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Product roundup: Enphase, Panasonic, Con Edison, startups, and more

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Check out this week’s list of some of the newest announcements related to clean energy products.

This year kicked off with a slew of new clean energy products, and over the past week, the announcements kept on coming. To stay up to date on what’s new, check out this latest product roundup:

ConnectDER meter device

New York City-based utility Con Edison is offering, free of charge, a device that can save upwards of $1,000 for a residential customer installing a new solar array. The Smart ConnectDER, built by project partner ConnectDER, allows the customer to avoid the cost of upgrading the circuit breaker panel. It also eliminates the need for excessive electrical boxes on the side of the home.

The Smart ConnectDER is an adapter that uses the electric meter socket as a point of interconnection for solar power. It fits on most electric meters and works for solar arrays up to 15 kW. Con Edison provided 300 Smart ConnectDERs to customers during a 2019 pilot program and has received state funding to provide an additional 2,400 units. The utility said it plans to continue the program even after reaching that target. More info available here.

Separately, Virginia-based ConnectDER announced it received a U.S. patent for “innovations” to its products. More info available here.

e-Zinc raises cash to commercialize energy storage tech

e-Zinc, a Toronto-based startup, raised C$2.3 million ($1.8 million) in a closed round led by BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice to help accelerate commercialization of the tech company’s long-duration energy storage solution.

According to e-Zinc, it developed a grid-scale solution that stores energy in physically free zinc metal, scales energy capacity at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries, and enables economical energy delivery over a period of multiple days. This latest financing adds to other equity rounds and government grants. The company plans to launch a pilot project in Ontario in May and has set its sights on entering the U.S. market. More info available here.

Panasonic expands products and installer program

Panasonic Corp. of North America recently promoted 13 installers across the U.S. to the Elite and Premium tiers of its Residential Solar Installer Program. Installers and homeowners will not only gain access to the Panasonic Solar Modules portfolio, but also receive access to the new high-efficiency Panasonic Solar EverVolt Modules, available beginning in February.

Homeowners in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Iowa, and Indiana will be able to access Panasonic’s solar products from seven Elite Level installers, who will be the first in Panasonic’s network to gain access to new products and rebates. Six additional installers in Florida, Texas, and New Mexico will also offer homeowners Panasonic’s benefits as new Premium Level installers. More info available here.

Enphase solar+storage product compatibility

California-based Enphase Energy said that its Enphase Storage systems are now compatible with Enphase M215 and M250 microinverter-based solar systems. According to the company, the expanded compatibility provides approximately 300,000 additional Enphase system owners with the possibility of achieving grid-agnostic energy resilience through the Enphase Upgrade Program.

Similarly, this new combo of solar and storage products, as well as previous compatibility with IQ 6 and IQ 7 microinverter-based systems, now allows U.S. installers to approach and offer storage upgrades to nearly the vast majority of Enphase homeowners nationwide. More info available here.

NeoVolta spreads storage distribution network

NeoVolta, a San Diego-based manufacturer of residential energy storage systems, has expanded its distribution network into Utah, adding to California, Nevada, and Arizona. Under a three-year agreement, PMP Energy is able to secure specific geographic exclusivities for distribution, in exchange for making minimum purchases of up to $15 million.

According to NeoVolta, its NV14 product features a storage capacity of 14.4 kWh and 7.7 kW of continuous power discharge. That capacity can be scaled up to 24 kWh with the optional NV24 add-on battery, without the expense of an additional inverter. NeoVolta systems are engineered with lithium iron phosphate chemistry. More info available here.

Rhombus nets certifications for EV remote charging dispenser

Rhombus Energy Solutions has landed certification by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the Consumer Electronics Testing and Certification Services Group (CSA) for its RES-D2-CS20 electric vehicle (EV) charging dispenser. The product is compatible with Rhombus’s UL-certified 60 kW and 125 kW power conditioning systems (PCS) for high-power EV charging of medium- and heavy-duty fleets.

Combined with the UL 1741-SA certification of Rhombus’ AC to DC PCS units, these certifications allow Rhombus solutions to be used in both unidirectional and bi-directional vehicle-to-grid applications, meaning fleet operators could use their EVs as a source of energy storage. More info available here.

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Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/01/22/product-roundup-enphase-panasonic-con-edison-startups-and-more/

Energy

Energy Transition Jobs: PG&E, Nexus Power Group, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and more

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Job moves in solar, storage, cleantech, utilities, and energy transition finance.

Marlene Santos

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) named Marlene Santos executive vice president and chief customer officer, effective March 15. She will be responsible for the California utility’s customer contact centers; programs supporting energy efficiency, electric vehicles, rooftop solar, demand response, and low-income customers; billing, metering, and account services; marketing and communications; and regional leadership teams that PG&E will form as part of its regionalization efforts. She will report to CEO Patti Poppe. Santos previously was president of Gulf Power Co., a unit of NextEra Energy. Prior to that, she served as NextEra’s chief integration officer for the company’s acquisition of Gulf Power and two other acquisitions.

ESS Inc., a manufacturer of flow batteries for commercial- and utility-scale energy storage applications, named Raffi Garabedian to its board of directors. Garabedian previously served as a member of First Solar’s executive team and was the company’s chief technology officer from 2012 through 2020.

Charles River Associates said that David Walls has joined as a vice president in its Energy Practice. Walls specializes in clean energy, renewables, decarbonization, and grid modernization. He has worked with government organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Energy, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and California Energy Commission to develop and implement energy technology programs related to smart grid, distributed generation, storage, electric vehicles, and advanced energy systems.

Nexus Power Group announced its formation and key executives. The Dallas-based firm is a renewable energy independent power producer and consultancy that builds, generates, and coordinates the delivery of solar energy to end users. Sargon Daniel will serve as CEO. He has advised on and structured more than $5 billion in energy transactions. Ian Delahunty will serve as president of the firm’s development arm, which has sourced and is developing a pipeline in excess of 1 GW of generation, including the 110 MW Tyson Nick Solar Project, the 180 MW MRG Goody Solar Project, and a portfolio of distributed generation parks. Delahunty brings two decades of experience in the energy industry, having led teams and companies in the U.S., North Africa, Vietnam, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Duane Lock will serve as president of Nexus Power Consulting. He was as founder and president of River Oaks Energy. The consulting arm will offer energy management and brokerage services.

Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments, and Shopify Inc. founder Tobias Lütke have joined as new investors in Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the cleantech fund led by Bill Gates. Other new investors include John Sobrato, a real-estate billionaire; Seth Klarman, CEO of hedge fund Baupost Group; Chris Stolte, founder of Tableau Software Inc.; and Ben Walton, the grandson of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton.

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Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/24/energy-transition-jobs-pge-nexus-power-group-breakthrough-energy-ventures-and-more/

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Trina Solar launches global energy storage unit

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Trina Solar Co. Ltd., a leading PV manufacturer based in China, has launched Trina Storage, a new global business unit dedicated to energy storage.

Trina said its new energy storage system provider engineers solutions for solar+storage, standalone grid services, and other applications, such as large industrial and microgrid uses.

Due to its experience in the global solar industry, the company claimed Trina Storage is well positioned to solve the technical challenges of independent power producers, developers, and engineering, procurement, and construction contractors in the rapidly transforming renewable energy landscape.

According to the company, its storage solutions combine high-quality lithium iron phosphate batteries and power conversion systems in a containerized solution with software and services like monitoring and support. The company said Trina Storage uses Tier 1 components to deliver reliable solutions and relies on a strong supply chain, allowing fast deployment of energy storage projects at a local and global scale.

Terry Chen, head of overseas storage business at Trina Solar, said that with ongoing growth in the renewable energy industry expected as energy needs grow, “storage is the only solution that can support this transition effectively.”

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: editors@pv-magazine.com.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/24/trina-solar-launches-global-energy-storage-unit/

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California’s rate inequality is likely to worsen as energy transition advances

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A new report says that the state’s investor-owned utilities charge residential electricity customers much higher prices than are paid in most of the country, impacting low- and moderate-income people the most.

Residential customers of California’s three largest investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are being charged as much as two to three times more for electricity than it actually costs to produce and distribute, an inequality that impacts low- and moderate-income people the most.

That was one of the findings of Designing Electricity Rates for an Equitable Energy Transition, a new report from Next 10 and the Energy Institute at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. The report findings were slated to be presented at a hearing before state utility regulators on Feb. 24.

The report cited Pacific Gas & Electric as charging rates 80% higher than the national average.

The high prices result from what the report said are “uncommonly large fixed costs” that are bundled into kilowatt-hour prices and passed on to customers. The costs cover generation, transmission, and distribution fixed costs, as well as energy efficiency programs, subsidies for houses with rooftop solar and low-income customers, and increasing wildfire mitigation costs.

Data from the report revealed that the state’s three largest IOUs—Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric—charge residential electricity customers much higher prices than are paid in most of the country.

It cited Pacific Gas & Electric for charging rates 80% higher than the national average.

Compounding concerns is the inequity of how the higher costs are distributed. The report said that as wealthier households adopt rooftop solar, the remaining fixed costs are distributed by IOUs across a smaller volume of kilowatt-hours delivered. This, in turn, raises the costs still higher for remaining, generally lower-income customers.

Recommended changes

The report outlined potential changes in how utility fixed costs, as well as environmental and low-income program costs, are recovered. It recommended raising revenue from sales or income taxes as a more progressive approach than the current system. It said such a shift would help ensure that higher-income households pay a higher share of the costs.

Wildfire mitigation over the next two years is expected to add still more to the cost of electricity in the Golden State.

That approach might prove controversial, and the report said that a “potentially more politically feasible option” would focus on rate reform; here, utilities would move to an income-based fixed charge. That charge would still allow long-term capital costs to be recovered across all system users. It also would keep costs “affordable for all families,” the report said. In this model, wealthier households would pay a higher monthly fee in line with their income.

Such an income-based fixed charge would be based on three criteria, the report said: 1) setting prices as close to cost as possible, 2) recovering the full system cost, and 3) and distributing the burden of cost recovery fairly.

The report also warned that California electricity rates are projected to rise due to wildfire-related costs. Earlier in February, the state’s IOUs unveiled a plan to spend $15 billion over the next two years to prevent wildfire ignitions. The researchers found that while wildfire prevention programs are likely to be a major near-term price driver, “a significant lack of transparent data” exists on the total costs and how they will be passed on.

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Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/24/californias-rate-inequality-is-likely-to-worsen-as-energy-transition-advances/

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Dominion plans to ditch all South Carolina coal by 2030

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After having its initially proposed integrated resource plan shot down by regulators, the utility has done a heel-turn and plans to replace the coal with 2 GW of solar, up to 900 MW of battery storage, and 1 GW of natural gas by 2048.

Just over two months after state regulators shot down Dominion Energy’s proposed integrated resource plan–partly because it included no coal retirements prior to 2028–the utility has announced that it will be retiring its entire South Carolina coal fleet by 2030 and adding as much as 2 GW of solar and up to 900 MW of battery storage by 2048.

Dominion, which serves more than 750,000 customers in the state, announced the proposed retirements in its updated long-term energy plan, though that plan does also include 1 GW of new natural gas power.

“While we’re very glad there’s an end in sight for Dominion Energy’s coal in South Carolina, adding fracked gas is a short-sighted move that means communities in Orangeburg County won’t get the safe, clean energy they deserve,” said Will Harlan, senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in South Carolina.

As for the coal plants, Dominion’s modified energy plan said the utility is seeking to retire three coal-fired units at Wateree and Williams Stations in 2028, as well as convert the Cope Station from coal to natural gas by 2030.

Not to be overlooked, the 2 GW of solar capacity and 900 MW of planned storage additions will be a major boon to South Carolina’s renewable portfolio, even though they may be a ways off.

The state currently has a total installed solar capacity of just over 1.7 GW, which is good for 12th in the nation, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). However, South Carolina is only projected by SEIA to add 1.4 GW over the next 5 years, making it 23rd in the nation over that span.

The state has begun to embrace solar more in recent years, but consistent growth has been hard to come by.

Image: SEIA

The resource plan the the utility will be moving forward with, Plan 8, forecasts 50 MW of solar additions in 2026 and 2027, followed by none in 2028 and 2029, before moving to 100 MW annually until 2048.

Image: Dominion Energy

A focus on public health

Both the Wateree and Williams Stations were in immediate need of retrofits in order to meet federal rules meant to protect waterways from mercury, arsenic and other pollutants. When regulators shot down Dominion’s initial integrated resource plan, they informed the utility that it would have to undertake an extensive retirement analysis before it could direct any ratepayer funds toward retrofitting the plants.

In a release commending Dominion’s plan to ditch coal, Sierra Club noted that all three plants are located in majority Black communities and have for years been releasing toxic pollution into local waterways, which the group claims can and has taken a significant toll on the public health of the communities.

“The closure of these plants will be a huge health benefit for families and children who have been forced to live, work, and play in the shadow of coal-burning plants that pollute their air and the rivers where they boat and fish,” said Harlan. “These communities have fought long and hard for protections that others take for granted, and now there’s hope for real change.”

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: editors@pv-magazine.com.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/24/dominion-plans-to-ditch-all-south-carolina-coal-by-2030/

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