Morning Brief: Role of gas as a bridge fuel in US ‘just got shorter and narrower’


Role of gas as a bridge fuel in U.S. ‘just got shorter and narrower’: The natural gas revolution that has led to a power plant building boom and kept electricity prices low may be nearing its end, as the coronavirus pandemic has reduced demand for the fuel and competition from renewable sources of energy intensifies, said Dan Klein, head of scenario planning at S&P Global Platts. This spring, as the coronavirus shut down the economy, analysts projected that the renewable energy industry would emerge from the crisis in a stronger position as falling electricity demand hit fossil-fuel plants particularly hard. Adding to the pain for the natural gas industry, the health and economic crisis came at a time when the financial outlook for some plant owners was already deteriorating. “Gas was viewed as a bridge fuel between coal and renewables, and that bridge just got shorter and narrower.” Source: S&P Global

Trina Solar has announced its acquisition of the remaining 49% equity in Spanish solar tracker company Nclave. The Nclave smart tracker is one of the core hardware products in Trina Solar’s one-stop smart PV solution, TrinaPro. Nclave specializes in the design, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of fixed tilts and solar trackers — with more than 5 GW developed worldwide. According to GTM Research, PV tracker market growth rate reached 66% in 2019, significantly higher than 24% in 2017 and 36% in 2018. In the report, Nclave is listed as a “Top 10 Photovoltaic Tracker of 2019”, only one other Chinese company made it into the top 10. Source: Utilities Middle East

A lithium-ion battery storage system deployed by Ameren has reduced the number and duration of outages in a small, “geographically challenging” Illinois town: As utilities around the country plan for more energy storage on the grid, a battery system in rural Illinois that’s been up and running since 2017 can provide some lessons. Thebes, Illinois, is in the far southwest corner of the state, wedged between the Mississippi River and rugged hillsides — geography that makes it difficult for Ameren Illinois to provide reliable electric service for the town’s roughly 330 residents.The solution was an innovative solar battery system, which has dramatically reduced both the number and duration of outages. The backup system, including a $1.4 million battery, was initially installed in 2017. The utility made adjustments in 2019 to allow the energy storage system to work with other sophisticated controls to automatically restore service almost as soon as a power outage occurs. Source: Energy News Network

A Florida county board denies a zoning exemption for a 650-acre solar project in a predominantly Black community after some residents said the proposal constituted environmental racism and would hurt property values. Commissioners voted 3-2 at a special meeting Tuesday to deny a zoning exception for the 650-acre facility. The nearly 230,000 solar panels would have been constructed just north of downtown Archer at Southwest 170th Street and Southwest 95th Avenue. Before the meeting was postponed last week, the solar company, First Solar, and the county’s team gave presentations supporting the proposed plan. First Solar had to apply for a special zoning exception to allow the land to be used for the facility. With arguments ranging from considerations of environmental justice, wildlife impacts and even the possibility for sinkholes, affected residents pushed the county to deny the exception. Alachua County Commissioner Charles Chestnut made the motion to deny the proposal, and Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler seconded. “I think it’s the right project in the wrong place,” Commissioner Ken Cornell said. Source: WUFT


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