Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NRG president sees solar shift as federal subsidies end

NRG's David Crane
Without the availability of federal loan guarantees, a program that ended in September, the wave of massive solar projects is probably over, according to David Crane, president and CEO of Princeton-based NRG Energy said Thursday during a conference call with analysts. 

Crane's remarks were published on Friday by Platts Energy Week.

Wall Street does not have the capacity to provide debt financing for the large projects, which have price tags of more than $1 billion, Crane said. Looking ahead, utility-scale projects will range from 20-MW to 100-MW, he said, noting that his company will pursue those types of projects.

Solar development will come more from rooftop projects, according to Crane. "The distributed, residential is going to end up swamping the bag-scale projects," he said.
NRG plans to install 733 MW of solar panels over four years on warehouse owned by ProLogis under a partnership backed by DOE and Bank of America.
Dropping costs to bolster solar's competitiveness

A form of Moore's Law - the doubling every two years of the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit - applies to photovoltaic technology, according to Crane. In the last two years, the delivered cost of energy from PV was cut in half, he said.

NRG expects the cost to fall in half again in the next two years, which would make solar power less expensive than retail electricity in roughly 20 states, he said. The expected drop in solar costs has "the potential to revolutionize the hub and spoke power system, which currently makes up the power industry," he said.
While the solar industry has benefited from federal support, the driver for the industry has been state renewable portfolio standards, led by California's 33% mandate, according to Crane.
In defense of solar in a "highly politicized post-Solyndra world," Crane said that PV puts less strain on air, water and land resources than other forms of power generation. It is also more predictable and reliable than wind farms, he said.

See full Platt's story here  

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