Sunpower Corp. ( SPWR) announced today they have smashed installation times to a record two and a half times faster than the competition for Commercial Solar Panel Installations. The Sunpower Helix Roof ST system installs at over "33 panels per hour" according to the company, using an innovative "plug and play" architecture greatly simplifying installation while increasing reliability.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a California Utility said in an announcement they hit a significant milestone for 2015 with 29.5% of retail electricity coming from renewable clean energy. That number actually exceeded the State targets of 23.3% for years 2014 through 2016, using a variety of generation sources, and puts them on track to achieve the very ambitious California State goals of 33% renewables by 2020, and 50% by 2013. The utility leads the nation with residential rooftop solar installations connected to the grid.
Awesome Video Graphic titled "Why 2º C?" produced for the December Global COP21 climate conference in Paris:
Why should we care about a 2º C (3.6° F) rise in global temperature; doesn't seem like much right? Most of the time GetSolar talks about the financial benefits of installing a solar electric system, because in many markets of the United States, the financial benefits are very good all by themselves. With the impressive drop in solar panel system costs, combined with the renewed 30% Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), the financial rationale alone is indeed compelling enough. However, the reason GetSolar exists is because we believe and understand the undeniable need to transtion the United States and the World to a clean-energy system. Solar and wind in particular, along with several other clean energy generation systems do not "burn" any fuel to produce electricity, they do not "emit" anything into the air as a byproduct of electricity generation, and hence they help solve the problem and smooth the transition to a lower carbon economy. This transition will be a long term process, using many different tools and techniques to address our energy needs.
The US Residential Solar Power Market is adding jobs at an impressive rate, and contributing to local economies. A just released report State Solar Jobs Compendium 2015 by the Solar Foundation shows strong 2015 jobs growth of 20% in the overall solar industry, a rate they claim is 12 times faster than the overall US jobs creation rate. For 2016 they are forecasting a growth rate of 14.7% to a total employment number of roughly 240,000. That's a quarter of a million Americans working in the solar industry by the end of the year!
A new report this week by GTM Research indicates their analysis shows solar electricity is at or below cost parity in no less than 20 US States. This is a remarkable shift in the economics of solar cleantech in just a few short years. It has been widely known for quite some time that on a National level in the US, fossil fuel generated electricity has not had to "pay" for any of the negative externalities associated with their CO2 and pollution emmissions. Essentially receiving a "free ride" in the larger scheme of classical economic analysis. Solar photovoltaic panels on the other hand do not emit CO2 or pollution in the course of electricity generation. As such, they are a more "valuable" form of energy production, due to their clean nature, and hence their early higher cost. (A general rule of thumb is that the energy and emmissions required to manufacture and transport a solar panel is recouped after 18 to 24 months of electricity production). Many individual states have "portfolio mixes" of clean and dirty electricity, know as Renewable Portfolio Standards ( RPS), and the US Federal Clean Power Plan will be expanding this landscape over time.
Great video of two SunEdison utility scale power plants using the NEXTracker system in the Atacama of northern Chile. The Crucero Project of 71 MWp using 236,320 solar panels, and the Javiera Project of 69 MWp using 231,074 panels. High efficiency utility scale tracking systems can increase electricity production by an impressive 40% over a fixed-mount array. At utility sizes like this, that is a huge iincrease in output. The video shows the shear scale of this type of project, and the depth of design and engineering that goes into clean energy production.
Ah, the age old question. There are several personality traits to keep in mind when considering a match-up with solar electricity for your home; including how much you are currently paying for your old electricity, how much electricity you use, whether or not you have shade on your roof, and if you have a sunny south facing aspect of your roof.
With the myriad financing options available today, solar is more affordable than ever, for more Americans. Some US States' policies are ahead of the match-making curve, and some States are sadly, still stuck in the past...
A new paper by NOAA and CIRES finds that with the deployment of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmisson lines, the US can seriously ramp up the use of solar and wind power to meet the nation's energy needs. The findings are significant on several fronts. One, the US could meet much of its future electricity needs through clean energy at costs comparable to or lower than what we are paying today for fossil-fuel generated electricity. Two, The recent carbon reduction goals set by the US at the December 2015 COP21 summit could be met. or exceeded using only the electricity portion of our overall carbon emissions footprint. Our take on the report is that by using a multi-pronged "blocking and tackling" approach to our nation's energy demands (as opposed to a single "silver bullet solution") we can transition the economy to a lower carbon, flexible, smart and energy independent system.
As the US solar industry grows, prices have fallen virtually across the board for the various customer sectors and regions. This is great news for solar shoppers and for the country as a whole. Like many high technology industries, as a product gets more mature companies get better at building and delivering the product to consumers. We have seen the fall in prices in computers, televisions, mobile devices, telecoms, automobiles, even air travel. Either the product has become outright less expensive to purchase, or the functionality and performance have been dramatically increased while maintaining a rough cost parity or decrease.