The solar-energy industry's huge assembly this week in Orlando buzzed with alternating currents of anxiety and optimism over this year's presidential election. A common thought at Solar Power International, which bills itself as North America's largest conference and exposition for the solar-energy business, was that the future will stay reasonably bright if President Obama wins a second term, but that it might be lights out if Mitt Romney prevails in November. "Both campaigns have been pretty vague on their energy plans, but certainly in the past four years we have seen strong leadership from the Obama administration to try to diversify our energy portfolio ," said Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a co-host of the four-day event. Resch said the industry's labor force has grown in recent years from 20,000 workers to more than 100,000 and has been a major bright spot in the economies of certain states, such as New Jersey.
Not only was General Motors praised by the Solar Energy Industries Association as the #1 user of solar power among automakers in the United States, it also ranked #13 among all companies for solar use. A variety of solar array initiatives at its plants have helped give it the ability to generate enough electricity to power 800 U.S. homes each year. SEIA and the Vote Solar Initiative determined the rankings via cumulative solar energy capacity. Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, deciphers that phrase this way: “GM has set an example in renewable energy within its industry and beyond. Solar helps companies reliably manage their long-term energy costs, and our top 20 companies are going solar in a big way across the nation.” In 2011, GM publicly stated its commitment to doubling its global sonar output to 60 megawatts by 2014 and to increase renewable energy use to 125MW by 2020.
Here is a synopsis of the many SPI 2012 news and product reports that we have prepared this year. Use these links to browse the coverage from your easy chair.
Over three days, an estimated 25,000 solar industry professionals promoted their products, made connections, and discussed the latest thinking and design. AltEnergyMag.com has partnered again with Solar Power International to bring all the news and highlights from this years show. In this report we have compiled a summary of some of the innovative new products displayed at Solar Power International 2012.
News and Product Announcements for SPI 2012 - Almost 100 news announcements at last count and still growing. Be sure to add your own company news to this report - just click the link that says "Click here to Submit Your Free Show News Release"
The value of solar PV completed in 2011 alone in the U.S. is $8.4 billion. Globally, the value was $93 billion. 100,000 people are employed by 5,600 solar companies throughout the U.S. - across all 50 states.
There is a wide range of utility experiences, but about 70% of solar activity is concentrated in the top 10 utilities as measured by our annual survey (www.sepatop10.org). The top 50 utilities encompass greater than 95% of the solar.
Seven of the top 17 states with the most rapid growth in the clean tech sector are considered swing states for the 2012 presidential election. Numbers like these suggest we are entering an era in which politicians who unfairly criticize or otherwise ignore clean tech run the risk of alienating a bedrock constituency: job holders, most of whom vote. We all need to understand that green jobs and clean tech are not merely the idle dreaming of a small group of partisan activists and insiders, but a source of livelihood for millions of Americans, literally in all parts of the country. What's more, their numbers are growing every day.
Peak oil? coal? gas? tar sands? shale gas? or any such? New discoveries seem to outpace all fears of early shortages. CO2 and AGW worries groundless? The jury is still out on that. Does that mean we can live free of any worries and carry on without any further need for doomsayers and troglodytes? Well yes, based on such questions. But could it just be possible that these are not the right questions to ask as they might produce wrong answers and consequently lead to wrong policies and investments?
The ASES National Solar Tour is the world's largest grassroots solar event. More than 160,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.
Solar Power International (SPI) is North America’s premier business-to-business event for professionals in solar energy and related fields. Thousands of solar energy industry professionals from 100+ countries attend. One of five attendees comes from outside the United States. More than 900 exhibiting companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum. AltEnergyMag.com has put together a special newspage devoted specifically to news and announcements coming out of this years show . We invite those exhibitors to post PR directly to this newspage here.
The significance of Solar Power International comes not from the number or diversity of its attendees. Rather, this year's conference matters because it comes at a time of rapid innovation and change in the industry. These changes affect so many aspects of the business that players need to constantly update their understanding; to be just a month behind puts you at a competitive disadvantage. What's changed since Dallas? SPI 2011 was held last October in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, the industry landscape has changed drastically, specifically with regard to how projects are getting financed. In any given month, DG Energy Partners sees dozens of MWs of projects seeking financial partners. Regardless of where these projects are located, the underlying trends remain the same; hardware prices have continued to fall, EPC margins have continued to shrink and projects have grown increasingly difficult to complete. And we haven't even mentioned what changes we can expect in 2013.
Chinese solar companies expect the European Commission to announce within days a formal investigation into their alleged dumping of solar panels in Europe, which could result in heavy tariffs being imposed on them next year. The expected move against the companies, whose share prices have tumbled and whose financial outlook is cloudy due to oversupply and falling solar-equipment prices, would come as they are already fighting clean-energy trade battles on several fronts. Also, China and the European Union are at loggerheads over several other trade rows, including a European plan to punish airlines if they don't comply with an emissions-control program—issues that could have the potential to sour China's readiness to help in financially underpinning Europe's debt-laden economies. European solar-panel makers filed a confidential complaint July 25 with the commission, the EU's executive arm, accusing Chinese solar-panel manufacturers of selling products at below-cost prices in Europe.
The QBotix Tracking System rethinks two-axis tracking in an effort to bring the cost down to what solar project developers pay for single-axis trackers. Instead of having the hardware to adjust the angle on every solar panel, QBotix engineers created a traveling robot equipped with the motor needed to change the angle. Like a small train, the robot drives along a track a few feet off the ground placed along the edge of solar panels and makes adjustments. It’s designed so that one robot can service 200 panels in 40 minutes, the time it takes the sun to move 10 degrees. The track can be a simple loop or navigate turns and hills, according to QBotix CEO and founder Wasiq Bokhari. A magnet on the robot allows it to locate a panel mount, where it can attach its motors to make the adjustments.
Current stretched porous film battery separators for lithium ion batteries are thin, strong, and provide a good barrier between electrodes, at the cost of having very high internal resistance and low ionic flow due to low porosity and high "dead space" that come from starting with a solid material and trying to impart porosity. This work uses an alternative approach, where linear nanofibers and microfibers are combined in wet laid nonwoven processes to give separators that are strong and thin, but have higher porosity (60-70%) and so have much higher ionic flow.
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