Solar in the Lead Globally as Colorado & Hawaii Heat Up the US
Frost & Sullivan forecasts that global installed capacity of renewable energy will double from 1,566 GW in 2012 and reach 3,203 GW in 2025 at an average annual growth rate of 5.7%. Solar is in the lead, followed by wind. A leading US power utility has joined forces with one of America’s pioneer community energy outfits to finance and develop 8.2MW of community solar projects in Colorado by mid-2015. Hawaii is officially a solar hot spot of national significance — and that makes it a fitting test bed for Department of Energy research meant to stretch the limits of rooftop PV penetration on island grids. Read more
Solar to contribute 33.4% of global renewable energy capacity
By Sabeena Wahid in GreentechLead (28 January 2015)
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan forecasts that global installed capacity of renewable energy will double from 1,566 GW in 2012 and reach 3,203 GW in 2025 at an average annual growth rate of 5.7 percent.
It is expected that over the 2012-2025 period, solar photovoltaic technology will record major growth with 33.4 percent of total renewable energy capacity additions.
Succeeding in the list of renewable assets will be wind energy at 32.7 percent, ahead of hydro power at 25.3 percent.
The remaining 8.6 percent of capacity additions will consist of other renewable technologies.
It is observed that economic difficulties in many parts of the world are affecting the outlook for renewable energy.
The feeble economic situation of Western world has made an impact on support schemes, which normally keeps renewable energy installations alive until grid parity is achieved.
On the other hand, the emerging economies have slowly started conquering renewable energy installations, achieving the target and grid parity.
In particular, regions such as Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have recorded increased renewable energy capacity growth due to the urbanization, population growth, energy security concerns and strong economic development.
The decline in the cost of renewable energy due to technological innovation and scale economies achieved through mass deployment has enabled developing countries to adopt these technologies.
The report also predicts that global solar power capacity is due to increase from 93.7 GW in 2012 to 668.4 GW in 2025.
However, growth prospects of the concentrated solar power (CSP) market has been weakened due to huge price falls in technology, while solar PV is experiencing a thriving growth.
In the wind power market, offshore wind will see dull growth than expected due to political support withdrawal in Europe.
Solar, wind energies ruling over nuclear power growth
The global wind capacity will hit 814 GW in 2025 from 2012 level of 279 GW, with small-scale wind turbines exploring new application possibilities.
In the global bioenergy and waste segment, Europe will be the leading country. However, future capacity expansion in this field will be arising from Southeast Asia, Australasia, North America, Turkey, Iceland and Kenya.
Beyond 2025, marine power will be accepted widely due to support from government for emerging technologies.
America’s biggest utility to co-develop 8.2MW of community solar
By Sophie Vorrath in Reneweconomy (29 January 2015)
A leading US power utility has joined forces with one of America’s pioneer community energy outfits to finance and develop 8.2MW of community solar projects in Colorado by mid-2015.
The renewables arm of New Jersey and Texas-based power utility NRG Energy and Colorado-based community solar business SunShare said in a joint statement on Wednesday they aimed to install five ground-mounted solar PV systems, four in Denver’s metropolitan area and one nearby Colorado Springs.
SunShare breaks ground on Colorado Springs’ first community solar project
Once completed and online, the project is expected to have produced one of the largest operating community solar portfolios in the US, with the ability to power more than 1,600 homes for 20 years.
As Bloomberg notes, NRG – America’s largest independent power producer – made the shift into solar when faced with declining growth in its conventional fossil-fuel power business. A step most Australian utilities are still refusing to take.
The state of Colorado, meanwhile, has one of the nation’s most aggressive renewable energy standards, according to Bloomberg, and was the first in the nation to allow private developers to create community solar gardens in 2010 – a model that sells the power directly to consumers (namely those 75 per cent of Americans who can’t host solar panels on their roof) who get a credit on their bills.
For NRG Renew, the joint venture with SunShare – which has more than 100MW of solar gardens operating or under development – will more than double its current community solar portfolio.
“These types of programs, whether with homeowners, commercial businesses or municipalities, allow us to democratize participation in renewable power consumption,” NRG Senior Vice President Craig Cornelius told Bloomberg in a phone interview.
Customers of the solar gardens, mostly businesses and municipalities, will sign a 20-year agreement to get electricity from the ground-mounted panels.
NRG is providing the funds and will be the majority owner, while SunShare will manage the customer contracts, the companies said.
The projects could be dropped down into NRG Yield, a separately-traded unit that holds renewable-power plants, Cornelius said.
Charting Hawaii’s Spectacular Solar Growth
What rooftop PV on one of every nine homes means for island grids—and what to do about it
Jeff St. John in Greentechmedia (28 January 2015):
Hawaii is officially a solar hot spot of national significance — and that makes it a fitting test bed for Department of Energy research meant to stretch the limits of rooftop PV penetration on island grids.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report on Hawaii’s solar status this week that lays out the state’s situation in graphic detail. Over the past five years, net-metered solar capacity has skyrocketed on the island of Oahu, and has grown significantly on the smaller, more constrained grids of Maui and the island of Hawaii (the “Big Island”).
Big wind farms and thousands of solar rooftops are changing the shape of Oahu’s energy supply-demand curve, in ways that threaten grid stability as well as the economics of generating most of its power with imported oil. DOE labs have been working with Hawaiian Electric, the company that runs utilities on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii, to track these system effects, with results like these showing the telltale duck shape — or, as HECO has dubbed it, the “Nessie curve” — caused when midday solar exceeds demand, then drops off to leave the utility with steep ramps in demand to match with limited resources.
Hawaii faces local grid problems as well. On Oahu, solar penetration has increased to beyond daytime minimum load on many distribution grid circuits, meaning that there’s more solar power being generated than electricity consumed by customers on that section of the grid. That’s the problem that led HECO to slow down new permits last year — and prompted the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to respond with a broad set of orders, demanding that the state’s primary utility make fundamental changes to how it manages distributed energy.
DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is helping out on this front by hosting tests of smart solar inverter capabilities with the Electric Power Research Institute and big third-party-solar provider SolarCity. That work led directly to HECO’s proposal this month to double the amount of solar it’s comfortable permitting on already-impacted circuits, from 120 percent to 250 percent of daytime minimum load, without causing grid-destabilizing voltage problems.
By easing the bottleneck on new solar projects, HECO also hopes to justify a concurrent plan to replace its lucrative net-metering tariff with a new set of credits that would pay roughly half as much for customer-generated power. But the implications of its fast-track move from R&D to policy proposal go beyond Hawaii’s shores. California has smart solar inverter pilot projects in the works, and utilities around the country are studying Hawaii to see what they might have to deal with if customer-owned solar starts to grow beyond their local distribution grid comfort zones. NextEra Energy, which is buying Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion, will have to confront Hawaii’s solar situation head-on.
Jeff St. John is Reporter covering the green technology space, with a particular focus on smart grid, demand response, energy storage, renewable energy and technology to integrate distributed, intermittent green energy into the grid.