David Roberts recently wrote that we will either make radical changes to shape our future, or radical changes beyond our control or ability to avoid will be visited upon us. He is a clear writer and interesting observer of climate issues, you can see his article and other work here:
The only responses that accomplish what we need are rapid installation of clean electricity generation, early retirement of as many fossil fuel consuming equipment, and electrification of as much of the economy as possible. It is incumbent on each of us to analyze how we can lead fulfilling healthy lives while radically reducing our gasoline and overall energy consumption. Your quality of life does not necessarily depend on your energy consumption, and the energy your family does need can be provided with clean renewable resources.
We are resuming our solar educational events beginning with the Jefferson Solar Tour 2021. This will be an outdoor event with an optional indoor presentation. The solar tours have traditionally been regarded as valuable events bringing updated information and the opportunity to speak with homeowners to learn about their first hand experiences with solar.
This will be a free outdoor and indoor optional in-person event at 10 am until 1 pm, starting at the Power Trip Energy building at 83 Denny Avenue in Port Townsend. Starting at 10 am will be a Spin Your Meter Backwards presentation which can be considered Solar 101 with a focus on local regulations, the state of grid-tied solar technology, and incentives. Limited refreshments will be provided, please bring your own cup. Please bike, drive electric, or carpool if you can. One or two additional homes TBD will be available for viewing in Port Townsend.
The Oregon legislature has now enacted a 100% carbon-free electricity standard by 2040, including 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2035.
This fits our simplified strategy of 1) Electrify everything, 2) Make as much clean electricity generation as quickly as possible, 3) Use that electricity as efficiently as possible, 4) decommission all carbon emitting power generation as soon as possible.
As it turns out, the winter storm and historic outages in Texas have been predicted and warned against for decades. However there has been little regulatory requirement for utilities, generators, or grid operators to take action. Texas Was Warned a Decade Ago Its Grid Was Unready for Cold (yahoo.com)
I found this discussion on The Energy Gang podcast regarding the Texas outages to be enlightening. Of note this was Jigar Shah’s second to last appearance on The Energy Gang; he was hired by the Dept of Energy Loan Office, which is very good news for renewable energy companies trying to bridge the gap and scale their innovations up to market. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-03/jigar-shah-to-run-u-s-energy-office-that-backed-tesla-solyndra
Regarding the Texas grid failure, and its much less regulated grid, we will be learning much over the coming months, and it will be interested to see how those monthly electric bills work out for people. You can anticipate there will be plenty of greed and corruption on public display.
Our vision is to avoid the worst of what we saw in Texas by promoting clean renewable and distributed energy generation. The more grid-tied arrays are at the point of use, the better off everyone will be, not only the owners of those arrays saving money on their bills. Ultimately the entire grid will become more stabile and less reliant on centralized energy sources and those that control them.
5 KW Sunpower array in Chimacum on Jefferson PUD Grid, July 2020
Lithium battery production have been on a strong growth curve for many years and is poised for ten-fold increase development in the near term with support of the current administration and significant venture capital investments across the industry.
According to Gene Berdichevsky, CEO of Sila Nano, and formerly Tesla employee #7, there is currently about 285 GWh of annual production capacity for lithium batteries. He states there is an additional 2000 GWh of production capacity under development that will be complete within the next 5 years. Gene was recently interviewed by Shayle Kann on The Interchange. Sila Nano is itself building a plant that will provide anode materials for up to 100 GWh of lithium batteries annually targeted for the EV market, and sufficient for about one million vehicles per year. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2021/01/26/sila-nano-hauls-in-590-million-to-make-materials-for-better-electric-car-batteries/
While we recognize there are issues with the procurement of lithium and other materials, there are groups addressing the issues currently, and it appears that the use of electric motors and lithium batteries is currently the best practice for all ground transportation, be it personal vehicles, freight, or rail.
Here at Power Trip and for all of us in Washington State, we are installing batteries, though there is still no economic impetus for batteries in conjunction with your solar array. While the percentage of our clients that initially state they want batteries is increasing, after we conduct an analysis of their energy needs, we usually determine the most sensible path is to install as much solar as possible up to the amount of energy you use, make certain you are using an electric vehicle as much as possible rather than buying and burning gasoline, and make other improvements in energy efficiency and emergency preparedness prior to considering a lithium battery installation.
We are happy to be able to offer a $500 from Sunpower on projects ordered by March 31, 2021. Rebate will come after project completion in the form of a pre-paid VISA card from Sunpower.
3/17/2021 Note – Some details: Available on New Sunpower Equinox AC systems, minimum size 2.8 KW.
The Texas Grid Experiences a Massive Failure – and Becomes Used By Those Trying To Tarnish Renewable Energy
The Texas grid has lost about 35 MW of production capacity during a severe winter storm, and this has caused cascading outages for millions of people across service territories. Texas is the largest energy producing state in the country. This article from GTM lists some of the reasons and some of the history since the last severe storms and outages there 10 years ago. I find GTM’s writing fact based and the right level of sophistication for my understanding and the time I have for issues in other areas.
I send sympathy to people suffering the hardest, and I understand many people have perished.
I have also seen the fossil fuel industry and their spokespeople using this event as an opportunity to tarnish wind and solar energy generation. While natural gas, coal, and nuclear plant shut-downs have been responsible for twice as much of the outage as wind and solar plants coming off-line, some have still claimed this is an example of why we should not build more renewable energy plants. It turns out not to be true.
We should pursue both utility scale and distributed generation of renewable energy sources, which will provide more reliability in the long run, and will reduce our contribution to greenhouse gasses and anthropogenic climate change, which appears to be contributing to greater and more unpredictable weather events, often in areas not accustomed to them, like Texas.
As we begin our 19th year, we want to continue to support solar here on the Peninsula through this special offer.
As part of the $900 Billion COVID Relief Bill that was passed and signed at the end of December, the item that will most immediately affect our clients this year is the extension of the 26% ITC (Investment Tax Credit.) It has been slated to decrease to 22% this year and expire next year, however we now have the 26% for this year and 2022, then 22% for 2023, then expiration.
SO – if you have been considering solar for your roof, there has never been a better time than right now!
There were other clean energy related aspects of the bill, and several policies that solar advocates have been working for that still need to be worked towards with the next administration. Green Tech Media provides a nice summary here https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-renewable-energy-and-energy-storage-did-and-didnt-get-from-congress-this-week
We are looking forward to a very positive, very sunny year, and working hard every day to install as much local clean solar for our clients as possible. Happy New Year to all.