You may have heard about the new technology that promises to extend solar power production into previously unknown territory: darkness. The key ingredient is a type of salt that acts as a thermal mass, becoming molten during the heat of the day and then releasing that stored heat at night to provide steam to power turbines for energy production. The New York Times blog Green Inc. offers a good look at the details of the Nevada solar plant being planned around this technology, and a good sum-up of how it will actually work:
Beginning in late January, Massachusetts will once again be accepting applications for the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program. The press release from Governor Deval Patrick's office laid out the next phase for solar in the state:
It's been a year of serious ups and downs (and more ups) for the solar industry, and we at GetSolar have enjoyed every minute of covering it for you. Solar has stood the test of a severe economic crisis and we are poised at the brink of great expansion as solar technology becomes more efficient, solar information becomes more accessible, solar power becomes more deployable, and solar markets become more thoroughly understood and developed. We look forward to keeping you informed and engaged in the solar discussion in 2010.
North America's largest solar energy services provider, SunEdison, and Xcel Energy's regional operating company, Southwestern Public Service Company, today announced a deal for five photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in New Mexico. Together the installations will total 50 megawatts (mWs) of solar generation capacity -- enough to power more than 10,000 homes. To be sited in Lea and Eddy counties in southeastern New Mexico, the five 10 mW utility-scale installations should be fully operational by the end of 2011.
With the focus on Copenhagen and climate change, my coverage of the smart grid has taken a back seat. The two, however, are far from mutually exclusive. Rather, the smart grid is now being billed as a key solution to fighting climate change, on par with scaling renewable energy and creating an international carbon trading mechanism.
Long regarded by analysts as the solar industry bellwether, Arizona-based manufacturer First Solar is solidifying its position as a solar power behemoth, a powerhouse with enormous coffers and global reach. As part of its efforts to grow its utility business, yesterday it opened the largest photovoltaic solar power station in California, a plant in the city of Blythe with a generating capacity of 21 megawatts (sufficient power for 17,000 homes) and a 20-year purchase agreement with Southern California Edison. The 21-megawatt plant is only the latest in a series of planned expansions for First Solar, which includes a 48-megawatt plant in Nevada to provide electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric subscribers in California, with the plant slated to begin construction in January 2010 and reach completion by the end of the year. With California’s utilities companies scrambling to reach the state’s ambitious mandates—one third of the state’s electricity has to come from renewable energy sources by 2020—the hope appears to be that the growth will benefit everybody.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will make available a $6 million grant to the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), according to a recent announcement by Governor David A. Paterson. The new funding will enable LIPA to continue programs that provide rebates and incentives to homeowners and business owners who install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. LIPA's Solar Pioneer/Entrepreneur program provides a per-watt rebate to reduce the cost of solar panels, enabling many individuals and businesses to achieve a positive return on investment with their solar installations.
Remember Solyndra? The California-based designer and manufacturer of cylindrical rooftop solar PV systems registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Filing does not guarantee that an issue of common stock will be approved.
Around this time of year, we find that not a lot of folks are thinking about large-scale home or business investments. It's the holidays, we're all a bit frantic. In some parts of the country, it may not even be practical to look at a solar installation for another few months considering ice and snow conditions. But in central coast California down through San Diego, this is hardly an issue--and this is also among the best regions in the country in which to pursue solar. Why? Solar resource (the availability and intensity of sunlight); great financing options; great solar incentives, like tax breaks and rebates; and a general supportive atmosphere. Your neighbors aren't going to complain: they're going to ask if they can take a tour.
Minnesotans looking to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system have reason to be hopeful for the New Year. As we reported on this blog in June, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has been developing plans to introduce in Minnesota their Solar Rewards program, its solar rebate initiative already on offer in Colorado and New Mexico. If the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) grants final approval, rebates may become available to homeowners and businesses in 2010.
At the climate talks in Copenhagen, the American solar industry stepped into center ring with SEIA's report on the effects faster deployment of solar energy could have on climate change. Seizing the Solar Solution: Combating Climate Change through Accelerated Deployment (PDF) makes the case for obtaining 15 percent of our total energy needs from solar by 2020. 12 percent from electric-producing solar (both photovoltaics and concentrated solar, which uses solar thermal technology), and three percent from solar hot water energy offsets. Doing so, says SEIA, could reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent while affording nearly 900,000 new jobs. (The report is a joint publication with the solar industry associations of many other countries, and there are sections as well for Canada, the Sunbelt countries, the EU, China, India, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.)
Good news for residents of San Diego County: a new program will soon make it easier to finance the installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology (FIRST) program will permit homeowners to borrow money from the municipal government to install solar panels, then will allow them to repay the funds over 20 years through an annual surcharge on their property tax bill. More generally, the approach is called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.
The Los Angeles Times makes a case for country-wide government solar incentives in its article “Germany shows government role is key to thriving solar industry,” which takes a brief look at the country’s solar incentives and compares them to the state-specific, localized incentives found in the United States. Although Germany doesn’t receive as much sun as places like Spain or Hawaii do, solar advocates say that the country’s thriving solar industry is a testament to the success of its national incentives.
The annual Sedona International Film Festival 2010 is being sponsored by Arizona Solar Power, an installer based out of the Verde valley. In addition to sponsoring, ASP is making it possible to finance solar in a whole new way: not by lease, loan, or PPA, but by...raffle. Raffle ticket proceeds go to support the festival's "Sustainable/Green Film Tract and Events", according to the festival's website.
Speaking yesterday at the Copenhagen climate conference, Department of Energy head Stephen Chu announced a $350 million plan to promote and deploy clean energy technologies in developing countries. Dubbed the Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (REDI), the plan is the product of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), a grouping of industrialized countries that represent more than 85 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. will contribute $85 million to the plan over five years.
On November 6, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) began offering grants worth up to $25,000 to companies and non-profits that install mid-sized solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar hot water systems. Made possible by $1.45 million in federal funding from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the new grants are available through October 31, 2010, or when the cash runs out -- whichever comes first. If past experience is a reliable guide, chances are the $1.45 million funds will be gone long before Halloween of next year.
As Adam reported yesterday, Akeena solar panels with integrated Enphase micro-inverters will now be available for purchase at Lowe's stores in California. Although solar installers have been using Enphase micro-inverters for a while now, this is the first panel to be offered at retail to the public. Easy access, easy solar. Or is it?
Just a brief update for those of you following the anticipated public offerings from Chinese solar manufacturer Trony Solar: the IPO isn't happening after all. Market conditions were unfavorable for the release, and the company has not announced a new release date. As reported today by the Wall Street Journal,
News this morning that Akeena Solar will sell its Andalay AC solar panels at Lowe's home improvement stores in California sent Akeena stock soaring to the highest level in almost five months. Akeena rose 48 cents, or 48 percent, to $1.47 a share as of 12:25 pm EST.
Yesterday, the Irvine United School District formally announced (PDF) its plans to install solar at each of its 21 sites, which together serve over 27,000 K-12 students. Partnering with SunEdison and SPG Solar for the financing and installation, IUSD can look forward to great energy savings with no cash outlay:
Chinese solar manufacturer Trony Solar is set to issue an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO was tentatively scheduled for today. Financially backed by Intel Capital and JP Morgan, Trony’s IPO will be the second for a solar energy manufacturer on the NYSE this year.
As we've noted on this blog before, the apt phrase for the renewable energy industries is not, "If you build it, they will come," but rather, "If you subsidize it, they will build it." Such is the case of Ontario, Canada, which is seeing a boom in solar energy-related activity since putting in place a feed-in tariff (FIT) program earlier this year.
When it comes to solar, Taiwan is shooting for the sun. The Asian semiconductor powerhouse, whose parliament passed in June a crucial renewable energy bill which seeks to add between 6,500 and 10,000 megawatts of installed renewable energy over the next 20 years, announced last week its goal to raise its solar panel capacity from five megawatts to 1,000 megawatts by 2025. Taiwanese Bureau of Energy deputy head Wang Yunn-ming was the first to break the news last Friday.
Shares of solar energy stocks were up Monday, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared greenhouse gases (GHGs) a danger to public health and an analyst upgraded a number of solar companies.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, who oversaw the 2007 climate negotiations in Bali, set a serious and ambitious tone at a pre-conference press briefing for the Copenhagen climate negotiations. Calling on all nations to adpot a “strong and long-term response to climate change,” de Boer outlined three levels in which governments must cooperate over the next two weeks. He called on nations to pursue
When it goes up, it will be the largest solar installation on private property in Massachusetts: 1,200 solar panels with a capacity of up to 650 kilowatts. And it will be dead in the heart of the city, incorporated into the plans for the mixed-use Fenway Center being developed by Meredith Management's John Rosenthal. Rosenthal, a long-time advocate of responsible clean energy production, couldn't be happier that substantial tax credits--and the support of Governor Deval Patrick--have made it possible to expand upon original plans for the Center's solar installation.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved yesterday Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to purchase electricity from an orbiting solar panel plant in outer space, provided that it is successfully deployed. The San Francisco utility announced in April its space-ward intentions, and now that it has received the official green light from state regulators, it has contracted to buy 1,700 gigawatt-hours per year for 15 years from Solaren Corporation (website still presumably under construction), a startup from Los Angeles that plans to place satellites equipped with an array of solar panels into orbit, where they would soak up the sun’s rays—undiluted by atmospheric debris and uninterrupted by bad weather or nightfall—to fuel energy users down on Earth. Or so the hope is, anyway.
We know the holidays are around the corner. Hannukah is just next weekend, and Christmas? Mere weeks away. That means we'll be ringing in the new year in the blink of an eye. But while you're contemplating how much gelt to give or what presents Santa is likely to bring you, consider bringing your solar project up to the front burner. There are several states with great rebate programs whose incentives will change--or end--in the new year. You don't have to get a project 100 percent complete by December 31st, you just have to have the contract in hand and a rebate application submitted (in most cases). Here are the biggest programs up for the axe, or at least a New Year's belt-cinching--links will take you to previous posts or to DSIRE for more detail:
Chinese solar-panel maker Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) today announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in Ontario, Canada. According to the company press release, the facility will be capable of producing 200 megawatts (mWs) of solar modules each year and is expected to create 500 local manufacturing jobs. Investors responded positively, initially driving shares up about nine percent in early trading.
One of the largest electric utilities in Illinois and Missouri has officially launched a large-scale solar initiative. Ameren Corporation will begin by installing solar panels at two sites, one at the headquarters in St Louis and one at an existing Ameren Illinois Utilities facility. But these systems will be small potatoes in comparison to the plans Ameren has in mind if the first phase of planning and design produces viable large-scale solar projects, and if these pilot projects show promise, according to the press release. Designs for projects will be completed by April, and phase one installation should be complete by fall 2010.
With ambitious initiatives such as its Solar Stimulus Program and a target of installing 250 megawatts' worth of solar-generating capacity in the state by 2017, Massachusetts has shown itself to be a vanguard in the U.S. push for solar, and the latest news to emerge from the Commonwealth further bolsters this reputation: having tapped out its $68 million state solar fund in around half the amount of time it was allotted for, the Deval Patrick Administration is in the process of assembling a new program that officials hope will match the generosity of its predecessor, Commonwealth Solar.
As we hinted at a few weeks ago, India has finally announced a national solar energy plan initially intended for public declaration on November 14. Officially known as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the “Solar India” plan adopts a three-phased approach with a preliminary goal of installing 200 MW of solar energy capacity by 2012. By the year 2022, Solar India hopes to have 20,000 MW of solar thermal and photovoltaic energy up and running. According to the plan,
Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell yesterday announced that a Greek solar-panel maker will open a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia's Navy Yard. The planned project -- which is to be owned and operated by Heliosphera US -- is expected to create 400 jobs and attract hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. As Governor Rendell noted in the press release: