Hi Ben, I'd like to speak with you to learn more about your experiences with various solar financing providers. Would you email me at email@example.com or let me know how to get hold of you?
@Joel_Fairstein: The new efficiency is Alta Devices' own improvement on gallium arsenide cells. I didn't say it broke the multijunction cell record. Alta Devices' executives say they will be using the same equipment for single-junction cells to make dual-junction cells.
@Marcusmaedl: The substrate is gallium arsenide. Single crystal. Alta Devices' single junction cells are made on gallium arsenide wafers. The dual junction cells will have a layer of indium gallium phosphide on top of gallium arsenide. Here is my tour of the company's pilot production line: http://gigaom.com/2012/02/14/photos-behind-the-scenes-of-alta-devices-solar-pilot-line/
@Doggydogworld: Natural gas's marketshare will fluctuate from now until 2040. If more renewables come online and coal remains a big source, then the natural gas share won't stay at 31% every year until 2040. The 30% is a projection by the EIA.
@6.12 STS: Thanks for looking into the SMUD program. I think the idea of utility bill savings through solar, while is possible, also can be over-played by solar retail service providers. How much you save or don't save depends on your energy use and the cost of owning solar equipment or your solar lease. It's been the case that high energy users see more savings than low energy users. My parents live in Southern California, and their monthly bill is so low that they aren't going to reduce their bills through solar. You are right to say that the design fo the SB43 will be crucial to figuring out if it will truly benefit low-income residents. We will see about that as the bill gets modified along the way.
@Dave Fisher: I'm not sure what you are referring to in your comment. I can tell you that Solar Moasic's projects tend to locate in urban or suburban areas. They are not massive projects like the ones being built by First Solar and SunPower in the desert. Here is a list of Solar Mosaic's projects: https://joinmosaic.com/browse-investments
@612 STS: The idea of not "shifting costs to non-beneficiaries" means the incentives from the California Solar Initiative won't be available to owners of the community solar projects. The owners can still take advtange of the 30% federal tax credit.
There is a state program called Single Family Affordable Solar Housing that subsidizes PV system installation. If you haven't checked it out, then you can find some info here: http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/affordable/sash.php
Going back to SB 43: I'll ask more about the bill's design for low-income residents. I do want to point out there is no promise of energy savings in the bill, as far as I can tell. The bill promises to give people access to "affordable" solar, and the definition of "affordability" isn't clear cut. I'm going to emphasize this point more the next time I write about it. Whether your in-laws will benefit from SB 43 is not certain at this point because the bill is new and will go through many re-writes -- it will depend on the program fee/rate designs and your in-laws' energy use. Thanks for bringing up the issue and stay tuned.
Bob: Thanks for the comment. I think the many uncertainties about the future pricing for solar -- exactly how much lower will it get -- is what makes it hard to do a good rate impact analysis. By the way, I just spoke with DRA and was told that there was a typo in the press release. So the projected increases over 8 years are 5-9%.
@DrAlexC: California regulators are favoring smaller solar projects these days, though by small they meant around 20MW. So they are not the rooftop variety. I don't know what you meant by "local solar PV," but You should lobby to reduce or get rid of the state's renewable energy mandate if you want only small PV systems on residential and commercial rooftops.
@Ron Dickerson: The California Public Utilities Commission approved a program called RAM in late 2010 to promote solar projects up to 20MW in size and to create standards in PPA contracts. Here is a good explainer about the RAM program: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/12/california-approves-innovative-program-to-spur-mid-sized-solar Here is the commission website about RAM:http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Renewables/hot/Renewable+Auction+Mechanism.htm
@DrAlexC: I don't read every comment you post. Plus, have you heard of "community solar"? It could be localized, too, but uses ground-mounted PV systems. Community solar refers to a project that gets investments from consumers who don't have their own rooftop space (renters) but want to invest in solar to get a reduction in their utility bills or some other benefits. There was an attempt this past summer to pass a bill in California to make community solar feasible, but it didn't work.