Elon Musk Leads Tesla Effort to Build House Roofs Entirely out of Solar Panels

In the latest clean energy plan, Tesla purchased SolarCity to make solar ‘shingles’: ‘It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof,’ CEO says

Elon Musk is CEO of Tesla and chairman of SolarCity. Photograph: David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

Elon Musk is CEO of Tesla and chairman of SolarCity. Photograph: David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

A new venture spearheaded by Elon Musk will create house roofs made entirely of solar panels, in a sweeping expansion of Tesla’s clean energy ambitions.

Tesla has finalized a $2.6bn deal to buy solar power company SolarCity to produce solar “shingles” – photovoltaic material that would be fashioned into the shape of a house roof.

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof,” Musk said. “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”

Musk is chief executive of Tesla and is also the chairman and largest shareholder of SolarCity, whose chief executive is Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive. The two entrepreneurs devised the idea for SolarCity during a trip the Burning Man desert festival in 2004.

Musk describes the deal, subject to shareholder approval, as a “no-brainer” that would combine the solar panel roofs with Tesla’s PowerWall home batteries, to store electricity for later use in the evening.

A Tesla and SolarCity statement said they are creating the “world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company” and will work on releasing two new solar roof products by the end of the year. SolarCity has, however, reduced its forecast, citing costs, for megawatt installations for this year.

The idea of solar shingles isn’t entirely new – Dow Chemical produced them before deciding to scrap the idea in June. But Musk, an entrepreneur who has advocated for a global carbon tax in a bid to lower greenhouse gas emissions, hopes the SolarCity venture will allow Tesla to offer a one-stop-shop in clean energy, alongside its batteries and electric cars.

According to Rive, there are 5m new roofs installed every year in the US. The vast majority of American houses have asphalt roofs, which soak up a lot of heat and can be hard to replace.

“If your roof is about to need to be replaced, you don’t want to invest in solar panels to install on it since you are about to take it down – but if the solar panels are the roof and you need to redo it anyway, there’s no reason not to go with a power-generating roof,” said Rive.

The cost of households becoming solar has fallen by 70% over the past decade in the US, with more than 1m American homes now fitted with solar panels – up from just 30,000 homes in 2006. In July, the Obama administration announced an initiative to deliver one gigawatt of solar to low-income households by 2020.

It’s estimated that PV panels on 0.6% of America’s land mass would provide enough electricity to power the entire country. California has taken the lead in both household and large-scale solar power generation, accounting for half of the homes with solar panels and hitting a peak generation of 8 megawatts of electricity from solar plants on July 12 – enough to power more than 6m homes.

Rapid deployment of clean energy will be required if the US, and other countries, are to slash emissions quickly enough to meet climate change targets agreed at a landmark international accord in Paris last year.

The agreement’s ambition to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial times is likely to be blown within just five years on the current trajectory of emissions, according to a recent analysis.

Even if emissions are radically cut in the next few years, as-yet undeveloped technology will need to be deployed in order to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground to avoid temperatures that will raise the seas enough to swamp low-lying nations and cause food and water insecurity for many other countries.

Courtesy: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/

Scottish Wind Could be 20% Cheaper

By: David Weston

UK: The costs of onshore wind projects in Scotland could by cut by £150 million a year by reducing cost barriers, according to a new report.

Scotland has 7GW of onshore wind in the pipeline

Scotland has 7GW of onshore wind in the pipeline

The “Onshore Wind in Scotland” report by consultancy Everoze, commissioned by trade body Scottish Renewables, identified ten barriers that could markedly reduce costs of Scotland’s 7GW of wind capacity in the pipeline.The biggest saving is made by using the latest technology, the report found. Current planning guidelines in the UK limits the use of turbines with a tip height of over 125 metres.

Everoze suggested use of the latest turbine technology could save £11/MWh when compared to current prices.

“Deploying the latest generation of turbines has the biggest impact on costs, reducing them by £11/MWh,” said Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Lindsay Roberts.

“The report sets out just how competitive onshore wind in Scotland can be, and shows that it makes no sense for the UK Government to exclude the technology from long-term contracts for clean power. Without it, we will all be paying for more expensive alternatives,” Roberts added.

The report said improved planning, repowering, grid upgrades, increase consent terms, and storage could all contribute to the cost reduction.

Courtesy: http://www.windpowermonthly.com/

Karma Aims to Challenge Tesla With Solar-Boosted Hybrid

By: David Welch, Bloomberg

image credit: Karma

Karma Automotive LLC, the Chinese-owned carmaker once known as Fisker Automotive, has taken another step in its resurrection with the online reveal of its plug-in hybrid sedan that seeks to compete with Tesla’s Model S electric car.

The rebooted automaker has revealed the all-new Revero, which will cost more than the $115,000 sticker price on the original Fisker Karma when deliveries begin no later than next year’s first quarter. The car will be able to go about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in pure electric drive before a gasoline engine kicks in, said Chief Revenue Officer Jim Taylor. It also has a solar panel on the roof that can charge the battery, he said.

Karma’s plan is to sell an exclusive sports sedan to people who currently buy the Tesla Model S and other expensive sporty cars. Under Wanxiang Group Corp. and its chairman Lu Guanqiu, Karma is one of several Chinese-backed plug-in car companies that are targeting the U.S. market with electric cars that will take on Tesla Motors Inc.

“We think we’re in Tesla’s court,” Taylor said in a telephone interview. “If it was just about style, we would only go head to head with Aston Martin and Maserati. But these buyers are also interested in the technology.”

Solar Role

Karma is among the first to use solar panels to charge a production car’s high-voltage battery that powers the motor. The predecessor company’s original car, called the Fisker Karma, used a solar panel to charge the 12-volt battery that powers lights and other accessories, and Toyota Motor Corp. has used solar power in the Prius to run the ventilation system. Toyota’s new Prius Prime plug-in, going on sale this year, will have an optional solar panel to charge the battery for buyers in Europe.

Solar power is a big part of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s vision. He has proposed merging Tesla with SolarCity Corp., in which he holds a 22 percent stake. Musk wants his buyers to be able to buy his cars and then charge them with solar power at home. Several of Tesla’s fast-charging stations are also solar-powered.

Karma has been working to get back to car production since its predecessor company, Fisker, defaulted on a U.S. government loan and went bankrupt in 2013. Wanxiang, an auto parts maker, bought its assets out of bankruptcy the following year. The company has filed documents seeking to open a $375 million factory in Hangzhou, China.

As Karma rolls out its electric-drive technology, it wants to add smaller plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars to its lineup, Taylor said.

Similar to Tesla’s strategy with low-volume sellers like the early Roadster and Model S, Karma wants to use the Revero to start building its capabilities and intellectual property so the company can eventually build cars in higher volume, Taylor said.

The predecessor company sold 2,000 cars, Taylor said. Those owners will get the first chance to reserve and buy the new model this week, he said. Costa Mesa, California-based Karma will make about 900 Reveros in the first year and boost production later, Taylor said.

“Those owners are so passionate, borderline fanatical,” he said. “We want to give them first crack at it.”

©2016 Bloomberg News

Audi Is Developing a New Regenerative Energy Technology for Its Cars

By: Stephen Lacey

Image Courtesy: zerotohundred.com

Think energy regeneration, and usually innovations in the powertrain come to mind. With a prototype named “eROT,” Audi has applied the same principles to the chassis, or more specifically, the dampers of a vehicle, in order to recuperate energy transferred through the vehicle’s chassis as it encounters undulations and imperfections along the road surface.

“Every pothole, every bump, every curve induces kinetic energy in the car. Today’s dampers absorb this energy, which is lost in the form of heat,” said Dr. Ing. Stefan Knirsch, board member for technical development at Audi AG.

“With the new electromechanical damper system in the 48-volt electrical system, we put this energy to use. It also presents us and our customers with entirely new possibilities for adjusting the suspension,” he adds.

Courtesy: http://www.greentechmedia.com/

Decision by Australian Energy Regulator Protects Solar Users against Unfair Costs

A decision by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will protect solar users in South Australia against discriminatory charges proposed by SA Power Networks.

Clean Energy Council Policy Manager Darren Gladman said the AER decision was welcome news for solar customers and businesses in South Australia.

“If the SA Power Networks proposal was successful, it would send a message that no matter what action people take to reduce their bills, they’ll get stung another way. Effectively: ‘You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t’.

“If this push was successful, it would have opened the door for similar, and possibly much larger, charges by operators in other states. We believed the proposal was unfair and campaigned strongly against it. We are pleased the AER agreed with our position,” Mr Gladman said.

Under the SA Power Networks proposal, those who installed solar power would be charged a different rate to other users. The AER rejected the proposal last year, and this decision was supported by the Federal Court in December 2015.

Mr Gladman said the Clean Energy Council will continue to work with SA Power Networks to support better ways of introducing demand-based tariffs that don’t discriminate against owners of solar, storage or smart meters.

“More than 1.5 million homes across the country have now installed solar power. This is a huge political constituency, and they won’t stand for being treated like mugs,” he said.

“Just about everyone is concerned about the cost of power right now. We should not be penalising people who want to go solar just because they aren’t paying as much to the operators of the power networks as they used to.”

Courtesy: http://www.solardaily.com/