California farmers are planting solar panels as water supplies dry up
Los Angeles Times – July 31
In the San Joaquin Valley alone, farmers may need to take more than half a million acres out of production to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which will ultimately put restrictions on pumping. Converting farmland to solar farms could be critical to meeting California’s climate change targets, according to a new report from the Nature Conservancy. One takeaway from the report: California will need hundreds or maybe thousands of square miles of solar power production in the coming decades — and it would make sense to build one-third to one-half of that solar capacity on agricultural lands, mostly within the state. In part, that’s because the Central Valley is more ecologically degraded than California’s inland deserts, where bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and golden eagles still roam across largely intact wilderness. The biggest solar project being planned in the Central Valley is Westlands Solar Park, where construction of the first 670 megawatts is scheduled to begin in the next few months. The project could eventually grow to 2,700 megawatts across 20,000 acres. The solar project will be built on “drainage-impaired” farmlands served by Westlands Water District.
Solar ITC extension bills introduced in U.S House and Senate
Greentech Media – July 25
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., introduced legislation last Thursday that would extend the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for five years at its full 30 percent value. An extension has become the top priority for the U.S. solar industry, even if it faces a tough climb ahead of the 2020 presidential election. A prolongation of the ITC would fan the flames of investment in the solar market, forecast by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables to grow 25 percent this year to 13 gigawatts, driven by booming utility-scale installations. That would be the second-biggest year on record. But an extension would also scramble strategic plans within an industry that has been busy preparing for its main subsidy to start declining at the end of this year for all new projects, as part of a bipartisan deal agreed to in 2015.
Renewables move into second place among major generating sources
North American Windpower – July 30
Renewable energy sources – biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind – accounted for more than a fifth (20.3 percent) of net domestic electrical generation during the first five months of 2019, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA report, with data through May 31, reveals that solar and wind both showed continued growth. Solar, including small-scale solar photovoltaic systems, increased by 10.9 percent compared to the first five months of 2018 and accounted for 2.6 percent of the nation’s total net generation.
Santa Barbara gives green energy plan the green light
Santa Barbara Independent – July 24
What was first launched as a far-fetched environmental scheme 13 years ago, local governments buying and selling renewable energy to meet residents’ electrical needs, became a reality this week with the Santa Barbara City Council’s unanimous approval, matching a similar effort approved by the county supervisors last week. The cities of Goleta, Carpinteria, and Guadalupe are poised to do the same, all propelled by the climate crisis and assurances that “community choice” plans, as they are called, are economically viable. Council members cited increased local control, speed of implementation, and the option to invest in new micro-grid infrastructure that could enhance the “resiliency” of Southern California Edison’s outdated infrastructure.
Glendale utility pursues cleaner options
Solar Industry Magazine – July 30
Glendale Water & Power, a utility serving the City of Glendale in Los Angeles County, has received approval from its city council to move forward with a plan to repower the aging Grayson Power Plant with a combination of renewable energy resources, energy storage, and thermal generation. The plan includes a 75-megawatt, 300-megawatt-per-hour battery energy storage system; as much as 50 megawatts of distributed energy resources, including solar photovoltaic systems, energy efficiency, and demand response programs; and 93 megawatts of thermal generation from up to five internal combustion engines.
DOE announces $16M in funding for 14 tribal energy projects, including solar and storage
Utility Dive – July 25
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $16 million in funding for 14 tribal energy infrastructure projects. The projects add over 13 megawatts of capacity for 900 buildings, and will save approximately $7.5 million annually, according to Kevin Frost, Director of DOE’s Office of Indian Energy. Nine of the projects will involve new solar installations, while others involve energy efficiency, battery storage, and microgrids, among other technologies. Grant recipients include tribes in Alaska, Arizona, California, Montana, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
First Solar’s 150-MW PV project in Arizona to power Microsoft data centers
PV-Tech – July 31
First Solar’s 150-megawatt Sun Streams 2 PV project will power new energy-efficient data centers being built by Microsoft in both Goodyear and El Mirage, Arizona. Sun Streams 2, which is being developed and constructed by First Solar in Maricopa County, Arizona, will power the data centers through a 20-year PPA. Once operational in 2021, the Sun Streams 2 project will offset 190,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road annually and saving 356 million liters of water annually based on Arizona averages.