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Electrek green energy brief: Walmart doing microgrids, Trina launches bifacial PERC solar panel, more

Wal-Mart, Advanced Microgrid Solutions to Turn Big-Box Stores Into Hybrid Electric Buildings – the-meter batteries at stores to balance on-site energy and provide megawatts of flexibility to utilities, starting with 40 megawatt-hours of projects at 27 Southern California locations – I specialize in installing solar power on top of structures like these (this is us), and the groups that occupy these buildings all listen real hard when I show them spreadsheets that sometimes eliminate their electricity operating expenses. Soon enough, with microgrid growth and recognition from utilities of services – I’ll be turning roofs and storage closets into revenue generators. Everyone listens then.

Trina launches bi-facial PERC solar module – First, the PERC cells mean a higher system efficiency. Secondly, bi-facial means you collect energy from the backside. Cool on both. The question I have is what’s the cost difference between single face and bi-face if the production increase is 10-25%. The images I’ve seen of bifacial show a lot of material to create the second layer – I guess the low pricing of solar panels makes it ok. Anyone have price estimates?

Tesla, Mexican solar PV the stars of Q1 clean energy investment – According to the top chart on this page, since the end of 2015, we’ve seen deployments of, and capital spent on clean energy decouple. The reason is the lower costs of developing wind and solar. Energy storage is just getting going and its price curve is well on its way, so the effect might not be as prominent with it. Interesting line – Another major strong point for Q1 was the estimated $US650 million financing by Enel of its Villanueva photovoltaic complex in Mexico which, at 754MW, BNEF says is “arguably the biggest solar project to reach this stage anywhere in the world so far” – 82¢/W to install in Mexico.

Australia signals shift to five minute energy settlement blocks – Load balancing services – ‘small’ amounts of electricity for short amounts of time – are currently priced in 30 minute blocks in Australia. Blocks that old style thermal energy sources – coal – are able to work well within. The governing body is currently considering moving those blocks to five minutes increments – blocks that energy storage hardware, namely near instant acting batteries, will be able to take significant advantage of. “With more wind and solar generation, along with the retirement of thermal generators like Hazelwood, there is an increasingly important role for flexible and fast response generation and services,” said AEMC Chairman John Pierce. This is part of the reason proposals like this exist.

Speaking of storage – Vermont bill introduced would increase state energy storage capacity – their neighbor Massachusetts is considering going in big on storage, Vermont is already pretty big buying green power from elsewhere. Storage is going to grow fast – the legislation, need, pricing, politics, capital markets, etc are already in place due to wind/solar.

New Bill Could Kill PACE Financing if Approved, Industry Warns – Residential PACE loans are a scam – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) – I don’t do any residential PACE work, so I cannot give you a direct answer. I can say that commercial PACE loans, so far, seem on the up and up. The interest rates are a little strong – but they’re balanced by offering a longer payback term. Terms technology like solar power can take advantage of. Another, less inflammatory description of the changes need – The current process presents homeowners with many challenges and can result in homeowners being misled about the terms of their loan – Representative Brad Sherman (D-California) – Anyone have experience with residential PACE?

Actually, solar volume more than doubled in three years –

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