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EGEB: Solar job losses coming to USA (actually, already here), energy storage at 4¢/kWh, more

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

Swinerton puts solar workers at forefront of new website as threat of job losses in US mounts – SRE said that the website was intended to highlight the many human faces of the US solar energy, including profiles for each member of the SRE team – We want to talk about job losses in coal? Let’s be blunt – coal job losses peaked in 1920, now they’re doing what old industry does – slowly dying off. Solar panel manufacturing jobs have NEVER been anywhere near the number of installation jobs we have today. Could they have grown without China – maybe, but then many other commodity product manufacturing positions in this country has fallen off as well in the last few decades. Call your politicians folks – remember – you employ them. Also remember why this started.

Suniva trade case ruffles feathers in KoreaA major Korean supplier of solar modules is threatening to stop shipments to the U.S. if President Trump starts a trade war – Hanwha is a quality solar panel maker that I am proud to offer to my customers. They don’t benefit from cheap Chinese loans (which, by the way, I am not against) for the solar industry. This will slow the industry, hurt jobs and not benefit anyone. Bad business all around.

LG Neon and JinkoSolar are integrating Enphase microinverters in the backs of their solar panels as per announcements at the InterSolar show going on in San Francisco right now. Panel level electronics are pretty cool.

It’s a pure press release, so some salt…but – ViZn Energy Systems Enables 24/7 “Solar Nights” at Lowest Ever Published CostA ViZn 30 MW, 4-hour system added to a 100 MW solar plant can generate a seven percent internal rate of return (IRR) with a 4¢/kWh power purchase agreement (PPA) – First off, it’s a flow battery with a 20 year life time. Secondly – I do think these types of batteries react slower than lithium-ion, however, if they can deliver load shifting at such a price – they will instead complement lithium-ion instead of directly competing. Lithium ion can fill in large amounts of space replacing peaking power plants and offering grid services – and flow batteries could offer the great storage volume we truly need next. This is cool – let’s hope these folks can find some capital to scale.

UK to fund research into letting electric cars return power to grid – StrategicFit, an energy consultancy, thinks a single electric car could earn its owner £1,000-£2,000 a year for helping the grid, depending on where it were located and how often it were plugged in – A cheap electric vehicle could have a substantial portion of its original purchase price paid back to the owner by offering grid services. That ain’t half bad.

Dominion, DONG to Build 12-MW of Wind Power Capacity in Virginia Waters by 2020 – Its two 6MW turbines, so don’t get too excited – but, now we have offshore wind under contract coming to Massachusetts, Virginia, New York (under contract?) and Maryland and a system already in operation off of Rhode Island. With China planning on dropping 400GW of off grid wind – also expect the pricing to fall further.

A couple of days ago we talked about an ‘invisibility cloak’ on solar panels increasing efficiency. The cloak was above ‘finger contacts.’ Well what the heck is a finger contact? See the image below. Finger contacts, busbars and ribbons are part of the ‘infrastructure’ that moves electrons from the silicon getting pummeled by photons to, eventually, your coffee maker.

And the reason I decided to educate all of us on a solar panel structure: What’s next for cSi solar modules? Experts say half-cut cells and more busbars – Over a traditional three-busbar module, four-busbars gain 0.76% of performance, five-busbars gain 1.13% and six-busbars gain 1.32%. When switching to half-cut cells, four-busbar-half-cut cells gain 3.59% over full-sized three-busbar modules, five-busbar-half-cut cells gain 4.01% and six-busbar-half-cut cells gain 4.24% in performance – Efficiency gains from areas OTHER than the silicon. Get out of those coal/oil/gas stocks folks – get into installation of panels.

Drone Solar Plant Inspections Added to Measure’s Portfolio of Services – 1. On a site generating 21MW, for example, Measure can complete an inspection in 7 hours instead of weeks 2. Specially designed ‘snapshot’ reports that dramatically reduce the time required for asset managers to extract actionable information, whether from orthomosaic, terrain or surface models or other formats like point-of-interest images 3. Maximum revenue capture for larger plants that may not be inspected in a single visit, potentially leaving unidentified issues and/or faults that compromise solar plant capacity and associated revenues – and 4. that I know from other places: Use of thermal cameras during the diagnostics of photo voltaic panels (check out the cool video on that link – header image comes from it) – The industry will better the return on investment for solar farms in many places that are not solar panels dropping in price.

Not to talk any smack – because a solar farm shaped like a Panda is GREAT!! – buuuuutttt….here’s the real image (found on Snopes of course):


Want to know what you can do to help cut down on CO2? A nice handy-dandy list:

Ok – one more tweet – of a robot, cleaning solar panels – hello, beautiful, what’s your name:

Header image from youtube video at Workswell – Thermodiagnosis of photovoltaic power plants – notice the hot spot in the lower center area. That’s a diode (subsection of solar panel) that isn’t working efficiently, and holding heat internally versus moving those electrons out. Whole panel will get replaced.

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