Solar Stories Today

TSLA: 279.05

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New NREL report details installed costs and deployment barriers for residential solar+storage – If you really want to do some research on what your battery system is going to cost, and why, start here. NREL reports are always top notch – I distribute them often (and maybe some of you should download this stuff before Pruitt deletes it).

South Australia getting 100MW energy storage plus 330MW of solar – Is 100MW the largest battery system connected to a power grid? How do they go from announced last night to built before end of year? Or that’s right – solar + storage. And, most interestingly, it isn’t Elon Musk doing the deal. These Australians move fast when the electricity stops running.

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Solar Stories Yesterday

TSLA: 277.38

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Trump signs executive order to review Clean Power Plan – A couple of interesting points within the article – 1. The EPA, per the courts, is obligated to protect against CO2 – which has been defined as a pollutant. It seems that if the current administration were to simply get rid of the Clean Power Plan, they’d be open to law suits. 2. Scott Pruitt, the new EPA chief that pretty much works for the fossil fuel industry, wrote a version of regulations for the coal industry that forced an ever so slight increase in efficiency. We can see a future pathway – a toothless replacement plan, versus an absolute rescindence of the law.

31.3 percent for a fully integrated silicon-based multi-junction solar cell – Space age stuff these days, unless you’ve got a dual axis solar tracker and you’re ok with a slower return on investment. These multi junction technologies – multiple layers of solar cells absorbing sunlight – will break through to the mass market one day. The recent 26.3% solar cell was two layers – both silicon. This cell is three layers with different product types. Being discussed in the article is how to bond the solar cells – maybe that’s where the real breakthroughs are these days. expand full story

Solar Stories March 28

TSLA: 277.45

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World’s largest artificial sun (original source)- Its purpose is to test ways to generate hydrogen from water using sunlight. There is a lot of thought about what we could do with hydrogen storing excess intermittent energy – though lithium ion is taking the early lead. Personally, I’m starting to lean toward lithium+solar because of the solid state nature of the two technologies (this picture really got to me), however, there could be places where liquid fuels make sense.

Hundreds of Clean Energy Bills Have Been Introduced in States Nationwide This Year – Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by utilities in a concerted effort across the country to influence the political process against. Concurrently though, especially when you check out the RPS map in the linked article – there are many people pushing upwards. Get into your local area.

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Solar Stories March 27

TSLA: 270.22

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Big Oil throwing down for Big Offshore Wind – If there is anyone with an expertise and the cash needed to build ocean based hardware that can produce long-term consistent revenue, it would be the engineers that have deployed oil wells in the deep seas for decades. Ocean-based wind can sometimes run for 50% of the time – and with floating units coming next, big oil with its big capital might see its most powerful weapon against the coal industry be renewable. I’ll take it from where ever it comes.

Partisan reactions to Trump over environment – Large chunks of the US electorate have shifted their views on future of the environment since Trump came into office. Republicans toward believing the future environment is getting great attention and will improve, while Democrats see it getting worse. With Trump and Republicans seeing poles like this I don’t expect them to be very interested in legislative measures.

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Solar power in California started setting production records on February 24th – production peaks have continued to occur since then. On Thursday of last week renewables broke 56% of total demand. This record is partially the result of a national 2016 installation boom of greater than 14GW of solar power that California took 35% of.

According to the daily report on March 23rd, solar peaked around 11.16 AM – three minutes before the solar + wind peak of 49.2% and nine minutes before renewables peaked 56.7%.

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Solar Stories March 24

TSLA: 263.16

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After Florida voters approve solar law by 73%, utilities attempt to add on solar limiting rules – In the last election in Florida, voters decided to support tax breaks for commercial companies going solar. Florida politicians decided that the law – instead of focusing on tax breaks – ought also add additional requirements, strategically chosen, to make residential solar a little more complex. One of the strange aspects of the law is that it says you cannot use past history prices to predict future energy savings. Best part is that one of the politicians pushing the law says we don’t actually need the law today in Florida since there aren’t any contractors breaking the law – but you know – just in case someone might want to break this law, we ought make a law.

Southern Company Says $7B+ ‘Clean Coal’ Kemper Not Viable as Coal Plant, Blames the Public Service Committee – At the end of spending $7B a clean coal plant is said to not be economically viable burning coal – and of course, it isn’t the technologies fault but those who are hoping to protecting rate payers. Coal has significantly cleaned itself relative to pollution of yesteryear – wikipedia says coal plants are 77% cleaner than they used to be. And imagine, even so much cleaner coal is releasing twice as much CO2 per kWh as natural gas.

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Solar Stories March 23

TSLA: 254.78

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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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Solar Stories March 22

TSLA: 255.01

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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

Solar Stories March 21

TSLA: 250.68

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The header image is found on 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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Solar Stories March 20

TSLA: 261.92

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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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