John Fitzgerald Weaver

@SolarInMASS

john at electrek dot co

Since 2005, John Fitzgerald Weaver has worked at the cross section of finance and solar. A project developer with an engineering background, his passion for solar technology is driven by a desire to learn mixed with a need to create a cleaner world. With energy as the second largest global industry and solar power growing at an increasing pace, the industry is in the midst of a global takeover of the electricity (and energy) industry. He has founded a solar construction company, managed for a global manufacturer and worked on projects in snowy and sunny states.

A strong believer in the potential of solar power, John recognizes the fundamental role of that energy has in food, shelter, transportation and survival. Using fire was a big step for people back in the day. Using the sun is and will be a big step for people of today. John’s interest in the solar life is an amalgamation of his expertise in technology, physics, politics and economics.

“My interests in technology, my belief in solar’s ability to effect change on multiple species, my need for intellectual growth and my desire to be a part of something important brought me to this fundamental industry,” he said. “I chose the Solar Life.”

He is currently focused on commercial and utility development as Project Developer at SolectIf you have a commercial or industrial solar project in the New York to New England region in in mind, please contact John at (561) 809-0482.

Yesterday

TSLA: 272.23

3.28
Stock Chart

70% of Mongolian herders have solar power – If the planet goes to crap because we’re fools and allow it to, its people like this – living as close to the land as possible – who will keep the species alive. And now they have access to electricity. When I traveled in China/Pakistan back in the summer of 2008, I saw a yurt with solar power. They have a radio and a refrigerator for medication. As well, fresh yak yogurt/milk is a taste that must be acquired.

Why liberals should support recently suggested carbon tax – The two main argument by liberals against the recently suggested carbon tax by Republicans in the USA are that 1. $40/ton is 1/5th what academics say the true cost is and 2. Its revenue neutral – without investing in infrastructure we’re just going to spend our carbon dividend on more oil and natural gas because we have no alternative opportunity. The article models that suggest $40/ton will meet current legislative goals set forth by the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement – if that is the case, then I would have to grudgingly accept…however – I won’t stop pushing for infrastructure incentives. If we don’t build infrastructure to replace natural gas/coal/internal combustion – we won’t win the planet back.

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February 18

TSLA: 272.23

3.28
Stock Chart

Arizona County put out Request for Proposal (RFP) for 1.5GW of solar power – Personally, this is the largest RFP I’ve seen in the US. There are headlines for projects in the Middle East at 5GW, one in India at 7.5GW and China sorta has an RFP of 20GW a year – but these nation-state led bids feel different than a county in the state of Arizona. 8,800 acres of desert (less than .005% of the more than 1.8 million acres of federal lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in La Paz County). This project will cost $1/W’ish – $1.5B in cost. And there is already a transmission line project in development to move the power. I’d love to get a commission on $1.5B…

23.6% achieved with perovskite – plus stability increases: The real reason I grabbed this article, other than a fascination with base level research, was this quote – ‘“The best silicon solar cell alone has achieved 26.3% efficiency,” says Zachary Holman, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Now we’re gunning for 30% with these tandem cells, and I think we could be there within two years.”’ I’ve never heard of someone seriously considering hitting 30% with a silicon solar cell efficiency. Yesterday, we saw SunPower at 25% on a production line and how that was 50% greater than average panels – imagine the labs being at double average panels in two years with a cheaper product like perovskite…wow.

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February 17

TSLA: 272.23

3.28
Stock Chart

SunPower hits 25% average efficiency – Getting to a certain efficiency in the lab is great, as setting that record tells us what is possible. More important in the real world – when your production line averages that high level efficiency. Not every solar cell that comes off the line is the same – during the binning process a solar manufacturer will test individual pieces to see how they turned out. The most efficient solar cells get put into the high-end, most expensive panels – the cells that test lower go to a different line of products. Something to consider – SunPower’s highest solar panels are in the 24% range, while the average panel being installed at the super cheap numbers you hear me talk about are at 16%. SunPower can fit 50% more electricity production in the same area. Also in article are quarterly/annual results.

Would you be interested in voting for a carbon dividend? – If the PR people can spin the term up – and help everyone ‘forget’ that it is a carbon tax, we’re all going to start singing the praises of a revenue neutral carbon dividen. The term itself won’t be the reason a carbon tax will win – broader society is in support of doing something, and broader society knows doing something costs money. However – for that extra 5-20% of the voters needed to boost it over the line, it’ll get the job done.

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9to5toys 

February 16

TSLA: 268.95

-10.81
Stock Chart

Danish School Has Installed The World’s Largest Solar Facade – When the building is made of electricity generation material, from day one, we change the perception of what a building is. It’s no longer simply a structure to feed material, food, energy for hot, cold and light, etc. In soon time, a building without solar power will be the aberration. Check out the image and the different colored solar panels.

A quote for Wall Street from a CEO – SunPower expects that, “The intensity of competition will continue.” SunPower is taking a beating as the price difference between its market leading efficiency and the uber-economical spot market of 16% polysilicon gets wider. The competition is rough for the 16% manufacturers as well – Yingli might get delisted, and SolarWorld is cutting back employees to move up market. I recently asked a stock analyst to look at a solar cell equipment manufacturer – he said, ‘tight margins, lowering product values, global competition, rising Chinese products, etc.’ Sounds like every story on solar panel manufacturers.

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February 15

TSLA: 279.76

-1.22
Stock Chart

US solar market grows by 95% – Led by an enormous expansion of the utility solar power market, and complemented by solid growth in both the residential and commercial-industrial sectors, the solar power industry installed approximately 14,625MW. The average household – 2.6’ish people – needs about .01MW (10kW) to meet their home electricity needs. Installations of 100MW or more occurred in 20 states – the market is widening. The US is now home to 40GW of solar power spread across 1.3 million installations.

Sunergy, a Chinese solar panel manufacturer, building module assembly plant in California –  200 local jobs and 400MW of solar panels per year from this manufacturing line. Sunergy has spread manufacturing facilities around the planet in order to work around various tariff schemes. In order to not have product taxed by the Feds, the article suggested Sunergy would have to import solar cells from its facilities in Vietnam or South Korea. I wonder if that means there are going to be 400MW or really well priced solar panels available in the US soon? I’ll let the boss know.

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February 14

TSLA: 280.98

0.38
Stock Chart

Amtech Systems sees Solar PV industry in a ‘buy cycle’ – I was once told by a smart friend, ‘When there is a gold rush, sell pick axes.’ Ametch sells pick axe making machines. And if Amtech, a company that builds hardware to increase the volume of solar panels that can be made, is getting orders from solar panel manufacturers being forced to sell at 33¢/W – then I expect pricing to go lower on solar panels (big risk there). If manufacturers can still afford to buy new hardware to make more efficient (PERC cells) product – it will feed down the chain. Expect significant price falls in solar power to continue.

A coalition of governors, Red & Blue, are pushing Trump on Solar+Wind – 20 states representing 43% of the US population. I think being a political science/economics major in college is really paying off in the solar industry. One of the variables when I chose the industry was that I thought the political machine was tilting in favor of solar power in 2006 – 10+ years later the political machine has definitely tilted, but my oh my the tilts that have occurred.

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9to5mac 

February 13

TSLA: 280.60

11.37
Stock Chart

A path to 10TW (but actually about solar cell consistency in manufacturing) – The article is about finding a solution to the 10% or so of solar cells that go bad in the first six months of sunlight exposure – good research. What I found more interesting was their analysis on how to get to 10 terrawatts of solar power by 2030: reduce the cost of modules by 50%, increase the conversion efficiency of modules (the fraction of solar energy they convert into electricity) by 50%, and decrease the cost of building new factories by 70% – we’re currently at a total installed base 300-330GW, we’d need increase that about 30-33 times. It’d take 128 years at 2016’s record install pace.

India’s operational solar module production capacity tops 8GW – The largest plant is 1.2GW, and another 3GW+ of capacity can come online. While 5-8GW of capacity is only a small piece of the globes ~117GW of capacity, last year India did announce more capacity expansions than China – 17GW vs 13GW. To meet goals of 40GW in solar parks – India needs to be conscious of the whole solar panel supply chain as NREL says that is what truly sets China apart in solar panels. If the globe has China and India both significantly investing in clean energy – my optimism increases greatly.

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February 12

TSLA: 269.23

0.03
Stock Chart

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the December Energy Infrastructure Update – it includes a summation of the annual utility scale (1MW in size or greater) installations of electricity generation hardware. The report showed 26GW+ of power plants installed – 15GW of that being wind+solar and 1.2GW nuclear power. In addition to utility scale solar power  is somewhere between 4.8GW to 6.8GW’ish of private and business solar power. When accounting for each technology’s capacity factor – it turns out that roughly 65% of electricity generated from these installations will be clean and most of this hardware will run for decades.

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February 11

TSLA: 269.23

0.03
Stock Chart

Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) – Nation’s largest being built: Tesla’s solar shingle is BIPV, and everything ONYX Solar does is BIPV. If our structures contain the solar panels, instead of us having to build them on later – 1. We’ll design more with solar integrated and 2. It might get even cheaper.

Arizona implements new rates, voluntary demand charge – This state pushes back hard against solar power, very conservative, but because of its sunlight still has to deal with the attack on the grid by solar power. As such, the laws on the right side of the political spectrum that drive solar originate here – while laws from the left side of the political spectrum are driven by Arizona’s large neighbor to the west. I like to watch – – what happens in Arizona sometimes happens in Nevada a year or two later, and then Florida.

Good PR for the solar world – Jimmy Carter leasing land for solar plant – Add this to putting solar power on his former residence and I’d say Carter is a pretty consistent guy.

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9to5google 

February 10

TSLA: 269.23

0.03
Stock Chart

Trump to ignore Solar ITC – Analysts are suggesting that the Trump administration are going to let the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the ITC, run its course – mainly because of the political support on both sides of the aisle. The article, and others I’ve heard talk on the topic, say that the incentive has a natural ending period – that starts in 2020 – that will make it easier to ignore. Bill Gates, after a call with Trump, said that federal support for renewables would wane…we’ll see that these things mean.

Hanwha Q Cells MONO solar panels being offered in China at 32¢-33¢/kWh – the price is still falling (and these are mono panels – not poly). At this point, ever penny per watt represents a multiple percent fall. The panels are going to have less and less of an influence on pricing as we move forward simply because there is only so far for them to fall until they have to lower the price of the commodities making the panels (silicon already saw those drops). Of course, as efficiency increases and the actual wattage per volume of commodities increases – it makes it much easier for pricing to fall…over production of poly silicon will help as well.

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February 9

TSLA: 269.20

7.12
Stock Chart

90% of new electricity capacity in Europe renewable (50%+ offshore wind) – In the US we saw that 67% of the electricity coming from hardware built in 2016 was clean, with wind+solar+nuclear doing the heavy lifting. In Europe, the capacity installed was 90% renewable. That’s hardware that is going to be producing energy with no additional fuel, only human upkeep, for decades on end. Clean energy.

What the world can learn from Australia’s no apology transmission system evolution –  First – key data point: The Aussies are cool with managing up to 40% of their grid being distributed, intermittent generation. Second – they’re adding really damn smart battery storage volume. And the third item, which also happens to be the “The third stage” of this transition: likely not occurring for another decade – involves the potential launch of a digital network optimization market, enabling peer-to-grid and perhaps also capable of supporting peer-to-peer market transactions, for energy and potentially other grid services. Hell yeah! A true transition allows you and I to sell energy directly with the utilities managing their resources and giving a medium to move the energy.

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February 8

TSLA: 262.08

4.60
Stock Chart

A carbon tax is being presented to the US President by very powerful people – Remember, Exxon wants a carbon tax, and Exxon is now the USA’s Secretary of State. Elon Musk being on the President’s advisory board pushing this is definitely having an effect. The particular model of carbon tax I don’t agree with – revenue neutral – as I think it won’t get the job done on its own, however, I will state I’d rather have it than nothing as I do believe future politicians will be able to add important rules surrounding it. Additionally, the offer being made is to replace Obama’s Clean Power Plan with this carbon tax…hrmm…we’ll see. Plan starts at $40/ton – 2.3¢/kWh natural gas electricity, 4¢/kWh coal & 36¢/gallon for gasoline. $220/ton is the number real economists use.

Fraunhofer releases new solar panel encapsulant technique, longer lasting, cheaper and faster to make without frames – (bring your translator) The image above is of the solar cells sealed in the new encapsulant. Solar panels go bad over decades because water vapor + hot/cold cycles affect the insides of the panels (solar cells, copper, silver, etc). It costs money, materials, production time and great expertise to create something that sits directly in sunlight for decades and can resist it. This technology advancement, like every other little advancement (this advancement drops pricing 2%, speeds up production, lasts longer) you see on this daily brief, adds onto the constantly accumulating knowledge that we have. This is why solar panels have fallen from $76/W to 34¢/W. Also – take a look at the link and view the image of the three different solar panels to see the visual difference as the modules age (degradation).

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February 7

TSLA: 257.48

-0.29
Stock Chart

400MW of Community Solar in 2017 – The most interesting thing in this report is that most of the volume installed in 2016 was by utilities selling to their customers. The utilities are professionals at delivering energy, they have a backend for billing – and very powerfully – they have the ability to connect directly to their locked-in customer base that generally will accept recommendations (customer acquisition costs are LOOWW). Utility-scale solar installations were 50% of the total 14-15GW of solar that was installed in 2016 – the 218MW of community solar was a small piece of that. Of those that can grow community solar – the utilities are best positioned.

Svante Arrhenius did the math for global warming in the late 1800s as a hobby – Reader James Rowland pointed out yesterday that Arrhenuis was pushing the argument, with math, that anthropogenic global warming would occur as we kept burning fossil fuels. “His calculations showed that the “temperature of the Arctic regions would rise about 8 degrees or 9 degrees Celsius, if the carbonic acid increased 2.5 to 3 times its present value” – We’re currently up 0.44 times and 1.4 degrees Celsius, numbers that are in line with a prediction in a paper published in 1895 – 122 years ago.

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9to5toys 

February 6

TSLA: 257.77

6.44
Stock Chart

‘Green Gas’ is the new fossil fuel fashion accessory – The newest marketing line you’re going to hear is marketing ‘green gas power plants’ – natural gas plants connected with solar power. Natural gas and solar power are solid partners when building a power plant because natural gas plants can quickly be spun up to produce electricity as solar power wanes. And of course, if you mix the gas’ CO2 output and the total amount of electricity produced by both power plants (sun and gas) you will get a low amount of greenhouse gasses per kWh – thus ‘green gas.’ Don’t be fooled. We still think the future is solar + batteries.

Solar power plants being sold to investors (I like this) – Canadian plant at $199M US for 60MWAC and a Greek 23MW plant for $43M. Solar power plants being sold to investors is important because it represents a healthy exit strategy for developers who want to take the risk of building. Liquidity will mean more money will feel safe to invest, this will lower the cost of said money, leading to cheaper solar, which will lead to more solar – which lowers the price as well, and we get this virtuous business cycle.

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February 5

TSLA: 251.33

-0.22
Stock Chart

SolarEdge’s HD-Wave inverter has broken the California Energy Commission’s record for inverter efficiency.

The inverter, which was announced in September 2015 but is only now seeing wide-scale rollout, tested at 99% weighted efficiency while the competition clocks in between 96-98%. Arguably more important than the efficiency record is the new technology in the inverter – an “electronics based conversion topology.” SolarEdge says that because of their distributed switching and digital processing of the sine wave, they’re able to more efficiently convert electricity from DC to AC. With this new infrastructure, SolarEdge says inverters can evolve beyond mechanics to the speed of electronics. Think of televisions moving from cathode tubes with big magnets to flat screen electronic machines.

The greater efficiency means using 1/16 the number of magnets and copper and cutting heat dissipation by half, allowing for a 2.5x smaller aluminum block for cooling. The size and weight – 17.7” x 14.6” x 6.8” and 25.3 pounds – make it half as big as comparable inverters and installable/replaceable by a single person instead of two.

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February 4

TSLA: 251.33

-0.22
Stock Chart

Pretty pictures of India’s 650MW solar power plant – These pictures don’t do the scale of this site justice. The picture of the Chinese solar fishery were 1/3 this system size. 500,000 sq kilometers would be needed to power all the world – this site is 27 of those 500,000. Other items of interest – ‘3,800,000 foundations, 25,00,000 solar modules, 27,000 Mt of structure, 576 inverters, 154 transformers and 6,000 km length of cables.’

Externalities: Asthma limited by car tax – Imagine that you’re a human being that likes to breathe. I’ll give you a moment to consider this fantastic possibility. Now, image that there are more than 1 billion things in the world – internal combustion engines in cars – that spew chemicals that kill you. The cost to keep you alive is paid by you, maybe or maybe not a car driver. The car driver doesn’t pay for it. An article forwarded by one of our readers, Jamison Scotto, D.M.D., shows that for every gallon of gasoline burnt in the USA – society pays $1.30 (not the person driving the car). What kind of fake capitalism is that?

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9to5mac 

February 3

TSLA: 251.33

-0.22
Stock Chart

DOE Sunshot team + Enphase + HECO + SolarCity figured out how to deal with the highest per capita solar market in the country that was producing too much solar to be managed, leading to 2,700 homes not being able to connect to the grid. With computer modeling, new tools were developed that allowed the utility to faster evaluate individual circuits and the solar connected to them. These tools will spread and places that are partially blocked to installation volume – like Eastern Massachusetts – will get much more efficient in their deployments.

The Politicians are moving – Maryland Legislature overrules Governor to implement more aggressive RPS, Wyoming legislatures vote against wind + solar tax, Nevada asked better calculations of energy ‘attributes,’  and Maine politicians extend net metering 15 years with annual decrease in payment. Greentech gave a nice summary of the active 2016 that DSIRE has put together. Maryland, by increasing the volume of electricity needed from renewables will pump up the depressed price of its SREC market. Wyoming will get to take advantage of Trump infrastructure and massive wind. And Nevada might design its rate system – what people pay and what various electricity sources are worth – on smarter numbers, recognizing truly what solar power brings to the table.

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February 2

TSLA: 251.55

2.31
Stock Chart

Saudi Arabia expects record low prices in solar RFP – The specific quote I latched onto, ‘terms on renewable contracts will be motivating’ made me think of things like free land, free interconnection, access to cheap/free (0%) money for finance, good labor terms, etc. All of these things will lead to increases in costs for a developer – and you’ve got to add margin to every single cost because it took time and money to work through the challenges. Current low prices are 2.3¢/kWh for 1.18GW – how much lower are we expecting? 1.99¢/kWh?

With a goal of “Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy” Sunshot announces $30M in grants for 13 programs – The goal is to get the electricity grid to handle solar power greater than 100% of the grid’s demand at any moment. The 13 tools in this round of awards focus on software to watch and analyze, plus hardware that focuses on strategic positions within the grid to route large volume of energy at key moments. Reading through each one you can visualize how solar power peaking at 12 noon could be better managed by each of these systems. It must be exciting to be the scientists within the SunShot team, looking down on this broad machine, and seeing how this software and hardware will fine tune the movement of electricity across the world.

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February 1

TSLA: 249.24

-2.69
Stock Chart

Solar eclipse allowed Germany to test grid, learning that up to 80% renewables is possible – Pretty cool to think that the German scientists and grid operators took the time to use a solar eclipse on one of the world’s largest solar power deployments as an experiment. I cannot imagine it would be possible to test such an aggressive ramp up and down in the real world without upsetting broader society – but during a solar eclipse it is possible.

Maryland House (not the Senate yet) votes to overturn Governor’s veto of Renewable Energy bill – The House of Representatives of Maryland has overruled the veto of an energy bill by the state’s governor. Reading the comments here and in other locations I hear the same tired arguments about ‘sun and wind taxes.’ It’s like there is a group distributing talking points all across the country that is funded by those making money from fossil fuels. Good thing we have a double digit number of analysis showing that the House of Representatives is right from a science standpoint and that they are supported by the people.

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9to5google 

January 31

TSLA: 251.93

1.30
Stock Chart

Is this 1GW array actually the largest in the world? – Recently, I’ve read of an Indian and a Chinese solar farm being proclaimed as the world’s largest. Now – I’ve got a 1GW in China saying it is the largest single solar plant in the world. My first thoughts move toward how to optimize operations and management – a plant of this size would definitely benefit from a robotic cleaning service. The approximately 300,000 individual solar panels are monitored remotely (and wirelessly) in groups of about 30-33 panels – this will help engineers focus their troubleshooting. I wouldn’t be surprised if each one of those hundreds of rows you see in the above image was a batch of 30-33.

Why Utilities have already lost the “War on Net Metering” – Your electricity bills are in a state of sped up evolution because a new predator, solar freaking power, has come into a formerly calm environment, a monopolized environment, and it is taking pieces of flesh with ease. The utilities will protect their shareholders – and the utilities have been doing well for many decades, but the technology seems to be reaching a point that the politicians can no longer be paid enough. For the next couple of years, while the utilities lose control of these price wars, you’ll see everything done to limit the value of your electricity generation – and you’ll react. And so will the utility. And that’s how it works.

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