U.S.-China smackdown: America No. 1 in wind power

Climate-conscious Americans have long glanced enviously across the Pacific to China and its ever-growing number of often-gargantuan wind farms.   It turns out that they have less to be jealous about than previously thought: The United States has more wind energy powering its grid than any other country in the world, says a report by EDF Renewable Energy, the largest third-party provider of operations and maintenance for wind renewable-energy projects in the country.   Though China has more megawatts of wind turbines installed than the U.S—about 90,000 to America's 60,000—the U.S. actually produces more electricity that is delivered to the grid, which in turn reaches more businesses and homes. And while China's wind industry delivered less than 138 billion kilowatt-hours in 2013, the U.S.'s delivered more than 167 billion.   That's 20 percent more than China. And the U.S.'s generation has been growing steadily since 2008, when it first overtook Germany to become the world's No. 1 producer.

Why Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are buying up wind energy

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are part of a growing number of tech and other major companies that are entering into long-term “power purchase” agreements (PPAs) with wind farms to ensure a steady stream of power, at a fixed cost, over a period as long as several decades. Most recently, last month Yahoo signed such a deal for wind power in the Great Plains with OwnEnergy, a wind energy developer.   Google -- which is already carbon neutral and now trying to power itself with “100 percent renewable energy” -- has the longest history here. It has three PPA deals in the U.S. wind sector (in Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas), and two more in Sweden. Microsoft, meanwhile, currently has two PPA deals with wind installments located near its data centers in Texas and Illinois. The agreements provide 285 megawatts of power to help drive both Bing searches and also its other online platforms, according to Brian Janous, the company’s director of energy strategy.   What these deals have in common is that they involve purchasing clean energy in close proximity to the power hungry data centers that these companies operate -- data centers that in turn drive searches, apps like Gmail and much more. “These are very energy intensive operations that these companies are planning on running for years, and they know they need electricity,” says Emily Williams of the American Wind Energy Association.

Brazil gives go-ahead to 31 solar parks in push for new energy

Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.   Brazil's energy regulator, Aneel, concluded its first exclusive solar power auction on Friday, clinching 20-year energy supply contracts with companies that will invest 4.14 billion reais ($1.67 billion) and start to feed the national grid in 2017.   The 31 solar parks, the first large-scale solar projects to be constructed in Brazil, will have a combined installed capacity of 1,048 megawatts (MW). Market expectations were for projected total awards of 500 MW.   "This auction is a mark, not only because it signals the entrance of solar power in the Brazilian energy mix, but because it was one of the most competitive to date," said Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the government's energy research company, EPE.   The auction lasted more than eight hours. The final price for solar power came at around 220 reais ($89) per megawatt-hour, against an initial price of 262 reais ($106), an 18 percent discount.   "This is one of the lowest prices for solar energy in the world," Tolmasquim said.

Power storage group Alevo plan 1bn US battery plant

Could a long-vacant cigarette factory in North Carolina build the rechargeable battery that will unlock the future of the clean energy economy?   The Swiss-based Alevo Group launched the new battery technology on Tuesday. After spending $68.5m (£42.5m) for the factory, the group said it would spend up to $1bn to develop a system that would get rid of waste on the grid and expand the use of wind and solar power.   The project, a joint venture with state-owned China-ZK International Energy Investment Co, aims to ship its first GridBank, its patented battery array, to Guangdong Province this year, going into production on a commercial scale in mid-2015.   The container-sized arrays store 2MW and would be installed on-site at power plants.   Jostein Eikeland, Alevo’s chief executive, said in an interview that the company had an agreement with the Turkish state power authority, and was in discussions with US power companies.   “It’s a gamechanger,” he said.   “If we can take some of the massive energy that is wasted today by mismanagement of the grid and inject it where it is needed, everybody wins,” said Eikeland.   Eikeland said the company would create 2,500 jobs at the factory in Concord over the next three years.

The State of the Solar Industry in North America

The recent surge in storage activity has its roots in a general consensus being reached by stakeholders that the technologies are on a path that will enable them to achieve the cost, performance, and reliability targets that have been promised.

2015 State Solar Power Rankings

Of the top ten states for solar, only New Mexico is what we would consider a traditionally "sunny" state. And most of the top ten is made up of northeastern states, which see plenty of wind, rain, snow, and clouds.

Energy in California Conference 2014

Being very involved in getting environmental permits to build renewable energy facilities, I am very interested in the question of how the industry is going to solve the grid integration issue. Since renewable energy is generated during daylight hours and the highest period of demand is in the evening, there is a mismatch.

Everything is Bigger in Texas - or not:
The State of the Texas Solar and Electricity Markets

Today, Texas only has 200 MW of solar capacity, less than New Jersey, Massachusetts, and a handful of other states.

SolarWorld announces expansions of solar panel and advanced cell production in Oregon

SolarWorld, the largest crystalline silicon solar producer in the Americas for nearly 40 years, announced that in 2015, it would add a solar-panel production line in Hillsboro to bring the panel-assembly factory's capacity up to 530 megawatts (MW), expand advanced cell production capacity by 100 MW and add 200 jobs.  "It is no secret that the last several years have been tough for SolarWorld and for U.S. solar manufacturers in general," SolarWorld U.S. President Mukesh Dulani said. "However, thanks to a variety of factors, including our trade cases against China, difficult but necessary financial controls and a fantastic group of employees, we have turned the corner. Today's announcement shows that SolarWorld is not only here to stay, but it also is ready to extend our leadership in the American solar manufacturing industry."    Dulani was joined at a morning news conference by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. Sen. Wyden received a commemorative plaque thanking him for his years of support for SolarWorld and its workers during the cases. He also spoke at a SolarWorld employee forum after the news conference. 

Why Is There So Much Confusion About "Small Wind"?

Have you ever noticed energy blogs or articles about small wind turbines comparing them directly with big wind technology and solar? I am writing this article to provide a little background on where small wind turbines can be very successful and where they make absolutely no sense. It also explains why the market for “Small Wind” is vastly different from that of “Big Wind.”   First of all, “Small Wind” has been defined by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as any turbines under 100 kW of rated power. As we all know, 100 kW wind turbines aren’t small! Therefore, others have decided to define them as anything up to 10 kW. For the purpose of this article, we use the same definition as AWEA, up to 100 kW. Full Article:

Solar Power International 2014 AltEnergyMag Tradeshow Report

AltEnergyMag.com has once again partnered with SPI 2014 to bring all the industry news and exciting new products to help our readers make sense of this key tradeshow. Here we have compiled a list of some product releases from this years show.

Special News Report for SPI 2014

Here are press releases and announcements from SPI 2014. Exhibitors are welcome to post their news here too.

SPI 2014 - Interview with Mark Cerasuolo of Outback Power Technologies

For SPI in 2014, we will be introducing the all-new control capabilities of our OPTICS RE user application. Launched this spring, the OPTICS RE cloud-based user-interface application provides installers and owners of OutBack systems the ability to easily monitor PV/solar system operation, performance and output via an intuitive dashboard from any Internet-enabled device.

SPI 2014 - Interview with David Briggs of IronRidge

This year we are focusing our new XR Rail Family, which was first introduced in mid-July. It's a significant improvement to our Roof Mount product line, both in terms of cost and installation efficiency.

SPI 2014 - Interview with Rita Hazen of Joyce/Dayton Corp.

SPI does a good job of organizing the business areas of interest in a logical manner making it easier to focus on those areas that are important to our business.

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Solar & Wind - Featured Product

IMO Precision Controls - Keeping Solar Safe

IMO Precision Controls - Keeping Solar Safe

The IMO FireRaptor provides three forms of Solar Panel Rapid Shutdown to ZERO VOLTS in case of fire or other emergency: Manual Panel Shutdown to 0V Operated from Ground Level, Automatic Panel Shutdown to 0V at >85°C (185°F) Temperature, and an automatic Panel Shutdown to 0V on External Power Loss. The FireRaptor can be installed without any set-up and with any string inverter as its functionality is completely independent. "Plug & Play" style installation using industry standard connectors is easy, whether fitted to new installs or retrofitted to existing projects to upgrade fire safety functionality. Meeting NEC2017's regulation to switch DC current at the PV panel in under 30 seconds, FireRaptor is remains one of the safest and most effective means of isolating DC current at the source, and the only rapid shutdown with a 20 year warranty.