The latest report from the Energy Information Administration estimates that the nation’s total coal consumption will fall by nearly one-quarter this year, and coal plants are expected to provide just 19 percent of the nationâ€™s electricity, dropping for the first time below both nuclear power and renewable power, a category that includes wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal, and biomass. It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nationâ€™s electricity. And it comes despite the federal government’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants. Those efforts, however, failed to halt the powerful economic forces that have led electric utilities to retire hundreds of aging coal plants since 2010 and run their remaining plants less frequently. The cost of building large wind farms has declined more than 40 percent in that time, while solar costs have dropped more than 80 percent.
PacifiCorp is preparing a large solicitation for wind, solar, and energy storage developers in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Last year PacifiCorp finalized an integrated resource plan (IRP) that for the first time envisions it relying on large amounts of wind farms and solar backed by energy storage to meet its long-range energy needs. Now the utility is preparing a solicitation for projects to meet that planâ€™s needs through 2024. PacifiCorpâ€™s IRP preferred portfolio includes 1,823 megawatts of new solar resources co-located with 595 megawatts of new battery energy storage system capacity, and 1,920 megawatts of new wind resources â€” all by the end of 2023. PacifiCorpâ€™s IRP identifies Wyoming as the likely site of most of its new wind power and Utah as the target for the largest portion of its solar development, followed by Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington. Utah and Oregon regulators must approve the IRP before itâ€™s ready to go out to bid.
Scientists in Sweden are stepping up in the global race to efficiently store renewable energy with an all-organic proton battery whose capabilities surprised even the researchers. Among them, the battery can be recharged directly from a solar cell within seconds, and can withstand temperatures of up to -24 degrees Celsius without losing capacity. The path to market remains long, but easier disposal compared to the hazardous-waste disposal challenges surrounding lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries could also provide a competitive advantage in the rapidly expanding energy-storage market, analysts say. Globally, energy storage is projected to grow to $546 billion in annual revenue and 3,046 GWh in annual deployments by 2035.
The U.S. Department of the Interior this Monday approved the largest solar installation in U.S. history, giving the green light to a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiaryâ€™s 690-MW project just north of Las Vegas. When finished, NV Energyâ€™s estimated $1-billion Gemini Solar Project is set to become the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world, spanning some 7,100 acres of federal land and generating enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the region. The project also is slated to include a large, 380-MW battery storage system capable of holding solar power generated during the day for deployment in early evenings, when demand peaks. The Interior Department said the project is slated to generate more than $3 million in annual revenue for the U.S. Treasury. Some scientists have warned that disruptions during Geminiâ€™s construction could imperil the Mojave desert tortoise, a reptile that is protected as a â€śthreatenedâ€ť animal under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved the Camino Solar Project in Kern County. Aurora Solar LLC has been approved to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 44-MW photovoltaic solar facility on 233 acres of public lands. This will also include energy battery storage.
Strata Solar has completed pre-construction development of Ventura Energy Storage, a 100-MW/400-MWh battery energy storage system in unincorporated Ventura County. The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the 20-year PPA in December 2019. The project is helping Southern California to move away from the Aliso Natural Gas Storage facility and coastal power plants without compromising reliability. Developed on a brownfield site in a private industrial park, the Ventura Energy Storage project is sited away from residences and in close proximity to a critical transmission line.
The San Diego Unified Port District is seeking proposals from qualified firms to provide microgrid infrastructure at its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. The microgrid is being funded with a $4.9 million grant from the California Energy Commission and $4.4 million in matching funds. The RFP calls for installation of a 700-kW/2,500-kWh lithium ion battery energy storage system and microgrid controller, among other elements. The winning contractor also will coordinate with a solar contractor that will be installing a solar photovoltaic array on a warehouse at the terminal, which will be interconnected with the storage project.