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

Researchers develop solar glass blocks to power houses – A glass block, which can be incorporated into the fabric of a building, replacing traditional brick and mortar, and is designed to collect solar energy and convert it to electricity. The block, called Solar Squared, has intelligent optics that focus the incoming solar radiation onto small solar cells, enhancing the overall energy generated by each solar cell. Ok, that’s pretty cool! A glass block that can replace certain chunks of a building facade and will produce electricity from solar power, while also allowing some light into the home. I’ve not seen anywhere that these ‘bricks’ can offer the same structural support as a standard brick, but with most structural support coming from other parts of the house these could offer a valuable south-facing facade that produces clean electricity. Any suggestions on other aspects of a home that could be made to generate solar power? Windows, roof tiles and now – structural? – glass blocks. Driveway with solar freaking roads? Paint? Could every external surface of your home generate clean electricity?

Solar production up 45% first six months of 2017 in USA – The EIA released its data on electricity generation in the USA for the first six months of 2017, and compared to 2016 numbers, solar power electricity generation is up 45% – just below 2% of all US electricity. Additionally, greater than 40% of all electricity was carbon free – 20% from nuclear power, 9% from hydro, 2% from solar and 9% from all renewable sources other than solar/hydro…strange that they don’t break out wind on this chart since it represents almost 7% of all US electricity (they do show it in this chart though).

Duke Energy Submits Letter to ITC Opposing Section 201 Petiton – For utilities situated similarly to Duke Energy’s operating companies, which must select cost competitive resources (whether they be fuel-based or renewable) when determining new generation to meet customer demand requirements, such cost increases may eliminate solar generation from its evaluation processes entirely. On the one hand, it’s great to see an electricity utility writing to the International Trade Council to be against increasing the costs of solar panels. It is obviously in the interest of a power utility to be able to create a product at a lower price. On the other hand, Duke Energy, has shown a desire to undercut utility scale solar power plants by pushing for shorter power purchase agreements and more complex contracts. And why did they take so long to submit this letter? What about sending a representative to speak at the hearing? Duke Energy, among utilities, has been a better supporter of green energy – however – they’ve got a while to go.

East Coast states agree on greater carbon cuts for regional cap-and-trade pact – The states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are pledging to cut emissions from power plants by at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. That’s slightly higher than the current agreement to reduce emissions by 2.5 percent annually. The RGGI has been credited with helping to lower the northeast USA’s CO2 production from power plants by 35% – and while saving consumers $1.5 billion on their utility bills, creating over 22,000 additional jobs, and bringing $2.9 billion in additional economic benefit to the region since it began in 2008 (source). In essence, the region has a carbon tax that reinvests the money into local infrastructure upgrades. For instance, solar power projects get a bonus of 3-5¢/kWh. There are also incentives for installing efficiency upgrades for lighting and heating. Cars next? Note in the article that multiple states were less than enthusiastic to continue the program. Interestingly, Maine and New Hampshire would actually see their electricity prices go up if they left the program. And the Maryland Governor – who has also pushed back – recently had a veto of his overridden by the state’s legislature.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes set to step down as GOP leader for siding with Democrats on climate change – Activist members of Mayes’ own party responded to his championing of cap and trade with anger and disgust, arguing that he’d unnecessarily increased the cost of gasoline and made their task of ousting Democrats in swing districts even harder. Nothing here spoke of the increased cost of dealing with pollution or healthcare, just gasoline – and…drumroll please…ousting Democrats. Let’s be honest – this has less to do with pricing of gasoline and all to do with being in power. Chad – I’d give you a thought, if I were voting locally, for your honor alone.

This is the worst tweet I’ve shown in this column…and I feel so badly for the professional scientists – who have worked so hard their whole damn careers against such disgusting public attacks. You want money to do your research? You need delete references to reality. And now, this scientist is probably going to bear consequences for releasing this information to the world. Jennifer Bowen – if you need help funding your research, I’ll be the first to put $ in the GoFundMe account.

Header image is of solar glass block from lead article – BuildSolar

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