Saturday, June 30, 2012

Solar Plane Lands In Morocco In Record Flight

Solar power might not ever become a meaningful part of air travel, but who cares? Solar Impulse is still way cool, and every bit of progress in its grand scheme to one day circle the globe powered only by the sun deserves to be celebrated.

The latest triumph: Europe to Africa. And the really nifty thing is that when pilot Bertrand Piccard touched the HB-SIA down at Morocco’s Rabat-Salé airport, 19 hours and 8 minutes after leaving Madrid on the last leg of the Switzerland-to-Morocco journey, the plane’s batteries were nearly fully charged. Dude should have kept going!

Alas, that would have bummed out the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), which used the occasion to promote its own solar ambitions. Observe how MASEN chief Mustafa Bakkoury, at the landing site, deftly wove his group’s plans into the celebratory hubbub:

“As initiators of another innovative project, the world’s largest thermo-solar power plant, we share a common message with Solar Impulse; a strong one: solar energy no longer restricted to the scientific world but is becoming an integrative part of daily,” Bakkoury said. “We will begin production in 2014, coinciding with Solar Impulse’s world tour.”

Piccard offered a more personal take on the events of the day.

“It was perhaps the most beautiful flight of my life,” he said, according to an Associated Press report. “I have dreamed since I was a child of flying without using fuel…. the flight over the Gibraltar Strait was a magical moment and represents one of the highlights of my carrier as an aeronaut.”

Solar Impulse said Piccard’s average ground speed on the 448-mile flight from Madrid to Rabat-Salé was 28 knots. He crossed over the Strait of Gibraltar at an altitude of 22,616 feet and at one point on hit a peak altitude of 27,000 feet.

This was the longest distance yet covered by Piccard and his fellow Swiss, André Borschberg, who tag-teamed the flight with a technical stopover in Spain. Not that he couldn’t have gone on longer by himself; Borschberg several months ago completed three days and three nights of flight simulation in Dübendorf, Switzerland, during which the Solar Impulse team was able to test the human challenge posed by long flights.

This latest flight – 1,554 miles in all – dwarfed the solar plane’s inaugural flight last year, when it went 340 miles on a journey between France and Belgium.

“It shows solar energy is a technology that we can trust,” Borschberg said at the landing in Morocco.

A plane this light and of this size has never been built before. Piccard and Borschberg spent seven years developing the craft which has the wingspan of an Airbus A340 (63.4 meters) and yet weighs only as much as an average family car.

The revolutionary carbon fiber aircraft has 12,000 solar cells built into its wing that during flight recharge a set of four 400-kilo lithium batteries housed in the engine pods. The plane averages about 8 horsepower – similar to what the Wright Brothers managed when they first flew in 1903.


Solar Plane Flies To Morocco, Connects Continents With Power Of Sun

The Swiss solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, touched down to a warm welcome in Rabat, Morocco last night, flying from Madrid and successfully completing the second leg of its record-breaking 2,500-kilometer intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco.

Mustapha Bakkoury, President, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, (MASEN), joined in welcoming pilot Bertrand Piccard, who called the flight over the Strait of Gibraltar "a magical moment" and noted that Solar Impulse made the trip "without one drop of fossil fuel." In Morocco, the Solar Impulse team will join events highlighting the convergence and capacity of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and at the invitation of MASEN, which oversees Morocco's solar energy development.

The solar-powered flight coincides with construction launch in southern Morocco of the world's largest solar thermal plant, a World Bank-financed project commencing in Ouarzazate that will harness the Sahara sun to produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy for North Africa and Europe and create jobs for many in the area. Ouarzazate is the solar plane's next destination, after a five-day stopover in Rabat.

MASEN's Bakkoury called the Solar Impulse flight important for raising awareness about solar energy's potential to reduce global dependence on oil. "We share a common message with Solar Impulse," he said. "Solar energy is no longer restricted to the scientific world but is becoming an integral part of our daily lives." He said Morocco will be producing solar-energy by 2014, when Solar Impulse plans its round-the-world tour.

For pilots, Piccard and Andre Borschberg, it was all about the flying. Borschberg piloted the first leg from Switzerland to Madrid on May 25th, flying the 207-ft wing-span plane with its 12,000 solar cells. In Rabat he said, "This flight marks a new stage in the history of the project." Landing with a full set of batteries was "extraordinary and represents an increase in confidence in new technologies."

Piccard said, "Solar Impulse symbolizes the pioneering and explorer spirit necessary to find new solutions, outside of old habits and certainties, to respond to today's challenges."


Canadian Solar and Horizon Energy Solutions Announce Canadian EPC Turnkey Solutions Agreement

Canadian Solar Inc. CSIQ +6.73% , one of the world's largest solar power companies, announced that its subsidiary, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. and Horizon Energy Solutions Inc., have entered into an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement to construct commercial rooftop solar electricity generating facilities. The initial projects under this agreement are expected to commence construction by July 2012 under Ontario's Feed-In-Tariff Program.

With the largest Solar Panel production facility in Ontario, Canadian Solar provides bankable photovoltaic modules and complete turnkey solutions to its customers.

Horizon Energy Solutions Inc. is a highly successful developer of renewable energy projects and provider of a suite of energy management, metering and conservation services to commercial clients and local distribution companies (LDCs). Horizon Energy Solutions Inc.'s significant investment in Ontario's renewable power infrastructure will create jobs consistent with the objectives of the Green Energy Act and the clean energy produced will benefit the environment.

"We are committed to developing sustainable energy solutions that provide long-term benefits using the best equipment available. Canadian Solar is a respected and acknowledged leader in this field and we are excited to enter into this agreement," said Scott Knapman, Vice President, Horizon Energy Solutions Inc.

Dr. Shawn Qu, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, commented, "We are pleased to be partnering with Horizon Energy Solutions, given its experience and success in developing renewable energy projects. This latest agreement builds on the considerable momentum we have in Canada and the broader global solar energy market. We continue to leverage Canadian Solar's global brand, proven track record and cost effective quality solar solutions as we pursue new growth opportunities in Canada and worldwide."

About Horizon Energy Solutions Inc.

Horizon Energy Solutions Inc. is dedicated to providing commercial and LDC customers across Ontario with utility grade renewable energy solutions, a complete range of metering services for generators, residential, commercial/industrial, utilities and wholesale customers, and energy management and conservation services that create benefits for customers and the environment. Horizon Energy Solutions Inc. is wholly owned by Horizon Holdings Inc., an investment company owned by Hamilton Utilities Corporation and St. Catharines Hydro Inc. Horizon Holdings also owns Horizon Utilities Corporation, a local electric distribution utility serving 237,000 customers. For more information, please visit .

About Canadian Solar Inc.

Canadian Solar Inc. is one of the world's largest solar companies. As a leading vertically integrated provider of ingots, wafers, solar cells, solar modules and other solar applications, Canadian Solar designs, manufactures and delivers solar products and solar system solutions for on-grid and off-grid use to customers worldwide. With operations in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, Canadian Solar provides premium quality, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solar solutions to support global, sustainable development. For more information, visit .

Safe Harbor/Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain statements in this press release, including statements regarding our expected future shipment volumes, gross margins, supply cost, manufacturing capacities, and cell conversion efficiencies, are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. These statements are made under the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by such terms as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "estimates," the negative of these terms, or other comparable terminology. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include the risks regarding the previously disclosed SEC investigation as well as general business and economic conditions and the state of the solar industry; governmental support for the deployment of solar power; future available supplies of high-purity silicon; demand for end-use products by consumers and inventory levels of such products in the supply chain; changes in demand from significant customers; changes in demand from major markets such as Germany; changes in customer order patterns; changes in product mix; capacity utilization; level of competition; pricing pressure and declines in average selling prices; delays in new product introduction; delays in utility-scale project approval process; delays in utility-scale project construction; continued success in technological innovations and delivery of products with the features customers demand; shortage in supply of materials or capacity requirements; availability of financing; exchange rate fluctuations; litigation and other risks as described in the Company's SEC filings, including its annual report on Form 20-F filed on April 27, 2012. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in the forward looking statements are reasonable, it cannot guarantee future results, level of activity, performance, or achievements. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. All information provided in this press release is as of today's date, unless otherwise stated, and Canadian Solar undertakes no duty to update such information, except as required under applicable law.


Morocco Promotes Solar Energy With Plane Landing

Morocco's ambitious and expensive plan to draw 40 percent of its energy needs from the limitless power of its blazing sun by 2020 received a publicity boost this week as the first solar powered plane to make an intercontinental flight landed in the North African kingdom.

As Swiss pilot and adventurer Bertrand Piccard stepped out of the fragile craft in front of reporters late Tuesday following his 20-hour flight from Madrid, he immediately paid tribute to Morocco's solar ambitions, which include one day exporting electricity to Europe.

"We came here out of admiration for Morocco's pioneering solar energy program," Piccard said, flashing a brilliant smile and hugging members of his team on the tarmac.

Just moments earlier, the Solar Impulse had swept silently out of the darkness to glide onto the runway. Its four battery-powered turbo-props were already still, showing off the aircraft's ability to fly even when the sun is gone.

"It was perhaps the most beautiful flight of my life. I have dreamed since I was a child of flying without using fuel," said Piccard, who hails from a family of adventurers and who already has circumnavigated the world by balloon.

The plane's 1,554 mile (2,500 kilometer) trip from Switzerland to Morocco was closely followed around Europe and Piccard's fellow pilot and Solar Impulse partner, Andre Borschberg, said it was an important symbol about what could be done without fossil fuels.

"It shows solar energy is a technology that we can trust," he said at the airport before heading off in a helicopter to escort in his airborne colleague.

In 2009, Morocco announced a $9 billion project to build five solar energy plants to harness the sun's rays and produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020.

The newly created Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, known as Masen, sponsored the arrival of the Solar Impulse.

The lavish ceremony showcased the kingdom's own solar ambitions and its plans to soon announce which international consortium has won the bid to start work on a 160-megawatt solar power plant to be built in the southern city of Ouarzazate.

"With solar energy you can do many things, you can fly a plane from Payerne, Switzerland to Rabat, you can use solar energy for daily activities -- it's no longer just in the realm of science," said Mustafa Bakkouri, the head of Masen, shortly before the Solar Impulse landed.

"We have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, most of which we import," he added.

Morocco is one of the few countries in the region almost wholly dependent on imports for its energy needs, and it has been hard hit by the soaring oil prices over the last few years.

As if to underscore the importance of its new commitment to solar energy, the government was forced to reduce subsidies Saturday on gasoline and diesel, raising the price at the pump by 20 and 15 percent respectively.

"The decision was taken to preserve the macro-economic balance," argued Budget Minister Idriss Azami in a Monday interview published in the Le Matin daily. Already 80 percent of the subsidy budget has been used and the year is only half over.

The increase in fuel prices is expected to also push up the price of food, much of which is trucked in from farms in the deep south and elsewhere. In Rabat's low income Akkari neighborhood, food vendors tensed for the inevitable spike.

"Zucchini and carrots have already gone up 20 percent. I hope they stay there because they are already too expensive," said vegetable seller Mohammed Yahyaoui.

As she browsing through the artfully constructed pyramids of vegetables nearby, housewife Fatiha Ait Si swore her family couldn't handle any more price increases. "We are at our end," she said.

There are fears that rising prices could provoke demonstrations that have largely subsided since last year.

It will be a while before Morocco's solar energy comes online. The Ouarzazate plant is expected to be operational by 2014, with plans to boost its capacity to 500 megawatts by 2015.

Meanwhile, Morocco is finding that solar energy does not come cheap.

The Ouarzazate plant was originally set to cost $440 million, but has since ballooned to at least $1.25 billion. Funding comes from an array of international sources, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and a consortium of German companies promoting solar energy across North Africa called Dii.

International development funds have been earmarked for similar projects in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, but none are nearly as advanced as in Morocco, where the 2,500 hectare (10 square mile) Ouarzazate site has been marked out on the edge of the desert.

Morocco's plants will be using concentrated solar power, a different technology than the 12,000 photovoltaic cells lining the jumbo jet sized wings of the Solar Impulse.

In the Morocco facilities, endless rows of parabolic mirrors will heat up a synthetic oil, which will then produce steam to turn turbines to produce the electricity.

Like the Solar Impulse, which can fly only in perfect weather conditions and has a cruising speed of around 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour), solar power has yet to be perfected as a technology that could replace fossil fuels.

The power from the Ouarzazate plant is expected to cost twice as much as fossil energy, a difference the Moroccan government has pledged to cover before selling it to the state electricity company -- for now with the help of a World Bank loan.

"A further set of loans will be needed to subsidize the electricity produced," noted a cautioning report on the project by the U.K.-based World Development Movement, which campaigns against world poverty. "The electricity produced will be too expensive for domestic consumers."

One set of consumers that is expected to welcome this new source of energy, regardless of the price, is in Europe, where many countries have measures in place to requiring an increased reliance on renewable energy sources. They are expected to be willing to pay a premium for Morocco's clean solar energy.

The Dii consortium envisages a string of solar energy plants across North Africa that would eventually supply all the energy needs there, as well as 15 percent of Europe's.

Piccard said the importance of his flight was not to offer an alternative to commercial airliners but to push the limits of what is believed possible with solar technology.

"Solar Impulse shows that new technology can do what was once thought to be impossible," Piccard said. "People probably once told Masen it was impossible to develop solar energy on that scale."


Friday, June 29, 2012

Solar Plane's Historic Flight to Morocco Connects Continents with Power of Sun

The Swiss solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, touched down to a warm welcome in Rabat, Morocco last night, flying from Madrid and successfully completing the second leg of its record-breaking 2,500-kilometer intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco.

Mustapha Bakkoury, President, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, (MASEN), joined in welcoming pilot Bertrand Piccard, who called the flight over the Strait of Gibraltar "a magical moment" and noted that Solar Impulse made the trip "without one drop of fossil fuel." In Morocco, the Solar Impulse team will join events highlighting the convergence and capacity of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and at the invitation of MASEN, which oversees Morocco's solar energy development.

The solar-powered flight coincides with construction launch in southern Morocco of the world's largest solar thermal plant, a World Bank-financed project commencing in Ouarzazate that will harness the Sahara sun to produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy for North Africa and Europe and create jobs for many in the area. Ouarzazate is the solar plane's next destination, after a five-day stopover in Rabat.

MASEN's Bakkoury called the Solar Impulse flight important for raising awareness about solar energy's potential to reduce global dependence on oil. "We share a common message with Solar Impulse," he said. "Solar energy is no longer restricted to the scientific world but is becoming an integral part of our daily lives." He said Morocco will be producing solar-energy by 2014, when Solar Impulse plans its round-the-world tour.

For pilots, Piccard and Andre Borschberg, it was all about the flying. Borschberg piloted the first leg from Switzerland to Madrid on May 25th, flying the 207-ft wing-span plane with its 12,000 solar cells. In Rabat he said, "This flight marks a new stage in the history of the project." Landing with a full set of batteries was "extraordinary and represents an increase in confidence in new technologies."

Piccard said, "Solar Impulse symbolizes the pioneering and explorer spirit necessary to find new solutions, outside of old habits and certainties, to respond to today's challenges."


Industry Awaits Dawn Of Federal Solar Project

N the next few weeks, the federal government will learn whether the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project in Queensland has been able to meet its extended deadline to obtain finance for the 250 megawatt solar thermal project.

It's sure to be a close-run thing and the solar thermal industry is looking on with apprehension.


UPDATE 1-Italy Mulls Lifting Solar Cap in Renewables Decree

Italy is considering changes to its new incentive scheme for renewable energy production including a hike to the cap it previously placed on solar power support as it seeks to head off criticism from the solar industry and the European Union, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Earlier this year the government announced a plan to scale back production incentives to the photovoltaic and other renewable energy sources to ease the burden on consumers, who pay for support with their power bills.

But operators complained the decree threatened to impact investments and make them less competitive because of increased bureaucratic costs. Regulatory uncertainty has also led banks to review their funding of renewable projects.

According to a draft document discussed by the government and Italian local authorities, the annual cap for incentives for solar power production could be lifted to 759 million euros ($953.5 million) from a previous 500 million euros.

The document also said plants up to 100 kilowatts, and not 12 kilowatts as previously planned, could be exempted from having to log on to a register, which was introduced to keep a close check on the growth of the industry.

The government still needs to approve the changes.

On Tuesday, the European Union Commission welcomed Italy's plans to reform the incentives scheme for renewable energy but said bureaucratic procedures in the scheme needed to be looked at.

With generous incentives in place since 2007, Italy's solar market has become the world's second-biggest after Germany and was the fastest growing market in 2011.

But as solar installation demand slows some companies have started looking to new markets, especially in Asia, which is expected to overtake Europe as the growth leader in the next five years.

Enel Green Power, Italy's biggest renewable energy company, has swung its focus away from its home country to foreign markets.

A sharp fall in Italy's solar growth is bad news for major solar equipment makers such as Chinese group Suntech Power Holdings, Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy Holding and U.S. firms First Solar and SunPower Corp.


Solar Now Powers ADB Headquarters

Asian Development Bank (ADB) president, Haruhiko Kuroda has opened a new rooftop solar power project that will provide clean, renewable energy to ADB’s 20-year-old headquarters in Manila.

"Using rooftops and other open spaces is an efficient way for businesses and homes to capture and use the energy of the sun," said S. Chander, Director General of ADB’s Regional and Sustainable Development Department. "We hope other companies will follow ADB’s example."

The 2,040 photovoltaic panels occupying 6,640 square meters on the roof of ADB’s main building will generate 613 megawatt hours of electricity per year to run a portion of the Bank’s air conditioning, lighting, and computer systems, reducing its carbon footprint.

The solar rooftop project received support from government agencies, such as the Department of Energy, the City Government of Mandaluyong, the Manila Electric Company, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"This solar installation demonstrates that with innovative solar products and collaboration among bankable partners, solar can provide a cost-effective solution for electricity generation across Southeast Asia," said Zhengrong Shi, Chief Executive Officer of Suntech, which manufactured the solar panels for the ADB rooftop project.

With energy demand projected to almost double in the Asia and Pacific region by 2030, there is an urgent need to find renewable sources to generate power while at the same time reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Almost 700 million people in Asia and the Pacific still have no access to electricity. Lack of access to reliable energy holds back economic development in many parts of the region.

ADB has increased its investment in clean energy and energy efficiency projects in recent years. Between 2008 and 2011, ADB’s investment in such projects amounted to about $7 billion.

The bank is supporting solar energy development through its Asia Solar Energy Initiative. Launched in May 2010, the initiative aims to develop and generate 3,000 megawatts of solar power in Asia and the Pacific region within three years.

ADB has also worked hard to improve energy efficiency in its own building. In 2011, ADB received the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold rating from the US Green Building Council, making ADB’s headquarters the first building in the Philippines to be awarded LEED certification for an existing structure.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Global Solar Energy Announces Sale Process

Global Solar Energy, Inc., a leading manufacturer of flexible solar technology, announced today it has engaged FTI Capital Advisors, LLC (FTICA), member FINRA/SIPC, the wholly owned investment banking subsidiary of FTI Consulting, Inc., to pursue new investor participation. An investment could lead to partial or total change in ownership and control of the company. Global Solar will consider opportunities for the USA and EU operations.

Global Solar is the leading commercial-scale producer of flexible, high-efficiency Copper, Indium, Gallium, DiSelenide (CIGS) solar products. The company has 75 MWp of installed thin-film photovoltaic production capacity in the USA and EU. Global Solar has a unique position in the solar market. It sells its products into special applications such as weight-restricted roofs, integrated building products, military markets and various emerging applications. The company currently supplies interconnected solar cells for the DOW POWERHOUSE(R) Solar Shingle roofing product line.

Commenting on the decision to pursue new investors, CEO Dr. Jeffrey Britt stated, "Global Solar's owners have accomplished their plan of developing leading CIGS thin-film technology and being the first company to reach commercial-scale production. The time has come to consider financial alternatives that will help enable the company to reach its strategic objectives.

"The process offers new investors an opportunity to participate in the fastest-growing segment of the solar industry, flexible thin-film. Global Solar is differentiated from the broader solar industry as its products are specially designed to target high growth, niche markets that require flexible, lightweight solar solutions," continued Britt.

The company does not anticipate any disruption in production or service to its customers during this process.


Solar Power Fuels Fun Center on Wheels

Saturday night, people from all over the eastern part of Williamson County will head into Taylor for a night of “Movies in the Park.”

“We're going to have a projector and a Blue Ray,” said John Jarmon, a mentor at Taylor High School . “We have a 415-watt amplifier. We have some old speakers. I bought these speakers back when I was in the navy in the 70s. We haven't used them in 20 years, but we tested them the other day and they sound fabulous.”

What makes this night’s event at Robinson Park really special, though, is that the power behind all that stuff will not come from an extension cord plugged into an outlet.

Instead, though it will be dark at that time, the electric power used to run the projection system will come from an unusual source: the sun.

“This is the future of energy,” said Taylor High School student Jacob Bishop, 16. “One day, everyone's house will have solar panels on the rooftops. I just believe that's going to happen because these fossil fuels aren't going to work forever.”

Jacob is a member of a THS club called, B.L.A.D.E. That stands for Beginners Learning Alternative Designs for Energy. The club was Jordan’s brainchild. The mentor works at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT.

The company coordinates electric power throughout the state, monitoring demand and guarding against outages. It also encourages its employees to give back to their communities.

So Jarmon decided to launch a renewable energy club at the high school.

“I started the club using a textbook,” he said, “thinking that I will be able to connect with these high school students, breaking out a textbook after school and teaching some fundamentals. But I quickly learned that wasn't going to work too well.”

That was a fairly safe assumption, since the second trip Jarmon made to the school resulted in a club meeting with no students showing up.

So, Jarmon decided to make the enterprise a hands-on affair. Club members started working on solar panels, soldering together the thin wafers that make them up.

Jacob Bishop was among the first to pick up a soldering iron. It didn’t go well.

“When it came to soldering the wafers,” Jarmon recalled, “he immediately just stood back and said, 'I'm not too good at that.”

“I was really slow,” Jacob admitted. “I was pretty inaccurate. I'm not going to lie; I broke a bunch of them.”

But Jarmon kept up a steady stream of encouragement and Jacob kept trying.

“Now that's just about my favorite part of it,” the boy said. “I think it's the delicate work involved, the concentration you need.”

“That's what this is about,” suggested Jordan, “introducing the kids to something, working with them, encouraging them. It's really been a lot of fun.”

So, over the past school year, the club members spent after-school hours patiently building their four solar panels. But what to do with them?

Jarmon had an idea for that, too. You see, he had an old van with 220,000 miles on it. It was unreliable and it was costing him a fortune to drive. So he donated it to the club.

All over Taylor, citizens and businesses joined the effort, donating everything from a new paint job to a widescreen TV and a Blue Ray player.

The students installed the panels on the roof of the vehicle and connected them to a series of six 12-volt batteries inside. The batteries collect and store the power produced by the solar system, making that night time movie in the park thing possible.

The system also accommodates video games and they, too, will be available for the public to try out Saturday night. Everyone involved is looking forward to the event.

“All they've been doing so far is just work,” Jarmon said. “They haven't experienced the fun and enjoyment part yet. It's just been work for them. We're at a point now where they're going to have some fun.”

And yet, the coolest thing about it all has already happened. Last Saturday and Sunday, the Taylor students took their van to the Austin Convention Center for a solar power competition sponsored by IEEE , the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

B.L.A.D.E. took first place.

“Right before they were about to announce it, I had a nose bleed,” said club member Sean Bullock, 16, “so I was in the bathroom. That (the award) was very exciting for me and I didn't know if I was going to have another nose bleed from all the excitement.”

All this also has the students thinking hard about their own future.

“It's made me think more about what I'm going to do in college,” Jacob said. “I've got to look into this stuff; it might be a future career choice.”

“I mean, if some high school students can do it,” Sean added, “I think that shows people that it is good and that it works. It's simple enough that anybody can do it.

“I think that the solar systems could possibly save the polar bears, as they say.”


Talesun Solar Signed Cooperation Framework Agreement with CGN Solar

Talesun Solar USA, Ltd, the USA subsidiary of Zhongli Talesun Solar, a globally positioned, premium producer of PV modules and systems, signed a Cooperation Framework Agreement with CGN Solar USA on April 28. According to the agreement, Talesun Solar USA will source, develop and construct 500MW PV power plants in USA by 2015.

As specified in the agreement, the target project development is 100MW for the year of 2012, 200MW for 2013, and 200MW for 2014. Both Talesun and CGN Solar have great confidence for the partnership, and are looking forward to seeing future development. Discussions about the cooperation on project initiative funding will start immediately after the success implementation of the first project under the B-T (Build-and-Transfer) model.

About Talesun Solar
Talesun is a globally positioned, premium producer of solar modules and cells for the consumer and industrial sectors. The company's 200,000m², fully automated manufacturing plant in the Chinese province of Jiangsu will reach a production capacity of 2GW by the end of 2012. Talesun has subsidiaries in Shanghai, Munich, and San Jose, CA to serve regional markets.


Solar-Powered 'Supertrees' Breathe Life into Singapore's Urban Oasis

Singapore's latest development will finally blossom later this month, with an imposing canopy of artificial trees up to 50 meters high towering over a vast urban oasis.

The colossal solar-powered supertrees are found in the Bay South garden, which opens to the public on June 29. It is part of a 250-acre landscaping project -- Gardens by the Bay -- that is an initiative from Singapore's National Parks Board that will see the cultivation of flora and fauna from foreign lands.

The man-made mechanical forest consists of 18 supertrees that act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the supertrees are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy, which provides lighting and aids water technology within the conservatories below.

Varying in height between 25 and 50 meters, each supertree features tropical flowers and various ferns climbing across its steel framework. The large canopies also operate as temperature moderators, absorbing and dispersing heat, as well as providing shelter from the hot temperatures of Singapore's climate to visitors walking beneath.

The project is part of a redevelopment scheme to create a new downtown district in the Marina Bay area, on Singapore's south side. Project organizers hope the completed Gardens by the Bay will become an eco-tourist destination showcasing sustainable practices and plants from across the globe.

Speaking at a preview event last November, Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore, said the project would "showcase what we can do to bring the world of plants to all Singaporeans," adding that the gardens would become "the pride of Singapore."

Bridges dubbed "skywalks" have been erected connecting several of the higher 50-meter supertrees (the same height as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris), letting visitors stroll between them and view the gardens from dizzying heights.

The horticultural heaven also boasts two green conservatories in close proximity -- the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome -- climate-controlled biomes inspired by the shape of an orchid flower, which project organizers hope will become the park's main attractions. The biomes are the equivalent size of four football fields and will become the new home for 220,000 plants from almost every continent. These are some of the only areas where an admission fee is charged -- approximately US$22 (S$28) for holiday-makers or US$16 (S$20) for Singapore residents.

One of the sustainable features of the Flower Dome is that horticultural waste feeds a massive steam turbine and generates the electricity on-site to help maintain the cool temperatures of the biome.

However, the supertrees and biomes only make up 5% of the multimillion-dollar landscaping development won after an international design competition by UK landscape architects Grant Associates. The remainder of the Bay South garden will pay homage to the ethnic makeup of the country. In the Heritage Gardens, visitors can explore the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Colonial-themed areas and learn about the links between plants and Singapore's history. Surrounding these cultural green spaces in the rest of the 103-acre Bay South park are sprawling areas complete with lakes and bridges.

Launched seven years ago by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally, Gardens by the Bay has been a much-celebrated green undertaking with the other gardens, Bay East and Bay Central, opening to much fanfare. The grand opening of Bay South park area will most likely be another illustrious event.

The horticultural oasis will be a contrast to the country's extremely dense urban environment, forming part of the government's overall strategy to transform Singapore into a "city in a garden."


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

State Has Bright Future In Solar

Last year, the U.S. solar industry enjoyed its most successful year ever. Falling prices, consumer awareness and innovative policies are creating living-wage green jobs, improving energy productivity and expanding our domestic energy portfolio at an unprecedented rate. Solar energy is working for America, and it can work better for Georgia.

In 2011, the United States installed 1,855 megawatts of photovoltaic solar systems nationwide — enough to power 267,000 homes, a 109 percent increase over 2010, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This development constitutes a $56 billion investment, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.

The fourth quarter of 2011 saw the greatest nationwide volume of photovoltaic solar installation ever. These increases represent every sector including residential, commercial and utility. The U.S. share of the global solar market grew last year, from 5 percent to 7 percent, and this share is projected to reach 15 percent by 2016, according to SEIA.

With the recent announcements of a number of significant solar projects, Georgia’s solar investment is growing, too. Large, utility-scale systems such as Simon Solar Farm in Walton County and Azalea Solar Facility in Washington County, as well as significant rooftop installations, such as Sustainable Fellwood in Savannah, are among the projects recently completed or coming online in the months ahead to add to our current holdings of 17 megawatts.

Georgia is widely recognized for its potential in the solar industry. Studies regularly rank the state among the top 10 — even the top five — in available sun and other factors that support solar energy production. But currently our deployment of solar is less than 1 percent of the national total.

What holds us back? Legal barriers in Georgia law make solar development more difficult and expensive than in other states where policy has evolved to embrace and facilitate solar potential.

Our energy policy needs to progress to make a wider range of energy options available to businesses and homeowners in the market.

This year, I’m serving as chairman of the Georgia Solar Energy Association ( With more than 250 members statewide, we work to increase consumer awareness of solar potential and improve public policy to make it more available, and foster partnerships to realize it.

At our third annual Southern Solar Summit on Friday — open to the public at the GTRI Conference Center, 250 14th St. N.W., Atlanta — we will feature a number of solar industry experts from around the country who will confirm the high level of interest in the solar development potential Georgia holds. With solar prices continuing to fall and the imperative to expand our domestic energy portfolio, the time has never been better to explore how we can produce safer, cleaner energy for Georgia.

Anthony Coker is senior director of Strategic Partners at Suniva, an Atlanta-based designer and manufacturer of solar cells and modules.


Australia to go Ahead With A$450 Million Solar Energy Project

Australia will go ahead with a A$450 million ($446 million) large-scale solar energy project to be built at two sites in New South Wales state, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said on Saturday.

The 159 megawatt project will be undertaken by solar photovoltaic manufacturer First Solar and gas retailer AGL Energy and should be completed by the end of 2015, Ferguson said in a statement.

The project will benefit from a government grant of nearly A$130 million, announced on Saturday, and will be built at the inland towns of Broken Hill and Nyngan. It should produce enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes, the minister said.

Ferguson said the project represented excellent value for money, and said the cost of producing photovoltaic energy had gone down a lot. It was an opportunity to bring industrial scale solar energy to market, he said.

“"At the end of the day it all comes down to cost, and if large scale solar is going to succeed in Australia it has to be cost competitive," Ferguson said. (A$=$0.99)


Solar Power In Germany Hits New Record Level

German utilities say solar power reached a new record level in May when it produced about 10 percent of the country's overall electricity.

The BDEW utility lobby group said Friday the production was up 40 percent on the year because of favorable weather conditions and a continuing boom in new solar panel installations.

Germany decided after last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Renewable energies are set to generate 30 percent of the electricity by then, and 80 percent by 2050.

All renewable energy sources -- including wind power and biomass plants -- last year accounted for about 20 percent of the country's electricity, but that share appears to be rising as subsidies and investment incentives fuel a boom in new installations.


BOE FOCUS-Solar Panels Shine Light on UK Policy Dilemma

A Bank of England-sponsored solar panel for every roof in Britain to jump-start the stagnant UK economy?

The suggestion, at an alternative economics conference a few weeks ago, brought a frown to the face of the BoE policymaker present, Adam Posen.

But it nonetheless underlined a dilemma facing the Bank as it presides over an economy that has responded at best mildly to record low interest rates and a flood of bond buying.

What now?

Since the solar panel idea was mooted, even bastions of economic orthodoxy such as the International Monetary Fund have urged the British central bank to find a better way to boost growth than what they have been doing.

Cut rates more, perhaps. Or buy slightly more exotic assets.

However, these proposals have a problem. Either they represent one-off boosts with little lasting impact, or they risk harbouring unpleasant side effects.

"From a very narrow monetary policy perspective something might make the world a better place, but from a financial stability perspective it might look lousy," said Richard Barwell, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland.

The pressure is on the central bank to do something, however, because the government has little room to add stimulus via tax cuts or spending as it tries to bring down a huge budget deficit with economic output is still 4 percent below its peak.

Buying British government bonds with newly created money - so called quantitative easing, or QE - was a radical policy when the BoE started in March 2009, but 325 billion pounds later critics argue that it has lost the power to spur growth by cutting the cost of private-sector borrowing.

"They should be thinking outside the box," said Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank who argues that QE has failed to stop an upward drift in mortgage costs faced by households and in firms' borrowing costs.

BoE figures show the average interest rate on a typical two-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen to 3.66 percent, up from 3.00 percent when the BoE started its latest round of QE in October.

Most business borrowing costs show similar rises - despite the fact that the cost of two-year government borrowing recently hit a record low of 0.2 percent, in part due to BoE gilt buying.


So far BoE policymakers insist there is not enough evidence to suggest the 125 billion pound round of QE conducted between October 2011 and May 2012 is less effective than the 200 billion pounds done between March 2009 and February 2010.

Governor Mervyn King has also rejected buying large quantities of assets other than government bonds unless the government indemnifies it. Nor has he asked the finance ministry to approve any more adventurous schemes.

One stimulus option recommended by the IMF is a cut to interest rates, which may be more feasible than in the past as banks now have greater scope to cut the deposit rates they pay to savers, allowing them to preserve their margins while cutting rates to borrowers.

But this was again rejected by BoE policymaker Ben Broadbent last week, and in any event would only have a one-off impact.

Moreover, while a rate cut might reduce the cost of borrowing, it would not necessarily increase the availability of credit - something many businesses argue is a bigger problem.

One proposal to tackle this is for the BoE to extend the small volume of corporate bonds it purchases to include those issued by British banks. A related idea is to buy assets held on banks' balance sheets in the form of asset-backed securities.

In theory this should give the banks plenty of new funds to lend to businesses and households, something the BoE says it is ill-equipped to do itself.

However, this approach has serious flaws, says RBS's Barwell. The BoE's financial stability statements suggest it believes high bank funding costs represent genuine credit risks, and Broadbent argued the lack of bank lending may be a rational response to the risk of a euro zone break-up.

Subsidising banks' finance costs in these circumstances would be too risky, Barwell said.

"Once the authorities start to accumulate huge sums of unsecured claims on the UK banks it will not take long before the market reaches the conclusion that the banks cannot be allowed to fail because taxpayers would realise a massive loss."

Buying secured assets would not solve the problem either, Barwell added. First, there is the danger that, unknown to the BoE, banks would offer their riskiest assets as collateral. And second, the BoE is already concerned about "encumbrance" - the danger that banks set aside so many assets for secured lending that unsecured lenders worry there is little left for them.

Ultimately, alternative assets for the BoE to purchase may be more likely to come in the form of government-backed infrastructure bonds - an announcement which in theory could come as soon as next week, when finance minister George Osborne delivers an annual speech to London's financial community in the presence of King, the governor.

These plans are constrained by the accounting sleight-of-hand needed to ensure they are also consistent with the government's political commitment to see its headline debt-to-GDP ratio falling by the time of national elections in 2015.

But if they went through, who knows, maybe indirectly the Bank of England would be buying everyone solar panels.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Solar Payments Set Off Debate About Fairness

In California’s sun-scorched Central Valley, the monthly electric bill can easily top $200. But that’s just about what George Burman spent on electricity for all of last year.
Solar panels cover the parking lot at North Gate High School
in Walnut Creek, Calif. A renewable energy incentive is at the
heart of a battle being fought among utilities, consumer
advocates and renewable energy developers across the country

When the sun is shining, the solar panels on his Fresno condominium produce more than enough power for his needs, and the local utility is required to buy the excess power from him at full retail prices. Those credits mostly offset his purchases from the electric company during cloudy days and at night.

Burman says the credit system, known as net metering, is a “very nice benefit” for him. But it’s not such a good deal for his utility, Pacific Gas and Electric.

As he and tens of thousands of other residential and commercial customers switch to solar in California, the utilities not only lose valuable customers that help support the costs of the power grid but also have to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the power they generate. Ultimately, the utilities say, the combination will lead to higher rate increases for everyone left on the traditional electric system.

“Low-income customers can’t put on solar panels — let’s be blunt,” said David K. Owens, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents utilities.

“So why should a low-income customer have their rates go up for the benefit of someone who puts on a solar panel and wants to be credited the retail rate?”

The net metering benefit, which is available to residential and commercial customers with renewable energy systems in more than 40 states and has helped spur a boom in solar installations, is at the heart of a battle. Utilities, consumer advocates and renewable energy developers across the country are fighting over how much financial help to give to solar power. Regulators are in the middle, weighing the societal benefits of solar as well as how best to spread the costs.

Shifting relationships

Net metering has been so popular that several states are rapidly approaching regulatory limits on how many systems are eligible, meaning new customers have no assurance they can reap the same rewards. The solar industry, which is growing in size and influence, has been pressing to raise those limits to continue to encourage rooftop installations, while the utilities have generally been opposed.

In a closely watched decision that could influence the path of other states, California regulators decided last month to effectively double the amount of solar power capacity eligible for net metering. More than 60,000 people wrote to the Public Utilities Commission in support of raising the cap, which would allow new customers to continue being credited at a high rate for electricity they produce but do not use.

But representatives of the three major utilities that are covered by the decision said it would simply shift the fixed costs of maintaining the electric grid, which are embedded in electric rates, to other customers.

Other states, including New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Virginia and Texas, have also been reviewing their programs, which are transforming the fundamental relationship between customers and their utilities.

In Massachusetts, which pays net metering customers close to the retail electricity rate, lawmakers recently revised the tariff program to create separate caps for the public and private sectors. The Department of Public Utilities is currently seeking to clarify which entities, like schools and universities, should count against each cap, an issue of some urgency since the private limit is close to being reached.

Some states have also begun to impose new fees as they have increased the amount of power customers are allowed to generate and sell. When Virginia doubled the size of home systems eligible for net metering to 20 kilowatts last year, it allowed utilities to start charging a monthly fee this year for owners with systems larger than 10 kilowatts.

Shaping the future

The U.S. Department of Energy envisions a future in which a typical homeowner might feed power into the system from solar panels, small wind turbines or electric vehicles sitting idle in the garage, offsetting charges for power used at a later time and helping provide energy to the system during periods of high demand. Steven Chalk, the deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy, said that net metering was critical to realizing that future, “where users are very involved in what they’re using in terms of demand and what they’re also generating.”

So far, customers using net metering account for just a sliver of the overall electricity market — about 0.1 percent in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration. But they have been increasing at a fast clip. Between 2003 and 2010, growth averaged 56 percent a year, rising to 155,841 customers from 6,813, with about half in California.

The formulas used to calculate payments to customers vary, with some states using the wholesale price of electricity and others offering the higher retail rate. In California, the incentive is especially generous because residential customers often earn credits during the day, when rates are higher and solar panels are producing power, and draw power against those credits in the evening, when rates are lower.

What’s fair?

And as more solar customers, often big power users, pay the utilities less, the utilities say they will raise rates to recover their costs from a shrinking customer base.

Dan Skopec, a vice president at San Diego Gas and Electric, said that the transfer to net metering customers could add up to $1.4 billion by the time the state reached the new cap. The Public Utilities Commission ordered a study of the costs and effects on customers of net metering when it voted to expand the program. Utility executives would not say whether they would sue over the expansion, but Skopec said it was “wrong on the law.”

Even some consumer advocates who frequently challenge the utilities are arguing that it is time to rethink the generous rate structure, which was initially put in place to encourage the industry at a time when solar systems were far more expensive to install. With those costs down, it now takes much less time to pay off the investment.

“The goal of net metering should not be to give the shortest possible payback period; we’re not trying to shower people with free money,” said Matthew Freedman, a lawyer at the Utility Reform Network, a California advocacy group that works on behalf of residential ratepayers. “We want to make it a reasonable investment while protecting the interests of all the other customers on the system who have to pay for it.”


Silver City Becomes Solar City

Broken Hill will host one half of the largest solar energy project in the southern hemisphere, it was announced today.
A solar farm consisting of 900,000 solar panels is going
to be built to the west of Broken Hill
The $450 million project will have an ultimate output of 159 megawatts, enough to power 33,000 homes, and will be constructed across two sites; Broken Hill and Nyngan.

The Broken Hill site will consist of nearly a million solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) panels and will be built to the west of the city.

Construction is hoped to begin in 2014 and is expected to bring 150 jobs to Broken Hill and a further 300 to Nyngan.

The solar farm is expected to be operating by 2015 and is a joint venture between the Federal and State Governments and Australian energy company AGL.

"The Commonwealth will contribute $170 million and the NSW Government will contribute $65 million," Minister for Energy and Resources, Martin Ferguson said this morning.

"Form the Australian Government's point of view, this is a very substantial project.

"This go ahead to the project in Nyngan and Broken Hill is very very significant to the solar PV industry and also it represents a substantial statement by the Australian Government, not only in support of renewable energy but in our confidence of the development of the solar industry in Australia."

Minster Ferguson said a recent drop in the price of solar panels from places such as China meant the overall cost of the project, and therefore the government contribution, was reduced significantly.

The Mayor of Broken Hill Wincen Cuy says the project will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.

"It's an absolutely fabulous announcement for Broken Hill.

"150 jobs (and), I'm lead to believe, somewhere between 150 and 200 million dollars invested into the community.

"It's a great opportunity for Broken Hill to be, once again, put on the national stage as an innovator and a place to be and a place to come to work."

AGL is also involved in the significant Silverton Wind Farm project just north of Broken Hill and Mayor Cuy says the city is now well on the way to being known as the renewable energies centre of Australia.

"Broken Hill has been famed for the resources that it's been able to produce over the last 130 odd years.

"Now we could d become the renewable energy of Australia, how good would that be?"

A spokesperson for AGL says today's announcement represents the largest solar farm project Australia has ever seen.

"The scale of these farms is impressive by any measure.

"The total output of these farms is 159 megawatts and to get that done we... are going to have to install about 2.5 million panels.

"Together with the Federal Government, the NSW Government and our partners First Solar, we'll be investing a total of close to half a billion dollars in these regional economies of Nyngan and Broken Hill."

AGL says the Broken Hill and Nyngan developments are important to the entire renewable energies industry.

"It's important because at some point this decade, probably late this decade, it is possible that solar will supplant wind as the cheapest form of renewable generation."


$450m Solar Project For Outback NSW

One of Australia's largest solar projects is to be built in NSW after AGL Energy and PV manufacturer First Solar were awarded a $130 million grant from the federal government.

The $450 million project, to be built across two sites in Broken Hill and Nyngan, will generate enough electricity to power 30,000 homes when completed by the end of 2015.

AGL Energy and First Solar were awarded the $130 million grant under the federal government's solar flagships program which supports the construction of large-scale, grid connected solar power stations.
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Energy Minister Martin Ferguson reopened first-round bidding in February after the consortium behind the initial winner - the Moree Solar Farm - proposed major changes to its project and failed to meet a December deadline to secure financial backing.

Mr Ferguson today said the 159 megawatt project in Broken Hill and Nyngan represented excellent value for money and would ensure Australia brought industrial-scale solar power to market.

"At the end of the day it all comes down to cost and if large scale solar is going to succeed in Australia it has to be cost competitive," Mr Ferguson said in a statement.

The project is expected to create 150 jobs in Broken Hill during construction and up to 300 in Nyngan.

The energy minister said a rigorous assessment process by the independent Solar Flagships Council found the AGL-First Solar bid had the highest level of merit overall "representing value-for-money, low risk and high commercial viability".

But he noted all short-listed applicants, including the Moree Solar Farm, TRUenergy and Infigen-Suntech bids, were of "high merit" and would be referred to the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency for future funding consideration.


CSIR-NCL Working On Harnessing Solar Energy To Produce Power

A major programme on energy is underway at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its affiliate National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) here with a focus on search for novel materials and turning them into devices for affordable technologies.

The CSIR-NCL which has identified Solar energy and Fuel Cell as two major “thrust areas” of its research, is working on harnessing solar energy to produce thermal and electric power, in particular “organic photovoltaic and dye-sensitised solar cells”, the important components of the country’s Solar Mission project to add a 500 MW of power availability, according to Saurav Pal, Director, CSIR-NCL.

“In the area of fuel cells, NCL’s thrust is on polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) which combines hydrogen and air to produce electricity, water and heat, making it an important alternative energy source along with solar and wind,” he said.

Their emerging applications of the fuel cells are in towers, replacement for diesel generations, co-generation in nuclear plants and electrification of rural and urban locations, Dr. Pal noted at a media interaction, explaining CSIR-NCL research activity aimed at taking science out of laboratories in order to enhance the quality of life of the common man.

The research being conducted and to be commissioned soon by NCL will lead to conservation of conventional and fossil fuels and subsequently add to the use of alternative sources of energy, Dr. Pal said.

“The clean energy alternatives being developed by NCL will assist in mitigation of global warming and assist in achievement of the Millennium Development goals”, he added.

The institute has now set up a “Centre of Excellence” for solar energy research inaugurated a few days ago by Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwini Kumar who interacted with CSIR-NCL scientists calling for a boost to sustainable energy research, voicing the government’s commitment to “incentivising” renewable energy use in the country.

The CSIR-NCL is endeavouring to make Indian chemical industry “globally competitive” by designing new and creative process equipment and their integration with process chemistry, the Director stated.

NCL is a flagship laboratory of CSIR which is the largest network of publicly funded research institute in the country.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Masdar Institute Offers Two Projects On Solar Cell Applications For Summer Internships

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announcedit will offer two projectsrelated to solar cell applications as part of the six-week summer internship program.

The projects titled‘Design of Filters for Applications in Solar Cells Under Light Concentration’ and ‘Solar Cell Technologies and Applications: Investigation of Luminescent Solar Concentratorsfor UAE Conditions’are being offered to students majoring in Science and/or Engineering with adequate self-motivation and hard work.

The former project will focus on the design of specific optical filters for applications of concentrated PV, while the latter will assess whetherLuminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs) would be suitable for use in the UAE, given the unique atmospheric conditions.The LSC is an emerging technology in solar cell devices that offers great promisebut is not explored in the UAE.

Solar cell technologies differ from one another based on the material used to make the solar cell and on the processing technology used to fabricate the solar cells. Thesolar cells (or photovoltaic devices) directly convert light into electricity, and generally use similar physics andtechnology as that used by the microelectronics industry to make computer chips.According to the 2012 Photovoltaics International journal, PV-generated electricity can now compete with diesel generation in mostcountries around the globe. In all locations with high solar irradiance and relatively high electricity costs, PV has reached grid-paritywith ease.

A report from global market intelligence firm IMS Research, which tracks installationsof solar PV in more than 60 countries, predicts global installations of PV could grow from 26.9GW in 2011 to between 27.8GW and 32.6GW in 2012, with Europe’s share falling from 69% last year to 50% this year.Despite many governments slashing financial incentives for the technology,installations of solar PV will grow by at least 3.5% in 2012, the report forecasts.

Dr. Mahieddine Emziane,Associate Professor - Solar Energy Materials & Devices Laboratory, Masdar Institute,will be in charge of these two summer internship projects that he proposed and he will be assisted by some of his students. A Chartered Scientist (CSci),Dr Emzianehas spent 17years working in the area of semiconductor materials and devices with an emphasis on thin-film PV, TPV, CPV and tandem solar cells. Prior to joining Masdar Institute as a founding faculty, he had appointments at the Universities of Oxford, Durham, Liverpool and Sheffield in the UK.

Dr. Mahieddine Emziane,Associate Professor - Solar Energy Materials & Devices Laboratory
Masdar Institute,said: “Though there are many solar cell technologies and applicationsavailable or in use at present, not all of them are relevant to our part of the world.This is the focus of my group’s research and we are seeking to identify waysthat can make our work relevant to this country and the region.

“We are confident that more students in the UAE will find this an interesting subject and join our group to work on solar cell technology. We thank the country’s wise leadership for their support that has enabled us to offer the interns diverse project options.”

An intern is expected to design, prepare modeling simulations,conduct assessment and feasibility study under the two programs that are part of the more than 15 project options offered by Masdar Institute for summer internship that is scheduled to begin on 1 July. The deadline for submission of applications ended on 3 May.

Dr. Emziane is the co-owner of three pending IP rights, one of which has been licensed to industry. First author of over 60 peer-reviewed publications and technical reports out of nearly 100, he has delivered more than 60 conference contributions, invited talks and seminars.

Established as an ongoing collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.


DeMarrais: It Pays To Go Solar, If You're Willing To Wait For The Savings

It's logical from an environmental standpoint, but does going solar make financial sense when you consider the hefty upfront cost?

Five years ago, when I had seven solar panels installed on my roof, there was no question about the financial benefits.

Thanks to a rebate from the state and a federal tax credit, along with ongoing energy credits and reduced electric bills, I figure I have just about paid for the $15,000 system.

And I will continue saving for at least 20 more years.

But the solar market has changed. While the 30 percent federal tax credit remains through 2016, the state rebate has been phased out and state-backed solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, are about half of what they were when I went online in 2007.

Even so, consumers have an attractive option that didn't exist a few years back: long-term lease deals that allow you to go solar with little or no money down. You save upfront, but in doing so, you lose the benefits that owners like me enjoy long after they've paid for initial capital costs.

"I think it can be a good deal, but it depends on your expectations," said Stefanie Brand, director of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, which represents consumers in utility matters.

What makes decisions tough is the uncertainty that is the New Jersey solar market. In its early days it was supported through incentives administered by the Board of Public Utilities. The strategy worked as the state has been second only to California in solar activity.

But the goal has always been to make the industry self-supporting, and that has led to wild swings in the value of the SRECs.

Awarded for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity generated, SRECs are commodities, traded like oil futures and pork bellies. Their value comes from their being needed by utilities to meet state-mandated renewable energy goals.

When I first planned my solar installation they were worth about $200 each, but by 2007 they had soared over $600. Since then the value has fallen to around $130 to $150 each, which means a longer time to recoup installation costs.

The total cost for my modest 1.8-kilowatt rooftop system was $15,077, but more than half — $7,830 — was covered by the state rebate and another $2,000 came from the federal tax credit. In addition, I pre-sold five years of SRECs to the company that handled the installation, making my total out-of-pocket cost $4,048.

When you combine what I generate for myself and the excess that I sell to PSE&G, I figure I have saved at least $2,300 in electric bills in less than five years.

That means I am out just $1,700 or so, and should be in the black in another two years — or two to three years faster than expected.

But my system is small. A typical system today costs between $28,000 and $39,000; many are much higher. Of that, 30 percent is covered by a federal tax credit, but you have to lay out the money upfront and wait until filing your federal tax return to benefit.

Still, going solar can make sense, says Pamela Frank, vice president of business development at Sun Farm Network, a Flemington-based company that has been among the solar leaders in New Jersey (and the company I hired to do my home).

Even though the value of the SRECs has dropped, the cost of solar panels has also decreased, by as much as 40 percent, due to low-cost Chinese imports. But the reduction is due to illegal dumping, the Commerce Department charged last month, and that could lead to higher prices through tariffs that will be imposed.

But SRECs are also likely to increase in value, as the marketplace settles with a supply/demand balance after a decade of turmoil, Frank said. We're unlikely to ever see $600 SRECs again, but prices in the $200 to $300 range are quite possible, she said.

"I think the market has started to normalize," she said. "We were in a period of irrational exuberance, with a perfect storm of incentives, tax credits."

Now, the biggest savings can be on the electricity itself.

For one thing, the state says that when your system generates more electricity than you need — and that happens frequently — your local utility has to pay full retail rate, including the transportation and delivery costs that can be half of your electric bill, Frank said.

Even without the state subsidy, homeowners can often recoup upfront costs in seven to eight years, and enjoy continued savings as the system generates electricity for another 30 years.


Horizon Launching Commercial Rooftop Solar Power

Horizon Energy Solutions is using its digs in St. Catharines to launch a new commercial rooftop solar electricity generation program.

This fall, it plans to install panels at its 240 Vansickle Rd. site.

There, it will generate cash by supplying power to Ontario’s electrical grid.

“The St. Catharines site will be the equivalent to powering about 10 households,” said Scott Knapman, Horizon Energy Solution’s vice-president.

The panels will be built in an agreement announced between Horizon and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Guelph-based Canadian Solar Inc.

The power-generation arrangement is part of Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in-Tariff Program, which offers 20-year contracts for energy generated from renewable sources.

Knapman said Horizon has rooftop-leasing arrangements with other building owners, but is waiting to complete contracts with the Ontario Power Authority.

“When we have those contracts, we’ll be moving ahead with additional (panel) construction in Niagara as well,” he said.

“Certainly, if there’s other building owners who are interested in renting their roof ... typically an unused asset, and making an income from it, we’d be more-than happy in having these discussions.”

Knapman declined, at this point, to reveal the owners and locations of the St. Catharines and Hamilton properties where it plans to install the systems.

Money raised in the venture will ultimately benefit city residents, said Knapman, noting the City of St. Catharines is a 21.1% Horizon owner.

Horizon Energy is wholly-owned by Horizon Holdings, an investment company owned by Hamilton Utilities Corp. and St. Catharines Hydro Inc.

The city is in turn the sole shareholder of St. Catharines Hydro.

Horizon Holdings also owns Horizon Utilities Corp., a local electric distribution utility serving 237,000 customers in Hamilton and St. Catharines.


Bond Passage Puts Solar Power, Other Upgrades On The Fast Track

Solar power will go online at most Lincoln Unified School District facilities as soon as one year from now, and other improvements are on the way, too, following voter approval Tuesday of the district's $48.5 million Measure A bond.

Measure A was approved by a margin of 4,175 to 2,885 Tuesday, receiving support from 59 percent of those who voted. It needed 55 percent approval to pass; it had 292 votes to spare.

"It is our intent for a significant portion of our solar energy production to be online by the summer of 2013," Superintendent Tom Uslan said.

Officials have said the solar program will save Lincoln Unified about $1 million a year in energy costs, savings that will help the district maintain smaller class sizes and balance the general-fund budget.

The victory will allow Lincoln to take advantage of about $7 million in low-interest federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. The district's opportunity to tap into that money would have expired in October. The bond will also pay for nearly $14 million in modernizations at Mable Barron and Claudia Landeen elementary schools and Lincoln High School; $8.1 million to replace portable classrooms at seven campuses; and $5 million for electrical and computer upgrades throughout the district.

"The Lincoln community has provided our students with an invaluable education gift that will benefit our current students and students for years to come," Uslan said. "I am so grateful for the ongoing support our community offers our children."


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Germany Sets Solar Power Record

Photovoltaic solar power plants in Germany set a new world record for energy produced last weekend. Last Friday, solar power produced 22 gigawatts of energy, equivalent to the output of 20 nuclear plants. For the first time, a major industrialized country produced 50 % of its electricity from solar photovoltaic plants & individual homes & businesses.

Germany hopes to be nuclear-free by 2022. The country decided to turn its back on nuclear energy after last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. Other countries are following suit, realizing that the dangers of nuclear energy outweigh any advantages.

Germany is showing the world it is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power. Fewer coal and natural gas burning plants will be needed as solar power increases. Germany has almost as many solar power energy units as the rest of the world combined.

The record Germany has set proves that alternative energy is capable of competing in the energy markets. For many decades now, opponents of renewable energy have tried to get the world to believe that alternative energy is too expensive. They unfairly plug in one form of renewable energy into the centralized energy grid and then proclaim it too be unfeasable, but renewable energy systems operate in a de-centralized fashion, close to communities. The record set in Germany last week clearly shows that photovoltaic solar systems can possibly even beat conventional systems when looking at a realistic 15-20 year cost calculation. This has happened in cloudy Germany. What could the U.S. do with all the sun we get here in the western part of America?

A second development in renewable energy is in energy storage, which has been a problem from the beginning of the movement. Companies all over the world are investing billions of dollars into research in energy storage. Most of this research has been involved in the electric car industry, but it is moving into areas that involve energy storage systems that will benefit all enegy consumers. If research can come up with storage systems that will provide energy for 5-7 days, renewable energy will really become popular. This has been a stumbling block for too long. Perhaps the world is on the verge of a whole new era of energy development.


Hopkinton was recently named one of 17 communities in the state chosen by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to participate in a group purchase of solar panels. The program aims to lower the cost of installing solar energy panels by getting groups together to buy in larger quantities, according to an announcement by the organization. Anyone owning a home or business in Hopkinton with a mostly unobstructed southern-facing roof or yard can qualify. Andy Boyce, chairman of Hopkinton’s Sustainable Green Committee, has been designated at the town’s “solar coach.”


Solar Panels May Create Dilemma For Home Sellers

Bakersfield solar power company Bland Solar and Air Inc. both sells and leases solar panels, but owner Glenn Bland said he generally advises customers to buy rather than rent.

That's because if a homeowner decides to sell his or her house before the lease term is up, they must either convince the buyer to take over the lease, or purchase the system for potentially thousands of dollars, depending on how many years on the lease are left.

"I tell people if there's even the remotest chance they're going to sell their house in the next 20 years, they're better off buying," Bland said.

Solar power is an attractive option for homeowners in Kern County, where summer temperatures routinely soar into the triple digits. If there's one thing Kern can count on it's sunshine, and when you have solar panels, that can translate into hundreds of dollars off a monthly electric bill.

But now that home sales are picking up again in the aftermath of the housing crisis, some who signed long-term solar leases have run into a dilemma.

Under the terms of most agreements -- which typically span 20 years -- selling a house doesn't get you out of the obligation of the lease.

When a house is sold, the seller has to either buy the solar panels, transfer the lease to the buyer of the home, or relocate the panels to the new home (at a cost of roughly $3,000 for an average-sized system).

If you move the system, you'll need to communicate with your electricity provider because the state's solar rebate program is administered by utilities.

It's much more cost effective to transfer the lease, but that can only happen if the buyer is, first, willing to accept the obligation, and second, creditworthy, because solar companies won't rent to people with bad credit.

If for some reason a potential home buyer either doesn't want the obligation or can't get an agreement due to poor credit, they might just walk away from a sale.

So far, solar leases haven't proven to be significant deal breakers, said Scott Tobias, a broker with Prudential Tobias Realtors and president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors.

"We haven't run into that many of them, to be honest, but when we do, it's absolutely essential that it's disclosed right up front," he said. "It doesn't create a problem unless it shows up at the last minute."

One option is to buy the system and bundle the cost into the sales price of the home, but that can cost thousands of dollars, which most renters don't have or they would have purchased the system to begin with.

The exact purchase price will vary depending on how many months are left on the lease and how much power the system generates.

The solar industry says far from blocking a home sale, solar panels make residences more appealing to potential buyers and boost a house's value.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a study last year that found homes with solar systems sell for a premium over homes without solar systems, specifically about $17,000 more for a relatively new 3,100-watt photovoltaic system.

It's unlikely that anyone who didn't want solar power would respond to a listing for a home with solar panels, so by definition the people looking at such houses would be open to taking over a lease, said Susan Wise, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Sunrun, which markets solar panels in Bakersfield.

"You're selling a home with lower electricity bills that is also good for the planet," she said. "The lease transfers we've done have all gone smoothly, and the new homeowner is excited to have this as an option with their new home."

John Ojala took over the lease for a solar system on a Rosedale area house he bought a few months ago and says he has no regrets.

In his case, the seller had pre-paid the lease so he got all the benefits of solar without the monthly bill.

"I would have done it even if it hadn't been pre-paid," Ojala said. "My electric bill last month was $4.44, and it was $3.10 the month before that. I'm extremely happy. It's a great investment."

Sometimes, sellers raise their sales price to cover the cost of either buying a leased solar system or paying off the balance of their rental agreement.

Ojala assumes the seller of his home did that, but said he didn't mind.

"Any time you buy a house, the cost of any upgrades is part of the sales price," he said.

The vast majority of San Mateo-based SolarCity customers transfer their leases if they have to sell before the agreement is up, said spokesman Jonathan Bass.

Usually, buyers are glad to have it because even with the lease payments, their electric bills are going to be lower than they would have been if the house didn't have solar, he said.

"Most people like lower energy costs," Bass said.


10,000 Naxal Villages to Get 24 into 7 Water Supply, Courtesy Solar

You in India's top cities may envy around one-fifth of total villages in 78 naxal affected districts set to get around the clock tap water supply, courtsey solar energy. Three Central government ministries --- New and Renewable Energy, Drinking Water and Sanitation and Finance --- have
come together to provide 24 into 7 clean drinking water to 10,000 villages in the Naxal affected districts under the Integrated Action Plan of the Central government.

A solar energy based drinking water supply system has already changed lives of villagers in naxal affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra where solar energy based dual pump piped water supply system has been installed.

A one horse power (HP) solar energy based submersible pump is installed in existing high yielding bore well and the pumped water is stored in 5000 litre water tanks. The water from these tanks is supplied to about 250 homes in a village.

And, the cost of the project for a village is low (about Rs. five lakh) because the non-polluting solar system is not a battery --- high cost -- operated. The water pumped during the day gets stored in the tanks for supply around the clock.

Despite the government spending crore of rupees in bridging the development deficit in the Naxal affected areas, clean drinking water still remains a major concern. In over 90% of villages in 120 Naxal influence districts, women have to walk half a kilometer a day or more to fetch drinking water. And, in summer months the travel increases as many ground sources of water turn dry.

The success of the project in Gadchiroli, which has also resulted in improvement of socio-economic condition of the villagers, has shown the government as possible way-out of ensuring some drinking water to these villages.

The thought has enabled the drinking water ministry to replicate project in a tleast 10,000 villages at a cost of about Rs. 500 crore.
The villages being chosen are the ones with population between 150-250 as the solar system enables is about to pump water for maximum of 250 people in a day. Also these villages are most remote in the 78 naxal districts spread across nine states.

To make the effort collaborative, three ministries are set to join hands.
The ministry of new and renewable energy would be providing a subsidy at a rate of Rs. 70 per watt to install solar water pumping system. The Finance Ministry's Clean Energy Development Fund could pay for some of the cost (Rs 229 crore) and rest would be borne by the drinking water ministry.

"Once the national clean energy fund clears the project we will seek Cabinet approval for its implementation," a senior government official said.
The government believes that all these villages can get regular water supply system within 18 months of approval as on site project implementation is possible and state governments have expertise to implement the project. For five years, the villagers can run and maintain the hassle free system.
That will make it India's biggest solar energy driven water project.