2014 Solar Marketing Outlook

Each year, we survey a few dozen clean tech companies across many sectors of the industry - including solar, wind, geothermal and energy efficiency - to collect valuable data on marketing practices within the industry.

Case Study - Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, CA

Since the installation is located just 40 feet from world-class surf spot Steamer Lane, resisting the corrosive effect of ocean air required aluminum rigid conduit, stainless steel hardware, and anodized roof mounts.

Crowdfunding for the Ocean Energy Industry

Funding is one of the most significant challenges facing the ocean energy industry, and it's time to explore new opportunities.

SMA acquires Danfoss' solar inverter business

Germany-based SMA Solar is to acquire Danfoss’ solar inverter business. Danfoss will acquire 20% of SMA’s shares with a value of €302 million (US$415 million) in return for selling its inverter unit. It will receive SMA shares at a price of €43.57 50% premium on the average price during (US$59.86) the past 60 days. The alliance between SMA and Danfoss brings together respectively the world's largest and seventh largest inverter manufacturers by market share, according to an IHS study published in May. “The strategic alliance with Danfoss strengthens SMA’s leading position in the global photovoltaic market. We are faced with a highly competitive market environment and increased price pressure,” said Pierre-Pascal Urbon, chief executive of SMA. “In this context, SMA will benefit from Danfoss’ years of experience in automated drives. This market has been characterised by fierce competition for a long time. Accordingly, the strategy of the Danfoss group targets continuous cost improvements through global sourcing and cost down initiatives. By establishing a close cooperation there is significant potential to improve the cost position in both companies,” added Urbon The inverter market has been hit by the emergence of bigger utility projects that require larger but fewer inverters, and the rise of new players in the microinverter market that have stolen share in the residential sector.

Seattle Company Plans First Offshore Wind Farm on Pacific Coast

The nation’s first offshore wind farm on the Pacific Coast cleared a crucial federal hurdle after Seattle’s Principle Power received approval to move forward on a commercial lease for the proposed $200 million, 30-megawatt project.   Principle Power received the go-ahead this month from a Department of the Interior agency to lease 15 square miles of federal waters, 18 miles from Coos Bay, Ore. If the lease request gets final approval, the WindFloat Pacific project would anchor the first offshore turbines in federal waters on the West Coast. It also would be the first in the nation to use triangular floating platforms instead of single piles driven into the ocean floor.   At this stage of the complicated federal process, Principle’s plan is considered a demonstration project. DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released a finding that there are “no competitive interests for the offshore area of Oregon” where the company has requested the commercial lease. That finding clears the way under BOEM’s non-competitive leasing process for Principle Power to submit an implementation plan for the project. WindFloat Pacific will demonstrate floating offshore wind technology; it is one of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) seven Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects.

Tesla to reveal details of battery 'Gigafactory'

Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk says that this week, he will detail his plans to build a huge plant to make electric car batteries — so big that he calls it the "gigafactory."   Compared with Tesla's swoopy electric luxury cars, making lithium-ion battery packs sounds decidedly unsexy. But Tesla apparently views the plant as critical to its strategy. Reasons:   •Steady supply. Tesla will make the case that it needs its own source of battery packs. It has made no secret of its inability to get enough batteries through its deal with Panasonic to keep up with demand for its Model S electric sedan. It says the current shortage will last through the first half of the year.   •Other revenue streams. The plant could supply batteries to other carmakers and for other uses. Musk also is chairman of SolarCity, which has announced plans to sell Tesla battery packs to companies to use for emergency backup power storage.   •Future models. Tesla is developing a more mainstream electric car for sale in several years. But it will need to dramatically lower battery costs and increase supply to create a mass-market vehicle.

Stacking the deck

SUNLIGHT is free, but that is no reason to waste it. Yet even the best silicon solar cells—by far the most common sort—convert only a quarter of the light that falls on them. Silicon has the merit of being cheap: manufacturing improvements have brought its price to a point where it is snapping at the heels of fossil fuels. But many scientists would like to replace it with something fundamentally better. John Rogers, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is one. The cells he has devised (and which are being made, packaged into panels and deployed in pilot projects by Semprius, a firm based in North Carolina) are indeed better. By themselves, he told this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, they convert 42.5% of sunlight. Even when surrounded by the paraphernalia of a panel they manage 35%. Suitably tweaked, Dr Rogers reckons, their efficiency could rise to 50%. Their secret is that they are actually not one cell, but four, stacked one on top of another. Solar cells are made of semiconductors, and every type of semiconductor has a property called a band gap that is different from that of other semiconductors. The band gap defines the longest wavelength of light a semiconductor can absorb (it is transparent to longer wavelengths). It also fixes the maximum amount of energy that can be captured from photons of shorter wavelength. The result is that long-wavelength photons are lost and short-wave ones incompletely utilised.   Cont'd

California's Record-Breaking New Solar Plant Is Already Irrelevant

Last week, dozens of people, including Google energy chief Rick Needham and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, trekked out to the California-Nevada border in the middle of the Death Valley to dedicate what is believed to be the world's largest solar thermal facility in the world.   At 392 megawatts, the Ivanpah solar thermal plant will be able to power 140,000 homes — the equivalent of all of Newark (averaging two people per household).   We covered the project when BrightSource, the main developer behind the project, first put up a stunning 3-D tour of the site.   But for all its scale and beauty, in terms of the future of renewables, Ivanpah is already irrelevant.     Solar thermal creates electricity by using mirrors to direct intense amounts of heat at a centralized collector, which is used to heat a substance like water to create steam power. Solar photovoltaic, meanwhile, directly converts solar energy into electricity through semiconductors.   If solar thermal sounds unnecessarily complicated, you're right. Solar photovoltaic has seen explosive growth in the past few years thanks to plummeting material costs, state incentives, and eco-conscious homebuyers putting up panels on their roofs.  But solar thermal growth has stalled, and is expected to continue to do so.  Ivanpah cost $2.2 billion. Warren Buffett paid the same amount for the world's largest photovoltaic plant just up the road outside Bakersfield. That plant will generate 1.5-times as much power as Ivanpah.    As the New York Times' Diane Cardwell and Matt Wald wrote Friday, Ivanpah probably represents an end, not a beginning. 

Nevada desert land turned into solar power plant

A windy stretch of the Mojave Desert once roamed by tortoises and coyotes has been transformed by hundreds of thousands of mirrors into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world, a milestone for a growing industry that is testing the balance between wilderness conservation and the pursuit of green energy across the American West. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, sprawling across roughly 5 square miles of federal land near the California-Nevada border, formally opened Thursday after years of regulatory and legal tangles ranging from relocating protected tortoises to assessing the impact on Mojave milkweed and other plants. "The Ivanpah project is a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy," U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement after attending a dedication ceremony at the site. "This project shows that building a clean-energy economy creates jobs, curbs greenhouse gas emissions and fosters American innovation." The $2.2 billion complex of three generating units, owned by NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy, can produce nearly 400 megawatts — enough power for 140,000 homes. It began making electricity last year.  

Key Takeaways from the AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2013 Market Report

With the installation of 1,084 MW in 2013 the U.S. now has an installed wind capacity of 61,108 MW. There are over 12,000 MW under construction, including 10,900 MW that started construction activity during the fourth quarter.

Solar Training at SolPowerPeople

The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 report states that in the last 12 months solar employment has grown 10 times faster than the national average- that says something that people need to hear.

India Sustainable Communities Proposal

This presentation focuses on systematically highlighting the ways to optimize waste-to-energy plants in terms of their energy efficiency as an indicator of the positive effect with regard to climate control. Potentials for increasing energy efficiency are identified and grouped into categories.

An Uncertain Future for Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is here to shake the existing mechanical, electrical and electronic systems. Modern electronics in particular will not be the same if quantum computing gains acceptance. There're voices of support as well as dissent. In this post, we'll analyze future trends in quantum computing. Keep reading!

3D Solar Modeling Technology

To assess the accuracy of simuwatt Solar, concept3D partnered with NREL to evaluate the program's outputs against actual plans developed for sites across the country.

Case Study - 2.4 MW Solar Ground Mount Orange, Massachusetts

Working in two shifts in record low temperatures and stormy conditions, installers completed the ground mount array in just 36 days (during a record 60-year storm with 24 inches of snow and 60 mph gusts).

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Featured Product

SolarEdge Technologies - Solar Inverters, Power Optimizers and PV Monitoring

SolarEdge Technologies - Solar Inverters, Power Optimizers and PV Monitoring

The SolarEdge PV inverter combines sophisticated digital control technology with efficient power conversion architecture to achieve superior solar power harvesting and best-in-class reliability. The fixed-voltage technology ensures the solar inverter is always working at its optimal input voltage over a wider range of string lengths and regardless of environmental conditions. A proprietary data monitoring receiver has been integrated into the inverter and aggregates the power optimizer performance data from each PV module. This data can be transmitted to the web and accessed via the SolarEdge Monitoring Portal for performance analysis, fault detection and troubleshooting of PV systems.