Monday, July 25, 2016

US, Canada and Mexico Pledge 50% Clean Energy Mix by 2025

Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto to announce new ‘aggressive but achievable’ goal at ‘Three Amigos’ summit in Ottawa

Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto will commit to a new regional clean power goal at a summit this week in Ottawa, the White House has said.

The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico, meeting on Wednesday at the so-called “Three Amigos” summit, will pledge to have their countries produce 50% of their power by 2025 from hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear plants, carbon capture and storage, as well as from energy efficiency measures.

“We believe this is an aggressive goal, but for all three countries, one that we believe is achievable, continent-wide,” said Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Obama.

It is a jump from the current collective clean power levels of about 37% and will require the most work from the United States, which produces about 75% of the countries’ power.

About a third of US power now comes from clean energy sources.

Curbing climate-changing carbon emissions has been a priority for Obama as the end of his second and final term in office draws closer.

But his new regulations on coal-fired power plants – the main US tool to reach emissions targets pledged at UN climate talks in Paris in December 2015 – were put on hold by the US supreme court earlier this year.

The White House believes its Clean Power Plan rules will ultimately survive the challenge. The rules, along with tax credits for renewable power plants, would help the United States do its share to reach the North American goal, Deese said.

He said it would not be necessary for the United States itself to hit the 50% mark to achieve the regional target.

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SolarCity and Tesla Deal Moves Forward

By Liana B. Baker

PALO ALTO, CA --(eSolarEnergyNews)-- Tesla Motors Inc and SolarCity Corp have made progress in putting together a deal that will merge the electric car maker and the solar panel installer, people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies, which count billionaire Elon Musk as a major shareholder, are in the final stages of carrying out due diligence on each other, and could agree on the terms of a deal in the coming days, though it is still possible that their negotiations end unsuccessfully, the people said on Saturday.
It could not be learned whether SolarCity would be successful in including a go-shop provision in a merger agreement with Tesla that would allow it to continue to solicit bids from other potential buyers for a short period of time.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Representatives for SolarCity and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tesla announced last month that it had made an all-stock offer for SolarCity worth $2.8 billion. It argued that by acquiring SolarCity, the two companies would form a one-stop clean energy shop, offering consumers solar panels, home battery storage and electric cars under a single trusted brand.

SolarCity has not publicly revealed its views on Tesla's offer since it announced on June 27 that it had formed a special committee consisting of two board members to evaluate the offer. The committee said it had retained legal and financial advisers and would review the proposal against SolarCity's standalone prospects and a broad range of strategic alternatives.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

#CleanEnergyMarch Hits Philly on Eve of Democratic National Convention

On Sunday, one day before the Democratic National Convention commences its four-day event at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, thousands of activists will march across the city to demand a ban on fracking, an unconventional drilling method to access natural gas trapped in underground shale deposits.

Fracking has been under fire by environmentalists and public health advocates for causing a host of serious problems, from increased infant mortality and low-birth-weight babies to the release of cancer-causing radioactive gas, contamination of drinking water and earthquakes.

Organized by the groups Americans Against Fracking and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and backed by over 900 organizations across all 50 states, the March for a Clean Energy Revolution is set to start at 1pm on July 24 at Philadelphia's City Hall. The activists will carry hand-painted banners and march down Market Street and will end a mile away at Independence Hall, where large art installations meant to raise awareness about the dangers of fracking will be unveiled to the public. Before the march begins, local and national advocacy leaders will join people whose lives have been affected by fracking for a press conference at City Hall at 11:30am.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Discovery Could Dramatically Boost Efficiency of Perovskite Solar Cells

BERKELEY, CA --(eSolarEnergyNews)-- Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a possible secret to dramatically boosting the efficiency of perovskite solar cells hidden in the nanoscale peaks and valleys of the crystalline material.

Solar cells made from compounds that have the crystal structure of the mineral perovskite have captured scientists’ imaginations. They’re inexpensive and easy to fabricate, like organic solar cells. Even more intriguing, the efficiency at which perovskite solar cells convert photons to electricity has increased more rapidly than any other material to date, starting at three percent in 2009—when researchers first began exploring the material’s photovoltaic capabilities—to 22 percent today. This is in the ballpark of the efficiency of silicon solar cells.

Now, as reported online July 4 in the journal Nature Energy, a team of scientists from the Molecular Foundry and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, both at Berkeley Lab, found a surprising characteristic of a perovskite solar cell that could be exploited for even higher efficiencies, possibly up to 31 percent.

Using photoconductive atomic force microscopy, the scientists mapped two properties on the active layer of the solar cell that relate to its photovoltaic efficiency. The maps revealed a bumpy surface composed of grains about 200 nanometers in length, and each grain has multi-angled facets like the faces of a gemstone.

Unexpectedly, the scientists discovered a huge difference in energy conversion efficiency between facets on individual grains. They found poorly performing facets adjacent to highly efficient facets, with some facets approaching the material’s theoretical energy conversion limit of 31 percent.
The scientists say these top-performing facets could hold the secret to highly efficient solar cells, although more research is needed.

“If the material can be synthesized so that only very efficient facets develop, then we could see a big jump in the efficiency of perovskite solar cells, possibly approaching 31 percent,” says Sibel Leblebici, a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Foundry.

Leblebici works in the lab of Alexander Weber-Bargioni, who is a corresponding author of the paper that describes this research. Ian Sharp, also a corresponding author, is a Berkeley Lab scientist at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. Other Berkeley Lab scientists who contributed include Linn Leppert, Francesca Toma, and Jeff Neaton, the director of the Molecular Foundry.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Solar to Reach Grid Parity by 2020, Study Finds

LONDON, ENGLAND --(eSolarEnergyNews)-- Solar power is finally maturing as a key energy source on the global stage. In addition to green targets, energy independence, and distributed energy, a crucial market accelerator has been the defining of the structure of feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar photovoltaic (PV)-generated power. Along with regulatory dynamics and incentives, this has lowered the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of solar power. With higher economies of scale, the cost of solar power systems for both residential and utility-scale PV will reach grid parity by 2020 and increase uptake of decentralised solar energy. As a result, stakeholders from raw material suppliers, solar cell manufacturers, solar module manufacturers, and balance of system equipment suppliers to system integrators and installers are positioned for robust growth.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Solar Power Market—2016 Update finds that market revenues stood at $113.75 billion in 2015 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% to reach $179.13 billion in 2020. Installed capacity with grow from 50,780 MW to 76,600 MW at a CAGR of 8.6% for the same period.

"Pro-solar incentives and the recently made pledges at the COP 21 summit will ensure that the market for solar PV continues to grow exponentially over the next 5 years," said Frost & Sullivan Energy & Environment Research Analyst Pritil Gunjan. "Grid integration of renewables and investment in energy storage initiatives are other market enablers."

Geographically, Asia will see aggressive expansion of solar PV fuelled by economic growth, urbanisation and greater electrification:

  •  Asia's market share will rise to 64.1% by 2020 with China, India and Japan together accounting for more than 80% of all solar installations planned over the next 5 years. China and Japan will lead with compelling FiT rates and capacity based rebate programs.
  •  North America will witness a robust growth with the extension of investment tax credit eligibility for solar generators until 2019. By 2020, the region will have about 20 million residential prosumers. Fiscal incentives, technological advancements, and new solar leasing models will be strong drivers.
  •  Europe, however, will suffer a setback due to withdrawal of subsidies and incentives. Huge overcapacity, coupled with price decline of solar modules, will see suppliers struggling to make profits.
 Investments in grid infrastructure, especially in remote off grid locations, will energise demand in the emerging markets of Latin America and Africa.

"Extreme weather variations, declining energy reserves, and increase of distributed generation technologies will compel utilities to seek newer models supporting energy efficiency and energy management initiatives," noted Gunjan. "The solar PV supply chain participants are expected to develop new technologies that will lower costs and integrate PVs with flexible infrastructure grids. Innovative business models to integrate solar power will also open opportunities in smart metering, demand response and net metering."

Global Solar Power Market—2016 Update is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan's related studies include: 2016 Global Distributed Energy Outlook, Global Energy Storage Industry Outlook 2016, 2016 Global Outlook of the Critical Power Market, Utilities as a Client, Future of the Smart Grid Industry, 2016 Global Outlook of the Energy & Environment Industry, Annual Global Power Generation Forecasts 2016, Global Demand Response Trends, Global Smart Electricity Meter Market. All studies included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.