Morning Brief: Texas solar hits a turning point, new round of coal plant retirements


Canadian Solar’s subsidiary, Recurrent Energy, has officially begun construction on the 144 MW Pflugerville Solar Project in Travis County, Texas. The electricity generated by the plant will all go to Austin Energy, with Austin Energy and Recurrent signing a PPA for the Pflugerville Project back in 2018. The generation is much needed for Austin Energy, as the company looks to go coal-free by 2022. Source: Canadian Solar

Texas solar hits a turning point. As the coronavirus pandemic devastates the state’s already flailing oil and gas industry, solar energy production is on a trajectory for record growth. On Garland Richards’ ranch in West Central Texas, silicon solar panels spread for two square miles in a shimmering blue expanse that resembles a lake. The Holstein solar farm, which began operating in July in Nolan County, is as long and broad as a small town. The farm has 709,000 solar panels that generate 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 40,000 homes. Richards leased a tract of his land for the solar farm in hopes that the revenue will pay the taxes on the rest of his property—10,000 acres of cattle country that’s been in his family since the 19th century. “I want to be able to hand the land down to the next generation,” Richards says. “If I can make enough on 1,300 acres to pay the taxes on 10,000 acres, it’s worth it.” For decades, the 68-year-old former cowboy and his family relied on oil wells that Exxon drilled on the property, which sprawls between San Angelo and Abilene. “But now the oil is depleting, and the market is depleting as well,” he says. Source: Texas Observer

U.S. utility executives hint at new round of coal plant retirements: U.S. coal producers are already in a tough spot, but the hints power generators dropped on second-quarter earnings calls suggest they may soon be announcing plans to retire even more of the nation’s aging coal fleet. Demand for coal has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with production and employment in the sector falling to new lows as the lower demand weighs further on a sector already in secular decline. In recent weeks, multiple power generators made comments about the future of their generation fleets suggesting more coal plant retirements loom on the horizon. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence 

esVolta has selected Ion Energy, an industry leader in battery management solutions, to improve the operational efficiency of its utility scale battery energy storage projects, in one of the largest such deals in the world. Under the partnership, Ion Energy’s battery analytics platform, Edison Analytics, will be deployed across esVolta’s entire portfolio of battery energy storage projects in North America, totaling to 581 MWh of energy storage. Source: Ion Energy

Texas’s first zero-energy capable housing community, Whisper Valley, has chosen Longhorn Solar to be one of three approved solar panel vendors for the community. Located in East Austin, each of the 7,000 planned homes will feature geothermal energy, solar power, high-efficiency appliances and Nest Smart Home technology. Each home will produce an average of 7,000 kWh annually. Source: Longhorn Solar

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