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Solar Energy News, Analysis, Education
Updated: 30 min 49 sec ago

Research discover light-emitting solar panels

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 11:44pm

Scientists in Singapore have discovered a new material that acts as a solar panel in the day, and a light panel at night.

The researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed solar cells from a material called Perovskite. These cells don’t just convert sunlight to electricity, but also have the capacity to emit light.

Such a material could be used to make cell phone or tablet screens that can be recharged simply by exposing them to sunlight.

“What we have discovered is that because it is a high quality material, and very durable under light exposure, it can capture light particles and convert them to electricity, or vice versa,” said Assistant Professor Sum Tse Chien, a Singaporean scientist at NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).

Credit: Nanyang Technological University

“By tuning the composition of the material, we can make it emit a wide range of colours, which also makes it suitable as a light emitting device, such as flat screen displays.”

The discovery was made when Assistant Professor Sum asked his postdoctoral researcher to shine a laser on the new Perovskite solar cell material they have been working on – and the solar cell glowed!

“What we have now is a solar cell material that can be made semi-translucent. It can be used as tinted glass to replace current windows, yet it is able to generate electricity from sunlight,” said Assistant Professor Nripan Mathews, another of the researchers responsible for this discovery.

“The fact that it can also emit light makes it useful as light decorations or displays for the facades of shopping malls and offices,” said Dr Mathews.

Thanks to an easy manufacturing process, this Perskovite material is five times less expensive than current Silicon-based solar cells.

“Such a versatile yet low-cost material would be a boon for green buildings. Since we are already working on the scaling up of these materials for large-scale solar cells, it is pretty straightforward to modify the procedures to fabricate light emitting devices as well. More significantly, the ability of this material to lase, has implications for on-chip electronic devices that source, detect and control light,” he added.

Solar plane set to fly round the world revealed

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 6:40pm

Solar Impulse 2, the plane set to fly around the world only using solar power has been revealed.

After 12 years of work, Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are one step closer to their revolutionary flight, set for 2015.

Solar Impulse 2 has been developed from learnings of Solar Impulse 1, the first aircraft ever to fly at night using solar power. The single-seater plane will use no fuel for the journey, which will take five days and nights. It has a wingspan of 236 ft and a weight of just 5000 pounds.

The plane has 17,000 solar cells built into the wings, powering four electric motors (17.5 CV each). During the day, solar cells charge lithium batteries weighing 2077 lbs to allow flight at night.

Credit: Solar Impulse

“A vision counts for nothing unless it is backed up by action. With 8 world records for Solar Impulse 1, the first solar aircraft capable of flying during the night, crossing two continents and flying over the United States, we have shown that clean technologies and renewable energies can accomplish the impossible,” said Bertrand Piccard, founder and Chairman of Solar Impulse.

“Now we need to go even further,” added André Borschberg, co-founder and CEO. “Solar Impulse 2 will have virtually unlimited autonomy, and now we need to make sure the pilot is as sustainable as his aircraft. This is why the round-the-world flight will be as much a human as a technological feat.”

The plane will begin test flights in May, and the round the world trip is due for March 2015. During the journey, Solar Impulse 2 will land every few days to change pilots and hold events to spread the word about solar to people around the world.

New group aims for 20,000 solar installations at schools by 2020

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 3:45am

A new National Solar Schools Consortium will facilitate resource sharing to teach students about solar and promote the use of solar energy at school campuses across the country.

The Consortium was launched at the recent National Science Teachers Association Conference, held in Boston. The group’s goals for the year 2020 include:

  • 20,000 solar installations at schools and universities.

  • 200 school districts with solar schools initiatives.

  • 2,000 member organizations

“It’s estimated that thousands of schools across America have already installed solar panels – but tens of thousands of others are still tethered to fossil fuels,” said Prof. Sharon Dannels, Chair of the Educational Leadership Department at the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

“According to a recent study of California schools, an average-sized 313-kilowatt solar system prevents the emission of an estimated 200 pounds of smog-forming pollution a year,” she added.

The Consortium is made up of solar businesses as well as leading environmental, educational, and solar-focused non-profit organizations. Founding members include Mosaic, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, and Women in Solar, sharing the vision that “every school in America will be equipped to give students meaningful learning experiences with renewable energy.”

“More and more schools across the country are discovering the benefits of going solar,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, creating thousands of new jobs, pumping billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and helping to reduce pollution. For schools, solar can provide a curriculum where science, economics and the environment all intersect,” he said.

Learn more at www.solarschools2020.org.

First Solar sets new thin-film efficiency world record

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 1:42pm

First Solar has set a new world record for thin-film PV panel efficiency, with its modules converting 17 percent of sunlight to energy.

The record was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is an increase over the previous record of 16.1 percent, also set by First Solar, in April 2013.

A First Solar installation in Sinzheim, Germany. Credit: First Solar

The company also recently set a world record in thin-film research cell efficiency of 20.4 percent, and they’ve been applying the technologies used in such research to their commercial product lines.

“This achievement demonstrates our ability to rapidly and reliably transfer research results to full-size modules. We can take CdTe innovation from the lab to production faster and more reliably than other technologies due to our robust, adaptable manufacturing processes and the accommodating nature of CdTe material technology,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer.

“Our R&D efforts are delivering technology that will quickly be scaled to real-world application as part of our integrated power plant systems, which are engineered to deliver the best performance, reliability and value for our customers.”

He also noted that improved efficiency also makes thin-film modules a more attractive option for going solar in commercial/industrial installations. “With the highest demonstrated thin-film module performance, we are positioned to pursue new deployment opportunities around the world,” he said.

Taking these technological advances into account, First Solar has now raised its efficiency targets, with targets for year-end lead-line production nameplate efficiency of 17.7 to 18.4 percent in 2016 and 18.1 to 18.9 percent in 2017.

National Women in Solar Initiative to encourage women to join the industry

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 1:19am

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer, have just launched the National Women in Solar Initiative.

The $1.2 million philanthropic partnership aims to encourage women to enter the fast-growing solar industry, and contributes to GRID Alternatives’ mission of providing work training and clean energy to underserved communities.

GRID Alternatives will provide training to over 1,000 women, as well as paid fellowships to work in the industry for a year to 20 women. Plus, they’ll host networking events, starting in Denver in late April.

“GRID Alternatives’ volunteer model provides women a pathway to access a variety of careers in an industry that added jobs at a rate of 20 percent last year,” said Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives.

Credit: GRID Alternatives

“Women’s talents and voices will be critical to the solar industry’s continued growth, and we are thrilled to be partnering with SunEdison to increase their participation in this field,” she added.

“Taking this step to create and advance the Women in Solar Initiative is not only the right thing to do, it is a smart business investment,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison.

“The continued success of the solar industry depends on recruiting and nurturing the best and brightest people, and this initiative is going to help do exactly that,” he added.

U.S. solar market grows over 40% in 2013

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:30am

In a new record for annual solar growth in the U.S., solar PV installations rose 41 percent from 2012 to reach 4,751 MW in 2013.

The news comes from Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013, a report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The additional installations brought the total PV capacity to over 12,000 MW, made up of over 440,000 solar electric systems.

Plus, an added 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) systems became operational last year, almost doubling the total installed capacity of CSP, now at 918 MW.

Credit: GTM Research and SEIA

According to the researchers, solar is now hitting the mainstream: second only to natural gas, solar was the second-largest source of electricity generating capacity installed in the U.S. last year – and the cost of installing solar fell by 15 percent throughout the year.

“2013 offered the U.S. solar market the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. “The combination of rapid customer adoption, grassroots support for solar, improved financing terms, and public market successes displayed clear gains for solar in the eyes of both the general population and the investment community.”

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to power more than 2.2 million homes – and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of our industry’s enormous potential,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.

“Last year alone, solar created tens of thousands of new American jobs and pumped tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.  In fact, more solar has been installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior.  That’s a remarkable record of achievement.”

Almost half – 44 percent – of last year’s new solar capacity was installed in the fourth quarter, making Q4 2013 by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market.

Looking ahead, GTM Research and SEIA predict 26% growth in the U.S. solar market next year, bringing annual installations up to nearly 6 GW and a cumulative total just below 20 GW.

Report: almost 10% of solar workers are veterans

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 2:47am

A new report finds that the solar industry employs a higher than average rate of veterans, a group often faced with high unemployment.

The findings show that as of November 2013, America’s solar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities.

Almost ten percent of all solar workers are veterans, which is promising considering over 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed.

Plus, the outlook is bright: more than 60 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers over the next year.

“Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available,” said Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52).

“The solar industry offers our veterans a unique opportunity to use the knowledge they learned serving our country in a rapidly growing sector that is vital to both our national security and economic future,” he added.

The study is from The Solar Foundation and Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security experts working to secure America with clean energy, and draws on data from The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2013.

“Through this collaboration, we are finally able to see, with hard numbers, what we have suspected for years: veterans are huge assets to the clean energy economy,” said Jaclyn Houser, Advocacy Director of Operation Free.

“They bring unparalleled technical skills and a relentless focus on accomplishing the mission. And they view their work in clean energy as a continuation of their service.”

It’s the first such study into veterans in the solar industry; Operation Free and The Solar Foundation aim to expand upon the findings to recruit and retain more veterans in solar.

SunEdison completes Defense Department’s largest solar project

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 1:44am

SunEdison and MIC Solar Energy Holdings have completed the largest PV solar installation at any U.S. Defense Department site, at Davis-Monathan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona.

The 16.4 MW ground-mounted PV installation covers 170 acres of land that was previously unused, with 57,000 modules that automatically track the sun’s path to maximise electricity generation.

The installation will provide about 35 percent of the base’s electricity for 25 years – that’s equivalent to powering over 5,100 homes.

The new installation is also expected to save the Air Force around half a million dollars on electricity costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 17,000 metric tons, per year.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Credit: SunEdison

“The Air Force, like other branches of the armed forces, is a perfect candidate for solar power because they have high electricity demands and often have large plots of underutilised land,” said Bob Powell, president of North America, SunEdison.

“We can help them use that land to generate significant cost savings that can be reinvested.”

The installation contributes to the Air Force’s aim of generating one quarter of its energy from renewable resources by 2025, a significant goal considering the Air Force is the federal government’s largest consumer of electricity.

2015 Solar Decathlon contestants announced

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 12:12pm

The U.S. Department of Energy has revealed the 20 teams of college students participating in the next Solar Decathlon.

The teams, hailing from the U.S. and abroad, will spend the next two years developing solar homes to be displayed at the 2015 Solar Decathlon held in Orange County Great Park, California.

The homes will be judged on factors like energy efficiency, architecture, engineering, innovation and affordability. The competition not only gives students hands on experience preparing them for the clean technology workforce, but also offers the public a chance to see renewable energy at work.

One of the homes at the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

“As President Obama made clear in the State of the Union address, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman.

“The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers, and entrepreneurs with the real world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy,” he added.

From 2002 until 2011, the event was held in Washington D.C. but has since moved to California to give a different set of visitors the chance to see solar energy in action first hand.

The following teams have been selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2015:

  • California Polytechnic State University
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Crowder College and Drury University
  • Lansing Community College and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • New York City College of Technology
  • Oregon Institute of Technology and Portland State University
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Saddleback College; Chapman University; and Irvine Valley College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
  • Yale University

“Since 2002, the Solar Decathlon has shown how hard work, imagination, and collaboration can energize collegiate teams to design, build and operate attractive, efficient, solar-powered homes,” said Tom Kimbis, vice president of executive affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“SEIA congratulates the twenty teams selected by the U.S. Department of Energy from schools representing more than a dozen states to compete in the 2015 Solar Decathlon and wishes success to them all,” he continued.

U.S. files trade complaint against India’s National Solar Mission

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 11:27pm

The U.S. government has filed a complaint against India with the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming aspects of the Indian government’s solar expansion plan break global trade rules.

As part of it’s National Solar Mission (NSM), which aims to deploy 20,000 MW of solar by 2022, the Indian government is requiring that solar power developers must use solar panels and cells made in India.

The NSM has three Phases, now entering Phase II. The first Phase also had a domestic content requirement that the U.S. filed a complaint about. But in Phase II, the requirement to use Indian-made solar extends to thin film technology, which makes up the bulk of U.S. solar exports to India and was exempt in Phase I.

A rooftop solar installation in Gujarat. Credit: Azure Power

“These domestic content requirements discriminate against U.S. exports by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured equipment instead of U.S. equipment,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

“These unfair requirements are against WTO rules, and we are standing up today for the rights of American workers and businesses,” he added.

The U.S. Trade Representative also noted that protectionist measures like a domestic content requirement harm the expansion of solar worldwide, not just in the U.S. – a view reiterated by the U.S. solar lobby group.

“These types of ‘localization’ measures not only are an unfair barrier to U.S. exports, but also raise the cost of solar energy, hindering deployment of solar energy around the world, including in India,” said Froman.

“Localization barriers are a growing threat to U.S. solar exports and clearly violate WTO rules.  Over the past three years, the U.S. government has provided India every opportunity to remove restrictive and unfair marketplace requirements,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“In the absence of any meaningful effort by India to find common ground, it’s now time for the WTO to finally resolve these long-festering issues.”

The U.S. has requested consultations, the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If after 60 days, India and the U.S. fail to resolve the issue through negotiations, the United States may ask the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel.

World’s largest solar thermal power plant now live

Sun, 02/16/2014 - 10:46pm

The world’s largest solar thermal power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System, is live and delivering power to Californians.

Covering around 3,500 acres of federal land near the California-Nevada border, the system has a field of thousands of mirror-like heliostats that direct sunlight to receivers on three 450-foot high towers. The heat then boils water to power a conventional steam turbine.

The system will produce 392 MW of electricity, enough power 140,000 California homes and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission. The power from Ivanpah will be sold to utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison Company.

“The Ivanpah project is a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the opening of the plant, which accounts for about one third of all solar thermal power generated in the U.S.

“As the President made clear in the State of the Union, we must continue to move toward a cleaner energy economy, and this project shows that building a clean energy economy creates jobs, curbs greenhouse gas emissions, and fosters American innovation,” he continued.

While the project $2.2 billion project is owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy, it’s also a recipient of a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department.

“This project was made possible by the successful public-private partnership between the Department of Energy and the project sponsors,” said Peter Davidson, Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office. “Through partnerships like this, we can continue to build an innovative clean energy economy in the U.S.”

Ivanpah was the first commercial scale solar power tower project in the U.S., and one of five CSP projects receiving a loan guarantee from the Energy Department.

The Energy Department’s Loan Program is also supporting innovative technologies like the country’s first solar thermal storage project and the first power tower with solar thermal storage.

“Congratulations to the Ivanpah team for achieving commercial operation,” said Rick Needham, Google’s director of energy and sustainability.

“At Google we invest in innovative renewable energy projects that have the potential to transform the energy landscape and help provide more clean power to businesses and homes around the world. Ivanpah is a shining example of such a project and we’re delighted to be a part of it.”

SolarCity to donate PV system to a school for each MW installed in U.S.

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 12:39am

Major U.S. solar firm SolarCity has started a nonprofit organization to help provide children around the world with clean energy to light their schools.

Through the Give Power Foundation, SolarCity will donate a PV solar power system and battery unit to a school without electricity for every megawatt of residential PV that SolarCity installs this year.

According to SolarCity, over 290 million children around the world attend elementary schools that don’t have electricity.

Not only will students have electricity during the day, but the schools can be community gathering places in the evening. The first installations are expected to be in Haiti, Mali, Malawi and Nepal.

SolarCity CEO, Lyndon Rive, installs a panel on a school in Nicaragua in 2013. Credit: SolarCity

“The United Nations has set the ambitious goal of ensuring that everyone in the world has access to electricity by 2030, while fighting climate change, and we are deeply committed to making this happen through the Give Power Foundation,” said Hayes Barnard, SolarCity’s Chief Revenue Officer and President of Give Power Foundation.

“Now every SolarCity customer will play a part in giving light to a community in need,” Barnard continued.

The Give Power Foundation will work with buildOn, a nonprofit that builds schools in some of the poorest countries in the world, to ensure that the systems are installed and maintained correctly.

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Apple could have a solar-powered watch in the works

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 12:00am

Rumor has it that Apple is developing a solar-powered wristwatch, according to a New York Times report.

That’s based on comments from insiders and former employees, and the fact that Apple recently posted a job advertisement seeking an engineer specialising in solar and has poached employees from battery tech companies like Tesla.

There have already been rumours of a curved-glass “smartwatch,” and in 2013 Apple patented a flexible battery, which could potentially be covered by a thin layer of solar cells.

While smartphone and portable computer technology has been advancing in leaps and bounds, battery technology has lagged. According to the Times, that’s because the safety of “experimental” batteries is not totally clear – and also because most currently popular devices, like cell phones, do not actually see enough sun as they are usually carried in pockets.

An iPhone connected to a solar battery. Credit: Reuters

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World’s largest solar farm cooperative operational in UK

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 1:00am

Westmill Solar Park, a 30-acre solar farm is on the border of Oxfordshire and Wiltshire in the UK, is offering locals a source of renewable energy and a clean investment opportunity.

The farm is own by the the Westmill Solar Co-operative’s 1,648 members. It’s the first large scale solar farm cooperative in the UK, and according to the group members, the largest in the world.

Over 20,000 PV panels make up the 5 MW farm, generating enough electricity to power 1,400 homes in Oxfordshire each year.

The group aims to not only combat climate change, but also provide locals with a positive, stable investment. And the group believes, according to its website, “ownership should be equitable – so no matter the level of investment, each member has the same number of votes at each year’s AGM.” That means each member has a say in how the park is run and how the revenue is spent.

Credit: Westmill Solar Cooperative

“We believe that local ownership and community ownership of renewable energy systems is a brilliant way to go forward. It’s about decentralising production. It’s about empowering people to have the opportunity to control and have a stake in the energy industry,” Adam Twine, director of the Westmill Solar Co-operative, recently told Voice of Russia.

“And it’s about keeping money from [big energy] businesses going round in the local economy. It’s a win-win all round,” he continued.

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How the Super Bowl went solar

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 11:55pm

New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, host to the recent Super Bowl clash between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, is a shining example of how solar is hitting the mainstream.

The ring atop the stadium, made of LED light bulbs, is powered by 1,350 building integrated PV panels installed by NRG Solar in 2012. The 314 kW system can generate 350,000 kW hours of electricity, equivalent to taking 53 cars off the road each year.

The Solar Ring is part of a suite of energy saving initiatives agreed to in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in 2009. MetLife Stadium opened in April 2010.

Credit: NRG Solar

In addition to using PV technology, the stadium is made in large part of recycled steel and concrete, has seating made partially from recycled plastic and scrap iron, low flow faucets, toilets and waterless urinals in restrooms, and food composting.

Each year, the stadium reports to the EPA. In 2013, MetLife Stadium reduced its carbon footprint by 234,834 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, which is analogous to eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from 12,086 homes.

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SolarCity to launch new solar investment platform

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 12:14am

SolarCity, one of the country’s largest solar leasing firms, will launch a new online investment platform to allow people to support and participate in solar in a new way.

“People want to support clean energy development. Customers are seeing the benefits of getting solar for their homes but they would like to participate in other ways as well,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.

Credit: SolarCity

“Previously, only institutional investors could participate in the financing of most solar assets,” said Rive. “With our investment platform, we’re hoping to allow far more individuals and smaller organizations to participate in the transformation to a cleaner, more distributed infrastructure.”

SolarCity has acquired financial technology firm Common Assets, which has developed the new investment platform that will allow individuals to invest in solar – an industry that isn’t just booming financially, but also provides a social and environmental benefit.

“Unlike crowdfunding and community solar approaches that typically aggregate investors to provide loans for individual projects, SolarCity plans to offer debt investments backed by diversified portfolios of solar assets,” said Tim Newell, CEO of Common Assets and now SolarCity’s vice president of financial products.

“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact—both for their own financial future and our global future—by investing in the shift to solar energy,” he said.

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PV equipment spending to rebound in 2015

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 1:00am

A new report predicts an uptick in spending on solar photovoltaic equipment starting in 2015, reaching up to $10 billion in 2017.

The data comes from the latest PV Equipment Quarterly report released by research firm NPD Solarbuzz.

“During 2012 and 2013, solar PV equipment suppliers were confronted by the sharpest downturn ever to hit the sector,” said Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz.

“The decline was caused by strong over-capacity that reshaped the entire PV industry in 2012, which resulted in manufacturers’ capital expenditure budgets being put on hold during 2013,” he continued.

Credit: PV Equipment Quarterly

Spending on solar PV equipment, including components like crystalline wafers and solar cells, fell to $1.73 billion last year – from a peak of $13 billion in 2011 – as the market adjusted to a global oversupply and decline in prices.

But NPD Solarbuzz predicts that by the end of the year, demand for PV panels will catch up with the industry’s production capacity. PV manufacturers will, in turn, require increased capacity to keep up with growing demand, which will flow on to the PV equipment supply chain.

And while crystalline silicon producers will still dominate the market, the report foresees opportunities for equipment manufacturers supplying the thin-film PV sector.

“Strong investments from new thin-film challengers are expected in the coming years, including Hanergy’s plan for several gigawatts of new CIGS capacity within China,” added Colville.

“New thin-film capacity is also likely to be built in the Middle East and Latin America, as emerging regions seek to enter the PV manufacturing arena and differentiate themselves from crystalline silicon products made in Asia.”

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World’s largest solar bridge goes live in London

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:00am

The world’s largest solar bridge, London’s Blackfriars bridge, has gone live and is powering half of Blackfriars train station. 

The bridge, which crosses the Thames River, was originally built in 1886 but has been upgraded by the London rail network as part of the overhaul of the adjacent train station.

Credit: Network Rail

Solarcentury installed 4,400 solar photovoltaic panels on the bridge’s roof, covering almost 65,000 square feet, the 1.1 MW system making it the world’s largest solar bridge. The panels will provide half of the train station’s energy and save over one million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Rail commuters celebrated with a tea party,with around 79,000 cups of tea representing how much tea can be brewed each day with the electricity generated from the new PV system.

 

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Australia’s largest PV solar plant under construction

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:00pm

First Solar has begun construction on the Nyngan Solar Plant, which will be Australia’s largest utility-scale solar plant. The project will employ 300 people during construction, and will be run by by one of the country’s largest renewable energy operators, AGL.

The 1,350,000 advanced thin-film PV modules will cover 250 hectares of land near the town of Nyngan, in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

The plant is supported by the state government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has been in planning for four years, and has an expected completion date of mid-2015.

Once complete, the 102 MW Nyngan Solar Plant will produce enough electricity to power more than 33,000 homes, offsetting over 203,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. That’s equivalent to taking more than 53,000 cars off the roads.

Credit: AGL

“Breaking ground at the Nyngan solar project is a significant milestone for the advancement of Australia’s utility-scale solar industry,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific.

“Each project that First Solar constructs builds acceptance of and confidence in utility-scale solar as an effective source of power generation in Australia. As the Nyngan project develops, we look forward to seeing its impact, not only in generating important local job opportunities, but also in strengthening the solar industry’s position within Australia’s energy mix.”

First Solar will begin construction on another utility-scale solar project supported by ARENA and the NSW government in Broken Hill later in 2014.

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