Susan Kraemer's Comments

January 28, 2015

Solar Outlook 2015: Still Growing, But No Longer Energy’s Young Kid

I think you assume this sharp rise will continue.

First, you do it by underestimating the effect of the California 33% by 2020 mandate that has ratcheted up all the big solar - 550 MW for example - that has sharply increased solar penetration. Big solar in California accounts for much of the solar numbers you cite.

However, a look at new PPAs signed this year shows there is now a very sharp drop in big solar PPAs, because CA utilities have now met their 33% requirement. They are not signing more.

Gov Brown did not mandate a higher RPS than 33%. All the talk of 50% was not enshrined in regulation as it needs to be.

There will be no new big > 500 MW projects as the 30% ITC won't get expanded. Republicans control both houses and may continue to even after a Clinton presidency, due to gerrymandering, so it may never come back.

In the same way, rooftop still accounts for less than 1/2 a percent of US households. Once the ITC drops in 2017, it will be over. 30% off is a big incentive. With Republican governors now installed in most states, state incentives will not pick up the slack.

I think the solar industry is way too complacent about the very dire future without more incentives or mandates like a higher RPS.

November 09, 2014

US Midyear Elections Offer Opportunities and Challenges for Renewable Energy

I agree with James. You have to judge based on actions, not words on websites.

These Republicans are doing nothing to advance clean energy, and some like Susanna Martinez have actively worked to prevent it, in her case by pulling out of the western regional greenhouse gas cap and trade plan her predecessor had signed on to.

The one exception is the excellent Republican governor of Iowa, who has indeed created a miracle with wind power for his state. Wish there were others.

October 24, 2014

California’s Conservation Proposal Kneecaps Utility-scale Solar

Yes Brian, actually DRECP does expect that rooftop solar distributed generation will provide most of the renewables California will need. But it's not their job to permit if someone can put solar on their roof, so these 4 agencies don't deal with DG.

However, DRECP's very careful and well researched assessment (8,000 pages) during the past five years is that we do need to ALSO have some big scale solar.

--and of course wind, which cannot be DG at all: little home wind is totally inefficient. Big solar is more efficient than rooftop as well, but a rooftop is enough to power a home so it doesn't really matter.

So the wind industry simply wouldn't exist in California if it gets chased off wide open spaces.

The question was, should renewables be allowed on public lands like oil and gas have been since the 1920s. Obama put the first ever big solar and wind projects on BLM land, but NIMBYs - and others just opposed to renewable energy - are fighting back and making it impossible.

So this was a more careful approach to see a way to avoid the opposition by bending to everyone else's needs first, not just conservation, but military space, recreation areas, off road vehicle people, etc, etc.

But from everyone I talked to, it bends too far.

October 24, 2014

California’s Conservation Proposal Kneecaps Utility-scale Solar

Well, you will like part of DRECP then, Brian.The land available for solar and wind was cut by two thirds.

October 25, 2014

California’s Conservation Proposal Kneecaps Utility-scale Solar

Barry, yes, actually, one important and very useful aspect of DRECP was precisely on siting near transmission lines. Sorry I forgot to mention it.

October 25, 2014

California’s Conservation Proposal Kneecaps Utility-scale Solar

Brian, (I don't have any clients: I am just a writer)

Wind farms don't fit on a CostCo roof and wind resources are typically greater where people don't live (people didn't pick windy places to settle and grow into cities).

CSP is also not possible in the city: it needs high desert DNI. We need to allow that technology to develop past these first 2 or 3 projects in order to get costs down like PV has, because CSP is the potential night time renewable because of the thermal storage. It is how we can stop fracking up the ground under us to destroy our climate with gas.

We need all the renewables.

October 26, 2014

SEIA Launches New Campaign to Extend Solar Investment Tax Credit

Clean energy should demand a level playing field with dirty energy - 50% ITC - and permanent.

The tax credits for fossil energy are permanently embedded in the tax code, they never expire - oil refineries refining the Keystone pipeline types of oil get a 50% ITC - it is permanent.

If the most dangerous industry in human history gets a 50% ITC for ever, why should an industry with a solution to climate change lose its 30% ITC after just 5 years?

September 05, 2014

For the Birds: How Speculation Trumped Fact at Ivanpah

Steve Frazer - 'I cringe at the loss of hawks, falcons and eagles '

No, the dead birds (or the feather clusters left behind by scavengers) tallied on the site by H.T. Harvey & Associates - who used several teams of dogs and their handlers to search - did not include predators like hawks, falcons or eagles, as I recall from the pdf list.You could check it in the link.

Most were individual members of small species. The largest number of any one group were various kinds of hummingbirds and various kinds of sparrows, with about ten each. Both are small and at least hummingbirds tend to hover. These were close to the tower.

BrightSource engineers have been working with Sandia National Laboratory since April on designing a new algorithm to alter the direction of the mirrors when in standby, so that they no longer create focused reflected sunlight near the tower when they are not needed.

They have been testing this beginning in summer. By scattering the light, it now is reducing the visual nuisance of glare but also reducing the danger of focused solar flux hitting a bird rather than the tower (where it is needed to make steam).

September 05, 2014

For the Birds: How Speculation Trumped Fact at Ivanpah

Mirrors are cheap, though, and it is not like they are polluting anything just sitting waiting their moment in the sun!

September 06, 2014

For the Birds: How Speculation Trumped Fact at Ivanpah

'other hours, it burns gas' makes it sound like a hybrid CSP/gas plant, ie using sunlight by day, gas by night.

But Ivanpah does not use any gas to generate electricity. It is not a CSP-hybrid.

CSP plants can be hybrids - solar thermal can be attached onto a coal plant even, since the back end - turbines turned by steam - is the same. Using partly solar energy, hybrids reduce the emissions of gas or coal plants.

By contrast, a pure CSP plant like Ivanpah can use a little power to idle the machinery overnight - to prevent damage of stops and starts - and to start up again in the morning.

At Ivanpah, as part of the morning machinery start up, it uses gas for this purpose, since this project included no thermal storage.

But CSP with storage can use its own stored thermal energy instead of grid electricity or gas for this morning startup. Solana, that began shipping CSP power last year in Arizona does this.

The off taker, APS, told me that they use a small part of their storage for that so they don't need grid electricity or gas for that morning startup. It's not a lot of energy though.

The second tower unit of the Palen project proposes to use its own thermal storage for the start up. SolarReserve's Rice project, which was permitted earlier, and Crescent Dunes which will be on line in Nevada next spring, also use their own thermal storage for that overnight machine idling and morning start up.

February 13, 2014

Go-Time for Solar CSP: Ivanpah, Crescent Dunes Switch On

What very nice reporting. It was frustrating to read reports that were clearly inconsistent; that Ivanpah WAS on, but that it WASN'T powering the grid as you'd expect.

Now the mystery is solved.

Susan Kraemer

Susan Kraemer

Susan Kraemer reports on renewable energy for CSP Today, Wind Energy Update, PV Insider and Renewable Energy World, and has written about renewables for Cleantechnica, Green Prophet and other sites.

Total Access Partners

Growing Your Business? Learn More about Total Access