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Electrek green energy brief: Coal museum installs solar, 85GW of solar in 2017, more

85GW of solar power projected in 2017 – These are the first projections I’ve seen saying 2017 will be a growth year. Greentech Media says about 78GW of solar was installed in 2016 – 2017 to 85GW would be 9% growth. Four countries – China, USA, India and Japan in that order – will comprise 73% of global volume. Interesting that the globe will grow as it is while the USA is projected to contract 10% on a slowdown in utility scale growth. 2018 numbers now show project about 0% growth over these new 2017 numbers – now my emotions make we think those numbers will be altered upwards when the time comes. That might see us break 100GW in a year in 2019.

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum converts to solar power – “It is a little ironic,” said Communications Director Brandon Robinson, “But you know, coal and solar and all the different energy sources work hand-in-hand. And, of course, coal is still king around here.” – A great headline showing that many groups see the economic value of solar power in their electricity mix.

Cap, Trade & Invest program sells 100% of pollution allowances in first offering – This program’s cap/trade/invest model is much like the USA’s northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Program. Selling the right to pollute – and using those savings to reinvest into efficiency actions. In the USA it has led to billions in savings far above the cost of the program. The Ontario auction raised $472M – raising the price of gasoline about $.12/gallon and increasing heating costs about $80/year. This reinvestment of the tax revenue is different than a ‘revenue neutral’ model where broader taxes are lowered when companies pay for the right to pollute – I lean toward the reinvest versus neutral model because of how long we’ve waited to aggressively act.

Solar power going under 2¢/kWh in 2017, but not expected to stay – It’s important to note that we don’t view these ultra-low bids as a long-term sustainable trend, and we believe only projects that capitalize on scale, preferential non-recourse financing, and free land, permitting costs and long construction timelines can achieve these prices, and their viability as bankable assets is yet to be proven. – I’m expecting someone to bid 1.99¢/kWh in the upcoming Saudi Arabian tender– and it all comes down to those special conditions that Saudi Arabia is offering. While these prices are at the extreme edge – these projects and the technologies + techniques developed building them will spill out globally.

Vicotria, South Australia’s neighbor, receives a few bids more (100+ total) for its utility scale energy storage projects – I now firmly believe the Australian power grid will be a great driver of the utility energy storage industry for the next year to three, again showing how these individual ‘extreme’ markets can help drive a global industry in its youth.

TSEC to set up automated PV module factory in Taiwan – Automation of solar panel factories will lower costs again and probably increase panel quality (though solar panels are already up there in terms of quality control). This interests me from a geopolitical standpoint – can energy security be bought with factories? Will hackers of tomorrow one day open source a standard robotic solar panel factory design? Tesla’s solar Gigafactory in Buffalo had to amend their job creation estimates when they found their factory would need fewer people due to automation.

California politician Scott Wiener’s bill for solar panels on every new rooftop in California has passed out of the energy committee with a few edits (nothing significant). We might have solar power on every single new structure in California.

Header image of residential project I installed in South Florida, winter/spring 2015

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