In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • EnergySage launches a new community solar marketplace in the US so consumers can save money.
  • Sustainable lithium mining is becoming a requirement as battery demand grows.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Community solar marketplace

There are a number of household solar marketplaces online — kind of like our affiliate UnderstandSolar above! — and EnergySage offers a household solar marketplace, too.

Now, EnergySage has launched a community solar marketplace in nine states. It allows residents to subscribe to electricity produced from a local solar farm. Around 40 states have community solar, but the market is expanding so that there are more choices for consumers.

EnergySage’s community solar marketplace is currently concentrated in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, where community solar is more established and new projects in other states are being added regularly.

The EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace (click on the link to sign up or check it out) is now live and free for anyone interested in subscribing to a local solar farm. Agreements are short and simple, savings are locked in for up to 20 years, and there’s no penalty to cancel.

Enter your zip code and average electric bill to instantly review eligible projects available in your area. You can then compare options side by side, including the location of the project, estimated annual savings, how quickly each project is filling up, and customer reviews. If you don’t see any projects in your area, you can sign up to be notified when there are options available. 

John Gingrich, SVP new business development at EnergySage, said:

Community solar allows a far greater number of people the opportunity to benefit from solar power, including renters and individuals with lower income or poor credit.

Helping facilitate smart energy decisions for new, more diverse consumer segments is very important to us, as well as to the health and longevity of the community solar industry.

Community solar is one of the fastest-growing segments of the US solar market. Subscribers typically save 10% annually on their electricity costs – and of course reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by opting out of fossil fuels. 

Sustainable lithium mining

Lithium, as green energy storage fans and electric car drivers know, is a vital material in lithium-ion batteries. So sustainable mining of lithium is becoming increasingly important and even required.

Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia are known as the “lithium triangle,” because the three countries contain more than 70% of the world’s reserves of lithium beneath its salt flats. Australia is also a big source of lithium. So, as American Metal Market points out, “A key point of focus over the course of 2020 was the consumption of water in the lithium extraction process in South America.”

American Metal Market reports, for example:

In October, incumbent Chilean lithium producer Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) unveiled its sustainable development plan intended to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.

The miner pledged to immediately reduce the use of fresh water at its operations in Chile’s Salar de Atacama region by 30% in comparison with 2019 levels. It aims to raise this reduction to 50% by 2030.

The announcement followed renewed scrutiny of SQM’s use of fresh water and the effects that its operations have on the ecosystem of the western part of the Salar de Atacama area. A number of indigenous communities had raised concerns about its operations.

This is a result of pressure from Europe:

The EC proposes that from July 1, 2024, only rechargeable industrial and EV batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been established would be allowed entry into the European Union market.

Further, Mercedes-Benz said in November 2020 that it will only use batteries with materials from mines certified as sustainable. BMW has also just commissioned a study on sustainable lithium extraction in South America.

Here’s a HyperClips YouTube interview from July 2020 with former Tesla battery supply chain manager Vivas Kumar about the environmental impact of lithium extraction:

Photo: An artist’s rendering of Consumers Energy’s community solar farm at Grand Valley State University, Michigan

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