Energy

Puerto Rico awaits first procurements to add 3.75 GW solar, 1.5 GW storage

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Puerto Rico regulators ordered the utility PREPA to procure solar and storage, although the utility’s board chairman says the island’s grid can support only a fraction of the mandated amount.

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau ordered the utility PREPA to issue six procurements in the next 30 months, totaling 3.75 GW of solar and 1.5 GW of four-hour storage, or their equivalents.

PREPA will issue the first of the six procurements “as early in 2021 as possible,” the utility said in a regulatory filing. Regulators had set a target release date of last December for that first procurement, to secure 1,000 MW of solar and 500 MW of storage.

A study released by PREPA in mid-January, however, concludes that Puerto Rico’s grid can handle only 650 MW of utility-scale renewable generation, including existing renewables. That value does not reflect “expected system upgrades or energy storage systems that will be incorporated in the near future,” said the study, prepared by engineering consultants Sargent & Lundy.

In an apparent reference to the study, PREPA Board Chairman Ralph Kreil told local newspaper El Nuevo Dia, “We understand that the system supports between 500 and 600 megawatts” of renewables, “and the Bureau understands that it must be 1,000,” according to a Google translation of the Spanish-language quote. Kreil added that PREPA’s request for proposals will call for 1,000 MW of solar, “as the Bureau says, and we will see what happens.”

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau’s dockets for this matter are NEPR-MI-2020-0012 and CEPR-AP-2018-0001.

“We have 3% renewable energy” in Puerto Rico, said PJ Wilson, president of the Solar + Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico. “We can build 2,000 MW of renewables before we get the integration challenges that they saw in Hawaii and elsewhere. Let’s get construction going on those 2,000 MW now, and solve the integration challenges for higher levels as we go.”

Wilson said that PREPA indicated last week that each solar and storage procurement would be issued via the utility’s software, PowerAdvocate. He charged that the procurements would be “posted publicly nowhere” so that “not even the Energy Bureau” would be able to see it. The association he leads plans to ask the Energy Bureau to order PREPA to post each request for proposals in a public docket.

Puerto Rico’s Act 17, enacted in 2019, requires PREPA to reach 20% renewable generation by 2022 and 40% renewables by 2025.

The Energy Bureau’s Final Resolution and Order on PREPA’s integrated resource plan provided a target schedule of six solar and storage procurements by June 2023, which is intended to enable the projects to go online by 2025:

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Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/01/18/puerto-rico-awaits-first-procurements-to-add-3-75-gw-solar-1-5-gw-storage/

Energy

New Columbia Solar raises $75 million, looks to develop 50 projects in D.C.

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The company closed a tax equity deal with Franklin Park Infrastructure that will help it add solar capacity in a challenging urban environment.

New Columbia Solar, a Washington, D.C.-based commercial developer, closed a second tax equity deal with Franklin Park Infrastructure, as well as a loan facility provided by Amalgamated Bank and Live Oak Bank, creating a $75 million fund for additional solar projects.

The financing will be used to add 50 projects to New Columbia’s existing portfolio of 150 projects, and enable the hiring of up to 20 people this year. New Columbia said that the financing will keep it on track to achieve its vision of deploying $120 million into the local solar market across 2020 and 2021.

New Columbia develops rooftop, carport, and ground-mounted solar energy projects. The company closed its first tax equity deal with Franklin Park Infrastructure in May 2019. That $40 million investment allowed the company to develop 30 MW of capacity and hire 10 people.

Washington, D.C., is home to one of the most aggressive renewable mandates in the country – 100% renewable by 2032 – but has limited space where projects can be developed. New Columbia Project Finance Manager, Shane Lebow, said that Franklin Park “understands the box which we operate and develop in,” and that each customer has different needs for their systems.

New Columbia adds solar to multifamily buildings, schools, and industrial facilities, according to CEO Mike Healy. Most of its projects are less than 100 kW in size.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/26/new-columbia-solar-raises-75-million-looks-to-develop-50-projects-in-d-c/

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Energy

Cleantech Roundup: SolarEdge, Tigo Energy, MIT, and more

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Cleantech roundup

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

Another week, another bunch of announcements! To stay up to date on what’s new, check out this latest cleantech product roundup:

Inverter partnership with installer

SolarEdge Technologies Inc. entered into a supply agreement with Sunrun, a U.S. provider of residential solar, battery storage, and energy services. Under the agreement, Sunrun will offer SolarEdge’s Energy Hub inverter for residential customers.

Image: SolarEdge

SolarEdge said it will help Sunrun support a residential energy ecosystem with integration of smart energy devices and optimized home energy management through its inverter. The companies said they are focused on expanding value to residential customers through products such as smart energy devices, battery storage, EV chargers, among others. More info available here.

Replacement dampers for PV trackers

ACE Controls introduced a line of replacement dampers for solar PV tracking systems, the SOL-28 Series. The company claimed the drop-in replacements offer the same quality as original equipment manufacturer dampers, with the same sizes and specifications.

Image: ACE Controls

The SOL-28 Series is designed to protect against the effects of vortex shedding and wind galloping during high-wind events. With products ranging in resistive forces up to 12,000 N and with lengths up to 44 inches, the SOL-28 Series dampers will absorb kinetic energy exerted by the wind and are designed to move according to the tracker’s natural frequency, typically between 0.8 to 1.2 Hz. More info available here.

Plug-and-play battery research

Engineers at Gridtential Energy Inc. and Electric Applications Inc. (EAI), supported by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), are working to further develop quick and safe “plug and play” solar-powered energy storage systems.

Gridtential Energy created Silicon Joule, a bipolar battery technology that uses silicon wafers (similar to those in solar cells) in traditional lead batteries to reduce weight and achieve performance competitive with lithium-ion, but at a lower cost. The research project will combine Silicon Joule technology with the testing expertise of EAI to develop high-voltage reference batteries for behind-the-meter energy storage applications. More info available here.

Rapid shutdown integration

Module-level power electronics (MLPE) company Tigo Energy Inc. announced that Growatt, a grid-connected single-phase PV and energy storage system inverter provider, has joined the Tigo Enhanced program to bring rapid shutdown solutions to PV installers. Growatt’s single-phase hybrid inverters–the XH series–will integrate with Tigo Rapid Shutdown System (RSS) Transmitters.

Growatt’s XH series ranges in power capacity from 3.0 kW to 11.4 kW, and the products are battery-ready upon purchase or can be retrofitted in the future. Each inverter will display a Tigo Enhanced logo for customers to identify models that work out of the box with Tigo TS4-A-F and TS4-A-2F products. The inverters also have built-in 4G/Wifi or Wifi/LAN and are integrated into Growatt’s monitoring and mobile app. More info available here.

Silicon carbide MOSFET module

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corp. has launched MG800FXF2YMS3, a silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET module integrating newly developed dual channel SiC MOSFET chips with ratings of 3300V and 800A designed for industrial and renewable energy applications. Volume production will start in May.

Image: Toshiba

To achieve a channel temperature of 175° C, the new product adopts an iXPLV (intelligent fleXible Package Low Voltage) package with silver sintering internal bonding technology and high mounting compatibility. The module is intended to meet the needs for high-efficiency, compact equipment such as converters and inverters for railway vehicles and renewable energy systems. More info available here.

Ceramic safety capacitors

Vishay Intertechnology Inc. introduced a series of surface-mount AC line rated ceramic disc safety capacitors that offer a Y1 rating of 500 VAC and 1500 VDC. Designed to withstand harsh, high humidity environments, the Vishay BCcomponents SMDY1 series devices offer capacitance up to 4.7 nF. The capacitors will be used for EMI/RFI filtering in power supplies, solar inverters, smart meters, and LED drivers. More info available here.

Power boost for EV charger

Beam Global announced a 12% increase in energy output from its EV ARC solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging system. The company said the EV ARC 2020 system now delivers up to 265 e-miles in a day, and that all three models of the transportable, off-grid EV charging system provide more range while unit pricing remains unchanged.

Beam said that its EV ARC systems can charge as many as six vehicles at a time and are suited to meet the need for ubiquitous charging infrastructure because they support any quality brand of EV charger. They may be deployed in minutes without construction, electrical work, or utility bills. More info available here.

Third-generation deep-cycle battery

KiloVault, a provider of residential and commercial renewable energy solutions, unveiled the third iteration of its HAB series of wall-mount energy storage systems. The company said the new HAB 7.5 V3 provides the same 7.5 kWh of storage, safety, and expandability of its predecessors and features several upgrades.

Image: KiloVault

The HAB V3 has increased ventilation to improve performance and battery life in warmer climates. The unit is rated IP54 for dust and splash protection. The four vents can be swapped out with solid plates to meet the IP55 rating for water jet protection, allowing outdoor installation. The wiring panel of the HAB has been redesigned for improved serviceability, and larger integrated lift handles allow for easier wall-mounted installation. Each HAB contains a non-toxic, thermally stable LiFePO4 battery with UL1642-certified cells. More info available here.

Solar+storage Powur

Enphase Energy Inc. launched Enphase solar and storage products on the Powur platform at the Powur 2021 Scale Up National Virtual Convention held on Feb. 20. Through Enphase’s collaboration with Powur, solar and storage sales consultants will receive Enphase product training, and more than 110 Powur solar installation professionals will go through Enphase University training for Enphase Storage Installation Certification. More info available here.

Grid tech acquisition

Sentient Energy, a Koch Engineered Solutions company, acquired grid edge intelligence and dynamic control technologies from Varentec Inc., a company backed by Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, and 3M. Varentec’s grid edge optimization hardware and management software help utilities operate the power grid more efficiently by enhancing energy savings and demand reduction, better managing distributed energy resource integration, and mitigating voltage fluctuations caused by sudden increases or decreases of load or distributed generation.

Sentient Energy said the technology acquisition gives customers comprehensive visibility and control of grid performance from the utility substation transformer to beyond the service transformer from a single vendor. Sentient Energy added Varentec’s proprietary algorithms, patented voltage monitoring, and dynamic control technologies to its suite of devices and advanced analytics for electric power systems. More info available here.

MIT-developed solar cell

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have fabricated a perovskite solar cell through the chemical bath deposition method (CBD) to reach a reported power conversion efficiency of 25.2%. CBD is a technique to produce films of solid inorganic, non-metallic materials on substrates by immersing the substrate in a precursor aqueous solution. The MIT scientists added a special conductive layer of tin dioxide bonded between the conductive layer and the perovskite material. More info available here.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/26/cleantech-roundup-solaredge-tigo-energy-mit-and-more/

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Energy

Watch: IKEA completes 1.35 MW solar carport, with seven more underway

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Distributed Solar Development­­ built the Baltimore carport and will deliver the home furnishings giant’s other projects in Maryland and California.

In partnership with New York-based Distributed Solar Development­­ (DSD), home furnishings retailer IKEA said it completed a 1.35 MW solar carport at its Baltimore location and plans to build seven more projects at other U.S. stores.

The solar carports will help IKEA move toward its goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy while also increasing energy efficiency by 2025.

DSD designed and built the Baltimore carport. Initial results indicate the location has seen an 84% decrease in its purchased energy requirement between September and December 2020, equating to a 57% cost savings for the store.

The Baltimore project is the first of eight projects totaling 7 MW that DSD will develop for IKEA stores in Maryland and California. The other arrays are on track to be done this year. In January, DSD closed on a $300 million debt facility financed by Credit Suisse and hinted it will have more deals to announce in the near future.

All totaled, the solar carports are expected to generate roughly 10.7 GWh a year. Five of the projects include energy storage systems with a collective capacity of about 5 MWh.

In the U.S., the company currently owns 104 wind turbines, two geothermal properties, 240,784 solar panels, and 143 electric vehicle charging stations across 51 properties.

In 2020, Ingka Group, a partner in the IKEA franchise system, committed more than $700 million into companies, solutions, and its own operations to move to a net-zero carbon economy. As part of that effort, Ingka Group invested in two solar parks totaling 403 MW of capacity in Utah and Texas.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/26/watch-ikea-completes-1-35-mw-solar-carport-with-seven-more-underway/

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Energy

A ‘big win’ for solar: Kansas regulators reject utility’s proposed fees

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Clean energy advocates praised the utility commission’s ruling as a major victory. Some regulators, however, suggested they may be open to similar fees in the future.

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) unanimously rejected Evergy’s proposed rate changes for residential solar customers. The ruling denied the utility’s plan to impose a charge on customer-owned solar. It also turned down the utility’s proposed alternative plan to impose a minimum bill for all customers.

The Climate + Energy Project, the Sierra Club, and Vote Solar opposed both proposals and applauded the regulators’ decision. Dorothy Barnett, executive director of the Climate + Energy Project, called it a “big win” for solar and all Evergy ratepayers.

The 36-page decision ordered Evergy to put its residential distributed generation (DG) customers back on a two-part standard residential rate design, eliminating a demand charge.

Regulators originally approved a three-part rate design for residential DG customers in September 2018 as part of a Westar (now Evergy) rate case. The Sierra Club and Vote Solar, both parties to the docket, filed an appeal. In April 2020, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the commission, calling the three-part design “price discriminatory” and sending the matter back to the KCC for more work.

In its Feb. 25 order, the commission turned down two alternate proposals from Evergy to recoup DG customer costs that the company claimed are not captured in the standard residential rate. The first proposal called for a grid access fee of $3.00/kW of installed DG capacity. The alternative called for a $35 minimum monthly bill for all residential customers.

The KCC decision means that rates for standard residential and DG residential customers will be identical, at least until Evergy’s next scheduled rate case in 2023.

Clean energy advocacy groups argued that minimum bills disproportionately harm low-wealth and fixed-income families, as well as also discourage energy conservation and efficiency investment by reducing customers’ ability to control their electric bill.

Claudine Custodio, regulatory manager at Vote Solar, said that local clean energy saves money for all grid customers by generating energy where it is used, reducing the grid’s operating costs. She said the ruling allows Kansans to keep benefiting from solar investments that they or their neighbors make and prevents a “harmful, discriminatory fee.”

Despite the unanimous decision, some KCC members said they believe solar customers are being subsidized and said they liked the possibility of additional fees.

“The solutions purported by the company, we believe were flawed,” Commissioner Susan Duffy told the Topeka-Capital Journal. She said that rather than having “kicked the can down the road with this order,” regulators instead had given stakeholders “an opportunity … to work together and explore the best solution not only for rooftop solar issues, but other issues as well.”

And Commission Chair Andrew French told the newspaper that the issue continued to need to be addressed. He said he was “convinced” that there is “some amount of subsidy that flows to [solar] customers associated with their use of the grid.”

In a concurring opinion, Commissioner Dwight Keen indicated he was open to requiring electric utilities that want to enact rates that impact DG residential customers differently than non-DG customers to identify the services that DG customers will receive, and also show how those services are different from, or in addition to, what are provided to non-DG residential customers.

The KCC encouraged Evergy to explore rate designs that address the DG subsidization issue. It also encouraged all stakeholders to explore legislative changes to update Kansas’ net metering laws and other statutes.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/02/26/a-big-win-for-solar-kansas-regulators-reject-utilitys-proposed-fees/

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