Big Data for Solar

Helping Fleet Managers Streamline Operations and Management Functions

Permanent Magnet Alternators for Wind Turbines

Permanent magnet alternators are very compact compared to asynchronous generators and allow simplified mechanical integration thanks to being direct-driving by the rotor.

SunPower Testing Batteries to Store Solar Power

SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the second-largest U.S. solar-panel maker, is testing power-storage systems in three countries to complement its residential systems, its chief executive officer said. The company is evaluating batteries in Germany, Australia and California and expects to have a product to sell to customers within the next couple of years, Chief Executive Officer Tom Wernersaid today in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. Adding batteries to residential solar systems would let people power their homes at night with electricity generated during the day, decreasing demand for energy from the grid and creating a threat to utilities’ revenue, Werner said. California will require utilities to use storage by 2020 and Germany introduced incentives in May to promote wider use of the technology. “In the near term, we’re driven by policy,” he said. “In the long-term it’s economics.” The company, based in San Jose, California, gets at least 25 percent of its revenue from photovoltaic panels that end up on consumers’ rooftops. SolarCity Corp. (SCTY), which provides rooftop solar systems, began offering lithium-ion battery storage units made by Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) last week.

U.S. Solar Industry Records Second Largest Quarter Ever

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) today released U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2013, the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S., with strategic state-specific data for 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  The U.S. installed 930 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) in Q3 2013, up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and 35 percent over Q3 2012. This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. Even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than 15 years that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany, according to GTM Research forecasts.  "Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry," said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. "We've now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity. This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution nationwide. When it comes to preparing for America's future, clean, dependable and affordable solar energy has become the ‘Little Engine That Could,' defying expectations and powering economic growth – and, frankly, we're just scratching the surface of our industry's enormous potential." 

Invest in solar power for just $25

In the last few years peer to peer lending and crowdfunding have blossomed. While it's great to crowdfund the latest cool product that lets you cut down on using plastic or turns your regular bike into e-bike, it's infinitely cooler tocrowdfund the shift to renewable energy. Mosaic calls itself an online marketplace for solar. Basically the company provides debt financing to solar projects and lets individual and institutional investors buy shares in a project until it is funded. When projects are complete, the company sells power to a solar customer via a long-term contract, and shares returns of approximately 4.4 - 6.36% with its investors. Investment capital is paid back along with the interest over a 5 - 10 year period. Now Mosaic wants to take that concept to larger number of potential investors with a new incentive - the company will give new investors $25 once they make their first investment (minimum investments are $25). Once a new user sets up a Mosaic account and finds a qualified project to invest in, Mosaic will add $25 to the amount invested.

SolarCity, Using Tesla Batteries, Aims to Bring Solar Power to the Masses

SolarCity—a company that’s grown quickly by installing solar panels for free and charging customers for the solar power—announced a new business that will extend that model to providing batteries for free, too. SolarCity is a rare success story for investors in clean technology, and its business model has sped the adoption of solar panels. The batteries could help businesses lower their utility bills by reducing the amount of power they draw from the grid. They could also help address solar power’s intermittency, which could prevent it from becoming a significant source of electricity. The batteries are being supplied by Tesla Motors, whose CEO, Elon Musk, is SolarCity’s chairman. Other solar companies have failed in recent years. But SolarCity’s business model has helped it grow quickly. It had a successful IPO a year ago, and its stock price has risen from its IPO price of $8 to over $50 today. CEO Lyndon Rive says that eight years from now, the company might not be able to continue selling solar panel systems unless it packages them with batteries, because of the strain on the grid that solar power can cause. “It could be that, without storage, you won’t be able to connect solar systems to the grid,” he says.

Hitachi Develops All-in-One Container-Type Energy Storage System

Hitachi, Ltd. announced that it has developed an all-in one, container-type energy storage system as a core energy product for ensuring the stable use of distributed renewable energy such as wind and solar power, while maintaining the power supply-demand balance. This energy storage system fuses Hitachi's electricity grid control technologies built up in the Hitachi Group and Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.'s battery-related expertise and will be offered as a packaged system.  In the beginning of 2014, Hitachi plans to begin a demonstration test of this energy storage system in North America. Plans call for Hitachi to reflect the results of this testing in a commercial product after verifying the commercial viability and performance of the system in the electricity trading market, or the so-called ancillary market*2 connected with maintaining the electricity supply-demand balance. Furthermore, Hitachi will examine whether to promote the system, to be named "CrystEna" (Crystal+Energy), as one of its solution businesses for expanding the transmission & distribution business in the global market. 

EU Nations Approve Pact With China on Solar-Panel Trade

European Union countries approved an agreement with  China  to curb imports of Chinese solar panels, ending the EU’s biggest commercial dispute of its kind. EU governments endorsed an accord struck by their trade chief and China in July that sets a minimum price and a volume limit on European imports of Chinese solar panels until the end of 2015. Chinese manufacturers that take part will be spared EU tariffs meant to counter alleged below-cost sales, a practice known as dumping, and subsidies. The verdict seeks to balance demands by European producers such as Solarworld AG (SWV)for trade protection and opposition by China, some EU governments and Europe’s importers to levies on the renewable-energy technology. The two-year duration of the measures is less than half as long as the normal five-year period for EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy protection. European solar-panel manufacturers suffered “material injury” as a result of dumping by Chinese exporters and trade-distorting government aid to them, while trade protection must also take account of “the cost for other economic operators,” the 28-nation bloc said today in Brussels. The decision wraps up two inquiries begun more than a year ago and will take effect after being published in the EU’s Official Journal by Dec. 6.

How and Where Distributed Energy Resources Will Reduce the Need for Transmission

The rapid growth of distributed energy resources (DER), a non-transmission alternative, is raising concerns over the viability and necessity of new transmission lines.

2013 completions of large solar thermal power plants mark technology gains

All five of the major solar thermal projects—including Solana and Ivanpah—that are scheduled to come on line in 2013 and 2014 were awarded loans through the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program.

Q3 2013 Deal Volume Comparison

Merger and Acquisition information from Lincloln's Deal Reader.

The US has 43 nuclear power plants' worth of solar energy in the pipeline

The boom in solar energy in the US  in recent years? You haven’t seen anything yet. The pipeline of photovoltaic projects has grown 7% over the past 12 months andnow stands at 2,400 solar installations that would generate 43,000 megawatts(MW), according to a report released today by market research firm NPD Solarbuzz. If all these projects are built, their peak electricity output would be equivalent to that of 43 big nuclear power plants, and enough to keep the lights on in six million American homes. Only 8.5% of the pipeline is currently being installed, with most of it still in the planning stages. Some projects will inevitably get canceled or fail to raise financing. But there’s reason to believe that a good chunk of these solar power plants and rooftop installations will get built over the next two years. That’s because a crucial US tax break for renewable energy projects is set to fall from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016. So there will be a rush to get projects online. In 2012, for instance, wind developers installed a record 13,131 MW as a key tax credit was set to expire, accounting for 42% of all new US electricity capacity that year.  (The US Congress subsequently renewed the tax break for another year.)

SolarCity Completes Industry's First Securitization of Distributed Solar Energy

SolarCity Corp. today announced that it has completed what is reported to be the first securitization of distributed solar energy assets.  SolarCity completed a private placement in the amount of $54,425,000 with an interest rate of 4.80% and a scheduled maturity date of December 2026. "This transaction is a breakthrough and will pave the way for others, but its greater significance is the validation of the quality of SolarCity's assets," said Bob Kelly, SolarCity's chief financial officer. "SolarCity  lowers what is typically the highest operating cost for households and gives them long-term control over that cost.  Customers highly value those attributes, and that's why these assets perform so well." SolarCity's pool of solar contracts received an investment grade rating of BBB+ from Standard & Poor's. The rating reflects the predictability and quality of the cash flows and the minimal operation and production risk of solar assets. Distributed solar is one of the first new asset classes to  achieve an investment grade rating in the asset back securities markets in the past several years.

GE Promises More Wind Power Without New Turbines

GE this fall began pushing a new bit of software wizardry that it says will boost wind farm performance. Looks like E.On is biting. GE said that the Germany-based energy giant would install PowerUp, described as a “customized software-enabled platform that increases a wind farm’s output by up to 5 percent,” at five wind farms. This adds up to 469 GE 1.5-77 wind turbines that E.On uses (through its Climate & Renewables division). GE is suggesting that this is the equivalent of building as many as 19 new turbines of that size, but it’s going to have to prove that’s the case in order to make money off implementing PowerUp for E.On. That’s because this is an “outcomes-based” deal: The companies will measure the impact of PowerUp, and GE will get only a percentage of the gains the technology brings. “The outcomes-based approach aligns well with our goals of providing cleaner, better energy at a more affordable price,” Steve Trenholm, chairman, E.ON North America, said in a statement. “Investment in wind energy has led to technological advancements like PowerUp that continue to make renewables more and more competitive with traditional forms of energy.”

Obama admin. not prosecuting wind farms for bird deaths

The Obama administration is giving wind power producers a pass by not going after them for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of federally protected birds and bats. But the feds have gone after fossil fuel and other companies that have killed these animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently has 18 open investigations into bird and bat deaths due to wind power operations, according to a service spokeswoman, with 14 of these cases involving the death of at least one golden eagle — which are federally protected under three different laws. Seven of these cases have been referred to the U.S. Justice Department for “potential prosecution.” A spokesman with the Justice Department, however, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that there “have been no prosecutions to date under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and/or the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act related to the deaths of migratory birds, including eagles, at wind facilities.” The Obama administration’s support for wind energy development and inaction against wind producers that allegedly break these laws has sparked the ire of House Republicans. Earlier this month, Republicans on the Committee on Natural Resources sent letters to the administration slamming them for not providing documentation related to bird deaths from wind farms.

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Solar & Wind - Featured Product

Easy monitoring with weather sensors from Lufft

Easy monitoring with weather sensors from Lufft

Professional weather sensors form the heart of large solar plants supporting their operation and performance. Lufft was the first manufacturer to combine several sensors in one housing, bringing the largest multiparameter weather sensor family with 19 members into being. Many of them are well-suited for solar site assessment and continuous monitoring. The most commonly used one is the WS600 delivering data on temperature, air pressure, wind, relative humidity and precipitation. Through its open protocol, it can easily be attached to radiation sensors e.g. from Kipp&Zonen. Other models have an integrated Silicon, Second Class or Secondary Standard radiation sensor.