L.A. to reduce solar-panel rebates in 2011

Los Angeles residents who are considering installing solar panels have an incentive to act quickly: On Tuesday, the city's Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved changes to the Solar Incentive Program that will reduce rebates starting Jan. 1. The Department of Water and Power's present rebate is $3.24 for every watt installed. A 4-kilowatt system, for example, would receive a $12,960 rebate. In 2011, that rate will decline to $2.20. That same 4-kilowatt system will see its rebate drop to $8,800 come Jan. 1. Further reductions -- to $1.50 per watt and, ultimately, to 60 cents -- will roll out as time passes and the utility meets goals for home-generated electricity. The DWP has been deluged with applications for residential solar rebates since 2009, when the U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act kicked in, replacing a $2,000 federal tax credit cap with a dollar amount equal to 30% of the installation cost. The average residential solar system costs between $35,000 and $40,000. L.A. homes generate 22 megawatts each year, far less than 1% of the 25,000 gigawatt-hours used in the city annually. Source: LA Times

Panasonic Invests $30M In Tesla Motors

Panasonic has invested $30 million in Tesla Motors, building upon a multi-year collaboration of the two companies to accelerate the market expansion of the electric vehicle, the companies said. The investment was made through the purchase of Tesla common stock in a private placement at a price of $21.15 per share. Panasonic is a major battery cell manufacturer and a supplier to the global automotive industry. Tesla currently uses Panasonic battery cells in its advanced battery packs and has collaborated with Panasonic on the development of next-generation battery cells designed specifically for electric vehicles. While Tesla's current battery strategy incorporates proprietary packaging using cells from multiple battery suppliers, Tesla has selected Panasonic as its preferred lithium-ion battery cell supplier for its battery packs, the CE manufacturer said.

Going Solar On Your Shingle Roof? Think Again...

The lifetime cost issue of solar -- and one that many people never consider -- is that rooftop PV systems may have to be removed and reinstalled if the roof needs replacement or repairs, which is almost a certainty with asphalt/shingle roofs. While PV systems typically lose a small portion of their potential output (less than 1 percent each year), the systems can operate for decades longer than the typical residential or commercial roof (10-12 years in Georgia). In other words, roofs are likely to be replaced at least once during the typical life of a PV system.  According to a report from GRIST.ORG, reinstalling a residential rooftop PV system could cost $6,250 or 25 percent of the installed cost of the system. In our investigation, we found that moving residential PV systems to accommodate a roof replacement could cost as much as 25 percent of the initial system cost (and over 35 percent of the net cost after the application of the 30 percent federal tax credit). Moving systems on a commercial roof was less expensive, on the order of 15 percent of initial installed cost (around 25 percent of the system cost after the tax credit). Source text.

Plug-in vehicles may make up 22% of US auto sales by 2030

Plug-in electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, have the potential to make up 9% of auto sales in 2020 and 22% in 2030 (1.6 million and 4 million vehicle sales respectively), according to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Achieving such growth levels, however, will be dependent on two key factors - aggressive reductions in battery costs and rising gasoline prices. In the short term, price will be the most significant limitation to the uptake of both plug-in hybrid vehicles like the GM Volt and fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. The median base price of autos sold between July 2009 and June 2010 in the US was $21,800. By comparison, the Nissan Leaf will cost $26,280 after federal subsidies (including an allowance for charger installation), which is a higher price point than three quarters of all new auto sales.

7 Projects Paving the Way for Ocean Power

What if we could tap the power of the ocean to produce electricity? Companies including Lockheed Martin, Wavebob and OpenHydro are working on technologies to capture energy from waves, tides, currents and the ocean’s thermal gradients on a scale that could eventually make the sea a major contributor to the nation’s clean energy supply. Despite its promise, however, to provide continuous electricity — a benefit that solar and wind don’t offer — development of so-called “hydrokinetic” technology (relating to the kinetic energy of moving fluid) has run into technical and fundraising difficulties. For example, the California Utilities Commission rejected a power purchase agreement from utility Pacific Gas & Electric to buy electricity from a project by Finavera Renewables, saying the technology was too unproven and costly. So far, few studies have looked into the environmental impact of ocean and tidal power equipment worldwide. As researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State explained recently, some of the limited studies have taken place outside the U.S., focusing on wildlife not commonly found in the estuaries and oceans hugging this country. Source: Josie Garthwaite – GigaOM

Will India be a bigger concentrated solar thermal power than China?

As the founder of CSP Today and organizer of the 1st CSP Today India conference in New Delhi, Belén Gallego is often asked about the future of the CSP industry in India. She has written a piece about the opportunities in the Indian market published recently in CSP Today.  Having lived in India for 2 years, it is difficult for me to be impartial when assessing the opportunities in the CSP industry. I believe very firmly in the great capacity of Indians to learn fast and reduce costs –they are specialists in making things cheaper maintaining quality standards. Much as I try, I can´t think of anything that the CSP industry is more in need of.  While last year there was very little talk of India becoming one of the biggest markets for CSP, today the question on everybody’s lips is: Will India be a bigger CSP power than China?   From an economic and development perspective, India’s economy is performing very well, averaging 8.5% growth this year. Its growth rate could overtake China’s by 2013 - if not before - according to a recent article by The Economist.  While China’s growth has been largely state-directed, India’s is driven by 45m entrepreneurs. Private firms have had to compete with the world´s best - and many have discovered that they can. Read full article here.

US solar is poised for $100bn growth surge

Rapidly declining equipment costs combined with stronger government support have set the stage for explosive growth in the US solar market over the next decade, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world’s leading provider of research and analysis in clean energy and the carbon markets. Solar-powered generating capacity – using photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity technologies – could reach 4.3% of the nation’s power capacity by 2020, depending on the industry’s ability to attract an estimated $100bn of investment. The US today has just 1.4 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity, ranking it fifth globally. But that could rise to 44 gigawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In a new report, forecast capacity from large-scale solar thermal projects is projected to rise from 0.4 gigawatts currently to 14 gigawatts by 2020. For photovoltaics, the group anticipates a 34% annual growth rate to 30 gigawatts by 2020. Full Story.

Message from AWEA CEO Denise Bode regarding attacks on 1603 Program

Recently a number of news stories and politically motivated TV ads have run across the country that falsely attack policies critical to keeping Americans working in wind power -- a bright spot in the economy, which has kept 85,000 Americans working during the recession. These stories and campaign ads have challenged renewable energy tax credits (the 1603 tax credits) which have been one of the most effective public policies in existence for saving American jobs. In the recession, project development and financing was difficult to obtain and costly. Many wind projects in mid-development could not complete financing. As a result, wind investment stalled with some projects stopping mid-construction; laying off construction workers and leaving wind towers and blades on the ground. The 1603 tax credit program restarted stalled projects and saved thousands of jobs at risk. Every job saved was an American job. 100% of projects that receive investment tax credits through 1603 are built in the U.S. as required by the Recovery Act. The program also supports America’s growing manufacturing and supply chain industries. U.S. wind turbine domestic manufacturing has grown 12-fold, with an increase in domestic content from 25% only a few years ago to over 50% now, and nearly 400 American manufacturing facilities making wind components. Full Press Release.

Los Angeles Builds Out New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Key Transit Locations

The California Energy Commission recently announced EV Connect, a leading provider of electric vehicle infrastructure solutions (EVISs) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will be conducting a pilot program to assess the integration of PEV’s into the transportation network and consumer behavior and ridership patterns. This pilot project aims to understand the viability of a PEV-transit network and establish best practices that optimize the consumer experience while reducing the carbon footprint of Los Angeles. The transportation sector alone accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the State of California, six percent higher than the national average. Completion of this project and its potential as a major transit component will further reduce priority air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the City and County of Los Angeles.

Bloom Energy to build a box a day

Silicon Valley start-up Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cell boxes that can power buildings, expects to be producing one of its boxes per day in the next few months, its chief executive and co-founder said. The main limitation on the growth of the business, since it is based on a new technology, is building a supply chain to feed it, Chief Executive K.R. Sridhar said yesterday.  "As the supply chain is ramping up, then we can ramp up, and at no point will our internal capacity become the bottleneck," he told the Reuters Climate Change and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco. "If we don't plan it that way, then we get ahead of our headlights." The company, with about 500 employees, has 50 systems deployed and expects to have double that number working by the end of the year, said Sridhar, who wants to be producing far more boxes to meet what he calls "robust" demand.  "I'm not patient by nature," he said. "Getting all the ducks lined up so that we can be making a lot more than one box a day, that's what I worry about."   Bloom's boxes cost $700,000 to $800,000, and each provides 100 kilowatts of electricity--enough to power 100 average U.S. homes--with roughly the footprint of a parking space. Source: Reuters

National Solar Jobs Census 2010

The solar industry is a strong and growing segment of our national economy. Over the past ten years, companies that design, manufacture, sell, install, and maintain solar systems have emerged in all regions of the United States, providing tens of thousands of jobs throughout the country. These employment opportunities span numerous industries and occupational titles, from skilled laborers to customer service and sales representatives. In recent years, new technology, favorable legislative policies, and increased consumer demand for clean, renewable sources of energy have led to even more rapid growth of the solar industry. In fact, according to GTM Research, solar photovoltaic installations grew at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 61% between 2006 and 2009. Despite gloomy general economic conditions in most sectors of our nation’s economy, the momentum generated by these trends has led to increased optimism about the potential for continued growth of solar jobs. Full story here.

Google to invest in grid for offshore wind

Google Inc. has thrown its financial clout behind a proposed 350-mile underwater electric cable off the U.S. East Coast that could form the backbone of a grid carrying power from future offshore wind turbines.  Japan's Marubeni Corp and New York investment firm Good Energies are joining in financing the project, which will be led by transmission-line developer Trans-Elect. The cable will help developers of offshore wind projects to surmount a major cost challenge -- connecting their turbines back to the grid in a way that allows them to sell to multiple customers. Google announced the move, which it called an investment in "a superhighway for clean energy" on its corporate blog.  Google, an often-quirky company, said in late 2007 that it would begin to invest in companies and fund research into producing affordable renewable energy. It has also invested in onshore wind and solar energy. The Internet search giant did not disclose the anticipated cost of the cable, which would run from Virginia to New Jersey, but The New York Times reported it as about $5 billion. Source: MSNBC

LG ELECTRONICS ENTERS SOLAR BUSINESS IN NORTH AMERICA

LG Electronics Inc. announced the company’s entry into the North American commercial solar industry at the largest business-to-business solar conference in the western hemisphere, Solar Power International 2010 (booth 1143). The U.S. solar debut builds on LG’s global expertise in marketing solar panels for residential, rooftop and commercial applications while capitalizing on LG’s strong presence in the North American consumer and business-to-business marketplace, according to industry veteran Geoff Slevin, vice president, Solar Division, LG Electronics North America. Launching LG solar panels in the United States also represents a major milestone in the company’s plans to expand its global solar business to $2.4 billion by 2015. LG is investing $820 million over the next five years in its solar cell research and manufacturing to increase production capacity to more than one gigawatt. “The U.S. is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world and is expected to grow significantly over the next several years, in part due to federal and state incentives,” said Slevin, who joined LG this year from Carlisle Energy Services and BP Solar. “LG’s commitment to solar in the U.S. comes at just the right time to meet market demand for solar power with high-quality, sustainable and innovative products that consumers and businesses alike have come to expect from a global technology leader.”

For Third Consecutive Year, National Poll Shows More Than 9 out of 10 Americans Want Solar Now

A new national poll shows that the vast majority of Americans overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy, and their support for solar has remained consistent over the last three years. These and other findings were reported today in the 2010 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research. The survey found that 94 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy. This strong support for solar remains unchanged since Americans were asked the same questions in the August 2009 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (92 percent) and June 2008 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (94 percent). (The difference is within the margin of error for these polls.) This support for solar power is consistent across political party affiliation with 92 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power. Furthermore, four out of five (80 percent of) Americans feel that Congress should reallocate federal subsidies away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy industries. Broken down by party affiliation, 86% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 81% of Independents feel this way. Americans understand the urgency of growing the solar industry themselves; nearly half (49 percent) of Americans currently considering solar power options for their home or business plan to make a decision in less than one year.

5 Hot Topics To Watch For At Solar Power International

The solar industry will take over the Los Angeles Convention Center this week to showcase the latest technologies and discuss regulatory and project development and financing trends. Organizers of Solar Power International (SPI) expect to see roughly 25,000 attendees over three days. Here are five hot topics that you will no doubt hear about throughout the show:

1). Can’t Escape Politics
2). U.S. Market Now and Later
3). Emergence of CPV
4). Going Beyond Solar Electric
5). Energy Boosters and Sleeker System Designs

Read the full article here.

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