February 2011


The Indian government and Russia’s Rusnano are considering to form a joint venture to manufacture solar PV module-grade silicon ingots. The plan is to build a manufacturing facility in Russia where ingots will be produced and then exported to India.

While India has a number of solar PV module manufacturers, like Moser Baer, Tata BP Solar and IndoSolar, there are almost no producers of silicon ingots. Indian manufacturers import silicon ingots and then process them to manufacture solar modules. IndoSolar recently signed agreement $ 600 million with China’s GCL-Poly Energy Holdings to procure 209 million high-grade silicon wafers totaling 815 MW for the next four years.

Demand for solar energy equipment in India is likely to increase rapidly over the next decade. India has already launched the first phase of its ambitious National Solar Mission which aims at installing 20,000 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2022. During the first phase, which ends in 2013, installation of  500 MW capacity each of solar PV and solar thermal has been planned.

The Indian government has mandated state governments to source a set percentage of their power consumption from renewable energy sources. While the state governments have the power to decide that percentage, they must increase the share of renewable energy-based power by one percent every year till 2015. Some states with ample solar energy resources have set solar-specific targets as well.

The government has also launched a program to install solar panels on cellphone towers, advertising hoardings across the country which also represents significant solar energy capacity.

According to regulations, project developers participating in the National Solar Mission are mandated to use solar equipment and solar modules manufactured in India. Before the government unveiled solar energy policies, it was a normal practice for project developers to import solar modules. In order to promote domestic solar module sector, the government unveiled special incentives for module manufacturers. Several companies availed these incentives and set up massive production capacities anticipating rapid growth. But they still have to import silicon ingots from abroad.

The possible joint venture between Rusnano and the Indian government, could eventually help India set up indigenous facilities to produce high-grade silicon ingots which could reduce the overall cost of solar energy technologies helping them compete with conventional energy sources.

source: clecntechnica

Wisconsin’s first solar panel factory has opened in the Menomonee River Valley, on the site of stockyards that contributed to the city’s leadership in the meatpacking and processing industries more than 100 years ago.

Later this year, solar panels will go up on the roof of the building that replaced the stockyards, and the panels will be made downstairs in Steve Ostrenga’s factory.

Privately held Helios USA started making robots this month, using an automated production line to build high-efficiency solar panels. The goal: to help put an emerging, 21st-century industry on the map in the state.

That’s what excited Patrick Shaw of Cudahy about working at the plant, he said during a recent tour of the W. Canal St. factory.

“I wanted to get into the green field,” said Shaw, a former Marine. “All you hear about is how that’s up and coming.” Then he attended a veterans job fair where Helios was recruiting employees.

“Six months later, here I am,” Shaw said.

Production started this month after five weeks of 12-hour days getting the first manufacturing line ready.

Workers installed robots that largely automate the manufacturing process and began test production earlier this month. Finished panels sit in stacks in an area of the plant where future production lines are planned.

A ribbon-cutting at the plant is scheduled for Monday.

During the plant tour, Shaw showed pride in having helped set up the robots.

“They said people’s kids could name the robots,” Shaw said. Pointing to one hoisting a nearly complete panel, he added, “My 4-year-old named that one Buzz Lightyear.”

Shaw is one of 17 workers who, after working to open the plant, began operating its first production line two weeks ago. Ostrenga hopes to nearly triple employment by the end of the year.

Helios is backed by $1.3 million in venture capital raised by Successful Entrepreneur Investors, Silicon Pastures and others. Its startup in a nearly 40,000-square-foot space was supported with a $500,000 loan from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. and a $1 million low-interest stimulus package-backed loan from the state Department of Commerce.

Helios has a Wisconsin customer for its panels: Convergence Energy, which is building a solar project in Walworth County.

“They have two points of differentiation; one is a little bit higher power output per panel,” said Tom Martin, chief executive of Convergence. “There are other manufacturers who have that same power output but some don’t get quite as high per panel.”

The more kilowatts that are generated by each panel, the more power can be generated in a given project to bring down the payback period.

“Their manufacturing process is more confidence-inspiring to us than some of the other manufacturing processes we’ve looked at,” said Martin, who’s also an investor in Helios.

Ostrenga said he’s seeing global demand for Helios panels.

“We’ve got orders out of Europe and domestically,” he said. “Half of all the modules made in the United States were sold overseas last year.”

As for any other manufacturer, the potential market extends beyond the state’s borders, he said.

“People ask why would you open a solar panel company in Milwaukee if the market can’t support it? Well, if we had to just sell to Wisconsin we couldn’t support it. But Harley-Davidson isn’t supported by Wisconsin buyers – they’re supported by global customers.”

Ostrenga says there’s plenty of demand, noting the solar market doubled last year and has grown by 69% per year over the past decade – albeit from a low base.

“Name another industry, despite this economy, that just even grew last year,” he said.

One challenge, company general manager Brent Brucker said, is to tell companies that rejected solar as too costly several years ago that they need to take another look.

Panel prices have come down sharply in the past few years as global production has increased. Every time the price comes down, it helps improve the payback period for a company thinking about installing panels, he said.

“Every day you don’t feel like you’re trying to sell something to somebody,” Brucker said. “Number one, they want it, they know they want it, they’re excited about it and they’re trying to make it happen, and that’s a good feeling.”

Given that solar still accounts for just 1% of U.S. energy consumption, there’s plenty of room for growth, he said.

Ostrenga and Brucker, who met in business school in Austin, Texas, are not only trying to produce and sell panels but also to become ambassadors for an emerging green field.

In business school they found a kinship that set them apart from fellow students who were headed for banking and finance jobs.

“We don’t like pushing paper around. We like the idea of making something,” said Brucker. “You don’t get that many opportunities to step out and do something that you believe in unequivocally. I never get tired.”

source: jsonline

The time for solar power in Oklahoma is coming.

With that in mind, High Plains Technology Center is offering classes for state contractors to learn the fundamentals of solar technology at its Integrated Energy Training Center.

Bronson Ellis, the center’s energy and safety training coordinator, said High Plains put two groups of contractors through two-day classes on solar power after a Feb. 14 open house to introduce the new program.

Ellis said the free classes were an effort to boost the profile of solar energy.

“It’s just so new in Oklahoma,” he said. “There’s not a lot of solar going on.”

Ellis said High Plains’ early solar classes will focus on the basics, including the benefits of solar power and how to sell it.

He said classes will be offered as needed until more people become interested in the program.

“Our main goal is getting the knowledge out there, trying to create a market out there,” Ellis said.

Shawna McWaters-Khalousi, director of the state Commerce Department’s Oklahoma Project Green, said she expects the High Plains program to benefit the state.

McWaters-Khalousi said establishing a pool of trained workers could attract solar businesses to Oklahoma.

“That’s good for everybody,” she said.

McWaters-Khalousi said she is excited about the potential of the new solar program in Woodward, which she called a perfect fit with High Plains wind power curriculum.

“I can’t say enough good things about it,” she said. “It has such potential.”

She said continued technological innovations likely will make solar power affordable for more people, so Oklahoma needs to be in position to capitalize on another of its natural resources.

Oklahoma City Community College has had a solar technician training program since 2009 and East Central University in Ada is adding a solar program too.

Ellis said Oklahoma is a good place for solar power since the state averages up to six hours of peak sun a day.

The main stumbling block for solar now is cost.

Without any state incentives, Ellis said, it can cost about $20,000 to equip an average-sized home with photovoltaic panels capable of turning the sun’s rays into electricity.

He said solar cells can be a good alternative to generators in case of weather-related power outages.

The best option in Oklahoma right now may be solar-powered water pumps, which are easier to maintain than windmills, Ellis said.

Solar power also can be used in place of natural gas for heating household water, he said.

source: newsok

Thousand Oaks will not place solar panels outside the Newbury Park Library.

The City Council’s capital facilities committee—comprising Mayor Pro Tem Jacqui Irwin and Councilmember Dennis Gillette—decided Jan. 19 the city would not pursue the $1.2-million project.

Irwin said the committee nixed the proposal because the city had lost out on a $372,000 grant.

“For me it’s important that projects make fiscal sense. . . . I feel uncomfortable with a payoff period that long,” Irwin said on Wednesday. “After we missed out on the grant, we just decided that fiscally it just didn’t make sense any more.”

Gillette agreed.

“I personally I think there will be other opportunities,” he said, referring to other grants the city could be eligible for.

He added that the city is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels.

In November, the City Council gave the go-ahead for the installation of carport-mounted solar panels in the parking lot of the library on Borchard Road.

The city had counted on the $1.2-million cost being offset by $372,000 of funding from the California Solar Initiative—a rebate program sponsored by the Public Utilities Commission and managed through Southern California Edison.

At that funding level, the city expected its contribution to be $440,000. Energy savings would have paid for the solar panels in 15 years.

But the following month the city learned it was ineligible for $372,000 in funding because its rebate application was filed too late. The city asked Edison to extend the deadline, but the power company declined.

Around Dec. 23 the city submitted another grant application.

By that time the most the city could qualify for was about $200,000—at least $172,000 less than was originally anticipated.

That meant taxpayers would pick up the difference, paying $612,000 instead of $440,000, and the payback period would increase to 18 to 20 years.

Andrew Powers, the city’s public information officer, said the $400,000 in federal stimulus money that would have helped offset the solar panel project at the library will be split between two other proposed solar projects, one at the former city hall on Hillcrest Drive and the other at a city yard on Rancho Conejo Road.

source: toacorn

Rooftop solar energy thrives in the Southland. But efficiency measures play a large role in satisfying California consumers’ demand for power. Using renewable energy better is one way to sell more rooftop panels.

Dogs – and guys in green t-shirts – bang in and out of Lisa Dickerson’s house on a bright Palos Verdes hillside. The three mixed-breed mutts – “Squirt, Bailey and Oochiebella” – are always underfoot.

The guys are there to power her property with the sun. “I’ve always wanted to get solar panels,” Lisa Dickerson, a hair stylist who works in Manhattan Beach, says. “I looked into it a couple years ago it was soooo expensive, and I have the sun and a wide open spot, so why not?”

The company she chose, Solar City, lets homeowners lease rooftop systems. For her three-bedroom house, Dickerson would pay around 1$50 a month – less with a down payment. That system could save her the amount of her Southern California Edison bill most months.

Solar City also told Dickerson that they could help her use less energy at home. “They kind of offered that,” she says, “when they came to do the audit for the panels up on the roof, and I said sure, why not?”

The company’s Scott Lowery notes her home’s orientation to the sun, Craftsman construction, climate zone. He also asks Dickerson about her home energy habits.

“What temperature do you keep the house at?” Dickerson wrinkles her nose. “68 I think?” Lowery nods, and notes. “That sounds right.”

Energy efficiency audits cost homeowners who lease Solar City panels another $1,750 up front. (Dickerson took advantage of an initial promotion.) Scott Lowery says that like solar, energy-efficient homes prove their value over time. “What we’ve found is that homes are two to three times as leaky as they need to be, and if you’ve paid to heat or cool that air, that translates to a lot of energy savings if you save that,” says Lowery.

You hear three words a lot during an energy audit: “low-hanging fruit.” Lowery says efficiency is all about finding the fastest ways to reduce spending on energy.

Those aren’t as obvious as you’d think. “The window industry has done a really good job of marketing,” he points out. “When that’s definitely nowhere near the most cost effective step because windows are expensive. You can do a lot of stuff for a lot less.”

In a doorframe, Lowery sets a cover with a powerful fan. That fan will suck air out of Dickerson’s house in a blower door test. Higher-pressure air from outside will force its way in. “As we get this fan rolling, you’ll be able to feel light switches, under sinks, can lights, all kind of things that leak that you weren’t aware of.”

Plumbing and electric penetrations – where the service guy cuts out insulation for a pipe or a line – are where the money goes, Lowery says. His team plugs small holes with spray foam, then recommends and ranks more complicated fixes. “In terms of importance, it goes attic, walls, crawlspace,” Lowery says.

Helping people use less energy is good for business, says Jim Cahill, Solar City’s regional director. Investment banks help finance Solar City leases for home panel installations. Banks and consumers find that energy-efficient homes are better investments than leaky ones.”If you want to sell someone a large system, you can do that,” Cahill says. “But you may be paying them for a system that’s actually paying for inefficient use of power.”

In this state, an energy code known as Title 24 tries to prevent that from happening. Karen Douglas, chair of the California Energy Commission, says people in this state have collectively saved $56 billion in electricity and gas costs since those rules began three decades ago.

“Energy efficiency is a large shadowy part of our portfolio – it’s hard to see the energy you don’t use,” Douglas says. “But it’s helped us immensely.”

Douglas, and Solar City’s Scott Lowery, also concede that there’s a lot of variety in the way homes meet those standards – and that California’s system depends on aggressive, thorough inspections by well-trained people. “The funny thing is, the way that folks have built homes hasn’t changed that much throughout the years, so I can test a house that’s 50 years old or a house that’s 10 years old and I can pretty much count on the same poor quality of construction. I hope there’s no general contractors listening!” Lowery laughs.

Lisa Dickerson finds it sort of funny that the house she’s owned for six years leaks so much energy. She jokes that at least the birds that hang out in the eaves and on the rooftop have found a warm haven.

“If I’m paying a bill, heating the birds, wasting my money, what’s the point of it all?” Dickerson throws up her hands. “So if we lock up this house up tight as a drum, make it energy efficient, cheaper, better: win-win.”

The allure of solar energy attracted Dickerson into this project. But the longer-term value of energy efficiency looks likely to seal the deal.

source: scpr

PSE&G is installing about 5,000 to 7,000 solar panels on utility poles around Hudson County as part of its Solar 4 All program, officials said.

The local solar panels are part of a statewide plan to install more than 200,000 panels throughout more than 250 municipalities across New Jersey.

Bayonne was first in Hudson County to get the solar panels.

“The solar panel is connected directly into the grid,” explained PSE&G spokesman Fran Sullivan. “It doesn’t power a light. It benefits all electric users.”

PSE&G electric customers pay for the power they use, therefore the panels are a way of introducing solar energy into the mix of power that they pay for, providing all the customers with universal access to solar power.

“The solar power provides a renewable, carbon emission-free way to produce electricity,” Sullivan said.

The solar panels, individually, will produce about 200 watts of energy from the sun’s rays, Sullivan said. All the panels around the state will produce 80 megawatts when the installations are complete next year, enough electricity for about 12,000 homes for a year.

The installations are part of PSE&G’s $515 million Solar 4 All program that was approved by the Board of Public Utilities in July 2009. According to Sullivan, the cost of the program to a residential PSE&G customer is about 10 cents per month. Individual municipalities and counties have no costs directly associated with Solar 4 All, he said.

The solar panel units are 5-feet wide and 2.5-feet high and are mounted on utility poles more than 15 feet above the ground.

PSE&G did not know when the installation of the panels in Hudson County would be completed.

source: nj

NANOGEN Power Systems’ NanoCSP™ line of modular and totally portable Solar Power Plants bring the economics and efficiency of large scale CSP (Collecting Solar Power) solar systems to the 250kW to 10MW marketplace.

NANOGEN’s portable solar power plants are available in multiples of 250kW up to 1MW. The entire power plant is self-contained and packaged in steel cargo containers which can be shipped worldwide by sea, barge, truck or rail. Upon arrival the containers are aligned with the sun, based on latitude, using a surveyors transit. Within 48 hours, two workers can have the power plant operational. No fossil fuels are ever needed.

Located on Florida’s Space Coast, NANOGEN has utilized local engineering expertise to integrate both proprietary and patented technologies to lower capital costs and achieve higher efficiencies than any existing solar applications.

Sunlight is captured by a patented stationary parabolic trough which does not need mechanical tracking motors. Unlike the existing bent-glass mirrors used in large scale CSP plants, NanoCSP™ troughs are lightweight, shatterproof thermoplastic components which are 100% recyclable, non-toxic, and produce no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during any stage of production, repair, or recycling.

NANOGEN has reduced the cost of the solar collector components by more than 60%. The solar troughs heat a proprietary thermal liquid which powers the ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) engine; in the ORC closed combustion system, no VOC’s are released. The ORC engines turn 250kW to 10MW generators. NANOGEN then uses a proprietary TES (Thermal Energy Storage) tank to store the heated thermal fluid at a temperature sufficient to power the gen-set, for up to 16 hours, after the sun has set. O & M costs are the lowest in the energy industry.

While the portable units were originally designed for disaster relief, our current inquiries include back-up power systems for public buildings, co-generation compliance by power companies, military deployments and several off-grid mining operations in Africa. NANOGEN Power Systems is the industry leader in portable renewable and sustainable solar electricity generation.

Perry West, NANOGEN’s CEO said: “NANOGEN Power Systems is the first company to successfully downscale the Collecting Solar Power technology used in billion dollar solar power plants and package it into an affordable, modular, scalable system which can be shipped worldwide in cargo containers and deployed within 48 hours.”

source: ecofriendnews

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