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Expander Energy is a privately held industrial company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada focused on the production of biofuels from renewable resources.
Article | February 10, 2020
The rapid growth of corporate renewable procurement has been nothing short of a buyer-driven revolution in the United States’ electric sector. Almost 20 gigawatts (GWs) of corporate power purchasing agreements (PPAs) were completed in 2019 across the globe, up from 13 GWs of corporate PPAs in 2018 and triple the numbers from 2017.1,2 And the majority of this growth has come from the United States. Fortunately for those of us committed to renewable energy, we expect this trend to continue. But as should be expected in such a dynamic, buyer-driven sector, we are starting to see some noticeable shifts in the marketplace as it evolves and grows. I wanted to highlight some of the trends Constellation is watching for this year.
A growing number of homeowners in the United States are turning to renewable energy sources to provide power for their homes. Solar power systems only need sunlight to power your home and vehicle, recharge large battery systems, and still allow you to sell extra energy to your utility company. Wind power can perform the same functions by producing energy from wind-powered turbines. Both depend on often volatile forces of nature, but overall, solar panels provide more consistent energy. Solar panels don't include moving components, as wind production units do. These and other differences play important roles in deciding which renewable energy option is best for you.
As anyone familiar with the saga of the Spotsylvania solar project knows, an inherent difficulty in developing renewable energy projects comes in finding the right project location, both in terms of size and siting. This is one of the topics analyzed in a new report released by The Brookings Institute: “Renewables, land use, and local opposition in the United States.” It’s a hard fact that renewable generation uses more land than fossil fuel systems, with solar having slightly lower median land use than both on- and offshore-wind, despite a large variance in total land density values. While this presents an issue for renewable developers, the silver lining is that renewable energy can be sustained indefinitely on the same land base, while mines and wells will eventually run out. As a solution, the study recommends greater development on brownfields, as well as floating PV, though the authors do recognize the capped potential of floating PV at around 10% of current U.S. electricity generation.
Community solar programs have the potential to greatly expand the market for solar energy and make the benefits of solar more accessible. However, growth of this sector is currently inhibited by uncertainty in project delivery costs. We sat down with Dr. Joseph Goodman of the Rocky Mountain Institute to understand this challenge—and how detailed design modeling capabilities can help overcome this barrier.
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