SolarReviews Weekly Review: Records set, States Take Action

SolarReviews Weekly Review: Records set, States Take Action

by on in Photovoltaic Technology, Solar Cells, Solar Energy, Solar Licensing, Solar Rebates

Last week in the world of solar power records were set as states continued to debate the future of solar power—with some taking positive actions while others took more draconian actions. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Elon Musk took to Twitter tantalizing that the company will start taking orders on its highly anticipated solar rooftop tile system as soon as April.

Musk is known as a disruptor. That’s what he’s done with the electric vehicle industry, PayPal and SolarCity. Now he’s set to disrupt the solar industry even more. Last October he introduced unique photovoltaic roofing tiles that can blend in invisibly with the rest of a home’s roofing. However, at the time he said the first such products wouldn’t come to market until late 2017. Last week he teased that the company will start taking orders for the new rooftop tiles in April. Project Sunroof's biggest potential solar cities. Courtesy Project Sunroof

Talking of solar power technology, Japan's Kaneka pubished research on its record-breaking silicon photovoltaic cells. The company has produced commercial-sized silicon solar cells that are 26.3 percent efficient, nearly a full percent more efficient than the prior record and putting them closer to the 29.1 percent theoretical efficiency limit for solar cells.

At the state level Nevada State Senator Mo Denis (D) introduced a bill that would create a community solar pilot program for the state. The bill would also include a carve-out for low-income residents in the state to help them benefit from lower energy costs promised by solar power. 

In Massachusetts the state’s department of Department of Energy Resources (DOER) agreed to extend the current rebate scheme, the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC 2), before the SMART program can take effect. The move was hailed by solar power advocates. However, they remain concerned about the net-metering caps in the state, which some utilities have already met. 

The NY Green Bank in New York is looking to fund microgrid projects. Last week it announced that it was awarding a total of $11 million to 11 microgrid projects to aid in their design and implementation. It’s the second stage for the competition. In a third state it will invest up to $50 million per project to help them reach completion.

It’s not all good for the solar industry and the states however, in Missouri a bill to increase fees on rooftop solar installations up to 75 percent was introduced. The bill is opposed by solar advocates.

Last week Google also updated its Project Sunroof and announced a list of top 10 cities that could add in the most solar power. It found that Houston could produce 18,940 gigawatt-hours of electricity via its untapped rooftops. The project also found that other cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and New York could vastly expand the amount of solar power their rooftops produce. 

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