Thursday, February 28, 2013

EU initiates anti-dumping investigation on solar glass from China

EUROPE: The European Commission has launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of solar glass from China. The initiation is based on a complaint lodged by the association EU ProSun Glass, which claims solar glass from China is being dumped in the EU at prices below market value and causing material injury to the EU solar glass industry.

The investigation could take up to 15 months, although under trade defence rules the EU could impose provisional anti-dumping duties within nine months if it considers these necessary.

Solar glass is a special glass used mainly, but not exclusively, for the production of solar panels. It is an essential component not just of solar panels, but of many solar energy products. This investigation has, however, no direct link with the probe related to the imports of solar panels launched by the European Commission last September (MEMO/12/647): it is a stand-alone investigation concerning a clearly distinct product. The EU solar glass market is valued at less than €200m.

The European Commission is aware of media reports about a possible anti-subsidy complaint regarding solar glass from China. At this stage, we can only state that we have not received such a complaint.

On what basis is the European Commission opening this investigation?
The Commission is legally obliged to open an anti-dumping investigation when it receives a duly substantiated complaint from EU producers which provides prima facie evidence that exporting producers from one or more countries outside the EU are dumping a product on to the EU market and causing material injury to the EU industry.

EU ProSun Glass, an ad hoc association representing European solar glass manufacturers, lodged just such an anti-dumping complaint on 15 January 2013. EU ProSun Glass's collective output represents considerably more than the 25 percent of Union production required by law. EU ProSun Glass is not formally affiliated with EU ProSun, a separate coalition of solar equipment manufacturers which launched the solar panel complaint last year.

The Commission found that the complainant brought sufficient elements showing:
(1) possible price dumping by the exporting producers on the EU market;
(2) injury suffered by the Union industry; and
(3) a possible causal link between the dumped imports and the injury suffered by the Union industry.

The Commission concluded that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant the opening of an investigation.

What happens next?
The European Commission will send out questionnaires to various interested parties, such as exporting producers, Union producers, importers and associations. It will ask for information relating to the exports, production, sales and imports of solar glass. Once the interested parties have responded to the questionnaires, the Commission will verify the data, often by going to the premises of the companies.

On the basis of the information it has collected, the Commission will establish if dumping has taken place and whether the injury claimed is a result of the dumped imports. This examination will also include consider possible other factors that might have contributed to the injury.

In addition, the Commission will carry out the so-called "Union interest test". The EU is the only WTO Member to systematically carry out such tests. The Commission will consider whether the potential imposition of measures would be more costly to the EU economy as a whole than the benefit of the measures would be to the complainants. The Commission will assess the level of duty needed to counteract the injurious effects of dumping. Measures, if any, will be imposed at the level of dumping or injury whichever is the lower – the so-called 'lesser duty rule.' By systematically applying the 'lesser duty rule', the EU goes beyond its WTO obligations.

Within nine months of the start of the investigation, the Commission will issue its provisional findings. There are three possible scenarios:

(a) impose provisional anti-dumping duties (normally for a six months period);
(b) continue the investigation without imposing provisional duties; or
(c) terminate the investigation.

Throughout the investigation, all interested parties have a right to make their views and arguments heard by sending in comments to the Commission and/or taking part in hearings. The Commission takes account of the comments received and addresses these in the remainder of the investigation.

The Council is legally obliged to take a final decision on the imposition of any definitive measures within 15 months of the investigation being started. In the present case, that means before 28 May 2014. The final findings will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Yingli Green Energy and GRID Alternatives renew long-standing partnership

CHINA & USA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd announced that its US subsidiary, Yingli Green Energy Americas Inc. has renewed its strategic partnership with GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer that brings renewable energy to low-income communities.

Yingli Green Energy originally teamed up with GRID Alternatives in 2011, when it became GRID's first and largest official solar module supplier. By the end of this year Yingli Green Energy will have supplied almost 4 MW of donated and fair-market value solar modules to GRID.

The partnership will help nearly 1,200 low-income families go solar across California and Colorado, saving them an estimated $30 million over the systems' lifetimes. In addition, by the end of 2014, thousands of solar job trainees will have accrued 150,000 hours of hands-on experience installing PV projects using Yingli Solar modules.

Helena Kimball, head of Marketing for Yingli Americas, said: "We first decided to partner with GRID Alternatives because their mission so closely reflects our own: to provide affordable green energy for all. We are proud to have already given nearly 1,000 U.S. families the help they need to lower their utility bills and to put those cost savings towards a better future. We commend GRID for their dedication, their team, and their success – it's a fantastic partnership."

GRID Alternatives' mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment, and professional training. Since 2004, more than 3,000 low-income families have received no- or low-cost solar energy systems through GRID. While the non-profit organization's efforts were initially focused on underserved communities in California, GRID was able to expand their operations to Colorado in 2012, thanks to the support of partners such as Yingli Green Energy.

"As our first major manufacturer partner, Yingli has been an invaluable resource to help us grow both geographically and in the number of families we've been able to serve," said GRID Alternatives co-founder Tim Sears . "We are thrilled to have Yingli's continued partnership as we expand nationally."

"My husband had been out of work for 18 months," said Valerie Paschell of Crockett, California, one of the first low-income homeowners to receive a solar energy system using Yingli Solar modules. "I knew I wouldn't have to worry about the electricity bill. For us it's been quite a blessing."

Yingli employees have also donated their time as volunteers on GRID projects. On Saturday, February 23rd, fifteen Yingli Green Energy employees from around the globe helped install a 3.7 kW solar energy system on the Vance family's home in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

"Our employees volunteer their time and energy towards projects like GRID Alternatives because we care deeply about social responsibility," said Liansheng Miao, chairman and CEO of Yingli Green Energy. "We truly believe that solar energy can dramatically improve the the lives of future generations, and we hope that GRID's model inspires like-minded organizations across the world to take action."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Utility smart grid spending almost doubles worldwide in 2012

USA: Spending by utilities transitioning their networks to smart grid capabilities reached $23.68 billion in 2012. Highlighting the growing momentum behind the spending, 2012’s total alone represents 48 percent of smart grid spending to date.

During the year, spending on transmission and distribution capabilities surpassed smart meter investments as utilities increasingly looked to improve their core networks and maximize the benefits of their growing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployments.

“Utilities are investing in the rollout of a broad assortment of new applications and spending is driving new services from a wide range of vendors and consultants,” says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research. “The complexity of the new hardware, applications, and the expansive array of suppliers vying to deliver services continues to ensure that systems integrators benefit with a significant share of the spending.”

Smart grid spending in 2012 was up 47.1 percent from $16.10 billion in 2011 as remaining government stimulus funds were spent in the United States and utilities around the world increased their own investments. Even so, these remain the early years of Smart Grid investments and spending will continue to grow over the next five years to reach $80.8 billion during 2018.

New Energy Husum attracts visitors with interesting fringe events

GERMANY: New Energy Husum, the leading renewable energy trade fair, offers trade and private visitors, job seekers and families numerous informative and entertaining events from 21 to 24 March.

The attractive fringe events include the JES! youth competition, a film about the energy transition, and the New Energy Slam speech competition. “The events providing an entertaining insight into the world of renewable energy”, says Peter Becker, managing director of Messe Husum & Congress. The Renewable Energy Career Days provide information about the latest jobs available, and bring together job seekers and employers in the biomass, solar and wind sectors.

During the fair, last year’s three winners of the JES Jugend.Energie.Spass will be presenting their projects in Hall 3 (Stand 3HS3). The winners of the first prize analysed the complete energy consumption at their school and worked out ideas for improvement. One suggestion is that a photovoltaic system should cover the school’s power needs. The winners of the third prize constructed a parabolic reflector for heating domestic water supply with solar energy.

In 2013 the competition is once again being organised by S.A.T. Sonnen- und AlternativTechnik with Schleswig-Holstein’s minister for energy transition, agriculture, the environment and rural areas, Dr Robert Habeck, as patron. Also supporting the competition for the fifth time are Nord-Ostsee Sparkasse, Stadtwerke Niebüll, Gemeindewerke Leck, Stadtwerke Bredstedt and Messe Husum. Applications are invited from young people aged between 14 and 22 years old with ideas for how renewable energy generated in Schleswig-Holstein can be stored.

The main prize is a smart meter system for installation in the winner’s school, and a personal meeting with Dr Robert Habeck. Deadline for applications is 31 May 2013.

Solar America to incorporate solar power station into new product from Solar Energy Labs

USA: Solar America Corp. has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Solar Energy Labs Inc. of Jacksonville, FL, a developer of solar hot water solutions.

Solar America and Solar Energy Labs will collaborate on incorporation of Solar America’s Solar Power Station technologies into Solar Energy Labs Intellement photovoltaic (PV) hot water system. The combined system would efficiently provide both hot water and supplemental power to homeowners and small businesses.

"The opportunity to work with the team at Solar Energy Labs to combine the best parts of our existing technologies could open entire new markets for both of our companies,” stated Robert Bludorn, CEO of Solar America. "There are several potential solar projects that we have been evaluating that could immediately benefit from a system using the combined technologies."

Solar America’s Solar Power Station connects to almost any type of commercially available solar panel and provides all necessary systems to convert the power of the sun into clean, environmentally friendly AC power that can be either utilized locally or sold back into the power grid. For those interested in being completely “off-grid,” an optional battery pack system easily connects to the Solar Power Station in order to provide hours of uninterrupted AC power.

First Solar sets new world record for CdTe solar cell efficiency

USA: First Solar Inc. announced it set a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 18.7 percent cell efficiency in tests confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The record-setting cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and R&D center using processes and materials – including the glass substrate – that are designed for commercial-scale manufacturing.

“This achievement showcases the huge potential of CdTe compared to other PV technologies and highlights the performance gains we continue to achieve thanks to our consistent and strong investment in R&D,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s CTO. “We are confident the advanced technologies and processes we developed for this record-setting cell will further enhance the performance of our future production modules and power plants.”

First Solar has continued to transfer its success in the R&D lab into its commercial modules, increasing its average production module efficiency to 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 0.7 percentage points from 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Company’s lead line was producing modules with 13.1 percent efficiency during the fourth quarter, up from 12.6 percent in the same period a year ago.

Since it began commercial production in 2002, First Solar has produced more than 90 million of its advanced thin-film solar modules with a capacity of over 7 gigawatts (GW), enough to provide clean electricity for approximately 3.5 million homes and displace 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually, based on world averages. If laid end-to-end, the modules would circle the equator nearly three times.

First Solar utilizes a continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, contributing to the industry-leading energy payback time and low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar PV modules.

Punitive tariffs would cost EU up to 242,000 jobs

BELGIUM: Anti-dumping and/or countervailing duties at whatever level on imported Chinese solar products will lead to decreased demand for solar products immediately translating into very significant job losses and less value added along the whole European photovoltaic value chain. This is the result of a study by the independent economic institute Prognos.

Prognos shows the very significant impact these measures have on employment and value added in the EU from 2013 to 2015 based on three scenarios of duties: 20 percent, 35 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

A punitive tariff of 20 percent would cost 115,600 jobs in the European Union during the first year after the implementation. This would add up to 175,500 job losses until the third year. The value added lost would sum up to 4.74 billion euros in the first year and to 18.4 billion euros during three years with a tariff of 20 percent.

A punitive tariff of 60 percent would even lead to 193,700 job losses in the whole EU during the first year and to 242,000 in the third year. The total loss of value added would amount to 7.86 billion euros during the first year after the implementation. In total over three years 27.2 billion euros of value added would be at stake.

“The potential positive impact of duties for the EU solar producers is dwarfed by the negative impact on employment in the EU. Due to the imposition of tariffs production of EU solar products increases and some jobs are being created. However, the jobs created by the EU solar producers represent at the very most 20 percent of the jobs lost along the PV value chain”, says Thorsten Preugschas, CEO of the German project developer Soventix, a spokesperson of AFASE.

Duties will lead to a considerable decrease in demand for solar products which results on the one hand in less demand for solar installations and services. On the other hand, the supply of intermediate inputs such as raw materials and production equipment from Europe to China decreases.
The study was presented by Prognos at a hearing arranged by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy, AFASE, held at the European Commission in Brussels.

MAPC selects regional solar developer

USA: The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) announced the selection of Broadway Electrical Co. Inc. as the regional solar developer for 17 cities and towns in Greater Boston.

These municipalities are now eligible to enter into solar “energy management services” agreements with Broadway, guaranteeing them low-cost solar energy for up to 20 years without the risks of owning and maintaining solar photovoltaic systems of their own.

The 17 municipalities participating in MAPC’s regional solar program are Belmont, Beverly, Boxborough, Brookline, Chelsea, Hudson, Lincoln, Marlborough, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Reading, Sherborn, Wayland, Weston, Weymouth, and Winthrop.

“We are very excited to announce the selection of Broadway as our regional solar partner,” said Helen Aki, MAPC Clean Energy program co-ordinator. “These cities and towns stand to achieve serious savings on energy costs by working in collaboration through this program, and we look forward to helping our member municipalities to develop solar projects and generate local renewable energy.”

“We are honored that Broadway Electrical has been selected by MAPC and the 17 participating cities and towns for this very important and innovative project,” said Jonathan Wienslaw, president of Broadway Electrical.

“The commitment from these municipalities to incorporate solar photovoltaic energy into their electrical supply as a renewable energy source will be paying environmental and financial dividends for years to come. Not only do the solar projects provide great learning opportunities for students, they also open the door for other energy projects to develop within the overall community. We look forward to delivering real economic and environmental benefits to these communities and expanding the education of solar as a renewable source of energy.”

Representatives from participating cities and towns reviewed responses and held in-person interviews before unanimously deciding on Broadway as their first choice for the regional solar provider. MAPC served in a facilitating role for the selection process, with support from the Cadmus Group, a strategic consulting group specializing in clean energy. MAPC’s agreement with Broadway stipulates that all participating cities and towns will be offered equal consideration, regardless of project size.

Solar energy management agreements are long-term service agreements in which the developer designs, finances, installs, owns, maintains and eventually removes a PV system. The community agrees to host the system in a publically-owned space and purchase the renewable electricity generated by the system.

The MAPC Regional Solar procurement was made possible with support from the 2012 District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) program, which are state funds distributed among the 13 Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) in Massachusetts. DLTA funds provide technical assistance to cities and towns on regional collaboration, economic development, zoning, and protecting the environment. The Barr Foundation also provides support for MAPC’s clean energy work.

PV monitoring costs slashed with Heliotronics SunLoggerE series

USA:  Capitalizing on steep cost reductions in embedded systems, Heliotronics Inc. is redefining the economics of monitoring and maintaining commercial PV systems through the introduction of the SunLoggerE data monitoring system.

This revenue grade system takes recent commoditization of data acquisition hardware, an innovative new web based user interface and leverages Heliotronics' mature data server back end to provide a reliable, powerful and economical turnkey package at an unprecedented price point. The SunLoggerE is suitable for monitoring systems from 10kW to megawatt scale.

According to Clayton Handleman, president of Heliotronics, "Most of the revenue systems on the market cater to projects developed with an SREC market north of $500 / SREC and system sizes in excess of half a megawatt. Under those conditions gold plated data systems were justified. However, as SREC markets have collapsed, winning bids can boil down to a few thousand dollars.  We have optimized the feature mix to provide a great product priced to win contracts."

The SunLoggerE systems eliminate the frills but include features that are now considered essential for any commercial system.  These include ANSI C12.2 energy sensors with accuracy class 0.2, ModBus communications and email. The strong technical team has developed a robust performance factor model that assures early warning in the event of system degradation or malfunction.

Industry firsts include a data logger with a more than 20 years of non-volatile onsite data storage and data caching measured in decades rather than the industry standard one month. Inspired by the simple Google home page, Heliotronics offers a streamlined, patent pending, interface that gets you the information you most need at-a-glance on your PC, tablet or smart phone from which detailed information is accessed more efficiently and easily.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Policy-makers deploy new tactics to create green growth globally

ENGLAND: As governments seek to better manage their fiscal budgets, by taking control of their future renewable energy purchases, capacity auctions are becoming an increasingly preferred policy mechanism according to Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly global Renewable energy country attractiveness indices report.

Capacity auctions – whereby future power purchase projects and generation licenses are awarded through a competitive process – are just one example of a concession-based approach being taken by governments, as the industry continues to adopt alternatives to the historic revenue-based support mechanisms.

Gil Forer, Ernst & Young’s Global Cleantech Leader, comments: “Governments are tailoring their approach to clean energy investment to their individual needs and market maturity, with several countries including France and India announcing capacity auctions at the end of 2012.The clean energy landscape has become much more global in the last 12 months, with more countries developing strategic initiatives at a national level to include and increase renewable energy within their overall energy mix.”

The indices score 40 countries on the attractiveness of their national renewable energy markets, energy infrastructure and suitability for individual technologies. China retains the top spot in the All Renewables Index (ARI), following its announcement of ambitious capacity targets for 2013 and an increase in strategic outbound investment. Germany remains in second place as the government pro-actively expands the country’s grid infrastructure, but the surprising announcement in January 2013 freezing the consumer levy for renewable energy, will put the sector under pressure going forward.

Meanwhile the US, in third place, has a renewed focus on wind power. President Obama, in his recent State of the Union speech, called for continuing progress in clean energy, stating: “Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more.” This is reflected in the last minute extension of the Production Tax Credit to allow wind developers, investors and manufacturers time to begin qualifying construction in 2013.

Big movers include South Africa, Morocco and Chile
The rising stars in this issue of the ARI include South Africa, which has overtaken Spain for 16th place, after 2012 saw agreements for 28 renewables projects – totaling 1.4GW – being signed under the first round of the national procurement program. This paves the way for construction to start in 2013 and reinforces the government’s support for clean energy – increasing the country’s attractiveness to investors and developers globally.

As part of its target to install 4GW of wind and solar capacity by 2020, Morocco’s government agreed to a $1 billion power purchase agreement (PPA) for the first 160MW phase of its flagship Ouarzazate CSP plant in Q4 2012. It also announced plans for another 400MW–500MW solar tender in 2014, resulting in a two-place jump up the rankings to 23rd in the ARI.

Chile moved up two places to 36th, as the country seeks bids to build South America’s largest solar plant in the Atacama Desert – funded by a combination of government grants and loans totaling $429 million. Q4 2012 also saw high profile international players receive approval for various wind and solar projects including a 108MW wind power project by Australia’s Pacific Hydro and a 70MW solar farm by Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd.

Divestments likely to continue driving sector deal activity in 2013
Global clean energy investment in 2012 fell by 11 percent from the record level seen in 2011 to $268.7 billion according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, with only China, Australia and Mexico seeing an increase in total investment. Despite the challenges of a weak global economy, the outlook for 2013 is more positive with the trend of divestment and portfolio restructuring set to continue, generating a robust transaction environment in 2013.

Ben Warren, Ernst & Young Energy and Environmental Finance Leader comments: “As debt pressures still hang over many European utilities and US utilities seek to rebalance their holdings in favor of regulated businesses, further divestments will continue to create transaction opportunities across the whole sector in 2013. It is anticipated that capital will continue to flow from Asia and from a wide range of institutional investors, including pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and even high-profile corporations.”

Solar represented the biggest proportion of new investment in 2012, reflecting a period of consolidation that is likely to continue in 2013, as the market adjusts to oversupply, falling prices and trade protectionism measures across the global market. While investment in the global wind sector fell during 2012, offshore wind is likely to be a key growth area for investment and transactions in 2013. The increasing maturity of the sector is attracting a diverse investor base, including industrial conglomerates, private equity groups, pension funds and private sector corporations.

The end of 2012 also saw a particularly interesting development for offshore projects in the North Sea, with Munich RE becoming the first insurance group to offer serial loss cover for the repair or replacement of defective turbines or components. This is expected to reduce the perceived risk-profile of the technology more broadly, boosting investor security and facilitating the financing of major offshore projects.

Trends and challenges for 2013
Looking forward, the combination of declining renewable energy technology costs and the need to manage corporate risks, such as energy price volatility and energy security, will drive more corporations around the globe to develop and implement renewable energy strategies. These strategies, which are complex from an operational perspective, will result in a growing share of renewable energy within the corporate energy mix.

Forer comments, “Developing and implementing a global renewable energy plan across many geographical sites is challenging, but it is business imperative for any corporation that wants to maintain its competitive advantage in the changing global economy.”

The increased deployment of renewable energy will also have an impact across other areas of the power sector, with a lack of investment in infrastructure becoming a recurring issue. Countries such as China, India, Germany and Denmark are battling with aging or capacity-constrained grids and the balancing issues from increasing intermittency. At a European level, there is also a drive towards a policy commitment to strengthen the single energy market to avoid the risk of a fragmentation into 27 national systems.

Looking ahead, Warren concludes: “The power market as a whole is starting to see significant infrastructure deals; however, there needs to be increased investment to address the infrastructure challenges hindering the deployment of renewables, such as grid constraints and the lack of capacity markets and cross-border interconnections. We expect to see increased transaction and financing activity across these areas in 2013, as part of the wider global investment in a low-carbon economy.”

Solar PV demand in 2012 falls short of 30 GW mark

USA: Solar photovoltaic (PV) demand for 2012 reached just 29 GW, an increase of only 5 percent year-over-year compared to 27.7 GW in 2011, according to findings within the upcoming NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report. This is the first time in a decade that year-over-year market growth in the PV industry has been less than 10 percent.

“During most of 2012, and also at the start of 2013, many in the PV industry were hoping that final PV demand figures for 2012 would exceed the 30 GW level,” explained Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Estimates during 2012 often exceeded 35 GW as PV companies looked for positive signs that the supply/demand imbalance was being corrected and profit levels would be restored quickly. Ultimately, PV demand during 2012 fell well short of the 30 GW mark.”

Despite an environment of declining incentives during 2012, Europe remained the largest regional market with 16.48 GW of PV demand, almost 60 percent of global demand last year, but less than 68 percent of the global demand in 2011 and 82 percent in 2010. The second largest region for PV demand was Asia with 8.69 GW, stimulated by the growth of the Chinese end-market during the second half of 2012.

PV demand from the Americas is now segmented across North America (US and Canada), and the Latin America and Caribbean regions. The Americas provided 13 percent of global PV demand in 2012, or 3.68 GW. However, a large portion of PV demand from the Americas came exclusively from California, driven by Renewable Portfolio Standards and rebates. In fact, California provided more than one-third of all PV demand from the entire Americas region during 2012.
Source: NPD Solarbuzz. USA.
Despite falling short of 30 GW, PV demand during 2012 set another annual record for the industry. Indeed, the 29 GW of demand added during 2012 is nearly 30 percent of all installed PV capacity at the end of 2012. However, the demand level of 29 GW in 2012 should be compared directly to the level of supply that upstream manufacturers were expecting during the year.

“For supply and demand to have been balanced during 2012, end-market demand should have approached the 45 GW level,” added Barker. “This is 50 percent higher than actual PV demand in 2012, and reflects the lack of demand elasticity that characterizes the PV industry today. It also explains why even those companies that gained market-share in 2012 still ended up reporting significant operating losses.”

NPD Solarbuzz forecasts that the PV industry will see rapid globalization during 2013, incorporating growth from new regions including Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and emerging Asian markets. However, uncertainties still exist in many of these regions that will impact on the rate of adoption of renewables and exactly how much solar PV will be added during 2013.

“The role of emerging regions will be pivotal to PV industry supply and demand during 2013 and will offer a leading indicator for how quickly the industry can exceed the 30 GW annual run-rate level,” concluded Barker.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Canadian Solar and Strata Solar partner on utility scale projects

CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc. has invested in and partnered with Strata Solar on a suite of utility-scale solar power projects located in North Carolina. The projects, developed jointly, will total approximately 85MW divided amongst 15 unique solar installations.

The first project to be commissioned is Fuquay Farm, A 6.4MW project located in DC Middle Creek, Willow Springs in Wake County, NC. The project broke ground inNovember 2012and will be commissioned by the end of February. Once up and running it is expected to create enough renewable energy to power 750 homes and wants to divert 8.8 million pounds of CO 2 per year.

"Strata Solar is making great strides in bringing solar to North Carolina. We are thrilled to collaborate with a top tier firm that has a clear commitment to the future of solar in the region," said Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. "Fuquay Farm is the first of many, and we look forward to working closely with Strata Solar to generate clean energy for the residents of North Carolina."

"We are very excited about our partnership with Canadian Solar," said Michael Cohen, VP Business Development of Strata Solar. "We hold the same values ​​at our core - long term job growth, promoting energy independence, our national security, and growing the clean energy base in America.  Canadian Solar offers a world-class product backed up by industry leading executives."

The portfolio of 15 solar power projects mainly consist of 6 MW utility scale solar energy farms, but will also. Include a 1MW rooftop solar system and a 3MW farm The construction will be staggered throughout the year with the entire portfolio set for completion by the end of 2013.

During the first year of operation, the energy produced by the portfolio will be equivalent to removing approximately 17.067 passenger cars from the road.

AEG bags major solar contract in MP

INDIA: AEG Power Solutions, a leading global manufacturer of power electronic systems and solutions for industrial power supplies and renewable energies, was awarded a 30 MW solar power plant project from the pioneers of Renewable Energy Certificate Mechanisms in India, M and B Switchgears Ltd.

Located in Madhya Pradesh, M and B Switchgears Ltd. will be provided with high reliability inverters for their solar power plant by AEGPS (India) within the first quarter of 2013.

“We are thrilled to have bagged this contract. We start the year with two major achievements: this 30MW contract and totaling orders over 100MW within the last one year. The growing energy demand in the country requires an uninterruptable power supply and a reliable infrastructure for industrial power users. AEG PS offers a consistent product portfolio covering these demands perfectly,” said Sridhar Murthy, MD of AEG Power Solutions in India.

Vikalp Mundra, director, M and B Switchgears, said: “We are glad to have AEGPS as our partners on board for this project. M and B Switchgears was the first solar power producer in India to be issued 249 solar Renewable Energy Certificates. Partnering with AEGPS, known for their premium quality and highly efficient products, will further strengthen our commitment towards an alternative energy future.”

“Developing ourselves in India meant facing specific challenges; technical challenges due to location and climates, as well as market challenges due to fierce competition. This contract is a success for our Indian team and a step forward in our development on the Indian solar market,” explains Bob Roos, VP Solar Strategic Business Unit of AEG Power Solutions.

With a strong service capability and a local state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for centralized solar inverters, AEGPS has met varied customer expectations despite the market challenges in the last 12 months.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yingli Green Energy announces prelim financial results for Q4 and full year 2012

CHINA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd, a leading solar energy company and one of the world's largest vertically integrated photovoltaic manufacturers, which markets its products under the brand "Yingli Solar", announced its preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2012.

Based on preliminary data, the Company currently expects its PV module shipment in the fourth quarter of 2012 to increase by approximately 40 percent from the third quarter, significantly higher than its previous guidance of low teen percentage increase from the third quarter. Full year 2012 PV module shipment is expected to reach approximately 2.3 GW, significantly higher than the high end of its full year shipment guidance of 2.1 GW to 2.2 GW.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, the company expects to recognize a non-cash charge of inventory provision and to be negatively impacted by a depreciation expense related to underutilized capacity. As a result, the company expects its gross margin in the fourth quarter of 2012 to be in the range of negative 8 percent to 8.5 percent.

INSIDE Secure demos end-to-end security for NExt-gen home energy gateways

FRANCE: INSIDE Secure has developed a demonstration design of a next-generation home energy gateway that will meet the stringent end-to-end security requirements mandated by the German BSI (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik) also known as the Federal Office for Information Security.

The design will meet these security requirements – now being adopted by other countries – using the INSIDE VaultIC security module, which works together with the Freescale i.MX28 application processor to protect consumer data privacy, prevent hacking and fraud and address other security, safety and privacy concerns.

As the interface between the home area network of consumer appliances, meters and other home premises equipment and the wide area network link to the utility companies and service providers, the home energy gateway must address the security needs of all stakeholders.

Not unlike TV set top boxes and cable operator head ends, home energy gateways and utility back-end servers must be able to authenticate each other before establishing a secure communications channel to prevent fraud and eavesdropping.  The gateway itself must be immune from hacking, too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

KKR to acquire Ontario solar projects

USA: KKR announced the acquisition of three solar photovoltaic energy projects from an affiliate of Starwood Energy Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Located in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, SSM Solar has a total capacity of 69MWdc and 60MWac, representing one of the largest PV facilities in North America and the second largest in Canada. SSM Solar is fully contracted to sell its energy output to the Ontario Power Authority under 20-year power purchase agreements entered under the authority's Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program. SSM Solar powers approximately 7,000 households.

"Ontario has been at the forefront of encouraging new development to bring additional renewables capacity online, and with this acquisition, we are playing a meaningful role in the growth of renewables in the province," said Raj Agrawal, KKR's head of North American Infrastructure. "When it comes to infrastructure, renewable energy is one of our top priorities; not only is the sector a critical part of energy supply diversity, but these investments can also provide investors with highly predictable long-term income streams."

Overall operations and management of the solar projects will continue to be handled by EDF Renewable Energy under three separate long term operations and maintenance agreements.

Efficiency improvement remains key, MWT technology ready to take market

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, solar cell and module manufacturers will be more active in improving product efficiency under the pressure of both installation costs and subsidy cut.

As for new technologies, MWT technology has been generally appreciated by related industries; it is possible that the mass production stage takes place in 2013.

Related industries indicated that the competition between Taiwanese manufacturers and Chinese manufacturers on solar cell production has been incessant. Currently the mainstream technology among the industry is mostly covered by Double Printing and Selective Emitter.

The market has demanded, however, that the cost of power generation per watt be reduced, and the improvement in efficiency supported by the present mainstream technology may not be able to meet the needs of the market. Therefore, related industries have started to act more aggressively in the estimation and import of new technologies. They indicated that among many proposals, MWT technology stands out because it creates only a very low degree of interference in the existing manufacturing process, and changes in the production line would only include the increase of single station equipment.

Moreover, both the enhanced efficiency of the effective area at the surface and the absolute conversion efficiency of the solar cell are incentives to the industries, and the package power loss of the module could also be further improved. In addition, the high cost of module package has declined in recent years, resulting in a decrease in the production cost per watt. Due to the advantages listed above, MWT technology has become the priority choice among manufacturers.

According to the observations of EnergyTrend, some of the Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers have already entered the R&D and Pilot Run stage, and the mass production stage is forecasted to take place in the second half of 2013. However, the analysis of EnergyTrend also indicated that in order to carry out MWT technology, solar cell manufacturers must coordinate with module manufacturers; thus the MWT technology production time of Chinese manufacturers would be shorter than that of Taiwanese manufacturers. This would likely become a disadvantage for Taiwanese manufacturers.

Due to the recent New Year holiday and the finalized double reverse policy in China, related prices have increased significantly (approximately 135RMB to 150RMB) in the spot market. The price of poly silicon chips has increased up to approximately 6.1 RMB/piece, and the average price of single silicon chips is approximately 2.1RMB/piece. Battery price remained between 2.5RMB to 3.2RMB.

Spot price is still quoted around $16.5/kg to $18/kg, but the spot market is mostly supplied by second and third tier manufacturers-- first-tier manufacturers could only supply a small amount of materials; this week’s average price is up to $16.925/kg, a slight increase of 0.01 percent. This week’s silicon chip price has increased up to $0.854/piece, an increase of 0.12 percent; the manufacturers’ capacity has failed to meet the increased demand of single silicon chips, resulting in an increase by 0.17 percent ($1.18/piece) in average price.

The quoted price for batteries still continues to increase slightly; this week’s average price has increased up to $0.36/Watt, a 0.28 increase. Price increase is also continued in the module industry, with average price up to $0.659/Watt, a 0.3 percent increase.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yingli Green Energy joins hands once again with FC Bayern Munchen and the Chinese Football Association

CHINA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd has once again teamed up with FC Bayern Munchen, the most successful German football club, to bring underprivileged football talents to the FCB Youth Cup final in June 2013 at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.

The Youth Cup is an international charity youth competition initiated by the FCB with support from several sponsors around the world such as Yingli Green Energy, adidas, Audi and Lufthansa.

This year Yingli Green Energy not only gives young soccer players from disadvantaged areas of China the opportunity to play in the FCB Youth Cup, but expands its engagement and will also host this outstanding tournament in Japan where talented 14 to16-year old boys from the three tsunami affected prefectures can show their football skills.

Yingli Green Energy joined hands once again with the FCB and the Chinese Football Association to scout the best junior footballers from underprivileged areas of China for the tournament final in Germany. Young football players from all across China will be selected in Qingyuan football training base of Guangdong from February 17 to February 23, 2013.

At the end of this competition in Qingyuan, ten young talents will be selected to form an All-Star team of 10 players and travel to Germany to represent China at the final held in June 2013 at the Allianz Arena stadium in Munich – home of the FCB. Other FCB Youth Cup teams that will compete for the cup are from Brazil, Japan, Germany, Italy, Austria and India.

The selection competition in Japan is planned for April with young football players from Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, whose lives were changed by the tsunami and its aftermath in March 2011. Ten selected football talents will also join the international final in Germany.

AV Solar Ranch One solar power plant achieves 100 MW milestone

USA: First Solar Inc. announced that the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project has achieved a peak generating capacity of 100 megawatts (MW)AC connected to the electrical grid. The photovoltaic (PV) power plant, which is under construction in northern Los Angeles County, will have a generating capacity of 230 MWAC upon completion, expected later this year.

Initial construction on the solar project began in Sept. 2011 and module installation started in June 2012, providing an average of 400 jobs during the construction phase. Power from the plant is being purchased by Pacific Gas and Electric Company under a 25-year contract.

"We are proud to achieve this important clean energy milestone for California, which was made possible by the tireless efforts of hundreds of individuals working together. We especially appreciate the support of LA County's Fifth Supervisorial District staff and the departments of Regional Planning and Public Works for their contributions to making this project a success," said Lou Moore, First Solar senior VP of Engineering, Procurement and Construction.

"Unlike traditional power plants, the modular nature of PV power projects enables us to quickly add substantial volumes of clean energy to the grid throughout the construction process. This shorter ‘time to energy' is another key advantage of PV solar electricity."

Dennis Hunter, deputy director of Los Angeles County Public Works, congratulated First Solar on its achievement at Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One. "We appreciated the opportunity to work with the First Solar team to reach this operational milestone."

When fully operational, the facility will generate enough power for 75,000 average California homes and will displace about 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. That's equivalent to taking 30,000 cars off the road on an annual basis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Solar America completes testing of solar power station prototype

USA: Solar America Corp. has completed initial testing of its revolutionary Solar Power Station.

The Solar Power Station connects to almost any type of commercially available solar panel and provides all necessary systems to convert the power of the sun into clean, environmentally friendly AC power that can be either utilized locally or sold back into the power grid. For those interested in being completely “off-grid,” an optional battery pack system easily connects to the Solar Power Station in order to provide hours of uninterrupted AC power.

The Solar Power Station, which is designed to work with existing products from major solar industry players including SunPower Corp., Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd and Enphase Energy Inc. is intended to bring a new level of solar product integration previously unavailable to the average homeowner.

"We believe the Solar Power Station is the must-have addition to any home solar power project," stated Robert Bludorn, chairman and CEO.

"The ease of installation and integration will help bring the solar power revolution home to the average American family. The coming months will be an exciting time for Solar America as we begin the process of bringing our American solar solutions to market.”

EMCORE solar panels power the Orbital-built LDCM satellite

USA: EMCORE Corp. announced that EMCORE solar panels are powering the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite that was successfully launched on February 11, 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

LDCM was designed, built and tested by Orbital Sciences Corp. for NASA to support the Landsat Earth observation program that began over four decades ago. The LDCM satellite continues a 40-year legacy of seven previous satellites that have collected vital data and images of the Earth's surface and environment.

NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS) share responsibility for the LDCM program. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center oversaw development of the flight systems including the LDCM spacecraft and the onboard instruments, and is responsible for mission operations, launch, and in-orbit checkout.

The USGS will operate the satellite and the Landsat ground network, image-processing and archive facilities. The data collected constitutes the longest ongoing record of the Earth's surface as seen from space and benefits many industries including agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, emergency response and disaster relief.

The knowledge gained contributes to research on climate, carbon cycle, water cycle, ecosystems, biogeochemistry and changes to Earth's surface, as well as our understanding of visible human effects on land surfaces.

LDCM joins Landsat 7, which is currently in orbit. Once the spacecraft completes in-orbit testing and is operated by the USGS, it will be renamed Landsat 8, reflecting its place in a distinguished legacy of highly-productive spacecraft. The satellite has two new spectral bands that will allow it to detect clouds on coastal zones. In addition, it will produce more than twice as many images per day than the Landsat 7.

LDCM is approximately 20 feet tall with a 9-foot diameter at its widest point. The solar array has four EMCORE solar panels that will extend 32 feet from the satellite when deployed and feature high-efficiency BTJ triple-junction solar cells delivering 3,750 watts of power at End-Of-Life (EOL).

Impact of anti-dumping and/or countervailing measures on imports of solar modules, cells and wafers from China on EU

GERMANY: On September 6th 2012, the European Commission started an anti-dumping proceeding against China in order to investigate if the prices of Chinese manufactured crystalline photovoltaic wafers, cells and modules are dumped. On November 8th 2012, it also commenced a parallel anti-subsidy proceeding.

In its study, Prognos sets forth the effect that anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties would have on the demand for solar installations and, as a consequence, on employment and value added along the photovoltaic (“PV”) value chain in the EU. We have concluded that, if anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties were imposed, these would increase the market price of Chinese PV modules, cells and wafers.

This price increase would result in increased costs of installations. As a result, the viability of installing PV modules in many markets will be negatively impacted, in other words, the European PV market will shrink.

This reduction in market size will cause a commensurate decrease in installation, engineering and other related services. Moreover, upstream operators in the EU, such as production equipment producers or suppliers of raw materials and components, would suffer due to the decrease in demand from Chinese producers. EU producers of PV modules, cells and wafers might increase production and sales in certain areas, but any increased employment or value added would be significantly outweighed by the much larger decrease in employment and value added that would be suffered by upstream and downstream operators.

On the basis of the market size, the estimation of employment effects of anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties on the imports of solar panels from China leads to four main findings.

1. Employment in the solar sector in Europe decreases because the demand for PV products decreases which results in less value added, i.e. less solar installations and less demand of BOS components.

2. Employment and value added are also affected by the decrease of exports of raw materials and machinery from EU Member States to China.

3. Moreover, all other segments of the EU economy such as the supply of engineering or other services are suffering from the decrease in demand for solar products.

4. Employment and value added in the EU may be somewhat positively affected by a limited increase of production of solar products in the EU.

We use dynamic Input-Output-Tables (IO-Tables) to calculate the employment effects and additional value added reductions in the European economies as a whole. Our analysis is conducted in detail for the five major EU-countries named above. To cover the European market as a whole, the employment effect on the aggregate of the EU-27 is estimated in addition.

Impact on EU employment and value added
The anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties cause a reduction in demand, which is directly followed, on the one hand, by a shrinking demand for installations and services and thereby results in less value added in the crafts sector. On the other hand, the supply of intermediate inputs (including raw materials, components, production equipment) from Europe to China decrease. Additionally, the IO-Tables account for the (indirect) value added reductions in the European economies as a whole (i.e., the impact on other sectors of the EU economy that will suffer from spill-over effects of the decreased demand for solar installations).

In our calculations, in an optimistic view, only anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties of 35 percent and above, may have have some positive effect on the production of solar products in the EU as their relative position in the market improves. In case the EU producers gain some market share and augment their outputs, this will lead to some increase of employment and value added in the EU. However, this positive impact is dwarfed by the impact of the loss of demand for solar products and the spill-over effects this has for the EU solar value chain and the other branches of the EU economy linked thereto.

This study demonstrates that anti-dumping and / or countervailing duties would have a negative impact on employment in the EU with 115,600 (scenario 1) to 193,700 (scenario 3) jobs being lost within the first 12 months. However, in the third year, the total job losses would range between 175,500 (scenario 1) and 242,000 (scenario 3). As these job losses have to be interpreted as an average over the three year we conclude that 218,200 jobs are at risk in the EU Member States.

The job increases as a result of increased production of EU solar products represent at the very most 17-20 percent of the jobs lost along the PV value chain due to the imposition of anti-dumping duties.

Losses in value added in the EU would be also be very significant. These would range between € 4,740 million and € 7,500 million (scenario 1) and € 7,860 million and € 10,220 million (scenario 3) from the first to the third year of implementation of the duties. In total over three years € 18.4 billion would be lost in scenario 1 and € 27.2 billion in scenario 3.

If, as mentioned above, in an optimistic view EU producers can somewhat increase their production, the additional value added might be between 10 percent to not more than 20 percent of the loss in value added along the PV value chain.

Irrespective of the three scenarios which are given for illustration purposes, we conclude that, any imposition of a duty at whatever level will cause demand for solar installations to decrease thereby triggering important losses of jobs and value added.

IdeemaSun energy realises 2 MW PV power plant in Romania

GERMANY & ROMANIA: IdeemaSun energy GmbH has successfully entered the Eastern European market following the connection of a 2 MW solar farm to the grid. As the EPC partner for a Romanian investor, the company completed the installation 20 km north of Bucharest.

The power plant was completed within the short construction period of only three weeks. Approximately 8,300 Hanwha SolarOne modules as well as 66 Power-One inverters were used in construction. The power plant near Bucharest will produce 2,700 MWh of solar power annually, which will be fed into energy supplier ENEL's grid.

"We see big potential for growth in the Romanian market, and our internationalisation strategy has gotten to a very good start with this quick and successful project," reports Meik Rekowski, MD of IdeemaSun energy. "Our project pipeline currently amounts to about 30 MW. In order to better meet customer needs on site, we will set up a new subsidiary in Bucharest within the next two months."

Financing in Romania is based on a quote model with emissions credits. The new power plant with its power of 2 megawatts is one of the largest PV projects in the country and will receive six CO2 credits for a period of 15 years. These credits can be used by energy suppliers or manufacturing companies which consume large amounts of electric current in order to meet the requirement of 14 percent electric current from renewable energies stipulated by the government.

Solar industry impressing investors with gains in 2013 after dismal 2012

USA: After struggling through most of 2012, the solar industry has started 2013 on an impressive run. Both the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (KWT) and the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) have gained nearly 20 percent year-to-date. Research Driven Investing examines investing opportunities in the Solar Industry and provides equity research on LDK Solar Co. Ltd and JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd.

Solar companies received a boost last week after analysts from Citigroup's global solar sector research team initiated coverage on several companies in the industry. First Solar, Inc. and SunPower Corp. were the biggest gainers after receiving an initial "buy" rating from Citi, while Trina Solar Ltd. and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. benefited from a "neutral" rating.

"The upstream segment of the solar value chain is going through a permanent structural shift - mainly the commoditization of the panel manufacturing business," wrote Citigroup analyst Shahriar Pourreza.

Research Driven Investing releases regular market updates on the Solar Industry so investors can stay ahead of the crowd and make the best investment decisions to maximize their returns. Take a few minutes to register with us free at www.RDInvesting.com and get exclusive access to our numerous stock reports and industry newsletters.

LDK Solar is a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) products. The company manufactures polysilicon, mono and multicrystalline ingots, wafers, cells, modules, systems, power projects and solutions. The company reported its net loss shrunk to $136.9 million in the third quarter, compared to a net loss of $254.3 million in the previous quarter. Shares of LDK Solar have gained over 35 percent year-to-date.

JinkoSolar has built a vertically integrated solar product value chain with an integrated annual capacity of approximately 1.2 GW each for silicon wafers, solar cells and solar modules as of September30, 2012. The company is scheduled to release results for the fourth quarter of 2013 on Tuesday, March 5th. Shares of JinkoSolar have gained over 55 percent year-to-date.

Solar Flow-Through applies for 126 solar contracts with Ontario Power Authority

CANADA: Solar Flow-Through Ltd Partners, a limited partnership with offices in Vancouver and Toronto, reports that it raised $2,857,000 in Q4 2012 through a private placement.

The funds will be used to develop and operate solar power generation projects in the Province of Ontario under the Ontario Power Authority's (OPA) Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program. FIT contracts provide fixed purchase rates for solar power and are guaranteed by the OPA for 20 years.

Together with its solar developer partners, Solar Flow-Through submitted 126 project applications for OPA contracts in January 2013. The applications totaled approximately 37 MW DC. FIT contracts are awarded by the OPA based on the OPA's Priority Points system for each project application. In order to increase the number of Priority Points for its projects, Solar Flow-Through partnered with two First Nation bands as well as one of Ontario's largest community co-ops.

All projects submitted were commercial rooftops and were 600 kW DC or less ("Small FIT"), which is the limit set by the OPA for this round. The OPA has stated that its objective is to issue contracts by the end of March 2013. Solar Flow-Through intends to develop all projects submitted to the OPA that receive contracts using 20 percent equity and 80 percent debt.

In addition to the 126 projects submitted by its partners, Solar Flow-Through intends to obtain economic interest in other solar developers' Small FIT projects that receive contracts from the OPA in this round.

The OPA has stated that submissions for contracts for projects in excess of 600 kW DC ("Large FIT") will occur later in 2013. Contracts will be awarded for these projects based on Priority Points again. Solar Flow-Through intends to leverage its existing strategic partner network of solar developers, First Nation bands and community co-ops to apply for contracts in the Large FIT round later this year.

As a result of the success of its initial private placement in 2012, the number of project application submissions under Small FIT, and the opportunity to participate in the upcoming Large FIT program, Solar Flow-Through intends to conduct a second private placement in Q2 2013 for up to $10,000,000.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Diehl Controls transfers PV business to mutares Solar

GERMANY: Diehl Controls, subgroup of Diehl Group, Nuremberg, will sell the business unit photovoltaics with effect from 1April 2013 to mutares Solar GmbH, a 100 percent subsidiary of mutares AG, Munich. mutares AG will strategically develop the photovoltaics business located in Wangen.

All 82 employees will be taken over by the new owner. The manufacturing of the photovoltaics products remains with Diehl Controls. The business areas Appliance and Smart Home are not affected by this transaction. Diehl Controls refocuses with this transaction on its core competencies in the OEM business.

In 2005, Diehl Controls entered the pholtovoltaics business with the development and manufacturing of solar inverters as well as the related communication equipment branded Platinum. The brand Platinum reached Sales of EUR 50 million in 2012. Diehl Controls transfers its photovoltaics activities to a competent partner as part of a corporate refocusing program.

Strong partner
'Since mid-2012 we've been searching intensively for a partner, who can strategically develop the photovoltaics business and has a strong sales expertise', explains Dieter Neugebauer, member of the Corporate Division Board of Diehl Controls.

'After constructive negotiations, we are glad to have won mutares AG as a partner that is interested in a successful expansion of this business unit and that will further develop the photovoltaics activities at this location. Particularly the technologically outstanding products together with the highly qualified and motivated employees are very important for mutares. Dr. Axel Geuer, executive and founder of mutares AG, evaluates the potential of the photovoltaics business positively:

"'The brand Platinum is well established in the market, the new product range R3 has great potential and has received positive customer feedback shortly after its introduction to the market. This is an important basis to develop the business towards long term profitability. However, in this know-how driven business the employees remain the most important potential for growth. Their creative ideas and designs will be a competitive advantage in the market.'

The collaboration in the photovoltaics business is not the first joint project of mutares AG and Diehl Group. In 2009 mutares AG acquired Diehl Elastomertechnik GmbH; the now called Elastomer Solutions Group has been growing continuously over the past years. Latest figures show a sales increase of +35 percent vs. 2009; also the number of employee has grown significantly.

IFC $1 billion green bond marks largest climate-friendly issuance

USA: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, issued a $1 billion green bond that will be used to support IFC climate-friendly projects in developing countries. The bond sets a precedent as the largest green bond issue to date and was principally allocated to socially responsible investment portfolios.

By making the three-year bond a benchmark issue available to investors globally, IFC aims to strengthen this growing asset class. The bond, which was heavily oversubscribed, was sized to address the demand from an increasing number of investors interested in climate-related opportunities.

“IFC is ramping up its climate-related investments because the private sector can play a leading role in addressing climate change,” said Jingdong Hua, IFC VP and treasurer. “Through its Green Bond Program, IFC enables large-scale investors to support projects related to climate change in developing countries.”

In FY12, IFC invested $1.6 billion in climate-related investments—more than 10 percent of the institution’s overall commitments for the year. About 70 percent of IFC’s investments in the power sector involved energy efficiency and renewable energy.  By FY15, IFC expects to double its climate-related investments to roughly $3 billion per year.

Stephanie Miller, IFC director of Climate Business, said: “The IFC Green Bond Program supports one of IFC’s strategic priorities to develop and promote innovative financial products that attract greater investments to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate-friendly projects.”

The bond received overwhelming support from investors focused on promoting socially responsible investments. Some of the participants in the bond include, 3M, Blackrock, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), Calvert Investments, Ellomay Capital, Fjärde AP-fonden, Ford Motor, Local Government Super (LGS), Parnassus Investments, Praxis Intermediate Income Fund , SSGA High Quality Green Bond Fund, TIAA-CREF, and the Washington State Investment Board among others.

Maria Kamin, manager of Environmental, Social and Governance Research at Parnassus Investments, said: "The IFC Green Bond complements our responsible investment strategies. We focus on incorporating environmental, social, and governance analysis into our investment research. By giving investors in the Parnassus Fixed-Income Fund exposure to this unique bond, we can further support climate-related investments and receive a positive financial return."

Bill Hartnett, Head of Sustainability at Local Government Super (LGS), said: “LGS is proud to be the ultimate owner of part of this IFC Green bond issuance. The green bonds appeal to LGS on many fronts. They are triple-A-rated notes with competitive terms. They are financing much needed green infrastructure projects globally.”

IFC green bonds support projects to reduce greenhouse emissions—for example, by rehabilitating power plants and transmission facilities, installing solar and wind power, and providing funding for new technologies that result in significant reductions in emissions. To date, IFC has issued about $2.2 billion in such bonds.

Criteria for the use of IFC green bond proceeds are certified by Cicero, an independent research center associated with the University of Oslo.

Memorandum in relation to development of solar PV power stations

CHINA: This is a voluntary announcement made by China Gogreen Assets Investment Ltd.

The board is pleased to announce that on 16 February 2013, Beijing Jun Yang, a non wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, entered into the Memorandum with Xuchang Government in relation to the development of the Xuchang solar PV power stations (with an aggregate installed capacity of 60-megawatt) in Xuchang City, Henan Province, the PRC.

The total investment of the project is expected to be approximately RMB720,000,000 (equivalent to HK$892,800,000) which shall be funded by the Group with its internal resources and bank borrowings, together with government subsidy from the “Golden Sun Demonstration Project.

The board considers that the Memorandum offers a good opportunity to the Group to broaden its business.

Friday, February 15, 2013

PV demand in the Asia Pacific region to reach 13.5 GW in 2013

USA: Solar photovoltaic (PV) demand from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is forecast to grow to 13.5 GW in 2013, growing 50 percent Y/Y, according to the NPD Solarbuzz Q1’13 Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report.

China, Japan, India, and Australia remain dominant for PV demand in the APAC region, and they will account for 90 percent of APAC demand in 2013. However, discrete end-market demand environments are now evolving in each of these countries. As a result, PV suppliers and technologies are being selected in each territory based upon factors such as domestic manufacturing, policies, import duties, and customer preferences.

“Having a single go-to-market strategy to meet growing PV demand across the entire APAC region is no longer viable,” stated Chris Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Leading APAC countries are now evolving into micro-climates that create customized supply channels. Suppliers are being forced to pick and choose the countries and application segments that overlap with their product portfolios and corporate strategies. Quarterly cycles also continue to define PV demand, reflecting the effects of policy deadlines and weather-related seasonality.”
Source: NPD Solarbuzz Q1’13 Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report.

In Australia, the elimination of the Solar Credit Multiplier, along with incentive reductions in Victoria and Queensland, will slow PV growth during 2013. In Japan, demand will peak during Q1’13, ahead of scheduled tariff reductions in April.

The Chinese government will likely re-adjust the goals of its 12th Five-Year Solar Development Plan, and the country will see over 75 percent of its 7 GW demand in 2013 occur in 2H’13. However, it is crucial that any changes to the feed-in-tariff rates drive PV developers to complete their projects earlier in the year, thus avoiding the dramatic year-end demand swings experienced in the past.

In India, the final version of Phase II of the National Solar Mission program is still pending. The country could see a capacity increase from 3.7 to 9 GW, with an increased focus on the off-grid and rooftop sectors.

The threat of further trade wars involving APAC countries, along with other import restrictions, is segmenting the APAC region into country and application-specific markets. Domestic content restrictions on imported modules into India may strongly affect c-Si supply from China or any thin-film imports to India.

The APAC region is becoming more selective about technologies. In Japan, high-efficiency modules have become the preferred technology for locations with constrained space. In China, domestically manufactured multi c-Si modules are satisfying ground-mounted requirements. And in India, 1 GW of new demand will come from rooftop projects under Phase II of the National Solar Mission, which could further shrink this key market for thin-film suppliers.

“There are various factors driving overall PV demand across the APAC region, but each country is still subject to a number of risk factors,” added Sunsong. “For example, the Chinese and Indian markets are constrained by bank financing and grid accessibility, and Australia remains vulnerable to future policy shocks."

Panasonic in exclusive multi-year solar PV solutions development agreement with Coronal


USA: Panasonic Eco Solutions North America has signed an exclusive multi-year solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions development agreement with Coronal Management LLC.

The agreement highlights Panasonic efforts to bring the only comprehensive, end-to-end solution for solar PV projects from 250 kilowatts up to 20 megawatts to the commercial, industrial, municipal, and small utility sectors. Together, the two companies aim to develop, build and operate a portfolio of solar PV systems in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"The agreement with Coronal Management brings additional momentum to our platform as we become an integrated solar energy solution provider for customers with a shared understanding of the value of solar energy production and sustainability, both on the bottom line and from an environmental perspective," said Jamie Evans, MD,  Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. "We are committed to developing and promoting eco solutions, and with Coronal we can deliver more value for our customers."

The Panasonic and Coronal offering provides a single solution that includes financing, development, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) for the life-cycle of its installed solar systems. With its formidable financial strength, engineering and project management expertise, active environmental commitment and a robust system performance guarantee, Panasonic solutions will benefit both customers and partners for decades to come.

The leadership of Coronal Management brings over 80 years of unparalleled experience, expertise and success in investment and asset management, as well as a strong record of success in solar PV project development and financing. With the capability to bring to market a complete financing and asset management solution for scalable solar PV projects, the combination of Panasonic and Coronal results in a complete development, implementation, financing, and maintenance solution for solar systems.

"Working with Panasonic, we firmly believe we offer a truly unique platform to create the optimal, end-to-end solution for commercial, industrial, municipal and small utility solar PV projects," said Jonathan Jaffrey, CEO of Coronal Management. "This agreement allows Panasonic and Coronal to fill a critical gap in the solar market, with the potential to bring hundreds of solar projects into production, generating power for our customers, spurring the economy and helping the environment."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Japan, EU appeal renewable energy panel reports

EUROPE: On 11 February 2013, Japan filed a cross appeal in the dispute involving “Canada — Renewable Energy” (WT/DS412) and the European Union filed a cross appeal in the dispute involving “Canada — Feed-in Tariff Program” (WT/DS426). Canada had earlier appealed these reports on 5 February 2013.

Parties to a dispute can appeal a panel's ruling. Appeals have to be based on points of law, such as legal interpretation — they cannot re-open factual findings made by the panel. Each appeal is heard by three members of a permanent seven-member Appellate Body comprising persons of recognized authority and unaffiliated with any government.

The Appellate Body membership broadly represents the geographic range of WTO membership, with each member appointed for a fixed term. Generally, the Appellate Body has up to three months to conclude its report.

SunWize to develop two solar PV projects in Ecuador as member of North American consortium

USA: SunWize Technologies Inc. is working with three other organizations as members of a North American consortium to develop two major solar photovoltaic projects in the Republic of Ecuador.

These projects will help Ecuador diversify its renewable energy resources and promote energy efficiency among its people. In addition to SunWize, the consortium includes Solexica Energy Corp., JCM Capital, and Radical Energy Inc.

"Photovoltaic solar energy doesn't pollute air, soil or water, making it a sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice for energy production worldwide. As members of the North American Consortium, we look forward to providing the people of Ecuador with an energy resource that will serve them well in the years ahead." said Scott Tonn , CEO of SunWize.

The two photovoltaic projects—known as Condor Solar and Solarconnection represent 30 MW(AC) and 20 MW(AC) respectively. Combined, these installations will have an estimated peak capacity of 62.5 MW(DC) and will feature approximately 234,000 solar panels, multiple inverters and a substation to process and distribute energy to over 100,000 households in northern Ecuador.

The Condor Solar and Solarconnection projects will generate 200-400 temporary jobs during their construction phase and 10-15 permanent jobs.  In addition to providing local jobs and clean energy, the two projects will also reduce Ecuador's carbon footprint by eliminating the production of approximately 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to removing 8,697 midsize cars from Ecuadorian roadways.

The Condor Solar and Solarconnection projects will be constructed in a region of the Andes Mountains called Canton Pedro Moncayo. The area's average temperature allows solar panels to operate at optimum efficiency, while its altitude and location near the equator offer abundant sunshine with few impediments. In addition to its climate, there are other factors which make Pedro Moncayo an ideal location for solar projects.

" Pedro Moncayo 's geographic location will help these projects be both economical and efficient," explains SunWize president and COO, David Kaltsas. "However, the area is also surrounded by a number of tourist attractions, including the Mojanda stratovolcano. As a result, Pedro Moncayo is uniquely positioned to serve as a model of sustainable energy use that thousands of tourists will have the opportunity to discover and appreciate in the years ahead."

During the development of both solar projects, surrounding communities will host activities to promote and ensure sustainable development throughout the region. These activities will include training programs focused on renewable energy, health, sustainable agriculture, and arts and culture.

"The Condor Solar and Solarconnection projects are prime examples of how positive things can happen when likeminded organizations join forces," Tonn says. "Both as a member of the North American Consortium and as an individual company, SunWize remains dedicated to helping businesses, organizations and people worldwide discover the many benefits of renewable energy."

Dr. Charlie Gay elected to National Academy of Engineering

USA: Applied Materials Inc., the market leader in solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing equipment, announced that Dr. Charlie Gay, president of Applied's Solar division, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for his seminal leadership contributions to the development of the global solar PV industry.

Founded in 1964, the NAE provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education and is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

"We're delighted to welcome Charlie as a member of the NAE," said NAE president Charles M. Vest. "His achievements embody our mission to provide leadership and expertise for projects focused on relationships between engineering, technology and quality of life."

"Charlie's life-long passion for solar energy has greatly contributed to the industrialization of solar PV and we congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition," said Mike Splinter, Applied Materials chairman and CEO. "Charlie has been instrumental in driving the industry roadmap to bring down the cost of this technology and making solar a more significant contributor to the global energy mix."

An industry veteran with more than 35 years of solar experience, Dr. Gay's contributions across solar energy technology, manufacturing and deployment have helped the global solar PV market become a $50 billion industry and enabled the cost of solar to come down by a factor of 50 since 1978. More than 85 percent of all solar panels manufactured in the last three decades have been made using the groundbreaking metallization and packaging technology solutions developed by Dr. Gay and his teams over the duration of his career.

"It is an honor to join the ranks of NAE's prestigious members, whose innovations in engineering continue to improve our world," said Dr. Gay.  "Over the past several decades, we've seen significant technological advancements and cost reductions in solar energy, many in the last few years alone as we enter the zone of inflection where solar energy is now cost competitive with residential power.  There has never been a more exciting time to influence the world's long-term energy supply."

As founder of the Greenstar Foundation, Dr. Gay has worked continuously to apply solar technology to improve people's lives by delivering solar power to villages in developing countries. The Greenstar model has received recognition from international awards programs as diverse as the World Bank, the Stockholm Challenge, the Davos Conference and the Tech Awards. More recently, Dr. Gay was chairman of a project to electrify all the homes and schools in the rural Shaanxi Province of China.

Appeal for a grass roots energy transition

GERMANY: Messe Husum organised a press conference in Kiel on the subject of the energy transition at local level. Speakers included Schleswig-Holstein’s energy transition minister Dr Robert Habeck, Husum’s trade fair boss Peter Becker, the spokesman of the German Small Wind Turbine Association Roger Schneider and the marketing director of Energie aus Wind und Sonne GmbH, Stefan Ebert.

“The energy transition is a project whose success is dependent on private and local initiatives,” said Becker. “Municipalities and local authorities are increasingly relying on energy supply and production using renewable sources, as well as on energy saving, as can be seen from the exhibitors at New Energy Husum.” The leading renewable energy trade fair is being held in Husum for the ninth time, from 21-24 March.

Private consumption pays off
“We want to produce three times as much electricity from renewable sources as we need in Schleswig-Holstein by 2020,” added Dr Habeck. The energy transition minister called upon local authorities and private individuals to achieve this goal together. “We have to save electricity, insulate houses and build wind farms on the small as well as the large scale.”

Another important pillar of the energy transition besides wind power is solar energy. If you use the electricity yourself, you can save or cut the costs for domestic electricity, grid expansion and the renewables levy (EEG-Umlage).

“Despite the massive cuts in feed-in payments, private and commercial photovoltaic plants are still profitable, because the increasing electricity prices of the main power companies make solar power an attractive alternative. This is why there is a focus on power management at storage systems at New Energy Husum,” said Ebert.

The same goes for the small wind turbines. Schneider anticipates that the amortisation period can be reduced to as much as a third when you use the wind power yourself. “A one-family home can use 20 to 60 per cent of the wind power yield itself, and sell the rest”, said the small wind turbine expert. In commercial and industrial plants a turbine could even pay for itself within five to eight years.

Falling spot market volume shows solar polysilicon price crash is ending

USA: Activity has plunged in the global photovoltaic (PV) polysilicon spot market—one of many hopeful signs corroborating IHS’s prediction that prices for the key solar raw material soon will bottom out as supply comes into better alignment with demand.

The spot market in December of 2012 accounted for 20 percent of total polysilicon sales, down dramatically from its peak of 47 percent in May, according to the IHS Solar Polysilicon Price Index.

The high level of spot market volume in mid 2012 indicated that polysilicon was in an acute state of oversupply. Producers were dumping excess stockpiles on the spot market, driving down prices to bargain levels that lured buyers away from long-term contract agreements.

This phenomenon was associated with a major, sustained plunge in polysilicon prices, with the polysilicon price per kilogram falling to an average of $20.00 per kilogram at the end of 2012, down from $31.00 in February last year.

However, the fact that spot market volumes having fallen by more than half indicates that suppliers have reduced production to accommodate demand—suggesting that pricing is approaching the bottom.

“As IHS predicted in November, solar polysilicon pricing in early 2013 is nearing the end of its long, 24-month decline,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, director and principal analyst, photovoltaics, for IHS. “The drop in spot market volume, along with a range of other indicators, suggest that the price plunge that hamstrung polysilicon supplier profits throughout 2012 will soon come to an end.”

Tier 1 suppliers are leading the way in reducing production, following IHS’s advisory issued in September 2012. These companies are attempting to avoid a replay of 2012’s miserable conditions by controlling volumes and not inflating the spot market.

The top suppliers also have experienced erosion in their profit margins. Even the most competitive suppliers now are warning investors they cannot afford to continue lowering prices to gain market share.

With their factory utilization reduced, these leading companies now are incurring higher unit costs per part manufactured. This also will compel the top-tier suppliers to cease reducing prices.

Pricing is expected to start increasing this month and continues through March. While supply is adjusting to reduced sales, demand is expected to increase only modestly in 2013.

Even if demand increases at a higher rate than expected, Tier 1 suppliers will be reticent to increase production, keeping in mind that oversupply would destroy any price recovery immediately.

IHS Solar believes Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers are likely to play a reduced role in the market for several months. It will take prices higher than $25.00 per kilogram to stimulate the ramping-up of the idled factories.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Third-party-owned solar generated over $900 million for California in 2012

USA: Sunrun, the USA's leading home solar company, and PV Solar Report, an authority on solar market data, announced that third-party-owned solar delivered more than $938 million to the California economy in 2012. The single-year record means that California third-party-owned solar generated about the same amount in 12 months as in the previous five years combined. The third-party total represents 74 percent of the state’s 2012 home solar market.

An August 2012 report showed the business modeled had delivered $1 billion in growth for the state since it became a homeowner choice in 2007. Also called solar power service, third-party-owned solar means a provider like Sunrun owns, maintains and insures solar panels on a homeowner's roof.

Homeowners switch to solar without the high upfront cost, avoid the responsibilities of ownership, and save money on electricity bills. Sunrun pioneered the solar service model for home solar and is the market leader, installing $2 million in solar equipment every day.

“Nearly 75 percent of homeowners who went solar in 2012 chose third-party-owned, compared to 56 percent in 2011,” said Stephen Torres, founder and managing director of PV Solar Report. “We are seeing the most growth in low and median-income zip codes as companies like Sunrun continue to remove the barriers to access.”

As part of the 2012 analysis, Sunrun and PV Solar Report announced California’s Top Solar Cities for 2012 based on solar system contracts sold. Third-party-owned solar represented 75 percent of the 2012 home solar market among these cities. The state leaders for 2012 in order of total home solar contract value are:

1) San Diego; 2) San Jose; 3) Bakersfield; 4) Los Angeles; 5) Fresno; 6) San Francisco; 7) Corona; 8) Murrieta; 9) Clovis; and 10) Temecula.

“Solar service is bringing solar to more American families not only because it eliminates the upfront cost, but also because it removes the hassles of ownership,” said Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich. “Homeowners feel the impact of a tight economy and are looking for ways to own less in order to save more money. Our business model meets those needs, plus it helps the planet.”

The $938 million from third-party-owned solar for 2012 went directly to California local businesses and communities while helping homeowners of all income levels switch to solar. Two-thirds of home solar installations are now occurring in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 assessment from California Solar Initiative (CSI).

SOLON completes 459 kW solar project for Gila Bend water treatment facility

USA: SOLON Corp. has completed construction of a 459 kilowatt (kW) PV system at the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Facility for the Town of Gila Bend, Arizona.

The system is expected to offset the energy usage of the water treatment facility by 86 percent, which will save money for the Town of Gila Bend through reduced utility bills.

“The incorporation of solar into this water treatment facility is another great example of solar’s versatility at reducing power costs across the electric demand spectrum,” said Jared Schoch, VP and GM of Power Plants at SOLON. “We are very excited to complete this PV project for the community of Gila Bend.”

SOLON engineered, designed, constructed, and commissioned the fixed-tilt system. As a full service system provider, SOLON will continue to operate and maintain the system on behalf of Gila Bend.

“As part of our strategic focus on renewables and PV to drive down electric costs incurred by the Town of Gila Bend, our water treatment facility was selected because it had the largest electric draw of any Town-owned facility,” said Frederick Buss, Town Manager for Gila Bend. “This system will mitigate those costs greatly. SOLON has done a tremendous job yet again.”

The project development and system ownership was financed through a State of Arizona Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) grant awarded to the Town of Gila Bend for drinking water infrastructure improvements.

SOLON has installed nearly 65 MW of solar in Arizona, and 90 MW nationwide.

Solar capacity tops 100 GW on Asian markets

USA: Global solar-power capacity rose to at least 101 gigawatts last year as growth in China, the USA and Japan outstripped some markets in Europe.

About 30 to 32 gigawatts were completed worldwide, compared with almost 30 gigawatts in 2011, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) said in a statement. Solar photovoltaic plants can now generate as much electricity as about 16 mid-sized nuclear power stations, the lobby group said.

Governments from India to Chile are promoting sun-based power to satisfy growing energy demand while meeting emission targets. Global installations expanded last year after an equipment glut drove down solar-panel prices, even as European markets slowed following a reduction in state subsidies.

SEIA statement on President Obama's state of the union address

USA: Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress:

“In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a vision for the American energy economy that is in line with what SEIA is working to achieve – a robust clean energy industry that powers our homes and businesses while growing our economy and protecting our environment. Energy is a primary input to our nation’s economic system, so it’s appropriate that President Obama is placing emphasis on developing our nation’s robust clean energy resources to help rebuild the nation’s economy.

“We are especially encouraged by the president’s commitment to securing America’s place as a leader in clean energy innovation throughout the world. President Obama understands that the stakes are high and we must not fall behind other nations as the world shifts to emissions-free clean energy technologies like solar.

“We thank President Obama for his leadership and look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the White House to make solar an increasingly-important component of the nation’s energy portfolio.”

Global wind energy capacity grows 19 per cent in 2012

CANADA: The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) recently released its 2012 market statistics, showing continued expansion of the market, with global installed wind energy capacity increasing by 19 per cent in 2012 to 282,000 MW.

Canada remains a global wind energy leader as it experienced the 9th largest increase in installed capacity in 2012 (936 MW).  Both China and the United States, the world's wind energy leaders, installed more than 13,000 MW of new capacity in 2012.

"While China paused for breath, both the US and European markets had exceptionally strong years," said Steve Sawyer , Secretary General of GWEC. "Asia still led global markets, but with North America a close second, and Europe not far behind."

Canada now ranks 9th globally in total installed capacity with more than 6,500 MW of wind energy in operation - providing enough power to meet the annual needs of almost 2,000,000 Canadian homes. Ontario is the Canadian leader in the production of clean wind energy with more than 2,000 MW of installed capacity now supplying over 3 per cent of the province's electricity demand.

Both Ontario and Quebec will lead the country with new installations of clean wind energy in 2013 as the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) expects to see a record year for new installations with the addition of almost 1,500 MW of new capacity - driving over $3 billion in new investments.

The growth of wind energy development in Ontario and Quebec continues to have strong public support. A 69 per cent majority of Ontarians agreed "Ontario should be a leader in wind and solar energy production", compared to only 20 per cent that disagreed, according to the results of a January Oracle Research poll commissioned by CanWEA. Eleven per cent of respondents were neutral on the issue.
The same poll also found that solar and wind energy scored highest in a top-of-mind question about Ontarians' preferred choice for new electricity generation. A February 9 public opinion poll (available in French only) published in Quebec's Le Devoir newspaper showed 79 per cent of respondents support continued wind energy development in that province.

"Wind energy continues to enjoy strong majority support as a choice for new electricity generation in Ontario and Quebec because it is understood to be both good for the environment and a provider of significant economic benefits for local economies that host developments," said Robert Hornung , president of CanWEA. "Less well known is the fact that wind energy is also now cost-competitive with virtually every option for new electricity generation. It is for these reasons that wind energy continues to be the fastest growing mainstream source of electricity in the world."

The rapid growth of wind energy in Canada is also reflected south of the border where the American wind industry had its best year ever in 2012, with more than 13,000 MW installed. The extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) in the US means that although the market will slow substantially in 2013, it is unlikely to be as much of a slowdown as originally expected, said Sawyer.

Other highlights from the global annual market update include:

* Mexico more than doubled its installed capacity, installing 801 MW for a total of 1,370 MW joining the list of countries (now 24) with more than 1,000 MW of wind power capacity.

* European markets, led by Germany and the UK, with surprising contributions from 'emerging markets' in Sweden, Romania, Italy and Poland, accounted for 12.4 GW last year, a new record.

* Both the Chinese and Indian markets slowed somewhat in 2012, but their annual installations still came in at 13.2 and 2.3 GW respectively.

* Brazil led the Latin America market with 1,077 MW, to bring its total installed capacity to just over 2,500 MW, and Australia accounted for all of the new installations in the Pacific region, with 358 MW of new capacity in 2012 for a cumulative total of 2,584 MW.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Enphase Energy powers 302kW solar carport in Tempe, Arizona

USA: Enphase Energy Inc. announced that Cambio Energy of Tempe, Ariz. has completed a 302kW solar installation at Tempe Plaza, using the advanced Enphase Microinverter System.

Four rows of carport parking with 1,211 microinverters now provide solar power to the retail and office strip mall tenants and shade for shoppers. Safety, ease of installation and maximum energy harvest capacity were key factors in choosing Enphase microinverters instead of a traditional central inverter.

“We chose Enphase microinverters in order to eliminate high-voltage DC and reduce component expenses, saving us time and money during the installation process,” said Dillon Holmes of Cambio Energy. “And with real-time monitoring we can accurately forecast total energy output and troubleshoot the array for the lifetime of the system.”

Arizona is second only to California in combined state-level residential and commercial solar installations, according to the 2012 Q3 SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight report. As average installation costs decline, solar energy capacity is expected to trend upward in top-tier solar markets.

“We are delighted with the increasing adoption of Enphase in commercial solar projects in Arizona, and the opportunity to work with companies such as Cambio Energy,” said Paul Nahi, CEO of Enphase Energy. “Solar integrators and project managers are recognizing the benefits of Enphase’s microinverter technology and driving the adoption of solar as the leading renewable energy source.”

The Enphase Microinverter System offers a new approach to the installation, operation and maintenance of solar energy systems. Enphase Microinverters, the Envoy Communications Gateway and Enlighten web-based monitoring and analysis software work together to deliver increased energy harvest and unparalleled solar system intelligence. To date, Enphase has shipped over 2.6 million microinverters and is selling into nine countries across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.