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EGEB: Berkshire Hathaway solar; $5.5T/yr fossil fuel subsidies; Pennsylvania solar fees; more

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

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Earnings Up on Solar Rebound – BHE Renewables saw net income increase $39 million due primarily to higher generation at the Solar Star projects, which were hobbled by transformer-related forced outages in 2016. It also benefited from earnings from tax equity investments reaching commercial operation and additional wind and solar capacity placed in service. If Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hatheway are improving their investment numbers due to solar power, expect plenty of others to follow close behind. Headlines like this bring regular people into the fold.

How Large Are Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies? – Estimated subsidies are $4.9 trillion worldwide in 2013 and $5.3 trillion in 2015 (6.5% of global GDP in both years). Undercharging for global warming accounts for 22% of the subsidy in 2013, air pollution 46%, broader vehicle externalities 13%, supply costs 11%, and general consumer taxes 8%. If we predict that the global economy grew 2.5 in 2016, will do so again in 2017 – and the 6.5% of global GDP stays consistent as it has, then the 2017 number is $5,560,000,000,000. Society has benefited greatly from fossils – however, ‘When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.’

The Section 201 Trade Case, Part II: In the Hands of DIPs (not the solar industry – but those who made loans to the industry for hardware) – Suniva’s original DIP was SQN Asset Servicing, LLC (“SAS”) and certain affiliates. One of those affiliates, SQN Ventures, LLC (“SQN”), a British venture firm, with major operations in New York and London, had previously loaned Suniva nearly $50 million that was secured by all the company’s assets. In April, SAS provided Suniva with $4 million to prosecute the Section 201 trade case. After the original filing, another venture firm, New York-based Red Lion Capital, put up $1.5 million and joined SAS as a fellow “Debtor in Possession.” SQN Asset Services is the entity that financed and organized the Section 201 trade case. These groups only motivation is to get their $50-60M back – they don’t care about how the broader industry is affected. The Suniva case has little to do with solar.

In power-poor Pakistan, switch to solar power hit by rumors – Unscrupulous local utility officials, he says, told him that the dark-colored solar panels, built to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them to electricity, would increase the ambient heat in the buildings they were attached to, pushing the temperature indoors even higher. Two reasons that solar panels actually lower the temperature of the structure they are above – 1. They absorb up 20% of the photons and turn it directly into electricity. Those photons would have added heat to the structure. 2. They add a layer of insulation between the roof and the solar panels. Solar panels – with their aluminum framing – bleed heat off into the atmosphere much better than roofing materials (except maybe white commercial rooftops). Here is a YouTube video to show temperature differences and a university study showing the area under (and inside the building) solar panels is a lower temperature than around.

Dirty energy’s quiet war on solar panels – In statehouses all over the country, there’s a growing movement by industry front groups to undermine net metering and other renewable energy incentives. These front groups include the Edison Electric Institute, the utility industry’s trade association, and outfits such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity, both of which are funded by the Koch brothers. It’s not so quiet in my world – I see the language creep in many different places. We see it in attacks on Tesla and Musk, we see it in attacks on net metering, and – let’s be clear – it will not stop. Those with large money, in a country like the United States that allows legal bribery of politicians who support political positions, will never stop acting in their own ‘best interests.’ Only technology and political will power from the people will elicit change.

Peco bill to hook Chesco man’s solar array into grid: $45K – Peco’s engineering study found six upgrades that had to be made. That included changes to transformers, capacitors on poles, upgrading a buried line, and work at a nearby substation. My customers, on a regular basis, have to pay for upgrades to the power grid. One customer of mine was once quoted an upgrade of $350,000-450,000 for a $400,000 solar project. Anyone that says people who invest in clean air and less CO2 aren’t paying their fair share ought be questioned on their motives.

Hywind – the leading solution for offshore wind – Not really a whole lot to this article that is new, except – I thought you might like seeing (image below) how floating wind turbines are interconnected. They are still attached to the ground with a “suction anchor” – and they’re connected to each other via electrical cable to move the power. Wonder how deep they can go? Wonder if the projects in the Netherlands of floating solar in ‘rough seas’ could complement the electrical cables in place?


Pretty pictures of Onyx building integrated solar PV. As we slowly replace our buildings we will also replace their technology. There will be a time, in the not too far future, where a building that doesn’t make its own energy is not going to sell. Already – if your building isn’t conscious of energy efficiency it isn’t a legal structure (insulation), and it won’t sell if lighting/heating/cooling aren’t seriously considered.

Header image taken by Jamey Stillings in Japan and recently shown on Bloomberg

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