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EGEB: Low solar prices in Idaho and Hawaii, Southeast lacking wind power, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Low solar power prices in Idaho…
  • And low solar plus storage prices in Hawaii.
  • A look at states being left out of the U.S. “wind boom.”
  • More DOE funding for wind research.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Idaho Power announced it’s made a “landmark agreement” to buy solar power “at a price that’s among the lowest on record.” The utility company will pay $21.75/MWh from a future 120 MW project, through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Idaho company Jackpot Holdings. The array should be complete by 2022.

The price will work out to less than 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. As pv magazine USA points out, that’s lower than any other “publicly known” price for solar PPAs, besting a 2.375-cent/kWh rate in Nevada.

Idaho Power also announced this week that it plans on providing 100 percent clean energy by 2045. The utility says that its current hydropower facilities “typically meet almost half” of their customers’ energy demands, and it plans on making up the difference with investments in wind, solar, “and other clean sources.”

Hawaii Solar+Storage

Hawaii Electric announced some impressive prices for six grid-scale solar-plus-battery storage projects, which have been approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

The six projects will total 247 MW of solar and nearly 1 GWh of energy storage. Each separate project will offer four hours of battery storage. In total, the projects will provide enough energy to power 105,000 homes annually.

Furthermore, the cost per kWh of each project will be 10 cents or lower. The utility says the cost of fossil fuel generation is currently about 15 cents/kWh.

Southeast Wind

Vox took a look at wind energy capacity in the U.S., illustrating the capacity by state with a number of maps. (You’ll have to head on over to Vox to check out the maps.)

As we’ve noted before, Texas is the clear leader in installed capacity, and by and large, the Plains states and West Coast are ahead of the rest of the country. One area that’s clearly been left behind is the Southeast. North Carolina and Tennessee have small amounts of installed capacity as of 2017, and the rest of the region — Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida — has no installed capacity at all.

The article factors in wind speed, which tends to be lower in the Southeast. But most notably, many southeastern states lack renewable portfolio standards.

Of course, the Southeast generally has better potential for solar, and so far, that’s where the development has been. There’s still potential for wind power in the region down the road as prices drop, but the best opportunities may be offshore.

More Wind Money

A day after announcing $130 million for solar research, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced $28 million in wind energy research. The breakdown of the projects from the DOE:

  • Wind Innovations for Rural Economic Development (WIRED) (up to $6.1M)
  • Utilizing and Upgrading National-Level Facilities for Offshore Wind R&D (up to $7M)
  • Project Development for Offshore Wind Technology Demonstrations (up to $10M)
  • Tall Towers for U.S. Wind Power (up to $5M)

Most of the money is going to offshore wind research, and the DOE announced $28 million in floating turbine research earlier this year. Analysts see a major revenue opportunity for offshore wind developers in the coming years, due to the industry’s sizable potential.

President Donald Trump has asked for a 70 percent cut to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget — the cut is actually 86 percent if you don’t consider the existing budget balances factored into the new proposal. Last year, a similar cut was denied by Congress, and EERE was given more robust funding.

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