In a press release today, solar-powered light manufacturer Sol, Inc. announced that the first phase of its Haiti relief effort has been completed. The company has already shipped approximately one third of its first 130 solar light systems and is looking for air or sea shipping partners to assist with the rest. While the bulk of the company's $300,000 effort has yet to be realized--i.e., installed--Sol, Inc. did get some emergency systems up right after the initial devastating earthquake:
The New York Power Authority announced on Wednesday a statewide solar plan with the potential to power 15,000 homes from the sun by 2014, in the form of its 100 MW Solar Photovoltaic Initiative. The NYPA has called for proposals from developers to install, own and operate solar photovoltaic arrays on primarily publicly owned buildings, such as schools, local government facilities and municipal electric utilities. The electricity generated from these solar panels would then be sold to the NYPA under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA), with development for the initiative beginning this year and set to finish in 2014.
President Barack Obama last night delivered the State of the Union Address. The President focused on the economy, above all, emphasizing his administration's efforts to shore up the economy and create jobs. Clean energy was mentioned a number of times, and solar in particular got a shout-out about two-thirds of the way through: "And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy -- in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels."
A joint venture of solar panel manufacturer Suniva and storage developer GS Battery aims to bring battery back-up (but still grid-tied) solar into the limelight once again. Inefficient battery storage has encouraged small-scale solar generation to rely entirely on the grid for auxiliary power. Battery systems can cost nearly twice as much as straight grid-tied systems, depending on the needs of the system, and the batteries themselves are often not eligible for cost-reducing solar incentives. (Though beginning this year, battery systems are eligible for the 30 percent federal ITC.) They also take up a ton of space, which is something many homes and small commercial installation sites don't have on hand. The Suniva-GS system will use deep-cycle nanocarbon batteries to achieve high performance. The demo system will be 30 kw in capacity with a 3,000-amp hour battery component.
The brand-new Massachusetts program designed to encourage commercial solar development in the state is officially closed to new applicants for the first block of funding. How long did it take for the $4 million Block 1 to sell out? Well, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center opened up to solicitations for the first block of funding at 2:00pm today; and the email to Massachusetts Solar Stakeholders announcing that sufficient applications had been received went out at 5:38pm today. So I guess I exaggerated above--it took over three and a half hours to sell out.
Solar goes to outer space. Again. Via CNNmoney.com, EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) was awarded a contract by ATK Space Systems to manufacture, test and deliver solar panels that will be used to power the Orion spacecraft, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin.
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President & CEO Rhone Resch made a strong show of support for the Arizona solar industry today in an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star, co-written with Bret Fanshaw, an associate with advocacy group Environment Arizona. The opinion piece does double duty as a defense of SEIA's push for strong climate and energy legislation--we can assume it's cap and trade in question here, though the piece does not specify--and as a pro-Arizona solar rally. The state's indisputably excellent solar resource has made it an ideal locus for solar power plants. Recently, however, development has been slowed or stalled by a heated debate over the long-term environmental impact of solar in the desert, especially as the most efficient solar energy plants use solar thermal technologies. And water is certainly at a premium.
San Francisco, CA January 27th, 2010. GetSolar has opened a limited number of Partner Slots in the New Jersey (NJ) solar installation market for Solar Integration Companies doing business in New Jersey.
The Christian Social Union (CSU) in Germany wants to delay by several months planned cuts to that country's feed-in tariff, reports Reuters. Previously announced cuts to the tariffs led industry analysts to revise down demand estimates for solar equipment, denting solar stock prices. Following news of the proposed delay, Jefferies analyst Paul Clegg upgraded some solar stocks, according to Barron's Eric Savitz. About half the world's solar electricity is generated in Germany.
In this post, we’re reviewing the solar incentives offered by the municipal utilities of Vernon, Azusa, Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank. Check out Part One of our LA coverage for details of SCE and LADWP solar rebates and for a review of terms.
Intel Corp. today announced plans to install solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at eight U.S. locations in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Oregon. The computer chip maker also announced it will increase the amount of clean power it purchases in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs) to more than 1.4 billion kilowatt hours -- an amount equal to over half its 2010 electricity needs.
A swath of land with enormous solar potential, it’s no wonder that Los Angeles County offers a wealth of opportunities to go solar. The California Solar Initiative (CSI) mandated four years ago that all investor-owned utilities in the state must offer a solar rebate, and in 2008 began requiring municipal utilities to do so as well. As a result, Los Angeles County residents have numerous solar rebates and incentives available, depending on electric utility. In the third installment of our California Solar Series, GetSolar guides you through them.
Geoscape Solar, a New Jersey-based solar installation company, today announced New Jersey's first residential solar leasing program. The new program will enable homeowners to get solar panels installed with no upfront cost.
Yesterday, I finally crumbled and retired my Blackberry for an iPhone. So it was with utter shock that I scanned the news this morning to discover that Apple has filed a patent application for a solar powered iPhone and iPod. Just my luck – a solar energy writer missing the solar powered cell phone news by a day!
California solar energy plant developers asked the Renewable Energy Policy Group this past Friday if environmental approval processes could be sped up, since projects are making little to no progress towards their 2010 construction goals--goals that must be reached if the projects are to qualify for specific federal funds. This frustration with the slow pace of approval has become something of a theme with solar development in the southwest and California. Various bills have been proposed that would (a) speed up the approval processes for solar energy plants or (b) at least provide clearer environmental guidelines for plant development to make it easier to predict the success or failure of a project. Developers don't see why separate guidelines need to be established--can't they just use the guidelines in place for other large desert developments? Why is solar so much more complicated?
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) announced yesterday the U.S. Department of Energy’s allocation of $5 million in federal stimulus funds to Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in order to develop California’s first “solar highway,” as well as four other renewable energy projects, such as a facilities that compost organic waste to generate energy.
Update for 2016: This post is still very timely: Solar panels, mounting hardware, inverter, wiring and conduit, specialized meters: these are the components of all photovoltaic (PV) systems. But it's the solar panels themselves that not only make up the bulk of your solar quote, but whose technology, costs, and applications are the most hotly contested. People ask me all the time what the differences are among panels--here's a thorough but lay-person friendly answer.
The California Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved $350 million in rebates to encourage homeowners and businesses to install solar water-heating systems. Industry experts estimate that the program could cut the cost of such systems -- also called solar thermal systems -- by up to 25 percent. The federal government provides a tax credit worth 30 percent of installed system costs.
As part of the Bay State's Green Communities Act, investor-owned utilities must solicit bids for 10-15 year renewable energy production contracts at least twice in the next four years. The first round of solicitations--for 750,000 MWh--is being organized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The state's Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electricity suppliers to include a minimum percentage of renewable power in their energy portfolios each year:
California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation (PG&E) announced yesterday a deal with SolarCity that will enable homeowners and businesses to install solar energy systems with small or no upfront investment. Instead of owning the systems, customers pay a monthly fee to SolarCity, which owns the solar panels and can sell the electricity they generate. As the owner, SolarCity also benefits from local and federal tax incentives designed to lower solar installation costs. Customers may choose to either lease the system or enter into a power purchase agreement, whereby they purchase the electricity generated by the system at a predetermined rate.
Yesterday, German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle announced a potential cut of up to 17 percent in the country’s solar energy subsidies.
Holding to a firm tradition of supporting solar energy within New York, the Public Service Commission has voted to provide $12 million for solar rebates through June of this year. The solar market in the state has been holding its breath since the NYSERDA rebate expired at the end of 2009, with no new incentives on the shelf. The PSC wants to establish a more long-term incentive structure to continue encouraging solar development, but in the meantime, this cash infusion will make it possible for solar homes and businesses to move forward with their projects. The Times Union reported that the industry is treating the news with "cautious optimism":
The catastrophic earthquake that has all but leveled Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, left tens of thousands dead or missing, and crippled the country's infrastructure certainly didn't spare alternative power sources like generators or solar installations. Some solar arrays are still up and running and providing much-needed power, though, while still others are being reassembled out of the wreckage. In an insightful blog post yesterday, MSNBC.com science editor Alan Boyle took a look at how solar power is providing some immediate relief to the country's energy needs. For instance,
An unlikely location in the Midwest is setting up to be a locus of solar activity: Detroit, Michigan, former world auto industry capital as famed for its Model-Ts as it was for its smoke-belching factories, is also at the center of a pilot solar incentive program offered by utility company DTE Energy Co. through its subsidiary Detroit Edison. With Michigan shooting for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 10 percent by 2015, however, the pressure is on for utilities to deliver—and DTE has stepped up to the plate. SolarCurrents, as the $25 million Detroit Edison program is called, provides rebates of $2.40/watt—or, $2,400 per kilowatt—of installed solar capacity, a lucrative rebate that could set off the price of a 5 kW system by a hefty $12,000. It applies to solar photovoltaic systems between 1 kW and 20 kW in installed capacity, and the program will accommodate only up to 5 MW of installations, so get your foot in the door while you can.
Judging from news coming out of California, the world's largest retailer is continuing to notch up solar energy successes. Two weeks ago, we reported on Wal-Mart's completion of three new Caliofrnia solar installations in Paramount, Baldwin Park and Highland. Today, via the Los Angeles Times, comes news of a fourth project, brought online this week at the company's distribution center in Apple Valley.
Colorado's state Congress may have an interesting bit of legislation before them this session: a bill that would allow solar panels installed in community gardens to qualify for the solar rebates currently available through Xcel Energy. The brainchild of State Rep Claire Levy (D-Boulder), the bill would allow multiple people to buy into an off-site solar installation and, like shareholders, all receive a portion of the benefits of the solar energy, from installation cost reductions to any net-metering credits for excess electric generation. Levy told the Daily Camera that:
Home to more than just SeaWorld and a world-class zoo, the metropolis of San Diego is also one of America’s top clean energy cities, pulling in 27 percent of its electricity through biogas, small hydro and solar power. San Diego County itself is also a solar superstar, leading the state in California Solar Initiative (CSI) applications: from the beginning of 2007 to January 6 of this year, it received a total of 57.4 megawatts’ worth of applications for solar installations, comprising 12.8 percent of the total.
For all you Phoenix-area customers of SRP, remember that the utility's EarthWise Solar Energy Program's excellent solar rebate is due to scale back at the end of April 2010. Right now, residential ratepayers can save up to $13,500 on the cost of a home solar installation. Also, the program offers strong incentives for commercial solar installations of all sizes:
Royal Caribbean is bringing solar power to sea in a whole new way. The Miami-based cruise line operator has installed some 21,000 square feet of solar thin film on Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship. The $750,000 solar installation was completed by BAM Solar Power, a solar enegy installation outfit based in Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s something clean tech observers and many in the utility industry have long expected, articulated in the form of a report from researchers at engineering and consulting company Black & Vetch: California utilities won’t be able to meet their 2010 renewable energy standard (RPS), which decrees that they must obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources like solar, wind or geothermal. The news comes from Earth2Tech, which reports that even if utilities have set the necessary projects in place, they won’t be online in time—not even by the end of 2010.
In an effort to spur home sales during a gloomy time for real estate, Michigan-based developer Pulte Homes has begun to offer residences with solar roofs at two of its Arizona developments, in addition to a few of its solar roof communities developed earlier elsewhere the country. Since the beginning of the new year, Pulte has started to sell solar homes inside two “age-restricted” (in other words, reserved for residents aged 55 and over) communities run by Del Webb, one of its subsidiaries. With 11,200 homes left to be constructed in these two Del Webb developments, Pulte has stated that it has the potential to dominate the Arizona market for solar residential developments.
In order to pull out of the solar energy development business, Edison Mission Group (EMG) had to sell of a string of projects already under way. Thin-film industry darling First Solar (FSLR), the integrator with whom EMG had been working, bought the whole set for an undisclosed number. Stocks have suffered a bit in the wake of the surprise decision. EMG is leaving solar development for wind projects, not for financial reasons, and with more than 10 GW of solar assets under the group's belt, they'll still be very much on the scene.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced $10 million in new funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The authority will award the funds to enable seven solar energy firms to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on homes and businesses across the state. Taken together, the anticipated projects represent about six megawatts of clean energy generation capacity. Over 600 homes and a number of businesses will install new PV systems over the next two years.
Customers of Arizona utility SRP were warned in December that the utility was planning to increase electric rates by 4.9 percent late this spring. This is a scaling back of SRP's original plan to hike rates by 8.8 percent, a plan derailed by the economy, and should only add about $6 to an average electric bill. Knowing that the utility does have a higher goal in mind, though, how long will it take them to raise rates again? The hike this time around is primarily to fund a new coal-fired power plant in eastern Arizona, replacing a now-defunct plant in Nevada.
Solar installations are only financially viable, at this stage, when the cost can be mitigated by financial incentives like tax credits and solar energy rebates. While the wisdom of including solar power in our nation's energy portfolio is now generally accepted, this wasn't always the case. It took a certain amount of vision--and gumption--for the first serious supporters of solar in this country to get solar legislation enacted. California was among the first movers and shakers of the American solar industry, and its momentum has only increased over the years. The state's financial support for solar homes began more than ten years ago with 1998's Emerging Renewables Program, while commercial solar installations started to receive funding in 2001. And then in 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), with the firm backing of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, developed the California Solar Initiative, or CSI.
Yesterday was the second of three scheduled information sessions to educate Massachusetts farmers about financial incentives that can help them afford solar installations and other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Hosted by the Mass Farm Energy Program (MFEP), the sessions provide in-depth coverage of state and federal programs that can help your farm (or, for some incentives, rural small business) reduce energy costs.
Imagine a program that would effectively cut the cost of home solar energy systems in half, nationwide. That's just what the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is advocating. Following on the heels of the Department of Labor's announcement last week of $100 million in grants for green-jobs training programs, and President Obama's announced $2.4 billion in renewable-energy manufacturing tax credits, the SEIA is hoping Congress will boost the allowable federal tax credit for residential solar installations.
China's Daqo New Energy Corp., a manufacturer of polysilicon, on Tuesday filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of up to $108 million. The company, which plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol "DQ," is aiming to sell 6.5 million American Depositary Receipt (ADR) shares priced at between $12.50 and $14.50 each.
Private companies looking to invest in renewable energy projects in Jordan may now be able to negotiate directly with the Energy Ministry, announced a senior official on Wednesday. It is hoped the change -- which permits local and international firms to bypass a competitive bidding process -- will expedite the development of renewable energy projects across the country.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today signed an executive order outlining the state's plan for building a green economy. “A comprehensive green economy is critical to the future of New Mexico and will lead our state into a new era of economic vitality and stability,” Governor Richardson said at the signing, which was held at SCHOTT Solar's Albuquerque manufacturing facility. “Today I am outlining a clear path to ensure our state capitalizes economically and environmentally on our abundant renewable resources and assets.”
Often, the first thing someone wants to know about solar is: How much does it cost? When I talk to people about their interest in solar power, I try to emphasize that this is not only a difficult question to answer, but often, it isn't the correct one to ask in the first place. Having an idea of cost in mind is essential to pursuing solar for your home or business--but at the same time, looking at the price tag without knowing the context can discourage you from what could seriously be a great investment.
If there’s one thing that a first-time buyer of solar, a seasoned solar installer and we here at GetSolar.com all know about buying a solar system, it’s that solar incentives can be inordinately complicated and differentiated, with utility-, state- and sometimes even county-specific rebates and regulations unapologetically in place. Even the most experienced solar energy expert can’t be expected to remember all of those rules, deadlines and percentages; the lengthy lists and technical verbiage found in most of the available reading material can be a turn-off, and it’s not easy to tell which rebates have already gone obsolete.
Not long after the turn of the 20th century, Los Angeles city planners thought it would be a great idea to divert the water from 100-square-mile Owens Lake into the city's aqueduct. They may have imagined how grateful their descendants would be for the water supply--but they probably didn't imagine the nasty side effect of dust storms that sweep the city, whipped up across the dry, uninhabited (and state owned) lake bed by Pacific winds. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has thus far spent over $500 million attempting to control this bane of Owens Valley residents' existence, to little avail.
A trio of companies -- CarbonFree Technology, Integrys Energy Services, Inc., and SunPower Corp. -- today announced the completion of Harvard University's first large rooftop solar energy system. Installed atop one of the historic buildings that make up the Arsenal on the Charles complex in Watertown, MA, the 500-kilowatt (kW) system is expected to generate the equivalent amount of electricity annually consumed by 83 average Massachusetts homes.
Among states that legislate to encourage demand for solar power and solar energy technologies, New York has been a leader for several years. The market looks promising enough that a new solar-energy business will soon come to the Hudson Valley.
Today, Southern California Edison (SCE) launched a $1 million initiative providing funds to community college students pursuing green jobs training or education. The Green Job Initiative will make $1,000/year scholarships available to hundreds of students at the program's ten participating colleges, which include schools in Los Angeles, Cerritos, San Bernardino, and more southern California communities.
California solar incentives have been among the strongest in the nation for years, leading the pack much of the time. Distributed by utilities rather than by a state body, the California Solar Initiative's rebate has made it possible for the state to make incredible progress towards its goal of 1,940 MW of installed solar capacity by 2016 with solar installations distributed geographically across the state. In October 2009, the program had reached 509 MW, and demand isn't slowing down. Southern California and the San Diego area have been booming right along with the rest.
Under an initiative launched today, India aims to install 20 million square meters of solar thermal panels and 20 million solar-powered lights. If all goes according to plan, the National Solar Mission will by 2022 add 20 gigwatts (gWs) of solar-based power generation capacity, nationwide.
Last we heard, First Solar was the only American solar company setting up massive shop in China. As of this past Friday, however, it appears as if the Arizona powerhouse will have to share the space with a compatriot—Californian concentrating solar power company eSolar Inc., which will build a number of solar thermal “power tower” plants over the next decade. The plants are expected to generate a total of over 2,000 megawatts of electricity, which at peak output would be equivalent to that of a large nuclear facility.
Hot on the heels of President Barack Obama’s $2.3 billion Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for spurring renewable energy development and clean-energy jobs arrives news, courtesy of the Arizona Republic, detailing how Arizona will be among the many states to benefit from the initiative.
Yesterday Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced the completion of three brand-new solar installations in Southern California, making steady progress on its pledge to supply itself completely through renewable energy. The projects are located in the cities of Paramount, Baldwin Park and Highland, the first two of which are found in Los Angeles County, and the third in San Bernardino County, and although no information is publicly available on the size of these installations, it’s safe to assume that Wal-Mart is attempting to put its money where its mouth is.
With clashes over endangered wildlife and the complexity of the country’s permitting processes temporarily bringing the breakneck pace of desert solar development in the southwestern U.S. down a few notches, a few developers have already begun looking south for solar real estate. Not south, as in Texas, but south, as in Mexico. The northwestern Mexican state of Baja California could very well be exporting solar and wind power to the Californian metropolis of San Diego in the near future, according to DailyFinance.
Just two days ago I wrote about the newly powered-up solar installation at New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, a 200 kw array that will offset about thirteen percent of the facility's peak demand and make Fat Tire ale lovers everywhere a bit smug about their eco-friendly drinking habits. Then today, word came of another Colorado solar installation at a brewery.
SunWize Technologies, a Hudson Valley solar installation firm, has landed a $7.8 million federal contract to upgrade the solar energy systems at veterans' hospitals across the country, reports The Daily Freeman.
When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) spoke earlier this week about the need to ramp up clean energy production in the state, she raised a few hackles by emphasizing her interest in nuclear power. It's not a renewable technology, of course, but it's emissions-free, and as we all know the list of pros and cons might as well be endless for all the controversy it causes. The Arizona Times pointed out that the last nuclear plant in the country was completed two decades ago about an hour outside of Phoenix. Since then, we've steered clear, but Brewer thinks nuclear should not only be part of the state's energy solution moving forward, but the "cornerstone".
The Arizona School Facilities Board (SFB) is finalizing a plan that will provide $5 million to rural school districts for the purchase of solar energy systems. Twenty-one school districts will receive grants. As relayed by the Phoenix Business Journal, the SFB aims to maximize the bang for its buck by focusing on helping small schools save on monthly operating costs.
Findings from Cleantech Group LLC and Deloitte put 2009 venture capital investment in the clean tech industry at $5.6 billion. Spread across more than 550 deals throughout North America, Europe, China and India, this preliminary total is "expected to increase by 5-10% once investors fully announce their activity (as in previous years), which would make 2009 a record year for number of cleantech VC deals, and approximately equal with 2007 for total amount invested." Considering the bleak financial outlook of the past year overall, and the lack of binding resolutions at the Copenhagen climate talks, this represents a coup for clean tech. This is still a third less than 2008's record-breaking investment levels of nearly $8.5 billion, so there are no street parties being planned to celebrate the news (not that we know of, anyhow).
In what has become the country's hottest solar market, New Jersey utility PSE&G has announced plans for a further 12 MW of solar power. Among the four projects are two that, when completed, will be the highest capacity solar sites in the state. Each project was awarded to a different solar firm to support healthy competition and growth for the industry. PSE&G says 150 new jobs will be created once construction gets started in the spring, though does not say how many jobs they expect to outlast the projects (which are all slated to wrap up by fall).
California wineries have been abuzz with solar installations for a few years now, but it's not too often we see a brewery pop up on the radar. Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing Co.'s 200 kw solar array today went live, making it the largest privately owned, on-site solar installation in Colorado. The 870 solar panels will provide an estimated 13 percent of the brewery and packaging facility's peak power demand. The energy savings will be significant, but the brewery--which purchases wind power and uses on-site methane for heat and electricity--says it was partly pursuing solar for the greater good:
One of the main criticisms of solar power as a key energy source is that it doesn’t work the minute the sun sets. Australian company EnviroMission Ltd., however, believes it has a solution on a grand scale. With its eye on a vast stretch of barren land in western Arizona, it hopes to build a solar tower, a gargantuan power plant that requires only the intense sunlight from the day to keep it fueled.
Behind their shared pride in the Golden State’s green incentives, two types of renewable energy proponents are fueling a debate over the direction California’s solar movement—and perhaps that of the nation—should take. Most of the high-profile solar development projects in California and elsewhere across the country are large-scale power plants, which sell electricity to utilities companies, which in turn funnel them into nearby homes. It’s the traditional model, but it’s not going uncontested. There are some solar power supporters, like engineer and energy consultant Bill Powers, who don’t think bigger is better.
A week ago, the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reaffirmed its commitment to keep 31 renewable energy projects on a "fast track process" through the permitting, public participation and -- ultimately -- commissioning stages. The bureau will focus on the most promising projects, with the aim of allowing some (if not all) of them to receive incentive funding under the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The deadline for ARRA funding is December 2010.
Shell has become entangled in a disagreement with the World Bank over allegations that the Anglo-Dutch oil company is refusing to honor warranties on solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sold to customers in the developing world.