Monthly solar industry analysis and news.
Headlines this Month (June 2016)
||Tesla Powerwall coming to Canada
||Sungevity offers free EV charging now with Solar Installs
||Tesla’s Owner Elon Musk offers to buy Solar City to integrate vertically
||Three Amigos: US, Canada and Mexico pledge 50% of power from clean energy by 2025
||Canada’s largest commercial rooftop solar system unveiled
||A Time of Breaking Records
“We’re living in a time of records. More renewable energy came on stream in 2015 than ever — 147 gigawatts, equal to Africa’s entire generating capacity — and investment in the sector broke records worldwide. Costs for producing solar and wind power have hit record lows. Portugal obtained all its electricity from renewable sources for four straight days in May — the longest achieved by any country — and Germany was able to meet 90 per cent of its electricity needs with renewable power for a brief period. Clean energy employment and job growth now outpace the fossil fuel industry by a wide margin.”
“But are the good records enough to help us deal with the bad? Global average temperatures are hitting record highs every recent month and year, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are rising to levels unheard of in human history.”
— David Suzuki writing at The Nelson Daily
David Hughes, a key adviser to the Alberta government, has produced a study showing that if Alberta grows within its capacity we will not meet our climate goals. Surprisingly, even growing by 45% we will not need new pipelines, noting the existing infrastructure is not at full capacity. Those climate goals were announced by the government last year and had assumed the current growth up to 45% from today. Alberta currently has 18 coal plants, of which 12 will be shut down by 2030 anyway.
The government is promising a new incentive for Jan 1, 2017 for residential solar, Provincial Environment Minister Shannon Phillips reports. No details were announced.
Home Batteries are Coming!
Tesla’s Powerwall is going to be available in Canada. These 6.4 kWh systems will be much more expensive than advertised in the States. No clarity on regulations (fire, building codes, etc…) yet.
Sungevity, in California, is now including a free EV charging station when residents install solar panels. This bundling of green technologies is an obvious fit and we’ll see more like this in the future.
ENMAX announces Canada’s largest solar project in Alberta’s city of Leduc. The 1.14 MW system at the Recreation Centre will have 3,622 panels, reducing costs by $90,000 annually.
Calgary had 17 sunny and clear days out of 30 for June.
How this Affects Alberta Solar Owners
Powerwalls, if they pass regulatory approvals, and despite the $6000 price tag, offer the ability to store power. An exciting prospect for sure. The amount of interest and calls we receive daily regarding the Powerwall clearly indicate that Albertans are ready for a battery storage option. It also shows the value of Tesla’s marketing prowess and slick packaging in an age looking for the next big thing.
The ability to store day-generated power for use in the evening is one of the most common claims that people cite that is a condition before investing in solar. As well, battery manufacturers cite this ability to “Time Shift” usage patterns using cheap daytime power in the evening when rates are higher.
However, here in Alberta, there is no time-of-day billing – that is, the power you purchase from the grid is the same price in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. Therefore, for Albertans, the Powerwall’s main purpose will be simply as a backup power source during an outage. Until true time of day billing comes to pass the value proposition of time shifting loads and the associated savings will be minimal to none. Currently the Powerwall battery cost saving opportunity is limited to the avoidance of transmission and distribution costs associated with the purchase of a utility kWh. Basically a solar kWh produced earlier in the day could be stored and used to avoid purchasing a utility kWh during non-solar producing times thereby avoiding the T&D costs for the utility kWh. Since residential users are currently compensated for excess solar generation via their microgeneration agreement the value of storage savings does not compete with simply selling the excess production. Simply put, the small savings of not selling your excess power back to the grid will never pay for the $6000 price tag even over 20 years.
Suffice to say it is very possible things will change over time to support storage (batteries could become far cheaper, time-of-day billing is implemented, the cost of selling excess falls behind the cost to buy) but for now here in Alberta you effectively would be buying a Powerwall for back-up power during an outage and not for savings.
One caution: the 7.5 kW system is likely only able to provide a third of an average home’s 30 kW daily need, so even in a back-up situation, its use would need to be coupled with a better power awareness.
How this Affects Market Entrants – market entrants like other solar providers or new solar customers?
While solar panels have traditionally come first, and some have waited for the panels+battery combination, it is possible that the batteries by themselves are used and in doing so allow people to become more aware of their energy use and that may eventually lead to a localize solar source for the initial power. The introductions of the battery are only a good thing.
What We’re Watching For
The new incentive Jan 1st , 2017 announced by Shannon Phillips is expected to be production based or on the “backend” (as opposed to a financial aid to assist on installation costs). We anticipate that this incentive will come in the form of a higher per kWh compensation for excess generation and be part of the updated Microgen regulation.
Infographic of the Month
Alberta could become a desert. Spoiler alert: solar is set to boom!