John Petersen for Investor Intel: Rooftop solar is an odd duck. A consumer buys an expensive capital asset with the expectation that he’ll recover his investment through lower electric bills. As a matter of metaphysics, he’s decided to go into the power business with the primary goal of satisfying the most important and discriminating customer on the planet. The value proposition he currently offers his local electric utility is:
- I’ll buy less electricity from you because of my solar panels, but I need you on standby 24/7 to supply my nighttime needs and fill any weather related power production gaps;
- Since my solar panels will frequently produce more power than I need, I want you to give me credit for any excess power production, let me draw equivalent power from you when I need it, and structure it all as a tax free swap;
- You can, of course, bill me for any difference between what I deliver and what I take;
- I’ll have no duty to buy a fixed amount of power from you or deliver a fixed amount of power to you, but you must supply whatever I need and take whatever I don’t need; and
- You will be required to pay all of the costs associated with weather related production gaps and pass those costs through to your other customers.
Chris Jennewein for Times of San Diego: A Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel has demonstrated the viability of renewable fuel by traveling 14,400 nautical miles over a 16-month period on renewable diesel.
The R/V Robert Gordon Sproul used a hydrogenation-derived renewable fuel called NEXBTL Renewable Diesel developed by Neste Oil in Finland. The experiment began in September 2014 and ran through December 2015, during which time the vessel used a total of 52,500 gallons.
“Part of the Scripps mission is to protect the environment, and one of the most significant changes that we could make in our ship operations involved moving toward the use of cleaner, renewable fuels,” said Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate. “As scientists, we know we need to develop sustainable means of powering our ships to address pollution concerns as well as to mitigate future increases in fossil fuel costs.”
Renewable biofuel is nearly carbon-neutral and produces cleaner emissions, thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality relative to fuels derived from petroleum. Cont'd...
John Fitzgerald Weaver for Electrek: In a new report released by SolarCity, we are seeing that solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years – 40% longer than the market expects. The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. SolarCity feels it is the implementation of a stringent and industry-leading “Total Quality Program” that has driven this.
SolarCity is in the unique position of being one of the largest deployers of solar panels – from multiple manufacturers – in the world, and with their tens of thousands of systems connected to a central database they know realtime performance. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards. Cont'd...
Andrew Follett for the Daily Caller: Officials from Britain’s wind industry are terrified their subsidies and tax incentives will end because of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report by Reuters published Friday.
The report found that British wind companies, particularly ones that specialize in offshore wind power, are worried that Brexit places the government subsidies and easy access to financing at risk. The industry is deeply dependent on these subsidies to make projects more economically viable. Britain’s political uncertainty following the pending resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron means cuts to subsidies are likely. The Brexit could also make it much harder for wind companies to get loans from European banks, which could significantly slow the expansion of wind power. Cont'd...
Fred Lambert for Electrek: Last week, Elon Musk announced his plan for Tesla to acquire SolarCity and fold the solar installer’s operations into Tesla’s own business. The offer is still contingent on board approval and shareholder votes at both companies, but Electrek has now learned that the automaker is going ahead with trademark applications to sell solar products under its ‘Tesla’ brand.
According to trademark filings obtained by Electrek, Tesla’s trademark and copyright attorney at Cooley LLP, Ariana Hiscott, filled 6 new trademark applications for the company on June 22nd – the day Tesla announced the offer.
The trademarks applications range from solar cells and solar modules: “Solar energy equipment, namely, photo-voltaic solar modules for converting electronic radiation to electrical energy; and equipment for use in collecting and converting solar into electricity, namely, solar cells and inverters.”
To the installation and repair of solar panels: “Installation, maintenance and repair of solar panels and other equipment for use in converting solar energy into electricity; installation of solar energy systems and consulting related thereto.”
It also covers the monitoring of solar energy generation and the financing of solar installations. All applications are for the trademark “Tesla”. Cont'd...
Stephen Edelstein for GreenCarReports: Tesla Motors was the first carmaker to branch out from selling electric cars to offering standalone battery packs for energy storage, but others have followed the company's lead.
Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have stated their intentions to enter the energy-storage market, and now BMW is jumping on the bandwagon as well.
At the Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition 29—known as EVS29—held this week in Montreal, Canada, BMW unveiled an energy-storage system that uses battery packs from i3 electric cars.
Developed in concert with German firm Beck Automation, BMW's system is designed to use either new battery packs or "second-life" packs that have degraded too much for continued use in electric cars.
Battery packs that can no longer function in cars still have enough usable capacity for energy storage.
BMW has tested the concept over the past five years with various research projects, including a 2013 "micro-grid" project with the University of San Diego, and a 2014 collaboration in Germany with utility Vattenfall to use electric-car battery packs as buffer to help stabilize electricity grids. Cont'd...
Richard Kemeny for New Scientist: Here’s a bright idea for flat-packing. A German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a new source of clean, affordable electricity after just two hours of assembly.
More than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, a situation that can keep people in poverty. And population growth means this number is rising. Those with access tend to rely on inefficient diesel generators, chugging along with crippling financial and environmental costs.
Despite that, diesel is standard for off-grid energy. “If there’s no diesel, there’s no electricity”, says Rolf Kersten of the start-up, Africa GreenTec in Hainburg, Germany, which shipped its first solar generator to Mali in December last year. Cont'd...
BRYAN CLARK for TheNextWeb: Part of its ‘Road to Tomorrow Initiative,’ Missouri’s Department of Transportation is teaming with Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup (seriously, what’s going on in Idaho?) to cover an undetermined length of Historic Route 66 with road-ready solar panels.
Blair also told The Star that the bulk of its efforts will be crowdfunded. After receiving a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype, and a pair of $750,000 research grants from the US Department of Transportation, the group has raised more than $2 million of its own to complete the project through acrowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
Solar Roadways’ panels are tempered safety glass that are as strong as they are efficient. In addition to harnessing energy from the sun, they also come with LED lighting to effectively replace road lines and signage. While obviously more expensive to install upfront, the panels do have the benefit of being completely modular, which would allow for quick and cheap repairs by just swapping out the broken panels rather than re-paving entire stretches of road. Cont'd...
Elizabeth Woyke for MIT Technology Review: Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. They’re well suited to the job because they are smaller and lighter, charge faster, and last longer than other batteries. But they are also complex and thus costly to make, which has stymied mass adoption of electric transportation and large-scale energy storage.
Yet-Ming Chiang thinks his startup 24M has the answer. The key is a semisolid electrode. In a conventional lithium--ion battery, many thin layers of electrodes are stacked or rolled together to produce a cell. “Lithium-ion batteries are the only product I know of besides baklava where you stack so many thin layers to build up volume,” says Chiang, who is a cofounder and chief scientist at 24M as well as a professor of materials science at MIT. “Our goal is to make a lithium-ion battery through the simplest process possible.” Cont'd...
Johana Bhuiyan for Recode: Tesla’s board of directors has just sent an offer to acquire SolarCity to the company’s CEO. In other words, the electric car company Elon Musk is the CEO of just offered to buy the solar company Elon Musk is the chairman of.
In the letter, sent to SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s board of directors offered to buy all of SolarCity’s remaining common stock in exchange for Tesla’s common shares. That’s $26.50 to $28.50 a share, according to the board.
The stock-for-stock deal amounts to about $2.8 billion based on where Tesla stock was trading before the proposal was announced.
As of yesterday, Musk personally owns 22,160,370 shares of SolarCity. So if the respective boards of each company approves the acquisition, Musk would personally reap $587,249,805 to $631,570,545.
Tesla’s move to acquire the solar company will help Musk in his goal of accelerating the world’s transition to using completely sustainable fuels in transportation. Cont'd...
From DW.com: Spanish renewable energy group Gamesa has agreed combine its wind power business with those of Germany's Siemens in a deal that will create one of the world's largest makers of wind turbines.
In a note to the Spanish stock market regulator on Friday, Gamesa said it had reached the necessary "corporate approval for the potential integration of Siemens' wind business," with the final terms of the deal still needing to be agreed upon. The announcement followed months of negotiations between the two companies and it comes as demand for wind power surges as countries develop more renewable energy to comply with emissions cut targets. Although no price tag has so far been put to the merger, financial news agency Bloomberg reported that Siemens would pay around one billion dollars (890 million euros) to Gamesa as part of the operation. The German engineering group would hold a majority stake of 59 percent of the new wind venture, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter. Gamesa's biggest shareholder, Spain's biggest power company Iberdrola, would have a 20 percent stake in the new firm, according to Spanish media reports. Cont'd...
Julia Pyper for GTM: A growing number of electric industry leaders agree that it’s only a matter of time before renewable energy resources dominate their grid systems.
In California, it’s already a reality, said Steve Berberich, president and CEO of California Independent System Operator Corporation. On a typical day, CAISO will pull about 30,000 megawatts of energy production, with around 6,500 megawatts from solar, 5,000 megawatts from wind and another 5,000 from geothermal and other services on the system. In addition, California’s grid system has roughly 4,000 megawatts of behind-the-meter solar, which is growing at a rate of about 70 megawatts per month.
In any given day, California gets more than 30 percent its electricity from renewable energy. On many days that amount climbs to 40 percent, and on some days renewables reach 50 percent, said Berberich.
“Now we have to think about the system as a renewable energy-based system complemented by other things,” he said, speaking at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention this week in Chicago. Cont'd...
Richard Martin for MIT Technology Review: Attempting to harness the power of distributed rooftop solar installations to make its grid more flexible and reliable, New York utility Consolidated Edison is launching a pilot program this summer to link dozens of small solar arrays into a single, software-connected power plant. The utility is working with solar power developer SunPower and energy storage company Sunverge to create a “virtual power plant”—a network of distributed assets that functions as a unified resource on the grid.
The project will include 300 homes with a combined total of 1.8 megawatts of solar capacity and batteries that can store up to four megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to run 300 average U.S. households for about 10 hours. Cont'd...
Thomas Burton for Energy Technology Matters: A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper last week in the journal Nature Energy that described how they built a working solar thermophotovoltaic device (STPV) that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. With this revolutionary new technology, the researchers show the potential of how solar panels can generate even more energy than theoretically determined by harnessing some of the panels’ waste. To learn more about the STPV technology, read on!
Since 1961, the Shockley-Queisser Limit established an absolute theoretical limit on traditional solar cell efficiency regarding energy conversion. A single-layer of silicon cells—the type of cells most widely used in today’s solar panels—has an upper limit of 32 percent. But currently, researchers are studying ways to increase this overall efficiency by using multiple layers of cells or converting the sunlight first to heat before generating electrical power. This latter method uses devices called STPVs, which the MIT team used in their study. Cont'd...
Ainslie Chandler for Bloomberg: The U.S. energy sector accounts for 83.6 percent of the country’s carbon emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so tackling climate change effectively requires their participation. Some experts worry the lack of diversity in their leadership is hindering that shift.
Energy-sector boards are the least diverse of any industry globally, with 8.2 percent of seats occupied by women, compared with an average of 10.5 percent for all businesses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That translates to an average of just 0.7 women on the board of each of the 650 energy companies in Bloomberg’s review.
More than 170 countries signed the Paris Agreement in April, which aims to limit the global temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius. If this target is going to be met and the transition to a “de-carbonized” economy made, companies will need to fundamentally change, so leadership teams also have to change, said Rachel Kyte, chief executive and special representative of the UN Secretary-General at Sustainable Energy for All.
“It’s like this bus is coming toward us,” Kyte said of climate change and the transition to renewable energy. “If you keep asking the same people and they keep coming up with the same answer, we’re not going to manage this transition very well.” Cont'd...
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