A blog on using the power of Disruptive Business Models to build successful businesses...and other stuff. by Joe Agliozzo

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PG&E 500MW plan - 1/2 PG&E Land 1/2 Private

Many reports of announcement - but the really interesting news is that 1/2 (or 250MW) will be contracted out to private developers. No details on whether this will be "build to own" or PPA style deals (with PG&E as offtaker).

Question - can PG&E take the CSI subsidy as well? Or is that a violation of the CPUC rules that setup the CSI?

Solar in a Box - the Ultimate Residential Solution?

Installation costs for residential solar typically represent more than half the cost of the installed array, and the installation process cries out for innovation. Several companies have created "solar in a box" products. Typically, they come in kit form and include panels with dedicated inverters, racking/attachment system and wiring for interconnection to the grid.

Here's a typical example.

This is a good start, but there are some tradeoffs with this type of system:

1. the low profile means that you will not get optimal tilt for maximum efficiency;
2. the low profile may also create roofing issues - both for air circulation and also roof replacment
3. these systems still require multiple roof penetrations, which may cause maintenance issues in the future
4. the micro inverter systems provide for easy assembly and redundancy (partial panel shading is less of an issue with microinverters, as is individual failure) but also add cost.

I haven't yet seen any installation cost figures with these systems, but it is interesting to think of this type of product being used in a DIY application. Say for sale at Home Depot, the homeowner can install the system and call on a licensed electrician simply for the interconnect. That may be one way to reduce installation costs down to more like $1-2 per watt, giving the homeowner and extremely fast payback when including subsidies and the new federal solar grant.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grants instead of Tax Credits - Boom?

The new stimulus bill apparently will provide for government grants to replace the current tax credit scheme. On the surface this should solve a lot of problems, since as everyone knows there is a lack of investors with tax credit appetites. Couple of interesting wrinkles though (as I understand it):

1. must place in service in 2009 or 2010 - so long term projects are out of luck (like utility scale solar)
2. must be a tax paying entity to use (so non-profits, schools, etc. would still seem to need a third party ownership structure to facilitate)

Will be interesting to see what the regs that actually implement the legislation look like and how long this will take. Could affect project/construction finance if the grant check is going to take a long time to process, for example.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Solar Data - Opensolar.org

Great mashup of CSI data and Google Maps - you can see the locations, components of costs of projects that have received CSI rebates - http://opensolar.org/.

Suggestions -

1. Instead of pulldowns provide search functions for installers.
2. Allow searching/sorting by geo, size, $$, type of panel, date, etc.

Great start though and very useful..