Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Solar-Panel Company Opens in Elmsford, Cites State's NY-Sun Investment

A national solar-panel company has quietly opened a new warehouse and offices in Elmsford to capitalize on New York’s $800 million solar-energy expansion plan.
Drew Dyer, an installation training instructor for SolarCity in
Elmsford, leads a safety class for new employees on Wednesday

SolarCity has leased 32,500 square feet at 203 Ridgewood Drive, where the company will store solar panels and train installers, technicians and sales staff. About 50 people work in the building, a former distribution center for the DHL delivery service.

The Elmsford location is SolarCity’s second in New York and a third is on the way for Long Island. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company’s first New York location was in Albany.

“We’ve grown from a tiny group to a staff of 49 people (in Albany),” said Ed Steins, SolarCity’s Northeast region vice president. “We have some 20 job openings in New York.”

Steins said that SolarCity decided to move into Westchester County because of its central location along the Northeast Corridor and because it expects increased demand for solar panels due to The NY-Sun Initiative, which has a stated goal of doubling the amount of annual customer-sited solar-power installations. The state program will invest $800 million through 2015 by offering incentives like rebates and grants to homeowners and businesses that install photovoltaic systems.

“The bottom line is that it makes solar more affordable,” said Steins. “We also provide financing and leasing, which allows many residents and businesses to install it for free.”

In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo promoted The NY-Sun Initiative’s investment, and in August Cuomo signed a series of bills for solar tax credits and exemptions for solar installations.

“Together with other NY-Sun incentives, these bills demonstrate the state’s commitment to reducing energy costs, growing our green energy sector, creating jobs, and protecting the environment,” Cuomo said in August.

Founded in 2006, SolarCity has about 2,100 employees in 14 states. Its 2012 expansion in the region includes a new operations center in Cranbury, N.J., and new service to Connecticut.

Source: http://www.lohud.com/article/20121004/BUSINESS/310040046/Solar-panel-company-opens-Elmsford-cites-state-s-NY-Sun-investment?nclick_check=1

Gestamp to Develop 300 Megawatts of Solar Projects in Japan

Gestamp Solar, a unit of Spanish industrial company Corporacion Gestamp, plans to develop 300 megawatts of solar power in Japan during a three-year period, mainly on rooftops.

The company is projecting the cost at $5,000 per kilowatt, Jorge Barredo, chief executive officer of Gestamp Solar, said today in Tokyo. Investment would be $1.5 billion at that rate.

“As an investor, we believe Japan offers a good environment and the Japanese market is one of our priority markets,” he said through a translator at a news conference.

The company plans to use mainly Japanese panels, Barredo said. “Japanese panels fit Japanese culture and we want to have businesses with local suppliers,” Barredo said.

Gestamp Solar develops and operates utility-scale solar plants. The company is among new entrants to Japan following the introduction of an incentive program for renewable energy in July to encourage investments in clean energy projects.

Included as part of the 300 megawatts, the company plans to develop at least 30 megawatts of solar on rooftops with Environmental Management Strategy Research Institute Inc., a Japanese consulting agency on energy management, Gestamp said in a statement today.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-04/gestamp-to-develop-300-megawatts-of-solar-projects-in-japan.html

Home Solar PV Power Packs Coming to Punjabi Homes

Back in August, the largest blackout in history affected between 600-700 million Indians, roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Researchers estimate that another 300 million Indians lack access to electricity. Despite an economy that’s been one of the fastest developing and growing in the world, it’s clear that energy access and energy security still pose critical economic, social and environmental challenges for the Indian government, society and commerce and industry.

The collective choices and decisions Indians make regarding energy supply and demand will either set the nation on a path of ongoing and increasing fossil fuel reliance and dependency or a more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable path of development centered on more local, distributed power generation from cleaner, renewable energy sources.

With developing nations predicted to account for the large majority of human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as economic growth out to 2050 and beyond, the ramifications of their choices will extend well beyond India’s borders. One thing appears clear and certain, emulating the fossil fuel, water and natural resource-intensive and consumption-driven development path of the U.S. would not only be unsustainable, it would be doomed to failure in the first place, potentially wreaking havoc across India and beyond.

Setting the course for India’s future energy supply and demand

Fortunately for all, many Indians are well aware of these issues and challenges, including at least some of the country’s political leaders. On June 30, 2008 the Indian government launched a National Action Plan on Climate Change. Part and parcel was the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, a strategic mechanism to incentivize and support development solar power throughout the country.

“Our vision is to make India’s economic development energy-efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies centre-stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy,” Indian Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh stated upon introducing the National Solar Mission.

“We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with sufficient financial resources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people. Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India. It would also enable India to help change the destinies of people around the world.”

Blackout leads to critical crossroads

Since enacting the National Solar Mission, India has quickly grown to become one the world’s leading and largest markets for solar energy. August’s massive blackout puts pressure on the government to increase power generation capacity and upgrade grid infrastructure.

Long reliant on coal-fired power plants for the large majority of national power generation, powerful coal and fossil fuel energy commercial interests are using the blackout to push for the development of more coal mines and coal-fired power plants. Similarly, Indian and overseas solar, wind and renewable energy technology providers and project developers are keen to expand India’s power generation capacity. Striking a sustainable balance between meeting immediate needs and those of future generations is no easy task, certainly for elected public representatives in open, democratic societies where the wealth of multinational corporations exceeds that of many nations.

Looking to promote and foster local clean energy self-sufficiency, the government of Punjab has launched a program that aims to have Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Packs installed in households across the state. Solar energy potential is vast in the state. Bordering Pakistan in western India, Punjab benefits from having more than 330 sunny days in an average year.

Potential solar energy is estimated at 4-7 kilowatt-hours per square meter, and the government is committed to realizing that potential, Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Bikram Singh Majithia was quoted as saying in a Business Standard news report.

Promoting home solar energy in the Punjab

With approval and financial support from India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, the Punjab government has set up Akshey Urja retail shops in all state districts where people can purchase the Solar Photovoltaic Power Packs with a 30 percent government subsidy.

Ranging in capacity from 500 watts peak to 1,000 watts peak, the solar power packs produce clean, emissions-free renewable electricity sufficient to meet basic household needs.

Hyderabad solar energy systems provider RenewAbility offers Indian households Solar PV Power Packs that are complete, turnkey home solar power systems. They include an array of PV panels that can be roof or ground-mounted, a PV charge controller, battery bank for energy storage a DC-AC power inverter and an optional connection to the grid.

The Indian solar energy start-up sees itself not only as a provider of clean energy technology, but as a social enterprise committed to promoting sustainable living in communities across the Indian sub-continent.

Extending beyond its Solar Power Packs, RenewAbility is taking a whole-systems approach to home energy production and use in India. On the supply side, it offers small wind and bio-energy as well as solar PV systems. On the home energy demand side, it offers energy efficiency and home energy technology including LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances and gadgets.

Homegrown entrepreneurial renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses such as these point the way toward healthier, sustainable economic growth and development and a brighter future for Indians, as well as the vast wealth of ecosystems and biodiversity for which the Indian subcontinent is home.

Source: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/10/home-solar-pv-power-packs-coming-punjabi-homes/

Monday, December 24, 2012

Germany’s SMA Solar Supplies Largest Japanese Solar-Power Plant

SMA Solar Technology AG (S92), Germany’s biggest solar company by market value, said it will supply Japan’s largest solar plant with its products.

SMA will supply the 70-megawatt project operated by Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corp. in Kagoshima City in southern Japan with inverters, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. Construction started last month and is due to be completed by the fall of 2013, SMA said.

“The introduction of a feed-in tariff for solar power three months ago and the decision of the government to phase out nuclear power by 2040 announced last month underline Japan’s desire to establish itself as a major market for photovoltaics worldwide,” Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Pascal Urbon said. “In the coming years, we expect strong growth in all market segments.”

Japan introduced the world’s highest feed-in tariff, or fixed-premium rate, for power from solar plants in July to boost output and accelerate the nation’s shift away from nuclear following the Fukushima disaster. Inverters are devices that convert the power generated by photovoltaic panels for use in the grid.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-04/germany-s-sma-solar-supplies-largest-japanese-solar-power-plant.html

A Tug of War Over Solar Tariffs

The United States trade case against Chinese manufacturers of solar panels took a step toward completion Wednesday with a final hearing before the International Trade Commission on whether cheap Chinese imports have injured or threatened to injure the domestic solar industry.
Workers packing solar panels at a factory in Baoding in Hebei Province.

The Commerce Department found earlier this year that Chinese companies, which dominate the global panel business, were benefiting from unfair government subsidies and were selling their products below the cost of production on the American market. In March, the department imposed anti-subsidy tariffs of 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent, and in May, it added anti-dumping duties of at least 31 percent. Those rulings were preliminary, and the department is due to announce its final decision on both on Oct. 10.

But for any tariffs to go into effect, the trade commission must find that the Chinese pricing practices have actually harmed or threatened to harm the American industry, a determination that is not expected until November.

The solar case has become one of the sharpest sticking points in growing trade tensions between the United States and China, which have surfaced in the presidential contest as well.

In trying to make a case for harm, a group of American solar industry executives told the panel of commissioners on Wednesday that they had been forced to close plants, scale back production and lay off workers at a time when they should have been able to take advantage of rising demand for their products. They said that they were unfairly undercut by Chinese suppliers that had been able to sell at a loss and continue operating, despite tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, because of generous support from state-owned banks.

Kevin Kilkelly, president of sales in the Americas for SolarWorld, the German-based manufacturer that originally filed the trade complaint, said that his company had already shut down one facility and laid off nearly 200 workers.

“Now, more workers and production at our Hillsboro, Oregon, facility are threatened,” he said. “We hope that with relief from this case, we will be able to stop the harm to this industry and return to fair competition in this market.”

But tariff opponents argued that SolarWorld had largely brought its problems on itself, and had proved unable to compete in a world where the low price of natural gas and declining subsidies were putting pressure on solar manufacturers to cut their prices sharply in order to survive. SolarWorld, they said, had bet on a more expensive technology for its panels and failed to pursue the potentially lucrative utility sector quickly enough.

Alan King, general manager of Canadian Solar’s business in the United States, said that it was critical to pick an efficient technology, but one that would work in the marketplace. He named Evergreen Solar and Solyndra, both bankrupt, as companies that had not made good choices.

“The continuing importance of innovation in the solar industry cannot be overstated,” he said. “Our goal has to be to reach grid parity.”

Some said that the trade dispute had harmed their businesses because of a preliminary finding of “critical circumstances” that allows the tariffs to be applied retroactively to goods entering the country 90 days before the ruling. The International Trade Commission will uphold or reject that finding, assuming that it remains in the Commerce Department’s final determination in the case.

Marco Mangelsdorf, a solar contractor from Hilo, Hawaii, told the panel he had received a notice that he owed about $138,000 in duties — his profit for the year — on a $54,000 order placed before the tariff announcement.

He said that he had become “collateral damage in a much wider economic and political dispute between countries and titans of the solar electric industry.”

“To harshly penalize me and my small business and employees, along with the other independent American businesses caught in this same government retroactive tariffs dragnet, cannot and should not be seen as just or fair,” Mr. Mangelsdorf said.

Source: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/a-tug-of-war-over-solar-tariffs/

14 Colorado Schools ‘Flipped The Switch’ On 5,000 Solar Panels

Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) flipped the switch Monday on 1.4 MW of green energy generated from more than 5,000 solar panels installed on 14 different schools across the district. The ceremony was held Monday at Foothill Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado.

The 14-school project may be one of the largest undertaken by a school district in the country, at least a district the size as Boulder Valley. This increases the number of buildings in the district with solar arrays to 30, half of the buildings in the system.

The panels were installed by SolarCity, a national provider of clean energy services. SolarCity owns the panels and installed them at no cost to the School District. The District entered into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the company to buy the electricity from SolarCity. In turn, SolarCity will provide full maintenance on the system.

This project provides environmental benefits to the region, eliminating over 110 million pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of taking roughly 300 cars off Colorado’s roads each year.

The systems will also allow the district to pay less for solar electricity than it currently pays for utility power. The amount varies from school to school because of the differences in the size of the school, but it is estimated to save the District between 10% and 15% annually on the electric bills of each of the 14 schools according to Eric Wittenberg, regional vice-president of SolarCity for Colorado.

“We are gratified to be able to contribute to the educational life of BVSD’s students and to help districts such as theirs demonstrate the economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy,” Eric Wittenberg said. “Solar power can become a mainstream source of energy so it is increasingly critical that our youth understand how it works, what it means for their futures.”

The money that is no longer going to the utility company will be used for educational programs for the district’s school children. This savings comes with no cash outlay by the District.

The Boulder Valley School district is one of the greenest districts in the nation. They contacted SolarCities to find a way to get solar on its schools. This project was the result. It took only nine months to go from concept to flipping the switch.

Speaking at the ceremony were various dignitaries from the School District, SolarCity, and the US Green Building Council Colorado Chapter. Also in attendance were the 5th grade students who sat on the lawn attentively during the entire program. Clearly the students are excited about this project.
The students sat so attentively because they are involved in this project. Students at these 14 schools will have access to on-site educational resources with SolarCity’s web-based monitoring. Students will be able to track in real-time how much power their solar system is generating and how much electricity their school is using. This data is displayed graphically, thus allowing students to easily see the relationship between production and consumption.

“The primary goal of this ambitious initiative was to increase the amount of carbon-free solar energy the district uses, and we are delighted to have achieved it,” said BVSD Sustainability Coordinator Ghita Carroll, Ph.D. “These solar installations will enable us to teach our students about the benefits of clean, renewable energy while delivering clean electricity to the district.”

The school district will also implement an extensive learning program called Schools Going Solar, which helps schools teach solar basics to students in grades five through 12. Developed by the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the program approaches the subject from mathematical, scientific, social and cultural perspectives.

The ceremony coincided with the first annual Green Apple Day of Service, a global initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council to educate children in sustainably built schools that conserve energy and inspire students.

This project should become a model for school districts across the nation. The program offered by SolarCity allowed the District to save money on its utility bills without investing scarce tax dollars to do so. In addition, the schools have a new educational tool to help introduce children to green energy. Perhaps the students will teach their parents about the value of solar energy.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/14-colorado-schools-flipped-the-switch-on-5-000-solar-panels

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Portable Solar Panels Bring Light, Save Lives in Developing World

Juliette Alyek came here all the way from Uganda to learn how to drill holes in a corrugated tin roof.
Dr. Juliette Alyek, a pediatrician from Uganda, learns to
install a solar panel with We Care Solar, a Berkeley nonprofit.

Over the sound of drilling, I hear laughter, mixed with frustration. “Let’s try it again,” Alyek says, then “Got it, bingo. Just right!”

Alyek is a pediatrician, who — along with 13 other women from around the world — has travelled to Berkeley for a week-long training to become a special kind of ambassador. Back in Uganda, her home city is big enough to have consistent electricity. But she says only about five percent of Ugandans are connected to the grid. That’s a big problem if a woman is giving birth at night.

“These facilities are using kerosene lamps, or they’re using torches, or they don’t have anything at all,” she says.

Berkeley obstetrician Laura Stachel saw the same problem when she traveled to Nigeria four years ago to study ways to reduce maternal mortality in state hospitals. At the time, Nigeria had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Tens of thousands of women died during childbirth every year.

At the hospital Stachel visited on that trip, she saw first-hand a major contributing factor — sporadic electricity. She saw a Cesarean section conducted by flashlight, critically ill patients waiting until dawn, or later, for urgent surgical procedures.

“And because they haven’t had that experience of 24-hour electricity,” Stachel says, “they don’t expect 24-hour electricity.”

Together, Stachel and her husband, Hal Aronson, hatched an idea — create a small kit with everything needed to bring enough power and light for doctors and health workers to safely deliver babies. Aronson is a solar energy educator, and he designed the prototype, now called a solar suitcase.

Together the couple then created a nonprofit organization, We Care Solar. Over the last four years, they have installed more than 200 of solar suitcases in 11 countries. But the first hospital to get one was the NIgerian hospital Stachel had visited in 2008. At that hospital, maternal mortality has dropped 70 percent.

At a cost of only $1,500 dollars, there’s been interest from all types of groups, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization. The solar suitcase charges cellular phones and walkie-talkies, used for in-facility communication in many places.

We Care Solar hopes to deploy as many as 10,000 solar suitcases in the next five years.

Aronson created a mock-clinic in his backyard, so the 14 women here this week from India, Africa and Mexico could be trained to install the solar suitcase’s panel. In addition, the women will take classes in maternal health and solar energy.

Once they go home, these women will be the newest “We Care Solar Ambassadors,” helping in the organization’s solar programs around the world.

Source: http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2012/10/03/portable-solar-panels-bring-light-save-lights-in-developing-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=portable-solar-panels-bring-light-save-lights-in-developing-world

Denmark Achieves Solar Energy Goal 8 Years Early

Earlier this month, Denmark announced that it had already achieved its 2020 goal for solar energy production. The country previously publicized its national goal to produce 200 megawatts of energy from solar power by the end of this decade. Now, it seems that rapidly growing demand for clean energy and a solar-friendly government has allowed this European country to exceed that goal eight years before the target. Danish experts now predict that if this growth continues, 2020 levels of solar energy production will be 100 times what was first expected.

Have you ever been to Denmark? Few would call it a sunshine-rich country. In fact, it’s probably better known for its gray, cold winters. So what has allowed Denmark’s solar industry to expand so rapidly?

According to Project Manager Kim Schultz from Invest in Denmark:

“The demand for solar cells has increased dramatically since net metering was implemented in 2010. Net metering gives private households and public institutions the possibility of ‘storing’ surplus production in the public grid, which makes solar panels considerably more attractive.

“Denmark benefits from a strong design tradition and this also characterizes the Danish solar sector in which aesthetics and thinking ahead of user needs is a central part of product development. This means that solar solutions are more likely to meet consumers’ demands.”

Although America’s solar production already dwarfs that of Denmark (we added over 700 MW of generating capacity in the second quarter of 2012 alone) it’s important to consider relative size: Denmark has a population of 5.5 million and a size of 16,638 sq. miles (and remember those winters), while the U.S. has a population of well over 311 million and a size of 2.9 million sq. miles. We can and should do more, but we’re not.

The difference between Denmark (and Germany, Japan and Spain) and other countries is how we’ve chosen to develop the solar industry. The governments of these other countries took action early, establishing specific goals for energy production and national strategies for funding and grid connectivity that would help the industry achieve them. No, their plans aren’t fail-safe, and there have already been bumps in the road. But at least they’re on the road.

The U.S. government, on the other hand, is still at the rest stop. We’ve struggled with political forces that oppose development of the solar industry on any terms. Artificial amplification of failures (Solyndra, Abound Solar) hasn’t helped. We don’t have national solar goals. Instead we have the SunShot Initiative, a so-called collaborative effort to reduce the cost of solar, and hope that the market takes care of the rest.

The point is, we haven’t decided together as a nation that renewable energy is the way forward. Other nations have. And it’s not because Denmark, Germany, Japan and Spain are tree-hugging countries, it’s because they’re smart. They acknowledge that fossil fuels are the past, and they want to be strong, secure nations of the future.

We’ve allowed politics to fragment our government to such a degree that even our obnoxious obsession with being the best can’t overcome the opposition of Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas. As a nation, we’ve become willfully shortsighted, willing to continue business as usual, leaving the catastrophe to a not-so-future generation. Will we realize our mistake before it’s too late?

Source: http://www.care2.com/causes/denmark-achieves-solar-energy-goal-8-years-early.html

Puerto Rico Solar Power Plant Built to Withstand Hurricanes, Deliver Power Reliably in All Types of Weather

With the delivery of 26 megawatts (MW) of Canadian Solar’s CS6P-P high-performance PV panels, Spain’s TSK Solar is on track to bring online Uriel Renewables-Coqui Power LLC’s San Fermin solar power plant in the northeastern Puerto Rico town of Loiza. The Loiza solar power project is notable in several aspects of its design, engineering, and construction. It should be online by December of this year.

This is expected to be the first PV project on the Caribbean island to meet the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) technical requirements that grid-connected power systems enable both active and reactive power regulation. The frequency of electricity put out by the Loiza PV plant “will be adjustable and the voltage can be modulated at the grid connection point to accommodate any sudden fluctuations in solar intensity,” Canadian Solar explains in a press release.

The solar power plant is also noteworthy in that it’s equipped with its own predictive weather station. That enables the Loiza PV system to manage sudden increases or decreases in incident sunlight that would cause fluctuations in electricity output.

Weather-Proof Solar Grid Power?

TSK Solar and project development partner Uriel Renewables also had to design and build a utility-scale PV system capable of withstanding a variety of extreme and adverse weather conditions, from hurricanes to flooding, as well as one whose foundations span a variety of soil types.

Addressing these issues, Loiza’s Canadian Solar PV panels are mounted on structures 2-4 meters above ground level capable of withstanding winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour (kph) (~162 mph). In addition to its voltage control mechanisms, the PV plant’s also being built with 40% overcurrent capacity and a back-up energy storage system, explained TSK general manager Roberto Montes.

“Given this highly demanding environment, the high-quality and durability of Canadian Solar’s modules was essential in meeting the strict requirements for us and our development partner, Uriel,” stated Roberto Montes, General Manager of TSK Solar. “Thanks to the robustness of our PV components, the new installation will help further stabilize Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.”

Added Canadian Solar CEO chairman Dr. Shawn Qu: “We continue to expand our global presence in markets that are attractive from a financial perspective and where we can work with strong local partners to ensure success. We are excited to be involved with innovative solar power plants, like the one in Loiza, as they showcase solar an option for a much wider range of markets with challenging energy needs.”

Strong and steady offshore winds also make eastern Puerto Rico a good wind power location. In late August, Spain’s Gestamp Wind announced that its 23-MW Punta de Lima wind farm at Naguabo near El Yunqe National Forest in eastern coastal Puerto Rico is nearing the half-way completion mark. It’s estimated that the Punta de Lima wind farm will provide enough clean, renewable power for 9,000 homes.

Source: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/03/puerto-rico-solar-power-plant-built-to-withstand-hurricanes-deliver-power-reliably-in-all-types-of-weather/

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Foxconn, GCL-Poly to Build, Operate Solar Power Plant in China

Foxconn Technology Group and GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. (3800) will build and jointly operate a solar- power plant in China’s Shanxi province.

The companies will share revenue from selling electricity to the government utility at the 310-megawatt plant which will use GCL’s solar cells to be assembled by Foxconn, Shu Hua, executive president of Hong Kong-listed GCL told Bloomberg News yesterday. He declined to give the investment amount or revenue split for the facility, which will be fully operational during the first half of next year.

Total budget for the plant, in Shanxi’s Datong region, was initially based on a cost of 10 yuan ($1.58) per watt, which has since dropped to about 9 yuan, Shu said. The venture helps Foxconn founder Terry Gou move toward his goal of boosting investment in alternative energy, and GCL-Poly secures a customer amid declining prices and its first loss since 2009.

The plant will be in Datong, about 200 kilometers from Taiyuan, where Foxconn operates a factory, Shu said. Simon Hsing, a spokesman for Foxconn flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., didn’t immediately answer calls to his mobile phone yesterday.

GCL-Poly, the biggest maker of polysilicon and solar wafers, secured approval from China’s National Energy Administration to start work on 340 megawatts of solar projects in the northern province of Shanxi, it said in August.

Those projects include 310 megawatts of ground-mounted solar farms and 30 megawatts of roof-top installations in Datong, it said at the time, without disclosing financial terms.

GCL-Poly reported a first-half net loss of HK$330 million, its first loss since the second half of 2009, as Europe’s financial crisis curbed the solar-energy business.

The Hong-Kong-based company also has an agreement with China Merchants New Energy Group to jointly develop at least 973 megawatts of solar plants in China in the next three years.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-03/foxconn-gcl-poly-to-build-operate-china-solar-power-plant

Solar Panels Installed

Sacramento State took another step forward in providing greener energy to the campus with the installation of solar panels on the Well and Library.
Three men work hard putting up solar panels on the rooftop of The Well.

More than 2,000 solar panels are being installed in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and provide cleaner, sustainable energy for the buildings.

Sac State Sustainability Committee member Alan Miller said the solar panels will be built and maintained at no upfront cost.

The only cost to Sac State will be purchasing the power from the provider, Vanir Energy.

Sac State’s energy director Nathaniel Martin said the partnership between the school and Vanir Energy made sense because the school will only be paying for the electricity produced.

“Usually you pay a bunch of money up front and you get money back every month and it’s usually that first cost that kills the project,” Martin said. “The only thing we pay for is the electricity.”

Miller said Sac State agreed to a 20-year contract with Vanir Energy to purchase electricity produced by the panels at a fixed rate, even if electricity rates for the rest of the school increase.

Vanir Energy, whose corporate office is located in Sacramento, began construction on the solar panels in August.

Martin said the panels are expected to start providing power for both buildings by November.

Martin said the energy produced by the solar panels is expected to cut the energy consumption of the entire school by 1.6 percent.

Sac State spends more than $4 million per year on utility bills alone, according to Sac State’s general budget.

The restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from AB 32 have prompted an increase in the use of cleaner but more expensive forms of sustainable energy.

AB 32 requires California energy companies to produce 33 percent of their total energy output from renewable energy sources to reduce emissions.

To offset the cost of constructing new renewable energy generators, energy companies have been raising rates to its customers, including Sac State.

Martin said the use of on-site solar power will help to mitigate some of the rising electricity costs, while remaining environmentally friendly.

Martin said the savings from the solar panels are estimated to save more than $64,000 in the first year of use and will save even more when utility rates increase. In addition to saving money on utility bills, the solar panels will also cut down on the university’s carbon footprint.

Martin said the solar panels will reduce Sac State’s carbon footprint by 216 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

This reduction offsets the emissions of 38 cars per year or 768 cars by the end of the contract, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Environmental Studies assistant professor Christine Flowers said the move to produce solar energy will help lower the demand for unsustainable and unclean power sources such as coal and nuclear plants.

“Anytime you can generate as much of the building’s (electricity) need is a good thing,” Flowers said. “Energy costs are only going to go up.”

Flowers said the use of solar power and other renewable energy sources will help to reduce the rapid climate change influenced by the burning of fossil fuels.

Martin said the construction of solar panels on The Well and library are just the start of Sac State’s plan to power the school with clean, renewable energy.

Parking Structure III, Tahoe Hall and The Union are locations Martin said are being considered for solar panel placement.

Martin said while students may not benefit from the savings directly, students will have the benefit of attending a university that is intent on providing clean, renewable energy for its facilities.

“This is a win-win for everybody,” Martin said. “We get solar power without creating emissions and students get to know they go to a campus that cares.”

Source: http://www.statehornet.com/campus/solar-panels-installed/article_4004b4b0-0d01-11e2-95e4-001a4bcf6878.html

SolarWorld Confident As U.S. Nears Decision on Chinese Solar Panels

U.S. solar panel producers, who have already won preliminary duties on billions of dollars of solar panel imports from China, appear well positioned to win longer-term relief in coming weeks as the U.S. government makes its final decisions.

The high-profile case, which has been copied by producers in Europe and spawned threats of retaliation from Beijing, now largely turns on whether the U.S. International Trade Commission finds U.S. manufacturers have been "materially injured," or are threatened with material injury, by the imports.

"We feel we have a very strong injury case," Tim Brightbill, lead attorney for SolarWorld Americas (SWVG.DE) and other U.S. producers, told Reuters ahead of an ITC hearing on Wednesday to examine the case before the panel votes in early November.

"The impact on the domestic industry has just been devastating. I think we're unfortunately up to 13 companies where there has been either a shutdown or a bankruptcy or significant work layoffs due to the Chinese imports," he said.

Even some critics of the duties, like GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT.O) President Tom Gutierrez, see little chance they won't be imposed because U.S. decision makers only consider whether U.S. producers have been harmed or threatened by the imports and not the larger impact any duties might have.

"That's the fundamental flaw in the process. ... Nothing is going to change," said Gutierrez, whose company exports high-technology equipment used in the solar manufacturing process and could be hit if China does decide to retaliate.

Gutierrez predicted that "not a single U.S. job will be created" if U.S. duties are imposed, but thousands could be lost in the installation and export sector.

The U.S. Commerce Department, which has set combined preliminary duties of roughly 35 percent on most Chinese solar panels, will make a final decision on duties on October 10.

That would set the stage for the final ITC vote in early November. It is relatively rare for the ITC to reject duties but it does occur. At least four commissioners would have to change their votes from last year, when the panel voted 6-0 that there was a reasonable indication of material injury.


U.S. producers also hope the Commerce Department will set higher duties in its final decision next week.

They were disappointed the department set preliminary countervailing duties of just 2.90 percent to 4.73 percent to offset Chinese government subsidies and anti-dumping duties of about 31 percent to offset unfairly low pricing by the main Chinese producers and exporters.

"We don't feel (the duties) adequately reflect the entire harm or the damage that's been done to the U.S. industry," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Americas, whose German parent company is also pushing for duties in Europe.

"If you look at the pricing collapse that's occurred over the past three years, it's (much more than what was reflected in) those initial duties that were put in place," Brinser added.

SolarWorld also wants the Commerce Department to reverse a decision that excludes from U.S. duties any Chinese solar panels made from cells manufactured outside China.

The department's preliminary stance on that issue will just encourage Chinese producers to out-source their cell production off shore to escape U.S. duties, Brinser said.

A broader order and higher anti-dumping and countervailing duties would help the U.S. industry start growing again, instead of just hanging on, he said.

However, non-manufacturing segments of the U.S. solar industry fear duties could cripple U.S. demand in the long run.

"The irony of the trade case is that at precisely the time we're making progress in reducing the price of solar, SolarWorld ... is trying to increase prices," said Kevin Lapidus, senior vice president at Sun Edison, a California-based company that installs solar panels.

Rather than try to push prices higher, the U.S. solar industry needs to find ways to further reduce costs so it can be competitive with fossil fuels, Lapidus said.

SolarWorld and other U.S. manufacturers represent only about 2 to 3 percent of U.S. solar industry jobs and are jeopardizing the future for the other 97 to 98 percent, he said.

Lapidus is a spokesman for the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which estimates there are some 100,000 solar industry jobs in the United States, most of which are involved in the design, engineering, sales, installation and maintenance of solar systems.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/03/us-usa-china-solar-idUSBRE89205620121003

Friday, December 21, 2012

Championing Solar Power, on Land and Sea

He recently circumnavigated the globe in his solar-powered boat, but Raphaël Domjan’s mission is far from over.
Raphaël Domjan made a 585-day trip around the world in this solar-powered craft.

“The goal was not to go around the world, but to spread the message that we can change, that it is not too late,” he said in an interview in Barcelona, where he participated in the Global Clean Energy Forum.

During the 585-day, 60,000-kilometer journey, described by my colleague Bettina Wassener in May, Mr. Domjan and his crew were subjected to all the rigors of an around-the-world sailing trip, except that lack of sun was the most daunting problem — not lack of wind.

Mr. Domjan conceived of the €15 million, or $19 million, project not to conquer the oceans, but to make a global audience aware of a global problem. On dry land, Mr. Domjan is continuing his advocacy work for his SolarPlanet Foundation.

“Now we have to spread the message, it is much easier to communicate with the people when you have this kind of project,” he said about his support for renewable and clean energy sources.

“Before we arrived in Monaco, it was all just talk,” he said, referring to his port of departure.

Because the boat is light and close to the water, minimizing the effects of wind, the 31-meter, or 102-foot, vessel could be powered with little more horsepower than a common scooter has, Mr. Domjan said. A specialized navigation system taking tides, currents, wind and waves into account helped him and his crew chart a path that would tax the engines as little as possible.

Mr. Domjan said the craft’s solar panels, storage batteries and computer systems gave him no trouble, but more conventional technologies — like onboard showers, toilets and the ship’s propellers — repeatedly broke down during the 19-month journey.

“The clean tech today is working better than the grandfather technology,” he said.

At one point, he said, he made a 500-kilometer, or 310-mile, detour to help a fishing vessel in distress. “With our solar boat we rescued a regular boat,” he said.

His vessel, named Turanor PlanetSolar after a Tolkien-invented word for “power of the sun,” is now sitting in the French Mediterranean port city of La Ciotat waiting for its next mission. The ship’s owner is hoping that it will have a second, more commercial life, Mr. Domjan said.

A book and a documentary film chronicling the journey are set to be released by the end of the year.

Currently, Mr. Domjan and his foundation are working on bringing a solar-powered boat to Lake Titicaca, on the border of Peru and Bolivia. He says that boat — a much smaller version of the one he sailed the oceans with — will be the first solar-powered vessel to ply the waters of the famed high-altitude lake.

“You can achieve amazing things with solar and renewable energies,” he said.

Source: http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/championing-solar-power-on-land-and-sea/

Viewpoint: Solar Power or Bust: We don’t Need Another Solyndra

Danny Huizinga

“When it’s completed in a few months, Solyndra expects to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world,” President Barack Obama declared at the Solyndra plant in Fremont, Calif. That was in May 2010, over a year after the Department of Energy guaranteed a $535 million loan to the company, promising a bright future and more jobs for Americans.

Today, Solyndra instead finds itself in bankruptcy court, as it was unable to effectively compete with the low manufacturing costs of existing solar firms. According to Tim Worstall on Forbes, it was possible to see this failure coming.

“Manufacturing costs for the major competitor to all solar PV manufacturers (not just the silicon ones) were well below, in 2009, what Solyndra’s costs were predicted to be,” he said.

After the Solyndra scandal, the Obama administration has been noticeably quiet on the solar power issue, hesitant to draw criticism from Republicans.

Until recently when SoloPower, a domestic solar panel manufacturing company, revealed that it is also counting on a $197 million government loan guarantee.

How will SoloPower be any different from the failed Solyndra? SoloPower CEO Tim Harris is optimistic, saying, “[Solyndra] could never get their costs down to where we are starting… We’ve got so much demand for this product we have all the orders we could possibly fill.”

Supporters of SoloPower also cite the $219 million from private investors as proof of the company’s rising success, forgetting that Solyndra also secured $286 million in private financing. Solyndra was also ranked as one of the three “top clean-tech companies” by the Wall Street Journal. It didn’t stop them from falling apart.

Typically, solar power companies have trouble competing with Chinese firms, which are able to produce solar panels at an extremely low manufacturing cost.

However, even today, Chinese firms are cutting costs by laying off workers, due to extremely low demand from Europe for solar panels. Great Britain has seen panel installations drop almost 90 percent since the government slashed solar panel subsidies.

The economic data indicates that SoloPower would be unable to succeed without government aid, a worrying prospect considering the politics behind operating Amtrak. Amtrak is another government-dependent company that has consumed almost $50 billion of taxpayer dollars and consistently runs at a loss.

When Solyndra failed, the President first tried to blame the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program on his predecessor, President Bush. However, his words in May 2010 at the Solyndra plant told a different story:

“But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans.”

As President Obama said correctly in 2010, the fast-tracked loans for Solyndra came directly from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known more commonly as the stimulus passed by President Obama.

Only time will tell what the fate of SoloPower will be; however, let’s hope that the administration considers the consequences of loaning out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to a company that is unable to support itself in a market with plummeting demand.

Nobody wants another Solyndra.

Danny Huizinga is a sophomore Baylor Business Fellow from Chicago. He manages the political blog Consider Again. Read more of his works at www.consideragain.com.

Source: http://baylorlariat.com/2012/10/02/viewpoint-solar-power-or-bust-we-dont-need-another-solyndra/

BrightSource Calif. Rio Mesa Solar Plant Passes State Test

Private solar power company BrightSource Energy's proposed 500-megawatt (MW) Rio Mesa solar power plant in southeast California has won a preliminary recommendation from the staff of the state's energy regulator.

The California Energy Commission said in a release late on Friday that its staff had found the solar project, estimated to cost $2 billion, would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulation and standards and the environmental impacts would be less than significant.

The staff, however, said some issues still needed to be resolved, including geology and paleontology, soil and surface water, traffic and transportation, transmission system engineering, water supply and visual resources.

The staff's preliminary report is not a final decision, which the commission said would come later.

If the project is approved, BrightSource said on its website it hopes to start construction in 2013 with completion in 2016. The project would power about 200,000 homes.

The company has agreed to sell power from Rio Mesa to Southern California Edison (SCE), a unit of California power company Edison International.

BrightSource told the commission the project would average 840 workers a month during construction, with a maximum of 2,188 at the peak, with up to 100 full-time employees needed when the project is operating.

The proposed Rio Mesa project consists of two 250-MW solar plants, producing steam to generate electricity. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats - elevated mirrors used to focus the sun's rays on a solar receiver.

The solar receiver is located atop a 750-foot (230-meter) power tower near the center of each solar field.

BrightSource wants to build Rio Mesa on Palo Verde Mesa in Riverside County, about 13 miles southwest of Blythe, California, which is 224 miles east of Los Angeles.

The proposed 3,805-acre (1,540-hectare) site would be located on land leased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

BrightSource originally asked the commission in October 2011 for permission to build a 750-MW project on about 5,750 acres. But in July 2012, the company amended its application to remove the 250-MW plant that would have been on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land due in part to concerns raised by the BLM.

Separately, BrightSource started building the 370-MW Ivanpah solar power plant in California's Mojave Desert in October 2010 and will sell the power to PG&E Corp and Southern California Edison. The company expects Ivanpah to cost about $2.2 billion and enter service in 2013.

In addition, BrightSource is developing the 500-MW Hidden Hills solar power plant in southeast California near the Nevada border and will sell power to PG&E. The company expects Hidden Hills to cost about $2.7 billion and start construction in 2013 with the plant entering service in 2015.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/01/us-utilities-brightsource-riomesa-idUSBRE89011H20121001

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canadian Solar Expands into Puerto Rico with Planned 26 MW Solar Power Plant Installation

Canadian Solar Inc. (the "Company" or "Canadian Solar") (NASDAQ: CSIQ), one of the world's largest solar companies, today announced the delivery 26 MW of its high quality and high-performing CS6P-P solar power modules to EPC Contractor TSK Solar for the "San Fermin" solar power plant installation in Puerto Rico, co-developed by firms Uriel Renewables inc. and Coqui Power LLC. The solar power plant is located in the North Eastern town of Loiza, a region that regularly faces adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes, tropical storms and flooding. Due to the specific nature of the project and its location, the project's electrical equipment were installed on structures that elevated them two to four meters above ground, and have also been designed to withstand winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour.

The solar power system is expected to be completed and connected to the national grid in December 2012, making it the first photovoltaic project in Puerto Rico to meet the technical requirements of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) by enabling both active and reactive power regulation. Moreover, the electrical frequency will be adjustable and the voltage can be modulated at the grid connection point to accommodate any sudden fluctuations in solar intensity. The PV installation also has a very unique feature with its own predictive weather station to prepare the solar power plant for sudden increases or reductions of sunlight.

"This PV project has proven to have an extra degree of complexity, as we needed to plan, design and engineer for weather conditions particular to the Caribbean region ranging from hurricanes and flooding to a variety of soil types. The solar plant was also designed to operate in a challenging electrical environment, with 40% overcurrent, voltage control issues and the need for a back-up energy storage system. Given this highly demanding environment, the high-quality and durability of Canadian Solar's modules was essential in meeting the strict requirements for us and our development partner, Uriel," stated Roberto Montes, General Manager of TSK Solar. "Thanks to the robustness of our PV components, the new installation will help further stabilize Puerto Rico's electrical grid."

"The joint efforts, focus and cooperation of all stakeholders involved in this project have helped keep the installation on its planned schedule," said Fernando Metcalf, President of Uriel Renewables. "Canadian Solar's experience, module reliability and high quality has proven to be the right choice for the San Fermin project. We look forward to continue developing the relationship as we deploy our solar PV pipeline in the region".

Canadian Solar's CS6P-P solar modules, which were selected for the Loiza project, recently received the highest PV USA (PTC) ratings – a universally recognized indicator of a solar system's real performance and power output.

"We continue to expand our global presence in markets that are attractive from a financial perspective and where we can work with strong local partners to ensure success," said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. "We are excited to be involved with innovative solar power plants, like the one in Loiza, as they showcase solar an option for a much wider range of markets with challenging energy needs."

About Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) 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, Africa, Australia, Asia and Africa, Canadian Solar provides premium quality, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solar solutions to support global, sustainable development. For more information, please visit www.canadiansolar.com.

Safe Harbor/Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements in this press release 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; 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.

Source: http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-10-02&val=544249&cat=energy

Italian Power From Wind, Solar Beat Government Target in 2011

Renewable power generation in Italy rose by 8 percent to 82,961 gigawatt-hours in 2011 as more solar and wind projects came online, the government’s renewable energy regulator said.

Renewables accounted for 23.5 percent of final electricity demand in Italy as solar photovoltaic power, along with wind and bioenergy, compensated for a drop in hydropower, the agency known as Gestore Servizi Energetici said today in an e-mailed statement. That exceeded the government’s 19.6 percent target, according to a report on the GSE website.

Italy last year had a boom in solar panel sales, becoming the world’s biggest market with almost 9,300 megawatts of new installations. Total installed renewable power capacity rose to 41,399 megawatts in 2011 from 30,284 a year earlier, GSE said.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-02/italian-power-from-wind-solar-beat-government-target-in-2011.html

Analysis: Threatened Duties Push China Solar Firms Offshore

Chinese solar companies are being forced to speed up plans to move a big chunk of their manufacturing offshore as Europe looks increasingly likely to join the United States in implementing duties on imports of Chinese-made solar equipment.

The timing could not be worse for the Chinese firms, whose balance sheets are already being strained by nearly two years of weak prices and slowing demand for solar energy products.

The risk now is that they will lose much of the cost advantage that has been the basis for their dominance of global solar industry, analysts and investors say.

At stake in Europe is a market that was worth $27 billion to the companies in 2011 -- about a third of their production and about 7 percent of all Chinese exports to the European Union.

The European Commission is investigating whether Chinese solar companies are selling below cost, or "dumping", in the world's biggest solar market. European companies have complained that their Chinese rivals benefit unfairly from subsidies.

China's state-run banks have extended billions of dollars of credit to solar companies. And even on the day the EC subsidy complaint was announced last week the China Securities Journal reported that China Development Bank Corp CHDB.UL would prioritize loans to 12 top solar companies.

Some experts expect Europe to go further than the United States, which imposed a preliminary duty of about 30 percent on panel imports from China in May.

The U.S. measure is considered to have been largely ineffectual because it applied only to solar cells, not the completed panels. This means Chinese companies can import cells to China from third countries and then export the completed panels in the United States free of anti-dumping duties.

The United States takes about 7 percent of Chinese solar product exports, worth about $2.8 billion in 2011.

Of more immediate concern is Europe, and Chinese companies are already hedging their bets.

China Sunergy Co Ltd (CSUN.O) plans to move some panel assembly lines to Turkey by the end of the year, regardless of the outcome of the current EC investigation.

"...Our production in Europe will hedge the potential imposed duties," company spokeswoman Elaine Li told Reuters.

Trina Solar Ltd (TSL.N) said in August that it could build a partnership in Europe, among other options, if the duties were implemented.

The parent of Hanwha SolarOne Co Ltd (HSOL.O) has gone another route, announcing plans to buy German solar group Q-Cells QCEG.DE for about $50 million, an acquisition that Hanwha has said will help it sidestep tariffs.


Trina and Yingli Green Energy (YGE.N), among the companies that the China Securities Journal said were potential beneficiaries of new loans, reject the subsidy allegation, saying they receive financing at usual market rates.

"If the (EU) tariff is applied to both cells and modules or all three (including wafers used to make cells), then a large part of the Chinese cost advantage is factored out of the equation, which becomes highly problematic," said Shyam Mehta of GTM Research in Brooklyn, New York.

"And locating manufacturing for upstream components like wafers and cells in Europe is not an answer, given how much higher costs are," he said.

It costs about 40 percent more in Europe than in China just to assemble panels from cells, according to industry experts.

That means production could shift to cheaper countries, in Asia or Africa, analysts and investors say.

Edward Guinness, co-portfolio manager at Guinness Atkinson Asset Management in London, said manufacturing could shift to countries such as Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.

"If (Chinese) loans are provided at the company level rather than for specific manufacturing plants, then state support could absolutely help move manufacturing out of the country," said Guinness, whose firm held shares of LDK Solar Co Ltd (LDK.N) and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP.N) as of June 30, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Guinness and Leopold Quell, a fund manager at Raiffeisen Capital Management in Vienna, are among investors who think Europe will take a tough stance against the Chinese companies.

"My feeling ...is that regulators in Europe will make life very difficult for Chinese companies trying to bypass the tariffs," said Quell, whose fund held JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO.O) shares until last year.


In less than three years, fast-expanding Chinese companies led by global market leader Suntech have made China the world's biggest producer of solar products.

In the process, they have taken on huge debts and flooded the market with solar equipment, leading to a steep fall in prices and bankruptcies in Europe and the United States.

Demand was also hit when Europe scrapped subsidies aimed at encouraging consumers to switch to solar power.

Share prices in the sector, dominated by U.S.-listed Chinese companies, have fallen by at half over the past two years, and they could fall further if costs rise because of new tariffs.

"As long as the overall demand situation is not improving, any individual moves of the companies won't be sufficient to really improve their situation," said Thiemo Lang, a senior portfolio manager at Sustainable Asset Management in Zurich.

Lang, whose fund has $900 million in cleantech assets under management, said companies were better off saving capital in times of deteriorating balance sheets and oversupply.

The likelihood is growing that the United States could broaden the scope of proposed duties after eight lawmakers argued that the current duty would allow Chinese solar panel makers to escape U.S. duties by outsourcing cell production to another country, even if the materials for the cells come from China and the final solar panels are assembled there.

Some Chinese companies have already started sourcing cells from Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia. It costs about 15 percent more to produce in Taiwan compared with China.

The U.S. Commerce Department is scheduled to release its final determinations in the case on October 10.

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/01/us-chinasolar-antidumping-idUSBRE89012E20121001

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Xcel Must Retain Solar Subsidy

Minnesota regulators on Monday ordered Xcel Energy to retain a popular program that subsidizes the small-scale solar-power projects of its customers.
Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program has helped 560 homeowners
and businesses afford solar panel systems since 2010.

State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman decided that the Minneapolis-based utility must fund the Solar Rewards program at the current $5 million-a-year level for the next three years.

The state's small-but-growing solar industry, especially installers, had feared a drop in orders if the program ended. So far, it has helped 560 homeowners and businesses afford solar panel systems since 2010.

Xcel wanted to drop Solar Rewards from its broader conservation program after 2013, saying it was not a good deal for the ratepayers, who foot the bill. The utility also argued that solar generation doesn't belong in a conservation program that aims to reduce electricity use by 1.5 percent each year.

Rothman on Monday approved Xcel's $260 million in proposed spending on conservation through 2015, but exercised his authority to reject Xcel's wishes on the solar incentives.

"In the nearly three years that Xcel has administered Solar Rewards, significant progress has been made in building an infrastructure to support a solar industry in Minnesota," Rothman said in a statement. "Jobs have been created, financial investments have been made, and a new industry is gaining traction in Minnesota's economy."

The Commerce Department already is working with Xcel on replacing Solar Rewards after 2015. Xcel said it appreciated the "thorough and thoughtful process," which prompted dozens of people to write letters of support for Solar Rewards.

"We are eager to work with the department and other stakeholders to develop a better-designed program that would serve both state energy policy goals and our customers' interests," Xcel said in a statement.

Rothman's decision closely follows the recommendation of the Commerce Department's energy resources division in August. One recommendation that he accepted is to reduce the amount of subsidy per project from $2.25 per kilowatt-hour to $1.50 per kilowatt-hour.

Lynn Hinkle, director of policy development for the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, said the trade group had unanimously supported Solar Rewards at the lower subsidy.

"It is a significant boost to our installers and contractors to have a budget for 2014 and 2015," Hinkle said.

He said the state's solar industry includes about 100 companies. He said about 35 companies are manufacturers, some of them established in other industries, that now produce glass for solar panels, ovens for solar cell production, solar-related electronics and sensors as well as sheet-metal enclosures for solar components.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/business/172161381.html

Conergy, German Solar-Energy Company, Plans Greek Projects

Conergy AG (CGYK), a German solar-energy company, and Athens-based MGD Energy plan to operate six solar plants in Greece with a total capacity of 3 megawatts, enough to supply 1,100 households.

The plants will supply as much as 4.3 million kilowatt- hours of electricity a year, according to a statement posted on Conergy’s website today.

Solar-power generation in Greece climbed 65 percent to 724.18 watts in the first half of the year, the state-controlled electricity market operator, known as Lagie, said in July.

Conergy and MDG plan more joint projects in the country, according to the statement.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-02/conergy-german-solar-energy-company-plans-greek-projects.html

China's Hanergy to Buy U.S. Solar Startup Miasole: Source

Miasole, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars as one of Silicon Valley's hottest cleantech startups, has agreed to be sold to China's Hanergy Holding Group for $30 million, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The company will continue to operate as a unit of Hanergy, and no employees will be laid off for a year after the deal closes, the source said, adding that it is expected to happen later this month.

Miasole declined to comment. Hanergy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Solar manufacturers are struggling with a global glut of solar panels that has erased profits and hampered funding for new companies and technologies. Miasole's deal with Hanergy would be the latest example of a U.S. solar startup being rescued by a larger Asian industrial manufacturer. In the last year, solar companies HelioVolt and Ascent Solar Technologies Inc (ASTI.O) have sold stakes to South Korean conglomerate SK Group and China's TFG Radiant Group, respectively.

One analyst estimated that Miasole's investors -- which include Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and VantagePoint Capital Partners -- would receive about six cents on the dollar.

"Here is the latest entry to the list of PV (photovoltaic) manufacturers getting bought for pennies on the dollar," Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said in a note to clients, calling the deal "a fire-sale."

"The semi-distressed nature of this transaction illustrates the problems faced by all module producers amid the massive industry overcapacity," Molchanov wrote.

The acquisition would be Hanergy's second of a struggling thin film solar company this year. The company, China's largest privately owned renewable energy provider, also bought Solibro, a unit of insolvent German solar group Q-Cells QCEG.UL.

Miasole, based in Santa Clara, California, has roughly $500 million since 2006. In additional to Kleiner Perkins and VantagePoint, investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, Firelake Capital and Passport Capital.

Miasole announced a $55 million funding round as recently as March of this year, but had said late last year that it was seeking a partner to help support its growth plan.

Miasole is one of a handful of U.S. solar companies using copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS, to make solar panels. CIGS panels have long been seen as a possible challenger to traditional silicon-based panels because they cost less to manufacture and have the potential to generate close to as much electricity from the sun's light.

But a dramatic fall in the price of silicon panels has put increased pressure on startups to bring a product to market that can compete with ever-cheaper traditional modules made in Asia. Solyndra, another California company that was among the most high-profile U.S. CIGS manufacturers, fell victim to sharply declining panel prices and filed for bankruptcy a year ago.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/01/us-solar-miasole-idUSBRE8901G720121001

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Real Estate Financing Models Can Boost Solar

Financial innovation—particularly at the retail level—is critical to fostering ongoing growth and development of solar and renewable energy projects. To see the triple bottom line potential to be realized, one need only look at the popularity and rapid growth of residential and community solar energy providers using third-party ownership business models by making home solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems affordable for a much wider range of Americans.

Adapting a well-known and tremendously successful investment vehicle—the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)—to finance solar power projects, San Francisco’s Renewable Energy Trust (RET) sees an opportunity to significantly broaden solar energy investment opportunities for individual, as well as professional, investors while at the same time substantially reducing the cost of capital for project developers.

Significantly for solar power project developers, San Francisco-based RET says applying the REIT structure to the solar power industry can lower the cost of capital for solar power development by as much as 20 percent.

Democratizing solar PV project investment

A similar tax-advantaged renewable energy investment vehicle initiative is under way in Washington, D.C. Senators Christopher Coons (D-Delaware) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) on June 7 introduced legislation that would extend master limited partnerships (MLPs)—special purpose investment vehicles that oil and gas companies have used to great effect—to renewable energy projects.

Applying the REIT structure to finance solar power projects, “would be the ultimate democratization of funding and support for the solar industry,” stated RET president, Karen Morgan, in a press release. “Individuals can actively invest, knowing their dollars will put up more panels—while buying them a piece of the action in the fast expanding clean energy sector.”

Asset financing for U.S. PV projects—has grown explosively, by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58 percent since 2004, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which projects that some $6.9 billion in additional capital per year will be invested in developing solar PV projects through 2020. McKinsey & Co. forecasts that another 80-gigawatts (GW) to 130-GW of new solar PV generating capacity will be commissioned in North America by 2020, RET noted.

Opening up tax-advantaged solar projects to individual investors

Required to distribute 90 percent or more of their taxable income, REITs offer investors substantial tax advantages as well as relatively high yields and steday income streams. As they can be listed and traded on the major stock exchanges, they are also liquid.

“RET is extending a mature and fully-developed financing mechanism to a new asset class, in the same way REITs have done over and over. Innovation is a normal part of the REIT industry,” RET’s chief financial officer (CFO) Christian Fong elaborated.

“REITs became the dominant investment vehicle for commercial real estate, and then evolved to include real estate-dependent sectors from cell phone towers to data centers to energy transmission. And through RET, we believe they can soon be a key investment vehicle for accelerating the growth of solar power.”

Supporting RET’s initiative is California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), “an independent, non-profit corporation working to advance clean energy using tools from finance, public policy and technological innovation.” CalCEF itself employs an innovative “evergreen” fund-of-funds investment strategy in which profits are reinvested to further realize its objectives, working with partners at the local, state, national and international levels.

Source: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/10/sf-looks-solar-reits-boost-pv-project-investment-lower-cost-capital/

JASO Cypress Cells More Efficient - Analyst Blog

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. 's ( JASO ) high-efficiency monocrystalline and multicrystalline Cypress solar cells in large-volume production have achieved average conversion efficiency of 19.1% and 17.4%, respectively. However, these monocrystalline and multicrystalline solar cells, on an industry basis, have a conversion efficiency of only 18.8% and 17%, respectively.

These cypress series cells possess superior photoelectric conversion efficiency, excellent solder ability, positive tolerance for cell power compensation, low-current electrical performance parameters and lower encapsulation power loss as a result of high-voltage. These Cypress cells would help in reducing the cost of modules on a per watt basis and ensure a high power output without an increase in the cost of cells.

Six inch full square monocrystalline solar modules of the company's Cypress series have the capacity to generate power output of 280W, 6-inch standard monocrystalline modules can generate 270W power and six inch multicrystalline solar modules now can produce a power output of 260W. All these three kinds of series have the capacity to generate 5W to 10W higher power in comparison to the industry average.

JA Solar Holdings is one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-performance solar power products. In December last year, the company's high efficiency Maple solar cells have reached conversion efficiency levels of 18.5% in large volume production. The average conversion efficiency recorded for Maple cells in mass production is 18%, which was well above than the industry standard average conversion efficiency of approximately 16.8% for multi-crystalline solar cells.

These achievements prove that JA Solar Holdings is one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-performance solar power products. The company has been making best use of its potential by supplying solar cells and modules. JA Solar Holdings recently entered into an agreement to supply 47 MW of high-quality, high-efficiency crystalline solar modules to A Shade Greener ("ASG"). A Shade Greener is a PV installer and the largest installer of free solar panels to the residential market in the United Kingdom.

JA Solar Holdings Company is one of the most cost-efficient solar producers with a geographically-diversified customer base and silicon wafer supply agreements that cater to its production. The company benefits from higher shipments, subsidy programs in China, improving operating efficiencies and higher conversion efficiency.

However, given the industry wide high inventory level, we believe margins will decline moving forward. In addition, tepid module demand in Europe, rising competition, wafer dependency, the financial stability of its customers and the oversupply of solar cells may adversely impact the company's performance over the near term. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

Based in Shanghai, China, JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. is a leading manufacturer of high-performance solar power products that convert sunlight into electricity for residential, commercial, and utility-scale power generation. It is one of the world's largest producers of solar cells. Its standard and high-efficiency product offerings are among the most powerful and cost-effective in the industry. JA Solar also produces solar modules that it distributes under its own brand and produces on behalf of solar manufacturers globally.

Source: http://community.nasdaq.com/News/2012-10/jaso-cypress-cells-more-efficient-analyst-blog.aspx?storyid=177901#.UK--WO9WjFw

Solar Power Gives Fremont Student Gardeners Extended Season

The growing season may be coming to an end for most gardeners, but middle-school students at Ellis School will be planting lettuce seeds soon and should have a winter crop by January.
Michael Bliss, center, of Seacoast Area Renewable Energy
Initiative, lifts a solar collector to be installed at a greenhouse
Saturday at the Ellis School in Fremont with help from science
teacher John Hermann, left, and Steve Condon of ReVision Energy

The season will be extended for the school’s educational greenhouse after a solar hot water system was installed Saturday as part of a project that began a year ago, thanks to donated labor and materials, volunteers and a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s “Toolbox for Education” program.

“There are so many different lessons this can give to the students,” said Jen Rydeen, vice president of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association.

Rydeen, who applied for the grant on behalf of the PTA, was one of several volunteers on hand Saturday as the system was installed to provide a sustainable method of heating the greenhouse planting beds in the winter.

ReVision Energy of Brentwood and Seacoast Area Renewable Energy Initiative (SEAREI) teamed up with the school to help design and install the system. They also offered skilled volunteers and donated resources for the project.

ReVision Energy installs solar hot water and solar electricity systems for homes, businesses, schools and nonprofits.

SEAREI is a nonprofit organization whose volunteers encourage the use of renewable energy and assist with local projects.

“It’s an energy raising,” said Michael Bliss of Portsmouth, a SEAREI board member and founder. SEAREI is an organization modeled after a traditional “barn raiser,” where a community comes together based on the principle of paying it forward.

Saturday’s work included the installation of two solar collectors, a pump station and a tank.

John Hermann, the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher who oversees the greenhouse and has worked closely with ReVision Energy and SEAREI on the project, will tie the system into the planting beds with help from students.

Hermann, an organic farmer who enjoys sharing his skills with the school community, uses the greenhouse to give students a hands-on gardening experience. They plant the seeds and care for the vegetables with his help.

Students also hold plant sales and are making garlic powder for the school’s kitchen. Hermann hopes the winter lettuce crop can be used in salads.

“It’s exciting. There’s really good community support,” he said. “I try to make sure all the kids get out here. Some kids don’t have gardens. They’ve never eaten a tomato and never eaten broccoli off a stalk.”

Hermann wants students to get the lettuce seeds planted this month, and with the solar hot water system in place, he said the school should have a winter crop of lettuce by January.

Other vegetables will be planted by early March followed by flowers in April.

Heather Fournier, who works for ReVision Energy and is a Fremont resident with children in the school, said the system would have cost close to $12,000 if it were installed in a house.

ReVision Energy donated the tank and collectors for the project and hopes to work on similar projects at other schools.

“It’s nice to put your goals at home,” she said of the greenhouse project.

Source: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20121001/NEWS04/710019920

Monday, December 17, 2012

State's Solar Tax Credit under Review

The Louisiana Department of Revenue weighed the future benefits of solar energy at a public hearing last week in Baton Rouge.

Homeowners in Louisiana can choose solar-generated electricity and realize a 50-percent, one-time, refundable, state income tax credit for the purchase and installation of the system under provisions of the Wind and Solar Energy Systems Tax Credit created by state legislation in 2007.
Louisiana’s investment in this incentive program is something the solar energy industry does not want to see fade away.

Nearly 100 people, from all over the state and nation, filed into the hearing room to shed some light on LDR’s rules for the Income Tax Credits for Wind or Solar Energy Systems.

The solar power industry generated more than just energy that day as more than a dozen people registered to speak.

“It appears there was a lot of interest,” said Byron Henderson, press secretary for the Department of Revenue, “This is just a public hearing on proposed rule changes for the tax credits on the wind and solar energy systems.”

Tucker Crawford, co-owner of a Louisiana-based solar energy company and president of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association – which is a non-profit, trade organization that represents solar and renewable energy firms in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama– told the committee that the entire Louisiana solar industry has far exceeded the state’s initial estimates.

“That’s a good thing to Louisiana energy consumers,” Crawford said. “In 2007, Louisiana only had five licensed solar installers. Today, we have 196 and counting; many of them are represented here today.”

Crawford said that the 2007 state law – which allowed income tax credits for wind or solar energy systems purchased and installed by taxpayers to cut costs on their homes or buildings – has created local jobs, increased the state’s energy independence and reduced or eliminated utility bills for more than 3,100 Louisiana households.

He said that according to his projections, the state’s solar-electric consumers can save an estimated $90 million over the life of these installed systems.

“This (tax) credit has helped deliver as many as 1,000 direct and indirect paying jobs...to Louisiana,” he said. “Suppliers, professional services, transportation industries, specialty contractors and money others are benefitting from this tax credit.”

Crawford said that in addition to the new job creation, the long-term utility bill savings for consumers “translates into disposable household income to directly enhance the state’s economy”.

Also addressing the committee was Stephen Shelton, executive director of the Louisiana Clean Tech Network, who said promoting solar energy use is in the state’s best interest.

“We believe the people in this room and in the industry represented proves here today that solar energy is here for the future,” Shelton said. “It’s not a new industry. It’s been around for over 10 years and it’s not an industry that is going to fade away.”

Shelton said that if the state’s tax incentives for solar were not “properly handled at this stage of development” the solar energy industry could go in the wrong direction.

“We all believe in this industry and we all work in this industry for the same three reasons: it’s good for the people, it’s good for profit and it’s good for the environment.” he said.

Craig Page – who said he was a “small, electrical contractor” with a company called Optimize Solar – spoke in favor of the industry and the state tax incentives.

“I had an electrical contracting business and the recession kind of hit me hard on residential construction,” Page said. “These tax incentives and this solar industry gave me an opportunity to rebound from that. I believe that changing it would just devastate the progress that has been made. I think that reasonable restrictions need to be put in place so that tax credits can’t be taken advantage of.”

One speaker stated that Louisiana’s growing solar energy industry is being watched “very closely”, around the world.

Wolfgang Beaugrand, the southeast, regional manager for German-based solar panel manufacturer MAGE Solar USA, said that companies like his are watching what happens with the state’s incentive program and industry.

“In Louisiana, you have actually achieved a healthy industry,” Beaugrand said. “And to build an industry that is capable of doing excellent work and excellent installation...the most important part is to continue what you are doing right now. If you are making any changes at all, they need to be slowly and soundly...otherwise we have an impact that could be potentially devastating for the industry.”

Robert Suggs, the CEO for South Coast Solar, said that state’s tax incentive program has helped grow his company from five employees in 2007 to over 40 installers who bring money for contracted work from other states and who are contracted to work outside of the US as well.

“Our employees live and work full-time in our state and spend their money in our communities, the vendors we work for and with are local with a local workforce and live in the same communities that we work in,” Suggs said. “Since it’s inception, South Coast Solar has put over $6.6 million dollars back into the local economies, that’s nearly 18 percent of the state’s expenses. The state’s investment...has yielded multiple returns.”

Source: http://eunicetoday.com/bookmark/20353535-State-s-solar-tax-credit-under-review