EGEB: Coal strip mine going solar, Trina selling bifacial PERC panels, Supreme Court vs Trump, more

Electrek Green Energy Brief

Coal company plans huge solar farm on strip mine – If we can make it about the money, and we can win the money argument – then the game will end. This plant is potentially being built on top of a former mountaintop coal strip mine. Let’s see it happen.

Trina sells 20MW of Bifacial PERC cells – These panels (here is their spec page) range from greater than 19-22% (cheap panels are 16-17%) depending on how much light is reflected by the surface behind them. I’m bringing up this relatively small purchase (bigger than anything in my life, but a tiny drop in the world) because of the technology involved – and because I think it will give consumers a buying opportunity sometime soon. Standard solar panels are going to get further price pressure from technologies like PERC, Bifacial, etc. Use it to your advantage as manufacturers are going to try to keep their old machines – building 16% solar panels – running as long as possible, but they really want to move onto the higher margin, higher efficiency products.

GCL-Poly Energy shifting to black silicon technology ahead of schedule –  Largest China-base solar-grade polycrystalline silicon wafer maker GCL-Poly Energy Holdings is gradually replacing conventional manufacturing with a process based on black silicon technology. A couple of other interesting points from article – to maximize value of higher efficiency black silicon, company is also shifting to diamond wire cutting versus the prior technique of slurry wires. And secondly – black silicon costs 10% more than standard product, but of course, is more efficient. Concurrently, manufacturers are constantly buying equipment on the back-end to work with these higher grade technologies.

Redflow Halts Delivery of Residential Flow Batteries Due to ‘Unexpected Product Failure Modes’ – Hello readers, we gotta start paying attention to residential battery kits. Please, if you see any, point it out. We need talk about them. In reference to RedFlow – not as bad as the headline looks, but when you’re a small company: “Redflow has recorded some unexpected product failure modes from remote monitoring of batteries deployed at customer sites. Most of these problems were resolved on an ongoing basis via ‘over the air’ remote deployment of updates to battery software.” plus “Redflow is also dealing with electrolyte impurities”

One Big Legal Obstacle Keeps Trump from Undoing Greenhouse Gas Regulation – 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which determined the agency has the authority – and responsibility – under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, one of which is carbon dioxide. This is law. As such, Pruitt simply saying I don’t believe in CO2 causing climate change is not the end game.

Trumps first 100 Days vs Renewables: Renewables hold Round 1 – The high level: Very little, technically, has been done to renewables as of yet. The article breaks down individual actions by Trump and analysis their results. One major issue I see arising is limiting the future research needed – historically done via the Department of Energy and recently for solar the SunShot program – to empower our electrical grid to manage high penetration levels of renewables – but there is the chance the Feds have already done enough and the private market, because so much money is now involved, will invest themselves into these solutions. Rick Perry’s Department of Energy memo might outline further ways to attack the renewables industry.

PNL to supply Rayton Solar with technology for low cost solar panel production –  The Rayton process utilizes high current ion beams produced by the PNL technology to cleave thin layers of silicon with zero waste. The process uses 50-100 times less silicon than the traditional method. Been watching these people progress for the last couple of years – now I see them selling hardware to people. If a company can lower the cost of silicon by 50-100x – which can be 50% of a solar panel – then we’ve got another $0.15/W that’s going to fall off the price of an installation.

Four things – 1. Here is some great history on the silicon solar cell – read the whole thread if you can. 2. The actual first solar cells were made in the 1880s out of selenium. 3. From the thread – The first Si PV cell was only 3-4% efficient and cost $286/watt. Today’s best cell is 26.3% efficient and prices are now below $0.29/watt. 4. Dr Paul Coxon on twitter is cool. Posts lots of solar research to enjoy during 5.30 am coffee.

Header image of the Siemens Les Mées solar plant in Southern France

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