Should Tesla Give Up On Solar?

July 30, 2019

When earlier this year Wood Mackenzie reported Tesla’s share of the solar installations market had fallen to just 6.3 percent during the first quarter, it was a bright red flag. Now, there is another one: Tesla’s solar installations for the second quarter fell to an all-time low of 29 MW. Bloomberg’s Brian Eckhouse and Molly Smith noted in a recent article on the news that this modest amount compared with more than 200 MW in new installations over its highest quarter. It also compared with 47 MW installed during the first quarter, the lowest quarterly installation rate at the time. According to some analysts, it would be best if Tesla exited solar completely and focused on its core car making and selling business. SolarCity constitutes Tesla’s solar business that Tesla acquired for US$2.6 billion in 2016. At the time, many questioned the wisdom of such an acquisition given that SolarCity was a cash burner and that the acquisition deal also included the assumption of US$3 billion in debt.

Spotlight

Swell Energy

Swell is a California-based residential energy storage developer and aggregator. Swell offers consumers bundled solutions including energy storage, solar, and energy management to save homeowners money and provide smart, clean, and secure home energy. Swell also works with utilities to develop residential energy storage programs that address specified utility needs. Most recently, Swell secured a 20 MWh, 3,000-home program with Southern California Edison, the largest residential storage fleet ever announced.

OTHER ARTICLES

Geothermal Energy: How it Works and Stacks Up Against Coal

Article | April 16, 2020

To maintain the goals of the Paris Agreement and save the Earth from ecological breakdown, one of the most important things experts agree we need to do is transition to a renewable energy economy. While most of us may associate renewable energy with wind energy and solar energy, there are several other sources of clean energy that are growing in popularity. One such source is geothermal energy.

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SOLAR+STORAGE

Working From Home? Solar Might Be Perfect for You

Article | December 17, 2021

The pandemic emptied out most of America’s offices as workers across the country set up home workstations. Although this looked to be a temporary situation for many, it has become clear that many workers are choosing to continue to work from home, and many businesses are embracing this concept as well. If you’re one of those individuals, you may want to consider adding solar to your home. A shift in power usage According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Americans spent $6 billion more on at-home power consumption from April to July 2020 than during normal times, nearly offsetting a decline in business and industrial demand.” The increase in residential consumption was fueled by increased home heating and cooling demands, workers participating in virtual meetings, running computers, printers, lamps, and other electronic devices all day long. This has resulted in a shift in energy costs from corporations to employees, with many workers seeing significant increases in their home utility bills. Capitalizing on higher demand to maximize your system size Solar can be a great way to offset the costs of your home's energy demands. Because your consumption is currently higher than it would be if you were working at your company's office, you have the ability to install a system that will more than cover your electricity needs if and when you do return to a corporate office setting. Although your increased usage means you'll need to add a more extensive solar photovoltaic system to your home to do this, it also provides you with an opportunity to maximize your system's size to meet your needs. Incentives and savings The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. However, that number falls to 22 percent in 2023 and goes away in 2024 for residential projects, while commercial projects are reduced to 10 percent ongoing. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems and there is no cap to the size of the system the ITC can be applied to. Making plans now to invest in a solar PV system for your home can be a great way to continue to reap the rewards of working from home without it having a significant negative impact on your monthly utility bill.

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ENERGY

Indigenous lands can be ground zero for a wind energy boom

Article | May 19, 2021

It all started about four years ago, when SUVs and pickup trucks drove uninvited onto their lands, remembers Olimpia Palmar, a member of the Indigenous Wayúu peoples, who historically have occupied the La Guajira desert in northern Colombia and Venezuela. "We started seeing these arijunas [Wayuúunaiki for non-native peoples] wearing construction helmets and boots and vests, getting out of the cars, checking the desert, and then leaving," she recalls. Word soon began circulating across the Guajira Peninsula, from the rancherías — the community’s rural settlements — to the few urban centers: The arijunas were offering money to those who would let them plant tall, slim towers on their lands to measure the wind. On La Guajira’s dusty earth, where few things grow, towers began to sprout. By 2019, at least 30 wind-measuring towers had risen on Wayúu land, according to a report by Indepaz, a nonprofit research center.

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SOLAR+STORAGE

Why Picking an Established and Credible Solar Installer Matters

Article | December 23, 2021

With the popularity of solar increasing across the country, the number of solar installers has been multiplying. Unfortunately, many fly-by-night companies with minimal installation experience or larger national firms with little market history are trying to capitalize on the industry’s growth. In addition, the sheer volume of installation partners that consumers have to choose from can result in a great deal of buyer confusion. More choices, more issues As the number of solar installers has gone up, so have complaints and issues related to providers and their service. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reached terms with Empire Solar Group LLC’s trustees, a national solar installer that went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving 45 homeowners in Minnesota with projects in various levels of incompletion. Unfortunately, they’re not alone, as many other consumers have also fallen into precarious situations after companies using high-pressure sales tactics have been unable to deliver on the work. Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar, says, “He’s angered that companies go out of business and face no fines.” Allen and other established industry leaders have done their best to help out customers caught in the middle of an installer’s bankruptcy issues, but there is only so much they can do. What protections do consumers have? In some cases, states have put into place protections for consumers; for example, in Minnesota, consumers stranded with uncompleted projects can get access to the state’s Contractor Recovery Fund, which receives money from licensing fees to help offset these costs. But that is of little comfort for those trying to determine what partner to choose for their project. The best bet When picking a solar installation partner, your best bet is to avoid those with high-pressure sales tactics, “too-good-to-be-true” pricing, or ones with little to no installation experience. Don’t simply trust the sales rep, do a little of your own research to see what other customers are saying. Looking for a record of successfully completed projects and businesses with state and national certifications can be another way to confirm credibility.

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Spotlight

Swell Energy

Swell is a California-based residential energy storage developer and aggregator. Swell offers consumers bundled solutions including energy storage, solar, and energy management to save homeowners money and provide smart, clean, and secure home energy. Swell also works with utilities to develop residential energy storage programs that address specified utility needs. Most recently, Swell secured a 20 MWh, 3,000-home program with Southern California Edison, the largest residential storage fleet ever announced.

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