CGEB: Tesla’s mega-solar roof install starts, $52 billion in batteries, more

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Tesla finally starts installing its massive ‘world’s largest solar rooftop array’ at Gigafactory 1 – This really is a huge building. Currently the world’s largest rooftop solar project seems to be around 11-12MW. This system would be almost 7 times larger. With efficiencies having increased since the original announcement – unless the electricity utility pushes back, I suspect this projects will be larger than 70MW.

Brattle Study: FERC Order Sets Course for 50,000 MW U.S. Storage Market -The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, ruled recently that energy storage can compete in the USA’s wholesale electricity markets. These markets are hundreds of bills a year worth of revenue. This analysis suggests 50GW of energy storage over the next decade if basic compliance occurs and price fall patterns continue with energy storage. Some fun, and totally inaccurate – but just enough to give you a feel of the shape of the mountain type of math: per the study 50GW might mean we have 150GWh, and in the report $350/kWh unlocks the full 50GW. That means $52 billion in market opportunity. The powerpoint presentation is quite accessible – lots of nice data in charts.

Financing the Future – In 2015, $286 billion was invested in renewable energy. IRENA estimates that deploying renewables on the scale necessary to limit global temperature rise below 2 degrees would require current investment to double by 2020, and triple by 2030 to around US$ 900 billion annually. Climate bonds saw $155 billion in issuances in 2017, and are expecting $250-300 billion in 2018. From what I’ve read, we saw about $250-300 billion spent on wind+solar in 2017 – but with significant increase in capacity as hardware/installation prices are still falling.

Roth: US steel, aluminum tariffs to add at least 1-3c per watt to solar projects – According to a note by Roth Capital Partners, the recommended tariffs and/or quotas by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would result in at least a US$0.01 – 0.03 per watt increase in PV system costs, as higher prices on steel and aluminum will drive up costs for racking, tracking and mounting system makers, as well as PV modules. Another little notch in cost against solar power, absorbable by the marketplace in short term (months at most) – but every little notch slows us down, kills a person.

Solar tariffs perk up in latest Karnataka auction – Good article with a lot of local pricing data – Though Karnataka gets lower solar radiation than Rajasthan and the winning tariff was expected to be consequently higher, the 50 paise per unit rise is striking. It confirms the view of many developers and lenders that bidding in the last few solar auctions had been too aggressive, and some correction was likely, more so because the cost of solar panels and modules has been rising in China. Around 90% of solar equipment used in India is imported, mostly from China, since it is substantially cheaper than the locally manufactured variety. If anyone needs evidence that import tariffs, without a doubt, affect large scale plants we have that evidence here. Large scale plants are more sensitive to hardware price increase because hardware makes up a larger percentage of costs, versus soft costs that dominate residential/small business.

Japan gets its first office building fully powered with solar energy – The building boasts energy-saving equipment such as an air conditioning system utilizing solar heat and water in a well, which saves about ¥6 million a year in electricity costs compared with a conventional facility of the same size. A local utility will supply electricity to the building only when it is unable to generate enough power on its own, for instance during a prolonged spell of bad weather. Net zero structures will dominate the future because the cost to install on day one will be significantly lesser than the cost of electricity over the long term, and banks definitely care about the long term costs of structures.

Regarding the tweet below – that’s a lot of renewable energy.

Tweet below – I think community solar is the most logical pathway toward solar electricity for a lot of living situations. A key piece of the model I think need occur for it to flourish is a strong financial motivation for end users of the electricity, and for that to happen the end users must put up the cash to own a portion of the system versus leasing it. There’s going to be a healthy market for purely utility or independently owned systems that sell slightly discounted community solar. But for an explosion to occur – people need see savings, and people – if you want those savings you need put up the $$$.

Feature image comes from the Department of EnergySolar array at sunset. Photo by Kellie Grengs.

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John Weaver
Solar Power Plant Project Developer at Commercial Solar Guy
John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar consultant - aka The Commercial Solar Guy. As a project developer and installer, he's sold and managed 50+ solar projects worth more than $10 million, ranging from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain - as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier, climbs mountains, played football, enjoys an IPA or scotch, needs to get away, and really loves this strange connection between politics, energy, finance, environment, etc in the energy world, and likes run on sentences.

Current and occasional stock positions that I have written about are ASYS, TSLA, CAFD and TAN - plus Bitcoin and Etherium.

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