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EGEB: South Australia-Tesla fall madly in love, N-type solar cells rise, Heraeus’ silver power, more

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

Sign up for South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant – We covered the new Tesla-South Australia virtual power plant yesterday. Today’s link is where you can sign up for the program if you’re a local. This example of energy usage seems so intelligent – a machine smart enough to coordinate energy storage, solar power, and the broader power grid into a single mesh network of electricity. This is the future of our energy networks. Watch this program, it’s coming to you soon.

Cutting finance costs could double size of global PV market, says LONGi – “We need support from development banks. If we could drive down interest rates from 8% to 1% or 2% we believe the LCOE could fall by as much as 50%. The Chinese government is looking to do more work on reducing the financial costs of LCOE as well as grid costs and land costs. “Together, all these elements, from polysilicon to system performance and finance, can drive down the LCOE. We think if we reduce the LCOE by 10-20%, the global industry would double in size. We’ll see 20-30GW markets annually in each of Afrca, India and the Middle East.” Anyone that says they can lower the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity over the lifetime of a solar project) by 50% will get my attention. It’s a tough play in my mind though – how can we lower the price of interest on loans lower than they’ve been globally for the past decade? Developed economies have lowered their interest rates to zero and China has literally wiped loans from the books? Nonetheless, this is a little window into the cost pressures of building a solar power system – paying back the bankers doubles the cost of solar electricity due to solar’s heavy up front costs.

China’s Top Runner Program spurring n-type solar cell development, report finds – While p-type PERC cell technology has now entered large-scale application – growing 160.5% in 2017 to reach 42.38 GW of new capacity – the time is ripe for the increased adoption of n-type cell technologies. Costs for n-type mono-Si wafers are still some 20-30% higher than p-type mono-Si wafers. The discussion here is between P and N type solar cells. P type solar cells made more sense early in the solar industry because they performed best in space, and space age solar drove the solar market. Long game though – N type seems to be wanting to pull ahead, and it’s for two reasons – 1. It’s slightly cheaper to make than P-type and 2. It has a higher efficiency because its able to hold onto electrons longer. And, this reason is why we’re talking about them today – the Chinese are pushing higher efficiency solar panels to gain access to state level incentives – and N-type is on the list. Truly, as a buyer, I’ve not had an experience where my installation has been able to benefit from an N versus a P type, but I am sure very soon I’ll be given the option.

Heraeus highlights its R&D investments as solar cell record efficiency abound – This company is where the silver in solar panels comes from. I thought the article was cool because it reminds us how powerful a player in the field Heraeus is – their silver paste seems to be in every record-setting solar cell during the past year. The silver (labeled AG in image below) is the conductive material that pull the electrons away from the solar layers inside the solar cell and starts the current. Check out great images on structures of different solar includes – from a competitor Dupont – plus the below image:

Baked Alaska – that’s a terrible joke…because it’s true. And those are humans dealing with consequences. 15°F higher than the average…

Look at that electricity usage bump below – I wonder if that second bump is the fourth quarter starting. Good game last night – Go Philly! “We can definitely see the demand changes on the system, in real time, by what’s happening in the Super Bowl,” said John Norden, the RTO’s director of operations. “Whether it’s the beginning of the game, halftime or the end of the game, we can see changes in levels of consumer demand. Understanding what is going on in real time, from a societal level, is very important to us, and we monitor that from our control room.”

Featured image is from the Department of Energy SunShot program. Massive heliostats at sunrise, ready to wake up for early morning pre-heat at Solar Reserve’s Crescent Dunes facility in Tonopah, NV. Photo by Ivan Boden.

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