Visitors to last week’s Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco could not help but notice the presence of a benign invader: energy storage vendors. Half the second-floor exhibition space at the Moscone West convention hall had been rented by energy storage companies. According to Markus Elsaesser, CEO of Intersolar, the number of companies exhibiting energy storage technologies at Intersolar has increased from about a dozen just three years ago to more than 200 this year. The surge in companies entering, or expanding into, the energy storage space is no accident. Bankruptcies, a panel supply glut, and falling feed-in tariff rates have shaken the PV industry. Panel and system manufacturers are looking for ways to grow earnings, and one likely new revenue source is energy storage. According to Elsaesser, the PV industry expects to boost revenue by $10 billion by 2017 globally with storage. “The PV industry needs to look for future profit pools,” Markus Hoehner, founder of theInternational Battery and Energy Storage Alliance(IBESA), said at an Intersolar briefing. “When we look at the PV industry on the global level, most of it was feed-in tariff driven. It was about IRR [internal rate of return], making money out of the PV system. Now, due to the downturn in the feed-in tariff markets, and due to the much lower system cost, we’re talking about saving money.” Homeowners in markets with high retail electricity rates, he said, are looking to shield themselves from rising energy costs with storage. Take the example of Germany. Matthias Vetter , a researcher with theFraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems(ISE), who also spoke at the briefing, said that he pays 26 euro cents ($0.34) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for grid electricity in Germany.
Solar Impulse has made history with the first aircraft to fly across the United States without a single drop of fuel. Instead, the innovative Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype made its segmented journey using renewable solar power. The ambitious coast-to-coast trip from NASA's Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City took two months to complete, landing safely on July 6. The aircraft draws its power from 11,628 solar cells and has an average flying speed of 43 mph. Its maximum altitude is approximately 27,900 feet, while it boasts an extremely light carbon fiber structure and an enormous wingspan equal to that of an Airbus A340. According to the project website, the solar powered HB-SIA was designed top to bottom to save energy, resist the hostile conditions facing the plane and pilot at high altitudes, and to marry weight restraints with the required strength. The Flight Across America mission was steered by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Swiss pilots and founders of Solar Impulse. The two men took turns manning the single passenger cockpit as it made its way across the U.S. making stops in Phoenix, Dallas Fort Worth and Washington D.C. before reaching its final destination in New York.
China, the world’s biggest maker of solar panels, plans to increase fivefold its installed solar capacity to more than 35 gigawatt by 2015 to support an industry faced with declining profits, slowing exports and a supply glut. The nation will add 10 gigawatt of solar-power capacity annually over the next three years, according to a statement from the State Council posted on the central government’s website today. The move will help reduce the industry’s reliance on exports and ease oversupply that contributed to a 20 percent plunge in the average price of solar panels last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China will provide credit support to profitable photovoltaic manufacturers and encourage restructuring and overseas investment, according to the statement, which didn’t specify what period the government will consider to measure profitability. Risen Energy Co. (300118) jumped 10 percent, its daily limit and the most since Feb. 18, to 6.71 yuan in Shenzhen trading. Hareon Solar Technology Co. (600401) rose as much as 6.8 percent and traded 4.6 percent higher to 6.49 yuan as of 1:25 p.m. in Shanghai. “While the Chinese government is determined to boost the domestic market, it is not sufficient to eliminate oversupply,” said Wang Xiaoting, a Beijing-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Panel prices will stay stable in 2013."
19,000 visitors visited to learn about the latest technology innovations, financing models, business best practices and policy and incentive programs that are contributing to the growth of the U.S. solar industry. Products from nearly 600 exhibitors from 22 countries were on display on all three levels of Moscone West, representing the entire system of solar technology and showcasing advances in solar cell and module technology, balance of system components, solar heating and cooling and energy storage. AltEnergyMag.com has once again partnered with Intersolar to bring all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine and help our readers make sense of this key tradeshow. Here we have compiled a list of some product releases from this years show. Check out our special Intersolar 2013 Newspage for Exhibitor news.
The solar energy industry is in high gear and at Solar Power International 201 3 (SPI ’13), October 21-24, McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, participants can plug into the technologies, personal connections and professional insights that give rise to new business and learning opportunities. Widely regarded as the can’t-miss industry event of the year, SPI draws over 15,000 professionals in solar energy and related fields, from 75+ countries. One in six attendees comes to this global event from outside the United States. Attendees include manufacturers, installers and contractors, distributors, engineering firms, utilities, government representatives and policy makers, investors and financiers, architects, builders and developers—anyone who needs to stay on top of the latest developments in solar energy. Nearly 700 companies representing the entire solar industry spectrum exhibit on 300,000 net square feet of space. Exhibits highlight the latest in PV cells and modules; balance of systems; material and equipment suppliers; distributors; integrators; installers and solar service providers; thermal solar technologies; concentrating solar power (CSP) and solar thermal electric and concentrating PV (CPV); publications; and an additional array of products and services. SPI presents a full range of opportunities to make connections in Chicago and throughout the solar energy industry. Build your network face to face in SPI’s general sessions, conference sessions, receptions and training workshops—or as you explore the dynamic exhibit floor. SPI is presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Unlike other solar conferences, all proceeds support the expansion of the U.S. solar energy market through SEIA's and SEPA's year-round research and education activities, as well as SEIA's advocacy, research and communications efforts. Join SEIA or SEPA by October 18, 2013, to enjoy a membership discount on Solar Power International 2013 registration as well as many member benefits year round. For details on association membership, visit www.seia.org or www.solarelectricpower.org . For networking, ideas, making deals and discovering opportunities, solar energy professionals head to one event: Solar Power International 2013. Register today!
Marine energy technology leader Minesto develops world's first simulator for anchored flying underwater vehicles
Nordic marine energy technology leader Minesto has developed a simulator to aid the development of its Deep Green marine power plant. The simulator has been developed in-house by Minesto’s own research and development department, and is in essence based on two existing open source programs: one for commercial flight simulation and one for marine vehicle simulation. The end result is an analysis and simulation tool called HAMoS, Hydrodynamic Analysis and Motion Simulation, believed to be the first in the world to simulate the movements of a flying tethered underwater vehicle. It will be used to predict how Minesto’s marine power plant, Deep Green, moves subsea in various ocean environments and depending on the plant’s design. Minesto’s research, development and testing staff can change a number of variables in the power plant’s design to simulate and optimize its performance. The simulator can be used to predict Deep Green’s behaviour and power performance in different real-life site conditions (i.e. the strength and direction of the currents). Deep Green resembles a sweeping underwater kite, comprised of a wing and a turbine, which is secured to the seabed with a tether and moves with high speed in an 8-shaped path in the tidal or ocean current. Deep Green produces 100% renewable tidal energy.
Outlining a new climate change plan on a warm day in Washington, President Obama said Tuesday his State Department should not sign off on the Keystone XL oil pipeline if it increases greenhouse gas emissions. "The national interest will be served only if the project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," Obama said in a speech at Georgetown University. Keystone is not part of the climate change plan that Obama said includes new rules to restrict "the relentless dumping" of carbon pollution from power plants, as well as the promotion of renewable energy sources and new energy-efficiency standards. Warning that climate change threatens future generations, Obama told his college audience that "the question is not whether we need to act" because "the overwhelming judgement of science ... has put all that to rest." The question is whether the nation has "the courage to act before it is too late," the president said. Almost all of the president's plan involves executive actions that do not require congressional approval. Obama would have a difficult time getting climate change legislation through Congress, given a U.S. House run by Republicans and a Senate in which the GOP has enough members to mount effective filibusters. Republicans and members of the energy industry criticized Obama's climate change plan, saying it will lead to higher utility bills and less development of reliable energy.
Disputes over the use of small-scale solar power are flaring across the nation, with utilities squaring off against solar-energy marketers over rules for the growing technology. Until now, the fights have been mainly before state regulators. In California, Louisiana and Virginia, utilities have sought to cut what they claim are unfairly high payments they are required to make to owners of homes or larger buildings with solar systems. At issue in an Iowa lawsuit is whether solar-system marketers can sell electricity in territories where local utilities have exclusive rights to customers. Such an arrangement isn't allowed or is under dispute in many states, limiting solar firms to sales of panels to homeowners and businesses. But if they win in Iowa, it could pave the way for fledgling solar industries to expand in other states. The case is being watched closely elsewhere in the Midwest, where policies granting utilities a monopoly on electricity service are one reason a solar-construction boom hasn't occurred, unlike in states such as California and New Jersey. Utilities "are proponents of renewable energy," said Barry Shear, president of Iowa's Eagle Point Solar LLC, but only "if they own the energy assets and the electrons flow through their grid and they can bill you." In March, an Iowa District Court judge said Mr. Shear's 18-employee company could sign power-purchase contracts in the Dubuque territory of Alliant Energy Corp., one of the state's largest utilities. Under the disputed deal, Eagle Point would own solar panels on the roof of a Dubuque municipal building and sell power to the city at a rate similar to Alliant's.
Although the market for small wind power systems has been in existence for 30 years, there are many signs that the industry is reaching a critical juncture. The past 18 months have seen a number of bankruptcies and acquisitions among small wind turbine manufacturers. Nevertheless, the overall opportunity for small wind power remains strong across a variety of applications in both developed and developing countries. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the worldwide market for small wind systems will reach $723 million by 2018, with $3.3 billion in cumulative sales from 2013 through 2018. "Small wind is growing primarily as a result of state and national incentives, including a burgeoning market in the United Kingdom," says Dexter Gauntlett, research analyst with Navigant Research. "The question is: Can the small wind turbine industry grow to more than just a niche market, and attract the investment required to drive down costs? Given the precipitous price declines for solar photovoltaic modules, distributed solar PV is increasingly competitive with small wind."
Alternative energy has been a hot button issue for the last 50 year's and investors have always found a way to play this heated market. In the last decade, there has been the launch of a number of ETFs that offer a specialized basket of products for alternative energy exposure, with 12 of these funds still in operation today. Below we outline two green energy ETFs that have been battling for investor attention since inception: Powershares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio ( PBW, A ) and Guggenheim Solar ETF ( TAN, C+ ). Holding between $172 million and $107 million in total assets under management each, these funds are easily the largest green energy funds currently on the market. PBW holds a mix of companies that are focused on greener and generally renewable sources of energy, as well as technologies that facilitate cleaner energy. TAN, on the other hand, is aimed specifically at the solar power industry, investing in companies that produce equipment, fabricate solar panels, or provide a direct service to this market. Newer to the market, TAN started trading in spring 2008, while PBW was already three years into the market. Both funds were hammered in the years following the financial crash, with record outflows in PBW while TAN saw its first few years since inception with negative returns. A number of funds closed during this three-year window, but it is a testament to these funds that they were able to remain in operation. While alternative energy ETFs have had a difficult few years, with the markets coming out of their long-term lull, these ETFs have seen a massive influx of funding and returns. Alternative energy is moving back into the spotlight as economies around the world stabilize, and investors should see this strong trend continue as long as the market remains on track. Full Article and images:
German industrial conglomerate Siemens (SIEGn.DE) is shutting down the last of its solar energy businesses after it failed to find a buyer, the company said on Monday. Confirming a report in German newspaper Handelsblatt, a spokesman for Siemens said the group would close Solel by early next year. The Israeli business has accumulated losses of around 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion) since Siemens bought it in 2009, including a write-off of the entire purchase price. Siemens has spent seven months trying to sell Solel, which makes components used in solar-thermal power stations. Some 280 employees will be affected by the closure, most of them in Israel. The cost will run into the mid-double digit millions of euros, according to Siemens. Once a promising new field with strong growth rates, the solar energy industry is in sharp decline in Germany as Chinese manufacturers flood the global market with cheaper panels and components.
David Crane, CEO and president, NRG Energy (NRG) “With the cost of solar panels now just 10 percent of what they were five years ago, how do we streamline the local approval process and reduce the friction costs so that U.S. homeowners can realize the solar value of their property while paying less for their electricity?” We need to develop in every state a network of cooperation in which contractors, utilities, building and home owners, tenants, and government agencies understand the shared benefits of solar energy and work together to accelerate its deployment. Our outdated energy grid’s outages cost the U.S. economy $25 billion or more every year, according to a recent Morgan Stanley study using Department of Energy data. Recent extreme weather events have had devastating effects on our aging infrastructure and make a stronger case than ever to build a more resilient and reliable energy system. Distributed solar energy will help us to build that resilience and reliability, both for the nation and for individual owners of homes and buildings. Full Article:
Until recently less than 1% of Japan's electrical power output came from renewables. But following the catastrophe of Fukushima and the power blackouts that followed, Japan has seen an explosion in investment in alternatives. Solar, in particular, in this averagely photon-blessed country, has seen a seismic rise of late and is this year poised to become the world's largest solar market in volume after China. According to a report by energy analyst IHS on Japan's energy mix, Japan's solar installations jumped by "a stunning 270% (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013." That means by the end of 2013 there will be enough new solar panels equal to the capacity of seven nuclear reactors. Such massive growth will allow Japan to surpass Germany and become the world's largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue this year. "Japan is forecast to install $20 billion worth of PV systems in 2013, up 82% from $11 billion in 2012," IHS said. "In contrast, the global market is set for tepid 4% growth. The strong revenue performance for Japan this year is partly driven by the high solar prices in the country." Germany still leads with the total number of units and capacity, however, with its 32,192 megawatts. Japan is now closer to the U.S.'s 8,069 megawatts at 7,429 megawatts, according to London-based BNEF.
With Southern California’s largest electric generating station broken and scheduled for removal, solar generation levels have reached a record level in California, state officials said Sunday. Solar power generation on California’s grid set a new all-time high output of 2,071 megawatts at 12:59 p.m. Friday, said officials at the California ISO, the state agency that balances customer demand on regulated power utilities with power generation from commercial vendors. That nearly equals the 2,250 megawatts of nuclear-powered generation that was lost in January, 2012, when small amounts of radiation began leaking from Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, at Camp Pendleton. San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent of San Onofre, and has historically received one fifth of its power from the iconic nuclear plant, 65 miles north of San Diego. SDG&E has reassured its customers it can import sufficient replacement power from natural gas, wind and geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley via its new Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. The amount of solar energy generated on Friday was enough to power more than 1.5 million homes across California, Cal ISO officials said.
In a quest for a smaller, more self-sustaining solar power source, a UW-Madison electrical engineer has proposed a design for solar panels that can simultaneously generate power from sunlight and store power reserves for later, all within a single device. Hongrui Jiang and his students developed the idea, published in the journal Advanced Materials June 6. Jiang is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison and specializes in microscale devices. He and his students developed the technology as an offshoot of a National Institutes of Health grant to design a self-focusing contact lens that adapts to the eyes of adults suffering from presbyopia, a natural aging process that stiffens the lens and reduces the eye's ability to focus, especially at short distances. To power that contact lens, Jiang and his team have worked out a design that balances energy harvesting, storage and usage. "We needed a multi-functional and small-form-factor device in order to integrate it all into a single contact lens structure," says Jiang. The top layer of each photovoltaic cell is a conventional photo electrode, converting sunlight into electrons. During that conversion process, the electrons split off into two directions: most electrons flow out of the device to support a power load, while some are directed to a polyvinylidene fluoride polymer (PVDF) coated on zinc oxide nanowires. The PVDF has the high dielectric constant required to serve as an energy storage solution. "When there's no sunlight, the stored power will come back through the nano wires to power the load."
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Sonnen's mission is to provide clean and affordable energy for all. As the first mainstream grid tied residential energy storage company in the world and with 24,000 sonnenBatterie systems installed worldwide, sonnen is a proven global leader in intelligent energy management solutions. The all-in-one sonnenBatterie smart energy storage solution easily integrates with new and existing solar installations to help homes manage their energy throughout the day-saving money, providing backup power, and maximizing the effective use of solar power day and night. Sonnen has won several awards for its energy innovations, including the 2017 Zayed Future Energy Prize, MIT's Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies in 2016, Global Cleantech 100 for 2015-2017, Greentech Media's 2016 Grid Edge Award for Innovation, and Cleantech's 2015 Company of the Year Award in both Israel and Europe.