AUSTRALIAN WIND FARM USES TESLA BATTERY FOR STORAGE. The Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 309MW wind farm in South Australia, installed a Tesla built lithium-ion battery for storage capacity in late 2017. After a full month of service, the battery generated 2.42 GWh of energy and consumed 3.06 GWh. This storage capacity is providing contingency and regulation services to the Australian electricity market. See - http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2018/01/tesla-s-battery-in-australia-is-surpassing-expectations.html. According to the Hornsdale Power Reserve website, this is the "largest lithium-ion battery" in the world, covering approximately a hectare of land. The website also states that 50% of Australia's energy is now produced by renewables. See - https://hornsdalepowerreserve.com.au.
SOUTHWEST VARIABLE ENERGY RESOURCE INITIATIVE (SVERI). Interested in how renewables and conventional energy sources are mixed on the grid in the southwest? The University of Arizona and eight power companies have collaborated to provide real-time data of the quantity of renewable energy contributing to generation at each utility. The website provides data from May 15, 2014 to the present. Figuring out how to more efficiently integrate variable energy resources such as solar and wind into the main grid systems is a challenge SVERI hopes to address with this data collection. See - https://sveri.energy.arizona.edu/#generation-by-fuel-type
SUNSHOT PRIZE - SOLAR IN YOUR COMMUNITY. The U.S. DOE has announced that it is accepting applications through March 17, 2017 for teams to participate in the Solar in Your Community initiative. DOE will award up to $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams to design and deploy scalable community-based solar projects or programs.
Teams can be comprised of entrepreneurs, financiers, utilities, experts, local governments, and non-profits among others. The solar projects must serve at least 20% low- and moderate-income households or 60% non-profits. The focus is to develop projects for individuals and entities, including local and tribal governments, that cannot benefit from the Federal Investment Tax Credit. To register and find more information, see - http://www.solarinyourcommunity.org.
CANADIAN FIRST NATIONS RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS. The University of Calgary initiated a project in 2014 to catalog renewable energy projects in Indigenous communities. The University set up a website with an interactive map cataloging over 300 projects across Canada. Each site on the map contains information about the project, the community, funding for the project, and a website link. For instance, the Xeni Gwet'in Nation in British Columbia installed a hybrid solar-propane power generator as part of a community building energy efficiency upgrade.
Several communities have received funding to develop community energy plans. While others have implemented micro-hydro and geothermal projects. The Lower Kootenay Band installed solar panels at their administrative offices. Aki Energy in Manitoba is an Indigenous social enterprise organization that works with First Nations to reduce energy costs through renewable energy projects. They entered into a partnership with the Peguis First Nation and the Fisher River Cree Nation to develop geothermal energy resources. For more information, see - https://indigenousenergy.ca and http://www.akienergy.com.
INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY (IRENA) and ABU DHABI FUND FOR DEVELOPMENT (ADFD) offer loans of $5 to $15 million to fund renewable energy projects in developing countries. Small to medium size projects such as a 4 MW solar PV and diesel mini-gird project in Mali have been funded in by this program. The funders look for projects that are "replicable and scalable", such as the Mali mini-grid project that was implemented in several villages. The program also looks for off-grid solutions where extending the grid to isolated areas would be financially prohibitive.
IRENA and ADFD have funded numerous projects around the world, including hydro projects in Ecuador and Argentina, solar PV projects in Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso, geothermal projects in St. Vincent & Grenadines and Iran, and hybrid projects in Cape Verde and Antigua & Barbuda. For more information see - http://adfd.irena.org and http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/11/irena-announces-funding-round-for-renewables-in-developing-nations.html
COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION GROWS IN CALIFORNIA. Local governments have created a new method for bringing renewable energy into their communities by forming Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs). CCAs allow local governments (counties, cities, towns) to form a legal entity that purchases power on behalf of residents and businesses. The local utility continues to provide power transmission and distribution, as well as billing and other customer services. The CCA can purchase power from any source and generally focus on providing as much renewable energy as possible. According to an article in Renewable Energy World on November 8, 2016, the power purchase agreements CCAs sign can help finance new renewable energy projects.
State laws enabling community choice aggregation exist in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. California may have as many as 20 CCA programs in the works. Once they are in place, they may displace 20-40% of the traditional electricity load in California. California utilities are looking at exit fees to recover their stranded asset costs and discourage customers from leaving the utility. Whether that will slow down CCA formation remains to be seen. See -
NEW MEXICO JOINS GREEN TARIFF STATES. In August, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) joined a short list of electric generators offering a "green tariff" for new large-scale renewable energy projects. Under a deal inked with Facebook, and approved by the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission (PRC), PNM will build a 30MW solar facility to supply the power for Facebook's new data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico. The data center is expected to grow, reaching a potential 100 MW. PNM will pass on 100 percent of the project cost to Facebook, which will not be counted toward PNM's Renewable Portfolio Standard.
The Los Lunas project is just the latest evidence that renewable energy will power business development in the 21st century. Facebook is one of 50 large companies that signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles. http://buyersprinciples.org/principles. The principles reflect a desire by businesses to move beyond the reputational benefit of buying Renewable Energy Certificates to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. By promoting the construction of new generation capacity, these business hope to drive renewables to price parity, while reaping the economic benefits such as price stability, long-term commitment, and local development.
How these businesses implement the principles depends on the type of market in which they plan to expand. In deregulated markets such as California and Texas, the business can select it own renewable energy provider (as well as its provider of traditional power when the renewable resource is not producing). In regulated markets, such as New Mexico, the situation is more complicated because the business must obtain the renewable energy from PNM, a state-sanctioned monopoly, which is subject to regulatory oversight by PRC, and whose existing users do not want to subsidize these projects. The new solution is the "green tariff”, also known as a green rider, which allows a business to contract with the utility for the construction of a new renewable energy project, while also paying its share of costs for the use of existing infrastructure to back up the project. The utility gains a benefit as well, by recovering its reasonable costs, charging for traditional power, building the customer base, and encouraging further economic development. http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/green-tariff-design-final.pdf
The Facebook deal is a welcome development for the growth of renewable energy in New Mexico. One of the major benefits will be the construction of one or more commercial-scale solar projects. Facebook apparently wants the project to be built by a local company. The deal also may signal a positive change in perspective by the state's largest utility. By establishing a mechanism for new and expanded businesses to obtain renewable energy, PNM and the PRC have an opportunity to shift gears in a changing energy environment, and drive economic development - and the growth of the state's renewable energy industry.
To read more about the Facebook deal, see https://www.abqjournal.com/844876/facebook-picks-los-lunas-for-its-data-center.html.
The CLEAN ENERGY SAVINGS FOR ALL INITIATIVE will help make it possible for every American household to choose solar energy and cut energy bills. The initiative creates a collaboration between state and federal agencies to bring 1 gigawatt of solar energy to low- and moderate-income households by 2020. The Federal Housing Authority provides mortgage insurance for low- and moderate-income households and will make mortgage insurance available for PACE assessed residences (for more information on PACE, see Other Resources on this website). The FHA will also make PACE financing available for veterans.
The Departments of Energy (DOE) and Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide technical assistance to LIHEAP grantees. DOE will also launch a Solar Job Network for low- and moderate-income Americans. DOE's Community Solar Challenge will award communities cash prizes and technical assistance to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills.
Additionally, 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in 36 states will invest $287 million and will develop 280 megawatts (MW) of solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further the deployment of community solar (see Other Resources on this website). See - https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/19/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-clean-energy-savings-all
NEW ENGLAND STATES make the leap in renewables. Clint Wilder reports in the Green Money Journal (Jul/Aug 2016) that, in the last six years, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine have risen from 10th, 18th, and 31st to 2nd, 6th, and 9th in the nation for clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence, and green building. Massachusetts has replaced traditional energy sources with utility-scale solar, distributed solar, energy storage, and electric vehicles. Maine leads the nation in biomass generation, while Vermont replaced electricity from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant with solar, wind, and geothermal sources (18.6% of total generation); added to existing hydro and biomass generation Vermont achieves almost 100% clean energy production. See - http://www.greenmoneyjournal.com/july-august-2016/california-massachusetts-vermont-lead-transition-to-clean-energy-economy/
On July 1, GUZMAN ENERGY became the primary power provider for two New Mexico jurisdictions. Guzman Energy's 1 megawatt solar power facility in Aztec, New Mexico went on-line on June 28th; it will generate approximately 8% of the city's energy. Guzman Energy will provide the remainder of the municipality's energy needs through Guzman's other energy assets.
Also in June, Guzman Energy affiliate, Guzman Renewable Energy Partners, bought out Kit Carson Electric Cooperative's power contract with Tri-State Generation and became the Coop's primary power provider through a 10 year power purchase agreement. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative provides electricity to approximately 30,000 customers in New Mexico's Taos, Colfax, and Rio Arriba counties. For more information, see - http://guzmanenergy.com/guzman-energy-news.php and http://www.kitcarson.com.
GRID ALTERNATIVES, in coordination with the Delta Montrose Electric Association, installed a 150kW community solar system in Montrose, Colorado for qualified low-income households in June. This is one of five systems that Grid Alternatives will install with local electric cooperatives in Colorado. Other projects are planned for Gunnison County Electric Association, Holy Cross Energy, San Miguel Power Association and the Yampa Valley Electric Association. The projects are constructed primarily by Grid Alternative staff and its Solar Corps interns, along with corporate sponsor volunteers, community volunteers, and beneficiaries of the projects. The Colorado Energy Office provided a $1.2 million grant to help fund this initiative. For more information, see - http://www.gridalternatives.org/regions/colorado/news/five-new-community-solar-projects