Solar Electricity
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Solar Electricity
Articles on the progress of the solar electricity industry.
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SolarCity eliminates net metering need

SolarCity eliminates net metering need | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Net metering drives solar sales but is unsustainable. By adding Tesla batteries to their installations, SolarCity eliminates net metering need.
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Lifesaving Solar Power For Army’s “Firefly” Sniper Detection System

Lifesaving Solar Power For Army’s “Firefly” Sniper Detection System | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
The Department of Defense has been aggressively pursuing alternative energy both as the key to future national security and as a means of reducing troop casualties in the field, and a new Army solar project provides a perfect illustration of the...
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Unilever CEO: For sustainable business, go against 'mindless consumption'

Unilever CEO: For sustainable business, go against 'mindless consumption' | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Many companies focus on short-term results. The CEO of consumer-products giant Unilever, Paul Polman, says long-term strategic planning builds better businesses.
Douglas Short's insight:

After taking the helm, Polman immediately got to work developing a better, more sustainable culture around the office. That included putting an end to quarterly reporting and changing the company's compensation system accordingly.

 

"We had to create the right environment so that people would start to think about the longer term," he says. "What we have seen is that discussions with our financial community have become a little bit more strategic. The decisions in the company are a little bit more long-term."

 

"We know it's very easy to optimize -- short-term -- the share price," he admits. "But lives of businesses are getting shorter and shorter, and yet society needs them more and more. Nine out of ten people in this world depend on businesses, and I think it's in all of our interests to create healthy institutions... You cannot get a successful, healthy business model if you also don't create a healthy environment. Business has a hard time succeeding in societies that fail."

 

"What we've created here is an enormous force to lift people out of poverty," Polman points out. "But at the same time, we haven't figured out how to do that without incurring these enormous levels of government or private debt; overconsumption; and frankly, leaving too many people behind. You cannot say that the system properly works if there are over a billion people going to bed hungry."

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Intermittency could be solved by storing excess solar as methane

Intermittency could be solved by storing excess solar as methane | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Audi is the first company to develop a commercial scale plant converting excess renewable energy generation into methane gas for storage.
Douglas Short's insight:

Audi creates "e-gas"; proposes using existing natural gas pipelines for storage.

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ABB demonstrates technology to power flash charging electric bus in 15 seconds

ABB demonstrates technology to power flash charging electric bus in 15 seconds | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Zurich, May 30, 2013 - ABB, the leading power and automation technology group has developed a new technology that will help power the world’s first high-capacity flash charging electric bus system.
Douglas Short's insight:

I'm thinking any U.S. utility serving a city with a large bus fleet should subsidize adoption of these buses. Next step: garbage trucks!

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QBotix Solar Robots: Intelligent Mobility

QBotix Solar Robots: Intelligent Mobility | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
VideoLike sunflowers lifting their petaled heads into the sun, the QBotix solar robots intelligently track and adjust solar panels to do the same - towards the moving sun to produce more electricity.
Douglas Short's insight:

QBotix Solar Robots provide dual-axis tracking inexpensively. Brilliant! Small, track-mounted robot can adjust up to 300 kW of solar panels using simple mechanical adjustments. Much better than lots of individual motors to fail. Dual axis tracking increases energy production 30-40% over stationary panels.

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Will EVs Save the Electric Companies? | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Will EVs Save the Electric Companies? | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

The major utilities in Australia think they might.

Douglas Short's insight:

As I have discussed, U.S. utilities need to start now (Disruption On All Sides – What Is A Utility To Do?) to save their businesses, protecting what they can while building the base for a new  business. The longer they wait, the closer they will be drastic economic losses and fewer options to save themselves.

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Do You Think Utilities Should Be Able To Own Rooftop Solar? | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Do You Think Utilities Should Be Able To Own Rooftop Solar? | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

If utilities own the solar on customers’ roofs, it will increase penetration, save the distribution grid, and set the stage for a new business model. In Idaho, natural gas exploration representative David Hawk said that’s not the utility’s business.

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Years Before Solar Shines On Miami Rooftops | Exas Consulting

Years Before Solar Shines On Miami Rooftops | Exas Consulting | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

Miami is blessed with lots of sun, so it must be great for solar, right? Not on your rooftop!

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A New Entrant In The Hydrogen Storage Race | Exas Consulting Newsroll

A New Entrant In The Hydrogen Storage Race | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

There is another entry in the cheap hydrogen storage race. Two scientists at the University of Calgary believe they have discovered a way to use inexpensive, safe catalysts to produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis. They believe their catalysts will be 1,000 times cheaper than what is used today. They have started a new company, FireWater Fuel Corp., to commercialize the technology.

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Virginia Power: Feed-In Tariff For Very Small Amount Of Solar | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Virginia Power: Feed-In Tariff For Very Small Amount Of Solar | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Douglas Short's insight:

Virginia Power, owned by Dominion Resources, has received approval from the Virginia regulatory commission to have a feed-in tariff (FiT) for up to 3 MW of solar power from residential and commercial installations. This would be a buy-all, sell all arrangement as was the case with Germany’s FiT. That is where the similarity ends, however.

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Is Your Head Still In The Sand? Big-Bang Disruption In The Electric Industry | Exas Consulting

Is Your Head Still In The Sand? Big-Bang Disruption In The Electric Industry | Exas Consulting | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Financial firms, news firms, industry CEOs, real world experience, even bloggers have identified the coming sea-change to the electric industry. A new paper from Harvard says disruption now happens at warp speed. Why aren’t you doing something about it?
Douglas Short's insight:

Very recently, many financial and news firms have written about the coming electric industry disruption that will be caused by onsite solar, including Deutsche Bank, UBS, Macquarie Group, and Reuters.

 

We have real world experience of disruption from onsite solar in Germany, Australia, and Hawaii.

 

Leaders of two large electric conglomerates (David Crane, NRG and Jim Rogers, Duke Energy) have publicly talked about the coming disruption to the industry, although they seem unable to get their company’s cultures on board.

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I have previously written . . .

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Tensions rise in CA utility versus solar debate | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Tensions rise in CA utility versus solar debate | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

Tension between California’s solar installers and the state’s investor owned utilities boiled over at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco.

Douglas Short's insight:

I think things are going to uglier before they get nicer. Utilities have to get their prices in line with their costs if the grid is going to be there when people with solar need it. Idaho Power applied for something similar to what the California utilities did and, like the California utilities, kind of bungled it.

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German solar storage could be win-win for Australian households : Renew Economy

SMA set to mass market its award-winning household solar storage systems: technology that could cut Australian power bills, and our reliance on the grid.
Douglas Short's insight:

The interesting thing is that a small amount of storage (2 kWh) can have a big impact. Australia does not have net metering and power fed back into the grid is now paid a relatively low price. If this advances fast enough, it could really blunt any pain that occurs when net metering goes away.

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Siemens Will Shut Solar Unit on $1 Billion Loss in Two Years

Siemens AG will close its solar power unit after struggling to find a buyer following losses of at least 784 million euros ($1 billion) euros since 2011 amid Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher’s failed push into that business to expand...
Douglas Short's insight:

Siemens is the second company to exit the solar thermal electric production market after Brightsource Energy. At the same time, utility-scale solar installations are losing ground, as a percentage of the market, to rooftop installations.

 

If utilities own solar as a central station generating source, then it increases revenues and profits for them. If customers own rooftop solar, utilities lose sales, revenues, and profits. Solar is better geared to rooftop use than central station power plant use.

 

I think this recognizes the facts David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, laid out at the Bloomberg NewEnergy Finance Summit in April. As reported by David Roberts in Grist:

 

He said yesterday that the whole approach of covering vast swathes of desert in solar panels and piping the energy hundreds of miles through high-voltage transmission lines “was stupid in 2008 and it’s stupid today.” Rather, the key advantage of solar is that it can cover houses and buildings and car parks and other urban structures, enabling them to generate their own power.

 

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SolarAid Is a Winner in Google's Global Impact Challenge

SolarAid Is a Winner in Google's Global Impact Challenge | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Yesterday Google unveiled the winners of its Global Impact Challenge, in which four UK-based non-profits each received £500,000 (US$766,000) for their work in "using tech to tackle the world's toughest problems".
Douglas Short's insight:

SolarAid gets $$$ from Google, promotes SunnyMoney solar lighting distribution for #Africa.

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IEA to thermal coal miners: Leave it in the ground : Renew Economy

IEA to thermal coal miners: Leave it in the ground : Renew Economy | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
IEA says thermal coal reserves must be left in ground to meet climate targets. Many fossil fuel plants now being built will be written off.
Douglas Short's insight:

Mostly coal, but oil and gas, too. How to we get fossil fuel companies to leave their assets in the ground? Pay them off? Tax carbon to make them uneconomic? Let them recover them and toast us all? Ideas, please!

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Utilities Strike Back! Bad rates for solar, good rates for "aircon" - Exas Consulting

Utilities Strike Back! Bad rates for solar, good rates for "aircon" - Exas Consulting | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it
Utilities strike back but wait until it is too late. They invest more to raise prices to increase profits, oblivious to price competition awaiting them.
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Denmark bans new installations of fossil-fired heating | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Denmark bans new installations of fossil-fired heating | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

The Danes’ renewable goals (100% renewable by 2050) far exceed those of Germany (80% renewable by 2050).

Douglas Short's insight:

Although Denmark announced its ban on installations of new fossil fuel heating systems last year, it was not widely available in English until now. Apparently, the oil crisis in the 1970′s caused Denmark to begin aggressive build-out of district heating systems and of a natural gas network to use the newly abundant supply from the North Sea.

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Want To Bet Against Elon Musk? Solar City / Tesla Energy Storage | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Want To Bet Against Elon Musk? Solar City / Tesla Energy Storage | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

SolarCity Sees Energy Storage ‘Viable’ Within 10 Years, CEO Says

Douglas Short's insight:

Elon Musk is CEO SpaceX, CEO Tesla Motors, Chairman Solar City. SpaceX made history as the world’s first privately held company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station. Tesla builds electric vehicles and its Model S is Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year. Solar City is one of the largest solar manufacturers and installers in the U.S., and provides the solar panels and installation for Tesla’s free charging stations.

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EEI Highlights Coming Retail Electric Disruption | Exas Consulting

EEI Highlights Coming Retail Electric Disruption | Exas Consulting | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently published a report titled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business”. Peter Kind, Executive Director of Energy Infrastructure Advocates (an investor lead initiative to educate and advocate public policy that is supportive of infrastructure development) and Senior Advisor to Macquarie Capital’s U.S. Utilities and Power industry group authored the report. In it, Mr. Kind predicts dire consequences for retail utilities and their investors from “distributed energy resources” (DER) and demand-side management (DSM).

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SunPower 21.5% Efficient Panels Could Reduce Other Costs by 30% | Exas Consulting Newsroll

SunPower has announced a new series of solar panels with 21.5% efficiency, about 44% more than the 15% efficient panels typically installed. While this does not mean choosing SunPower will get you cheaper electricity per kWh (it is a free marketplace after all), it does have some interesting knock on effects.

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NRG & Duke Confirm Rooftop Solar Disruption. Their Plan? | Exas Consulting

NRG & Duke Confirm Rooftop Solar Disruption. Their Plan? | Exas Consulting | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

In an interesting interview with Bloomberg, NRG President David Crane finally has put his company’s actions behind his thinking. They have the NRG Residential Solar Solutions unit. Mr. Crane obviously wants to grow that and add more than solar.

Douglas Short's insight:

So what are NRG’s utility brethren to do? Compete! NRG’s unit is unregulated and so will require higher returns. Regulated utilities should own the solar on people’s homes, put it in rate base, and charge the hosts a discounted rate just like Solar City does. With their lower regulated cost of capital, they can out-compete on price. That  will not be enough, though; see Disruption On All Sides – What Is A Utility To Do? and Is Your Head Still In The Sand? Big-Bang Disruption In The Electric Industry.

 
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Low Income Subsidizes Solar In Queensland, Govt. Struggles With Solution | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Low Income Subsidizes Solar In Queensland, Govt. Struggles With Solution | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

If you have an item that is easily mass produced, people can purchase a lot of it in a short time if the price is attractive. Solar panels are mass produced and mass installed.

Douglas Short's insight:

Government agencies begin to struggle with the disruption caused by solar photovoltaics, mis-priced feed-in tariffs, and mis-priced residential electric rates.

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Recent Warming Is ‘Amazing And Atypical’ | Exas Consulting Newsroll

Recent Warming Is ‘Amazing And Atypical’ | Exas Consulting Newsroll | Solar Electricity | Scoop.it

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).


New Science Study Confirms ‘Hockey Stick’: The Rate Of Warming Since 1900 Is 50 Times Greater Than The Rate Of Cooling In Previous 5000 Years

 

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).


Douglas Short's insight:

If you believe the science and look at the picture, there is really not much else to say.

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