Tag Archives: PV

Solar Shines Bright
 As California Smashes
 Generation Record

California notched another first last year—becoming the first state in the nation to generate more than 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar according to data released last month by DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

All told, EIA said, the state’s utility-scale solar units (defined as those being 1 megawatt or larger) generated a record 9.9 million megawatt-hours (mwh) of electricity in 2014, a whopping 6.1 million mwh increase over 2013. The sharp uptick in output was due largely to the completion and entry into commercial operation of four large facilities—two 550 MW plants (Topaz and Desert Sunlight), the 377 MW Ivanpah unit and the 250 MW Genesis facility. Overall, California added almost 1,900 MW of utility-scale solar to the grid in 2014, bringing the Golden State’s total to 5,400 MW.

And barring the unforeseen, the generation records will keep falling for the next several years.

Continue reading Solar Shines Bright
 As California Smashes
 Generation Record

DOE Loan Office
 Played Pivotal Role
 Launching Utility PV

What a difference a few years can make: In 2008 there were 22 megawatts of utility-scale solar photovoltaic generating capacity in the U.S., today that number has jumped to more than 8,100 MW—and more is on the way.

There are a number of reasons behind this growth—including significant declines in PV module prices and the long-term enactment in 2006 of an investment tax credit for solar installations—but perhaps most important was the financing push provided by the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. Yes, that is the same office bashed repeatedly by Republicans in Congress and the conservative media for gross mismanagement and “crony capitalism” (whatever that really means).

But the reality is, the loan office works, and works well.


Continue reading DOE Loan Office
 Played Pivotal Role
 Launching Utility PV

LBNL: Americans Willing
 To Pay Major Premium
 For Solar PV Systems


In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown that American homebuyers are willing to shell out a significant premium for solar PV-equipped homes. In other words, solar sells and sells big.

The study, with the mind-numbing title Selling Into The Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes, looked at home sales from 2002-2013 and matched PV and non-PV homes by size, location and several other variables. All told the analysis compared sales information from almost 23,000 homes, 18,871 without PV and 3,951 with PV, spread across eight states (mainly in California, but also including Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina).

What the authors found was eye-opening: “Home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for a property with PV across a variety of states, housing and PV markets, and home types.” And the premium is significant, the authors added, running to about $15,000 for an average-sized 3.6 kilowatt-PV system.

Another key finding, the authors said, is that the premium exists regardless of whether the PV system is incorporated into a newly constructed house or retrofitted onto an existing home. In fact, their research shows that the premium was actually slightly higher for PV systems installed on existing homes than it was for PV units incorporated into new construction (see figure below). Do-it-yourselfers take note, PV might be the home retrofit project that actually pays for itself.


Two other interesting findings highlighted by the authors were:

  • The PV premiums were consistent throughout the 11-year period of the study, even though the housing market during those years changed significantly, from the boom years of the early-to-mid 2000s, to the recession crash of the late 2000s, and then on to the slow recovery of the early 2010s.
  • The PV premium is not a California-specific phenomenon, but rather was found in all eight states; a finding that “should give stakeholders outside of California greater confidence that PV adds value to homes in their markets.”

Previous studies had indicated that such PV premiums existed, the authors continued, but the new study is a better indicator because of the size of the dataset, almost 4,000 PV-equipped homes, its lengthy time frame and broad geographic scope.

One area that bears further investigation, the authors said, is whether the PV premium exists for third-party owned systems. The current research only looked at homeowner-owned units, they said, but since solar PV leasing is becoming such a large part of the market, studying that segment of the industry would be valuable as well.

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, can be found here.

–Dennis Wamsted

Load Growth Woes
 Likely Keeping Execs
 Up At Night

It is enough to make utility executives wake up in a cold sweat each and every night: Growth in electricity demand has essentially flatlined and it shows no signs of returning. EIA’s latest forecast (see chart below) showing growth at about 1 percent annually through 2040 is worrisome enough. But it may be about to get even worse.

EIAElectricForecastIn a little-noticed report released earlier this month, Navigant Research projected that residential utility customers will invest “more than $625 billion cumulatively, in DER [distributed energy resources] from 2014 through 2023.’’ Now, while that is a global total, it is still a lot of money in anybody’s book.

Continue reading Load Growth Woes
 Likely Keeping Execs
 Up At Night

Green Mountain Power Embraces The Future

It’s a small project, but Green Mountain Power’s new $10 million solar/storage project in Rutland, VT, could have a big impact—both in Vermont and throughout the electric utility industry.

The project initially was designed as a simple 2 MW PV farm, and is GMPstill called the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, but it has morphed into much more than that. The facility now includes 4 MW of battery storage and islanding capability, and is being touted by the Energy Department as the first of what it hopes will be many “resilient microgrid projects’’ nationwide designed to help utilities and consumers alike cope with the probability of more, and more severe storms and other grid disruptions in the years ahead.
Continue reading Green Mountain Power Embraces The Future