election marked by concerns over the rise of right-wing populist Eurosceptic groups such as Northern League in Italy.

Is China Ready for Subsidy-Free Renewables?

Subsidies play a key role in renewables project development in China, and for years have placed a major financial burden on the Renewable Energy Development Fund managed by China’s central government. By the end of 2018, the fund had already accumulated a deficit of over RMB 100 billion ($14.5 billion). China wants to reach its wind and solar power grid parity targets by 2020, so that electricity created by these sources can be sold to the grid at the same price as coal-fired power. To achieve this, the

California’s Gas Plant Pipeline Dwindles as Calpine Drops Mission Rock Application

Independent power producer Calpine has abandoned plans to build a new natural-gas plant in Southern California, swelling the ranks of recently canceled fossil fuel plants in the state. The company withdrew its application for the Mission Rock plant in a letter to the California Energy Commission dated May 21. That decision ended a years-long conflict over the permitting of the plant, a 255-megawatt combustion turbine facility planned on the banks of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. The Native American Chumash people opposed the plant as a disruption to a river environment that

‘Every Asset We Deploy in the Field Has the Potential to Become a Sensor’

JEA, the municipal utility in Jacksonville, Florida, has become a leader in the state's residential energy storage landscape with the introduction of a rebate program and an updated net metering structure. It is considered as one of the most innovative municipal utilities in the country. Julio Romero Agüero is JEA’s Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer, and

Bifacial or Bust? Engineering Solar Financings of the Future

The solar industry hates stasis, which is exemplified by industry members’ self-proclaimed rides on “the solar coaster.” Solar trade shows and conferences are filled with companies looking to provide solar with its “next big thing.” One of solar energy’s (literal) shiny new objects — bifacial modules — has been a hot topic at these conferences and in news articles for a few years now. Until recently, most of the potential benefits of bifacial modules have remained… potential. However, bifacial modules are starting to transition from theory into reality, as more projects around the world and in the United States specify bifacial

US and Latin America Take Top Spots Again in the Growing Solar Tracker Market

The global solar PV tracker market grew by 20 percent last year, and the U.S. and Latin America remained the largest markets for tracker technology. Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables breaks down the global tracker market by megawatts shipped and by region in a new report. “PV tracker shipments exceeded expectations and surpassed 20 gigawatts last year, with 36 percent year-over

AEP Bounces Back From Wind Catcher Cancellation With 1.2GW RFP

Southwestern Electric Power Company this week released a request for proposals for up to 1.2 gigawatts of wind resources, six months after the cancellation of its ambitious Wind Catcher project. SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), said it will accept proposals of 100+ megawatts until March 1. Projects should be put into service before December 15, 2021 to take advantage of at least 80 percent of the federal Production Tax Credit. AEP nixed the Wind Catcher project in July, after a regulatory tussle and an ultimate rejection from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Despite that high-profile setback — Wind Catcher was to be the largest U.S. wind project at