Are You Ready For The First Wave of Solar Tsunami-First Solar PV Plant in TX w/o PPA

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

Generous SunShine Is Ready To Rock (credit:sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

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Recently (Sep. 4, 2014), First Solar has completed the initial 18MW phase construction of the 22MW Barilla Solar PV plant in Pecos County of TX.  18 MW is not a big deal, you might think…why is it being covered in various Solar news agencies? Well, it is a big deal because this represents a major Game Changer for Texas solar due to its unique position of being the first plant in the state to be constructed and financed without a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) as a backstop.  The power generated from this plant will be offered into the wholesale market, competing with other power generation sources effectively without a contract. This type of ‘merchant’ PV power plant of Pecos County will sell electricity on Texas’ ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) grid spot market.  Even though  merchant power projects have become more common in countries (such as Chile) where solar offers a viable alternative to costly fossil fuel generated power, but it is essentially untested here in U.S. With years of experience as world’s largest contracted solar project  development (approximately 3 GW up to this point) and proven track record of execution in converting more PPA’s to energy than any one else in the industry,

First Solar PPA Development Timeline (credit: First Solar)

First Solar would have its pulse on the moment if/when Solar Energy is ready for mainstream.

Below is an interview of First Solar CEO, Jim Hughes, at Future of Energy Summit 2014. Mr. Hughes believes that the cost of solar will continue to plummet:

Below, are some statements made by various people, regarding this project’s announcement:

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Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster, commenting on the announcement said: “First Solar is a pioneer in bringing West Texas solar into the diverse energy portfolio of Texas. In West Texas we’ve got plenty of land, some with a lot of oil under it, and all of it with sunshine which makes it perfect for solar plants like this. I’m excited to see Barilla as the first project in what I hope will soon be the ‘Texas solar patch.'”

“It is exciting to enter the Texas market with a clean, renewable energy source that is competitively priced against traditional high-cost peak resources,” said Tim Rebhorn, Senior Vice President of Business Development for First Solar. “This project demonstrates First Solar’s capability to rapidly develop, construct and commission a solar asset offering clean, renewable energy at competitive rates to the grid when and where it is needed.”

Rebhorn said that the Barilla power plant will contribute to lower electricity prices for Texas consumers, while providing a reliable resource to power providers.

According to the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Texas has the greatest technical potential for solar development in the U.S. The Barilla Solar Project takes advantage of one of the best solar resource geographies in the state, with the added benefit of tying into nearby existing power transmission infrastructure in the West Texas region. The solar power plant utilizes no water for electricity generation, an important additional benefit in an area where scarce water resources must be preserved.

Regarding the Barilla project, state Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D – Eagle Pass) said, “We are blessed with sunshine in Pecos County and West Texas. Harnessing it would give us an opportunity for clean and efficient power for Texas’ future. What a great investment!”

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This Game Changing position of First Solar indicates to us, that we are observing the first wave of Solar Tsunami. Solar Energy is ready for mainstream. I’d like to ask rest of the sunny states of USA, are you also ready for the Solar Tsunami? Are you ready to take advantage of the generous sunshine bestowed upon you?

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your questions/comments/suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

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Solar Is Preferred For Water Conservation

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

Solar PV is the major solution for avoiding water-related conflicts (credit: sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

 

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In addition to our Aug. 2, 2014 post, there is another important reason that we prefer Solar Energy use: it is critical in avoiding water-related conflicts.

In a new CNA report, A Clash of Competing Necessities (Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas), PV is being identified as the major solution for avoiding water-related conflicts. The first solution is energy efficiency, moving from coal to using PV, wind, and natural gas, according to this report. The Director of Energy, Water and Climate at the CNA Think Tank‘s Institute for Public Research, Paul Faeth, says he is very surprised that water conservation is not “part of the sales pitch” for PV. The dramatic drop in prices for solar is making it a cost effective solution to water scarcity, he added.

An estimated 40% of all freshwater withdrawal in the U.S. is being used for thermal cooling, in order for power generation to remain safe and stable. As energy demand, economic and population growth, and climate change  place more strain on water access, there have been/are/will be scrutinising water use in the power sector by competing necessities. Thermal power generation is heavily dependent on water use: Faeth describes the growing concern  of plants having to power down or completely shut down in drought and heat waves.

The report indicated that for water being removed for the process of thermal cooling and being put back into the local environment, or “withdrawal”, the water use by different energy sources are as follow:

  • coal with carbon capture and storage (CSS) uses 4.3 cubic meters per MWh
  • nuclear uses 4.2 cubic meters per MWh
  • coal alone uses 2.3 cubic meters per MWh
  • natural gas uses 1 cubic meters per MWh
  • wind uses zero cubic meters per MWh
  • solar PV uses 0.1 cubic meters per MWh  (solar PV uses a small amount of water for washing the panels once in a while, but none for power generation)

For ‘consumption’ of water, whereby water is completely removed from the local environment,

  • coal with carbon capture and storage (CSS) uses 3.2 cubic meters per MWh
  • nuclear uses 2.5 cubic meters per MWh
  • coal alone uses 1.9 cubic meters per MWh
  • natural gas uses 0.7 cubic meters per MWh
  • wind uses zero cubic meters per MWh
  • solar PV uses 0.1 cubic meters per MWh

According to Faeth, policy for water conservation for the power sector and energy efficiency doesn’t exist at the moment. “Water concerns for policy makers and for many people are also a higher priority than climate change,” he said, “in drought it doesn’t matter what the cause of drought is you still have to respond, and if you can respond in a way that is cost effective and mitigates emissions, such as using wind and PV, then that is a real plus.”

The report uses figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), focusing on China, India, France, and Texas as case studies, since there are already challenges in power generation and water scarcity in these regions. China has high agriculture demand (second only to U.S.) and relies heavily on coal, requiring water for cooling, is already experiencing blackouts from a lack of water for cooling. India already uses 1.3 billion cubic meters of water per year, with forecast of 7 billion by 2040. “You have to wonder if that is even possible,” said Faeth. Solar is inexpensive in India and is a cost effective way to reduce water conflicts. Faeth added, “If water is taken from agriculture, it would be politically untenable….India has to start doing something else to avoid water competition that is already happening and we expect to get worse.”

In India 52% of the population live in water scarce areas, with 73% of electricity generation located in water stressed areas, with frequent blackouts.  Currently 79% of newly built capacity is scheduled for construction where the water supply is under threat.

In 2003, a heat wave in France lost 4 GW of nuclear and hydro energy, causing France to restrict its electricity exports, definitely reflecting its energy insecurity for its European importers. In 2009, France used 64% of its (withdrawn) water for thermal cooling due to its 80% nuclear energy generation, this presents a unique threat to energy security during droughts. Energy demand in France is expected to grow by 28% by the 2040s. France’s reliance on nuclear energy means even modest growth is a concern for water scarcity.

Current drought in Texas has already taken water from farmers to avoid blackouts. The case is now in the U.S. court. The report indicated that Texas is likely to meet water and energy demand from new PV, wind, natrual gas, and energy efficiency, despite the challenges due to drought. But the state needs to avoid new coal generation. Texas is now “looking to do more wind and PV, not particularly for climate change mitigation but because these strategies can save water,” said Faeth.

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your questions/comments/suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

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In-Depth Analysis of Renewable Energy Policy With Toby D. Couture

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Dear Friends, Readers/Viewers, Fellow Solar Enthusiasts,

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Sun Is The Future (www.sunisthefuture.net) is very pleased to be able to share this interview of M. Toby D. Couture with our readers/viewers. We can learn much from this astute scholar of advanced renewable energy policy. His thorough examination of feed-in tariffs and overall renewable energy policy analysis are extremely insightful. We need more analysts such as M. Couture to guide us during our earthly transition toward the Renewable Energy Future. I am particularly optimistic with the “prosumer” concept mentioned in this video. I also liked his analogy of utility companies being equivalent to banks of financial services, becoming more of an intermediary between the electricity suppliers (from wide range of sources) and end-use customers. Finally, M. Couture reminds us the importance of encouraging environment to reduce risk for future growth potential of renewables. It is not often that during a conversation/interview of this duration (about 90 minutes) that I would be impressed with every point he’s made in his analysis. From his global perspective, we’ve come to appreciate the strength, weakness, and the reason behind various policies in different parts of the world. One cannot help but arrive at a sense of hope and optimism for our renewable energy future, if sufficient finance and policy are correctly in place as the motive force. Without further ado, I give you Toby D. Couture, below:
Besides being a Fulbright Scholar (2008-2009), Toby D. Couture had also received Contemporary Achievement Award from Mount Allison University (2012), Canadian SSHRC Scholarship, Baxter & Alma Ricard Foundation Scholarship, and A.H.Johnson Philosophy Award, you will find out more about his background, below:

 

Among his credentials:
1. Energy Analyst of Conservation Council of NB (2006-2007)
2. Energy & Financial markets Analyst of NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) (2008-2009)
3. Founder and Director of Energy Analysis of E3 Analytics (2009-2012)
4. Director of Renewable Energy at IFOK (2012-present)
5. Founder & Director of Renewable Energy (2014)

His Educational Background:
1. BA w/Distinction, Honours in Philosophy, Env. Policy & some Economics, from Mount Allison University
2. MA w/Distinction in Energy & Environmental Policy from Universite de Moncton
3. Studies in Renewable Energy Finance, Post-Master’s in Renewable Energy from Ecole des Mines de Paris, Sophia Antipolis
4. MSc w/Merit, in Financial & Commercial Regulation from London School of Economics and Political Science

Besides being an excellent speaker, M. Couture has also demonstrated, through his publications and reports, his impressive understanding of the integration of financial, political, and regulatory landscape of renewable energy. His publications are listed below:
1. The Rise and Fall of Oil (2011)
2. Analytical Brief on FITs vs. Auctions (2010)
3. Analytical Brief on Spain’s Solar PV Boom and Bust (2011)
4. Feed-in Tariffs: Arguments and Counterarguments (2010)
5. The Lesson From Spain (2013)

6. A Policymaker’s Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design (2010)

Toby D. Couture now works at E3Analytics to help both private and public sector clients to navigate challenges in transitioning into an abundant, dispersed, and renewable energy resources.

To find out more about Toby Couture, his writings, and/or his ongoing projects, please visit: http://www.e3analytics.eu

Related articles:

1. Learning From Ed Regan & Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan About FIT (Feed-In-Tariff)

2.Further Updates To FIT (feed-In-Tariff) Worldwide

3.Incentive For Solar (15)-Feed-In-Tariff-US

4.Aussie’s Transition Into The Renewable Energy Age

5.Australian State Feed-In-Tariff

6.China Installed The Most Solar in 2013! China May Possibly Become The Cleanest Country On Planet Earth!

7.Why Should Utility Companies Consider Working With FIT (Feed-In-Tariff)?

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
Any of your questions/comments/suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com
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News Update on Feed-In-Tariffs

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers, (Please click on red links below),

Solar Wind Power image (credit: Todd Spink, wind farm near Montfort, Wisconsin) NREL

Once again, our friend from the wind persuasion, Paul Gipe & ILSR-John Farrell are keeping us abreast of Feed-In-Tariffs

News on Feed-in Tariffs

April 9, 2014,   by Craig Morris: Even when the foreign press reports on the correct numbers, a lot of the terms can still be slightly misleading. Today, we focus on a report at Reuters to help the international audience understand the issues.

April 4, 2014,   by Linda Archibald: The man who initiated the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) concept says Malaysia should increase the quota for renewable energy (RE) for its own FiT programme to create enough mass to face potential roadblocks ahead.

April 4, 2014,The Strategy makes clear DECC want this market to grow over the next few years, so it will be key to change the feed-in tariff reduction triggers and the upper tariff band to enable this. We can fix the barriers, but the policy framework must allow the growth we all want to see.

April 4, 2014,The use of the fixed feed‐in systems that have so far been successful in minimizing financing costs is prohibited from January 2015 for all but small installations. This shift to a “market premium” is likely to increase financing costs and might have negative effects on the efficiency of short‐term markets and effectiveness of forward markets.

April 3, 2014,   by Craig Morris: While the German government does not specifically plan to change the design of feed-in tariffs for PV this year, the application of the renewables surcharge to solar power directly consumed does change things considerably.

April 3, 2014,   by John Parnel: End-market demand was said to have been driven by Japan and the UK, which combined accounted for more than one-third of demand globally as well as setting new quarterly records for PV deployed.

March 28, 2014,   by Paul Gipe: In a potentially far-reaching decision, the European Commission has decided that the French system of feed-in tariffs for wind energy on land is not excluded under prohibitions against “state aid,” and is therefore permitted under European Union (EU) regulations. [more]

March 28, 2014,Three German federal states have reached a deal with German Economics and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) whereby only part of the feed-in tariff surcharge will be applied to new solar photovoltaic systems which supply electricity for the system owner’s use.

March 28, 2014,   by Craig Morris: Yesterday, Brussels approved French feed-in tariffs for wind but said it would investigate industry exemptions. In related news, a draft of the latest energy policy proposals leaked earlier this month probably provides so many backdoors for feed-in tariffs as to make the policy viable going forward.

News on Nuclear & Renewable Energy Policy

April 7, 2014,   by Andrew Dewitt: Japan’s energy policy regime appears dangerously adrift in the context of accelerating climate change. The core problem is agency. On the one hand, Japanese PM Abe Shinzo and the nuclear village appear obsessed with nuclear power restarts and 20th century paradigms of the power economy.

March 31, 2014,   by Craig Morris: On Friday, German power provider Eon confirmed that it will shut down a nuclear plant ahead of schedule. The premature discontinuation of lignite excavation also announced that day, however, is a governmental decision, albeit one the firm may have been about to make itself.

March 27, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Natural gas in storage in the US continued its decline in the most recent update from the US Energy Information Agency. (Why doesn’t Canada publish this type of data?) The ongoing cold winter reduced the gas in storage to 896 Bcf. This compares with the 5 year average of 1822 Bcf, a reduction of 51%. Gas in storage dropped in the week ended Mar 21 by 57 Bcf. Last year in the same week gas in storage was pretty much the same as the week before.

March 26, 2014,   by Bernard Chabot: But as his Figure 1 and, in particular, Figure 3 show, the boom in nuclear mainly took place in the 1970s. Growth continued in the 80s, but began stagnating at the end of the 90s, and has taken a dive since Fukushima.

March 24, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Areas with periodic droughts, like California, Australia, and even the US and Canadian west (remember the dust bowl) need to preserve their rivers and aquifers, or face severe economic consequences. In Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan are especially vulnerable to drought. And these two province rely primarily on thermal electricity generation.

March 23, 2014,   by Dave Toke: The Hinkley C nuclear power plant deal that gives the nuclear developers a £92.50 per MWh premium price for 35 years will give nuclear power a clear competitive advantage over solar pv in what will be a growing electricity for motor vehicles market.

March 20, 2014,   by Chisaki Watanabe: Japan added 7,044 megawatts of clean energy capacity since it began an incentive program in July 2012 through the end of last year.

March 19, 2014,   by Craig Morris: In any normal situation, such hard facts would simply be reported – it’s not like there’s no way to say “carbon emissions are slightly down year-over-year” in German.

March 18, 2014,A majority of respondents continue to oppose bringing idle nuclear reactors back online, despite moves by the Abe administration to allow restarts as soon as this summer, according to an Asahi Shimbun poll.

March 17, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Some have forecast that the fracking boom may be close to running it’s course. The depletion rates for fracked gas are very high – that is, the well stops producing very quickly. We may not have the surpluses we think we do. But we can make huge surpluses without fracking if we choose to.

News on Wind Energy

April 3, 2014,   by David Suzuki: I think windmills are beautiful. They harness the wind’s power to supply us with heat and light. They provide local jobs. They help clean air and reduce climate change.

March 30, 2014,   by Karl-Friedrich LenzDaniel Wetzel at WELT reports on a new nationwide anti-wind organization recently founded in Germany. The name of the new lobby group is “Vernunftkraft” (reason power). I am not linking to them, but I think that’s an interesting name.

March 24, 2014,   by Ketan Joshi: Recently, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) released a comprehensive position statement on the curiously invulnerable issue of ‘wind turbine syndrome’. One phrase from the statement caught my eye, because it goes slightly further than other institutions (like the Victorian Department of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council, or New South Wales Health), in that it mentions the impact of misinformation:

March 19, 2014,   by Sarah Taylor: A proposed wind turbine installation near Camp Perry in Northwestern Ohio has recently been halted (see article) by environmental groups that turn out to have connections to the oil, gas and tourism industries.

March 17, 2014,The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity. The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause heal

News on Community Power

March 31, 2014,   by Jonathan Migneault: Bob Jeffery, vice-president of the SUN Co-operative board, said the group has made an application with the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program, which offers small green-power generators a chance to sell power to the provincial grid at a guaranteed rate.

March 24, 2014,   by Mark Pengilly: SB 1520, which passed the Oregon House and Senate with bipartisan support, has been signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber. The bill allows renewable energy cooperative corporations to be created and capitalized without the requirement of securities registration.

March 19, 2014,   by Craig Morris: The switch from state-run water services to the private sector made the public aware of the difference between the two options, but the possibility of energy democracy is poorly understood outside Germany even among proponents of renewables. Do citizens have the right to make their own energy? Should such a right be made law explicitly?

News on Household-Size (Small) Wind Turbines

April 7, 2014,   by Mike Barnard: Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) continue to get attention, press and R&D funding. Antagonists of mainstream wind generation continually point at them as if they were a superior technology. People perpetually re-invent them and believe that they have found something new and exciting. However, they are undeserving of any significant attention, are an inferior technology and definitely aren’t new. Outside of a couple of niches, they are more of a distraction from deployment of effective utility-scale, horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) than anything else.

March 24, 2014,The world market for small wind has continued to grow: As of the end of 2012, a cumulative total of at least 806’000 small wind turbines were installed all over the world. This is an increase of 10 % compared with the previous year, when 730’000 units were registered.


This feed-in tariff news update is made in cooperation with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The views expressed are those of Paul Gipe and not necessarily of ILSR


~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments/suggestions/questions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

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How Does Community Solar Work?

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Since our Aug. 1, 2013 post, there’s been quite a few people asking questions about some basic mechanics in how Community Solar Garden works. I’d like to direct you to the page on Start A Community Solar Garden/Farm under the Information section at www.sunisthefuture.net. I would also like to share another video clip that will help with this explanation, below.


Our research and interviews suggest that CEC (Clean Energy Collective)‘s community solar model leverages economies of scale, along with fully maintained array for maximum power production, to deliver  very low price for renewable energy. This would allow consumers/purchasers to bypass the research, construction, maintenance, and ongoing repair of building a costly system of their own. It would also allow renters and owners of poorly sighted properties for solar to participate.

 

This is why community solar (gardens/farms) is important in spreading the solar energy use (Sources: NREL, DOE, IREC, HUD)

Furthermore, as long as they stay within the region serviced by the same utility company, there is the flexibility of having their bill credits move with them. If purchasers need to move out of the region, they may sell their panels any time.

 

I  found  that CEC also had been partnering with SunFarm to establish Vermont’s first community-owned solar garden at Putney, VT, the Putney Community Solar Array (or SunFarm Community Solar), a 147 kW & 588-panel photovoltaic system servicing Green Mountain Power (GMP) utility customers. Solar panel owners in the Putney Community Solar Array will receive all available rebates and tax incentives, as if the system were located on their roof, and will be credited for the power their panels produced on their monthly GMP electric bills. Each panel in the Putney Community Solar Array costs $813 and is expected to pay for itself in about 10-12 years; but owners of the panels will be able to continue receiving power from these solar panels for as long as 50 years or more. To date, over half of the array have been reserved and each of the panel owners will see a power credit on their utility bill as soon as the array goes online this month (August of 2013).

More information on the Putney Community Solar Array:  www.VTSolarGardens.com , email: info@VTSolarGardens.com, or (802) 536-4471.

For more information on Clean Energy Collective: www.easycleanenergy.com or (800)-646-0323.

The future looks bright for solar energy as more and more of these community solar gardens will be springing up throughout our planet earth.  What are you/we waiting for? Let’s start planting our community solar gardens!

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments and suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net

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