Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Microsoft gets OK to buy renewable power directly, bypassing the fossil utility – “WA utility commission approved Microsoft’s long awaited exit from PSE and now lets it directly procure renewable energy from wholesale market. As previously negotiated, Microsoft would pay a $23.6m exit fee for moving out of PSE’s load base. This agreement opens up doors for corporates in the state (AMZN, REI, SBUX, etc.) who wish to have a higher renewable mix. PSE procures two-thirds of its electricity from fossil fuels.” – Thank you long time reader Mr Will Driscoll – source Credit Suisse, ‘Renewables Roundup.’ This interests me on a few levels – and it should concern utilities on fundamental levels. First off – large users of electricity are now able to take a hands on approach. As a commercial/industrial developer myself – I see it every single day. I’ve brought many companies to buying zero kWh from the utility. Secondly – an exit fee of tens of millions – this is a lot of money, but Microsoft is no fool and they ran the numbers.

Net metering slowly shifting to value of solar – “There seems to be a movement from net metering toward alternative compensation structures that are based on the value distributed energy resources provide to the grid,” said Achyut Shrestha, Senior Policy Analyst at NCCETC. “How these proceedings play out will have an important impact on state solar markets.” – Key point here: so far, value of solar models seem to show solar being worth around the same as net metering value. Net metering only considers the very obvious items like generation, transmission, distribution, etc. Value of solar takes into account things like time of use, distance from central generation and other technical benefits. Still other models – like the ‘social value’ of solar takes into account pollution, health effects and global warming. At some point incentives for solar will go away – but not until there are nationwide carbon taxes in place to account of the challenges of fossil fuels. And speaking of these topics…

Regulators deciding whether to raise ‘social cost of carbon’ in Minnesota – The federal social cost of carbon ranges from $11 to $57 per ton of carbon, and has often been applied at $37 per ton. That’s considerably higher than the state’s current cost of 44 cents to $4.53 per ton. Really good read here. Take a moment to see some of the dynamics in this challenging legal territory.

Solar’s trillion-dollar market: Driven by EVs, microgrids and cost parity for storage – “Both utility-scale and distributed solar has the potential to represent over 50 per cent of new global capacity additions over the next five years, representing $1 trillion of cumulative investment opportunity.” And with some predicting solar power to be $141B in 2017, with continued global growth over the next 5 years, that $1T number is pretty realistic.

China seen making 25 percent more solar panels in 2017 – Growing from 48GW in 2016 to 60GW in 2017. What I also like is that more of the panels coming from China are increasing the efficiency by using mono-crystalline, PERC, Bifacial and other technologies. This is being forced on project developers due to new incentives requiring it as part of the ‘TopRunner‘ program. My gut says the price fall for solar panels is now moving into a different mode – one where you might actually see the price of a single solar panel increase because the efficiency increases allowing more watts per panel, while the $/W will still fall. Increasing energy density on the solar cell level lowers the effective price for ALL hardware/labor/etc in the solar supply chain.

This could be the next big strategy for suing over climate change – The three cases, which target firms such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, assert that the fossil fuel producers are collectively responsible for about 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions between 1965 and 2015. They claim that industry “knew or should have known” decades ago about the threat of climate change, and want companies to pay the costs of communities forced to adapt to rising seas. We have hard evidence that #ExxonKnew yet still paid third parties to lie to the general public and lobby against any climate regulations. The tobacco industry did the same for their product and lost serious RICO cases. Expect it to happen here.

Agri-voltaics or Solar Farming: the concept of Integrating Solar PV based Electricity Generation and Crop Production in a single land use system – I’m just going to copy/paste the different crops analyzed in this study as being possible to grow between solar panels using run off water from cleaning. The thought process is up to you: Coriandrum sativum Linn. (coriander or ‘dhania’), Anethum graveolens (dill), Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.(‘methi’), Plantago ovata Forsk. (‘isabgol’), Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (fennel or ‘saunf’), Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (l.) Taub. (clusterbean or ‘guar’), Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (cauliflower), Brassica oleracea var. capitate (cabbage), Pisum sativum Linn., ( pea), Allium cepa Linn. (onion), Allium sativum (garlic), Vigna unguiculata (Linn.) Walp. (Cowpea), Capsicum annum Linn.(chilli), Cucurbitaceae e.g. Cucurbita pepo Linn.(‘kakri’), Cucumis callosus (Rottl.) Cong. (‘kachri’), Luffa acutangula Linn. (ridged gourd), Lagenaria siceraria (‘lauki’), Citrullus fistulosus Stocks.(‘tinda’), Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsumara & Nakai (‘matira’), Momordica charantia Linn.(Karela), Momordica dioica Roxb.ex Willd. (‘kankero’), Cassia angustifolia (senna), Convolvulus microphyllus Sieb.ex Spreng., (shankhpushpi), Aloe vera (‘gwarpatha’), Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal (ashwa gandha), Barleria acanthoides Vahl.(‘vazradanti’), etc.

In case you didn’t read the article yesterday talking about how you pay money to the ‘think tanks’ and lobbyist groups that then hammer your politicians to stick it to you regarding solar power:

The place that invented the major use of modern coal via the industrial revolution is very quickly leaving that old game –

Header image by Jamey Stillings in Japan, via a recent Bloomberg article.

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