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

Antigua’s well-built PV systems sustain impact of hurricane IrmaDesigned to withstand hurricanes of up to the category 4, each of the 55 solar power installations on Antigua, ranging from several kWp to the 3 MWp and 4 MWp utility scale installations at the international airport of Antigua and in the Lavington/Bethesda region with a total of 38,000 panels mounted, have survived hurricane Irma without damages or substantial system failures. When I was installing residential solar systems in South Florida, during the fall of 2014 – headed into 2015, the Miami-Dade Building code increased the wind speed requirements for all solar design. I remember being upset because customers who already had quotes in place, and systems designed were going to see increased prices coming from our company due to increased hardware requirements. In hind site – the building code designers were correct. These folks deserve respect. The costs weren’t that bad. And in the more complex climate that has already changed reality that we now exist within, these designs will survive longer.

CAISO proposes load-shifting product for energy storage – CAISO (California Independent System Operator of the electricity grid – not the watchmaker) has launched what will be a years-long initiative to develop a program to pay storage resources to absorb excess renewable generation from the grid and make the energy available later, creating a new profit stream strongly desired by energy storage companies. You can either meet the high levels of demand in the early evening by burning fossil fuels – and charge customers huge rates for those fossil fuels, or you can take those high prices that the market charges and apply it to new technology. This is a really big announcement because it will be the first time a large-scale energy storage program to use battery for actually providing electricity. Currently, large scale energy storage projects are used for things called ‘ancillary services’ – these are other requirements that a power grid needs to run consistently like load balancing/smoothing. If CAISO starts requesting large-scale electricity volumes to come from batteries we have taken a huge step toward developing our new power grid. Rock on California.

India to electrify every home by December 2018 using solar, storage and LEDs – Solar power packs of 200-300W will be added with battery banks to un-electrified homes – including in remote and hard to access regions – along with five LED lights, a DC fan and a DC power plug. This will also come with repair and maintenance for five years. Amazing – India is going to lead the home energy revolution. If hundreds of millions of households have batteries+solar+LED as their first form of electricity, they’ll shape generations of business, power grids, and the perception of what electricity is. This is really an amazing announcement.

Residential electricity prices up 3% in first half of 2017 – Some of the early 2017 increase in residential electricity prices can be attributed to the rising costs of fuels used for generating power. For example, the cost of natural gas delivered to U.S. electric generators during the first half of 2017 averaged $3.53 per million British thermal units. This cost was 37% higher than in the first half of 2016, and the average delivered cost of coal was down about 2%. 3% higher pricing of electricity means a faster payback time on a residential solar power system. Normally, a I’d insert a comment about the price of residential solar power falling – but with the recent Suniva trade case probably increasing the price of a solar power plant for regular people, that’s no longer a guaranteed outcome for the next several years. If utilities no longer feel pressure to keep their prices in check from user level general electricity – solar, not wind – we might see a few years of price accelerations.

Case study: Tennessee project already experiences affects of 201 petition – When I got a chance to visit the project in August, half of the racks sat bare like roller coaster tracks on the hilly Tennessean landscape, the land left ungraded for financial reasons and to prevent run-off and erosion. The racks awaited solar panels that were supposed to be delivered in July. Its going to be interesting to see how groups are affected by solar panels shortages/hoarding/etc. When the rules on pricing change for the contractors supplying product, they are forced to change the contracts signed with customers. There will be some lawsuits by customers – but I’d guess groups like the International Trade Commission and US Government can’t be held liable for damages in times like these. What does matter, is that without a doubt, the business of solar power will have doubt added to the equation and the industry will bear the consequences. This will only slow the industry for a short while.

MidAmerican Energy to upgrade older wind turbines throughout Iowa – The upgrades will include retrofitting older turbines with longer blades and components to extend the lives of each unit. According to MidAmerican, the project will reduce costs associated with generating electricity from other sources, which will help keep costs low and stable for the company’s Iowa customers. This is amazing to me – repowering older facilities with new hardware. This will lead to EVEN LOWER pricing – or greater profits for the generator. If you’re from the fossil fuel or nuclear world, this is old stuff. Power plants are constantly upgraded, and efficiencies are constantly increased. Nuclear power plants can run 60+ years with constant upgrades. Solar power plants are getting similar types of services. This means, that the initial cash outlay of these power plants can now be modeled to last for far longer than the original 15-30 years. Can we expect a solar or wind plant to produce electricity for 50 years now?

First Evidence That Offshore Wind Farms Are Changing the Oceans – “Once all the planned wind farms are in operation, they will provide habitat for mussels that are equal to 20 percent of the current stock from natural mussel beds along the coast,” say Slavik and co. Blue mussels themselves also significantly change this environment. They support other species, since their shells and shell litter are habitats for other creatures. The way blue mussels filter feed makes water clearer, and they concentrate nutrients for other species. This increases “the degree of habitat complexity, encouraging a higher level of species richness,” say the team. The argument is over – wind farms increase reef like activity for sea life. Is there a way for us to farm this? It’ll add to the revenue of wind farms. Solar farms growing mushrooms? Sounding a bit utopian to me…I’ll take it.

The UK commissioned its first subsidy-free solar power plant with battery storage – The solar panels and the battery storage units were supplied by the Chinese manufacturer BYD, while Huawei supplied its ‘ground-breaking’ 1,500V inventers that have been used for the first time in Europe and are said to maximise power conversion. Analysts argue that locating new projects next to ones that already benefit from subsidy schemes is a crucial factor to drive down costs. The analysts have a point in that the local grid was probably already upgraded to handle the solar – new tranformers, possibly upgraded infrastructure, etc. However – the power plant, on its own – with the energy storage – will provide an example for the many solar plants already in place to expand. That means we’ll get a lot more solar power+storage coming to the UK that requires no additional tax payer support.

Is It Illegal in Florida to Power Your Home With Solar After a Storm Because of Lobbying? – A few days ago, I told you all that it was a false conspiracy theory that it was illegal to go off grid in Florida. And now – it is official – because it is has hit Snopes. Let us all remember the day your trusty CommercialSolarGuy totally beat Snopes to the punch! 🙂

Interesting chart below – German are HUGELY supportive of Energiewende. However, at the same moment, they’re still a bit upset at the progress. Expect the people to keep pushing these programs – and hammering their politicians to do a better job at making the policy side of things happen.


Header image from the ‘Hit me with your SunShot‘ photography contest. Since I’ve shown each of the winning photographs – I’ve now moved into showing off some of the images that didn’t ‘win’ – but are beautiful nonetheless. These images are located on the flickr account page of SunShot. Ivanpah Solar Project Nevada. Photo by Steve Davis.

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