Monday, January 7, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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SolarCity Ends Solid 2012 With More Installations, Hundreds Of New Jobs

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 06:23 PM PST

 
One way you could tell where a market is headed is by looking at how well a top company in the industry is doing. That is no exception for the solar industry in 2012. Thus, SolarCity is a great company to take a look at to reflect on the solar industry today. The standout conclusion is that falling solar panel manufacturing prices have helped to boost solar installers.

Image Credit: Solar City Car via WikiCommons (some rights reserved)

On Thursday, the company released its total installation figures for 2012, the first since the company went public in December.

The company said it installed a total of 156 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in the 2012 fiscal year, and 47 MW in the fourth quarter of 2012. SolarCity originally expected 146 MW would be installed in 2012.

When breaking down the data, residential installations made up most of the deployment, with 85 MW in the entire fiscal year, and 30 MW in the fourth quarter. Commercial installations made up 71 MW of the156 MW for the year, while 17 MW were completed in the fourth quarter.

US Solar Power Growth

The numbers confirm yet again that solar installations across the US have continued to grow. As previously reported, US solar installation capacity was 44% greater in the third quarter of 2012 than the third quarter of 2011, with a total of 644 MW coming on line.

Much of the increase in installations is thanks to the downturn in manufacturing costs, which is helping to advance demand, Joe Bono of Solar Universe noted to CleanTechnica during a pre-holiday telephone interview.

He said that the turbulence in the upstream (manufacturing) part of the solar industry through lower panel costs has been beneficial to consumer demand.

Increased Solar Panel Installations = More SolarCity Jobs

Of course, SolarCity is not only growing its revenue from the increasing number of installations, but also creating jobs. Just in December, the company hired 166 new employees, boosting its total count to 2,516 employees.

Its active recruitment of employees has not gone unnoticed. It finished 10th in Inc. Magazine's Hire Power awards, hiring 989 employees within a three-year span. These awards honor the companies which are helping to put people back to work, while helping to restore faith in the US economy. SolarCity topped the energy sector in the awards list, which information technology (IT) and Internet-based companies dominate.

These recent employment numbers and accolades are in line with the expanding solar industry. The US Solar Foundation's 2012 Job Census report recently noted a 13.2% increase in solar jobs, totaling 119,012 at the time. The report also expects an influx of 20,000 new workers, or a 17.2% increase, in 2013.

Earlier this year, SolarCity expanded its Eastern US base by expanding in New York.

While 2012 was a good year for SolarCity, it was not without some glitches. Its IPO was originally supposed to be released by October 2012. However, it was delayed due to unforeseen instances such as Hurricane Sandy. Then, in November, it announced the share price would be around $13-$15 a share and released near the holiday season. However, for various reasons, the IPO was released at $8 a share in early December.

Not only was the IPO delayed, but the US Treasury has been investigating SolarCity and other solar leasing companies due to allegations that they have been taking advantage of customers via incorrect rates for "fair market value” pricing.

Despite these concerns, shares now sit at $14.40 as of January 5, within the original pricing range. CEO Lydon Rive expects the company to be in a positive cash flow by the end of 2013, according to a December interview.

2013: The Year Ahead for SolarCity

The question remains: will SolarCity continue its solid pace in installation and employment growth in 2013? Or will skeletons in the closet catch up with it?

Bono expects continued strong demand within the solar industry for installers, thanks to the continued downward trend in prices, albeit not as aggressively like this year. This should still benefit SolarCity, barring any surprises.

"2013 will be the year of buyers," he said.

2013 will be no doubt an exciting year for SolarCity. Expect the company to continue seeing installation and job growth, and just perhaps some positive cash flow.

Main Sources: GreenTech Media / SEC

SolarCity Ends Solid 2012 With More Installations, Hundreds Of New Jobs was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Fiat 500e EV Receives 116 MPGe Rating From EPA; Stacks Up Well Against Other EVs

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 05:13 PM PST

 
The Fiat 500e has just received a rating of 116 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), ranking third highest for US electric vehicles (EVs) by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Released at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 500e can get up to 108 MPGe on the highway and 122 MPGe in the city, Reuters notes. Fiat's new entry into the EV market can also get 87 miles on a fully charged battery.

Comparing other EVs in terms of overall MPGe, only the 2013 Scion IQ EV (121 MPGe) and Honda Fit EV (118 MPGe) had higher combined MPGe rankings than the 500e, according to the US EPA.

Fiat's new car beats the Ford Fusion Energi (108 MPGe), Ford C-Max Energi (100 MPGe), and even Tesla's Model S (95 MPGe — 60 kWh battery) and (89 MPGe — 85 kWh battery).

The results are pretty impressive for the Italy-based company’s entry into the EV market.

EPA’s Fuel Efficiency Rating For EVs

The US Environmental Protection Agency came out with its formula for fuel efficiency for EVs in November 2010. The formula considers 1 gallon of gasoline equal to 33.7 kWh of electricity. The Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt were the first two EVs to receive MPGe ratings. The combined ranking consists of 55% city and 45% highway MPGe.

Fiat vs Auto Giants

Facing stiff competition in the EV market — with the likes of Nissan, General Motors, and Ford already having a solid stake in the ground — Fiat will need to hit the ground running and to gain some market share. However, with Chrysler a co-owner, and a strong MPGe ranking for the 500e, there is definitely room to maneuver for Fiat in the infant EV battleground.

 

 

Fiat 500e EV Receives 116 MPGe Rating From EPA; Stacks Up Well Against Other EVs was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

94% Renewable Electricity By 2017 Is Goal For Nicaragua

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 04:31 PM PST

 
Nicaragua has one of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the world — it intends to have 94% of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2017. The spark for this new energy push was an energy crisis due to a heavy reliance on foreign oil. Reducing this over-reliance from 70% to 6% could be made possible by renewable energy infrastructure development.

Mombacho.jpg

Image Credit: KEITH, Wiki Commons

While these goals may seem unachievable in a poor country with technological challenges, there are only about six million people living there, and a single, very large hydroelectric plant could go a long way toward providing clean energy. The Tumarin project will cost about $1.1 billion and has a 253-megawatt capacity. It should be completed by 2016 and could provide about 50% of the country’s electricity.

The Amayo I and II wind farms are producing about 63 megawatts, and a 72 MW geothermal project — the San Jacinto-Tizate — could become operational by 2014. Bagasse already supplies a small percentage of their total power, and solar is also an option.

The switch from fossil fuels to renewables could move Nicaragua from one of the most oil-dependent nations to one of the least in a very short time. “You must recall that this is taking place in the second-poorest country in Latin America  and amid the worst financial, economic social and increasingly political crisis of world capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930s," said Nicaraguan presidential advisor Paul Oquist.

Often, because the largest nations are perceived as being more important, news about them gets the most attention, and some of them struggle to make significant changes quickly. As a result, there is too much skepticism — even cynicism — about the viability of renewable energy. Green energy is not just another fad, though. If Nicaragua gets to 94% renewable electricity by 2017, it will become an inarguable example of success, not just environmentally, but also economically — because a significant portion of its GDP will no longer be spent on foreign oil.

Nicaragua Would Join a Long List of Countries Powered by Renewable Energy

Editor’s note: coincidentally, I just ran across a wonderful list of 45 countries that already get 60% or more of their electricity from renewable energy. The compilation was put together by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz, using data from the CO2scorecard site. Here’s the full list (countries in bold get 95% or more of their electricity from renewable energy):

Albania (100% hydro in 2008).

Angola (96.45% hydro in 2008)

Austria (73.86% renewable in 2009, 12.5% of that non hydro)

Belize (90.91% hydro in 2008)

Bhutan (99.86% hydro in 2008)

Brazil (88.88% renewable with 4.93 non hydro in 2009)

Burundi (100% hydro in 2008)

Cameroon (77.31% hydro in 2008)

Canada (61.95% renewable, with 1.86% non hydro in 2009)

Central African Republic (81.25% renewable in 2008)

Columbia (85.67% hydro in 2008)

Congo (82.22% renewable in 2008)

Costa Rica (93.11% renewable in 2008)

DPR Korea (61.86%  hydro in 2008)

DR Congo (99.46% hydro in 2008)

Ecuador (64.12% renewable in 2008, with 2.21% non hydro)

El Salvador (62.24% renewable in 2008, with 26.92 non hydro)

Ethiopia (88.17% renewable in 2008, with 0.27% non hydro)

Fiji (68.04% renewable in 2008)

Georgia (85.52% hydro in 2008)

Ghana (75.03% hydro in 2008)

Guatemala (61.31% renewable, with 17.5 non hydro in 2008)

Iceland (100% renewable, with 26.27% geothermal in 2009).

Kenya (62.59% renewable, with 21.06% non hydro in 2008)

Kyrgyzstan (90.85% hydro in 2008)

Lao PDR (92.46% hydro in 2008)

Latvia (62.23% renewable with 1.96% non hydro in 2008)

Lesotho (100% hydro in 2008)

Madagascar (66.67% hydro in 2008)

Malawi (86.31% hydro in 2008)

Mozambique (99.87% hydro in 2008)

Myanmar (62.05% hydro in 2008)

Namibia (70.91% hydro in 2008)

Nepal (99.67% hydro in 2008)

New Zealand (72.52% renewable, including 15.42% non hydro in 2009)

Norway (97.11% renewable, including 0.93% non hydro in 2009)

Paraguay (100.00% hydro in 2008), exporting 90% of generated electricity (54.91 TWh in 2008)

Peru (60.53% renewable, including 1.47% non hydro in 2008)

Sweden (60.42% renewable, including 10.58% non hydro in 2009)

Tajikistan (98.25% hydro in 2008)

Tanzania (61.45% hydro in 2008)

Uganda (74.77% hydro in 2008)

Uruguay (61.98% renewable, with 9.33 non hydro in 2008)

Venezuela (69.57% hydro in 2008)

Zambia (99.69% hydro in 2008)

94% Renewable Electricity By 2017 Is Goal For Nicaragua was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Electric Renault Used For Self-Drive Tours

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 03:56 PM PST

 
Self-drive tours, an alternative to organized bus tours, seem to be a growing trend. Of course, self-drive tours are going to cost a bit more than a bus tour, but low-cost EVs can certainly help to keep the cost down.

Self-drive tours in the Renault Twizy enable you to drive on very narrow roads, and very quietly.

You won’t be able to sit back and relax like you would on a bus tour while someone drives you around (unless you’re in the passenger seat). However, you can choose where you want to go.

ToGuide, a Portugese company, is offering this service to tour Europe, Autoblog Green report. It’s using the Renault Twizy quadricycle, which is outfitted with a GPS and audio guide.

Electric Renault Used For Self-Drive Tours was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

China Approves Subsidies For Rooftop Solar Projects

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 03:48 PM PST

 
According to China Daily, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the Chinese government has renewed subsidies for rooftop solar panel installations.

Image Credit: Xu Wanglin/ChinaFotoPress

Bloomberg.com writes: ”Subsidies will range from 7.5 yuan ($1.2) to 9 yuan per watt, totaling 1.82 billion yuan for a batch of 126 approved projects.”

As opposed to China’s production-side subsidies for solar panel companies, which have been successfully contested as breaking world trade agreements, these government subsidies for solar installations are simply meant to encourage Chinese citizens and companies interested in solar systems to go ahead and buy them — by promising them the ability to pay a lower price for them.

China’s solar industry has been growing, and the country has been developing overall. The large and growing population needs more electricity than ever, and the use of abundant and inexhaustible sources of energy is a good way to meet growing electricity demand in the long run.

China Approves Subsidies For Rooftop Solar Projects was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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