About the Author

John Fitzgerald Weaver

@SolarInMASS

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar consultant – aka The Commercial Solar Guy. As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects worth more than $10 million, ranging from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain – as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier, climbs mountains, played football, enjoys an IPA or scotch, needs to get away, and really loves this strange connection between politics, energy, finance, environment, etc in the energy world, and likes run on sentences.

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

Yesterday

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

SPP Sets New Records for Wind Generation – Wind resources peaked at 13,587 MW at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 4 and then again at 14,150 MW at 9:55 p.m., bettering the old record of 13,342 MW, set on Feb. 9. And per the graph the peak was about 56.25% of total electricity. They suggest that this record means breaking 75% is within the technical possibilities. That’s a lot of wind power in the Midwest USA.

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December 13

Solar power and energy storage (batteries) have fallen in price enough that they’re now competing with the cost of natural gas peaker plants in specific markets. New analysis is suggesting 10GW of natural gas peaker plants are at risk through 2027 in the USA specifically.

Other, more aggressive suggestions don’t see a place for gas peaker plants after 2020 in the USA. It seems the age of the renewable energy plus energy storage power plant is upon us.

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

Wind Turbines as Artistic Canvas – Senvion, a German wind turbine manufacturer supports local artists by allowing them to use its turbines as an artistic canvas. Artists in Portugal and Australia have also collaborated with their local wind industry to create original works of art. Imagine painting wind turbines so they create a sort of optical illusion and blend themselves into the local environment. Could we gain optical benefit from these giant structures?

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December 12

SunPower’s stock jumped 12% on Monday partially because an analyst is highly impressed with the sales opportunity of the P Series solar panel.

The solar panel raises efficiency partially through the use of a weird $9 trick – shingling solar cells – to maximize direct sunlight on silicon. The new panel could be built in the world’s largest capacity solar panel factory.

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

Energy Storage Well Past the ‘Tipping Point,’ Panel Says – A mix of comments, So, 10 years from now, do I think we’ll have a commercially available storage technology that’s below $100/kWh? Sure.; “I think you could argue that the tipping point was several years ago when big PJM systems started to come online,”; and “We’re looking at much more ambitious efforts that would require the attributes of a flow battery, which is a minimum of six to 12 hours of energy.”. A lot to unpack in this article – including a reference to storage being too expensive relative to a large number of energy actions. Big, pretty words though – we’re past a tipping point, but not yet to wide market application yet – which means we believe the amount of projects that can get built-in smaller expensive, incentivized markets is enough to build the factories that will deliver the learning curve benefits. A machine is in motion that seems to now generate its own steam.

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December 11

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

Longi claims 82.15% bifaciality record for its PERC solar cell – Bifaciality is commonly defined as the ratio of the output measured from the rearside of a cell over the output measured from its front side. According to Longi, the bifaciality of standard bifacial PERC solar in the market is currently around 75%. The manufacturer announced it has achieved an 82.15% bifaciality world record for its bifacial PERC monocrystalline cell, dubbed Hi-MO2. Bifacial is real folks, and even if you only get 10% more electricity because your roof doesn’t reflect as nicely as others, you’re still getting 10% more energy. In perfect settings, I’ve read of efficiency going up 30% – though I’ve not seen it personally.

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December 8

LG is pushing out their upgraded “Neon R” and “Neon AC” solar panels to the residential solar market in the USA. The Neon R peaks at 365W and 21.1% efficiency in a 60 cell format. The Neon AC – with an integrated Enphase Microinverter – peaks at 330W and a 19.3% efficiency.

Both panels are available immediately.

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

China market: GCL SIT automates PV module production – Becoming a smart dark factory via full automation, the PV module factory has managed to reduce the number of its workers from 52 to eight and also lowered its defect rate by 0.1pp, said the report. On one side of the building they have pallets coming in, on the other side they have pallets leaving – drivers manage the product. They shut the lights off inside the building. The only people employed are engineers, robot technicians, and those needed to secure the site. This is the future of manufacturing as a whole, but it’s hitting the solar power industry hard as there is a need to scale quickly and economically.

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Facebook’s (soon to be) solar-powered, wifi serving, laser mesh network drone, the Aquila, is retiring to the V&A – the world’s leading museum of art and design – in London.

The plane has completed two successful test flights, one each in 2016 and 2017. Facebook’s goal is to create a broad network of technology to deliver internet connectivity to the 1.6 billion on earth without access.

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December 7

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

First Solar produces first S6 module, seals 800 MW of deals – The 1.2 x 2 meter modules are expected to become commercially available at 420-445 watts with efficiencies of over 17%. First Solar expects to have around 3 GW of annual capacity in 2018, 5 GW in 2019 and 5.7 GW in 2020. I’m excited to see that First Solar is at 17% with a thin film product. Also nice to see First Solar with plans to double capacity.

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December 6

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

Solar Power Plant O&M: Robots Offer Smarter Way to Protect and Enhance Your Investment – Two reasons I’m posting this, 1 – They’ve got a great chart that shows the value of having a robot cleaning from a financial sense perspective. In that chart they do use a great price of 1.78¢/kWh in a PPA as their base price. And 2 – They’re pulling the cleaning robots with pickup trucks. Robots cleaning large-scale solar panel installations will get smarter, and will see improved design – but being part automatic and part human is creative maximization of resources. Check out the short video at the end. The hardware requires two people to place it on a double row of solar panels. I wonder if there will be a residential solar panel cleaner that’s really smart at finding the edges of solar panels once you place it on the roof yourself…

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Puerto Ricans in the coastal town of Loíza have looked to an MIT invention to get their water supply flowing again. Serving 600 Puerto Ricans, the solar plus water purification system produces 850 gallons of clean drinking water daily, with rooftop rain barrels as storage.

The solar panels used are a rollable thin-film product.

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December 5

Tesla leads solar securitization market well past $1B in 2017 – seeking $131 million

Tesla is looking for partners to buy into more solar power projects. The company is reaching out to the market for $131 million.

Solar asset backed investments have broken through $1B this year – to just over $1.4B – for the first time, led by Tesla and Mosaic.

The coal and nuclear industry are lobbying the federal government for extra payments to store fuel on site because their current cost structures cannot compete in the US power markets. The Trump administration has suggested a $70 billion tax on US electricity consumers that could bring about an additional 27,000 deaths.

Murray Energy Corporation, a coal company, CEO Bob Murray says of the tax, ‘It’s the single greatest action that has been taken in decades to support low-cost reliable electric power in the United States. It has to happen.’

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

The Trade Case Just Put $1 per Watt Solar Pricing Back Out of Reach – As I read something I hadn’t thought about, that Suniva will kill the $1/W utility market in the USA, I’m reminded of a short story I read as a kid. Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers. And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang! Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well. They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun. They leaped like deer on the moon. Solar power is being shackled. Tied and restrained. I am being a bit emotional, but that’s the type of guy I am. Fly, solar, fly.

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December 4

Stanford University has found design inspiration with solar cell material perovskites by analyzing the microlenses in the compound eye of an assassin fly. By utilizing the hexagonal substructures of the fly eye – they’ve strengthened and stabilized the nascent solar material.

Perovskite is the solar power media darling that is slowly inching toward the marketplace. Constant and quick evolution has earned it outsized attention. An Electrek revisit seems timely as some are suggesting pilot products in 2018 and the product recently broke 26.4% efficiency in labs.

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Tesla, as a result of purchasing SolarCity and their ongoing litigation, is headed to the US Supreme Court. Interestingly, the case headed to the Supreme Court is an off shoot of the original case filed.

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

Elon Musk’s SA battery record will be short-lived as rivals go even bigger – South Korea’s Hyundai Electric & Energy Systems is building a 150-megawatt lithium-ion unit, 50 per cent larger than Musk’s, that the company says will go live in about three months in Ulsan near the southeast coast. And then this plant will be passed by a larger one. And then it will happen again. I remember sometime in 2016 when I used to only retweet solar projects that were 100MW or larger – and I was amazed at the project sizes. Now, 1GW gets my attention. Soon – that’ll be with batteries too. When will we see the first 1GW announcement? 2018 maybe, 2019 definitely.

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December 1

Suniva solar is trying hard to sell its soul and it just might win. The ITC Section 201 trade case – in which Suniva is suing all global solar power manufacturers for too much competition – was bankrolled by an investment firm, SQN Capital Management, in order to use as leverage to extort successful solar power companies to buy the hardware of the failed manufacturer. The investment firm attempted to get a buyer in May, stating that a successful sale would negate the need for the lawsuit. They failed at finding a buyer and the lawsuit has passed the point of no return.

Now it seems Suniva might still win, as two major solar companies – LONGi and Canadian Solar, seem to have shown interest in buying their assets.

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NY Governor Cuomo has signed into law a bill (AB 6571) directing the state’s Public Service Commission to develop an Energy Storage Deployment Program, including a storage procurement target for 2030.

New York now becomes the fourth US state to have energy storage targets/mandates. California and Oregon have a mandate in place, while Massachusetts has set a law that dictates a target to be finalized shortly. South Australia turned on the world’s largest lithium ion battery just yesterday.

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