Author Archives: Californiasolar Staff

Trump Administration Issues 30% Solar Panel Import Tariff

The White House announced that President Trump has issued a 30 percent year-one tariff on imported solarcells and modules.  Tariffs will decline over a four-year period. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariff in each of those four years, according to the U.S. Trade Representative fact sheet.

The USTR noted that China’s industrial planning “has included a focus on increasing Chinese capacity and production of solar cells and modules, using state incentives, subsidies, and tariffs to dominate the global supply chain. As a result of these state-directed initiatives, China’s share of global solar cell production skyrocketed from 7 percent in 2005 to 61 percent in 2012. China currently produces 60 percent of the world’s solar cells and 71 percent of solar modules, according to the fact sheet. Over this period, the U.S. solar manufacturing industry “almost disappeared,” the USTR stated, with 25 companies closing since 2012.

While the administration’s fact sheet centered on China, it is not the only country affected. Section 201 trade cases are intended to apply globally, and today’s fact sheet makes no mention of tariff exemptions for specific countries or for any companies. However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued a statement that he will engage in additional negotiations, which could potentially lead to tariff exclusions or changes for certain parties.

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How to Get Wyoming Wind to California, and Cut 80% of U.S. Carbon Emissions

Several miles south of Rawlins, Wyoming, on a cattle ranch east of the Continental Divide, construction crews have begun laying down roads and pads that could eventually underpin up to 1,000 wind turbines. Once complete, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project could generate around 12 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually, making it the nation’s largest wind farm. But how do you get that much wind power to where it’s actually needed?

The Denver-based company behind the project hopes to erect a series of steel transmission towers that would stretch a high-voltage direct-current transmission line 730 miles across the American West. It could carry as much as 3,000 megawatts of Wyoming wind power to the electricity markets of California, Nevada, and Arizona. With the right deals in place, the transmission line could deliver solar-generated electricity back as well, balancing Wyoming’s powerful late-afternoon winds with California’s bright daytime sun.

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This Clean Energy Home Loan Program Has Problems. California’s Trying to Fix Them

A decade after California became ground zero for what is now one of the country’s fastest-growing home loan programs, the state has passed unprecedented regulations to protect borrowers from deceptive financial practices. The program, property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, offers loans to help residential or commercial property owners pay for energy-efficient upgrades, such as solar panels, LED lighting and window insulation. The residential loans are typically around $25,000, and the terms are for up to 20 years. They are automatically paid back through the borrower’s property tax bill, making local governments responsible for collecting the payments.

The idea is that the energy savings generated from an upgrade would help property owners pay back the loan.  But in California, which accounts for most of the program’s growth and is home to the nation’s first PACE program in Berkeley, the government-supported financing model has increasingly come under fire from those who are concerned that homeowners are taking out loans they can’t afford on the advice of contractors eager to profit from the installation work.

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Solar + batteries prepping to take over 10GW of US natural gas peaker power plant market

Solar power and energy storage (batteries) have fallen in price enough that they’re now competing with the cost of natural gas peaker plants in specific markets. New analysis is suggesting 10GW of natural gas peaker plants are at risk through 2027 in the USA specifically.

Other, more aggressive suggestions don’t see a place for gas peaker plants after 2020 in the USA. It seems the age of the renewable energy plus energy storage power plant is upon us.

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SoCalGas planning an advanced energy model that includes wind, solar & storage

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced that it will partner with the University of California-Irvine’s  Advanced Power & Energy Program to design an “Advanced Energy Community” in an underserved neighborhood in Huntington Beach.  The community will be planned as a replicable model that optimizes a full spectrum of diverse energy options, including solar, wind, and renewable natural gas.  It will also consider the capability of storing wind- and solar-generated energy with power-to-gas technology.

SoCalGas is providing $150,000 in co-funding for the Huntington Beach project, which was proposed in response to a California Energy Commission Electric Program Investment Charge solicitation.

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50th U.S. city (Truckee) commits to 100% renewable energy

A total of 50 cities and towns across the United States have now committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. This week, the Truckee, California Town Council adopted a resolution to move to clean electricity town-wide by 2030, as well as all energy sources by 2050.

Such 100% clean energy commitments are already shaping the future of energy in communities across the country. This month, the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 campaign released a new report  showcasing 10 U.S. cities that have made ambitious commitments to be powered with 100% clean, renewable energy and the steps those communities are taking to achieve their goal.

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Aera Energy & GlassPoint To Build California’s Largest Solar Farm At Belridge Oilfield

Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, will partner with GlassPoint Solar to build the State’s largest solar energy project at the Belridge oilfield west of Bakersfield.  Belridge Solar will be comprised of an 850 MW (megawatt) solar thermal facility which will produce 12 million barrels of steam per year, in conjunction with a 26.5 MW solar PV facility that will generate electricity.

Announced on Wednesday, Aera Energy — a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil — will partner with GlassPoint Solar, the industry-leading supplier of solar energy for the global oil and gas industry, to build California’s largest solar energy project at the Belridge oilfield, operated by Aera Energy, located west of Bakersfield. The integrated solar farm will be a first of its kind project in the world to use solar steam as well as solar electricity to power oilfield operations while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.

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Renewable Energy Drives California Emissions Reductions

California’s 5% reduction in greenhouse gases in 2016 is almost entirely due to the replacement of fossil fuel generation with renewable energy.

It has become an article of faith by many proponents of the nuclear industry that the move to renewable energy has not resulted in significant greenhouse gas reductions. But as widely printed as this claim is, it is still incorrect. As PV magazine has reported before, increasing deployment of wind and solar has been driving lower use of natural gas, which represents that vast majority of fossil fuel use in the electricity sector. Additionally wet weather in 2016 meant very high levels of hydroelectric generation, together meaning that California was able to meet nearly a third of electricity demand with in-state renewables over the first nine months of the year. These trends have increased in 2017, given the extremely wet weather in the winter.

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California sanitation district to save US$14.7 million due to PV/storage installation

The Selma-Kingsburg-Fowler County Sanitation District (SKFCSD) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 8 to celebrate the start of construction on an integrated solar/battery storage system that will help power treatment facilities across 222 hectares of SKFCSD service territory.

Due to the integrated solar, battery storage, and other conservation technology upgrades across the district, SKFCSD will save US$14.7 million in energy and maintenance costs over the span of the programme.

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California’s big utilities to reach 50% renewable energy in 2020

When California’s political leadership pushed its 50% renewable energy mandate in 2015, there was some skepticism about whether or not such a target was feasible.

And while much of this was propaganda from nuclear and fossil fuel proponents, California was indeed breaking new ground. Only two states had more ambitious renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies at the time: Hawaii and Vermont.

However, in California’s 2017 RPS Annual Report issued yesterday it appears that the state will not only meet its 50% RPS target – it will pass that goal the way Usain Bolt used to pass competitors at the Olympics. According to the report California’s three large private utilities, which serve most of the state’s customers, will reach the 50% goal 10 years early.

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