Director’s Column: October 2017

The past year has been a very productive one for the Schatz Center, and I am grateful for all the good work that our team and partners have done to turn opportunities into successes.

Headshot of Arne Jacobson


Arne Jacobson, Schatz Director

I want to give special acknowledgement to everyone involved in the development and implementation of the Blue Lake Rancheria (BLR) Low-Carbon Community Scale Microgrid. The BLR Microgrid Project was funded by the California Energy Commission, with project leadership by the Schatz Center’s Dr. Peter Lehman (Principal Investigator), Dave Carter (project manager), and Jim Zoellick (co-project manager), in collaboration with the Blue Lake Rancheria’s Tribal Government and many technical partners.

This microgrid project is now a finalist for two award competitions, including the 2017 Platts Global Energy Awards (one of six finalists for the Commercial Application of the Year; the winners will be announced in New York City on December 7) and the Pennwell Projects of the Year Awards (one of three finalists for Best Renewable Project; the winners will be announced in Las Vegas on December 5). In addition, the Blue Lake Rancheria recently received the John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for which the microgrid was a contributing factor leading to the award. I congratulate the Rancheria, our team, and our partners for all their success so far, and my fingers are crossed for even more good news in December.

I would also like to discuss three key investments that we have been making to lay the foundation for future contributions to clean energy research and development. First, our success at the Schatz Center depends on the efforts and expertise of our faculty and professional staff. We have a talented and experienced team, and, over the past year, we have been fortunate to attract several key new members. On this front, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Nick Lam will be joining us soon as a Schatz Center Research Scientist. Nick specializes in energy access, indoor air quality, and environmental health, and he will play a leading role on our off-grid energy access team. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from U.C. Berkeley, and he is currently working as a post-doctoral research scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We are excited to welcome Nick to the Schatz Center.

In addition, we hired Maia Cheli this past March for a newly created position that includes media relations and coordination of the Schatz Center’s educational programs. Since joining, she has led an effort to revamp our website and expand our portfolio of public relations materials. Early next year, after the new website has gone live, she will turn some of her attention to development and implementation of our Center’s education and outreach activities. We are very happy to have Maia on our team, and we have already benefited greatly from her expertise and hard work.

Among faculty associated with the Center, Dr. Liza Boyle and Dr. Peter Alstone joined us in August 2016, and both are already making substantive contributions. Liza has engaged in proposal development and in research related to the effect of particulate deposition on solar arrays, including work with an engineering undergraduate student, Merissa Coello, that will lead to a journal publication. Peter has been involved in research on innovative new strategies for management of California’s electric grid. Peter is also the team lead for a new $1.5 million project funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) through their Solar+ program. Dr. Kevin Fingerman, who joined us in 2013, is the lead for a new $1 million CEC-funded project that involves developing tools for assessing the environmental impacts and benefits of biomass power plants in California. We are also very happy to welcome Dr. Sintana Vergara, who joined the Environmental Resources Engineering Department as an Assistant Professor this August and is already working with the Schatz Center team on a proposal for research involving measurement of methane emissions from biomass energy operations. As Director, it is exciting to see the growing contributions of new members as they work together with our existing team.

Second, we continue to expand opportunities for students at the Schatz Center. Since last fall, we have had 13 students working in paid positions and seven students supporting our efforts as volunteer docents. I would like to give a special welcome to students who have joined in the past few months, including undergraduates Bryce Baker, Jo Caminiti, Merissa Coello, Benjamin Kees Goldberg, Matilda Kerwin, Michael Malone, Murielle Manka, Eli Wallach, and Richard Williams, and graduate students Max Blasdel, Thalia Quinn, and Anamika Singh. Thalia and Anamika deserve special mention, as they are this year’s recipients of the Schatz Energy Fellowship and the Blue Lake Rancheria Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies, respectively.

I am pleased to announce that Andrea and Don Tuttle of Arcata are establishing the Donald and Andrea Tuttle Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies. This fellowship will provide $15,000 in funding to one incoming graduate student per year in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) or Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) options of the Environmental Systems Graduate Program. The fellowship is for one year with the potential to renew for a second year. The selected fellow will also receive a position to work at the Schatz Energy Research Center. Our heartfelt thanks go to Don and Andrea for their generous gift. At the Schatz Center, we are committed to expanding opportunities for students in the clean energy field as we work to develop a new generation of leaders, and support from partners like Andrea and Don Tuttle and the Blue Lake Rancheria help us greatly in making progress toward this goal.

Our third investment has been in a new 1,900 square foot “West Wing” addition, built to accommodate our growing staff and capabilities. Construction of the building is nearly complete, and we expect to move in by early December. The new facility will provide us with 14 new work stations, two offices, and a much needed second conference room. We are grateful for the generous support from Louis W. Schatz, Anne and David Katz, Peter and Carolyn Lehman, Christina and Jack West, Jamie Everett, and Joel Lehman, and grant funding from the California Energy Commission, who together made this project possible.

We are thankful to HSU Facilities Management (especially Mike Fisher and Garrett McSorley), Suarez-Kuehne Architecture, Adams Commercial General Contracting, and the many local contractors who made professional contributions to this project. Our new addition is a beautiful building that is well matched to our existing facility in both function and form, and we are excited to move in and get to work in it.

Goodbye until next time.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Mallik Angalakudati of PG&E on California’s Energy Future

We are pleased to welcome Mallik Angalakudati of PG&E as the next speaker in the Spring 2017 Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. Mallik will speak on Thursday, March 2 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in Founders Hall 118 (FH118) on the HSU campus. The title of his talk is “Changing Energy Landscape in California.”

Mallik Angalakudati serves as Vice President for Corporate Strategy at PG&E’s Corporation. In this role, Mallik works closely with PG&E senior leadership to develop utility and holding company strategies. Prior to this role, he oversaw investment planning, resource management, strategy, process and quality excellence and contract management functions as Vice President, Gas Business Performance Management. Mallik came to PG&E with more than 15 years’ experience in the energy industry.

Prior to joining PG&E, Mallik worked at National Grid in both operational as well as process leadership positions. His experience also includes management consulting and energy pricing and risk management. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, an MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina, and a BS in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. Mallik also earned an executive education certificate in Leading Change and Organizational Renewal from the Harvard Business School and a Master Blackbelt certification from the Villanova University. Mallik serves on the Operating Committee of MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program, Utility Analytics Institute Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of the School of Economics and Business Administration at St. Mary’s College.

California is going through a major electricity sector transition that involves a strong shift toward renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand management. PG&E has one of the cleanest electricity portfolios in the U.S. among major utilities, and it delivers more renewable power to customers than any other utility in the country. Mallik is at the forefront of PG&E strategic planning efforts, and his talk promises to provide key insights about California’s energy future.

A Message from the Director

AJ headshot 3As we move into autumn, I would like to take time to thank the SERC team and our many excellent project partners. We are in the midst of one of the busiest and most productive years in our history. The successes we have had are a result of the hard and good work of our stellar team and our collaborators.

Over the past year we have worked on over 20 projects involving more than 60 collaborators. This work spans four continents, including efforts in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria), Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, and China), Europe (UK, Netherlands, and Germany), and North America (USA). While I cannot thank each of our partners by name, several deserve special mention, including the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the Blue Lake Rancheria, Siemens, Pacific Gas and Electric, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Global LEAP, everyone from the BRDI/Waste to Wisdom team, and colleagues from the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global, Lighting Africa, and Lighting Asia programs.

As you can imagine, our team has been very busy. While everyone has pulled their weight and more, special thanks are due in several areas. First, our operations and administrative team, led by Allison Hansberry, has worked tirelessly to keep everything moving forward effectively. I give my sincere gratitude for their efforts and good work. Second, SERC’s project managers have managed substantial responsibility with grace and poise. Dave Carter, Jim Zoellick, Jerome Carman, and Meg Harper merit special thanks for carrying heavy project management loads in difficult circumstances. Third, Steve Karp and his team at the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation deserve credit for all the support they provide during both the pre- and post-award periods. We all appreciate their efforts; we could not succeed without them. Fourth, the SERC Advisory Board has helped us immensely through input that ranges from strategic guidance to networking support. Their assistance has been invaluable. Fifth, I want to thank everyone on the SERC team who has stepped up and helped with fundraising and proposal writing over the past few months, despite all the other work on their collective plates. While many have contributed, several people in particular have played leadership roles in this push, including Peter Lehman, Kevin Fingerman, Jim Zoellick, Jerome Carman, Meg Harper, Richa Goyal, and Mark Severy. I also want to thank all of the agencies that have supported our work over the past year. Here, the California Energy Commission, International Finance Corporation, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Energy merit special mention for being among our leading funders.

I will close with some staff transitions. First, I am pleased to welcome our new faculty members; Peter Alstone and Liza Boyle joined us in August. Peter has a joint appointment between SERC and the Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) Department, while Liza is a Faculty Research Associate at SERC and a member of the ERE Department. Both are already engaged in activities at SERC, and we look forward to much more of their involvement going forward. I am also pleased to welcome Scott Toyama, Jimento Aikhuele, and Steve Shoemaker to the SERC team. Scott joined in May as a full-time engineering technician in our off-grid solar laboratory. Jimento and Steve are incoming graduate students in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) master’s program. Jimento is this year’s recipient of the Schatz Energy Fellowship, while Steve is the first recipient of the Blue Lake Rancheria Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies. It is great to have them both on board (and thank you again to the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe for establishing the fellowship).

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank people who have moved on from SERC to other endeavors. These include Malini Kannan, Janoah Osborne, Ga Rick Lee, Greg Pfotenhauer, and Lukas Kennedy; they each made great contributions over the past few years to SERC’s work related to off-grid solar, clean transportation, and/or biomass energy. I am also grateful to Asif Hassan, Jayati Thakor, Steve Harrison, Emily Klee, and Rich Williams, all of whom worked for us as students, for their efforts on projects related to off-grid energy access and biomass energy. Richa Goyal, who has been with us at SERC as a visiting scholar for the past year and a half, has moved back to India. Fortunately for us, she will continue to work with us as a consultant going forward. Finally, a very special thank you is due to Mark Rocheleau, who retired from SERC in June after 24 years of dedicated service. All of these good people are greatly missed, but we are excited about all the good things that they are doing out in the world.

Goodbye until next time.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Alex Eaton on Energy Production from Farm Waste in Latin America

alexeaton_dragon_revWe are pleased to welcome Alex Eaton, CEO of Sistema Biobolsa and an HSU alumnus, as the next speaker in the Fall 2016 Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. Alex will speak on Thursday, October 13 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in the Art B building, room 102 on the HSU campus. The title of his talk is “Waste to Energy to Market.”

Alex Eaton is the co-founder and CEO of Sistema Biobolsa, a company that fabricates, distributes, finances and services small-scale biogas systems in Latin America. Based in Mexico, the company is currently growing into new markets. Alex is also the co-founder of the Latin America Biogas Network and the Mexico Biogas Program of the International Renewable Resources Institute. He has been supported in his work as an Ashoka Fellow and Switzer Environmental Leadership Fellow and through the USDA, US EPA, and the Mexican government. Alex has a BA in journalism from Western State College of Colorado and an MS from the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) master’s program at Humboldt State University, where his master’s thesis focused on the development of the Sistema Biobolsa concept.

As we work to increase energy access and to mitigate climate change, we need creative, cost effective solutions to thousands of different energy problems. Sistema Biobolsa represents a highly innovative and successful effort that simultaneously increases access to affordable energy for low income farmers, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and provides additional benefits such as high quality fertilizer. In his talk, Alex will tell the story of how he helped build a successful business around the Sistema Biobolsa concept from work that he started while he was pursuing his master’s degree here at HSU. The talk should be interesting and engaging, and we encourage you to attend. Please forward this message on to others who may be interested.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Andy Baker on Ocean Source Heat Energy

We are pleased to announce Andy Baker, an energy consultant from Anchorage Alaska, as the next speaker in the Fall 2016 Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. Andy will speak on Thursday, October 6 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in the Art B building, room 102 on the HSU campus. The title of his talk is “Saved By The Gyres: Ocean Source Heat Pumps Cut Heating Costs and CO2 Emissions in Coastal Alaska Cities.”

Andy Baker is a registered professional engineer in Alaska and owner of YourCleanEnergy consulting in Anchorage. He has lived and worked in Alaska since 1998 and has focused for the past twelve years on identifying and designing cost effective renewable energy systems for commercial, municipal, and community clients. Andy has a bachelor of science in environmental engineering from Penn State University. He has worked previously as a project engineer for Buchart-Horn in Pennsylvania; Black & Veatch in San Diego, Lusaka, and Boston; and for HDR Alaska in Anchorage.

Andy’s work focus since 2009 has been on ocean source heat pumps systems for large facilities and district heating in coastal Alaska. He has worked with the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward for the past seven years to evaluate, design and monitor a large sea water heat pump system that has now effectively replaced 98% of local fossil fuel use with ocean source heat pumps. This high profile demonstration project combines the science of ocean gyres and an innovative heating system to produce a clean energy solution that has exciting implications for many northern coastal cities of the world.

The talk should be a very interesting one, and we encourage you to attend.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Sharon Kramer of H.T. Harvey to Speak on Wave Energy and the Environment

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Sharon Kramer of H.T. Harvey & Associates to campus as the first speaker in the Fall 2016 Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. Sharon will speak on Thursday, September 15 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in the Art B building, room 102 on the HSU campus. The Art B building is located just to the east of the Van Duzer Theater. The title of her talk is “State of the Science on Environmental Issues and Marine Renewable Energy.”

Dr. Sharon Kramer is a principal at H. T. Harvey & Associates, and she heads its North Coast office and the Fish and Aquatic Ecology team. She has more than 25 years of experience in aquatic ecology and fisheries biology in the Pacific Northwest, California, Australia, and Hawai‘i. Sharon is well-versed in fish and aquatic habitat restoration and monitoring and project permitting, with extensive federal Endangered Species Act work. Her most recent focus has involved assessing and mitigating the environmental effects associated with marine renewable energy projects. Sharon has a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, and a B.A. in Aquatic Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Marine renewable energy, including wave energy and off-shore wind power, has great potential to contribute to the production of clean energy over the coming decades. Our region, including sites offshore along the California Coast north of Cape Mendocino and the Oregon Coast, has perhaps the best wave and off-shore wind resource potential in the continental United States. While the resource is excellent, challenges must be overcome to create reliable, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable marine renewable energy systems. Sharon has been a central player in efforts to address these challenges, with a focus on monitoring and addressing environmental issues associated with off-shore renewable energy systems. Her talk should be a very interesting and engaging one, and we encourage you to attend.

 

A Message from the Director

We are pleased to welcome two new faculty members to SERC and the Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) Department. We recently received confirmation that Peter Alstone and Liza Boyle accepted the tenure track positions that were offered to them. They will bring new ideas and dynamism to the ERE Department and SERC, and we are excited to have them join us.

Peter completed a PhD in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley this past fall, and is currently a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is an alumnus of SERC and has an MS from HSU (ERE option of the Environmental Systems graduate program). His bachelor’s degree is in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University. Peter’s dissertation examined the role that information technology is playing in enabling the expanded use of clean energy, and his dissertation revolved around a case study of the off-grid solar market in Kenya. His postdoc work at LBNL involves analysis to estimate the potential for demand response on California’s electrical grid. The work is being used by the California Public Utilities Commission to set state policy related to demand response and grid integration of renewable energy. Peter’s position at HSU is a joint appointment, with responsibilities at SERC (40% of his time) and the ERE Department (60%).

Liza also finished her doctorate in the fall of 2015. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. She has MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from CU Boulder and the University of the Pacific, respectively. Liza’s dissertation focused on the effect of soiling due to particulate deposition on the performance of solar photovoltaic arrays. The work involved experimental measurements and statistical analysis aimed at identifying factors that affect array performance. In conducting the research, Liza drew from her expertise in solar energy and air quality. The work is intended to lay the foundation for the development of tools to help commercial solar operators optimize power production and operations costs for their arrays. Liza’s faculty position in the ERE department puts her in a good position to engage in research through SERC, and we look forward to collaborating with her when she joins us here at HSU.

In other SERC news, we are happy to welcome Kim Thorpe as a new staff member. She is working on our energy access projects. We have also remained very busy with project work, and are engaging closely with the HSU planning department and an architectural firm as they work to design a 1900 square foot addition for SERC.

Goodbye until next time.

A Message from the Director

Christie Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the technology showcase during the White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access in Washington, DC.

Christie Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the technology showcase during the White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access in Washington, DC.

Hello from Washington, DC, where I just attended the White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access. The session involved a lively round table forum with participation from government, industry, investors, foundations, and development agencies. It also included a technology showcase attended by high-level administration officials. It is exciting to see off-grid energy access receive this attention. The fact that the event was held is a testament to the growing recognition of the linkage between energy access and poverty alleviation and to the recent growth of the off-grid solar sector.

Round Table Discussion in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access in Washington, DC.

Round Table Discussion in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House Forum on Catalyzing Markets for Off-Grid Clean Energy Access in Washington, DC.

I am now headed to Dubai for the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition, which will be attended by over 450 delegates from around the world. SERC will be well represented at the conference, with three current staff members and three SERC alumni joining me at the event. Our collective work will be featured at the conference, including presentations on quality assurance for off-grid solar, the market implications of key technology advances in the sector, and the role of super-efficient DC appliances in enabling cost reductions for off-grid products. It will be a busy week.

Back at SERC, we have been busy on a number of fronts, including the kickoff of our microgrid collaboration, the Waste-to-Wisdom biomass project, and a host of clean transportation efforts. Over the past few months, we also added six new team members, including Pramod Singh, Steve Harrison, Jake Rada, Julie Groff, Lukas Kennedy, and Jeff Mosbacher. I am very pleased to be able to welcome them to SERC.

Goodbye until next time.

A Message from the Director

AJ headshot 3As we celebrate our 26th year here at SERC, we are taking stock and looking toward the future. As part of this effort, we recently held our fourth all-team retreat (our prior retreats were held in 2003, 2008, and 2012). Our goals for this retreat were to review and refine SERC’s five-year strategic plan. The session was a productive one, and I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and passion of our team. I give my thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated.

Our work portfolio has grown rapidly over the past few years, and our staff and expenses have grown with it. In our strategic plan we identified three key challenges. First, we need to manage our finances carefully as we grow to ensure that we can cover our overhead costs along with our project costs. Second, we must increase the size of our team in proportion to our workload and budget; here, we should focus especially on bringing in new faculty principal investigators and project managers. Third, we need adequate space to carry out our work.

Fortunately, we are making progress in all three of these areas. We added two members to our professional staff: Jerome Carman, who will focus (at least initially) on our clean transportation work, and Greg Pfotenhauer, who works on our biomass and off-grid energy access projects. We also hired several HSU students, including Andy Eggink, Yaad Rana, Jason McMack, and Jayati Thakor. In addition, Anna Partridge, an engineering student from Smith College and a student of Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) alum Denise McKahn, is working with us over the summer. I am very pleased to welcome all of them to our team. Finally, as noted in another article, SERC and the HSU ERE department will jointly conduct a search for a faculty member with responsibilities split between the department and our Center. Applications are due on October 30 of this year. We hope that this will be the first of several new research faculty hires over the coming years.

We have taken two steps to increase our physical space. First, we are investing in an approximately 1900 ft2 expansion that will sit to the west of our existing building. This addition is scheduled to be completed by August 2016 and will have space for eight open office workstations, two enclosed offices, a meeting room, and some flexible use work space. We also recently remodeled a 200 ft2 room at SERC. In the near term, the room will house four staff and student workstations. This room will be converted to dedicated laboratory space once the expansion is complete.

In the mean time, our projects continue to keep us very busy. Happy summer solstice, and goodbye until next time.

A Message from the Director

AJ headshot 3I spent much of the month of March traveling for project-related work. The travel included time in Africa (Ethiopia), Europe (Germany), and Asia (India and Bangladesh). Much of my attention during this time was on projects that have a strong solar energy dimension. I therefore would like to use this column to reflect on a few revealing trends and numbers related to the solar energy sector in these places and here at home in California.

I will start in Sub Saharan Africa, where sales of quality assured pico-solar products (i.e. off-grid solar products with a solar module smaller than 10 peak watts) have exceeded 7.5 million units over the past five years. Although we do not have detailed data for sales elsewhere in the world, the limited information that we do have about sales in Asia makes it clear that global sales during this period were well above 10 million units. While the adoption rates represented by these sales numbers still constitute only a small fraction of the over one billion people globally who do not have access to grid electricity, they do indicate that pico-solar systems are beginning to represent a real alternative for providing services such as electric lighting and mobile phone charging.

The rapid growth of pico-solar use for lighting and mobile phone charging has been enabled by a few key trends. On the technology front, declining prices and rising efficiency (or, more properly, rising lumen efficacy) for light emitting diodes (LEDs) have helped reduce the cost and improve the performance of pico-solar lighting systems. Falling prices for solar modules and lithium iron phosphate batteries have also been important, along with innovative business strategies for distribution and sales of pico-solar products. In addition, measures taken to support market development and to ensure product quality by programs such as Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia, and Lighting Global have helped enable expanded use of pico-solar technology.

In Bangladesh, pico-solar use is still at an early stage, but the market for larger solar home systems, most of which have solar modules ranging from about 20 to 60 peak watts, is the largest in the world. Over the past decade, over 3.5 million solar home systems have been sold in Bangladesh through the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) program. In 2014, sales through the IDCOL framework averaged sixty thousand systems per month. This innovative and successful program builds on Bangladesh’s existing micro-lending financial institutions to enable sales of household solar systems to rural families under reasonably favorable loan terms. Going forward, solar home systems markets in Bangladesh and elsewhere stand to benefit from increased availability of super-efficient direct current (DC) appliances and sales models that utilize mobile banking and other forms of information and communication technology to help make solar systems more affordable.

SERC continues to contribute to development of the off-grid solar sector by leading implementation of the Lighting Global quality assurance program. As noted in Meg Harper’s article, we are currently collaborating with colleagues from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany to expand the existing quality assurance framework, which focuses on pico-solar products, to include larger solar home system kits (i.e. systems with solar modules rated at up to 100 peak watts). While the focus of our visit to Germany was on off-grid solar, the topic of grid-based solar use came up regularly. Germany has been a leader in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology adoption, in large part due to aggressive government policies in support of the sector. In 2014, Germany generated 6.9% of its electricity from solar PV systems, and on a few particular days more than 50% of its electricity came from solar power. However, in the last few years, Germany has reduced its support for adoption of solar PV, and sales have dropped rapidly from their peak of 7.6 GW of installed capacity in 2012 to about 3 GW in 2014. Nonetheless, we all owe Germany for their leadership in generating demand for solar and therefore in helping to reduce the cost of PV modules and associated equipment. The precipitous decline in solar module prices over the past decade is due in no small part to Germany’s aggressive pro-PV policies during that period.

Back at home in California, solar PV utilization continues to grow. In 2014, solar technology accounted for over 5% of electricity generation, up sharply from about 2% in 2013. As we work to support continued development of the solar industry across all of these countries, we should seek to ensure a positive and stable regulatory and market environment wherever possible.

Goodbye until next time.