California and the Southwest Excel in New Ranking of Top Performing Solar Projects

A new analysis from kWh Analytics provides a benchmark for solar project output around the country.

Originally posted on Greentech Media.

A first of its kind dataset from kWh Analytics ranking production at individual solar power plants around the country, indicates that California and the Southwest still have the upper hand in solar energy output.

California in particular far outpaced any competition. Among the top ten solar states by highest performing projects, 43 of the 70 plants were located in California.

Those results are not entirely surprising, but MJ Shiao, global lead of renewables and emerging technology at Wood Mackenzie, said the transparency behind sharing the data is a boon to the industry.

“While you can look at these results and say that they’re pretty obvious, i.e. single-axis trackers in high insolation areas produce best, I think the real accomplishment is having a single platform to host and compare real performance — and being willing to share that with the industry,” he said. “More transparency into actual asset performance across multiple owners and project types is welcome and necessary to ensure that solar continues to actualize its promise as a long-term clean energy generation source.”

kWh Analytics and partner the Solar Finance Council said the report could increase investor confidence in project finance, as well as offer operators and developers concrete benchmarks to meet industry standards.

“The solar industry has grown tremendously, and our understanding of asset performance must grow as well,” said Mike Mendelsohn, executive director at the newly-formed Solar Finance Council. “This report provides investors critical insight on solar technology performance and can help lower the cost of capital for the broad solar sector.”

Areas favored in the rankings obviously get more annual sunlight than northern regions in the United States and Shiao said he would have liked to see adjustments for insolation. A further breakdown by region did offer some insight on the top-performing projects located around the country.

In the Northwest, Oregon claimed four of five top-performing projects. In the Midwest, Indiana came away with six of ten top-performing projects. And all of the top-performing projects in the Northeast were located in New Jersey.

kWh Analytics also divided the rankings between tracker and fixed-tilt, because trackers can increase a facility’s yield by 20 percent.

According to the analysis, the top-producing tracker projects produced at least 2,180 megawatts-hour/megawatt peak, while the top fixed-tilt projects produced a minimum of just 1,500 megawatt-hour/megawatt peak. The use of trackers remains more common in the Southwest and South, offering those projects an edge in output.

 Source: kWh Analytics

While the Southwest dominated in both tracker and fixed-tilt project output, the spread was more evenly shared with the South for fixed-tilt projects.

 Source: kWh Analytics

The report is the first from the Solar Finance Council, which announced its formation just last week. It cited a mission to lower the cost of capital and encourage new investors in the solar space.

In the announcement of the group’s formation, Mendelsohn — previously of the Solar Energy Industries Association — said “the industry needs to find new and larger sources of capital, and to do so, improve investor confidence that solar assets produce energy and long-term cash flows as originally projected.”

The Solar Finance Council said it would help achieve these goals through research and data distribution, so it’s likely more partnerships are to come.

“To meet the extraordinary challenge before us, solar needs to be on every rooftop in the country,” said Mendelsohn in a statement. “That is going to require a lot of investment capital as well as critical cost reductions through improvements in consistency and quality in project development. The SFC is designed to facilitate the cross-functional industry organization necessary to make that happen.”

kWh Analytics and Solar Finance Council Release the Industry’s First ‘Asset League Tables’

Featured coverage: Greentech Media, Solar Power World.

To highlight accomplishments in the solar industry, avail stakeholders of quality performance benchmarks, and encourage adoption of data best practices, kWh Analytics partnered with the Solar Finance Council to present the industry’s first “Asset League Tables” report, published today.

Drawing from kWh Analytics’ data repository, this report includes an overview of solar project performance, performance benchmarks, and an alphabetized list of the industry’s top performing solar projects at both the national and regional levels.

Download the complete report here: http://www.kwhanalytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Solar-Asset-League-Tables-May-2018-Final.pdf

The Asset League Tables will be refreshed later this year to reflect updated data. While we make our best efforts to include all assets in our evaluation for inclusion in the Asset League Tables, there are projects for which we have incomplete data or are missing data altogether. To ensure all projects are provided an opportunity for inclusion in the Asset League Tables, sponsors are encouraged to submit projects with 2017 production data for evaluation. From now until July 2nd, sponsors should contact leaguetables@kwhanalytics.com in order to: 1. Verify that the kWh Analytics’ data record of their assets is accurate and complete, or 2. Submit performance data for review and inclusion in the updated Asset League Tables. As an additional incentive, all sponsors that submit projects for review will be provided more detailed benchmarking against the entire, anonymized data set. Only the top performing assets will be highlighted in the next revision of the Asset League Tables.

The submission file can be found here: Solar-Asset-League-Tables-data-submission

kWh Analytics tracks $8 billion in U.S. solar deals so far in 2018

Originally posted on pv magazine USA. The Spring DealFlow report from kWh Analytics highlighted 17 Asset Transactions and 19 Asset Financings deals year to date.

kWh Analytics Spring 2018 DealFlow available here.

If solar and wind are going to scale to supply most of the power on the U.S. power grid, they are going to need massive sums of capital. And we are starting to see evidence of that scaling.

One piece of evidence is a high rate of increase in the amount of electricity coming from solar power. In 2017 we saw total electricity delivered by solar photovoltaics increase by 43% year-over-year. Another piece of evidence is the sheer volume of investment. Globally, we saw 7.7 GW of assets change hands in Q1’2018.

Focused on the United States, the kWh Analytics’ Spring DealFlow Report gives high-level details on 36 projects that have closed since the start of 2018. 17 of the projects are characterized as asset transactions and 19 projects as asset financings. The 21 projects that disclosed financials represented more than $8 billion in deals.

A majority of the asset transactions did not disclose financials, and truly, browsing the list is really a who’s-who of solar developing. NextEra and NRG topped the list with big deals selling off large asset portfolios. SunPower managed to squeak a 918 kW onto the list as well.

While some might consider New York State’s projected $1.4 billion from a future 22 projects to be delivered by 2022 a bit far out to be considered on this list, it may be appropriate as the bids are due by October of this year and companies have already spent money on developing at least some of the sites that will land contracts.

Along with Governor Cuomo’s contributions are 18 other projects, some of which are shown above, with close to $4 billion in funding. Some of these investments were covered by pv magazine, such as Dividend, Ares and Sunlight.

Some estimates suggest the world needs to see $1 trillion per year in clean energy investment to stave off a 2°C increase in global temperatures. We have a long way to go, and it is the rate of scaling that will be critical.