ISO-NE: Solar capacity expanding faster than expected
- A draft assessment of the Northeast power situation shows slow load growth and rapidly rising solar capacity coming out of one of the warmest winters in the region's history, RTO Insider reports.
- In a preliminary report from the ISO New England, the grid operator said the 2015-16 winter was the second mildest since 1960, and the only true cold weather occurred across a three-day stretch in mid-February. Actual winter peak was 19,524 MW.
- Compared to 2014, weather-normalized energy use was down 1.1%, but up 0.5% when forward capacity market passive demand resources are factored in.
- Solar energy capacity will reach 3,214 MW in 2025, roughly a 30% increase above last year's ISO New England estimates.
New England expects to see solar capacity rise from about 1,620 MW at the end of this year, to almost 3,100 MW at the end of 2024 – about a 25% increase over last year's final report. The draft in 2016 goes a year farther, however, predicting more than 3,200 MW through 2025.
All told, solar is increasing faster than expected. The draft report indicates state support for clean energy and action by U.S. Congress to extend the investment tax credit have led to robust growth.
“The draft forecast [for solar] is 30% higher than last year’s final forecast,” Jon Black, ISO-NE’s manager of load forecasting told RTO Insider.
Massachusetts, which currently has almost 950 MW of installed capacity, will see that figure rise to more than 1,600 MW in 2025. Connecticut will reach 850 MW and Vermont more than 350 MW. Maine and New Hampshire will lag, the ISO suggested, each ending 2025 with less than 100 MW of solar energy.
In 2015, peak-to-energy ratios "changed in multiple directions," the ISO said, decreasing in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, increasing in Connecticut and remaining stable in Massachusetts.
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