Tag Archives: Pv Panels

Amazon Joins Walmart in Blaming Tesla Solar Panels for Fires

By Dana Hull and Matt Day, Bloomberg

Walmart Inc. isn’t the only corporation that has seen its Tesla Inc. solar panels catch fire.

On Friday, Amazon.com Inc. said a June 2018 blaze on the roof of one of its warehouses in Redlands, California, involved a solar system that Tesla’s SolarCity division installed. The Seattle-based retail giant said by email that it has since taken steps to protect its facilities and has no plans to install more Tesla systems.

Tesla also said in a statement it worked with Amazon following the “isolated event” last year that occurred in an inverter at one of the sites. “Tesla worked collaboratively with Amazon to root cause the event and remediate,” it said. “We also performed inspections at the other sites, which confirmed the integrity of the systems,” adding that all 11 Amazon sites are generating energy and are monitored and maintained.

News of the Amazon fire comes days after Walmart sued Tesla, accusing it of shoddy panel installations that led to fires at more than a half-dozen stores. The claims threaten to further erode Tesla’s solar business as the company is fighting to gain back market share.

Read full article from Bloomberg

Related Article: Amazon Echoes Walmart’s Claims That Tesla Solar Panels Sparked Rooftop Fire (Gizmodo) – Aug. 24, 2019

Opinion: Panels just tip of the solar waste iceberg

By Lyndon Griffin, Morrison County Record

The Dec. 11, 2018, Morrison County Board meeting produced very interesting discussion concerning one agenda item. Board members were focused on solar farm deconstruction (decommissioning) costs at the end of a 30-year land lease. Proposed financial protection was centered on a $50,000 bond for the first 15 years, followed by a $300,000 bond for the final 15 years.

Thus, the solar farm company had committed to bond premium costs, backed by future assets. Then the Board wisely requested a $300,000 cash escrow fund instead. Amazingly, the solar farm representative immediately agreed to the cash in advance. Many in attendance were stunned.

This is the tip of a solar industry iceberg. Let’s examine what lies beneath.

Solar panel surfaces are large because sunlight is both dilute and diffuse, requiring large solar collectors. So disposing of the panels is a big project. While panels can be projected to have a 30-year life, many have shorter life spans due to rain, hail, severe storms, environmental regulation or shortened land lease renegotiation. Whatever the timeline, the panels must be properly disposed of.

Solar energy may be termed “clean” energy, but the solar panels themselves are not. Approximately 90 percent of most modules are made of glass, which often cannot be recycled due to impurities. These impurities include plastics, lead, cadmium and antimony. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates we now have 250,000 metric tons of solar panel waste in the world, with 78 million tons projected in 30 years.

Sadly, this waste is destined for landfills. The Electric Power Research Institute does not recommend solar panels be sent to landfills as the toxic material may leach into the soil. So do other alternatives reasonably exist?

Read full column in the Morrison County Record

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Opinion: The Phony Numbers Behind California’s Solar Mandate

By Steve Sexton, The Wall Street Journal

California’s energy regulators effectively cooked the books to justify their recent command that all homes built in the Golden State after 2020 be equipped with solar panels. Far from a boon to homeowners, the costs to builders and home buyers will likely far exceed the benefits to the state.

The California Energy Commission, which approved the rule as part of new energy-efficiency regulations, didn’t conduct an objective, independent investigation of the policy’s effects. Instead it relied on economic analysis from the consultancy that proposed the policy, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. Its study concluded that home buyers get a 100% investment return—paying $40 more in monthly mortgage costs but saving $80 a month on electricity. If it’s such a good deal, why aren’t home buyers clamoring for more panels already? Most new homes aren’t built with solar panels today, even though the state is saturated by solar marketing.

The Energy Commission is too optimistic about the cost of panels. It assumes the cost was $2.93 a watt in 2016 and will decline 17% by 2020. Yet comprehensive analysis of panel costs by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated the average cost of installed panels to be $4.50 a watt for the 2- to 4-kilowatt systems the policy mandates. That is $4,000 more than regulators claim for a 2.6-kilowatt model system in the central part of the state, where 20% of new homes are expected to be built. Berkeley Lab further estimates that costs fell a mere 1% between 2015 and 2016, far short of the 4% average annual decline the regulators predict.

Now consider the alleged savings on energy bills. The commission’s analysis assumes California will maintain its net energy-metering policy, which effectively subsidizes electricity produced by a rooftop solar panel…

Read full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal

 

California rancherias look to microgrids for power during natural disasters

By Edward Ortiz, The Sacramento Bee

As the deadly Butte fire ravaged the foothills of Amador and Calaveras counties last month, rooms at the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort were transformed from guest rooms to cot-filled dormitories to accommodate hundreds of people evacuated from nearby communities. The fire scorched 71,000 acres, felling scores of power lines in its path.

Many homes and businesses went dark as firefighters battled to get the flames under control. But the lights stayed on and power kept flowing at the rancheria’s hotel and casino because of a specialized network of generators and electrical equipment that gave the rancheria temporary energy independence from the regional power grid operated by Pacific Gas and Electric.

The Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, the tribe that runs the casino, is among a handful of California tribes experimenting with power setups known as microgrids. Essentially, these are small-scale energy distribution networks that allow owners to disconnect from the regional power grid and generate their own electricity. Microgrids have been around for years, often installed as a backup power option for military bases and universities. The concept is fairly new on tribal lands, but drawing interest because many California rancherias are in rural areas prone to fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Read full article in the Sacramento Bee

Forget Desert Solar Farms: We Can Get More Than Enough Solar Energy From Cities

By Adele Peters, Fast Co.Exist

Solar plants keep getting bigger: The new Topaz Solar Farm, in a remote part of southern California, sprawls over an area about a third of the size of Manhattan. In February, another solar farm of roughly the same size—with 9 million solar panels—opened in the Mojave Desert. Later this year, an even larger project will open in Antelope Valley.

Together, the three new projects will provide enough power for over half a million homes. But there’s a downside: They’re all in former open spaces that once provided habitat for wildlife, and because they’re in remote areas, some of the energy they produce gets lost along the way to consumers.

A new study in Nature Climate Change says that plants like these actually aren’t necessary: We can get more than enough solar power by building in cities instead. The study looks at California, because the state is aggressively increasing renewable energy, and finds that by using land that’s already developed, like rooftops and parking lots, solar power could provide the state with three to five times as much energy as it uses.

The study maps out developed areas that are best suited for either photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar power (CSP); California has an area about the size of Massachusetts that is well-suited for PV panels, and an area about the size of Delaware that is a good match for CSP. If these spaces were fully plastered with solar tech, they could provide over 20,000 terawatt-hours of power every year.

Read full article from Fast Company