Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TEP selects AREVA Solar as technology partner for innovative CSP booster project

TUCSON & MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is partnering with AREVA Solar on an innovative concentrated solar power (CSP) addition to TEP's H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station in Tucson.

TEP's Sundt Solar Boost Project will use AREVA Solar's Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar steam generators to produce up to 5 megawatts (MW) of power during peak demand periods without added emissions. Over the course of a year, the system will allow Sundt Unit 4 to produce enough additional power to serve more than 600 Tucson homes.

Producing that same amount of power at the dual-fueled unit would otherwise require burning 46 million cubic feet of natural gas, or 3,600 tons of coal. By offsetting the use of those fuels, the Sundt Solar Boost project avoids the annual production of either 4,600 or 8,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), depending on whether the unit is running on natural gas or coal.

The Sundt Solar Boost Project is part of TEP's plan to expand its solar generating capacity to more than 200 MW by the end of 2014. Its output will help TEP meet or exceed Arizona's Renewable Energy Standard, which requires electric utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until it accounts for 15 percent of their power in 2025.

In addition to helping TEP meet its renewable energy goals cost-effectively, the Sundt Solar Boost Project will allow the company to evaluate the potential integration of CSP additions at other power plants. The project will also further demonstrate AREVA's high-pressure, superheated steam offering.

"AREVA Solar's innovative solar boost technology gives us a cost-effective, environmentally responsible way to expand the output of our largest local power plant without increasing emissions," said Paul Bonavia, chairman and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corp.

Construction of the Sundt Solar Boost is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012, and the project is expected to be operational by early 2013. The facility will be built on TEP property adjacent to the Sundt plant, which is located east of South Alvernon Way between East Irvington Road and Interstate 10. The project is expected to create 50 jobs during peak construction.

"TEP is a national leader in solar energy, and we are pleased that they've selected our US-designed and manufactured CLFR technology for this addition to their clean energy portfolio," said Bill Gallo, CEO of AREVA Solar. "Solar booster projects like this are gaining momentum in the United States and around the world as a way to leverage existing power infrastructure to provide needed energy with no new emissions. AREVA Solar's booster installation aims to do just that."

In addition to augmenting coal-fired power plants, AREVA's solar steam generators can also easily integrate with natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plants and can be used in standalone solar thermal and hybrid facilities, as well as industrial process steam applications. AREVA recently broke ground on a 44 MW solar booster project for a coal-fired power station in Australia and currently has more than 540 MW of CSP projects in operation, under construction or in advanced development.

Semprius sets world record for solar module efficiency

DURHAM, USA: Semprius Inc., an innovator in high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, has set a new world record for photovoltaic module efficiency, reaching 33.9 percent (active area).

The module was tested indoors at Standard Test Conditions (850 W/m2, 25°C cell temperature, and a spectrum matched to AM1.5D) by the Instituto de Energía Solar at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (IES-UPM). This efficiency result, certified by the IES-UPM and corroborated by outdoor measurements made at the Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems (ISFOC) in Puertollano, Spain, significantly exceeds the previous claim of 32 percent.

“This is a significant milestone for Semprius and the entire PV industry,” said Scott Burroughs, VP of Technology at Semprius. “For the first time, we have been able to convert more than one-third of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. This demonstrates how concentrated PV can leverage rapidly increasing efficiencies to continue driving down the cost of solar generated electricity.”

Semprius delivers a unique HCPV module design that begins with its proprietary micro-transfer printing process. This process enables the company to fabricate the world’s smallest solar cell – approximately the size of a pencil point – to create solar modules with unmatched efficiency and performance.

“This is the culmination of our emphasis on bringing smart design to solar,” said Joe Carr, CEO of Semprius. “We looked carefully at each component of our module – cell, optics, enclosure and the manufacturing process – to develop a competitive solution that embodies high efficiency, performance and reliability. Important to our customers is the fact that the module chosen for this third-party evaluation is part of the normal production distribution that will be commercially available later this year.”

After developing its module with the support of the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Semprius is now ramping up global deployment of demonstration systems while completing construction of a pilot plant in Henderson, North Carolina. Commercial production at the plant will begin during the second half of 2012.

“Semprius as a leader in HCPV modules shows us that we have bet on the right technology,” said Martin Pfund, CEO of the Siemens Energy Photovoltaic Business Unit. “The world record is a breakthrough in module efficiency. Combined with our expertise in turnkey solutions business, it has the potential to become a game changer for the solar markets in regions with high irradiation. With Semprius as a partner, we will further broaden our portfolio in the photovoltaics market. We’re very pleased to be working together with Semprius to commercialize this technology globally.”

Revenue from net zero energy buildings to reach $1.3 trillion by 2035

BOULDER, USA: As green building practices become more commonplace in the global construction industry, the goal of designing zero energy buildings, or buildings that consume as much energy as they produce through on-site and renewable energy systems, has emerged as the next major frontier.

A number of countries and regions have already established long-term targets and regulations requiring zero energy building construction that will come into effect over the coming years, some as soon as 2016. These stringent regulations will accelerate adoption around the world, causing the industry to undergo a significant transformation in the coming years.

According to a new report from Pike Research, worldwide revenue from zero energy buildings will grow rapidly over the next two decades, reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 43 percent, with much of that growth occurring in the European Union.

“Following the surge in LEED and other green building certifications worldwide over the last few years, zero energy building has emerged as the ‘holy grail’ in green building design,” says research analyst Eric Bloom. “Technically, zero energy building design is feasible for many building types in many regions, but concerns about the upfront cost continue to impede it in the market.”

The most noteworthy of the new regulatory regimes is in Europe, where the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which governs EU building energy codes, will require nearly zero energy construction in public buildings by 2019 and in all new construction by 2021.

The exact language of these new building codes is still being established, but it is clear they will drive significant investment in zero energy building technologies over the next few decades. Similar regulations have come into effect or are being discussed in the United States and Japan.

While the technologies required to make zero energy buildings possible, such as efficient lighting and HVAC systems, improved insulation, solar photovoltaic and other systems, can add significant upfront cost, advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will improve system performance and reduce costs.

Solar industry re-assessing prospects for 2012 European PV market following strong finish for 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: A 23 percent Q/Q rise in the Q4’11 European photovoltaic market has created short-term optimism in the industry, which has been amplified by the slowdown in module price decline over the past month. However, the Q4’11 demand boom will accelerate the tightening of PV incentive policies that is gripping Europe, most notably in the key German market and most recently in Spain with announcement of a moratorium on new renewable energy plants, according to the latest European PV Markets Quarterly report from NPD Solarbuzz.

Q1’12 European demand is forecast to show an increase of 10 percent Y/Y. Belgium, France, Spain, and Greece will have their highest quarterly shares, and the United Kingdom could accelerate into a short-term boom in Q1’12 depending on the legal ruling on incentive tariffs.

Major cuts in solar incentives and a weak project financing environment were offset by collapsing module prices, leading the European market to grow 18 percent Y/Y in 2011. The fact that factory gate prices fell continuously through 2011 caused developers to install as late as possible (and before the announced tariff reductions in 2012, particularly in Germany). In addition, funding scheme control mechanisms failed to react in time in major markets such as Germany, Italy, and France. Furthermore, the unusually mild autumn and early winter, especially in Germany, meant that market activity was hardly constrained by weather conditions toward year-end.

German PV market grows 63 percent Q/Q in Q4’11; PV markets in UK and Belgium experience strong rise
Germany exceeded all expectations by surging 63 percent Q/Q in Q4’11, but the UK and Belgium also contributed over 370 MW of growth in the quarter. However, Italy and France dropped Q/Q due to scheme installation deadlines and flexible tariff cuts implemented throughout the year. Module prices fell 40 percent Y/Y at the distributor level in Q4’11, but have shown some evidence of stabilization in January 2012.

“Tier 1 Chinese module manufacturers are predicting module shortages by the end of Q1’12, but the evidence for this is not totally compelling. The path for module prices in 1H’12 will largely depend on the extent to which wholesalers are confident enough to build inventories in the face of continued policy uncertainty. Germany’s role will be critical, especially because its demand profile will be significantly smoothed by its proposed change to monthly rather than biennial tariff adjustments,” noted Dr. Alan Turner, VP of NPD Solarbuzz Europe.

Ground mounted installations, while down 13 percent in 2011, had a 35 percent share of the European market in 2H’11. Non-residential building mounted systems had a 55 percent share in 2011, while residential share rose slightly to 16 percent.Source: NPD Solarbuzz, USA.

Downstream companies will need to develop flexible market strategies
Two of the key markets in Europe, Germany and Italy, face a marked decline in 2012, with a reduction of 37 percent in their combined market size. The strongest growth in smaller markets over next one to two years, based on current incentive policies, will be in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Romania.

Two factors are triggering new growth. As incentive tariffs follow prices downward, less public funding is needed to build significant country markets. In addition, as PV becomes more competitive with retail electricity prices, investors become less dependent on public funding schemes for viable economics. As a result, new markets are emerging, particularly in East and Southeast Europe. Following two 100 MW PV plants built in Ukraine in 2011, Serbia is now planning the construction of two 150 MW plants, as well as a 1 GW project to be carried out between 2013 and 2015.

Prospects for the development of projects based on self-sustaining economics have been boosted in France, with a 60 MW project to be carried out by a major French developer based on a 30-year power purchase agreement with a local utility. Similar concepts are also being discussed in Greece at the government level. However, prospects for comparable projects in Spain have been dented by recent exposure of its very large electricity generating capacity overhang, which has reduced the impetus for capacity expansion of any sort and has culminated in a moratorium on any new renewable electricity plants.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CNPV one of lowest product carbon footprints within solar PV suppliers

LUXEMBOURG & DONGYING, CHINA: CNPV Solar Power SA has confirmed that TUV Rheinland verified its mono and polycrystalline modules meet ISOCD14067. The specific data accrued during assessment places CNPV as one of the leading Companies controlling their impact on the environment and natural resources.

"We champion green energy conversion daily, as we demonstrate our real value features and initiatives within our products," iterated Bypina Veerraju Chaudary, CNPV's COO.

"Historically, we initiated our corporate policies to first and foremost satisfy the ethical requirement that we share with our customer base. This alignment of principles is fundamental to our customer satisfaction and covers all elements of interaction, morally, ethically, technically and commercially. With recent conclusive data provided by TUV Rheinland demonstrating our results to date, we can continue to develop further initiatives to continually reduce our environmental impact from both sides of the equation; further reduction in carbon consumption during the products life cycle, and increased photon conversion with products in use."

The ISOCD14067 standard incorporates ISO14040:2006, ISO14044:2006, and PAS2050:2011. It delivers a numerical CO2 value generated from both manufacture and through the life cycle of the product over a period of 100 years. The evaluation process includes raw materials evaluation, conversion processes, manufacturing burdens, in use variations of the product and final degradation.

For a company involved intensively in promoting green energy conversion, the only way to know that they truly believe what they are promoting is when they are able to supply their independently assessed "Carbon Footprint Calculated" logo with their products.

KYOCERA to start exclusive sales in Japan of residential-use energy management system

KYOTO, JAPAN: Kyocera Corp. and Nichicon Corp. announced that the two companies have completed an agreement for Kyocera to begin domestic sales this summer of a new energy management system (EMS) which combines Kyocera's highly reliable solar power generating systems with Nichicon's long-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion battery storage units.

Designed for the Japan market, the new system responds to the growing demand for residential energy storage equipment following the March 11 disasters. Kyocera will begin sales in Japan this summer.

Through its long-term R&D strategy and proprietary technology in solar and energy-related fields, Kyocera has developed an EMS which makes effective use of energy.

Using and regulating a solar power generating system with battery storage requires a power inverter and sophisticated energy-management technology. The EMS developed by Kyocera is thus effective in optimizing residential energy use from those systems and utility power from the electricity grid.

"This new system combines the two vital themes of power generation and power storage using Kyocera's solar power generating system and Nichicon's energy storage unit," explained Kyocera president, Tetsuo Kuba. "Kyocera will use its energy-management technology to launch this new comprehensive system for optimizing residential energy use, and thus make a real contribution to preventing climate change."

"We'd like to see use of this system — that combines Kyocera's top-class solar power generating systems, Nichicon's energy storage units which hold top domestic share for EV charging systems, and Samsung SDI's lithium-ion batteries which hold the largest global share — sweep the Japanese market," said Nichicon chairman and CEO, Ippei Takeda.

GT Advanced Technologies announces DSS450 MonoCast crystal growth system

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Advanced Technologies Inc. announced the commercial availability of its DSS450 MonoCast crystal growth system. Modules produced from material grown in GT’s DSS450 MonoCast furnace rival modules that incorporate traditional boron-doped batch CZ monocrystalline wafers in terms of total output.

The DSS450 MonoCast furnace incorporates a number of new features that result in ≥80 percent mono volume yield per slabbed ingot and significantly increases Grade I wafers (>90 percent mono area/wafer) per ingot than other cast mono technologies. The MonoCast technology is being offered first on GT’s DSS450 and DSS450HP systems. Customers currently operating these DSS furnaces can migrate to the new DSS450 MonoCast system through a field upgrade.

“Advancements in ingot casting technologies are opening up new market opportunities for traditional multicrystalline wafer manufacturers to deliver next generation wafers that enable higher cell efficiency conversions,” said Tom Gutierrez, president and CEO of GT Advanced Technologies.

“Our DSS450 MonoCast system continues GT’s successful track record of delivering production ready products that have undergone rigorous testing with our beta partners to ensure they perform to our specification. Our existing DSS customers can leverage their investment by upgrading to our DSS450 MonoCast systems in order to successfully compete in this new market with a technology that delivers high mono yields and enables higher efficiency cells.”

“GT’s market-leading expertise in crystal growth process knowledge, equipment and control system design and global support provide customers with a technologically advanced system that delivers proven performance and repeatability,” said Vikram Singh, GT Advanced Technologies’ VP and GM of photovoltaic business unit.

“Our ongoing work on material science and cell architectures with the Georgia Institute of Technology has continued to demonstrate that our MonoCast material when combined with advanced cell processing technology can deliver efficiency conversions of greater than 19 percent. This is an important indicator of the potential cell efficiency gains PV manufacturers can expect to achieve using GT’s MonoCast material.”

Modules produced from GT’s MonoCast material rival modules that incorporate traditional boron-doped batch CZ processed monocrystalline wafers in terms of total output. Cells produced from DSS450 MonoCast wafers have lower Light Induced Degradation (LID) and the full square surface dimension area across the wafer provides greater electricity generating surface area than the pseudo square shape of traditional monocrystalline wafers. The result is module efficiencies that are competitive with modules incorporating batch monocrystalline wafers.

The DSS450 MonoCast features new advanced hardware and an industry first automatic seed retention feature that eliminates dipping and operator intervention between melt and growth helping to automate the process and enabling the production worthiness of the DSS450 MonoCast system. When combined with GT’s new Acuity performance software, the DSS450 MonoCast can produce high quality ingots run after run.

EDF Energies Nouvelles announces commercial operation of St Isidore B solar project

TORONTO, CANADA: EDF EN Canada, an EDF Energies Nouvelles Company, confirmed that it has reached commercial operation on the second 11.8 MWp installation of the St Isidore Solar Project.

The St Isidore Solar Project consists of two solar PV installations located six kilometers apart, near the town of St Isidore in the Municipality of the Nation, Ontario. The second 11.8 MWp installation - St Isidore B, began delivering clean electricity to the Hydro One distribution grid in late December 2011. The first 11.5 MWp installation - St Isidore A, came online in December 2010. These two installations combined will deliver nearly 24 MWp under the Government of Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP).

The St Isidore B site consists of 152,000 panels, which will generate solar energy to meet the peak demands of about 3,500 Ontario homes. More than 200 workers were employed locally since design, engineering and construction activities commenced in early 2010. enXco Service Canada Inc. will provide long-term operations and maintenance services.

Jon Kieran, director of solar development for EDF EN Canada, said: “We are proud to extend the benefits of solar energy to the St Isidore community, both economic and environmental. This project will bring the total capacity we have developed and built in Eastern Ontario to over 70 MWp of solar energy, making EDF EN one of the top solar developers in Ontario and more generally in Canada.”

The St Isidore Solar Project joins the Elmsley Solar Project, located near Lombardy in the Township of Rideau Lakes, and the Arnprior Solar Project, located in West Carleton just east of Arnprior, as part of EDF EN Canada’s solar achievements. All sites have been developed under the Government of Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP).

Gehrlicher Solar America completes two additional commercial solar installations in US

SPRINFIELD, USA: Gehrlicher Solar America announced the completion of two additional commercial solar installations in the US. With the completion of a 151 kW ground-mounted system in North Dartmouth, MA, Gehrlicher Solar has successfully entered the Massachusetts market and plans over the course of 2012 to build at least 5 MW of projects in the state.

The Dartmouth system covers approximately seven acres in a semi-rural residential area and is expected to generate an average of 186,500 kilowatt-hours per year, which will provide 90 percent of the electricity used at the site. In this installation, the Gehrtec® Base, the racking system for ground-mounted systems from Gehrlicher Solar, was installed for the first time in the US. The Gehrtec Base is suitable for a wide range of module technologies and sizes; and enables both the orientation and tilt of each module to be individually adjusted.

The second project completed is a 322 kW rooftop system in Swedesboro, NJ. The system has been acquired by a group of private investors who will sell energy under a power purchase agreement to a cold storage facility, owned by KMT brrr! LLC.

“Both projects have a strategic relevance to us”, explains Dr. Stefan Parhofer, CEO of Gehrlicher Solar America Corp. “We perceive great potential in Massachusetts and are currently receiving many inquiries from there. It has a very interesting Solar Renewable Energy Certificates market, and while that of New Jersey still remains challenging, although New Jersey also remains an attractive market for Solar.”

ONYX signs MoU to acquire 25 percent of “Plug-N-Play” co-developer

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, USA: Onyx Service and Solutions Inc. has executed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement (MoU) to acquire 25 percent of China-based Optimum Solar.

The financial terms of the acquisition will be settled upon the completion of ONYX’s Due Diligence review of Optimum’s existing operations and future valuations. The terms of the MOU allow for a short Due Diligence period, therefore, ONYX management anticipates closing the acquisition within the next several weeks.

“We are confident that the acquisition of this substantial stake in Optimum will allow ONYX access to some of the best engineering and manufacturing expertise available in the solar industry,” stated ONYX’s president, Malcolm Burleson. “The combined resources of ONYX and Optimum will allow for the acceleration of the commercialization of our co-developed ‘Plug-N-Play’ all in one solar panel system.”

“To date we have received sales inquires from all four corners of the globe; each with a story of how the ‘Plug-N-Play’ could be used in revolutionary ways,” concluded Burleson.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tunisian sun to light European homes by 2016

TUNISIA: In the sands of North Africa, the DESERTEC Foundation’s vision for a future where the world's deserts supply clean and sustainable energy to the whole of humankind is beginning to take shape. That future begins in the Saharan deserts of Tunisia with a project called "TuNur".

Using thousands of mirrors to track the Tunisian sun to use its heat to generate electricity, the TuNur Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) plants will ultimately produce 2 Gigawatts of electricity, roughly double the average nuclear power plant. Project developer Nur Energie and its Tunisian partners, led by Top Oilfield Services, plan to construct the project in several phases.

The first phase is expected to begin in 2014 and the first electricity exports are set to reach Europe by 2016 via a new low-loss transmission line to Italy. The project has been designed to reduce water requirements to a bare minimum by using a dry, air-based cooling system.

The DESERTEC Foundation is endorsing TuNur and believes that it can serve as a blueprint for the development of further wind and solar projects in the Sahara. The reasons for this are:

The project will focus on maximizing local value creation in Tunisia. It provides the country with the opportunity to begin building a new industrial sector, bringing investment, jobs, and thus economic development. Investment will mainly benefit the southern and interior parts of the country, which look set to become a priority area for development for the Tunisian government.

The number of jobs created directly and indirectly over the project’s construction and operational period will come to around 20,000. As well as relying on local partners and management for project development and local engineering firms, the project will also create new manufacturing industries. For example, around 825,000 flat plate mirrors and steel structures known as heliostats will be needed for the 2 Gigawatt project and can be manufactured locally.

TuNur demonstrates DESERTEC’s conviction that investing in renewables where those energy sources are most abundant is the most effective way of protecting the climate. In Tunisia, space is more abundant and the solar radiation is up to three times that of Central Europe.

Plants built in such optimal locations produce more electricity and have the potential to replace more conventional, carbon-intensive forms of power. TuNur can provide predictable power production to electricity grids with fluctuating energy sources such as photovoltaic and wind power. Using heat storage tanks, TuNur can produce electricity on demand day and night, delivering enough clean electricity to power 700 000 European homes.

Fethi Somrani, CEO of Tunisian partner, Top Oilfield Services, said: "This is a time of great change in Tunisia and across North Africa, and it couldn’t be more appropriate to actively, and responsibly, invest in long-term projects in this emerging democracy now. Industrial investment for job creation is the most effective way to alleviate poverty and to provide opportunities for Tunisia’s young population. DESERTEC can really support this vision, and with our TuNur project we are taking a first concrete step in this direction."

Nur Energie’s CEO, Kevin Sara, said: "TuNur is going to be the blueprint for things to come. It is a pioneering project that other governments, companies and individuals can point to and say, “Solar energy export from North Africa to Europe is possible, it’s worthwhile and the DESERTEC vision is attainable”.

"We are used to transporting exhaustible fuels like oil and gas thousands of kilometers and then burning them close to our cities with all the associated pollution problems and other risks to humans and our environment. Now, with the TuNur project, we are turning away from these polluting fuels to transmit clean and inexhaustible energy from the heart of the desert to European homes whilst, at the same time, bringing jobs, economic development, and export revenue to Tunisia."

TuNur's CEO, Dr Till Stenzel, said: "We are looking forward to working closely with the Tunisian authorities, as well as European utilities and governments to meet our implementation timetable for the TuNur project. We welcome additional participation from any companies and governments interested in importing clean, solar power from Tunisia."

Dr. Thiemo Gropp, director of DESERTEC Foundation, said: "The project has been evaluated by a team of independent experts and, based on their review of the development work so far, it meets our criteria for an official DESERTEC Project. TuNur will benefit Tunisia by creating jobs and spurring investments in local education to aid the long term management of the plants after 2016.

"We will keep a close eye on developments to ensure the socio-economic benefits for Tunisians are maximized and that TuNur embodies the principles of the DESERTEC Concept. With this important first step, we are showing the world’s governments, industries and consumers that what many thought to be science fiction is actually science fact. We hope that this is the first of many more such plants to be built in the desert regions of the world."

SolarCity, SunRun, Recurrent Energy, SunEdison lead way as solar innovation shifts to installers

BOSTON, USA: With the solar energy industry maturing rapidly, and expanding to newer markets, the focus of innovation and investment has shifted from panels to installations — the final critical step for monetization, according to a Lux Research report titled, “Swimming Downstream: Evaluating Up-and-Coming Solar Installers and Developers.”

A flurry of M&A activity and an influx of venture capital dollars to solar service providers have led to innovation concentrated on creating new, lean business models in an extremely fragmented downstream landscape.

“Downstream start‐ups raised over $1 billion, with SolarCity, SunRun, Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners leading the way,” said Matthew Feinstein, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report. “Solyndra raised a billion all on its own, but these downstream start‐ups will achieve what Solyndra could not – success,” added Feinstein.

Lux Research assessed the leading players in the downstream market as it stands today, sorting out the high‐potential innovators from undifferentiated “me‐too” firms. Among their conclusions:

• SolarCity dominates among residential installers. In the crowded residential installer/developer market, SolarCity is a standout performer – but can ill afford to be complacent as it expands in the northeast US. Many companies are partnering with SunRun, adding muscle to SolarCity’s biggest competitor. The Alteris‐Real Goods Solar merger in December has added a stronger player to the market.

• Commercial and utility-scale solar have few up-and-coming players. Tioga Energy and Enfinity lead the group of new large‐scale developers. The acquisitions of Recurrent Energy, SunEdison, and Solar Power Partners led to concentration of large‐scale development in the hands of larger companies or vertically‐integrated suppliers First Solar and SunPower.

• New entrants keep popping up on the back of venture dollars. A burst of entrepreneurial activity, driven by venture capital, is ensuring a steady stream of high‐potential startups. In 2011, six solar installers were among Inc. Magazine’s top 50 fastest growing companies in the US, including Greenspring Energy, re2g, SunDurance Energy, OnForce Solar, and FLS Energy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Phoenix Solar realises rooftop power plant in Slovenia

SULZEMOOS, GERMANY: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading international photovoltaic system integrator listed in Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, has realised a rooftop power plant with a peak output of 800 kilowatt in Naklo, Slovenia.

The solar power plant was built by Phoenix Solar in cooperation with Gorenjske elektrarne and completed and connected to the grid of the local electricity supplier in December 2011. It is currently one of the ten largest solar power plants in Slovenia.

Thomas Sanders, head, Phoenix Solar's European rooftop plant operations, said: "This is the second project in Slovenia which Phoenix Solar AG has successfully implemented in 2011. A growing number of Slovenian companies are recognising the potential that solar electricity can offer. They are willing to invest in renewable energies or to have their roofs used for the construction of photovoltaic plants. We are confident that more projects will be realised in Slovenia this year."

Gorenjske elektrarne is a subsidiary of Elektro Gorenjska, one of Slovenia's leading energy utilities. The company specialises in the development of power from renewable energies and already has a portfolio comprising a number of solar and hydropower plants. The Merkur Group, which provides high-end technical products and operates several research centres in Slovenia, is the owner of the roof area.

Phoenix Solar AG aims is to continue its good cooperation with Gorenjske elektrarne and the Merkur Group in 2012. Slovenia offers interesting remuneration for the operators of solar plants and systems. It is based on a feed-in tariff model similar to that of Germany and is a lucrative opportunity for investors to commit to the expansion of renewable energies. The feed-in tariff paid for this project is 30.4 euro cents per kilowatt hour, guaranteed for a period of 15 years.

Aravis: More power for renewable energy sources

BERN & ZURICH, SWITZERLAND: North-west Swiss energy supplier, EBM, based in Münchenstein and the power supply company in charge of the city of Bern, Energy Water Bern (ewb), share the goal of supporting their future power supply on renewable energy. For this purpose, the new construction and operation of appropriate production capacity at home and abroad will be again massively accelerated.

As regards to security of supply, risk, geography and profitability, both companies rely on a well-diversified and balanced mix. In order to secure a long-term investment strategy, both companies together with Aravis have brought «leading Swiss renewables AG» into being. The company's mission is to build in the medium run a sustainable, diversified portfolio of renewable energy production plants in Europe.

In addition, it is resourced with an equity of approximately 100 million Euro. EBM is also involved therein with 65 million Euro and ewb with 35 million Euro. This allows for the realization of renewable energy projects with a total volume of over € 200 million Euro. The total installed capacity will be in a first phase 100 megawatts (MW). The company has mandated Aravis for the implementation of the strategy as an investment adviser. Aravis has set a remarkable track record over the last few years as a strong executing partner in the area of renewable energy sources.

The focus of «leading Swiss renewables AG» lies mostly on wind energy. There is an active market for wind power projects in many European countries. Technology is tested but development is still far from complete. In addition to wind power, the portfolio is supplemented with small-scale hydro power plants and photovoltaic systems.

Destinations are Germany, the Benelux countries, France, Italy, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Spain. EBM and Aravis have already implemented power plant projects successfully, such as the 42 MW wind farm in Spain and the 6 MW photovoltaic plant in Italy. It has been proven that Aravis has not only distinct industry and finance expertise but also very good knowledge of local, country-specific conditions.

With this latest and strong engagement, EBM and ewb consistently pursue within the scope of their supply strategies the further expansion of renewable energies. Both companies are clearly demonstrating that they don’t just wash away their previous, non-conventional energy mixes with green certificates, but that they rather secure the planned energy transition through solid, newly built power plants.

Both EBM and ewb use in the wake of the liberalization of electricity markets, the currently available opportunities in order to secure new sources of production for the long-term energy supply and at the same time to fulfil the customers’ needs for environmentally friendly produced energy.

BioSolar pursuing opportunity to capture larger market share

SANTA CLARITA, USA: BioSolar Inc., developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, reported that the company intends to pursue an opportunity to capture a larger than previously expected market share. By teaming with additional strategic partners, the company will be able to increase volume and reduce the cost of BioBacksheet to meet the demand of solar manufacturers that must now offer solar modules at a significantly lower price point.

The solar industry is dealing with a precipitous slide in solar module prices, which dropped approximately 40 percent from 2007 to 2010 and by another 40 percent in 2011. This rapid decline in prices has caused industry wide concern over the viability and sustainability of many solar module manufacturers throughout world, especially those located in North America.

Many industry experts believe solar module prices will eventually bounce back from the lowest level of 2011, once steadily growing solar energy demand catches up with the current oversupply. However, in the short term, the competitive pressure to reduce the cost of solar modules has resulted in efforts by manufacturers to cut component costs, including the cost of backsheets.

Dr. David Lee, president and CEO of BioSolar, commented: “The current industry misfortune has created an immediate opportunity for BioSolar. As solar manufacturers search for alternative high quality PV components at a lower cost, our BioBacksheet is now viewed as a very attractive candidate to immediately replace higher cost, petroleum-based backsheets.”

To drive its costs even lower and seize this unique market opportunity, BioSolar recently revised its strategic plan and intends to enter into additional strategic partnerships with manufacturers capable of producing and delivering BioBacksheet in large volume at low cost anywhere in the world. In addition to its North American customers, who already are in the process of completing integration trials of BioBacksheet in their solar panels, BioSolar is accelerating its selling efforts to Asian solar manufacturers.

Amonix achieves ISO 9001-2008 and IEC 62108 certification

SEAL BEACH, USA: Amonix Inc., the leading designer and manufacturer of utility-scale concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems has received ISO 9001:2008 and IEC 62108 certifications. Both certifications represent key milestones in Amonix’ quality management system and field operation durability.

To become ISO 9001:2008 compliant, Amonix worked with a leading ISO accreditation agency that leveraged their vast aerospace and defense program knowledge to conduct a thorough assessment to be eligible for submission to the International Organization for Standardization. This certification of compliance recognizes that the policies, practices and procedures ensure consistency and the highest quality standards in the products provided to customers.

Receiving IEC 62108 compliancy is an important milestone and verifies that Amonix CPV solar power systems are capable of withstanding the extreme climate conditions. This certification further proves Amonix’ long-term and reliable operation in utility-scale applications.

“Achieving ISO 9001:2008 and attaining IEC certification further solidifies our leadership in utility-scale solar.” Amonix’ Interim CEO, Jan Van Dokkum stated. “Such effort demonstrates our commitment to providing superior quality and reliability in our CPV solar power systems.”

“Implementing an ISO-inspired, robust quality management processes adds immense value to our development and manufacturing plans,” Azmat Siddiqi, VP of Quality and Reliability at Amonix said. “ISO achievement was accomplished in record time based on an existing solid foundation. This along with the IEC Certification proves that we are committed to excellence every day in all we do.”

Chinese producers flood US market with solar cells and modules ahead of upcoming ruling in solar trade case

WASHINGTON, USA: Chinese producers have more than doubled imports of crystalline silicon solar cells and modules in advance of potential US government duties on those imports, according to an evaluation of US Customs and Border Protection data released by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM).

The coalition, which represents 11,000 US workers at more than 150 American companies across the country, alleges that the recent 110 percent surge in import volume since July 2011 is further proof of illegal dumping and subsidies by Chinese solar producers and warrants a finding of critical circumstances that would apply retroactive duties to Chinese imports.

“This significant increase in imports demonstrates that the Chinese know they have violated US and international trade rules and are trying to evade the consequences,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Oregon. “Year to date, Chinese imports of solar cells and modules in 2011 are up 346 percent by quantity and 138 percent by value. Since 2008, Chinese imports have risen 939 percent by value and 1664 percent by quantity. This most recent surge of Chinese solar imports gives the US Department of Commerce the evidence it needs not only to make a preliminary determination in our favor, but also to apply a critical-circumstances finding to address this last-minute import surge.”

Under US trade law, Commerce can make a finding of critical circumstances that requires importers of record to post bonds or cash deposits on tariffs on imports dating back 90 days from preliminary determinations on whether duties are warranted and, if so, by what margin. A preliminary determination is expected on Feb. 13, meaning imports from Nov. 15 onward would be subject to duties.

Using publicly available data from the Customs and Border Protection’s Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), CASM researchers found imports from Wuxi Suntech Power Co. Ltd. (known as Suntech), a Chinese manufacturer and respondent in the ongoing trade investigations, surged 76 percent in November, compared with October. PIERS reports also show that imports from Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co. Ltd (known as Trina Solar), another Chinese manufacturer and respondent, spiked 209 percent in the first half of December, compared with the first half of November 2011.

Further, CASM research found numerous examples of companies stockpiling dumped and illegally subsidized Chinese imports, providing credible evidence to support a finding of critical circumstance. For example, Sun Electronics, a Miami importer and wholesaler, brought in 31,000 Chinese solar laminates on a single day: Dec. 21, 2011. This enormous shipment, consisting of at least 77 shipping containers, required Sun Electronics to rent six forklifts and drivers and devote four-five other people to screen and sort the laminates. Sun Electronics noted in an advertisement that it has recently obtained an entire second storage warehouse, likely demonstrating its intent to receive other large shipments of Chinese solar products.

“The Chinese have made it clear that, contrary to various World Trade Organization agreements they signed 10 years ago, they will employ any means necessary to dominate the American and international solar markets,” Brinser said. “Rather than reward the Chinese for cheating, Commerce and the International Trade Commission need to take every possible action to enable American manufacturers to compete fairly.”

On Dec. 2, the US International Trade Commission issued a unanimous preliminary determination that Chinese trade practices are harming the US domestic solar manufacturing industry. The next step in the trade case will be Commerce’s Feb. 13 preliminary determination on whether to levy countervailing import duties to offset the effects of any illegal Chinese subsidies. On March 28, Commerce is scheduled to make its preliminary antidumping determination, imposing duties to offset the effects of Chinese import pricing at artificially low prices.

Annabelle Candy, maker of Rock Road and Abba Zaba, goes solar

SANTA CLARA, USA: Annabelle Candy of Hayward California announced the installation of a new PV Solar system at their Hayward facility. Annabelle’s new solar installation will offset over 90 percent of the factory’s current electricity expense. In the first year alone, Annabelle will save over $136,000, a savings that is equivalent to more than 180,000 candy bars. Over the 25-year warranted life of the panels, the system will save Annabelle Candy approximately $6.5 million.

The system is made of 1,424 SunPower PowerGuard roof-tiles, which will insulate Annabelle’s roof from harsh weather, UV exposure and most importantly for a candy bar manufacturer -- changes in temperature. The system uses a single SatCon inverter and is estimated to produce 646,855 kWh in its first year of operation –- enough energy to power 92 homes. The system will drastically reduce Annabelle’s carbon footprint by eliminating the burning of 52,462 gallons of fuel a year.

Since its incorporation in 1950, Annabelle Candy has been a family owned and operated company. President and CEO, Susan Karl, says “We at Annabelle’s are proud to be one of the first manufacturing plants in the area to bring solar energy to our facilities. With the financial challenges we currently face in this economic environment, we feel fortunate to have found a way to offset our operating costs and help conserve our precious resources, while continuing to provide jobs for our wonderful employees.”

Asia Pacific solar PV markets soar 165 percent in 2011, led by 2.9 GW of installations in China

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Asia Pacific photovoltaic (PV) markets continue to surge ahead of expectations, installing 2.8 GW in Q4'11 and a total of 6 GW in FY'11. The region as a whole grew 165 percent Y/Y, and is forecast to grow an additional 40 percent in 2012, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report.

China has emerged as the dominant force in the region, growing by a blistering 500 percent over 2010 levels with 48 percent of 2011 demand. A planned year-end 13 percent FIT reduction led to a surge in Q4'11 installations, reaching 1.7 GW. Low factory gate module prices and favorable project returns led to a flurry of installations, while the project pipeline has now grown to 20 GW.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

“The China PV market was reshaped in 2011 by the release of the national FIT,” said Ray Lian, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, “Approximately 1 GW ground mount projects were installed in the Qinghai province alone. However, the explosive growth could well be followed by policy adjustments in 2012 as the Chinese central government takes action to control the growth rate.” In 2011, Japan was the second largest regional market in Asia Pacific, followed by Australia and India.

Japan grew 30 percent in 2011; higher growth expected in 2012
The Q4'11 installations in Japan were up slightly from Q3’11 levels, with residential segment having more than a 70 percent share of demand. The 2011 Japanese market was up 30 percent Y/Y, reaching 1.2 GW, and is poised to grow an additional 40 percent in 2012.

Though the government recently approved a new FIT law aimed at spurring demand for large-scale PV projects, 2012 rates have yet to be announced. While the lack of clarity on the new FIT has held back execution on these projects, the new law has stimulated development activity. The market is also being reshaped by a dramatic increase in the number of foreign module suppliers.

Strong growth in India despite project delays
Installations in India surged 125 percent in Q4'11, as project developers raced to meet installation deadlines that trigger during Q1'12. Though many of the approved projects are still facing delays, Q1'12 could see more than 600 MW connected to the grid under the National Solar Mission and Gujarat solar policies.

Receiving a temporary reprieve from regulators, projects under the Gujarat Solar Policy were recently granted a one-month extension. In 2012, the Indian market could begin to approach 1 GW, fueled by new installations under the National Solar Mission and new state-level policies.

"While rapid PV price declines have greatly improved project economics over the course of 2011, many Indian developers have suffered setbacks due to difficulties associated with financial closure, land acquisition, and power evacuation facilities. Now developers will need to race to meet their installation deadlines or face the prospect of losing their PPAs, leading to a surge of activity in December and January," added NPD Solarbuzz analyst Chris Sunsong.

Australia shrinking as incentives reduced
The region’s third largest market is trending in a different direction. Australia’s PV installations fell 10 percent Q/Q. Q1'12 installations are forecast to decline an additional 20 percent, as the market readjusts to the termination and reduction of a number of incentive policies in 1H'11.

The FY'12 market is forecast to fall by 30 percent; however, the market is forecast to pick up in 2013 as large-scale ground-mounted systems begin to come online. The retrenchment of solar PV incentive policies across the country has left many downstream installers stranded with evaporating demand and many firms have ceased operations.

While the availability of low-priced Chinese PV modules has led to rapidly decreasing installed system costs it also led to Silex Solar ceasing all manufacturing activities during Q4’11.

Other emerging markets in Asia accounted for an additional 500 MW of demand in 2011, largely driven by Thailand, Korea and Taiwan. This figure is expected to increase by more than 50 percent in 2012, along with the emergence of new markets in Malaysia and the Philippines. The latest Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report brings together a comprehensive and detailed analysis of regional trends, major country market analysis, and developments in smaller country markets.

PV market activity over the 12 quarters of 2011-2013 in the major markets of China, India, Japan and Australia is covered in terms of market drivers and constraints, market segmentation, policy developments and their impact on the market, downstream trends, major project activity, installed system pricing and PV project investment economics.

The smaller country analysis covers new developments in the past quarter in Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Korea. The new Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report comprises a 150-page PowerPoint report, an Excel data summary, and PolicyTracker, a comprehensive Excel-based database showcasing each country’s incentive policies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wells Fargo and Enfinity announce $100 million solar fund

ATLANTA, USA: Wells Fargo & Co. and Enfinity America Corp. (Enfinity), one of North America’s leading solar energy companies for commercial, municipal, educational and utility-scale customers, announced a joint program through which Wells Fargo will provide up to $100 million for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects developed by Enfinity.

Financing provided by Wells Fargo will enable Enfinity to cost-effectively provide a clean and reliable source of electricity to its customers and support its growing pipeline of distributed generation and utility-scale projects throughout the United States.

“Our continued commitment to the U.S. solar market is a reflection of the opportunity Wells Fargo sees in this growing sector,” said Barry Neal, head of Wells Fargo’s Environmental Finance Group. “We’re excited to partner with Enfinity and support their efforts to develop projects that will create new jobs in the U.S. and also help businesses better control their electricity costs.”

Atlanta-based Enfinity America Corporation is active throughout North America, with projects ranging from a 33 MW PV solar farm in Ontario, a range of distributed generation projects in California, and its recent acquisition of a 9.8 MW PV installation at a blue-chip manufacturing facility in Ohio.

Enfinity America's CEO, Rafael Dobrzynski, said: “The solar industry landscape is fast-changing; solar developers can no longer rely on incentives like Treasury’s cash grant program to make their projects viable. Enfinity has always been able to call upon its highly effective network of financing relationships – and this latest partnership with Wells Fargo will enable us to apply secure, robust financing to the many commercial, industrial and municipal solar energy opportunities in the United States.”

David Shipley, executive VP and CFO at Enfinity, added: “Working with Wells Fargo has been a very positive experience. The bank’s due diligence procedures meant we had to make sure our internal processes were robust, and demonstrate a viable go-to-market strategy with clear execution milestones. We look forward to deploying this new finance stream to keep the momentum going in solar energy’s growth.”

Wells Fargo has invested $2.7 billion in over 300 renewable energy projects in 27 states since 2006.

Government will have 'solar industry destruction' on its hands if it pursues supreme court appeal

UK: The Government will be guilty of the “destruction of the solar industry” if it challenges today’s Court of Appeal ruling over feed-in-tariffs.

David Hunt, a director with leading renewable energy company Eco Environments said: “The Government had the chance today to restore consumer and industry confidence in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal ruling.

“However, by arrogantly pursuing an appeal, which could take many months to resolve, it is willing to jeopardise the future of hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of jobs.

“It is a callous and disgusting course of action which has the potential to wreck what should be one of the UK’s most dynamic and exciting industries.

“If the Government does not step back from the brink, it will have the destruction of the renewable energy industry on its hands and will ultimately pay a heavy price at the ballot box.”

Earlier in the day, homeowners were given a short-term window of opportunity to enjoy a solar power “gold rush”. A Court of Appeal ruling means that any solar PV installations installed, commissioned and registered between December 12 last year and March 3 this year will receive the higher feed-in-tariff rate of 43.3p for the next 25 years.

Customers who register on or after March 3 will qualify for the higher rate until April 1 when it will drop to 21p.

The only way this would change is if the Government were to be successful in any appeal to the Supreme Court withal installation post December 12 reverting to 21p rather than the higher rate of 43.3p.

Hunt added: “This is an almighty kick in the teeth for the Government, but a fantastic result for consumers who have either gone ahead with an installation since December 12 or are keen to do so now.

“The phones have already started ringing with homeowners keen to cash in on this mini gold rush. Given that the cost of Solar PV installations has dropped dramatically since December 12, consumers can now achieve breathtaking returns on investment. In year one the return is 18 per cent, while the average return over 25 years is a staggering 39 per cent if you include inflationary increases in FIT payments and electricity price increases. Customers will also be able to enjoy a payback period of just three years.

“The Government wants to prolong the legal process to maintain uncertainty and confusion among consumers and to try to keep the level of installations low. We believe it is highly unlikely any Government appeal will be successful, but the worst case scenario is that consumers will receive 21p and the most likely scenario that they will receive 43.3p.”

ONYX to acquire significant stake in Optimum Solar after spectacular success of new product

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, USA: Onyx Service and Solutions Inc.'s management is moving to secure a significant stake in the company’s co-development partner on the revolutionary new “Plug-N-Play” all-in-one solar panel product.

After publicly announcing the new Plug-N-Play product and demonstrating it in use for the press, potential buyers and distributors, the company has received a surprisingly large amount of positive interest from all over the globe.

Designation of the new Plug-N-Play as a “solar panel” doesn’t do justice to the true abilities of this new product. Because the Plug-N-Play consists of a solar panel, micro inverter, a battery, voltage stabilizing electronics and an AC/DC outlet - you can literally buy it off of the shelf; point the panel at the sun and plug an extension cord directly into the panel for immediate power, alleviating complicated wiring and typical installation requirements.

The Plug-N-Play panels are designed to be attached to any surface with four screws and immediately be ready for use in single or multiple configurations. An added sales bonus is that this new product allows remote residences worldwide to now have immediate access to the power of the sun, and with the integrated battery, power is provided well after sunset.

“Located on the Asian continent, with direct access and trusted associations with multiple quality manufacturers in Shenzhen, Optimum Solar has benefitted ONYX as an active player to expand our company’s focus on solar product development, solar product manufacturing, solar product sales and new solar technology acquisition and development,” stated ONYX president, Malcolm Burleson.

“This new arrangement will strengthen our aggregate abilities to provide superior engineering expertise, better manufacturing capabilities and larger distribution networks for this sensational new product. This should enable us to properly engineer, manufacture and distribute multiple models from 230 watts to 330 watts, worldwide – creating maximum revenue potential for the company.”

Solar PV market continues to grow in Europe and around the world

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: The worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) market continued to grow in 2011 even in the midst of financial and economic crisis, with new grid-connected PV capacities rising by 27.7 GW and propelling the global PV capacity from 39.7 GW at the end of 2010 to 67.4 GW at the end of 2011. Almost 21 GW of this growth occurred in Europe.

The number of markets reaching more than 1 GW of additional capacity during 2011 rose from 3 to 6. In 2010 the top 3 markets were Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic; in 2011 Italy leads the ranks and Germany, China, the USA, France and Japan follow, each with over 1 GW of new capacity. Those are among the key findings of EPIA’s new “Market Report 2011”, which assesses PV’s development in all major markets around the world.

Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, the report finds, with 75 percent of all new capacity in 2011. The two biggest markets in 2011, Italy and Germany, account for nearly 60 percent of global market growth during the past year.

But the report also notes that in coming years it will be crucial for the PV industry to develop new markets.

“The PV industry is at a crossroads,” said EPIA president, Ingmar Wilhelm. “Whilst European markets have always outpaced home production, this will presumably no longer be the case in the years to come. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it during the last decade.“

Wilhelm added: “Strengthening the PV momentum by adding additional markets of important growth can be considered the single most important achievement on the continued growth track of world-wide PV development. And yet, many markets – in particular China, the USA and Japan, but also Australia and India – have addressed only a very small part of their enormous potential. Moreover, several countries from large sunbelt regions like Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America are on the brink of starting their development.”

Among the key statistics of the report:
* Total installed PV capacity world-wide reached 67.4 GW at the end of 2011. PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity.

* The growth rate of PV during 2011 reached 70 percent, an outstanding level among all renewable technologies.

* The total energy output of the world’s PV capacity run over a calendar year is equal to some 80 billion kWh. This energy volume is sufficient to cover the annual power supply needs of over 20 million households in the world.

* In Europe, over 50 GW of PV systems were installed at the end of 2011. With growing contributions from Southern European countries, the average load factor of this capacity is increasing and will produce over 60 billion kWh on an annual basis, enough energy to supply over 15 million European households.

Consumers set for solar bonanza as government loses right to appeal over feed-in-tariffs

UK: Homeowners have been given a short-term window of opportunity to enjoy a solar power “gold rush”.

A Court of Appeal ruling today means that any Solar PV installations installed, commissioned and registered between December 12 last year and March 3 this year will receive the higher feed-in-tariff rate of 43.3p for the next 25 years.

Customers who register on or after March 3 will qualify for the higher rate until
April 1 when it will drop to 21p.

David Hunt, a director with leading renewable energy company Eco Environments, said: “This is an almighty kick in the teeth for the Government, but a fantastic result for consumers who have either gone ahead with an installation since December 12 or are keen to do so now.

“The phones have already started ringing with homeowners keen to cash in on this mini gold rush. Given that the cost of Solar PV installations has dropped dramatically since December 12, consumers can now achieve breathtaking returns on investment. In year one the return is 18 per cent, while the average return over 25 years is a staggering 39 per cent if you include inflationary increases in FIT payments and electricity price increases. Customers will also be able to enjoy a payback period of just three years.”

The full consultation on the FIT rates for solar and other technologies is due for release on February 9 which should give a clear picture of the rates from April this year and beyond.

Hunt added: “We would also hope that the consultation will confirm whether or not homes considering an installation from April will need an Energy Performance Certificate of Grade C or above to claim the top FIT payment – or be subject to a much lower rate.

“We trust that after the fiasco of recent months over the introduction of lower FIT rates, the Government will heed the warnings of the solar industry and remove the stringent EPC requirement for homes which would price the majority of the population out of even considering an investment in solar technology.”

REC solar modules win industry leading test for best performance in 2011

SANDVIKA, NORWAY: This week, the Photon Laboratory announced that REC modules ranked first in the 2011 module field performance test, producing 6 percent more energy than competing modules.

REC solar modules ranked first in the year long comparative study conducted by Photon Laboratory in 2011 which measures energy yield. On average, REC modules have generated more electricity than 45 other module brands, producing 6 percent more power. REC multicrystaline modules outperformed 45 different types of modules, including thin film and monocrystaline products.

“This award confirms that REC leads the industry in delivering quality, high-performing modules and demonstrates our commitment to quality and efficiency. This is great news for REC and for our partners and customers”, said Luc Graré, senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Cells and Modules, REC.

The Photon Field Performance Test measures how many kilowatt hours of electricity a module generates throughout one year in real life conditions. Two modules from each supplier are being tested at the laboratory location in Germany. The results published in the industry magazine Photon Profi state that the highest performance ratio of 90.8 percent and also the highest yield of 1150.4 kWh/kW were measured for the REC module.

The Photon Test is currently the most recognized field performance test, comparing international solar module brands over several years, during different seasons and in different light conditions. Using scientific methodology, the test helps consumers select the best module supplier based on product performance in the field. These results show the excellent bankability of REC modules, as their additional output allows consumers to have a faster return on their investment.

Over the last 24 months, REC modules have maintained a leading position in the Photon Test, ranking second overall in 2010. As the world’s most integrated solar company, REC delivers high performing products by controlling the complete solar value chain with production from silicon to cells, wafers and modules to systems development.

Revenue from building energy management systems to reach $6 billion by 2020

BOULDER, USA: According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), 18 percent of all the energy produced in the United States is employed to cool, heat, light, or accomplish other functions within commercial buildings. Given the challenging business and economic environment of recent years, governments, building owners, building tenants, and companies in general are looking for ways to become more efficient both fiscally and environmentally.

One key mechanism for achieving greater efficiency is building energy management systems (BEMS), defined as the software, hardware, and services associated with the intelligent (i.e., information and communication technology-based) monitoring, management, and control of energy, specifically for reducing overall energy consumption and lowering energy costs.

Recent advances in technology and the availability of much more detailed data and information on how buildings can use energy more efficiently have sparked growing interest in, and rising sales of, these systems. According to a new report from Pike Research, worldwide revenue from building energy management systems will increase at a CAGR of nearly 14 percent through the rest of this decade, reaching just under $6 billion a year by 2020.

“Over the last year, the convergence of building equipment and IT has advanced at a rapid pace, enabling a higher degree of control over building energy and operations than ever before,” says research analyst Eric Bloom. “The BEMS market is evolving rapidly and is enjoying a burst of innovation, leading to an explosion in the amount of data that is available on the energy performance of commercial buildings.”

North America continues to lead the global market for BEMS, but Pike Research expects growth to accelerate worldwide, particularly in Asia Pacific. While interest in BEMS and energy efficiency is high in Western Europe, Asia Pacific will take its place as the second largest market in coming years, due to the extremely rapid pace of construction in the region as well as the challenge of meeting soaring energy demand with limited supply.

Outside of these three regions, the BEMS market will generally experience single-digit growth and modest levels of overall spending over the forecast period. In every region, the existing building stock is a large market for BEMS sales – particularly buildings constructed or modernized within the last 30 years with moderately sophisticated building management systems.

CIGS solar market to nearly double to $2.35 billion and 2.3 GW in 2015

BOSTON, USA: The market for solar installations based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film panels will nearly double in size to $2.35 billion in 2015, as manufacturers signaled a breakout year in 2011 by taking advantage of falling production costs, improving module conversion efficiencies and increasing adoption in commercial rooftops, according to a Lux Research report titled, “Sorting through the Maze of CIGS Technologies: Who Will Cash in on the Breakout Year?”.

The technology is emerging into an early-growth phase and will benefit from a surge in demand to nearly 2.3 GW in 2015, nearly double the current 1.2 GW level. However, it will still face numerous challenges including a sharp fall in venture capital money. In the emerging environment, few manufacturers — among them, Solar Frontier, Avancis, and Solibro — will succeed, mainly through strategic partnerships and investments that are critical to ramp capacities and improve production processes.

“Manufacturers have begun ramping meaningful capacities and there have been tremendous improvements in module efficiency,” said Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report. “Now, strategic partnerships between start-ups and industrial conglomerates are likely to determine this technology’s overall viability and competitiveness.”

Lux researchers positioned CIGS developers using the Lux Innovation Grid, based on their Technical Value and Business Execution, with companies that are strong on both axes reaching the “Dominant” quadrant – and also assessed each company’s maturity, providing an overall “Lux Take.” Among their conclusions:

• Solar Frontier is a clear winner. Solar Frontier is a clear winner, with a solid position in the “Dominant” quadrant – and was the only firm to earn a “Strong Positive” take. With inroads into new and emerging markets such as India, where it is selling over 30 MW of panels, Solar Frontier excels in overall execution.

• Global Solar, Avancis and Solibro are likely to consolidate. The three companies are likely to emerge as bankable players. Global Solar has demonstrated slow but steady progress and is currently selling its PowerFLEX Technology, a shingle product, to Dow. Still, to succeed it needs to adopt a less conservative approach. Avancis has a joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries for CIGS module production in Asia. As for Solibro it will need to quickly and independently strengthen its financial position to succeed.

• Stion, Miasole and Nuvosun can emerge as champions. All three are “Dominant” with the potential to emerge as early champions in this technology. However, their success will depend on capacity utilization and ramp-up, customer relationships, strategic partnerships and consistent execution in terms of their module costs, yield and module efficiency.

• ISET, Flisom and AQT can be acquisition targets. All three are “High Potential” companies – firms with strong technical value but weaker business execution scores – and have assets that make them prized acquisition targets.

Solsys Screw foundations reduces foundation costs upto 40 percent for solar power plants

GURGAON, INDIA: SOLSYS engineering, a leading player in India and Europe's PV market, with its superior knowledge of the industry and accurate forecasting of future energy demands, continues to be a diligent, energetic and innovative leader in the field.

In addition to establishing a professional team to research and develop solar system applications, the company has set up a brand new production line for ground screw to support and accelerate solar farm construction.

The Solsys Screw design for each specific application is determined through detailed load analysis with support from its engineering team in Spain and India. Selection is made depending on soil analysis report & onsite testing.

Since SOLSYS has its own production capability in India and Spain, it can not only provide conventional ground screws, but also work with solar plant developer to provide customized services, greatly reducing the design and supply development costs. Using SOLSYS-Screw instead of a concrete foundation can reduce foundation costs upto 40 percent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Global polysilicon market report: 2011 edition

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Polysilicon Market Report: 2011 Edition" report to its offering.

Polysilicon has a major influence on its end markets - Semiconductor and Photovoltaic industry. Polysilicon is the substrate upon which primarily all semiconductors are manufactured. Polysilicon is an important component for silicon-based solar cells. Consumption of solar industry grew more than its traditional share of available polysilicon, thereby spreading concerns about potential polysilicon shortages in the mid 2000's. Consequently, ambitious capacity expansions were announced by established silicon suppliers.

Global market for polysilicon has been growing rapidly resulting into an imbalance between demand and supply, with rigorous growth in its end markets especially in solar industry. All the major producers have begun thinking about enhancing their capacity by making strategies for polysilicon capacity addition.

However, global polysilicon imbalance has been anticipated to shift from deficit to oversupply in the years ahead due to the addition of new polysilicion capacities. A lot of attention has been given to polysilicon availability, given the explosive growth of photovoltaics in recent years.

Competition in polysilicon market is highly dependent on capacity. Established poly-silicon producers such as Hemlock, Wacker Chemie, Renewable Energy Corp. (REC), Monsanto Electronic Materials Co. (MEMC), Tokyama and LDK Solar that produce top-quality silicon are the market leaders of the market.

AQT readies CIGS 3.0 for commercialization

SUNNYVALE, USA: AQT Solar, a leading developer of low-cost CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-diselenide) thin-film solar cells, has achieved near world record efficiencies using an even lower cost and production friendly sputter deposited CZTS (copper-zinc-tin-sulfide) thin-film solar cell.

AQT has established that the same manufacturing-ready processes and platforms used to make AQT’s CIGS 2.0 solar cells are ideally suited for CZTS. AQT has adopted the term CIGS 3.0 to refer to its future CZTS product to reflect the broad production compatibility and similarities of the two systems.

Like their CIGS counterparts, AQT CZTS cells are manufactured as drop-in replacements for crystalline silicon cells making their adoption seamless with existing crystalline silicon module manufacturing equipment and infrastructure. The “earth abundant” raw materials comprising CZTS are substantially cheaper than those in CIGS, making it much cheaper to produce.

An added benefit of these constituents is that they are mined and available worldwide, mitigating any geopolitical influence on raw material sourcing. This will eliminate concerns such as the Indium availability and price volatility that have impacted the display and thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) industries in the past.

A great deal of research and development has been conducted on CZTS since the mid-1990s, and CZTS thin-film solar cells made by IBM employing a complex organometallic spin coating process have recently achieved efficiencies as high as 10.4 percent. In contrast, AQT has rapidly achieved close to 10 percent efficiencies for sputtered CZTS by leveraging the manufacturing process and platform foundation established for its CIGS product.

AQT plans to have CZTS modules “under sun” later this year and actively begin the product commercialization process. By employing the same capitally-efficient platform for its CZTS product as it does for its CIGS product, AQT is further validating the flexibility and long shelf life of its equipment and manufacturing strategy.

“The founders of AQT, all of whom have previously worked in capitally intensive commodity industries, have experienced firsthand the huge disruption to business that occurs when re-capitalization is required due to technology migration and we have done everything possible to avoid this from affecting our business,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT Solar.

“Early on we recognized the critical necessity to adopt a future-proofed manufacturing platform and strategy and it remains a cornerstone of our business, enabling us to easily adapt solar cell production to new, advantageous materials such as CZTS.”

RMT constructs 1,100 MW of renewable energy in 2011

MADISON, USA: RMT Inc. (RMT), a renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor specializing in the design and construction of wind and solar energy generating facilities, has provided engineering, procurement, and civil and electrical infrastructure construction for approximately 1,100 MW of renewable energy during 2011. These projects bring RMT's total EPC renewable energy portfolio to over 5,000 MW.

"RMT is increasing its focus on building clean energy projects and expanding its service offerings into different technologies," said RMT President David Kutcher. "In 2011, we were able to transfer our years of expertise in wind energy into the solar market, and we have proven our ability to safely deliver high quality wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. We believe the future of the US renewable energy industry is strong, and we look forward to growing our renewable portfolio in 2012 and beyond."

In 2011, RMT performed utility-scale wind energy design, engineering, and construction for 13 projects. These projects, ranging in size from 1.5 MW to 150 MW, were located in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. RMT's work on these sites has included providing engineering, procurement, and civil and electrical infrastructure construction to support the installation of the wind turbines.

This involves roads, crane paths and pads, turbine foundations, underground collector systems, in-tower wiring, mechanical turbine completion, tower erection, and testing and inspections.

RMT also completed design and construction of eight utility-scale solar PV projects totaling 55 MWp during 2011. These projects ranged in capacity from 2 MWp to 20 MWp. In addition to full procurement and installation, RMT designed the site layouts, foundations, DC and AC collector systems, and SCADA systems, and performed the electrical system studies/designs required for interconnection to the utilities' systems.

"Throughout 2011, RMT has self-performed integrated engineering and construction services to safely execute our projects and deliver value to our clients, our employees, and our owner," said RMT president, David Kutcher. "Our team remains committed to improving the country's energy infrastructure, providing energy independence, and enhancing quality of life in the communities we serve through the projects we build."

RMT entered the renewable energy market in 1996, designing and building wind energy facilities. More recently, the company has expanded its EPC offering to the solar energy market. The company's construction team is backed by in-house engineering and site development support professionals. As one of the only firms to self-perform both engineering and construction services, RMT is able to provide an experienced team that works together across all project phases to deliver its clients continuity of project vision and real-time solutions to complex project challenges.

Solar3D creates new solar market opportunities

SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, explained how its breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology will create new solar market opportunities by changing the economics of solar energy to enable many new cost-effective applications.

“Today’s cost per watt metric for measuring solar cell competitiveness, while tempting in its simplicity, is inadequate to quantify the total cost of a solar system,” said Jim Nelson, president and CEO of Solar3D. “A recent article by Marcelo Gomez in Renewable Energy World predicted that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will become the standard by which solar systems will be evaluated. Solar3D’s high efficiency solar cells, occupying a smaller space, will result in a TCO that will be lower than conventional solar cells.”

Conventional, less efficient, solar cells require more space, maintenance, and other collateral support expenses. Solar3D’s 3-dimensional solar cells are predicted to be substantially more efficient than low efficiency, cheap imported products. As a result of higher power density in a smaller space, all of the associated support components can be less costly and less bulky. Smaller panels and frames, less support structure, less weight per watt, and less land or building space will be used to build high power solar systems.

“With our high efficiency 3-dimensional cells, area or space limited applications that were not suitable for photovoltaics in the past can now be considered for solar systems,” said Nelson, “New and existing rooftop, mobile, military, law enforcement and consumer product applications will all be able to take advantage of much less collateral-cost-hungry solar systems constructed with Solar3D cells. By using our high efficiency, 3-dimensional cells, many of these new applications will benefit from a smaller solar footprint, as well a significantly lower TCO, as compared to conventional solar cells.”

Nelson continued, “I believe that this is the future of solar. The time will come that high efficiency cells like ours will cover every application, including utility scale solar farms.”

The company has received numerous inquiries from prospective partners and customers and is initiating business development efforts to establish Solar3D cells in the marketplace.

Top 10 cell manufacturers: Lux Research

BOSTON, USA: While the demand in Europe is on the rise, European manufacturers are having trouble remaining cost competitive by producing in Europe, according to Lux Research’s latest Solar Supply Tracker.

Norway-based cell manufacturer Renewable Energy Corp. (REC), as an example, has reduced production at two of its facilities in Norway by about 400 MW in the past two months while it continues its production at full capacity in Singapore. Module prices are at a record low with major manufacturers selling around ~$1/W to burn through their inventories. While this price is unsustainable, it makes cost competition cut-throat.

The top 10 companies, which make up 44 percent of global production, include some of the Chinese crystalline silicon cell manufacturing giants, such as Suntech, Yingli and Trina. Neo Solar Power, which is a Taiwanese cell manufacturer, entered the top 10 for the first time with 3 percent of global production.

According to Fatima Toor, Lux Research analyst who led the Solar Supply Tracker: “The Asian share in cell manufacturing will continue to rise and go >50 percent, even though risks of trade disputes and tariffs loom in the western hemisphere. Moreover, polysilicon production has shifted to Asia during the last quarter while module production had already shifted to Asia in late 2010.”Source: Lux Research, USA.

Monday, January 23, 2012

US solar manufacturers applaud analyst’s assessment of Chinese tactics: ‘Free Trade Does Not Mean Trade That is Free of Rules’

WASHINGTON, USA: The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), supported by more than 150 US employers of more than 11,000 workers, applauded an analysis by Hari Chandra Polavarapu, MD of solar and clean-technology research for brokerage firm Auriga USA, that underscores the importance of holding China accountable to international trade law.

Polavarapu’s target is China’s alleged campaign of underwriting development of massive solar manufacturing capacity – without cultivating a significant domestic market – then wielding exports of artificially low-priced product as a “battering ram” to knock down the US solar manufacturing industry.

A solar-focused analyst since mid-2004 with Deutsche Bank and now Auriga, Polavarapu contends in a series of research and analysis notes that China’s alleged actions against foreign domestic industries not only distort markets but also sap the power of competition to drive efficiency and innovation. Polavarapu characterizes China as a “state sponsor of predatory capitalism and asymmetric warfare” that “does not help in weeding out inefficient players but poisons the profit pool for everyone.”

“The lower prices of solar cells and modules from China so far have served as a battering ram in destroying overseas solar PV manufacturing competition,” Polavarapu wrote in a Dec. 22 analysis. “If these unfair/irrational practices that led to lower prices continue unhindered, how long will it be before the downstream solar PV value chain is also fully emasculated?”

“The point is a trade/industry policy cannot be sustained with free market capitalism at one end of the table while retaining totalitarian control to engage in economic warfare from the other side,” he wrote in a Jan. 11 analysis. “Individual industries and companies can compete against each other but cannot compete against a sovereign which has currency, capital, taxation and policy levers at its disposal.”

CASM – founded by seven domestic crystalline silicon solar technology producers led by SolarWorld, the largest US producer for more than 35 years – filed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade petitions in October 2011 against Chinese solar manufacturers to halt what the petitions characterize as pervasive, systemic use of state support to injure the US industry. At least 12 domestic producers have undertaken layoffs, gone bankrupt or closed plants in all regions of the country over the past two years.

CASM seeks to restore legal international competition as a step toward rekindling growth of US renewable-energy manufacturing and jobs. Yet, Polavarapu writes, cries of protectionism have risen from Chinese importers and the “parochial interests of the downstream” supposedly in defense of affordable solar technology. In fact, industry price statistics show that while wholesale prices have collapsed, end-user prices have fallen far less, all of which disrupts foreign manufacturers and enriches Chinese importers, but provides little benefit to end users.

“A valid defense from the US on an issue that has a vital bearing at many levels of its society is not a protectionist trade war, but a message that free trade does not mean trade that is free of rules to prompt China to rethink its approach and look for a way that is a win-win for everyone,” the Jan. 11 analysis said. “Today, it is solar panels; tomorrow, it will be about downstream installations, and beyond that it can be anything else.”

In his Dec. 5 analysis, Polavarapu rejected any notion that “China’s success in nurturing its solar industry comes from ‘the wisdom and intelligence of Chinese entrepreneurs.’ These comments, just like China’s trade barrier investigation into policy support and subsidies for the US renewable energy sector (announced) on Nov. 25, are laughable on their face, for they are nothing but fiction,” he wrote.

Moreover, if US federal government investigations into CASM’s allegations result in tariffs to offset the effects of illegal dumping and subsidies, Polavarapu writes, the market will efficiently adjust as it has done annually to various changes in national demand-side solar incentives worldwide.

On Dec. 2, the US International Trade Commission unanimously issued a preliminary ruling that Chinese trade practices are harming the US domestic solar industry. The next step will be Commerce’s preliminary determination on whether to impose import duties to offset the effects of allegedly illegal Chinese subsidies.

Commerce also will rule on whether Chinese importers have mounted an evasive surge in Chinese imports; if so, importers of record would have to post bonds or cash deposits on tariffs on imports back 90 days. On March 27, the agency is scheduled to determine whether tariffs are warranted to offset the effects of alleged Chinese import pricing at artificially low prices.

Deutsche Bank completes roof-mounted solar project at Americas' headquarters

NEW YORK, USA: Deutsche Bank announced the completion and operation of a 122.4 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system at its Americas’ headquarters in New York, located at 60 Wall Street. The roof-mounted array will reduce the Bank’s electricity consumption from the grid and will decrease carbon emissions by 100 metric tons per year.

The building is a 50 story, 745 foot tall skyscraper, occupied solely by Deutsche Bank. The PV System, which is located on the inclined South and East portions of the roof is the largest solar PV array in Manhattan and is currently the highest elevated solar PV flat panel array in the world, topping off at 737 feet above the ground. The installation was designed by professional engineers and has been approved by local governmental authorities.

“We are firmly committed to being a leader in sustainability and innovation,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas. “This project is one part of a comprehensive global program to reduce the Bank’s consumption of fossil fuels and shift to more renewable sources of energy. Our goal is to neutralize the Bank’s global CO2 emissions by 2013.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said: “New York City has the most ambitious sustainability plan in the world in part because we’re working with private sector partners to reduce our carbon emissions, rely on cleaner energy sources, and meet the goals of our long-term sustainability program, PlaNYC. Deutsche Bank’s landmark achievement builds upon our shared work to build a greener, greater New York.”

The 60 Wall Street initiative is the third solar project in North America completed by Deutsche Bank, including the two-phase installation of a 1.267 megawatt solar PV system at its Piscataway, NJ, office. Deutsche Bank’s Piscataway solar electric system completed in 2011, has delivered a net-zero electric building. A fourth project of a 1.5 megawatt system is underway at Deutsche Bank’s Parsippany, NJ facility with planned completion later this year.

Demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, Deutsche Bank has increased its use of clean electricity from seven percent to 65 percent globally over the last four years. In the US and Canada, 100 percent of its purchased electricity is generated from wind power. The Bank was recognized as a corporate pioneer and founder of the WindMade label, the first global consumer label that identifies products made with wind energy.

Donauer Solartechnik opens branch in Oman

GILCHING, GERMANY: Specialist distributor Donauer Solartechnik is opening a branch in Muscat, the capital of Oman, on 1 February. The solar company from Gilching near Munich is a partner in the joint venture with Saleh Ahmed Al Badi, who will direct the Donauer branch in Muscat. Previously, he was member of the executive board of Haya Water, one of the desert country's largest companies.

Donauer will build up a sales and service network in Oman and be the first German system houses to train the local customers and employees on site in its own solar academy. The product range of Donauer's new branch includes mobile grid-independent solutions, which are suitable for example for rural areas and industrial or touristic use. A further focus is on turn-key solar power stations for grid feed-in with a performance of up to megawatts.

Co-partner Al Badi values the technological know-how and customer orientation of his partner: "Donauer Solartechnik can look back on years of experience and provides customer-specific, high-quality solutions at an outstanding price."

Expansion in the Gulf region
"The solar market in Oman is very promising," explains Andreas Fornwald, who manages the business area International Large-Scale Projects at Donauer in Gilching. "Besides the outstanding climatic conditions, the convenient infrastructure and the stable political situation, awareness of the importance of climate protection is increasing in politics and society." The sultanate is planning several large investments in the solar field for 2012.

For the first trading year, Fornwald expects to build solar installations with a total performance of five megawatts. The branch in Oman is only the first step on the Arabian peninsula. "Oman is eminently suitable as a base for the expansion of our activities in further markets of the Gulf area," says Fornwald.

ONYX to accept invitation to compete in Philippine energy market

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, USA: Onyx Service and Solutions Inc. announced that its management will be focusing on opportunities to integrate their new Plug-N-Play panel and breakout business model into the Philippine energy market, due to recent developments in the US allied nation.

Tetchi Capellan, founder and spokesperson of Philippine Solar Power Alliance noted that current government plans for increasing energy supply give no attention to the role that ordinary consumers can contribute in increasing the capacity in the Luzon-Visayas grid. The new Plug-N-Play product may be the an opportunity to quickly solve this missing part of the plan.

“(The Plan)…took no notice of the thousands of roofs in urban locations that can accommodate solar systems. If only 10 percent of the rooftops in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, General Santos, and other cities install solar kits, daytime consumption can be covered by solar energy,” Capellan said. “Government can save P1.2 billion as solar displace the expensive diesel-fired power plants.”

“Because of the easy installation designed into the new Plug-N-Play panel, this product could be ideal to immediately solve the 10 percent issue – or even contribute much more,” stated ONYX president, Malcolm Burleson. “After receiving positive international press on the ONYX business model, we have been invited to explore business in the Philippines. If we can find a lucrative way to position the Company there, we plan to take full advantage of it.”

The Plug-N-Play panels that Burleson is speaking of is model number OSPP330-1 and number OSPP330-2. The OSPP330-1 consists of a 330-watt panel, an incorporated micro inverter and standard AC power outlet plug. The OSPP330-2 is identical, with the exception of having a high-capacity lithium battery incorporated into the unit.

What really makes the new Plug-N-Play panels such a game changer in the solar industry is that they are designed for the large “Do-it-Yourself” market. You can literally point the panel at the sun and plug an extension cord directly into the panel for immediate power – alleviating complicated wiring and typical installation requirements.

Eco Environments launches wholesale division

UK: Leading renewable energy company Eco Environments has launched a wholesale division by announcing partnerships with two major German manufacturers. The company has secured prestigious northern regional distributorship agreements with K2 Systems and WINAICO.

K2 Systems develops mounting systems for solar technology, while WINAICO manufactures some of the world’s most advanced solar photovoltaic panels.

David Hunt, a director with Eco Environments, said: “We are thrilled to have been selected by two such prominent solar technology manufacturers as their northern regional distributors. Eco Environments’ new wholesale division complements the other areas of our business and is something we are keen to develop further over the coming months.

“As well as selling all individual panels, inverters and components, the wholesale division will be selling full PV kits for smaller installers, providing technical and design support as part of the service. An online ordering system will be live within weeks, enabling busy installers to order at any time of day or night.”

Stuart Woodman, UK sales manager for K2 Systems, said: “We are pleased to be represented in the Northern region by Eco Environments. We were looking for someone with a good reputation and great experience within the PV market. Partnering with Eco Environments is a great business choice and will enable us to increase our UK market share for solar mounting solutions.”

Gary Fuller, UK sales director for WINAICO, said: “Partnering with Eco Environments was an easy decision. As a business, they are passionate about quality, good service and their reputation. They have a team of professional staff who will be able to provide the UK market with an unrivalled service and ultimately provide solutions for installers without compromising on quality.”

Eco Environments is led by its three directors, Mike Clarke, David Hunt and Mark Buchanan, and employs 54 people. It is on course to increase turnover from £1.4million to £5million during the current financial year and has a head office in Liverpool and further regional offices in Carlisle, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and North Wales.

The four-year-old company designs, installs and commissions renewable energy solutions for the domestic, commercial and construction sectors. It offers a comprehensive range of technologies including Solar Photovoltaic (PV), wind turbines, solar thermal and air source heat pumps. It is one of only a small number of companies to have successfully secured Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditations for all four of its specialist areas.

In addition to its new distributorship agreements with K2 Systems and WINAICO, the company already has an existing relationship with Hyundai Solar to distribute its solar panels to other installers in the UK.

Yingli Green Energy becomes first PV company to obtain product carbon footprint verification from TUV Rheinland Group

BAODING, CHINA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd, one of the world's leading vertically integrated photovoltaic product manufacturers, has accomplished the carbon footprint lifecycle assessment of its multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline PV modules.

The Assessment was conducted according to the international carbon footprint standard PAS 2050:2011, a publicly available specification that provides a method for assessing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of various goods and services. The Assessment was controlled and verified by TUV Rheinland Group, a leading global services provider in the testing of PV modules and components.

Yingli Green Energy is the first company in the global PV sector to obtain Product Carbon Footprint Verification from TUV Rheinland. According to the Assessment, the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacturing phase is significantly less than that will be reduced during the 25-year usage phase.

"As a leading renewable energy company, Yingli Green Energy has long been committed to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility," said Jingfeng Xiong, VP of Yingli Green Energy. "We have gained a comprehensive understanding of the lifecycle emissions of our products, and remain dedicated to ensuring a low energy pay-back period for our modules. As a result, we plan to launch more carbon-neutral products in the future, optimize our energy management systems and keep improving energy efficiency within our manufacturing facilities. With today's Verification from TUV Rheinland, we are able to further support our customers and end users who care about carbon footprint reduction."

"We are pleased to have supported Yingli for the pioneer project in the global PV industry," said Ralf Scheller, CEO of TUV Rheinland Greater China. "We are also impressed by Yingli's strong commitments to corporate social responsibility, carbon emission reduction, environmental protection and sustainable development. With our expertise in carbon management and energy efficiency, TUV Rheinland looks forward to continuously working with Yingli to contribute to the global climate change issue."