Solar Power International: A Wrap-Up

Co-authored by Bryan Jacob, Simon Mahan and Alissa Jean Schafer All of the things we mentioned in our blog after the opening session did come up again throughout Solar Power International (#SPIcon).  Maybe we should have been placing bets.  We were in Las Vegas, after all. We were definitely correct with one of our predictions.  [...]

Wind and Solar Power: Complementary Energy Resources

Here at Solar Power International, a number of attendees have openly wondered: how can wind power and solar power work better, together? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two resources pair together quite nicely, naturally.

With nearly 3.5 gigawatts of wind power purchase agreements, and over 5 GW of installed solar power, the South has begun to embrace renewable energy. Pairing utility scale wind and solar power in the South could improve renewable energy market share as well as relieve potential integration issues. For example, as higher levels of solar power penetration occur, several utilities have noted a trend moving towards higher winter peak generation demand.

Corporate Solar Purchasers in the Southeast: A Growing Major Market

More than ever before, corporations throughout the world are powering their businesses with renewable energy. According to Power Forward 3.0, nearly half of the companies in the 2016 Fortune 500 have set targets to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), improve energy efficiency, and/or increase renewable energy sourcing—this stat is up five percentage points from 2014. Pushed by social and economic forces, this upwards trend is expected to continue. After a huge bump in 2015, when the Federal ITC was originally scheduled to expire, demand levels of corporate solar capacity have returned to a more incremental rate of increase, with June 2017 numbers already close to 2016’s year end total.

Welcome to Solar Power International in Las Vegas

Moving beyond the antiquated notion of “baseload” generation – instead what we need is “flexible, resilient, reliable” power.
The Suniva trade case. Abigail Ross Harper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), asserted that all of the jobs represented in the room are at risk. We will have an entire session devoted to this topic today.
Diversity in the solar industry. The Solar Foundation released a report (2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study). Apparently women represented a full half of the new solar jobs created last year. That’s good news, but I’m sure we’ll learn about other aspects of that report throughout SPI.
Disruption. Our keynote speaker (Rory McDonald) from Harvard Business School, opened our eyes to “competing and innovating in a disruptive environment.” Solar has been and will continue to be a disruptive force in the energy sector.

Time for Virgin Islands to Transfer Power, to Renewables

There’s already a high level of self-sufficiency in St. Croix – where many, many homes rely almost entirely on rainwater cisterns for their freshwater supply. As batteries and residential renewable energy become cheaper, many residents may willfully follow Mr. Boyd’s footsteps, and begin to fully opt-out of the Virgin Island electric system by going off grid. But for economies of scale, utility-scale renewables and large batteries can pack a big economic punch. Lower systemwide power prices can help reduce electric bills, but also attract new companies seeking paradise on a dime. Meanwhile, brandishing ecological credentials could improve the islands’ largest industry: tourism. In the Netherlands, tourists readily pay for windmill and wind farm excursions.
As the Virgin Islands celebrate the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day, let’s hope it won’t take another 100 years for renewable energy.

Lafayette restores smart solar policy

Late on November 7th, a local Lafayette, Louisiana newspaper (The Independent) posted a story: “About-face: LUS seeks repeal of ‘solar tax’ ordinance”. Lafayette is restoring its smart solar policy!

Local utility quietly clouds solar future

But this past August, our local electric utility company passed perhaps the worst solar power policy in the south. Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) introduced an extremely complicated electric, water and sewer rate increase the same week historic, 1,000-year flooding occurred in Louisiana. The new rate structure for net metered customers, including solar power families like mine, is likely to double monthly electric bills, and double the length of time it takes for a solar panel system to pay for itself. The new policy effectively acts as a giant tax on solar power. Solar tax credits are being phased out, and when coupled with LUS’s new solar tax, it is unlikely that solar power systems would ever pay for themselves.

North Carolina’s Secret Agenda to Destroy Renewable Energy

North Carolina’s Senate Bill 843 was introduced recently, and if implemented, would flush the entire renewable energy industry down the toilet.

Super Tuesday: Why are conservatives crazy in love with THIS type of energy?

Conservatives strongly support clean energy. The strongest reasons why conservatives support clean energy include less pollution, more innovation and greater independence. “Voters, including Conservative Republicans, think clean energy keeps us healthier, safer, and more prosperous,” says the ClearPath results headline. When asked if “we should accelerate the growth of clean energy so that America can have cleaner, healthier air and less pollution at home,” some 91% of voters supported the statement.

Dirt cheap renewables beating fossil fuels on price

Wind energy has reached record low prices. Wind energy has reached $32-$77 per megawatt hour (MWh) without federal incentives. If the federal Production Tax Credit or Investment Tax Credit is included, wind energy pricing may be $14-$63/MWh.
Utility-scale solar power has reached record low prices. Solar power has reached $50-$70/MWh without federal incentives.