Roundup 12/28/18: Machine Learning, CA Clean Bus Fleets , NY 3GW Storage Target

By Sushma Raj
December 28, 2018
Solar News Roundup

It's hard to keep up with the latest in clean energy.

That's why we publish weekly Solar News Roundups, to present the most important things for you to know.

Here's 5 solar and cleantech highlights for your week...


Clean Technology News

New World Record of 28% Efficient Perovskite-Silicon Tandem Solar Cell; NREL Certifies Oxford PV

Oxford PV, a UK based Perovskite company, recently announced a new world record for its perovskite-based solar cell. The company’s 1 cm2 perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell has achieved a record-setting 28% conversion efficiency.

The new 1 cm2 solar cell, as certified by NREL, has defeated Oxford PV’s own previous record of 27.3% efficient perovskite-silicon solar cell and has proven the company’s remarkable pace towards solar cell technological development. 

We are continuing to push our perovskite-silicon solar cell technology, with a roadmap that extends beyond 30% efficiency.

- Chris Case, Chief Technology Officer, Oxford PV.

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US Renewable Energy Policy 

California Mandates 100% Zero-Emission Bus Fleet by 2040

A first-of-its-kind regulation by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proves that California is taking big steps by leading the way for environmental regulation in the U.S. By approving the Innovative Clean Transit regulation, CARB sets a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually switch to 100% zero-emission bus fleets by 2040.

Putting more zero-emission buses on our roads will reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases, and provides cost savings for transit agencies in the long run.

Mary D. Nichols, Chair, CARB.

Innovative Clean Transit Regulation:

  • It reduces emissions from the transportation sector that accounts for 40% of climate-changing gas emissions and 80%-90% of smog-forming pollutants.
  • By fully implementing the act, the greenhouse gas emissions are expected to reduce by 19 million metric tons from 2020 to 2050. It is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.
  • In addition to reducing tailpipe pollution (nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) from buses in low-income communities, the regulation provides multiple benefits for transit-dependent riders.

The board’s regulation is applauded by several environmental advocates who wish every state to bring up a similar strategy. While clean buses cost more than the diesel and natural gas vehicles, supporters of the mandate affirm they have lower maintenance and fuel costs.

"This is something that California did first because we have major air quality and pollution problems, but this is something other states could pursue."

- Adrian Martinez, Earth justice's attorney.

Advantages of the Regulation:

  • Transit agencies are expected to save $1.5 billion in maintenance, fuel and other costs by 2050.
  • Deployment of zero-emission buses brings new workforce training and employment opportunities.
  • A wide range of government policies and programs supports electrifying the heavy-duty transportation sector.
  • Utilities are in favor of the transition and offer new electricity rate designs and investments in charging infrastructure. 

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Battery Storage:

New York Has a New Energy Storage Target of 3 GW by 2030

New York’s energy storage deployment target of 1.5GW by 2025, introduced at the beginning of 2018, has been now updated and doubled to 3GW by 2030.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo had set the original target of 1.5 GW by 2025 while announcing his clean energy agenda in 2018. To increase New York’s energy efficiency and to combat climate change, the New York State Public Service Commission approved an initiative to set a secondary energy storage deployment goal of 3,000 MW for 2030.

"These unprecedented energy efficiencies and energy storage targets will set a standard for the rest of the nation to follow, while supporting and creating jobs in these cutting-edge renewable industries."

- Governor Cuomo.

Various Measures to Accelerate Energy Storage Deployment

  1. New York Power Authority (NYPA) aims to invest US$250 million in electrical grid flexibility measures over the next five years which would help various third-party providers to enter the market and accelerate the implementation of 150MW of grid flexibility projects with less market risk.
  2. New York State Public Service Commission approved the six major electric utilities to hold competitive procurement for 350MW of ‘bulk-sited’ energy storage systems.
  3. Authorized by New York’s PSC, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) aims to implement a US$310 million “market acceleration bridge incentive” in addition to US$40 million for projects adding energy storage to commercial solar PV installations.

By achieving these targets and scaling up the clean energy industry, New Yorkers can gain lifetime benefits of $2 billion by decreasing the dependence on costly and inefficient energy infrastructure thereby serving as a model for the rest of the nation. 

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Home Solar

Machine Learning Helps Stanford Scientists to Identify All US Solar Panels

Stanford researchers, by applying machine learning to billion satellite images, have identified GPS locations and sizes of almost all U.S. solar installations and extracted significant socioeconomic patterns from this public data that helps to predict future installations.

By knowing what percent of Americans have adopted solar and their reasons for choosing solar would be extremely helpful to manage the constantly changing U.S. electricity system. This also helps to identify the barriers to the expansion of renewable resources.

“We can use recent advances in machine learning to know where all these assets are, which has been a huge question, and generate insights about where the grid is going and how we can help get it to a more beneficial place.”

 - Ram Rajagopal, Associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The research -

  • Is an accurate deep learning model for detecting solar panel on satellite imagery.
  • Builds a nearly complete solar installation database for the contiguous US.
  • Identifies key socioeconomic factors correlating with solar deployment density.
  • A predictive model to estimate solar deployment density at census tract level.

Summary of the Research

  • DeepSolar is a machine learning program trained to identify solar panels by analyzing satellite images. This can be used as a publicly available resource for researchers, utilities, solar developers, and policymakers to further uncover solar deployment patterns, build comprehensive economic and behavioral models and ultimately support the adoption and management of solar electricity.
  • The study correlates the residential solar deployment with environmental factors such as solar radiation and socioeconomic factors from US census data to uncover solar deployment trends.
  • The research shows that solar deployment density sharply increases when solar radiation is above 4.5–5 kWh/m2/day.
  • Annual household income is a substantial driver for solar deployment. Low- and medium-income households have low deployment densities despite solar systems being profitable for high-radiation rates, indicating that the lack of financial capability of covering the upfront cost is likely a major burden of solar deployment.
  • Updating the DeepSolar large-scale database on a regular basis by making it publicly available can empower the communities to uncover further insights.
  • DeepSolar can be used as a nationwide solar installation database with further improvements.

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International Clean Energy News

REC Brings Clean Energy to Remote Himalayan Communities

Attributing the recent United Nations Global Climate Summit in Poland, REC Group, a leading European brand for solar panels, is bringing clean energy remote Himalayan communities that were dependent on polluting sources of power.

In cooperation with the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) that seeks to provide clean energy, digital education and better living standards for the rural population, REC Group contributed solar panels to power remote villages and schools in the Ladakh and Zanskar regions of India. This is a great relief for communities in sparsely populated regions who mostly rely on old solar lanterns or kerosene lamps for lighting as they have no access to grid power. With REC’s recent initiative, every household in the remote Himalayan villages now has basic access to energy, including LED lights in all rooms, street lights, and better lighting in schools.

“With this and other initiatives, REC is making its contribution to UN’s goal 7 of sustainable development that emphatically commits ‘to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’”.

- Steve O’Neil, CEO, REC Group. 

However, REC has to come up with a unique operating model to over the challenges throughout this journey.

  • Many of these villages are situated at four or five days’ trek distance from the nearest motor-able road. The distance of the regions presented a major challenge in terms of logistics.
  • To overcome this hurdle, villagers themselves offered their help and carried panels and the necessary equipment to the installation sites. With villager’s help, REC engineers had installed a total of 50 panels on the ground and on the villager’s roofs.
  • The operating model is designed to put the villagers in charge as it can avoid the cost involved in getting skilled maintenance engineers to these remote regions.
  • REC trained three villagers from each village to operate and maintain the system. In addition, it established a Village Electricity Management Committee of two to three villagers as a single point of contact for all grid related activities.
  • REC successfully started a service center in the nearest city to service all the grids with trained engineers.

The collective efforts of REC and GHE have given remarkable results in this harsh landscape of Ladakh and Zanskar regions.

  • The initiative has replaced power from polluting sources by delivering 12kW of clean solar energy.
  • It is expected to eliminate 9,000 liters of kerosene per year and 22.8 tons of CO2 emissions.
  • With 100% access to cleaner and brighter lighting, an improvement of 500% is recorded in both households and schools.
  • Children in schools now have access to digital education as the solar installations powered computers and displays.
  • A report from schools shows a 30% increase in the learning aptitude of their students and their knowledge of basic concepts.

With these initiatives, REC proves its commitment to provide clean energy that is flexible enough to meet energy needs on remote and off-grid locations.

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Sushma Raj

Written By

Sushma Raj

Sushma is a Digital Marketing Associate at Pick My Solar. She is passionate about clean energy technologies and the renewable world. When not at the desk, she can be seen either reading or trying her hand at cooking.

More articles by Sushma Raj

What's Pick My Solar? We empower our customers to adopt clean energy through transparency and choice. Our free, no-obligation platform provides competing solutions from top providers.

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