Connect with us

Published

on

Originally published at ILSR.org

Electricity customers are lining up to generate their own clean, affordable solar energy, but to get it to them, solar developers must navigate the impediments of a congested and outdated electricity grid.

For this episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Yochi Zakai, attorney with Shute, Mahaly, and Weinberger representing Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). The two discuss hosting capacity analysis and how publicly shared grid information can help solar developers, electric customers, and others make more informed decisions.

Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

Episode Transcript


Expensive Electric Accommodations

Electric distribution grids were built as top-down avenues for delivering electricity from large, centralized power plants. Now, as distributed generation and energy storage become more popular, utilities are having to accommodate the two-way flow of electricity. To do so, the utility often needs to upgrade the distribution system. This is especially true in areas where there is a lot of distributed energy development.

“The grid was built for this one way flow of electricity. But as more customers decide to install generation in their homes, the way that the distribution grid operates is also going to change.”

Solar developers looking to connect their new generation source to the grid may trigger the need for a system upgrade. In most cases, whoever triggers a grid upgrade must pay the upgrade costs — which can be severe. Larger solar gardens are more likely to trigger upgrades. If a developer is surprised by these costs, and building their solar garden is no longer feasible, they may be forced to drop their plans entirely. Hosting capacity analysis can provide key grid information proactively for individuals hoping to plug in.

Hosting Capacity Analysis

In a hosting capacity analysis, utilities compile information about the electric grid and publish it online for the use of developers and other stakeholders. The resulting map has pop-ups with data on various localized grid conditions: how much generating capacity that section of the grid can still handle, the voltage of the line, and the existing generation on that part of the grid.

This information, which Zakai calls “geeky grid data,” helps customers and solar developers make decisions.

“The studies produce a wealth of information that developers can use to cite and design the systems so they don’t trigger upgrades. And in some cases they can even make the grid more reliable.”

Utilities in seven states are required to publish hosting capacity maps. Some utilities even publish this information voluntarily. Zakai says that generally, hosting capacity analysis is most common in states with robust distributed energy development, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York.

Image from Xcel Energy’s Hosting Capacity Map

Some Truth to California Exceptionalism

California’s hosting capacity analysis process, called integration capacity analysis, provides more useful information than the hosting capacity maps published in other states. This is thanks, in part, to a petition from Zakai and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). IREC asked the state of California to consider all kinds of interconnecting loads, including electric vehicle chargers, electric heat, and solar generating power, when implementing its integration capacity analysis. In January 2021, the California commission filed its petition to make changes to the analysis and its resulting map.

In California, grid users also uniquely share the cost of grid upgrades, rather than the typical ‘cost-causer pays’ model used in other states.

Automating & Simplifying the Interconnection Process

It is not possible to automate all new grid interconnections, says Zakai. Still, hosting capacity analysis could simplify many of the steps within this process. California is the first state in the country to try using hosting capacity analysis to reduce the complexity of the interconnection process.

“Hosting capacity analysis can be used to automate and increase the precision of some of the most problematic technical review processes that the utilities use when they evaluate new grid connections. Last fall, California became the first state in the country to make a final decision to use the hosting capacity analysis to automate some of these processes.”

Thanks to new rules adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission, solar developers can use the public hosting capacity maps to design and site projects with more certainty. As developers make more informed proposals, utilities will not waste resources reviewing projects that will never get built.


Read ILSR’s comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission detailing how Hosting Capacity Analysis Could Simplify Grid Interconnection for Distributed Energy Resources.


Episode Notes

See these resources for more behind the story:

For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.

Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.


This is episode 135 of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

Local Energy Rules is Produced by ILSR’s John Farrell and Maria McCoy. Audio engineering for this episode is by Drew Birschbach.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.


 



 


Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Continue Reading

Environment

Renault 5 already has 50K orders on its waitlist

Published

on

By

Renault 5 already has 50K orders on its waitlist

French automaker Renault is hoping it has a winner on its hands with the upcoming Renault 5 BEV, which the company says already has 50,000 orders on the waitlist just a few days after its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

The new compact electric vehicle, which officially goes on sale in May in Europe, starts at €25,000, about $27,130, which is thousands of euros cheaper than most competitors. Built in Northern France, the retro-inspired vehicle is Renault’s first all-new small EV since the famous Zoe hit the scene in 2014.

“We have a waiting list of 50,000 people,” Renault brand CEO Fabrice Cambolive told Automotive News Europe. “We will open orders in May, and we’ll start to deliver cars in September or October.” He also added that in 2023, 50% of Renault’s sales were retail and 50% were fleet, so he is expecting that 40% of Renault 5 sales will be fleet as well.

Renault 5 electric

The 5 E-Tech will become available in three different electric motor configurations, offering 70 kW, 90 kW, or 110 kW of power, and its max battery size of 52 kWh will deliver a WLTP range of up to 400 km (249 miles). It can even tow a trailer with a capacity of up to 500kg. The Renault 5 will also be available with a smaller battery at 40 kWH, with a 300 km range, but Cambolive says that version will launch a few months after the larger one. Two color options include Pop Yellow and Pop Green, as well as more classic options.

The new version of the Renault 5, which debuted last week at the Geneva Motor Show, is set to rival the Fiat 500e and Mini Electric, targeting the trendy, upmarket driver of small EVs, putting it one step above in price point to Renault’s recently revealed Twingo.

Cambolive told Automotive News Europe that the brand aims to bring its Zoe drivers over to the Renault 5, but doesn’t see the car in direct competition to the Clio, the second-best-selling car in Europe last year, which is available in a hybrid version but not all-electric.  

Renault 5 electric

“The ICE cars we are selling are mostly full-hybrid, so they are very efficient,” he said. “Regarding our EV strategy, we are going to continue our progress on cutting costs and transfer some of the gains to the cost of the car to have more competitiveness in the future. But even more than that, after launching two EVs in the C-segment [the Scenic and Megane compacts], we will make the shift to EVs in the B-segment thanks to the Renault 5 and the Renault 4 [a small SUV due in 2025.] The biggest volumes in the shift will come in the B-segment.”

In January, Renault canceled its planned IPO for its EV spinoff Ampere. While the IPO was scheduled for the first part of this year with an expected valuation of up to €10 billion ($10.47 billion), Renault says that market conditions aren’t optimal to make the move. Still, Ampere is offering a total of seven models by 2031: the electric Mégane E-Tech, Scenic, R5 and R4, and the new low-cost Twingo, which should cost less than €20,000 ($22,000).

Last week, Renault confirmed that it is in talks with Volkswagen to build a BEV minicar for the European market.

Renault plans to go purely electric by 2030 – and with the French government holding a 15% stake in the company.


If you’re an electric vehicle owner, charge up your car at home with rooftop solar panels. To make sure you find a trusted, reliable solar installer near you that offers competitive pricing on solar, check out EnergySage, a free service that makes it easy for you to go solar. They have hundreds of pre-vetted solar installers competing for your business, ensuring you get high quality solutions and save 20-30% compared to going it alone. Plus, it’s free to use and you won’t get sales calls until you select an installer and share your phone number with them. 

Your personalized solar quotes are easy to compare online and you’ll get access to unbiased Energy Advisers to help you every step of the way. Get started here.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Environment

BYD slashes price on its best-selling SUV to $16K to compete with gas cars

Published

on

By

BYD slashes price on its best-selling SUV to K to compete with gas cars

After recently reducing prices of its refreshed Han and Tang models, Build Your Dreams (BYD) just launched a new version of its top-selling EV Yuan Plus – known as the Atto 3 in overseas markets – to $16,644 in China, making it one of the lowest-priced EVs out there.

BYD has been targeting its home turf of China for its latest price-slashing strategy to continue its dominance in the world’s largest vehicle market, edging out both EV and ICE rivals with some of the lowest prices on EVs. The price war has already seen major deals on some of its best-selling EVs, with its brand-new Yuan Plus crossover now available at 11.8% cheaper than the final sale price of its predecessor, reports Reuters.

The Yuan Plus starts at 119,800 yuan ($16,644), BYD posted in Weibo. For comparison, the latest version of the Atto 3 in overseas markets starts in France at €46,690, or $50,650, which includes VAT. In Australia, the Atto 3 starts at $48,011 ($31,336), making that 85% higher than in China, Reuters reports.

For its newest update, the BYD Yuan Plus Honor Edition sees a few enhancements including a new black body color called Black Knight, with black chrome-plated rim. Dimensions are the same (4,455/1,875/1,615 mm) as the previous model with a wheelbase of 2,720 mm, so slightly smaller than a VW Tiguan. Its single electric motor is on the front axle for 150 kW and 310 Nm, and it’s powered by two LFP battery options from China’s FinDreams: 49.92 kWh for 430 km range and 60,48 kWH for 510 km range.

The vehicle is available in five trims, with the price of each trim reduced by 16,000 yuan ($2,200). That price puts the compact SUV at around the same price as ICE rivals including the Honda XR-V, the Buick Envision Plus, and the Volkswagen T-Cross.

Last year, BYD sold 412,202 Yuan Plus EVs, with 100,020 of them exported, or 42% of its total car exports for that year, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers states.

Of course, outside of China, there is no sign yet that we can expect to see any of these deals (and of course, BYD doesn’t sell cars in the US, not yet anyway). In China, BYD dominates a market jammed with more than 94 brands offering more than 300 EV models, according to Counterpoint Research.

However, Geely and BYD are making the biggest impact outside of China, too, with BYD pushing international growth with its plans to build an EV factory in Hungary and Mexico, and other automakers are looking to set up production in Europe as well. Chinese companies MG and Chery have also been scouting sites in Mexico and talking to officials for better access to the North American market, actions which have set off alarm bells in Washington.


If you’re an electric vehicle owner, charge up your car at home with rooftop solar panels. To make sure you find a trusted, reliable solar installer near you that offers competitive pricing on solar, check out EnergySage, a free service that makes it easy for you to go solar. They have hundreds of pre-vetted solar installers competing for your business, ensuring you get high quality solutions and save 20-30% compared to going it alone. Plus, it’s free to use and you won’t get sales calls until you select an installer and share your phone number with them. 

Your personalized solar quotes are easy to compare online and you’ll get access to unbiased Energy Advisers to help you every step of the way. Get started here.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Environment

The North Sea could become a ‘central storage camp’ for carbon waste. Not everyone likes the idea

Published

on

By

The North Sea could become a 'central storage camp' for carbon waste. Not everyone likes the idea

The receiving dock at the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project, controlled by Equinor ASA, Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE, at Blomoyna, Norway, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Norway’s government wants to show the world it is possible to safely inject and store carbon waste under the seabed, saying the North Sea could soon become a “central storage camp” for polluting industries across Europe.

Offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to a range of technologies that seek to capture carbon from high-emitting activities, transport it to a storage site and lock it away indefinitely under the seabed.

The oil and gas industry has long touted CCS as an effective tool in the fight against climate change and polluting industries are increasingly looking to offshore carbon storage as a way to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics, however, have warned about the long-term risks associated with permanently storing carbon beneath the seabed, while campaigners argue the technology represents “a new threat to the world’s oceans and a dangerous distraction from real progress on climate change.”

Norway’s Energy Minister Terje Aasland was bullish on the prospects of his country’s so-called Longship project, which he says will create a full, large-scale CCS value chain.

“I think it will prove to the world that this technology is important and available,” Aasland said via videoconference, referring to Longship’s CCS facility in the small coastal town of Brevik.

“I think the North Sea, where we can store CO2 permanently and safely, may be a central storage camp for several industries and countries and Europe,” he added.

Storage tanks at the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project, controlled by Equinor ASA, Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE, at Blomoyna, Norway, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Norway has a long history of carbon management. For nearly 30 years, it has captured and reinjected carbon from gas production into seabed formations on the Norwegian continental shelf.

It’s Sleipner and Snøhvit carbon management projects have been in operation since 1996 and 2008, respectively, and are often held up as proof of the technology’s viability. These facilities separate carbon from their respective produced gas, then compress and pipe the carbon and reinject it underground.

“We can see the increased interest in carbon capture storage as a solution and those who are skeptical to that kind of solution can come to Norway and see how we have done in at Sleipner and Snøhvit,” Norway’s Aasland said. “It’s several thousand meters under the seabed, it’s safe, it’s permanent and it’s a good way to tackle the climate emissions.”

Both Sleipner and Snøhvit projects incurred some teething problems, however, including interruptions during carbon injection.

Citing these issues in a research note last year, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a U.S.-based think tank, said that rather than serving as entirely successful models to be emulated and expanded, the problems “call into question the long-term technical and financial viability of the concept of reliable underground carbon storage.”

‘Overwhelming’ interest

Norway plans to develop the $2.6 billion Longship project in two phases. The first is designed to have an estimated storage capacity of 1.5 million metric tons of carbon annually over an operating period of 25 years — and carbon injections could start as early as next year. A possible second phase is predicted to have a capacity of 5 million tons of carbon.

Campaigners say that even with the planned second phase increasing the amount of carbon stored under the seabed by a substantial margin, “it remains a drop in the proverbial bucket.” Indeed, it is estimated that the carbon injected would amount to less than one-tenth of 1% of Europe’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 2021.

The government says Longship’s construction is “progressing well,” although Aasland conceded the project has been expensive.

“Every time we are bringing new technologies to the table and want to introduce it to the market, it is having high costs. So, this is the first of its kind, the next one will be cheaper and easier. We have learned a lot from the project and the development,” Aasland said.

“I think this will be quite a good project and we can show the world that it is possible to do it,” he added.

Workers at an entrance to the CO2 pipeline access tunnel at the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project, controlled by Equinor ASA, Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE, at Blomoyna, Norway, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A key component of Longship is the Northern Lights joint venture, a partnership between Norway’s state-backed oil and gas giant Equinor, Britain’s Shell and France’s TotalEnergies. The Northern Lights collaboration will manage the transport and storage part of Longship.

Børre Jacobsen, managing director for the Northern Lights Joint Venture, said it had received “overwhelming” interest in the project.

“There’s a long history of trying to get CCS going in one way or another in Norway and I think this culminated a few years ago in an attempt to learn from past successes — and not-so-big successes — to try and see how we can actually get CCS going,” Jacobsen told CNBC via videoconference.

Jacobsen said the North Sea was a typical example of a “huge basin” where there is a lot of storage potential, noting that offshore CCS has an advantage because no people live there.

A pier walkway at the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project, controlled by Equinor ASA, Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE, at Blomoyna, Norway, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“There is definitely a public acceptance risk to storing CO2 onshore. The technical solutions are very solid so any risk of leakage from these reservoirs is very small and can be managed but I think public perception is making it challenging to do this onshore,” Jacobsen said.

“And I think that is going to be the case to be honest which is why we are developing offshore storage,” he continued.

“Given the amount of CO2 that’s out there, I think it is very important that we recognize all potential storage. It shouldn’t actually matter, I think, where we store it. If the companies and the state that controls the area are OK with CO2 being stored on their continental shelves … it shouldn’t matter so much.”

Offshore carbon risks

A report published late last year by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington-based non-profit, found that offshore CCS is currently being pursued on an unprecedented scale.

As of mid-2023, companies and governments around the world had announced plans to construct more than 50 new offshore CCS projects, according to CIEL.

If built and operated as proposed, these projects would represent a 200-fold increase in the amount of carbon injected under the seafloor each year.

Nikki Reisch, director of the climate and energy program at CIEL, struck a somewhat cynical tone on the Norway proposition.

“Norway’s interpretation of the concept of a circular economy seems to say ‘we can both produce your problem, with fossil fuels, and solve it for you, with CCS,'” Reisch said.

“If you look closely under the hood at those projects, they’ve faced serious technical problems with the CO2 behaving in unanticipated ways. While they may not have had any reported leaks yet, there’s nothing to ensure that unpredictable behavior of the CO2 in a different location might not result in a rupture of the caprock or other release of the injected CO2.”

Continue Reading

Trending