Is Utility-Scale Solar Power the Economic Choice to Residential Solar Power?

Originally published on Solar Love. A new study has concluded that utility-scale solar PV systems across the US are “significantly” more cost effective than rooftop solar PV systems. Sp…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: cleantechnica.com

“[…] the study, conducted by economists at global consulting firm The Brattle Group, found that utility-scale solar PV systems were more cost effective at achieving the economic and policy benefits of PV solar than rooftop or residential-scale solar was.

The study, Comparative Generation Costs of Utility-Scale and Residential-Scale PV in Xcel Energy Colorado’s Service Area, published Monday, is the first of its kind to study a “solar on solar” comparison.

“Over the last decade, solar energy costs for both rooftop and bulk-power applications have come down dramatically,” said Dr. Peter Fox-Penner, Brattle principal and co-author of the study. “But utility-scale solar will remain substantially less expensive per kWh generated than rooftop PV. In addition, utility-scale PV allows everyone access to solar power. From the standpoint of cost, equity, and environmental benefits, large-scale solar is a crucial resource.”

The study yielded two key findings:

  1. The generation cost of energy from 300 MW of utility-scale PV solar is roughly 50% the cost per kWh of the output from an equivalent 300 MW of 5kW residential-scale systems when deployed on the Xcel Energy Colorado system, and utility-scale solar remains more cost effective in all scenarios considered in the study.
  2. In that same setting, 300 MW of PV solar deployed in a utility-scale configuration also avoids approximately 50% more carbon emissions than an equivalent amount of residential-scale PV solar. […]

The report itself was commissioned by American thin-film photovoltaic manufacturer and utility scale developer First Solar with support from Edison Electric Institute, while Xcel Energy Colorado provided data and technical support. Specifically, the report examined the comparative customer-paid costs of generating power from equal amounts of utility-scale and residential/rooftop-scale solar PV panels in the Xcel Energy Colorado system.

A reference case and five separate scenarios with varying degrees of investment tax credit, PV cost, inflation, and financing parameters were used to yield the report’s results.

The specifics of the study’s findings, which imagined a 2019 Xcel Energy Colorado system, are as follows:

  • utility-scale PV power costs ranged from $66/MWh to $117/MWh (6.6¢/kWh to 11.7¢/kWh) across the five scenarios
  • residential-scale PV power costs were well up, ranging from $123/MWh to $193/MWh (12.3¢/kWh to 19.3¢/kWh) for a typical residential-scale system owned by the customer
  • the costs for leased residential-scale systems were even larger and between $140/MWh and $237/MWh (14.0¢/kWh to 23.7¢/kWh)
  • the generation cost difference between the utility- and residential-scale systems owned by the customer ranged from 6.7¢/kWh to 9.2¢/kWh solar across the scenarios

The authors of the report put these figures into perspective, including the national average for retail all-in residential electric rates in 2014, which were 12.5¢/kWh.  […]”

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Demand Response Energy Distribution a Technological Revolution

Demand response (DR) energy distribution appears to be gaining momentum in the United States and elsewhere. In the U.S., however, the DR sector is awaiting a Supreme Court decision that will have great impact on the evolution of the technology, administrative and business models.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.energymanagertoday.com

“[…] A lot is going on besides the Supreme Court case, however. Technology evolutions in two discreet areas are converging to make DR a hot topic. The tools necessary to determine where energy is being stored, where it is needed and when to deliver it is have developed over decades in the telecommunications sector. Secondly, the more recent rush of advanced battery research is making it possible to store energy and provide the flexibility necessary for demand response to really work. Mix that with the growing ability to generate energy on premises through solar, wind and other methods and a potent new distributed structure is created.

In October, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released a report entitled “Peak Demand Reduction Strategy,” which was prepared for it by Navigant Research. The research found that the upside is high. For instance, for every $1 spent on reducing peak demand, savings of $2.62 and $3.26 or more can be expected in Illinois and Massachusetts, respectively. The most progress has been made in the United States, the report found. Last year, the U.S. accounted for $1.25 billion of the total worldwide $2 billion demand response market, according to JR Tolbert, the AEE’s Senior Director of State Policy. The U.S. market, he wrote in response to questions emailed by Energy Manager Today, grew 14 percent last year compared to 2013.

The report painted a bright picture for the future of demand response. “The key takeaway from this report is that by passing peak demand reduction mandates into law, or creating peak demand reduction programs, policy makers and utilities could significantly reduce costs for ratepayers, strengthen reliability of the electricity system, and facilitate compliance with the Clean Power Plan,” Tolbert wrote. “As states plan for their energy future, demand response should be a go-to option for legislators and regulators.” […]”

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Smart Building Investment to Reach $17.4B by 2019

According to a new IDC Energy Insights report, “Business Strategy: Global Smart Building Technology Spending 2015–2019 Forecast,”* smart building technology spending will grow from $6.3 billion in 2014 to $17.4 billion in 2019, registering a compound annual growth rate of 22.6 percent. The most aggressive adoption will be in Asia/Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.   …Continue Reading

Source: www.energymanagertoday.com

>”[…]

After several years of slower-than-expected growth, the smart building technology market is expected to grow rapidly as there is increasingly broad market awareness of the business value. Smart buildings enable facility optimization through the convergence of information technology and building automation.

In developing this forecast, several trends were identified. One trend is that vertical industries have a large impact on the rate of adoption of smart building technologies. Buildings managed in the government or healthcare verticals, for example, tend to be more mature in their appreciation of the benefits of smart buildings and more advanced in their deployment. Secondly, investments over the past several years have focused on HVAC systems. Customers are now beginning to expand their evaluation to lighting, plug load, equipment maintenance and other issues.

From a geographic perspective, North America will continue to implement smart building technology driven largely by corporate objectives of controlling and reducing energy costs. Many European nations will continue to expand their investments in smart building technology, driven by continued EU and local governmental regulations. And within Asia/Pacific, China’s rapid building boom continues apace, resulting in new construction with many smart building capabilities designed in from the beginning.”<

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France now requires all new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels

Pr0jectClimate

France just passed atrailblazing new lawthat requires that all new buildings constructed in commercial areas to be partially-covered by either solar panels orgreen roofs. Not only will this bring dramatic changes to the nation?s skylines and bolster the efficiency of all new commercial construction, but the law will help France pick up the pace the solar adoption?which has lagged behind other European nations in recent years.

Read more:France requires all new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building



Source: inhabitat.com

“Here’s hoping that other nations can soon follow suit.” I had to go back and dig through my sources to make sure I hadn’t dreamed this!

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State and Solar Advocates Complete Legal Agreement for Full Net Metering Credit to Utilities

The Act 236 agreement also settles rules for legal solar leasing.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>”[…]  The South Carolina Public Service Commission last week approved a settlement agreement between Duke Energy Carolinas, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and major environmental groups that allows rooftop solar owners to get full retail value for electricity their systems send to the grid.The agreement on net energy metering (NEM) is part of Act 236, passed in 2014 after a consultation process involving renewable energy-interested stakeholders. Solar systems installed before the end of 2020 will earn full retail value bill credit for each kilowatt-hour that goes to the grid.Act 236 also legalizes third party ownership of solar, more widely known as solar leasing, and sets up rules by which leasing companies like SolarCity and Sunrun must operate.

Dive Insight:  To study the emerging solar opportunity, a South Carolina General Assembly-created oversight group organized a coalition of environmentalists, solar advocates, and utilities and electric cooperatives into an Energy Advisory Council in 2013. Act 236 was formulated out of its report.

The NEM settlement also raises the size limit of eligible systems from 100 kW to 1 MW and raises the cap on NEM systems from 0.2% of each utility’s peak capacity to 2%.

Act 236 requires leasing companies to be certified by the state and limits the size of leased residential systems to 20kW and leased commercial systems to 1000kW. Leased systems can only serve one customer and one location and cannot sell electricity to third parties. The total of leased solar is capped at no more than 2% of a utility’s residential, commercial, or industrial customers average retail peak demand.

Groups that led the settlement with the utilities include the Coastal Conservation League, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. […]”<

 

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New California Housing Community Goes Zero Net Energy

California has set a goal for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be zero net energy by 2030. Spring Lake uses no natural gas and receives most of its power from photovoltaics.

Source: www.calenergycommission.blogspot.ca

>”The $13 million Spring Lake project in Woodland has 62 affordable apartments and townhomes for agricultural workers and their families.  […]

“The community will generate at least as much energy as it consumes,” says Vanessa Guerra, a project manager with Mutual Housing California, a Sacramento-based non-profit that develops sustainable affordable housing communities.

The California Energy Commission adopted zero net energy goals in its 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). It further defined what ZNE buildings are and laid out the necessary steps and renewables options for achieving the ZNE 2020 goals in the 2013 IEPR.

The project was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Citibank, Wells Fargo Bank, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the City of Woodland.”<

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LA’s Urban Heat Island Effect Alters Weather

Over the last 60 years urban areas of Southern California have lost significant amounts of fog due to the heat created by paved roads and buildings.

Source: www.scpr.org

>” A new study reports that coastal fog in Southern California is on the decline, especially in heavily urbanized areas.

In particular, Los Angeles saw a 63 percent decrease over the last 60 years.

You can blame the heat island effect created by city streets and buildings, said the study’s author Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

Fog may be a nuisance for drivers, but according to Williams, it also plays a crucial role in hydrating many costal ecosystems.

These include mountains with coastal forests and hillsides covered in chaparral, which easily burns when conditions are too dry.

“They all receive water directly from fog and benefit from the shading of these clouds,” Williams said.

In fact, he noted that in some parts of Southern California, fog may provide plants with almost as much water as rain does. Williams says this loss of coastal fog could impact the regional environment.

Fog typically forms when the air is cool enough for clouds to condense close to ground level. This often happens at night and in the early morning.

However, Williams said this process is being upset by all the concrete in urban areas, which absorbs heat in the day and slowly releases it over night, raising temperatures.

“When you increase the temperature of the surface of the Earth, then you essentially need to go higher up into the atmosphere before [it] is cool enough to promote condensation,” Williams explained.

The end result is that as cities heat up, clouds rise and fog disappears.

Data for the study came from the detailed logs of the 24 coastal airports between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

“Of course airports have been collecting really good data on clouds because the presence of clouds and their hight in the atmosphere really affects air travel,” he said.

Many of these logs had hourly updates on cloud height, some dating back to the 1940s.

Using this information, Williams and his colleagues determined that the greatest loss of fog occurred in Ontario where there was a nearly 90% decrease over the last 60 years.

Other airports such as LAX, Burbank’s Bob Hope, Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County also saw a considerable decrease in the average amount of fog.

However, less urban areas like Santa Barbara and the undeveloped the Channel Islands remained quite misty.

Williams says this trend is concerning because man-made climate change is expected to heat things up even more in the future.

Coastal fog can help cool an area down but as cities continue to bake, they will gather and emit even more heat, driving away even more fog.

“That can then feedback until the cloud layer is eaten away entirely in the daytime,” he said.

Soon, Williams hopes to explore how much water fog provides Southern California in general to see whether the continued loss of these low clouds could dry out the region even more.

His current paper appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.”<

 

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Three Common Mistakes in Wireless Systems Design for Buildings

Although cellular and WiFi networks are not required by code, they are crucial for communication. More than 400,000 wireless E-911 calls are made every day…

 

Image Source:  http://bit.ly/1EqvCDv

Source: www.facilitiesnet.com

>” MISTAKE 1: Thinking it’s someone else’s problem.

Don’t let your architect avoid the issue. Design a building with adequate wireless coverage for public safety, cellular, and WiFi. […] WiFi networks are also widely used for Internet traffic and to support building management systems (BMS), Smart Grid, point of sales, audio visual, security, and more. The impact of wireless devices is only expected to increase. Mobile devices are expected to account for 61 percent of worldwide Internet traffic by 2018, compared to 39 percent from wired devices, according toCisco.

MISTAKE 2: Confusion.

Confusing the types of wireless technologies available and/or facility requirements is another pitfall. You don’t want to plan for one type and learn later that technology for common functions is missing. Technologies have different requirements for power, spacing between devices, type of cables, head-end requirements, etc. Therefore, a key factor is to understand each technology thoroughly so it can be planned and implemented properly.

To put it briefly, there are two major wireless technologies — WSP, which are your wireless carriers networks (AT&T, T-mobile ,Verizon, etc.), and WiFi technology, which is a wireless local area network (WLAN) based on Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standards.

Both of these transmit via radio frequencies. WiFi (WLAN), however, uses an unlicensed spectrum that transmits at frequencies 2.4GHz and 5 GHz, which are considerably higher frequencies than used for cellular service, which is on a licensed spectrum transmitting within 698MHz-2.7GHz.

MISTAKE 3: Bad budgeting.

Often, contractors develop their budget based on square footage, but wireless isn’t so simple. The price can vary significantly based on the complexity of the needs, the supporting frequencies, coverage area, number of users, and more. By developing preliminary wireless design, IT consultants can provide the owner/operators with a more accurate cost.

Regardless of the facility, it’s no longer a matter of if wireless will be required, just a question of whether you want to plan early before you build, or pay a premium later. IT consultants can help facility managers plan, select the best wireless options to meet end-user needs, and stay to up-to-date with local codes (where required). Furthermore, an IT consultant can better develop a realistic wireless budget for the owner and provide the architect-engineer-construction team with infrastructure requirements, such as pathways, telecom room sizes and locations, power, and cooling, without sacrificing the architect’s vision. Generically speaking, the fee for an IT consultant is insignificant to the overall project cost, and may ultimately save the owner money and headache. Be prepared for what’s to come. Overlooking this need early can often cause a major regret later.

Gislene D. Weig, electrical engineer, RCDD, is a senior consultant at PlanNet Consulting, where her core business involves U.S. and Latin American markets focused on large-scale projects that include voice/data, wired and wireless communication systems, and data network design. She can be reached at gweig@plannet.net.”<

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Microsoft Uses Big Data To Manage Buildings and Facilities

MicrosoftCampus

“My initial expectation was that we would see the return on investment in terms of driving down our energy costs, and we have seen that,” says Pittenger, to whom Smith reports. “What wasn’t part of my expectations was the gains we would have in operational efficiencies and our abilities to do repairs and maintenance much, much better and much, much smarter.”

Source: www.facilitiesnet.com

Image:  http://news.microsoft.com/2009/11/23/california-coding-microsoft-campus-in-silicon-valley-turns-10/

>” […] Over those 125 buildings on the main Microsoft campus, there are more than 30,000 building systems components — assets, in Smith’s terms — and more than 2 million points where building systems ranging from HVAC to lighting to power monitoring are connected to sensors. In a 24-hour period, those systems produce half a billion data transactions. Each one is small, but when you’re talking about half a billion of something, all those 1s and 0s add up pretty quickly.

But what’s important is being able to do something with those 1s and 0s, which Microsoft could not do until recently because of the mess of systems involved, says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings, who helped set up the software pilot program.

“You have an opportunity, if you’re building a new campus or a new building, to really start with a clean slate,” he says. “But you go in these existing buildings and you generally will come upon some unforeseen obstacles.”

The project turned out to be a relatively easy sell. First, Pittenger’s background is financial, so being able to show a strong ROI was a definite plus for Smith, because his boss understands exactly what that means when it comes time to ask for funding. Second, facilities management at Microsoft benefits from a company culture that considers every department to be a key player.

“(CEO) Steve Ballmer likes to say, ‘There are no support organizations at Microsoft,'” Pittenger says. “Everybody is fundamental to the core mission of the company. And we feel that way.”

After gaining approval, the first step was deciding how those obstacles would be overcome. Smith and his team began by writing out 195 requirements for the new way of operating and what their ultimate tool would be able to do. Then they proceeded to look around for an off-the-shelf solution that would be able to do all those things — and failed to find one. So, they built it.

More specifically, they worked with three vendors in a pilot program, encompassing 2.6 million square feet, to build an “analytics blanket” of fault detection algorithms that is layered on top of the different building management systems and reports back to the operations center. If Building 17 and Building 33 have different building management systems, those systems may not be able to talk to each other or provide data to a single reporting system in the operations center. But they can talk to the analytics blanket, which can take the information from every building and combine it into a single output in the operations center. It’s not a replacement for the BMS; instead, it’s adding on functionality that enhances the benefits of the existing BMS.”<

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Net Zero Building Nears Completion in Edmonton

the mosaic centre for conscious community and commerce is nearly ready for occupancy, which could make it the most northerly net-zero structure on the planet.

Source: www.journalofcommerce.com

>” […] The Edmonton centre’s designers and builders are hoping that others can learn from the project that sustainable design doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming – so much so that they have made the contract, calculations and drawings available to anyone.

The City of Edmonton said the Mosaic Centre will be the world’s most northerly commercial building to achieve net zero status, the city’s first designated LEED platinum building, the first in Alberta to be petal certified by the Living Building Challenge and Canada’s first triple bottom line commercial building.

Once completed, the new 30,000 square foot building will include  photovoltaic panels that will cover much of the roof.

It will also have LED lighting designed with a time-clock/daylight controller to meet minimum light levels and a geo-exchange system which will draw heat in winter and coolant in summer.

The 32 bore hole geothermal system reduced the size of the system by 40 kW, saving about $150,000.

It was built 25 per cent ahead of schedule and five per cent under budget.

HKA architect Vedran Skopac, who worked on the project, said it was done to prove to the industry that complex, sustainable buildings can be delivered on time, on budget and without animosity between the parties.

He said the key to this all started with using Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).

The model emphasizes collaboration at an early stage and encourages all the participants to use their talents and insights throughout the different stages for best results.

“It goes all the way down to the end of the line of the tradesmen,” Skopac said.

“We invested so much in designing the process, and training and making everyone a leader.”

Skopac said a major influence on designing the actual structure was creating collision spaces, or places where building residents would be forced to meet and interact.

Skopac also wanted to influence sustainable behavior, like making windows easy to operate and open rather than using air conditioning, and making natural light penetrate deep into the building rather than encourage residents to turn on lights. […]”<

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