Monday, September 12, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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US Ex-Im Bank approves $86 million loan for Indian solar PV project

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 06:59 PM PDT

The United States Export-Import bank has approved a grant of $86 million to one of India’s leading power companies to set up a 40 MW solar PV project. When commissioned in March 2012, the project will be among the largest solar PV projects in the country. The project will be set up in the solar resource-rich state of Rajasthan in western India.

The solar power plant would also benefit the US economy as the solar panels would be sourced from First Solar. First Solar will deliver a total of 100 MW worth of thin-film solar panels to Reliance Power by 2012. Reliance Power plans to set up more projects in Rajasthan in the near future.

In November 2010, the Ex-Im bank had approved a loan for $917 million to Reliance Power for its ultra mega power project (UMPP). The 4000 MW power plant to be located in Madhya Pradesh will be based in super critical coal technology which is relatively cheaper than the conventional coal-based power generation technology.

The Ex-Im bank noted that the project would still lead to production of significant amounts of greenhouse gases, given its enormous size, asked Reliance Power to set up renewable energy projects to offset at least a part of the expected GHG emissions. The solar power project is a part of the offsetting program.

Under the program, the company will also set up a 200 MW wind energy project in Maharashtra. The project will can be increased to 400 MW would be the largest wind farm in India.

Image: Jumanji Solar (Flickr/CC)

SolarCity to Launch Largest Residential Rooftop Project

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 07:54 AM PDT


SolarCity, a leading American solar company, has announced it is set to begin a $1 billon residential rooftop project, doubling the number of solar systems currently on homes around the United States.

The company reports it has received funding from two major investment banks – U.S. Renewables Group and Bank of America – plus a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. SolarCity recently received $280 million investment from Google. With this infusion of capital, the company plans to install 160,000 solar photovoltaic systems on houses and other buildings on military bases around the country in the next five years.

“This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement announcing the deal. “It can also be a model for other large-scale rooftop solar projects that help America regain its lead in the solar industry.”

Since it was founded in 2006, the company has installed 16,000 rooftop units. “This is a massive kick of momentum for the company,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s founder and CEO in a company press announcement.

In the wake of recent DOE loan failures to large solar companies like Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy last week, Rive stresses that this deal is nearly risk-free for the lenders and government, with SolarCity putting up its own money for the panels and only getting reimbursed by its lenders after each project is complete.

Renewable Energy World reports that SolarCity owns, operates and maintains the systems, and sells the electricity to the end-user. In working with investment banks to pool together often-complicated state and federal incentives, the company streamlines the process and simply offers the customer solar electricity — often at prices lower than current electric rates.

SolarCity says it will try to employ American veterans and family members for the 750 people needed to complete the project, showing that green jobs do indeed exist. The company has seen extraordinary growth in recent years. After starting in 2006 with just two people, SolarCity has added over 600 employees since 2006.


PHOTO: SolarCity

Electric Vehicles, Smart Grid, Residential Solar Power: A Virtuous Circle Emerges

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 05:45 AM PDT

Photo credit: Nissan USA

Isn’t it great when everything just seems to come together to create a virtuous circle? That’s what’s happening in and around San Diego, California with the combination of electric vehicles (EVs), a smart grid and residential solar power systems.

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular and more affordable in the US as auto manufacturers ramp up production and promotion. The same is true for residential solar power systems where government and manufacturer incentives and falling costs are making them more affordable than they’ve ever been.

Combine this with innovative, forward-looking electric utilities rolling out new customer pricing models along with demand response smart grid systems and a virtuous circle can be created, and it’s happening in and around San Diego today.

San Diegans drive an average 12,000 miles per year, leaving them an annual gasoline or fuel bill of $2,220 alone to operate their petrol-powered vehicles. Driving a Nissan Leaf EV for a year, by contrast, will result in annual fuel costs of just $343 a year, or $6.60 a week, an annual savings of nearly $1900, Solare Energy’s Jose Contreras explains in a Sept. 10 Ramona Herald blog post.

“Combining an electric vehicle and a home solar power system “is the best way to reap maximum savings,” Contreras explains.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SG&E) has equipped area homes with smart grid-based demand response capabilities that enable customers with residential solar power systems to sell electricity to the grid operator according to a rate schedule that pays them more to do so during the day when electric power demand is high than at night, when demand is low.

Electric Vehicle owners, on the other hand, pay lower rates to recharge their vehicles overnight during off-peak hours. The particulars wind up meaning that home solar power and EV owners “only need a solar system that creates half the electricity required by their vehicle to offset its total charging cost…A small, 1.2-kilowatt solar system priced at around $4,000 will cover charging costs for an electric vehicle for up to 40 years,” according to Contreras.

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