Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Today in EGEB, U.S. senators seek a ban on Huawei solar generators. A massive solar project breaks ground in Australia. And a Massachusetts state law threatens to stall the state’s progress in offshore wind.

A bipartisan group of U.S senators is seeking to block China-based Huawei from selling its solar inverters in the country, as a long-running cybersecurity fight has spilled into the solar realm.

The 11 U.S. senators sent a letter on Monday to the Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security noting that “Congress recently acted to block Huawei from our telecommunications equipment market due to concerns with the company’s links to China’s intelligence services. We urge similar action to protect critical U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure.”

Republican Senators John Cornyn, Richard Burr, James Risch, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney signed the letter, as did Democratic Senators Mark Warner, Dianne Feinstein and Independent Angus King.

The letter expresses concerns about possible cyberattacks on American photovoltaic systems. The senators are asking the government to “consider a ban on the use of Huawei inverters in the United States.”

This comes as the U.S.-Huawei battle plays out in public at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. sent a delegation to the event to continue to characterize the company as presenting a cybersecurity risk. Huawei continues to deny all accusations.

Solar Down Under

Developers in Australia have broken ground on a huge new solar/storage project in Queensland. The project will have a 1.5 GW capacity and 500 MWh of battery storage that will be added at a later date, pv magazine Australia reports.

This appears to be the first project for the developer, Sunshine Energy. The developer’s website has a few more details about the solar farm, which will be developed in three 500MW stages. It will connect to the 275 kV high voltage national distribution network in Queensland.

Sunshine Energy’s website also has a number of maps detailing the installation. For now, it’s the largest solar development under construction in Australia. The project should be able to power 300,000 homes. The solar/storage project may cost $3.5 billion in total.

The developer says after 6-8 months to do the initial site preparation, it could take up to two years to complete the construction. There’s also a possibility of expanding the capacity to 2GW within three years.

Offshore Obstacle

As a region, New England is the U.S. early leader in offshore wind, and Massachusetts plays a key role in that lead. But a 2016 law could limit the state’s own progress.

Offshore Wind Journal breaks down the conundrum, which has come to the forefront in the wake of a recent Rhode Island power supply contract. Massachusetts law “requires that each subsequent procurement result in a price lower than the one that precedes it.”

As the publication notes, Rhode Island just awarded a contract to National Grid and Ørsted US Offshore Wind “for 400 MW of energy to be delivered by the Revolution Wind windfarm. The project, located northeast of the Vineyard Wind project and 15 miles south of Rhode Island, has a levelised price of 7.4 cents per kilowatt hour.”

Massachusetts currently has a contract with Vineyard Wind for 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Rhode Island’s price is set nearly a full cent higher. So it’s hard to envision Massachusetts getting a better deal than what it has now. And that presents a clear issue for future projects.

Legislators could amend or remove the price cap. But it wouldn’t necessarily be a quick process, considering the often glacial speed of government.

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