India, California Set Renewable Energy Records
Two of the world’s biggest economies, India and California, both reported big renewable energy breakthroughs last week, with each of them logging multiple gigawatts of increased electricity generation capacity.
India said it had added nearly 11.8 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity between April 2017 and March 2018, more than double the total for coal and hydroelectricity combined over the same period, Quartz reports. California set a new record for peak utility-scale solar generation in late April, at more than 10.5 GW, even as the state’s Independent System Operator (CISO) cut back on potential solar output to accommodate hydro and nuclear stations running at full capacity, according to PV Magazine.
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In India, “the numbers are in sync with the Narendra Modi government’s plan to promote renewable power, targeting capacity additions of 175,000 MW from renewable sources by 2022,” Quartz notes. But “new capacity in major sectors like wind and solar power has fallen short of targets. Instead, it is energy sources like small hydro, waste-to-energy, and biomass that have picked up pace, and even surpassed the annual targets set by the government.”
The country’s wind industry delivered only 1,700 MW of new capacity, less than half of the 4,000-MW target for the year. However, “this was predominantly due to issues with the implementation of a policy change that the government introduced in 2017,” Quartz states. “The problems have since been fixed, and the sector is getting back on its feet.” Solar just barely hit its 9,000-MW target, revised downward from 15,000, during “a rough year due to policy uncertainties and fewer government tenders for setting up solar power projects.”
Waste-to-energy delivered 24 MW of new capacity, well above its 10-MW target.
Meanwhile, California “blew through a series of peak solar and renewable energy generation records,” PV Magazine notes, “showing not only the increasing potential of the state to run on renewable energy, but also the work remaining to be done.” Utility-scale solar exceeded 10,500 MW twice—on Thursday and Saturday, April 26 and 28. The state also recorded renewables supplying a record 73% of total demand, with 64% coming from wind and solar.
“What is even more remarkable is that this does not even count all of the solar. California had an estimated 6.6 GW of behind-the-meter solar as of the end of January 2018, which is not reflected in California ISO output data,” PV Magazine notes.
The industry journal says California is doing a better job of cutting back on natural gas consumption and electricity imports when renewable generation is at its peak. “However, the state is showing less flexibility in other resources. Hydroelectric plants only reduced output slightly, falling to 2.3 GW during the middle of the day from 3.2 GW overnight. The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant continued to run full bore, producing another 2.3 GW continuously.”