SolarCity's IPO: The Risks

As more solar manufacturers stumble into bankruptcy, solar installers have been booming thanks to plunging prices for photovoltaic panels and the availability of cash to finance leases that allow homeowners to go green with little or no money down. Yet as SolarCity’s $201 million initial public offering filing shows, installers like the Silicon Valley startup face some of the same risks roiling the solar industry. SolarCity may be in the business of putting solar panels on rooftops but its success ­– revenues have more than doubled to $71 million since 2009 – relies on putting together investment funds that finance those installations for homeowners in return for monthly lease payments. Over the past three years, SolarCity, founded by Elon Musk’s cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive in 2006, has persuaded companies like Credit Suisse, U.S. Bancorp, Google and utility PG&E to put $1.57 billion into 23 funds to finance leases. More than 90% of SolarCity’s customers now opt to lease rooftop panels rather than purchase them, according to the IPO filing made public Friday. Investors have flocked to those funds to cash in on a 30% federal investment tax credit for solar systems. That incentive was particularly attractive between 2009 and 2012 when the government allowed investors to take the credit in the form of a cash payment. After 2016, the tax credit will fall to 10%.

Solar cell with world's highest conversion efficiency of 37.7% sets new record with triple-junction compound solar cell

Sharp achieved this latest breakthrough as a result of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) on the theme of "R&D on Innovative Solar Cells." Measurement of the value of 37.7%, which sets a new record for the world's highest conversion efficiency, was confirmed at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). Compound solar cells utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium. The basic structure of this latest triple-junction compound solar cell uses proprietary Sharp technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer. To achieve this latest increase in conversion efficiency, Sharp capitalized on the ability of the new cell to efficiently absorb light from different wavelengths in sunlight and convert it into electricity. Sharp also increased the active area for converting light into electricity through optimal processing of the cell edges. These improvements led to higher maximum output levels for the solar cell and enabled Sharp to achieve a solar cell conversion efficiency of 37.7%—the highest in the world.

US to sell wind energy leases off 3 states

The federal government plans to sell leases for wind farms off the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia, marking the first time it has sold competitive leases for wind energy on the outer continental shelf, officials said Friday. The leases for the two areas, which total more than 430 square miles, will be sold next year, the Department of Interior and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said. ‘‘Wind energy along the Atlantic holds enormous potential, and today we are moving closer to tapping into this massive domestic energy resource to create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,’’ Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a written statement. The announcement was hailed by conservation group Oceana, which called it a major step in developing domestic clean energy. ‘‘We’re getting a step closer to seeing real turbines out there in the water,’’ Nancy Sopko, the group’s ocean advocate, said. ‘‘The more progress is made, it sends that signal out to the rest of the world that the US is serious about developing wind energy here.’’

Uncertainty looms for renewable energy

The renewable energy industry is at a tipping point as developed markets start to close the door on generous subsidy programs and emerging markets develop cost strategies to compete with fossil fuels, according to research from Ernst & Young. The research provides scores for 40 countries for national renewable energy markets, renewable energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies. During Q3 2012, China remained at the top, but dropped a point as its solar sector continued the consolidation process in an effort to boost domestic installation and rationalize government support, which could slow growth in the more immediate term. The quarter also saw the U.S. drop 1.5 points, resulting in Germany moving up into second place ahead of the U.S. While the German government has recently increased the country's renewable energy target for electricity to 40 percent by 2020 and is proactively implementing policy measures to create sustainable growth, the downgraded score reflects the more immediate changes around possible subsidy caps for solar, wind and biomass.

The Renewable Energy Market Climate

Europe still leads all geographies in terms of overall deals completed. However, the U.S. has been gaining traction and represented a much greater percentage of the total transactions completed in the third quarter of 2012 than it has historically.

New insights through analysis of hourly meter values

As more and more final consumers are metered hourly, the volume of meter values that grid operators have to collect, store, and transmit to other actors in the electricity market continues to grow. But hourly metering does not have to be a burden for grid operators - the growing volumes of meter values can be analyzed in multiple ways to provide grid operators with valuable insights that allow them to make better decisions.

It's Massive Yet Tiny

A 14 x 14" MYT engine has 850 cubic inches of displacement and weighs 150 pounds, compared to a conventional engine, which would weigh 3,000 pounds to produce the same power. The engine needs no oil, as the biofuel is the lubricant due to the high lubricity of biofuel. With every tank of fuel, the engine is circulated with more than 20 gallons of fresh engine oil compared to 5 quarts of engine oil circulating over 3,000 miles in conventional engines. You can now skip changing oil forever and have an engine with longer life.

Off-Grid PV Systems

The development of PV systems in the last 10 years has been dedicated mainly to grid-tied systems. Meanwhile all-rural electrification systems have remained basically the same for the past 20 years. However, Yake Solar has engineered a new approach to PV rural electrification.

True Grid

"Grid parity occurs when an alternative energy source can generate electricity at a levelized cost that is less than or equal to the price of purchasing power from the electricity grid. Reaching grid parity is considered to be an important point in the development of new sources of power.

Balance Of System Innovation "Clicks" for a Competitive Edge

The reduction in module costs forces manufacturers to add value in other ways, beyond the module, by introducing advancements in BOS and manufacturing. The PV BOS market in general is in a healthy state and equipment revenues are projected to increase from $17 billion in 2011 to about $24 billion in 2016, according to IMS research. Monitoring hardware, mounting structures and tracker systems are expected to capture a growing share of the market.

Case Study - Solar LED Lighting

We wanted people to enter the site and view the solar street lights as they come in and leave the facility as a statement to the public of the state of the art technology that was used throughout the facility. The LED component was chosen for the maintenance free and long life qualities of the tech­nology.

Case Study - Wind Energy for the Eagles

The installation of 14 UGE-4K wind turbines at the Philadelphia Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field proves that distributed renewable energy is within closer reach for all than once thought.

Cost of Solar Energy Continues Significant Decline

The average cost of going solar in the U.S. continued to decrease significantly in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to a report released today by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Solar advocates noted that these findings are the latest indicator that solar is an important and growing part of America's new energy economy. "This report shows just how far solar power has come in the U.S., and how much more we can do. Faced with a recession economy, messy election politics and an entrenched electricity marketplace, solar is quietly defying the odds and reinventing our national energy landscape. It's really remarkable," said Adam Browning, Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative. "With solar energy more affordable than ever, more American families and businesses are going solar to meet their electricity and hot water needs," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "Declining costs have driven record growth over the last four years and we expect the solar market to double in 2012 and double again in 2013. This growth proves that smart federal and state energy policies diversify our energy portfolio and grow our economy. With 5,600 companies employing 119,000 Americans, the U.S. solar industry has become an economic engine for America."

Largest Solar Power Plant In World Nears Completion In Abu Dhabi

The largest single-unit solar power plant in the world is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and officially open in the first quarter of 2013, solar power giant Masdar has announced. Shams 1 will have a generation capacity of over 100 MW of power, and was built with the stated purpose of providing 20,000 homes in the region with electricity. The project will be followed shortly thereafter by Shams 2 & 3, which are planned to generate similar levels of electricity. Yousuf Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company, said: “Shams 1 is the largest concentrated solar power project in the world. Developing a project of this scale is a significant achievement for Abu Dhabi, Masdar and its partners, Total and Abengoa.” There are larger “solar power plants” or “solar power projects,” but they include multiple solar plants of less than 100 MW. (For example, the Solnova Solar Power Station in Spain has five CSP plants of 50 MW each that make the overall project 250 MW in size, and the Gujarat Solar Park in India includes multiple solar PV projects that total 600 MW.) Construction of the Shams 1 project began back in the third quarter of 2010, at a total cost of approximately $600 million dollars.

New Solar Energy Technology Can Create Steam Without Even Having To Boil Water

A revolutionary new way to create steam simply by using sunlight, has been discovered by researchers. The method is able to bring an entire container of fluid to boiling point, even a container of icy cold water. The new method has many potentially very useful applications. These include the creation of very inexpensive and compact devices that can purify water, the sterilization of medical equipment, sewage treatment, and more energy-efficient alcohol distillation. “This research opens up a revolutionary new application of nanoparticles in solar energy,” said Paul Weiss, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of ACS Nano , the journal in which the new study was published. “The authors show that sunlight can be used to create steam with virtually no wasteful heating of the surrounding liquid. The potential societal benefits are staggering. They include more energy-efficient distillation of alcohol, a new and highly practical strategy for desalination and water purification and compact solar-driven sources of steam for sterilization and sanitation in resource-poor locations,” said Weiss.  

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