About the Author

John Fitzgerald Weaver

@SolarInMASS

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer in the northeast USA. He’s developed and managed 50+ solar projects worth more than $10 million, ranging from 5kW 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.

Today

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

Policy, Geospatial, and Market Factors in Solar Energy: a Gestalt Approach – In a research paper written by Dr. Wesley Herche, we’re shown that greater than 99% of all locations can have their energy – not just electricity, but energy- needs to be met by solar power within 50 miles of said locations. Dr. Herche (give him a pat on his twitter back for his recent dissertation defense) is a former senior intelligence officer and current executive leader at with experience in analyzing land and coming up with conclusions for professionals to act on. The values used to determine this conclusion are all very conservative – for instance, 10% solar panel efficiency was used when current standard efficiency panels are 60% greater and the premium product is 100-140% greater. This document proves that there are nearly zero places on the planet that cannot make solar power their primary source of energy.

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August 18

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

Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies – Berkeley environmental engineer Dev Millstein and his colleagues estimate that between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths have been averted because of air quality benefits over the last decade or so, creating a total economic benefit between $30 billion and $113 billion. The benefits from wind work out to be more than 7¢ per kilowatt-hour, which is more than unsubsidized wind energy generally costs. Thousands of people are alive and tens of billions in health costs weren’t spent because of cleaner air. That’s the goal.

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August 17

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

Solar Panels Could Soon Come in Every Color of the Rainbow – Instead of using dyes or coatings like commercially available — and horribly inefficient — colored panels, these new panels are overlaid with dense networks of silicon cylinders, each less than a millionth of a meter wide. These cylinders use electromagnetic resonance to change the wavelength of light they scatter, which is a fancy way of saying they change color to whatever you want. Tesla’s Solar Roof was specifically made because of the aesthetic qualities. People in the USA save large amounts of their $ in their homes – and they fear home value falling if ‘ugly’ solar panels are on them. Article says the solar panels would lose 2% of efficiency with this technique. Probably not a financial game killer for most home owners (adding a few months to ROI) like the look of ‘bulky’ panels. expand full story

August 16

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

French island tenders push down solar-plus-storage prices by 40% – The 67 projects that include PV panels and batteries attained a guaranteed purchase price for their generated power of €113.6 (US$133.97) per MWh. In June 2016 a 52MW tender for island territory solar-plus-storage projects awarded feed-in tariffs (FiTs) at a weighted electricity price of €204/MWh (US$229.77/MWh). Power prices on the islands is set at around or over €200 per MWh, the ministry said. Small projects coming in at these prices will put the fossil fuel industry out of business in remote locations like this – and there are billions worth of revenue of remote locations. Customer pricing fell from $0.20/kWh to $0.13/kWh – solar plus storage just dropped their local retail pricing 33%. Win.

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August 15

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

First Solar to Profit If Trump Slaps Tariffs on Panel Imports – “If there is a determination of injury, a modest type of remedy will not be harmful at all to the industry and I think it’ll survive and more jobs will be created,” FirstSolar CEO Mark Widmar said on a conference call. “Hopefully what it will do is enable more manufacturing in the U.S.” Two things about FirstSolar – first off, they manufacture their solar panels mostly in Ohio. Secondly, their product – thin film – is different from, and competes directly with, the product being talked about in this case. As such – FirstSolar will benefit greatly on projects built in the USA if the tariff is put in place. They’ll have significantly less downward pricing pressure as there really isn’t any utility scale solar panel production in the USA.

USITC Hearing — Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules – Here is the official calendar event of the trade case that begins today at 9.30 AM. My prediction – case is ruled in favor of Suniva. Not sure how many days it runs.

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August 14

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

Iowa utility offers high ‘green’ pricing without adding renewables – Three Beyond Solar options are available: 100 percent solar, a 50/50 split of solar and wind, and 25 percent solar with 75 percent wind. In each scenario, generation capacity is sold in increments of 1 kilowatt and is added to a customer’s existing bill. The cost per kilowatt is $13.61 for 100 percent solar, $6.70 for 50 percent solar and $3.24 for 25 percent solar. The green energy comes from two existing contracts – nothing new will get built…and that isn’t necessarily an issue – someone did build these two clean plants (one wind, the other solar) – but the pricing seems a bit out of whack. Stay conscious of the pricing and structure of green programs. expand full story

August 11

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

ITC report: 26 U.S. module makers closed in the past five years – 26 U.S. module manufacturers have closed their manufacturing facilities in the past five years, a period during which imports of modules and cells increased nearly five-fold. In addition, the majority of U.S. module companies reported operating losses over the same time period. U.S. demand for solar products increased for the four years between 2012 and 2016, Malaysian, Chinese and Korean modules captured a larger share of the U.S. market in contrast U.S. module manufacturers. In a few phone conversations I’ve had with people in the know, there isn’t really a question as to whether or not US module manufacturers have suffered at the hands of Chinese monetary policy supporting ‘below profit’ solar panel manufacturers. The question becomes, not ‘Are US panel manufacturers being hurt?’, but instead ‘What is in the best interests of the nation-state?’ And that question becomes absolutely the question to ask as we are looking at a blunt, national tool to defend industry. Would a few highly robotocized factories populated by engineers/machinists/specialists/etc benefit the energy security of the state? Absolutely…however, are there also other, more complex, paths that might benefit us more?

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August 10

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

Energy storage saves Arizona utility from building 20 miles of transmission, distribution lines – One argument often overlooked for solar power when considering what the value of net metering ought be, is that solar power – adding consistent power generation far from the power source – lowers the need for hardware upgrades because it generally lower system stress. Energy storage is now doing the same thing. This was an economic choice – nothing to do with ‘green.’

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August 9

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

Orlando City Council to vote on 100% clean energy goal – Orlando is a big city, if they start pushing toward clean energy it’ll offer great press in Mickey Mouse land – plus it could make a real change. Cities aiming for 100% clean energy is still early though, and not as perfect as it sounds (some go deeper). However, actions by cities and statesas the Federal government flops – are leading to changes.

US offshore pipeline ‘tops 24GW’ in more than 20 planned projects – Most projects are planned for the northeast Atlantic, but schemes are also in the pipeline in the southeast Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes. Offshore wind getting bigger in the USA – prices will fall. Lots of people on the coasts of the USA, close to the energy source.

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August 8

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

From spectacular vistas to the pits: A decades-long public land battle continues in the California desert – They want to build a pumped-storage facility in the desert – ‘extra’ solar energy pumps water uphill in the daytime, when the electricity is needed later the water spins turbines on the way back down. The Joshua Tree National Park’s water supply is at risk – an environmentally challenging area. I’m going with the park over the business folks – even if they’re saving some CO2 with pumped storage. We’ve got so few healthy, relatively intact habitats left – build this somewhere else.

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August 7

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

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Earnings Up on Solar Rebound – BHE Renewables saw net income increase $39 million due primarily to higher generation at the Solar Star projects, which were hobbled by transformer-related forced outages in 2016. It also benefited from earnings from tax equity investments reaching commercial operation and additional wind and solar capacity placed in service. If Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hatheway are improving their investment numbers due to solar power, expect plenty of others to follow close behind. Headlines like this bring regular people into the fold.

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August 4

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

LONGi Solar pushes mainstream mono-PERC module to 325.6W – Entry level solar panels are 1/5th more efficient (moving from 16 to 20%) – meaning you get 20% was watts in the same roofspace.  “Mono-PERC” 60 cell solar panels in the real world at 19.91%. That’s freaking awesome. The mono-PERC bifacial product LONGi launched in 72 cell is 21% efficient front side and ~25(!!)% backside IF the conditions are solid (white roofs/high angle/proper spacing/proper open space racking structure). Trina set a 22.6% record recently with this product – so it already has upside to grow.

Header image is the second image released of the solar roof by Tesla, showed off the first yesterday. Aligns with customer solar articles later in the post.

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August 3

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

Solar is now the most popular form of new electricity generation worldwideWorldwide, some 73 gigawatts of net new solar PV capacity was installed in 2016. Wind energy came in second place (55GW), with coal relegated to third (52GW), followed by gas (37GW) and hydro (28GW). – “Popular” is used different than I’d use it for this first article – but this second article that focuses on the opinion of Americans and ‘solar farms’ uses the term properly without a doubt – Fully 89% of Americans favor more solar panel farms, just 9% oppose. Is popular the reason we should be building certain technology? No – of course not! What if the most popular is the cheapest form of electricity on the planet? And it can scale? And it is one of the cleanest? Yeah, those are good reasons.

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August 2

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

Will County is first in Illinois to be named ‘solar smart’ – SolSmart, Will County has simplified the language in its zoning ordinances and made “alternative energy” an option on its building permit application. It also has enhanced training for permitting and inspection staff and increased public resources regarding solar energy systems and consumer protection. As a developer of solar power – someone who is in as deep as possible – I often get some very strange questions from people about solar power. Its at those moments where I have to remind myself that it is me who is the weird one with the amount of knowledge I have in this field. For local institutions to make solar power accessible in ways like this goes a LONG way.

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August 1

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

Why Court Victories for New York, Illinois Nuclear Subsidies Are a Big Win for Renewables – In times when we have a Department of Energy head hiring an individual that declares renewables are more dangerous than terrorist attacks, two rulings in New York and Illinois supporting subsidies for nuclear power are a win for solar and wind support on a state level. The basic is – the courts have ruled that states have a right to prescribe their own incentives without certain federal interference. The article goes a lot deeper into the legaleeze – give it a read.

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July 31

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

Utility Helps Wean Vermonters From the Electric Grid – Vermont and Tesla have been working with the Powerwall since late 2015. Green Mountain Power – the utility in question – is really blazing a trail on a state level. One goal of the power company is to build demand response, energy storage and solar power into the grid – starting on a house by house level – to limit transmission costs (moving electricity over long distances) – Recently, Green Mountain used this method to take the low-income development here off the grid’s electricity supply for two hours, saving an estimated $275 in transmission costs while the homes were powered by solar panels or battery storage. This is one reason why Net Metering should be at 100% of the value of the cost of electricity – transmission/distribution and other costs are saved – not just electricity generation costs. This utility gets it.

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July 28

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

It’s Not Your Imagination. Summers Are Getting Hotter. – To create the bell curves, Dr. Hansen and two colleagues compared actual summer temperatures for each decade since the 1980s to a fixed baseline average. During the base period, 1951 to 1980, about a third of summers across the Northern Hemisphere were in what they called a “near average” or normal range. A third were considered cold; a third were hot. – There is no longer an honest, intelligent argument about whether or not the globe is warming. This argument is dead. We are now going to move onto a new argument – whether this warming is good for the humans living on this planet. This is how the politicians will shift it. Irrelevant of that spin though – the pain will start in the south (of the USA at least).

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July 27

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

Solar scientists rough up silicon panels to boost light capture – “To avoid using these extra (expensive and complex anti-reflective) coatings we fabricated a submicron structure using a simple wet treatment directly into the silicon surfaces to give the cell its own antireflective coating.” Tiny little bits of scientific benefit. First, they get rid of an expensive, complex process that is part of standard solar cell production. Then they add in a new process that is cheap and fast. They get the same result. In the end – we win.

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July 26

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

Utilities Knew: Documenting Electric Utilities’ Early Knowledge and Ongoing Deception on Climate Change From 1968-2017 “If this turns out to be of major concern, then fossil fuel combustion will be essentially unacceptable, an important justification for expanding the nuclear and solar energy options,” Dr. Cyril ComaryetIn 1991, Edison Electric Industry and Southern Company spearheaded the Information Council on the Environment listed as its top strategy an effor to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” The electricity utilities and the fossil fuel majors both knew. They knew back in the 1960s explicitly – yet they paid front groups to lie to the general public, and lobbied politicians to ignore science in exchange for campaign donations. Per the example set against the tobacco companies – Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. People have died – and many more will because of these lies.

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July 25

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

The Energy Trade Action Coalition made its debut on Friday of last week – “Tariffs meant to protect one industry can, and often do, have significant damaging effects on other domestic industries,” said Tori Whiting, research associate at The Heritage Foundation. “Imposing tariffs under Section 201, as Suniva and SolarWorld request, would be a step backward by adding another layer of federal subsidies, which is something the Heritage Foundation opposes in all instances.” – Free trade is the name of their game.

Concurrently, at the American Enterprise Institute – a historically conservative business lobby – we’ve got an upcoming presentation – ‘Carbon taxes: A problem or a solution?‘ Cookies will be served. For some decent depth of this issue – check out Prospect of Trump tariff casts pall over U.S. solar industryA steep rise in panel prices “could be huge and disastrous for large-scale solar,” said Tom Werner – it’d affect them more than any other sector of industry.

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