- NREL Teams with Berkeley Lab to Analyze Solar Pricing Trends and Benchmark “Soft” Costs for PV Systems
- 82 MW Of Solar At 17 Japanese Sites (Including Former Airport); Solar Tree Installations At GM; Solar Chargers For Camping (+ More Clean Power News)
- 5 Things Obama Administration Needs To Do To Remain A Renewable Energy Leader
- Graphene Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Created, A Seamless 3-D Material For Energy Storage & Electronics
- Taiwan Increases Solar Energy Capacity Target By 30% (To 130 MW), While Further Decreasing Its Feed-In Tariffs
- China’s New Distributed Solar PV Policies To Boost Distributed Solar To 35% Market Share, Report Finds
- SunEdison Boosting South African Solar With Two New Solar Projects
- UK Renewables Industry Needs Better PR
- 15.6 GW Of Wind Power In Brazil By 2021
- NASA Satellites Team Up To Track Pollution
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:46 PM PST
Downward pricing for solar projected to continue; soft costs made up 40-50 percent of residential and commercial PV prices in 2010
The first report, Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections, examines progress in PV price reductions to help DOE and other PV stakeholders manage the transition to a market-driven PV industry and to provide clarity surrounding the wide variety of potentially conflicting data available about PV system prices. By examining progress in PV price reductions, the report will also help DOE track progress toward the SunShot goals of reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by roughly 75 percent between 2010 and 2020. The joint report indicates that PV system prices in the U.S. have been falling rapidly during the past decade, and are likely to continue their downward trend through 2012 and into 2013.
"There is often confusion when interpreting estimates of PV system prices," NREL Solar Technology Financial Analyst David Feldman said. "This report helps to clarify this confusion by bringing together data from a number of different sources and clearly distinguishing among past, current and near-term projected estimates."
The report indicates that while data sources, assumptions, and methods differ substantially between the bottom-up analysis and the reported price analysis, the results support the validity of both analyses and provide a consistent perspective on system pricing.
The report draws on several ongoing NREL research activities, including detailed component level benchmarking of recent PV system prices, based on NREL's detailed bottom-up engineering model of PV system costs, and NREL's ongoing tracking of near-term projections of system- and component-level pricing from various analysts and manufacturers. The report also summarizes findings on historical price trends from LBL's Tracking the Sun V report.
"These soft costs present significant opportunities for further cost reductions and labor-productivity gains," NREL Solar Technology Markets and Policy Analyst Kristen Ardani said. "Benchmarking and tracking these costs will help with the development of policies and practices aimed at reducing cost inefficiencies."
Both reports were produced as part of an ongoing collaborative research effort between the two labs focused on solar technology soft cost and system-level cost analysis and modeling. This research is supported by funding from the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit http://www.lbl.gov.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
Republished from the NREL website.
NREL Teams with Berkeley Lab to Analyze Solar Pricing Trends and Benchmark "Soft" Costs for PV Systems was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:39 PM PST
1st EVSI Solar Tree Installations Will Be At California GM Dealership: GM hasn't been hiding it — it has taken a liking to solar power. As yet another indication of that, it's been announced that Envision Solar International's "Solar Tree" will see its first installation at a GM dealership in California, the Fremont Cadillac Buick GMC dealership.
82 MW Of Solar Power Plants On 17 Sites In Japan (FTW!): “Japan is the next Germany (when it comes to solar). Its generous feed-in tariff for solar power is sparking a solar boom, and we can only hope that will inspire more countries to follow suit…. News of one major solar development in Japan popped up this week that I think is worth a bit of gawking. ORIX Corporation, which bills itself as ‘a leading integrated financial services group’ announced that it is going to develop ‘large-scale solar power plants (mega-solar) at 17 sites across Japan with a combined maximum output of 81.6 MW (81,600kW).’”
Former Airport To Be Covered In Solar In Japan: “I just wrote about ORIX Corporation's whopping 82 MW of solar power plants under development in Japan (thanks to Japan's generous solar feed-in tariff). One notable project (of the 17) is this project on a former airport site.”
Solar Chargers: A Camping Must-Have Also Helps During Hurricane Sandy: “Although the weather outside can be a little chilly to consider camping, the holiday season is a fabulous time to equip the eco-conscious campers in your life. And nothing is hotter this holiday season than solar lights and solar phone chargers.”
NREL Announces “Policy Stacking” Report and Webinar: “A recent analysis of state policies reveals that the sequence of policy implementation can accelerate solar PV markets—and that policy change doesn’t have to be costly…. Learn about these findings in a 1-hour webinar on Dec. 5 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. MST featuring report author Elizabeth Doris, senior project leader for technical assistance and state and local policy at NREL.”
EU may consider German EEG “state aid”: “It would be a complete about-face – the European commission has told Angela Merkel’s coalition that it now considers the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to be state aid, not because of the feed-in tariffs, but because of the massively expanded privileges for industry.” (Also see: Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) Compliant with EU State Aid Rules?)
Expanded Availability Announced for DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles: “The Dow Chemical Company has released good news for solar shingle enthusiasts today. The company will expand availability of its solar shingle line, a residential roofing system that protects homes like standard shingles that contain embedded solar cells.”
Yingli Solar Provides Modules For 24 MW Puerto Rico Project: “Chinese manufacturer Yingli Solar has provided around 110,000 modules for the Ilumina 24 MW solar plant in Puerto Rico.” (Note: we wrote about this project in October.)
India To Auction 1650 MW Of Solar PV Capacity In 2013 Under Phase II Of JNNSM: “The Indian government has announced a new form of financing mechanism for the solar power projects to be implemented in the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). Apart from the currently available mechanisms of bundling and generation-based incentive, the government will auction projects under ‘Viability Gap Funding’ scheme as well.”
SolarCity IPO Launches This Week: “The SolarCity IPO is scheduled for this week, according to Dan Primack of Fortune. SolarCity hopes to sell 10 million shares of its stock at $13 to $15 per share in its maiden offering. A total of 65,012 shares are to be sold by stockholders. SolarCity’s plans to raise $201M have been pulled back — the firm now looks to raise approximately $151 million, according to this filing with the SEC.”
First Solar To Supply 2 MW Of Advanced Thin-Film Modules For China Project: “First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR) has completed an agreement with Zhenfa New Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd. to supply 2 megawatts (MW) of First Solar’s advanced thin-film solar modules to one of Zhenfa’s approved solar projects in Xinjiang province in the first quarter of 2013. The collaboration will create First Solar’s first commercial demonstration project in China and provide a strong platform to showcase the company’s state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) technology.”
A Roundup Of PV In Q3: “At the beginning of December, a number of countries published installation statistics for the third quarter of 2012 or for the first 10 months. Germany continues to roar on towards a new record for the year, and there was also significant movement in other countries.”
Californians Encouraged to Take Advantage of Significant Increase in Solar Water Heating Rebates: “The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved an increase in rebates offered through the California Solar Initiative (CSI)-Thermal Program of up to 45 percent. The CPUC authorized the higher rebates to help boost early adoption of solar water heating technology and encourage involvement in the statewide program.”
Blue Oak Energy Completes Construction of Arizona's Largest Rooftop Solar Electric System at First Solar Facility: “Blue Oak Energy today announced that it has installed Arizona's largest rooftop solar system. The 4.1 megawatt solar rooftop system is located at First Solar's facility in Mesa and is expected to begin operation by year end.”
GE, MetLife and Union Bank Invest Nearly $247 Million in Wind Capital Group's Kansas Wind Farm Powered by GE Turbines: “A group comprising GE, GE Energy Financial Services, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and Union Bank, N.A., has invested nearly $247 million in Wind Capital Group's recently commissioned 201-megawatt Post Rock wind farm. Wind Capital Group, supported by its parent company, NTR plc, maintains a substantial equity stake and serves as managing member of the project, located 80 miles outside Wichita, Kansas, in Ellsworth and Lincoln Counties.”
Gamesa To Supply 49.3 MW Of Wind Turbines To Guangdong Nuclear Group In China: “Gamesa, a global technology leader in wind energy, has signed a deal to supply 49.3 MW of capacity (58 of its 850 kW wind turbines) to China Guangdong Nuclear Wind Energy Limited for the wind farm located in Shandong Province, in China. The wind farm is under construction and is expected to be connected to the grid at the end of this year.”
Blow Out The Candles: Australia's Oldest Wind Turbine Turns 25: “November might have been a milestone month for solar, with cumulative PV installations reaching 2GW, but it also marked a reasonably big milestone for wind: 25 years since the Breamlea Wind Turbine, near Geelong in Victoria, was commissioned.” The turbine is still running strong.
Clean Power (In General)
Ron Pernick On How America Can Lead In Cleantech: 'The Challenge Is How To Deploy, Not Just Invent': “What did it feel like to publish a book on the future of cleantech in the U.S. just as the sector became a target in national politics?
"’It was pretty tense there for a while. We were holding our breath,’ says Ron Pernick, managing director of the market research firm Clean Edge and co-author of the new book, Cleantech Nation.
“Forget about selling books. This is an industry that Pernick, along with his co-author and Clean Edge co-founder Clint Wilder, lives and breathes. And for people who've watched the industry grow from lab-scale tinkering to a full-on industrial powerhouse, the vicious attacks were, well, insulting.”
Will India Surge Ahead Of The West In Renewable Energy?: “This August, power shortages in India that left 300 million in the dark made it very clear that one of the world's fastest growing economies was facing an energy crisis. Less clear is how realistically to solve it. Many firms are looking for new sources of oil to fulfill India's growing energy demands, but this could prove to be painfully expensive. On the brighter side, solar energy and other renewable resources are already being rapidly harnessed in the non-Western world, and they are becoming cheaper and cheaper.”
Insight: How Communities Can Take Lead In Green Energy: “This is the second in a series looking more deeply into issues which affect the development of the clean energy industry in Australia. The first was on the 2kms set-back rule imposed by the Victorian government and at least partially adopted in NSW.”
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 09:02 AM PST
In the past couple of weeks, we have seen strong affirmation of support for renewable energy in the UK and China. What will the new Obama Administration do to keep up?
In the UK, greater clarity emerged on how Feed in Tariffs with Contracts for Difference (CfDs) will work to give firm prices to developers of wind and other renewable energy generators. Billions of pounds sterling have been set aside to make sure that the Gigawatts of planned generation (much of it in Offshore Wind) actually get built.
Meanwhile, in China, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are now set to take center stage as top Politburo Standing Committee members. Mr. Li in particular is expected to have a great deal of influence over China's energy policies, and renewable energy advocates have confidence in his leadership. RECharge News quoted Jessica Ng, analyst at BNEF, "As vice-chairman, Li has already had significant influence on the country's energy policy so there will unlikely be major policy shifts. However there is speculation that Li may be more ambitious on clean energy and climate change."
Much of the innovation in wind, solar and other renewables – going back to the 1980s – has been done in the US, but the markets have moved to Europe and Asia. Nearly half the world's new wind turbines this year will be erected in China alone. By contrast, the US wind industry expects to comprise less than 10% of the world market in the coming five years.
Of innovation going on now, the lion's share of today's startups have emerged and been venture-funded by groups in the US, especially California and Massachusetts. Yet the US government's on-again/off-again policy – the wind Production Tax Credit that has lapsed three times, and is in danger of disappearing again in a month's time – has scared away investors, forcing many of the startups to look abroad for sales and partners who can take them beyond the venture capital stage.
So what can the Obama Administration do to support renewables?First, maintain the strong support of innovation that has been in place through the DOE, for example the ARPA-E and SBIR programs.
Second, continue the strong mandates for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the US Military.
Third, make sure that the Wind PTC gets renewed as part of the annual "tax extenders package." The wind industry is prepared for a "phase-out" of the incentive over several years, but it needs to be in place for 2013, or we will go over our own "fiscal cliff" – the US wind industry will grind to a halt as developers focus elsewhere (e.g., Canada and Latin America), and 37,000 jobs will be lost by New Year's Day (click here to read more about the impact of the PTC on the wind industry).
(One could also ask that polluting forms of energy – fossil fuels – be finally relieved of the completely unjustified subsidies they have been receiving for a century or more … but perhaps that would be asking for the impossible.)
Fourth, as part of a comprehensive package on electrical infrastructure, we need legislation that will help build transmission infrastructure. Some of this can be and will be done by the states, but backbone infrastructure is inherently interstate, and should be thought of as similar to the Interstate Highway System. If the Federal Government has jurisdiction over I-80 from coast to coast, then it surely must have jurisdiction over the power lines running alongside this road. The building of such modernized grid infrastructure will be a boon for jobs in the short term, and renewable energy in the medium-term, because one of the main obstacles to reaching "20% Wind Energy by 2030" (as outlined in the Bush-era report from the DOE) is insufficient transmission.
Fifth, we need to continue to deal with polluting forms of energy, notably coal, where several older plants will need to finally shut down after 50+ years of operation. The EPA has been doing a good job under Obama of progressing the laws that in some cases have been in place for over a decade, but just never quite got implemented.
But we also need new legislation that addresses the health impact of coal. A Harvard Medical School report recently estimated the health cost of coal at 18 cents/kWh – this is three times the cost of wind energy (click here to read the report)! So the next time you hear "coal is cheap," say "coal is not cheap for the kids in cities with asthma."
The health care costs are not borne by the coal industry or the electric utilities that burn coal. If they had to bear these costs, no one would ever build another coal plant in this country.
Finally, carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases or GHGs) are also a form of pollution. The country has been in deep denial about Climate Change for about a decade, but there are signs – based in part on the extreme weather events that we have been experiencing in the Northeast (Hurricane Sandy) and the Midwest (100-year droughts) – that public opinion is shifting. The Obama Administration should take advantage of this momentum, crystallized by statements from New York's Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, and propose legislation defining GHGs as pollution. This public dialogue will bring out the facts and the fantasies of the Climate Change "debate," and once the American people see what that really looks like, they will be happy to levy taxes on the polluters – possibly using these proceeds to fund the Wind PTC and other incentive programs for clean energy.
If the new Obama Administration acts quickly and decisively, there is still time for the US to take its place among the global leaders in clean energy. But with Europe and China pressing forward as quickly as they are, time is running short.
-Chris Varrone and the Riverview Consulting Team
5 Things Obama Administration Needs To Do To Remain A Renewable Energy Leader was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:50 AM PST
The new hybrid material appears as “forests of carbon nanotubes that rise quickly from sheets of graphene to astounding lengths of up to 120 microns. A house on an average plot with the same aspect ratio would rise into space.”
What this means, is that the material has an enormous amount of surface area, which is the primary factor in creating things like energy-storing supercapacitors.
The hybrid is a simple combination of a two-dimensional sheet of graphene with nanotubes, into a seamless three-dimensional structure. The seamless bond is created by the sharing of the electrons of the adjacent carbon atoms in the two materials. This essentially fuses them into one material.
“Many people have tried to attach nanotubes to a metal electrode and it’s never gone very well because they get a little electronic barrier right at the interface,” James Tour, Rice University chemist, and lead researcher on the study, said. “By growing graphene on metal (in this case copper) and then growing nanotubes from the graphene, the electrical contact between the nanotubes and the metal electrode is ohmic. That means electrons see no difference, because it’s all one seamless material.”
“This gives us, effectively, a very high surface area of more than 2,000 square meters per gram of material. It’s a huge number,” said Tour, Rice’s T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science.
According to the researchers, the proof of the material’s hybrid nature are the seven-membered rings located at the point where graphene becomes a nanotube. These rings were predicted in the theoretical description of such a material.
This combination has enormous potential for uses in a variety of different energy storage technologies.
Source: Rice University
Graphene Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Created, A Seamless 3-D Material For Energy Storage & Electronics was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:45 AM PST
The Bureau of Energy said that the cuts were in response to the continually decreasing costs of solar panel module manufacturing.
“The Bureau has set the tariffs for the first half of next year at NT$8.4 (US$0.2887) per kWh for rooftop solar energy a capacity below 10kW, NT$7.54 (US$0.2591) for between 10kW and 100kW, NT$7.12 (US$0.2447) for 100kW to 500kW, NT$6.33 (US$0.2175) for 500kW and above and NT$5.98 (US$0.2055) for ground-based installations,” PV-Tech writes.
“The new tariffs for the first half of next year are still higher than the average cost of NT$2.47 (US$0.0849) per kWh generated by Taipower, Taiwan Cogeneration Corp and independent power producers (IPPs) using fossil fuels such as coal and oil.”
According to the Senior Specialist at the bureau's energy technology division, Tseng-tsai, the increased solar capacity target will lead to increased research and development by manufacturers. And it should also lead to new job opportunities in the related industries of engineering, architecture, and steel.
“[T]his could increase the total solar panel production value from NT$11.6 billion (US$399 million) this year to NT$13.2 billion next year,” Tseng said.
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:38 AM PST
More Solar Panels Can’t Be A Bad Thing, Right?
The Chinese government has set a goal of 5 GW of distributed PV power generation per year, which it hopes to meet by 2016. Meeting this goal would accelerate market growth and reduce energy consumption and cost considerably. However, a number of factors stand in the way.
European investigations against Chinese PV manufacturers regarding dumping and subsidies are one factor. Another issue that has cropped up is a number of quality-related problems, and yet another is delays in starting construction of projects that have already been approved. In all cases, project developers are trying to start out as cheaply as possible.
But How To Get Them…
A potential solution — or at least a way to get the market on track for growth — is to offer performance-based rebates. Distributed PV-generated electricity is already cheaper in most areas of China than both industrial and commercial prices, and a performance rebate could increase that competitiveness.
This is projected to boost distributed growth considerably. “The growth rate of distributed PV power generation in China during 2013 is projected to exceed 90% and to continue over the next few years. In fact, the pipeline of projects within the Golden Sun program and Solar Rooftop programs will contribute more than 2.5 GW during 2013. Under this forecast scenario, the market share for distributed PV power generation would exceed 35% during 2013.”
Overall, China’s PV market is poised for staggering growth — but whether or not it actually achieves that growth seems to depend on whether or not it can make a decent product and then not bury it in red tape.
China’s New Distributed Solar PV Policies To Boost Distributed Solar To 35% Market Share, Report Finds was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:25 AM PST
The two utility-scale projects, slated for the Limpopo province, will have a combined power capacity of 58 megawatts (MW) AC, (28 MW AC in Soutpan Solar Park; 30 MW AC in the Witkop Solar Park). They will be the first utility-scale projects in the province and will receive further financial backing from Future Growth Asset Management and Standard Bank.
South African Utility Eskom will buy the power, thanks to a 20-year Purchase Power Agreement (PPA).
Construction for both projects will start in the beginning of 2013, with the Witkop Solar Park expected to be up and running by April, 2014, and Soutpan by January 2014.
Meanwhile, when both projects are fully operational, they will be watched by SunEdison’s Renewable Operation's Center (ROC), using the SunEdison Environmental Energy Data System to track the solar farm’s performance against its production.
Officials are keen the new solar farms will help boost South Africa's renewable energy capacity.
"As a world leader in renewable energy, we understand our projects have a transformational impact on the lives of millions of people. We are delighted that our investments in South Africa will create employment and stimulate business investment," said SunEdison Vice President and Managing Director for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa Pashupathy Gopalan.
"The energy delivered by these projects will sustain economic growth bringing both social and fiscal benefits. We are committed to this region and will continue to build our local team moving forward," he said.
“We applaud the efforts of government and other involved parties to ensure the economic benefits are spread as widely as possible within a sound legal framework. We are particularly delighted to partner with SunEdison and the Chint Group, in a mutually beneficial relationship that will bring upliftment to the area," said Futuregrowth portfolio manager Mei-Chi Liou.
SunEdison Boosting South African Solar With Two New Solar Projects was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:47 AM PST
The report, “How the UK national media treats renewables,” looked at the country’s five most widely circulated newspapers throughout July of 2012. In the end, the researchers looked at 138 articles from across The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times.
The report made it clear that the renewable industry in the UK must make a concerted effort to increases its positive media if the industry is to continue growing.
This report does not necessarily indicate a national shift away from renewable energy. It was only a month ago that YouGov released an opinion poll that showed a clear majority of the British public want the government to use more solar and wind power.
Only 21 percent of the national newspapers articles covering renewable energy are positive, however, and spokespeople from the industry are only quoted in ten percent of articles.
More than 50 percent of the articles were found to portray the industry negatively.
"Right when the renewables industry should be seeing rapid growth, it's in the centre of a communications crisis with the media holding one arm behind its back,” Charlotte Webster, Head of CleanTech at CCgroup, said.
"I'd advise that organisations in the renewables space regain control and make themselves available to media by investing in communications, particularly with the trade press,” Webster continued. “Tuning into talking and telling stories of innovation and growth will help strengthen the industry and increase the visibility of positive stories and facts in the media as a whole. What's clear is that investment really is needed to turn this picture around."
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:43 AM PST
About 50% of all new wind power installations for South and Central America were in Brazil for 2010 and 2011. One reason for the wind installation increase is alluring financing created by BNDES, the national development organization. The Brazilian Development Bank has been operating since 1952 to grow the country’s infrastructure and to support industry. For example, it has also helped finance ethanol production. About 50% of Brazil’s energy came from hydroelectricity or other renewables in 2010.
The Brazilian Wind Energy Conference in April of 2013 will cover current and future goals for Brazil’s aggressive push for renewable energy. The Brazil Solar Energy Conference will take place at the same time.
Image Credit: Public Domain
Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:39 AM PST
Prof. Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences and head of the Porter School of Environmental Studies along with graduate student Olga Shvainshteinand and Dr. Pavel Kishcha turned to NASA satellites MODIS-Terra, MODIS-Aqua, and MISR to accurately analyse the level of pollution over 189 megacities.
The megacities are qualified as cities with populations exceeding 2 million, though 58 of these cities actually have populations exceeding 5 million people.
The data gathered from the three NASA satellites provides an accurate survey of aerosol concentrations a few hundred metres above the Earth, sort of like the traditinal Jewish idea of the three-judge panel, according to Professor Alpert.
“In the Jewish tradition, individual judges don’t decide cases. There must be a minimum of three. You need a majority opinion,” he says. “By merging the data from three imperfect sensors, their flaws are mostly counterbalanced. In cases where the three sensors show differing signs of pollution levels, more research is required.”
In their study, which was published in the American Journal of Climate Change, Alpert and colleagues found that Northeast China, India, the Middle East, and Central Africa are currently leading in pollution increase, including Bangalore, India, with a 34 percent average increase in aerosol concentration between 2002 and 2010.
The data also showed that some American cities like Portland and Seattle were among those cities which saw increases in pollution levels, but Professor Alpert believes this is a result of the satellites detecting the results of the wildfires that had plagued the region over the period examined. He hopes in the future to develop a method for separating natural causes of pollution from man-made pollutants.
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