Solar@Work, May 15, 2014: Boom Coming in Geothermal Lithium


Tesla Gigafactory: Boom for Geothermal-Produced Lithium

Simbol Geothermal plant, Calpatria, Calif. (Simbol photo)

By Rona Fried, PhD

Tesla is back in the news, announcing plans for a Gigafactory which could transform the power industry as much as advance its electric car. The company plans to have the world’s biggest battery factory up and running in 2017. The goal is to reduce the cost of batteries by 30 percent in the first year, to produce a “compelling, affordable electric car in about three years.”

This accelerated battery innovation will be a game-changer for electric cars and the entire energy storage industry, not only cutting the price of Tesla’s next car in half, but most importantly, enabling homeowners and businesses to use solar energy 24 hours a day. A key beneficiary of the factory may prove to be the geothermal electricity industry, because brine from geothermal wells can be “distilled” to yield lithium and rare earth metals. More

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Enphase Sales Up 26% Over Q1 2013
Enphase Energy reported total revenue for the first quarter of 2014 of $57.6 million. This is an increase of 26 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013. During the first quarter of 2014, Enphase sold 93MW (AC) or 423,000 microinverters. This is an increase in MW of 37 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013. GAAP gross margin for the first quarter of 2014 was 32.4 percent. Non-GAAP gross margin was 32.7 percent, an increase of 570 basis points compared to the first quarter of 2013. More

Sunrun Raises $150 Million
Sunrun has raised $150 million in equity financing. It’s said to be the largest private equity raise to date for a private residential solar company in the United States. A leading public institutional investor led the round with a $100 million investment. Existing and new investors provided the remaining $50 million. Sunrun will use the funds to broaden its reach to consumers and continue developing tools and technologies that make solar energy simpler and more cost effective for homeowners. More

Georgia Army Bases Will Get 90 MW of PV
Georgia Power will build and operate three 30 MW solar generation facilities at Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and Fort Gordon.. Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016, the facilities are expected to be the largest solar generation facilities operating on U.S. military bases.  The announcement was made as part of the company’s updated Renewable Resource Action Plan filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission. More

Axion Sells 2MW of Storage to PJM
Axion Power, developer of advanced lead-carbon (PbC) energy storage systems, has received a follow-on purchase order for four more PowerCube energy storage systems from its  strategic partner, a NJ-based solar installer for commercial and residential markets. The cubes will provide storage for energy created by a commercial solar panel system and service the frequency regulation market on the PJM grid. Valued at more than $1,100,000, the purchase includes batteries, racks, wiring, a data communication system and electronics coordination. Each of the PowerCubes will be tied to solar arrays that produce between 500kw and 700kw of power provide 500kw (both 500kw up and 500kw down) for frequency regulation. More

USGBC, B of A Offer Grants for Green Neighborhoods
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation today announced the opening of the application period for the expanded 2014 Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant Program. The program awards financial and educational resources to developers of affordable housing in North America that are committed to building sustainable communities through the LEED for Neighborhood Development program. It’s made possible by an $850,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. This year the program will expand to 14 awardees from 10 in 2012, the most recent year that grants were awarded. Applications will be accepted until July 11, 2014.  More

SEEA, UNC Launch Finance Network
The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), announced the launch of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Finance Network. It will offer educational opportunities, case studies, best practices and the support system needed to build a profitable region-wide base of energy efficiency financing programs. The Network, which launches with approximately $1M of targeted capital support from the U.S. Department of Energy, welcomes the participation of regional banks, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), credit unions, utilities, contractors, nonprofits, trade associations and government agencies. More

NuGen Buys 13 MW of Solectria Inverters Solectria has sold Smartgrid 500 inverters  to NuGen Capital for five projects totaling more than 13 MW in Massachusetts. The ground-mount arrays are located in Swansea, Lunenburg, Whatley and  Hadley. These projects generate net metering credits from the facilities and produce credits that will be made available to manufacturers and municipalities in the area via their utility provider. More


EPRI Names Carlberg as Director of Strategic Communications
Scott Carlberg will join the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) as director of strategic communications, effective June 16. Carlberg is president of E4 Carolinas, a two-state association that strengthens the energy industry across generation types, transmission, distribution and conservation. E4 Carolinas was developed from the Charlotte regional energy industry effort that began in 2009. He has worked in public affairs at Duke Energy, Phillips Petroleum Company and Talking Points LLC, an individual business practice he created in 2004.

Clint Bills Joins Westwood
Clint Bills has joined the Scottsdale, Arizona office of Westwood Professional Services as a project engineer. He will work on renewable energy projects including the largest CPV project in the United States. Bills earned a BS in Civil Engineering at Arizona State University.

Main Street Power Names Masinter COO
Main Street Power, a developer and operator of distributed generation PV systems, has appointed Rob Masinter, formerly of Advanced Energy, as the company’s chief operating officer.  In this newly-created position, Masinter is responsible for the company’s business development, project management, operations and administrative functions. Masinter led product management, marketing and field applications engineering for Advanced Energy’s Solar business unit. Prior to that, he co-founded OpTerra Energy Group, a private-equity backed energy services company that achieved national scale through multiple acquisitions. He holds an MBA from Dartmouth College, an MS in earth science from Stanford University, and a BA in geology from Middlebury College.

Harley Ellis Devereaux Names San Diego Execs The architectural firm announced that office leader for San Diego is Neville Willsmore. Thomas Christian joins the firm as studio leader for K-12 and higher education projects.

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