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

Tracking the Sun 10: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States – In total, data for this report were compiled and cleaned for more than 1.1 million individual PV systems, though the analysis in the report is based on a subset of that sample, consisting of roughly 630,000 systems with available installed price data. High level – prices have fallen further, but the price decline rate has slowed greatly. If you were waiting – it might be the time before Suniva tariffs hit. If you’re looking for guidance on what others, in the recent past, have paid for solar power in your region, this report is one of my favorites every time it is released. Here is the short version of the presentation – I recommend it if you want fast guidance, as a quick double-check versus quotes you’ve got from multiple vendors (and see image at bottom of article for state/size level pricing). If you really love the data – check out the long document.

Climate Shocks May Cost U.S. $1 Billion a Day as Planet Heats Up – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have inflicted an estimated $173 billion in damage in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On the West Coast, record dry conditions and heat have triggered wildfires in nine states. Droughts in states including California, Texas and Oregon have led to $56 billion in crop losses since 2012. If global warming goes unchecked, corn and soybean production may fall as much as 30 percent in the next three decades, costing farmers as much as $25 billion annually, according to the study. Our arguments concerning cleaning up pollution and managing climate, in perfect worlds, ought not be philosophized using money. There ought be some perfect realization that a stable climate, healthy individuals and clean environments are worth our thought processes during the design of everything we do. That is not the case however. We live in a world with limited resources, limited time and a large chunk of the population who cares to be entertained first. If so, then how about we start to calculate $1,000,000,000 a day? Before health effects of course.

Report: Illinois EPA to loosen pollution limits to keep Dynegy coal plants afloat – Under the new rules, regulators would reportedly impose annual caps on criteria pollutants, rather than limits on the rate of pollution from each plant. The change could help the dirtiest plants in Dynegy’s fleet to operate longer than they otherwise would. Changing emissions standards might allow Dynegy to avoid installing costly scrubbers on those plants, removing a massive expenditure on the horizon for the financially strapped plants. Why are we trying to support a dead industry? The owner of these plants even said it clearly – cheap gas, wind and subsidized nuclear will put coal out of business. Good. That’s the goal.

A single Tesla Powerpack battery saved this Australian town over $1.5 million in grid connection costs – The system was so far from the grid that it would have cost them $1.9 million ($1.5 million USD) to get a connection. In order to take the system off-grid, they installed a 95 kWh Tesla Powerpack with the company’s new commercial inverter. We are now clearly within the world of energy storage vs extending the power grid via complex infrastructure development, and we’re starting to see that in the more remote areas it isn’t even a competition. Remember – not only would it have cost $1.5M to extend the grid – but the location would have then had to pay for electricity indefinitely.

Energy Department Launches Up to $15 Million to Tackle Solar Desalination – Generally, water and electricity are different topics. However, if we’re going to talk green (and since the above article is about a PowerPack+Solar Electricity managing water treatment) – we need reference that many regions in the world are water stressed, and with an expandeing human footprint, more areas will become so. Interesting about the studies being done are that they focus on using solar thermal energy to heat the water vs solar electricity. This makes sense – sunlight to electricity, to standard desalination is very inefficient – lots of conversions. Sunlight to heating water is a direct process. If we can start pulling water directly from the ocean in large amounts and processing it for human usage, I suspect we’ll one day have large pipeline systems moving inland from the ocean.

U.S. Senators Introduce The Advancing Grid Storage Act – Three goals: Advancing energy storage research and development; Establishing a technical assistance program for energy storage systems; and Supporting demonstration and deployment of energy storage systems. Let’s be real first – there have been multiple energy storage bills introduced that have gone nowhere. We are in a harsh partisan political time where legislation that could benefit energy sources away from coal have a challenge to move forward. And these two Senators are Democrats in a political structure fully controlled by Republicans. So don’t hold your breath, however, do see clearly that ideas are evolving and the politicians are putting their chips on the table.

Arizona utility will use ‘reverse demand response’ to avoid renewables curtailment – Lowering demand in times of tight supply is a well-known concept, he said, but so far the idea of turning up demand is relatively new. While APS’ program is specific to dispatchable non-essential loads, the same concepts can apply to a wide range of load types. Electric vehicle charging is one possibility, as is grid-connected energy storage. In essence, instead of putting the electricity into the dirt – shutting down hardware that is running – or paying third parties to accept electricity – the new model might be to creatively find uses for excess electricity by turning on a whole bunch of hardware as is needed. It really is just a spin on certain techniques we’ve already seen – similar’ish to charging a battery during a peak period and using the electricity later. That utilities are doing this en masse though, it means we’re crossing into lands anew.

Wanna know how scared the fossil fuel groups are – Tony Abbott says defence powers should be used to force states to approve mining projects – old people who are out of touch, but have been very close to the levels of power are suggesting using military might to force mining of resources over the local politicians. This is no different from what the USA/UK have done across the Middle East, but here it is without disguise – straight up, “Mine or we will war” and it is against the man’s own people.

From the header story – state level solar pricing in the top image, and pricing based upon size in the lower image. Other variables than just state/size affect pricing (high vs low efficiency, black panels that are aesthetically pleasing vs standard aluminum, etc), but here is a good start.

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. Working on the racking in Kuna, Idaho and a bit of a blizzard rolled through. Photo by Dalton Huston-Bursaw. The solar racking holds the solar panels – it looks like this racking is a single axis tracking system at first glass. The solar panels might be in the brown boxes (possibly not), or off to the right of the image.

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