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EGEB: Solar up 40% in 2017; CAT5 + Solar not all roses; Automated solar panel factories; more

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news (little late today, sorry). Featured Image Source

Renewables grow 13.5% in first half of 2017 while nuclear and coal use falls – This report is full of great information: Comparing the first half of 2017 to that of 2016, solar production and use has grown by 39.86%, hydropower by 16.13%, wind by 15.65%, and geothermal by 1.80%. Renewables accounted for 13.49% of domestic electricity production during the first half of 2017 compared to 12.61% during the same period in 2016 and 10.88% in 2015. We knew solar was going to grow such a large amount since so much solar was installed in 2016 – ~14.6GW. We knew wind would grow as well. Now we’re getting to see the results of a lot of hard work – Nation’s overall consumption of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, natural gas, oil) continued its downward slide from 81.73% of total electricity use in the first half of 2015 to 80.31% for the same six-month period in 2016, and to 79.46% in 2017.

US Virgin Islands in ruins from Hurricane Maria – The header image comes from this story. And I’m posting it to so all have a truer, broader picture of the reality of a CAT5 hurricane. As of yet, most of my reporting of solar power relative to the recent spate of hurricanes affecting the USA have been in relation to the survivors. According to a single line in this article on GTMOf the 88 megawatts of distributed solar and 127 megawatts of utility-scale solar generation already installed in Puerto Rico, most systems remain intact, but damaged, according to Shah. What exactly this means, I am not sure, but I do know – based upon being in the field as part of my decade in the industry – that solar can be fixed quickly due to its modular nature. With the knowledge of the nature of solar construction, it is also heartening to hear that energy storage companies like Tesla are sending battery systems to the island. These units will be instantly valuable to the locations they are installed at that already have solar power.

Tongwei ramps up automated solar cell production in China – Compared to conventional factories, the smart automated plant can reduce labor input by 40% and energy consumption by 30%, and hike production efficiency by 25%, the sources said. The 40% labor force reduction refers to the decreased number of employees working at production lines. The automation of manufacturing, since the 1800s, has been bringing the price of things down. If costs are lowered on solar panel manufacturing across the board, like in the above factory, we are going to see continued price falls that are outside of the standard price falls associated with increased efficiency, scaling of industry and betterment of panel technology outside of efficiency. This is manufacturing process betterment. At some point, electricity on your rooftop will cost 1¢/W.

How Solar Power Can Protect the USMilitary From Threats to the Electric Grid – Part of this 500 page study was pointing out three major energy vulnerabilities of US Military bases: Severe weather, traditional terrorism and cyber attacks. The thought from military planners is that local energy backups will partially offer protection. Solar is included on that list. An interesting data point from an analysis pointed out in the article – About 17 GW of solar-generating capacity would be enough to fortify the U.S. military domestically. The US installed about 14.6GW of solar power in 2016.

Interesting to see that an oil company is teaching its people about climate change and renewables. One could take the cynical angle that they’re teaching their people so they can better argue against expressions of climate displeasure due to their main product being oil – but I’m not going to take that angle since I see plenty of headlines where Statoil takes some responsibility for climate actions.

Electricity emissions in California are down 12%(!!!) from the previous year. The only aberration that I know of would be that there was heavy rainfall over the winter times that upped total hydropower, otherwise, I’ve seen plenty of reports showing that natural gas emissions are way down, and that solar, wind are hydro were way up. Good job Cali!

Featured Image – A solar panel array destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, is pictured Sept. 25, 2017. Taken by Hillary Swift/NYTimes.

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