Tag: policy

US DOC Enforces New Tariffs on Chinese Solar Manufacturers

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has ruled it will impose new punitive tariffs against Chinese solar product manufacturers, with antidumping duties of up to 260 percent and countervailing duties as high as 23 percent. The ruling represents the DOC’s latest efforts to control the dumping of low-cost solar products into the U.S. market by Chinese manufacturers.

FERC Removes Obstacles that Limit Distributed Renewable Energy in Colorado

In a July 1 ruling FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) cleared the way for Colorado’s Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), along with other electric co-ops, to step outside the bounds of a 40-year power supply contract with Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association and tap into local renewable energy supplies. FERC’s ruling, which was unanimous, clarifies what had been deemed unclear wording in PURPA (Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act), as well as Tri-State’s regulatory status.

The contract DMEA and 43 other electric co-ops had signed with Tristate in 2001 required them to purchase 95 percent of their electricity from Tri-state. In short, FERC ruled that as per PURPA DMEA not only had the right but the obligation to purchase electricity directly from “Qualifying Facilities” (QFs) over and above the five percent cap it’s limited to in its contract with Tri-State.

With the ruling, FERC opened the door for DMEA and other Tri-State electric co-op members to tap into cost-competitive renewable energy resources right in their backyards. DMEA intends to move forward and contract for electricity from a small-scale hydropower facility to be built on a local irrigation canal proposed by Percheron, DMEA’s Manager of Member Relations and Human Resources Virginia Harman said. 

Note To PUC: Changes to Electricity Rate Design Could Dramatically Impact the Future of Solar PV

A new report from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) finds that the future growth of distributed generation solar PV is heavily influenced by retail electricity rate design – and that proposed changes to net metering rules and retail rate structures could harm increased adoption of distributed solar.

The report, titled Net Metering and Market Feedback Loops: Exploring the Impact of Retail Rate Design on Distributed PV Deployment, is meant to inform the public and utility regulators that about the effects of changes proposed by a growing number of states to their net metering rules and retail rate structures – changes fueled by worry that increased adoption of distributed PV could result in unwelcome financial impacts on utilities and consumers.

Ryan Wiser, one of the report’s authors, said utilities are primarily concerned that solar customers don’t always pay their fair share of fixed infrastructure costs. “Utilities sometimes claim that net-metered solar customers are unfairly subsidized under existing net metering rules, with non-solar customers paying a larger share of the fixed costs of the electric grid,” Wiser said.

Listen Up: Pope Calls for the Replacement of Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy and Solar Subsidies

We’re talking about religion this week. Did I get your attention? How about if we talk about climate change, more renewable energy, dirty fossil fuels and solar subsidies? Okay, we’ve already covered these topics. But now the Pope has chimed in with his “On Care For Our Common Home” Encyclical. I’m probably the worst person to comment on this 180 page Encyclical (I got kicked out of Hebrew School). There is no doubt in my mind that the Pope’s analysis and commentary will definitely affect U.S. politics related to clean energy.

Corporate Speed Dating: Coupling India’s Smart Cities with Smart Investment for Sustainability

Building off nearly 10 months of extensive public and private sector consultation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began in April to green-light initial projects under the country’s Smart Cities Initiative (SCI). The SCI benchmarks, formulated in response to rapid urban population growth, aim to modernize environmentally sustainable transport, housing, utility, and connectivity services for 100 new or refurbished cities across the subcontinent.

Global Geothermal Alliance Concept One Step Further

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) convened roughly 60 stakeholders in June in Nairobi to finalize the concept of the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) and exchange views on the best way forward. GEA’s Executive Director Karl Gawell participated as a U.S. NGO representative with support from Power Africa and the U.S. – East Africa Geothermal Partnership. “The high-level policy involvement by the leadership and participants was impressive and a measure of success for IRENA’s efforts,” noted Gawell.

Prior to the Nairobi meeting, talk of an Energy Global Geothermal Alliance took the form of an Action Statement and Action Plan at the United Nations’ September 2014 Climate Summit in New York, though that development did not have official U.S. participation. As a result of the June meeting, the Executive Directors of both GEA and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) expressed willingness and interest in supporting the effort.

The meeting was conducted by Joseph Njoroge, Principal Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Energy; Adnan Amin, Director General of IRENA and H.E. Simon D’Ujanga, Minister of Energy, Uganda. IRENA officials said, “The Alliance aims to identify and promote different models associated with geothermal development and generation to enable and encourage investments and to integrate geothermal facilities into energy markets.”

Numerous participants reviewed the status of geothermal efforts in their countries:


·      Kenya’s Geothermal Development Corporation gave an impressive presentation on their effort to prioritize geothermal development, noting Kenya is now number 8 in geothermal worldwide. But Kenya made it clear that it intends to go further, with an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW.


·      Sahele Fekede of Ethiopia’s Ministry presented the numerous developments underway in his country. He noted they are working with various multi-lateral and financial entities and also discussed a new Ethiopian geothermal resource assessment that estimates 2,114 MW to 10,791 MW potential with 4,200 MW as “most likely.” He said they intend to have a new geothermal framework implemented by the end of the year.


·      Rainer Halcon of the Philippines Department of Energy noted that geothermal energy now makes up more than 10 percent of energy capacity in the Philippines and 13 percent of the power mix. He said that since passage of a new renewable energy law the interest in geothermal has resurged and also gave a new installation target of 1,180 MW by 2020.


·      Camilo Tautiva from Columbia presented a map showing ten energy projects, adding that his country is actively working on new policy and regulatory structure for geothermal.


·      Peru’s representative, Alcides Claros, presented details on 2,860 MW of potential in Peru. He said they had already granted 20 licenses for geothermal.


·      About 15 percent of Costa Rica’s energy is now geothermal. The country has a new 55-MW project under construction and 2 more scheduled to be on-line in 2021 and 2023, respectively.


·      Representatives from El Salvador said that the country is now 24 percent geothermal powered and highlighted efforts to develop a regional geothermal center.


·      The Secretariat of the Pacific Community pointed to Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji as potential geothermal strong spots.

There were afternoon presentations by GEA, IRENA, Enel Green Power, IFC, French Ministry of Ecology and the African Union. GEA’s presentation centered on geothermal risk and risk mitigation points that were previously presented in a joint GEA-U.S. Department of State workshop in 2014 and was well received. Following these presentations an open discussion sought to clarify the concept of a Global Geothermal Alliance. In general there was strong support for moving forward with the IRENA effort.

The following day the group toured the Olkaria Geothermal Site. “The geothermal work at Olkaria is impressive,” noted Gawell. “Olkaria development is something Kenyans are proud of and it should give other countries a sense of what is possible for their economy if they pursue geothermal power.”

IRENA intends to make the presentations available on its Web site in the near future.

Lead image: Olkaria Geothermal Field in Kenya, June 2015. Credit: GEA.

A delegation of geothermal stakeholders visited Kenya for the Global Geothermal Alliance meeting and toured the control room of Olkaria 4 Power Plant on June 16, 2015. Credit: GEA.

India Seeks International Developers To Build Its 100-GW Solar Market

India will soon invite bids for its first dollar-linked solar power contracts, seeking to cut costs and woo investment as Prime Minister Narendra Modi targets an unprecedented expansion in clean energy.

State-owned NTPC Ltd., India’s largest power generator, will award the tenders for 500 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts of electricity in July, Tarun Kapoor, a joint secretary in India’s Renewable Energy Ministry, said in an interview in New Delhi.

“NTPC will show the way in dollar bidding by bringing solar tenders in a month,” Kapoor said on June 25.

Behavioral Economics and the Solar PV Industry

Behavioral economic theory holds that human interactions are complex and that economic motivations include nuance beyond that of maximizing utility. This is certainly true of the global solar industry as throughout its history it has interacted within a context of here-one-day-gone-the-next incentives and subsidies, expectations of significant price drops, competition with well-subsidized conventional energy technologies as well as a continuing perception among many that solar remains a science experiment.

Solar industry participants have a preference for very big numbers and forecasts as well as for optimistic outlooks for the future.  Any deviation from the celebration of really big numbers or any notion that strays from the optimistic status quo is typically ignored. 

Cherry-picking facts — be they optimistic or pessimistic — to make a point without considering context and nuance, will almost always lead to poor decision-making. 

What Is the Value of Solar Energy + Storage?

What’s the true, overall value of combined “behind the meter” energy storage plus solar PV deployment to U.S. power utilities and their customers? That’s the big question facing stakeholders in Hawaii and other U.S. states with a need to integrate fast-growing amounts of solar and renewable energy on to power grids.

 

A new valuation methodology set out in a report commissioned by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and carried out by Clean Power Research offers utilities, grid operators and regulators the means to find out. With Hawaii’s electricity market providing the basis, the IREC-CPR report, “Valuation of Solar + Storage in Hawaii: A Methodology,” fills a gap in the analytic toolkit utilities have at their disposal, IREC and CPR explained in interviews. 

 

A rough analysis using the valuation methodology indicates the incremental value of adding battery storage capacity to solar PV installations in Hawaii comes in at 10 cents per kWh. Those net capacity added benefits accrue to the utility and rate payers. Costs of 7 cents per kWh, which include the costs of solar and storage losses, are paid for by utility customers who deploy these hybrid systems, CPR’s Ben Norris explained.

 

While these figures are specific to Hawaii, IREC-CPR’s valuation model can be used to determine the value of solar-plus-storage installations in any state or region, he added. 

‘Snail’s Pace’ in Climate Talks, Weak Pledges Frustrate UN Chief

The secretary general of the United Nations is frustrated with the pace of negotiations for what’s intended to be a crucial agreement limiting global warming.

Climate change pledges submitted so far from the world’s leading economies won’t be enough to keep the planet from warming dangerously, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday in New York.

Proposals to reduce heat-trapping emissions need to be “a floor, not a ceiling,” he said.

The global increase in temperatures will exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) under the national pledges already submitted to UN, Ban said. That’s the goal scientists and the UN have set to avoid the worst effects due to global warming.

The proposals submitted to date “will not be enough to place us on a 2-degree pathway,” Ban said.

Without any changes to global emissions, the world is on track to warm by 4 degrees Celsius or more, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change Janos Pasztor said earlier this month.

World leaders have five months to go before a meeting of almost 200 nations in Paris that’s intended to seal a new global pact to cut planet-warming carbon emissions. If successful, the agreement would be the first ever to require both developed nations like the US and growing economies like China to address climate change.

“The pace of UN negotiations are far too slow,” Ban said. “It’s like a snail’s pace.”

The U.S., the world’s biggest historic source of greenhouse gases, pledged earlier this year to cut its emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025. The European Union has promised a 40 percent cut by 2030. Several other major economies, including Australia and Japan, have yet to submit climate plans to the UN.