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EGEB: Tariff free solar panels from >100 countries, $255-300 billion Green Bonds in 2018, more

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

US confirms nations exempt from solar import tariffs – Imports from exempted countries are restricted to 3% of annual US crystalline silicon solar imports per country and 9% for all exempt countries combined. It is not yet clear how the tariffs will be reimposed once the limitations of 3% or 9% have been reached. There are over a hundred countries on the list, so I’m not going to include all of them here. However, here are four countries of note – India, Turkey, Brazil and Pakistan. The first three have solar manufacturing capacity in place or under construction, and Pakistan got headlines this weekend for offering Trina Solar tax incentives to build a factory. My gut says it’s India, if anyone at all, who exports panels to the USA. And interestingly – those Indian solar panels have a high probability of being Chinese manufacturers building factories elsewhere.

Department of Energy Announces Prize Competition to Accelerate U.S.-Based Solar Manufacturing – First off, I love that the Department of Energy announced a $3 million program the day or two after they imposed a billion dollar tax on the solar panel industry. Trump’s buddy, Rick Perry, knows who the boss is and how to play the publicity game. In reference to the program: It will leverage the 3D printing and small batch manufacturing facilities that exist across the country to speed up innovation cycles through rapid prototyping and iteration. Testing and development capabilities of the National Labs will bring world-class research expertise and analytic tools to U.S. entrepreneurs. The program encourages connections through local business incubators to expand access to capital that help businesses rapidly scale up. The goal of the program is innovation, moving products through the pipeline faster. This could be something important. The US, and the world, has a great network of universities pumping out research – so much of it that might never get used. If we figure out how to test these ideas from these amazing lab focused scientists – the rate of solar evolution increases. As an aside – this is one of the things the Stanford China-USA solar analysis recommended.

2017 GB Issuance: USD$155.5bn – Plus our 7 super trends to watch for in 2018 including our USD 250-300bn initial forecast for the full year – Investment in renewable energy continue to be the most common use of proceeds, however their share has dropped considerably from 38% of volume in 2016 to 33% in 2017. Allocations to low carbon buildings and energy efficiency rose 2.4 times year-on-year and accounted for 29% of 2017 use of proceeds up from 21% in 2016. With a multitude of rail and urban metro deals, allocations to low carbon transport almost doubled in volume. The trend to finance an increasingly diverse range of projects continues. Two items to point out – $155 billion (wow!) in 2017 and a projection of $255-300 billion (wowowowow!) for 2018. That’s a large amount of money…interestingly – in order to meet certain scientific goals – we need that number to be $1 trillion/year in order to stave off some serious climate change effects. Secondly – note that renewable energy has actually fallen as a percentage of the overall bonds. This represents two items – the rapidly falling pricing of solar/wind/storage/etc. and that we fully recognize its not just electricity that we have to clean. You folks buying Tesla’s and riding bikes, using public transportation, and upgrading our buildings are part of this revolution as well.

Storage investment rush continues as Stem raises US$80 million in Ontario – Stem Inc, self-described as a supplier of “artificial intelligence-powered” energy storage, which deployed a system on average every two days last year, has closed a US$80 million Series D financing round. Stem uses its software to operate batteries on behalf of commercial customers, giving them savings on demand charges, while also aggregating across the network to provide grid services like demand response. I’m interested in this company because they make software to make the batteries smarter, they don’t make batteries. I’ve read that if the USA were to completely digitize its electricity network, and get it to the point where the machine reacted instantly – the country would save 20%-40% of our current electricity usage. That right there, all its own, would allow us to shut off every single coal plant in the country.

Below tweet gives a great visual perspective on the solar tariff applied to the USA and the long game:

Featured image is from the Department of Energy SunShot programEarly morning pattern of frost appears on the surfaces of these giant heliostat mirrors at Solar Reserve’s Crescent Dunes facility in Tonopah, NV. The frost takes on the shape of the supports that hold each panel to the array, but quickly evaporates as the sun warms them. Photo by Ivan Boden.

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