Solar News Roundup - 11/20/2018

By Sushma Raj
20 November 2018
Solar News Roundup

It's hard to keep up with the latest in clean energy. That's why we're starting a new blog series, Solar News Roundup, to present the most important things for you to know.

Here's 5 solar and clean-tech highlights for your week...

 


Home Solar

Customers Begin Looking to Third Party Providers for EV, Rooftop Solar

A recent statement from Cogent Reports on the quarterly analysis of its utility survey database says that consumers are beginning to no longer see utilities as their preferred rooftop solar and distributed service providers. Market Strategies International-Morpace (MSI-M) conducted the Cogent analysis by surveying over 52,000 residential customers across 132 utilities.

The analysis shows, since 2017, the customer demand for technologies like solar power and electric vehicle (EV) charging has more than doubled.

But, customer preference for utilities as solar providers has decreased from 68% in 2017 to 47% in the third quarter in this year. The survey also shows a 66% increase in the customer preference of third-party providers for EV charging offerings.

“Utilities are on the verge of one of the greatest marketing and revenue opportunities they have ever had. If they want to capture significant EV charging and solar power market share, utilities need to quickly build and defend their brands as trusted providers of new energy technologies.”

Chris Oberle, Senior Vice President at Market Strategies International-Morpace

This research shows that customers with low trust in their utility have a very high preference for third-party providers, while the utilities with the strongest preference tend to have higher Brand Trust scores as well as strong support for being trusted clean energy providers.

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Battery Storage

EDF signs two PPAs for a solar-plus-storage project with California Community groups 

EDF Renewables North America recently signed two long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with two of California’s Community Choice Aggregators (CCA) to make significant contributions to grid stability and utility-scale storage capacity for the state.

As part of a 20-year agreement with Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) and Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), the Big Beau solar plus storage project developed by EDF at California’s Kern County will provide 128 MW of solar capacity with 40 MW of storage.

MBCP will purchase 45% of Big Beau’s output whereas SVCE will purchase 55%.

“We are excited to bring online the largest California solar plus storage project by CCAs to date. Solar development has been a hallmark of California’s renewable energy boom and with the storage component, we can realize the full potential of the solar generation.”

- Tom Habashi, CEO of MBCP

Girish Balachandran, CEO of SVCE added, “We are delivering on our commitment to our customers to provide reliable, renewable energy that will help us reach our decarbonization goals.”

The joint procurement effort between SVCE and MBCP is appreciated by the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA), a trade group that represents the state’s community choice energy agencies, as it marks a significant achievement for the CCA movement in the Golden State.

Valerie Barros, Director of Renewables and Storage Product Development at EDF, expressed his appreciation for being selected by the two forward-thinking CCAs to supply affordable and in-state green energy to their customers. He also said the inclusion of storage provides 100% clean and partially dispatchable product, allowing the agencies to decrease the ‘duck curve’ risk.

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International Energy

Thailand Utility Plans 1 GW of Floating Solar

Besides ground-based solar farms and solar rooftops, Floating Photovoltaic power plants (FPV) are an emerging method to build new large-scale systems.

If existing hydropower is smartly hybridized with solar-plus-storage, there would be a drastic decrease in the installation period and capital costs.

Thailand aims to generate 6% of its total power i.e., 3000 MW from floating solar farms. The recent announcement by Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a state-run utility, is the result of prominent changes in the country’s renewable energy space.

Thepparat Theppitak, ESAT’s Deputy Governor, has announced at the ASEAN Solar + Storage Congress & Expo, held in Philippine’s Manila, the Utility’s plan to facilitate 1GW of hybrid floating solar-hydro projects. These solar projects are planned across eight dams throughout the country.  

The first two projects with a contracted capacity of 45MW (AC) at Sirindhorn Dam, located in the country’s northeast, are already in the development phase and are expected to come online in 2020. The second project with a capacity of 24MW (AC) at Ubol Ratana Dam is expected to come into commercial operation in 2023.

The government is also testing battery storage at the two big projects whose capacities, in order to regulate frequency and enhance system flexibility. Even though hydropower could balance a portion of the solar power generation, Theppitak said smooth generation can still be a challenge.

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Renewable Energy Market and Policy

216 Mayors Sign ‘Mayors  for Solar’ Letter

The ‘Mayors for Solar Energy’ letter from the Environment America Research & Policy Center has received a huge support from more than 200 U.S.

The letter embraces a collective vision for solar-powered communities by making solar energy as a key element of community energy plans.

216 mayors representing all 50 states have signed this updated letter calling for more deployment of solar power to promote environmental and economic benefits. The letter said that accelerating the growth will reduce pollution and aims to revitalize the communities by creating jobs and keeping energy dollars with local economies.

Expanding solar power can also help businesses and residents to benefit from lower energy costs while having more local control of energy, which improves community resilience.

Since the release of the original letter in December 2017, the number of signatories has more than tripled.

 announced,

“Mayors across the country are rising to the challenge—thinking bigger, acting smarter, and tapping the sun for more power. Americans can look to local governments to lead the country’s transition to clean energy.”

- Emma Searson, Environment America

The updated letter includes dozens of signers from northern communities that experience short and cold winter days, which helps to demystify a popular misconception of solar — that it’s only for consistently sunny southern cities.

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Clean Technology

A Rooftop Device That Generates Solar Power and Cools Buildings

Stanford Researchers are combining technologies from the sun and outter space to develop a device that can produces electricity and cooling.

We all have heard of rooftop arrays that can convert sunlight into electricity. However, Shanhui Fan, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, has developed a rooftop device that could have a dual purpose—generating electricity and cooling buildings.

“We’ve built the first device that one day could make energy and save energy, in the same place and at the same time, by controlling two very different properties of light.”

- Shanhui Fan, Stanford University

Zhen Chen, the first author of the study, further explains the distinct properties of the Sun and Space.

“It is widely recognized that the sun is a perfect heat source nature offers human beings on Earth. It is less widely recognized that nature also offers human beings outer space as a perfect heat sink.”

- Zhen Chen, Stanford University

The rooftop device consists of two layers:

  1. The outer layer, that is made of semiconductor materials, is exposed to the sun and works same as current rooftop solar panels by converting light into electricity.
  2. The bottom layer works on the process of radiative cooling and is more innovative as it radiates heat away from the roof into space.
The researchers have mounted their device, a prototype about the diameter of a pie plate, on a rooftop of a Stanford building. Upon comparing the ambient air on the rooftop with the temperatures of both the layers, the team has noted that the sun-facing top layer that is absorbing sunlight is hotter. On the other hand, the bottom layer is significantly cooler than the ambient air temperature.

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