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Renewable Energy Update
August 25, 2017
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Renewable Energy Focus

California clean economy thriving, but emissions have spiked

Energy Manager Today - Aug 22 The ninth annual California Green Innovation Index, released by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10 and prepared by Beacon Economics, finds that the state’s ambitious climate policies have allowed for considerable economic growth, with California outpacing the growth of other states during the recovery period following the Great Recession. Between 2006 — when the state’s landmark climate legislation was adopted — and 2015, California’s GDP per capita grew by almost $5,000 per person, nearly double the growth experienced by the U.S. as a whole. At the same time, per capita emissions in the state decreased by 12 percent. While the state has made considerable progress decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the rate of emissions decline appears to be slowing, due in part to a spike in transportation emissions. On an absolute basis, California’s total GHG emissions fell only slightly in 2015, down 0.34 percent from 2014. This compares to a 0.73 percent reduction in the previous year and sharper falls in years before. 


DOE releases highly anticipated grid study, faults natural gas for baseload retirements

Utility Dive - Aug 23 On Wednesday night, the Department of Energy released its highly anticipated grid study after months of speculation, controversy, and a leaked early draft. The study found cheap natural gas to be the greatest driver of baseload power plant retirements, followed by flat power demand, environmental regulations, and the growing penetration of renewables on the grid. Perhaps most notably, the study did not find renewables to be a threat to grid reliability. The report contained eight recommendations for stakeholders, including directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite the study of wholesale market structures, promoting R&D for grid resiliency, reliability, modernization, and renewables integration technologies, and examining infrastructure permitting and regulatory processes. 

Grid runs smoothly in California during eclipse

San Diego Union-Tribune - Aug 21 Power system officials across the state reported no major reliability issues as the moon obscured a large portion of the sun Monday morning. Monday marked the first eclipse seen throughout the contiguous United States since 1979, when solar power represented just a blip on the nation’s energy landscape. The California Independent System Operator expected a loss of about 4,300 megawatts of solar production by the time the eclipse ended at 11:54 a.m. The state relied on hydroelectric power and thermal sources — largely natural gas — to make up for the loss of solar power. California is home to six times more solar electric capacity than any other state, and for Handa Yang, Ph.D candidate at the Center for Energy Research at UC San Diego who studied the eclipse, Monday’s results indicate more solar will not overwhelm the power system. “I think the grid can handle a surprising amount of solar penetration, more so than we originally thought, and it will be able to handle more once we get more battery storage online,” Yang said.

Sungevity brand returns via Solar Spectrum-Horizon merger

Bloomberg - Aug 22 Solar Spectrum, a clean-energy company backed by private equity firm Northern Pacific Group, bought residential system provider Horizon Solar Power. They will sit together under the Sungevity brand, the Oakland, California-based solar company that filed for bankruptcy in March. Terms weren’t disclosed in a statement Tuesday. Solar Spectrum in April bought assets from Sungevity. The merger comes amid a turbulent time for the rooftop solar industry. Sungevity is among several companies that have gone bankrupt, collapsed, or are winding down as they chase smaller margins.

First Solar closes sale of California Flats project

Solar Industry Magazine - Aug 22 First Solar Inc., an Arizona-based vertically integrated solar company, has completed the sale of the 280-megawatt California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County to global private asset manager Capital Dynamics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Located on approximately 2,900 acres of ranch land within the Jack Ranch owned by the Hearst Corporation, the 130-megawatt first phase of the project is expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of this year and is fully contracted under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA). The 150-megawatt second phase, which is currently under construction, is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018, and is fully contracted under a long-term PPA.

U.S. Army invests in 1MW energy storage system at military post in Alabama

Energy Storage News - Aug 24 SunPower announced Wednesday that it has broken ground on a 10-megawatt PV project at the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post in Alabama that will also feature a 1-megawatt energy storage system. With the addition of the energy storage system, the project is expected to bolster energy security and resilience at Redstone Arsenal while also helping the base become more energy independent.

DESRI acquires 40MW California PV project from First Solar

PV-Tech - Aug 18 D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) has acquired a 40-megawatt solar project currently under construction in California from First Solar. The Cuyama Solar Project in Santa Barbara County is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Community Choice Aggregator Peninsula Clean Energy has a one-year ‘bridge’ power purchase agreement (PPA) for power delivered from the plant in 2018. After this, power is due to be supplied to the utility Pacific Gas & Electric under a 25-year PPA beginning in January 2019.

CPPIB to invest $750 million in Calpine Corp. acquisition

Chief Investment Officer - Aug 21 The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) will be a partner in the acquisition of U.S. independent power juggernaut Calpine Corp., the board announced last Friday. The investment comes as part of a $5.6 billion cash consortium comprised of funds advised by Energy Capital Partners and additional investors. The transaction is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval as well as other customary closing conditions. Calpine consists of 80 power plants in operation or under construction, which can generate around 26,000 megawatts of electricity from geothermal and natural gas resources—enough to power an estimated 20 million homes. Its 13 geothermal geyser assets in northern California help make it one of the largest renewable energy sources in the state.

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