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EGEB: Chinese ‘Solar Manhattan Project’ vs US Manufacturing; Windfarms survive Harvey; more

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

The case for U.S. solar manufacturing – CEO of SolarWorld wrote a letter in support of trade sanctions against China government financed solar panel manufacturers flooding the global market. The fundamental argument: The Chinese government showered its industry with export-oriented subsidies, which the U.S. government two times determined to be illegal.  These producers also were found to be selling into the U.S. market at prices below production costs – an illegal practice called dumping. It is true – these specific sub industries within the broader industry have suffered. My question is – has the Chinese funding of below ‘market price’ solar panels hurt the US economy? Well – that answer is a clear ‘no.’ The broader US economy (and the globe) has far benefited from the Chinese ‘Solar Manhattan Project’ (otherwise known as small subset of a Chinese Five Year Plan) as the solar market as a whole is far larger than it would have been with a much slower pace of solar panel growth at ‘prudent’ profit margins… So, who wins in the broader game?

Two cool Tesla Solar news item in the last two days – Tesla starts solar cell production at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, raises annual capacity goal to 2 GW and Tesla solar roof tile connector system explained in new patent. Cool to see that they’re aiming for 2GW of solar cells from the Buffalo plant – can’t wait to see the actual first GW roll off the lines. Wondering what their panel to shingle ratio will be – solar shingle cells would probably make company more money than standard solar panel cells. Secondly, patents for assembling of solar cells within the shingles is cool – major reason is that they managed to increase the density of solar cells on the roof. That’s going to help sell more volume at a better price for customers and company.

Harvey Pushed This Texas Wind Farm All the Way to the Max – Pattern Energy Group Inc.’s Gulf Wind farm in Texas remained in operation even as Hurricane Harvey devastated the state. Wind farms that were forced to shut down are now back online, according to the American Wind Energy Association, though one site remains down due to the loss of the local transmission grid near Corpus Christi. Energy infrastructure still in place. One benefit of being distributed is that even hurricane sized disasters are still relatively small compared to the size of the land we live on.

Finland to introduce law next year phasing out coal, increase carbon tax – The law will, however, leave “room for manoeuvre” to ensure security of supply, he said, meaning coal-fired power plants could still be available to avoid the risk of blackouts. The argument surrounding the power grid has shifted to ‘reliability’ – it used to be about ‘cost’, now coal is more expensive than gas, and wind/solar are generating electricity at amazing lows costs. That’s good – new argument, new challenges.

Professors develop new PV module material – Two things, professors from a southern Taiwan university have developed indium-plated aluminum solder strips which can be directly attached to PV modules without using silver paste as adhesive – silver market won’t take a hit on this because they’re at a flat number anyway, but in the long game this could save a bit for panels – up to 20g of silver per panel, that’s $10 of silver in a $30 solar panel. I’ve read of companies in the past trying this silver-aluminum switch…Second item – using indium-plated aluminum solder strip is equivalent to raising energy conversion efficiency by over 5% compared to using conventional solder strips – on a 20% efficient solar panel, we get a raise all the way to 21% overall on a panel. That ain’t bad!

Tesla battery paired with 3.8MW of UK rooftop solar to avoid peak charges, provide grid services – Nice description of multiple benefits from energy storage in the real world. 1.  Idea is to charge up the batteries during the daytime and in the evening we can use some of that electricity to offset what we’re using at those peak times of 4-7pm – knocking down peak period electricity usage, when you pay higher time of use charges for every kWh, is high return on investment business. 2. Avoid the costly Triad charges, which Gojka explained are usually levelled on the company between 5pm-6pm during the periods of highest system demand  – In addition to paying higher time of use in the evening, you also pay a higher demand charge, that’s being attacked. 3. Outside of these times, the energy storage system will be free to provide the grid services. The power company will pay some groups to spin generators at a certain speed to produce a strong grid frequency (50/60hz) – these batteries offer than and others outside of the heavy use periods in the evenings). Additionally, this site has significantly more solar power than the user needs onsite. Mini, distributed, power plant.

Nice, simple chart with a funny looking, out-of-place line facing nearly vertical. 100GW – we hardly knew thee!

Header image from Dong Energy’s media page (they take nice pictures)

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