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A New Twist on Solar: A Look at Solyndra

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Wednesday, September 30 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Solar Technology, California Solar

A new player has elevated the game for solar PV manufacturers. Solyndra, a California-based company, manufacturers thin film solar panels in the shape of a cylinder. The panels are designed for installation on commercial rooftops – think large, flat rooftops at big box retailers.

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The Chamber of Commerce on Climate Change

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, September 30 2009 under: Chamber of Commerce, PGE, Nike, government, Energy Policy, California Solar

Remember how Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in California withdrew from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing disagreements with the Chamber's refusal to take climate change seriously? PG&E has been one of the strongest supporters of solar energy adoption in the country, and supports a carbon cap and other climate change measures included in the Waxman-Markey bill struggling in Congress.

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PSEG Calls for Renewables-Friendly Transmission Policy

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, September 30 2009 under: New Jersey Solar, Transmission, PSE&G, smart grid, Utility Solar

Today, Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo of New Jersey's PSEG made an official call for an updated national transmission policy. PSEG's press release reports:

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India Stepping up to the Plate on Solar?

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, September 29 2009 under: international solar, India Solar, solar in developing nations

The Indian state of Gujarat will soon be home to the world’s largest solar power complex, provided that it successfully acquires the thousands acres of land needed for the project by the end of the year. The $10 billion, 3,000-megawatt initiative will raise funding with the help of the Clinton Foundation and aims to develop an array of technologies, including solar panels and solar thermal plants. If successful, there’s little question as to the implications of the project: resource-poor India will be several steps closer to meeting energy demand for its burgeoning population while simultaneously addressing calls for it to reduce emissions.

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German Solar Panel Maker Extends Warranty

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, September 29 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Schott Solar, Solar Warranty, German, Solar PV Panels

Schott Solar AG, the German solar panel manufacturer, will extend guarantee conditions for two of its photovoltaic module lines. As reported by Renewable Energy World, the group will now offer a "25-year performance guarantee on glass-foil modules and a 30-year guarantee on double glass modules." Earlier this month, Schott announced its plans to raise the warranty to 25 years on its line of POLY panels:

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Solar Starting to Shine in Puerto Rico

Two months ago, Walmart Puerto Rico announced a partnership with SunEdison to deploy rooftop solar systems at five Walmart PR stores, with plans pending for a total of 23 installations over the next five years. The initiative -- which will be the largest renewable energy project ever developed on the island -- is a prominent, recent example of Puerto Rico's growing interest in solar energy.

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NIST Identifies Smart Grid Interoperability Standards

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Monday, September 28 2009 under: Solar Policy, smart grid, Solar Technology, Energy Policy

On the heels of GridWeek 2009, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft list of 77 standards intended to insure interoperability of new smart grid technologies and devices.

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Solar Powered Clinics in Iraq

Posted by Margaret Collins In Sunday, September 27 2009 under: international solar, battery storage, Iraq Solar

A few months after a solar panel installation was performed at one of Baghdad's medical centers, CNN got in there to talk with Dr. Thamer Al-Musawi, one of the doctors at the Al-Dakhil Medical Center. The 64-panel, battery-backed array is designed to support the refrigeration, fans, and lighting of the center, though does not extend to heating/cooling. The solar installation was one of two within Baghdad funded by the U.S. and supported by the Iraqi Health Ministry.

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Solar Decathlon Weeks Away

Posted by Margaret Collins In Friday, September 25 2009 under: Solar Decathlon, Solar Homes, Greenbuild, California Solar

Attention, solar home aficionados! The Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon is mere weeks away, beginning October 8th on the Mall in Washington, DC. If you're not familiar with it, the Solar Decathlon is a design competition for teams of university students world-wide. Each competition cycle is two years: in the first year, teams submit their initial ideas for a solar-powered home (net-zero energy consumption is the goal, though not the mandate). Of the applicants, 20 are selected to actually build their homes in the second year and transport them whole to Washington for a three-week showcase and contest.

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GridWeek 2009: GE's Solutions for Transmission and Distribution

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, September 25 2009 under: Solar Industry News, smart grid, GridWeek

Washington, DC was flooded this week with energy industry veterans and newbies alike at the GridWeek 2009 conference. The nation’s biggest annual smart grid event brought together consultants, vendors, utilities, and individuals from across the spectrum who share one common goal: to upgrade our electrical grid and bring it into the 21st century.

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Solar-Strong Utilities Making a Stand for Climate Change

Posted by Margaret Collins In Thursday, September 24 2009 under: New Jersey Solar, Energy Policy, California Solar, Utility Solar
California and New Jersey, with their highly successful solar programs, are two examples of forward-thinking governments taking the initiative to start meeting the challenges of a lower carbon economy. With public utilities and private corporations both calling out for change, their governments may start listening--and working together to respon

This week, two utility companies made clear statements about the need to address climate change and their role in doing so. On the West Coast, California's PG&E withdrew from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in response to the Chamber's continued skepticism towards the science of climate change. On the East Coast, New Jersey's PSEG highlighted the importance of a lower-carbon future by calling for a federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS)--and announcing that the utility is adopting a form of RPS on its own.

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Solar Panels Stolen from California Winery

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, September 24 2009 under: Solar PV Panels, California Solar

As we have reported on this blog before (see here and here), solar panels are sometimes stolen from homeowners' rooftops. Panels -- which can retail for many hundreds of dollars, depending on the size and type -- are a particularly popular target in California, the nation's largest solar market.

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California's Solar Corridor

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, September 23 2009 under: solar highway, Solar Technology, transit, California Solar

California solar hits the road with a new project from SolarCity and California-based Rabobank: a series of five solar-powered electric car charging stations have been installed along Rt. 101 between San Franciso and Los Angeles. It's not exactly like stopping off for gas, as fully charging a car can take about three hours. Maybe you can become good friends with your local banker while you're charging--four of the charging stations are in parking spots at Rabobank branches. A few weeks back, I posted about the concept of highways paved with solar collectors; while this California solar corridor isn't quite the same thing, it's an excellent step towards a lower-carbon highway infrastructure. As the cost of electric cars goes down over time, and when charging and battery technology improves to speed up the process, this may become an important element of road planning.

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German Solar Manufacturer Rallies For Lower Solar Subsidies

Posted by Connie Zheng In Wednesday, September 23 2009 under: international solar, china, Germany, Europe

In what may appear at first glance to be a self-defeating move, SolarWorld, Germany’s third-largest solar company in terms of revenue, has called for the German government to hasten its reduction of the lucrative solar subsidies that made solar so successful there in the first place. The announcement, which was made during the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference on Monday, follows the company’s declaration of plans to triple solar module production at its plant in Freiberg, Germany, at a time when many of its peers are halting expansion or conducting massive layoffs.

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German Solar Industry Group Considers Seeking Regulatory Action Against Chinese Competitors

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, September 22 2009 under: international solar, china, solar in developing nations, Germany, Europe

Not content to sit idle as their Chinese rivals implement aggressive pricing strategies overseas, German solar manufacturers are fighting back by looking to a higher power. BSW (Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft, the German Solar Industry Association) has stated that it will decide whether or not to request regulatory action by the end of the year over what it considers dumping by Chinese solar manufacturers.

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Solar System Design on the Fall Equinox

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, September 22 2009 under: Solar Window, Solar Power Info, Solar PV Panels, Equinox, Solar System Design

Yesterday, September 21, was the autumn equinox, which officially marked the end of summer. The day also has unique meaning for designers of solar energy systems. Why, you ask?

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Solar Bluetooth Headset Offers Eternal Standby Mode

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, September 21 2009 under: Solar Gadgets, Bluetooth, Solar Technology

Here at GetSolar, we typically discuss solar PV and solar thermal (solar hot water) technologies. But every once in awhile, a new gadget demands at least a short post. Such is the case today.

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New England Governors Look Towards Future of Renewable Energy

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Monday, September 21 2009 under: Massachusetts Solar, government, Energy Policy

New England’s Independent Systems Operator (ISO-NE) has released the results of a study that assessed the region’s potential to harness renewable energy. Completed at the request of all six New England state governors, the study was conducted to help policymakers better plan for scaling renewables and updating the electricity transmission infrastructure.

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How Much Does a Solar Installation Cost?

Posted by Margaret Collins In Sunday, September 20 2009 under: Solar Homes, solar cost, Cost and Financing

Update for 2016: GetSolar has partnered with EnergySage to provide customers with fast, competitive solar quotes. The partnership leverages their Solar Quote Engine that was developed with backing from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to streamline the US solar consumer buying process. EnergySage Quote Engine

We at GetSolar feel so strongly about the power of consumer choice and the accuracy of EnergySage's new comparison quote system that we have made it the default solar calculator for GetSolar customers!  Check it Out here!

The cost of solar pv panels has dropped as much as 80% over the last five years, with total total system prices fully-installed running 50% to 60% lower. This is great news for solar shoppers. Add in the renewed 30% Federal Tax Credit on systems costs, and solar electricity can save homeowners a lot of money on their utility bill.

Original Post: This week I spoke with an unusually high number of people who just wanted me to answer the question: How much is a solar panel installation on my home going to cost me? I wish I could answer that easily. I wish anyone could answer that easily--but it's just not possible. On this blog, we try to talk a lot about the factors behind the cost of solar for both residential and commercial solar projects, and I do recommend you browse through our history if this is a topic you want to get into in-depth (try the "Cost and Financing" category, and definitely check out Adam's post on how to measure solar cost). But every once in a while it's a good idea to review the basic factors, so let me lay out the major ones:

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Michigan Feed-in Tariff is Live

Posted by Margaret Collins In Friday, September 18 2009 under: Solar Energy Incentives, feed-in tariff, Michigan Solar, FIT, Feed In Tariff

As Adam called our attention to last month, Michigan has put into place an experimental feed-in tariff for solar. It's not large: out of a program cap of 2,000 kw, Consumers Energy has set aside 500 kw for residential solar. Still, that's enough for 100 moderately-sized 5kw solar panel installations in a state that has previously been hanging around the edges of the solar movement without quite getting its feet wet. (A few state utilies do offer solar rebates; check out the full list of MI incentives here.)

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Clashes Over BrightSource's Mojave Desert Solar Project Result in Project Termination

Posted by Connie Zheng In Friday, September 18 2009 under: Sustainability, Solar Thermal, Mojave Desert solar, Environment, California Solar

It’s been a turbulent week for solar in California. First, Governor Schwarzenegger rejects legislation that lawmakers have toiled over for the past nine months in favor of his own executive order. Now Oakland, CA-based BrightSource Energy Inc. has shelved its proposal for a controversial 500-megawatt solar thermal plant in a swath of Mojave Desert land known as Broadwell Dry Lake, a picturesque area that also happens to be the habitat of many species of rare wildlife.

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The Governator Guns for Solar

Posted by Margaret Collins In Thursday, September 17 2009 under: Schwarzenegger, Executive Order S21-09, RPS, Energy Policy, California Solar

No, California's new Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation didn't pass. Yes, the state is more firmly committed to solar power integration and clean energy than ever.

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NY Power Authority Adds $2M Solar Grant Program

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, September 17 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Solar Energy Incentives, NYPA, New York Solar

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) will soon provide a solar incentives program for customers served by the state's municipal utilities and rural electricity cooperatives. Such customers commonly don't qualify for renewable energy incentives. The popular solar rebates available through through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), for instance, are only available to customers of investor-owned utilities.

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FERC Chairman Underscores Importance of Transmission

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Wednesday, September 16 2009 under: smart grid, Electric Transmission, Energy Policy

Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), addressed a crowd of students, lawyers, and industry professionals at American University’s Washington College of Law this past Thursday. Focusing on our electrical infrastructure’s role in deploying renewable energy, Chairman Wellinghoff argued that delivering renewables to our load centers gives our energy grid a whole new purpose in the 21st century.

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Tennessee Solar Brightens Up

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, September 16 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Tennessee Solar, stimulus

The Department of Energy has given the green light for Tennessee to use federal stimulus money for solar power projects. Rather than funding residential solar installations--which we hope will be the next use of spare energy funds within the state--the $62 million will be used for a 5 MW solar power generation plant an hour northeast of Memphis, and for a solar research institute at the University of Tennessee that will focus on solar innovations.

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California Governor and Lawmakers Spar Over Clean Energy Bill

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, September 15 2009 under: government, Energy Policy, California Solar

Politicians elsewhere may be debating the merits of clean energy and the effectiveness of “green” job creation, but in California the question is “how,” not “why.” After the California Legislator passed a bill this weekend mandating that 33% of the electricity sold by utility companies must come from renewable energy sources like solar and wind by 2020, officials from Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration said yesterday that the Governator is planning to veto it. However, it’s not because he opposes stricter energy laws—but rather because he doesn’t think the bill offers enough flexibility.

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GE to Boost Solar Panel Production

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, September 15 2009 under: GE, Solar Panels, Solar Industry News, Solar PV Panels, general electric

Already a dominant player in the business of making wind turbines, General Electric aims to ramp up production of solar panels by early next year. As the FT reports today:

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Solar Leasing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has started to gain momentum with its “Going Green” initiative, and Urban Eco Electric (UEE) is taking action by bringing solar energy to the residents of the city of brotherly love.

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Girl Scouts, Green Mountain Energy Team Up on Solar

Thanks to Austin-based Green Mountain Energy, the office building of Girls Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) is home to a brand new 10-kW solar array. On September 13th, representatives from both organizations -- including Green Mountain's mascot, "Super Earth" -- were on hand to "flip the ceremonial switch." The solar installation incorporates 56 solar panels and is expected to save the GSSJC about $300,000 over the course of its lifetime. Here's a snippet from the press release:

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California's Smart Grid Bill Moves to Governor

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, September 11 2009 under: legislation, smart grid, SB17, Energy Policy, California Solar

California’s Senate Bill 17 (SB17) hasn’t received much attention from the press, but it will soon now that it passed both houses of the state legislature on September 4th. The bill, presented by State Senator Alex Padilla, is commonly referred to as the “smart grid systems” bill and now sits on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk. SB17 is particularly important to scaling renewables and solar energy because, if it is signed into law, it will be the first official smart grid legislation to be implemented at the state level.

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SunPower Foundation to Support Next Generation of Solar Advocates

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, September 10 2009 under: SunPower Foundation, SunPower, Solar Industry News, Solar Technology

SunPower Corp., a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency silicon-based solar modules, announced yesterday the creation of the SunPower Foundation, a nonprofit organization "focused on empowering, inspiring and motivating a new generation of solar leaders in communities around the world." The organization is the first of its kind, wholly funded by a major solar company.

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Solar Highways

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, September 9 2009 under: Solar Paving, Solar Technology, solar future

Do you ever feel like you're living in the future? No, that's just me...? Well, maybe this will change your mind: a startup was just awarded $100,000 by the Department of Transportation to prototype its Solar Road Panel. The Solar Road Panel will be made of glass and solar cells, and will be embedded with programmable LEDs. The company, Idaho-based Solar Roadways, envisions a nation powered by its solar highway system. A one-mile stretch of four lane highway paved with Solar Roadway segments would allegedly produce over 13 MWh/day: not too shabby. If you use an average daily residential electrical consumption of 30 kWh, that means one mile of highway could power over 400 homes. Naturally, you ask: how do they work?

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China and First Solar Ink Massive Deal

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, September 8 2009 under: international solar, china, solar in developing nations

Thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar just signed an agreement with Chinese officials earlier today for what is currently considered the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant, a 2,000-megawatt solar farm in the Mongolian desert. The project is slated for completion in 2019 and represents just a small part of an 11,950-megawatt renewable energy park intended for Ordos City, in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. It will be developed in installments, starting in June 2010, and will have the capacity to generate enough power for 3 million Chinese homes upon completion, according to First Solar.

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Solar + Mobile Phones = Well Water in Kenya

Posted by Margaret Collins In Friday, September 4 2009 under: Africa Solar, international solar, Solar Wells

Solar power meets mobile phone technology and solves community water access problems in Kenya? Generally we leave international solar news in Connie's capable hands, but after stumbling across this, I couldn't resist sharing. Vodafone and African telecommunications company Safaricom developed the M-PESA phone-based money transfer system to enable customers to transfer funds via text message, essentially, without requiring bank accounts. But the M-PESA sytem may be doing more than move money about Kenya in the near future: it might be moving water.

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Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Thursday, September 3 2009 under: Solar Power Info, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), New Jersey Solar, SREC

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are a mechanism designed by policymakers to ensure that a certain amount of solar energy capacity is installed in a designated area. One solar REC is created for every one MWh of solar energy produced. Some sort of compliance mechanism is generally established to ensure that producers or generators of power are encouraged to install solar and produce RECs rather than pay the pre-determined penalty.

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Nanosolar Buzz Ahead of Sept 9 Announcement

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, September 3 2009 under: Solar Industry News, nanosolar

Nanosolar, the San Jose-based manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaics, is generating a good amount of buzz among solarheads. According to their website, something "significant" is on its way: "Please check back here on Sept 9th for our new website with significant new announcements."

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Xcel to Extend Solar Rebate to Third Parties

For Xcel Energy customers in Colorado, installing solar panels on their home is made more affordable with a $2/watt rebate offered through the utility. Still, the up-front costs of solar can range into the tens of thousands, and even if the system has a sweet payback period, that may be more than some folks can finance outright. This is why Governor Bill Ritter approved a law this year to allow solar leasing: with a solar lease, a third party pays for the solar installation, while the homeowner makes one monthly payment to that third party to cover both electricity costs and lease payments on the new solar panels.

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SCE Offers Free Solar Info Sessions

Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the administrators of the California Solar Initiative, is now hosting free 90-minute informational sessions for homeowners interested in solar panel installations. Each session will last an hour and a half and will cover all the bases of residential solar installations: technology, cost, benefits and incentives. The Los Angeles Times reports the following dates for the info sessions--call 1-866-970-9221 to reserve a space.

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Solar Power in Japan Makes a Comeback

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, September 1 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Solar Japan, international solar

The country that used to produce half of the world’s solar cells is making strides toward reclaiming its former glory—and is poised to riding out the current solar panel glut with relative ease, according to The Economist. The article profiles Japan’s resurgent solar power sector, which saw its market share eroded to an average of 20% by its primarily Chinese and Taiwanese challengers over the past five years but has not lost its competitive edge.

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