Last week was another week of milestones for renewable energy, both big and small. For investors, there may be some good news that will help shape solar energy and energy storage, in particular, for years to come.
Before I get to the records taking place in renewables, it's worth highlighting a surprising new booster to the industry.
Sean Hannity goes to bat for solar energy
Some strange allies of the solar industry are emerging as the International Trade Commission and ultimately President Trump figures out what remedies of the Section 201 trade case will look like. This week, Sean Hannity released a radio ad that said in part, "Taxpayers should not have to bail out one foreign-owned company only for their foreign financiers to get another payout."
As the solar industry tries to find ways to communicate how many jobs would be lost if tariffs are implemented and how it would actually make domestic solar energy more expensive. Solar companies like SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR), Sunrun (NASDAQ: RUN), and Vivint Solar (NYSE: VSLR) who have fought against tariffs may never have though Hannity would be an ally of theirs, that's where we are today. And this may be the biggest voice getting through to the White House when a decision is finally made.
China is going all-in on solar energy
A record, 75 GW of solar energy capacity was installed in 2016, enough to power 12.3 million homes. In 2017, the Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory say China alone will install 50 GW of capacity as programs like Top Runner and a feed-in tariff have driven project development.
Through September, the organization estimates that 42 GW of solar was installed, which would already be the most any country has ever installed in a single year. Not only is China taking solar energy extremely seriously, it's leaving the rest of the world in the dust in the process.
Jeff Bezos litters shards of glass at Texas wind farm
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) opened its biggest wind farm yet this week and Jeff Bezos celebrated the event by smashing a bottle of champagne on a wind turbine.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 19, 2017
The project is known as Amazon Wind Farm Texas and consists of over 100 wind turbines that will deliver over 1 million MW-hrs of electricity to the grid each year. Amazon has 18 renewable energy projects so far and will nearly triple that number in the near future as it invests more in clean sources of energy for warehouses and data centers. Before long, it could be the biggest corporate consumer of renewable energy in the country.
Solar, wind, and storage together at last
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently won a contract to supply Powerpacks to the world's first solar plus wind plus energy storage project in North Queensland, Australia. The project will have 43.2 MW of wind power, 15 MW of solar, and a 4 MWh energy storage system.
The renewable energy industry will likely begin putting the three energy assets together more often because they compliment each other and electricity output can be more consistent to the grid. Wind generation is generally strongest at night, solar production obviously occurs during the day, and energy storage can smooth out the peaks and valleys of both.
Australia may be showing the future of renewable energy and Tesla is playing a big part in this project's construction.
Renewable energy's huge year
2017 will be another record year for renewable energy overall and the sheer scale is starting to be so big that everyone has to take notice. As costs and technology improve to the point that wind and solar can combine with energy storage to compete with fossil fuel plants for 24/7 energy production the fossil fuel energy will be in trouble.
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