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Electrek green energy brief: Florida utility writes anti-solar bill, major renewable energy powerlines, more

FPL wrote portions of bill that imposes requirements on solar – Florida voters chose to lower taxes on certain solar installations within the state. The State of Florida legislature then took up the task given to them by the voters – and they created a document they thought represented the will of the people. The law, instead of focusing on lowering taxes on solar installations, instead had multiple requirements added to the sales process. And now we know where the language came from – Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers took an MS Word document from Barbara J. Washington senior legal assistant at NextEra – the company that owns the Florida utility. Technically – is it illegal for an interest group to be involved in writing legislation? Nope. What matters though is the Rodrigues took $15k from FPL to write a law that he himself said was not being broken…but it might be. And this is how Electrical Utilities – like FPL – abuse their state sanctioned monopoly power. And in turn why Florida, the Sunshine State, lags places like New York and Vermont in Solar installs per capita.

Major transmission lines being built across the USA to move renewable energy – A lot more renewable energy will be able to be integrated into the US power grid because of these power lines being built. The Department of Energy thinks we can hit 30% of US electricity from wind alone by building cross national transmission. Solar power would also benefit from this in that excess noon time energy will be pushed east or west as it is needed.

GCL-Poly to spend US$823 million on expanding polysilicon production by 40,000MT – 40,000MT of polysilicon needs $823M to be built – about $20,000/MT. Recently headlines showed Wacker overtaking GCL-Poly as the largest polysilicon maker due to technical mishaps at GCL. We need get to 1TW of renewables per year, I hear, to change the world – that means these companies – to expand from about 85GW to 500GW (the other half can come from wind) need to grow 5X what they were in 2016. I think that means we should expect GCL and Wacker to spend another $5-10 billion each in the next ten years to expand production. GCL is looking for investment partners on project.

What is a PERC cell? – I like this article mostly because it has pictures for me to look at (like below). PERC cells gain efficiency by adding layers to the back of the cells. These layers affect how photons and electrons move inside of the solar cell – in the end increasing the chances of electrons jumping onto the circuit, driving a current. Give the author a read – there are three specific actions that occur to increase efficiency that the author breaks down.

Really interesting relative to the PERC sales pitch above – Fraunhofer readying the technology for a post PERC world – the industry currently retrofits their production to incorporate the PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) technology in order to increase the solar cell efficiency. With PERC technology, only a small area on the rear side is contacted in order to reduce recombination. PERC, however, requires additional patterning steps and leads to longer current conduction paths in the silicon wafer. TOPCon, on the other hand, offers a possible approach to reduce these loss mechanisms and increase the efficiency.

Just a reminder that we knew the math on Climate Change in the 1800s – more than a hundred years ago #exxonknew (if you ever get tired of these reminders let me know).

Image of a solar powered, liquid free (spinning brush) robot cleaning a solar panel

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