A tough legal and financial terrain is confronting producers, utilities and regulators.
Abengoa and BrightSource Energy agreed to jointly develop, build, and operate what the companies say will be the world’s two largest solar power towers. GE began operating a prototype of what it calls the world’s most efficient high-output wind turbine. Hawaiian Electric Co. dedicated the new 5-MW Kalaeloa solar farm in West Oahu, Hawaii. And more...
A senator’s crusade limits America’s options.
Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe has made it his mission to block environmental regulations, especially greenhouse gas constraints. His most recent attack targets John Bryson, former Edison International CEO and Pres. Barack Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary. But rather than protecting economic interests, as Inhofe purportedly aims to do, his actions have added to the ongoing policy chaos that frustrates clean coal development.
Solar projects are becoming hot investments.
With recent scale-up in both photovoltaic and concentrated thermal facilities, solar energy is nearing cost parity with wind and even some fossil generation sources. And with development models evolving to help companies manage technology risks, solar power has become an attractive investment opportunity—not just for tax-equity players, but also for utilities.
Utility-scale projects suffer growing pains.
Anyone who’s been watching the solar power industry for more than a few years can’t help but be impressed by the recent explosion of large-scale projects. It seems akin to the rapid scale-up of wind in the late 1990s and early 2000s—when megawatt-scale turbines became standard-issue, and the definition of a “large” wind farm changed from a capacity of 20 MW to something more like 200 MW.
Manufacturers scale up for utility applications.
Photovoltaics technology is emerging as a generation alternative—both for centralized and distributed facilities. Solar industry executives say their companies are overcoming obstacles to large-scale implementation. With advances in design and manufacturing, the future looks bright for utility-scale solar power.
Technologies are scaling up quickly to meet industry needs.
Like other California electric utilities, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been scrambling to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010. Though the RPS includes a variety of technologies, renewables developers are choosing utility-scale solar power more than any other resource, says Hal La Flash, PG&E’s director of emerging clean technologies.