May 7, 2015 – Tesla Powerwall is sold out until mid-2016
Just days after the Tesla Powerwall was announced, the company has reported that it has sold out of the hot new product until mid-2016.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated today in its first quarter earnings call that the company received more than 38,000 reservations for the Powerwall, which includes roughly 2,800 businesses looking to purchase the commercial version called the Powerpack.
“The response has been overwhelming. Like, crazy,” Musk said. “We’re basically sold out through the first half of next year.”
Musk himself even admitted that he thought Tesla’s latest product line would appeal more to industrial companies than individual customers. “We expect most of our stationary storage sales to be at the utility or industrial scale,” he said.
April 3,2015 – Aurora Energy Team won the Washington D. C. 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award
Aurora Solar Energy team is awarded the Washington D. C. 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award for Solar Energy services. This exclusive recognition is given annually to approximately the top 5 percent of qualifying service companies per category in each market who achieved and maintained a superior service rating on Angie’s list throughout the 2014 year. We thank our Customers and reviewers for their support and trust.
February 27, 2015 – Cheap Solar Cells Made from Shrimp Shells.
The materials chitin and chitosan found in the shells are abundant and significantly cheaper to produce than the expensive metals such as ruthenium, which is similar to platinum, that are currently used in making nanostructured solar-cells. Currently the efficiency of solar cells made with these biomass-derived materials is low but if it can be improved they could be placed in everything from wearable chargers for tablets, phones and smartwatches, to semi-transparent films over window.
Researchers, from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, used a process known as hydrothermal carbonization to create the carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from the widely and cheaply available chemicals found in crustacean shells. They then coat standard zinc oxide nanorods with the CQDs to make the solar cells.
January 14, 2015 – Most Americans are unaware of the true financial value of solar today. Seen by many as a technological luxury, solar energy is not seriously considered as an option by most homeowners in the U.S. However, a new study released today by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center shows that, in 46 of America’s 50 largest cities, a fully-financed, typically-sized solar PV system is a better investment than the stock market, and in 42 of these cities, the same system already costs less than energy from a residential customer’s local utility. Of the single-family homeowners in America’s 50 largest cities, we estimate that 9.1 million already live in a city where solar costs less than their current utility rates if they bought a PV system outright – and nearly 21 million (93% of all estimated single-family homeowners in those cities) do if low-cost financing is available.
So why aren’t more Americans investing in solar? There is a clear information gap, and with this report, we intend to open the eyes of average homeowners by showing that solar can generate both significant monthly savings and long-term investment value, and not infrequently, cost less than energy from some of America’s largest electric utilities. What’s more, it is our hope that people will come away realizing that solar is now not just an option for the rich, but a real opportunity for anyone looking to take greater control over their monthly utility bills and make a long-term, relatively low-risk investment.
January 6, 2015 – Baltimore County has granted permits for fewer solar projects than other surrounding suburban counties. In 2014, county officials issued permits for 279 solar hot water and solar electricity projects from Jan. 1 through early December.
Smaller counties permitted more projects during the same period, according data provided by their inspection departments: 936 in Anne Arundel County, 584 in Howard County and 494 in Harford County.
Carroll County, which has about one-fifth of the population of Baltimore County, permitted only slightly fewer projects than its larger neighbor — 238.
In Baltimore, several dozen solar projects are granted permits each year. Solar installers attribute the lower number in the city to logistical issues in historic districts and on flat-roofed row-homes. Read More
December 31, 2014 – Together we will have accomplished something truly remarkable by the end of 2014.
Thank you our Customers, our Team, and Suppliers.
October 27, 2014 – Solar Output from Large Projects Hit Record High in June 2014
According to a release by the US Energy Information Administration, power generation from solar projects with a capacity of 1 MW or more reached a record high in June this year at 2,061 GWh. This was primarily due to the recent, rapid growth in PV capacity. Solar electricity output in June is a good indicator of the recent growth of the solar industry, because June has the highest monthly average of sunlight per day. Electricity output of U.S. utility-scale solar generators in June 2014 was 23 times the level in June 2005.
October 6, 2014 – The Washington Post Belog: Benefits of solar panels clear after two years
My wife and I considered installing solar power in our Silver Spring home after a renovation focused on energy efficiency still left us with large electric bills.
The renovation included geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient windows and insulation throughout our 1920s bungalow, and sealing all air leaks with the assistance of infrared testing. Our starting point for educating ourselves on solar power was the DC Solar Tour in October 2011, which offered a great opportunity to visit solar users near our home and “ground truth” its costs and benefits. (This year’s tour will be held on Saturday and Sunday.)
The information we gleaned from the tour confirmed that we wanted a photovoltaic (PV) rooftop system. By November, we were getting proposals from five firms, including two that operate primarily in the leasing market. We were impressed with the leasing firms — and with the idea of being able to capture the environmental benefits and a bit of the financial reward of solar power while putting very little of our own money up front. However, given our plan to stay in our home for the better part of a decade, we decided that it would be advantageous to purchase a system.
The next step was vetting several companies via calls with recent customers to assess the accuracy of their production estimates and the quality of their workmanship. We also checked reviews available through Washington Consumers Checkbook and Solarreviews.com before we ultimately hired a local solar installation company.
This company had a strong reputation for quality, a very competitive price and, unlike some of its competitors, provided choices from a range of equipment manufacturers, including the Korea-based company manufacturing panels in the U.S. that we ultimately selected.
As is typical, the installation firm we selected used a sophisticated device called a pyrometer to measure the solar radiance received on our roof. This tool essentially builds a map of the sunlight expected on a particular roofline — preferably oriented south or west — taking into account your precise location (important for determining intensity of sunlight), tree shadows and other obstructions. This information, combined with detailed data on solar variability across seasons and local weather patterns, allows one to calculate the production expected from a particular solar array. It also provides information useful in deciding how large your system should be, and what parts of your roof are most productive.
We had a limited budget and wanted the system that would be most cost-effective over the long run. For our house, this meant a system of 32 solar 240-watt panels, each roughly 5 1/2 feet by 3 feet and 2 inches thick. The overall system size is 7.7 kilowatts. The panels are divided into two “strings” of 16 each, which are in turn connected to an inverter.
The inverters convert the direct current generated by the panels into the alternating current, allowing it to be tied into “the grid” operated by Pepco. Being tied to the grid means that you in essence “sell” the power you produce to the utility — which is great when you are producing more power than you are using. It also permits you to generate renewable energy credits but means that in a power outage, you are “down” with everyone else on the block. Having a solar array also means having a special “smart meter” (supplied at no extra charge by the utility) which measures the amount of power you are producing and the amount your home is consuming, with the “net usage” reflected on the meter.
During times of year like the early fall, when you don’t need heat or air conditioning, on a sunny day the electrical meter runs backward, as your generation is greater than your demand!
Perhaps the most important metric in our purchasing decision was the estimated annual production of 9,636 kilowatt hours per year, slightly more than half of our electricity usage for our 3,000 square foot home. While we could have installed more panels, there would be diminishing returns, as they would have been placed in increasingly less productive positions on our roof. The system — installed in a few days with minimal disruption to our household — covers the south facing part of our top roofline and less than half of our lower roofline (to best avoid shadows). Because they are on the rear of the house, the panels are virtually invisible from the street, and are not even particularly noticeable from the back. They are essentially maintenance free (i.e., they don’t require washing), though snowfalls can shut the system down until the black panels absorb enough heat to melt the snow.
Our gross cost, including all equipment, electrical panel upgrades and installation, was $35,000, which includes a five-year warranty on workmanship and between 12 and 25 years warranty on the components. As a practical matter, the federal tax credit of 30 percent made it far more affordable, and Maryland chipped in another $1,000 as a (taxable) clean energy grant, bringing our net cost down to under $24K. (The federal tax credit is scheduled to be eliminated at the end of 2016.) With solar prices tumbling, a comparable system would cost 25 percent less today.
A separate financial incentive is the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) one earns in states such as Maryland (as well as the District of Columbia) which have a “Renewable Portfolio Standard” (RPS) mandating that utilities produce a certain percentage of their energy from clean renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
Since our system went online in May 2012, we have averaged 8,860 kilowatt hours annually in production and have netted $2,319 in SREC income (an average of $122 per unit). SRECs are sold at auction and have different prices according to the state you are in — they have a much higher value in D.C. than Maryland. Virginia is among a minority of states, generally located in the South, that lack a RPS that would create a market for its rooftop production.
When you are assessing whether solar is for you, the solar installers all provide detailed information about when you can expect to “break even” on the cost of your investment, factoring in estimates of your production, usage, SREC generation and even the “opportunity cost” of the money you have invested. In our case, it was estimated that we would recoup our investment in just over nine years. Because our production is not quite up to our projection (caused by an unanticipated shadow from our eaves and some down time due to inverter issues and snowfalls), it will probably take us closer to 10 years. Still, not too shabby when you consider that after 10 years we will own a solar system providing us free electricity, with a projected useful life of an additional 15 years!
Assuming that one has a roof positioned to catch the sun and the necessary fund, the prospect of cutting one’s energy bills in half and generating valuable SREC income makes installing solar verge on “no brainer” status from a purely financial perspective.
But that’s not the only benefit: By installing solar, we have already avoided over 16 tons of CO2 emissions. We feel seriously good about doing our part to avoid contributing to climate change and the lung and heart damaging pollutants generated by the coal-fired power plants the Washington area relies upon.
Overall, we are very happy with the combination of saving significantly on monthly energy costs, lowering our carbon footprint and creating a valuable asset for when we eventually want to sell our green home!
Peter Murtha is an environmental lawyer and co-founder of 350 Montgomery County, a grassroots environmental group focused on climate change action. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His home is on the DC Solar Tour.
September 29, 2014 –US Installed 68 MW of Large Scale Solar Projects in August 2014
A total of 68 MW from 12 large scale solar power plants were connected to the grid in the US in August 2014. Cumulative installations up to August 2014 totaled 1,510 MW from 163 large scale solar power plants, compared to 1,511 MW connected in the same period last year. Among new generation connected form large scale energy projects so far this year in the US, solar is ahead Wind.
September 22, 2014 – Solar Systems in Germany Generate More Power Than Expected
According to a study by Fraunhofer ISE, the high yields of Germany’s solar systems are related to an upward trend in solar radiation. This indicates that the current radiation level in the country is considerably higher than the average values of the last 30 years. As these average values have generally been used in yield predictions up to now, actual PV system yields are exceeding their forecasts by approximately five percent, making them more cost-effective than anticipated. To take this effect into account, Freiburg researchers have adapted their quality assurance services for PV systems and are now basing their yield predictions on solar radiation data from the last ten years.
Annual Deviations in Solar Radiation from the Average Value in Germany
Up until now, experts have based their solar resource assessments on the assumption that possible radiation levels in the future will not significantly differ from the average values of the last few decades.
However, solar radiation is undergoing long-term trends – known as global dimming and brightening – which cause average radiation values to change over time. These changes are caused by factors such as increases and decreases in air pollution and the concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere.
In collaboration with ETH Zurich and Germany’s National Meteorological Service (DWD), researchers at Fraunhofer ISE have conducted scientific research on the extent to which past average values deviate from today’s radiation levels and how these deviations will impact yield predictions for solar installations. The team analyzed DWD’s radiation measurement data (spanning from 1951 to 2010) on selected locations in Germany. The results show that solar radiation has been increasing since around the mid-1980s (brightening), with current radiation levels at the locations under observation measured at around five percent higher than the average value between 1951 and 2010.
These findings prompted researchers at Fraunhofer ISE to analyze yield predictions for PV power plants being monitored by the institute, which uncovered similar deviations between past yield assessments and actual radiation and yield measurements. “Relying on average radiation values from the past 30 years causes a systematical underestimation of actual PV systemields in Germany by around five percent,” said Bjorn Muller, project leader at Fraunhofer ISE. “We expect that other regions experiencing the brightening effect are seeing similar
The investigation results are now methodically included in Fraunhofer ISE’s yield predictions. In order to more realistically assess investments in future PV system projects, the quality assurance specialists have decided to use a modified data base for their yield predictions. They now use satellite derived solar radiation time series from the last ten full years, which depict the increase in solar radiation, thus reducing underestimations caused as a result of this.
“Our yield forecasts are based on satellite data from the past decade, which enables us to determine the profitability of PV systems more effectively than before,” said Klaus Kiefer, head of the Department Quality Assurance PV Modules and Systems at Fraunhofer ISE. “They provide an improved decision support, for example when buying or reevaluating a PV power plant. Conducting further analyses when reevaluating PV systems can also help to significantly reduce investment risks.”
September 18, 2014 – Should You Lease Solar Panels or Own Them?
Solar energy has been used for thousands of years, from using the heat of the sun to dry clothing, to harnessing the energy of light to grow food. Only recently, have we been able to use this resource to generate power. With new advances in technology, as well as the social movement to “go green,” solar energy systems are now more common than ever in private homes. Additionally, considerable financial incentives and options make owning a solar energy system possible for the average homeowner.
Although the initial capital to install a solar energy system in the home is high, financing has never been easier. In fact, it is easier to finance the installation of a solar energy system than any other home improvement project. This is largely due to the fact that solar energy has the potential to generate revenue through grants, federal and local tax credits and utility savings. Given these benefits, many financial institutions will approve loans for solar energy systems with highly attractive terms.
In addition to easy financing, there are many financial incentives associated with owning a solar energy system. For example, the Maryland Energy Administration provides $1000 grants for residential solar installations, many Maryland counties recognize up to a $5000 property tax credit to install solar panels. Federal tax credits are also available, worth 30% of the system cost which delivers a true dollar for dollar credit, it’s not a deduction. When combined, federal, state and local incentives, as well as individual utility bill savings, make the investment in a solar power project very attractive.
These days, you can buy into solar power much like you own a new car. Solar leasing has helped the residential solar market grow significantly, and has made solar energy more accessible to homeowners who would rather “rent” than own their energy. The problem with solar leasing is that while it may initially save customers money on their electric bill, the long-term cost might actually be higher than the cost of ownership. With a solar lease you cannot capitalize on available grants and incentives because you do not own the solar system. The leasing company assumes most of the benefit and will own the system that you’ll be making payments on for the next 15 – 20 years.
Owning a solar system can dramatically raise your home’s value and provide additional dividend during resale. If you lease a solar system, you create security interest on your home that a potential homebuyer might not want to assume or can’t qualify for the lease assumption. Early termination of the lease agreement can come with hefty penalties or buyouts required to sell your home.
Overall, solar energy systems provide homeowners a chance to invest in their homes and in their futures. This investment can improve your quality of life by saving you money, and protecting our natural resources so that future generations can continue to thrive. When making your investment in solar, work with your installer carefully to determine the best solution for your home’s current and future energy needs.
For more comments, please visit http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/09/why-lease-solar-panels-when-you-can-own-them
August 28, 2014 – Germany meets 75% of the domestic electricity demand with renewables
At 2 pm on August 18th the combined output of renewables in Germany amounted to 41 GW, enough to provide 75% of all the domestic power needed at that time. While such high shares of renewables are a positive testament of the energy transition, they are also evidence of the upcoming challenges.
Yesterday was neither an extremely windy nor a very sunny Sunday in Germany. However, at 2 pm wind power peaked at 18.6 GW, coinciding with 13.5 GW of solar power. Adding about 4 GW of hydro power and approx. 4.9 GW from biomass, to those 32 GW of variable renewable power (VRE), the total renewable output amounted to 41 GW at that hour. At the same time domestic power demand was 53.5 GW, thus renewables did in theory meet 75% of the German demand and only 13.4 GW of additional conventional power was needed. However, in reality conventional power was only throttled back to 21.4 GW.
The chart above shows the hourly power generation from renewable and conventional power sources. In this chart conventional power plants greater than 100 MW provide the electricity that is being exported. As we can see electricity was exported all day, indicating foreign demand for cheap electricity from Germany. At the time of high renewable generation, exports soared. In line with the definition of residual load, this should be attributed to a lack of flexibility in the power supply. In other words large conventional power stations were unable to reduce their output, leading to higher exports driven by negative spot market power prices (-5.9 cent / kWh at 2 pm*). Increasing flexibility and reducing power plant capacity that cannot reduce its output as required, is thus the big technical challenge of the coming years. (Thomas Gerke)
August 15, 2014 -New Material Allows for Ultra-Thin Solar Cells
Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology have managed to combine two semiconductor materials, consisting of only three atomic layers each. This new structure holds great promise for a new kinds of solar cell.
Extremely thin, semi-transparent, flexible solar cells could soon become reality. At the Vienna University of Technology, Thomas Mueller, Marco Furchi and Andreas Pospischil have managed to create a semiconductor structure consisting of two ultra-thin layers, which appears to be excellently suited for photovoltaic energy conversion
Several months ago, the team had already produced an ultra-thin layer of the photoactive crystal tungsten diselenide. Now, this semiconductor has successfully been combined with another layer made of molybdenum disulphide, creating a designer-material that may be used in future low-cost solar cells. With this advance, the researchers hope to establish a new kind of solar cell technology.
“One of the greatest challenges was to stack the two materials, creating an atomically flat structure”, says Thomas Mueller. “If there are any molecules between the two layers, so that there is no direct contact, the solar cell will not work.” Eventually, this feat was accomplished by heating both layers in vacuum and stacking it in ambient atmosphere. Water between the two layers was removed by heating the layer structure once again.
Part of the incoming light passes right through the material. The rest is absorbed and converted into electric energy. The material could be used for glass fronts, letting most of the light in, but still creating electricity. As it only consists of a few atomic layers, it is extremely light weight (300 square meters weigh only one gram), and very flexible. Now the team is working on stacking more than two layers – this will reduce transparency, but increase the electrical power.
July 28, 2014 – Apple is greening the cloud with this massive solar array
Apple, which once drew fire from campaigners for working conditions in China and heavy reliance on fossil fuels, is now leading other technology companies in controlling its own power supply and expanding its use of renewable energy.
Apple’s Maiden data centre in North Carolina is powered by a large 20MW solar farm and biogas fuel cells. Photograph: Apple Inc
July 24, 2014 – Google, IEEE Kick Off $1 Million Contest To Create Smaller Inverters.
Internet giant Google has teamed up with IEEE to launch the Little Box Challenge, an open competition to build a much smaller power inverter.
The companies say the Little Box Challenge, which will offer a $1 million prize, is designed to spur innovation that can drive a 10 times or greater reduction in the size of power inverters. Inverters are used to convert direct-current energy that comes from wind, solar and electric vehicles, among other things, into alternating current. Specifically, the project is looking for a kilowatt-scale inverter that is the size of a small laptop and has a power density greater than 50 W per cubic inch.
The companies say these technology advancements can lead to higher efficiency, increased reliability and lower energy costs. For example, a smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world.
“We are very pleased to present this important initiative together with Google to encourage innovation,” comments Don Tan, president of the IEEE Power Electronics Society. “By participating in this challenge, members of industry and academia can play a pivotal role in a technological innovation that could have a major impact on the world.”
July 9, 2014 – Mega announcements by U.S. President Obama could lead to hundreds of megawatts of solar deployments in the next few years meaning that 2014 could very well go down in history as the year that solar got real.
Utah, USA — May 9 was a big day for the solar industry. Forget big — huge. It’s a rare occasion when the most powerful person in the world takes to the bully pulpit to sing the virtues of a particular industry, and even rarer when that praise is backed up by action and dollars. But that’s precisely the gift that advocates of the U.S. solar industry were given when President Obama announced a massive, $2 billion federal funding package in combination with executive orders and hundreds of private and public sector commitments to drive forward one of the most rapidly growing renewable energy industries in the nation.
A new 1.1-MW solar array built by REC Solar atop the future Miami-Dade IKEA store opening this summer in Sweetwater, FL. IKEA is one of the of the many commercial sector leaders that made solar commitments as part of Obama’s Year of Action solar speech. Credit: IKEA.
July 1, 2014 – China Becomes World’s Largest PV Market
According to the Global New Energy Development Report 2014, China has surpassed Germany as the world’s largest PV market. The report, which was prepared by Hanergy Holding Group and China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, provided a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the global renewable energy market.
The global PV market saw 38.7 GW of new capacity installed in 2013, bringing the cumulative installed PV capacity to 140.6 GW, the report said. New PV installations in China saw the addition of 12 GW in 2013, up 232 percent year on year, demonstrating that the global PV market has gradually shifted from Europe to Asia.
The global new energy industry experienced sustained growth in 2013, as governments aligned their national energy mix to eliminate pollutants and improve the ecological environment, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce vice president Zeng Shaojun said. Chinese companies will be investing more heavily in technological advances and accelerate their pace of going global, in an effort to increase their shares in the global new energy market, Zeng added.
Since 2012, Chinese regulators have been releasing a series of policies and measures, including the State Council’s Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of the PV industry, significantly propelling the development of the country’s solar power market. As of the end of 2013, China’s grid-connected solar capacity reached 14.79 GW, up 340 percent year on year.
During the previous few years, China’s PV export demand had plunged on weak economic growth in Europe and the U.S., lower subsidies for exports to major European and U.S. markets as well as protectionist policies. However, the PV industry took a favorable turn in 2013 thanks to the country’s optimization of its export structure by shifting to emerging markets. China’s exports of solar cells and modules to Asia surged 124 percent year on year to US $5.5 billion in 2013, accounting for 44.8 percent of the total, while those to Europe fell 62 percent to US $3.72 billion. During that same year, the country exported US $570 million of solar cells and modules to Africa, up 387 percent from the previous year.
In 2013 many industry players, including Ningxia Sunshine Silicon Industry, were forced to declare bankruptcy due to a severe overcapacity in the global PV market. The exit of weaker competitors brought about a higher market concentration, giving an impetus to a new round, yet, more structured development of China’s PV industry.
China’s PV industry is expected to see a continued recovery in 2014, as economies in Europe and the U.S. stabilize and demand from emerging markets increases. The National Energy Administration announced on May 22 that the country aims to add 14 GW of installed PV capacity in 2014, up 24 percent from 2013.
June 25,2014 – Germany gets 50% of electricity from solar
In early June solar panels in Germany accounted for a little over half of the entire country’s energy production.
On Monday June 9, 2014 solar panels in Germany produced 23.1 GW of electricity– or a little over half of the electricity Germany consumed that day. Though this surge in solar panel power only lasted for one day, it is an indicator that solar technology is beginning to make par for supplying base load power– a hurdle solar panels have yet to overcome on a large scale. While other countries are building massive solar farms in an attempt to supply base load power to residents, Germany’s approach is quite different and might be one other countries should consider adopting after the June 9th feat.
90% of solar panels in Germany reside on the roofs of houses. Even though this doesn’t provide the same sizable punch from a singular source like a solar farm does, there are some advantages to this approach. Over the past 5 months solar power production in Germany is up 34%. Adoption of solar is easier on an individual level because roof installs can be done in a matter of hours, not the years it takes to put up a solar farm.
Changing climates can be advantageous instead of catastrophic. If bad weather falls over a solar farm then no energy can be produced. But if solar panels are dispersed through an entire countryside poor weather in on neighborhood won’t spell doom for the solar power production of the rest of the country. It might take a few more years for solar to start supplying all the energy we consume, it is instances like the one in Germany on June 9th that gives us hope for a 100% renewable future.
June 13, 2014 – Solar Energy Increasingly Considered a Safe, Attractive Investment
Pension fund managers are investing more in solar energy, undeterred by declining returns because the industry is considered a safe alternative to traditional securities such as government bonds.
That’s the conclusion of executives from two of the biggest Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which have listed their shares in New York. Trina Solar Ltd. said it’s seeing more interest from fund managers, and Wuxi Suntech Power Co Ltd. said these managers accept returns as low as 1.7 percent.
Pension funds are “prepared to invest more in PV, as they have done with wind, because they see it as a sustainable and reliable income,” Benjamin Hill, president of Trina’s unit in Europe, said in an interview.
The comments are evidence that fund managers are getting comfortable with solar projects, tapping stable returns as central banks keep their benchmark lending rates near historic low levels.
The European Central Bank earlier this month cut the main refinancing rate to a record 0.15 percent and moved the deposit rate below zero for the first time, meaning banks will be charged to park cash with the central bank.
While returns for new solar projects in mature markets are now too low for private equity firms, “many pension funds decide to invest into solar as it offers a good alternative to government bonds, and at the same perceived risk level offers higher returns,” Pietro Radoia, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said today by e-mail.
While the funds are most interested “in big utility-scale projects” earning between 2 percent and 5 percent, they’re content with lower returns if the plant is located in a country with a stable government and regulatory regime, such as Germany and the U.K., Suntech Chief Executive Officer Eric Luo said in a separate interview.
U.K. insurer Prudential Plc, which is also a top pension provider, earlier this year bought 25 percent of NextEnergy Solar Fund Ltd., a newly-listed 85.6 million pound ($144 million) fund that seeks to buy plants in the U.K. The South African Government Employee Pension Fund, the continent’s largest for retirement savings, said earlier this month it will buy a 40 percent equity stake in a concentrated photovoltaic project Soitec SA is building in the African country.
“Institutional investors that have in the past invested in government bonds are forced to look for alternatives amid low interest rates, and solar is an attractive one,” Philipp Seherr-Thoss, chief operating officer at Milk the Sun GmbH, a German online seller for solar power plants, said in an interview. “Solar is now a mature technology. You can invest large volumes over long periods with interesting returns.”
While institutional investors generally seek to buy parks starting at 5 megawatts to 10 megawatts, they “also invest indirectly via securitized vehicles of pooled smaller parks,” Seherr-Thoss said by phone from Berlin, where the company is based. He is managing the potential sale of a 30-megawatt plant in France that requires 40 million euros ($54 million) of equity and a portfolio of projects in Japan, he said.
Copyright 2014 Bloomberg
June 4, 2014 – New 20 Years Flexible Loan For Solar Installation
SunPower and Admirals bank have partnered together to offer homeowners an EXCLUSIVE SunPower offer on an improved 20 Year Loan:
Here are some of the highlights;
- Low monthly payments for homeowners
- Max loan amounts $ 60,000 for FICO customers 700+
- Funding for homeowners as low as 650 FICO for up to $ 25,000 funding
- Online payment quoting tool
- Rates from 3.95-7.95% dependent on term ( 5.95%-7.95% for 20 years)
- Quick Funding-in as little as two weeks
What do the homeowners get?
- Ownership/ keep tax credits
- Flexible terms up to 20years
- Additional tax benefit; interest is tax deductible on secured financing
- No prepayment penalties
- Easy online quoting and application process
- Customers can float the tax credit and/or re-amortize their payments using incentives
- Ability to roll in Roof Replacement and Tree Removal
May 27, 2014 – New Apple Patent Enables Integration of Solar Power with Multitouch, Flexible Displays
Apple has secured a patent that could lead to the creation of a new breed of mobile devices powered by energy from the sun, according to a report published on AppleInsider. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on 20th May granted Apple a modified version of a property covering solar panel integration in portable devices, widening the invention’s reach to cover electronics with transparent multitouch screens like the iPhone. As first reported by AppleInsider last February, Apple’s invention for integrating solar panels into touch-sensing components in a portable device were somewhat limited in scope.
At the time, the patent was directed mainly at multimedia players like the iPod. With Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,730,179 for an “Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly,” the company offers an alternate take on an hybrid solar system that can be disposed beneath a large touch panel and even flexible displays.
The new patent granted is a hybrid system in which one or more touch sensor and one or more solar panel layers are integrated into a single stack-up, thus saving space for deployment in tight areas like an iPhone’s chassis.The basic design uses a transparent double-sided ITO (DITO) substrate overlaid atop a solar panel cell array, which then translates light energy into electricity that can be stored in the onboard battery. A modification to the original property includes an arrangement in which a flexible single-sided ITO (SITO) substrate can be employed over a similarly flexible polymer solar cell panel.
Unlike the previous version of the invention, the solar panel may be mounted facedown in the stack-up, meaning it would be facing away from the user and back into the device. Due to this change, in some embodiments, the solar panel cannot act in an “optical sensing mode” where the array itself could be used instead of, or in concert with, the capacitive touch layer. It is unclear if Apple will inevitably use the above technology in a production model iPhone or iPad.
May 15, 2014 – Another White House Solar System Goes Live
The new 6.3kW system on the White House is on line. America is thrilled that the Obama administration commissioned another solar installation on the White House. Click here for a video of the installation. Over the weekend, workers finished putting solar panels on the White House’s rooftop, capable of generating 6.3 kilowatts of solar power, which will pay for itself in energy savings over the next six years, according to reports. The exact cost and number of panels have not been announced due to security concerns.
In Mountain View, Calif. on Friday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. would upgrade federal buildings for energy efficiency and support job training programs for the solar industry. President Obama also said major companies have pledged to increase solar generation at their facilities, and large Wall Street investment banks have also pledge more investments in solar and renewable energy programs.
May 12, 2014 – The White House Announces Ambitious Strategy to Advance Solar Deployment in US
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create more employment opportunities, President Barack Obama has announced over 300 commitments and executive actions to increase solar deployment and energy efficiency in both public and private sectors in the US, according to a press release by the White House. The commitments represent more than 850 MW of solar deployed – enough to power nearly 130,000 homes – as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower bills for more than 1 billion square feet of buildings.
May 6, 2014 – We scored “Best Practices” (52 out of 52 total possible)
The report card generated Burham Energy shows that our team meets and exceed code, installation and manufacturer’s specifications.
April 28, 2014 – US Installed 151 MW of Large Scale Solar Projects in March 2014
A total of 151 MW from 9 large scale solar power plants were connected to the grid in the US in March 2014. Cumulative installations up to March 2014 totaled 584 MW from 47 large scale solar power plants, compared to 877 MW connected in the same period last year. Among new generation connected form large scale energy projects so far this year in the US, solar is ahead of Wind (93 MW).
April 18, 2014 – White House Honors Solar Champions of Change
Yesterday, the White House honored ten ordinary Americans who are taking action on solar and distributed energy generation across the United States. These solar Champions of Change include former and current SunShot awardees who are doing extraordinary things in their communities to deploy solar energy, drive economic growth, and fight carbon pollution. Check out the blog post and the fact sheet, and congratulations to the honorees!
customized to emit different colors.
The new Perovskite solar cell glowed brightly when a laser beam was shone on it. This is a significant finding as most solar cell materials are good at absorbing light but are generally not expected to generate light. In fact, this highly luminescent new Perovskite material is also very suitable for the making of lasers. “What we have discovered is that because it is a high quality material, and very durable under light exposure, it can capture light particles and convert them to electricity, or vice versa,” said Asst Prof Sum, a Singaporean scientist at NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).
March 24, 2014 – The United States has now moved into third place globally in terms of solar installations. Unlike other markets, it has been a slower but steadier climb over the years, driven primarily by the 30 percent Federal Investment Tax Credit, which is set to go down to 10 percent at year end 2016. Mercom Capital Group, Inc. is forecasting US solar market to install around 6.4 GW in 2014. Utility-scale projects had been the primary driver of installations with a large pipeline of projects under development. The improving economy has improved the project financing environment, which was one of the primary hurdles to developing large-scale projects.
March 17, 2014 – US Electricity Retail Prices: EIA expects the US residential price of electricity to average 12.3 cents per kWh during 2014, an increase of 1.9% from 2013.
Residential electricity prices increase 2% during 2015.
February 27, 2014 – It is the time of year when our Customers are going to start doing their taxes for 2013. Our SunPower Customers will need the following document when filing their taxes.
February 26, 2014 – REC and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have partnered to develop high-efficiency solar cells based on n-type monocrystalline wafers.
n-Type solar cells have a higher efficiency potential than traditional p-type solar cells. Moreover, they do not display the light induced degradation that conventional p-type solar cells suffer from. However, n-type cells are more complex to manufacture and traditionally require expensive silver contacts on both sides of the cell.
Fraunhofer ISE has now developed a high-efficiency cell structure that avoids the use of an expensive silver contact grid on the back of the cell. Instead, this cell structure makes use of a combination of dielectric layers and localized contacts. REC, which has a vast experience in the development and optimization state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, will work together with Fraunhofer ISE to translate this technology from lab scale to a full production-ready concept. The new production process is expected to yield high-efficiency cells at competitive costs on proven production equipment. The latter will make it possible to implement this technology quickly in production once it is fully developed.
“The PassDop layer delivers excellent results on the conductivity of n-type solar cells. Through it, we can now achieve confirmed cell efficiency of 22.4%,” said Dr. Stefan Glunz, Division Director “Solar Cells – Development and Characterization” at Fraunhofer ISE.
February 7, 2014 – Aurora Energy, Inc. Earns Esteemed 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award.
Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service.
Aurora Energy, Inc.s has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2013.
“Only about 5 percent of the companies Aurora Energy, Inc. competes with in Maryland are able to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great customer service.”
Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.
January 27, 2014 – Sharp Corporation to End US Solar Panel Production: Sharp Corporation, a Japanese multinational corporation that designs and manufactures electronic products is set to terminate solar panel production in the US at the end of March 2014 due to global competition which is making the business unprofitable. The move is aimed at strengthening its domestic operations. The struggling electronics maker will cease solar panel production at its Tennessee plant and reduce its payroll by seeking voluntary early retirements. The US plant, which will continue to make solar panels, microwave ovens and printer toner, started producing the panels in 2003. About 300 people in its 450-strong workforce are engaged in the solar panel division.
Sharp Services and Solutions Group will continue to provide service and warranty support for solar products.
After shutting down the Tennessee operation, Sharp will have only two solar panel production bases – in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, and its Italian joint venture, 3 Sun. Sharp also plans to sell US-based megasolar subsidiary Recurrent Energy and shut down solar panel production in Britain at the end of February. Harsh price competition with rivals, especially Chinese makers, has been hurting Sharp’s profitability in the solar power business.
January 21, 2014 – Hot Nanotubes Helping Solar Panels Capture More Sunlight: A new approach to harvesting solar energy, developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use. In this case, adding the extra step improves performance, because it makes it possible to take advantage of wavelengths of light that ordinarily go to waste.
A conventional silicon-based solar cell “doesn’t take advantage of all the photons,” researchers, explain. That’s because converting the energy of a photon into electricity requires that the photon’s energy level match that of a characteristic of the PV material called a bandgap. Silicon’s bandgap responds to many wavelengths of light, but misses many others.
To address that limitation, the team inserted a two-layer absorber-emitter device – made of novel materials including carbon nanotubes and photonic crystals – between the sunlight and the PV cell. This intermediate material collects energy from a broad spectrum of sunlight, heating up in the process. When it heats up, as with a piece of iron that glows red hot, it emits light of a particular wavelength, which in this case is tuned to match the bandgap of the PV cell mounted nearby.
This basic concept has been explored for several years, since in theory such solar thermophotovoltaic (STPV) systems could provide a way to circumvent a theoretical limit on the energy-conversion efficiency of semiconductor-based photovoltaic devices. That limit, called the Shockley-Queisser limit, imposes a cap of 33.7 percent on such efficiency, but with TPV systems, “the efficiency would be significantly higher” – it could ideally be over 80 percent.
January 19, 2014 – 5-20 years unsecured Solar Loan through Digital Federal Credit Union: Residential solar installation may create positive “cash flow” vs. power bill if the solar system financed. Customer loan applications are accepted online at https://www.dcu.org/solar.
January 6, 2014 – Solar Beats Natural Gas in Landmark US Judicial Ruling: An administrative judge in the US state of Minnesota has ruled solar generation to be a better investment than natural gas for Xcel Energy, an electric and natural gas utility. The judgment is the first time in the US that unsubsidized solar energy has been officially ruled to be a better deal for ratepayers than natural gas in a competitive bidding process. The competitive bidding of utility-scale generation projects was ordered by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission to choose the most cost-effective projects to help Xcel reach what the commission said was an additional 150 MW of new capacity needed by 2017.
Administrative judge Eric Lipman compared five energy resources to determine the most cost-efficient generation to meet forecast energy shortfalls. A 100 MW PV project by Geronimo Energy, a Minnesota-based utility-scale wind and solar developer, was chosen over the others. Geronimo proposed to build 20 solar projects, across 17 counties in Minnesota – some as big as 70 acres and costing an estimated $250 million. Named the ‘Aurora Solar Project’, Geronimo’s solar project would receive no state or utility subsidies, but would qualify for a federal investment tax credit. The Aurora project is approved, with completion expected by 2016.
In his ruling Lipman said the project was the best way for Xcel to meet its near-term needs. Lipman ruled if solar is not sufficient to meet Xcel’s surplus energy demand, the utility should consider purchasing power from one of its competitors. Solar was considered in comparison to a gas turbine at an existing plant in Mankato, proposed by Calpine, and two turbines at Cannon Falls and Hampton, proposed by Invenergy, as well as Xcel’s own proposal for a gas plant. Lipman’s ruling still needs to be upheld by the Public Utilities Commission. The commission has a six to eight-month window to review and process Excel’s energy resource plans. In evidence given to the hearing in November, Excel disputed the commission’s estimates of its required new capacity, suggesting this week’s ruling may be challenged.
December 31, 2013 – A BIG Thank you to our Customers and Suppliers : Together we will have accomplished something truly remarkable by the end of 2013.
And this is just a start. Click here for a special SunPower thank you.
December 31, 2013 – Dramatic Solar Panel Price Declines Have Faded, Relatively Stable Module Prices for Past 12 Months
The principle driver for the reduction has been the decline in the cost of polysilicon, and to a lesser extent, increased cell efficiencies and compression in manufacturing margins. Polysilicon fell from >$300/kg in 2008 (~$2/watt) to $16-18/kg ($0.09/watt) in 2013, enabling the majority of the cost reductions in solar module pricing. Companies have also reduced their consumption of polysilicon with thinner wafers and diamond wire saws to reduce kerf loss and increase yields. In the long term, the transition from Siemens’ process to fluidized bed reactors with a cash cost of ~$12/kg will likely help to further reduce the price of polysilicon as additional capacity is built, making substantial increases in the price of polysilicon unlikely.
December 20th, 2013 – Baucus Energy Tax Reform Plan Reduces Solar Investment Credit
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has proposed a sweeping set of reforms on energy-related tax incentives that would overhaul energy tax breaks offered by the government and consolidate or extend many of the provisions promoting renewable energy that are currently only temporary.Notably, the plan ensures that all energy tax incentives would be technology-neutral and provide an equal credit to all U.S.-produced resources or technologies based on carbon emission levels.”Our current energy incentives are overly complex and far less effective than they could be,” writes Baucus. “Today, there are 42 different energy tax incentives. More than half are too short-term to effectively stimulate investments. They also provide different subsidies to different technologies with no discernible policy rationale. On top of that, they result in significant revenue loss: If we continue to extend current incentives, they will cost nearly $150 billion over 10 years.”The most significant ramification for the solar sector is the proposed reduction of the investment tax credit (ITC) from its current 30% to 20%. This aspect drew immediate fire from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, released the following statement:“While we appreciate efforts by Chairman Baucus to make the convoluted U.S. tax code simpler and fairer for everyone, we’re very concerned that reducing the solar [ITC] and dramatically altering the way companies depreciate their assets could jeopardize future clean energy development in the United States. At a time when we’re searching for creative ways to reduce carbon emissions, fight climate change and improve U.S. competitiveness, the continued development of a strong, viable solar industry in the U.S. is critically important.”Notably, the plan did not address expanding master limited partnerships to renewable energy, nor did it address depreciation. However, in November, the committee addressed the issue.When reached for comment, industry watchers gave the finance committee high marks for its ingenuity.”The proposal is innovative in that it’s technology neutral,” explains David Burton, a partner at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. “It is the most thoughtful that Congress has been with energy,” he says, adding that the plan’s streamlined approach could be used as a future model when – or if – tax reform talks progress.”Although the proposals set forth in the plan are a good way to approach energy,” Burton says, “I don’t see tax reform happening.”John Marciano, a partner at law firm Chadbourne & Parke, agrees. “[The proposal] probably has legs,” he says. “It represents a good starting point for discussions.” Nonetheless, he cautions that he doesn’t expect further action on tax reform to heat up before the 2014 elections.Akin Gump’s Burton calls Baucus’ rumored departure from chairing the Senate Finance Committee (to become U.S. Ambassador to China) “a setback” that would ensure the status quo remains in place.
December 8th,2013- The future of solar energy could be made in Michigan- Michigan’s Grand Valley State University files for patents on new solar panel design.
November 27th, 2013 – Solar energy was America’s sole new power source in October. “In October, power plants generating 530 megawatts of electricity came online in the United States. And every single electron put on the grid came from the sun, according to a report released today.” Read more about the coming photovoltaic building boom.
November 18th, 2013 – The solar industry will install about 34.7 GW of capacity worldwide this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s up 20% from a year ago, but it’s just scratching the surface of the industry’s potential.
The U.S. alone has 1,051 GW of power generating capacity and globally there was 5,066 GW of capacity in 2010, the most recent data available. If we assume that solar is generating full capacity 25% of the time (after all, the sun isn’t out all day), the industry would have to install about 4,204 GW in the U.S. and 20,264 GW globally to generate enough electricity to power the world. If the solar industry
grew 20% annually for the next 20 years it would install 1,330 GW in 2033, a pace that would about cover a 30-year replacement cycle of solar panels. Maybe growth will be faster, maybe it will be slower; the point is the solar industry has a lot of room for growth. For investors, the opportunity lies with companies who can exploit this opportunity to make a profit.” Learn more here
November 15th, 2013 – The time to go solar is NOW. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is discontinuing its Clean Energy Grants for leased solar PV systems. This discontinuation will allow the MEA to support local companies and homeowners who want to own their system. Check out Maryland’s various incentive programs here.
November 4th, 2013 – “80 percent of Americans want solar power, but only 3 percent obtain it.” This is changing… Solar is becoming more affordable as easy financing becomes a reality for most consumers.
November 2nd, 2013 –Bloomberg TV: The Advantages of Private Solar Installation – Video
October 26th, 2013 – An interesting article on the growing push for Aggregate Metering in the state of Maryland
October 11th, 2013 – Our solar installation team is back from SunPower training in Albany, NY. Training was conducted at the SunPower Training Center at Hudson Valley Community College. The multi-day course reinforced basics and covered best practices within the industry- further ensuring that our workmanship is second to none.
August 16th, 2013
Solar panels have begun to be installed on the White House’s roof, the first time solar power will be used for a president’s living quarters. In 2003, Aurora Energy installed a 9.21kW grid-tied, roof-mount, solar energy system on top of the pool house. The National Park Service, which oversees the White House grounds worked with the Aurora Energy team to complete the solar installation project. By installing this system, Aurora helped the White House and The National Park Service exercise their environmental leadership through energy efficiency and sustainable design.
Aurora has worked on other government solar installation projects. Our government project profile can be viewed here.
July 25th, 2013
Aurora Energy has been awarded a grade of A+ on the installation of SolarWorld solar modules. This Certificate of Audit Completion certifies that our company passes with flying colors in the areas of water tightness, roof penetrations, flashing and conduit runs, module and inverter connections, wire management, and NEC code compliance. Take a look at our certificate here!
June 19th, 2013
Now introducing the SunPower Combo Loan!
Choosing the SunPower SolarNow Combo Loan to pay for your new photovoltaic solar system is a great choice. The Combo Loan is two separate loans—a 12-Month Same-As-Cash (SAC) Flex Loan to cover you until receipt of anticipated tax incentives and rebates*, and a longer term 6.99% APR 12-Year Loan with equal monthly payments for the remaining project cost. (*Talk to your tax advisor about your particular tax situation. All loans must be repaid regardless of whether tax incentives or rebates apply in your case.) Learn More
June, 5th, 2013
SunPower Corp releases video on their newest PV technology, the X-Series Panel at 21.5% efficiency! Watch the video:
May, 23rd, 2013
Maryland vs Virginia On Solar Power (Infographic) | CleanTechnica ow.ly/lhA8f