The first total solar eclipse to darken US skies in a generation has forced utilities to draw up contingency plans for an electric grid increasingly powered by the sun. A giant shadow moving west to east on August 21 will temporarily remove “a large amount of photovoltaic resources” from the country, a regulatory body concluded last week. California’s grid operator on Monday estimated the eclipse would boost its net demand by 6,000 megawatts, enough power for the city of Los Angeles, as solar output nosedives. Eclipses are among the latest factors utility managers must consider as renewable energy becomes a bigger part of the generation mix. The last total solar eclipse crossed the US in 1979, when president Jimmy Carter bemoaned an energy crisis a nd renewable technology was in its infancy.
FT 2nd May 2017 read more »
It’s no secret that solar PV is now the cheapest form of new-build utility-scale power generation around, but according to global research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance, we’re not far from the point when it will also be cheaper than incumbent fossil fuel generators. Kobad Bhavnagri, BNEF’s head of research in Australia, said that prices like 2.69 US cents/kWh had ensured that solar PV was now the cheapest source of new generation in the world, and even in Australia which he said had “finally become an efficient utility-scale PV market.” But the problem for big solar remained that “new plant still have to compete with old,” which at the moment, puts incumbent coal ahead of the game – in Australia and many other parts of the world. But not for long. Bhavnagri says that the cost reductions of solar PV are now becoming “so significant” that BNEF can foresee a time when new solar will become cheaper than operating, existing coal.
Renew Economy 3rd May 2017 read more »