TVA announces future generation planning by cancelling solar program


Business continuity is important if you’re going to keep the best talent in house. Business continuity is important if the banks are going to keep lines of credit open for local contractors. Local contractors need to learn to diversify across market lines to avoid well known state-level solar industry gyrations. Turn, turn, turn.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has announced that the Generation Partners/Green Power Providers (GP/GPP) program will stop accepting applications on January 1, 2020. The utility states that the program no longer meets market needs.

Concurrent with this cancellation is the semi-public power authority’s announcement that it will be retiring two (2.1 GW total) of its eight coal facilities, as it moves to the further public comment phases of its required quadennial 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that lays out TVA’s long-term vision.

The Draft Resource Plan describes the modeling done by TVA that led it to its current resource guidance plans. Drivers of the company’s current position, noted in the Executive Summary, are a focus on flexibility (coal plant retirements were noted as partially due to lack of flexibility of these resources), the need for future growth, a desire for resiliency, and compelling prices for solar power in the middle 2020s (though little suggested volume).

The Current Outlook case in the Best Case scenario sees approximately approximately 3 GW of new solar, and about 4.5 GW of new gas to be built, with minimal retirements through 2038. This can be seen in the far left of the above image, and this model suggests that the utility will mostly continue to run its heavy nuclear- and hydro-based system, mostly unchanged other than the trades from coal to gas happening right now, for the next generation (below image).

When focusing on solar and storage, the IRP notes that under certain strategies – Promoting Resiliency, Efficient Load Shape or Renewables would lead to a bit more solar power – up to 5 GW versus 3 GW currently proposed – and energy storage volume ranging from 500 MW to 2-5-3.5 GW.

The utility suggests that Best Case scenarios won’t need any additional energy storage.