Also on the rise: Concentric Power is building a microgrid, the effects of smoke on solar performance in 2020 are being studied, SolRiver is buying a Carolinas development portfolio, job growth could mean good times for solar systems, and Plug Power is planning another green hydrogen plant.
March 31, 2021
Eight Republican senators passed a law banning the use of federal funds to purchase solar panels or related equipment from China.
A statement from the office by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) said that under the “Keep China Away From Solar Energy” law, the director of the Bureau of Administration and Budget would require the development of “standards and guidelines” banning federal funding use to purchase solar panels made or assembled by “companies affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party”; – calling on the US auditor to submit a report to Congress on the number of solar panels procured by federal departments and agencies; and call on the director of the Office of Management and Budget to examine the domestic solar panel manufacturing market, as well as the global solar panel manufacturing supply chain and workforce.
Scott was supported by Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Josh in introducing the bill supports Hawley (R-MO) and John Barrasso (R-WY). The senators cited concerns about alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China.
In February, the House of Representatives reintroduced a bipartisan law banning imports from China's Xinjiang region unless confirmed that they are not made using forced labor and allowing further sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for alleged abuses against Muslims are. The bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled House last year but remained in the Senate, which was Republican-controlled at the time.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) set its member companies a deadline in June to relocate the supply chains from the conflict region.
Microgrid for potato growers
Concentric force builds a USD 12.0 million 5.0 MW microgrid for a California-based potato grower, packing, and shipping operation.
The microgrid comprises the generation, distribution and storage of energy and offers stand-alone functions for continued operation in the event of a power failure within the broader supply network. The project is expected to be completed in the third quarter. As planned, it will include 3.6 MW cogeneration, 120 kW solar and 1.25 MW / 625 kWh lithium-ion battery storage.
Smoke and sun don't mix
That was last year most active forest fire season in recent history in Oregon, California and Washington, as measured by burned mornings and fire detections, according to an analysis by SolarAnywhere researchers Patrick Keelin and Marc Perez. Smoke particles and, more generally, aerosols in the atmosphere reduce the solar radiation available for solar production.
Smoke and ash particles influence solar production.
Image: NSF / Wikimedia Commons / Rennett Stowe
The researchers said that a recent study in the CAISO (California Independent System Operator) area found solar-powered generation decreased by 13, year over year in the first two weeks of September 2020 – a time when California was heavily affected by forest fire smoke. 4% decreased despite an increase in overall system capacity.
They said Clean Power Research's analysis quantified the effects of forest fire smoke on solar powered generation. When the North American forest fires peaked in September 2020, sunlight was visibly dimmed in large parts of the region by aerosols. The total sunlight for the month has been reduced by up to 20% in some locations. These included California's Central Valley and parts of the Columbia River Basin (including Portland and Bend) that were hardest hit by smoke.
Sale of the development portfolio
SolRiver Capital bought a 45 MW solar development portfolio in the Carolinas from Birdseye Renewable Energy, the second such deal between the two. The first project in North Carolina was completed last year. With the most recent purchase, SolRiver will finance, build, own and operate its portfolio of solar projects. Overall, this is the fifth acquisition for SolRiver in the Carolinas.
The latest Paychex | IHS Markit Business Employment Watch shows Employment growth spiked in all US regions and nearly all states and metropolitan areas in March that have been analyzed. The Small Business Jobs Index rose to 94.25 in March. While the index remains 4.03% below its March 2020 level, the measured increase of 0.30% was the “most significant one-month gain since 2013”.
Employment growth improved in all parts of the United States as well as in 18 of the 20 states and 16 of the 20 metros analyzed.
Image: NREL / Dennis Schroeder
Another leading indicator of economic strength, hourly wages, reached 2.98% in the fourth month of growth. Weekly income also rose to 3.58%, due to the growth in weekly working hours, according to the report.
The March report also showed that employment growth has improved in all parts of the US, as well as in 18 of the 20 states and 16 of the 20 metros analyzed. The South, in particular, led all regions in small business job growth, and Florida remained the top state for job growth. The promising job report could lead to an increase in orders for solar developers and installers.
More green hydrogen
Plug Power and Brookfield Renewable Partners are planning to build one Pennsylvania green hydrogen production facility That will consume energy from Brookfield Renewable's Holtwood Hydroelectric Power Station. Green hydrogen from this plant is used in the transport and logistics sector in the northeast and in the mid-Atlantic. The plant is expected to be in operation at the end of 2022. Construction is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022. After commissioning, the plant is expected to produce around 15 tons of liquid hydrogen per day.
Plug Power recently announced the construction of a green hydrogen production facility and substation in the Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in West New York, which will be the first connection to the company's North American green hydrogen production network at an existing facility in Tennessee were.
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