Monday, June 3, 2013

ATK... Flexing Their MegaFlex™ (Solar Array)

[SatNews] ATK's (NYSE: ATK) MegaFlex™ solar array was recently selected by...

...NASA's Space Technology Program under a Game Changing Technology competition for development of the promising lightweight and compact solar array structure. ATK received a $6.4 million contract for the MegaFlex™ development.

ATK's MegaFlexTM solar array will provide over 10 times
more power than the largest current satellite array technology.
(AMA, Inc. concept for Solar Electrical Propulsion spacecraft
with MegaFlexTM).
MegaFlex™, under development by ATK's Space Components Division in Goleta, Calif., is designed specifically to meet the anticipated power demands of 350kW and higher, with very low mass and small stowed volume for future space exploration missions using solar electric propulsion. NASA's 18-month Phase 1 technology development program will increase the solar array size to twice that of the MPCV UltraFlex™ (approximately 40 feet in diameter) and will raise the technical readiness level of the MegaFlex™ design through hardware development and verification testing. ATK plans to further develop a flight-ready version of MegaFlex™ in preparation for a future space flight demonstration during the follow-on Phase 2 Technology Development contract.

ATK's MegaFlex™ solar array is based on its spaceflight-proven UltraFlex™ solar array family of platforms that powered NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander in 2008, is in series production of 10 wings for Orbital's Commercial Resupply Services spacecraft, and is baselined on NASA's recently announced Insight Discovery Mission to Mars awarded to Lockheed Martin. The exceptional performance of smaller (6-foot diameter) solar arrays used to power the Phoenix Lander contributed to the Phoenix mission being extended three times.

ATK's high-strength, lightweight and compact 15kW UltraFlex™ solar arrays—measuring nearly 20 feet in diameter—were also selected for deployment on NASA's manned Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). The UltraFlex™ technology's flight-proven reliability, fully-qualified low-mass performance and straightforward scalability to ~350kW class power levels established a credible basis from which to further develop MegaFlex™ to high technical readiness.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

San Francisco Invites Chinese Solar Companies as U.S. Companies Fail

San Francisco is rapidly becoming, as the Office of the Mayor's website has touted, the "premier gateway" for mainland Chinese investment into the United States. If the city's successful wooing of Chinese solar manufacturers is any indication, this is not a welcome trend.
Solar panels made by companies such as Suntech are priced
far below fair value because of huge subsidies provided by
the Chinese government in violation of international trade law.

To date, under the leadership of both its previous and current mayor, no fewer than five Chinese solar companies have set up shop on San Francisco soil. This has occurred even as Bay Area solar manufacturers have either filed for bankruptcy (NovaSolar); shrunk in value to a mere shadow of their former selves (NanoSolar); or, in the unkindest cut of all, been sold off to China (MiaSole).

China is trouncing America in industries like solar, wind and steel for one simple reason - it cheats on a scale unprecedented in modern economic history. In solar's case, the Chinese government has showered its national champions with lavish subsidies, which are illegal under international trade law. These subsidies have, in turn, led to a huge over-capacity now spurring predatory Chinese manufacturers to sell solar panels into U.S. markets at margins ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent below fair value - crushing many U.S. competitors in the process.

This is not mere opinion. These statements are based on an extensive investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC will vote on Nov. 7 on adopting countervailing duties and imposing antidumping tariffs on Chinese solar imports. And yes, at least five of the Chinese companies lured to the Bay Area with promises of breaks on city fees and assistance in taking advantage of federal, state and local tax credits have been identified as major cheaters; these include China Sunergy, Suntech, Trina, Upsolar and Yingli.

Predictably, the ITC's proposed action is opposed by special interest groups like the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy. In part a front group for Chinese manufacturers, CASE is also the main lobbying arm for those self-interested U.S. installers now helping China dump its illegally subsidized panels and modules into the retail market - economic patriotism be damned.

CASE repeatedly waves the bloody shirt of a possible trade war with China - conveniently ignoring the fact we are already in one. CASE also whines that the price of solar will go up - as if that's an excuse for China decimating the U.S. solar manufacturing industry. CASE even disingenuously blames falling natural gas prices and other factors for putting U.S. companies out of business rather than the inexorable crush of China's cheating.

Of course, San Francisco is not the only city welcoming the very Chinese companies that are so busily putting so many Americans out of work. I've seen such shortsighted behavior even in those manufacturing states most negatively affected by China's flood of illegally subsidized exports.

A poster child for this mind-numbing myopia is Toledo, Ohio, where the mayor has been busily selling off some of the city's prime waterfront property to Chinese investors. And so the selling off - and selling out - of America goes.

What ever happened to our sense of national unity? As consumers, we merrily buy our Made in China products at prices drenched in the sweat, blood and fears of Chinese workers. As shareholders, we pile our savings into companies like Boeing, Caterpillar and GM that greedily offshore our future to Shanghai. Even as our politicians eagerly solicit Chinese investment to auction off more and more pieces of America, many unemployed workers cast their ballots based more on social issues rather than their own economic best interests. It's a collective national suicide eagerly assisted by a mercantilist Chinese government, and it's time to stop this insanity.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cheaper Solar Panels Opportunity for Singapore, World Bank Says

Falling prices for solar panels present an opportunity for Singapore to invest more in renewable energy, according to a World Bank official.

The city-state may focus more on solar spending given the drop in panel costs, Dejan R. Ostojic, the energy sector leader for East Asia and Pacific Region, said in an interview in the city-state today.

“Prices for solar panels have declined significantly in the past year or two,” said Ostojic. “Investors would probably like to take advantage of the favorable pricing.”

Electricity generation systems of all types will expand as energy demand increases amid economic growth in Singapore, he said. “Renewables will certainly play a role,” he added.

Solar panel prices have declined 15 percent this year, falling to 83.87 cents a watt, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

Ostojic is also optimistic about China’s expansion into wind power generation.

China, the world’s largest wind-power market, aims to increase its installed capacity from the source to 100 gigawatts by 2015, the State Council said in July.

“China has done remarkably well in increasing wind capacity,” he said. “It has its own target and there is no reason to doubt it.”

The country faces challenges in adding to its wind-power capacity because the expansion of the transmission grid has not kept pace with the additional generation, he said.