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  #121  
Old Posted Dec 26, 2012, 5:28 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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Why Solar Installations Cost More in the U.S. than in Germany
A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory points to specific areas where costs could be lowered.

By Kevin Bullis on December 26, 2012

In 2011, residential solar system installers paid a little over $1.80 per watt for solar panels in both Germany and the United States. In Germany, installers added $1.20 to the cost of the solar panel to complete an installation. But in the U.S., they tacked on $4.36 per watt, more than three times as much.

A report released this month by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains why.

The most obvious difference between the United States and Germany is the total amount of solar power installed in each country—there’s five times as much installed in Germany.

The study concludes, however, that the learning curve isn’t enough to explain the price disparity—it might account for only half of it. Instead, based on a survey of U.S. and German installers, it seems that there are some fundamental differences in the U.S. and German markets that could keep prices higher in the U.S.—unless something is done to address them.

The most marked difference is in the cost of acquiring customers. German installers spend seven cents per watt of installed capacity on things like marketing and designing systems for specific customers. U.S. installers spend 10 times that amount. Costs for permitting, connecting the systems to the grid, and having them inspected are also far higher in the United States. The Germans spent only three cents a watt on these things, while U.S. installers spend 20 cents, in part because of larger amounts of paperwork and the fact that U.S. installers have to pay permitting fees.

U.S. installers also spend more on labor during actual installation (in some cases, higher winds force more expensive installations).They pay more in sales tax (German installers are exempt). And they pay more for overhead (which is closely related to economies of scale).



The biggest lever for reducing solar costs remains reducing the number of solar panels needed per installation, which in turn reduces labor costs (see “Alta Devices: Finding a Solar Solution”). But for solar to compete with fossil fuels, directly addressing the soft costs will be key. “We will see a substantial improvement, even if we just replicate the practices in Germany,” says Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at LBNL and one of the authors of the new report.
http://www.technologyreview.com/news...an-in-germany/
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  #122  
Old Posted Dec 29, 2012, 6:01 PM
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Energy News
Manipulating Light to Double Solar Power Output
An ARPA-E project will use advanced, nanostructured materials to make solar cells that convert far more of the energy in sunlight into electricity.

By Kevin Bullis on December 28, 2012

Most solar panels convert less than 20 percent of the energy in the sunlight that falls on them into electricity. A new $2.4 million project funded by the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy aims to greatly increase the amount of sunlight that becomes electricity. Its goal is a conversion efficiency of more than 50 percent, which would more than double the amount of power generated by a solar panel of a given size. This would cut the number of solar panels needed in half and potentially make solar power more competitive with fossil fuels.

In the new research effort, Harry Atwater, a professor of applied physics and materials science at Caltech, plans to use precisely structured materials to sort sunlight into eight to 10 different colors and direct those to solar cells with semiconductors that are matched perfectly to each color. As a result, more of the solar spectrum will be absorbed, and the energy contained in each slice of the spectrum will be converted mostly to electricity, rather than heat.
http://www.technologyreview.com/news...-power-output/
http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-...fficiency.html
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  #123  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2013, 5:37 PM
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Warren Buffett to build world's largest solar energy project
Billionaire US investor Warren Buffett is taking a $2.5bn (£1.5bn) bet on solar energy, acquiring what is set to become the largest photovoltaic development in the world.

By Nathalie Thomas
11:45PM GMT 02 Jan 2013

MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Mr Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company, has struck a deal with SunPower to acquire and build two projects in California’s Antelope Valley.

The deal, which will see MidAmerican pay between $2bn to $2.5bn, marks the third time in little over a year that Mr Buffett has ploughed cash into solar energy.

He last year created a unit within Mid American to support an increasing number of solar and wind investments.

Work on the projects will begin within the next few months and construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

SunPower, which is 66pc-owned by France’s Total, will remain involved in the construction and operation of the projects.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...y-project.html
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  #124  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2013, 7:49 PM
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Technology :: News :: January 15, 2013
Why Cellular Towers in Developing Nations Are Making the Move to Solar Power
Renewable energy is beginning to replace diesel in cell-phone networks

By Katherine Tweed

When a sweeping power failure blacked out 700 million people in India last July, the cell sites that connect nearly one billion mobile phone users in the country were largely unaffected.

The vast majority of Indian cell-phone base stations, which each include a tower and radio equipment attached to it, had backup diesel power because the electricity goes out frequently, and many run on diesel entirely if there is no power grid in the area at all. Now dirty diesel generators in India are being challenged by clean, renewable energy, and the movement has implications for other developing nations that also have incomplete or unreliable electric networks. Even in developed nations with reliable electricity, changes in the structure of mobile networks could open the door for alternative energy.

In India, which has about 400,000 base stations, the government has mandated that 50 percent of rural sites be powered by renewables by 2015. The decision comes as the Indian government, which heavily subsidizes diesel, looks to lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020 75 percent of rural and 33 percent of urban stations will need to run on alternative energy.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...to-solar-power
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  #125  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2013, 8:56 PM
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Billions Of Dollars Could Be Saved By NREL Solar Wafer Device
January 15, 2013 Jake Richardson

About 5–10% of silicon wafers used to make photovoltaic solar cells are damaged as they go through the industrial material production process. These wafers are expensive enough that what might sound like an acceptable amount of damage actually translates into billions of dollars lost each year by the solar industry.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers set about trying to create a detector to identify damaged wafers before they are installed in solar cells in order to stop the manufacturing of defective ones. What they came up with is called the Silicon Photovoltaic Wafer Screening System. It is actually a small furnace which can be integrated into a wafer assembly line and functions by exposing wafers to high temperatures. When they are subjected to this thermal stress test the weak or defective wafers can be identified and pulled from solar cell production.

Cutting production losses can make solar cells more cost-competitive and therefore more marketable. (Consumers typically cite cost as the main barrier to purchasing residential or commercial solar PV systems). NREL’s wafer stress tester could help manufacturers improve their quality control and consumers by reducing costs. Presumably reducing the number of defective solar cells would also decrease consumer frustration for obvious reasons.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/15/...-wafer-device/
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  #126  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2013, 10:02 PM
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Colorado Solar Industry Association Readies Launch of Million Solar Roofs Campaign
January 18, 2013

Colorado has gained a place at the forefront of the drive to power the US on clean, renewable energy. The transition to renewable energy sources is still in its infancy, however, and the state’s solar energy industry participants are looking to add to the momentum.

The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) on Jan. 16 announced that it will present the outline of its plan to pave “The Path to a Million Solar Roofs” at the Solar Power Colorado conference and trade show at The Westin in Westminister, outside Denver, Feb. 5-6.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/18/...oofs-campaign/

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FERC Regulatory Change Could Boost Distributed Solar In The US
January 18, 2013

Connecting distributed generation solar projects to the electrical grid may have just gotten much faster and cheaper, potentially boosting both the US solar industry and overall grid reliability.



FERC’s proposed reforms would streamline the interconnection process in four ways;
  • Allow projects requesting interconnections to be given a pre-application report from transmission operators evaluating the proposed installation before a formal request is made.
  • Increase the threshold for participation in the “fast track” process from 2MW to 5MW, and base eligibility on individual systems and resources.
  • Revise the supplemental review process for projects that fail to meet fast track requirements.
  • Provide interconnection requestors the ability to submit written comments on transmission upgrades necessary for their interconnection.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/18/...lar-in-the-us/

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Nature | Scientific American
Novel solar photovoltaic cells achieve record efficiency using nanoscale structures
The devices could lead to better, cheaper solar power.

David Biello
18 January 2013

An article by Scientific American.

Here's how to make a powerful solar cell from indium and phosphorus: First, arrange microscopic flecks of gold on a semiconductor background. Using the gold as seeds, grow precisely arranged wires roughly 1.5 micrometers tall out of chemically tweaked compounds of indium and phosphorus. Keep the nanowires in line by etching them clean with hydrochloric acid and confining their diameter to 180 nanometers. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.) Exposed to the sun, a solar cell employing such nanowires can turn nearly 14 percent of the incoming light into electricity—a new record that opens up more possibilities for cheap and effective solar power.

According to research published online in Science—and validated at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems—this novel nanowire configuration delivered nearly as much electricity as more traditional indium phosphide thin-film solar cells even though the nanowires themselves covered only 12 percent of the device's surface. That suggests such nanowire solar cells could prove cheaper—and more powerful—if the process could be industrialized, argues physicist Magnus Borgström of Lund University in Sweden, who led the effort.
http://www.nature.com/news/novel-sol...ctures-1.12254
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  #127  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2013, 6:13 PM
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Black Silicon Can Lead To More Efficient Solar Cells, New Breakthrough Shows
January 22, 2013

A significant breakthrough has been made in the light absorption and surface passivation abilities of silicon nano-structures (such as black silicon) by researchers at Aalto University in Finland.

The improvements were made by the application of an atomic layer coating, which works to improve light absorption and to make it more resistant to impurities (improved surface passivation).

The researchers think that big improvements in solar cell efficiency will be possible because of this work, as it addresses two of the main problems with black silicon: poor surface passivation, and limited light absorption.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/22/...through-shows/

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New Thin-Film Solar Cell Efficiency Record Set, 20.4%
January 22, 2013

A new conversion efficiency record of 20.4% has been set for thin-film solar cells by researchers at Empa and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.

The new record of 20.4% is a big improvement over the previous record achieved by this team (18.7%) in May 2011.

The new flexible solar cells are based on state-of-the-art CIGS technology. CIGS is a semiconducting material composed of: copper, indium, gallium, and (di)selenide. CIGS is known for its potential to generate very cost-effective solar power, but has yet to used or produced on a truly commercial scale.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/22/...cord-set-20-4/
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  #128  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2013, 5:41 PM
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UBS: Boom in unsubsidised solar PV flags energy revolution
By Giles Parkinson on 23 January 2013

The revolution in energy markets caused by the growing impact of rooftop solar PV is about to take a dramatic leap in scale.

According to analysts from the global investment banking giant UBS, the arrival of socket parity – where the cost of installing solar is cheaper than grid-sourced supplies – is about to cause a boom in un-subsidised solar installation in Europe, and the energy market may never be quite the same again.

Such forecasts have long been the province of environmentalists, climate activists, university researchers, and the occasional industry leader, such as David Crane, the head of NRG, the largest generator of electricity in the US.

Now, the team of energy analysts from UBS, writing in response to plunging power prices in Europe, has issued a stunning report entitled “The unsubsidised solar revolution” – suggesting that investing in solar will become a “no brainer” for households in several European countries, and will have profound implications for the incumbent energy industry.

“Solar has turned from a heavily-subsidised marginal technology into a mainstream source of power generation,” the UBS analysts write. ” “Thanks to significant cost reductions and rising retail tariffs, households and commercial users are set to install solar systems to reduce electricity bills – without any subsidies.”



“We are at the beginning of a new era in power markets,” the UBS analysts write. ”Purely based on economics, we believe almost every family home and every commercial rooftop in Germany, Italy and Spain should be equipped with a solar system by the end of this decade.”

It says up to 18% of electricity demand could be replaced by self-produced solar power in these markets, at the expense of centralised generation. Even as soon as 2020, up to 43GW of unsubsidised solar could be installed in Germany, Italy and Spain, replacing up to 9 per cent of electricity demand. This is on top of reduction in demand caused by energy efficiency measures and weak GDP growth.

The impact on utilities will be profound, and will be made worse by the emergence of cheap battery storage, which would allow households – and businesses – to consumer more of their own energy, and effectively remove the morning and evening peak in pricing, as well as the midday peaks, as we revealed in a dramatic graph in our article last May of Why generators are terrified of solar. Without any peaks, the profit margin of generators is removed. UBS calculates the EBITDA profit pool of the conventional generators will shrink by around 50 per cent.



UBS predicts that by 2020, power prices will fall another 10 per cent, and coal-fired generators, once the major providers of baseload power, will be reduced to the role of filling the gaps between renewable. UBS estimates that the load factor of lignite (brown coal) plants in Germany drops from 72% to 59%, while the load factor of hard coal plants drops from 47% to 31% by 2020. That will give them a lower load factor than many wind or solar farms.

UBS says that the explosion of solar will have a cascading effect – as noted by AGL Energy in Australia, and the local utility in Hawaii. AGL used the circle of death as an argument to reduce feed in tariffs. But the significance of unsubsidised solar is that the proliferation of solar is unstoppable – unless, of course, it is halted by regulation, or fixed tariffs.




http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/ubs-...volution-60218
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/23/...g-ubs-reports/

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Why solar PV without subsidies is a “no-brainer” for households
By Giles Parkinson on 24 January 2013

There was a huge response to our article on Wednesday, summarising the UBS report on how a boom in un-subsidised solar installations would cause a revolution in energy markets. Most people wanted more details of how UBS arrived at their calculations, so we’ve decided to share more of their report on what makes solar PV – and battery storage – such a compelling proposition to households and businesses, even without subsidies.

There are two principal pieces to the equation – the falling cost of solar and battery manufacturing on one side, and the rising cost of grid-based electricity on the other. UBS estimates the total cost of installed solar PV (including inverters and balance of systems costs) has fallen by well over half in the last few years, and will continue to do so, while grid prices (ironically including the cost of renewable subsidies) have risen and will continue to do so.

“In combination, we see this as a game-changer for the competitiveness of solar systems,” the UBS energy team writes. “Private households and commercial users will be able to save on their electricity bills if they install a solar system – without any benefits from subsidies.” As we noted yesterday, just on economics, it said every household in Germany, Italy and Spain should have a solar system by the end of the decade.



UBS says solar PV without subsidies will also be very attractive to commercial groups – particularly stores, supermarkets and offices, but also to most manufacturing enterprises that operate during daytime, because they can consume virtually all of the electricity they produce, and because some could use cheaper ground mounted systems rather than roof mounted modules.

A 130kWp solar PV system could deliver a self consumption rate of around 70 per cent for a German manufacturing company with an electricity consumption of 200MWh per year. A 200kWp system could deliver more solar power, but at the same time more energy would be either wasted or sold back into the grid for little added benefit to justify the extra cost.

“From a managerial point of view, the installation of an unsubsidised PV system is nothing but a one-time investment that leads to a sustainable cost reduction and constitutes a partial hedge against increasing energy prices or general cost inflation over a 20-year period,” UBS notes. “However, an enterprise will only make the investment decision if the expected cost savings exceed the company’s internal required rate of return – ie, the PV installation competes with other investment projects. In this regard, we note that any cost savings that exceed the depreciable investment costs are treated as taxable earnings.”



The consequence of this is the closure of both coal and gas-fired generation. As if on cue, RWE announced on Wednesday that it may mothball some gas fired plants, because they are operating 1,500 hours a year instead of planned 3,000 to 3,500 hours a year, while Jochen Homann, head of federal grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur, predicted a “a string of closure announcements,” of fossil fuel plants because they are now losing money. He said Germany needed “intelligent reform of market design.”


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/why-...useholds-49391

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Bloomberg News
European 2014 Coal Falls to Record as UBS Sees Solar Surge
By Marek Strzelecki on January 16, 2013

European coal for 2014 delivery fell to a record as UBS AG said that solar generation’s share of the continent’s electricity use will grow, crowding out production from fossil-fuel plants.

Thermal coal for delivery next year to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp declined as much as 0.4 percent to $99.75 a metric ton in London, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the contract’s lowest level since it started trading three years ago.

As much as 18 percent of electricity demand may be met by self-produced solar power in Germany, reducing demand for grid- supplied power by 6 percent to 10 percent by 2020, Per Lekander, a Paris-based analyst at UBS, said in an e-mailed research note.

“Batteries will increasingly shave the evening peak, which further eliminates production hours of thermal plants that used to be attractive,” the analyst said.

German power for delivery in 2014, a European benchmark, fell as much as 1.1 percent to 43.45 euros ($57.61) a megawatt- hour, the lowest level since the start of trading in January 2010.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/201...es-solar-surge
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  #129  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2013, 4:18 PM
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has been posted before, but elsewhere I think

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V3Solar Spin Cell = 8 Cents/kWh? (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
January 24, 2013



Am I hopeful? Yes. In case you aren’t aware, the average cost of electricity in the US is about 12 cents per kWh. The median cost of electricity from solar PV in the US is about 28 cents per kWh. The cost of V3Solar’s Spin Cell, as noted in the title (and based on tests that the company considers to actually be conservative — meaning the cost could actually be lower), was quoted to me as being 8 cents per kWh! Bill Rever, a very well qualified 3rd party solar specialist has apparently verified the cost projection. You can see his full technical review here.

When I received this information and was astounded at the low price, my source wrote: “Yes. We are excited. We think we can go below that, but we want to stay conservative.”

So, 8¢/kWh is two-thirds the price of retail electricity, and over 3 times cheaper than current solar technology. If the cost projection is true, that’s astounding, and revolutionary. (Notes: the 8¢/kWh figure is LCOE; and the BOM cost is 59 cents/Wp, including racking, tracking, and the inverter.)


http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/24/...s-cheap-solar/

Quote:
Crowd-Funded Solar Projects Top $1 Million in U.S.
A.K. Streeter
Business / Green Investments
January 24, 2013



But what if we, the people, could help fund a clean energy revolution right in our backyards? Thus far, solar energy in particular has had to look for different funding models due to high initial installation costs, both for homeowners and for larger projects. One successful model, spearheaded by SolarCity, helps homeowners install solar panels for low or no investment costs, instead tapping into subsidies and sharing in the profit from the power generated.

Mosaic is yet another new way to help put more solar power on the U.S. energy map. They are crowd-funding solar energy, and already this young entity has raised money for more than $1 million in solar projects in the U.S., including a 26kW set of solar panels on the St. Vincent de Paul building in Oakland, California, (pictured above) and a 112 kW project on an affordable (and eco-friendly) housing unit in San Bruno, California.

Projects are put together to give potential investors the facts about a prospective solar installation, generally on commercial and multi-unit housing buildings. Like with Kickstarter, 'crowds' from the Internet cloud decide whether or not a project is worthy of funding (though none of Mosaic's projects have failed to get funding thus far).

Then they funnel people's investment dollars to put up solar panels, charging its investors a 1% 'platform' fee annually (assessed monthly). Investors, who must have an account with Mosaic, get a portion of their principal paid back to them each month, plus the interest (each project has different estimated returns).

The payments to investors are kept in the investors' Mosaic accounts, and are FDIC insured up to $250,000. When an investor wants to get some of their account money, it can be transferred to a personal bank account, or used for other Mosaic investments.
http://www.treehugger.com/green-inve...illion-us.html

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Why Solar PV Without Subsidies Is A No-Brainer (UBS Study Part 2)
January 24, 2013



There are two principal pieces to the equation – the falling cost of solar and battery manufacturing on one side, and the rising cost of grid-based electricity on the other. UBS estimates the total cost of installed solar PV (including inverters and balance of systems costs) has fallen by well over half in the last few years, and will continue to do so, while grid prices (ironically including the cost of renewable subsidies) have risen and will continue to do so.

“In combination, we see this as a game-changer for the competitiveness of solar systems,” the UBS energy team writes. “Private households and commercial users will be able to save on their electricity bills if they install a solar system – without any benefits from subsidies.” As we noted yesterday, just on economics, it said every household in Germany, Italy and Spain should have a solar system by the end of the decade.



UBS estimates a 4,500kWh household with a 4kWp PV system should be able to reduce its electricity purchases from a utility by 30 per cent without significantly changing its consumption habits. In southern Germany, such a household would save around €380 on its electricity bill, which would otherwise amount to some €1,260. Another €80 of income results from the sale of excess electricity if a price of 25 €/MWh is assumed. In the example above, it would already be worth installing a PV system, as the combined cost would be slightly smaller. It says solar PV systems will become even more attractive as retail tariffs continue to rise, and solar costs continue to fall.

As well, the increase in unsubsidised solar PV capacity will ultimately lead to higher electricity prices, because the demand reduction will force utilities to spread the grid investments and cost of the renewable subsidies over a smaller base. But as grid prices rise, households will respond by increasing their self-consumption rate.

They could do this by co-ordinating the timing of energy-intensive processes, aiming at increasing the self-consumption rate of a PV system, in the same way utilities offer time-of use meters. Solar developers are already offering such technology. And/or they could add a battery storage system, which UBS describes as the other big game changer in the energy game.

UBS says storage technologies allow the owner of a solar PV system to further cut electricity purchases from utilities: either because they can store solar PV power not immediately consumed, or they could charge the battery on low rates overnight for use in the morning or at other time.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/24/...-study-part-2/

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  #130  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2013, 5:56 PM
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Evolution Inspires More Efficient Solar Cell Design
Geometric pattern maximizes time light is trapped in solar cell

Jan 24, 2013

The sun’s energy is virtually limitless, but harnessing its electricity with today’s single-crystal silicon solar cells is extremely expensive — 10 times pricier than coal, according to some estimates. Organic solar cells — polymer solar cells that use organic materials to absorb light and convert it into electricity — could be a solution, but current designs suffer because polymers have less-than-optimal electrical properties.

Researchers at Northwestern University have now developed a new design for organic solar cells that could lead to more efficient, less expensive solar power. Instead of attempting to increase efficiency by altering the thickness of the solar cell’s polymer layer — a tactic that has preciously garnered mixed results — the researchers sought to design the geometric pattern of the scattering layer to maximize the amount of time light remained trapped within the cell.

Using a mathematical search algorithm based on natural evolution, the researchers pinpointed a specific geometrical pattern that is optimal for capturing and holding light in thin-cell organic solar cells.

The resulting design exhibited a three-fold increase over the Yablonovitch Limit, a thermodynamic limit developed in the 1980s that statistically describes how long a photon can be trapped in a semiconductor.


http://www.mccormick.northwestern.ed...ll-design.html
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  #131  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2013, 5:16 PM
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Race to Break Solar Cell Efficiency Record Heats Up with New $12 Million Grant
January 26, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy has just added another $12 million to an existing $35.8 million grant program aimed at producing the next generation of record-breaking solar cells that get closer to the theoretical maximum efficiency of about 30 percent. That goalpost was established back in 1961 and solar researchers have been chasing it ever since, but according to DOE a “sizable gap” still separates the current state of the technology from its best potential.

The grant program, called Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency II (FPACEII) will cover a range of technologies including silicon-based and thin film solar cells.

The Limits of Solar Cell Efficiency

If you’re new to this topic and googling around, you’re going to see all kinds of numbers being tossed about, so it’s helpful to keep in mind that the FPACE grant program is focused on improving the ability of single-junction solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity.

Loosely speaking, single-junction refers to a solar cell made from one layer of material, typically silicon. Multi-junction cells are made with layers of different materials. They can achieve conversion efficiencies up in the 80 percent range but generally involve greater costs.

The Energy Department’s figure of “about 30 percent” for maximum conversion efficiency refers to silicon solar cells. Overall, the researchers who developed the theory (William Shockley and Hans Queisser) describe a best-case scenario of 33.7 percent.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/26/...unshot-grants/
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  #132  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2013, 4:43 PM
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New “Rock Candy” Silicon Could Make Ultra-Cheap Solar Power Even Cheaper
January 25, 2013

Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a low-cost way to manufacture high-grade silicon, based on a concept familiar to anyone who has tried to make rock candy at home. If the breakthrough can be translated into a commercially viable process, it would make ultra-cheap solar tech like V3Solar’s Spin Cell (which we were just raving about the other day) even cheaper.

Ironically, funding for the research project came from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, but maybe they know something we don’t.

Cooking Up a Batch of Low-Cost Silicon

Silicon is the key component of conventional solar cells. It comes from silicon dioxide, aka sand, which is one of the cheapest and most abundant materials on Earth, but converting sand into high grade silicon is a high cost, energy intensive process with a pretty significant carbon footprint.

As described by U Mich writer Kate McAlpine, the new process works at just 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a far cry from the 2,000 degrees needed for conventional silicon manufacturing.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/new-...-cheaper-55483
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  #133  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2013, 5:59 PM
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WA Greens propose solar PV on all public housing
By Giles Parkinson on 29 January 2013

The WA Greens have unveiled a $68 million plan to install solar PV panels on all public housing homes, in what could be an interesting test of the ability of solar to gain traction as an election issue.

The plan announced by Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren would involve installing a 1.5kW solar PV system on the roof of public housing homes and apartments, and on another 8,000 community housing units.

It is estimated to cost around $68 million, but the Greens say it could reduce the cost of electricity for pensioners and disadvantaged families by an average of $500 a year.



“It is a win, win, win situation,” she said in a statement. “We have calculated that the cost of the project would be $68 million spread over three years. The cost is based on $2000 a roof plus around $276 a home for a smart meter.

“WA has an abundant supply of sunshine so why don’t we make use of the thousands of hectares of roof space on public and community housing to benefit the people who live in these homes and to bring down WA’s carbon emissions.”
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/wa-g...-housing-69364

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Solar industry urges more ambitious off-grid targets
By Giles Parkinson on 29 January 2013

The Australian solar industry has urged the newly formed Australian Renewables Energy Agency to develop more ambitious targets for remote and off-grid use of renewable energy.

In response to an ARENA consultation paper on its off-grid plans, The Australian PV Association says the 50MW target by 2020 outlined by ARENA is not nearly ambitious enough, and should amount to a yearly target rather than an aggregate.

The APVA says an additional 150MW to 300W of renewable generation should be installed off-grid. Targets of 50MW per year from 2014 would ensure an immediate start and that at least some systems are built before the program ends.

ARENA chairman Greg Bourne told RenewEconomy last year that the development of off-grid and remote systems would be one of the key targets for the agency, which is managing around $3.2 billion of funds, including $1.7 billion in monies yet to be allocated.

“Essentially what you are doing is diesel displacement, or diesel augmentation. Diesel is very, very expensive, so it takes it much closer to commercialisation,” Bourne said at the time.

“If you can prove the technology and the control systems for forecasting and intermittency, you have a lot more confidence in trying it nearer to a large grid and beginning to sweep away the barriers of ‘oh, we can’t do this, everything will fail.”
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/sola...-targets-88783

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How To Write A Hit Piece On The Solar Industry In 6 Steps
January 29, 2013



In fact, these articles are so formulaic, common, and wrong that I decided to save everyone a lot of time and teach you how to make one. So here is how to write a hit piece on the solar industry.
  1. Start off with pointing out some of the industry’s success. Maybe you point to the rapidly growing employment in solar, the plummeting costs of systems, or solar’s widening geographic appeal.
  2. Transition (often with a weather pun) about dark days ahead, clouds on the horizon, or a storm’s a brewing.
  3. Politics!
  4. Bankruptcies
    DO: Have a Solyndra section! What’s an anti-solar piece without a Solyndra section?

    DO: Mention that other solar panel manufacturers are going bankrupt.

    DO: Ignore that that’s a natural part of how industries grow. Like the car and computer chip industries, solar panel manufacturing started out with hundreds and hundreds of different companies making the products, and is now in a period of consolidation that will just leave a dozen or so really big and really profitable companies standing. While it is messy, it is good for long-term R&D and for consumers.

    DON’T: Mention the flip side of the coin — that these companies are going broke because solar panels are so cheap now — which has caused a massive explosion in the solar installation sector. So please ignore SolarCity, Sungevity, SunRun, and the hundreds of small, local installers across the country that are helping people in your neighborhood save money by going solar.
  5. Try to Establish Neutrality
    DO: Throw the industry a bone and mention the multi-year trend of improving solar technology and affordability.

    DON’T: Mention that this trend is expected to continue, since that will undermine your article.
  6. Natural Gas
    DO: Talk about how “cheap” fossil fuels are. Bring up the recent expansion in natural gas production in the US. This is a good part to throw in some numbers, and maybe go on a tangent about how natural gas is cleaner than coal and how this could split environmentalists. Definitely mention the low price natural gas is selling at because of the increased use of nearly unregulated hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

    DON’T: Mention the unpopularity of fracking among people who live around drilling sites, the fracking bans that exist across the country (and the world), the potential regulation that might limit fracking, the fact that the Federal Government supported the R&D that invented fracking, fracking’s cost on human and environmental health, or that fossil fuels are finite.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/29/...ry-in-6-steps/
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  #134  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2013, 5:00 PM
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US Missing Out On Its Share Of $1 Trillion In Total Global Solar Energy Revenue
January 30, 2013

The US is missing out on its share of the $1 trillion dollars total cumulative global solar photovoltaic revenue predicted for 2012-2018 because of its policies and political atmosphere, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trust lobbying group.

The report notes that the US is falling behind other countries such as Germany, Italy, and China. And it calls upon President Obama and Congress to introduce new measures in order to not fall further behind in the growing renewable energy revolution.

The report concluded that: “the US needs a national clean energy standard to replace the current piecemeal state-by-state arrangements; energy R&D should be at least doubled from its current level; tax credits and incentives for clean energy should be renewed; and policy should be introduced to ‘level the playing field’ for renewables against the fossil fuel industry.”

The Pew report, titled, Innovate, Manufacture, Compete: A Clean Energy Action Plan, gives the prediction that “from 2012 to 2018 the cumulative revenue generated from solar photovoltaic worldwide will total US$1 trillion dollars, of an expected $1.9 trillion dollars from clean energy generation.” Annual global solar revenue is expected to rise from $113 billion dollars in 2012 to $183 billion dollars by 2018. And new annual installations are expected to rise from the 32 GW installed in 2012, to 86.3 GW in 2018.

Amongst all that global growth though, the US isn’t predicted to compare to that of our primary rivals in the field. “American photovoltaic installations have doubled in the last two years, but the additional capacity is still less than a third of that added by Germany or Italy, with China surpassing the US in solar for the first time, in 2011.”
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/30/...nergy-revenue/

http://www.policy-matters.org/

Quote:
Energy storage will accelerate the solar revolution
By Nigel Morris on 30 January 2013

There are two great things that come from taking a long break each year.

First, you get to connect back with life a bit; family, friends and just doing stuff you want to do. Secondly, it gives you a chance to extricate yourself from the grind of getting work done to philosophising about what you are doing and how to do it better.

For me at least, this is when the issues around solar and energy start to crystallise and arrange themselves better. Stimulated by a number of conversations and new data, I can now see through my PV coloured glasses that a revolution is underway.

I think this year is going to be incredibly fascinating for solar and energy and here’s why.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/ener...volution-24226

Quote:
Texas wind and solar highly competitive with gas: report
By Colin Meehan on 30 January 2013
Climate Progress

An interesting fact seemed to go unnoticed in all the press around the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s (ERCOT) Long Term System Assessment, a biennial report submitted to the Texas Legislature on “the need for increased transmission and generation capacity throughout the state of Texas.”

ERCOT found that if you use updated wind and solar power characteristics like cost and actual output to reflect real world conditions, rather than the previously used 2006 assumed characteristics, wind and solar are more competitive than natural gas over the next 20 years. This might seem a bit strange since we’ve been told for years by renewable energy skeptics that wind and solar power can’t compete with low natural gas prices. Let me back up a second and explain what’s going on here, and what it means for both the energy crunch and Texas’ ongoing drought.

Every two years since 2005, ERCOT has used a series of complex energy system models to model and estimate future conditions on the Texas electric grid. This serves a critical function for legislators, utilities and regulators and others who need to prepare for changes as our electric use continues to expand and evolve. As with any model of this kind, the assumptions are critical: everything from the price of natural gas, to the cost to build power plants and transmission lines. Facing an acute energy crunch and given that solar and wind costs have come down a great deal since the first study in 2006, ERCOT dug a little deeper into their historical assumptions and developed a version of the model that used current, real-world cost and performance data for wind and solar power.

What they found was astounding: without these real-world data points, ERCOT found that 20,000 MW of natural gas will be built over the next 20 years, along with a little bit of demand response and nothing else. Once they updated their assumptions to reflect a real-world scenario (which they call “BAU with Updated Wind Shapes”) ERCOT found that about 17,000 MWs of wind units, along with 10,000 MW of solar power, will be built in future years.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/texa...s-report-93820
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  #135  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2013, 6:21 PM
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Solar PV Crowdfunding Pioneer Mosaic Joins With S&P, Dupont, Others To “Make The Sun Bankable”
January 30, 2013

Retail financial innovation is catching up with technological innovation and government energy policies that are making solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems affordable for a much broader range of the US population. Solar Mosaic made a big splash earlier this month when it announced that the first set of three rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) projects offered up on its crowd funding platform sold out in less than 24 hours.

The Oakland, California–based start-up is wasting no time in seeking to build on the success of the public launch of its innovative online solar energy investment marketplace. Management on January 29 announced that Mosaic is joining with 16 solar industry market leaders (including Standard & Poors, DuPont, TruSolar and others) in order to “make the sun bankable.” Together, the partners intend “to standardize risk assessment and develop a score – similar to a credit rating – for each solar project” Solar Mosaic offers up on its crowd funding platform.

Credit Ratings for Rooftop Solar PV Projects

Qualified individual investors ponied up more than $300,000 of capital in lots ranging from $25 to $30,000 in under 24 hours to fund Mosaic’s first three rooftop solar PV projects. Those investments are expected to generate annual returns of 4.5%, well in excess of the 1.9% yield of comparable 10-year US Treasury notes.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/30/...-sun-bankable/

Quote:
“Game-Changing” Solar Invention Announced
January 30, 2013

I have seen my share of outstanding solar innovations, such as concentrated solar setups using tiny gallium arsenide cells that achieve an astounding 42% efficiency. However, I’ve been eagerly waiting for an outstanding innovation made from more abundant materials such as silicon.

The main reason is that silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, so it should remain cheap and available as long as needed.

Almost all of the silicon solar panels (aka solar modules) on the market are between 10% and 20% efficient, so it is high time for a module that is both constructed from abundant materials and is much more efficient.

The Dresden-based company Apollon GmbH & Co. KG and Solar Bankers LLC, which is based on Arizona, claim that they have developed a new silicon-based solar panel with a holographic foil that is twice as efficient as typical models, and that they are so cheap they can be manufactured in Germany or the USA at a lower cost than factories in China manufacture conventional solar panels.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/30/...ographic-film/

Quote:
Next-Generation Of Solar Cells, Capturing More Sunlight With Microbeads
January 30, 2013

“Micro beads” may be the key to extremely thin (and much cheaper) next generation solar cells. Solar cells 20 times thinner than the solar cells of today are only 5-7 years off, according to the nano-scientists that are currently developing them.

The estimate, as of right now, is that the super-thin solar cells will be on the market by 2020, which should help to greatly cut down on manufacturing and production costs.

“Over 90 per cent of the current electricity generated by solar panels is made by silicon plates that are 200 micrometres thick. Several billion of these are produced every year. The problem is the large consumption of silicon: five grams per watt.”

And even though silicon is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, the ‘pure silicon’ used in solar cells is very expensive and energy intensive to create. And a lot simply ends up discarded during the manufacturing process. There has been some recent research that should help to cut down on wasted silicon, though, so other improvements are also being made there.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/30/...th-microbeads/

Quote:
Energy Department Announces New SunShot Projects to Harness the Power of Big Data
January 30, 2013

As part of the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, the Department today announced seven data-driven projects to unearth new opportunities for reducing costs and accelerating solar energy deployment in the United States. These projects—located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas—will result in viable methods for dramatically transforming the operations of solar researchers, manufacturers, developers, installers, and policymakers, and speed the commercialization and deployment of affordable, clean solar energy.

"Through powerful analytical tools developed by our nation's top universities and national labs, we can gain unparalleled insight into solar deployment that will help lower the cost of solar power and create new businesses and jobs," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Projects like these will help accelerate technological and financing innovations—making it easier for American families and businesses to access clean, affordable energy."

The Energy Department will invest about $9 million across the seven projects announced today. These efforts will help scientists, project developers, installers, and communities work together to discover previously unexplored ways to improve solar cell efficiency, reduce costs, and streamline installation processes.
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/pr....cfm/pa_id=833
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  #136  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 5:12 PM
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First Solar’s New Mexico Project May Get Less Than Coal
By Ehren Goossens & Christopher Martin - Jan 31, 2013 3:08 PM PT

First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the world’s largest thin-film solar manufacturer, may receive the lowest rates ever for selling U.S. solar energy, less than power from new coal plants, for a project it acquired in New Mexico, according to a regulatory filing.

First Solar bought the Macho Springs project from Element Power Solar, according to a statement today. El Paso Electric Co. (EE) agreed to buy the electricity for 5.79 cents a kilowatt- hour, according to a Jan. 22 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

That’s less than half the 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour average price for new coal plants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Thin-film photovoltaic power typically sells for 16.3 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...than-coal.html

Quote:
Solar Power: Is It Time for the Big Push?
In the coming years, the fastest growing source of renewable power may be solar energy. But to meet the worlds needs, and overcome technological challenges, what's needed of science and industry?


SOLAR POWER SEEMS POISED FOR A BREAKTHROUGH. Over the past four years, prices for solar panels declined 75 percent. The consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. projects that the cost of commercial systems (panels, electronics, connections, and installation) will decline an additional 40 percent by 2015 and another 30 percent by 2020. In fact, it argues that solar power will be competitive even without government subsidies. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency projects that renewable energy will become the second largest source of electrical power by 2015 and approach coal-fired production by 2035. It expects solar to grow faster than any other type of renewable power.

Solar also isn't just about creating electricity. Nature's solar conversion system, photosynthesis, converts sunlight to fuel. In the case of plants, fuel comes in the form of sugars. Researchers believe they can use similar reactions to split water into hydrogen fuel -- low carbon emissions hydrogen, and then use the hydrogen to make liquid carbon-based fuels as needed -- for things that cannot be readily electrified, like airplanes and ships. Yet they still face major gaps in our understanding of photosynthesis.

Recently, four experts discuss how to move solar technology from the lab to commercial reality.
http://www.kavlifoundation.org/scien...power-big-push

Quote:
Solar Power: Is It Time for the Big Push?
Released: 1/31/2013 12:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Kavli Foundation

Newswise — There are great expectations for solar power, especially in the coming years, when the International Energy Agency projects solar to grow faster than any other renewable power. But what does science need to do to more fully respond to the opportunities ahead?

Recently, three researchers discussed this with fellow scientist Harry A. Atwater, Jr., director of the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Solar Energy Conversion, as well as member of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) at the California Institute of Technology. To really give solar power a push, the scientists raised advancing how new materials are created, developed and brought to industry.

“We need to engage with manufacturers and end-users of the technology as soon as possible, rather than spend years doing lab demonstrations before anyone talks with industry,” said Michael Wasielewski, director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center and professor at Northwestern University. “We need to take advantage of manufacturers' expertise in how things are really done. On our part, we need to let them know about promising materials sooner, so they start to think about commercialization pathways earlier in the process.”



Scaling up means bridging a financial gulf, noted Atwater. “[T]o commercialize solar technologies, we must get past the valley of death – that big gap between demonstrating a technology and finding someone to invest $100 million for large-scale manufacturing,” he said.
http://www.newswise.com/articles/sol...r-the-big-push
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  #137  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 5:17 PM
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Haiti’s Solar Powered Hospital
February 1, 2013

Maintaining steady electricity flow in hospitals is literally an issue of life and death. In places where electrical power is unreliable, hospitals are forced to rely on generators, even in the midst of surgery or with patients on ventilators. So what’s a hospital in Haiti supposed to do?

Install 1,800 solar panels on the roof, of course. And that’s exactly what Partners in Health (PIH) and Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) recently did.

The brand new hospital, which is expected to open in March, has a 200,000-square-foot roof just perfect for harvesting solar power. But installing the rooftop solar farm hasn’t been without logistical concerns. Firstly, the ample energy coming from the roof had to work with the shoddy electrical grid and system of generators previously used. Once the panels were installed, inverters to convert the electricity and send it to the grid were added. In addition to all of this new technology, six local engineers were trained in maintenance and repairs, with two of them employed at the hospital full-time.



The results of all of this planning and implementation is expected to be a reduction of about $379,000 in annual operating costs, as well as preventing 210 metric tons of carbon emissions.

The HUM project is one of 11 other healthcare facilities integrating solar power into everyday operations (pun intended).
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/01/...ered-hospital/

Quote:
Geenex announces $500 million US PV investment
01. February 2013 | Applications & Installations, Industry & Suppliers | By: Becky Beetz

Geenex has said it intends to invest at least US$500 million in photovoltaic projects in the U.S. over the next five years. The first project is slated to be 50 MW in size.

Geenex has said it will invest a total of $200 million in installing photovoltaic projects in North Carolina over the next two years. The first project is set to be 50 MW in size and the generated energy is expected to be sold to Dominion Power.

Overall, the company aims to invest at least $500 million in the U.S. over the next five years. CEO Georg Veit said that Geenex will, as far as possible, source labor and equipment locally. He declined to divulge any further information, including project specifics, or whether the entire sum will be invested in North Carolina, or spread across other states.
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/deta...nt-_100010047/

Quote:
The Installed Price of Solar Photovoltaic Systems in the U.S. Continues to Decline at a Rapid Pace
November 27, 2012
Allan Chen

Berkeley, CA — The installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before, depending on system size, and, in California, prices fell by an additional 3 to 7 percent within the first six months of 2012. These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008.

The report indicates that non-module costs—such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems—have also fallen significantly over time. “The drop in non-module costs is especially important,” notes report co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, “as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers.” According to the report, average non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30 percent from 1998 to 2011, but have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result, non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted emphasis on lowering the portion of non-module costs associated with so-called “business process” or “soft” costs.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size. Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011. Report co-author Galen Barbose, also of Berkeley Lab, stresses the importance of keeping these numbers in context, noting that “these data provide a reliable benchmark for systems installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time, and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices.”
http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-relea...-a-rapid-pace/

Quote:
New Path to More Efficient Organic Solar Cells Uncovered at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source
January 07, 2013
Lynn Yarris

Why are efficient and affordable solar cells so highly coveted? Volume. The amount of solar energy lighting up Earth’s land mass every year is nearly 3,000 times the total amount of annual human energy use. But to compete with energy from fossil fuels, photovoltaic devices must convert sunlight to electricity with a certain measure of efficiency. For polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells, which are far less expensive to manufacture than silicon-based solar cells, scientists have long believed that the key to high efficiencies rests in the purity of the polymer/organic cell’s two domains – acceptor and donor. Now, however, an alternate and possibly easier route forward has been shown.

Working at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a premier source of X-ray and ultraviolet light beams for research, an international team of scientists found that for highly efficient polymer/organic photovoltaic cells, size matters.

“We’ve shown that impure domains if made sufficiently small can also lead to improved performances in polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells,” says Harald Ade, a physicist at North Carolina State University, who led this research. “There seems to be a happy medium, a sweet-spot of sorts, between purity and domain size that should be much easier to achieve than ultra-high purity.”
http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-relea...-light-source/

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  #138  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2013, 4:25 PM
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continuation of story in post #136

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Chu says big solar soon to be cheaper than coal and gas
By Giles Parkinson on 4 February 2013

After reading the resignation letter from the US Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, a statement of such vision that you wonder why it is not catchy, one immediate question leaps to mind: So why can’t Australia have an energy minister like this? At either state of federal level?

Before we try and answer that, what does the energy chief of the world’s largest economy and energy user have to say about the challenges and possibilities in front of us?

The biggest takeout is the cost of big solar. One of Chu’s big initiatives was the SunShot program – launched just over two years ago with the aim of taking the cost of utility scale PV down to $1/W by 2020, at which price it would deliver energy at a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of around $60/MWh, cheaper than coal, and cheaper than gas, even with the shale and fracking boom.

Chu has been talking about this for a while, but now it seems to be getting traction. “When we first discussed this goal, industry did not take it seriously,” Chu writes in his letter. “Today, they tell me that our input challenged them to rethink their road maps and now agree that it is an achievable goal.”

It is not as wild as it may seem. Bloomberg reports that First Solar has signed a power purchase agreement to deliver energy from a 50MW solar PV plant in New Mexico to the local utility for $59/MWh. That’s half the cost of new coal plants. It’s likely assisted by investment tax credits, but the clear sign is that it is getting close. It’s important to remember that the US, as well as China and India, and Australia for that matter, accept that solar will be cheaper than new coal or gas by the end of the decade.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/chu-...-and-gas-74823

Quote:
Wind And Solar Competitive With Natural Gas In The Lone Star State
February 4, 2013

Texas is tops among US states when it comes to installed wind power generation capacity, having added 1,826 megawatts (MW) in 2012 to bring its cumulative total to a whopping 12.212 gigawatts (GW), enough to power nearly 3 million average American homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) latest industry report.

Ongoing improvements in wind turbine technology, manufacturing processes, installation and operations and maintenance, along with investments in transmission infrastructure, bode well for the future. The same is true for solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems, and though solar energy hasn’t caught on nearly as fast as wind power, Texas is no slouch there either, ranking seventh nationwide in terms of installed solar power generation capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association’s third quarter 2012 state rankings.

Progress on the clean energy front is happening extraordinarily fast. So much so, in fact, that in its latest biennial Long Term System Assessment report to the Texas legislature, regional grid operator the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) “found that if you use updated wind and solar power characteristics like cost and actual output to reflect real world conditions, rather than previously used 2006 assumed characteristics, wind and solar are more competitive than natural gas over the next 20 years,” Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Colin Meehan highlights in a January 28 EDF blog post.
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/04/...ne-star-state/

Quote:
Berkeley Report Shows Long-Term Savings From Residential Solar
January 31, 2013 Kathleen Zipp : 0 Comments

A new Berkeley Lab report, “Electricity Bill Savings from Residential Photovoltaic Systems: Sensitivities to Changes in Future Electricity Market Conditions” explores long-term uncertainties in the utility bill savings that customers receive from photovoltaic (PV) systems. Specifically, the report evaluates how changes to wholesale electricity market conditions may impact retail electricity prices and rate structures, and how those changes may in turn affect the bill savings that customers with PV receive under net metering and other kinds of compensation mechanisms.

The analysis relies on a production cost and capacity expansion model to project hourly wholesale electricity market prices under a range of potential electricity market scenarios, using California as a case study. The scenarios include various levels of renewable and solar energy deployment, high and low natural gas prices, the possible introduction of carbon pricing, and greater or lesser reliance on utility-scale storage and demand response. Based on the wholesale electricity market prices generated by the model, we then develop three residential retail rate structures (flat volumetric rates, time-of-use, and real-time pricing) for each electricity market scenario, using standard retail rate design principles. Finally, we estimate the utility bill savings from PV for 226 California residential customers, for each scenario and retail rate structure, under both net metering and an alternative PV compensation mechanism.
http://www.solarpowerworldonline.com...ltaic-systems/
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  #139  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2013, 4:52 PM
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Solar thermal energy costs predicted to halve by 2020
By Giles Parkinson on 5 February 2013

Days after US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu promised that large scale solar PV would be cheaper than coal and gas before the end of the decade – and a commercial solar PV project in New Mexico appeared to deliver on that very prediction – comes a forecast that the other key solar technology, solar thermal, will also halve its costs over the same time period.

One of the world’s leading experts on concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) technologies, Dr Manuel Blanco, says the cost of dispatchable solar thermal energy will fall to just 12/kWh by 2020. Dispatchable means that the energy can be delivered when the energy is needed, not just when the sun shines. This is achieved with energy storage.

The current cost of solar thermal technologies is estimated by the industry itself at around 25c/kWh, and Blanco’s predictions accord with those of an industry study last year, which predicted costs of 12c/kWh to 13c/kWh could be reached. That, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, makes it comparable with the cost of new coal-fired power stations.

However, those predictions for solar thermal are well below predictions from the government’s official forecasts, the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics, which predicts the technology will fall from current levels of around 30c/kWh to now lower than 20c/kWh by 2025. The solar thermal industry has already registered its disappointment with that assessment.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/sola...-halve-by-2020
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  #140  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 6:56 PM
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Solar PV Installations Hit 32 GW In 2012, 35 GW Projected For 2013, According To IHS
February 5, 2013

IHS, a “global information company,” has reported that global solar PV installations totalled about 32 gigawatts (GW) in 2012, a new record that beats 2011′s 28 GW and 2010′s 20 GW.

As could be expected, 2013 is projected to best 2012, as is every year after that for many years to come. IHS projects that the annual installation capacity will reach 61 GW by 2017, triple 2010′s total and nearly double 2012′s. (See the chart on the right.)

Meanwhile, the price of solar modules is projected to keep falling. The net effect is that solar PV suppliers will see their annual revenues drop, according to IHS, resulting in a continued “solar shakeout” as weaker companies fall out of the market. This is a natural process in the maturation of nearly every industry.

“According to IHS, industry revenue—measured as the system price multiplied by total gigawatts installed is expected will decline to an estimated US$75 billion in 2013, down from US$77 billion in 2012,” PV-Tech writes. “PV industry revenue was said to have peaked in 2011 at US$94 billion.”
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/05/...ording-to-ihs/

Quote:
Rooftop solar reshapes energy market in South Australia
By Giles Parkinson on 6 February 2013

Rooftop solar continues to have a dramatic impact on the energy market in South Australia – the Australian state with the highest penetration of rooftop solar.

As these graphs provided by Melbourne Energy Institute’s Mike Sandiford illustrate, the proliferation of solar PV is not just having an impact on overall demand in the state, it is also shaving and reshaping the peak demand curves.

The impact of solar PV in South Australia was recognised by a special study by the Australian Energy Market Operator last August. As we reported then, South Australia had some 267MW of rooftop solar as at June 30, representing one in five households. AEMO said rooftop solar was accounting for 2.4 per cent of overall demand, and more than one-third of the PV systems were operating at the time of peak demand at any one time.

These graphs deliver a further illustration of their impact, as they illustrate what happened in the latest months of December and January, traditionally the period of hottest temperatures and highest demand. (If the graphs are not easy to read we suggest you click on them to see them better).

The ones immediately below show the average demand curves in South Australia over the last five years. The pink line shows 2012/13. As Sandiford points out, midday demand in SA this summer is down 15 per cent on where it was five years ago, even though night-time demand is up, confirming the impact of solar PV.

“Overall, total demand is down about 3 per cent over the same interval,” Sandiford says. “I am betting all the pundits would have been expecting it to rise more than 10 per cent over that interval.” This accords with the AEMO estimates.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/roof...ustralia-18272

Quote:
US: Bosch and aleo announce $100 million solar funding
06. February 2013 | Applications & Installations, Industry & Suppliers | By: Becky Beetz

Bosch and subsidiary, aleo solar have announced that US$100 million in funding will be made available for commercial and residential solar projects in North America.

Bosch Solar Energy North America and aleo solar North America have said that zero-down financing opportunities have been made available for both approved commercial solar projects 50 kW or more in size, and residential projects worth $50,000 or less.

"Making solar affordable is today’s biggest challenge," said Shane Messer, executive vice president of sales & marketing/general manager at aleo solar North America. "We are dedicated to supporting our dealer partners in finding solutions to the challenges they face," he added.
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/deta...ng-_100010112/

Quote:
Peel-and-stick solar panels
Home » About » News & Updates » Peel-and-stick solar panels
Decal-like application process allows thin, flexible solar panels to be applied to virtually any surface from business cards to roofs to window panes.
By Glen Martin

For all their promise, solar cells have frustrated scientists in one crucial regard – most are rigid. They must be deployed in stiff and often heavy fixed panels, limiting their applications. So researchers have been trying to get photovoltaics to loosen up. The ideal: flexible, decal-like solar panels that can be peeled off like band-aids and stuck to virtually any surface, from papers to window panes.

Now the ideal is real. Stanford researchers have succeeded in developing the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells. The advance is described in a paper in the December 20th issue of Scientific Reports.

Unlike standard thin-film solar cells, peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells do not require any direct fabrication on the final carrier substrate. This is a far more dramatic development than it may initially seem. All the challenges associated with putting solar cells on unconventional materials are avoided with the new process, vastly expanding the potential applications of solar technology.

Thin-film photovoltaic cells are traditionally fixed on rigid silicon and glass substrates, greatly limiting their uses, says Chi Hwan Lee, lead author of the paper and a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering. And while the development of thin-film solar cells promised to inject some flexibility into the technology, explains Xiaolin Zheng, a Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper, scientists found that use of alternative substrates was problematic in the extreme.
http://engineering.stanford.edu/news...rd-engineering

Last edited by amor de cosmos; Feb 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM.
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