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Renewable Energy Update
April 14, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

California solar spike leads to negative CAISO real-time prices in March

Utility Dive - Apr 10 Solar capacity on the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) system spiked last year, leading to negative prices at times when output is highest but demand is not. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), total solar capacity in California (including both distributed and utility-scale systems) grew from less than 1 gigawatt in 2007 to nearly 14 gigawatts by the end of last year. The rapid growth has led to low power prices in March, when energy demand is relatively low and solar production is high. On one day last month, real-time CAISO prices dipped below $0/MWh for roughly six hours, EIA said.


Renewables and efficiency are eating away at America’s fossil fuel demand

Greentech Media - Apr 10 America's energy transition is no longer theoretical. Wind and solar are increasingly the lowest-cost resources getting connected to the grid, changing the investment calculus for utilities and dominating new capacity builds. Electricity demand nationwide continues to fall, even as millions more square feet of buildings are constructed. And in states across the country, distributed solar is decimating load growth. These trends are adding up. According to research conducted by Wood Mackenzie, in the next five years, gross fossil fuel demand is expected to rise by 4 billion to 5 billion cubic feet per day. Largely driven by lighting standards and other state mandates, efficiency alone will cut fossil fuel demand increases by half. Factor wind into the mix, and demand enters negative territory. Together, efficiency, wind, and solar will likely eliminate a couple of billion cubic feet of fossil fuel consumption per day.

Walmart stores, other commercial buildings to have energy-storage systems installed

Pasadena-Star News - Apr 12 San Francisco-based Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) has contracted with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and several other Southland entities to install energy-storage systems that will boost their energy efficiency, reduce costs, and lower Southern California Edison’s electricity demand during times of peak usage. AMS will be installing the systems throughout 2018 at 27 Walmart stores and at Irvine Ranch Water District, Irvine Co., the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and Cal State Long Beach. Installation of the battery-storage systems at the Walmart stores alone will create 40 megawatts of energy storage. 

California’s $270M self-generation scheme favoring energy storage set to reopen

Energy Storage News - Apr 11 California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), the scheme to incentivize the use of distributed energy, opens for applications at the beginning of next month, weighted to favor energy storage. When it comes to solar, SGIP is administered by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company, as well as the Center for Sustainable Energy. The program awards “financial incentives for the installation of new qualifying technologies that are installed to meet all or a portion of the electric energy needs of a facility.” Through the end of 2019, a total of $270,165,000 will be made available through SGIP to program administrators. The biggest change to SGIP is that as of this year, 75% of funds will be allocated to energy storage technologies, and just 25% for generation technologies.

How utilities can harness electric vehicles as flexible loads

Greentech Media - Apr 13 Electric vehicles represent a big strategic opportunity for utilities in an era of flat to declining load growth. But plug-in cars can do more than simply consume electrons; they have the potential to be valuable load-managing resources -- and they may need to be to avoid wreaking havoc on the grid. “While most industry analysts see EVs as a boon for utilities, risks do exist,” according to a new report by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). The report is designed to help utilities insert themselves into the conversation on electrifying America’s vehicle fleet, with an eye to serving the grid at the same time. The downside of EVs is mostly associated with poor load management, such as peak load increases, transformer and substation impacts, and "timer peaks" caused by time-of-use rates, the report states. 

Investors are cherry picking the assets of a fallen renewable energy giant

Bloomberg - Apr 12 Since filing the largest U.S. bankruptcy of 2016, SunEdison Inc. has hosted the biggest-ever sale of renewables assets. It has shed at least $1 billion of assets from Southern California to Chile to India, including projects that would have died without new owners. Based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, SunEdison amassed its portfolio by taking advantage of clean-energy’s push into the mainstream. Its financial engineering helped enable wind and solar to make up more than half of all new power-plant capacity in the U.S. in the past decade. In the process, the company piled up $16.1 billion in liabilities by the time it sought court protection from creditors on April 21, a year ago next week. Now, it is looking at how to make a comeback. After toggling between a wind-down or a reorganization since filing for bankruptcy, it announced last month a rough outline for restructuring. But it has also sold off so many prized assets and lost key staff that questions remain about what of value will be left.

NREL reclaims world record for solar hydrogen production

Solar Industry Magazine - Apr 13 Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have recaptured the record for highest efficiency in solar hydrogen production via a photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting process. According to NREL, the new solar-to-hydrogen (STH) efficiency record is 16.2%, topping a reported 14% efficiency in 2015 by an international team of researchers. NREL says before the PEC technology can be commercially viable, the cost of hydrogen production needs to come down to meet the DOE’s target of less than $2 per kilogram of hydrogen. Continued improvements in cell efficiency and lifetime are needed to meet this target.

Solar Frontier Americas sells 40MW solar power project to Dominion

Electric Light & Power - Apr 11 Solar Frontier sold its 40-megawatt Midway II solar power plant to a unit of Dominion Energy Inc. The Midway II Project, located in Imperial County, California, is constructed with approximately 242,000 Solar Frontier advanced CIS solar modules mounted on NEXTracker’s high performance single-axis solar trackers. The project has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District (the third largest public power utility in California, serving the Imperial Valley) for the electricity produced by the plant. Midway II is expected to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of over 6,500 homes annually. 

SunPower breaks ground on Texas’ ‘largest’ behind-the-meter solar system

PV-Tech - Apr 10 High-efficiency PV module producer SunPower has started construction on what is claimed to be the largest behind-the-meter solar power system in Texas upon completion. The 8.79-megawatt solar system is based at Toyota Motor’s North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, which the auto manufacturer plans to occupy this year. Around 50 construction workers from local solar contractor Axium Solar are now installing SunPower's 20% efficient E-Series solar panels on steel carport structures across the top of four garages. SunPower is the only solar panel manufacturer in the world to achieve this certification. When complete, there will be more than 20,000 panels installed, which will generate enough clean energy to offset around 33% of Toyota’s needs. 

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