Is Rent-to-Own Solar Power the Answer?

Jason Overdorf for SMITHSONIAN.COM:  For a little more than a year, the family has been supplementing the sporadic electricity the village gets from the grid with solar energy, thanks to a new pay-as-you-go business model pioneered by Canadian entrepreneur Paul Needham and his company, Simpa Networks. Call it “rent-to-own solar.”

Needham is a serial tech entrepreneur whose online advertising company BidClix made its way into the portfolio of Microsoft. As a doctoral student in economics at Cambridge, he was obsessed with the reasons customers will shell out for certain products and not others. One of the questions that always bugged him was, “Why don’t I own solar panels?” The reason, he determined, was the high up-front costs.

Imagine if mobile phone service was sold like solar energy. From an operator’s perspective, it would have made great sense to try to sell customers 10 years of phone calls in advance, so as to quickly earn back the money invested in building cell towers. But the person who suggested such a strategy would have been fired immediately, Needham says.

“You want to charge people for what they value, not the technology that’s providing it,” he says in a telephone interview.  Cont'd...

Wildfires and Solar Panels

A look at how wildfire air pollution can affect the power output of solar panels.

PVinsights: Polysilicon Rout Sends Downstream Components Slumping

The slump of polysilicon price has initiated since late August as buyers buying power has been significantly hampered due to slashed downstream demand and prices that they could not bear with high-priced raw materials and threaten to cut more polysilicon procurements. A previous attempt to sustain polysilicon prices in China has failed and the polysilicon suppliers in China have lowered price drastically in order to lessen its piled-up inventories as well as to secure limited orders. Moreover, as the quarterly financial accounting process closes at the end of September, polysilicon suppliers are having compounded pressures to dump excess stockpiles, pushing down polysilicon prices further.

SPI 2016 - Array Technologies Leads in Proven Tracker Technology at SPI

ATI will be joining solar industry leaders in Las Vegas next week

Ballard Inks Fuel Cell Module Deal, Expanding into China's Guangxi Province

Ballard Power Systems today announced the signing of a purchase order from Shenzhen UpPower Technology Co., Ltd., a leading fuel cell bus systems integrator in China, for the supply of 10 FCveloCity®-MD 30-kilowatt fuel cell power modules.

Edisun Microgrids Launches PV Booster™ Solar Tracker to Transform Economics of Commercial and Industrial Rooftops

Breakthrough technology yields 20 percent better economics than conventional fixed-tilt installations

Leading clean-energy nonprofit E4TheFuture hires two new directors

E4TheFuture, a leading nonprofit focused on clean, efficient energy solutions, announces the completion of its core team with the hiring of two senior staffers: Director of State Policy Susan Buchan and Director of Clean Energy Valuation Julie Michals.

kWh Analytics Raises $5 Million Series A, Launches New Insurance-Backed Production Guarantee to Make Solar Bankable

The new product, called PowerLock, increases equity returns of solar projects by up to 50 percent and is backed by Standard and Poor's "A" rated global insurance carriers

Why large-scale wind power is so hard to build

Michael McDonald, Oilprice.com via USA Today:  he Bureau of Land Management faces a problem and wants to shake up the rules around wind farm approvals. The problem is straight-forward on its face, but difficult to reconcile logically: Why are so few new large-scale wind projects being built? Despite the fact that nearly everyone – environmentalists, government regulators, and business interests –wants to build more wind farms, precious few are making it over the goal line.

Since 2009, the Obama Administration has approved 46 wind farm projects that would cover a proposed 216,356 acres of public land. Yet only 15 of these 46 projects have made it into operation. The rest are stuck in limbo with years of mandatory environmental analysis ahead or have been cancelled outright.  Cont'd...

Market entry Down Under: BayWa Group acquires Australian PV distributor Solarmatrix

BayWa AG, Munich, through its subsidiary BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbH, acquired the photovoltaic distributor Solarmatrix based in the West Australian city of Perth and thus enters the solar module and components business in Australia. The activities of Solarmatrix will be continued with the company BayWa r.e. Solar Systems Pty Ltd. formed specifically for this purpose.

Transparent solar panels are 50 times more productive than regular photovoltaics

Luke Dormehl for DigitalTrends:  As the term “regular windows” suggests, users don’t have to replace the existing windows in their home, but need only treat them with a special process developed by the company.

“We apply liquid coatings to glass and plastic surfaces at ambient pressure, and dry these coatings at low temperature to produce transparent films,” Conklin continued. “We repeat these processes, and then collectively these coatings — and thus the glass and plastic surfaces — generate electricity.”

Of these coatings, the most important is the so-called “Active Layer,” through which electricity is generated by the absorption of light, and the transparent conductors, which allow the electricity to be extracted. “[The] coatings are primarily organic, primarily from carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen,” Conklin said. “We are constantly refining each of the layers to improve on the power we’re able to extract from these coatings and enhance their manufacturability.”  Cont'd...

Solar cell is more efficient, costs less than its counterparts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via Science Daily:  A team of researchers from MIT and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology may have found a way around this seemingly intractable tradeoff between efficiency and cost. The team has developed a new solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material to harvest a broader range of the sun's energy. The researchers call the device a "step cell," because the two layers are arranged in a stepwise fashion, with the lower layer jutting out beneath the upper layer, in order to expose both layers to incoming sunlight. Such layered, or "multijunction," solar cells are typically expensive to manufacture, but the researchers also used a novel, low-cost manufacturing process for their step cell.

The team's step-cell concept can reach theoretical efficiencies above 40 percent and estimated practical efficiencies of 35 percent, prompting the team's principal investigators -- Masdar Institute's Ammar Nayfeh, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and MIT's Eugene Fitzgerald, the Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Materials Science and Engineering -- to plan a startup company to commercialize the promising solar cell.  Cont'd...

Ballard Moving Forward in Key Chinese Regions with Strategic Partner Broad-Ocean

Ballard Power Systems today announced the next step in its China strategy with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with strategic partner Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Company Limited having a goal of producing fuel cell modules for use in buses and commercial vehicles in select cities and regions in China.

PVinsights: Global solar prices deepens as polysilicon collapse

Polysilicon prices start to collapse obviously this week, particularly the price in China with more than 4% drops. The scope of polysilicon price correction was not enough, in contrast to the downstream components in August, leaving the stockpiles continues to pile up over the period as the trading were less active. However, as entering into a quarterly financial end in September, the increasing inventory pressure compound by sluggish downstream demand and slashed wafer prices eventually compromise Chinese polysilicon suppliers on adjusting prices quotes down dramatically. On the other hand, polysilicon prices out of China also extend the slump this week, but the price corrections are less noticeable than in China since the price baseline is much lower than that in China. As the result, without seeing any sign of global demand recovery that could possibly alleviate serious global supply glut soon, polysilicon supplier are forced to provide more price discounts in order to lessen the stock levels .

NREL Discovery Creates Future Opportunity in Quantum Computing

Research into perovskites looks beyond material's usage for efficient solar cells

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