Author Archives: Californiasolar Staff

There’s a Mind-Bending Amount of Solar in the US Pipeline

Nathaniel Bullard

At the end of 2021, the US had 1,144 gigawatts of utility-scale electricity generation capacity. That includes everything from 130-year-old hydro dams to brand-new wind farms and solar projects with batteries attached. It took over a century to install all of it, and today, companies want to build almost that much capacity, all over again. 

In its annual review of utility-scale solar, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed data from seven independent system operators and 35 utilities, which together represent about 85% of the nation’s electricity load, to see what’s awaiting connection. It found more than 1 terawatt of potential new power generation or storage capacity that has requested connection to transmission networks. To put that in perspective, the whole world hit 1 terawatt of installed solar capacity earlier this year

The Berkeley Lab data tells the story of US solar power — from its growth to its technological sophistication to its growing maturity as a sector. 

Firstly, most new power generation planned in the US is renewable. In 2014, the total of all resources in all combined interconnection queues was about 325 gigawatts, of which 14% was solar. Today, it is 1,450 gigawatts (including energy storage projects), 46% of which is solar.



Intersect Power closes US$3.1 billion financing to complete 2.2GW near-term portfolio, takes recent funding to US$6 billion

Jonathan Tourino Jacobo

Utility-scale renewables developer Intersect Power has secured US$3.1 billion in project financing to complete its 2.2GW near-term clean energy portfolio in the US.

The transactions cover construction financing, tax equity, operational letters of credit and portfolio level term debt with an aggregate of US$2.4 billion for new financing commitments and the allocation of US$675 million for the construction and operation of four solar projects with a capacity of 1.5GW of solar PV and a 1GWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

All four projects are expected to be operational in 2023, with two – Lumina I and Lumina II with 840MWp capacity – located in Texas, while the other two solar-plus-storage projects – Oberon I and Oberon II with 685MWp solar PV and 1GWh of BESS – in the Californian desert. Oberon I received construction approval from the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) earlier this year.


California needs to move on from net metering, advocates, industry and utility leaders say

Emma Penrod

“Here in California, we are in a period of relatively extreme rate inflation,” said Matt Baker, director of the Public Advocates Office for the State of California. Rates have increased some 50-80% in the San Diego region, and Baker said his office had determined that net metering was responsible for 15-25% of that increase. In some cases, he said, these increased rates have deterred California homeowners from taking steps such as installing heat pumps, which threatens the state’s overall climate goals.

“We can’t afford the increase in rates,” Baker said. “Our climate experiment is too important to crash on the shoals of high costs.”

Wright noted that Sunrun, too, is ready to move on from net metering by expanding their services from simply solar panel installation to include a variety of offerings, including charging stations for electric vehicles and home electrification, which should benefit the grid. But the current focus is storage, he said.

US Department of the Interior announces completion of 485MW California project on public land

Jonathan Tourino Jacobo

NextEra’s Energy’s 485MW solar PV co-located plant has reached full commercial operation in Riverside County, California, according to the US Department of the Interior (DOI).

The “Blythe Solar Power Project”, located on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), includes a 387MW battery energy storage system (BESS).

This is the latest solar-plus-storage project to start operations on public land in California, with EDF’s 475MW solar-plus-storage reaching full power operation and NextEra commissioning the 230MW battery portion of its Desert Sunlight project, both in August , while the BLM issued approval for the 500MW solar-plus-storage Oberon project that is expected to be operational in 2023.

Rising costs complicate California’s rooftop solar, onsite battery future

Garrett Hering

California’s bold ambition to fully decarbonize what is effectively the world’s fifth-largest economy before the middle of the century has become a defining mission for the state.

But concerns are spreading over how to keep California’s clean energy transition on track amid skyrocketing electricity rates, as reflected in the heated debate over reforming the state’s decades-old rooftop solar program, known as net energy metering. This is part of a broader discussion over the future of distributed energy in the semi-deregulated market.

“It’s our position that California … has done a lot right and has led the way in a whole bunch of areas and is a world leader, but we are really at a crossroads right now,” Matt Baker, director of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Public Advocates Office, said at a recent solar industry convention in Anaheim, Calif. “And unfortunately … [the policy] is not helping us now. We have outgrown it.”

Batteries, Community Spirit Help California Fight Heat Wave

Dire predictions of blackouts in California during a fearsome heat wave this month never came to pass, with technology – and a dose of community spirit – helping the creaking grid through its most testing period ever.

The mercury topped 110 Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) on consecutive days, as a thrumming heat dome parked itself over the western United States.

But the grid never failed, thanks in part to the state’s quietly acquired battery fleet.

Newsom signs California community solar act into law, orders CPUC to create workable program

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a proposed community solar program into law that will help low income communities benefit more from solar PV.

Signed as part of a sweeping package of legislation under the US$54 billion California Climate Commitment, the program – dubbed AB 2316 – was California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a proposed community solar program into law that will help low income communities benefit more from solar PV.

Signed as part of a sweeping package of legislation under the US$54 billion California Climate Commitment, the program – dubbed AB 2316 – was passed in California’s Senate at the start of this month, with Newsom given until 30 September to sign it into law.

AB 2316 directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create a community renewable energy program that prioritises access for renters, low-income households and those who cannot install on-site solar and storage.

Solar panels have come a long way. Recycling them has not


Mike De Socio

Over the past five years, it’s become more likely to see solar panels blanketing a field or shimmering on a rooftop near you. The industry grew by 33 percent each year on average over the last 10 years, with cumulative solar installations nearly doubling in the last five.

That growth will almost certainly accelerate thanks to a big boost in funding from the federal climate bill, which directs $30 billion toward renewable energy over the next decade.
But what will happen when these photovoltaic panels reach the end of their useful life, 25-30 years in the future? Interest in the panel-recycling question has grown alongside the rise in solar installations, but experts say the industry for solar panel collection and disassembly is still nascent and not evenly distributed across the U.S. And the options for reuse and refurbishment — the more sustainable of the circular economy strategies — are even less accessible.

Making solar panel recycling more commonplace will require a mix of technological advances, economic incentives and smart policies at the state and federal levels.

Solar Fee May Push Californians to Flee Grid, Sunrun Says

Brian Eckhouse

A potential charge to connect rooftop solar systems to California’s power grid risks spurring more state residents to want to leave it, says the head of America’s largest rooftop installer.

“That’s a perilous path,” Mary Powell, the chief executive officer of Sunrun, Inc. said of the possibility that state regulators impose a monthly connection charge as California works to reform its rooftop-incentive program. “You’re just encouraging more to defect. That’s not positive.”

California Wants 100% Electric Vehicles By 2035. Will Its Energy Grid Be Ready?

Frank Holmes

Many Californians right now are no doubt feeling the whipsaws of conflicting government policies. Not a month ago, they learned that the state will ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, mandating that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state must be electric vehicles (EVs).

Then, in a dizzying about-face, residents were asked not to charge their EVs to conserve energy as California’s electrical grid was pushed to the limit due to a punishing heatwave.