North American Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Installations Surge in Q4'11

Region set for more than 60% growth in 2012; Downstream companies will need to adapt to changes in end-market

U.S. Goes from Net Exporter to Net Importer of Solar Products in One Year;

The United States' once-vaunted solar-industry trade surplus with China disappeared between 2010 and 2011, according to findings released today by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). The U.S. solar industry had an estimated $1.6 billion trade deficit with China in 2011, after enjoying an estimated $250 million to $540 million surplus in 2010. CASM's findings are based on data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), as well as a prior study by GTM Research. "This new data, drawn from official government sources, finally buries the Chinese importers' tired, shop-worn and factually incorrect talking point that the U.S. solar industry has a trade surplus with China," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar cells and panels. "Chinese importers often claim that the modest U.S. trade surplus in 2010 proved that China is not threatening the U.S. solar industry and economy. But it is no longer 2010, and any trade surplus is history. Illegal dumping by massively subsidized Chinese solar producers, combined with curbed exports of polysilicon and manufacturing equipment, are decimating U.S. solar manufacturers, the supply chain and their export business." Read Full Press Release here:  

Army Kicks Off $7 Billion Alternative Energy Project

The Army issued a draft request for proposals today to purchase over a 30-year period $7 billion worth of power generated from alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Katherine Hammock, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, announced plans for the project last year to support the service's goal of having installations produce more energy than they consume. The Army Corps of Engineers' Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., which is managing the procurement, said the alternative energy power generation plants will be located on or near federal property. Hammond said last year that the Army would support their development by leasing land on installations, and the draft RFP backs this up with language that says the service endorses "the procurement of large scale renewable energy generated on or near Army land."

Siemens Blindsided by China Wind Boom Plans ‘Massive' Investment

Siemens AG (SIE), the world’s largest maker of offshore wind turbines, said it underestimated the pace of growth in the Chinese wind market and will ramp up spending to catch up as local competitors increase their lead. “We’re investing massively in research and development and to make use of economies of scale in production,” Felix Ferlemann, head of Siemens’s wind-power business, said in response to e-mailed questions. “We were somewhat taken by surprise by the strong growth of the Chinese market.” China led the world in installing wind-power capacity last year. Munich-based Siemens is working to keep pace in the country, where it’s lagging behind suppliers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), while competition puts pressure on prices. Profitability at Siemens’s renewable-energy unit was wiped out last year, calling into question Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher’s strategy of focusing more on green technologies. Read Full Article:

Aquion Energy Selects Pennsylvania for First Large-Scale Manufacturing Facility

Aquion Energy Inc., a developer and manufacturer of revolutionary sodium ion batteries and energy storage systems, today announced it has chosen Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania as the site for its first full-scale manufacturing facility. "After considering all of our options, including aggressive offers from a number of other U.S. states, we concluded that southwestern Pennsylvania is the best location for Aquion to establish its first high-volume manufacturing operation" Starting in 2012, Aquion will be leasing space within a large existing facility in East Huntingdon Township from the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC). The build-out of the base facility and factory infrastructure will begin immediately and continue throughout 2012. Initial product manufacturing is scheduled to commence in 2013. As part of a first phase manufacturing commitment at this site, Aquion expects to create over 400 high-tech manufacturing jobs by the end of 2015. Click here for full Press Release  

Fuel Cell Benefits Drive Repeat Customers

Companies might be trying fuel cells to portray a green image, or to stay on the cutting edge of technology. They become repeat customers because the technology works and saves money over incumbent systems. As our reports show, there is a business case for fuel cells. With corporate, government, and international interest, fuel cell deployments are sure to grow even more over the next few years.

Case Study - Northwest Washington Electrical Industry Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee

The project was designed in-house by myself and engineering and structural fabrication was completed by Crystalite of Everett, WA. Installation was done by staff here at the training center - all electricians.

Improving Performance and Reducing Maintenance of CSP Systems with Copolymers

Chamelic is a spin-out company from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds. Chamelic Ltd was established in February 2006 to exploit innovative chemicals discovered and developed at the Institute Particle Science and Engineering (IPSE).

Better Buildings, Better Plants

The Department of Energy's intention behind the showcase project is to have leading companies create "blueprints" of their energy saving tactics that are actionable by a broader set of US companies. By creating an aggressive goal for a single facility, it affords a focused experience of what it takes to achieve that goal. We plan to be transparent in our actions in order to create these repeatable solutions for other companies.

Report of the Nigeria Alternative energy Expo 2011

NAEE 2011 saw participation from 17 countries representing all 6 continents and 147 companies gathered in Abuja to discuss African alternative energy climate with particular emphasis on opportunities, challenges and developments. Several notable speakers and experts from various sectors of the alternative energy sector provided insights.

The GreenVolts Integrated Solar System

Our modular system scales easily for distributed loads, such as irrigation pumps on different parcels of land, to large, centralized loads for commercial, industrial, and utility customers.

Congress Deals Major Blow to Wind Power Industry

The wind power industry is predicting massive layoffs and stalled or abandoned projects after a deal to renew a tax credit failed Thursday in Washington. The move is expected to have major ramifications in states such as Illinois, where 13,892 megawatts of wind projects -- enough to power 3.3 million homes per year -- wait to be connected to the electric grid. Many of those projects will be abandoned or significantly delayed without federal subsidies. The state is home to more than 150 companies that support the wind industry. At least 67 of those companies make turbines or components for wind farms. Chicago is the U.S. headquarters to more than a dozen major wind companies who wanted to take advantage of powerful Midwestern winds.  

US DOE Launches Solar Training

The US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is developing two new training programs that will be available through the Solar Instructor Training Network in spring 2012. This nationwide collaboration between community colleges, labor training centers, and nine Regional Training Providers is intended to provide high-quality photovoltaic (PV) occupational skills courses and training for every state in the country. The PV On-Line Training tool will provide free, web-based training on solar PV inspection and building code practices for code officials across the country. Inspectors will be able to take eight in-depth modules on photovoltaic inspections at their convenience and then attend a free follow-up training the next summer at a nearby partner school. PV On-Line Trainings incorporate a simulated video environment for a “gaming” atmosphere that changes the scenario each time it is opened.

SolarReserve constructs 540-foot solar power tower

Despite that some solar thermal projects — which use the sun’s heat instead of solar panels — are getting replaced with cheaper solar panels, some developers are still moving forward on massive solar thermal plants in the deserts of the U.S. Developer SolarReserve announced on Thursday that it’s finished building the 540-foot solar power tower that will make up the centerpiece of its 110 MW project in Nevada. The plant is called the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant and SolarReserve says it’ll be “the largest power plant of its kind in the world.” It’ll also use molten salt for energy storage.

U.S. Grid Energy Storage Market is Strong and Poised for Exponential Growth

Industry Forecasts Strong Investments in Energy Storage Markets Within the U.S., industry analysts forecast that $240 billion will be invested in storage grid applications over the next 10 years. Overall, government support is strong with the Department of Energy (DOE) Smart Grid Demonstration Grants project investing $772 million. Strong investments from the government and venture capitalists, successful demonstration projects, and recent technological advancements have all contributed to strong growth in the storage market. Market drivers are energy independence and security; smart grid investments; time of use/peak demand rates; increase in renewables and distributed generation; and government policies, incentives and regulations. Though all sectors of the energy storage market show strong potential, from an application perspective distributed generation devices, renewable systems, and ancillary services show the greatest near term growth potential. Global opportunity over the next 10 to 20 years is estimated at upwards of 300 gigawatts (GW) in size, which translates into $200-$600 billion in value.  

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