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ITC report: 26 U.S. module makers closed in the past five years – 26 U.S. module manufacturers have closed their manufacturing facilities in the past five years, a period during which imports of modules and cells increased nearly five-fold. In addition, the majority of U.S. module companies reported operating losses over the same time period. U.S. demand for solar products increased for the four years between 2012 and 2016, Malaysian, Chinese and Korean modules captured a larger share of the U.S. market in contrast U.S. module manufacturers. In a few phone conversations I’ve had with people in the know, there isn’t really a question as to whether or not US module manufacturers have suffered at the hands of Chinese monetary policy supporting ‘below profit’ solar panel manufacturers. The question becomes, not ‘Are US panel manufacturers being hurt?’, but instead ‘What is in the best interests of the nation-state?’ And that question becomes absolutely the question to ask as we are looking at a blunt, national tool to defend industry. Would a few highly robotocized factories populated by engineers/machinists/specialists/etc benefit the energy security of the state? Absolutely…however, are there also other, more complex, paths that might benefit us more?
Maybe…Amtech’s solar orders soar…Phoenix, AZ, USA based specialist PV manufacturing equipment supplier Amtech Systems has reported its best performing quarter since a record peak in 2011, driven by a for bifacial N-type technology turnkey line contract from a new customer based in China. Local manufacturer – AZ, USA – makes the machines that make solar panels – specifically the machines that are making the hottest panels we’ve had to talk about in a long while (mono-PERC, bifacial). Maybe it makes sense to look at these five suggestions (New Solar Policy Playbook Calls for Greater Cooperation, Not Competition) – namely taking advantage of the US’ R&D capabilities – and support other groups making machines.
Speaking of jobs, and money, and the best interests of the nation-state – How California’s climate policies created an economic boon – California’s Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties experienced a net benefit of $9.1 billion in direct economic activity and 41,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016.When accounting for the spillover effects, that state climate policies resulted in a total of $14.2 billion in economic activity and more than 73,000 jobs for the region during the same seven years. The best part of this short article, which is a summary of a large economic analysis, is how they look at the costs/benefits of individual programs across California. Another point – these jobs numbers in italics above, were for just one region of California. California is much bigger than the Inland Empire alone. And the US is much bigger than California. With that – it seems very clear that the USA, via strategic investments just like China, is able to benefit many areas of the economy – maybe not solar panel manufacturing, but the wholesale upgrade of our power grid is more important.
India Auctions 500 Megawatts Rooftop Solar Capacity With Lowest Bid At 3.4¢/kWh – The maximum sale price bid allowed was Rs 75,000/kW ($1,166/kW). The highest bid was recorded as Rs 65,000/kW ($1,010/kW). 453MW RESCO model (PPA) where the developers will be required to bear the entire project cost upfront. The lowest tariff bids received under the RESCO model was Rs 2.20/kWh (3.4¢/kWh) for 11.2 megawatt capacity in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The highest bid was placed for 9.6 megawatts capacity in the state of Bihar at a tariff of Rs 4.59/kWh (7.1¢/kWh). – Rooftop solar pricing, in the 11MW range, can support a PPA of 3.4¢/kWh – that’s cool. Pricing for installation in India seems to max out just over $1/W on these smaller scales.
Midmarket Solar Policies in the United States – This website is based on the 2016 NREL report Midmarket Solar Policies in the United States: A Guide for Midsized Solar CustomersPDF. The guide equips prospective solar customers with the tools necessary to understand and use the solar policies of their state for midmarket solar projects. In this context, midmarket projects are defined as behind-the-meter PV systems with a generation capacity between 50 kilowatts and 2 megawatts. This is a great collection of laws – specifically for rooftops/ground mounts ranging from 5,000 to 200,000 sq ft of usable space. I’m a commercial solar developer – so this document aligns with my day to day work (at least the Massachusetts/Rhode Island stuff).
An interesting analysis – not only will a new solar planet be cheaper than a new coal/gas plant – but by 2030 a new solar plant will be cheaper than simply running an old plant. Meaning – it will become a financial motivation to shut down old plants. These numbers are without subsidies.
And a real quick breakdown of the $15/ton request for coal we chatted about yesterday, that math turns out to be a $6/ton inverse carbon tax.
Header image of a residential project I built in Palm Beach, Florida. SolarEdge to deal with the many passing shadows from tall, thin trees in the backyard. Great project.
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