September 16, 2012 – Vol.17 No. 27
SEVEN DAYS OF SOLAR 9-9-12
Does anybody really know how much solar capacity the U.S. has?
According to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, which only tracks solar installations 1 megawatt and higher, Q2 2012 was a record setter.
The report, U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2012, finds that “U.S. solar achieved its second-best quarter in history, having installed 742 megawatts of solar power, and the best quarter on record for the utility market segment. Utility installations hit 477 megawatts in the second quarter, with eight states posting utility installations of 10 megawatts or greater: California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, and New Jersey. In total, the U.S. now has 5,700 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 940,000 households.”
There are approximately 115 million households in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census as of 2010, so there’s enough solar power from utility scale solar projects – that is 1 MW and up – to power less than one percent of U.S. households. Since projects under 1 MW, say perhaps, 999 kilowatts, aren’t included in this report, the U.S. installed solar capacity is much higher.
NPD SolarBuzz, in their latest Deal Tracker, says that 40 percent of photovoltaic solar projects currently underway are less than 500 kilowatts in size. Yet Solarbuzz, according to a pie-chart in that report, only considers solar projects 100 kW and up and, of that, only PV projects, not solar thermal, not concentrating solar thermal power, not thermal-electric hybrids or certainly not household solar systems, thermal or electric.
Bottom line? I’m guessing no one is really sure what the total U.S solar capacity is. It’s certainly much higher than these two reporting firms suggest.
U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2012 ($1995 - $3995)
During the week beginning September 9, 2012, this publication received news announcements regarding nearly 251 megawatts (MW) of solar projects completed 217 MW in the development pipeline.
--- First Solar has announced that the Agua Caliente solar project has achieved a generating capacity of 250 megawatts (MW) AC connected to the electrical grid. The project, which is under construction in Yuma County, Arizona., is currently the world’s largest operating photovoltaic (PV) power plant and will have a generating capacity of 290 MWAC when completed.
Initial construction work at the award-winning Agua Caliente site began in the fall of 2010 and solar module installation began in June of 2011 and commercial operation began just seven months later in January 2012 when it began generating 30 MW of clean electricity for the grid, and it surpassed 100 MW of grid-connected power this spring and 200 MW this summer. Construction of the project is expected to be complete on schedule in 2014.
--- The municipal water district that provides water, sewer, recycled water, fire protection, emergency medical services and park services to the unincorporated community of Ramona, California has commissioned a 530 kW peak solar energy installation. The installation was developed and financed by leading solar energy company Enfinity America Corporation, with the solar panels and EPC services provided by manufacturer Siliken, which was also co-developer of the project.
Located at Ramona's Santa Maria Wastewater Treatment Plant, the fixed-tilt solar project uses a total of 2,156 Siliken panels will be used to run the plant itself. The installation is scheduled to go on-stream by September 30, 2012.
--- Half a year after its completion, a seven-site solar array distributed throughout Breckenridge, Colorado, has proven to be a valuable asset to the town’s many residents and tourists. Martifer Solar USA, Inc., the national solar contractor responsible for the 460 kW system’s design and construction, reported that the arrays have been consistently performing at an average of 10 percent above expectations since their commissioning in January.
The system is expected to offset approximately one-tenth of the town’s total annual electricity consumption. The resulting taxpayer savings amount to nearly $1 million over 20 years.
The project was structured as a Power Purchase Agreement, in which Renewable Social Benefit Funds covered 100 percent of installation costs and is responsible for system maintenance. The agreement thus eliminated any use of public funds for upfront or ongoing expenses.
In the development pipeline.
--- SunPower Corp. has signed a power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for delivery of the 100 MW (AC) Henrietta Solar Project in Kings County, California. The project is expected to create approximately 200 jobs during construction and inject $72.7 million into the local economy.
PG&E estimates that the 100-megawatt project will provide the equivalent power required for approximately 36,000 average California homes. It is expected that construction will begin in 2015, with the plant beginning commercial operation by late 2016.
--- Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has modified an existing agreement with SunPower Corp. to incorporate six megawatts of its new C7 Tracker technology into a planned facility that will also include two megawatts of SunPower's T5 Solar Roof Tile technology. The SunPower C7 Tracker is a solar photovoltaic tracking system that concentrates the sun's power seven times and, when at scale, can deliver the lowest levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants.
The C7 Tracker installation for TEP will begin construction in January 2013, and is expected to be operational by December 2013.
This agreement modifies a previous agreement under which SunPower was contracted to deliver 11 megawatts of rooftop solar technology to TEP
--- Valos Solar Ventures has signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”) with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for its 20 MW SKIC Solar 1 site located near Bakersfield, California.
California Public Utility Commission approval for SKIC Solar 1 is expected in October, and construction is set to begin no later than August 2013. The project will begin selling power into the California market by April 2014, per the terms of the PPA.
Gehrlicher Solar America Corp. is slated to be the EPC contractor for the SKIC Solar 1 project. Valos signed a Joint Development Agreement with GSAC in July 2012.
--- First Solar has signed power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for 72 MW AC of solar electricity to be generated at two photovoltaic power plants that First Solar is developing in central California.
The 32 MW Lost Hills project in Kern County and the 40 MW Cuyama project in Santa Barbara County are expected to create up to 600 jobs at peak construction. Project construction could start in 2013 as soon as the development process is complete.
--- Arizona Public Service (APS) and McCarthy Building Cos. have started the permitting process for a new solar photovoltaic facility – the Hyder II Solar Power Plant – located in Hyder, Arizona.
APS selected McCarthy to engineer, procure the materials and construct the 14 MW facility. Construction on Hyder II is expected to begin in April, 2013. Commercial operation is expected to take place in late 2013.
The five-year AZ Sun program will create more than 2,000 Arizona construction jobs. With Hyder II, the program has 68 MW under development (Hyder II, 19 MW in Chino Valley, and 35 MW in Yuma). The program already has placed 50 MW online, two 17-MW plants in Gila Bend and a 16-MW plant in Hyder. Hyder II will sit adjacent to the existing Hyder plant.
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