Solar

Trump says solar tariff decision coming soon, stakes huge for industry

18 Jan 2018   Solar, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would announce a decision soon on whether to slap tariffs on imported solar panels and quipped that when countries dump subsidized panels in the United States, “Everybody goes out of business.” The solar industry is anxiously awaiting the decision, which will have wide-reaching implications for the sector. Domestic panel producers opposed to cheap imports would benefit from a tariff. But installers that have relied on the lower-cost hardware for their recent breakneck growth would suffer. In an interview with Reuters, Trump declined to say how he would land on the case – which was triggered last year by a domestic manufacturer’s trade grievance – but complained about the effect of imports on U.S. panel makers. “You know, they dump ‘em – government-subsidized, lots of things happening – they dump the panels, then everybody goes out of business,” […]

Shell ventures back into solar

16 Jan 2018   Solar

Royal Dutch Shell agreed on Monday to acquire a stake in a U.S. solar company, 12 years after exiting the sector, in the latest in a series of deals to grow beyond its core oil and gas business. The Anglo-Dutch company also gave the green light for its first major new project in the North Sea in six years, signaling a cautious return to spending following three years of belt tightening in the face of lower oil prices. Shell agreed to buy a 43.86 percent stake in Silicon Ranch Corporation from funds linked to Partners Group for up to $217 million. It follows on the heels of British rival BP, which last month also re-entered the solar sector with the $200 million investment in Lightsource. Nashville, Tennessee-based Silicon Ranch develops, owns and operates solar plants across the United States with a capacity of 880 megawatts. Shell […]

The Three Stumbling Blocks to a Solar-Powered Nation

15 Jan 2018   Solar

As a fraction of our energy mix, renewables in general and solar power, in particular, are growing faster than ever. What seemed like an impossibility just a decade ago—the displacement of fossil fuels from the U.S. power system, if not the world’s—is increasingly a reality. Here are three possible visions of our renewable-energy-powered future: 1. There’s mass defection from power grids, as citizens and corporations alike end a dependence on regulated monopolies that date all the way back to the days of Thomas Edison. 2. The same utility companies that now handle energy continue to oversee and balance a grid increasingly powered by renewable sources, and we hardly know the difference. 3. The landscape gets politically messy and technologically diverse, varying by locale, as utilities, customers and politicians battle over new ways […]

Wind And Solar Prices Continue To Fall

12 Jan 2018   Solar, Wind

The green energy company Xcel Energy reported low bids on orders for wind and solar installations with storage in 2016. Bids for wind energy alone stood at just $18.10/MWh, which is considered a record low for the industry. This median price garnered orders worth 17,380 MW, according to the company’s figures. Wind and solar energy orders, with storage, saw the lowest bid values, with the median bid at $30.60 for a total of 4,048 MWh worth of projects. “The response to this Solicitation is unprecedented with over 430 total individual proposals (238 total projects) received from bidders,” the company said in a statement. “Over 350 of these individual proposals are renewable energy proposals or renewable energy with storage proposals.” The string of low prices in the wind and solar sectors illustrates the potential that renewables have to replace coal, oil, and natural gas in the global energy supply mix. […]

Thieves steal chunk of China’s new solar highway

11 Jan 2018   China, Solar

Thieves in China have vandalised a newly opened solar highway, less than a week after the road was christened with much fanfare. The one-kilometre stretch of road in the eastern city of Jinan consists of solar panels under a layer of transparent concrete, allowing cars to drive over the photovoltaic cells. But just five days after it opened on 28 December, workers found a 1.8-metre section had been removed by thieves. Reports of the heist did not emerge until this week. Workers on the project suspected the burglars stole the panel in an attempt to duplicate the technology, since the materials themselves were inexpensive, according to local media. The concept of roads incorporating solar panels into the road has existed for years, but only recently have cities begun to build test projects. A solar bicycle path opened in Amsterdam in 2014 and a village in France opened a one-kilometre […]

Tesla Begins Mass Production Of Solar Shingles

10 Jan 2018   Solar

Bloomberg . Musk introduced the concept to industry leaders and brand fans last year. The shingles are topped with a strong glass that allows light to pass through to specially designed miniature solar panels, allowing homes access to affordable and visually attractive off-the-grid electricity. A group of the Tesla employees signed up for prototype testing, and the company will be ready to begin installing the shingles in the coming months. “It may actually do well in overseas markets where solar-photovoltaic is cheap and homeowners are used to paying a premium for building materials and cars — such as Australia,” Hugh Bromley, from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said. Comparatively, opting for the Tesla roof is more expensive than using traditional materials, but not by an overwhelming margin. Bromley estimates that a 2,000-square foot home would require $57,000 worth of Tesla tiles, whereas a terra cotta roof with solar panel add-ons […]

How the Sun Might Help Solve a Looming Water Crisis in the Arab Gulf

8 Jan 2018   Solar

For a city in the Arabian desert, Dubai is surprisingly well-watered. Grassy lawns and man-made duck ponds dot neighborhoods called The Springs and The Lakes. Across the United Arab Emirates, crowds flock to golf courses, water parks and synchronized fountains. Yet a water crisis is looming for the U.A.E. and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region, one of the most water-stressed in the world. So far, Gulf Arabs have relied on fossil fuel-burning desalination plants to produce most of the water their swelling populations and expanding industries consume. Now they’re adopting cleaner technologies and starting to harness their abundant sunshine to make drinkable water from the sea. 1. How does seawater become drinkable? By the process known as desalination. Gulf Arab countries rely on desalinated seawater for most of their non-agricultural needs — from bottled water to residential plumbing. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest producer of desalinated […]

Low Cost Renewables Are Creating A New Middle East

8 Jan 2018   Solar

Various countries in the world’s most oil-dependent region, the Middle East, have started to look above ground for generating energy to diversify away from their primary below-ground energy source. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman, to name a few, have set some ambitious goals to boost the construction of clean energy facilities and the use of renewables in their energy mix in the long term. As global solar and wind costs continue to drop and make those energy solutions increasingly competitive, the Middle East is expected to continue to move ahead with renewable projects this year, according to UAE’s outlet The National . Globally, the levelized cost of electricity from solar PV, which is now nearly a quarter of what it was in 2009, is expected to slide by another 66 percent by 2040, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said in a report in June 2017. […]

Clouds drift over US solar industry

6 Jan 2018   Solar, USA

With robot precision, a series of machines at SunPower’s headquarters in San Jose, California, slices wafers from an ingot of silicon, treats them and coats them to make cells, and then assembles those cells into panels. The site is a manufacturing research facility, opened in August, that is emblematic of the success of the US solar industry over the past decade. Between 2007 and 2016, installations of new panels rose nearly 90-fold, from 169 megawatts of capacity to 15 gigawatts. As it enters 2018, however, the industry faces a clouded future. President Donald Trump has talked about his enthusiasm for solar power, but the priorities of his administration lie elsewhere.

Tax reform, electricity regulation and potential new duties on imported panels are looming over the industry, threatening to disrupt the conditions that have made success possible. Already, installations have slowed for the first time in more than a decade, dropping about 22 per cent to 11.8GW last year, according to estimates for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

This year is expected to be weaker again. SunPower’s San Jose facility does not churn out panels in bulk for the mass market. Instead, it makes small batches to support the company’s research and development, delivering finished products so manufacturing processes and performance can be tested. When a new product does go into mass production, it will probably be at SunPower’s plants in the Philippines and Malaysia.

How China Is Killing India’s Solar Industry

28 Dec 2017   China, India, Solar

The Indian government’s target is to boost installed solar power capacity more than five-fold to 100 gigawatt (GW) by 2022. The problem, though, is India meets about 85 percent of its solar cell demand through imports from China, and photovoltaic modules account for over half the costs of a solar project. Now, the Indian government is left contemplating whether the domestic industry of solar cells and modules manufacturers should be “protected” from cheap imports. In that vein, the government is actively thinking of imposing an anti-dumping duty. In a related development over last week, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has come out with a “concept note” for offering “direct financial support” of approximately U.S. $1.7 billion (Rs 11,000 crore), as well as a tech upgrade fund for solar manufacture. At the same time, it has said cell and module manufacturing capacity in the country is “obsolete.” The […]

UK solar photovoltaic capacity at end of Nov up 7.7% on year to 12,642 MW

21 Dec 2017   Solar, United Kingdom

The UK’s installed solar photovoltaic capacity at the end of November was up 7.7%, or 902 MW, year on year to 12,642 MW across 935,120 installations, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said Thursday. * Installed solar PV capacity up 902 MW in 12 months to November * Around 12 MW of solar PV capacity deployed in October Some 12 MW of solar PV capacity in 3,400 installations were deployed in the month of November, the data showed. “The figure for deployment within the latest month should always be taken as highly provisional — it is likely to be revised upwards as further data are received on newly operational site,” BEIS said. BEIS said 46%, or 5,810 MW, of total installed solar PV capacity, was in large-scale installations greater than 5 MW, with 20%, or 2,520 MW, coming from small-scale installations of up to 4 kW. –Shubhlakshmi […]

Tesla Opens New Showroom In NYC

16 Dec 2017   Electric Cars, Solar

Tesla is opening on Friday a brand-new showroom in New York where it will sell cars, batteries, and solar panels all under one roof, and the new store opening incidentally coincided with a report that said that U.S. residential solar installations are expected to drop by 13 percent this year, after years of double-digit growth. According to the quarterly SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight, GTM Research forecasts a 13-percent contraction in residential solar in 2017 “as major markets fall and emerging state markets contribute relatively less growth.” After Tesla bought SolarCity last year, it has focused on integration and profit margin growth rather than on expansion and higher sales. Earlier this year, Tesla stopped selling solar installations door-to-door, and thus removed a major channel to reach out to its customers. “If SolarCity accounted for a 30 percent share of the national market and you cut those installation volumes […]

U.S. solar power group says it sees headwinds ahead

15 Dec 2017   Solar

A U.S. solar power trade group said the Trump administration was standing in the way of growth, but the sector showed resilience in the third quarter. A report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association found total installed capacity topped 2 gigawatts in the third quarter, but the pace of growth was slower than last year. Through the end of the third quarter, researchers found solar power installations are behind pace from the same period last year by 22 percent. “The solar industry is a resilient bunch, but this quarter shows us what happens when policy uncertainty becomes a disruptive factor: prices rise, supplies shift and the market reacts accordingly,” Abigail Ross Hopper, the president […]

U.S. solar installations to fall more than expected in 2017

14 Dec 2017   Solar

U.S. solar installations will fall more than expected this year, according to an industry report released on Thursday, due to weakened demand for residential systems and delays on large projects over concerns that President Donald Trump will impose tariffs on imported panels, increasing costs.  In a quarterly report, GTM Research said it expected U.S. installations to fall 22 percent to 11.8 gigawatts (GW) this year, down from a prior forecast that called for a decline of 17 percent. GTM conducted the analysis for the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group. In the third quarter, market installations fell 51 percent to 2.03 GW. Last year was a particularly strong year for installations as developers raced to capture a federal tax […]

The Solar Tech That Is Making Cleaner Oil

8 Dec 2017   Solar

It’s clear: fossil fuel majors from around the world are preparing to redefine their core competency from oil and gas extraction to “energy” provision over the next few decades. In the meantime, the biggest players are working on getting their oil operations on the green side. Aera Energy , a joint venture owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, is building California’s largest solar energy project in the San Joaquin Valley, where 1.7 billion barrels of heavy oil have been extracted since operations began in 1911. The $250 million project will install 630 acres of glass homes with exposed motorized solar panels installed on their roofs. As the sun travels from east to the west in sunny California, the panels’ angle will change to match the celestial body’s daily dance, which will allow a maze of pipes to heat water and create industrial steam. The 12 million barrels of steam generated […]

One of the country’s biggest oil fields just turned to an unexpected power source: Solar

1 Dec 2017   Oil Supply, Solar

The Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, Calif., is one of the largest in the country. It has been producing oil for more than a century and last year produced about 76,000 barrels a day, according to Aera Energy, its operator. But the oil field is about to become even more remarkable. Its future production operations will be partly powered by a massive solar energy project that will make the oil extraction process more environmentally friendly, according to Aera and GlassPoint Solar, the firm that will create the solar project. The Belridge field was discovered in 1911. Oil from the field flowed out of the ground because of natural pressure in the geologic reservoirs. Later, as the pressure declined, many companies said the field was exhausted. But in the 1960s, a process known as enhanced oil recovery gave the field […]

Republican tax bill hits wind power, solar largely unscathed

3 Nov 2017   Solar, USA, Wind

A Republican tax bill unveiled on Thursday included cuts to renewable energy tax credits considered critical to enabling wind projects to compete with fossil fuel plants, but tax breaks for solar power were left largely intact.  The credits, which receive broad bipartisan support, were extended by Congress less than two years ago. The wind industry decried the proposal, saying it put $50 billion in planned investment at risk, while the solar sector expressed relief the bill mostly preserved the timeline laid out in 2015 for its primary tax credit. In the same legislation, Republicans proposed eliminating the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. Greg Wetstone, president of the non-profit American Council […]

No tariffs, U.S. solar industry leaders say

2 Nov 2017   Solar

The Trump administration is called on to embrace free-markets over protectionism in order to support the blossoming solar power sector, industry leaders said. The U.S. International Trade Commission delivered three separate sets of recommendations to President Donald Trump designed to curb imports of solar components, ranging from quotas to a tariff on imports of 35 percent. In October, the Natural Resources Defense Council said some components of the renewable energy sector have accelerated faster than the government estimated. Renewable energy made up 14 percent of all U.S. electricity sales last year and in September, the Energy Department said a solar power initiative enacted by former President Barack Obama reached a goal for cost competitiveness three years early. The commission took up the case […]

Is The U.S. Solar Boom In Jeopardy?

2 Nov 2017   Solar

The U.S. solar industry has surged in recent years, accounting for the largest source of new electric capacity in the past year, with plenty of room to grow. However, the Trump administration is weighing a trade tariff that could seriously curtail the explosive growth figures for U.S. solar. On Tuesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recommended a 35 percent tariff on imported solar panels in response to a complaint from a U.S.-based solar manufacturer over cheap imported panels. The trade case has been cited by the solar industry as one of the most significant dangers to its otherwise bright future, labeling potential tariffs an “existential threat.” Many solar project developers use cheaper panels imported from places like China, and trade barriers could upend the economics of new solar projects. But all is not lost. The 35 percent tariff proposed by the ITC is actually less than what Suniva […]

Rooftop solar carving out a niche in China

17 Oct 2017   China, Solar

Rooftop solar power options offer a unique position in the world’s second-largest economy, ReneSola said. File photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock Oct. 16 (UPI) — Installing solar panels on rooftops across China will position the only U.S.-listed company in the market as the clear leader, ReneSola announced Monday. ReneSola, which became listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2009, said it generated 29 million kilowatt hours of solar-powered electricity in the third quarter. That’s loosely enough power to meet the energy needs of 2,500 homes for a year. The company said Monday it viewed rooftop solar power opportunities as ripe in the Chinese market. It has more than 130 megawatts of rooftop projects under development across the company and said it wanted to boost that to as high as 200 MW by the end of the year. “We are on track in our goal of developing 150-200 MW of […]

New Tech Is Transforming Japan’s Energy Sector

13 Oct 2017   Japan, Solar

With Fukishima’s nuclear reactors set to restart for the first time since 2011’s meltdown, you could be forgiven if you missed another bit of recent energy-related news from the east-central prefecture: an exciting blockchain-powered pilot has just been given the green light. If successful, it could change the way Fukishima – and perhaps indeed the whole country – consumes, generates and trades electricity. Bitcoin-related developments are now on the rise in the Land of the Rising Sun, for the first time in a long time. And even if 2017 has seen a few bumps in the road for pioneers (with virtual exchanges under “full” surveillance beginning this month and a cryptocurrency crackdown in nearby China), Japan’s policy makers, industry leaders and tech gurus seem to be close to a consensus on cryptocurrency. They seem to agree that while China hesitates, Japan can take advantage – and surge ahead in […]

Solar Grew Faster Than All Other Forms of Power for the First Time

5 Oct 2017   Solar

Renewables enjoyed record installations in 2016, IEA says Forecaster sees solar dominating the renewables industry Solar power grew faster than any other source of fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead. The institution established after the first major oil crisis in 1973 said 165 gigawatts of renewables were completed last year, which was two-thirds of the net expansion in electricity supply. Solar powered by photovoltaics, or PVs, grew by 50 percent, with almost half of new plants built in China. “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris. “We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.” This […]

IEA lifts global renewables forecast to 2022 by 12% on China solar growth

5 Oct 2017   China, Solar

Global renewable electricity capacity will surge by over 920 GW between 2017 and 2022, a rise of 43% on current installed capacity, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday in its annual renewables report. Renewables to add 920 GW capacity over 2017-22 driven by solar China, India, US will account for two-thirds of expansion Europe to fall behind with 40% less additions forecast 2017-22 According to the IEA’s Renewables 2017 report, this year’s forecast is 12% higher than last year, due mostly to solar PV revisions in China and India. RELATED CONTENT Video: German election results bring coal exit, carbon pricing back on agenda Blog post: Solar to power Middle East oil, natural gas exports Three countries – China, India and the United States – will account for two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022, it said. “We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about […]

Abu Dhabi Expands Worldwide Solar Investments

2 Oct 2017   Abu Dhabi, Solar

In May Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) closed a project finance agreement for the 1.17-GW Noor Abu Dhabi, a project set to be the largest independent solar plant in the world. The photovoltaic (PV) facility will cost $872m – of which $650m will be debt and $222m equity – and is slated to be operational by the second quarter of 2019. Located in Sweihan, 120 km south-east of the capital, the project is being implemented by the Sweihan PV Power Company, a consortium led by ADWEA (60 percent) alongside Japan’s Marubeni Corporation (20 percent) and China’s JinkoSolar Holding (20 percent). The May announcement comes on the heels of a power purchase agreement in March stipulating that Marubeni and JinkoSolar would construct, own, operate and maintain the PV plant under a 25-year deal. In terms of capacity, Noor will be larger than India’s 648-MW Kamuthi Solar Power Project […]

Morocco Boosts Solar Investments To Benefit Agriculture

2 Oct 2017   Morocco, Solar

In early August the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Sustainable Development (Ministère de l’Energie, des Mines et du Développement Durable, MEMDD) earmarked Dh2.3bn (€206.1m) for investments in solar power, to be directed towards projects capable of lifting agricultural output. The capital will be used to promote the use of solar energy to power water pumps for irrigation as part of a plan to expand agricultural water access to more than 100,000 ha of new land by 2021. The move should also help reduce consumption of butane gas in farming operations, part of broader government efforts to shift towards clean energy. Solar capacity expands at the Noor Ouarzazate complex The government of Morocco has been pursuing renewable energy for some time. In mid-2016 Noor II and Noor III, the second and third facilities of the massive Noor solar power complex near Ouarzazate, were commissioned. Estimated to cost $9bn in total, […]

Solar Costs Are Dropping Much Faster Than Expected

26 Sep 2017   Solar

Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began something called The SunShot Initiative . The intent was to set 2020 and 2030 targets making solar power more affordable in three categories: utility-scale generation, commercial, and residential. Well, the DOE recently announced that we hit the 2020 goal for utility generation… three years early. Now, these goals don’t take subsidies into account. It’s the actual technology that’s getting more and more cost-effective. In other words, solar power is quickly maturing. Here’s where it’s going next… Solar Power Costs are Falling Quickly The targets are set in something called a “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE). This measures the cost of electricity generated by solar energy systems in a way that is comparable to the cost of electricity from other sources. The goal is to have solar become competitive with conventional power sources. LCOE is calculated by combining the initial […]

French company Total steps into solar energy market

20 Sep 2017   France, Solar

In an announcement ahead of the French president’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Total said it took a greater stake in a renewable power company. The French supermajor said Tuesday it made a $284.7 million investment to take an indirect 23 percent stake in renewable power company EREN RE. Total said could eventually take the company over completely within the next five years. “EREN RE’s momentum will allow us to accelerate our growth in solar energy and move us into the wind power market,” Philippe Sauquet, the president in charge of gas, renewables and power for Total, said in a statement . “The agreement with EREN RE is a major step towards our objective of […]

Dubai awards $3.9 billion solar energy contract to Shanghai Electric, ACWA Power

18 Sep 2017   Solar

Dubai’s state energy utility awarded a $3.9 billion contract to build and run a 700 megawatt solar power plant to a consortium comprising Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, the government said on Saturday. The project will feature a 260-metre (850-foot) tower receiving focused sunlight, the world’s tallest such tower, the government said. The consortium bid to supply electricity to Dubai for 7.3 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. The first stage of the project is due to be commissioned in late 2020. It is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park, a vast complex which is projected to generate 1,000MW by 2020 and 5,000MW by 2030. The government aims to use the solar park and other energy sources to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s power output to 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050. […]

How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Solar and Wind Power Alone

16 Sep 2017   Solar, Wind

While the potential of wind and solar energy is more than sufficient to supply the electricity demand of industrial societies, these resources are only available intermittently. To ensure that supply always meets demand, a renewable power grid needs an oversized power generation and transmission capacity of up to ten times the peak demand. It also requires a balancing capacity of fossil fuel power plants, or its equivalent in energy storage. Consequently, matching supply to demand at all times makes renewable power production a complex, slow, expensive and unsustainable undertaking. Yet, if we would adjust energy demand to the variable supply of solar and wind energy, a renewable power grid could be much more advantageous. Using wind and solar energy only when they’re available is a traditional concept that modern technology can improve upon significantly. 100% Renewable Energy It is widely believed that in the future, renewable energy production will […]

With high-performance cells, China takes aim at high-end solar market

14 Sep 2017   China, Solar

China, blighted by pollution and long known for churning out cheap manufactured goods, is looking to dominate the high-end of a major growth market: solar power. Under a new program, China is pushing the industry to mass market high-performance solar cells so far used mainly in high-tech products like satellites. Making these cells more affordable will likely further boost a sector that has already disrupted global electricity generation. It will also put pressure on international solar cell makers such as Canadian Solar, REC Solar, Sharp and Sunpower which compete with Chinese leaders including LONGi Green Energy Technology, Trina Solar and JA Solar Holdings. Under its 2017 “Top Runner Program”, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) plans to add 8-10 gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity to its existing 80 GW. “This shift … could have far-reaching implications for the global solar industry, especially vaulting China into the top […]

India’s second largest state seeks to quash Goldman-backed solar project

9 Sep 2017   India, Solar

India’s second largest state has appealed to the country’s top court to quash a Goldman Sachs-backed solar project, highlighting the challenges faced by solar companies looking to expand in Asia’s third largest economy. Madhya Pradesh’s attempts to scrap the agreement with ReNew Power over the 51 megawatts (MW) project, citing land acquisition delays, were thrown out by a state court. But the central Indian state’s distribution company (discom) has now appealed to the country’s highest court, potentially setting up a prolonged legal battle. The move comes after Madhya Pradesh canceled three solar power purchase deals with Canada-based Sky Power Global, also due to issues related to land acquisitions. Sky Power challenged the cancellations in the state high court, but lost the case. India is targeting a 30-fold increase in solar power generation capacity to 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. But the plan risks running into […]

NREL, Swiss scientists create silicon-based multijunction solar cells that reach nearly 36% efficiency

28 Aug 2017   Solar

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created tandem solar cells with record efficiencies of converting sunlight into electricity under 1-sun illumination. Their paper appears in the new issue of Nature Energy . In testing silicon-based multijunction solar cells, the researchers found that the highest dual-junction efficiency (32.8%) came from a tandem cell that stacked a layer of gallium arsenide (GaAs) developed by NREL atop a film of crystalline silicon developed by CSEM. An efficiency of 32.5% was achieved using a gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) top cell, which is a similar structure to the previous record efficiency of 29.8% […]

Minor Market Reforms Are Called Enough to Support Electric Grid

24 Aug 2017   Solar, USA, Wind

A widely anticipated federal report suggests minor market reforms can help ensure a reliable electric power grid and shies away from handouts to struggling coal and nuclear-power producers. The Energy Department study of the electric grid says cheap natural gas is the primary culprit behind dozens of coal and nuclear plant closings in recent years. Renewables and expanding regulations are only secondary factors, says the study, which suggests more research investment can help the grid better adapt to increasing wind and solar power. When Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned the study in April, some in the coal and nuclear industries anticipated that it would encourage the federal government to help them. And critics alleged rhetoric from Mr. Perry suggested he was prescribing conclusions for a rollback of regulations or government […]

Solar eclipse’s effect on power demand proved a yawn for utilities

23 Aug 2017   Solar

Monday’s solar eclipse had no major impact on electricity demand in affected areas of the United States, according to grid operators and utilities, many of which had lined up alternative power supplies. Customers who left their homes and offices to enjoy the celestial display used less power and cooler temperatures in regions of the total eclipse helped lower demand for air conditioning, executives said. In the end, the eclipse led to fewer calls on power to replace renewables. PJM Interconnection, which coordinates power among 13 states from Michigan to North Carolina, said power demand declined rather than increased as expected across its territory during the eclipse. “PJM had expected a reduction in power from rooftop panels to result in an increase in electric demand on the grid,” said […]

Floating solar power: new frontier for green-leaning water utilities

18 Aug 2017   Solar

Lakes and ponds used by water utilities have long been viewed with a single purpose: holding water. Now a handful of pioneering water utilities are looking at their aquatic real estate with a new purpose in mind: solar energy generation. Large-scale floating solar projects have been installed in Japan and China, as well as on ponds at California wineries. But solar energy has remained primarily a terrestrial endeavor because, in most cases, it is simpler and cheaper to mount photovoltaic (solar) panels on land. That is beginning to change. The floats and other mounting components unique […]

Researchers Have Been Underestimating the Cost of Wind and Solar

26 Jul 2017   Solar, Wind

How should electricity from wind turbines and solar panels be evaluated? Should it be evaluated as if these devices are stand-alone devices? Or do these devices provide electricity that is of such low quality, because of its intermittency and other factors, that we should recognize the need for supporting services associated with actually putting the electricity on the grid? This question comes up in many types of evaluations, including Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI), Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and Energy Payback Period (EPP). I recently gave a talk called The Problem of Properly Evaluating Intermittent Renewable Resources (PDF) at a BioPhysical Economics Conference in Montana. As many of you know, this is the group that is concerned about Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI). As you might guess, my conclusion is that the current methodology is quite misleading. Wind and solar are not […]

Is Solar Reliable When Grids Are Stressed?

14 Jul 2017   Prices, Solar

If you want more solar BTUs for your buck, track the sun. This generally means the array is on the ground since very few homes are set up for rooftop tracking. Some commercial buildings are suitable, but once you get up in the air, even one story, the wind load becomes a factor, and engineering an array (and the building itself) to stand up to the wind will probably be a money loser. There is another way to get more output from the same amount of space and that is by concentrating the light. PV panels are ‘one-sun’ arrays: what you see is what you get. Concentrators (many suns) come in a few different shapes and sizes, and they can magnify what the sun has on offer by a factor of several thousand. It is not that difficult to build a dish (it looks like a big DirecTV saucer, […]

Trump’s ‘Solar Border Wall’ Claim Sends Stocks Soaring

23 Jun 2017   Prices, Solar

BBC . During the rally, he suggested that the idea to install solar panels on the hypothetical wall was originally his, though the green amenity had been included in several companies’ bids to plan and construct the wall. “ We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat,” Trump said. “ We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy, and pays for itself. And this way Mexico will have to pay much less money…Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.” The Mexican border wall had been a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign for president last year. The Department of Homeland Security invited construction companies to submit proposals for the wall’s design after the January inauguration. Two hundred companies have responded so far and 20 have been short-listed. Bloomberg reported that stocks of solar panel companies […]

Forget Coal, Solar will Soon be Cheaper than Natural Gas Power

22 Jun 2017   Solar

The staggering drop in the cost of clean energy has already upended the global power market over the past two decades — and that trend will only continue for the next two decades, according to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). As a result, renewables will capture the lion’s share of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generation by 2040, BNEF projects in its annual New Energy Outlook 2017 report. CREDIT: BNEF New Energy Outlook 2017 Despite years of plummeting prices for renewables, BNEF projects that over the next two decades, the cost of solar power will still drop another two-thirds, onshore wind costs will be cut nearly in half, and offshore wind costs will drop a stunning 71 percent. Here’s how this will profoundly transform power markets in the years ahead: By 2028, solar will beat existing gas generation. Solar and wind […]

Trump Says ‘Solar Wall’ on Mexican Border Would Pay for Itself

22 Jun 2017   Solar

‘The higher it goes, the more valuable it is,’ president says U.S. ‘spending a lot’ on design and planning of wall, he says U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s proposed building a “solar wall” on the Mexican border that would pay for itself by generating electricity. “We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy, and pays for itself. And this way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good. Is that good?” Donald Trump says “we will build a solar wall” along Mexico border https://t.co/598isRMkuF pic.twitter.com/Fa63a65tBj — Bloomberg (@business) June 22, 2017 Trump ran for the presidency on an oft-repeated promise to construct a wall across the 1,933-mile (3,207 kilometer) Mexican border […]

Wind, solar energy have not harmed U.S. power grid: industry study

21 Jun 2017   Solar, Wind

With the Trump administration expected to publish an analysis that could undermine the U.S. wind and solar industries, two renewable energy lobbying groups on Tuesday released their own study saying new energy sources pose no threat to the country’s power grid. Wind and solar advocates have said the government study’s outcome appeared to be pre-determined to favor fossil fuel industries. The new report, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and Advanced Energy Economy, says cheap natural gas is behind most of the decline in the numbers of U.S. coal-fired power plants in recent years, not government subsidies that have bolstered the growth of wind and solar power. It also said there is no evidence to show that wind and solar energy are threatening the reliability of the electric grid. The groups commissioned the report shortly after […]

America’s hungriest wind and solar power users: big companies

21 Jun 2017   Solar, Wind

FILE PHOTO: A man views solar panels on a roof at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on June 18, 2007. REUTERS/Kimberly White/File Photo Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and General Motors Co have become some of America’s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the United States cut carbon emissions. Last year nearly 40 percent of U.S. wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That’s up from just 5 percent in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association trade group. These users also accounted for an unprecedented 10% of the market for large-scale solar projects in 2016, figures from research firm GTM Research show. Just two years earlier there were none. The big reason: lower energy bills. GRAPHIC – Big companies are powering the U.S. clean energy push: […]

Switching From Coal To Solar Could Save 50,000 Lives

20 Jun 2017   Coal, Solar

Replacing coal-fired power plants with solar power installations could save as many as 51,999 lives every year, a study from the Michigan Technological University has found. This is the number of people who will in all likelihood not die of things such as asthma and congestive heart failure resulting from harmful emissions from coal-fired plants. Coal currently accounts for 30 percent of the U.S. energy mix, according to the Energy Information Administration. In terms of consumption, however, coal only accounted for 15 percent, almost all of it going into power generation. The fossil fuel is quickly losing share to natural gas, but is still a solid contributor to CO2 and other pollutants emissions – solid enough, according to the study’s authors, Emily Prehoda and Joshua Pierce, to kill more than 50,000 people on an annual basis. Switching from fossil fuels to renewables is at the core of sustainability efforts. […]

Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think

17 Jun 2017   Solar

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast. That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India. The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come. “Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when […]

Solar And Wind Revolution Happening Much Faster Than Expected

16 Jun 2017   Solar, Wind

The clean energy revolution is unfolding even faster than previously thought, which will have massive ramifications not just for the solar and wind industry, but also for the fading fortunes of old King Coal. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published its “ New Energy Outlook ” (NEO), with renewable energy forecasts through 2040. BNEF says that the costs of wind and solar are falling rapidly, and the transition to cleaner energy will be more significant than expected. “ This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand, ” said Seb Henbest, BNEF’s lead author of the NEO 2017. Solar is already cost-competitive with coal and natural gas in parts of Europe and the U.S., and solar will become […]

U.S. solar power gaining momentum

9 Jun 2017   Solar

Solar power in the United States is gaining momentum that’s independent of partisan issues in Washington, the head of an industry trade group said. A report published Thursday by the Solar Energy Industries Association found first-quarter 2017 marked the sixth quarter in a row with more than 2 gigawatts of solar power installed. The price point, meanwhile, is becoming competitive, with utility-scale installations falling below $1 per watt for the first time. Abigail Ross Hopper, the trade group’s CEO and former director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told UPI the sector has established a sustainable trajectory that’s independent of the levers of power in Washington. “This quarter shows us […]

Utility-scale solar has grown rapidly over the past five years

5 May 2017   Solar

Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory Republished May 4, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to clarify that utility-scale solar plants make up 2% of electricity generating capacity, not 2% of utility-scale electricity generation. Utility-scale solar installations—including both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal technologies—grew at an average rate of 72% per year between 2010 and 2016, faster than any other generating technologies. Utility-scale solar (plants with a capacity of at least one megawatt) now makes up about 2% of all utility-scale electric generating capacity and 0.9% of utility-scale generation. The first utility-scale solar plants were installed in the mid-1980s, but more than half of the currently operating utility-scale solar capacity came online in the past two years. As of December 2016, more than 21.5 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar generating capacity was in operation across the United States, with more than 7.6 GW of that capacity coming online in […]

Solar-Power Subsidies Are Money Well Spent

26 Apr 2017   Solar

Regarding Robert Bryce’s “Thanks for Giving Me Your Tax Money” (op-ed, April 19): Mr. Bryce, you and your community are welcome for your reliable and competitive solar electricity. Yours is one of 1.4 million American households, and skyrocketing, that have solar on their roofs. Your claim that only the wealthy are benefiting from solar energy is flat wrong. Our customers come from all walks of life and are investing in solar in large part because the cost of panels has dropped by more than 82% in the last six years. A…

Solar power reliability in Britain boosted with batteries

25 Apr 2017   Solar

Batteries deployed at solar farms in Britain could add reliability to the renewable energy portfolio in the country, developers said. Investment manager Ancala Partners and energy storage provider Anesco said their joint effort led to the completion of their first portfolio-scale deployment of batteries at 10 solar plants across Britain. Solar power is an intermittent source of renewable energy and its expansion in the British grid means more reliability is necessary. “Batteries offer a unique solution to the challenges of intermittent generation by storing and deploying electricity into the National Grid at the times it is required most” the collaborators announced. The development comes about a week after the British grid reached a milestone when about 4 percent, or 29 gigawatt hours, of the nation’s […]

Saudis Target 30 Solar, Wind Projects in $50 Billion Pledge

18 Apr 2017   Saudi Arabia, Solar, Wind

World’s biggest exporter of crude seeks to wean itself off oil Government to tender for 400 megawatts of wind in 4th quarter Saudi Arabia will develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of the kingdom’s $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption. The world’s biggest exporter of crude oil will produce 10 percent of its power from renewables by 2023, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Monday at a conference in Riyadh. It also plans to generate an unspecified amount of electricity from nuclear plants. The country is currently seeking bids to build 700 megawatts of wind and solar power capacity in a first round of tenders. It plans a second tender round for rights to build 400 megawatts more of wind power and an additional 620 megawatts of solar plants, Turki Al Shehri, head of the ministry’s renewable […]