Saturday, October 28, 2017

What you need to know before buying solar power ahead of Trump’s tariff decision

Following a petition by US solar panel manufacturer Suniva, the US International Trade Commission declared on September 22nd that solar panel imports have hurt US manufacturers. They asked that a tariff of ~40¢/watt be added to solar panel imports. This decision will be finalized before January 12th.
Already, solar panel installers are telling homeowners that they need to install right now to avoid the increase in costs of solar panels (like SUNJACK 14W PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGER ). While the decision isn’t final yet, Trump has been said to be in favor of tariffs. And with the probabilities higher than chance, many homeowners are giving their pending solar purchase a second look. Don’t fret, Electrek is here to give you some knowledge, so you can keep your cool, while you shop the marketplace.

First of all, the only piece of the overall installation that will be affected by this case is the solar panel itself. Suniva has requested that something along the lines of a minimum price of 74¢/watt be placed on all imported solar panels. This matters to utility-scale people because the price of standard efficiency, high volume solar panels fell significantly in the last year and a half – from around 60¢/W in late 2015 to 35¢/W in early 2017. For residential customers, the 25¢/W price fall of solar panels was a partial driver for the overall 38¢/W drop in price for residential solar installation between 2015-2017, but not all of it and certainly not as significant as it is for larger-scale projects.

Secondly, the US residential market has been moving toward higher efficiency, higher cost, solar panels for years now. Most of us are paying a lot more than the record-breaking 35¢/W products being used in the largest utility-scale projects. A small number of us are buying the most premium products from SunPower, and paying over $1/W. Higher efficiency panels that many of us are purchasing, like the 19%+ LG Neon, or 17-18% from Hyundai, we’re probably in the 60-80¢/W range already. That means a minimum price of 74¢/W might not hit us as hard.

Other variables matter, 4-6GW of solar panels might be available to the US with no tariffs in 2018. However, the US used about 14.6GW of solar panel in 2016. Multiple (ITEK and CSUN) solar manufacturers have announced US facilities coming online soon. Their announced volumes are small though, less than 0.6GW/year total. Since utility customers have bigger buying power and aggressively move on knowledge, they’ve probably already signed option contracts for the best-priced products coming from potential non-tariff companies.

Tesla’s 2GW Gigafactory in Buffalo will deliver volume – but it seems growth to that number will be slow (years) and probably mostly consumed by a whole new type of residential solar buyer – solar roof tiles.

If Trump’s only mandates is a minimum price around 74¢/W, then those who were searching for the cheapest solar install possible (under $2.50/W) – using the same panels that the utility-scale people buy (Yingli, Canadian Solar) – you might see a 35-50¢/W price increase. Those buying higher efficiency products – LG, Hanwha-Q Cells – you could see pricing go up 20¢/W max. Those of you buying more premium solar panels – maybe nothing.

Of course, there could be other complexities in the market. Maybe Trump limits the total amount of product that can come into the country. SolarWorld has suggested this as a possible solution. That would change a lot of spreadsheets. This outlier possibility, and others, are probably less outlier than normal due to the current political landscape, but residential solar buyers aren’t in a do or die situation. So, unless you really want solar – don’t add these ‘fundamental market shift’ to your spreadsheet (the utility-scale people are though).

If there is a minimum price put on solar panels, and it might be around 74¢ – maybe that means manufacturers will only aim their higher quality product to the US as a lower priced product will be tariffed away. This will only continue a trend of pushing residential efficiency levels higher.

In the end, Trump tariff might nudge US residential solar market toward higher efficiency, but not much else.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hong Kong villagers using solar energy to help power their homes

The roof of Fung Chuen-tai’s home in Tai O, a fishing village on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, has been fitted with 25 solar panels. They are wired up to an inverter in the small wooden shack that converts the direct current generated by the panels into alternative current electricity. The set-up also records how much power has been generated
Next, the electricity is converted to 220 volts and directed to the fuse box, which distributes it to where it’s needed. If no one is at home, and all appliances are turned off, it’s released to the grid.

Since there are no payment guidelines in place to determine how much households should be paid for contributions to the grid, CLP Power gets the electricity for free.

On sunny summer days, Fung’s panels (for example: GOAL ZERO NOMAD 13 ) generate half the power used by the household of four – an air conditioner for 10 hours, plus lights and a washing machine, for example. In winter, they provide a third of the power output.

Olivia To Pui-wai, from conservation group WWF Hong Kong, oversaw the installation at Fung’s home and two other dwellings in the fishing village last September.

The initiative was a pilot project to gauge not only how much electricity could be generated, but also to test out the process a homeowner must undergo to eventually sell excess electricity to CLP, which supplies power to Kowloon and the New Territories.

Hong Kong currently gets 48 per cent of its energy from coal, 27 per cent from natural gas, and the remaining 25 per cent from an unspecified mix of nuclear and renewable energy. (The Electrical and Mechanical Service Department says renewable energy accounts for just 1 per cent.)

Within the next three years, the goal is to increase the proportion of electricity generated by natural gas to 50 per cent – at the expense of coal. Nuclear power would supply 25 per cent of the total, while “coal and renewable energy” would provide the remaining 25 per cent. No specific percentage is stated for renewables.

Yet there is great potential for solar power generation in the city. Geographically, Hong Kong is well placed for solar irradiation, or solar energy that can be generated at the standard measurement of 1,350 kilowatt hours per square metre. This compares to China’s capacity of 1,000 to 2,200kWh/m2, Japan’s 1,000 to 1,600kWh/m2 capacity and France’s 900 to 1,200kWh/m2, the WWF says.

Two years ago, Daphne Mah Ngar-yin, assistant professor at the department of geography at Hong Kong Baptist University, and her team were commissioned by WWF and Greenpeace to conduct a study on environmental attitudes and energy consumption behaviour in Hong Kong. In February, she presented the findings to the power companies, government, NGOs and other stakeholders.

“Many people were not aware of the solar power potential in Hong Kong,” Mah says. “There are perceptions among Hong Kong people that renewable energy is a remote thing. Energy is difficult to communicate because you can’t visualise it, so why care about it?” she says, admitting that it’s a highly technical and scientific subject. “But if you position it as a clean energy that will not add to air pollution, then it will get their interest.”

“We are concerned about the energy future in Hong Kong. It isn’t sustainable now, and we still rely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, which is controversial. On the other hand, we’re not conserving energy either. We need to explore alternative energy sources,” adds Mah.

There is also a perception that renewable energy can only be generated in rural areas, but even Singapore, Seoul, London and New York are installing solar panels wherever possible. Mah says Hong Kong has plenty of areas where the sun’s energy can be tapped.

“In the northwestern part of Hong Kong there are private housing estates, like Fairview Park in Yuen Long, with about 5,000 single houses,” Mah says. “We did a rough estimate and if they used their rooftops they could install 5 megawatt panels there. There are also private and village houses in Sai Kung and other parts of the New Territories.”

She says Hong Kong currently generates about 4 megawatts of solar energy per year, but the government has no specific targets for the foreseeable future. Singapore generated 71mW last year, with a target of 350mW by 2020. New York generated 30mW in 2014 and is targeting 1,000mW by 2030.

“We can move from between 4 per cent and 5 per cent to 10 per cent [total renewable energy] if we have a strong solar power policy in Hong Kong,” Mah says, citing research by the Polytechnic University. “But are rooftop owners willing to open up their roofs to install solar panels? Singapore mobilises the market for solar panels by installing them on the roofs of social housing blocks and tendering contracts to install these panels, so it’s at a low cost.”

When WWF installed the panels on Fung’s home, the conservation group spent three months testing the system to meet rigorous requirements set by the government and CLP Power in order to connect safely to the grid.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Understanding Pay Stubs

Together with the technology progress in digital employee management software, a number of businesses have migrated to rather than mailing or handing out paper They could email notification to every worker or possess a secure log on setup for every employee to register and see their in their own time.

The digital capabilities benefit employees and companies for lots of factors. Firms save money on newspaper and mailing costs, the applications flow lines payroll, benefits, and reimbursement procedures reducing a chance of malfunction, and it keeps data concentrated for effortless editing or research. On the flip side, it lowers the total amount of paperwork and mail which workers get, it provides the ability to access their pay check at any internet place, and it makes exploring or collecting payroll information simpler.

Since digital employee management applications have made it a lot easier to obtain and see, it provides us more reason to make sure we know what we're looking at. Important fiscal, tax, and gain information we must all pay attention to is recorded. designs differ from company to company but they'll all include the following...

Personal Information - This includes the business name, employee name, address, and also maybe the worker social security number.

Important Dates - Dates listed will incorporate the pay period start and finish date, and the date of the test or issuance. Some sections also have a Year-to-date column to demonstrate just how much you had been paid, how much was withheld, or just how much was deducted thus far that year.

Taxable Earnings - This is the total amount of income that's earned for the particular pay period.

Web Pay - This is the sum of income received for "take home" following all essential withholdings. This will match the sum of your physical paycheck or direct deposit cover.

Federal Tax - This is an income tax exempt which each and every employee pays. The percentage withheld is dependent upon the total amount of income you create along with the information you recorded in your W-4.

Condition Tax - The state income tax withholding isn't mandatory for everybody. It depends on what state you reside in and their taxation laws. Additionally, it is a percentage based on what you create.

Social Security - This is the US method of supplemental retirement cash. Every employee contributes the identical proportion of the gross income. Employers provide a matching percentage also.

Medicare - This is the US government insurance program. It offers medical benefits to the retired and handicapped employees over 65 years of age. All workers and employers pay a fitting percentage of gross earnings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New technology will enable properties to share solar energy

IN the UK alone, some 1.5 million homes are equipped with solar panels,( for examlpe: RENOGY 200 WATT 12 VOLT SOLAR STARTER KIT ) and it has been estimated that by 2020 the figure could soar to 10 million, with the prospect of lower energy bills for consumers and massive reductions in CO2emissions. Now, a University of Huddersfield researcher is developing new technologies that could enable clusters of houses to share their solar energy, rather than simply exporting surplus electricity to the national grid. Also, new systems for fault detection will enable householders to monitor and maintain the efficiency of their panels.

Prize-winning PhD student Mahmoud Dhimish is spearheading the project, supervised by lecturers with expertise in high performance computing, engineering and electrical supply. The research is aided by a solar panel, or photovoltaic (PV) system that has been installed at the University by its School of Computing and Engineering.

"Currently, individual consumers generate electricity from their PV installations and if they are unable to use it, they export it to the network. PV outputs vary unpredictably -- as do the electricity demands of each consumer -- so supply and demand is difficult to match," said Mahmoud Dhimish.

Therefore, his doctoral research -- which has already led to a sequence of articles and presentations -- is investigating the possibility of reducing the need to export unused energy to the grid by making use of "demand diversity" among adjacent dwellings.

A form of energy storage shared by the connected houses and the use of the 'Internet of Things' to monitor and manage their electricity demands will form part of the solution.

A major dimension of Mahmoud's work is the development of a new algorithm that will enable the rapid detection of faults in PV installations. He has carried out pioneering work on the impact of micro-cracks in the performance of solar panels, using the facilities of the University of Huddersfield's High Performance Computing Research Group to carry out his analysis.

The research could lead to the development of monitoring units operated directly by households or remotely via the Cloud.

Outputs describing the work have included the recent article Fault detection algorithm for grid-connected photovoltaic plants, in the journal Solar Energy. It is co-authored by Mahmoud Dhimish and his PhD supervisor Dr Violeta Homes, who is Subject Area Leader for Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Huddersfield, where she leads the HPC Research Group.

Also supervising are Dr Bruce Mehrdadi, who is MSc Engineering Programme Leader, and lecturer Mark Dales, whose career has included 30 years in the electricity supply industry, and who took charge of the installation of the School of Computing and Engineering's own solar panels.

Mahmoud Dhimish -- who is Jordanian-Russian -- earned awards that included a Chancellor's Prize for his University of Huddersfield MSc in Electronic and Communication Engineering. He was immediately awarded a scholarship for his PhD research in renewable energy system. He has further co-authored articles awaiting publication and has also lectured on the subject to undergraduates.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Omega Speedmaster, Seamaster, & Railmaster 1957 ‘Trilogy’ 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Watches

Omega is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300, and the less remembered yet cult-collector’s favorite Railmaster watches with what they’re calling the Omega 1957 Trilogy. The reeditions are staying true to the original designs but with METAS approved Master Chronometer movements for the Railmaster and Seamaster. The Speedmaster, however, retains the iconic manual-wind 1861 caliber that’s immediately associated with the “moonwatch.”  Of course, all three will be limited editions, coming in 3,557 pieces per watch and 557 pieces of the Trilogy presentation box that’ll include all three watches. Let's see what Omega has to offer with their reissues of the Speedmaster ref. CK2915, the Seamaster ref. CK2913, and the Railmaster ref. CK2914.

Omega went to great lengths to keep the overall theme of the 1957 releases. Using digital scanning and imaging technology for the first time, along with designs and original drawings of each model, Omega managed to create an accurate nod to the original models while keeping with a modern execution for each watch. Take, for example, the 2017 reedition of the Speedmaster compared to the actual 1957 model seen above.

All three watches will feature the “tropical” dials fans of the vintage watches are fond of, and even an eclectic, retro logo on each piece - a nod to how 1950s suppliers each had their own interpretation of Omega’s logo. Each case is made of brushed and polished stainless steel with a design that Omega has updated for strength and to match the featured vintage-designed clasp with retro logo. I think the retro-vintage-style LumiNova indices are a cool touch - however, I can see some enthusiasts thinking it kind of takes away some of the "feeling" of the watches that carry over so many traits of their predecessors.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Off on an adventure – Day 2 Carine Serol

As I suspect there will be limited time to post on Jim's Loire while we are away  – there are posts prepared in advance that will feature pics of Loire producers and may be from elsewhere plus some recently enjoyed bottles.    

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Off on an adventure: Day 4 – Xavier Weisskopf

As I suspect there will be limited time to post on Jim's Loire while we are away– there are posts prepared in advance that will feature pics of Loire producers and may be from elsewhere plus some recently enjoyed bottles.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Off on an adventure: Day 3 – Anne and Pierre-Henry PellĂ©

As I suspect there will be limited time to post on Jim's Loire while we are away– there are posts prepared in advance that will feature pics of Loire producers and may be from elsewhere plus some recently enjoyed bottles.