Covering the world of solar power technology, development and installation.

SEG Solar acquires Houston manufacturing facility for solar module assembly plans
20 Mar 2023 at 12:24pm
by Kelly Pickerel
SEG Solar says it has acquired a building in Houston, Texas, for its planned 2-GW solar module assembly factory. The site consists of 145,000 sq. ft of manufacturing and warehouse space and 16,000 sq. ft of office space. The company will move its global headquarters and administrative support from California to the site before the… The post SEG Solar acquires Houston manufacturing facility for solar module assembly plans appeared first on Solar Power World.

ESS reaches UL 1973 certification for its battery modules
20 Mar 2023 at 10:09am
by Kelly Pickerel
Long-duration energy storage company ESS Tech has achieved UL 1973 certification for its S200 battery modules. UL 1973 is the safety standard for stationary batteries. S200 modules power the company’s Energy Warehouse and Energy Center product lines. ESS has also completed UL 9540A fire safety testing. ESS iron-flow technology provides long-duration energy storage and is ideal… The post ESS reaches UL 1973 certification for its battery modules appeared first on Solar Power World.

New California bill aims for more solar over parking lots and along highways
16 Mar 2023 at 1:04pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
On March 15, Environment California submitted a letter of support signed by 64 environmental, consumer and other community groups to Senator Josh Becker declaring support for Senate Bill 49. SB 49, authored by Senator Becker and sponsored by Environment California, would encourage solar canopies over parking lots and direct California to plan for solar power… The post New California bill aims for more solar over parking lots and along highways appeared first on Solar Power World.

More than 100 groups ask CPUC to delay NEM 3.0 The groups are urging the commission to delay implementation until it can resolve issues raised in an administrative appeal.
16 Mar 2023 at 12:36pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
California regulators should revise a new rooftop solar plan to make solar more affordable for low-income communities, dozens of groups will tell the California Public Utilities Commission at its meeting Thursday. The commission’s plan drastically slashes the credit new solar users would get for sharing their extra solar energy with the grid. More than 100… The post More than 100 groups ask CPUC to delay NEM 3.0 <br><span style='color:#404040;font-weight:600;font-size:15px;'>The groups are urging the commission to delay implementation until it can resolve issues raised in an administrative appeal.</span> appeared first on Solar Power World.

AVANGRID breaks ground on 523.5 MW of solar projects in Ohio and Texas
15 Mar 2023 at 8:24pm
by Billy Ludt
AVANGRID, a sustainable energy company, started construction on two new solar farms in Texas and Ohio, which will generate 523.5 MW of clean and affordable power to these states. True North, under development in Falls County, Texas, and AVANGRID’s first solar project in the state, will generate 321 MW of renewable energy once it reaches… The post AVANGRID breaks ground on 523.5 MW of solar projects in Ohio and Texas appeared first on Solar Power World.

Multifamily housing tenants in Mississippi can now share rooftop solar benefits
15 Mar 2023 at 2:00pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
Allume Energy announced the successful commissioning of its SolShare clean energy technology at a multifamily building owned and operated by Belhaven Residential in Jackson, Mississippi. This latest U.S. SolShare deployment will help advance solar and behind-the-meter technologies in a market underserved by renewable energy projects. Solar Alternatives, a Louisiana-based solar contractor, installed the 22-kW array… The post Multifamily housing tenants in Mississippi can now share rooftop solar benefits appeared first on Solar Power World.

CPS America cuts flagship three-phase string inverter cost by 20%
14 Mar 2023 at 6:47pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
CPS America announced at its 2023 Product Innovation Day that the CPS 250/275-kW three-phase string inverter received a 20% price cut to start 2023. In a time of rising prices, the CPS America team has applied innovative solutions to this flagship product to continue cost reductions and decrease the price without compromising on quality. Nearly… The post CPS America cuts flagship three-phase string inverter cost by 20% appeared first on Solar Power World.

Carlson Machine Control debuts 2 pile driving programs for solar market
14 Mar 2023 at 6:37pm
by Billy Ludt
Carlson Machine Control, a company specializing in land development and associated machine programming, released both a new automated solution for placing structural piles and a new upgrade to its PD Grade Solution for accurate pile placement, PD Grade 3Z. The former, the Pile Placement solution, includes Carlson’s specialized Grade software that provides real-time on-screen views… The post Carlson Machine Control debuts 2 pile driving programs for solar market appeared first on Solar Power World.

Lightstar Renewables partners with American Farmland Trust to advance agricultural solar
14 Mar 2023 at 4:37pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
Lightstar Renewables announces its support of the American Farmland Trust’s (AFT) mission to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices and keep farmers on the land. AFT previously announced a partnership called Farmers Powering Communities with community solar developers Edelen Renewables and Arcadia. Through this partnership with Lightstar, AFT will use its Smart Solar principles to lend… The post Lightstar Renewables partners with American Farmland Trust to advance agricultural solar appeared first on Solar Power World.

Built Robotics develops automated pile driver for large-scale solar construction
14 Mar 2023 at 4:25pm
by Billy Ludt
Built Robotics, construction autonomy company and inventor of the Exosystem, has developed RPD 35, a fully-autonomous solar piling system. RPD 35 is designed to install utility-scale solar foundations faster than manual, traditional means. Piling at the heart of every utility-scale solar project. Solar piles are generally steel H-beams, 12 to 16 ft in length and… The post Built Robotics develops automated pile driver for large-scale solar construction appeared first on Solar Power World.

China-based solar panel maker setting up 1-GW factory in South Carolina
14 Mar 2023 at 3:12pm
by Kelly Pickerel
Another China-based solar panel manufacturer says it is starting a crystalline silicon solar panel assembly factory in the United States. See all recent U.S. manufacturing news here.  Hounen Solar America, the U.S. division of China’s Zhejiang Hounen Photoelectric Co., Ltd., will invest $33 million into an existing 200,000-sq-ft facility in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to eventually… The post China-based solar panel maker setting up 1-GW factory in South Carolina appeared first on Solar Power World.

Habitat experts start program to help developers design pollinator-friendly solar projects
14 Mar 2023 at 1:00pm
by Kelsey Misbrener
The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund recently launched its new Solar Synergy program alongside project partner Monarch Joint Venture. The program works directly with solar developers to strategically design and monitor high-quality pollinator habitats within utility-scale renewable energy projects. Through the generous financial support of corporations and foundations, the program is being offered at no… The post Habitat experts start program to help developers design pollinator-friendly solar projects appeared first on Solar Power World.

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The evolution of Ørsted: From oil to offshore wind
20 Mar 2023 at 4:21pm
by Associated Press Editors
NEW YORK (AP) — One of Europe's most fossil fuel-intensive energy companies transformed completely in little more than a decade by doubling down on offshore wind. Ørsted, formerly DONG Energy, for Danish Oil and Natural Gas, started aggressively building wind farms off the coast of Denmark, the U.K. and Germany in 2008 — a time when offshore wind was a curiosity. The company sold off the North Sea oil and gas assets on which it had built its identity to focus on clean energy, becoming Ørsted. Fast forward 15 years and China, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Denmark have some 62 nuclear plants' worth of wind power spinning or under construction offshore. Ørsted is one of the biggest developers. CEO Mads Nipper called Ørsted the “Tesla of offshore wind” because it didn’t invent wind turbines or copper cable or substations, just like the electric car company didn’t invent batteries or electric motors. But they both proved something was scalable when few believed it. Currently Ørsted is building offshore wind farms along the East Coast of the U.S., in Europe and Taiwan. It’s trying to create a market globally for green hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels. And it aims to build 50 gigawatts of clean energy generation by 2030. Nipper spoke with The Associated Press about the industry. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Mads Nipper, CEO of Orsted, left, speaks with David Hardy, CEO of the Orsted Americas region, while in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Orsted, the former Danish Oil and Natural Gas company, ramped up construction of offshore wind farms beginning in 2008 and sold off the oil and gas side of the business in 2017. Now Orsted is a global leader in renewable energy. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) Q: They say soon we'll have clean energy supermajors, the way we've had oil majors. Do you consider Ørsted to be a clean energy supermajor? A: Not yet. But we will be. There are no clean energy supermajors. If there was one, it’s us. But there aren’t any yet. It would be arrogant to say that we are a supermajor yet... We invest, depending on the year, $6, $7 billion a year purely into renewable energy, which makes us comfortably one of the top players. Q: How has the war in Ukraine affected Ørsted’s business and the offshore wind sector in general? A: It has not affected our offshore business, I would say. If indirectly, then tragically or ironically, actually positively, because it’s dawning very clearly to Europe that energy independence, and therefore energy security, and not being dependent on Russia for energy supplies, is not just a matter of climate policy — it’s very much security policy as well. So if anything, especially European governments are extremely determined to make renewable energy ambitions come through... We are looking at Ukraine. We are actually in dialog with the Danish foreign ministry to see what can we do to help Ukraine establish a reliable power supply. Q: Is Ørsted best positioned to help the U.S. transition to green energy? A: On offshore, I have no doubt. And onshore, given the traction we have and given also what we are seeing of opportunities, I think, we would be amongst the best positioned. I think it would be leaning out to say that in onshore specifically we would be best positioned. But with already 5 gigawatts of awarded capacity in offshore, we are not done. The U.S. is a major growth priority market for us globally. Our preparedness to invest significant capital in the U.S. market to help that transformation is intact. Q: How can you use the incentives offered for green energy in the U.S. through the Inflation Reduction Act? A: Given some of the headwinds of the industry recently and especially higher cost of capital through interest rates and significant capital expenditure inflation due to both materials but also supply chain bottlenecks, the Inflation Reduction Act is a vital part of addressing that challenge. And quite honestly, also in a world where there is going to be competition to attract capital both for offshore and renewable energy, but also for the manufacturing jobs that follow that, that is where the U.S. has clearly set a benchmark globally for what I call a wholehearted push to really advance clean energy. That’s both for offshore but also for onshore, and maybe most revolutionary also with the up to $3 tax credit for green hydrogen. Overnight, that very likely made the U.S. the cheapest market to produce green hydrogen, which as opposed to electricity can travel well if you make liquid fuels from green hydrogen. Q: You have said that green hydrogen is a key component of the green transition and a major growth area for Ørsted. Can you talk about that? A: We’ve built up a strong portfolio of tangible opportunities, most in Europe, but also in the U.S., where we have a MOU with Maersk, the world’s largest container shipper who is very committed to decarbonizing ocean transport, for up to 300,000 tons of e-methanol a year, which would be purely based on renewable hydrogen and biogenic CO2. We took final investment decision on our first utility-scale green hydrogen project in Sweden, which is where we would also make methanol from biogenic CO2 and sell that to the maritime sector. That’s 50,000 tons a year. So not huge, but big enough to matter. It will fuel a couple of ships. And by doing that, we don’t think we will be necessarily the biggest producer of green hydrogen. We hope and believe that also the big oil majors will have this as a strategic bet. But we want to be a catalyst for change, that we prove that it is possible... We know that all the hard-to-abate sectors of the world, be it heavy transport, maritime, refineries, cement, everyone needs green molecules. So we know the market will be there and we are trying to help create that. Q: Where do you see us on the trajectory of offshore wind? A: We are at the end of the beginning... We are ready for a totally different level of scaling. The industry has scaled, but we need to accelerate that scaling, including the supply chain, with even more sustainable approaches but also significant support and investment. And I don’t necessarily mean sort of subsidy, but significant capital availability to scale an industry that needs to go much faster. So we are at the end of the beginning and also now in a reality where, especially over the last 12 months, it just became harder. But instead of saying, ‘oh, then we need to slow down,’ we would ask ourselves as an industry and we will definitely as a company, ‘how do we leverage a difficult situation?’ Q: You said a year ago that it’s still possible to stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) scenario, the elusive international goal. Do you still feel that way? A: I still don’t think it’s impossible, but it has become more difficult. It has become more difficult because unfortunately, the planet doesn’t forget. And unfortunately, the current energy crisis means that we are burning more fossil fuels than we did before. In Europe, lignite and coal is being burnt to ensure that there is energy. And unfortunately I also think that right now, if anything, the large oil companies are probably, at least some of them, redirecting funds back to fossil fuels. We must as humanity remain optimistic. I will say I am still optimistic we will manage temperature increases to be at a level where we can avoid the biggest disasters. But 1.5 degrees is a stretch. ________ Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Silfab Solar raises $125M to fund U.S. cell manufacturing plant
20 Mar 2023 at 2:33pm
by John Engel
North American solar module manufacturer Silfab Solar said it has raised $125 million to fund a new cell and module manufacturing plant in the U.S. The facility would be Silfab's third to open in the U.S. The company anticipates that the plant will be fully operational in 2024 with an initial annual capability of 1 GW cell production and an additional 1.2 GW of PV solar module assembly.  “Domestic production of solar cells represents a strategic effort to further manage our supply chain and to apply our technical prowess from the ground up for a comprehensive manufacturing process,” Silfab CEO Paolo Maccario said in a statement. Silfab said it would share additional details, including the facility location, at a later date. It said the plant would support 800 jobs. The fundraising round was led by ARC Financial Corp., and was the private equity firm's second investment in Silfab since 2021. The investment from ARC’s Energy Fund 9 includes co-investments by Manulife Financial Corp., Ontario Power Generation Inc. Pension Plan, CF Private Equity, and BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice. Cell production is often overlooked, yet is a crucially important component of the solar value chain. While manufacturers have issued a flurry of announcements to scale up module assembly capacity in the U.S. in response to incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, domestic cell production greatly lags demand. The majority — 79% — of solar cell production occurs in China, according to the Ultra Low Carbon Solar Alliance. "I am really pleased to see the 'missing middle' of the PV supply chain - wafers and cells - building out," Michael Parr, executive director of the Ultra Low Carbon Solar Alliance, said on LinkedIn in response to Silfab's announcement.

FERC directs ISO New England to revise its metering posture for Order 2222 compliance
20 Mar 2023 at 12:18pm
by Rao Konidena
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 1 approved parts of ISO New England's Order 2222 compliance proposal related to the aggregation of distributed energy resources. It was all about metering in the ISO-NE filing. FERC was swayed by multiple protestors, including United States senators from New England states, who were unhappy with ISO-NE's proposal regarding opportunities for behind-the-meter DERs located behind the retail delivery point. Based on concurrences from Commissioners Allison Clements and James Danly, and Commissioner Mark Christie's dissent, it remains to be seen how ISO-NE engages its utilities and submits a proposal that reduces the metering barriers for aggregations of DERs in the New England region. Participation Model – FERC wanted the aggregation of DERs to provide all services they were technically capable of, including capacity, energy, and ancillary services. FERC didn't require grid operators to propose a new market participation model for DERs. However, ISO-NE added two new models. First, the Demand Response Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation (DRDERA) model allows demand response DER to aggregate with other types of DERs. Second, the Settlement Only Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation (SODERA) model allows DERs to inject, withdraw, and participate in the forward capacity, day-ahead, and real-time energy markets. In addition to the two new models, ISO-NE proposed additions to five existing models to make them compliant with Order 2222. These 5 existing models are – 1) Generator Asset Model, 2) Continuous Storage Facility (CSF), 3) Binary Storage Facility (BSF) model, 4) Alternative Technology Regulation Resource (ATRR) model, and 5) the Demand Response Resource (DRR) model. US Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Warren, and Sanders wrote to ISO-NE expressing concern that ISO-NE's proposal fails to remove barriers for behind-the-meter distributed energy resources. The senators objected to ISO-NE's proposal to put utilities in the center of submetering (metering DERs individually). FERC found that ISO-NE partially complied with this requirement because "behind-the-meter DERs participating under those participation models may be unable to provide all services that they are technically capable of providing through aggregation, as required by Order No. 2222". FERC directed ISO-NE to file within 30 days a compliance filing that addresses how the grid operator's existing capacity market mitigation rules would apply to Distributed Energy Capacity Resources participating in Forward Capacity Auction FCA 18. ISONE just cleared FCA 17. FERC also directed ISO-NE to file within 60 days a compliance plan "that (1) identifies the existing rules that require a market participant that provides wholesale energy withdrawal service to be an LSE, and (2) explains whether this requirement is applicable to all resources in ISO-NE in order to provide wholesale energy withdrawal service in the energy market." Finally, FERC directed ISO-NE to file within 180 days a plan that addresses how the capacity market mitigation rules for FCA 19 and beyond will apply to Distributed Energy Capacity Resources. Metering and Telemetry System Requirements – FERC required metering and telemetry requirements to be not burdensome for the Component DERs to participate in an aggregation. There were many protests on ISO-NE's metering proposal. In response, FERC found that ISO-NE partially complied with this requirement. So, FERC directed ISO-NE to file within 60 days a compliance plan that explains why its proposal is just and reasonable and to also specify that a DER aggregator is responsible for providing metering data to ISO-NE. Submetering – Protestors were concerned that for behind-the-meter DERs, submetering was not a viable option because DERs are dependent on the host utility. In footnote 352, FERC explained that behind the meter DERs are DERs with a Point Of Interconnection (POI) located behind the Retail Delivery Point. It didn't help ISO-NE when it acknowledged that the Host Participant Assigned Meter Reader will not be able to accommodate submetering unless software systems can accommodate wholesale and retail settlements, and the timeline to implement those software systems is uncertain. Metering at the Retail Delivery Point and Parallel Metering – Without submetering as a viable option, protestors felt that metering at the Retail Delivery Point or installing a parallel meter are the only options for Component DERs, but they are not economical. FERC agreed with the protestors that submetering with reconstitution and parallel metering is not viable. Reconstitution is a process by which energy injection/withdrawal measured at a device behind the meter (e.g., a behind-the-meter generator/battery) is subtracted from energy injection/withdrawal measured at the RDP. Because metering at the RDP is outside FERC jurisdiction, FERC dropped several hints for ISO-NE to determine how PJM, NYISO, and CAISO have figured it out. Alternative Metering Proposals such as Alternatives to Metering at the Retail Delivery Point and Third Party Metering – Some protestors felt that ISO-NE must "add submetering options that do not require baselines measured at the RDP, based on submetering options other RTOs/ISOs offer" as an alternative to metering at the RDP. Others felt that third-party metering is a viable option. FERC suggested ISONE could address whether it explored third-party metering options for behind-the-meter DERs. FERC stated under ISO's proposal that behind-the-meter DERs may be unable to provide all services they are technically capable of providing through Aggregation. Double Counting – ISO-NE felt that submetering provides opportunities for double counting because "behind-the-meter DERs should not be permitted to sell energy into wholesale markets and at the same time consume that energy and avoid being charged for it". Protestors argued that there is no provision for double counting of reserves or regulation provided by behind-the-meter DERs because retail customers do not consume reserves or regulation and are allocated a portion of the costs necessary to meet their reserves and regulation requirements. Effective Date – FERC didn't require an effective date and allowed ISONE to propose a reasonable implementation date. ISO-NE had proposed November 1, 2026, for all the tariff provisions but November 1, 2022, for Distributed Energy Capacity Resource participation in the Forward Capacity Market and other minor changes. FERC found ISO-NE fully compliant with this requirement because ISO-NE proposed a reasonable implementation date. But FERC asked ISO-NE to file within 30 days an implementation timeline milestone to meet before the next capacity market auction starts. FERC Commissioner Concurrences and Dissent – If Commissioner Christie concurred on PJM's 2222 proposal due to lack of objection from PJM States, here in ISO-NE filing, he dissented, citing metering costs imposed by 2222 requirements on consumers. But both Commissioner Clements and Danly concurred, avoiding a 2-2 vote. Commissioner Clements's concurrence encouraged ISONE to "roll up its sleeves" and integrate DERs as other grid operators have done.

In Puerto Rico, advocates want the clean energy revolution to be local
20 Mar 2023 at 11:00am
by Renewable Energy World
By Carolina Baldin, Energy News Network Editor's note: Interviews with Alexis Massol González, Alberto Colón, and Rómulo Ortiz were conducted in Spanish. Their quotations and those from the Energy Bureau hearings were translated to English by the reporter, Carolina Baldin.  The U.S. Department of Energy has committed $1 billion to develop solar energy in Puerto Rico, to help the island meet its goal of 100% renewables and to add resilience to a system plagued by hurricane damage, poor maintenance and debilitating blackouts. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has visited the island multiple times, and the department has promised additional funding for renewables once an in-depth study is completed. Community leaders who have long pushed for solar are hopeful. But they are adamant that the funding must prioritize community-driven, decentralized rooftop solar. They don’t want to see more solar farms, which they say can damage land and continue reliance on shipping power across the island; and they are skeptical of the role of LUMA, the company that runs Puerto Rico’s grid since it was privatized in June 2021. On March 18, Casa Pueblo, a prominent community organization in the mountain town of Adjuntas, will inaugurate “Adjuntas Pueblo Solar,” an independent solar project that will supply 20 businesses with solar energy. The inauguration will coincide with Casa Pueblo’s “Marcha del Sol: Puerto Rico Triunfa,” where residents and national and international groups will gather for cultural activities and typical Puerto Rican food.  Clean energy advocates see Casa Pueblo’s work including Adjuntas Pueblo Solar as an island-wide model, allowing communities energy independence and the ability to decide what solar projects work best in their own areas, including with the new funding. On Feb. 21, the Department of Energy released a formal request for information regarding the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund, through which the department will manage the $1 billion. The request came days after contentious hearings in the capital, San Juan, regarding LUMA Energy’s performance in managing the grid, and new metrics the company must meet, including on the interconnection of solar. The hearings revealed shortcomings in LUMA’s ability to administer and maintain the grid. In the request for comments, open through April 21, the Department of Energy says it wants to hear from “industry, community-based organizations, federal and state government agencies, state and local coalitions, research institutions, and other stakeholders.”  The department has said funding for solar will roll out as soon as this summer, prioritizing “vulnerable households and households that include individuals with disabilities.” The funding will be administered through the newly formed Energy Resilience Fund, which is managed by the department’s Grid Deployment Office in consultation with the Federal Energy Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A second round of funding will focus on energy resilience solutions like microgrids and community solar, similar to what Casa Pueblo did at Adjuntas Pueblo Solar. “There are many eyes on this project,” said Alexis Massol González, founder of Casa Pueblo. “This is a top-notch model. … We Puerto Ricans are proud of having a project like this. May the Department of Energy come and study it.” A larger plan for energy resilience The Department of Energy will start allocating the energy resilience funding while also continuing an ongoing study, known as the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study, or PR100. That study is scheduled for release in December 2023, and the department has promised that based on the results additional funding will be allocated. A PR100 progress report released after its first year calls for widespread installation of rooftop solar panels in Puerto Rico, to provide decentralized energy and make people less reliant on the troubled grid, including high-voltage transmission wires that send energy from power plants on the south coast to population centers in the north. Disseminating information about this study was one of the goals of Granholm’s visit in early February. She met with residents and local leaders in Salinas, Vieques, Culebra, and Loíza — communities hit hard by hurricanes, disinvestment, and pollution from fossil fuel power plants and waste.  “I noticed that she was very considerate and listened to all the stakeholders,” said Alberto Colón, from Comunidad Guayamesa, an organization that installs and maintains solar panels for elderly residents in Guayama, a town on the south coast near AES’s massive coal plant. “I understand that it is not the same that you sit at a table and someone tells you something, compared to you actually going there and seeing it for yourself.” Alberto Colón and his family stand in front of their house in Guayama, Puerto Rico. Colón and other community members install and maintain rooftop solar panels for the elderly of the region. During Hurricane María in 2017, Guayama and surrounding communities suffered landslides and flooding that spread toxic coal ash. Many families were without power for months. To promote energy resilience, Colón and other community members installed solar panels on 25 homes and plan to add five more. But the funding they received was used only for installation. When the projects need repairs, “we sacrifice our own pockets,” he said. “It’s not a matter of installing the equipment and leaving it in God’s hands. We make sure to give it the necessary maintenance.” There are several large solar farms near Guayama, but residents feel these installations have exacerbated flooding and taken land that should be used for crops. They are adamant that new solar should come in smaller rooftop arrays, not as utility-scale solar. “If we have enough rooftops to do the work, it is unnecessary to sacrifice the land to generate what we need,” Colón said. “We have enough rooftops to generate three, four times what we need.” Indeed the PR100 one-year progress report, whose scenarios “rely on a significant increase in rooftop solar,” found that “renewable energy potential in Puerto Rico significantly exceeds total energy demand now and through 2050.” Colón hopes Granholm will recommend to the governor of Puerto Rico that the island’s administration “decides once and for all to install rooftop solar panels.” “We are crossing our fingers that it happens this way,” Colón said. In Salinas, a municipality near Guayama, a community center called Centro Comunal El Coquí also provides families with rooftop solar panels, having installed the equipment in four households. Like Colón, leaders in Salinas want solar energy to be deployed through rooftops instead of solar farms. They’ve intervened in legal proceedings to try to block utility-scale solar farms in the region, without success. “Community groups and environmental groups generally throughout Puerto Rico favor distributed renewable energy, not utility-scale, for a lot of reasons,” said Ruth Santiago, an environmental lawyer who lives in Salinas and has represented nonprofit organizations and community groups for over 30 years. “We have sprawling construction in Puerto Rico — because of the limited geographic space — and we are already below the agricultural land preservation target.” The sense of urgency in communities like Guayama and Salinas has its roots in years of struggle with the grid including after hurricanes Irma, María and Fiona. “We are tired,” said Rómulo Ortiz, from Centro Comunal El Coquí. “We are tired, and we want action.” Residents’ frustration and anger are aggravated by the lack of data on the grid situation. This failing was discussed during evidentiary hearings between Feb. 7 and Feb. 10 at the Energy Bureau, the independent agency that regulates energy on the island. The hearings aimed to set targets and ways to measure LUMA’s performance in operating and maintaining the grid. During the meetings, LUMA employees said it is difficult to measure the total amount of energy that enters the transmission system, and they have struggled to locate customers with complaints about outages or diagnose problems with the system. On the second day of the hearings, LUMA officials were unable to provide an estimate of how much of the grid it had assessed. Energy Bureau President Edison Avilés-Deliz said it is part of LUMA’s duties to conduct these general assessments and that the company had had enough time to do it. “I cannot believe it, honestly,” he said. The vice president for utility transformation at LUMA, Don Cortez, said four more years of inventory work would be necessary to establish the actual condition of the system “pole by pole.” Critics say the island doesn’t have that much time, another reason why new decentralized solar installations are necessary. During the hearings, economist and professor José Alameda-Lozada described access to energy as a human right. He suggested a new system of penalties and compensation for LUMA that would try to ensure LUMA provides better service. In other testimony, University of Puerto Rico electrical engineering professor Agustín Rivera said that the Energy Bureau should create a metric to measure the modernity of Puerto Rico’s electric system. “We are in the process of leaving behind centralized generation,” said Avilés-Deliz in response to these suggestions. “There are a lot of changes. We need to go step by step.” New interconnection goals After the evidentiary hearings at Puerto Rico’s Energy Bureau, LUMA will need, for the first time, to comply with specific metrics on interconnecting solar, including presumably new solar funded with the $1 billion. According to Puerto Rico’s interconnection law, LUMA is required to complete interconnection projects within 30 days, but that deadline is often not met. According to testimony reviewed during the hearings, LUMA’s average duration for activation was approximately 33 days in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023, and reached 36 days in the second quarter of the same fiscal year. But LUMA has previously not needed to report metrics to show its performance on interconnection. “LUMA didn’t have an interconnection metric,” said Santiago, who also wants LUMA to present residents with formal interconnection and net metering agreements. “They didn’t want it; they opposed it.” During the hearings, Commissioner Lilian Mateo said metrics need to be designed to achieve and go beyond the mandates of the interconnection law, even as LUMA will likely see a significant increase in demands for interconnection. LUMA did not respond to emailed questions about interconnection or requests for an interview. Casa Pueblo provides solar panels to households and businesses in the mountainside town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. It will inaugurate its new project, Adjuntas Pueblo Solar, on March 18. A potential model  Casa Pueblo has long been a model for solar energy and community resilience. Before launching Adjuntas Pueblo Solar, Casa Pueblo had already provided solar panels to more than 350 homes and businesses in the small mountainside town throughout the years, and residents came from other hurricane-damaged areas in the aftermath of 2017’s hurricanes Irma and María. After Hurricane María, “Casa Pueblo became an energy oasis,” Massol González said, where people would go to make phone calls made possible by energy from the solar panels. Solar fueled a radio station that broadcast throughout the crisis, providing crucial information and helping family members find each other. The work to create Adjuntas Pueblo Solar started in April 2019, with the aim of reducing commercial buildings’ energy costs and “creat[ing] a commitment with the planet,” Massol González said. A bakery, pizza place and ice cream shop are among the businesses newly acquiring solar on their roofs. With the help of two microgrids, they will share excess energy with other businesses in a cooperative way. Massol González and his allies don’t want to ditch the island’s larger grid altogether. Rather, they want to install solar connected to the grid, helping to make the whole system less reliant on fossil fuels and more resilient. “We are not destroying the country’s model,” Massol González said. “It is a way of fortifying the country’s model.” This article first appeared on Energy News Network and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

A fresh start for concentrated solar power?
20 Mar 2023 at 4:00am
by John Engel
Episode 40 of the Factor This! podcast features Craig Wood, CEO of the Australian next-gen concentrated solar power company Vast, which thinks it can change CSP's fortunes in the US. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. The story behind concentrated solar power is complicated. But that's not because it's a poor resource. Using mirrors and towers, CSP can cleanly generate electricity, provide long-duration thermal energy storage, and decarbonize heavy industry by producing heat. Its attributes only increase in value with higher penetrations of intermittent renewables, like solar photovoltaics and wind. CSP has a less-than-sunny history in the U.S, though. Installed solar PV capacity dwarfs that of CSP 113 GW to 2 GW. High costs associated with construction have led to bankruptcies and shuttered projects. The story isn't much rosier for international markets either. So why, then, is the Department of Energy investing millions in CSP research, as international players circle the U.S. as an untapped opportunity? Vast, an Australian CSP company, is preparing to list on the New York Stock Exchange at a value of up to $586 million. The company's next-gen technology aims to overcome CSP's limitations by combining modularity with a novel approach to thermal energy storage. Vast CEO Craig Wood joined the Factor This! podcast from Renewable Energy World to break down CSP's partly cloudy past and why it may be poised for a resurgence. Two generations Concentrated solar power plants have been deployed for more than 40 years, with some of those pioneering projects still in operation today. At its core, CSP uses mirrors to concentrate and capture the sun's energy in the form of heat. In most systems, that heat is stored through a medium, typically molten salt, to become a large thermal battery. The energy can be dispatched in the form of process heat or electricity when needed. The evolution of CSP technology can be grouped into two generations. Generation 1 Parabolic trough collectors from a concentrated solar project (Courtesy: Abengoa) The most widely deployed CSP technology uses a series of linear collectors called parabolic troughs. These focus the sun's energy on a pipe filled with thermal oil. As of 2020, parabolic trough systems represented 4,000 MW of the 6,128 MW of total installed CSP capacity. The thermal oil does have limitations, though, as it can only heat up to 400 degrees Celsius. By the time that heat passes through a storage medium and is ultimately used to create steam and spin an electric turbine, the power cycle operates between 330-350 degrees Celsius, which is relatively inefficient. The power cycle limitation raises the cost of the energy, though the systems are still widely deployed. A significant portion of Spain's overnight energy comes from parabolic trough systems. Generation 2 SolarReserves Crescent Dunes central tower CSP Project, near Tonopah, Nevada, has an electricity generating capacity of 110 MW. Photo from SolarReserve Central tower CSP systems feature a tall, central tower, typically around 750 feet in height. Positioned around that tower are a field of curved mirrors, called heliostats, that bidirectionally track the sun and focus the light toward the central tower. These systems have been deployed in the U.S., Morocco, Dubai, Chile, and China. The advantage of the central tower system is that it uses molten salt both as the storage medium and as the medium that collects the heat. Salt is pumped up the tower and heated by the concentrated sunlight. Central tower systems support higher temperatures because molten salt can operate up to 600 degrees Celsius. That allows a steam turbine to run at 538 degrees Celsius, which is the typical steam turbine operating temperature, improving the power cycle and economics over parabolic trough systems. Central tower systems face their own sets of challenges, though, both due to technical and scale limitations. As for the technical limitation, the systems don't adequately absorb changes in solar penetration due to clouds. Fluctuations in the salt temperature that is heating downstream equipment can cause failures. Then there's a fundamental scale limitation. The heliostats positioned around the central tower can extend to a mile away. Adding mirrors to such a wide-flung array becomes uneconomical beyond a certain point. Next-gen tech Vast’s 1.1 MW CSP Demonstration Plant in Forbes, Australia was in operation for a 32-month period (Courtesy: Vast) Vast aims to combine the best attributes of both the parabolic trough and central tower systems in its next-gen concentrated solar power technology. The company's system combines the modularity of parabolic trough plants with the heat attributes of central tower systems. The modular systems can then be linked together to overcome scale limitations. Vast's advantage may be its use of liquid sodium metal instead of oil or molten salt as its distribution conduit, borrowing technical expertise from the nuclear industry, which uses it as a coolant in reactors. The sodium passes through modular towers, transferring the heat to molten salt for storage. The heat from that molten salt can then be used to create steam and spin a turbine or to create process heat. "We've got the best of both worlds," Wood said. Capital from a wealthy investor in Australia allowed Vast to perfect the technology over the past decade. In 2018, a 1.1 MW demonstration plant was connected to the grid near Sydney and operated for 32 months. Now, the company is setting its focus on a 30 MW/288 MWh utility-scale reference plant project in Port Augusta, Australia. The facility is expected to reach a final investment decision by the end of 2023. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has committed to providing up to AUD$65 million ($43.19 million) of grant funding for the project alongside concessional financing of up to AUD$110 million ($73.1 million) from the Australian government. Taken together, Vast said it has secured 80% of financing for the project, with the remainder of the funds likely coming from the company's NYSE listing. Wood said construction of subsequent Vast next-gen CSP projects is unlikely to begin until 2025, once the Port Augusta plant is operational. "There's a couple of things that happen when you're building a utility-scale power station," Wood said. "The most important limiting factor is that if someone is going to buy power from you, then they want to visit a working power station." Vast also sees an opportunity in using the technology to produce e-fuels, like green methanol. The Port Augusta CSP plant will be co-located with a solar methanol demonstration plant, which will be used to produce green methanol to help decarbonize hard-to-abate industries, like aviation and shipping. The plant will feature a 10 MW electrolyzer and a methanol process partly-powered by the neighboring CSP plant. The project will receive funding from the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (known as HyGATE) of up to AUD$19.4 million (US$13.1 million) and EUR13.2 million (US$14.15 million). Concentrated solar power's moment? Vast's plans to enter the U.S. market were in motion long before passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides millions of dollars for clean energy deployment. The legislation may, however, help Vast build large, or more, projects. The sunny attributes of Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California all present opportunities for CSP development, Wood said. But maybe the biggest factor in selecting the U.S. is the success of solar PV and wind. While markets don't yet adequately reward long-duration energy storage, resources that can dispatch clean energy when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing will only become more critical with further penetration of intermittent renewables. "PV, wind, and some batteries run into a wall at somewhere between 20% and 40% to go" in decarbonizing the grid, Wood said. "You need different technologies. You need dispatchable long-duration renewable technologies." Wood is excited about the future despite CSP's troubled past. While the application of CSP may not have been well-timed 10, 20, or 30 years ago, the energy transition requires a backstop resource that can support the retirement of fossil fuel-powered assets. "There's a massive need for what we do," Wood said. "Is it going to be hard? Absolutely. It's been ridiculously hard so far. But we've got to get on with it to actually decarbonize these hard-to-abate sectors."

North Carolina approves its first wind farm
17 Mar 2023 at 12:29pm
by John Engel
North Carolina regulators have approved Apex Clean Energy's request to build a 189 MW wind farm, the state's first, in Chowan County. The permit from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Energy Mineral, and Land Resources allows for up to 45 wind turbines and associated infrastructure to be built as part of the Timbermill Wind project. The permit is the first for a facility under the North Carolina session law passed in 2013 establishing a permitting program for wind energy facilities.  Apex Clean Energy must still receive building permits before being able to proceed, according to reports. The developer expects to begin construction as soon as this summer. Turbines for the Timbermill Wind project will be spaced approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mile apart. The project will be sited on managed timberland and open farmland in rural Chowan County. Existing high-voltage power lines and highways will limit the need for new infrastructure, Apex said.

Louisiana utility wants to go (really) big on solar
17 Mar 2023 at 12:10pm
by John Engel
Only a few weeks after Entergy Louisiana asked state regulators to approve 225 MW of new solar—a modest request for some states but one that would nearly double Louisiana's installed capacity—the utility has upped its request by 3 GW. Entergy Louisiana filed the request with the Louisiana Public Service Commission on March 14 now asking for approval of 3,225 MW of new solar. Louisiana ranks 38t in the U.S. for solar with 278 MW of installed capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. If Entergy Louisiana's request is approved, Louisiana would have more than 3,500 MW of solar capacity by the time the projects are completed. For comparison, New York State ranked 10th in the U.S. with 4,259 MW of installed solar capacity in 2022. Entergy Louisiana CEO Phillip May said the request "shows we're serious" about protecting the environment and supporting economic development. “Like never before, our state has an opportunity to retain businesses, support expansion projects and attract new companies on a global scale, but it’s going to take meeting their operational and sustainability needs,” May said. Entergy Louisiana said all of the projects that make up the 3 GW ask would be built in Louisiana, meaning local communities and economies would benefit from job creation and additional tax revenues generated during the construction of the facilities. The utility added that increased solar capacity would help insulate customers from volatile natural gas prices. Entergy Corporation, Entergy Louisiana's parent company, plans to add 15-17 GW of renewable sources by the end of 2031.

Fund to provide coal country schools with solar power and workforce development
17 Mar 2023 at 10:48am
by Renewable Energy World
A partnership aims to provide schools in Virginia and West Virginia with solar power systems and training for students to one day join the renewable energy workforce. The Coalfield Solar Fund is a partnership among Intuit, The National Energy and Education Development (NEED) Project, a nonprofit educational organization, and Secure Solar Futures, a provider of on-site clean energy and educational programs to schools and colleges. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000 per campus to qualifying and successful K-12 public school and community college applicants to allow them to deploy solar power solutions and prepare local students for careers in renewable energy. To qualify for the grant program, applicants must agree both to obtain on-site solar power systems through a power purchase agreement with Secure Solar Futures and to partner with the company to start and operate a program to train solar installers locally. For the first phase of funding, applicants must submit a brief notice of interest form through the program’s website,, by April 17. Awards will be announced at the start of the new school year this fall.  Intuit is building off the success of its earlier collaboration with Secure Solar Futures on a solar project in Wise, Virginia with the Coalfield Solar Fund. The program provides incentive grant funding opportunities for public K-12 and community colleges to apply for solar energy systems and equipment at no upfront cost, while simultaneously arming local workforces with valuable and vital skills for clean energy careers. The Coalfield Solar Fund establishes in-classroom, educational opportunities on STEM and clean energy, and delivers a hands-on learning curriculum for high school students while also providing economic savings for schools on their energy bills.

Duke Energy Florida building its first floating solar project
17 Mar 2023 at 10:28am
by Renewable Energy World
Duke Energy Florida said that its first floating solar array pilot will begin construction in March in Polk County between Orlando and Tampa. The nearly 1 MW floating solar array is expected to feature more than 1,800 floating solar modules and occupy around 2 acres of water surface on an existing cooling pond at the Duke Energy Hines Energy Complex in Bartow. “We’re excited to get hands-on experience with Duke Energy Florida’s first floating solar project at one of our own power plant sites,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Unique pilots like floating solar are helping us better understand the capabilities of innovative clean energy technologies that can benefit our Florida customers and communities now and in the future.” Crews will construct and assemble the module floating system on land in segments before securing it with anchors in the water. The project will take approximately five to six months to complete. The pilot is part of Duke Energy's Vision Florida program, which is designed to test innovative projects such as microgrids and battery energy storage, among others, to prepare the power grid for a clean energy future.

Texas drove out Chinese firm, not the wind farm it planned
16 Mar 2023 at 2:18pm
by Associated Press Editors
DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Long before a Chinese spy balloon captivated and spooked the U.S. public, Kyle Bass foresaw what he deemed another foreign danger slated for skies above the Texas-Mexico border: wind turbines. Dozens of them, roughly 700 feet (213 meters) tall — as big as San Antonio's tallest skyscraper — were set to sprout across thousands of scrubby acres near the pristine Devils River. Protests that a wind farm would harm a sensitive ecosystem in Texas flopped, but when attention turned to a Chinese billionaire behind the project, state lawmakers raced to pull the plug. “Drumming up the ire against the national security issues was easier than the environmental issues,” said Bass, whose Monarch Ranch near the Mexico border and the planned wind farm is a flight path for migrating birds and butterflies. U.S.-China ties are strained amid growing tensions over security and trade. In nearly a dozen statehouses and Congress, a decades-old worry about foreign land ownership has spiked since the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon last month after it traversed the skies from Alaska to South Carolina. A vehicle a wind turbine, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, near Del Rio, Texas. Some landowners along the Devil's River argue that proposed wind turbines would kill birds, bats and disrupt monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico and impact ecotourism, a main source of income for many. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Local fears about national security initially yielded a victory for Bass and other Texas landowners in Val Verde County. But in a twist, plans for some of the tallest wind turbines in the country are back on — causing whiplash here in the rural borderlands, hurt feelings and testing of the limits of environmental action against renewable projects proliferating across the country. While President Joe Biden wants more wind and solar power to fight climate change, local resistance is growing in places asked to live with towering turbines. Some East Coast residents pushing back against thousands of them embody the opposition as the U.S. pursues deploying enough wind energy offshore by 2030 to power 10 million homes. In South Texas, worries over the wind farm being developed by GH America Energy, which is controlled by Chinese billionaire Sun Guangxin, fast torpedoed the project in 2021, previewing the wave of states now considering limits on foreign land ownership. Texas lawmakers altogether banned Chinese companies from accessing the state's power grid and other critical infrastructure, forcing the aspiring wind farm developers to sell their interest. The Spanish renewable energy company Greenalia bought it, wiping away national security concerns. GO DEEPER: Episode 20 of the Factor This! podcast features SOLV Energy CEO George Herschman, whose company is developing the largest solar project in the US, to share strategies that clean energy developers can use to overcome NIMBY opposition. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts! Ecological warnings And with that, state politicians vanished from the fight. Without legislation to protect Devils River, the project could get underway later this year. Landowners say ecological dangers still linger over the prospect of 46 wind turbines suddenly springing up in the county of barely 48,000 residents. Scores of whirring blades could endanger migratory birds that fly through the area seasonally and disrupt the flyways of monarch butterflies and Mexican free-tailed bats, millions of which call the county's Fern Cave home every year. The Devils River attracts thousands of visitors annually to the pristine white waters that flow for about 40 miles in Val Verde County, creating panoramic canyon views and offering a lens on ancient rock art. On a recent afternoon in February in Dolan Falls, cascading water was the only sound in a hollow of peaceful greenery. Fish swam through the waters, an unexpected sight in the middle of Texas desert. “If you look at the proliferation of wind farms across Texas, we haven’t said a word about 99% of it,” said Jeff Francell, a director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, which has come out against the project known as Blue Hills on Carma Ranch. A paddler floats along the Devil's River, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, near Del Rio, Texas. Some landowners along the Devil's River argue that proposed wind turbines would kill birds, bats and disrupt monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico and impact ecotourism, a main source of income for many. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) He recalls just one other time his group opposed a wind farm in Texas, where more than 10,000 turbines already spin, more than anywhere in the country. “It really just comes down to sensitive locations," he said. But those arguments have struggled to change minds, and even in Del Rio, not everyone opposes the turbines. “They don’t offend me and they don’t bother me,” said Beau Nettleton, an elected Val Verde County commissioner whose own property would be adjacent to the wind farm. “I personally think they look kind of neat.” Elsewhere in Del Rio, the rebooted battle has soured ranchers who found powerful allies just two years ago when the property was under Chinese control. Now those locals feel forgotten. Doug Meyer, who manages Monarch Ranch, said he would feel left behind if the wind farm is built now that national security concerns are resolved. Val Verde forgotten? America's biggest oil and gas state is moving aggressively against wind projects elsewhere while standing by at Carma Ranch. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is backing efforts to box out wind and solar development from economic incentives in Texas, which critics say would undercut renewables and boost fossil fuels. Proposals to create zoning limits for wind energy would not affect projects already under construction and a proposed permitting process would allow ventures underway to advance while companies seek permits. Republicans who railed against the China-backed wind farm never leaned into environmental concerns. “The most compelling part of the previous case I was involved in was the national security implications of the ownership,” said Republican Will Hurd, the former Texas congressman who represented Val Verde County and whose aides say is considering a 2024 presidential run. U.S. officials reviewed concerns about the location being too near Laughlin Air Force Base and determined it wasn't a threat. A person familiar with GH America Energy’s operations confirmed the company sold its interest in the wind farm after the new Texas law prohibited it from developing the project. The person declined to be publicly identified because they weren’t authorized to speak about the company. The sun sets behind a wind farm near Del Rio, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Some landowners along the Devil's River argue that proposed wind turbines would kill birds, bats and disrupt monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico and impact ecotourism, a main source of income for many. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Greenalia said in a statement the company was “highly committed” to respecting local biodiversity and that it was following existing laws and either obtained or are in the process of obtaining all necessary permits. It did not respond to questions about whether it had completed an environmental impact study, which Texas does not require. Devils River headwaters run up against the property of Alice Ball Strunk, who owns nearly 50 square miles of land split between two parcels. She's also president of the Devils River Conservancy, which has led opposition to wind turbines in Val Verde County for years. Rooms at her Hudspeth River Ranch go for upward of $650 a night and allow vacationers to isolate in the vast, quiet greenery extending to the river's springs. Sitting in her home library surrounded by hunting trophies, Strunk worries light pollution and the sight of turbines would hurt ecotourism. “It doesn’t seem right that someone who isn’t even a citizen here will profit over something that will reduce the neighbors’ values,” she said. Such arguments ring familiar to Erin Baker, a professor of industrial engineering at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who studies wind farm developments and said environmental concerns are common. “I think there also, unfortunately, is a little bit of — and you are not supposed to say it — but NIMBYism,” said Baker, referring to not-in-my-backyard opposition. “People don’t want change.”

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