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Green Energy – Industry Updates July 2020

INDUSTRY NEWS
• Rather than using natural gas as a “bridge,” many utilities are bypassing gas generation entirely and moving straight to renewables. (PV Magazine)
• Critics say Amazon is trying to distract from its growing emissions footprint by focusing on “carbon intensity.” (Grist)
• Baltimore urges the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an industry petition challenging its 2018 climate lawsuit against major oil companies. (Bloomberg Law, subscription required)

TRANSPORTATION – The House approves a $1.5 trillion green infrastructure plan, with Sen. Mitch McConnell saying “naturally this nonsense is not going anywhere in the Senate.” (The Hill)

COMMUNITY
• Advocates say clean energy and efficiency programs for low-income households can help address the energy burden disproportionately faced by African Americans while providing multiple benefits for utilities and customers. (Energy News Network)
• A new report says the world’s largest renewable energy producers fared poorly on human rights indicators across their operations and supply chains. (Renewables Now)

UTILITIES: PG&E finally emerges from bankruptcy, one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom authorizes a bill that would initiate a government takeover if the utility doesn’t meet certain deadlines. (New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle)

ELECTRIC CARS
• Massachusetts expands electric vehicle incentives to include fleet vehicles in a move advocates say will greatly enhance their carbon reductions impact. (Energy News Network)
• Home builders partner with an energy cooperative in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to build the city’s first “electric vehicle ready” community where new houses are equipped with an EV charger. (WQOW)

WIND
• Three Massachusetts Congress members propose a federal office to coordinate technology and supply chain planning to assist the offshore wind industry. (SouthCoastToday)
• Tension over wind development in North Dakota’s coal country surfaces during a public hearing over a county’s moratorium on wind development in place until 2022. (Bismarck Tribune)

SOLAR: Customer-owned renewable energy in Florida nearly doubled in 2019 since utilities are required to offer expedited interconnection agreements, according to a report by state regulators. (Utility Dive)

COAL: Many questions have yet to be answered one year on from Blackjewel’s bankruptcy, despite more than 2,000 court filings. (Wyoming Public Media)

OIL & GAS: While a new report from the Trump administration suggests the Ohio Valley’s growing petrochemical industry could be an unprecedented source of economic opportunity, a clean energy group’s recent analysis paints a much less rosy picture. (Ohio Valley Resource)

TECHNOLOGY: A report written for the Department of Defense finds energy storage improves reliability and cuts costs for microgrids. (Microgrid Knowledge)

NEWS:
• The head of the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy says making the case for clean energy is “rapidly becoming a no-brainer” as more utilities announce a transition from coal. (Evansville Press & Courier)
• A Florida advocate says conservatives should follow the example of President Reagan’s response to ozone depletion when dealing with climate change. (Orlando Sentinel)

2020 is a great time to go solar. Utility prices are on the rise and solar prices continue to drop. Most people are shocked to see how much they save by going solar. If you’re interested in getting a free quote, click the button below.

Solar Outlook 2020: Trends That Could Transform the Industry

10 Solar Industry Trends in 2020

  1. While over 90 percent of Americans want solar, only about half want to pay for it, which is why 30 percent federal solar tax credits through 2021 are vital to the industry. Solar will continue to grow in demand as more businesses embrace it and report energy savings.
  2. Homeowners will continue to take advantage of solar tax credits at least through 2021 and maybe longer if Congress extends this incentive. The residential solar segment hit an all time record in Q3 2019 with 71.3 GW of installed capacity, which was enough to power 13.5 million homes.
  3. California’s new law mandating most new homes and building must be installed with solar panels will add further stimulus to the solar industry.
  4. Solar installations will increase across all market segments, through 2021 among non-utility businesses and developers looking to take advantage of federal tax credits. Energy investment models pioneered by Fortune 500 companies will continue to attract big investors.
  5. Various traditional energy companies will diversify more to include renewables. European developers have laid the groundwork to build a more visible solar presence in the United States.
  6. Improvements in solar battery technology will continue among researchers. Current home solar batteries typically provide 10 kWH of capacity. These batteries, which have a lifespan up to 15 years, can be stacked to increase capacity, as scientists aim for greater efficiency.
  7. Tariffs on solar panels from China will benefit U.S. manufacturers such as First Solar, although these tariffs were offset by lower panel prices in 2019.
  8. Declining prices for solar panels and batteries will continue, attracting new buyers who want to save on otherwise uncertain energy costs. Over 96 percent of net new energy generation capacity in 2020 will come from solar and wind sources, according to Deloitte. Solar construction costs fell by 37 percent from 2013 to 2017.
  9. Renewable energy will be an issue in the 2020 Presidential Election, partly as a solution to climate change.
  10. Demand will increase for a broad range of solar products such as solar powered generators, portable smartphone chargers, outdoor motion sensor lights, backpacks and cookers.
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Importance of Favorable Regulation for Solar Power

Solar power becomes a very attractive investment when sunlight is available in generous amounts, since you obtain more energy and savings for a given PV system capacity.

 

The southwest of the USA has excellent natural conditions for solar power, particularly in states like California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Some locations in these states receive more than six peak sun hours per day, which greatly increases the energy output a photovoltaic system while reducing its payback period.
However, even with excellent site conditions and affordable solar panels, the local regulatory framework has a considerable impact on the financial attractiveness of solar power. The case of California and Nevada is a clear example of this; both states have plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but very different regulatory approaches to solar power:
· California has plenty of government incentives for solar power, including generous rebates. The state also has a thriving entrepreneurial community, and thanks to these factors the installed solar power capacity in California is currently half of the total national capacity!

 

· In Nevada, on the other hand, the government has sided with electric utility companies and is creating less favorable conditions for solar power: On January 1, the fixed monthly fee for solar power customers was raised by 40 percent, while also lowering the payments received for exporting the surplus production of solar PV systems to the grid.

 

In addition, these changes are retroactive(!), which means customers using solar power can expect large bills this month… just for being users of photovoltaic technology. The new regulations were pushed forth mostly by NV Energy Inc., the owner of Nevada’s two largest electric utilities.

 

These new regulations have placed considerable pressure on the main players of the solar power industry in Nevada. For example, SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc. were both forced cut down their staff by hundreds of employees. Governments throughout the world must realize that solar power is a booming industry which can create considerable economic growth and hundreds of jobs. When limitations are placed on the solar power industry to protect older business models, such as those of traditional electric utilities, the resulting damage far outweighs any benefit.

 

Of course, there has been backlash from solar power companies in Nevada. A group of 18 venture capital investors is pressuring the state governor to void the recent regulatory changes, and rallies to protest against the new fees are being organized in Las Vegas and Carson City.

 

Regulations like those recently approved in Nevada cause great damage to innovation, but the greatest impact is suffered by homeowners who have invested in solar photovoltaic systems. They have to face reduced payments for the surplus energy they sell to the grid, while also being charged a retroactive fee. It is unfair to punish homeowners for using a technology which brings both environmental and economic benefits.

 

The case of California and Nevada clearly demonstrates the importance of favorable laws and regulations for the solar power industry. If you plan to install a photovoltaic system, make sure the make the most out of any benefits available in your location! You can talk to our solar experts for guidance on this topic, or for any questions or inquiries you might have.

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Printable PV Cells: Making Solar Power More Affordable

Traditional photovoltaic modules have experienced a drastic cost decrease since the year 2000, greatly increasing the financial attractiveness of the technology. However, the installed price of PV systems remains high for plenty of households.

Large-scale solar power developers can achieve costs as low as $1500 per kilowatt thanks to economies of scale, but homeowners can expect to pay from $3000 to $4000 for each kilowatt of installed capacity.

However, with printed solar cells, costs could drop to just a fraction of their current value. The payback period of traditional rooftop PV systemsis around five years assuming the best possible conditions, but printed solar cells could reduce this to just a few months. This is still an experimental technology, but it offers great potential.
One of the great promises of this new generation of solar cells is that, since they can be printed, they can be adapted to a wide range of shapes and materials. For example, printable solar power technology would allow the creation of windows which can function as solar modules without losing their transparency. It would also be possible to print these cells on a plastic substrate, creating a portable and flexible solar power solution. If complemented with an adhesive, printed solar cells can even be turned into stickers.

Printed solar technology is also lightweight, which would greatly simplify installation while reducing shipping costs. There will be plenty of new and innovative ways to power electric devices once this technology is marketed.

Another great feature of printed solar cells is their wide variety in terms of available colors and degrees of transparency, which opens the possibility of decorative solar cells. These cells would have aesthetic and architectural applications, in addition to their main goal of providing energy. Solar power systems would no longer be limited to the black and blue tones of traditional silicon and thin-film arrays.

Plenty of research on printed and portable solar cells is going on in the University of Calgary, in Canada. Curiously, many of the compounds being used for this research are organic, and they are byproducts of oil and gas processing, an industry which is frequently considered a direct competitor of solar power.

Printable solar cells are possible due to the fact that these organic compounds are soluble, while also having properties of semiconductors. The first working prototype of a printed and portable solar cell is still five to ten years away, but the technology promises to revolutionize the solar power industry.

This research has been possible thanks to the use of a portable Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMRS), a device with the size of a toaster which was also developed in Calgary. This high-tech device allows analysis of molecular composition to be carried out in just 90 seconds. Traditional spectrometers tend to have the size of a car and are much slower than the NMRS.

Solar power is a constantly evolving technology, and one from which any homeowner with the adequate site conditions can benefit. You can talk to our solar experts today if you wish to learn more about the technology or quote a residential PV system.

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Solar Power Is Creating Thousands of Jobs in the USA

Rooftop photovoltaic systems have two well-known benefits: providing energy at a lower cost than many electric utility companies, while also having a reduced environmental impact.

However, there is another benefit which is not so obvious but should not be overlooked: the solar power industry has the potential to create thousands of jobs, if not millions, and in the USA it is currently creating more jobs than the fossil fuel industry.

 

The US solar power industryhas grown at an impressive rate thanks to technological developments which have made photovoltaic technology affordable, combined with government incentives such as the 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC).

These incentives are guaranteed to continue, as the ITC has been extended until the year 2022and President Obama launched the Clean Power Plan last year. Another factor which has driven growth is access to financing options and business models which make solar photovoltaic systems more affordable, such as third-party leasing and power purchase agreements (PPA).

 

Of course, a booming industry requires more staff year by year, and employment in the solar power industry has grown by 123 percent since the year 2010. In 2015 alone, solar power employment increased by an impressive 20.2 percent. There are now more than 200,000 solar power jobs in the USA, and by the end of 2016 this number is expected to reach 240,000.

Viewed in terms of percentages, the solar power industry is creating jobs 12 times faster than the general USA economy, and this rate will only continue to accelerate as photovoltaic technology achieves widespread adoption.

 

There are jobs for diverse types of talent in the solar power industry. Most jobs created are in rooftop array installation, but there is also a high demand for talent in areas such as sales, marketing, technical consulting, legal services, contract development, finance and manufacturing.

 

The fossil fuel industry, on the other hand, seems to be struggling. The global economic downturn has placed pressure on oil and gas firms, forcing them to downsize their operations and shrink their staff. Coal mining has also experienced a slowdown due to the introduction of incentives for cleaner forms of energy.

 

According to The Solar Foundation, a non-profit solar advocacy group, there are now more jobs in solar panel installation than in coal mining, or oil and gas extraction. The general trend in the fossil fuel industry is contraction: the total number of active oil and gas rigs in the USA dropped by 61 percent in the year 2015 alone. Only a few players in the industry have been able to achieve growth, although at a slow rate.

 

The combination of affordable equipment, government incentives and ample financing options will guarantee long-term stability and growth in the solar power industry. You can learn more about photovoltaic technology by contacting our experts, who can also help you contact the best solar array installers in your location and provide guidance with respect to state and federal incentives!