The significance of Solar Power International comes not from the number or diversity of its attendees. Rather, this year's conference matters because it comes at a time of rapid innovation and change in the industry. These changes affect so many aspects of the business that players need to constantly update their understanding; to be just a month behind puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
What's changed since Dallas?
SPI 2011 was held last October in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, the industry landscape has changed drastically, specifically with regard to how projects are getting financed. In any given month, DG Energy Partners sees dozens of MWs of projects seeking financial partners. Regardless of where these projects are located, the underlying trends remain the same; hardware prices have continued to fall, EPC margins have continued to shrink and projects have grown increasingly difficult to complete. And we haven't even mentioned what changes we can expect in 2013.
Chinese solar companies expect the European Commission to announce within days a formal investigation into their alleged dumping of solar panels in Europe, which could result in heavy tariffs being imposed on them next year.
The expected move against the companies, whose share prices have tumbled and whose financial outlook is cloudy due to oversupply and falling solar-equipment prices, would come as they are already fighting clean-energy trade battles on several fronts.
Also, China and the European Union are at loggerheads over several other trade rows, including a European plan to punish airlines if they don't comply with an emissions-control program—issues that could have the potential to sour China's readiness to help in financially underpinning Europe's debt-laden economies.
European solar-panel makers filed a confidential complaint July 25 with the commission, the EU's executive arm, accusing Chinese solar-panel manufacturers of selling products at below-cost prices in Europe.
The QBotix Tracking System rethinks two-axis tracking in an effort to bring the cost down to what solar project developers pay for single-axis trackers.
Instead of having the hardware to adjust the angle on every solar panel, QBotix engineers created a traveling robot equipped with the motor needed to change the angle. Like a small train, the robot drives along a track a few feet off the ground placed along the edge of solar panels and makes adjustments.
It’s designed so that one robot can service 200 panels in 40 minutes, the time it takes the sun to move 10 degrees. The track can be a simple loop or navigate turns and hills, according to QBotix CEO and founder Wasiq Bokhari. A magnet on the robot allows it to locate a panel mount, where it can attach its motors to make the adjustments.
Researchers at RTI International have developed a new solar technology that could make solar energy more affordable, and thus speed-up its market adoption.
The RTI solar cells are formed from solutions of semiconductor particles, known as colloidal quantum dots, and can have a power conversion efficiency that is competitive to traditional cells at a fraction of the cost.
Solar energy has the potential to be a renewable, carbon-neutral source of electricity but the high cost of photovoltaics – the devices that convert sunlight into electricity – has slowed widespread adoption of this resource.
The RTI-developed solar cells were created using low-cost materials and processing techniques that reduce the primary costs of photovoltaic production, including materials, capital infrastructure and energy associated with manufacturing.
Preliminary analysis of the material costs of the technology show that it can be produced for less than $20 per square meter—as much as 75 percent less than traditional solar cells.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S said Tuesday that it is in talks with Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. about a strategic tie-up that could secure the long-term future of the financially troubled Danish wind-turbine maker.
Vestas, the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines, has been struggling with steep losses and a tight financial situation, prompting speculation in the market of a company sale or a dilutive issuance of new shares.
The shares jumped 19% Tuesday after news of the Mitsubishi talks, with analysts saying that the project could help the company navigate its way back to profitability.
"No matter what the deal contains, it will surely include an injection of capital to Vestas," Alm. Brand Markets analyst Michael Friis Joergensen said.
Vestas fell deep in the red in 2011, when massive overcapacity, excessive costs and budget overruns in the development of a new turbine forced it to issue two profit warnings, helping send the share price lower.
German born, barcelona-based architect andré broessel has sent us images of his latest development of a spherical glass
solar energy generator. the project uses the advantageous strategy of implementing a ball lens and specific geometrical
structure to improve energy efficiency by 35%. in contrast to its traditional photo-voltaic 'dual-axis' counterparts,
the device incorporates a fully rotational weatherproof natural optical tracking device that is adequate for functioning
on inclined surfaces and curtain walls, empowering any building surface. the new solar generating concept has
capabilities that concentrate diffused daylight or moonlight for a more effective site context application.
One reason that solar energy has not been widely adopted is because light absorbing materials are not durable. Materials that harvest solar radiation for energy often overheat or degrade over time; this reduces their viability to compete with other renewable energy sources like wind or hydroelectric generators. A new video protocol addresses these issues by presenting a synthesis of two inorganic nanocrystals, each of which is more durable than their organic counterparts.
The article, published in Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), focuses on the liquid phase synthesis of two nanocrystals that produce hydrogen gas or an electric charge when exposed to light. "The main advantage of this technique is that it allows for direct, all inorganic coupling of the light absorber and the catalyst," says the leading author Dr. Mikhail Zamkov of Bowling Green State University.
Article in the journal Nature written by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Arun Majumdar, former director of the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy has been a cornerstone of the world's increasing prosperity and economic growth since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Our use of energy in the twenty–first century must also be sustainable. Solar and water–based energy generation, and engineering of microbes to produce biofuels are a few examples of the alternatives. This Perspective puts these opportunities into a larger context by relating them to a number of aspects in the transportation and electricity generation sectors. It also provides a snapshot of the current energy landscape and discusses several research and development opportunities and pathways that could lead to a prosperous, sustainable and secure energy future for the world.
China connected 50.26 gigawatts of wind-generated capacity to the nation’s largest electricity grid as of this year, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a statement from China State Grid Corp.
Growth in the on-grid wind power capacity was up 87 percent annually over the last six years, Xinhua reported, citing the larger of China’s two transmission operators. Grid-linked capacity will rise to 100 gigawatts by 2015 and 200 gigawatts by 2020, according to the report published yesterday.
China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans to have at least 15 percent of its energy mix come from non-fossil fuels by 2020. Wind farms are the second-biggest contributor to renewable-energy capacity in the nation after hydropower dams.
New U.S. wind power installations are expected to be substantially higher in 2012 than 2011, driven by the threat of expiring federal incentives, a report says.
While facing policy uncertainty beyond 2012, the United States remained one of the fastest-growing wind power markets in the world in 2011, second only to China, a report prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy said.
With around 6.8 gigawatts of new wind power capacity connected to the U.S. grid in 2011, wind power comprised 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions for the year, the report said.
Projections are for continued strong growth in 2012, followed by dramatically lower additions in 2013 following the expiration of key federal incentives, a Department of Energy release announcing the report said Tuesday.
Low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth threaten to dramatically slow new builds in 2013 and beyond, despite recent improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technology, the report's authors said.
A manufacturer of solar power mounting systems, Schletter, Inc., will invest $27 million to establish a production and distribution facility in Shelby, North Carolina, with plans to create 305 jobs by the end of 2016.
The new facility in Shelby, which will serve as the production and distribution hub of Schletter’s east coast operations, will house all functions required to produce the company’s eight types of solar mounting systems. In addition to the manufacturing operations, the Shelby location will become Schletter’s U.S. headquarters.
We’re excited to offer our customers improved delivery and service options by opening our second U.S. manufacturing facility and new U.S. corporate headquarters in Shelby, North Carolina,” stated Martin Hausner, President of Schletter Inc.
“The decision to locate a manufacturing facility in North Carolina was primarily based on providing improved services for our East Coast customers; faster delivery of our products, and reduced logistics costs,” Ludwig Schletter, owner of the Schletter Corporation said. “We will never lose sight of our goals which include remaining a competitive force in the market while providing the highest quality product.”
The module also tracks the sun and rotates with it to increase its efficiency. The whole module is mounted on a steel 10-ft by 10-ft rotating frame that moves with the sun.
“The tracker is fully automated,” Blake Coughenour, a graduate student in the UA’s College of Optical Sciences, explained. “The system wakes itself up in the morning and turns to the East. It knows where the sun will rise even while it’s still below the horizon. It tracks the sun’s path during the day all the way to sunset, then parks itself for the night.”
One of the most interesting parts of the system is the mirror. The researchers came up with a dish-shaped mirror design that works very well for concentrating sunlight specifically for photovoltaics, as opposed to a solar thermal system.
A123 Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: AONE), designer, developer, manufacturer and seller of rechargeable lithium-ion and energy storage systems, today reported a loss in its second quarter. However, shares of the Waltham, Massachusetts-based are gaining after it secured a financing deal.
During the early morning hours of April 15, with a steady breeze blowing down Colorado's Front Range, the state's biggest utility set a U.S. record -- nearly 57% of the electricity being generated was coming from wind power.
As dawn came and the 1.4 million customers in Xcel Energy's service district began turning on the lights, toasters and other appliances, the utility's coal and natural gas-fired power plants ramped up production and brought wind's contribution back closer to its 2012 average of 17%.
lities have long been wary of placing too much finicky renewable power on the grid.
"A lot of utilities don't want to contract large amounts of wind because it's volatile," said Amy Grace, a wind analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "Anything over 25%, and utilities get nervous."
Colorado's overnight high-water mark demonstrated that utilities can indeed incorporate cleaner power sources into the mix.
Leaders of four renewable energy trade associations today commended a last-minute vote by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday afternoon to extend and enhance production tax credits (PTCs) for all renewable energy sources. The tax credits are essential for the development of clean energy-generating facilities by offsetting the high cost of construction. Yesterday's action by the Committee will give renewable baseload technologies equitable access to this important program by allowing eligible facilities to qualify for the tax credits when construction is commenced.
"We are highly encouraged that the Senate Finance Committee passed this tax credit extension, and we urge the full Senate and the House to approve the credit before the end of the 112th Congress," said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of Biomass Power Association. "The construction of new biomass facilities can be prohibitively expensive, and our industry relies on one-time tax credits to attract private investors to support the building of new plants. An extension of PTCs will help ensure that renewable energy sources continue to produce a growing share of electricity for our nation."
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