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EGEB: China and EU upset at Trump Tariff, off-shore solar, ‘n-type’ solar cells, digital inertia, more

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

Both China and the European Union have expressed a demand for ‘compensation’ from the US as solar panel manufacturers. Reuters showed an interesting difference between the complaints though: China said it was asserting its right as a major exporter to demand compensation, and said it believed the U.S. measures broke numerous WTO rules versus The EU request said Germany was a major exporter and cited WTO rules under which it could demand compensation. The EU move follows similar steps by China, Taiwan and South Korea, but unlike them it did not accuse the United States of breaking WTO rules. I can’t really answer a question like this – are rules broken? – as I am not an expert on the topic and it seems these folks are getting into nuances. Of interest is that the US has a similar action going on against India.

Dutch consortium plans world’s first “off-shore” floating PV plant for the North Sea – The consortium stressed that this technology may be particularly utilized at existing off-shore wind power parks, taking advantage of the calmer water surface between the wind turbines and the existing connection lines with power networks. This gives me the giggles. Large open areas of ocean covered with glass on glass bifacial solar panels. Much of the light will go right through the panels, some will stay in the ocean, a lot will reflect back up. Also, some of the light hitting the ocean around the solar panels – much like what happens with snow – will reflect upward toward the panels. Main question will be how (large) waves are managed – do we need have an intelligent disconnect/reconnect for larger waves? Or just smartly engineered shapes interlocking hardware that is flexible enough. Large areas of ocean are available…

‘Digital inertia’: Energy storage can stabilise grid with 1/10 the capacity of thermal generation – QUB’s research found that just 360 megawatts (MW) of battery-based energy storage could provide the equivalent stabilisation to Ireland’s All-Island electricity system as would normally be provided by 3,000MW of conventional thermal generation. That shift to batteries could save up to €19 million (US$22.5 million) annually and could achieve approximately 1.4 million tonnes of annual CO2 savings. Remember the article about energy storage coming to eat the ‘peaker’ plant market? It’ll happen almost ten times faster than anyone could predict. Instantaneously responding to power grid complexities, instead of reacting in seconds or minutes, means you can use a whole lot less energy to fine tune that ‘inertia’ needed to the smallest amounts. Energy storage will make our power grid fundamentally more stable.

Panasonic to begin direct sales of solar cells – What an interesting article full of interesting things: Panasonic to begin selling solar cells individually over the course of the year, via the same sales channels used for conventional modules. Company spokesperson Masayo Fukudomi confirmed to pv magazine that Panasonic’s Oregon factory – which produces ingots – will close at the end of March. Panasonic’s solar cell production capacity in Japan stands at 1 GW. And then the most interesting item: In Japan, Panasonic is focusing on the development of perovskite solar cells. Panasonic makes heterojunction already – combining two materials in a solar cell. Are they going to take that duo-material expertise and apply it to perovskite now?

N-Type Solar Cell Technologies Are Expected to Enter Mass Production in 2018, Driven by China’s Top Runner Program – The short answer for choosing N-type? It’s a higher efficiency product. The longer answer – less panel degradation (lead to higher efficiency) and  lower production costs due to ability to ‘lower quality’ silicon. It’s great to see these higher efficiency products being driven by policy in China. This is how you force an industry to innovate. Read up for a deeper education on why N-type and the prediction of growth in 2015 that has come true. Image below of rough efficiencies of product types from article.

Looks like Nevada is trying to get 50% renewables legislation on the books in the below tweet. Concurrently, there’s a $30 million push by big power companies and others against allowing deregulation in the Nevada energy market. Complexity.

Featured image is from the Department of Energy SunShot programHeliostat field at Crescent Dunes Solar Facility, Tonopah, Nevada. Photo by Julianne Boden.

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