With 153 new gigawatts of renewables like wind and solar power installed in 2015, the world saw more renewable energy installed in 2015 than coal power installed, for the first time, ever! That’s perhaps the biggest solar news from last week, but even that finding is challenged. It also was a particularly busy time for solar news from New England, with multiple announcements in New York, Connecticut and even the biggest little state, Rhode Island.
First off, though, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) “Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market” report showed that new solar power has surpassed new coal-fired power for the first time ever, as 153 gigawatts of new renewable energy was installed across the world. Of that 63 gigawatts was wind and 49 gigawatts was in photovoltaics. The report also said that prices in both technologies would continue to fall as technology becomes more efficient. However, the Energy Watch Group called the figures for future growth from the IEA as ‘Old Wine in New Bottles.’ That advocacy organization called IEA’s projections too conservative. One of its chief challenges is that IEA’s assumptions on costs for solar power are too high, saying IEA’s cost estimates are at least 20 percent higher than observed in reality.
Despite that the US remains the world’s most attractive market for solar power and wind power investments. That’s according to EY’s latest Renewable energy country attractiveness index (RECAI). That report said that among other things, the businesses in the US that are starting to buy energy directly from clean power projects through power purchase agreements (PPAs) were one of the factors for its rankings. The other top five countries in the index are China, India, Chile and Germany, in that order.
Then there was the news out of New England. While you’d think that New York’s new roadmap for solar growth would top the news for the region but it’s hard to say it did. After all Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced that they are partnering to procure 460 megawatts of renewables. Solar was the clear winner in that procurement, with 306.4 megawatts of solar projects proposed, accepted. Wind was also a big winner with 154.8 megawatts of projects approved.
But while those two are noteworthy achievements, perhaps Long Island’s newest proposal was the most stunning. There, on the tiny New York Island, Invenergy proposed a series of projects to supply 700 megawatts of clean energy. The power would come from wind and solar installations in nearby states including Pennsylvania, both Virginias and even North Carolina.
While Vermont wasn’t a part of the other announcements, solar power and energy storage made an important contribution there last week as well. Green Mountain Power, a utility in the state reported that in just one (very cherrypicked) hour, it’s solar power and energy storage system saved its customers $200,000 in higher electric fees had the utility need to source power from other peak generators.
As summer sports are winding down and winter sports like basketball are taking to the courts, Utah Jazz and Vivint Solar announced that they partnered to install 700 kilowatts of solar power on the Vivint Smart Home Arena, scoring a clean energy slam dunk as the season gets underway.Tweet