Business Achievement: Growth - Low Carbon Energy


Southern Company for continuing to build its renewable energy portfolio-which exceeded 2,700 MW from 33 solar, wind and biomass facilities announced, acquired or under construction by the end of 2016-and advancing the growth of clean distributed generation and energy storage with deals such as its 50 MW fuel cell deal with Bloom Energy. In that contract, Southern's subsidiary PowerSecure will package Bloom Energy's fuel cells with Lithium-ion batteries and power electronics and market the systems to corporate and industrial customers.

Other notable 2016 milestones include Southern Power and Recurrent Energy's commissioning of the 200 MW Garland Solar powerplant in California, and the acquisition, with SunPower, of the 100 MW under-construction Boulder Solar I project in Colorado.

In addition to these deals by Southern Company's competitive energy market subsidiaries, the firm's regulated subsidiaries including Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power have begun procuring hundreds of MW of utility-scale solar annually-with much of the activity driven by the demands of corporate customers for clean energy and long-term electricity supply contracts. For example, in a deal approved by state regulators in June 2016, Alabama Power will commission Origis Energy to build a 72 MW, $140 million solar power project for Walmart in Chambers County, Ala.

This reflects the rapid growth of solar power in the Southeast, where price competitiveness and the green-energy goals of corporate energy consumers-rather than state renewable energy policies-are driving the markets for solar power.

Norway's state-owned oil company Statoil for sharply increasing its investment in offshore wind power development and RD&D. In December, the firm won the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's auction for an area offshore of Long Island which is expected to accommodate up to 800 MW of wind power. According to Greentech Media, Statoil competed against five other bidders through 33 rounds of bidding before emerging victorious with its $42.5 million bid for the lease.

Closer to home, Statoil began onshore construction in 2016 on the 30 MW Hywind floating offshore wind turbine pilot project on the Scottish coast. The development of floating turbines like the five Siemens 6 MW turbines to be deployed at Hywind is seen as vitally important to the continuing growth of offshore wind power. Bottom-fixed turbines cannot be used on 95% of the world's ocean coastlines, according to a report by DNV GL.

Tesla and Panasonic for beginning production at their new Gigafactory in Nevada. At peak production, the Lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility is expected to directly employ 6,500 people. The scale of production is expected to reduce battery costs further, enabling Tesla to price its forthcoming Model 3 for $35,000 and to serve the growing markets for distributed grid energy storage-a market which Tesla, Panasonic and Tesla subsidiary SolarCity are already pushing ahead with their solar battery farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As reported by Fortune, the island's utility KIUC will pay 13.9 cents per kWh for the combined energy and storage capacity.

Meanwhile, Tesla Energy's acquisition of SolarCity, completed in November, will lead to development of a solar PV roofing material that Tesla chairman Elon Musk says will be equivalent in cost or cheaper than normal roofing material by mid-2017, according to Bloomberg.

Waste Management for continuing its ambitious program to convert its fleet of approximately 18,500 collection vehicles from diesel to CNG and LNG-thereby reducing the GHG emissions associated with its operations by 21% per truck. In 2016, the company's fleet of natural-gas vehicles grew to almost 6,000 trucks, or 30% of its total collection fleet. It also added 14 new natural gas fueling stations bringing the total to 98. Additionally, Waste Management continues to develop its use of renewable natural gas (RNG) from biogas generated at landfills or anaerobic digesters. By the end of 2016, 40% of its fleet used RNG, including 100% of its California fleet.