Sunrise brief: Solar as sculpture could help power Burning Man festival


Mumbai architecture firm NUDES has designed Solar Mountain, which could become a permanent installation on Burning Man’s 3,800-acre ranch in Nevada and produce 300 MWh of electricity annually.

The design features an array of solar panels fanning out from a central spine. Construction is planned with modular design elements of recycled wood and other environmentally friendly materials. It would include four units, each with 182 solar panels of 300W capacity.

Burning Man is an annual festival focused on community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. The NUDES design is one of 10 finalists in a design challenge by Land Art Generator Initiative and Burning Man Project known as LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch. Later this year, selected design teams will be offered a grant to build a functional prototype on site.

CPS Energy wins restraining order

A Texas court granted a request by CPS Energy for a temporary restraining order preventing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ECOT) from using posted collateral from CPS and other entities to cover charges that other market participants have not paid.

The charges are related to electricity prices that remained at market-capped highs for days in mid-February as much of Texas dealt with an extended winter storm that crippled the state’s grid.

CPS Energy, a municipal utility, first filed claims against ERCOT in mid-March. It alleged that the grid operator’s “lack of oversight, preparedness, and failure to follow its own protocols” resulted in $16 billion in overcharges to market participants and customers during the storm.

The utility said that ERCOT has admitted that it could have corrected the $16 billion error by repricing within 30 days of the winter storm, but did not. An Independent Market Monitor also advised that the charges were likely excessive.

CPS Energy said that ERCOT’s attempts to collect these charges from CPS Energy’s customers is “an unlawful extension of CPS Energy’s credit” and a “direct violation of the Texas State Constitution.” Lawyers argued that a city-owned utility cannot be asked to help settle the debts of other entities, “especially in cases where there is no chance of being repaid.”

In late April, a Bexar County District Court judge granted CPS Energy a temporary restraining order.

“Disappointingly, ERCOT continues to inject uncertainty into the market while failing to address its errors, which is contributing to one of the largest illegal transfers of wealth in the history of Texas,” said Paula Gold-Williams, the utility’s president and CEO.

Green hydrogen development

Puget Sound Energy signed a joint development agreement with Mitsubishi Power Americas to collaborate on renewable energy and storage project development in line with the utility’s goal to become a “Beyond Net Zero Carbon” energy company by 2045.

Additionally, Mitsubishi Power and Magnum Development will jointly develop green hydrogen storage assets in PSE’s service territory. Mitsubishi Power and Magnum Development introduced green hydrogen storage at grid scale in May 2019 with the Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project in Delta, Utah.

Advanced Power taps Bechtel for Texas solar

Advanced Power tapped Bechtel to complete the engineering, procurement, and construction of the 140 MW Cutlass Solar Project in Fort Bend, Texas. The project will be built on a 700-acre site and is scheduled to enter service in 2022. Bechtel Enterprises partnered with Advanced Power to develop the project.

Cutlass Solar is the fourth project and first renewable energy facility that Bechtel will deliver for Advanced Power. The team is currently constructing the South Field Energy Facility in Ohio and previously completed the Cricket Valley Energy Center and the Carroll County Energy Facility using natural gas.

Indian Point nuclear shuts down

The Indian Point Energy Center permanently shut down April 30 when it retired its last operating nuclear reactor, Unit 3. The power plant began operations in 1962 and produced over 565 terawatthours of electricity in the 59 years it was open. The Unit 3 retirement removes almost 1,040 MW of nuclear generating capacity from New York State, leaving about 3,200 MW of remaining nuclear capacity at three plants in upstate New York.

Indian Point had three pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 began operations in 1962 and shut down in 1974. Units 2 and 3 began operations in 1974 and 1976, respectively; Unit 2 retired in April 2020.

Three natural gas-fired power plants have been introduced over the past three years to help support the electric supply needed by New York City that Indian Point had been providing: Bayonne Energy Center II (120 MW), CPV Valley Energy Center (678 MW), and Cricket Valley Energy Center (1,020 MW).

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