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Electrek morning green energy brief: US emissions lowest since 1991, Carbon Tax is not enough, interconnection is expensive and more!


[Editor’s note: We’re trying a new morning green energy briefing which should deliver every day by 9am ET. Please comment below]

US Energy related emissions for first half of 2016 are lower than at any time since 1991 – Even including population and economic growth, the total amount of emissions from energy creation in the US is trending downward. This is mostly driven by natural gas replacing coal, but also by a 9% increase in renewable sources for the first six months of 2016 – and this is before the large capacity of solar power that is expected in the second half of 2016 is accounted for.

Why we need a carbon tax & why it won’t be enough – The basic argument: since we took so damn long to admit the reality of our CO2/Climate Change actions – simply taxing this pollution will no longer work. We need to aggressively do many actions, maybe even actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere. This article is about six months old – but I thought it fitting since in yesterday’s morning brief included a carbon tax in exchange for a corporate tax article, and this one goes a bit deeper. Carbon taxes are in place in many countries globally – and though the USA is doing its best to avoid responsibility in the name of ‘pragmatic economic actions’ – many politicians are coming to the realization that there might be no choice.

Interconnection (connecting power systems to the grid) times have increased from 28 to 45 days, on average, in the USA – The article brings up an important point: Not all electrical utilities are created equally, and many of them are slowing down the process of installing solar power. As a commercial installer in Massachusetts – I have seen project add-on costs of hundreds of thousands to upgrade the grid after months of analysis by the utilities. Though, there are some bright spots – some utilities, per the article, have gotten their residential approval process down to less than 48 hours. Often times it helps if installers plan the switchover weeks/months ahead.

Mono-si supply shortage minimizing margins for cell manufacturers – There is a broad industry shift from lower efficiency multi-si solar cells to mono-si solar cells. This shift is occurring because mono-si product, which is a higher efficiency solar cell, is getting more price competitive for regular folks to buy. This shift to higher efficiency solar cells lowers overall system costs per kWh because you get more wattage for each labor unit (more watts per panel – but a panel takes the same time to install).

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