Renewable Energy World Your premier source for the latest news in Green Energy. Fri, 11 Mar 2022 14:42:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Renewable Energy World 32 32 Teams aim to remove barriers to solar in underserved places Fri, 11 Mar 2022 14:42:53 +0000 Follow @EngelsAngle

Eight research teams from across the country will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop models to improve uptake of solar energy in underserved communities.

The program is part of the third round of NREL's Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN), which began in 2017. The first two rounds focused on improving the reliability and affordability of renewable energy and novel applications of solar energy and distributed energy resources.

In the third round, three teams will work to remove financial and technical barriers to equitable commercial-scale solar, while the remaining five teams will focus on the residential segment. The program will last for 15 months.

Demographic disparities

Solar adoption skews toward higher-income households and communities, according to research by the Department. of Energy and its Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. In 2020, the median solar adopter's household income in the U.S. was $115,000, compared to the overall median income of $63,000.

Low-to-moderate income households do adopt solar, however. Households earning less than 120% of their area's median income made up 41% of solar adopters in 2020. Solar adopter median incomes have dropped from about $138,000 in 2010.

Solar adopters also tend to live in rural, majority-white neighborhoods, primarily speak English, and have higher education levels, according to the Berkley Lab research.

“By providing direct funding, technical expertise, and facilitated stakeholder engagement all in one program, SEIN helps teams effectively identify, research, and respond to the unique barriers and needs of communities that have seen limited solar adoption to date,” said Eric Lockhart, who leads SEIN at NREL.

Discussion about equity in solar deployment has dominated net energy metering reform in states like California and Florida. Utility-backed groups have advocated for the phasedown, or outright elimination, of credits for surplus energy generated by rooftop solar customers, arguing that non-solar customers unfairly subsidize those systems.

In California, the largest solar market in the U.S., regulators have paused a decision on net metering that solar advocates said would have gutted the industry following public outcry.

And in Florida, lawmakers recently approved legislation that will ultimately do away with net metering all together. Solar supporters have asked Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, to veto the bill.

Net metering is seen as a crucial piece to broader solar deployment, as compensation for excess energy sent to the electric grid reduces the time needed for homeowners to pay for their system.

Meet the teams

Project descriptions provided by NREL

Lead Organization: Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute

Location: Austin and Carrizo Springs, Texas

This team is identifying opportunities to more equitably deploy solar to properties owned or rented by families in underserved communities by leveraging utilities’ low-income energy efficiency programs and Weatherization Assistance Program funding. This team is collaborating to identify, refine, demonstrate, and evaluate strategies to widen access to residential rooftop solar among underserved communities and develop guidelines and implementation approaches to apply identified pathways.

Lead Organization: ReThink Energy Florida Inc.

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

This team plans to unlock the market potential for solar PV in low-to-moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods by evaluating technical potential, economic feasibility, and financial tools and programs. The project aims to provide a pathway to install solar at a neighborhood scale that can be replicated in other LMI neighborhoods through awareness of solar benefits in underserved communities and business awareness of LMI funding opportunities.

Lead Organization: Energy Trust of Oregon

Location: Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Tigard, Oregon

The team aims to address solar deployment barriers and disproportionately low solar awareness in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities of Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Tigard, Oregon. The team will work to identify pathways for installing solar on BIPOC homes through innovative incentives for solar-related energy retrofits and home upgrades. The team will also build a network of BIPOC "Solar Ambassadors" to educate and build capacity in their respective communities.

Lead Organization: Pecan Street Inc.

Location: Austin, Texas

This team aims to address energy affordability and reliability in communities that have historically been negatively impacted by discriminatory housing practices and unjust lending programs. The team will develop community-based research models and leverage peer-to-peer information exchange to define pathways for adapting and expanding low-to-zero-percent interest solar loans for underserved neighborhoods of Austin, Texas.

Lead Organization: Houston Advanced Research Center

Location: Port Arthur, Texas

This project team aims to address the lack of knowledge, affordability, and capital barriers to equitable commercial-scale solar. The team will develop an effective, replicable, and scalable approach to implement solar-plus-storage microgrids that build community wealth in underserved neighborhoods of Port Arthur, Texas.

Lead Organization: Salt Lake City Department of Sustainability

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

This team will develop a framework to increase the uptake of commercial solar and storage in underserved communities by engaging community and business stakeholders, hosting community listening sessions, and developing culturally relevant outreach tools and resources that address solar market barriers and economically entrenched energy injustices. Resources will include findings from listening sessions, solar and storage case studies, battery storage incentive program recommendations, and best practices for financing commercial solar.

Lead Organization: Lake Street Council

Location: Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

This team is engaging minority-owned businesses in underserved neighborhoods to increase solar deployment. The team is collaborating to apply human-centered design to understand stakeholders’ lived experiences, gain insights, and challenge assumptions. The team is co-creating solutions to reduce inequities in solar adoption, increase business resilience, and build capacity and leadership to sustain ongoing community action.

Lead Organization: RE-volv

Location: Multiple

This team aims to increase solar adoption by houses of worship led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) by strengthening existing partnerships and scaling up successful efforts. The team will streamline the solar project pipeline of identifying promising locations, presenting proposals, financing projects, and highlighting successes.

Commerce buys time to review solar module dumping claim Fri, 11 Mar 2022 14:32:56 +0000 The U.S. Department of Commerce gave itself another 15 days to wrap up an initial review of a bid by a domestic solar manufacturer seeking tariffs to be imposed on module imports from four Asian countries.

In a one-page statement dated March 10, Commerce said it needed more time to review and assess what it described as “novel and complex” issues raised by Auxin Solar’s request. Commerce set a March 25 deadline to complete its initial review.

In February, Auxin Solar—which described itself as a minority- and woman-owned domestic producer of solar modules based in San Jose, California–asked Commerce in a 105-page petition to determine that solar cells and modules assembled in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are circumventing and undermining the effectiveness of U.S. trade remedy laws.

“The Government of China and major Chinese producers simply refuse to trade fairly,” said Mamun Rashid, CEO of Auxin Solar in a statement at the time.  He said that rather than ending Beijing’s subsidization of the solar supply chain and raising prices, the Chinese producers moved operations to another country as an export platform to “continue assaulting the U.S. market with incredibly cheap products.” 

In a statement, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the petition “frivolous” and said the trade group would “aggressively” oppose it. “This is yet another attempt to abuse U.S. trade laws and cause serious economic harm to the American solar industry and its 230,000 workers, shockingly, all at the behest of a single company,” Hopper said.

200 companies

Some 200 solar companies signed on to a March 9 letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo asking her to reject the petition. The letter said the proposed tariffs “unfairly target cells and modules” from four countries that account for the “vast majority” of U.S. supply. It claimed the duties, possibly ranging from 50-250%, would “stall projects” and lead to the loss of 15,000 domestic solar manufacturing jobs.

(Read “Clean energy supply chains need ‘significant’ improvement, DOE report finds.”)

The petition said that the anti-circumvention statute does not limit the size of the party that files an allegation. It said that domestic producers like Auxin Solar “would have much more capacity” if they could sell crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) modules under “fair competitive conditions.”

It said that at present, low-cost CSPV cell and module imports from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia that use inputs from affiliated Chinese suppliers “continue to undercut domestic producer pricing at key accounts” and limit the ability for Auxin Solar to reinvest and expand.

The petition named 15 module manufacturers that it alleged are circumventing U.S. anti-dumping laws. The companies are LONGi Malaysia and Vietnam, Jinko Solar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Talesun, Light & Hope, GCL, Boviet Solar, Green Wing Solar, HT Solar, New East Solar, Enalex, Shenglong PV-Tech, and Jintek.

Anonymous petition

Last November, Commerce rejected a similar petition by an anonymous group of solar companies that sought tariffs on a handful of companies that import modules from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The request had been made by American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) and sought anti-dumping and anti-circumvention (AD-CVD) tariffs. In a November 10 decision, Abdelali Elouaradia, director of the Commerce Department’s AD-CVD office, said that A-SMACC’s bid to keep the names of its member companies from the public prevented Commerce from gathering needed information for any inquiry.

Elouaradia wrote that “not disclosing A-SMACC members’ names publicly hampers interested parties from fully commenting on the requests for circumvention inquiries and may hamper them from commenting on certain issues that could arise if Commerce were to initiate circumvention inquiries.”

The worry for SEIA and its member companies is that with Auxin stepping forward to ask for relief, Commerce may be more inclined to take up the petition for formal consideration.

In July, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) 2020 Annual Solar Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report listed Vietnam as the top source of PV imports to the U.S. at 8.1 million peak kilowatts. South Korea and Thailand combined were second at 4.4 million peak kilowatts, and Malaysia was third at 3.2 million peak kilowatts. The report lumped together imports from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, which totaled less than 950,000 peak kilowatts.

Rising imports

The Auxin petition alleged that imports from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia have risen by 868% over the last decade and “replaced Chinese imports completely.” The petition said that major producers in these countries “are all affiliated with Chinese producers of upstream inputs” and that their cost structure and pricing “is no different than if they still produced in China for the U.S. market.” 

The petition alleged that some Chinese producers even admit that they set up facilities outside of China to avoid U.S. duties. For example, it said that Talesun Thailand, which is part of a Chinese group, advertises circumvention on its website stating that “we offer a solution adapted to markets affected by anti-dumping laws such as the United States.”  

And, it alleged that Boviet Solar, a Vietnamese assembler that is owned by Chinese producer Boway, offers cost savings to buyers because “Vietnam is not a U.S. listed Anti-dumping and Countervailing region.”  

In his statement, Rashid said that key upstream inputs in module manufacturing came from China with only assembly taking place outside of China. “This is textbook circumvention,” he said.

SEIA said in its letter to Secretary Raimondo that the U.S. could lose nearly 14 GW of solar deployment if the petition is granted and tariffs are imposed.  The letter charged, “and all because a single company is seeking to inappropriately exploit the law for market advantage.”

CPS Energy to explore novel pumped hydro technology Fri, 11 Mar 2022 11:49:41 +0000 San Antonio-based CPS Energy signed a 15-year commercial agreement with Quidnet Energy for a 1 MW, 10-hour energy storage facility using geomechanical pumped storage technology. Following initial deployment, the municipal utility has the option to expand the project to 15 MW.

The technology is based on conventional drilling technology used in the oil and gas industry as well as off-the-shelf hydropower equipment. When low-cost electricity is available, water in a storage reservoir is pumped down a well and into a body of rock. The energy-storing rock bodies are non-hydrocarbon bearing and found in many locations, including near electricity transmission and distribution hubs. When electricity is needed, the well is opened to let the pressurized water pass through a turbine to generate electricity, and return to the pond for the next cycle.

This article was originally published on sister website Power Engineering.

The approach makes use of approaches and supply chains used in the oil and gas industry, Houston-based Quidnet said, and provides a possible “pathway into the green economy” for oil patch workers.

Quidnet has developed energy storage test sites in Medina and San Saba counties in Texas. It said it is working on pilot projects in Ohio, New York, and Alberta, Canada. The company is backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Evok Innovations, Trafigura, and other investors and has received support from the U.S. Department of Energy, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Emissions Reduction Alberta.

The company said that each 10 MWh system would cycle water equivalent to about five Olympic swimming pools, or around 3.3 million gallons.

CPS Energy adopted its Flexible Path Resource Plan to close coal plants and adopt technologies like energy storage and electric vehicles, expand renewable resources, and add more programs and services such as energy efficiency and demand response. By 2040, the utility plans to increase renewables by 127% while decreasing gas- and coal-fired generation by 72% and 61%, respectively.

EPIcenter’s Innovation Management program was engaged to support CPS Energy’s decision-making process for this novel form of energy storage. The program facilitates the process alongside a team of CPS Energy leadership to vet and implement emerging technologies. The nonprofit organization, established in 2015, is intended to speed innovation to make the production and consumption of energy smarter, cleaner, more resilient and more efficient. 

EPICenter is taking part in the DISTRIBUTECH / POWERGEN 2022 event with the session Energy Innovation: Move the Needle for Real on May 25.

Ørsted and Maersk plan Gulf Coast green fuels facility Thu, 10 Mar 2022 21:42:56 +0000 Follow @EngelsAngle

Ørsted and Maersk, global leaders in their respective industries of renewable energy and shipping, are partnering on a green fuels project along the Gulf Coast.

Ørsted plans to develop a 675 MW Power-to-X facility in an unidentified location. The facility would be supported by 1.2 GW of onshore wind and solar farms.

The facility is expected to produce 300,000 tons of e-methanol annually to support Maersk's newly ordered fleet of 12 methanol-powered vessels. Biogenic carbon needed to produce e-methanol would be extracted through carbon capture at one or more "large point sources," the companies said.

The project aims to be operational in 2025 with a final investment decision coming as soon as 2023.

Ørsted representatives did not respond to questions about the specific location for the planned facility.

“To transition towards decarbonization, we need a significant and timely acceleration in the production of green fuels," said Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands, A.P. Moller – Maersk. "Green methanol is the only market-ready and scalable available solution today for shipping."

A rendering of Maersk shipping vessels powered by green fuels. (Courtesy: Maersk)

In addition to its partnership with Ørsted, Maersk will five other companies -- CIMC ENRIC, European Energy, Green Technology Bank, Proman, and WasteFuel -- to source at least 730,000 tons of green fuel per year by the end of 2025.

Power-to-x is a process of converting electricity generated by renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, to "different types of energy carriers for use across multiple sectors, or to be reconverted back into power," according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Power-to-x opportunities include power-to-hydrogen and power-to-gas, like what has been announced by Ørsted and Maersk, as a means to clean up difficult to decarbonize sectors like marine transport.

Ørsted and Maersk also have a partnership to develop a 1,300 MW green fuels facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Gulf Coast facility would be Ørsted's entrance into the U.S. power-to-x market.

Difficult to decarbonize

In 2021, the International Maritime Organisation set a goal of cutting the carbon intensity of all ships by at least 40% by 2030. For the first time ever, the group established an energy efficiency rating system for ships. The goal is for key stakeholders -- port authorities and administrators -- to provide incentives for ships with higher energy efficiency ratings.

The global maritime shipping industry contributes about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Availability of alternative fuels, like green hydrogen, are in short supply and will likely require government assistance to meet climate goals.

In the U.S., $9.5 billion for green hydrogen hubs and electrolysis manufacturing programs was included in the Bipartisan Infrastrastructure Law. The Biden administration has said it hopes to cut the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per 1 kilogram in one decade. Green hydrogen makes up only 5% of the hydrogen produced in the U.S. with the rest coming from natural gas.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Energy Technology Laboratory determined that U.S. clean hydrogen production and use must increase 50 fold by 2050 in order to meet the country's decarbonization goals.

Report findings noted while many opportunities exist for hydrogen's growth, government leadership would be critical in achieving decarbonization goals. This would include tax credits and incentives, research, development, and demonstration funding.

Positive momentum

In February, a leading clean energy developer said it will explore developing a green hydrogen hub along the Texas Gulf Coast to support the decarbonization of heavy industry.

Apex Clean Energy, which manages more than 2 GW of clean energy projects in multiple states including Texas, entered into a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with investment manager Ares Management Corporation, energy infrastructure developer EPIC Midstream Holdings, and the Port of Corpus Christi to explore prospects of the "gigawatt-scale" project.

The group said the project would aim to produce green hydrogen and derivative green fuels "in volumes not yet seen" in the U.S. The project would feature green hydrogen production, storage, and transportation, including a newly constructed pipeline and green fuels hub to be located at the Port of Corpus Christi, they said.

Ocean energy saw increased investment and installations in 2021 Thu, 10 Mar 2022 20:56:06 +0000 Deployments of ocean energy devices are back to pre-pandemic levels, with Europe installing over 10 times as much tidal energy capacity and three times as much wave energy capacity in 2021 as compared with 2020, Ocean Energy Europe reports.

The report is titled “Ocean Energy: Key trends and statistics 2021.” It says investment interest in the sector also rose, with a slew of announcements by large industrial players and public authorities. Ocean Energy Europe’s data shows that ocean energy is back on track, despite COVID-19 restrictions still affecting activity in 2021.

Both the wave and tidal energy sectors installed significantly more capacity in 2021 than the previous year, adding 1.39 MW and 3.12 MW, respectively, worldwide. While Europe still dominates global tidal stream activity, more and more wave capacity is being installed outside Europe, often driven by significant government support.

An increase in private investment and the entrance of important industrial players into the sector reflect the growing appeal of ocean energy to investors, power producers and manufacturers. In 2021, the sector signed deals with GE Renewable Energy, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line), Chubu Electric Power, TechnipFMC and Schneider Electric. Governments in the UK, Italy, Spain and the U.S. also committed significant new funding to ocean energy.

Machines hit the water across all European sea basins, as well as in Asia, Australasia, North America and South America, bringing global cumulative capacity additions to nearly 65 MW since 2010.

New capacity projections for Europe in 2022 remain steady but conspicuously muted when compared to the EU’s objectives for ocean energy. Despite having set a clear target for 2025, the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy is still not accelerating large-scale deployments as anticipated, Ocean Energy Europe said.

“Developing new decarbonized, indigenous and affordable energy sources is not a luxury – it is a necessity,” said Remi Gruet, chief executive officer of Ocean Energy Europe. “The EU must kick-start its offshore renewables strategy now and empower ocean energy to deliver energy independence and decarbonization as part of a diverse set of renewables. The figures from 2021 reflect a strong, adaptable sector, and show that ocean energy is proving itself, both technologically and as an investment.”

Ocean Energy Europe is a network of ocean energy professionals, representing more than 120 organizations, including utilities, industrialists and research institutes.

Solar energy had a bumpy ride in 2021 Thu, 10 Mar 2022 14:48:32 +0000 Follow @EngelsAngle

The U.S. solar industry faced unprecedented price increases and project delays in 2021 due to supply chain and trade issues that persist today. The turmoil posed a threat to President Joe Biden's decarbonization goals, according to a new report.

A review of the U.S. solar industry in 2021 also found that solar prices rose 18%, and that a third of utility-scale projects planned for the fourth quarter of the year were pushed into 2022.

The report, published by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie, said that the U.S. was on track to deploy no better than 39% of the solar capacity needed by the end of the decade to meet the Biden administration's decarbonization goals without an extension to the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

A long-term extension of the solar ITC is part of the $550 billion for clean energy in the Build Back Better Act, which is stalled in the Senate.

“In the face of global supply uncertainty, we must ramp up clean energy production and eliminate our reliance on hostile nations for our energy needs,” said SEIA CEO and president Abigail Ross Hopper. She said that if lawmakers pass a long-term extension of the solar ITC and invest in U.S. manufacturing, solar installations "will increase by 66% over the next decade, and our nation will be safer because of it."

The coronavirus pandemic amplified inadequacies and gaps in the solar industry's supply chain, which is heavily reliant on components produced in China. And importing non-Chinese polysilicon to avoid anti-dumping and other trade enforcement action can come with as much as a 20% premium to U.S. solar module manufacturers.

Based on that argument, members of the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Coalition on March 7 called on the Biden administration to back legislation that would bolster the domestic supply chain. The Solar Energy Manufacturing for America (SEMA) Act won support in the U.S. House of Representatives but has so far failed to gain traction in the Senate.

"The U.S. cannot remain reliant on overseas solar supply chains, nor can we assume those monopolized supply chains will continue to keep prices low," the group wrote. "Moving from foreign dependence on fossil fuels to foreign dependence on clean energy is not how we can truly build back better and meet our climate targets."

In a January interview with Renewable Energy World, Michael Parr, executive director of the U.S.-based Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance (ULCSA), said that a supply chain realignment was underway at a pace that has been "faster than expected.”

For example, in late December Swiss-based Meyer Burger said it would locate a manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona, with an initial production capacity of 400 MW by the end of 2022. The facility could scale to 1.5 GW over time and will produce modules for residential and commercial rooftop installations as well as utility-scale projects.

And in August, Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. broke ground on its third manufacturing facility in Ohio. The 3.3 GWDC facility is scheduled to start operations in the first half of 2023, and represents a $680 million investment. When fully operational, the facility is expected to scale the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GWDC, which the company said would make it one of the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complexes outside China.

Chinese manufacturing commands a market share that would have been the envy of OPEC producers during the height of their influence over global oil markets. A recent report from ULCSA pegged China’s total production capacity in 2020 at around 400 GW, dwarfing the roughly 39 GW of capacity in Europe and North America combined.

Despite the supply chain and trade headwinds facing the solar industry, 2021 was still record-breaking in many ways. More utility-scale solar capacity -- nearly 17 GW -- was installed in 2021 than any other year, according to the SEIA/Wood Mackenzie report.

That number could have been higher, though, but delays pushed some projects into 2022. The report estimated that utility-scale solar installations will fall by 14% in 2022 compared to 2021.

Wood Mac adjusted its short-term, 2021-2022, total solar capacity forecast down 11 GW or 19% since issuing its outlook in September 2021 (chart below).

The residential solar market, meanwhile, wasn't as hard hit by supply chain and trade issues as utility-scale development but faced its own set of challenges in 2021. Component prices increased, while battery and module supplies were constrained.

The annual installed capacity of residential solar reached 4.2 GW in 2021, a record, from more than 500,000 projects.

If Congress chooses to extend the ITC before it expires at the end of 2023, Wood Mackenzie's residential outlook increases by 13 GW of 21% from 2023 to 2032.

Grid operators must follow CAISO’s approach to multi-nodal aggregation Thu, 10 Mar 2022 12:37:20 +0000 With MISO and SPP compliance plans for FERC Order 2222 due in April, the attention shifts to collecting patterns on key requirements for aggregated distributed resources. Order 2222 allows broad aggregations both geographically and technically. But as FERC and other DER providers observe, not all ISOs have complied with the broad aggregation requirement. Only CAISO had complied with this requirement even before FERC Order 2222 was issued.

Multi-nodal aggregation is not addressed at multi-state ISOs like MISO and SPP. MISO at least commissioned a research study from a university. SPP didn’t even try to address that requirement. Other multi-state ISOs, PJM and ISO-NE, have their versions of multi-nodal aggregation with size limitations. The DER providers and Aggregators are better served if FERC issues a policy statement after hearing from all ISOs at a technical conference.

What is multi-nodal aggregation?

A single node on the transmission system represents where either a supply-side or a demand-side resource connect and provide energy — for example, a solar farm connected to a transmission node.

A single node aggregation means aggregating multiple DER technologies at that transmission node. For example, consider aggregating a group of residential rooftop solar customers on the distribution grid where that distribution substation intersects with a transmission node under a grid operator’s functional control.

A multi-nodal aggregation represents an aggregation of multiple DER technologies across multiple transmission nodes. Some grid operators like MISO say aggregating at a single node is allowed, but aggregation across multiple nodes on the transmission system is not allowed.

Why is multi-nodal aggregation necessary for DER providers and aggregators?

DER providers and aggregators don’t know which retail customers would enter into a contract, when, and for how long. So, these aggregators need the flexibility of bundling different DER technologies. Aggregating at a single transmission node reduces that flexibility to aggregate and participate in these wholesale markets.

Moreover, any changes to the aggregation reset the clock on distribution utility 60-day review leading to potential delays in market registration.

Some ISOs have proposed multi-nodal aggregation due to their experience in demand response programs

Independent System Operators with enough operating experience with DERs realize multi-nodal aggregation benefits. As we see below, CASIO allows aggregations at the multi-nodal level. Even multi-state ISOs like ISO-NE and PJM allow multi-nodal aggregations with restrictions. The issue is, why don’t MISO and SPP allow multi-nodal aggregations?

California ISO (CAISO) allows multi-nodal at sub-load aggregation point (Sub-LAP)

As the CAISO transmittal letter to FERC in March 2016 notes, “the CAISO is proposing that distributed energy resource aggregations operate within single Sub-LAPs to avoid the possibility that they create additional congestion. Currently, the CAISO has twenty-three (23) Sub-LAPs.”

It is not clear why other ISOs have not taken the CAISO approach of sub-LAPs.

FERC should ask SPP why DERs cannot alleviate transmission congestion in SPP but can at CAISO as seen in this paragraph, “Limiting aggregations to Sub-LAP boundaries will ensure that a resource is not operating on both sides of a constraint and potentially exacerbating congestion by virtue of its own operation. For example, a distributed energy resource aggregation with sub-resources in two adjoining Sub-LAPs could find its sub-resources on both sides of a constraint identified by the CAISO’s market processes. As a result, there is potential that a CAISO dispatch instruction to the distributed energy resource aggregation to alleviate a constraint between these two Sub-LAPs may actually exacerbate the problem.”

New England ISO (ISO-NE) allows limited (<5MW) multi-nodal aggregation

As noted earlier, ISO-NE’s proposal has some issues for DERs, but it does allow multi-nodal aggregations for less than 5 MW size. FERC should ask MISO why it didn’t follow this ISO-NE approach.

PJM allows multi-nodal for capacity and ancillary services market

Also noted earlier is PJM’s use case approach to comply with FERC Order 2222. PJM allows for multi-nodal aggregation in its capacity and ancillary services markets but does not allow for energy market participation. PJM says dispatch and pricing across nodes cause less accurate energy prices. FERC should ask MISO why it didn’t follow PJM’s approach.

Some ISOs have not accommodated multi-nodal in their FERC Order 2222 compliance plans

DER providers were hopeful when some ISOs asked for an extension to comply with FERC Order 2222. But their hopes were dashed by ISOs like MISO and SPP, who did not address a key requirement – multi-nodal aggregation. Neither of these ISOs even conducted a survey directly with their Aggregators of Retail Customers to ask whether multi-nodal was an issue in the market design.

New York ISO (NYISO) does not allow multi-nodal aggregation

NYISO allows aggregations at a single transmission node only. NYISO has identified a list of 115 transmission nodes. Even while imposing a broad restriction, MISO could have followed NYISO’s example and worked with its distribution utilities to identify MISO’s list of transmission nodes where it expects to see aggregated DERs.

Midcontinent ISO (MISO) says multi-nodal is not possible

MISO said that multi-nodal aggregation is not allowed right off the bat with its stakeholders due to wholesale price oscillations in March 2021, almost a year before its compliance plan due date, and never broached the topic again. MISO cited a research study done with Stevens and Clarkson University, which stakeholders did not vet.

MISO says it observed price oscillations from multiple nodes when DERs were dispatched in aggregate to respond to transmission needs, leading to inaccurate distribution factors. MISO proposes restricting aggregations to a single node without addressing its challenges with multi-nodal aggregations. MISO says a single node makes sense because it is consistent with generator modeling and provides “more certainty and control” of the transmission grid.

Some Southwest Power Pool (SPP) utility members don’t believe DERs can address congestion

SPP didn’t even try to engage with stakeholders on this multi-nodal aggregation topic. In January 2021, lacking broad stakeholder support, SPP said it might work with stakeholders on this topic after filing the compliance proposal at FERC, due at the end of April.

Utilities in SPP are under the impression that DERs cannot reduce transmission congestion. This impression is the fundamental disconnect in SPP’s task force on Order 2222 because most stakeholders don’t agree on the benefits of DERs.

SPP’s entire compliance proposal for Order 2222 centered around stakeholder voting and ensuring its Electric Distribution Companies are on-board with the SPP proposal. FERC should ask SPP to commit to a schedule to address multi-nodal aggregation.

Next steps – FERC needs to weigh in with a policy statement

Since FERC regulates all these ISOs, the ball is in FERC’s court. FERC can decide once MISO and SPP file their compliance plans in April.

FERC still has to decide on Voltus’s petition for a technical conference where one of the suggested topics for a panel discussion is multi-nodal aggregation. FERC should promptly schedule this technical conference to benefit and learn from the ISO experts. Soon after that, FERC could issue a policy statement advising ISOs like MISO and SPP to re-start stakeholder discussions on multi-nodal aggregations.

MISO, SPP identify transmission upgrades enabling 28 GW of new renewables Wed, 09 Mar 2022 19:56:25 +0000 “Go West, young man!” This phrase referring to the pioneering days of this country implied that the West was a land of opportunity. In the Midwest, the western part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) territory is rich with renewable energy resources, but interconnecting new renewable generation to the grid there has been stymied by a lack of transmission capacity.

As Natalie McIntire, Clean Grid Alliance’s technical consultant on MISO interconnection matters can attest, interconnecting new clean generators to the grid, “can be a challenging process.”  Studies are required to ensure that the grid remains reliable with the addition of the new power generating sources, and those studies often take years to complete.  In many cases, new generators are required to pay for new transmission lines, substations, or other infrastructure in order to ensure reliable interconnection.  What can make this even more challenging?  Trying to connect a generator in one transmission owner’s service territory next to a neighboring transmission owner’s territory.  In that case, there’s double the trouble. The new generator needs to be studied by both regions and may be required to fund additions to both grids, significantly increasing the cost and the time to get projects online.

MISO/SPP Seams Map

JTIQ Study Reveals 7 Transmission Projects that can Open the Door for 28GW+ Renewables

The Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue study (JTIQ) took the long view when looking for transmission solutions.  It did not just consider the new generators that might come on in the next year or two, but instead modeled the expected new generation over a multiple-year period, likely representing the next 5 to 10 years.  This approach helps to identify more cost-effective solutions, as one larger solution can often cost less than multiple band-aid solutions.  MISO and SPP each modeled significant amounts of new generation near their boundary, considered a number of alternative solutions, including those submitted by stakeholders. The results show seven transmission projects in both service territories. The current analysis indicates at least 28GW or more of new generation could be supported while bringing a significant amount of economic and reliability benefits to consumers.

JTIQ Portfolio map showing 7 proposed transmission sites.

Next Up: Allocating Costs

Now that the solutions are identified, the real hard part begins. The two regions and their stakeholders need to work through the contentious task of figuring out how to assign the costs of these lines. After all, this is the root of the entire problem.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires that costs be assigned in a manner that is “roughly commensurate” with the benefits the parties are expected to receive.  To do this, more analysis will be needed to better estimate the amount of new generation that will be supported by these lines, and the number of benefits both generators and load are expected to receive.  So far, MISO and SPP have only estimated the benefits load will receive from reduced energy production costs.

In addition to this study work, MISO and SPP also collaborated to implement some welcome changes to their interconnection processes that should result in shorter timelines and more certainty for new generators seeking to connect to the grid.

Clean Grid Alliance applauds this collaborative effort and will continue engaging with MISO, SPP, and other stakeholders, to pursue the next steps necessary to move these lines beyond the study report and toward construction. We look forward to the time when we can re-open the Western part of the MISO footprint to renewable energy generation once again.

Florida’s solar policy gets a controversial overhaul Tue, 08 Mar 2022 13:00:00 +0000 Follow @EngelsAngle

The Florida Legislature has passed changes to the state's net metering policy that has solar advocates warning of "nightmare" impacts to rooftop solar customers.

House Bill 741 directs the Public Service Commission to revise the state's net metering policy by Jan. 1, 2024.

Under the legislation, the commission would phase down credits for owned or leased systems interconnected in 2024 and 2025 to 75%, to 60% in 2026, and to 50% for systems installed in 2027 and 2028.

Customers who install systems before Jan. 1, 2029 would be grandfathered into the existing net metering policy for 20 years, an extension from a previous bill that set the deadline at Dec. 31, 2023.

After Jan. 1, 2029, rooftop solar customers must pay the full cost of electric service and "may not be subsidized" by non-solar customers. Energy credits for rooftop solar customers would drop down to the utility's avoided-cost rate.

The bill would allow a public utility to petition the commission for "any combination" of fixed fees for rooftop solar generators.

The bill is ready to be signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“This bill is a nightmare for anyone who believes in energy freedom and the rights of people to choose the energy that works for them and their families," said Will Giese, southeast regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association The legislation was passed by the state Senate on March 7, three days after it cleared the House.

"States that enact bad legislation like this will see much of that business growth disappear, and we’re urging Governor DeSantis to veto the bill and maintain Florida’s place as a national energy leader," Giese said.

Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, author of a companion bill in the Senate, told news outlet WFSU that utilities shouldn't be required to purchase extra energy generated by rooftop solar systems when a utility can buy electricity from a utility-scale solar farm for less.

Bradley called the existing net metering policy "regressive."

More than 11,000 jobs support the solar industry in Florida, according to SEIA. There are just over 107,000 rooftop solar installations in the state, a total that far lags its potential of over 1 million homes.

Based on 2020 data compiled by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, 60% of solar customers in Florida have a household income of $100,000 or less.

Demographic solar data in Florida compiled by the Berkley Lab based on 2020 data

Net metering's most popular battle is currently underway in California, the largest solar market in the U.S.

Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie released analysis saying California’s newly proposed net metering tariffs would cut the state’s residential solar market in half by 2024.

NEM 3.0, named for the third generation of net energy metering policy in California, would reduce credits for rooftop solar customers and add monthly hookup charges of $8 per kW of installed capacity. The charge is intended to capture residential solar adopters’ “fair share of costs” to maintain the grid and fund public purpose programs.

The controversial NEM 3.0 proposal is backed by utilities Pacific Gas and Electric, Sothern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric.

The CPUC indefinitely delayed a decision on the proposal in February following an outcry from solar industry advocates, political leaders, and celebrities.

Solar module makers seek Biden administration support Tue, 08 Mar 2022 11:00:00 +0000 Follow @EngelsAngle

U.S. solar module manufacturers are asking for President Biden to back legislation that would bolster the domestic supply chain, calling the current moment "an inflection point" for the industry. 

The Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Coalition asked Biden in a letter to put the weight of the White House behind long-term incentives for domestic manufacturing included in the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act. The bill, backed by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) passed in the U.S. House but has so far failed to gain traction in the Senate.

The group represents North American solar module manufacturers Heliene, First Solar, Meyer Burger Americas, Silfab Solar, and Auxin Solar, among others. They claim that the SEMA legislation would help Biden reach his own goal of 30 GW of annual solar deployment by 2025.

"The U.S. cannot remain reliant on overseas solar supply chains, nor can we assume those monopolized supply chains will continue to keep prices low," the group wrote. "Moving from foreign dependence on fossil fuels to foreign dependence on clean energy is not how we can truly build back better and meet our climate targets."

The critique of the U.S. dependence on foreign supply chains is largely focused on China. A report by the Ultra Low Carbon Solar Alliance found that Chinese producers hold 83% of global capacity for polysilicon production, 96% for wafers, 79% for cells, and 70% for modules.

U.S. solar module manufacturers, meanwhile, have to pay, at times, a 20% premium for non-Chinese polysilicon to avoid anti-dumping and other trade enforcement actions.

"SEMA will enhance competition throughout the solar supply chain, with global-scale American factories continuing to press forward cost savings in solar deployment, and bring the country’s ambitious climate goals within reach," the coalition said.

Shortly after taking office, Biden signed an executive order calling for a review of American supply chains.

A comprehensive analysis of the U.S. clean energy supply chain by the Department of Energy found that incentives could offset the higher costs for domestic solar PV manufacturing, which can be 30-40% higher. LG recently announced that it would exit the solar industry entirely, resulting in the closure of its Huntsville, Alabama manufacturing facility, because of "uncertainties" in the market.

DOE recommended that the U.S. expand thin-film module production, which isn't reliant on China for input materials. The agency suggested that cell production and establishing the first international standards for inverters also present opportunities to improve the domestic supply chain.

The U.S. solar PV supply chain will, above all else, need significant financial support from the federal government, the report notes. With the right support, the U.S. could take strategic actions on workforce development, manufacturing, human rights, and trade.