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US Takes India Back To World Trade Organisation In Solar Power Dispute – India unveiled its national solar programme in 2011, seeking to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia’s third-largest economy without creating pollution. But the United States complained to the WTO in 2013, saying the programme was discriminatory and US solar exports to India had fallen by 90 percent from 2011. The United States won the case last year, when WTO appeals judges ruled India had broken the trade rules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-made cells and modules. Such “local content” requirements are banned because they discriminate in favour of domestic firms and against foreign competitors. Everyone inhale, exhale, and realize that we – the United States of America – are about to become some of the largest clean energy hypocrites on the planet. In order to get money from the bank bailout in 2009, there was a Made in America requirement. Now, we’re going to tax a solar panel from everywhere else on the planet because we can’t keep up. Sad.
Latin America’s largest PV project comes online – The Villanueva III projects, part of the 754 MW Villanueva complex, has started to inject power to the Mexican grid nine months ahead of schedule. The reason I wanted to post this article is because we saw hundreds of MW of solar power come online 9 months early. An interesting thing about solar power is that if you put one inverter in place, with some panels and a grid connection, it starts making power immediately. This full 754MW plant is not complete yet, but people are making money from it – and that money being made, could – in theory – be used to fund later construction.
German PV repowering trend to continue in 2018 – By replacing the older (lower performing) modules with more powerful ones, the performance of the entire plant is significantly increased, which improves the yield for the owner and investor. This process is known as repowering. I’d never thought about upgrading a solar system by only attacking the lowest performing solar panels. Since panels are on a string, and everyone on the string is affected by everyone else – replacing the least performing panel will increase the whole string. Cool. I don’t think this will work with a system that has a SolarEdge with inverters though – these units already account for ‘module mismatch.’ However, if you’ve got an older solar system and you want a boost – figure out which panels are failing, and switch them out. That might be a challenging test though…
New technique allows rapid screening for new types of solar cells – They have developed a set of tools that can be used to make accurate, rapid assessments of proposed materials, using a series of relatively simple lab tests combined with computer modeling of the physical properties of the material itself, as well as additional modeling based on a statistical method known as Bayesian inference. The system involves making a simple test device, then measuring its current output under different levels of illumination and different voltages, to quantify exactly how the performance varies under these changing conditions. These values are then used to refine the statistical model. Pretty cool – tools to improve the speed at which deep research comes to the market. I know that PERC, which is just having an effect these days, started its development in the middle/late 1980s. Perovskite, which grabs all the headlines and is just getting funding to build a factory just now, was really started up in 2009. These new technologies take time to fine tune, and then take more time to get them into the mainstream.
Halogens can increase ‘dye sensitized’ solar cell performance by 25 per cent – The solar power window products we see floating around use dye sensitized solar panels. It’d be great if this type of product was increased in efficiency to 25% from the 7-14% efficiencies found in the marketplace today.
Department of Energy Announces $12 Million to Advance Early-Stage Solar Research – Four projects are aimed at making significant advances in predicting solar generation. Another project at the University of Arizona will build a testing framework to allow industry and academia to evaluate and compare the performance of advanced models according to a transparent set of rules and metrics. Finally, three projects will study the integration of advanced forecasting technologies with grid planning and operations systems in partnership with the California Independent System Operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. I like that tools for advanced planning and operations are being developed. Much of the research suggests we can get to high levels of renewables – 30% on the east coast of the USA – before we need big amounts of storage. These tools, that help us fine tune the running of the power grid beast, will allow us to touch those levels without endangering ourselves.
Floating above the clouds, it’s as if we’re on another planet.
Featured image is from the Department of Energy SunShot program. Nome Hospitality, Rancho Cordova, CA. Photo by Michele Parry.