Solar Factor

Solar power information and news

With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energy policy over the coming years.

The Brazilian real has declined 17 percent since Oct. 31, when more than a gigawatt of solar farms won contracts in the country’s first-ever national solar auction and with the slumping currency driving up import prices, developers are holding off on signing supply deals for PV panels. Manufacturers that were considering setting up shop in Brazil are having second thoughts. All of that is threatening President Dilma Rousseff’s goal of increasing the use of solar power more than 100-fold and creating a domestic solar industry.

At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that have the ability to disconnect from the main, centralized grid to operate independently when the main power grid experiences disturbances. This significantly boosts grid resilience. For almost a century, large centralized power plants have generated electricity and delivered that energy over high-voltage transmission lines to customers. But with microgrids, all that could change.

Tesla’s new line of big, stackable batteries for homes and businesses started with a bang. The reservations reported in the first week are valued at roughly $800 million, according to numbers crunched by Bloomberg. If Tesla converts even a fraction of those reservations into actual sales, the battery roll-out could measure up as one of the biggest ever for a new product category.

A few years ago in a solar marketing department near you an enterprising executive had an epiphany: the word “microgrid” could be adapted to describe any system of any size and then used to confer a marketing advantage. Moreover, the more timely and part of the solar-lexicon the phrase microgrid became, the bigger and broader the opportunity it could describe potentially applying to everything from a residential PV system with a battery to a multi-megawatt installation. As long as the installation could be described as distributed generation (DG), it can be a microgrid.

Net metering is unfair and is dangerous for the long term health of utilities, at least according to Raymond Wuslich, when he spoke at the 2015 Renewable Energy Conference in Poughkeepsie, NY. Wustlich is an attorney and partner at Winston & Strawn, LLP., and advises clients across the electricity and natural gas industries on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) matters.

In January, SunShot competitively selected 17 teams to move forward in the overall Catalyst Prize competition. Each of the teams had 60 days to build a prototype product using the TopCoder platform, a 700,000 member community of software developers managed by Appirio, a San Francisco-based information technology consulting company.

In a timely new report, three prominent electric grid industry experts refute claims that the president's proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants will jeopardize electric grid reliability. The authors, Susan Tierney, Eric Svenson, and Brian Parsons, explain that those claims undervalue the grid's strengths and the Clean Power Plan's flexible design. They also chart a role for grid planners to help states develop their plans to cut carbon pollution.

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