John Fitzgerald Weaver

@SolarInMASS

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a director of business development with 10+ years experience in the industry. 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!

Today

TSLA: 254.78

-0.23
Stock Chart

750MW solar park to get 0.25% loan from World Bank – This is just below the going rate for banks that borrow directly from the United States (or really rich people who have hard collateral). The World Bank does have political reasons for giving a loan like this and the loan is probably backed by India. Nonetheless, big names like this giving big money like this are important – for one, that one group is doing it means others will soon follow. And that means 1GW solar power plants will get built a lot more often.

The Trump Administration pushing back against carbon tax – Technically, anything this group says out loud doesn’t matter relative to truth or long term reality – however – it does represent their current philosophical positions. And that is a good thing to know. However, has the Trump administration ever heard of a ‘carbon dividend‘?

System monitoring software getting Australian attention – Posting this because of a few data points in the article – the main one 15% system losses in residential solar systems due to not recognizing downtime. Holy lost revenue! That’s huge. This needs to be tied directly to my heart – if my solar system isn’t working at high noon I need a little jolt.

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Yesterday

TSLA: 255.01

4.33
Stock Chart

SunPower thinks it’ll be a challenge for Musk to deliver PV at the prices suggested – Two things – 1. SunPower sells the most expensive – and maybe best quality – solar panel a regular person can buy. 2. SunPower has been selling solar panels for a long time. My default reaction with Musk is to expect that maybe it’ll take a little longer (month? six?) to arrive and roll out a bit slower (80,000 vehicles in 2016 versus almost 100,000 as guidance) – but, it will arrive and it will be priced right and it will change the game. I can accept that – I would celebrate that.

California looking to specify renewables for peak moments – The gist – California legislators are attempting to restructure the power market so it makes more sense economically for renewable energy to be applied to the very expensive peak demand areas. The reason we ought watch these types of legislation is that places like California are at the cutting edge of power markets and how we’re going to monetize clean energy. Funny that we’ve so quickly progressed from renewables can’t scale and are expensive, to there are too many renewables and they’re so cheap we need to change everything. expand full story

March 21

TSLA: 250.68

-11.24
Stock Chart

The header image is found on spot.com. It is a piece of solar glass art made by Sarah Hall. I’ve never seen anyone make such gorgeous solar art that generates electricity. Combined with the products we’re seeing from groups like Onyx Solar – it seems new construction with customized solar in the place of glass – could be economically sound (everything I do in solar involves return on investment). And that economically sound glass could be quite beautiful.

How to create a 26.3% solar cell – The image of an almost pure black solar cell is fitting. Developer of cell says manufacturing timetables haven’t been discussed. 2020? Later probably. In real life, 30 standard 280W solar panels taking up 550 sq ft of roof space would cover the average 2.6 family household – if the efficiency increases from 16% to 26% (65%!) you’d need about 18 solar panels taking up 330 sq ft of roof space. There are a lot more surfaces that are 330 sq ft then there are 500 sq ft plus. One of the major arguments I get is that they want more electricity out of the same space – this is the path.

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9to5toys 

March 20

TSLA: 261.92

0.42
Stock Chart

Low cost wind displacing coal – 56GW of coal at risk, that’s a big number – about 16% of the current stock around 339GW of coal. If wind runs at a 35% capacity factor and coal is around 60%, that’d mean about 96GW of wind to replace the at risk product – that would more than double the current US wind capacity. That’d be a lot of progress

East Coast off shore wind energy headlines coming daily it seems – Maryland weighing two wind proposals, 750MW vs 120MW – North Carolina, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts have all expressed interest in joining Rhode Island in the off-shore wind game. With the Department of Energy saying we’ve got greater than 2,000GW of off shore wind potential on US coasts – and that with HVDC lines that wind could meet 30% of US electricity needs, this might be a big game gearing up. Any advice on how to get off shore wind into a well balanced portfolio?

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March 18

TSLA: 261.50

-0.55
Stock Chart

India doubling solar capacity in 15 months – From 10GW to 20GW – You know why this solar revolution really could happen, because it seems the revolution slowly moves around the world – Germany, Italy and Spain, then the USA and Japan, then China that leads – and now India stepping onto the big field. Of course, there are others growing – Australia and Africa and the Middle Eastern oil countries. It seems as I hear about slowdowns in Germany and China as they build out their grids, India picks up. And once China and Germany fix their grids, their volumes will explode again. Virtuous cycle spreading across the globe in a complex pattern that we’ve seen before with many other technologies that come to dominate.

600MW needed to fix Australian grid issues – And then read this on the broader effect/consequences of Musk and this Australia battery play. Per the BNEF article, the 100MW is going to cost South Australia $169M – if they need 600MW per the Bloomberg article – then that totals $1B – spread that over 1.7M people and 10 years – $5/month/person. With big solar signing the biggest deals yet in Australia – technology like this allows this region to cut dependence on fossils and jack their renewable – maybe $5/month makes good sense.

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March 17

TSLA: 261.50

-0.55
Stock Chart

Energy monopolies driving Ohio prices upward (not renewables) – Because of ‘gold-plating’ and legislative bill riders electric utilities have made tens of billions extra since 1999 per a study. Gold plating is the process whereby a utility is given a guaranteed return on investment – via increasing rates – on all money spent. Buy a new truck? Charge the ratepayers + 10%. Redo the CEOs office? Charge the ratepayers +10%. No joke. The common refrain we hear is that adding renewables to the power grid is driving the price – except we know this isn’t true.

FPL (South/Central FL electrical utility) awards 600MW of solar power contracts in Florida – I am happy to see my home state of Florida installing many megawatts of solar power at $1.50/W (I bet the wind code of 135mph+ increased the price of the install by ¢10/W or more). Of course, FPL is partially a crook when it comes to manipulation of the general public to keep a monopolistic stranglehold on electricity generation. Florida, The Sunshine State, must be on the top ten list of solar power! Right? Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey are though…not the Sunshine State. And just in case you were wondering – Florida isn’t even in the top ten of cumulative solar power, being as how it is the third largest state in population – this is whack.

Quality of service figures for the electricity networks of Germany – The Bundesnetzagentur uses the information to calculate the system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) – This value has fallen from 21 minutes/year to 12 minutes/year. Germany takes on significant intermittent renewable energy in the form of solar power and wind. With the support of surrounding power grids, increased engineer experience, upgrades to the power grids, and more battery systems (50,000 today), zee Germans have been able to continually increase their grid’s up time – even as renewables keep increasing (more slowly today – but still growing). expand full story

9to5mac 

March 16

TSLA: 262.05

6.32
Stock Chart

Net metering 2.0 slows down California’s residential solar market – And that is the way it is supposed to work. If the most energy is being used in the early evening (the duck curve), then we need fine tune our systems. Time of Use helps us better understand pricing as private people and business, we invest appropriately, and our challenges will shift.

JA Solar posts 16% revenue, 25% shipment year-on-year increase in 2016 – 5.2GW of solar sold at $2.3B is ¢44/W for solar panels. Gross margins were down to 14% from 17% – I’ve always been taught that healthy, long term business needs margins closer to 25-30%. Interesting note from the article – a new $1B solar cell factory in Vietnam was put on hold due to environmental issues.

Price Drop across Multi-si Value Chain Continues and Embroils Price Trend of Mono-si Products – Nice report – many product types moving different directions. A few items I am looking for – Will solar panel prices start to drop as Chinese demand slows by mid year? Answer – they haven’t begun to fall yet, but no significant demand bumps have occurred to drive volume up year either. What are utilization rates of factories? Answer – the Taiwanese factories noted in this article are running 50-60%.

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March 15

TSLA: 255.73

-2.27
Stock Chart

Connecticut talking about a $15/ton carbon tax – The word ‘direct dividend’ is used to describe a portion of the carbon tax being returned to business (30% of tax) and private people (40%). 25% of the tax will be used to invest in efficiency/infrastructure. The article tries hard to paint that a carbon tax is coming – first they point out that many states in the region are doing it, and they quote a politician saying Washington DC is ‘sending signals.’ Hrmm – 25% of a carbon tax to infrastructure/efficiency…it’s something.

Since the northeast USA got some snow yesterday – here is a short on snow and solar panels – 1. Snow slides off – without frames it slides fast – higher angles it slides fastest. 2. Snow cleans panels as well any anything cleans panels. 3. Microcracks can develop from too much weight – research is being done. 4. Light gets through the snow – so much so – that it generates electricity even when covered. 5. Type of snow will affect how snow rolls off, as well as wind. 6.* Added by me – when that tiny bit of light get through to the panels, the panels heat up – and start to melt the snow (header image from linked video). Plus these benefits from the comment section.

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March 14

TSLA: 258.00

11.83
Stock Chart

Exxon CEO hid climate change communications from legal probe – First off, #exxonknew and they continued to pay third parties to lie to the public about the effect of CO2 on climate change. And they know the bell will soon toll – the question is how long can they hold off the wolves of public opinion, how much more cash can be generated? That’s all it comes down to. Money.

EIA probably going to underestimate their solar development projection, again – It’s almost a joke how the EIA constantly underestimates how much solar power will be built, and this matters because it influences policy and the public. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than a batch of great scientists missing data – and the EIA has responded to these criticisms. I’ll take the path that we need not look at the EIA for solar power projections in the USA – it’s not their job and they don’t focus on it (as they say clearly in their report). That means government folk ought not to pay attention to the projections and instead maybe look at Greentech Media who seems to get pretty close every year.

A carbon dividend really can slow fossil fuel use — under these conditions – First off, I don’t like this article at all. Don’t like how they describe things – and don’t like their conclusions/parallels to other programs. The reason I grabbed the article – I think whomever is writing this document is getting a nudge to use the term ‘carbon dividend’ in a headline.

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9to5google 

March 13

TSLA: 246.17

2.48
Stock Chart

Elon Musk & Mike Cannon-Brookes got into a twitter conversation – and the Prime Minister of Australia hopped in a little later. What’s it mean when a guy that sells batteries and solar power is spending time with world leaders? Means his work matters – and the grid needs the tools being developed. Is Elon going to get a chance to deliver 100MW in 100 days?

Power company report says wind/solar up to 30% no significant costs/challenges – The constant argument you hear from the utilities is that solar power users are increasing costs on non-solar power users – but we keep hearing that from lobbyists, but not the scientists? Why?

California politicians getting oil money voting for oil – the question is – did the decisions drive the oil money? Or did the oil money drive the decision? – A lot of smack gets talked to Republicans regarding climate, but ‘moderate Democrats’ have shown almost as much support for fossil fuels. I do not think that simply getting rid of fossil fuels is a solution – but there are plenty of nudges that politicians have been able to do to better our situation, that weren’t done. Plenty of racketeering cases against Big Oil that should have been filed a long while ago, that weren’t because of a vote here and there. And imagine – these oil votes are in ‘Green’ California, what about the broader USA?

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March 11

TSLA: 243.69

-1.21
Stock Chart

California recently put forth a resolution to consider 100% renewable electricity by 2045, paving the way for solar and wind to spread their wings as the main electricity sources in a state on the frontier of renewable energy. But Julian Specter at Greentech Media argues the choice to forego other market choices in California, to focus solely on wind and solar as electricity sources, is a bad strategy to achieve lower climate warming emissions.

I think that logic put forth by GTM is wrong. California needs to aggressively chase this path toward 100% renewable for the following reasons: one, the state is only one market among many; two, prior examples of ultra-focused groups ‘over investing’ in a technology have brought about amazing change;  three, wind and solar technology can get it done; and, finally, legislative paths can change if need be.

California can go it alone and focus on these high probabilities of victory technologies without hurting the rest of us. In fact, it probably needs to so the rest of us can benefit from their advancements.

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New York state: “Utilities should be using energy storage as part of their normal course of business” – We’re seeing energy storage grabbing onto more chunks of the power grid. There is a game that occurs inside of us – we see headlines of something happening far away, we see rich thought leaders do it, we see others we know do it, we see our competition do it – each of these occurrences build up a certain confidence in ourselves. New York State is pushing because they recently bore the consequences of a hurricane combined with ocean rise, and were reminded of the need to be resilient. The reason they chose this path i particular is because others had shown it to be sound. No fluff – just your normal course of business.

$100 trillion of institutional money in the world, and less than 1 percent is invested in anything green – I’ve heard $1T/year is needed to fix the co2 issue. Globally – $287B in green investments. In the US, $200B in 2016 in a broader set of technologies. These numbers aren’t covering the exact same area – but they give you a scope of the work being done, and that we need do more work still. After we juxtapose those needs with the available capital – we should feel a bit more optimistic on the financial potential. Solar, wind and energy storage projects are able to come on piece meal and relatively quickly, meaning cash flows back to investors start sooner than later – time value of money stress is lowered and money gets deployed again. Virtuous cycle.

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March 10

TSLA: 243.69

-1.21
Stock Chart

50,000 distributed renewable projects coming to Mexico in 2017 – Mexico has some of the best sunlight and expensive electricity for residential customers. Not to mention a large, and wealthy population. Mexico’s northern neighbors recently hit 1,000,000 residential installations, and will double that number every few years now.

‘Development of centrally-located artificial Power Link island(s) in the North Sea to connect over ten thousand wind turbines’‘Power Link will be the base for transmitting generated wind energy to future connected North Sea countries: the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium.’ The gloves are coming off and the engineers are being given the opportunity to innovate. The money is there, the demand is there, the evidence over the last decade that we can manage it is there – now we build it.

Header image comment – image source is Tesla’s Kauai power plant that was launched recently. Solid state electricity generation plus solid state electricity storage placed next to each other. Looking at the image is otherworldly to me – it seems weird that these vertical cubes and flat panels can drive society after so much of my existence means burning stuff to break bonds. The feel of future in this image – like it’s a movie set – makes the energy revolution seem all the more real and magical. Good luck Elon.

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9to5toys 

March 9

TSLA: 244.90

-1.97
Stock Chart

US Solar total solar capacity expected to triple in next five years – If we were to double every 2.5 years, solar would take over all energy on the planet in about 20 years, tripling every five years is a bit slower of a rate – but still awesome. We are still in the early stages of solar power – it might be hard to believe that with the amount of money and the headlines every day – but 70GW a year globally is not enough to change the planet – we need 500GW a year of solar and the same amount of wind to do that…but we’re getting closer.

$200B in clean energy in 2016 – Since it seems political America doesn’t care about cleaning the planet unless they make money, here’s $200B a year that will triple by 2022. And guess what we’re going to use that leverage to put a crowbar between politicians and their US tax payer paid jobs.

“Do you think you’ve dreamt too big?” “Yes, but I do not regret it.” – The way the solar was deployed is too expensive, yeah – this is true. Years ago when this guy started, we were nowhere near where we needed to be cost and technology wise to make his vision economic – but slowly that is changing. People doing weird things sometimes brings us into the future. Rock on buddy.

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March 8

TSLA: 246.87

-1.72
Stock Chart

California’s record breaking battery banks drive doubling of energy storage in US 2016 – And the chart seems to predict a tripling of that volume in 2017 to 1GWh. 300% growth in 2017 is going to make a lot of manufacturers step their game up. Wonder what percentage of that 1GW Tesla will be delivering? We know Samsung SDI is also big.

Rhode Island going for 1GW by 2020 – While 1GW of renewables for a lot of places isn’t that great (remember there are single projects larger than 1GW popping up these days). 1GW for a state that takes 45 minutes to drive across is something to consider – not to mention that to get to 1GW by 2020 it will involve growing almost 10x from today’s deployed volume in less than 4 years. I work in Rhode Island on a regular basis – got a sales call there today. The businesses and private people are interested – paying $0.16/kWh with healthy demand fees adds up quickly.

Solar panels at ¢25-26/W by the end of the year – If the volume of manufacturing keeps increasing, but the global demand stays flat in 2017 (expected to happen) – something will have to change. This aggressive pricing driven by the Chinese will give Indian manufacturers another year of hell. Chinese panels are ¢10/W cheaper than Indian.

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March 7

TSLA: 248.59

-2.62
Stock Chart

Saudi Aramco selling $500B (?) in stock, investing $5B of it in solar – Groups representing $60 trillion (wow) in investment capital have pledged ‘to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors, known as ESG, into their investment decisions.’ Aramco is hoping to draw a slightly greater portion of these folks by making an investment in the largest oil company on the planet slightly solar powered. This is seperate from the countries $30-50B in solar power that is coming. $5B out of a valuation from $400B to $2T (estimates for the value of the oil company) represents 1.25% to 0.25%, respectively. Purist investors think its foolish to mix these investments, however – I’ll argue that the world is more complex than one line descriptions of what an IPO should be – and I am glad to see this, even if it is a slight manipulation of ‘clean’ to get what they want.

Solar power being requested in strategic locations to INCREASE grid stability – That’s right, none of this ‘solar power is bad for the grid’ crap – that’s 1999 talking. The utilities of the more advanced solar states in the USA – California in particular – are already mapping out where solar need be. And now, officially, Southern California Edison is ready to pay you extra if you build a plant that connects to the grid in predetermined places. Strategic solar power can lower the cost of grid upgrades – can lower voltage loss far from the factory – and with the right hardware, can offer additional services that the grid needs to keep it stable. Brave new world.

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9to5mac 

March 6

TSLA: 251.21

-0.36
Stock Chart

Smart meters of a certain type have an issue dealing with variable voltages on LED lightingLighting makes up 10% of residential electricity in the USA at 129 billion kWh. If we all had smart meters installed – and we all had LED lighting that was using unique features to lower the energy usage – we could be paying a $100M more than we should. The scientists seemed to pinpoint the exact hardware causing the over/under reading. If every socket knew what hardware was plugged into it a software fix at the utility side could manage it.

Abu Dhabi aims to close $872 million solar plant financing in April – 74¢/W is what you pay for 1.17GW in the desert. It wasn’t too long ago that solar panels themselves cost 74¢/W — actually like two years ago. I wonder if JinkoSolar is being given partial ownership in exchange for the solar panels – long term cash generation?

Utility sued by solar power users who believe net metering credits not properly applied – Taking this article, plus the lead regarding smart meters, pushes me further to think there is a need in the marketplace for better energy usage knowledge. Every item plugged the house can be better managed – and we ought be tracking usage on that level. If we’re doing that – then we’ll be able to know exactly what our electricity bills should look like every single month. Check out Sense.com for one such product.

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March 4

TSLA: 251.57

1.09
Stock Chart

Foresight targets new 250MW UK pipeline with fresh placing – In essence, the group is selling shares in a cross section of solar projects. I don’t know exactly how it pays out – but it would seem logical to get some sort of payment for the electricity being sold in a near real time basis. What is the global appetite for investing into solar funds? We know hundreds of billions. Trillions? It’d be interesting to buy enough solar power in your initial offerings that the collected energy revenue would be enough to considerably grow the solar portfolio over time, versus paying out for, say, the first five years. A 30 year investing that grows itself for the first five yeas before it starts to draw down. In the US making use of tax credits and depreciation would mean tax free electricity revenue to reinvest in new solar projects.

The basics of climate science were lain in 1859 by John Tyndall – ‘Tyndall’s most striking discoveries were the vast differences in the abilities of “perfectly colorless and invisible gases and vapours” to absorb and transmit radiant heat.’ Using the machine pictured above, Tyndall discovered that complex molecules like water vapor and carbon dioxide (plus others) were the best absorbers of heat. We knew the fundamentals of how we were going to heat our planet in 1859 – 158 years ago. Darwin published The Origin of Species that year…another ‘controversial’ idea.

Tyndall announced some of his early results on May 26, 1859. 93 days later, in Titusville, Pennsylvannia – Drake struck oil and the ‘first large-scale commercial extraction of petroleum” was underway.

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March 3

TSLA: 251.57

1.09
Stock Chart

On Monday, the US Energy Information Agency released a report on utility-scale electricity capacity additions. The report’s focus was on the significant capacity growth in 2016 – the largest year since 2011. This capacity growth was pushed by natural gas, with wind and solar right behind (this excludes about 7 GW of distributed solar volume). What else was shown in the report are the retirements of capacity – the lower half of the graph in the header image.

When subtracting retirements of coal and natural gas from additions of these fossil fuel sources, we get all the way back to 2009 before capacity additions starts to outpace capacity retirements. In a simple way, all of the utility-scale electricity generation capacity added to the United States grid since 2009 has been clean energy.

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9to5google 

Two reason I like sharing articles about the US Military doing green related technologies – 1. If the military is greening it will help the CO2 situation as the US Military might be the single largest energy user on the planet. Yes, I know many in the military are only greening because it makes them a more efficient killing machine, but I’ll take what I can get. And 2. The US Military is pushing the politicians and voters who care about military positions. These groups tend to not be as environmentally minded day to day, and – again – I’ll take what I can get.

Amazon to install 50 solar power systems, 15 in 2017 – Corporate America needs to save money and clean up their emissions. Solar power offers unique opportunities to box retailers and warehouse companies – a sq foot of rooftop can generate (not cost) $1-4/year and cover the investment cost in as few as 12 months. Buildings today are built considering integrating solar power from the first moment – this is something that didn’t happen significantly even five years ago. The Amazon facility being built nearby me in Fall River, MA was talking solar power long before a shovel broke the ground.

Georgia utilities offer solar power at 1¢/kWh premium – Would you sign up? I would. Polls in the past have shown Americans willing to pay up to $200/year for renewable energy. I remember about 10,000 Floridians signing up to give FPL an extra $10/month to invest in solar. Average household uses about 11,000 kWh/year – meaning this would increase an electricity bill by, on average, $110/year. You still willing to sign up?

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