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Renewable Energy Update
August 17, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

Solar trade case weighs whether protection will save or sink industry

Washington Post - Aug 15 Two solar manufacturers are begging the federal government for help, arguing that without protection from a flood of cheap imports, the United States risks losing its own domestic solar industry. But as they made their arguments before a commission on Tuesday, they faced an opponent: much of the rest of their industry. Suniva and SolarWorld urged the U.S. International Trade Commission in a Tuesday hearing to impose steep tariffs on imports of solar cells and modules, which are assembled into panels and used to harvest solar energy, under a rarely used section of U.S. trade law known as Section 201. As the price of solar products rises, opponents argue that fewer households and companies will be able to afford to install solar panels, costing jobs in the related industries that install, maintain, and manufacture support structures for solar panels. The hearing on Tuesday was directed at determining whether the U.S. solar manufacturing industry is being harmed by imports, a decision the commission is required to make by Sept. 22. If the commission rules that it is, it will provide a recommendation for action to President Trump no later than Nov. 13. The president will then have 60 days to decide whether relief is needed, and if so what kind. 


Under court order, San Diego County releases revamped climate plan — proposes 90 percent green energy future

San Diego Union-Tribune - Aug 10 San Diego County released a draft climate plan last Thursday, pledging to dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by limiting backcountry sprawl and using at least 90 percent renewable energy by 2030. The proposed blueprint for fighting global warming comes five years after the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club first sued the county over an earlier version of the plan, arguing in court that the county’s original vision lacked specificity on how it would realize deep cuts in climate-warming emissions. County officials said Thursday that they have dramatically overhauled their Climate Action Plan in response to a 2015 court order in the Sierra Club’s favor. About 50 percent of the county’s greenhouse-gas reductions through 2030 will come from state legislative actions, such as fuel and building energy efficiency standards, as well as incentive programs for the adoption of electric vehicles. The county’s draft plan will circulate for comment during the next 45 days. A final document is expected to be before the Board of Supervisors early next year.

U.S. has more than 550 MW of grid-connected energy storage in Q2

Utility Dive - Aug 11 According to a new Platts report, using storage data filed with FERC, the United States had 565.5 megawatts of storage capacity installed at the end of the second quarter, with about a third of the capacity coming online in the last year. In total there are 45 grid-connected systems, the bulk of which are battery storage. Two projects are flywheel storage. Utilities are adding battery storage projects for reliability, ancillary services, and the integration of more renewables. 

California’s grid prepares for solar power to be eclipsed

KQED - Aug 14 Spectators around the country are gearing up for the solar eclipse on August 21. But another group is preparing as well: the people who run California’s electric grid. Solar power has been booming in California, making up as much as 40 percent of the state’s power supply on some days. The eclipse will cut solar output roughly in half over the course of several hours. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of buildings — both residential and commercial — that normally count on rooftop solar will need to switch to grid power instead. Add that to the loss from big utility-scale solar farms, and California will need to fill a power gap equal to what six million homes use. What hydropower dams can’t make up, natural gas power plants will. That includes large power plants that can respond quickly, as well as smaller “peaker” plants. The California ISO is scheduling extra power ahead of time to try to ensure the needs are met and that power prices don’t spike. 

SunPower announces new research facility with pilot line

Solar Industry Magazine - Aug 14 PV manufacturer SunPower has announced a newly completed research facility with a pilot production line at its San Jose headquarters in Silicon Valley. The company says it invested approximately $25 million in the new facility over the past 12 months, and SunPower engineers began producing the company’s latest generation of solar cells in the pilot line this summer. According to SunPower, the cells extend on the company’s X-Series technology, which currently achieves 25 percent efficiency in mass production. The line will ultimately ramp to producing cells and panels used in both residential and commercial applications. First planned customers include school districts interested in carport applications and residential rooftops. 

Arizona Public Service using energy storage to replace T&D in rural project

Electric Light & Power - Aug 9 Arizona Public Service has chosen to install new battery storage systems instead of rebuilding a stretch of transmission infrastructure in rural Arizona. APS will install two 4-MWh Advancion batteries in Punkin Center Arizona beginning in the fall. The Advancion batteries are made by AES Energy Storage. The project may be one of the first nationally in which a utility uses storage to replace traditional transmission and distribution buildout.

Bloom Energy and PowerSecure land country’s biggest fuel cell deployment to date

Greentech Media - Aug 16 Last year, fuel cell maker Bloom Energy and Southern Company microgrid subsidiary PowerSecure announced a partnership to bring 50 megawatts of fuel cells to market through upfront financing and power-purchase agreements. On Wednesday, the partners announced they’ve landed the biggest client yet for that offering, in the form of a 37-megawatt fuel cell deal with data center company Equinix. Over the next two years, the partners will install Bloom’s solid-oxide, natural-gas-fueled “energy servers” at 12 Equinix data centers in California and New York.

Salton Sea geothermal plant canceled by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Desert Sun - Aug 16 It's been 14 years since California officials first approved the Black Rock power plant, which would have tapped a powerful geothermal reservoir along the shore of the Salton Sea and generated enough climate-friendly electricity to power about 200,000 homes. But the long-planned geothermal plant in Imperial County was never built, and now its developer appears to be pulling the plug. CalEnergy, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy, asked the California Energy Commission earlier this summer to terminate the license for Black Rock. The company had requested and received extensions of the construction start deadline in 2007, 2011, and 2014, but this time decided to move on rather than pay a $27,678 annual compliance fee that would have been due at the end of June.

Santa Rosa begins installing solar panels on parking garage roofs

The Press Democrat - Aug 15 Santa Rosa has begun installing nearly a thousand solar panels atop four city parking garages, modules that will both shade vehicles from the sun and reduce the city’s energy costs. If all goes well, the installations should take about a month per garage, with the project completed in a few months. The city estimates the $1.4 million project will pay for itself in about 11 years and save $1.4 million in power costs over the 25-year life of the arrays. That should help the city achieve about 10 percent of its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, said Kim Nadaeu, parking district manager.

Empower Energies completes 14.5MW PV project in Nevada

PV-Tech - Aug 16 Clean energy development and financing company Empower Energies announced Tuesday that it has completed the Patua solar power project, a 14.5-megawatt PV project in Churchill County, Nevada. The project will provide power for an existing geothermal power plant owned by CYRQ Energy, a Salt Lake City based renewable energy company. Empower advised CYRQ on the development and design of the Patua solar project, which is comprised of approximately 45,360 PV solar panels. 

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