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All the latest news from the US solar market ahead of the 6th annual Solar Power Generation Congress 2014 www.solarpowergenerationusa.com
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New artificial leather uses biobased technology

Flokser Group division Poliser is using DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products’ Susterra 1,3-propanediol (PDO) as a biobased building block for its new artificial leather fabric.

The new artificial leather is being developed using a polyester polyol based on PDO succinate, with the crossliner being Susterra, DuPont Tate & Lyle said.

The company added that production of biobased propanediol was claimed to use up to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions and 40% less non-renewable energy in its production, versus petroleum-based glycols.

“The new artificial leather from Flokser is a unique product, combining biobased technology with the highest standards of performance and quality,” said Steve Hurff, marketing and sales vice-president at DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products.

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Google Invests $103 Million In California Solar Plant

Google Invests $103 Million In California Solar Plant | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Google is investing big time in renewable energy projects. The search engine’s latest investment is $103 million in a 265.7 megawatt (MW) solar project in Southern California, called Imperial Valley Solar 1 (IVS-1). The project is Google’s 13th investment in renewable energy projects. The company has invested over $1 billion in renewable energy projects that will generate at least two gigawatts of power, enough to power 500,000 homes.

 

Silver Ridge Power LLC is developing the new solar facility. Silver Ridge is a joint venture between AES Corp., a utility owner, and Riverstone Holdings LLC, a private equity firm investing mostly in energy. Silver Ridge has about 522 MW of power in operation in its global portfolio in seven countries. After it is completed next year, the power from the IVS-1 project will be sold to San Diego Gas & Electric Co. under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

 

IVS-I will generate enough electricity to power 80,000 homes, and will create over 900 construction jobs in a state that has an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. IVS-1 is the first of four phases of a 600 MW PV facility. The second stage will be 150 MW and is expected to begin operation at the end of 2005. The third stage is 150 MW and is expected to begin operation by 2016. The fourth stage is 100 MW and expected to begin operation by 2016.

- See more at: http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/google-invests-103-million-in-california-solar-plant#sthash.FCH95vDb.dpuf

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Panasonic Eco Solutions and Coronal Management Acquire California Solar Portfolio

Panasonic Eco Solutions and Coronal Management Acquire California Solar Portfolio | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Panasonic Eco Solutions North America (Panasonic Eco Solutions) and Coronal Management, LLC (Coronal) are expanding their combined ability to provide integrated solar energy solutions with the acquisition of 16.2 MW of California CREST (California Renewable Energy Small Tariff) projects from Macquarie Capital. The Panasonic Eco Solutions and Coronal platform provides financing for the development and construction of utility scale and distributed generation solar systems to help companies and organizations reduce the complexity of implementing solar installations.

The portfolio consists of nine solar projects located in Tulare and Kings Counties in central California, and will provide enough energy to Southern California Edison's grid to power approximately 14,500 homes annually(1) . Panasonic provided 100 percent of the initial financing needed for this transaction, allowing it to close quickly. The projects will be built by ImMODO Energy Services Corporation and Panasonic Eco Solutions by the middle of 2014. These projects bring the total of assets jointly developed by the Coronal-Panasonic relationship to over 30 MW.

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Vivint Solar Raises Additional $540 Million in Residential Solar Financing

Vivint Solar Raises Additional $540 Million in Residential Solar Financing | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Vivint Solar, the second largest U.S. residential solar provider, today announced it has raised two more rounds of residential solar financing. The funds total $540 million and are provided by two major financial institutions.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130806/LA59260LOGO)

The $540 million announced today is in addition to the $200 million of tax equity financing that Vivint Solar announced in August of this year.

"In less than three months, Vivint Solar has raised nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to finance our solar projects," said Greg Butterfield. "These new financings will enable Vivint Solar to continue its unparalleled growth, while delivering simple, affordable solar solutions to our customers."

Vivint Solar is the second largest U.S. residential solar installer, according to the U.S. PV Leaderboard published by GTM Research. Vivint Solar designs, installs, monitors, and services every solar photovoltaic system with no upfront out-of-pocket costs to the homeowner. Through a power purchase agreement (PPA), a homeowner buys the power generated by the solar photovoltaic system at a rate currently lower than they could get from a local utility provider.

Vivint Solar currently operates in California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C. For more information, visit www.vivintsolar.com.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/18/5831747/vivint-solar-raises-additional.html#storylink=cpy
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Find out all the details from Thomas Plagemann, a Financial Executive at Viviant at the 6th annual Solar Power Generation Congress: www.solarpowergenerationusa.com

 

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California enacts first energy storage mandate in U.S.

California enacts first energy storage mandate in U.S. | US Solar News | Scoop.it
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has voted unanimously to enact an energy storage mandate.The mandate requires the state's investor-owned utilities to buy 200 megawatts of energy storage by 2014 and 1.325 gigawatts by 2020. This the first energy storage mandate in the U.S.
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Vivint Solar raises US$200 million in tax equity funds

Vivint Solar raises US$200 million in tax equity funds | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Vivint Solar announced that it had landed two new tax equity funds worth US$200 million.The net proceeds, the company said, would be used to fund solar power platforms on residential rooftops. Blackstone, one of the world's largest private equity firms, bought the company for US$2 billion last year.

Vivint Solar, which operates from its headquarters in Provo, Utah, presently caters to 800,000 customers, making it one of the biggest automation and home security companies in the United States. Vivint is well known for its low cost of customer acquisition and extensive sales network.

 

The funding raising confirms heightened interest in residential solar systems. Sunrun, another solar power service provider, announced three funds with a combined total of US$630 million in June. It's investors included JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Bank. This was the first investment for JPM Capital Corporation in the residential solar industry. JPM Capital Corporation is a subsidiary of JPMorgan.

"It is the largest and most consistent provider of capital to renewables, but until now most of their investments have been in wind. This is a watershed moment," Ed Fenster, Chief Executive Officer of Sunrun, said.

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AB 327 Signed Into Law in California

AB 327 Signed Into Law in California | US Solar News | Scoop.it

AB 327 is now officially California state law -- and Gov. Jerry Brown, who made it so with his signature this week, wants to make sure that the way it extends net metering for years to come doesn’t end up hurting state residents who today make money from their net-metered solar systems.

That’s the gist of Brown’s Monday signing statement on the law, which will enable some of the biggest changes to California electricity rate structures and renewable energy policies in the past decade.

Brown’s office worked with solar industry advocates to add key solar policy provisions into what was originally a bill aimed squarely at rate reform before it was passed by state lawmakers last month. But just how those key provisions are implemented will be left to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to decide.

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Distributed PV Integration in a Smart Grid Environment

Distributed PV Integration in a Smart Grid Environment | US Solar News | Scoop.it

To date, distributed solar power – specifically residential and commercial -- has benefited from a unique position in the minds of both consumers and policy makers. It has received enough popular support to enable political backing yet its penetration levels haven’t been significant enough to represent a threat to utility interests, including grid stability.

That paradigm is changing. Utilities have taken notice and have begun opposing unrestrained distributed penetration citing challenges associated with intermittent power. Fortunately, the relationship between the solar industry and utilities need not be adversarial as win-win strategies exist for approaching these seemingly divergent interests.  

These challenges are technical and their solutions lie in technology as well. As a maturing market, the U.S. also has an example to follow. This topic has already been addressed by, and continues to be a focus of, industry participants in Germany, where PV recently accounted for nearly 50 percent of the nations’ midday electricity needs without jeopardizing grid reliability.

This webinar will discuss the challenges faced by utility companies as it specifically relates to distributed PV, as well at the technology solutions in place today, and in development, to address future concerns.

 

The expert speaking faculty includes:
SMA America – Bates Marshall, VP Medium Power Solutions
SMA America – Brett Henning, Applications Engineer
San Diego Gas & Electric – Tom Bialek, Chief Engineer, Smart Grid

Dr. Charlotte Linfoot's insight:

Register your place here: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/730744110

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Could Solar Heating and Cooling Ever Catch Up With PV and Natural Gas?

Could Solar Heating and Cooling Ever Catch Up With PV and Natural Gas? | US Solar News | Scoop.it

A new industry roadmap says targets and supports can make solar heating and cooling even bigger.

 

“Why even consider using electrons to heat water when there is so much more demand for them in traditional electricity generation and in electric transport?” asked Heliodyne CEO Ole Pilgaard, Chair of the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance’s Roadmap Working Group.

“Solar thermal has lived in the shadow of more popular technologies like wind and PV,” Pilgaard said in describing Solar Heating & Cooling: Energy for a Secure Future, a roadmap for the sector prepared by BEAM Engineering for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). It describes how solar could capture much of the U.S. opportunity in domestic water heating, space heating, swimming pool heating, air conditioning, process heating, steam generation, and air heating.

Targets and policies that support solar heating and cooling (SHC) could drive the installation of 300 gigawatts-thermal of capacity by 2050. That, BEAM Engineering concluded, would require 100 million SHC panels, or 10 square feet of solar collector area per person. It would meet nearly 8 percent of the United States' 2050 heating and cooling needs, generate over 50,000 jobs, save $61 billion in annual energy costs, avoid at least $19.1 billion in expected electric and natural gas transmission and distribution upgrades, and avoid 226 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

The business-as-usual scenario predicts 75 gigawatts-thermal in 2050.

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9 GW of solar PV installed in Q3 2013 

9 GW of solar PV installed in Q3 2013  | US Solar News | Scoop.it

NPD Solarbuzz Inc. (Santa Clara, California, U.S.) has released a report which estimates that 9 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) was installed globally in the third quarter of 2013, a nearly 20% increase over a year ago.

The latest “NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly” states that the solar trade war is having a minimal impact on end-market growth, and predicts that another 10-14 GW will be installed in the fourth quarter of 2013. The company also notes that pricing is stabilizing, with PV module average selling prices falling less than 1% over the second quarter.

“The record levels of mid-year demand in 2013 have been critical to the overall recovery of the solar PV sector,” added NPD Solarbuzz Senior Analyst Michael Barker. “Restored confidence in end-market growth is allowing leading solar PV manufacturers to pursue aggressive shipment strategies within both established and emerging territories, despite previous concerns that trade wars could dampen growth.”

USD 65-75 billion in 2013 industry revenues predicted

NPD Solarbuzz forecasts that end-market PV system revenues will reach USD 65-75 billion in 2013, likely higher than the USD 68 billion in 2012 but not as high as the USD 92 billion in 2011, when module and system prices were 20-50% higher.

The company also predicts that end-market demand will continue during the first quarter of 2014, which is historically the weakest quarter for the industry. However, many of the leading national markets in 2013 have incentive reductions scheduled on fiscal years that end in March.

NPD Solarbuzz also predicts that PV demand will reach 45-55 GW in 2014. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to represent half of that demand, mostly from China and Japan.

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Mexico Sunshine Lures Cash for Solar After Panels Plunge

Mexico Sunshine Lures Cash for Solar After Panels Plunge | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Mexico, poised to allow foreign oil extraction for the first time in 75 years, is finding its abundant natural resources also appeal to investors in a much cleaner energy: sunshine.

First Solar Inc. (FSLR) of the U.S. has bought its first projects in Mexico, while more than a dozen other developers including Germany’s Saferay GmbH and Spain’s Grupotec Tecnologia Solar SL own licenses there. Local investor Gauss Energia opened Latin America’s largest photovoltaic plant in the country last month.

The project “will open the way for the development of the photovoltaic sector,” Gauss Chief Executive Officer Hector Olea said in an e-mail. “There have been multiple announcements but very little real development work so far even though the regulatory system is sound and conducive to bankable projects.”

Mexico, a top 10 oil producer, plans to generate 35 percent of its power from clean sources by 2026, up from less than 15 percent now, to curb emissions and diversify its energy mix. A global surplus of solar panels has made them cheaper, while the costly oil-fired plants common in areas such as Durango, Sonora and southern Baja California make solar a competitive option.

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Black & Veatch Forms Alliance With Brightergy to Develop Solar Rooftop Systems

Black & Veatch Forms Alliance With Brightergy to Develop Solar Rooftop Systems | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Black & Veatch and Brightergy have formed a strategic alliance to develop $100 million in solar energy projects over the next three years. Part of the alliance includes Black & Veatch installing solar photovoltaic (PV) commercial rooftop systems in the Kansas City Metro area. The venture also will extend its reach into other parts of the United States to address the growing demand for renewable energy.

Brightergy serves as the project developer and provides sales, marketing and financing resources. Black & Veatch applies engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) and consulting experience, allowing for a complete solution for clients. The venture will target commercial-scale PV solar rooftop projects generally ranging from 25 kilowatts to 2 megawatts (MW).

"A growing number of organizations seek new ways to manage energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint," said Adam Blake, Brightergy CEO. "Through our alliance we help organizations get the best of both worlds."

The U.S. solar market is in a period of rapid growth. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, more than 4,400 MW of PV power will come online during 2013. This is in addition to 8,500 MW of installed solar electric capacity. The new resources equal enough power to serve more than 1.3 million average American homes.

"Our alliance with Brightergy allows Black & Veatch to further expand its portfolio of distributed generation services," said Dean Oskvig, President and CEO of Black & Veatch's energy business. "We will apply the experience gained in delivering solar PV projects both in North America and around the world."

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Advanced crystalline silicon solar has best shot at hitting $1/Watt goal

Advanced crystalline silicon solar has best shot at hitting $1/Watt goal | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Advanced crystalline silicon technologies are the most likely to achieve the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative goal of reducing the cost of solar to $1 per installed watt, according to a recent report from Lux Research.

While silicon solar cells are unlikely to meet that milestone by the 2020 goal, emerging advanced silicon technologies will likely achieve the solar panel price goal of 50 cents per watt by 2030, according to a recent release from the research firm.

“Crystalline Silicon will be able to meet the goal,” said Fatima Toor, the report author, “but with advanced cell designs, not with the designs we have now.”

Thia means investment in research and development will be key, something the industry has struggled with since global oversupply led to the demise of many solar companies in the United States and abroad.

Companies have been operating on tight margins with little leftover to invest in developing new technology. Government investment has waned and venture capital has been tight.

In fact, U.S. government investment in solar industry research has dropped dramatically since 2008.  Government and private funding has slowed to a trickle of it what it used to be. Thankfully, there are still some bright spots. Texas recently announced a $600 million solar research facility. 

“A lot of the venture capital investors were really burned by investing large sums of money in companies that didn’t make it,” Toor stated. “The days of the $200 million investments are gone.”

She said venture capitalists are sinking smaller amounts – $6 to $14 million – into solar research and development projects

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Trends in Solar M&A Deal Structures

Free Solar M&A Webinar: Register today!

 

Hear from:

Tarik Bolat, Managing Director Acquisitions & Corporate Development, Renewable Energy Trust

Carl Weatherly-White, Chief Financial Officer, K Road

Alex Ellis, Managing Director of Business Development, SunEdison

Elliot Hinds, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Dr. Charlotte Linfoot's insight:

"Trends in Solar M&A Deal Structures" is the 2nd in the Solar Power Generation Webinar Series 2014 and continues the objective of providing the solar industry a forum to discuss the hottest issues.

 

This weeks webinar will focus on the 2013 deal market and the trends that will impact 2014 deal activity.  Providing timely information for deal professionals, solar developers, manufacturers and financiers you will learn about how those trends impact your business and the industry as a whole.

 

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E.ON Climate & Renewables Solar celebrates first two U.S. solar PV plants totalling 15 MW 

E.ON Climate & Renewables Solar celebrates first two U.S. solar PV plants totalling 15 MW  | US Solar News | Scoop.it

E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R) Solar (Düsseldorf, Germany) on October 14th, 2013, held a ceremony to dedicate two solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the Tucson area (Arizona, U.S.), with a combined total generation capacity of 15 megawatts (MW).

Both projects have long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

The first of the two PV plants, a 5 MW project called Tech Park Solar (TPS), started generating solar power in December 2012 and was developed in collaboration with the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park (UA Tech Park) and TEP. The second, a 10MW solar PV project called Valencia Solar, came online in June 2013.

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New Energy Storage Mandate for California Utilities

New Energy Storage Mandate for California Utilities | US Solar News | Scoop.it

California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved the first energy storage mandate in the United States.  The mandate will compel utilities to use energy storage technologies.  It is designed to provide the encouragement needed for the continued development of energy storage technologies, considered by many to be the holy grail of the renewable energy industry.  California’s RPS program that required publicly owned utilities to get 33% of their electricity from renewable sources accelerated the state’s cleantech economy, and proponents of the energy storage mandate hope that it will do the same.  The mandate comes in response to a 2010 California law, AB 2514, which required the CPUC to set specific targets for the usage of energy storage for 2015 and 2020.  

This mandate should help incent additional funding for companies developing energy storage technologies.  If it follows the RPS pattern, utilities will begin issuing requests for bids on energy storage contracts.  Companies with contracts in hand will be stronger candidates for additional funding.  Given the scale of the storage needed, significant funds will be needed to build out storage capacity, so we can expect to see meaningful dollars flow to expansion and implementation of storage technologies.

Dr. Charlotte Linfoot's insight:

Find out the latest storage technologies and the strategies being explored to incorporate storage into all PV systems at the 6th annual Solar Power Generation Congress: www.solarpowergenerationusa.com

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ET Solar to supply 13MW of modules in North Carolina

ET Solar to supply 13MW of modules in North Carolina | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Turnkey Chinese solar company, ET Solar, is supplying 13MW of its 300W solar modules to Strata Solar, for two 6.5MW solar farms in North Carolina.

The projects, both being designed and installed by Strata Solar, are expected to produce 20GWh annually, powering 1,500 households in North Carolina.

Markus Wilhelm, chief executive officer of Strata Solar, said ET Solar had been chosen for the value and efficiency of its modules.

Dennis She, president and CEO of ET Solar, said: “We see the east coast as a key market in the United States, and therefore established our New Jersey Office two years ago to better serve our clients. We are very excited to work with Strata Solar, who chose ET Solar as the key equipment supplier.

Strata Solar is nearing the completion on three projects in North Carolina with a total capacity of 18MW.

Accounting for 8% of all new solar installations this quarter, North Carolina’s PV market is predicted to grow by 80%, by the end of the year with numerous projects under joint development by Strata Solar and Canadian Solar, to install 85MW in North Carolina.

Utilities in North Carolina are required by a Renewables Portfolio Standard to provide 12.5% of retail electricity from clean sources by 2021. Attempts to abandon the target were defeated in April.

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First Solar to Build 250MW Power Plant in California for NextEra Energy Resources

First Solar to Build 250MW Power Plant in California for NextEra Energy Resources | US Solar News | Scoop.it

First Solar, Inc.announced today it has entered into an agreement to construct a 250 megawatt (MW)AC solar power plant in Riverside County, California, for a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.

The McCoy Solar Energy Project will be located on approximately 2,300 acres of mostly public land provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approximately 13 miles northwest of Blythe, California. Under the agreement, First Solar will provide Engineering, Procurement and Construction services, using First Solar's cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic thin-film modules.

The project is located near the 550MWAC Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, jointly owned by a subsidiary of NextEra, GE Energy Financial Services, and Sumitomo Corporation of America, currently under construction by First Solar. An affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources also previously purchased two projects built by First Solar in Canada.

"First Solar is pleased to have this opportunity to work again with NextEra," said Roger Bredder, First Solar's Director of Business Development for the U.S. "And we are proud to continue providing jobs in Riverside County."

Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, with completion in late 2016. The project will provide up to 400 construction jobs at peak operation.

The McCoy Solar Energy Project construction award reaffirms First Solar's position as one of the world's leading developers and builders of PV solar power systems. The company was recently ranked as the second largest contractor in the global power sector by Engineering News-Review.

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Walmart remains top corporate solar user, with solar on 5 percent of its stores

Walmart remains top corporate solar user, with solar on 5 percent of its stores | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Large corporations across the country are increasingly turning to solar to power their retail stores, operations and data centers. On Tuesday, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Vote Solar Initiative released the annual “Solar Means Business” report.

Retail giant Walmart remains the nation’s top commercial solar leader, with 89 megawatts at 215 locations, or roughly 5 percent of its 4,500 stores. The Top 25 companies, ranked by installed capacity, are: Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s, Apple, IKEA, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, McGraw Hill, Staples, Campbell’s Soup, U.S. Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kaiser Permanente, Volkswagen, Walgreens, Target, Safeway, FedEx, Intel, L’OREAL, General Motors, Toys “R” Us, White Rose Foods, Toyota, and Dow Jones & Company. Combined, the companies have deployed 400 megawatts of solar capacity — a 33 percent increase from one year ago.

“These companies – titans of American business – may have vastly different products, business models, and geographic locations, but they all have something in common: they know a good deal when they see one, and they are going solar in a big way,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar.

Dr. Charlotte Linfoot's insight:

Want to lower your energy bills?

 

Keen to become a greener company?

 

I am pleased to annouce that the 6th annual Solar Power Generation Congress - www.solarpowergenerationusa.com - will host the Power Off-taker Workshop! Find out if solar is for your company at this information driven workshop!

 

Hosted by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, now with over 1400 partner organizations, discover the steps to making your business leaner and greener than ever!

 

Complimentary passes available for all end-user companies. For more details contact the team: +1 971 238 0700

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Distributed PV Integration in a Smart Grid Environment

Distributed PV Integration in a Smart Grid Environment | US Solar News | Scoop.it

To date, distributed solar power – specifically residential and commercial -- has benefited from a unique position in the minds of both consumers and policy makers. It has received enough popular support to enable political backing yet its penetration levels haven’t been significant enough to represent a threat to utility interests, including grid stability.

That paradigm is changing. Utilities have taken notice and have begun opposing unrestrained distributed penetration citing challenges associated with intermittent power. Fortunately, the relationship between the solar industry and utilities need not be adversarial as win-win strategies exist for approaching these seemingly divergent interests.  

These challenges are technical and their solutions lie in technology as well. As a maturing market, the U.S. also has an example to follow. This topic has already been addressed by, and continues to be a focus of, industry participants in Germany, where PV recently accounted for nearly 50 percent of the nations’ midday electricity needs without jeopardizing grid reliability.

This webinar will discuss the challenges faced by utility companies as it specifically relates to distributed PV, as well at the technology solutions in place today, and in development, to address future concerns.

 

The expert speaking faculty includes:
SMA America – Bates Marshall, VP Medium Power Solutions
SMA America – Brett Henning, Applications Engineer
San Diego Gas & Electric – Tom Bialek, Chief Engineer, Smart Grid

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CdTe innovator First Solar and Belectric form joint venture

CdTe innovator First Solar and Belectric form joint venture | US Solar News | Scoop.it

The solar industry innovators have launched a JV to fulfil projects in Europe, North Africa and US First Solar and Belectric Holding, GmbH have announced the launch of a Joint Venture (JV) that will realise solar energy projects on three continents.

The JV - PV Projects GmbH & Co. KG - is based in Germany and will be tasked with developing selected photovoltaic (PV) power projects independently acquired or developed by either of the two companies in Europe, North Africa, as well as projects of fewer than 20 megawatts (MW), in the United States.

Under the terms of the JV - which is subject to approval from the relevant governmental merger control authorities - First Solar will supply its advanced cadmium telluride thin-film modules, selected components such as the First Solar Tracker and value-added services; while Belectric will provide its advanced Balance of Systems (BoS) and a range of service capabilities.

Both companies' engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contributions will vary by project and geography. The JV's emphasis on the sub-20MW segment in the United States will include Belectric's existing 280MWp pipeline in the country, along with other opportunities. The non-exclusive agreement will also allow both companies to independently and competitively pursue development prospects and corresponding EPC work.

The announcement is the latest milestone in a longstanding partnership that spans over a decade: the two companies recently marked the inauguration of the 128MWp Templin solar power plant in Germany, the largest deployment of First Solar modules in Europe. An estimated 80 percent of the 1,400 MWp of solar electricity generation capacity installed by Belectric, is powered by First Solar modules.

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Artificial photosynthesis jostles for U.S. solar funds

Artificial photosynthesis jostles for U.S. solar funds | US Solar News | Scoop.it

Backing artificial photosynthesis is a risky bet for limited U.S. research funding and with many competing plays in solar energy innovation.

One of the most scientifically ambitious projects to develop clean energy - producing liquid fuel from sunlight, artificial photosynthesis appears futuristic compared with the commercially successful solar PV power.

Of course, governments cannot pick winners every time, and the U.S. spreads the risk by backing other alternative energy sources, but the attraction of copying energy production from plants is clear.

The penalty for picking badly is also clear. The United States backed the semiconductor technology of failed solar photovoltaic (PV) company Solyndra with $528 million in federal loans.

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, crushed by the dominant incumbent silicon PV technology.

Research is being driven by the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), set up in 2010 as a Department of Energy energy innovation hub with a five-year, $122 million budget to produce a prototype, with no timetable for commercialisation.

Artificial photosynthesis would use the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and combine it with water to produce fuels including sugars or hydrogen for a successor to crude oil.

It would not therefore appear to compete directly with solar PV electricity, which receives a separate tranche of U.S. Department of Energy funds.

But solar PV can also be used to produce hydrogen for transportation - where it is far ahead of artificial photosynthesis - and the electricity it produces could be the future fuel of motor vehicles.

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Has the micro-inverter revolution begun?

Has the micro-inverter revolution begun? | US Solar News | Scoop.it

A glance through recent solar trade publications reveals a proliferation of advertisements from micro inverter suppliers. Micro inverters, which are embedded into PV modules or, directly adjacent on the roof top are clearly gaining popularity, but has an AC photovoltaics revolution begun, or is this just hype?

Micro inverters are not a new phenomenon to Australia. Back in the late 1990s, Pacific Solar were embedding micro-inverters into “Plug’n’Power” systems using BP Solar panels and although it was early days for roof mounted electronics. Although many are still operational today, it’s true that the heat stress caused an unsatisfactory failure rate and since Pacific Solar’s (unrelated) closure not long afterwards, micro inverters have been virtually unheard of.

Fast forward 10 years.

Micro inverters started emerging again, particularly in US markets and soon afterwards, several innovators in Australia started supplying them locally into a tiny market niche. With the benefits of hindsight and rapid advances in electronics, micro inverter manufacturers around the world ramped up production, convinced they had overcome the reliability and cost issues, and extolling the virtues of the product. Even the incumbent string inverter kings (SMA and PowerOne) launched micro inverter products.

Just three years later, it is estimated that around 10 per cent of all inverters sold in Australia this year will be micro inverters, hence the burst of advertising activity. Compared to an estimated market share of 40 per cent in California, it seems Australia could be on the cusp of a micro inverter boom.

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California Moves to Protect Solar Systems During Fires

Since a solar system was implicated in a major fire in New Jersey last month, California is moving on common sense safety measures that ensure the continuing goodwill of the industry.

The last thing the solar industry needs is negative public relations just as Americans are readily adopting it. Comments like this could easily cause people to back off from adding solar: "We may very well not be able to save buildings that have alternative energy," New Jersey's acting fire marshall went as far to say.

Firefighters were ordered to stay away from the roof because of electrocution concerns from the solar system, which made it much more difficult to extinguish the fire.

But it doesn't have to be that way. California will soon require "arc fault detectors" in solar installations, which are already included in the 2011 National Electrical Code. Many states haven't enforced the code because of the lack of these sensors on the market, John Kluza of Sensata Technologies told Solar Novus.

These detectors shut down a solar system if they sense increased electrical noise. It adds to the cost of a solar system, of course, about $25 to $100 for each string inverter, Kluza  told Greentech Solar.

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Credit unions to support up to USD 100 million in SunPower residential solar PV system loans 

Credit unions to support up to USD 100 million in SunPower residential solar PV system loans  | US Solar News | Scoop.it

SunPower Corp. (San Jose, California, U.S.) and the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) have formed a partnership which may include up to USD 100 million in loans for SunPower's residential solar photovoltaic (PV) customers in the United States.

Under the agreement, DCU will serve as the lead originator for a consortium of 36 credit unions to support SunPower's residential loan program. Homeowners who join DCU may receive a loan of up to USD 50,000, which may then be participated out to a credit union in the program.

“DCU's participation in SunPower's residential solar loan program is based on the cooperative principles that are at the foundation of credit unions, and our approach to the development of innovative programs that serve the needs of businesses, consumers and our members,” said DCU Senior VP of Retail Lending Craig Roy.

The SunPower Loan is currently available in all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C., for 20-year terms with a no-money down option. SunPower systems additionally come with a 25-year combined power and product warranty.

SunPower also offers a lease program in some U.S. states

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