EnergySage Expands Its Online Solar Marketplace

Partially kickstarted by an incubator fund from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, online solar marketplace pioneer EnergySage recently secured $1.5 million in private funding, on the heels of a fiscal year that tripled its revenue and registrations. Not bad for a renewable energy upstart.

The new round of seed funding, which brings the Boston-based comparison shopper’s overall haul to $4 million, comes from Launchpad Venture Group, which adds its Gail Greenwald to EnergySage’s board of directors. That should be enough to expand its online solar marketplace beyond the 30 states in which it now has a footprint by the end of this year.


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The State of UK Solar

Is the U.K.’s solar market heating up? You bet your Union, Jack.

At least, for now.

Strong public support for solar is lighting up Britain. Even its conservative MPs are on board, despite the fact that Britain’s increasingly right-wing government scrapped all renewable obligation support for solar farms over 5 megawatts on April 1, according to the U.K.’s Solar Power Portal. The Portal also noted that the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has since 2012 routinely and comprehensively tracked public opinion on solar, and nearly always found that about 80 percent of its constituents are in favor of it. “The latest wave shows that 81% of Brits support the rollout of solar,” it added.

You can add those obvious numbers to a new report from Colorado’s IHS Inc., which spotted an “unprecedented solar boom” in the U.K., thanks to 110 PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.6 gigawatts that were completed in the first quarter of 2015 alone. Sure, they were hurriedly built before the government’s aforementioned renewable obligation support program expired; “in fact, some of these projects received their permits as late as early February of this year,” explained IHS senior analyst Josefin Berg.

But despite the government’s purported disdain for renewable energy, Berg does not expect the solar market in Britain to cool off, and chances are that overwhelming public support won’t let it. Thanks to its desperate flurry, the U.K. installed more solar capacity than any other European nation last year.


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California’s Ambitious Clean Energy Goals

The Golden State is setting renewable energy’s gold standard: California governor Jerry Brown’s clean energy goals will create billions in savings and slash millions in carbon dioxide emissions.

That’s the major takeaway from Berkeley-based Strategen Consulting’s exhaustive report Impact Analysis: Governor Brown’s 2030 Energy Goals (PDF) — although one doesn’t really need consultants to arrive at the bigger picture. Right now, California’s largest export happens to be airplanes, while its richest corporation, by exports, is the mammoth oil company Chevron. So it’s little surprise that throwing major political and legislative support at the cleantech industry will dramatically reverse those fossilized fortunes, and downsize California’s prodigious emissions, while creating an international standard that any country can follow.

This is not to say that Strategen’s hard numbers, for what they are worth, are not welcome.


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Deutsche Bank: Solar is a Boom with No Bust

Solar is too big to fail, said Deustche Bank. Sooner than later, it will likely take over electricity markets worldwide.

Four years ago, markets once “heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation” enjoyed a 7:1 advantage over solar, explained Deutsche Bank’s exhaustive report Crossing the Chasm: Solar Grid Parity in a Low Oil Price Era (PDF). With the concurrent cratering of oil prices and solar costs, that ratio could approach 1:1 within two years. Crossing the Chasm predicts solar costs will shave off another 40 percent by 2017, thanks to the much more sensible financing of PV deployment and pooling of assets in yieldcos — like, say, the one between First Solar and SunPower, which Deustche Bank analyst Vishal Shah called “the best strategy” for both companies.


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Back to Solar Class, MIT

Oil is over, solar is now, says MIT. Throw money and policy at it, but lose the net metering.

That’s the street translation of the policy pathways recommended by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s quite long The Future of Solar report (PDF). With its stated objective a recalibration of U.S. government policy, MIT’s multidisciplinary analysis found that the U.S. needs to massively accelerate the solarization of its generation capacity — by about 2,000 percent, if possible.


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Tesla’s Powerwall: Helping Solar Achieve Escape Velocity

As April expired, Elon Musk set off shockwaves with the announcement of Tesla Energy. They have yet to subside, and likely never will, as long as utilities are still powered by globally warming fossil fuels.

“The response has been overwhelming, OK? Like, crazy,” Musk explained in Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call in early May, which, although it was anchored by welcome electric-vehicle news, was nevertheless dominated by questions about Tesla Energy’s game-changing Powerwall and Powerpack solar storage line.

“In the course of, like, less than a week, we’ve had 38,000 reservations for the Powerwall and 2,500 reservations for the Powerpack, [which] it should be noted, is typically bought by utilities or large companies for heavy industrial work,” Musk said. “There’s no way that we could possibly satisfy this demand this year; we’re basically sold out through the middle of next year, in the first week. It was just crazy.”

“We had 2,500 requests from companies that want to distribute and install the Powerwall and Powerpack; we can’t even respond to them,” Musk added. “We have to triage our response to those who want to be a distributor. So it’s, like, crazy off-the-hook, and it seems to have gone super viral.”


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Shared Solar Could Make the Boom Bigger

It’s a wonder that shared solar took so long to trend, since not everyone can have a solar farm on the roof or yard. But better late than never, if you read the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s latest report, which crunched the numbers and found that shared solar could become anywhere from 30-50 percent of the distributed PV market by 2020. That’s the year that, equalling $8-16 billion in investment, shared solar could also spark deployment growth of 5-11 gigawatts, starting, well, right now.

The only thing standing in the way is business as usual.


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How Solar-Powered Disaster Recovery is Helping in Nepal

Nepal’s devastating earthquake has shone a light on survival essentials for surviving climate change’s increasing, unannounced attacks. And what it has found is that they are becoming more solarized.

For its part, the United Nations refugee agency‘s airlifted essentials included 4,000 solar lanterns from eastern Nepal. Dubai is adding 4,000 solar lamps, via cargo plane, and all of them will provide much-needed light, warmth, and critical communication, charging cell phones and computers as the catastrophe unfolds. Indeed, forward-thinking outfits like Empower Generation were already onsite addressing Nepal’s power picture, before the earthquake jolted the nation into a new global warming normal.


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Obama Administration Recruits Vets for Solar

Can anyone think of a better place for armed forces veterans to land than the explosive solar sector?

President Obama probably doesn’t think so. In early April, Obama announced an expansion of U.S. government efforts to train 75,000 Solar Ready Vets for the PV industry — which, it never gets boring to say, is adding jobs to the American economy at 10 times the national average. The President and Senate Democrats are lobbying for Congress to give the Department of Energy enough funding to double military solar training from 10 to 20 military bases, and counting.


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Back to Solar Class, Stanford

The scorching solar industry needs a shock doctrine to stabilize its forthcoming deflation, once the Obama administration’s Investment Tax Credit is repealed. Stanford has the sloppy manual.

“Instead of falling off a cliff, the industry would instead have to weather a series of smaller shocks as it works through a critical developmental phase,” explained Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Stefan Reichelstein’s new study, co-authored with research associate Stephen Comello, offering an three-stage alternative to solar’s suicide dive. “The researchers’ findings suggest that the industry should be able sustain its momentum through those smaller shocks, leaving it poised to achieve true cost competitiveness by 2025.”

Of course, like all economic shock doctrines — deregulation, austerity, ad nauseam — this medicine would be better if it wasn’t delivered at all.


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