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

Massachusetts becomes first state commission to approve mandatory demand charges for residential solar customers – A demand charge is based upon your peak electricity usage during the month. If, on Thursday at 2 PM, you were fast charging a car, washing dishes, taking a shower, running the AC, etc. and you set a usage record – the power utility would then be legally obligated to build infrastructure to able to handle that peak, even if only once. And oftentimes, that value holds for 18 months. This practice is much more common in commercial billing – I see it more often than not, having a demand charge is normal. The best way to manage your peak is to limit what you turn on and when, the second best way – a programmed battery that knows when to step up based upon internal demand. This applies to ‘net metering’ (solar) customers only.

Washington Gov. Inslee unveils carbon tax plan – Under bills introduced in the House and Senate, a proposed tax of $20 per metric ton of carbon emissions would start on July 1, 2019 and increase annually by 3.5 percent over inflation. The tax would raise about $1.5 billion over the first two years and an estimated $3.3 billion over the next four years. Half of the money from the tax — which would be paid by power plants and fuel importers but would ultimately affect consumers — would go into efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as programs to expand opportunities for renewable energy at both homes and utilities, and research of clean energy technology. An additional 35 percent would go into flood management and storm water infrastructure, and would also be used to reduce risks of wildfires. This is it. Everyone watch how this evolves. Watch who funds the attacks on it. Watch who supports it (I’m an environmentally minded solar developer). The structure of the program – taking carbon tax money and applying it directly to future CO2 limitation, while updating our infrastructure to live in our new climate is exactly the two-pronged approach we need. It’s our reality. Responsible utilization of this money is of the utmost importance for the people’s emotions to stay in it.

Solar wafer production to see over-capacity by year-end 2018Short supply of solar mono-Si wafers since first-half 2017 has prompted LONGi Green Energy Technology and Zhonghuan Semiconductor – the two largest China-based makers – as well as others in the country’s supply chain to expand production capacities – to a 165GW capacity, a large portion which will come online in 2018, the sources said. Global production capacity for solar mono-Si wafers will rise from 40GWp currently to 65GWp by the end of 2018. In the same period, global production capacity for solar cells will increase from 120GWp currently to 145GWp, the sources noted. Monocrystalline volume will increase from 40 to 65GW. This projection crossed with a new term I’m hearing from silicon manufactures – ” low-carbon production of advanced technology silicon ingots and wafers” – this means the former advantage that polysilicon had in manufacturing costs (electricity usage fundamentally) over monosilicon is disappearing. China has recently pulled back production at multiple polysilicon factories forcing the price up – helping monosilicon better compete. Expect mono to dominate soon. That means you’ll have higher efficiency solar panels for the lower ‘entry level products.’ Also note the capacities globally – 165GW wafers/145 cells/anyone got a handy number on module assembly?

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements collapse in Q3 2017 – How about some mixed signals, but not really – this article will get further attention from me, however, I thought its data a good compliment to the above commentary. Check out the graphs, invest some time if you want to who is building big volume.

The Relative Importance of Aesthetics in the Adoption Process of Solar Panels in the Netherlands – This document was given to me by the fine folks at Solaria, and they say it drives their chase of good-looking panels plus solid performance. I wasn’t surprised – but it was nice to see clear data. People want good-looking panels – follow the tweets to see a summary of what drives purchasing:

I’ve never been involved in a project that applied directly to FERC, but I have been on projects that paid $15,000 to the electricity utility for them to do engineering studies on the grid and determine what grid upgrades we’d have to pay for (power lines/transformers), and how our system would interact with other local solar hardware.

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