ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar is the offer utilities can’t refuse
An offer utilities can't refuse: The low cost of utility-scale solar; Despite some policy uncertainty, large solar projects are now "competitive with coal and gas."
Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 9, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: In 2018, utilities and solar opened their “beautiful friendship” to a new BFF – battery energy storage.
New numbers show the "beautiful friendship" between utilities and solar is growing and bringing the U.S. power system's transition to higher renewables penetrations along. Contrary to the word from Washington, D.C., utility-scale renewables are not "badly behaved coal plants" that threaten grid reliability and national security, Seb Henbest, lead author of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance New Energy Outlook, wrote July 25. "By 2050, we're painting a picture of an electricity system utterly reshaped around cheap wind, solar and batteries." Wind and solar were 8.2% of U.S. generation in 2017, with wind at 6.3% and solar at 1.9%, and growth continued in 2018. U.S. grids are integrating record levels of renewables without disruption.
Investors say "phenomenally abundant" renewables could support a trillion-dollar U.S. market by 2030 and solar will play a key part, according to an April American Council on Renewable Energy survey. Utilities are seeing the opportunity and responding, according to the 2018 Utility Solar Market Snapshot released in July by the SEPA. Utilities have long played a central role in U.S. wind growth, which has more than tripled since 2007 to reach over 95 GW of cumulative installed capacity. In the same time period, utilities additions of solar neared 50 GW. Solar prices have been slower to reach competitive levels than wind prices, but utilities are responding to the new low prices quickly. In the Southeast, where solar growth has historically been slowest, some large utilities have seizing the solar opportunity… click here for more
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