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EGEB: Solar vs cheese/bourbon, Buffett losing billions, plan for 20GW of solar at $15B, more

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

Cheese and Bourbon Face Risk of Backlash From U.S. Solar TariffThe dispute hinges on an obscure trade law that bankrupt panel manufacturer Suniva Inc. has invoked to ask Trump for protection against imports. The measure gives the president broad authority to levy tariffs, but the U.S. has lost every time the law has been challenged at the WTO. “If we tell the WTO to shove it, China may target Kentucky bourbon and Wisconsin dairy, creating natural opponents to the tariffs in Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan,” Clark Packard, a trade policy analyst for the Washington free-market think tank R Street Institute. Ahhh, I love the smell of fresh politics with my coffee! The article notes it could take up to 18 months for the case to hit the courts after the tariff is imposed, and then the US could appeal.

Taiwan government meets with PV makers over possible US anti-dumping measuresSpeaking of reactions to solar hardware tariffs:  PV products, mainly cells and modules, imported into the US totaled US$8.309 billion in 2016, with Malaysia, China, South Korea, and Taiwan taking up 29.52%, 18.05%, 15.52% and 3.22% respectively, the bureau indicated. There’s a lot of hubbub about a total of $8.4B of hardware being imported versus the 250,000+ jobs being directly affected.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) presents its first offering, a Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM) feasibility study – The group has put forward a proposal suggesting that a $1 billion pooling of money from nation states would lead toward an investment grade version of a ‘safe’ $15 billion pool of private money to be invested in 20GW of solar power. They hope their structure can then be multiplied and drive $1 trillion of solar power by 2030. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of CEEW, said: “As much as 75% of the cost of solar power is the cost of finance. CRMM is designed to pool multiple risks – political, off-taker, and foreign exchange risks – and have many participating countries, capitalized through multiple sources of public money. The pooling of risks would reduce double counting of risk variables, providing a single guarantee cover at prices lower than the additive price of existing insurance products.” 75% of system costs being finance – that’s when including a long term finance model (5-10 year payback period) is my guess…lotta money to pay for money.

PV ModuleTech 2017: Busbar, multi wire and upgrade trends with Meyer Burger – Meyer Burger is leading the PERC wave with our MAiA upgrade in the cell line. We also offer high-efficiency cell solutions, the Heterojuntion (HJT) cell technology which currently delivers cell efficiencies of 23.5% upwards. There is a trend to increase the number of busbars, but at some point in time when you look at the dimensions of those busbars it’s most likely to become wires or rounded wires.  Cool solar panel technology – biggest topic is that busbars are going away to wire technology (probably much like the LG panels here). Other solar panel manufacturing tech discussed.

Reasonable price gap between mono-Si, poly-Si wafers at US$0.14-0.15, estimates LONGi – Roughly, what the gentleman is saying is that a mono solar panel should cost about $9 more per unit if we were to calculate based upon the efficiency levels of mono vs poly. A wafer turns into a solar cell – in a standard residential panel we’ve got 60 wafers – that’s $9/panel. That ends up being 2.5-3.5¢/W.

German Greens reject coal closure compromise as deadline approaches: reports – The Greens are demanding the closure of the 20 German coal plants with the highest emissions in order to achieve 2020 cuts targets, but have signaled some flexibility on final closure dates for modern plants. Based on position papers across 12 policy areas, the parties’ members will vote whether to enter formal coalition negotiations, with the Green Party having scheduled a party congress for November 25. Germany’s coal vs nuclear trade-off while wind/solar/storage scales gets a lot of attention. There are other interesting details being argued about in the energy transition – moving wind power from north to south, closure of nuclear facilities by 2022, carbon tax, etc.

“Insurance groups have long been convinced of the scientific correlation between man-made global warming and even more severe natural catastrophes.” Just saying…

Featured image is part of the Department of Energy SunShot photogrpahy contestGenerating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES community solar facility in Lincoln, Nebraska is the largest and first utility-scale solar installation in the state, as well as one of the largest in the region. Photo by Randy Hampton.

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