Sunrise brief: Dominion adds to its solar energy portfolio

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Dominion buys 150 MW Ohio solar

Dominion Energy said that one of its subsidiaries has acquired the 150 MW Hardin solar generating facility in Ohio from Chicago-based Invenergy.

Facebook will take the electricity generated at the facility as well as the renewable energy credits under a long-term agreement signed prior to the project’s construction.

This marks Dominion Energy’s first solar energy investment in Ohio. Dominion owns solar arrays in nine other states. Dominion Energy closed on the acquisition in 2020, and construction activities were completed in December.

FirstEnergy solar RFP

FirstEnergy Corp. is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to buy 137,000 Solar Photovoltaic Alternative Energy Credits (SPAECs) annually over a two-year period on behalf of three FirstEnergy Pennsylvania utilities: Pennsylvania Power Co., Pennsylvania Electric Co., and Metropolitan Edison Co.

The RFP process will be conducted by The Brattle Group and will take place in January and February, with qualifying applications due by Feb. 9, 2021, and bids due by March 3, 2021.

Bidders may offer to sell tranches of SPAECs, where each tranche represents a commitment to sell 500 SPAECs annually over a two-year period with deliveries beginning in 2021. Based on the RFP results, FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania utilities will enter into separate agreement with winning suppliers to buy the SPAECs.

Further information about the SPAEC RFP is available on FirstEnergy’s website.

Canadian clean energy RFP

The Government of Canada has launched Requests for Proposal to buy new clean electricity in the province of Alberta to power federal operations there.

Canada also will buy Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) from new clean energy generation in Canada, a move intended to enable Canada to attribute its energy consumption as clean in regions where new clean renewable sources are not yet available.

The RFP covers government buildings in the province of Alberta.

Image: Pixabay

The government’s combined electricity consumption includes roughly 532,000 MWh annually from greenhouse gas-emitting sources of electricity. Federal buildings in Alberta consume 31% of that total. Another 23% is consumed elsewhere in Canada where local clean electricity initiatives will not be available in the near term.

Together, the contracts issued through the RFP will help Canada cut its greenhouse gas footprint by around 133 kilotonnes or 56% of total real property emissions in Alberta. The contracts also are expected to displace on the order of 41 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use in the rest of Canada.

The approach will use one or more Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with clean electricity generators. These PPAs will secure renewable electricity by using funds that the government already spends on utility bills.

The Government of Canada’s Clean Electricity Initiative plans to use 100% clean electricity by 2022, where available.

Maverick solar enters service

EDF Renewables North America announced the completion and commercial operation of the Maverick 1 (173.4 MW) and Maverick 4 (135.9 MW) Solar Projects in California.

Maverick 1 provides 125 MW of electricity to Southern California Edison under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Maverick 4 supplies 100 MW energy and renewable attributes to Shell Energy North America under a 15-year PPA.

The two projects are part of the Palen Solar project and are located adjacent to each other in Riverside County, on land administered by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM designated this area as a Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) and Development Focus Area. Both projects consist of horizontal single-axis tracking solar photovoltaic technology.

The facility was originally submitted in 2007 as a concentrating solar power plant by Solar Millennium, who went bankrupt before final approval. Brightsource Energy bought the rights to the project at auction in 2013, but the company and partner Abengoa Solar abandoned the state proceeding in that year. In late 2015 EDF Renewable Energy acquired Abengoa’s interest in the project and resubmitted it for consideration.

EDF Renewables’ Asset Optimization group will perform operations and maintenance services for the life of the project. The group will provide NERC compliance support, remote monitoring, and balance-of-plant management to maximize power production.

Rebound for Coal?

Stocks have their dead cat bounce. In 2021, we may be talking about a dead coal bounce.

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that generation from natural gas-fired power plants in the U.S. will fall by about 8% in 2021. The drop would be the first annual decline in natural gas-fired generation since 2017.

Forecast generation from coal-fired power plants will increase by 14% in 2021. That followed a 20% decline in 2020. EIA forecasts that generation from non-hydropower renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, will grow by 18% in 2021, expected to be the fastest annual growth rate since 2010.

In 2020, natural gas prices were the lowest in decades as the nominal price of natural gas delivered to electric generators averaged $2.37 per million British thermal units (Btu). For 2021, EIA forecasts that price will rise by 41% to $3.35 per million Btu, about where it was in 2017. In contrast, EIA expects nominal coal prices to rise 6%.

The large expected rise in natural gas prices is the primary driver in EIA’s forecast. EIA said it expects about 36% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2021 will be fueled by natural gas, down from 39% in 2020. The forecast coal-fired generation share in 2021 rises to 22% from 20% last year.

EIA said that “significant growth” in electricity-generating capacity from renewable energy sources in 2021 is also likely to affect the mix of fuels used for power generation. Developers are scheduled to add 15.4 GW of new utility-scale solar capacity this year, which would be a record high.

An additional 12.2 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2021, following 21 GW of wind capacity that was added last year. Much of this new renewable generating capacity will be located in areas that have relied on natural gas as a primary fuel for power generation in recent years, such as in Texas.

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