The nation’s capitol, Washington, DC, recently increased its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) target to 50 target by 2032 requiring 5 percent of it to come from solar power at that point. Previously it was at 20 percent by 2020 with a 2.5 percent requirement of solar power by 2023. However, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that the city’s electric generators are already often falling short of their solar goals.
The capitol faces many challenges that other states throughout the US does not, largely because of its unique status in the US. It’s not a state but acts much like one and yet has not voting representation in Congress. Also, it has no utility-scale renewable energy generation, nor space available for such generation. “Because DC has no utility-scale renewable electricity generators, the only in-district generation qualifying for the RPS came from distributed solar systems (such as rooftop panels) installed in the District,” wrote EIA’s Cara Marcy in a Today in Energy briefing.
As such the majority of Washington, DC’s RPS-qualifying electric generation will rely on out-of-district renewable energy generation. Fully 19 states as far away as Illinois are now capable of producing renewable energy credits (RECs) for the energy supplied to DC to meet its RPS targets, EIA said. Beyond solar power the district is accepting geothermal, wind, biomass, landfill gas, marine/hydrokinetic technologies, fuel cells using renewable fuels and some conventional hydroelectric power.
The majority of DC’s renewable energy has come from wood waste biomass, which made up 39 percent of its needs and black liquor, which made up 27 percent of its overall renewable energy needs in 2015. “Wind and solar generation represented 20 percent and 3 percent of the overall requirement, respectively.”
The city’s often fallen short of its solar requirements, according to Marcy. “The DC Public Service Commission expects that approximately 70 MW of solar capacity will be required to meet the solar-specific target in 2016. As of July, only 43 MW of eligible solar capacity was available,” she said.
There are some additional restrictions of eligibility for the district’s solar power requirements. For instance, DC’s Distributed Generation Amendment Act (DGAA) of 2011 requires that its qualifying solar generators are in DC or on a feeder that actually serves the district.Tweet