China to limit construction of new solar panel factories

China, the world's biggest maker of solar panels, will limit construction of new photovoltaic manufacturing plants to curb excess capacity in a move that may encourage consolidation within the industry. New solar plants that "purely" expand capacity will be strictly banned, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on its website yesterday. Annual spending by companies for research and development and upgrading equipment must total at least 3 per cent of revenue and must exceed 10 million yuan (HK$12.6 million). Chinese authorities have pledged to cut overcapacity in industries from steel to paper as policy makers seek to reduce the economy's reliance on investments and exports. A global oversupply of solar panels led to a 20 per cent plunge in prices last year, according to data. The policy will slow efforts to expand production capacity in favour of mergers and acquisitions as a growth strategy for the biggest companies, said Angelo Zino, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ in New York.

Photoflow is solar power and rainwater harvesting in one

A design company called NOS has developed a solution to two major problems facing developing countries: scarcity of drinking water and electricity. The concept is called the PhotoFlow, a combination solar photovoltaic device and rainwater harvester. NOS says, "Most of the developing countries are located near the equator, receiving more sunlight and rainfall than most other countries on the planet. Despite this abundance, a large number of people living in these countries suffer from a lack of electricity and potable drinking water. Building upon the designs of some existing rooftop water containers, we have created a simple device to collect both of these precious natural resources to meet the need for both electricity and drinking water." The PhotoFlow is made up of eight identical triangular photovoltaic panels that are mounted on a 400-liter recycled polyethylene water tank. The panels form an octagon with a slope of 3 degrees that allows water to funnel into the central filter and be collected into the tank. To keep the water potable once it's collected, the inner layer of the tank is covered with a coating that controls levels of bacteria and fungi.

Real World PV Solar Project - One Year Later

We've been living with the solar system for a little over a year now and I thought it time to report back to you about the experiences we've had and talk about how the system is operating and performing.

DC Fast Chargers for Electric Cars

DC Fast Chargers can charge an EV battery in 15 - 30 minutes, depending on vehicle make, model and initial battery state-of-charge.

Flywheels: A Way To Change the Utility Business Model?

The purpose of this note is to explore the feasibility and stimulate discussion of such an approach ( a few others have discussed this possibility as well), which has the potential to reduce utility peak power demands, reduce consumer costs by taking consumers off the grid at peak periods, and transform the nature of utilities.

Solving Wind Farm Siting

An automated approach takes the guesswork out of siting. Software-generated algorithms automatically search the solution space, quickly and efficiently providing planners with a near optimal solution that can statistically be guaranteed.

The Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) Program

A Solar Renewable Energy Credit, often referred to as an SREC, represents the renewable component of 1 megawatt hour of power production generated from a solar photovoltaic system.

Financing - The single largest roadblock for energy-saving projects

It's not surprising that CFOs are a little nervous about investing hundreds of thousands of unbudgeted dollars in projects with hard-to-believe savings estimates. Unfortunately, this industry is somewhat a victim of its success - the better the products, the harder the estimates are to believed.

4 Reasons Your Next Vehicle Will Be Solar Powered

Advancements in battery technology and recharging capabilities will drive adoption. Since the beginning of 2013 we have not only seen fast-charging stations that rapidly refill a battery but also wireless recharging capabilities and battery swap techniques.

Renewable Energy Vital for First Nation and Remote Communities

Some First Nation communities have initiated solar and wind power and mini hydroelectric initiatives but more needs to be done to ensure that all remote communities have access to clean and affordable energy.

Solar Power International Leads With Ideas, Education, Industry Luminaries

Solar Power International 2013 (SPI ‘13), North America's premier business-to-business event for professionals in solar energy, brings new formats and focused sessions to educational programming during the annual show, taking place in Chicago from October 21 - 24 at McCormick Place. With six conference tracks, pre- and post-conference workshops and Solar Idea Swaps, SPI offers solar professionals the opportunity to engage with the future of the industry. Event details and attendee registration information is available at solarpowerinternational.com.  "SPI is the place for the solar industry to gather and learn from experts, industry leaders and each other about the advances, trends and changes that affect our business," said Stephen Miner, CEO of SPI ‘13 organizer - Solar Energy Trade Shows. "We want each and every attendee to go home with a new perspective and greater understanding of the industry, and we've targeted our educational programming to ensure solutions-based learning."  General Sessions Designed to inspire and challenge attendees, the 2013 General Sessions introduce breakthrough technologies and invite role reversal. 

Why Firefighters Are Scared of Solar Power

A 300,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse in Delanco, New Jersey, burned down last week, and the local fire chief says solar panels are partly to blame. No, the 700 solar panels on top of the Dietz & Watson warehouse didn't cause the fire, but their presence did dissuade Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt from putting his team on the roof. "With all that power and energy up there, I can't jeopardize a guy’s life for that,” Holt told NBC Philadelphia. The only thing firefighters fear more than fire is solar.  So long as a solar panel is getting sunlight, it's impossible to turn off. "During daylight, there can be enough voltage and current to injure or even kill a firefighter who comes in contact with the energized conductors," Matthew Paiss, a fire engineer with the San Jose Fire Department, wrote in a handy guide for firefighters. The Dietz & Watson warehouse fire started when the sun was out. By the time the sun went down, the fire was beyond control. The warehouse burned for 29 hours.  As Paiss explained in his essay on solar panels and firefighting, roof access is crucial for firefighters: Full Article:

Finance Firm Sees Wind, Solar Cost Plunge

Renewable energy advocates have long argued that subsidies for wind, solar and other forms of clean power would eventually drive down their costs and allow them to be competitive with conventional, dirty energy (itself often subsidized). It looks like they could be right – to an unexpected degree. An analysis by financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard has found that the levelized cost of energy from wind power has plunged by more than 50 percent in the past four years. “While many had anticipated significant declines in the cost of utility-scale solar PV, few anticipated these sorts of cost declines for wind technology,” the report said. Wind isn’t the only clean energy technology making remarkable progress, according to the Lazard analysis. Solar is on a winning trend as well: The current and anticipated costs of all forms of utility-scale solar PV continue to decline;  the study estimates that the LCOE of leading technologies has fallen by more than 50 percent in the last four years. Utility-scale solar PV is a competitive source of peak energy as compared with conventional generation in many parts of the world, without any subsidies (appreciating the important qualitative differences related to dispatch characteristics and other factors).

Solar-cell manufacturing costs: innovation could level the field

It’s widely believed that China is the world’s dominant manufacturer of solar panels because of its low labor costs and strong government support. But a new study by researchers at MIT and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that other factors are actually more significant — suggesting that the United States could once again become cost-competitive in photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing. As of 2011, manufacturers in China accounted for 63 percent of all solar-panel production worldwide. But a detailed analysis of all costs associated with PV production shows that the main contributors to that country’s lower PV prices are economies of scale and well-developed supply chains — not cheap labor. “We developed a bottom-up model,” explains Tonio Buonassisi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and a co-author of the new report, just published in the journal  Energy and Environmental Science . The researchers estimated costs for virtually all the materials, labor, equipment and overhead involved in the PV manufacturing process.  “We added up the costs of each individual step,” he says, providing an analysis that’s “very rigorous, it’s down in the weeds. It doesn’t rely solely on self-reported figures from manufacturers’ quarterly reports. We really took great care to make sure our numbers were representative of actual factory costs.”

Major Renewable Energy Conference to Examine Industry Future

Industry leaders will take on the uncertain future of the renewable energy industry when they gather for the 2013 Renewable Energy Technology Conference & Exhibition (RETECH). The conference will feature key leaders and decision makers who will share insights on renewable energy and what the foreseeable future holds for an industry that faces major hurdles over financing, cost and public perception. "RETECH has become a key meeting place for the renewable energy industry with government, utility, technology and finance professionals from 35 countries discussing the ways they're driving the growth of renewable energy in the US and around the world," said Jenn Heinold, Vice President, RETECH. "I am very excited for this diverse group of industry voices who play a central role as we look toward the future of renewables."  Speakers and panel discussions at RETECH 2013 will address major issues facing the industry including project financing, how our markets are trending, and what role our government will play in the industry future. Industry experts will join Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) in the opening panel (Through the looking glass: The future of renewable energy technology) as they discuss the latest trends and predictions. 

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