Friday, December 30, 2011

Stellar Solar posts record year in 2011

SAN DIEGO, USA: Several high-profile commercial solar projects, combined with a strong residential solar performance, resulted in the best year ever for the Encinitas-based company.

Commercial projects included the Salk Institute, US Foods, Vandenberg Air Force Base, San Diego Cardiac Center, Seaside Market in Cardiff, Encinitas Foreign & Domestic, and Casa Mira View Apartments. Their strong residential solar showing resulted in Stellar Solar attaining Premier Dealer status with SunPower, whose new zero-down solar lease made going solar a reality for a whole new segment of homeowners.

Readers of the San Diego Union Tribune also voted Stellar Solar Best Solar Company in San Diego, an award that resonated with home and business owners.

Stellar Solar also opened San Diego's first Solar Store in Clairemont, adjacent to SDG&E's new state-of-the-art Innovation Center. The Stellar Solar Store functions as a product showcase and design center where residential and commercial solar proposals are generated on-the-spot through cutting-edge digital design tools.

Key personnel hires were also made in 2011 with the addition of Operations Manager Walt Virack, Project Manager John Darlington, Energy Consultant Brian Nagel, Rebate Manager Joe Bowden, and System Designer Gabe Gonzales. Stellar Solar also named Artichoke Creative as their integrated marketing agency of record.

"We have been involved in energy efficiency and solar projects since 1998 with steady growth," said Stellar Solar president, Kent Harle. He added: "We burst out of the gate in 2011 and our explosive growth was unprecedented. Stellar Solar is firmly positioned as the leader in residential and commercial solar in San Diego County and has the financial stability to be around for the long haul."

NTPC signs PPA for 50 MW solar PV with MP

BHOPAL, INDIA: NTPC has signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with MP Tradeco in Bhopal, for supply of power from 50 MW solar PV power plant to be set up at Rajgarh in the State of Madhya Pradesh on 28th December.

Expected to be commissioned by the year 2013 the 50 MW solar power from Rajgarh Solar PV shall be bundled with unallocated power from upcoming coal based stations of NTPC by government of India.

The PPA was signed by MKV Rama Rao, executive director (Commercial), NTPC Ltd and PK Vaish, MD, MP Tradeco in presence of IJ Kapoor, director (Commercial ), SN Ganguli (RED-West-II) and Mohammad Suleman, secretary (Energy), Govt. of Madhya Pradesh and other senior official from NTPC, government of MP and state govt. utilities of MP.

Western Wind takes delivery of $12 million of solar panels and secures US cash grant

VANCOUVER, CANADA: Western Wind Energy Corp. has signed a module supply agreement (MSA) with a leading international, multi-billion dollar photo voltaic panel manufacturer for 42 MW DC (30 MW AC) for its Yabucoa Project located in Puerto Rico.

The panels have been delivered and Western Wind Energy has taken ownership and possession of the panels, prior to the December 31st, 2011 year-end therefore, qualifying and exceeding the minimum 5 percent safe harbor provision of Section 1603 of the American Recovery Re-Investment Act.

This transaction enables Western Wind Energy to be eligible for the 30 percent US Federal Tax Free Cash Grant which is estimated to be approximately $45 million. In addition to the $45 million tax-free cash grant, Western Wind also qualifies for an additional $64 million of Puerto Rican investment tax credits, which are both marketable and monetize-able.

These two sums total $109 million of additional benefit that is over and above the plus $100 million Western Wind has received and will be receiving for the Kingman and Windstar Projects, respectively.

The MSA was secured by a $12 million loan that will be repaid with the project finance proceeds led by Rabobank (New York office). There is a finder's fee of 5 percent payable to the finder of this transaction, payable in either cash or shares, in both cases, not exceeding $600,000.

Jeff Ciachurski, president of Western Wind Energy, states: "This is a monumental accomplishment to secure the cash grant before the expiry date and together with the Puerto Rican ITC, add another $109 million of direct cash benefit to the Western Wind shareholders. Together with the previous $100 million received and/or about to be received from Kingman and Windstar respectively, this brings the aggregate amount of cash grants, tax credits, and tax shield benefits totaling over a half a billion dollars. It will only be a matter of time before Bay Street analysts realize the full value of Western Wind Energy. This is another gold medal performance by the Western Wind team, to close off 2011. Western Wind Energy wishes all of its stakeholders a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012."

JA Solar announces 19 MW PV module supply agreement with Solarhybrid for utility scale solar power project in Germany

SHANGHAI, CHINA: JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd, one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-performance solar cells and solar power products, has entered into an agreement with Solarhybrid AG, a Germany-based project developer and general contractor for turn-key utility-scale solar power projects, to supply 19 MW of solar modules to Solarhybrid's Allstedt I solar power plant in Halle, Germany. JA Solar is the exclusive solar module supplier to the project.

Under the terms of the agreement, JA Solar will supply Solarhybrid with approximately 19 MW of high-efficiency PV modules. Located on a former military airfield in Germany, the Allstedt I solar power plant is expected to generate 19,030,000 kWh of electricity annually and reduce CO2 emissions by 266,381 tons over a service period of 20 years. The power plant is scheduled to be connected to the grid and commence operation by the end of this year.

"We are delighted to work with Solarhybrid as the exclusive module supplier to the Allstedt I solar power project," commented Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar. "As this project demonstrates, demand and support for solar energy are strong in Germany. We look forward to working closely with Solarhybrid to ensure the success of this project and to take advantage of future growth opportunities in Germany and beyond."

Tom Schroder, CEO of Solarhybrid, said: "Following a stringent supplier selection process, we are very pleased to choose JA Solar, a proven provider of industry leading solar products, as our partner for this project. JA Solar's cost-effective, high-efficiency solutions will enable us to maximize the return on investment in this project. With JA Solar's support, we look forward to opening the Allstedt I power plant by end of this year."

JA Solar expects total module shipments to Solarhybrid to reach approximately 40 MW in 2011, including 19 MW of modules for the Allstedt I project.

SunWater Solar and TNDC commission two solar water-heating systems

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: SunWater Solar Inc. and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. (TNDC) announced new solar thermal systems at two affordable housing buildings in the heart of San Francisco's Tenderloin District. The two systems, consisting of 40 solar collectors and 24 collectors, respectively, garnered a total of $85,867 in California Solar Initiative-Thermal (CSI-Thermal) rebates. One hundred percent of this rebate money was used to fund system components and installation.

The solar water-heating systems are one element of TNDC's Green Retrofit Initiative, an effort aimed at making TNDC buildings more energy efficient. Co-sponsored by the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing (MOH) and Enterprise Community Partners, the initiative also included boiler replacements, and the installation of energy-efficient lighting and low-flow showerheads and toilets. Fine Line Construction of San Francisco was the general contractor for the project.

"The San Francisco MOH and Enterprise Community Partners structured the financing in such a way that these solar water-heating installations are a highly cost-effective means of reaching Green Retrofit Initiative goals," said Don Falk, TNDC executive director. "The technology makes sense from both a financial and an environmental perspective."

"Solar thermal systems can greatly reduce water-heating bills for large, low-income housing buildings," said Justin Weil, president of SunWater Solar. "With CSI-Thermal rebates currently funding roughly 30 percent of system cost, it's a sound business decision to invest now in the technology."

"It's exciting to see non-profit organizations such as TNDC benefiting from the CSI-Thermal incentive program," said Nick Stimmel, senior program manager at Pacific Gas & Electric. "PG&E encourages other owners of affordable housing buildings to consider solar thermal for their own properties."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ormat signs EPC contract with Thermo no. 1 BE-01, LLC

RENO, USA: Ormat Technologies Inc. announced that on December 20, 2011, Ormat Nevada Inc., its wholly-owned subsidiary, signed a $21.4 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract and a credit agreement with Thermo No. 1 BE-01, LLC (Thermo I), a subsidiary of Cyrq Energy Inc., in connection with the construction of an Ormat Energy Converter (OEC) at Thermo I's existing geothermal project in Utah to increase project’s output and reduce operating costs.

The project is expected to have a relatively short completion schedule and could come on line by the middle of 2013. Under the credit agreement Ormat will provide financing in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $22.7 million that will be used to finance the project construction costs under the EPC contract with Thermo I.

Yoram Bronicki, president and COO of Ormat Technologies said: "We are very happy to continue the cooperation with Cyrq Energy, Inc. with the addition of the Thermo 1and believe that the specifics of this project will allow for a very rapid execution. The project will incorporate Ormat’s low operating cost design features which have been developed for small or remote installation and are successfully operating in our recent installations and will benefit this project greatly.”

David Kay, director of Cyrq, said: “We are pleased to continue the strategic partnership with Ormat on this project. The construction of Thermo1 will prove commercial viability of this resource and is the first step in our development of several additional plants in the Thermo area.”

Sempra Generation energizes 42 MW of solar panels at Mesquite Solar 1 project

SAN DIEGO, USA: Sempra Generation announced that three blocks of solar panels totaling 42 megawatts (MW) have been installed at its Mesquite Solar 1 project and are now delivering renewable electricity to the power grid.

Construction on the 150-MW photovoltaic solar installation in Arlington, Ariz., located about 40 miles west of Phoenix, began in June 2011. Sempra Generation anticipates that the project will be completed in early 2013.

Power from the facility is sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company under a long-term, 20-year contract.

The progress at Mesquite Solar 1 moves Sempra Generation closer to its goal of adding 1,000 MW of renewables to its power generation portfolio by 2015. Since announcing the target in early 2011, the company has installed, started construction or secured long-term utility contracts for more than 500 MW of additional solar and wind capacity.

"We have achieved remarkable growth in our renewable portfolio over the past year. The keys to our success have been securing long-term contracts to ensure stable cash flows and executing with world-class partners," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and CEO of Sempra Generation. "In 2012, we will embark upon the most aggressive development program in Sempra Generation's history with multiple utility-scale wind and solar projects in construction."

Approximately 450 construction workers are currently on-site at Mesquite Solar 1 and installing an average of 4,500 photovoltaic solar panels each day. The 900-acre facility, which would cover 680 football fields, will employ more than 800,000 panels to generate enough electricity for about 50,000 homes at full build-out.

"We set an aggressive goal of safely installing 42 MW of solar by year-end, and our construction team delivered," said William Engelbrecht, vice president of planning at Sempra Generation. "This is a large undertaking and one we could not have reached so quickly without the hard work of our contractors Zachry and Suntech."

Mesquite Solar 1 is the first phase of Sempra Generation's Mesquite Solar Complex, a facility that could grow to 700 MW. Concurrently, the company is constructing a second 150-MW solar plant in Boulder City, Nev. called Copper Mountain Solar 2. The electrical output from that project is also fully contracted for 25 years to PG&E.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Upstream spot price rises, market outlook remains unclear for 2012

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, TrendForce’s green energy research division, there is a division among current spot market price trends – solar cell and module prices have ceased falling and stabilized, while polysilicon and Si wafer prices are showing signs of an uptrend.

As for the contract price trend in 2012, there has been talk of polysilicon and Si wafer price increases, but currently buyers and vendors are not seeing eye to eye on the matter. Related manufacturers indicate the market trend for 2012 is unclear, which does not generally favor price increases. Therefore, EnergyTrend believes it is unlikely that contract price will see an increase in 2012.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

This week’s polysilicon price increased significantly, with highest spot price approaching $28/kg and lowest price at $20/kg. EnergyTrend believes that the wide range is attributable to the gradual increase of high efficiency Si wafer demand, which has pulled polysilicon price up as well.

On the other hand, with clients demanding higher quality, some polysilicon makers are unable to provide clients with products that fulfill their requirements, and can only target the standard market by offering lower prices.

This week’s Si wafer price also saw a slight increase. According to EnergyTrend research, currently downstream solar cell clients are focusing on proprietary high efficiency products. Some top-tier makers are even focusing all product planning for 2012 on high efficiency products.

Furthermore, as some Si wafer manufacturers as unable to increase high efficiency product capacity and the yield rate, high efficiency products and standard products currently have a price gap of approximately $0.2/piece. The high efficiency wafer demand increase is the cause of this week’s slight price increases.

As for contract price, vendors are slightly more straightforward. Currently, a major manufacturer located in Asia has quoted a price of approximately $30/kg for polysilicon price in 2012.

In terms of Si wafers, related vendors indicate that the target average contract price for 2012 will be $1.2/piece. This represents a price gap of 10 - 20 percent between standard and high efficiency products. As for buyers, related vendors indicate that the European market price has not improved, inventory has not yet been cleared, and cost has not been transferred to the client-end. Thus, the overall situation is not conducive to a price increase.

As for this week’s spot prices, polysilicon and Si wafer prices are showing an uptrend, with increases around 1 percent. Lowest polysilicon price remained at $20/kg, while polysilicon ASP increased by 1.77 percent to $24.21/kg.

As for Si wafers, lowest multi-Si wafer price was $0.8/piece – however, vendors indicate this price is for European products that only considered under special circumstances. Lowest mono-Si wafer price remained at $1.48/piece.

This week’s multi-Si wafer ASP was $1.14/piece, an increase of 1.79 percent, mainly due to the price increase of high efficiency products. Mono-Si wafer ASP remained the same at $1.570/piece. Solar cell ASP remained at $0.505/Watt.

However, looking at it in detail, high efficiency products were $0.55-0.65/Watt, while standard product price was $0.49-$0.53/Watt, a price gap of 13-22 percent.

EnergyTrend believes, for Si wafer and solar cell makers currently in the red, successful mass production of high efficiency products will be the key to whether makers gain a competitive edge or not next year – manufacturers unable to produce high efficiency products will face a severe challenge in 2012.

Activ Solar finalizes construction of phase IV of Perovo solar power station

VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Activ Solar GmbH is pleased to announce the completion and commissioning of an additional 20 Megawatt (MW) of the Perovo Solar Power Station in Crimea, Ukraine.

The total installed capacity of the Perovo project, which started construction in July, has reached 80 MW.

Phases I, II, III and IV are expected to produce approximately 106,000 MWh of clean electricity enough to meet the needs of 22,000 households.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 global solar market outlook

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: According to the current development, EnergyTrend, TrendForce's green energy division expects 2012 to be the year for the global solar industry to face an arduous challenge and weed out the weak. The policies will focus on the total installation volume control and decreasing subsidies.

Additionally, policies for the emerging markets have been mapped out, but it will require some time for them to take effect. On the other hand, the spot prices from wafers to modules remain low, and the slim margin has caused most manufacturers to hang by a thread.

Based on EnergyTrend’s estimate, the 2011 global solar installation capacity will reach 19GW, but the overall inventory amount, including semi-finished and finished products, will reach as high as 10GW. Therefore, the market is still severely oversupplied.

EnergyTrend forecasts that demand in the solar market will amount to approximately 19GW for 2012; the stagnant demand is due to the decreasing demand in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, which are caused by the subsidy policies changes in Europe. As for the Asian markets, benefiting from the subsidy policies, China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand will see slight demand surges in 2012.

EnergyTrend expects no rapid growth for the solar market until 2013. On the other hand, despite the hype that the North American and Indian markets have been generating, their outlooks remain uncertain. In regard to the North American market, the Cash Grant program is set to expire at the end of 2011 and the new Federal Tax Credits will fill the vacancy in 2012.

However, EnergyTrend believes that the growth momentum for Federal Tax Credits are able to bring to the market is minimal, which will add uncertainty to the American market in 2012. As for the Indian market, although the National Solar Mission drives up solar demand, the government’s efficiency and financial health together with the enforcement of the Local Content Requirement policy may dampen the bright prospects in the Indian solar market.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Furthermore, the prices of midstream products are now in a severe downtrend, which greatly handicaps the related manufacturers. According to the Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) analysis, the system costs incorporate module costs, BoS (Balance of System) costs and system operating performance.

In terms of module costs, EnergyTrend believes that as the capacity of polysilicon increases, the module costs will revert to a healthy level, although the price downtrend is expected to cease for the time being. As for BoS costs, compared to module costs which reflect the current market conditions, prices of products such as the solar inverters and EPC remain stable. Therefore, the cost adjustment in the future will mainly depend on BoS costs.

Aside from the cost adjustment, the enhancement of system efficiency is another pressing issue for the manufacturers, which results in the increasing demand for high-efficiency products. As for the future of the solar market, EnergyTrend believes that N-type Mono/Mono-Like products and technologies will play an integral role.

EnergyTrend indicates that affected by the changes in prices, market dynamics and technology, 2012 is the year for the forerunners in the global solar industry to secure their leading positions. It means that manufacturers which are not able to attain price or technology competitiveness will be merged or run out of business. Only those who survive the fierce competition can benefit from the rebound of the solar market.

Avancis opens 100 MWp CIS production site

KAHL AM MAIN, GERMANY: Avancis, the leading manufacturer of CIS solar modules, has commenced the production in its second factory at the company headquarters in Torgau, Saxony. The new production site for ultra-modern CIS solar modules has on overall capacity of 100 megawatt peak (MWp) per year.

With the new factory Avancis expands its annual production capacity from currently 20 MWp to 120 MWp in total. On an area of 25,000 m² the company will manufacture more than 800,000 efficient CIS solar modules annually at full production. Avancis had just recently achieved a new efficiency record of 15.8 % in the laboratories with a 30 x 30 cm² CIS solar module.

The SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG (SINGULUS) supplied three selenization machines for this CIS production and already successfully realized the technical acceptance in November 2011.

Hartmut Fischer, CEO of Avancis, comments: "Our new factory is currently state-of-the-art in terms of production in the CIS area: developed and built by our own factory planning team and equipped with the most modern machines of established German engineering companies, we will manufacture the next generation of ultra-modern CIS solar modules here”. In the course of the opening on December 16, 2011 SINGULUS was awarded by Avancis as one of the three best suppliers for on-time delivery of the selenization machines as well as the quick commissioning."

Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, CEO of SINGULUS, adds: “We are pleased to receive the award as a supplier and will certainly also attempt to meet this standard with the delivery of further selenization machines to the FAB 2.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Arista Power reverse stock split to become effective Dec. 27, 2011

ROCHESTER, USA: Arista Power Inc., a manufacturer, designer and integrator of renewable energy generation, management and distribution systems, has filed a Certificate of Amendment to the company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State of the State of New York to effect a 1-for-20 reverse stock split of its common stock that will become effective on December 27, 2011.

The reverse stock split, which was approved by shareholders holding a majority of the shares of the Company's common stock, will reduce the number of shares of the company's outstanding common stock from approximately 226.5 million to approximately 11.3 million.

No fractional shares will be issued in connection with the reverse stock split. Any fractional post-split shares as a result of the reverse stock split will be rounded up to the nearest whole post-split share. The reverse stock split will not affect any shareholder's ownership percentage of the common stock, except to the limited extent that the reverse stock split would result in any fractional shares being rounded up.

The company will have a new CUSIP number of 040414203 starting on December 27, 2011. As part of the reverse stock split, FINRA will append a "D" to the Company's ticker symbol to indicate the completion of the reverse split. After 20 business days following the reverse split, the ticker symbol will revert back to "ASPW."

Friday, December 23, 2011

SunPower announces agreement to acquire Tenesol SA

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tenesol SA, a global solar provider headquartered in La Tour de Salvagny, France.

Tenesol, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Total SA, has operations in 18 countries and solar panel manufacturing facilities in France and South Africa.

Under the terms of the agreement, SunPower will acquire Tenesol from Total for $165.4 million in cash. Concurrently with the closing of the acquisition, Total has agreed to purchase 18.6 million shares of SunPower common stock in a private placement at $8.80 per share, a 50 percent premium to SunPower's December 22, 2011 closing price.

The transaction has been approved by an independent committee of SunPower's board of
directors and is expected to close early in 2012 following the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. SunPower expects the acquisition will positively affect its financial position in 2012. After the sale of Tenesol, Total will own approximately 66 percent of SunPower's common shares.

Tenesol has been designing, engineering, manufacturing, installing and managing solar energy systems for its global customer base since 1983. It is a top-tier solar energy operator in Europe and a leader in the French market for large industrial and commercial photovoltaic rooftop solutions. The company has installed more than 15,000 solar systems worldwide totaling 500 megawatts (MW) dc. With a significant footprint in Europe, and as being a leader in the off-grid emerging market sector, Tenesol recorded revenue of EUR 240 million in 2010 and expects to record revenue of approximately EUR 200 million in 2011. Post acquisition, the combined company will have deployed more than 2,500 MW dc globally.

"Our acquisition of Tenesol is another step toward differentiating ourselves in the competitive solar market, further expanding our downstream presence and benefiting from the strong backing of Total," said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. "We said on day one that the partnership with Total would provide strength to our balance sheet, access to new markets and investment in research and development. In six short months, we have seen these benefits accrue to SunPower."

"Combining the activities of Tenesol with SunPower is a step forward in Total's strategy to become a world player in the promising solar industry," said Philippe Boisseau, president, Total Gas and Power Division. "SunPower brings the world's highest efficiency, highest reliability technology to market with guaranteed performance. Tenesol's well-established channels, manufacturing base and complementary global footprint will help expand SunPower's market reach and accelerate its share gain during market consolidation."

Total and SunPower also reached new agreements that further strengthen SunPower's balance sheet and liquidity position. In addition, Total has agreed to pursue negotiations for several additional agreements with SunPower related to directly investing in SunPower's research and development, developing the first initial, full-scale, commercial concentrator power plant with the SunPower C7 Tracker, and purchasing10 MW of SunPower products for the development of projects worldwide.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. provided a fairness opinion to the independent committee of SunPower's board of directors in connection with the acquisition.

China Sunergy announces shipment of 1.59 MW in solar modules to UK for unique rooftop project

NANJING, CHINA: China Sunergy Co. Ltd, a specialized solar cell and module manufacturer, shipped 1.59 MW in solar panels to Emotion Energy who, in partnership with Edison Energy, installed solar panels for 117 houses in a residential rooftop project in Faifley, Scotland for the Knowes Housing Association Scotland.

This project, which addresses "fuel poverty," is the first of its kind within Scotland. According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change of the UK, households classified as living in "fuel poverty" are those who need to spend more than 10 percent of household income on energy to heat their homes. This PV solar rooftop project will allow 117 Knowes tenants to receive the electricity generated free of charge for 25 years. China Sunergy's customer Emotion Energy along with Edison Energy worked hard to install the project in two weeks' time, prior to a change in feed-in tariffs on December 12, 2011.

Emotion Energy's CEO, William Andrews, commented: "We are very satisfied with China Sunergy's product quality and service, and we hope to co-operate more with them in the UK. We and China Sunergy are both committed to promoting renewable energy and a low carbon footprint in the future for the UK."

Stephen Cai, China Sunergy's CEO, agreed: "The UK is an important market, and we are very pleased to play our part in this very vivid example showing how solar energy can improve people's daily lives and keep them warm during this holiday season. We believe that by leveraging our superior product quality and word-of-mouth marketing by our various customers, China Sunergy can play a role in reducing fuel poverty not just in the UK but across the globe."

Tracking solar energy across the USA

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of Energici Holdings Inc's "Tracking Solar Energy across the USA" report to its offering.

A comprehensive databook on solar energy trends across the USA, Tracking Solar Energy across the USA is updated monthly and available either as an individual report or an annual subscription. This report is packed with detailed analysis, charts, tables and maps incorporating the latest available data on capacity, generation and consumption trends at the national US, individual State and Sector level.

This databook also provides market share information for the top developers and solar farms with a breakdown between concentrated solar and photovoltaic plants. Data coverage is for the latest month, year-to-date and 3 years of history.

In August 2011, a cumulative 1,013 MW of solar energy capacity across the USA generated 285 GWh of electricity. 175 MW of capacity have been added year to date and electricity generation from solar energy sources is 51.35% higher than the same period the previous year. Solar energy now accounts for 0.10 percent of total capacity across the USA and has accounted for 1.30 percent of all added capacity year to date.

This is just a snapshop of generation, consumption and capacity trends for solar energy across the USA. The full report Tracking Solar Energy across the USA contains over 55 pages of detailed tables, charts, maps and analysis and is updated monthly.

Nautilus Solar Energy nets $25 million revolving facility from De Lage Landen

SUMMIT, USA: Nautilus Solar Energy, a leading independent solar power producer, has executed a financing agreement with De Lage Landen to fund a minimum of $25 million of Nautilus Solar Energy installations across key markets in the United States throughout 2012.

The De Lage Landen facility will be used to fund several megawatts of photovoltaic generation in Florida, California and the Northeast. "Nautilus is extremely excited to enter into the facility with De Lage Landen, which will enable the company to accelerate development through the expiration of the 1603 cash grant program," said Laura Stern, president at Nautilus Solar Energy.

Under the Sale-Leaseback structure, Nautilus will develop, construct, finance and operate the photovoltaic facilities at host locations. The power will be sold either to commercial and industrial host customers or to utilities under long-term Power Purchase Agreements.

"We're very pleased to partner with Nautilus Solar Energy and to have the opportunity to help them expand installations throughout the US," said Mark McGovern, GM, Clean Technology for De Lage Landen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solar Trust of America statement on insolvency proceedings of Solar Millennium AG

OAKLAND, USA: Solar Trust of America, a leading integrated solar energy company and developer of the Blythe Solar Power Project, the largest solar facility in the world, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, Solar Millennium AG, the majority owner of the equity of Solar Trust of America, announced the initiation of insolvency proceedings in Germany. These proceedings do not directly impact Solar Trust of America, a Delaware limited liability company.

In May of this year, Solar Trust announced a memorandum of understanding to enter into a joint venture with solarhybrid AG to develop solar projects based on photovoltaic technology in addition to solar thermal technology. This business strategy reflected a response to dynamic solar market conditions. In furtherance of these initiatives, in October of this year solarhybrid announced plans to acquire substantially all of the projects of Solar Trust of America.

Today, solarhybrid announced the approval by its Board of a number of agreements which had been signed on December 1, 2011 among solarhybrid, Solar Trust of America, Solar Millennium and several respective affiliates. These agreements cover the purchase by solarhybrid of projects from Solar Trust of America with a total capacity of 1.75 GW. The agreements are still conditional upon further approvals by involved parties and upon further due diligence expected to be concluded in the first quarter of 2012.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust, said: "The solar power market has changed radically in a short time. Earlier this year, Solar Trust of America made the tough but correct choice to change the technology of its projects from solar thermal to PV. With solarhybrid, we will soon complete that conversion, and proceed with construction of a number of the largest solar power facilities in the world."

T-Solar Group signs up $145m to fund its projects in Peru

MADRID, SPAIN: The T-Solar Group, a major operator in the solar photovoltaic power generation market, is pleased to announce that it has signed three loan agreements for a total of $145m to finance two photovoltaic power plants with an aggregate capacity of 44 MW in Peru.

The two plants will be the first large-scale solar photovoltaic energy projects in Latin America. 113,600 thinfilm amorphous hydrogenated-silicon modules produced by T-Solar’s Orense, Spain factory will be deployed over 206 hectares of land in the Arequipa region in southern Peru. Isolux Cors├ín, T-Solar’s parent company, has been retained as EPC contractor and will carry out construction works.

The two solar plants are expected to produce 80 GWh a year, enough electricity to supply 80,000 people. Project construction will generate over 160 direct jobs amongst the local population. The plants are expected to be connected to the national grid by the second semester of 2012.

The total capital expenditure for the two projects is over $165m. The Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), a US government agency promoting sustainable US investment abroad, will provide up to $131 million in senior debt, partially guaranteed by Assured Guarantee, a US credit insurance company. The Netherlands’ FMO and France’s PROPARCO will lend up to $14.3 million in mezzanine debt. T-Solar will fund the balance through equity.

T-Solar was advised by Astris Finance, a US-based transaction advisory firm specialized in infrastructure and energy in emerging markets.

Latin America is an important target market for T-Solar. Given the region’s high level of solar irraditaion and in the context of an increasing focus on energy transition and renewable energy, T-Solar expects the continent’s strongest economies to provide interesting oportunities in the photovoltaic sector in the next five years.

Eastern Interconnection Grid Planning completes first phase of study

RENSSELAER, USA: The Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) has completed the first phase of study of “resource expansion futures” defined by stakeholders as part of an electric system transmission planning effort funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

“The EIPC has reached a major milestone in completing the macroeconomic analyses of stakeholder-defined resource futures in Phase 1 of the project and in finalizing a comprehensive report on this work. The stakeholders also have defined three scenarios to be studied from a transmission perspective in Phase 2 of the project,” said Stephen G. Whitley, president and CEO of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and chair of the EIPC Executive Committee.

“We are encouraged by the collaborative approach taken by the stakeholders and state representatives who form the Stakeholder Steering Committee charged with providing input and strategic guidance to the project.”

The three scenarios chosen by stakeholders for further study in Phase 2 are described in the report as:

“Business as Usual” representing a continuation of existing conditions including load growth, existing Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs), and currently proposed environmental regulations.

“National RPS: State and Regional Implementation” represents meeting 30 percent of the nation’s electricity requirements from renewable resources by 2030. This would be achieved by utilizing a regional implementation strategy.

“Combined Federal Climate and Energy Policy” represents a reduction of economy-wide carbon emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels in 2030 and 80 percent in 2050, combined with meeting 30 percent of the nation’s electricity requirements from renewable resources by 2030 and significant deployment of energy efficiency measures, demand response, distributed generation, smart grid and other low-carbon technologies. This would be achieved by utilizing a nation-wide/eastern interconnection-wide implementation strategy.

New discovery could ignite solar boom by cheaply doubling panel efficiency

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, USA: Onyx Service & Solutions Inc. is applauding news released from the University of Texas at Austin stating that one of its chemists has discovered a way that may allow solar panel efficiency to be doubled, possibly reaching as high as 66 percent. Such a development is capable of causing a positive “sea-change” in the solar power industry.

At the heart of current solar panel functionality, the panel absorbs photons from the sun. Photons are then converted into electrons. An issue with regular photovoltaic panels is that much of the energy delivered by sunlight results in the conversion of “hot” electrons, which are too high-energy to be converted to electricity in silicon and are instead lost as heat. University of Texas Chemistry professor Xiaoyang Zhu and his team discovered that an organic plastic semiconductor could double the number of electrons harvested out of one photon of sunlight.

“At current, approximately 31 percent insolation-to-electricity efficiency of a silicon solar cell is considered to be the maximum in the solar industry,” stated ONYX President Malcolm Burleson. “Being able to cheaply double the efficiency and even being able to reach 66 percent efficiency could potentially erase the barriers of competing with cheap fossil fuels very quickly.”

Professor Zhu’s process involves absorbing the photon of sunlight in Pentacene (a form of plastic) to produce a dark quantum “shadow state” from which two electrons can be retrieved, instead of just one.

ONYX management is closely following this new development and the timing of when this new technology could be available in the marketplace. The company’s unique business model of concentrating on competing in energy markets that could yield higher margins and avoiding reliance on subsidies and government loans appears to have given ONYX an edge in the current shakeout.

“It is apparent that the solar companies with weaker business models will struggle, possibly lessening the field of competition for ONYX in the future,” said Burleson. “Having access to economical 66 percent efficiency panels after the industry shakeout could potentially be extremely lucrative for a Company positioned like ONYX.”

ONYX is currently developing the construction of multiple solar power projects in Honduras - one as large as 22 megawatts, as well as developing solar projects in Panama and solar product distribution arrangements in Peru and Columbia.

Solar industry faces months of 'paralysis' unless Govt. gets house in order

UK: The embattled solar industry faces months of “paralysis” unless the Government gets its act together quickly, according to a leading renewable energy company.

The double whammy of the High Court ruling that the reduction in Feed-in-Tariffs was “legally flawed” together with a scathing Parliamentary report, which labelled the process “clumsy” has further rocked one of the brightest sectors in the UK economy. The Government now faces having to go back to the drawing board in order to put in place a new consultation process to find a feed-in-tariff rate for domestic solar PV schemes more acceptable to the industry.

David Hunt, director with Eco Environments, said: “The combination of the High Court ruling and the Parliamentary report is hugely embarrassing for the Government, but nothing compared to the potential fall-out for an already embattled renewable energy industry.

“How can our industry sell with confidence to potential customers when we have total uncertainty over the future feed-in-tariff rates? Unless the Government gets its house in order very quickly, the solar industry faces months of paralysis. How can any businesses in this sector plan for the short-term, let alone the long-term when there continues to be such a dark cloud hovering over us?

“The ruling together with the scathing Parliamentary report holes beneath the waterline any claims that the Coalition Government is a friend of business or the environment.”

The report by two powerful select committees released today savages Ministers over the clumsy handling of the reduction in feed-in-tariffs for domestic solar PV schemes (from 43.3/kWh to 21p/kWh).

But it also goes further in stating that the plan from April next year to insist that all homes must achieve a C-rated energy efficiency standard in order to qualify for the full feed-in-tariff subsidies could have a “fatal impact” on the solar industry.

Nine in 10 homes do not currently meet this rating and bringing homes up to the required standard would cost between £5,500 and £12,000 according to industry experts – an investment well beyond the majority of people.

Hunt added: “While companies such as Eco Environments welcome the High Court ruling and the select committees’ damning report, these findings have caused a dangerous period of uncertainty which the Government must move swiftly to halt.

“We have never advocated holding the feed-in-tariff rate at 43.3/kWh and a return to this level will simply give the cowboy operators in our industry one last hurrah.
“Instead the Government must move quickly to consult and agree a workable and sustainable new subsidy level while at the same time removing the requirement that every home must achieve the C-rating for energy efficiency in order to qualify for the maximum feed-in-tariff level going forward.”

Polysilicon contract price to increase, top tier manufacturers’ stance decisive

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend research, the current spot market price has ceased falling and stabilized – some products have even seen a price increase. In terms of January 2012 contract price, some upstream suppliers are planning for a slight increase.

However, negotiations are still underway, and EnergyTrend believes that the polysilicon contract price trend in 2012 will depend on the stance of downstream makers – wafer manufacturers in particular.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

This week’s wafer prices stayed flat. As for the market trend, high efficiency products and standard products currently show a price gap of around 10-20 percent. As the market proportion of high efficiency products continues to increase, spot price will be affected significantly. Additionally, most manufacturers have already cleared their inventories and thus have no desire to lower price further. As a result, this week’s prices remained stable, with slight signs of recovery.

Moreover, according to EnergyTrend, most downstream makers are relatively optimistic towards the market trend in 2011, believing the decreased demand in European markets will be limited while Chinese and Japanese markets will see obvious growth and mid-to-small manufacturers’ temporary production shutdown, all of which the industry believes will help stabilize polysilicon price.

In addition, China has proposed an appropriate policy to support the development of the polysilicon industry. Therefore, EnergyTrendd believes that Chinese government is ready to intervene with the market and companies lacking economies of scale and competitive advantages will likely be forced into mergers and acquisitions or driven out of business. With currently many western manufacturers temporarily shutting down part of capacity to alleviate pressure from decreasing polysilicon price, upstream manufacturers are already planning to increase contract price in 2012.

The Intersolar India exhibition that came to a conclusion last week without much of encouraging news. The market has seen prices lower than US$0.45/Watt for solar cell products from Indian manufacturers, but their quality and conversion efficiency need further confirmation. Although the quoted prices have not currently affected mainstream market price, India has enormous market potential and government policies to support the development of the solar cell and module industry. EnergyTrend believes that in the future Indian makers’ influence on mainstream spot and contract price is sure to gradually increase.

As for this week’s spot prices, polysilicon, Si wafer, and solar cell price all remain on a downtrend, but the decline has slowed. Lowest polysilicon price remained at $20/kg, while polysilicon ASP fell by 0.79 percent to $23.79/kg. As for Si wafers, lowest multi-Si wafer price was US$1.0/piece, while lowest mono-Si wafer price was $1.48/piece. This week’s multi-Si wafer ASP was $1.12/piece, an increase of 0.09 percent, and mono-Si wafer ASP remained the same at $1.570/piece.

Affected by the India market, this week’s solar cell price decreased further, with a low of $0.43/Watt and ASP at $0.505/Watt, a 1.17 percent decrease. This week’s module and thin film price remained the same.

Business as usual at Tata BP Solar

BANGALORE, INDIA: In the wake of reports that ‘BP Deems Solar Unprofitable, Exiting Business After 40 Years’, Tata BP Solar released its official statement as follows:

"Tata BP Solar is not impacted by the decision of BP to gradually exit solar business and that it's Business As Usual (BAU)," said, K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar.

Tata BP Solar, the pioneer and market leader in the Indian solar industry, is a joint venture of BP Solar and Tata Power and has a solid track record of managing safety, growth and performance since its start in 1989. The company manufactures solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, solar modules, products and systems at its world class plants in Bangalore as well as delivers turnkey solar solutions for end customers.

The company has touched the lives of more than 14 million people through solar power applications such as village lighting, water pumping as well as for businesses such as telecommunications, railways, banks, defence establishments etc. Tata BP Solar has pioneered the grid-connect solar photovoltaic systems in India. Tata BP Solar has an all India network of 8 regional offices and 150 dealers and service centres. It regularly exports products and solutions.

Stion announces $130 million financing led by Korean investors

SAN JOSE, USA: Stion, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency thin-film solar modules, announced a $130 million equity investment led by AVACO and Korean private equity funds. Existing investors Khosla Ventures, Taiwan Semiconductor (through VentureTech Alliance), Lightspeed Venture Partners, Braemar Energy Ventures, and General Catalyst Partners all participated in the round.

Stion is continuing the planned expansion of its US manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg, MS. Stion will establish a subsidiary in Korea (Stion Korea) to build a thin-film module factory to help serve the Asian and European markets. Stion will make a $35M initial investment into Stion Korea.

“This investment and partnership represents an exceptional opportunity for Stion,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s president and CEO. “Solar has always been a global business and this investment enables Stion to address market demand in Asia and beyond. We have added world-class investors as well as a strategic partner with deep technical expertise.”

"I congratulate Stion officials on this latest round of investment," said Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. "Stion opened its first commercial-scale manufacturing plant in Hattiesburg this fall, and I am proud that the innovative company's high-efficiency, thin-film solar panels are now being produced in Mississippi and selling like hotcakes. I wish Stion continued success as it ramps up to full production in Hattiesburg and continues to sell all it can produce."

The transaction includes a strategic partnership with AVACO, a leading provider of thin-film processing equipment. The two parties will collaborate to develop next generation thin-film production equipment, focusing on lowering costs, improving tool productivity and increasing module efficiency.

“We are very excited to combine our advanced equipment technology with Stion’s innovative thin-film PV module manufacturing expertise,” said Jae-Gon Wee, chairman of AVACO. “The strategic partnership between AVACO and Stion will accelerate each company’s technology roadmap, thus enabling much faster growth for both parties.”

Stion is producing high-efficiency, thin-film solar modules using a simple, low-cost monolithically integrated circuit design. Stion’s module has a convenient form factor (65 cm x 165 cm) and is specifically designed for use in all major market segments. Stion recently produced the world’s most efficient monolithic thin-film circuit at production scale, which was verified at 14.1% efficiency by the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WMECo celebrates completion of largest solar facility in New England

SPRINGFIELD, USA: Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo) celebrated the completion of its second large-scale solar energy facility in the Indian Orchard section of Springfield. The facility features 8,200 solar panels and produces 2.3 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

WMECo officials joined local and state officials in celebrating the transformation of the former foundry site into a clean, renewable energy facility. The Indian Orchard facility joins WMECo's Silver Lake Solar facility in Pittsfield as one of the largest in the Northeast region and is the largest in New England.

"WMECo continues to demonstrate that large-scale solar can be developed and delivered in a cost-effective manner for our customers," said Peter J. Clarke WMECo president and COO. "These projects represent significant progress toward meeting the Commonwealth's renewable energy goals and diversifying the region's energy supply with non-carbon-emitting fossil fuels."

"I'm very pleased to be here with Peter Clarke and other WMECo officials today to make this great announcement," stated Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. "This continues to build on my Administration's vision for green economic development. Seven months ago we were standing on a remediated brownfield site. Today, this site is now a tax-generating property and is home to the largest renewable energy facility in New England. I appreciate WMECo's continued collaboration with the City of Springfield," added Mayor Sarno.

The project brought nearly $12 million of new construction to the region and is will contribute $400,000 of annual property tax revenue to the City of Springfield. Springfield is one of the two Gateway Communities in WMECo's service territory and is home to approximately 65,000 WMECo customers.

"Investments in renewable energy cut long-term energy costs, create local jobs and bring us closer to meeting our statewide clean energy goals," said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary, Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "We have 67 megawatts of solar energy installed statewide—equal to the amount of electricity used by 10,600 households annually—and this project builds on this accomplishment by keeping this economic opportunity here in the Commonwealth."

The Commonwealth has a goal to install 250 MW of solar generation by 2017. Under the landmark Green Communities Act (GCA), each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

Zep Solar sues Westinghouse Solar, Light Way, others for patent infringement

SAN RAFAEL, USA: Zep Solar Inc., developers of the first PV module-integrated installation platform, sued Westinghouse Solar Inc., Light Way Solar and three other parties for infringement of a Zep Solar patent (US #7,592,537), which covers many of Zep Solar's innovative and highly successful products.

Zep Solar is petitioning the US District Court for the Northern District of California to award enhanced damages for willful infringement and issue preliminary and permanent injunctions barring Westinghouse and the other defendants from infringing through the licensing, manufacturing, importation, offering for sale, sale, or use of Westinghouse's PV modules and installation hardware, including the Westinghouse Solar Power Systems AC-230/235 product family, Andalay Groove components and others.

Mike Miskovsky, CEO of Zep Solar, issued the following statement regarding the suit: "Westinghouse's new products blatantly infringe our patent rights. It appears that the company's difficulties in the market have led it to copy our innovations in an attempt to become more competitive. Our licensees have invested in the Zep Compatible platform and it is our obligation to protect that investment and the value that it brings to the solar industry."

Key statements from the complaint:
"The AC 230/235 and Andalay Groove products infringe Zep Solar's '537 patent, which...pre-dates all of [Westinghouse's] patents and products...[and] covers the key concepts and enabling features of an interlocking photovoltaic ("PV") installation system."

"Prior to the [Solar Power International 2011] trade show, [Westinghouse] announced it would be offering for sale a product called the "Andalay Groove," a blatant copy of [Zep Solar's] signature "Interlock" product. This launch was accompanied by a marketing campaign, which featured unauthorized use of the names and logos of major Zep Solar licensees, along with unverified claims of compatibility with the Zep Compatible platform. These Zep Solar licensees included Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, Yingli Solar, Sharp Solar, UpSolar, CentroSolar, and ET Solar."

"[Westinghouse's] business appears to be failing. It has suffered through consecutive years of losses, multiple NASDAQ delisting notices, a steadily declining share price, and limited market penetration. Recognizing that its own products are market failures, [Westinghouse] has now resorted to...blatantly producing and selling copycat, infringing products...attempting to free-ride on Zep Solar's market successes."

This suit additionally names certain Westinghouse business partners who assist the company in bringing its various infringing products to market:
* Light Way Green New Energy Company of Heibei, China (and its US subsidiary, Brightway Global LLC), which manufactures Westinghouse products prior to their importation to the United States;

* Morrison Supply Co. of Fort Worth, TX, which distributes Westinghouse Solar products;

* Sky Solar Solutions LLC of Collegeville, PA, which markets, sells, and installs Westinghouse Solar systems; and

* Alternative Power & Electric of Saratoga, CA, which markets, sells, and installs Westinghouse Solar systems.

Solar Energy World reaps benefits of booming solar industry

ELKRIDGE, USA: Recent economic uncertainty has done little to quell the growth of solar energy, according to Maryland-based Solar Energy World, the region's leading installer of commercial and residential solar power systems and solar hot water systems. The company rode the rising tide of the solar energy industry, more than doubling the size of its revenues over last year and adding more than 40 jobs to the local economy.

"More and more consumers are recognizing that solar panel systems can put money directly into their pockets," says CEO Tope Lala. "We are excited to show the residents and businesses of Maryland and the mid-Atlantic the many benefits, and affordability, of solar energy."

Solar Energy World has installed more than 300 solar electric and solar hot water systems in 2011, more than double what was installed in 2010. Going into 2012, the company is seeking to double that figure again.

While official statistics for the solar energy industry are not yet compiled for 2011, initial reports from 1Q and 2Q 11 are more than positive. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that the solar industry is the fastest-growing industry in America and in 2Q 11, the U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) market installed 314 MW, 69 percent more than the same period last year and 17 percent more than 1Q 11.

Consumers have benefited from advancements in solar energy technology, specifically with photovoltaic cells. Improvement to photovoltaic cells, the primary tool for converting solar into usable energy, have increased in efficiency and lowered the cost, making solar energy systems more attractive and affordable to the average homeowner.

Canadian Solar and TransCanada announce sales agreement for 86MW solar PV project portfolio

ONTARIO, CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc., one of the world's largest solar companies, announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. (CSSI), has entered into a sales agreement with TransCanada Corporation (TSX, NYSE: TRP) (TransCanada), whereby TransCanada will acquire from Canadian Solar a 86 megawatts (MW) AC solar project portfolio for approximately $470 million Canadian dollars.

Under the agreement, CSSI will provide TransCanada with 9 fully-operational and commissioned utility-scale solar projects across the Province of Ontario which are expected to come into service between late 2012 and mid-2013. These projects are all contracted assets under Ontario's Feed-In Tariff Program.

In addition to securing construction finance, CSSI will provide turnkey engineering, procurement and construction services as well as being the supplier of major components to the projects. All solar PV modules used in the portfolio will be manufactured at Canadian Solar's manufacturing facility in Guelph, Ontario.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc., said: "This agreement with TransCanada is a true achievement for the solar industry in Canada, and an important milestone for Canadian Solar as we continue to expand our total solutions business to promote the expansion of solar power worldwide.

"We are proud of our association with TransCanada, one of North America's strongest and most successful energy infrastructure companies, which have chosen to partner with us for their entry into the Solar PV space. We look forward to a successful cooperation with TransCanada."

NREL licenses technology to increase solar cell efficiency

USA: The US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced that Natcore Technology Inc. has been granted a patent license agreement to develop a line of black silicon products.

Natcore and NREL also will enter a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop commercial prototypes based on NREL’s black silicon inventions and patents.

“This technology will play and important role in moving forward the availability of solar technologies,” NREL VP for Commercialization & Technology Transfer, William Farris, said. “It is one more step to help bolster the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.”

The Black Silicon Nanocatalytic Wet-Chemical Etch emerged from work by NREL photovoltaic researchers that demonstrated that black silicon solar cells, which have been chemically etched to appear black, better absorb the sun’s energy. The inexpensive, one-step method reduces light reflection from silicon wafers to less than 2 percent, and promises to reduce manufacturing production cost and capital expense.

Any photons reflected from the surface of a solar cell are wasted. To reduce reflected sunlight and increase cell efficiency, NREL scientists invented the antireflection process that turns silicon wafers black so they absorb 98 percent of solar radiation. Today’s solar cells absorb about 95 percent of the sun’s radiation.

The much-lower-cost recipe is still a few tenths of a percent less efficient than the best of the conventional cells. However, the black silicon prevents reflection of low-angle morning and afternoon sunlight far better, which means a jump in photovoltaic efficiency of at least 1 percentage point can be achieved.

NREL estimates that its method can reduce processing costs by 4 to 8 percent, resulting in overall savings in solar cell manufacturing of 1 to 3 percent, making black silicon particularly appealing.

The Black Silicon Nanocatalytic Wet-Chemical Etch was honored with a 2010 R&D 100 Award. The R&D 100 award is considered in the research and development community to be “the Oscars of Innovation.”

Dr. Farooq Abdullah calls for expanding roof top solar power systems

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr.Farooq Abdullah inaugurated a national consultation in New Delhi on net metering in grid solar projects. The consultation has been organized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in association with GIZ, Germany.

Senior officers of Central Ministries, Chairmen and Secretaries of State Regulatory Commissions, State Power Departments and distribution companies are participating in the meeting.

Dr. Abdullah asked the officials to prepare an action plan for introducing net metering in commercial and residential roof top solar projects, so that use of solar power can be expanded substantially in the country. He said that with solar power cost coming down from Rs. 18/- per unit in 2010 to Rs. 8/- per unit in 2012, it should be possible to allow consumers feed extra power to the grid. He called upon the regulators and distribution companies to come out with practical solution to facilitate the process.

EnVerv raises $12 million round of financing

SAN JOSE, USA: EnVerv Inc., an innovative fabless semiconductor company developing high performance Communications System on Chip (SoC) solutions for the Smart Grid market announced the closing of $12 million Series B round of funding led by Benchmark Capital. Previous investors, NEA and Walden International participated in the round also.

“Mission critical connectivity is the cornerstone of building reliable smart grids worldwide and EnVerv’s SoC products provide the best solution for smart grid communications,” said Bruce Dunlevie, general partner, Benchmark Capital. “Successful delivery on an array of high performance Power Line Communications (PLC) SoCs in just over a year is a testament to EnVerv’s laser focused execution and innovative product design. At Benchmark, we look forward to working with EnVerv’s management to help continue with this success.”

EnVerv is among a handful of companies working on highly integrated multi-standard (such as G3-PLC, PRIME, S-FSK and EnVerv’s TurboPLC) narrowband PLC modems. EnVerv’s PLC enable applications in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Solar Inverters, Active Lighting, Industrial Control & Remote Monitoring markets where emphasis on mission critical communications and reliable data transmission across power line networks are required.

“We are very pleased to see Benchmark join our current investors in support of our vision to make EnVerv the leading provider of energy management solutions in the market,” said Shahin Hedayat, CEO, EnVerv. “This investment will enable us to capitalize on our technical achievements to scale customer support and volume production of our high performance multimode PLC chips.”

EnVerv’s PLC technology has been field trialed worldwide and has received customer acceptance in all major markets.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

JA Solar achieves 18.5 percent conversion efficiency for Maple solar cell technology in large volume production

SHANGHAI, USA: JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd announced that its high efficiency Maple solar cells have reached conversion efficiency levels of 18.5 percent in large volume production. The average conversion efficiency recorded for Maple cells in mass production is 18 percent, which is a new record for JA Solar and substantially higher than the industry standard average conversion efficiency for multi-crystalline solar cells of approximately 16.8 percent.

Maple technology features silicon crystals that are broader, flatter and have fewer grain boundaries than traditional multi-crystalline silicon. Utilizing an innovative process technology, JA Solar has been able to achieve conversion efficiency rates with Maple cells that are similar to those of mono-crystalline solar cells while maintaining the cost advantage of multi-crystalline processing technology.

Maple cells can be applied in a variety of form factors that maximize power output and reduce installation costs. JA Solar now offers Maple modules in a 60-cell form factor with power output of 245W to 250W. Through further optimization, the Company expects to increase the power output of its Maple modules to the range of 255W to 260W in the first half of 2012, and to make these modules available to customers in large volume commercial quantities.

At the third annual Energy Enterprises Summit Forum in late November organized by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), JA Solar's Maple technology breakthrough was awarded the Annual Prize for Advances in Energy Technology. JA Solar is the first company in the photovoltaic industry to receive this award.

"We are very excited to reach this major milestone in the development of our high-efficiency Maple solar cell technology," said Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar. "This success underlines JA Solar's position as an industry leader in solar cell technology innovation. Maple technology addresses the market's desire for cost effective higher power products at lower installation cost. It offers unrivaled value for customers looking to maximize power output with a cost-effective solution, and is ideally suited to space constrained application such as commercial rooftops.

"Customers have responded positively to Maple technology and JA Solar's new range of high-power modules. By continuing to offer best-in-class technology, superior product performance, and world-class customer service, we are confident that JA Solar offers the best value to our network of partners and customers."

CASE calls on SolarWorld to withdraw ITC petition

WASHINGTON, USA: Pointing to damage to America’s burgeoning solar industry that high tariffs on solar cells and panels imported from China could cause, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) has urged SolarWorld, a German solar cell manufacturer, to withdraw its harmful petition to the International Trade Commission (ITC) and Department of Commerce.

In a letter to Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., CASE president, Jigar Shah stated: “The severe tariffs SolarWorld seeks would have a very damaging effect on the solar industry in the United States and would fundamentally undermine many years of effort by all of us who care about the future of solar power. In simple dollar terms, your petition threatens the planned installation of solar electric power systems in the amount of $11 billion in 2012 and the potential installation of $60 billion currently in the total pipeline.”

Shah also cited the strain the petition could place on US-China trade relations. “The imposition of severe tariffs could ignite a solar trade war that would result in retaliatory tariffs against US solar exports to China.

"In fact, the Chinese have begun just such an investigation.Last year alone, the US had well over $1.5 billion in solar exports to China, with net exports to China of some $400 million,” he explained. “This could devastate the many American-owned companies exporting solar products to China and cause thousands more American jobs to be lost.” Shah also noted that China has just imposed tariffs on certain imports of automobiles manufactured in the United States.

CASE is united in its commitment to support the continued growth and development of the solar industry in America. The coalition’s 145 member companies employ over 14,000 solar professionals across every major region and in more than two dozen states, including Arizona,California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, among others.

“CASE’s membership represents 97-98 percent of America’s solar industry where 52 percent of all the jobs are in solar panel installation, jobs that are right here at home. At the same time SolarWorld represents a sector that creates only 2-3 percent of our solar industry jobs,” Shah stated.

Solar PV companies shifting focus to profitability in 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Financial challenges are forcing solar photovoltaic (PV) companies to shift focus from seeking market share to instead prioritizing a return to profitability, finds NPD Solarbuzz’s latest Solarbuzz Quarterly report issued today. Global demand is projected to grow 6 percent in 2012, so market declines in Europe will be offset by 43 percent growth outside that region. Therefore, solar companies will face the challenge of re-building margins during a period of increasing diversity in end solar market mix.

In 2012, the top priority of PV companies will be to improve their financial position after losses across the industry in 2011 that were caused by over-production, excess inventories, and collapsing market prices. Cell manufacturers are poised to hold production flat in 2012, but Q1’12 is still forecast to drop 5% Q/Q as manufacturers manage inventory during seasonal weakness.

As a first step on this road, manufacturers have cut 4.9 GW from their previous goal of 28.2 GW of module shipments in 2011. With the industry now projected to benefit from a modest 12 percent increase in 2011 demand over previous estimates, global module inventories will be reduced to 7.3 GW by year-end, down from NPD Solarbuzz’s previous forecast of 8.6 GW.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

Faster than expected growth in China and the United Kingdom helped to raise the latest 2011 global PV market forecast to 23.6 GW, up 22 percent Y/Y. The Chinese market development comes at an opportune time for domestic manufacturers, as the environment in the US market has become more uncertain since SolarWorld filed anti-dumping charges with the US Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission.

Downstream companies, particularly in Europe, acted aggressively in Q3’11 to cut inventories, making a reduction of 19 inventory days, with a further 45-day drop projected by the end of Q4’11. However, the dramatic 17 percent reduction in module prices in Q3’11 contributed to inventory write-offs of over $300 million in the quarter.

Gross margins for vertically-integrated Chinese tier 1 cell and module manufacturers decreased two percentage points Q/Q in Q3’11, while Western and Japanese manufacturers dealt with negative margins for the second quarter in a row. Margins for Chinese tier 2 and other Asian producers tracked by NPD Solarbuzz are also negative now. The 15 percent cut in German tariffs on January 1, 2012 all but ensures further reductions in module prices in the seasonally weak first quarter. Polysilicon prices that had held up until Q3’11 have now undergone a dramatic reduction as spot prices have taken their toll on contract pricing.

“While market share growth was the predominant corporate strategy at the beginning of the year, companies must now improve their financial viability, or they risk not being able to participate in the strong growth expected by grid parity now being established in key markets,” said Craig Stevens, president of NPD Solarbuzz.

Fidelis signs additional $77 million contract to supply 42MW capacity solar modules

LOS ANGELES, USA: Fidelis Energy Inc. has entered into a long-term solar module supply agreement with Lagofrio Energy Solutions (LES), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TinSol Energy (pty) Ltd (TSEL), Johannesburg, South Africa.

Under the terms of the contract, Fidelis Energy will supply 42 megawatts (MW) of PV Solar modules to TSEL for installation in the development and build-out of numerous solar park locations across the African continent. Fidelis has completed shipments of 76 megawatts (MW) of solar modules to date, leaving a balance of 131 megawatts (MW) yet to complete in TSEL's long-term supply agreement of 207 megawatts (MW) of PV Solar modules for a total product value of $475 million.

The Company expects to begin shipments against this new contract during the second quarter of 2012. The solar modules will ship from the Fidelis manufacturing facility in southern China.

Wes L. Volker, MD of TSEL, said: "We are extremely satisfied that we have selected Fidelis as our partner to supply our large solar projects in Africa, they have diligently delivered above and beyond of our expectations. This fourth contract is another step toward a long and prosperous relationship with Fidelis and their partners as we develop and expand our solar energy operations in Africa."

Over the past year, Fidelis management has spent significant time overseas procuring its solar sector business relationships and building the necessary foundation for future expansion. It has been focused on the development of production facilities and general operations abroad.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Xunlight supplies 208 KW of solar modules for two European rooftop projects

TOLEDO, USA: Xunlight Corp., an industry leader in the design, development and manufacture of flexible and lightweight thin-film silicon solar modules, has sold 208 KW of its powerful solar panels through European channel partners for two rooftop installations in Europe.

Xunlight's modules will be installed on the rooftops of facilities located in Pezinok, Slovakia and Spilimbergo, Italy. Xunlight has supplied 360 of its lightweight, flexible XR36 291W photovoltaic modules for each of these 104 KW installations. These modules were assembled in Xunlight's Kunshan, China facility using triple-junction thin film solar cells manufactured in the United States in its 25 MW roll-to-roll solar cell production line located in Toledo, Ohio.

"We are pleased that Xunlight modules have been selected for these projects," said Dr. Xunming Deng, Xunlight president and CEO. "We are seeing increasing demand for our products. Since Xunlight modules can be easily integrated into roofing systems and classified as innovative, projects utilizing Xunlight modules will qualify for the highest available subsidies intended to incentivize building-integrated photovoltaics in many markets."

Xunlight's lightweight photovoltaic modules, just 2.6 kilograms per square meter, are ideal for installation on commercial and industrial rooftops, especially those with low load bearing capabilities. They can be quickly adhered directly to roofing membranes without penetration. They require no mounting frames and produce virtually no additional wind loads.

Xunlight recently completed a 220 KW demonstration project utilizing its flexible solar panels in partnership with Trina Solar.

Vision document for power generation

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has prepared in February 2011 a Strategic Plan for accelerated development of renewable energy sources for various applications including power generation, covering the period up to 2022.

The Strategic Plan covers grid-interactive power generation from the main renewable energy sources - solar, wind, biomass and small hydro power, besides off-grid/ decentralised renewable energy applications/ programmes such as biogas, remote village electrification, biomass gasifiers, solar photovoltaic/thermal systems, micro-hydel, waste-to-energy, etc. It, inter-alia, makes an assessment of the existing situation and external factors impacting growth, strengths and weaknesses of the sector and potential strategies to address the same.

The Strategic Plan document has laid down specific goals and targets for the six years period 2011-17 and long-term aspirational goals for the 10-year period up to 2022 for various renewable energy programs/applications, including power generation.

With regard to renewable power generation, the document estimates that about 50,000 MW new capacity would be added during the XII and XIII plan periods leading to total renewable power generation capacity of about 73,000 MW by 2022. This capacity will comprise of 20,000 MW from solar power under the National Solar Mission and the remaining 30,000 MW from other renewable energy sources mainly wind, small hydro and biomass power. The contribution of renewable power by 2022 to the then likely total installed capacity and electricity mix has been estimated to be around 18 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, which could change depending on actual achievements of conventional power capacity.

Various steps have been taken by the Government to increase power generation through renewable energy sources in the future and the same are continuing. These include the following:

* Fiscal and financial incentives such as, capital/interest subsidy/generation based incentive, accelerated depreciation, nil/ concessional excise and customs duties;
* Generation Based Incentives Scheme introduced for wind power and solar power to attract private investment by independent power producers not availing accelerated depreciation benefit;
* Directives under Electricity Act 2003 to all States for fixing a minimum percentage for purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources;
* Preferential tariff for grid interactive renewable power in most potential States following the provisions made under the National Electricity Policy 2005 and National Tariff Policy 2006; Uniform guidelines by CERC for fixation of such preferential tariffs being issued every year.

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was initiated in January 2010 to enable large scale capital investment in solar energy applications; Payment Security Mechanism for Grid Connected Solar Power Projects under the Mission.

This information was given by the Minister of New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

KYOCERA provides solar power generating system for Palau's largest solar project

KYOTO, JAPAN: Kyocera Corp. has supplied a solar power generating system for the Republic of Palau international airport — the 226.8kW solar installation is the largest to be completed on the island nation located roughly 500 miles east of the Philippines.

The design and implementation of the parking lot solar project was a joint collaboration between Kyocera and Wakachiku Construction Co. Ltd, which was realized with funding by the Japanese government's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to help contribute to the country's growth.

The solar modules are installed on the top of shading structures in the parking lot. The solar power generating system, which is the first grid-connected system in the country, is comprised of 1,080 Kyocera 210W solar modules. Due to the high occurrence of typhoons on the island, the backside of the modules have been reinforced with extra support bars for enhanced wind-pressure resistance. The system is expected to produce an annual power output of 250MWh, off-setting roughly 80 tons of CO2 per year.

On November 17, an inauguration ceremony was held with Palau's President Johnson Toribiong and other officials from both Palau and Japan in attendance.

Tata Power ties up financing for 25MW solar project in Mithapur, Gujarat

MUMBAI, INDIA: Tata Power, India's largest private power company, which is developing a 25 MW solar photovoltaic power project at Mithapur, Gujarat, under the state’s Solar Power Policy 2009, through its subsidiary, Tata Power Renewable Energy, announced the completion of the signing of financing agreements.

Tata Power Renewable Energy has successfully tied up the entire debt requirement through a consortium of domestic lenders, namely State Bank of India and Export Import Bank of India with SBI Capital Markets acting as the sole financial advisor and arranger. The signing of financing agreements was completed on December 2, 2011. The company completed pre-disbursement conditions under the financing agreements for availing interim disbursement and received the first loan disbursement on December 8, 2011.

The project of approximately Rs. 365 crore is being funded through a debt-equity mix of 70:30. The project financing comprises equity of Rs. 110 crore and rupee term loans of Rs. 255 crore.

Spread over 100 acres of land, the solar plant will be located along the coast of Gujarat. Crystalline silicon photo-voltaic technology, which is modular, proven, and widely deployed, is the choice of technology for this project. The company has signed a power purchase agreement for the project with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam. This plant is likely to be one of the largest of its kind in the country and will be ready to inject power into the system by end-December 2011.

The company’s strategy emphasises the development of clean energy generation from renewable sources to balance the carbon emissions from fossil fuel-based generation capacity while contributing towards energy security of the country.

Anil Sardana, MD, Tata Power, said: “We would like to thank the Government of Gujarat for the support extended for setting up this solar power project at Mithapur. The signing of the financing agreements is a significant milestone for the project, and we take this opportunity to thank our investors who have once again shown faith in Tata Power. We look forward to participating in many such initiatives in solar power.”

The company has also executed a 3MW solar photovoltaic plant at Mulshi, one of the largest grid-connected solar projects in Maharashtra and had set up its first solar power plant of 100kW, way back in 1996 at Walwhan in Lonavla.

NavSemi bags ISA Technovation award 2011 for innovative energy maximizer Sun Rose charge controllers

BANGALORE, INDIA: NavSemi Energy has been awarded the prestigious ISA Technovation award in the OEM enterprise MNC category. The award has been given in recognition to NavSemi’s pioneering energy maximizer Sun Rose solar charge controllers.

Sun Rose family of products come with some of the most advanced innovations in the Industry within Maximum Power Point Tracking Charge Controllers. These are designed for Energy Maximization on per panel basis with module level communication and battery charging features which enhance power generation even in partial shaded conditions. These Controllers are rugged in design, highly durable and most suitable for power plant applications. With up to 30 percent energy gain, the Sun Rose series are a ground-breaking technology in the solar energy sector.

NavSemi CEO and founder, Babu Jain, said: “The system designed around Sun Rose would not have a single point of failure in your charge controllers, would be easy to scale the system in future and will provide up to date information in real time on harvest and functionality. These provide a cost effective solutions in the solar energy market as it reduces the panel usage by more than 10 percent.”

The Sun Rose controllers come in a wide range from 48VDC to 360VDC. Sun Rose are tested & certified as per international standard of IEC 60098. NavSemi offers up to 10 years warranty on its Sun Rose Series products.

Quantum Solar working device to be submitted for NREL certification in early 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA: Quantum Solar Power Corp. has achieved a milestone in the development of their groundbreaking solar technology. Quantum’s first photovoltaic (PV) prototype suitable for performance characteristics testing will be submitted to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in early 2012 for certification.

Dr. Andras Pattantyus-Abraham and his team of 13 scientists at Quantum’s laboratory in Burnaby, British Columbia have been working for over two years toward a testable prototype of their groundbreaking approach to a next generation solar photovoltaic device. The NGD technology uses a novel approach combining a barrier oxide layer with a patent-pending absorber layer, replacing the traditional semiconductor layer used in crystalline silicon and thin-film photovoltaics.

Quantum’s approach eliminates rare elements used in thin-film PV at a cost that is projected to be significantly less expensive than current PV technology. Dr. Pattantyus-Abraham, CTO of Quantum said: “We think we have discovered an approach to solar PV design that is years ahead of the nearest research. We are optimistic that, once commercialized, we’ll be able to make a significant impact with our device on the role of solar energy as a true replacement to fossil fuel generated electricity.”

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado is a premier independent laboratory that engages in testing the performance of commercial, developmental, and research photovoltaic devices. NREL is one of only two laboratories in the world that has International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 accredited cell calibration. NREL’s role in verifying device performance for the PV industry, will serve as an important next step in Quantum’s research and development program.

Steven Pleging, CEO and president of Quantum, said: “This is a very important step in our product development. With NREL verification of an NGD prototype, we will obtain industry recognized data allowing us to begin our third phase of research and development: developing a commercial product. We believe, our PV device will be a significant achievement in making solar energy competitive with any other source of electrical energy.”

SolarCity and Maui Arts & Cultural Center celebrate installation of one of Maui’s largest solar installations

KAHULUI, HAWAI'I: SolarCity and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) celebrated the installation of a large solar project to provide renewable power on-site at the Center. The 463-kilowatt system, with close to 2,000 panels, is one of the largest to date on Maui.

"We are proud to have this large scale solar installation at the MACC. As a non-profit it is essential to find ways to reduce overhead in order to maintain our ability to provide the maximum products and services delivered to the community. This installation will meaningfully reduce our energy costs, and contribute to a more sustainable environment by significantly reducing our carbon footprint," said MACC president and CEO Art Vento.

SolarCity's photovoltaic installation is a component of the MACC's overall environmental plan. Initiated five years ago, the MACC’s plan targeted reduced energy consumption and upgrades to higher-efficiency equipment, as well as integration of biodegradable products and an integrated recycling plan.

As part of the power purchase agreement, SolarCity installed the system at no cost to MACC, and MACC will pay for the solar power the panels produce at a rate lower than they currently pay for electricity. The project for MACC is one of the first major commercial projects completed by SolarCity in the state of Hawai’i. The construction of the project was completed in partnership with Honolulu Builders, LLC, and is being interconnected to the utility grid by Maui Electric Co. Ltd.

“We’re honored to be able to provide an organization that serves Hawai’i like MACC with a green energy solution and look forward to additional opportunities to spread economical solar powered energy to other non-profits across the state,” said Pete Cooper, SolarCity’s regional director in Hawai’i.“

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vela Solaris presents new Polysun 5.8

WINTERTHUR, SWITZERLAND: Along with the option to import horizon data, the new shading editor also enables Polysun users to take into account the surrounding topography. In addition, the software is now much more user-friendly thanks to the new controller connections visualization feature.

With the new shading editor you will be able to incorporate nearby-shading into your Polysun Designer version immediately. In a matter of seconds, objects are taken into account based on distance and height. The dimensions of the objects added are then reflected on the horizon line, allowing greater precision in site data entry and yield calculation.

In view of the applicable feed-in compensation regulations, Polysun 5.8 enables users to integrate the evaluation of photovoltaic systems by recording electricity consumption as an annual value. The amount of electricity generated by the PV system is calculated on an hourly and monthly basis and the share of it supplied for household use is differentiated from that fed into the grid.

From now on, Polysun Designer users will be able to enjoy the new controller connections visualization feature. This new feature makes it possible to know instantly how a system is controlled; both the location of sensors (in blue) and the controlled element (in red) are shown. Thanks to this new feature, Polysun makes it easier for users to create new schemes and improve control settings. The lines can be also printed out in the results report.

The collector model for selectively-coated, unglazed absorbers has been expanded in collaboration with Energie Solaire. Now energy can also be generated if the collector temperature lies below ambient temperature. The proposed systems efficiently combine heat pumps and solar energy and take advantage of the collector surfaces used under different working conditions and in different ways.

The concentrating collector model has been expanded and integrated with a number of collectors. Newly listed items include Solarbeam, a two-axis parabolic concentrator manufactured by Solartron and NEP PolyTrough 1200, a parabolic trough concentrator. They are ideally suited for use in high temperatures, process heat and heat-driven cooling machines. Both collectors are listed in the Polysun catalogue in accordance with European test standards.

With a total of 86 new schemes, Polysun has expanded its selection of company- and country-specific schemes for the design of solar thermal and heat pump systems. The new catalogues in Polysun 5.8 include 7600 new PV modules, 600 new inverters, 500 new collectors, 22 new Stiebel Eltron heat pumps, 22 water tanks and 16 new Sailer multi-layered storage tanks as well as other components available worldwide.

Government 'strangling' homeowners' efforts to go solar

UK: The Government has been accused of “strangling” homeowners’ attempts to harness renewable energy after it emerged they will have to shell out thousands of pounds in order to qualify for solar panel subsidies.

With the industry still reeling from the decision to cut the Feed-in-Tariffs for domestic Solar PV schemes by more than half, it has also emerged that the majority of homeowners will be forced to spend more than £5,000 making their homes more energy efficient.

Homeowners will be forced to undertake an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and should their property fail to achieve a ‘C’ energy rating – currently almost 9 in 10 homes are not - they will not receive the Government’s higher rate of Feed-in-Tariff subsidies.

Bringing those homes up to the standard required through insulation and heating improvements would cost up to £5,600 according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, although the Renewable Energy Association says the true cost could be nearer £7,000.

David Hunt, a director with leading renewable energy company Eco Environments, said: “A lot of attention has been focussed on the savage slashing of the Feed-in-Tariffs (As of December 12, the tariff for Solar PV schemes up to 4kW was cut from 43.3/kWh to 21p/kWh). However, just as the solar industry is trying to come to terms with the drastic and sudden reduction in FITs, it now faces a second devastating blow.

“The Government may claim that homeowners making the necessary improvements to their homes will ultimately be able to recoup their outlay through the available subsidies, but in the short-term it will seriously affect their return on investment. And only homes meeting the ‘C’ rating will qualify for the 21p rate; those that do not will have to make do with just 9p.

“We believe that rather than forcing homes to come up to the ‘C’ energy rating, it would make far more sense to simply urge homeowners to take all practical measures to make their homes more energy efficient. These are the two options on the table as part of the Government’s consultation period.

“There is a week left in the consultation and a week in which Ministers can pull back from the double whammy they are imposing not only on the solar industry, but also on homeowners in the UK.

“While we recognise that a cut in the FIT subsidies was inevitable, we, like many others, were disturbed by the speed of the implementation and the sham consultation period. The railroading through of the stringent EPC requirement is a further blow to one of the UK’s most exciting and growing sectors.”

The Government’s consultation period ends on December 23rd and from March 31st 2012 homes must reach an EPC ‘C’ energy rating or above in order to qualify for the highest level of FIT.

David Hunt said the double whammy could even be considered a “triple whammy” if you include the decision not to include Solar PV and other forms of microgeneration in the Government’s Green Deal when it comes into effect next year.

While renewable energy technologies including solar panels could be supported through the Green Deal – which will cover the upfront cost of energy saving measures that will then be paid for through a surcharge on energy bills – any scheme would have to meet the so called “golden rule”. The rule states that resulting energy savings must exceed the repayments made on the initial financing package, something which would be virtually impossible given the cost of renewable energy technologies.

Hunt said: “The failure to make microgeneration schemes part of the Green Deal is another missed opportunity by this Government. With each ill-thought out and at times reckless decision, Ministers make a mockery of any claim they might have to green credentials.”

IEEE Standards Association re-affirms commitment to Indian smart grid market

HYDERABAD, INDIA: IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), the standards development body of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, re-affirmed its commitment to the Indian Smart Grid market. The Indian Smart Grid market is slated to be the third largest market worldwide in terms of investment only after the US and China.

The IEEE-SA SIG (Standards Interest Group), a major initiative announced in May this year, with the purpose of increasing India’s participation in the IEEE standards process in key areas such as Smart Grid has made great strides. The organization has been holding Smart Grid workshops and has been participating in large summits and events to increase awareness among key stakeholders and consumers.

IEEE-SA will present a special standards session at IEEE’s annual event IndiCon being held in Hyderabad on 16th and 17th December. IEEE-SA will introduce and explain the global role of the IEEE Standards Association with particular attention on the value of standards from an Indian perspective.

Srikanth Chandrasekaran, chairperson of IEEE-SA India SIG, said: “Smart Grid holds immense relevance and significance for India, and India is among the fastest growing markets worldwide. Smart Grid being a concept with hardware, software and interconnection elements, is complex. Without proper standards the realization of Smart Grid would be difficult. IEEE-SA is investing in creating awareness and bringing multiple stakeholders together to transfer best practices and knowledge from Smart Grid markets and perspectives. This provides a venue for crucial input as IEEE-SA is global, having deep roots in India. IEEE-SA has taken a lead role in the identification and development of standards for the Smart Grid.”

Jennie Steinhagen, Global Strategy Manager of IEEE-SA said: “We are collaborating with technical experts in India to ensure that specific and unique inputs necessary for the Indian market are incorporated into Smart Grid standards. We look forward to collaborating with industry leaders, academia and other standards bodies to create more awareness about Smart Grid and the role of standards through events and workshops.”

IEEE-SA has introduced key Smart Grid standards in India, including IEEE 2030 for interoperability between computing, communications and power and energy standards; IEEE1701 and IEEE 1702 for advanced metering; IEEE 1901 for Broadband over Power Line; and the latest IEEE 1547, the first guide for deployment of micro grids in the country, among others.

KDC Solar closes portfolio financing with US bank

BEDMINSTER, USA: KDC Solar LLC, a developer of large scale behind the meter commercial solar projects headquartered in Bedminster, New Jersey has closed its most recent financing for a portfolio of projects in New Jersey through a wholly owned subsidiary. The financing, provided by a subsidiary of US Bancorp, provides long-term renewable energy tax equity financing for multiple distributed generation, net-metered solar projects, the first two of which total approximately 7 MW.

The first installation in the portfolio - a 3.25 MW rooftop mounted solar system at a warehouse in Cranbury, New Jersey – was completed on November 14th. The second installation – a 3.5 MW rooftop mounted solar system at a warehouse in South Brunswick, New Jersey is expected to be completed in late December or early 2012.

"We are extremely pleased to partner with US Bank on this unique transaction," said Hal Kamine, KDC Solar's CEO. "This addition to our capital structure will allow us to continue to pursue and accelerate our commitment to 'behind-the-meter' solar electric systems for businesses, governments and institutions in New Jersey, which in turn creates or preserves long-term jobs for New Jersey."

Reznick Group, collectively with Reznick Capital Markets (RCM), acted as advisor to KDC Solar. Reznick Group and RCM conducted the financial modeling for all parties to the transaction, provided tax and structuring advice, advised on Section 1603 eligibility and provided appraisals for each of the solar systems.

"As US Bank continues to drive clean-energy growth through investment, we value new partners like KDC Solar, whose experience in developing commercial scale projects ensures a sound relationship," said Adam Altenhofen, assistant VP of Renewable Energy Investments for US Bancorp. "We look forward to additional opportunities with KDC Solar and appreciate Reznick Group's critical role in the partnership."