News

Key to Clean Energy: Batteries

By admin,

In a world that is becoming increasingly aware about climate change, the surge for renewable energy over the past two decades continues to increase. Just a few years ago, wind and solar technologies that were new and expensive are now the key to cost-competitive low carbon energy solutions. Finding cost-effective storage to keep up with the demands for renewable energy has become the next big challenge, and batteries have become the solution. Large battery installations are being built around the world, and they might end up in your neighborhood.

Batteries Just Got Cheaper

Batteries offer a viable solution for storing renewable energy, and fortunately—over the last year—the price of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 35%. As the need for batteries increases, the cost of batteries continues to drop. This means it will be more cost efficient to store more solar and wind power. In addition, according to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, the cost of wind in solar has dropped by approximately 10-24 percent since last year. This is a major win for renewable energy because it’s helping them compete with fossil fuel-generated power.

A Bright Future for Batteries

These new massive battery storage projects are already being built in places like Florida and California to replace natural gas, and many more are in the works. Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, plans to build the world’s largest solar-powered battery. This new solar-powered battery will replace 1,638 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity of two aging natural gas power generating units with clean and renewable energy. This capacity will be equal to some 100 million iPhone batteries.

“This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy,” Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL, said in a statement. This project is just one of the latest plans around the world for the development of these renewable generation systems.

The Increased Demand

The increased demand for battery storage is influenced by government policy. In states like California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon, they have adopted storage mandates and regulations. When businesses invest in these battery storage projects, federally a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit is available if it is associated with a renewable power generation project.

While the U.S. electric grid doesn’t necessarily need more storage now, with the increasing integration for wind, solar and other renewable energy resources, energy storage will become more important. If you’re looking to find solar power opportunities, Intersect Energy is here to help. Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Puerto Rico Moving Towards 100% Renewable Energy Goal

By admin,

Nearly two years after Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico and being months without electricity, Puerto Rico has worked vigorously to move on from the disaster. As part of the rebuilding, Puerto Rico is striving to improve and strengthen their grid. Puerto Rico’s Senate has recently passed a bill to mandate that the islands electric system move towards 100% renewable energy by 2050. Before the bill is signed by Governor Rosselló, it is being sent to the House for reconciliation.

 

The Process

Throughout the creation of the bill, there was an open process that included several public hearings. Javier Rua-Jovet, Sunrun’s director of public policy in Puerto Rico, explains that there was a strong consensus to move forward with this bill following Hurricane Maria.

Once the bill is signed, changes will be implemented to the island’s utility grid. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has already prepared by issuing a draft plan to change the island’s main grid into smaller “mini-grids”, which will be largely powered by solar and storage. There will be eight “mini-grids” scattered throughout the island, and to operate they will require solar energy and solar storage projects.

Why the Change?

Puerto Rico has been devastated by a number of devastating storms. Hurricanes Irma and María forced PREPA to reconsider how it should operate in preparation for future events. Following a storm, these “mini-grids” are designed to operate in grid-isolated mode. This will help to protect the health and safety of people through the next hurricane.

The Move Towards 100% Renewable Goes Nationwide

Although this is just the beginning for Puerto Rico, governors from several U.S. states have also expressed their plans to move towards 100% renewable energy in the future. New Mexico has passed a bill mandating 100% zero-carbon electricity, and the bill is waiting to be signed by the governor. Puerto Rico and New Mexico are just two out of five states including Hawaii, California and Washington D.C., that have mandated a move towards 100% zero-carbon electricity and/or renewable energy by 2050.

Sunnova, the largest non-utility electricity supplier in Puerto Rico, supports this move towards 100% renewable energy. “Sunnova is thrilled that Puerto Rico is joining Hawaii, California, Washington D.C. and New Mexico in their commitment to 100% renewable energy,” stated Meghan Nutting, the executive VP of policy and communications for Sunnova. “Given the abundance of sun on the island, we believe that solar will be able to play a significant role in meeting the 100% goal.”

This mandate in Puerto Rico is a strive towards a renewable energy future. The renewable energy experts at Intersect Energy, are committed to finding and implementing new solutions to reduce our environmental impact and move towards a renewable energy future. Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Minnesota Is Home to the First Wind-Solar Hybrid Project in the Country

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Solar is on the rise in the U.S and is becoming more appealing to corporations and consumers every day. Energy corporations around the country are looking to find a more efficient and cost-effective way to produce renewable energy. As the cost of solar has dropped, the appeal of adding it to wind installation projects has grown. A western Minnesota wind-solar hybrid project is among the first of its kind in the country.

 

What is a Wind-Solar Hybrid Project?

By paring wind and solar projects on the same site, it can cut equipment costs while ramping up output. Hybrid projects give an opportunity to increase capacity because wind turbines operate at 50-55% capacity, while solar sits at 15% capacity. When combining the projects on the same site, the hybrid reaches 60 to 70% capacity. Combining wind and solar projects on the same site will reduce equipment costs and cost less than most transmission and generation providers.

Hybrid Project in Minnesota

Juhl Energy, GE Renewable Energy and Bank of America are partnering to begin an integrated solar-wind hybrid power generation project. This project will have a 2-megawatt turbine and 500-kilowatt solar installation and will use GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy technology platform. Lake Region CEO Tim Thompson said the project lowers costs to ratepayers and “gives us a local renewable energy source with the wind and solar production that will tie into the local distribution grid we already own.”

The Future of Wind-Solar Hybrid

Wind solar hybrid projects are predicted to increase 4% in the U.S., becoming a $1.5 billion global market. The founder of Juhl Energy wants to see larger hybrids of 5 MW of wind and 1 MW of solar. “Distributed and utility-scale hybrids will become more common,” Soholt said. “Wind and solar pair well together because solar produces during the day and wind is more of a nighttime source. And with storage you have a great project to offer utilities.”

How Intersect Can Help

Interested in investing in a solar power project, but not sure how to find opportunities? As a Distributed Energy System developer, Intersect Energy has the expertise and services you need to find solar power opportunities and capital. Contact us today so we can help you get started with your solar power investment and make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Community Solar Development Projects are Coming to Pennsylvania

By admin,

Solar is proving to be one of America’s fastest growing low-cost energy sources. On Thursday February 21, 2019, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced bipartisan community solar legislation. Currently, there is only a small percentage of people in the state who acquire solar energy, and this legislation will expand access to affordable, clean energy for residents.

What is Community Solar?

Community solar is a solar plant where electricity is shared by more multiple community subscribers. This allows homeowners, renters and businesses in the community to share the benefits of solar panels even if they don’t want to install them on their own home or business. With community solar, you can purchase or lease a share in a community solar project, and every month you will receive a credit on your electricity bill by the energy that has been produced by your share.

Community Solar is Helping Pennsylvanians

Once this legislation is put into motion, it will make it easier for Pennsylvanian’s to go solar and it opens access to clean energy to all residents. This legislation will not only help the environment, but these solar projects will create new jobs for Pennsylvanians in the state’s new energy economy. Vote Solar studied and analyzed the economic benefits that this legislation would bring to Pennsylvania. They estimate this would increase solar jobs by 26%, including 1,053 full-time jobs in the first five years. It will also create $706 million in local economic benefits.

“Between the plummeting costs of solar over the last decade and pent up customer demand for access to clean energy, now is the perfect time to enact community solar legislation in Pennsylvania” said Jeff Cramer, executive director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “If passed, HB531 would provide families and businesses the opportunity to access all of the financial and environmental benefits solar provides rural and urban communities alike.”

The Solar Movement in the U.S.

There has been a growing demand for community solar across the United States. Pennsylvania is one of the many states across the country that are introducing legislation designed to enable the development of community solar projects. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow community solar programs and encourage growth through policy and programs, which have created thousands of jobs.

 

Community solar is a great way for the community to save money on energy while also helping the environment. Intersect Energy provides analysis, financing, and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the sites environmental impact while maximizing savings for the site owner. Contact us today so we can help you get started with your solar power investment and make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

More and More Corporations are Turning Towards Renewable Energy

By admin,

Corporations have been adamant that they want renewable energy. Last year, corporations and government agencies broke records by signing contracts to buy 13.4 gigawatts of power, with 1 gigawatt being equivalent to 1 billion watts. To put this in perspective, this is similar to Nevada’s total generating capacity. Despite the wave of federal policies that had the potential to lower the demand for clean power, the U.S. made up 63 percent of global corporate renewable deals last year. The growth over the past year shows tremendous progress for renewable energy. Let’s take a deeper look at what is behind the boom.

Tech Giants are Going Green

Tech giants like Apple, AT&T, Google and Facebook are standing out as leaders in the field. They are paving the way for other corporations to ultimately pledge to achieve 100 percent of their power from renewables. When you hear a company like Google say, “We’re 100% renewable energy,” it usually means that they are buying as much clean, renewable energy as it is consuming unclean.

Facebook Inc. alone made deals on more than 2.6 gigawatts of clean energy just last year. This is three times that of the next highest corporate energy buyer, AT&T. Google announced early last year that they currently held contracts to purchase 3 gigawatts from renewable energy projects.

The Global Effort Towards Going Green

Communities, companies and nations have set clean-power targets in a global effort to stop climate change, which puts the need for renewable energy at an all-time high. Today the green boom is being driven by renewable energy. In most markets, wind and solar power is the cheapest source of electricity and renewable energy is increasingly competitive with fossil fuels. In fact, Exxon Mobil Corp. signed a clean-power deal last year for the Permian Basin, which is one of the fastest growing U.S. oil fields.

“It’s no longer a safe bet to assume that utilities are the biggest source of clean-energy demand,” Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst at BloombergNEF, said in an interview. “The sheer scale of renewable-energy purchases is unprecedented and only poised to grow.”

Make the Change

The world is turning towards renewable energy and corporations have made major progress in renewable energy growth. Now that big corporations are paving the way, it has and will continue to become more affordable for other corporations and small businesses.

If you are interested in joining the movement towards renewable energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing, and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next renewable energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Wind and Solar: Predicted to be the Fastest Growing Sources of Electricity Over the Next Two Years

By admin,

The U.S. has been making substantial strides towards renewable energy goals recent years by pushing out fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy. In fact, The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration is predicting that wind and solar will grow 10-17% over the next two years. If these predictions are accurate, wind and solar will be the fastest growing sources of electricity over the next two years.

Wind Is Winning In Renewable Energy

Since it was discovered in 1919, wind energy has come a long way. One major improvement is affordability. The share of total U.S. generation from wind is projected to increase from 7% in 2018 to 9% in 2020, making wind the largest source of renewable energy in the nation. Currently, there is utility-scale wind power installed in 41 states. In 2019, about 11 GW (gigawatts), or 1 billion watts, of wind capacity are scheduled to come online, which is the largest amount of new wind capacity that has been installed since 2012.

Solar Continues To Soar

As prices continue to fall, solar is becoming a cost-effective energy choice for homeowners and business owners alike. It is the most abundant energy source on earth, and it has become the third-largest renewable energy source in the U.S. power sector. In addition, the installation of solar power across the U.S. has increased more than 23 times over the past eight years. In 2019, utility scale power installations are projected at 4 GWac (gigawatt alternating current). Over the next two years, it is projected that almost 9 GWac solar will be installed across the nation.

Investing In A Renewable Energy Future

Renewable energy could possibly exceed coal electricity by 2022. The EIA predicts that coal will begin to fall by 24%. When adding together renewable energy sources that will be used in the U.S., it’s predicted that the U.S. will get 38% of its electricity from clean energy sources in 2020. This is a great step as renewable energy looks to continue to gain ground on fossil fuels.

 

Interested in investing in a solar power project, but not sure how to find opportunities? As a Distributed Energy System developer, Intersect Energy has the expertise and services you need to find solar power opportunities and capital. Contact us today so we can help you get started with your solar power investment and make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Schools Are Jumping On Board With Solar

By admin,

With solar on the rise in the U.S., corporations and institutions with huge energy bills have started to realize how much money they can save by switching to solar power. One area where we are seeing great growth is in schools.

In early December, the public schools in Arlington, Virginia decided to implement solar power into schools with a new solar-on-schools 25-year contract. The schools’ solar PV system will include 6,980 panels with a total capacity of 2.5 megawatts of power. Arlington Public Schools (APS) are leading the way for the solar movement and making it easier for neighboring school districts to follow the same path.

Implementing Solar in Schools

This is the largest solar contract in Northern Virginia. The solar power purchase agreement (PPA) will have no capital costs and will save the school district an estimated $4 million in operating costs over the 25-year contract. In addition to the savings, the solar PV arrays will be equipped with an Energy Dashboard, which will allow the students to learn about the impact of solar energy on the environment and in their community.

“This is an important step forward as part of APS’s long-term commitment to conserving energy and providing a cleaner environment for the future of our students,” said Dr. Patrick Murphy, Superintendent, APS. “In addition to substantial cost savings and environmental benefits at no upfront cost to APS, these solar projects provide incredible teaching and learning opportunities for our schools, allowing students to explore energy conservation in action.”

Growing Market for Solar Power

There is a growing market for solar power in the commercial sector due to the low prices and overall savings. Other school districts in the state may follow suit and shift to solar, as by doing this with other school districts they can increase their political influence.

 

At Intersect Energy, we have experience working with corporations, schools, non-profits, etc. Through our knowledge and expertise, we can provide you with turn-key energy solutions when it comes to your on-site alternative energy generation. Contact the experts at Intersect Energy today to request your consultation! Don’t forget to stay up-to-date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Tariffs Hit Hard in Q3: What Impact Did This Have on Solar Market?

By admin,

The new 2018 U.S. solar tariff which was signed on January 23, 2018 by the Trump Administration levies a 30% tariff on all solar imports to the United States for the next four years. Although developers and contractors tried to secure models in the past few months before the tariffs hit, Q3 2018 is where the impacts of the new 30% tariff have been seen, according to a SEIA and Woods and Mackenzie report. Let’s take a deeper look at the impact this has had on the solar market.

Solar Installation

Solar installation during Q3 fell 15% year-over-year to 1.7 GWdc (gigawatt direct current). The utility-scale sector saw the biggest impact from the tariffs, where installations fell to 678 MW (megawatt). Most predict that the market at the end of 2018 will remain relatively flat in comparison to 2017.

“Developers originally planning to bring projects online in Q3 2018 were forced to push out completion dates to Q4 2018 or Q1 2019 due to uncertainty around tariffs,” said Colin Smith, Senior Analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “We did, however, see utility PV procurement outpace installations fourfold in Q3, showing that despite the tariffs causing project delays, there is substantial growth ahead for the U.S. utility PV sector.”

Residential Installation

Although the utility-scale sector experienced a decrease in installations, residential solar was up 11% year-over-year, with an increase in California’s solar market. This didn’t happen right away, the tariff first caused the cost of solar sold to American homeowners to spike, and the cost of solar is 5.6% higher now than it would have been.

What’s to Come?

“If not for the tariffs, the U.S. solar market would undoubtedly look better today than it does now,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “However, as this report shows, this is a resilient industry that cannot be kept down for long.” Wood Mackenzie expects many of the delayed projects to come back online by the end of the year. Due to the new 2018 solar tariff, there has been a negative impact on the solar energy market, but the report also shows that the solar industry is resilient and it will make a comeback in the new year.

Across all other markets, solar is competing with lower-cost fuel sources such as wind and natural gas. This means with the increase in solar costs and the competitive marketplace, homeowners, utilities and businesses might be more likely to choose an alternative to their power generation.

How Intersect Can Help

Interested in investing in a new solar power project in the new year? Intersect Energy is an on-site energy company that can provide you with turn-key energy solutions. We have experience when it comes to alternative energy on-site energy generation, we know the process. Contact us today so we can help you get started on your next solar power investment. Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Investors and Sources of Capital are Fighting for Solar Power

By admin,

Although solar power is often thought of as a bespoke investment, recent trends are causing investors and sources of capital to fight for limited supplies of feasible solar power projects. What has led investors to battle for solar power? The Distributed Energy System experts at Intersect Energy have outlined the three reasons why so many are now fighting over solar power projects.

Increases in Tax Equity Markets

Despite the many tax reforms that have recently occurred, the market for tax equity has significantly increased since 2016. In fact, Michelle Davis, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie Renewables & Power, stated that: “There’s 40% more tax equity investors since 2016, margins for debt are compressing, and residual value is making up 50%+ of utility solar required returns”. Because of this, the solar power investment landscape is evolving and tax equity investors, lenders and sponsors are being impacted.

More Competition Means More Willingness to Invest

As solar power becomes increasingly popular, investors are beginning to broaden the types of projects in which they are willing to invest. Although the heavy hitters are still only targeting projects that are $25 million or more, small projects that are significantly less than that number are now being considered by more and more investors. However, there is currently more demand for projects than there is projects available for purchase.

Solar Power Success is Leading to Evolving Deal Structures

The P50 and P90 ratings (the levels of generation forecasted to exceed 50% or 90%) are showing high confidence in the success of solar power construction. This has led to a change when it comes to solar power purchasing structures, as project sponsors have more capital available to distribute among development. Also, less cash is being required for a down payment, making the investment less of a risk for investors.

Interested in investing in a solar power project, but not sure how to find opportunities? As a Distributed Energy System developer, Intersect Energy has the expertise and services you need to find solar power opportunities and capital. Contact us today so we can help you get started with your solar power investment and make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Structural Changes for Trade Relationship Between US and China Being Discussed? What This Means for Solar?

By admin,

Xi and Trump have agreed to a 90 day ceasefire on future tariffs in order to discuss significant structural changes to the trading relationship between the US and China. Currently, there is a 30% tariff on any imported solar panels, which equates to approximately $0.09/watt of an installation. For utility scale solar, this would be approximately 10% of the total installation cost of a solar project. This will significantly impact the solar industry’s ability to grow and doesn’t make  clear sense given the number of jobs created from solar development in the United States.

Solar Manufacturing Capacity by the Numbers

The solar industry has two primary parts in order to produce electricity from the sun. The first is the actual PV panels, or photovoltaic panels. These panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. These panels are almost exclusively made in China, with only a small amount (about 4% market share) being made in the United States. This can be seen in the current manufacturing capacity by country, with China being the single largest producer by a large margin. There are economic reasons why this is the case, primarily a labor cost issue, that will continue to create this imbalance.

 

Figure 1: 2017 Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Capacity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Chart from statista.com*

The Emphasis on Electrical Inverters

The other part that makes solar panels produce power are the electrical inverters. These inverters take the direct current (DC) output from the solar and invert it to Alternating Current (AC) output to the Grid. These inverters are a significant cost to every solar project and they are also technically difficult to make. The largest factor here is that the inverters die faster than the panels and thus need to be replaced more often. Paying slightly more for inverters makes sense upfront when you can have a product that lasts longer. Due to the complexity of this equipment, the industry generally buys these inverters from either the United States or Germany. There is a large emphasis in the United States for this due to the technical difficulty and electrical architectures being developed and manufactured here. China has recently opened several inverter companies, but they have not had a lot of success breaking into the developed world’s market due to concerns over their equipment’s longevity.

So essentially today, the solar industry has a natural economic equilibrium where China sells the PV panels to the world due to their low cost of labor and the United States/Germany sell the inverters to the world due to the complexity and intellectual prowess required to manufacture. Because PV panels last about 20 years and Inverters last about 7 years, the $0.10/watt inverter price becomes $0.30/watt price over the lifetime of the project, which equals the PV panel cost per project. The solar industry needs China’s cheaper panels to continue to expand, whereas the solar industry needs the technically superior US inverters to continue to expand. It is a very simple quid pro quo situation that the existing tariffs are impacting dramatically. Higher tariffs will accelerate China opening up inverter manufacturers and beginning to gain the intellectual abilities needed to manufacture these difficult pieces of equipment. Without the tariffs, we believe the US will continue to be a major manufacture of inverters for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, the best outcome for the United States (jobs, domestic energy, reduction of carbon emissions, etc.), as the Trump Administration and Congress work with China on trade negotiations, will be not to increase and actually remove existing tariffs on solar equipment.