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Boeing Going Solar, To Host Huge Array at South Carolina Facility

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, May 31 2011 under: Baker Renewable Energy, Commercial Solar, Boeing, South Carolina Solar

South Carolina gets plenty of sun. But a combination of cheap conventional electricity and the lack of robust renewable-energy incentives has so far kept the state from realizing its full solar potential.

Until now, maybe.

Announced several weeks ago, South Carolina Electric & Gas is planning a single solar project that will -- in one fell swoop -- triple the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) power installed statewide.

At around 2.6 megawatts, the array will comprise 18,095 solar panels and cover 10 acres of roof space at Boeing Co.'s new 787 Dreamliner assembly plant at Charleston International Airport.

As relayed by the Charleston Post and Courrier, it was recently announced that

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GE Sees Solar Cheaper than Fossil, Nuclear Power in 5 Years

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, May 26 2011 under: GE, Solar Industry News, general electric, Connecticut Solar

In terms of energy-related headlines, General Electric has been absolutely stealing the show this week.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company this morning unveiled a new solar charging station (below), which will power electric vehicles parked at its facility in Plainville, CT. Earlier in the week, it announced the launch of FlexEfficiency 50, a gas-fired power plant designed largely to complement solar, wind and other renewable-energy technologies. And (also this week) the company made known its intention to buy FMC Tech, a smart grid start-up company based in Ireland.

Whew. As if that weren't enough,

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Green Cows are Happy Cows: California Dairy Installs Big Solar Energy System

Lakeside Dairy in California's central valley has installed a big solar power system that will cut its use of conventional electricity by 75 percent.

Developed, designed and installed by SPG Solar -- one of the biggest commercial solar installers in California -- the 891-kilowatt (kW) solar array comprises 3,240 Suntech solar panels and two big Solaron inverters.

According to GetSolar's online solar power calculator, an 890-kW DC solar power system in the dairy's region should produce around 1.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in its first year of operation. That's enough juice to power about 100 typical U.S. homes annually.

Like many businesses, Lakeside Dairy installed the system in part to help smooth operating costs.

"The recent volatility of milk prices

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SRP Relaunches Solar Power Rebate in Arizona

Good news for Arizona residents who are customers of Salt River Project (SRP): the Arizona utility recently relaunched its popular solar rebate program after a months-long hiatus during which an interim rebate was available.

As of May 1, SRP customers who install a residential solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system will be eligible to receive a rebate worth $1.35 per watt (solar panels are sized in watts). The rebate will be capped at 5 kilowatts (kW), which means that a homeowner who installs a system that's 5-kilowatts or bigger in size could receive $6,750 in incentives.

Here is SRP's explanation of how it has restructured the program:

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Japan May Make Solar Panels a Required Feature On All New Buildings

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, May 23 2011 under: Japan, Nuclear Power, Energy Policy, Rooftop Solar

As part of on-going efforts to increase the use of renewable energy, Japan may soon unveil a plan to make rooftop solar arrays a required feature of all new buildings and houses by 2030, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday.

The plan may be announced in a statement on energy policy by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the G8 summit, which will be held in northern France this week. As relayed by Reuters, Kan will likely make clear Japan's intention to continue to use nuclear energy after steps are taken to improve safety standards. Workers are still struggling to control the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northern Japan.

Like nuclear reactors, solar panels are a low- to no-emissions source

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Big Chinese Solar Panel Maker Hires More U.S. Workers, To Add 3rd Shift at Arizona Plant

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, May 18 2011 under: Solar Industry News, Arizona Solar, manufacturing, Suntech, Goodyear

We commonly think of this globalized economy of ours in terms of American companies shifting production overseas. It turns out the reverse occurs, too, even if at a much smaller scale.

Suntech Power, a leading China-based manufacturer of solar panels, said it has hired 30 workers at its Arizona plant in a push to expand its U.S. operations. To reach a goal of producing about 15,000 solar panels each month, the company will also add a third production shift to run the plant 24 hours a day.

"With growing demand for our U.S.-manufactured panels, we're excited to increase our production capacity and growth in Arizona's solar industry," Suntech's Arizona Production Manager Mike Starr said in a statement.

Suntech opened its Goodyear, Arizona facility

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Lowe's Teams with Sungevity to Offer Solar Lease Option, Starting in California

In an effort to provide solar home energy options to its customers, Lowe's is teaming up with Sungevity, an Oakland, California-based company that leases the systems to homeowners in handful of states.

The home improvement retailer has taken a minority stake in Sungevity that will help each company make up ground where it was previously lacking. Starting at stores in California, Lowe's will at last have a solar power option to discuss with its customers. Its main competitor, Home Depot, has offered such an option since March 2010, when the Atlanta-based company launched a partnership with SolarCity.

Sungevity, meanwhile,

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GM Installing Solar Panels at Chevy Volt Plant in Michigan

Posted by Adam Sewall In Friday, May 13 2011 under: DTE, Chevy Volt, GM, Commercial Solar, Michigan Solar, DTE Energy, General Motors

General Motors is continuing its slow but steady push to improve the energy efficiency of its operations and increase its use of renewable energy.

This week, the vehicle manufacturer announced that work began on a large photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant in southeastern Michigan, via Osha Gray Davidson.

At 516-kilowatts (kW) in size, the solar power array will produce enough electricity each year to fully charge 54,750 Chevy Volt electric cars, which (aptly) GM assembles at the plant.

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You Don't Have to Live in a Yurt: Solar Panels to Come Standard On SoCal Homes

Last month, we profiled a new lineup of energy-efficient homes from Meritage Homes. Not to be outdone, KB Home today announced plans to make solar panels a standard feature at its new community in southern California.

Having recently acquired land in West Hills Village in Valencia, the company will build energy-efficient homes on 43 lots. Each home will come with a photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system that will reduce owners' electricity costs, saving thousands of dollars in the coming years. The PV solar panels will of course also benefit the environment.

Here's a requisite snippet from the press release:

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In New Jersey, Toys 'R' Us Becomes Solar Panels 'R' Us

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, May 11 2011 under: Power Purchase Agreement, Commercial Solar, Toys R Us, New Jersey Solar

Toys "R" Us is the latest company to transition to solar power -- and it's doing so in a big way.

The New Jersey-based retailer today announced it will install two photovoltaic (PV) energy systems in an effort to reduce annual electricity costs and green its operations.

At 5.38-megawatts (MW), the first system will be big. Real big. In fact,

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China Doubles Down On Solar Power... Again

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, May 10 2011 under: Solar Power Info

In the aftermath of Japan's nuclear disaster last month, China officials made known their intent to double the country's solar energy target -- from 5 gigawatts (GW) by 2015 to 10 GW by 2015. Now, it seems, the country is doubling down on its solar-power ambitions... again.

As reported by AFP, China recently announced it will more than double its solar power target for 2020 to 50 GW -- an amount roughly equal 25 percent more than all the solar photovoltaic (PV) power currently installed worldwide.

William Pentland, playing a bit of a skeptic, offers further perspective:

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DTE Energy Shuts Off Michigan Solar Rebates

Michigan residents who are customers of DTE Energy have in recent years enjoyed one of the best solar power rebate programs in the country... until now.

The Michigan utility today announced that its popular SolarCurrents rebate program has become fully subscribed.

"The SolarCurrents program demonstrated that financial incentives can spur significant growth and interest in an emerging renewable technology," said Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president, Marketing & Renewables. "We are proud of the role this program has played in helping Michigan's solar industry transition to become a viable and growing industry within our state."

...

DTE Energy customers can still install solar energy systems – and work with the utility to connect them to their electric system. But DTE Energy will no longer provide financial incentives that were part of the initial pilot program.

Well isn't that convenient?

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Coal Heavy Georgia Power to Add More Solar Power to the Mix

Georgia Power isn't exactly known for its use of renewable energy resources. In fact, given that the utility meets about 75 percent of its power supply with coal, you could plausibly argue the Southern Company subsidiary is known for the opposite.

Nevertheless, more solar energy projects in Georgia may soon be on their way. As relayed by PV Tech, Georgia Power is looking for about one megawatt (MW) worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to be built within its service territory:

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'Revolutionary' New Solar Energy System Picked Up By Several Home Builders

The most efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on the market today is capable of turning about 20 percent of the sun's energy into electricity. This number is slowly but surely increasing, as technology continually improves. But in an ideal world, solar panels would convert a larger portion of the sun ray's into useful energy.

On this topic, EchoFirst may be onto something. In addition to using sunlight to generate electrical power, as conventional PV panels do, the company's energy system captures the sun's thermal energy, which may then be used for heating water and home air conditioning.

The result, according to the company, is a system that operates at around 50 percent efficiency. Here's more on how it works:

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