Tesla Motors Inc.’s bid to buy the biggest U.S. rooftop solar installer has little to do with selling cars. Rather, it’s about solving two of the biggest problems standing in the way of the next solar boom. And perhaps a good deal more.
When Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk came out last week with his $2.86 billion plan to acquire SolarCity Inc., it was almost universally derided as a risky financial move that threatens to derail the electric car maker at its most critical moment.
That’s undoubtedly true. But in the dozens of analyst notes and news stories that picked apart the deal, there’s been little attention paid to what we’ll call “Tesla Solar” and how it could transform the power sector. It’s actually a really big idea.
Solar Problem No. 1: It’s too complicated
Consider the average homeowner who might be vaguely interested in adding rooftop solar. Where does the process start?
Hydroelectric power developer Gilkes Energy has begun construction on a trio of small hydro projects, all of which are to be located on the Attadale Estate near Loch Carron, Scotland.
Trouble may be brewing in China’s renewable energy industry if idled wind farms are anything to go by.
The nation’s clean-energy investment binge has made it the world leader in wind, accounting for about one in every three turbines currently installed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. In turn, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., which makes the machines, has pushed past its western rivals such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S and General Electric Co.
Yet even with double the wind capacity, China still produces less electricity from turbines when compared with the U.S. That’s because it’s installing lower-quality machines using less reliable breezes and doing so more quickly than the distribution grid can take in the flows.
When I first got into solar, Florida seemed to be a natural market. After all, it’s the Sunshine State. In spite of the sun, there is one big problem that was holding back the market: the state of Florida prohibits residents from purchasing electricity from a source other than a utility. Unlike all other sunny states in the U.S., third party solar companies such as SolarCity, SunRun and Vivint are prohibited from providing solar leases and PPAs to homeowners. This utility-biased state policy has made it difficult for homeowners to finance their rooftop solar systems.
Fortunately, affordable solar loans are now available in Florida. These low interest and easy qualification loans help homeowners get to positive cash flow (electricity savings > financing costs). As a result, the rooftop solar industry in Florida is finally growing, in spite of the utilities’ anti-competitive policies.
My guest this week is Justin Hoysradt, CEO of Vinyasun, one of the leading residential solar installers in Florida. Please join me on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Justin talks about the opportunities for rooftop solar in Florida, as well as some of their unique requirements — such as mounting systems and panels that can resist hurricane-force winds.
A new issue advocacy group has been formed under the name American Wind Action with the goal of helping elect candidates who are strong advocates for wind power in the U.S.
In the eastern Australian state of Queensland, developers plans to transform a disused gold mine into a 450-MW pumped-hydro storage facility at a fraction of the cost typically associated with pumped-hydro projects.
In the renewable energy industry, many companies worldwide find that distances between offices and installation sites pose a significant challenge for surveying and project management.
Hydroelectric power developer Snowdonia Pumped Hydro has withdrawn its application for environmental permits for the 99.9-MW Glyn Rhonwy pumped-storage plant from Natural Resources Wales.
In part one of this article, we discussed Section 1222 — entitled “Third-Party Finance” — of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Here, we look closer at Section 1222 put in practice with Clean Line Energy’s Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project
SunEdison Inc., the bankrupt clean-energy giant, sold a 7-MW portfolio of rooftop solar projects in India to Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt.
Historically, the siting of electric transmission facilities was the exclusive province of state public utility commissions. In the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005 or Act), Congress gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) a “backstop” siting role in the event of lack of action by a state commission. In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit effectively gutted FERC’s rules implementing its backstop authority.
Idemitsu Kosan Co., a Japanese refiner, is set to begin drilling surveys for a geothermal project in Fukushima with 10 other Japanese companies, highlighting efforts to promote clean energy in the prefecture after an earthquake in 2011 triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
Recently I traveled to San Francisco to participate in international efforts to meet the challenge of climate change and accelerate the global transition to clean energy. The main event was the Seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7), a meeting of 23 countries and the European Commission.
Molten salt technology is being developed for use in mineral processing in the mining industry to reduce energy and water costs.
When Toto pulls back the curtain in the Wizard of Oz to reveal that the Wizard is just a normal man with no special powers the Wizard says: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. In the case of the proposed stock acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla, pulling the curtain would reveal two debt ridden companies with cash flow problems.
In the second half of June, Armenia launched reconnaissance drilling of geothermal wells near Kyarkyar City in the southern part the country, according to a recent statement from Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia Hayk Harutyunyan.
With the United Kingdom’s referendum gone to vote, the decision to “Brexit” has come at a critical time. The UK’s debate to leave the European Union is heavily rooted in history, with popular consensus at about an even split. While issues such as immigration, economics and institutional reform are at the heart of the desire to reform, there is uncertainty around what separation could mean for the UK’s clean energy future. However, at a pivotal time where decarbonization is on the forefront of the world’s agenda, making the Brexit could deter the EU from meeting its emission goals.
One of the formative moments in my career was participating in an Energy Department competition called FutureCar — known today as EcoCAR 3 — which challenges students to develop more fuel efficient and sustainable vehicles. Participating in that competition inspired me to pursue a career that addressed the toughest problems in sustainable transportation and clean energy. I’m just one of many who had their professional journeys changed as a result of these competitions.
A little-known Tokyo-based company’s commitment to biomass has made it a darling among investors.
Renewable Energy News
- ‘Tesla Solar’ Wants to Be the Apple Store for Electricity
- Gilkes begins construction of three small hydroelectric plants in Scotland
- China’s Idled Wind Farms Portend Trouble in Renewables
- Listen Up: Solar Power in the Sunshine State
- New Advocacy Group to Drive Political Support for Wind Power in the US