Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications.

Tesla in 2019 – As the company rockets towards uncharted waters it’s very difficult to predict what Tesla will do in 2019. 

Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications?

Tesla in 2019 - Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)
Tesla in 2019 – Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)

Electrek are reporting that Tesla announced they are unveiling the Model Y solar car on March 14 – an ‘all-electric crossover based on the Model 3’. It’ll be announced in Los Angeles at Tesla Design Studio in Hawthrone, California. 

A shareholder’s letter released last month for Q4 2018 notes that ‘volume production’ of the Model Y should commence by the end of next year (and it’ll probably be done at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada).

“Additionally, this year we will start tooling for Model Y to achieve volume production by the end of 2020, most likely at Gigafactory 1.”

Tesla confirmed their plans for Model Y production at Gigafactory 3 in China at a ground-breaking ceremony back in February.

Although the Tesla electric cars aren’t necessarily to do with solar power per se, Tesla’s impending success or lack thereof relies fairly heavily on these devices. CEO Elon Musk needs the electric cars to succeed to ensure the company has enough money to work on its myriad other projects. They have a lot of competition from other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi who will likely announce their electric automobiles this month.

Some concerns are the Model Y totally cannibalising the Model 3 sales – with the $35,000 Model 3 and the Model X now only available online to lower costs for the financially embattled company. Their shares fell almost 10% last Friday amidst the slew of announcements. 

With regards to solar, Tesla’s main projects are the Powerwall 2, the Tesla solar roof, the commercial scale solar battery storage Tesla Powerpack 2, and potentially the announcement of a Tesla Powerwall 3 release date. To be frank it’s a bit concerning to see all the blood in the water around Tesla right now – let’s cross our fingers for some great results in 2019 for the company. 

 

 

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Solar in Space – China’s Plans Revealed.

Chinese media are reporting that solar in space may not be as far off as we think – they’re revealed plans to build a power station orbiting the earth. Let’s take a look at the plans and see what other countries are also working on renewable energy in the solar system. 

Solar in Space – How does it work?

Solar in Space - Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)
Solar in Space – Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)

Chinese Media have made a statement about the solar space race – their idea is that a station could orbit the earth at 36,000 kilometres – enough to get the sun’s energy but not experience any atmosphere interference. Seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight will also be totally negated, so the station would be able to generate significantly more power than those on earth which are subject to the sun’s whims.

Chinese journal Science and Technology Daily has reported that the city of Chongqing is the host of construction of an early experimental space solar plant. 

Pang Zhihao, researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The space solar station would be able to supply energy at 6x the power of solar farms on earth – reliably supplying energy “99%” of the time. 

The next plan for China is to build and launch a number of small/medium sized solar power stations which will be launched into the stratosphere between 2021 – 2025. 

According to the SMH Japanese, Indian and European scientists are also working on the best way to generate solar power in space. What impact could this unlimited power have on things like the Mars Rover which was ‘pronounced dead‘ over the last week? According to the researches, the energy would be converted to electricity and send to the earth via a microwave or laser beam – so they’ll need to work on ensuring this won’t have any bad effects on atmosphere or the earth in general before it goes ahead. 

 
 

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Solar Panel Degradation | New Software

Solar panel degradation is a big issue, and one of the problems with it is that it can be a bit nebulous to measure, especially if you’re off-site. An Indian university may have some answers with regards to measuring this in a cost and time effective method.

Solar Panel Degradation | Alternatives to on-site inspection.

Parveen Bhola is a research scholar at India’s Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. Alongside Saurabh Bhardwaj, an associate professor at Thapar, the pair have developed and optimised statistical and machine learning-based alternatives to enable real-time on or off-site inspection of solar panels to measure the solar panel degradation. This is achieved throughout the usage of clustering-based computation – utilising historical meteorological data to compete performance ratios and solar panel degradation. Factors such as temperature, pressure, wind speed, solar power created, sunshine hours, humidity and historical performance are all utilised to come up with a measurement of the panels’ effectiveness. 

“The majority of the techniques available calculate the degradation of PV (photovoltaic) systems by physical inspection on site. This process is time-consuming, costly, and cannot be used for the real-time analysis of degradation,” Bhola said in a quote posted on TechXplore. “The proposed model estimates the degradation in terms of performance ratio in real time.”

As solar panel technology increases, it’s important that our tools for troubleshooting and optimising their output be improved commensurately; this is a great step for all solar system holders, but especially those in rural areas where having someone come on site is cost and time prohibitive. With this new technique it’s likely that troubleshooting will be more efficient and perhaps even point out problems before they occur. 

Solar Panel Degradation - Thapar Insitute of Engineering and Technology
Solar Panel Degradation – Thapar Insitute of Engineering and Technology (source: Thapar.edu)

The article, “Clustering-based computation of degradation rate for photovoltaic systems,” can be found in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018 (DOI: 10.1063/1.5042688). You can also find it online: https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.5042688.

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True Value Solar to shut down in Australia

True Value Solar, a German owned solar installation company in Australia, will shut down over the coming months as it struggles to compete in the local marketplace.

True Value Solar Shutdown

True Value Solar
True Value Solar

True Value Solar was once Australia’s biggest solar installation company, so this comes as a bit of a shame. With that said, their heavy discounting and price-focused product range led to its own issues as well. The company has 3.2 stars on ProductReview and has been sinking rapidly as the solar race to the bottom continues – as the old saying goes, good price, quality, and speed – you can pick two. Unfortunately this has now claimed another scalp and True Value have decided to exit the market. 

The company had been owned by German company M+W Group since 2011, when they invested in a controlling stake. They bought out the entire True Value Solar company in 2013 and have since rebranded as Exyte.  

Exyte, who turns over $4 billion per annum, have decided to exit the country and shut up shop. A map on its website with over 20 countries where Exyte operate no longer shows Australia .

True Value solar MD David McCallum hasn’t made any comment yet, nor has Exyte said anything official, but comments in One Step Off The Grid note that the status of the company (i.e. the upcoming closure) was ‘confirmed’ by RenewEconomy today. The current ~30 employees have already been informed of plans to shutter the company.

It’s understood that the winding down of True Value will be a gradual process so they are able to honour existing contracts and warranties as much as possible. No word yet on how it will affect their commercial solar arm. 

If you want to remember the good old days, please have a look below which shows you a ‘typical True Value Home Installation’.

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Ballarat Energy Storage System | Solar Storage in Victoria

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has been turned on by the Victorian Government today – let’s take a look at this unique battery and see how it will help shape Victoria’s energy future!

Ballarat Energy Storage System

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has 30MW capacity and can output 30MWh – it’s located at the Ballarat terminal station and is owned by Australian energy company Ausnet. The battery storage units are Fluence branded, and were installed by Spotless and Downer Group.

Ballarat Energy Storage System
Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System (source: spotless.com)

ARENA and the Victorian Government will jointly provide $25 million in funding for both this project and the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS). The project (BESS) is expected to end up costing around $35m. 

Lily D’Ambrosio, the minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, made a statement about the Ballarat Energy Storage System discussing the Government’s plans for Australia’s renewable energy future:

“We said we would deliver these large-scale batteries for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said.

“This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system. We’re modernising our electricity grid, strengthening our energy security and delivering real action on climate change.”

According to RenewEconomy, the battery will be most useful in these three situations:

  1. It can help with congestion on Victoria’s transmission grid (especially as it’s installed at a network terminal rather than a wind or solar farm (which is the norm)). 
  2. It’ll help shore up the baseline load for Melbourne, especially during peak times when air conditioners and deconstructed latte machines are switched on en masse; and
  3. It’ll provide ‘key grid stability services’ like frequency control. 

Lastly, straight from the horses’s mouth:

The battery will store energy at times of relatively low value. The battery will use stored energy and use it at times of relatively high value. The project will also examine providing other grid services such as frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and, should it be established under the electricity market rules, a Fast Frequency Response (FFR).

It’ll be fascinating to see how this works over the summer – we’ll, of course, also be keeping a close eye on the Tesla batteries at the Hornsdale Power Reserve to see if they’re able to continue delivering massive savings to the SA government. How long until the rest of the states follow suit? 

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