Solar pipelines soar in new global markets; US lawmakers call for 30% ITC extension

Our pick of the latest solar news you need to know.

Global solar build is spreading rapidly into new markets

Global solar deployment is set to rapidly diversify in the coming years as an increasing number of countries roll out multi-gigawatt construction pipelines, according to a new report from Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables.

Global solar installations are forecast to rise by 17.5% in 2019 to 114.5 GW, WoodMac said in its report, ‘Global solar PV market outlook update Q2 2019.’ Annual installations are set to rise to 127 GW in 2020 and remain around that level in the following years.

By 2022, some 19 countries are forecast to install between 1 and 5 GW of solar power per year, compared with just seven countries in 2018, WoodMac said. New growth markets include Saudi Arabia, France and Taiwan, it said.

European markets will feature heavily in this list as countries look to deliver on European Union (EU) renewable energy commitments.

 Global solar markets by annual installations

                               (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables, July 2019.

US lawmakers file bill to extend 30% ITC for five years

U.S. lawmakers filed bipartisan bills July 25 which would extend the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar power at 30% for a further five years.

Filed to the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Renewable Energy Extension Act calls for the extension of tax credits to support clean energy investments in the coming years.

The ITC is currently set at 30% for projects which start construction by 2019 and steps down to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and 10% from 2022.

                              US PV installation forecast by segment

                                                             (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables, March 2019.

“This tax credit is a key part of increasing the use of clean energy technologies and it helps our environment," Mike Thompson, a Democrat representative in California and proponent of the bill, said in a statement. "And we know it works, the ITC produced billions in investment last year alone and I’m proud to introduce this important bill to help green our tax code today.”

Georgia doubles solar procurement to 2.2 GW

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered Georgia Power to procure 2.2 GW of solar power by 2022, more than double the 1 GW initially proposed by the utility.

The solar procurement forms part of Georgia Power's three-year Integrated Resource Plan, finalized by the PSC on July 16.

The new procurement will include 2 GW of utility-scale solar projects, half of which will be allocated for commercial and industrial (C&I) end-users.

Georgia had an installed solar capacity of 1.6 GW at the end of Q1 2019, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

Installed renewable energy capacity-- mostly solar power-- is forecast to rise to 2.4 GW by the end of this year, the PSC said. New PV plants online this year include Invenergy's 160 MW Southern Oak bifacial panel project.

      Georgia Power generation mix summer 2019

DSO=Demand-side options

Source: Georgia Power 2019 Integrated Resource Plan

The PSC also directed Georgia Power to increase its energy efficiency targets for residential and commercial customers by 15% and develop a pilot grid project which uses lithium-ion batteries for the fast charging of electric vehicles.

"The goals of the pilot are to keep fast charging of clean electric vehicles affordable and insulate the grid from spikes in electricity demand," the PSC said.

National Grid buys US renewables developer Geronimo for $100 million

Power and gas utility National Grid has completed its $100 million acquisition of U.S. renewable energy developer Geronimo Energy.

Based in Minneapolis, Geronimo has developed over 2.2 GW of solar and wind projects currently in operation or under construction. Geronimo's project pipeline includes projects at various stages of development throughout the US.

National Grid has also agreed to pay $125 million for a 51% controlling share in 379 MW of solar and wind projects Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) had purchased from Geronimo. WSIB will retain 49% ownership in a joint venture signed with National Grid.

One of the world's largest investor-owned utilities, National Grid owns and operates power and gas distribution assets in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as power and gas transmission assets in the UK. The acquisition of Geronimo was made through National Grid Ventures (NGV), the utility's competitive non-regulated business.

“Today’s announcement underscores National Grid’s commitment to the decarbonization of our energy system. We believe in the long-term growth potential of renewable generation, driven by consumer demand and technological advances,” Badar Khan, president of NGV, said.

“With our joint expertise, we have an exciting opportunity to grow our project portfolio, expand upon our commitments to project host communities and landowners, and offer our customers increasingly high quality, competitive renewable generation,” Blake Nixon, CEO of Geronimo Energy, said.

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