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jpak

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 27,455

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Why Did Leading Solar Panel Maker Solyndra Fail?

http://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/Environment_380/Why_Did_Leading_Solar_Panel_Maker_Solyndra_Fail.shtml

HealthNewsDigest.com) - Solyndra was a California-based maker of thin-film solar cells affixed to cylindrical panels that could deliver more energy than conventional flat photovoltaic panels. The company’s novel system mounted these flexible cells, made of copper, indium, gallium and diselenide (so-called CIGS), onto cylindrical tubes where they could absorb energy from any direction, including from indirect and reflected light.

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What caused this shooting star of alternative energy to burn out so spectacularly after just six years in business and such a large investment? Part of what made Solyndra’s technology so promising was its low cost compared to traditional photovoltaic panels that relied on once costlier silicon. “When Solyndra launched, processed silicon was selling at historic highs, which made CIGS a cheaper option,” reports Rachel Swaby in Wired Magazine. “But silicon producers overreacted to the price run-up and flooded the market.” The result was that silicon prices dropped 90 percent, eliminating CIGS’ initial price advantage.

Another problem for Solyndra was the falling price of natural gas—the cleanest of the readily available fossil fuels—as extractors implemented new technologies including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to get at formerly inaccessible domestic reserves in shale rock. In 2001 shale gas accounted for two percent of U.S. natural gas output, while today that number is closer to 30 percent. The result of this increased supply is that the price of natural gas has fallen by some 77 percent since 2008, meaning utilities can produce electricity from it much cheaper as well. “Renewables simply can’t compete,” adds Swaby.

The final blow to Solyndra was China’s creation of a $30 billion credit line for its nascent solar industry. “The result: Chinese firms went from making just six percent of the world’s solar cells in 2005 to manufacturing more than half of them today,” says Swaby. U.S. market share is now just seven percent.

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The heated debate over solar power (Georgia)

http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2012/02/24/your-morning-jolt-the-heated-debate-over-solar-power/?cxntfid=blogs_political_insider_jim_galloway

Clearly, a bill to encourage the use of solar power is now the hottest item in the state Capitol.

SB 401, sponsored by state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, originally had been shunted by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, where it was to be studied to death.

So on Thursday, an impatient Carter — opposed by Georgia Power, electrical membership corporations, and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — brought SB 401 to the Senate committee that oversees utility legislation, where many think the measure ought to have been brought in the first place. Carter attempted to attach his bill to another piece of legislation intended to allow paranoid homeowners to opt out of wireless metering systems.

The concept offered by Carter is complicated, but my AJC colleague Kristina Torres has this explanation:

The most controversial aspect of Senate Bill 401 would allow outside companies to install, own and maintain alternative energy systems, in return for customers agreeing to a long-term contract to pay for the electricity generated by that system.

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Chapel Hill company plans 15 solar farms this year (NC)

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/25/1881700/company-plans-15-solar-farms-this.html

CHAPEL HILL -- The thicket of aluminum crossbars, rising shoulder-high and gleaming in the sunlight, could easily fill several football fields. In less than two months, this geometrical framework sprouting in Chatham County will be covered over by an indigo meadow of solar panels.

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Strata Solar plans 15 industrial-scale solar farms for completion this year - including three in Wake and Chatham counties - each with a power capacity of about 5 megawatts. Strata Solar executives are closing in on a deal that would be the state's biggest solar farm, at about 20 megawatts.

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The cost of solar panels, including installation, has fallen from about $9 a watt to $3 a watt this year, and could fall to $1 a watt in several years, Wilhelm said.

"If we keep the current trend going, we are not going to be dependent on major subsidies by 2016," Wilhelm said.

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Wind energy: Iowa model for success

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72954.html

Low, stable tax rates generate jobs and economic growth. This idea has been the bedrock of conservative economic ideology for decades. One industry that represents this essential conservative principle is U.S. wind energy.

Low taxes in the form of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind have driven as much as $20 billion of private investment a year into the U.S. economy. Wind power is now one of America’s biggest sources of new electricity and fastest growing manufacturing sectors. It has accounted for more than a third of all new U.S. electric generation in recent years.

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I know wind power’s success story firsthand. Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, wind supports as many as 5,000 Iowa jobs, and $11 million in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. Iowa wind has prompted $300 million in private investment in Iowa manufacturing facilities.

This success story is spreading across the country. Low taxes have helped wind’s manufacturing sector grow 12-fold — to more than 400 factories in 43 states. Wind industry leaders know how to expand this business and provide more U.S. jobs.

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Solar Growth Spurt: Good News -- At Least for Now (New Jersey)

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/0215/0058/

Speculation about an imminent collapse in the solar sector in New Jersey seems to be off the mark, at least for now.

Last month, the state set an all-time record for the number of solar systems installed, with approximately 84 megawatts of new capacity developed. That brings the total installed capacity in New Jersey to nearly 654 megawatts.

The development comes at a time when some in the industry worry the flourishing solar business in New Jersey could be headed for a fall, largely due the steep drop in prices for the electricity the systems generate.

The surge in new solar installations raises the question: Is the market stabilizing or is this burst of activity simply a reflection of the fact that profitable federal incentives are running out soon?

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SDG&E Adds 300 New Megawatts of Renewable Energy to Rapidly Growing "Green" Portfolio

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sdge-adds-300-new-megawatts-of-renewable-energy-to-rapidly-growing-green-portfolio-2012-02-16

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced that it has entered into two, long-term contracts to purchase 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy for its rapidly expanding portfolio of emissions free power.

The first of the new agreements is a 20-year contract to purchase 100 MW from Manzana Wind LLC, a 189 MW wind power facility currently under construction in the wind-rich Tehachapi region near Rosamond, Calif. Manzana Wind LLC, is a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.

When completed in late 2012, the project will be comprised of 126, 1.5 MW wind turbines spread across 4,600 acres. The project represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions comparable to removing more than 21,500 cars off of California's roads for one year.

SDG&E also has announced signing a 25-year agreement to purchase 200 MW of energy from the Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial Valley, Calif. The transaction was conducted with a subsidiary of 8minutenergy Renewables of Folsom, Calif., which has a joint development agreement with AES Solar of Arlington Va., to develop and build Mount Signal Solar. The first 100 MW of energy from the photovoltaic solar energy facility is expected to be on-line by mid-2013 with project completion slated for late 2013. When completed, the project will be comprised of photovoltaic modules supported by single-axis tracking structures. The electric output will be transported to market along SDG&E's 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line that is currently under construction and slated for completion later this year.

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Wind Power Market Rose to 41 Gigawatts in 2011, Led by China

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-07/wind-power-market-rose-to-41-gigawatts-in-2011-led-by-china.html

The global wind power market rose 6 percent to 41 gigawatts last year, led by China, which captured more than two-fifths of the total, the Global Wind Energy Council said today in a report.

China installed 18 gigawatts of turbines in 2011, followed by the U.S. with 6.8 gigawatts and India’s 3 gigawatts. Germany, the U.K., Canada and Spain followed, according to the Brussels- based industry lobby group.

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“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice,” GWEC Secretary-General Steve Sawyer said in an e-mailed statement. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound.”

Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide. The 6.8 gigawatts installed in the U.S. last year could power almost 2 million American homes, and the industry is on its way to providing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, according to the statement.

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India’s Solar Power Revolution Could Have Global Effect (20,000 MW by 2022)

http://theenergycollective.com/energyrefuge/75773/india-s-solar-power-revolution-could-have-global-effect


India has a Solar Mission to install 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. Solar electricity is already cheaper than electricity produced with diesel generators.

These optimistic figures from India, the second most populated country in the world, has led the New Scientist magazine to write an in-depth article about it saying that India’s solar power revolution could have a ripple effect across the globe.

Solar panel prices fell by nearly 50 percent in 2011 and now they cost just one-quarter of what they did in 2008. This is good news for a good slice of the Indian population, one quarter of which lacks access to electricity. But electricity connection is not reliable, hence the use of diesel generators as backup power, increasing India’s share of greenhouse gases.

Solar electricity has fallen to 8.78 rupees per kilowatt hour (against 17 rupees for diesel-generated power) due to falling production costs. Acording to a Bloomberg News Energy Finance specialist, solar is now cheaper than diesel wherever it’s as sunny as Spain, which includes many parts of the world such as chunks of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Analysts say that by 2015 solar electricity will be as cheap as grid electricity in half of all countries.

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Coming to the Jersey Shore: Wind Turbines

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/02/03/coming-to-the-jersey-shore-wind-turbines/

The Obama administration is working to fast-track wind farms off the coast of New Jersey, with plans to allow wind-energy developers into the area by the end of the year.

As WSJ’s Ryan Tracy reported Friday, the leases to develop offshore wind turbines in New Jersey would be the first under a program designed to speed the development process. A section of coastal Maryland is also included in the plan, and the Delaware and Virginia coasts could be next. The U.S. doesn’t yet have any turbines offshore.

The move to speed wind-farm development off New Jersey will still take years to pay off:

“There’s a whole lot more work ahead of us to get the project in the water,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, chief administrative officer for Deepwater Wind, which is backing a wind farm off New Jersey’s coast with Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. The goal is to bring the wind farm online by 2017, Mr. Grybowski said.

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Residential solar may reach grid parity in California in 2015

http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/residential-solar-may-reach-grid-parity-in-california-in-2015-020312/

California is the nation’s largest solar market in the nation, thanks to its incentives and rebates, which include a 33 percent renewable energy standard and the Million Solar Roofs programs.

And with a number of the largest solar projects in the world planned to start supplying utilities with power beginning to come online (at least partially) this year, it’s no wonder that the market has reduced prices to near grid parity levels. But now some are saying the cost of residential solar could reach grid parity by as early as mid-2014.

Environment California’s Research & Policy Center estimated that when the price of installed solar falls to $5.25 per watt, without rebates, that it will have reached grid parity in the market.

“If progress continues at the same rate it has over the past four years, residential prices will reach this cost-competitive position without rebates in mid-2014. Outside investment analysts place this milestone at around 2016,” the center said in its recent report, Building a Brighter Future.

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