Tuesday, April 30, 2013

OREC and Bullfrog Power partner to grow community renewable energy in Ottawa

CANADA: Bullfrog Power, Canada's 100 per cent renewable energy provider, and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative (OREC), a member based organization developing community based renewable energy projects, announced the start of a new partnership to advance renewable energy in the Ottawa region at last night's Solar Soirée.

The OREC event was also the occasion for OREC's announcement that it will be investing in its largest renewable energy project to date.

"Community ownership is a growing trend and a critical aspect of the successful development of new renewable energy projects across the country," said Ron Seftel, senior VP, Operations, Bullfrog Power. "Partnering with OREC is an important part of Bullfrog's commitment to helping advance the renewable energy movement in Canada."

Bullfrog Power uses the collective demand of its customers to support the development of local green energy projects in Canada. Bullfrog Power offers a green electricity and green natural gas choice to homes and businesses across the country. Bullfrog's generators inject clean, renewable energy onto the grid or pipeline to match the amount of power or natural gas bullfrogpowered homes and businesses use. The organization enables Canadians to reduce their environmental impact and support the growth of green energy development in Canada.

Through this unique partnership, Bullfrog will be supporting the growth of renewable energy in the Ottawa region by providing much needed financial support to OREC as they grow their membership and seek out additional renewable energy development opportunities in the community. OREC enables residents in the City of Ottawa to jointly own and invest in renewable energy generation projects in Ottawa and earn a reasonable rate of return.

"The partnership between OREC and Bullfrog is a natural fit," says Roger Peters, OREC's Board president. "OREC provides the opportunity to invest in new renewable energy in your community and Bullfrog provides the option of reducing your environmental impact by choosing 100 per cent renewable energy for your home or business. At the same time, we are both working to bring about a transition to a renewable energy future-and we both agree that this transition starts in the community."

OREC's most recent project is a 26.6 per cent ownership stake in a 250 kW solar rooftop project in Dunrobin, located in the west end of Ottawa. The project is located on a purpose-built storage building and is ideally situated to take full advantage of the sun's energy. The project is a partnership with the micro-utility division of Canadian green real estate development company, Windmill Developments.

Producing green power since mid-February, the solar project is situated close to an outdoor education centre with whom OREC will collaborate to provide an opportunity for high school students to learn about green energy.

The Dunrobin project builds on OREC's recent successes. During its first share offering in the summer of 2012, OREC received nearly $1 million of investment from local Ottawa investors within three months. These successes speak to the high demand for both renewable energy and ethical investment options. In less than two years, OREC has achieved a membership of more than 160 individuals from across Ottawa and aims to grow its membership to 500 by the end of 2013.

With the support of Bullfrog Power, OREC looks to continue to build on these accomplishments, growing its renewable project portfolio, creating a critical mass of members and supporters across the Ottawa region, and ensuring the co-operative's success over the long-term.

What to expect when a smart meter is installed at your home

USA: If you have a meter that records your electric, water or gas usage at home, chances are you’ll be getting a smarter meter soon.

More than 27 million smart meters have already been installed throughout the US as part of a federal energy program to modernize how homes and businesses across the US can use energy more efficiently. Utility Partners of America (UPA), which has helped utilities install millions of water, gas and electric meters in almost every state over the past 16 years, offers tips on what homeowners can expect when someone comes to install a smart meter.

Many customers may not be aware of the many benefits associated with smart meters. The smart electric meter gives more control over electricity usage – some meters allow customers to see how much energy they consume and can use this information to actively manage their daily usage and save on their electricity bill.

Unlike analog meters, smart meters will help utilities continuously identify potential issues “at the box” as well, because they provide two-way communication between the meter and the utility. Smart meters are a critical part of utilities’ efforts to modernize the grid and to give customers more control over their usage, so UPA works hard to make sure smart meters are installed safely at every home.

Customers concerned about privacy will actually benefit from having a smart meter, since utilities are not required to have access to customers’ property to collect meter reads. Instead, the smart meter communicates remotely with the utility.

SolarCity opens largest US operations center in Riverside, California

USA: SolarCity has opened its largest US operations center in Riverside to accommodate growing demand in the Inland Empire.

The 35,000-square-foot facility is staffed by 75 employees and currently has 20 additional job openings, and SolarCity expects to hire 50 additional employees in the area this year. SolarCity has grown to become the largest rooftop distributed energy company in California and in the US by making it possible for customers to install solar panels for free and pay less for renewable, solar electricity than they pay for their utility bills.

“We look forward to creating more local jobs as we expand our services for homeowners and businesses,” said Jim Cahill, SolarCity’s regional VP of operations for Southern California. “Riverside alone has 277 sunny days per year, which is nearly 40 percent more than the national average, so solar power production in the Inland Empire region is excellent.”

SolarCity provides energy services to more than 2,500 customers through its Inland Empire operations center, including Walmart stores in Corona, Temecula, Palm Desert and the Moreno Valley; the Barstow and Murrieta Valley Unified School Districts; the U.S. Bank branch in Rancho Cucamonga; and the First Assembly of God in Lake Elsinore.

New Energy to showcase SolarWindow technology

Advanced Energy 2013, USA: New Energy Technologies Inc. has been selected to present at the Advanced Energy 2013 Conference on May 1st, 2013 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, NY.

New Energy's VP of Business & Technology Development, J. Patrick Thompson, will present his and the company perspectives on improving building efficiency and energy autonomy, and an overview of SolarWindow, a first-of-its-kind technology being developed to enable see-through windows to generate electricity, during the Advanced Photovoltaics-Technology session on Wednesday, May 1st.

Hosted by the Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center, providing innovative energy research, education, and technology deployment, the two-day event will feature keynote addresses and informational sessions focusing on every sector of the energy industry, with special emphasis on several key areas: smart grid, solar, offshore and onshore wind, battery and energy storage and energy cyber-security. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime proponent of energy efficiency and sustainability, and Richard Kaufman, the nationally-prominent energy policy expert recently appointed Energy Chairman for New York State, will keynote the conference.

New Energy Technologies has achieved multiple breakthroughs in developing organic photovoltaic technologies to create electricity-generating, semi-transparent SolarWindow coatings, which will generate electricity on see-through windows. The patent-pending SolarWindow technology utilizes an organic solar array composed of ultra-small solar cells. These cells are fabricated using mostly hydrogen-carbon based materials.

Currently under development for eventual commercial deployment in the estimated 85 million commercial buildings and homes in America, SolarWindow technology is the subject of fourteen (14) patent filings and is the world’s first-of-its-kind technology capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows. The importance of building integrated PV brings focus to the importance of deploying SolarWindow because “building-integrated and building-applied PV are set to achieve a compound annual growth rate of at least 41 percent through 2016.

New Energy Technologies is positioning itself and SolarWindow to becoming the standard for advanced window technology for high performance office buildings and skyscrapers. The replacement or retrofit of the current stock of windows with the advanced SolarWindow may result in an energy offset contribution to the overall energy equation.

Soitec completes ZAR 1,000,000,000 inaugural solar financing bond transaction in South Africa

FRANCE: Soitec, a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials for energy and electronics successfully finalised the ZAR 1,000,000,000 (more than $100 millions) solar financing bond issued by CPV Power Plant No.1 Bond SPV (RF) Ltd, an affiliate of Soitec Solar GmbH.

The bonds will finance the construction of a 44 MWp utility-scale concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant in Touwsrivier, South Africa.

This is the first publicly-listed project bond ever issued to finance a solar power plant based on CPV technology.  In terms of financing solar energy projects, the bond is an inaugural transaction in South Africa and only the third such transaction worldwide.

A consortium comprised of Deloitte & Touche, The Standard Bank of South Africa, Trident Capital and Webber Wentzel Attorneys advised Soitec throughout the transaction, with the bank acting as lead manager, book runner and debt sponsor for the offering.  Moody's, the credit rating agency, confirmed the supportive investment grade rating of Baa2.za assigned to the Touwsrivier project.

Sol Systems and Dow Solar announce strategic alliance to offer financing solutions

USA: Sol Systems and Dow Solar, a business unit within The Dow Chemical Co., announced a strategic alliance to provide turnkey solar renewable energy credit (SREC) solutions for DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles customers.

Dow Solar's customers can now monetize their SRECs through a streamlined process designed by Sol Systems to improve the financial return on their solar investment.

"We are pleased to offer this additional service for our POWERHOUSE customers," said Yochai Gafni, Dow Solar's Market Development director. "POWERHOUSE is a smart home investment, but managing all of the available incentives can be cumbersome for homeowners. The alliance with Sol Systems will enable our POWERHOUSE Authorized Dealers to act as a one-stop shop for solar roofing and SREC management, which will differentiate them in their markets."

Sol Systems will provide Dow Solar customers in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. with the opportunity to lock into SREC contracts. Sol Systems eliminates the administrative burden of monetizing SRECs for its customers and partners by providing access to its proprietary SREC management tool, registering the systems with the necessary state and regulatory bodies, tracking meter readings, and handling all SREC customer service inquiries.

POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles install like traditional roofing shingles but provide solar electricity to power homes. POWERHOUSE is currently available in select US markets through Dow's Authorized builders and roofing contractors.

Saint-Gobain announces strategic initiatives in renewable energy

ENGLAND: An early glimpse into the 2013 Annual Energy Outlook from the US  Energy Information Administration reveals that increased generation from renewable energy is expected to account for 32 per cent of the overall domestic growth in electricity generation from 2011 to 2040.

With this insight and reports of global growth forecasts in renewable energy from both financial and market analysts in mind, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics today announced its strategic initiatives for composite bearings applications in renewable energy markets.

The Bearings and Tolerance Rings Group at Saint-Gobain designs composite bearings solutions that withstand harsh vibration, improve efficiency, extend performance and reduce operational downtime in both solar energy and wind turbine applications.

As part of its strategic focus in renewable energy markets, Saint-Gobain has added the design engineering expertise of Industrial Global Market Manager, Edward Rumble to its team. With his extensive design and engineering experience, Rumble will lead the increasing efforts to develop the next generation of composite bearings for solar and wind applications.

“Renewable energy, fuelled by innovative solar and wind turbine technologies, will prove to be the future of sustainable power generation,” said Rumble. “To help today’s and tomorrow’s leaders in renewable energy production, we are committed to partnering with OEMs to deliver innovative solutions that enhance efficiency in solar and wind applications”.

For the solar market, Saint-Gobain manufactures an innovative, maintenance-free composite bearing. Proprietary fluoropolymer compounds in SOLGLIDE composite bearings increase the long-term operational efficiency of solar equipment, reduce energy usage and decrease long-term costs.

SOLGLIDE composite bearings are specifically designed for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, applied at pivot points in all major tracking systems. Rumble and his team of design engineering experts are currently working on innovative composite configurations for bearings that offer even greater performance for large scale CSP projects.

For the wind turbine market, 2013 will see the introduction of a series of composite bearings solutions from Saint-Gobain. “Our application engineering teams are currently developing the next generation of composite bearings technology for wind turbine applications,” said Rumble. The composite bearings will be able to withstand the harsh vibrations that occur in wind turbine applications while reducing operational downtime. “This is the next step for Saint-Gobain in offering solutions that enhance the production of renewable energy”.

Efforts within the operation of Saint-Gobain are also making significant strides in sustainability. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognised Saint-Gobain with the 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award for Continued Leadership in Energy Conservation for the third consecutive year. Over the last year, the company achieved energy savings of three per cent, equating to avoiding more than 82 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

RenuEn cancels acquisition of Alquimi Solar

USA: RenuEn Corp., a renewable energy development company announced the cancellation of the acquisition of Alquimi Solar, a Saddle Brook, New Jersey based solar and renewable energy development company.

Don Wood, CEO of RenuEn, states: "We have decided to rescind our acquisition of Alquimi Solar due to fundamental differences. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with Alquimi in the future."

Wood added, "I wish Alquimi the best of luck in their pursuit of solar energy projects in the future."

MTS test solution accelerates deployment of energy recovery technology in hybrid-electric vehicle systems

USA: MTS Systems Corp., a leading global supplier of high-performance test systems and position sensors, announced the availability of the MTS 'ERS Test Solution', designed to help automotive companies introduce and optimize Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) in their hybrid-electric vehicles.

This unique test system spans the performance range from Formula One racing to high-volume commercial passenger vehicles, bringing reduced development cycle times and realistic operating conditions to these hybrid vehicle systems.

ERS technologies are the heart of next generation hybrid-electric vehicles, recovering the energy produced by braking and exhaust gas.  Recovered energy is converted to electric power that can be stored or used immediately to boost vehicle power and fuel efficiency.

Successfully integrating ERS technologies into a vehicle platform requires considerable development and complex testing. Leveraging its experience in designing and manufacturing ERS components for Formula 1 racing teams, MTS has developed an accurate and repeatable means of performing such tests, greatly accelerating the process of ERS integration for any given vehicle.

Monday, April 29, 2013

SEMI releases 4Q’12 worldwide PV equipment market statistics report

USA: SEMI, the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the micro- and nano-electronics industries, reported that for the quarter ending December 31, 2012, the worldwide photovoltaic manufacturing equipment book-to-bill ratio remained well below parity, at 0.45, for the seventh consecutive quarter. Booking levels continue to be low as PV manufacturers grapple with oversupply across the supply chain.
Worldwide bookings, which represent net new orders for PV manufacturing equipment, improved 1 percent in Q4’12 compared to the previous quarter; however, Q4’12 bookings were down 48 percent year-over-year. Worldwide billings contracted 15 percent in Q4’12 versus Q3’12. On a year-over-year basis, Q4’12 billings declined 39 percent.

Total billings for the full year 2012 dropped to $2.55 billion or a 59 percent decline from 2011 billings of $6.18 billion. Annual bookings in 2012 totaled $1.31 billion, which is 74 percent below 2011 bookings of $4.97 billion.

On a regional basis, equipment sales were dominated by Asia. For the full year of 2012, Asia represented about 80 percent of total billings.

The worldwide PV equipment billings and bookings data is gathered jointly with the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) from about 50 global equipment companies that provide data on a quarterly basis.

Envision Solar completes first Cadillac solar Tree structure

USA: Envision Solar International Inc., a leading sustainable infrastructure product designer and developer, announced installation of its new Cadillac solar Tree array at Fremont Cadillac Buick GMC.

Energy produced by the installation will go directly back to the dealership. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the consumption of 2,500 gallons of gas, or 52 barrels of oil, on an annual basis.

"The Solar Tree will generate approximately 33,000 kWh of clean energy from a highly architecturally accretive platform," said Desmond Wheatley, president and CEO of Envision Solar. "We've also implemented design enhancements provided by the Cadillac team to make the system uniquely theirs and supportive of the renowned carmaker's brand in a very positive and aesthetically pleasing way."

Installation of the array will lower the dealership's environmental impact while improving the region's built environment.

"It's very exciting to be the first dealership to roll out this initiative," said Jessie Dosanjh, GM of Fremont Cadillac Buick GMC. "Deploying this beautiful and iconic renewable energy landmark reiterates that we understand the wants and needs of the people in the Bay Area and is another example of how we're fulfilling our commitment to the environment. We're proud to take on a leadership role in this movement and encourage other Cadillac dealerships in the country to do the same."

Equipped with integrated electric vehicle charging stations, the Solar Tree array can generate enough renewable energy to charge six electric vehicles each day. Envision Solar's proprietary tracking system, EnvisionTrak, causes the array to follow the sun, capturing more of its energy and increasing electrical output by nearly 25 percent over typical fixed solar installations.

"Our renewable energy strategy goes beyond our company walls," said Mary Alice Kurtz, program manager, Sustainability Initiatives, General Motors. "We encourage all of our partners to explore renewable energy alternatives, whenever possible."

Within the next year, Cadillac will launch the ELR, the first luxury coupe with extended range electric technology.  The Cadillac Solar Tree is available to Cadillac dealers nationwide to support the ELR launch, and to assist in making dealership facilities more energy efficient.

"Fremont Cadillac's solar tree installation is a great individual example of how we're elevating and expanding in the areas of product, technology and customer experience," said Chase Hawkins, Cadillac VP of Sales. "We're the fastest growing full-line luxury brand in the US today, including a 54 percent increase in the San Francisco area."

ET Solar globally launches new module Castor

USA:  ET Solar Group Corp., a leading solar one-stop solution provider, has introduced its upgraded new product ET Binary Star series - Castor, to the global market.

Binary Star Series represents ET's new achievement in terms of enhanced design of the junction box, advanced process technology and improved overall performance. For Castor, the more scientifically designed junction boxes, in accordance with IEC 1500V and UL 1000V standards, will greatly uplift module reliability.

With more rational design, the thermal dissipation of junction boxes can be speeded up, thus ensuring that they work well and guarantee service life. Besides, compared with traditional products, Castor will generate more power thanks to its optimized design, which will keep the module's internal consumption by components down to a minimum.

Dennis She, president and CEO of ET Solar, said: "We're very glad to introduce Castor to the market. We've been working to supply what the customers are really concerned about. We're sure that Castor is the right module the customer is looking for, and we will continuously present more high quality products to power more homes in the future."

MidAmerican Solar and SunPower start major construction on world's largest solar power development

USA: MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp. marked the start of major construction at the Antelope Valley Solar Projects – two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California – with a community celebration.

The 579-megawatt development will employ approximately 650 workers during a three-year construction period; generate more than $500 million in regional economic impact, the majority of which will be generated during construction; and serve California’s growing electricity demand with clean, renewable solar power.

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects make up the world’s largest solar power development under construction. When complete, the projects will provide enough energy to power approximately 400,000 average California homes.

“The Antelope Valley Solar Projects are already creating needed jobs and economic opportunity in local communities, while at the same time, providing direct, long-term environmental benefits,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar.

“We look forward to continuing our involvement in the Rosamond, Lancaster and Palmdale communities and, as we move forward, in the surrounding areas. The MidAmerican Solar team is committed to working hand-in-hand with the development’s neighbors and stakeholders. We also look forward to providing a reliable source of renewable energy to our customer Southern California Edison.”

“The start of construction on the Antelope Valley Solar Projects underscores that solar is a reliable, cost-competitive energy source,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. “SunPower is proud to partner with MidAmerican Solar and Southern California Edison on this historic project, which is bringing critically needed jobs and economic opportunity to California today and will generate abundant clean, renewable power to the state over the long term.”

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects are owned by MidAmerican Solar. SunPower designed and developed the projects and is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor. SunPower also will provide operations and maintenance services for the plants via a multiyear services agreement.

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects will provide renewable energy to Southern California Edison under two long-term power purchase contracts.

At the 3,230-acre site, SunPower is installing the SunPower Oasis power plant product, fully integrated, modular solar technology that is engineered to rapidly deploy utility-scale solar projects while minimizing land use. The Oasis product uses high-efficiency SunPower solar panels mounted on SunPower T0 Trackers, which position the panels to track the sun during the day, increasing energy capture by up to 25 percent. Construction began in January 2013 and is expected to be complete by year-end 2015.

Electricity generated by the projects will displace approximately 775,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of taking approximately 3 million cars off the road over the next 20 years.

Friday, April 26, 2013

NREL quantifies significant value in CSP

USA: Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have quantified the significant value that concentrating solar power (CSP) plants can add to an electric grid.

The NREL researchers evaluated the operational impacts of CSP systems with thermal energy storage within the California electric grid managed by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). NREL used a commercial production cost model called PLEXOS to help plan system expansion, to evaluate aspects of system reliability, and to estimate fuel cost, emissions, and other operational factors within the CAISO system.

The analysis is detailed in a recent publication, Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33 percent Renewable Scenario, by Paul Denholm, Yih-Huei Wan, Marissa Hummon, and Mark Mehos.

NREL’s analysis was considered within the context of California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires 33% of power be supplied by renewables by 2020. The specific focus was on the “Environmentally Constrained” 33 percent RPS scenario, which includes a high contribution of generation from photovoltaic solar energy systems.

By also considering how the state could take advantage of CSP with thermal storage, NREL used the PLEXOS model to quantify the value of CSP in reducing the need for conventional power generation from fossil fuels, and compared this value to other sources of generation, including photovoltaics, which supply variable energy depending on the amount of sunlight available.

To perform this analysis, NREL senior analyst, Paul Denholm explains, “We created a baseline scenario, then added four types of generators—a baseload generator with constant output, a photovoltaic system, a CSP plant providing dispatchable energy – or power that can be turned on or off on demand -- and another CSP plant providing both energy and operating reserves.”

The analysis demonstrated several valuable properties of dispatchable CSP, such as its ability to generate power during high-value periods when electricity demand is high, and its capability to be turned off during lower-value periods. Of key interest, NREL found that significant operational value is derived when CSP is allowed to provide reserve power, including frequently operating at less than full load, which would be a substantial change in operational practice.

Mark Mehos, manager of NREL’s CSP Program, emphasizes a couple other conclusions from their analysis: “CSP plants switched on during periods of highest consumer demand for electricity resulted in very high capacity value. And the difference in value in CSP plants with and without thermal energy storage depends greatly on the amount of other variable-generation renewable energy sources on the grid, such as wind and photovoltaics.”

NREL’s study has helped to develop approaches that can be used by utilities and system planners to incorporate CSP in standard planning tools. It has also quantified the value of adding thermal storage to CSP in a scenario of high levels of renewable energy in California.

Sharp develops solar cell with world's highest conversion efficiency of 37.9 percent

JAPAN: Sharp Corp. has achieved the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 37.9 percent using a triple-junction compound solar cell in which three photo-absorption layers are stacked together.

Sharp achieved this latest breakthrough as a result of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) on the theme of "R&D on Innovative Solar Cells." Measurement of the value of 37.9 percent, which sets a new record for the world's highest conversion efficiency, was confirmed at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

Compound solar cells utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium. The basic structure of this latest triple-junction compound solar cell uses proprietary Sharp technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer.

By optimizing the relative proportions of indium, gallium, and arsenide, Sharp succeeded in increasing the efficiency with which the cell absorbs sunlight at its various wavelengths. This improvement enabled Sharp to achieve the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 37.9 percent.

Sharp's aim for the future is to apply this latest development success to concentrator photovoltaic power systems that use lenses to collect and convert sunlight into electricity. The company also foresees numerous other practical applications for the cells, such as on space satellites and vehicles.

JPEC lists ReneSola solar module as qualified for Japan market

JAPAN: ReneSola Ltd announced its 125-square monocrystalline module has been listed by the Japan Photovoltaic Expansion Center (JPEC) as qualified for the Japan market.

JPEC-listed products are eligible to receive installation subsidies from the Japanese government, meet Japan's high-quality standards and safety requirements and are fully compatible with the country's electric grid.

In order to obtain JPEC listing, ReneSola partnered with local suppliers to provide a PV home kit solution that includes 125-square and 156-square monocrystalline modules with an inverter, monitor and racking system to the Japan market. JPEC listing is expected for additional ReneSola products, including the company's 156-square monocrystalline module and 250 W poly module, in the near future.

Xianshou Li, ReneSola's CEO, said: "JPEC listing is considered the biggest hurdle for a foreign company entering Japan's residential solar market. Now that we are listed, we can invest more heavily in the Japan market and capitalize on the country's energy buy-back program, which focuses heavily on solar power. By partnering with local suppliers, we are confident that we can deliver high-efficiency products and localized household renewable energy solutions to the Japan market."

LDK Solar signs second share purchase agreement with Fulai Investments

CHINA & USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd has entered into a share purchase agreement dated April 25, 2013 with Fulai Investments Ltd.

Fulai Investments has agreed to purchase additional 25,000,000 newly issued ordinary shares of LDK Solar, at a purchase price of $1.03 per share with an aggregate purchase price of $25,750,000, subject to the terms and conditions of the share purchase agreement, including a lock-up for 180 days from the closing date of the contemplated transactions.

The share purchase price reflects an 8 percent discount to the five-day average share price.

Pursuant to the share purchase agreement, the parties will endeavor to fulfill the closing conditions to consummate the transactions prior to June 28, 2013. Fulai Investments has agreed to pay LDK Solar in two installments prior to the closing: the first in May for $15,000,000 and the second in June for $10,750,000.

Fulai Investments also has the right to designate two non-executive directors to the LDK Solar board upon consummation of the transaction.  The net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes in LDK Solar's operations.

Stellar Solar activates 285kW Cedars-Sinai solar installation

USA: Stellar Solar, one of California's leading commercial and residential solar integrators since 1998, added to their impressive resume of high profile commercial projects with the recent activation of a solar carport system that is part of Cedars-Sinai's new Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion.

The system incorporates 1,190 
240-watt panels in multiple locations atop the parking structure adjacent to the pavilion. Graycor Construction Company, the general contractor on the project, selected Stellar Solar based on their experience with large scale carports.

The solar installation is one of many "green" aspects of the design of the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, which is designed to meet the requirements of a Gold Certified structure under the US Green Building Council LEED Program.

"The system installed by Stellar Solar is an important part of the building's focus on environmental sustainability," said Peter Golerkansky, associate director of Engineering at Cedars-Sinai. Stellar Solar, which designed and installed the system for Graycor Construction Company and Cedars-Sinai, is a global provider of turn-key solar energy solutions.

Kent Harle, founder and CEO of Stellar Solar said: "This was a very exciting project to be a part of. Working with two internationally respected brands like Graycor Construction Company and Cedars-Sinai was a great experience. Both of those organizations are demonstrating leadership when it comes to business practices that are sustainable and fiscally prudent."

Besides Cedars-Sinai, Stellar Solar has completed commercial solar installations for U.S. Foodservice, Salk Institute, Vandenberg Air Force Base, San Diego Cardiac Center, City of Tustin and Los Angeles Mission College in addition to over 800 residential installations.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

SunEdison, Fox Energy sign solar module manufacturing services agreement

USA: SunEdison, a leading global solar energy services provider and a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. announced that its affiliate, MEMC Singapore, entered into a photovoltaic module manufacturing services agreement with Fox Energy, the photovoltaic solar business subsidiary of Foxconn Technology, whereby Fox Energy will manufacture up to 350 megawatts (MW) of solar modules for SunEdison. The modules will be produced in a manufacturing facility located in Juarez, Mexico.

The agreement is part of SunEdison's virtual vertically integrated business strategy leveraging the manufacturing expertise of partners like Fox Energy and enabling SunEdison to bring high quality solar modules to market while continuing to reduce levelized cost of energy (LCOE).

"We're thrilled to partner with Fox Energy to produce our Silvantis family of solar modules," said Gokul Krishnan, GM of SunEdison's solar module business unit. "Fox Energy's global footprint allows SunEdison to manufacture modules near our high growth end-markets which helps us keep costs down while meeting local content requirements."

As of December 31, 2012, SunEdison had interconnected over 989 MW of solar energy and had a pipeline of 2.6 GW. This relationship with Fox Energy  will assist  SunEdison in its global expansion.

"SunEdison's collaborative photovoltaic module supply agreement demonstrates our customer's recognition of Fox Energy quality, continuous technological enhancements and best-in-class after-sales services," said Dr. Jeffrey Lu, president of Fox Energy. "Our automated PV module manufacturing process and stringent quality controls will help SunEdison meet the high standards their customers have come to expect."

The relationship between Fox Energy and SunEdison was facilitated in conjunction with the Borderplex Alliance, a bi-national economic alliance.

International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance founded

USA: The newly founded alliance plans to support and enable co-operation between companies from the fields of solar energy production, electrical energy storage and smart grid technologies.

Together, the members of the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) will create access to professional resources, market intelligence, new networks, and emerging markets. Over 70 members of the International PV Equipment Association (IPVEA) will immediately benefit from this strong partnership.

According to experts, the market for solar energy storage technologies presents a highly viable future market for all providers from the solar energy production and smart grid technology sectors.

Huge potentials lie in the cost-efficient storage of renewable energy and the development of new and intelligent power networks. Only through the connection of renewable energy production systems with appropriate storage technologies will it become possible to use this clean energy at any time. The main aim of the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance is to promote this developing field of industry by providing market information, networking opportunities and economic support.

"A strong, industry-wide alliance of global players like the IBESA is crucial in order to unify the fragmented electrical energy storage and smart grid markets, as well as to prepare and sustainably position them for the future," says CEO and managing partner of EuPD Research Markus A.W. Hoehner.

"The international alliance is based on cooperation between various branches and the exchange between IPVEA and new IBESA members. Our established goal is to promote the photovoltaics and electrical energy storage market and provide real benefits for our member companies," adds Managing Director Bryan D. Ekus of IPVEA.

The International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance was be led by Bryan D. Ekus, MD of IPVEA - International PV Equipment Association - and Markus A.W. Hoehner, CEO and managing partner of EuPD Research.

As MD of IPVEA, Ekus provides comprehensive experience and knowledge in promoting the interests of and working within associations and industry networks. Through the market research company EuPD Research and the consulting firm 360|Consult, Hoehner brings with him more than 10 years of business experience within the solar energy branch and other areas of the renewable business sector. For the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance, these partners have combined their expertise in order to provide members with exclusive entry opportunities, in-depth market information and intense exchange between fellow members, industry, business and politics.

The association is also supported by the German CleanTech Institute (DCTI), the leading economic institute for the CleanTech sector in Germany, the networking initiative Joint Forces for Solar and Intersolar, the leading organizer of trade fairs in the solar industry.

Kyocera and ProVision Solar help auto businesses in Hawai'i say Aloha to renewable energy

HAWAII: Kyocera Solar Inc. announced that it supplied Kyocera solar modules to ProVision Solar that will power a total of eight auto businesses on the Big Island of Hawai’i, making it one of the greenest enterprises on the island.

Along with beautiful beaches and lush rainforests, Hawai’i also has some of the nation’s highest electricity rates. Depending on a business’ size and power consumption, current rates are between 37 and 47 cents per kilowatt-hour.

With such high rates and the availability of federal and state tax credits to offset the purchase of photovoltaic systems, solar is the smart choice for Hawaiian businesses and homeowners. While the cost of grid electricity will likely continue to rise, a solar photovoltaic (PV) system guarantees greater consistency in fixed cost structures.

“Since December 2012 we’ve installed a combined total of 234.7kW on four of these businesses’ rooftops, which are already producing clean, renewable electricity from the abundant Hawaiian sunshine,” said Marco Mangelsdorf, president of ProVision Solar. “The real-world performance of these roof-mounted systems, which produce up to 100 percent of the power needs of the businesses, have made true believers of the owners.”

The PV systems atop Kama’aina Motors; Kama’aina Nissan; Parts Center Hawai’i, Captain Cook; and Parts Center Hawai’i, Kamuela are fully operational, with the remaining four installations, Hilo Used Cars; Parts Center Hawai’i, Hilo; Kona Nissan; and Kona Chrysler scheduled for installation during 2013.

Wanting to work with a local, experienced Big Island-based integrator and a veteran PV module manufacturer with decades of proven success, the business owners chose ProVision Solar Inc. and Kyocera solar modules for all eight facilities.

“ProVision Solar is Hawai’i’s oldest brick-and-mortar pure PV company and has a strong understanding of Kyocera's history in solar with a reputation for reliability and efficiency,” said Steve Hill, president, Kyocera Solar. “The solar modules for these eight installations will allow these businesses to reduce one of the high costs of doing business on Hawai'i for the next 20 years or more, while also helping to preserve the environment of this beautiful island.”

Renewable Solutions installs turbine for RSPCA centre to help cut energy bills

UK: An RSPCA animal centre will dramatically slash its energy costs after the installation of an 18-metre wind turbine.

The centre in Brent Knoll, Somerset, called in Merseyside-based Renewable Solutions to carry out a site assessment and advise staff on their options.

Renewable Solutions, one of the UK’s leading green energy specialists, recommended a small-scale 11kW wind turbine to help the centre combat annual electricity costs of around £10,000. David Hunt, head of Commercial at Renewable Solutions, said: “We carried out the initial site assessment and handled all design and planning matters before installation could go ahead.

“We estimate that the wind turbine will ultimately produce half of the electricity used by the centre and help to significantly reduce their annual running costs.”

Rita Hinton, Branch secretary of the North Somerset Animal Centre, said: “The welfare of the animals in our care is of prime importance and, if the temperature drops below a certain level, the heating automatically switches on and is a massive cost to us.

“We appointed Renewable Solutions after researching the market for suitably qualified experts. The company advised us on the best option and then carried out the installation during an incredibly poor period of weather which threw floods, snow and sub-zero temperatures at us.

“Everything ran smoothly without any fuss or inconvenience. The centre operated as usual throughout and the company was careful to arrange their work to limit the impact on staff and animals.

“We are now advising other RSPCA centres on our installation in the hope that more projects can be completed.”

Renewable Solutions has its head office in Bromborough, Merseyside, and employs more than 40 full-time staff. The company, which was founded in 2008, provides domestic and commercial customers with a comprehensive range of renewable energy solutions including turbines, solar PV, solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass.

In addition to the RSPCA project, it has also recently carried out a number of commercial renewable energy projects for clients in the hotel, leisure, agricultural and construction sectors.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Standard Solar installs fourth aggregate net-metered solar system in Kent County at Fairlee Lagoons

USA: Standard Solar Inc., a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems, has completed the installation of an 809.4 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Fairlee Lagoons in Kent County, Maryland.

Funding for the Fairlee Lagoons solar array was arranged by Urban Grid Holdings, LLC, (Urban Grid) a Stevensville, MD-based organization that specializes in the development and financing of solar projects.

This is the fourth in a series of installations developed by Standard Solar, in Kent County, which serve to produce clean, renewable energy for municipal facilities. It is also the first system in the State of Maryland to take advantage of the newly expanded Aggregate Net Energy Metering regulations allowing the total number of meters aggregated to be increased from six meters to twenty meters.

“Kent County has made great strides with its commitment to solar energy, while also setting a precedent in the state for using aggregate net-metering,” said Scott Wiater, President of Standard Solar. “The leaders here have shown tremendous foresight in championing these community solar projects, as they move away from fossil fuels and toward creating a clean energy future for their constituents, all while realizing significant savings on energy costs.”

The system, built on the former site of the wastewater lagoons, will power 16 wastewater pumping stations located throughout Kent County. The approximately 1,100 MW hours of electricity it is expected to produce annually is enough to power about 117 average-sized American homes, offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 88,000 gallons of gasoline. The PV array provides Kent County with an electricity rate that is competitive with current market prices while also providing the county with rate visibility, predictability and cost savings for years to come.

“We continue to see the adoption of power purchase agreements for municipalities and government institutions as not only an environmentally responsible decision, but also as an effective budgetary plan to stabilize operational costs,” said Matt Hankey, senior VP for Urban Grid. “We commend Kent County for taking the necessary steps to integrate this solar PV array with their existing sources of energy and further promote renewable energy projects in Maryland.”

In addition to the Fairlee Lagoons array, three other solar projects have been completed in Kent County over the last year - Rock Hall, Worton and Kennedyville - providing more than 4MW of solar power.

AEG Power Solutions helps improve performance of mobile base stations to support 4G/LTE implementation

USA: AEG Power Solutions announced the availability of its new eighth-brick CME02, completing the range of board-mount power products designed specifically for RF power amplifiers.

The CME02 complements the CMH12 half-brick and the CMF21 and CMF25 full-brick products already available from AEG PS. All of these products incorporate features that support the very competitive marketplace for 4G/LTE wireless base stations as operators deploy new infrastructure to keep pace with consumer demand.

These products provide voltage regulation using a high performance control loop that responds extremely quickly and can fully stabilize the output voltage within less than 300µs even after a load transient of 50 percent. The output voltage can be trimmed over a wide range to precisely match the RF amplifier needs and optimize RF performance.

The trim input also allows the voltage to be reduced during periods of low traffic to further improve overall system efficiency. These products are suitable for use in a sealed enclosure mounted on the antenna tower and feature a built-in baseplate for conduction cooling, allowing full power delivery at up to 100°C. The efficiency is greater than 91% which minimizes excess heat in the enclosure and an optimized single-board design offers a highly reliable solution.

The full brick and half brick products are ideal for macro BTS and remote radio head applications, where they provide clean DC power at up to 700W from either 48V or 24V input. Industry trends are toward smaller cell sites to provide improved coverage in urban areas, using combinations of micro BTS, pico cells and similar small systems.
There is a corresponding demand for high performance RF amplifiers with lower RF output levels and the CME02 is designed for these types of applications, with up to 80W dc power from 48V input.

In addition to this range of standard products, AEG PS manufactures a large number of custom and semi-custom solutions for RF or other specific applications, operating from either AC or DC input. By leveraging from existing product platforms, AEG PS can develop custom solutions that offer the lowest system cost while delivering outstanding performance and reliability.

JA Solar commences mass production of metal wrap-through solar cells

CHINA: JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd has commenced mass production of metal wrap-through (MWT) solar cells.

The company's MWT monocrystalline and multicrystalline cells have an average conversion efficiency of 19.6 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively, and a peak conversion efficiency of 20 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively.

By moving the emitter contact from the front to the rear of the cell via  laser-drilling and plug paste printing, MWT technology reduces the metallized area on the front side, increasing overall conversion efficiency. When assembled into modules, MWT cells require no welding and are therefore subject to lower power loss and a lower cell-breakage rate.

"MWT is at the core of the next generation of module technology, and represents a significant breakthrough in terms of power output and conversion efficiency," said Yong Liu, CTO of JA Solar. "Mass production of MWT cells marks a significant milestone in JA Solar's ongoing technological leadership in the global solar industry."

First Solar sells 139 MW Campo Verde solar project

USA: First Solar Inc. has sold the 139-megawattAC (MW) Campo Verde Solar Project to Southern Co. subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy.

Under the terms of the agreement, First Solar will complete construction of the project and will operate and maintain the power plant for 10 years. Construction of the Campo Verde project began in December 2012 and commercial operation is expected in fall 2013.

The Campo Verde project is located on a 1,443-acre site in Imperial County, Calif. and is expected to generate enough clean electricity to power nearly 48,000 homes, displacing 80,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road. San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) will purchase the project's output under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

According to an independent study conducted for Imperial County, the Campo Verde Solar Facility will have an economic impact to the Imperial County, Calif., area totaling about $239 million over the next 30 years. It is expected to contribute $17.5 million in local tax revenue and employ an average of 250 workers during construction.

Campo Verde is the second project First Solar has designed and constructed for Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy. In 2010, First Solar sold the 30 MWAC Cimarron I Solar Project, adjacent to Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico, to the partnership.

“We are pleased that Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy have once again chosen a First Solar project to add to their renewable energy portfolio,” said James F. Cook, First Solar director of Project Development. “The Campo Verde project is another state-of-the-art design which seamlessly integrates First Solar’s advanced thin-film solar modules with our leading power plant controls and grid-integration technology. By leading the project from development through engineering, construction and operations, we are able to offer the highest performance and greatest reliability.”

“Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy are continuing our successful partnership with the acquisition of First Solar’s 139-MW Campo Verde Solar Project,” said Oscar Harper, president and CEO of Southern Power. “First Solar was the developer of our partnership’s first venture – the Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico – and we’re pleased to expand our joint efforts through our largest solar acquisition to date.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. First Solar does not expect to recognize revenue prior to commercial operation of the plant.

P2 Solar to build solar PV rooftop project

BRITISH COLUMBIA: P2 Solar Inc. announced the construction of a state of the art solar rooftop PV system for Canada Ticket Inc., at their office and warehouse complex based in British Columbia in Langley.

This project will be the first in Canada for P2 Solar and of the larger single solar PV project ever connected to the Provincial grid, which is operated by B.C. Hydro.

P2 Solar has designed an advanced 53 KWp solar PV system based on the equipment standards of the Ontario feed-in-tariff program.

"Engineering and planning work has been completed and we expect to install and commission the system this spring. This marks a turning point for the company transitioning from R&D to revenue producing projects," says Bali Randhawa, COO of P2 Solar.

Canada Ticket will assume ownership of the facility but P2 Solar will continue to provide operations and maintenance service. Surplus power will be fed into B.C. Hydro's grid under the latter's net-metering program.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

European solar module prices rise for first time in four years

USA: Reflecting a major shift in the global solar market after four years of severe erosion, prices for photovoltaic (PV) modules in the key European market are rising due to number of factors—including the newly restored balance between supply and demand.

The average selling price (ASP) for Chinese crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules shipped to the European Union increased by 4 percent in March, the first monthly rise since January 2009, according to the IHS iSuppli PV Module Price Tracker. Prices are set to rise by another 1 percent in April and by an average of 4 percent during the next three months.

“For years, solar module manufacturers have contended with profit-killing market conditions characterized by oversupply and rapidly falling prices,” said Glenn Gu, senior analyst at IHS.

“Now, with clear signs that the balance between supply and demand is correcting, prices have stopped their decline and have begun to rise. This is mostly good news, because sales are increasing from Asia, causing worldwide demand to catch up with supply. On the other hand, prices also are rising because of antidumping legislation in the European Union, which is negatively impacting sales for Chinese suppliers.”

Europe is the world’s largest solar market, accounting for 57 percent of global installations in 2012.

The good news and the bad news
The rise in worldwide demand is arising from booming sales in China and Japan. Both countries at present are soaking up massive volumes of modules, helping boost worldwide pricing.

Japan commands a particularly high module ASP, which is pulling up pricing in Europe and worldwide.

Meanwhile in China, the government is expected to reduce its feed-in tariff (FIT), which serves to incentivize solar installations and drive the sales of modules. The Chinese incentive is spurring faster adoption of solar systems while the FIT terms are still attractive.

However, as part of its antidumping action, the EU in early March commenced compulsory registration for imported Chinese solar products. This made many Chinese suppliers unwilling to ship or clear modules through customs to the region. In turn, the development triggered a significant solar module shortage in major European markets such as Germany and the United Kingdom.

Along with increasing administrative costs, the phenomenon has driven up prices in Europe.

Positive momentum
The upward price pressure is expected to continue, although the rate of increase is slowing in April compared to March as the rising price starts to dampen demand.

However, looking further ahead into May and June, Chinese module prices in the EU are expected to climb rapidly, driving up overall average module prices globally.

With many Chinese module suppliers cutting back shipments or withdrawing from the market ahead of the preliminary EU solar anti-dumping decision to be announced in early June, the module shortage in Europe is expected to intensify. Average Chinese module prices by the end of May are expected to rise from 5 to 6 percent compared to March, reaching $0.691/Wp or EUR 0.53/Wp.

Tiers of joy
All told, pricing is on the increase from Chinese suppliers of all tiers.

For instance, prices of Tier 1 Chinese suppliers grew by 2.3 percent during the month of March2013, while the average prices of second- and third-tier Chinese suppliers went up by 2.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, during the same period.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Showa Shell, partners to build solar power plant at airport

JAPAN: A unit of Japanese refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and Development Bank of Japan will build a solar power station with New Kansai International Airport Co.

The station at Kansai International Airport near Osaka in western Japan will have 11.6 megawatts in capacity and is expected to start running early next year, the companies said in a statement today.

This is the first project of a venture between Showa Shell’s Solar Frontier K.K. and DBJ, set up in January to invest in solar projects in Japan, according to the statement.

Solar Frontier will supply solar panels and operation and maintenance services, while DBJ will support financial structuring for the project, the companies said. Airport land and buildings for the project will be provided by New Kansai.

Leviton expands VerifEye submetering line

USA: Leviton announced the expansion of its revenue-grade line of VerifEye submeters with the addition of the Series 3300 and Series 3500 models.

Featuring advanced communication protocols, these highly accurate 0.5 percent accuracy-class kWh/demand meters enable tracking, monitoring and verification of real-time energy usage in commercial and industrial environments. Both meters deliver universal voltage performance and easily integrate with building management systems.

Ideal for typical 3-phase, 3-wire (Delta) and 3-phase, 4-wire (WYE) circuits applications, VerifEye Series 3300 and 3500 provide kVA, kVAR, PF and per-phase voltage mea­surements. Both models feature time of use (TOU) readings and a user-friendly LCD display which provides quick, easy visualization of power status and signal strength.

The meters are designed for installation in facilities seeking to implement a comprehensive energy management program where the ability to benchmark, load shed, allocate costs and efficiently bill tenants, as well as comply with green building programs and government mandates, is desirable.

"The extreme accuracy of the Leviton VerifEye Series 3300 and 3500 smart meters makes them ideal for identifying how and where energy is being used throughout commercial and industrial facilities," said Richard Westfall, VP and GM, Leviton Lighting & Energy Solutions.
"We have designed these new models to help facility managers implement a comprehensive energy conservation program as part of a strategy to achieve cost reduction and improve building performance."

The Series 3300 meter uses RS-485 and Modbus RTU integration for easy configuration to BACNet MS/TP building automation system networks. The Ethernet-enabled Series 3500 provides easy configuration for Modbus TCP/IP building automation systems.

Both models come standard with an isolated pulse output for an additional communication capability. Their seamless integration with Leviton's BillSuite software, third-party billing systems, as well as utility company gas, steam and water meters provides a comprehensive system for implementing facility-wide energy management and cost reduction programs.

Solar PV module revenues to rebound to $32 billion by 2017

USA: Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry module revenues are forecast to decline 20 percent in 2013 to $20.5 billion from $25.5 billion in 2012. While revenues will remain below 2012 levels during 2013 and 2014, they are set to increase from 2015 onward. According to the NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013 report, PV module revenue is expected to reach $32 billion by 2017.

Confidence in the solar PV industry was severely damaged in 2012, as module average selling prices (ASPs) declined approximately 50 percent Y/Y, while end-market demand grew only 5 percent. This mismatch placed extreme pressure on the solar PV manufacturing sector, which had expanded its capacity during 2010 and 2011 to potentially supply 45 GW to an end-market that reached only 29 GW in 2012.

“Manufacturing over-capacity and declining revenues had a dramatic impact on the PV industry in 2012, and this trend will continue during 2013,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Share values of several publicly listed PV companies have been falling close to delisting levels, operating losses have been reported in the hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and many manufacturers are continuing to file for insolvency. Predicting how and when the solar PV industry will rebound to profitability has now become essential for all industry participants.”
NPD Solarbuzz predicts further consolidation in the solar PV manufacturing sector through 2014, providing opportunities for market share gains. Module ASPs will continue to decline at a slower rate than in the last two years, which will provide an opportunity for leading module suppliers to implement cost reduction steps and create a profitable environment when the end-market demand approaches 46 GW in 2015.

“Surviving the downturn phase of 2013 and 2014 remains the key objective for all solar PV manufacturers,” Barker noted. “Module suppliers with profitable business models will emerge as market leaders. In 2015, they can expect an industry that offers strong growth and revenue potential, which should restore confidence in the PV manufacturing sector and lead to further investments in new capacity and next-generation technologies.”

China’s policy shift in 2013 to stimulate on-grid installations and address abandoned power issues

TAIWAN: EnergyTrend , a research division of TrendForce , indicated in their “Silver Member Report” that considering China’s actual demand for solar power in 2013 (4.5GW-6GW) and demands brought by the Golden Sun Program subsidy plan as well as PV plants in Western China in 2012, the 2013 total grid-connected power could be up to 10GW.

Although the government set a 10GW target at the beginning of 2013, the actual demand will be only 4.5~6GW; therefore, the Chinese market may not be able to consume 10GW modules this year.

Nevertheless, considering the global actual demand, China is still one of the world’s top three solar markets (accounting for around 17 percent of the global market).
According to TrendForce, the Asian solar market will rise in 2013; Japan, India, and emerging countries in Southeast Asia have all showed an increase in demands, and China, with its significant potential , is more likely to stimulate demands compared with European countries such as Germany and Italy. Therefore, China’s policy shift will be the major force that affects the global supply and demand.

To solve abandoned power issues, Chinese government purchases power instead of implementing the Golden Sun program
China’s solar installation demands mainly come from large-scale solar power plants, photovoltaic buildings, and the Golden Sun Program demonstration project. Though the total demand from the above three sources could be up to 12GW, the actual demand was disappointing.

Projects approved by the government are concentrated in the second half of the year when climatic factors usually affect the construction progress; the grid standard and subsidy policy were just settled in the fourth quarter of last year, which shakes customers’ confidence and hinders the business; companies did not receive subsidy after installing grid-connected systems, so they are not able to launch new projects. Due to the above reasons, grid installations in the market have been delayed.
In order to solve abandoned power issues caused by unsuccessful grid installations (installed systems that fail to generate grid-connected power), the Chinese government has currently terminated the Golden Sun Program subsidy plan (a subsidy for system construction) and instead started to purchase power with the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of solar power systems.

They plan to invest mainly in distributed systems and western large-scale power plants in 2013. On the other hand, in order to make up for the financial gap caused by previous solar installations, China's Ministry of Finance announced that starting at the end of March, they will pre-allocate subsidies for renewable energy and issue a capital of 2.43 billion RMB (16 percent of the total renewable power subsidy) for solar installations.

TrendForce indicated that because plans for improving solar system installations were first set in 2012, numerous issues regarding the process are yet to be resolved. In 2013, however, as supporting measures of the central policy, local governments, and grid companies become more effective, China’s on-grid installations may top their past record.

In addition, Chinese government  should invest more in the supply chain by announcing market access requirement, encouraging M&A, reducing local government intervention, and distributing capital according to the market mechanism. Only when a balance is reached between supply and demand will the global solar industry recover from the market downturn.
TrendForce further indicated that although the increased Chinese market demands have attracted more foreign companies, with the advantage of low-priced products, Chinese manufacturers still acquired most of the Chinese market.

First-tier manufacturer Yingli, for example, plans to increase the number of shipments to China in 2013 by approximately 40 percent (accounting for approximately 23 percent of their total number of shipments); Trina’s shipments to China will increase from 2012’s 12.9 percent to 15-20 percent (percentage based on their total amount of shipments); 35 percent of Jinko’s modules will be shipped to China.

It is clear that Chinese manufacturers will still be the ones that benefit the most from the 10GW grid power demand brought by China’s policy.

NI and Prolucid put green energy on the Canadian grid

USA: National Instruments has partnered with Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc. (LocalGrid) to build the next-generation energy management system for Toronto Hydro-Electric System Ltd.

Funded by nearly $2.5 million in grants from Canada's ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative and Ontario's Smart Grid Fund, the project takes advantage of distributed intelligence technology to manage renewable energy generated by the community onto the power grid.

In addition to allowing for increased generation capacity, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the integrated platform can improve reliability and efficiency across the electric power system.

The LocalGrid solution addresses an unexpected challenge created by clean energy incentives. Due to the country's vast size, cold climate and expansive economy, Canada has one of the highest rates of per capita energy consumption in the world.

To promote conservation and efficiency, the federal and provincial governments provide rebates to households and businesses for renewable energy installations. In some areas, the boom in solar panels and wind turbines actually generate more power than the existing infrastructure can handle, resulting in valuable electricity being wasted.

Toronto Hydro, the largest municipal electric utility in Canada, is working with LocalGrid to develop a distributed approach for managing generation without requiring expensive new power lines or capital equipment. LocalGrid's software uses CompactRIO devices installed on the grid to control and monitor community generation sources.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Draft guidelines for selection of 750 MW new grid connected solar power projects under batch-I

INDIA: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India has added the draft guidelines for setting up of 750 MW grid solar PV power projects with viability gap funding (VGF) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), Phase-II, Batch-I.

All concerned stakeholders are invited to send their valuable comments/ suggestions on the same by 30th April 2013 to facilitate finalization of the guidelines.

Selection of projects in the VGF scheme of Phase-II Batch-I
a) Based on the notification issued by SECI, the financial bid will be submitted separately by the developer. They will clearly indicate the per MW VGF required from SECI in Indian Rupees.

b) After financial bids are opened, these will be arranged in ascending order of per MW VGF. The lowest VGF bid will be identified and marked L1. The lowest bid without claim of AD will be identified and marked L1A.

c) Selection of projects for allotment will start from L1 and go up to the level where 750 MW is reached or L1A bid price plus 10 percent is reached, whichever is earlier. In case L1A bid price plus 10 percent is reached and 750 MW capacity does not get allotted then the bidders over L1A plus 10 percent will be given an offer to match L1A plus 10 percent within 15 days from the offer.

d) In case the bidders matching L1A plus 10 percent is more than the left out capacity, then the bidders having the lowest original bids will be allotted project till the capacity of 750 MW is reached.

Planning Europe's future electricity highways

BELGIUM: A European research consortium, supported in part by the European Commission, has launched the e-Highway2050 project with the aim of developing a long-term planning methodology for the necessary expansion and conversion of the European electricity transmission grids.

The resulting approach will propose a Modular Development Plan for the pan-European transmission network from 2020 to 2050. The development of an integrated European electricity market emphasises the importance of increasing interconnections between existing and future transmission networks.

This research project paves the way for an integrated pan-European grid, able to meet European commitments such as integrating large quantities of electric power generated by renewable energy sources (wind, biomass and solar) and transporting it over long distances to consumption sites. Such a complex and networked transmission system at a pan-European level raises interest in the innovative concept of "electricity highways".

The e-Highway2050 partnership comprises transmission systems operators, energy associations, a non-governmental organisation, research institutes, universities and companies coming from all over Europe.

Today, the Ten Years Network Development Plan - TYNDP - drawn up by the European Network of Transmission Systems Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) is the basis for the expansion and conversion of the European electricity grid: it pinpoints potential investment gaps within the next ten years and highlights technological and socio-economical approaches to reach the energy aims of the EU policy.

The e-Highway2050 research project plans to develop an appropriate methodology for longer-term horizons and to guarantee sustainable and economically advantageous development.

In this context, the e-Highway2050 research project examines framework conditions and develops solutions for planning the European electricity grid expansion from 2020 to 2050, and involving several growth and energy scenarios for Europe. Key stakeholders from all over Europe are invited to discuss the interim results in consultations and workshops and contribute actively to influencing the outcomes.

The Network Development Plan will first serve policy makers, regulatory authorities and the power industry as key players to support the expansion of the pan-European transmission grid. The network planning methodology will be made available to all ENTSO-E members: it will also provide roadmaps for further research and innovation in the development of improved grid expansion planning instruments.

Friday, April 19, 2013

LDK Solar provides update on sale of LDK Hefei

CHINA & USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd announced Anhui LDK New Energy Co., Ltd. signed an agreement to sell and transfer all its equity interest in its wholly owned subsidiary, LDK Solar High-Tech (Hefei) Co. Ltd, located in Hefei City of Anhui Province in China, to an affiliate of the Hefei City government, Hefei High Tech Industrial Development Social Service Corp., for approximately RMB 120 million.

Based on the Company's book value, LDK Solar expects to realize a net loss in the range of USD 80 million to USD 90 million for this transaction.

Previously, LDK Solar announced a purchase agreement in January 2013 with Shanghai Qianjiang Group, with its consummation subject to relevant governmental approvals. Shanghai Qianjiang Group failed to secure such government approvals by the expiration date of March 30, 2013.

"We appreciate the assistance and collaboration from Hefei Municipal Government," stated Xingxue Tong, president and CEO of LDK Solar. "We will do our best to assure a smooth closing of this transaction."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Global clean energy investment declined, capacity grew in 2012

USA: The global clean energy sector is undergoing geographic and technological shifts as new markets emerge and renewable capacity grows, according to research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The sector demonstrated resilience in 2012, registering a record 88 gigawatts, or GW, of additional generating capacity, even though investment levels declined 11 percent, to $269 billion, from 2011. Among the Group of Twenty (G-20) nations, South Africa was the fastest-growing market in the G-20, with investment rising from less than $30 million in 2011 to $5.5 billion in 2012, a 20,500 percent increase.

The 11 percent decline in clean energy investments compared to 2011 levels was due in part to curtailed incentive programs in a number of countries, among them Spain, Italy, and Germany. Elsewhere, continuing support for clean energy led to record levels of investment in a number of nations, including China and South Africa. Renewable energy installations grew by more than 11 percent to 88 GW, which reflected price reductions in wind, solar, and other technologies.

"Clean energy trends demonstrate the ongoing resilience of this emerging sector in the global economy," says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's clean energy program. "South Africa is an example of a promising new and expanding market for clean energy investment. With its commitment to developing wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies, South Africa has become a cornerstone of clean energy development for the entire African continent."

The clean energy race 
South Africa, after lengthy delays in the initiation of national clean energy programs, witnessed explosive growth in 2012. Its solar sector attracted $4.3 billion in 2012, or 80 percent of the total clean energy investment. Another $1.1 billion went to the nation's wind sector.

Rapid investment growth positioned South Africa as the ninth-leading destination for clean energy investment, after being last in the G-20 in 2011. Clean energy investment in South Africa is likely to remain strong in coming years as the country implements its relatively new renewable energy tender program, which has initiated 28 projects already.

Among the Group of 20 nations, China reclaimed the top spot from the United States, attracting $65.1 billion, a 20 percent increase over 2011 and 30 percent of the total for the G-20. China established itself as the leader in attracting investment in wind, solar, and other renewables. It added 23 GW of clean energy generating capacity, bringing its total to 152 GW, the most of any nation.

The United States fell to No. 2 as investment in the sector declined 37 percent, to $35.6 billion. In third place, Germany curtailed incentives and saw investment decline 27 percent, to $22.8 billion. Still, 7.5 GW of solar generating capacity were added in Germany—the most of any G-20 country.

Japan re-emerged as a top destination for clean energy investment as national efforts to develop alternatives to nuclear energy gained momentum after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Clean energy investment in the nation increased 75 percent, to $16.3 billion, almost all in the solar sector, which added more than 2 GW of generating capacity. These projects propelled Japan into the No. 5 spot in investment in 2012, with the 27 countries of the European Union that are not separate members of the G-20 at No. 4.

Shifting markets and technologies
Reflecting the trend toward emerging markets, clean energy investment is shifting from the West to the East. The Asia and Oceania region has grown nine straight years and in 2012 became the leading regional destination for clean energy investment, growing 16 percent to $101 billion and accounting for 42 percent of the global total. In contrast, policy uncertainty in Europe and the United States resulted in investment declines of 22 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, and 31 percent in the Americas.

Clean energy investment is also shifting across technologies. For the second year in a row, solar technologies attracted more financing than any other technology by a wide margin: $126 billion was invested in the subsector in 2012, or 58 percent of the G-20 total. China, Europe, and the United States were top markets for solar investment.

Wind energy, which has garnered the majority of clean energy investment for most of the last decade, saw 14 percent less investment across the G-20, but it still attracted $72.7 billion. Among G-20 countries, wind energy investment was down 14 percent, with declines in historically large markets such as China, Germany, India, and Brazil.

But the United Kingdom and United States saw gains in wind energy investment, with a substantial increase in the United States to a record 13.6 GW of wind power generating capacity, spurred by uncertainty about the potential expiration of the production tax credit. At year-end, Congress renewed this important tax incentive for the US wind industry through 2013.

Continued reductions in the price of wind and solar helped boost worldwide installed clean energy capacity to 648 GW. A record 48.6 GW of wind and 31 GW of solar generating capacity were deployed in 2012. Installed solar capacity of 104 GW is four times the level in place in 2009. In the United States, renewable energy sources accounted for 49 percent of new generating capacity in 2012, while in Europe more than 70 percent of new capacity was renewable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

IFC, Teri to benchmark quality solar products for off-grid, low income consumers

INDIA: IFC, a member of the World Bank, is partnering with policy and research organization, The Energy and Resources Institute, to upgrade the Institute’s solar lighting laboratory into a state-of-the art testing facility for ensuring quality solar lighting products for millions of Indians with no access to grid power.

Manufacturers will be able to get their products tested at the upgraded Solar Lighting Laboratory in TERI University’s New Delhi campus based on procedures specified by International Electrotechnical Commission, a body that sets all electrical standards worldwide. IEC testing will certify products for international quality assurance, helping manufacturers produce affordable quality solar LED lights for end-users in India.

Addressing the Clean Energy Ministerial in New Delhi, Dr RK Pachauri, director-general of TERI, said, “Once fully developed, the lab will be among the few in Asia  that will be accredited to test solar lighting products according to global  benchmarks, taking forward our work of developing quality and long-performing solar lighting systems.”

Low-income people in need of off-grid lighting solutions are often dissatisfied with the performance of inferior products flooding the market. Realizing that a strong, quality assurance and testing program will go a long way in building consumer confidence in solar products, IFC’s Lighting Asia/India Program is working with TERI towards this end.

“Quality is a key determinant in the success of off-grid lighting products and laboratory testing is the best way to reliably benchmark products,” said Jeeva A. Perumalpillai-Essex, manager, Sustainable Business Advisory, IFC. “Our partnership with TERI will ensure the availability of reliable solar lighting products for those cut off from the power grid.”

Lighting Asia is part of IFC’s off-grid lighting program for Asia, and is first being rolled out in India in partnership with the governments of the United States of America and Italy. This holistic program collaborates with industry across the entire value chain -- manufacturing, distribution, supply chain management and financing -- to make quality off-grid lighting products available to two million people living in rural India by 2016.

Japan puts nuclear energy on hold, embraces solar power

LIECHTENSTEIN: Two years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011, Japan has scaled back it's nuclear power and is seeking to diversify it's energy mix, with solar power showing the strongest growth.

Supporters of Japan's nuclear industry claim it would be unwise to give up the advantages of nuclear power because of a single accident. However, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe knows that restarting the country's nuclear power plants will be highly unpopular, says Prof. Dr. Stefan Lippert, World Review expert on economics.

"Japan will pursue a highly diversified energy policy," he says. "In particular it will focus on reducing the costs of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and increasing the share of renewables."

"In 2012, Japan added approximately 2.5 GW of solar energy capacity to the 4.8 GW already installed," he says.

The Japanese government continues to favour wind over solar energy, but the market shows a strong preference for solar, at least as long as the very high feed-in tariffs - in international terms - are kept in place.

However, Shinzo Abe refuses to rule out the prospect of re-starting the shut-down reactors and building new nuclear power plants in the future, although he has not provided a timeline for this.

"The final decision on Japan's long-term energy strategy will not be made before the 2020s," says Dr Lippert.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

High yields and high quality to win the market

GERMANY: Sungrow, the largest Asian producer of PV inverters, recently announced that their SG15KTL inverters were appointed to be used again by Blessing & Feucht in Germany, considering Sungrow inverters' outstanding performance on yields and reliability for more than one year in a PV plant in Blasihofe.

The project, located in Blasihofe, close to Stuttgart, was built and operated by Blessing & Feucht components sourced via Krannich Solar, one of the largest global PV-Systems distributors and a partner of Sungrow. Krannich Solar recommended Sungrow's three-phase string inverter SG15KTL due to its high efficiency (Photon-Test grade A) and its light weight of only 50kg.

SG15KTLs have been running safely since the plant connected to the grid in November 2011. Their high reliability and high power yields are highly appreciated by Blessing & Feucht.

"We need high-quality inverters with superb performance, and Sungrow inverters perform very well. The reliable running and high power generation in 2012 are clearly evidence that Sungrow is one of the best in this industry," said Blessing & Feucht. "No wonder they can get grade-A evaluation from Photon Lab's test. We are pleased to choose Sungrow inverters in our new horse-riding hall in December 2012."

"During the collaboration with our distribution partner and the plant owner, Sungrow showed our strength of producing cost-efficient PV inverters but still meeting all latest requirements with ideal functions. Sungrow inverters are recognized and accepted by more and more customers. They prefer to reuse our inverters in their newly launched projects," Raymond Wong, VP of Sungrow, said.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shale gas boom fuels rebound in growth for NA smart grid equipment market

USA: The shale gas boom in the United States will play a key role in the development of the nation’s smart electricity grid, affecting almost every part of utility infrastructure decision making in the coming decade—and driving a resurgence in market for related equipment starting in 2015.

After three years of decline, the combined market for distribution automation hardware and smart electricity meters in North America will resume its expansion in 2015, with revenue rising to $3.2 billion, up 3 percent from $3.1 billion in 2014, according to a new report from IMS Research. By 2017, the market will expand to $3.6 billion.

“The shale gas revolution in the U.S. is having a massive impact on the energy market, with the new energy production expected to bring the country closer to energy independence, an event with major economic and geopolitical ramifications,” said Donald Henschel, senior analyst, metering and energy management, for IHS.

“However, this development is also having an impact in another, more surprising area: the smart grid. Natural gas is optimal for use in smaller distributed-generation operations, which can form the basis of microgrids. The rising attractiveness of flexible, adaptive microgrids will help the smart grid grow to overcome the serious challenges faced by this region’s utility sector, and will drive growth in sales of required equipment in the coming years.”

Smart meters get smarter
Smart meter shipments hit a high point in 2010 thanks to the surge of money made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009—better known as the stimulus. The US smart meter market then entered a major decline in 2012, with shipments plunging by 16 percent.

However, the contraction is expected to moderate in 2015, and growth will return in 2016.

Smart electricity meters represented the first wave of publicly visible investment in the smart grid in much of North America. These devices lowered costs associated with billing, especially for rural electric cooperative utilities, which were often early adopters.

Newer smart meters using communications technologies like cellular, meshing or point-to-point radio, direct fiber, or next-generation PLC communications offered utilities the ability to collect meter data essentially at will, without sending staff into the field.

Additionally, most of these metering systems provided for two-way communication, allowing the meter to be updated or reprogrammed, or in some cases, for the power connection to be severed remotely.
Now, there is growing potential for these meters to play more active roles in the operation of the electric grid, serving as data collection points for advanced grid applications, like conservation voltage reduction (CVR).

Distribution automation market on automatic
The distribution automation market consists of 25 equipment types, including the full range of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), voltage regulators, capacitor banks and switches, reclosers and other switchgear. These devices play a critical role in the smart grid, and their sales revenue is expected to rise through the period from 2010 to 2017.

Stimulus stimulates smart grid
The rapid growth in smart metering in the US can be attributed almost completely to the effects of the ARRA in 2009. This program offered up matching funding for smart metering and other smart grid projects, enabling utility companies to invest in smart grid projects at effectively half price.

“ARRA has redefined the US and thus, the greater North American smart grid market, reshaping investment patterns for years to come,” Henschel said.

“By halving the cost of new smart metering systems and distribution automation projects as well as application testing, ARRA created the environment for smart grid development with three big changes. First, it built up a new, much larger installed base of field networks and sensors. Second, it allowed decision makers at utility organizations to see the value of these technologies in viable use cases at neighboring utility networks. Finally, it created the market volume necessary to encourage greater competition, innovation and cost reduction in what had been previously much smaller, higher-cost equipment markets.”

Natural gas has a gas
Late in the first decade of the 21st century, the availability of natural gas in North America increased dramatically. The refinement of shale gas extraction techniques and the discovery of further tight gas resources converged to allow for the rapid increase in domestically available natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” began to be applied to shale formations rich in natural gas at the very end of the 20th century.

Subsequent discoveries and field developments have made natural gas extraordinarily cheap. These low prices are also being driven by a lack of short-term export potential, as the infrastructure to compress or liquefy and ship natural gas to hungry oversea markets is still being built.

Natural gas affects the utility grid in several ways. Its rising role in centralized generation is critical, but the opportunity for natural gas also extends to more affordable and environmentally sound microgrid development, providing energy security on distribution networks.

On the grid
Other factors propelling the growth of the U.S. smart grid market include:

* The increased availability of dedicated sensors, which together with smart meters are expected to spur the next wave of smart grid schemes.
* The requirement for greater security in the electricity grid.
* Strong demand from rural electric cooperatives, which are emerging as technology and business innovators in North America.
* A profound inflection point in the growth of the microgrid market, spurred by requirements for improved reliability and reduced operational cost.
* A range of new challenges for electricity utilities that could be addressed by smart grid technology, including severe weather, electric-vehicle charging and increased stress on aging grid equipment.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wattner buys 22 MW solar power plants

GERMANY: Wattner has bought five utility-scale solar power plants with a total capacity of 22 megawatts (MW). The total transaction volume is approximately 37 million euros.

All plants have been commissioned in 2012 on sites throughout Germany. The biggest plant with a rated power of 6.0 MW is located in Bennungen, Saxony-Anhalt. Three solar power plants with a total capacity of 12.8 MW are located in Western Pomerania. The fifth plant with a rated power of 3.3 MW is in operation in Neuenhagen near Berlin.

The plants have been bought from reputed sellers in Germany.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Duke Energy Renewables acquires California project from SolarWorld

USA: Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, has acquired two commercial solar power projects near Twentynine Palms, Calif., from project developer SolarWorld, the largest US solar manufacturer for more than 35 years.

The twin projects, named Highlander Solar 1 and 2, are in close proximity and will be run as a single operation. It will collectively generate 21 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, enough to power more than 4,000 average homes each year.

“Highlander will be the company’s largest commercial solar farm in the nation,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “It enlarges our footprint in a key U.S. renewables market while delivering affordable, zero-emission solar power to help the state’s customers meet their renewable energy goals.”

Southern California Edison will buy all of the output generated by the project through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

After purchasing the sites in May of 2012, SolarWorld directed the project’s engineering, procurement, permitting and construction and will complete Highlander in the second quarter of this year. Commercial operation will follow shortly thereafter. At the peak of construction, the project employed more than 200 workers, the majority from surrounding communities.

“This project will be an asset in the portfolio of Duke Energy, a nationally recognized leader in the field of clean-energy development,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the company’s commercial unit. “Its investment underscores our position as a premier developer of large-scale solar projects.”

Highlander, which SolarWorld originally named the Desert Star Solar Projects, sits on two land parcels and features 100,188 SolarWorld Sunmodule solar panels manufactured in the company’s Hillsboro, Ore., factory and mounted on SolarWorld’s Suntrac single-axis trackers. When commissioned, the project will rank among the state’s largest operating crystalline-silicon solar installations.

With the addition of Highlander, Duke Energy Renewables now owns more than 100 MW of generating capacity at 15 U.S. solar farms. Since 2007, Duke Energy has invested more than $2.5 billion to grow its commercial wind and solar business.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

REC Solar expands residential solutions to Hawaii

HAWAII: REC Solar, a national leader in solar electric system design and installation, now offers turnkey residential solar solutions on the island of O’ahu.

Thanks to REC Solar’s partnership with Sunrun, the nation’s leading home solar company, Hawaii residents can now go solar without high upfront cost and lock in low energy rates for 20 years while slashing their electric bill from day one.

This expansion builds on REC Solar’s considerable success in the state’s commercial and utility solar markets to address one of the fastest-growing residential solar markets in the nation. Recently, the company expanded its facility in Kapolei and is hiring a dedicated local team to manage residential business operations and system installation on the island.

A recent SEIA report projects that Hawaii will become the second-largest residential solar state in 2013. This O’ahu expansion provides a strategic base for REC Solar to meet increased demand from homeowners as well as corporate, agricultural, government and utility customers.

The company has completed over seven megawatts for commercial and government clients in Hawaii, and is slated to begin construction soon on one of the largest solar projects approved in the state—the 14.5 megawatt Anahola project for Kauai Island Utility Co-operative.

First Solar acquires 60 MWAC North Star project from NorthLight Power

USA: First Solar Inc. and NorthLight Power, LLC announced that First Solar has acquired the 60 megawattAC (MW) North Star solar project that NorthLight has developed in Fresno County, Calif. NorthLight is a joint venture of Renewable Energy Corporation ASA and Summit Power Group, LLC. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The photovoltaic (PV) solar plant is expected to start construction in 2014 and be completed in 2015, providing up to 410 construction jobs. When fully operational, it will produce enough clean, renewable energy to power over 21,000 average California homes while displacing approximately 33,000 metric tons of water consumption and 39,000 metric tons of CO2 per year—the equivalent of taking about 7,500 cars off the road each year.

The North Star project is located near the city of Mendota and has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

"We're excited to be acquiring and constructing our first utility-scale photovoltaic power project in Fresno County," said James F. Cook, First Solar director of Project Development. "North Star will provide much-needed construction employment in a hard-hit economy, while helping the state satisfy its renewable energy requirements."

"Summit Power Group is pleased to be working with First Solar on this project," said Dana Zentz, VP of Commercial Development for Summit and MD of NorthLight Power. "We have received and been thankful for tremendous support from the local community, and look forward to continuing success with other solar projects that are in our current development portfolio within NorthLight Power."

First Solar to acquire TetraSun to expand addressable market opportunity

USA: First Solar Inc. is acquiring TetraSun, a solar photovoltaic (PV) technology startup which has developed a break-through cell architecture capable of conversion efficiencies exceeding 21 percent with commercial-scale manufacturing costs comparable to conventional multicrystalline silicon solar cells.

First Solar signed a definitive agreement to acquire TetraSun from JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation and other investors, including TetraSun management. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013, were not disclosed. First Solar and JX Nippon Oil & Energy also have entered into discussions on an agreement to distribute the technology in Japan.

TetraSun’s core technology is a proprietary cell architecture which breaks the historical tie between high-efficiency and high-cost. Compared to other high-efficiency crystalline silicon cells, TetraSun’s advanced cell design is simpler and optimized for manufacturing, requiring fewer process steps with wider tolerances. The design enables high-volume production with higher yields using readily available equipment.

Cost-effectiveness is further enhanced by using large-format (156 mm) n-type wafers and eliminating the need for expensive silver and transparent conductive oxide (TCO). The technology also benefits from a low temperature coefficient of power, which produces superior energy yields in hot climates compared to typical silicon PV modules. First Solar tentatively plans to begin commercial-scale manufacturing of the new technology in the second half of 2014.

All fourteen of TetraSun’s associates will join First Solar and continue to be based in San Jose, Calif. The technical team brings First Solar significant expertise in silicon PV R&D and a track record of innovation at companies like SunPower and Fraunhofer ISE, where they earned world-records for silicon cell efficiency.