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EGEB: A million in LA County ditching utility, lobbyists, theoretical solar efficiency limit approached, more

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news

A million people in LA County might ditch their utility and investors are scared – They’re not going off grid, but instead are joining a CCA. California Assembly Bill 117 of 2002 established CCAs, allowing “customers to aggregate their electrical loads as members of their local community.” California CCAs have eight operational members/1.25 million customers/projected 2017 load of 13,750 GWh. This is a complex thing – multiple power utilities within the same area, neighbors even. Electricity pumped over shared power lines using various sources for generation. A very smart electricity grid will be required to maximize concepts like this. Anyone know who owns the local distribution power lines in California? Private? Public? Anyone in this program already?

Paying for Utility Politics: How ratepayers are forced to fund the Edison Electric Institute and other political organizations – In essence, your payments to the utilities go directly toward an organization that will manipulate the public and pay Congress to make laws against your best interests. The story here focuses on how the Edison Institute is constantly shown to be violating the rules surrounding collecting fees used for lobbying in shareholders, not ratepayers, interests. And Edison consistently being told they’re not allowed to lobby with that money – many times after it is shown they’ve broken rules. This isn’t new – Ten major utilities spent more than $250 million total on political expenditures over a five-year period beginning in 2011 – and it isn’t going to stop.

Speaking of lobbyists – Push to educate Congress on energy storage crosses political divide – Chris Collins, Representative for New York’s 27th Congressional District, who is a Republican, and Democrat Mark Takano, Representative for California’s 41st District, launched the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus…flanked by members of the US Energy Storage Association, executives from energy storage system integrators/vendors AES Energy Storage, S&C Electric and Stem, as well as transmission system operator National Grid – How long are the Energy Storage people going to be on the good side of history?

A few days ago, I suggested Tesla has a 25 year battery warranty up their sleeves – yesterday Tesla battery researcher says they doubled lifetime of batteries in Tesla’s products 4 years ahead of time. Already, these battery systems will last longer than 10 years with constant use. Very soon your battery system will last multiple decades without question.

Tweet image below – cell on the left is of record-breaking 25% solar cell from 1999(!!) – cell on the right is 26.3% – theoretical limit 29%. 18 years since that breakthrough. Paper focuses on the 26.3% solar cell from Japan announced in March. Key note from the very short paper:

In the Kaneka design, shadowinlosses due to the front grid metallizatioare completely suppressed by usininterdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells. Both the anode and the cathode contacts are localized at the back of the solar cell, in an interdigitated design, as shown in the schematic in Fig.1b. The back contacts arthus intrinsically better suited to optimize light absorption and short-circuit current compared to cells contacted on both sides.

Aiko Solar to Construct 8GW PV Cell Capacity, Focusing on Mono-si Bifacial PERC Technology – the high-efficiency bifacial PV cells’ conversion efficiency of the front side exceeds 21%, and of backside surpasses 15% – Funny, but the three biggest technologies upping efficiency, that I see commonly talked about are monocrystalline, bifacial and PERC. And this group is looking to build a factory composed of all three – and at 8GW a year capacity. That’s 10% of annual global installation volume. Build out is in three phases with 2.65GW of production capacity expected to be completed by end of 2017.

These are the bids for a recent Indian solar auction that is setting record prices around $0.04/kWh – no incentives. The bids are in chunks of 50MW at a time – so not the huge sizes needed in other places to get the record pricing.

Header image of a solar cell production line. Took it from a Meyer Burger press release.

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