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EGEB: Solar Decathlon in Colorado, climate change to cost $2.2T/year, Moore’s Law and solar power, more

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

Solar Decathlon Teams Enter Construction Phase; Readying for October Competition – U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests. The contests evaluate cost-effective design; innovation balanced with market potential; water and energy efficiency; energy production and time-of-use energy; and communications strategies (link) – Article here is cool. Gives some updates on the teams – best part of article is that it links to all of the twitter accounts for the teams. Also see tweet at bottom of article.

Moore’s Law: Two economists believe they can make reasonably secure predictions about the future cost of solar power – In short, there’s no equivalent for Moore’s Law when it comes to fossil fuels and nuclear power. Here the trend has been unmistakable, with the price per unit dropping a very steady 10 percent per year– We got to watch one of those flowing accelerations of Moore’s law with solar panel pricing during the last year. We’re going to see it keep happening because of efficiency gains and further scale. Moore’s Law can sometimes be described as a Learning Curve – the more people you have looking at something, the more answers and gains they will find.

If You Think Fighting Climate Change Will Be Expensive, Calculate the Cost of Letting It Happen – The share of national GDP at risk from climate change exceeds $1.5 trillion in the 301 major cities around the world. Including the impact of human pandemics – which are likely to become more severe as the planet warms — the figure increases to nearly $2.2 trillion in economic output at risk through 2025 – Global GDP is around $75T, by 2025 it’ll be $90 – and we’ll be paying 1-3% of all money toward fixing climate change challenges (and that’s just in the 301 major cities representing around 50% of the world’s population). These are fossil fuel externalities.

Yingli and Amtech open one of Europe’s largest bifacial solar plants – This is pretty much a press release from Yingli, but a few tidbits – 1. The bifacial modules have a glass front side and a glass rear side with a 30-year-linear warranty exceeding the life time of standard modules. 2. with the rear side making use of the reflected light from the surroundings and of diffuse light, the modules can yield up to 30% more energy compared to standard monofacial modules. – Still wondering how I, a project developer that has to deliver 25 year pro formas, is going to be able to price a product that might make up to 30% more. I suspect the numbers will get more consistent based upon roof type, racking angle, etc.

PG&E-BMW pilot successfully deploys EVs as flexible grid resources – PG&E dispatched 209 demand response events totaling 19,500 kilowatt-hours, utilizing the EV’s flexible charging and a solar-plus-storage project that BMW operated, customers were 98% happy, 93% said they’d participate again. Customers were paid ~$1500 for participation. – I know JB Straubel and Tesla say vehicle to grid is a no go because it is complex and will wear on a car’s battery life…I don’t know. Car batteries are pretty large – 2-3 times the need of a house energy storage system, and the predicted lives are getting much longer. If we go truly autonomous ride sharing and cars are no longer parked 95% of the time, but instead 5% of the time 0- then v2G is dead…otherwise…we’ll see.

A Quarter Of EU’s Electricity Demand Could Be Met By Offshore Wind At €54/MWh – And this 25% would be the most favorable sites. If the site choices were expanded offshore wind could, in theory, generate anywhere between 2,600 and 6,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year at a competitive cost of €65 per megawatt-hour (MWh) or below, including grid connection, based on the use of technologies that will have been developed by 2030 — technologies such as 13 MW wind turbines (as compared to the largest currently ready for manufacturing, 9.5 MW). Amazingly, this would represent between 80% (for the baseline scenario) and 180% (for the upside scenario) of the EU’s total electricity demand. It really could be that the wind – which is really just a result of the rotation of the earth – powers the planet one day.

NREL’s III-V Team Demonstrates Record Efficiency Dual-Junction Solar Cell – (see below image) – Under one sun of illumination, the efficiency was certified at 32.6% – that’s cool. Even cooler later in the article – NREL scientists developed this tandem solar cell as part of a larger ongoing project to design a six-junction concentrator solar cell with a target efficiency of >50% at high illumination intensity. 32% with only one sun illumination is pretty awesome – even if the solar panel costs two or three times as much as it does today, it’d be worth it when we consider cost savings of hardware surrounding it.

Trending in solar electronics: MLPE suppliers shifting toward integrated systems – MPLE is currently dvided into two segments – AC modules and optimizers, which is Enphase vs SolarEdge. Historically we’ve seen this product only exist on residential scale projects –  The market for smart and AC modules will grow from less than 200 MW in 2015 to over 4 GW in 2020 as integrated products become favored in the global market, IHS predicts however, pricing and innovation is leading toward Frost & Sullivan expects megawatt-level MLPE installations to increase from 3.3 GW in 2016 to 10.7 GW in 2021. I’m more fond of SolarEdge type optimizers as I like getting pure DC potentially to batteries and a car, but AC power on the roof means fewer losses. Either way – solar panel level electronics allows individual level solar panel management. That will be very valuable for the smart grid we need.

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