Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why China is building a massive solar power plant in the middle of nowhere?

FROM: QUARTZ by Todd Woody 12.31.13  Back in 2009 when China announced it would build the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant in the Mongolian desert, it choose a US company, First Solar, to construct the 2,000-megawatt (MW) project. Yesterday, China unveiled plans for another huge solar power plant, a 1,000 MW project in the remote Xinjiang Region. This time, though, a homegrown company, Trina Solar, won the contract.  That marks a significant shift in the global solar market, one that will accelerate in 2014. Over the past two years, China has emerged as one of the biggest markets for photovoltaic panels in addition to being the world’s solar manufacturing hub. In an effort to wean itself from coal-fired power polluting its cities, the government this year announced ambitious renewable energy targets, including the construction of 10,000 MW of solar projects.  The new policy came as China’s photovoltaic panel makers faced falling revenues and multibillion-dollar deficits after embarking on a manufacturing boom that allowed them to corner the global solar market but sent prices plummeting. Projects such as the power plant in Turpan Prefecture announced yesterday help soak up China’s excess manufacturing capacity while creating jobs for local workers. As part of the deal with local government, Trina will build a factory in Turpan.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Utilities fight back as rooftop solar heats up

http://bloom.bg/1g3jWt4 By Mark Chediak, Christopher Martin and Ken Wells Bloomberg News If you wonder why America’s utilities are rattled by the explosive growth in rooftop solar — and are pushing back — William Walker has a story for you. A flip-flop wearing Walker stands in his driveway pointing to a ubiquitous neighborhood feature – solar panels on the roofs of five of six houses nearby. He lives in Ewa Beach, a development on the sultry leeward coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu built on land cleared of sugar cane fields. Shade is scarce and residents here call their homes “hot boxes,” requiring almost round-the-clock air conditioning. Hawaii, which imports pricey oil to power its electricity grid, has the highest utility rates in the nation — at 37 cents a kilowatt-hour, they’re more than double California and triple the national average. With bills for 1,600 square foot houses like these running as high as $400 a month, solar is seen as less a green statement than an economic no-brainer given state and federal tax credits for as much as 65 percent of installation costs. Almost every day since Walker and his wife Mi Chong moved in last April, solar installers came rapping on the door, hawking a rooftop system. They finally bought one: an 18-panel, $35,000 installation producing 5.9 kilowatts of power financed for $305 a month. It would be connected to the grid under a system known as net metering that essentially lets residents deduct the value of their solar-produced electricity from their power bill and even be paid for electricity in excess of that.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Google Glass Does Solar Panel Installs in the California Sun

WIRED Magazine. By Klint Finley Michael Chagala. Photo: Sullivan Solar. You might think of Google Glass as one of those tech creations that’s more intriguing than practical. You might see computerized eyewear as a Silicon Valley nerd fantasy that’s unlikely to change the way the rest of the world works. You would not be alone. But that’s not how Michael Chagala sees it. Chagala is the director of IT at Sullivan Solar Power, which is slipping Google Glass onto the heads of the field technicians who install its solar panels atop homes and businesses across Southern California. Because every building is unique, these field techs need ready access to all sorts of specs and plans describing the job at hand. In the past, they’ve carried three-ring binders onto the roof, but those are so hard to handle — particularly when the wind is blowing pages. They’ve lugged laptops up there too, but that comes with its own problems, including, well, the sun. So Chagala and company are switching to Glass, allowing their techs to browse documents simply by looking through the eyewear. For the most part, they can do this without using their hands — though you do have to tap the side of the glasses to move from doc to doc. “When you have someone on a roof, safety is your primary concern,” Chagala says. “Having both hands free is significant.” Though Google Glass has limitations — including an undeniable geekiness — it can be quite useful. Some are exploring how it can serve people with autism and other disabilities. Tech outfits such as Workday and Fiberlink are building Glass apps for corporate workers. Now Sullivan Solar is taking the digital eyewear into the world of blue collar work. Lead by Chagala, the company has built a custom Glass app that taps into a database housing its customer records, information about particular job sites, and its inventory of parts and equipment. But its technicians also will use other tools available with the eyewear. A field worker can, say, call headquarters with questions or transmit live video of a roof installation to get some feedback.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Are Utilities Wilting From Heat of Solar Competition?

FROM National Journal. By Clare Foran. December 23, 2013. Solar energy has become increasingly powerful. Its rise to the top, however, hasn't been without a few bumps along the way. Regulatory battles over solar power payment models played out in several states this year. And as the dust settles, solar providers are claiming victory. Utilities, on the other hand, are trying to reframe the conversation entirely by insisting they aren't an enemy of solar. Much of the debate so far has centered around a policy on the books in 43 states called net-metering. Net-metering allows rooftop solar owners to sell excess electricity back to the grid, with utilities issuing full retail credit to the customer based on the amount of power they provide. Utilities have started pushing to scale back or get rid of net-metering, calling it a subsidy that solar has outgrown. Solar-industry groups, on the other hand, have resisted the fight to dismantle net-metering and say it's an equitable way of paying for power generation. In a series of high-profile cases this year in Arizona, California, Idaho, and Louisiana, state lawmakers and regulatory commissioners sided with industry and moved to either uphold or strengthen net-metering. "The national story right now is quite clear," said Bryan Miller, the president of the Alliance for Solar Choice, a solar-advocacy organization. "There have now been four major verdicts on net-metering, and in every case proposed regulatory changes to the policy have been rejected." A second point of contention has been whether utilities should charge solar customers extra. Utilities say additional fees are needed to defray the cost of grid upkeep. Opponents say they're unfair.
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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Pros Pick Four Solar Stocks For 2014

By Tom Konrad, Contributor. FORBES. 12/20/2013. With the average solar stock having doubled in 2013, it’s much harder to find bargains in the solar industry than it was a year ago. But two of the professional green money managers think there is still value to be found. When I asked them for their top three green stock picks for 2014, they came back with two solar picks each. You can also read about my panel’s green income stock picks and green information technology picks the earlier articles in this series. Shawn Kravetz is the solar expert on my panel. He is President of Esplanade Capital LLC, a Boston based investment management company one of whose funds is focused on solar and companies impacted by the emergence of solar. Last year, he had the top pick of all my panelists, Amtech Systems (NASD:ASYS), which was up 160%. This year, Kravetz says “Finding extreme values is challenging” but he still was able to find two that he considers “quite compelling.” Shawn Kravetz His first pick is Meyer Burger (Swiss:MBTN), a “Leading solar equipment manufacturer whose business has finally troughed.” Kravetz thinks the company’s business is about to make a “substantial turn” for the better, but the stock has hardly advanced despite the large increase in price for other solar stocks. Even after a strong 2013, Kravetz says “Global solar installations will likely grow 20% in 2014. With demand finally nearing an equilibrium with cost efficient supply, this will drive leading players to modernize and expand. The hangover of the solar nuclear winter and a poorly timed acquisition of competitor Roth & Rau is ending, leaving Meyer Burger extremely well positioned for 2014.”
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Utility-Scale Solar Power To Be Cost Competitive With Natural Gas By 2025

By William Pentland, Contributor. 12/3/13.  Utility-scale solar power is poised to become cost competitive with natural gas by 2025, according to a new report by Lux Research. The report, “Cheap Natural Gas: Fracturing Dreams of a Solar Future,” evaluated the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for unsubsidized solar, natural gas, and hybrid solar/gas technologies through 2030 under a range of future natural gas price scenarios and across 10 different parts of the world. The bottom-up cost model assumed a 39% decrease in utility-scale system costs by 2030 and a delay in shale gas production due to anti-fracking policies in Europe and high capital costs in South America. The key take-away: the LCOE for unsubsidized utility-scale solar globally will be only about $0.02/kWh above the price of power produced by combined cycle gas turbines by 2025. “On the macroeconomic level, a ‘golden age of gas’ can be a bridge to a renewable future as gas will replace coal until solar becomes cost competitive without subsidies,” said Ed Cahill, an associate at New York City-based Lux Research and the lead author of the report. “On the micro-economic level, solar integrated with natural gas can lower costs and provide stable output.”
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Move over wind? Solar energy market ‘exploding’ in Iowa

Posted on 12/18/2013 by Karen Uhlenhuth Workers install solar panels on a hog farm near Grinnell, Iowa earlier this year. (Photo by Moxie Solar) Iowa is well established as a national leader in wind energy and biofuels. And now the state is poised for serious growth in solar as well. “The market is exploding in Iowa,” says Tim Dwight, a former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL star who has become one of his home state’s most visible solar energy advocates. Homeowners, farmers, businesses and at least one school district in Iowa are going solar. Also, over the past year, several municipal utilities and rural electric co-ops have put up solar arrays, inviting customers to buy a share of the power generated. “Solar growth in Iowa is where wind was in the first decade of the 2000s,” says Bill Haman of the Iowa Energy Center. “We saw an explosion in wind.” In Frytown, just outside Iowa City, the Farmers Electric Cooperative has been steadily adding on to a community solar project established on its property in 2011. And a few weeks ago, the co-op announced plans to put together a 750-kilowatt solar farm, which would be the largest solar-energy project in the state. It’s projected to meet about 15 percent of the co-op’s demand for power. In September, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities put an 18-kilowatt array on the roofs of several buildings at its headquarters in Ankeny. And in November, several organizations snagged a $1 million grant from the Department of Energy to streamline local permitting and zoning codes, and improve standards for connecting solar generation to the grid. The aim: to cut the time and costs of adding solar generation. State lawmakers who attended a recent solar tour have pledged to help.
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Haiti switches on to solar power as sustainable electricity solution

Tuesday 17 December 2013.  By Rashmee Roshan Lall in Port-au-Prince.  Solar energy is clean, green and can help to solve Haiti's power crisis. Now the world's largest solar hospital is lighting the way.  The new hospital in Mirebalais has 1,800 rooftop solar panels. Solar energy could offer a solution to Haiti's power problems. Mirebalais is just an hour's drive north-east of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, but in terms of technological distance travelled, the town might as well be on another planet. On moonless nights, much of the capital is dark; its shacks and makeshift roadside stalls are lit only by flickering candles or small kerosene lamps. It could hardly be otherwise in a country where only about 20% of the 10 million population are estimated to have access to electricity, the lowest percentage in the Caribbean. But Mirebalais is home to a new, well-lit public hospital that can hum with activity round the clock. Seven months after the world's largest solar hospital opened its doors, its 1,800 rooftop solar panels have generated enough energy to charge more than 19,000 electric cars, run six surgical suites, attend to 60,029 patients and safely deliver more than 800 babies. "The number of deliveries is a pretty substantial fact considering that approximately three-fourths of women in rural Haiti give birth at home. The hospital is helping to meet a substantial unmet need," said Jeff Marvin, of Partners in Health, which built the Mirebalais facility in partnership with Haiti's health ministry. For Haiti, the hospital is a shining symbol of what the future might look like, powered by the island's plentiful sunshine. More than 60% of electricity generation is unsustainably based on imported diesel, mainly from Venezuela. The overwhelming majority of Haitians rely on charcoal and wood for fuel, contributing to rampant tree-felling that has reduced forest cover to the perilous level of 2%. The search for cleaner, greener alternatives has become increasingly urgent. This is driving an initiative to literally light up Haitian lives, especially in poor off-grid areas such as the camps that sprang up around Port-au-Prince after the devastating 2010 earthquake, as well as deep in the rural hinterland.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Commercial Solar Hot Water Rebates & Tax Credits - Yields Profits for Apartment Owners in SoCal

By Ted Bavin. December 16th, 2013. For the first time in history, commercial solar hot water systems will pay for themselves in 1-3 years, yielding huge cost savings over gas. This is due to simultaneous incentives (cash rebate and tax credit) now being offered by the state of California and the Federal government. Ted Bavin, owner of All Valley Solar in Los Angeles, a true solar expert with over 30 years in the business, states, “this perfect storm of incentives has aligned to make this the most profitable time for businesses and apartment owners to invest in solar hot water systems. By the end of 2013, All Valley Solar will have secured over $940,000 in CSI rebates for SoCalGas customers; and this will continue to be a very popular program into 2014.” Eligibility for the commercial solar rebate includes: owners of multi-family apartment buildings and condos, schools, government buildings, military barracks, restaurants, Laundromats, food processors and other commercial hot water users. All Valley Solar are the solar experts, we are listed on google search under the keywords: solar Los Angeles, solar North Hollywood, solar hot water Los Angeles, solar thermal los angeles, solar companies los angeles, los angeles solar installer, los angeles solar panels.

So let’s take a look at how the economics of this “perfect storm” of incentives works. First, the Gas Company, through the California Solar Initiative, pays an average of 50% to 60% of the total cost (received within 30 days of completion). Then the IRS pays you back another 30% as a tax credit, even toward AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax). Finally, bonus depreciation lets you write half of it off in 2013, with the other half depreciated over the next five years.  But in order to reap these benefits, the first step is to find a competent solar thermal contractor. Nine out of ten Internet search results will yield solar electric contractors who know little to nothing about solar thermal… but they may be hungry for business, so beware!  The CSI Thermal website (http://www.csithermal.com) has a map showing all the rebated projects in your area and the company that installed each system. Those companies may be looked up on the CA Contractors State License Board website (https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx) to ascertain their experience, specialty and whether there are any active complaints against them.  Bavin says, “look for a company with a C46 license (solar) with at least 15 years of experience, not just a C10 (electrical), C36 (plumbing), C39 (roofing), or B (general). Keep in mind, however, that the C46 (solar) license encompasses both thermal and photovoltaic electric solar disciplines, and most contractors are masters of one or the other...not usually both.” Bavin also suggests that “when hiring a company to install a solar hot water system, ask for a list of at least ten Thermal multi-family installation references and contact at least three.” Additional Tip: the six digit CA State License number is sequential from date of licensing, so the lower the number the longer the experience.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Wearable Solar Clothing: fashion with embedded solar panels to charge your cell phone

. Wearable Futures: flaps in this range of clothing by Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen open up to reveal solar panels, enabling the wearer to become a walking mobile phone charger (+ movie).  Pauline van Dongen collaborated with Christiaan Holland from the HAN University of Applied Sciences and solar energy expert Gert Jan Jongerden on the Wearable Solar project, which aims to integrate photovoltaic technology into comfortable and fashionable clothing. "Wearable Solar is about integrating solar cells into fashion, so by augmenting a garment with solar cells the body can be an extra source of energy," Van Dongen told Dezeen at the Wearable Futures conference in London. "It's really about the true integration of technology and fashion, which can transcend the realm of gadgets."  The dress features 72 flexible cells attached to panels on the front of the garment that can be folded outwards to capture sunlight. Forty-eight rigid crystal solar panels are incorporated into leather flaps on the jacket's shoulders and waist so they can be revealed when the sun shines and hidden when not in use. A standard charging plug connects the solar panels directly to a mobile device, and Van Dongen claimed that a garment exposed to direct sunlight for one hour could capture enough energy to charge a typical smartphone to 50 percent capacity.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 is a ‘record-shattering’ year for solar power in America

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bakersfield Saluted As One Of Calif's Top Solar Cities

 . BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - While gas prices are on the rise, it is no surprise that people are turning to alternatives.  Bakersfield is among the top cities in the state when it comes to installing solar panels.  According to a report by the website Sunible, Bakersfield had t he second-most solar installations in the first quarter of the year, right behind San Diego and ahead of Fresno. Los Angeles was in fourth. Sunible reports nearly 4,000 homes in Kern County used solar power and many of the leading solar cities are modest median-income communities.
Posted: 12/10/2013  Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today saluted Bakersfield for becoming one of California’s top solar cities. PG&E also recognized its customer, First Congregational Church, UCC, whose solar installation was instrumental in Bakersfield’s ranking. The finding, recently announced in an Environment California report, rated Bakersfield 6th in the state in solar generation with 16 megawatts (MW). First Congregational Church, UCC, one of 1,943 PG&E customers that installed solar in Bakersfield, contributes to Bakersfield’s solar generation by supplying 44 kilowatts of clean, solar power to its facilities. First Congregational Church, UCC will receive $50,000 in rebate incentives from PG&E through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program. “With our new solar installation, we are realizing real energy savings through a clean and reliable source of energy,” said Pastor David Stabenfeldt, First Congregational Church, UCC. “This would not have been possible without rebate incentives provided by PG&E and the California Solar Initiative. We are proud to help Bakersfield become one of California’s top 10 solar cities.” By interconnecting solar customers, PG&E is able to provide cleaner energy to the state and help lower the cost of solar energy systems. To help further drive this effort, PG&E provides rebate incentives through the CSI program that will help bring the benefit of carbon-free power to residential and business customers.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

US solar power sector small but growing: Solar Thermal growing at 3.6% per year

US President Barack Obama speaks on his energy policies following a tour of the Copper Mountain Solar Project, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country in Boulder City, Nevada on March 21, 2012US President Barack Obama speaks on his energy policies following a tour of the Copper Mountain Solar Project in Boulder City, Nevada on March 21, 2012US President Barack Obama speaks on his energy policies following a tour of the Copper Mountain Solar Project, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country in Boulder City, Nevada on March 21, 2012US President Barack Obama speaks on his energy policies following a tour of the Copper Mountain Solar Project in Boulder City, Nevada on March 21, 2012.  Solar panels cover the roof of a Sam's Club store in Glendora, California that was toured by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wal-Mart officials before their press conference on Earth Day, April 22, 2009Solar panels cover the roof of a Sam's Club store in Glendora, California that was toured by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wal-Mart officials before their press conference on Earth Day, April 22, 2009

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at the installation the last of 1,727 solar panels on the rooftop of the Staples Center sports complex in Los Angeles, California on October 28, 2008 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at the installation the last of 1,727 solar panels on the rooftop of the Staples Center sports complex in Los Angeles on October 28, 2008  Solar power, only a minuscule part of the energy mix in the United States, is getting a boost from cheap panels, growing acceptance by large companies and chances for homeowners to rent solar systems.  Analysts expect a phenomenal growth for renewable solar power over the next two decades, after huge gains in the past two years: 60 percent growth in 2012 and 30 percent on top of that this year.  Heavily reliant on oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, the United States only gets 12 percent of its power from renewables, of which solar is the smallest part, less than one percent.   But the sector is expanding faster than any. There's no question, says Charles Ebinger of the Brookings Institution, that solar energy "will continue to grow quite dramatically."   The US Energy Information Administration predicts that photovoltaics -- the semiconductor technology that converts sunlight into electricity -- will grow 11.6 percent a year through 2040. On top of that, it also predicts 3.6 percent annual growth for solar thermal energy, which uses vapor from water heated by the sun to drive turbines.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Los Angeles Goes All In on Rooftop Solar Panels - CLEAN LA Solar PV

first-project_CleanLA Solar 
By Bill DiBenedetto | July 10th, 2013 Don’t think it’s possible to provide clean and renewable energy that creates jobs and fuels private investment? Think again and then check out CLEAN LA Solar.  A program developed and supported by the Los Angeles Business Council, a coalition of environmental, business, health and research organizations, and the CLEAN LA Coalition, it’s the largest urban rooftop solar program in the nation. Its five-year goal is to power more than 34,000 homes while creating some 4,500 construction, installation, design engineering, maintenance and administrative jobs in Los Angeles.   CLEAN LA Solar allows businesses and commercial property-owners to generate energy for the city’s power grid through rooftop solar panels, and then sell the power to the Department of Water and Power (DWP). This policy is known as a feed-in-tariff (FiT), and is a great way to promote clean, solar energy.  California has a legislative requirement to generate 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, most of L.A.’s renewable power is generated outside the L.A. basin and transmitted inefficiently to customers. By contrast, the CLEAN LA Solar program will provide incentives for clean-energy production within city limits. The result will be more efficient power delivery and a reduction in the city’s reliance on polluting, coal-fired power plants. The FiT also does not require new or upgraded transmission lines.  The goal is to generate 150 megawatts of solar electricity, or enough power for 30,000 homes. The business council hopes to attract investments totaling about $500 million from a group of companies that want to invest in the city’s push to go green. The program’s first project site is an 80-unit apartment building in North Hollywood that went online with 336 250-watt panels (for 84 kW of installed capacity) on June 26, 2013.
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Arizona's Solar Water Heating Industry on Verge of Collapse without Incentives

By Ryan Randazzo The Republic | azcentral.com Sat Dec 7, 2013. For the veterans of Arizona’s small solar water-heating industry, staring down an industry-crippling crisis is nothing new. Dozens of companies that installed about 130,000 solar water heaters in the state in the early 1980s were wiped out overnight when the government cut federal tax credits in 1985. Few companies withstood that blow, although dozens sprouted in 2005 when federal tax credits for the industry were reinstated. Now another potentially devastating policy change looms as the state’s biggest utility has ended its incentives for solar water heating. Arizona Public Service Co. is required to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, and to accomplish that goal, it has provided rich incentives for rooftop solar electric and other technologies, including water heating. But because APS is ahead of schedule reaching its renewable-energy mandates, it has stopped offering incentives for solar water heating. The money the utility provided to offset the initial cost of the rooftop systems ran out in September, and APS is not seeking to repeat the offering in 2014. Along with federal and state tax credits, the utility incentives created a boom in recent years among the solar water-heating and solar electric, or photovoltaic, installations. The cost to manufacture photovoltaic solar panels has dropped dramatically, allowing that industry to thrive despite eliminating its APS incentives. Solar water heating, though much more affordable than solar electric, has not been able to reduce manufacturing costs as much and remains a difficult sell without incentives.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kenya, Africa: Schneider Electric's Solar technology for producing electricity, drinking water and heat simultaneously

Schneider Electric a market leader in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, inaugurated the MiCROSOL project aims to develop a single, modular standard technology for producing electricity, drinking water and heat simultaneously, primarily to benefit micro-industries located in rural areas of countries with high levels of sunshine, especially in Africa.  MiCROSOL is based on the principle of cogeneration of electricity and heat, applying a new approach to a technology that is already widespread - solar thermodynamics. The solution focuses its constraints on the design of thermal storage that only uses environmentally-friendly products.  Its purpose is to simultaneously meet three basic needs regularly expressed by these people: Access to electricity that is reliable, efficient and inexpensive; Clean drinking water that is produced economically and consistently; and Heat generation that is continuous and environmentally sound. Microsol can help micro-producers in the food, textile and paper industries with processing their raw materials by automating some of their processes (e.g. drying, washing, pasteurization, etc.). In the tertiary sector, Microsol can help the tourist industry by providing the energy needed for many premium services: electricity for HVAC, refrigeration or security; heat for hot water, laundry or heating; water for drinking or cooking.  Located in a rural village, Microsol can also meet some or all of the production needs of local residents: water supply, electrification of communal areas, and so forth.

A Microsol solution produces 50 MWh/year of electricity, 1,000 m3/year of drinking water, and around 800 MWh/year of thermal energy. The solution has an expected life of at least 20 years. "That technology can help Africa's poorest countries", said Pradeep Monga, Director of the Energy & Climate Change Branch of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), while attending the inauguration of Microsol solution. For the environment, Microsol is a green solution that guarantees zero greenhouse gas emissions, reduced deforestation and health problems owing to the clean production of heat and electricity. Also, Microsol use easily recyclable steel and aluminum components. Gilles Vermot Desroches, Senior Vice-President, Sustainability, Schneider Electric, announced: "All countries with high levels of sunshine are potential targets for marketing Microsol. However, because of its infrastructure needs, geographical location and economic models, Schneider Electric and its partners decided to focus their efforts on Africa". 

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Overlooked but not forgotten, solar thermal deserves a second look

By Pierre Bull. Posted December 4, 2013.  When Kevin Virkler’s daughter Megan takes a shower—the kind of long, hot shower that only an adolescent can take—he doesn’t worry anymore about how much warming up all that hot water is going to cost. The reason? Solar hot water heating. Solar hot water and heating, sometimes called solar thermal or, also, solar heating and cooling (because some cooling technologies are activated by heat), is a technology that’s more than 100 years old, invented first in Baltimore in the 1890s. Passed over in many of our attentions by its sexier cousin - solar photovoltaics, solar thermal has much to offer. In fact, a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that solar heating and cooling (SHC) in the U.S. could, by 2050:
  • Generate almost 8 percent of the nation’s heating and cooling.
  • Create more than 50,000 good paying jobs.
  • Save $61 billion annually on energy.
  • Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 226 million tons every year(the equivalent of taking 64 coal-fired power plants offline for good).
How it works: solar hot water heating, and SHC in general, are based on a simple principle, one we know well from parking our cars in the hot sun. “Something left out in the sun is going to get hot. And if you put glazing over it, that’s going to trap the sun’s heat,” explains Tim Merrigan, a solar thermal expert from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.   Residential solar thermal collectors, the most common type of solar thermal technology in use today, are pretty simple devices, usually just 4’ x 8’ black, metal boxes with glass covers that are mounted on roofs. Water or another liquid is piped through the box, to pick up the trapped heat. The hot water can be stored in a water tank; other liquids can be used to transfer that heat, or can power radiant heating systems or heat air to heat buildings or use as process heating in industry.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stevens Tech award-winning "solar smart house" to be C.S.U. San Marcos veterans center

By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal December 03, 2013 at 6:50 PM, updated December 04, 2013. An award-wining “solar smart house” designed and built by Stevens’ Institute of Technology students in Hoboken has been donated to California State University, San Marcos, to serve as a veterans’ center at the campus located near Camp Pendleton. “The opportunity to turn ‘Ecohabit’ into a functioning facility for returning veterans made the Solar Decathlon competition a truly meaningful experience for our students,” Dean of Stevens’ School of Engineering and Science Michael Bruno said in a statement. The building constructed in Hoboken won fourth place overall and second place among United States entries for the team in October’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which tasks global university teams with creating affordable, energy-efficient solar-powered houses. The 19 entries included teams from the Czech Republic, Canada and Australia. The team of 61 students from various disciplines built the high-tech house in Hoboken over the course of two years. It was built in two modules to facilitate shipping cross country. A groundbreaking for its installation was held at the campus on Nov. 8 and the house is to open next fall. It will function as a facility for veterans, service members and reservists to obtain GI benefits, register for courses, and access campus and career services. The 1000-square-foot home is equipped with solar shingles, a rainwater harvesting system and energy-saving heating, cooling and plumbing systems. And it was designed to learn from its occupants. “The smart detection system might notice that every morning at 7 a.m., you’re getting hot water for a shower, so it’ll learn that every day at 7 a.m., it should have hot water ready for you,” explained team communications manager Zak Moy. Every room in the house has a detector that monitors humidity, temperature and movement, and responds to maximize efficiency. Occupants can track how much energy they’re producing and using, and what appliances are drawing the most power.
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

San Bernardino County Ends Moratorium on Commercial Solar Development

BY JANET ZIMMERMAN December 02, 2013. San Bernardino County supervisors on Tuesday, Dec. 3, will consider new regulations for commercial solar energy projects — including where they should be built — and end a temporary moratorium on such development. The ban has been in effect since June, when county staff was ordered to develop location criteria, design standards and rules for processing applications. Bright Source Energy's Ivanpah solar development covers 3,500 acres of federal land in San Bernardino County. Supervisors on Tuesday, Dec. 3, will discuss new regulations for commercial solar development that would effect future projects on private property and other land in the county's jurisdiction. The Board of Supervisors also is expected to vote on a per-acre fee schedule for renewable energy projects. Officials said the move was prompted by a rush of applications from developers and complaints from desert residents and environmental groups about the projects’ impacts on sensitive species, and increased dust, blight and reflected light. The California Desert Coalition, a grassroots organization that advocates building renewable energy projects on previously disturbed land and rooftops instead of pristine desert, has urged its members to speak at the meeting. See rest of original article

Monday, December 2, 2013

Build Solar Farm on Moon's Circumference - Beam Microwaves Back to Earth

By NextGov.com  Shimizu, a Japanese architectural and engineering firm, has a solution for the climate crisis: Simply build a band of solar panels 400 kilometers (249 miles) wide (pdf) running all the way around the Moon’s 11,000-kilometer (6,835 mile) equator and beam the carbon-free energy back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which are converted into electricity at ground stations. That means mining construction materials on the Moon and setting up factories to make the solar panels. “Robots will perform various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground leveling and excavation of hard bottom strata,” according to Shimizu, which is known for a series of far-fetched “dream projects” including pyramid cities and a space hotel. The company proposes to start building the Luna Ring in 2035. “Machines and equipment from the Earth will be assembled in space and landed on the lunar surface for installation,” says the proposal.
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