For the first time, U.S. electrical generating capacity by renewable energy sources – biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind – has surpassed that of coal, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of new data from FERC. The agency's latest monthly report – with data through April 30 – notes that 18 “units” of new wind capacity (1,545 megawatts) and 102 units of new solar capacity (1,473 megawatts) were added during the first four months of this year. Coupled with four units of new hydropower (29 megawatts), that was enough to push renewable energy’s share of total available installed U.S. generating capacity up to 21.56 percent. By comparison, coal’s share dropped to 21.55 percent (down from 23.04 percent a year ago).
Officials said in a filing that the U.S. Trade Representative will publish a Section 201 tariff exclusion for bifacial modules, which absorb sunlight on both sides. The decision marks the second round of exemptions the U.S. has granted since the Trump administration's January 2018 imposition of 30 percent tariffs on most imported solar cells and modules. The first exclusion seemed largely designed to benefit U.S.-based SunPower, which acquired Section 201 petitioner SolarWorld Americas in April 2018. But the impact of this second round of exclusions is harder to gauge. Bifacial modules represent less than 1 percent of global solar installations today and their track record is thin, but with a substantially higher efficiency than traditional modules, they are gaining traction in a number of markets, including the U.S.
The U.S. Navy is seeking ideas to improve water and energy resilience for bases on two islands off the coast of California: San Clemente and San Nicolas. The islands already use various distributed energy resources, including solar, wind, and diesel generators. The request is not a solicitation for contracts, but seeks information to help the Navy determine strategy for the facilities, leading to possible future solicitations. The Navy hopes to collaborate with private industry “to develop holistic energy and water solutions” on the islands, according to the white paper request.