WUEG September 2015 Newsletter

whartonundergradenergy

September 2015

CEO of Greenwood Energy (an American solar

company), supports eliminating the ITC in a

Greentech Media op-­‐ed, favoring more long term

regulatory certainty. A paper from Stanford's

Steyer-­‐Taylor Center for Energy Policy and

Finance advocates a similar middle path approach.

Rather than the current policy of suddenly slashing

the ITC rate to 10% in 2017 and maintaining it

forever, the paper proposes a tapered extension (a

smoother "glide path") to avoid the solar cliff, with

the political tradeoff of ultimately eliminating the

ITC entirely by 2022.

While the US Congress is now suffering chronic

disagreement and impasse, the 2016 presidential

election discourse is similarly partisan on the topic

of renewable energy tax credits. Almost all major

Republican candidates who have spoken publicly

on this issue support removing all energy subsidies

(maintaining logical consistency by also

advocating removal of all fossil fuel tax benefits),

while almost all Democratic candidates support

extending both solar investment tax credits and

wind production tax credits (PTC). The future of

the solar ITC is highly uncertain. With rapidly-­transitioning

energy infrastructure in an America

flooded with cheap natural gas, this stalemated

political atmosphere on the solar ITC might have

lasting implications for the planet's atmosphere.

Sources:

AP

DOE

EIA

FERC

Utility Dive

Stanford GSB

BNEF

League of Conservation Voters

The Powerwall and the Future of Energy Storage

at Tesla

Connor Lippincott – Senior Member, Academic Committee

Tesla’s announcement of the home energy-­storage

solution, the Powerwall, earlier this

summer made some pretty big waves in the clean

technology sphere. The sleek, wall-­‐mounted

battery comes in two models, 10 kWh and 7 kWh,

for backup and daily cycle applications,

respectively. The battery functions with traditional

lithium-­‐ion technology and is guaranteed for 10

years after purchase. The prices are $3000-­‐$3500

with an additional $500 in installation charges.

Since their announcement, 100,000 Powerwalls

were reserved. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Penn

alumnus, has projected $40 million in sales of

batteries for fourth quarter 2015 with “ten times

that number next year.” And just a few days ago,

the 7kWh batteries began shipping to customers.

So this is a home run, right?

It seems a little more complicated than that. While

the Apple-­‐esque rollout of the Powerwall dazzled

many, there are some significant questions to the

long-­‐term use and effectiveness of the home

storage battery. The primary selling points of the

battery are grid independence and avoiding peak

electricity rates. However, compared to net

metering, the process of selling unused solar

energy back to the grid, the battery storage is a

more expensive option. Instead of making money

from the excess energy, it is simply stored.

Unfortunately, this policy is also one of the reasons

that solar energy is becoming much more

economical, meaning that, to incentivize battery

purchase, solar panels would have to be dis-­incentivized.

This seems counterintuitive.

Avoiding peak electricity rates also does not make

as much impact when investigated. First, less than

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