Tesla Lowers Bid, Agrees to Pay $2.6 Billion for SolarCity

Chris Martin for Bloomberg Technology:  Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. reached an agreement to buy SolarCity Corp. for $2.6 billion, about $300 million less than an initial proposal criticized as a “bailout” for the solar company in which he’s the largest shareholder. SolarCity investors will receive $25.37 a share in stock under the agreement, according to a statement Monday. Musk initially offered $26.50 to $28.50 a share in Tesla stock. Analysts have said in the past that the bid was too low and investors have questioned the wisdom of Musk combining his electric-car maker with the clean-energy company.  The deal, which allows SolarCity to solicit competing takeover offers through Sept. 14, will now go to the shareholders of the companies for approval.   Cont'd...   

Molten storage and thermophotovoltaics offer new solar power pathway

Georgia Institute of Technology:  New computer modeling suggests that high temperature TPV conversion -- which captures infrared radiation from very hot surfaces -- could one day rival combined-cycle turbine systems when combined with thermal storage using liquid metal at temperatures around 1,300 degrees Celsius. Advances in high-temperature components and improved system modeling, combined with the potential for conversion costs an order of magnitude lower than those of turbines, suggest that TPV could offer a pathway for efficiently storing and producing electrical power from solar thermal sources, a new study suggests. The underlying technologies of high temperature storage and thermophotovoltaic conversion could also be used to produce grid-scale batteries able to rapidly supplement other power sources by storing heat for quick conversion to electricity. The research, supported by ARPA-E, was reported July 4 in the journal Energy and Environmental Science by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.   Cont'd...

Energy Storage Would Get U.S. Tax Credits in Bipartisan Bill

Chris Martin for Bloomberg Politics:  Energy storage would gain access to the same tax incentives that helped make renewable energy the biggest new source of electricity in the U.S. last year under a bill introduced in the Senate. Batteries like the lithium-ion ones in phones and electric vehicles would be eligible for the tax incentives when connected to the utility grid at homes and businesses under a bill introduced Tuesday by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich from New Mexico. The bill has eight co-sponsors including Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, according to a statement. Other energy storage technologies such as pumped hydroelectric power, flywheels and compressed air would also have access to the tax credits, modeled after incentives for the solar industry, which reimburse as much as 30 percent of installation costs.   Cont'd...

Intersolar and ees North America 2016 underway in San Francisco

Since its establishment in 2008, Intersolar North America has become the most attended solar event and the premier networking platform for the North American solar industry. AltEnergyMag.com's special coverage report brings all the important headlines from this years event. Visit the Intersolar North America website. Click here for AltEnergyMag.com's Special Intersolar Newspage

Why Every Rooftop Solar System Needs Energy Storage

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. Full Article:

Tesla applies for 6 new trademarks to sell solar energy under the 'Tesla' brand

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...

BMW electric-car batteries to be used as home energy-storage devices

  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...

24M's Batteries Could Better Harness Wind and Solar Power

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...  

Electric Utilities Prepare for a Grid Dominated by Renewable Energy

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...

Virtual Power Plants Get Around Solar Power's Intermittency Problem

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...

Energy Storage: It's About the Software

Carl Weinschenk for EnergyManagerToday:  Renewable initiatives rely on the ability to save the generated energy for a rainy - or windless - day. It follows that the software driving the pivotal task of managing the energy storage system is of paramount importance, says Gabe Schwartz, the Director of Marketing for Stem, which describes itself as an intelligent storage company that combines hardware and software storage platforms. The core storage technology itself is important, of course. But the linchpin - the secret sauce - is the way in which that energy is handled once it is generated. "It is not a solar panel…where if the sun is shining you are in good shape," Schwartz said. "It must shift use from one time to another knowing exactly when most valuable time to do that is and have the ability to act quickly when those opportunities present themselves both to the customer and the grid." The market for storage - and the software that drives it - is growing.   Cont'd...

The inventor of this solar-powered water filtration system wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize

Clinton Nguyen for Tech Insider:  Marco Attisani wants his company to be the first to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It's a lofty goal for a 10-person startup, but Attisani is sure that the solar-powered water filtration systemsthey're producing will earn a spot on the shortlist. The filtration machines manufactured by Attisani's Italian company, Watly, are covered in photovoltaic panels that feed electricity into internal batteries. This allows the systems to be installed in the world's most remote locations, free of the need to connect to a power grid. The 40-foot-long, 15-ton units also serve as Wi-Fi hubs and charging stations.  Each machine can process 5,000 liters of drinking water each day and provide Wi-Fi access within a half-mile radius, according to CNN . The team claims the units will last roughly 10 years before they require maintenance.  Watly tested two units in its production facility in Talmassons, Italy in 2013 and 2014 before piloting a unit in rural Ghana in 2015. The company has also started an Indiegogo campaign to help fund an expansion into Sudan and Nigeria.   Cont'd...

Three takeaways from the national energy storage conference in Charlotte

John Downey for Charlotte Business Journal:  A Charlotte energy executive surveying the scene at the third day of the Energy Storage Association’s Annual Conference and Expo expressed satisfaction and a little surprise at the bustle and buzz the event produced. On a large scale, the conference put top storage developers and vendors together with power producers and systems operators looking for sparks. But there were interesting stories on a smaller scale as well.  Here are a few of those quick shots:

WattJoule Develops Cost Breakthrough for Liquid Energy Storage

WattJoule Corporation, a developer of next-generation liquid electrical energy storage systems, has developed and built a new system demonstrating a major industry cost breakthrough. The new storage platform is called ElectriStor™ and will be offered to system integrators as the preferred core component for storing large amounts of solar and wind energy.  One of the major barriers preventing the widespread adoption of large-scale energy storage has been cost. WattJoule has engineered the ElectriStor™ platform based on the redox flow battery concept where electricity is stored in a liquid. WattJoule's proprietary liquid electrolyte is mostly water, and the company has developed a new, inexpensive process to make it in large quantities. Early liquid energy storage systems have suffered from a number of technical and cost limitations. Recently there have been several technical breakthroughs to overcome these constraints. WattJoule has both developed and exclusively licensed key technologies that, in combination, dramatically lower energy storage costs to $150 per kilowatt-hour in its first-generation energy storage product.   Full Press Release:    

Two-thirds of US solar installers do not offer storage, study finds

Ian Clover for PV Magazine:  A study by EuPD Research shows just 34% of PV installers in the U.S. offer storage solutions to customers, with those reluctant to do so citing cost concerns. However, 26% that currently do not offer storage hope to include it in their portfolios this year. For all the glitzy product launches by the likes of Tesla and Sonnen, the solar+storage landscape of the U.S. is still largely shaped by what leading installers are – or aren’t – prepared to offer to customers, and a recent survey has found that around two-thirds do not currently include storage technology in their product portfolio. EuPD Research’s latest PV Installer Survey USA 2015/16 revealed that only one-third of installers already offer energy storage to homeowners or businesses in the U.S. looking to adopt solar power. Of the two-thirds that do not, 38% said that current pricing of batteries impedes demand, meaning margins are too low for installers and the "technological maturity" of the systems on the market is not currently convincing. However, the mood does appear to be shifting in favor of storage, with 26% of survey participants saying they hope to add storage products to their portfolio at some stage in 2016.   Cont'd...

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