Friday, November 4, 2016

Trump Disses Solar; HRC's Big Plan

For the 200,000+ of us working in the solar industry plus those who are fans of solar, it's vital to know where the presidential candidates stand.

On Sept 26, Donald Trump, who declared his four (maybe six) bankruptcies mean "nothing", said the Solyndra bankruptcy in 2012 was another matter. Granted, the Solyndra demise was not good for the industry or taxpayers but many of us know the company's modules were outliers; there was no way they could compete against the ever-dropping prices (and higher efficiency) of crystalline cell panels. Solyndra was barely a blip on the solar industry screen as multi-gigawatts of solar projects have been installed worldwide.

In October Trump said solar installations take 32 years to reach payback. We know this is a ludicrous assessment. Here in CA, paybacks can be met in as little as four years depending on the grid cost of electricity. Finally, Trump wants to get rid of the Clean Power Plan and kickstart the coal industry for more jobs (and more dirty power). Today, what coal mines still produce are profitable only through automation; 90% of mining jobs have been replaced by machines in the past 20 years. Those jobs simply won't be coming back. Furthermore, natural gas is cheaper and cleaner. Even Kansas rejected two proposed coal-fired plants two years ago because of the filth they would produce.

Hillary Clinton wants to install 500 million panels in four years. That's a tall order, for sure, but think of the possibilities. Production capacity stateside is not nearly there now but it would sure stimulate existing solar panel makers to grow and get others started. Then there are the inverters, switch gear, monitors and racking that will need to be made. This all means jobs, jobs and more jobs, some of which can be had by former coal miners!

So, if you're concerned about where the solar industry is going and your future in it, do the right thing this Tuesday.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Solar Top Power Source by 2050

The 17.5 megawatt/22 megawatt Victor Phelan project, located
in San Bernardino, Calif., is part of six Recurrent Energy developed
projects acquired by Google and KKR.
 Credit: Recurrent Energy
As solar photovoltaic (PV) installations globally hit 100MW daily, the sun could be the world's top source of energy by 2050. The projection comes from two reports and covered in an article by Lucas Mearian in Computerworld magazine yesterday (full article

Issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the reports disclose that PV panels could produce 16% of the world's electricity and solar thermal electricity could add 11%. (Solar thermal power comes from concentrating the sun's rays to produce steam which turns a turbine.) The combined 27% would lead all other sources of power by mid-century. 

Just since the end of 2013, the IEA reported that PV panels capable of producing 137 billion watts (gigawatts) of power. Better yet, and perhaps just as important, solar could reduce CO2 emissions by six billion tons during the next 40 years, according to the reports. 

Panels on roofs powering homes and businesses comprise around one-half of all installations and as a distributed energy source, the technology is "unbeatable" said one of the reports.

Solar power, reports the IEA, is expected to drop to four cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2050. Right now in the U.S., the average cost per residential kWh is about 13 cents and seven cents for industrial power. 

Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the Paris-based IEA, said the reports are not forecasts but detail expected technology advancements and policy upgrade required to meet those goals by 2050,

"The repid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years," said van der Hoeven. "However, both technologies [PV and concentrated solar] are very capital intensive: almost all expenditure are made upfront. Lowering the thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps."

Solar power in the U.S. has grown six times since just 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a federal agency charged with following the nation's energy production across all sources. Also, a federally-funded report which studied two U.S. utilities--one in the Northeast and another in the Southwest--said rooftop solar could cut utility profits by 15% or more in the next eight years.  



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