John Fitzgerald Weaver

@SolarInMASS

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a director of business development at Solect Energy. He’s developed and managed 50+ solar projects worth more than $10 million, ranging from 5 to 1500kW. He’s been involved in nearly every aspect in solar development – as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier.

Check out his projects at commercialsolarguy.com – where he shares his expertise developing commercial solar in New England.

John can talk shop all day about solar – get in touch with him via Twitter, email or the article comments!

Current and occasional stock positions that I have written about are ASYS, TSLA, CAFD and TAN – plus Bitcoin and Etherium.

June 23

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

Obama energy secretary launches nonprofit – Ernest Moniz, who taught physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for decades before becoming energy secretary in 2013, is heading up the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) along with two high-level staffers from his time at the Department of Energy (DOE) – Moniz seemed to do well as energy secretary for Obama. An educated man who knows energy from an academic and political standpoint. Thank you Moniz.

Panasonic HIT solar module achieves world’s best output temperature coefficient – standard silicon solar cell’s output temperature coefficient is -0.50%, which denotes a decline of 0.50% in the conversion efficiency as the module temperature rises by 1°C – Panasonic Corporation has achieved the world’s leading output temperature coefficient for mass-produced silicon photovoltaic modules, at -0.258%/°C. – This is cool. They’ve almost cut in half the efficiency losses associated with heat. I never even knew this type of research was going on. I expect to see other manufacturers do the same soon.

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June 22

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

Solar’s new sweet spot: Low cost, compact PV plants at $1/watt – 10.9MW solar plant at Barcaldine in Queensland will set a new benchmark for capital costs in Australia, at just a few cents over $1/watt – I’ve never seen a ‘small’ project like this at such a low price, in addition – this is Australia where labor costs are not cheap. If 10MW plants can be built at $1/W in a high labor cost market – I’m very optimistic. Secondly – this project was super dense: ~0.6MW/acre – because of a new product called PEG, delivered by German solar firm Belectric. I’m used to building 0.2MW/acre. Of course, I do build systems that face due south with 30° angles – meaning lots of shade.

Mississippi Regulators Seek to End Southern Co. ‘Clean-Coal’ Plant – A $7.5B experiment with tax payer money to create ‘clean coal’ has failed. Now, regulators are telling the company to convert to gas from coal and that no more costs overruns will be passed onto electricity rate payers. Clean coal doesn’t exist. We’ve been trying to clean it since the beginning of the industrial revolution. There’s a coal plant that pumps the CO2 underground – but is this really a smart policy?

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June 21

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

South Miami Mayor Blames FPL for Robocalls Against New Solar Panel Plan – South Miami: population 12,000 — wants to become the first in Florida with an ordinance requiring every new residential home, building, or apartment complex to install solar panels. – What happens when a city says they want solar power? The utilities get back to their lying and manipulation of the people. This is a county that will be underwater – they want to do something real – and now they’re getting phone calls that are illegal during political elections. And when you hear the BS denial from the utilities – remember How the electricity utilities “use a little bit of political jiu-jitsu” to steal the sun.

Phoenix flights cancelled because it’s too hot for planes – Definition of an externality is a cost that isn’t paid for at the time of purchase. We human have warmed the world so much, that our atmosphere is fundamentally changing.

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9to5toys 

June 20

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

Lyft says all of its self-driving electric cars will be powered by ‘100% renewable energy’ – First, Lyft is going to move themselves to an all electric fleet of vehicles. Then they’ll start buying renewable energy certificates to balance out the electric charging. As an aside, I uninstalled Uber from my phone and installed Lyft awhile back (terrible company morals on the Uber side).

Countries With the Most Wind and Solar Have 10 Times Fewer Outages Than America – This doesn’t necessarily mean that the solar/wind increase grid stability. It probably means that those countries investing in wind/solar are also investing in smarter grid technologies concurrently. But this does clearly show evidence that grid stability and renewable can peacefully co-exist.  Germany produced 82 percent of its electricity from renewables for a period of several days in May. Denmark gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables on many days of the year. Yet both nations have electric grids that are 10 times more reliable than America’s. 

So any time someone tells you that renewables and EVs destroy the grid, you can counter with the above.  expand full story

June 19

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

‘Energy Choice’ is politics for fossil fuels in fight against solar power – Nevada Governor notes ‘Energy Choice’ as part of his logic for vetoing an increase in clean energy for the state. Whenever you hear the term ‘Energy Choice’ understand that this phrase was remarketed by fossil fuel interests to tap into the US spirit for free markets. We know clearly the fossil fuels don’t believe in free markets – otherwise they’d offer to pay for the pollution they cause. Secondly – Sandoval, the Governor in question, is in a challenging position. He’s got the most enigmatic entrepreneur in a generation on the one side with his Gigafactory in Reno – and we got Warren Buffett with his $60B on the other side that owns the electricity company. Of course, Buffet is more like Musk – and the people  (Koch Brothers, Exxon, Peabody, etc) pushing the term “energy choice” to this Governor are using Buffett as a front.

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June 16

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

Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think – 34% of global electricity from wind/solar by 2040, and an additional drop in price of 66%. Interesting – article notes solar dropped in price 66% between 2009 and today. In China, new solar will be cheaper than new coal in the early 2020s. In Europe, coal capacity will fall by 87%. Projections are cool – one cool thing to consider: almost everyone that is an ‘expert’ has underestimated the growth of renewables.

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9to5mac 

June 15

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

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Over $4.6 Million in Grants for Peak Demand Reduction Projects – The state has put money behind 9 grants aimed at reducing peak demand via, mostly, deploying energy storage intelligently. For instance – Tesla – $996,455 – Will demonstrate aggregated energy storage for peak demand reduction in National Grid territory. Tesla will work to quantify the benefits of the demonstrated peak demand reductions and evaluate the model’s viability at scale. – This reminds me of Tesla’s distributed grid work in Vermont. Look at the list of projects (it’s short). Within three to four years, Massachusetts will have the fundamental knowledge – funded and trusted by their taxpayers – to change move their energy grid well into the 21st century.

Clean energy stored in electric vehicles to power buildings – Given that battery degradation is dependent on calendar age, capacity throughput, temperature, state of charge, current and depth of discharge, V2G is an effective tool that can be used to optimize a battery’s conditions such that degradation is minimized. Hence, taking excess energy from an idle EV to power the grid actually keeps the battery healthier for longer – These batteries are worth too much to just sit in cars. If this research is correct, and we can use the grid to optimize batteries while the grid uses those batteries for services, then we need redo all of our equations for getting energy storage onto the grid to make use of electric car batteries also.

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June 14

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

Inside “Steel Pulse,” The Project That Became Elon Musk’s Solar RoofInternally at SolarCity, the solar roof product was far from what Musk would consider market-ready, let alone beautiful, according to nearly a dozen sources familiar with the projectMusk told Peter and other team members that they were wasting his time with this “piece of shit.” The concept of solar power integrated into a metal seem roof sounds pretty damn compelling – for a commercial structure at least. On a residential? C’mon – people whine about solar panels being big, ugly and square, that’s why it has to be these pretty tiles. I agree with Musk’s opinion on what would catch customer’s eyes. As an aside, I’d like to get some rights to the original Steel Pulse and start pitching it to commercial groups. (Also is steel pulse sounds like a Ben Stiller modeling pose)

Apple moves closer to 100% renewable energy as it issues $1 billion green bond – The company is investing in solar energy, hydroelectric plants and biogas facilities in Oregon, North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and California, including $850 million on a 130-megawatt solar farm near San Francisco over the next quarter century, and Apple Energy has received permission to sell power to the wholesale energy markets. $1B is a lot of money – Apple is going much deeper than just clean electricity though.

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June 13

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

Solar Decathlon Teams Enter Construction Phase; Readying for October Competition – U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests. The contests evaluate cost-effective design; innovation balanced with market potential; water and energy efficiency; energy production and time-of-use energy; and communications strategies (link) – Article here is cool. Gives some updates on the teams – best part of article is that it links to all of the twitter accounts for the teams. Also see tweet at bottom of article.

Moore’s Law: Two economists believe they can make reasonably secure predictions about the future cost of solar power – In short, there’s no equivalent for Moore’s Law when it comes to fossil fuels and nuclear power. Here the trend has been unmistakable, with the price per unit dropping a very steady 10 percent per year– We got to watch one of those flowing accelerations of Moore’s law with solar panel pricing during the last year. We’re going to see it keep happening because of efficiency gains and further scale. Moore’s Law can sometimes be described as a Learning Curve – the more people you have looking at something, the more answers and gains they will find.

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9to5google 

June 12

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

Germany’s First Onshore Wind Auction Brings Low Prices for Citizen-Owned Projects – Community projects — wind farms owned directly by citizens — made up 93% of the winning bids (65) or 96% of the volume – Locals are pooling resources to build energy. This document from 2014 – presents that there were close to 1,000 citizen owned projects and that those citizens represent 50% of all renewable ownership in the country. These numbers line up with what I’ve read in the past. You wonder why Germans approve paying some of the highest rates of electricity in the developed world? 50% of that green energy tax and electricity revenue goes back to the people – not international conglomerates or energy utilities. Voters like concrete paychecks versus distant financiers. Solar power and wind jobs – same thing. Side note – 1.7 million personal solar systems and greater than 50,000 battery systems. Cost of capital from regular folk much cheaper than investor groups – risk tolerances higher.

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June 9

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

Solar panel industry repays its energy ‘debt’: study – Climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them – The whole of the solar industry, all of what has been built up to and including this morning – minus all of the clean electricity produced, is net zero officially. Now, this still means the solar industry has contributed to our current total CO2 volume in the atmosphere – and future production will be part of the CO2 released – but, from here on out all production, essentially will be lower than the clean energy being produced globally. Another cool observation – authors found that for every doubling in solar capacity installed, energy used to produce decreased by 12-13 percent, and dropped by 17-24 percent. In general – a solar system will cover its carbon budget in 12 months.

California regulators weigh whether the state needs more power plants – This is what we really want to see start happening. When utility-scale energy generation is being discussed, solar or wind+storage are the leading players because they are cleaner. This pull back on natural gas plants has a lot to do with a power glut in California, but never before has there been true discussion of replacement with renewable sources.

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June 8

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

America’s biggest greenhouse-gas polluter, and the place that relies on it – Southern Company spent more than all but a dozen other U.S. companies on federal lobbying during the 2016 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — nearly $14 million. – Another number from the article: Southern has spent nearly $12 billion on pollution controls at its plants since 1990.

US 1st Quarter Solar Power Report – A few facts from this report I thought were interesting. 1. 2GW of volume in the quarter. 1st quarter is always the slowest of the year – so we’ll see what the whole year does. 2. Total solar volume installed in the US will be down 10% to about 12.6GW, from just above 14GW. Most of the fall will be in the utility-scale area. 3. Fixed tilt, utility-scale solar power below $1/W. That’s cool. 4. Residential solar and commercial will grow annually – though residential will be slower than times past, however, it is also transitioning to more cash than lease.

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June 7

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

Nevada Just Became the Most Exciting State for Energy Storage Policy – Nevada killing the duck curve: Each kilowatt-hour of energy delivered by a qualified energy storage device will count double for the purposes of meeting the RPS requirement…if discharged during peak period. This is great in one sense – it will drive energy storage people to attack the duck curve (early evening peak usage as people get home). The flip side though – if electricity coming from a battery counts toward the RPS, and the original electricity made by the solar system counts toward the RPS – then will they want less total clean energy? Got a tweet out to the author to get some refinement.

Retired military brass urge U.S. to lead world on advanced (not clean) energy – Released in a report titled, ‘Advanced Energy and US National Security,’ former US military leaders push current US leadership to take up ‘Advanced Energy’ for strong global security reasons. The document advises the United States position itself as energy demand shifts toward China and India from Europe and the USA. As countries who control and produce energy sign larger deals with larger populations, it may place further stress on the US geopolitical positions. The report says nothing of climate change and focuses solely upon energy and its effect on military might. Good enough reason for me.

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9to5toys 

June 6

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

‘Extraordinary’ month for Scottish renewable energy – “On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland’s total electricity demand.” – Plus references to solar power being able to meet 100% of household needs across more than a few of the major cities. Scotland is aiming for 100% renewable electricity by 2020 (experts think they’ll hit 87%) and 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Nevada Governor Sandoval says he will sign bill to bring rooftop solar back to Nevada – Net metering, at lower rates, is returning to Nevada. AB 405 would immediately allow rooftop solar customers to be reimbursed for excess generation from a solar system at 95 percent of the retail electricity rate. Over time, though, customer compensation would decline. The amended bill would create tiers, where credit rates decrease in increments for every 80 megawatts of rooftop solar generation deployed — to a floor of 75 percent of the retail rate. Net metering does apply to the Tesla solar roof – I only mention that because it is talked about in the above article as Tesla says they’ll return to the state.

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June 5

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

Sempra VP surprises, says 100 percent renewable grid is possible now“We have a solution now to adjust the intermittency of solar and wind energy that is no longer a technology challenge. Now it is an economic decision,” said Patrick Lee, Sempra Energy vice president for major project controls. “So installing a base load power plant is no longer your only option. You can now look at solar, wind and storage as alternatives, and still be able to manage the reliability of the grid.But today my answer is: The technology has been resolved. How fast do you want to get to 100 percent? That can be done today.”  The gentlemen followed up in a later tweet saying, for now though – we are still dependent on gas until wind/solar/storage scales. Yes, we have the technology – economics will drive our decisions now.

US Climate Alliance – 9 US states have stated that they will meet their requirements of the Paris Agreement, despite pulling the US out of the international agreement. These states represent 14% of US emissions. Of course, California, New York and Washington State were founding members. Citizens – might you consider calling your local representative to let them know of this group? That’d be you doing your civic duty, if you agree of course.

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June 2

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

California Senate Passes (three) Major Clean Energy Bills – California State Senate passed three major clean energy bills, including one that would establish a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS), one that would mandate solar on most new buildings in the state, and one that would create an energy storage rebate program. It’s a fitting day for California to vote on these three bills.

DNV GL releases 2017 PV Module Reliability Scorecard – Module manufacturers who were defined as ‘Top Performers’ (alphabetical order): Astronergy, BYD, Flextronics, GCL, Hanwha Q CElls, Hyundai, Jinko Solar, Kyocera, LONGi, NSP, REC, S-Energy, Seaphim, Silfab, Solaria, SolarWorld, SunPower, SunSpark, Talesun, Trina Solar Vikram and Yingli – A further quote from the conclusion: We see several factors having a strong impact on reliability test results, including bill of materials, factory, and the importance that the manufacturer places on quality and reliability.

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9to5mac 

June 1

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

How Much Oil Are EVs Displacing? – 28,000 barrels a day predicted by the end of 2017 is the short answer – EVs are displacing 17.8 thousand barrels of oil per day as of the end of 2016. We expect global annual EV sales to increase further by 39% in 2017 and increase their fuel displacement values by 60% as BEVs are becoming more popular. – Some perspective now: ~96 million barrels of oil a day, and around 50% of it going for vehicle fuel. 28,000 of half the world’s oil usage is about 0.06% of the supply – not a lot…however…40% a year growth is something to pay attention to. That rate holding would mean no oil for vehicles in 23 years.

Legislature says homeowners associations can’t bar rooftop solar – The state of Oregon has passed a law stating Homeowners Associations are no longer allowed to deny solar panel installations. This was made law in Florida about a decade ago. Article notes that the process to make this a law started in 2013 – be patient, stay strong.

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May 31

Travis Fisher: Author of Rick Perry’s grid study called clean energy policies a greater threat than terrorism – The single greatest threat to reliable electricity in the U.S. does not come from natural disturbances or human attacks. Rather, the host of bad policies now coming from the federal government –  and unfortunately from many state governments – is creating far greater and more predictable problems with grid reliability. Now, you tell me whether you think the Department of Energy is going to deliver a fair study.

Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan herald the clean money revolution – “Socially Responsible Investing” – Across many areas of the world people are moving their cash into ‘cleaner’ places. Sometimes we make a lower return on investment in quarterly calculated returns on investments – but we recognize that there are benefits outside of out our standard valuation models. Mental well-being, peace of mind, physical health – these things are starting to matter. Trillions in investment money prove this.

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May 30

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

Solar+Wind met 10% of electricity demand in March in the USA – Hydro electricity from a wet spring season on the West Coast, which alone provided more than 10% of the nations’s electricity, as well as biomass and geothermal power, all renewable energy sources combined met 24% of electric demand in March – And if we add in the 20% we get from Nuclear power, 44% of electricity demand in the USA was met with non-fossil fuel electrons. We’re almost halfway there folks!

World Carbon Price Seen Needing to Increase Sevenfold by 2020 – The commission concluded that a $40 to $80 a ton range in 2020, rising to $50 to $100 a ton by 2030, would be consistent with the Paris target. EU carbon settled Friday at 5.19 euros ($5.80) a ton on ICE Futures Europe in London –  $40/ton will add 2.3¢/kWh to gas electricity, 4¢/kWh on coal and 36¢/gallon to gas. Stanford says the real price is $220/ton.

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9to5google 

May 29

‘On 25 May 2017, the United States notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 17 May 2017 a safeguard investigation on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.’ The official filing can be found here.

There’s a good chance any solar panels imported to the United States after these date will have a tariff added, if the USA – on or before September 22nd – decides solar panel imports have harmed domestic solar panel makers.

The US International Trade Comission will rule whether solar panel manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld have suffered ‘serious injury’ as a result of global competition. US consumers already pay increased prices for any solar cells or modules from China.  Suniva has requested that President Trump impose a four-year minimum import price on PV modules and cells – starting in year one at US$0.78 per watt for modules and $0.40 for cells.

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