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EGEB: Sammy Roth saves California $75m; US utility scale solar $1/W; America supports carbon tax and net metering; more

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

DOE Officially Marks SunShot’s $1 per Watt Goal for Utility-Scale Solar – And you know what: its years early and doesn’t include subsidies. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s higher than the record-breaking project bids we’ve seen in the U.S. and abroad in recent years. But that’s because DOE calculations for levelized cost of energy (LCOE) do not include subsidies — such as the federal Investment Tax Credit — and are based on the average climate in Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you SunShot, thank you China and thank you Obama.

Energy Department Announces Achievement of SunShot Goal, New Focus for Solar Energy Office – And now that they’ve hit their $1/W goal, its time to move on – DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, Acting Assistant Secretary Simmons today announced up to $82 million in early-stage research in two areas: Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): Up to $62 million will support advances in CSP technologies to enable on-demand solar energy. Power Electronics: Up to $20 million is dedicated to early-stage projects to advance power electronics technologies. Awardees will be required to contribute 20 percent of the funds to their overall project budget, yielding total public and private spending of nearly $100 million. Both of these technologies will allow solar power to work in a more resilient and reliable manner. Solar thermal lets us storage heat via sunlight and use it to generate steam and drive a turbine at any point. And power electronics on solar panels let use control electricity output from the power grid on a solar panel level.

US public backs carbon tax, and spending revenue on renewables – “We found the greatest level of support – nearly 80 per cent – was for the revenue to be used in the development of clean energy, and for improvements to US infrastructure like roads and bridges. With the average American household willing to pay a mean amount of around $177 a year in carbon tax on their energy bills, this equates to around $22 billion that could be spent on investments in clean energy and infrastructure, among other sectors as well. Interestingly, our analysis indicates strong public support – more than 70 per cent – for using some portion of the carbon-tax revenue to compensate coal miners whose jobs may be affected by a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.” America wants to be a responsible adult when it comes to pollution. America recognizes the reality of our actions. Let’s get on with this folks.

A Majority of Americans Support Net Energy Metering (pdf) – Here was the most important of the findings: While 80% of respondents who do believe there is solid evidence of climate change say they support NEM, even a majority (64%) of respondents who don’t think there is solid evidence of climate change say they support NEM. People support net metering because they believe the electric utilities are taking advantage of us. They want to see private investment in energy generation to benefit the people. Its not socialist – its capitalist to believe that all market actors have the ability to be fairly paid for their product. Great report with a lot of good information.

California utility cancels $75-million solar contract after Desert Sun investigationThe Imperial Irrigation District is backing out of a $75-million contract for a new solar farm, following a Desert Sun investigation that raised questions about potential conflicts of interest involving an influential consultant for the publicly owned electric utility. If I was from the state of California I’d be giving some of this $75M to the Desert Sun for to pay for more investigative journalism and a bit of it direct to Sammy as well so he can focus on his work. The basics of the story – guy who was a public official and a farmer, suddenly got a MAJOR contract from the jurisdiction he helped manage in a big solar/energy storage contract. Guy had zero experience in this type of work. Then, months after leaving political position, tens of millions. Great work by an investigative journalist. Give him a pat on the back.

The fundamental reason we shouldn’t be sexist in how we hire people is that we ought be respectful toward every single human being, as best we can, on this planet. We are all the same. But another reason, much more self serving toward any industry, to hire women in comparable numbers – why would you limit your pool of talent? If you hire from only 50% of the population you’re, by default, going to have access to 50% of the top talent. You’re going to be defeated. Now, its not all warm and fuzzy just yet in the industry – so I’ll get off of my soap box now…but its a start. If you’re not into being a good human being – you might as well act in your own self interest.

19.8% of Europe’s electricity came from wind power – new record. That’s a lot of electricity to pull from the wind – that’s a lot of coal and CO2 staying in the ground. And that number is only growing.

Header image from the ‘Hit me with your SunShot‘ photography contest.

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