30MW/120MWh lithium battery system online in California – world’s largest grid-tied system: Key quote, ‘California Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Picker said, “I didn’t expect to see these kinds of prices in batteries until 2022, 2024 …we are far in advance of where we expected to be.”’ This pricing, along with utility-scale solar power being at least half a decade ahead of its predicted price falls, means we ought to expect significant volume come online because of economics alone.

South Carolina solar developers pushing for state level tax benefit – A few interesting data points from the article, 1. ‘Landowners earn on average about $750 a year per acre in rental income,’ 2. 91 potential solar farm projects in South Carolina are on hold pending legislation, 3. Those 91 projects on hold would generate about $217 million in one-time property taxes for hardware sales 4. and $12.6 million in annual property taxes, up from the roughly $21,000 that they now pay as agriculture properties, 5. Solar companies had invested $5.4 billion in northern neighbor North Carolina and $1.9 billion in the southern neighbor Georgia. One number that was missing – how many MW installed would those 91 projects be?

Drones, AI and robots increasing solar power productivity – Four applications mentioned in the article, 1. Drones to survey the land, 2. AI to determine the best layout of hardware, 3. Robots to clean the systems and 4. Drones, again, to provide O&M services – such as photography of systems in infrared to help analyze down to the cell (72+ cells in a commercial solar panel). Personally, as a commercial rooftop developer I could use drone services to better analyze a roof so we can more accurately, and with greater speed, layout hardware.

Imagine your political leader talked down a technology, then installed it on their home – Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, recently told the world that he has installed solar power and batteries in his home. Concurrently, Turnbull pushes hard that fossil fuels are the only path forward for the country. On one level this argument can be accepted as logical – personal energy generation and storage makes economic sense when complimenting a fossil fuel powered grid. It smells though…smells of methane releases, cash payments for political advertising, the Great Barrier Reefs bleaching and debilitating heat waves.

Just some clean water and clean air propaganda, Pictures of the US before the EPA

Carbon capture? – I haven’t seen a technology yet to make me believe in it. Storing it underground? Sounds like an earthquake release waiting to happen – see Oklahoma. Turning the CO2 into liquid fuel – that sounds interesting, but then when we burn said fuel – are we re-releasing that product into the air? Using CO2 to create cement? That’s a real interesting idea as 1. Cement production is 5% of global Co2 and 2. The cement will be static for a hundred years until we recycle it. Building lots of little machines all over the planet to absorb and store CO2? Feels like solar power – except that we have a use for the by product of solar power (electricity) versus no successful business model for excess CO2. So far, the sales pitch that its cheaper than renewables mostly seems just a sales pitch. Let’s keep watching though…

Wall Street Journal opinion page response to the Carbon Tax – There are many misgivings I have on a carbon tax, for one, it doesn’t necessarily stop us from polluting – just lets us pay money for the right to pollute. And those of us who have money will do just fine. Caps are the only true limit to CO2 production – and starting the cap at the site of extraction is the only way to truly limit burning of fuel. Of course, who is going to stand up to someone generating cash and jobs?

California setting solar generation records in late February, makes me wonder what the 2017 summer numbers will look like with such an explosive installation volume in 2016 –

Really interesting the partisan divide in US politics. How can we be so far apart philosophically? Looks like 1990-1994 (Clinton-Gingrich) saw a harsh fall off in environmentally minded voting from Republicans, while the Democrats continued to cruise toward united environmental voting. Source.

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