301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


NREL Highlights
Solar Land Use

A new report published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the land use requirements of solar power plants suggests planners and developers tend to underestimate the acreage required for their projects. The study’s authors say they gathered data from 72% of the solar power plants installed or under construction in the U.S. and analyzed installations both in terms of their capacities and annual generation.

The report found a wide range of total land use requirements for solar power plants across technologies. Generation averages for total area requirements range from about 3 acres per GWh per year (GWh/yr) for concentrating solar power towers and concentrated photovoltaic installations to 5.5 acres per GWh/yr for small two-axis flat-panel PV power plants.

Across all solar technologies in terms of generation, the report says the total area average - which includes the full footprint of a bounded site - is 3.5 acres per GWh/yr, with 40% of power plants within 3 and 4 acres per GWh/yr. For direct area requirements - which measure just the acreage of the power-producing elements - the generation-weighted average is 2.9 acres per GWh/yr, with 49% of power plants within 2.5 and 3.5 acres per GWh/yr.

On a capacity basis, the total area capacity-weighted average is 8.9 acres per MW, with 22% of power plants within 8 and 10 acres per MW. For direct land use requirements, the capacity-weighted average is 7.3 acres per MW, with 40% of power plants within 6 and 8 acres per MW.

According to lead author Sean Ong, one of the interesting aspects of the study is the role of panel spacing on the amount of area a PV plant takes up.

“I was surprised to see that the efficiency of the modules used for PV plants did not necessarily lead to better performance per acre,” Ong tells Solar Industry. “The spacing of the solar panels had a much bigger impact.”

Ong says the solar plants that were the most productive per acre were those with serious siting constraints, such as plants built on landfills and brownfields in developed areas. The siting constraints force developers to pack more solar panels into a given area, Ong concludes. This should serve as welcome news to developers considering such sites for their projects.

Along with Ong, the report, “Land-use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States,” was written with NREL colleagues Clinton Campbell, Robert Margolis, Paul Denholm and Garvin Heath.


Solar Energy Index
Measures Annual Yield

Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts now outrank California, Arizona and New Mexico in the amount of money each ray of sunlight can generate for homeowners, according to a new analysis of rooftop solar from Geostellar, developer of a marketplace for connecting homeowners with installers of residential solar power systems.

Geostellar says its new Geostellar Solar Index, which it plans to update quarterly, measures and compares the profitability of investments using solar radiation data, electricity rates and financial incentives for residential solar from governments and utilities. Ratings for each state plus Washington, D.C., are expressed as percentages representing the internal rate of return - the percentage of an investment in a photovoltaic power system that can be expected annually over a 25-year operating life.

According to Geostellar, California, Arizona and New Jersey - the top three solar states by installed capacity in 2012 as ranked by the Solar Energy Industries Association - are not among the top five states in the index. Tax credits and other incentives in New York and Connecticut have helped propel those states toward the top of the Geostellar Solar Index. Only Mississippi residents would pay more for solar energy than they would for the conventional electricity provided by the power grid, according to the index.

Geostellar says the index criteria include analysis of solar intensity on individual rooftops; county-by-county tax credits, rebates, renewable energy credits and other incentives; local utility rates; installed costs of solar; and other variables.

Geostellar says one of the key insights from its index is that local, state and federal tax credits and other incentives are the largest factors in determining the individual profitability of solar for the homeowner.


Distributed Solar To Hit
$112B Per Year By 2018

According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from distributed solar power generation will reach $112 billion annually by 2018. Driven by feed-in tariffs and the commoditization of photovoltaic modules, along with innovative leasing programs for residential solar installations, distributed solar PV systems are expected to see double- and, in some countries, triple-digit growth over the next five years, the report says.

At the same time, Navigant says, solar PV trade disputes are expanding around the world at different points in the value chain, creating uncertainty for many companies, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. China, already the leader in manufacturing, is anticipated to install more solar PV systems domestically in 2013 than any other country, according to the report.

The report, “Distributed Solar Energy Generation,” analyzes the global market for distributed solar PV systems less than 1 MW in capacity and provides an assessment of the most important market drivers, technology trends and challenges faced by the growing distributed solar PV industry. Forecasts for average installed prices and annual installations, segmented by region, extend through 2018.


Veriown Energy To Focus
On Distributed Solar

Utility-scale energy developer New Generation Power has spun out a new company, Veriown Energy, to focus on commercial-scale distributed solar, distributed generation and microgrids.

The CEO of the new company is Steve Johanns, who joins Veriown from Eaton, where he worked on energy and infrastructure business development strategy for the central region of the U.S. Tom Levitsky, former director of global performance engineering for First Solar, joins Veriown as vice president of operations.

New Generation Power says it has established the Veriown Innovation Center (VIC), a joint partnership of Veriown and CogniTek Management Systems, with the goal of commercializing a number of patents and research and development assets. The VIC will focus on developing and commercializing distributed generation technologies without the need for subsidies.

Also as part of its launch, Veriown has partnered with the Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at the Illinois Institute of Technology to collaborate on commercial microgrid systems.


BrightSource Expands
Into China CSP Market

BrightSource Energy Inc. has signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with the China Power Investment Corp. (CPI) and the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute (CREEI) to develop concentrating solar power (CSP) plants and policies in China.

Under the MOU with CPI, BrightSource will be the technology supplier for the first commercial-scale CSP project as part of an energy and environmental cooperation agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and China’s National Energy Administration. The company says it was selected based on its experience with the development of the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System in California.

BrightSource and CPI will also track CSP technology developments for future cost reductions, work together to pursue relevant policy developments in China and explore collaboration in international markets.

Under the CREEI MOU, BrightSource will cooperate on issues regarding efficient utilization of solar power. CREEI was selected by China’s National Energy Administration to organize related parties to compile a national CSP handbook to help guide the development of future CSP projects.


GE, First Solar
Form Partnership

General Electric (GE) and First Solar have formed a technology partnership to advance thin-film solar cells and modules. First Solar has acquired GE’s global cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar intellectual property portfolio. In exchange, GE received 1.75 million shares of First Solar common stock. GE has agreed to retain the shares for at least three years.

The two companies plan to work together to improve CdTe solar module performance and efficiency at a manufacturing scale. In addition, GE Global Research and First Solar will collaborate on future technology development to further advance CdTe solar technology.

First Solar says its existing manufacturing sites will be used to further advance CdTe technology. GE has decided to cancel construction of its Aurora, Colo., solar panel manufacturing facility. The company had postponed the project in July 2012.

GE and First Solar have also formed a commercial relationship around solar inverter technology. First Solar says it will continue to purchase inverters from GE Energy Management for use in its global solar deployments.


JA Solar And Powerway
To Develop PV In Africa

JA Solar and Hong Kong-based manufacturer Powerway have signed a cooperation agreement to jointly develop the photovoltaic market in South Africa and other countries in the region. Powerway has set up a South African production facility producing solar tracker and fixed-tilt mounting structures and says it will start module production.

Under the terms of the agreement, Powerway will include JA Solar as the module supplier for projects it bids on in South Africa. The two companies will also cooperate to develop local content for their project bids.


Alstom And Soitec
Partner On French CPV

Alstom and Soitec have signed a cooperative agreement to develop concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) power plants. Under the terms of the agreement, Alstom will provide engineering services and power plant equipment, and Soitec will provide its CPV units.

The agreement follows the French Energy Regulation Commission’s call for 100 MW of solar capacity using CPV technology in whole or in part.


Kawa Capital To Acquire
Conergy Operations

Florida-based financial investor Kawa Capital Management Inc. has signed a letter of intent to acquire most of the global sales units from Conergy, as well as the necessary associated administrative, management and infrastructure functions of Conergy AG, including the brand name. The letter was also signed by Conergy’s management board and insolvency administrators.

Conergy filed for insolvency proceedings on July 5.

Kawa says its objective is first to acquire Conergy’s business entities that have not filed for insolvency. These include two German entities, Conergy Deutschland GmbH and Conergy Services GmbH, as well as subsidiaries in the U.S. and Canada, Singapore and Thailand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Cyprus and the U.K. The company says negotiations on further acquisitions are ongoing.


Crowded Inverter Market
Depressing Revenue

The global market for solar photovoltaic inverters is forecast to decrease by 5% to $6.7 billion this year, according to a report from IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc. However, IHS also predicts inverter revenue to rebound strongly in 2014, increasing by 11% to reach $7.3 billion.

Despite PV inverter shipments rising to 34.2 GW this year, average global inverter prices will fall by 11%, resulting in a decline in revenue, the report concludes. Inverter suppliers will face shrinking profit margins and increased competition. Even so, IHS says, several growth opportunities exist for suppliers in certain segments that will help inverter revenue to recover in 2014 and resume double-digit growth.

According to the report, the inverter price pressure that inverter suppliers are now facing is being driven by a number of factors, not the least of which is a rich field of competitors. Despite some recent major acquisitions in the inverter market, the inverter supplier base continued to fragment in 2012 as existing and new inverter suppliers expanded their presence in PV markets. IHS says the top 10 inverter suppliers accounted for only 57% of global revenue in 2012, compared to 66% in 2010.

The report says the global fall in average pricing is being compounded by a regional shift in inverter demand from Europe to more competitively priced markets such as China. IHS says a strong increase in the demand for high-power inverters, which typically have a lower price per watt, will also drive down global pricing and will not be unique to China. A number of the largest markets will continue to be focused on utility-scale installations and will see shipments of large inverters grow as a result.

In spite of the global pricing pressure for inverters, numerous opportunities are available for inverter suppliers in particular market segments. IHS forecasts that the three-phase, 250 kW and higher inverter market in Japan will grow from $50 million in 2012 to $290 million in 2013 as utility-scale projects are installed.

Also, IHS forecasts that the three-phase string market in the U.S. will double in 2013 to reach slightly more than $100 million as inverter suppliers expand their portfolios and offer a decentralized option to customers looking for an alternative to a central inverter in commercial systems.

While 2013 is forecast to be another challenging year for inverter suppliers as prices fall further, the report says opportunities will exist for inverter suppliers in key PV market segments, such as the U.S., Japan and China.


ABB Completes
Power-One Buy

ABB has completed its previously announced acquisition of Power-One. ABB says the transaction, valued at over $1.02 billion, brings it into the global solar inverter marketplace.

ABB’s main businesses are in the power and automation industries. Power-One employs almost 3,500 people, mainly in China, Italy, the U.S. and Slovakia.


Edison International
Acquires SoCore Energy

Edison International has completed the acquisition of Chicago-based SoCore Energy LLC, a developer of distributed solar power with a focus on commercial rooftop installations. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

SoCore Energy will become a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Edison International. SoCore Energy’s management team, employees and operations will continue to be based in Chicago.

The company has participated in a number of installations for retail store chains, including Walgreens and IKEA.


Real Goods To Acquire
Mercury Solar Systems

Real Goods Solar Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire New York-based installer Mercury Energy Inc. in a merger transaction.

Real Goods Solar says it will issue 7.9 million shares of its class A common stock, subject to certain adjustments, as the consideration for the acquisition of Mercury. The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of each company. A representative of Mercury’s current board will be nominated to join Real Goods Solar’s board of directors.

According to Real Goods Solar, Mercury’s assets include approximately $10 million of cash with no debt. After the transaction closes, the cash balance will be available to Real Goods Solar for general corporate purposes and to accelerate the growth of the combined business.

Upon closing, Mercury will bring more than 50 employees to Real Goods Solar, including Jared Haines, co-founder and president, who will become vice president of sales at RGS Energy, the commercial and utility division of Real Goods Solar; Anthony Coschigano, a co-founder, who will become vice president of northeast operations at RGS Energy; and Andrew Zaref, Mercury’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, who will become vice president of project finance at Real Goods Solar.


New Solar PV Plant
Deal For The U.K.

According to the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), Birmingham-based SunSolar Energy and Meyer Burger of Switzerland have signed an agreement for the supply of a fully automated module manufacturing line. The Meyer Burger production line will be producing standard 60- and 72-cell modules and solar roof tiles.

The BPVA, of which SunSolar is a member, says the project will be implemented in three phases with a start-up capacity of 35 MW this year. Production is planned to increase to 75 MW in phase two and 135 MW in phase three by 2015. Meyer Burger is also a member of the BPVA. S

New & Noteworthy

NREL Highlights Solar Land Use




si body si body i si body bi si body b dept_byline

si depbio

author bio

si sh

si subhead


si first graph

si sh no rule

si last graph

si sh first item

si sh no rule