The first major long-duration storage procurement has arrived


  • Eight of California’s community choice agencies have published a request for offers seeking 500 megawatts of long-duration storage capacity, helping the state meet its need for 1 gigawatt of long-duration storage by 2026
  • Long-duration storage allows resources like wind and solar to provide power for longer periods of time
  • There is no firm definition of what “long-duration” storage can be, but examples range from 4 to 150 hours
  • Eligible projects must provide at least 50 megawatts of power capacity, be able to provide power for 8 hours, and be functional by 2026
  • California needs 40 gigawatts of long-duration storage by 2045 in order to meet the states carbon-free electricity goals

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources. The Climate Center has helped Community Choice expand throughout the state, resulting in cleaner energy for 11 million Californians.

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California Community Choice agencies eye long duration batteries for energy storage


  • A group of 11 small scale, local agencies called Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) have issued a request for information regarding long-duration battery storage that can hold power for at least 8 hours
  • The storage can be used to take in excess solar power from the day and shift its use for night time and morning energy needs
  • The request for storage comes after the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a 46 million metric ton (MMT) greenhouse gas emission target for the electric sector by 2030 early this year
  • The request for new storage will help create new economic opportunities and help fight climate change by lessening the state’s dependence on fossil fuels in our energy system

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future

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New Mexico’s plan to shut down coal without leaving people behind

by Julian Spector, Greentech Media


  • The Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to build 650 megawatts of solar power and 300 megawatts of battery capacity to divest its share of the San Juan coal plant in 2022
  • New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich advocates for solar and storage instead of any new gas facilities in New Mexico, and put emphasizes the importance of economically supporting the areas where coal plants will retire 
  • New Mexico has three coal plants and has allocated millions of dollars for the communities where these plants are and have established rate savings for customers as coal phases out
  • Sen. Heinrich notes that solar jobs don’t require as much full-time operational staff compared to traditional energy plants and says the solution needs to be broader than just the energy industry:

“Your economic development policy, it’s wise to diversify that, and not be reliant on any single economic driver for a community,”

  • A study from Energy Innovation shows that municipal and cooperative utilities could exit 22.5 gigawatts of coal power in favor of solar by 2025 while saving money for their customers

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform. The Climate Center’s guiding principles in achieving our goals include striving to close the climate gap and ensuring a just transition for workers.

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How local energy providers are ensuring energy resilience

by Sarah Golden, GreenBiz


  • California’s Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) are providing ratepayers with energy resilience programs for the upcoming fire season
  • Four Northern California CCAs, East Bay Community Energy, MCE (Marin Community Energy), Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, have recently announced solar plus battery storage projects in their territories 
  • CCAs have implemented these solar and storage programs before their investor-owned utility counterparts, such as PG&E or SoCal Edison 
    • This may be due to the fact that CCAs focus on the communities in their territories and have no responsibilities to shareholders
    • Big utilities are addressing resiliency on the whole electrical grid as opposed to smaller communities 
  • Creating resilience programs takes time, as plans, solicitations, applications, and negotiation processes take many months 

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future

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Fires are coming. But PG&E and some cities are holding up battery backups

By Sammy Roth, The Los Angeles Times


Solar installation companies are working to get projects done before the next wildfire season starts in Calfornia, but restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is making it hard to do business.

  • Some cities are refusing to issue permits for solar and storage installations as county buildings are closed due to shelter in place mandates
  • The California Solar and Storage Association concluded that 15,000 people have likely been laid off or furloughed based on a survey given to their member businesses
  • In Santa Clara County,  officials initially allowed installations only of solar-plus-storage systems, and installations without batteries were postponed
  • Though business is down by 90% for installers, the California Energy Commission released a statement clarifying that solar and energy storage installers are considered essential electricity industry workers
  • Rooftop panels can help people keep their energy costs down at a time when millions of Californians have filed for unemployment and residential electricity use is higher
  • Electricity generation from small scale rooftop solar installations more than tripled in California between 2014 and 2019 and the state received more solar energy than wind energy this past year
  • More small scale solar on residential and commercial rooftops helps utilities avoid large transmission costs from importing energy from larger-scale solar farms
  • The Public Utilities Commission has started accepting applications for more than $600 million in incentive funding for battery installations in homes that could see their power shut off come fire season

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience, we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. 

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Florida utility plans world’s largest battery combined with solar

by Tom Kenning, Energy Storage

Major US utility Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is planning to build the world’s largest battery energy storage system adjacent to an existing solar power plant, with plans to roll out multiple other storage systems across the state.

With the key proposed battery standing at 409MW capacity, the Florida energy company claims it will be four times larger than the largest battery currently operating worldwide. Furthermore, the system will help reduce fossil fuel usage and thereby accelerate the decommissioning of two neighbouring, 1970s-era natural gas power units.

The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will be powered by an existing PV plant in Parrish, Manatee County, and capable of distributing 900MWh of electricity. It will start serving customers in 2021, with the batteries being used particularly during peak demand periods, thereby reducing the requirement for electricity from other power plants. It will be able to provide energy the equivalent of 329,000 homes for a period of two hours, saving FPL customers more than US$100 million in the process.

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California’s wildfire threat could be an opportunity for clean-energy microgrids

by Sammy Roth, LA Times

To the untrained eye, the shipping containers clustered on the outskirts of Borrego Springs don’t look like an innovative clean-energy technology that could help California cope with wildfires.

But these containers, in the remote desert of eastern San Diego County, are packed with lithium-ion batteries — and they’re part of one of the world’s most advanced microgrids. It combines solar panels, diesel generators, energy storage and something called an ultracapacitor to power Borrego Springs, even when electricity isn’t flowing through the single transmission line that connects the town to the main power grid.

“I believe this is the only microgrid in the world that does what this does,” said Steven Prsha, an engineer for San Diego Gas & Electric Co., as he wrapped up a tour last month.

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Solar Reserve by NASA's Marshall Space Flight

How solar tower and storage won on costs

by Sophie Vorrath, Renew Economy

As the South Australian government basks in the glow of procuring a second world-leading and game-changing renewable energy technology project for the state, attention is turning to the finer details of the deal; in particular, how a solar tower power plant with molten salt storage won the government tender on costs.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Monday afternoon that solar thermal developer SolarReserve had won the tender to supply 100 per cent of the government’s long-term power needs via a 150MW, $650 million solar tower and storage facility to be built in the former coal town of Port Augusta.

The project, dubbed Aurora, won the 20-year contract to deliver power at just $78/MWh which, as we reported here, is amazingly cheap: around one-half of previous estimates for the technology, and significantly cheaper than the gas generation fleet that currently dominates the state’s generation profile.

So how did SolarReserve come to such a low cost of supply?

The answer lies in two key elements of the deal. The first is the length of the power off take contract SolarReserve has signed with the SA government, which at 20 years, allows the company to amortise debt over a longer period.

The second key factor is the $110 million of recoupable finance promised by the federal government in April, in a deal with SA Senator Nick Xenophon to help accelerate the development of a solar thermal plant or large-scale solar project at Port Augusta.
The deal, struck in exchange for Xenophon passing the federal Coalition’s tax cuts, was welcomed at the time by Weatherill, who confirmed the loan – over and above any funding from CEFC or ARENA – would put solar thermal “right in the running” to win the SA government’s tender.

And so it did. Speaking in an interview on Monday, SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith remained hazy on the finer details of the contract (we assume the SA government gets to keep the LGCs generated by the power plant), but did concede that if the federal government withdrew its promise of equity funding, the company would have to go back to the drawing board on costs.

“We’ve built that into the structure that we’ve offered to the South Australia government,” he said, while stressing that the money was not a grant. “I think it’s interesting to point out that that’s an equity investment; so they get that money back, plus they get a return. So there will be actually profits that’ll go to the federal government for repayment and the equity investment on that funding.”

Asked whether the project was a “loss leader,” however, Smith’s response was a clear “no.”
“Investors and lenders do not let projects be loss leaders,” he said. “Lenders keep everyone honest. It is a modest return project… We hope to make some money on the back end of the deal.”

(ITK analyst David Leitch crunches the numbers on the project here, and concludes that it “is clearly not commercial.”)

On the length of the contract, Smith said 20-years was a pretty typical time-frame for the industry. “That allows us to bring in long-term financing… long-term debt … and that allows the capital cost to be amortised over a longer period, (and) drives down the cost of power.
“As soon as that debt is paid off, we are looking at significant price reductions after that,” he said.

For the SA government, the solar thermal and molten salt storage project has the obvious benefit of ticking the box for both its tenders – to provide 75 per cent of its long-term power supply and 25 per cent of its electricity load from dispatchable renewables – and the longer-term benefit of putting downward pressure on the state’s power prices.

“The government load peaks in the middle of the day, and the rest of the market’s load peaks at six or seven in the evening,” Weatherill said.

“So what that gives us the opportunity to do is to play this power into the point of the day when it’s most needed.

“That’s why it works, financially, for both parties. And that’s why it’s an incredibly powerful offering for the South Australian market.

“There will be benefits for the South Australian tax-payer, but broader benefits for the South Australian community as we put downward pressure on prices,” he said.

“As power companies are aware that this project is going to come on board, they’ll be starting to write forward contracts that factor it in – just as they factor in all market conditions at the moment.

“So we’ll see those benefits flow to us. And, of course, when the project is up, we’ll see the downward pressure on prices.

And then there is the unquantifiable – but undeniable – value, as one of the Twitterati put it yesterday, of the market confidence that comes from a government that is “actually doing stuff” to progress Australia’s energy market transition.

“This is our energy plan working,” Weatherill added. “We said we wanted to take control of our energy future. We are now doing this in an way which is incentivising private sector investment.

“That’s always been the ambition here; to make sensible investments, use our purchasing power to bring in other competitors to actually cause the changes in the market, but in a way which doesn’t sterilise existing market operators.

“So as new contracts are written in this market, which is now beginning to free up, you will see downward pressure on prices. The trajectory is all downwards, which is what the purpose of the energy plan has all been about.”