January 2018 Plans

Early January is a good time for briefly recapping last year, planning for upcoming events and embracing expected changes. To that end, we wrote an article for World Gen’s December/January issue titled, “The Path Forward” which recaps the recent past and provides a view of the future. A few updates and comments since that article went to press.

The US DOE, EIA in December 2017, offered the following statistics and short-term forecast for 2018: utility scale solar in the US had 22 GW of installations in 2016, 27 GW by the end of 2017, and an expected 30 GW by the end of 2018. Wind installations in the US were recorded as 81 GW in 2016, 88 GW in 2017 and an expected 96 GW in 2018. The recent tax law changes and the section 201 solar panel case were probably not factored into the above forecast since the tax law change happened late in December. AGA has forecasted that 20 GW of new US gas-fired power will come-online in 2018 and FERC recently observed that an incremental net 18.6 GW of coal-fired generation will be retired by 2020.

In regulatory matters, solar panel and module trade tariff changes are expected to be decided by President Trump in January. FERC on January 8th rejected DOE’s request for reliability/resiliency payments for coal and nuclear plants. The US Interior Department is progressing to dramatically open up offshore drilling and a new Clean Power Plan may emerge from EPA in 2018. Utilities in 2018 faced with lower corporate taxes may lower customer rates or pass benefits to shareholders, however, PUCs are expected to express their views.

Internationally, China’s PV demand, which has accounted for approximately 50% of worldwide PV demand by their tariffs, is expected to put upward pressure on module prices in the first half of 2018. In other technology areas, cyber security, storage improvements and blockchain developments are being watched closely.

The Business Renewable Council, a part of the Rocky Mountain Institute, has set a goal of 60 GW of corporate PPAs by 2030 and recorded 3.11GW of 2017 corporate PPAs versus 1.61 GW in 2016 and 3.26 GW in 2015. Corporate buying in the new utility environment is of interest to many developers, utilities and groups interested in furthering sustainability.

Upcoming 2018 Conferences
For planning purposes, the Energy Storage Association annual meeting is April 18-20 in Boston, AWEA’s annual meeting is May 7-10 in Chicago, similarly Microgrid is also May 7-9 in the same city, SPI is September 24-27 in Anaheim (LA), and Power Gen is December 4-6 in Orlando.