Game changer is usually a term that is usually overused by entrepreneurs seeking a lot of your hard-earned money. But the shocking truth is that yes, the new battery announced by Tesla is potentially, in the words of our esteemed vice-president, a big f—king deal. Game changer may indeed be an understatement if the potential of the Powerwall is realized. Elon Musk doesn’t do things small. The Powerwall’s price is about $3,000 for a 7 kilowatt hour model to $3,500 for a 10 killowatt hour model. I have seen some estimates that this may add up to about 30 cents per kwh to get electricity from the Powerwall—compared to what you might pay about 12 -15 cents per kwh around Washington DC (some places like Hawaii is a lot more and would be ideal for the Powerwall). As the cost comes down even further as the technology improves, would you consider ditching your utility completely? Stay tuned for Musk’s next announcement.
Join the momentum that is building against the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger right when we need it most. DC residents and business leaders turned out to set the record straight on why the merger would be a bad deal for the District. On Tuesday, more than 100 Maryland residents appeared at a Montgomery County hearing, demonstrating overwhelming opposition to the proposed merger.
But it’s not over yet, and the battle is far from won.
Just like you, the solar panels on top of your roof are not as productive at high temperatures! Most people think that with the more direct sunlight the more energy the panels will produce, but then don’t worry about the accompanying high temperature. Cooling solar cells can often be a pretty expensive and time consuming process with previous solutions including the use of chemicals or gallons of water. Solar panels could actually be more efficient if they did not “overheat” as often. The problem is how to do this in a gentle and inexpensive way. Researchers at Stanford University have recently unveiled new coating made out of silica glass that will allow the solar cells to cool themselves, but still receive the same amount of sunlight and produce the same amount of energy. A silica, pyramid patterned coating was seen to work the best by being transparent to visible light and easily able to redirect thermal rays back into the atmosphere.
Guest blog from DC Sun. As you have probably heard, Exelon has plans to take control of Pepco, our local electricity utility. This deal would make Exelon the biggest power distributor in America. And they’re not interested in working with local stakeholders to bring more solar to the District. (Exelon has a history of undermining local stakeholders and opposing renewables.) As frustrating as Pepco can be, Exelon would be even worse.
Are you still suffering withdrawal after the exhilaration of the final game of the 2014 World Cup? It is now less than four years before the World Cup reconvenes in Russia. Russia is already preparing for the next World Cup and trying to match the renewable energy commitment that Brazil devoted to the 2014 World Cup. Germany will defend its title as Russia prepares eleven cities to host the World Cup in 2018 and if the Winter Olympics is any clue, the Russians will not spare any expense to impress the world. Since FIFA makes sustainability a priority, Russia will toe the party line and develop the sites for the next World Cup with sustainability in mind. FIFA looks to advance its role as the topic of sustainability encourages city officials to revisit financial plans due to future savings in energy costs. In 2010 the organization added for the first time a renewable energy company to its list of sponsors and has since been outspoken in favor of those countries who invest in their future energy sources.
Money talks and the Koch Brothers are the most loquacious of the anti-solar movement. They have crafted a well-orchestrated movement under the aegis of the innocuous sounding name of Americans for Prosperity to derail the solar and renewable energy movement in states throughout the country. We don’t know if the Koch brothers are behind every legislative initiative to scale back solar energy, but certainly their robust wallet bankrolls the most vocal of these efforts to limit solar energy’s encroachment on fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is now becoming a staple in the energy basket in the United States. But solar energy’s success now breeds these attacks from the fossil fuel industry and well-moneyed conservatives. This void is national policy left the states to craft their own energy policy and over forty states enacted renewable energy standards. But without a national policy, each of these states is a potential battleground vulnerable to attacks bankrolled by the Koch Brothers. We are now seeing the effect of no national policy on energy, and we can expect that with the recent successes in Oklahoma and Ohio, that these attacks will be expanded to other states.
The two major impediments to homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs are financing and aesthetics. We have talked with a lot of homeowners and the discussion always seems to revolve around these two issues. A homeowner has applied to install a system on a sloping roof from which the solar panels would be partially visible from the street. The historic preservation board voted down the plan to install the panels on the 1906 home. Much education has to be done on both sides and with increased understanding, solar designs can blossom in historic districts.
I know that you may have a heck of a time trying to give up with the jargon, and your Latin may be rusty since high school. One thing if for sure: the solar industry is hoping for a minor miracle that the cash grant program will be extended. The solar energy industry is still dependent on government incentives and the cash grant is the most effective of all of government support for the solar industry. The naysayers will roll their eyes: “Handouts are for losers,” they grumble. Tell that to every other energy industry that have received generous support over the years.
The loud sucking noise you hear is the sound of solar manufacturing going overseas. If it were not clear before this month, it is now abundantly evident that manufacturing of solar panels that you may want to put on your home in the United States are not going to come from the US anymore. The trend of manufacturing of solar panels in China is only accelerating as the news in the past few weeks has shown. The evidence is plastered on every news release—we surrender and are leaving town fast. BP Solar hammered shut its operations in Maryland. Evergreen Solar filed for bankruptcy. And now Solon is closing its US plant. Solar panels are not like nails or screws, but more akin to refrigerators or dish washers—consumers pay more for quality and features. We still hold that view and will advise our customers to shop wisely and look at various criteria to rate solar modules, and of course one of those is cost, but that should not be the end all. The market, as shown by the flight of solar manufacturing, is going elsewhere. Thinning margins means a commodity market and the Chinese are willing to tough it out in the long to capture the lion’s share of the business. The future for manufacturing of solar panels in the United States is bleak.
Starting this week, SolarTown will offer a discount solar panel of the week. Every week on Monday, we will post a solar panel that offers great savings. This year, our distributors and vendors have been offering huge savings on solar modules as prices have continued to fall. And they offer to SolarTown discounts, which we are able to pass on to our customers. Some of our customers are most interested in the least expensive solar module that they can purchase. For those installers and contractors who are ready to purchase immediately, the discount solar module of the week will allow them to take advantage of deep discounts that are available while supplies last.