Electrek green energy brief: solar panel capacity up 10GW, Maryland votes for energy storage tax credit, more

Global solar PV manufacturing capacity expansion plans rebound in Q1 – First quarter 2017 saw 10GW announced of solar power manufacturing capacity. With global capacity somewhere in the 115-135GW/year this is a big uptick – 7.5-8.5%. A few hours later, I get a Q2 announcement of a 2GW solar factory coming to Taiwan. This tells me that the demand of solar PV is predicted to continue to grow, and that significant investment in new factories, new machines and new technologies will continue. And since newer technologies, at the same price or lower than old technologies, are more efficiency – we will see continued increases in efficiency in the coming years.

Maryland governor has battery tax credit law on desk – The measure provides for a 30 percent tax credit on the installed cost of a storage system, capped at $5,000 for residential and $75,000 for commercial projects. The total credits awarded cannot exceed $750,000 in a year, and the program will run from 2018 through 2022. This is against state taxes – and state tax rates are lower than federal – so its not as strong as the federal incentive for solar, but its pretty close – and it will drive business. A Tesla PowerWall 2, costing $5500 retail plus about $500-2000 to install, will end up costing $4,200-5300 after $1,800-2300 tax credit.

Chinese PV demand starting to pick up, price of silicon below $13/kq – The professional who analyze the industry (I analyze the professionals) – are telling me they expect 2017 China to be as large as 2016 China for solar power installations. That’s partially why GTM is predicting 85GW of solar power globally – growth over the amazing 2016 numbers of 78GW. And now we’re starting to see some of those demand numbers come through via Energytrend who watches the Taiwanese market as it sells solar cells to China. My expectation (and other’s) is that solar panels might be found under $.30/W this year – after China’s buying season ends.

Renewables’ deep-sea mining conundrum (that really isn’t that significant) – The LARGE majority of solar panels do not use this material, thus there is no need to mine the ocean bottom. Additionally, the article says tellurium is part of advanced solar panels – but FirstSolar isn’t an advanced solar panel, it is a panel made to compete with silicon when silicon was real expensive. While I cannot speak for future solar products – you all see that the technology advances so quickly – I can say that today, this is not an industry challenge.

GE Installed the First 1,500-Volt Solar Inverter in Japan The more-efficient inverter technology can lead to up to a 3 percent lower system cost and up to 15 percent less in maintenance costs. Utility scale innovation. High voltage inverters means you can have more solar panels on one wire and more solar panels on one wire means less equipment in between and a lot less labor to install or upkeep that equipment. Also, higher voltage means less voltage drop – less voltage drop means more electricity gets to the grid. Lower costs due to hardware and labor, and more revenue due to less electricity loss means higher return on investment, means more capital, more solar, etc etc.

CalLab PV Modules Increases Measurement Precision to a Record 1.3 Percent – Photovoltaic modules calibrated with a measurement precision of 1.3 percent. Repeatability lies at 0.4 percent. For a volume of 10 MW, for example, each percentage point increase in measurement precision corresponds to a monetary value of about 60,000 euros. Here’s the deal, the person that is running your 401K and Roth wants to put a whole lot of money into solar power plants because they generate a relatively stable, long term cash stream for a few decades. To feel emotionally stable while spending a few billion on a power plant – they need data. Apparently, the data is worth a lot -€0.006/W/year (that’s a tenth of a Euro) for 20+ years.

German solar business up most since 2010 – German solar growth, to me, represents a second generation of solar growth. Much like what is going on in Hawaii, Australia and California – solar in a world where energy storage/transmission/grid smarts are also being built. In all of these markets solar power has had an immense effect already on the power grid – now its time to figure out how to grow it within the infrastructure. Germany installed 52,000 new rooftop systems last year with a capacity of about 1.52 gigawatt, bringing total installs to 1.5 million units, including 50,000 batteries, according to the Bnetza regulator. The BSW said it expects double-digit sales growth this year.

I’m only bringing up this NYTimes article because its all about a carbon tax today…and I feel some sort of emotional requirement to say it daily. This article tilts toward the conservative side of the argument – starting with the now standard exclamation that ‘conservatives support a carbon tax!?!?!’ Afterwards a broad picture is painted of challenges and examples – I guess if my Aunt Jody in DC is going to be reading about a carbon tax in the NYTimes, this is an ok primer on it.

India’s solar power market will be an important one for the globe if we were to consider the immensity of the scale alone (soon to surpass China in population). But, like many places globally, India is an innovator  in science, manufacturing and in figuring out how to take care of those billion plus people. 1 rupee equals about US1.6¢.

Electricity from wind in the USA might double by 2020 – it’ll grow at least to 8.3% of US electricity. Newer units will have higher capacity, and there will be more than is on this list – as these are already booked products.

Header image is from Fraunhofer of a solar cell that broke 21.9%, a record for a multicrstalline product

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