U.S. Solar Market Grows 41%, Has Record Year in 2013

GTM Research and SEIA forecast another strong year in 2014 with 26% growth in the U.S. solar market. This will bring annual installations up to nearly 6 gigawatts and the cumulative total will be just shy of the twenty gigawatt milestone.

How Solar Is Improving The Boat Industry

If the shipping industry were a country, it would place sixth on the most carbon emission generating countries in the world. The good news is that solar in maritime transport is improving.

Plastic to Fuel Conversion: An Elegant Solution to Two Major Environmental Concerns

The process relies on heat and pressure to break down the long hydrogen, carbon and oxygen polymers that make up plastics. From there, these elements are recombined into the shorter hydrocarbon chains that can be effectively burned as diesel or gasoline.

Solar PV - Now and Tomorrow

Network planning and grid control is an undeniable challenge as an increasing number of large-scale PV installations feed energy into the utility grid, but we see this shifting in the next 2-3 years.

RECs Provide Renewable Energy Sources to Everyone

Pear Energy provides renewable energy to customers across the country without long-term contracts or interruption to utility service.

How crowdfunding solar power is democratizing the way we finance clean energy

Less than 24 hours after Oakland-based Mosaic allowed crowdfunding campaigns in January 2013 in which investors could pitch as little as $25, they raised enough money to fund four clean energy projects in California for affordable housing projects. More than 400 investors raised $313,000. The investors, on average, paid about $670 each. Last week, Mosaic launched a new platform on their site, allowing people to finance solar arrays on homes, in addition to the commercial projects already being funded. Since its initial launch in 2010, company has raised more than $7 million in investments through crowdfunding with a 100 percent payback rate. In its seed rounds, Mosaic raised $3.4 million from venture capitalists. In 2012, Mosaic received a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy. The biggest project to date is installing solar panels on 1,500 military homes in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Another successful project included installing a solar roof on Pinnacle Charter School in Denver, Colorado, which doubled as clean energy education for the students.   Full Article.

California ISO Breaks New Solar Production Record

Solar power production hit a new record of 4,093 megawatts on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The previous record was 3,926 megawatts (MW) set the previous day on March 7. Electricity generated from solar has more than doubled from June 7, 2013 when the ISO recorded 2,071 MW of peak production — and output has more than quadrupled from the summer of 2012. The new record generation can instantaneously power about 3 million homes.  Meanwhile, when combining ISO wind resources of 5,890 MW* and solar resources of 5,231 MW, the two resources now account for 11,121 MW interconnected to the ISO grid. In total, all renewables (including geothermal) make up about 15,000 MW of the ISO generation mix. The current wind production record stands at 4,302 MW set June 23, 2013.  "This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well," says Steve Berberich, ISO President and Chief Executive Officer. "The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs — and that is exciting." 

GE Introduces Smart, Powerful 2.75-120 Wind Turbine

At the European Wind Energy Association's annual conference, GE) announced its 2.75-120 wind turbine, a smarter, more powerful turbine. Part of GE's brilliant wind platform, the 2.75-120 provides 5 percent more annual energy production than GE's 2.5-120 model and is available with various tower technologies, ranging between 85-139 meters, and optional energy storage. "As we accelerate our platform's growth in Europe, we will continue to invest in technology such as the 2.75-120's flexible tower and other energy storage options, making GE's wind turbines more customizable for developers and operators," said Cliff Harris, general manager of GE's renewable energy business in Europe. The 2.75-120 is available on a steel, hybrid or space frame tower, helping to tailor the turbine for unique site conditions and bring wind power to new places across the continent. The range of tower height spans 85-139 meters tall. Short-term or long-term energy storage is available with the 2.75-120, making wind power more predictable, flexible and fast responding through battery software applications. Short-term storage is integrated at the turbine level and long-term storage is centralized for the wind farm. These options further customize GE's offering based on-site or operator needs.

New Report: U.S. Solar Market Grows 41%, Has Record Year in 2013

Continuing its explosive growth, the U.S. solar industry had a record-shattering year in 2013. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013, photovoltaic (PV) installations continued to proliferate, increasing 41percent over 2012 to reach 4,751 megawatts (MW). In addition, 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came online. Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., exceeded only by natural gas. Additionally, the cost to install solar fell throughout the year, ending the year 15 percent below the mark set at the end of 2012.  At the end of 2013 there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S. totaling over 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP.  The U.S. installed 2,106 megawatts in the fourth quarter alone, 44 percent of the annual total. This makes Q4 2013 by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market, exceeding the next largest quarter by 60 percent. Cont'd

Follow The Money: Who Is Funding Energy Storage And Why

To understand how the energy storage in the United States – particularly California — is heating up, just follow the money.   Green Charge Networks, a Silicon Valley storage installer, announced Tuesday that it has lined up a $10 million fund from TIP Capital to finance projects. Green Charge installs lithium-ion batteries for businesses, who could forgo owning the storage equipment and pay for energy storage as a service via a long-term contract instead.   “Energy storage is what a lot of clean energy financing companies are working toward,” said Vic Shao, CEO of Green Charge Networks, which was founded in 2009. “Everybody realizes that this is what’s coming and they need to get on board.”   This leasing model has succeeded in expanding rooftop solar panel installations at homes and businesses, which could use solar electricity without paying tens of thousands of dollars upfront to own the equipment. Installers often market solar electricity as being cheaper than the electricity from utilities, though that saving usually isn’t guaranteed for the duration of the contract.   Storage installers tend to pitch their services to businesses and government agencies that want to reduce the so-called “demand charge.” A utility collects the fee to help pay for its readiness to generate and send power to meet its customers need, especially when demand is high. Cont'd

Trina Solar and ANU Jointly Develop High Efficiency Solar Cell

Trina Solar  a global leader in photovoltaic modules, solutions and services, announced today that researchers from Trina Solar and the Australian National University have jointly developed a new high-efficiency solar cell.   The laboratory scale Interdigitated Back Contact cell was developed at the Australian National University Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems under a research and development contract with Trina Solar through a collaboration contract with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore. After two years of research, funded by Trina Solar, the ANU has developed, with contribution from Australian consulting firm PV Lighthouse, an IBC silicon solar cell, which was independently tested by the Fraunhofer CalLab in Germany to be able to deliver an efficiency of 24.4%, putting it among the most efficient solar cells to date.   Trina Solar is now developing a commercial version of the IBC solar cell as well as an IBC PV module. The commercial cell has already reached an efficiency greater than 22% for a 125mm by 125mm IBC solar cell, and 238W for an IBC PV module (based on 72 cells), which was independently tested by the National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Solar Photovoltaic Products Quality of China. Though it is currently in laboratory scale, the new solar cell will soon be ready for industrialized mass production.

Tesla to raise $1.6 billion for 'Gigafactory'

Tesla's grand expansion plans will be funded in part by raising $1.6 billion through a bond issue that the automaker announced Wednesday.   The money will be used to build what its founder Elon Musk has dubbed the "Gigafactory" and for production of a more affordable, new mass market vehicle.   The massive factory is expected to produce more lithium ion batteries annually by 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013. Those batteries, and the reduction in their cost, are vital to Tesla's ability to produce a cheaper car in numbers that could catapult the company into the ranks of the major automakers. The electric car maker's current model, the Tesla S, has a starting price of $69,000 and can go more than 200 miles between charges.   The new factory, expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion, could be located in either Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Texas, the company said Wednesday. It could take up between 500 and 1,000 acres, employ about 6,500 people, and produce batteries needed for about 500,000 cars per year, Tesla said. Tesla recently increased its sales forecast for 2014, saying it expects global sales to reach 35,000 vehicles.   Construction expected to start later this year and production at the plant due to begin in early 2017.  

The Integrated Grid

Excerpts from the EPRI Study on the Integrated Electric Grid

50-State Solar Jobs Analysis

Solar energy is still pushing its way into the mainstream. Installation is booming because people are becoming more and more aware of the value and other benefits of solar energy.

2013 Nanotechnology Patent Literature Review

For nanotechnology patent literature as a whole, Energy Storage, Photovoltaics and Petroleum Exploration emerged as the top three areas of focus in the Energy sector, each with similar growth since the early 2000s.

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