Tag Archives: Distributed Generation

How California is Integrating Renewable Energy Without Blowing a Fuse

By Peter Mead, Government Technology

In California, mandated increases in sustainable energy generation are driving unprecedented technology innovations in energy balancing, rate reductions and new opportunities.

Beginning in 2002, the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) made a significant change in the function of energy production, transmission, distribution and consumption when it mandated that investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators must increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of total procurement by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030.

Having to integrate renewables such as solar and wind, with their inherent variability, into a system that hasn’t changed much since the Edison days has become a crucible for load balancing innovation, distribution efficiency and market design. And the form that “ever follows” is already beginning to shape a future of expanded opportunity in the energy market as it drives diversification, flexibility, profits and lower consumer prices.

Read full article from Government Technology

SDG&E microgrid uses solar, storage to avoid outage in small town

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

SDG&E has pulled off what it believes is the nation’s first example of a renewables-fueled microgrid being used to provide power for an entire town in a real-world scenario.

The utility used the Borrego Springs Microgrid on May 21st after the transmission line that usually feeds the community was damaged by lightning. SDG&E said its crews needed to replace or repair three transmission poles, which would usually require a 10-hour sustained outage.

Just before 9 a.m. on May 21, the utility “seamlessly” switched the Borrego Springs community over to microgrid power, and then switched it back nine hours later when maintenance was complete. The microgrid was predominantly fueled by the nearby 26 MW Borrego Solar facility (owned by NRG Energy), and the utility used distributed generation to “follow the load” and fill in power fluctuations from the solar facility. As of the completion of the demonstration project, the Borrego Springs microgrid consisted of two 1.8 MW diesel generators, a 1500 kWh (500 kW) battery at the substation, three smaller 50 kWh batteries, six 8 kWh home batteries, and 700 kW of solar, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

SDG&E said that using solar generation to power Borrego Springs was one of the primary goals of a $5 million California Energy Commission grant, making it one of the nation’s largest microgrids that can operate solely on renewable energy.

Read full article from Utility Dive

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Forget Desert Solar Farms: We Can Get More Than Enough Solar Energy From Cities

By Adele Peters, Fast Co.Exist

Solar plants keep getting bigger: The new Topaz Solar Farm, in a remote part of southern California, sprawls over an area about a third of the size of Manhattan. In February, another solar farm of roughly the same size—with 9 million solar panels—opened in the Mojave Desert. Later this year, an even larger project will open in Antelope Valley.

Together, the three new projects will provide enough power for over half a million homes. But there’s a downside: They’re all in former open spaces that once provided habitat for wildlife, and because they’re in remote areas, some of the energy they produce gets lost along the way to consumers.

A new study in Nature Climate Change says that plants like these actually aren’t necessary: We can get more than enough solar power by building in cities instead. The study looks at California, because the state is aggressively increasing renewable energy, and finds that by using land that’s already developed, like rooftops and parking lots, solar power could provide the state with three to five times as much energy as it uses.

The study maps out developed areas that are best suited for either photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar power (CSP); California has an area about the size of Massachusetts that is well-suited for PV panels, and an area about the size of Delaware that is a good match for CSP. If these spaces were fully plastered with solar tech, they could provide over 20,000 terawatt-hours of power every year.

Read full article from Fast Company