Duke Acquiring
New Solar Capacity

Duke Energy is committing $500 million to expand its solar generating capacity in North Carolina.

As part of the plan, the utility will acquire and construct solar facilities, totaling 128 MW of capacity:

Duke has also signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 MW of capacity:

Duke Energy’s request for proposals targeted solar facilities greater than 5 MW and was limited to projects that were in the company’s current transmission and distribution queue.

For projects that Duke Energy will own, the company must obtain approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for the transfer of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the developing company to Duke Energy.

Duke Energy will then take ownership of the facilities and be responsible for building and having them in operation by the end of 2015. No NCUC approval is needed for the company’s PPAs, which are part of Duke Energy’s compliance with Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards and are recovered through a rider mechanism.


New U.S. Large-Scale
Solar Capacity Soars

Solar additions to U.S. large-scale generating capacity were up by nearly 70% in the first half of the year over the same period last year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

While large-scale capacity additions in the first half of the year were 40% less than the capacity additions in the same period last year, the EIA reports that renewables capacity has soared. In addition to the aforementioned solar additions, the EIA reports that wind capacity in the first half of the year was more than double the level in the first half of 2013. Natural gas additions were down by about half.

A total of 4.35 GW of new large-scale generating capacity has come online during the first six months of the year, the EIA says. Natural gas plants, almost all combined-cycle plants, made up more than half of the additions, while solar plants contributed more than a quarter and wind plants around one-sixth.

Solar additions amounted to 1,146 MW, the EIA says. About three-quarters of this solar capacity was located in California, including the Topaz and Desert Sunlight Phase 1 and 2 photovoltaic plants and the Genesis solar thermal plant. Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts made up most of the rest.

The EIA utility-scale report does not include solar capacity additions below 1 MW that are typically used in distributed power applications at residential and commercial sites.


Group Promotes Value Of CSP With Storage

The Concentrating Solar Power Alliance (CSPA) has issued an updated report making a case for the economic and reliability benefits of deploying concentrating solar power (CSP) electricity generation systems in concert with thermal energy storage.

CSP with energy storage is more competitive on an economic basis than wind or solar photovoltaic sources when the comprehensive net grid system costs are compared, the report says. In particular, the long-term energy, ancillary service and capacity benefits are said to provide an additional $30/MWh to $60/MWh when compared to a PV plant with equal annual energy production in high renewable penetration scenarios. The CSPA says this finding is critical for the development of renewable energy portfolios in regions with high solar potential.

As renewable energy penetration increases, the operational flexibility offered by CSP with storage supports integration of wind and PV, the report says. For example, the maintenance of CSP with thermal storage in the portfolio as a dispatchable resource could serve to counteract moves to curtail variable renewable energy generation.


Central America
Seeks Solar

New analysis from IHS Technology says Central America is attracting attention from photovoltaic power developers and is on track to install 1.5 GW through 2018.

This year, total PV capacity for the six countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama is forecast to reach 22 MW, up from 6 MW last year. Next year is expected to see a great leap forward, IHS says, when PV capacity leaps to 243 MW. But it is in the following three years when the solar market will make its greatest strides in the region, with aggregate PV capacity from 2016 to 2018 accounting for 81% of the six-year projected total.

Overall, IHS says the region’s current PV pipeline of planned utility-scale projects amounts to 1.3 GW, with half of the projects holding signed power purchase agreements (PPAs). Moreover, the region is enjoying greater policy support for solar renewable energy. The pipeline is expected to grow now that a couple of tenders have ignited the market, and developers are testing the waters to access new project opportunities.

This year, El Salvador awarded 94 MW of PV in a tender that grew out of an original plan for 60 MW of PV together with an additional 40 MW of wind. The bid prices for the three projects awarded in El Salvador ranged from $102/MWh to $123/MWh.

In an effort to craft winning bid prices, developers are targeting projects sized above 10 MW, IHS says, leaving the awarded capacity in the hands of a few companies. All told, three companies shared the awarded 94 MW in El Salvador. Three companies also took home the 85 MW awarded in Guatemala.

For its part, Panama is still finalizing details for the upcoming October tender, IHS reports, but the average size of more than 20 licensed projects is 24 MW, pointing to another tender with only a handful of winners. Honduras, meanwhile, has opened up for more developers by designating as much as 600 MW of projects for PPA approval.

One potential roadblock in the region’s renewables pathway is in securing capital.

“The problem in Central America is getting the financing,” says one industry veteran with experience in financing renewable energy projects in the region. “Commercial banks will not generally lend there, so you have to look at the multilateral banks such as the International Finance Corp., Inter-American Development Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corp., etc. They all have country limits every year, so there may be a funding shortage.”


New York Revamps
Solar Incentives

New York’s multiple solar programs are transitioning to the single, statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program.

The NY-Sun Incentive Program increases the size of non-residential systems eligible for incentives from 100 kW to 200 kW and also provides incentives for non-residential systems that are installed through power purchase agreements and leases, a strategy intended to stimulate market investment.

The program provides financial support for solar projects and uses a megawatt block system approach for regional solar development. The program divides the state into three regions - Con Edison territory, Long Island and Upstate. Each region is assigned separate megawatt blocks and incentive levels for residential solar projects up to 25 kW and small non-residential solar projects up to 200 kW.

When the megawatt target for the first block in each sector - residential or small non-residential - within a region is reached, that block is closed and a new block for the sector is started with a new megawatt target and a lower incentive level. Once all of the blocks for a particular region and sector are filled, an incentive for that region and sector will no longer be offered.

The arrangement is intended to phase out incentives in regions where market conditions can support it. The program expects to add more than 3 GW of installed solar capacity in the state by 2023.

Megawatt blocks and incentives for large commercial systems over 200 kW will be available in 2015.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority says it will work closely with Public Service Enterprise Group Long Island, which will administer the program there. While growth of solar in the residential sector has been very successful on Long Island, small non-residential solar growth has been slower.


DG Solar Should Exceed $182B By 2023

The billions of dollars of public and private investment spent on distributed generation (DG) technologies in recent years have yielded strong results in both cost reduction and technical capabilities, says a new report from Navigant Research.

As both a cause and effect of this investment, new DG business models have been deployed, such as third-party ownership enabled by leases and power purchase agreements. According to Navigant, worldwide revenue from DG is expected to grow from $97 billion in 2014 to more than $182 billion by 2023.

To date, DG has had more of an effect on traditional electricity markets in western Europe than in any other region, according to the report. Utilities are losing hundreds of billions of dollars in market capitalization as DG reaches higher levels of penetration in leading countries such as Germany, the U.K. and Italy. The prospect of similar losses by utilities in the U.S. is prompting a struggle among utilities, the DG industry and regulators over the future of DG models, Navigant says.


Nextility Expands
Into Energy Brokerage

Washington, D.C.-based solar electric and thermal developer Skyline Innovations has changed its name to Nextility Inc. to reflect its expansion into the energy brokerage business.

The company recently launched Nextility Power and Gas, which uses energy monitoring technology to enable small businesses in deregulated energy markets to procure electricity from different suppliers.

Nextility’s system automatically monitors and compares a customer’s current rate with what is available in the competitive marketplace.

The company has received $7 million in funding to expand its services, develop its technology and launch into new markets.


Borrego Signs Supply Agreement With LG

LG Electronics USA has signed a contract with Borrego Solar Systems Inc. to supply 24 MW of its solar modules to the California-based developer.

Under the agreement, LG will supply its Mono X series solar panels to Borrego Solar through 2015. Borrego will sell these panels to the commercial solar sector as an LG-preferred integrator in North America.

Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar, says the agreement will support the company’s efforts in the growing commercial sector while providing a source of photovoltaic panels that are not subject to U.S. Commerce Department tariffs on Chinese modules.

LG solar panels are manufactured in Korea.


Solar Dominates New U.S. Cleantech Jobs

A new report from the nonprofit business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) shows that more than 12,500 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced in the second quarter of this year (Q2’14) - more than double the number of jobs announced in the first quarter.

Solar power generation led all sectors in Q2’14 with more than 5,300 jobs announced. The wind industry posted more than 2,700 jobs, many stemming from projects that qualified for the recently expired production tax credit.

According to E2’s new report, five solar companies announced significant hiring in the residential sector, expanding their existing workforce in the prime solar markets of Arizona, California, New York and Massachusetts. Each of these states has strong net-metering policies, E2 notes.

The top 10 states for announced cleantech in Q2’14 are as follows:


Finavera Buying Into U.S. Solar Market

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Finavera Wind Energy Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the equity of San Diego-based sales and marketing firm Solar Alliance of America Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, Finavera will acquire Solar Alliance for $4 million in cash and $2 million in stock. The company intends to finance the transaction from the approximately $10.5 million expected from the sale of its Irish wind energy project or by way of a bridge financing through the issuance of debt.

Going forward, Finavera says it intends to focus its renewable energy development efforts on residential and utility-scale solar projects in the U.S. Artie Rose, Solar Alliance of America’s president and CEO, will join Finavera’s board of directors on completion of the transaction.


Saudi Arabia Evaluating Solar-Diesel Hybrids

Saudi Arabia’s poultry industry and other agriculture sectors are evaluating diesel-solar hybrid power systems as alternatives to the purely fossil-fueled generators they currently rely on.

The assessment comes from a conference organized by the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) this week.

“Hybrid solar-diesel systems are a viable solution to provide power to Saudi Arabia’s poultry producers, many of which are not connected to the national electric grid,” says Abdulmohsen Al Shoaibi, managing partner of DarSolar, a Saudi Arabia-based solar engineering firm. “Such solutions can help reduce the industry’s heavy reliance on diesel fuel.”

As a result of the heavy dependence on diesel fuel, Saudi poultry companies are incurring notably higher energy costs than Brazilian producers, which accounted for nearly 79% of the kingdom’s poultry import in 2012.

Dar Solar is currently examining a solar-hybrid solution for a hatchery that consumes 900,000 liters of diesel annually through four generators. The solar hybrid solution would likely include the combination of existing generators with PV panels and, potentially, battery storage, Al Shoaibi says.

“Hybrid solar-diesel systems can help local poultry producers remain competitive against imports by ensuring an affordable and reliable source of power to cool their poultry houses,” says Browning Rockwell, executive director of the SASIA.


ReneSola Lab
Joins Intertek

The ReneSola Jiangsu Product Center Laboratory in China has joined Intertek’s Satellite product acceptance program.

Intertek’s data acceptance program recognizes the laboratory test data of qualified members. As an accredited member, ReneSola can conduct in-house testing of its products at its facilities and mark qualifying modules with Intertek’s Electrical Testing Laboratories certification stamp.


Xcel Seeks Up To 200 MW Of Solar

Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS), a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, is seeking proposals for additional solar energy resources as a component of its resource planning process.

Through this solicitation, SPS is requesting proposals for up to 200 MW of solar PV generation resources, which must begin delivery to SPS on or before Dec. 31, 2016, and must be contracted through a power purchase agreement.

SPS serves 383,000 customers in the Panhandle and South Plains regions of Texas, as well as the eastern and southeastern counties of New Mexico. The company’s transmission system also extends into Oklahoma and Kansas. S

New & Noteworthy

Duke Acquiring New Solar Capacity




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