The first week of the year means the prognosticators are prognosticating and with a new Administration about to take over the White House many are worried that President-Elect Donald Trump (R) could cut use of renewables. Meanwhile, Tesla’s first Gigafactory is now producing batteries, fulfilling a promise Elon Musk had made about reaching production milestones.
Some states have taken the unusual step of sending Trump a letter urging him not to cut funding for renewables and to support Obama’s Clean Power Plan. In all, 19 states and municipalities across the US have signed the letter to Trump. The signatories say that already their work reducing emissions has had positive results for their economies, including generating $1.6 billion for local economies and creating 16,000 jobs.
Still, at least one industry insider argued that Trump’s policies could actually invigorate the solar industry in some additional ways. Trump's deregulatory stances, argued Michigan Tech Professor Joshua Pearce, could actually help the solar industry and unlock a whole new sector in the industry generating $70 billion more for the industry.
Looking into 2017, experts are anticipating another record year for solar power. They expect commercial and utility market growth and net-metering 2.0. Net-metering 2.0, as it’s being called, is occurring as the original net-metering policies offered by utilities become fully subscribed as some utilities are seeing in places like California.
However, some others note that the industry will still face issues in 2017. Raymond James Analyst Pavel Molchanov, for example, notes that the investing landscape for solar power and clean tech will remain complex in 2017. One of the main issues for solar power is the steep drop in module prices seen over the past year. That’s made it harder for solar manufacturers to make money and also for people to invest in them. He anticipated that in 2017 price drops would continue but more moderately, bringing some stability back.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is calling for utilities and electric grid operators to continue evolving the grid to meet the energy needs of people in the 21st century. It called for utilities to integrate more renewable energy reforms and fully account for the value of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, Tesla and Panasonic began manufacturing batteries at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada. In doing so it met a deadline imposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk to start production at the factory by the end of 2016. The batteries they are producing there will be used in Tesla’s energy storage systems for homes and businesses as well as in its vehicles.
Perhaps the most instersting, and crazy piece of solar news last week might be the most life-saving. Swiss researchers are investigating using solar to power pacemakers. They would implant the solar panels under the skin to power the implants, which would eliminate the need to charge or change batteries in the devices.Tweet