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Electrek green energy brief: $200B in Green Bonds, CA vote Time of Use rates, Community Solar, more


$200B in global green bonds – Hundreds of billions of dollars will move into green technologies via the form of long term, safe and stable investments. If you install a solar power system that has minimal O&M and it then runs for 30+ years – someone is going to make money. I field calls all the time from investment groups looking to add a bunch of solar to their portfolios. We’re not going to stop using electricity.

California vote on ‘Time of Use’ rates coming up – If we’re going to live by a true supply and demand market, then electricity use during the daytime and early evening is going to be the most expensive. And the solar industry in California is pushing that we recognize Time of Use more so, since solar power is producing during the most expensive time of the day. This push out west is being called Netmetering 2.0 because the legislators hope to better capture the nuances and economic benefits of solar power – electricity generation is just one benefit brought to the table (lesser stress on grid, adding voltage to areas far from the power plant, etc).

Community Solar: Do you want to own a piece or buy the electricity? – This is an educational read (a long one). Community Solar, I think, will become pretty significant. I’ve seen multiple studies saying that the most efficient solar power installation – taking into account cost due to scale and the cost to move to the energy to the local market – are local systems that are 1-5MW (5-25 acres of land). If solar doesn’t work for your house – article says greater than 50% deal with this reality – the question becomes: do I rent or do I own? Much like the SolarCity Lease versus buy your own system. As a person focused on $$ – buying a chunk means one day you won’t have an electricity bill, however, you are connected to that chunk. As a person also conscious of the need for flexibility – renting a piece gets you clean electricity at a discount, and when you need to get up and go – you go.

India launching first solar + storage tender – It looks like we’re going to see a whole lot of energy storage in the form of batteries being attached to the power grid real soon. A few days ago I pointed out China, India, California, Hawaii and Germany as pushing storage soon – and the very public auctions like this from India will help set the global pace already being pushed by projects like Hawaii’s price of $0.11/kWh for a peaking plant.

Soft costs are now 64% of the cost of solar power in the USA, but not in Germany – In the USA, the paperwork and labor surrounding the construction of solar power costs more than the hardware to install the solar power. This is quite amazing – it was so very recent that the hardware costs were the killer. We’ve known for a while that Germany has been able to hack at their soft costs in a way the US market can only dream of. One of the best parts of the Germany system is a single document permit application that is applicable across the entirety of the country – in my experience, every single local building inspector has a different document. Some cities/states have been able to get the design/paperwork costs down – but sales is still a challenge in the USA, and the cost of getting a single customer can sometimes overwhelm project pricing.

Alexander von Humboldt – the first environmentalist: Climate change as a result of man burning fossil fuels has been talked about since the late 1700s (remember Exxon knew in the 1970s). Ecological systems being complex and full of feedback loops came into view when Alexander von Humboldt traveled the world seeing systems via a newly formed system of analysis – modern day science (no joke, science as you and I know it – the scientific method – didn’t exist for too long before this fellow). The point in showing you this article – consciousness of the need to take care of the natural systems of the world isn’t a hippie dream born out of drugs in the 1960s. It was seen by folks hundreds of years ago as humanity began to spread its wings globally.

Solar power can handle itself when connected to a grid and offer important services – Keeping the power grid balanced, running at 60hz and electricity generation in line with consumption, involves professionals and a lot of planning. Generally, this leads towards the argument that ‘dispatchable’ (able to be turned on and off at will) forms of energy will always dominate – how can you keep something in line that you cannot control (the sun)? Its a solid argument – and solar power + wind are stressing the grid in places where they reach high amounts of penetration. This argument is falling away though – 1. Power electronics (solar panel level control like with SolarEdge hardware) are letting us control solar power in a finite manner 2. Energy storage to help us store renewables when needed and pump when needed. And FirstSolar did it in this article for the state of California on a very large installation.


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