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EGEB: California’s solar surplus, UK solar, Australian project could add largest battery

In today’s EGEB:

  • California has to figure out how to utilize all of its solar power, and how to move forward.
  • Solar installations in the UK fell off a cliff last month.
  • Connecticut makes a huge commitment to offshore wind.
  • A huge Australian solar project secures financing, and a giant battery may be on the way.

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

A new report from the Los Angeles Times lays out the state’s peculiar position right from the get-go:

California set two renewable energy records last week: the most solar power ever flowing on the state’s main electric grid, and the most solar power ever taken offline because it wasn’t needed.

Officials are looking for ways to better use the solar power generated during the middle of the day, which often goes unused. One obvious solution is to increase battery storage. But it’s not a bad idea to “overbuild” solar, either, as a report from the journal Solar Energy concluded.

Researchers found that solar power is now “so inexpensive that overbuilding it will probably be the cheapest way to keep the lights on during cloudy or overcast days — cheaper than relying entirely on batteries.” So while storage will still be needed at night, the sheer amount of solar available means less storage would be needed on cloudy days.

Other experts in the report disagree with the assessment, however, and still consider a stronger emphasis on storage to be a better way to go.

Sinking UK Solar

Solar installations in the UK fell 94% in the past month, with the Labour Party saying the government is “actively dismantling” the industry, The Guardian reports. New solar capacity dropped from 79 MW in March to 5 MW in April.

A drop was expected after solar subsidies were phased out in the UK, but the decrease has been precipitated by lack of a clear policy on how solar homeowners would be affected. To wit:

Instead, officials confirmed that new solar pv installations would be expected to give their unused clean power to energy companies for free until a new scheme is set up. A spokesman for the government said new proposals will be unveiled in the coming days.

As Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey said, “Parliament declared a climate emergency yet there is no evidence that this government takes this seriously.”

Connecticut Commits

Connecticut is diving headfirst into offshore wind with its Revolution Wind facility, and the city of New London is set to become a hub for the burgeoning industry in the state. And now the state is committing to up to 2,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030, after a bill unanimously passed the state Senate, Hartford Business Journal reports.

Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign the bill into law, and two weeks after that, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) can start soliciting new bids for development.

It’s a strong commitment, but it still trails what some other Northeastern states will require, including New York (9,000 MW by 2035), New Jersey (3,500 MW by 2030) and Massachusetts (3,200 MW by 2035).

Solar Victory in Victoria

Another day where Australian solar earns a mention in EGEB, this time surrounding a 256 MW solar farm in Victoria. The project is already under construction, but it’s now gained necessary financing from a group of banks, Renew Economy reports.

The Kiamal solar farm will be the first required to install a “synchronous condenser,” which will “ease connection challenges and assure the grid operator that it is ‘doing no harm’ to the grid.”

But more than that, developer Total Eren is looking to add a truly massive battery to the project. Renew Economy notes that it would be:

…a 270 MW / 1,080 MWh energy storage system that would dwarf the 100 MW/129 MWh Tesla big battery at Hornsdale – currently the biggest lithium-ion battery in the world – both in terms of power and storage.

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