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Solar news: September 20th, 2019

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In this week’s Solar News Roundup, the U.S. utility solar pipeline hits a new high watermark, and California boosts battery incentives for homes vulnerable to wildfire-caused power outages.

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U.S. utility solar pipeline hits an all-time high of 37.9 GW

In the first half of 2019, the pipeline of announced utility-scale PV projects added 11.2 gigawatts (GW), ballooning the current pipeline to a historic high of 37.9 GW. A main driver of this pipeline growth is corporate solar procurements – according to the cited report (from SEIA and Wood Mackenzie), off-site corporate procurements represent 17 percent of new utility-scale capacity announced this year so far.

“As more companies commit to 100 percent renewable power, corporate off-site procurement is expected to drive more than 20 percent of new utility-scale capacity additions from 2019 through 2024,” said Colin Smith, senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “Cities, states and utilities are already following through on their renewable energy and zero-carbon commitments. We’re starting to see procurement occur and expect even more RPS-driven procurement in the near- to mid-term.”

Total U.S. solar PV capacity is expected to more than double over the next five years, reaching 17.6 GW of annual installations by 2021.

California passes the first-ever subsidy for energy storage in fire risk areas

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved changes to the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) that adds a $100 million carve-out specifically meant for vulnerable households in “high fire threat districts”. The subsidy ends up at $1 per watt, which offsets 98 percent of a typical Tesla Powerwall residential installation. 

The subsidy is meant to help property owners at risk of harm in the event of a grid power outage, either directly due to wildfire or as a result of a planned shutdown as part of California’s wildfire prevention measures. Importantly, the subsidy is only for “SGIP critical resiliency needs” customers, which likely will include people who meet the low-income/disadvantaged criteria or are customers with a medical condition that could become life-threatening if electricity is shut off.

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About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he focuses primarily on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

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