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EGEB: Blackout parties, 11% of new generation in Q1 solar, Tesla Utilities, more

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

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town – “People assume the grid is something reliable and permanent, but in reality it is a centralised system with very long lines out to remote communities – it is in fact highly susceptible to failure” – Every day, as the price of solar + storage falls, more places become economically viable for solar power. What’s more interesting – with advancing microgrid technology – is how a grid can develop and broader stability exist outside of the incumbent centralized model.

The Next Step in Energy Storage: Aggregation – Australia and Germany are piloting smarter grids that tie to together home storage + solar generation. Hawaii is testing pieces of it. Now we have Tesla working in Vermont. The program, basically, offers people a home energy backup for $15/month. Cool. What it offers the broader grid is much more – a distributed power plant able to be called on in a near instant. There are many ways for batteries to make money from the grid. I’d be interested in who owns these batteries – and whether Tesla is making money off of the services offered to the grid – and is there an official ‘Tesla Utilities’ department yet?

 USA Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update (pdf) – Q1 2017 saw utility-scale energy project build 2,235MW of gas, 102MW of nuclear, 1,479MW of wind and 939MW of solar. 47% of new capacity was gas, 2% nuclear, 31% wind and 20% solar – actual generation from this hardware will be (and this number is rough as future generation capacity factors are estimations) – 58% gas, 5% nuclear, 26% wind and 11% solar. No new coal, and at least 42% of the electricity that comes from the first quarter 2017 will be clean electricity for a long time.

2018 will be ‘take-off year’ for solar in Mexico – Mexico has some of the best sunlight in the world for solar power in their northwestern regions. They’ve got expensive electricity for residential customers. And, many houses already have a type of solar – hot water – on many of their homes. Of course, this article is talking about huge utility-scale and not hot water systems – but if the people are already on board, utility-scale investment is an easier sale.

A Farm Grows in the City – Indoor farming is green because 1/3 of global emissions come from agriculture. What most interests me about this article is the header image – the food racks look like computer racks. Engineers are beginning to get a chance to attack indoor farming – learning curves are coming.

Can Coal Make a Comeback? – – Increased competition from cheap natural gas is responsible for 49 percent of the decline in domestic U.S. coal consumption. Lower-than-expected demand is responsible for 26 percent, and the growth in renewable energy is responsible for 18 percent. The Role of Environmental Regulations – of the ten regulations listed (in the report linked to) they are directly responsible for a roughly 3.5 percent decline in US coal. – The report’s final conclusion is that if we did get rid of all regulations regarding coal, it would help some. However, in order to bring coal back to the way it was – we’d have to heavily increase the price of natural gas and hack back at renewables.

A single electric bus take hundreds of kW worth of batteries – they’re clean, and run on constant routes that can be strategically build out with charging infrastructure. The electric bus is coming hard.

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