by Nicolas Rinaldi
April 28, 2017

We kick off this week with reporting on a brewing solar trade war in the U.S., and a look at alternative battery chemistries and materials queueing up to take on lithium-ion.

Suniva vs. the world

Suniva, a solar cell and module manufacturer headquartered in Georgia, is preparing an attack on the U.S. market's global supply chain. The company, which recently declared bankruptcy, fired the first salvo in a new trade war when it filed a Section 201 petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission this week. The petition claims Asian suppliers seriously injured Suniva's business by flooding the U.S. solar market with modules below cost. Stephen Lacey details what Suniva is asking for and looks at the potential consequences of new U.S. import tariffs. (story)

Suniva is looking to reverse the trend of low-cost Asian imports stealing market share away from U.S. suppliers.

It's that orange line that rubs Suniva the wrong way. GTM Research's PV Module Supply Chain Service has an incredible amount of data and analysis on global supply markets.

GTM Research estimates the tariffs on solar imports suggested by Suniva would increase the price of a utility single-axis tracking system in the U.S. from $1.08 per watt today to $1.56 per watt. That would likely throw a wrench in the pricing roadmaps of the market's project developers, many of whom plan to go well below $1 per watt by 2020. This week, Julia Pyper details how developer Cypress Creek has been working its way toward systems at less than 75 cents per watt by 2020. (story)

Alternative Rock

We have a few updates for you on battery chemistries and materials. Let's take a look.

"Alternative Rock" ... Get it?

Things are looking up for refrigeration battery provider Axiom Energy. Eric Wesoff notes that the firm has gone from pre-revenue startup to a revenue-generating company with a major supermarket customer, Whole Foods, in just three years. Axiom's technology takes extra capacity from refrigeration units to freeze a tank of salt water overnight. During afternoon electricity peaks, the battery then uses the frozen salt water to provide refrigeration. (story)

One molten silicon battery startup is feeling confident this week. 1414 Degrees of Australia claims to have developed a molten silicon thermal storage system that can store 500 kilowatt-hours of energy within a 70-centimeter cube. That is 36 times the capacity of a 14-kilowatt-hour Tesla Powerwall 2 lithium-ion battery, the company claims. (story)

Then there's SiNode, a startup that has grown out of Northwestern University aiming to commercialize a silicon graphene composite anode for lithium-ion batteries that will offer a higher energy capacity than typical graphite anodes. (story)

Not everything is coming up roses for alternative competitors though. This week it was revealed that zinc-bromide residential battery supplier Redflow had to replace 23 units in Australia due to product failures. The company halted delivery of its batteries until further testing is done. (story)

Meanwhile traditional lithium-ion continues to see rapid price declines and commercialization around the globe. This week, Eneco and Mitsubishi announced a 50 megawatt-hour lithium-ion storage system in Germany that will be located near offshore wind resources in Denmark and bid into Germany's reserve market, competing directly against coal and gas resources. (story)

Behind-the-meter German storage provider Sonnen is preparing for a surge in sales as consumers look to take advantage of seasonal negative pricing on the grid. At one point last May, prices were -€12.89 per megawatt-hour when a record 87 percent of the country’s 63 gigawatts of demand came from renewables, meaning consumers were effectively paid to take electricity off the system. (story)

Stateside, Sonnen's manufacturing plant in Atlanta, Georgia is now in operation. The company is capable of producing 200 units per month at the facility. (story)

GTM Statcast

For your consideration: the best energy stats from the week of April 24, 2017.

3 Years
Three years ago this month, New York state launched its Reforming Energy Vision (REV). On The Interchange podcast this week, Stephen Lacey and Shayle Kann sit down with Lisa Frantzis from Advanced Energy Economy to guide us through REV's implementation. (story)

One of REV's flagship projects -- the Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program -- has been hailed as an innovative demand management solution that will save local utility ConEdison hundreds of millions of dollars. However, not everyone is believing the hype. This week, a critic of the project makes his argument. (story)

15° Fahrenheit
The temperature in Dallas, Texas on the morning of March 3, 2014. That morning wholesale electric prices in ERCOT were $5,000 per megawatt-hour, more than 100 times the average price of electricity. This week, we look at how that cold day exposed the value of grid flexibility in ERCOT. (story)

7X Energy
The name of the Texas-based utility-scale solar developer that unveiled an innovative new financing mechanism this week dubbed solar block-and-index contracts. Jeff St. John reports on these one-of-a-kind contracts that the company claims will unlock megawatts of solar that wouldn’t otherwise have been built. (story)

The share of electricity in Hawaii that came from renewables in 2016, up 3 percent from 2015. The state is working to power its grid with 100 percent renewables by 2045. (story)

The price of a new DER and grid control server that Sempra Energy and OSIsoft joint venture, Pxise, debuted this week. (story)

$287 Billion
The total investment in cleantech in 2016, down 17 percent from 2015, according to Bloomberg New energy Finance. Katie Tweed attended the company's Future of Energy Global Summit this week and highlights numbers from the event's keynote presentation. (story)

Rick Perry also spoke there, and Katie Fehrenbacher had the details. (story)

↓ 9%
The decline in the number of cleantech patents filed in the U.S. each year from 2014 to 2016. New analysis from The Brooking Institution is raising concerns about the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. cleantech sector. (story)

The share of nuclear in France's power mix. On The Energy Gang this week, we look at France's Presidential election and the country's internal debate over nuclear power and Europe's larger energy trading market. (story)

The share of the global power mix that wind and solar will account for by 2040, according to new guidance from the Energy Transitions Commission, a group that includes representatives from Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Billiton, General Electric Oil and Gas, as well as leaders from prominent global banks, development organizations and climate-oriented NGOs. (story)