Plunging cost of wind and solar marks turning point in energy transition: IRENA

LONDON (Reuters) - Plunging costs of renewables mark a turning point in a global transition to low-carbon energy, with new solar or wind farms increasingly cheaper to build than running existing coal plants, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the attractive prices of renewables relative to fossil fuel power generation could help governments embrace green economic recoveries from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full article at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-renewables-costs/plunging-cost-of-wind-and-solar-marks-turning-point-in-energy-transition-irena-idUSKBN2390I8

Benchmarking Utility-Scale PV Operational Expenses and Project Lifetimes

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has published an interesting paper based on a survey of solar industry professionals and other sources to clarify trends in the expected useful life and operational expenditure (OpEx) of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) plants in the United States.

Solar project developers, sponsors, long-term owners, and consultants have increased project-life assumptions over time, from an average of ~21.5 years in 2007 to ~32.5 years in 2019. Current assumptions range from 25 years to more than 35 years depending on the organization; 17 out of 19 organizations surveyed or reviewed use 30 years or more.

Levelized, lifetime OpEx estimates have declined from an average of ~$35/kWDC-yr for projects built in 2007 to an average of ~$17/kWDC-yr in 2019. Across 13 sources, the range in average lifetime OpEx for projects built in 2019 is broad, from $13 to $25/kWDC-yr. Operations and maintenance (O&M) costs—one component of OpEx—have declined precipitously in recent years, to $5-8/kWDC-yr in many cases. Property taxes and land lease costs are highly variable across sites, but on average are—together—of similar magnitude. Other OpEx line items include security, insurance, and asset management.

The paper is available at: https://eta-publications.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/solar_life_and_opex_report.pdf

Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities

Update July 30, 2020: 

When the Arizona utility regulators met to decide these issues they deadlocked over whether they should increase the state's requirements for renewable energy. It proved not possible to obtain the agreement of at least three commissioners, the meeting was adjourned.

See the Arizona Republic article on this:  Arizona utility regulators hit roadblock on clean-energy rules, abruptly end meeting.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has released the Notice of Final Rulemaking Interconnection of Distributed Generation FacilitiesInterconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities document.

With this rulemaking, the Commission adds a new Article 26, entitled " Interconnection. of Distributed Generation Facilities" to 14 A.A.C. 2, the Chapter containing the Commission's rules for fixed utilities, with the new Article 26 including 28 new rules. The rules for Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities ("DGI Rules") establish mandatory technical standards, processes, and timelines for utilities to use for· interconnection and parallel operation of different types of distributed generation ("DG") facilities; customer and utility rights and responsibilities; provisions for disconnection of DG facilities from the distribution system; specific safety requirements; more flexible standards for electric cooperatives; a reporting requirement; and a requirement for each utility to create, submit for initial approval and submit for approval periodically and when revised, and implement and comply with a Commission-approved Interconnection Manual.

The first dozen pages are basically legal stuff.  The document defines how an utility must review, then accept/reject/etc. an application to connect distributed generation to the utility.  It defines both customer rights and utility procedures.  There are a lot of utility, installer and customer comments along with the ACC staff recomendations.