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Utility Scale – Solar and Wind Development

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Solar and wind technologies are becoming increasingly attractive resources in today’s electricity environment, where electric rates are increasing and carbon policies are beginning to alter the energy landscape. Significant downward pressure on photo voltaic panel pricing and continued efficiency improvements in concentrating solar technology allows solar power to be very competitive in the energy market during the “on-peak” periods of the day. These peak power generation periods are the portion off the day when utilities must meet their highest demand, and in the absence of solar generation, they would face the need to fire up their least-efficient, most costly generators. The solar technology landscape is changing rapidly, offering utility companies opportunities for innovation and dramatic cost improvements.

How many Solar Energy Technologies are there?

Solar energy technologies potentially suitable for utility-scale applications Texas include concentrating solar power technology and photo voltaic technology. The sun radiates an enormous amount of energy through the process of nuclear fusion. The high pressure and temperature in the sun’s core causes electrons to be stripped from hydrogen atoms, freeing the hydrogen nuclei to combine (fuse) to form one helium atom, producing radiant energy in the process. Solar radiation can be converted directly to usable energy through a variety of technologies and that energy can be used for utility-scale solar energy facilities. Solar energy technologies potentially suitable for use in utility-scale applications including photo voltaic technologies, concentrating photo voltaic technologies with natural gas hybrid, and concentrating solar thermal technologies.

Photo voltaic (PV) technologies convert the suns radiant energy directly to electricity, rather than first converting it to heat that is then used to generate electricity or to do other forms of work. PV technologies use solar panels to capture light energy from the sun, and then use that light energy to drive an electric current.

Concentrating Photo voltaics (PV) uses a solar concentrator, or trough, to gather the solar energy coming directly from the sun. The resulting beam of concentrated sunlight is reflected onto a highly efficient PV cell. The trough is mounted on a structure that tracks the sun continuously throughout the day to reflect the highest percentage of sunlight possible onto the cell. CPV systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large are of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated light is concentrated onto PV surfaces.

A dish/engine system uses a mirrored dish (similar to a very large C-band satellite dish). The dish-shaped surface collects and concentrates the sun’s heat onto a receiver, which absorbs the heat and transfers it to fluid within the engine. The heat causes the fluid to expand against a piston or turbine to produce mechanical power. The mechanical power is then used to run a generator or alternator to produce electricity.

Wind Energy Technologies

Wind energy revitalizes rural communities by providing steady income through lease and royalty payments to farmers and other landowners. Rural areas also benefit from much needed jobs and to bolster farm incomes against bad weather. Worldwide, wind and solar industries are likely to be on of the main sources of new manufacturing jobs in rural communities not to mention the spur in maintenance, installation and service jobs created near heavy wind areas. Green Ox Energy has strategic relationships with manufacturer’s of large and small wind turbines to fit your needs as well as the resources for land feasibility studies and wind farm design, finance and implementation. Contact us today for more information.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is a legal contract between an electricity generator and a power purchaser. The power purchases energy, and sometimes also capacity and/or ancillary services, from the electricity generator. Such agreements play a key role in the financing of independently owned (i.e. not owned by a utility) electricity generating assets.

The seller under the PPA is typically an independent power producer, or “IPP.” Energy slaes by regulated utilities are typically highly regulated, so that no PPA is required or appropriate. The PPA is often regarded as the central document in the development of independent electricity generating assets (power plants), and is a key to obtaining project financing for the project.

Under the PPA model, the PPA provider would secure funding for the project, maintain and monitor the energy production, and sell the electricity to the host at a contractual price for the term of the contract. The term of a PPA generally lasts between 5 and 50 years. In some renewable energy contracts, the host has the option to purchase the generating equipment from the PPA provider at the end of the term, may renew the contract with different terms, or can request that the equipment be removed.

One of the key benefits of the PPA is that by clearly defining the output of the generating assets (such as a solar electric system) and the credit of its associated revue streams, a PPA can be used by the PPA provider to raise non-recourse financing from a bank or other financing counterparty.

Commercial PPA providers can enable businesses, schools, governments, and utilities to benefit from predictable, renewable energy.

In the United States, the solar power purchase agreement (SPPA) depends heavily on the existence of the solar investment tax credit, which was extended for eitght years under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The SPPA relies on financing partners with a tax appetite who can benefit from the federal tax credit. Typically, the investor and the solar services provider create a special purpose entity that owns the solar equipment. The solar services provider finances, designs, installs, monitors, and maintains the project. As a result, solar installations are easier for customers to afford because they do not have to pay upfront costs for equipment and installation. Instead, customers pay only for the electricity the system generates. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 the solar investment tax credit can be combined with tax exempt financing, significantly reducing the capital required to develop a solar project. Moreover, in certain circumstances the federal government will provide a cash grant in lieu of an investment tax credit where a financing partner with a tax appetite is not available. Contact us for more information.