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Electrek green energy brief: 1GW Huawei solar plant largest in world(?), why utilities have already lost, and more


Is this 1GW array actually the largest in the world? – Recently, I’ve read of an Indian and a Chinese solar farm being proclaimed as the world’s largest. Now – I’ve got a 1GW in China saying it is the largest single solar plant in the world. My first thoughts move toward how to optimize operations and management – a plant of this size would definitely benefit from a robotic cleaning service. The approximately 300,000 individual solar panels are monitored remotely (and wirelessly) in groups of about 30-33 panels – this will help engineers focus their troubleshooting. I wouldn’t be surprised if each one of those hundreds of rows you see in the above image was a batch of 30-33.

Why Utilities have already lost the “War on Net Metering” – Your electricity bills are in a state of sped up evolution because a new predator, solar freaking power, has come into a formerly calm environment, a monopolized environment, and it is taking pieces of flesh with ease. The utilities will protect their shareholders – and the utilities have been doing well for many decades, but the technology seems to be reaching a point that the politicians can no longer be paid enough. For the next couple of years, while the utilities lose control of these price wars, you’ll see everything done to limit the value of your electricity generation – and you’ll react. And so will the utility. And that’s how it works.

Greenfield Energy installs 20MW/80MWh battery storage project in under four months – Installation speed is becoming a headline grabber (see next link competing with this project) with battery based energy storage installations. This system was built to overcome projected shortfalls after the ground broke open and natural gas gushed at Aliso Canyon – and, as the headline notes, it very quickly moved from thoughts to integrated into the grid. Deployment time matters to finance people – because during installation no money is being made, but cash has been spent. Four months from investment to revenue generation will motivate capital.

Tesla says they brought the same sized plant online, in a shorter time frame (94 days to be precise) – time-lapse below – As both of these projects were pieces of the same overall project to react to Aliso, I am not surprised they came online in a similar and short time frame. I’m really glad to see this type of volume hitting the grid so quickly.

Miami spending $100M on flood management – Remember when we had the word of the day, ‘externality’ – a cost of something that isn’t represented in the price? Well – $100M to deal with flooding as a result of sea levels rising is an externality. This is what a carbon tax will help you deal with – either a. as a way to raise money to pay for, or – hopefully – b. as a motivator for you to change so this doesn’t happen again. Those big buy-one-get-one-free drinks on South Beach are going up a couple of bucks.

36GW of natural gas coming online in USA in 2017-2018 – After wobbling between five and ten GW a year, 2017-18 will see massive natural gas roll outs – most of this will be replacing retiring coal plants. Solar power will install around 30GW worth in those two years (with the natural gas-producing two to three times as much electricity per GW – capacity factor). Solar will keep growing though – and its price of fuel will be fixed at $0. Gas isn’t going anywhere just yet though, its scale is huge.

Power and utility megaprojects run 35% over budget on average – The reason I’m posting this article: “Investment in power sector infrastructure to be near US$20t by 2040.” $20t is a lot of money – $833B/year for the next couple of decades. A lot of that will be solar power – trillions and trillions of it.

D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments acquire 20MW PV plant from Coronal Energy – This is just a regular development project moving from an early stage developer to a late state developer, but I thought to show it so we get a chance to see it. Coronal Energy found a place where they thought the mix between electricity pricing, electric utilities buying green energy, land pricing and construction would lead toward a return on investment that an investor would buy. Then Coronal did engineering, filed for permits, got agreements with the local power companies to buy the electricity and found multiple types of investors to own the project. ::all following numbers are guesses – I’m not associated with project: A 20MW project will probably be worth $1.30-1.50/W (about $26-30M). One bank – US Bankcorp is participating as the tax equity partner – giving cash (around $12-15M) to the project in exchange for the rights to use the Investment Tax Credit (30% of project value) and Depreciation (about another 30-33%). Another bank – CIT – is loaning DE Shaw the cash to build (probably the other $13-15M). Construction starts soon!

Honduras is first non-island nation to break 10% solar electricity – Heck yeah! Central America has a couple of renewable all-stars, Costa Rica aiming for 100% renewable electricity and transportation and now Honduras breaking 10% solar.

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