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EGEB: Tesla’s solar slide, caffeinated solar cells, Texas renewable subsidies, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Tesla’s energy revenue and solar installations continue their slide.
  • Researchers add caffeine to perovskites for improved solar performance.
  • Texas legislators take aim at subsidies for renewables.
  • A new wind farm in fossil fuel-focused Russia.

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

Tesla’s Q1 financial results have drawn a lot of attention in the past few days. Not to be ignored are the company’s decreasing revenues in its “energy generation and storage” category, which fell 13% from Q4 2018, and 21% year-over-year.

Tesla said the dip can mainly be attributed to lower solar deployments, which fell from 73 MW to 47 MW sequentially. The company is going to introduce a “new pricing and deployment strategy.”

Elon Musk said during Wednesday’s conference call that Powerwall and Powerpack should see significant percentage growth this year. He also expressed confidence in the development of the company’s Solar Roof tiles, but noted the latest version of the design will take a while to scale up.

Musk said Tesla will have more to say about its solar business next week.

Solar Jolt

It sounds like a bad joke — want to give your solar power a jolt? Add some caffeine! But that’s what a team of researchers has done in caffeinating perovskite solar cells.

A team of researchers published an article in Joule titled “Caffeine Improves the Performance and Thermal Stability of Perovskite Solar Cells.” They found the interaction between caffeine and lead ions in the perovskites becomes a “molecular lock” which “increases the activation energy during film crystallization, delivering a perovskite film with preferred orientation, improved electronic properties, reduced ion migration, and greatly enhanced thermal stability.”

The cells were stable and more efficient. UCLA researcher Rui Wang told Cosmos the team was surprised by the results, including highly efficient findings on their first attempt of incorporating caffeine. Wang said,

“Caffeine can help the perovskite achieve high crystallinity, low defects, and good stability. This means it can potentially play a role in the scalable production of perovskite solar cells.”

Texas Tussle

While renewable energy projects have been booming in Texas — in both wind and solar — recent goings-on may hamper development in the future.

As the Houston Chronicle reports, the state’s Senate passed a bill Wednesday “that would require state regulators to determine how to eliminate the financial advantages created by federal subsidies through measures such as new fees on renewable generators or higher rates for traditional generators.”

Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute, told the Chronicle the legislation is designed to slow wind and solar development, and that seems pretty clear.

Russian Wind

Russian company RusHydro has introduced a new 900 kW wind project in an Arctic region of Russia, DW reports. The company has built 19 solar power plants and four wind plants in the area during the past five years. These are small projects — the solar plants total 1.6 MW, and the wind projects have a combined capacity of 3.1 MW.

This new wind project will become part “of an integrated energy complex that includes a diesel power plant with total capacity of 3.9 MW,” a spokesman said. It currently supplies energy to 4,600 people, from three wind turbines that are designed to operate in extremely low temperatures.

Though Russia has great wind potential, thus far, renewables only make up 3.6% of Russia’s energy mix, and only 17% of its electricity. Of that renewable electricity, 90% comes from hydropower.

Indra Overland, head of the Center for Energy Research at the Norwegian Institute of International Relations (NUPI), told DW that Russia has relatively little reason to develop renewable energy projects, as the country is rich in fossil fuels and nuclear power. The country is also largely unconcerned with climate change.

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