Trump solar panel tax likely won’t matter due to falling costs

Noah Smith on the Trump solar panel tax:

Because the U.S. now imports most of its panels, the import tax will probably hurt more American companies than it will help. But the overall impact is unlikely to be large because solar panel manufacturing costs have been dropping so fast that more expensive foreign imports will be merely a bump on the road. In 2017, a solar module producing one watt of power cost only around one-fifth of what it did in 2010:

There’s an interesting analysis of what lower manufacturing costs do to energy prices as a whole as well.

The tariff will create a number of less-obvious losers as well. Falling solar costs will eventually lower the price of electricity for U.S. companies — even when electricity users don’t switch to solar, lower costs can force natural gas, coal and nuclear plants to cut prices to remain competitive.

Cheaper electricity, in turn, gives American industry a boost. U.S. workers earn much higher salaries than workers in China and other developing countries, meaning that U.S. manufacturers can’t rely on cheap labor costs for their competitive advantage. Instead, they have to compete by having better technology and more capital equipment. This is why the shale-gas revolution was such a boon for U.S. manufacturers. Solar power promises to be even cheaper. Yet by slowing this process, solar tariffs could postpone the day when U.S. manufacturing comes back into its own.

via Trump’s Solar Tariff Is Bad, But Not a Huge Deal at Bloomberg.com

$GRID & Rise of Solar & Wind Energy [via Howard Lindzon]

Today, Gregor is out with a new series on the rise of Solar and Wind and if this interests you, I recommend spending a few dollars and downloading it.

The short version is as Gregor told me today… stick with $GRID.

via The Rise of Solar and Wind at Howard Lindzon

Bitcoin is 1000x less energy-efficient than credit cards

It’s hard to conceive how inefficient bitcoin is in terms of energy consumption:

An index from cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, aka Digiconomist, estimates that with prices the way they are now, it would be profitable for Bitcoin miners to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic puzzles to “mine” more Bitcoins. That’s about as much as Nigeria, a country of 186 million people, uses in a year.

And to put in terms more relatable to Americans:

Since the average American household consumes 901 KWh per month, each Bitcoin transfer represents enough energy to run a comfortable house, and everything in it, for nearly a week. On a larger scale, De Vries’ index shows that bitcoin miners worldwide could be using enough electricity to at any given time to power about 2.26 million American homes.

Included is a quote from De Vries:

“Blockchain is inefficient tech by design, as we create trust by building a system based on distrust. If you only trust yourself and a set of rules (the software), then you have to validate everything that happens against these rules yourself. That is the life of a blockchain node,” he said via direct message.

And lastly, award the eco-friendly category to credit cards:

But since Bitcoin is thousands of times less efficient per transaction than a credit card network, it will need to get thousands of times better.