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Dakota Power wins N.J. project approval, has billion-dollar solar plans

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In addition to the 50 MW project, Dakota Power Partners has proposed developing at least five more utility-scale solar facilities across the Garden State.

Dakota Power Partners, which said it intends to invest $1 billion in utility-scale solar in New Jersey, has won approval for the developer’s first solar farm as part of what could become a large project portfolio.

The Millville Planning Board unanimously approved the 50 MW solar farm during its monthly meeting on January 12, clearing the way for construction to begin by year’s end. Called Nabb Solar I, the project will be located in western Millville and is anticipated to begin operation in fall 2022.

Timothy Daniels, Dakota’s principal and co-founder, said the local officials were “quick to see the value of this project.”

Over the 30-year expected life of the project, Nabb Solar I is estimated to generate a total of approximately $7.8 million in taxes. Dakota said it will pay annual real estate taxes of approximately $102,295 to the City of Millville, $67,547 to Millville Public Schools, and $98,166 to Cumberland County, for a total of $268,008 in local taxes per year.

Joe Derella, director of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, called the project a “massive $70 million investment in our region” that will create hundreds of jobs.

“This is what the future of energy looks like in New Jersey,” said Millville Mayor Mike Santiago.

Nabb Solar I is one of six similar New Jersey projects being proposed by Dakota Power Partners, which has offices in Millville and Denver, Colorado. In total, Dakota is proposing a $1 billion utility-scale solar investment in the Garden State.

Utilizing a portfolio of utility-scale solar and solar+storage projects across the state, the company said it intends to achieve generating capacity totaling more than 1 GW in New Jersey.

According Dakota, the company has participated in the development of more than 3.15 GW of operating and in-construction wind and solar projects around the U.S., representing an aggregate capital investment in rural communities in excess of $3.8 billion.

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Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/01/25/dakota-power-wins-n-j-project-approval-has-billion-dollar-solar-plans/

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NREL looks at barriers to lithium-ion battery recycling and sees opportunities

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The analysts assessed the current state of reuse and recycling of large-format lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and battery energy storage and found there is plenty of room for improvement.

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a report detailing the technological, market, and regulatory hurdles to creating a circular economy for lithium-ion batteries.

The battery technology is increasingly in demand for energy storage and use in electric vehicles (EVs). But its current lifecycle is almost entirely one-way, from manufacture to consumption to disposal, with little thought given to reuse or recycling. Only one U.S. lithium-ion battery recycling facility exists today, the analysts said.

To start to rethink the one-way lifecycle, the NREL team assessed the current state of reuse and recycling of large-format lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and battery energy storage. They found that reusing and recycling the batteries could create U.S. market opportunities, stabilize the supply chain, reduce environmental impacts, and ease resource constraints.

And they found that a circular economy would derive more value from battery energy storage systems. Materials would be reused, recycled, or refurbished for multiple lifetimes rather than one-and-done, which uses up finite resources and creates waste.

Three barriers

The researchers said that technology, infrastructure, and processes are current barriers. For example, lithium-ion battery designs and makeup vary by manufacturer, making it hard to design a standard process to cost-effectively reuse or recover materials.

Regulations also play a critical role, but current codes and standards are unclear, complex, and vary by jurisdiction.

In addition, scant reliable, publicly available information exists on the state or volume of retired lithium-ion batteries, or on the cost to recondition them for other uses. The analysts recommended government-funded research, development, analysis, and incentives, as well as information exchanges, to increase knowledge and boost private investment.

Regulations also play a critical role, but current codes and standards are unclear, complex, and vary by jurisdiction, the researchers said.

Taylor Curtis

Based on their findings, NREL analysts highlighted existing regulations that could impact the installation and grid interconnection of repurposed lithium-ion batteries.

Some states like California or New York are revising their regulations to ensure requirements for connecting to the grid specifically apply to battery energy storage systems, said Taylor Curtis, project lead and NREL analyst. Curtis noted, “This is a big development considering interconnection regulations were not developed with these types of systems in mind.”

Defining waste

A further challenge is that it is unclear how decommissioned lithium-ion batteries are legally defined in terms of waste. As recently as July, no U.S. federal policies directly addressed battery energy storage system decommissioning, or either mandated or incentivized reuse or recovery of lithium-ion batteries.

In general, decommissioned lithium-ion batteries are often considered either hazardous or universal waste, both of which have their own regulations. Regulations also vary by jurisdiction, and non-compliance may lead to fines.

Violating California’s hazardous waste laws can result in a fine of up to $70,000 a day for each violation, the report said.

Federal hazardous waste laws and regulations are the most stringent, the research said, and govern how hazardous waste is generated, handled, stored, treated, transported, and disposed of. Lithium-ion batteries that are gathered, stored, or treated before recycling could be subject to hazardous waste laws.

In some states, the penalties for violating hazardous waste laws or regulations are more stringent than federal penalties. For example, the report said that intentionally or negligently violating a provision of California’s hazardous waste laws or regulations can result in a fine of up to $70,000 a day for each violation.

The report said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created alternative regulatory controls for recycling materials, such as lead-acid batteries. The aim of those rules is to encourage collecting and recycling hazardous waste. A similar designation for lithium-ion batteries, the NREL report said, could ease liability concerns and make the economics of recycling more desirable.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/25/nrel-looks-at-barriers-to-lithium-ion-battery-recycling-and-sees-opportunities/

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Floating PV comes to Universal Orlando Resort

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Installed by D3 Energy, the 250 kW system is one of only a few floating PV systems in the country.

D3 Energy has brought floating solar to Universal Orlando Resort, announcing the completion of a 250 kW system located at the park’s entrance and branded with the logo of Comcast, Universal’s parent company.

The 645-panel installation covers roughly half an acre of the retention pond’s surface and is anchored to the bottom of the pond, which is 35 feet deep.

The installation’s prominent Comcast logo was created using a product called SolarSkin developed by Sistine Solar. According to the Boston-based tech startup, SolarSkin is a customizable graphic overlay that can be imprinted with any artwork and applied to solar arrays without affecting the efficiency of the modules underneath.

The project’s developer, D3 Energy, occupies an interesting and underdeveloped aspect of the U.S. solar industry: floating PV. Three years ago, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that installing floating solar photovoltaics on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate about 10% of the nation’s annual electricity production.

D3 Energy has also developed floating PV projects at the Altamonte Springs Water Facility in Altamonte Springs, Florida, the Orlando International Airport, the Orlando Utilities Operation Facility, and the Miami International Airport.

In a previous interview with pv magazine USA, Stetson Tchividjian, director of business development at D3Energy, said that he expects the cost gap between land-based solar and floating PV to close soon, citing floating PV’s lower operation and management costs, no land costs, and the increased efficiency of the panels.

“These factors over the system’s lifetime make floating solar as cost-effective–and, in some cases, less expensive–than land-based systems,” said Tchividjian.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/25/floating-pv-comes-to-universal-orlando-resort/

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Gulf Power breaks ground on two large solar projects and one massive battery system

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As the FPL subsidiary continues its parent’s solar push, 150 MW of solar and 409 MW of storage are set to come to the Sunshine State.

Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light (FPL), has announced that its solar generation portfolio is set to be bolstered by nearly 150 MW as the utility begins construction on two solar installations in northwest Florida.

The new solar energy centers under construction in the Panhandle are the Cotton Creek Solar Energy Center in Escambia County and the Blue Springs Solar Energy Center in Jackson County, both of which are set to clock in at 74.5 MW. The two projects are each expected to create roughly 500 jobs as they’re being built.

In addition to its solar projects, Gulf Power also recently broke ground on the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center, which is set to be among the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery systems, as well as the largest battery installation on the East Coast. This storage system is part of a modernization plan that is expected to accelerate the retirement of aging natural gas units at a neighboring power plant.

Located in Parrish, Florida, the 409 MW behemoth of a battery project is expected to begin serving customers in late 2021. The Manatee center will create 70 new jobs during construction, and it is projected to save FPL customers more than $100 million in avoided fuel costs over the project’s life.

Alongside the projects that have begun construction, Gulf Power also announced an additional five projects in the early phases of development across northwest Florida: the First City Solar Energy Center in North Escambia County, the Blackwater River Solar Energy Center in Santa Rosa County, the Chipola River Solar Energy Center and Flowers Creek Solar Energy Center in Calhoun County, and the Apalachee Solar Energy Center in Jackson County.

While the capacities for these projects in development have not yet been released, it’s safe to assume that most, if not all, will end up being that magic 74.5 MW, as projects larger than that in Florida are subject to additional permitting that the majority of project developers avoid.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/25/gulf-power-breaks-ground-on-two-large-solar-projects-and-one-massive-battery-system/

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Vermont utility building microgrid to provide backup power for town

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GMP said Panton is the perfect place for this project because it leverages the utility’s existing 4.9 MW solar facility with utility-scale batteries already up and running in the town.

Green Mountain Power (GMP) will break ground this spring on a utility microgrid in Panton, Vermont, offering a new way to keep the power on for residents, farms, and municipal buildings in the town center during power outages.

GMP said Panton is the perfect place for this project because it leverages the utility’s existing 4.9 MW solar facility with utility-scale batteries already up and running in the town. GMP noted it will be among the first utilities in the country to island a distribution circuit using inverter-based sources with no reliance on fossil fuel generation backup.

“It is heartbreaking to see the impacts of extreme weather across the country, and it’s a sad but important reminder that we must innovate to build resiliency to protect from extreme, unpredictable weather,” said Mari McClure, GMP’s president and CEO.

In the event of a prolonged grid outage, the Panton microgrid will enable energy from the batteries and solar panels to flow to a network of customers served by the traditional grid. According to GMP, this islanding effect will work independently from the larger electric system when needed and could provide battery backup power for days.

To start, the project will help keep power on during outages for about 50 customers in Panton, with the planned possible expansion to include another 900 customers on that circuit. The utility noted the batteries are also used to lower costs for all GMP customers during peak energy times.

Resiliency zones like the one created by Panton’s microgrid are a core feature of the GMP Climate Plan, a package of infrastructure initiatives approved by Vermont’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) last year to make communities more resistant to outages and help ensure they can recover more quickly if outages occur.

The PUC approved the microgrid phase of the Panton project in fall 2020. GMP’s solar and energy storage facility in Panton first came online in 2019. Since then, the utility’s engineering teams have been designing the microgrid aspect, which is expected to be fully constructed and working for customers by the end of June.

This year, GMP will be working with three additional towns most affected by weather-related outages to create resiliency zones. Using outage data, GMP outreach is underway to determine interest from possible towns to join the program. GMP said it plans to build on this work, adding more resiliency zones in more towns every year.

GMP also continues to deploy batteries in customers’ homes and businesses. According to the utility, there are about 3,000 home battery systems in its service area that provide power to customers during outages, as well as help save money for all utility customers by driving down cost on peak energy days.

GMP offers two home battery programs: the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Powerwall programs developed in partnership with local solar companies. GMP’s BYOD for Business program also recently helped Vermont’s statehouse become one of the first in the country to have battery backup.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/25/vermont-utility-building-microgrid-to-provide-backup-power-for-town/

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