Morning Brief: Solar and wind are the cheapest new sources of electricity, Appalachian Power halts distributed projects

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Solar and wind are the cheapest new sources of electricity in at least two-thirds of the world’s population, according to a new BloombergNEF report. The report finds that the levelized cost of electricity for onshore wind projects has fallen 9% to $44/MWh since the second half of last year. Solar declined 4% to $50/MWh. An analyst for BloombergNEF predicted that “Solar and wind projects will be pushing below $20/MWh this side of 2030.” Just as inspiring: “Battery storage is also getting more competitive. The levelized cost of electricity for batteries has fallen to $150 a megawatt-hour, about half of what it was two years ago. That’s made it the cheapest new peaking-power technology in places that import gas, including Europe, China and Japan.” Source: Bloomberg
A rider in a 2016 agreement between Appalachian Power and local municipalities is stopping solar development in Virginia. This rider is a territory-wide cap on net-metered solar systems, set at 3 MW for schools and other government entities. Because of this, systems, such as a 700 kW installation proposed in 2018 for Ridgeview High School, have gone absolutely nowhere. Furthermore, not even the newly-signed Clean Economy Act and Solar Freedom bill can help drive expansion in the territory, as the Appalachian power contract supersedes these laws. Source: Energy News
After half of a year’s delay, Ohio regulators have approved an 80 MW array in Brown and Clermont counties. The project encompass 464 acres within a 610-acre project area and represents a significant portion of the 500 MW that have broken ground in Ohio in the first three months of 2020. This development is led foremost by the 200-megawatt Hillcrest Solar project in Brown County. Source:
Sierra Club has released a statement regarding Duke’s 2020 Climate Report, tentatively praising the utility’s renewable acceptance, while also taking issue with its coal and natural gas retirement timelines.

“While Duke’s commitment to increase its renewable capacity is a step in the right direction, the plan still moves too slowly in response to the climate crisis. If Duke accelerated their plans to move away from dirty coal and stopped burning fracked gas, they could clean up their pollution and save customers money at the same time.

But Duke still plans to operate roughly 9 gigawatts of coal in 2030, most of which is uneconomic right now. And while Duke claims it can’t rely more on storage because the technology isn’t yet economically feasible, it nevertheless expects to fill 12% of future capacity needs with other technologies that it doesn’t consider economically feasible, or even available, today.”

Source: Sierra Club

Rhode Island has renewed a state initiative to develop solar projects on brownfields. Starting May 5, 2020, new PV projects located on brownfields will be eligible for project incentives through the Rhode Island Commerce’s Renewable Energy Fund. This same fund helped seven projects totaling more than 12 MW get built in 2019. Any interested developers can apply here. Source: Energy RI

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