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Energy

Customers are enraged by Tesla’s solar roof price hikes

Tesla has been selling solar roofs since 2016, but the journey has not been simple. Clients who registered for Elon Musk’s pricey solar alternative have been complaining of significant price hikes since signing contracts. In certain situations, the premium increases are more than twice what the consumer wanted to pay initially. Although Tesla hasn’t stated why the price has risen, updates to the company’s website say it’s due to the expense of installing on the complicated roofs.

Installing solar panels on the home’s roof is a simple way to take advantage of the sun’s free electricity, but the panels are not cheap. Yeah, the solar roof is expensive. However, you still get a new roof, according to Tesla’s pitch. Anyone who has had to replace a roof on the house will attest to the fact that it is not inexpensive. If you need both a roof as well as solar panels, a solar roof might be a good option, but with Tesla’s latest pricing, the value is not quite as good.

According to The Verge, one Tesla client decided to spend $35,000 for the solar roof installation as well as another $30,000 for the Power Wall batteries at first. Tesla just sent out a “terse note” stating that a new deal will be mailed in the coming weeks. The customer was taken aback when he saw his purchase price had more than risen to $75,000. Meanwhile, according to Ars Technica, a reader was advised that installing a solar roof would cost about $66,000, but Tesla now needs an extra $21,000 for the idea.

Tesla, of course, cannot force others to pay the higher rates. Customers will cancel their orders if they do not want to sign the new deal. Tesla claims that all deposits made on the project would be refunded in full. The wide range of roof designs available seems to be the source of the price increase. The company’s online configurator has been revised to provide queries about “roof difficulty.” According to the website, installing a single solar roof is much simpler than one with several joints, pitch adjustments, chimneys, and other elements. These more complex configurations necessitate more time and materials, so Tesla’s rates are higher from the start.

It would be nice if Tesla kept to the offers it made before changing its pricing; however, this comes after many years of cutting rates in order to entice more consumers to buy. Tesla has been bragging about its solar deployments but hasn’t provided any figures. It should simply have calculated the true cost of installing these devices.

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Space

Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin have been chosen by DARPA to design a spaceship for a nuclear propulsion demonstration

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency revealed on April 12 that Blue Origin, as well as Lockheed Martin, had been chosen to build rival spacecraft designs for a demo of the nuclear thermal propulsion. DARPA plans to show nuclear thermal propulsion technologies — utilizing a nuclear reactor to be able to heat rocket fuel to produce thrust — as part of a program named DRACO, which stands for demo rocket for the agile cislunar activities.

General Atomics was given a $22 million deal by DARPA to build the nuclear reactor. The contract with Lockheed Martin is worth $2.9 million, while the contract with Blue Origin is worth $2.5 million. The program aims to deploy a nuclear-thermal-propelled spacecraft above the low Earth orbit in the year 2025. DARPA claims that this research would enable spacecraft to fly vast distances in a short amount of time.

“Rapid maneuvering in space has historically been difficult due to modern electric as well as chemical space propulsion technologies’ thrust-to-weight and also propellent performance drawbacks,” stated DRACO program manager Maj Nathan Greiner.

Nuclear thermal propulsion “has the ability to achieve strong thrust-to-weight ratios comparable to the in-space chemical propulsion and also to approach the high propellant performance of sselectric systems,” he added. The project’s first 18 months would be spent focusing on General Atomics’ reactor as well as propulsion subsystem principles. Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin would build spacecraft project designs separately in the second process.

“We are excited to assist DARPA in progressing spacecraft designs for this critical technology area,” stated Brent Sherwood. He works as a senior vice president in charge of the advanced development programs at the Blue Origin in response to SpaceNews.

Nuclear thermal propulsion is an “impactful technology that can radically improve the way spacecraft work, increasing agility and enabling more reliable flight to Mars and even beyond in much less time than traditional propulsion systems,” according to Bill Pratt, the manager in charge of human exploration advanced projects at Lockheed Martin Space. According to DARPA, electric and chemical propulsion systems are currently in operation in space; however, other options will be needed for potential exploration outside Earth’s orbit. “The DRACO program aims to create a novel nuclear thermal propulsion system. Unlike current propulsion technologies, NTP can achieve strong thrust-to-weight ratios that are comparable to chemical propulsion, however with two to about five times the performance.’

According to DARPA, monitoring cislunar space – the amount of space between the Moon and earth – would necessitate a “breakthrough in propulsion technology.” On-orbit, the DRACO program would try to show a nuclear thermal propulsion device. To generate thrust, a nuclear reactor heats propellant to high temperatures before expelling it via a nozzle. In a tweet, Pratt said the firm would build on previous decades’ experience on nuclear propulsion “while we integrate it with computer innovation, advanced spacecraft architecture, and imagination to advance this emerging capability.”

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Space

To close Vermont’s digital divide, a broadband plan will use a satellite service

Proponents of a proposal that would focus in part on multi-billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service presented their argument for a faster workaround Monday, claiming the state’s digital gap can’t wait for the fiber-optic connectivity to be built out. Speakers like Broadband Equity Now coalition’s Tom Evslin and Senator Randy Brock, R-Franklin, a key proponent of a broadband bill which the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday will hear, stated Vermont absolutely could not wait for the 5 years it would take to create a fiber-optic network.

According to the alliance, 35% of Vermonters reside in places where high-speed internet is out of reach, and 15% live in places where there is no coverage at all. Both agreed that taking advantage of millions of federal high-speed internet dollars is critical to closing the state’s digital divide for schools, new people who choose to telecommute, and telemedicine. According to Brock, the issue must be treated in terms of how it impacts individuals. “We expend a great deal of time discussing technologies. What’s crucial to remember is that much of the advancement in the world is worthless until it’s affordable,” Brock said. According to Evslin, the proposal will make around 50,000 Vermonters liable for assistance.

The initiative advocates creating a “Broadband Corps” to assist underserved Vermonters in getting connected to service. It suggests spending $26 million in state funds to subsidize start-up expenses, hold monthly bills for eligible households under $25, and create the Broadband Corps. The plan will also allow Starlink’s usage, a satellite internet service that Elon Musk’s SpaceX business is launching. The service is currently in beta tests, and it’s causing controversy because Musk plans to use the profits to finance his ambitious Mars project.

Christine Hallquist, a retired utility executive who now leads the 32-town NEK Broadband Communications District, has utilized the service and believes it is “not prepared for prime time.” Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Windham-Bennington, has stated that she has “less than zero” confidence in the state contracting with a private firm that is not accountable to Vermonters. However, Evslin stressed that the state would not be throwing all of its eggs in Starlink’s bowl but rather seizing the chance to fix the dilemma as soon as possible.

“The argument isn’t that fiber is stronger than Starlink. The argument is that getting Starlink is preferable to not having broadband, according to Evslin. Three factors set this program apart from previous broadband programs, according to Evslin: Advances of infrastructure “that helps one to get to the end of the road without necessary digging up the center of the lane”; a supply of federal funding; and increased state oversight regarding the usage of emergency funds are all on the table. Brock’s measure, S. 118, has a lot in common with the H. 360, the House’s broadband plan from last month. On the other hand, the Senate bill is less based on Communications Union Districts (CUDs) than the House bill. It does not need internet service providers to partner with CUDs if they received loan funds.

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Energy

Executives from the energy industry have formed NuQuest Energy, a new company that will build utility-scale renewable energy ventures in the United States

NuQuest Energy LLC, a utility-scale solar energy manufacturing corporation undertaking ventures in the United States, was formed today by four prominent energy industry executives and early-stage investors. To be an industry-leading renewables production firm, the company plans to use its vast expertise in manufacturing, procurement, design, financing, land lease, environmental, project management, and operations.

“We’re adamant that our combined strengths will boost NuQuest Energy’s development and drive meaningful commercial and renewable environmental energy outcomes,” Kirk Barrell, NuQuest Co-Founder, stated. We are excited to develop a broad portfolio of clean energy and storage facilities that are both environmentally sound and profitable for all parties.

Denis Taylor, who serves as the Co-Founder & Partner at Audubon Companies, LLC; Bob Rosamond, who serves as the Co-Founder & Partner at Audubon Companies, LLC; as well as Alex Guitart, who is a Founder & President at New Orleans Land & Title Company, LLC are among the industry executives who will join Mr Barrell. The four co-founders do have a combined history of over 120 years in the electricity infrastructure market. This partnership seeks to provide transformative technologies that advance green infrastructure growth by leveraging each partner’s business expertise.

Bob Rosamond, CEO of NuQuest Energy, said, “NuQuest Energy shares Audubon Companies’ contribution to creating a more competitive renewable energy future.” “The recently founded business complements our existing range of decarbonization strategies and provides another mitigation tool for citizens now and potential generations to reduce their carbon footprint.” Alex Guitart, NuQuest Co-Founder, stated, “Our co-founding team has a strong tradition of achieving great results for our landowners as well as corporate customers.” “By focusing on technologies, we would be able to improve our site selection phase and ensure project success.”

TerraVoltTM, the firm’s patented site-selection method, combines power grid analyses, GIS, as well as predictive analytics. “Our proprietary technical system draws on decades of mapping as well as analytics expertise to identify high-quality renewable energy production sites,” Barrell said. NuQuest Energy, LLC is a clean energy construction firm with a goal of assembling and building a comprehensive portfolio of utility, manufacturing, and business ventures throughout the United States, with a current emphasis on Louisiana, Texas, as well as Mississippi. To create a powerful, scalable renewables portfolio, the organization draws on its established partnerships and project delivery expertise.

NuQuest Energy, LLC “develops to own,” which means that all of our ventures are given our full attention from start to finish, ensuring that our partners are satisfied. The corporation employs a patented technical framework that allows it to choose advanced renewables sites, increasing the likelihood of project completion and providing a major competitive edge.

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Energy

ComfortDelGro joins hands with Engie to bid for a pilot tender to install EV charging points in Singapore

Singapore public-traded transport company, ComfortDelGro has partnered with French energy firm, Engie to jointly bid for a pilot tender by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Land Transport Authority. The tender seeks to install about 600 electric vehicles (EV) charging points across public car parks in Singapore. In a press release by the two companies on March 31, 2021, this collaboration will “explore and deploy clean energy solutions together.”

The project has attracted other bidders such as Shell and seeks to expand Singapore’s charging network. According to the press statement, the winning bidder will be responsible for installing and operating more than six hundred EV charging stations across two hundred public parks in the Asian country. The parks include those in community centers, public places, housing estates, and industrial places.

“The launch of the pilot tender marks a significant milestone in the expansion of Singapore’s public car park charging network. Data and insights obtained from this pilot tender will help to shape the design and phasing of future tenders, which will be issued in batches over the coming year,” said both companies in a statement. Once the bid’s winners are commissioned, the charging network is expected to be up and running by the third quarter of 2022.

The media report also noted that this partnership would install renewable energy charging farms on ComfortDelGro’s facilities to deliver “fast charging solutions to its cabbies and public use.” Engie is a multinational electric utility company headquartered in La Defense, France. It has offices in several regions, including Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. “[We are] taking transformation strides in advancing Singapore’s green mobility agenda to establish a strong and reliable green EV charging network to bolster EV adoption through the partnership,” said Thomas Baudlot, Engie Southeast Asia, chief executive officer.

ComfortDelGro recently unveiled a clean energy plan aimed at advancing renewable power technology and research. In the inaugural S$50 million, the firm will fund Singapore’s shift to electrified transport and other initiatives, including scaling energy efficiency and adopting cleaner power sources in the next half-decade. “Sustainability has become a key pillar of our foundation and one that we intend to build on going forward,” noted ComfortDelGro CEO Yang Ban Seng.

“Our partnership with Engie is another step in that direction as we hope to offer our expertise in the areas of EV charging and drive the adoption of clean energy solutions in the local transport industry,” added Seng. The Singapore administration is expanding the EV charging network in readiness for the increasing sale of battery-powered vehicles. By 2030, the government aims to install sixty thousand charging points across the nation. Sixty-six percent of these charging stations will be rolled out in public parks, and the remaining thirty-four percent will be built in private premises.

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Space

Inmarsat has filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government over the 3.5 GHz auction scheme

The Dutch government‘s decision to sell 3.5 GHz bandwidth that Inmarsat utilizes for maritime protection facilities has caused the British satellite provider to consider legal action. The London-based firm said it would ask a judge to rule about whether the move to auction the spectrum to terrestrial 5G networks next year is legitimate. Inmarsat, which offers satellite-based protection and distress facilities for seafarers as well as aviation travellers, will be forced to relocate a ground station in Burum, in the northern Netherlands, if telecom carriers were given direct access to the frequencies.

“Inmarsat uses around 25% of 3.5 GHz band for protection services, and our technological tests have demonstrated that we can coexist with 5G in the region,” stated an Inmarsat official. “As a result, the question is not whether Inmarsat’s protection and disturbance services or 5G should be used in the Northern Netherlands, but rather what steps should be taken to enable Inmarsat’s services as well as 5G to coexist. As a result, the Dutch government’s proposal that we relocate this portion of our activities from Burum is superfluous.”

The operator has a second ground station within this region of the world, in Fucino, Italy, however says two are required to ensure high accuracy and availability. “Every day, approximately 1.6 million citizens and 160,000 ships across the world rely on Inmarsat’s operation, and hence on the ground station situated in Burum, for their protection as well as distress communications,” the official continued.

Inmarsat announced on March 29 that it would request an injunction in a civil court in the Netherlands to investigate the Dutch government’s plan. The satellite operator confirmed that it has been working to negotiate an understanding for over 18 months. Before this article was released, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy was unavailable to respond.

In 2020, the Netherlands delivered the first batch of 5G-ready bandwidth in the 700 MHz, 1.4 GHz, as well as 2.1 GHz bands, lagging behind other European nations.  KPN, VodafoneZiggo, as well as T-Mobile, both of which are based in the Netherlands, invested a total of €1.23 billion ($1.45 billion) on the frequencies, which would help them satisfy the rising demand for mobile data.

The country’s government has stated that the 3.5 GHz frequencies would be auctioned in early 2022, allowing telecom carriers to begin using their latest spectrum licenses in September of that year. Inmarsat, on the other side, slammed this timeframe as impractical, arguing that shifting the frequencies would necessitate a lengthy transition phase. Because of its experience as an intergovernmental agency established in the 1970s, the satellite provider offers its maritime protection services to customers at no cost.

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Space

36 further OneWeb satellites are launched by Arianespace

On March 25, Arianespace effectively deployed another batch of 36 satellites for the low-earth-orbit broadband provider OneWeb, taking the cumulative number of satellites in orbit to about 146. OneWeb has established communication with every satellite after it detached from the Soyuz-2.1b rocket, which launched at 10:47 p.m. Eastern from Russia’s newest launch site, Vostochny Cosmodrome. The satellites were launched in nine batches over almost four hours from the rocket’s Fregat upper stage. The mission is OneWeb’s second under its current shareholders, the British government, as well as Indian telecom firm Bharti Global, who purchased the firm out of bankruptcy on November 20.

It is the second of 5 deployments OneWeb aims to complete by June to reach all of the latitudes north of 50 degrees. Northern Europe, Greenland, Alaska, Iceland, the Arctic Seas, and Canada will also be included in the coverage region. OneWeb’s head of government, policy, and interaction, Chris McLaughlin, stated the target is the company’s first benchmark for its new shareholders. In a conversation with SpaceNews, McLaughlin said, “With the main shareholder in [the British government], this trajectory through to roughly June is of special emotive significance.”

Commercial operation will not begin until late 2021; he claims that achieving the June launch date is crucial in stressing the acquisition’s logic and importance to the British public. Following Brexit, the United Kingdom has defined room as one of the sectors in which it needs to extend its domestic manufacturing capability. OneWeb, according to McLaughlin, would also boost the country’s status within the Five Eyes countries, which comprise Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, as well as New Zealand.

U.K. Company Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stated in a statement released after OneWeb’s March 25 deployment, “This latest deployment is just another boost for OneWeb as well as their ambitious efforts to link citizens and companies across the world to quick and secure broadband.” Our funding for OneWeb places the U.K. at the cutting edge in space technologies and shows our contribution to increasing the country’s strategic advantage in this field.”

In 2022, OneWeb aims to deploy a 648-strong constellation to offer national high-speed, low-latency networking services. The COVID-19 pandemic, which McLaughlin said is still wreaking havoc on supply chains, could derail plans to deploy three more sets of satellites before June’s completion. “I think we’re in decent shape,” he said, “but everybody in the sector is attempting to balance the complexities of operating as we are right now, as well as the aspects in which machinery must deliver on schedule to be installed, among other things.”

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Space

The smallsat rideshare mission has been launched by Rocket Lab

On March 22, Rocket Lab deployed six smallsats for a range of commercial as well as government users, as well as demonstrating the efficiency of its smallsat bus. At 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the firm’s Electron rocket took off from the Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. After a 40-minute coast, the rocket launched its kick stage 8.5 minutes after the liftoff and ignited its Curie engine for almost two minutes. It launched five payloads into the 550-kilometer circular orbit tilted at 45 degrees four minutes later.

One hour and 49 minutes after the liftoff, the kick stage ignited its Curie engine two more times before launching the sixth payload into the 450-kilometer orbit. A Gen-2 satellite for the satellite imaging business BlackSky, the seventh in the sequence of satellites that offers high-resolution imagery, was really the largest payload on the mission. It was Spaceflight that planned for the spacecraft to be placed into a lower orbit.

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems developed two 6U cubesats for two different Australian firms building internet-of-things satellite constellations: the Myriota 7 for Myriota as well as Centauri 3 for Fleet. Centauri 3 would validate technology for a potential lunar smallsat project being investigated by a consortium of Australian firms, in addition to offering internet-of-things services.

Gunsmoke-J, which is a 3U cubesat produced by the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and launched by TriSept, which is a 1U tech demonstration satellite by Care Weather Technologies, as well as M2, which is a 12U spacecraft from the University of New South Wales Canberra Space which is planned to break into two 6U satellites, were the other 3-satellites.

The Gunsmoke-J satellite drew the most interest and criticism in New Zealand. Some groups were worried that the US military might use the satellite to attack missiles, especially nuclear weapons. These organizations, as well as New Zealand’s Eco Party, also urged the government to withdraw the New Zealand Space Agency’s permits for Gunsmoke-J as well as other US military payloads.

Gunsmoke-J is a presentation of technology “that could support the land force leader in precise long-range fires and other activities,” according to the SMDC. The satellite would demonstrate its capacity to provide images to troops on the ground. The New Zealand administration did not halt the launch.

The mission would also test the company’s Photon satellite bus, that is centered on the kick point, in addition to deploying the six satellites. Since the deployment of the Photon’s “First Light” project in 2020 August, the “Photon Pathstone” will become the second such analysis. According to the group, the tests would evaluate systems required for NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar smallsat flight, which is scheduled to deploy later this year.

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Energy

Luminar partners with Chinese SAIC Motors to supply the EV maker with laser lidar sensors

Silicon Valley startup, Luminar, has won a contract to supply high-tech laser sensors and software to SAIC Motors, an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer based in Shanghai, China. These lasers will be used in the Asian firm’s battery-powered R brand vehicles set to hit the road in 2022. The EVs will be self-driving, and the laser technology will come in handy to detect obstacles ahead.

The California startup, founded by the 26-year old billionaire, Austin Russell, will open an office in China to support this project. The Iris lidar will be installed in the autonomous cars alongside the Sentinel software for a flawless self-driving experience and automated safety capabilities. Luminar says this collaboration will be the first self-driven car production in China. “This is really our foray into China-and it won’t be the last. From a commercial standpoint, this is definitely the most significant event we’ve had in a year since Volvo,” said Russell.

Luminar has worked with big names in the auto sector since its establishment. In May 2020, the firm strike a deal with Volvo to supply sensors and software for automated passenger vehicles. Besides, Daimler Truck AG tagged the startup in its truck production to realize automated trucking and acquired a minority stake in the firm. The global leader in automotive lidar hardware and software gained significant returns in 2020 thanks to the sale of lidar sensors to automotive test fleets that earned approximately $ 14 million. According to its quarterly results report as a public company this year, Luminar was valued at $1.3 billion without the SAIC contract.

Lidar technology can be used during the day and night to enable an autonomous vehicle to detect obstacles in a 3-D view. Luminar uses a single laser beam technology. Unlike the multiple laser technology used by laser tech pioneer Velodyne, Luminar’s technology requires little energy to operate.

The lidar technology is a primary component of the autonomous car’s hardware, working together with cameras, radar, and servers. According to Luminar, the Iris lidar detects objects 250 meters ahead of a vehicle traveling at highway speed. This technology costs between $500 and $1,000.

SAIC Motors looks forward to this collaboration, saying it will enable them to realize their self-driving car goals. “Our new R brand line of vehicles will combine the best technology with luxury and comfort, and autonomous capabilities are central to that vision. The only autonomous vehicle company we seriously considered was Luminar,” said Yang Xiaodong, SAIC Motor vice president.

“They are in a league of their own in lidar technology and software, uniquely enabling us to achieve our vision in series production,” he added. Russell noted this deal would have a meaningful impact on Luminar’s returns. According to Forbes, the self-made billionaire, who founded the firm in 2012, is worth $2.8 billion.

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Energy

Scandals related to Germany’s renewable energy talks have halted the progress of the election

The Social Democrats of Germany (SPD) halted renewable energy projects’ progress after lobbying rumors emerged regarding a parliamentarian called Angela Merkel of the conservative side. Initially, the parties were going to discuss the amendments that should have been made to the Renewable Energy Act of 2021. Some of the issues they were going to discuss involved new strategies that would ensure the implementation of the renewable energy projects essential for Germany’s switch to clean energy. However, the SPD called off the meeting after news emerging that Joachim Pfeiffer, the CDU/CSU spokesperson of the energy policy in the negotiation proceedings, manages two companies whose activities might influence his credibility in this position he holds. Pfeiffer came to the limelight denying the allegations.

Another representative in this critical negotiation proceedings, Georg Nüßlein, who is also the CSU’s energy politician, resigned at the beginning of this month. The people who led to his resignation cited the allegations leveled against him regarding masks’ brokering in the pandemic period. The legislators stated that his inadequacy and involvement in this scandal are enough to dethrone him from this vital role. Additionally, a broadcaster highlighted how this politician benefited significantly from the reforms made to the regulations regarding renewables, which he happened to be part and parcel in the negotiations. Nüßlein denied these allegations with his lawyer, adding that he wouldn’t be making a public statement concerning the matter.

Bernd Westphal, the SPD parliamentary group’s energy policy spokesman, stated that they are shedding off the legislators and negotiators who might be in this discussion for their self-interests. The SPD added that the meetings would-be put-on hold until there is certainty and affirmation that all the negotiators have no personal reasons for arguing their way for the reforms that would benefit them alone.

The cancelation of talks to eliminate bias is considered a hindrance to the progress of the country’s transition to clean energy. SPD and CDU’s initial plan was to finalize the talks before Easter to ensure that the implementation strategies start taking shape after the Easter season. Additionally, these allegations come at a crucial period when the country is heading to the general elections.

Political analysts argue that this might be the season to sift some of the leaders seeking reelection to disqualify those that have utilized their roles for personal gains. Many of those who have been linked with the scandals have denied the allegations to pave the way for the rule of law to deal its part. Some are hopeful that they can be proved to be fit to boost their record before the elections start.