Solar energy project

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Brian Hammer thought he and his wife would retire to the abandoned Lucerne Valley farmhouse they bought nearly a decade ago in the rural high desert northeast of Los Angeles. They paid the full $55,000 asking price, then rehabbed the house themselves, stripping it down and installing new wiring, plumbing and appliances.

Now Hammer worries all that time and money were wasted.

An energy developer is planning to build a 483-acre solar farm that Hammer says would come within a few dozen feet of his house. He doesn’t want to live next to an industrial energy project, which he says would destroy the area’s rural character, fuel dust storms and harm the Mojave Desert ecology. Those are common concerns among residents of rural San Bernardino County, who have been fighting for years to block large solar farms even as California ramps up its renewable energy targets.

“It’s been soul-crushing to think that our blood, sweat and tears were poured into this, and it can be taken away with the disturbance of the land,” Hammer said as he stood in the yard behind the house, trying to imagine how a field of solar panels beyond his fence would affect the 360-degree views of a valley ringed by mountains.

A county spokesman said the proposal, known as Renewable Energy Policy 4.10, would block new solar and wind farms on slightly more than 1 million acres, out of nearly 2 million acres governed by the county. But Tim Mason, policy director for the Large-scale Solar Assn., said one solar company estimates the amount of “developable” land across the county — taking into account on-the-ground conditions and existing restrictions on federal lands — would decrease to 90,000 acres under the new policy from 360,000 acres, in a county of nearly 13 million acres.

California is aiming for 100% renewable energy. But San Bernardino County may adopt new regulations strictly limiting big solar farms. Solar power projects are the most interesting projects and we are all well aware of the way that they are helpful in our real life also. Solar water heater, solar cooker, sun tracking solar panel, solar powered refrigerator, etc. are some of the best examples for solar energy projects.

Five companies, including Bloomberg, Gap, Salesforce, software vendor Workday and media and automotive services company Cox Enterprises, recently announced a jointly negotiated solar agreement for 42.5 megawatts of renewables, a move the companies say is a “blueprint for renewable energy aggregation.”

While aggregation deals are not new — Apple joined with Akamai, Swiss Re and Etsy in 2018 on 290 megawatts, for instance — the agreement announced this month is unique because of the small capacity signed for by each offtaker. Instead of one anchor tenant accounting for a majority of the agreement and smaller companies squeezing into the deal, all of the offtakers secured between 5 and 10 megawatts.
Because due diligence and project logistics generally cost the same no matter the size of the project, economies of scale help make projects cheaper. Big buyers like tech companies have the balance sheets and electricity demand for those large deals. But Zanchi said expecting an anchor tenant to tack smaller companies onto a project, like with the Apple deal, could be unsustainable.

Because due diligence and project logistics generally cost the same no matter the size of the project, economies of scale help make projects cheaper. Big buyers like tech companies have the balance sheets and electricity demand for those large deals. But Zanchi said expecting an anchor tenant to tack smaller companies onto a project, like with the Apple deal, could be unsustainable.

Consortiums like the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, which is supported by RMI, as well as the World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund and Business for Social Responsibility, are also working to make more resources available to corporates.

“We are all so fortunate for the efforts that the Microsofts of the world have made and the paths they have cleared for other buyers,” said Smith. “But if we can’t create structures that allow the easy participation from that long tail of C&I buyers, we miss a real opportunity.”

Sources:

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-san-bernardino-solar-wind-20190227-story.html

https://www.autobreakingnews.com/2019/02/californias-biggest-county-could-severely-restrict-solar-energy-projects

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/bloomberg-gap-salesforce-aggregation-solar-deal#gs.iLeMmXQl

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Al-Amin Farazi

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