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EGEB: Coal closing; Vikram Solar breaks 19%; Solar soap opera; more

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Vikram Solar launches new monocrystalline product line SOMERA – PERC monocrystalline solar cells reaching module area efficiency up to 19.05% (for 60 cells) and up to 18.45% (for 72 cells). 2,400 Pascal Wind load, 5400 Pascal Snow load and Dynamic Wind load. Extremely low LID and lower temperature coefficients. Cool to see manufacturers launching these 19% monoPERC products. Cool to see it is an Indian manufacturer whose got a big brand name and a cutting edge product. Germany, China, US, South Korea, Japan have all been making big volumes of panels for a while. Adding India – soon to be the largest country on the planet – will mean a huge market expansion.

Vistra Closing Two More Giant Uneconomic Coal Plants in Texas – Vistra Energy announced plans to shutter two more coal-fired power plants—the 1.1-GW Sandow Power Plant (which includes a 2009-built unit) and the 1.2-GW Big Brown plant—in early 2018. Sierra Club mentioned that since their Beyond Coal program started (2010), 262 coal plants have announced closures and there are 261 more to go. Wind is driving overnight prices way down. Gas is competing hard with great pricing broadly, and of course dominating peaker plats. Solar starting to make strategic dents in daytime pricing. Only the most efficient, cleanest coal will survive right now. Bloomberg dropped $30M on this program (plus more on another program) to help it keep going. A man planting trees he will not enjoy the shade of.

Utilities push forward with strategic investments in large-scale solar – “In many parts of the country, solar is now the cheapest electricity option. Through Q2 2017, voluntary procurement has accounted for 59 percent of all utility-scale solar PPAs signed in 2017.” Voluntary procurement refers to moves into solar not affected by portfolio standards but rather market forces. 59% of the utility-scale market in 2017 was bought to squeeze into the broader electricity grid during the daytime – without a legal requirement, but because of pricing (which does include incentives like a federal 30% tax credit of course). That’s good to hear.

SunPower running scared of First Solar – In a second move, SunPower wants thin film technology from First Solar added to any tariffs should tariffs or other restriction be recommended. This would obviously apply to First Solar’s products built in Malaysia and in the future in Vietnam but not its production facility in the US, which is currently transitioning to Series 6. SunPower is wishing the ITC imposes no new trade restrictions on imported crystalline cells and modules in the US but also wanting its own IBC technology to be excluded from the sweeping crystalline description. SunPower has filed a document asking for FirstSolar’s thin film product to not be excluded due to it being a unique product type – because its uniqueness is based squarely upon it being cheap. And its cheapness is able to come about partially due to country of manufacturing origin (at least the volume that is manufactured overseas of course). Interesting logic – their path makes sense in a certain way. Then SunPower goes on to say that its more expensive product, that is specifically designed to higher standards and costs far more than low-cost manufacturers of the world, ought not be included in the tariff. Of course, most SunPower product is manufactured overseas…but it does cost at least 2X (and up to 4X) the cheapest solar panels. The Solar Soap Opera continues.

Writing a solar decathlon story – but I wanted to put out that people want to spend big money on new houses. And knowing how to conceive and design in the world’s modern demand will get you a job.

Just one fire station, nothing like Tesla delivering a huge volume of PowerPacks, but its a fire station that now has strategic hardware running for a decent amount of time.

Header image from the ‘Hit me with your SunShot‘ photography contest. Since I’ve shown each of the winning photographs – I’ve now moved into showing off some of the images that didn’t ‘win’ – but are beautiful nonetheless. These images are located on the flickr account page of SunShot. Mojave Desert solar. Photo by Reegan Moen.

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