January 2011


Solar power is gaining traction in Tennessee – and a major solar-module producer has even established a factory in the state.

This week, the Tennessee Valley Authority – one of the Southeast’s largest energy producers – announced that it is rolling out a network of solar-powered electric-car charging stations. The stations were designed in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit company devoted to researching electricity consumption and improving electrical devices’ energy efficiency.

The first charging stations will be installed at the EPRI’s facility in Knoxville; as many as 125 of the systems will be put in place around east Tennessee over the next few years.

A station costs between $500,000 and $600,000 – but one station has enough chargers for six vehicles. Dubbed Smart Modal Area Recharge Terminals, the systems include 12 kilowatts of solar panels and an additional 5 kilowatt-hours of battery storage.

“We want to be the fuel that supplies electric cars,” TVA vice president Rudy Shankar told the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Not only will TVA’s project help keep Tennessee’s electric cars running – it will serve as a learning experience for both the utility and EPRI. Government energy researchers will also get an experiential education in using solar power to charge electric vehicles; the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is slated to be the second installation site.

The TVA charging-station initiative isn’t the only solar program to be making waves in the Volunteer State. Sharp Electronics Corp., one of the world’s largest solar-component producers, operates a module-production facility in Memphis – and the plant is getting a visit this week from Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Sharp chief executive Kozo Takahashi, in welcoming Chu, said January 26 that the Memphis plant was a perfect example of how solar energy can create jobs and bolster the American economy. “We have steadily increased output and job creation, making our factory a perfect venue to amplify President Obama’s top renewable energy priorities for the country,” Takahashi said.

Indeed, Sharp’s plant has roughly three times as many workers today – 450 – as it had when it opened in 2003.

From Oregon to California to New York, solar companies are building production facilities to meet the nation’s growing demand for solar modules. Tennessee, clearly, is benefiting from the trend, as well.

source: get solar

The proposed Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant will deploy the patented LPT 550 solar power generating system supplied by BrightSource Energy. The projected system will incorporate thousands of small mirrors known as heliostats to reflect back the sunlight over a boiler kept at the top of a tower to generate high temperature steam. The generated steam is pumped into a normally used turbine to produce electric power. To save water the generated steam is air-cooled and sent back into the system by utilizing an ecological friendly closed-loop technology. The dry-cooled technology deployed in the plant consumes 95% less water when compared to wet-cooled solar thermal systems.

According to Kevin Sara, Nur Energie’s founder and CEO, the partnership has chosen LPT 550 energy system supplied by BrightSource for its peak performance, easy to customize type of facilities and its ecologically friendly design. He said that on completion the plant will remain as the sophisticated and largest CSP Plant in Europe.

source: azocleantech

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, Hua Ngoc Thuan participated in the inaugural ceremony in the Thieng Lieng-Can Gao island commune in Can Gio District.

The system has a capacity of 525 wp and was built at a cost of VND14.8 billion (US$ 7,600,000). It was sponsored by the Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation and the Duyen Hai (Can Gio) Power Company is the chief investor.

This power plant will benefit 172 local rural households out of the existing 204 households in the Thieng Lieng-Can Gao island commune.

Pham Quoc Bao, deputy head of HCMC Power Corporation said that solar power is considered the most effective, cheap and environment friendly way to generate electricity.

This was also the only viable solution to providing electricity to the island as workers could not drag electric lines across the island.

Huynh Cach Mang, Chairman of Can Gio’s People’s Committee said two villages of 170 households in the Thanh An island do not use electricity because they choose to live in the woods to protect the jungle.

Mr. Thuan said the city would invest in more electricity projects to supply power to remote and distant areas to improve the living conditions of the people. He also disclosed that the city plans to ask related agencies to invest in electricity projects to provide power for medical clinics and low populated areas in suburban districts like Binh Chanh, Hoc Mon and Cu Chi.

The city had approved on a solar power project to benefit residents of Thieng Lieng village on September 13, 2010 and the construction of which began early this year.

source: saigon

A north Worcestershire company has secured a £1.2m contract to install what they say is the UK’s biggest roof-top solar power plant.

Going Solar is fitting 2,200 photovoltaic panels onto a warehouse site the size of a football pitch.

They’ll power more than 100 homes in Ipswich, Suffolk.

Charles Houston, one of the directors of Going Solar: “It’s a great honour and a great feeling and certainly our biggest order to date.”

The firm’s latest project – due to start in February – is thought to be double that of the UK’s current largest roof-top solar power plant which powers Worthy Farm, the home of Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis.

Mr. Houston, a chartered surveyor by trade said: “It’s significant: 100 homes is obviously only a drop in the ocean compared to a city like Ipswich – everyone’s learning on the job as we go along for a project this size, the lawyers, bankers, developers and landlord who owns the roof of the building.

“It’s flagging up the fact that solar power is effective in the UK, particularly in the south.”

He set up Neem Sollars-based Going Solar in 2009 with Andy Perkins, who’s been fitting solar panels since 2002.

The company – currently a team of 12 – beat off a handful of others to secure the contract with a London-based renewable energy developer.

“I think it’s partly being small and partly being a relatively new company that works in our favour,” said Mr. Houston.

“With a contract of this kind, we’re hoping to treble the size of Going Solar and in turn expand the work we do across the Midlands and the rest of the UK.”

source: bbc

A landfill in DeKalb County, just north of Atlanta, is being converted from a simple hill of decaying garbage into an power-producing solar power farm, Fox News has learned.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of this new technology, particularly given the potential for landfills across the country,” said David Stuart of Georgia’s Republic Services.

An enhanced geo-membrane liner, which looks like a large green tarp, covers the surface of the landfill. The liner is then covered with lightweight solar panels that are about 15 inches wide, 18 feet long and only about a quarter of an inch thick.

“We expect to produce 1 MW of power from the landfill — equivalent to providing energy for 150 homes,” he said.

Once the project is complete, more than 10 acres of the landfill will be producing energy.

The installation of the membrane and the solar panels doesn’t disrupt the landfill’s normal process of breaking down garbage. Instead, it serves as a dual-purpose system that produces solar energy while capturing landfill gas for heating homes. A smaller test site was created in San Antonio but this is the largest project of its kind in the nation so far.

“This is unique in Georgia as it represents the first solar energy landfill project in the state and is nearly seven times the size of the project constructed in San Antonio,” Stuart said.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are about 100,000 closed landfills in the United States. Stuart estimates that hundreds of thousands of acres under those landfills could potentially use this technology to produce energy. Many of these sites are close to urban areas, he said, and have the necessary infrastructure to economically distribute the energy.

source: foxnews

The solar power farm sits on top of the city’s enclosed Sunset Reservoir – an area the size of twelve football fields. It’s a big solar farm for an urban area.

“What’s exciting about this project is also that we’re generating clean electricity that can be delivered right where it’s going to be used,” said Arno Harris. Harris is CEO of Recurrent Energy, the San Francisco company that built the array.

Harris says there’s a growing market for projects like this – what’s known as mid-scale solar. Traditionally, there are two kinds of solar projects: huge solar farms that cover hundreds of acres and small rooftop installations on houses. Both have run into problems.

“With those large projects, the size of the land that you need forces you to go out into pristine wilderness. What you run into is that they take a really long time to deliver and there are all sorts of ‘gotchas’ along the way,” says Harris.

Those “gotchas” have to do with a complex permitting process in California. Large solar farms go through a gauntlet of state and local agencies. It’s an even longer process if the land is home to sensitive species like desert tortoises.

With residential rooftops on the other hand, the problem is installation costs. “You got a lot of trips up the ladder and you’re not putting a lot of panels up there,” says Harris.

A mid-sized project, like the 5 MW array at Sunset Reservoir, avoids those problems. Installation costs are cheaper, thanks to economies of scale. And it’s able to obtain permits faster than a large solar farm.

“What we think really is the sweet spot is this place in the middle.”

That is, to Harris, the ideal solar project is a little like Goldilocks – not too big, not too small, just right.

Transmission Challenges

Julie Fitch of the California Public Utilities Commission agrees there’s a lot of potential in mid-scale solar. When the state first passed its goal of reaching 20% renewable energy by 2010, utilities raced to sign contracts.

“Most of the focus has been on those large, centralized plants – that also have implications for transmission because it takes a transmission line to deliver that large chunk of power to where people use it.”

Chris Johns, President of PG&E Co., says the transmission process can be very challenging. “Many of the projects are taking years and within that time frame, the construction piece is just a small percentage of that time.”

Mid-size solar projects avoid the need to build new transmission lines, says Johns, since they can often plug into existing power lines. PG&E will still need large-scale solar, he says, to meet the state’s renewable energy goals. But mid-size solar is on the rise, thanks also to falling prices on solar panels.

“Quite frankly, right now, the smaller scale stuff is a little more affordable.”

Julie Fitch says the CPUC has launched a program to develop 1000 megawatts of these smaller projects.

While a large renewable project can take five or six years, these projects will have an 18-month deadline to get online. “The idea is: if you’re not fast, your advantage is not as great as you’ve told us. So let’s try somebody else,” says Fitch.

Fitch says she’s hopeful these projects will help utilities reach the goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020. But mid-sized solar isn’t just for utilities.

source: kqed

Solar energy may be more attractive than oil-fueled power plants in the Middle East, suggesting governments should encourage sun power and preserve petroleum for export, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates would benefit more from selling their oil rather than using it to generate discounted electricity, the London-based analysis company said today in a statement. Falling costs of photovoltaic panels have made solar power a better option for domestic generation, it said.

“This exercise demonstrates the clear argument for large- scale deployment of PV in the Middle East region,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “The continued cost decline of PV will open up electricity markets in the Gulf extremely quickly.”

A 1,000-megawatt photovoltaic project built in the region in 2011 would generate a rate of return of 9.4 percent, assuming oil prices rise to $163 when adjusted for inflation in 2030, New Energy Finance said, using oil price projections from Standard Chartered Plc.

source: bloomberg

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